Archives for April 2014

How to Make Moving as Painless as Possible…Without Killing Your Significant Other

As you probably already know…we moved. Of course, most of our stuff is trapped in a gargantuan storage unit until we have our own house to put it all in. The last month has been a stressful disarray of OCD-gone-wrong. In order to make moving easirr for you than it was for me, I recommend the following. I got it all wrong the weeks before moving…but on moving day? I nailed it.

The weeks before moving…

  1. Tell your significant other that moving day is a whole week before it actually is. To do this, you’ll have to be in charge of the movers (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED). That way, when he waits until the last minute, you still have a whole week.

  2. Throw. Everything. Away. No, seriously. Throw it all put, because then you won’t realize the movers have zero room for your crap and end up making 5+ additional trips after the big day.

  3. Hire professionals to pack your shit. I mean, pack your lady things and personal shit, but have someone else individually  wrap every piece of glassware, dishware, chatchkis etc, so you don’t feel like your significant other is standing there watching you do all the work and telling you to throw the glassware away.

On moving day…

  1. Make sure everything you’ll need immediately is in your car. The movers don’t need to deal with that shit and you won’t have to dig through their pile of boxes to find it.

  2. Forget every preconceived notion that you had about the move. Drop all expectations except that your shit will be somewhere else in a few short (or long if you don’t follow these explicit instructions) hours.

  3. Put your significant other in charge of the movers. You no longer have a chair to sit in, and they’re about to take the dresser you’ve been sitting on while Facebooking. You probably dropped and cracked your phone while trying to entertain yourself…you don’t need to watch over them. Because you followed tip number 2.

  4. Go shopping. If you did, in fact, crack your phone, you’ll probably need a new one. And new home means you need some new clothes to put in it…especially if you threw everything away.

  5. Go out to lunch. If your brother’s a bartender, visit him and tell him it’s moving day and you’ve relinquished control. He’ll be horrified…first because you left your boyfriend in charge, then when you tell him you paid for movers. He’ll get over it and tell you to have a cheeseburger.

  6. Head to the new residence just as the movers are finishing up. They’ll be able to unload your car before they  roll out.

With these easy steps, you, too can avoid the drama of moving.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Chrissy and the Hot Dog Factory

I seriously had the best day ever. So I’m not sure if you remember that one time I walked head first into a pole because I was busy excitedly Skyping my co-workers? (If you haven’t read that, you probably should. Because it’s a prelude to this tale. Plus it’s funny. I’ll wait.)

Okay, fine. If you didn’t read it, long story short: I got on a 3-year waitlist for the Vienna Beef factory tour.

So fast forward to January when the company e-mails me to say, “Oh hey, by the way…you can’t come in September of 2016 because we’re moving to the Southside. So why don’t you come in April instead?”

Less than a year wait for something that people wait an entire lifetime (the lifetime of toddler, but a lifetime nonetheless) for?! Hell. Yes.

A brief look at the Chicago hot dog dynasty from the eyes of me

I grew up in a mom-and-pop Chicago suburb pub. My parents owned a bar from before my birth until shortly after my 25th birthday. My father prided himself on the highest quality Chicago-style hot dog and beef sandwiches. And they were the best. Because he used Vienna beef. I learned early on that the only hot dog is a Vienna beef hot dog.

The Vienna Beef Factory Tour

I knew it would be just like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory…only with the Willy Wonka of Meat Candy instead. And I would end the tour with a lifetime’s supply of hot dogs. (As it turned out, it was again a lifetime supply for a toddler, but a lifetime nonetheless. Okay fine it was a hot dog and fries, but the best hot dog and fries ever…with RED cream soda).

We were greeted at the back office by Danny, our Willy Wonka for the day.

Willy Wonka Welcome

He handed us hard hats and coats…hair nets and beard nets (I was not given a beard net for the 17 hairs on my chin).

Vienna Important Person - Vienna Beef Factory Tour

From the get-go, Danny seemed to know everything and anything about the factory. As we walked through the place, he greeted every. single. person. by name.

 

He told us that he had been working there since he was 16 and that it was most definitely a family operation. He explained that they tried as often as possible to hire friends and family members of employees, though they did of course have an application process for others, as well. I asked if he had family working their, and he gave us a knowing grin. I obviously assumed he had a parent or aunt/uncle who worked on the assembly line or in the offices.  As he said, “Pressing on,” I imagined he was wearing a purple coat and brown hat instead of the Vienna Beef jacket and hard hat. I was calling him Willy in my head, instead of Danny.

Willy Wonka Tour

Prior to attending this most-exciting event, I was told that it was a crazy idea. I was told I’d never want to eat a hot dog again. I was told about pink slime. But I was confident that these 100% beef hot dogs were made from the purest of cows.

As we made our way through the tour, we learned of their incredibly clean factory practices, including our required handwashing as we entered the factory (even though we didn’t touch anything), feet washing as we progressed from raw to prepared food, and the daily quality assurance taste test.

Willy Wonka Taste Test

At the end of the packaging process, once items are sealed, but before they’re boxed, there’s a metal detector to make sure that not even a single speck of metal from the machinery made it into the meat. It really felt like we were with Willy Wonka when we saw the conveyor belt slide open and drop a package of hot dogs into a bin after passing through the metal detector. Apparently that was a bad egg.

Bad Egg

 

Of course, we learned a lot about the process, too. The factory is pretty cold because obviously there’s the meat to think about. They also add ice to keep meat at the right temp-which is where the added water content comes from in the product ingredients. The strip off the external fat (which could have bacteria and stuff you don’t want in your hot dog or beef sandwich) from the meat that comes in, and dye it green right away so that it doesn’t end up in your food.

They make different meat products on different days, based on the demand and seasonality of certain products. Everything is designed to have complete uniformity, right down to the fat content. We got to check out the gigantic smoker with the hickory chips that they use in the smoking process just as the hot dogs were being removed. It smelled like heaven. Legitimately. During the daily taste-testing, employees taste products to ensure quality and maintain that uniformity. When we joined the tasting team, they asked us how we were enjoying ourselves, and of course, I looked at this guy and told him, “THIS IS THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE.”

I think he thought I was joking. But I wasn’t. Mostly.

We got to check out the gigantic smoker with the hickory chips that they use in the smoking process. It smelled like heaven. Legitimately.

And the tour ended with a free hot dog, fries and a drink from the Vienna Beef Factory Cafe.

Vienna Beef Hot dog and fries

It was magical and wonderful, and I’ll never eat a hot dog that isn’t from Vienna Beef again.

 

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Things I Think in Church – Easter Sunday Edition

You guys, I don’t want to sound like a heathen, because I’m totally not…I just don’t find myself frequenting the house of God. So on Sunday, when I showed up and made my mom cry (with joy) because I’m such a good daughter pretty much the best daughter ever, it wasn’t like a regular thing. Especially considering our move on Saturday (more on that later)…and our now living 35 minutes from my parents (and the church) instead of 15 from the parents and 10 from church.

Anyways, I started thinking (as I tend to do), and I couldn’t stop. So I figured you’d appreciate (if not commiserate) with me.

  • I think I’m having a panic attack. Okay, so to be fair, I did eventually figure out the problem…Before heading to church, I stopped at Walgreen’s for Easter basket treats for my favorite tiny humans. This means very little, except that as I was walking to my car, I started feeling that faint, OMG I’m dying and can’t seem to stop shaking thing. Of course, I realized quickly it was some type of caffeine spike or coming down from one…because (Whoops!) I used my Brew Over Ice coffee (highly concentrated) instead of regular Keurig coffee-without ice. So I slammed two of the chocolate-covered Peeps that were supposed to go in Easter baskets (I would have just had one, but you can’t give one kid a Peep and not the other…) and made my way into mass. I was shaking for the first 20 minutes.
  • I wish I had an Easter hat. Remember when you were a kid and you really actually got an Easter bonnet to wear each year? I’m going to start doing that.
  • Why didn’t I bring my phone in with me? I suppose it’s better this way…but when I finally started wondering what time it was-you know…15 minutes in, I had to scan the pews for a watch I could read.
  • Do you think Father is trying to punish the Chreasters or have a larger audience to talk about himself? After a 40-minute sermon, I was getting ancy. So I verbalized this question to my mom. Who looked at me funny. And asked what I meant by “Chreaster.” I explained (in a humored whisper) that a Chreaster is someone who shows up to church on Christmas and Easter. She chuckled and said, “Well, SOME people put Mother’s Day into that list.” Yeah Mom, I get the hint. I told her we call those CME’s. And she shushed me again. She never did answer my question though.
  • What TIME is it? I realized we hadn’t even gotten to the consecration (of course, when I whispered this to my mom, I called it “the kneeling part”) and I found a watch relatively close by….it was almost 1 o’clock already!
  • That kid is too old to be fucking around. There was a kid, probably 8 or 9 years old, laying down across the pew, sprawling himself out and just behaving like a very small child. I understand that there are many non-verbal things that could be going on with the child that I wouldn’t know about, but based on the fact that Mom kept picking him up and he kept laying himself back down, he likely just wasn’t listening to her. If that had been me? I’d have been taken outside and spanked…then brought back in and expected to sit quietly and behave for the rest of mass.
  • That guy’s pants are way. too. tight. Okay, so my mom was actually the one to verbalize this, but she was totally right. Don’t let your man wear tighter pants than you. That’s what I always say!
  • I really hope that people can’t hear what I’m thinking. I pretty much think this all the time, no matter where I am. Sometimes my thoughts are inappropriate as fuck and other times they’re just plain weird.

Unfortunately for my mom, I verbalized most of my thoughts, but whatever. There’s nothing more fun than making your mom cry and then laugh. But only if she’s crying the happy cry. Don’t be an asshole. Duh.

Did you go to church this weekend? Do you go to church? Do you think weird things when you’re supposed to be pensive and reflective?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Five Things Friday: Things I’m Going to Miss About my Train Line

This is it, Blog Friends. The big move. Today is my last day commuting on the BNSF Metra train line for a while. If you recall, we’re currently moving into Brian’s dad’s house while we begin the hunt for our very own house. As our new residence is only a temporary one, we may return to this commute someday soon, but we won’t know until we find our house. (Which is the most exciting thing EVER. I’m going to have SO MUCH TO TELL YOU. After I’m done packing up all of the shit I’ve accumulated in the last 18 months….or 31 years. One of those.)

But I wanted to reflect on the things I’m going to miss about this particular train line, because it’s been my daily commute for almost a year now. (And I’ve been riding the train for over a year.)

In no particular order,

5 Things I’m Going to Miss About my Train Line

  1. Train buddies.  It’s funny, when I was younger, I dated a guy who had a daily commute to the city and he would talk about having drinks with his train buddies, and I was just like…that’s a thing? Weird. And then I started taking the train every day. And I was in the same spot every day. And in the mornings, I stand in the first car vestibule. Every day. I know the conductor. I know the people. Because we’re in the same spot for 25 minutes every. Single. Day. And you jump into a conversation here or there (which Brian HATES that I do) and the next thing you know, you’re on a first name basis, telling everyone your life story. And then you’re buddies. And you’ll miss them when you leave.
  2. The funny conductor. My morning conductor, whose name is always on the tip of my tongue, but I can never remember, is hysterical. He’s always grumbling and making fun of Metra like it’s his job. I like him because he remembers me and doesn’t make me pull my pass out every morning. He also makes fun of the mean conductor (who was in charge of the cars that I originally sat in). He’s quite a likable fellow. Even though he rarely smiles.
  3. 25 minute commute time. I’m super lucky to have been living in a hub of commuters. Downers Grove is an express train line, and it’s the last stop on the inbound express. Which means I get on the train, and it’s non-stop to Union Station.  I’m going to miss that when I have a 45 minute train commute…tacking on lots and lots of extra time to my day.
  4. The fancy pants grocery store. So on our way home, we get off the train and there’s this adorbs grocery store that has delicious cheese for me and pico de gallo for Brian. It’s pretty much everything we need in our kitchen. Right there. So convenient. So delicious. I asked Brian the other day, “OMG where I am I going to get my cheese!? There are no fancy grocery stores or even Trader Joe’s nearby! I’m going to have to drive an hour to get cheese.” But then I remembered the cheese shop 4 blocks from my office and I could breath again.
  5. The evening conductor. Brian hates that I strike up conversations with strangers and he randomly gets sucked into them. HATES it. But I do. And he does. And one of those people is the evening conductor on our train. While we have separate commutes in the morning, Brian and I often train home together. And we sit in the same seats in the same car every day. And our conductor always stops and chats with us. More recently, he discovered that we are not, in fact, married. And now he teases Brian about it. Which makes me laugh.

It basically feels like I’m moving schools or leaving a job or something. It’s sad. Apparently wherever I go, I build my own little community. I love that about me.

What about you, Blog Friends? Do you have a routine that you would miss if you moved? Have you ever gone through this? Do you commute on a train? What’s the world like for you?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Two Hours in the Life of Me. A Typical Atypical Day.

The other day my morning progressed in the following fashion:

7:00 AM: Woke up. Late.

Got dressed. In the dark.

Packed some snacks for work and yogurt for breakfast.

Waited on Brian. (This is unusual as he is typically waiting on me.)

Gave Brian my gigantic umbrella. Used a tiny substitute.

7:42 AM Missed my train. By a millisecond.

Thought to self, So this is how the day is going to go.

8:25 AM Got to the city.

Walking to work, I looked down at my shirt. Inside out.

Got to the elevator.

Thought to self, If the ‘vator is empty…

Then people jumped on. Got to the 16th floor.

Realized I didn’t push the 13.

Thought to self, So this is how the day is going to go.

Pushed 13. Flipped shirt outside in.

Elevator opened.

8:45 AM Got to desk.

9:00 AM Looked for yogurt. Left bag at home.

Thought to self, So this is how the day is going to go.

And the day pretty much continued like that.

Sometimes, I feel like this is the norm moreso than it is unusual for me. Inside out shirts, forgetting things at home, not paying attention to where I’m going, fixing the problem in the most inappropriate way ever…I mean, if anyone had gotten on the elevator between floors 15 and 14, they would have gotten a much better view. Also, I think there’s a camera in the elevator. Whatever.

If you don’t believe me, here are a few additional examples.

That one morning when all hell broke loose with the broken glasses and the freezing and the ugh right before vacation.

That other morning when I was a little late to work because I forgot my keys

That time I got a concussion because of a no parking sign and the Willy Wonka of meat candy.

That other time I almost died because of an invisible wire.

I mean, at least it’s spread out over the course of several months, right?

Me on a good commuter day (okay, fine...this was on my way home.)

Me on a good commuter day (okay, fine…this was on my way home.)

Why do we rush around so much? What’s your rushed morning look like.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Every Two Seconds Someone Punches Someone Else in the Arm-And That’s Why We Can’t Have Nice Things…or World Peace

A conversation Brian and I had this morning had me in tears I was laughing so hard. I had every intention of getting on the train and typing it in my phone so that I didn’t forget it. And then I got on the train and got all chatty…and boom. It was lost.

So when I went to write the post at lunch, I was all, SHIT! I forgot what we were laughing about. Or rather, what I was laughing about. Luckily, when you have a boyfriend as cool as mine, he’ll text you a little reminder. And then you win at life.

Brian: What do you want for your birthday?

Me (thinking): I hate this question
Me (talking): I don’t know. World peace.
Brian: Okay. I will give you world peace. Two whole seconds of it.
Me: That’s impossible. The whole world is never asleep for the same two seconds.
Brian: No one has to be asleep. I will give you two seconds of world peace. You don’t have to trust me.
Me: You’re not going to give me world peace.
Brian: Yes I am. I’ll give you two seconds of world peace. It’ll be good. You’ll love it.
Me: It’s not even possible. Something bad happens in every second of every minute of every hour of every day of every week of…
Brian: No. I’ll give you two seconds.
Me: I don’t believe you.
Brian: You’ll get two seconds of peace. I swear. And I will tell you ahead of time so that it’s an actual prediction, but it’s up to you to confirm it. But you will probably punch me in the shoulder during that time out of spite like a typical human.
Me: I don’t have to punch you in the arm. It’s not going to be two seconds of world peace.
Brian: You’re going to punch me in the arm in those two seconds aren’t you?
Me: Yes.
birthday dessert

This. I want this for my birthday. Cheese in my dessert.

I hate it when people ask what I want for my birthday. So the next time someone asks, I want something really clever to say. Any ideas? What do you want for YOUR birthday?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Can Someone Come Over and Pack My Shit?

Hey Blog Friends.

Sorry about, you know…my mini-disappearing act. Things are getting hectic around here…we’re moving in T minus 11 days, and the only things that are packed around here are the Christmas dishes…because It was almost April and we were still using the Christmas dishes. Because it was too cold to bring up the non-Christmas dishes from the unattached garage…and then we were going to be moving. And so it was just silly to switch out dishes that were going to get packed up in less than a few months…and I’m totally making excuses, but as it stands now, we’re using paper plates and really crappy paper bowls and sometimes eating soup out of mixing bowls or small pots. Basically we’re doing exactly what I typically call Brian out on through Instagram photos.

So maybe there are a few more things packed. Like the pot that I thought I needed the other day. And about 70% of my game collection is living at my parents’ house (which seems to both disgust my mother and impress my brother) because 1. I can’t bear to leave it all in storage without easy access, 2. You can only fit a couple of games in a single box and 3. I’m afraid of the amount of storage unit space they would take up…And there are bigger fish to fry in the storage unit.

Okay, and I’ve gone through two rounds of clothes packing. Two rounds of, I don’t think I’ll need these clothes for the duration. Two rounds of, Dear God please let us not still be there when fall comes back because I have some ridiculously cute fall clothes that I’m rolling up into storage bins. Two rounds of, I really should probably donate these pants that are 4 sizes smaller than my current pant size, but I don’t care because I really like them. 

Our weekends are filled with birthdays and weddings and anniversaries and a million other things that keep us ridiculously busy…and unpacked. And of course, even though we live in the same residence and share all the things…everything but the computer stuff, several random boxes of randomness that haven’t been unpacked since we moved here 18 months ago and his clothes seems to be mine. And Brian keeps saying that he doesn’t want to pack my stuff (as in my kitchen stuff, my bathroom stuff, my chatchkis, my art, my games, my linens, my food) because he feels he’ll inevitably do it wrong. Because packing is apparently one of my “things.” Okay, sure…I have a few OCD tendencies…I got a little crazy with TSA when they dug through my skunky Disney suitcase…okay and maybe he’s concerned that I’ll get upset or have to redo the packing…

But here we are with 8 days to pack up all our stuff and each day seems to fill up with work, gym, life, etc. So I’m going to ask nicely…

Can someone please come over and pack my shit stuff?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

I May Not Have Won a Bloggie, but I did Win a Dance Off and That’s Good Enough for Me.

So, y’all remember how I’m an elite Yelper, right? The other night, I attended a sweet Elite event at my favorite breakfast restaurant, which happens to conveniently live across the street from me…for 17 more days.

At this delightful event, we were served mimosas, crepes and French toast…in our pajamas. And you know how I feel about breakfast. I love me a pajama jammy jam if there ever was one, and any opportunity to wear my sparkle camo slippers in public is a big win.

There are sequins on them, I swear. Also, don’t judge my Polish cankles.

Anyways, so I found out at about 7 that the Bloggies went and lied, saying they were tweeting the winners on March 31, but really they did it on the 30th. Whatevs. I was over it with three swigs of my mimosa. (I was honored to be nominated for THREE flippin’ categories, and it makes my heart happy that y’all supported me in this endeavor. So thank you!)

But THEN the Yelpy community manager, Candice was all, “Hey there’s a dance off!”

And I was all, “Pants on dance off, right? No public pants off dance offs, right?” Because sometimes you have to confirm that shit.

My pal, V, was chanting like “Do it! Do it! Do it!”

And I’m thinking to myself, Fuck. I’m not wearing a bra…

And then I thought…But I have mad dance skillz. 

OBVIOUSLY, I danced anyway…

And tied for first place. It was a great honor for sure, because my dance moves were rocking (not). I did the running man, the twist, the Chrissy (basically bounce around like a fool until someone tells you to sit down before you hurt yourself) and many more. And I looked like an ass. But people think I’m funny…or they feel sorry for me and I got a gift card to go back and get me some corned beef hash bennies (it’s the best corned beef hash ever. Even better than my own corned beef hash recipe!) *drool*

And here’s a video created by one of my favorite Yelpvendors Andres D., photographer/videographer extraordinaire!

Have you ever participated in or won a dance off? What did you win? Would you do it? What would you dooooo for a Klondike bar (or an ice cream sandwich cake)?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!