Happy Tuesday, I’M NOT DEAD!!!


“Well, Hello There,” She said sheepishly. . .

You guys, I have been meaning to write this update on our whereabouts and upto’s for over a year.  I started a couple times.  I have half written drafts titled “Happy Summer, I’m not dead!” and then “Happy Holidays, I’m not dead!”  Clearly those didn’t come to fruition.  So where the Hell’s bells have I been?  In the suburbs, that’s where.  Yes, Otherhalf and I left the hustle and bustle and delicious food of Chicago for the slightly less hustly and bustly western suburbs.  We’re still figuring out the food part out here.

Last year my parents scooted to Washington state and moved in with my Grampa who turned 97 in June (effing 97, you guys!!)  Rather than sell their house, Otherhalf and I moved our happy asses in and pay them rent instead.


now we mow the lawn and try to keep my mom’s plants alive!


I left my dental assisting job, where I was for 11 years, and signed up for the massage therapy program at Elgin Community College.  Say Whaaaat?? Actually this is something I have always secretly wanted to do, and so when the opportunity for change came along, I jumped on it and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.  I freaking love it.  LOVE. IT.  I just finished the full time program (with straight A’s btw, nbd) and passed the state licensing exam last Wednesday.  I adult studented so hard!!!  School has been a serious time and energy suck, which is mostly why I have been absent from the facebooking and instagrammy things. (also because apparently I’m a little superstitious and wanted to wait until I passed my licensing exam before coming out of the woodwork, because how embarrassing would that be . . .)  I also work reception at a local chiropractor’s office.

Otherhalf was hired to teach 5th grade at a suburban school out in the cornfields, exactly one week before classes started last year.  He is already being requested by parents at said school and started year numero dos last week.  He very much likes not driving in Chicago traffic anymore and is happy as a clam in the burbs.  He’s training for that marathon thing again this year.  At least now he has his own personal massage therapist to help him recover from those 17 mile practice runs.  Woot!!

So for the past year I have done lots and lots of studying.  Kedzie was always a big help there.


This is Special Agent Dana Skull-y, and some health care humor.  (I’m a nerd now)


We managed to go camping with some friends a couple weekends ago in Wisconsin and hung out in the Dells one afternoon.  Posing for photos with large cheeses is encouraged.

Also this happened at some point.


These girls just don’t do this sort of thing, which made me think one of them was dying…

So that’s pretty much what’s my up to.  (That sentence is either horribly wrong or amazing.  Let’s go with amazing.)

As far as this blog is concerned, I might put some stuff up here and there.  Or I might not.  I have changed some of my eating habits as a part of being more healthful in general.  Maybe some of that will end up on here.  We’ll see where life takes us.  Until next time, keep it real.  Or whatever.   And now I’m off to apply for my license, so I can put the initials LMT after my name.  How cool is that?  I’ll leave you with a pic of me and three of my classmates at our graduation picnic yesterday.


It was a perfectly perfect day for a picnic with these awesome ladies.







Hey!  Remember me?  I am still here.  I think.  So, fall has arrived in Chicaca.  School is in full swing for Otherhalf.  Blah dee blah dee blah. . .   Let’s get down to business, shall we?

We have been bad.  (This sounds vaguely familiar . . . )  Otherhalf and I have been eating a lot of desserts.  We got into the cinnamon rolls at Mariano’s.  Not the iced ones.  The ones with the cream cheese frosting.  This is all fine for Otherhalf, as he is training for the Chicago Marathon (which is next SUNDAY!!), and doing plenty of cardio.  He is looking real good.  I, on the other hand, have been lacking severely in the essersize department, and this girl is feeling icky and sluggish and gross.  I was hoping to train vicariously through Otherhalf by being supportive, but it don’t work that way.

Womp, womp.

But all is not lost!!  I actually got my ass on the bike yesterday AND today.  I am going to make it a thing!  And when I feel the need to eat better, I flip through the recipe notebook that Rinny and Nick shared with me through Evernote.  They do lots of Paleo recipes (which is pronounced “PAY-lee-oh” not “puh-LAY-oh” like I was saying in my head all this time), so there are some recipes I never would have searched out, but it’s nice to have some healthy alternatives to satisfy my wicked sweet tooth, and I’m usually game for something new to try.  I had a sweet potato that was sitting around, and a bunch of dates that I needed to use up before they expired, so I decided to try this recipe for “Chocolate-Mint Cookie Dough Bites” which came from THIS website.


As did this lovely photo.

And it really really reminded me of Chef from South Park and his Chocolate Salty Balls.  Remember this guy?  Sing it, Chef!


So I threw them together to try ’em out.  They were so easy to make.



Process the bejesus out of 1 cup of coconut.  And then process some more, so it’s almost powder.  Add 1/2 cup mashed sweet potato (I cut a small one into cubes and steamed it.  Took 5 minutes.), 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa, 3/4 cup chopped dates, a big ol’ pinch of sea salt, and 1 tsp. of mint extract (I didn’t have mint extract, I only had almond and vanilla.  I added 1/2 tsp of each as I think an entire tsp of almond extract would be gross.)  Process and scrape, process and scrape . . .



lookin’ kinda chocolatey!!

. . . and process again until you end up with a dough ball.  Then roll that brown dough into some balls.  You can make big balls or little balls, but the best size is whatever fits in your mouth!  OH!


Refrigerate these bad boys (yes, they are boys) and periodically grab one out of the fridge and pop in mouth.  I have had like 4 or 5 already this evening, which ain’t no big deal, cause they’re made out of sweet potato and dates!  They are in no way a substitute for actual real cookie dough.  But if you go into it knowing it’s a healthy alternative, they ain’t half bad.  Next time I am going to really actually use mint extract and see how that goes.






Otherhalf and I were on vacation two weeks ago.  We spent most of our time at the family timeshare in Arkansas, tucked away on a lake in the Ozarks with my parents, brother, grampa, and some dear friends.  We had many adventures and drove on lots of twisty, turny, hilly roads.  It’s very picturesque there, but alas I didn’t take any pics of scenery . . .  so here’s some deer my mom shot.


With her camera, people!    with. her. camera.


At the end of the week we drove to the Bentonville area to visit my lovely RInny and her husband, Nick.  Aren’t they cute?


Rinny and I have been BFFs since the third grade when we both lived in Houston.  When I was in the fifth grade my family moved to Tulsa, and her family moved to Connecticut the year after.  We have been long distance friends for almost the entire span of our relationship, and I think it speaks to the kind of bond that we have always shared.  Sure there are lapses in our communication, but we always pick up right where we left off, and there is a definite comfort in that.

Aaaanyways, I digress.  It had been five years since I had seen her cute face in person.  At our wedding.  And that is not okay.  Needless to say, we were both reeeally looking forward to this visit.  Especially so that our man friends could hang out and get to know each other better. Nick and Rinny were awesome hosts and really showed Otherhalf and I a good time with lots of excellent food and visits to some of their favorite spots around northwest Arkansas.

We visited this place for lunch.



They source locally as much as possible and use up all dem animal parts.  Everything but the squeal, as the saying goes.  There’s a big ol’ chalkboard on the wall that tells you where your food is coming from.



So what better way to start our meal than with some fried pigskins?  Duh.  They were savory and crispy and light.  Er, maybe not light, but very lightweight!


crunch crunch oink


For entrees, the guys split a couple of burgers.  Rinny got a HUGE steak salad.  Like an entire head of lettuce.  And I had the fish and chips.  Now why on earth would I get fish and chips at a place that specializes in livestock??  Cause it was the special of the day, and it was CATFISH.  And I haven’t had catfish in fuh-evah.  It was delicious!!  Perfectly breaded and fried.  And the slaw they served with it was uh-mazing.  Tangy and zippy and surprisingly spicy!  So good.  Although, looking back now, the catfish was not listed on the chalkboard of fun . . .  oops . . . oh well.



Then we decided to head to the Italian place next door for dessert.  I had the chocolate creme brulee.  Otherhalf had the tiramisu, and Rinny had the tres-leches-from-freakin’-heaven cake.  It was ridiculous, and I don’t even really like tres leches cake.  Nick was a good boy and had the French press.

Photo Aug 17, 11 43 08 PM

We went back to their house and played with their two rescue pups, Bella and MAXIMUS DECIMUS MERIDIAS.  These dogs hit the rescue jackpot.  I wish I had a picture of Max sitting on the couch like a hooman.  It’s hilarious.

20140809_173930 20140809_174336

Over the course of our stay, we went to Fayetteville’s farmers’ market in the square, stopped at a HUGE and awesome used book store, hit up a couple of antique shops and art galleries, ate at Hugo’s on recommendation of friends of theirs and another friend of mine- totally delish, but totally in a basement with terrible lighting for taking blog photos.  And then back to Bentonville for the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art  which was superb.  It is a world class museum designed by architect Moishe Safdie, and brought to you by the Walton family. And it’s a free public museum.  Here’s some pishers.





This guy was fun.



So was this guy.



This is Crystal Bridges.  I just want to eat this building.





Until we meeeeeeeet aaaaagaaaaain . . .

We had so much fun and it was way too short, but it sure felt good to sleep in my own bed.  Any fun summertime adventures going on out there with you???

Hot Diggity Dog!!



It was announced a couple of weeks ago that a Chicago favorite, Hot Doug’s Sausage Superstore and Encased Meat Emporium, will be closing it’s doors in October.  Apparently Doug is ready to move on to something else, and while it’s disappointing that Hot Doug’s will be no longer, who are we to keep him from finding something else to rock?  After meaning to go for the longest time, I finally made a trip there to see what all the hype was about.  You gotta go on Friday or Saturday for the full experience.  They cook the french fries in duck fat those days.  And you gotta bring cash, cause Hot Doug’s don’t do plastic.  And you gotta go knowing that you may be standing in line for a while.  We got there about 10 minutes before they opened on a Saturday morning.  It was still quite cold out, so there was only a few people in line already.  I feel this was a very smart move on our part, as I have heard of people waiting in line for over an hour just to get in the door.  When they opened the door, we walked in and there at the counter was Doug, ready to take orders.  I recognized him from the TV, as he is a bit of a Chicago celebrity.  (I want to say something totally cheesy here like, “Doug is like the Oprah of hot dogs,” but I won’t.)  He seems genuinely happy to see his customers, and you better believe his customers are happy to see him!


like this girl here

We placed our order and then took a seat and waited patiently for our number to be called.  The place is all bright and cheery, like a hot dog place should be.  You can see some of the decor behind Otherhalf.


Otherhalf is also excited, but he’s been here before and is not geeking out like me. This is his “politely letting the wife take pictures for her silly blog” face.

A bunch of the dogs are named for famous people, but the names change frequently.  And then they have specials.  We decided to get four dogs and some fries and do sharesies.  Otherhalf ordered a traditional Chicago dog, and the infamous foie gras dog.  I opted for a corn dog (because I freakin’ love corn dogs, and HELL YES I am going to try a corn dog at the Sausage Superstore and Encased Meat Emporium!!), and a fancy one (reindeer sausage maybe??) with smoked gouda and fig jam or something.  I don’t really remember exactly, but it was totally tasty.  And of course we got the duck fries.  Holymoly those are so good.



Okay, let’s talk about this foie gras dog for a minute.  I say it is infamous because there was this whole political controversy where foie gras was actually outlawed in Chicago for a couple of years thanks to an alderman and his buddy Charlie Trotter (may he rest in peace), and Doug was the first person who was fined for continuing to serve it.  He even named the dog after the alderman.  Like a boss.  You can read about it in the Wiki here.

So this dog is a sausage made with foie gras and sauternes (which I just had to Google – it is a French white wine) which is topped with truffle aioli, foie gras mousse and fleur de sel (which I also had to Google – it is a fancy hand harvested sea salt).  It was freakin’ decadent.  And it only cost ten bucks.  Pretty sweet deal, considering.


mmm . . . moussey goosey!!!!

And then they were all gone . . .


killed it.

Overall, Hot Doug’s was worth the wait, and the hype.  This guy knows his sausages.  I hope to visit one more time before it’s all over.  Go get some before you can’t anymore.  Do it.

The Waiting is the Hardest Part


Hello readers!!  I am finally back to having the option to post after two whole weekends without internet.  (GASP!)  I know I haven’t actually posted anything since March, but in the last two weeks I really wanted to.  Probably because I couldn’t.  Funny how that works.    Anyways, here’s another ramen bit from Otherhalf.  He actually wrote this in March, which really is only noticeable in the parts about how cold it still is.  Even though it has been an unseasonably cold spring, today it was actually in the 80s.  (I apologize to anyone who I may have blinded with my pasty white legs today, because this girl wore shorts!!)  


“Waiting on Wasabi”  by Otherhalf

So daily temps are finally approaching seasonal norms and what better way to celebrate than with a super tasty bowl of ramen? And so we traversed the mean streets of Chicago through inane waves of never ending traffic, red light camera traps, and pot holes that seemingly serve as gateways to hell and arrived at our vaunted destination, Wasabi, in Chicago’s hip and trendy Bucktown neighborhood. I’ve been to this restaurant a few times with some close friends and family and was very grateful to be back as it had been over a year since our previous visit.

We arrived at seven on a Friday night and were greeted by a full restaurant with happy customers slurping away over their bowls of ramen amidst delicious appetizers and BYOB bottles of wine and beer alike. This is always a sure sign of a good meal ahead. It’s also a sure sign of the wait you may have to endure as Wasabi does not take reservations and only does walk-up service. Now as part of a group of 4, you have to factor in a pretty decent wait time especially since it’s 7 on a Friday night, the restaurant is full, and every other party ahead of you in line seems to be a group of 4. Surprisingly, the supposed “wait time” was 30 to 35-minutes, which is not too shabby considering the conditions. But as it always seems to happen when you are enjoying a wonderful meal, you take your time, which is what everyone in the restaurant seemed to be doing. In all honesty, it’s hard to blame them. You’ve put your name in with the host or hostess, you’ve waited in line, and now you’ve finally been seated. Time to savor this meal!


When you’re on the other side of the glass waiting though, all you can think about is why the hell can’t everyone inside eat faster?! At the promised 30 to 35-minute mark, it seemed that no one in front of us had moved. Now bear in mind, as much as temps have improved in Chicago lately, it was still only about 30 degrees or so, and after waiting this long, you start to feel it a little bit. Not only that but suddenly all you can hear are the conversations around you because you’ve used all your good material and can’t think of anything else except sitting down to eat because you haven’t eaten since a small snack earlier in the afternoon because you knew that you would do something Friday night but weren’t quite sure what so you didn’t want to ruin your potential appetite because you know you may be eating something or somewhere that had the potential to be awesome and once you’ve made the decision and you know where you’re going and what’s waiting for you when you’re finally seated, you’re thoughts become laser focused and that throbbing sound you hear is the repeated hammering of the word ramen, ramen, ramen as it is blazes across the depths of your mind. And then, your name (or phone in this case) is called and you and your group are now the chosen ones! Life is pretty sweet again.

Even though we waited over an hour to be seated, we were very grateful for it since it was placed near the back of the restaurant away from the riff raff that we were once a part of. In short, we didn’t have to worry about eating quickly and could enjoy a nice relaxing meal without any hint of guilt. Not that you should feel guilty about taking your time and enjoying a meal with friends and family anyways, but it’s always so much easier to do so in anonymity rather than in front of a large window affronted by groups of gawking, hungry strangers. It’s a comfort thing I guess. An added bonus was we got to sit in a booth instead of a table. All in all, the wait was worth it. The hostess was very gracious and apologetic about the wait, and the restaurant setting provided a feeling of warmth and comfort. Now… let’s eat.


this is a view of the bar and food prep area from our cozy booth.

We started with some appetizers, which included pork belly buns (the light fluffy buns and crispy lettuce provided a great contrast to the wonderfully rich pork belly), skewered chicken meatballs (great chicken taste with a light grilled flavor finished with a brush of rich soy sauce), grilled asparagus skewer (good clean asparagus flavor with a light bitterness), chicken lollipops (fried chicken legs served with a wonderful creamy sauce), and a decadent piece of o-toro or fatty tuna belly, which was absolutely divine. In baseball terms, these appetizers loaded the bases full of runners for the vaunted clean-up hitter, ramen, to hit it out of the park and turn this dinner into a grand slam.


these are the pork belly buns. and this photo is the reason there are no other food photos.

In this case the bowl of ramen was a tonkotsu style ramen. It’s a type of ramen that utilizes pork as one of its main flavoring agents, and boy did it shine through in spades. The ramen broth was opaque and somehow creamy, but without any fear of the ingredients in the broth settling, which to me is kind of remarkable. There seemed to be a density to the broth all its own that was packed chock full of a rich meaty flavor with a seeming tinge of seafood beyond that provided by the sliced nori topping, at least to my palate. In addition to pickled bamboo slices, the ramen was accompanied by braised pork belly that was absolutely majestic. Instead of being overly break apart tender, the braised pork had a wonderful chew and fatty marbling that provided a great companion to the ramen noodles. There was a very rich soy sauce and star anise like flavor to the braised pork that provided a savory almost barbeque type character. This flavor only served to fortify the rich flavor of the broth. It was a great combination. The noodles themselves were also really good. They weren’t too soft or overly firm. Overall, Wasabi is a great place to get a really good bowl of ramen.
While the wait wasn’t exactly fun, the resulting dinner was really wonderful. If you’d like a chance to experience some great Japanese fare that utilizes modern tricks and techniques to augment tried and traditional ways in addition to an absolute great bowl of ramen, give Wasabi a try. Don’t be disheartened by the wait, think instead of the great meal ahead.



For the most part, Otherhalf and I try to eat relatively healthy.  Sometimes we do pretty good.  Often times we are very naughty.  Recently we have been on a cereal kick.  And I ain’t talking about no Kashi.  It’s all Cookie Crisp and Capt’n Crunch up in here.  The weekends are particularly difficult too.  We tend to eat out a lot and partake in highly caloric indulgences as a reward for getting through the week.


Hey, we EARNED those hot dogs!!

I have been trying to add some healthy snacks to counteract some of the naughty ones.  Naughty like the two bags of Starburst Jellybeans I have almost finished.  And the Girl Scout Cookies.  And the Ghirardelli Chocolate Squares that one of Otherhalf’s students gave him for Valentine’s Day (and by proxy ME because he doesn’t really eat chocolates).  Oh, and all the cereal.

So when my coworker gave me a bag of chia seeds, I decided to give them a try.  They are supposed to be all sorts of healthy for you with the omegas and the fiber and they have hella calcium.  Basically chia seeds are the new kale (which was the new pomegranate).  I Googled some recipes, cause I’m not likely to sprinkle these mofo’s on my yogurt, thankyouverymuch.  The first recipe I made was these Lemon Chia Seed Muffins.


They are just like lemon poppy seed muffins. With a lemon glaze. TASTY!

Then for my next adventure, I decided on these Raw Hemp and Chia Seed Bars.  I thought they would be good for us to toss in our lunches for a quick, filling, “energy packed” snack.  These are what I will share with you today.

pretty bars

photo from Karielyn at www.thehealthyfamilyandhome.com
(this is what after photos are supposed to look like)

. . .

**Oh, and FYI, these are by no means low-fat or low-calorie snacky treats.  Coconut oil is super high in fat.  But it’s the good fat, and all the stuff in these bars is good for you.  I like to have one with the ginger tea I have been drinking lately.  I did not use entirely organic ingredients like the recipe asks, but I think both myself and Otherhalf will live.  So let’s get to it, shall we??

. . .

My ingredient pile:


Hemp seeds, Almonds, Flax Seeds, Chia Seeds, Oats, Almond/ or Peanut Butter, Vanilla Extract, Coconut Oil, Honey, Apple/ or Applesauce
(Oh, and Unsweetened Coconut Flakes- not pictured.) 

First you put all the dry ingredients together.  The recipe calls for flax seeds to be ground up in a spice grinder, but I don’t have one, so I used my trusty mortar and pestle.  Well that was a pain in the ass.  I will be ordering a spice grinder for future hippie snack bar endeavors.


Then you gotta pulverize the almonds in the food processor.


Here’s my fancy dry ingredient class photo:


. . .

Then it’s time for the wet ingredients.  After I got all the ingredients together for the initial photo, I realized I forgot to buy applesauce.  GAAAAHHH!!!  But it’s cool, I had an apple, so I just made the applesauce from scratch.


peel and chop apple + cook with a little water for like 10 minutes + mash with fork + remember you have an immersion blender (!!!) + blend = Perfect Applesauce!

And then I was like, “If I can make applesauce, then surely I can just make the almond butter!  Duh!”  So I ditched the peanut butter and made almond butter too.  It was a very satisfying process.


I heart my immersion blender.   Except that when I was making the almond butter, I may have been wielding my little blue spatula a little too close to the whirring blades.  Poor, poor spatty.


This isn’t the first time I have maimed my cooking utensils. Remember poor spoonie?

. . .

Then I combined the wet ingredients


Then I dropped my damn phone in the batter when I was mixing the wet and dry and trying to take a picture at the same time.  It turns out I am not very graceful in the kitchen.



So once I got all the goo off my phone, and mixed the wet and dry together, I just pressed the mixture into an oiled pan and put it in the fridge to set.


In the morning, I cut ’em into little 2×2 squares, and wrapped some of the squares in plastic wrap for transport.  These bars need to be refrigerated, otherwise all the coconut oil melts and they won’t keep their shape.  Then you would have to eat the bars with a spoon, which would defeat the purpose of having them in portable bar form anyways.  I took a bunch to work to keep in the fridge, and Otherhalf has a freezable/ ice pack/ lunch bag that he takes to school.



. . .

I gotta say, I am pretty happy with these little munchies.  I will be making them again.  They are definitely dense and will fill you up.  And then probably make you poop because of all the fiber.  I am not speaking from experience though. . .

What’s your favorite healthy snack?

A List of Things I Dig at the Moment


Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittehs . . .

I am sitting here tonight watching back to back broadcasts of the Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for Humor (Carol Burnett, Tina Fey, Ellen DeGeneres) on PBS and eating too many Starburst jellybeans (not the green ones though).  I was sprucing up my blog a little – what do ya think??- and decided to make one of them lists of things I like at the moment.

1.   Crabtree and Evelyn’s Pomegranate, Argan & Grapeseed Ultra Moisturising Hand Therapy

ImageMy sister-in-law gave me a gift set for the holidays with shower gel, lotion, hand scrub, and this amazing super duper hand cream.  It’s real silky, but not greasy, and it smells delicious and fresh and not too perfumey.  I pretty much bathe in it right before bed.

2.   Bragg’s Organic Apple Cider Vinegar

ImageI have a good friend who is in school learning acupuncture and oriental medicine.  Any time I have a weird ailment I consult him.  I look at it as a way to challenge him educationally and keep him on his learnin’ toes.  Recently I was having some “digestive” issues. (We’ll just leave it at that, shall we?)  Anyways, he recommended drinking a teaspoon or two of Bragg’s in hot water in the morning when I first get up.  I have been doing it for a week and already notice a difference.  It actually tastes pretty good.  I add a little honey.  Supposed to be good for weight loss too apparently.

3.   Ginger


If you scroll to the bottom of the link above, you can see why I REALLY like the ginger.

In addition to the vinegar tea, I am also making ginger tea and taking it to work.  I cut 3-4 slices of fresh ginger and pour boiling water over in my travel mug.  By the time I schlep my ass to the train, it is good and steeped and has cooled off a bit so I can drink it.  Settles the gut and warms the tummy.

4.  BOGS


These are not my actual pair of Bogs, because I got mine like two years ago.  BUT this year in particular I am really appreciating my Bogs.  They absolutely keep my feet warm and dry.  I do have to wear an extra fluffy pair of socks over my regular socks because they don’t have half sizes and my Bogs are just a touch big. But it’s all good as the fluffy socks add to the warmth factor.  Otherhalf has a pair too.  His don’t have flowers though.  Often when we go running around in the snow and the slush and the muck, and some poor suckers are out in their sneakers or some other inferior footwear, Otherhalf and I cruise through puddles and say, “Thank you, Bogs!”  I love them, but at the same time I just don’t want to wear ’em anymore.


thank you, Bogs!!

5.  Crabbie’s Original Alcoholic Ginger Beer


Okay, so I just tried this yesterday at The Bad Apple, but I can tell it’s going to be my beverage of choice come summer.  It’s from Scotland, so hopefully it won’t be too hard to come by in these parts.  Pour this zippy carbonated libation over a glass of ice and add a slice of lemon or lime (it says to right on the bottle), and you’ve got yourself a refreshing, well balanced, delightful treat.

Well there you have it.  I realize that three out of these five things are beverages, and two of those beverages have ginger in them.  Huh.  That’s just how I roll, I guess.  What’re you in to these days?