Wednesday, January 28, 2009

RIP John Updike

I dare you to read the following excerpt from a piece John Updike wrote for the New Yorker about the pleasure of drinking water and not immediately realize how thirsty you are.

"Think of it: pipes running through the earth below the frost line and up unseen from the basement right through the walls to bring you this transparent flow, which you swallowed down in rhythmic gulps—down what my grandfather called, with that twinkle he had, behind his bifocals, “the little red lane.” The copper would bead with condensation while you waited for the water to run cold enough."

If you'll excuse me, I have a date with a water fountain.

Great post found via Serious Eats.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Get back to you later.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Frog Dog

That's Monsieur Milo to you.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Where were you?

I was pressed into our crowded, but silent employee cafeteria.

Hundreds of eyes glued to the television, and me drinking green, honey ginseng tea-swallowing hopeful lumps in my throat with every sip.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Went and saw Mortified tonight as the second portion of our Try New Things (TNT! Hell yeah!) club with fun friend Nikki.

For Part I on Saturday, we traveled North to Edgewater for Ethiopian food at Ras Dashen. After washing our hands like we were scrubbing in for heart surgery, we were ready for the shared, no-utensils meal. It reminded me a lot of Indian food (good thing!) with lots of layered spices, vegetarian items and copious amounts of bread. The Ethiopian bread was not quite as amazing as naan, but still good. Injera is flat, spongy and sour, perfect for scooping up the lentils, spinach, lamb and many other things we ordered.

Back to Mortified. The idea behind the project is that people use journals, photos, videos, letters, etc. from their childhood and "perform/read" them for the enjoyment of others.

My favorites were the slam poetry written by a closeted, lesbian 14-year-old girl and the letter from Nintendo to a video-game-obsessed boy who was urged to work to earn money to save up for the new, Super Nintendo he so desperately wanted (complete with examples of how to earn the money: yard work, newspaper routes, etc. Thanks for nurturing the spirit of capitalism, Nintendo.).

The show was opened and closed by the Blue Ribbon Glee Club (that's the PABST Blue Ribbon Glee Club to you, sir), which was noted as Chicago's finest Punk-Rock Choir. Awe. Some.

I got my new passport photo taken this weekend since mine will expire in March this year. Since I'm still holding out hope that I'll get to Japan to see Jenny sometime, I wanted to keep it current.

In the spirit of Mortified, I thought I'd share my old passport photo with you before saying goodbye to my 17-year-old self forever.

Before you get a good look, or if your eyes haven't already been captured by the madness below, remember that this is before I discovered make-up and also apparently before the invention of eyebrow tweezers.

I was trying SO!HARD! not to smile since they told me I wasn't allowed. Doesn't that just look like the face of a young girl, fresh with the exhilaration and opportunity to leave the country for the first time?

I had stopped by the local AAA office on my way to work (Shout out for LuLu's!) and just needed to get this photo taken so I could wing my way to France and England with the rest of my French class that summer.

This year's photo went much better I think. That Walgreens photo employee can really make magic happen with her white, roll-up background and cheap, digital camera.

Is that even the same person?

Apparently I'm quite a chameleon. I can blend in with late 90's Midwesterners better than Mayim Bialik. (and OH! how I longed for one of those obnoxious, flowered hats of hers. Side note: "opinionation" is not a word no matter how catchy your show's theme song is. Who wrote that, anyway? I'm guessing the same people who thought bootylicious deserved a spot in the dictionary.)

Anyway, I don't know if I'd really say I'm "mortified" for showing that picture. Maybe that truly embarrassing moment will wait until I post my 7th grade class photo. Not to get you too excited, but there were glasses, a silk shirt and an Elvis lip curl involved. Stay tuned.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Tea for Two

I did end up taking my Mom to afternoon tea at the Lobby at the Peninsula while she was visiting last weekend. We got snowed in on Friday and Saturday, but ventured out, dressed in snow boots and gloves on Sunday afternoon.

Sunday tea is later in the day, 4:00pm-6:00pm, since Sunday brunch takes up so much of the morning. This ended up being really nice since we got to see the city view from the Lobby's 20 foot windows during the day and all lit up at night.

We decided on doing the traditional tea and here's Mom with our tower of treats and balcony of live musicians in the background.

I'd already had a few cups of coffee at Kitsch'n that morning, so I was looking forward to a citrusy green tea of sorts (my favorite!). I never drink coffee, so I definitely didn't need anymore caffeine for the day. Unfortunately they only had two types of green, sencha and gunpowder. Neither of which sounded appealing, so I went with the decaf Earl Grey. It wasn't as potent as the Earl Grey I'm used to, but it was lovely and enough to last our entire, 90+ minute meal. Plus, the tea came in such pretty, short and stout teapots!

The tower of treats included a plate of desserts that included a mini key lime pie, an exquisite lemon tart, a chocolate cheesecake brownie, a homemade candy bar and others. Why are desserts infinitely better when tiny?

There were also a selection of savory finger sandwiches to give the illusion that you weren't only being served sugary treats for dinner. The curry chicken wrap and smoked salmon sandwich were my favorites, but I also loved the mini potato quiche, the grilled veggie sandwich and the extra cucumber sandwiches we got since my mom hates cilantro, an ingredient in the curry chicken wrap.

I was adamant about the inclusion of cucumber sandwiches since they're the basic staple of every "tea" I'd ever seen on t.v., in a movie or imagined for myself as a future trust fund brat. (Where I thought the trust fund was coming from, the world will never know. It's amazing what fantasies a 13-year-old's hormones can concoct.)

The real reason I'd wanted to have high tea was to get my hands on some more lemon curd and Devonshire cream. There was homemade jelly as well, but I only had one bite of scone with it since I knew there were better, lemony and creamy toppers to be had.

We each had two scones, plain and orange cinnamon, with an almond sandwich cookie and some buttery shortbread.

We also each got a fresh, sour cherry souffle straight from the oven and Mom got a special, birthday dessert with a candle.

Cause if there's one thing we were missing, it was more dessert.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Coupon Clipper

Just bought some pretty, pretty shoes online.

Two pair, actually.

And I bought them in separate orders to make sure I could use coupon codes on each.

It's hard to remember what my life was like before the existence of online shopping and bargain hunting. I've never gotten into the whole e-bay or craigslist thing. (Though I do like craigslist for apartment hunting, buying stuff from strangers just makes me think psychos have found a way to lure me to their house/secret torture chamber with promises of cheap IKEA furniture at bargain basement prices.)

I love online shopping, though. I mean, I really, really, REALLY love it. I like being able to sort by my size so I don't even fall in love with that cashmere wrap sweater that's only available in XS or XL. (My dream is to get really fat later in life so I can capitalize on all those great deals. I'm not interested in trying for the XS because I'm pretty sure I'd have to shrink some bones on my 5'9 frame and eating lots of ice cream sounds like way more fun.)

Shopping has always been pretty fun for me, but not like it is for most women I know. First of all, I'm poor. Or at least I was taught to think that way so spending more than $50 on an item of clothing still gives me nightmares of not being able to pay for college or having to *gasp* carry a balance on my credit card. Shopping is not fun when your buzz gets killed with every flip of the price tag.

I've tried shopping at places like TJ Maxx or Marshalls because every time I admire a friend's accessory or new purchase, I hear she "found it at (insert discount store here) for only $3.99! Can you believe it?" Actually, no. I can't. Every time I go into one of those stores I start to hyperventilate at the racks and racks of clothes with almost no organization. After 20 minutes of scraping through the racks, the best I've come up with is a leopard print skirt I could never pull off for $35. Is there some secret, super awesome discount back room I don't know about?

Second, I do not like retail crowds. Shopping in popular stores on the weekends completely overwhelms me. If there's a line to get into the dressing room, I start sweating and sprint for the door. Even if there aren't many people, but the racks are close together, I feel like I can't move and start sighing huffily at every person who dares to cross my path.

Third, when I peruse in-store sales, I NEVER FIND MY SIZE! Considering I can see the top of most women's heads, I can't figure out how there are so many people my size buying all the good clothes before I get there.

Fourth, I don't like to be helped. I also don't like to be asked "How ya doin' in there? Can I get you a bigger size?" while trying to squeeze my ass into a pair of jeans. I don't appreciate the hard sell and I don't care about giving you a commission. In fact, I might leave and come back later to buy my clothes without help from ANYONE just to deny you that small percentage. I am a petty and vengeful customer, I know.

This is why the beauty of online shopping is like my siren song. Of course I don't buy anything I can't return for free at a store or cheaply by mail, and I know I take some risks by not seeing things in person, but for $10.15 for a pair of Limited work pants? I'm willing to chance it.

After all, who doesn't like shoe shopping at 10:00pm while watching the Daily Show with a sleeping puppy by your side?

Speaking of sleeping, I need to gets me some of that.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Pizza Party

Made a second round of pizza with the leftover dough and took a couple photos.

Bubbly, cheesy goodness.

Pizza dough recipe from Smitten Kitchen with a few technique alterations cause I'm lazy and used my food processor:

Pizza Dough

Smitten Kitchen claims this makes enough for one, small, thin crust pizza. Um. I beg to differ. I'd say it's closer to one medium, hand-tossed type crust pizza.

1 1/2 cups flour (can replace up to half of this with whole wheat flour)
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast (I used quick rise yeast because I'm impatient)
1/2 cup lukewarm water (may need up to 1 or 2 tablespoons more, I did)
1 tablespoon olive oil

1. Stir dry ingredients, including yeast, in a large bowl (or dump in a food processor with the dough attachment and pulse a couple times to mix). Add water and olive oil, stirring mixture into as close to a ball as you can (I added liquids while running the processor and let it run until the dough was pulling away from the sides pretty cleanly, then just skipped to step 3). Dump all clumps and floury bits onto a lightly floured surface and knead everything into a homogeneous ball.

2. If you are finding this step difficult, one of the best tricks I picked up from my bread-making class is to simply pause. Leave the dough in a lightly-floured spot, put the empty bowl upside-down on top of it and come back in 2 to 5 minutes, at which point you will find the dough a lot more lovable.

3. Knead it for just a minute or two. Lightly oil the bowl (a spritz of cooking spray perfectly does the trick) where you had mixed it — one-bowl recipe! — dump the dough in, turn it over so all sides are coated, cover it in plastic wrap and leave it undisturbed for an hour or two, until it has doubled in size.

4. Dump it back on the floured counter (yup, I leave mine messy), and gently press the air out of the dough with the palm of your hands. Fold the piece into an approximate ball shape, and let it sit under that plastic wrap for 20 more minutes.

5. Sprinkle a pizza stone or baking sheet with cornmeal and preheat your oven to its top temperature. Roll out the pizza, toss on whatever topping and seasonings you like. (I always err on the side of skimpy with toppings so to not weight down the dough too much, or if I have multiple toppings, to keep them very thinly sliced.)

6. Bake it for about 10 minutes until it’s lightly blistered and impossible to resist.


This weird/crazy Chicago behavior of "claiming" parking spots that you've dug out of the perpetual snow by throwing your lawn chairs in the street all day.

I've got enough troubles that don't include dodging your plastic green chairs while parallel parking on ice.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Laughed so hard...

I peed a little bit.

Right... there.

And then continued to dance like no one was watching.

(I immediately write off any person who has that quote in any part of a personal profile, framed as "art" or displayed anywhere at work.)

Love these Sarah Haskins videos.

Found via Jezebel.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Get the door, it's Domin- NO it's not. It's better.

Stayed in tonight to avoid the snowstorm that perpetually threatens our city and made homemade pizza.

No shortcut crusts either. Andy even tossed his pie dough in the air a few times. Unbelievably it didn't get caught in a ceiling fan or land on his head. Why isn't life more like the movies?

Made a lot of dishes, but made a lot of damn good pizza, too.

Thank you, new pizza stone for the gift of golden, crispy crust.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Adventures in Mom-sitting

Going to go pick up my mom from the train station in 2 hours and struggling to come up with fun, mom-appropriate activities for the weekend.

Is Chicago in winter really this boring?

I'm surprising her with high tea at the Lobby at the Peninsula for her birthday which is later this month, but outside of that, I'm drawing a blank.

The Museum of Science and Industry is free all month, but that's the one Chicago museum I've been to multiple times, so I don't really feel the need to go back yet again. (Mom's been there, too.)

I think I've procrastinated too long to get Second City tickets, and they teeter on the edge of overpriced for me.

Maybe I can just distract her with the multitude of food options like I usually do with out-of-town visitors. You'd be amazed how time flies when you wave a Hot Doug's menu in someone's face.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Escapades on Ice

Last weekend while trying to desperately squeeze some final bits of holiday joy before heading back to work for the first full work week in a long while, Andy, Brian and I decided to go ice skating.

It was Brian's first time on ice and only my 4th or 5th, so it's safe to assume we weren't mastering the triple toe loop or double axel.

Keeping our heads above our asses and not slicing off any kids' fingers with our skates were the goals of the night.

Brian started off a little shaky, but started to get a little more comfortable as the 3 mph skating progressed.

Skating from Kristin Sutter on Vimeo.
Sorry about that up-close-and-personal shot there. Being on video brings out the attention-hogging youngest child in me. I feel the need to perform in juvenile, inappropriate ways.

The longer we skated, the better we got, but with every lap, more children and spasmodic teens took to the ice, creating an infuriating human obstacle course.

At one point, a child latched onto my arm, dragging me to the ice and I barely resisted the urge to wrench my arm from his clutches, punch him in the head and spit on his snow-suited body as I skated away, possibly slicing off a finger or two with my blades of vengeance as I went.

After realizing this impulse to inflict bodily harm wasn't normal, I decided it was time to surrender the rink to the swarms of snot, giggles and tears.

Considering my boots felt like pillowy goodness after the tightly-laced skates, I think it was a good time to call it a day. No reason to risk straining an ankle or a baby toe on the first time out.

After all, if I'm planning on perfecting my salchow by February, I've got to stay limber.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

I'd steal his silly little sailor hat.

Just realized I hadn't posted the video from Andy's last guitar recital. This is his second recital but third class since we had to miss the second due to prior obligations. Enjoy.

Guitar II Recital from Kristin Sutter on Vimeo.

And for some reason I decided to do it in two takes.

GuitarII Recital Ending from Kristin Sutter on Vimeo.

Andy's class was demonstrating the use of the capo with this charming little ditty. They ended with a bit of "What would you do with a drunken sailor" but I cut that off since I didn't know it was coming.

It was a telling thing to see how many people couldn't sing along with Johnny Cash but chimed right in on "the professor and Maryann..."

Friday, January 2, 2009

My Future Brother-In-Law

Jenn, are you sure about this?

(This might be mean since this was an early morning cell phone shot. I'll take it down if there are serious objections, but I couldn't let a 'stache that amazing go undocumented.)