Thursday, February 26, 2009

Well speak of the...

Good job, NPR.
I wonder if this will make the Division St. Bath House any more crowded...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Pączki tally = 6

It's taken a couple not so gentle reminders from Annie for me to get on the ball and post before the end of February. As always, I find it difficult to even begin to catch up. Let's just say that my one February goal –to learn all of the words to House of Pain's "Jump Around"– has not yet been accomplished. The clock is ticking, yo...

Also, from the view where I am now I can see all the way to summer, and even though the valley of June-August is shrouded in mist, I think I see myself staying in Chicago. The situation, however, comes with the anti-Obamist (Obamanian?) "preconditions." I can't stay at my job that long/forever. If I can find a marginally interesting internship and go part-time, then I will gladly cat-sit for Fave Bro and Fam at DreamHome. Ideas thus far: 826CHI, the 2016 Olympics campaign for Chicago, SAIC summer school, something Spanish related... The hope is that come next fall, I will have a destination in Europe awaiting me. Otherwise, hello again, St. Peter, and then I don't know what.

Chicago is pretty rad. Here are some things that I love (in random order): 826CHI workshops, morning swims with Saratonin, Ukrainian Village, Eastern European accents, cupcake stores, running club, and the Russian Bathhouse. This last items refers to one of the best things to ever happen to humanity. I have been twice now, with Annie and Annie + others. Both times have coincidentally coincided with holidays - New Year's and Valentine's Day. What goes on in the steam room must be seen to be believed. Any and all descriptions of barely clad men, beatings by foliage, funny little wool caps, scrubs, soaps, soaks, and gender dynamics will fall short of the magnificence it all deserves.

This video clip
makes it look a heckuva lot less awkward than it actually is. Turns out it's not traditionally a girly place. Good thing Annie and I love awkward situations and are not made uncomfortable by inordinate amounts of male butt crack. Also, the hot to cold pool was great practice for our New Year's Day plunge (pictured below).

Other news:

Congrats Fave Bro on Lil' Mason! Although Amy deserves more credit. I hear he has an expressive forehead.

Lydia recently came to visit. That was totally fun, discovering new places in the city and tak się spotkać (znowu) fajnimi ludzmi.

This year I rocked rocked rocked Tłusty Czwartek AND Pączki Sunday AND Fat Tuesday. God Bless America.

Chiditarod = March 7th. Do we have a team yet...?

On March 8 DreamHome#1 will host our First Annual Sauerkraut Contest. Annie, you sure make bitchin birthday plans.

Oh yeah, we have a new president wOOt

Turns out I can't speak Polish in social situations.

Here's to hoping I can make it back here a tad more regularly.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

no. explanation.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 7, 2008


Ahh Sunday once again.

I spent last night and a very lazy today day with Annie while she is house/dog/cousin-sitting in a northern Chicago suburb. While I missed DreamHome, it was nice to be in a real, lived in home. But the real reason I am writing is to post an update on the baking project. Friday night, thanks to the wisdom of Teany, I made vegan petit fours. Yum. And easy. Yesterday, Annie and I took a baking break to eat some of the past project and still some Thanksgiving leftovers. We did bake our own pizzas from scratch, however. That could count, right? This morning, to cap off our anniversary of the Klobouky Mikulašska jarmek, Annie whipped up a batch of pani dough. Fueled by slivovice, naturally, we braided, rolled, and baked some nice little angels, mermaids, devils, birds, and other strange yet vaguely traditional shapes. Happy Saint Nicholas Day!!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

So this is going to take discipline, kids

Deemed the month of Baking One Cookie Recipe Per Day.

So far Annie is kicking my butt.

Background: A while ago, anticipating the baking of Czech gingerbread, I came up with the idea that was voiced something like, "Hey, wouldn't it be awesome if every day in December we baked a different cookie recipe??" Annie was all about the idea, but as for me... when push came to shove and the calendar page turned, I rather lost the momentum. Annie is living for a few weeks in the northern suburbs, therefore her enthusiasm for this idea hasn't been translated well through the distance. December 1, she sent me a text message saying "Happy Cookie Month", and when we met the other night, she made me renew my promise. (I should mention, though, that she has the help of a younger and overall impressionable to the whims of her cool older cousin relative. For the record, I too think Annie is the coolest cousin ever. BCEFL, even.)

OK. It's now the 4th, and I have a half-failed batch of Mexican Icebox Cookies half baked and half still in the icebox and some cooling cups of custard in the fridge. "Custard?" you may be asking. Yes, Custard. I was wrested from the reverie of my bank coffee break by a nearly year-old copy of Good Housekeeping. Given my ever-growing reverence for Better Homes & Gardens, I thought I'd find something worthwhile while flipping though the glossy pages. And voilá, custard still counts as a sweet, goshdarnit, and if I am forced to make something sweet, it should at least fit into my evening's dessert plans.

One moment while I try to flip over the cup and give my creation a taste.
(In the meantime, take a look at what I hope to have achieved.)

Loosen the edges with a small spatula - check.
Flip on to plate, and let sit so the caramel can drip onto custard - check.
And now try to soak up soppy mess with a spoon - hmmmm....

I have a jiggly custard and no caramel. Maybe it didn't bake long enough. Maybe the sugar didn't thicken enough. Maybe it was the rum I thought would be a good idea to add to the caramel. Whatever. Maybe December will just be the month of my failed desserts.

Bon apetite.


Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sunday is becoming my favoritest day

How did November just slip away? I'm glad to get one more post in here, so it looks like I'm not totally ignoring my blog. I know how I keep saying that I should update about all the less obvious things and changes happening in my life, but I'm not sure what keeps me from it. A full time job may have something to do with it, but that's mostly just an excuse. Home alone on a Sunday night is the perfect opportunity to catch up with my thoughts.

This last weekend in November coincided with Thanksgiving this year. I had a lovely time for at least three reasons: the bank gave me a freaking 20 lb. turkey, my kitchen successfully brined and cooked that bird and many other Thanksgiving staples, and my family was all under one roof for the first time in months. That last point felt nice. Of course there were the expected stresses, but having my own place provided a nice escape. Whenever people come to visit me, I often feel responsible for showing them fun things and places to go, so the fact that parents and brother had a good time is contributing to my contentment. Oh, and also, my brother and I again fulfilled our tradition of going on an adventure for Polish food when he comes to visit me for Thanksgiving. 2003 was a little deli in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. This year was an all-you-can eat buffet on Milwaukee Ave, the "Red Apple" or "Czerwone Jabluszko" Restaurant. (The cooks from that restaurant came to do the pierogi demonstration that I went to a few weeks ago at the Polish Museum of Chicago. Seriously, best pierogi in my life. No joke.)

*I just need to mention -by way of praising my culinary mastery- that this Thanksgiving meal was brought to you by Cafe Brenda, Alton Brown, Better Homes & Gardens, the Polish deli on Cicero Ave, Stanley's Produce Market, and my parents for providing supplemental cookware and cutlery. Julius Meinl stepped in with a fabulous Black Friday brunch, Vienna style. Oh for cafe melange.*

Another thing that has been on my mind is that of my body. I'm sure I have mentioned how living with Annie is like a crash course in physical self-awareness, but I've become aware (or at least more aware) of some new sensations lately. First off, I have been physical in different ways than I am used to. It began with my women's running group. I go once a week to run along the lake shore trail. Now, after training last winter for the Warsaw Halfmarathon, distance running through the cold is nothing I haven't done before, but running here has given me knee pain. It began with my worn out Asics, but I also have IT band and tight quad issues. And I'm only running about 5 miles once a week. What's the deal with that? And biking. I'm doing a lot of biking. The simple act of commuting puts about 10 miles to my legs each day. I'm sure the biking is what has increased my stamina for running -- I can easily do 6 miles now!-- but I'm sure it is also what's making my shoulders and lower back constantly sore. If I get a decent Christmas bonus from the bank, it's going towards a nice massage. Maybe I'll have some cash leftover for a session at the Russian baths, complete with a beating of oak branches. (Subsequently I have invested in -and brought back from the depths of my closet for use, finally- some nice pieces of clothes for winter training.) And today being Sunday, I took advantage of the free yoga class at a studio in my neighborhood. After one simple session, I can be sore for days after, but it is one of those good sore, happy sore feelings. Yoga is one of those things that can blend pleasure and pain so wonderfully to make my body feel balanced. And though all this, I have been on a trial of birth control for to try and ameliorate a rogue ovary. I've actually enjoyed the regularity of my cycle, and I have been experienced significantly less of the associated pain. Shall I continue with the abnormal hormonal levels? And should I have shared all this here? Hmmm...

One final thing that nearly ruined my near perfect holiday weekend: the "Sex and the City" movie. Worst thing ever. Gimme "The Dark Knight" for three bucks at the Logan Theater any day over an excruciating Netflix pick. Next up on the queue, an Argentine flick about the war for the Falklands/Malvinas. Next week should be a good one.

Thanks for making through these digressions.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Memory Lane, all covered in snow

Of course now I am all wrapped up in the business of looking at old pictures. Here is a look at how much snow there was on the ground already on this day in Kraków. And in Chicago, nothing more that a few minute-long flurries.