You can still do it for 30 years (& W30D3)

Alternate title: Eventually you have to leave the house

Some things came together in an odd way today.  Other things completely fell apart.  Well, one other thing fell apart – my Cardinals in post season baseball.  Everything else just came together.  Let’s focus on that, but warning: as true in all of my rambling, sometimes I take a while to get to the point.

(Editor’s Note: As I started writing and noticing all the connection points, I decided to start highlighting the themes.  That’s why certain words are underlined, they’re part of the theme.  Go with it.)

Earlier today one of my favorite essayists, Mark Manson, puts this blurb up on Facebook:

This weekend a friend told me a story about his grandmother. She was 60 when her husband died. As part of dealing with his death, she started taking piano lessons and practicing every day. People thought it was kind of sad and pitied her.

Now she’s 90 and she is a fantastic piano player. People who hear her play regularly assume that she used to be a professional musician and that she has been playing her whole life.

It’s funny, she told him, that when she started playing at 60, people thought it was stupid, a waste of time, that there was no point because her life was essentially already over. People don’t realize, she said, that if you start learning something at 60, and you practice it until you’re 90, you’ve actually been doing it much longer than most professionals have.

I hate to break it to Mr. Manson, but this is not an original idea.  I had a grad school mate named Steve who told the story of a buddy who wanted to go back to medical school in his 40’s.  Some people in class scoffed, Steve explained, 8 years of med school, he’d be resident by the time he was 50 and could practice medicine for more than 20 years potentially.  20 years is a long time to do something you love once you realize you love it.

In May of 2008 I bought a book called I Was Told There’d be Cake.  (I didn’t remember off the top of my head that it was May.  When I went to pull the link from Amazon, Amazon was kind enough to tell me I had already purchased this book on May 18, 2008.)  I’m pretty sure Entertainment Weekly reviewed it and I loved the title, so I bought it.  I had not read a lot of essay collections before this, probably only Sedaris’ Me Talk Pretty One Day (home of the essay I read whenever I need a good laugh, You Can’t Kill the Rooster). Sloan Crosley is the author and she is about my age.  (One year and one month older, to be exact.) I read her essays and they were funny.  Her NYC life very different from the one I was living at the time, married and in St. Louis, but she was relatable and I recommended the book to several people.  I remember being curious about the idea that a woman our age could write a book of essays about her kind of regular life and it was published, and people were interested.  I got kind of into essayists that were my age for a while, a few months later (October 2008, again, according to Amazon) bought Chuck Klosterman’s Sex, Drugs & Cocoa Puffs. Again, an author about my age, writing about things like Saved By The Bell.  Umm, hello!  There is almost no one more qualified to discuss Saved By The Bell than me.  I own them on DVD.  That’s right.  I do.

I started this silly piece of the internet in November of 2008.  Probably not a coincidence.  I’ve always liked to write.  I’ve never particularly cared if people were reading what I wrote or not.  I just liked to practice the craft of writing.  I like to tell stories.  This has been a through line in my life.  The first career I remember wanting is a librarian so I could be surrounded by all the books.  Then I wanted to be a writer from about 4th grade on until high school when I decided I was going to be a film director so I could tell the stories even bigger.  I took creative writing classes my freshman and sophomore years until practical Sarah overcame and I switched to a major that made a career.

Months ago I saw that Sloan Crosley would be in town promoting her newest book, not a collection of essays, but a novel called The Clasp.  I thought that seemed like an interesting evening and asked Jenn and Shannon to come along.

That event was tonight.  I am just home from her speaking, reading a bit from the new book, and then answering some questions from the audience.  She is delightful and polished.  She opened with an introduction of herself, what she’s done and a few anecdotes from the book tour so far.  The worst question that can be asked of a humorist, she says, is “When did you know you were funny?”  She talked a bit about this and said, “I didn’t always know I was funny.  I knew I always wanted to tell stories.”

One of the reasons I let practical Sarah win all those years ago is that I was worried all the stories have already been told.  There are no new ideas anymore.  If you wanted a tale about X, I will find you a story about X.  In Kurt Vonnegut’s book A Man Without A Country, he has this chapter about there are only so many story arcs, I think he boils it down to three.  My friend Jenn says there’s only one – A person goes on a journey.  There it is, every story is essentially a person on a journey.

Maybe I let fear of coming up with original ideas stop me from really pursuing writing all those years ago.  I wanted to be a film director because I didn’t think I had good, big ideas, but I was sure that I could interpret the story from paper to a screen.  I could see the book or screenplay.  I was good at taking an idea to the next place.  Tonight, Sloan talked about how she was inspired by a short story called The Necklace, and used that as a springboard for her novel.  I had not heard of that story before, and just read it moments ago.  It’s totally worth a read – but to sum up – the theme is: Do you even know what you’re working towards?  Are we fumbling towards false goals?

This idea that she weaves this tale and it’s themes into her novel (I’m not quite sure how yet, I haven’t started reading The Clasp yet – but as soon as I finish rambling here I can start) is so intriguing to me.  Why didn’t I think to incorporate and collaborate years ago when I wanted to write?  Why did I think everything was already done?

And if I started right now, I could still be a writer for 30 years.

Did that come together like it did in my head?  Eh, I don’t even care if it didn’t.  I’m eager to start reading my new book.  Even though I need another book to read like I need a third cat.

Lastly, W30D3 –

This is where the alternate title came in: Eventually, you have to leave your house.  I had lunch with a colleague and dinner with the girls tonight.  No getting around it, so I went in with plans.  Lunch was easy, I talked the colleague into going to Chipotle where I can get a salad with carnitas, pico and guacamole.  Dinner was going to be tougher.  We went to a bar that does Tapas Tuesdays!  (How I’ve never participated in this event before is beyond me.)  If you’re sitting in their bar area and ordering a drink, they just keep bringing out little plates of food.  I’m not drinking and I couldn’t partake in the little plates of food since I wasn’t sure what would be in them.  I had checked out the menu in advance and knew I could order a couple dishes that seemed compliant.  I’m sure the chicken skewers I had were.  The roasted potatoes were probably ok.  Good news is I didn’t even flinch when Shannon ordered chocolate cake, or when one of the tapas dishes they brought around was a fruit mousse.  Day 3.  Eye on the prize.  Have a plan for going out to eat.

W30 – It begins (again).

Picture it, August 2013.  I had just graduated school, brand new to the OH, and finally read this book that I had downloaded months before, It Starts With Food.   I documented a lot of that first W30.  Pictures and updates and recipes.  My Day 11 post remains the most searched for and viewed post on the blog (I assume somewhere it’s linked on a W30 forum).  Sadly, that W30 was cut short at Day 25 when I was back in STL for my Master’s graduation dinner.  I started again in October of 2013, without documenting any of it.  D and I did it together that time and it was nice to have a buddy doing it with me, even a long distance buddy.  We got through the 30 days then, timing it perfectly.  We ended the day before Thanksgiving, and then immediately went to Toronto.  Probably not the best re-introduction plan.  I tried again in the summer of 2014 after the great break up of 2014.  I made it 23 days and then one night after working on the kitchen or some other thing around the house I just did not care and ordered pizza.

Here we go. It’s great timing for this (for the most part, the damn Circleville Pumpkin Show is in a couple weeks and I’m finally going and will have to avoid all the delicious pumpkin things).  I feel ready for a challenge.  I know I could benefit from this challenge.

When I got the idea Saturday to do this again, I told myself I’d start on Monday.  I would need to prepare! I would need to shop!  I wanted to sneak mimosas into The Little Mermaid movie this morning!  Man, when wanting to sneak mimosas into a movie is the reason, you might have a problem.  Which is exactly why I started today (Sunday).  It did mean I had no compliant coffee in the house.  I have some hazelnut flavored coffee right now which has artificial flavors in it.  It’s out.  I was FaceTiming with my sister and goddaughter this morning and that also cut into my breakfast making time, so I ended up with an apple and almond butter and a plan to pick up a few things post-Mermaid.

Meals today.

Meals today.

My breakfast certainly wasn’t the first choice of the W30 group, but it did in a pinch this morning.  I came home from the grocery and made some sausage (I get plain ground pork and add my own spices.  Sugar is everywhere, yo).  Microwaved a sweet potato while they were cooking, shredded some brussel sprouts and cut up half an avocado.  Lunch became a hash of the sprouts, half a sweet potato, a sausage patty cut up with two eggs and the avocado.  While making dinner I also made a butternut squash soup.

Making soup is so easy: I cut up a butternut squash, half an onion, 2 stalks of celery, and one apple and put in a large pot.  Add sage, a bay leaf, salt and pepper.  Cover it all with vegetable stock (surprisingly ridiculous how I could only find ONE with no sugar added.  I need to just make the stock myself.  Why is there sugar in vegetable stock?).  Simmer until everything is soft and then take the immersion blender to it.

I roasted chicken and potatoes for dinner and put a mug of my soup on the side.  Oddly enough, the soup comes in handy as a breakfast more often that not going forward.  It’s a good way to get veggies in the morning.

I still like to rely on the W30 timeline.  It makes me chuckle and gives me an outline on what I should prepare for.

Day 1: So what’s the big deal?

It’s 3 p.m. on day 1. You had a guilt-free plate of steak and eggs for breakfast, breezed through the morning with coffee and coconut cream by your side, and had a nice big salad for lunch. Your body is telling you it’s snack time, so you grab a handful of almonds and an apple and head back to your desk to finish out your day. You’ve got a slow cooker full of chili infusing your kitchen with a heavenly smell, and right now you can’t see why anyone thinks this is hard.

This delusion is somewhat akin to the first episode of any given reality show on which the contestants are herded together and forced to live in one house. At the end of the first episode, everyone can just tell they are going to be best friends for life. Those of us on the other side of the screen know better, though, don’t we? No one really believes this mess to be true, but everyone humors it… because how long can it last, really?

The truth is that you’re feeling empowered by making one good choice after another, all day long. And you should! Take note of that Rock Star feeling, stash it away and bring it back out when days get rough. Because rest assured that after a lifetime of suboptimal choices, things are going to have to get worse before they can get better.

It’s true.  Today was no big deal.  I like real food.  I like to cook.  Bring on tomorrow.

Good news, bad news

Let’s play a little game I like to call: Which do you want first?

Oh, the good news?


The littlest sister got married!

The littlest sister got married!

  • Littlest sister got married last Friday!  It was a lovely ceremony in Tower Grove Park.
  • I got to see a lot of family in a short amount of time because of the wedding.
Mostly this little baby!

Mostly this little baby!

  • Baby Avery was the flower girl and my cute nephews pulled her down the aisle in a wagon.
  • I got lots of pictures of my sister and my goddaughter.
Avery loves standing right now.

Avery loves standing right now.

  • Avery has earned the nickname “Stone Cold” among the family because she is a very serious baby.  She’s always looking at you like you’re just a little bit stupid.  I love that she’s very serious – I hope she grows up to love Jane Austen like Aunt Sarah.
So, while I was trying to get a pic of Avery and my bro-in-law...

So, while I was trying to get a pic of Avery and my bro-in-law…

Em is making this face trying to get a smile out of her.  This made me chuckle.

Em is making this face trying to get a smile out of her. This made me chuckle.

  • I got to hang out with “far away” Grandma.  It is always wonderful to spend time with granny and this time I taught her how to pose for selfies in this day and age…
...the duck face!

…the duck face!

  • There is the family you are born into and then there is Claire – and Saturday morning I got to hang out with the family I choose.  Claire and I met for breakfast at the new Rooster location on South Grand.  We weren’t sure we’d be able to connect this trip and I’m so happy it worked out.  I always need a dose of Claire.
  • I finished off the weekend by seeing Whiplash at the indie theatre down the street with my pals and then had them over for dinner afterwards.  Rex, Kevin, Peter and I enjoyed the movie a lot.  It’s an intense look at how people are motivated, what makes greatness, and a sick twist about ego and pride.  I think we were all happy to come back to my cozy house and relax after that.  It was dark and rainy and Peter and Kevin were on fire duty.  I learned about making newspaper knots to help start the fire better, make it burn hotter.


Dinner was lovely, the gentlemen enjoyed everything (Italian Pork Roast, roasted cauliflower with parmesan & thyme, butternut squash soup, mixed greens, and gooey butter cake for dessert!) and all three went back for 2nds on dessert.  Gooey butter cake for the win!

  • Spontaneous song!  At dinner there was discussion about who first sang “Leaving on a Jet Plane” – John Denver or Peter, Paul & Mary.  I was sure it was PP&M.  Peter was sure it was John Denver. Rex is quick with the google and Peter wins.  He celebrates by starting off the song, I jump in and then the other two piped in.  It was a lot of fun.  Also impressive is how well we all knew that song.

Now for some bad news:

  • Littlest sister is still kind of a brat.  I always think one of these days she’ll grow up, see the bigger picture, but that weekend was not this past weekend.  I’m sure it will come across really mean if I give a lot of detail, so I won’t, but that sister won’t ever be my favorite person.  I like to do nice things for people and I’m at the end of my rope wanting to do nice things for her.
  • I still get a little heartsick anytime I’m in Tower Grove Park.
  • I missed the OSU v. Indiana game on Saturday.  My mom’s cousin gave me his awesome tickets (club seats!) for the game since he was going to be on vacation.  I was so excited to attend my first game.  The game time was 5pm.  On the tickets it was 5pm.  On the schedule it was 5pm.  I had changed my flight to leave STL and get back to Columbus by 1pm – that was the earliest I could get back.  I had plans to go straight to Rex’s house and we were going to do some abbreviated tailgating and get to the game.  Rex texted me Friday afternoon and told me to google the game time – it was now noon.  I thought he was kidding.  What?  Is that a thing?  How do you just change game times?  Something about game broadcast schedules and such.  I wished Rex fun at the game, told him to find a worthy game companion, and made plans for breakfast with Claire (silver lining!!).  So, I missed another season of OSU football AND the worst part is I have to come up with a new Christmas card picture.  I was all ready for it to be a pic of me with the field behind me or me and Brutus Buckeye.  Sigh.
  • Newspaper knots are not working for me tonight.  There will be no Monday night fire because after going through all of the remaining Sunday paper, I still could not get the logs to catch.   I do not know what I’m doing wrong tonight – log placement?  space between the wood?  Oh well.
  • I’m watching Ferguson on CNN.  You never want your hometown to be on national news as the site of the next potential race riot.  The grand jury verdict should be coming out any moment.  I want there to be non-violent reactions to this news – whatever it is.  I’ll keep the rest of my opinions on this to myself, opinions on this are plenty and sharing mine doesn’t help anything.  I will share this blog post, written by a St. Louis pediatrician, Dr. Ken Haller.  Ex Hubs knew Dr. Haller through the theatre group they both worked with and I met him on a few occasions.  He wrote this and posted it to FB a few days ago and the STL Post Dispatch and a radio station picked it up.  I believe people can react how they feel they must.  I understand being compelled to certain reactions.  Just listen to Dr. Haller’s words and think of how the children in the community will be affected.

“American” Thanksgiving, where pilgrims ate marshmallows

Happy early Thanksgiving!

Dinner was sooo good!  I wrote about all the recipes I was prepping a couple nights ago, and let me tell you the prep work made tonight so easy!  I woke up early this morning to stuff the herb paste into the turkey skin, let it stay wrapped up in the fridge all day, and had hardly any work to do tonight.  My consultant friends showed up, we chatted in the kitchen, they commented on how lovely the dining room looked, and they helped make the fire.  AND, maybe most importantly I can cross off “Make s’mores in a fireplace” off my List of Things to do Before I Die!

This girl loves "dat cat" maybe more than I do. I think she Instagrammed about 3 pictures of him and I saw him on Facebook too.

This girl loves “dat cat” maybe more than I do. I think she Instagrammed about 3 pictures of him and I saw him on Facebook too.

I put CB to work on making fire.  He taught me a much better log placement to start the fire than I had been doing.

I put CB to work on making fire. He taught me a much better log placement to start the fire than I had been doing.

My turkey!  Doing just turkey breasts was awesome and the platter came out lovely.

My turkey! Doing just turkey breasts was awesome and the platter came out lovely.

This picture does not even do these bad boys justice.  The brown butter, hazelnut green beans were delicious!

This picture does not even do these bad boys justice. The brown butter, hazelnut green beans were delicious!

Finished cheesecake - pronounced a hit by all.

Finished cheesecake – pronounced a hit by all.

...and then all had a good night... watching Elf.

…and then all had a good night… watching Elf…

...and making s'mores.

…and making s’mores.

I’m sitting here very happy this evening.  I love a lovely table, delicious food, happy guests, and s’mores.  I’m so fortunate I’ve met this group.  I’m reminded of something I heard at the OD Conference in my Mindfulness in the Organization session.  Dr. Brendel said something along the lines of – Imagine all the things that had to happen to get you in this room.  When you think about how many things had to happen so that this group of people are together in this time and space – it’s really too much to wrap your mind around.  How many choices made, roads not taken, missed connections, dreams chased, hopes dashed… This group of five people from all over the country all in my house enjoying a very comfortable evening – what are the chances?

Good night, dear friends.


Being a local

I nearly called this post “Big OH Weekend”, indicating that I spent a weekend full of Ohio fun.  Then I thought that seemed dirty, and quite frankly, misleading.  So, I renamed.  Carry on…

Friday was happy hour at a relatively new place, Cray Eatery & Drinkery.  In the interest of full disclosure, that was the second time I was there last week.  Fair to say I was a fan.  They make these infused whiskeys and vodkas.  They are delicious, and dangerous.  The vanilla bean whiskey is quickly becoming my favorite beverage in town.  I was home relatively early and after three pretty exhausting weeks, I crashed early and didn’t wake up until about 10:30am the next morning.

Saturday afternoon I went on a tour of the Ohio State House and Court House.  One of my new favorite friends in Columbus is a volunteer tour guide there and I wanted to take the opportunity to visit her AND get a Columbus history lesson.  I learned a lot about the building and how Columbus was founded.  It was a well spent hour.  Our capitol building is fine, but our court house is really gorgeous.  Some of the most beautiful lighting fixtures, and back in the day it was the first fully electric building in Ohio.  People came from hundreds of miles to see the lightbulb in action.

From the outside, the capitol building doesn't have a Rotunda, exactly.  It has a cylinder.  From the inside, though, there is a rotunda.  And it's pretty.

From the outside, the capitol building doesn’t have a Rotunda, exactly. It has a cylinder. From the inside, though, there is a rotunda. And it’s pretty.

One of the great light fixtures from the building.

One of the great light fixtures from the building.

My favorite light fixture.  The hall these were in was magnificent and these light posts were perfect.

My favorite light fixture. The hall these were in was magnificent and these light posts were perfect.

I ran a few errands after that, including a visit to a couple consignment stores looking for some holiday decorations.  I didn’t find anything.  I took some colleagues up on an offer to join them at a sports bar for the OSU game.  It was a rowdy group and a great game.  OSU wins!  Go Bucks!

Sunday I headed up to a local state park to go for a hike/walk.  I participated in a trail run at High Banks park last fall and it was the first place that popped into my head when I decided I needed a good long walk.  I want to be serious about this mindfulness business and I find myself better suited to clear my head outside than inside.  I didn’t bring my ipod, no music – just a walk out in the fresh air.

Screen Shot 2014-11-09 at 9.00.43 PM

I took the Overlook Trail (light purple) and added the Wetland Spur for another .8 mile (dark purple).  It was a great morning, nice walk, and great for being present and in the moment.  Next time I’ll do Dripping Rock Trail.

I took the road less traveled by...

I took the road less traveled by…

I went from the hike to the grocery store.  I’m hosting my consultant friends for a Thanksgiving dinner party this Tuesday.  I spent this morning building the menu and making the monster grocery list that goes along with that.  On my trip to Des Moines, IA last week I bought three food magazines and wanted to try all new to me Thanksgiving recipes.  I warned the team they were a guinea pig group.  They have no problem with this.  I wanted to do as much prep as possible tonight and tomorrow night so I can make Thanksgiving happen after work.  I took a few shortcuts, but not that many.  Here’s the menu:

Herb Roasted Turkey Breasts courtesy of Rachel Ray

This is one of the shortcuts I’ll be taking – not doing a full turkey, but doing boneless (but skin on) turkey breasts.  They’ll cook faster.  I bought a few turkey legs to roast as well.  I’ll prep them tomorrow night and have them ready to pop in the oven.

Cream Cheese Mashed Potatoes with Kale Pesto courtesy of Better Homes & Gardens magazine

I made these tonight.  I didn’t combine them yet.  The potatoes are out of this world.  I don’t usually peel my potatoes for mashed potatoes.  But since I was trying new to me recipes, I followed instructions.  I had a test bite (or four).  These potatoes are amazing.  They’re chilling in the fridge and I’ll just warm them up.  I did halve this recipe.

Pesto prep!

Pesto prep!

Cornbread Stuffing with Sausage, Cherries and Chestnuts courtesy of Rachel Ray Magazine

Stepping way outside my comfort zone with this recipe.  I don’t typically use cornbread in my stuffing.  Or sausage, for that matter.  In my life I’ve never had a chestnut.  I made this tonight and it’s all ready, just needs to be baked.  My test bites lead me to believe it is also going to be awesome.  My shortcut was buying ready made cornbread stuffing mix.  I did not have it in me to bake cornbread, cut it up, dry it out, toast it up… Just no.  I mean, I like this group and all, but no.

Stuffing prep!

Stuffing prep!

Stirring in the dried cherries and lots of fresh herbs.

Stirring in the dried cherries and lots of fresh herbs.

Brown Butter Haricots Vert courtesy of Food Network Magazine

I will do anything to avoid the dreaded green bean casserole at Thanksgiving.  I’ll trim these up tomorrow, but do most of the work for these Tuesday.

Pear-Gingersnap Cheesecake courtesy of Food Network Magazine

I’m breaking the pumpkin mold!  There are so many delicious pumpkin recipes, and I was tempted to do a pumpkin cheesecake, but I’ve done one of those before.  Another ingredient I’ve never bought before is molasses.  Aaaaaand… I’m not sure I’d ever need to again.  Molasses has a very distinct taste, and I don’t know that I love it.  I mean, I think this cheesecake is going to be fine, but I have supplemental dessert planned as well – a S’mores bar.  I’ll post more about that Tuesday night.  Spoiler Alert… it does mean crossing something off The List!  

Cheesecake prep!

Cheesecake prep!

Bosc pears are so pretty.

Bosc pears are so pretty.

Pre-baked cheesecake.  My pear placement wasn't perfect.  A few fell off my fork before I was ready for them to be placed.

Pre-baked cheesecake. My pear placement wasn’t perfect. A few fell off my fork before I was ready for them to be placed.

Post baked.  I'll drizzle on a bit more of the molasses syrup right before serving.  Then it will look more like the picture.  I like when my food looks like the picture.

Post baked. I’ll drizzle on a bit more of the molasses syrup right before serving. Then it will look more like the picture. I like when my food looks like the picture.

My reward for knocking out all that prep work tonight was lighting another fire!  Mmmm, Sunday night fires are totally going to become a thing.  I should look into chopping down the mostly dead tree in my backyard so I get my own firewood supply.  Continuing to buy it is going to get pricey.  I’m not the only fan of the fire:

Quinn looks forward to them more than me.

Quinn looks forward to them more than me.

It was wonderful to spend a weekend here.  I have a less busy week coming up and I’m happy about that too.  The temperature is supposed to drop, so I see more fires in my future!  Mmm, so quickly becoming the best part of my house.

Inspired by Friday Night Lights, I embrace hot chicken

I’ve been binge watching Friday Night Lights over the last couple of weeks.  It’s soooo good.  If you haven’t watched it, remedy that as soon as possible.  I love so many things about it: Coach and Tami’s marriage, the way Tami says “hon”, Tim Riggins, Julie’s real struggle to get what being an adult is all about…

I finished the last couple episodes earlier today while reading the paper.  I’m not afraid, and surely  not alone, to admit I cried several times throughout the series and these last few episodes were no different this morning.

The last few episodes also made me really pumped about the idea of community.  You watch what Coach Taylor does to East Dillon, the way he creates something to rally around and support, they way they come out and root for the Lions and tell me you don’t want to be a part of something.  Inspired by that feeling I took a little lunchtime field trip to Hot Chicken Takeover.

This place has had a bit of press – when they first launched and then with their kickstarter campaign.  Jeni of Jeni’s Ice Cream has tweeted about them even.  I watched their Kickstarter video a couple weeks ago and put it on my list of things to get around to.  That time came once I was all riled up by the last episode of Friday Night Lights – I wanted to go out and be part of the community.  So I got Hot Chicken for lunch.

The place is exactly as described in the articles and Kickstarter video.  It is a walk up window with a long line  and a few tents with community picnic tables.

I waited about 20 minutes until I got to the window - then another 10 after I ordered.  Not bad.

I waited about 20 minutes until I got to the window – then another 10 after I ordered. Not bad.

I love that the window sign is partly made of tape.  A true start up on a budget.

I love that the window sign is partly made of tape. A true start up on a budget.

Their entire menu.  Free sweet tea and ranch dressing.  Community.

Their entire menu. Free sweet tea and ranch dressing. Community.

I was cautioned by reviews that they are not messing around when they say “hot.”  I started off with “cold” which just means no heat from spice, it’s still hot, fresh fried chicken.  People in line are chatting, the owner comes around asking if anyone is there the first time and thanking people who are wearing Hot Chicken Takeover shirts that indicated they’ve donated to the Kickstarter.  The neighborhood this is in is very “transitional”.  One of my favorite breakfast places is just down the street, but there’s not much else here yet.  The two houses across the street from HCT are boarded up.  One of their hallmarks is that they hire the “harder to employ” individuals.  Everyone there was awesome.  And I got the dose of community I wanted.

My carb-tastic lunch.  I'm glad I went with the "cold".  I'm not sure I could even handle Medium.

My carb-tastic lunch. I’m glad I went with the “cold”. I’m not sure I could even handle Medium.

It was really, really good.  It’s a perfect meal, even the way pickle juice soaks into a bit of the chicken breading, the ranch dressing that came from no bottle, and yes, really good mac and cheese.  I also happen to love non-mayo based cole slaws, so this light and vinegar-y one was perfect – and I can tell myself that was the right amount of vegetables for lunch.  So, thanks Hot Chicken Takeover for giving me what I needed today.

A: Ladies 80’s night & Bachelorette Parties

Q: Where to not take pictures so there is no proof later?

I’m on a roll, friends.  A Birthday Month, no holds barred, maybe more events than I can handle roll.

This group of 6 consultants that I hang out with occasionally (and have over for dinner and Wii dancing) found out about “Ladies 80’s” night at a local bar.  It is exactly what it sounds like – a ladies night with all 80’s music for dancing the night away.  They invited the whole program team, and since I enjoy the group and have a tiny, little, innocent crush on one of them, I was sure to go.  I invited my favorite co-worker, three or four other project team members showed up and we had an absolute blast last Thursday night.  I drank a tad too much vodka (read: much too much. Luckily, the worst thing I did that night is lose my glasses.  I’m sure I was a dance floor maniac, but no one seems to care.  We had a super fun time.

So much fun that I missed my flight the next morning… I was headed to Florida for a bachelorette weekend.  I had a 7:10am flight.  I got home at 3am from Ladies 80’s night.  One could probably see this coming.  I had two alarms set for that morning, was all packed…to no avail.  I bolted up in bed at 7am, looked at the clock, texted the bride telling her I’d be on a later flight due to “flight issues” (I told her the truth once I was there in person) and called the airline to see what my options were.  Luckily, Southwest Airlines rules all and as long as I got to the airport within 2 hours of my original departure time they would put me on standby flights to get there.  I missed the beautiful non-stop from Columbus to Orlando, so I don’t land in Florida until 2pm.  But, the only thing I missed out on was going to the new Harry Potter World which will be there next time.  And, it might have been worth it to party the night before with the gang.

We had a big beach house in New Smyrna, FL for the weekend and had a really nice weekend.  Again, I have no pictures of this.  10 girls, so many bottles of liquor, wine and beer, dance parties, laying on the beach, Cards Against Humanity, dancing at a townie bar and ice cream sundaes.  There is the weekend in a nutshell.  I got home late Sunday evening and charged into the week ahead.  I had a happy hour with a woman I’m becoming friendly with Monday night.  She and her husband are some of my new favorite Columbus-ites and it was nice to hang out with her for a while.  It was beautiful Monday night here so I went for a walk in the Short North neighborhood after that.  (Amazing how functional I am after an actual happy “hour” with one drink.)

This afternoon I got home a little early (I start early on Tuesday mornings because of my calls with India.  Yup – I’m international.)  I went for a run and then whipped up a new Sweet Potato recipe for a Pinterest Party!  I have gotten into lately and joined a home cooks/bakers group.  Tonight was my first event with them and the theme was to bring a dish that you’ve had pinned but have never made.  It was such a good idea!  I thought I’d take the opportunity to test out a potential Thanksgiving Side dish recipe – Mashed sweet potatoes with kale and boursin cheese.

Photo from A Family Feast blog

Photo from A Family Feast blog


I was happy to see so many savory dishes – including an awesome roasted zucchini pasta salad, cuban sliders and a watermelon mint salad. Dessert highlight was the creme brulee cheesecake!

This is the best potluck in town!

There were about 18 people and everyone was super nice.  It was a really nice evening.

Non stop fun continues this week with an alumni event on Thursday, the Craft Beer Festival on Friday night, my friend Kristy coming to visit Saturday for this vintage flea market and an early birthday dinner, and a Soup Cooking Class/demo on Sunday!

content Sarah and the finished wall!

content Sarah and the finished wall!

Cat and door in the picture for size context.

Cat and door in the picture for size context.