No Green Beer For You!

I hate St. Patrick’s Day.

Image: Paddy

It has nothing to do with my being Polish and not Irish. I love Green, it’s my favorite color, so that isn’t the source of my dismay. Corned Beef is delicious, so I adore the food o’ the day. And who could hate an excuse to drink green beer? As stereotypical as green beer is, let’s be honest, it’s frickin’ awesome.

So why the angst? Well, it’s because people are dumb. The day is St. Patrick’s Day or St. Paddy’s Day. NEVER St. Patty’s Day. Patty is a lady, Paddy is a lady. Read more about why we don’t celebrate Patty today, here.

Beyond the annoyance of people (and big brands, too!) getting the holiday name all wrong, I think it’s a pretty solid day to celebrate. The actual Saint Patrick was a pretty cool dude, too. He was actually captured as a teenager and forced into slavery. More on all that here.

So celebrate today. Celebrate Patrick. Eat corned beef in honor of Paddy. Throw back an Irish Car Bomb to toast Padraig. And if you must, dance an Irish jib for Pat. But do not Celebrate Patty. Not today, anyhow. If you can’t get the holiday name right, there will be no green beer for you!


Chicago Weekend

This past weekend The Scientist and I took a weekend trip down to Chicago to stay with his brother and go see a play. We had a fabulous time as always and really enjoyed the warm up that happened on Saturday. If anyone has ever been or goes to Chicago often you know that there are always new places to eat and discover.

Dividing the EstateWe went to the play Friday night and it was so good! We knew the director so we all played extra close attention so that we’d be able to discuss it with him later. The play was Horton Foot’s Dividing the Estate. It was at a theater called Raven and is right between the Edgewater and Andersonville neighborhoods. Dividing the Estate was really funny and tells the story of a Texas family in the 1980’s arguing over their family estate.

After the play we walked down to Antica Pizzeria and had a late meal of calamari, wood oven pizza, and wine of course. There are countless great italian places in Chicago, but if you are around Andersonville I’d recommend it.  We did go in an hour before closing (I hate doing that), and the staff made us feel like we should hurry. But our actual server was awesome and the food made up for it.


Photo credit:

The next day we ate breakfast and the Scientist and I walked down to Lincoln Park Zoo. It’s one of the best free things to do in the area. Plus we couldn’t NOT spend time outside when it was above freezing for the first time in months. We got to see their new animals, a baby gorilla names Bella and two red pandas.

Afterward we were in need of a snack and an afternoon drink so we walked a ways until we saw a place that looked good. That place was Stanley’s Kitchen and Tap. It was a great find! We shared a huge slab of mac and cheese and a potato topped chicken pot pie. We both ordered irish coffee, and it was a stiff drink. On our way in we noticed they had a bloody mary bar and saw they have an all you can eat brunch on Sundays. The couple next to us had fried chicken and it looked great.

That night we went to cafe Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba for tapas. We ate a ton of food and got a pitcher of sangria which was almost too much for the 3 of us. I had to bite the bullet and drink a little bit more to finish it.  The food was excellent and the place was packed. It was a really fun atmosphere. I love getting tapas or just appetizers because you get to try so many different things.

Our last stop of the night was Barrelhouse Flat. The lower level is a typical bar, but upstairs is a 1920’s style lounge area with a huge drink menu featuring classic cocktails. I got a sidecar, which was just citrusy enough. We tried to go to an arcade bar, but the line was halfway around the block so we decided against it.

Where are your favorite places in Chicago? Do you ever venture out to new neighborhoods or stay in the loop?


Glitter Bomb

I got glitter bombed yesterday.

It was my own fault. I had posted a link on my Facebook page a few weeks back saying how awesome I thought the Glitter Bomb craze was. A darling friend of mine noted the post, waited almost two whole months, and then executed the cuteness. Like all other unsuspecting victims, I saw handwritten mail (about the size of a thank you note), and opened it in a rush of excitement. Even though I wasn’t expecting mail at work, nor could I pinpoint the handwriting on the envelop… I tore it open. *POOF*

I have to say, she was kind. She only used enough glitter to make for a fun surprise – not so much that I had to explain to my boss why my office looks like a fairy princess parade passed through. Thanks Sue. You are as much of an adult as I am.

(I hope this wasn’t a subtle hint in her telling me that she hates me? I think I will assume she did it out of love.)










On capsule wardrobes and why I have 5 long-sleeved, teal shirts

You know how Pinterest and people with beautiful blogs make it seem like everyone else is living this gorgeous, minimalist lifestyle? It’s as if everyone else is getting dressed every morning by choosing between the 5 things they have hanging from a birch branch, held up by copper pipes, lit by candles in mason jars, next to framed typography prints, accented with just the right amount of glitter.

Beautiful Mess blog

Photo courtesy of These ladies are pretty much the gold standard for lifestyle bloggers


Let’s just say that this is not my reality. It’s probably not anyones. But I guess there ARE ways to get a little closer to this ideal. Have you ever heard of capsule wardrobes? I’m probably behind the times, but I’m sort of loving the idea of them. Basically, you curate a wardrobe of around 30 items each season and then store everything else. When you get dressed in the morning you have only a few things to choose from, causing you to be creative. It also allows you to really define your style, and saves you money because you only buy things that fit into your capsule for that season. Check out Project 333 and Unfancy for expert examples, advice and tips.

I’m still not 100% sure I’m going to build a capsule wardrobe for spring. Though I feel like I wear the same 10 things anyway so it probably wouldn’t be that hard. I did however embark on the first step of any wardrobe re-vamp: purging. My tiny bedroom currently has 3 dressers, a closet and a hanging rack under my lofted bed. All of that was full. It is a problem, a problem I’m working on. Here are the main issues I have that contribute to my disastrous wardrobe:

  • Shopping in general
    • I really like it. It’s a stress reducer and who doesn’t love getting new things?
  • Always being “prepared”
    • You know how someday you might need those polka dot tights you got for a steal 8 years ago at H&M and have never taken out of the package? Yeah. Those have got to go. Same thing with the ill fitting khaki and black pants I had to wear while working in retail and the food industry. Why will I need grease stained pants again?
  • Too much of a good thing
    • Denim shirts? Blue tees? Plaid button ups? Those $20 hoodies from H&M? I clearly thought I needed to buy these things every time I saw one for a good price. I just found out I have 5 teal long sleeved shirts. That is just unnecessary.
  • Bargains!
    • Those Lucky jeans are just too cheap to pass up! They are too long, but I’ll just get them hemmed (no, I won’t). Free shipping and 20% off sale? Well that’s basically like giving things away (no, it’s not).
  • Clutter
    • The more stuff I have jammed into my drawers the more likely I am to forget I already have a grey cardigan. And there goes another $20 bucks.
  • Nostalgia
    • I JUST decided to give up some t-shirts from high school. I was keeping them because, memories. But I never wear them and they don’t even fit anymore. Anything from high school is over 10 years old and it has to go!
  • Guilt
    • Sometimes I buy things that I SWEAR are worth the price. But then I just never wear them. And then I feel bad and decide one day I’ll be the type of person that will wear a purple and blue linen Michael Kors blouse. But I’m not, and I won’t.
  • Fluctuating weight
    • This is probably one of the biggest things. Over the past 10 years I’ve gained and lost 10-30 lbs at least a couple of times. My wardrobe contained items ranging from size 6-12. It’s hard to let things go when you love them, but they simply don’t fit anymore.
Giveaway pile of clothes

Here is a shot of my giveaway pile about a 1/4 of the way into my purge. It’s doubled in size since then!

I have two more drawers to go on my big wardrobe purge. After I finish I’ll be taking almost everything to the Community Action Coalition. They are a great organization because they provide clothing and fresh food to people for free. I volunteered there during their winter coat drive and  they are really helping people in need.

What are your biggest wardrobe hurdles? Have you done any major rehab to your closet?Signature:Brooke

The Problem With Being Nice

So, last week I mailed a card to a business associate wishing him a speedy recovery.

The problem is that when someone told me he had just had a heart attack… they apparently meant two years ago.

The recipient of the card was vary gracious. He said it was nice to be thought of, even if he was no longer ill. I was mortified. The whole thing got turned into a very large-scale joke involving several people. Someone ended up wearing a fake bandage on their head with ketchup smeared on it, and asked me why I didn’t send them a card. I may or may not have posted to that person’s Facebook page a lovely flower graphic wishing them healing and comfort – resulting in their family and friends commenting to find out what had happened. It will now be referred to as “The Great Throat Punch of 2015.” Don’t ask, just go with it.

high fiveNo good deed goes unpunished. You can’t believe everything you read on the internet, or trust everything reliable sources tell you. Every time I see Max now, I am going to give him a high-five for not dying and he will high-five me for being so nice.


Why so sorry?

“I’m sorry I should already know this but . . .” “This is probably a stupid question . . .” I'm Sorry!

Why do we always feel the need to preface questions like this? I did it tonight with a simple question at work concerning a policy I had no reason to know beforehand. I sit at a public service/reference desk everyday and 9 times out of 10 when people have a question they apologize or try to rationalize their need to ask. It’s literally my job to answer any question whether it’s a complex research question or a simple directional question, like “where is the bathroom?”

We are such an information driven society. We have the internet in our pockets all of the time. I never have to go 5 minutes without getting an answer to a question that can be googled. Why do we have such a hard time asking other humans for things? It’s not like you’re asking someone something out of the ordinary. You aren’t saying “so sorry, my kidneys seem to be malfunctioning, may I have one of yours?”

I’m not saying we shouldn’t be polite. Please and thank you and a smile go a long way in any public service transaction. You just don’t need to apologize to a server for asking for a refill. You are literally paying her or him to do that.

Of course, we don’t just do this when asking things of others. How many times have you said, or have had someone say sorry to you when they mean excuse me? It’s as if we are apologizing for having mass, for taking up space in the world.

I know that this is a cultural thing. Something that is particularly prevalent in the midwest. But, we should really stop. I distinctly remember a girl I worked with in high school who used to say sorry pretty much every time she spoke up. We would actually tell her to stop saying sorry, to which she would apologize. Sorry has become just another placeholder in our speech. It’s the ummm of the midwest. Does it even have meaning anymore? What’s the difference between “sorry, but can you help me find the milk?” and “sorry I just hit you with my car.”?


Paczki Day

Happy Paczki Day!

In case you aren’t aware, Paczki are a Polish pastry similar to a donut. They are usually with a jelly, custard or other sweet filling. While they may look like other common place fried donuts, pączki are made from especially rich dough containing eggs, fats, sugar, yeast and sometimes milk. Our Intern and I got into a little debate last week at the office about the true day in which paczki are eaten. His family is from Poland – he is first generation born state-side. In Poland, paczki are typically eaten on Fat Thursday, the last Thursday before the Catholic Ash Wednesday. The reason for paczki making was that ingredients needed to be used up before the Lenten season of fasting. In the U.S., Paczki Day has merged with the pre-Lenten traditions of other cultures, resulting in paczki being popular on Fat Tuesday. As I am third generation to be born in the U.S., I have only ever known paczki to be eaten on Fat Tuesday (and of course, Pulaski Day).

paczki, fat tuesday, donut

Paczki from Weber’s Bakery in Chicago, IL.

My mother’s side of the family is from the Chicago area, where there is a large Polish population. My absolute favorite bakery that offers Polish goodies is Weber’s Bakery on W. Archer. Today, I got my paczki from Piaelli’s in Kenosha since I couldn’t make the trek into they city this morning, and they are good. But I LOVE this picture from Weber’s Facebook Page. I know the paczki down in Chicago are soo much better. Nevertheless, today I will eat my paczki and I will track it on my Weight Watchers app with pride!


Valentine’s Day. What’s it all about?

Valentine’s Day is this weekend. You know the day we celebrate that martyr guy Saint Valentine. You know that guy who did. . . okay so I just looked up this “saint” and there isn’t even a solid story behind it. Saint Valentine might have been put to death because he kept marrying young couples, despite the fact the men were supposed to be put into military service. Or possibly he helped some romans escape prison. Then there is the theory that Valentine was a guy who was in jail and sent a love letter (or valentine) to the jailer’s daughter and got himself killed. It kind of seems like you didn’t need to do a lot to be a martyr. According to (the definitive source on all things saintly) “Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories all emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic and–most importantly–romantic figure.”Saint Valentine

Okay so it’s not really unusual that westerners celebrate a holiday that they don’t understand. There’s also that whole commercialization thing we like to do. But is it really so bad? Does it matter at all? Has anyone in history ever really had a good Valentine’s day?

In grade school you did that whole giving everyone in your class a valentine. Do they still do that? I just remember being excited to pick out a package of cheaply made cardboard cards and then being less excited when my mom made me make a list of all of my classmates and then address each card. The day of was basically just making your valentine’s basket, passing out cards and eating a ton of sugar.

Later, in middle school and high school girls with “boyfriends” would be walking around all day with flowers, or chocolate or balloons. I thought that was dumb and was embarrassed for them. Laura sent me flowers a few times in high school and I was not pleased because I’d have to go down to the office to get them. Then the secretaries would want to know who they were from. I hid them in my dad’s office. Laura-I hated that!(sorry, not sorry).

When I’ve been in relationships during the big day, I’ve never really expected much or cared at all. I’m not going to spend a bunch of money at a restaurant that has a crappy prix-fixe menu, and I certainly don’t need gifts. Christmas JUST happened. The Scientist and I will probably go ice skating like we normally do on Saturdays and then make dinner and hang out with Pip. You know, like a normal Saturday. Maybe we’ll make something a little special for dinner and I’ll probably make him the brownies he likes.

Vintage Valentine

This Valentine is ridiculous.

If you are super into Valentine’s day then by all means, go all out. The worst thing you can do is get all upset and weird about it. I mean, yeah some guy was potentially burned at the stake or something so your boyfriend/husband could spend an obscene amount of money on ugly flowers (eck roses. am I right?). But just chill. Perhaps you don’t have a valentine and this entire post has reminded you of that fact. Well then, I am sorry. But it’s just one day. Go out and get yourself some chocolate! Actually, I really want chocolate now . . .


Don’t Use the “F” Word

Email yourself so you don't forget!I would never have used the word “Forgetful” to describe myself. I remember all sorts of important things day to day – names, passwords, and even details for projects at work (even when my sticky note-covered desk is a mess). I’ll be the first to admit that I have to make sure things are in my iCalendar, though, in order to not botch up schedules. And I have been known to send myself multiple emails or set alarms for tasks to make sure I don’t overlook them. However, there are other people in my life, people who love my dearly, who might say that I am, indeed, the “F” word.

Last week my co-worker had to remind me that I had two things scheduled for the same date and time. Thank goodness she listens to me when I talk about things. I almost planned a meeting on an afternoon I was scheduled to be off. Yikes!

My dad has said I am “F——“ for years. His favorite example to cite is how all of his girls, my mother and sister included, could never seem to remember anything he asked. He is notorious for yelling up the stairs to have us bring something down with us when we would eventually make it downstairs in the morning. None of us ever remembered despite him asking just moments before we would head down.

Today, I did it again. The Cop reminded me last night that I was to take his car in the morning because he would be taking mine in for an oil change. Guess what vehicle I took this morning? I also still have his wallet in my purse from Sunday night. Oops.

There are worse things to be than forgetful. Hmm… it’s never too early to start taking memory care supplements though, right?


On the case: Chair mystery

Where is my chair?A few things you should know before I begin this thrilling tale.

1) I work 3rd shift, but only during regular school semesters. During intersessions I work regular daytime hours. The semester started last week, so I’ve been trying to get back into the swing of overnights. Switching your schedule so dramatically is just like having really bad jet lag. I’m not exactly on the top of my game yet.

2) I share office space with 6 other people. We all have our own workstations and I barely ever see them unless they get in before I leave in the morning.

So, I got to work tonight and something looked weird. My desk chair was turned away from my computer and pulled out from the desk. No big deal, I could have left it like that. But then I looked at my chair more, something was off. First of all, the upholstery was stained. It’s possible that it had always been like that, but weird I never noticed before. Then I realized that my chair had arms, and also it was more of a mesh material on the seat. This was not my chair! I looked around for my old chair, but couldn’t locate it. I noticed there were a few new chairs around the office space that matched my new chair.

I checked my email for explanation. None. Who would take my office chair and replace it without asking me or telling me? To be fair, the new chair is more comfortable. I actually like it a lot. But it’s the malicious intent to confuse me that really hurts. No one should mess with a tired person’s brain in that way. I’m kidding of course, but I really can’t figure out why they would replace my chair! Mystery! Signature:Brooke