Mar 302021
 

I ate well this past weekend and I don’t mind telling you all about it SINCE YOU ASKED. (Oh man I am craving human interaction.)

First of all! On Friday, we had the most diving “fish”-fried banana blossom po’ boys from Onion Maiden, which is SADLY going on hiatus for a bit now and I will miss them deeply. It’s crazy how we have actually been “eating out” (i.e. getting take out) more during the pandemic than ever before. We are not big diner-outers, but BECAUSE of the pandemic, we have been really trying to support our faves and in doing so, we have for sure enjoyed Onion Maiden more in the last year than we have in all the years they have been open, and no offense but my stomach is super smug about this!

Oh man, I think this was my first time having banana blossom and it was extremely satisfying. The texture and seasoning was v. similar to a real life fried fish fillet – it had that true blue Lenten taste, if you feel me.

Henry and I figured that Chooch wouldn’t like it, so he only ordered two, figuring that he would just eat Chooch’s. So I scarfed mine down within five minutes, giving Henry nary a nibble. Then Chooch ended up ACTUALLY LIKING IT so Henry ended up not getting to try it at all HAHAHA go eat a real fish sandwich, carnivore.

We made the mistake of telling Chooch what he was eating while he was still mid-sandwich and he told us later that he still thought it tasted good but knowing what he was eating “ruined” it for him. He is really the worst vegetarian. Honestly.

Not pictured, but on Saturday I had some of the vegan butternut squash ravioli I ordered from Saint Ravioli. I always see people freaking out when he has pre-orders on Instagram so this time I set an alarm for his vegan ravioli sale and it was OK. I don’t know that I would go out of my way to buy them again, because the filling didn’t like knock my kpop socks off or anything BUT the actual pasta part was v. good and fresh. So I’m not totally disappointed by any means.

Another NOT PICTURED is the black sesame matcha latte I got earlier that day from Kung Fu Tea and the matcha bun from Sumi’s – Pittsburgh is surprisingly rich with Asian delights, and I am more than happy to spend money at these places!

Henry went to one of the Asian markets Sunday morning for a produce haul because I had a baby taro craving and he came home with the best boba bars!

Tiger Milk is one of the most famous/popular boba places in the world so I was super excited to have these frozen versions in my MOUTH.

Fun fact: my friend Nate told me that when he saw this picture on Instagram, he wasn’t immediately sure if I was in my house OR AN ICE CREAM PARLOR and wow thank you Nate for the best compliment I have received so far on my chaotic interior aesthetic!

SPEAKING OF ICE CREAM…

Easter pint pick-up at Sugar Spell happened on Sunday! I managed to find restraint from deep within and only ordered three pints, but then Henry brought them home and my restraint defenestrated itself while I lunged for a spoon. As I dug into the Chocolate Peanut Sprinkle, Henry asked, “Whoa, aren’t you going to take a picture first?” because I ALWAYS take pictures of my Sugar Spell Scoops! So, please excuse the chunk taken out of the Chocolate Peanut Sprinkle, and the half-assed posing and fluffing I did but I was just REALLY excited to dig the fuck in.

The Carrot Cake was my immediate favorite but that LUSH, VELVETY chocolate base keeps me coming back to Chocolate Peanut Sprinkle, I’m so sorry.

I “balanced” all of this junk food with acai bowls, oatmeal, and salads. (Henry bought golden beets at Fresh Thyme, and those are MY FAVORITE KINDS OF BEETS!)

(Also at Fresh Thyme, I bought almonds, hazelnuts, and pecans for my squirrel friends and Henry was like THESE FUCKERS EAT BETTER THAN ME! and then proceeded to tell me how much money we spend on squirrel food, lol oops I can’t help it – they’re my ONLY FRIENDS.)

Mar 182021
 

Something I think about a lot from the last year in quarantine is the time Chooch tried to make bread, when we still had energy and drive in the early days of STAYING HOME. I feel like even though it was only a year ago, it deserves a repost because it was originally posted in a week-long isolation recap and who even reads that crap, amirite.

**********************

 

“Chooch, we’re going to make bread today.”

“……without HIM?” (HIM = Henry, clearly.)

“Yes! Someone posted recipes on Twitter. It looks easy.”

“Well, THAT’S something I can tell I’ll be quoting you on for the rest of my life.”

OK, scratch that idea. I just went back to the recipe I saw on Twitter and realized that there was way more to it than just this:

Apparently, the rest of the recipe was in the comments. It’s involved. Do we have baking powder? What is kosher salt? Something about sitting in a greased bowl for 30-60 minutes? I’ll pass.

In good, non-COVID news, Taemin has black hair again! Also, I really wish I was going through this pandemic hell in S. Korea, not the fucking dumb US. God, can we screw this up anymore? FORGET I ASKED THAT. DO NOT HOLD ANYONE’S BEER. GET BACK INTO ISOLATION.

UPDATE, 12:09:

Chooch is making the bread on his own. Where the fuck is the baking powder, he asked, gesturing to the open cupboard full of UNLABELED CONTAINERS OF WHITE POWDERS.

‘This could all be cocaine for all we know!” I cried. Now Henry is on speaker phone. He is very unhappy about how this Friday is progressing.

Apparently the baking powder is in a plastic container that says “baking powder.” I would have hung up on Henry’s ass by now.

OMG IF I HEAR “BAKING POWDER” ONE MORE TIME. This call has dragged on for like 11 minutes. Henry just yelled, “I have to go! I don’t have time for this!”

Lol, I found the baking powder immediately  and now Chooch is mad. He dropped the butter on the ground so I told him  to just wash it off but then we both looked at it and I said, “Um, just throw it out.” Then we fucked up because I dumped all the water in at once, before Chooch had a chance to “mix the dry ingredients” and then apparently even the water was supposed to be added gradually? Why? It’s all going to end up in the same place eventually anyway?

I feel like we made some progress because after stirring it for a bit, it resembles real life dough! I got bored though so now Chooch is doing the rest alone.

12:44PM This might go down as the worst idea ever. The dough is like melted paste – is this right!?

The recipe never told us what to do with the butter. We used our collective noggins to assume that it was for greasing the bowl, so then Chooch made me wash out the Pam that I had originally (handsomely) spritzed it with. We are now letting the dough sit for 30-60 minutes. Is it going to expand into a carb-loaded Jabba the Hut and suffocate us? TIME WILL TELL.

1:50PM: Time to cook this gooey blob! I just noticed that the recipe on Twitter said to HEAT A GRIDDLE. THE FUCK? I was like “Can’t we just use the oven?” and Chooch was like I don’t know so I was scrolling through the Twitter comments and I said, “Oh look! This person asked, ‘Can I use an oven'” and Chooch goes, “Yeah that was me. That was LITERALLY ME.”

I have a headache.

Good thing we have those fire blankets.

YOU GUYS I’m positive we didn’t make these as intended but, against all odds, they taste fucking delicious. The first one came out the most normal looking. The rest are like, dough scraps but still delicious.

We made a penis-shaped one for Henry!

A half hour later, I glanced in the kitchen. “I guess we should just leave this for him to clean up?” And then Chooch and I scream-laughed our faces off. I think we’ve reached peak isolation. It has to be all downhill from here.

Oh wait, but then Henry told me that he ripped his pants today and didn’t realize it until he went back to the office and one of his coworkers said, “Nice underwear.” Yes, this is my favorite part of today’s isolation.

In case you were wondering if beverage deliverymen are essential during a pandemic, that would be a yes. Henry still has to work and his skin is basically burning off his hands from manic-application of hand sanitizer.

5:00PM: Henry just came home and is so mad. “I’m not cleaning that!” he yelled, but now he’s in there cleaning it. Chooch let the “dough” dry on the rolling pin and Henry is very upset about this. Also, he tried the bread and threw it back on the plate. Chooch and I were so insulted, but then I took a bite, and you know, now that they’ve been laying there for a few hours, I can tell that um, these actually aren’t fully cooked, lol. It’s pretty raw, is that why my stomach hurts do you think?

Chooch reminded me that there wasn’t egg in it at least.

A week later, we looked up allegedly “easy” vegan recipes that we could potentially make during the day since our chef isn’t home, but the first one I put on immediately wanted us to peel a potato and I screamed PEEL IT YOURSELF and started to look for another recipe video but lost interest at an alarming speed and put on a Booktube video instead. But then Chooch found some “Easy Naan-type bread” video but it called for lemon juice for some reason and we don’t have that, so he texted Henry “bring home lemon juice” 8x and Henry responded, “Do you need lemon juice?” because he thinks he’s so fucking funny, about as funny as a fifth grade science teacher from the 70s.

Anyway, Henry came home from work with the lemon juice and suddenly Chooch is a bread baker. I had zero hand in it, which is probably why it turned out ok. He came out of the kitchen with a ball of dough in his meat-mitts and said, “Mom! Look!” and I was like, “Holy shit, that looks like real dough and not that weird-ass paste shit we made last week!” which, to be fair, we determined was my fault because I threw the recipe in the air and just plopped everything together in a bowl at once, and apparently there is a reason why you need to mix the dry ingredients alone and then SLOWLY add the wet shit LITTLE BY LITTLE. Who knew?!

I guess a trillion bakers before me.

****

Sadly, that was the last time Chooch baked bread. I should have goaded him into making Irish soda bread yesterday even though I make a point of not celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, UGHHHH.

Anyway, if you have any easy bread recipes that you’d like to see Chooch try, let me know!

Feb 142021
 

You guys, Sugar Spell Scoops has returned from their much-deserved January hiatus, just in time for Valentine’s Day! Their cupid-approved comeback featured 6 flavors, but I managed to repress my inner pig and only ordered 4. I try to reason that I’m giving other people a chance. It is literally Pint Panic during these pre-orders, you guys. Their ice cream is highly sought after and their winning reputation has been growing with each release. So, if you don’t sent a reminder on your phone and sit there hitting refresh like you’re trying to buy Blackpink concert tickets, then lolololol have fun eating your SO Delicious.

Be My Valentine is their Feb 14th spin on their famous Dunkaroo flavor, which was the first scoop Chooch ever got from Sugar Spell and I remember having flavor-remorse that day because I of course liked my choice but after he gave me a taste of his, I was straight up coveting it. So now I always make sure to snag a pint when it’s part of a pre-order! This version has chocolate Teddy Grahams and pink funfetti buttercream frosting swirls which honestly disengages my self-control and I just want to sit in a dark closet with my pint and spoon it into my slobbering mouth with my bare hands.

Chooch proclaimed Burnin’ Love as his favorite – it’s chocolate ice cream with mini chips, cinnamon and cayenne pepper. Woo boy, that subtle throat burn is perfection! Also, I have said this on here before and I’m not just being hyperbolic but Sugar Spell makes the best chocolate ice cream I have ever had and it’s even more incredible when you remember, as that rich chocolate pillow of flavor melts on your tongue, that this IS VEGAN.

AMBROSIA!!! I was determined to get this one because my mom made ambrosia for every summer cookout we had when I was growing up – to this day I’m always like “YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG” if I go to someone else’s party and they don’t have a big fucking bowl of ambrosia (or strawberry pretzel salad! If you can’t have both, at least pick one!). I did a whole post here last summer about summer picnic salads. It is actually stupid how on point this ice cream version is.

Perfect Matcha is obviously matcha, but also stawberry rose ice cream topped with rose petals! It’s mine all mine because neither Henry nor Chooch like matcha (well, I think Chooch is ok with matcha but he doesn’t love floral flavors in food) and oh baby this is so refreshing. It’s just the right amount of rose without leaving you with that cloying, accidental perfume inhalation taste in the back of your throat, you know what I mean? Sometimes, floral-flavors can be too heavy-handed, or they can just catch you off guard and leave you with a choking fit in the middle of a temple on a Hare Krishna compound when you imbibe water without knowing it had been steeped with an entire rose garden even though your FRIEND JANNA tried to warn you.

Ah, Sugar Spell – welcome back. You were missed!

Next up in vegan food pre-orders,  Onion Maiden’s occasional pop-up The Ramen returned this weekend, and I excitedly pre-ordered two bowls of spicy ramen for Chooch and me, and then the Flower People cheesecake which we will get to in a second….but first – RAMEN CLOSE-UP:

Now let’s get into this cheesecake! It’s made with ube & peach cashew cheesecake, with a soft helmet of cashew cream, chamomile, raspberry dust, and coconut.

It was so rich and dense that I willingly shared it with Henry.

We ordered two pieces though so you might catch me eating while crying in the shower because I’m going through some emotions lately HAHAHA ugh.

Anyway – back to Ambrosia Talk. Whenever Sugar Spell announced that as a flavor, I started a conversation on Instragram with Amanda (Sugar Spell’s mastermind) about how nostalgic this is and she told me that her grandma used to make a variation of it called Frog Eye Salad, which I have never heard of and became immediately obsessed as soon as Amanda mentioned that it contains PASTA.

She sent me the veganized recipe she uses and when I passed it on to Henry, he was intrigued enough to make it last night. I am here now to tell you that it is delicious and the pasta gives it the BEST texture!!

SO GOOD! And it’s not overly sugary or heavy so it makes a nice snack or a breakfast side (I may have done both today lol).

Here’s the recipe Amanda sent me if anyone is interested!

 

Jan 152021
 

Gonna be real honest here (I dunno why I always preface shit with that, as though I’m typically FAKE NEWS’ing my way through these updates), this is most TGIF’ish I’ve felt in a long while. Here are five things plus some photos that have nothing to do with anything.

  • Henrys Voice Crush

I guess helping me make those book cover cookies really inspired Henry to work on his literacy, because he DOWNLOADED THE LIBBY APP and has been listening to audiobooks while he carts pallets of Faygo around the warehouse all the livelong day. He’s already listened to Beartown (!!!) and then decided he liked the narrator’s voice so he searched Libby for more books narrated by her, and then ended up getting one of my other Top 13 Books of 2020 – Nothing To See Here. Apparently she also narrated whatever that prequel to Practical Magic is that just came out, so HE LISTENED TO THAT NEXT and why is this so hilarious to me??? After he finished it, he said, “It was good. I guess I will listen to Practical Magic now.” When I started squealing with giddiness, he got all bent out of shape and asked, “WHAT? I’ve seen the movie…”

I wonder if he saw it ON A DATE.

Anyway, Chooch is trying to be emancipated now that he’s lost BOTH parents into the literary world.

  • The Call

Speaking of movies, if you want to watch a good horror movie and don’t mind subtitles, the Korean film “The Call” is on Netflix and it is SUPERB. Henry and I finally watched it last weekend and I was legitimately scared, which rarely happens anymore with me and horror. Also, the main girl, Park Shin-Hye, is from one of my FAVORITE MOST-BESTEST K-DRAMAs, The Heirs.

  • Good Veg Foods I’ve Recently Devoured

Last week, Zenith has seitan tacos on their menu and I’m not one of those Taco Tinas by any means but I was suddenly really in the mood for a damn taco. It was delicious, as usual, because Zenith. Side note: When I was younger, I NEVER EVER EVER opted for soft tacos. It was hard shells all the way. In fact, for a long time I didn’t even realize soft tacos were a thing! Now that I’m An Old, soft tacos are my friends because biting into hard shells makes me nervous. Also, those ones are messier and I’ve acquired a major food mess phobia somewhere along the way.

And then for dinner tonight, Henry got me takeout from Apteka. Please say hello to my BBQ Yuba sandwich, which is now in my stomach. (Pineapple + morita adobo, seared yuba, smoked garlic slaw, pickle. Not a burger but on a sesame seed bun.)

It was good but the adobo took a bit to get used to and then after I figured out what was going on, I pretty much swallowed the whole thing in two bites. (To be fair, I split it with Henry, because he got a vegan steak hoagie from Spak’s which is down the street from Apteka, and I wanted in on that action too. It’s fun when Henry opts for vegetarian stuff too so that we can share – I THINK THAT IS WHAT LOVE IS ALL ABOUT but I’m not the best at that because I’m so selfish.)

Chooch and I have restarted Jillian Michaels’ Body Revolution and tonight we have to start level 3 so I’ll probably puke all this food up at some people, you’re welcome for visuals of me vomiting on my mat while sweat drips off my face and commingles with the puke puddle.

  • MY FAVORITE PLATE

Since you can kind of see it in the FOOD PICTURES, I decided to talk about MY FAVORITE PLATE which I have had since middle school (early 90s, OK? I  told you, I’m An Old) but haven’t seen in years and then I recently found it in the basement when I was looking for something else, and this was an astonishing find (LOL like it was a ruby heirloom or something) because I honestly can’t remember this plate ever coming with me after I moved out of my parents’ house when I was 18?! But I apparently had it this whole time!?

Anyway, this plate is special (so special that I forgot about it for 20+ years, but OK, cook on, Erin) because I got it when I was in Italy with my aunt Sharon and grandparents. There is this highway rest stop / cafeteria chain called Autogrill and our tour group would stop there occasionally when we were on the bus, en route to the next destination. It was always a big deal for my aunt because if you got the Autogrill special, it was served on a collectors plate. She ended up with quite a few of them over the years (I don’t remember seeing any of them when we cleaned out my grandparents house – DID SHE SELL THEM ON EBAY?!). I only opted to do this once or twice, because the “Special” was always something that sounded gross to a kid. My palate just wanted a basic grilled cheese, but if we’re being honest (OMG there I go again) the only thing I had my fat kid eyes set on was the dessert buffet, mmkay.

Do not ask me what sort of lunch I had to swallow in order to earn this prized plate (probably liver and onions) but I did it and I have recently started giving this plate the appreciation it deserves. I use it EVERY DAY and Henry and Chooch know that it’s off limits to whatever dumb foods they might consider slopping onto it. (Chooch’s food would be OK but god only knows with Henry – he might actually reintroduce it to liver and onions.)

  • A Random Piece of Chooch Info

On one of our walks recently, he said that he hopes to have a son and daughter one day and he will name them both Chris. Not Christopher or Christina, but they’ll each just be “Chris.” So…look forward to that?

Well, on  that note, I’ll sign off with a creepy picture of my bedroom that I took accidentally the other night when I was getting ready for bed.

Dec 182020
 

Today is the three year anniversary (that word seems not right) of Jonghyun’s death and I burst into tears thinking about that while I was doing the dishes this morning and so let’s do a Friday five to distract that blog-author, can we? Can we really?

I’ve been off work all week but as usual, I have very little going on so let’s see what I can pull out of my…brain.

CHOOCH’S MEMOIR

I mentioned previously in here that Chooch has to write a short memoir-type essay for his creative writing class and actually opted to write about his trip to Korea, which obviously made my heart swell. However, he’s been furiously searching my blog for my Korea recaps in order to get names, dates, places and basically every other detail correct. I’m not sure if this is something you’ll believe, but I have been STRAIGHT UP GLOATING over this because HAHA suddenly MOMMY’S BLOG is useful.

Anyway, he has opted to go the “switchback” route, which has allowed him to combine both trips into one story and at first I was like THAT IS NOT GOING TO WORK but then he ironed out some smaller details and it’s actually turning out pretty cool.

Also, his computer crashed last night at midnight when he was finishing up his essay and he lost two entire pages because he wasn’t aware that Word has an auto-save option that needed to be turned on and while I feel super bad for him, I’m also kind of like, “Initiation complete. Welcome to the writing club.”

It’s due at some point today so I hope he gets it done!? I’m fighting the urge to be That Mom who writes papers for their kids but good goddamn do I want to stick my finger in this pie, wow that sounded awful.

KILLER KLOWN

I got some more fantastic pieces from my favorite pin maker The Idol Collective (which is currently defunct because   Danielle is actually rebranding herself so I’m not sure if The Idol Collective is coming back or if she will be reopening under a completely new name, but I do hope she comes back because I LOVE HER).

Killer Klowns From Outerspace was one of my favorite horror movies as a child. My younger brother Ryan and I used to go ham over horror movies, especially those of the B-variety (The Gate, anybody?) and Killer Klowns was definitely on our shortlist of favorites, so when The Idol Collective debuted this new line of necklaces, I snatched one up without even blinking. I love working from home, but I’m also kind of like, “when can we go back?” because I have so many new pieces and literally nowhere to wear them!

Side note: that Killer Klown / popcorn sculpture thing was made by Chuck Jarmon, a mastermind in the Halloween costume and prop industry. A long ass time ago, he asked me to write some descriptions of his products and then gifted me this amazing piece as a thank you. We had become friends through a mutual, who I’m no longer friends with because she accused me of “talking shit on [her] mother” and I lost him in the friend divorce, which is sad, but we’re all adults here and he is allowed to make that choice, I guess…EVEN THOUGH IT WAS THE WRONG ONE. Lol.

TREK TO HANDPIELAND

Last night, 350 Bakery posted on Instagram about the new hand pies for this weekend, one of which is ROASTED WINTER VEGETABLES. I was all set to tell Henry to get his ass over there on Saturday morning, but then they mentioned that three local coffee shops were going to be selling them on Friday, and one of those coffee shops is 802 Coffee (so many number names, ugh) which is on the boulevard, so I was like, “I AM GETTING THAT IN THE MORNING” and usually I say things like that and then I wake up and think, “Eh, maybe another day.” But not today. I sprung out of bed, showered, quickly acknowledged Chooch’s presence, and then set off for my mile(ish?) trek along slushy, unshoveled sidewalks (thanks, neighbors) but as expected, this bad boy was totally worth lacing up my boots for.

File under: things that motivate me to leave the house.

KPOP DAD

I was really bored one night last week and had this GREAT IDEA to pop quiz Henry on all of the members of the Kpop mega-group, NCT. In 2020, they acquired several new members, and now, when all of their units are combined, they are up to a whopping TWENTY-THREE MEMBERS. That’s insane! I remember when I got into NCT a few years ago, the only unit I followed was NCT-127 which had…nine members then, I think? And I was like, “I WILL NEVER KNOW ALL OF THEIR NAMES.” Flash forward to 2020 and I can name all members of NCT127, NCT Dream, and WayV (the Chinese member unit).

Their agency has released this super ambitious undertaking with all of the members of those units, plus two entirely new members, for a massive NCT 2020 release. There’s one song (at least – I haven’t really looked into the whole entire album yet) that features all 23 members, and then the members are broken up into smaller groups for all of the other songs. Whenever NCT does stuff like this, it’s known as NCT-U. (It’s a whole fucking culture, you guys, you have no idea how long it took me to understand the NCT concept!)

Anyway, I gave Henry a sheet of paper and a pencil and told him to go to town. He was able to eke out the names of 11 members.

“I have to tell Veronica!” I squealed through hysterical peals of laughter. Veronica is my favorite kpop partner-in-crime whom I met on Instagram and I would be so lonely in this kpop world without her, I’ll tell you!

“Why do you have to tell her everything?” Henry sighed. But he secretly loves it, I think.

Then it was my turn and I got 22/23 because I can never remember new member Sungchan, although I probably will now.

01:27 — NCT 2020

 BAD INTERNET FRIENDS

In a previous post, I mentioned that I took down a shelf that used to live at the top of the steps and the things I found stashed away in it are Pure Gold. For instance, I found a note that one of my co-workers at Echostar and I had written back and forth (we were such great pupils in that training class!) and at first I was like “wtf are we going on about” because whoever I was writing to had replied “why would your friend want to spend the last 2 months of her life working here?!” And then I realized we were talking about my friend Cinn whom I had recently met through a gothic chat room called Darkchat and supposedly had a brain tumor.

BUT GUESS WHAT GUYS SHE WAS LYING ABOUT IT FOR ATTENTION and I guess she just hadn’t anticipated becoming IRL friends with someone from there (we lived like 15 minutes away from each other) so then her stupid ass lie took on a life of its own and it made me feel so pathetic and angry to read my parts of the note because it was clear that I really cared about my new friend who was going to die soon and how fucked up is that??

We are no longer friends, although we did come in and out of each other’s lives several times for about 8-ish years, long enough that Henry had met her and learned very quickly that she was a fucking snake. But still, I was blind to it, or maybe it was a purposeful blind eye I had, because I was attached to her. She was the big sister I never had. She took care of me. But she was also very quick to belittle and humiliate me in front of others; it took me years to finally understand that this happened when she wasn’t getting attention from the room.

Seeing that note really opened up a wound that I hadn’t realized was still festering under my skin. I ranted about this for a while to Henry and then realized that I’ve had so many awful encounters and fall-outs with people that I met online, that I could do a whole series on it WOULD U COME HERE FOR THAT TEA, y or n?!?!?

On that note, I have to go watch the squirrels from my window. At least they don’t let me down. (Although, they do use me…)

Oct 272020
 

During these #UghTimes, it’s so important to forage for all the little things you can find that boost your mood. For my household, it’s treating ourselves to the occasional Sugar Spell Scoops pint presales. We were always just the casual scoop procuring customer pre-pandemic, but we really want to support this insanely good local business which is owned by the nicest, sweetest, cutest couple who have always been so friendly to us, and that really makes all the difference in the world. I used to be such a fangirl of another local ice cream shop, Millie’s, but a series of disappointing interactions with employees left me with a bad taste in my mouth (rivaled only by their sorry attempt at vegan ice cream) so I have happily giving Sugar Spell all of my business since then.

Plus, they do vegan ice cream BEAUTIFULLY and SKILLFULLY. The flavors they create are creative and artisanal, and soooo good that even Highbrow Hank will happily stick in a spoon. The pints are a bit pricy, but vegan ingredients ain’t cheap, yo. Which is why I thought FOR SURE Henry would be like, “JUST PICK THREE” when the entire collection of Halloween flavors was unveiled last week, but instead, he said, “Just get all of them.”

IT FELT LIKE CHRISTMAS!!

Until I remembered that the presales can often sell out quickly, especially when there are seasonal flavors. I have been (freezer?) burnt in the past by rolling up an hour or two too late, only to see the flavors I wanted are long gone. So now I will typically set a reminder on my phone to ensure I get what I want.

However!!!! I knew that this one in particular was going to be like Hunger Games, because every single flavor was special. And I wanted them all! So I devised a strategy: Henry and I would go to the site at the same time. I would get the first 4 flavors listed, he would get the rest.

And maybe if you have walked past our house last Thursday at approx. 7:02pm, you would have heard me screaming like Monica Gellar because while I was able to snag the first four pints, Henry’s phone was spinning on the checkout page. And he was just sitting there ever so calmly?!

“WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU DO?!!?” I screamed at him, like he accidentally threw away the Hope diamond.

“I can’t get it to stop spinning. Just go back and place the second order yourself,” he shrugged with an “It’s just ice cream” nonchalance.

When I went back to the order page, TWO OF THE FLAVORS WERE ALREADY SOLD OUT, thank god they were the ones I already ordered though! So I tried to order the three that Henry failed to snag, but the pumpkin one couldn’t be added to my cart! I was FUCKING SCREAMING because it was the one I wanted the most.

“Just get the other two then!” Henry said, ready to slap me in the face with a wet fish to bring me back to IT’S JUST ICE CREAM reality.

So I got the other two and then spent a solid minute berating Henry for fucking up the system. Almost all of the pints were sold out at this point, but the pumpkin one didn’t have the “sold out” circle on it so I was confused. I tried to add it to my cart again, and Henry was like, “IT’S BECAUSE YOU HAVE TO SELECT AN OPTION!!” since it was the only one that had a GF/non-GF option, and I didn’t even notice it! So once I selected something from the drop-down, I was able to purchase it!

IT TOOK THREE SEPARATE ORDERS BUT WE GOT ALL FLAVORS! And every single one of them was sold out within 15 minutes, it was insanity.

Then it took a good hour for my heartrate to go down. It is literally comparable to purchasing kpop concert tickets, ISTFG. In the moments leading up to the order form going live, I get the Ticketmaster queue stomach cramps and pee-jigs. Whew!

Sunday was pick-up day and Henry said when he went inside to get our pints, Amanda the Scoop Genius said to her partner, “Oh, I think they have like 127 orders.” Lol.

We are not usually this indulgent (I think the most we ever purchased at one time was 4, but usually we just get 2 or 3 and they will last us a good while!)  but it’s Halloween and we are sad. This makes it feel more celebratory!

l-r with descriptions taken straight from Sugar Spell:

  • Vampire’s Blood (you can’t tell in this picture but once we dug in, the blood swirls were poppin’!): sweet cream base with coagulated blackberry red wine reduction. (The red wine is the fucking flavor burst we all need right now.)
  • Wake the Dead: Black coffee base with GF cookie dirt and white chocolate skulls. (Apparently, this contains activated charcoal!)
  • Wolfman’s Lint Roller (Henry’s favorite): First of all, how fantastic is this name? It’s chocolate coconut ice cream with chocolate coconut fur, chocolate syrup slobber, sliced almond claws, and puffed rice ticks.
  • Trick or Treat: PB ice cream with caramel ribbons, crushed peanuts, candy-coated bits, house-made PB cups, and topped with an assorted spooky shaped chocolate. (Fun fact: Chooch always corrects me because I say CARMUL and he says CARA-MEL, yet whenever I read it, I pronounce it his way in my head.)
  • Witch’s Brew: lavender ice cream with matcha whipped cream swirl and bubbling cauldron sprinkle spread. (Um, hello, a mash-up of two of my favorite flavors in the entire world???? This one had a lot riding on it.)
  • Ecto Cooler: You guys, no description needed. This literally tastes JUST LIKE THE HI-C VERSION.
  • Pumpkin Cookies & Cream: self-explanatory!

So….at first I was like, “do not make me choose a favorite” but I’m going to say it: Witch’s Brew and Vampire’s Blood have my heart. ALL OF THE FLAVORS ARE TO DIE FOR (haha) please don’t get it twisted, but if I had to go back in time and ONLY choose two, it would be these two.

Mmm, coagulated blackberry blood, boiiiii.

I’m so grateful to be in a position to support small businesses during these dark times. I know at the end of the day, ice cream isn’t essential, but giving your mental health some TLC definitely is, and what better way than treating yourself to fun vegan ice cream while knowing that you’re helping to keep a local shop afloat AT THE SAME TIME? All while wearing a mask, of course!

I love this place so much that if they had a street team like Warped Tour-type bands used to have in the 2000s, I’d sign up and pass out stickers on Brookline Boulevard for sure. I might even make sampler CDs of kpop groups to go along with it. There are a lot of ice cream/dessert-themed songs in kpop land, like this one!

 

Sep 292020
 

So we’ve officially experienced every season through the lens of a pandemic. How fucking depressing! Woo!

I don’t really have too much to report. I mostly spent a lot of time taking walks and smiling at the fall foliage that’s beginning to turn up around town.

It makes me remember that my neighborhood can be so cute sometimes, even when there has been road work going on FOR MONTHS NOW on my street, as pictured.

Since our H-Mart daytrip was dashed (don’t worry, since this was something that HENRY wanted to do, it will be rescheduled post haste), we made use of the extra time to get more shit done around the house. It’s really frustrating to have so many open-ended projects going at once, but there has to be an end in sight at some point, I guess? For example, Henry got more work done on the coffee table. I think I mentioned that on here, but we’re just refurbing our current coffee table and by that I mean we gave it a fresh paint job with some new colors and we’re swapping out the pictures that were on the top with much better pictures and by that I obviously mean pictures from our trips to Korea.

We ordered takeout from Apteka since we couldn’t get the vegan food we were pining for in Maryland and I swear, every time I eat at Apteka, I wonder why I don’t eat there more often. Well, probably because it always makes me gain weight, but still – would you look at the hunk’a sadnwich?! Good god damn. I could barely even take down half of it. I’m not joking when I say that it felt like holding a brick when I took it out of the box!

Anyway, this was the Horse & Pepper, which is:

Baked buckwheat veg paté, roast & marinated
jimmy nardello peppers, horseradish slaw, pickled
red jalapenos, and black garlic, on our naturally
leavened spent seed bread.

Oh for the love, this sandwich was DIVINE and, clearly, HEARTY. Honestly though I think the bread was my favorite part — it was so nutty and fresh! Although that horseradish really, and I can’t believe I’m going to say this but now I have to because it was the first thing that came to my head and now I am convinced I’ve been accepted into the 1970s Dad Club, hit the spot. 

Henry refuses to get food from here ever since the one and only time he went and hated every single person eating there alongside us. Look, I’m not a fan of the stereotypical vegan either, but when a place offers EASTERN EUROPEAN vegan cuisine, I will gladly suffer through hearing the lady next to me breastfeeding in Birkenstocks while talking about the new Surfjan record.

That being said, Henry ordered his own vegan food from the nearby pizza joint, Spak’s. I think he got vegan steak and cheese, and seitan wings. All I know is that I also ordered apricot cake that came with sunflower see ice cream and it really jacked me up a notch on the BMI scale and I was bloated for two days, but it was worth it.

Honestly the bread alone could have made a substantial meal.

Most of Saturday was spent watching Kpop stuff on YouTube, I can’t lie.

And then Sunday morning was SO BEAUTIFUL. Henry Oppa got up early and brought home heavenly baked goods from 350 Bakery, which I originally made fun of because I thought their name was generic, like it was probably their street address and that’s one of my pet peeves, when a business can’t think of a better name for their brand other than their goddamn street address, but then I noticed that there is a circle-y thing after their name so it’s actually 350 Degree and I guess that’s a little better.

Later that morning, I walked down to the local high school and did some laps at the track and it felt almost normal. I used to spend a lot of time at the track back when I would participate in the Law Firm walking challenges.

And then most of Sunday we painted. “We.” LOLOLOLOL.

Wait, let me back up. A few weeks ago, I decided that I wanted to paint one wall in the dining room purple and replace all the pictures and paintings that currently live on that wall with photos from Korea (what a shocker) in frames that have been painted the same green as our dining room chairs.

But then I was like WHY STOP THERE and casually came up with a color palette for all the walls in the dining room and then Henry diligently went to Lowe’s and purchased the paint.

So, remember the Get Stoked sign that Henry made for me a bunch of years ago? Well, it stopped working sometime in 2017. Henry was like, “I KNOW WHAT’S WRONG BUT I DON’T FEEL LIKE TAKING IT OFF THE WALL” because he really mounted that sucker to the wall real goodly. But now that we’re painting all of the walls, he said, “I might as well fix this while I have it off the wall” and he did JUST THAT Saturday night and it only took him like 10 minutes!

The secret is to make them think it’s their own idea, you guys.

But yeah, welcome back, Get Stoked sign! It will be nice to use it as mood lighting again if we’re ever able to have guests in the house. Sigh.

In other weekend news, I grudgingly started playing that stupid Among Us game that all the children are into lately because I was trying to use it as leverage to get Chooch to agree to a photoshoot on the day trip that we didn’t even take, but all that really happened was that I accidentally became low-key obsessed with playing it even though I have no idea what I’m doing and I’ve only gotten to be the Impostor 3x and also it bothers me that it looks like “impostor” is spelled wrong but it’s correct?! I literally thought it was some glaring typo and I quietly looked it up in the Dictionary app and wow, I was 41-years-old when I learned how to spell impostor. Imposter. <–yeah, it’s wrong! I wanted to see if the red squiggles appeared and they did!

I guess I will close that chapter in my life now.

Anyway, sometimes Chooch’s friends are in the game and one of them called me GAY like it’s a bad word and Chooch was like “bruh that’s my mom” and then someone got killed and I said “it wasn’t me” and everyone was like, “Ruby seems sus” and I got kicked off!!!!!!!! I WASN’T THE IMPOSTER! OMFG I SPELLED IT WRONG AGAIN.

Can’t this just be an alt spelling? Like color/colour?

Sunday night, I realized that I could change my language in the game to Korean and then it gave me all games with Korean people and I was screaming but Chooch was like, “YOU CAN’T PLAY WITH KOREANS. YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO COMMUNICATE” but all I really had to say was “who??” and I know that word in Korean but then it was really hard to join a game because I kept getting kicked out by the hosts before the games started and Chooch was like, “THEY KNOW YOU’RE AMERICAN, YOU IDIOT, AND THEY DON’T WANT YOU” so then I changed the spelling of my name to a Korean version but even then I was getting kicked out! I was very sad but Chooch said it was probably because everyone in the rooms probably knew each other and were waiting for their friends to join.

I mean, it helped me sleep a little better that night, believing that.

Anyway, weekend was fine. Now I’m getting ready to watch this debate and I feel like I’m going to puke, like I’m the one going up there behind a podium. Fuck Trump!!

Sep 122020
 

One might think that my life is super full and busy, keeping me posting timely recaps. But no, I just have blog-lethargy. Not bad enough to give it up totally, even though this is usual the time every year when I have super navel-gazey internal debate of To Quit Blogging Or Not To Quit Blogging, like it’s some major life decision, but usually what happens is that Chooch or Henry will have some rando memory, the details of which are blurry, and I’ll be like, “I BLOGGED ABOUT THAT, PLEASE HOLD” and then viola, I am here to serve the facts (but if you ask them, they will frown and say, “This feels a bit skewed, but at least you have the date right.”

And that’s my intro into another weekend update, in the middle of a new weekend! Last weekend was a three-day holiday weekend (in the US) which was fine but you know, these three-day weekends are much less exciting when you’ve got nowhere to go. I actually considered driving to the other side of the state just to go to one of the big Korean grocery stores and stock up on makgeolli because god forbid it should be available in Pittsburgh. But then I remembered that Henry still has lots of chores to do and wanted to keep him at home doing said chores, but instead I had him doing a freaking tour of all the Goodwills in the tri-state area because I was looking for a VERY SPECIFIC type of picture frame for a ceiling light fixture design I created in my head and why is it so hard to transfer my head-ideas into tangible things!?

I was feeling extremely gross after the third Goodwill we tried so we went home and I pouted.

It’s really fucking sad how all the days blend together and I can’t be sure if this is 100% pandemic-related or maybe also a bit of me getting old and perhaps needed to do some brain exercises? But I can’t fucking remember what happened when, except that I know for a fact, we went to Page Dairy Mart on SATURDAY because precious baby Henry wanted to get their raspberry torte sundae and when I went on their Instagram, I saw that one of their fall flavors was APPLE BUTTER which sounded like a nice change from that basic bitch Pumpkin, so I wanted to get that and was excited but then we got there and it was super crowded which you could argue was maybe because everyone was social-distancing but it still looked like it was a bit much so Henry was like I AM NOT WAITING IN THAT LINE and then we went to another Goodwill and can I just tell you that one thing about Goodwill, god bless them, is that they are trying so hard to follow COVID guidelines and they have their aisles marked as one-ways and do not enters, which I really appreciate but it’s still Goodwill and the people who go there are gonna be all whatever about it anyway, so I felt super uncomfortable and just raced to the picture frame sections in each one and the split the moment I saw they didn’t have what I needed, even though Henry was a massive fan of browsing every single aisle in thrift shops. I just have that kind of patience unless I’m not looking for anything specific.

Otherwise, I’m not very flexible and open-minded.

But ahoy! (I don’t even know what that means exactly.) On the way back, Page’s was much less crowded so Henry and Chooch got in line while I stayed safe in the car like the actual princess I am.

While I was waiting for them, I had to listen to some jackass have a loud conversation with his brother on speaker about how he’s going to be renting a car for two months and mom and dad don’t know he’s saved up money from his severance to buy a new car and his tone was so obnoxiously cocky. The guy was a huge dick who probably tries to flex on his gf all the time but I bet she responds by kicking him in the nuts, also they had their dog with them and I felt bad that the dog has to live with an asshole like that.

Yeah, so my softserve was fine! Dd it taste like apple butter though? Maybe? For a second? Then it slid into some other strange and tangy flavor profile, so I don’t know. I certainly wouldn’t send anyone on a pilgrimage to try it BUT!! I do recommend Page Dairy Mart for their sundae offerings and actually every other soft serve flav I’ve had there in the past has been impeccable (the blueberry is the best but they only have it for a VERY BRIEF time, usually in spring I think, and they use fresh blueberries. It actually makes me giddy just thinking about it.)

What else happened on Saturday. I went for a walk that evening and right outside my house I went to move over to let some guy pass me and he said, “What’s up Erin?” and I was like, “………………………hi.” I had no idea who it was?! Then he said, “Stay safe kiddo” and I said, “You, too.”

“I always do!” he said jovially, and then he took a sip of his drink, pivoted on his heel and walked away.

If you are reading this and it was you or said hello to me, please let me know because my eyes are bad and I honestly didn’t recognize this guy but his voice sounded familiar?! I DON’T REALLY NO ONE WHO LIVES IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD SO IT’S A MYSTERY.

Oh yeah, sometime on Saturday we also learned that Chooch has been doing laundry for the last several months with fabric softener and nothing else. I’m so worthless that I was like, “Is that bad? What does that mean?” and Henry just stared at me and walked away so I had to google it.

On Sunday, Henry and I woke up very early and look I know I said I was against this, but we went to the flea market because I was still looking for a stupid frame and we though maybe if we went before 7:30am, it won’t be so bad, but there were so many maskless bastards, or people just wearing their masks improperly, and then there was some bitch who was seriously tryna sell us her “homemade” Frozen-themed dry erase board for $20 when all I really was the frame and even THAT wasn’t worth $20 nor was it really that great so Henry was like, “We’ll come back!” and I was like, “No we won’t.” Then we saw a table selling a slew of MAGA hats and I was loudly spouting off about that and then I overheard one hick-man ask another hick-man where he got his Trump flag and I was like I NEED TO GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE NOW.

Also I was wearing the Korea Times concert shirt that my girl Veronica sent me last year (IT HAS TAEMIN’S FACE ON THE BACK!) and all these rednecks kept staring at it and my Kore Limited mask which has KOREAN WORDS ON IT and I was like, “THESE RACISTS CAN STARE AT ME AS MUCH AS THEY WANT IT’S NOT GOING TO CHANGE THE FACT THAT MY CLOTHES ARE KOREAN. RACISTS ASSHOLES.” and Henry was like, “Calm down” SO I FUCKING KILLED HIM.

WITH MY BARE HANDS.

Yeah, so Ieft with no picture frame, but one corpse, and made sure I ran my mouth about Trump the whole way back to the car. My favorite part was when I shouted about how great it felt to be the so much better than everyone there. Hope they don’t get tetanus when they trip over their fleeing brain cells and fall face-first into their piles of rusted wares.

I DON’T KNOW WHAT’S HAPPENING IN MY HEAD ANYMORE BUT THERE ARE CONVERSATIONS AND THEY SOUND REALLY SOLID UNTIL I TRANSCRIBE THEM ON HERE.

Later!

There was more room-painting. They (I put a new battery in Henry so he could come back to life and finish his chores) got it mostly finished but there are still spots that need touched up, the doors need painted, I have an accent wall that I told Chooch I’m doing (whether he likes it or not) and Henry still has to hang all his pictures back up. Can I tell you a secret? A long time ago on LiveJournal I was friends with this bitch who I started to realize later on secretly hated me but before I understood that I used to support her stupid Etsy shop even though I didn’t think her art was that great (girl hush, I don’t think mine is great at all either so this was no fucking competition) and I bought several paintings back when Chooch’s room was “Chooch’s nursery.” Anyway, when I saw them in his stack of shit that needs rehung, I held them up and asked, “Do you even like these?” and he did that noncommittal shrug he does paired with a deep hard stare into my mind because he’s trying to figure out what answer I want him to give and I rescued him by saying, “Because the person who painted these is an asshole and I want to throw them out” and he was like, “OK whew, yeah, go ‘head.”

(Hey, I paid for them, they weren’t gifts!)

(I can only imagine how many of my own paintings are rotting in garbage dumps across the country, lol. #burnedbridges)

That afternoon, Henry and I went back out because I was like MAYBE WE CAN FIND SOMETHING IN MICHAELS OR THE HALLOWEEN SECTION OF TARGET and we didn’t but we DID find a Halloween hotel scratch pad! I was so stoked because I wanted to get one of these last year but they were sold out at every Target and not available for online orders, but this year they had a huge upgrade with this two-story version! Henry had the audacity to try and put the smaller one in the cart instead and I was “the fuck is wrong with you, cheap ass?” and swapped it out for the big one!

Chooch pushed it up to their Xmas one from last year, which is also a double-decker but nearly as grand, so whenever a cat is halfway in one and the other, Chooch screams, “THANKSGIVING!” Fucking dumbo.

Later, on our nightly walk, some lady started screaming about how she likes my jacket. ITS SO SPARKLY! YOU LOOK ADORABLE IN IT! And to my right, Chooch was stewing. His biggest nightmare! Strangers complimenting me! God forbid!!

(I mean, she was super over the top about it though.)

I don’t think anything super exciting happened after that, but MONDAY was the best because I woke up at 6am and was treated to a brand new TAEMIN MV which I already posted here that day, and then later on I realized, “OH HOLY SHIT THE WHOLE ALBUM CAME OUT TODAY?!” and shit, I can’t think of very many feelings that are better than getting to explore new songs from one of your favorite artists for the first time. The whole day was spent playing and replaying and pausing and jumping back 10 seconds all day long. I was in the best mood!

Especially because the night before, I did a Bad Thing and checked out Hobby Lobby’s website and saw that they had a mirror with a frame that was very close to what I was looking for. It was on sale for $45 which is not very “on sale” if you ask me, but it was supposedly down from $85 which is, just…wow. I can’t imagine thinking a mirror was worth that much, but OK. So the reason why this was a Bad Thing is because I have, until now, never set foot inside of a Hobby Lobby. Yes, this is on purpose. I’ve boycotted them ever since 2014 because fuck their “religious beliefs” (I won’t eat at Chik-Fil-A either, good thing I’m vegetarian anyway).

So now, here I am, in a fucking Hobby Lobby and not only did they have what I needed, but they had the mirror in the clearance section BECAUSE THE MIRROR WAS BROKEN SO IT WAS MARKED DOWN TO $11.

I was just gonna smash the mirror out of it anyway! (Until Henry took charge and carefully removed the glass before I had a chance to swing down my mallet.)

I was in such a good mood that I even made charismatic small talk with the cashier and hardly anyone gets to have that side of me anymore! THE POWER OF TAEMIN.

Afterward, we went to Sheetz so Henry could, I don’t know what he was doing actually. Getting a soft pretzel probably. But I looked at their app to find a coffee drink and saw that their limited edition flavor is APPLE BUTTER?? I guess this really is the new basic bitch fall flavor! Of course I had to try it even though Sheetz historically dishes out disgusting lattes. I mean, it had that distinct Sheetz aftertaste, but by george, it really did taste like apple butter! More than my softserve did!

The next part of my ceiling light project was to procure zebra print fabric so we went to Joann and THEY DID NOT HAVE ZEBRA PRINT FABRIC and not only that but one of their dumb old lady employees was in an aisle next to us humming loudly and it was really YUCKING MY TAEMIN YUM so I was like THIS STORE SUCKS WE NEED TO LEAVE because that’s when I do when a store doesn’t have what I want. I throw a passive aggressive tantrum to which Henry pantomimes an entire play titled I AM NOT WITH HER behind my back.

“Hobby Lobby has fabric,” Henry mumbled on the way back to the car and I was like ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME I HAVE BOYCOTTED THIS BASTARD STORE FOR THIS WHOLE TIME AND NOW I AM GOING THERE TWICE IN ONE DAY? But I agreed to go back and they did not have zebra print either (is this…extinct?) but I happened to see a checkered print and thought, “You know what? Taemin released a new album today. I am not going to be in a bad mood. I am going to be FLEXIBLE and go with this CHECKERED PRINT instead” and then Henry wanted to check the cardstock to see if their prices are better than Michaels and I was like, “If this place ends up being your new cardstock supplier, I’m shuttering our card business.”

AND THEN A DAY LATER, Hobby Lobby got blasted for having a pro-Trump store display and I was like I AM A FUCKING HORRIBLE PERSON FOR BREAKING MY BOYCOTT!!! and then Henry the Mansplainer was like, “Boycotts don’t work anyway” because he literally is not affected by anything, being a WHITE STRAIGHT MIDDLE-AGED MAN.

I really do feel sick about it though. I hate that I put aside my morals just for one stupid ass picture frame. Fuck Hobby Lobby and fuck Trump!!!

The only other notable thing about Monday is that we got dinner from Onion Maiden, bless their hearts for being open for take-out on Labor Day.  I got Coffins which is a Korean-ish pancake stuffed with wonderfully marinated shredded jackfruit, cucumbers. It was delicious and fully satisfying!

Jackfruit is so fucking weird though. I mean, it’s so delicious but who would have thought that it would such a wonderful vegan substitute for like, pulled pork or whatever?

Not me.

But then, I can barely make toast.

Anyway. I think that’s all. Labor Day was just a regular day except without work. No celebrating. No cookouts. No weekend roadtrips. LE FUCKING SIGH.

Sep 092020
 

*the accent in which I head-said this was offensive to all of France, straight down to the stale baguettes in alley trash cans, and definitely sounded more Swedish Chef than Ratatouille.

I’ve never even seen Ratatouille but imagine there’s some French-accent action up in that piece?

And also, who cares about offending France.

Also, why did I even title this in fake French?

Why can’t I ever just start a blog post in a normal fashion.

Anyway, nothin’ like a weekend recap a week later! I can’t even remember what happened!

But apparently at some point, Drew jumped on the fridge and I took this picture, because KIT-N-CABOODLE.

Honestly, I’m not even sure what we did on Saturday. I think “we” worked on the coffee table, and I have a vague recollection of spray-painting picture frames. The neighbors probably really wonder if this is a residence or an artist compound.

Sunday was cool though. I watched Halloween commercials from the 70s and 80s and the nostalgia pangs had me screaming.

Later, Henry and I went to some antique place (the same place I got my Mouse Attack sign and my oldest wheelchair, so it’s definitely a place where I’ve had great success) but you’d never know we were in the middle of a pandemic because all of the professional antiquers were out and about and it started to feel very crowded and I’m not trying to get corona for the sake of scoring a couple 1980s coffee cups, OK.

So I hissed at Henry through my mask, “WE GOTTA GET OUT OF HERE. NOW.” We hadn’t even made our way to the second floor yet but it’s OK – I’ll go back another time when it’s not as crowded.

Of course I was pouting about this when we left, but Henry saved the day by suggesting that we order lunch from Onion Maiden’s weekend pop-up, Chick Habit* which focuses on faux chicken sandwiches and  that’s pretty much my favorite when it comes to vegan/vegetarian fare. (Real life pause while Henry and I have a deep discussion on how the Toronto vegan scene is exponentially better than Pittsburgh’s. Damn, I miss Toronto.)

*You know, the place that Chooch made me unfollow on Instagram so that he could be the 666th follower.

We had some time to kill after Henry placed the order so we parked and walked to nearby Black Forge, which is hands down one of my favorite cafes in this damn city. If you* ever visit me, I’ll take you there. Their punch cards feature head shots of the Trump administration – ’nuff said.

*(Yeah, you!)

My inner Karen was gesticulating wildly inside of me because the mom-and-kid duo in front of us were so annoying. I think I was probably still experience residual anger from having to leave the antique place, and they probably weren’t that annoying. But still! I was mad because we would have been ahead of them if stupid ass dumb head worst child ever Chooch hadn’t texted me to change his fucking idiotic Chick Habit order, which resulted in Henry having to call them back before entering the cafe and sure, I could have just gone in ahead of him but I’m very clingy in this pandemic landscape. (I mean, just to him, not strangers! Trust me, having to socially distance myself from other people has been the best thing ever. Love that for us misanthropes.)

I love when establishments take mask-wearing seriously. I knew I could count on Black Forge!

Anyway, every one ahead of us had very relaxed and natural banter with the barista, and then when it was our turn, I had already completely shut down and fucking Henry looks like a serial killer when he wears his mask so she didn’t even bother striking one up with us.

My favorite parts:

  • when they were out of the cold brew that Henry wanted because I love when a place doesn’t have what he wants since I’m the one that usually happens to;
  • when she said she could make the specialty drink he wanted as a latte instead of cold brew and he said OK but asked for almond milk instead of whole milk, and then she came back halfway into making it and said, “Oh yeah, since this is a latte, it will have milk in it IS THAT OK” and he was like, “Um yeah I know but can I have almond milk” except that he was mumbling it and even I could barely hear him, so then it looked like they were having a staring contest until she broke first and said, “So is whole milk OK then” and he just completely gave up and shook his head yes.

I mean he pouted about this on the walk back to Onion Maiden but hello – he is not vegan nor is he lactose intolerant so shut up Henry.

“I just like the taste of almond milk in coffee!” he will cry when asked about this.

I stood outside while Henry went inside to grab the food. This was after I went into some goth apothecary store and tried to buy an old wooden clown head I saw in the window but IT WAS NOT FOR SALE.

“Why, do you love it?” the shop proprietor asked after I loudly groaned “UGHHH” behind my mask and stopped just short of stamping my feet. You never know what you’re gonna get with me: either a one-dimensional cardboard cutout with the personality of a robot or my full-blown manic, ebullient self. This guy got THAT.

(OMG NEXT TIME I HAVE TO INTRODUCE MYSELF WITH AN ADJECTIVE, I’LL USE THAT!!)

So then we chatted about that for a bit and I could see the relief in Henry’s eyes when I walked out without a large wooden clown head tucked under my arm.

Onion Maiden has some killer signage on their storefront.

Got our food and on the way home, we saw some bitch in a FLYERS SHIRT brazenly strutting down our street like she wasn’t doing a damn thing wrong and I wanted Henry to hit her with the car but he calmly said, “Let’s not go that far” WOW.

The Penguins are the only Pittsburgh sports team that I was defend until the day I die even though I don’t watch hockey anymore because we got rid of cable a few years ago and I had to forcibly divorce myself the obsession. :(

(Also, I got REALLY FUCKING ANGRY when Fleury was traded, so that helped with the divorce proceedings inside my heart.)

Get to the point, Erin! We came home and ate our amazing fake chicken sandwiches and they were delightful and the cashew cheese was better than some others I’ve had in the past, so that was a plus. Henry liked his too (“I JUST WISH IT WAS BIGGER,” he said which made Chooch scream THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID and Henry flipped out because he hates when Chooch TWSS’s him but I always laugh because Chooch has really good TWSS timing and gets a few good ones in a day (THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID) so now we’ve decided that Henry is either a closet feminist or just very uncomfortable when his teenage son turns nearly every conversation sexual. Sometimes he’s not even in the same room as us and he’ll yell it to us without missing a beat.

Chooch is my idol sometimes.

Sometimes.

Pretty sure I spent the rest of the day being sad that I had to “go back” to work after my week-long staycation that I painstakingly recapped for you blog readers so you better read that!!

Mar 202020
 

MONDAY

Made Chooch exercise first thing in the morning. This isn’t vacation! I picked a workout that was annoyingly strenuous though and I don’t like hard workouts in the AM, so I guess the joke’s actually on me.

Chooch started watching some stupid show on Netflix called On the Block. I hate it.

The school is handing out Grab-n-Go lunches for the students. Chooch was like, “Thank god” and went to get one but I was like WHAT ABOUT MEEEEE?! Much to his chagrin, they were also passing out assignment packets, so now he has legit work to do, which made my PROFESSOR MOMMY’S ASSIGNMENT LIST backfire. :( He still wrote about bibimbap though because he could see how sad I was that my Thinking Chores don’t matter now.

At one point, I realized I hadn’t seen him in a while so I started screaming his name. He called back from his bedroom so I was like, “OH NO, YOU ARE NOT GOING TO SPEND ALL AFTERNOON LAYING IN BED WATCHING TV” but when I went up there, I found him sitting in a chair with a book. “You told me to read a book so I’m reading a book. ‘Mandatory reading time,’ remember?”

Oh yeah, I did say that.

So far, isolation was *shrug* because I work from home at least one day a week anyway, but WE’LL SEE HOW LONG THE NOVELTY LASTS. Adding a smart-mouthed teenager to the package really adds a new layer, though. But at least he doesn’t expect me to do things for him. I mean, he’s known me for 13 years now and is quite aware of what I am and am not capable of.

TUESDAY

I forced Chooch  to start the day with 20 minutes of K-pop cardio! He actually kind of put forth a bit of effort.

Chooch wishes he knew how to hard-boil eggs. “Same,” I say. Later, Henry comes home from work and points out that we already had hardboiled eggs in the fridge. We did not know.

Henry came home from work and we mauled him. WE’RE HUNGRY! FEED US! we cried.

Jesus, it’s only day 2, he sighed.

On my break, we walked to the library so I could dump some books off into the return thing BUT IT WAS LOCKED – originally, they were still going to accept book returns during  the isolation period, but I guess they changed their mind and there was a sign that says to just hold on to your materials until they reopen, ughhh I was hoping that at least one tiny part of my beloved library process would still be intact.

Don’t worry, we maintained social distance on our walk to the library, touched nothing, talked to no one, entered no store. Came home and scrubbed our hand-flesh off.

  • That’s too loud.
  • What are you watching, that’s dumb.
  • Shut up, I’m on a call.
  • Turn that down.
  • Shut up, I’m in a meeting.
  • Go watch a documentary.
  • Shut up, I’m in a training.
  • Mandatory reading time!

— Chooch’s compendium of things I yelled today, apparently, recited back to me in A TONE THAT WAS NOT A FAIR REPRESENTATION OF HOW I TALK, THANKS.

Saw an Instagram ad over the weekend for fire blankets and panicked that we might need those so I made Henry buy two. Instagram ads is the QVC for the next generation. Today they arrived. I didn’t even open the box because the excitement had already worn off.

WEDNESDAY

Chooch is letting me use his fancy gaming headphones for when I have to call into meetings, except that I found out the hard way that the mic doesn’t work. I emailed the Help Desk and they responded with instructions that were more than 2 steps so I replied, “That is too complicated. I will just continue to call in using my cell phone.”

Some group emails are going around because people apparently miss each other. I mean, I guess I miss some people but I’m perfectly fine in my covid-less cocoon at home, thanks.

Chooch chose the Zac Efron Ted Bundy movie as his choice of documentary when I urged him to watch something educational. I mean, that probably counts, right?

Then the Census came in the mail!

So far the most exciting part of isolation was cracking up with Chooch while trying to find what best describes Henry’s relation to me. We are deep in the throes of cabin fever slap-happiness. Check back tomorrow when we’ve surely resorted to acute psychological torture for fun. We ended up selecting “opposite-sex unmarried partner” in the end because I was afraid of going to jail, also one time before I started working at The Law Firm, I tried to get a job with the census and I had to take a test in the basement of the library but I guess I failed because they never called me back. I mean, it DID have word problems on it.

Why, tho.

THURSDAY

Chooch, at 8;50am: Don’t you have to start working soon?

Me, from the couch: Yes.

Chooch: Are you already logged on?

Me: Yes.

Chooch, in a parental tone: Oh OK, I was just making sure you’re ready.

NO HE WASN’T. HE WAS JUST HOPING HE COULD USE THE COMPUTER.

Chooch and I had a play-fight with an empty water bottle, still made less noise than Blake’s crying kids next door.  Our cat Penelope has basically stopped coming downstairs now because we’re here all the time and she hates it.

Had to call in to a short meeting using my cell phone on speaker. “Holy shit that was boring,” Chooch said from the living room when I disconnected. YES, I KNOW. THIS IS MY LIFE.

Around 5:00, Henry left to go and pick up our dinner from Onion Maiden because we wanted to try and be supportive I guess, saints that we are. I was still working so I was sitting at the computer for a good 5 minutes talking to Chooch only to find out from his silence that he went with Henry.

While they were gone, a cop car went flying past the house with the sirens on and then a police helicopter circled overhead for approx. 10 minutes. That combined with the coronavirus really gave me that nice “end of the world” sensation.

 

War Pig with cashew cheese and jalapeños, and Crucifier Rising dumplings. Chooch got the Kimmy Gibbler (comes with kimchi yessss) and the Bunn O))).

I love Onion Maiden but I don’t eat there very often for some reason that probably involves the fact that I don’t eat out at all very often because I’m pretty sure I have some type of eating disorder.

Henry wasn’t allowed to sit on the floor with us because he had meat. He was like WHATEVER I CANT SIT ON THE FLOOR ANYWAY and then that made me think of my birthday lunch at a traditional Buddhist restaurant in Seoul where Henry almost couldn’t get up after sitting on the floor and now I am so fucking sad. I miss you, Korea. Hopefully this pandemic ends someday and I can go back.

Chooch and I also shared a piece of Terrormisu. What a nice little quarantine picnic!

7:46pm: Chooch just chased me around the house, throwing an old spare key at me and I ran to Henry for help but he’s half-asleep in bed and mumbled for us to separate. Then Chooch laughed too hard and almost threw up on Henry.

It’s a…real haven up in here.

FRIDAY

“Chooch, we’re going to make bread today.”

“……without HIM?” (HIM = Henry, clearly.)

“Yes! Someone posted recipes on Twitter. It looks easy.”

“Well, THAT’S something I can tell I’ll be quoting you on for the rest of my life.”

OK, scratch that idea. I just went back to the recipe I saw on Twitter and realized that there was way more to it than just this:

Apparently, the rest of the recipe was in the comments. It’s involved. Do we have baking powder? What is kosher salt? Something about sitting in a greased bowl for 30-60 minutes? I’ll pass.

In good, non-COVID news, Taemin has black hair again! Also, I really wish I was going through this pandemic hell in S. Korea, not the fucking dumb US. God, can we screw this up anymore? FORGET I ASKED THAT. DO NOT HOLD ANYONE’S BEER. GET BACK INTO ISOLATION.

UPDATE, 12:09:

Chooch is making the bread on his own. Where the fuck is the baking powder, he asked, gesturing to the open cupboard full of UNLABELED CONTAINERS OF WHITE POWDERS.

‘This could all be cocaine for all we know!” I cried. Now Henry is on speaker phone. He is very unhappy about how this Friday is progressing.

Apparently the baking powder is in a plastic container that says “baking powder.” I would have hung up on Henry’s ass by now.

OMG IF I HEAR “BAKING POWDER’ ONE MORE TIME. This call has dragged on for like 11 minutes. Henry just yelled, “I have to go! I don’t have time for this!”

Lol, I found the baking powder immediately  and now Chooch is mad. He dropped the butter on the ground so I told him  to just wash it off but then we both looked at it and I said, “Um, just throw it out.” Then we fucked up because I dumped all the water in at once, before Chooch had a chance to “mix the dry ingredients” and then apparently even the the water was supposed to be added gradually? Why? It’s all going to end up in the same place eventually anyway?

I feel like we made some progress because after stirring it for a but, it resembles real life dough! I got bored though so now Chooch is doing the rest alone.

12:44PM This might go down as the worst idea ever. The dough is like melted paste – is this right!?

The recipe never told us what to do with the butter. We used our collective noggins to assume that it was for greasing the bowl, so then Chooch made me wash out the Pam that I had originally (handsomely) spritzed it with. We are now letting the dough sit for 30-60 minutes. Is it going to expand into a carb-loaded Jabba the Hut and suffocate us? TIME WILL TELL.

1:50PM: Time to cook this gooey blob! I just noticed that the recipe on Twitter said to HEAT A GRIDDLE. THE FUCK? I was like “Can’t we just use the oven?” and Chooch was like I don’t know so I was scrolling through the Twitter comments and I said, “Oh look! This person asked, ‘Can I use an oven'” and Chooch goes, “Yeah that was me. That was LITERALLY ME.”

I have a headache.

Good thing we have those fire blankets.

YOU GUYS I’m positive we didn’t make these as intended but, against all odds, they taste fucking delicious. The first one came out the most normal looking. The rest are like, dough scraps but still delicious.

We made a penis-shaped one for Henry!

A half hour later, I glanced in the kitchen. “I guess we should just leave this for him to clean up?” And then Chooch and I scream-laughed our faces off. I think we’ve reached peak isolation. It has to be all downhill from here.

Oh wait, but then Henry told me that he ripped his pants today and didn’t realize it until he went back to the office and one of his coworkers said, “Nice underwear.” Yes, this is my favorite part of today’s isolation.

In case you were wondering if beverage deliverymen are essential during a pandemic, that would be a yes. Henry still has to work and his skin is basically burning off his hands from manic-application of hand sanitizer.

5:00PM: Henry just came home and is so mad. “I’m not cleaning that!” he yelled, but now he’s in there cleaning it. Chooch let the “dough” dry on the rolling pin and Henry is very upset about this. Also, he tried the bread and threw it back on the plate. Chooch and I were so insulted, but then I took a bite, and you know, now that they’ve been laying there for a few hours, I can tell that um, these actually aren’t fully cooked, lol. It’s pretty raw, is that why my stomach hurts do you think?

Chooch reminded me that there wasn’t egg in it at least.

I doubt anything exciting will happen for the rest of the evening. My plans are:

  • cereal for dinner
  • exercise
  • read
  • watch “Kingdom”

If anything noteworthy goes down, I will update this!

Mar 162020
 

Hi, it’s me. Erin. Since Pennsylvania schools are temporarily closed due to COVID-19, I gave Chooch some writing assignments because I’ll be damned if his mind is going to subsist on YouTube videos and Switch games during this time. But then the school provided assignment packets so I guess I’ll lighten up a bit. Today, he has written about his favorite Korean dish, bibimbap, and he actually didn’t complain!

Bibimbap (비빔밥). Where do I even start. The Korean dish filled with crispy rice, sauteed vegetables, meat, or meat substitute, gochujang, sesame oil, and the best part, in my opinion, the egg. Bibimbap, in Korean, means: bibim: mixed together; bap: rice.

Well, I guess we can start off with a little history lesson. It is estimated that bibimbap was created in the 10th century in the Koryo dynasty by the wives of farmers who were just too busy to serve a large traditional Korean meal. Now in present day Korea, many families eat this common dish by using leftovers and mixing it together to create this fantastic meal.

Now, I have had many bibimbaps, but the best one I ever had had to be the one we had on our tour to the DMZ, or demilitarized zone. I don’t know why I loved it so much. It could have been the crispy rice, or the just perfect egg, or maybe even the delectable seaweed. Whatever it was made it very easy for me to just devour the whole Dolsot bowl.

There are many kinds of bibimbap, but the two most common are bibimbap and Dolsot bibimbap. Bibimbap is served at room temperature, while Dolsot is served in a hot pot keeping it nice and crispy while you eat it. It also differs from the region you are in, for example in Busan, we got to crack our own egg into our bibimbap and it also wasn’t served with gochujang (spicy red pepper paste).

We also had another kind of bibimbap in Jeonju, or the hometown of bibimbap. The one I had was basically just the original bibimbap, but with cheese melting on the top. I thought it was very good, because prior to my consumption of it, I was totally hangry. There is a trick to eating the Dolsot bibimbap, though. If you stir the vegetables, but keep the rice at the bottom, the rice will be crispy by the time you eat all the vegetables and it will taste 200% better, or if you add gochujang it starts to taste otherworldly.

Here I am eating bibimbap on my last day in Korea, so sad. ;-;

I did like every bibimbap I had in Korea, don’t get me wrong, but nothing compares to the DMZ one. So, if I were to make a bibimbap, I would choose Maanchi’s recipe,

But, without the meat!

Jan 232020
 

It’s tradition for Janna, Chooch and me to go out for lunch on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, if only doing this once prior counts as “tradition.” We’ve already started this tradition with a strangely volatile track record, because last year I chose a restaurant that was extremely crowded with awkward seating, so we left after being seated at a crowded counter, and then ended up having another awkward seating experience at the ramen place we chose as our fall-back.

But then we had a great time at a post-lunch cafe (Black Forge, holla!) so that made it seem, in our memories, that we should do it again this year. I guess kind of like how some women forget the horrors of pregnancy/child birth and do it again.

This time, it was Janna’s turn to choose an uncomfortable eating establishment!

First though, the day started on a high when Janna got yelled at in the parking lot across from my house for allegedly thieving Hot Naybor Chris’s wife’s parking spot. Janna had to swear that she’s not a weirdo after HNC’s wife ranted about all the weirdos in the neighborhood and swore she didn’t realize it was someone else’s spot (newsflash: none of us have our own assigned parking spots, so…).

“Wow, she’s very shrill,” Janna laughed when she walked into my house and Chooch and I were dying. We wanted her to get beaten, but verbal abuse is just as good!

We immediately set off for Ineffable Cà Phê which I’ve wanted to try for awhile, but anytime we’ve been in the area, it’s always looks very crowded. Well, today was no different and it didn’t help that we arrived right smack in the middle of noon.

Maybe I’m just FUCKING OLD, but I really dislike places that force you to order at a counter. I get that this is also a cafe, but perhaps separate the two areas, I dunno, because the menus were all split up in different spots and by the time it was our turn to order, I was teetering on the tip of a tantrum and blurted out, “I’LL HAVE THE SAME AS HIM” and nudged Chooch, even though I didn’t know what he ordered because every time I asked him, he ignored me.

Then the real fun began—looking for a place to sit. Again, this is a cafe that also serves food (and some of  the food is pho, so…not exactly something you can casually eat while standing. I was having ANXIETY by this point because we were just standing there, lost, in everyone’s way, looking for a place that could seat three people, but because THIS IS ALSO A CAFE, 90% of the seats were occupied by people who were not eating, but staring at their laptops with dead eyes.

Booths? People working.

Shared tables? Full of lazy hipsters and surrounded by a moat of coiled laptop cords on the floor, which I almost tripped over numerous times.

It was absolutely trash as far as comfort levels went.

We finally settled on an armchair (which White Knight Jr, a/k/a Chooch, argued was “very comfortable” and he was “just fine”) and a couch in the corner, with some extremely enlarged spool-thing to use as a table. It was SO FUCKING UNCOMFORTABLE. The couch was so low to the ground and I had to bend in half every time I took a bite of my tofu banh mi (good choice, Chooch), so I guess at least I was getting an ab workout, I dunno.

It was so bad that while we were waiting for our food, Janna could see Mt.Erinsuvius getting ready to erupt and suggested that we just get our food to go, save it for dinner, and then go somewhere for lunch.

NOT AFTER I JUST THREW DOWN $20 ON TWO SANDWICHES (AND NO DRINKS!!).

Luckily for this damn place, the banh mi was really good. It’s so hard to find GOOD TOFU on sandwiches, and theirs had a really great marinade to it. I approved. So did Chooch, who was blessedly silent while inhaling his lunch.

The worst part about this though was that I had to go to the counter and retrieve both sandwiches after my name was called, and it was a veritable slalom course of laptop cords and backpacks but I persevered all while muttering, “Don’t look at me. Don’t look at me.”

When Janna’s food was ready, the guy was like, “I will bring it to you” because she got pho, but she still walked over and kept trying to take it from him and he was like, “I WILL BRING IT TO YOU” – Chooch and I were dying. Finally, something good was happening! Then the guy gave Janna a sauce recommendation but she of course didn’t pay attention, so when he left our table she was like, “What did he tell me to do?” and I was like, “Mix the sriracha and hoisin.” As she embarked on the  treacherous journey to the counter to fetch said sauces, Chooch was like, “Oh, I thought you said sriracha and POISON and I was like ‘Yes, we’re killing Janna!'” Hahaha.

Actually, once we got our food and established ourselves in the corner which was DEFINITELY meant for relaxing with a book and coffee, not hunched over a lunch you’re trying not to spill, it was OK. Would I go back? I AM NOT SURE. Maybe I’d get it to go, but I can’t foresee myself ever attempting to dine in there again unless I get there immediately when it opens or like, right after a kitchen fire,  idk.

However, there was one super positive aspect about this place, and that was when we stumbled on  the adjacent boutique on the way out. It’s just a tiny little nook in the corner of the cafe but just secluded enough so you feel like you’re in another space altogether, and it’s run by a super lovely lady who chatted us up but not in the sense where I was trying to peel my skin off and lift it up over my head to form a nice bloody flesh tent under which to camp out with my social inadequacies.

She was SO LOVELY that Chooch was like, “I WANT ONE OF HER CANDLES.” They were all very earthly, masculine smells, er, scents, which I appreciate in a candle from time to time; one can only have so many pumpkin spices and clean cotton fragrances in the house, you know?

The special thing about her candles is that you can DIP YOUR FINGERS INTO THE HOT WAX, which is like every kids’ and my dream, and then RUB IT INTO YOUR SKIN BECAUSE IT DOUBLES AS ESSENTIAL OIL.

Brilliant. Yes, let me buy one of those.

It took Chooch forever to choose a scent (black currant is what he ultimately went for?!) and then Janna had to copy us and buy one too but when the lady asked her for her email address, Janna rattled off something I’ve never heard before, so I yelled, “HEY I DON’T KNOW ABOUT THAT EMAIL ADDRESS!” and it was quiet for a second while the lady’s eyeballs looked like they were watching a scary tennis match, but then Janna just nervously laughed it off so then the lady laughed too but I WASNT LAUGHING.

Meanwhile, there was a dog behind the counter but Chooch wasn’t able to reach it so he was terribly upset about that.

THEN WE WENT DOWNTOWN. I started laughing when I realized that it was exactly 2::00pm, which is what time I would normally be ambling about down there on a regular workday. First, we stopped at this art installation thing because Pittsburgh sometimes tries to hang with the Big City Kids by doing artsy things for people to either enjoy, scrutinize, or vandalize. I walk past this every day but have never bothered to stop and explore, so I was happy that we parked literally on the same block as it.

It was pretty cold that day but not as cold as it was last year when we did out MLK outing, because I think it was like 10 degrees that day. If you ask Mr. I Never Get Cold, he’ll tell you that both days weren’t cold at all. I hate him sometimes.

IF YOU LOOK, YOU CAN SEE ALL THREE OF US OMG.

I’m like way good at posing.

AnywaySSSS, the reason we were downtown is because Bae Bae’s Kitchen opened a brand new cafe down the street called, well, Bae Bae’s Cafe. I’ve been stalking it for months on my daily lunch break walks and was excited to get there on their second day! (I feel like the first opening day would have been stuffed to the gills with influencers and the like, so…no thanks.)

Chooch and I are both avid boba fans, so I got a taro and he chose earl gray which I thought was an odd choice for him and turns out he ended up thinking the same once he sipped it. He added some cane sugar to it after awhile and then deemed it drinkable.

This is DEFINITELY an Instagram-cafe. That’s not to take away from their drinks which are wonderful; they also serve lunch items but we had already done that so I ordered chocolate chip cookies for us to share and they were REALLY DELICIOUS. Like 진짜 맛있어요!

(Bae Bae’s is Korean, yo.)

So, the seating is pretty non-existent here, which was hilarious to us because all we wanted to do was be able to sit together today while eating and drinking?! Like, I can’t think of many more basic wants, you know? But this space is pretty small so probably prepare to pop in and pop out if you go on a busy day. As it turned out, Janna had to sit by herself and then when she left her seat to go to the counter to get her drink, some asshole stole her seat! AND THE GUY HE WAS WITH WHO WAS ALREADY SITTING ACROSS FROM WHERE JANNA HAD BEEN SAID NOTHING!

To be fair, either did Chooch or I. Chooch was just like, “LOL, Janna lost her seat” and then continued slurping up boba.

My bedroom is almost this same color and now I know that UMERELLA-ELLA-ELLAS ON THE CEILING is what it’s been missing. Get on that, Henry.

The guy on the couch is the d-bag who stole Janna’s seat, but then he moved to the couch once it became available, so Janna got her seat back. Damn. Anyway, these guys were v.annoying.

It’s a very elegant and, to use a word people hate, no not moist: WHIMSICAL. I personally liked it because it gave off Wonderland vibes and that’s my jam. My favorite Alice In Wonderland is  the version that as Carol Channing and Ann Jillian in it, in case you were wondering. I think it’s from the early 80s.

Seriously,  the best. Followed by that weirdo Jan Svankmajer stop-motion film “Alice.” Horrifying.

Janna Sits Alone.

Anyway, the best part of the day was that the proprietor of the Bae Bae’s empire, Ashley, was there and she came over to talk to Chooch and me and she took our picture for the cafe’s Instagram story! She also said I looked very familiar to her and I was like, “Oh god, am I on some Koreaboo list?!” Like Megan’s List but for Koreans to watch out for people obsessed with their culture. But it turns out she just recognized me from all the times I’ve cupped my hands next to my face and peeked in the cafe’s windows JUST KIDDING she said she thinks I looked familiar because I follow Bae Bae’s on Instagram. To be honest, I rarely go to Bae Bae’s Kitchen even though it’s right near my office because:

  • it’s kind of expensive
  • it sits super heavily in my stomach (BUT IT’S SO GOOD)
  • I don’t want to be a creep

We tried to stay as long as we could because there were three “super hip” Modcloth chicks hogging the best seat in the house and I wanted to get pictures there too but they came with A CAMERA, like a real DSLR, and just when I thought they were getting ready to leave, one of them went back up  to the counter to order dessert for them to share, see also: NEW PROP FOR MORE PICTURES.

I saw later that night that Bae Bae’s reposted some of their pictures and THEY SAT ON OUR SEATS AFTER WE LEFT, which was like 15 minutes before closing, so maybe the whole time THEY were trying to wait US out?? Like, if I had just gone over there and politely said, “EXCUSE ME, CUNTS WE WANT TO SIT HERE FOR A SEC, BEAT IT” everyone could have gotten their way!?

Anyway, it was a tumultuous day. A real roller coaster of emotions. Maybe next year, we’ll just go to the movies and Taco Bell.

Dec 292019
 

Our Thanksgiving dinner to go set notwithstanding, it had been a minute since we last dined at Zenith, which is a damn crime because it’s not only my favorite vegetarian restaurant in Pittsburgh, but also one of my favorite restaurants in general all around. I mean, how many places do you know where you can eat a vegan fish sandwich, drink of pot of whichever tea you choose from the broad collection in a cabinet, and buy an antique mental institution wheelchair?

We don’t eat out very often, but even for as infrequently as we visit, the family who runs the place still remembers us and they really make it feel like you’re dining in their home—it’s so cozy and intimate and there is not even a HINT of pretension swirling around the rafters.

I’m not sure I have ever been here during Christmas, now that I think about it…HAVE I BEEN?! My memory is getting foggier and muddier, and I’m not handling it very well. Did I tell you that a few weeks ago, Margie at work asked me when CHOOCH’S birthday is, and with the UTMOST CONFIDENCE, I answered, “June 6th.”

THIS IS NOT CORRECT! That is Henry’s birthday! So I laughed and said, “OMG no that’s not right! It’s April 6th.”

Margie laughed it off and started to change the subject but then the blood began bubbling behind my cheeks as I realized that I WAS WRONG AGAIN. I could have just let it go but what if Margie has some ironclad memory and would always remember that it’s April 6th and then there would be this whole thing where she sees his birth certificate and notices a different date and then puts two and two together that Chooch was kidnapped and NO WONDER ERIN HAS NO MATERNAL INSTINCTS SHE IS NOT A MOTHER.

Sorry. That took a turn. I’m waiting for Henry and Chooch (?!?!) to finish making dinner and I think I’m light headed.

Foodwise, Henry actually enjoys Zenith. I know, it’s hard to imagine him not double fisting some bratwurst but he doesn’t mind going meatless every now and then. (He does not like tofu, though.)

However, Henry usually clenches up the whole time we’re there because I usually find some obscure thing that I need to have, like this hanging lamp from a church that I bought straight from the ceiling of the dining room as Henry and I ate dinner. Or the time Kara and I were having lunch there and whoa, who invited this clown to join us? Oh, right – me.

(Also, apparently I HAVE been there while the Christmas decor was up. My blog serves as my memory now so it’s a good thing I’m all about the HONESTY on here, lol.)

I’m not a big tea drinker but it’s part of the process to pick a fancy tea at Zenith. On this visit, I chose maple vanilla and it was AMAZE. I think sarsaparilla (REALLY THIS IS HOW THAT’S SPELLED?!) is still my favorite that I’ve ever had there.

Oh, and for those playing along at home, Chooch burnt dinner, which was a french fry recipe called “Hume Fries” from his new “The Good Place” cook book. We blamed Henry though because Chooch was supposedly only in charge of cutting the various carbs and Henry was responsible for the oven part.

Henry’s salad. I always appreciated how colorful the Zenith side salads are. None of that soggy, wilted iceburg lettuce and cherry tomato bullshit.

Henry opted for the seitan teriyaki entree – he’s a big fan of seitan, and I am too, honestly. That shit is the meat substitute that God wanted us to have. If more people would open their hearts to seitan, the world would be such a better place! HAVE YOU EVEN TRIED SEITAN WINGS?!

BBQ tofu sandwich – I don’t eat very much bread on my daily diet, so sometimes I crave sandwich buns. This was one so soft and honestly it was almost as good as the BBQ tofu spilling out of it, which btw was the perfect texture: firm but with a nice, springy bounce, like what Henry’s imaginary mistress Cheetah Girl’s boobs were probably like in the 70s.

Chooch got the black bean burrito but I didn’t take a picture of it because you know what a burrito looks like but also because he fucking gutted it immediately so it was basically inside out and looked like a Mexican crime scene.

Oh, and he also ordered an appetizer of buffalo hummus and pita “for the table” and holy shit you guys, is that what buffalo chicken dip tastes like?! I never had it before because I don’t think it was a popular party food yet back when I still ate meat, but I guess the hummus was supposed to be flavored the same and it was honestly the best hummus I’ve ever had and look, I live down the street from Pitaland and also, I’ve been to Greece, so.

If you go to Zenith, save room for whatever vegan Bundt cake option they have going on that day because it will blow your meat-mind, yo. Personally, my favorite will forever be the lemon poppyseed but the chocolate hazelnut hunk up there was *FRENCH FINGER-KISSES*

Chooch and I ditched Henry once the cake plate was licked clean and we walked around to explore. I’m always on the prowl for new things to add to my mishmashed collection at home. There is this old-fashioned pram hanging from the ceiling and I have had my eyes on that for years but I didn’t hound Henry for anything on this visit because we are planning an Easter trip and I am trying to be responsible with my monies but shit, it’s tough when you want everything.

One of the Zenith people came over while Chooch was tapping on an old typewriter, and I thought he was going to be like DO NOT TOUCH but instead he told us that he just recorded a song using the sounds of a typewriter as the background and I thought that was really cool and wanted to ask him if he has it online anywhere but then he distracted me by asking me how long it’s been now so I’ve been coming there and I had to think for a second but wow, it’s been over 10 years now. My first visit was with Kara in 2008!

If you ever go to Zenith, after you polish off the slice of cake that I told you to order, make sure you don’t leave without checking out the bathrooms. There are two, but the door on the left is my favorite. It’s owl-themed! I’m still a little sad because this room was originally painted blue, but it’s been green for so long now that it’s grown on me. I mean, it’s a room full of owls! The only thing better would be a room full of…G-Dragons.

Obligatory selfie.

Obligatory selfie part 2.

Such a selfie station. It’s hard to believe that I’ve been peeing in this bathroom long before Instagram was even a thing yet.

I keep saying that I want to start collecting these old light up Santas (and Easter bunnies!) but then I never do anything about it. Obviously I would keep them year-round in my house.

Ugh, the most nostalgic Christmas trees! My OCD would always flare up anytime the ones we had growing up would be missing lights. I wish I had kept one.

And that was our lovely Saturday afternoon at Zenith, a place that I do not visit nearly enough. One of these years, I will have my birthday dinner there like I have been saying I want to do for the last 10 years. (OR SOMEONE COULD PLAN THAT FOR ME, I DUNNO, JUST A THOUGHT. MY BIRTHDAY IS JULY 30, EVERY YEAR.)

Nov 242019
 

Hello, here I am to tell you all about the vegetarian lunch we had in Fairfax, Virginia last weekend because sometimes I like to pretend that I’m a really shitty food blogger, except that I don’t have to pretend the “really shitty” part.

After scoping out the venue for the SuperM concert last Sunday, we decided to get lunch over with and by that I mean, Henry and Chooch were ready for lunch and I was silently hyperventilating because my stomach did seem very open to the idea of jamming food into it. I wanted to find a vegetarian/vegan place and Henry did not attempt to veto this because deep down, he’s into vegan cuisine and driving long distances for kpop concerts.

That’s our Papa H.

I used my nemesis Yelp to find this place called Sunflower. Most places in that area seemed to be chains or just salad joints. Sunflower also seemed to be an Asian establishment, which was good because those types of restaurants generally tend to do meatless dishes mush better and with less pretension than your typical hipster ding-ding-basket-on-my-bicycle-ding-ding places.

Chooch and I were off to heated start right away because there was a help wanted sign but he spotted it first and I was so pissed! I still tried to get it with my JobSpotter app on the way out, thinking enough time had passed, but it was REJECTED because it was a DUPLICATE.

We got there right around noon, which was GREAT PLANNING, and that joint was packed! But it was all normal people and no one who was going to squint at us to see if we had enough tattoos or were wearing vegan TOMS.

Honestly you guys, I have been a vegetarian since 1996 and certain vegan types make it so hard. Like, just be cool about it and dial back the anger! I swear it’s gotten to the point where the size of one’s record collection is now a factor into how good of a vegan they are, and us lowly vegetarians just don’t even count anymore more.

So I was happy when we walked in and the whole place was filled with mostly Indians and some random other families. No one stopped to stare at us to determine just exactly how meatless our lives are!

There was this one mother/son combo seated near us that were SO ANNOYING though. I tried not to fixate on them but the son waved the waiter over constantly with requests: more ice in his water, chopsticks–BLACK ONES, specifically–take this plate away! It was crazy how demanding he was. So much so that I made a conscious effort to be even nicer to the waiter.

Besides, the service there was wonderful and efficient!

There was a small two-seater table next to ours and Henry grimaced when a young couple and their baby were seated there.

“Let’s move our table over to give them room,” I whispered while they were still standing and getting their baby shit situated. There was enough empty space next to me that we could easily afford to shift our Sunflower spot.

“No,” Henry said curtly.

“Yes!” I shot back, moving my side of the table over so now I was sitting alone, basically, because all the tables were two-seaters that were pushed together to accommodate larger parties.

“No, I don’t want to,” Henry muttered.

“Oh for God’s sake!” I cried, and started pulling his and Chooch’s table over to rejoin mine until he reluctantly helped me.

And the couple thanked us profusely, because now the husband didn’t have to swan dive over the tables to get to his seat, so there Henry.

I TOOK ALL THE CREDIT FOR THAT ONE.

And even better, their baby wasn’t too annoying. But Henry hated the wife because she was, god forbid, wearing tight jeans with ripped edges and HEELED BOOTS. That’s his current least-favorite women’s fashion trend, apparently. He ranted about this a few weeks ago and I was speechless for once.

Henry got the SUNFLOWER SATISFACTION. I don’t know what it was but it had some cool mushrooms and peppers in it, and some type of soy product.

The special of the day coincidentally was a Korean tofu casserole and I was SO CLOSE to ordering it and if we didn’t have that concert looming overhead, I definitely would have, but my nerves. They were vocal. So I played it safe and ordered a tempeh sandwich, you’re welcome, Stomach.

It was delicious and came on the nicest ciabatta roll. I love ciabatta.

Chooch also opted for a sandwich but his was orange chicken and I had food-envy.

We also got an order of daikon radish cakes which were to DIEKON FOR if you know what I’m saying. Now I’m desperate for Henry to make them for Christmas, or, I don’t know, some fake book club meeting.

Here’s a better view of Henry’s lunch, photo taken by Chooch, because we use this vegetarian food rating app called ABillionVeg and for every 10 reviews of veg/vegan food you submit, they make a donation to various animal rights organizations. Chooch cracked up afterward because the tomato on Henry’s plate is actually Chooch’s refuse.

Then we finished it with a piece of lemon tofu cheese pie to share. It was SO GOOD. I always pretend that vegan desserts are like zero calories but just because they might be made with “healthier” ingredients does NOT make this diet food. Henry and I once had a raw cheesecake at some vegan joint in Cleveland and I think it was like 2500 calories, seriously, lol. Cashews, man!

My only regret is that we don’t live close enough to eat our way through their menu. It was extensive! I made sure to tell the waiters that everything was great when we were on our way out, which I think always embarrasses Chooch but at least I’m never KAREN ASKING FOR THE MANAGER.

Apr 232019
 

We’re not a religious family, not even the faux-religiosos who go to church just on holidays in order to look good or meet some kind of biblical quota, I have no idea what I’m talking about here. And Chooch is past the age where he requires an Easter basket, so even the materialistic part of the holiday is kind of just over for us.

(Actually, we got him an international snacks subscription box so someone else can prepare a monthly Easter basket for him, basically.)

However, as I mentioned before, I do really like the idea of Easter because how can you not associate it with spring and that heart fluttery-hope that comes on the heels of the end of another depressing winter?

So while we lack the bonnets and the Easter egg hunts (although Chooch did go next door to Blake and Haley’s and hid some plastic eggs while Calvin was sleeping — Chooch loves his little nephew so much and it’s pretty heart-warming, not gonna lie), I still always request that we do SOMETHING to celebrate. Usually it’s just dinner out at a Chinese restaurant, and then there was that one time we hosted a Pizza Party for Jesus Christ for some of our friends who didn’t have any family in the area. God, that was a good time.

Last year, we were in KOREA for Easter. *sobs*

For this year, I figured we’d just do the Chinese restaurant thing again but then one night, right when I was on the verge of slumber, I had the best idea: Henry could recreate the famous Inkigayo sandwiches that the kpop idols love to eat, but we’d call it the EASTERgayo sandwiches!

A brief background on the Inkigayo sandwiches: In South Korea, all of the main broadcasting stations have their own weekly music show, kind of like TRL was for MTV I guess, where all of the groups and artists perform their current hit song. One of those music shows is called Inkigayo (it means “popular”) and it’s become public knowledge that their cafeteria makes this sandwich that’s only available to staff and kpop idols, called the Inkigayo sandwich (natch). The idols supposedly go nuts for this layered handheld meal, but also there is legend that they use the sandwich as a vessel in which to secretly exchange numbers with each other, since dating is verboten for many of them (literally, some kpop groups have a no-dating clause in their contracts).

Of course, the legend focuses on G-Dragon, because he is a legend.

Goddamit I miss him.

I even made Inkigayo greeting cards for my Hello Hanguk shop! I called them InkiHELLOs, lololol I love myself.

Anyway! I thought it would be cute to make these sandwiches and have a picnic or something, but when I told Chooch the idea he was like WHY U SO CRINGE.

But Henry was like, “Whatever. Just send me the ingredients.”

Um..

I was just excited because I was able to read this without the translation. Me and my toddler-level Korean vocab!

There are all kinds of variations floating around out there, and now three convenience store chains in South Korea have started making their own and they’re all apparently completely different from each other. But the one above seems like it is the most true to the original? Hard to tell unless we ship Chooch off to JYP so he can start his idol training.

We decided to go with a nice, sturdy potato bread that wouldn’t collapse under the weight of the layers. And we even eschewed Hellman’s for the more Asian-centric Kewpie mayo (it’s Japanese, not Korean, but still felt more legit than using something American):

Image result for korean mayo

Plus, that mayo is a billion times better than our shit here at home.

Watching Henry slather on each layer, I had my reservations. I mean, we used up nearly an entire loaf of bread on this, so I hoped it wasn’t going to be all for naught.

Just in case, I threw some fruit in the basket and proposed that we swing by Pink Box for some baked goods and boba tea.

God, I love Pink Box. Asian breads are so underrated.

We found a picnic shelter in nearby Schenley Park but of course I had to take a lame picture first, not that anyone seemed in much of a hurry to dig in to some ‘gayos.

Chooch’s first bite produced some not-great reactions…

…but then by the second bite, his face transformed into this mischievous smirk and I could tell he didn’t want to admit it, but after he finished chewing, he said, “OK, holy shit. That’s actually REALLY GOOD.”

This morning he said he wished he had one to take to school today for lunch. Even with all that bread, it’s still probably a healthier option than anything in that gross cafeteria!

His official review was, “Great sandwich, cringey name.”

I can’t explain it, and it looks like crazy talk on paper, but it was one DAMN FINE sandwich. We all scarfed ours without ever putting them down on the plate. I mean, how we didn’t have at least one choking victim is beyond me.

(I even brought out the nice tea sandwich plates that I got for 99 cents at Goodwill, lol.)

Henry went light on the mayo and I think that was the trick:

  • the cabbage salad was so crisp and bright, and the apple really added a nice touch (HE ALMOST FORGOT THE ADDITION OF THE APPLE, IT’S A GOOD THING I WALKED INTO THE KITCHEN THAT MORNING TO SUPERVISE/MICROMANAGE).
  • the egg & potato combo was moist (not sorry) without being wet and drippy. Henry left the crab meat out of Chooch’s and my sandwiches, but he added it to his and said it was fine. I liked that the potatoes made it chewier.

I know that you’re wondering about the strawberry jam and I actually wish there was MORE. It really added the perfect, final touch! It was a light, sweet bridge between two picnic-y salads and it didn’t aggravate my gag reflex as expected!

It makes sense to me  though, as someone who welcomes the addition of jam on her grilled cheeses. I’m fine with any flavor on a standard grilled cheese, one with cheddar or some American slices, but my all-time favorite grilled cheese is dill Havarti on pumpernickel with FIG JAM.

Oh sweetly-spanked Mussolini, I would drop my tears onto one of those right now if I could.

(Sometimes Henry will make that one for me with raspberry preserves in lieu of fig jam and it is a comparable substitution.)

Look, I get the appeal of places like Melt but sometimes I just want a simple-sized grilled cheese (i.e. something I don’t have to eat with a fork) with super classy ingredients, OK?

My mouth is crying.

We were going to do an Easter photoshoot so the bunny ears came along but who even cares anymore. We were punch-drunk off our EASTERgayo sandwiches by this point.

After our lunch, we promised that kid that he could look for geocaches but instead of just staying in Schenley, we left and went to neighboring Frick Park, where Chooch took us down a fucking deer trail into peoples’ backyards and we were like, “YOU’RE GOING TO GET THE COPS CALLED ON US, DUMBASS” and have I mentioned lately how much I hate geocaching?

He only ended up finding two because he sucks at directions and my shoes got ruined because I thought we were going to woods that had cement paths and Henry was like, “THAT’S CALLED A SIDEWALK” but whatever. I was woefully unprepared and I hate walking in mud. Like, a lot.

Some rando fairy town in the woods. This made me laugh because earlier that morning, I accidentally stumbled across this holistic girl’s YouTube channel and before I knew was happening, I had watched six videos, added a bunch of reiki mushroom powders to Henry’s Amazon cart, and a had an intense craving for a kombucha float (made with like, vanilla oat milk ice cream, probably). Henry was like, “This bitch be annoying” but I liked her simply because her voice was soothing and she sounded like she lived inside a mushroom in a forest full of fairies. So when we found this dumbass display in Frick Park, I started cracking up because she probably has a similar set up next to her squirrel wigwam.

Meanwhile, Chooch was looking up geocaches in Seoul. “Look how many are in Hongdae!” he cried, and I was like, why? Are you pre-planning all the ways you’re going to ruin my birthday trip?

HE PRACTICALLY RUINED EASTER WITH HIS GEOCACHING SHENANIGANS.

Hoooooo lawd, I hate rooting around nature for Tupperware.

Anyway! That was our Easter. Only one tiny complaint was that it was cloudy and on the chilly side, but at least we didn’t fight at all! It was an Easter miracle.

(Those EASTERgayos, tho…)