Apr 152022
 

Hello from Savannah, Georgia, where we are crashing for the night. We left Orlando early this morning and spent the day in St. Augustine. Much fun was had, at the expense of our feet as usual, and I will relay all of the details at a later date. But for the purpose of this post, I want to talk about the place we ate lunch.

Sarbez.

I may have planned the entire day around this place because hello: a grilled cheese arcade with tons of dive bar aesthetic? Oh yeah, I will make my travel companions go out of their way for this experience.

“Is this it?” Henry the Stoop asked. No, it’s the grilled cheese arcade across the street, Henry.

God.

First of all, THE CHOICES. I almost made a custom g.cheese but then I saw the VEGAN GRILLER which has TEMPEH and I am an avid tempeh eater. Sometimes I like to cut some up and mix it into my morning scrambled eggs. I’m getting very fancy in the kitchen these days.

Chooch got the Hashton Kutcher, sans sausage, and I don’t know what Henry the Meathead got. Who cares.

Wishing I had purchased a chocolate tape for five dollaz.

Alas.

We were assisted at the bar by a really awesome guy named DALE who held our hands through the ordering process. Then he noticed Henry’s VelociCoaster hat and asked, “Were you guys at Universal?” and then we started gushing together over the perfection that is VELOCICOASTER and how it is quite possibly the best in the world and I was like, “FRONT ROW AT NIGHT” and he was like “OH MAN I DIDN’T GET TO RIDE IT AT NIGHT” but at least he lives in the same state as Universal and can hopefully return soon for a night ride.

I legit cannot stop thinking about it.

We also got a pickle dog to share and it was SO GOOD. A pickle deepfried in cheese, on a bun, with some type of amazing sauce. Yeah BOY-O.

Hallelujah! Cheesus has risen.

(Vegan Cheesus, that is.)

Not sure what type of vegan cheese they use there but it was delicious and had a decent melt to it.

The bathroom was playing Elvis which normally would have been MEH but in this case, it really added to the ambiance.

(Hold on. I’m remembering my sandwich and missing it.)

SING IT SISTER.

Part of the arcade was decorated with a VHS tape wall and it made me laugh because I have tons of these, similarly-labeled, in our dumpster of an attic. I was SUPER into renting movies when I was in high school and then copying them using my fancy-pants dual tape VCR. I miss renting movies from Blockbuster, Hollywood, and our local supermarket’s Iggle Video section, but I *really* miss all of the independent places that were super small with porn in the back. :(

Henry knows all about those types of places. The one I remember the most (aside from Incredibly Strange Video which was my SPOT) was this place in Baldwin called Firehouse Videos. I used to rent horror movies there to watch in my basement with dumb Psycho Mike after eating next door at HOME COOKIN’ where my fave waitress used to make me incredible grilled blueberry muffins, which I would also eat with a side of cole slaw and everyone there was convinced I was pregnant.

Holy shit, thank god that psychopath never actually got me pregnant!!

Back to Sarbez and all of its glorious mirror selfie opportunities.

Henry Wah Wah I Lost My Ball had to call DALE over to help him and Dale was like, “Your ball’s right there, dude” and I wanted to die because Henry is so embarrassing everywhere we go.

Chooch made me play Pong with him and I proceeded to win 7-0 BUT!! I think that I actually wasn’t playing and that it was the computer, because at first I thought I was controlling it but then there were several times when it felt weird so…

Don’t tell Chooch.

He mumbled, “I hate you. I hate this game,” and stalked off to play something else lol.

What a great effing experience. I mean, it made my stomach hurt bigly because I just can’t eat heavy stuff anymore, but it was worth it even though we proceeded to spend the next 2 hours in the car driving to Savannah and bickering, ugh.

Oh well. More travel lies ahead so I guess I should say goodbye and goodnight.

Feb 282022
 

In today’s non-episode, we will be discussing our choice to drive three hours for a vegan lunch. Was it worth it? Do we regret it? Is the hype real? Will I continue to follow this establishment on Instagram? Am I considering moving to Columbus?

YES NO YES YES IF I  MOVE ANYWHERE IT WILL BE KOREA, SO.

That’s it! That’s the whole post! Questions answered!

Sikeeeee. I do have some words. First of all, the aesthetic was just my style: horror movie posters on the wall and 1980s goth lethargically wafting from the ceiling. I mean, bitch please. The only way this could have any more ERIN would have been if they had a Kpop section in the back or something with vegan Kpopcorn chicken as the premier menu item.

Oh! Here comes Henry, in all of his ACHING BONES glory. He just groaned because I’m writing in my blog (and also, bad joints). Apparently, I am intolerable to be around when I’m writing in my blog. I just suggested that we co-write this together since he also ate at Seitan’s Realm and surely can eke out a few coherent words?

He just said no.

The seating area of Seitan’s Realm is very small – three booths on either side of the wall, and stools at the front windows. Luckily, a booth had just opened up while we were ordering so we didn’t have to go and sit in the car and pathetically wait to be called back in like when we tried to eat at that punk ass bitch G&G’s joint last weekend.

As I was sitting down, I happened to look over to the right and screamed because THERE WAS A PICTURE OF ROBERT SMITH AND HIS WIFE MARY above our booth! It’s almost like we reserved that specific booth! Could this place BE any more Erin Rachelle Kelly-approved??

Oh wait, yes it can, and yes it was. Because THE FOOD. I know, literally the whole reason we were there. It was 100% worth the nearly 3 hour drive from Pittsburgh. I got the Dude Ranch because if there is fake chicken on a vegan menu, I’mma opt for that mothercluckin’ piece, OK. I guess first I should tell you that none of the meat alternatives in this establishment were any of the big “brands” (think Beyond, Impossible, etc). True to their name, everything was housemade with seitan. Which I still don’t quite understand, never question, but I can tell you that I really love it.

My chicken was JOOOOOOOSEY, son. And it had some bangin’ faux bacon up in it, cheeseless chedduh, and the creamiest sauce. Oh AND IT WAS ON A GOOD GODDAMN PRETZEL BUN.

This sandwich was massive and sloppy; it totally required the hep of utensils – I mean, maybe you could have handled it but I scream when I make food messes and every time I tried to lift this big boy out of the basket, I seized up with anxiety.

Henry got a Beef n’ Chedduh sandwich which was loaded with sliced “roast beef” and VELVETY fake melted cheese on an onion bun. He let me try it but I have to tell you, I was so fucking married to my DUDE RANCH that I can barely even remember what his tasted like.

We also shared a side of mac n’ cheese and bro, holy shit. You could not tell. Henry is a manly meat man and even he was like I COULD NOT EVEN TELL. He did say that he could tell his mock roast beef wasn’t real, but I mean did it taste good? Yes, he said. Yes it surely did. Yee haw.

“I liked everything I ate, so it’s a good review I guess.” – literally the best Henry could come up with, I hate him so much.

We brought a chicken sandwich with mac n’ cheese home for Chooch, Henry splurged and got himself a burger to try later, and we split a piece of German chocolate cake in the car on the way home later that afternoon. It was delicious. I wish I had another slice to eat right now. :(

Even Chooch, who does not show any excitement or even a sign of life most of the time these days, was semi-enthusiastic later that night when Henry heated up his sandwich and put it back together for him. “This was REALLY GOOD but now I wish I had gotten the spicy one. Why does this place have to be so far away?”

I KNOW, WHYYYY?? I was literally so sad while eating my lunch there because I couldn’t stop thinking about how I can’t spend the next several weeks eating my way through their menu and I can’t just zip right over there and slurp up whatever insane special they come up with.

If you’re a vegan or vegetarian, Pittsburgh isn’t the WORST place to live, but we really don’t have any of these wild fast food vegan options like other cities do and it’s sad but also maybe good because I would probably need to size up and I kind of like the size I am now, but I also REALLY LIKE THOSE JOOOOOOSEY FAUX CHICKEN SANDWICHES.

(I almost called it a sando which is what the obnoxious Oak Hill Post restaurant up the street from me calls their sandwiches and I hate it so much. Actually, I hate all of their whatever-we-call-hipsters-now vernacular so much that I actually stopped eating there lol I AM LIKE THAT.)

Feb 222022
 

I used to be really into going to major FOODIE type of restaurants, but lately I’m looking for something a bit more down to earth than sitting in a candlelit room with yuppies, having the essence of hickory and truffles elegantly farted into my face by a haunted accordion. I mean, that shit is cool for a second but sometimes I just really want to eat comfort food in some small town dive with the local yokels, you know what I’m saying?

I guess this is our current version of “going out on dates” since Chooch has ditched us for That McDonald’s Life. Not gonna lie, it’s been nice to get out of the house and neither of us are opposed to driving out of Pittsburgh so it’s been nice to see non-Brookline sights. Even rural shit, I guess.

For this weekend’s diner date, I let Henry choose. As usual, he chose poorly. It was some place called G&G’s or something else equally auto body-sounding. It was in VANDERGRIFT, whatever that means, and at first I was like, “OK G&G’s, I see you. Let’s goooo” because it was situated squat in the middle of an adorable small-town street (actually, it was on the corner) and it looked cute! Not all like tires were getting rotated in the back!

Except that it was PACKED and not regular-PACKED, but TIGHTLY-PACKED. So as soon as we walked in and put our name and number on the list, I felt panicky. I mean, I’m getting less OMG about eating in restaurants during The Bad Times, but I’m not OK with crowds still. And I really didn’t want to sit in the middle of so many small-town mouth breathers just for the sake of a grilled cheese that, let’s be real, would be devoured within 4 bites.

Since the host had my number, we went back to sit in the car. There was nowhere to stand in the little foyer without jutting your buns into the face of diner.

We had only been waiting in the car for about 10 minutes before I started getting RULL antsy and “don’t they know who we are”‘ish, so Henry was like, “OMG fine let’s find somewhere else to go, fuck me for trying to choose a place without your consent.”

THAT’S RIGHT, BITCH.

I ended up finding a place through my nemesis Yelp that was allegedly “9 minutes” away. At first I was like, “I’m not sure about this place, it has taxidermy” which is obviously completely off-brand for me. But at the same time, it was the kind of DARK LOG CABIN vibe I was yearning for and just didn’t know it.

On the way there, that fucking G&G motherfucker had the audacity to call me to tell me our table was ready. Cool fucking story! I was mad that they called and not texted (you know, with their restaurant landline) so I refused to answer out of principal. They called right back! Jesus, why are you sweatin’ me, G&G?? Get a life!

Anyway, we rolled up to BONFIRE and I was like, “OK, this is nothing to look at from the outside” and then immediately upon entering, we were cock-slapped in the face by a wall of stale cigarette stench because the steps to the basement LOUNGE was right next to the entrance. I was tempted to go down there and check in on the sad sacks crying into their beers, but there’s always next time.

The front room was empty aside from a table of OLD MEN REGULARS who told us to just go ahead and sit down. I had lowkey Blue Flame-circa-1984 vibes,  to be honest, and even though I still was MEH about the DEER HEADS everywhere, I was really feeling like this was the place that I was meant to me, fuck you G&G. (And you too Henry for suggesting that dump.)

Henry immediately headed straight for the bathroom while I chose the one booth that was situated right next to a beam on one side – Henry’s side, lol.

The waitress came to get our drink orders and she was so adorable in a cowgirl flannel and Princess Leia buns. She said she loved my sweater and I sang, “I THINK I’M GONNA LIKE IT HERE” in my best Annie impersonation while Daddy Warbucks was pissing in the john.

“How was the bathroom?? Was it cool??” I cried after Henry returned and finally managed to get situated in the booth without having to slice off part of his gut first. (And yes, I was a good orphan and ordered a stupid unsweetened ice tea for him in his absence.)

“Not really, it was just a regular bathroom,” he said. “Nothing special.”

“OK well I’m taking my phone anyway just in case,” I cried as I rolled out of the booth toward the restrooms. Henry never thinks anything is special so I’d be the judge of that.

It was OK! Kept up the dead animal theme.

Back in the LODGE, Henry ordered cole slaw and something called Texas Toenails or something from the appetizer section of the menu – he was really flexing that Faygo salary. Meanwhile, someone sitting at the Old Man table had a ringtone that sounded like the horn of one of those mini-big rigs that the SHRINER’S drive down my road during the Memorial Day Parade.

Hold please, while I find an example.

LOL I just caught Henry looking all around for the sound.

Every time that notification went off, I pictured one of the old guys paying the check and then peeling out of the Bonfire lot in his bitchin’ Shriner mini-car, honk-honk motherfuckers. Why was this so stupidly funny to me??

I finished the word search in like 5 minutes or less because I am actually a prodigy at word searches in case you never read about me in the local Pennysaver or whatever. Also, Henry thought our server’s name was Audible and definitely not Autumn.

Dude, this grilled cheese was just what I needed. And I stole some of Henry’s fries which were JUST THE WAY I LIKE IT. Yeah, I could handle the whole HUNTER’S LODGE vibe a lot better if all the dead animals were fake. I felt like a hypocrite gushing over how JUST MY STYLE that place is! But it’s true! I love dark/dim restaurants. Sigh.

Meanwhile, there was a steady stream of old country classics playing, as expected. I don’t like country at all but if I’m going to be stuck somewhere enduring it, I would definitely prefer the stuff from the 70s and early 80s, like Kenny Rogers or Dolly Parton shit you know? So I wasn’t mouthing off about the Bonfire soundtrack at all. However, at one point, this one song came on that made me straight up drop my grilled cheese.

“OMG I HAVEN’T HEARD THIS SONG SINCE I WAS LITTLE AND IT’S BRINGING BACK HIDDEN MEMORIES, MAYBE OF MY BIO-DAD???” I hissed across the table because god forbid any of the deer heads heard me baring my soul. There was literally no one else around us but them. :(

It was that I WOULDN’T HAVE MISSED IT FOR THE WORLD jam and I was like on the verge of spurting out tears.

Henry couldn’t remember who sang it, and I’m certain I probably new knew, so a quick Shazaam learned him  that it was Ronnie Milsap.

“Oh, I never would have guessed that,” I scoffed. “I don’t even know who he is, just his name.”

“RONNIE MILSAP?!” Henry repeated, like OK I already said I know the name, just not really who he is but cook on with your irritating reiterations, Chef Dick. And then, “THE BLIND COUNTRY SINGER!!!??”

The way he said this, totally blurted it out across the table in this serious, frenzied way like he was the friend I phoned and he was telling me the winning answer.

We locked eyes for a moment just as the SHRINER NOTIFICATION went off 4 times in succession at the Elder Table and I just lost it, mid-chew, about to spit out a glob of grilled cheese cud onto Henry’s glasses. It was the most hilarious 3 seconds I’ve experienced in quite some time, Henry’s dire Milsap description followed by clown horns. I was choking at that point, tears streaming down my scrunched up fat face, and even Henry started laughing but I don’t think he knew why.

OMG I will never forget RONNIE MILSAP ever again except for when I started to write this portion of the blog post and had to google “Who sings….” because I totally forgot.

THE BLIND COUNTRY SINGER.

JOHN WAYNE SHIT.

SAW SHIT.

OK somehow I ended up feasting on coconut (WHY DO I ALWAYS TYPE COCOCUNT AT FIRST???) cream pie three weekends in a row, and I have no regertz. This one was so good and totally my style!! I knew as soon as AUDIBLE was walking over playing a sample of THE LAST BUCKAROO* with my slice of pie in her hand, that this was going to be a winner. For starters, it had WHIPPED TOPPING. And the actual coconut cream was fresh and homemade-tasting and not snot-textured and vanilla pudding-y which is my least favorite kind and sadly the kind that Janna and I had two weeks ago at that other place I was obsessed with but already forgot the name of.

*(I literally just googled “What are names of classic western books” lol)

This is where all the CIG STENCH was emanating from.

Oh shit, I should have checked the menu to see if they have SHIRLEY TEMPLES because this totally seemed like the type of establishment that would.

Anyway, I am smitten with this place. I want to go back soon-ish and check out the BACK ROOM which seems to overlook A GORGE. Or maybe just a slight hill.

I might have my birthday dinner here so stay tuned for an invitation. The Watering Hole area would probably be a great place for an AFTER PARTY. If I send you an invitation, you better show up and say I WOULDN’T HAVE MISSED IT FOR THE WORLD.

 

 

First round of Shirley Temples on Chooch!

Dec 022021
 

OK Brenda listen up. You know how we’re always sniffing out vegan eateries in whatever town the coasters are luring us to? Well, um…I might have chosen Six Flags Over Georgia PURPOSELY based on its close proximity to SLUTTY VEGAN. Henry alerted me to the existence of this BEAST of a vegan establishment several months ago and I have been obsessing ever since.

They have several locations around Atlanta, but from the YouTube videos I’ve watched, it looks like people line up clear around the block for this joint – one of the vegan YouTubers I watch actually stood in line for 5 hours outside in the winter when Slutty Vegan’s food truck travelled to NYC, and she still said it was WORTH THE HYPE. Also, whatever bacon they use appears to be the benchmark for all vegan bacon because I’m always hearing people comparing vegan bacon to Slutty Vegan’s bacon.

Also, it’s owned by a Black woman and this makes it even more appealing to me because you know how I love to support places like this!

Anyway, after leaving Six Flags Saturday night, Henry was like, “OK, let’s just go there and see if it’s a mess and then we’ll go from there.” I was literally having quiet, contained anxiety attacks about this because I wanted to shove slutty meatless delights into my whore mouth but I also didn’t want to endure crowds of people. LUCKILY, whichever location Henry chose was not the popular one because there was only one other person there!

It was a really small, walk-up location. I’m actually not even sure if you can dine-in at the main location now that I think about it, even though it does seem like it’s a much bigger place.

Right away, it felt like a party. The music was blasting even outside so as we walked down the sidewalk from our car, the vibe was RIGHT. Then we were greeted by the friendliest lady at the ordering counter; she was just BEAMING charisma, I fucking swear to god. There is nothing better and more comforting than going somewhere for the first time and having an employee essentially hold your hand and walk you through the process, which is exactly what she did and I really, really, really wish I had the forethought to check out her name because I would have loved to give her props when I wrote my Google review!

She explained the menu to us, told us what the most popular items were, what her personal favorite beverage is, what types of sauces they had on hand…it was like VIP treatment. The reason I’m really stressing this part of the experience is because it’s not uncommon to get treated like shit at trendy, hipster-run vegan restaurants. It’s almost like they know we’re FRAUDS when we walk in: you have Carnivore Henry, Vegetarian Chooch, and 50/50 Vegan/Vegetarian me.

I eat eggs still, OK?? And honey! SORRY.

But according to the owner, Pinky Cole (who is AN INSPIRATION, let me tell you), the majority of their customers are actually meat-eaters and that is actually amazing because this means that’s at least one meatless meal that these people are eating and it also means that this place is dispelling the myth that vegan food = rabbit food, and that maybe it’s delicious enough to get them to at least CUT BACK on their meat consumption. And that is actually so wonderful to think about.

So maybe this place is super gimmicky, but it gets people through the doors. And then it’s the quality of the food that gets them coming back. Because I am here right now telling you that this was the best vegan “fast food” I have ever had and I am WHIPPED for it. Literally have not been able to stop thinking about it since we left Georgia last weekend.

Oh! And when it was learned that we were n00bs to Slutty Vegan, our counter friend called back into the kitchen that there were VIRGINS in the house and everyone started cheering and banging on the counters. IT WAS SO EXCITING!!! My other favorite part though was hearing Chooch casually order a Fussy Hussy with no tomatoes. And Henry opted to upgrade his One Night Stand to a Menage a Trois, which added the legendary BACON and also FRIED SHRIMP!!! to the mix. I was really excited that he did this because I originally wanted to get the HEAUX BOY but it wasn’t available that day so I opted for the Chik’n Head instead. It is really hard for me to pass up vegan chicken sandwiches. I wasn’t much of a burger-eater in my past meat-eating days, but I could definitely kill a chicken sandwich. In fact, that and the McFish are the only things I ever really got at McDonald’s but that feels like an actual lifetime ago.

(I can still vividly remember the special chicken parm sandwich from Burger King though, OMFG I loved that shit as a kid!! It also felt like such a “grown up” thing to eat for some reason lol.)

Anyway, once our order was ready, we were floated out the door on a ribbon of hilarious and exuberant SLUT chants from the Slutty Vegan staff. It was one of the best send-offs of my life, not gonna lie, fam.

Then we had to endure the 10 minute drive back to the hotel which was EXCRUCIATING with a bagful of tempting, tongue-curling smells as the fourth passenger.

These pictures are shit but look, Linda – I was tryna EAT the damn food not fluff it for Glamour Shots. I dunno what that sauce was on my chik’n sandwich but I’d like to marinate all of my foods in it starting yesterday. Henry and I always get different things so we can share but I really didn’t want to give him half of this, ughhhhh.

(LOL it was Buffalo sauce – I just looked it up. As a vegetarian, I haven’t really had many opportunities to eat food saturated in Buffalo sauce so I’m not sure that’s a taste I would have recognized.)

(FOR INSTANCE: I HAVE NEVER HAD BUFFALO CHICKEN DIP!)

You can see the shrimp and bacon sorta. I should have taken headshots of that fucking shrimp because it was INSANITY. Maybe it didn’t taste SO MUCH like the real thing that it would fool a meathead, but it was pretty fucking close. The  texture was scary-realistic and the taste was half-past shrimp adjacent, more toward shrimp shadow. Like, it was REALLY CLOSE to passing, you guys. I am obsessed with it. There are some faux shrimp products on the market that we have tried and nothing has come close until Slutty Vegan. When can I go back.

And that bacon? Yeah, I get it now. I’m officially IN THE KNOW. That was some delectable fake bacon, Wendell.

And Chooch actually didn’t even want to go there once he saw the pictures because he “wasn’t that hungry” and “wouldn’t be able to eat all of that” and yet…and yet.

Bitch inhaled that burger before Henry even sat down and unwrapped his.

But yeah, that burger. Ouch, my gut, but give me more. They use the Impossible Burger but they add their own spices and secrets to it and whatever happens after that is pure animal-friendly magic. SLUT SAUCE FTW.

I hardly ever write actual online reviews but then I heard that BLUE LIVES MATTER fucker-bitches were flooding Slutty Vegan with negative reviews when Pinky made the choice to stop giving discounts to the Georgia police during the aftermath of the George Floyd murder, in solidarity with Black Lives Matter protests, I definitely felt compelled to add my five-stars.

I salivated for mths while watching so many YouTube videos about this place. Finally came to Atlanta from Pittsburgh and was determined to wrap my mouth around one of these slutty creations. I can now say with confidence that Slutty Vegan is worth the hype! Even my carnivorous partner was doing the Homer Simpson moan while devouring his Ménage a Trois! (That shrimp! The texture! The flavor! HOW?!) I got the Chik’n Head and, four days later, am still having vivid, possibly explicit daydreams about it.

The vibe of Slutty Vegan really elevated the experience – it felt like walking into the friendliest, most inclusive party, and when the person at the ordering counter found out we were VIRGINS, she happily navigated us through the menu and made helpful suggestions. I wish I had gotten her name because she was SO GREAT!

I have eaten at some vegan places where everyone acted like they were 2 cool 4 skool and it really took away from the experience but that was not the case with Slutty Vegan. I’m obsessed. This was the best, most indulgent vegan food I’ve ever had and I’m so sad that I’m back in Pittsburgh, hundreds of miles away from my new crush, Slutty Vegan. :(

Oh man, get me back to Georgia STAT. I need to eat my way through this menu! I want Pinky Cole’s autograph. What a gem.

Oct 182021
 

Lol ok it wasn’t quite truly outrageous but it was really nice, nonetheless. I’m just Erin, not Jem, after all.

It is rare that I am in good spirits for an entire weekend without any mood dips or irrational thoughts or, I don’t know, the seam of my sock setting me off. But this was one of those rare weekends where not even Henry’s breathing was getting on my nerves. What the actual fuck, amirite?

Let’s start with Saturday. I was still jonesing for pumpkin ANYTHING after building that pumpkin patch on Thursday; you’d think handling all those pumpkins and getting scratched and scraped by their stems would have completely turned me off but no. I needed sweet pumpkin SOMETHING in my mouth. I saw on Instagram that Valkyrie Donuts had vegan pumpkin pies on hand so I sent Henry on over to Bellevue to procure a pumpkin pie for his princess.

It looked so good! And it was OK! I really liked the texture. But it didn’t have me turning cartwheels in the pumpkin patch of my mind, if you know what I mean. I think also that I’m just very hard to impress in these older years.

Then while Henry was PRIMING THE FRAME FOR MY SEOUL SUBWAY SIGN*, I finished watching Midnight Mass. Oh man, that gets a big HELL NO from me. I’m sorry if it’s your current netflix fave, but the writing, the monologues, and oh FOR FUCK’S SAKE THE ACTING, was excruciating. I really have enjoyed other shows by Mike Flanagan in the past so I was extremely surprised by the amount of ire this series drew up from the depths of my soul. Every fucking time there was a sign with, coincidentally, Erin & Riley, I was snoozin’. The convo they had about death? The way Riley was looking at Erin with that fucking creepy puppy-eyed love-drunk visage? Oh god, no just fuck off.

The only things I liked were Bev – I mean, obviously I hated her character, which was the whole point, but that role was played to perfection. And nothing exciting or even the least bit interesting happened until the penultimate episode, at which point shit hit the fan and I was like, “OK, Mike Flanagan, let’s gooooo” but that wasn’t enough to redeem the series. There is no excuse for the 5 episodes leading up to that, being so dreadful.

Oh, and the Sheriff. Loved him.

Chooch worked from 1:00 to 8:45 both days over the weekend, so Henry was like, “Fine. I will take you to a haunted house since you have no friends” and I was like, “Wow, thanks.” It was weird though! When was the last time Henry and I went to a haunted house, just the two of us, like it was a date?! I mean, I could check my haunted house journals but you don’t care and to be honest, I don’t either, IT WAS RHETORICAL.

Duh.

I even had a GOING ON A DATE TO THE HAUNTED HOUSE ensemble picked out! I will have an entire post with the dumb photoshoot I did to promote this shirt, but for now, here we are, lol.

We went to Scare Manor, which is set up in a field behind an actually haunted building called Hill View Manor. It’s been featured on just about every popular ghost hunting TV show in existence. You could buy a combo ticket to tour the actual manor as well, but we opted to just do the haunt since the manor is open most of the year for tours.

I won’t get into the nitty gritty because I save that for the haunted house journal, don’t you know, but this place charmed my face off. Henry and I were the first people to go through and they sent just the two of us, which always makes this shit better. But this place was OLD SCHOOL. The scare actors were so into it and the set designs reminded me so much of all the haunted houses I loved when I was in high school in the 90s, back when there were so many little charity ones all over and they were cheap enough and close enough that you could go to two or three in one night and wake up  the next morning with NO VOICE from all the hysterical shrieking.

This one tickled me so much that I felt inspired to go back inside the waiting area to let the people at the ticket table know that we loved it.

“Would you be willing to film a testimonial?” the ticket lady asked and I was like, “HO HO HO no.” But then she was like, “IT WILL BE FINE, JUST A QUICK ONE” and I was like, “Um….” because I hate saying no so I was like, “OK haha, fine” and she was like, “Yay let me just call the lady who does that” and then that lady appeared (Lisa I think was her name) and she was like “COOL GREAT I’M JUST GOING TO HAVE YOU STAND OVER HERE” and she made this big production of turning down the lights and putting her flashlight on her phone to illuminate us and now every single person waiting for a tour had turned around to watch, like, “the fuck is happening over there” and Henry muttered, “Thanks a lot, Erin” and I was like, “I will just let you do all the talking since I suck at this” but then Lisa started recording and suddenly PRIME TIME ERIN came out and I was super into it.

I mean, in my head I was. I have no idea how this video turned out because it’s now Monday and nowhere to be seen.

Then we came home and later that night I told Chooch to wash the dishes and he said, “I worked all day” so that was cool. I’m surprised it took him nearly a full week of working to drop that line on me.

The next day, Henry and I went to Many More, an Asian market in the Strip. I needed some more Korean popsicles for the G-Dragon popsicle art I’m making and Henry needed to buy boring stuff like produce. They had a new-to-us KitKat flavor though and I think it’s my new favorite?

It’s like wheat cracker or something? And the chocolate part is like this delicious and mild golden coating and I am so sad that  this isn’t a standard flavor.

Then I found out that there isn’t just one new baby Buddy, there are two! Here’s one chilling with Girl Buddy (aka Mom Buddy) while the other babe was noshing on our windowsill. Before I took this picture, Henry and I had just come from Giant Eagle and I saw Girl Buddy foraging in our front yard, near the street. I knew that they were out of peanuts but we had just bought more at the grocery store, so I crossed the street and said, “Buddy! Come with me! I have peanuts!” and she fucking FOLLOWED ME DOWN THE SIDEWALK TO THE PORCH, where she then skittered around my feet impatiently while I opened the bag of peanuts.

I felt like this was truly Next Level squirrelling. My dream is for them to eventually sit in my lap where I can pet them while they eat their peanuts.

Let’s see, what else. Oh! Henry and I started season three of IN THE DARK Friday night so we watched some of that off and on over the weekend. I can’t even tell you how happy I am to have this show back on my TV! It was such a sleeper hit for me when I accidentally started watching it on Netflix last year. I  got my friend Megan (aka my Logging Partner), to also watch it and she too was like, “DID YOU SEE SEASON THREE IS COMING!?” Guys, this show is so good. I mean, it’s outrageous (like me and Jem) but so fucking good and dark and funny and suspenseful and the CHARACTERS!!! Felix forever!!!

Henry took me to another new-to-us haunt later that night! Thank god we actually like each other or else we’d be fucked now that the Child Buffer has been removed. I know it’s only been a week and I’m not saying that I’m happy to have Chooch out of the house with a job or anything like that, believe me, but I’m also KIND OF excited at the idea of like, doing couple things again. I mean, not that we didn’t go out without Chooch in the last 15 years, of course we went to concerts and things like that, but it just feels different now? Kind of cute? Also scary because at the end of the day it only means we’re getting old? Lol. Ugh, just be happy, Erin. Enjoy it, Erin. Don’t cloud it with negativity, Erin.

Anyway, in that picture up there, you can see the WORLD’S TALLEST SMOKESTACK, located in Homer City. We were driving through farmland and as we came up over a crest in the road, that fucking thing became visible and I started screaming, “AHHH WHAT IS THAT??” I took this picture when we were further away so it’s not as scary but I literally felt like I was dumped into a 1950s sci-fi movie for a second.

Anyway, we went to Scary Harry’s which is a little over an hour away in Homer City, whatever that means. I have always seen this one come up in haunt listings but for some reason, we have never gone. I had it on the list for this season because I was looking specifically for haunts that are open on Thursdays and Sundays because those are preferable nights since the crowds are low. A lot of haunts cut back their hours to just Fridays and Saturdays this year, presumably because of the pandemic/being short on people. But Scary Harry’s is open on Sundays so this is the one I chose. Plus, $15!! I swear, that’s actually a really good deal in the haunted house world.

We listened to Alexisonfire the whole way there because I have been on this Riot Fest nostalgia kick lately even though Riot Fest turned dumb so we no longer go. But the three times we did attend were a lot of fun (well, mostly for me) and I will never forget the way I felt when I saw Alexisonfire perform there. I also associate them with fall too so it seemed like the perfect musical accompaniment for an hour-long ride in drizzling rain and chilly temps.

Waiting in the rain!

It thankfully stopped raining by the time the place opened and for the second night in a row, we were the first ones in! Again, I’ll save the play-by-play for the journal but this one exceeding expectations, too! I thought it was just going to be some dinky haunted trail but it was so much more than that and I will say that I can’t really think of another haunt that used audio as a scare device as effectively and in an array of different scenarios as well as Scary Harry’s. I mean, there were times when a sound scared me more than the live scare actors, and there was also a certain area in the “saloon” that had me panicking and screaming, “HENRY WHERE ARE YOU OMG I HATE THIS HELP” lol. It was SO GOOD. We even bonded a little bit with the other much younger couple (from Punxsutawney!) who got stuck going through with us, and we had a nice chat with the parking lot worker afterward because when a haunt is actually good, I love to tell someone who works there because I would want to hear good feedback too if I was affiliated with a haunted house! This is always the time when real, authentic Erin comes out and is suddenly a functioning member of society who can use her words without stuttering or being awkward. Man, I missed that Erin. Wish she’d stick around full-time!

What a delightful weekend, honestly.

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 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 needing 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  the line was super long, 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 then split the moment I saw they didn’t have what I needed, even though Henry is a massive fan of browsing every single aisle in thrift shops. I just don’t 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! Did 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 who 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 KNOW ANYONE 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 thought 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 wanted 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 we 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 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 not 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 what 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.

May 262020
 

Well, I’m pretty sure I’ve had worse Memorial Days (like the notorious one in 2005 when my ex-bff came to visit and I locked myself in my room and she and Henry literally took off my bedroom door because they thought I was trying to OD on meds?! I WASN’T, for the record).

I mean, it would have been nice to be able to wild out in an Ozark watering hole (KIDDING, EW, NOT EVEN WHEN THERE IS NO COVID) but it turns out that we were still able to have a fine day without traveling.

I guess.

And I know that I complain about and ridicule that dumb local parade that slithers past my house every Memorial Day, but it was actually kind of sad that it was canceled this year. I guess theoretically the parade could have still happened, but who can trust hundreds of Yinzers to stand six feet apart from each other on the sidewalks?

Henry and I went to Jefferson Memorial for a walk earlier in the day and it was so freaking hot that we were both huffing and puffing on every hill and then there was this huge blast which made me scream WAS THAT A GUNSHOT as two more blasts fired out.

Henry paused, head tilted, SERVICE manual activated. “Yes. Seven guns. Three shots. Equals 21.” Then he noticed that I had contorted into a floating question mark next to him so he clarified, “it’s a military thing.”

OH OK.

When I told Chooch about this later, he died a little.

Apparently, there was a whole memorial thingie-thang happening in this cemetery, so that was great. I don’t think any of those super old farts were even wearing masks, so that was even greater. We made sure to take a different path because yeah, no thanks.

(Henry did have a little bit of a SERVICE boner though, I think he would really like for you to know that.)

Meanwhile, the book we chose was something that I thought was going to be fluffy YA but hoooooooo-boy, nope nope nope. I mean, yes, it was YA, but it was pretty heavy. Asian Readathon has been going SO WELL that I already can’t wait to do it again next year even though I basically followed none of the prompts and played by my own rules, which was essentially HOW MANY BOOKS BY ASIAN AUTHORS CAN I READ IN ONE MONTH, IT’S A RACE!

Back to Memorial Day. I was chatting on Kakao with my pal Kyoung who lives in South Korea and he was like “oh, what is Memorial Day, my Erin”* and I had to google it because I couldn’t remember, lol, please revoke my America card, I don’t want it anymore. This resulted in me asking Henry what the difference is between Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day and he started to answer me but then I didn’t care so I started playing the audiobook.

*(He calls me his Erin and I think that’s so adorable, I bet Henry does too—wait, I’ll ask him. BRB. OK, I’m back. He was doing the dishes and muttered, “Whatever.”)

Anyway, I decided that since we couldn’t really do anything fun on Memorial Day (and who am I kidding, it’s not like we typically get invited to any cookouts, pandemic or no pandemic, lol #friendlessinPittsburgh), then I wanted Henry to make some of my favorite cookout foods from when I was growing up, those Kelly Family Summer staples (which, if you know my family, sounds like some dysfunctional game of abuse that we maybe might have played, involved chasing each other with staplers while foaming at the mouth).

So, I’m not sure if this is something that was INVENTED in Pittsburgh, but I do know that it’s been a hometown favorite since I can remember, and that is the princess of all picnics, the Strawberry Pretzel Salad. My mom made it for every single cookout when I was growing up, and I always just thought it was one of those things that everyone made for cookouts, but apparently people not from Pittsburgh are like, “????” so if you’re reading this and you’re not from Pittsburgh, please let me know if you have ever heard of this. I mean, there’s a Betty Crocker recipe for it for god’s sake! And when Henry asked me to text my mom for her recipe, she was like, “I’m not home. Just go on Pinterest.”

WOW OK.

Anyway, Henry did an OK job.

But while we were chowing, he admitted that he HAD NEVER HEARD OF THIS UNTIL WE STARTED DATING AND HE WENT TO HIS FIRST EVER COOKOUT AT MY MOM’S HOUSE AND I AM SO FUCKING SHOOK, I CAN’T BELIEVE THAT WE HAVE BEEN FAKE-MARRIED FOR 18 (19?) YEARS AND I AM JUST LEARNING THIS. My friend Sandy said she feels sorry for childhood Henry. I agree. What a sad childhood.

He also made ambrosia, which was definitely not like my mom’s (she said she’ll look for her traditional recipe and give it to him for his birthday, lol) and Watergate salad, which actually isn’t something that we would generally have at any of my family gatherings, but I do like it in other non-Kelly Family Cookout contexts and haven’t had it in a very long time, so why not make the picnic side salads a full trifecta, you know what I’m saying?

Henry picked a good Watergate salad recipe because that shit was ON POINT. (I told him I never wanted to look at his ambrosia again, though). The Watergate salad also made me miss Eat n Park a little bit, which is actually open for take out during social distancing, but what I specifically miss is their salad bar even though EW I don’t really want to think about salad bars at a time like this, but they almost always have pistachio fluff in their “pudding/jello” section, and on very rare, special occasions, they up the ante and make it a full-blown Watergate.

Not the most attractive picture, but that’s what you get when it’s plated by Henry’s big bumbling blue-collar meat-fists. It’s important to note that this salad is probably the most “Yinzer” thing about me. Honestly. I fail pretty much every other Yinzer test out there.

So yeah, lots of sugar for dinner! But…also lots of fruit?

Later that night, Henry and I watched a Chinese adaption of this really great Japanese crime novel we “read” together over the weekend and Chooch was like, “I’M NOT WATCHING THIS” because he’s jealous that Henry and I have our weird/creepy audiobook couple’s club now. Haha.

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.)

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…)

Jan 232019
 

Henry had to work because I guess Faygo doesn’t recognize the importance of Martin Luther King Jr., but Chooch and I had the day off. We had lunch plans with Janna but first Chooch got all involved in some pirated version of Heathers he found on YouTube and I was like “Oh ok so I’m watching Heathers with my kid” but then I quickly was like, “Wait should I be watching Heathers with my kid?” It’s funny how you don’t realize how inappropriate/crude/parentally alarming things are until you watch it with your pre-teen.

Chooch’s main takeaway was that Christian Slater isn’t all that great.

WELL OK BUT YOU WERE BORN IN 2006 SO…

Janna came and picked us up around 12:30 (she originally thought I wanted her to pick us up at 12:03 and thought I was being oddly specific when really she’s a number-dummy) and we headed off to Lawrenceville via some weird scenic route. Originally, our plan was to go to B52, which is a vegan place that Henry refuses to go to not because he’s some big burly bacon-eater, but because he just knows that the clientele within those walls is going to be pretentious AF.

And deep down, I know this too.

So we arrived around 1:00 and there was a 30 minute wait because every yuppie vegan in the area who had the day off had the same idea as us. We gave the hostess our name, figuring we were there so we might as well just deal with the wait. Some weird bitch came in and started asking us all these questions about the wait and where to leave her name and there were two other people standing closer to her so I don’t understand why she couldn’t just ask them—oh yeah, because they looked like stuck-up douches and we looked like regular people without a list of French films about incest shoved up our asses.

Eventually, the hostess with the weird bob, 1980s Babysitters Club glasses and super red lipstick came over and said that some space opened up at the counter if we wanted to sit there instead of continuing to wait for a table, and we stupidly said yes, which was such a mistake because it was awkward at the counter and I couldn’t get comfortable long enough to even concentrate on the menu. I kept hoarsely whispering to Janna, “I hate this. I hate it here. I’m so uncomfortable. They don’t even have what I wanted* on the menu today. Let’s just leave OMG should we just leave Janna can we leave?” and Janna really picked up handsomely on my hints and said, “Yes, we can just leave” so we did and I was like DEUCES MALORIE (that’s what I imagine the hostess’s name was).

*(Vegan mousakka! Do you know how rare that is?! Real mousakka used to be one of my favorite foods after I had it in Greece when my aunt Sharon was like YOU WILL NOT LIKE THAT but bam bitch, I did.)

Anyway, we left and Janna was like, “Thank god, I hated sitting there too” and so many more people had lined up after us that we figured we had probably lost our spot for a table by then anyway, so fuck off B52. I don’t get why vegan eateries have to be soooooo uppity and uncomfortable. The only place I’ve been to that wasn’t like that, that didn’t make me feel like I needed to have pixie bangs or a neck tattoo or a Schwinn with a wicker basket as my primary means of transportation, is Zenith. Long live Zenith!!

We went down the street a bit and hit up our backup plan, Ki Ramen. I mean, after driving around for an eternity because Lawrenceville needs to trade in some hipsters for parking spaces, for real. It’s a huge reason why we don’t frequent that area more often.

Anyway, Ki Ramen was OK. It was weird because we walked in and stood there for a while before some waiter came over and asked, “You guys eatin’?”

Um, yes, that was the plan.

Apparently, we were in the wrong dining area? I was so confused! There were people eating in the room we were standing in, but the waiter took us down into a glorified garage (seriously, there were big wires coming out of the concrete walls) and at first I thought he was seating us AT ANOTHER COUNTER but at the last minute, he slid the menus down on the last empty table in that room. Thank god.

We started off with cauliflower wings – they were delicious!

Janna and I both got curry ramen. It wasn’t the best ramen I’ve ever had, that’s for sure. I mean, not to be a spoiled brat, but I’ve had ramen in actual Asia, so…

LOL, I cringed so hard when I typed that. Keeping it!

You think I’m bad, Chooch is like the biggest ramen snob ever and was definitely not impressed with his ramen.

But, the service was pretty quick which was nice because we were fucking starving.

Chooch-Eating-Ramen is my favorite Chooch, I think. He has such chopsticks-wielding pizzazz.

Chooch said this looked like our cat Penelope. :(

When the waitress brought our checks, the one she gave me was waaaaay cheaper than what it should have been. It was like half of what ours should have really been and there was that split second when I wanted to be an asshole and not say anything but this blog ain’t called OH HONESTLY ERIN for nothin’, OK?! I am stupid-honest! So I waved the waitress over and told her she brought me the wrong check, thinking that at the very least, maybe it would bring me some good old-fashioned Karma, but so far all it brought me was two shitty days in a row at work and $40 out of my bank account.

I was bitching about this to Henry who said, “Yeah, but even if you had kept the wrong check, you paid by credit card so they would have just charged the difference to the account later when they realized what happened,” and oh I’m sorry, I forgot that Henry teaches a class on Restaurant Check Fraud at the community college.

See also: STFU Henry.

Apparently, this was Chooch’s “take it easy” pose.

The post-lunch plan was to go to a cafe and get caffeine and dessert. We decided on Black Forge because Janna had never been there and I don’t go there as much as I should, but first Janna had to get stuck in a one-way street cesspool downtown, causing Chooch and I to have a million laughing fits until she tried to back out of a parking lot into oncoming traffic and then we weren’t laughing anymore.

But, she did eventually get us to Allentown in one piece, and then tried to park in a lot designated for the police at the local police station, lol. Fucking popo and their own private, convenient parking lots. Pfft.

Allentown has murals, you guys. We live for murals.

I have one pose, and this is it.

At Black Forge, Janna and I attended Chooch’s lecture on gender equality, inspired by the fact that Black Forge’s bathrooms are designated for “Wizards” and “Witches” but both genders can be either of those things, and also included a reference to “old men holding their dingalings in the bathroom.”

It was a great learning experience. I felt so enlightened.

The last time I was at Black Forge, their punch cards featured Trump and various members of his shitty administration, but now that most of those people have been ousted, their current cards just feature a bunch of Trump’s degenerate visages. I really fucking hate that man so goddamn much, that Black Forge could sell gas station swill and I would still happily support them.

But as it turns out, their coffee and other beverages are fantastic and they sell pastries made at the nearby vegan restaurant Onion Maiden, which is actually another vegan place that doesn’t make me like an outcast. But it’s also very small inside and gets crowded fast so you have to be strategic when planning a meal there.

Totally worth it though and now I’m kicking myself for not just suggesting we have lunch there that day!

In case you were wondering, which you weren’t I know, I got the My Dying Chai which may have been the best chai latte I’ve ever had, Janna got something mocha-y, and Chooch had to be difficult and inquire if the hot chocolate came in different flavors because he is spoiled rotten by the baristas at Muddy Cup who will make any fucking kind of fancy-ass hot chocolate your imagination can concoct as long as they have the syrup there (and they have the most extensive syrup collection I’ve ever seen), so the barista at Black Forge was like, “………flavors?” and then realized what he was asking so she was like, “Yeah go for it, bro” and he went with strawberry because I think he felt panicked since he didn’t have a list to reference, but he said the final product was “really fucking good” and I was like, “I will take your word for it” because I don’t play that backwash game.

Wow, that was a good way to spend the day off. It was only like 10 degrees and the perfect day to stay inside, but I’m really glad we went out and braved the bitter winter.

***

Later that evening, I made fun of Henry which caused Chooch to laugh so hard that he vomited and then I made the mistake of looking at it, so I started dry-heaving really bad and then Henry was like CLEAN THAT UP to Chooch, so then Chooch was dry-heaving while he was mopping up his puke, and this made me dry-heave even HARDER to the point where I was for certain that I was going to throw up, so I had to push Henry out of the way and run to the bathroom, where I could still hear Chooch dry-heaving from downstairs so then we were like gang-gagging back and forth, this terrible volley of vomit-coughs, and my eyes were watering so bad and eventually I FELL TO MY KNEES and screamed, “STOP MAKING THAT NOISE, CHOOCH, PLEASE!!!” because his hoarking was contagious. This went on for a solid five-minutes, passing puke-scares back and forth and Henry calmly muttered, “You two are fucking idiots” while the cats were like, “DO YA’LL HAVE HAIRBALLS TOO?!”

My abs were actually sore the next day from my fake bulimia bout.

Anyway, that’s just a little glimpse of what it’s like to be in this hell house.

Oct 102018
 

For reasons that I will get to in a separate post, we once again found ourselves roaming around NYC last Sunday, the day after the BTS concert. Why is it that every time we find ourselves in NYC, it’s completely spontaneous and unplanned?! I don’t know, but it’s kind of fun and I can’t say that I hate it.

We were in Queens when our original plans shit the bed, so we shrugged and moved on. I mean, at least it happened in a city that has a billion things to do! And I know it’s kind of dumb, maybe not something you would choose to do above all else while in NYC, but there is this ice cream place that I’ve been following on Instagram for a while and it’s on my bucket list. (And yes, my bucket list is like 75% ice cream joints.) So that became our jumping-off point. I mean, at least we had something to start with!

This place also happens to be near Chinatown, so we decided that we would go there first and get lunch.

And then something miraculous happened: we walked around for about 20 minutes while I coveted, and I do mean biblically so, all of the exotic fruit being sold on the street. CHERIMOYA! LYCHEE! RAMBUTAN! SAPOTE! GOLDEN DRAGONFRUIT!

Oh, Chinatown, you fucking snake, you.

Of course Henry was all, “WE ARE NOT BUYING FRUIT. I AM NOT GOING TO CARRY FRUIT AROUND WITH ME ALL DAY. NO, KEEP WALKING. I’M NOT BUYING IT.”

Something amazing happened to us in Chinatown, you guys. We found a place to eat that we all agreed on, before any domestic violence broke out, and in record time. It was almost surreal. This almost never happens. We usually walk until our feet are praying to be lopped off by the Nighttime Sickle-Wielding Ghoul.

Are we finally learning how to coexist with each other in public as a family?!

No, it was probably just a fluke.

It also helps that Henry isn’t one of those manly MUST EAT MEAT bastards. He’s super compliant with Chooch’s and my vegetarian needs and is usually the one who finds good veg places for us to dine. In fact, he’s the one who spotted Buddha Bodai Kosher Vegan from across the street (probably also because my eyes are bad). It was crowded when we walked in, but I was determined to suck it up, butter(substitute)cup. So many times I panic at the sight of a crowded restaurant, but when we walked in, I realized that not only was this place vegan like the sign boasted, but it was also DIM SUM. Uh, hell yeah I want that vegan dim sum, bitches, and I will stand here in everyone’s way until a table is cleared for me.

Things were looking up right away though when we got the coveted corner table. Even though Chooch was a dick and wouldn’t let me sit where I wanted because he’s 12 you guys and 12-year-olds are perfect fucking dickheads, in case you don’t have children/have never been around children/wear a child-repelling amulet.

So right away, we started fighting about this and Henry was like ENOUGH. Wow, dad has spoken.

And then our waitress hated us because she thought I asked for meat (I most certainly did not) and she got all defensive and said, “NO! NO MEAT! WE DON’T SERVE MEAT HERE AT ALL ANYMORE!” and I felt like everyone had set down their chopsticks to get a better listen at the dumb tourist who came into the vegan dim sum joint looking for meat.

And then she hated me even more because I had Henry call her back over after I decided I didn’t want the Buddha’s Delight I ordered because I knew it was going to be too much food and I just wanted to fill up on dim sum instead and she was like APPALLED, like no one had ever changed their mind in the history of restaurants existing, ever.

Luckily, the food was amazing and Henry is still talking about it, a week later. I love that he isn’t too burly and gratuitously masculine that he can’t set aside his carnivorous tendencies for an hour to nosh on some finely prepared soy and seitan. I didn’t take pictures, but we got a wonderful assortment of steamed dumplings, some type of bun stuffed with this wonderful sweet faux-meat, spring rolls, something with taro, sweet rice balls….we were fucking stuffed and happy.

Chooch went rogue and got some kind of faux-chicken lo mein and the Chinese family next to us kept complimenting him on his chopstick skills. I was so proud!

And then Henry sent Chooch and me a selca from the restaurant bathroom, which made us lose our minds because HAHAHAHA since when does Henry take bathroom selcas?!

He’s not even smiling, this is killing me all over again!

After lunch, we walked to Milk & Cream Cereal Bar, which I follow on Instagram and drool over daily. I just really love the cereal-as-dessert concept and the novelty  has not worn off on me yet, even though it’s been 10 years (10!!) since my brother Corey and I were launched into sugar shock when we ate at Cereality in Philly and by “ate at” I do mean binged our way into checking off “Gluttony” in Deadly Sin Bingo.

(For those of you too L-Z to click that link, my cereal bowl was called The Devil Made Me Do It and it was comprised of Cocoa Puff, Lucky Charms, malt balls, and chocolate syrup. And then I had to drive for 6 hours back to Pittsburgh.)

So yeah, my love affair with sugary cereal goodness runs deep, so this latest trend of Fruity Pebbles-on-everything is something that really fucking speaks to me like a Leprechaun yodeling in tongues or a Bee Gees record playing in reverse.

Milk & Cream is somewhere in between Chinatown and Little Italy…maybe? That’s what it seemed like. I do not know NYC well at all so when someone asked me on Instagram where this was, I just ignored that part of her question and answered the rest. That’s what you call The Erin Way.

So at Milk & Cream, you pick your base ice cream (vanilla or cookie dough) and any cereal from the laundry list on the wall, which is blended together and splooged out of a soft-serve machine.

I of course chose vanilla and Fruity Pebbles, with a Teddy Graham topping. Chooch went with vanilla and Apple Jacks with a strawberry drizzle. Henry shared mine because I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish it (I think my new diet has shrunk my stomach, and I’m not complaining) but then later on, Henry whined about how he wanted to get his own because he was eyeing up the Cap’n Crunch option which I didn’t notice because my eyes hone into Fruity Pebbles first, always, and now I’m pissed that Henry didn’t speak up and be his own person because I would have liked to try his Cap’n Crunch creation too! Cap’n Crunch is my second favorite cereal, ugh, you fucked up Henry!!

Just look at those specks of Fruity Pebbly goodness! And the ice cream itself was thick and rich, way more dense than I expected after watching it splooge through the soft-serve machine. Suffice to say, I couldn’t finish it and Henry obediently finished off the sloppy seconds. I don’t think I save any Teddy Grahams for him, lol.

While I would highly recommend this place to anyone who loves the ice cream and cereal crossover special, it fucking killed my stomach and gave me a sugar headache, so I spent the rest of the afternoon feeling like absolute trash. I think I should have waited longer after eating lunch!

God, I even fail at eating ice cream. This is where I am in life, you guys. Sigh.

(And of course they have their Halloween specials available now so I want to go back and feast on some dumb Boo Berry brain freeze. How quickly the stomach forgets!)

Sep 042018
 

As I was sitting here wondering if I had anything worth recapping from the long weekend (aside from my glorious night alone where I was strong and rejected all urges to seek company because I really needed that time to decompress, turns out), I realized that all of my highlights pretty much revolve around food, and isn’t that everyone’s life, really?

So here’s a run-down of the foodstuffs that went into my mouth this past weekend.

Saturday morning started off with me being bitchy and it turns out it was because I was in need of second breakfast, specifically Asian bread which I had been craving. If you’ve ever had mochi bread, you know that chewy glutinous-goodness I speak of. We ate a wide variety of these kinds of breads (AND MILK BREAD, MY FAVORITE) for breakfast every morning in Korea and whenever I hear people reject Asian bread for being “weird,” I give them a long side-eye.

We stocked the fuck up at Sumi’s and Pink Box, plus Henry got a coveted Korean donut filled with thick, luscious red bean which is underrated here in the States as far as sweet fillings go.

Hot bread coming through is a fucking understatement for real though. I was so bitchy until I stuffed that green tea roll into my mouth. My only regret is that we didn’t buy more!!!

After that, we made our rounds to various ethnic markets and I really just how #blessed Pittsburgh really is to have such diverse grocery and food options. Sometimes I take this city for granted, and complain that we don’t have an H-Mart, but we really do have a ton of specialty markets! Just in my own little neighborhood, I can walk to a European market in one direction, or hit up both a Mediterranean and Mexican market to the right.

I tried to get Henry to take the plunge and buy the super-sized gochujang because the night before, he gave me my dinner and I was like THERE IS NO GOCHUJANG ON THIS THO? and he said IT WAS BECAUSE WE RAN OUT. That was like the first time in 2 years!? Anyway, he wouldn’t commit to the large container, and I know you’re shocked to hear that Henry wouldn’t commit to something.

Oh and don’t worry, I bought lots of candy for the work pumpkin!

Sunday night, we went to Apteka for dinner. I went there once last spring with Alisha when she was visiting because she is the only vegan/vegetarian friend I have and no one else wants to go to these joints with me and yes I know my SON is a vegetarian but he is the pickiest eater and anything with even a sprinkle of spice that’s not pepper will make him recoil.

But still, Henry and Chooch agreed to go with me because I have been dreaming of this place and its Polish twist on vegan cuisine ever since and Henry was like, “I AM GOING TO HATE EVERYONE IN THERE AREN’T I?” and I was like, “Wha—? Uh, no…..” but then as soon as we pulled up to it, there was a group of khaki-colored vegans hanging out in a pretentious huddle out front and Henry just glared at me.

Look, I have been a veg since 1996 (WANNA READ MY ORIGIN STORY!??!?!) and I still don’t “fit in” with this crowd to the point where I usually avoid vegan establishments all together because I feel like everyone is laughing at me behind their Zooey Deschanel bangs. Except apparently I have been avoiding it to the point where the trend has jumped from Zooey back to Chloe Sevigny because there was an entire table of girls near us who were dressed like her Big Love character and at first I was like, “OH LOOK WHO’S LAUGHING NOW” but then the one broad’s burlap pantsuit looked pretty comfortable in that “down home on the farm” kind of way and I found myself appreciating her sloppy Amish bun and oh my god, did the vegans contaminate me?!

I think the music was starting to make Henry lose his appetite but then his plate of vegan pierogi was placed down in front of him and he was like “Yeah boi.”

I made him pull his fork back so I could fit in better by taking a picture of his food.

Chooch got whatever the “special sandwich” was, something made from vegetable pate, and it promptly fell apart before I could take a picture of it to complete the Instafood trifecta because Chooch gets his eating skills from his mommy. He didn’t like the sauce on his sandwich so Henry had to scrape it off him. (I thought the sauce was lovely.) Chooch also suddenly had a “headache” which is his new excuse for why he’s acting like a little bitch in public. His attitude nearly ruined my meal.

Just kidding, because I GOT THE VEGAN SCHNITZEL AND IT WAS PERFECTION IN FAUX-FORM. Nothing could’ve ruined this except for if maybe someone had bled on it or something.

Then we got both desserts to share because we’re fat Americans.

A lot of times when I have vegan food I am so fucking hungry immediately after but this time I was properly stuffed and almost threw up later that night when we had a vigorous round of Family Kpop Cardio Night.

The next day was LABOR DAY and I had to work from 6am-noon because I’m a sucker and signed up for it but at least I got to work from home and I knew we were going to T-Swirl Crepes afterward so that kept me alive. I got the matcha adzuki crepe which doubled as my lunch and it was pretty much the crepe of my dreams.

Chooch actually almost cried because he didn’t know that the one he ordered didn’t come with ice cream but then he ended up loving it anyway and the moral of that story was that ice cream isn’t always necessary LOL j/k it really is. But Chooch’s was still really good without it. It was some apple caramel concoction and Henry had the Lychee Romantic but he just said, “I’ll have the lychee one” when he ordered it and I was pissed because I wanted to hear him say “lychee romantic.”

Well, that’s my pointless food roundup. Ciao for now.

Apr 272018
 

Isn’t it crazy when you can not see someone for years and years yet somehow fall right back into a comfortable groove when you do? That’s how it is with my friend Alisha, who I saw for the first time last summer since 2010, and again last Friday when she was in town visiting from Arkansas.

I was so glad that she carved out some time for me on this latest visit, especially when I texted her a picture of a Julian Baker concert flyer and her immediate response was, “YES LET’S GO TO THAT” and within minutes she bought tickets. I forgot what it felt like to have a friend who wants to go to shows!

But first, food. Alisha picked me up from work and we skipped all the frou-frou salutations and went right into our routine of her being annoyed and exasperated and me being totally giddy – ugh, I missed our dysfunctionally perfect yin and yang!

Alisha’s British-voiced GPS led us to Apteka, an Eastern Europe-Yinzer-Vegan joint across from the Allegheny Cemetery that my friend Sarah recommended to me over a year ago and I never made it there because kimchi or GTFO. However, Alisha is vegan so I thought this would be a grand time to check it out and I was happy that it wasn’t crowded yet and the staff wasn’t off-putting as they sometimes can be in a niche vegan eatery, leaving me feeling not inked-up enough and half-assed in my veg-ways. (Which brings us back to kimchi, which I know is made with anchovy paste but I still eat it because I never signed a contract, OK? Korea has changed me!)

Apteka is cafe-style which is kind of annoying when you walk into a place for the first time and they’re like BAM HERE IS THE MENU STAND HERE AT THE COUNTER AND I WILL STARE AT YOU WHILE YOU TRY TO FIGURE OUT OUR WEIRDO MENU GOOD LUCK WITH THE POLISH.

Alisha had a million questions and the Apteka girl very patiently answered her. She asked what the waitress recommended and she blew through the menu so fast I felt like I just been lead through a polka.

Alisha ordered the thing I was going to get so then I had to stand there and stammer, and of course I was unable to pronounce anything on the menu (is it nuts that I was trying to imagine what it would look like in Hangeul to help me sound it out?!) so I just pointed and said, “Lima bean.”

Because the thing I got had a lima bean purée and it was shockingly not phrased more dumb or pretentious than that because you know how nauseating menu descriptions can be in these types of places.  Let me see if I can find a menu…

Kluski Slaskie

baby lima bean + winter bitter leaves + potato dumplings + fried buckwheat + marjoram (GF)

I didn’t even notice that my meal had marjoram on it and I guess it doesn’t matter because I didn’t even notice it while I was eating it to even wonder what even is it. That was a weird sentence.

(GUYS, I LOOKED IT UP. IT’S MINT.)

Alisha also ordered a pot of some kind of tea for us to share. It tasted like ground. Maybe it would have been better with sugar but do vegans eat sugar? I didn’t see any.

Alisha also ordered the Kanapki which was three pieces of small toast, each with a different spread on it. One was for sure carrot and that was the only one I liked.

Guys, that’s my plate at the bottom there and it was so fucking good – those potato dumpling dickheads were so fucking divine and I wanted so much more, and the fried buckwheat was WHAT THE HELL WHY HASN’T HENRY BEEN CRACKLIN’ BUCKWHEAT FOR ME ALL THIS TIME levels of tasty. And that lima bean puree? I didn’t have time to grab my bathing suit before diving into that bitchin’ legume lagoon.

That’s Alisha’s crap at the top.

Somehow, my dinner was considered a “large plate” and hers was “small” and cheaper yet seemed so much bigger and she was still working on it a good twenty minutes after I had licked the last lima smear from my plate.

To cap off our meal, I ordered dessert for us to split, and again, I could have eaten 5 plates of these.

My Apteka verdict is that the food was bomb and inventive, and even had a level of comfort to it that vegan joints sometimes lack. But, for the price I paid and the amount of food I ate, I was a little unsatisfied. I was ready for second dinner less than an hour later. Even still, I’ll probably go back again because I liked the atmosphere, the staff was great, and I want to try the other things on the menu — I’ll just be prepared to eat my arm later on.

Afterward, we went to the Carnegie Library lecture hall to see one of my favorite female vocalists, Julien Baker. Ugh, I have been dying to see her live for years now but something always comes up when she’s here. I thought I was going to end up going to see her alone because I don’t know anyone else who likes her and Henry was a hard nope, but it ended up coinciding perfectly with Alisha’s visit. She was my concert buddy when she lived in Pittsburgh back in the day and I was so excited to have another good music night with her!

Alisha was all frenzied because she wasn’t sure if we were allowed to park in the lot she chose, and then she was mad because we walked some totally long-ass way to get to the lecture hall when we could have taken a much shorter route, but I was selfishly happy about this because I needed the steps since it was week one of the Law Firm Walking Challenge (OH, I HAVE AN UPDATE ABOUT THIS TOO, CHECK BACK LATER) and I was kicking myself for planning an evening of DINNER and a SEATED CONCERT. Alisha was miserable because she had a bad cold and here I was, walking her around Oakland on a super chilly April night.

When we arrived, she was immediately annoyed because the young girls checking tickets at the door were all googly-eyed over my knack for accessorizing and then we stood in the bathroom waiting for the two occupied stalls to open up and then the bathroom door slowly started to open on its own and we were like WTF SCOOBY, GHOSTS!? but here it turned out Alisha had leaned on the handicap door opening button.

And then a few minutes later, we realized that only one of the stalls had been occupied that whole time, so that was cool.

“I should have known it was going to be a night full of stupid things,” Alisha sighed, insinuating that my presence draws this stuff out!?

Whatever!

Anyway, we found some good seats nice and close (BUT NOT TOO CLOSE) in the first row off the floor. Alisha was whining about why it hadn’t started yet and I was like, “Because it’s only 7. We have another hour.”

LOL Alisha thought it started at 7 that whole time and was so angry that now we had to sit in this growing-more-stifling-by-the-minute room. She amused herself by spying on a man who apparently looked at me twice after I said “bless you” to Alisha so she was convinced he was obsessed with me but clearly I think she was obsessed with him! He kept pretending like he was waiting for someone but then no one ever came…

Then people attempted to speak to Alisha and I thought she was going to will herself to incinerate into a pile of Arkansas ash.

“Why does this always happen? I was doing so good all these years and then I’m with you for like a minute…”

“And the awkward social situations come back?” I laughed, and she emphatically agreed.

It really was an interesting mesh of people there that night though. Lots of punk rock college lesbians, little girls, and old guys.

And us.

Tancred was the opener and I really don’t have much to say about them because I have tried so hard over the years to like them, especially when I got more into that Bledfest-type of scene, but I just can’t. The singer is fine but her voice doesn’t evoke a single emotion from me and the lyrics are kind of middle school diary.

But Julien though….

She performed mostly alone until closer to the end of her set, when her friend came out to accompany her on violin. I didn’t take any video and this picture is actually Alisha’s, because I kind of felt paralyzed with regurgitating grief and realized at one point that I was barely breathing.

Julien has this poignant and measured way of singing the most delicate, whispered notes and then, before you have time to prepare yourself, she is lurching her head back and full-blown power-vocals are roaring out of her small frame and sucking up all the oxygen in the room. She will leave you fucking breathless.

So, there’s this thing about me that you should know, and it’s that, as much as I love words, the lyrics of songs usually come secondary for me. It’s the music itself that heals me first and foremost, it’s what gets my heart started, the tears flowing. And then it’s the tone of the voice singing against that music. I have to laugh a little bit because when I was super into the post-hardcore and screamo scene, people would ask me how could I tell what they were saying? And I would say, “I can’t, and it doesn’t matter, because it’s still touching me.” And now, I get the same question because 99.9% of what I listen to is in Korean. And again, it’s the same thing. It doesn’t matter to me what they’re saying, because the music, and the sound of their voices singing in that perfect language, fills my heart with joy that I haven’t felt in such a long time.

But yet, Julien is the rare exception for me. Because I AM listening to her words. And they are slicing through my wrists like a rusty razor. To write the songs she writes…and to sing them with such brittle sincerity and honesty…you have to have a lot of pain in your life. I can’t imagine standing there on a stage in front of so many adoring fans, stripping down to your bare, aching soul, letting us all watch you relive whatever you were going through when these songs came to fruition. She gave us a gift that night, and I will forever cherish it!

This is one of my favorite songs. Careful, she might break your heart.

And then we thought we were going to have to live in the parking lot because one of the parking ticket machines wasn’t working right and traffic was all backed up and we blamed Henry for not driving us.

“You never asked?” he replied to my text. WELL, HE SHOULD HAVE JUST KNOWN TO DO IT!

And don’t you worry – I came home at 11pm and still managed to eke out 20,000 steps.

Sep 102017
 

On Saturday, we had donuts and coffee at some point while in Chicago. I’m not a big donut connoisseur by any stretch, but that might be because Pittsburgh doesn’t really have much to offer in that vein. (Although I still haven’t tried Duck Donuts and that place seems appealing to me.)

(And please don’t say BUT PEACE, LOVE, LITTLE DONUTS because I fucking refuse to support an establishment owned by a homophobic bigot piece of shit. It saddens me how many pieces have seemed to either overlook that or have forgotten. But I never forget!)

I wanted to try Firecakes though because they’re reknown for their donut ice cream sandwiches. Unforch, we stopped here right after eating pizza and I did not have it in me to find room in my stomach next to all that cheese. Ugh. I always have big plans of visiting a city and eating all their trendy food and then end up only eating two meals. 

(Honestly, aside from breakfast in Indiana that morning, the late lunch pizza was only sit-down meal for the day in Chicago.)

If there is anything pistachio on the menu, I will snatch that shit up without a secondary glance. This Sicilian pistachio old-fashioned was a DELIGHT. My donut preference is light and non-messy. Nothing filled. I hate filled donuts! And I’m not big into chocolate-y ones either. I like ones that get most of the flavor from the actual donut dough, and that’s how this one was. Not too sweet, with a gentle, light-handed pistachio nuance. #doucheyYelpreview

I didn’t want to share, but I did because I wanted to try Henry’s which was good but messy and filled. :( It was butterscotch praising, which I almost ordered but now I’m glad I didn’t because that pistachio was everything I wanted in that moment. 

(I just stared dreaming at the photo of it for a couple seconds into the Inappropriate Zone.)

Chooch got a red velvet but I didn’t try his because, I can’t believe I’m going to say this, I think I’m over red velvet. We had a long, good run together though! 

Later that evening, we hit up Goddess and the Baker because it was the only non-Starbucks cafe open at that hour within walking distance. Henry hated  it immediately because he hates coffee and everything about that scene. Chooch was down though because he’s a hot chocolate aficionado. 

I got a pourover and later had major order-remorse when I noticed the specialty drink menu — so many interesting flavored lattes that appealed to me! I’m really into honey, floral, and maple—not all in one latte, but you know…if I wander into a coffee joint that has those options beyond your standard pumpkin spice and caramel, I will happily overlook the pretentious third wave coffee klatch I’m inevitably walking in on. 

(Speaking of, there is a place here in Bloomfield that has an impressive list of housemade floral syrups and maybe I’ll stop there today—YOU DONT KNOW MY SCHEDULE!)

That pourover was delicious though. However, while I was waiting for it, some suspicious guy walked in, came right up to me because why wouldn’t he, and said something like, “Excuse me, miss” and then a bunch of words in a tone entirely too low for me or most normal-eared humans to possibly hear. I panicked because he had a very questionable aura to him so I blurted, “I DONT HAVE ANYTHING IM SORRY” because I assumed that he was asking for money or my pledge to Christ. 

There was a moment of uncertainty where I was braced for a knife in the gut, but then he nodded and walked slowly back out onto the street. 

I kee expecting this sign to say “eat now caffeinate later” and that would just be so fucking wrong. 

Overall, I would go back to both of these places in Chicago (they each have multiple locations, too) and probably would try to save room for a donut ice cream sandwich next time because I have The Regrets. 

Thank you. This has been a coffee and donut intermission.