Jul 092020
 

My original plan for 4th of July was to feast on food from other countries because once again I’m supremely annoyed and disgusted with America so…why celebrate it? I had a whole list of recipes for Henry to prepare but then we went and started a kitchen upheaval project and he was like, “Erin, how would you like me to do this without a functioning kitchen?” Oh, yeah. So, our unAmerican Feast has been postponed, but I’m sure I’ll still be hating my racist, pandemic-enabling country for quite some time so this celebration will be relevant no matter which day it gets moved to, I’m sure.

For years and years and years, we have hated our kitchen. The tile flooring was all cracked and coming up, it was ruined in one corner from when the ceiling was leaking a few years ago, and basically the whole room was just a dumpster fire because we let it get so out of control plus it’s small to begin with and we don’t own the house but we knew if we asked the landlord to make updates, he would raise our rent so we have been living with it. It sucks because our back porch is so nice but then you have to walk through the kitchen to get to it so we would never really open that up during parties because I was so embarrassed of the kitchen.

But then Covid happened and let me tell you something – the upside to quarantine is, well, having all the time in the world to fix shit. I was like, “Look, now is the perfect time to do something, ANYTHING, about this kitchen.” It made sense to buy new storage/counter thingies from IKEA because that’s something that we can always take with us if/when we move, and painting can always transform a room, but I was fixated on that floor. Finally, Henry found a reasonably-priced floor that he can install himself, and calculated that it would cost us less than $150 once it was all said and done.

SOLD.

So, as I said, that is how we ended up spending the long holiday weekend – with the kitchen floor ripped up and the rest of the kitchen spread out among the rest of the first floor. Basically, do not come knocking on our door right now because it is a fucking shit show up in here.

Friday and Saturday sounded like major construction was happening over here, with Henry using Big Shot Tools to rip out the old floor and then all the hammering required to lay down the plywood. I’m sure Blake & Haley were FUCKING THRILLED.

I asked Henry if doing all these measurements is annoying and he said that he enjoys it?! What a hammer-nerd! Also, note the chewed-up pencil. That’s either the work of our Son the Goat, or Henry desperate for sustenance because I wouldn’t let him take any breaks haha.

Anyway, since literally all that happened during the three-day weekend was kitchen stuff, all of the days blended together so I just realized, as I’m sitting here zoning out to Hwasa’s “Maria,” that I don’t think I’ll be able to do a very accurate weekend recap, so I guess we’ll just look at pictures and go from there?

Sometime on Saturday, I went with Henry to Home Depot to get the new flooring (gag, I know, but Lowe’s didn’t have the floor we wanted). I stayed in the car and listened to yacht rock (separate post on that forthcoming – I had a REAL TIME) because, no thanks. Anyway, I thought that since we got the floor that meant he was going to come home and immediately lay it down, but turns out that was false since it is now Thursday and our current floor situation is plywood, which is still an upgrade from what was there before, let me tell you.

After Home Depot, we went to pick up our pints at Sugar Spell, and saw this anti-masker dipshit on the way, although he is also holding an upside down flag, so I’m not sure what side exactly he’s on, unless he doesn’t know that it’s upside down? I mean, he doesn’t seem very bright. I actually made Henry drive past him twice so I could get a picture. Henry was thrilled to obliged, as usual.

Here are the pints we got! I didn’t know that Texas Sheet Cake was a thing, but oh mama, I know now. It was my favorite for a second, but as always, it’s so hard to choose a favorite out of their flavors! Each one of these has its own merits and how can I choose?! I will say though that the Strawberry Pretzel Salad was the first to be polished off.

Banana Graham!

Our big 4th of July dinner was…pizza. It was OK! I was irritated that Henry stopped working in order to eat, but whatever.

That night it was a firecracker battle in my neighborhood, and pretty much all neighborhoods from the sounds of it. There were some really classy ones being shot off somewhere behind the church across the street from us, so Chooch ran around looking for the source, and a good viewing spot. It actually ended up being one of the best fireworks experiences of my life, because of the excitement of it not being city-approved and us running all around in the dark looking for the best ones. I’m admittedly not too big of a fireworks person – I get bored pretty easily and I mean, they’re all pretty much the same, aren’t they? And I always hated trying to find somewhere to go that wasn’t going to be overwhelmingly crowded (I went downtown twice ever and will never fucking do it again, no thanks, I hate people way too much).

I always liked when my mom bought all the illegal ones back in the day and we’d go hard with them in her backyard because we lived on a private, dead-end street surrounded by woods so who cares?

We had to walk past this creepy church door on the way back and in the picture Chooch took, IT LOOKS LIKE THERE IS A GHOST ON THE STEPS INSIDE. But I’m too lazy to ask him for his picture to post here.

Sunday was another hot one. I think we were in the 90s pretty much all weekend, and into the week.

Porch hangouts were limited while the sun was up.

While Henry was toiling away in the kitchen, Chooch and I thought we would be nice and walk to Muddy Cup to get him (and us, obv., no altruism here) some refreshing cold brew.

Our favorite barista was working! It was nice to see a familiar face during this endless streak of months where we’ve really not been seeing anyone but the neighbors.

Meanwhile, Henry was at home, painting.

By the end of Sunday, we were left with a plywood floor, two painted walls, one partially-assembled counter-thingie, and the inability to eat a meal that requires any sort of cooking/preparation.

Henry explained to Chooch that he was going to have to put in some additional outlets, and Chooch cried, “You can do that??”

“I can do anything,” Henry muttered, and then under his breath, he added, “except plumbing.”

Wow, we got a real Bob Vila here! Get this guy his own show.

But seriously, it really is amazing how Henry knows how to do all this stuff! He ripped up the floor and then replaced it with plywood underlayment or something, but it looks like a pro did it! We have the new flooring ready to go but we have to finish painting first and also Henry wanted to build the new IKEA pieces while the plywood is on the floor so that he doesn’t damage the new floor. We are about 60% done, I guess? But it took literally ALL WEEKEND with Henry hardly taking any breaks plus with it being in the 90s, I had to keep checking on him to make sure he hadn’t passed out. See? I care.

So, overall, it wasn’t your traditional “Independence Day” weekend, but it sure felt good to get shit done (or in my case, watch shit get done). I will continue to post updates as we go, but it is a frustratingly slow process because of like, day jobs and whatever. So while he’s toiling away at the Big Stuff, I’m biding my time by looking for accoutrements that fit the theme of the 80s Dream Kitchen. So far, I’ve purchased an Arcade game-themed rug, fabric to make a curtain for the porch door which is so amazing I can’t even describe it so you’ll just have to wait to see it, and I designed a neon light that I have HIGH HOPES for as long as I don’t have to, I dunno, take out a loan for it.

I hate COVID, but I’m glad to have this time to really focus my attention on things around the house because unless the landlord decides to give us the boot for some reason, we’ve got at least another 4 years here while Chooch is in high school because if I move, I’m buying a house and it’s not going to be in the city! So, we might as well put the effort into making small and reasonable (ie. cheap, lol) improvements.

Anyway, I hope everyone had a great weekend and if you have a pool, I hate you I’m totally jealous!

Jun 222020
 

Any other year, I would have pretended like Henry really wanted to ride roller coasters on Father’s Day and then planned some insane weekend road trip that exhausts everyone involved except for me, but you know, things are cray in 2020 so we had to celebrate our amusement park chaperone with caution.

I suggested that we drive an hour away to Greensburg and grab some takeout from Jioio’s Pizza, which, if you’ve had this pizza, you probably know is totally legendary in Western Pennsylvania.

Henry was fine with that, so that is how we spent Father’s Day! It almost felt like we on a roadtrip, you guys! Being in the car for an hour! Stopping at Sheetz! (Except that only Henry went in, and yes, he wore a mask.)

Jioio’s is still takeout only which is fine because we’re still not ready to eat inside restaurants anyway, so we drove to a local park after Henry procured the piping hot pie…

…Henry got a steak hoagie for himself, though, because “it’s Father’s Day and I’ll do what I want” OK, wow, treat yo’self, Papa H!

YOU GUYS. DEM FUCKING BLACK OLIVES. I am a fucking slut for black olives on pizza, you have no idea unless you know me in real life, then you know. There is this one pizza place downtown which is kind of like Subway in that you choose the base of your pizza and then go down the line of toppings, telling the pizza-artist what you want on it because they shove it in the oven, and I am also like, “pass, pass, pass” all the way down the selection of toppings until we get to the black olives and then I’m like, “More. More. More. DON’T BE CHEAP, KEEP ‘EM COMING. JUST COVER THE WHOLE THING WITH OLIVES. NO, I DON’T WANT TO SEE ANYTHING UNDERNEATH IT, I WANT THE ENTIRE PIZZA BLACK.” No one will go there with me anymore.

Anyway, I never heard of Jioio’s before until one of my former co-workers who I miss every day mentioned it because Greensburg is her hometown, so I was like, “Let me try this pizza then” and to my surprise, as a self-proclaimed hard-to-please pizza princess, I understood immediately why this pizza is so hyped. I have never had crust that tastes like Jioio’s before: it’s slightly sweet, with a flaky pastry-like texture, almost like a legit pie crust. And it doesn’t make me feel like shit after I scarf down three pieces in succession.

(OK, that’s not true, but literally anything that’s not a whole food will make me bloated and uncomfortable because I’m such a chronically clean-eater, but this pizza didn’t make me feel like I was attacked internally by Jack the Ripper like most pizza does.)

It’s been way too long since we had Jioio’s! Maybe like 7 years? And fun fact, I can pronounce most any Korean word you put in front of me, but fuck if I can say “Jioio’s.” It comes out like “joyoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoeeeeo” every time and Henry gets so annoyed, yet he always knows exactly what I’m talking about.

I made them do this adorable pose after which Chooch mumbled, “It seems like we’re doing all the things you want to do today” and then he got up and bowed down, calling me Queen Erin, lol.

(See also: Chooch’s Corona Combover; yikes.)

But it was such a nice little pizza picnic in a foreign, sparsely populated park! Sometimes I feel like we’re a solid family, and that was one of those days (until later that afternoon when Henry kept ignoring me and my feelings got hurted.)

I brought the good camera but it was 90 degrees and I didn’t feel like fucking with it so I used my phone to take some Father/Son photos, for which they were oh-so-happy to pose.

I made them walk around the park for a bit so I could digest (I’m big on post-meal digestive walks) and thank god otherwise Henry wouldn’t have had the opportunity to pose in front of this SERVICEMOBILE!

“I WASN’T IN THE ARMY, I WAS IN THE AIR FORCE” is what he was saying when I took this picture, and Chooch was like, “Same thing” which made steam come out of Henry’s ears.

Also, I asked him to jump for his photo and he absolutely refused.

After playing on this really strange playground that had some kind of strange spinny cup which almost made me puke and inspired Chooch to spend the rest of the day Googling commercial playground equipment, I made them sit on these logs and Henry was mumbling about ticks and snakes. Like, just sit on the fucking logs so we can go home, OK?

This is pretty typical – Henry is always trying to point things out which usually results in one of us mocking him or saying, “YEAH I KNOW THAT” or “NO ONE CARES” so I’m not sure why he still tries. Also, this looks totally posed but it wasn’t. I think he was actually trying to point out where the golf ball he had previously thrown at Chooch had landed.

I might frame this one because it’s the perfect portrayal of their relationship.

Overall, it was a nice Father’s Day afternoon, way nicer than Mother’s Day, probably because I planned it as opposed to those two planning fuck-all for Mother’s Day. I mean, I’m not bitter. It’s not like we go through this every year like groundhog day!

*cries*

Never mind, I just reminded myself that I got to devour Jioio’s Pizza so fast that it burnt my mouth and I gave no fucks, and isn’t that what life is all about? No? That’s not in the Bible, or something?

Jun 062020
 

  1. Even though he is a Faygo slinger, he only drinks unsweetened ice tea. (And lately, he has gotten into cold brew but then he dumps half of a thing of creamer in it, so….)
    1. OMG he just took a big swig of tea and said, “Sheetz got their sweet tea back!” I guess it was gone during quarantine but now that our county went back down to green, it’s back. Good to know?
  2. He went through a country phase before he knew me, gross.
  3. He loves kitchen-y stuff so much that he once made me host a Pampered Chef party and it was one of the worst evenings of my life.
  4. He always looks angry in pictures but he is actually a pretty laid-back guy.
  5. Shit, I was going to say what his favorite color is but I can’t remember now. Chooch and I always joke that it’s “poop” or “puke” colors and one day he snapped and screamed at us what his actual favorite color is but all I remember is that it’s one of the ROY G. BIVs. I’ll ask him later, I guess. (He just said, “I don’t have one. I don’t know. Black. Or red or blue. Uh, probably red.” See, I thought it was orange, glad I waited.)
  6. He used to be a paper boy when he was a kid. 
  7. He bought a pair of cowboy boots when he was in THE SERVICE and only wore them once because they hurt his feet.
  8. He was in THE SERVICE.
  9. He loves to white knight.
  10. He hasn’t read a book since the early 2000s when I got him into Harlan Coben; now all he reads is Reddit, Korean subtitles, and the weekly circulars. And I guess recipes count.
  11. He will listen to audio books though, but he says it’s just because it’s a way to spend time with me, AWWWWW.
  12. He’s part Syrian (not Siberian, like Chooch thought, or Serbian like I just almost typed.)
  13. His ult Kpop biases are Cha Eun Woo of Astro and Bae Suzy, formerly of Miss A (she’s an actor now).

ASTRO's Cha Eun Woo Posts Handwritten Letter Of Apology About ...Suzy Bae (Bae Su Ji) (Dengan gambar) | Aktris, Gadis cantik

14. He can fall asleep anywhere, such as Warped Tour or leaning against the wall of Mr. Small’s during a post-hardcore show.
15. He LOVES soft pretzels. OMG 10 minutes after I typed this, he came through the door looking like this:


16. Even though he refuses to eat tofu, he is really great at cooking with it.
17. He used to be an electrician’s apprentice so he knows how to do light-things, which is handy.
18. All of his clothes are black, gray, ugly. Usually they have beverage logos on them too.
19. He insists on trying to fix everything himself even though the last time I check, he’s not a plumber or car mechanic and doesn’t hang drywall for a living, but OK, fix on, Mr. Fix-It.
20. As an avid meat-eater, he actually really enjoys vegan food. He just doesn’t like the stereotypical vegan clientele.
21. He’s never been in jail.
22. He LOVES “The Princess Bride” and “The Princess Diaries.” I am not joking about the second one.
23. He hates when we make up new names for the cats and refuses to call them by their new names.
24. His entire family calls him Joey (his middle name is Joseph).
25. He hates Trump.
26. He refuses to exercise with me because, and I quote, I WALK AROUND A WAREHOUSE ALL DAY LONG, THAT IS ENOUGH EXERCISE.
27. He is great at giving directions, but when it comes to using maps himself, he will undoubtedly fuck it up at least once.
28. He can name any plane model that flies above us.
29. He was a big Days of Our Lives fanboy back in the day and he hard-stanned John Black.
30. He is our private chauffeur and by that I mean when we find an amusement park halfway across the country, he will drive us there (but not without complaint, which is annoying).
31. When Uber and Lyft were still semi-new, he had a brief stint as a Lyft driver but the picture the Lyft manager guy took of him for his profile was so menacing-looking, that women were canceling left and right.
32. He’ll go along with just about anything I want to do even though he acts super put-out about it.
33. His favorite thing to do is sleep.
34. His favorite subject in school was “I don’t know.”
35. He used to play volleyball lol.
36. His favorite cartoon as a kid was Looney Tunes.
37. As he’s outside planting shrubbery and other plants, which is how I learned he also is an expert at landscaping.
38. His favorite thing to do at an amusement park is sit on a bench while we ride a roller coaster.
39. His favorite TV shows are NCIS and Blacklist.
40. He went through a phase where he had long hair and wore bandannas and people assumed it was because he was balding BUT NO, HE JUST LOVED DRESSING UP HIS HEAD.
41. He is a huge procrastinator which makes me have to be a nag.
42. He loves to hide sit on the chair on the back porch and watch HBO.
43. He loves when shit happens outside of our house and he gets to call 911 like a hero.
44. He talks to the cats, but uses his regular voice and refuses to acknowledge that they’re people.
45. He used to smoke trees?!!?
46. His favorite K-drama is a tie between Are You Human Too? and When the Camelia Blooms.

47. He got kicked out of a strip club in Texas when he was in the SERVICE for throwing fifty cents at a stripper.
48. If cole slaw is on the menu, consider it in his mouth.
49. His favorite Korean food is donkkaseu.
50. He used to drive a school bus for three weeks when he was 24 or 25 and quit because he allegedly got another job but it was more likely because the kids were bullying him.
51. I asked him the name of his first girlfriend and he literally couldn’t answer me, he looked like he was thinking himself to death, so I think the answer is that his ex-wife was also his first girlfriend.
52. When I used LiveJournal, the name I used for him was Hoover because he sucks the fun out of everything and before that it was Emily Pringle, because one time he thought I called him Emily and he looks like the guy on the Pringles can.
53. He used to be obsessed with a DIY show called She’s Crafty.
54. He goes to “the store” every single fucking day because it’s his refuge, his sanctuary, his “safe place.” And also because he ALWAYS FORGETS TO GET AT LEAST ONE THING THAT WE PUT ON THE SHOPPING LIST! But honestly, I always picture him in a total zone, pushing the cart down the aisle to the popular soft rock tunes wafting down from the rafters, with a faraway look in his eyes thinking of the life he could have had.
55. When he was in 10th or 11th grade, he got in trouble for punching a hole in the ceiling. I hoped that it was because he was the losing part of a love triangle or was ‘roid-raging after one of those volleyball games, but no. It was just because part of the ceiling was already falling down and he reached up and punched more of it down and got caught by the janitor. Wow. Cool story, Hank-bro. (OH WAIT SHIT, HE JUST TOLD ME, “Oh, and I did get paddled for that too, just so you know. And I had to pay for it.” His grandma was more mad that he got paddled than they fact that he DESTROYED SCHOOL PROPERTY AND HAD TO PAY FOR IT.  Wow, how have I never known this story!?!? He said he doesn’t think his mom knows about it!)

On that note, Happy birthday to our favorite frowner! Thanks for being the best non-husband/housewife/caregiver/project-doer/obsession-enabler. I’ll try to be less demanding today! Go drink some unsweetened ice tea under a tree and dream about your SERVICE days! Just come home in time to make dinner.

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.

May 112020
 

Here I am with an obligatory Mother’s Day recap. It was an OK day! Henry and Chooch got me a beautiful life-size cut-out of Taemin, which arrived several days earlier and you would think that would have been enough for me but I’m just never satisfied (WHEN DOVES CRY, ETC ETC) and I always get a little (lol) dramatic on this day, Valentine’s Day, and my birthday but that’s fine. I fled to the cemetery where I spent some quiet time in the sunshine and even read a book (“Braised Pork” by An Yu) while sitting on the wall of a mausoleum like a true goth from the 90s.

It’s a struggle.

While I was there, these doofs sent me this picture:

…and then I was like, “OK FINE I WON’T RUN AWAY TO KOREA…THIS TIME.” But I’m not lying, it was all I could think about while I walked aimless laps around good ol’ Uniondale Cemetery which never has any living people in it until there is a pandemic and now I’m never alone there anymore which is wildly annoying.

We ordered vegan foodstuffs from Mandy’s Pizza later that day and we all ate in blissful harmony. You can’t even tell it’s vegan!

Then I learned about the existence of Alison Roman thanks to Twitter and I wish I could go back to the days when I didn’t know who she is because, yuck.

Sorry, I just can’t get enough of this pretty boy. However, he’s scared us multiple times since joining our household. I keep catching him in my periphery while I’m working and he gives me a little start every time!

Chooch drew this on the back of the card he made me, lol. But now I’m sad because I promise you, if things had played out differently, my ass would have for sure have been stuffed into multiple rollercoaster seats over the weekend.

I mean, at the very least, we probably would have walked to Scoops for an ice cream cone.

Maybe someday.

In other mom news, MY mom dyed her hair pastel blue which is pretty bad-ass.

OK, back to watching videos of some guy walking through various Seoul subway stations. I have very specific YouTube-viewing habits.

Apr 262020
 

 

Even though we weren’t able to do anything outrageous for Chooch’s birthday yesterday, I’m sure it will still be memorable for him simply because of pandemic times. But you know, it really wasn’t too bad of a day. For one thing, the weather forecast called for all-day rain for Saturday, but it ended up being a BEAUTIFUL spring day!

We went to Jefferson Memorial for a quick “14th Birthday” photoshoot, but there were actually quite a lot of people there so we had to be quick in order to get the hell out of there.

In all of the years I’ve been taking pictures at this pond area, I have never had to contend with lollygaggers, but it was the place to be on Saturday.

This worked to Chooch’s advantage though because he was trying to get this over with as quickly as possible. Also, Henry didn’t bring any of my other camera lenses, so I ended up just using my phone. Thanks, Henry. Wouldn’t be a photoshoot without a heated argument!

Chooch won me that stuffed character in Seoul, and his mask is also Korean. #represent

The balloon was just from Giant Eagle, though.

One of my friends made a comment on Instagram about how they can’t believe it’s been 14 years already (it’s funny how many of my LiveJournal friends especially say this because they virtually went through my entire pregnancy with me!) and I was like, “Oh I know, it’s so weird how he keeps aging and I’m just over here still being 26.”

And another of my old LJ friends, Jeri, made a similar comment which brought back this strong wave of memories from when I found out that I was pregnant and had a three-way call with her and our other friend Kelly and Jeri was like, “This is very exciting but you should wait until you’re at least out of your first trimester before publicly announcing anything” and I was lie, “That is very sage advice, thank you Jeri” and meanwhile, the very next day, I was like, “DEAR LIVEJOURNAL, YOU WILL NEVER BELIEVE IT….”

Man, LiveJournal was so major in my life. I might not use it anymore, but I have some really solid friendships that have survived time and distance and I will forever be grateful for LiveJournal for that. Even to this day, if I mention a name that Chooch isn’t familiar with “irl,” he’ll go, “LiveJournal?” and I’ll just nod.

I think we’ve done a fairly decent job getting him to 14! I remember when he was a baby, thinking that I wasn’t doing enough, because I wasn’t signing us up for Mommy & Me classes or whatever, but it ended up OK after all. I eventually learned that everyone has a different parenting style and I think mine is just very…I dunno…relaxed and casual? I mean, sure, he started swearing when he was like, 2, but we always just stressed that he couldn’t talk like that outside of the house, and lo—he’s made it all the way through 8th grade without us ever getting a phone call about him cussing out a gym teacher or whatever. Never even slipped in front of his grandma!

I mean, they’re just words.

Wow, I’m really getting derailed.

What if I wrote a parenting book. LOL.

So, Chooch’s present was supposed to be a weekend at Canada’s Wonderland but, you know, quarantine. Man, if it had me when I was 14, I’d probably have smashed some porcelain figurines and cut myself or something if birthday plans were ruined, but he definitely was gifted the “shrug it off” gene from Henry. He never once pouted or complained yesterday about being stuck at home.

We promised that we’ll go to Canada’s Wonderland later, when it’s safer. And in the meantime, we got him some small gifts, like a set of Apeach dishwashing gloves (he won’t wash dishes without gloves, and Apeach is his favorite Kakao Friends character). He also got Apeach pot holders, a three-recipe vegetarian Hello Fresh box, and a food processor, because all he cares about lately is kitchen stuff.

Then he had a virtual Netflix party with his friends Trevor and Santana, so at least there were options for him to celebrate with friends while still practicing social distancing.

And he baked his own birthday cake! It was strawberry, and while his frosting skills still need honed, it tasted fantastic!

He was so proud!

I gotta say, I don’t hate Chooch’s newfound interest in baking. Thank you, coronavirus….?

And then today was the pick-up day for the vegan pints we pre-ordered from Sugar Spell, so we got to drag his birthday celebrations out for one extra day.

All-in-all, not the worst 14th birthday, I guess! And I didn’t even have any phantom C-section incision pains all day!

Apr 242020
 

Guys, hold the phone – tomorrow is Chooch’s 14th birthday so I’m devoting today’s Friday Five to my five favorite birthday parties that I threw him hahaha because it’s all about me, why bother asking him for his opinion?!

It’s going to be weird not having a party for him tomorrow or taking him to dinner at the very least, but we will make the best of it and for as much as I scream at him for acting spoiled, he’s actually not that bad (considering who his mother is) and he’s pretty content with laying low and having a Netflix Party with some of his friends. 14 is a weird age, anyway.

OK, in no particular order, here are some of the birthday parties he’s had! Click on the links to go to the original blog post for each party, where you can see more pictures and probably multiple paragraphs where I complain about how stressed out I was, make me a martyr already.

  1. Rollerskating Party

This is kind of weird to include this one on the list because it was his first birthday party right after the BLOG CONTROVERSY at his old Catholic school wherein I wrote about some of the bitch-moms and they found it and there was a confrontation and shit got real and then they punished me by not letting their kids go to his party, because yes – I’m the one who suffered there. Some of the kids did still come, but we had a lot of friends who turned this into one of the most funnest parties ever! We rented out the roller rink and even though one of my friend’s son’s fell and broke his wrist, it was quite a nice 6th birthday!

We had become pals with the people who ran the rink at the time (it was since taken over by some not-great people with questionable beliefs so we don’t go there anymore), and they were so generous with their contributions to the party!

2. THE CAT PARTY!!

I was so proud of how this party turned out! We had all kinds of cat-themed food and games and a cat-themed photo booth and so many people came and Lisa’s baby puked on Janna and Bill had a feud with a kid and stole one of his toys and threw it out when he was in the porta-john, and seriously, when I think back on these parties, I love my friends so much, lol.

Bill and Jessi came all the way from Michigan (I mean, this can be said for nearly every one of Chooch’s birthday parties though, they are legit family to us, man) and it was so much fun decorating cat cookies the night before. Party prep is so much more tolerable when you’re drinking with friends!

This party was a great blend of friends, family, and Chooch’s school friends. Let’s be real though, his real friends are my friends, which should be annoying to me but I guess I’m OK with sharing my friends with him. (Most of them like him better than me anyway, lol!)

3. The Disney Shocker

For Chooch’s 10th birthday, we took him on a surprise road trip to Disney World. He thought we were going to visit Henry’s “Uncle Walt” right up until we arrived in the parking lot of Disney, he’s so dense. This one was really hard for us to pull off because we are not rich people and, you know, Disney ain’t cheap, yo. We were even less rich 4 years ago so it was nothing short of a miracle that we managed to scrounge together the funds to make this happen. He was so happy though and this honestly was such a huge win for us as parents. I love giving the gift of EXPERIENCE!!

4. The Zombie Party

cake

I just remember that a bunch of people showed up for this at my mom’s house and we had a little graveyard set up where people could get their photos taken and Bill accidentally scared Chooch too hard and made him cry, which was promptly added to the list of Times Bill Accidentally Made My Kid Cry (surprisingly, many times, but they are still best douche-cups for life!).

billchoochfeast

I’m pretty sure I have a picture of Chooch crying on the actual blog post, so you don’t forget to click those hyperlinks!

charlievictim

My friends are such great sports!

kara

Kara and her son Harland, who I can barely remember ever being that tiny!! He’s so tall now!

I’ll also remember this as the day my friend Christy (Chooch’s godmother) told me she was pregnant with twins!

5. The Surprise Butterfly Party

IMG_0614

For Chooch’s 11th party, I realized that while we had that surprise birthday trip to Disney, we never actually had a surprise PARTY for Chooch. And I used to be the QUEEN of throwing surprise parties! It was like, my thing back in the day, to the point where probably everyone expected one eventually. But look, you have to know this thing about me: I thrive on taking things that people HATE and using those as themes because I’m fucking rotten.

TO THE CORE.

I mean, I have a rotten apple tattooed on my arm for God’s sake.

My child is not exempt from my devious ways.

Anyway, he was surprised and annoyed all at once, and then happy when he looked around and saw the people who were here but tried to play it off by saying he was just happy for getting a balloon, because he resorts to untimely awkwardness just like his dad.

Oh wait, I mean, his mom.

Tomorrow will be low-key, but I will still try to make his 14th memorable. I mean, turning 14 during a pandemic is memorable in and of itself, I guess.

Apr 132020
 

Easter is my second favorite holiday (second only to HALLOWEEN, of course) so I was determined to still make it a memorable one even though we’re stuck at home. Now, we’re not religious people, so not being able to go to church wasn’t an issue, and we never celebrate Easter with extended family, so the inability to have a big family dinner wasn’t making us shed any tears either. 

For this particular Easter, we had planned to be at Efteling Park in the Netherlands, so any back-up plan I came up with was going to pale in comparison. Yet somehow, it ended up being one of the nicest Easters ever!

Chooch kept saying that he didn’t want anything, didn’t care if he didn’t get a basket, but all he REALLY WANTED was for us to hide eggs for him. I really think he’s going to grow up plagued by the Peter Pan syndrome that he undoubtedly inherited from me. I kept saying, “NO WE ARE NOT DOING THAT YOU ARE TOO OLD, GROW UP. THE EASTER BUNNY ISN’T REAL” and I guess he really believed that we weren’t doing anything because he originally woke up at 8:30 and then said, “I’m going back to bed, wake me up at 9:30 I guess.” I was so mad because I woke up early and raced against the clock to hide the fucking eggs for that little bitch-kid. 

When he finally woke up and went into the bathroom, he was met with Doll and an egg, so he knew that it was going to be an alright day, lol.

(He is REALLY BAD at finding eggs though. Or else I’m really good at hiding them. But one was literally inside a book, so it was like wide open.)

We got him a basket too because come on, what kind of shitty parents do you take us for? IT’S EASTER FOR GOD’S SAKE. He didn’t know that he was getting one so it just sat in its hiding spot all morning until I finally couldn’t take it any longer and exclaimed, “OH WOW, WHAT IS THAT.” 

I LOVED getting an Easter basket. I still like white chocolate to this day because it reminds of me the white chocolate lambs and bunnies with the blue or pink candy eyes that my mom would always tuck in there among the jelly beans (which I didn’t like) and the Sarris chocolate eggs, and OF COURSE THE TOYS, HELLO. For most of the Easters during the elementary school years, I got a new My Little Pony. I LOVED My Little Ponies (the new ones are dumb) so I always looked forward to seeing which one I was going to get. 

Knowing me and my warped memory, this probably only happened on one Easter, lol.

I also associate Easter with springtime and baseball (loved baseball as a kid, neutral about it as an adult) and wearing pretty dresses to church and having a casual Easter dinner at my Pappap’s house. 

I try to make sure that we’re always doing something for Easter, whether it’s traveling for a concert (we saw Emarosa in Lancaster, PA one year on Easter and it was a really nice weekend), being in KOREA, inviting friends over for a Pizza Party for Jesus Christ, or just having a family dinner at a Chinese restaurant. This year, I wanted to have the Inkigayo sandwiches again like we did last year, because I think this could be a new tradition for us. 

And you know how I love a fucking tradition.

Chooch the Baker wanted to make a carrot cake for Easter, so that turned into a Battle Royale between him and Henry in the kitchen while I sat out here and read a book and watched YouTube videos about reading books and finding books to request on Libby and exercising. 

I mean, his cake decorating needs practice, but the cake itself was A REAL GODDAMN DELIGHT. And he cut back the confectioners sugar big time in the frosting and it was such a good call, because it was perfect. I don’t like super sweet frosting, especially cream cheese frosting, so Chooch got a big thumbs up from me on this one.

Henry probably would have ruined it.

The weather was  nice on Sunday so we were able to comfortably eat on the back porch and it was a Big Time Spring Mood. I could not have been happier!

Inkigayo sandwiches and kimbap, a Korean Easter picnic! Henry forgot to buy banana uyoo so it wasn’t perfect but I’ll let it slide this time, I guess. 

We’re all big fans of the famous Inkigayo sandwiches here in the Oh Honestly household. I highly recommend them! The convenience stores in South Korea all sell variations of these sandwiches and I happily devoured them when we were there. One of them had a limited edition blueberry edition! IT WAS THE BEST ONE!

We were probably making fun of Henry’s mouth-sounds here.

I’ve rambled about this sandwich on here before but a quick summary: There is a weekly music show in Korea called Inkigayo and legend has it that the cafeteria in their studio makes these tri-layered sandwiches and the kpop idols go nuts over them. Of course, regular civilians cannot go to this cafeteria to get an authentic one, but there are numerous variations of the recipe online. 

Yes, that’s strawberry jam in the middle, surrounded by an egg & potato salad (there’s also crab in this layer but Henry omits it for us vegetarians) and a cabbage salad that includes corn and apple. It sounds hideous, but it is SO STUPIDLY DELICIOUS. And filling. I split mine with Henry, and Chooch saved his second half for today’s lunch.

Drank my coffee from my Lotte World mug to keep it extra Korean. 

(I know it’s obvious, but my heart breaks more and more each day I’m not in Korea. Sorry if I’m annoying, but this is who I am.)

The Inkigayo (or EASTERgayo, as I lovingly call it on Easter) is a two-handed affair.

You guys. Chooch’s carrot cake. Fuck yes. The best thing to come out of this quarantine (for my family, anyway) is Chooch’s blossoming interest in Kitchen Times. 

Easter, After Hours.

Really, I think this will go down as one of the best Easters. It was so casual, laid back, lots of laughing (on my part), lots of Kitchen Feuding (on Henry and Chooch’s parts, also the catalyst for my “lots of laughing”), and it made me appreciate even more that although these are scary and strange times, at least I’m going through them with Chooch and Henry and we’re still, somehow, having fun. <3

Feb 152020
 

For a little pre-Valentine’s Day treat, my coworker Joyce added a picture of TOP from BIGBANG to our daily Roll Call email. She always includes a meme or something in every Roll Call but this was unexpected! It’s also pretty hilarious because she’s one our colleagues who work in the Chicago office, but I have still managed to sprinkle her with a bit of kpop powder without even needing to see her everyday!

And then for some reason, another coworker, Marlene, emailed me because she randomly found out that she shares a birthday with ANOTHER BIGBANG member, Taeyang. I will turn our whole department into VIPs* one of these days. 

*(BIGBANG fans.)

I think that selling Valentines has me somewhat desensitized to, well, serial killers, but also the actual concept of Valentine’s Day. Henry and I spend so much time hustling to make sure other people get their cards that we don’t always remember each other. 

Um, I know that I for one totally shit the bed when it came to whipping anything up for Henry. And I assumed he had also dropped the ball, until I got to work yesterday and pulled out a card he had tucked inside my SuperM bag.

I admit, this had major shock-value when I pulled it out of the envelope and saw a close-up of Henry’s mug, but then I noticed the finger-hearts! And then I opened it…

…and saw that he wrote “I love you” in Hangul! “OMG I hate him!” I laugh-yelled, and then showed Carrie, who was like, “*TEARS*” and then I kind of got tear-eyed, too?! I AM BROKEN. 

Apparently, Henry made this the other night while I was sitting in the other room thinking that he was just making actual orders from our shop. I am so oblivious!

We didn’t exchange gifts or anything but Henry was a nice man and went to Sugar Spell Scoops after dinner last night and picked up some scoops to go. I got one scoop of purple sweet potato which was so wonderful that I can’t even think of any good words to describe it other than SMOOTH, MAN, REAL SMOOTH. I am such a huge fan of vegetables-turned-into-dessert, like: carrot cake, carrot pie (!!!!), zucchini pie, etc etc. So when ice cream is made with shit like butternut squash or corn, things like that, I will opt for that over chocolate-y flavors every single time. This scoop was so pleasing and I wish it was on regular rotation!

The second scoop was a strawberry rose with tiny white chocolate chips, and I was worried that it would too tart, too sweet, too floral, but it was the perfect balance of all three, and those little chips really took the flavor to brand new heights. At first, I was like, “I will just eat half of each and save the rest for tomorrow,” but wow look at that, all gone.

Anyway, there was one thing that happened yesterday that took what would have been a fine, but maybe not too memorable, Valentine’s Day and punted it into ONE FOR THE SCRAPBOOKS:

Let me back up.

Living in the city of Pittsburgh means that choosing a high school for your kid can almost be like college-lite. We could do nothing and he would automatically become enrolled in Brashear, which has a seriously bad reputation and even if it may be less bad than it has been, it’s one of those schools that will probably always have a bad connotation to its name. So for Chooch’s entire life, we have been having frantic conversations about how to prepare for this. Should we try to move? We like living in the city, and even moving to a different part of the city might not really solve anything because then he’d just end up in another just-as-bad school. I always had a dream of him going to CAPA, which is our creative and performing arts school. I always felt like he could get into the writing program, but he fought me tooth and nail on it and very early on was like, “Look that is not what I want to do” and I had to get myself into check as I realized that I was sincerely starting to sound like my grandmother. And also I had to admit to myself that I only wanted him to go there because I had wished I had gone there in high school, lol. Oh, being That Mom is a lot of fun.

But I’ll never forget his fifth grade teacher telling us, “Look, your kid? He’s a math whiz. You gotta send him to SciTech. He’s your ticket to a beach house.” 

The beach house part is especially what I remember, haha.

I knew that Chooch had always gotten As in math and science, but I had no idea that he actually enjoyed those classes. Not until that day, in that teacher’s room. And it’s true – he fucking adores math and does it for fun on his own time. So, he applied to SciTech last fall and then we waited. 

I don’t think he cared nearly as much as me, but it was something I would think about everyday. “What happens if he doesn’t get in?” “Will Brashear break him?” Granted, he applied to another school, as well, and either one of those would have been fan-fucking-tastic. 

Henry always gets pictures of our mail emailed to him from the post office because he’s a weirdo, but it was beneficial yesterday when he saw that one of the letters was from the Pgh Public Schools. My pulse quickened. I had that “Waiting to get called into the office” feeling ALL DAY. Henry kept texting Blake to ask him to check for the mail, which usually comes around 9:00am but of course on this day it didn’t get delivered until the afternoon. So Henry texted Chooch and was like, “Go home after school before you go to the teen center and open that letter.” So Chooch did and said he was going to wait for us to get home before he opened it and I was like YOU TELL THAT SON OF A BITCH TO OPEN THAT LETTER RIGHT THIS MINUTE, I CANNOT WAIT 3 MORE HOURS!!! So he opened it.

And it was from SciTech.

He got it.

I burst into tears as soon as Chooch texted me a picture of the letter. A million pounds of inner-city dread was removed from my chest. Apparently, Brashear had more arrests last year than other Pittsburgh school (my resource for that fact is Henry; I don’t feel like Googling to see if it’s true, lol). Look, I know in this day and age, no school is safe. It fucking sucks to even have to think this way. But SciTech will give him a better chance for a good education, and it’s right by the University of Pittsburgh campus and he loves it there—he can walk to the main branch of the Carnegie Library, for Christ’s sake! He has multiple bubble tea options! THE CATHEDRAL OF LEARNING IS ACROSS THE STREET. 

His emotions are mixed right now, and I get it. He’s going to be separated from a lot of his friends after this year, and he was also hoping to get into the other school he applied to, because he knows a lot of kids there through the Gifted Center. But then after he went to the teen center last night, he found out his friend Zack also got into SciTech, so now he’s loosening up a little bit and he’s starting to get excited about it, like he used to be when we would talk about it when it was still so far away to really feel like a possibility. 

Also, he had to write two essays for this application, and I have no idea what they said because he submitted it without showing us. He is too independent sometimes! We have barely had to help him with anything, aside from the occasional project which required the purchase of poster board and other craft shit. But his homework? Never once had to help. Never even have to micromanage him to make sure he’s doing it. I don’t know how we get away with that for this long, but I can only hope it continues through high school because I do NOT want to help with high school shit, lol. 

He told me that one of the things he put in his essay was that he hoped SciTech could help him stay on the right path toward a bright future, where he can have a successful career in order to buy his mom a pension in South Korea. So, basically, there’s that beach house. <3

On that note, here’s a song that’s perfect for 2/14:

https://youtu.be/HnMuCf2XR-M

Jan 232020
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Booths? People working.

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

It was absolutely trash as far as comfort levels went.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brilliant. Yes, let me buy one of those.

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

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

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

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

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

I’m like way good at posing.

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

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

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

(Bae Bae’s is Korean, yo.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Janna Sits Alone.

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

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

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

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

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

Jan 192020
 

Hello potential customers! I am very excited about this brand new, ink-is-still-drying, mini Valentine set I recently designed! They’ve been in the works since last year, but…well…I got lazy and didn’t get them finished in time for last year’s Valentine’s Day and then I lost motivated, but the a few weeks ago, I revisited my Cult Leader folder in Bridge and powered through.

It took lots of coffee and research, because I REALLY wanted to have 16 different designs, instead of just 8×2. Needless to say, I have been having some pretty not-great dreams lately, especially Thursday night after I spent most of the day with Scientology/L. Ron Hubbard videos playing on the TV behind me while reading Aleister Crowley Wiki pages.

LE SHUDDER.

I know, you’re used to seeing serial killers in this shop, but there is a very fine line separating these deviant walks of life!

I included some televangelists here too. Sure, perhaps they weren’t actively plotting mass murders, but they were still knee deep in scandals and scams!

These are designed just like my other Valentine sets – mini cards just like the kinds the kids pass out in school, except are they even allowed to do that anymore? Did some parent somewhere make a frantic phone call to the superintendent regarding the possibility of their precious Stacy Bitchtoast getting a papercut from handling big, bad, dangerous Valentines?

Sigh. School was so much better in the 80s.

Use these to recreate those special moments from back then, when kids didn’t have gluten allergies and it was OK to wear a mask in the Halloween parade. Except now you’re passing them out to your coworkers or whatever. Maybe you live in an apartment and feel like leaving anonymous love in some of your neighbors’ mail slots? Or maybe you just feel like passing them out on a street corner next to the weirdo Jehovah’s Witness doling out doomsday pamphlets.

In this set, you can find fan favorites like:

  • Charles Manson
  • Jim Bakker
  • Jim Jones
  • David Koresh
  • Jimmy Swaggart
  • Tammy Faye Bakker (an icon, really)
  • Marshall Applewhite
  • L. Ron Hubbard
  • David Miscavitch
  • Aleister Crowley
  • David Berg (founder of Children of God)
  • Luc Jouret
  • James Arthur Ray (self-help guru infamous for the sweat lodge deaths)
  • Anne Hamilton-Byrne (leader of Australian cult The Family)
  • Victor Houteff (Pre-Branch Davidian, Shepherd’s Rod, leader)
  • Warren Jeffs (gross President of Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints)

Each one has the person’s name on the back in case your recipients are like, “….who the fuck…?” then they can follow Google down the Wiki Hole!

My 13-year-old son was like, “I hope no one ever searches our computer because the shit you google for your cards is just….wow.” But then he was looking at this set and said, “Wow, these are actually really good quality.” LIKE, HELLO, I KNOW. WHERE HAS HE BEEN ALL THESE YEARS?

So in case you needed any reassuring, please accept my son’s review. I mean, he looked away from his Nintendo Switch for a whole 5 minutes to flip through this set, and that really mean something these days.

I…can’t believe people believe in Scientology. And I’m a preeeeeetttttty gullible broad.

I might have actually peaked as a card designer / dad joke writer with that Koresh one.

I stared at David Berg’s face way too long when I was making the Flirty Fishy card and I think I have PTSD now.

Anyway, thanks for letting me share! (This one lifestyle blog I hate-read always says that and I’m like….but you didn’t ask.)

$8 will get you all 16 cards, so please consider being That Creep who gives out super uncomfortable cards on Valentine’s Day! Click here to purchase, mothercheffers! And don’t forget to check out the rest of the shop while you’re there. I have everything from serial killers to the Golden Girls to the Cure to vintage porn stars….so….something for maybe not “everyone,” but a strange niche of the population, for sure.

Jan 122020
 

What’s up, Diva cups, I’m checking in on this cozy Sunday night to regale you with another non compos cards  Valentine commercial!

The Cure is my all-time favorite band, as in: cash in your savings account and fly to Australia to see them after they hastily announce that they’re not going to tour again after that but that was in 2000 and you have since seen them like 6 more times because Robert Smith lied but that’s ok!

True to form, this is a cringefest so get your groans ready.

The set contains 16 different mini-cards, just like the kinds we used to pass out in elementary school except much cooler because, you know, The Cure.

Henry was like I DON’T GET IT and I’ll tell you why – it’s because he’s not actually a “fan” of The Cure.

This set is now available in my shop and I am so happy about it! Part of me wants to track down all my old friends from the long defunct chatroom I used to frequent in 1998/1999 called Darkchat and send them all one of these cards (and by frequent I do mean I used to stay up until like 5am private messaging with all of my goth paramours). God, those were the days! Now when I tell people that The Cure is my favorite band, the general response, “I don’t know who that is.” Well, just break my goddamn heart.

I think this set goes wonderfully with all the serial killer ones, the vintage porn star collection, the Golden Girls series and of course all the Kpop varieties in my Hello Hanguk shop too! I’ll repost all of those ones throughout the week in case you missed them last year. I love Valentines so much!

Interested in purchasing a set of The Cure valentines for all the lovecats in your life? Click right here!

Jan 062020
 

Sorry fiends, but it’s that time of the year when CEO Erin Rachelle comes out of hiding and begins acknowledging her greeting card business. I’ll try to not be too annoying about it, but I AM working on a new set of mini-cards for the 2020 season that I’m pretty stoked about so hopefully I’ll be ready to share those soon! But until then, let’s revisit my best sellers, the mini-sets of serial killer love cards!

Stop looking at my tacky, chipped nail polish for a second and peep these mini serial killer Valentines instead! In the past, I was selling these as six-card perforated sheets, but let’s be real – you guys want more. I get it! So we made them just a TAD smaller and now you can get SIXTEEN of these babies (SIXTEEN!!) in a set for only $8!

I love these cards so much because they bring back fond memories of Valentine parties in elementary school, when we all got to fuck a shoebox with a glue stick and crepe paper and then we all got to run away, stuffing Scooby Doo sentiments into everyone’s “mailbox” even if we didn’t like the person because THE TEACHER SAID. My favorite part was the candy and cupcakes though. I was a fat kid.

And then in fifth grade, I was the fat kid with a perm.

AND BRACES.

FML.

But I somehow still got Valentines so I didn’t hate the damn day.

Even now, as a grown as adult, I like passing out Valentines at work. I passed the serial killer ones out one year to mixed reviews. My one co-worker received an Albert Fish one and sent me an email that said, “OMG I just Wiki’d that guy. He was so terrible! Why would you give me that card?!”

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Surprisingly, no one reported me to HR.

Life is all about taking risks, you know?

Each set comes packaged in these adorable little bags. I’m obsessed with them. (Please note: bags vary year to year, depending on what’s available to us! I’m also on the prowl for a more eco-friendly option. Might not be as cute, but either is global warming. So…)

These are perfect for the true crime buffs in your life, and with all new TV shows and Netflix documentaries focused on murder, these are super timely and relevant. I’ve had customers purchase these sets to turn into garland for their mantle, and another customer bought both sets to hide around the house for her husband to randomly stumble across throughout the year. HOW ADORABLE IS THAT. Every day can be Valentine’s Day with these little cards!

This set features some old standbys as well as some brand new designs that I made specifically for this set:

  • Harry Powers
  • Ed Gein #1
  • Gary Ridgway
  • Richard Speck
  • Charles Manson
  • HH Holmes
  • Richard Ramirez
  • Ken & Barbie Killers
  • Lizzie Borden
  • Aileen Wuornos (new design!)
  • Ed Gein #2
  • David Berkowitz (new design!)
  • BTK (new design!)
  • Zodiac Killer (new design!)
  • Jeffrey Dahmer
  • Jerry Brudos (new design!)

I should have taken new pictures for this blog post because my current nail job is much neater.

Nope…I just looked at my nails. Not that great.

Aren’t I great at product photography!!?!?!?

I’m so into these little guys. Please purchase some! If you mention that you came from Oh Honestly, Erin, I’ll throw in a surprise freebie! (Not frisbee, which is what I originally typed. That would jack up the shipping fee considerably.)

There’s also a healthy selection of regular Valentine cards over at my Etsy too in case the minis aren’t your cup of (laced) tea. THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME. Cook on, mothercheffers!

Jan 012020
 

See also: It’s 2020! HAPPY NEW YEAR, FRIENDS! 

A few months ago, I started seeing people post on Twitter about the best/worst things of the decade and I was like holy shit it never even occurred to me that the decade was ending??! And then I started thinking about my own personal decade and 10 years doesn’t seem that long but shit, I am a very different person than I was in 2010. For starters, I went into 2010 unemployed and in the lowest financial rut of my life. I started working at the law firm in April that year but it took years for us to climb out of the hole.

I started the decade mourning the metaphorical loss of a supposed best friend and it took me half of that decade to realize that she wasn’t a friend at all and suddenly, my life went on!

I left Facebook in 2017, which seems like such a minor thing, why would I include it here but look – I had always been SUPER into social media attention. I used to live for blog comments, Facebook likes, adding to the virtual friend collection—come on, I’m a narcissistic Leo. But I finally matured a little bit and realized that NONE OF THAT MATTERS! Now I write what I want to write, post as much or infrequently as I like, set my phone down for longer than 5 minute increments god forbid…I realized people were looking at me like I was a character and not an actual person and that’s when it suddenly seemed really appealing to dial it back some.Sometimes I even think about quitting this blog altogether and going back to old school journaling, but….writing with a real life pen on actual paper makes my hand cramp.

Now that I’m off Facebook, I stopped comparing myself to other people who post perfectly curated scenes of their life online, and instead I focus on my own life so that I too can do the things I want to do! There was no visit from Lady Luck here, no cheating the system. Just staying patient and positive, and being careful with spending, and that’s what got us to Korea when, just as recent as the beginning of 2010, we could barely afford to go to, I dunno, the county fair. I wish I had known at the beginning of the decade that I was capable of changing my life. I was chained down by really terrible depression and low esteem, that I really didn’t think my life could ever be “OK.” When people say “it gets better” – it really does, but what’s missing from that sentiment is that it’s probably not going to get better unless you want it to and are willing to put in the hard work. And it is HARD WORK. I really think that I had hit my rock bottom back then, and now that I know what that feels like, I never want to go back, therefore, I will never take anything for granted.

What else?? I still live in the same place but I finally realized that the all-white walls were seriously killing me so now my house looks like Pee Wee could film on location here and if you knew me in high school or when I lived in my first apartment, this makes so much sense because my living spaces were always an explosion of color, lights, toys (I had glow in the dark Slinkies hanging from the ceiling of my first apartment)…it’s just who I have always been and sitting here writing in my blog with blinking lights all around my periphery is just, I don’t know, comforting to me.

Health-wise, I entered the decade weighing around 200 pounds. I didn’t feel unhealthy and my check-ups were always fine, but I felt really uncomfortable in my skin. Finally got off my ass and did something about it (there are no magic pills or shakes that are going to make the pounds off, you gotta move and actually pay attention to your damn diet!) and am entering 2020 in the 130s which is something I never thought I was capable of. Now exercise is a huge part of my daily life and maybe Henry will say I’m borderline obsessed, but I guess that’s just my personality.

OK, now I’m thinking about how I lost all 4 of my original cat crew  over the last decade and I’m starting to get depressed so I’m just going to say that the 2010s had its moments but I’m ready to start a new decade as an Older Person.

So that was my decade in a nutshell, and I won’t miss the first half of it at all. AT ALL.

2019 as a whole was a really nice year for me personally (I mean, politically and globally, we were fucked as ever so nothing new there). My only goal in life is to have as much fun as possible without, I don’t know, losing my job or whatever. I think we managed to cram in a lot of fun into 2019 (for Henry, my version of fun loosely translates into STRESS for him, or PAIN, like driving 13 hours to Silver Dollar City with a half-broken back):

And here’s my Top 9 Instagram posts, apparently:

The more I think about it, the more I realize that 2019 can honestly be filed away in the FUCKING FUN drawer. Of course, not every day was great. I still had flip-outs but I think I’m doing OK at managing my moods. (Somewhere Henry is reading this and muttering, “You might want to consider putting in some OT, ‘babe’.”) Having things to look forward to is what helps me get through the work week and combat the Sads. I know it’s not a cure-all, and maybe it’s really not much more than a crutch, but even just having small road trips on the horizon really keeps me giddy.

Not trying to jinx anything, but I think 2020 has the potential to be pretty great and I’m going to make sure I work hard to steer it in that direction! Hopefully kpop will be better this year; 2019 was super traumatic and depressing in that scene. Also, I hope 2020 is a better year for the environment. I’m going to try and make more changes to my own lifestyle as well for the environment’s sake. I keep getting angry at myself because I always forget to bring a damn canvas bag with me when I go to CVS and we have TONS OF CANVAS BAGS so there is literally no excuse. The last time I went to CVS was for a jug of milk and a bottle of Coke for the holiday party we were having and I was like, “NO I DO NOT NEED A BAG” but then I had to carry those damn beverages home and I only live a few blocks away but that shit got heavy after a while!

And if you’ve stuck with this blog til now, thank you! I will try to be less annoying/better at proof-reading in 2020 but I can’t make any promises. My brain is fried and I’m usually blogging from my phone in bed or on the trolley, but I will make some attempts to be more disciplined like I was during the LiveJournal years when I refused to hit “post” until I read the damn thing 17 times and then also made Janna proofread it but no one’s got time for that.

On that note: cook on, mothercheffers.

Dec 312019
 

Our “tradition” used to be having a lunch picnic at the cemetery, and then taking fancy pictures of Chooch, but it started to be more stressful than fun. Henry would spend all this time whipping together, I dunno, egg salad sandwiches and whatnot, and then we’d sit on a blanket while shivering, getting  bread crumbs on our gloves, and then Chooch and I would argue once it was time to do the photos and you know what? Fuck it, man. Last year I declared a moratorium on the picnic portion of our “tradition,” and we somehow ended up at Pink Box in Squirrel Hill, a Chinese/Taiwanese bakery, where we got those good, sweetly-filled buns and, well, still ended up at the cemetery. But it was a lot better now that we just had some bread to hold while walking, so just like that, a new tradition was born.

Of course, now that we nixed the picnic, this year’s Christmas weather was downright spring-like: 50s with the sun shining! The cem was actually pretty rockin’ too – joggers, bikers, and small groups of tombstone gawkers were out in full force. It was really, well, lively.

I got the yam bun, boiiiiiii. Henry always opts for red bean, and I think Chooch got a custard.

What a relaxing, bun-full day!

First thing Child Genius does? Steps on the ice.

We were really giddy. Well, I mean, Chooch and I were. Henry was bitter and muttering to himself because it was but another year of having his wish list ignored by Father Christmas.

HENRY’S WISH LIST FOR SANTA

  • quiet time
  • quiet time
  • naps
  • quiet time
  • naps part 2
  • muzzles for Erin and Chooch
  • quiet time

Perfect cemetery weather.

I love these stupid-asses.

Back at home, we spent time with the girls, who were also struck by the Christmas spirit and actually acted like they liked each other!

Oh, did I mention that Henry gave me the ultimate Christmas present by agreeing to start exercising with me? I’ve been going easy on him by putting on low-impact walking workouts and strength training, which is how I found out he can’t do grapevines or step-touches, which is hilarious and helps me get an extra ab workout from all the laughing. So that’s how we ended Christmas: exercising and watching When the Camellia Blooms, which we have since finished and I really think this is in my Top 5 favorite Korean dramas, wow. If you have Netflix, why aren’t you watching it!? GO. And, Happy New Year!