All That Jazz

Two Steppin’

“Oh shit, I’m going to be late,” I scream in my head as I’m dashing down Randolph, still unsure of where the Harris Theater really is. As a genius, I decided to go to my dance performance on November 21, 2009, the same day as the lighting of the Magnificent Mile. I am usually super early to performances, so this day I took a few extra minutes to do my hair and makeup, eat something before leaving. I was also going to a party for a friend afterwards, so I was looking forward to something light and fun to alleviate my awkwardness that I knew would come later to his going-away party (dancing? Yes. Social anxiety? Yes.). But no, the large groups of drunken high school students and puffy jackets that my mom calls “suburban coats” filled the “el” car that I was in, and I tried to read the book I had brought with me. My stuff was NOT going to get stolen, and I was going to get there!

Having already missed the chance to see Mikhail Baryshnikov (sp?), and many other jazz performances, I stuck with Step Afrika!, in conglomeration with the Chicago Human Rhythm Project. Not my first choice, but I was determined to enjoy it and learn something from the dance type.

I rush in and get a ticket, the man at the box office smiling, although whether it was because I particularly looked good, or because he could tell I was relieved to be able to buy a ticket. The ushers were letting people in, in between the performances. We could hear Michael Jackson echoing from the inside of the theater, so only the first performance by the drill team had begun. Based on the amount of Jackson’s songs that had been playing subsequently since his death, I concluded that I wasn’t missing much.

A big group of black women were in front of me, also just having gotten to the box office. We were ushered in, and told to take the seats furthest away, but closest towards the top balcony. I had bought the cheapest tickets, so I wasn’t expecting a good seat. However, this was still a good view. The Harris Theater is underground, and I’d never been before. It is such an interesting layout, and from the time I got there, I knew I’d love it. The women flew in next to me, and after the drill team had finished up, the Trinity Irish Dance School had come in, and performed very percussive and intense work. The lighting kept changing, and you could see the characteristic curly wigs that the girls were wearing. All I could think of was “When did these girls start dancing?” Did they have the same worries as I did about being in a leotard, or were they rail thin from the militaristic stepping that they were performing? I had always seen many similarities between my Polish heritage and the Irish, whether it’s the characteristic potato dishes, excessive drinking, or in this case, folk dancing. Judging from the form of these girls’ dances and the formation of the Polish girls that we see in the Polish Independence Day parades, I could now understand the key difference in weight between the two groups. Polka dancing is much more laid back, although probably carries the same amount of historic and cultural significance. I’ll just tell my Polish cousins to join an Irish dance troupe to stay slim abroad.

A quick glance around, and you could see a definite class difference in the audience. I was in with the super excited black women (and some men, along with their dates), while the majority of the “elite” white men and women were sitting with their children towards the front. I reflected on Shakespeare’s time and how the poorest of people got penny tickets to stand toward the front; yet in the case in this theater, the blacks were pushed to the back of the theater like a city bus in Birmingham, Alabama. A hyperbolic analogy perhaps, but I still wondered who the audience was “meant” to be here, and why ticket pricing was not just one general admission price, with first come- first serve seating arrangement. After all, this is based on African dancing, and if I wanted to see a performance based in white Anglo-Saxon tradition, I would’ve stepped over to the Lyric Opera a few blocks away. Although being a snotty, white opera fan, that kind of trip wouldn’t be completely acting out of character.

After the Irish Dancers left the stage, following a very cute little girl’s solo at about the age of 5, many of the women sitting by me either completely left the theater, or went for a closer seat. I look at the ticket I had purchased, and glanced over to see that someone else was sitting in my seat. “Oh well,” I thought and came back to the seat that I sat at for the first portion. Step Afrika! was about to perform soon. I noticed that I was in a row to myself, and all of my cheering would be met by silence around me. I didn’t care!

The dancers took us on a journey through a variety of step dances. They began with a sort of everyday, contemporary street dance style, and I felt like it was a watered down version of the dancing that might go on in the South Side of Chicago, or as they were basing it off of, Harlem, NYC. I’ve seen Save the Last Dance enough times for me to know that mainstream is definitely not the same, although I’d rather the white kids in the audience get a taste of the culture that they will probably never experience face-to-face. A dance off between the men and women ensues, and the audience gets to participate in the winners. No one was surprised that the women cheered for the women, men cheered for the men. Of course there is a stylistic difference between each set, and at the end there is a “tie.” None of the women onstage are the anorexic types that you see in Ballet, and sometimes Modern pieces. After seeing The Seldoms perform, and meeting the coordinator afterwards, I wanted to offer her a sandwich rather that a round of applause! Real women, performing in a very real way. Women have such a sass and sense of competition during dance performances, but in this way it was woven into the dance and made it less uptight, and more proud than restrictive.

They continued to give us a tour of what it was like for stepping fraternities and sororities. Go figure that my experience at Loyola didn’t teach me where the Greek system had provided an outlet for African- American stepping. Then they danced in a setting prompted by the diamond mines in Africa. I haven’t researched it much, but based on my old roommate’s review of Blood Diamond, I can only infer that the conditions were normally horrendous. The fake “master” of the mine in the dance is stricter in the laughable sense, reminding me of the parents from Disney’s Peter Pan: “A little less noise there,” rather than death threats, and who knows what else. Dancing was seen as a reprieve, and I had an instant appreciation for the group for informing me about this dance, and its function in a society that I know nothing about.

Onward and upward, to the last segment: tap. My dad had rented a bunch of videos from the library after we had learned of Gregory Hines’ death when I was a kid. “You just need to know about talent,” he told me, and I saw his incredible dance style that is rivaled by everyone in the tap industry. The solo artist in this piece wanted everyone to participate, and soon we were all snapping with him. I got to snap! I’ve watched West Side Story over and over, and snapping during a dance is a strange fascination that I have. Probably also reminds me of a Greenwich Village poetry jam, but that’s just one Jack Kerouac book away from making this performance something it’s not. The girls in the audience screaming “Oh damn!” behind me, and I was still so excited to see the tap, all by myself, in my own row.

The group finally got together and ended with a big tapping group, ending the performance. I walked away, thinking “wait…that’s it?” I wanted to keep watching, and wanted to hit myself for the times that I had missed out on other performances. I would say that I have a new appreciation for this type of dance, but sadly I predict that I’ll forget all about it, and my next performance will be that of another Anglo-Saxon performance. But I think I’ll at least try to go to something else in the future. At the very least, I predict that I’ll show my kids some tapes of African dance one day, likewise to teach them what talent really is.


"Me gusta"

Thank God for Jonathan and Travis. They keep me so motivated to be veggie! (noun into an adjective....YES)

So Jonathan always keeps me in check about my protein (i.e. with cheese [which I'm shying away from] and with Odwalla shakes. In particular, I had their pumpkin protein shake recently, and decided to make it at home!

3/4 cup pumpkin
1 cup almond milk
1/2 cup ice

1 dash of cinnamon

blend well...delicious!

Little known fact is that coffee mugs also make good containers for smoothies on the go! (Especially the stainless steel kind) MY Gevalia mug (with way too much use, the top is broken past the point of convenient use) came from a free deal from the Gevalia coffee company. I'm not so big on their coffee, but a free coffee maker was particularly a plus when I moved into my first apartment.
Now I've already posted about my vegan chili, but I had to go again!

I always add a ton of carrots, as I feel that they take away from having "too much spice." Almost like a break. My dad used to always tell me to eat yogurt/ drink milk, but I find that anything OTHER than water works, too. I was with my friend Joty, celebrating Duwali, the festival of lights, with the Hindu Club at school, and I couldn't get enough of the curry! I used to think that I hated curry, but turns out, it was just thai curry...something about the tart doesn't jive with my tastebuds....

Anyway, so I needed to include some Trader Joe's products, because they're amazing. Basically, tomatoes, beans, chili spice, carrots....it was all organic and under 7 dollars. Travis and I had about 2 servings each, and I still had some leftover. DELISH! (as an aside, I hope my Dad's proud that I used my auto-settings on my digital camera to get that steam coming off of the chili....awesome!)

Trader Joe's also makes college vegan shopping CHEAP.

Tofutti non-dairy cream cheese is about $2.50, and veggie burgers are always under $3.00.
(Not to mention that they have Tofutti cuties and Soy "Ice Cream" in a chocolate flavor where you can actually TASTE the chocolate....amazing!)

I've been using the term "nosh" quite a bit, because I feel as though I graze like a cow most days....KIND Bars in particular are amazing (and give to the Peaceworks foundation) and raw nuts help me get through my work shifts/ class without having an audible stomach! A pound of almonds for less than $5? Sign me the fuck up.

Time for delish veggie burgers. I went a week or so without a few in my freezer, and it was so sad. It just seems like a nice base to have, especially since I am a meat-eater at heart. The meat that I miss is made up by the "patty-ness" and good spices in the veggie burgers (in this case, Morningstar, but I like just about any kind). In this photo I feature avocado (as my phrase goes, "avocados make any day a good one") , Tofutti cream cheese, and sourdough bread. The burger in the picture is NOT vegan, but there are many other varieties that are. Needless to say, it was amazing.

Next up:
Amanda, soapstress of the stars (like Travis and myself!) has begun another blog entitled "Broke Ass Beauty," and details her experiences with cheap cosmetics and bath and beauty products. I trust her opinion on just about everything, so I think you should, too. Check it out!


I think that about sums it up.

For Lady Gaga critics, all I gotta say is that she references Alfred Hitchcock in her new song "Bad Romance"....awesome.

Until later, let me know if you guys have any veggie faves. Wish me luck on grad apps! OY! :)


Les Perfumes

I have a serious problem....I can't leave the house without a spritz of perfume....

Although, since the holidays are approaching, Christmas shopping downtown is a surreal experience that is usually accompanied by a quick dash through the Macy's or Lord & Taylor, usually just for me to look for the newest scent that catches my nose!

And so, a brief list of some of my faves.....Who knows which one I'm wearing now?! :)


Oh the Chanel no 5....everyone's favorite! Marilyn Monroe is said to have worn it. A word of warning to those who want this cheap: Don't buy it on eBay! I got it and proudly stated to my choir friends that I had found it on eBay for $30.....not my best purchase. It just wasn't the same! Hopefully there is a way that I could access this scent in some authentic, yet not purse breaking fashion, but until then I'll simply take a waft whenever I'm in the dept. stores... (and hopefully channel Audrey Tautou in the French Chanel biopic...stupid Chicago movie theaters)

Marc Jacobs! I was able to go to the Marc by Marc Jacobs store in NYC and could afford some stuff there! How about that?! And so with our American-Apparel-coolness, Scotters and I both entered and saw the interesting fashions that were coming up...but my favorite was always the perfumes :) Marc Jacobs just came out with Lola, and it also smells as cool as the advertisements. He's just a swingin' dude.


My dear friend Anne and I are big fans of Sex and the City...and gay people! :) We write letters of our version of "Poof!" magazine, based on a certain favorite show of mine. She, however, is a particularly big fan of Sarah Jessica Parker, and introduced me to her signature perfume, Lovely. I was able to get Covet: Pure Bloom, for a rather not-so-pricey price, and loved it! So, although I think that her acting abilities are at times questionable, she knows how to franchise a nice and *light* scent.

A very memorable scent, indeed. I got this a few summers ago, shopping with my then, boss, now soapstress, Amanda. Other than being a huge fan of Scarlett Johansson (again, not due to acting abilities), I love basically anything that Calvin Klein makes. Although it is not readily made available in Calvin Klein stores, some perfumeries usually have it. I associated scents with many feelings and memories, and with this particular one, it's the feeling of giving into inhibition with a fleeting romance....but maybe that's just the commercial for it...
My darling old freshman Resident Adviser told me that sometimes men were just for giving you perfume, and allowed me to sample Amazing Grace. I've been a fan ever since! She bought a set for me for the following Christmas, and I can't even begin to say what a funny experience it was to try to squeeze the last of the lotion out, and twist off the top of the glass bottle just to get the last of it....phew! Although Baby Grace confuses me a tad....

As a scent, Amazing Grace just makes me feel graceful.
Malachite, named after the color of green. A shade of green that, if I may be so bold, looks really good with my olive skin tone. I liked the color, heard of the perfume, and once again fell in love. It's definitely not as light as some of the others, but it's just...pretty. I guess my scent association with this one is mature.

For those going on the cheap or who maybe don't wear perfume as often, Banana Republic has minis available of their perfumes (good for presents, too!)

I'm thinking this may be my next one for once I'm done with the current scent, but with the coming season, who knows? After all, this was just a sampling of the ones I like, certainly not an exhaustive list.

Now if f only I could reproduce green tea lattes into a perfume.....


My not-so-celebrity crushes


I'm a bit of a flirt. In fact, my friend Annette and I always laugh about a phone call I had with my current boyfriend when I was in her company when she overheard me say the following:

"Hey! So I really want to talk to you now, but I'm at my friend Annette's place eating ice cream. I'll call you later though and we'll flirt! It'll be awesome!"

We'd probably only been dating about a month, but whatever, it was a "disgustingly cute" moment. Now we're much meaner on the phone :)

So anyway, I have a tendency to like moderately famous people that most of my girl friends respond with..."ummm who?"

I thought after a grueling awful week of nothing but exams and papers, I'd put up a fun post!

Israel Nebeker, lead singer of Blind Pilot (pictured left)
What else can I say about a wonderful man who plays guitar well, HAS to have some kind of Jewish heritage (always a good thing!), and he bikes....everywhere. He's got the whole broad shoulder thing going on, super laid back warmth, and a wonderful voice.

IN ADDITION: Blind Pilot is coming to Chicago! The day prior to Thanksgiving, they'll be playing at Lincoln Hall, and although I'm not sure if I can make it myself, I know that I'll definitely be spreading the word.

Steve McQueen (still a celebrity, but still!)

The prince/king/whatever of coolness. The days that I'm dressed in all black for work, my co-worker Brittany calls me a beatnik....and I immediately think of Mr. Hipster and my imagined gibberish-spoken love poems....just kidding!

Anyway, as an avid Natalie Wood fan, I actually found out about Mr. Handsome from the film Love With a Proper Stranger, a film that my friend Ally and I decided needs to come out on DVD about 10 years ago...Ms. Wood, after all, did receive an Oscar nomination for her acting as a first generation Italian immigrant unsure of whether or not she wanted to go through with an abortion in the 1960s....guess who plays the jazz musician/father of the child?

Joseph Fiennes

The only time that I saw any version of Romeo and Juliet that didn't make me want to throw up.
Rumour has it that's not only playing Vivaldi in a movie, but Darwin, too. Smart. Dudes.


My future fiance'...kind of :)

Sondre Lerche!

I found out about Sondre Lerche from Mr. Scottland, when we did one of our infamous CD mixes. However, this one featured Sondre's "It's Over" at the end of the CD. It had particular significance, as Scott was leaving for college (a year older than myself), and we were a little apprehensive about the state of our friendship as he embarked on musical genius school.

As you might imagine, the lyrics actually say /it's not over at all/, and I was completely happy to hear Scott's new "indie" sound.

THEN I saw him perform at Park West in Chicago, and got to meet him and tell him he was my favorite musician. The dialogue went as such:

Me: So, um.....yourmyfavoritemusicianeverohmygoodnessIcan'tbelieveI'mhere....sorry...
SL: Yeah, wow, thanks though!
Me: *superwide grin* Thanks! You're the best!

and then he signed my concert ticket. Yay! Good memories :)

I saw him again this year....still super sweet guy!


Oh well, that's it for me on that, but there are plenty of other non- famousy men that I'll probably mention later...

Have a wonderful and safe Halloween! I might post pics of my costume....might ;)

"Kiss me, I'm Vegan!"


I already mentioned it on facebook, but this girl is just too cute! She ALSO loves the cupcake making :)

I'm trying to see if I can get to a petting zoo/ animal sanctuary by the beginning of winter (which, in Chicago is about, I don't know, yesterday?)

More exciting news for my veggi-ness:

  • *Fakesgiving with friends!Mr. JZ and "As Gay as it Gets" writer are gonna do a fun Thanksgiving day...sans turkey! We'll see if I feel like trying the turkey alternatives ;)
  • Bought Alicia Silverstone's "The Kind Diet"- finally! I especially like the section on "flirting"....describes me so well! hehe!
  • My involvement with Oxfam at school has been helping me meet so many people who are wanting to make wonderful change in the world. And none of them are super extreme! Other than in kindness of course...
  • I bought a used black argyle sweater on ebay for $10. Hopefully it'll fit, and I can put up a post of the lovely gamine style that I love to support so much. I've pretty much decided that, excluding lingerie and workout clothes, I'm going to only buy used clothing- Chicago and Ebay make it was too easy!

Weeee! I have a ton of papers to write, but with the support of my puppy (aka my boyfriend, Andy) and my lovely friends, things are gonna get easier!

Much, much love



To cheat, or not to cheat?

So I've been a vegetarian since Spring Break of 2009. This came at a good time, as spring-y foods lend themselves to the "wow, I still have 10 lbs. from winter" bullshit that we all go through. In addition, my roommate and I were halfway through our Spring semester at school, and her sustainability class had inspired her to also eat less meat. I made the plunge, and gave up all meat cold turkey...

Which brings me to my next issue. My only meat-based holiday that I had passed through so far was Independence Day, and trading in peach-mango smoothies instead of burgers wasn't too hard. (After all, I always have BBQ sauce on my veggie patties anyway.....so it wasn't like I was missing out on too much) But NOW, my desire to induce much needed sleep during the last week of November puzzled me. I had primarily given up meat because I felt that it was the best thing for my body. Seeing as though a lean baked turkey would probably not send my body into detox mode (like the much-missed Billy Goat's burgers.....no fries, chips!), I wanted to take some time to reconsider this decision.

After some reading about veggie Turkey-Day alternatives, I had made the final decision not to have an extra-marital affair with the diet that has made me feel lighter and happier than ever before. As my dear, darling friend JZ was telling me, an important figure who factors into one third of my decision to be a vegetarian, not eating it will just leave more room for other stuff that I like....PUMPKIN PIE! I'm such a pumpkin fanatic, I'm going to have vitamin A coming out of my ears by the end of the year!

Above all, this had just better not mean that I have to eat onions.....

[For more: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=97137098
and http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/vegetarian-thanksgiving-recipes-recipe.html ]


Yupcakes begins!

So, I don't have pictures up (yet), but I have created "The Amanda," the new Yupcakes Carrot Cake! We're doing a bake sale at school, hoping to promote the LGBTQA Scholarship that the university organization wants to dole out to high school. As Gretchen from Mean Girls would say, "That is so fetch!"

Amanda has been absolutely amazing to me. When I first started working in the campus reservations office at school, I was down on my luck. No boyfriend, no social life, just wanting to stay in Chicago for as long as I could so I could avoid the ennui of the suburbs, she took me under her wing and made me feel like I was a valuable employee, and after working for her for a few years, like a valued younger sister. Regardless of how dramatic I would be, she was always there to listen, and always there to give an honest opinion.

I knew that I needed to dedicate my gluten-free yupcake to her, because she had battled with an almost on/off gluten intolerance. She is always an inspiration to me, and I can't thank her enough for her warm presence in my life :)

In other news, she's off to get married to the love of her life, and I couldn't be happier for her!

Cheer for Amanda and Nathan! May they live a life filled with references to drunken evenings, strict dietary restrictions, and ethical implications of Kant's Deontology. I love you both!

When she's back, check out Amanda's website! My favorite soap of hers is the Three Bears, Fair Trade and Organic! :)

And her blog....


Pictures and Superficial Updates

So my new apartment has led me to thinking about the wonderfulness of cooking, having a place to myself, and sipping a wonderful cup of tea with a soy candle on a rainy day. Seriously, Chicago, where is our rainy day? Where have all the thunderstorms gone?

I have started to run/walk/jog/dance a lot, and that's been contributing to a wonderful sense of stress relief. This will probably be essential when it comes to grad school apps....ugh

Anyway, I don't have much to post about, other than the usual "social justice" preaching that I impose onto unsuspecting victims, and my stressful life in my last year of college (yes!), but the little things do matter. For example, every time I'm stressed out or over-caffeinated, I get what I call "calm juice." At work, this means a Horizon "organic" chocolate milk (the quotes are a whole other post....). Otherwise, it means a vanilla steamer from various coffee shops. My good friend Travis called me after my morning with the NAMI walk 2009 (leaving my wake-up time at 5:30AM....I'm ok with that!). He informed me that he was going to surprise me with a present, to which I replied "It better be cheap!" After 20 minutes of awkward face-booking, trying to find each other in the black hole that is our computer lab, he surprises me with a vanilla steamer from Starbucks.

WHAT?! Random acts of kindness? So ridiculously simple, but sometimes I forget that the people we love will remember things about us. Even as a self-proclaimed cupcake queen, the fact that my ex-roomie frequently requested my super chocolatel-y cheesecake always brought a smile to my face.

The upper left picture is the McJ Bookstore/Cafe. Amazing, and my best ami Scottland is going to be responsible for me creating a bookstore/cupcake empire someday. I just remember meeting up with him in the heart of yuppie-town NYC (aka the Nolita/ Soho area), and consistently keeping fresh with our inside jokes and comments on Babycakes and our fave depressed French author, Francoise Sagan (emphasis on the Sagaaaaan). :)

All in all, I think that people underestimate the power of making someone's day. Even something as small as ACTUALLY being interested in someone's day can make an impact. Although I spend most of my days trying to be a bitch, a dash of genuineness and being cliche' seems to make for a good recipe....


Let us reflect

I just left my Health care ethics course, feeling rather reflective (hence the obvious title of my post today).

First, we had a discussion of the Hippocratic Oath, as well as the Ethics Code adopted by the AMA. We were all under the impression that it was a natural duty for those in the profession to the adopt the codes, only adding emphasis to certain parts of them (like patient confidentiality) but never de-emphasizing them.

Right after, we watched a film about a course offered at Harvard Medical School about a student/patient interaction that involves meetings with patients who have life threatening illnesses. The story was a typical patient-changed-a-doctor's-life story, but our discussion afterwords was particularly telling. After our class had agreed that it was a doctor's duty to take the integrity of their position into consideration all of the time, several students remarked that empathy was sort of an "assumed" quality of those who are entering the health care profession.

Um....no? Of course I looked at everything from an extreme psych POV, having not only been to therapy and had other friends/ family members, and people that I actually saw in a therapy-esque situation....not all practitioners are that sensitive to their patients. In some respects, given the demands of the job and the high rates of malpractice suits, etc...I can see why it would be easier to try to maintain objectivity, and perhaps systematic equality, by not reaching out to each individual as an individual person with emotions, yada yada yada.

But, especially with growing research, it seems to me like it's NOT obvious at all that people have empathy. So it seems sad, but shouldn't we be taking a more proactive approach to healthcare in ensuring that all professionals have some sense of care beyond the text and diagrams of grey's anatomy and the DSM-IV? It used to be that psychiatrists (yes, psychiatrists, as in MED SCHOOL professions) had a requirement of attending therapy sessions, partially to always have an outlet for their stressful schooling, but also to be able to get a chance to see what it's like "on the couch." If I'm not mistaken, this requirement has been taken away.

Hopefully we can bridge the so-called empathy gap, at least when it comes to health care. It seems to me that anyone who is in a hospital situation is put at an immediate switch, from their daily lives of running errands and being aware of others, to being completely out of control and having someone essentially making very difficult decisions for them. For any psych student that has taken a developmental (child psych) class, there have been numerous studies about the affection that infants need at a critical age, sometimes resulting in death. (See this link) Attachment is crucial in healing, and this definitely extends to the physical.

As an aside, I would like to take this opportunity to say that yes, health care is a RIGHT not a privilege. There are a disgusting amount of deaths in this country because people did not have the monetary means to receive extremely available care. Letting someone else have insurance does not mean that a) you will be without the opportunity to receive quality care, and b) that our country will be a presto-changeo socialist country. Not only are some of the bills proposed supporting equality for equal coverage and QUALITY OF LIFE for many U.S. citizens, but also provides for preventative care, an essential component of a complete health insurance policy for women and men alike. It would also save us lots of money! Come on!

Happy health to you all. I suggest dancing if you're feeling low....mentally OR physically :)


3 Bears

3 Bears Soap

Brilliance in a soap.

More to come...

Food Allergy Mama

Click here to find out about the Food Allergy Mama's new cookbook!


What a wonderful hyperlink!

Anyway, Mrs. Kelly Woyan Rudnicki is a close family friend, I've babysat for her children, and her family has been supportive of every endeavor of mine that I can imagine since they moved into our subdivision back in the burbs. Now, it's my time to be supportive!

Allergies have become an epidemic in the U.S., especially in children. With all of the new research and trends that have come about in the country about our eating habits (or lack thereof), we have to start thinking also in terms of those who have limited options. Children are constantly at a disadvantage if they deviate from the norm in any way, and you can see it in the way that children discuss their limits (whether it be physical or psychological).

Kelly has found an amazing way of recreating a so-called "weakness" in her child's life into a grand strength, not only raising awareness of an affliction that many suffer from, but about the ripple effect that restrictions on eating create for the entire family. Her book has TON of awesome recipes, but also gives a portion of the proceeds to the Food Allergy Initiative Chicago (http://www.faiusa.org/?page=chicago), a non-profit groups that also raises awareness about this.

I will also add that QUITE OBVIOUSLY, I would not be trying to promote this if the Rudnicki family was not one of the nicest and most caring families I've ever met. Her son, John, has SUCH character and personality, while the other kids are such a support system for him.

Can you imagine being a kid today, already absorbing the pressures of family life from the economy and other crises in this time? I can't even imagine. We always have to be looking out for them.

Which brings me to my main point (despite my always overly-caffeinated poor writing skills...I do have one- hehe!) ...we should be baking for these kids! I have always loved baking and found a niche in vegan, gluten free, and allergen free treats. Kelly's recipes are AMAZING, and most of the time much better for you! I had the absolute delight of trying most of them when she was shooting the photos for the book, and let me tell you...I have yet to even want to TRY another oatmeal raisin cookie after eating the one that she features.

She is an absolute inspiration, and I hope to promote the book for her (mostly through the bookstore, Facebook, etc.) AND for all the kids out there that just want to eat a cupcake! And those of you reading KNOW how I feel about cupcakes :)

So here's to Kelly's new book, it comes out in October! Let me know if you know of families that would benefit from the book, and I'll try my best to get you a copy from work. Otherwise, I'm definitely gonna try some more of her recipes, and deviate from my other books for a while. I might even put up a few updates on the 'ole blog, but with school and such...I make no promises.

Now if I could just find a bundt cake pan so I can make that AMAZING cinnamon swirl coffee cake......



Hello, "all."

So an update on some new favorites:

Blind Faith Cafe in Evanston, IL.
Went there last night with the boyfriend and tried ratatouille for the first time. Delicious! The restaurant was good, too, and would probably be a lot cheaper if you were just getting Intelligensia coffee and a carrot cake on the go. I'm ok with that.

Also....Celestial Seasonings Vanilla Red Tea. Decaf (naturally...not as in obviously, but just herbal) and yummy!

That's about it, I'm super tired. I'll probably update with more later. :)


Product placement


yeah it was on sale

and yes, it's delicious! :)

nothing like iced tea when it's a....oh wait...it's not hot weather anymore! YES! :)

Class? Gross.

Apparently, class, both the academic and the riche definitions, is always limited at my university. Walking among the campus, not only do I see women wearing the same things (80's looking sunglasses, tunics that were definitely overpriced at Urban Outifitters, leggings, and gladiator sandals, etc.), but I hear them speaking in the same every-sentence-must-be-a-question way....surely followed by the ever-cringe-worthy "I know...right?"

Sigh. Anyway, my point is that going back to school kinda sucks. It's boring, and I do not get to cook that much...However, I do get to engage in more discourse with my fellow peers, talk with true friends that I've been awfully neglectful to (without reprimand), and still find time to cook.

My mother has this tendency to offer many groceries every time she visits. I love her for wanting to be helpful, but it's usually the most perishable thing you could find, and as I'm living by myself (another adventure), I find it hard to use odd amounts of green peppers and SEVERAL pints of blueberries. Thus, soup and smoothies it is.

Number one:
I mixed raspberries, blueberries, and green tea together....it was amazing

Number two:
Pureed tomatoes and chopped up orange and red peppers for soup.

These were definitely good decisions. My favorite part? Neither came from a recipe.

My next step is to figure out how I'm going to mix orange and dark chocolate flavoring. I had originally suggested to my amazing friend, Michael, at work that I wanted to make scones....but I already did that with blueberries! Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Other news:
I bought a dress at Crossroads for $16, it's really pretty, and I can't wait to wear it. That's probably all I'll spend on clothes for the next year and half, so I'll have to find a way of making what I already own go further. Then again, I'm almost always dressed for work anyway, so it shouldn't be a problem.

The dress is green.... maybe I'll forgive those cliche' freshman girls and wear black leggings, too. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

Oh, and I promise I'll write something more worthwhile. :)


Look at those bean bags! Whoa! Lots of ingredients for the Babycakes NYC gluten-free cupcakes, but I think the "Healthy Hostess" worked out just fine! Hit up the local library for the recipe! I did not have time to get the ingredients for the frosting (one of which is soymilk powder [not soy powder...much easier to obtain]) so I just dusted them with cinnamon or powdered sugar for a finished effect...although an icing-written expression of Marquez-esque love would also be appropriate :)

Non-vegan, yet very veggie update...

So my friends, I am INFAMOUS for my chocolate truffle cheesecake. The "cheese" part is probably not hard to replace with the tofu variety, and the eggs that are in are probably just as easily substituted. Don't care! I love my vegan friends, but I would hate to part with this recipe from an old issue of Taste of Home, the magazine that my grandmother in the heart of South Dakota swore by.....(I do not know how to complete this sentence, yet I'm uncomfortable with ending sentence with prepositions...I digress)

This is a delicious recipe to say the least, and I promised I would make this for my roommate before our lease together ended, and we both embark on different living adventures.

This is the cheesecake recipe.

In other news, I noticed that one of my favorite recipe/posh entertaining books recently came out in paperback! I recommend always buying hardcovers used on amazon.com or preferably betterworldbooks.com (as it's an organization that supports literacy with every purchase!). Instyle Parties is a book presented by the editors of the magazine, and if you look past the expensive preferences, you can find some good food recipes and party ideas for yourself! The link to such book is here.

I would like to try the Real Simple Celebrations book as well, but the other books from them on organization are just as good. I swear I'm not really a domestic housewife in the middle of nowhere moonlighting as a college student! I'm just that invested in being a hostess ;)


Pictures! (about time right?) Adventures in Baking!

This picture is one of many from the Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. This particular recipe is a pumpkin cupcake with chocolate chips. The critique on this one was too much cinnamon (which I tend to add too much of most times!). If you're wondering what that glaze is... it's cinnamon! Not bad lookin' for my first take at vegan cookin'!




A trendy look at the life of a vegetarian. To me, it's a nice thing to skim through and get ideas for, especially when it comes to vegan cooking. I will say that some of the more "youth oriented" articles bring up some good topics. For example, surveys asking "Would you date a non-veggie?" etc....

Check it out!

Gillian McKeith

I LOVE Gillian McKeith. She's this crazy British/Scottish nutritionist who lays down the law with people who have gone out of control with their eating habits. Her first book that I read was "You Are What You Eat," and it was a basic tool on getting in touch with your body a bit more (even if it's getting gross). I will caution you though, some of her detoxing methods I would not recommend. Her newer book, "Slim for Life," is much more up my alley, with just being simplistic and trying to create foods that will make you feel better. It's a good read, especially after I've had a dinner of cheese fries.....

So...Check her out!


It's Been Too Long, and I Need To Recap!!! :)

So New York City. Amazing.

I saw many places and many people. But it was an absolutely ridiculous time for me mentally. Here I was back at the scene of the crime, where I had visited schools for my undergrad years. It was a battle between admitting to myself of a lost chance, and the fear of acknowledging that New York City might be another place for me to live and to attend grad school. Options are more scary than limits to me. In this case, I have to be able to trust myself that I'll be able to make the right decision when deciding on a school (even if it's for 2 years). However, this trip made my schema of decision making thoroughly get tested.

As usually, though, I had an amazing time, and saw two of my absolute best friends. Back in my strongest of nerd years, I associated with our school's "Drama Mafia," and immediately felt at home with a group of people that shared my love of "making scenes" in public and finding obscure musical theme songs on repeat on my CD player. (oh yes, before the magical time of the nano iPods...) These two have been my rocks, and even forgave me as I decided to settle on a place close to home, rather than moving to the East Coast. Any reservations that I've ever had about a friend moving away is met with my cognition regarding these 2 amazing people. Scott and Emily, I will love you forever. (Keep in mind that this yuppie might move in with them one day!)

I digress. As a self-proclaimed yuppie, I had a hard time budgeting. New York City is indeed expensive. During my 4th day, I was wandering around, looking for any place that even had a suggestion of "dollar menu," and couldn't find anything under $20. For Lunch?! That's DEFINITELY not the Chicago way. This kind, presumably Slavic woman (perhaps a Polish woman like myself) led me out of the rain into her cafe. Obviously, I could see that she
had an interest in getting my business, but I was not about to complain about food and warmth. I ordered the cheapest and, what I had hoped to be, the most filling entree on the menu. "Grilled cheese panini," apparently must include bacon and mayonaise in this establishment. Oy! What's a veggie girl to do? I peel off as much as I could.....but was still hungry! Mind you, this is after another trip to Babycakes. There was no way that I was going to pass up their red velvet cakes while I was still in NYC! NYC is the place for cupcakes! I went to Magnolia, and rather than getting the plain of plain, I got a pumpkin cheesecake. Running just under $5, it was worth every penny.

Now, I have a slight obsession with food. Especially baked goods. I find that it is so nice to just work on a project and have a homemade finished product that you can experiment with from time to time. Every major holiday, I have requested some form of kitchenware. Last Christmas, it was an AMAZING mixer. Cheesecake for this girl is a breeze now. Many of the people I know have joked that I am minutes away from quitting my psych degree path and taking on a bakery of my own....To sum up...don't tempt me....

In general, I'm going to stop writing now, as I find it hard to stay on topic when you've got money issues, financial issues, and you're technically still in the office. Tonight I'll be studying and making spelt flour blueberry scones. HUZZAH! :)

More yuppie thoughts later...


Hey Darlings!

Super busy workin' 2 jobs.....more posts to come :)

including info about NYC...



So I will frequently be discussing my obsession with cupcakes. This next place is fantastic for cupcakes, regular and vegan alike.

Molly's Cupcakes was introduced to me by my roommate from my freshman year. Having gotten off to a rough start, we're now very close friends and try to meet up when we can, and she always know what kind of food, tea, coffee, shopping places, etc. that I like! She suggested the Pita Pit (near the Red Line Fullerton stop) for some vegetarian options. After that we took a nice walk to Molly's Cupcakes!

Having already had my morning "cup" (which for me is usually about six) of coffee, perhaps the strong Intelligensia coffee was a mistake for my heart rate. Intelligensia being so delicious (and about as fair trade and organic and wonderful as it can get), I was still not hesitant to order a mug along w/ my strawberry shortcake cupcake. Delicious! Just the right size, price, etc. For any other yuppies out there, I say take it there!

There are a few other cupcake places that I plan to try out, so I'll have to let you know about those as well.

Yay for Molly's! Check it out!


Melody Gardot and Kate Maki

Very talented women to listen to when you just wanna chill out!


Melody Gardot-
Sexy jazzy music that seems like it should take you back to a different era....I know it's not really "taking me back" because I'm not old enough, but she's got a bit of Edith Piaf plus Peggy Lee in her voice. Stupendous!

Kate Maki- She opened for the Great Lake Swimmers when I saw them, and the poor lady had to entertain us as the band was super late after getting stuck in southern IL. Yikes! She's extremely down to earth and soulful. Take a listen! I feel like her Canadian accent just makes her that much more adorable!

So yay for women who can sing and perform!


Yay for Evanston!

Not a sentence I ever thought I'd write, but the store Crossroads Trading Co. pretty much made my week. I found a Coach wristlet there for 20 bucks. As in a 100 dollar venture turned cheap. Amazing store. A friend of mine suggested also looking for presents! Fantastic. Someone wants to buy me cheap designer stuff? Go ahead by all means!



Babycakes NYC


You will soon realize that I have a deep obsession with cupcakes. What a perfect confection! My recent athletic jump into the vegetarian lifestyle has also led me to try vegan dishes as well. Upon going to the marvelous Metropolis coffee house (in Rogers Park) they had vegan cupcakes available for purchase. A little guilty for nabbing this yumminess from someone who might've actually been vegan plagued me until me first bite. How. Delicious.

So I looked for vegan cupcakes! Babycakes NYC is a bakery that makes vegan, mostly gluten-free, and lower-refined sugar (important for those of us at risk of diabetes [and in my case, pre-diabetes]) treats for all! An important critique is that many people with coeliac disease (a condition that renders people unable to eat gluten-a little more extreme than just a gluten intolerance) have been upset that the cookbook contains spelt flour, a very not gluten free ingredient. But guess what? She has a gluten intolerance herself and discusses the differences in her cooking in GREAT detail. Maybe I'm just not very sensitive, but I tried out one of the recipes and it came out DELICIOUS. Yay for agave nectar sweetner.

And so I'll begin making more and more cupcakes. Delicious.

Oh, did I mention that I'm definitely going here in NYC? That's what sparked the post. *wink*


New York City

I shall be venturing to New York City in less than a week, my third visit in 4 years. I never quite understood my draw to this city, but cannot escape the natural feeling that I have a sense of independence. After all, my visits have all been made alone. My first was to visit my first choice of school: NYU. You'll notice a typical "yuppie" student by those who have my same claim, "Oh yeah I almost went to NYU...." met with an exasperated sigh and the crushed dreams of a potential hipster fashion designer or the next Scorsese with a vision to bring life to film and film to life. Me? I was pre-med. Was being the key word. Having decided that perhaps not over medicating a nation with enough problems (you know, insomnia, eating disorders, depression, Munchausen's by-proxy, etc.- things that clearly can only be solved by popping pills), I switch to the social sciences with psych, a program that I rationalize would have been just as ok at NYU as it is at my current school. I occasionally wonder what would've happened if I'd pursued a theater major, and led a similar lifestyle, perhaps 3 times more expensive, but similar all the same.

I am excited to go back. Now I will be searching for exploration as well as a potential living space. Would I ever re-consider the chance to live in New York at some point? In order to stay neutral, I had vacated the option 3-ish years ago when I started school here and adapted. Adapted and began to love the city that I had been so close to, yet so far away from with my sheltered suburban upbringing. What a wonderful place. I'll continue to think, but more explore. I've realized often enough that life gets to be too difficult when you think too much. Hopefully the scenery of NYC will help me stop for a bit...


Boho Magazine


Just check it out. It designed for women, with the whole fashion thing, but the green living tips are really interesting. The blog is updated frequently, and there are almost always tips on food. Check it out?

Black Coffee

Here goes.

Coffee in my house was almost always available, my overachiever status winning in the ridiculous battle over natural teenage growth once I began drinking that lovely caffeinated substance. I now stand at a non-modelesque 5 ft. 5 inches, with still an ever growing love for the thing that employs me and keeps me awake to go to school full time and carry a job that helps me pay rent. I'm a Caucasian barista/college student hoping to stay awake enough to have unintelligible conversations about current politics and classic literature. Nauseatingly cliche, unforunately. Hehe, just like in "Stuff White People Like," coffee for me is number 1.

However, after having left my random shopping days with 2 good friends of mine (les deux "a"s) (as we frequented the Walker Bros. pancake house, and the local Ulta for the latest in makeup that our high school selves NEVER needed) I selected plain black coffee in lieu of the sugary Dr-Phil-warns-you-against-these Frappucino. In other words, I went with a heathier alternative (and cheaper might I add) on these excursions. Although I certainly wouldn't turn down that trip to the mall and pancake house....

Anyway, my semi-masculine ways of drinking my coffee (as well as tea) is kind of nice. You don't often see a woman ordering a Black Eye without adding cream or sugar. Matter of fact, I hardly serve espresso-laced coffee to women. I do of course "mix it up" on occassion, but perhaps my drinking habits will bend a few gender rules....