Saturday, April 20, 2013

how to feel good

I think many of us share the sentiments The Onion shared this week (note- contains profanity!)

Thank goodness some of the awfulness is behind us (though it all felt a bit Fahrenheit 451-esque yesterday, watching the manhunt- literally seeing a Google Earth image of the house where the shootout was happening). Texas and the US Congress are still a mess.

So here are some things that make me feel better, this week and generally.


If you are lucky enough to love someone and have him or her in hugging distance, give ‘em a solid one. Hugs are great. Particularly if you are blessed with a boyfriend with really great arms.

If you have a pet, hug them. Stroking an animal reduces your blood pressure and floods your brain with oxytoxin, the happy bonding chemical.

And let’s be honest we crave time with animals at times of stress. I spent some of Friday texting back and forth with my friend Eireni, who was trapped inside in Boston. She opined how much she wished she had a puppy with her. I, glued to the TV news at my aunt’s house, snapped a cell phone picture of her Scotties and sent it back. I hope it helped!

Cats are also very cute, obviously. Sheila continues to obsessively monitor her “bunker”, the hollow, dug-out area under the front stoop into which she squeezes and hides out from time to time.

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The Movie Pitch Perfect

Good Lord! That movie is really funny! When I saw the ads I thought it’d be a singing version of Bring it On but it is- and I mean this in the best possible way- absolutely bizarre. I loved the fact that some parts of it echoed the real world (aka most of the people in it looked like REAL PEOPLE, not Hollywood automatons; and they really captured some of the little details of college, even things as stupid as watching movies on laptops with friends in your dorm room). And then parts of it were not at all real like nighttime alleyway sing-offs between a capella groups.

It made for a great, girlie movie night with my cousin. Probably don’t subject someone who isn’t a slightly weird music enthusiast to it without prior warning.

Deep Dish Pizza

If you are in the greater Chicago area, you can buy one. If your only option is the Pizzeria Uno’s at the mall, make your own. From this absolutely succulent and astonishingly easy King Arthur recipe.

It makes for a very fun date night, making deep dish together.

Get started with the dough and whatnot, take a walk or something, then start putting it all together. Note that since we don’t have a deep dish pizza pan, we ended up using two eight inch cake pans and one nine inch pie pan. We also made our own sauce  and pizza seasoning just with dried herbs and some crushed red pepper flakes. For toppings, we opted to use spinach and mushrooms and since Steve prefers them raw we didn’t bother to saute. And in the FINAL change, we added just 1 cup or so whole wheat flour because we simply ran out of white flour.


It. was. awesome. We agreed that the crust was a mite oily and could’ve stood to be a little less soft; and that we’d enjoy adding more cornmeal just because both of us are partial to the deep dish at Gino’s East in Chicago and theirs is delightfully corn-y and crunchy. That being said, it was far and away the best homemade pizza I’ve ever tasted; a near perfect replica of the restaurant stuff and yet surprisingly quick, easy, and intuitive to make.

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My family is Greek Orthodox Christian and we’re on a different calendar so our Easter isn’t til May 5th. My sister was trapped at CVS waiting for a prescription, and, in an excellent example of making lemonade out of life’s lemons, the theme of this post, she used the opportunity to buy greatly discounted Easter candy and eggs.

And hid them around our house, making for a very very fun few weeks. Fun and chocolatey.


The resilience of nature

The pansies planted in our little garden box in the front have colonized the most inhospitable parts of our property.

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The ones on the lawn have subsequently been mowed, sigh. I really look forward to leaving the suburbs soon. People care way too much about their lawns.


This is the most exciting thing on the list, and exceedingly topical for April. When I left my aunt’s house, she sent me home with some leftover seeds she had from planting her garden!

Zucchini, basil, mint, two kindsa heirloom tomatoes…


… plus a random pack of dill seeds I got in a Triscuit box!


So I got to planting. Planting seeds is one of the most pleasant, relaxing activities there is.

I opted to give my little seedlets a gentle beginning to their life, nurturing them in smaller containers indoors til they sprout, then bringing them outside. (Steve is doing something similar with the cutest little greenhouse kit he got as a gift from a friend. He’s been diligently moving the plants in and out of his apartment to give them daytime sunshine and nighttime warmth).

Lacking a cute little greenhouse kit, I grabbed some random containers from the recycling bin (strawberry containers work particularly well, as you’ll see when you take a look at the planter) and stabbed holes in their bottoms for drainage.

Then I sowed the seedlets per package direction (er, for the ones that had directions… on the other ones I guessed!) and covered them up with moist soil. (Obviously, I did this part outside… then moved them back in).

Labeled everything, since I haven’t the slightest ability to differentiate different plants’ leaves.


As in my tomato growing adventure last year, I will undoubtedly document this year’s garden journey with the same unrelenting obsessiveness.

What brought you joy during this sucky week?


Steven Alexander Heathcliff Basil Bert said...


I’m wishing good things for your garden. To answer the question from your post, you have been my font of joy this week. Jag älskar dig min kärlek.

Eireni said...

Steve, the Swedish is too damn cute.Ileana, the puppies helped IMMENSELY. :) Sending love down to DC. And a virtual hug (not as good as the real thing but just as heartfelt, I promise!)