Monthly Archives: March 2014

#12 Two times two – Make 12 new friends!

#12 Two Times Two: 2 Weekends, 2 Friends a-piece!

So far March has been my month of pursuing friendships. After creating my OkC profile and messaging with a few people a bit to get to know each other, I arranged to meet those I connected with most.

The Chicago Handmade Market

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Saturday is one of the only days of the week I have mostly available. I only work until two in the afternoon, so I arranged to meet my new OkC friend – Kiersten – that afternoon. Lucky for us the Chicago Handmade Market, a once a month handmade craft fair at a rotating location in Chicago, was happening that day.

Turns out a friend that Remy recently met through work was visiting Chicago for the weekend, and her and Remy had been hanging out this morning. I invited her to tag along with us and thus initiated what has turned out to be a great friendship.

Her name was Betsey, and she’s a rad activist from Iowa city. I met her only 20 minutes before I met Kiersten, but we were already friends by then. Betsey is such an easy-going, interesting, cool person we felt like we knew each other right away!

We all met at the market, which was Awesome! This month it was at a bar called the Empty Bottle. There were lots of jewelry-makers, as well as sellers of knitted and crocheted works, soaps, needlepoint, body products, ties and bow ties, prints, paintings, and more. One of the sellers was giving away a free bow tie for liking them on Facebook and we all entered.

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We all hit it off great! I bought a Leo charm pendant and two wire wrapped rings. I will definitely check it out again!

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After the Market we all went to Handlebar. They had amazing deep fried pickles and a great tofu sandwich. We also tried their samosas – a traditional Indian potato and pea pocket – but we didn’t care for it.

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We all had great conversation, and we ended up going back to our apartment for drinks after dinner. We hung out all night, and had a wonderful time! I feel like I made two great new friends that weekend!
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Another Weekend of Plenty

The week following our weekend friendship adventures, Remy had to go out of town for a week for work. Remy travels often for work – sometimes once a month, sometimes more than that. He loves traveling to different co-ops and giving trainings or attending meetings, and I support him wholeheartedly. Nevertheless, before I quit my teaching job and started making friends in Chicago I was very lonely when Remy went out of town. It’s hard to be alone in big city with no one to hang out with.

So I set out to spend time with our new friends, and make some more new friends on my own while Remy was gone. I knew Remy would be happy for me, and happy to meet any of the people I befriended while he was away!

After she returned to Iowa, Betsey has kept in touch with me via texting and social media, and I’m really enjoying continuing to get to know such a rad activist and thinker! She invited us to come visit, so Remy and I are planning a trip out to Iowa City in the next month or so. But I still need friends near me, and Kiersten is rather busy, so my plan was to keep looking for someone I could spend time with.

I also went out a few times with a great girl named Alex. She and I cooked portobello burgers for lunch, and went to the Chicago Cultural Museum together. The museum is run by the Chicago Board of Tourism and is completely free to anyone all the time! They have a bunch of rotating visual art and photography exhibits that are open to the public. And the building in which the Cultural Museum is located is like art itself; it’s in the old Public library building before it expanded into the famous Harold Washington Library down the street.

There are beautifully tiled walls throughout the entryway, and a thirty foot Tiffany stained-glass dome window in the ceiling of the main gallery room! It’s the biggest Tiffany stained glass dome in the world.

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Alex and I had fun together, but I found the conversation slightly forced and awkward at times, so I see this friendship as a long, slow build. We’re not going to become best friends over night, but we like doing things together so it’s a start!

Then there was Brittnee

You’ll hear more about Brittnee soon, because she is amazing and I already have so many stories to tell about her! But we almost didn’t meet. :O

Here’s the beginning:
Those who know me know about my history of tumultuous relationships with Taurus signs. On three separate occasions I met guys that I did not get along with – we really butt heads, we didn’t get each other’s sense of humor, and I just plain thought they were rude. After forming my opinion of them I learned one by one that they were all Tauruses! So when I saw on Brittnee’s profile that she was a Taurus, I almost let my bias stop me from messaging her! I’m so glad I put my ridiculous prejudice aside and messaged her, because we clicked the second we met!

Brittnee and I hung out – cooking, drinking, listening to music, and talking – way longer than we intended. We talked about many things – and discovered that we not only looked alike, but we shared a tremendous amount of interests and opinions. We’re twins! Back at her place, her roommate Eric came home and I met him too. By the time I left Britt and I were both remarking at the amazing connection we’d made.

… We hung out the next two days in a row. >.<

The next day her and Eric came over, and I got to know Eric some more. I can’t wait to meet Brittnee’s boyfriend John, who lives with them too, but he’s been busy with work. We plan to go out on a double date for sushi on Sunday!

Britt and I made peanut butter oatmeal chocolate chip cookies together…

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We both love Broad City, Key and Peele, the same music, the same types of people, hanging out together, and thrifting. She’s quickly becoming one of my best friends! I’m so lucky and grateful to have met her!

I’m counting Eric as a friend because, although he’s also a Taurus, we’ve also been getting along great, and I suspect we’ll be hanging out more in the future! Look at me, growing up, befriending perhaps unexpected personalities, and settling into Chicago. Wish me luck!

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#5 Find 5 things you like that you didn’t used to like: OkCupid

Find 5 things you like that you didn’t used to like!
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There’s something about the phrase “online dating” that seems to elicit a wide range or reactions, from the avid site-hoppers who always screen potential friends and lovers online before the first date, to the adamant naysayers who believe real connections need to be made in the real world. This topic of conversation has livened up many a get-together with my friends, whose opinions vary from passionate (both for and against) to completely apathetic.

Don’t get me wrong, I met my first girlfriend on MySpace, so I’m not above making friends online, but I’ve always been skeptical of any sites that claim to analyze your compatibility and “find your match”. Social media is a great way to connect, but something about websites like OkCupid makes me uneasy. I would say my opinion of online dating has been tainted my my best friend, an online-date-a-holic.

My bestie has been on OkC for over a year now, and she’s told me many tales of her adventures. I’ve been living vicariously though her tumultuous dating life: the exciting first dates, the stand-ups, the horrible disasters survived, and the friends made.
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After consoling her on the phone for nearly twenty minutes over another extremely awkward and uncomfortable date – “Why can’t I just meet the right guy?!” – I suggested that she simply look for a friend first, and then see if she wants to turn it into something more. See this friend of mine has the tendency to rush right in, even with guys she’s not that crazy about… and this has created some humorous, and sometimes serious consequences for her. I thought, instead of looking for a boyfriend, why not look for someone you actually *like* spending time with instead! Who knew, right?

Well she didn’t really take my advice, but I did!

I decided matchmaking sites are wasted on single people. The single people that I know seem to be looking for someone to bone first, then someone to date second. They ignore most of the compatibility analysis and just flip through photos looking for who they’re attracted to. That’s great, but you can do that on the street or at a bar, so I don’t know what OkC is doing except help you talk to someone if you’re too shy to do it in person. And I’m not. But what about finding friends and relationships with people you truly connect with – you can’t walk up to someone on the street and just know that you’re going to enjoy spending time together… Not usually anyway!

Friendships need compatibility almost more than partnerships… So I figured this site was secretly designed for me!

OkC allows you to answer as many random “matching” questions – ranging from opinions on politics to tattoos, and tastes from dive bars to fancy restaurants, and your level of hygiene. When you view someone’s profile OkC tells you your compatibility percentage based on the questions you answered the same way. You can also filter potential interests based on over 50 different interests and identities. You can search for people in your area who are shorter than 5’5, catholic non-smokers… Or you can find vegetarian friends who smoke regularly and have no kids. You can filter based on gender, sexuality, religion, race, class, physical appearance (is that a good thing?), and interests. Then you can look at the profile of anyone you’re interested in, where people write more about themselves and upload photos – much like Facebook.

I was honest on my profile about being in a relationship and looking for friends, so I was worried people might be only looking for sex or love and wouldn’t respond. If you live in a metro center, or even a decent-sized city, you can spend hours looking at people in your area. I did a few filtered searches, messaged a few people, and came out the other end with more people that I can meet! This map below will tell you your likelihood of getting a date on OkC by state!
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I would recommend OkC to anyone who’s living in a new city, looking to find friends that share their interests. I’ve already met almost a dozen new people, and made a handful of new friends: twice as many in the last month than in the last six months combined!

#1 Cook: Zucchini Boats with Lentil and Walnut Pâté

Complex and yummy: Zucchini Boats with Lentil and Walnut Pâté

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These hearty and complex winter squashes are a treat for the taste buds. They weren’t very complicated to make but they were extremely flavorful! I could eat that pâté by the spoonful!

Zucchini Boats with Lentil and Walnut Pâté

4 zucchini
1 T. avocado or olive oil
1 T. soy sauce

Pâté
1/2 c. rd lentils
1/2 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, choppe
1 c. vegetable stock
1/4 c. shelled walnuts, chopped
1 T. rapeseed or canola oil
2 1/2 t. dates, chopped
1 t. apple cider vinegar
1 t. yeast extract
1 t. soy milk
1 t. chopped thyme

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Make the pâté first. Fill a medium saucepan wi cold water, add lentils, and bring to a boil.

2. Drain the lentils. Rinse under cold water, then return to the pan. Add the onion, garlic, and vegetables stock. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 20 minutes.

3. Drain the lentils again if still watery. Stir in the remaining pâté ingredients. Transfer the mixture to a food processor or blender and mix until smooth.
^ I did not do this I just ate it chunky

4. Slice a thin sliver from the bottom of the zucchini so that they sit flat on a plate. Cut a rectangle almost the length and width of the zucchini through the skin on the top side. Carefully remove the rectangle of skin, then scoop out the flesh with a spoon. (Freeze the flesh for later!)

5. Mix together the avocado/olive oil and the soy sauce, then brush it on the tops of the zucchini boats. Bake for about 15-20 minutes. Remove the zucchini from the oven, fill with the lentil and walnut pâté and return to the oven for 10 minutes, or until heated through.

6 serve with a mixed salad, red onion marmalade, and/or warm oatcakes.

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The pâté was easy to make, but it took a while to thicken and it was a pain to watch. I had fun cutting and zucchini! The small strip you cut off the bottom really keeps them from rolling around the tray!

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Forgoing the blender, I used chopped walnut pieces in the recipe, and it was delicious as a slightly chunkier pâté! I loved it! Definitely a “make again” recipe!

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