Once upon a time, James and I had a roommate who had a cat.  This sort of meant that we had a cat.

He was a really sweet kitty.  He was some kind of special breed and did not have ears nor a tail.  He loved laying across James warm laptop while James tried to work in bed.

Whatever his real name was, we didn't think it fit him.  So we called him Noobles.

He killed a bird in the condo once.  He peed on our down comforter twice.

I wonder if he is still alive.

six years ago

Every photo of James is a gem in some way.

This was taken on a tour of a silk factory in China.  He unfortunately didn't buy the jacket.


dip party

This post is brought to you by a rambling text conversation between Meagan and me.

A special party is in the works, perhaps a holiday party, though it could be held anytime.

This is a party for great friends who appreciate food.

Okay.  It's a potluck party where every person brings a special top notch homemade dip (and vessels for said dip, of course).

Examples of dip:
Spinach artichoke
Baba ganoush
Olive tapenade
Olive oil
Black bean
Cucumber tzatziki
Something cream cheese-based
Labneh cheese
Is there such a thing as sun-dried tomato dip?
Pesto (pinenut free please)
Perhaps a cheesy bacon dip to get some meat up in there
Blue cheese dressing

Items which will do the dipping:
Snap peas
Baby romaine
Cherry tomatoes
Green onions
Grilled artichoke
Warm delicious bread
Fried pita strips
Sliced French bread
Tortilla chips - good ones!  Made at a Mexican supermarket! (Or homemade - should we make everything?)
Crackers (I love Triscuits, but I'd certainly be open to other crackers of great quality)

We shall drink red wine.

We shall listen to acoustic guitar music.

The party shall be lit by candle and lantern.

There shall be throw pillows and rugs aplenty.

Nothing store-bought!  I don't want to see any seven layer pre-packaged bullshit!  This is a place for simple, quality ingredients, made with love.

We shall be one with the Earth and its bounty.

And we shall eat a shit-ton of dip.



I'm sitting at the West Covina TGIFriday's, alone, at the bar.

It's 3:30pm.

Next to me is a couple on a date, like maybe a first date.  They are getting to know each other.  The girl is in a shiny strapless dress, hair curled.  She looks pretty but the Vegas dress was the wrong choice for this venue.  She is laughing at everything he says.  

My seat is at this angle that when I look up, I'm looking straight at them and they are like two feet away and I wish I had sat somewhere else but I think it's too late to pick up all my stuff and move without looking like a totally rude bitch.

I have my Kindle but I always forget that it feels weird to read at a bar.  

But oh snap, Thai pork taco app was just delivered and it's actually really tasty.  I'm glad I refrained from ordering the nachos.

Both parties on the date appear to have experienced accidental impregnations where a paternity test was considered.  The guy does not like to use condoms, he says.

A 20 oz Coors Light draft during happy hour is $4.  All appetizers are half off!

Places like this are the only establishments that card me.


Date couple went to a table.  By the way, they weren't drinking.  Who in the world goes to TGIF at 4pm and sits at the bar all dressed up and doesn't even get a drink? I'm glad I'm not a part of that relationship.

Green bean fries with wasabi dip are here!

When one is alone at a bar, it would be a blessing to enjoy watching sports.  


Third beer!


So many gigantic plates of nachos being eaten

I'm never ordering fried green beans again.



My dad grew up in Peoria, IL. 

My family spent a considerable amount of time there when I was a kid.  We experienced snowy Christmases, sat in the back yard and watched fireflies in the summer, picked tomatoes from the plants in my grandparents' garden, watched Gone With the Wind with my grandma, and slept in the attic (also childhood bedroom of my dad and uncle) of the house my grandpa built.

As an adult, the draws of Peoria are German food, endless cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer, jet skiing in the river, and the Casino.

Last night, out of curiosity, I typed "Peoria" into YouTube and found some gems.  You'll find that these two videos pretty much sum up this part of the world.

1) After some Google searches and a few conversations with the locals, I can confidently say that the flying Asian carp invasion is Peoria's biggest news right now.  Watch this video of some vigilante bros taking care of them...

James and I were cracking up at this, and mid-watch it occurred to me that some might see the random killing of animals as horrifying.  Either we are terrible people, or the carp are overrunning the river and pose an environmental threat so who cares, or I just can't empathize with the feelings of fish.  Maybe all three?

2) Here's a wonderful YouTube account by a guy named Ronnie who vaguely reminds me of my dad and other men on that side of my family.  He seems really sweet and drags his stories out, much like my dad.  This guy pulls at my heartstrings in a similar way as the woman who wrote the Olive Garden review that went viral.  His farmer joke turns out to be funny, too, even though you have to wait two whole minutes for it.

I'm not sure if you need a midwestern background to find this stuff interesting.  Possibly.  

Here are the photos I took in Peoria this summer.  I didn't get any of my grandpa this time because he can't see or walk anymore, so posting photos of that kind of weirds me out, so the first one is from a few years ago.

grandpa and cousin (2010ish)

My booziness is inherited, methinks.

my dad and his brother

bunch of cousins, my mom in the middle

James and my cousins waiting at the security checkpoint of the Pair-A-Dice Casino
Irresponsibly steering my uncle's boat along the Illinois river
Peoria Hofbrau. I don't think I could get more in touch with my roots than a German restaurant in Peoria.
It was poorly lit and old, with lots of beer from which to choose.
We found a racing derby, which was full of white people drinking Mountain Dew, some of whom wore overalls.
Breakfast at the Burger Barge, a place where I would undoubtedly be a regular.


papipollo and liquid poop

Our first meal in Ecuador was a split-betwixt-us order of papipollo.

Papas = potatoes
Pollo = chicken

papipollo = fried chicken over a bed of french fries, sauced the hell up with mayo and ketchup and aji 

aji = ubiquitous slightly spicy sauce that can be anywhere from a pink goo to a mexican salsa-type thing, with tomatoes and onions.  Peruvians have aji too, but this is different.

You see the phrase "papi-whatever" everywhere in Ecuador... papicarne, salchipapa, papihuevo

We got into the country late afternoon and had heard the most insane things about Quito, in terms of tourist robbery.  The main thing that stood out was that thieves will splash you with liquid poop so that you'll be disoriented and then someone will approach and snatch your stuff.

Let me repeat that...


I had read these stories on some Trip Advisor* forums and I told Jenn about the rumors as we were on our way to the airport.  As it turned out, telling her in person was a genius move because I got to see the look on her face.  She genuinely looked like she might cry.

*By the way, I don't like Trip Advisor that much- If anyone has another user generated travel website I would love to know about it

"Liquid... poop?" She said slowly, in disbelief.  I shrugged.

Oh no, I just realized this was supposed to be a post about food.  Sorry!

Um, where in god's name was I going with this... Oh, I think I mentioned liquid poop to say that we were sort of nervous to be walking around Quito at night and were completely on our guard.

Let me add to that... we were in "you'd better not fucking rob me" mode, but we were also really hungry.  So despite all the hearsay about liquid poop, robbers, and advice to take cabs at night, we ended up walking around an unfamiliar city of ill-repute at nightfall in search of dinner.

It was worth the risk!  We came upon this outdoor "papi" place with a line off the chain.  It was one of those moments when you're so deliriously happy to be traveling and hungry, tempted with french fry smells and unfamiliarity and the promise of salchichas and fried chicken shared with good friends for the next week of your life.

It was a shit-hole!  Yay!
Do you notice how in this photo the fry pile is gleaming like a pile of gold treasure?

But seriously, can you look at the prices in the photo above?  Yes, this is in US dollars (that's what they use in Ecuador).  That's a meal with meat and fries for one dollar.  We did not add to $0.40 soda because we aren't big spenders.

Before sauce.  Again, I must point out the french fry perfection.  
The plates come ungarnished, then they had like seven plastic buckets of sauce with soup ladles so you can just go nuts.  Unfortunately I didn't get a photo of that, probably because I was alternating between drooling at the mouth and being frightened of a stranger hurling literal shit at me.

Poor sweet Jenn allowed me to be in charge of saucing.  That was probably a mistake.

Post sauce.  I overdid it.
She said, "It was really good but maaaaaybe not so much sauce next time."  I looked at my mayo-covered fingers and pile of dirty napkins and errant puddles of sauce in shame and thought what have I done.

At the end of a loooong day of travelling and a re-introduction to South America, this was the perfect place, perfect meal, perfect price.

By the way, if you'd like more information on the ol' Ecuadoran liquid poop trick, here are the google results.

I guess I should also say, during the next ten days we were not robbed, and we didn't get any bodily excretions thrown on us.  In fact, we felt very safe in Quito and the rest of Ecuador.  The police presence in the tourist parts of Quito was off the charts (in a good way - I mentioned to Jenn that this was one of the first times I felt happy to see a bunch of cops, and we asked them for directions constantly), and there are cabs everywhere that you can take to any other part of the city for like two dollars, should you not want to walk.  We both carried around our smart phones for picture taking, which is something I've never done while in Latin America.  I was glad I read up on the crime first though, because it made us more aware of our surroundings and hence less susceptible to predators.