Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Sausage, Potato, and Corn Chowder

Eckrich* sausage is a staple in this house.  It initially started with their kielbasa, but at this point, whenever it's on sale, I grab multiples of all the varieties and throw them in the freezer until I want to use them.  I live with a German, sausage is NEVER a bad idea, based on my experience.

Anyways, I ordered some in our Walmart* Grocery order, which meant that later, when I search for "sausage recipes", ads for Eckrich came up and I saw something about a sausage corn chowder recipe and I took the bait.  I'm not sorry.


Ingredients:

-Sausage.  Obviously, I prefer Eckrich because it doesn't have a tough casing on the outside and it tastes delicious.  You can probably also use crumbly sausage, but it would need to be cooked first and I hate having to cook shit before I put it in the crockpot.
-Potatoes
-1 can of corn
-1 can of creamed corn
(you could also use 2 cans of creamed corn or 2 cans of plain corn, I'm all about flexibility)
-(optional) 1 can of beans (I used Navy beans because they were on hand)
-1ish cup of heavy cream/1 can of evaporated milk
-Broth (your flavor of choice)/substitute
-Corn starch

Side ingredients:
-1 box of Jiffy* corn muffin mix + required ingredients.

Directions:

-Dice sausage.  I usually halve along the length of the entire sausage, then cut along the sausage to make half moon shapes.
-Clean and peel potatoes.  I don't actually fully peel my potatoes.  I kinda cut off at least half of the peel, then just dice the potatoes with some peel on, because we like it that way.
-Add sausage, potatoes, and cans (with the liquid) into the crockpot.
-Mix together broth/substitute with heavy cream and corn starch.  Once well combined, add to crockpot.
-Stir items in crockpot to mix well, then cover and cook on low for 8 hours (truthfully, this is the only setting I ever use to cook anything in my crockpot.  When I've tried to do anything on high for less time, it never worked out, so it's always low for 8 hours.  The most important item to be cooked in this recipe is the potatoes, so when you can stick a fork through the potatoes, the soup is ready to eat).


Cover and cook!


When you're about 30 minutes from eating time, make corn muffins via the instructions on the box.  I used almond milk because that's all we had on hand and all the tops broke off.  I mean, Starbucks sells just muffin tops, so I considered myself a winner that I had done this unintentionally.  So it's better to use fatty milk.. I probably could have used the heavy cream, but didn't know how it would work and wasn't feeling up for the challenge, so almond milk it was.


After the muffins are done cooking, serve soup with muffins!  I broke up my corn muffins and added them directly to my soup.  I was NOT disappointed.

Final product!

*I don't receive any compensation from these companies, but if they were interested, I totally am also.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Weekend Review {11/11}

FRIDAY

EVERYTHING passed sooo slowly on Friday.  EVERYTHING.  It work and school day. 

After completing a HUGE work task, I had to motivate myself to do homework.
There were 3 parts and after each part, I got a reward.

THEN.. ~3, TEH BESTIE ARRIVED!!!!!!  YAY!  I was so excited that I, not only, forgot to take a selfie, but I also forgot to pick up the Sam's order.. soooo yeah.  After picking up Bestie, we headed home.  Meri was SO excited to see Bestie that she couldn't decide if she wanted to go outside (her absolute favorite thing when it's not raining) or if she wanted lovins from her Other Momma.  She went back to her Other Momma twice before finally going outside.  It was adorable. 

Shortly after 5, we headed downtown with Teh PT Wife for ladies night at Halls.  BISON FILET MOTHERFUCKERS!!!!  WOOOOOO!!!


It was delicious, as always and I had ZERO regrets.  After getting home, we headed over to Teh PT House for a bit more socializing.  By 10, we were all yawns and it was time to go home.

SATURDAY

An agreement for Bestie Weekend was that we'd relax and plan things by ear.  AKA, no obligations.  It was kinda hard not to plan a run, but I managed..

I got up with the beasts to accomplish some homework in the AM.  For lunch, we went to Bad Daddy's Burgers in Summerville.  We've been to other locations before (Raleigh, Denver), so we knew what we were getting into.  The food was delicious, even if we had to wait.  I'm always so surprised at how small they make new restaurants here.  Maybe it will make more sense after the newness wears off?  But IDK, based on this location.


After lunch, we headed to Sam's to pick up the forgotten grocery order.  Bestie and I ran into Walmart while Teh German went into Sam's to pick up the order.  We got everything loaded into the car and headed back home.

Teh Bestie and I had tossed around the idea of going to the Elizabeth Warren town hall that was being held nearby and after getting the groceries put away, we headed to the high school where it was being held.  We weren't really sold on the idea of getting there at 2:45 for a 4:15 event, buttt when we pulled up at 2:47, the parking lot was almost full and there was a line at the door... Soooo, glad we listened. 

When we were filing in, I got to speak with my German teacher from last spring and I explained how I wanted to be there, but with 5 computer science classes, I just couldn't swing it.  She did say I was missed, which made me happy.

Bestie and I made a new friend, RJ, while we waited for the event to start.  RJ was a recent transplant to CHS from Orlando and is also a runner.  Despite the age gap (RJ is 22?), we had a grand time.  It was nice to speak to a youth (ha) that had intelligent things to say and was interested in what is going on.. and, ya know, shares some of my beliefs.

Senator Warren's talk was good, she hit home with a lot of things and explained the 2 cent tax on individuals who make more than 50 million dollars (2 cents is deducted from every dollar after 50 million).  I thought her tongue-in-cheek attitude was amusing, but did not detract from the seriousness of her topics and things that are happening.  The fact that she seems to have a plan for everything doesn't hurt my feelings, although getting plans pushed through is always the problem in American government.


We pinky promised.

I know that I will probably vote for Elizabeth Warren if she is the democratic nominee.  While I really appreciate Andrew Yang's views on technology, I'm not sold on the idea of giving everyone $1000 a month, despite how much I crush on him for his stance on technology and data security.  He's the ONLY dem candidate that seems to understand tech and that IS important... it's VERY important.. and we currently live in the dark regarding these issues.

After standing from 2:47-6:47.. we were EXHAUSTED and headed home.  We had cereal for dinner and we introduced Teh Bestie to Big Mouth.  #NotSorry.  Unfortunately, she got an emergency call from Teh Chief Smartass and decisions had to be made and now little Zo-Zo is no longer with us.  She's been ailing in her old age, so it wasn't unexpected, but it always is.. and having to make the decision while you're not even there is even more difficult.  Thankfully, it's 2019 and Teh Bestie got to FaceTime with Teh Chief Smartass and Zoey while they were at the vet. 

Finally, around 0100, we all headed to bed, mentally and physically exhausted.

SUNDAY

Sunday morning was a slow start.  Teh German got up with the beasts and we had brunch reservations at Acme Lowcountry Kitchen in Isle of Palms at 11.  Brunch was deeeeelicious.  I'd totally recommend Acme if you're a bruncher.  I would also recommend a reservation since the place was WAY busier than I had expected it would be.  Also, there's only a single women's bathroom and a single men's bathroom, so that's less good, but whatever.

After brunch, we came home for laziness. 


I ended up resting my eyes while Monkey-Doodle used me as her personal body pillow.


Before dropping off Bestie at the airport, we went to Bath and Body Works and spent some dollas.  I made sure to send my sadness selfie after dropping Bestie off.


It was a quiet evening.  I worked on homework, or attempted to, and Teh German did some scrolling/YouTubing.  It was sammiches for dinner and we were finally in the bed by 10:30, because I kept forgetting and remembering things (like to place the stupid Walmart grocery order).

BUTTONS!


______________________________________________

Today is Veteran's Day and I've been quiet about it this year.  IDK.  My 0900 and 1000 classes were cancelled today and since there was no quiz in my 0800 class and a guest speaker in my 1300 class, I decided that it was a non-Citadel day.  I had planned on going into the office, but when I woke up this morning I was still exhausted.  In fact, it's almost 1 and I'm STILL exhausted and my head is hurting, so I suspect this might be some PMS.  So rather than go into the office, I teleworked today, which is no different than any other Monday, so NBD. 


What it really meant is that I got EXTRA snuggles with BOTH dogs this morning and I'm not in any way disappointed about that.  When it gets chilly, Meri is extra snuggly and I just lurve it.

Today I've been rather productive, I ate breakfast and scooped poop (since it hadn't been done in at least a month based on the overflowing bucket of poop I gathered), then went to the computer for the things I do.  I also managed to migrate the photos I store on Dropbox to my external HD, so YAY, finally!  This is always a difficult chore for me since I often want the photos that I just moved to my HD but I've already deleted them from Dropbox so I don't duplicate them on my HD later.  #TechnologyWoes

This week is mostly quiet.  The dogs have an appointment to get their toes cut off on Thursday, praise Allah, since the clicking is driving me batshit crazy.

12 days until Thanksgiving break.
179 days until Graduation.






Friday, November 8, 2019

Five on Friday #216

EINS - Random Shit

If someone walks in the communal Kurig room before you and sets down their k-cup and is rinsing their cup and you come in and start making coffee in the Kurig, you are a fucking shitwad and I hope your coffee scalds all your taste buds off.

Did this happen to me?  Yes.  Yes, it did.
I think it was actually a professor but I don't know this person so I don't know what their role is.. other than fucking shitwad human.

Later that same day, this same individual came into the lounge to microwave their lunch and then left.. and finally someone in the microwave line took that person's food out of the microwave since it had been several minutes since completion and set it to the side.  Shitwad's apology was meager at best.  Lack of consideration for others should be punishable... especially when it comes to communal spaces.

________________________________________


Teh German has strong feelings about clothes.. and well, his poor soul married me and I do NOT have strong feelings about clothes, much to the disapproval of Teh Bestie and Teh German.  In fact, I am probably somewhere in "The People of Walmart" because I will 100% wear my pajama pants in public with zero fucks to give.  If I'm out alone and I've come from home, there is an 80% chance I will be wearing something with a stretchy waist*, be that yoga pants or athletic shorts.. I try not to be in jeans when I can help it.

That said, because martial bliss harmony is a priority for my mental well-being, I try to make an effort when I am going out in public for 2 of my favorite people.  I think I mentioned a few weeks ago that Teh German shamed me into changing clothes with a mere disapproving glance at my outfit.  If I didn't, yeah, that happened.  It's fine.  My feelings weren't overly hurt.  I put on jeans instead of workout pants and didn't die but a little.  It was acknowledge that I only changed because Teh German judged me.  We laughed, moved on..  except now, this has become a thing....


Just to be clear, on that occasion, I would have been changing out of dinosaur pajama pants, made by Teh Sister, into workout pants.... and I was kinda reluctant about agreeing to go because I really didn't want to change out of my dinosaur pants, but would because #marriage.  But I also figure that workout pants are my trade-off and I have to play my cards right.. because there will come a day when I go out in my silly pajama pants with Teh German and he will say it's alright, but it will, in fact, NOT be alright.  PROMISE.  His "it's alright" is the same as my "it's fine"... it is definitely NOT alright and it is definitely NOT fine.

And let me clarify something quick like.. by workout pants I mean cotton pants that are a solid color, usually grey or black, with pockets.  They do not have holes, they are not tattered.  Photos of me in these pants are usually me after a run, because that's mostly what I wear them for... unless I go to Walmart on the weekend, by myself..

*My linen pants do not count, because I wear those for work, even though they are stretchy waist.

________________________________________


I always grab 2 packets of oatmeal and make them.. and about halfway through eating it, I realize, again, that I should have only made 1 packet.  This happens EVERY TIME.

________________________________________


Life Lesson: NEVER use a package that was shipped to you that could possibly have your address on it in multiple places to contain something you sell on Facebook Marketplace.  I was confident I had removed most of the identifying information from the package, but the buyer stated my address was on the box that I had given him, after he'd expressed dissatisfaction with the item he bought, claiming it was a fake.  In the messages, I said the city I lived, which could be seen on the box, so that didn't alarm me, but I am now paranoid I didn't get the enough of the street address off (I know I removed the house number).  Thankfully, my name on Facebook isn't my real name and I peeled off the majority of the name info (except the last few letters).  The buyer claims "also capture in a photo the sticker of your car" which I think means they have a photo of my license plate (the buyer was Hispanic and had poor English skills), which does concern me a bit.

________________________________________


Since it was cold this week, a Cadet in one of my classes voiced that he wished he had some hot chocolate.  I suggested the secretary might have some and he said that she only had coffee.  On occasion, I "donate" things to the department secretary since she provides treats to the Cadets who come to her office for snacks or coffee (usually computer science and math Cadets, so my people), so I purchased 2 boxes (of 50 packets) of hot chocolate for the secretary's office.  See, I'm not always a horrible person.

________________________________________


It makes me extremely stabby when I bring my car in for service to the dealership and when I get back in my car all my radio stations are reset.  It's 2019, how are we not more advanced than this?!

Also.. WHYYYY?  WTF are you doing that my battery needs to be disconnected causing my radio to reset?  #HATEHATEHATE

________________________________________


Last year, in my Circuits class, I had a super annoying partner for my class project.  Well, he's a computer science major and now we're friends, because that's how I roll, and we are partners for almost all the class projects that we can do together.  Anyways, he accidentally knocked up his GF, now fiance, and I want to adopt them for Christmas and help them get set up for their new life post-graduation and WITH a baby.

He is the absolute worst at accepting help in anyway, so this is going to be difficult.

________________________________________


I found out Monday that my very first ever boss passed away due to a battle with cancer and I won't lie, it really put me in the feels.  I didn't acknowledge veteran's day in anyway, which doesn't overly matter, but is out of my norm.  2 of my classes were cancelled and since we had no quiz in my 0800 or 1300 class, and a guest speaker in my 1300 class, I skipped class.  I had a headache, but I considered it a mental health day.  Since I don't normally go into the office on Mon/Wed, I just teleworked.  I did end up going to campus to work on the software engineering group project with my group and then I stopped by Walmart to pick up the grocery order that I kept forgetting to put in.

Anyways, back to my original point, this person is probably the first nonrelative that I was close with who died from cancer.  I had spoken with her in the last year and we'd met in Charleston when she came to do reenactment events at Magnolia Plantation.  I was able to visit her at Fort Defiance during our visits to home, home.  I didn't know she was that sick though.  I knew she was fighting cancer, but from the Facebook posts, I didn't realize she was THAT sick.  I'm just sad in my heart because she was a pillar of my life.

She taught me what hard work looked like and doing things right the first time was worth it.  She also ALWAYS noticed when I'd be extra diligent tasks she'd give me, which made me feel validated that I had put in the extra effort.  She LOVED telling people about our favorite moment, which went something like this:
She was talking with another volunteer and said something about giving a kid a spanking.
I said, "You know what the Chinese say?"
Her, "No, what?"
Me, "Beat your child once a day, even if you don't know why, they do."

She loved that.  She claimed me as a daughter and she always made me feel at home.  She will be missed, dearly.

________________________________________


Stress is the fucking worst:

Wednesday appearance.

I messaged my primary care person on the VA portal for some herpaderp meds (since I forgot to get them at my Sept appt), but apparently that can take up to 3 days.  FML.

Friday: Residence established. FML

________________________________________


Weds evening, I didn't have homework to do, I didn't have house things to do.. I didn't know what to do with myself.  We walked the dogs, we ate dinner, and I ended up watching Caps play while Husband provided applicable sound effects.

Least favorite thing: The dog sitter we used while we were in Chicago used the downstairs TV like I asked him NOT to do, and now the settings are fucked up and Alexa will no longer mute the tv and it makes me stabby.  Maybe there was a software update, but I'm blaming the dog sitter because I did ask him NOT to use the downstairs TV since it's a complicated setup and I didn't want him to mess it up....

________________________________________


I have to tell you a secret, Gentle Readers.  IDGAF about Disney+.  In fact, it's hard for me to give a fuck about anything that comes through a TV screen.

Teh German admitted that he wasn't really into Friday Night Lights, as I suspected, and I reminded him that we had seasons of Modern Family to watch and we've both been LOLing at the few episodes that we've managed to watch this week, and that brings me joy.  It's really difficult for us to find new shows to watch, so I wasn't sad about Modern Family being there for us.

Anyways, Disney+.  I'm not a Star Wars fan, I'm not really a Marvel fan, and despite the fact that it's a Herculean task to get me into a movie theater to watch a movie (which hasn't happened in several years) so I've missed all the new live action releases, I'm not motivated to watch the live-action films, even though I've heard they are good (holy run-on sentence).  I guess I'll just miss out.  Or I'll do a puzzle and listen to my audiobook.  Ya know, something NOT in front of a screen.

________________________________________


I bought a "Toasted Marshmallow Mocha" pack of k-cups.  They are gross.  Makes me sad.


ZWEI - Money Shit

-Gas
-Bojangles
-Hot chocolate for Cadets
-Sam's Club subscription
-Bath and Body Works x2 (Wallflowers and lotions)
-groceries
-bully sticks
-expensive ass headphones.
-Halls Chophouse ladies dinner
-Willow doctor appointment (regular maintenance)


DREI - From My Phone Shit


I just want to show off my buttons again.
Books/reading and "Nevertheless she persisted" and German.
I feel like my bag is pretty Megan representative.

The beasts in their jammies bring me ALL THE JOY.

MERRY FUCKING HOLIDAYS YA FLITHY ANIMALS!

Now, I don't hear anything I don't want to.
#NotSorry
#OnSale, #ElCheapo

Snuggles with my Monkey-Doodle are one of the things I live for.
She just brings me so much peace when I'm stressed and uncertain or even when I'm doing ok.

This perforated garbage never actually opens when I try to "insert thumb" to open.. EVER.
Filed under: shit that makes me stabby.

We are the worst at eating ALL the breads.
That USED to be a potato hamburger bun..
and now it's a science experiment that went out with the garbage.



VIER - From the Internet Shit






And perhaps what made her beautiful was not her appearance or what she achieved,
but in her love,
and in her courage,
and her audacity to believe:
no matter the shadows around her,
light ran wild within her,
and that was the way she came alive and it showed up in everything.
-Morgan Harper Nichols




May this be a season of believing beyond what you see.
Trusting that even though you have no felt brave, you have still managed to be.
You have still managed to trust that you can carry on, despite your uncertainty.
You can choose to believe the future can be beautiful, even when it doesn't seem that way.
Remember the little things and let your have gratitude for them.
Let them remind that amidst all that of the uncertainty, there is still so much to see and take delight in.
There is so much ahead of you, and there is so much around you.
Slow down.
Take it in.
Let gratitude remind you that you are coming forth like gold, from within.
MHN




FÜNF - Things that made me happy this week

  1. Getting in the giving spirit.  Doing small things, like buying hot chocolate for the Cadets, brings me so much joy.
  2. Not having endless homework this week.  It's exhausting.
  3. COLD WEATHER IN CHARLESTON.  Like legitimately cold.  Like, setting record lows, cold.
  4. Snowflakes and Cashmere scent from Bath and Body Works.  I would buy ONLY it for the rest of my life.  I lurve it that much.  
  5. Walking the beasts with Husband.
  6. The general uplifted feeling/cheer that people tend to get into as we enter the holiday season.
  7. RAIN.  Everyone is grumbly about it.  Not me.
  8. Plans to get shit done.  See also: Seeing the end of my assignments/homework to-do list on the tracker I use.  The end of the semester is near, Gentle Readers!  IT.IS.NEAR!
  9. Work provided lunch on Thursday.. WITH SWEET TEA.
  10. Date night tonight. <3 


Happy Friday, Gentle Readers.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Fancy Beef Roast

I'm not really sure why, but Teh German LOVES one-bowl meals.  I'm not sure if it's because he does the dishes and that means less dishes, or maybe it's because he just likes mixing all his food together?  I have no idea, but any meal I can make that can be served in a bowl mixed together just makes his day.... sooo that's how I served this pot roast.  See, I do nice things for Husband.


Anyways.. on to the recipe because I hate when I have to read someone's entire fucking life story to get to the recipe.

Ingredients:

-Beef chuck roast, big enough to feed your people.
-Pot roast seasoning packet, because I'm lazy AF and that shit is delicious.
-1-2 cups of beef broth/substitute.  I use Better Than Bouillon and add the necessary water.
-Mushrooms.  I bought the biggest container of sliced mushrooms I could find, but I really like mushrooms.
-Red wine.  The only wine in our house is stuff that has been brought in by others.. I found a Chianti in the cabinet and that's what I used.
-Egg noodles
-Corn starch for sauce thickening, if you're interested in that type of thing.

Directions:

-Add beef to crockpot.
-Pour packet of seasoning over roast and on the sides.
-Add beef broth/substitute, making sure you don't wash the seasoning off the beef.  If you feel like it, you can stir the broth with the seasoning on the side, but it's probably not necessary.  Broth should almost reach the top of the roast.  Not too much, not too little.
-Set crockpot to cook on low for 8 hours.
-Go to work/school/play/do whatever it is you do to pass the day.  Ok, back to crockpot duty.
-Wash mushrooms (they sometimes grow those bad boys in more than just dirt... ok? Just wash them), then add to crockpot.
-Add at least 1 cup of your acquired wine to the crockpot.  I used "enough" wine.
-Put the lid back on.  Here's where the directions get wonky.  Depending on how much time you have before you eat will depend on how long and what temperature you use to cook the mushrooms.  We had more than an hour.  I didn't even bother to change the heat setting since the crockpot was on warm and I knew the mushrooms would cook down in that time.  If I was trying to eat quick like, I'd probably just cook the mushrooms in a pan with some of the wine, then add to crockpot.  If you're somewhere in between, you can set the temp to high and cook until the mushrooms are done, which probably won't take more than 30 mins or so.
-When the mushrooms are almost done cooking, start boiling the water for the egg noodles and use a measuring cup or something to obtain some/enough liquid from the crockpot and put it into a pan (this will be your gravy).
-Create a slurry of corn starch with water and add to the pan with pot roast juices or just add corn starch directly to the pot roast juices and whisk thoroughly to break up the clumps (this is risky business, but it's what I did because I like to live dangerously).  Simmer/boil (depending on time/your thickness preferences) sauce until you'e tired of waiting/your egg noodles are done cooking/your sauce/gravy is thick enough.

Serve beef and mushrooms over noodles and cover with sauce/gravy.

This was definitely a hit and I'll certainly be making it again... I mean.. I need to use the rest of this Chianti since no one in this house is going to drink it!

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Weekend Review {11/04} - Pack Up and Go Anniversary Trip!

THURSDAY

As we do, we pregamed our anniversary by giving out Halloween candy.  I actually had a massage before coming home to start the anniversary weekend off right.  #NoShame.


By 8, the trick-or-treaters had stopped coming.  We had went inside and turned off the porch lights by 7:30 since it was such a trickle, but I noticed a family at our neighbor's house across the street, knocking on the door, since they have a solar light in the their front yard that is always on.  There were 2 small kids and a stroller and that neighbor doesn't do Halloween, so I turned our lights back on and went out with a handful of candy to split amongst the kids after telling the mom that their light is a fake-out.  You could tell she was frustrated and tired, acceptable since it was 8pm and she was walking around a neighborhood in the dark with her small kids, but I felt like my good deed of the day was complete.

I still hadn't packed for our trip, so I headed upstairs to take care of that task.  It was difficult to pack since I didn't know where we were going.  I knew it was a high of 45°F while we were there, but I didn't know if it was a dry cold or wet cold.. so I ended up packing 3 shirts for each day and bringing my ski coat and hat and scarf.  I was definitely overpacked, but it was better than being underpacked, in this situation.


Eventually, Teh German came upstairs and did his packing and it was bedtime.


FRIDAY

We were instructed to be at the airport at 0445 on Friday morning for our flight at 0615.  Teh German was in a weird mood, but we powered through it.  I finally told him that I wanted to be more excited, but I felt like that would irritate him, which would only make him more grouchy, so I couldn't even be as excited as I felt.  Happy anniversary! loool

We finally opened the envelope when we got downstairs.  I had brought the envelope upstairs to open, just in case, but with Teh German's mood, I didn't bother.  I also knew that I had packed for every possible situation, so nothing needed to be added/could be added to my suitcase, so come what may.

After Teh German took half my life opening the envelope, I finally had to be like, "JUST OPEN THE FOLDER!" when he couldn't get the papers unstuck from each other to see the destination.  Just thinking about it 5 days later gives me anxiety all over again.

These are fake smiles.
Kinda.
We were excited, but we were tired and I had just been impatient..

We headed to the airport, walked right through security (yay TSA pre-check), and headed to our gate to wait.  When we arrived in Chicago, we requested a Lyft to get us to our hotel (Ace Hotel) to drop off our luggage.


After over 45 minutes of awkward silence since it was a shared ride and no one seemed interested in chatting, we finally made it to our hotel.  We put on warm socks, dropped off our bags, used the bathroom, sat in a super shitty, overpriced photobooth, and then requested another Lyft to bring us downtown for breakfast and touristy things.


So with Pack Up + Go, your transportation is arranged and your hotel is reserved.  These items are covered in your budget.  If there is money leftover, entertainment tickets may be purchased.  In your packet you also receive suggestions of places to eat/things to do and we/I tried to take advantage of these suggestions as much as possible, even though I still googled "things to do in Chicago" and scoured through the lists multiple times.

For breakfast, we went to Wildberry Pancakes and Cafe (or something like that).  We ordered coffee while we waited the 5 minutes to be seated.  Theeeennn, when we sat down, Teh German spilled his coffee all over everything.  Oops.  He was, understandably, frustrated, but it was no problem to get it cleaned up and I asked for a refill for him and there was no charge.  Despite how busy it was, our food arrived quick and it was deeeelicious.  I had a mushroom omlette and an Oreo smores pancakes and there were ZERO regrets.


After breakfast, we headed to Millennium Park to check out The Bean (or Sky Cloud or whatever) and the face fountains (although the fountains were turned off).  I almost lost my mind in the airplane as we landed when I noticed that Chicago was covered in snow!  I relished in the white stuff and the cold.







After the park, we weren't really sure what to do so we opted to do a city architecture tour by boat.  Thankfully, Groupon had a deal, so we went with that.  On our way there, we hit up a bathroom because I'm the Queen of Sensitive Stomachs.


The tour was pretty cool.  Least favorite part was the drops of melting stuff falling from the bridges that we passed under.  I can't say I remember much, but it was nice getting to see a different perspective of the city and hearing some history things.  Also, the smell of chocolate from the facotyr on the one side of the city did not disappoint.

RIVER runnin HIGH
run DEEP run WILD




The corncobs are my fave Chi buildings.

Every.single.time.not.sorry.
After our boat tour, we looked for a brewery that Teh German had seen from the boat.  Turns out, it wasn't open, which was pretty disappointing.  So we decided to walk back to the area of our hotel, so that when it was ready we could go take a nap.

#BookHunter

I found a brewery over by our hotel, Ballast Point, so we stopped in to pass some time.  The bartender actually tried to find a beer for me that I like, giving me many tastes.  I ended up with the one that tasted the most like a yeast roll, which apparently means it's really malty?  IDK.  That's what he said.


Finally, our room was ready and we walked over to get checked in and moved in.  Ace Hotel was pretty cool, but different from an average hotel, kinda.  It was very hipster.  Lots of reclaimed materials.  Although, Teh German was most pumped about a record player being in our room.  There was also a bluetooth radio/speaker that we connected to and played our own music through a few times.  Things we did not touch: anything that was provided in the room since everything cost half a millionty dollars.





Even some old records for the record player.
Teh German didn't like any of them, so there were no records played.

After getting settled, we took a nap.  The only disappoinment for the entire trip was that we had to be up SUPER early to get to the airport and there were tickets for a 10:30PM show that same day.. Uhhh wut?  No thanks.  But, they were already paid for, so we made it work.  Pack Up + Go had also made dinner reservations for us at a place called Little Goat Diner, also very hipster....  I think it was that part of town.

Kinda looks like Meri.. and it spun, which brought me great joy.

The food was absolutely delicious.  Unfortunately for me, I ordered the special and when it arrived, the burger slid off the bun and I discovered jalapenos.  The menu hadn't said anything about jalapenos, which is why I ordered what I did (I can't eat spicy food), so I had to send it back and ask for it to be made with no jalapenos/like what the menu stated.  When it arrived, I ended up eating half of it, then stripped off the bun to prioritize noms.  We also ordered some homefries with pork belly and cilantro and that shizzz was deeeeeeeelicious.

homefries

burger with mushrooms and cheese...
and jalapenos, which was returned.

After dinner, we requested a Lyft and headed to the comedy club where our show tickets were for.  Conveniently, there was a brewery across the street, so we stopped in to pass the time.  I tried another beer, but wasn't overly pleased.  There was some interesting people watching going on.

I'm not really sure how our driver could see out her nasty ass windshield.
It was giving me anxiety just riding with it like that.


Shitty = Chicago breweries charging $1 for stickers.  In Charleston, stickers are free.  Teh German refuses to pay for stickers, so nothing new for the beer fridge from the breweries.  Oh well.

No photos from the show, but it was excellent.  The show was called Riff and it was musical improv.. and as someone who likes to make up their own lyrics to songs, I was curious and excited about this masterpiece.  Because our tickets were for the 10:30 show, we were 2 of 5 people in the audience.  This actually was great because it was an audience participation/suggestion show and it meant that almost all of my ridiculous suggestions were used.  No photos were taken, but I highly recommend musical improv for forever. 

After the show, we considered hanging around the bar to hang out with the performers, butttt Teh German was at that point of intoxication that more beer would not improve his performance (that was not an innuendo), so I said I was tired and we went back to the hotel.

When we got back, it was bedtime.


SATURDAY

Saturday morning was a slow start.  I planned our weekend activities while Teh German scrolled, which kinda annoyed me that I still had to plan things to do... despite paying someone else to do such things.  Yes, we had suggestions, but they weren't really enough for 2 days considering that it was cold outside.  The suggestions seemed like they were more for a summer trip to Chicago since there were a lot of outside activities, not a trip where it was in the 30s/40s for the majority of the day.

Ultimately, it was decided that we'd get breakfast near the Museum of Science and Industry, then we'd grab dinner, then we'd go on a Gangsters and Ghosts walking tour in the evening.

No breakfast/lunch pics because I was starving and it was delicious.  We went to a place called Salonia (sp?) that seemed to be mostly Greek themed.  The tzatziki sauce was definitely homemade and delicious.  After lunch, we walked to the Museum of Science and Industry.  We spent 4 hours there and we explored almost everything.  It was AWESOME.  I even got to practice my German since there was a captured German U-boat in the museum.  Yes, an entire submarine, inside the museum.

check!



U-505


After the U-Boat, we headed to the flight simulator area.  Teh German has always wanted to do a flight simulator and every time we're in Pax River, we never get to do it for various reasons.  So this time, I made it a mission.

Final results: Teh German was the pilot and I was the gunner.  Teh German said it was WAY harder than he expected.  Also, we only got to "practice" for 3 minutes before going in the simulator, so really it was more about being turned upside down, which Teh German ensured we were upside down for no less than 40% of the flight time, which was 3-ish minutes?  IDK, but it felt like a REALLY long time to be upside down for. We managed to kill 1 target.  I just wanted to hit one thing.. because ya know, realistic expectations and all.


After the flight sim, we checked out the other exhibits (weather, human anatomy and behavior, a model of Chicago with running trains, etc).

We "visited" the Sears Tower! HA!

Finally, the museum closed and we headed out.  We were near the lake-front, so we walked over to collect some shells for our travel jar.  After, we walked back to the museum and took a taxi back to downtown.  There were some issues trying to get a Groupon for the tour we wanted in the evening, so that had to be handled by yours truly (me, duh) and we headed to Lou Malnati's for dinner. 



We had to wait for a bit, but after being seated for a while and getting some water (we were both super dehydrated), things started to improve.  We shared the "Lou" pizza and a small chocolate chip cookie pizza desert thing, and both items were delicious.  When I came to Chicago in July 2018 for the Rock n Roll race with Matilda and Teh Running Bestie, we tried Lou's and I wasn't overly impressed.. I think it was because we ordered it to go and it wasn't hot by the time we got back to our hotel.  Hotness matters.



After dinner, we lingered at our table for a bit, waiting for some time to pass before heading to the meeting place of the tour.  Mostly, it was the history of Al Capone with some other morbid stuff thrown in about haunted places (i.e. the Chicago river, anywhere in the vicinity of where Al Capone did business, the Congress hotel).  We walked some, but it wasn't too much walking, which was good since we were walked out from the museum.




We made a stop at Palmer House, the birthplace of the brownie, to check out the ballroom where Al Capone helped make many jazz singers famous and to get a brownie.  Teh German also ordered a gin and tonic, because he's fannnncy.

It was more like fudge with nuts on top.
Not bad, but mine are better.


Other photos along the way:



The starting point of Route 66.

After the tour, we walked a short way back to the park for leaves for the trip jar, then we requested a Lyft back to our hotel.  Teh German had suggested checking out the rooftop bar, but once we got back to the room, he was content with just going to bed.  *Insert all the praise hand emojis* lol.


SUNDAY

Saturday night before bed, we placed our room service order so we could have breakfast in bed on Sunday morning.  I was worried that the food would be sub-par, but it was fabulous... it was also messy, so there were no photos taken.  Oh well. 



I had to motivated Teh German to start getting ready, since I didn't want to have a SUPER late start to the day.  He didn't like it, but he didn't sigh too heavily.  The plan of the day was to go to an open air market that was held every Sunday, then go to the Navy Pier, then maybe check out the Museum of Broadcast Communications, then grab dinner, then head back to the hotel to pick up our luggage, then to the airport.

The day ended up going like this:
We got a Lyft to the market and it was a bust.  Since we'd already eaten, there wasn't really anything to do there, since it was mostly a flea market type of market.  IDK why, but I expected something more like what Germany and Amsterdam had.  Silly European expectations, Megan.

Our Lyft driver offered all the charging cables, tissues, and water!
5 stars.

Since the market was a bust, we requested another Lyft to the Navy Pier and explored there for a bit.  We checked out the shops and bought our Christmas ornament and some stickers for the beer fridge/my laptop.  The most tourist-tastic thing we did was ride the overpriced ferris wheel, but it was still kinda cool because the views were awesome and there was no line, which meant no wait.






After walking to the end of the pier, we headed back and stopped at one of the tavern places for a snack (cheese turds and then milkshakes from Ben & Jerry).  We passed some time and determined our next activity.  I checked out the broadcast museum and it looked less interesting after I saw all the clowns and puppets on the website.  I was thinking of something like the Newseum in DC, so I told Teh German it was ok if we passed on that. 

We ultimately decided to check out the planetarium, which meant another Lyft there.  Our other option was the aquarium, but since we have one of those in Charleston, we opted for the planetarium. 

It was cool enough, but we were through all the exhibits in about 45 minutes, which was kinda disappointing to both of us, I think.  If I would have known it wouldn't take long to get through, I would have voted for going to the aquarium instead.  Live and learn.




After the planetarium, we requested a Lyft take us to a brewery near our hotel.  We passed almost 2 hours there, scrolling and having beverages.  We did eventually split a burger for dinner since neither of us were overly hungry, but I didn't want to have to endure shitty overpriced airport food.


Since it was on the way to our hotel, we stopped by "the best" donut place in Chicago, Do-Rite Donuts.  I remembered walking by this place at one point and later, I saw it on a "best of" list, so I told Teh German we should stop in.  I got a peanut butter and jelly donut after explaining that we weren't from Chicago and saw that they were the best donut place in town.  Then, the guy at the counter said they were about to close and if we wanted more he'd toss them in for free since they were going to have to throw the donuts away.  I said ok and took whatever they tossed in the bag and Teh German and I agreed that we'd give the bag to the hotel staff when we picked up our luggage.



From the hotel, we passed off the donuts and picked up our luggage and requested a Lyft to the airport.  Again, thank God for TSA pre-check, where we only had to wait a few minutes before breezing through security.  It probably would have taken at least 30-45 minutes in the main security line.

Those exhausted airport faces.

We landed back in Charleston at 11:45pm and headed home to the beasts.  They were excited to see us and vice versa.  It was immediately bedtime after getting teeth brushed since Monday was normal operations.

______________________________________________

So would I recommend Pack Up + Go?  Yes, but only once.

It was fun to have a surprise destination.  It built up the excitement, but the thing I was most looking forward to was not having to plan anything and I still ended up having to plan things.  If I wanted to do another surprise trip, I'd find someone who knows us and enjoys trip planning and give them my budget and let them plan the trip from start to finish.  The "knows us" part is important because someone that knows us would never plan a 10:30pm comedy show for us to attend, EVER.  Especially if we had to wake up at 0330 that morning.  That comedy club had shows every night at various time, so it's not like tickets for other shows, or even that same show weren't available at earlier times or on a different day.

There were suggestions for things to do, but there's only so much time you can spend at The Bean when it's 32°F and the wind is blowing off the lake.  We spent more than $150 in Lyft rides over the weekend because Chicago is not a close city and our hotel was a 30 minute walk from mid-downtown... at least 45 minutes from the Navy Pier/Millennium Park.  Thankfully, there were some places around our hotel to pass time, but still, nothing was really convenient.  Having a rental car wouldn't have been better since we would have had to navigate to places, plus pay to park everywhere.  We could have taken the L, but I'm horrible with public transportation so the cost savings isn't worth the frustration.  Also, Chicago is well known for not being the safest city, so I wasn't walking anywhere after dark.  In fact, Saturday night's Lyft driver said, I knew you weren't from here when I saw where you were waiting for me.  🤷 #IgnoranceIsBliss

Even though it was a rough start, it was a good anniversary celebration.  We got to enjoy the cold for 3 days before coming back to Charleston, where the temperature was double what we had enjoyed all weekend.  I texted with Matilda and Teh Bestie frequently throughout the weekend, reliving our 2018 Chicago journey. 

If you're interested in more details of our Pack Up + Go trip, email me with questions.  I'm happy to answer inquiries.  But now.. it's back to the real world/grind.  Thanksgiving break is coming, but not soon enough for this semester's roller coaster ride, which I am over.  AAAnnnddd Teh Bestie will be here on Friyay!