Veggie Delights

29 May

I’m writing occasionally for the new site The Local Tourist here in Chicago.

My latest article concerns two things dear to my heart – amazing restaurants and vegetables:

http://chicago.thelocaltourist.com/news/brookesmay/5-vegetarian-friendly-restaurants-chicago

Peach Salad

Centipedes

2 Apr

If you have a centipede problem in your apartment,
get a boyfriend.
There is literally no other solution.

Centipede

Juice = The Worst

12 Aug

I’m on day two of a three day juice cleanse and I hate everything about everything.

For those uninitiated into the world of “cleanses” and “juicing,” this (very expensive) 3-day commitment requires one to consume 6 – 16 oz. juices of different vegetable, fruit and poo varieties each day, while abstaining from solids, coffee and beer. It’s so dumb.

Green Machine or some shit

There’s a green juice, which is the devil. A red one, which makes me whimper when I think about it. A lemonade, which is actually pretty refreshing and a cashew milk (yes, apparently that’s a thing) that tastes like melted Christmas ice cream.

From this description I deduct that next time I feel the need to “cleanse,” I should just drink lemonade and eat ice cream for 3 days – BOOM CLEANSED. Colon unblocked, skin clear, waistline shrunken, all without bouts of hangry (hungry + angry) crying.

I mean really. A juice cleanse? I’ve become those people I hate.

Wish me luck!

In Defense of Cat Ladies

30 Apr

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Crazy cat ladies.

It’s one of many common negative associations with people who own cats. Especially women. Women who own cats get told on the reg., “you know Snuggles will eat your face after you die alone in your apartment, right?”

But I’m here to defend us. The crazy cat ladies.

Cats are marvelous. They fill our lives with playtime, curiosity and a healthy dose of attitude. They share our hatred of bugs, loud scary nighttime noises and sleeping alone. They cuddle, purr and fall off things with enough regularity that we find them irresistible. Sure, they might also nibble on a rotting corpse after a few days but that’s simply incentive to avoid bite-sized snacks and extended days in bed, alone, watching Breaking Bad.

As cat people, we know deep down that our cats are just like every cat ever in the history of the world. Our cat naps in an impossibly uncomfortable looking position (adorable) and wakes us up with a slap to the face each morning (annoying, but still pretty cute). This is just like your cat, and your friends’ cat and your mom’s cat. But just like parents with chubby preteens hell-bent on playing soccer, we’re still going to proudly show off pictures and make noises like “squeee!” and “oooooo” every time they do something perfectly ordinary.

It’s science.

Honestly, anyone who “doesn’t like cats,” simply hasn’t spent enough time around one to form a connection. Cats exhibit empathy, get annoyed, make rational connections and are generally much smarter than I always expect. A cat could fully learn the same tricks that dogs learn, but they make the conscious choice to stare with murder eyes at the stupid treat you’re offering and then leave the room abruptly.

It’s that exact self-confidence and independence that makes crazy cat ladies everywhere swoon. From dawn till night, we’re jumping through hoops, succeeding and striving and people-pleasing until we think we’ll collapse in on ourselves like that sinkhole that swallowed a bunch of cars last week. From work to relationships and friendships to parents and personal goals, we don’t simply walk away or lie down for a nap. It’s refreshing to see the exact opposite in action. It gives us strength. You go Glen Coco.

So the next time you’re tempted to defriend someone over their cat pics or leave an aggressively angry comment on a YouTube video; think about the lessons and love that little tabby represents. There’s a lot more going on there than, “Kitty Jumping into Soda Box.” 

Unbroken

16 Jan

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By Laura Hilllenbrand

Plot: Unbroken (by the author of Seabiscuit) is a stylized biographical nonfiction story that tugs your heartstrings from page one. You will immediately fall in love with Olympic runner, dashing fly-boy, wounded hero - Louis Zamperini. His incredible story is so tragically fantastic, you’ll wonder why you haven’t heard it before. Similar to Seabiscuit, Louie is an underdog who redeems himself and runs (literally) straight through the obstacles and into greatness. Starting with his troubled childhood, the story follows Louie through high school track & field, the Olympic trials, and all the way into Japan’s filthy, abusive WWII POW camps. You’ll root for him and hurt for him, tearing up at the unconditional love and devotion of the close-knit family who never, ever stops believing.

Tone: Chock-full of historical facts, figures, and anecdotes, it’s easy to get mired in the weeds of detail in this extremely well-researched book, but don’t be intimidated. The story is compelling and the characters, though certainly gilded into perfection by they storyteller’s memories, are likable and compassionate enough to get your through. Plus, much of the included historical details are mind-blowing (ex: did you know that  during 1943, for every Air Force plane lost in combat in the Pacific, SIX were lost through operational accidents? SIX).

Confession:  As with all biographical works recreated into stories – I can’t help but wonder which parts are real and which parts are author adaptations, liberties and embellishments brought on by the simple goal of selling more books. Still, I hope they make this into a movie starring newly hot Joseph Gordon Levitt.

Disclaimer: If you don’t like history, you probably won’t like this book.

Pros: I feel like I learned a lot about WWII, which my Grandaddy would totally be proud of.

Cons: I read too quickly and didn’t absorb many of the small details like I should have. I came away with the turkey, not the trimmings.

Keep it in the library or donate it to the book-man down the street: Keep it. It’s inspiring.

4 Star rating!

Gone Girl

7 Jan

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By Gillian Flynn

Plot: A man’s brilliant, beautiful wife goes missing under mysterious circumstances from their McMansion on the Mississippi river. Divided into three separate page-turner sections, this book keeps you guessing from the first paragraph. Without giving anything away (surprise is key), I’ll warn you that you’ll find yourself waffling between certainty of a character’s cold-blooded murderous past to confusion, dismay and pure dread over “who dunnit.” The story includes a smattering of modern economic realism, legalese, a study on public opinion and the idea of a fair trial in a media saturated landscape. Flynn boasts a supreme mastery of language, character development and plot manipulation.

Tone: It’s part psychological thriller, part murder mystery, which feels like a love story at heart. It will give you nightmares and have you rooting for and then against every character with each turn of the page. (I really did have nightmares about rivers and murders and empty mansions and Brooklyn brownstones).

Confession: I read this book in less than 24 hours.

Disclaimer: I did have the day off from work – but still that’s really fast okay.

Pros: Page-turner, well written, characters and situations are easy to identify with, plot is winningly complex without causing confusion or disinterest.

Cons: You’ll read it too fast and then wish it wasn’t over. Also, it might make you hate 1) men 2) women c) relationships 4) Missouri d) all of the above.

Keep it in the library or donate it to the book-man down the street: KEEP IT BUY IT BUY MORE GIVE THEM TO FRIENDS GO TO A BOOK SIGNING

Five star rating!

Out Stealing Horses

7 Jan

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By Per Petterson

Plot: An old Swedish dude lives alone with his dog in some fixer upper house in some lonely Swedish forrest. In a twist of fate only ever present in poorly crafted novels, a childhood acquaintance turns out to live next door, bringing on wave after wave of nostalgic memories of a summer long past, where something happened, the narrator (Trond. Yes, seriously.) swears, without every really coming out and explaining wtf it was.

Tone: This book made me feel cold because it’s set in lonely rural places, mostly during the winter. It also made me sad because apparently Swedish people are super lonely and self-isolating, even when they’re around people. It also made me feel bored.

Confession: I skipped some pages toward the end because I just didn’t care anymore.

Disclaimer: this book (disappointingly) had very little to do with horses and even less to do with stealing them.

Pros: It was pretty short.

Cons: It still felt really long.

Keep in the library or donate to the book-man down the street: DONATE with a capital D.

1.5 Star Rating

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