Blog ideas that don’t deserve a full post

26 Aug
Night caps -- warm and comfortable!

Night caps — warm and comfortable!

I keep a running list of blog ideas, and whenever an idea strikes me, I add it to my list. Many of these ideas turn into real live blog posts; and some of them have been on the list for so long that they’ve never seen the light of day.

So, today, I present to you: The top four blog ideas that don’t deserve more than a sentence or two.

  1. My friends Tanya and Aaron live in the West Loop near the Blommer Chocolate Company. That means their neighborhood always has a strong bittersweet smell of chocolate. That must be weird, right?
  2. Adding the word “extravaganza” after anything is an easy way to make something boring sound awesome. Tonight I’m having a flossing extravaganza! Will you join me for my Walgreen prescription refill extravaganza? Looking forward to our apartment cleaning extravaganza!
  3. Two cell phones ago, I used to have a Palm Pre, which was a pretty rare (but amazing) brand of phone. When I saw strangers in public using their Palm Pre phones, I felt like we were long-lost cousins and I felt the need to bond with them about our shared special object.
  4. For a Halloween costume a few years ago, Adam and I bought matching fuzzy onesie penguin pajamas, and they came with a night cap (pictured here). On a cold, winter night, oh boy does that night cap keep me warm.

A post about lasagna

19 Aug

lasagnaSome weeks I use this space to write about important, meaningful issues like pre-wedding jitters, travel, or social media banking; but today, I’m going to write about lasagna.

Not that I need to justify what I decide to write about on a weekly basis, because, well, it’s my blog and I can do what I want, but I just think it’s important sometimes to slow down and really ponder life’s cheesy questions, like finding the perfect combination of noodles, sauce, and cheese.

I loooove pasta. It is definitely my favorite food (okay, maybe together with a well-balanced meal of pizza and ice cream) and I try not to let food rule my moods, but I just can’t help but smile when eating my beloved noodles.

But lasagna and I have always had a somewhat tepid relationship. Something about the dish doesn’t do it for me. It’s usually pretty hard to cut, and it’s impossible to make it look pretty on your plate — it’s either way too small or it’s sloppy, and you’re embarrassed because it takes up more space on your plate than the salad and veggies. You feel lasagnashamed.

Then there’s the question of the extras. Is this spinach lasagna? Fine. Meat lasagna? Sorry, can’t eat that! In a large group or potluck setting, until you cut into it, you often are in the dark about what additional items are lurking in the dark cheesy noodles.

Finally, the taste. It’s just not my favorite. I could never really put my finger on it, but it just has never called to me the way other types of pasta say, “Liaaaaaaa, come eat meeeeeeeee.”

But — and now here’s the point — I now know why. The culprit: Ricotta cheese.

A few weeks ago, I ate lasagna that was served at a Shabbat meal, lovingly cooked by the kosher dairy restaurant EJ’s Pizzeria. People could not get enough of it; strangers came up to me asking if I knew where the food was from. It was the best lasagna I’ve ever had, and I heard a faint voice coming from the tin container, begging me to get more. (The voice of my wedding dress, though, was also calling me and begging me to stay the same size.)

Upon further inspection, dissecting each of the layers carefully, I found noodles, marinara sauce, and mozzarella cheese. No ricotta as most lasagnas have. Eureka! I don’t like ricotta cheese!

I feel like I’ve been born again. I really CAN like lasagna! We CAN coexist in this small world together. Just as long as we don’t invite that awful ricotta.

Luckily for my wedding dress, I haven’t seen any other lasagnas like this anywhere else yet. Or, well … maybe it does exist, but just under the nickname “baked ziti”?

Okay, back to pondering life’s big questions. See you never, ricotta.

Loved your outfit from yesterday

12 Aug

And now, presenting a memory that always makes me giggle.

At a previous job, there was a woman who worked in the front desk who always commented on my outfits.

Each day, when I passed her desk, she’d take a long glance at what I was wearing and share her comments.

One day, let’s call it Monday, she said, “Wow, Lia, those earrings are so pretty on you.”

On Tuesday: “Lia, your bright blue sweater is gorgeous!”

Then Wednesday’s observation: “I absolutely love your scarf, Lia, I love the way the purple and the teal work together.”

And then, on Thursday, she looked at me from head to toe, and said, “Oh, Lia, I really loved the outfit you were wearing yesterday!”

I guess not all of the outfits can be winners!

Trying to control my wedding subconscious

5 Aug

For my upcoming October wedding, as a somewhat Type A bride, there’s a lot I’m trying to control.

I don’t think I’ve become Bridezilla, but I’ve spent 28 years daydreaming about this special day and I have a vision I’d like to achieve. I’m choosing specific flowers (I now know my new favorite flowers are dahlias and ranunculuses!), I have songs I’d like the band to play (and not play), and I’m designing our invitations myself.

But I’m realizing that there’s one aspect of wedding planning that I can’t control and it is driving me crazy. It’s my stupid subconscious.

I’m not one who usually remembers my dreams — I rarely had those “oh-no-I-forgot-about-the-math-test-and-here-I-am-running-late-to-school-and-I’m-wearing-my-bathrobe-and-bunny slippers” nightmares, at least that I could remember. But leading up to our wedding, the nightmares have begun.

It’s not monsters and zombies that scare me overnight. What frightens me awake are the visions of the hair stylist not showing up, the bridesmaids forgetting what day it is, taking my dress out of the box and it is salmon colored (yes, even in my dreams, I’m picturing colors by their Pantone names), the chuppah being an enclosed phonebooth-like box where no one could see us during the ceremony, and the photographer’s pictures turning out horribly. And that was all one real, horrible midsummer night’s dream!

The truth is — I know the wedding is going to be great. It will be perfect because I’m marrying Adam, who is wonderful and loving and calm. It will be perfect because we will be surrounded by our friends and family who love us. And it will be perfect because at the end of the day, love is the winner. Things will go wrong, mishaps will happen, someone will forget to put out the place cards, but it will still be Our Wedding Day.

So why can’t my dreams CALM DOWN?

Is there a way to send a message to my subconscious? “Hey, whoever’s listening deep in there … these dreams have been getting a little crazy recently and are kind of stressing me out. Can we tone them down a bit?”

While I have spent a lot of time planning our wedding, the majority of it has been fun and even relaxing for me. I like meeting with florists and I enjoy trying on dresses. Even choosing linen colors is fun. But my nightmares are taking my fun and exciting reality and MAKING. ME. SCARED.

I’m sure this is normal, and I’d love to hear about other people’s pre-wedding night terrors. Is there a trick to make them stop?

I guess I can’t control everything. My brain is clearly bored while I’m sleeping (come on, brain, isn’t there an episode of “Everybody Loves Raymond” that you can find in there? That show is always on somewhere) and so it wants to mess with me.

But what I can control is focusing on all of the love, all of the friendship, all of the family, and all of the many years of happiness in our future as husband and wife — and, okay, maybe spending a few minutes every day daydreaming about my bouquet of dark red dahlias.

Someone put a lot of energy into that graffiti

29 Jul

Walking through downtown Chicago, on Michigan Avenue, I recently saw this on a temporary construction wall:

2015-07-21 19.25.49

I’m not normally a fan of graffiti or defacing public property, but if you’re going to do it, I guess this is the way to go.


When I walked by this wall a few days later, the markings were covered up in black paint. I understand not wanting to encourage criminals, but this perhaps this particular work of art/science deserved to stay up, educating the city’s residents and tourists as they pass through an ugly construction tunnel.

Regular criminals: Stop damaging our neighborhood.

Math/science geek criminals: Keep doing what you’re doing. You are making a difference.

A great blog post … but I forgot it so you’ll never read it

22 Jul

This blog post was going to be so good.

You would have loved it, really. It was going to be so up your alley and so universal. It might have even been my defining piece as a blogger and as a writer.

I would have used it as a writing sample next time I needed to produce one.

But, alas, this blog post will never live to see the light of day.

You see, the idea came to me a few weeks ago, while watching Fourth of July fireworks with Adam and our friends Alyssa and Avi. I made some comment and the conversation went like this.

Lia: “[hilariously observant thought on the world, something that would have made Jerry Seinfeld proud]

Avi: “That would make a great blog post.”

Adam: “Yeah, you should totally write about that.”

Lia: “Definitely. I’ll make a mental note of it and maybe write it for next week.”

Alyssa: “Can’t wait to read it!”

Lia’s brain: “We don’t do ‘mental notes.’ You either write down the idea or it’s down the drain.”

I have been known, from time to time, to slip into what my brother has lovingly named “Blog Mode.” There I’ll be, in the middle of a regular conversation, and I’ll say something like this:

“By the way, what’s the deal with the phrase ‘Have a good one!’? Does it even mean anything? Have a good what? It’s a useless waste of words.”

My brother, or whoever else knows me well enough, will say, “Blog post!” I’ll think to myself, yes, that’s a great idea, I’ll be sure to remember that.

And there I am, the following Tuesday night, calling Michael to see if he remembers what that brilliant rant was all about.

It’s not that I have a shortage of places to write down ideas. I keep a running list of blog ideas in a Google Doc, accessible easily on my phone and computer; I carry a reporter’s notebook in my purse; and when in doubt, there’s usually a pen and a napkin around somewhere. The problem is just that I rely too much on my ever-failing memory — or, perhaps, that my memory used to be much better but then years of relying on notebooks and cell phones have diminished my memory for these kinds of ideas into mush.

So, dear friends, next time you hear me speak in “Blog Mode” or mention an idea that might be a good blog idea, please, make me stop what I’m doing and write it down. Otherwise the post will go where potential blog post ideas go to die, which would be sad for everyone.

Oh! I just had a great idea! I should blog about how often I forget my blog ideas! Good thing I just wrote the post so I don’t have to rely on my non-trustworthy memory.

A petition about gerrymandering for you, him, her over there, but not you over here

15 Jul
Gerrymandering, thank you Google definitions, is manipulating the boundaries of an electoral constituency so as to favor one party or class (as illustrated in Chicago's 4th congressional district)

“Gerrymandering” means “manipulating the boundaries of an electoral constituency so as to favor one party or class” (thank you Google definitions), as illustrated here in Chicago’s 4th congressional district

At two different Chicago summer festivals last weekend, I saw volunteers with clipboards approaching festivalgoers.

“Excuse me, can I get you to sign this petition against gerrymandering?”

Other than thinking, “Cool!!! I love it when strangers ask me to sign petitions when I’m in the middle of doing something else!,” I chuckled to myself while having a different thought.

What the volunteers should have said was this:

“Excuse me, can I get you, you, you in the blue shirt, but not you three on the left over there, and everyone in this general area from the tall curly-haired man all the way to the right of the girl in the white sandals, but not including the girl in the white sandals, to sign this petition about gerrymandering?”

I should totally quit my day job and become a volunteer signature-collector.


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