I really should put things here more often.

IMG_0145Urban beach party! This shit was the jam.

Well, here we are again. Months ago, I recounted the harrowing tale of my new life in Amsterdam. At this point, I’ve forgotten all about that crap. But at the time, it sucked. A whole fucking lot. (Ok, so I haven’t forgotten. The world and particularly the absurd Dutch bureaucracy spent many months telling me to pack up and go back to America. It was infuriating. I might still be a little bit angry.)

BUT. The point is, it’s over now. And guess what? THINGS ARE SO MUCH BETTER! In fact, I feel like I can basically live my life now and the Dutch government isn’t trying to make each day a living hell anymore! So that’s nice. (I’m not being sarcastic. It really is nice!)

But the REAL point is, I’ve been doing so many things and I haven’t written about any of them! It’s a total disaster. (Not the doing things part, just the failing to record it part.) I guess that’s what happens when you live a fast-paced, crazy, completely unreasonable lifestyle.

(I’ve gotta say, I really never expected to be living this kind of life. It’s a bit mad, really. But I love it, so who’s complaining?)

But here’s the kicker: there are two sides to every story. There’s the “my life is insane!” story (in a good way). On this side are some of the absurd things I’ve done over the past many months, such as:

  • Sledding down the side of a mountain in Switzerland while slightly tispy
  • Pouring honey rum into someone’s mouth from the top of a human pyramid 4m tall
  • Watching my father get hilariously hammered at a Gin Festival
  • Climbing on the roof of a building while very intoxicated against the advice of pretty much everybody
  • Drunkenly running around naked in a children’s playground in a London suburb at 3am
  • Falling off my bike while inebriated. Doing it again a month later.

(If you hadn’t noticed, I like synonyms. But also, I promise I’m not always drunk.)

But, you see, there’s also another side to this story. There are all the very sober, very real “my life is insane!” moments that seem to scare the shit out of my non-insane friends. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard “Um, you seriously need a vacation” or “WTF are you doing with your life?” or “You’re doing WAY more than one might consider normal” or the horrified stares I get when I say my next weekend at home isn’t for 2 months.

And to all those people, here’s what I have to say: you are right. This is totally unsustainable. I’m addicted to having a completely unreasonable schedule and I don’t know how to stop!

IMG_0029This is my “I am trying to be normal” face. Convincing, right?

But with all the bad comes the good, right? And lately, it feels like the good has been even better and more fun, so I don’t exactly want to stop, despite the fact that I am highly aware I might just drop dead from stress at any moment. But it’s worth it, damnit! #livingontheedge

[Cue: wine. I am drinking it now. Because why should I start being reasonable NOW? That would just be absurd.]

So, instead of listening to all the reasonable people in my life, I am doing EVERYTHING and loving it. Who needs sanity anyway? ALSO, I’ve realized I have a backlog of half-written posts about some of the aforementioned adventures, which I am planning to finish right now. Because, why not? Also, wine.

Get ready. The deluge is coming. And this time, I’m not fucking around.*

*She said for the millionth time.

******************

[Next time, on Christina’s totally unreasonable adventures: I’m about to spend a week in Belgium! Let’s see how much trouble I can get into there.]

The Turnaround

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I knew this moment would come eventually. The moment when life suddenly felt right-side-up again. The moment when I stopped “trying to be” and started “being” an Amsterdammer. The moment when, sure, life was still scary and different and I’m still not really sure what I’m doing, but that’s just life so who cares where I am when I feel those things?

It’s been a month since my last post, and it’s not because I was lacking things to write about. There are several half-written posts sitting in my drafts folder that I just never managed to finish. That time I went to Carnival in Den Bosch. The fact that I’ve started cooking good food again. All the craft beer I’ve been drinking. That time I biked 50km round-trip to Haarlem and drank at a brewery inside a church.

But I never finished writing those posts because, frankly, it’s hard to write honestly and sound like yourself when you’re not really feeling like yourself. And basically since I arrived in Amsterdam, I’ve felt a bit like a ghost watching myself try to live this new life. But I wasn’t actually living it yet.

There have been many low points, including one night where I sent my boss a very emotional email at 9:30pm because, oddly enough, he was the only person who would really understand the stress and isolation I was feeling at that moment. That was rock bottom. That was when I thought I couldn’t do this. That was when I was sure I had made a horrible mistake by deciding to move to another country to run a mini-company.

But things got better, as they inevitably do. And this weekend marked the turning point. The moment when I remembered why I came here. The moment when I realized that this is what I was meant to do. And I realized that maybe, just maybe, I’m kind of good at it.

DSC_0083 copyThis weekend, we moved into our new office. That may not seem like a big deal, but somehow Saturday symbolized everything that I’ve been envisioning for the company I’m supposed to guide through 2016. I came to Amsterdam so that my company could actually accomplish something new and great. And moving into a new office was the symbolic starting point. Everything leading up to this point was just preparation.

Saturday was one of the most exciting days I’ve ever had at work. I had an amazing crew of people around me who were helpful and supportive and just lovely to spend the whole day with. The move went so incredibly smoothly that I could hardly believe it. There was so much smiling and laughing, and the only truly stressful moment was when I set the alarm off and thought the entire building was going to fall down from the racket. (Oops.) And after the move was done and the space was clean and pretty, we stayed there for hours drinking beers and eating burritos and simply enjoying each other’s company.

And no, my whole life doesn’t revolve around work. But work is the reason I came to this place, and all of a sudden I feel like I can actually live here and do things and be Christina again. This Christina just happens to live in Amsterdam now.

It’s finally real.

Sure, I got sick (again) after the move. And sure, there are still plenty of kinks to work out, and I know there will be many bumps in the road ahead. But right now, I’m sitting in bed drinking red wine (which is apparently good for colds, ha!), and I am so incredibly happy that I hardly know what to do with myself.

Thank you to everyone in Amsterdam, in Europe, in America and elsewhere who has been there for me over the past 6 weeks. I love all of you.

And to the Wrecking/Building/Moving Crew from Saturday: y’all are rockstars. I heart you like whoa.

*****

[Next time…] I actually go back to talking about the things I do best! Drinking, traveling, drinking, eating, and riding my bicycle.

Two months, four cities, and a whole lot of drinks.

Well, shit. Time sure does fly. Pretty sure it flies even faster when you’re drinking.

There’s a part of me that wants this to be a complete stream of consciousness post, because as I think back on the last 8 weeks, a flood of completely unrelated phrases keep coming to mind. Things like “beer on the pier” and “drunk leopard” and “fuck this bar, let’s go to that other bar.”

Oh wait, I guess they all relate to drinking. Less unrelated than I thought. Damn, I was really hoping I could be the next great 21st century writer. Like Virginia Woolf. Except drunker and not trying to drown myself.

Blogging about drinking is hard, because when you’re drinking you tend to forget to do important things, like blog about drinking. And then days pass by and you feel so guilty about not writing something that you drink more, and then you forget again, and then it just gets harder and harder to do because you’re ashamed and drunk (again).

Sigh.

But how can I simply brush over the fact that in the last two months I have had epic drinking experiences in Los Angeles, Seattle, Honolulu, and Las Vegas? How can I simply move on and pretend these things didn’t happen?!

I can’t possibly do that. Especially because in the next two months I will be having more drinking experiences in San Francisco, Chicago, and Italy! I have to catch up, dammit! These stories cannot be left untold!

And so, dear friends, we are about to go back in time. Over the next week, I will catch you up on all the wonderful things I have been doing since Christmastime. (Yes, I know I did tell you about that one brunch spot, but really, that’s lame in comparison to what I have NOT told you yet.)

Things you have to look forward to:

  • drunk leopard
  • drunk cousin
  • drunk me
  • drunk me and my girlfriend Aiva hanging out with a 60-year-old dude in Ballard
  • drunk uncle
  • (but not really that last one)

Oh, and did I mention I’m wine drunk right now?! Wheeee!!

[Side note: Two nights ago while opening a bottle of wine, I managed not only to break my corkscrew but also break the entire top part off the bottle itself, which resulted in shards of glass all over the place and completely undrinkable wine. So since then, I have been drinking wine with a vengeance to make up for the fact that I didn’t get any wine on Tuesday.]

🙂

Huzzah!

So happy Thirsty Thursday, friends. I might be too drunk to end this post coherently, and so I shall simply leave and write more posts about all the things I failed to tell you about last month.

Hugs and love,

Drunkstina

Always have tamales in your freezer. (I.e. Notes from Drunkstina)

Honestly, I have nothing super valuable to say right now. BUT I’m drunk and I LOVE writing when I’m drunk.

ALSO, I realized that I never wrote about this SUPER AWESOME thing I did once. I.e. That Time I Made Tamales.

Tonight, I went to the movies. I haven’t actually gone to “the movies” (i.e. major cinema showing current films) since I lived in Chicago. So basically, it’s been over 2 years since I’ve been to the movies.

But today, I did that. I went and saw a current movie. As in, I saw a movie that has just been released.

Today, I saw “Don Jon.”

Ok, so I know most of you are going to laugh, but it’s true. That’s the movie I saw, and I have no regrets. It was actually really interesting. Like, I enjoyed it. And it made me think. And…yeah, all of those things.

If you care, go see it. If not, don’t. Whatever.

My point is this. I got really drunk during the movie (i.e. my friend and I bought a fifth of whiskey and poured half of it into our SUPER GIANT soda, which we sipped throughout the film).

And so, I came home drunk.

And then I remembered that I have tamales in my freezer.

THIS IS THE BEST SCENARIO.

At this point, I’ve decided that I should always have tamales in my freezer. Because when you’re drunk, TAMALES ARE AWESOME.

(They are always awesome. But it’s like magic when you’re drunk.)

I made tamales at my friend Rachel’s house about 3 weeks ago, and I’ve had tons of them in my freezer ever since. And yeah, I’ve been eating them, slowly, occasionally, when I have no other meal plans, or for snacks, or whatever. But then tonight, I came home, drunk, to an empty fridge, and I opened the freezer, and it was like the clouds parted and suddenly all was right with the world.

Tamales.

Holy crap.

Nothing could have been better at that one moment.

I have no good way to end this post. I’m drunk and confused. I’m about to go to a party. I have no pictures of tamales. Really, this feels like a fail.

BUT NO. Drunk writing is never a fail. It’s a thing I am very good at. That is a success! Right???

Ok, I will stop now.

I love you all.

Merry Friday to all, and to all a good drunk!

I’m 124 sandwiches away from 125 sandwiches. Yippee!

This week, I read an article about a woman who writes a blog about sandwiches. That all sounds well and good until you find out the terrible truth: she’s making these sandwiches so that her boyfriend will propose to her.

Yeah. I’m not kidding. The title of the article is “I’m 124 sandwiches away from an engagement ring.” You can read it here.

Despite the fact that I have A LOT OF FEELINGS about this, I’m not going to go into them now. You all come here to read about food, not feminism. And you know what? I plan to deliver.

On Saturday morning I decided to seduce myself with a sandwich.

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Yeah, that’s right. I made my own goddamn sandwich. And I ate it MYSELF.

I’m a big fan of sandwiches in all forms, but the breakfast sandwich is a special, beautiful, sensuous thing. I really do love a good breakfast sandwich. Drooool….

I used the patchwork of items in my lovely fridge to concoct a magical breakfast for myself. Yes. FOR MYSELF. (Note: This is not to say I would never make anyone else a sandwich. I probably would. But only if I really like them and they don’t happen to ask for it.)

Here’s how it all went down:

Step 1: Make coffee.

Step 2: Look inside fridge. Discover what you have at your disposal. Put it all on the counter and ponder it.

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Step 3: Concoct sandwich plan in your head. Determine that as much as you want to put bacon on your sandwich, it’s not going to work out this time. Just doesn’t fit the vibe.

Step 4: Make bacon anyway.

Step 5: MAKE YO’ SANDWICH.

  1. Caramelize onions.
  2. Toast brioche bun in the oven.
  3. Fry an egg.
  4. Meanwhile, drink coffee and eat bacon.
  5. Once bread is toasted, ASSEMBLE.
  6. Spread mustard on top piece of bread.
  7. Spread ricotta cheese on bottom piece of bread.
  8. Gently, lovingly place roasted pepper on top of ricotta cheese.
  9. Even more lovingly slide fried egg onto pepper.
  10. Carefully arrange caramelized onions on top of egg.
  11. Top with salad greens.
  12. Admire.

Step 6: EAT YO’ SANDWICH.

All in all it turned out to be a pretty good sandwich, given that I patched the whole thing together with little to no advance planning. Pro-tip for next time: AVOCADO would have made this sandwich amazing.

————————————————-

[Fast-forward to Sunday morning.]

On Sunday, I woke up close to noon and my first thought was “sandwich.” (Sometimes I think I might just be brilliant.)

But sadly I could not recreate Saturday’s concoction, as I was out of roasted peppers. WHATEVER WOULD I DO???

Fear not, it all worked out. I had kale!

Kale on a sandwich?

Yes. I am telling you now: yes.

With bacon.

And tomato.

It looks like this:

DSCN1386

 

I’m sure it’s lovely to have someone make you a sandwich. I mean, why would you ever turn down a sandwich?

But here’s the thing, Stephanie Smith. You can go right on making your 300 sandwiches for your douchebag boyfriend. I, on the other hand, am going to make MYSELF 300 goddamn sandwiches.

Because you know what? There is nothing more satisfying than making a really delicious sandwich for yourself.

 

People-watching notes that everyone will understand

Holy shit, it’s June. HALF THE YEAR HAS ESCAPED. I have a lot of beer-drinking to catch up on.

Fortunately, I am about to go to Amsterdam, which is home to some pretty old beer. I don’t know if “old” is the way to go here, but sometimes you need to try new things, right? But seriously, there is great beer in Amsterdam, and it will be stuff I can’t get here. So I’m pretty excited about that.

Other than that, I’m ashamed to say I haven’t done all that much “awesome” stuff in the last month. I’ve been travelling a ton for work, which (to be fair) has resulted in a few great experiences (an excellent cocktail bar in Boston, a wonderful beer bar/gastropub in Madison). But mostly, I’ve been working, and when I haven’t been working, I’ve been sleeping. (Or I’ve been drinking fruit-beer floats at my friend Rachel’s house in the Wisconsin countryside, which was actually pretty awesome.)

But overall, I’ve been neglecting my drinking/eating/writing duties. And for that, I am sorry.

Tonight I decided it was time to start being cool again. (Also, I need to start training for Amsterdam. I am horribly unprepared.)

I am sitting at my favorite neighborhood bar, Hopvine. I started by writing a little bit for my freelance job, and then I got distracted by people-watching. And I suddenly realized that I have seen all of this before.

People-watching is fun because every human being is different, and therefore, every human interaction is different. But I suddenly realized, sitting here alone and tipsy, that my brain is automatically labeling these cinema-like experiences and putting them into groups based on things I’ve seen before. For example:

–The friends who haven’t seen each other in ages even though they live in the same city

–The chill dude who comes here often because it’s his favorite bar, but this time he brought his dad, and he’s super excited about it but also a little bit embarrassed

–The old guy sitting by himself reading the paper and enjoying a brew

–The 30-year-old guy sitting by himself watching the game

–The girl sitting by herself working on her laptop (homework? work? what?) — NOTE: This is probably what I am to everyone else

–The young professionals on a double date (always a fan favorite)

–The old couple on a date (i.e. not married, just on a date) – this is my FAVORITE thing and incredibly adorable (also pretty rare, so you should be excited when you witness it)

–The girlfriends catching up (with the inevitable “So I guess I’m dating him now” conversation and the whole “Is that a good thing?” follow-up question)

–The guy alone at the bar who is friends with the bartender

–The guy alone at the bar because he likes the beer here

–The guy alone at the bar because he actually doesn’t know what else to do with himself

And so on.

(These could easily be “the girl alone at the bar” but I am actually just recording what I see right now. So don’t freak out, I’m not sexist. I (girl) am currently alone at a bar too.)

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to “label” these people. In fact, I feel I am doing the opposite. I might be equating my personal impression of their behavior with something I have seen before, but I am in no way trying to label their character. In fact, despite having overheard some very personal conversations, I still don’t think I know anything about these people. And that, to me, is part of the fun.

Watching a single person is entertaining in its own right. Watching two or more humans interact, however, is a full-on show! And again, I’m not making a spectacle out of other humans here. Instead, I am sitting quietly behind my screen (so to other people I’m probably a loser…or a writer, which would be SUPER cool if people believed that) and I’m just observing their behavior.

My point is, humans are cool.

So yeah. That’s all I’ve got for today. I hope you will ponder it briefly, or at least consider it next time you’re at a bar alone. Because I truly believe that people-watching doesn’t need to be judgmental. It can merely be a form of private entertainment derived solely from the coolness of other humans. And that is a pretty cool thing.

Who needs measuring cups when you have whiskey?

So this isn’t something I’ve ever done before. But I have friends who blog, and a lot of them do a sort of “best of” or “random thoughts” end-of-the-week post, or something along those lines. So I’m going to try that. Because I’m thinking in bullet points right now.

So, hey y’all. It’s Tuesday. Tuesdays are pretty lame. And I don’t have a full post in me right now. So here’s my bullet-point-random-shit-post for the week. (Also I might be tipsy. That might be part of the reason for my fragmented thinking at the moment.)

-Baking cookies is a perfect excuse for making hot toddies. Don’t believe me? Try it. You’ll understand.

–Measuring cups are for losers. (I’m totally lying.) But SPICE YOUR SHIT. Don’t be a wimp. Be experimental! I did that last night and made some amazing vegan cookies. YEAH. VEGAN. WHAT???

—Go back to bars that you think are awesome. I went to Von Trapp’s again tonight. I still love it. Even on weeknights.

—-Tonight I attempted to make spaetzle for the first time. I think it worked? I don’t know, I’m saving it for a meal for tomorrow. So hopefully when I fry it up in butter (YUMMM…) it will taste ok. If you have thoughts on spaetzle, please share them with me.

—–I just made myself a severely mediocre Manhattan. I’m very sad. DON’T REPEAT MY MISTAKE. You can’t eyeball this kind of drink. This isn’t baking. MEASURE YOUR SHIT.

Apparently I’m very much in an oxymoronic mood. Don’t measure shit, but seriously, measure shit. Yeah, it’s that kind of Tuesday.

Tuesdays are lame.

I could never get the hang of Tuesdays.

(IF YOU GET THE REFERENCE YOU ARE AWESOME.) – (and yes, I know it’s the wrong day of the week, it’s a REFERENCE damnit.)

Yeah, that’s all I got. Sorry for the lame post. Shit happens, you know?

How to drink a lot and eat well and not die.

A lot has happened since I last wrote. I moved to a new apartment! So yeah, apologies for being absent, but I’ve been a bit busy. The good news is, I now live alone, which means I can spend ALL my free time cooking, drinking, eating, and WRITING. I’m pretty excited about it.

I figure this is a perfect moment to give some life lessons. I’ve been writing for nearly 2 years now (although not often, to be fair). But at any rate, I have yet to post a “life lessons” type of post, and I think it is now time.

So, here are some RULES FOR LIVING LIKE I DO. Because I live like an idiot and it’s amazing that I’ve survived this long.

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First set of rules is Things that are good (i.e. do these things):

1. When cooking, always have a beer or glass of wine by your side. It seriously makes the cooking experience that much better.

2. MAKE A PLAYLIST. There are plenty of playlists that I listen to often, but there are only 2 or 3 I listen to while cooking. It’s important to set the right mood.

3. Learn to drink. This is the worst advice EVER. But seriously, having a high tolerance is a wonderful thing. Don’t listen to a word I say.url

4. Go to lots of bars. I absolutely, 100% believe in the “neighborhood dive bar” effect. I love those places, and I will always search for “my spot.” BUT SERIOUSLY, MOVE ON. It’s important to expand your horizons.

5. Use cookbooks! Not everyone is gifted. I am certainly not gifted. I’m a reasonably good cook, but my best meals come from cookbooks. If you can read, you can follow directions. Do it.

*****

The second part of this list is probably more important. Things that are BAD (i.e. DO NOT do these things):

1. Never, ever, EVER cut jalapeno peppers and then rub your eyes. It will hurt. I swear. I do it too often.

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2. Do not, under any circumstances, buy onion goggles. Seriously, you will look like a doofus. Man up. Cry it out. It’s all ok. The tears will salt your food nicely. (If you have it as bad as my friend Nora, you’re allowed. I’ll give you that.)

3. Don’t push the hot oven rack back in the oven with your bare hands. Use an oven mitt. This should be obvious, but I have failed to follow this rule, so I just want to be clear.

4. Don’t forget to eat. If you’re drinking lots, which you may very well be doing if you read my blog, you should eat enough food to sustain yourself. Vomiting is poor form.

5. DON’T BE STUPID. I take the bus. I can get as drunk as I want, and maybe I’ll pass out or miss my stop or crash on a friend’s couch/floor, but at least I won’t die or kill someone else. Drinking and driving is not just irresponsible, it is idiotic. Don’t do it.

(Sorry to bum you all out with that last one, but I want to be clear. I don’t condone that shit.)

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So there  you have it. Rules for living like I do and not completely losing your shit! Hooray!

I miss you, dear readers. And fear not, I have lots to say. Things to look forward to include the following:

  • Belgian beer festival!
  • CHEESE
  • That awesome place I was supposed to write about before but didn’t
  • ALL THE BARS OF SEATTLE!!!

Ok, that’s enough for now. Follow the rules, kids. And enjoy drinking/eating/cooking lots.

Drink #11: Gingerbread Latte

So this drink is not an alcoholic beverage. OHMYGOD what is happening to me??? (Don’t worry, there’s only 2 of these in the whole list.)

Before I continue, let me also say: not everything I drink has alcohol in it. I’d probably be dead otherwise.

ANYWAY, gingerbread lattes. So delicious! I am not a big fan of Starbucks*, but I must say that this is one thing they did right.

I know you can get a gingerbread latte at many other places too, but let’s be real. Who started the whole thing? (And don’t go quoting me some itsy bitsy coffee shops on the outer reaches of a small town in Wisconsin. Because if Starbucks hadn’t come around, we’d all still be unaware of it.)

You can also make these at home, but it’s probably not worth the effort. You’ll spend a whole bunch of money on gingerbread syrup which you won’t be able to finish in 10 years, along with an espresso machine and milk steamer which you will inevitably break…well, anyway. If you are like me, you’ll just treat yourself every so often. (At a place other than Starbucks.)

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P.S. I have never had one that looked like this, but I WANT!

P.P.S. Notice that I did NOT use a picture from Starbucks.

 

*Saying I’m not a big fan is a huge understatement. Starbucks is doing horrible things to the world of coffee. They burn their beans intentionally so that they can have “consistency” in every Starbucks in America. Well, except in Seattle, where they use nicely roasted beans so that the Seattlites will continue to give them money. This makes me dislike them more.

The 12 Drinks of Christmas!

If you are too lazy to read this short post, here’s the skinny:

  • 12 posts
  • Dec. 13th – Dec. 25th
  • One holiday drink per day!

So while I may have been failing as a blogger, I have not been failing as a drinker. And, if you didn’t already know, ‘TIS THE SEASON! (For drinking, that is.)

Anyway, I like winter because there are so many drinks that just taste so much better at this time of year. Some of them are just damn silly if you drink them anytime other than the holidays. (Also, pretty sure you can’t buy eggnog between January and November.)

So, starting tomorrow, I will share my 12 Favorite Holiday Beverages with all of you! One drink per day (sometimes with a recipe!) from Thursday, December 13th until Christmas Day. Maybe I’ll even post a picture of me in my ugly Christmas sweater! You never know what might happen when I start downing holiday drinks.

Get excited…

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