Zombie Burger… famous for a reason.

ZB

The legend itself.

I found this abandoned post in my drafts folder, and I’m keeping the title. It’s so … assertive. Or something. Anyways, here’s the unedited, original post:

“Sarah’s Revenge” doesn’t sound like a hamburger. It sounds like the title to some cheap C-list horror flick, with large amounts of fake blood. But it IS a hamburger, and a delicious one too. It is one of Zombie Burger’s very tasty burgers, and it thoroughly surprised me.

I’ll admit, I was a little skeptical when I first walked into Zombie Burger. I’d heard about it a lot, and many people told me it was one of the best places in Des Moines. I was inclined to think it was just popular because of the novelty of it, and I was hesitant to believe its food was one of the draws as well.

I don’t know where I was going after that. Probably into a rave review. After all, I claim it’s ‘famous for a reason’.

So it’s safe to say I’ve been to Zombie Burger a bunch of times since writing that. Everyone who visits me or my friends wants to go. It’s fun. It’s entertaining. It’s tasty. And it has a damn good beer selection.

But to be honest, the beer is what still draws me in. Not the food. ZB’s beer list is great, and it has some amazing Belgian beers. The burgers, while still tasty, are less desirable. They’re very greasy, and often give me an upset stomach afterwards. The novelty of the experience has also worn off. It’s fun occasionally, but it’s definitely not my favorite place to eat in Des Moines.

I’m harder on ZB  now than I was before. I’ve discovered so many other good places to eat here that it annoys me when ZB gets all the attention. It’s worth a few visits, though, to be sure. It takes that many just to soak in all the decor! And it is fun trying their crazy burgers, I’ll admit. “Sarah’s Revenge” is still a favorite of mine, although their “Raygun” is also delicious. And for vegetarian people, I’m told ZB’s options are very good.

So there’s a lot going for ZB. (Including their spiked milkshakes.) The novelty is just not one of them. It just makes it busy ALL THE TIME. And I don’t always like busy with my burgers. Just sayin’.

All for now,

Emily

p.s.: Also since I wrote this, ZB opened up a location in the food court in the Jordan Creek mall. It can’t serve alcohol; doesn’t have the room to be quite as unique; and has fewer burger options. And it’s still perpetually busy. So I pretend it doesn’t exist. Sorry, not sorry.

p.p.s.: Photo from Flickr user MichaelMcLean. Some rights reserved, used under the Creative Commons license.

 

Alright guys, I finally feel like a “YP”

So. It’s been three years. I’ve moved apartments twice. Started a relationship. Ended that relationship. Started a new one. Made friends. Lost friends. Basically, just lived life.

And I finally feel like the fabled “Young Professional”. I am confident. I am independent. I am happy. I’ve paid of two of my student loans. I work a Monday-Friday schedule, during the day.

But somewhere along the way I stopped blogging. Here, on the blog I’d started based on my nerdy hobbies, anywhere.

I haven’t stopped writing, necessarily. I just stopped publishing. It was healthy, though, just to write for myself for a while.

But I miss telling stories that I know other people will read. So here I am.

I don’t know how often I’ll post. But, I’m going to start again. I’m enthused, motivated and excited about it.

Keep an eye out. It’s gonna be great.

All for now,

Emily

Baking. It’s pretty rad.

I’ve baked a fair amount recently. Last week I baked a batch of four dozen cookies (I shared, don’t worry) and two loaves of bread. And right now, I have one loaf of bread in the oven. Perfect time to blog, right? The fresh bread smell is filling my apartment. Mmmmm.

Well anyways, hobbies are important. Some people cook like pros. Some people do clever DIY projects. Some people collect cool things. Some people are über healthy. I bake. (Or, to clarify, have decided my hobby is/ will be baking.) 

Recently, I mentioned that my grandma taught me how to bake perfect chocolate chip cookies. I used all her tricks baking the batch last week. And, not to brag or anything, they were pretty awesome. I’d say they were almost as good as her’s — I’m still convinced I will never reach her level of baking prowess, despite her belief I already have — and I was proud they turned out so well. It was my first time baking from scratch in my oven, and in Des Moines. I never baked much in Omaha, so I’m still afraid I’m on ‘high-altitude’ mode for baking. (I’m originally from Colorado.) There were numerous things that could have gone wrong, and a few that actually did: I forgot the vanilla and had to go to the store and buy it in the middle of mixing up the cookie dough; I don’t have a spatula; and I don’t have cooling racks. But all that aside, I ended up with a pretty awesome batch of cookies. And I’m convinced it’s because I learned from the best cookie baker around.

Now, as if having a cookie master in the family wasn’t enough, we also have my dad. He bakes bread. He started in grad school, and hasn’t stopped. Every year he bakes delicious rolls for Thanksgiving and even more delicious bread for Christmas. And, starting when I was pretty little, I would be his helper. He’s taught me everything I know about baking bread. Over the years I’ve experimented with different types of bread, and it was nice to have him there, encouraging me. (He even lets me bake my own version of Christmas bread now!)  And when my dad gave me my bread book, he made sure to remind me that it’s really hard to ruin bread. As long as you have flour, water and yeast, you can do it.

The bread book my dad gave me. It has everything you need to know about bread baking. When my dad gave me it he said “… give lots of things a try. Things rarely fail — which is the cool thing about bread”.

Anyways, last week I decided I would bake bread from scratch again. It turned into a day full of phone calls to my sister (who was also baking bread, in Washington D.C.) and my dad (to check in and let him know how it was going). It was long-distance family bonding. My dad was quick to point out, though, how unfair it was that he wasn’t going to be able to taste test the bread. And Rachel and I decided we’re just following in my dad’s footsteps: During grad school he’d make four loaves of bread a week — he’d give two away and keep two for him and his roommate. He’s experimented with all types of bread. So the only-on-holidays baker is just a ghost of the former baker my dad was. (And the baker I aim to be.)

I also love bread baking because, in addition to it being family tradition, at its core it’s very therapeutic. You put a lot of yourself into each loaf of bread. It takes time, effort and manual labor. It takes a long time, but the feeling of pulling your bread out of the oven is amazing. This isn’t just a loaf of bread, it’s your loaf of bread. My dad calls it an ‘Earth Mother’ feeling. It sounds crazy, but it’s as accurate a description as I can come up with. It’s just… awesome.

I guess what I’m getting at is baking — true baking, from scratch — is incredibly satisfying. Whether it’s cookies or bread, you have a sense of pride when you’re done. So as far as hobbies go, it’s a pretty good one. Baking always produces tasty things that are way too much fun to eat. Plus, baked goods are really awesome to share… your coworkers love you!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to check on my bread!

What hobbies do you have? Do you like to bake or cook or do crafts? 

All for now,
Emily

I did it guys! I ran a 5k.

A while ago I wrote a post about running. I was trying to get motivated and get in shape for the Color Run. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to run the full 3.1 miles or not (I’m not a runner, I explained) but I wanted to give it my best shot.

And guess what? I ran the whole thing. I dodged through massive amounts of walkers with my running buddy by my side (or a little ahead) and my roommates leading the way. I got covered in color, and it was great.

my superman pose after the race. so proud.

Weaving in and out of the walkers was the most annoying, but also best part of the race. I thought for sure I would be among those walking, but I wasn’t! I was so proud of myself. The only times I slowed down were during the color zones — I wanted  the volunteers to throw as much color on me as as possible. And they did. The run was really great, and I am very happy I went ahead and did it. Now the next 5k I do won’t seem nearly as intimidating. (Did I just say ‘next 5k’? I hope I’m not turning in to a runner…)

 

so many people.

The Color Run itself was also a huge success in Des Moines. It was the largest run yet, with more than 27, 000 people signed up to run. It meant it was an absolute madhouse, and we waited around a lot longer than it took to run, but it was worth it. The dance party at the end was awesome too.

 

colorful friends.

And at the end of the day, I was just happy to be with my friends, doused in color and rewarding myself with Zombie burger. It’s not every day you complete your first 5k, after all.

 

What goals have you accomplished lately? Do you have any you’re working towards now? 

All for now,
Emily

p.s. The photos were taken by my awesome coworker, Jake Lovett. He was a trooper and basically acted like our paparazzi. It was great.

 

I pay bills now. Does that mean I’m an adult?

I think supporting yourself means you’re actually an adult. Or something.

For the first time in my life, I am almost 100 percent financially independent from my parents. They only pay two bills for me: car insurance and my cell phone bill. Everything else though – rent, electricity, internet, renter’s insurance, etc. – is covered by me. And if my parents weren’t as awesome as they are, I could cover the other two as well. It’s a good feeling. (Except when you actually have to pay the bills.)

It’s hard to describe, but I definitely feel more independent and responsible. I mean, I’m writing checks, balancing my checkbook and even making (and trying to follow) a budget.

A couple weeks ago I paid off my credit card and bought renter’s insurance. And on Monday I paid the rest of my bills. I also signed up for my benefits, and am now paying for my own health, dental and vision insurance. What?? It’s crazy how fast things change. At the start of May I didn’t even have my job yet – now I’m standing on my own. (And I’m even putting money into a 401k fund.)

That’s not saying my parents don’t help… they definitely do. Even if it’s just emotional support and the occasional gift. (Like plane tickets and my T.V.) But if I absolutely had to I could live completely on my own. Which is really cool. And really scary, too. But I guess this is what being an adult feels like.

I don’t know if I’ll ever fully believe that I’ve grown up, but realizing I can make it on my own definitely helped me accept that it’s a possibility. (Maybe.)

In the meantime, I’ll continue to have a great time spending my allocated ‘fun’ money in, you guessed it, fun ways. Like new shoes and dresses. And karaoke. And J.K. Rowling’s new book. And basically just pretending I’m not grown up yet.

When did you realize you were a grown up? Does paying bills ever get easier?

All for now,

Emily

When ‘I should do my dishes’ turns into ‘CLEAN ALL THE THINGS’

Yesterday I came home from my run with every intention of posting. I had a few ideas rolling around in my head, and I was excited to write them down. I had plenty of time before work, and my plan was to make some coffee, sit down and just write.

And then I saw my pile of dirty dishes.

Now, it’s not like I had a mountain of dirty dishes or anything – I’m not a guy – but it was more than I care to admit. So I decided I should probably just do them all already (no dishwasher, sigh) while the coffee was brewing.

But then, after the dishes were clean I realized my counters were pretty messy. And before I knew it I was cleaning my entire kitchen. And not just tidying up – really cleaning. I scrubbed the counters, the sink, the stove and I even cleaned the floors. (All while drinking my freshly brewed coffee. Skillz.) Oh, and I didn’t stop there. That would have been too easy. Next, I tackled my bathroom, bedroom and living room. In other words, my entire apartment. And it got the full treatment – everything down to dusting and vacuuming. When I finished and looked around, I was incredibly pleased. I was happy I’d managed to be so productive before work. (Until I remembered my forgotten post, then I felt a little guilty… oh well.)

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Later, when I was trying to figure out what spurred my cleaning spree, it took me a while to figure it out. Usually I can just clean a little at a time and be perfectly content. And then I remembered my mom does exactly the same thing. Every once in a while she goes into cleaning mode. Growing up, I learned to avoid her when this happened – I never wanted to be enlisted as a helper. (Who likes cleaning?) I also learned the hard way that if I wanted to save some important paper floating around, I needed to make sure I located it before she reached it cleaning. Nothing was safe. We always joked about it because even though it only happened once in a while, she was a cleaning monster.

Now it seems I’ve inherited that trait. Great. But at least now I understand it: There is something incredibly satisfying about having a clean apartment. There’s no chores that need to be done, and I really can just concentrate on writing. (Lies, I am doing laundry while I’m writing this.) But the point: Now when it is actually my day off, I can really relax without thinking about the fact I haven’t vacuumed lately and my bathroom is a mess. BECAUSE IT’S NOT AND I VACUUMED YESTERDAY. So there.

And on that note, if you’ll excuse me, I have a Netflix marathon to participate in. (After I fold laundry, sigh.)

All for now,
Emily

Xanga, and the social media generation.

The other day two of my wonderful coworkers, Katie and Jenna, found Jenna’s old Xanga. It’s full of hilarious ramblings by Jenna’s 15-year-old self, and it prompted me to look up mine. (And those of close friends, of course.)

Xanga didn’t disappoint. Mine only has three posts that are public, but a few of my friends had them completely public and … well, let’s just say it transported me right back to those day. And that is both scary and awesome.

It also made me realize that I have been participating in social media for nearly eight years. Before it was even categorized as social media (I think). That’s right – before I knew how important social media would become to the news world, it was already starting to play a prominent role in my social life.

Now, I’m not saying any of my friends or I said anything profound on Xanga, but we were participating. And before we knew it, social media was an integral part of our little group. And we followed the fads. We moved from Xanga to MySpace, and then from MySpace to Facebook and now we’ve added Twitter (and WordPress and Tumblr and Instagram) into the mix. It’s happened so naturally I don’t think I would ever say I “learned” how to use social media.

And now I’m learning the value of that. News organizations are constantly trying to find ways to use social media to their advantage, and who better to help them than members of my generation? Nobody.

People my age have a distinct advantage because of our Xanga accounts. There, I said it. Because we adopted a new way of communicating and expressing ourselves before anyone realized its true value we don’t have to play catch-up. We know it all already. It’s brilliant!

But the challenge becomes adopting this social skill to use in a professional setting. That is the key, and that is where many people fall short. Plenty of people my age don’t recognize how important it is to transition our beloved social tools into professional tools. But those who do are killing it. However, that’s a topic for another post.

For now I’m going to go back and laugh at my former self, and thank her for introducing me to social media, before it was a ‘thing’.

When did you first start using social media, and why? How do you use social media the most – professionally or personally? 

All for now,
Emily

Consistent routines are highly underrated

A few of you may have noticed my lack of posting. And one of you actually messaged me saying “my refresh button is getting a workout on your blog”. That was exactly the kick in my butt I needed to start posting again. Or, more accurately, thinking about posting again.

That was a few days ago and I still haven’t posted. Oops. And I meant to post this yesterday. Double oops.

My apologies. And when I think about why I haven’t posted, I get disappointed in myself. There really is no good reason. I have had time to write, but I just haven’t. That brings me to my main point: consistent schedules are incredibly helpful. And right now, I don’t have one.

Before, I had a nice routine going. I would get up, run, write, shower and then go to work. I’d even occasionally throw some Skype time in there. It was consistent, I was able to produce good content and get into shape. Those were the days…

Then craziness ensued at work, and my schedule became anything but consistent. And, as a result, I have not posted. I have not gone running. And my whole routine has disappeared.

It’s frustrating, but that’s life. And despite the many different shifts I’ve started working, I’m going to try and maintain some sort of routine. My solution is simple, so we’ll see if it works. I resolve I will get up three to four hours before I have to be at work and I will run, I will write and I will read. (Starting tomorrow, of course.)

Inevitably there will be days when I can’t do this exactly – the mornings after I work until 2:30 a.m., for example – but I will try to at least get into a routine again. Because routines are way underrated.

I love routines because they help me get things done. And if I get into a good one I feel accomplished, and much less stressed. I’m more active, more creative and just happier. It’s a pretty good deal.

What do you do you like about routines? Do you have a daily routine? 

All for now,
Emily

#SentimentalSaturday

I’m creating a new hashtag: #sentimentalsaturday. I just re-read a note my grandma sent me last month and was reminded how lucky I am to have her. I posted several posts about how awesome she is on my old blog, so I thought I’d share one with you today. (If I start to write a new one I might get all teary.) And sticking with the theme, I think it’s appropriate to use some of my old work.

So without further ado, here’s “And to grandmother’s house we go!” (Originally posted Sept. 17, 2011)

Yes, I’m continuing my current string of nostalgic posts, but I stumbled across this video and had to share. It made me smile, and was a great start to the day.

It’s a simple question: What’s your favorite memory? And when I first started thinking about it tons of memories flooded into my head: being Snow Queen in “The Nutcracker”; getting into Creighton/ graduating high school; living in Germany; and baking bread with my dad. The list went on and on. But I realized that although these were all fabulous memories, they were not my absolute, all-time favorite memory.

As I mentioned in my post “Grandma, her cookies and other wonderful thoughts” my sister and I learned how to bake chocolate chip cookies with my Grandma Mary.  First, she would separate the jobs and set up a step ladder for whomever was doing the stirring (Rachel and I were VERY short). I can remember her patiently teaching my sister and me how to measure and sift the flour, carefully pack the brown sugar and then cream the butter. I can see her helping us stir the ingredients together (she took over once the flour made it ‘too hard’ for me and Rachel), and watching as they all combined into the delicious cookie dough. Then she would help us carefully shape the small balls of dough and evenly place them on the cookie sheet. Then she’d set up the paper towels, and we’d go into the living room of her condo and wait patiently for the timer to go off.

Rachel and I would often go try to sneak bites of cookie dough, but Grandma usually caught us, and I would feel a little guilty. (Not very, though… the dough was just so delicious!) And when the cookies came out of the oven, Grandma Mary would always make a HUGE deal about how perfect they were, and that we had made them just right. We were her perfect little bakers.

I will always cherish those memories. Grandma Mary taught us how to make all sorts of cookies, but chocolate chip has always been my favorite. She taught us little tricks to make them taste better — always subtle, but always effective. And when we brought the cookies home in one of her many cookie tins (I can still picture them in my mind: one was blue, with a wintery town on the lid and another was red, with some sort of Christmas design) they would be devoured in just a couple days. There were some kinds my dad made sure to protect and savor, but never the chocolate chip cookies. They were too good.

I still bake chocolate chip cookies occasionally, but not as often as I would like. And every time I do I imagine Grandma is right there with me, telling me how much vanilla to add, and to remember to sift the flour. (I never do: I’m too impatient.)

Hands down, those days with Grandma are my favorite memories.

What’s your favorite memory?

all for now,
Em

Ps. Grandma Mary is truly an amazing person, please read the blog mentioned and “Take all the chances you can”, which I posted on her 90th birthday.

 

I’m not at school right now.

I am not in Omaha. I am not procrastinating. And I am not stuck buying pricey textbooks I don’t really want, but need for homework I definitely don’t want to do.

Nope. Instead I am basking in post-graduate glory.

Or at least I thought I was. I got about halfway through a post all about how much I don’t miss school, only to realize that I actually do. And I would be fooling myself if I didn’t just admit it.

Now, I don’t miss the homework, the stress or the drama. I am very happy to live without all that. I like that I can sit around and do nothing while I’m not at work and not have it bite me in the ass the next day. I like my coworkers and my job. And I definitely like the money. So what do I miss?

I miss hanging out with my friends, my roommates, my peers and my adviser. (And she can’t just help me solve ALL my problems anymore…) The social setting of college is definitely unique, and starkly different than professional settings. You feel comfortable taking risks, trying new things and asking questions. You are growing and learning every day, and it’s a blast. And I really miss it.

But most of all I miss the feeling that everything is possible. I miss sitting in my dorm room and thinking about the endless possibilities for life after graduation. (I had some pretty grand plans.)

Because now that life after graduation is here, it isn’t quite what I imagined it to be. I’m not doing some crazy awesome international internship. I’m not even a reporter at the moment. And if I think about it too much, it can get discouraging.

That being said, though, I know that all those possibilities are still there — I just have to work harder to find them. I have to be more proactive and more tenacious. I can’t let the 40+ hour workweek get me down.  And besides, I am incredibly lucky and thankful to have the job I do. (It’s just not what I imagined.)

The moral of the story? I miss college. Real life is intimidating. And I am spending a lot of time trying to figure out how to make all those possibilities a reality. It’s more stressful and terrifying than sitting in my dorm room dreaming, but now is the time to make those dreams come true. (Excuse me while I go try not to get overwhelmed…)

So real life is definitely exciting in its own way. But I still miss dreaming without the pressure of feeling like it was now or never.

What do you miss about college? What do you like about real life?

All for now,
Emily