Things I Did This Week: Project Fixup, Flying Trapeze (Take 2), and Orecchiette with Parsley-Mint Pesto & Shrimp

This past week was a busy one. On Tuesday I went to tutor appreciation night where I volunteer and won a ticket to the Shedd Aquarium, on Thursday I saw my BFF-in-law Shak perform at the Laugh Factory, and not once, but twice, I got gelato at Paciugo. (Good thing I then ran seven miles on Sunday!) Among all these things, I also…

Went on My First Project Fixup Fixup
Project Fixup is a new local dating site that promises to take all of the boring, tedious work out of online dating. I heard about it from a friend who is trying it out and when I learned that you don’t have to slog through dozens of profiles and be bombarded with emails from people who are unequivocally not for you (e.g., 30 years your senior or in a different time zone), I thought, hey, I’ll give that a shot. The premise is that the site organizes themes, you sign up and pay to be a part of these themes, and they arrange a date for you with someone they think you’d like.

The theme I signed up for was “Rooftop Bars,” which ended up being a misnomer because the bar they selected for us – Quenchers Saloon – did not have a rooftop bar. An outdoor patio, yes, but a rooftop bar, not so much. I also didn’t understand why they selected a bar in a location equally inconvenient for the both of us. My date lives in the suburbs and I live in the northeast part of the city, so Bucktown wasn’t exactly around the corner. But, that’s on them.

My date with B., however, was pretty fantastic. We talked about food and cooking, working out, embarrassing music choices, the demise of Heroes, our career decisions, racial stereotypes, and even past relationships. There was never a silent moment in the three hours we spent together. It was the way you hope all first dates will go…which makes it really unfortunate that I felt absolutely no physical attraction to him whatsoever. What can I say? It’s either there or it’s not and it was not. I don’t know if we’ll see each other again as friends (he’s entitled to not want to waste his time with me), but if nothing else I did have a really great time with him and it’s been a positive jump back into the dating pool.

Took My Second Flying Trapeze Lesson
When I left my first flying trapeze lesson, one of the instructors asked if I was going to come back. “Yes?” he asked, knowing that I hadn’t really had the best time that day. “Maybe? No? Probably not?” I said possibly and left it at that. The truth was that I had no idea if I ever wanted to go back. I was so terrified for the entire time that I couldn’t imagine subjecting myself to that again. Imagine my surprise, then, when in the days to come I could think of nothing more than how amazing it felt to do that catch. I needed to do it again. I told myself that fear was not a good enough reason not to do something I really wanted to do and promptly signed up for another class.

I’m so glad I did. I was nervous for my first flight, wondering what in hell I was doing climbing that ladder again, but once I got up there and took off, all of my anxiety melted away. I had spent the previous several days visualizing what that flight would be like, how I would curl my knees in on the way out and let go with my hands on the first swing back. Let me tell you: that “visualization” stuff works. I performed it exactly how I’d imagined I would, which gave me the confidence I needed to continue. I had pushed past the fear and all that was left was fun.

Because this was my second class, I was able to buy all of my photos for only $10. Here are a few documenting my lesson:

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It’s a lovely day to fly.

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Curling up to get into position for the Knee Hang.

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Hands off, looking for the lake.

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Backflip off the bar. I could have pulled my knees in tighter, but it was the first flight of the day, so I give myself a pass.

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For my new trick, I curl up for Heels Off.

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Final position, head back.

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Hands! Heels! (Superman!)

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The oh-so-apropos Tom Petty played in the background: I’m learnin’ to fly, but I ain’t got wings

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And finally, I did Heels Off into an amazing catch to end the day. Wheeeee!

I’m already signed up for my third class. I think I have a new hobby.

Made Orecchiette with Parsley-Mint Pesto and Shrimp
Orecchiette w-Pesto (2)
One of the greater challenges of cooking for one is figuring out what to do with leftover ingredients. This can be particularly difficult when you’re always trying out new recipes, but it doesn’t have to be if you just keep in mind what you have stocked up. With the orecchiette from last week’s pasta venture in the cabinet and some shrimp in the freezer from previous dinners, this recipe from Everyday Food immediately jumped out at me. I’ve been wanting to try making pesto as well, so it was the perfect recipe for me to experiment with this week.

I will say this: It was one of the easiest dishes I’ve ever made. And really delicious, too. The pesto is so flavorful and fresh, full of minty goodness. I substituted walnuts for the almonds, because that’s what I had on hand, but I imagine any nut would be good. It took me roughly two minutes to get the pesto together in the food processor and another 11 minutes to cook the pasta, shrimp, and snap peas. That’s a 13 minute dinner – that time can’t be beat on any night. Personally, I love snap peas and can eat through an entire bag of them, but you could easily substitute the vegetable of your choosing. Broccoli would be great here, as would asparagus (if you eat asparagus, which I don’t, so I’m guessing). Likewise, if you don’t like shrimp, add in some cooked chicken at the end or even white beans for some vegetarian protein. Pasta is always easy, but if you’re tired of your typical pasta with jarred red sauce night after night, this super easy dish is the perfect way to change it up.

For the pesto:
In a food processor, process ½ bunch parsley, 1 package of mint leaves, ¼ cup toasted walnuts, and ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil until smooth. This will make about ¾ cup, which is plenty for 2-3 servings.

For the pasta:
In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook about ¾ cup orecchiette according to the package directions. In the last 3 minutes of cooking, add ¼ pound peeled, deveined shrimp and about 3 ounces snap peas (I used about 1/3 of a small, 8 ounce bag); cook until the shrimp are opaque and the peas are bright green. Reserve some of the pasta water, then drain the pasta mixture and return it back to the pot. Add a good tablespoon or two of the pesto and toss to coat, adding a little of the reserved pasta water to create a thin sauce that coats the pasta. Top with a good dollop of ricotta. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and drizzle with olive oil, if desired.

Makes 1 serving.

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3 comments

  1. I’ve signed up for my first trapeze class to take place next week. I’m pretty nervous and a little afraid of heights — but as you write — fear should not stand in the way. I’m just trying to get as much info reading from others who have already done it.

    1. That’s awesome! Just keep in mind that you’re not the only person who’s ever been afraid to throw themselves off a 23′ platform, so you should not at all be embarrassed about the fear. You can absolutely push through it and do what you want to do. The instructors are all very understanding of it, so that helps too. Good luck – I hope you find you enjoy it as much as I did!

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