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Mallory gets a steady job baby-sitting for a couple of twins. And boy are they cute: they dress alike and look alike. There is no way to tell them apart! But soon Mallory learns that just because they are cute on the outside, doesn't mean they're cute on the inside. They are terrors! They throw off their name bracelets so no one can tell them apart, they speak in their own special twin language, and they switch places. Mallory is ready to give up. They are too much trouble for her to handle. But then she discovers a secret: the twins aren't...

After running the 5K together, my friend Emily looked over my life list and suggested a girls night out at the Signature Lounge — the bar at the top of the Hancock Tower. At 100 stories — 1,127 feet — the John Hancock Tower is the fourth-tallest building in Chicago and the seventh-tallest skyscraper in the United States. While I've been to the top of the Sears Tower (ahem, it will always be the Sears Tower) several times before, I never went to the top of the Hancock Observatory. (Or 360o Chicago. Because it's apparently not called the John Hancock...

"How is the couch to 5K going?" a friend would ask me every week when we hung out, to which I'd reply, "I've got the couch part down." Ten weeks ago I signed up to run my first 5K and immediately downloaded one of those "couch to 5K" apps onto my pink iPhone. It was a nine week, three times a week, program that alternated reps of walking and jogging dictated by a very lovely sounding woman whispering directions in my headphones. "Let's jog," she'd say. "Brisk walk," she'd say. Or, at least she would say those directions if I had...

I'll admit, I started reading the book once before. I'd found a copy on a take one leave one shelf in a Medellin hostel and grabbed it without replacing it. I got maybe 100 pages in before giving up and the paperback spent the next six months buried at the bottom of my backpack. About a month ago, I dug it out, determined to finally finish. It was taxing, though. The writing was so trite, grade-school level vocabulary with interspersed big words that had to have been copied straight from the thesaurus. On every single page someone gasped or gaped or...

After a year-long hiatus, I'm back in business with my life goal of reading every Baby-Sitters Club book ever written. In order. From the start. I was stuck for a while because, while I had a few books in the series, I didn't have number 5. And because of that, I couldn't move on. (And, you know, there was that little fact that I was traveling most of the year and couldn't fit an entire library of Baby-Sitters Club books in my backpack...

I've been so busy working a temp job the past two weeks that all I want to do when I get home is curl up with Food Network. So I haven't had much time to write. And I'm certainly not traveling at the moment. But, since I'm traveling to New York this summer, it's on my mind. I went to New York City for the first time in 1999, the summer between graduating high school and starting college. I wrote this years ago, 2005 maybe, before I had a blog, for a travel writing class I took in grad school. At...

Eight minutes had already passed and the meat sweats were kicking it. My fingers were sticky with strawberry lemonade and grease. Crumbs of pink soggy bread rolled down my cheek. A near empty paper plate in front of me held just a few more bites of the fifth bun. In the week before, friends of mine, professional eaters, had sent me tips: separate the hot dog from the bun, snap it in half and eat the two halves together, dunk the bun in a liquid with a taste you like....

I'm pretty sure I first heard about Dyer's Burgers while reading Hamburger America (a roadtripper's bible of road food stops) some years ago. The restaurant on Memphis's Beale Street is known for it's deep fried hamburgers. But the patties aren't just cooked in any old grease: they're cooked in really old grease. Each burger is fried up in the same grease they've been using for 100 years, since the restaurant first opened in 1912....

"Mexican Monkey" We had had every intent on making it to the National Leprechaun Museum that afternoon in Dublin. But, after meeting friends at a pub, after a few pints, after more and more people showed up, closing time came and went. Hours later, after the traditional music played on a small stage at the back of the bar, after the Irish dance performance, the pub switched to recorded contemporary tunes. One of which, was Daft Punk's Get Lucky. I first heard this song somewhere in some bar in Central America. I didn't know what it was called, who sang it, what...

I like to think I'm a decent cook. At least when I don't burn all my food. Or my hand. I sauté, stir fry, and steam. I bake fish, stew soup, assemble enchiladas. I make an authentic Tortilla de Patatas. I roast an amazing chicken that will some day make someone fall in love with me. I know it. I'll make it for you some day if you ask nicely. What I am trying to say here is that I can cook. But, if I am to confess here, my kitchen knife skills needed some work. This is partially because I just...