The nostalgia of chain restaurants


I’m not afraid to say it: I enjoy the occasional trip to a chain restaurant. The guarantee that the food will be mediocre and really salty is sort of enchanting. Like a fairy calling your name from the suburban woods, telling you to come home because Grandpa’s sick and your colon hasn’t been blasted by shoddy food in a while.

Growing up in the Midwest, I took a lot of road trips. A move from Kansas to Minnesota when I was 10 meant that we were haulin’ it every summer and holiday to go home to Kansas to see friends and family.

When you’re in the car for 8-10 hours in one day with your nuclear family, staring at majestic corn fields, smelling luscious dad farts and spitefully snacking on the healthy nut mix your loving mom packed while suppressing a Preteen cry for Cheetos, there’s no room for debate about which quaint Midwest country restaurant you and yours will dine at during your trip. You need dependable food and a familiar menu before anyone has a hunger meltdown in your prestigious Dodge Caravan.

As was normal on many road trips down I-35, my parents awoke me from the third nap of the day at 12:30pm, which meant it was time to start hunting for the highway “FOOD” signs.

The way it worked was if you’ve never heard of the restaurant before, we’re not going there. Oh, no commercial on national television? In your dreams, Shane’s Rib Shack. Take a hike, Grandma’s Kitchen. Nice try, Lou’s Food Emporium. 

Back in 1998 when I was 10, there was no internet in your hand and on-the-go. Taking a risk on a lesser known restaurant was not something any travel fatigued family wanted to do. Stopping to eat takes up valuable road time and you mustn’t take chances on unknown places. What if their decaf coffee is terrible, sending mother into a tailspin worse than you letting your Gigapet starve to death? What if they don’t have chicken strips? You simply can’t take risks like that when you’re travelling with anyone. The fallout would be unbearable in such close farting quarters.

Luckily, all the Chili’s, Applebees and Pizza Huts were conveniently located next to the highway so we only had to argue over which chain to eat at, significantly lowering the number of “I’M NOT EATING THERE!!!” screams from my preteen big mouth.


The dependable chain restaurant food was just that: dependable. The chicken strips were gorgeous, the Heinz ketchup was perfectly room temperature, and the Pepsi on tap was always a disappointment. It was heaven. Plus, where else are you gonna get a plate with cheeseburgers, criminally delicious SOUTHWEST ROLLS, and the mythically “loaded” potato skin boats all in one place? It’s the definition of heaven on a plate. The menu at any one of these fine chain restaurants is the definition of mediocre innovation–but that doesn’t mean it’s not beautiful.

Now that I’m older and live in a big city, of course I have better taste, I’m not a total jerk. But once in a while, something greater than me pulls my body out to the suburbs like an alien magnate, where I find myself alone and uncontrollably smiling inside of a Chili’s. Yes Amanda, I AM just a party of one. Perhaps it’s because it reminds me of being young, or maybe it’s because you can’t get good chicken strips at nice restaurants. Whatever the case, chain restaurants will without a doubt always hold a beautiful mini-chimichanga space in my heart.


Serene Supreme polaroid photo shoot with DENNIS

DENNIS by Serene Supreme
DENNIS by Serene Supreme

If you follow the Minneapolis music scene, you’ve probably seen Polaroid pics of shows and parties shot by Serene Supreme. She’s the IT girl photographer of the music scene and she’s amazing. She shot Sarah and I last weekend for our music project DENNIS. Check out the post here and take a look around her website because she has some really cool shots of a ton of talented artists.

We wanted to include the t-shirts and sweatshirts that I hand paint with glitter on my bedroom floor and sell on our website. They started out as theme shirts for our last album “Don’t Fall in Love,” but the fun just didn’t stop. We kept creating more beyond the original “YUCK” shirts and went on to make “BARF,” “WORST,” and a new one “U.F. FAUX.” Take a look at our website here and see if any fit your fly ass style.

Katie (ME!) by Serene Supreme
Katie (ME!) by Serene Supreme

Joan Didion for Celine is PERFECTION

Joan Didion for Celine
Joan Didion for Celine

I have always been a champion of fashionable ladies in their late years. Because why the fuck not! You can be anything you want for as long as you want. Celine, you rock for hiring Joan Didion, acclaimed author and all-around-badass lady, for your new campaign. Such a winner. I love it so, so, so much.

Not only does she look amazing, but this campaign might just inspire a whole new generation of kids to pick up one of her books. Check them out on Amazon and see if anything sounds good. I know I will be.

What do you think? Tell me your opinion below.

P.S. It reminds me of a fabulous documentary called “Advanced Style,” based on the blog about seriously stylish and vibrant old ladies in NYC. Take a look at the trailer and watch it on Netflix if it’s still there. It inspired me even more to dress however I please. Go with your style pulse. Definitely worth it.

A Nickelodeon Slime cocktail


I invented an amazing cocktail just this evening inspired by 90s pop/soda/sody pop.

My roommate ordered a case of Surge off of Amazon, because apparently they sell Surge again now (sooo future). He bought them to give to coworkers as a nice and cool thing to do for the holidays. But we totally ripped into them the second they landed on our doorstep because how could you not? Nobody remembers what the fuck Surge tasted like. Just some blur of a neon, Secret World of Alex Mack, piss-colored 90s children’s soda.

This cocktail I made is inspired by everything Surge makes you think about and feel. Chemical spills, Nickelodeon and peeing your pants in front of your crush – and liking it – on a school field trip in kindergarten.

Photo from CNN
Photo from CNN




3 ice cubes

1 orange

1 lowball glass

1 knife or whatever people use to peel stuff for cocktails

Put the ice in a glass. Pour your beloved amount of vodka. Pour your beloved Surge in the glass until it turns… pretty green. Take the orange and peel off a strip of orange rind. Place it in the drink wherever you think it fits.