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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Oh My...


This blanket looks like my idea of heaven. Those big chunky cables, the soft white color, I could lay on my couch with it for days!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

French Chocolate Granola


Have we discussed Molly Wizenberg yet? She is who I want to be when I grow up. If you don't already know (is there anyone who doesn't know?) Molly writes the blog Orangette and wrote the book A Homemade Life. Her ability to tie lovely stories and memories into her recipes means that I love her food before I even start to cook it. Her voice is soft but powerful - it both convinces you to follow your passions and makes you feel certain that the two of you would be the best of friends. Um...or maybe that last part is just me.

This recipe for granola is one that she recreated after a trip to France with her husband. I won't even re-post the recipe here because you must go read the story behind it before you make it. Even if you're not a huge fan of granola, the smell of it baking is worth the effort.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Lola the Grinch

In an effort to bring a little holiday cheer into the house (and frankly, because it amuses me to no end) I bought Lola some antlers last weekend. The antlers themselves are funny enough, but I love doing things like this because she is instantly so disgusted by it all. One picture wasn't enough to properly convey her level of loathing for this particular incident, so I hereby give you a photo series of the grumpiest reindeer ever. First up - "I can't believe you're doing this to me..."

"Maybe if I close my eyes she will go away..."

"Look away...I am hideous..."

Happy Holidays from the grumpiest little reindeer around!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Letting the Light In


Just a few days after I wrote my last post, Brad and I received some news that has brought me to my knees. I am not sure I will ever be able to write about it here (although I intend to try) but regardless, I think we can all universally identify with feelings of grief.

This has been a year that has fundamentally changed me. I've heard it said that there are years that build you up and those that knock you down, and this year was most certainly the latter. I feel like I've been "stripped down to the studs," to use a term from all the HGTV I've been staring at lately. At my core I am still the same person of course, but its as if I've been broken apart and all the pieces are being rearranged. My priorities are different. My perspective has changed.

But just when I thought I might not make it out the other side, I woke up on Saturday morning feeling the slightest bit like myself. When I could smell the scents of coffee coming from the kitchen I walked in the room to see the sun streaming in - something that I haven't seen (or at least noticed) in weeks. On Sunday I made something edible, which I will share here tomorrow, and today I am writing. Maybe a few of those core pieces weren't lost after all...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Where I've Been...


It's time for a bit of an explanation, no? It's hard to believe I haven't written here in over a month, but I can assure you that there has been a good reason. Allow me to introduce you to the cutest little man in the world - my nephew, Chase. He was born towards the end of October but our family has been preparing for his arrival for several months now.

When he was only 20 weeks in utero, my brother and sister-in-law received the difficult news that Chase's heart was different. He was diagnosed with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS) which is a condition that requires a series of three surgeries to reconstruct his heart into a working two chamber heart. The first surgery took place exactly a week after he was born, so as you can imagine a lot of planning took place prior to that day.

Since my brother and sister-in-law already have an adorable two year old daughter, and since they would be away from home while Chase was born and had his first surgery, they knew that some family support would be in order. I am forever grateful that I was able to pack up and move with them for several weeks, to help care for my niece so they could be at the hospital with Chase.

So, that's what I've been up to. Working full time and chasing after a two year old proved to be a tad bit more challenging than I imagined, so there wasn't much time for blogging! But as I said, I am so grateful that I was given a chance to go through all of this with them. I can't even begin to explain to you how sweet that little monkey is, and stronger than most adults I know. I was lucky enough to sit at his bedside and hold his hand, I literally saw his heart beating, and the day I was finally able to hold him for the first time was one of the highlights of my year.

His first surgery went amazingly well, but Chase is still very much in the midst of his journey. So any positive thoughts, prayers, whatever your cup of tea - they're all much appreciated. And with that, I'll be back to a regular blogging schedule very soon.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Anniversary Trip


Since the husband recently started a new job and doesn't have much vacation time until the end of the year, a quick weekend trip was in store for our first anniversary. Since neither of us had ever been (but we've heard great things) we headed to New Buffalo, Michigan. Just a short drive from Chicago it turned out to be the perfect trip. There was some time at the beach, bikes rides through town and a trip to the vineyards. We stayed here and although we only went to two we really liked the Round Barn Winery and Brewery (which is the uh, round barn pictured below). There was lots of good food and an amazing farmers market - all around a great trip!

We almost parked our car in the driveway and just moved right into this house. The shingles, the flowers, be still my heart...

This concoction involved pico de gallo, shrimp, guacamole and other spicy goodness:

As I am reading this I realize we essentially ate and drank our way through New Buffalo! But I guess that's the sign of a good vacation, no? The farmers market was amazing - I actually made a joyful noise when I bit into one of the honey crisp apples. Mmmmm...

Monday, September 28, 2009

Belated Birthday


In all the anniversary talk I forgot to mention that somebody had a birthday. Aside from a new lobster toy, a birthday cake and a trip to the groomer she also got a new bed (the other one needed to be thrown away last year sometime). The groomer always puts a bow in her hair that Brad promptly removes as soon as he can catch her, but this time I was able to snap a few of her hanging out with it still in her hair!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Moments of Laughter


This weekend marks our first wedding anniversary, which is both exciting and a little hard to believe (wasn't I just worrying about seating arrangements?) The running joke for the past few weeks has been that if the old adage that "the first year is the hardest" holds true, we're going to have smooth sailing from here on out. Its been a year filled with a lot of unexpected turns and challenges - a few of which we're still moving through - but its true that the hard times just make the good ones even sweeter.

So along the lines of sweet moments, I was inspired by Courtney of Under A Paper Moon who wrote a series of posts about moments of laughter. Because a year after the details were finalized and the cake has been cut, these are the moments I remember. And I am so grateful that they are forever captured on film (even if I look like a total fool in the last one)...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Marshmallow Test

A friend sent this to me this morning, and its still making me laugh. These little ones are supposed to keep their paws of the marshmallow until the adult comes back into the room...truly torture! {Via BuzzFeed}

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Make Pictures Bigger in Blogger

I've been asked this question several times, so today we're taking a break from regular programming (whatever that is) for me to show my astounding blogger expertise. (I am kidding about being an expert - please don't send me hate mail for making false claims and being an arrogant moron. Its sarcasm, my dears)

So, how do you make your pictures bigger in blogger? Its really quite easy.

1. Adjust your main column width to a size that suits you. Mine is 550px, which means I resize all my pictures to be 550px in width. You can find out how to adjust the width of your columns by people who are much smarter than I am - this tutorial is a good one.

2. Once you've adjusted the width of your picture to match your column width, upload it into blogger and go to the Edit Html tab:

3. When you click on the tab you will see something similar to the following, which makes up the html code for your image:
Its the info highlighted in green and red that interests you. Simply delete all of the green code, so that the line looks like this: style="CURSOR: hand;" Its important to leave those quotations and semicolons intact. Then go to the red text, and change it to say either s640 or s800 (the difference is how big the picture will actually be). I use s800 for my pictures.
I am sure there are a lot of better ways to go about it, and if you use flickr or another image hosting site I think its less complicated. But that's how I go about resizing my pictures in blogger - hope that helps!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Silhouette Pendants


Its nearly impossible for me not to fall in love with anything involving silhouettes, and these are no exception. Lucky Me Beads creates these adorable custom made silhouettes from pictures and makes them into pendants. You can choose a size and also opt to have the pendant double sided. I personally like the smaller sizes, but any of them would make a great gift for your Mom or Grandmother.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Vanity Hand Towels


How cute are these? I love the idea of them spread out on top of a vanity, or even next to the sink for guests to use (or just to bring a smile to your face for everyday use). From the always adorable Anthropologie, of course, found via Poppytalk.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Breathing Space


This house makes me sigh with a mixture of envy and relaxation. Despite the fact that I would inevitably spill something on that ivory fabric less than thirty seconds, I still want to live there. {From Architectural Digest via This is Glamorous}


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

She's Back!


Filming has begun on the new Sex & The City Movie! I can't completely decide how I feel about a sequel, but that certainly won't stop me from being one of the first in the theaters to see it. Oh how I adore SJP. {Image from here}

Monday, August 31, 2009

Comfy


I resist posting a lot of pictures of Lola for fear of becoming one of "those" dog people (I am for sure, but you know, I like to play it cool). But today I really wish I were cuddling on the couch with this little monkey instead of spending the day at work...

Friday, August 28, 2009

Linda & Harriett


Its pretty safe to say that Linda & Harriett is one of my favorite stationery stores. And in the same way I still enjoy it when school supplies start populating the stores again, I love getting a glimpse of next years calendars! Linda & Harriet revealed their 2010 calendar today, which has an added bonus - at the end of the month, you can cut out a postcard that's formatted on the back and send a handwritten note to a friend. Swoon!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Still Life


I am not sure what it is, but paintings of everyday household items make my happy. We have one of mason jars hanging in our living room and if I had the means I would love to have one of these from Holly Farrell {found via Urban Grace}. They remind me of my Grandma's kitchen.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Favorite Cookies - Update


For a family party this weekend, I made these chocolate chip cookies again (I can only make them when large amounts of people are involved in their consumption, lest I eat the entire batch myself). Instead of adding in the required 3/4 teaspoons of regular salt, I added about 2 teaspoons of sea salt. And just when you think it can't get any better - it does! I love things that are both salty and sweet - there is something about the combination that gets me every time. If you feel the same definitely give this updated version a shot, but out of fear for your waistline be sure to have some people around to share them with. {Original recipe right here}

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Homemade Pizza


We actually eat a lot of homemade pizza at our house - sometimes just a regular margherita and often barbecue chicken - but usually with dough from Trader Joe's (its only about $1.99 and always turns out well). This past Friday I decided to try my hand at making dough from scratch, and I am happy to report it was surprisingly easy. You don't even need a mixer! We had some extra andouille chicken sausage, so I used that to make the actual pizza which turned out equally as good. Both recipes are below, with the dough instructions adapted from Smitten Kitchen:

Pizza Dough (makes aprox. one 14" pizza)
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons salt
1.5 teaspoon active dry yeast (about one packet)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup lukewarm water

Stir the flour, salt, and yeast into a bowl until they are adequately mixed. Slowly add the olive oil and then the water - at this point its best to just ditch the spoon and mix them together with your hands. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead it for about two minutes. If you're having trouble getting it all to stick together, definitely read Deb's post.

Grease the bowl you used to mix everything together with either a bit of olive oil or cooking spray (I used olive oil) and put the dough back in the bowl. Move it around so its coated with oil, then cover it with saran wrap and let it sit until it doubles in size - it took mine about an hour.

After it's doubled, knead the dough for another few seconds so that all the air is removed. Then put it back in the bowl to sit for another 20 minutes. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. After that, roll it out, add your ingredients, and put it in the oven for 10 minutes. We ditched our pizza stone awhile ago in favor of putting the pizza on some parchment paper and then placing it directly on the rack. It makes the bottom of the crust a little crispier and cooks more thoroughly. Just be careful when you're taking it out (a cutting board underneath works well)...sadly, I speak from experience. There was a flaming cheese incident.

Andouille Sausage Pizza:
1 heaping tsp. Olive Oil
4oz. Andouille Chicken Sausage, sliced
1/4 Red Onion, chopped
1/4 tsp dried basil
Mozzarella Cheese

For the pizza, swirl the olive oil around like you would a sauce and then use a pastry brush to distribute it evenly. Add the sliced sausage and onion, then as much cheese as you like. Sprinkle the top with the basil and follow the baking instructions above.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Book Report: A Homemade Life


I am actually quite sorry to say that I have just now gotten around to reading this book, because I knew all along that I would love it. I've been reading Molly Wizenberg's blog, Orangette, for quite awhile now (that includes hours of mining through archives) and was certain the book would be equally as charming as her blog. It didn't disappoint.

Molly has a way of writing that makes you feel like you know her, and when she shares a recipe its as if an old friend has passed along a secret. She met her husband through the blog, and you can go back and read the chronicles that lead up to their wedding (and we all know how much I love a good wedding story). Her banana bread with chocolate will make you a lifetime convert, so I can hardly explain my need to try her Winning Hearts and Minds Cake. I haven't yet had a good excuse to make it, and if I don't have a reason to share it that just means I will quite certainly eat the entire thing myself, which won't end well for anyone involved.

So this is a long winded way of saying, I love the book so much I am tempted to sleep with it under my pillow. And I'll be sure to let you know how that cake thing turns out. {Image above is from Kristina, because she's amazing like that and took a better picture of the book than the publisher}

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Goop


Do you subscribe to Goop? It's a site written by Gwyneth Paltrow, and each week you receive a newsletter with a different topic - Make, Do, Get, Be, etc. I have to admit that I was a little hesitant about the whole thing at first, but I really do like a lot of the recipes and advice that she shares. Today's Goop was "Make" which means it includes several healthy (and usually pretty easy to make) recipes.

The newest newsletter doesn't seem to be up on the site yet, but the recipe for the chicken salad pictured above looks too good not to share. Hopefully you can follow this link and print it for yourself, but if not I've copied it below:

SERVES: 4
TIME: 20 minutes
2 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken
1 large stalk celery, cut into 1/4” dice
1/2 green apple, peeled and cut into 1/4” dice
1/3 cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 scallions, thinly sliced
2 handfuls arugula, roughly chopped
1/2 cup Veganaise, or your favorite mayonnaise
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
coarse salt to taste (about 1/2 teaspoon)
freshly ground black pepper to taste (about 1/2 teaspoon)

Stir everything together.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Fabric Society


Not only do I love this handmade hemp table runner from The Fabric Society, I wish I could sit at that table and have an evening meal. It's one of the things I dislike about living in a condo - I would love to have a place (and a climate) that would allow for eating dinner outside most nights.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Louella Press


I've been a fan of Louella's wedding invitations for quite awhile, and now they have an Etsy store! I think this "Appreciation" print is my favorite, but there are also some seriously cute birthday and thank you cards, among others.