Weekend recap

This weekend was really quite lovely.  Despite the winter blues (which are about to worsen by a lot, considering we're going to be pounded by a "potentially life-threatening" blizzard tomorrow) we got out and about and enjoyed ourselves.  Some highlights include ::

  • Friday night dinner + drinks with BK at Rootstock where we sat at the bar and had help in choosing the best bottles of Greek and Spanish wine.  Not to mention all the help picking out food.  What an incredible menu - and I'm a vegetarian!
  • A post dinner + drinks couple of games of Euchre with the Hinshaws.   Always delightful! And I can't believe how soon we'll all get to meet Peanut!!!
  • A Saturday afternoon trip to Home Depot to cut and purchase some pieces of wood to try and recreate this.  Afterall, we do have a mirror about that size unframed...
  • Saturday evening dinner + nerd games with the Chwaliszs.  Gin-soaked raisins are the best thing to bring out during winter nights like that.  
  • A Sunday afternoon date which included brunch at a very cheap diner in River East (all the cool places were jam-packed), 2 attempts to go see The King's Speech (the 1st attempt put us in the very, very front which was waaaaaay too close to the screen - literally half of the screen was blacked out for me we were that close, so we high-tailed on outta there and exchanged our tickets for the next showing).  We had the best seat in the house for the 4:30 showing and absolutely loved every. single. minute.  Please go see if it you get the chance.  It's an incredibly superb film that definitely deserves the Oscar.


Cutest lil' online shop ever.

Ad Aspera Per Aspera

Happy Kansas Day, everybody.  In fact, happy 150th Kansas Day, everybody.  Now let's all go listen to Ad Aspera Per Aspera, buy some sunflowers and ignore the fact that Fred Phelps and Sen. Brownback are putting my home state to shame.

Have a snuggly weekend!

What are you up to this weekend?  We have no plans, just the way we seem to like it.  There's no football this weekend (a relief) so Sunday is like this crazy weird free day where we get to do whatever we want.  Kind of hard to believe!  The temps aren't that bad outside either but it could be better.  My mom informed me that it's 62 in Wichita (but my poor sweet niece is home sick with the flu, isn't that such a shame?!) and I'm totally jealous.  If only we had that kind of break here!  So I guess we'll just have to snuggle to stay warm. 

As always, whatever you get up to this weekend I hope you have a good one!

Mikkat Market

If only I were wearing this layered outfit today.  A cute skirt, scoop necked tee, a loosely knit sweater.  It all sounds so much better than layers of sweaters and coats and snow boots, don't you think?  With the exception of the white shoes, this is pretty much the best transition month outfit for either spring or fall.  What do you wish you were wearing?

Etsy find :: Heidi Adnum

Heidi Adnum, owner of Etsy shop Heidiadnum, is from Australia, lives in London, loves cooking, crafting and traveling and clearly has a knack for photography.  She spent some time in Kenya taking photos of wildlife for charity and a selection of the photographs were semifinalists in the BBC and Natural History Museum's Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition in 2008!  Her Etsy shop sells not only photographs but also vintage fabric handmade bunting!

Pretty great, right?

Dexter spoof

I couldn't help but laugh when I saw this.

Dreaming in color :: Peach

It's so dreary outside, not to mention cold.  So I've taken to turning to lusting after colors that provoke warmth and happiness.  After spotting the dress earlier, I decided to check out more peach-colored things that would lift my winter blues right into spring peaches...or something like that.

1.  Mod Cloth Yoke of the Day Dress in Giggle
2.  Benefit Creaseless Cream Shadow/Liner (sparkly champagne)
3.  Anthropologie Scattered Chevrons Curtain
4.  Essie Nail Polish in Tart Deco

Etsy find :: Silent Iron Designs

Chicago artist and all around bad-ass James Bowman, Jr., has some pretty amazing pieces of art for sale.  You can find some online in his newly-opened Etsy shop, SilentIronDesigns, and if you live in Chicago you can check them out in the flesh at Komoda on Chicago Ave.  Each piece is one of a kind and completely incredible.  The process it takes to make these sculptures is so amazing, hot and time-consuming.  Last summer, we were treated to an evening at Central Park Arts to watch an iron pour (we specifically watched candle holders being made, which are now displayed proudly in our living room since they were a wonderful wedding gift) and it totally blew me away.  You've gotta give credit where credit is due - it takes true talent to make stuff like this!

Blue Valentine

I was lucky enough to see Blue Valentine last week - have you seen it?  Michelle Williams really summed it up well in her interview with Marie Claire ::

"...it's a film about what it's like to grow up in that kind of atmosphere of tension and decay...being forever in this pre-trembling of a house that falls....I think of Blue Valentine as a cautionary tale - what happens when you stop paying attention to the reasons you loved each other in the first place, when you let the devil that's in the details eat away at the love."

I honestly couldn't agree more.  It stuck with me for so long after I saw it.  I was sucked into their relationship and felt that I was going through it along with them.  Luckily I was snapped out of it once I left the theater, realizing that my relationship is nothing like that and thanking my lucky stars.  But I am still going over it in my head and I'm liking it more and more as the days go by.

If you've seen it, please discuss it with me! I saw it by myself and have not had the chance to talk about it with anyone else!

New Orleans Bread Pudding

I bought of loaf of french bread on Thursday, roasted a few onions in balsamic and rosemary for an hour and served my jet-setting businessman husband some bruschetta upon his return from Toronto that night.  Having half a loaf left, I thought what better idea than to prepare bread pudding for the weekend.  After debating and debating over which recipe to use, I settled on New Orleans bread pudding since the recommended bread of choice was French or Italian.  It was nothing short of wonderful, let me tell you.  New Orleans bread pudding is soaked for an hour in the traditional eggs/milk/sugar/cinnamon combination then in the oven for an hour.  But what sets it apart is the Southern Whiskey Sauce that is drizzled over the piping hot pudding.  It gives it a grown-up taste that I particularly enjoyed and will make again someday soon.

Adapted from the Joy of Cooking ::  New Orleans Bread Pudding

"Like a warm sticky bun drenched in butter and bourbon." (I was sold right then and there)

Since I only had half a loaf, I changed the amounts of things as I saw fit...

Spread over a 13 x 9-inch baking pan, preferably glass ::
  3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices ::
  1 1/4 pounds French or Italian bread (1 1/2 to 2 loaves)
Arrange the slices almost upright in tightly spaced rows in the prepared pan.  Tuck between the slices ::
  1 cup raisins (I substituted raisins for currants)
Whisk until frothy ::
  3 large eggs (I used one)
Whisk in ::
  4 cups whole milk
  2 cups sugar
  2 tablespoons vanilla
  1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pour the liquid over the bread and let stand for 1 hour, pressing down now and then with a spatula to wet the tops of the slices.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Bake the pudding until the top is puffed and lightly browned, about 1 hour.  For me, it took exactly 1 hour.  Cover with ::
Southern Whiskey Sauce (recipe follows)
Let cool on a rack for 30 to 60 minutes, then cut into squares and serve.  Leftover sauced pudding will keep for several days in the refrigerator and can be reheated in a 300 degree F oven for 15 minutes.

Southern Whiskey Sauce ::
Makes about 1 2/3 cups; 8 to 12 servings (I halved this)

Melt over low heat in a small, heavy saucepan ::
  8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
Stir in, using a heatproof rubber spatula or wooden spoon ::
  1 cup sugar
  1/4 cup bourbon or other whiskey (we used Makers 47 - what we had on hand, I married a Kentucky man)
  2 tablespoons water
  1/4 teaspoon freshly grated or ground nutmeg
  1/8 teaspoon salt
Cook, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is blended.  Remove from the heat.  Whisk until light and frothy ::
  1 large egg
Vigorously whisk the egg into the liquor mixture.  Set the sauce over medium heat and, stirring gently, bring to a simmer.  Cook until thickened, about 1 minute.  The sauce will not curdle.  Serve at once, set aside at room temperature for up to 8 hours, or let cool then cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.  Reheat over low heat, stirring; if the sauce separates, remove from the heat and whisk in a little warm water.

Carnation Cones

These carnation cones from the February issue of Martha Stewart Living are so simple and sweet.  They have to be about the cutest party favor or small token of friendship I've ever seen!  They're so easy to make - just print off the template here, twist into the shape of a cone and secure the stem of a carnation inside!  

PS - these remind me of a construction paper flower bouquet that my bff made me one year.  I still have it even though it's been smushed in a box during multiple moves since she gave it to me!

Have a warm weekend!

Just imagine a land far, far away where the sun is shining, the air is warm and you are wearing sneakers with your pants rolled up.  That's what I'm going to be thinking this weekend.  I'm going to transport myself to this dream land where it's 75 degrees instead of 2.

I'm also ready to Bear down!  That's right, us Badgers are pretty big fans of Daaa Bears and we're ready to watch and root for them to make it to the Superbowl!  Other than that, our weekend is pretty relaxed.  I imagine there will be lots of us time together at home, wishing we had a fireplace to keep us toasty.

I don't know about you but I'm pretty much ready for summer.

Have a great weekend everyone!  Stay warm!

Etsy find :: SwedishGuyDesign

I'm really drawn to objects of this caliber over the past year or two.  When you combine Swedish/Norwegian influences/upbringings with Napa/Wine Country resources, you strike gold.  Both of these designs are made from French oak wine barrels out of Napa Valley.  They're stained from the wine which gives it that beautiful color.  Reclaimed wine barrels - what's not to love?

Visit SwedishGuyDesign here.

I hope it's warmer where you are.  It's 4 degrees here with a windchill of -10.

Vivian Maier

You might not have ever heard of the name Vivian Maier.  Judging from the era in which these photographs were taken, you probably think you should be somewhat familiar with the name.  But the name isn't familiar because Vivian's incredible collection of photographs were only discovered recently.  

In 2007, John Maloof, a Chicago resident and former real estate agent, bid on a box of negatives at an auction.  Looking for images to use for a book about the history of the neighborhood of Portgage Park, he had no idea that what rested inside the boxes could turn his life upside down.  Inside were thousands of negatives dating back to the 50s.   He has since managed to collect all of her negatives.  With no name attached to the photographs, but dozens of self-portraits, John had no idea whose world he was discovering until 2009, when he finally found a name.  As it turns out, she had died only a few days before he found out who she was.  

As soon as he began posting Vivian's photographs, emails from around the world came pouring in.  Now, exhibitions are popping up around the globe with the first one being in Norway.  The Chicago Cultural Center has Maier's work on display now through April 3.  

* Thank you, Raegan, for sharing this information with me!

In a dream world...

In a dream world, this could be my bathroom.  I could bathe in that beautiful "tub" of perfection.  But I would be pleased enough just to take a bath in it once.  Wouldn't you?!

The Melting Pot

Have any of you ever eaten at The Melting Pot before?  It's crazy.  I hadn't had fondue since the 80s, when my parents had a set and had frequent dinner parties.  We went last night with some friends, and 4 hours later we walked out of there with too-full bellies (of which mine still hasn't recovered).  But as you can see from the image above, dessert was AWESOME.  Talk about a dessert-lover's dream come true!  So worth the fullness, the not being able to sleep the whole night through, the food hangover I'm experiencing right now.  Mmm chocolate...

* Image


Jennifer Sarkilahti is the artist behind these beautiful creations taken straight out of nature.  I'm a big fan of nature-inspired jewelry, especially jewelry inspired from branches and the ocean!  Unfortunately, her work isn't sold in Illinois, but if you're lucky enough to live in one of the many states it is sold in - go check it out at once!

Magnificent Specimens

Austin, Texas photographer Dave Mead captured all of these incredible faces with creative facial hair.  After traveling to the World Beard and Mustache contest in Anchorage, Alaska in 2009, a portrait series spawned and now you can see all of the collection if you're in the Portland, Oregon area.  Titled Magnificent Specimens (very apt, don't you think?), photos of the champion beards and 'staches are on display at the Land Gallery now through February 13, 2011.  Are you facial hair-friendly?  I certainly am...my husband's beard has been called pristine.


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