Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Gratin Potatoes

Oh.My.Gosh. I want to make these Gratin Potatoes tonight!
Don't they look amazing? 

Cool Water Bottle

Have you seen these Platypus water bottles yet? I just bought one for my brother's birthday ( on August 1st, so don't tell him!) and I think I may have to get one for myself!

They weigh just about nothing, take up very little room ( I mean, roll it up and put it in your pocket small) and they are BPA free. When filled with water, the bottom of the bag becomes rounder, and fits perfectly in a cup holder... This is one of those things I never knew I needed until it was created. What will humans think of next!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Weekend Re-cap

 What a weekend! Perfect weather, family in town, and lots of great food. Even though we got to the boat with one minute to spare, the architectural tour was awesome. I promise, this is the last time I mention it, but it's my favorite Chicago tour, and if you get a chance to go on it, please do!

...boat tour bottom deck...

...Mom and I in the city...

We ended Sunday grilling out, and watching re-runs of An Idiot Abroad...have you ever seen this show before? If not, you have to watch it! We were all laughing so hard - I thought I was going to pee my pants! As you can guess from the name, it is about an "idiot" (from England) that goes abroad to different places. Each season goes to different places for specific reasons, and it is one of the most hilarious shows I have ever seen in my entire life... I don't want to spoil it, so that is all I will say, but go watch it if you can!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Friday Word Day

Friday is here, and what an anticipated Friday it is! The 2012 Summer Olympics are set to kick off tonight, and I'm  excited to see what London has us their sleeves for opening ceremonies

My Mom is coming in for the weekend, and John and I are going to take her on the Chicago Architectural tour...have you ever been on it? Last year I went with some friends, and loved it! If you live in chicago, or come to visit, you absolutely need to check it out!
Later, we will meet up with Johns parents for dinner, and check out the Wicker Park Fest on Sunday. 

All in all, it should be a fabulous weekend for me, and I hope you have a great time too!
Enjoy the Olympic games, and GO TEAM USA!

Word of the Day:

Paramount- more important than anything else; supreme; having supreme power

*Synonyms: supreme, sovereign, chief, top

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Going out on a Limb

There are many people over the years that claimed  Mark Twain's quote as their own, but he was really the first to mark it in writing:

"Why not go out on a limb? That's where the fruit is." 

So simple and so true.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Mushroom and Pecorino Salad

Shrooms shrooms shrooms! I could probably eat mushrooms everyday of my life...maybe even with every meal. I love mushrooms and I also love pecorino cheese- so when I saw this recipe, I just had to pass it along!  The flavors that come through in warm salads are complex and wonderful, and are the perfect compliment to any main dish. Please don't shy away if you have not eaten your greens wilted yet! Trust me on this one; you will be happy you did!

*FYI: This recipe has hazelnuts in it, but if you have nut allergies, you can always add something else for crunch!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Rainy Day Classics

Around 5 o'clock in the morning,  I woke up to the tapping of rain on our big bedroom window. Thunder drummed along; staying in perfect harmony with the rains rhythm. 
This made me one happy girl!
There is something about being in your cozy bed during a Thunderstorm that is just wonderful, don't you think?

Alas, I could not stay in bed forever... After taking Ballou for a short, wet walk, I started to get ready for the day ahead.  WBEZ's (Chicago's public radio station) was playing in the background, and an interview with William Friedkin (the director of The Exorcist and Killer Joe to name a few) came on. Interestingly, Friedkin mentioned Singing in the Rain, with Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor and Debbie Reynolds as one of his all-time favorite films. Have you ever seen this movie before? I think it's silly that I haven't, and put it on the top of my movies-to-watch list! 

Above is a clip (that I am sure you have seen at least once in your life) of Gene Kelly dancing after a date with Ms. Reynolds character. 

Annnnddddd, while we are on the subject of raining in classic films, I will leave you with Julie Andrews singing My Favorite Things, from The Sound of Music, that I am sure will make you happy !

Monday, July 23, 2012

Hot-Day Articles

Woawzzaa, it is hot hot hot outside! 
This Summer has been so heat intense, that just being outside for short periods of time is miserable. Some of my favorite activities (biking, running, walking Ballou...) have been put on hold or severely shortened.  Hopefully, Fall will stretch on a bit longer, allowing us to enjoy the great outdoors before bitter Winter hits again!

For me, the one real perk of staying inside is extra reading time! Here are some interesting articles I enjoyed checking out during the last heat-hibernation! 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Friday Word Day

I don't know about you, but I woke up this Morning, welcoming in Friday with open arms! What will you be up to this weekend? Hopefully, the intense heat wave that's supposed to come back to the Midwest will give us a couple of days to cool first.  Swimming is a must for the weekend, but no real plans besides that.

Enjoy your weekend and try to spend time outside! You will regret not doing so when the winter freeze comes back!

P.S. I found this on pinterest and had to share it with you! Isn't it awesome advice?

OK here is your Friday Word:

Gratuitous- Given unearned or without recompense: not involving a return benefit.

*Synonyms: Complimantary, gratis, free

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Chickpea Salad

Yesterday, I had a hankering for veggies and chickpeas.  I ended up making this chickpea salad that turned out super-duper yummy! It started with a little of this and a sprinkle of that...and turned out great! This would be a perfect summer side for any dinner!

Chickpea Chopped Salad

  • 1 can organic chickpeas
  • 1/2 red  onion-chopped
  • 1 vine ripened tomato-chopped
  • 3 (ish) stalks of celery-chopped
  • Lettuce of your choosing (chopped or torn)
  • Balsamic vinegar, olive oil, kosher salt and cracked pepper
-Mix chopped ingredients with chickpeas, sprinkle a little salt, pepper, olive oil and balsamic - and that is it! Super simple to make, and very yummy to eat. If you want, place dish in the fridge for 15 minutes to chill. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Vacation To Gulf

OK, I promised to get these pictures up... and two weeks later, they are here! Sorry for the delay, but camera meltdowns were involved... now, back to the vacation - I now know what you need to have for a perfect vacation (and here is my equation breakdown). 

 Great people + a beautiful beach + amazing food + beach drinks + dancing + great people (sorry it's worth saying twice) = Perfect Vacation

And here are the pictures to prove it:

Annie chilling at the beach! A crab named Vince came to say hello right after I took this picture.

Where Florida and Alabama meet, marks Flora-Bama... Oh you should go!

Dunes by the beach...this is our view from the bar!

Carving our names to mark our spot... 

And hanging out with the locals... and admiring their choice in clothing.

There you have it- the perfect equation for Vacation! Try it for yourself!

Book-Club Book

I forgot to share our book-club pick for this month! We are reading, Sin In The Second City by: Karen Abbott. So far I am a third through it and cannot put it down! This is a non-fiction book that reads like fiction, and is jam-packed with Chicago's 1900's history of brothel life, it's reformation and Chicago's foggy politics. I would say this is a great summer read, but it's actually a great read for any season- absolutely worth checking out!

P.S. I have not read Devil In The White City by: Erik Larson, but know Sin In The Second City came out on its coattails and did not receive as much attention because of it. Both ( I've heard) are similar in writing style. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Morning Drink

What do you drink in the Morning?
 Coffee, Green tea, Black tea, Orange Juice, Water? 
To me, there is just something about coffee that makes waking up for the day even better. In an attempt to cut a little caffeine out of my diet, I recently started drinking green tea in the morning... but had to stop because I missed the taste of my A.M. coffee too much! As long as I make sure to have a big glass of water after, I am good to go!

To all my fellow coffee and tea drinkers, try to skip the sugar, or use honey instead!

Here are tips for making a perfect cup of coffee and a perfect cup of tea -with steeping instructions!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Weekly Mantra

Hello there! This weekend went by in a blink, and now we are right back to Monday! John will be in NYC for a few days and I am super bummed that I couldn't come with him! Are you a fan of NYC?  People that I've talked to either love it or hate it, and I consider myself on the love it side...as long as I can come back home to Chicago! This is Johns first time, and I am interested to hear what he thinks...

 My mantra for the week comes from a quote I found on Pinterest: 

What's your weeks Mantra?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Friday Word Day

Happy Friday once again! I cannot believe a full week has passed
 from my vacation with Annie on the Gulf...
I mean, I still haven't unpacked completely!
This weekend will be focused on getting my life back in order. 
My hands have been super dry this summer, so
 this summer scrub  I plan on making this weekend
 will be Oh-So helpful. 

What will you be doing this weekend? 

Friday Word:

Savoir-faire- the ability to act or speak appropriately in
 any situation; say or do the right thing gracefully.

*Synonyms: manners, nobility, polish, perception 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Coming Soon

P.S. I promise to have vacation pictures up from Mine and Annies adventures by next week! 

What Friends Are For

Last night, John and I met a few friends for a little cookout. The food was wonderful and the company, even better... You know, it was one of those perfect summer afternoons that replays in your dreams on cold winter nights...reminding you of why summer time tends to be the best time.
 While the boys stood around the grill, my friend Jessica and I took a back seat on a bench and chatted about life. I do not know what we really talked about, but in the end, that really doesn't matter. What matters is that I could tell her anything and know that she is listening without judgement.
 Being in the presence of a true friend is worth more than its weight in gold, and I felt lighter when I left, even with a belly full of food. To me, that is what God is... good energy and wonderful feelings.

OK, on to Tonight! John and I are planning on seeing Wes Andersons newish film,  Moonrise Kingdom. Have you seen it yet? I've heard more positive than negative review wise, and usually love what Anderson produces... Cannot wait to check it out!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Veggie Parathas

Lately, I have been in the mood to try new things, explore new places, and learn as much as I can.

Each week, I am setting a goal to try at least one new recipe from a different part of the World. This week, I want to make something from India, and found this amazing recipe from the blog, Indian summer. Have you ever had veggie paratha's before? They seem like savory vegetable pancakes (I'm thinking zucchini pancakes) and I cannot wait to try them out!

If you're feeling adventurous, you should make them with me... If not, don't worry, I will take pictures for you to see how mine turn out!

Letting Go

Letting go is hard.... at least for me.
When I set my mind to something and the exact opposite happens, I feel horrible. 
Sometimes, it takes a while move on from the situation. A while to start anew. 
Here are the top ten ideas from the Tiny Buddha's  article on
 40 Ways to Let Go and Feel Less Pain

1. Learn a new skill instead of dwelling on the skills you never mastered.
2. Change your perception—see the root cause as a blessing in disguise.
3. Cry it out. According to Dr. William Frey II, PH.D., biochemist at the Ramset Medical Center in Minneapolis crying away your negative feelings releases harmful chemicals that build up in your body due to stress.
4. Channel your discontent into an immediate positive action—make some calls about new job opportunities, or walk to the community center to volunteer.
5. Use meditation or yoga to bring you into the present moment (instead of dwelling on the past or worrying about the future.)
6. Make a list of your accomplishments—even the small ones— and add to it daily.You’ll have to let go of a little discontentment to make space for this self satisfaction.
7. Visualize a box in your head labeled “Expectations.” Whenever you start dwelling on how things should be or should have been, mentally shelve the thoughts in this box.
8. Engage in a physical activity. Exercise decreases stress hormones and increases endorphins, chemicals that improve your state of mind.
9. Focus all your energy on something you can actually control, instead of dwelling on things you can’t.
10. Express your feelings through a creative outlet, like blogging or painting. Add this to your to-do list and cross it off when you’re done. This will be a visual reminder that you have actively chosen to release these feelings.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Lennon and Maisy

OH MY GOSH! Annie introduced me to these two AMAZING sisters while on vacation. They are so wonderful and these video's impressed me beyond words. I cannot believe they are 12 and 8 years old...Check out Lennon and Maisy! 

The Perfect Night

Last night was as close to perfect. When I came home from work, John and I decided to finally clean our grill out that we found a year ago. After it was sparkling clean, we shopped at my favorite store (Whole Foods) and went to the hardware store for new grill tools!
 I prepped the food, John manned the grill, and we ate on the porch by the light of a flickering citronella candle. Just thinking about the grilled veggies, corn and avocado salad, and turkey burgers (veg-burger for me) makes my mouth salivate. The Civil Wars were playing in the background, and our conversation was both interesting and inspiring.

Don't you love those perfect nights? The feeling I had was exactly how I think we will always feel in heaven.

*I had pictures from last night, but for some odd reason, they just were not uploading right... these pictures are from Whole Foods website, and are similar to what we ate! Click on them if you want the recipe.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Deodorant Cream

Hello Everybody! I am back from vacation, and have missed you! The Gulf was beautiful, and we had a great time playing in the water, eating fresh seafood and dancing around at the local bars. Now, it is back to reality and back to work... but before I start my day, I did want to mention something I read about in this month's Elle...Deodorant cream from Soap Walla (via Etsy)! 

It's all natural, and is supposed to work very well! The company's creator wanted a product to help calm her Lupus rashes and to nourish her skin (our biggest organ).  I like people who take lemons and make lemonade, and love supporting others with Lupus even more.  
Before I found Soap Walla, I was close to giving up hope on a natural deodorant.  Now, I may have a true solution. Please try it with me!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Why Today is Amazing

Today has already been amazing! Why you ask?

Because today is Ballou Bears 4th Birthday!

It is mine and Johns Anniversary

I am leaving for Nashville to vacation for the rest of the week!

Thank you Ballou for being such an amazing dog. You mean more to me than you know. Thank you John for being an exceptional person and the man of my dreams.

I ADORE you both!

P.S. A man gave up his seat for me on a jam-packed EL because I was standing with my luggage. Please send that man your positive energy...one act of kindness can go so far. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Ginger Sangria

Monday is here once again and it is a busy one for me. Tomorrow I will be leaving for Vacation and cannot wait to get it started! I am going to Nashville first to meet up with one of my besties (Annie Bobannie), and then we are off to a beach house in Alabama! 
When I have finished packing tonight, all I will be doing is relaxing with John. Tomorrow is our anniversary, so hopefully we can celebrate a little bit tonight... I was thinking about grabbing a drink, but it's so hot out, we may just have to grab frozen yogurt!

This drink does look mighty tasty... and there is something about the name, Ginger Sangria, that makes it sound so refreshing! Maybe we will just have to have both...


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