Tuesday, December 28, 2010


"Believe and act as if it were impossible to fail."

~ Charles F. Kettering

Friday, December 24, 2010

christmasing with you

Merry Christmas Eve!

I love the sweetness of this song, especially when it's sung by Karen Carpenter.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

starry night

A Starry Night from Torchbox on Vimeo.

This is for my bike riding, gadget loving, computer nerd of a husband. He has been and always will be my favorite!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

visions of sugar plums

Lots of ideas are dancing in my head right now. It's a fantastic twirl of sparkly, magical ideas! What a year this has been. I'm really looking forward to the next few days- spending the holidays with my family and making the most of what remains of 2010.

Monday, December 20, 2010

happy monday!

Watching White Christmas on the big screen makes me happy!

It's playing at the Brew & View until Thursday, so there's still time to see it. And tickets are only $5- you can't beat that!

This is my all time favorite Christmas movie. I love the singing, the dancing, the costumes, everything! There was just a certain classiness about that time period- traveling on trains, drinking martinis, men wearing suits, women wearing hats. I love it!

We're in Phoenix for the holidays so I know I won't be having a white Christmas this year. I'm a little sad about this especially since it's supposed to snow in Chicago on Saturday. It would have been my first white Christmas ever. But, on the other hand I think I'll be pretty happy with 72 degrees and sunny.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

sunday supper: - turkey meatloaf & colcannon

Rosemary turkey meatloaf and colcannon with brussel sprouts hits the spot on a cold Chicago night- it's comfort food at it's healthiest. I'd never heard of colcannon before. Ebert kept saying they were "just mashed potatoes", but let me tell you they are so much more than that. Ebert doesn't love all the starchy goodness of potatoes as much as I do so we rarely ever cook with them. But, even he had to admit, while enjoying his second helping, that colcannon is not your grandma's mashed potatoes. Unless, of course, you're Irish than maybe they are.

Happy Cooking!

Friday, December 17, 2010

dream a little bigger

Check this out. Work is not a job. Love it!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

currently reading

I'm happy to say that I'm officially a Chicago Public Library card holder. I ventured out into the cold today to get my library card at the Harold Washington Library Center. Now, that's a library! 9 levels with rows and rows of beautiful bindings on every shelf. It's a book lovers dream. The main reason I went to the library was because I'm on a search for a new monologue which means I need to read plays, lots and lots of plays. As an actor this is something I should be doing on a regular basis anyway- reacquainting myself with established playwrights and reading new plays from up and coming playwrights. And while I was on my monologue quest I remembered that I've been wanting to read this book.

Yes, it's going to be some fun holiday reading for me!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

from our kitchen to yours

Nothing says Merry Christmas from the heart quite like a gift you lovingly made yourself. As you know I'm a big fan of handmade gifts, even more so when they're created in the kitchen. I haven't done any holiday baking or cooking myself, although I have bookmarked some festive recipes that I really want to try. But, with the holidays being such a busy time of year and with Christmas Day being next week already (now how did that happen?), sometimes there just isn't enough time for rolling out dough for a plate of cookies, waiting for a candy thermometer to register 236 degrees for a pan of fudge, or coating popcorn for a tin of caramel corn. As much as I love to cook and give gifts there are times when I don't want myself or my kitchen floor to end up a flour coated, sticky mess which is usually what happens when I bake. So here are some easy recipes that require very little kitchen time.

Or another variation on this is Peppermint Sticks. Both would be easy to make and remind me of this.

Another easy homemade gift idea is to dip anything edible in to melted chocolate. You could use dried apricots or any dried fruit for that matter, almonds, pears, pineapple, marshmallows, or pretzels. The possibilities are endless! You could even use a spoon.

Whether you are buying gifts, making gifts, or baking gifts I hope you are having a happy holiday season!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Monday, December 13, 2010

happy monday!

This makes me happy!

Like jump up and down, smiling from ear to ear, ridiculously happy!

Can you feel the magic?

Sunday, December 12, 2010


There's a lot of snow outside today. And, yes, it is really cold!


sunday supper: braised radishes & green beans

A few weeks ago this mysteriously appeared on our front porch. Ebert had signed us up with Organics Delivered to have organic fruits & vegetables delivered to our home every couple of weeks. It was truly a delicious surprise! When I opened the box I discovered an array of apples, pears, bananas, grapefruit, oranges, lettuce, zucchini, baby carrots, potatoes, an onion, swiss chard and radishes. My first thought was, "I can't wait to find new recipes and get cooking.", which was immediately followed by the thought, "What the heck am I going to make with swiss chard and radishes?"

I've cooked with kale before but never with swiss chard. Whenever I'm at a loss for a recipe I always go to one of my favorite foodie blogs. Of course, Eggs On Sunday did not let me down and I found this recipe. Unfortunately, I never got around to trying this recipe- the swiss chard started to wilt and I wanted to use it up before it went bad so I just sauted it with olive oil and garlic. Yummy! But, I'm sure it's even better over polenta.

I'm not a fan of radishes so I had to do some searching to find a recipe where the radishes were cooked and not just added raw to a salad. If my go-to foodie bloggers (Eggs on Sunday, Smitten Kitchen, Everybody Likes Sandwiches) don't have what I'm looking for then I go to Foodgawker- it's a recipe search engine galore and that's where I found this radish recipe.


Braised Radishes & Green Beans via honestfare

I've never braised anything before. The butter/olive oil combination worked out well, but I think if I had a cast-iron skillet my radishes would have braised a little bit better. I skipped out on using the rosemary and oregano and only used salt and pepper for seasoning. It was a very tasty dish and I may even start eating more radishes.

The vegetables paired very nicely with some leftover chicken stew I made earlier in the week with some of the potatoes from our box. It was kindof a hodge-podge, leftover meal since we also heated up a curried sweet potato & rice stew that was in our freezer. I had made this stew a while back and never posted about.


Chicken Stew via athousandsoups

It is definitely soup and stew season here in Chicago. Happy Cooking!

Friday, December 10, 2010


'Twas a lovely night indeed.


I wonder what magic Amy K.R. will have in store for 11.11.11?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

handmade & local

'Tis the season . . . . for shopping- that is if you believe what the television ads, magazines and reality shows tell us Christmas is about. Don't get me wrong, I love giving gifts and receiving gifts, but there's so much pressure to buy, buy, buy and most of it's stuff that we don't really need anyway. All I know is that I don't want to hustle and bustle through crowded stores and stand in long lines with grumpy people who are maxing out their credit cards and fighting over the last "it" toy of the season that their child has to have. That all takes the joy out of what Christmas is supposed to be about. So a few years ago Ebert and I decided not to "buy" in to the commercialism of the holidays and convinced most of our family members to do the same- so there's no presents, it's just all about the food and the people and the creating of holiday memories. We'd much rather spend our holiday season decking the halls, roasting chestnuts on an open fire, rocking around the Christmas tree, or simply dreaming of a white Christmas.

But, if I were to present shop, which I do love to do, I would buy handmade & local. And since there are so many great gift giving guides from fellow bloggers, especially from myprettymommy who agrees that "we just don't need anymore STUFF", I couldn't help but share some awesome gift ideas from local Chicago artisans.

Silver Window Ring inspired by the rose windows of Chicago churches.

Vintage Heart Brooch.

Tiny Leaf Necklace.

Framed "Midwest is Best" Postcard.

Knitting Case.

Garden Blooms Upcycled Felted Wool Mittens.

LOVE Letterpress Print.

Choose To Be Happy Wall Decal.

Nature Print of an Autumn day in Chicago.

Wooden Alphabet Block Set.

Lemon clock.

Waiting For Spring drawing in eco-friendly frame.

I'm loving pretty much everything from mojospastyle especially this tweed handbag, brown velvet purse, purple flower hat, infinity scarf, neckwarmer/cowl, and rosette turban hairpiece. Yes, just about everything from this shop is lovely!

A Chicago favorites gift basket from Southport Grocery.

1154 Lill Studio custom made handbags.

And don't forget to check out the Renegade Handmade Store in Wicker Park- it's the perfect shopping destination for handmade gifts!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Monday, December 6, 2010

happy monday!

Walking in a winter wonderland makes me happy!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

one year ago

What an adventure this past year has been. Sometimes it feels like only yesterday we were saying goodbye to LA and moving to Chicago. I can still see the beautiful mountains from our back porch. The pictures from our life there are so vivid in my mind. But, then there are moments when it seems like a lifetime ago- living in LA was such a different life for us, it feels more like a distant land that I once dreamt about rather than a place we called home. Now, LA is like this foreign country that I would be completely unfamiliar with. So much has changed.

But, here I am on the 1st of December, one year later, sitting in front of the fireplace of our Chicago apartment as tiny snowflakes quietly fall from the darkened sky. This year has been an amazing adventure and being nestled in the warmth and quiet of the evening brings about such a beautiful, happy feeling for what has happened and for what is to come.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Monday, November 29, 2010

happy monday!

My sister visiting us for Thanksgiving and drinking Gluhwein at the KindlMarket makes me happy!


Sunday, November 28, 2010

sunday supper: thanksgiving leftovers

If you woke up feeling like I felt this morning, like a stuffed turkey, then you probably aren't thinking about what to make for dinner tonight. And, just like me, you probably have a refrigerator full of leftovers that you don't know what to do with. The best day after Thanksgiving meal that's a tradition in my family is to make turkey flautas. Seriously, it's the best thing to do with all that leftover turkey. But, since we stayed in Chicago this year for Thanksgiving, the first time Ebert and I have spent Thanksgiving with his family, there were no turkey flautas for us. However, we do have some yummy turkey soup that Ebert's mom made with the turkey she cooked.


So, if you're not sure what to do with all of your Thanksgiving leftovers, here are a few recipes to inspire some creative cooking.

Turkey: Turkey Flautas

Mashed Potatoes: Garlic Mashed Potato Pancakes

Stuffing: Stuffing Meatballs

Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes: these are so good, you should really just reheat them and enjoy!

Cranberry Sauce: Leftover Cranberry Sauce Muffins or Cranberry Salsa - this salsa would be amazing with turkey flautas!

What are some your traditions for Thanksgiving leftovers?

Happy Cooking!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

cooking & eating

In preparation for Thanksgiving I've been spending a lot of time in the kitchen cooking and eating. If this keeps up I'll need to spend a few weeks at the gym. I'm starting to feel like the Pillsbury Dough Boy or the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. But, I'm trying to ignore the mass amounts of calories I've been consuming and just enjoy the fun I'm having with Ebert and my sister trying new recipes and cooking and eating. It's all about the quality time, right?

Saturday, November 20thIMG_4141.JPG

Monday, November 23rdIMG_4173.JPG

Wednesday, November 24thIMG_4180.JPG
cranberry apple french toast with rosemary potatoes, fruit salad and turkey bacon

Thursday, November 25thIMG_4191.JPG
my mom's cranberry sauce


Pomegranate Feta Salad with Raspberry and Lemon Vinaigrette
* I combined these two recipes to make one perfect salad dressing

Friday, November 26thIMG_4246.JPG
Before: Chicken Posole from XOCO

After: Chicken Posole from XOCO

I hope your Thanksgiving holiday has been filled with gratitude and lots of deliciousness!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Monday, November 22, 2010

happy monday!

Harry Potter makes me happy!

Ebert and I were invited by our friends Eric and Ivory to see an early screening of The Deathly Hallows: Part 1. I wasn't sure if Ebert was going to make it in time, but luckily his flight from Milan arrived early on Thursday. After I picked Ebert up from the airport we had about an hour to kill before we met up with Eric and Ivory- just enough time to enjoy a glass of wine while he showed me his Italy pictures, which were amazing, of course! When we arrived at the theater we only had to wait in line for about 10 minutes and since there weren't a lot of people there yet we had really great seats. Well, except for the little kids seated in our aisle who kept getting up and the noisy people behind us with their crinkling of cellophane and non-stop crunching sounds. So, except for those two things our seats were great! The other annoying thing that happened was when the projector went all wonky during the scene at the Malfoy's house and we missed Dobby saving everyone. When the screen started to flicker, I gasped! We were compensated with free small popcorn coupons, but that hardly makes up for missing one of the best scenes in the movie, so Ebert asked for free tickets. That was a much better compensation, especially since we'll be seeing the movie again when my sister is here for Thanksgiving.

We celebrated the evening with Harry Potter treats too! Ivory had goodie bags filled with gummy snakes and insects, and I made licorice wands.


As far as the movie goes, I really enjoyed it! Of course, the books will always be better. But, I never expect the movies to capture all the amazing details that J.K. Rowling has so brilliantly written. I understand that there are aspects of the story that the filmmakers have to leave out or change in order to make the story work cinematically. Now, I don't always agree with the choices of the screenwriter or the director, and I certainly had gripes about Part 1, but every time I watch one of the movies (and of course I own all of them) I'm always taken on a magical journey.

"Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?"

- Albus Dumbledore

Needless to say, I cannot wait until Part 2. And since it opens on my birthday, July 15th, I'm going to have a Harry Potter themed birthday party. This will be the first time in years that I'm actually looking forward to turning a year older.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

sunday supper: spicy parmesan green beans & kale

I found this recipe on Giada de Laurentiis's website. I had a huge craving for pasta when Ebert was in Milan, so I cooked some brown rice pasta and topped it with this green beans and kale mixture - it was so delicious! As I've mentioned before kale is a super food, but sometimes just steaming it can be a bit boring so I'm always on the lookout for new recipes that incorporate this highly nutritious leafy green vegetable. This is one that I think you will enjoy! If you don't want the pasta, it would be good over rice or as a side dish to any meal.


3 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion

¼ pound cremini mushrooms – trimmed and quartered

1 ½ pounds green beans – trimmed and cut in 1-inch pieces

2 teaspoons salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

¼ cup dry white wine - I used Gaetano D'Aquino Pinot Grigio from Trader Joe's

½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 bunch of kale (1/2 pound) - rinsed, stemmed and coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

3 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese

Warm the olive oil in a large, heavy sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms, green beans, salt, and pepper and cook for 2 minutes. Add the wine and continue cooking until the green beans are almost tender, stirring once or twice, about 5 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes and the kale and continue cooking until the kale has wilted, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the lemon juice and the parmesan cheese. Toss to coat and serve immediately.

Happy Cooking!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

harry potter

I'm excited today for two very important reasons!

#1 - Ebert comes back from Italy.

#2 - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

mid-century style

If was going to label my ideal "style" I think it would be vintage modern, at least according to some online survey I once took. I love the mid-century style. And not because I'm a Mad Men fan. I've actually never seen the show, but if I did have cable I would probably swoon over Don Draper.

I'm proud to say that I've been able to decorate our Chicago apartment with mostly Craigslist finds. I don't know much about furniture style or decorating, but I think I've created a lovely home with a good mixture of vintage and modern elements. If anything, I've been eco-friendly by buying second hand and economical by always looking for good deals. One of these days, if I can plan by blogging ahead of time, I'll show pictures of our apartment and share my tips on being a successful Craigslister. Whether you're selling or buying, it's important to know what to do and what to expect so you have the best possible Craigslist experience. Believe me, I know.

Now, if you don't want to spend hours and hours perusing Craigslist like I have, here are some places in Chicago where you can find some lovely mid-century, vintage furniture.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Monday, November 15, 2010

the train of thought

Some days my thoughts feel like a train wreck, like they’ve gone off the track of what I want my life to be. But just like The Little Engine That Could I keep telling myself “I think I can, I think I can” even when sometimes I think I can’t.

On Saturday, November 6th I was lucky to be part of another Amy K.R. mission. It was during ‘The Train of Thought’ mission when I realized that my life resembles a train ride. I especially took notice of this similarity when the train we were riding made its first stop and our group made a mad dash to switch cars so that we could all sit together. I think I do that a lot with my train, I don’t ride it as much as I should, I spend more time on the platform waiting, waiting to switch trains or for the right train to come along, essentially waiting for my life to begin, not realizing that this is my life. Right now. This moment.

“We examine each day before us with barely a glance and say, no, this isn’t one I’ve been looking for, and wait in a bored sort of way for the next, when we are convinced, our lives will start for real.” - Tom Hennen (from The Life of A Day)

So, if that’s all true, if my life is happening right now, why do I keep waiting for the next? There was a moment on the train when I was looking out the window and all of a sudden this incredible feeling of excitement came over me. It was a feeling of how exciting my life is, not only in this moment, but in the moments to come. I want to always remember that- me sitting on a train….going nowhere. Maybe that’s why it was so exciting, because I was going nowhere and just enjoying the ride. Or it could be the twinkle I saw in Amy K.R.’s eyes as she shared her inspiration with us. Because I swear to you they twinkle.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

sunday supper: cucina milanese

Ebert's in Milan this week for business. As in Milan, Italy not to be confused with Milan, Michigan or Milan, Indiana or Milan, New York. I'm sure those are fine places to visit, but maybe not worth a blog post about. Yes, I will admit that I am mildly jealous - my husband is in Italy without me! I know, I know it's for business, but still. Truth be told, I am more excited for him than I am sad for me. All his hard work is paying off, there are so many exciting opportunities coming his way and since he's pretty much the most amazing person I know he deserves all the greatness in the world.

Milan, Italy

To honor Ebert's adventure in Milan, I thought it would be fun to share some traditional Cucina Milanese. But first, here's a mouth-watering article that will give you some history on the types of food eaten in this region of Italy and another article on where to eat in Milan.

Risotto alla milanese - risotto made with saffron and bone marrow

Ossobuco - veal shanks

Costolette alla milanese - breaded veal chops

Minestrone alla milanese - minestrone soup milanese style

Risotto al salto - leftover risotto cakes

Cassoeula - pork and cabbage stew

Ceci con la tempia di maiale - chickpeas and pork temple

I really want to learn more about different Italian cuisines now. The Cucina Milanese uses more veal and pork then I would ever eat, seeing how I've never eaten either of those foods, but I do love risotto and gorgonzola and panettone. Oh, Milano!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

the life of a day

A prose poem by Tom Hennen from his book Crawling out the Window, which is sadly out of print.
Like people or dogs, each day is unique and has its own personality quirks which can easily be seen if you look closely. But there are so few days as compared to people, not to mention dogs, that it would be surprising if a day were not a hundred times more interesting than most people. But usually they just pass, mostly unnoticed, unless they are wildly nice, like autumn ones full of red maple trees and hazy sunlight, or if they are grimly awful ones in a winter blizzard that kills the lost traveler and bunches of cattle. For some reason we like to see days pass, even though most of us claim we don’t want to reach our last one for a long time. We examine each day before us with barely a glance and say, no, this isn’t one I’ve been looking for, and wait in a bored sort of way for the next, when we are convinced, our lives will start for real. Meanwhile, this day is going by perfectly well-adjusted, as some days are, with the right amounts of sunlight and shade, and a light breeze scented with a perfume made from the mixture of fallen apples, corn stubble, dry oak leaves, and the faint odor of last night’s meandering skunk.