Saturday, February 26, 2011

and the oscar goes to...

This is the first year in all my years of Oscar watching that I've actually seen all the nominated films for Best Picture. I always get excited about watching the Oscars, as an actor it's like my Superbowl, and this year is no exception. In fact, I might even be more excited due to the fact that I saw all 10 films- watching all the nominated films for Best Picture is on my list of 30 Things To Do Before I Turn 31. But, when this year's nominees were announced I was doubtful that I'd be able to cross this off my list since I had only seen one out of the ten nominated films. I knew I was in for a lot of movie watching in a short amount of time if I wanted to accomplish this small goal, but I decided that I was up for the challenge. I started adding to our Netflix queue, renting from iTunes (which I highly suggest doing), and scheduling movie dates with friends. Of course, I procrastinated a bit which meant I had to watch four films this week, three of them in the past three days. Talk about cutting it close. Sheesh!

Some of my picks aren't necessarily who I want to win, but who I think will win. I hope I'm wrong in those categories. We'll find out tomorrow.

And the Oscar goes to...

Picture: The Social Network
Actor: Colin Firth
Supporting Actor: Geoffrey Rush
Actress: Natalie Portman
Supporting Actress: Melissa Leo
Director: David Fincher
Adapted Screenplay: The Social Network
Original Screenplay: Inception
Cinematography: True Grit
Editing: The Social Network
Foreign Language: Biutiful
Animated Film: Toy Story 3
Documentary (Feature): Gasland
Documentary (Short Subject): The Warriors of Qiugang
Art Direction: Alice In Wonderland
Costume Design: Alice In Wonderland
MakeUp: The Wolfman
Music (Original Score): The Social Network
Music (Original Song): 127 Hours
Short Film (Animated): Day & Night
Short Film (Live Action): Na Wewe
Sound Editing: Inception
Sound Mixing: Inception
Visual Effects: Alice In Wonderland

Friday, February 25, 2011

for your weekend

1. to encourage your hard work

2. to do what you love every day

3. to inspire your creativity

4. to connect us

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


The winter blues, cabin fever, seasonal effect disorder, what have you is beating down on me. And the gorgeous warm weather we had last week didn't help either- it was such a tease! Now it's all cold and snowy again with nothing but gloom in the forecast.

I cannot wait for spring! I cannot wait to eat ice cream again! I don't know about you, but ice cream just doesn't do it for me during the winter time. I only crave warmth during these long dreary months. Although looking at the creamy, melting goodness of the gelato in this picture is making me think twice. I'm telling you as soon as it gets above 70 degrees I'm going to enjoy three scoops of gelato awesomeness from Paciugo. I know it's a chain gelato store, and I'm really trying to only feature local Chicago shops, but seriously it's so good! And you'll be happy to know that each store has gelato masters who make fresh gelato every morning. That's local enough for me.

It's been so long since I've been there I can't remember what flavors are in this picture, but they always feature unique combinations that pop, blend, then melt in your mouth. And the best part - they aren't stingy about samples. If you can't make up your mind, which is me every time I go in there, they'll be happy to let you try all the flavors until you find your favorite. I would only suggest doing this during slow times, otherwise the line of people who are waiting out the door could start to riot. I can't really blame them, they just want some gelato too!

I don't know if this is the best gelato shop in Chicago seeing how it's the only one I've been to, but so far it's my favorite. If you think you know of the best place then please share in the comment section. I'd love to check out your recommendations...during spring and summer time, of course!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


"Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish."

~ John Quincy Adams

Monday, February 21, 2011

happy monday!

Creating a yoga practice makes me happy!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

sunday supper: the finer things club #2

It's been a while since I've shared the fine dining inspiration of The Finer Things Club. It's a gloomy, rainy Sunday in Chicago- the kind of day when you want nothing else but to eat someone else's cooking. Looks delicious, right? I'm glad I come from a family of amazing cooks! I just wish they lived closer to me.

Here is the foodie awesomeness from the FTC's second gathering.

Appetizer One - Platter of Salami, Cheese, Marinated Artichokes, Tomatoes & Fresh Basil
Appetizer Two - Tomato Basil Bruschetta241
Appetizer Three - Roasted Peppers Stuffed w/Spinach, Feta & Bacon251
First Course - Arugula, Pear & Bleu Cheese Salad
2 pears, 4 TB extra-virgin olive oil, 1/2 TB shallot (diced), 2 TB sherry vinegar, 2 TB pure maple syrup,
1 TB lemon juice, salt and pepper (to taste), 4 tsp bleu cheese, 3/4 cup arugula or baby greens

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice pears in half. Toss with 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil. Roast in oven for 6 to 8 minutes. Scoop out seeds with a spoon or melon baller. To make vinaigrette, mix shallots, vinegar, maple syrup, lemon juice, 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil and salt and pepper, to taste, in a mixing bowl. Meanwhile, stuff about 1 teaspoon blue cheese into the center of each pear half, and place back in the oven until cheese melts. Toss greens with vinaigrette. Place a warm pear half and 1/4 of the greens on four salad plates.

Second Course - Pumpkin Gnocchi w/Raisins, Pine Nuts, Brown Butter & Sage
1 cup (little more then half of 15 oz. can) organic canned pumpkin, 2 cups flour, 1/4 tsp nutmeg (optional), 4 TB butter, 3 TB fresh sage leaves (chopped), 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup Raisins, 1/4 cup Pine nuts, salt and pepper (to taste)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, combine pumpkin, flour and nutmeg, if desired, in a medium bowl. Blend with a fork until dough forms, then turn out onto a cutting board and knead a few times until smooth. Divide dough into eight equal pieces. Roll each piece into an 8-inch rope and cut into eight pieces.

Reduce water heat to medium and add gnocchi. Cook about 2 minutes, just until gnocchi float to the top. Drain and set gnocchi aside. Melt butter in the gnocchi pot over medium heat. When it starts to brown, add sage and toss for 30 seconds. Slightly toast pine nuts in a dry pan. Return gnocchi to pot and toss with sauce. Dish gnocchi, then sprinkle with cheese, raisins & pine nuts and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Dessert - Lemon Olive Oil Cake307
Happy Cooking!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

he's my favorite

Just another reason why Ebert's my favorite.

IMG 5492
I came home from yoga this afternoon and found this note on our coffee maker. Ebert had left for the suburbs because he was spending the night out there to help with an ABD event. He knows that I'm a horrible coffee maker, so he got everything ready so that on Sunday morning all I have to do is push the ON button to start brewing my morning coffee.

It's really quite humorous because I worked at Starbucks for 6 years, so you'd think that I'd be able to make a decent pot of coffee at home. Nope. I was on a roll for a while when I was making a french press, however that only lasted a few months- it became too labor intensive and I wasn't getting the grind right and that makes all the difference. I've had Ebert show me exactly what he does and I've followed his instructions to a T, but it's just not the same. When he makes the coffee it just tastes better. I think he adds a little magic to it!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

just a list...

of happiness - recent and upcoming.

1. dinner with friend's at n-yay

2. the Puzzle Cap Toddy at Owen & Engine, but I can't wait to try the goat milk cheesecake

3. beer and trivia night at Paddy Long's

4. making these spicy brownies

5. seeing Here Come The Mummies at the House of Blues

6. the new Radiohead album

7. $5.50 movies at the Davis Theater

8. practicing yoga again

9. finding that something I bring everything to

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


All you need is love, love, love is all you need.

Monday, February 14, 2011

happy monday!

Following your heart and intuition makes me happy!

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

- Steve Jobs, 2005 Stanford Commencement Address

Saturday, February 12, 2011

weekend romance

On the eve eve of Valentine's Day, I thought I'd share some of my favorite romantic movies that were filmed in Chicago....because I heart Chicago and I'm hopelessly full of romantic optimism.

And another favorite is Return To Me. to you all!

Thursday, February 10, 2011


I absolutely love this- it's definitely words to live by.

Since I'm "two parts loner, one part joiner", and yes, I'll admit it, a bit of a control freak, I tend to take on solitary ventures. But, maybe now is the time to start creating together. So, I'm putting this out to the Universe- who wants to collaborate with me on something awesome?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

sweet mandy b's

Ebert and I have cabin fever. Our need for sunshine and fresh air only intensified after the Great Blizzard of 2011. We had to get outside. So, we went for a walk. It was cold and we had to maneuver through brown slush puddles of melting snow, but the sun was shining. It felt good. We meandered down streets and through various neighborhoods, and ended up here, at Sweet Mandy B's. Of course, we had to go inside! I mean, come on, it was cold and we needed to warm our hands. We were just being neighborly. And, well, after the delicious smells of butter and sugar mixing together wafted through our olfactory system we decided that we should really support a local business. How altruistic of us, right? We shared a Ranger cookie (oatmeal, chocolate chip, rice krispy and walnut goodness!) and it was amazing! If you haven't been to Sweet Mandy B's, go now. The calories are worth it!

IMG 5347

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Monday, February 7, 2011

happy monday!

Cross-country skiing for the first time on a frozen river with family and friends makes me happy!

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Sunday, February 6, 2011

sunday supper: bacon anything

I won't be watching the "big game" today, even though I'll be at a superbowl party. I'm just not a sports watching kind of gal. But, all this game-day talk got me thinking about the perfect kinds of superbowl party food—and what's a party without bacon. Bacon anything.

In all honesty I've never had real bacon. I grew up a vegetarian and I've only been eating meat (poultry) for the past 8 years. However, I will admit that even during my veggie days the smell of bacon was pretty damn good. I don't consider myself a full-fledged carnivore yet- I'm still very particular about what kinds of meat I eat and, alas, bacon is not on that list, but turkey bacon is. So, feel free to substitute turkey bacon for any of these recipes. I'm sure it'll be just as good!

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Bacon Wrapped Dates

I made these bacon wrapped dates for New Year's Eve and they were oh so yummy! I did use turkey bacon and only stuffed half of them with goat cheese, the other half I left plain. I think adding an almond to them would be a nice, crunchy addition.

Cream Cheese and Bacon Stuffed Jalapenos via Life'sAmbrosia

Sweet Potatoes with Blue Cheese & Bacon via familyfreshcooking

Bacon Pops! via TheKitchn

Candied Bacon and Rosemary Shortbread via tiffintales

Happy Cooking!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

blizzard: before & after, part 2


blizzard: before & after, part 1

BEFORE: 2.1.11 @ 5:30pmIMG_5125.JPG

AFTER: 2.2.11 @ 8:30amIMG_5132.JPG

Now, that's a lot of snow!

And I really need to take the tag off that rug. I'm pretty sure I'm keeping it.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

the unknown

I have no idea what to expect these next 48 hours, it's mildly terrifying yet at the same time completely exhilarating. A blizzard? What's a blizzard? My thoughts exactly. All I know is that Mother Nature is a beautiful force, both serene and monstrous and we are completely helpless when it comes to her ferocity. If she truly is unleashing her massive powers over us, then there's nothing we can do except welcome her magic with open arms. I feel like that is the bigger lesson for trust what the unknown will bring.

via pica