Tuesday, December 31, 2013

happy new year!

It's the last few hours of 2013. Ebert and I are on a plane to Puerto Rico to celebrate our 5-year anniversary. I'm sure there will be lots of reflecting on this trip, not only of this past year but of the past 5 years. I know it's a bit of a cliche to say but seriously where has the time gone?

I'm really looking forward to a new year with new opportunities for creating my happy and doing all things with love. 2014 I'm expecting lots of awesomeness from you!

Happy New Year, friends! May this new year be filled with love and happiness for each one of you.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

yule log

Ha! "This is not your parent's Yule Log". That's for sure. Yule Log 2.0 is all sorts of awesomeness. I think I'm more mesmerized by the sounds of the crackling yule log than I am by the images, but some of the videos have definitely made me laugh out loud. Just listening to the yule log makes me want to sit by my Christmas tree surrounded by the twinkle of its lights and the glow from computer, drinking a glass of eggnog and being completely zoned out. Now that sounds like a nice night!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

puerto rico

This is why I'm excited about the end of the year…in less than four weeks Ebert and I are headed to Puerto Rico to celebrate our 5-year anniversary. I can't believe it's going to be five years since we said "I do". Where has the time gone? Anyway, it's going to be an amazing trip! We're looking forward to escaping the cold, wintery streets of Chicago in exchange for the warm, sandy beaches of the Caribbean. We leave on New Year's Eve so we'll be ringing in the New Year in Old San Juan. After a couple days in the city we'll head to the west coast, then drive to the east coast and make our way back to Old San Juan before heading home. It will be an epic journey around the island of Puerto Rico.

Monday, December 2, 2013

seasonal stove simmer

A Beautiful Mess recently had a great post about making homemade stove simmers. I tried my own version the night before Thanksgiving and it made the apartment smell delicious. I used fresh cranberries, orange peels, lemon slices, fresh rosemary and a cinnamon stick. I kept it simmering throughout the whole night, adding more water when needed. At one point I threw in some fresh ginger and apple slices. I love this idea because you can really make it your own- you can simmer just about anything that you think might smell good.

This is a similar idea for the fireplace. I'm going to make a few to take to my in-laws house since they have a real fireplace and we only have a gas one. It's going to smell so Christmas-y!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

it's beginning to look a lot like christmas...

especially in our apartment! We started out the holiday season today by getting our Christmas tree. It's a little Balsam Fir that we've lovingly named 'little tree'. It's only four feet tall and I think the stand is bigger then the tree, but we love it! It's our very first tree together and we've decorated it with just five ornaments. We also hung some lights on our mantle to make it extra pretty in our living room. But the best part of all this festive merry-making was watching White Christmas- my all time favorite Christmas movie- while stringing lights and hanging ornaments. I think we have a new tradition.

I hope you had a happy first day of December, friends! I still can't believe it's already Christmas. This year has flown by. I'm planning on kicking some creative ass this next month but I'll admit I'm really looking forward to the beginning of 2014. I'll share why I'm excited in a couple days.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

between fall and winter

It's somewhere between fall and winter. That time of year when leaves get frozen in ice puddles and there's still a hint of warmth in the air but as the days go by it slowly becomes a faint memory of what once was. As the coldness arrives there's a feeling that you just don't know what's coming next.

{images via create.your.happy}

Monday, November 18, 2013

this year's ornament

This year's ornament has arrived! Year five's ornament…can you believe it?

I started this year's search having already put a lot of pressure on myself to find just the perfect ornament. Sure, I wanted something "just a little bit fancier" but I had no idea what that was. All I knew was that I wanted something special because celebrating five years of marriage is something special. Luckily, I came across Timber Green Woods on my first etsy search. I knew this was the ornament as soon as I saw it and it was a good thing Ebert did too! It wasn't as fancy as I thought I had originally wanted but it ended up capturing everything that I was looking for- something special and heartfelt. And the best part is that it comes from Wisconsin where Mike's family roots are. Perfect, right?

Now, I'm not one to get overly excited about Christmas and I don't hang decorations throughout our apartment but this year there will be a tree in our window with white lights and all five of our ornaments will be hanging on our tree for all to see. It will be merry and bright!

Monday, November 11, 2013

happy monday

It's cold and dreary in Chicago. The forecast says snow later this afternoon. I will try to find the happiness within this change of season, but I'm really not looking forward to it. At least change is better then things just staying the same. And I definitely don't want things to stay the same. So if the snow must come to bring change…then bring it on winter.

Happy Monday!

{image via create.your.happy}

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

chile lime roasted pepitas

One of my favorite things about fall is all the delicious flavors and one of my favorite fall flavors is pumpkin. I pretty much love anything pumpkin, especially pumpkin seeds. But carving pumpkins to get all the seeds is a bit too much work for me so I buy pepitas instead. I made these chile and lime roasted pepitas over the weekend and they are deliciously spicy. I've been carrying them in a little container in my purse all week. I love having a healthy snack while on the go.

Next time I'm going to try this, this, or this.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

today is the day

Since today is the day then you're probably not reading this because you are out there creating your happy! That makes me happy. When you have a moment you'll read this, and smile, and say "Yes, today was the day!"

Monday, November 4, 2013

wise words

There is something to be said about doing. Even if you can only muster a little doing per day…at least it's something. It's a start to something more, and the more you do the more things happen.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

new recipe: pea hummus

October's new recipe was pea hummus, or as I called it on Halloween 'Snot of Dwarf'. I paired this hummus with some homemade rosemary parmesan crackers. Both of these new recipes were delicious! I was actually surprised by how much people loved the pea hummus. The only reason I made it was because we had a Halloween potluck contest at work and we had to use client brands. My goal was to use as many client products as possible. The four client brands I used are pictured below.

For the 'Snot of Dwarf' I combined this recipe with some of this recipe to get one awesome hummus!

  • 1 can Le Seur peas, set aside 1/4 cup
  • 1 can white cannellini beans
  • half jar of Beechnut Sweet Pea baby food
  • handful of Bhuja Spicy Peas
  • curly parsley
  • olive oil
  • lots of garlic cloves
  • juice from lemon
  • ground cumin
  • smoked paprika
  • sea salt
  • pepper
  • feta
  • In a food processor, pulse the parsley and olive oil. Add the peas, cannellini beans, sweet pea baby food, garlic cloves and process until it is as smooth as you like it. Add the feta, lemon juice, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper to suit your taste. Once it tastes good for you then add the rest of the Le Seur peas, pulse just enough to mix not to blend- keeping some of the peas whole adds a nice texture. I drizzled some of the leftover baby food on top and crunched the Bhuja peas for some added spice. It is definitely better the next day.

    I apologize that this recipe doesn't have exact measurements but I really did just wing it. My mom always says a recipe is just a guideline- and with this recipe you can adjust any of the ingredients to your liking.

    For the crackers I followed the recipe exactly. The only thing I would do differently is to roll them out a bit thinner.

    It was a fun competition and I won this awesome prize for 'Best Use of Ingredients'!

    Sunday, October 27, 2013

    fall adventure

    Ebert and I are back from our fall adventure in Michigan. Our little cottage was nestled in the woods. It was a little more rustic on the inside then we had expected, and not in a modern and hip way, but it served its purpose of offering us a place to getaway from the routine of our every day. What we liked most was that even though there were houses nearby it was always quiet and at night there were no street lights which made the dark that much darker.

    We enjoyed the beautiful fall foliage...

    and said hello to the local residents on the short walk from the cottage to the lake.

    It was picturesque both at sunset and during the day but we were always the only ones walking along the water, which was a little eerie, but probably because it was so windy and cold.

    Sometimes the lake looked like the sea rather than a lake as it did when we went hiked through the Saugatuck Dunes.

    We'd walk around the little towns of Saugatuck and Holland, then hang out at a coffee shop drinking espresso or tea, reading and writing...

    but mostly staying warm when it snowed.

    We went cider tasting...

    and apple picking. We also stopped at the orchard's pie shop and got apple pie and apple cider donuts. Of course, we had to try all of the local favorites!!

    And we ate at this restaurant twice. The food was delicious, the cocktails superb, but the best part was...

    the amazing bread they served with house made butter and salt and pepper. Luckily for us they sold their bread by the loaves so we were able to enjoy it on the nights we stayed home and cooked. We bought two loaves of bread in 5 days, that's how much we loved it!

    It was a fun getaway but it was really nice to come back on Friday and have the rest of the weekend to relax in the comforts of our own home. Now it's time to get busy and kick some creative butt. I can't believe there's only two months left of this year. Plenty of time for creating my happy!

    Sunday, October 20, 2013

    creative retreat

    Ebert and I are heading to Michigan today for a whole week. We rented a little cottage in the woods just a short walk from Lake Michigan. But get this…it doesn't have any internet! Yikes! When we finally narrowed down the places we wanted to rent we almost took our little cottage off the list because we weren't sure if we really wanted to be without internet. But then we realized that because it doesn't have internet that it was the perfect place. We need to unplug.

    We're calling it our creative retreat because we'll be creating our happy without all of the distractions. There'll be lots of reading and writing and picture taking and hiking and cooking. All the things that we haven't made time for recently.

    Have a great week!

    Saturday, October 12, 2013

    the other side of

    Just a little weekend inspiration for you, my friends.

    Sunday, September 29, 2013

    new recipe: september

    Here's a delicious recipe for a one pot pasta. I was skeptical about putting all the ingredients into one pot. Was everything really going to cook together perfectly? But it did and it was amazing. It was especially good over the next couple of days for lunch when I added peas and some pieces of chicken sausage to it. This is a great weekday recipe when you don't have a lot of time but want a hearty meal.

    Sunday, September 22, 2013

    summer highlights

    As we say hello to the first day of fall, I'd like to give one last "warm" farewell to summer by sharing with you some of my favorite summer moments.

    Canoeing in Wisconsin with some of my favorite people.

    Grilling pizzas, especially with my sister and her boyfriend, Ben.

    Grilling fajitas.

    Going to Wrigley Field. I went to three games this summer. Thank goodness there was only a rain delay once, but too bad the Cubs never won.

    Spending time with my sister.

    Celebrating my birthday with this guy.

    Flying my mom out to Chicago for a visit.

    Hosting a gin bar for a friend's birthday.

    via ivoryflores

    And lets not forget about drinking this beer. Eating my first Chicago style hot dog. Finishing the 365 project and having one of my photos chosen for the 100 Days of Chicago exhibit at the Chicago Photography Center. Bike rides through the city at night. Sleeping with the windows open. And just moments of peaceful quiet in the warmth of the sun.

    Summer…you were good. Thanks for the fun!

    Sunday, September 8, 2013

    new recipe: august

    I'm trying one new recipe a month. I decided to try something easy for August and make this raw kale salad from a daily something. It really is a simple summer dinner and if you make enough there should be plenty of leftovers for lunch the next day. We love leftovers in our house, but it's rare that we ever have them because whatever we cook is so delicious we eat it all up.

    I've made kale salads before but what I liked about this recipe was the addition of the crispy chickpeas, it gave the salad a really nice crunch.

    If you're looking for more kale recipes try this or this- these are perfect for fall.

    {image via create.your.happy}

    Tuesday, September 3, 2013

    thank you, summer!

    Thank you, summer! It was fun. I'm not quite ready to say goodbye but I know you have to be on your way. The leaves are already starting to fall and you have other places to go. I'll miss you terribly. Please come back soon. I'm not so fond of the long, cold months that are ahead. At least I'll have the memories that we shared to get me through- feeling the hot breath of the sun on my skin, sipping beers on the back porch, riding my bike through the city streets at night, the cool breeze whispering through the leaves, family, friends, fun. Ah, yes...it was indeed a happy summer.

    {image of this awesome print from girlhula via create.your.happy}

    Thursday, August 22, 2013

    beauty between the cracks

    This sunflower is just growing between the cracks of a sidewalk right in the middle of Chicago. It's a thing of beauty that stands alone. A little concrete wasn't going to stop this sunflower from reaching its full potential. It found its way up to the light no matter what. The beauty of the sunflower, your beauty, can always find a way between the cracks. You can't let anything stop you from growing… just like this sunflower.

    {image via create.your.happy}