Friday, April 29, 2011

Things that make me happy!

No work until Sunday at 3:00... AND... no big plans! Drinks with friends tonight, and a 5k race on Sunday morning. No big commitments, thought, which is my favorite type of weekend!

I learned that you can buy celery by the piece at Whole Foods!
This seriously made my day, because I hate eating celery,
but buy it some times to cook with.
Now I won't have most of the head of celery rot in my fridge!

Chicken meatballs.
I had to taste one before adding them to the soup I was making.

Easter lilies, bought on Monday for a ridiculously low price :)

Dinner for two, and actually sitting at the table.
Italian Wedding Soup, fresh baked bread, tasty cheese.

Macarons for dessert.

Most of all, this guy makes me happy.
Even if he refuses to take a picture where he's not goofing off.
That's part of what makes me happy!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Holy big picture!

Ok, blogging from my phone works... But might be best if I avoid pictures!

Here's to the weekend!

GeoTagged, [N41.90911, E87.65279]

I know it's only Thursday, but since I have the next two days off, I'm starting my weekend early :) I figured I'd enjoy a beer at Whole Foods before grocery shopping. It's normal to work on your grocery list while sitting at a bar, right?

(Also, this is a test post from my phone! I hope it works!)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Easter Weekend

We had a great time this weekend! I had to work early on Saturday, so we kept Friday night low key. The first disc of season 4 of  Big Love finally arrived from Netflix, so I convinced Joe we needed to watch all three episodes within a single evening. It's such a great show! Now I'm checking the mail everyday to see if the next disc has arrived yet.

Saturday night we went over to Julie and Jay's condo, to eat tasty Mexican food and help them brew their first batch of beer. Really, mostly Julie and I sat with our beverages and talked nonstop, while the guys did most of the brewing. Their equipment and supplies were a little different than what we're used to, but I think the batch should still be a great success! It was fun chatting with them as we did the brewing, and I can't wait to try the final product. Also, I'm constantly amazed at how well Joe understands the brewing process. He is able to answer so many advanced questions in a really in depth way. Maybe after he makes his millions in finance (a girl can wish, right?), then he can open a brewery of his own!

I was lucky to get Easter off from work, so we planned to spend the day with our good friends Jess and Henry. We've done multiple holiday celebrations with them before, and now that they are talking about moving, I wanted to make sure we spent Easter together.

We decided sleeping in was important, so we didn't meet up until the 11:30 mass. It was a lovely service, with a full choir and not too many loud adorable children. I love how joyful Easter is, after the somber time during Lent.

After church we went home and made a huge brunch, with amazing coffee cake, fresh fruit, bacon, sausage, and an asparagus and red pepper strata. It was a feast! At this point we added some mimosas into the celebration, too :)

Joe and I had planned on brewing on Sunday afternoon, since it was a rare weekend day that we were both home all day. Jess and Henry couldn't resist the fun, so they stuck around and helped with the Belgian Tripel that we brewed. Besides the wort chiller shooting out boiling water as it was sanitized, the batch seemed successful, and I'm pleased to report it was fermenting away by the next day.

It was a pretty beer centric last couple of days!  I can't wait to taste the batches that were started this weekend, and I'm glad we're reinvigorated after a couple slightly frustrating batches of beer. We have to brew a lot in the next couple months, because by later summer it gets too warm in our condo. Hopefully we can stock up by that time!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Homebrew Dinner

A few weeks ago, Joe and I went to the first Square Kegs homebrewers get together, and had the chance to meet other homebrewers at this event put on by the Lincoln Square Chamber of Commerce. The event was at Red Lion, a British pub that just opened up a block from our house, and we had a wonderful time meeting tons of cool people and drinking their tasty homebrewed beers.  Among the people we chatted with that night were two other married couples who enjoy brewing together, and we decided in our somewhat tipsy state that it would be a great idea to have a dinner at one of our houses, where everyone brought beer to share, and contributed one of the courses. Sounds like fun, right?

Great references for planning a beer dinner!

I adore hosting dinners at our house, so I took the initiative to email the other couples in order to get something officially planned. Last night we had everyone over to our house for dinner, and had an excellent time eating, drinking, and talking about beer! We did talk about other things, too, but obviously everyone enjoyed discussing favorite brew techniques, craft beers, and bars or restaurants around the city.

Yesterday happened to be my day off from work, so I had lots of time to prep dinner and to clean up the house. I also had time to rig up two tables next to each other, since our regular dinning room table is super tiny and only seats four people! Notice where the table cloth dips down?

As we were getting ready for dinner, I pointed out to Joe that we really didn't know our guests at all. Luckily, they weren't psychotic murders, but instead were smart, interesting, all around cool people! We had a fantastic time eating all of the food, and really enjoyed getting to know everyone. We ended the evening with a promise to do another dinner in the future, and I sincerely hope this happens. I think this dinner goes to prove that homebrewers are the best people out there!

Sonya and Jack brought an amazing assortment of cheese from Pastoral, and Pedro and Angela made delicious homemade biscotti and macaroons. I made grilled chicken, goat cheese mashed potatoes, and roasted green beans and cremini mushrooms. What a great meal we had!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A weekend in pictures... and a few words

You can't expect me to not "talk", right? I have a big mouth, and it is sometimes hard to get me to shut up! But I'm going to mostly just show you pictures from this weekend, since adding words will make this into an unpleasantly long blog post. I know I always skim other people's super wordy posts, looking for pictures. Don't you? So, here are some highlights of our weekend in Kansas City.

Almond croissant and apple bacon (!) muffin at The Filling Station. 

Not often we get to spend Friday morning relaxing at a coffee shop! 

Love spending time with family! 

We ate. A LOT. 

Nelson-Atkins Art Museum 

These photos made us cry we were laughing so hard.  

 Catching up with old friends. Great to see Jaime, Jess, Kieth and Tara!

Moments of relaxing  

 The man of the weekend!

75th Street Brewery 

Such an honor to be godparents for little Liem. My friend Ben, an awesome painter, made this painting to hang in Liem's room. I love how it turned out!

We packed a lot into this weekend. It was great to hang out with family, and to catch up with old friends. It's always fun to go back to Kansas City, but it also makes us glad we made the move to Chicago. KC is a great little city, but Joe and I agree we fit so much better in Chicago. Now which KC friends are going to come visit us this summer?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Oh, Chicago...

Had a great weekend in Kansas City, seeing lots of family and friends. It was really nice to visit, and I love the feeling of coming home to Chicago. We've been here almost four years now, and I can honestly say this city really feels like home at this point. What a good feeling! 

However, I sometimes curse the fact that I've chosen to love a city with $17 economy parking at the airport, $4.35 per gallon gas prices, and this view out my window this morning...

Really, snow?!  It's not that cold and will be melted before I know it, but I can't help feeling a little grumpy at the sight. Summer needs to hurry up and get here, so I can soak up some festivals and beer gardens, and remember why this city is so great!

Pictures from this weekend will be coming this evening :) I'm going to get back to having a positive attitude now. Have a great day everyone!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Random Thoughts...

Last night Joe and I were discussing how much we love pasta salad. It's one of those "empty the fridge" types of dishes, and there are so many good variations of it. Last night I made a Greek-inspired version. They were out of orzo at my store, so I used fusilli. I mixed in kalmata olives, red pepper, tomatoes, shredded carrots, red onion, and feta cheese, then dressed it with some olive oil, salt and pepper, a splash of white wine vinegar, and some dried oregano. We both went back for seconds.

Yesterday I was having a very grumpy day, so I had a glass of wine after work, then went shopping at Forever 21. It's cheap quality, but sometimes I have to get my clothing fix on a budget. I got a couple cute tops, and some cheap (but nice fitting) skinny jeans. I am officially on the skinny jeans bandwagon. I also got these socks, which pretty much instantly improved my day...

My favorite cookbook for the last few months has been Moosewood's Cooking for Health. Every recipe we've tried has been excellent, and the recipes make healthy vegetarian eating pretty simple. These veggie burgers were made with quinoa, tempeh, and sweet potatoes, and they were incredibly flavorful!  I ate the last one for lunch today, nestled in a pita pocket with avocado and pickled peppers that my friend Paul made. A fantastic little lunch, if I do say so myself! Best eaten while indulging in some mindless tv, such as the newest season of Real Housewives of New York. I just can't help it.

We're Kansas City bound in the morning. Looking forward to a fun weekend catching up with family and friends!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Crossing state lines

This past weekend was busy! It was fun, quiet, sad, and full of family. I was in three different states, and slept in two different hotels. First, on Thursday night I got to see my dad in Milwaukee, and we had a great time! We ate tasty food, enjoyed Wisconsin beers, and spent some quality time catching up. He's living in Arkansas for the moment for work, so I had to take advantage of this quick chance to hang out. It was a quick visit, but I'm so glad I took the chance to drive north and see him!

Friday I headed back to Chicago to pick up Joe, and we directed the car west towards Iowa. Joe's grandmother had passed away a few days earlier, so we took the time to see family and remember her at the wake and funeral. These events are never the most fun, but it was nice to catch up with Joe's family. I was glad we were able to be there for support, and enjoyed learning more about where Joe's mother was raised.

We got back into the city on Saturday night, just in time to meet up with friends. We ended up in Wicker Park, on Division, which is a really fun and stylish area. It's not the first time we've gone straight from Iowa to this neighborhood-- sometimes we just need to get our city fix after being out on the farm! We had a great dinner at Crust, and enjoyed chatting with Nas and Christie over a couple cold beers. After a somber funeral on Saturday morning, it was nice to end the day appreciating our current life in Chicago.

Speaking of beers, any time we leave Chicago, we make sure to get our favorite brews that we can't buy here. Lakefront is our favorite Milwaukee brewery, and I was so excited to find an 8 bottle variety pack at Whole Foods. Can't wait to break this open, post-Lent!  

We also got a sampler pack of Boulevard in Iowa. It's always been one of our favorite KC memories, and we enjoyed a few of these on Friday night while catching up with Joe's family.

Speaking of KC, we're headed back there on Friday for our nephew's baptism. I can't wait to see more family, play with little Liem, and celebrate our friend Kieth's 30th birthday. It's going to be a great mini-vacation!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Gotta Stay Hydrated

Drinking is a necessary part of daily life; we all know we'll die if our bodies go too long without water and other important beverages. My beloved pink Nalagene bottle went MIA recently, so I decided it was time for an upgrade. If I have to drink water, it's much more interesting in a cute bottle like this one, don't you think? 

I went all trendy here, with a non-plastic bottle that's been made so popular by the yoga-practicing, Whole Foods shopping crowd. I love it, though! This style has a 2-part lid-- smaller top for drinking, and a wider bottom lid for easy cleaning. Well worth the $20 I threw down for this one! Joe has one, too, but his is more manly looking, I promise.

Then there's the other beverage I find necessary for my survival. Even the simplest beer can be elevated by pouring it into a fancy glass. Now, Dasiy Cutter, our favorite local beer, is far from simple. But isn't it more fun in this rockin Duvel glass my friend Steph got me? She works at The Publican, and has all sorts of connections in the beer world at this point. Joe and I have a whole collection of beer glasses, thanks to my dad, and Steph was awesome enough to give this one to me when she ran across it!

And since I can't drink beer all the time (especially during Lent*), and water gets kinda boring, I've been trying to branch out. I've been into iced tea lately, as a nice alternative. The most important thing about iced tea is that you must drink it out of a bendy straw. I'm less picky about the glass for this one, but the bendy straw is a necessity. It makes cold drinks taste better, I swear!

What's your drink of choice these days? In addition to the above mentioned drinks, I'm totally obsessed with vanilla almond milk. Sooooo delish!

*Lenten fasting and giving up of things does not count when you get stitches in your finger and are feeling very grumpy. There were a couple weak moments last week when we did drink at home, but I choose to believe God still loves me and forgives me for this weak moment :)