Sunday, August 28, 2011

Friday Night Discoveries

Friday night started out like a normal night at home. We made some mojitos with fresh mint and raspberries from our CSA, and settled in to watch the latest episode of Project Runway (and yes, Joe was forced, if anyone asks). The episode ended, and we were feeling happy and relaxed. Then, we started talking about the upcoming concerts we are going to be attending, which made us look up Mates of State on YouTube.

After searching on YouTube, we started out by watching this interesting little interview about taking their kids on the road when they go on tour. (Also, Kori has a blog on Babble-- check it out!) Then, we noticed one of the related videos recommended on the sidebar was for Mates of State playing on Yo Gabba Gabba. After clicking the link, and watching their song, we started to notice that quite a lot of people we've heard of have been on Yo Gabba Gabba. Seriously, it has go to be the hippest kids show out there. Apparently, if you're kind of indie and have kids (or don't), this is the thing to do. So, for your blog reading enjoyment, I've chosen a few of my favorite Yo Gabba Gabba clips to share. This almost makes me want to have a baby ;)

MGMT Art is Everywhere

An old-school favorite of mine: Taking Back Sunday singing "We All Love our Pets"

And to finish, Jack Black:

I'm resisting the urge to put about 10 more clips on here! Seriously-- Tony Bourdain, Sarah Silverman, Hot Hot Heat, the Roots, The Shins... so many awesome clips. This show goes right along with Joe and my plans to raise a super hip baby. Guess we better get cable when the time comes! If you're looking to kill some time, search for Yo Gabba Gabba on YouTube and see what you find. Entertaining, right?

(And in case you're wondering, after about a half hour of looking at these clips, we decided the right thing to do was to leave the house. We went to a bar near our house and had a couple pints of Zombie Dust, and felt much more like the young, childless 20 somethings that we are!)

Friday, August 26, 2011

A Simple Summer Cake

I just realized the beginning of this post has been sitting here as a draft for a while now, and that I needed to share it before summer is over! You need to make this cake. Probably this weekend, or definitely in the next week or so. Invite a few friends over, and enjoy the cake outdoors, preferably while drinking a chilled bottle of rose. I speak from experience when I say that the leftovers make a good breakfast treat, too. I served this to a group of girl friends, and all three of them went back for a second slice. That says something, right?

Most of the girls in my book club are obsessed with Smitten Kitchen, so I figured they would appreciate me choosing a recipe from Deb's site for our get together. The cake was simple to make the night before, and ended up being a perfect summer dessert. You could add some whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, too, if you're feeling really gourmet :)  Click here for the recipe, and enjoy!

Happy Birthday Joe!

My handsome husband had a birthday this week, and we celebrated the beginning of the last year of his 20's the only way we saw fit-- with Korean BBQ and a growler of beer!

Have you guys tried Korean BBQ before? It's so tasty, and also a really fun dining experience! First, they bring out literally a million appetizer dishes, ranging from seaweed to kimchi to scallion pancakes. These dishes are typically delicious, and are almost enough food for a whole meal. Then, they bring out plates of raw meat, and a charcoal grill that fits into the middle of the table. The marinated beef short ribs were fantastic, and the pork loin was so tender and flavorful. Joe was a happy camper by the time we finished our meal-- and I was happy we were walking home, because I was stuffed full of Korean food!

Turns out the restaurant we went to was not BYOB, so we had some Kirin with our dinner, then enjoyed a growler on the back porch when we got home. It was a relaxing end to a low-key and enjoyable birthday. Lucky for Joe, we get to keep celebrating, because his birthday gift was tickets to the Minus the Bear concert in October. And , as a MAJOR SUPER AWESOME bonus, the sales girl at The Metro gave me free tickets to Mates of State when I bought Joe's birthday tickets, so we get to go to a concert in September, too! I adore Mates of State, but since we've already seen them live a couple times, Joe's been trying to convince me to use our concert budget to see other bands. Problem solved-- he can't complain if the tickets are FREE!!

Happy birthday Joe! I am lucky to have such a thoughtful, kind, fun husband, and I am thankful for you every day. I know how lucky we are, and I don't take for granted how easy and enjoyable our relationship is. I look forward to celebrating MANY more birthdays together!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Weekend Recap: Single Girl Version

I don't always do "weekend recap" types of posts, but this weekend I'm going to make an exception. This weekend was a great one, because I had the whole thing off, and did only what I wanted to do for myself. Joe was out of town, so I took full advantage of having the time to indulge in whatever I felt like doing!

Friday was a wine tasting at a friend's apartment, with plenty of wine and fantastic food pairings. Surrounded by great company, I managed to enjoy the wine and conversation until after 2:00 AM! It was pretty much the definition of a great party, and I kept thing under control enough to have a ton of fun, without too much of a headache the next morning :)

I started Saturday with some necessary sleeping in, and started to clean up around the house. After some halfhearted attempts to coordinate with friends, I decided to go see The Help alone, a newer experience for me. If you haven't seen a movie alone, I'd recommend you give it a try! It's really nice to just soak up a movie without having to worry about anyone except yourself. The movie was followed by frozen yogurt for lunch, and an unavoidable visit to Urban Outfitters. After my late night out on Friday, I soaked up the idea of spending Saturday night at home, watching stupid TV and just relaxing. Oh, and by relaxing, I mean canning some corn relish, then sitting on the couch after it was done! I am weird, and totally ok with that... I did have to laugh at myself when I thought about the fact that my "single lady" weekend without Joe involved shucking corn on the porch and watching too much reality TV.

New infinity scarf from UO

All the relish ingredients were from last week's CSA box!

The corn relish turned out fantastic! 

I didn't actually relax much on Sunday, but I really enjoyed all the running around that occurred. I started by literally running around, doing a three mile run on the trail by my house. Then my friend Chelsi and I headed to the farmers market, to score some more fresh veggies to can. Once we had the produce we needed, we went to Wicker Park to check out the Sidewalk Sale at Big Star. IT WAS AMAZING!  We got there about 30 minutes before it was supposed to start, and it turned out they couldn't fight the crowds and ended up starting the sale early. I got TEN awesome beer glasses... for a grand total of FIVE DOLLARS. Yup, these suckers were $0.50 each, which is why I couldn't resist buying so many!

The glasses are a mix of US craft brewers, like Great Lakes or Ommegang,
and Belgian brewers like Chimay or  La Chouffe.
Of course, we couldn't leave Big Star without some of their amazing tacos, and getting there so early meant we actually got a seat on the patio without any wait! Then Chelsi and I went back to my condo to do some canning, and made a whole bunch of Dilly Beans and Spiced Beets from this book. I can't wait to taste the results!

Now my handsome husband is home, and I have to go snuggle with him on the couch! While I did have a wonderful weekend, it's never as good when he's here. Hope you all had a great weekend too!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Perfect Summer Dinner

First off, I have to say I could never be a professional blogger. I do love to blog, and to think of ideas to document and share with the online world. But I get lazy/busy/uninspired, and the blog posting goes to the bottom of my priority list. I was doing a great time for a while, because I was working random hours and had weekday time off that was perfect for sitting down to blog. Now I (THANKFULLY!) am getting way more 9-5 type hours at work, and I am having to change my timing on certain things. I have to figure out evening or weekend times to workout, I get to spend a lot more time with my cute husband, and I need to find some times that are good for posting to this here blog. So, stick with me while I sort this stuff out, and you won't be sorry :)

Now, on to the actual topic of this post. I completely agree with Colleen's post about savoring summer instead of rushing into thinking about fall, and I thought of this dinner idea a couple nights ago when I was trying to decide a use from some beautiful heirloom tomatoes we received in our CSA box.  It's really simple, just adding some pasta and homemade pesto to a traditional caprese salad. I used einkorn pasta, an ancient type of wheat that is full of protein, and small balls of fresh mozzarella that I quartered. The basil was fresh from the garden (or container on the porch!), and I mixed it all together once the pasta had cooled somewhat. This quick FIVE INGREDIENT dinner was even better tasting than I expected--fresh tasting and capturing the essence of summer produce. Perfect enjoyed on the back porch, soaking up some of the amazing weather we've been having in Chicago recently.

I'll welcome fall when it arrives, but look forward to savoring more summer while it's still here!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

What a night!

Some nights, living in Chicago is the same as living anywhere else. I'll go to the gym, cook dinner, maybe run to Target or take a walk around the neighborhood. It's a good life, and I'm quite happy with it. But other nights, I have random, amazing experiences that would only happen living in a large city like this. I'm talking "buy a dress after work, and eat things like lobster with shaved truffles for dinner" kind of amazing. Oh, and also free amazing, even though tickets for other people were $95 a pop.

Check out those shaved truffles!
 Thanks to my wonderful, rewarding, fun job at Whole Foods Market, I got the chance to attend the Taste of the Nation event at Navy Pier last night. Our company was a sponsor of the event, which meant there were a few sets of tickets that became available for us the day of the event. I'm not an important person in the company, and only recently got my own shiny new email address. I was just really lucky, and happened to be sitting at a computer reading emails at the moment when the email offering free tickets was sent. You know I responded to that email approximately one second later. Score! Free tickets for me and the husband!

My job is pretty casual (ok, that might be an understatement!), so I was wearing scruffy jeans and a casual top that day at work. No time to go home, so I hit up some shops on State Street when I got off work. Cute little cinched t-shirt dress, purple cork wedges, and a necklace later, I was ready to party!

The view looking down from the VIP lounge
 The food was amazing, and there were tons of fun drinks, too. We tasted about a million things, ranging from Goat Cheese Soup to short rib tacos. There was seared tuna, rabbit rubens, and lamb meatballs. Great deserts, too, although I waited too long and some of the ones I'd been eying earlier were already gone! Dale and Stephanie from previous Top Chef seasons were there to represent, plus chefs from L2O, Tru, Blackbird, Paris Club, and every other top name in the Chicago food scene.

What an amazing night! Keep an eye out for this event next year, to support a worthy cause and have a delicious night out.

Oh, and there were fireworks! Navy Pier does fireworks all summer, on Wednesday and Saturday nights. We had never seen the show before, since we generally try to avoid Navy Pier, but I have to say that it was quite an impressive show!

Sorry for the crappy pictures. Last minute nights out usually mean having your iphone as the only means of documentation!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Lesson Learned

We've all played this game before. Friends coming over! Room temp white wine (or rose)! Quick, put it in the freezer to chill faster!

This time, though, Joe and our guests decided to take a walk to Lincoln Square for a drink, and that lovely rose was left in the freezer. Oops! Drinks in the square lead to visiting me at work, sharing a bottle of wine at Whole Foods, and Mexican food for dinner. Hours later, we were home...

I was pretty much peeing my pants as Joe posed for these!

Yup, that's 100% frozen!

The good news? Wine thaws, and doesn't taste any different to someone with my unrefined palate :) Thankfully, the bottle didn't burst, so we'll just classify this as a pretty hilarious night!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Life is good!

This has been one of those great weeks, where you feel like everything in your life is how it should be. There's been a touch of stress, and some crazy rain, but that's life. And I don't have a single picture to make this post prettier, so if you hate blog posts with just words, you better just come back another day.

The week stared with the stress of preparing for an interview, then waiting for the results. My sweet husband took me on a walk for gelato, then to my favorite neighborhood book store. I was on pins and needles, and he stayed calm and positive. When the good news came (with a decent raise!), he brought home some bubbly to celebrate. The news of my promotion give the whole week a rosy glow.

Then I have such awesome friends. There was a birthday celebration Tuesday, with an old coworker and her great group of friends. Wednesday brought lunch and day drinking with another amazing former coworker and friend. Last night we had a couple over for dinner, and enjoyed fun and interesting conversation over simple food and home brewed beer. They are a couple we've known for years, but this was the first time just the four of us hung out. I have a feeling it won't be the last! Tonight is some home brew bottling with our oldest and closest friends here in Chicago. I wouldn't trade our friends in Chicago for anything!

My sister got a great job, and my whole family seems to be settling in where they belong... at least for now! We're a mobile bunch, so who knows where we'll be in a year of two. It's good to know we're all where we belong for now, and thankfully no one has to call St Louis home anymore!

I have to work all weekend, but that's just how it goes in my business. I'll still squeeze in some fun, then rest up for a few days before my little brother comes to visit. I hope life is treating you all well, too, and that you have a fantastic weekend!!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

New Music I Love: The Head and The Heart

I thought I would try something new today,and share a little music with you. I can't stop listening to this band, The Head and the Heart. They opened for the Decemberists last week, and I am in love. We actually got to the show late, and only saw their last song, but that was enough to have us intrigued. We bought the album as soon as we got home, and it's been playing nonstop since then!  So here's one of their videos...

The whole album is fantastic! If they are back in Chicago again, I will go out of my way to see their show. And the Decemberists were amazing, as always. We hadn't seen them in years, so it was fun to see them playing some of our old favorites, and also newer songs from the last couple albums. Officially a better than average Thursday night!

Who are you listening to lately? I lean towards more indie and alternative music, but am always open to suggestions!