Sunday, October 31, 2010

Weekend Home Improvements

Having company is always an excuse to get things done at home. This weekend our Unhalloween Halloween Party inspired us to make a few small updates to our place.

After venturing to Pottery Barn four times in efforts to purchase their ivory faux fur throw {of which they have no idea when it will be in stock}, I caved in and bought West Elm's version. Although Pottery Barns' seems more luxurious, I was sick of waiting. Good thing I did. I saved $60! Throws are 20% off at West Elm right now.

We also picked up this small, wise owl for our desk - how appropriate!

Ikea Tobias Chair
Finally, we set out to the burbs to pick up this desk chair from Ikea. A little different from the ghost chair I originally wanted to purchase. However, it seems more comfortable and still feels airy.

These small purchases had a large impact on our apartment. See for yourself!

Last but not least ...
An entertaining staple and simple pleasure of mine; nothing beats fresh flowers!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

An Unhalloween Halloween Party

It seems as though I'm the only blogger who fails to get enthusiastic about Halloween. I find picking out a costume a chore and refuse to spends tons of money on something that covers half of my body or makes me look like a character from Sesame Street. Maybe I'll feel different when I have kids.

So, what am I doing tonight? Having a party for those who feel the same as I do. And, it looks like there is going to be a good showing! Who knows ... maybe I'll even cave in and dress up my dog!

This afternoon I'll be cooking up a storm and cleaning the apartment. Much better than scrounging up a costume. While I love Fall, Halloween is not my treat. Happy Unhalloween!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

We Have a Date!

On October 8th, 2011, Nate and I will have a Fall wedding in Chicago. Our ceremony will take place at St. Alphonsus Catholic Church in Lakeview, followed by a reception at the Chicago History Museum. This is a dream come true. St. Alphonsus is the church I have been attending in Chicago and is nearly impossible to book a wedding date with a year's notice.

The Chicago History Museum is the ideal location for our reception as it is in the neighborhood Nate and I call home; it is the neighborhood where my parents lived until they moved to the suburbs, the neighborhood I was born in and the neighborhood where Nate proposed just a month ago. Not too mention, it has a breathtaking view over the south end of Lincoln Park and a gorgeous interior full of rich moldings and stained glass. It is so elegant; I picture a wedding with subtle, vintage details.

The Robinson Gallery - the entrance and cocktail hour back-up should the weather be cold. I love the chandelier and thick, white pillars.

The Chicago Room is the main dining room. Here it is set up more loungy, something we are leaning towards.

The Plaza over looking Lincoln Park. This is where cocktails will be should the weather be beautiful like it was this year.

Showed this image is a previous blog post.

So what's next? Onto the next steps .... booking a hotel room block {it happens to be the weekend of the Chicago Marathon}, finding a band and signing a photographer {we want to have our engagement shots done before Winter hits}. A little out of order, I know. Most people would be booking their caterer right now. Don't worry that will happen soon ... I'm thinking food stations!

Images via: Heather Parker, The Chicago History Museum and Becky Hill Weddings

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Too Much of a Good Thing?

Yesterday I had decided I was going to go ahead and sell my chair and purchase the West Elm Sweep Chair {or something that looked really similar}. Remember, it looks like this:

However, when I came home, I realized the shape is VERY similar to our dining chairs. No wonder why I liked it so much ...

I'm not sure how I didn't notice this before, but I'm thinking it may be too much for our apartment. Onto a different style I suppose. Meanwhile, my red floral chair is posted on Craigslist.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Modern Moose

I'm intrigued by this white lacquered moose from Z Gallerie. Maybe this is an over the couch option. Think I should do it?

Happy Monday!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Fresh Pea Soup ... and then some

I love soup. Especially when the weather starts to get a little chilly. Earlier this week I made a Fresh Pea Soup, starting with Ina's recipe posted on the Food Network website. It was delicious and is great hot or cold.

To make it, you'll need:
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 leek chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 yellow onion chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 cups veggie broth
  • 1 clove chopped garlic
  • 1 10 oz. bag of frozen sweet/spring peas
  • Creme fraiche (1/4 cup for soup and extra for garnish)
  • Chives for garnish
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint chopped

  • Melt one tablespoon of butter in a pot, add leeks, onions and salt/pepper as desired. Saute for 10 minutes, adding garlic halfway.
  • Add broth to pot and heat for a few minutes. Once broth is warm, pour in the frozen peas and cook for three minutes.
  • Stir chopped mint into soup
  • Blend soup thoroughly adding 1/4 cup of creme fraiche (I also added some ricotta I had leftover).
  • Melt an additional tablespoon of butter in the pot and return mixture to the pot. Stir throughly. Allow soup to cool.
  • Serve soup cold or re-heat
  • Top soup with a dollop of creme fraiche and chopped chives.

Some additional soups I'm dying to try:

I love oysters and this looks SO yummy. Might need some lessons in schucking oysters.

My friend has made this a couple of times and raves about it. Looks like a great hearty soup for Fall.

I'm not a fan of clam chowder but this picture looks like I could become one in the near future!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Please help!

I'm determined to carve a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel O'Lantern this weekend. Better Homes & Gardens has one available for download on their website. However, I can't download it because I don't have a subscription. Subscribers, please help me out here! I'm lost without you!

So cute ...

If not for me, then for Phoebe!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

If Andy Warhol Had a Girlfriend

It's official - book club has begun. Yesterday we decided to kick off with If Andy Warhol Had a Girlfriend by Allison Pace. From the reviews, it sounds like this is chick lit that everyone will like - fingers crossed. My intention for book club is to cover anything from quick, girly reads to thought-provoking novels. We'll see if that happens. I'm starting out with a good dose of chick lit to make sure I get some of my friends through the front door. The book is hard to find but is available on Amazon.

Here is a quick review I pulled from Chick Lit Books:
Meet Jane Laine. She works for the prominent Dick Reese gallery in New York City. At the beginning of our story she has just been dumped unceremoniously by her boyfriend Jack. She enjoys her artsy job, although Dick Reese, the gallery owner, is a complete tyrant, and at least one of her coworkers is catty and annoying. Jane holds a Master’s degree in Art and usually is really good at figuring out the meaning behind each artist’s piece. That is, until she comes across Ian Rhys-Fitzsimmons. Ian is known as a genius, and his work is highly regarded throughout the art world. When Jane’s boss drops the bomb on her that she has to accompany Ian on a five month international art fair tour, Jane is disappointed. How is she going to promote an artist’s work she doesn’t even “get”? And why now, when she is trying to get her love life started back up?
Thus begins Ian and Jane’s tour, which starts in England and continues on through Rome, Chicago, and many other places. Through their time spent, Jane begins to slowly learn just what it is about Ian’s work that is so popular. And she begins to wonder if maybe she had someone great in front of her the whole time, but just didn’t know it…
I'm hoping the travel and art aspects will create for something interesting conversation. I'll let you know shortly!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

To Recover or Not to Recover?

Nate and I desperately need a chair for our living room. We are currently using an extra dining chair next to our couch and would like to have something more comfortable in its place. You may remember this red chair from my studio apartment. Its very comfortable and has some good lines. However, I'm terribly sick of the red floral fabric after seeing it every day for 4 years. So much so, that it is sitting at my parents house. Not to mention, it would look pretty awful in the new place.

We recently had an upholstery company provide a quote to recover the chair. They quoted us $425 plus the cost of 5 yards of fabric. After all is said and done, it will probably cost me over $600 to recover it. This has me asking myself whether I want to move forward in recovering it or start fresh with a new piece of furniture. I've done some local shopping to try to decide and I still can't make up my mind.

Crate & Barrel's Ankara Chair is without a doubt my favorite chair on the market these days. You can purchase a pillow for the back and it is extremely comfortable. Crazy, I know as it doesn't look like it. To be honest, I'm hesitant this won't look great in our place. A white version of this chair would be a better option, but I've never heard of one buying brand new Crate & Barrel furniture for $699 just to paint it. But hey, there is a first for everything.

I've also considered the above West Elm Sweep Chair in this cream color and an elephant grey leather. The grey leather option is gorgeous but would make for grey overload in our apartment. Not too mention, I'm still not sure whether it is the most comfortable chair. It does, however, have great lines at a great price ($499).

Room and Board has several options. One being the Guffman Chair pictured above. It's a little pricier than the other options I posted at $849.

This Hawthorne Chair looks so comfortable to me, but I was unable to find it when walking around the Room & Board showrooms. The $749 version on the website only comes in micro-suede, a fabric I've promised myself I'd never use {not trying to offend anyone here, but to me it screams college dorm room or there are kids living here; maybe one day I'll get over it}.

And now for your input. Should I recover my existing chair in a pretty linen? The chair has good lines, is very comfortable and I'd get to pick out my fabric. I'm aiming to follow-up the fun red floral pattern with something neutral in efforts to not get sick of it this time. Or, should I start fresh with a brand new chair? Let me know if you've seen anything out there that might be a good fit for my apartment as I'm not sure I've found the perfect substitute just yet. What's next? Scouring the antique stores on my day off tomorrow. Cross your fingers I find something great!

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Frightful & Festive Fall Weekend

This weekend Nate and I were invited to my friend Claire's lakehouse in New Buffalo, Michigan. A group of 14 of us met at the house on Saturday night, cracked open some hard cider, enjoyed cheese and crackers and watched the sunset prior to heading to a Haunted "Scream" Park. I must admit, most small children are braver than I am when it comes to haunted houses. However, I managed to survive a haunted house, a pirates' cove, the field of screams and a hayride {which was supposed to be haunted and really was not}!

The beautiful backyard view

Being silly ...

Claire's friend's pup, Bella

After the haunted activities and a late night snack at The Stray Dog, we went back to the house to entertain ourselves with charades games, obstacle courses and loads of Halloween candy. Apparently we are all kids at heart. The weekend concluded with a group brunch and a trip to the Pumpkin Patch on the way back to the city. I love all things Fall and this weekend was AMAZING!

Tom's first Pumpkin Patch experience!

Picked up one of these, a mini orange pumpkin and a carnival squash

The boys working out with the pumpkins as they carried them back to the car!

Again, the weekend was a blast. What's next? Finding a way to carve a pumpkin to look like our Cavalier King Charles Spaniel!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Open for Wedding Suggestions

With our date and venue almost set {think an October 2011 wedding in Chicago}, we are beginning to look at other key vendors for our wedding day. If you have any suggestions on florists, bands, hotels, cakes, etc., leave a comment below. Hopefully you have some good recommendations!

A few pretty images from other Fall weddings ...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Flipping Out for Jeff's Kitchen of the Year

Last night I caught up with my DVR and tuned into the finale of Flipping Out. I'm a huge Jeff Lewis {and Jenni} fan and was so excited to watch the episode where he revealed his design for House Beautiful's 2010 Kitchen of the Year. The kitchen stood for exhibit in New York's Rockefeller Center this Summer. From the awesome light fixtures to the great white island, ever detail is absolutely gorgeous. If I had to pick a favorite feature {again, if I had to}, it would be the modernized, reclaimed wood table; it is the perfect marriage of new and old!

Thanks House Beautiful for all of the great images! 

Goodbye until next season Jeff and Jenni; you two make me laugh out loud! So much so that my dog looks at me like I'm weird. It's awesome.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Festive Thanksgiving Table from Eddie Ross

This weekend I sat down with the newest issue of Lonny and found myself "clipping" lots of the images that inspired me. One being Eddie Ross' Thanksgiving Day Table. It is so elegant. Don't you agree?

I love the combination of cool and warm tones, patterns and florals. Not to mention the flecks of gold that are everywhere!

Above is a centerpiece idea featured on Martha Stewart's website. Can you tell that he once worked for Martha? There is a similar execution in his above tablescape!

Stay tuned ... more inspiration from Lonny to come!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Great Minds Cook Alike: Seared Scallops and Pumpkin Soup

I've been plotting for my book club ... planning the menu and choosing a book. To lure my guests, I plan on making Butternut Squash Ravioli and Scallops in a Pea Puree. Ambitious, I know. But, I've been really excited about the scallops. Been dying to make this dish for a while.

I'm an avid reader of Women's Health and ran across a Seared Scallop and Pumpkin Soup recipe. It looked very similar to the scallop dish I had dreamt up for my book club. To top it off, my best friend Ashley forwarded an email from her co-worker that she had tried the dish and loved it. That was it - had to try it. Ashley and I went for drinks last night and talked about how we would both make it for dinner tonight. And, we did. It was amazing and super easy. The epitome of Fall. I loved it and so excited to modify it with peas for my inaugural book club dinner.

Image from Women's Health

You'll need :

  • 6 large sea scallops
  • 2 tablespoons hazelnuts (roughly chopped)
  • 1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup broth (vegetable or chix)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Chopped chives for garnish
  • Salt & pepper
  • Olive Oil


  • Roughly chop the hazelnuts and heat over medium heat for 5-7 minutes (shake freq. to avoid burning)
  • Combine pumpkin puree, butter, honey and broth in a pot and heat through
  • Salt and pepper pumpkin soup to taste
  • Pat dray scallops, season with salt and pepper
  • Heat olive oil in the bottom of a pan and add scallops 
  • Sear for 2-3 minutes on each side
  • Pour soup into wide-rimmed bowls, add scallops and garnish with chives and hazelnuts
  • Salt and pepper to taste

This recipe is surprisingly filling. It is delicious and perfect for a romantic dinner for two. Thanks Women's Health for a great, quick recipe. Looking forward to changing it up soon!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Cheers to My Favorite Cocktail {Juliet & Romeo from The Violet Hour}!

For those of your who haven't visited Wicker Park's The Violet Hour, go do it. Sure it's a little hipster, but the drinks are amazing and the atmosphere is so unique. During my first visit, the bartender convinced me to order the Juliet & Romeo. Ridiculous. I'm not a huge gin drinker but this is by far my favorite cocktail. The gin is accompanied by cucumber, which happens to be my favorite food, mint {so refreshing} and rose water {sexy, right?}.

Maybe I'll try to recreate it sometime soon. Perhaps for my wedding. I found the recipe and picture here. Where I also learned that GQ rated it in the Top 20 Cocktails in America. So apparently I'm not the only one who is digging this drink ... cheers!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Great Glassware Giveaway on Greige

I love champagne, but only own two champagne glasses. One for me. One for Nate. That's why I'm hoping to win this giveaway on Greige. The blog will be awarding one lucky winner a dainty flute glass set courtesy of My Sparrow. I strongly encourage you to enter the contest {even if it worsens my odds of winning}! A winner will be drawn tomorrow ...

Just in time for the holidays ... Cheers!
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