Sunday, November 28, 2010

Meet Frasier {our first Christmas tree}.

Before we jointly celebrated our birthdays at Topo Gigio yesterday, Nate and I picked up our very first Christmas tree. Nate insisted we get the best and we ended up with a 6 1/2 foot tall Frasier Fir. Despite the fact that we do not own ornaments we decided putting it in the stand and stringing the lights would be a huge accomplishment. We purchased 300 white lights {I'm anti colored lights} and got to work!

Disclaimer: I did not do this all by myself. There are no pictures of Nate due to his lack of shirt in efforts to avoid tree sap! And this isn't that kind of blog ...

{Phoebs helping out!}



We are anxious to adorn the tree with beautiful, festive ornaments! However, I'm taking my time and checking out all the stores have to offer before I buy them {and a star}. Sure, we will add new ones to our collection every year, but I'd love to start with a great color scheme! My family takes Christmas trees very seriously. No homemade ornaments, no ugly ornaments. We always end up with a fabulous tree and I have high expectations for our tree as well!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Fun with Tim Tab!

Just came back from an awesome experience with photographer Timothy Tabailoux, aka Tim Tab. Today he came to Old Town for our engagement shoot. Nate, Phoebe and I ran around the neighborhood taking pictures in front of the old house on State Parkway, in the South tip of Lincoln Park, enjoying coffee at The Twisted Baker and among the flowers inside A New Leaf. Of course, getting lost on random alleys and streets along the way! Tim is great and made us extremely comfortable in front of the camera. He came by recommendation of my friend Lindsay and I would without a doubt second that recommendation! Here are some of his other wedding/engagement shots I clipped from his website and blog; I hope ours come out this nice!

I can't tell you how excited I am to see how they turned out. Cross your fingers we don't look awkward! Thanks to Tim for bearing the cold {but oh so sunny} weather with us!

I'm thankful ...

It's been a little bit of a crazy week with Nate's birthday, Thanksgiving and preparing for the start of a new job and I've yet to post about my holiday. Similar to past years, my family did not eat traditional Thanksgiving fare. This year we feasted of duck with olives over quinoa {a fabulous dish we first tried in France}, baby red potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes, salad, green beans {not casserole style} and my super yummy butternut squash soup. My family is not a big fan of Thanksgiving food, so this was the perfect combination of something that would make our stomachs happy and still nod to tradition. The food was amazing and the company even better.

However, our night did not run so smoothly. That night, we had to put to sleep our family's 14 year old dog, Libby. She was a Boykin Spaniel, a breed that was coincidentally first showcased at the dog show this Thanksgiving. Libby was an odd dog who was terribly overweight and didn't really like to be pet but we loved her regardless. While no one wants to be at the vet on Thanksgiving night, I'm truly thankful that we all were in town to say goodbye when it was her time to go. Strange as it sounds, I guess everything happens for reason.

We love you Libbs!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Holiday Gift Guide: Less Than $100

Oops I did it again; I'm back with more gift ideas! This time I've upped the ante to $100, offering plenty of options for those you are willing to spend a little more on this holiday season. Unique gifts for the home entertainer, festive attire for the holiday party hopper and luxurious lounge wear and blankets for those who welcome winter hibernation!

  1. J.Crew, Drapey Sequin Tee, $79.50
  2. Anthropologie, Vintage Cocktails, $50
  3. Jayson Home & Garden, Quartz Votive Holder, $54
  4. Mod Cloth, Office Party Top, $84.00
  5. J. Crew, Toscana Sherling Earmuffs, $98
  6. Jayson Home & Garden, Cabebe Shell Dish, $44
  7. Kate Spade, Deluxe Plush Small Rosalie, $75
  8. Anthropologie, English Rose Robe, $98
  9. J. Crew, Cashmere-Lined Leather Gloves, $98
  10. Anthropologie, Laguiole Cheese Knife Set, $32
  11. Mod Cloth, Canine Companion Bookends in French Bulldog, $55.99
  12. Anthropologie, Kundalini Loungers, $58
  13. J. Crew, Crystal Bloom Ring, $50
  14. West Elm, Faux-Fur Throw, $98

Monday, November 22, 2010

Picture Perfect from Rue

Found these great images in the second issue of Rue! The office is my absolute favorite. I could get lots of blogging done here!

One element that is consistent across all three rooms is fresh flowers. A room just isn't complete without them!

Black Bean & Mango Salsa in Cheddar Cups

Here's another tasty appetizer from our Unhalloween Halloween Party. Unlike most recipes, I didn't alter this one and followed Martha Stewart's directions step-by-step. It was a unique, crowd-pleaser and you must try it!

To make it, you'll need:

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Pink of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 15 oz. can drained, rinsed black beans
  • 1 mango peeled and cut into 1/4 inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed cilantro, chopped
  • 1 scallion thinly sliced
  • 1 small jalapeno chili seeded and finely chopped
  • 12 ounces sharp orange cheddar, medium grated
  • Coarse salt and fresh ground pepper

  • Beans
    • Whisk together lime juice, oil, cumin and cayenne in a bowl.
    • Add beans and toss well to coat.
    • Season with salt and pepper.
    • Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight,
  • Mango
    • Toss together mango, cilantro, scallion and jalapeno in a medium bowl. 
    • Refrigerate covered until ready to serve.
  • Cheddar cups:
    • Preheat oven to 375 degrees and have a standard muffin tin ready.
    • Sprinkle one tablespoon of cheese on a non-stick baking sheet to form approx. a 3-inch diameter. Make a few more circles. 
      • Don't make too many at once as you will need to work with them immediately.
    • Bake until circles appear lacy and sizzle in the middle (3-7 minutes and rotating if necessary).
    • Using a spatula, immediately transfer 1 circle to a cup in muffin tin. Gently push down with fingers to form cup shape. Repeat with remaining circles and remove cheese cups from tin when cool.
    • It will take a few practice runs to figure out how long to cook your cheese and how to create the cups.
    • Make the rest of the cheddar cups (you should end up with approx. 18-24).
  • Just before serving spoon approximately 1 tablespoon of mango and 1 table spoon of beans into each cup.
There you go; another great recipe from Martha! Enjoy!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Holiday Gift Guide: Less Than $25

Happy Friday! Holidays are just around the corner, so I thought I'd begin to pull together a few of my best gift ideas to share. I love watching the smile on a friend's face when they open a present and love it. Here are my ideas for gifts under $25. Whether they find their way into a stocking or a Secret Santa exchange, its always great to have a few options that won't break the bank. This year, I'm following the trends and looking for all things vintage, faux fur and sparkly. Stay tuned!

  1. Anthropologie, Castle Key Bottle Opener, $12.00
  2. The Gap, Pom Pom Slipper, $24.50
  3. The Gap, Faux Fur Pom Pom Beanie, $24.50
  4. Snow & Graham, Dogwood Note Cards, $15.00
  5. Jayson Home & Garden, Tyrol Horn Cup, $21.00
  6. Chelsea Victoria's Etsy Shop, Floating Through Paris 2011 Desk Calendar, $18.00
  7. Kate Spade, Polka-Dot Coasters, $20.00
  8. Tinley Road, Coral Flower Stud Earring, $24.00
  9. J. Crew, Lattice Stripe Tights, $22.50
  10. Crate and Barrel, Iris Vase, On sale for $24.95

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Longing for Leopard

After watching last week's episodes of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills {a very, guilty pleasure of mine}, I've decided I must invest in some leopard. Not head-to-toe leopard print. Something a little more subtle ... like Kyle's leopard scarf. I'm obsessed.

She wore it to the airport on their way to New York and I couldn't keep my eyes off of her outfit. It was so chic when paired with a black blazer, jeans and some killer heels!

Brilliant combination of purple and leopard

Even Ann Taylor has a version of it

An infinity scarf

I'd also love a pair of sassy leopard shoes. My philosophy is the higher, the better. I'm over the whole leopard flats craze.

The black buttons on this Moschino pair are great

Louboutin's lace-ups are super sexy

A chunkier version from Stuart Weitzman

Classic leopard platforms from who else but Tory Burch

Leopard is a classic in American fashion. I need to add some to my wardrobe. My birthday is just around the corner...

Sources: Bravo and Polyvore

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Bedroom Inspiration from Greige

With all of the entertaining that has been happening, our bedroom has been neglected for items that make the living room shine. After all, that is where all of our get-togethers have been taking place and it best be looking good. I'm finally ready to give our bedroom the attention it deserves but find myself constantly debating between french laundry neutral and pops of color.

Greige is always posting great bedrooms that inspire me. They all seem very neutral while still having small amounts of color. Maybe my bedroom has found its calling.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Pop the Champagne!

It has always been important to me to make special moments unforgettable. I set out to do just that when planning an event for some lovely ladies this weekend.

A few weeks ago, I asked my friends to hold Saturday for me without disclosing the details. Why? Because I didn't quite have it figured out yet. I followed up with an invitation for a Private Champagne Tasting at my apartment. I worked with Tom from Galleria Wines to pick out 4 bottles to pop open at my soiree. On the weekend of the event I picked up over 30 champagne glasses from Ikea {less than a dollar a piece}, delicious food from Dirk's Fish Market {Jonah crab claws, shrimp cocktail and tuna tartar} and fresh flowers from A New Leaf {antique and white hydrangea, pale pink roses and kale}.

Right before, I took a moment to look at the beautiful table, I had created. I was so excited for it to begin.

Then my sisters, mom and friends filed in and the tasting began. It was so much fun.

Why host this fabulous event? These ladies were asked to be my bridesmaids. Unfortunately, Nate's sister, Kindra, lives out of state and was unable to make it so we gave her a phone call to welcome her to the bridal party. Then we left for a fabulous night in Old Town complete with desserts and few too many dirty martinis!
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