Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Perfect Weekend: ... is shared with family and friends

As the cab pulled away from The Chopping Block, I began calling my sisters and friends. I remember two calls vividly. The first is when I called my sister Ally. She was in the "Kappa House" at Madison and began screaming with her friends. Next, was my friend Ashley who screamed at the top of her lungs and insisted on hopping a cab and coming over immediately. These two genuinely seemed surprised.

We got home quickly and I started to call my father who had apparently been waiting for twenty minutes. I opened the door to our apartment to find a room full of family and friends (and lots of booze), including Ally and Ashley, who had just both pretended to be surprised! Nate had rallied everyone together by telling them he was throwing a surprise house warming party. The night was perfect beginning to end. I had special time alone with Nate and celebrated with those who are special to me. Nate, I can't tell you enough what a great job you did and how lucky I am to have you in my life!

Besties Rachel and Ashley


Brunch in Lincoln Square Sunday Morning

And here adds another chapter to An Urban Cottage ... wedding planning. We are looking to get married next Fall; I promise not be a crazy bride and to have fun every step of the way. After all, it only happens once!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Perfect Weekend: ... brings tears of joy

After a sad attempt at a nap, I woke up and got ready for our night at The Chopping Block. We took the dog on a walk and picked up a coffee at Third Coast. Again, sad attempt for a nap! After getting our caffeine fix, Nate and I walk down State Parkway and paused in front of the house I grew up in. It is there where Nate (with Phoebe beside him) asked me to marry him. I can't remember whether or not I actually said yes out loud. I just remember the both of us tearing up. I never wanted some grandiose proposal just something with meaning. It was perfect and I wouldn't have it any other way!

As a newly engaged couple, Nate and I hurried off to The Chopping Block to cook New Orleans style cuisine. We started with an amazing Crab Cake and Lemony Tarter Sauce recipe; I promise I will post this soon. It is so easy and so delicious; I will make it again.

We then moved onto Blackened Chicken and Dirty Rice and Beans. We finished the meal off with a Bananas Foster Bread Pudding. Awesome. We didn't have time to eat there and had to take the food home with us.

We rushed out the door to meet my dad and sister at our apartment for a celebratory drink. Or so I thought!

The Perfect Weekend: ... continues with Saturday's simple pleasures

Per usual, Saturday morning began by heading to Equinox for Allison English's Forrest Yoga class. This weekend was the last time she will be teaching yoga on the weekends until the New Year; I was so happy I got out myself out of bed to go. After an hour and a half of handstands and stretching, I was feeling good. Following yoga, Nate and I walked Phoebe to the Green City Farmer's Market where we treated ourselves to apple-cider zeppoles (aka donuts) from the Zullo's stand. Amazing!

By now I was getting a little sleepy and suggested we grab some coffee. We took the dog home and headed to our favorite cafe, Third Coast, for a cappuccino. I think it was then that I first mentioned how perfect the day was so far.

During our coffee break, Nate spilled the beans and told me that he was taking me to The Chopping Block for the "Big Easy" New Orleans cooking class. I was so excited and wanted to go home and take a nap before our class. Another great addition to an already great day. But, it didn't stop there.

On our way home from coffee, Nate became very insistent on going to West Elm in order to purchase the West Elm Parson's desk I so desired. As tired as I was, I hopped in the car and went with him to pick it up. He put it together and cleaned the apartment while I prepared for another night of cooking by taking a quick nap.

I am so happy we got the yellow desk! After a little accessorizing, a desk chair and some art work, our office area will look great!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Perfect Weekend: ... begins with two besties cooking soup

Rarely does it seem to happen that everything just goes your way. This weekend, however, did just that. It all began Friday evening. Exhausted from a long work week, Ashley and I opted to stay in and make not one but two different homemade soups and pop in a chick flick. Much needed.

I've been on a corn kick lately and suggested we make the Food Network's Thai Corn Chowder Soup. I made it twice last year and was obsessed. It took a couple of tries, but Ash and I finally got together to make it. The flavors are great. It has a coconut milk base which makes it creamy. While at the same time it is super crunchy from loads of fresh veggies (radishes, tomatoes, corn, green onions, potatoes). Flat out amazing if you ask me. Eventually, I'll post the recipe. Ashley already did; so if you want to make it anytime soon (which I highly recommend you do) pop on over to her blog, This City Girl, for the recipe.

So pretty!

After realizing that we had a bunch of ingredients needed to make another Fall favorite soup, we decide to be ambitious and make Food 52's Potato-Leek Soup with Cheddar and Dill. Most of the items are in the name of the soup. However, it fails to mention the secret ingredient .... Dijon mustard. The mustard kicks the soup up a notch. This soup is great to make in large batches. I freeze the leftovers in an ice cube tray. This makes it simple to heat up a single serving in no time. Again, the recipe is on her blog.

After hours of soup making, I came home just in time to feed a tipsy boyfriend a fresh bowl of soup. I was delighted when he could not stop raving about it. All in all, a successful night.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


DANNIJO has been in the press for a while, but ever time I got to their website I think I've died and gone to jewelry heaven. They currently have five different collections - Cult, Americana, Grace, Rock and Boho. All of which are fabulous. Grace and Rock are definitely my favorite. Rock is a cooler version of myself, whereas Grace could probably fit into my current look. Here's a little sample to entice you to visit their website.







The cuffs and rings are by far my favorites. And if these beauties weren't so pricey for costume jewelry, I would definitely purchase a bunch of items for my jewelry box.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Recipe for My Sister: Spinach Linguine in a Mushroom Cream Sauce

Just last week my sister Regan made her boyfriend of 5 years her first home cooked meal. She treated him to my mother's super easy yet delicious Chicken and Wild Rice recipe and he in turn challenged her to try to cook dinner every Tuesday night. No pressure or anything Regan. She thought about making another family recipe, Sweet and Sour Chicken. My response was that she shouldn't do chicken for her first two meals. So here is a little guidance from her older, more domesticated sister. May your bellys be full and your pasta bowls empty!

Dearest Sister, You'll Need:
  • One shallot 
  • One clove of garlic
  • 6-8 ounces mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup of frozen peas
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter (tried to limit this as much as possible, but what's a cream sauce without it)
  • Approximately 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • One package spinach linguine (I like Trader Joe's)
  • White wine (I used the Pancake Cellars White Wine - just $5 and a cute bottle)
  • 1/2 cup of half & half
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper
  • Red pepper flakes (optional)

  • Start to boil a large pot of water to cook the pasta in
  • White waiting for the pasta to boil:
    • Chop the shallot and add to a hot pan with olive oil and butter
    • Slice mushrooms and garlic
    • Once the shallots are translucent (couple of minutes), add mushrooms and garlic to pan. Cover and cook over med-low heat for 5-10 minutes (until mushrooms are cooked through).
  • After mushrooms are cooked and pasta water has come to a boil, salt the pasta water and add the linguine.
  • While the pasta is cooking, finish the sauce:
    • Turn the pan up to high and add a healthy splash of white wine (if I had to guess, a 1/4 cup)
    • After the wine has evaporate, add half and half
    • Allow sauce to thicken for a couple of minutes and add a few table spoons of Parmesan cheese and season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.
  • Drain noodles and combine with sauce and frozen peas. Mix thoroughly until peas have defrosted.
  • Makes 2 (really healthy) - 3 servings

Pour yourself a nice glass of leftover wine and bon appetite! To set this recipe over the top, you can always add a few slices of sliced prosciutto.

I made this last night and wish I toke pictures! Regan, you'll have to take a picture for me when you make it tomorrow. 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Paris is Flying Print

I happend upon this print the other day and now I have to have it. It truly captures the magic of Paris!

via Sacramento Street

The print by Chelsea Vicotria can be found on her Etsy shop. She has a bunch of other prints that I'd love to have for my new place. Again, the walls are bare so it's okay to go on an Etsy shopping spree!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Eclectic at its best.

Not too long ago Crystal of Plush Palate posted pics of a fabulously understated dining room. I knew I had to share it. In my mind, it is perfection. As someone with eclectic taste, I absolutely love when people can marry different styles and this dining room does just that.

Vintage nods with the Eames style Eiffel Chairs and wallpaper

Rustic meets glamour with the contrast of the the table and the chandelier.

When breaking it down this room is relatively simple re-create.

This rustic table from Crate and Barrel fits the bill.

I was able to find great Eames inspired Eiffel Chairs posted on Craigslist for $99 a piece. The retailer, Advanced Interior Designs, has other great options as well.

Balance the table with a fabulous chandelier like this one

Graham and Brown has tons of great wallpaper options. Hard decision...

Set the mood with the Duncan Bar Cart from Restoration Hardware {currently sold out}

Voila! One understated but totally glamorous dining room that screams I'm ready for a dinner party. Cheers to a great room!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Anitcipating the Launch of Rue

If you are out of the loop, Rue Magazine will be launching next Thursday. I personally am really excited to see what the creators of the new e-magazine have put together for us. After the death of Domino {yes death - this was really tragic for me}, I'm ready for some new shelter inspiration. I just have to get used to curling up with my computer instead of a magazine. Which, may prove to be difficult for me as 1. I love to tear out pages that inspire me and 2. my computer has to stay plugged in at all times because the battery is shot.

The ladies have been sharing some images from the debut magazine and here are a few of them ... looks like the girls are into all things white in their premiere issue!

If you're interested in learning more behind-the-scenes, hop on over to Shelter Pop. More to come after I read the first issue on Thursday!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Turn the Lights Up

Earlier this week I recognized the need to fill up the walls in our apartment with art, but I didn't even mention our need for light! The pictures from our living room prove it. As Fall comes upon us this is becoming more and more apparent. Now that we have some of the basics like our couch and dining room table, it is time to add some "jewelry" to our place. Adding some light fixtures is not only practical, it's a way to add loads of glamour! Here are some of my top choices!

To quote Rachel Zoe, the Glass Link Chandelier from West Elm is "Bananas"! This totally beats the blah pendant fixtures that are currently in our apartment. I kinda have to have it.

Here she is again! {P.S. Love the rug too!}

At only $99, the Harper Pendant Chandelier from Pottery Barn would be perfect for a small entryway, bathroom or bedroom. Love the crystals.

Circa Lighting's Quatrefoil Floor Lamp reminds me of the shapes in Van Cleef & Arpels

I first saw the Cleo Table Lamp when designing my living room on Olioboard this Spring. The version I saw had a solid wood base. This metallic version is even better!

Restoration Hardware's Telescoping Tripod Lamp is another great gold floor lamp option.

A nod to nature with Z Gallerie's Twig Lamp Collection

Crate and Barrel's Marlene Table Lamp would be great next to my bed!

Lighting is definitely making its way onto the apartment to-do list! Now if I could only get rid of the nasty track lighting in our rental ...
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