September 30, 2008

black & white

Really loving all the black and white at Pottery Barn right now. I spied these favorites in the latest catalog.

(From top: Woven Bamboo Baskets * Modular Chalkboard & Pinboard Tiles * Black Cache Pot * Graham Desk & Hutch)

September 25, 2008

recipe to try: spook-ie cookies!

I just have to make these cookies for Halloween this year! Aren't they great? The recipe sounds simple enough - if a bit time-consuming - they're just sugar cookies rolled and shaped with slivered almond 'finger nails'.

I was reading through the Reviews on Epicurious and found all sorts of great tips and variations - like adding chopped pistachios to make green witches' fingers or dipping the ends in red food dye so they look severed.

I can't wait to try them! What do you say, Juju - you with me? We'll have to remember to take some pictures to post.

Finger Cookies
Cookie Ingredients
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sliced almonds
2 tablepoons Icing Glue (see below)

Icing Glue Ingredients*
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon water

1. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter until smooth and creamy.
2. Add the sugar, egg, and vanilla extract and mix well.
3. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt and beat until completely mixed.
4. Cover the dough and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
5. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
6. With your hands, roll a heaping tablespoon of dough into a finger shape for each cookie. If the dough gets sticky and hard to work with, put it back in the refrigerator for a little while. Place fingers on an ungreased cookie sheet about 3 inches apart.
7. Use a butter knife to make knuckle marks on the finger cookies. Slightly flatten the front of the finger to create a nail.
7a. Chill fingers in refrigerator for an additional 15 minutes before baking.**
8. Bake 20-25 minutes, until fingers are slightly golden. Remove from the oven and let cool. Meanwhile, prepare the Icing Glue. Mix together powdered sugar and water in a small bowl until the consistency is similar to that of a paste.
9. Attach almond slice fingernails to the tips of the fingers with Icing Glue. Let glue dry for about 30 minutes.

*One reviewer suggests using red jelly to attach the almonds instead of royal icing.
**Another reviewer tip - this keeps the fingers from spreading too much. All that butter needs to chill out!

clever clipboards

As if I wasn't wanting a baby enough already, then I had to go and spy these "It's a Girl" and "It's a Boy" clipboards by Courtney of Two Straight Lines. I am LOVING these clipboards decorated with sweet things that welcome baby. Cute-as-can-be knitted caps in pink and blue, black and white footprints, ultrasound photographs and pacifiers strung with ribbon are all joined together on these clever portable scrapbooks.

What a delightful way to announce your little one. I could see hanging this in the nursery, and then adding more clipboards as baby grows and memories are made. You could take the lock of hair from his first haircut, an ornament from her first Christmas, or an invitation to baby’s first birthday party. Pictures with grandmas and grandpas, a label from her favorite baby-food jar, or a little square from his favorite blankie. The list goes on and on – the possibilities are endless. It’s such a clever way to display the special moments you share with your little one.

I'm definitely going to file this idea!

September 23, 2008

hold on to your hats

The inspiring set of nursery photos below from Two Straight Lines will blow you away!

What’s most inspiring to me are all the little details that make this room so very special. Hand-sewn fabric smocks hang on big white hooks, a ribbon ‘clothesline’ is strung up from wall to wall to display teensy keepsakes, and little newsprint butterflies flutter above the dresser. White furniture pops in front of pale blue walls and red floral-banded curtains made from a bedspread adorn the windows. The attention to detail is simply amazing.

Never have I wanted to decorate a nursery more. Now all we need is a visit from the Stork so I can!

Here are my favorite shots and ideas:

From top: (Bed) (Clothesline Detail) (Curtains) (Smock) (Butterfly Detail)

(Be sure to head over to Two Straight Lines to see the rest!)

September 22, 2008

chicago fave: café avanti

Who knew that walking along Southport early on a Saturday morning with Wade and Lulu in tow would turn out to be one of my favorite things about the weekend? The weather was perfect, and we were looking forward to the weekend ahead. Already feeling a little hungry from the blocks of walking we already had behind us and knowing how much we still had ahead, we decided to make a pit-stop at the adorable Café Avanti. The place is decked out in a very kitschy 50’s vibe with blue and brown and pink polka dots. I first visited this local spot earlier in the summer and indulged in only a steamed vanilla milk and promised I’d be back soon to taste something on the menu. I’m so happy I finally got to make good on that promise.

Neither of us was really in the mood for a big meal (we had a 7 year-old’s birthday party later in the day and knew there would be a ton of food that we don’t have the willpower to turn down). So we opted for something light to just fill our bellies a little. I stayed outside with Lulu while Wade ordered, and in just a few minutes, he returned with yummy drinks (he a coffee and me another steamed milk) and some very delicious, piping hot scones. Blueberry Lemon and Cranberry White Chocolate. Perfect texture, great flavors and just the right amount of big blueberries and cranberries in every bite. Yum yum yum. We ate up every last crumb. And were perfectly content to start the walk home.

Café Avanti * 3706 N. Southport Ave. * 773.880.5959

(sorry - no photo for this one... I didn't bring the camera!)

September 19, 2008


I'm wishing you and yours a lovely autumn weekend.

(Photobrick's Pumpkin on Flickr.)

'Til next week, my friends!

halloween decorating

Halloween is definitely one of my favorite holidays - second only to Christmas, actually - and I'm thrilled that it's almost here again. The aisles at Target are overflowing with costumes, candy and decorations, and just strolling through last weekend, my mind started filling up with ideas for decking our halls in orange and black.

Since we just moved into our house around this time last year, I didn't really get a chance to do any Halloween decorating, what with all the unpacking to do, but this year that will definitely not be the case. The calendar is wide open and we're nicely settled in. And with the help of Martha Stewart, I've got a few ideas up my sleeve...

(Martha Stewart Paper Shadows and Bat Garland)

The tricky part will be waiting until October 1 to start decorating.
Stay tuned for more Halloween posts in the weeks to come!

September 18, 2008

mama needs a new pair of shoes

... and she really wants these!
Those ruffles are pretty as can be.

(Ruffle Row Peep Toes from Anthropologie.)

September 12, 2008

apple of my eye

When I look at this, all I can think of is digging into a warm, gooey slice of apple pie with a big scoop of vanilla on top.

Maybe that's what I'll do this weekend. The forecast is calling for a rainy one, so baking seems the perfect way to spend the time.

Have a good one!

Red Apples by Desert11sailor on Flickr.

dhurrie rugs

If I could say with certainty that Lulu wouldn't destroy one of these gorgeous woven dhurries from John Robshaw, then I might actually consider getting one.

But I'm still trying to get over the hole that she chewed through my kilim...

I guess a new rug is just going to have to go on the wishlist for now.

September 10, 2008

four-legged fashion

Lulu's first birthday is just around the corner and me-thinks she needs a new collar. I think the birthday girl would look just perfect in one of these...Adorable dog collars from Mascot.

Clockwise, from top left: Old School Repp Collar, Sailors Knot Collar, Sailors Knot Collar Natural Collection, Urban Nubuck Collar

{What do you think, Hillary? Wouldn't one of these fit the bill?}

September 9, 2008

a whole lot-ta on sale!

Psst! Hey you! You need to get over to Lotta Jansdotter right now… Unless you don’t want to shop her amazing collection of screen printed linens, stationary and ceramics at 50% off (and more!) the regular price.

I’m guessing it’s an end of season sale or something because they’ve slashed prices across the board. Baby, bags, apparel and linens – all are uniquely Lotta with nature-inspired patterns, earthy color schemes and neutral fabrics. And not all, but a LOT, are marked down.

Now go on… stop reading and get over there !

I’ve got my eye on the line of Redig Mustard pieces – flirty dresses, bags and table linens.

September 8, 2008

down-to-earth style

Natural beauty and contemporary design. That’s what you’ll find when you take a look at the wood collection at Potluck Studios.

Sleek trays, nesting bowls and serving pieces are made from renewable wood in a gorgeous whitewashed blond finish that lets the beauty of the woodgrain show through. I love the organic look of the pure, untreated finish. The unique design of each piece is very alluring, very smart. And each piece – from a square handled tray to a footed compote dish – can easily stand alone as the focal point of a tabletop or can meld seamlessly with other pieces, be they ceramic or glass.

The easy part is thinking of all the ways to incorporate one of them into your home. The hard? Picking out just one.

To see the rest of the collection, click here.
To visit Potluck Studios, click here.

September 5, 2008

they say a picture is worth a thousand words, but what about the frame?

It may not be a thousand, but I'm sure I can come up with a couple...

Ever since I opened an email from RianRae last week, I cannot get these True Love Frames out of my mind! The ornately carved frames remind me of castles with four little turrets pointing up to the sky, and if you look closely, you can see the initials T & L hidden away in the two tallest peaks declaring True Love. And I'm loving the chip carved frame. It looks like Tramp Art, a form of folk art dating back to the 1800’s. {I learned all about it when I asked my boss about a beautifully carved jewelry box she had sitting on her desk. I didn't realize it was actually a Tramp Art antique.} I’m sure all three of the finishes - gold, brown and natural - are pretty, but I think natural is tops.

RianRae True Love Frames, ($88)

{For more on Tramp Art, visit here.}

a new season

It happens every year. The hot, dog-days of summer fade away and are replaced with the much-appreciated cooler days of fall. The sun sets a minute or two earlier each day, and my morning routine starts needing a jump-start since the sun is still hiding when I'm supposed to get out of bed. Chilly nights equal perfect sleeping weather. Pumpkins and mums and apples of all kinds pop up in the grocery stores and colorful leaves begin their floaty descent from tree branches.

Fall is just beginning, and it’s my most favorite time of year. You can feel it in the air. The kids are back at school; another summer vacation passed. My summer diet of popsicles, corn on the cob and fresh veggie salads will soon be replaced with apple crisp and lasagna and roasted chickens. The white wine glasses get pushed to the back making room for the red.

It’s the time to get cozy. To pull out the throw blankets tucked away in the trunk. To dust off the baking books that didn’t get used because it was too hot to turn on the oven. It’s time to nest. And with nesting comes shopping. I mean, we all want a pretty nest, don’t we? Here are a few goodies the magpie in me has her eye on.

(Sophie Conran Pitcher from Anthropologie; Bistro Towels from Harold Import Company; Vintage Inspired Basket from Basketville)

(Lattice Coasters from RianRae)

(Roost Agadir Poufs from Velocity)

(Succulent Wreath from VivaTerra)

September 4, 2008

in grief

I've had a hard time getting back into the swing of things. I was already feeling a little out of it coming back from Mexico, but then on my first day back at work, I got the call. A call in the middle of the day from my dad (neither of which ever happen). I knew from the second I saw the caller ID that something was wrong. He told me that my grandmother died, that my mom was up at the hospital with her when she passed away and that the funeral would be in the next few days. He'd keep me posted on all the rest and my mom would call me that night. We hung up, and I was heartbroken. I knew she was sick. I knew this was coming... she was 83, after all, and lived a full life. But no matter how ready you may think you are, when that call comes, you're left feeling stunned.

And sad. Oh so sad. Sad that this woman who has always been in my life - greeting me every time I walked in the door with giant bear hugs and kisses on the cheek, talking with me about whatever was on my mind no matter how busy she was, teaching me about birds and animals and flowers - was now gone. Sad that my mom has now lost both of her parents in a little over a year, and even though she's nearly sixty is left feeling like an orphan. And so sad that I wasn't able to get right over there at that second to see her, and hug her and tell her how much I love her.

In the days leading up to the funeral services, we talked a lot about my grandma and the influence she had on all of us. We shared stories and special memories and looked at stacks and stacks of pictures. I learned so much about the woman she was... besides just the Grandma I knew. She was a farmer's wife who believed her greatest accomplishment was her family. She was a community leader and advocate for women's rights with a voice that left a brighter future for many. She received many awards for her hard work.

Sharing these stories reminded us to celebrate my grandma and cherish the lessons she taught. Devotion to family. Fighting for what you believe in. Living each day to the fullest. I know that I'll never have her back, but she is in my heart and in my mom's, and the love we share as a family will keep her spirit alive.

September 3, 2008

oh boy

Time is just flying, and I haven't had a chance to get to Contented Me at all. Sorry! I'll try to get a few posts up before the week ends. See you soon!