December 30, 2008

recipe to try: black and white mousse

You’ll be in seventh heaven scooping the sweet melt-in-your-mouth spoonfuls of this dark and white chocolate mousse from Flagrante Delicia. What a luscious dessert for a New Year’s Eve in with your honey... which is exactly what we have lined up this year!

December 29, 2008

etsy calendar collection

I told myself I wasn't going to do this.

There are already enough blogs out there with round-ups of gorgeous 2009 calendars, so why should I add to the mix? But then I started looking at the delightful handmade designs on Etsy and I just couldn't resist.
So here are a few of my favorites...

Hand-Gocco Printed Calendar by Sarah Parrott. $20.

Colorful Prints Calendar by Susy Jack. $34.

Decorative Frame Calendar by Paper and Inkling. $15.50.

Celebrity Birthday Calendar by Beauideal. $24.
Animal Calendar by English Muffin Shop. $15.

Pattern & Texture Calendar by Satsuma Lynn. $44.

Round Funny Birds Calendar by ModernPop. $18.50.

December 23, 2008

holiday wishes

There are cookies to bake, presents to wrap and a queue of Christmas movies to watch – so I’m signing off for the next few days. I do hope your holidays are full of all the simple pleasures and little joys that make you happy. And may your dreams – today and always – come true.


Christmas Cookies via She Dances on Flickr.

December 22, 2008

100 things...

I've seen a few bloggers with their own lists so I decided to try one of my own. Wow... it's harder than you'd think to come up with 100 things! Here goes...

100 Things about Me:

1. When I was a kid, my cousin Kelly and I used to light sparklers and then see how many times we could run around our cottage before they went out.

2. I took great pride in beating him.

3. In high-school I had an iguana. His name was Bud.

4. I totally believe in horoscopes. I’m a Sagittarius.

5. My birthday is November 26th, which sometimes falls on Thanksgiving.

6. I did not like it when my mom made a birthday pumpkin pie instead of a cake one year.

7. My favorite book is “Just As Long As We’re Together” by Judy Blume and has been since about the sixth grade.

8. I read it every year.

9. I am left handed.

10. In elementary school, I was jealous of my sister because she had braces and “got” to wear a retainer.

11. Sometimes I snuck in her room to try it on.

12. Now I thank god that my teeth are straight and that I never had to wear braces.

13. I never get tired of 80’s hair band music.

14. And I’ll always have a crush on Jon BonJovi.

15. I’m a sore loser.

16. Once I lost playing “Life” with my family, and I ran off pouting and crying.

17. I was 24. They’ll never let me forget it.

18. I am totally uncoordinated.

19. I like to blame this on my parents who didn’t let me take dance class when I was little.

20. The last time I went ice skating was when I was eight with my sister.

21. She broke her arm and neither of us have skated again.

22. I have never broken a bone.

23. But I did drop a shot-put on my big toe in eighth grade.

24. And had my lip split open by a baseball bat when I was four.

25. I had to get stitches.

26. I also accidentally stapled the tip of my index finger with an industrial stapler when I was at my first week at a new job.

27. I was so embarrassed and couldn’t tell anyone since I just started there, so I had to pry it open and pull it out myself.

28. I almost passed out.

29. The first time I was on an airplane was sophomore year of high-school.

30. I went to Orlando with my friend and her family.

31. I went to Cancun for spring break my senior year of college with eleven friends.

32. When we checked in, they only had one room reserved for us so we had to share one room – and one bathroom – for a week.

33. When we were kids, we liked to sit on the floor vent in our living room when the furnace kicked on. We’d pull our sleep-shirts over our legs and tuck our heads in to create little tents of warm air.

34. I still like to sit on the vent in our bedroom now.

35. I have three tattoos.

36. I’d like to get more.

37. When I was sixteen, I lied and said I was eighteen so I could get my belly button pierced.

38. It was 2 months before my mom and dad found out.

39. When I was little, I used to love catching frogs and salamanders.

40. I wanted to keep them as pets.

41. Once when I caught a teeny tree frog, I was holding it, standing by the campfire, when it suddenly jumped out of my hand and into the fire. I cried all weekend.

42. My first car was a brown Chevy Cavalier.

43. I named it Phil because the license plate started with FYL.

44. The first – and last – time I went snorkeling, it took me about 30 minutes to figure out how to breathe through the mouthpiece. Once I finally got it, we were called back on to the boat because the time was up.

45. Some day for Christmas, I’d like to get my husband and I (and whatever kiddies we have) matching pj’s to open our presents in.

46. We had to wear uniforms in middle school.

47. All the girls would roll up their plaid skirts at the waist, but we still wore shorts underneath.

48. When I was in seventh grade, I had a huge crush on an eighth grader. I wrote my crush’s name and “I heart my crush” all over the bottom of my shoes in class. When we went out for recess that day, someone told him, and he came over to look at my shoes. I was mortified.

49. When I was in high school, I finally dated that crush and when we broke up in college, it was me who broke it off with him.

50. I cannot drive a stick-shift. My friends tried to teach me in high-school, and I was awful. After about the tenth time of clonking out, I just gave up.

51. I am a Packers fan living in Bears’ country. We are a household divided on football Sunday.

52. I believe that ghosts exist and that houses can be haunted.

53. On our trips home to Wisconsin, I like to moo at the cows in the fields.

54. I don’t like to eat white foods – mayonnaise, cream cheese, ranch dressing, sour cream.

55. But I do like vanilla ice cream, marshmallows and yogurt.

56. Growing up I always wanted to be a teacher.

57. Sometimes I wonder if that’s still what I should have done.

58. I also wanted to be a librarian, a waitress, a cashier and an architect.

59. Some day still I would love to open a bakery.

60. We didn’t have Nintendo at our house.

61. The only video games I liked – and actually got good at from playing at friends’ houses – were the original Super Mario Bros. and Tetris.

62. One of my favorite books growing up was “Dr. Seuss’ ABC’s.” I still know it by heart: “Big A, little A, what begins with A? Aunt Annie’s alligator. A A A…”

63. I don’t have an iPod.

64. I’m scared of doing handstands in yoga class.

65. I can’t read in the car or I’ll get carsick.

66. But I can read when I’m on the train or running on the treadmill.

67. Whenever we roast marshmallows, I like to burn the top layer of my marshmallow, peel it off and eat it and then keep burning it down layer by layer.

68. When I eat a bowl of cereal, I like to mix a couple kinds together.

69. And then I drink the milk.

70. I love making lists.

71. Sometimes when I’m going through a list and realize I did a task that wasn’t on it, I’ll write it on anyway just so I can cross it off.

72. I love board games.

73. I always want to be Miss Scarlet when we play “Clue” and the dog when we play Monopoly.

74. I don’t like sushi.

75. I love karaoke.

76. When I was in kindergarten, I got to be the partridge in a pear tree in our school Christmas play. Every time that verse of the song came up, I had to get down from the “tree” and flap my wings and squawk around the stage.

77. And then when I was in sixth grade, I was the dove in our Christmas play and had to sing a solo. I guess there’s just something about me and birds…

78. I took Spanish in high-school and in college.

79. I still can’t speak it.

80. I’d like to take French classes now.

81. And then take a trip to Paris.

82. My top five favorite movies (in no particular order because it’s too hard narrow down): “You’ve Got Mail,” “Sixteen Candles,” “When Harry Met Sally,” “Love Actually,” and “Baby Boom.”

83. Every year growing up during one week of the summer, my mom would put up a tent in our backyard so we could “camp out” with our friends.

84. My grandparents lived on a dairy farm and used to name the cows after me and my cousins.

85. I loved to go into the barn and check the list to see what my cow was doing that day.

86. I love to do crosswords, sudoku and word jumbles.

87. I wanted to be just like Sam on “Who’s the Boss.”

88. And I thought Susanna Hoffs – from The Bangles – was the coolest person ever.

89. I have a birthmark on my upper thigh that I used to cover up with my hand whenever we went to the pool as kids.

90. I still have a habit of covering it up when I put on a swim suit.

91. My favorite ice cream novelty was always a Mickey Mouse Bar.

92. Now it’s a Dove Bar.

93. I never really liked cats until I got a dog.

94. Now that I’ve got her, I realize how much I love all animals.

95. The worst household chore? Ironing. Followed very close behind by dusting.

96. The best? Vacuuming.

97. I love books. Novels, coffee table books, kids’ picture books – all of them.

98. Some day I want a library in my house.

99. My niece and nephews have brought more joy to my life than I would have ever thought possible.

100. I can’t wait to have children of my own.

So that's 100! Thanks for reading!

December 21, 2008

design inspiration: decorating diy

I {heart} this lovely diy decorating idea from Lobster and Swan.

Create a lovely garland using bits of pretty paper and fabrics. String it up from wall to wall, and you’ve got a simple and sweet way to brighten up any room.

Garland by Lobster and Swan on Flickr.

December 20, 2008

crafting: decorating with cranberries

Here are some lovely ways to decorate for the holidays - in a cheap and chic way. Ruby-red cranberries can be used in myriad ways to spruce up your home. Gorgeous.

December 13, 2008

bedding love: cosmina & cirrus bedding from anthropologie


A ruffly, fluffy duvet and shams in a gorgeous steely silver color topped with a quilt swirling with paisleys of dark gray. The tones remind me of wintry days at nightfall when the gray sky casts its dusky shadows over the city.

This is some serious bed-love. {And actually, if I'm being honest... I'm smitten with this whole darn room - the tree wallcover, the drapes, the chair, the pendant. Oh if I could only have them all...}

Cosmina Quilt & Sham * Cirrus Duvet & Sham
{from Anthropologie}

December 12, 2008

holiday shopping: antique brooch

Wow. This is a real stunner. I love that it's black. I love that it's French. I love that it's old (over 100 years!). But most of all? I love that it's unique.

French Jet Clover Brooch from Erie Basin

gifts for a sweet-tooth

I'm sure these mouthwatering treats from Vosges Chocolate are every bit as delicious and decadent as they look. A perfect gift for the sweet-tooth on your list!

December 11, 2008

holiday shopping: coil candle holders

*UPDATE* Contented Me readers can save 10% at Burke D├ęcor! Shop online and get 10% off your entire order by entering CONTENTED at checkout. What a great deal!

Whenever the holidays roll around, I find myself totally gravitating towards things silver and sparkly. So naturally, I find these candle holders pretty pretty pretty.

Silver Coil Candle Holder from Burke Decor. $16.

Get a couple of these and throw in another lovely item or two to your shopping cart and get free shipping! That's right... enjoy free shipping on all orders over $50 at Burke Decor this holiday season.

December 10, 2008

stocking stuffers: glass ornaments

Moo-ve on over to CB2 this weekend to corral these adorable cow ornaments! Those little round bodies just make me smile.

{It says they're no longer available online, but maybe you'll be lucky and snap up a few at the store closest to you. I'm hoping there are a still a few left at the store by my house. Fingers crossed! }

But just in case the cows are gone...

starburst ornaments * trumpets ornaments * finial ornaments

December 9, 2008

spotlight: simply photo's winter wonders shop

I came for the photography, but I'm staying for these adorable hand-crocheted coasters. Just like snowflakes, each is unique. And together they make quite a statement.

I should have kept these darling coasters a secret – since I’m not supposed to be doing any shopping for myself right now and will have to wait until after the holidays to snap them up, which is a fat chance, since I know they'll be gone {sigh} – but I just couldn’t resist telling you about them. It is the season of giving after all…

Also be sure to check out the amazing photography at Simply Photo's Winter Wonders Shop

December 8, 2008

holiday shopping

J. Crew is having its Holiday Sale. Here are some lovely tops that I have my eye on. Loving feminine touches - ruffles & rosettes - on neutral colors. Hey Santa? I'm a size small...

Rosette Tank

Ruffle-Neck Cardigan

Necklace Tee

December 5, 2008

local shopping in chicago

There are so many things to do around the city this weekend:

Southport Holiday Stroll Friday from 5-9. Enjoy some holiday cheer – carolers, a sleigh ride, free samples and more. Between Byron and Belmont on Southport Avenue.

Do Division Holiday Walk All day Saturday. Participating stores offer sales and treats to customers, and there are free carriage rides down Division Street.

Renegade Craft Fair Holiday Sale Saturday and Sunday. Third annual craft fair with over 150 vendors. At the Pulaski Park Fieldhouse.

DEPART-ment Holiday '08 Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Over 125 vendors offering handmade goodies. 2000 W. Fulton (at Damen).

Lincoln Square Christkindl Market Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Eat traditional German food, listen to Christmas Carols, and sip on glogg as you shop among the dozens of vendors and merchants in Lincoln Square.

Roscoe Village Winterfest Stroll Saturday and Sunday. The shops (between Damen and Oakley on Roscoe) will serve cocktails and appetizers, host live music, and offer wine tastings or trunk shows.

With all these shopping options, you're sure to find something for everyone on your list. And it'll be fun trying!

December 4, 2008

in my recipe box: gourmet's favorite cookies from 1941-2008

I love this feature on It's full of the very best cookie recipes from the start of the magazine. Spanning seven decades, it's interesting to see how the ingredients and types of cookies changed over time. I'm sure you'll find at least a recipe or two that are worth trying.