Sunday, September 26, 2010

Halloween Costumes

Happy Fall!  It's time to start thinking about Halloween costumes.  What are you going to be?

{image via}

Dash and Remy are going as Woody and Jessie from Toy Story.   They are super excited about their costumes and can't wait to try them on...again.


I'm thinking of going as Lady one of her more demure looks. 

What are your costumes of choice during this spooky season?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Back to School Picks

The kids are headed back to school, which means it's time for the annual BTS school shopping pilgrimage.   I spent the better part of last Sunday trying last year's fall clothes on my little ones, keeping what fit and boxing up what didn't to make room for the new.  I've picked up a few things so far...

For Miss Remy, I picked up the Gap Mini Skinny Jean.

And this leopard print cardigan from Old Navy, paired with black leggings and little ballet flats.

For Mr. Dash, I scored the Gap Mini Skinny for boys.

And this cute tee from JCrew.  I just love their stuff..especially for the kids.

Still left on our shopping for both kids, some new white t-shirts and a couple of fancy outfits for the kids' 1 1/2 and 2 1/2 year pictures.

Monday, August 30, 2010


Happy Monday!  This has been a summer of good books at my house, and I am at various points in about nine books at the moment.  However, I will be setting them all aside tomorrow to begin the much-anticipated Freedom by Johnathan Franzen.  Book lovers everywhere cannot help but be drawn into the hype, as Franzen's soon-to-be-released novel is being touted as the great American novel of our time, profiled in articles from The New York Times to Vogue.

I'll be picking up my copy at Barnes & Noble tomorrow morning.  What are you reading during these final days of summer?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Keep Calm and Carry On


I've been on a bit of a hiatus lately, focusing on some major changes to my day job.  I have this poster hanging in my laundry room, and lately I have had to stop and take a look at at whenever I feel overwhelmed.  Sometimes, you really do just have to take a moment to breathe.

How have you been?

Monday, August 16, 2010

T-Shirt Love

Doesn't it seem so much easier to buy cute clothes for little girls than for little boys?  I have to confess, I'm lucky enough to have a mom who outfits my kids in the absolute cutest clothes, so I don't worry much about shopping for them.  However, when I do need a specific item or just want to browse the latest trends, I tend to find several things for my daughter for every one item I spot for my son.

My little guy pretty much lives in t-shirts, paired with cargo shorts and sandals in the summer, and worn over long-sleeve thermals with jeans in the winter.  I adore DX-Xtreme t-shirts, made of a durable yet soft cotton and raw edges to the collar and sleeves.   Available at Nordstrom, these funky designs aren't your typical graphic tees.  Perfect for my Dash, who is not your typical kid.

Friday, August 13, 2010

How Did You Get This Number?

Last summer I spent several days in hysterics while reading Sloane Crosley's, "I Was Told There'd Be Cake".  Crosley can best be described as a younger, female version of David Sedaris, with a self-depricating wit and a penchant for getting herself into precarious situations.

This summer, Crosley followed up her debut with "How Did You Get This Number", a second book of non-fiction humorous essays about her life.  While I didn't love it quite as much as the first book, I found it funny and easy to identify with her tales of a sometimes rocky journey into adulthood. 

Crosley is definitely a voice of the female in her late twenties and early thirties, old enough to know better but cool enough to sometimes go ahead and do it anyway.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Christmas Ornaments

I know, I know.  It's only August, right?  But I just picked up the Hallmark Keepsake Dream Book, and I've been perusing all the lovely little ornaments and thinking about Christmas. 

I tend to prefer ornaments of the handmade, paper clip plus popsicle stick plus pipe cleaner variety, and look forward to the annual tradition of unwrapping them from their crinkly tissue paper-induced hibernation and relishing the memories associated with each one.  My husband, on the other hand, has amassed a three decades-running collection of Hallmark ornaments, and has his own wonderful memories of opening up the glossy treasures.

I want my children to enjoy both the handmade sweetness and the magic of store-bought fun as we continue to make our own traditions.  Here are a couple of my Hallmark favorites:

This one is called Max Sets Sail.  My kids just adore Where The Wild Things Are.

And I adore the mini versions of toys we had as children, a la the Fisher-Price schoolhouse.  So sweet.

Have you perused the dreambook yet?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Tasting Party


Have you been to Pier 1 Imports lately?

They are featuring the coolest collection of porcelain dinnerware for a tasting party.   Click on the link to their web site for a look at the tiny dishes, spoons and cups in various shapes and sizes, along with photos of gorgeous party setups and printable recipes! 

Now I need to schedule a tasting party to use my new dishes.  Won't it be so much fun?

Friday, August 6, 2010


I love bows.  I love them on adorned on clothes, clipped to shiny shoes, sparkling on jewelry, hanging gingerly from pretty packages, and just about anywhere else you can put them.  And I love this Marc by Marc Jacobs bow ring.
It's so classic and sweet.  Sort of Tiffany meets Hello Kitty, no?  I think I need to have one.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Orange Addition: Chicago Neighborhoods Poster

How cool is it that the Chicago poster I have been coveting for a year happens to be available in a lovely shade of orange, and I am on the hunt for orange accessories for our bedroom makeover?  Perfect.

I adore these posters and screen prints by Ork! Posters, which spell out the neighborhoods of various cities (Los Angeles, Manhattan, etc.)  I think I'd like to have the NYC version as well, but we'll start with this one.

Coconut Water

Have you tried coconut water?  I've been hearing lots of buzz about this health drink, extracted from actual coconuts.  It is supposed to be a sweeter version of water, with tons of electrolytes, potassium and other health benefits.  I made the mistake of heading to the grocery store hungry, and therefore prone to impulse buys.  I picked up some coconut water and tried it last night.  Here's what I learned:

1.  I don't like coconuts.
2.  The water has floating, cloudy, coconut bits, which I found ridiculously unappetizing.
3.  The water tasted a bit fishy.
4.  Coconut water is not my favorite.

I will say that after drinking a glass, I felt very hydrated, but slightly nauseous over the taste.  I think I may have to try a different brand.  Have you tried coconut water?  If so, what is your favorite brand?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Book Review: Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Have you read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo? 

{image via}

I realize that millions of people are already in on my secret, but this book, and the two others in the trilogy, are some of the most entertaining and exciting novels that I have ever read.   Written by the late Steig Larsson and translated from Swedish, the Millennium Series books are brilliantly written thrillers that feature one of the most compelling characters in modern literature in the form of computer hacker Lisbeth Salander.

Give the first book a try, and hang in there for a few chapters.   It starts a little slow and the Swedish names and places take a bit of getting used to, but eventually you will be hooked.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Bedroom Makeover

Happy Tuesday!

My dear husband has agreed to paint our bedroom as part of a much-needed room makeover.  It's not that we have any hideous decor or garish wallpaper or anything.  In fact, it's quite the opposite.  The room is just...boring.  White walls, plain furniture, neutral curtains.  Snore.  I know you're supposed to fall asleep in the room, but not while looking at the room. 

{image via}

I'm a big fan of grey, so we'll definitely use it as the wall color.  There's been a lot of grey and yellow used in design lately, so I want to try something a little different.  I've decided on orange as the accent color, and have picked up lamps and bedding to coordinate.  Wouldn't this rug go just perfectly?

The only issue is that we already have carpet in the bedroom.  What do you think about area rugs on carpeted floors? 

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Mad Men

Season 4 of Mad Men starts tonight!  We're dusting off our martini glasses in preparation for the big event.  Who's your favorite Mad Men character? 

Friday, July 23, 2010

Weekend Concert: Kings of Leon

Happy Friday!  It's been a crazy one, and I am looking forward to the weekend.  We're headed to the Kings of Leon concert!  I love this band and am excited to see them perform live.  It should be a great show.  Don't they look extra serious in this picture, though? 

Hope your weekend is delightful!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Milestone Birthday

Doesn't this look like the most beautiful place?  For my husband's 30th birthday, we are headed to Stout's Island.  A favorite destination of my parents who introduced us to it last year, this lovely little island is the perfect weekend getaway.  I'm so looking forward to a peaceful, relaxing (albeit short) visit.

I'm also putting the finishing touches on the birthday details.  I was hoping to put together 30 presents, large and small, to celebrate his big day.  It's more of a challenge than I suspected to find this many gifts and not break the bank.  I need some inspiration.  Any ideas?

{image via Stout's Island Lodge}

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Book Review: The Carrie Diaries

{image via}

Have you read this yet?  If you're a Sex And The City fan, you'll enjoy The Carrie Diaries.  This prequel, written by Candace Bushnell, gives us a peek into the Carrie Bradshaw's high school years.  The book doesn't follow all of the details that we learned from the show, but the essence of Carrie is defintely present.  Geared to a teenage audience, this is a quick, fun read.  Perfect for a day at the beach!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Pie In A Bag

{image via The Elegant Farmer}

Have you ever heard of The Elegant Farmer?    This Milwaukee bakery is famous for baking the most delicious apple a bag.  They actually bake them in the brown paper bag, and the result is pure poetry.  As someone who does not typically enjoy pie (I don't like the texture of crust), I was skeptical when a co-worker brought one in.  It is truly the most delicious pie ever, with a sweet sugar cookie crust and piles of tart, tender apples inside.

On Sunday I decided to try and recreate this perfect pie using a number of copycat recipes from the internet.  After conquering the fear of putting a brown paper bag in a hot oven (several frantic phone calls to friends and family ensued), I ended up with a decent pie, though it didn't look or taste much like The Elegant Farmer's pie perfection.  Some say the secret is tapioca pearls to thicken the filling, or rice flour for a crunchy crust.  I tried both, but mine did not have the Elegant Farmer's magic formula.  There's always next time.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Friday Favorites

{image via}
Happy Friday!  With any luck, this month's issue of Martha Stewart Living will have hit my mailbox by the time I get home this evening.  Don't you just love the opening the crisp, glossy pages of a new magazine? 

A few things that caught my eye this week...

-I can't wait to try this new restaurant, a long-awaited project from the winner of Top Chef Chicago.

-My new favorite living room, spotted at Where the Sidewalk Begins.

-A super sweet kite-themed children's birthday party, found here.  Love it.

-The Luna Cafe is my new favorite site for delicious recipe ideas.  Simple instructions, gorgeous photos and inspired food.  Check it out.

Have a perfect weekend!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Gift Wrapping

{image via}

I am obsessed with gift wrapping.  I admit it.  I spend as much on wrapping paper as I do on gifts, have an entire area in my house devoted to ribbons and adornments, and constantly daydream about new ways to make packages more beautiful. 

How clever is this tutorial from The Crafts Department at Martha Stewart's web site?  It also happens to be much easier than it looks.  Love it!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Cheap Thrills: iPhone Edition

{image via}

If you have an iPhone, you're probably overwhelmed by the sheer masses of accessories out there.  I just ordered this fun and simple iPhone stand from, spotted over at The Office Stylist.  I got one in Pretty In Pink for me and Blue Velvet for my husband.  Priced under $8, this is a functional little tool to prop your phone for watching movies, using it as an alarm clock and reading. 

What can I say?  I'm a sucker for cheap and shiny accessories.  What's your favorite iPhone accessory?

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Fourth!

Happy Fourth of July!  When I think of Independence Day, I think of picnics, flags, parades, and Bruce Springsteen's Born In The USA.  Freedom is an abstract notion that we often take for granted.  But when you stop and think about it on a day like today, we're so very lucky, aren't we?

Friday, July 2, 2010

Sushi Train

Continuing on yesterday's sushi kick, I just spotted this sushi train set over at The Lark.  Is it not the sweetest toy?  Kids can create their own sushi using the felt toy pieces, and then you can choose your play meal from train cars, similar to the sushi shops where you pick your plates from a moving conveyor belt. 

This sure beats the Snoopy Snow Cone Machine of my era.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

I Love Sushi

I love sushi.  It is one of my absolute favorite foods.  It's fresh, flavorful and doesn't leave you feeling guilty after you indulge (unless of course you consume a ridiculous amount of soy sauce and your fingers swell up like sausages -- not that I would know this particular feeling, mind you).

My ideal sushi order, following a starter of edamame or seaweed salad,  is:
*  1 piece maguro (tuna)
*  1 piece ebi (shrimp)
*  1 piece hamachi (yellowtail)
*  1 piece tamago (sweet egg mixture)
*  1 spicy scallop roll

What are your sushi faves?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Shoe Love

So, I think I need to have these shoes, spotted at  Or more appropriately, my 15 month old needs them.  Are they not the cutest?  Made by Vivienne Westwood Anglomania for Melissa, these jellies are perfect for the well-heeled toddler.

Squeak!  Look at the adult version available here
Must.  Buy.  Shoes.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Book Review: Born Round

Wouldn't it be amazing to be a food critic?  To dine at the finest restaurants in New York City with friends and to write about your experiences?  That's exactly the job that Frank Bruni had for the New York Times, and his memoir, Born Round, details this experience and much more. 

Bruni is a fantastic writer, and his lovely command of the English language made up for the self-loathing low points of the book.  My favorite parts were those that described his experiences as a critic, detailing the tedious process of maintaining anonymity under the watchful eye of NYC's top restauranteurs.

This book is an enjoyable read for anyone with a love of good food, or simply a good story.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Happy Belated Father's Day

Happy Belated Father's Day!  I've been a rough blogging-free week for me, as I have been out sick for most of it.  However, we did get to enjoy one picture perfect day at the lake house in celebration of Father's Day.

I am so fortunate to have a wonderful father to honor on this special day, and my kids are equally fortunate to have their amazing dad.  Hope you enjoyed your day!

P.S. - Thanks to our friend and weekend companion CK for taking such a lovely pic of Mr. Dash.  It's my new favorite.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Spring Planting

I planted these beauties underneath our office windows at work.  I used a few of my favorites: Coleus, Celosia, Dahlias and Zinnias, among others.  It's nice to look outside and see a pretty pop of color!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Recipe: Skillet Cookie

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A few weeks ago, we had an impromptu visit from friends, and I found myself without a planned meal or dessert.   Dinner was simple enough to pull together, but I'm not a particularly talented baker, so the prospect of a quick and easy dessert was slightly more daunting.  Rummaging through the cupboards and fridge, I found some chocolate chips, heavy cream and not much else.  From those meager beginnings, the skillet cookie was born.

Recipe:  Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie
adapted from the Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook 

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 large egg
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp vanilla
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips or chunks (I like milk chocolate, but semi-sweet work well also)

- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
-Combine flour, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.
-Combine butter and both sugars. Add in egg and vanilla and blend in an electric mixer or using a hand mixer.
-Slowly add in flour until mixture is combined. 
-Stir in chocolate chips.
-Press dough into iron skillet (8 or 10" skillet will work).
-Bake 35-40 minutes or until golden brown.
-Serve in slices with whipped cream.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Book Review: The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner

Okay, I'll admit it.  I totally caved in to Twilight Madness.  Last summer, I read all four books in the Twilight series upon urging from my co-workers and friends.  And I LOVED them.  Sure, they weren't literary masterpieces, but they were fun and entertaining. 

Last week, Stephenie Meyer released a novella, The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner, told from the point of view of a character that had just a sliver of a part in Eclipse.  This book, was a lightning-fast read, not particularly compelling, but had a few interesting morsels for fans of the series.  You can actually read the book online free for a limited time.

Bottom line, if you're a Twilight fan, you'll probably read it.  If not, it won't make much sense to you or be particularly interesting.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Fruit Pops

This summer, fresh fruit popsicles have replaced cupcakes and macarons as the "it" treat.  Enter the Zoku Quick Pop Maker, available exclusively at Williams Sonoma.

{image via Williams Sonoma}

This little gadget allows you to make custom gourmet popsicles using the fresh fruits and juices of your choice.  A fast, healthy treat for your family, and you get to control the ingredients. Perfectly sweet.  Perfectly summer.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday, Friends!  I have been in a design frame of mind this week, so here are a few fab home decor ideas spotted on some of my favorite blogs and web sites.  Enjoy!

{image via Plush Palate}

-Check out this DIY ottoman tutorial on Three Men and a Lady.  I also love the oversized family photos in the living room!

-Wouldn't it be fun to have a banquette in your house?  Get inspired by a photo gallery on Small Place Style

-More Do-It-Yourself inspiration over at Design Sponge, where they feature a tutorial on roller blinds. 

-Layered curtains spotted at Coco & KelleyBeautiful!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Cherry Pitter

{image via Imapix on Flickr}

It's cherry season!

These fleshy, sweet little bites are perfect for snacking, baking and for use in salads and sauces as well.  Their season is short, so I like to have them on hand and use them whenever possible. 

But I'm tired of pitting them.  Let's shop for a new pitter, shall we?

How about this one, courtesy of Williams Sonoma?

It's made by OXO, retails for $13 and pits olives too. 

Then there's the Cherry Chomper. 

Cute, kid-friendly, affordable at $9.99, and confines the mess to a small area. 

Or, there's the Cadillac of cherry pitters, the Cherry-It Pitter.

This one pits four cherries at a time, and captures the pits in a handy little compartment below.  It even comes with a fancy colander!  It'll set you back $15 but save you loads of time.

If that was the Cadillac, then this one from Sur La Table is the Bentley.  Made for high-volume use, the Leifheit pits 26 pounds of cherries in one hour.  I'm speechless.  At $29.95, it's sort of a bargain.

So many choices.  Or, I could just use a knife.  But where's the fun in that?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Rice Cooker Oatmeal

Oatmeal is one of my favorite breakfast foods.  I'm not talking about the mushy, drippy, done in thirty seconds oatmeal.  Steel cut, slow cooking, ridiculously chewy oats please. Unfortunately, what makes slow cooking oats taste good is a little something I can't seem to find enough of...time.  Until, that is, a friend suggested I put them in my rice cooker.
So I did.  And...voila!

Rice Cooker Oatmeal (serves 4)

2 cups steel cut Irish oats (I prefer McCann's)
4 cups water

Put oats and water in your rice cooker.  I put mine in the night before and let everything soak.  The next morning, I press "cook"and walk away for about 30 minutes.  Rice cooker will switch to "warm" setting when done.  Seriously, could it be any easier?  No crazy stirring or waiting involved.

Serve with your choice of toppings, including brown sugar, nuts and dried or fresh fruit.
I like to portion the oats in small Tupperware containers and save them for a week of breakfasts. I also like to serve them with a fresh bouquet of peonies on the table, courtesy of my garden.  But that part is totally optional. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

P.S. - I Made This

Okay, so I didn't make at least.  But I do want to share with you one of my most favorite web sites.  It's P.S. - I Made This, the brain child of uber-talented lifestyle expert Erica Domesek.  She transforms everyday items into fabulous articles of clothing and design, drawing from inspirations around her.  She even features a how-to collage with all of her posts, so you can duplicate the fabulousness at home.

Check out the one-shoulder ruffle t-shirt that she made with a pack of white t-shirts.  LOVE it!!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Packing for a weekend at the lake house, I threw together a stack of reading materials that a speed reader couldn't possibly get through in just two short days.  Glossy design magazines, a few sad-looking New Yorkers begging to be read, every potty training how-to guide published in the last decade, and a new book called Commencement, by J. Courtney Sullivan.

I am often overwhelmed when searching for a new book to read, digging through old NYT book reviews that I've set aside to signal a future read, scrolling through my Amazon wishlist and considering their recommendations based on my reading history (seriously? some of their choices make me seem insane.), and poring over online reviews in hopes of hitting the proverbial literary jackpot.  After reading a handful of glowing reviews, I ordered Commencement with little internal debate.

Unfortunately, I didn't hit the jackpot with Commencement, which turned out to be a frustrating coming of age story chronicling the lives of four women at Smith College, during and after their graduation.  While the writing was compelling at points, Perhaps my college experience at a massive, co-ed Big 10 school was so vastly different from one at a private women's college that it was impossible to identify with the characters enough to invest in them.  Their incessant rehashing of feelings, strange tales of women's college antics, and endless pages of alcohol-filled bad behavior had me threatening (to nobody in particular) to put the book down and move on to something else. 

I did eventually finish the entire thing, thanks in part to a plot twist later in the story and part to a stubborn hope that the reviewers knew something I didn't, but in the end I was left wishing for my $20 and 9 hours back.  I have a great appreciation for authors and complete respect for a difficult craft that a good writer can make seem easy.  Commencement was not a bad book, but it didn't live up to its reviews and it wasn't the book for me.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Happy Memorial Day

Happy Memorial Day!  My little family spent our weekend on the shores of Lake Michigan soaking up the warm sun, building countless sandcastles and enjoying the colorful bounty of fruits and vegetables that early summer brings.

Flag by Jasper Johns

Today we honor those that gave their lives in military service.  It is difficult to find the right combination of words to express thanks for such heroes, and for their families who go on without them.  We know that freedom is not without a price, and are forever grateful for their sacrifices.

"The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding, go out to meet it."    -Thucydides