Monday, November 29, 2010

Planning A Last Minute Chanukah Party

Happy (almost) Chanukah! This year I've committed myself to lighting the candles every single night - something I haven't done in years. Even though lighting the candles only takes a few moments, the hustle and bustle of day to day life make it easy to skip a night here and there. So this year I've been proactive -- I've rescheduled meetings, informed my professors that I won't be able to make my evening classes, and asked Neill to shift around his schedule as well. It feels good to make time for celebrating the holiday together. 

Unfortunately, with Chanukah coming so close to Thanksgiving this year I've barely had any time to prepare! But, I'm determined to have my parents over one night so we can all celebrate together. Thankfully, we already have a menorah and candles so the only thing I need to take care of is the menu.

My aunt and me frying latkes together
 I've decided to make two kinds of latkes - potato and zucchini (my personal favorite). To make the latkes feel extra special (and taste extra delicious!) we'll have a "toppings bar" of sour cream, applesauce, cavier, and creme fraiche. I'd also like to make noodle kugle and a simple roasted veggie. And now here is where things get sinfully easy, we'll be taking some help from the grocery store and serving a gussied up pre-made rotisserie chicken.  Since latkes, the real star of the show, require a fair amount of "hands on" time I figured I'd give myself a break with the chicken. Fortunately, the traditional Chanukah dessert is also easy - jelly donuts! 

Neill forming the latke

latkes frying up
In case there are any other MOT (members of the tribe) out there who are planning a last-minute Chanukah meal, here is a comprehensive shopping guide for the menu above. The ingredients are based off of recipes you can find here, but there are a ton of recipes online and they all call for basically the same things.  Also, if you are missing the basics you'll need to pick up a menorah, candles, and a dreidel.

Happy Chanukah!

You need . . . .
Vegetable Oil
Salt and Pepper
1 lemon
10 large eggs
3 small onions
3 large baking potatoes (each should be about 1 pound)
1 pound of zucchini
1/2 cup matzo meal
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 pound wide egg noodles
2 cups sugar
2 pounds full-fat cottage cheese (large curd)
2 sticks of butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
Salt to taste
Sour cream
1/2 pint of creme friache
Cavier (whatever is in your budget - I'll probably go with salmon roe)
2 rotisserie chickens
A few sprigs of fresh herbs for garnish
6 jelly donuts
Fresh vegetables 
Chanukah gelt (chocolate coins)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

the value of a photo

photo by adam arcus

Have I mentioned my husband is in a band? They recently took some new photos and I love the dreamy effect the photographer was able to capture.

The one on the left is mine <3

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Gift Guide: For Me!


1. Neill gave me a Longchamp bag last Christmas and it has been my everyday bag since then. Unfortunately, it hasn't held up very well and the corners of the bag are developing holes. Even though now I know that these bags aren't the best for everyday use, this red one would be the perfect once in a while bag.

2. I know the perfect spot for these John-Paul Philippé Framed Sketches!

3. I'm hopping on the colored tights trend (I'm just a year or so late). But, I'd love a pair or two in rich, jewel tone colors.

4. I tend to wear a lot of black and so accessories are an easy way to add color. These turquoise earrings are so fun.

5. During the windy Chicago winters my ears get so cold! I would love to have a pair of warm earmuffs to keep my lobes toasty.

6. I find that I spend about 500 dollars every semester on my textbooks. That means that a gift card to Amazon is always appreciated!

7. Here is another trend I'm just catching on to, albeit a few years late. These Hunter rain boots are at the top of my list! I had to travel through a bad rainstorm on Monday and that was the last straw. I need a pair of rain boots! Plus, I've also read that with a pair of warm socks these are good for snow because of the traction on the soles.

8. This cute little owl just makes me smile.

9. Since my Longchamp is starting to fall apart (literally), I really need a sturdy bag that can stand up to everyday use. I have high hopes for this Fossil bag.

10. I originally found this Bobbi Brown makeup palette for my mom, but I want one too! You get so many choices with just one compact!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!

Last weekend we prepared a Thanksgiving feast with friends and now we are celebrating with family. Today is a good reminder that we all have so many things to be thankful for.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Gift Guide: For Mom

It is undeniable that the relationship between a mother and daughter is special. As I have gotten older I have been able to appreciate my mom for who she is  - a strong woman who strives to make this world a better place. But, sometimes this means that she puts the needs of others before her own. So around the holidays I always want to give her luxurious items that she will enjoy.

Here is my ultimate gift guide for moms. I hope my top ten gifts for mom's gave you a few good ideas for things your mom (or mother-in-law!) might want. I've included links to brand specific items, but most of these things can be substituted with your favorite line. In your opinion, what do you think the best gift for a mom is? 

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1. Caramel Marshmallows and Beer Gift Set from Vosges Chocolates. Everything Vosges makes is absolutely delicious, but my mom loves marshmallows so I think this would be the perfect box of sweets for her.

2. I love that my mom does yoga because it is something she does for herself! When she decided to get certified to teach yoga I gave her a new mat to show my support.

3. This year, my mom asked me for cashmere socks. Cashmere is so soft and comforting, I don't think you can go wrong with cashmere anything! But, I've got to say - cashmere socks sound so comfy, I might want a pair too. These cozy socks from Old Navy would also make a good stocking stuffer.

4. Every night before bed my mom relaxes and reads and this nonfiction book looks like a good read.

5. Bobbi Brown Lip and Eye Palette. Bobbi Brown is my mom's favorite cosmetic line and I think she would put this makeup palette to good use.

6. A good body scrub is a necessity during the cold Chicago winters and this scrub from Crabtree & Evelyn sounds divine.

7. A plush cashmere scarf just says luxury. Not only does it keep you warm, but its nice to cuddle with too.

8. Perfume is a simple luxury that can be enjoyed every day! I love this Burberry perfume, but its fun to pick whichever scent smells best to you. 

9. What woman doesn't love getting jewelry! These earrings from Sundance are a sophisticated take on the hoop earring.

10. I don't think my mom would purchases these Ugg slippers for herself,  but I just know she would love them! She hates being cold and is always looking for ways to bundle up. These are sure to keep her tootsies toasty.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Gift Guide: For the Husband

It is always so difficult to decide what to get Neill for the holidays! I'm not very good at sleuthing out what he wants and I'm usually hesitant to buy him presents that he hasn't asked for. I guess that makes me pretty bad at surprises. But, it is near impossible to surprise a music gear techy who has specific tastes on what he wants and doesn't want! So, we've accepted that in our family we will just ask each other what the other one wants. This way everyone is happy!

I've compiled a list of some of the top gifts I've gotten Neill over the last five years. Some are big and some are small, but they have all been hits. A few of them were even surprises! It is pretty cool to look back and see all of the neat things I've given him. I hope this helps someone out there find the perfect gift for their beer brewing, whiskey drinking, music playing, nerdy special someone.  

[click on the image to enlarge]

1. Maker's Mark whiskey
2. Whiskey Stones
3. Set of Maker's Mark tumblers
4. Korg H4 recorder
5. Ipod mini
6. Beer brewing start-up kit
7. Valentino cologne 
8. Joan Jett Melody Maker guitar
9. Epiphone Sheraton II guitar
10. Got Linux? t-shirt
11. Glenlivit scotch

This year for Chanukkah we're gifting each other some new bedroom furniture, but I still have to find something to give Neill for Christmas! Do you have any suggestions?

Sunday Lovely

Isn't this picture just dreamy?

apartment therapy

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Bedroom Design Inspiration

Now that I've purchased our new nightstand and I've basically decided on what lamp to go with, I was able to crate a final inspiration montage. Even though we live in the heart of the city, I'd like our bedroom to feel more relaxed coastal than urban.  We'll be purchasing the furniture as our holiday gift to one another, but attempting to DIY the art.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, & 8

We've given ourselves about a 450 dollar budget - 225 from each of us. Thankfully, the nightstand and lamps  are covered by gift certificates we received as wedding gifts. These items alone would have eaten up our budget!

I'm pretty set on purchasing this chair and I'm thinking about rounding out our reading nook with this 4' X 6' indoor/outdoor rug from Dash and Albert and a floor lamp. I'd love to find a reasonably priced lamp that resembles this one from Crate and Barrel. I've also added a fun knitted poof to the picture! But for 80 dollars, my dreams of poofs may have to wait a while. Poof or no poof, it will be so nice to have a comfy spot to get my hours of school related reading done!

Friday, November 19, 2010

This little light of mine (In search of a table lamp)

A few days ago I ordered a new nightstand using gift certificates Neill and I received as wedding presents. And thanks to my husband, the beauty is already assembled and set up next to our bed. Yay! 

Now, it is time to find us a pair of lamps. Currently we have two plastic floor lamps that I've never been a fan of. They look something like this:

We've had them for about five years. We bought them for the first apartment we ever had together when we were buying the cheepest version of everything we needed. The lesson I'm learning is that just because something is cheap, it doesn't necessarily mean it is a good deal! It is worth spending a little bit more money if it means getting something you'll want to keep forever. [Of course, it would be even better if you could find something you love without spending the extra cash.]

I'm hoping we can sell the lamps on craigslist (or give them away on the free section) to make room for two new lovelies.
Here are the lamps I've been digging.

I'd get this lamp in the antique bronze finish. On the plus side, Pottery Barn is having a sale right now and I could purchase two of these lamps for 148 dollars. Plus, Pottery Barn takes William Sonoma gift cards, so we could probably buy these lamps without actually spending any cash. Also, this lamp is adjustable (22.5- 27.5 inches). Downside? We have to buy the shades separately, which could be an extra 60 dollars.

This little cutie is nice and cheap and I like the blue. But, I'm not sure if the color is too jewel-toned for our room. Plus, it might be a bit too modern. 
This is way our of budget, but oh gee I just love love love this lamp. One day.

I'm in like with the blue lamp on the left. But is it too pastel? This one is from pottery barn, so again we could use gift cards for it. But, buying the shades would be mo money. 

Oh gee here is another one I'm just in love love love with from pottery barn. I'd go with either the sea glass color or the clear. The reviews say the sea glass color is actually very green and I was hoping for something more blue, but damn I just love these. 

Lovely lamp in what appears to be the perfect shade of blue! I've really liked this one for a long time too. Target has some really cute lamps!

Now I'm just getting distracted with all the beautiful lamps from Target. This one is probably much to large for our nightstands. But now I'm thinking about how lovely this lamp would look on our console table in the entry way.

Something about this lamp reminds me of a grandma. I'm not quite sure. I like the color though and it could be great in person. Maybe I like it because it reminds me of one of the lamps I registered for that has since been discontinued.

Again, I'm getting distracted. But I love this lamp too! Why is it so expensive??? 

Whew. That was a lot of lamps. I think I'm largely stuck between the Eva Colored Glass Table Lamp, the Blue and Chrome Table Lamp, the Chelsea Table Lamp, or the Alexis Ceramic Table Lamp. What is a girl to do?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Night Stand - Purchased!

After examining all of our options, we decided to go ahead and purchase the Brighton Night Stand from Crate and Barrel.

Not only do we like the way it looked, but we were able to purchase it with  gift cards we recieved at our wedding. So, that's basically like FREE! Getting married is truly the gift that keeps on giving (haha).

Since I was buying something anyways, I snuck in another purchase. The Sedona Hamper. Check out this beauty.

Ooo baby.  I've wanted this hamper for YEARS. What can I say? Some girls want shoes. I want a laundry basket. I'm super excited to upgrade from my blue plastic hamper I've had since grade school  to this classy lady. (Yes! Neill and I are currently using a hamper I've had throughout high school and college! Is this tmi? I hope not)

After our 10% off for "registry completion" and using our gift-cards ($300), I only ended up spending 17 dollars to have these lovelies delivered to our front door. Yippeee! I love presents! 

Saturday, November 13, 2010

White Night Stand Under 200 Dollars

Neill needs a night stand. Somewhere to put his glass of water. his glasses. his stuff. Really, I don't know how we've gone more than three years living here with just a big empty space where his bed side table should be. Oops!

But, now is the time! If only we can find one that just isn't so darn expensive! Who knew that night stands can cost hundreds and hundreds dollars? Maybe this is why we never got one for him . . .

so lovely, but so out of our price range

Picking out furniture has always been difficult for me. Well, not the picking it out. Its easy for me to see things I like. It is the following through and buying that is difficult. Somewhere along the way I developed a "second hand is best" mentality. Most of the pieces of furniture in our bedroom are second hand - bed frame (craigslist), my side-table (craigslist), dresser (hand me down from grandma), mirror (hand me down from mom), and book-case (built by mom, painted by us). In fact we only have two items that we actually purchased from an actual store: a beautiful full length mirror from Crate and Barrel, which we bought as an anniversary present to each other one year, and an Ikea Hemnes Dresser, which we bought when we first moved in because we needed somewhere to put our clothes ASAP.

Anyways, now that I've shared entirely too much information with you regarding our furniture, here is the dilemma. What nightstand to choose???

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Everyone Takes the Bus

Amazingly enough, I see this woman ALL THE TIME on the north avenue bus on my way to work. Her hair really is that fabulous (and why I noticed her in the first place). While doing some online browsing, I stumbled across her picture on the crate and barrel website. Crazy, huh? 

Monday, November 8, 2010

J. Wellington's

Like every god-fearing, flag worshiping American I love love love a good hamburger. And in the summer, it is easy to get my fill of hamburgers (and pretty much all other grilled meats). We grill. Friend's grill. Everyone wants to get together and grill.

But, then the cold weather comes and the grilling stops and so we stop eating hamburgers. Yes yes we could make them on the stove, but we've tried that and have never been fully satisfied with the results. And while I'm sure there are some wonderful burger places out there, we haven't found them*!

Well, that is until last night.

J. Wellington's opened up in our neighborhood maybe six months ago. I thought the sign was kind of cheesy and we've pretty much avoided the place (except one day when I had a serious craving for a root beer float. it was delicious). After our dinner plans last night fell through and Neill had a serious case of hunger induced crankiness, we decided to give J. Wellington's a try. We ordered at the counter and then grabbed a seat to wait for our burgers. About ten minutes later someone delivered the meaty goodness to our table.

I did the "build your own" and added lettuce, tomato, a fried egg (because why the fuck not), and siracha may on the side. ooo and a pretzel role, which pretty much makes everything better. All in all, the burger gets two thumbs up. Not over cooked (thank god) and I liked the variety of toppings to choose from. Plus, the fries are delicious.

Did I mention that its also BYOB? Yeah. That's pretty fantastic. (although, this isn't really the place I'd hang out all night. Its more like a Jimmy Johns than a restaurant)

So now we have a burger place to go to all year round. Thank god for that.

*I do like Kuma's corner, but I'm not always up for the wait. Bin Wine Cafe also has a good burger, but for some reason I never think of going there. 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Holiday Cards

I am really looking forward to sending out holiday cards this year! Since Neill and I already have all of our VIPs' addresses compiled in a nice organized list from sending out our wedding invitations, I thought it would be a fun and easy thing to do for holidays. Little did I realize how hard it would be to pick a card that would be appropriate for everyone we know.

It was a nightmare finding a stylish holiday card that was non-religious! And I mean really non-religious. A card that says "Seasons Greetings" or "Happy Holidays" but has some sort of ornament design or uses a red/green color scheme still screams Christmas. And even though some of them are adorable, they just aren't right for us. Plus - I wouldn't feel right sending them my Jewish family members and friends. What they really need to make is an interfaith card for all of us interfaith families!

I finally settled on this one from Zazzle. It incorporates the blue for Chanukah and the red for Christmas, but isn't particularly reminiscent of either holiday. 

Even though the picture from our wedding is decidedly un-wintery, I thought it would be a nice way to share a wedding photo with everyone. Plus, it's just purrrty.

I can't wait to get these in the mail! I'm hoping to send them out the first week of December.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Webster's Wine Bar

I'm about to head out the door for a friend's birthday celebration at Webster's Wine Bar. It's making me nostalgic for the first time I went there - almost three years ago! I can't believe just how fast time is going by these days. Anyhoo, I was inspired to post the original review I wrote back in January of 2008. Take a trip down memory lane with me! 


p.s. - Happy Birthday Cathy!