September 28, 2009

Em in the A.M. - Supper Club: Brunch Style!

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Sunday I hosted three of my favorite couples for a brunch installment of our fun dinner club. I had a blast - and like any five course meal preparation with beverage pairings, I learned a lot!!

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Any hour spent with friends is happy hour.

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Ice cubes made from juice are a super-easy and super-impressive touch.

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Shredding onions in a food processor is quite likely my eyes' worst nightmare, but these potato pancakes were worth it!  

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Why do they call watermelons seedless when they have seeds, and why are seedless cucumbers so long and skinny?  Don't know, but watermelon gazpacho is good!  

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Tried and true recipes amidst new ones add strength to your bench.  Highly recommend throwing in an old fav.  These lemon ricotta soufflĂ© guys are an old stand-by recipe I found in Glamour magazine years ago!!  

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Anything that starts with bacon and sausage and onion in a skillet has to be good.  Thanks, Paula Deen!

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Even if it doesn't look as good as a cookbook cover, doesn't mean it doesn't taste like it.  

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Great wine doesn't have to be expensive.  

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Always check to make sure your waffle iron works in advance, or you'll have to make ugly chocolate pancakes instead.  Oh, and be careful when you add Brandy to a bubbling hot mix of butter and sugar - WOOOOSH!!!

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When I die and go to heaven, all I'll ever need is citrus-infused white hot chocolate and God.  (And Grand Marnier makes everything better.)  

2009-09-27 at 04-30-01
Gale Gand's cookbook will change your life.  It already changed mine.  And I think it gave my friend a food coma.  

September 21, 2009

Preparing for the Big Meal

It's once again time for me to host a meal for the "underground supper club." We're a group of 7 (you can guess who the odd number is) that prepares a semi-gourmet meal (with wine pairings) for the others about once a month. It's crazy fun, and crazy time-consuming, but I love it!!

This month I'll be taking a spin on the traditional dinner club by doing Sunday brunch. But long before the cooking starts, there's a recipe for success.

Step 1: Research recipes

Step 2: Decide on a menu

Step 3. Repeat steps 1 and 2, being indecisive for months

Dinner Club Secret Weapon
Step 4: Buy a new cookbook and Repeat steps 1 and 2 at the last minute

Groceries Under $30!!!!!
Step 5: Only buy the necessary weekly groceries to keep the fridge as empty as possible

Dinner Club Prep!
Step 6: Clean out the fridge, to again make as much room as possible (Please don't judge the large bag of food being thrown away - I've been busy. It was gross, but we all forget about the open cheese in the bottom of the drawer from time to time, don't we?? Please say you do!)

Step 7: Figure out what plates and bowls and glassware will be used for what

Step 8: Shop!!

Step 9: Cook, clean and prepare like a crazy person!!

Stay tuned for the result...

Weekend in the Country!

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Relaxing on the water...

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... and just being a city kid in the country, sticking out a bit but enjoying it anyways, like this domestic duck banded together with his wild brethren...

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... and time with the best friend!!!  

September 17, 2009

Fall, I’m Ready for You!

Halloween Quilted Table Topper In Progress!

I fell for fall several years ago. I think it was the incredible beauty of autumn in Bloomington, Ind., home of Indiana University, where I spent the best four years of my life thus far. Chicago may not have as many rolling hills and changing leaves, but it’s still a pretty awesome time. Football season provides low-maintenance, low-cost social activity and the perfect background noise for household chores and projects, while the crisp, clean feeling in the air just makes everything better, don’t you think?

Ok, ok, I digress. I’m really ready for fall because I’ve been able to make progress on my Halloween quilt! The goal is to have it finished in early October so it has a full month to shine!! My one hold up seems to be I can’t decide how to quilt it. Any suggestions? My last attempt at circles was bad, but do you think I could do pumpkin shapes? Diagonal lines? Stitch in the ditch??  I'm open to suggestions, but keep 'em simple, please. 

Have a wonderful weekend – I’ll be disconnected from the wonderful www for the next few days while I enjoy the rustic splendor of northwest Ohio with the best friend and her fam (and maybe some of mine).  See ya on the flip side of this Megabus trip, courtesy of their fabulous free wireless!  (No, they didn't pay me to say that.)  

September 15, 2009

Bedroom Walls V2.0

Need I remind you of the blah V1.0? I set off on a mission to use one of my favorite fabrics, Amy Butler’s Nigella, some leftover Amy Butler scrapbook papers, and some Hobby Lobby finds to make my master bedroom feel less like an after thought and more like a suite.

First, I covered leftover art canvases with the fabric – all you need is an iron to make sure the fabric is fresh and pressed and a staple gun! (I covered this easy, breezy how-to while working on the guest room.) I then arranged these guys on the big blank wall with my Hobby Lobby finds and a few repurposed frames.

Next up, I took these simple, inexpensive IKEA frames and revved them up a notch. The room needs COLOR, this I know for sure! With inspiration in mind from the September issue of Martha Stewart Living, I got my razored straight edge and cutting mat out and got to work!


Using the Old for the New

Cut-out Fun

So what do you think? Better?

Ta Da!

A Little Better!

I’m still not in LOVE with this room, so stay tuned for V3.0. It’s already taking shape in that brain of mine currently dominated by thoughts of a tech client’s project management, but, I’ll hopefully be able to get my thoughts straight and share it with you soon!

Stay tuned for a slightly different color palatte, a quilting endeavor and more!!

September 13, 2009

No Excuses!

Ok, ok, I've been bad about blogging again.  Blame it on work being busy.  Or that last weekend I had a low-grade fever and I overall haven't been feeling the greatest lately.  Or, that my mom was visiting all last week.  Or the fact that we've enjoyed some FABULOUS September weather here in the Windy City..... no more excuses and more blogging, I promise!   

Today I enjoyed some of that beautiful weather while exploring the Renegade Craft Fair on Division Street near my place.  Overall I was totally in awe at the level of creativity found and how LARGE the festival was, but I was a little disappointed in the lack of sewing/quilting/needle art.  There were a few sewers in the sea of screen printers and jewelry artists and painters, but not as many as I had hoped.  I had envisioned coming away with a lot of ideas and inspiration, instead I walked away thinking - "Geee... I need a nap.  And maybe next year I should be a vendor.  I really could DO that.  Few of the vendors there with pillows and purses, etc. were very high quality - my sewing it better than that!   One exception were these little guys.  The artist has a great freehand quilting style - something I'd love to learn to do.   He's for my morning lattes, but my C&B glassware is a pretty good substitute model, don't you think?

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September 9, 2009

Santa, Are You Reading This?

Pricing for Amy Butler's new rug collection are out and they're available on her web site. I'd live with my teeny tiny TV another year and buy discount store clothes if it meant walking on these every day....

one for the living room...

And well, let's face it - I could pick one for every room! But, I won't be greedy. Santa, I'm being a good girl this year....

September 1, 2009

Fall Fun - Already?!?

Last weekend went by far too fast!  Between an unexpected houseguest (who had a bat in her own house!), not one but TWO random afternoons with friends, and a cook-out that turned into 9 hours of food, fun, bags and Wii games, I didn't get anything done.  Not one thing.  There goes summer!!  

My goal is to have my bedroom wall completed before college football commences Saturday morning, the true start of fall, yes?  I've arranged everything on the wall, mostly with 3M stickies, just in case I change my mind.  (Those things rank of there as some of the greatest inventions of all time!)  

The canvases will be covered in fabric shortly, and the frames would all have photos in them by now if Oprah hadn't decided she was cool enough to completely shut down traffic on Michigan Avenue during rush hour tonight (and I hadn't sent my prints to the wrong Walgreen's to begin with)!!  

I've also got my papers picked out to rev up the IKEA frames a bit - stay tuned!  

Wall In Progress

In other fall preparations, I got a cute set of pre-cut blocks from Fat Quarter Shop of the Spooktacular by Sanae for Moda fabrics for Halloween.  I'm going to make a runner/tablecloth for my dining room table.  It's probably my next project (once the bedroom is complete) because I'm really excited about it and October will be here before we know it!  I'm open to pattern ideas, although I'm considering another disappearing 9-patch!!  Someone remind me to order more fabric for the binding and back!!  

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