February 24, 2010

Words for Wednesday


Translation, Life is good. Leaving Friday for St. Thomas with two of my favorite people in the world, my Sister and my Mom. We'll be celebrating my Mom's 60th, oops I mean maybe 45th?? Haha. Anyway, I'm looking forward to the promise of sandy beaches, clear water and pina coladas! Ahh, yes. Life is good.

February 19, 2010

For the chi town girls (& boys)

Chicago, Chicago, that toddlin' town...

Couple of Chi-Town related things -- I'll start with the food first. Restaurant Week starts today!! This week in February usually makes me want to book every lunch and dinner possible so I can get to taste as much food as I can! (wow, that sentence just made me sound obese) But thus far I've restrained myself and have just one thing planned, dinner at David Burke's Primehouse on Tuesday. I just looked at their special menu for RW and am so excited! I've been there before and it's always so good but this will be even better since it's only $32 dollars.


So the low-down on Restaurant Week, all sorts of really good places participate and offer a pre-fixe three course meal for $22 for lunch and $32 at dinner. It's only for a week though and sometimes places book up fast! You can go to the website for a complete listing of places and menus!

Second for the Chi-Town Girls (+ homeware loving boys?)...a really sweet giveaway over at the cute lil' blog Live Creating Yourself. I just discovered her blog and can tell it's going to be a good read :) Back to the goods, It's an awesome giveaway from West Elm -- just for people with a Chicago address(!!). Head on over there and leave a comment! Speaking of, haven't gone to their new store on North Ave, but am going to have to hit that up soon!

TGIF!

Blooms






One of my favorite flowers -- ranunculus. Kind of a funny name, but just gorgeous flowers. So nice to see some blooms in February!

February 17, 2010

Words for Wednesday


I love this song, I've sung it in church on Ash Wednesday for about as long as I can remember, this is the first verse.

Song, © 1978 New Dawn Music
Picture, from the church I attend in Chicago, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel

In the Kitchen: Artichoke & Spinach Dip

This recipe is a bit of a family tradition in my house, my sister makes this all the time, I would say it's one of her signature recipes! And it was my Mom who originally started making the dip, she got the recipe from the newspaper years ago. It's not one of those fancy signature dishes like the homemade perogi we whip up around Christmas or my Grandma Rose's spaghetti and meatballs -- but it is ridiculously tasty and so simple to make! Here's the lowdown...

Ingredients:
- 1 can quartered artichoke hearts in water (Not marinated)
- 1 cup mayonnaise (The Ditta girls have a bit of a disagreement on this one; sister swears by only regular Hellmann's, where as Mama and I think using Light Hellmann's is fine, up to you!)
- 1 package frozen chopped spinach (can be elimnated if you don't like spinach, but it's so good!)
- 1 package shredded Parmesan cheese
- Paprika, to taste


Preparation:
Drain the artichokes and rinse to remove brine. Pat dry and dice up.



Add artichokes to a medium size bowl, and drain the spinach, this was interesting since it was frozen. I pretty much squeezed the heck out of that frozen cardboard container! Once spinach is drained add that to the bowl along with mayo and Parmesan cheese, mix together until everything is blended.


Next, spread everything into a baking type dish, I used my trusty 9x9 Le Cruset, pie plates also work well or any other pretty, little oven-safe dish. Oh my, I almost forgot the paprika, sprinkle this over the top of the dip when you have it in your dish.


Put it in the oven for about 20 minutes, after the 20 minutes, if it is bubbly and appears done you are good to go. One last step I like to do -- switch the oven to broil and leave the dip in for 5 or less minutes, it really browns up the top and gives the dip a nice look! (I do have to laugh a little when I look at the below pictcure, Pioneer Women talked about lighting for pictures today and she always seems to find the perfect natural lighting. Ha. Natural lighting in my kitchen. In the middle of the winter. Unless I'm home on the weekend between the hours of 8 am and 3 pm, no natural lighting in my kitchen! And thats assuming the stubborn sun will even make an appearance. My point and shoot camera plus the under counter lighting will have to do...)


And of course you can serve this with just about any kind of chips, crackers or pitas. Even some carrot and celery sticks are good! Hope you love this dip as much as I do!

February 16, 2010

The olympics!

Alright, I am sucked into the Olympics! It may not have quite the excitement of watching Phelps a few summers ago, but it's still pretty good. Home from watching my boys in green win -- And now onto the men's figure skating.



OK, have you seen Evan Lysacek? Heard about him on the local news last night, he was born in Chicago! And good Lord, you need to get a look at him, he is one fine looking skater if you know what I mean. When my Mom saw him getting ready to skate last night, and I quote, she said, "Now He's a MAN." Haha, I think we had got done watching a little bit of a more frou-frou skater compete and then Evan showed up! He skated awesome tonight in the short program, I was almost getting teared up watching him wait for his scores, he was actually starting to cry. He is in second place going into the full/long(?) program. I'm rooting for him!

What is it about the Olympics that brings on the tears?? I pretty much lost it last night when the married Chinese couple got the gold in pairs skating, what an awesome story.










And the most pathetic of my tears? This commercial. Pretty much gets me every time. I really like the Go World spots, but this was a whole new level.



I'm anticipating more tears in the next few weeks...happy Olympics watching :)


Picture of Evan by Matthew Stockman - Getty Images

February 10, 2010

Words for Wednesday


This was a favorite of mine during college, it still ranks pretty high even now. To me it's not worrying about so called cultural norms; you need to be married by this age, have kids by this age, be promoted by this time and so on. Just forget about what other people might say and go out there and do your thing!

February 8, 2010

The weekender

Another weekend has come and gone, and here we are at Monday again. I'm going to try to hold on to the weekend as long as I can :) Here's a few pictures...

Mmm, bloody mary...

Made artichoke and spinach dip, recipe to follow!

It was so nice to see the sun and blue sky on Sunday! I snapped a few pictures of my church. I have to say, I feel pretty lucky to have this church pretty much right at the end of my street. It literally takes me about three minutes to walk there, I love it! And honestly, it's inspiring to attend mass and pray in such a beautiful cathedral.

February 7, 2010

The Ads

Well, I am an Advertising girl -- so here's my take on what went on in-between the football game tonight.

This was hands down, my favorite ad from the Super Bowl. It was for Google, I loved how it told an entire story -- all through a simple Google search bar.



One ad I didn't understand all the fuss about -- the Tim Tebow commerical. Considering the words abortion or pro-life weren't even close to being mentioned in the ad I don't know what all the controversy was about. Then again, when you look at the people behind most media outlets, I guess I'm not surprised they turned it into a huge issue. Personally I had no problem with it and thought it was nicely done.

The other honorable mentions; the E-Trade commercials with the little baby talking like a grown up, those never fail to make me laugh. I think they've got a pretty good campaign going there and it doesn't feel overused or stale yet. Unlike the GoDaddy commercials, those are getting old in my opinion, found them quite dumb this year, honestly. Another campaign that's still got life in it -- the Budweiser Clydesdale, I thought this year's iteration with the bull was cute.

And I can't, not mention, an ad my agency did! I think it's pretty cool! The credit for this goes to Palm + Havas, an off-shoot of my agency.



Automobile advertising was down this year, I did like the spot for the Dodge Charger, did you guys see that one?



And now a question to my many devoted readers (haha), what ads did you like? Any favorites?

P.S. I am happy the Saints won it, I think they definitely deserved it!

February 3, 2010

Customer service & planting

Alright, let me give you the background on this story, bear with me. Last year, after looking through their catalogs for quite some time I finally placed my first order with Ballard Designs.


I was pleased with everything I got, including this cute boot tray, which is quite functional during the Chicago Winters and frankly Fall and Spring too! It's a perfect place for my worn-almost-daily Hunter wellies to reside as well as snowy Uggs.


Anyway, by the end of the season last year, my "rust resistant" tray was in fact, quite rusty. So much so that I didn't even want to set it out again this year, it looked awful. I finally took the time to call Ballard about it. They took my information down and said a product specialist would call me back. I just got the call from a specialist this morning and with hardly any questions asked she said they would be shipping me a new one!  Now, that's customer service. I am so happy and I have a newfound love for Ballard Designs!

One of the many things I have my eye on in the catalog are these outdoor planters. I have done comparison shopping and these seem to be priced very reasonably. I think they work well with the look of our building too, very classic.


These would be a replacement for the two identical planters we used to have in front of my greystone building. One cracked and all last season we were a little off symmetry. I don't think they had been planted in for quite some time either (no green thumbs in the building I guess) so last year I planted in our one pot and it looked great, but to have two matching ones again would be awesome! OK, now that I look at this picture I am kind of embarrassed by how dinky the flowers look! This was in June, but you should have seen that pot by August, it was flourishing! Honestly, the geraniums were huge and that sweet potato vine was trailing the ground.

                                                                Little bro and me, June 2009

I'll have to take some pictures again this summer when we once again have two and they are in full bloom. Sigh, summer. Let's take a moment and reflect on how awesome it will be when it's that time of year again. :) All this talk of planting is getting me so pumped up to map out what I can do this year on my back deck and out front, the backyard, everywhere!

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