August 26, 2010

Words for Wednesday

Oops, I missed words for Wednesday yesterday, thought I'd make a recovery and post today. I was listening to my iTunes at work and this Frank song came on. For some reason the thought of "fairy tales" brought me back to the Virgin Islands. I used a picture from my vacation there in March.

August 24, 2010

Blooms: white lilies

I've got a new favorite cut flower -- Lilies! I suppose I never used to think they were anything too special. That was before I had the scented variety. Oh my! These made my entire house smell delicious. Just ask the florist which colors they have that are fragrant. These will not disappoint. The white ones I got were also huge, so they made for a nice statement piece on my coffee table.

August 20, 2010

Around the city, St. John Cantius Cathedral

I've discovered I have an odd fascination with cathedrals. I thought this was limited to the Vatican and other awe inspiring churches in Italy, but apparently it carries right over to Chicago.

I had a doctor's appointment in a part of the city I have never been to and it happened to be right next to this gem. It was huge! And I thought it was beautiful. I took a few pictures to share...

The below is a corner block listing the year construction started, 1893. Below the numerals it reads in Latin; "Awesome is this place. It is the house of God and Gate of Heaven."

I find the history of old churches so interesting. It's hard to believe building of this church, St. John Cantius began in 1893 and that it is still a flourishing parish today! It was originally created as a second church to house the Polish Immigrants who were over flowing out of St. Stanislaus Kostka. The structure is a combination of Renaissance and Baroque styles.

Love the symmetry and "perfectness" of the wood doors.

I also really liked the bell tower. On Palm Sunday of 1897, the three large bells were blessed by the Fr. Vincent Barzynski and put in place in the south tower but were to remain silent for over one year until the church was closer to completion. Weighing respectively 5,186 lbs., 2,891 lbs. and 1800 lbs., the bells cost just over $2000 to install.



St. John Cantius
825 North Carpenter Street
Chicago, IL 60642

August 18, 2010

The back deck tour

One of the things that sold me on my place the most was the large back deck. Space is at a premium in Chicago so I loved having such a large deck and even a backyard (unheard of!) I'm not quite a high-rise living kind of girl, so having a deck and easy access to outside makes me feel like I'm living in less of a concrete jungle.

I haven't gone wild with buying outdoor furniture, even though I really wanted to! But I've got a few chairs, an ottoman and lots of plants. Throw in a cold beer or glass of wine and that sounds pretty good to me!

Now that plants have been in full bloom for quite some time and summer is in full force (I will not say nearing the end, because that is just too much to deal with), I thought I'd show some pictures of my deck!

I purchased the chairs and table from Target last summer. My sister sewed me the pillows and I found the chair cushions at Marshall's! And above is my Christmas Cactus from inside. I always like to bring a few of my houseplants out for the summer to "vacation." The Christmas cactus loves it out here, within a week or two of being out it starts growing new leaves! And you remember Andy, right? Protector of the house and deck. He's got a nice little perch going on the table.

The begonia corner! I have a very shady deck and I've learned the hard way nice, flowering plants that like sun just aren't going to do well here. Enter begonias. My Mom got a Dragon wing begonia for me this year and it is my absolute favorite. It has done so well and brings a little tropical feel to the deck, and all without much sun.

I came up with what I thought was a creative plant stand. It's always nice to add some height to plant arrangements so everything isn't sitting on the ground. Enter the mini-Oberon keg. They come in collectible designs every summer (it's a summer only brew) and I wasn't sure of a use for it -- until I discovered a small 5in or so pot fits perfect on top!

One more begonia. Another favorite, Tuberous Begonia's. Mine hasn't done as well as I hoped this year, but generally they have very full blooms that look rose like. They thrive in the shade, but are very fragile and crack or break easily.

An indoor Christmas decoration from Target has a perfect little spot on the deck!

OK, time to kick back! Thanks for stopping by.

I'm linking up to a few parties today! Outdoor Wednesdays @ A Southern Dreamer, Spotlight Yourself @ It's So Very Cheri, Bloomin' Tuesday at Jean's blog and Creative Share Wednesdays @ The Trendy Treehouse. Check out all the other great posts on these blogs!

August 13, 2010

Steal of the Week: Chi town tax break

This week Chicago has instituted a much, much needed tax break within the city for Back to School shopping. The good news is -- we can all participate in a little back to school retail shopping! All the rules can be found here, but the short of it is, instead of paying near 10% tax on everything, from now until August 15th, tax on clothing purchases under $100 will only be taxed 4.75%! And if you're shopping in some of the 'burbs which already have lower rates, it could be as low as 1.25%

I don't know about you, but I'm feeling the urge to cash in on this deal! Good time to hit up Michigan Avenue. A couple of my favorite finds along Michigan Ave for under $100:

I really like this whole ensem from Banana. To keep each purchase under $100, buy the skirt on Michigan Ave and the top in Water Tower :)
Tweed skirt & Ruffle blouse both online too.

So what if J.Crew comes out with a different version of this every season?! It's still pretty want-able in the mustard color and almost tax-free.

And lastly, I think I'm ready to try these Jeggings everyone is talking about. If I can semi-pull off regular leggings with long tops, I should be able to do these too!

August 11, 2010

Words for Wednesday

Image via

Oh Thoreau, you are so wise. I have always liked this quote. I believe my high school English teacher has this posted on her wall. Later in the year we had to choose two quotes and memorize them, this was one that I picked.

August 10, 2010

In the Kitchen: Flank steak stir-fry

A few months back one of my favorite blogs to read, Keeping up with the Joneses, posted an awesome Stir-Fry sheet from her Food Network magazine. I searched high and low to find a print out on, but no dice. No fear, I printed out Kendall's picture of her sheet and went about making my first stir fry.

Here's my picture of Kendall's picture, ha. Go here to enlarge Kendall's picture and use as your own stir-fry guide.

I love how this sheet lets you make so many different combinations. I chose to do Flank Steak with a variety of veggies in a spicy sauce. Only problem was, my little picture print-out was missing some of the spicy sauce ingredients! I ended up having to improvise a little, but it still turned out wonderful.

I was also pretty pumped because I have never ever cooked with any steak before! I see a lot of really good sounding recipes with skirt or flank steak, so I was excited to give this a shot. I had the nicest man at the meat counter help me and show me how to cut the meat!!


- Protein of your choice (in this rendition I used Flank Steak)
- Three cups of your choice of various different veggies, I used Bell peppers, bok choy and meant to use onion, but forgot to ever put it in!
- Scallions and a jalapeno (for garnish)
- Vegetable oil
- 4 cloves minced garlic (less if you make a sauce from the list that is not the spicy)

For the marinade:
- 1 egg white
- 1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch

For the spicy sauce:
- 3/4 cup chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon chinese rice wine or dry sherry
- 1/2 teasponn sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons Asian chili pasta

First whisk together the three ingredients for the marinade add your chosen protein and cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

While your meat is getting nice and flavorful prep all your veggies. I thought the bok choy was pretty!

Next, mix together all ingredients listed for the sauce. Set the prepped veggies and sauce near the stove.

Ideally you should use a wok, I didn't have one and used a skillet with high sides instead. After an hour, drain excess marinade from your meat. Add vegetable or peanut oil to your pan on medium high heat, and add the protein, cooking for only a few minutes or until opaque (this confused me since steak doesn't really turn opaque!). I just cooked until it was not red anymore. Remove meat from pan and set aside. Wipe pan and add more oil and 4 cloves minced garlic, minced ginger (I omitted this), minced scallions and a pinch of salt and sugar. Stir fry for for about 30 seconds, then add the vegetables, starting with the ones that take the longest to cook. Stir-fry until crisp tender.

Now, add in the flank steak (or other protein) and sauce, stir together until all is cooked through (about 3 minutes).

Serve over rice and garnish. I garnished with scallions and jalapenos, but you could use sesame seeds or cilantro too! I thought this turned out really well and am excited to use a different kind of meat and another sauce next time!

I'm linking up with "Tasty Tuesdays" at A Beautiful Mess!

August 4, 2010

Words for Wednesday

Image Via here and taken in my hometown, Grand Rapids to boot!

I + Hunter Boots

I've got a thing for Hunter Boots. I honestly think they are the best made rain boot around. And I should know, I once bought a cute little pair made by Sperry (of deck shoe fame) and on one wet walk into work, they split and my feet and socks were soaked. Luckily Nordstrom's return policy saved me. But after that I bought my first pair of Hunters and haven't looked back since.

It was raining like crazy this morning in Chicago. I woke up to the sound of pouring rain at 5:30 this morning and it didn't let up until around 10. In light of that, I thought I'd share a few Hunters I'm lusting after right now...

If you're just getting into Hunters, may I suggest the Classic tall boot? :) I have these in black and they haven't let me down yet. For city living, it's not just for rainy days, these get me through the winter. Instead of thick snow we tend to get all the wet slush and messy, messy sidewalks. Uggs or something like that just won't cut it. Wellies are perfect in my opinion!

I think a short pair would be cute and they come in all sorts of colors. I'm liking the green.

Sometimes the finish on the classic gets a waxy look to it. This is normal and they sell a spray to help with that, but I like the newer Gloss boots they sell, very nice and shiny! I really want the graphite color. But the bright orange or green are really fun too. And, the green are on sale. That never happens!

And now, for the grand finale. The Regent collection. I love the higher angled side. Looks like a real riding boot to me. I wish they offered the plain regent in more colors, but I've only seen black and brown for now.

And the quilted. Be still my heart. If I have one splurge coming up this fall -- these may be it.

OK, I've gone on long enough with my boot ramblings. I'll settle down now -- and maybe head to just take a peek at the rain boot section in Nordstrom.... :)


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