A Twins Baby Shower: Storybook Theme

I recently threw a twins baby shower here in Chicago for one of my dearest friends.  She is expecting a boy and a girl, Jackson and Lillian, to make her little family of three (she, hubby, and Oliver the Westie) a family of five :).   The storybook theme inspiration came from two Etsy onesies (below), and instead of writing the details, I will let the pictures tell the story!

Once upon a time there was a Twince and a Twincess

I found this cute sign on Etsy.  It’s hard to find items that say “babies” plural!

The food items had a corresponding story book frame.
“The Princess and the Pea” = Veggie Tray w/ Snap Peas

“Humpty Dumpty” = Deviled Eggs

“Jack the the Beanstalk” = Black Bean Salsa Dip

Also “The Three Little Pigs” was Pigs in a Blanket and “Chicken Little” was Chicken Salad sandwiches.  Here are a few more pics from the fun day including Twin-tinis, the Twins Wish Tree, and the gift table.

*One final storybook touch that I didn’t get a pic of…the balloon clusters were held down with stacks of storybooks that the mommy-to-be took home.

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Wordless Wednesday: Snowmageddon 2011

Snowmageddon 2011 (Chicago, IL)

Snowmageddon 2011 (Chicago, IL)
*photo compliments of Laura Ulring!

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A “Food & Fun Finds” Filled Birthday

I truly have the best friends and the best family in the world!  No matter how many January’s role around, they always make me feel so very special on my birthday and this year was no exception.  My two best friends (14 years and counting…) put together a Food & Fun Finds themed birthday and all the gifts were to inspire my blog and my love of food and fun finds.  For that matter, everyone’s gifts fit nicely into this theme, so let’s get to the good stuff…presents!
My two best friends know me oh so well.  We had never even talked about The Pioneer Woman’s cookbook, let alone my complete obsession with her and her blog!  I was thrilled when I opened this cookbook and I pretty much haven’t put it down since.  I have cried over her stories, marveled over her photographs, and even put her Enchilada recipe to the test (it passed with flying colors!).

As a lover of entertaining, I can never have too many platters.  My two best friends found this ADORABLE cow platter at Sur La Table.  The biggest laugh was that the lady at checkout insisted she tape a gift receipt in the box, obviously unsure of their “fun find.”  Luckily, I love it and I have thrown the gift receipt away!  I can already picture Buttermilk Biscuits or Cheesy Scrambled eggs in Mr. Moo.

Oh – and not to be forgotten, my friends also signed me up for subscriptions to all of the Chicago Magazines (Home + Garden, Dining Out, etc.) so I can keep up on all the food and fun finds in Chi-town.

My super-cool-Brooklyn-ite sister founds these beautiful vintage-looking mirror coasters at one of her favorite Brooklyn stores, Catbird.  They are perfect as coasters, or for a tablescape with votives or glass candlesticks on them.  She keeps me cool :).

Our fav married couple, and partners in Chi-town crime, know my love of eating out and gave me a gift card to any of the Lettuce Entertain You restaurants!  There are SO many good ones to choose from, but I’m leaning toward Everest, Joe’s Stone Crab, L2O or Mon Ami Gabi.

This is a little Tupperware contraption that I used at my mom’s house and fell in love!  She must have noticed all my “ooh-ing” and “ahh-ing” while making Salsa Verde in her kitchen, and got me my very own Quick Chef.  You just wind the handle and it perfectly chops tomatoes, onions, whatever you need, but it isn’t as harsh as a blender or food processor on your dainty veggies.  It is seriously the best for salsas!

And last, but certainly not least, my sweet in-laws got me the sweetest present of all – a huge Edible Arrangement.  Let me just end by saying, chocolate peanut butter covered apples are one of my new favorite things!

Thank you ALL for making me feel so incredibly special on my birthday :).

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Fun Food Find: Kettle TIAS!

I discovered this new snack yesterday at Whole Foods.  Kettle Brand chips now makes a TIAS! line; they are essentially Doritos made from organic ingredients with no trans fat.  I bought the Zesty Ranch and I can’t keep my hands out of the bag!  Delicious and ranchified tortilla chips.  I’m calling them my “healthy Doritos”…wishful thinking :).

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Finally…A Photo Memory Wall

My husband and I bought our first “home” (2BR condo) in August 2009, and for an entire year and a half our living room wall has looked like this.  Sad, empty, boring and lonely.  It was either due to indecisiveness over the perfect wall art, or possibly just laziness, that this poor wall was neglected for so many months.

This past weekend I finally said enough is enough, we are decorating that wall once and for all!  After a lot of thought I decided on a photo wall, similar to those displayed in every Pottery Barn catalog…ever.  Lucky for me, Pottery Barn frames were (and still are) on sale!  I decided on a mismatched grouping of white, brown and black wooden frames.  Buying the frames and choosing the pictures was the easy part, now came the actual labor.

Pottery Barn provides some great resources on the “How To’s” of a photo wall.  Check out this article on creating a gallery display and this video on creating a memory wall.  The key is to pick a focal point; mine was the evenly spaced middle line running horizontally through the frames.  We laid the frames in the order we liked on a piece of butcher paper, traced the frames, and marked where the nail holes should go.  Then we taped the paper to the wall and made the nail holes through the marked spots.

You then place all the frames in their correct spots, tear away the butcher paper, and wa laa – photo wall!  It definitely takes some time and patience, but luckily I have an awesome husband who loves measuring and his laser level to make sure spacing was perfect.

I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to walk into our living room and see something on that wall!

It is hard to tell from this picture (someday I will have a nice camera to take great shots with!) but the photos are of our pup Maya, our wedding, Chicago and other meaningful memories.

If you need to spruce up your space there are truly some great deals on the Pottery Barn frames that I used: http://www.potterybarn.com/shop/sale/sale-accessories-decor/sale-frames-albums

Now I am going to sit in my living room, stare at my photo wall and smile :).



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Popcorn Lovers Unite!

If there is one snack I am a complete sucker for, it is a big bowl of salty popcorn.  Even better, a bowl of freshly popped homemade popcorn.  If I must microwave, my absolute favorite is Orville Redenbacher’s Tender White (mmm…it is taking everything in me not to make some right now!).  But I’ve recently been in the habit of popping my own in my Cuisinart Popcorn Maker.

The key to great homemade popcorn is finding the best kernels.  Whole Foods has a great selection in their “bulk” aisle.  However, thanks to my great friends Toby and Alicia Hartman, I was introduced to a little place in Wisconsin called The Elegant Farmer (a.k.a. the Smiley Face Barn) which sells the BEST popcorn kernels ever!

As I was contemplating the popcorn options at The Elegant Farmer in Mukwonago (WI), a man approached me and said that if I love popcorn I simply must try the White Baby Rice Popcorn.  As I continued around the store he would see me and reinforce his opinion on these kernels.  Thank goodness I listened to this man because he was speaking the truth!  These kernels make the softest, most fluffiest, melt in your mouth popcorn I’ve ever had.   In fact, my bag is getting a little low so I think I will be ordering the 3.7 lb jug next time!

My favorite way to eat White Baby Rice Popcorn is with a little drizzled butter and salt.  Sometimes I add a little truffle salt which makes it completely divine!

Oh…and The Elegant Farmer also makes a famous “Apple Pie Baked in a Paper Bag” which was featured on Food Network’s Throwdown with Bobby Flay.  Watch the episode here!

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Open Face Cheesy Bagel Sandwiches

It took me until January 8th, but finally all my Christmas decorations are down 😦 and it is back to life as usual.  A weekend staple in our house, especially on a cold and chore-filled Saturday or Sunday, is a yummy toasted Open Face Bagel Sandwich.  It is perfect for getting you through the laundry, and cleaning, and organizing, and all those other blah weekend to-dos!
Today’s post is actually a combination Food (bagel sandwich) and Fun Find (Jane’s Krazy Mixed-up Salt).  Now this is not a new find, but this IS something that everyone who has a kitchen should know about.  It is the BEST seasoning to have on hand.  I typically use it to season cheesy bread or bagel sandwiches, but it works on anything from popcorn to baked potatoes to chicken.  Sprinkle a little on the bagel sandwich below and you will be ready to take-on any housework your weekend calls for!

Open Face Cheesy Bagel Sandwiches
Everything Bagels
Deli Turkey Meat
Deli Cheese of your choice (I use Colby Jack, Cheddar or Swiss)
Yellow Mustard
Jane’s Krazy Mixed-up Salt

1.  Lightly toast bagels in a toaster for the number of sandwiches you are making.
2.  Pre-heat oven broiler.
3.  When bagels are lightly toasted, arange open face on a baking sheet.  Top each bagel half with turkey slices (try to cover up bagel hole), mustard, and then cheese.  Broil for about 4-5 minutes, or until cheese starts to bubble.
4.  Sprinkle each cheesy bagel with a generous amount of Jane’s Krazy Mixed-up Salt.


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