HELLO! Do not adjust your screen… It’s been four months awhile but [eek] I’m back. I. Am. Back! Nothing in particular prompted the hiatus, it just kind of happened. I have big plans for future posts but, for now, I’d like to just share my breakfast with you:

[low-fat plain Greek yogurt with strawberry jam, cinnamon, honey and almonds]*

[interesting unintended effect of my iphone camera tripping out]

*: the letterpress calendar in the background is from Orange Beautiful. You can buy the same one here.

 

 

 

 

 

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Along with cooking and baking, listening to music is up there as one of my favorite things to do. A few weeks ago Vince sent me a song from this band he discovered on Pandora, “you’ve gotta listen to them,” he said. “They’re amazing.”

 He was right.

Here’s a little background on the group with my favorite song playing throughout:

Farewell Milwaukee is a band with midwestern roots and a soulful, folksy flair. When I first listened to the song, Way Out, I was reminded of a cross between The Head and the Heart and Mumford & Sons. After a little bit of googling I was thrilled to discover that Farewell Milwaukee was coming to Chi town the very next week – what luck! When Vince and I set out for their concert that night [along with his sister and bro-in-law] we had no idea what all was in store for us.

That night Farewell Milwaukee rocked it out. We were jamming and had a blast. As their set ended and another group took the stage we noticed the band members coming towards the back of the room where we were sitting. There they were bobbing their heads to the next band amongst us. It was so cool! Vince, ever the outgoing one, took a leap of faith and ventured over to attempt a quick hello to Ben Lubeck, the lead singer.

[hi ben!]

As luck would have it that quick hello turned into an hour long conversation. Both Vince and I were floored. Ben was truly the kindest, most humble guy and he made our night that much more amazing. He even agreed to answer a few questions for navy + cream. Score! Read on to learn more about this talented band and what’s on the horizon for these guys.

 

[ben {left} + vince, new best friends forever]

[1] So there you were, recording your first album in someone’s house. We’d love to hear more about this – whose house was it and do you still record from there?

We recorded our record “when it sinks in” in Nashville in the fall of 2010. We met producer Brad Bivens* in Minneapolis a few years back and he moved to Nashville 6 months before we recorded the record. Turned out he moved into a beautiful space for recording. Amazing wood floors and plenty of rooms. So he invited us to come down and record. We took him up on the offer, and we recorded the album in 7 days. Here’s a video of our recording set up:

 

*note from n+c: Brad Bivens is also the producer for kings of leon, cold war kids & norah jones.

[2] Was this your first time visiting Chicago? What was your favorite part?

I grew up in Milwaukee so I’ve been to Chicago many times. The band has played there 3 or 4 times also. Chicago’s a great town…but like many cities there isn’t a ton of time to sight see. I remember when we played the Beat Kitchen we had some time to kill before the show so we waited for 3 hours to get a table at Kuma’s Corner. The food was fantastic…but 3 hours is way too long for a group of 5 dudes to sit around and wait…someones bound to get into some trouble…and we of course did.*

*note from n+c: unfortunately for us, ben chose not to elaborate here.

[3] If you were stuck on a deserted island and could only bring three things what would you bring?

A portable DVD player, the first season of Judge Judy and a monocle.

[4] Besides music, what else are you passionate about?

My wife, our family, Levi’s, fantasy football and Chef Gordon Ramsey.

[5] If you could tour with any band, who would it be and why?

Musically I could name a ton… but I think most bands party too hard for me. I love Neil Young, Petty, I’d love to see how Wilco does things behind the scenes. Mainly, any band I could learn from… There’s so much I need to learn. I could sit an absorb old Dylan footage all day. I’ll never be able to figure that dude out… him and the Beatles… but I love to try.

[6] As lead singer for Farewell Milwaukee, what’s been your favorite memory of the band thus far?

Sitting and listening to playback of our song “Way Out” for the first time was a great. I remember sitting in our producers “control room” in Aaron’s house. It was a spare bedroom with a bed, a table and a soundboard. I think the producer was sitting on a paint bucket… or was that me? I don’t know. But hearing that song for the first time… with all the instrumentation… coming together the way it did. I was blown away, and it was the first moment I actually stopped and thought… Man, we might have a shot at this thing. It makes you want to work even harder. Equally as great was playing at First Avenue in Minneapolis in November. I’ve seen my legends play on that stage, and it was an honor to play there. Those are only a few of many great moments…and I hope to have many more.

7] What’s next in store for Farewell Milwaukee? Can we look forward to more tours or albums coming up?

The plan is to go after this thing. We’re trying to find ways to do this full time. It’s not easy, but we want it bad. We are all married, and our wives are the most important thing to us. Family is very important. So we are trying to approach it with wisdom, and care. But a full time career is no doubt the goal. We hope to be back to Chicago soon! Just a matter of time before we record another record too. Stay tuned.

 

Isn’t he the tops? Anyone who hearts Judge Judy is a friend o’mine. Thank you Ben and the rest of Farewell Milwaukee for sharing your passion and talents with us. We can’t wait to see what’s up next for you guys!

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Obsessed with this new dove gray chevron canvas I just bought.

Chevron is currently having a moment. It’s zigzagging it’s little self everywhere from clothing & accessories to stationary & furniture! Lucky for me because I love the simplicity and crispness of this classic geometric pattern.

After googling “how to paint a chevron pattern” I came across this post that gave me some tips to get started. I ended up using my own measurements and method though.

Here is what you’ll need. I picked up all of this at Michael’s:

  • 1 11×14″ canvas
  • 1 bottle of black acrylic paint
  • 1 bottle of white acrylic paint
  • 1 disposable cup to mix paint in [not pictured]
  • 1 sponge brush [mine was included in a brush kit that was approx. $5]
  • 1 pencil with a white eraser
  • tape measure [in retrospect a ruler would have been easier but i don't have one]
  • artist’s tape
  • scissors [not pictured]

1. Mark dots at 1-inch increments along the horizontal edge of your canvas. Do the same on the remaining three sides.

2. Take your ruler [i just used the tape, as you can see] and draw horizontal lines corresponding with each dot. Do the same vertically, creating a grid.

 

3. Pencil in dots where each line intersects like so. This will serve as a guide for where to place the tape for the pattern.

4. Cut a bunch of pieces of tape into 4″ strips so you have them at the ready. Then start chevroning!

Whew! Now we’re done with the hardest part. I started using the grid then ended up eyeballing it. It’s supposed to be a fun project so don’t get too stressed if it’s not perfect!

I folded my tape over the edges so it would form a nice pattern on the sides as well.

Can’t get enough of this pattern.

5. Run a credit card over each edge to be sure the edges are firmly on the canvas then paint* away. Don’t forget to paint the sides too. Let dry completely [or if you're impatient like me, speed it up by using a hairdryer on the lowest setting] and paint a second layer. Let dry overnight before stripping off the tape.

*For my dove gray color I mixed a LOT of white paint with a LITTLE black paint. As a rule of thumb when painting, a little dark goes a long way. It’s much harder to lighten up a dark color then vice versa so go liberal with the white and be more sparing with the dark.

{VOILA!}

 

… c’est magnifique. i hope this got your creative juices flowing. give it a shot!

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If you’re like me and wait until the very last minute to begin your Christmas shopping [next year i'm starting promptly after Halloween. i swear.], do not panic! All will be well, yes, all will be well because this year it’s Crosell & Co. [900 N. Michigan Ave., Level 5, Chicago] to the rescue.

Located right off the Mag Mile, Crosell & Co. specializes in eclectic, original, art-designed items. A variety of one-of-a-kind gifts, tableware, home furnishings, jewelry and decorative accessories line the shelves of this whimsical shop. Each treasure has been meticulously handpicked from artists and designers in New York, Paris and London and, of course, our very own Chitown.

One of my favorite items is the Fisherman Salt [pictured below] by Le Pere Pelletier [$26]. I love the rustic packaging and the salt itself is premium selected sea salt with a blend of herbs, peppers and sugars. It’s the perfect gift for the person who has it all.

Good luck with your last minute shopping everyone!

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Breaking news from the desk of navy + cream: I’m very excited to report that I was recently featured on the lifestyle blog, Thread.The.Needle! Blog owner Maria interviewed me with a series of interesting and thought provoking questions and posted the whole lot on her site. Maria and I have a lot in common – we both lived in Chicago & Ohio, love being an auntie, went to an all-girl’s high school [and lived to tell the tale] and so on and so forth.

It was a lot of fun getting to meet Maria, she’s an absolute sweetheart, and I’m so honored to be featured on Thread.The.Needle. Thank you Maria! xoxo!

 

 

 

 

 

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[the makings of a caprese salad]

[making peppermint bark with my cousin]

[bowlin' the night away at lebowski fest]

[my niece, madeline's, work of art]

[snapped a pic post-lunch at nighttown]

[a couple "light meat" & "dark meat" turkeys from oakmont bakery]

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Move over Topshop. Step aside Asos. There’s a new heir to ascend the British eTailer throne.

We’d like to introduce you to Very.com, your new one-stop-shop for affordable on-trend fashions for men and women. With speedy shipping + returns [both are free for orders over $98], over 400 brands and celeb partnerships à la Whitney Port [love her] you’ll find something for everyone on your shopping list this year [& maybe a little something for you too]!

To celebrate their stateside launch, Very.com has graciously offered navy + cream readers an exclusive opportunity to receive 20% off everything on the site. It’s true! Simply click on the image below [you'll be redirected], enter your email address and voilà! You’ll score 20% off brands like French Connection, Miss Sixty, DKNY and more.

Just a few things I’m currently coveting from Very.com…

{nude patent oxfords – $48}

{leopard clutch – $65}

{rust one-shoulder fringe dress – $60}

{printed blouse – $48}

Happy shopping everyone!

 

*disclosure: i received compensation for posting this advertorial, however the words & opinions expressed are my own. now what are you waiting for – start shoppin’!

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I love the animal print trend but am not quite brave enough to rock the look with clothing. The perfect baby step? Sally Hansen Salon Effects nail polish strips in leopard print!

This was my first run at applying these fancy nail polish strips. Overall it was pretty easy and definitely less time consuming than a regular at home mani. No dry time is a huge plus for me because I always manage to chip or scratch my mani’s no matter how hard I try.

The kit was $9.99 at Walgreens and comes with 16 decals. I only used five decals because I have short nails and there was enough material per decal to use on two nails. Essentially you’re paying ten bucks for three manicures, not bad right?

It comes with a handy dual nail file/buffer and a mini cuticle stick.

The directions are very straightforward – just peel off the backs, stick them on and file off loose ends. If leopards aren’t your thang they have other funky looks too – neon solids, glitter, even a lacy print. If you’re looking to try something different it’s a fun alternative to your everyday polish. I give Sally Hansen Salon Effects in Kitty, Kitty [ha] two paws up!

The box says it lasts up to 10 days. So far so good!

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…it’s what’s for linner.

It’s that in-between time when the lunch hour has passed but dinner is still far off on the horizon. Welcome to Linnertime. Rather than reaching for those salty’n sweet treats from the vending machine or pantry, have some of these vegetables on hand to fill up your belly ’til the next proper meal.

You can use any vegetables you have in the kitchen – you do have vegetables in your kitchen right? ;) . The trick is the slow roasting and the use of flavorful smoked sea salt. I bought mine at Trader Joe’s for something like $3 [addendum: although this is the umpteenth post in a row I've written about TJ's, I swear it's not the only place I shop! Here's lookin' at you Whole Foods & Jewel]. It’s a huge canister that I’ll probably never finish because a little goes a long way.

If you work in an office or don’t have access to an oven during the day, roast up some veggies the night before and bring them to work with you to snack on the next day. The flavors are just as tasty at room temperature as they are fresh from the oven. You could also serve these as a dinner side, dice them up and serve them with tortilla chips as a roasted salsa or pile them on top of toasted bread for a low-cal sandwich.

 

Smokey Slow Roasted Vegetables

  • 1/4 red onion, sliced
  • 6 mini bell peppers, sliced [or use 1 regular sized bell pepper - your favorite color]
  • 5 mushrooms [any kind], sliced
  • dash of olive oil
  • 1 tsp smoked sea salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper

for garnish [optional]:

  • 4 sprigs of fresh thyme, chopped
  • 4 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary, chopped

Preheat oven to 400F. Slice red onion, bell pepper and mushroom into roughly the same size so they all cook evenly. Toss vegetables in mixing bowl with olive oil, smoked sea salt and pepper. Spray foil-lined pan with butter spray and add vegetables. Roast in oven for about 30 minutes, mixing occasionally. Remove and top with garnish.

[toss toss toss]

[up close and personal]

[before....]

[..after! all pretty & caramelized]

[enjoy!]

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In honor of All Hallows Eve I wanted to share my delicious holiday twist on Trader Joe’s Cinnamon Crumb Coffee Cake Mix.

This coffee cake is to die for, I really can’t emphasize enough how GOOD it is. It’s silky and smooth, the perfect bite to go with your morning cuppa joe. Just thinking about it makes me want to peel open the [safely out of sight] tupperware and grab a piece… but I’m staying strong. If you, however, end up eating the whole batch in one sitting I wouldn’t blame you one bit.

I’m sure this cake mix just on it’s own would be delicious but I figured, it’s October, I have a can of pumpkin, what the heck let’s get a little wild. I’ve also read that you can sub in pumpkin puree for butter & oil in boxed cake recipes to cut down on fat but it does give the cake a distinct pumpkinny flavor so unless you’re aiming for that, I’d stick to butter & oil.

If you want to follow the box directions, go for it. You’ll still come up with a yummy cake. If you want to walk on the wild side, read on for an unbelievably moist, creamy [and festively orange colored] cake that will quickly become one of your fall staples.

Cinnamon Pumpkin Silk Coffee Cake

for cake:

  • 1 bag of cake mix from Trader Joe’s Cinnamon Crumb Coffee Cake Mix
  • 1 egg, room temperature [same as box recipe]
  • 3 1/2 tbsp butter, melted [a little less than box recipe]
  • 2/3 cup water [box says use water -or- milk, i went with water because the added pumpkin would already thicken it up]
  • 3/4 can of pure pumpkin [note: not pumpkin pie mix]
  • 1/2 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tbsp pure maple syrup

for crumb topping:

  • 1 bag of crumble mix from TJ’s Cinnamon Crumb Coffee Cake Mix
  • 3 1/2 tbsp chilled butter, cut into cubes

Grease your favorite pan [I used an 8" square pan] and preheat oven to 350F. In a large mixing bowl, add all cake ingredients together and whisk for 15 seconds, or until just combined [be careful not to overmix or the cake will be tough]. In a separate bowl, use your hands to mix the cubed butter and crumb mix together until well-incorporated yet still crumbly. Add 1/2 the cake batter into the pan, then add 1/2 the crumb mix. Pour the rest of the cake batter on top, then cover with the remaining crumb mix. Place in oven [on the center rack, if possible] and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Keep a close eye on this cake, if it’s overcooked it will loose some of it’s creaminess. Run a knife around the edges of pan while still warm to loosen bits stuck to the side. Wait for cake to cool completely, then cut and enjoy with a glass of cold milk within reach.

 

[and then there was one.]

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