just checking in

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Switching gears from the healthier, straight-laced grapefruit, I have to share how much I love these sweet potato “frites” from Trader Joe’s. Not quite as innocent as their raw siblings, they’re sweet + salty and pretty darn delicious. Plus, this post title is a bit of a misnomer as I bake my guilt-free frites, rather than fry them.

Piping hot out of the oven with a dash of kosher salt, I’m {almost} convinced I have a large fry in my hands from MickyD’s. *sigh.. my arteries will thank me later.

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I really like the notion that even on the darkest of days there is an exuberant spirit within us all: we just have to remember to turn on the light.

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As I’ve mentioned, Giada DeLaurentiis is one of my favorite chefs and TV personalities. Giada was trained at the renowned Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, and while there she picked up on the Parisian philosophy surrounding food, which is essentially quality over quantity. A great Parisian meal could entail several hunks of exceptional artisan cheese, some crusty, thick slices of French bread, and a glass of wine. It’s a simple but fulfilling meal.

Last night I took a cue from this philosophy and made a clean, Parisian-inspired meal of my own. It’s all about incorporating a myriad of rich flavors without being overindulgent. Although a departure from my traditional comfort food go-to, spaghetti, it’s a dish that is satisfying in it’s own right and is just as fun to eat as it is to prepare. Bon appetit!

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What a year, huh?

The words that come to mind when I think of 2010: faith, growth, change, renewal, fulfillment, and strength. This year brought on it’s own set of scary challenges and unexpected curve balls but despite said bumps-in-the-road, it managed to be one of my happiest years in recent memory. Tears were shed, laughs were had, wine was drank, hands were held, roadtrips were taken, and stories were shared.

This year I intend to bake more cookies, learn how to cook a proper Pad Thai, play more tennis, and master the elusive art of keeping my closet organized. The latter may be a bit far-fetched but I’ll certainly give it a shot.

May 2011 be a year of triumph, joy, and sparkles.

{all images via we heart it}

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[an elegant pewter cake stand I picked up at the White Elephant with cinnamon-scented pine cones]

I absolutely love living in Chicago this time of year. Storefronts are festively garnished with red and green, garland and ribbon wrap daintily around street poles, and welcoming wreathes hang from doorways. And let’s not forget the snow – the first snowfall is always the most beautiful. The powder delicately dusts the city and makes it look as picturesque and pretty as a postcard.

This Christmas, I enjoyed the challenge of decorating my apartment in a playful yet classic style that didn’t overwhelm my small space [read: more Pottery Barn, less Clark Griswold].

[fun candycane inspired candles and miniature red glass ornaments greet guests in the entryway]

[it's just not christmas without a tree! my small spruce brightens up the kitchen in a big way]

[even the oven gets into the christmas spirit]

[pine cones arranged on a vintage platter make for a pretty centerpiece. as for the candles, i dressed them up with some ribbon and tape. ta-da!]

[ornaments and lights nestled together all snug in their beds]

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[my phone {pottery barn} perched prettily on a gray suede chair {urban outfitters} with a glimpse of an orange box {ikea}]

The other day I had a long overdue catch up chat with a dear friend. All too often life gets in the way of keeping in touch with far away friends. There are houses to clean, projects to do, bills to pay, and before you know it the years [literally] have flown by. Like anything else worth having in life, it takes work to keep long distance friendships intact. If you have a pal you haven’t reached out to in awhile, do yourself a favor and rather than logging in on Facebook [you know you do], pick up the phone. Chances are they’re probably itching to catch up with you too.

PS: how awesome is this phone? I searched high and low for this retro look in a cordless style and finally found it at Pottery Barn. UPDATE: I just found out they no longer carry it… sad. I really do love this phone and I hope they put it back on the shelves soon!

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On this Veterans Day I’m very thankful for two things: airplanes and our soldiers. Sending love to my grandpap Eddy Esposito who served in World War II and my great uncle Robert Morasco, a member of the Army 10th Mountain Division who was killed in action in Italy during World War II. Thank you to our brave soldiers who courageously fight for our freedom every single day and enable us to live in the best country in the world.

I’m also grateful for planes and, in particular, Southwest airlines. Southwest made it a breeze to fly home for a quick trip at a price that didn’t break my [fragile] bank. While waiting for my flight, Southwest offered postcards for people to write a message to our troops.

Let freedom ring.

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[ this picture makes me : ) ]

Happy Wednesday!


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I’m so not a morning person. It’s a constant battle for me to get out of my comfy, warm bed in the wee hours… I’m always craving just five more minutes. I wish I could be more like my dad. He practically tap dances out of bed and bounds down to the kitchen for his breakfast [I wouldn't be surprised if he slid down the banister on the way]. We are polar opposites on the morning person spectrum. He is the lovable, slap-happy, on cloud-9 type, whereas I’m more of the grumbling, eyes glazed over, running into the doorway, living dead type.

That being said, I think there is hope for me. There are some mornings when I’m actually excited to leave my bed, and this was one of those mornings. Around 7 AM [!!] before my workday began, I resisted the urge to crawl back into bed and, instead, headed to the Green City Market.

The Green City Market [on the south end of Lincoln Park] is one of many perks of living in the city. I love being able to hop on a bus and ten short minutes later arrive at a bustling tented village teeming with families, farmers, chefs, and delicious offerings. Everywhere you look there is something tasty: baskets overflowing with delicious, crisp apples – quarts of bright, juicy tomatoes. There are stands where you can buy fresh maple crepes and cinnamon apple tartlets. You also never know who you may run into – a number of Chicago’s famous chefs [like Stephanie Izard of Girl and the Goat] love to stock up on seasonal goods for their restaurants at this very market.

Breakfast shown below, an apple-cheese danish from Bennison’s [plus a sprig of rosemary on top] with some cranberries.

Not quite a morning person yet, but I’m getting there.

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Yippie! Today is my birthday! I know I sound like a twelve year old but birthdays have always been celebrated as a special day in my family. Every birthday growing up, we’d wake up and scurry downstairs to see the kitchen decorated with a big “Happy Birthday” banner and find the kitchen table set with the special birthday tablecloth. We’d eat cake for breakfast and bring giant frosted cookie cakes to school to share with everyone. It was the best.

For the first time ever, this year my birthday has morphed into a birthday :week: ! I celebrated with my family this past weekend while I was home [complete with not one, but two cakes], last night Vince + I went out to dinner, then this weekend my sister planned a surprise visit to Chicago. Maybe everyone feels bad for me because I’m inching towards my late-twenties [which, I know isn't old but it sure feels old]. So tonight I have a work event that I’m looking forward to, and after that am planning on meeting up with some friends in from out of town.

Last night my honey, ahem, + I …

[honey {+honeycomb} purchased at patterson fruit farm in chesterland, oh]

… went to the most amazing restaurant: Browntrout at 4111 N. Lincoln [North Center neighborhood]. The place was perfect for a quiet date night. Dimly lit, good crowd, wonderful service, and best of all – delicious food. Browntrout has a great thing going. They specialize in sustainable, locally farmed, and organic dishes. While I don’t necessarily go out of my way to find restaurants like this, it’s always a major plus when I end up at one.

We opted to have our server pair each dish with a drink, a first for both of us. I was impressed by how well each drink and dish complimented one another; it made each bite taste even better. We shared the Pommes Frites [w/three dipping sauces incl. gruyere fondue...heaven). I had the Wild Burgundy Snails, I can't remember the name of the fish I had for dinner and it's not listed on the site.. eep.. but I think it was bass, yum, and for dessert I had the Butterscotch Creme Brulee. Vince had the Illinois Corn Risotto, Idaho Golden Trout, and Fallen Chocolate Souffle. They pretty much had to roll us out of there.

[ready to dig into the trout]

[bass {i think} w. saffron sauce]

We really enjoyed ourselves. Browntrout, we’ll surely see you again soon.

Thank you loved ones for a star-studded 26th,

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