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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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[the artists' work: a st. laurence high school logo, a nightmare before christmas jack-o-lantern, a chicago bears logo [hehe] and an owl on a branch]

The best kinds of weekends are the ones where you don’t have plans but things sort of unfold as you go. This weekend we did just that, fall style. We carved pumpkins, watched football [or if you were me, napped], drank spiced cider [simmer apple cider with cinnamon sticks, whipped cream vodka & captain morgan - delish] & watched a scary movie. The weather was crisp and picture perfect. I’m craving more fall weekends just like this one.

While we’re on the subject of fall, the other week I baked up these miniature chocolate pumpkin spice cakes with a cider maple glaze for our flag football team. They were super easy to make and a tasty way to celebrate our first win!

[even though they look semi fancy they're simply doctored up cake mix plus doctored up vanilla frosting]

[more cute cakes with my crock pot simmering away in the background]

Mini Pumpkin Spice Cakes with Cider Maple Glaze

for cakes:

  • 1 package of Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Bread and Muffin Mix
  • eggs, oil & water per box directions
  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • dash of pure vanilla extract

for glaze:

  • 1/2 cup of your favorite vanilla frosting
  • 1 dash of apple cider
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 dash cinnamon

{optional but yet also sort of a necessity this time of year: bag of candy corn}

Preheat your oven to 350F. Combine pumpkin bread mix with eggs, oil, water, vanilla and chocolate chips. Pour into your favorite [greased] cupcake tin [I used a mini bundt cake pan]. Bake per package directions. While cakes are baking, whisk frosting, cider, maple syrup, and cinnamon together. Let cakes cool completely, then drizzle glaze over top with a fork. Decorate with candy corns and serve.

 

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[our precious brigham, 2 months old]

This post is dedicated to Brigham, our little cheese loving, car chasing, pool swimming, tail wagging girl. She brought so much happiness and joy to our lives. If you were having a so-so day, all it took was one of Brigham’s “hugs” to make you feel instantly better. Her version of a hug: she’d wiggle her brown butt in between your legs and just stand there, with you sort of straddling her while she stood there, tail wagging back and forth maniacally. It’s something she’d been doing since she was a puppy, we have no idea how she started doing this but it always made us laugh. That was a common theme with our Briggie.

There will never be another Brigham, she was the best dog there ever was. I know she has a very special spot in Heaven, surrounded by wheels of cheese and big pieces of cake. We love you Briggie!

 The Last Battle

If it should be that I grow frail and weak
And pain should keep me from my sleep,
Then will you do what must be done,
For this — the last battle — can’t be won.
You will be sad I understand,
But don’t let grief then stay your hand,
For on this day, more than the rest,
Your love and friendship must stand the test.
We have had so many happy years,
You wouldn’t want me to suffer so.
When the time comes, please, let me go.
Take me to where to my needs they’ll tend,
Only, stay with me till the end
And hold me firm and speak to me
Until my eyes no longer see.
I know in time you will agree
It is a kindness you do to me.
Although my tail its last has waved,
From pain and suffering I have been saved.
Don’t grieve that it must be you
Who has to decide this thing to do;
We’ve been so close — we two — these years,
Don’t let your heart hold any tears.

– Unknown*

*from an email from my aunt teri

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I just love a crisp, early morning at the Green City Market. Farmers from all over the Midwest gather in Chicago to sell their vittles to city dwellers eager for a taste of the country. The smell of coffee and something like cinnamon waft through the air as a cool breeze whips against your cheeks, reddening them. You go from booth to booth picking up the bulbous onions, impossibly red tomatoes, aromatic herbs, feeling their weight, soaking in their raw beauty – all while speaking with each colorful vender and listening to their stories.

I got some really good stuff. Time for a little show and tell.

[a rosemary plant freshens up my windowsill]

[some shrooms still on the stalk]

i completely forgot what these were by the time i got home. thai eggplants! thank you google.

another one of these fellas. going to slice a handful, sprinkle them with sea salt & cracked black pepper and oven roast them for dinner tonight. interested to see if they taste like the eggplant i’m used to.

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{pictures from a saturday stroll on halsted street in lincoln park}

 

 

 

 

 

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[photo from a trip home that i might have staged.]

[and my valentine's roses make an encore from monday]

[hot, creamy coffee to start the morning]

[dried bouquet from the 'rents... they sent them 'just because'. love them. :]

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[special delivery from my valentine]

{I was half in love with her by the time we sat down. That’s the thing about girls. Every time they do something pretty, even if they’re not much to look at, or even if they’re sort of stupid, you fall half in love with them, and then you never know where the hell you are.}

J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

{Love one another and you will be happy. It’s as simple and as difficult as that.}

Michael Leunig

Wishing you a very Happy Valentine’s Day!

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[my mom just sent me this plate in a care package {thanks mom!}. it came with black ribbon but she gave me extra red so i could switch it out for v-day]

[ravioli ..holy cannoli.. my mom made this for my dad last night as an early valentine's day dinner. dad snapped me this pic before he dove in.]

[a pic I sneaked of my sis hard at work during our girls pizzelle night]

[flowers vince sent my mama]


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We’ve been so very lucky with the weather this fall. It’s been wonderful to stroll outside and soak it in, all while fending off the impending doom of winter for another day. We’ve had an October full of gorgeous, bright, sunny days with just the right amount of chill in the air. For the first time in as long as I can remember, I won’t have to bundle up for Halloween festivities. Temperature for Saturday looks like highs in the low 60s and partly sunny, perfect for a night out on the town.

I love the bright bursts of color dotted throughout the trees in my hometown. The country air is sweet and the storybook views are breathtaking.

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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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