love

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[#1 dad]

I often wonder… for as much as our parents love us and for all they do for us, how can we possibly thank them for giving us… everything?

I wish I knew.

Until I think of something really really good all I can say is… Dad, thank you for being my biggest fan, my rock, my constant. Thank you for filling my childhood with the best of memories. Thank you for driving me to school each morning [and passing your love of the beatles onto me... lovely rita, meter maid..], for taking me down to the kitchen to fix me a midnight snack when I couldn’t sleep [orange slices sprinkled with sugar], for telling me a bedtime story each night [he created them on the fly every single night], for being strong, imaginative, kind and unfailingly dependable.

I love you more than you know. Happy Father’s Day.

And now some pictures from our weekend on the homestead…

Happy Father’s Day dad! :)

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[peeps shmeeps]

Just wanted to pop in and say how awesome my mom is. She is one of those extremely rare people who always put others before themselves. She would fly across the world for her kids – and she has. One summer when I was studying abroad in Italy she flew out to see me for the weekend. All that traveling just to spend two days with me, I’m still in awe when I think about it. I hope I can be one-tenth of the mom she is one day.

So mom sent me some grown-up Easter treats this year from my favorite chocolate store [besides Malley's of course] that put those little pastel marshmallow chicks to shame:

And what was inside? If only you could taste it…

Chocolate covered vanilla marshmallows with a layer of creamy caramel on the bottom [as previously swooned over here] and that’s not all…

A sweet milk chocolate bonnet that tastes like heaven.

Happy Belated Easter! I hope the Easter bunny was good to you this year.

 

 

 

 

 

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I’m sort of embarrassed to admit what I did last week. Because I am a weirdo and enjoy grocery shopping more than a normal person should, I made a night out of it. You can’t blame me though, I live 10 minutes from the wondrous glory that is the Lincoln Park Whole Foods [15150 N. Kingsbury], the third-largest Whole Foods store in the world. This is not your average grocery store. It is the gargantuan mother of all grocery stores. Sure, you can pick up milk and eggs but why stop there when you can hit up…

  • Da’Vine Wine Bar [totally acceptable to sip a glass of wine as you shop]
  • 1550 Bar [complete with nightly specials such as Trivia Night]
  • Mix-and-Match Cookie and Trail Mix Stations
  • Make-your-own Bath Salt Station
  • Make-your-own Peanut/Cashew/Almond Butter Station
  • Seven in-store eateries [fresh sushi, bakery, deli, and more]
  • Rooftop yoga class
  • Nightly cooking classes

+ so much more

…all under one [massive] roof.

This beautiful behemoth is truly something to behold. I’ve taken both my brother and sister to check it out when they visited me and they were blown away too. My sister and I were lucky enough to score seats at the bustling wine bar and enjoyed wine flights and prime people watching. There were couples on dates, guys catching up over a pint, girlfriends with glasses of champagne. All in the middle of a grocery store – who’d a thunk it.

I wanted to share some photos of my shopping trip with you, and, me being the responsible blogger that I am, called ahead to get the OK from Whole Foods to take some photos. With some minor stipulations, they welcomed me with open arms. Without further ado…

[the sheer volume of everything is astounding]

[endless rows of fat, juicy heirloom tomatoes]

[lifetime supply {and then some} of carrot juice]

[fancy soap station]

[bath salt bar]

[pellegrino as far as the eye can see]

[had to do it]

A few things that came home with me…

[my favorite tea]

[freshly ground 100% almonds... it was warm as it came out of the grinder!]

[my new obsession: black truffle oil... a bit of a splurge at $12 for a small bottle but you can use it in everything and a little goes a long way. i've added it to mac + cheese and eaten it just by itself with whole-grain bread]

[icelandic style yogurt is very thick and has a TON of protein]

[farm fresh eggs you literally pluck from a little chicken coop-esque bed of hay]

[i've lived in chicago for 3 years and had never tried the famous oberweis milk - til now!]

 

 

 

 

 

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[r + r]

This weekend while the rest of Chicago was getting saucy & celebrating St. Pat’s, Vince and I roadtripped to Cleveland for my mom’s birthday. Although we missed the bulk of the St. Patty’s festivities, it was one of those weekends that hit the spot; relaxing and good for the soul. We caught up on lots of sleep + quality fam time, had brunch with some of my high school pals, and topped it off with a birthday lunch celebrating my mom.

[trust.]

[team effort]

 

[party dress fit for a twirl]

 

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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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Love is in the air and, given the barrage of red and pink that’s taken over your local drug store, it’s no secret that Valentine’s Day is around the corner. Some people take the jaded route and scoff at the day, writing it off as a cunning Hallmark scheme, but I’ve always had an unabashed love for the holiday. I love it for the obvious reasons: a sweet card [not always from Hallmark], beautiful flowers, and a romantic dinner with my main squeeze ~ but it doesn’t stop there. My parents always showered us with love on Valentine’s Day and gave us a little something to make the day special [usually a book and candy]. They taught us that it was a day to show your appreciation for the ones you love, be it your family, friends, or significant other. To me it’s a day to be happy and celebrate all the different kinds of love you have in your life.

These are some pretty things that have Valentine’s Day written all over them.

1. Steve Madden Partyy Pump in Fuchsia [$89.95] *helloo date night

2. Ark & Co Elegant Pearl Cocktail Dress [$58] *the pearl details and peak-a-boo back are exquisite

3. Lancôme Juicy Tubes Lip Gloss Set [$29.50] *the original lip gloss

4. Deborah Lippmann Nail Color in Ruby Red Slippers [$18] *va~voom!

5. Michael Kors Watch in Rose Gold [$250] *exudes a strong + feminine air

6. Halston Heritage Deep V Cocktail Dress [$325] *effortless style

7. Schwartz Marshmallow Heart ~ Vanilla with Caramel Bottom [$67.50] *my cousin who lives in New York bought these once for my mom and dad – oh.my.gosh… although the price tag seems steep these are the most delicious, mouth-watering treats + are perfect for a special occasion. my mom got me a box last year for valentine’s day and i about died when i opened the box. {yummmm}

8. Prada Satin Wristlet [$360] *prada is pretty in pink

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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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[mom + dad]

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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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[mamma mia]

When I say my mom is the best in the world, it’s no exaggeration. She is the laundry doing, dinner cooking, tissue getting, tea making, knows what you need before you realize it yourself kind of mom. She is just spectacular.

My mom knows everything. Of this, I’m convinced. I remember asking her when I was 15 or so if she could read my mind because it was absolutely uncanny the way she anticipated everything I said. It was downright spooky. When I was hiding something she knew it, and I knew that she knew; it was this kooky unspoken communication that only a mother and daughter can understand.

Growing up, if we ever felt the slightest bit sick, Mom would encourage us to stay home, tuck us in under our cool, clean sheets and say, I’ll bring up some tea. Get some rest. Moments later we’d have a cup of hot, sweet, milky tea waiting for us with honey and some cookies. I treasured these stolen moments with her. She was never the type to question if we were faking or not – and for this reason, we never took advantage. Our mom was on our side, she loved us more than a mother should, and we didn’t need to test this out. We already knew.

I’d also like to add that my dear dad is equally fantastic and the two of them have shown me what it takes to make a lifelong partnership. My parents met at the age of seventeen, married at twenty, and have been together for forty-two years and counting. They’ve lived more of their lives being married to one another than not, take that one in for a second. My family is so lucky. To see the two of them together, it’s as if they met yesterday. They still flirt, they still laugh, and they love each other completely.

My mom [along with the rest of the fam] only lives 5ish hours away. Despite the distance, she still makes me feel special, whether it’s a sweet card or a filled-to-the-brim care package with unbelievable goodies like basil plants, fresh mozzarella, sun dried tomatoes, and Halloween decorations [and that was just the latest one].

I think it is so  true that absence makes the heart grow fonder, but the truth is I miss my mom, everyday. If your mom is close, let her know how much you appreciate her.

To my dear mamma mia, this doesn’t even scratch the surface of how much I appreciate YOU. I love you more than words.

To you out there, give your mom a call, a prayer – or if you’re lucky enough – a hug,

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