the boy

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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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[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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… i thee swoon.

As previously mentioned [here, here, + here], my mom is the best. She is also a reader of this here blog and came across my post from april 12 ['tuesday trinkets']. What does this amazing woman do? She surprises me with the main object of my affection, the Eliza ring.

{nail polish: essie playa del platinum}

Don’t you just love it? It’s even cuter in person. We got our initials D [my mom] on the left & E [me] on the right with S in the middle [for our last name]. It’s a very cool feeling to have a future family heirloom that will be passed down through generations.

I also want to add the roses in the photo above [& below] are from the boy. We just celebrated our 4th anniversary! He’s the bee’s knees.

Here we are on a vacation we took to the Dominican Republic:

He’s quite strapping isn’t he? Handsome on the inside and out. I’m a lucky lady.

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[9.14]

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Summer 2011 has been jam packed over here at navy + cream and it’s going by in one big hot blur. I’ve tried to squeeze in as many outdoor concerts, iced coffees, meals on patios and walks along the humid city streets as I possibly can … in a few words, summer suits me. Now if only I could get it to pump the breaks just a tad…

[my new go-to: iced non-fat coffee with one shot of coconut syrup.]

This weekend a handful of my favorite musicians [ray lamontagne, kid cudi, david gray, gomez] came to town to play the Chicago leg of the Dave Matthews Band Caravan. With the picture perfect blue sky as a backdrop it was just the right setting to take in some amazing live music with a cold beer in hand.

[me & vinnie caravaning]

[vince + his brother john, as also seen here]

[drive-by fanny pack at the drive-by truckers]

[flip-flops + frozen drinks]

{happy summer!}

What are some of your favorite ways to take summer by the reins?

 

 

 

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My mom got me these adorable mini bundt cupcake pans from Target [these ones are similar but mine are pastel] and they came with a tasty looking recipe right on the package. A quick scan revealed that I had nearly* all of the ingredients on hand, always an exciting moment. Vince was getting over a nasty bout with the flu so I decided to bake them as a hooray-you’re-able-to-keep-food-down treat.

* I thought I had all the ingredients except the recipe calls for two sticks of butter and I only had one. Not to be deterred I halved the recipe which led me to my first experience attempting to halve an egg… not sure I was entirely successful. I also underestimated the amount of batter poured into each cup, hence the half-eaten appearances of the freshly-baked cakes above.

Despite my shortcomings [wink] these little two-bite cakes were really fun to make and they’re just so darn cute.

Itsy Bitsy Strawberry Shortcakes

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • strawberry jam
  • dash of pure vanilla extract

Heat oven to 325 F. Grease and flour pan. In large mixing bowl, mix butter, powdered sugar, vanilla and egg until light and fluffy. Sift together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt. Add to butter mixture; mix well. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the batter into each prepared cup. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 10 minutes. Remove from pan, cool completely on rack. Place about 1/2 teaspoon of the strawberry jam in center of each cake. Lightly dust with powdered sugar, if desired. Yields 12 cakes.

 

 

 

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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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I give people a lot of credit when they take a gamble, stick themselves in what could be an uncomfortable situation, and thrive. After all, that’s how great things happen. You take a risk and as my dad says, “you make your own luck”. Still, it’s no easy task [or so I think] to get up in front of a crowd of people and perform, but maybe that’s why they’re up and I’m down here.

This weekend I saw Vince’s brother John and their family friend Brian perform in their brand new band, “Two Micks and a Mike” [yep, try not to crack a smile]. Every year the Irish-American Alliance [a Chicago-based organization started by Vince and John's dad] holds a St. Patrick’s Day party at the South Side standby Cork & Kerry. It was at this very party that “Two Micks and a Mike” made their big time debut.

[photo credit: chicago bar project]

I so appreciate when someone is passionate about something -be it food, ping-pong, fashion, scrabble, whatever it is- and given that both John and Brian grew up in Irish homes, music is in their blood. They know the stories behind each song they sing and they’re eager to share them [especially after a few pints of smithwick's].

The music, the night [which lasted until the wee hours of the morning... those micks sure know how to party], and the entire scene made me even more excited for St. Patrick’s Day.  You can bet I’ve got my green [yes, green] hot cocoa and Baileys ready. Only nine more days to go!

PS: You can get into the St. Paddy’s spirit and check out Two Micks and a Mike for yourself. Their next gig is on St. Patrick’s Day at Marlin’s, roughly 15 minutes south of the city [7236 39th Street, Lyons, IL 60534]. Marlin’s is a great local watering hole with all sorts of beer on tap. A word to the wise – stay away [far, far away] from the Pinot Grigio. Indeed, it sounded good to me at the time and I instantly became that girl. Stick to the basics here, trust me.

 

 

 

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One of my favorite things to do is go out to a relaxed dinner, unrushed, unhurried, savoring every bite and enjoying each plate the talented chef concocts. Last night I had the pleasure of trying out one of Chicago’s newest up-and-coming restaurants, the distinctive Argentinian~Italian fusion restaurant, Caminito. Located in Lincoln Park, across from Steppenwolf, this gem is mere months old, but somehow [he never reveals his ways] my thoughtful boyfriend found out about it and, knowing how much I love eclectic, unique cuisine, made plans for us to try it out.

[winnie + kev, quintessential sweethearts]

We both love gnocchi [pasta + potatoes, basically sums up the two of us] and he’d heard Caminito had the best gnocchi in the city ~ which, news to me, is a common dish in Argentina. After dousing some of our freshly baked bread in housemade chimichurri [our server clued us in that it's a blend of oregano, red pepper, fresh parsley, garlic, olive oil, and vinegar] we both ordered the Gnocchi al Fruto del Mar [homemade potato dumplings sauteed with fresh seafood on a semi-spicy tomato sauce]. As we sipped our champagne and sopped up the addicting chimichurri with the hot crusty bread, diners slowly started trickling in, and before we knew it the place was packed. Oh, and how could I leave this part out, it’s a BYOB! Genius right?

[some bubbly for date night]

Our gnocchi came, a prettily arranged plate piled with calamari, crab, mussels, and the famed dumplings. In went the first forkful. Heaven, I tell you. Each bite of the gnocchi was pillowy soft and creamy, matched by the hearty chunks of fresh seafood. We both chewed in silent admiration, this gnocchi was legit. In the midst of all this a person approached our table, professional-looking camera in tow. “Mind if I take your picture?” He was a photographer from Metromix/RedEye and they were featuring Caminito in their Friday edition. We were going to be famous! Okay, not really, but it was pretty cool and a first for both of us. Snap, snap, snap. “Can you cheers with your champagne glass?” Sure! Snap, snap, snap. A very memorable end to an already wonderful evening.

ps: apologies for the shoddy photos, the dim light works like a charm for romantic ambiance, not as well for snapping non-flash iPhone pics.

[let the stomach growling commence]

[every bit as good as it looks]

[+ dessert: almendrado con dulce de leche]


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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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