Friday, July 15, 2011

Joshua & Robin Berry's Children's Trust

Sorry I've been down and out this week. As you guys know it's moving week, on top of a really hectic and crazy work week. In other words my world has been turned upside down a little bit.

I've been stressing, freaking and otherwise terrorizing my fiance this week, so I thought today would be a good day to stop and put everything in perspective. To realize just how good I have it, and to chill and count my many, many (ultimately uncountable) blessings.

Bailey, author of one of my daily reads Peppermint Bliss, blogged about Joshua and Berry's Children's Trust and after reading I just can't help but follow in her footsteps.

Over the 4th of July holiday weekend, parents Joshua and Robin were driving through Texas with their children Peter (9), Aaron (8) and Willa (6) when another vehicle collided with theirs head on. Joshua and Robin were killed instantly, leaving their three little ones behind. Since then, Peter & Aaron have both undergone treatments for serious spinal injuries they have sustained. Willa was treated for broken bones.

The children's Aunt & Uncle have been named their legal guardians, and a trust fund has been set up for the kids. Anything you can give will help. Just click "Donate Now" on their Facebook page.

I hope you guys will join me in praying for these kids and for their aunt and uncle, who are the strongest people to step up to this massive calling.

Again, here is the link - please pass this on, and be sure to hug all the peeps you care about this weekend. Stay safe everyone <3

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

An ode to my old 'hood

Since today is obviously MOVING DAY (phase one), I thought my previous neighborhood deserved a little love. I love where I've spent the last year, and I love it in a completely different way from the love that I have for the new digs.

I guess when it comes to Chicago neighborhoods, I am not exactly monogamous...

So this isn't goodbye... it's just see you later, and maybe less frequently, because I can no longer throw a rock at you.

For anyone residing in the west lakeview area, here are my gems I keep nestled next to my heart!

For sushi (my favorite meal of course): Ukai 

Food is amazing, price is right, and its BYOB. I accept.

For Mexican: Mi Tierra 

Touting the town's tastiest (and most reasonably priced) margaritas, this joint is my dude's favorite spot in all of Chicago. Classy. Also they might have the fastest chip-and-salsa-replacement service on record. It kind of reminds us of Disneyworld in there. Take from that what you will.

For hanging out: Sheffield's

Aside from having the most wicked John Daly a human could ask for, this place never disappoints. And let's not get started on the beer garden for summertime, and roaring fireplace for 9 months of winter. 

For breakfast: Ann Sather 

I love it. I know I am the only one who loves it. But their cinnamon rolls are so good, I hardly even mind that the waiters always miss my coffee cup when they try to pour. Close runners-up: Clarke's on Belmont & Great American Bagel. 

For acquiring booze: Bel-Port Liquors 

You might be wondering why this place won, but probably not. They have a birdfriend greeter named Sasha who is free to roam over guests' shoulders. Can that be beat? Get real.

(Close runner-up for classier evenings: Galleria on Southport. My pony-tailed friend there never judges my obscure requests, and instead offers me tiny-sized samplings of wines I he recommends.)

Southport offers an endless amount of fine establishments I have long intended to try, but since I was often too busy keeping Ukai in business I didn't get to test drive all of the spots I'd like. Though I'm retiring my status as a west lakeview resident, I will most certainly be back to my old stomping grounds because quite frankly I can't live without these amazing gems!

What do you think makes a great local spot? Discuss.

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Crowdeman Place!


Outside our funky new front door.

Eeeeee I am just bursting with excitement about this post, it's hard to pick a place to start! 

My 13 readers will recall my hopeful anticipatory post about the dream home we have been hoping to call OUR home for the past month. Or more.

Now I don't want to give too many visual morsels away because our buds haven't even checked out our pad yet and I wouldn't want to spoil any potential surprises. But because I love you stalkers, I'll give you a li'l something.

We fell in love with a ginormo studio that currently looks a little something like this: 

That is the view from the kitchen. (And I believe that is Johnnycakes practicing his jumping capabilities, testing out the space for his Insanity workouts.) The space extends quite a bit to the right and left of the photo.

 It's probably hard to tell what the sam hill is happening in this space, except you can tell it is cowabunga big. To help you out, it will soon like like thees:

You are probably wondering what a sexy bath is, and whether our bathrooms are in fact sexy. They are. I love. And you will just have to wait to see.

So how will studioland turn into homey, divided luxury city? The reason this whole process has taken so incredulously long is because we've been back and forth with management about the construction renovation project which will procure our home with bedroom walls and sliding glass bedroom doors. Spicy.

When will that be? That's another story. Less than a month, hopefully sooner. Fingers crossed! But the space itself, the final product, and the awesome deal we're getting on this lovely place is fantastic. Lucky sons o guns.

Alrighty so I snapped more pics of the inside but for the purposes of cliffhanger creation I am going to hold those hostage for now. 

One thing I can't help but share NOW, however, is the situation on the roof. 

Outdoor grill/dining/happy times section! John looks good up there.

Cozy spot for us two lovebirds.


I can't really begin to describe how grateful and excited I am to have found this amazing place, and to be moving in with J. Crow for the first time! 

Friday, July 8, 2011

Weds-Day: Will you be my bridesmug?

*So I owe all of you party peeps a very serious apology. It's been a crazy hectic week, and I can't wait to tell you about why! Maybe as a special little "forgive me" gift, I'll try to explain in a second post today. Until then, I just can't skip Weds-Day this week ... so even though it is now Friday, heres you go!

I'm in a very bride-type mood this week, likely because I am currently counting down the days (now hours!) until I get to jet to upstate NY for my wonderful cousin's bridal shower this coming Saturday!! I am proud to be a bridesmaid in my cuzzy's wedding this October.

And in the true spirit of bridesmaids ... I want to talk about mine, now that I've finally rounded all of them up and asked them to be my leading ladies!

Specifically, let's chat about the little gifties I used to ask the girls to be my 'maids. I thought a preemptive "thank you" was in order, because I know how 'spensive these things are in the end. Also I just downright appreciate the love and support these people have shown John & I as a couple, and all kinds of mushy things of that sort.

So I gave all 7 of them one of my love bundles: 

I hope the tangerine and celery theme was not lost on you educated readers. Also note the checkered shamrock guy!

Special little nugz.

The content was a pimped out koozie that I ordered from Deerpath Designs, a lovely curator of cute gifties whom I discovered on Etsy.

Clearly I needed one for meself. 


So there is my contribution to the creative "Will you be my bridesmaid?" world. 

You like?  

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Give pizza chance

(See what I did with the title there? Clever, I know.)

[Scroll down for Mexi-veggie Fajita Pizza recipe!]

Hope your 4th was free and fabulous! I apologize for the late post, my 12 readers. After a glorious holiday weekend, it was all I could manage to get out of bed and snap back into reality today. It was drinking out of a fire hose at work today followed by a trip to Whole Foods along with the rest of my neighborhood, so no time to get a good start on bloggin'.

Now, let's talk about a food that we are all a little too friendly with: pizza.

I don't know about you guys, but for as long as I can remember I've had a short list of foods that are just banned from my life forever and ever. I refer to it as my black list. That really sounds like some hardcore masochism, but believe it or not this collection of no-no's happened somewhat naturally. It consists of foods that I, at some point, strategically decided were not worth the taste-to-heart attack ratio.

In pizza's company on my black list: McDonald's (please don't tell my fiance), chinese food, country fried chicken.

My reasoning for subconsciously creating this list of waistline bullies to avoid is probably obvious, but in case it is not, here is photographical evidence:

Looks moderately tasty, but tasty enough to forgive myself the next day? Probably not.

Mmmmm just look at that shiny shimmery grease.

Too far ... but ok, seriously, is that real?!!

I think the moral of this story is that, at least in my book, pizza has been getting a bad wrap for years. 

So when a dear friend of mine generously surprised me with a birthday gift card to Piece Pizza in Wicker Park, it was a battle between brain and belly. The legendary Piece, which doubles as a microbrewery, is constantly slammed every weekend - they must be doing something amazing! But, alas, pizza was my longtime foe - how could it be trusted? 

Ladies & gents, this was not the greasy cheesedough pie of days past. 

"White pizza", brushed with olive oil and garlic in lieu of sugary marinara? Ultra thin crust? Customizable toppings includes veggies of all shapes, sizes and colors??

A pizza I can feel good about? Sign me up! My white pizza with spinach, red onion & jalapenos hit the spot without making me feel like a house. 

John was a happy camper too. Notice the his & hers pies. JC mowed down on some chicken-mashed potato-BBQ situation.

After also ordering a caprese salad with mixed greens and balsamic, I had successfully covered all of my healthy living bases. For that, Piece gets a big thumbs up from this lady. 

With my mind freshly opened to pizza, I got a little creative in the kitchen tonight and want to share the deliciousness that ensued. I've been dreaming of trying this sucker out and it did not disappoint! 

It was actually inspired by a Whole Foods recipe, Chicken Taco Pizza

Um, helloyum. I modified it to fit my puzzle pieces and here's what I came up with!

Fajita Mexi-veggie Pizza

2 C. Pico de Gallo (buy it fresh at Whole Foods or TJs, or make your own!)
1/2 C. mix of red & orange peppers
1/2 C. red onion, diced
2 jalapenos, diced 
1 whole wheat pizza crust
1 C. low fat shredded Mexican cheese mix 
1 avocado 
Taco seasoning, garlic powder & chili powder, to taste
Olive oil, about 1-2 T

First up, rub that dough with some olive oil, then spread the pico evenly. At this point the zesty salsa smelled so amazing and I hadn't even done anything significant yet!

Next, spread your cheese and diced veggies throughout. I had planned on actually seasoning the peppers & onions by themselves with the spices, but my roommate and I had some Casey Anthony real talk in the kitchen so I got a little distracted. If this happens to you, just season the entire pizza as you please.

Bake that sucker at 400 for about 15 minutes and voila ... 

Cut into 4 big pieces and add 1/4 cup of your avocado per serving ....


Mine was quite spicy so if you're not a fan of the heat, get out of the kitchen  man up  skip the jalapeno or leave out the chili powder. 

Enjoy your healthy & delicious pizza!!

What's your favorite healthy-makeover recipe?? Please share if you got 'em!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Happy Birthday, Amurca.

Don't know about you guys, but I'm pretty excited to party like it's 1776. Even though I'm terrified of fireworks. Not a joke. But let's not talk about that.

How excited am I? Excited (and dorky) enough to create this festiveness 

Yup, that's a breakfast cookie with raspberries & blueberries. It's an American flag, in case you didn't catch that part. 

Sorry, I just couldn't help myself.

Here's an example of something this weekend I am NOT excited about:

Seriously? At least there is THIS:

ZERO percent chance of rain on the fourth! Of course God is going to smile down on America on Monday. I seriously can't remember a stormy 4th of July weekend.

With all the progress I've made with clean eating and running, I'm a little nervous for this indulgent weekend. Hopefully I can avoid the processed hot diggity dogs and charred burgers.

What are your plans for the weekend? Not sure what we will get into, but I hope it involves sun and patriotism.