Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tranquil Garden

This is my Mom's garden.  I never appreciated how beautiful it was until I had been out of the house for several years.  We moved to the neighborhood in 1987 and I hated my parents for moving me away from my friends as I was heading into Middle School.  The transition was very difficult.  As is the case with most young girl relationships, one week I had friends, the next week I was one level below pond scum.  Brutal.

The good news is that I survived, barely.  I now love this garden and appreciate it's beauty and tranquil nature.  My Mom is retired and spends more time in this garden than the insects.  My Mom used to tell me that beauty takes work.  She was referring to me but that attitude also applies to her garden.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Best Croissants in Chicago - Floriole


After savoring croissants in France with their flaky, golden outside and folds of salty, buttery goodness inside, I was pretty certain nothing would come close to that perfect in Chicago, or in the United States for that matter.  For the record, I feel the same way about Chicago style hot dogs.  That kind of perfection on a poppy seed bun cannot be replicated.   

That said, having breakfast at Floriole Cafe and Bakery is about as close as you are going to get to Paris.  The croissants attain the level of quality you will find in any boulangerie.  However, just like a Chicago hot dog really doesn't feel right without a heavy Chicago accent next to you, a croissant doesn't feel completely right without the cigarette smoke swirling, French speaking folks who are impossibly chic and put together.  Floriole is in Lincoln Park and the little piece of Webster Avenue that the restaurant occupies, feels somewhat French.  Just replace the cigarette smoke and French dialogue with North Face jackets and $700 baby strollers.

Pain Perdu
Ham and Gruyère Croissant
View from the open front of the restaurant

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Winter Prep

Homemade Marshmallows
Hot Chocolate with Marshmallows

I have been through many hot summers in Chicago but this one definitely broke some records.  Last time it was this hot, I was pregnant with my son.  So, anytime I was parched and sweating while doing nothing but sitting still in the sun, all I could think was, "At least I am not pregnant."  

I made these marshmallows when the temps were way cooler.  I thought this would be a good time to post them as a reminder that we have a very short time left with this scorching heat.  The great thing about marshmallows though, is that they are good for S'mores and that can be done right now.  Caution on roasting homemade marshmallows, they will melt much quicker than the commercial variety.  Don't let them hang out in the fire without a close eye on them while you chit chat with your buddies.  You can find the recipe here.  

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Salty and Sweet

Saltine Toffee
I was introduced to Saltine Toffee when I was working in an office.  I work from home now and I love it, but I miss the office banter and recipes like this that get passed around among co-workers.  The woman who made these verbally gave me the recipe and I made it from memory.  You can get the recipe here.  Not only did I get these from the office, I think I also devoured them after a really bad day at the office.  Have to love a place that has the dual role of causing and curing pain.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

New Apartment

Living Room

I moved and although I love the way my place looks, this has been a very difficult transition.  On top of many issues with my Landlord, my place was burglarized while I was on vacation.  I was fine traveling on a plane after 9/11 but I had to stay at my parent's place for a couple of weeks before I was able to come back to this place.  What they say is true, you do feel violated and unsafe after someone breaks into your home.
Dining and Office Area

Second Half Bathroom Wall

Stay tuned for upstairs rooms and if I ever get to it, the basement.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies

I checked out "Desserts by the Yard" by Sherry Yard about half a dozen times before I actually made something in the book.  After drooling over the photos and examining the delicious ingredients and descriptions, I settled on the Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies.  You can find the recipe here.  To be honest, my son and I liked these cookies but they did not blow us away.  I think I need to make Ina Garten's Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars to do a comparison.  Stay tuned.

Friday, August 3, 2012


I am reading "Open" by Andre Agassi.  If the introduction and 1st Chapter are indicators of how this book is going to read, I will not be able to put it down.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Park City, Utah


I had never been to Utah and I took my first trip out there this summer.  Utah is an outdoor lover's paradise and I fell in love.  The mountains are breathtaking, the outdoor activities are abundant, the air is dry, the climate is moderate and my allergies, which have been driving me insane all summer in the horrible Chicago heat and humidity, poof, went away!

We rented a condo through VRBO in  Park City at a resort called The Canyons.  I am working on getting back out there for Spring Break to try out what is supposed to be incredible powder and amazing sky country.  Until then, I can enjoy the memories and abundance of photos.    


High Flying Olympic Practice

Ski Mountains Waiting for Snow