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Sunday, January 31, 2010

My Vintage Typewriter Is Here

I posted a few weeks ago about my hunt for a vintage typewriter and I'm excited to share that option #3 from etsy seller "iamanie" fit all of my criteria and it arrived yesterday! Overall it's in great shape and looks really nice. I'm in love with the stylish case; it looks like a bowling ball case to me.

I opened it up and found that the seller included a cute little thank you note resting in the keys, with a birdie on it none-the-less. It's like she knows me!

The typewriter itself is a Remington Premier. I have no idea what year it was made or anything, so I guess I should research that a bit further, but I love the look.

I tried it out and the space bar sticks pretty badly, but if it becomes a problem I bet I can get it repaired. All of the other keys and functions seem to be in fine working order.

Plus, I won't be using it to type the next great American novel. In fact, at first I think I'll put it to use making some handmade greeting cards. More to come on that!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Italian Roast Coffee & Creamer Rave

I am currently obsessed with an Italian roast coffee and creamer right now. It is so flavorful that I have virtually kick my Starbucks latte habit, saving me calories and cash.

First, brew a pot of Starbucks Italian Roast. I always purchase at my local grocery store or Target because it is up to $3 cheaper there, as opposed to buying it from a Starbucks retail location.

This is an extra bold coffee but even though it's dark, it is sweet and smoky, never bitter. If I drank any coffee black, it might be this blend, but I'm not quite that much of a coffee connoisseur yet. Thus, I add a touch of Coffee-Mate Italian Sweet Cream and I'm in heaven.

Use this liquid creamer, and you won't even need to add sugar to your coffee (if you usually take it that way). And at only 35 calories in a tablespoon, it's a delicious treat that's cheaper and less caloric than a chock-full-of-sugar flavored latte.

I have been buying this creamer in quart size and keeping this Italian roast stocked at home. Then I bring it to work each morning, skipping my Starbucks stop altogether. With these new finds, and of course the addition of our new home espresso machine, I think our Starbucks days will be numbered.

Try it! I think you'll like it :-)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

STL Illustrator: Dan Zettwoch

My sister gave me a completely awesome screenprint for my birthday from a talented St. Louis Illustrator/Artist, Dan Zettwoch.

The print is called St. Louis Style and it features all of the famous, local fare from my favorite hometown:

Of course my favorite feature is the STL style pizza and the equation for provel cheese (no, not provolone, provel).

Man I miss that cheese! My mother-in-law brought us two pounds of provel when she came up for Thanksgiving just because we can't buy it here.

I know many St. Louisans read my blog so I wanted to share the work of this local (to you) artist. This new print is a 3-color, hand-pulled screenprint on wheat-colored Canson Edition paper, edition of 100, 30" x 11 1/4" and he's selling them for $25 apiece while they last.

A great addition to any kitchen or rec area :-) Now I just need to get mine framed and hung.

5 Goals for 2010, Part 1

My good friend Sara just posted her 5 goals for 2010, part 1. I think keeping the list concise and aiming for half of the year at a time is a great idea. A June check-in is just what I will need, since short-term goals always seem much easier to obtain anyway, right? So here it goes...

My FIVE GOALS from January to June 2010:

1. Make my bed every morning. It's amazing how much better it is to come home to a made bed.

2. Take some sort of a creative class or workshop once a month.

3. Never eat McDonald's again. All year. Even on a road trip. Even when my coworkers make an afternoon ice cream run. Even when I'm hungover and offered McD's breakfast. Never, ever.

4. Take Louie (my dog) for a 20 minute walk each night (even when the temp is single digits) instead of running him out the door to potty and rushing him back in. Good for me and for him!

5. Research greener cleaning products and methods for the house, THEN make a cleaning schedule & keep up with it regularly.

What are your newest 5 goals or things you want to do or learn this year?

Monday, January 25, 2010

A lil' bit of Lill for my Lull

It's that time of year again. The time of year that I will fall into a drastic post-holiday, missing-my-busy-season-CPA hubby, windy-city-winter LULL if not otherwise thwarted by a bright, shiny & new creative outlet. Luckily, my sister was kind enough to get me a gift card to the Lill Street Art Center which I can put towards a new class again this year!

Last year I took a First-Time Screen-Printing for Paper class there and made a few, fun prints. But I'm torn if I should continue in the screen-printing route or if I should try something new?

I could take the First-Time Screen-Printing for Fabric class and learn how to replicate these pillow cases I have been most recently coveting, among other cool fabric crafts.

Or I could jump on either the Sewing or Knitting bandwagon, but unfortunately I just don't think I can make it there by 6:30pm on a work night for the sewing sessions so the knitting course is probably more feasible.

Or I could really splurge for this 10-week course, Introduction to Letterpress Image And Text.

I think my hold-up with Letterpress and Screen-printing is that they are both very interesting to me, but I lack the at-home-studio space to put my new found skills into action once class is dismissed. And while knitting is a bit less interesting to me, it might be a more useful skill to have down the road and a more affordable, maybe even therapeutic, hobby to take up.

Decisions, decisions. What would you do in my shoes?

Leave a comment to vote for the next Lill Street class I should enroll in!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Holy Mole, Rick Bayless!

I know I promised a review of my dinner at Topolobampo and luckily it was all it was cracked up to be!

Dave took me here a week or so ago for my birthday dinner, after making reservations months in advance, and we were not disappointed. The drink menu is to-die-for and I had a very unique Autumn Margarita which included ingredients such as cinnamon giving it a warmer feeling than it's limey, summery sister cocktail.

For dinner, I opted for the whole mole tasting menu (it was my birthday after all) and it was amazing! It included five mole dishes...

Tamal estilo Misantla, Mole Verde Oaxaqueno (Creamy polenta-style corn masa tamal with herby Oaxacan green mole):

Conejo Almendrado (Roasted rack of Gunthorp rabbit and almond milk-braised leg in Oaxacan estofado almendrado -- my FIRST rabbit experience):

Pescado en Mole Amarillo (Brown butter-poached Lake Superior walleye in Oaxacan yellow mole infused with hoja santa):

Puerco en Clemole (Roasted "Pata Negra" pork in old-fashioned clemole castellano -- dark dried chiles, pecans, pinenuts, hazelnuts, avocado leaf):

AND lastly,
An AMAZING Chocolate Mole with chocolate cake balls, coconut ice cream, etc. (sorry no pics)

My husband is a bit of a pickier eater so he decided against having one of the chef's whole tasting menus and got just the Sopa Azteca to start (best soup we have ever tasted) and the Puerco en Clemole (pork mole) entree instead, which was my favorite of all the moles. I will say though that Dave's full dish of the pork mole was cooked superbly yet, my smaller portion was overdone... their one and only strike against them of the night. The rest of that mole dish though, including the pumpkin bread pudding, was so amazing that the pork was more of a sideshow anyway.

The complexity of flavors in both the soup and each of the moles was indescribable. I have never had such layered and sophisticated flavors in a Mexican meal in my life, and probably never will again since I'm unsure of the next we'll splurge to go back. I will however, try the more affordable and casual Frontera Grill in the future. They share a kitchen and a drink menu.

Overall, I'd highly recommend a visit to Topolobampo next time your are looking for a special night out in the city of Chicago! My compliments to the chef, Rick Bayless!

New Look & Feel

I finally sat down tonight and changed from my original polka dot blogger template to a much cleaner, less crammed version of my former blog. I think it will feature my photos better in future posts to come and it just felt like time for a refresh.

I used the ever popular Free Blogger Templates 'Photoblog II' by and it really could not have been simpler. Come out from your reader and take a look :-)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Topolobampo, Turning 29 & Eleven Eleven Mississippi

Today is my 29th birthday (yes, the last year in my twenties) and my wonderful husband Dave is taking me to eat tonight at Topolobampo!

If any of you are Top Chef Masters fans, you probably know that this is one of winner Rick Bayless' signature restaurants in Chicago -- one of the only fine-dining Mexican restaurants in the country.

Ever since his big win, reservations are virtually impossible to get at his restaurants without a few months wait. Dave tried in October to get reservations for our November wedding anniversary and was told the first open reservation was in JANUARY! So he decided to make them for my birthday instead and surprise me with his ability to plan way ahead ;-)

Here is this month's menu and it all looks amazing! I'll write a full report about what we order and what we think in the days to come.

I also took off work tomorrow so that I could thoroughly enjoy some cocktails tonight and also have a nice 4-day birthday weekend, since Monday we are off for work for MLK day.

With the extended time of off work, I am heading home to Saint Louis Friday to celebrate my birthday with family & friends there and also to celebrate my grandpa's 90th birthday on Saturday! Yes, 90. Much more impressive than 29.

My Saint Louis birthday dinner with my immediate family will be at Eleven Eleven Mississippi. Here is their menu, and once you take a gander I'm sure you'll see why I am really excited to eat there as well. Creamy aged goat cheese polenta? Yes, please!

Happy Birthday to Me!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Paper Source Goodies

Yesterday, I ordered two little work goodies for myself online from Paper Source, and they are so snappy with their delivery that I had them on my doorstep today! I guess it doesn't hurt that I only live 3 miles from their headquarters :-)

First, was my new desk calendar, the 2010 Cavallini Easel "Italia" Calendar:

Too bad we are almost halfway through January, which features my favorite city we visited, Venice!

I drink water all-day, everyday at work BUT I always use a disposable plastic cup, so why not be a bit greener with this environmentally responsible and day-brightening birdie bottle? This also has two more great purposes...

1) It holds 20 oz. of water so I am making a goal for myself to drink four of these, or 80 oz. of water, a day at work now.

2) 1% of the sale went towards The Nature Conservancy, whose Illinois field office is just down the street from us and also a client of ours at work.

So in a small way with this online order, I just did my part to beautify my desk, my body and the planet :-)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Simple, Scrumptious Macaroon Mix

I almost feel silly posting this since they required virtually no effort on my part, but yesterday I opened a box of Barefoot Contessa Coconut Macaroon Mix which I bought a few months ago from Crate & Barrel.

(again, please excuse the quality of my iPhone pics, I've been too lazy to reach for the DSLR mid-project lately.)

Then I added, 6 tablespoons of hot tap water, stirred with a wooden spoon, scooped 20 or so onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet, and baked for 20-ish minutes.

The result was a pan of amazing, home-baked coconut macaroons.

And right now this mix is on sale at Crate & Barrel for only $4.95, reduced from $8.95, so it's a simple, scrumptious, steal! I might buy another box and try dipping them half way in dark chocolate next time for a truly decadent treat.

Friday, January 8, 2010

a vintage typewriter

I'm officially on the hunt for a vintage manual typewriter that is still in working condition. I am not a highly knowledgeable collector, so the age and brand are not that important to me. I do however have three criteria.

1) It should work and I should still be able to purchase ribbon for it so that I can actually use it.
2) It should look nice on display or come with a fun case to look decorative when not in use.
3) It should be affordable, preferably around $100 or less.

So, of course I check out etsy and find some serious contenders...

This one from etsy seller 'vintagejane' is exactly the color and and look I was hoping for at a rather affordable price, $49.00 + $20 for shipping.

I like it, but it does not come with ribbon so I'd have to search for a supplier for that. Also, after a quick 'google' I think this is technically a child's typewriter but it looks to be only an inch or so smaller than some other models I'm eyeing so it still seems to be a great option.

The next one in my price range is from etsy seller 'kewpiesfarmhouse', $63.00 +$23.71 for shipping.

Royal is a good brand, but it's just an okay color & style. However...

...this case makes up for that! I love the vintage luggage feel of it.

This typewriter from etsy seller 'iamanie' also peaks my interest, at $90 and seemingly $0 for shipping! (I'll have to check with the seller on that). I love the color, style...

and the great, albeit damaged, carrying bag!

I think those are my best choices from etsy that fall within my requirements. I could always go the local antique store route as well to save money on shipping and actual touch & feel the typewriter before I buy, but that takes serious scavenger time that I'm not sure if I am willing to invest. What do you think?

And lastly, I'll leave you with these great pillowcases from etsy seller 'bpoetic' that tie in nicely with the theme of my post and would look great on our bed.

I know they are handscreened, but can I bring myself to spend $40 on two white pillow cases? I'm not sure yet.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Today's Catalog Finds

Today, I had jury duty and I needed a way to fill my time. Since my favorite past-time is normally online shopping, and I was sure to be without a wi-fi connection, I brought all of my latest catalogs along so I could browse those instead. And wouldn't you know it, I have dog-ears in every one of them! Whether I purchase these items is another story, but I thought I'd still feature a few of my faves particularly from Williams Sonoma & cb2.

First, was a flip through the Williams Sonoma catalog where I spotted this very cool ravioli maker (they call it a ravioli mold in the print catalog), for only $24.95:

I was tempted to purchase this until I realized I would also need this terrific-looking, but terribly impractical Imperia pasta machine, $69.95, in order to make the pasta sheets:

It's not really the price that deters me, it's my lack of counter-space and/or storage that is holding me back since I know I wouldn't use it regularly. We shall see...

I also got excited about these adorable message-in-a-cookie cutters, only $19.99. At that price they might be too delicious to pass up:

And as I am catching up on my google reader I also noticed that Andrea has the same love-affair with these cookie cutters, so great minds think alike. Or at least swoon alike ;-)

Now let's move on to my cb2 catalog finds. This abacus wall art also caught my eye, $149.
I also love these oliver appetizer plates, $2.95 each. Not just because they are completely kitschy and fun, but because I also got a chance to see the graphic designer & illustrator who created "Oliver", Jana Kinsman, speak last month at a Chicago AIGA event and hear her story. She definitely has two sides to her: organizing information for the consumer in the clean, bold, heavily typographic style that is typical of Crate & Barrel but then she has this quirky, hand-drawn illustration side to her that cb2 has now embraced.

This one is my favorite:

I'll probably pick a few up at some point to give out as hostess gifts down the road!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Suzi Skis in Pyrenees

It's rare that I will recommend a nail polish, because quite frankly I generally neglect my poor nails. They are not very strong and don't grow very long, so manicures often fall low on the priority list for me. When I do get a manicure however, I rarely fall in love with a color as much as I have with my current selection.

I'm now a BIG fan of OPI Suzi Skis in Pyrenees from their Espana collection.

I seriously still cannot decide what color it is, but that's what intrigues me. OPI calls it a "deep, smokey, blue-grey". In some light I think it's a dark charcoal and sometimes I get a hint of dark blue as well. What I love is that it's very close to being black, without being so severe looking on my pale hands.

Two (darkly painted) thumbs up!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Game Night!

This time last year we hosted some friends for a game night, and tonight we plan to do the same!

I just love the holiday season, for many reasons, but mostly because it's the one time of year where I get to be around a lot of family, friends and people that are generally (finally) "in the mood" for my crazy game addiction (or at least will put up with it).

My new favorite game of the year is The Game Of Things sold at Target & Amazon.

So far I have played this with 4 varying groups of people: Friends for fun, my immediate family at Thanksgiving, our extended family of all ages at Christmas and my brother in-law and his in-laws at NYE and... everyone agrees it is really fun! It is great because you can play with numerous players and it's very interactive. Plus, it has no definitive "end", so you can play as long or as little as your group desires. Highly recommend.

I have heard from a coworker that Loaded Questions Adult is entertaining, so we bought that for a family gift exchange, but have not purchased it for us or played it ourselves yet.

And as I said last year, Apple to Apples and Scattergories are always a hit and I also like Electronic Catch Phrase, but I'm in the market for any new games people might also suggest.

I like games that aren't necessarily party games as well. Is there an interesting new Trivial Pursuit version out there I might be missing? Scrabble is all time favorite, and my mom gave me Scrabble Slam for Christmas which I have yet to try. Any other suggestions in that realm to play on more of a quiet night in? I'd love to hear them!

Friday, January 1, 2010

These are a few of my new favorite things...

This Christmas Dave gave me two of my new favorite things...

First, is this great vintage Mele jewelry box from etsy seller happydayvintage:

I just love the pretty pumpkin velvet lining and the character it has; also I do feel pretty lucky to have a husband "man enough" to have an etsy account ;-)

My next surprise was something I've been coveting since our trip to Italy in September... an espresso machine!

Dave found a great deal on my/our new Krups Espresso Machine on Amazon so I was the lucky recipient of it under the tree this season. At first I was intimidated by the thought of being my own barista, but it is incredibly user friendly and shoots out two perfect little cups of espresso in a matter of seconds. Now that we've mastered that feat, Dave has been reading up on how to properly steam & froth our milk and we had our first few test lattes today; I have to say they might even give Starbucks a run for their money in a blind taste test!

Hope your holidays also brought you a few of your favorite things :-)

Happy New Year!


About Me

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I'm a St. Louis native, but I have been living in Chicago since 2005 and am loving every windy minute of it. I enjoy cooking (more-so eating), home decorating and really anything creative. I'm a supporter of DIY & handmade goods, a fledgling foodie and a connoisseur of kitsch. I spend my days filling online shopping carts, emptying them and repeating the process all over again. Most of all I love spending time with my husband, Dave, our first child, Claire and my dog, Louie.

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