Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Cooking Crazy

I finally saw Julie and Julia over my Christmas Holiday and despite some of the negative reviews, I thought it was worth the $1 that was paid to view it ;).

While watching it, I kept thinking how I wish I would've thought to do what Julie Powell did: pick a cookbook and cook through it in a year.  Now I must be honest with you - I probably wouldn't have chosen Julia Childs cookbook - no, I would have gone for something entirely more sinful and heart attack worthy:

It's sad but true - I just think that everything this woman makes is amazing. {stand up here} My name is Kari Corsi and I am the fatty that would run at the gym while watching her on the food network.  There - I said it.  Unfortunately for my tastebuds (but fortunately for my thighs) my new husband actually detests the taste of unhealthy foods.  Cheese?  He doesn't like it in high quantities.  Fried foods?  "No thank you," he'd say.  Heavy creams or butters? These tend to make his stomach hurt.  I wish I thought/felt this way - however I don't.  But because I now have to worry about him and take into account his likes and dislikes I myself have started to pay attention to these things.  Because of this (and his Italian heritage) I've become very interested in this cookbook which I purchased last year at my school's book fair:

She's Italian (hence her name and the name of the cookbook) and she makes a lot of dishes with "healthy  fats" in their ingredients (I like unhealthy fats way better...Outback Cheese Fries?  Don't mind if I do!).  So tonight we're venturing to the grocery store (every trip to the grocery store is an adventure here) and I'm going to purchase items that I need to make one of her dishes:

Whole-Wheat Spaghetti with Lemon, Basil and Salmon
This is what I'm planning on making for New Years Day dinner.  My mom always makes the same dinner for New Years Day, however her's has a purpose (black eyed peas: luck, steamed cabbage: money) - I've decided that maybe I make a fancy (fancy is totally in the eyes of the beholder here) meal every New Years Day.  My side dishes will be a spinach salad alongside Zucchini & Sweet Peppers with Feta.  I'll let you know how it goes - you can pray that I am a good manager of my cooking time as this is one of my weak points.  I'd like to become an adventurous cook and feel like I need to take advantage of my time before I start grad school.  In the meantime, I'm going to search for a cookbook that I feel would be worthy to cook through - a girl can dream, right?  Bon Appetit!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas in Chicago

This was my first year as a resident of Chicago being able to enjoy the Christmas season and I must say, Chicago has a lot to offer around the holidays!  Here you'll find a few of my favorite (new and old) ways to  enjoy Christmas in the big city.  I knew this would be helpful as I know all of you will be planning your visit for Christmas 2010!

Thanks to my eager Zoo Light friends (Matt and Amy) Stephen and I enjoyed the amazing fun that is ZOO Lights this year!  Who can resist a FREE visit to the zoo to walk through, see the animals and see the millions of lights throughout!  Some information you need to know: at the end of November and beginning of December it is only open on the weekends but from Dec 18-Jan 3 it is opened nightly (closed on the 24th and 25th) 5-9 pm...Below are a few memorable moments from our visit:

Matt and Stephen enjoying their Santa Glasses (put 'em on and they make all lights take the shape of Santa)!
Stephen and I appreciating the Gingerbread culture.
Here's some video footage of my favorite part of ZooLights this year:

While this is an entire Winter Event it is also an event that is very fun to do around Christmas time for 2 reasons: it gets you in the spirit and because Chicago is much warmer in December than it is in January.  You can ice skate for free, however you must pay $10 to rent ice skates if you forgot to bring your own (Come on!  I know you all own a pair!).  The rink is open until 8pm on weeknights and 10pm on the weekends.

Come on down to Daly Square to experience this fun German-esq festival.  You can see the large annual Christmas tree (usually they use hundreds of real trees to make up the huge tree, however this year they went with 1 skimpy tall tree) and you can experience all the booths full of fun different merchandise ranging from beautiful glass blown ornaments to pillows to nuts to gingerbread cookies, etc. The only bummer about this is that after 12-24 you'll have to wait until the next year to experience it again...
Here we are, sad that they went with such a Charlie Brown Christmas tree.

While you're at the Christkindlmarket you are within blocks of visiting one of my favorite Chicago sites: the old Marshall Fields.  Here you can walk from window to window to see their Christmas decorated windows in whichever theme that they go with that year.  Step on in to view the giant and beautifully decorated Christmas tree in the Walnut Room...ah!  I love this place!

What fun this is to come and view their Christmas trees: 1 for every country!  Find the tree you like the best and spend tons of time viewing all the different ornaments that go along with the country theme.  This show ends on January 3rd so you have a little bit of time after Christmas to enjoy this holiday fun!
My Grandma is from Lebanon - I found my Lebanese Tree!
Stephen enjoying his Italian heritage!

Okay so according to their website they are claiming that this is the last year to see this exhibit, however I'm really hoping that they are merely going to replace it with another exhibit that is equally cool!  The basics of this exhibit are that they use science to go back to the Star of Bethlehem and study how this star phenomenon truly could have happened to lead to the Christ child.

Whelp kids, although there is a lot more to see and do in Chicago, especially around the holidays, I must stop for now.  Why don't you come next year and see it for yourself?! (However, don't wait to come, come sooner and then come back :) )!
I hope everyone had a marvelous Christmas this year!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I'll Be Home For Christmas

Yesterday I gave you a glimpse inside my Decked-The-Halled Apt and I promised you that I would show you some other Christmas snippets from the rest of the place, and here you have it!  Enjoy the Christmas decorations from the dining area!
The top of our yellow cabinet in our dining are some close-ups of the Holiday goodness:
This candle: Fresh Balsam Fir from Bath and Body Works is AmAzInG!  We have it as a wall flower as well as the candle, and you can fool anyone with this smell, EVERYONE will think that you have a real tree!  And then I went to Michael's and got some garland and put it around it to make it a bit more festive.
EVERYONE needs a UK Santa!
This is our table runner thanks to the Pomegranate Warehouse sale in Lexington!  I then went to Pier One and got the candle and holder; the salt and pepper holders match all to well so we kept them on the table to go along with it all.  I took the same garland from Michael's and wrapped it around the candle.
Our China Hutch received a little Christmas lovin' as well!
One side of the hutch; you can see that I used the leftover Target ornaments from the garland around the fireplace to fill the trifle dish to make it a little more festive.
The other side of the China Hutch...
This is a super cute frame that I got at Kohls last year the day after Christmas for super cheap.  It says "Love Buttons Us Together" and it has little buttons all in it.  I need to get a picture to put in it, until then, I still proudly display it because it's adorable.
I also went to Hallmark and Michael's the day after Christmas and purchased all our wrapping paper, ribbons and Christmas cards for this year for super cheap because it was all like 70% off.  That's my plan for this year as well!  The good news is that the majority of the world is off at the mall or electronics stores to get merchandise so you don't have to rush out early to try to snag up some holiday trimmings.  Happy shopping!

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

With Christmastime upon us, Stephen and I finally decorated our apartment in honor of Christ's birth!  Thankfully, Stephen's family always went and purchased a real tree every year - and when I say a tree, I mean a was always at least 12 feet tall!  With that being said, my cost-conscious husband is a sucker for a real Christmas tree which makes this girl REALLY happy!  So, I had done a little internet research on the cost of real trees here in the Windy City and we found that they were pretty comparable to trees in Lexington.  We were all set out to purchase it one Monday night - we knew it was going to be at least 8ft and a Balsam Fir - the most aromafilled of the bunch - and then Stephen's phone rang.  It was his friend, Dennis who told us that he had a fake 9ft tree that he couldn't fit in his apartment and it had been taking up space in storage for the past couple of years and he asked if we wanted it...a free tree?!  Who can turn that down?  While it has some things going against it (1. it's FAKE, 2. it's not prelit, 3. because it's not prelit you have to put each branch on individually, and 4. We're not so sure that it is truly 9ft tall) it had one thing going for it: it was FREE!  So we decided on no real tree this year, but we still like the results:
and a few meaningful ornaments:
I got this at my FAVORITE Ornament shop at Fayette Mall in Lexington: Santa's Pen...I love them and end up spending way too much money there and justify it because they're all presents.  I'm a sucker for personalized ornaments.
This one's for Stephen!  My mom got these for him last year and I knew that they would soon adorn my Christmas tree :).  I must say that despite their poor performance this season, Stephen still loves them so much that I'm thankful for the 2 little Steelers Nutcrackers on our tree.
Though themed trees are really pretty and I like them so much, I really love ornaments with sentimental value and memories attached to them.  Our tree is a hodgepodge of ornaments, each with their own memory or story attached to it.  This ornament represents a new set of memories.  I've decided that I'm going to purchase a "Chicago" ornament for each year that we live in Chicago.  Evidently I wasn't the only person at Macys looking for a Chicago ornament and I had to venture to the suburbs (okay, that wasn't the only reason I went to the 'burbs) to snag this little guy: "Our 1st Christmas in Chicago" Together Ornament :).
This ornament came as a wedding gift from my old coworker and good friend, Tammie and her daughter Sydney.  I think that these s'mores ornaments are so cute!
Sticking with the s'mores theme, I love this one!  This is from one of my students from last year whom I loved so much!  Her name was Brook but I fondly referred to her as "Brook-y" which I'm sure drove her crazy but she responded to it, probably just humoring me :).
This is an ornament with a picture of my class from last year.  Teaching (especially at my school) is one of the things that I miss the most.  I loved my class, I loved my coworkers and I love teaching.  I definitely can't wait to get back into it!
The whole reason why we celebrate; because of this powerful, mighty little guy:
Now I don't want to be misleading, Jesus probably didn't look like this, and Mary and Joseph probably didn't look like this either but I did think this Nativity was sweet so I put it out every year to remember the reason for the season.
"And the stockings were hung by the chimney with care in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there..."

I purchased the prelit garland from Target for $8 on sale and then I purchased the container of ornaments (also at Target for $15) and had so much fun using them throughout the apartment to decorate:
and lastly, even our "Salt Covenant" received a little Christmas attention

So that is our living/sitting room Christmas transformation!  Stay tuned tomorrow for some dining room pictures :)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

One of my favorite Cookie Recipes...

Last year, my new sister-in-law gave me a recipe to one of Stephen's favorite cookies.  Because I knew he loved these cookies so much, I set right out to make them.  Not only are they AMAZING (make sure you try them while they're still warm and out of the oven) but they are also INCREDIBLY easy to make!  I am going to share this recipe with you as it makes a GREAT Christmas cookie, but please don't limit it to only 1 time of year!  The cookies are {drum roll please.......} 
The White Chocolate Cranberry Shortbread Cookie.  
Okay, so here's the skinny!
-2 Cups (4 sticks) of butter (at room temperature)
-1 cup of sugar
-4 cups of flour
-1 pkg (6 squares) of Bakers Premium White Baking Chocolate, Chopped (I use a bag of white chocolate's easier and cheaper)
-1.5 cups of dried cranberries

-Preheat your oven to 350
-Beat butter and sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy.

-Add flour; mix well. 
-Stir in chopped chocolate and cranberries.
-Drop rounded tablespoons of dough, 2 inches apart, onto ungreased baking sheets.
-Flatten each ball of dough slightly.
-Bake 10 to 14 minutes or until lightly browned.
***If you have a stand mixer it is best to use this as the dough is VERY thick and can tire a hand mixer.
These are SO dang good and because they have such a generous portion of butter in them, they melt in your mouth just like a shortbread cookie is supposed to!
Stephen and I decided that because these cookies are so good that we would make them to give to our neighbors in our building.  We're taking them to them tonight so you can pray that we have a good introduction to our neighbors and that they may see Christ is us throughout our duration of living here.

Enjoy your cookies!  Let me know what you think!

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Apt...Where it is and where it's going....

I'm going to use this blog to share with you the current state of our apartment as well as to share with you what is to come.  In doing so, I hope that you can get a sense of the feel the apartment has and then give me advice on a painting decision that must be made :).  I will start again by reminding you of our paint pallet:

In choosing the colors for the apartment, it was very important to me that it would feel warm and cozy, even during those brutal Chicago winters.  I wanted to choose colors that would do that, so I stuck with the warm color family.  My most unexpected paint job was the La Fonda Copper and the Del Coronado Amber.  I wasn't going to originally paint the living/sitting room of the apartment, but after going to Lowe's with my roommate at the time (Sara) we fell in love with these two colors, and here they are doing of fine job of complimenting each other:

Okay, here are pictures of what the living/sitting room look like as of right now, let me explain to you some things that are going to transform it even more.  First off (as you can tell) there are no pillows on the sofa or loveseat.  I did not like the pillows that came with the couch set and so from early on I got my mom to agree to make some for me.  JoAnn's Fabric&Craft store had home fabrics for 60% off one weekend so I went and picked out 3 different fabric swatches or pillows here.  The main pillows (2 for each piece) are somewhat of a tweed fabric with an orange/red color in them.  I then purchased a striped fabric and a floral-y fabric to make some accent pillows on the two pieces.  My mom is also going to make accent pillows out of the stripped and floral fabrics for the leather arm chair in the sitting room.  Next, onto the window treatments.  I feel like the windows are so big that they are making a statement for themselves and I wanted to draw them into the rooms and tie the two rooms in together using window treatments.  The big problem is that the windows are so big...they are about 106" high making window treatments SOOOOO expensive.  My solution?  Walmart!  Because my mom can sew and she's too nice to say no to me, I purchased inexpensive faux silk panels to put together "custom" window treatments for the living/sitting rooms.  The main big window has the radiator underneath it making it impossible to put ceiling to floor treatments on the window - no complaints here!  That just makes it cheaper!  I am going to put sheers on the main picture window in order to allow a lot of light in:

What I like about these is that they are a gold shade which will match the "custom" panels my mom is making me :).  In order to solve the length problems of the other windows, I purchased 2 dark chocolate panels (1 panel for each window):

These are only 95" long, so in order to get them to the desired 106" length, I also purchased a gold panel:

that my mom is going to cut and sew to the bottom of the brown panels to lengthen them.  This will serve 3 major purposes...1) It will make them long enough to fall all the way to the floor 2) the gold at the bottom will tie the orange living room into the gold/amber sitting room 3) the gold will also tie into the gold shaded sheer coving the main window.
I am also doing the same thing for the sitting room (the amber colored room), I am using 2 chocolate faux silk panels (again, 1 for each window) except instead of attaching gold at the bottom, I am going to attach a copper/orange ("sienna" if you will) to the bottom:

Again, this will serve multiple purposes...1) It will make them long enough to fall all the way to the floor 2) the orange at the bottom will tie the gold/amber sitting room into the orange living room.  
I purchased each panel for about $15 making the whole project roughly $115...SUPER cheap compared to the cost of getting extra long/custom curtains for each window...I just hope my mom won't hate me when this whole thing is over :).  
Onto the next room....

Our master bedroom was painted green in an effort to match my favorite bedspread (Duncan Stripe from PB) with Stephen's and my favorite color: green!  We painted this room Olive Grove (all of our paint was Valspar from Lowes), a Laura Ashley collection color.  Here's what's missing from this room:

Our beige pick-stitch quilt from PB that has been ordered but was on backorder.  This will help create a layered look on our bed AND lighten up our little cave-like room as there is barely any natural light that comes in.

Hopefully, I can get Stephen to understand the "value" :) in toss/throw pillows.  If so, I would like to have the "espresso" jute bordered pillow along with the yellow ("fall leaf") colored rectangular pillow and the red square pillow, all from PB...

Just like in the living/sitting room, I've arranged for my mom (more like I've destined her to a sewing hell :) ) to create "custom" curtain panels on the windows in order for them to go all the way to the floor.  Instead of going with the faux silk for this room, I wanted to tie in another type of material so I went with one called "textured stripe" to somewhat compliment the stripe on the bedspread.  

The main part of the curtain (again from Walmart) is called "clay beige".  I went with this color to go along with the quilt on the bed and also to try and help lighten the room.  The bottom portion of these curtains will be:

This is called "rich brown" (also from Walmart).  I almost went with this color for the main part but then I stopped myself for a couple of reasons.  The first being that the main living part of the apartment will have chocolate colored curtains in them, and also because our bedroom tends to get too dark (the windows have a lovely view of the brick wall from the neighboring building).  The bedroom window panels also ran me about $15 a panel.  I purchased 2 clay beige ones and then 1 rich brown panel (to attach at the bottom part of the beige curtains) so the whole thing ran me roughly $45.  I found all of the curtains for our apartment online, but because Walmart has the convenient "Site-to-Store" shipping, it cost me nothing to have them sent to the Walmart in Louisville near my parent's house.  I'm very excited to see our room finished with all these textural changes.  

Okay, I'm getting to the part where I need help with a decision...I had picked out all these paint colors and knew exactly what I wanted when I went into Lowe's.  Unfortunately, (if you read my blog from the month of September, you remember how stressful my trip to Chicago to move my stuff was) I was in such a fluster that I accidentally had the paint girl mix the wrong color tan for the bathroom.  I wanted (see paint swatches above) the lighter tan (Cincinnatian Hotel Carl Tan) and I accidentally showed her "Mocha Syrup" which is the darker tan.  She did exactly what she was told and started to mix the Mocha Syrup for me and it wasn't until she brought it to me that I realized my error.  I really didn't want the darker tan because our bathroom is so incredibly small and I knew the darker color would make it really seem like a cave:

So, my mom (being my mom) was so generous and she told me that she would buy my screw-up Mocha Syrup for me and I could go on ahead and get the lighter tan for our bathroom.  She said, "maybe you'll want to use the Mocha Syrup somewhere else in the apartment..." and that's where I need your help...

Welcome to my dining room!  I'm thinking about painting the Mocha Syrup (see paint swatch above) on the dining room sister and mom planted the idea in my head because they said that it would look SO great next to the China Hutch:

Also, we purchased a rug in a "khaki/beige" color on sale which kinda blends in with the wall color now - almost asking me to paint them a different color.  What do you think?  If you're wondering if it will make the room look really dark, I thought that too...although there are some things you should know.  The room has 2 large windows in it that let in a lot of light (they are not facing a brick wall), also there is a lot of trim and molding (all of which is white) in the room.  Lastly, the room opens up to the sitting/living room which also have windows that bring in a lot of light (see pictures below for visual examples)

What are your thoughts?  Should I leave the walls the "oatmeal" color that they are now?  Or should I open the whole gallon of Mocha Syrup paint just sitting in the utility closet and splash it up on those walls?  I am looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this matter and hoping that you'll really help me make this decision! :)