Thursday, July 25, 2013

Time To Say Good-Bye.. or it was a few months ago.

     Apparently starting a new job, moving, leaving friends, living with your family, traveling for work planning a vacation and moving back into ones own condo has kept me a little busy the past few months and it looks like I never posted my "good-bye and hello" pics. I'm going to let the photos do the talking - it was fun to look back at these - seems like I've been back here forever and at times like I never lived in CO.  Thank goodness for photos and memories... It was sad to say bye and it looks like I'm missing a few people (ie: Andersen's and Denise) but cheers to the many trips back to CO to see everyone!
Rachel - myself - Batya, miss these ladies so much! We got into a terrific habit of having ladies wine nights - my good-bye night with them was at my fav Z Cuisine! (Remember this from my birthday blog) 
I know the movers were a tad shocked when they saw how organized my place was. I tried to keep plastic bins to one side and corrugated boxes on the other. I had them labeled and ready to apply the numbers to move them out.  
It ended up being a really thing that I did this as well as taking photos of all my furniture - let's say my things didn't arrive in Chicago the same way they left Denver. Most of my furniture was damaged and when you move across states no one takes responsibility.  Moving is kind of a nightmare! :) 
For anyone in CO - DON'T USE THIS COMPANY!!! There, I said it and posted it - moving on. They wrapped all my heaving things in paper vs blankets.. oh well, as my Nonnie use to say "this too shall pass!"
Prosecco!! The start of my going away party that Sheri and Liz put together - thank you again. It was such a special night and really the first time my college and high school friends hung out.  Denise & Jimmy along with Kim & Dave were out of town... 
Thank you Sheri! Love this sign - she had it sitting out for everyone to sign and leave a message on.  (check out the trees in the background that Mollie painted - beyond cool!) 
Delicious food and bubbly...of course! It's exactly what I wanted - just to see everyone and say good-bye. 
So, here it goes - I tried to get a pic with everyone. This is Kent and Sheri - I've knows Kent since we were 16 and I love his wife to pieces.  She always has a smile and a hug and made me laugh... Thank you Kent and Sheri for making my time in CO so fun!! xo
Mollie lives in WI - we Cheddarheads must stick together - isn't she adorable, I kept calling her a pocket pal.  Can't wait to see her in Chicago - we share a love of shoes and fashion. 
Where do I start with these 2? They let me live with them when I moved to Denver in 2010 - were ALWAYS there for me, always up for a glass of wine/dinner... they are THE BEST! Love you both!! (PS Mike loves hugs - ha!) I am lucky to say that moving back to Chicago comes with a big plus, Liz's sister Katie (one of my besties from high school) lives close by so now I get to see her for wine and dinner! Yah me!  
The U of Wyoming Crew. Willy - Stacy - Kristin - Wes - Jenn
When I think how long we have all known each other - Stacy (college roomie for awhile and always there for me) was my Bronco buddy and will take over most of my 2013 Season tix and Jenn is one of my besties that has more talent in her pinky than most people will ever have. Can't wait for her to visit this Fall as I've got a list of DIY projects ready.
Stacy, when are you coming this way?? 

Love this pic! Miss her tons and can't wait for her to visit. 

Dave- Jen - myself.  I met Jen through Stacy and am so lucky - she has an amazing attitude and drive for life.  I always feel so refreshed walking away from our lunches or chats. Miss you Jen! 

More Wisco peeps!  Myself - Justina - Jonas... so much fun to hang out with them while in Denver. They got me the best gift - Chicago Magazine.. since I've been gone for almost 3 years it's so helpful to know all the hot spots!! Thank you for your ever amazing energy Justina!! xo
As the watch says.... time to get a move on. It was time to say good-bye, get a good night rest and hit the road. I was heading from Denver to Oshkosh, WI to stay with my dad and stepmom for a few wks until my tenants could get out of my condo. 
Bikes loaded. Gas. Snacks... next stop - Des Moines to stay the night and see my friend Jill - it's been almost 10 years... where does the time go? 

My favorite road trip snacks... have you tried the caramel bugles?? So damn good! 
This is Jill - we became friends in 1997 and instantly I knew she was going to be a friend for life - spent so many fun times, our trip to Florida, being in her wedding and finding her again after all these years.  We met for breakfast at The Cracker Barrel and we saw each other and both stood there crying - I've missed her so much! 
Welcome to Wisconsin! I'm about 3 hours from home and after driving 14 hours.. I can't wait. The only things I asked for - my mom come over to my dads, my dad make his grilled hamburgers and we walk around the block a few times to start catching up. 
These are the best hamburgers you will have - with White Sharp Cheddar, homemade fries and my favorite olive oil dressing on the salad. It was the best dinner and so nice to see my family and catch up in person!!!!! Love you all!

This was in my bedroom when I went to turn in that night. Love my dad! xo

Well, as you can see -Denver was terrific, amazing friends and memories but I was so lucky to spend time in Oshkosh and see my family, friends and spend amazing time with my nieces.
While I was home my best friend Kris' dad passed away - I thank God I was able to see him when I came back, attend the service, and be able to spend time with she & her family! They have been in my life a long time - her dad was an amazing man, kind and I know he's smiling down from Heaven with a Manhattan and watching over everyone! xo

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

New Appliances = Julia Child

     One of my favorite movies has become Julie and Julia - when I moved to Denver and didn't have cable I watched it all the time, whenever it's on TV I stop to enjoy it and when we flew to Rome I brought it with me as my movie of choice (along with Under The Tuscan Sun and With Six You Get Egg Rolls) - sorry, back on track.  When I found out I was moving back to Chicago and into my condo I decided I would make 2013 the Year of the Kitchen Project and so I started saving money for new stainless appliances, new counters, backsplash and cabinets.
     After talking with friends, "pinning" ideas on my Pinterest board, scouring the Internet and going ga-ga over - I was ready to begin.  I knew there was an order to this madness but my appliances had a mind of their own.
     You would think buying appliances would be fun, maybe even adding in some creativity but as the process began I wanted to call up the people who designed these condos 16 yrs ago and ask what they were thinking - every space was just "off" from standard sizing, but that didn't stop me from researching every site until I found exactly what worked with my kitchen and budget.  Hello, Whirlpool, I'm going with your Gold Series.
     The appliances were delivered yesterday and I'm very happy with my choices and already my place looks more fresh and updated. I am so excited with the new stove/oven - it has fun new buttons and a digital pad.  Everyone knows with new appliances must come a fun new dish to cook, so I pulled out my Mastering The Art of French Cooking (by fabulous Julia Child) and thought about the scene from the movie when she and her husband are in the French restaurant and she takes a bite of her fish with creamy sauce and since I had everything in the house -  I decided I'd go for Dover Sole with a Browned Butter Sauce.  I've never attempted this sauce before but heck with butter and lemon how can it be bad!
Yes, it's dated but all that stops today. Good-Bye white appliances, you won't be missed but hello creamy white cabinets - I already started playing with paint samples to see what works best - do you know how many "kitchen whites" are out there... well, don't ask.  
I'm keeping my green as I love the pop of color.  The shelves to the left will come down and stainless from IKEA are going up. 
The microwave is another story - the shelf was built for the standard 1997 model... that will be a search in itself. What do you think about the backsplash - I'm taking comments - it was created by the original owner and is a grout nightmare!!!! I even stumped Ace and The Home Depot with the removal process.
So welcome to the start of my new kitchen - new stainless fridge WITH water and ice! Love! It's so clean and fresh and for people that know me well, yes, I actually went to the grocery store and stocked it so there is now food in my house. 
I've used the dishwasher, not sure I needed to but I'm like a kid with a new toy and wanted to hear how quiet it really is.. .it's quiet and yes, my dishes are now clean and don't need to run it a 2nd time. 
This is my favorite - it has AccuSimmer, AccuBake, the timer works and it heats up quickly - wow! Now I'm really excited to look at next step... granite or sealed concrete, with my condo being an old industrial building and exposed brick - I'm leaning towards the concrete with epoxy.  Thoughts? 
Dover Sole - this won't be "Julia" perfect but I'm sure it's going to taste just grand.  I use coconut oil when cooking - learned to use it while living in Denver, claims to be better for cooking.
Look at that butter!!! I told you, with lemon and butter you can't go wrong.  I also add in a pinch of Ancho Chili Powder.. yum! 
It doesn't look like the movie but the taste is delicious. Cooked the lemon juice until it reduced to about 1T then added in the butter and seasonings. 
Baked the fish for 10 min and POURed the sauce on... I could have licked that plate!  I think Julia would have been proud of my 1st attempt at this fabulous butter sauce.

Well, I'm excited for you to follow me on this journey - Year of the Kitchen has officially started and I'm looking forward to sharing the process as I go forward -
  • Cabinets - What is the best color, creamy white? Do you have a favorite? I like Benjamin Moore's Atrium White but I'm open to ideas
  • Counters - As I stated above, I was set on granite and was looking at Grey Steel, got the quote but now that appliances are in - I'm rethinking my ideas and now leaning towards Sealed concrete - there are so many things you can do with it
  • Backsplash - Keep the current or start the tear process and do something new - subway tile? glass tile? Drywall and color with a Sharpie (are you paying attention and reading this?????) are you? 
My friend Katie in Denver told me about this book over one of our lunches and I finally got around to ordering it - excited to start looking through it tonight.  Congrats to Katie and her husband Rob on the birth of their daughter over the weekend! Can't wait to meet her when I'm visiting in Sept! 

Jenn - I'm hoping to start the cabinets before you visit this Fall - it would be more fun to have you here and just enjoy Chicago, but you know I will need you to skype a few times with tips on how to paint them the right way. 

Enjoy your kitchen! xo

From what I can tell it's going to offer some terrific tips for living a clean life. 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Ciao Italy!

     We've been home a few weeks already but I was going through pics tonight and realized I never posted the rest of the trip.  The Internet was spotty and let's face it, part of vacation is about disconnecting so I gave that a whirl and actually didn't have phone or text while traveling so it made me shut-down and appreciate where I was.  Hands down the best day on vacation was renting the boat/captain to take us to Isle of Capri (did you know we pronounce it incorrectly!)  It was the perfect day - the captain brought Prosecco, fresh fruit and warm towels - what else do you need besides sunshine, friends and a lot of laughing!  Enjoy the rest of our trip!
View from our balcony! The water color amazed me everyday - so blue and inviting! 
This is our villa - perched in the trees.  3 stories, pool and a beautiful view.   Did I tell you that Beyonce and J-Z stayed here? It was a great location to walk down the steps to water and restaurant or a 15 min walk to town. 

Day on the boat - we kept taking photos of the yachts around us - saw one called Diamonds are Forever - and it's for sale. 
This is my sister Wendy - my best friend and one of my very favorite travel partners! She's the most positive person I know and is always smiling. Love her to the moon and back! 

The Green Grotto - our Captain pulled over and told us if we wanted to dive off and swim he'd meet us on the other side.  I'm not the strongest swimmer but it took me 2 seconds to know I'm doing this! In we went - my sister was my biggest cheerleader! BEST part of the day!!!

Until the Captain spotted the jellyfish... a few were stung but I made it onto the boat without a mark.  Still the best moment - look at the color of that water!

Natalie captured my happiness with the camera!  The water was cool but it was worth it and still so fun to say we swam The Green Grotto! 

Sabri and I! We had so much fun and so many giggles on this trip! 
Wendy at our beach side cafe - perfect place to head for our morning Cafe Americano!

In one photo I show me jumping into the ocean and in this one I can tell you my sister and I LOVE Jaws! It's a classic so when we saw this guy in Positano I had to get his picture! 

Isle of Capri - stopped to grab a snack and ended up being my lunch.  Best pasta salad and trying to remake at home. Pasta (did I tell you I bought a pasta maker?), tomatoes, peas, asparagus, fresh mozzarella along with OO, salt and pepper. Delicious!!!

This was my staple everyday - Caprese salad - loved it so much but on the last day the waiter told me "no caprese for you today!"

And we're off to Rome! Jason and I had to share our golden train ticket - we had stopped in Pompeii and were on to our last night in Rome. 

Our last night at Marriott Park Hotel - we stayed here 3 years ago - still received a welcome glass of Prosecco!  2 of my favorite things - espresso and bubbles!

Sabri - Wendy - me - Natalie....can't tell you how much I loved these group of women - we sang, laughed and ate our way along the Amalfi Coast.  

When in Rome... toss a coin in the Trevi Fountain and wish for another trip to Italy!

This was my 2nd trip to Italy in the past 3 years - I would tell everyone to add it to your bucket list!  It's a beautiful country with fabulous food, history and people! As we said throughout our trip - "tippy tippy tay" - That's Amore! xo