Friday, December 30, 2011

Home for the Holidays

I've been very fortunate to spend a good chunk of time at home this holiday season. (Thank you, Employer, for being closed between Christmas and New Years.) The theme of the holidays? Eat, drink and be merry, of course.

My nephew, Westley, is just learning how to do the "eating" part.

Basically, we all just sit around and watch him. Not only is he adorable (and knows it), but it's just fascinating to watch someone learn how to eat. He loves apples and rosemary-flavored Triscuits. Fancy, no?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Holiday Merriment

As some of you know, I've been doing part-time work for Sandbox Industries, an incubator/venture capital firm here in Chicago. Sandbox is a pretty incredible place for many reasons, not the least of which being that it treats its employees well. On Thursday, we were encouraged to take a break for the sake of some holiday festivities.

I bring you my 2011 gingerhome:

Bonus: midday sugar rush

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Time to Trim the Tree

After waaaaay too many years (six) of settling for a tiny three-foot Christmas tree, we finally have room for a full-size beauty!

We opted for a pre-lit tree. Step one: read directions. (Actually, I think we plugged in the bottom part, just to make sure it worked. We held our breath in a moment of Clark-Griswold-esque anticipation.)

We got our first "family" ornament as part of an engagement gift from my family.

Ta da!

Happy holidays, one and all!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Good news!

Great news, friends! Luke proposed last night...and I said yes!

After 11 years of dating, Luke and I are officially engaged. When I came home from work, he had decorated our apartment in a very festive, autumnal theme. He passed it off casually, saying that he wanted to decorate for Thanksgiving, since we didn't get to decorate for Halloween. Fair enough, I thought.

Then, he pointed out the little pumpkin he'd gotten at Crate & Barrel. I opened the top of it...and voila! The ring. And it's a beauty! We are ecstatic and can't wait to celebrate with everyone!

Monday, October 31, 2011

And then this happened...

Luke and I have always been big fans of Halloween. What's not to love? As a candy. As an "adult"...excuse to dress up and go out.

For the past several years, we've deck out our apartment with spooky decor, filled candy bowls to the brim, and invited pals over for a fun time (costumes required). However, this year, Luke spent most of the weekend studying for his first round of midterms, so we decided to responsible adults and not throw a party.

Still, it was Halloween, so we donned our first "couples" costume and headed out for our first Halloween in Chicago.

Luke's 'Ron Burgundy' 'stache was definitely a hit.

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Sweet Alliance

I hate to brag, but Wicker Park is pretty much the best when it comes to 'hoods in Chicago. Every day, I discover new reasons to love this place, including the perfect neighborhood cafe: Alliance Bakery. You cannot walk by without stopping to admire the jaw-dropping cakes in the window. 

After walking past (and drooling) several times, I finally got around to trying the amazing treats, thanks to the suggestion by Luke's sister. The bakery features European pastries and desserts, each one looking more delicious than the last. After a few minutes of deliberation, we settled on a carrot cake cupcake, topped with creamy cream cheese frosting and a chocolate salted caramel ganache cupcake...and a ginger snap...and a walnut raspberry cookie. (For the record, that's pretty much how we ordered, too. "Is there anything else I can get you?" "Um, yeah, we'll take a ginger snap." "And a walnut raspberry cookie." "And we'll try that salted caramel cupcake, too." We were thisclose to ordered a vanilla cake pop and pumpkin spice macaroon but decided to wait until next time.)

Friends & time you come to visit, we are going to Alliance. You'll thank me. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Running Chicago

My parents were here in Chicago this weekend, because my dad ran the Chicago Marathon on Sunday. He has completed over a dozen marathons now, but after every race, I'm still amazed by his strength, determination and endurance.

Plus, as someone who has completed three marathons, I truly respect the effort that goes into each race. Since I wasn't running this year, I decided to make a sign the night before--not only for encouragement, but also so that my dad could see us in the sea of spectators. He seemed to appreciate it at mile 18!

When my dad passed, I turned the sign around to reveal my words of "encouragement" for the other runners: Run like you stole something! Lots of people had a good chuckle while others were 100% zoned in on finishing and were barely looking around at that point. I've been there. I get it.

The marathon is really an incredible feat. It feels weird to not be training this fall (I continue to recover slowly from a nagging foot injury) but I hope to be pounding the pavement come spring. In the mean time, I really enjoyed this video with footage from last year's Chicago Marathon (which both of my parents completed!). It truly conveys the sense of excitement and anxiety you feel before, during and after the marathon. Take a peek:

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Warming Up at Hot Chocolate

Luke and I always like to celebrate birthdays with a special night out. This year has been no exception. We celebrated my birthday last month at Chicago q, a "modern urban BBQ experience," with mouth-watering ribs and the best honey cornbread I've ever had.

Yesterday, we celebrated Luke's birthday in a similarly fine fashion. We ventured north on Damen to Hot Chocolate, a beautiful restaurant specializing in American contemporary cuisine and--you guessed it--desserts. Owner Mindy Segal has been honored by the James Beard Foundation several times, and we knew we were in for a real treat.

We started with mussels, but these were not your everyday fare. Rather, they were made with bacon, shallots, cream and PBR. A hipster's dream. Next, I enjoyed a beautifully prepared flank steak. But I must admit, I was thinking of hot chocolate and desserts the entire time.

After toiling over several hot chocolate options--all of which sounded delectable--I finally decided on the Medium hot chocolate: milk chocolate with a touch of dark chocolate and caramel. It was served with a cube of marshmallow on the side, which I promptly submerged, delicately of course, into my mug of goodness.

Courtesy: Popsugar Chicago
As if that wasn't enough, dessert arrived! Normally, I am not the biggest fan of sorbet at a restaurant (when so many other delicious options present themselves). But it came highly recommended by the server, and I'm so glad we listened. The four flavors--nectarine, concord grape, cantelope, and apple--all tasted exactly like the fruit. I don't know how they do it. And for a more decadent choice, we got a red velvet cake taht was flavored with raspberries to create the red color (no food coloring here!).

To put it simply, I was in heaven. And I'll be back.

In the mean time, I will attempt to recreate Mindy's Banana Brioche Monkey Bread, a recipe that she shared on Martha Stewart in 2010.

Stay tuned for the results!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Settling in...

I have officially been in Chicago for over a month. Wow. Given that I spent much of August traveling around seeing family and friends in Wisconsin, I am finally starting to feel like we are settling in to our new apartment and our new city. 

Chicago is such a great city. It has a big city atmosphere downtown, but you can find a much slower pace in the outer neighborhoods. We are living in Wicker Park, and I couldn't be happier with our decision to live here. Bonus: you can get to the beach in minutes.

Now that we are actually here, I will be making my way around, discovering all the hidden gems. Stay tuned for exciting updates!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

One Fine Afternoon in Door County

One afternoon, Luke and I were planning to hit up Appleton's "cheap seats" movie theater to catch up on some movies that everyone has seen but me (will I ever see Bridesmaids??) when it occurred to me that such a beautiful day should not be wasted in a movie theater. So instead we packed up the car and headed north.

I hadn't been to the beautiful destination that is Door County in four long years--it was one of the last things I did before moving to New York--and Luke hadn't been there since his good ol' days at Jellystone Campground. It was about time we made the trip.

His parents decided to join us, and we all voted for a pitstop at the Door Peninsula Winery before we reached Fish Creek. After a few tastings, we decided on the seasonal Hallowine!

Next we made our way through gorgeous Peninsula State Park and dipped our toes in the water.

Later, we headed over to Pelletier's for their infamous fish bowl, per my mom's recommendation.

The fish were caught earlier that day and were about to be our dinner.

Into the cauldron they go.

And then...BOIL OVER!

Our first boil over was quite a delicious success! We'll be back, hopefully sooner rather than later this time.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Best birthday ever

One of the best reasons to move back to the Midwest was to be closer to our families. After only being in Chicago for less than a week, I was thrilled that my parents were able to drive down for my birthday (no more airplanes!). Then, at the last minute, I found out my sister-in-law and nephew were able to come as well! 

Westley was born back in late February, and due to the distance, the last (and only) time I had seen him was when he was three weeks old. Needless to say, seeing him--along with Nelle and my parents--on my birthday was the best present a girl could ask for. W has turned into such a little man.

Well, hello there!

Army crawl!


W says, "Ok really? Enough of the pictures"

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The City Dweller's New City

Fear not, loyal readers. My departure from New York does not mean the end of The City Dweller. I am moving to another amazing, fast-paced city with plenty of restaurants, events and sites waiting to be discovered by yours truly. 

Chicago, here I come! 

Monday, August 1, 2011

So Long, New York!

The time has come. After four amazing, eventful, life-changing years, I am leaving the city of New York.

I created this blog just before I moved to New York in 2007 and used it as a way to ease my family and friend's nerves and prove that I was surviving. Eventually, it evolved into something more--a place to document my life in the city.

As Luke and I packed everything up, it was incredible to reflect upon all the amazing things we had seen, done and experienced as young New Yorkers. We went to wonderful restaurants, traveled to incredible destinations and...

...saw the Pope
...worked with Tony Dungy
...had Thanksgiving for two (a couple times)
...saw the Housewives
...saw a Yankees game in a luxury suite (twice!)
...waited as the President's motorcade passed
...attended our first black-tie event
...ran the New York City marathon
...survived blizzards
...ventured out to the Hamptons

and so much more. What a journey it's been.

Farewell, to our friends and the beautiful city of New York. I'll miss you and hope to see you soon!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Culinary Treasures

Here's just a snapshot of our tasty food adventures in Europe. Enjoy!


Seafood crostini

Olive assortment


Chocolate croissant

Homemade croquettes

Spicy "chips"

Tomato bread

Calamari Rome Style

The Cow that Laughs!

Mojitos at the House of Barcardi

Cod fritters

Sweets galore

Take your pick!

Goat cheese salad


Rose wine from the Provence region

Cassoulet, take two

Filet with rice and roasted tomato

Creme brulee

Cheeseburger on the boardwalk

Delicious French press coffee


Nutella & banana crepe


Cafe au lait
Bon appetit!