Sunday, July 29, 2012

Our own little minion.

Guys. This is my nephew and his new glasses. Our own minion! I just want to kiss him all over!

I've come to test the timbre of my heart.

I'll never forget the first time I heard "Hymn #101." It was 2008, and I was catching up on the latest post from Burgo's Blog - Joe Pug: Nation of Heat. Like many fans, Joe had me from his opening line, "I've come to know the wishlist of my father..." and through every line following.

Thursday, July 26, 2012


Minkaen, Tokyo: 2006. Nikon D70

 "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. ... I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life."
– Henry David Thoreau

A little slice of this would be delicious right now.

Kristen Mrdjanov

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Look at my honesty.

I'll try to be brief, but I just want to cut teeth on something.

I moved to Chicago five years ago to experience “broader culture”.

Maybe you grew up like me: a corn fed, white bread, bible belt, WASP. My hometown has 1800 people, which David and I fondly (honestly …fondly) refer to as “Pleasantville”.  This is the place where children grow under many eyes, and neighbors bring over tomatoes and baked goods ‘just because’.  It is not for love of scenery, ethnicity or culture that people love to live there. It is for community.

All dreams of moving to the city from small town Americana are equal parts vanity and adventure.  It will be new. It will be sweet. This place is too small. I can make it. I can make it on my own.

Once you move away, you still have to eat, pay rent, go to school/work a job.  The reality is, every special snowflake has also moved to the city. The ‘diversity’ that you dreamed of experiencing either comes through spectator experiences or residence in neighborhoods where your leave-the-keys-in-the-ignition hometown self doesn’t necessarily enjoy walking alone at night. There are, however, plenty of opportunities to visit ‘broader culture’ and live in neighborhoods full of people just like you. You know, kind of like what you moved away from. I didn’t realize the irony of this until recently, and I’m half a decade in.

Doughnuts, Part Deux: Do-Rite!

So, Kristen and I decided that since we love donuts/doughnuts so much, it will be no problem doing a series on these specialty shops throughout the city.

For those of you who aren't in Chicago, I'm sorry to tempt you. But at least you'll have an idea of where to go when you visit!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

And God of Summer Days ... Break Me Off A Piece of Paradise

Rachel, here. I stumbled upon this spoken word magician - Miles Hodges - a few months back, and I've still got this playing on the regular. I won't try to decipher "Harlem," here. But. I will say the editing of this video serves as a great inspiration for me. There is just so much overproduced solid crap out there that the general mass digests. But, there's also just as much awesome - like this vid. The digging is half of my fun. I always love seeing videos like this because they're stripped down to their "content" - the king/queen, if you will - which is just Miles, his environment, and his delivery. The nuance. The storytelling. The angles. The pauses... It honors and complements his words. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

They got it wrong: Part #1

Let’s be straight for a second. There are so many ‘Type’ memes/photos out there bearing platitudes for life that are, quite frankly, stupid. Since information and ideas move so fast these day via social media, I feel like I’ve seen more than I can stomach.

The theme behind most of these meme’s are the same. Some of them are nice. Some of them are just plain bad advice. Some teeter on abysmal. The crux of all of them boil down to: your circumstance is not your fault, but, at the same time, you can make anything happen if you just wish/dream/try hard enough. Other people suck most of the time. You probably have no problems, so here’s a reminder that you are worth it. You deserve better. You are a special snowflake.

Guys, really? Really?  I don't know about you, but these are not the things I need most reminded of, or reminded of at all.

So, I took some of Rach's instagram pictures and made some new meme's to hang about.

Instead of: “Be true to who you are”:

Add caption

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Guys. I came home today, and LOOK what David had made me. Just look at it! Yeah. I know. I'm blagging. Sorry. But, I can't help it; he's amazing! He made the stand. He made the canvas. He got the flowers. Seriously, the luckiest.


Monday, July 16, 2012

Goat Cheese Oven-Roasted Tomato Basil Pizza

We’ve said it before: not everyone likes tomatoes. We’ve all had the tasteless, mealy supermarket step-sister of the garden tomato. Her watery mess ruins all parties from salads to sandwiches. She makes small children cry. She crushes the dreams of hopeful dinners in a single bound.

Friends! It doesn’t have to be like this!  Even supermarket tomatoes can woo you (and the picky eaters in your life).

This post is really about pizza. But before pizza, you must have good tomatoes.

A few years ago, Deb at Smitten Kitchen changed my perspective on sub-par tomatoes indefinitely.  She suggested slow-roasting to both preserve garden tomatoes (you can freeze the roasted goodness!), and to transform the mealy, watery mess of the store-bought varietal that is mysteriously always in season. Slow roast those babies, and they become the perfect blend of succulent and tart, rich and creamy.

Oh? What’s that, you say? The tomatoes at the store are 30 cents a pound, orange-yellow, and frankensteinian? Trust me. Buy them. Buy them all. Because when your freezer stash runs out in January, you will cry.


Bruchette alla Romana

Lately, my modus operendi has been lazy cooking. Lazy, lazy, lazy. 

However, lazy doesn’t mean bland. Today is all about my favorite summer fruit: tomatoes.  I know, I know. Not everyone writes love letters about tomatoes. In fact, my husband used to say he disliked tomatoes. But that was before bruchette and slow roasting.

Bruchette is the garden tomato’s super-swag singles party; one of the perfect summer foods. Antipasto? Yes. Pretend lunch? Yes. Snicky snack? Of course.

And when you get really lazy, and can’t finish your bruchetta,  use it to make the best pizza possibly ever.

Though I’ve had the joy of pulling one tomato from the vine, I am a long way from the cart-loads of tomatoes I’m dreaming of in August.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Union Jack: Repurposed Denim Quilt

I have a disdain for the word "craft". Because craft conjures images of thisAnd thisAnd this.  And so many more, I could cry.

EVERY denim repurpose I've seen has been on the wrong side of crafty.

So, imagine my horror when I woke one day to a plethora of blue jeans. I had two equally terrible options. Throw the blue jeans out (or donate)... or carry, like thirty jean butt purses.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Astral Jellies

I paint.  

At one point, I dreamed of having a themed gallery show that looked at the ocean as some strange celestial scene, but Astral Jelly took three years to finish (there were long vacations where he lived behind our couch collecting dust). Just in case this show materializes, however, I'd like to get a head start on inviting you to the opening in 2040. It'll have wine and really swanky food, I promise. And, we'll probably have jet-packs and space dogs by then.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Ugly Duckling

The Pictures that DIDN'T make FB

I’m a sometimes model.  If you’re a friend on Facebook, you’ve maybe seen some of the photos like the ones at the bottom.  I like modeling.  I like wearing pretty clothes and getting my hairs did. But mostly, I like having pictures that I’m not afraid will scar my children.

While these photos are nice, they aren’t exactly representative of my life.  Actually, NOBODY’s FB photos are an accurate representation of their life, which is why studies have shown that the longer someone spends on facebook, the worse they feel about themselves.   I thought about this while finishing up my bike ride this weekend with a fluorescent red face. This was not  facebook-worthy.  You know what we miss out on by editing these juicy details from our timeline? The ability to laugh at ourselves, connect with other people over the painful reality of life, and the ability to move on and get over ourselves.

The best guarantee to maintaining surface-level relationships is never admitting our imperfections, the chinks in our armor, and the things we are most ashamed or embarrassed about. We are all goof-ups. My dirt is just as bad as yours. If you want to talk about it sometime, let’s get coffee. I bet I could learn a lot from you, and maybe spare you some pain by sharing my own mistakes. Mostly, we just want to know each other (all parts of each other), and be known wholly in return. This is what we miss out on when we hide our indignity.

Absent from the internet are pictures during my “growing painfully” years.  You know. The ones you shriek over when your mom inevitably lets utter strangers paw through the photo albums. “Don’t judge me!”, you think. “I’m not that skinny/fat/ugly/blotchy/red/desperate/awkward anymore!”  These are the photos that mysteriously go missing after you realize it’s a parental sifting strategy for future husbands. Looking through my ‘memory book’ is a little like watching the horrifying Michael Jackson aging videos.

We did not have a touching slideshow with Taylor Swift singing softly in the background at our wedding. Partly because my Dad thinks those things are egocentric, and partly because…well, if we selected good pictures from my childhood, my portion of the video would be about three seconds long (David would fare better).

It’s my personal belief that it’s a mom’s job to make sure they’re child goes through a healthy awkward stage. This is when we learn that we are not God’s gift to mankind. That there are other people much better than us out there, but we still have to do our best anyway (Parents: this is something to prepare your children for, NOT protect them from!). That brains and personality are just as important and valuable as knowing how to do your hair. Deep down, we all still feel like an awkward turtle sometimes.




without this:

is NOT the full story.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Venice in Tunisia? Just What Visual Drugstore Ordered.

When people extremely gifted in very specific areas work together to create something huge and totally in left field, I cheer inside. Markos Aristides Kern and his visual design firm of machinists and technologists did just that, creating something impossible: a beautiful ancient city doomed by rising water in the middle of the Saharan Desert.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

RIP: Bananas Foster Cheesecake

Ok. I'm cheating a bit here with the picture (it's not mine), but let me explain why before you run away.

You see, I dropped it. I have this history of desserts on July 4th... last year, my husband and I were riding our scooter to a friend’s house with a peach cobbler bungee-d on the back.  100 yards from our destination, we hit an enormous pothole, and I turned to witness the beautiful cobbler rising before crashing to the ground and sliding like a hockey puck a good thirty feet, straight as an arrow.  In awe, David stuck out his foot and stopped it.  The pyrex (and cobbler!) were virtually unharmed.  We marveled at modern engineering, vowing to write pyrex to tell them how awesome they were. We gleefully bungee-strapped that sucker back on the scooter,  and laughed as we rounded the final corner… only to hear a gooey crunching sound as the pyrex shattered into a billion pieces, and cobbler glass glued itself to the scooter. Pyrex did NOT get a letter.

At least this year we got to try the dessert, which is why I’m still posting the recipe, sans my own picture of this beautiful cheesecake. It was THAT good.

Only 25% of Mr. Cheesecake got consumed (we arrived late, and he was competing with a sexy rival: Ms. Triple Cherry Cheesecake).
I’ll be gone this weekend, and was happy that so much awesome would be left with my husband. I mean, seriously. Wouldn't want to go a night without dessert. In his excitement to be home, Mr. Cheesecake got caught totally off-guard by the sidewalk. A few seconds later, his fate was clinched by a slide down the stairs.  There was mourning, however, he was not followed in death by Ms. Triple Cherry, whom my husband caught in mid-air. Yes, I am that clumsy.  No, I didn’t have anything to drink, but it’s cute you were trying to find an excuse for me. And yes. I tried to save it after a drop on the SIDEWALK because I wasn't willing to say goodbye yet (to it or the time spent making it), and because it is THAT GOOD.  So, all this to say, there wasn't even a slice to photograph. Not. one.

I wanted to pout when I got home, but somehow that didn't seem very grown up. Also, David was so excited to go on the roof to see the fireworks that all our neighbors were shooting off. There was a 360 degree view (and also the loudest fireworks ever produced, thoughtfully shot off ad nauseum by our neighbors. They set off car alarms every. time).

                                        See recipe after the jump...

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Miike Snow: Happy to You

It's the 4th, so it's only fitting that I write about a Swedish band.

Electronica has never been my thing. Then, in 2007, Miike Snow had just enough of the funky Swedish indie-pop-electronica thing going on that it worked for me (and just about everyone else).

Their self-titled album was such a sleeper hit, I was almost positive they'd go the way of MGMT, Carly Rae Jepsen, and to be honest, Gotye, and 
we'd never hear anything worth listening to from them again. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

For the birds.

I used to be good at writing people. Then, I started grad school and all the people in my life stopped getting letters reminding them that I loved them.  It's probably better anyway since my husband will routinely call from the grocery store to remind me that my handwriting is illegible.

Because I knew my handwriting prohibited letter-reading, and because I am a masochist, I would draw pictures to keep my letters company.  Today, I found a copy of two such cards. They make me happy twice over. Once, because I'm reminded of the time I spent with each letter. Twice, because I take some small delight in knowing that while the picture on the front was pretty and was painstaking in its creation, reading my letter inside was probably just as long and painful for the recipients (is that bad?).

By the way, Rachel (the RM to my KM) has handwriting that looks like cool hieroglyphs.

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