Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Chicago Lately...

skyscraper msmr
moroccan downtown
That day when the lighting was spectacular downtown / Seeing MS MR killing it on stage with my roommate / Very authentic Algerian restaurant called Icosium Kafe - great tagines and crepes!
window box
Window boxes here never disappoint!
ps
...and the public schools too - most of the ones I have seen have gorgeous mosaic murals on the facade

My parents were in town a few weeks ago which meant lots of exploring and good food. We did the architectural boat tour, saw a show at Second City, hopped around different neighborhoods, enjoyed authentic deep dish and Chicago-style hot dogs. Their first trip to see me was definitely a success and we had lots of good bonding time! They say they are coming again in February for God knows what reason -  I think they really want to experience the cold and wind and snow for themselves I guess? But it will be nice to have them here nonetheless.

Other than them coming to town, I've been busy with work and my new set of improv and comedy writing classes. I really am liking my fellow students and they seem to have a sense of camaraderie in the form of heading to a bar after class to get to know each other better. This is  exactly what I wanted my experience at Second City to be like, and it's starting to happen. I am slowly, but surely, getting a social life back. 
navy pier hot dog
pumpkin marg andersonville
Navy Pier / Finally had my first Chicago style hot dog from Portillo's / Pumpkin Margarita with a Salted Bacon Maple Syrup rim from Antique Taco - WHY HAVE I NEVER THOUGHT OF THIS! /  Brimfield in Andersonville is like walking into a Wes Anderson Christmas movie 
asian
Asian parasol alley in Wicker Park
Ukrainian church red
Walking around Ukrainian Village, you really feel like you are in another country
canopy
Canopy of green on my walk to work
mint tea fallish Ukrainian village window boxes
Moroccan Mint Tea / changing leaves / a church in Ukrainian Village / yet another impressive window box
cultural center
Chicago Cultural Center, was a historical gem that my mom and I stumbled across, will definitely be returning

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Mixtape Monday: Halloween III

Here's a creepy, indie Halloween playlist to serve as a soundtrack for any of your costume making/pumpkin carving needs:

1. Bones - MS MR
2. ZVVL - CHVRCHES
3. Under The Earth - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
4. Bedroom Hymns - Florence + the Machine
5. Back to Black - Beyoncé & André 3000
6. Teenage Eyes - Ex Libras
7. Toxic - Yael Naim
8. Hudson - Vampire Weekend
9. White Foxes - Susanne Sundfør
10. Together - The xx
11. What's A Girl To Do? - Bat for Lashes
12. Dark Doo Wop - MS MR
13. Human Fly - Nouvelle Vague
14. Leave My Body - Florence + the Machine


more scary mixtapes --- Halloween I  |  Halloween II

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Curried Pumpkin Soup

Curried Pumpkin Soup
I'm on a pumpkin binge over here - having it as many ways as I can salty or sweet! 
This soup recipe is one that I will be making again for sure - and it was so easy to make too! Feel free to add some black beans or shredded roasted chicken for some extra lean protein :)

Curried Pumpkin Soup
(recipe adapted from here)

6 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon sriracha, or more to taste
2- (15oz) cans pumpkin puree
2 cans light coconut milk
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons salt, more to taste
roasted pumpkin seeds and toasted coconut for garnish 

1. In a pot over medium heat, saute the chopped onion and garlic until soft. 
2. Stir in curry, cumin and sriracha. Then add in coconut milk and pumpkin and cook until warmed through. 
4. Stir in water and taste and season with salt if needed. Serve with roasted seeds and toasted coconut.

Serves 8

This soup pairs well with these Pumpkin and Sweet Onion Quesadillas
Curried Pumpkin Soup

an autumn playlist for all your pumpkin cooking (from this mixtape):

Friday, October 25, 2013

Halloween Pins {Pinterest}

above: {pin it / source}
below: {pin it} // Candy Apples {pin it / source}
above: {pin it / source} // below: {pin it / source}
 I am loving the fact that I live in a residential, yuppie area of Chicago with lots of young families, because it means one thing: lots of fun Halloween and fall decorations. People are really getting into it here - I am impressed! It makes me excited to see what our street will look like for Christmas...
but for now, enjoy some Halloween inspiration off my Pinterest board

What Halloween decorations/food have you made this year?
above: {pin it} // Halloween Muddy Buddy Mix {pin it / source}
below: {pin it / source}
above: Halloween Slutty Brownies {pin it / source} // {pin it / source}

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Mixtape Monday: Workout 3.0

A bad-ass, energetic playlist for your next cardio workout:

1. Work B**** - Britney Spears (Her video for this super motivating song is DYNAMITE.)
2. Change Your Life (Feat. T.I.) - Iggy Azalea (This white, Aussie model turned Southern rapper is my new favorite person. Seriously, I cannot get her songs out of my head. Her videos are gangster gorgeous.)
3. Murder - Justin Timberlake (part two from his 20/20 album)
4. Grammy (Soulja Boy Cover) - Purity Ring
5. Doin' It Right - Daft Punk (features Panda Bear from Animal Collective)
6. TKO - Justin Timberlake (it's like 2007 all over again)
7. Renaissance Girls - Oh Land
8. Strong Hand - CHVRCHES (from their debut album, which you really need to listen to)
9. Bounce - Iggy Azalea (watch the Bollywood- inspired video)
10. What I Like - Charli XCX
11. We Sink - CHVRCHES
12. Cast Away - Strange Talk


for more exercise:  Workout 1.0  |  Workout 2.0

Friday, October 18, 2013

Autumn Quinoa Bowl with Crispy Kale, Butternut Squash & Dried Figs

Autumn Superfood Bowl 
Y'all, this is seriously one of the best dishes I have ever made. 
Bitter-crisped kale, topped with warm quinoa, roasted butternut squash, peppers, and sweet dried figs. Finished with some roasted pumpkin seeds. So many flavors and textures going on at once. It. was. awesome. Super healthy and filling.
Here's how to make it:

Autumn Quinoa Bowl with Crispy Kale, Butternut Squash & Dried Figs
1 cup red quinoa (or whatever type you have on hand)
2 cups water
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 -12 oz bags ready-to-use cubed butternut squash *get 'em at Trader Joes* (or 6 cups if you're peeling and cutting a butternut squash yourself)
sea salt and pepper
 crushed red pepper
cinnamon
extra virgin olive oil
10 oz bag kale
 balsamic vinegar
1 cup chopped dried figs
roasted pumpkin seeds

1. Cook quinoa per directions on box. 
2. Toss red bell pepper and squash with salt and pepper, 1/2 tsp or more of crushed red pepper, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 3 TBL extra virgin olive oil on a baking sheet. Roast at 425 degrees for about 40 min, stirring along the way. 
3. Toss kale with 6 TBL extra virgin olive oil and 6 TBL balsamic vinegar, and spread out evenly over  baking sheet. Sprinkle with sea salt and bake at 425 for about 15 min (this might take a few batches - if you're not going to serve it all at once, just refrigerate the kale and make a new batch with every leftover).
4. Stir together cooked quinoa, roasted peppers and squash, and dried figs until well combined. 
5. In each serving bowl, fill with crisped kale to the top, then top with warm quinoa mixture, sprinkle with roasted pumpkin seeds. 

Serves 6-8
Autumn Superfood Bowl

Here's some Autumnal music to play while you're cooking (from this playlist):

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Medusa Halloween Costume

medusa halloween costume
In the past few Halloweens I have been: Amy Winehouse, Dia de Los Muertos, a black and white silent film star, and Medusa. 
Junior year of college, I put together this super simple costume of a green Grecian style dress, gladiator sandals, gold jewelry, and a lot of little rubber snakes bobby pinned into my hair. Topped off the look with some metallic green eye shadow, gilded nails, and a stare that could turn men to stone.

I am starting to get to work on this years costume (I always keep it a mystery), and depending on how many nights I go out, I might have to revisit some old costumes to switch things up. 

What has been your favorite Halloween costume thus far?
medusa halloween costume medusa halloween costume

Here are some creepy indie tunes to get you in the Halloween mindset:

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Mixtape Monday: Autumnal

farmer's market farmer's market
farmer's market farmer's market
I must say I have really been doing a good job this year about celebrating/making the most out of Fall -   I incorporate pumpkin into at least 2 of my meals (today I had it 4 times) and I finally went to the farmer's market downtown and brought home these warty gourds and honey crisp apples. 
This week especially, the air has become crisper and the trees more golden. I cannot wait to see how Autumn looks on Chicago during these next few weeks! 

These are some songs that I love listening to while cooking up something involving pumpkin:

1. Walking - The Dodos
2. The Box - Johnny Flynn
3. Vagabond - Wolfmother
4. There Goes The Fear - Doves
5. Bracing for Sunday - Neko Case
6. This is Not a Test - She & Him
7. Oh My God, Whatever, Etc.  - Ryan Adams
8. Earthly Bodies - J. Tillman
9. Guillermo Arrives at the Party on the North Face - Meryll
10. Wake Me Up - Norah Jones
11. What Light - Wilco
12. Called Home - Over the Rhine
13. Never Going Back - Samantha Crain
14. Take Me Home, Country Roads - Brandi Carlile

Friday, October 4, 2013

Cherry Coconut Pistachio Granola

Cherry Coconut Pistachio Granola
It's been a long time since I've baked up some homemade granola. I always forget how easy it is and how it makes the kitchen smell so heavenly. This granola combination has been on my mind for a while, so glad I finally got around to making it. Keep in mind that this recipe isn't as sweet as your store bought ones, but I guarantee it's healthier - especially with the chia seed addition. 

Cherry Coconut Pistachio Granola
1 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
4 cups oats
1 cup unsalted shelled pistachios 
1 1/2 tablespoons chia seeds
1/4 tsp salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
dash nutmeg
1/4 cup water
2/3 cup honey
1/2 cup coconut oil
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 1/4 chopped dried cherries

1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
2. Combine coconut, oats, pistachios, and chia seeds in a large bowl.
3. In a small saucepan mix salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, water, honey, maple syrup and coconut oil and bring to a boil. Pour over dry ingredients and toss make sure everything is evenly coated.
4. Spread mixture on a cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes, stirring every so often, until granola is dry and golden.
5. Let cool and stir in dried cherries - can stay in an airtight container for over a week!
Cherry Coconut Pistachio Granola

see also:

Thursday, October 3, 2013

5 Autumn Beauty Essentials

5 Autumn Beauty Essentials
These are some main players in my beauty routine at the moment:

Pssssst! Instant Dry Shampoo for Wavy or Curly Hair
Because I only wash my hair once a week (curly/frizzy white girl hair problems) I own about 3 different dry shampoos, for different purposes and effects. I really like the lightweight quality of this formula and how it is truly invisible, because nothing is worse than looking like you're going grey at 24. 

Elizabeth Arden 8-Hour Cream Lip Protectant Stick Sheer Tint in Berry
I believe I have found my everyday, signature lip color. I am on my third tube of this stuff and I use it several times a day. It's a super creamy, heavily tinted lip balm that isn't drying like lipstick or sticky like gloss. It's also has SPF 15, if that matters to you (hopefully that does). They come in so many lovely colors, but my favorites are this coraly-red one, Berry, and a merlot colored one called Plum. I'll stock up on these whenever a department store has a free gift deal going on. 

Organix Luxurious Moroccan Argan Creme Shampoo
Because of my aforementioned dry hair, this shampoo has really been helping in moisturizing and conditioning my mane. I am a huge fan of argan and Moroccan oil on my dry hair, so it in a shampoo form is even better!

Marc Jacobs Dot Eau de Parfum
This is my second Marc Jacobs scent, the first being Daisy. I am a sucker for his creative packaging and adorable perfume bottles, but this fragrance really did speak to me. It's youthful, fresh, interesting and slightly floral. 

the Balm Mary-Lou Manizer
This is my first ever highlighter powder, and boy do I love it. I brush it on my cheekbones, nose ridge and the middle of my lips for a glowing, Hollywood look. You can also use it as eyeshadow. The warm, shimmery beige color looks good on everyone - it really can show off your best features!

What are some of your Fall beauty essentials?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Mixtape Monday: Ballet Class

vintage mom
I found this vintage gem while going through moving boxes this summer. The little ballerina in the middle is my mom. 

When you start taking dance classes as a little girl, you always start with ballet. You must learn the fundamentals and techniques that you will use for most different styles of dance. Even at a young age, I never cared for my ballet classes, I just wanted to do the fun stuff like jazz and tap, which eventually turned into modern and hip hop for me. Ballet just never has matched my personality, whereas modern - which basically refutes all formal training and technique - really understood me. And I it.  
I have never regretted not going through with all the rigorous training that goes along with being a ballerina, but I can still totally appreciate the art and dedication. And the music. 

All these songs remind me of being at the barre:
1. Ottoman - Vampire Weekend
2. Pretty Good Year - Vitamin String Quartet
3. White Houses - Vanessa Carlton
4. You to Thank - Ben Folds
5. Pickpocket - Kate Nash
6. Young Lion - Vampire Weekend
7. Fairweather Friend - Vanessa Carlton
8. Opus 23 - Dustin O'Halloran
9. Recieves - Keith Kenniff
10. Endless Sleep - Sucre
11. Old Skin - Ólafur Arnalds & Arnor Dan
12. We Move Lightly - Dustin O'Halloran
13. After the Curtain - Beirut
14. Sink Ships - Jónsi

This piece that has been circulating the internet lately is absolutely stunning. 

first position, second position:
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