Thursday, September 29, 2011

new york or bust

Well folks, it's that time: time for me to head to New York City! I get the honor of visiting one of my dearest friends this weekend in the Big Apple. I've been reading Joanna Goddard's NYC tips all week and I can't wait. I won't be here tomorrow but I'll be back on Monday to share the adventure. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Artisans in our Backyard: Kristi Jacobsen, baker of cakes

Kristi at our wedding with her husband and
 the incredible cake she made us.
Whenever someone shares a memory with Sean and I about our wedding, it inevitably revolves around one of three things: the church, the music, and (perhaps most often) the cake. Our wedding cake was crafted by my eldest sister, Kristi, and everyone keeps telling us it's one of the best cakes they've ever eaten. Growing up, I remember baking with Kristi; She always made the best chocolate chip cookies and she taught me to make buckeyes. The cakes started coming into play not until about six years ago when she showed up to my birthday with a cake frosted to look like a big orange pumpkin, and it was delicious, too! She's always been an avid reader, and says she really started reading and trying recipes back in the fall of 2005. "I was feeling challenged to stop watching TV for a month, and to fill the time I started baking. I started with the Cake Mix Doctor, and soon after I picked up The Cake Bible from the library and read it cover to cover. It's amazing what you can accomplish when you cut out TV." The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum is largely recognized for being an authority on everything from icing to fondant to actually baking cakes. And these recipes aren't for the faint of heart. One reviewer who claims to have culinary training still reports that these cakes take immense precision and can be quite difficult. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


For all you starving artists out there (and even those of you who are fed) I wanted to make you aware of a new tool at your creative disposal. A friend of a friend told me about Foalio last week. It's sort of like LinkedIn for creative types, but with even more features. You can make a professional resume on it and upload a portfolio as well. It even allows you to create "projects" that you are working on, and if you upgrade to pro it enables you to have unlimited portfolio space, be notified of jobs that might fit you sooner, and provides an e-marketplace for your art. If you are a designer of any sort, or even an artist searching for a gig, this isn't a bad place to put yourself out there. It will ideally allow you to find jobs and projects that suit your skill set and guide potential employers to you. There also seems to be a function that helps artists and designers find each other and collaborate. So what are you waiting for? This might help make art your day job, and it definitely beats checking the art/media/design postings on craigslist everyday.

Monday, September 26, 2011

salute to boots

Part of the reason I get so excited when fall comes around is that I finally get to dig my sweaters, scarves, and, most importantly, boots out of the closet. I love dressing for cold weather and tend to get a hankering for a new pair of boots this time of year. Here are the top ten on my list this autumn. -hil

1. Cole Haan Air Kennedy Buckle Boot $398 2. Luxury Jones Boot $438 3. Sorel Tivoli Plaid Boot $110 4. FRYE Owen Crepe Tall Boot $298 5. Keen Snowmass Low Waterproof Boot $129.95 6. Rebels Strada Ankle Boot $59.99 7. Plenty by Tracy Reese Gilda Pump $128.61 8. Sorel Mackenzie Holiday Lace Boot $84.67 9. Capped and Cuffed Booties $158 10. Groundhog Duncan Ankle Boot $145.72

Friday, September 23, 2011

How To: make french press coffee

Not only is french press delicious, it's also the most frugal way to brew coffee. Sean and I spend approximately three cents per cup of coffee in our household. No disposable filters are used, so there's no waste except for the grounds when we're done, and we usually dump those out on the garden as fertilizer. Also, it's an integral part of our morning ritual. Below you will find a brief, comprehensive tutorial on how to make your own french press coffee. All you need is a press, beans, and hot water. Our press is by Bodum, a pretty reputable brand, but you can find presses anywhere housewares are sold. We always buy our beans whole because it tends to taste fresher, but you can buy them from coffee shops pre ground for the french press. Just make sure you specify when you order them. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

by it's cover

This morning while perusing our bookshelf, I came across my copy of The Mysteries of Pittsburgh by Michael Chabon. This was the first book by said author I ever read, and it lead me to read one of my favorite books of all time, also by him: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, which I highly recommend.

I realized today that I might never have come upon either of these books had it not been for Pittsburgh's clever cover design. You see, a clothing store won't make me suddenly loose with my pocketbook. Electronics won't threaten my bank account. But put me in a bookstore and suddenly I have a stack of books I can't live without and I'm ready to blow our budget on them. I just love owning the books I read. I feel quite comforted by them, really. And a smart cover design doesn't hurt things. In fact, unless I'm searching for a certain title, cover design is usually the number one reason I'll select a specific tome off the shelf. This is exactly what happened with Chabon's first novel. And then I read it and liked it and read more.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

today, today

I love my dear husband for many reasons, but one of the reasons is that he is always pursuing being a better man. He reads and listens to blogs, books, and people that will assist him in this pursuit, and often he changes his habits in ways that are hard but ultimately rewarding.

I am not nearly as good at being intentional about this, but I am grateful that he often shares with me the things he hears and reads that he thinks I'll appreciate. One of the things he's been reading about lately and really trying to implement are routines.

Sean reads a blog called the Art of Manliness, a site he was turned on to after reading the book of the same name. The book (and blog) basically detail how to be an upstanding assertive man in our culture, and I support that 100%. There's advice on everything from how to throw a punch (only if absolutely necessary, of course) to how to braid your daughter's hair. Recently he read a post on the importance of having daily routines and, realizing that I would benefit, in turn read it aloud to me.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

the laundry

This week our dryer broke whilst I was in the process of doing the laundry. I called our landlord and he came to check it out and fiddle with the breaker box but to no avail. Something was amiss and couldn't be fixed for at least another 24 hours until the repairman could come. It was surprising how quickly our little house transformed itself into what looked like an old time Brooklyn rooftop with a few strands of twine stretched through our living room and everything from boxers to button-downs clipped up and happily flapping as I bustled about. As I hung up all our clothes (which is much more time consuming than just throwing them into a big metal drum) I daydreamed about what sort of laundry machines I want one day rather than the 1980's dinosaurs in our basement. My conclusions after the jump!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Chicago part deux: the mini-film

This past weekend in Chicago I tried out the Super 8 app on my iPhone. It was actually really fun to learn to use and nice to have another way to document things besides photographs. You can use different lenses and you actually navigate the camera in the app as though it's a three dimensional object. The app claims that it allows you to edit video footage on your phone, which is true in the sense that you can delete and rearrange shots, but I exported it to iMovie to make it go a little quicker and to add some music. It was fun to see this mini documentary of our lives take shape, because the weekend was very fast; we saw a lot of folks and went a lot of places, but there was so much beauty to it all. I think seeing it crammed into film reflects that nicely. The music is by Anathallo, a (now) Chicago-based outfit. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Chicago + Renegade Craft Fair

Sean at Prasino in Wicker Park
Sorry all for the unannounced days off. I was busy preparing for art classes to start and Sean and I took a whirlwind trip to Chicago this weekend, and boy do I have a treat for you. We went out to brunch with the fam on Sunday (this cute spot in Wicker Park called Prasino. I had eggs benedict on a pretzel bun with black truffle hollandaise. Truffle hollandaise! Genius!) and what do you know but the Renegade Craft Fair was going on right out front. It made parking a bear and complicated things, but I was so thrilled to see this particular arts festival going on. Renegade Handmade might be my favorite store on the planet, and every time I visit Chicago without making a stop there I weep bitterly. Well, I'm being hyperbolic, but I do love it, so imagine my glee at discovering my favorite store blown up into an entire street fair!

The Renegade Craft Fair is Chicago's largest indie and DIY craft event. Artisans from all over the place set up tents and hawk their goods. It also takes place in Austin, LA, San Francisco, London, and Brooklyn every year. We got to peruse the fair for a bit and there were so many beautiful things to look at! I probably could have blown our whole budget for the month on necklaces with mini telescopes dangling from them or handmade prints to go on the wall but I restrained myself. It was a difficult decision, of course, because sometimes no groceries for a week seems a fair tradeoff for some beautiful art. Maybe next year I'll take some treasures home with me. Read on for highlights after the jump!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

best brews to warm your bones.

Continuing in my adoration of fall, I recalled another craft that really comes alive this time of year: brewing! Sean and I really love going up to Maine Street Gourmet and splurging on a new bottle of craft beer that we have never tried. Tis the season for Oktoberfest editions and Pumpkin ales, and I know from watching our friend Brian Quay toil over his home brews that this truly is an art form. A lot of breweries release seasonal ales that are only available this time of year and are quite scrumptious. In honor of these, I've rounded up the beverages this crisp air really gets you hankering for. Enjoy!

Dogfish Head Punkin Ale
"A full-bodied brown ale with smooth hints of pumpkin and brown sugar. We brew our Punkin Ale with pumpkin meat, organic brown sugar and spices. This is the perfect beer to warm-up with, as the season cools."

Avery Kaiser Imperial Oktoberfest Lager
"The Kaiser once said, "Give me a woman who loves beer and I will conquer the world." If the Kaiser and his significant other had tipped this bottle, we'd all be "sprechenden Deutsch!" We took all that is good in a traditional Oktoberfest - gorgeous, deep copper sheen, massive malty backbone and spicy, floral, pungent noble hops - then intensified each into this, an Imperial Oktoberfest."

Muskoka Harvest Ale

"The pilgrim of our seasonal beer endeavour. Now in its 2nd year, this Harvest Ale marks the end of the growing season and the gathering of crops from the fields. Brewed using premium local ingredients, it has a rich malt backbone and is dry hopped for a subtle grassy character reminiscent of the harvest."

"This beer begins in spring when oat seeds are sown as soon as the soil can be worked. Meanwhile, select types of barley are planted with hopes that Mother Nature will be kind. Our brewers wait patiently until the legumes are mature and ready for the scythe. Upon delivery to the brewery, these ingredients are mixed together in the mash tun where they steep, creating a rich molasses-like liquid. Spicy hops are boiled with the thick brew, giving balance and complexity. Brewers yeast feasts upon the rich sugars, concluding its transformation into oatmeal stout."

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

an autumnal salute

Today, though it may not have been the official equinox, felt like the first day of fall. It was about 60 degrees fahrenheit all day and it got me inspired and so excited for fall! So here is my ode to Autumn: cozy beds, scarves and boots, and anything woodsy. Enjoy!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Artisans in our Backyard: Becky Maglich is a Gardener extraordinaire.

Becky with her basket: ready for the harvest.
Last Friday morning I had the unique pleasure of visiting Becky Maglich in her garden. Becky and her family live a few blocks away from us. They were the couple with whom we did our premarital counseling, and her husband Jeff officiated our wedding. I wanted to do a segment on gardening because I feel it takes a lot of imagination to garden and it also brings creative fulfillment to many people, especially in the way that you get to see the fruits of your labors and enjoy them. Unfortunately, our small garden consists merely of four tomato plants in a bucket right now, and they are just starting to produce since groundhogs mowed them down all summer. I needed to call in a ringer; someone with a true green thumb and a joy of gardening. That person was Becky.

More about the beautiful Maglich garden after the jump!

Thursday, September 1, 2011


Today as I was trying to sort through some old boxes I found these great drawer knobs I bought on sale at anthropologie a few months back. I have nothing to use them on (yet) but I am quite smitten with the map craze that's going on these days. In fact, this got me thinking about all the other places maps have been cropping up lately. I mean, I used maps to wrap a lot of gifts this Christmas. The bottom line is a map has great detail and color and can add that perfect vintage flair to a design. It can really make a room. Here are a few new ways you can introduce them to your own home: