Sunday, October 2, 2011

I am a horrible blogger

There I said, and it's true. I have no rebuttal.

I have still been biking to work. Believe it or not, I have been tracking it too. The thing is I realized that since it has became part of my "daily" routine (at least when the weather and work cooperate!), there isn't a whole lot to report. It's the same distance every day. More or less, I am going to same speed. And, since it is more of a routine, the ride has become less interesting.

In fact, there hasn't really been much of a reason to report on my rides. The only thing I could have wrote about--that, mind you, I still feel horrible about--is that I caused a little girl to fall off her bike. And, cry. This is hardly something I would consider a "key stat".

So, as stated above -- I am a horrible blogger. I'm not promising I am going to get any better, but I am say that when I do write I am going to try to make it count. pm and I have been doing some "new homeowner" things around the house as of late -- painting, organizing, hanging artwork and changing around furniture. I am hoping that in the next month or so we will have at least one of these project complete. I can share it at point.

I am also embarking on an exciting project with my bff/cousin/soul sister. There will be something to report out on this very soon. We're hoping it will be a big splash (and by splash, I mean lots of fun & tons of laughs for all). More to come.

Although, it won't be tomorrow. Or next week. :)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Bike Challenge, Week 2

I had thought it was going to much more difficult to get back up on my bike after having the weekend off. Happy to admit, I was pleasantly surprised.

My legs no longer feel like wet noodles. I am starting to notice that my arms and abs are getting a good workout now too. My forearms are tight; must have something to do with my grip. I feel like I can actually think about things other than biking, gears and the route now.

'Da stats:
  • 17 miles
  • Average biking time: 45 minutes (darn sidewalk construction!)
  • 1 woman biking with skirt and bonnet sighting
  • 1 pimped out Smart Car. By "pimped out" I mean covered in graffiti art. Rather cool actually.
  • 1 young boy riding a girl's bike (my guess: his sister got a new bike)
  • ROI: $4.50
Yay -- my bike savings at work: I got a new helmet (Bell Faction) so that I cannot be missed. It's bright blue and pretty darn styling. Again an advancement from a previously worn helmet.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Bike Challenge, Day 4

I know it's belated, but it's posted.

Friday's bike ride was my best yet. I upped it up a gear and was cruising. Taking a day off -- Thursday--to recoup was such a good idea. My early week soreness has gone away and I have to admit that day by day I am feeling much stronger.

As I go into the weekend, I plan to take it easy so I can be refreshed to begin it all over again on Monday. My goal is to (whenever possible) bike 4 days a week.

Here are my stats:
  • 17 miles
  • Average biking time: 43 minutes
  • No profanity.
  • One crazy man with an umbrella telling me where to cross the street. (Hello, it's a bike path!)
  • One deer sighting. (Yes, for real. I thought someone was being clever by putting a plastic lawn deer in the park, but alas, no it was real. Kind of cool, but also a little scary.)
  • ROI: $4.50

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Bike Challenge, Day 3

I thought I was going to die on the way to work this morning. Going to bed late coupled with a rich dinner (kudos to Goose Island/Time Out Chicago & Piccolo Sogno), made for a darn good workout. Aside from the fact that I felt like I could have walked faster, I actually made very good time. Must mean my muscles are gaining strength and doing the work, regardless of what my brain thinks.

My note to self today is: Try to go to bed earlier. Riding when tired (plus sore from previous two days) makes for a hard kickoff to the day.

All considering, I had a very smooth (minus one hiccup) ride home. I am starting to feel much more confident on the bike and started to notice that I don't have to work quite as hard to move as I did on Monday.

Today was a huge success -- I discovered the best route (there and back) for keeping off busy streets and gravel paths. These options do add a little more mileage, but don't add more travel time. I am hoping that as I continue biking more and more I can also find some shortcuts options.

Anyway, enough of that. Here's the stats:

  • 18 miles
  • Average biking time 47 mins
  • No bugs eaten, no cat calls. Must be a Monday thing.
  • No profanity.
  • Number of hiccups: 1 (due to lack of balance)
  • Number of new bruises: 1
  • Traffic analysis: Congested. Way more traffic when crossing streets today, way more.
  • ROI: $4.50
As of right now, I am taking a day off tomorrow. I figure I may occasionally need one day a week to relax & regroup.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Bike Challenge, Day 2

I had thought that today was going to be a lot harder than it was -- this is not to say that I did not struggle (especially on the way home!), but I did see a small gain in speed. Woot, woot.

Before I continue, I wanted to explain my tracking methodology -- for the moment I am using "Cardio Trainer" app. I can choose my workout (biking) and it GPS tracks where I am and my speed. It also gives me breakout interval times. Over time I especially think this will be a cool feature -- provided I do indeed get faster. I admit the app is a little 'kitchy'; at the end of every workout it tells me how many pieces of fruit I have burned off. I guess it's a good thing to be able to put a calorie amount to the burn off in terms of food. Now if I only I ate 6-9 pieces of fruit a day ;).

I did really well on the way to work. On the way home I felt like I was dragging the whole way. Bypassing lunch and then riding 8 miles was not a good idea. Note to self: Eat lunch tomorrow!

My daily stats are as follows:
  • 18 miles round-trip (getting sidetracked added 1 mile)
  • Average biking time: 43 mins
  • Number of bugs eaten while riding: 0
  • Number of cat calls: 0
  • Number of four letter words uttered: 1
  • Number of teenager couples making out on hood of car: 1
  • Number of ice cream trucks: 1
  • ROI: $4.50

Monday, August 15, 2011

Bike Challenge

I am going to ignore the fact that it has been forever and a day since either pm or I made an update to our blog. It's not for a lack of desire, it's completely for lack of time. Our new home has been a swinging door for visitors, which at times make an escape to write rather (if not completely) difficult. Anyway, we live in the now - so let's begin.


For months now I have been fantasizing about biking to work rather than try to determine the quickest and most cost-effective public transportation options. This is not to say that I am not still exploring that, but I finally (yes, finally!) bought a bike. I also have been wanting to bike because after being away for 9-11 hours at work and commuting to work there is just no time (or energy) for exercising. Biking will let me kill two birds with one stone -- fast & healthy.

Good bye sweet bike from my 8th grade graduation that along with taking a beating from me, repeated it all over again with my two younger sisters. Hello, hybrid Trek. :)

I have graduated into the "adult bike" world. In my mind this means two things:
  1. It is not a Huffy.
  2. It does not have a kick stand.
I am embarking on a journey that for now (and for lack of creativity) will be called my Summer/Fall Bike Challenge. It began today. I plan each day to try to document my journey, share my commuting stories, my challenges and my opinions/preferences for gear.

Without further ado, here are my daily stats:
  • 17 miles (there and back)
  • Average biking time: 47 minutes
  • Number of bugs eaten while riding: 1
  • Number of cat calls (from either walkers or cars): 3
  • Number of four letter words uttered: 2
  • ROI: $ 4.50
I am going to start building a must-have checklist for a commuting biker, but I need to get some more miles under my belt before I truly evaluate needs vs. wants.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Days 6 & 7: Revisiting old negatives

Day 6

We took these pictures earlier this year using some "mistery film" we got gifted. The thing with this film is that you can get lucky and get a great roll that produces great pictures and scans really easy, or get a roll that is a pain in the butt to scan/develop, like the ones these negatives are from. Day six is taken with a Vivitar Ultra Wide and Slim somewhere around Wrigleyville and day seven was taken in the Chicago Cultural Center with our beloved Olympus OM-1 and a 28mm lens, also Vivitar.

Day 7

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Day 3,4,5: Weekend Projects

I have been wanting to paint walls for the last 3 months. As I mentioned in a post earlier this week (here), I have a problem making decisions about what color I want to paint. There are just way too many options!

That said, I am proud of myself. Yesterday pm and I made a trip to the home improvement store. My goal was at least to buy paint for our bedroom (that color selection was easy). I also wanted to see if I could finally make a decision on the accent wall in the kitchen along with the colors for our hallway. Mission accomplished. Dreamy caramel won.

There is something about painting for me that is both relaxing and very gratifying. pm wanted to hire painters, I refused. While I admit I do not particularly like the "prep work", I do very much enjoy changing the look and vibe of a room paint stroke after paint stroke. I will also admit that I get a little too excited about painting at times. For example, waking up in the morning and immediately (before coffee folks, before coffee) doing the trim and touch-up work.

End result: A much brighter kitchen. This color really brings out the yellows in the stained glass window parallel to this wall. A photo of that will follow shortly, once that wall is also painted.

Haikus from the weekend:

Day 3, Haiku: Shine Friday Night Lights | Down on the busy bustle | Until the sun rises

Day 4, Haiku: Don't know what to say now | Too many errands and such | Makes for a quick day

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Day 2: Simplify

We recently started thinking about how to pare down the number of items/belongings we own and have collected over the years. Since moving into our own place, I have been surprised by how many boxes we keep uncovering of things we have forgotten we had.

Spring cleaning has come late for us. We did do a good cleaning out of the closets and storage room within the last month, but it has proven to not be enough. While we do have the space to keep things, I've recently been inspired to adopt more minimalist habits. (Part of this admittedly is from pouring over design magazine and furniture catalogues where all photographs depict clean, almost zenful, rooms.)

The time has come for us to practice feng shui (or pseudo feng shui to start). In order for our creative wheels to get a moving, we needed to clean up our act while also making our sleep environment more organized and inviting. First step: night stand. (Click here to see how our paint job made your average Ikea Rast nightstand stand out).

We wanted for our night stand to have the essentials -- water, light, alarm clock, kleenex--, but to also have some other points of interest -- reading materials, decorate vase. This weekend we plan to slowly begin mapping out a way to minimize clutter and create more crisp, clean areas room by room. If we've learned anything about living spaces it's that having a small space filled with items not only makes cleaning even more of a chore, but it also doesn't give you extra space for impromptu projects and creative endeavors. Time to simplify, then time to create.

Haiku, Day 2: Simple Life
Warm breeze, sweet lemonade
Rocking chair slowly back and forth
No worries, only calm

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Day 1: Create

Day 1: Create

The journey begins. In thinking of what would be the best way to kick start the next 30 days of uninterrupted creativity (minus for working & sleeping), we decided to roll back the hands of time. We're not going too far back, just one year ago today when we participated in our first round of 30 Days of Creativity.

We're changed up our medium some this year. Rather than household items to write out C-R-E-A-T-E, but opted for a more natural route this year. The background is the same, the letters are not. You'll have to let us know which one you like best. Here's the link to last year's creation

The glory of the use of spring foliage is that on my walk home from work I got to feel like a child. I was scanning the ground for the signs of summer on the way in the form of plant letters. It would have been an interesting sight to see me searching for plants and randomly stopping and starting to gather more.

Moral of Day 1: Creativity is simple, you just need the idea to start it off.


Haiku, Day 1: June Arrives
June bugs, blossoms and sun
Light the corners of my bedroom
Easy rise, easy go.

+My side project during this month is to write a haiku a day. I'll post to our Twitter feed (@ampmcrafts) daily.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


As #30daysofcreativity quickly approaches, and our plan is to participate again this year, I find myself reflecting on what we can do throughout the course of the next 30 days.

I recently at my blog stats -- I was on a roll in 2010, blogging almost every other day. This year, well, I am ashamed by my stats. I've been lucky to fit in 2 posts a month. This has left me a) embarrassed and b) puzzled. What was going on in my life in 201o that allowed for me to have more energy/ideas/ambition to keep up with regular posting? And, more importantly, how can I get back into the grove?

This is not something that I do just to do. I don't do it to see the number of followers & readers increase (albeit nice). No, I do it because I want to share what's going on in my creative mind. I do it for nothing else -- to document things. This has proved to be quite handy when I've needed a recipe on the fly when away from my cook books (cue: one bowl choco cake, sugar cookies, tomato soup, coconut macaroons & seafood gnocci.)

A side step. My last post I talked about opening up the voting for the color I will be painting our kitchen/dining room. My end goal: to have a color that inspires cooking, warmth & good times. I am aiming for a "Tuscan-yellow" (to which my Mediterranean husband does not understand :)).

Voting is open (choose your favorite name) by way of comment:
  1. dreamy caramel
  2. toasted pecan
  3. brushed almond
Tomorrow I will get geared up to do this again more frequently.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

color swatches

Time for me to share a secret. A secret talent I wish I had, so that I could have made a career out of it. This time, no, it is not having one dominant artistic talent so I could live strictly off my creativity. I am convinced after all that this may not be the life after all.

I wish I was an expert at the color palette. Admittedly, I do have better skills than many. I can tell the distinct difference between colors -- which have more browns, reds, yellows, blues, etc. Although even with this, it's not enough to cut through the color and identify what would look best.

As per the photo, we're in the midst (correction: I am in the midst, and pm has given me all decision making capabilities on color--as long as it is not red) of choosing colors for the walls. We had a couple of easy decisions.

I always wanted a green bathroom. After 30+ color swatches and evaluation, we got that project done. Since then, we've only done one other wall and it was just the accent wall. My next project entails painting an accent wall in the kitchen. The larger project tying into this is painting the hallway.

I know that I want for the colors to be rich, but not overbearing. We have a very well lit kitchen. We've already got reds, blacks, greens, purples and beige. This got me thinking in the direction of yellow. Blue and green (in my opinion) are too chill for a kitchen. Since the party almost always starts and finishes in the kitchen, it has to be a color that evokes energy. Since red is out of the picture, I am leaning toward yellow.

I took an inventory over the weekend of the paint swatches to date I have collected. It is ridiculous. How hard is it to make a decision? Well, hard. I know it's just paint and you can just repaint it again if you decide you don't like it. I am perfectionist people -- I want to do it right the first time and get it right the first time.

My master plan is to make some decisions this weekend so that more paint can go up on the walls. I have a few tricks up my sleeve to help me make decisions:
  1. The paint color must have a food name. To date, we've used "Pistachio Ice Cream" and "Italian Roast" (I am personally leaning toward something with coconut :))
  2. Label my favorite colors with numbers. Ask pm to select a random number.
  3. Have you vote. I could post the colors, and you could vote.
  4. Don't paint this weekend. Ponder more...
And, so there it is. I wish I was a colorologist. With that, I wish I could just make a decision. It's just paint, right?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

DIY: China Cabinet

If we've learning anything through our more recent home ownership, it's that there's always a project on the sidelines.

We went from nearly no furniture to an immediate need for more--mostly so that we could store the many items that were packed safe and sound at the 'rents house. Owning property has expedited the lease on that free storage space.

Our first big DIY project stemmed from the need for more kitchen storage. While our new kitchen has plenty of cabinets, with a 10+ foot ceiling, not all cabinets are conveniently accessed or useful.

pm and I decided to start our search for a china cabinet. We wanted something that would be big enough to hold a good portion of our kitchen wares (p.s. it's amazing how much kitchen stuff you get from your wedding that you ultimately do not use unless you have the space to accommodate it). We started our search by going to the usual suspects--Crate&Barrel, Ikea, Target, World Market, etc. No luck. There were very few china cabinets that fit our style and our budget.

On a random Monday night we decided to stop off a local thrift store. This trip was made more to donate old clothes, than it was buy anything. Turns out: Once we walked in we discovered an amazing china cabinet (with character!) that fit the bill for what we were looking for our kitchen space. The cabinet (as pictured) was in great shape, but needed a modest amount of TLC. (We later discovered that it would need more than a modest amount of TLC, but I digress...)

Nearly 2 weeks after the purchase--plus 3 coats of paint, sanding, waxing and reconstructing--we could hang our towels and toast to a china cabinet that was truly ours. It's nice to know that the piece we ended up getting not only goes well in the space we designated for it in the kitchen, but it also is an original. No one else will ever have one just like it. This fact makes us proud (even if it was a pain the butt to do when we were in the process). What may make us the most proud, however, is that the whole project (cabinet, paint, etc.) cost us under $300. A small price to pay for what we were looking at in all stores.

So here was the whole DIY project timeline:
  1. Find china cabinet and purchase it.
  2. Move it to the house. (aka: Hire strong men to move it to the house)
  3. Remove all hinges, screws, glass and other hardware.
  4. Clean it, bleach it, clean it.
  5. Sand it. Sand it. Sand it.
  6. Prime time. We primed the whole cabinet with an oil based primer.
  7. Paint cabinet, drawers and details in white with a latex paint.
  8. Paint drawers with green accent latex paint.
  9. Patiently wait for all paint to dry.
  10. Wax. (Minwax, finishing wax in natural)
  11. Add all hardware and glass back to the cabinet. (we found the knobs at Ikea--of the snodd variety)
  12. Fill cabinet with kitchen items.
  13. Blog about it.

Not exactly sure what our next big project will be in terms of furniture. That said, we're experimenting with different paint options for the hallway.

Never a dull moment. Never a project undone. :)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Chamomille IPA

After a longer than expected hiatus, moving can be quite time consuming, we are brewing again. Our last two beers had been a Chamomile IPA, which is almost ready to be bottled, and an Orange Coriander American Wheat. The Chamomile IPA is a Chinook IPA from Northern Brewer with a little twist, we added half a gallon of Chamomile and half a pound of honey.

Regarding the half gallon of Chamomille, just note that what we added was a very strong half gallon, we are lucky to live close to Harvestime foods and they sell 1 oz. Chamomile bags for little more than $1.50, so we put the whole thing to boil.

The recipe:

0.75 lbs. Dingemans Caramel Pils

0.25 lbs Briess Caramel 120

6 lbs Pilsen malt syrup

1 lb dry malt extract

3 oz. Chinook (1 oz. boils for 60 mins, 1 oz. 10 mins before the end of the boil and 1 oz. finishing hops about 1 min. before the end of the boil)

1 oz. Chamomile

0.5 lbs honey

Wyeast 1056 American Ale

The original gravity is 1.054 and after two weeks we put it into secondary fermentation for about six more weeks. We want to bottle it sometime this week and will be posting a review around mid June.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

stop. in. action.


The last month has been a series of green lights followed immediately by red lights, with little to no time to even see the yellow to pause. Fact is: I need some yellow lights. Time to decompress, relax and reclaim some balance.

We've been busy with getting settled--something that I did not think would be so time consuming or long-lasting. While I would say we are settled, we still have a little ways to go until our house becomes a home. More paint is needed on the walls, more furniture to fill the voids and most importantly, art to be hung on the walls. It is killing me to have all of our artwork fanned along the floor, waiting for the correct place to be identified before mounting.

Aside from settling, we've been graced by the presence of oversea visits. It has been a real treat to finally have the space to accommodate the family that lives so far away. It's also been fun to host and show off our new digs. [Perhaps the best part of entertaining is that you don't need any excuses to bake. I wish I had a photo of all the cakes/breads I have made in the last 5 weeks. I've been on a roll...]

Back to yellow. It's been a bit lately like being stuck at the intersection, wanting to cross and waiting for the changing of the lights. Will the lights now change because you there isn't enough weight to recognize you there? Did you arrive just as they changed, forcing you to have to wait until you're granted passage again? Or, what?

It so for this reason that I need to make a pledge. A pledge not to anyone but myself and my own creative endeavors and capacities. So here goes it:
  1. I will make time to do something creative, even if it is only for 15 minutes every day.
  2. I will commit (in addition to #1) to devote time for myself every day.
  3. I will not stress out about the things that I cannot control and cannot change.
  4. I will reread this list to remind myself of my pledge.
This is going to be a bit of a challenge, but I am going to do it. Wish me luck, thoughts, tips, etc.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

baking anyone?

wheat bread

Carbohydrates are my friend. In the past few weeks I have baked more carbs than the rest of the year combined. I've made cake, zucchini bread and wheat bread.

The bread in this photo is a wheat bread. Somehow in the move I discovered 2 full pages of whole wheat flour. Since this is not a common every day baking flour, I had to be creative on ways to use it. I wish my braid would have turned out better. Maybe next time I'll post the photo of the finished product.

Anyway, I blame all my recent baking on the new kitchen. Our new digs have amazing natural light, so the kitchen is always bright. We also have a lot of space for spreading things out--perfect for laying out ingredients and recipe books.

My recent craze for baking is two-fold:
(1) I have been craving sweets and homemade items like a crazy woman. Since I enjoy baking and enjoy eating, I didn't need any other excuses.
(2) I wanted to test out the new oven and make sure it was working how it should be. Wouldn't want to move in & not make sure all the appliance work? A cardinal sin.

I have a feeling I am going to continue to get very good use out of the kitchen. This will kick off this weekend in my annual task of making a birthday cake/pie/sweet for pm's birthday. I just need to find the recipe of what he wants. Once that is done and it has been made, it will be posted.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Break in the Action


I know I have alluded to some big changes underway for pm and me. Well that time has come and gone. We now have a whole new set of changes ahead.

We moved. We moved into a place that we can finally call home.

The past month our lives have consisted of packing up all of our belongings from a very small apartment to prepare for our big move into home ownership. We've now been in our new digs for about 2 weeks and are absolutely loving it. It is so nice to come home to place that it yours. I already feel so much more inclined to keep the place looking nice and neat. (This feat has been nearly impossible, though, as we are still organizing boxes and getting settled).

We were offline for nearly 3 weeks. Hence, I was not able to write. And, I have missed it. This space gives me the platform to collect my thoughts and sometimes regain my sanity. I guess not only have I not been able to write for the lack on internets :), but I also haven't had the time to sit back and relax yet.

Our new couch arrived last night, so now I am going to be able to kick back and relax. Finally.

My brain is already spinning on projects I want to do around the house. pm and I painted our bathroom last weekend and are trying to decide on colors for some of the other spaces. We will do everything step by step--no need to rush.

So, there you have it. Our big news and the main reason why we have been so MIA. As we are getting settled and comfortable in our new place, we plan to post updates on all the little projects we take on. We've got plans for build-ins, design/craft projects and optimizing our space through storage & select furniture.

Glad to back. Updates will begin on a more frequent basis again, no worries.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

snow angel


Even us big kids like snow. While we don't get to go out and play in it as much as we may like, it is still fun. (For awhile until you have to shovel it, scrap it off your car and get stuck in it.)

This big blizzard made me remember all the fun I used to have in the wintertime outside as a kid. [A luxury that pm was never able to enjoy being from the pseudo-tropics.] I remember coming home from school when I was in elementary school only to drop off my book bag and then build forts and have snowball fights with my brothers until dinner.

On the weekends we'd be outside all day. We'd come inside for hot cocoa breaks and to dry out our boots. We lived close enough to a sledding hill, so sometimes we'd walk to it. Other times we'd pretend like the small hill in the front yard was enough for us. Regardless, there was always something to do in the snow. Not to mention there were always friends and neighborhood kids around to join in on the fun.

Oh those were the good old days.

In a tribute to those days, I decided (as noted above) to make some snow angels. It was way harder than I remember. To my defense, I don't ever remember making a snow angel in 22 inches of snow. It was fun nonetheless. If only I would have had more time to work on that fort (or a backyard to make it in.)

Stay warm & get out and enjoy it. We spend so much time complaining about the cold and the winter. I have decided I am going to (try to) be positive about it and relish in its beauty.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

seafood gnocci***

Seafood gnocci

It's cold, windy and snowy out. Dinner needs to be warm, hearty and healthy. Cue in seafood gnocci.

It is my goal within the next couple of weeks to empty out our freezer, cupboards and fridge. I want to start over fresh with all new foods. I feel like we stock pile things and then never end of using them. I mentioned that one of my resolutions this year is to eat more healthy foods. This will have to start in the kitchen, and has to start with a clean slate.

One a first glance in our freezer this evening I was already overwhelmed. Mostly overwhelmed by the amount of frozen fruit that is in there from past trips to the Maxwell Street Market. I am well aware that emptying our the freezer will involve a ton of baking in the next few weeks. I am up for it.

Although, I'll save the baking for another day, another post. I wanted a filling dinner tonight to beat out the winter blues (and what they are saying will be the worst snow storm of the century...). I'm calling this a Trader Joe's dinner because almost all the major ingredients (***) came from there.

I did not write down the recipe (I never do when I cook). Here is my best guess at ingredients:
-whole wheat gnocci***
- frozen seafood mixture (shrimp, calamari, etc.)***
- onion***
- garlic***
- fresh tomato & tomato paste
- butter
- splash on Vino Verde*** (one for the sauce, one for me)
- fresh parmesan cheese***
- herbs & seasonings

Do have any foods that you prefer to eat when the weather is cold & blistery?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

out of sugar


So I had this master plan on Friday night to bake. (I also had other "to-dos" on my list: clean, grocery shop, chill, watch a chick flick, have a fruity drink...etc.)

There was one major bump in my plan -- we were out of sugar. Literally - totally out of sugar. I had already gone out to do the grocery shopping and I was not about to go out again for sugar. There was going to have to be another baking option, sans sugar. Enter quiche. Rather than make the cupcakes and cookies I had originally planned, I decided to make a spinach, mushroom & swiss cheese egg pie. A good catch on my part.

Despite the success, that will be the last time I run out of sugar.

Whatever happened to the days when you could knock on your neighbor's door and ask for a cup of sugar or for an extra egg? As a kid, I used to run over the neighbor's house a lot to pick up random ingredients that we were lacking. Likewise, they did the same thing. Maybe someday when pm and I live in suburbia and know all of our neighbors, I will do that again.

Instead, we've always live in apartments. I have always found apartment living to be so isolating and sheltered. Sometimes it is nice - you don't have to know all of their business (even if you can hear it through the walls). You can maintain your distance and go on with your daily life. After all, apartment living (in most cases) is temporary housing.

I guess for me, I always wanted to get to know the neighbors. Have game nights, dinner parties, a watchful eye when you are out of town ...etc. *sigh* Maybe someday even if we don't live in a house I'll be able to knock on a neighbor's door for missing ingredients. Maybe someday...

Then I can also share my baked goods. There is no way pm and I are going to be able to eat a whole quiche on our own.

Friday, January 28, 2011


Bah. Friday night and we're staying in. Staying in because pm is sick, very sick.

My goal for the evening is not to get too close. Instead I am going to do some girlie things. My plan is to go to the grocery store (stat!), bake (yes, against the diet rules), clean (not a girlie thing, but something I've got to do), watch a chick flick (provided pm goes to bed early!) and have a fruity drink (wish it could be another mai tai like we had last weekend in Milwaukee...).

In some senses it is kind of nice to have an excuse to relax. After a week of running around and keeping busy, it is nice to finally have to sit tight and chill. Something that I just don't feel like I do enough of it. I feel like I come home from work and then until I go to bed cannot turn my brain off. In fact, I can't even turn my brain off when I am asleep. I stopped reading dream analysis books; they can't keep up with me and my crazy dreams.

Anyway... without further ado, I'm getting things done. Hope ya'll have a nice Friday evening as well. And, a nice weekend.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Fashion or Famine

pm and I get more magazines in the mail now than we have time in the week to read them. He had a bunch of airline miles (with an airline we never fly with) that we were not going to use, so rather than have them go to waste we subscribed like crazy people to multiple magazines.

Most of the magazines we now receive are highly intellectual. And, interesting. I don't like the days I have to drive to work, because it doesn't give me a guaranteed hour to read up on new trends, current events, investment tips, business-savvy trade secrets, etc.

I allowed myself to splurge on one "fluff" magazine: Vogue. It's not to say that this is a "fluff" magazine, but when comparing the ad-to- content ratio to any of our other subscriptions, it is well... different. I wanted to get Vogue not for the fashion (or the ads), but for the photography. I find fashion photography fascinating. The light, angles, poses....etc.

Basically, I find everything fascinating but the models.

This particular scanned ad was one I just kept turning to. I kept turning to it not because I liked the image or the models, but because I think as a photo it truly captures what I see in the fashion industry -- very petite models who look like they need a meal more than they need the photo shoot. (pm says I am radical. bah)

Anyway. This got me thinking about the recent death of French model-Isabelle Caro- and her fatal battle to be thin... too thin. All in all, I know I could never afford many of the items being sold in "fashion" ads, but based on models I would never want to. (As I mentioned before, the photography is a different thing. That I enjoy.)

Maybe it's just me, but as I woman I do not find curve-less and frail women attractive or good "sales" agents. I know that the majority of men when asked to describe a beautiful woman would under very rare circumstances choose a lass with no ass (or hips or curves).

I digress. Rather than get off on a tangent, I'm taking a poll. When you look at this ad (and not just this ad, but the majority of fashion ads) do you see high fashion or famine?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

DIY Dinner: Sausage

We recently said one of our goals this year was to be more aware of what we are eating and where it is coming from. Well, today that goal has been achieved. (This does not mean that we will stop now that we are ahead.)

Tonight we made homemade sausages for the first time. pm recently bought the meat grinder attachment for our kitchen aid. I think that we have used it more for meat in the past couple of months than I ever used it for sweets. This too will change my friends...

We made a basic sausage -- pork, onion, garlic and various spices (italian seasonings, paprika, etc.) They turned out really well. Plus, I think when compared to what you'd spend in the grocery store for good sausages, we saved ourselves some money.

There was no mystery meat in these bad boys. In fact, making these made me realize just how much we probably are not aware are in "store bought" sausages. I'd rather not think about it. And, the plan is not to think about it, because we plan to make a lot more of our own homemade meats from locally grown and farmed meat. We'll be supporting our local butcher (Paulina Meat Market) and eating more healthy. A win-win all around.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Beer Review: Goose Island - 2010 Bourbon County Stout

Right before Christmas, while getting some supplies to fight the cold at West Lakeview Liquors, we also decided to get this book. The whole idea of keeping track of the beers we taste is quite appealing and I think it forces us to take some time and look for the different flavors and qualities in a beer. I also liked the way the pages in the book are designed, especially the flavor wheel and the star rating system; everything is very visual.

Anyways here is our first review: Goose Island - 2010 Bourbon County Stout.

First of all, this beer was quite a disappointment for the price. In my book, if you have to drop over $20 for a 4-pack it sucks to get a beer you dislike so much. I actually just discovered today that there is one still sitting in the back of our fridge.

Beer Review: Goose Island - 2010 Bourbon County Stout

Anyways ... regarding the beer, to make a long story short, it is just too sweet and the alcohol content a little too evident. Rather than being a beer aged in bourbon barrels, it tasted more like a caramelized bourbon spiked with stout.


Disclaimer: These are just our personal opinions. We like beer. We like bourbon. We like stouts. We wanted to like the combination of all of these in this beer. Better luck next time.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

ideas & time.

My brain is bursting with ideas. Literally bursting. Problem is I need an additional 3-4 hours in every day to make have all of these ideas come to fruition. Isn't that the story of our lives?

Once we start to get older, we start to realize how fast everything passes us by. Hello, it's almost February already! I hardly even remember January beginning or rolling into 2011. Time waits for no one. It just keeps on ticking and tocking.

This is where my "to-do" list comes into play. I am making a conscious effort (albeit hard) to spend more time "doing" and less time vegging. This is a challenge when the weather is cold and you are confined to a small one-bedroom apartment. Also a challenge when you don't want to be sitting another few hours in front of a computer doing the research and homework involved in making ideas turn into a reality. Despite these hurdles, I've found that my list at least keeps me moderately motivated and focused.

I know, I know. I am being very ambiguous about my ideas. I cannot help it, I like to tease. To entice. And, even to (sometimes) annoy. I also don't like to announce anything until it is a sure thing. I am a superstitious person when it comes to over-sharing before something is definite.

That said: One of my ideas--that has been a good 3 months or so in the making--is starting to grow some legs. It's not ready to stand on its own, or take baby steps yet, but I am confident it will get there. Just give me time.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

breaking the rules

moscatel (1 of 1)

We've been on a hardcore detox/purge since coming back from Spain. The fun we had became noticeably present around the waist. We knew it would happen and we knew what we'd have to do when we got back.

For the past 10 days we've been doing the scarsdale diet. I admit I haven't been following it religiously--I need my sugars and my dairy. I also didn't enjoy Spain as much as my dear hubs. :)

Essentially this diet does 2 things:
  1. You stop eating fats, sugars and oils. You don't cook with oil. You don't add anything to your toast. You don't indulge in sweets in between meals.
  2. You limit the number of carbs you consume and you up the fresh vegetables & fruits.
All in all, it's not that hard to do . . . the first week. The second week, in my opinion, is hard. You lose energy. Loads of it. I have been craving the craziest things all week and since our cabinets are not fully stocked, I have had to do without. No biggie. I can live without cookies, hummus, tortilla chips, juice etc. We push forward.

Until.... tonight. I needed carbs. We had successfully gone a full 10 days without eating one of our weekly staples: pasta. So, as you may have guessed, we broke the rules. We made pasta. To our defense the sauce was 100% homemade with fresh vegetables and we measured the amount of pasta. I think I actually enjoyed tonight's pasta more than ever before. I enjoyed it because I was starving for it, starving for carbs.

While I admit we cheated (and am proud of it), it made me realize how trivial dinner can become without giving it some thought and effort. We need food to survive, but it is so much more enjoyable if you actually enjoy it. Naturally, I mean in moderation.

This is one thing I really want to strive for this year: to make a much more conscious effort of what I am putting in my body. pm had the idea last week to try to make more things from scratch when you crave them. For example: I want chocolate cupcakes with a chocolate ganache frosting. I could walk down the street to "Fivebucks" and buy one. Easy enough. Although if I really want it, I should force myself to make it. Chances are if I had to make every craving I have, I wouldn't consume so many useless calories.

New Year's Resolution #1: Play an active role in all meals. Give them thought and push the boundaries. Whenever possible, buy locally. Utilize cookbooks, experiment with recipes. Keep track & take notes along the way.

P.S. The other item not allowed with this diet is = no alcohol. Today we made an exception. pm is almost officially done with school forever. To celebrate we had a sherry: Pastora amontillado, medium dry. A solid 8 for breaking another rule.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

courting 2.0

In my post yesterday I mentioned the word courting. I've always liked to word -- it makes dating and "going steady" seem a little more old-fashioned and, well, serious. It all also, don't ask me why, reminds me of the Laura Ingalls Wilder (LIW) series.

I was obsessed with those books when I was a kid. So much so, that I almost wanted to live in the country and wear poplin dresses and eat molasses drops. My life, however led me to other places and to different adventures.

Once I referred to "courting" and meeting at La Giralda, I began to think about dating in general. Today on my way home I read an article Love at first byte in the Economist. This article really got my head spinning about dating. As the title suggests, online dating is easy, popular and diverse. Not to mention, it's successful.

I often wonder what it would be like. I know people who have found it be a great success and met their soul mate / spouse. Others who haven't been so lucky.

Before I continue, it's time for my personal disclaimer: I am so happy that I am no longer in the game. If I was still single I don't even know where I would start my search. Props to those who are out there fighting that battle. I couldn't do it; and, luckily I do not have to.

According to the article (and a survey), the most common places to meet a mate are as follows:
  1. Through mutual friends
  2. Bars & Restaurants
  3. Internet (online dating)
From my own personal experience, #1 & #2 work just fine. In fact, I met pm this way. We were at a bar with mutual colleagues / friends. (It would be so much more romantic if I said we met under La Giralda, right?) When I was growing up, there was no #3. First of all, because the internet and being online wasn't such a huge part of my social fabric growing up. And secondly, if you went online to meet people you did so through AIM. It was not serious...Pervs and geeks were among the few that were online.

Oh my, times have changed. Privacy doesn't have the same sentiment as it once did. You couldn't page through online profiles like a catalog to determine what boyfriend/girlfriend you wanted to have. People actually had to get out there on their own and flirt. Gasp. You couldn't hide behind emails. Couldn't hide behind an amazing photo of yourself taken years ago. Couldn't hide behind an exaggerated list of hobbies and talents. That all said: You could still pretend to be somewhere you weren't; that is something that will never change.

When I really think about how the dating scene has changed over the years, it makes me realize how much everything has changed. We are so much for reliant on the internet, for everything. I'm guilty. So you are. (I know this because you are reading this post and undoubtedly others). Although it all goes beyond just the internet.

It's technology. It drives our interests, our necessity, our jobs, our play, our life. Without it, where would we be? Well for starters, they'd be a lot more singletons out there in bars trying out sappy pickup lines until someone takes the bait. I'm also pretty sure #3 would be library / book store.

Monday, January 17, 2011

La Giralda of my heart

Juan Belmonte

Juan Belmonte (the famous bull fighter born in Sevilla) always had the Giralda in his heart (as noted in the photo), and I know why. La Giralda has a special place in my heart too.

It's not just because it's in the center of the city, surrounded by cobble-stoned streets, cafes and incredible architecture. For me, it's because this was the am & pm meeting place back when we were courting. (Yes, I just said courting. Felt good.) This was our rendezvous point before heading down the street for sweet orange wine at La Peregil, tapas and fun. If we weren't meeting at the Giralda, then we were meeting at the Triana bridge (photos to be posted soon).

I like having a meeting place. A place you can go and know exactly where to find the person you are looking for. This is something that I cannot say I've had here. Why? My guess is that it is because most places I have lived require driving to see people. The glory of Sevilla is that you can literally walk anywhere in the city center.

And boy, did we walk. Many of these walks were right past la Giralda on to other destinations. If I had to choose a destination in Sevilla that was at the "heart" of the city, I'd say it could be nothing other than the Giralda. I think most tourists, locals and gypsies would agree.


We are slowly sifting through the many photos we took on our trip. It's only been a week, but it already feels like it's been months. Strange how quickly you can get back into the daily grind without even trying. Posting photos and short histories about these places will be a nice way for us to be reminded of our recent trip. Hope that you will also enjoy the ride, errr, walk.

Friday, January 14, 2011

chill out.

Oh jet lag, why do you taunt me? On second thought, it might not be the jet lag. I think entering back into reality after nearly three weeks of non-reality has finally caught up to me.

Friday nights seem to be nights where pm & I just like to chill out. This Friday, however, is a little different. Not in the sense that we aren't still relaxing, but in the sense that we need to finishing unpacking and settling in.

It's the thing I loathe most about coming back from a vacation (other than coming back): unpacking the suitcase. It's the act of unpacking and putting everything back to normal that forces you right back into your day-to-day life. The actual unpacking wouldn't be so bad, if it didn't mean there was laundry to do and a closet to reorganize so that the suitcases can be put away.

Enough complaining though.

We've started a few new things already this year since being back and hope to continue:
#1: Detox. The holidays were too good to us this year. So good in fact, that my body couldn't handle it anymore. It was screaming for vegetables, fruits and fresh food once we got back. We've answered that call big time this week. If we continue to eat salad as much as we have been this week, we may start growing a fluffy tail.
#2: Daily cleanups. Rather than do all the cleaning for the week over the weekend, I am vowing to do 1-2 chores a day. This way, when the weekend rolls around I don't have to think about it. Plus taking 15-20 minutes a day to do a little bit sure makes a difference. (Granted, I also wanted to clean more this week since we've both been sick. Bleach has been a good friend this week.)
#3: Not overbuying. No more huge trips to the grocery store. From now on I want to buy like a Spaniard. Buy what you need for the week. This involved menu planning in advance. After our first week, we haven't wasted any food and haven't had to make any additional trips to the store.

What little changes have you started to make this year?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

new look, new year

Happy 2011!

While our blog recently underwent a little face lift and we now have a permanent home at, we have been totally MIA for the last month. We know it, we acknowledge it & now we're moving forward.

We were super excited to launch our own website. It's been sometime in the making, something we've been wanting to do for a long time. Now that's it's up and running, we already have plans for some new items that will be posted in this coming year.

2011 is going to be the year of new beginnings, a new chapter to the life of am & pm.

We started it off with a Holiday in Spain (props to the Counting Crows & this version of the song!). It was my first holiday there, and four years tardy for pm. Needless to say, it was time for us to go. We were able to escape the cold and enjoy family, friends, food and wine. Ah, it was wonderful. I hadn't realized just how wonderful it was until we came back. Why did we come back? ;)

Our holiday in Spain, also was a holiday from all responsibilities. We paid our rent in advance, and since all other expenses are on pre-paid accounts, we could sit back and enjoy. We very rarely checked our email and as you can tell from our social media efforts, we stayed away from most technology. Fact is: pm and I need a break.

Prior to our trip we were running in so many directions I am surprised that we even made it to Spain without forgetting the clothes on our back and gifts for family. Or worse case scenario: our passports. I will admit, that was a close call the day we left.

We will post photos soon-- as soon as we finish the rolls and get everything developed. I think this time we took more film photos than digital. My love for doing things the old-fashioned way doesn't lead to the immediate results. I am hoping the photos will be worth the wait.

Along with posting photos, we'll also be posting some of our goals for this space for the new year. Since we haven't had time to think about new year's resolutions (other than to eat more vegetables and cut back on meat for the time being), we haven't had time to post anything here yet either. It will come. After all, all good things come to those who wait.

Rather than make a long post longer, we'll be back. Soon.

I may take a holiday in Spain / Leave my wings behind me / Drink my worries down the drain / And fly away to somewhere new.