I Am Not A Duck

While this post is not on topic based on what I've written about so far (it's not about crafting or food or even cupcakes for that matter), it is a bit about adventure, which fits into my theme.  Plus, I hadn't posted in a little bit so I thought I'd sit down and compile my thoughts.  (Please forgive me for being distant, I've been in training for a new job this week so things have been a bit hectic.)

Today, I thought I'd write about the fact that being a runner in Chicago can be a major adventure (at least in my experience).  I just started getting back into the habit of running for exercise again this week.  It's a great way to stay in shape, but I tell ya, it's certainly always something.  Something interesting always seems to happen on my runs along the streets of Chicago.

Once last summer, I was only a few blocks into my run and reached a part of my path where you go under a viaduct.  There's a sliver of a sidewalk so you're less than visible to cars (which are coming your way as I was running against traffic, but not in the street I promise).  Anyway, I was entering this blind spot, and I think I recalled thinking, I guess it must have rained overnight.  Well, ironically enough, just as that thought left my head, I got splashed head to toe with dirty mucky rain water due to to a speeding car passing by.  Although I was tempted to turn around an just get in the shower already, I continued my run and horrifyingly enough, even ran into people I know on the way back.  Thank goodness they didn't judge me for being covered in streaks of dirt and sweat. 

Tuesday was my first day back on the wagon since, well I'm not sure when.  Since it wasn't winter and raining everyday.  And, you guessed it, that was another adventure. For yesterday, I was battling tornado speed winds (okay so I exaggerate a little, but seriously, I felt like I was moving in slow motion).  Being that I was busy most of the daytime, I wanted to get a run in before dinner (and right before it was forecast to start poring).  I told myself it was now or never and I kinda wished I had gone with never because being in the wind alone was a workout.  I'm a pretty pint-sized person, so there were definitely times where I had trouble keeping my balance, much less moving at speeds faster than a walk while going against the wind.

And then we have today.  Today was my most humorous running adventure so far.  Because today, no joke, a man threw a piece of bread at me. Like a duck. In a pond.  It's always a bit treacherous running in my neighborhood, especially around dinner/the after work rush, just due to the rather large number of people out and about.  But, still.  Bread, seriously?  I get you may want to "feed the birds" or whatever (not that bread's even good for birds, but that's beside the point), but this guy saw me coming.  We even made eye contact for a split second.  It was the - we're making a nonverbal agreement by acknowledging each other exists and you're not going to throw edible or inedible products at or on me, ok? - type of eye contact.  And he still threw a piece of bread right at me that bounced off my shoulder.  I'm telling you.
Running.In.Chicago = An.Epic.Adventure.

Funny how now as I prepare to make dinner, all I can think about is making a sandwich, or something with bread.  Maybe I should thank that random stranger after all, for assisting with my choice of cuisine tonight.


DIY Mother's Day Gift Guide: Crafter Edition

***I'm re-publishing this post because I was finally able to upload a visual for the cupcake luffas.  (The picture uploader wasn't working for me last week for some reason).  

For those of you who want to give Mom something non-food related that you made with your own two hands, here are my suggestions for craft items made just for her.

1. Cupcake Luffas
Show mom she deserves to pamper herself everyday with a simple and sweet cupcake luffa.  Got a silicone cupcake liner lying around? What about an extra luffa?  Then you're all set! Voila!
(I have a picture, but it's not letting me upload at the moment... I'll try again later.)

2. Cupcake Pincushion
I came across this idea while flipping through Jodi Kahn's book Simply Sublime Gifts on a recent shopping trip to Joann Fabric.  Similar to the above but more detailed and uber cute!  This isn't the specific instruction set from Simply Sublime, but here's an instructional video that's seems pretty similar and simple!

3. Napkin Pillowcase
Another easily made gift with limited supplies to buy (it would be nice if you bought the pillow to go inside too), a napkin folded pillowcase.  And who doesn't love a good pillow to hug?  If you search hard enough at Anthro or TJMaxx, you can find an inexpensive decorative napkin.  And if you're so inclined (and/or have a sewing machine) you can add your own touch and include a monogram or silhouette of something your mom likes.  My mom likes birds a whole bunch.  So not only am I planning on making her a bird pillow, but I'm also going to use this clip from Portlandia for inspiration.  (Carrie Brownstein, I want your life!  And living in a Portland wouldn't be bad either.)

DIY Mom's Day Gift Guide: Beverage Edition

Here are a few suggestions for dear mom that will keep her quenched!

1. Make Your Own Instant Chai Tea Mix
Did I mention that my mom likes tea?  And has her own personal stash of it in my apartment for when she visits? Anyways, perhaps it's just my mom, but I have a feeling a good percentage of mom's like tea.  Especially instant tea.  It quick and easy - and that fact that it was made by you will mean a lot.  This recipe from Tasty Kitchen (via my favorite blogger of all time, Pioneer Woman) may seem intimidating due to the long list of ingredients, but believe me, it will be worth it!  You're mom will be saying "Thanks a latte!" when you give her this gift.  (I know, I know, terrible joke. But I just couldn't resist.)

2. Fresh Squeezed Watermelon Lemonade
This drink has refreshing written all over it!  The recipe, from another of my favs (who I've mentioned a lot already), Smitten Kitchen, comes complete with variations so you can make the drink into a spritzer and/or an alcoholic beverage, if mom so pleases.  It's always good to know you have options, my mother always says.

Don't go anywhere!  DIY Mom's day gift guide: Crafter Edition, coming right up!


DIY Mom's Day Guide: Foodie Edition

Want to get your mama that special something this coming Mother's Day, but (like me) lack the motivation and/or funds to spur the economy and buy something store-bought?  Have a DIY (Do-It-Yourself for those of you who aren't already familiar)  Mom's Day this year!  Over the next couple of days I will be posting my top suggestions for things you can easily make with pretty easily attainable supplies to prepare for this upcoming Mother's Day on May 8th!

Tonight's post - DIY Foodie Items
Things that will make your mamacita say "nom nom!"

1. Crunchy Granola - The Farm Chicks Style
My mom made the best homemade granola when I was a kid.  It was even better than waiting in front of the oven for chex mix to be done.  The smell was addicting (like sneaking wiffs of permanent marker- shh don't tell) and I couldn't wait for it to be done so I could snatch a piece of coconut when mom wasn't looking.  And granola being so versatile - have it with milk, yogurt, or just as a snack - it seems the perfect gift to make at home and give to your mom this May.  Plus, this recipe from the Farm Chicks will definitely remind you of dear mom.  I tried my hand at some last night with a few minor revisions (I sadly didn't have any coconuts or pecans, so I used dried fruit - blueberries and craisins - and some chopped almonds and pine nuts instead).  Show mom you love her with this comfort foodie staple!

Tastes like home!

2. Make your own Pea-nutella - Smitten Kitchen Style
My parents don't live to far from the city, so when our schedules both allow, they often come visit me in the city.  My mom has her own stash of tea bags and tea cookies in my pantry - just for when she visits.  Her favorite way these tea cookies is with a generous spread of nutella in between two cookies creating a nutella cookie sandwich - voila!  When I came across this recipe from Smitten Kitchen, it reminded me of my mother and I just had to give it a try.

Your mom will be speechless because her mouth will be full.
Full of homemade pea-nutella LOVE.

Stay tuned for more mom-inspired gift ideas!


Clouds In My Coffee and Holes In My Tights

Ok, first let me give you an update on the pickled veggies.  (Drumroll please)
They came out delish!  So tasty that I almost ate all of them in one sitting... way to get a girl to eat her daily dose of veggies!  I even had saved an old pickle jar, which turned out to be the perfect storage!

 Mmm, veggies!

Now, moving on (since I'm sure your sick of hearing about pickled veggies by now), I wanted to share a resourceful trick I learned recently to upcycle a clothing item that can often go to waste.  Earlier this week I found myself having to dress up for an interview.  When I got dressed, I realized the stockings I had put on had more started to resemble a likeness to swiss cheese due to the number of holes that popped up in them.  Not wanting to throw them out, I sifted through my "crafts to do" list and found this post from Obstinate Pursuit.  You can make a spring scarf relatively simply (although it takes some patience) using old tights!  You just cut off the wait/feet and cut the tights into strips.  When you pull the strip the sides will curl into each other.  You then tie the ends of the strips into knots, gather up as many strips as you fancy for a scarf, and cover up the knots with some of the extra bits you cut off.  Seeing as I had more than just this pair of hole-y tights in my dresser drawer, I set to work.

Holey Moley!

Since seeing this post, I became overly excited and have gone on a tights buying rampage (but who can blame me when they were only 5 bucks a pop at urban this week?! - I bought 6 more pairs today! Don't judge-I wanted reinforcements to make more scarves!  What can I say, I was inspired).  The pics/instructions on OP are a lot more detailed than I'm going to be, but you get the idea.  Here's what my very first attempt came out to look like.  

Not bad for a first try...!

I can't wait to make more and add them to my ETSY store!  Speaking of, if you haven't checked out my ETSY store, take a gander.  I just opened it a few weeks ago and I'm still working on building inventory, but it's a start!  Feedback welcome and wanted!


On the Menu Today... Pickled Veggies!

I've been toying with the idea of starting a blog for what seems like forevs, and today, I'm finally diving in!  It seems as perfect a time as any during this spring day in Chicago (that actually feels like spring!) and I found myself craving the pickled carrots from Birchwood Kitchen.  In the mood for trying something new, I thought to myself, why don't I make my own and blog about it?

I was lucky enough to visit Birchwood Kitchen during a recent visit from the parents this past weekend and we couldn't get enough - it's our new favorite neighborhood spot when they visit me in the city.  We got a communal serving of carrots for the table and when it came time to leave, there was still one lonely carrot left.  "How can you think about leaving when there's still a pickled carrot on the table?" I asked, right before said carrot found a home in my mouth.  

Today, I'm finding myself wishing there was still a dish of carrots on the table for me to snack on.  I also recently worked for a sandwich shop that sold seasonal pickled veggies, which has made me crave them for months on end.  So, to put an end to my craving once and for all (well, at least for this week), I found this recipe for Pickled Carrot Sticks. (I used some celery too, cuz it's what I had handy) It's from one of my favorite bloggers, Smitten Kitchen.  The recipe is uber easy complete with lots of photos - and luckily, I had all the ingredients already in my pantry/fridge.  Too bad the carrots have to sit in the brine/pickling liquid for 24 hours to reach their full flavor potential... ;(

Get Pickled already!

While I wait for tomorrow to come, check out some of the things I like to peruse while waiting for carrots to get pickled!

They sell co-op hot sauce!  My fav!

Can't get enough of their bread-pudding pancakes & mix!

When I grow up, I want to be Natalie Slater.

She taught me how to sew and her clothing inspires (and, partially, fills up) my closet.

For a while, I worked at a shop that sold Fritz Pastries and let me tell you... 
Their chocolate croissants = to.die.for.