Sunday, August 29, 2010

Buying things second hand

I love shopping resale.

But you know what is great to shop for second hand? "Art." I put that in parenthesis because I'm not really referring to fine art, but rather the stuff you'd hang on your walls, which could be both prints of actual art and just "art" for lack of a better term.

I have found some really great "art" at resale stores. To the point that I doubt I'll ever buy "art" first hand again, until I'm able to afford investing in actual art from local artists. (Beyond my friend Donovan's awesome prints.)

This Picasso print came in this frame (with glass!) for only $8 at the local Salvation Army

I need to buy a new frame, but this Van Gogh print + frame was only $2.50 from the Salvation Army
This print + matting + frame was only $5 at the local Salvation Army
This was free (print, frame, matting) because I picked up from my friend when she was getting rid of a lot of her stuff in anticipation of a move across the country

I picked this up mounted Monet print from Goodwill, and while I don't remember what it cost, I'm pretty sure it wasn't that much.

At $15, this was a little bit pricier than what I usually spend, but it was from a higher-end charity resale shop

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Chicago

This morning, the Sailor returned from two weeks in Pennsylvania for annual training. I had some time to kill before his train got in at Union Station, so I took some photos. Felt a little nostalgic since I used to work across the street from Union Station. I miss working in downtown Chicago and being a part of the daily hustle and bustle. Although it was interesting to see my old stomping grounds in the exact opposite way - quiet, empty, and closed.

Diving into the city was pretty

Chicago

Morton Arboretum

Today is my birthday. And I've had a great weekend to celebrate!

My parents were in town (they live about an hour away) for a Friday night wedding, and they stayed at a hotel and took me out on Saturday morning/afternoon. We went to breakfast, then to the Morton Arboretum, and then lunch.

Toad Nursery in the Children's Garden

Morton Arboretum

Monday, August 16, 2010

Clothing Swap Party

Yesterday I did something that I can't believe I haven't done sooner - I held a clothing swap party. I should have been doing this for years, because:
  1. I love second hand stuff. The price is right!
  2. I ALWAYS have clothes/shoes/accessories that I could stand to get rid of, and this way whatever is still in good condition can get used by a friend.
Even though I just moved (and thus just got rid of a ton of stuff), I hosted a party. I invited all my girl friends, those that weren't busy came over with their stuff, we piled it on couches and went to town going through everything. 

I ended up with four shirts (one of which I'm wearing to work today), three belts, two purses, two scarves, a dress, a pair of "nice" (work appropriate) capris and a pair of workout pants. I'm probably forgetting something. And best of all? Not only did it not cost a dime, but I got a fun afternoon out of it! I made some snacks (so I guess it did cost something), and some of the other girls brought snacks (so it's like I broke even on the food).

Can't wait for the next one! This party forced me to finally part with a few things I was holding onto because "it's just so cute!" even though I never wear it. But the downside to holding onto that type of stuff (like these purple work-appropriate sling-backs) is that holding onto it prevents me from buying something similar that I might actually wear, and instead I hold onto something else that I don't wear ... what's the point? This way, it goes to someone who might actually wear it, and frees me from the guilt of buying another pair of purple pumps.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Sweet Potatoes

In the never-ended quest to attempt to eat better, I'm trying to introduce sweet potatoes into my diet. Now, I'm not a very picky eater. The list of things I do not like is relatively short:
  1. Black olives
  2. Clams*

* For the record, I've only had canned clam chowder and I hate the "clammy" taste, but for all I know clams are very good, I'm just not eating them prepared in a yummy way. So someone make me some yummy clams and convince me otherwise.

The list of crazy foods I have tried is much longer ... off the top of my head:
  1. Pigs blood (I had a Filipino roommate in college and tried this at a birthday party hosted by her mom)
  2. Fried alligator (this past weekend)
  3. Bison burger
  4. Pheasant
  5. Venison
  6. Frog legs
  7. Octopus
And I would willingly eat that all again, except for the pigs blood. (Sorry, R.)

Anyway, that's not the point of this post. The point is that my husband is a pickier eater than I am. (Really the only person I have met in my life that is less picky than me is my oldest brother.) So, if I'm going to introduce sweet potatoes into our diet, and have it stick, it has to taste good. So I've taken to the internets (and friends) to find yummy ways to prepare sweet potatoes.

Sweet Potato Quesedillas
My vegetarian friend would bring this to pot-luck 4th of July parties and holy crap were they yummy. She says the recipe comes from the Student's Vegetarian Cookbook.

1 medium sweet potato, shredded
1 can black beans, drained
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons cumin (you can do less. I think the original recipe called for 1. I just like more.)
Salt & pepper to taste
Monterey or cheese of your choice
Whole wheat or other tortilla of your choice

Saute the onions in oil for 4 to 5 minutes or until transparent. Add the shredded sweet potato and cook for another three to four minutes. Add the garlic and cumin and stir for a minute. Add the black beans and stir for a few minutes. Salt and pepper to taste and remove from heat. 

Veggie Friend Also Recommends: Another thing I do with sweet potatoes is slice them into (roughly) 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices, lay them on a baking sheet (no oil or spray) and cook them at 375 for about 15 minutes or until they're soft. I then eat them as is or dip them in peanut sauce (a recipe for another day) or some other dip I have around. You can also mix this up by coating the potatoes in a little oil, lime juice, chili powder, and salt before roasting them. Delicious.

@ashemischief suggested this, which is very similar to how I like to cook asparagus: I like to chop them & roast them with a mix of other potatoes in olive oil, parsley, salt & pepper. Also the Outback way is delish.

Well, I've never been to Outback, however, Google holds all the answers:


Outback's Sweet Potato Recipe

1 large sweet potato
2 tablespoons shortening
2 tablespoons kosher salt
3 tablespoons softened butter
3 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Rub outside of potato with shortening and sprinkle with kosher salt. Bake the potatoes at 350F for 45 to 60 minutes (until soft). Split the potato.Whip together butter and honey and put inside. Sprinkle with cinnamon and serve.

In other news, you can also turn carrots into "bacon." But I'm from the Midwest. That fact that "everything tastes better deep fried" is not news to me. 

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Peek-a-Boo Pin Ups

Last night, my sister-in-law's dance studio, Room To Move, was converted into a photography studio for Peek-a-Boo Pin Ups. We had fun behind the scenes:

Getting her hair done
Peek-a-boo Pin Ups at Room to Move Studio

It turned out quite cute!
Peek-a-Boo Pin Ups

Doing make-up
Peek-a-Boo Pin Ups

Sexy ballerina
Peek-a-Boo Pin Ups

Reviewing her photos with the photographer
Peek-a-Boo Pin Ups

Playing with tutus
Peek-a-Boo Pin Ups

My outfit was a tribute to the Sailor, but I decided I wasn't comfortable posting that much cleavage. Sorry! :)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Why did I ever stop?

I've really been slacking on my running lately. I was already slacking when we decided we were going to move, and then I just completely stopped running to take time to pack and move. And then it got hot. And my commute is longer so running in the morning went from hard to impossible, and now I need ever more of a mental kick in the butt to go after work.

Anyway, I went running today for the first time in weeks. I should never stop running! My pace was slow. I didn't go as far as I normally do. But that's to be expected when you slack on anything.

Of course the heat isn't going to go away anytime soon. But I just need to suck it up and deal with it. Try, and even I get too hot, just walk. But at least try. You never succeed if you don't try.

Or I could get a gym membership and run in a sweaty, stinky gym on a treadmill. Ugh. Or run in the forest preserves. Those might be a couple degrees cooler.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Happy Anniversary, Olive

happy adoption-versary, little fur ball. can you feel the love?
Our "Anniversary Picture." Doesn't she look thrilled?
One year ago, I adopted "Chewie" from my best friend. I renamed her Olive and fell in love with her soft fur and constant purring. Even when we had litter box issues. I'd like to think that after a year I've sort of figured her out. It's been a good year and I look forward to many more with the little stinker.