30 November 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Chicago Love



29 November 2011

Thankful For: The Memories

This Thanksgiving weekend was spent in Michigan and some sweet memories left me so incredibly thankful for the magic of making them and for the wonder and pleasure remembering will bring me for years to come. 



 I finally got to introduce Joe to the simple pleasures of a day trip to Frankenmuth, complete with a family-style chicken dinner, a stop in Bronner's (we got several goodies to add to our Christmas decorations), and a horse and carriage ride around town.



And while we were in Frankenmuth, Joe and I decided to try a bottle of Michigan wine. Can you believe it? I grew up in Michigan, but had never tried a wine from Michigan. We shared the bottle with my parents, and most surprisingly of all, with my Grandma. I've never had a drink with Grandma before, so this was a special memory for me. Making a sweet weekend even sweeter. And truth be told, I liked the wine. It was a bit sweet, but I prefer sweet wines. Michigan's grapes and cherrries are grown in the Traverse Bay area and are some of the sweetest in the world, no lie. If a bottle of Michigan wine crosses your path, enjoy it!

28 November 2011

Some Breathtaking Beauty to Start Your Week



23 November 2011

Love

With the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday spreading warmth and cheer and love all around, take a minute and read this. Have a happy Thanksgiving, full of love and good cheer!

22 November 2011

Us

Joe just sent me an email, linking to this page

His email says, "The last one made me think of us."


I think he might be right about that. This whole strip looks just like the two of us. It's adorable. 

Celebrate the Little Things

Peeps, if you know me by now, you know that I'm a big believer in celebrating the little things. 

Case in point?

Tonight Joe wraps up a phenomenally successful semester. 

So to celebrate, I've purchased him a bottle of his favorite liquor and some soda as a mixer. 

Such a little moment, such a little reward, but absolutely still worth celebrating. 

Keep that in mind as we head into the holiday season!

18 November 2011

Friday Few

Just a few links you should check out if you have time:


The Hidden World of Girls. On NPR. I am becoming addicted.  

17 November 2011

Surprise Dates

As I mentioned a while back, I planned a surprise date for Joe and I for our four year anniversary. (Gosh, time really does fly, doesn't it?)

And the biggest surprise of it all was, I managed to keep it a secret from Joe until we were standing right in front of our date venue. 

Sure, I may have doled out a few hints along the way....."it's four hours long"......."and we need to bring three bottles of wine"......but I kept it a secret.

A half-off Yelp deal helped make this an affordable date night out for a special occasion. 

Our venue? None other than Cook Au Vin in Bucktown for a French cooking lesson.

Our menu? The Vuitton Menu:
Starter: Coquille Saint Jacques
Lutees live scallop filled with Mornay sauce and julienned vegetables.

Finished product.

What it looked like on the inside. Yum!

Entree: Poulet Chasseur
Sauteed chicken cooked in a mushroom, white wine, Cognac, and tomato sauce. 


Side: Tournee Vegetables
Seasonable vegetables cut to have precisely seven faces, cooked to perfection, served with decadent sauce.

Desert: Far Breton
Traditional prune cake from Brittany.

When we arrived, the table was set and appetizers of French butter, rosemary goat cheese, brie, and chorizio were set out alongside freshly baked bread for us to snack on as we cooked. 




I've heard reports of French butter being far superior to American crap, and let me tell you, SO true. I loved the butter. 


There were three other couples plus the charming chef. We learned things like how to roast garlic, how to perfectly roast a red pepper, that smart kitchen prep involves starting with cleanest to dirtiest (translation: prep the chicken last - you won't have to worry about contamination and you skip the need for multiple cutting boards/knives). 


We learned how to set things on fire, how to properly juilenne vegetables, and what oils to use. How to look cute in dorky hats, how wine makes everything better, and just how much the French really do love their butter (holy cow!). 


The food was amazing. The fun of the meal was in the prepwork. And I'd call our anniversary date a success! 


16 November 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Lincoln Park Conservatory




15 November 2011

Today's Must Read: Climbing Kilimanjaro

Please, take some time today and read this. People amaze me. 

14 November 2011

KtMac Reviews: The Tiger's Wife





Author: Tea Obreht

The Good: The author definitely weaves a tale that seems to bring in the richness and variety of cultures I experienced in my all too brief trips to the Balkans.

The Bad: Unfortunately, the story wasn't well woven and it was often confusing as to which character was telling what story when. I couldn't follow the storyline at all, and was barely surprised when the story seemed to just end as if the author ran out of steam to keep writing. 

The Verdict: Not often I say this, but skip. Absolutely skip. 

Alive

Alive. 


Yes, yes I am. 

I didn't mean to disappear last week. My laptop power cord died. 


But my boyfriend is a magician and magically ordered me a replacement cord for the cost of $5 and lots of kisses. So I'm back. 

With stories to tell, oh yes


Stories of successful surprise dates and weekends with friends and thoughts swirling around my pretty little head and of books read and wishes to extend. 

So, be ready my friends. Stories are coming. 


Stories that celebrate the simple, every day magic of being alive. 

07 November 2011

In Your Arms

Happy little video to start the week off right:



Thanks to Tiger for sharing this sweet video with me!

04 November 2011

Happy Weekend!

It's been a morning, my friends, and only been the slightest bit bearable because it's almost the weekend. 


I have a surprised date planned out for Joe and I on Saturday afternoon as our anniversary gift. The biggest part of the surprise is that I haven't spilled the beans yet. If you know me, you know how impossible it is for me to keep a secret when it comes to gift-giving. Stay tuned for details!


Then we have lunch plans with Joe's like a sister friend from his Peace Corps days in Albania. I adore this sassy, spunky girl and can't wait to hear about her new Peace Corps adventures in Morocco. 


And I'm sure there'll be some time spent cuddling on the couch with hot chocolate and the brothers Crane. Our three shared addictions of the moment. 


But also some down time apart. Joe playing computer games and/or working on homework. Me working on holiday cheer and starting the massive task of cleaning out and organizing my photo database. I've requested an external hard drive, but I need to do my homework before we can seriously talk about it. No need to just shift junk to a new storage location. 


Plus, I know I have so many more great pictures to share. Like these, scenes of Chicago, all taken from the L as it made its way around the Loop and back north towards home. 


I look at these pictures. Just taken on a whim. Just to play with my camera and amuse myself, since I'm still so outdated that I don't have a smartphone. And I realize, this sweet city of mine, it really captures my heart. Second only to Joe, of course. 


There's just something about this city that lets me know, no matter where life may take us, we'll always have a home here. The door will stay open and the lights are waiting. It's a blessing, really, to know you have somewhere where you'll always belong


And that little glow will keep my heart warm throughout the ugly winter that weathermen are promising us again this year. But it's Chicago, and the Midwest....every winter is ugly. Somehow, I don't mind. After all, I've got Joe and hot chocolate. Who could ask for anything more?

03 November 2011

Rainy Afternoon Blues


Adding a little pop of color in an otherwise dreary rainy afternoon. 

Thoughts on Gratitude

These thoughts are swirling around my head these days. Bumping past each other, colliding, spiraling off into new tangents.



And what I've realized is so simple, but yet, somehow, so profound. 

I am happiest when I have wonder and gratitude actively living in my daily life. 


For you see, for me, wonder and gratitude go hand-in-hand. 

When I wonder with amazement at the small things in my life, I find myself overwhelmed with gratitude to be lucky enough to be here, right now, right here, right in this moment to experience that small wonder.


And when the gratitude and wonder bubble out, my happy heart is full to bursting. I find contentment and peace in that moment. And in peace, I find happiness.

Which makes me pause. 


Why is it so easy for the every day to become so mundane?

Why is it so easy to forget the magic of these little moments?

Why is it so hard to always remember to be grateful for life and its little surprises?

Why don't I live life this way all the time?


So now, I am. I am trying to be mindful of the little things and the happiness they bring me. Of the moments where my heart is so full, I think it will just burst. And of how happy those moments make me when they turn into memories. 

And I tell you, my friends, my little heart finds itself full-to-bursting so easily these days. Life really is magical.

02 November 2011

Wordless Wednesdays: Autumn Sky

Trying something new for Wednesdays.



01 November 2011

KtMac Confessions: Katie the Koala

This year's Halloween costume came from a childhood nickname. 


Which started with the gift of a sweet stuffed koala puppet when I was a wee, little thing.  I even found a picture of her in her heyday. If I were to dig her out of my parents' attic now, Katie the Koala would look quite a bit different. She was much loved, to say the least.


Okay, okay. Enough gushing over the cuteness that was the wee Mac kids back in the day.  Here....do you see Katie the Koala yet?


This picture was taken on a family vacation to Mammoth Caves when I was about seven, Dan was maybe two, and Pat, chubby bubby baby he was, was only three or four months old. (Yes, he was so chubby at birth I couldn't even hold him). Katie the Koala got her own suitcase full of doll clothes for the trip. I think the dress she had on in this picture was stolen from a Cabbage Patch Kid. 

One random night, I confessed to Joe that Katie the Koala had her own little song. And somehow, Katie the Koala came back in vogue as a suitable nickname for me. 

Katie the koala, lives up in a tree.
Katie the koala, eats eucalyptus leaves.
Katie the koala, has sharp, sharp toes.
Katie the koala, has a big black nose.

That's how, twenty years later, I became Katie the koala for Halloween. And yes, I did sing the Katie the Koala song many times on our way out the door. I think Joe has it memorized now.