Saturday, April 9, 2011


I mentioned a while back that aside from blogging, I've been working on creating "yearbooks". Luckily I've been consistent the past 3-4 years with uploading and organizing my photos. The biggest task was reorganizing them all by year and then selecting the pictures for the book. Organizing them on shutterfly was a breeze with only one glitch in the end. Initially I chose to auto load the images so to speak. These means shutterfly automatically builds the book in chronological order based on the pictures selected. Well, I learned that when you complete your books this way, versus custom, you can't have text on the spine. So, after completing 2008-2010, I remade them all custom style so that I could have the year noted on the spine.

I finally ordered my first book last week! Without coupons these can get pricey fast. I ended up using a $20 off coupon, free shipping and a 20% off 12x12 books special. The total ended up being just over $100. When you think about how much it would have cost to print the pictures and buy in albumn, shutterfly seems like a steal! I feel like the books have much more longevity that actual albums as well. The photo albums I have from years past are not in great shape.

Take a look at 2010! I am so happy with the way it turned out. The online version doesn't do it justice, the book is really cool. I can't wait to order 2008 and 2009! It's such a good feeling to actually do something with the pictures I take!

Click here to view this photo book larger

Friday, March 11, 2011

Happy Mardi Gras

This year I was really feeling Fat Tuesday. I am totally missing Nola, and our darling Purrl was spayed Tuesday so it was the perfect excuse to stay in and make a meal. First things first, I cranked the cajun pandora station took care of the costume:

All the cooking made me thirsty, luckily I was prepared:

Dinner took a some time to prep since I was making a vegetarian friendly jambalaya:

I found a recipe for Jambalaya with Shrimp and Andouille Sausage on Below is the original recipe with my modifications noted.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 1/2 cups)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 tablespoon minced garlic
6 ounces andouille sausage, sliced I used Soy Chorizo Sausage
1 cup uncooked long-grain white rice I used brown rice and increased the cooking time about 20-25 minutes since brown takes longer than white
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1 bay leaf
2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth I used low sodium veggie broth
3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce I used cayanne red pepper
1 (14.5-ounce) can no salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 pound peeled and deveined medium shrimp
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley I left this out since I didn't have any

Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion, chopped bell pepper, minced garlic, and sausage; sauté 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Add rice and the next 7 ingredients (through bay leaf); cook 2 minutes. Add broth, water, tomato paste, hot pepper sauce, and diced tomatoes; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes(longer for brown rice. Add shrimp; cook 5 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes. Discard bay leaf. Stir in parsley.

The final product was so delicious and tasted pretty authentic!! Will be making this again soon, bad picture though:

Finally, I picked up a special dessert. I thought the colors where pretty fitting for Mardi Gras, I do wish they would have had purple too. These fantastic cake balls came from Bleeding Heart, my favorite vegan bakery. The red was red velvet and the green was cookies and cream. These were so amazing, a splurge I will be adding to my go to list when I need a sweet treat:

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Here comes the sun

This has been a brutal winter. I am not sure if winters get tougher the older you get or if maybe this one was just extra crappy. Aside from snowstorms,and random power outages, o and a minor electrical fire in which I pulled every muscle in my body getting all my animals into cages or on leashes and outside, it's been a fairly uneventfull winter.

Many exciting things coming up though! Mike and I are returning to Playa Del Carmen, where we honeymooned three years ago, in May for a week long visit! I plan to lounge, and lounge and cannot tell you how excited I am for this vacation.

Once the weather gets better I have a list of fun things I want to do around the city that I live in as well. I am due for a trip to China Town, need to go to the skybox at the top of the Willis, and hit up some museums. I also plan on taking full advantage of the free concerts at Pritzker Park as soon as they kick off!

Enjoy the thaw and let's cross our fingers spring is upon us soon!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

O blog, how I've neglected you

I miss blogging quit a bit but I made a New Years Resolution to start documenting my life in a way that won't just *poof* go away some day. I've been working on making photo books online for each year going back to 2008, because really? what did I have going on in my life pre-Mike. In all actuality, I had a lot going on before 08' and probably a lot more interesting pictures since I was a little more wild. The truth is, I didn't have a digital camera...and I am certainly not going to challenge myself to scanning a decade worth of pictures, o and ummm, well, developing them too.

I finished 2008, 2009 and 2010. I still need to do a final proof and then save up my pennies to actually order the darn things since they are a bit pricey. I know they will be worth it though, and I can't tell you how great it feels to actually do something with all the photos I take!

I just wanted to take a minute for a quick update, and to wish everyone a happy new year! I'll be back soon once I wrap up my projects!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Quick and Easy Almond Cookies, LOVE these

Last Sunday was just frigid and snowing. On Saturday I made the decision that I was not going to leave the house on Sunday which meant forgoing my usual trip to the grocery store. Around 9pm I started to get a hankering for something sweet. With limited ingrediants on hand I found this recipe online and happened to have everything. These were quick, easy, and tasty!

I plan to make these again and experiment with some add ins. Chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, maybe cranberries. We'll see!


3/4 c. sugar (I used splenda baking sugar)
1/3 c. butter, softened
1/3 c. oil
1 tbsp. milk
1-2 tsp. almond extract
1 egg
1 1/2 c. flour (I used whole wheat)
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. sugar (splenda again)

Heat oven to 375. In large bowl, beat 3/4 cup sugar, butter, oil, milk, almond extract and egg until light and fluffy. Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup; level off. Stir in flour, baking powder and salt; blend well.
Spread evenly in ungreased 15x10x1 inch baking pan; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar. Bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 5 minutes; cut into bars. 4 dozen bar cookies.

Although, I will say this made about 16 bars...not 4 dozen. Those would be TINY!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Dixie Kitchen and a good pie!

This post is a little overdue but I still wanted to share this recipe from My family came to Chicago to celebrate my Dad's birthday. With the cold weather approaching we decided to go to Dixie Kitchen for a little bit of the south. The food there is great, southern with a cajun twist. The drinks are pretty good too, slightly reminiscent of Pat O'Briens in Nola.

Instead of a cake I made a pie. I thought that my Dad preferred pie to cake, but then my mother informed me that they got in a fight one year when she made him a pie. Luckily he didn't fight me!

Since his birthday was in November I thought a pumpkin pie to be appropriate! I really like this version because of the crunchy streusal topping! It gives the pie a nice little crunch! I also love anything with oatmeal! The amount of oats we go through in this house is insanity!

Pumpkin Streusal Pie

1/2 cup granulated sugar (I used splenda sugar)
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar (I used splenda sugar)
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour ( I used whole wheat flour)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin
1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk ( I used light)
2 large eggs, beaten to blend
10-inch pie pastry for a single-crust pie (for leaves, see notes above)
Walnut streusel
1. Preheat oven to 375°. In a bowl, mix granulated sugar, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and ginger. Add pumpkin, milk, and eggs; whisk until well blended.

2. Pour mixture into unbaked 10-inch pie pastry in pan. Sprinkle walnut streusel evenly over filling.

3. Bake on the bottom rack until a knife inserted in center comes out clean, 60 to 65 minutes.

4. Set on a rack until cool to touch, about 2 hours. Cut into wedges.

Walnut Streusal
1/2 cup firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup all-purpose flour (I used whole wheat flour)
1/4 cup (1/8 lb.) butter
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
In a bowl, combine all ingredients and mix until crumbly.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I Finally Did It!

Dixie now smiles for the camera! Look at those pearly whites!