"Moon's so bright...

Like to light up the night,

Make everything all right

Down in Mexico"

Name that tune?

Mr. James Taylor of course.

In the wee hours of tonight (technically Friday morning, really), Joel and I will be heading down to paradise.

I have been so busy this month, that I still haven't even packed. In fact, I haven't even thought about packing.

I'm going for 9 days and...guess what...I'm going to bring a carry on!

I want this vacation to be stress free and relaxing, and not having to deal wtih a checked bag is step #1.

I cannot wait to be sipping margartia's, wearing sun hats, and taking in the views.

There are only a few things in my way before I set sail (like, packing.....)...but my mind has already planted itself firmly at the beach.

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and New Years and I will see you back here in 2012.



Holiday Dip

If your schedule looks anything like mine, you have holidays parties night after night.

A lot of which have been falling on week nights. I hate going to a party empty handed, so with a short amount of time to cook up anything, I’ve found (thanks to my cousin, Amanda), the easiest and yummiest recipe ever.

Caprese Dip

All you need:
1 pkg grape tomatoes
1 pkg of basil
1 pkg of Light Bourison

Cut the grape tomatoes in half and rip small pieces of basil

Lay out the tomatoes at the bottom of your baking dish. Sprinke the basil, and scoop on the boursin.
Bake in oven at 375 for 15-20 minutes.

Serve with crackers and voila!

This dish is easy, light, and “semi-homemade”!


Restaurant Review: Sable

This season on Top Chef (Texas), 6 of the contestants are Chicago chef’s. My boss is a huge Top Chef fan, so as a Christmas present we took him to Sable where chef Heather Terhune cooks up fancy soul food.

Sable is located in River North on the first floor of Hotel Palomar, which is just 4 blocks away from our office.

We had 5:30 reservations and by the time we got there the place was packed.

It’s a very swanky, upscale, modern bar with warm leather seating and an electronic fireplace. A perfect place to people watch and be a part of the trendy, hip Chicago crowd.

They had a table reserved for us right in front of the kitchen. Unfortunately, we missed Chef Heather by just a few minutes, but I liked the fact that we were able to watch the chef’s cook up all of our dishes.

The menu is made for sharing and is intended for you to order in rounds, rather than “appetizer, entrĂ©e, dessert”.

Our group started out with Wisconsin cheese curds and spicy ketchup.

The spicy ketchup sophisticated these cheese balls, but bowling alley’s in Wisconsin cook these babies up a little better.

Next up were the pomegranate short ribs and duck fat fries. The ribs were the crowd favorite. The meat fell of the bone and the glaze was just sweet enough.

The fries were cut too thick for my liking but had a really nice shaved cheese on top and were much better than your average fry.

Last round was The Ranch Burger and Bacon Wrapped Dates.

The dates were the biggest dates I’ve ever had. They were wrapped by thickly cut bacon, and while they were incredibly indulgent, they were almost too much – if that is such a thing.

The Ranch Burger ($16), was cut in 4 for us to share and was my favorite dish. Made on a pretzel bun, the burger had an avocado spread and a fried egg. It’s a very large burger though, so if you do order it, I would plan on sharing.

Overall, we had a great experience at Sable. It’s not calorie friendly or healthy – by any means – but the prices are fair and the food is far above average. I will be coming back again soon. 


Random Wrap Up

Last week was such a roller coaster. I had some of the best and the worst days of 2011 in one week’s time.

No one wants to hear about the worst, so let’s jump into the good stuff.
On Friday, my boss took all of the managers out to lunch and then let us head home early from work. A few of the girls stayed back after lunch and ordered a bottle of wine. Which then, made me promptly fall asleep on the couch at home around 3pm. I’m pretty sure I’m not capable of being a “lady who lunches”.

Friday night was spectacular. Every year in Chicago, the free, Lincoln Park Zoo, puts on a light show around Christmas time. It’s no typical light show – it is a zoo that is transformed into a happy, winter wonderland. The offer spiced wine and beer, and you can walk around the zoo, check out the animals, listen to Christmas music, observe ice sculptures, and take in the sweeping views of the skyline.

It takes about an hour or two to walk around the zoo, so at 8:30, we walked right across the street to the Belden-Stratford and had dinner at Mon Ami Gabi.

It was honestly a perfect night.

We headed home on Saturday morning to celebrate Christmas with my family. Sunday morning, we all woke up early and had our own “Christmas morning”. After exchanging presents we had a big brunch and had my grandparents and cousins over for an early dinner.

It was such a fun weekend and filled me to the brim with the holiday spirit.

Just in time to head out of dodge this week and head to Mexico!

I have SO much to do in order to get ready for Mexico, but that’s a whole other post in itself.


Here is what I wore last week….

Gap pants, TB wedges, Nordstrom jacket, F21 necklace
Juicy Couture blazer, Paige jeans, BCBG shoes, Gap blouse

Gap button down, Paige jeans, Cole Haan boots

Ann Taylor top, Gap pants, Payless wedges

Have a great Monday lovies!


I love you, Sandra Lee

With a full time job, endless obligations, a house that seriously cannot stay dust-less, it becomes increasingly harder to cook and bake from scratch.
Which is why my favorite girl in the world is Sandra Lee.

I love the concept of all of her recipes and I apply it to most of my dinners and desserts that I cook up.

I hosted a cookie exchange last night and my contribution were these two – no pain cookie recipes.
I mean, you cannot make it easier than this….and I promise they are cute and delish!

Christmas Chips
1 bag of square pretzels
2 bags of peppermint kisses
1 bag of holiday m&m’s

1. Pre-heat ovem to 175

2. Lay out your pretzels and place 1 kiss on each

3. Put in over for 6 minutes

4. Place m&m on top, smush it in!

5. Freeze for 15 minutes – and enjoy!

White-Chocolate Oreos
1 box of Oreos
2 boxes of baking white chocolate
1 box of candy canes
1 hammer

1. Put 3 candy canes in a zip lock bag and hammer into pieces

2. Melt white chocolate in microwave for 3 minutes. Stir every 30 seconds

3. Dip oreo into melted chocolate

4. Sprinkle with peppermint pieces


Secret Shopper

Last night, for 3 hours, Joel and I attended a training to become Secret Diners for Lettuce Entertain You, a large restaurant group here in Chicago. They own 31 restaurants in the city and suburbs– some of which include the most expensive, top notch restaurants the city has to offer (Tru and L20).

In May, Joel had a co-worker who was doing this program, and told Joel that we should really consider filling out an application. One night, after a few glasses of wine, we sat down and filled out the extensive application. The questions were pretty fun; what is your favorite restaurant? What was the best meal you last enjoyed?, etc.

Last week, we found out we were accepted, and here we are today.

So….on to the details.

Lettuce Entertain You breaks their “secret raters” into 2 groups; causal and fine dining. We are starting in the casual dining group.

We got our schedule last night, and in the next 10 weeks, we will be going to 7 restaurants.

At every restaurant there is an extensive amount of area’s that we need to rate. From what the hostess says, to how the door works on your entrance into the restaurant. Each restaurant has certain guidelines for what you need to order, but the majority of them require you to get 1 appetizer and 2 entrees, as well as 1 glass of wine/cocktail (and dessert is optional).

Within 24 hours of dining, we need to complete the review and send it, along with the receipt of all of our purchases (including taxi, coat check, bar tab, dinner, tip, etc.).

We are fully reimbursed for every dining meal, as well as given $10 for each completed review.

If we are good, dutiful reviewers, we will graduate and move on to the fine dining experience, where...shit gets real.

A couple that we met last night have completed the fine dining experience and said they were compensated for $700-$800 dollar meals every week.

For those of you who are Chicago girls, here is the list of the restaurants we will be reviewing…

Big Bowl:

Mity Nice (In Watertower):


 Food Life (In Watertower):



Paris Club:

And, don’t worry, I asked our trainer if I was allowed to share this experience, and my reviews, on here and she gave me full permission!


Layered Looks I'm Loving

 To stay warm during the winter months in Chicago, you have to bundle up and layer. The problem with this is that my fail safe is cardigans, and I'm just so DARN sick of wearing cardigans.

Thankfully, these stylish ladies have given me a lot of inspirtation looks to layer without the dreaded cardi.


A Merry Monday

What is about vacation that makes the 2 weeks before take-off absolutely beyond chaotic?

Since we leave next Friday, I have this pressure to fit everything in beforehand and I can feel myself getting pretty close to bursting.

Right after work on Friday I went and got a manicure. I was well overdue and it was such a nice way to end the week. My nail girl always gives me a neck massage before she applies the polish, and I literally almost fell asleep during the 3 minute rub down.

I went with an army green – a little outside the box – but very festive and fun!

After the salon I met up with 3 girlfriends for sushi and a comedy show. I was just enjoying my time and so I didn’t get a chance to snap up any pictures.
On Saturday morning, at the ripe time of 6:45am, I got a call that the TV I had won was going to be delivered around 9. I was all sorts of excited, so I got out of bed and pretty much waited until I heard a truck pull up.

The TV I won is absolutely huge and gorgeous, and we are seriously loving it. I had to do a few re-decorating touches to make it work in our living room (like raise that mirror), but we are so happy and lucky to have this beauty!

After we got the TV set up, Joel and I like a bunch of idiots, took on Michigan Ave. Boy was that a mistake. Every store and sidewalk was like a madhouse of people and shopping bags. The Crate’n’Barrel was borderline breaking fire code.

Luckily we were able to cross a lot of people off of our list and I’m really happy with all of the gifts I will be giving this year.

After 5 hours of shopping, we went home and got ready for a holiday party at our friends house. We did a wine exchange where everyone brings a wrapped bottle of wine – then everyone gets a chance to unwrap a bottle or steal a bottle. It was a really fun activity, and I’m going to steal the idea for the ornament/cookie exchange that I am going to be hosting on Thursday.

Hannah, from A Big Little Life, was at the party too, and was dressed supppper cute.

Sunday I hit up the grocery store and did some cleaning, then was treated to a trip to the movie theatres. We had lunch there (1 large popcorn to share) and saw New Years Eve. I wasn’t too crazy about the movie, but I did develop a slight crush for Mr. Efron.

This week I have a few more presents to pick up, an orientation for the secret restaurant group, a cookie exchange, and a night at the Lincoln Park Zoo to see all of the Christmas lights. Should be nothing short of…….chaotic!


Ello, Darling!

Today is the first snow Chicago has seen yet! I’m actually a fan of 4 seasons, so I’m welcoming the cold and the snow with open arms.

Plus, with 4 seasons, you do start to accumulate a very versatile wardrobe...
I didn't wear this with the TOMs, but I did commute in them. Switched to Reva's at work.

Getting through a full week of work can so sometimes feel like such a victory come Friday morning So, with any good victory, rewards should follow.

Tonight is girls night. After work I’m going to get a manicure and then meet up with 3 girlfriends for sushi and a comedy show. We are going to “Bye, Bye Liver” which is a series of sketches, all centered around the booze. But to really get into the swing of things, the show is filled with drinking games for the audience. Should be like a college flashback!

Tomorrow Joel and I are going to take Michigan Avenue by the horns and tackle the rest of our Christmas list. Since we will be celebrating Christmas early (the 17th) I really need to get everyone’s gifts and get them wrapped this weekend.

Saturday night my friends are having a holiday party/wine exchange. Everyone is bringing 1 wrapped bottle of wine and in the tag describing what type of wine it is; region, flavors, vineyard, etc. We then will do a little white elephant exchange where you can steal someone’s bottle.

My mom got me this dress from Nordstrom’s, and since I won’t be celebrating NYE in Chicago, this is my once chance to wear it! It looks to be sold out at Macys and Nordstrom’s, but I was able to find it at Zappos. The best part of the dress is the swoop back.

On Sunday, I may even drag Joel to the movies.

Hope you have a good weekend lined up, too!