Urban Farmer

Inspiration for the new week!

UF4

I have something to admit: I have no green thumb.  It’s something that has haunted me, especially since my parents are both very talented with growing both plants and produce, and even more so as I’ve gotten into the idea of growing things on my own as an adult.  Growing anything of substance can be challenging in a city, unless you’re one of the lucky few with a hidden urban oasis, but I’m fortunate enough to have a little room to house a few plants.  I’ve been experimenting with a few plants, including some succulents and a basil plant, and have tried to be diligent with their care, although I’m not consistent.   Still, I enjoy the habit of maintaining them and have been pleasantly surprised whenever I see them continue to grow.  And even though I’m far from a farmer of any kind, I do enjoy dressing the part with a large sunhat while I lounge in my greenhouse (aka my deck).
P.S. The basil plant has survived long enough to contribute to a number of dishes, including a tasty pesto and a spin on a classic caprese salad. Posts and recipes to follow!

Fashion note: I’m wearing Gap jeans, an Anthropologie hat (similar here) and J.Crew sandals (similar here).

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WEEKLY WRAP UP/WEEKEND COUNTDOWN

What got me through the week and what I’m looking forward to this weekend!

Lake
Searching for sharks

It’s hard to believe the summer is winding down, but it’s not over yet.  The last few weeks have been busy and this weekend is no exception, with the wedding of two close friends taking place.  I’m looking forward to the mini-road trip we’ll be taking for the wedding and to making the most of the last few weeks of summer.

  1. Film concert series: I’m not one to visit the symphony often, but the Chicago Symphony Orchestra has an on-going series which piqued my interest.  Their film concert series pairs a classic movie with a live orchestra. The featured films are ones with memorable scores and are screened in entirety while the score is played by the orchestra.  For my birthday, my fiance gave me tickets to the Jaws screening, which was such a fun experience I can’t wait to go back for another show.
  2. Summer crudite platter: The summer produce is bountiful this time of year, making a perfect opportunity for a crudite platter.  The brightness of the vegetables makes for a beautiful dish, plus it’s a healthy spin on an appetizer.  Follow this recipe to make it for your next cookout!
  3. Prince Street Podcast: I’ve been getting into podcasts for my commute, while I write and sometimes when  I workout.  There are so many options out there, it’s hard to sift through and find ones that are well made and meet your interests.  I discovered the Prince Street Podcast accidentally and I’m so glad I did! It features culinary experts from various backgrounds interviewing other hot-shots in the food world. Do not listen while hungry!
  4. Princess Diana documentary: With the upcoming anniversary of her death, there are a lot of documentaries and specials airing.  I was pleasantly surprised by the ABC documentary, which was well-detailed and featured little known details as well as interviews from some of those closest to Diana.  It’s worth the watch.

Date night in Venice- Part 1

Delicious recipes for the curious cook!

Venetian meatballs

For a very long time, my fiance and I wanted to take a cooking class to learn more techniques, further our skills in the kitchen and just indulge in some really good quality food.  We finally had the chance last month when I surprised him with cooking classes at a local cooking school.  Thanks to a happy accident, the class we originally registered for was cancelled and we were able to join a Venetian Nights themed cooking class, and we were so happy we did!

I’m a firm believer of the thought that you can always know more and that was proven true during this class. I realized I’ve been slicing onions and garlic incorrectly for my entire life, learned some insider tips regarding dessert ingredients and what to use to form the best shaped meatballs.  At the end of the night, our bellies were full and satisfied thanks to a wonderful, entirely hands-on cooked-by-us meal of Venetian favorites.  

I’ll be sharing one recipe from the class each week.  First up are meatballs in a pancetta tomato sauce.  Trust me, they’re good.  So good, in fact, that I temporarily broke from my no red-meat rule to try them and I didn’t regret it one bit.  

MEATBALLS WITH PANCETTA TOMATO SAUCE

Yield: About 2 dozen meatballs
Active time: 30 minutes
Start to finish: 45 minutes

For the meatballs:
1/2 pound ground chuck
1/2 pound ground pork
1 egg, well beaten
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, rough chopped
1/3 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
Salt and pepper to taste

For the sauce:
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 pound pancetta, small dice
1/2 onion, medium dice
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 cup red wine
One 28-ounce can crushed San Marzano tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons fresh basil, leaves torn
Salt and pepper to taste
Pinch of granulated sugar, if desired


  1. Preheat the oven to 375° and line a sheet tray with parchment paper.
    2. In a medium-size bowl, gently mix together the ground meat, egg, breadcrumbs, oregano, chili
    flakes, parsley, ricotta, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Form the mixture into 1-inch
    meatballs, and set them on the prepared tray.
    3. Bake the meatballs until slightly firm and browned on the bottoms, about 15 minutes.
    4. While the meatballs are baking, prepare the sauce. Heat a wide, heavy pan over medium-low
    heat, and add the olive oil. Gently sauté the pancetta until just crispy.
    5. Stir in the onion and sauté until lightly caramelized around the edges, 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in the
    garlic and cook an additional minute, or until aromatic.
    6. Deglaze the pan with the red wine, and reduce until almost dry.

 

Recipe courtesy of The Chopping Block.

Late summer workout gear

Motivation to get you through hump day!

OV summer

I’m a huge fan of everything from Outdoor Voices.  I don’t normally endorse doing anything but exercising in workout gear, but we all have days when post-yoga errands turn into an entire day spent in our leggings.  But who says you can’t at least look cute in those leggings? That’s why I love OV and their workout gear.  Everything is functional and stylish, so it’s the perfect option for both class and post-class errands.  

Unlike so many activewear brands, which are either functional but lack style or are cute but lack the durability you need to sustain a class, Outdoor Voices options offer both.  They’re made with the technical fabric you need to absorb sweat and allow you to go from class to brunch without needing an outfit change.  The latest hues like the one featured above are unique and are the perfect options for the end of summer and into fall when outside workouts followed by outdoor drinks are in full swing!

Image via.

Summer Suit

Inspiration for the new week!

summer suit2

I love a good suit- a pantsuit, jumpsuit, and playsuit are all good options to me.  Anything that creates an effortless, easy and streamlined look is okay in my wardrobe.  It’s no surprise then that I took this approach when putting together my latest version of a suit- a summer suit.  I paired one of my favorite classic jackets with my favorite denim shorts and sneakers for a simple, comfortable, yet playful and put together, summer look.  This is the perfect outfit for a summer work-from-home Friday, providing both the structure and the fun needed for the end of the work week.  After all, nothing says “summer” like gingham and cutoffs!

summer suit1

Fashion note: I’m wearing a J.Crew blazer (similar here), Madewell denim shorts (here), and Converse sneakers (similar here).  

 

Cauliflower Steaks

Delicious recipes for the curious cook!

cauliflower

One of my favorite vegetables is cauliflower.  It makes its way into many of the dishes eaten in my household, from a roasted side dish to a mac-and-cheese like dish, there are countless ways to eat this wonderful veggie.  But cauliflower has started to find its way to the center of the plate, being featured as an vegetarian entree option at many restaurants and in many culinary magazines.  I recently came across this recipe on Instagram and had to try it.

Cauliflower is hearty and substantial enough to stand on its own and can be cut into steak-like portions that, paired with some toppings and tasty sides, work as a healthy and delicious main meal.  The combo of the roasted tomatoes and green beans is perfect and if you’re going to make these cauliflower steaks, I highly recommend you make the whole meal.  I don’t even like green beans and I scarfed it all down.  Trust me, your stomach will thank you!

Thoughts on yoga

Motivation to get you through hump day!

benefits of yoga

A few weeks ago was the international day of yoga, and even though this post is a little belated, I wanted to take the time to share some thoughts and honor the practice that has given me so much.  

Before practicing yoga, I struggled with maintaining a healthy routine of any kind.  Once I discovered yoga and almost instantly felt some of its many benefits, everything changed.  I discovered how to live a life of wellness, both on and off the mat.  In the 6 years I’ve been practicing, yoga has transformed me both physically and mentally.  I look and feel better than I ever have and yoga’s positive impact has been felt in so many aspects of my life.  Yoga hasn’t made me a rigid, health nut who never indulges or enjoys herself, but rather, it has enabled me to discover balance.  It has influenced me to want to make healthy choices for myself and to understand when to be kind to myself and practice patience with myself and others.  It hasn’t made me perfect, because that’s impossible, but it has allowed me to try and be my healthiest self and for that, I’m truly thankful.  I encourage anyone who’s hesitant to give yoga a try or anyone who hasn’t practiced in a while to get back on the mat.  After all, as the yogis say, “no yoga, no peace; know yoga, know peace.”


If you’re looking for some motivation or reasons to try, here’s a great article highlighting the many benefits of yoga.

Image via Byrdie.