Monthly Archives: August 2011

Dear Thugs Who Shot My Car:

You owe me $500. Plus whatever it will cost to get my city sticker replaced. Not to mention the time I’ll spend dealing with it. And I’m pretty sure Allstate would like to be reimbursed for the tow truck, the rental car, and all the repairs. I’m guessing it isn’t going to be cheap, since you unloaded four separate bullets into my vehicle.

I have to say, it took me a minute to register what had happened. When I went out to my car for a quick post office run, I found this note attached to my drivers’ side window:

I thought, oh, must have been some kind of fender bender or something. Nice of the police to leave me a note. I walked around my car, inspecting the bumpers. They looked fine – nothing more than the usual I-park-in-the-city wear and tear. So I got into the car to make sure it still worked. As I reached to put my mail on the passenger seat, I saw it. The entire seat was covered with shards of glass. I looked up and saw these:

With the glare of the morning sun, I hadn’t noticed them when I briefly inspected my car. Still thinking that – as the notice indicated – it had been an accident, I wondered what kind of flying debris or tree branches had smacked my windshield in such an odd pattern. Resigning myself to having to replace my windshield later, I trekked to the post office on foot. I thought about the car the entire time.

The more I thought about it, the more I thought those holes looked like bullets. So when I got back home, I looked at the car really carefully. Walked all the way around, twice. The cops told me you ran away afterwards, so I’m willing to bet you didn’t get a good look at what you did. Lucky for you, I’ve documented your artwork for posterity’s sake. (Uh, and maybe also for evidence and insurance claims.)

Bullet #1: Windshield, driver’s side
This was the least scary looking one. It must not have been a direct hit, because it didn’t leave an actual hole, just an impact shatter. Guess it bounced off.

Bullet #2: Windshield, passenger side.

This is the one that made me think bullet hole as I was walking, and is also the cause of all the glass shards on the passenger seat.

Bullet #3: Rear door frame, passenger side. On the left, you can see the entry hole. To the right, you can see the actual bullet still lodged in the door frame, which I found when I opened the back door to start taking my stuff out of the car. I tried valiantly, but could not get the bullet out. I wanted to keep it. Or at least hold it. I know, I’m weird.

Bullet #4: Through the roof. Literally. On the left, a nice big gash in the roof. On the right, the exit wound in the interior ceiling.

Interior Damage: At first I thought this was caused by the bullet that came in through the roof, but retrospectively I think the trajectory lines up with that big hole in the windshield. Regardless of its origin, one bullet went through the shoulder of the passenger seat (shown on the left) and into the rear seat cushion (to the right), where I am fairly certain it is still lodged.

Oh, yeah, and as far as I know no one was hurt. Witnesses saw the shooters fleeing the scene. I called the police to see if they needed my car for evidence and the officer I talked to was really nice. He looked up the case for me, told me that two other cars had been shot, and that they had all the evidence they needed from the shell casings found on the scene. Allstate has been swift in dealing with the insurance claim. They hooked me up with a rental car within an hour of my phone call and got my car towed to their body shop for repairs. Minus the aforementioned $500 deductible, it’s all covered.

Ah, city living.

Cake, Cake, and More Cake

Boy do I feel sorry for people who don’t (or can’t) eat cake. Because I love it. And it’s come to pass that the tail end of summer and the better part of fall seems to be cake-making season for me. There are so many occasions to celebrate, and as I’m sure you know, I hardly need an excuse to bake. Let’s take a look back at last year’s sweets:

Our Wedding Cake
Vanilla-Almond with Berries & Pastry Cream; Devil’s Food with Mocha Whipped Cream; Pumpkin with Ginger Buttercream

Devil’s Food with Mocha Whipped Cream, for Julia’s brother Joel’s birthday

My birthday. Can’t remember exactly what I made, but I do remember it was the ugliest cake ever to emerge from my kitchen. Pretty sure chocolate and strawberries were involved, but it was a sloppy mess.

Ellen mentioned cake on facebook, so Julia told her she should come over and I’d make her one, and a few days later I did. Sadly, I no longer have any recollection of what kind of cake it was…
Green Tea Cake with Red Bean Paste filling for Alice’s birthday (which was light and delicious and really needs to be made again soon). And yes, I know her birthday is in July, but this is when we all had the same free spot in our schedules to actually get together and celebrate it.

Would ordinarily be a month for making Julia’s birthday cake, but last year I made pie. Apple pie with FRESH FIGS. It was the BEST. PIE. EVER. Almost made me convert to a pie-as-dessert-of-choice girl. Almost.

The cake schedule is a little lighter this year, thankfully. But Joel’s birthday came around again, as birthdays do, and so there was a Heavenly Chocolate Cake Roll (gluten-free!) with strawberries added to the whipped cream filling.

I should have probably made a cake to celebrate the arrival of our new niece, Sophia, on August 16th, but I don’t think she’s picked a favorite flavor yet…

And last night we threw a party to celebrate marriage equality in New York. [Yeah, I know we live in Chicago, but a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, or whatever, so eventually it’s gonna walk this way, right? Plus, we were raising money for LAMBDA LEGAL, and you can never go wrong with that. And, you know, we’re still not equal enough. And further more, we were celebrating in solidarity with a bunch of other people at other parties all around the country. So. A party was had. Cake was eaten. Champagne was consumed in copious amounts. Drunken neighbors crashed. But I digress, as always.] Ahem.

So. Naturally, I made some Marriage Equality Cake. The purple side is Devil’s Food with Mocha Whipped Cream (are you sensing a pattern here?) and the green side is Vanilla-Almond with Apricot-Almond filling. Both were quite tasty, and I’ll be eating the leftovers all week.

Which brings us back to my birthday. I’m just gonna let you drool over what I have planned:

Twelve Layer Mocha Cake

I’ll wait while you pencil in the date on your calendar. That’s September 18th, my place, 3ish. See you there.

Restaurant Review: Chalkboard

Let’s make this one a mostly wordless post, shall we? I’ll caption the photos so you know what we’re eating, but you don’t really need much description. (Please don’t take this as a sign that I’m about to become a regular Wordless Wednesday kind of girl. Cause I probably won’t.)

In short? The service was outstanding and the food was amazing. We will definitely be back to Chalkboard soon. Possibly for their Fried Chicken & All-You-Can-Drink Champagne Wednesday night special. Want to join us?

I attempt to make my hair look nice by drying it in pin curls. Result? It lies even flatter than when I do nothing. I redeem myself somewhat by wearing a shirt that Julia loves, putting on a skirt (no pockets! Oh, the sacrifices I make…), and going so far as to apply lip gloss.

Julia looks super cute in this skirt she literally made in the three hours before we walked out the door for dinner. She laments not having enough time to add… pockets. Which means it’s a night of purse-carrying for both of us. Well, one of us (me) – because we are good at sharing. Or, as we call it, “Will you carry the purse? I don’t want to.”

Private Dining. It’s what happens when you make your Friday night reservation at an old lady time like 5:30pm. Yep.
Finally using the toasting glasses we planned to use at our wedding. They are really, really nice. Also – heavy.
And? The bubbly was quite good, amazing since we generally find champagne to be too bitter for our tastes. [It was Pierre Delize blanc de blancs, if you’re wondering. We’re told it can be purchased locally at Lush. UPDATE: I was thrilled to discover it is also carried by our neighborhood grocery store, Devon Market (on Devon, just east of Clark St. in Rogers Park) – and for a very reasonable $9.99!]

Chicken Liver Pate, with Toasted Brioche and an assortment of complimentary flavors – white beans, onions, mustard, radish, olives.

Watermelon Salad with grapes, crème fraîche, and some kind of little flowers.

Seared Scallops with vanilla sauce and olives.

Duck breast with Tzatziki sauce and fries.

Hangar steak with white beans and pesto.

(who happen to be eating chocolate chip cookie dough eggroll with chocolate ice cream.)

Things We Have Eaten Lately

I’m trying to come back friends. Really hard. I’m finding myself at a loss for words (shocking, I know) when it comes to these posts, and maybe it’s just because I’m busy and burnt out, or maybe I’m not sure where this blog is going, but I’m gonna try to just write and see what happens. As always, your comments are appreciated! I can take constructive criticism, for real. Tell me what you most enjoy reading about. (You’re only here for the food, aren’t you? That’s ok.)

So, because it’s been a while since any food was featured, here’s a roundup of some of the things we’ve consumed recently:

Three-Bean Salad with Gouda (vegetarian) – I LOVED this dish. Julia was not a huge fan, but I think that was mostly because I bought smoked gouda and she does not enjoy smoked cheeses as a rule. Too bad for her. I love them.

Ghetto dinner. Ok, this is no high-class meal, but sometimes? You just have to pick up whatever you can eat as soon as you get it home. So. Salad. Chicken. Forks. Wine. DONE.

Oh – you may remember me mentioning how awesome my wife is? And that on my vacation, she totally pampered me food-wise, even though she was NOT on vacation? She made a whole menu of really nice meals, mostly from a Spanish cookbook we have, and let me pretend like I was in a fancy restaurant, where I didn’t have to cook or clean up! And she was all sweet about it, like it was no big deal for her to spend several hours cooking every night for me while I sat on my butt and did nothing. I love her. (Duh.) Here are some of the things she made for me:

Grilled Basa with Chickpea Salad – Julia says she put too much garlic in it (as you do, because the amount of garlic in every recipe should always be doubled. You do that, right?), but I thought it was awesomely garlicky. Then she made this lovely little bean salad with chickpeas, tomato, cilantro, and red onion. I wasn’t expecting it to be a cold salad, and it was really refreshing. Also just as good warmed up the next day.

Potato, Spinach, and Pine Nut Gratin – I’m sure you can guess that this was delicious. I don’t think I need to say anything more about it. By the way, that little salad? Mixed greens with tomatoes, nothing fancy, but the trick is that instead of our usual dressing, she drizzled it with olive oil and cracked a bit of fresh pepper on it. So simple, so good.

And then? Then there was the night she took a couple sea basses, wrapped them in Serrano ham, and stuffed them with more of the ham and garlic. Crisp, salty ham around tender bites of flaky fish? Holy crap, that was yummy. And I haven’t even told you about the vegetables. They were stir-fried with a sesame sauce and amazing on their own. Five star meal.

Oh, and I almost forgot – it was followed by dessert. To be fair, I actually made it, because, you know, I am the dessert-maker. I know what’s what when it comes to custard. (Ask Keely about those Napoleons I made her that one time. Or anyone who ate the top layer of our wedding cake.) Anyway, I digress as usual, I made Crema Fritta. Literally it translates to fried cream. But essentially, it’s custard (think flan or crème bruleé, minus the bruleé), and then it’s battered and fried. And drowned in blackberry sauce, and topped with whole berries. It was SO. GOOD. Not the prettiest thing I’ve ever made, but really really tasty.

And I’ll leave you with that to drool over.

Another Guest Post

…because clearly, I care more about posting elsewhere than here. No! It’s not true. It’s just – other people give me deadlines, and my deadline is “whenever I get around to it”, so… you all know what that means. I guess I should pick a couple days a week and stick to them for posting like the real bloggers do. But I digress…

If you’re wondering what I think about using mics (or not) for your wedding ceremony, you can go read all about it over on Frugally Wed.

I really promise to post soon. If you want, you can put a deadline in the comments for me. (It’s got a pretty good chance of working, actually. Especially if you include a topic I should ramble about.)

What I Love About Chicago

(Hint: It’s not Navy Pier or the Mag Mile.)

Oops, I blinked and missed it – my guest post has been up on Sarah’s blog since Tuesday! Go check it out if you want to know what we love about Chicago.

I’ll be back soon to tell you all about the belated anniversary dinner we had at Chalkboard on Friday night, and some of the drool-worthy meals my lovely wife has cooked for me on my vacation this week. (Which is sadly ending today.)

How to Vacation When You’re Running A Side Business

[Well, I was going to write about the yummy things we ate this week, but turns out I want to write about what a vacation is like when you also are trying to start a business on the side.]

Oh, you guys, I am really trying to keep this blogging thing going, because I do enjoy it. But – when I get busy (which you know is often) it is hard for me to find the space in my brain to decide what to write about, and then get the chunk of time needed to actually write it. Some of you know I’m on vacation from yesterday through Sunday, and you might be thinking – of course she has time! And, yeah, I sort of do. The thing is, though, I think our little business is really starting to take off, and that has to be a priority.

So far on my “vacation”, I have:

  • Slept in until 7:30 or 8am!
  • Written & revised our custom garment contract
  • Worked on dress design sketches
  • Hashed out some details for another wedding, including scoring a great deal with a vendor
  • Set up a meeting with another potential client
  • Actually started the Great T-Shirt Project of 2010
  • Installed new operating system on my computer, and then new money software, and am currently in the midst of transferring all our data over from the old program and setting up our budget.
  • Cleaned the house.
  • Had happy hour with WhiskeyTime and some improvised Amaretto/Pear martinis. (ok, this part is like actual vacation.)
  • SPENT TIME WITH MY WIFE. (Who is being the sweetest lady ever by pretending I am really on vacation and planning a weekend of fancy dinners that she is cooking for me. Boy do I love her. Last night, we had Roasted Chicken with Spiced Figs. OMG. Yum. On Saturday, she is planning some awesome thing where she cooks whole fish. She is the best. Sorry to all the rest of you who don’t get to be married to her.)

Additional things I have scheduled to do on my vacation are:

  • Hit the fabric store for swatching and inspiration for our client’s wedding dress
  • Meet with the aforementioned potential client
  • Finish putting together sketches and estimate for the wedding dress
  • Flesh out all the details of the wedding coming up and distribute them to vendors
  • Maybe continue working on the Great T-Shirt Project of 2010 (which I guess I should write a post about, huh?)
  • Write a guest post for a wedding blog
  • Write a why having babies scared me before being a nanny vs. why they scare me now post for another blog
  • Attempt to write something of substance for this here blog, that is not about how busy I am, and thus will not bore you to tears like this post
  • CELEBRATE OUR ANNIVERSARY. Yeah, I know it was a month ago, and we did celebrate. But I think I mentioned we had been planning to go to a big fancy dinner only to find out that the restaurant we wanted to go to was closed. So. We rescheduled our anniversary for ‘one of those upcoming weekends when we might have some time’ (HA!) and here it is. We’ve got a reservation at Chalkboard for Friday night, and I’m hopeful we will be able to schedule some massages tomorrow or Saturday as well. Yay!

And, let me say, I am NOT complaining. I love doing all these things. Not that I wouldn’t love just sitting at the beach all day, in some semblance of what I imagine normal people do on vacation – I would love that. But – the reason why we’re making this business happen is exactly because we LOVE doing these things and want to eventually do them full-time. Or at least enough of the time that we can pick and choose what shows or other work we want to do the rest of the time.