things that make me go "hmm"

1. Gas prices. Are those real?

2. People who don’t slow down during heavy snow.Why?
3. The dust in our apartment. How do we accumulate so much so fast??

4. Farm-raised fish. Is it unhealthy?

5. Leftover pesto. What do I make with you? 
6. My sleeping habits. Why am I awake at 2:50… and sleeping till noon? Am I a junior high boy?

Hmmmmmmmmm? I don’t know.
 xo. ltw


weekends are the bomb!

This weekend wasn’t for the weary.  It was jam-packed but all fun. The weekend began with a Friday evening show at the ballet. My bean and I saw the Joffery’s Winter Fire, On the Threshold, which consisted of three separate ballet performances. It was looovely. Two of the performances combined classical moves with modern music… Really pushing the envelope moving dance into the modern era. The moves were very muscular. Lu and I were both impressed. After the show, we walked home, which is a testament to how temperate the winter has been this year. It’s pretty awesome that we could [somewhat] comfortably walk a mile at 10pm in February.

Auditorium Theatre

Saturday night was the black-tie Booth Winter Formal masquerade ball. We got all dressed up, donned feathered masks and had a fun evening with our friends in the west loop. Mardi Gras was the theme. The food was Cajun and too delicious for me; I shouldn’t have been eating so much in such a tight dress. The drinks were plentiful. The after party was at Crimson Lounge. Our wedding photographer actually suggested we snap some pictures of the wedding party at Crimson Lounge. We opted out of that but it was interesting to see the space in person.

feathered ladies

bust a move
two beans in a pod
cheers, Megan!

Sunday we met up with the same group of friends for a leisurely brunch. It’s Restaurant Week in Chicago, which means that some of the amazing local restaurants offer special and prix-frixe menus at discounted prices. We took advantage of the great deal at Joe’s. After brunch, Lu and I hit the streets for a little shopping. 

Now, it’s Monday. Booooo.

xo. ltw

token valentine’s day dinner

Another Valentine’s Day over. Two years ago Lu and I were in Kentucky for our first Valentine’s Day together. We had an amazing couples massage followed by dinner at this quaint, romantic mansion. I remember what I wore, what he wore, and what we talked about. I remember it was snowing, and it made me anxious that we had to drive twenty minutes on the slippery roads. I vividly remember the grand old home. Walking in, my mind wandered to the early 1900s. I pictured women in lavish dresses and men in top hats puffing on cigars. A far cry from my silk Banana Republic blouse and dark denim jeans. I really should wear dresses more. Anyway, we had a splendid evening together.  After such a memorable evening, one might assume we would continue to have unforgettable Valentine’s Day celebrations.  So last year we…. umm…. does anyone know what we did?! Because Lu and I cannot remember for the life of us. But that’s ok. It’s pretty safe to say that no matter what we did (or didn’t do), we had a fabulous time together.

This year, I got off work at 8am and proceeded to sleep all. day. long. At least Lu had classes much of the day so I didn’t feel guilty about leaving him to fend for himself while I was snoozing in bed.  I was, however, prepared to make a feast and celebrate the best way we know how, by eating & drinking. On the menu was my chicken pesto lasagna inspired by Bethenny’s pesto vegetarian lasagna.  Of course, vegetarian does not fly in this household so I had to make the recipe my own by adding some meat and a few extra tasty ingredients. Cook dinner, we did. Lu and I made everything together and exchanged laughs during the process. 

Chicken pesto lasagna

The lasagna turned out really, really good. We dined and listened to music. I learned that if Lu had to choose one song to be his most favorite song in the world it would be Blame it on the Boogie. Probably because he just can’t control his feet. We drank riesling and ate chocolate covered strawberries. 

Our evening ended on the couch with a couple episodes of Friends (of course). One of which was Chandler and Monica’s proposal, a fitting episode. And that concluded our Valentine’s Day 2012. Although, we could repeat it again tonight because we have so much left over lasagna. And it tastes pretty good cold the next morning, too. Not that I would know…

Here is the motified recipe from Bethenny’s original recipe:

Chicken Pesto Lasagna

8 oz whole wheat lasagna noodles
about 2 cups packaged pesto (or make your own)
4 cups spinach
4 chicken breasts
15 oz part-skim ricotta cheese
1/3 cup chopped basil
1/2 toasted pine nuts
8 oz mozzarella cheese
parmesan cheese

Cook pasta noodles per box instructions. Lay out to dry. Boil chicken breast in water until thoroughly cooked. Shred chicken with forks. Saute spinach in olive oil. Combine ricotta, toasted pine nuts, and chopped basil in a bowl and set aside. 

To assemble lasagna: use a 9×9 baking dish. Spread some pesto on the bottom of the dish. Cover with one layer of noodles. Apply another layer of pesto, followed by one layer of the ricotta-herb mixture, one layer of sauteed spinach, one layer of shredded chicken, top with mozzarella cheese and sprinkle with parmesan. Add a second layer of noodles and repeat toppings. Add a third layer of noodles, which is the top layer.  Spread pesto and cheeses on top, omitting spinach and chicken on this layer.  Bake in 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until cheese is browned and bubbling. 

xo. ltw 

our love story; link-up

I’ve seen this link-up on a few blogs the past couple days. First of all, the From Mrs to Mama blog is really cute! And the author is an RN so I give her props. She created this link-up. I don’t even know what a link-up is… but I think all it means is grab this button and answer these questions. I’m not sure how to embed the button in my post so it is just sitting on the side of my blog. Anyway, since I’m still head-over-heels for my bean, I’m always up for sharing a few details of our romance. And the Valentine’s Day season is a perfect time to flaunt the love.

1. How long have you and your significant other been together?
 We’ve been with each other for 2 years & 7 months now. But I feel like I’ve known him my whole life. Strange.

2. How did you meet? {What’s your “love” story?}
 We met at a tennis clinic. I was looking for a fun summer hobby and Lu was looking for the ladies (just kidding). I think we were both mesmerized that two perfect strangers could cross paths so randomly, fall in love and become life partners.

3. If married, how long have you been married? If not, is this the guy you hope to marry? {do tell}
  We’ve been married just under (a whole) two months. Woo woo!

4. If you are married, where did you get married at? Big or small wedding?  If not, where would you like to get married? And will it be big or small?
  I don’t think I’ve mentioned the wedding on the blog yet, have I? To recap we were married in Chicago. It was a moderate size celebration with about 150 guests. It was perfect.
5. Do you have any nick-names that you call one another? Do share!
  We have a whole evolution of nick-names, and I will share them with you now. It began with lovey, which morphed to schlubby… schlubbity… schlub… schlabean… bean… beanie. Should I be embarrassed? 

6. Name 3 things you love most about your honey.
  1) He is hilarious. He cracks me up every day & puts a huge smile on my face
  2) He has sweet dance moves
  3) He is handsome, brilliant & burly. And that’s coming from an unbiased source.

7. Tell us how he proposed? Or your ideal proposal?
   He took me to a wonderful dinner. Then took me to a wonderful suite in The Drake. As we overlooked the city he said nice things to me, dropped to one knee, popped the question and pulled out a gorgeous ring. A pretty sweet deal for me!! All I had to do was show up! And say yes. :)

8. Is he a flowers and teddy bear kind of guy for v-day, or strawberries, champagne, and rose petals?
  I would say he is a flowers, wine & nice dinner kind of guy. 

9. Are you a sunset dinner on the beach kind of girl, or pop a movie in and relax on the couch? 
  Um is that even a contest? Sunset dinner on the beach, please. I fall asleep during movies.


10. Tell us one thing you’d like to do with your significant other one day. If you could do anything? Go anywhere?
  There are so many places I’d love to go to with my bean before I die.  A few include: Greece, Spain, Fiji, Japan.

11. Tell us what you plan on doing on this Valentine’s Day. 
  We’ll cook together at home. A delicious dinner and good conversation. That’s all we need. 
12. Are you asking for anything this Valentine’s day?
  No, I don’t think of material gifts when I think of Valentine’s Day. See above answer: a delicious dinner, good company & good conversation is what the day is about. With that said, please note that a gift would not be turned down… And I could always go for a box of chocolates. ;)

13. Give us one piece of advice of keeping a relationship strong and full of love. 
  Respect each other. Be selfless. Be honest. But to make the love last, you gotta be with the right person.

14.  Show us a picture of what love means to you.

Happy Valentine’s lovers! 
xo. ltw

Birthday! It’s a celebration!

It’s that time of year… that time when my birthday rolls around and I add one to my [ever increasing] age. This year, I was lucky enough to have two fabulous birthday dinners with people I love.  And a birthday cake at work.

Night one (birthday eve): My momma, Matt, Kelly, Lu and myself had dinner at a charming French restaurant, Mon Ami Gabi, which is situated in the historic Beldon-Stratford Hotel in Lincoln Park. Both Vinces were stuck at work. To start, I had a four mushroom soup that was creamy and heavenly. I ordered seared Atlantic salmon for my entree… I have a serious salmon addiction these days. I simply can’t get enough. Dessert was a warm chocolate pudding cake. 

Night two (birthday!): Unfortunately, I had to work. But I started the shift with my co-workers singing happy birthday to me. That was sweet. But what’s sweeter? They brought me cake! It was a chocolate cake with chocolate icing, and it was the most moist cake I’ve ever eaten. What’s the secret to the moistness? It’s kind of nasty. It’s mayonnaise. Seriously. The cake was from Portillo’s and sources have confirmed that they do, in fact, use mayo in the batter. I totally judged this ingredient and assumed it would be gross. But now I’ll admit that it was some of the best cake I’ve ever eaten in my whole twenty-six years. I dare you to try it.

Night three (post birthday): My hub planned an absolutely amazing dinner at MK.  I highly recommend this place! The food, the service, the ambiance… it was nothing short of wonderful. And being with equally wonderful company (the big frijol) made the evening unforgettable. The modern interior is remarkably cozy and intimate. We were seated in a corner of the lofted second level so we had a nice view of the whole restaurant. Our starters were diver sea scallops and butternut squash ravioli with cinnamon scented root vegetables, sage and parmigiano-reggiano.  My entree was peppercorn crusted yellowfin tuna seared rare, spinach, shiitake mushrooms, and garlic mashed potato with a red wine syrup. Lu had sturgeon. The desserts were divine. But something crazy happened at MK. One of our servers, Mariel, turned out to be a long lost friend of mine from elementary school! We were good buds back at Horn Elementary in Iowa City but when she moved to Miami in 4th or 5th grade we eventually lost touch. What an unexpected twist to the evening. She is a lovely lady. We plan on grabbing lunch together sometime soon. 

After dinner, we met some friends for drinks at a beanstalk favorite, Hub 51. It was a blustery, snowy evening so thank you to all the friends who came out to celebrate with me!

 xo. ltw

Little Man Logan!

Yesterday, I hosted a baby shower for my friend Emily.  She’s having a baby boy named Logan, and she’s due March 15.  The theme for the shower was Little Man inspired by Pintrest. Be forewarned: there are a lot of pictures on this post.
 Homemade banner… Keep Calm & Grow on! Those are iron-on patches I put on the onesies. 

 Guess how many m&ms? 3117. Crazy.  And also mustaches on a stick!

 Keep Calm & Grow On printable. 

 Mustache stickers applied to the cups. 
We played several games.  We had a quiz about pregnant Emily. It was fun & got the conversation started about her pregnancy.  We also did a Brendon (the father) quiz. That was entertaining. He’s a funny dude. We played the dirty diaper game… we filled diapers with different kinds of melted chocolate candy bars and people guessed which candy the baby ate. It was actually kinda hard & really looked like poo! Ha! We also had a baby Pictionary game planned but we ran out of time. We’ll have to use that one for the next shower (hint hint Keerthy).
My friend, Meghan, filling the diapers.
Poopy diapers.

The food was so good & I had a lot of help from my momma, so THANK YOU! We made a pasta salad, deli-wraps & a seven-layer salad.  I made the poppy seed bread, pumpkin bread, scotch-a-roos & white chocolate/peanut butter/marshmallow balls (these need a name).  One girl, Elizabeth brought some delicious homemade cupcakes. They were amazing. Punch was lemonade & ginger ale. 

 Seven-layer salad.


 Bow-tie pasta salad.

Scotch-a-roos & balls in the background. 
  The girls are so fun. We met through the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.  Our significant others are all students there, and a couple of these ladies are students themselves. 

 5 weeks old!
 Party favors. “Boy oh Boy Glad You Came” printables.

Some of the presents for Em!

 Congrats Emily & Brendon!! So excited to meet the little man soon. 

And then this big man came home….. It’s a-mee, Maaario.
xo, ltw