the best salad in the world

I’ve created the best salad in the world. Maybe not. But it is pretty darn good. And it’s pretty darn healthy, too. A win-win. I usually brown-bag-it at work and this is my go-to lunch. It’s easy to make the night before and it makes me look forward to eating.
Ingredients
2 cups spinach
shredded chicken breast
apple, chopped
cucumber, sliced
1/3 cup or less walnuts broken into pieces
1/2 cup or less feta cheese
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 
Note: I really have to measure out the feta cheese & olive oil otherwise I could easily triple the serving sizes on those. I love me some feta. And olive oil (yes, sans the vinegar) on salad is divine.
Directions
Mix it all together
chopping
Fruit in salad is a somewhat new concept to me. I use to not enjoy the mix of sweetness and veggie-ness in one bite. Now I cannot get enough of it. I thank Lu for introducing this simple pleasure to me.
this will be waiting to be devoured after shred today
Now, please make this salad for yourself. You can thank me later. I’d love your salad recipes, too, if you don’t mind sharing! Raise your hand if you’re actually reading this blog… =) Happy eating & Monday.
xo, ltw
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things i’m lovin right now

This lululemon tank. And these lululemon pants. I’ll take one of each please.
no limits tank
recognition pant
Smash and Glee. Who would have thought musical TV shows could be so good?! If you guys aren’t watching these shows, I recommend you start. And tonight’s Whitney tribute on Glee was a-mazing.
smash on NBC. monday night. so good!
glee on FOX. tuesday night. also just so good!
Kinder bueno. I know, I know. Kinder buenos are chocolate, which mean they contain sugar. But don’t worry, I only ate one. I can still love them though. Talk about melt in your mouth. It’s sickening.  
kill me
Kind bars. Healthier than the kinder bueno but just as delicious. Lu and I love to snack on Kind bars but don’t love their hefty price tag at our local grocery store. They retail at for $1.60/bar. We bulk ordered some online for just over $1/bar. Now we have a boatload of kind bars.
kindness is bountiful in this household
The Whole Foods in Lincoln Park is easy to love. I could spend hours in there, which is exactly why I don’t go there often…. That and the fact that it costs about a billion dollars for a one bag of groceries. Even still, I’m lovin it right now.

http://stevekoophotography.com/everything-else/whole-foods-lincoln-park/

Muscle soreness. Whether it’s right or wrong, I equate soreness with progress. I find soreness motivating! I love that Shred makes me sore (of course I’m not talking the I-can’t-sit-down-on-the-toilet-seat sore). 

hurt so good
 Colored skinny jeans. So cute! I actually don’t own any…. yet. I like to window shop online at  Shopbop.
trendy
My friends. You girls make me laugh and smile everyday. I am blessed to have your friendship!
besties
My sweet Lu! I always love him. But he has been working so very hard this quarter at Booth and I’m proud of his success. In addition to class, he is officially a start-up business owner! He and his two partners started an LLC last week. I’m happy for him!! Also, he was offered a prestigious internship with Hyde Park Angels here in Chicago for the summer. He is going for his goals and it’s awesome.
Life is good these days and passing ever so quickly. I hope this post finds you guys relishing the good days, too.
xo.ltw

bottle & bottega

My sweet poppa gave me a nice gift certificate to a place called Bottle & Bottega for my birthday. Bottle & Bottega is a quaint art studio in Lakeview where friends gather to uncork their inner artist. Each patron gets a blank canvas and a bottle of wine… the makings of a memorable evening. In our case, the wine was tequila. It was Mexican night so we enjoyed some yummy tapas, margaritas and live guitar. Fue muy divertido! Les cuento que yo estoy practicando mi espanol. Lu esta me ayudando!
As for the art, one does not have to be Frida Khalo to create a masterpiece. Masterpiece? You’re right, perhaps that’s too strong of a word. Anyway, the studio has instructors that walk you through how to create a painting that is inspired by real art. Of course everybody has some artistic license to make their painting an original. Lu and I took advantage of that license. Check out their facebook page to see some of the paintings that patrons have created in the past.
The original art that we were imitating was basically colorful rectangles. It was one of those things that you look at and say “um, I can easily do that.” Yeah right. I have a new appreciation for geometrical art. It was incredibly hard to make our paintings look as good as the original. I think the most difficult part was mixing colors. We started with the primary colors and white so we had to mix any colors aside from those. As you’ll see in the pictures below, the original had more muted colors whereas ours were more bright. But who doesn’t love some bright, lively colors?! I’d say we did pretty well. But in the end, something was missing. The only way we could salvage our work was to embellish it with our initials. That was Lu’s idea. What a creative cat.
i love interior brick walls
donning the apron
our inspiration.
the makings of a masterpiece
he is so cute
we personalized our work… LW
lw times two. monogram.
our art and our bottle…. yep that’s tequila.
We’re serious. They’ve been hung. Nice vent.
We had a fun evening out together doing something different than the same old dinner and a movie thing. I’d love to go back again sometime. They do bachelorette parties with nude models, Katie D. Just saying. Just kidding. 
xo. ltw

Happy Birthday, Momma!

Happy Birthday, Mom! I hope you had the loveliest of days on your birthday, April 9th. It was so much fun celebrating with you and the family — we had an evening of great food and even greater company. And can I mention, you look fabulous!
the birthday girl! with birthday cupcakes.
Sprinkles cupcakes. Oh yes we did. Sugar/calories don’t count on birthdays.
noodles, dumplings, sashami & hot tapas from Slurping Turtle. SO YUMMY!
A cupcake for a cupcake
I’m very blessed to have been brought onto this earth and placed into the arms of the loving woman I call mom. She is absolutely wonderful and she is my best friend! I cherish the memories of my childhood and growing up under her caring, loving arm. I am so excited for the many, many more wonderful moments we will share together in the future!!
my birth!
just 3 girls hangin out
darling picture
summer concert
wedding day
after her sweet toast at our wedding
I love you, mom! Thank you for being you. Cheers!! Happy birthday!!
xo, ltw

Easter in the city

I love seasons. I especially love spring. Spring in the city is heavenly (when it’s not raining, that is). I enjoy strolling down the busy streets seeing people dressed in bright colors and sidewalks lined with budding flowers. I love the boats slowly emerging in the harbor on Lake Michigan. I love the new-beginning feeling of spring. 
Our home is adorned with beeeeautiful spring flowers.
lovely
Easter lillies. Star-gazers.
tulips, always a spring favorite
view of DuSable Harbor from our balcony

Spring commences with Easter in my mind. Despite having to work Easter weekend this year, I was still able to participate in some festivities. I made sweet bean an Easter basket! This was my first time putting together an Easter basket, and I have to admit it was quite basic. I realize that I just wrote a post about the dangers of too much sugar! You may think I am being hypocritical here…. Of course, I still believe there are select occasions where I am in favor of indulging that sweet tooth. Easter. Valentine’s Day. Birthdays. Halloween. Thanksgiving. Christmas. We gotta have a free pass on those days, right? But the other 359 days? I’m kicking the habit. Anyway, Lu doesn’t indulge his sweet tooth very much so I just got him a few choice candies to savor. 

Easter basket!
Easter basket.

Lu with his cute lil basket

Yes, that’s a pup and not a bunny. I couldn’t find a stuffed bunny that I liked so I opted for the pooch. Who doesn’t love a cute puppy? 
Lu and I began Easter morning practicing our second religion, exercise. Lu joined me for his first Shred class. I had so.much.fun with him in the class with me! While he enjoyed Shred and thinks it’s a great workout for me, he is staying loyal to his crossfit. Those Walker boys and that crossfit are a match made in heaven.
After Shred, we went to a nice brunch at Atwood Cafe in the loop. It’s located in the historic Hotel Burnham. The building was designed by John Root of Root and Burnham architects who dominated Chicago architecture in the late 1800s. You can read about Root and Burnham in Devil in the White City. Have you read it? I recommend. “Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably will not themselves be realized.” –Daniel Burnham. Fun fact: Lu and I loved the Rookery building, another Root and Burnham design, as a wedding venue. Frank Lloyd Wright remodeled the lobby in the early 1900s, which is where the weddings are held. We couldn’t seriously consider the Rookery because the maximum guest count was 100 people and we had 150 attending. But I think it would have been a magical place.

In front of our building before brunch. Wrigley in the background.

The brunch was delicious. My Easter Sunday natural high was smashed when I realized the disaster that awaited me on my drive to work. The traffic was some of the worst I have EVER seen. Easter Sunday at 1:30 PM?! It was like rush hour on Friday. What should take about 25 minutes door-to-door maximum took almost one hour and 25 minutes. The Kennedy Expressway was pretty much a parking lot. What I couldn’t figure out was where was everybody going on Easter afternoon?! If I didn’t have to work I would have been far, far away from the torments of being stuck in traffic on such a gorgeous holiday.

These pretty trees made the walk into work a little easier

I hope everybody had a joyous Easter weekend! And I want to wish my momma (the best mom in the world) a very happy happy birthday! Today is her birthday and we will be celebrating!! I love you, mom!

ltw

Remember that no sugar thing?

Surprise. I couldn’t quite keep my word on the whole sugar fast thing. I definitely reduced my sugar intake overall but I had a few slip-ups here and there and almost every single one occurred at work. Patients and families bring our nurses sweets all the time as a thank you. The chocolates sit there staring me in the face begging me to ingest just one. And then comes two… three… You get the picture.
Puhlease. I thought I had more willpower than that. I guess I need something to scare me into action. A reason to say no. And today, I got just that.
This morning, as I sipped my freshly brewed java and munched on my typical breakfast of scrambled egg whites with cholula and a side of oatmeal, I perused the internet including Runner’s World magazine one of my favorite online magazines. I stumbled across a relevant article. I was nowhere near the nutrition section on Runner’s World when all of a sudden the article titled, Sugar Linked to Heart Disease, Cancer appeared on my MacBook screen. Sugar and heart disease? I always clumped saturated fat and heart disease in the same sentence. Sugar and cancer, whaaat? Intrigued, and a little bit scared, I read. I also read the linked article, Is Sugar Toxic?, a segment that aired on 60 minutes recently. 
sugar sugar & more sugar
To summarize, these articles present research that suggest sugar is toxic to our bodies. Toxic. Doesn’t that sound extreme? They say that sugar consumption drives up LDL cholesterol (the bad stuff) and promotes plaque formation in our arteries, which we know leads to heart disease. Of course they don’t touch on the actual mechanism of how sugar raises LDLs but I’ll go ahead and take their word for it.  I googled the head honcho, Dr. Robert Lustig an endocrinologist in California, and he appears credible. Dr. Lustig and his clan are telling us that our nation’s sugar consumption is a public health crisis. And they’re not just talking about the obvious chocolate-caramel-marshmallow-with-frosting-on-top type of sugar but also added sugars hidden in various processed foods that many people consume on day to day basis. They said the average American consumes 130 lbs of sugar every year. Jiminy cricket. That’s consuming a whole person of sugar. 
azucar, azucar & mas azucar
As far as the sugar and cancer claim, the research presented also suggests that some cancer tumors have insulin receptors that drive growth. When we ingest sugar and an insulin spike commences, the cancer tumor rejoices and grows at a faster rate. Gross. I hate cancer. And my love for sugar is definitely being questioned right now.
I truly had no idea that sugar could possibly be a culprit for elevated cholesterol let alone cancer. Diabetes? Yes I understand that one. But heart disease and cancer? This is news to me. I cherish my heart. One of the last things I want to end up with is heart disease or a heart attack. Supposedly one in four women die from heart disease in our country. Yikes. And it should go without saying that cancer is never a word I want to hear or want any of my loved ones to hear. If saying goodbye to my beloved sugary sweets makes my heart and body healthier then I’ll do it. I have motivation now. I’ll admit that my previous sugar cleanse was fueled by vanity. I thought I could shed a pound or two and maybe make my skin clear (is that a myth?). But now I have a genuine motive to say no to those stupid little Fanny May chocolate truffles that aren’t even that delicious.
My morning reading was not all bad news though. I did find out that red wine may help fight weight gain. Now that’s the kind of news I like to hear!! Here is the article. And isn’t wine good for your heart? I can totally get behind this kind of research.
very nice
Cheers to our health. Who’s with me? Less chocolate. More wine. In moderation of course. Have a wonderful weekend everyone.
xo. ltw

twinkle toes

I’m on a quest to find the perfect running shoe. I have a medium arch and a neutral stride. Since I began running some eight years ago, I have tried several different shoes. My first pair was selected specially for me based on my gait by a sales associate at Running Wild in Iowa City. They were Asics Gel-Kayanos and I swore by them. I loved them so much that as soon as they had worn out I purchased another pair. I wore these for years. Four years to be exact.
clodhoppers.
Enter Nike Lunar Glide. I got these when the barefoot running concept was emerging (or at least emerging in my world…. I’m sure the idea has been around for a while). They were lightweight so I felt like I could run faster and longer. They made my old Asics seem like clodhoppers. These Nikes quickly stole my heart as my one and only running shoe. At least for a year.
Once I had experienced light weight running shoes, I became greedy and I longed for an even lighter shoe. I wanted to run even more faster and more longer. Nike Frees were the answer. I was instantly attracted to the minimalist design. And, as I had hoped, they were so light I truly felt like I was running without shoes. It was cool. Until my knees started hurting. I talked with an employee at Niketown, and he told me that the Nike Frees design is not meant to be a primary running shoe and not meant for long runs day after day. Whoops. I didn’t do any permanent damage or anything but I decided to say adios to these sneakers and opt for something with more support. 

Nike Frees
Side note: I was wearing my Nike Frees when I ate face on the lake front trail last summer. I don’t know if you all remember but I fell while running last fourth of July weekend. I felt like a toddler. My chin and knees hit concrete. Blood everywhere. Strangers helping me. Emergency room. Stitches. Sore jaw. Good times. [Not]. At least I didn’t chip any teeth.
stitches. july 2011. flattering picture.
Anyway. What shoe would provide me with support but still be light weight? The Nike Lunarfly. There is more structure on the sole of the foot and more of an arch support. Not to mention the colors are awesome. But there are a couple things about this shoe that just don’t do it for me. One thing I really don’t like is how high up the back comes on the Achilles tendon. It chafes me all the time (tmi) because it comes up higher than my socks. What I really don’t like about this shoe is how little grip they have on the bottom and it’s not just because they’re worn! They had little grip from day one. I’m surprised I haven’t fallen in these bad boys! This is actually my current running shoe but I’m yearning for new ones.
Nike Lunarfly
I have spent hours on the computer looking at reviews of running shoes. There are so many options. And even more opinions. It’s overwhelming. But with the help of Runner’s World magazine and their shoe adviser tool, I have decided on my next pair of sneaks. I will be trying a shoe that mixes my first love, Asics, with the lightweight but stable design I desire. I’m going back to Asics. I have come full circle. The shoe is Asics Gel Blur33. And yes, I’m getting them in pink to unleash my inner princess.
Asics Gel Blur33
I ordered them online and cannot wait for them to arrive. The Brooks PureConnect also really intrigues me. If the Asics Gel Blur33 breaks my heart, as all other running shoes have eventually done in the past, then I will give the Brooks Pureconnect a try.
Brooks PureConnect
Please leave me comments about what running shoes you love, hate and everything in between! I’d appreciate your opinion. I’m talkin to YOU. 
xo. ltw

fave iphone apps

I am dependent on my iphone. I use it dozens of times everyday. People ask me all the time what apps I use and recommend.
Not. 
Not one person has ever asked me that. In this post, I’ll be offering some unsolicited advice on cool apps you should download and use for your iphone. Most of these apps are pretty mainstream so you guys may already use them! 
I have 9 camera apps. Needless to say, I take many pictures with my iphone. I don’t even own a real camera these days. My favorite camera app right now is called Camera+. It can add clarity, back lighting, flash and various filters to your pics. You can also crop or add a border to the pictures. Pics taken with this app look much better than the pictures taken with the standard camera app that comes on the phone. And some of the filters create really cool effects.
camera+
camera+
HDR filter on camera+. Molly is so cute.
I also love instragram, of course. If you are into coloring your photos, Color Effect is a neat way to select with your finger what part of the picture is colored and what part is black and white. I don’t use it often but it’s a fun idea. I used Finger Focus to create the blur on the pictures of my iphone home screen on this blog post.
Do you drink coffee? If so, you gotta get the Starbucks app. You can load your Starbucks card onto the app and actually pay with your phone. It’s pretty high-tech. It also counts your reward points. 
starbucks
anybody want to reload my card?
I track all of my runs with imapmyrun, which is the mobile app for www.mapmyrun.com. I love it because you can track your mileage, average pace and approximate calories burned. I have another running app that came highly recommended called endomundo. I’m too addicted to imapmyrun to even give the other one a try! But the word is, it’s good. Also, I think it requires you run with your phone so that the GPS can track your route. I don’t run with my phone. And I don’t listen to music when I run. I enjoy the time to clear my mind.
Everybody should have this next app. It’s even a free app so you have no excuses. It’ll save you money. Gas Buddy. It finds the cheapest gas around you. Brilliant. Can someone please come up with an app that lowers gas prices? Thanks.
Gas buddy
gross
Does anybody use google calendar on gmail? I use it. Lu and I have a shared calendar so that we can keep track of our schedules. The app Calangoo syncs with your google calendar so that you can have the calendar at your fingertips on your phone. I think it works really well – it’s easy to add or change an event and it syncs quickly. However, it’s a pretty pricey app. I think it was $9. 
This next one is for the locals only. I have the Dominick’s app that allows you to add personalized deals and coupons to your Dominick’s card from your phone. Let me just say I think it’s bogus that shoppers actually have to add deals and coupons to their card. Having the store’s shopper card should be sufficient enough to get you the deals! Now they make you do work… meaning you have to go online, select the deals you want, and add them to your shopper card. Ridiculous. Anyway, with the app you can add deals and coupons as you shop and they upload to your card in real time. This is great because I often find out about the deals when I’m at the store and not in front of my computer. 
Dominick’s
we love our produce!

I’m not much of a gamer. It always amuses me that the majority of the top apps in the app store are games. I do have a couple games on my phone that I only play if I’m at the airport and desperate for something to do.  I have tetris, a classic. I also enjoy words with friends although I haven’t played a game in months. The game Fruit ninja can be pretty addicting. 
This should go without saying but I use the twitter app and facebook app constantly. I find myself absentmindedly opening these two apps all day long. Over-stimulation.  
There you have it. A glimpse into my iphone. Leave me comments about what apps you cannot live without! Gracias. Is anybody reading this thing?
xo. ltw

a fool’s thoughts

April Fool’s Day! I’ve never been one to think of a good prank. Actually, I can’t remember any April fool’s joke that I pulled… ever. I can’t even think of any pulled on me. What an exciting group of people with whom I surround myself. ;) I kid, I kid. It’s probably a good thing to remain prank-free! I do, however, remember the prank that was pulled on my dear friend Haylie our freshman year of college. Her dad mailed a fake letter to her from the University of Colorado (complete with CU letterhead and envelope) saying something along the lines of “you’re kicked out of school.” It was very well done and quite funny! But also a little bit mean. She tried to get him back with the old “I’m pregnant” and of course he didn’t fall for that one. I’m pretty confident the Walker home will be calm today. 
 I’m talking to you, Lu
We may do our taxes today (yep those taxes that are due in just a couple weeks). When I say we I really mean Lu. I cry a little inside each time I see how much of my paycheck goes to the government.
we’re good people; give us a tax break
And one note on Chicago’s weather lately…. what happened to those gorgeous 80-some and sunny days we had the other week? Now we say hello to cloudy, cold and damp weather. The real spring has sprung in Chicago this week. It’s a pretty good Sunday to lounge on the couch with a bean, if you ask me.
it was too good to be true
Happy Fools Day everybody! Leave me comments about your pranks!
xo, ltw