Where Did The Time Go?

DSC_0968Nostalgia set in a few weeks ago when the above photo slipped out of a book I had decided to reread.  It was taken on a crisp fall day nine years ago, back when life was about hours around the Lego table and playdates at the park.  Now with a month of milestones on the horizon (including Hannah’s 11th birthday and Will’s 8th grade graduation), I am in full-on retrospective mode.  They could not be more different – she my dancing, singing, adventure-seeking free spirit; he my thoughtful, humble, quietly charismatic computer genius.  In common are their warm, constant smiles and compassionate natures, and though they have their fair share of quarrels (as all siblings do), the love they share almost always shines through.IMG_0891

IMG_0726IMG_0328_2IMG_3795IMG_3018DSC_0612IMG_0839DSC_0558DSC_0689IMG_0175IMG_1121IMG_5164IMG_0174DSC_0685DSC_0225DSC_0524DSC_0170IMG_3775_2DSC_0291DSC_0766IMG_0424IMG_1071IMG_0505DSC_0227DSC_0538DSC_0643I asked during a recent dinner if they could each name a favorite childhood memory.  Will recalled a fall day in second grade when we had forgotten about daylight savings and stood waiting for the bus for ages until it dawned on us.  He remembered walking to the backyard and playing on our swing set with nothing to do but pass the time and how happy he felt in that moment.  Hannah spoke of a summer afternoon spent on Lake Five where we sat on the pier and let tiny minnows nibble our toes (to this day she calls minnows “nibble fish”).  It made my heart ache that both recollections were of simple, spontaneous family experiences unspoiled by the sense of urgency that swallows so much of our time these days.  The lesson is not lost on me.

What to Bring: Lemon Garlic Hummus

DSC_0307Store-bought hummus makes an appearance at almost every casual get together these days, but you can up the ante by bringing a flavor-packed homemade version to this year’s Memorial Day cookout.  It comes together in minutes, and DIYing it allows you to use fresh seasonal ingredients that may not appear in those little round tubs at the grocery store.DSC_0305Lemon Garlic Hummus

makes 3 cups

  • 2 15-ounce cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced (use two or three cloves if you are less of a garlic enthusiast)
  • 3 lemons, zested and juiced
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/3 cup tahini (sesame paste)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • a few grinds of pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzle
  1. Set aside a big pinch of the lemon zest.
  2. Place all of the ingredients except for the olive oil and the pinch of lemon zest into the bowl of a food processor and process until combined.  Through the feed tube with the food processor running, pour in the olive oil and process until hummus is smooth and creamy.
  3. Place in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with the reserved lemon zest.

The jar of tahini will last for ages in the fridge, so if you keep garlic and a few cans of chickpeas on hand, you’ll find yourself throwing this together all of the time with whatever you have in the house.  Jarred roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, ghardiniera peppers, chipotles, artichokes, and olives all make great versions, and the recipe is easily halved.

recipe and photos by the aesthete and the dilettante

Two New Obsessions + The Perfect Summer Marinade

DSC_0195Last month I wandered into Williams-Sonoma in need of a new paring knife.  The Shun’s unusual blade and gorgeous wood handle caught my eye, but I almost passed it by as the price was almost double that of the other paring knives.  I asked the sales associate if Shun was really twice as good and she was emphatic about the quality.  “Try it,” she said.  “You’ll be back for the chef’s knife in a week.”  She was wrong.  I told my family I wanted it for Mother’s Day, so technically I waited two weeks.  Not only do they feel amazing in your hand, they are as sharp as a surgeon’s blade.  (So sharp, in fact, that after my first week with the paring knife I had Hello Kitty Band-Aids wrapped around three of my fingers.)  Now that I have the chef’s knife, all I want to do is chop things.  I literally cannot wait to make dinner just so I can get my hands on the knife.  I’m obsessed.DSC_0205Weck Jars are my other new obsession.  I’ve been stashing leftovers and decanting pantry staples into them, loving how they look stacked up and that they are dishwasher safe and chemical free.  Yesterday I put the knife and one of my new jars to good use by making a favorite summer marinade.  It’s a flexible recipe for just about anything you throw on the grill, and it does double duty as a dressing for simple greens or grilled veggies.  Herbs are the only things ready to eat in my newly planted garden (the strawberries are close!), so I snipped basil, parsley and a smidge of thyme to use in the recipe, though most any combination of herbs would do.DSC_0227

Lemon Garlic Herb Marinade

makes 1 1/4 cups

  • 2 lemons, zested then juiced (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil and/or parsley
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon or thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl or add all ingredients to a jar and shake to emulsify.

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all photos via the aesthete and the dilettante

A Dessert First Kind of Day – Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

DSC_0038Both of my kids were having a crummy couple of days, so I surprised them by making dessert mid-week (something usually reserved for weekends) and having it ready for their after school snack as they walked in the door yesterday.  As my grandfather wisely once said, “Life is too short – we should have dessert first.”

DSC_0016Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp recipe found here.  Make it now before rhubarb is out of season!

photos via the aesthete and the dilettante

The Trouble with Boyfriend Jeans

Several weeks ago I decided to break out of my skinny denim rut and give boyfriend jeans a shot.  I don’t know about you, but trying on denim in stores is painful for me because (a) stores inevitably do not have the size you want (b) in the wash you want and (c) the sales people tend to be pushy about making you show them how they look but then are (d) completely incapable of being honest about how your backside looks.  My way around this miserable situation was to order almost every make and model of boyfriend jeans available through the great online clothing mecca, Shopbop.  The photo below shows only half of what showed up on my doorstep:

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Several lessons were learned while trying on 30+ pairs and wearing the ones I ultimately picked (Citizens of Humanity’s Dylan Boyfriend).  To save you time and agony, my unscientific but completely honest research is presented here:

Lesson #1: Order one size smaller than your usual  – your normal size in boyfriend will swallow you whole.  This finding was consistent with every brand.

Lesson #2: Stay away from the wildly distressed versions to avoid looking like you’ve just painted a house or laid asphalt.  I remember reading in The Lucky Guide to Mastering Any Style half a decade ago that you can buy a pink jacket and you can buy a motorcycle jacket, but you should never buy the pink motorcycle jacket.  In shopping lexicon that means one statement at a time, my friends.  And I bet the denim sales associates would never tell you that.

Lesson #3: You may want to carry an emergency belt in your handbag as they seem to loosen up more than fitted jeans.  I was literally – embarrassingly – centimeters from being in a low-rider situation on my way to lunch one day last week.  And hiking them up only bought me a few strides before I had to do it again, and again, and again…

Lesson #4: Pair your new baggy denim with something a bit more fitted on top.  The following is a conversation shared with my almost-11-year-old daughter on a recent Saturday morning while she sat on my bed as I dressed:

H: Um, what’s with the mommy pants?

Me: They are NOT “mommy pants” they are boyfriend jeans and they happen to be VERY popular.

H: Popular where?

Me: You see street style photos and pictures in magazines of women wearing them with their heels and blazers all the time.

H: Then you should put on heels and a blazer or change back into your skinnies because you’re looking a little…down on the farm in that button-down.

It may sound like I regret my baggy-denim purchase, but I really am loving the relaxed silhouette.  And I confess to still wearing them with my button-downs, though only in our home or when well covered by a trench.

images 1 & 3 via tumblr, image 4 via Atlantic-Pacific

Sensual Beauty

DSC_0249IMG_0135DSC_0271 IMG_0145This weekend during a trip to the Shedd Aquarium, I was struck by stunning visual similarities between a cluster of sea anemones and the peonies I had photographed just days before.  Though one is rooted in earth and the other in water, one undulates with sea currents and the other on spring breezes, they share an astonishing sensual beauty.

all photos via the aesthete and the dilettante

Go See: Picasso and Chicago

Picasso's Nude Under a Pine Tree, Cannes or Vauvenargues, 1959, oil on canvas
“Nude Under a Pine Tree,” 1959, oil on canvas

ONLY SIX DAYS LEFT!  Run to The Art Institute of Chicago to catch “Picasso and Chicago,” an expansive exhibit that explores the integral relationships Picasso had with both the city of Chicago and the AIC.  Having interned in the museum education department during college (giving tours to school groups), I was aware of Picasso’s strong presence at the Art Institute, but did not understand the depth and breadth of their affiliation until I viewed this fascinating show last week.

"Bust of a Woman (Fernande)," 1909, bronze
“Bust of a Woman (Fernande),” 1909, bronze

From the Art Institute’s site:

A century ago, in 1913, the Art Institute of Chicago became the first art museum in the country to present the work of a young Spaniard who would become the preeminent artist of the 20th century, Pablo Picasso. This February the museum celebrates the special 100-year relationship between Picasso and Chicago by bringing together over 250 of the finest examples of the artist’s paintings, sculpture, prints, drawings, and ceramics from private collections in the city, as well as from the museum’s collection, for the first large-scale Picasso exhibition organized by the museum in almost 30 years.

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The Art Institute of Chicago is located at 111 South Michigan Avenue

Open everyday from 10:30-5pm, Thursdays open until 8pm

Picasso and Chicago closes on May 12th