Weekend in the Country II: Swept Away

DSC_0955Last weekend’s highlight was a hot air balloon ride over farm-and-field-dotted country.  From our fiery hot lift off to the scalp-tingling quiet at three thousand feet, it was an unforgettable experience for the entire family.DSC_0836 DSC_0843 DSC_0921

The top of our balloon from the inside.
The top of our balloon from the inside.

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Our balloon's dreamy reflection in the lake.
Our balloon’s dreamy reflection in the lake.

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A majestic heron.
A majestic heron.

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Descent.
Descent.
Landing field.
Landing field.

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Fall Cravings: The Oversized Knit

The cool evening temps here in Chicago have me longing for cozy knits in soft neutrals.  Paired with everything from tone-on-tone skirts and trousers to leather leggings or lazy Sunday denim, your chunky, borrowed-from-the-boys sweater will become a fall wardrobe workhorse.  Below is my round-up of options for every budget.  I’m already dreaming of football games and bonfires…

Luxe, loose cashmere from one of my favorite knitwear lines, here.

The coziest, wear-everywhere grey cashmere crewneck, here.

Love the look AND the price tag of the above cable knit.

The Row absolutely slays me.  It is my kryptonite. If I could, I’d live most everyday in something from their mindblowingly perfect label.  Would you not wear the above sweater to death?  Cost per wear is my argument!

The Row again.  Sigh.  I am telling you though, the quality and construction are impeccable.  Love, love, love this fisherman’s knit.

This chunky cotton marled knit is a super budget-friendly option.

Who better to perfect cool weather knits than Burberry?  I’m crazy over the above creamy cashmere funnel neck.

Rag & Bone is always spot on, and I am loving the warm hue of this cotton pullover.

I am seriously tempted to size up and order this boy’s J Crew cotton cable knit sweater.  How great are the dark cuffs and the price tag?  It just may be my favorite!

First image via andrecarrara.com.

Maple Glazed Cream Puffs and Mini-Eclairs

DSC_0566 DSC_0569Let me set the record straight: I am NOT, by nature, a baker of fancy desserts.  Or overly involved desserts.  If you’d like any sort of crisp or pie, I can do that for you.  Cookies?  Coconut cakes?  Lemon bars?  I’ve got you covered.  But 30 layer crepe cakes?  Dyed, rolled and personalized heart cookies?  Homemade cream puffs and eclairs?  That train is driven by my daughter Hannah.

And Martha, of course.  Martha Stewart has, through her beautifully shot magazine and her PBS television series Martha Bakes, convinced my daughter that anything is easily achieved in the kitchen.  Our kitchen.  Admittedly Hannah and I watch the show together, but most of the time I would be content to simply observe the goings-on in Martha’s world of baking.  H wants to actually make it all.  Just yesterday morning, the first thing out of her mouth was, “Good morning Mommy.  Can we make cream puffs today?”  And because I’ve silently sworn to say no less often, cream puffs it was.

There were a few stumbles, a few tense moments, but we got messy and we laughed a lot.   We also agreed that the entire puff/eclair making process was much easier than anticipated, so you should seriously give it a shot.  The pate a choux dough was a snap with only 5 ingredients (butter, sugar, salt, flour, eggs), and if you aren’t interested in making pastry cream filling, you can throw in ice cream and top with chocolate or the maple glaze for profiteroles.  I say make the glaze – it was so good I could have bathed in it.

DSC_0577Thank you, H, for continually pushing me to try new things!  My world is brighter and much more delicious because of you.

Click here to check your local listings for the PBS series Martha Bakes.

Click here for the Maple Glazed Cream Puffs and Eclairs recipe.