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  • Dinner at Gemini Chicago

    If you've been following along on my Instagram or Facebook, you'll know that while the man and I were in Chicago last week, we managed to eat our way silly!  From brunch at Hashbrowns and Siena Tavern, afternoon tea at The Allis at Soho House, to family dinner Friday night at Carmine's, we're stuffed!  We did manage to try a few new spots and dishes, but none stood out quite as well as dinner at the newly reopened Gemini in Lincoln Park.

    Nestled on the corner of Lincoln Drive and Dickens Avenue, the Gemini has a beautiful, triangular shape, as evedenced by the photo above.  Black and white awnings top windows on both sides, and the script of the entry sign is as beautiful as one could want.

    And the food!!

    We started with oxtail aglonotti and their parker house style rolls, which were salty, buttery, and perfect. The pasta was so beefy, covered in simple tomatoes and topped with shaved parmesean.  Each piece was hand-rolled.  I had a Kensington- their take on a French 75, including an elderflower vodka, while B enjoyed their Velvet Old Fashioned.

    For his main, he chose his go-to: Steak Frites, which was topped with a bone marrow butter, and I had their special of the evening, a swordfish steak with burre blanc, and we split their more popular side of peas and bacon...  which doesnt sound like much, but imagine still-fresh peas smothered in a leek cream sauce, with both tender cipolini onions and topped in crunchy onion tanglers.  I could have had it as a meal alone!

    For dessert, we split The Chocolate- a pot du creme severd alongside two homemade Oreos.  I'm not usually one for chocolate desserts, but holy hell... This one was delicious (though I'll admit, I didn't get quite as much of it as I wanted...

    We both mused how the feel of this place- the atmosphere, the music, the dishes themselves- reminded us of our favorite hometown spot, Rye on Market.  I know we'll definitely be going back, and next time, we've got our eye on the Duck Confit Nachos.

    Friends, if you're in the Chicagoland area, go check Gemini out.  At least belly up to the bar and grab that aglonotti and a cocktail. You won't be disappointed.

    ** all photos via Gemini's Instagram, and website **

  • Chicago Eats

    Each Chicago trip, we make a point to branch out a bit, try a few places we've never been before.  We test fun cocktails, visit the buzzed-about new hot spot.  We do, however, have our standard, go-to resturants and bars that just lend the feeling of being at home.  We hit the road tonight for a week in our second city, and I can guarantee a few places you can find me...

    ** That time we randomly ran into our clients in Chicago who insisted on taking our photo because it was my 30th Birthday, and we were waiting on pizza at Giordano's **

    In Chicago, you have your pizza spot.  You don't cross borders.  You find the pizza you love the best and you stick with it and fight for it.  Some vote for Lou's, others Pizano's, some Gino's.  For us, it's Giordano's.  There's something about the strings of cheese on the first slice, the crunch of the double crust along the edge.  We may have driven all night, but if we make it before close, we stop.  Have we ordered delivery to the hotel?  Maybe.

    ** Mama's Meatball Salad at Carmine's **

    Part of the Rosebud family of resturants, Carmine's is as old school Italian as it gets.  The man's go-to is a small caprese and Mama's Meatball Salad- two of their house made veal and beef meatballs along side a traditional salad.  Danny, our favorite server, reccomends mixing the two together.  It's hefty, and its a solid meal, despite being a "salad," especially when paired with a generous pour of Oban 18-year Scotch.  The vibe here is incredible- the patio opens during warmer months, offering either heat lamps or an awning, depending on what's needed, and inside, you can catch live music at the bar.  You'll definitely hear a lot of Goodfellas-esque accents, and it's those men that are the most polite.  

    ** Pump Room **

    Pump Room...  What can I say? A legend in it's own right, the Pump Room has been around since 1938, and has maintained a reputation of style, good food, and star watching ever since- Elizabeth Taylor, Mel Brooks, and Bill Murray have graced their plush banquettes.  Originally part of the Ambassador East hotel (the one in Hitchcock's North by Northwest), and now part of Public Chicago (our home away from home), renowned chef Jean-George Vongerichten has taken control of the kitchen, and his dishes are AMAZING...  The fried chicken is incredible, and the sweet pea guacamole is a staple even in our own home.  This is where romantic dates and friendly catch-ups happen.  

    ** Hashbrowns **

    We almost always leave town on Sunday midday.  It allows us time to roll out of bed, pack, and restraighten the room, while our cousin makes his way down to Old Town from Wrigleyville.  And, almost always, we meet up at Hashbrowns on Wells.  A local diner, with great coffee, and an easy menu, it's the perfect place to grab brunch before hitting the road back home.  Their servers are kind, their customers are local, and their sweet potato hashbrowns....  Oh my goodness...

    I'm making myself hungry!

    On the list to visit this trip are The Allis at Soho House as well as Cindy's Rooftop.  The Allis is supposed to have incredible tea time and brunch while the views at Cindy's look amazing!  Farewell, friends.  I'll see you when I wobble myself home.

    ** The Allis at SoHo House **

    ** Cindy's Rooftop **

  • Chocolate and Pistachio Tart

    Easter seems to be one of those holidays where there's a bit of pressure put on the host.  Its the first big gathering day of Spring, the first reminder of the tulips we planted last year, and the first opportunity to host a sweet dinner, to be thankful for your friends, to swoop out of the kitchen with a beautiful dessert...

    The Chocolate and Pistachio Tart from Martha Stewart is, in my opinion, a showstopper! Thin, nutty, sweet, and salty.  It can be a little dressy, on a beautiful glass stand, or a little more relaxed and rustic, as I've done here.  

    While I'm usually an avid Martha follower, I suggest pressing the dough into the tart pan instead of trying to roll and transport it, and I double the recipe for use in my 11' pan.  If you don't have safflower oil (or don't want to buy a bottle for a few teaspoons use), canola or vegetable works just as well.  Last Christmas, I sprinkled a little pink sea salt on top as well, but this week, I chose to stay true to the original, and dressed it up with waxflowers and pink dogwood blossoms.

    Find Martha's original recipe here, and look for the wood slice platter at Target.

  • In the Navy

    Inevitably, the grass is always greener.  Those with wavy hair wish it were straight, while those with straight would love a week without their curling iron.  Those living in a cooler climate wish for warm weather, while those with humidity crave a dry heat...  Its never ending.  We want what we don't have.

    Our kitchen is perfect.  Its beautiful.  Its clean, and a little funky.  Its white....

    Lately, I can't get the idea of a moody blue kitchen out of my head, and mostly, I blame it on this photo; a butler's pantry from designer Theresa Rowe.

    ** Theresa Rowe **

    Navy cabinets, that marble slab counter top, a black subway tile backsplash, and that gold hardware!  Gorgeous!

    The idea of navy as a neutral is a wonderful one- from a kitchen with a little bit of funk, like the one above, to a more traditional, I feel like navy cabinetry can work in really any home. Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles magazine has featured the two below, each a little more reserved than the one above, but both with deep, beautiful navy cabinetry.

    ** via Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles **

    I'd be torn on how I would design a navy kitchen in my own home...  I just love that first photo, so I feel like I'd lean that way...  Perhaps a mercury glass backsplash, matte black accessories, and a huge, branching chandelier.

    ** via The Home Depot **

    ** Crate and Barrel **

    ** via France and Son **

  • Between the Sheets

    I've never been one to spend a ridiculous amount of money on bedding.  Even now, my linen closet holds only three sets of sheets, all of them clocking in at under $100 (for a King set!!).  However, I've slowly been coming around to the idea of "building" your bedding collection; items like linen sheets for summer, sateen finishes for a smooth, cool feeling.  Embroidery, monograms, duvets, quilts, and throws can round out a medley of options so that you don't end up rushing to get everything out of the dryer on laundry day before collapsing on the mattress with only a bathrobe to cover you.  We've all been there.

    It's hard for me to break away from the idea of what a "perfect" bed looks like.  Being a Cancer, and very much a nester and a homebody, not to mention a Realtor, each morning, I fight the desire to make the bed, corner the edges, drape the fur throw just so, and head out.  That means that each day I walk in and see the bed in a different way (perhaps Bryan took a midday nap and left the pillows all mussed) I freak out a bit.  

    However, aside from my go-to's- the Performance Sheet Set from Threshold at Target and the Supima Hotel Sheet Set, also from Target- I've found myself drawn to the Lino 11 Linen Sheets from Crate and Barrel, as well as the Italian Hotel Satin Stitch from Restoration Hardware.  Both sets hit the ol' wallet at the $200 mark.

    ** Lino 11 **

    ** Italian Hotel Satin Stitch **

    I'd love to add in a fluffy duvet for summer, since our current quilt is just too heavy and not breathable enough for the warmer months, but wouldn't mind a very lightweight king-size throw, either.

    Friends, what's your bedding behavior like?  Do you switch out sheets with the seasons and have a collection of toppers depending on your mood, or are you the type who settles on your go-to and calls it a day?

    For beautiful advice on laundering your bedding, while remaining environmentally conscious, check out the bedding care guide from The Laundress here. This post is not sponsored.

     

  • The Quirk Hotel

    ** The Quirk Hotel, via their website **

    ** Boxwoods, pink velvet, and striped awnings **

    This week, I had the opportunity to travel to Richmond, Virginia with a group of almost 40 fine Realtors from my office.  We went with the intention of attending an incredible event (which we did), and through bus break-downs, carsickness, and skipping DVD's, we made it late Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. Wednesday, I decided to take myself down to the new and fabulous Quirk Hotel and treat myself to lunch at the Maple & Pine Restaurant.

    ** Quirk Hotel Lobby, via their website **

    ** Maple & Pine Bar **

    On the walk down, I happened to find myself a lunch date in a gentleman attending the same conference from North Carolina by way of Czechoslovakia.  We split a basket of Parmesean and Gruyere cheese puffs (incredible!), and I had a baby lettuce salad with oranges, beets, candied pecans and a tarragon vinaigrette, while Peter had their roast salmon with bacon lardons, cipollini onions, and a sweet potato puree.  

    ** cheese puffs **

    ** the dining room **

    According to our sweet server, the Quirk just opened in 2015, after serving as a department store for many years. They've grown pretty popular due in part to raves in Garden and Gun and online- and with good reason!!  Aside from the food being delicious, the service prompt, and genuinely friendly, the decor is killer- hot pink dining chairs, that bar, a wrought-iron staircase (that I'm hoping was original to the building), and a fun, contemporary art collection.  The rooms look equally as beautiful, and I hear that the rooftop bar is one of Richmond's warmer weather hot spots, as well as a popular wedding venue.

    ** guest room, via the hotel's website **

    ** rooftop bar, via the hotel's website **

    With suggestions for the city's Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the incredible street art, as well as some pretty swoon-inducing architecure, I'm feeling a quick weekend away with the man soon.  You can bet that we'll be hiding in one of these blushing guest suites...  especially since the room service menu includes everything found at Maple & Ash.  Nothing beats breakfast in bed, friends.

    ** pink lampshades and potted kumquats **

    ** Unless noted other wise, photography by me. **

  • Our Bedroom

    You may remember, late last year, my lamenting over not having a completely finished bedroom due to the lack of a headboard or bed.  Well, friends, that has all changed!

    Meet our bedroom.  

    Cool, shades of brown and greige, functional, and just a little bit pretty, our bedroom is easliy my favorite room in the house.  

    The dark dresser and nighstands came with us from the old house, as did the mattress and bedframe.  Everything else was bought for this room ( though the desk was fantasized about for sooooooo long).  

    Most of our home has a masculine feel- dark walls, dark wood, hard surfaces like granite and marble, sharp edges.  I wanted my office nook to be as decidedly girly as possible wihtout looking like it didn't match the rest of the bedroom.  

    The giant mirror behind my desk (remember the great mirror debacle of 2015?) allows this space to douple as a vanity, while a bright lamp, letter holder, my clock, calendar and Mac make this an incredibly functional work area. A photo of my best girl and I at Churchill Downs sits with my personal stationery and a vase of cotton, while a candle from Pickwick sits behind, and smells like my Bryan's soap... which makes me goofy and happy during the day. (Tell me you don't smell your boyfriend/husband's soap and cologne-filled clothes as you toss them in the wash.  Imagine a candle that smells like that.  Gah!!)

    Above our dresser, a coffee-stain print that I store-stalked for months before finally purchasing guards over the room.  A mercury-glass lamp and tealights provide enought light to be bright or cozy- user's choice.  The squat little gold vase is one of my favorite pieces in the house, and I'm lucky to have both a boyfriend and a florist who keeps it filled with blooms.  

    Between the doors to my closet and the bathroom, and above where our shams are tossed each night, a photo of B and I from 2009 is framed below a starburst mirror.  

    Everything in this room is almost the same color- something I find soothing and comfortable.  The walls are painted in Valspar's Safari Beige, which is happily the same color as the headboard's velvet and the silk/poly of the curtains.  Each texture plays off of each other so that the elements blur together...  almost like you're in a dream.  Appropriate for a bedroom. 

    It took three years, but we've built a space here that's comfortable, beautiful and functional, and finally- finally!- complete.  Now, if you'll excuse me, Zzzzzzz.....

    Sources:

    Desk, Mirror, Chair : Bernhardt Furniture

    Dresser, Nightstands : Ashley Furniture

    Mattress : Tempurpedic

    Headboard : Mitchell Gold Bob Williams

    Sheets : Target

    Shams, Quilt : Hotel Collection 

    Fur Throw : Pottery Barn

    Curtains : Lowe's

    Art, Round Lamp : Scout on Market

    Urchins, Small Lamp, Tea Lights, White Vase, Black Lampshades, White Frames : Target

    Calendar, Stamp Holder, Letter Holder: Sugar Paper

    White Clock : Z Gallerie

    End Lamps : At Home

    Black Frame, Starburst Mirror : Hobby Lobby

    Cotton : Mahonia

    Stationery : Missive Press

     

  • Current Obsession: Tiny Shotgun Homes

    Here in Louisville, we're fortunate to have an abundance of home styles.  From 8,000 square foot Victorian mansions, funky downtown high-rises, cheerfully colored row homes, and sprawling Indian Hills ranch-style, we really do have it all.  I'm lucky enough to work in an industry that allows me not only to swoon over the exteriors of these, but to tour inside as well.

    Lately, though, I've been obsessing over three tiny homes; One, painted olive green and with two massive dogwood trees in the front yard sits across from one of my favorite eateries, and I find myself wanting to stand and stare everytime I go for crepes.  Another, brick and covered in ivy sits off of a downtown thoroughfare.  Each time we'd pass, I'd mention aloud how "cute that little house is" until the boyfriend finally started beating me to it... "Hey! There's that house you like!" The third, white, with columns out front and a black door, sits across the railroad tracks from a buzzing eatery-filled area.  I've only ever gotten to see it from this sideways angle of driving by, but it looks so charming, with huge trees in the back yard. 

    All of them have one thing in common: They're small, shotgun style homes. 

    ** both via pinterest **

    As far as we know, Shotgun style homes started in America in New Orleans, as a cheap style structure for the richer business owners to house their workers.  Traditionally only three rooms- the living room, into the sleeping room, then into the kitchen, off of which a bathroom may have been located- the original shotguns were only 12'-15' wide.  Most had very little yard, especially in front, where the steps and porch often began at the city sidewalk.

    Originally, these cute homes were called "shotgun" because a shotgun could be fired through the front door and go right out the back  door without witting a wall.  Now, though, we're seeing (in Louisville, at least) a resurgence of love for these little houses, with camelback additions being built, altered floorplans, expansions.

    ** a 1930's shot, and a sweet maintained version, both in New Orleans, via Pinterest **

    Personally, though, I'm a sucker for the 3 room original.  To me, nothing says guest house, or sweet weekend crash pad like a small home with bright windows and tall ceilings like the one above.  Perfect.

  • Our Dining Room

    I've heard that formal dining rooms are passe, a waste of space.  I have a friend who used hers as a catch-all for her kids toys, and remember the folks in the giant victorian next to my old house utilizing their massive antique table as a shared desk space.  For a while, real estate wise, there was a trend of all-open floor plans...  Living rooms glided into dining "areas," and kitchen walls were open to both.  I'm not saying this is wrong; everyone has their own tastes and uses of space.  Personally, I just love a place to light a candle, center a dish of roast chicken, to relax with a bottle of wine and enjoy a few moments of quiet... or of crazy laughter, depending on the company.  I love a dining room, which is why we have one.

    Being in a townhome, we do have a smaller formal dining room.  At only 13' by 11', which includes a walkway to the kitchen, my grandmother's Duncan Pfife style dining table and chairs fit the space perfectly.  The seats of the chairs were reupholstered (an easy project with a drill, staplegun, and some material) in a black velvet.  Soon, that may be replaced with linen..  We'll see. 

    Two of the chairs frame my glass-front china cabinet- a steal from Macy's!- and above, original sketches of our old home as well as our current are framed and double matted.  Leopard-print pillows are a fun touch.  On the opposite wall, leading into the kitchen, are two simple paintings done by yours truly, in custom frames.

    The walls are painted in Pantone Jet Black, while the trim and ceiling remain bright white.  The floors are a chocolate-y hickory hardwood.

    Topping the room is a gold and black sphere light from Crystorama.  You may have noticed his smaller counterpart in our kitchen's breakfast area.  On the new hardwood is a super soft and shimmery rug in gold tones.  The light bounces off of it in such a pretty way, and it feels so nice underfoot.

    In the corner, under a clock my grandfather brought back from a trip to Germany, sits a huge peace lily that I haven't yet managed to kill.  She's fitted in a sleek metal pot. 

    Here she is, friends.  We've had intimate, 4-person dinners, and hosted over 20 for Thanksgiving.  Last Christmas, the table held mountains of appetizers and desserts when we hosted several friends for Christmas.  Our dining room is so used, and now, its a beautiful and comfortable place to host. 

    Sources:

    Flooring : Gilford Flooring, Glascow Hickory in Mountain Dust

    Paint : Pantone Jet Black

    Light : Crystorama 

    Table and Chairs : Vintage 

    Clock : Vintage

    Rug : Mitchell Gold Bob Williams

    Dishes : Vera Wang for Wedgewood

    Glassware : Williams-Sonoma

    Art : Custom

    Sketches : Wadia Newman Designs

    Plant Pot : Mahonia Studios 

    Frames : Hobby Lobby

    Gold Urchins : Target

    Alligator : Vintage 

    Aloe and Pot : Mahonia Studios 

    Petrified Wood Tray : Scout on Market

    Silver : Williams-Sonoma

    Carving Set : Williams- Sonoma

    Punch Bowl and Glasses : Vintage

    Pillows : Arianna Belle

    ** This post is not sponsored in any way **

  • Palm Springs Dreaming

    It's that time of year when all of the man's athletes are on Spring Break.  My social media is flooded with photos of rolling waves, videos of late-night pranks.  I keep getting Snaps and texts of sun-splashed co-eds laughing that I'm a little too old to travel with them, and sunburn...  So much sunburn.  While I have no want to be holed up with a dozen other people and at least three times that many bottles of cheap booze, I do find myself craving a vacation, and I keep thinking of sunny Palm Springs.

    ** via Realtor.com **

    Ah yes...  Palm Springs... That dazzling oasis off of Route 66, nestled between mountains and Joshua Tree National Park, just outside of Coachella Valley.  Home to mid-century modern homes, vintage style, and the long-time inspiration for Slim Aarons's iconic photography.

    ** Get your kicks... **

    ** Poolside Gossip by Slim Aarons **

    I'm craving a stay at the Parker Palm Springs, the happy, quirky, Jonathan Adler- decorated Spa in the middle of 13 acres...  Croquet, pools, private cabanas, incredible eats, and a fun bar scene.  I'm imagining palm-leaf print swimsuits, inflatable swans.  

    To me, the Parker is a reason to play dress up, wear flowers in my hair, accept a tiny bit (or a lot a bit) of a tan.  Morning yoga, funky beverages, and a quick jaunt into town for shopping, dining.  

    ** Parker Palm Springs **

    ** via Debutante Clothing **

    I'm definitely California Dreaming...

    What are your experiences, readers?  Have you ever been to Palm Springs? Surely you have a favorite summer vacation spot.  Tell me about it in the comments!