9.29.2010

Pipe Dreams

Maybe I'm late on this trend but I've been keeping an eye on this for a bit wondering if you can pull it off and it not look homemade but chic. I have come to the consensus that it's pretty plausible that it can be chic if used sparingly. There isn't one piece that stands out more than the rest, I love them all, but I don't think that you can do the whole house in this style. Just too much. Now if only I could get my hands on some  beaten old wood and some old pipes, that would be fantastic. Add that to my list of to do...




9.23.2010

Kitchen gadgets - vers. 2

Ok so the other side of the coin is the useless gadgets that clutter up our kitchen. How many things do I have that seriously only do one thing? Sometimes I forget that I have it since it's hardly used that I don't end up using it, or I think crap one more thing to wash,  I'll just use my knife instead.


Herb Scissors, seriously? Whats wrong with a knife or for that matter normal kitchen shears? 

Salad Spinner, I have one. Why? I ask myself the same thing. I usually just use the bowl that this came with, it's nice and light but have I spinned any lettuce in this? Maybe a few times, but for what it's worth I'd rather rinse my salad under the faucet and shake it off and let dry instead of pulling this contraption out. I mean it does exactly what it's supposed to do, and it does it well, just that it's only good for one purpose. I almost threw my spinner part away but I felt guilty since it was a shower gift and I was the one who asked for it.

Garlic Press - have this too! I don't ever use it so maybe I should just get rid of it. I can smash and chop garlic faster with my knife or if it needs to be really fine than I take out the grater and use that instead. Plus the knife and grater are much easier to clean than the dang holes in the garlic press. I cringe if I have to think about using the toothpick to get out all those left behind pieces of garlic that I couldn't get out with  brush. 

Egg Slicer, granted it does slice the egg in one pass but how hard is it to pass a knife over the egg a couple more times. Plus cleaning a knife pales in comparison to having to wipe every little wire and get the crud out of those crevices. 

Bagel Slicer - that much room dedicated to something that slices a bagel, if you don't have a bagel shop. Use a knife. 

Onion Goggles - I don't know, it seems that the more often I chop onions the more I'm prone to not tearing anymore. I can't remember when was the last time I teared up when I chopped onions. And I chop a lot of onions. Maybe for someone who has sensitive eyes? But really?

Tuna Strainer - because using the top of the can won't suffice? I mean this contraption is only good for one size of can. It's completely useless if you have the large can of tuna, and it takes up precious space in the drawer that most of us don't have room to give up.

All in all, I think that anything that is made for one purpose alone is a waste of money and space. Sometimes all you really need is a good knife or a great set of hands. Yes granted there are tools that are meant for one thing and are worth the space and price of owning it, but there really aren't that many. 

What are some of the useless things that you've come across? (or even own)




9.20.2010

Kitchen gadgets - vers. 1

I wanna start by saying that I cook a lot and before I got married I registered for a bunch of stuff, I also bought a lot of stuff afterwards setting up my kitchen. I have to say that there is a lot of unnecessary crap out there. As I became more confident in the kitchen I came to the realization that a lot of these tools only did one thing and took more space than I had to spare. Looking trough my everyday "gadgets" I wanted to show you what my favorites were. None of these tools were brand specific except for the rice cooker - Ill get into that.
Rice Cooker (This really isn't essential unless your asian which my husband is Filipino so we cook a lot of rice) Although if you cook a good amount of rice or like oatmeal or rice onepot dishes - all of which a good rice cooker can handle - than this is essential. Notice I said good rice cooker not mediocre. Tiger brand is by far the best rice cooker out there - most rice eaters will tell you that this is the best brand, expensive, but lasts forever. My mother-in-law had hers for 20+ years. I have made all types of rice, white, black wild, brown - all come out perfect. No measuring really required, just a knuckle water test. (meaning 1 cup of rice, water sits to the first knuckle on your index finger white rice) I have made oatmeal in it, soaked it and cooked directly in this machine. Rice always comes out perfect and is always done much faster than when cooking on a pot with a lid - I think its the lifting of the lid and stirring that screws it up. 

Electric Kettle I love this gadget, boils water so much faster than a traditional kettle on the stove. While we were in Poland back in 1997 I noticed that EVERYONE had an electric kettle. So when we got back to the states we went out and got one too. Haven't gone back since. 

Cutting Boards I say you need a few in your kitchen. Having a wood one and a silicone/plastic one is essential. I have a few of each not too heavy, not too large or too small just a medium size where the food doesn't fall off the board and you can still lift it with one hand to pour food into pot. Don't buy glass ones - throw those out they dull your knife. 

Kitchen Knives A good set will set you back but if you take care of them they will last you forever. I don't care which brand you get Cutco, Henckels, W├╝sthof, Shun etc. A good knife will be made out of stainless steel which resists corroding better is carbon stainless which is strong yet flexible. The part of the blade that goes into the handle (called the tang) should go all the way through on both sides. There are other factors that go into a good knife but I think that these are the most important ones. Also if you have a good knife, never stick it in the dishwasher, tends to dull the blade. 

• Citrus Squeeze I love this tool, makes squeezing limes and lemons sail right through. Don't get a plastic one either get something thats made out of metal and doesn't have plastic hinges. Trust me the first one I purchased was a nice see-through plastic one, after the first lime it was done for.

Graters probably the tool that has a ton of uses it grates ginger and garlic and cheese and spices and zests citrus and the larger grate instead of using my box grater, grates dry bread for bread crumbs.

Silicone Tongs I use silicone because I have anodized pots and pans and I don't want to scratch them with the metal tongs but what I like about this brand which is Giadas from Target is that you pull the little pull on the top to open and close them. So they don't take up a lot of space on your drawer. Theses come in several sizes I also have the oxo brand which work the same way.

What essentials do you have to have in order to function in your kitchen - I'd love to know leave me a comment. 

Next up is the kitchen tools that you can skip.



9.18.2010

Rue the day!

At least I hope you won't have to rue the day you missed checking out rue magazine. It launched its premiere issue this week, unfortunately there is only an online version but I can still pull up my chair with a latte and flip through the pages with my mouse. Here are a couple of my favorite spreads and color combos - the navy and gold I'm lovin' that combo!


9.17.2010

Junkin' Finds

I swore that I would go junkin' before the summer ended come hell or high water. So it was good for me that my friends mom had a garage sale and I scored on this huge wicker basket/hamper for $2.00.  I probably got the friend discount but everything counts. She had a ton of other stuff but I got there at 4 which for junkin' is like don't even bother. It's the perfect size for all of Ari's toys - we outgrew the small basket that was previously used for toys. A quick coat of white and silver spray paint makes it a bit less country.

I also picked up two ceramic planters and a bottle with a cork top. I will use the bottle for storing the loose sea salt that is currently sitting in a plastic bag. The planters,  at first I wanted to plant some moss in them but with winter coming and the air being very dry in our house it might be hard to keep moss green and fresh. Maybe some maidenhead ferns for the bathroom?

Planters $3.00 each, bottle .72¢, hamper $2.00, left over spray paint free. All in all I think I came away very well on my one junkin' trip.

Ohh here is a good tip, if you need to clean a bottle and don't have a bottle cleaner, fill it with dry rice some dish soap and water and shake it around. The rice will get in all the corners and edges and clean it. Works great on baby bottles with milk that is a bit stuck on. 




9.14.2010

Thank you Dermalogica

You know those people that have awesome skin, the glowing flawless complexion that they can go with out makeup and still look fabulous type of skin? Yeah those people. 


I'm not one of those people, not by far. I have always had problem skin. It's not as bad as a teenager, but it wasn't what I thought I would have as a grown up. I always imagined that once you get out of your teenage years your skin becomes flawless, or least good enough to go without makeup. 


While I was pregnant, my skin became clear, might also have to do with all the vitamins I was taking. After the baby I kept taking the vitamins and the skin went back to its earlier condition. Not so nice.  I did take care of it, I got facials and had alpha-hydroxy masks done. It wasn't improving much. 


I was doing what I thought was the right things for my face. When one day I really looked at my one girlfriend and her skin was glowing. What was she doing? She preceded to tell me how she found this brand of face wash and is loving it. She said that she cant wait to wash her face in the morning, it feels so nice. It is a powder and when you put a bit of water in your palm, and rub over your face, the granules start foaming. It gently takes away the layer of dirt and dead skin that is constantly on your top level of your skin. She has been using Dermalogica for a while now and her face has looked fantastic. I always figured it was great genes and not great product.


The next day I went and researched the brand, I have to admit my interest was piqued. I liked what they had to say about the products plus all of them were made without harmful irritants. No artificial fragrances or colors, no mineral oils, no S.D. alcohol, and no comedogenic or allergy-causing ingredients. Being that my skin is sensitive I liked that and went to Ulta the same day to get a consult. I read that if you've never used their products before to have a specialist analyze your skin and recommend the products to you. 

I had the face mapping done and was told that although I have adult acne in some areas its mostly because the skin isn't shedding that layer of dead skin and clogging the pores. I would have thought that I would have been recommended the products in their acne system. Instead I was recommended that I use the cleanser or daily microfoliant. 



I went ahead and bought 3 products the microfoliant, special cleansing gel and the skin hydrating booster. The booster is a tiny little bottle and I paid $50 for 1 fl oz but it has been worth it. Since buying these products 7 months ago, I still have about 25% left. The booster only requires that you put a tiny dab on your fingers and spread it on your face under your day lotion. Man what a difference it makes in my skin especially in the winter months when its super dry and flaky. It apparently has: 
  • Hyaluronic Acid holds up to 1000 times its weight in water for hydration and improved elasticity.
  • Panthenol aids in tissue repair while hydrating skin.
  • Algae extracts help restore moisture balance.
In the summer I have used it by itself without any moisturizer, since I don't need much through the humid summer.



I just want to say no one is paying me to write this. I just want to say that I love this product. I noticed when I got a little lazy and went back to a soap cleanser my skin also went back to it's crappy self. You might think that it's too much to spend on skin care, but really it lasts forEVER and it is your face, it's the first thing people see when they meet you. I know. I had terrible skin and I remember the looks from people when they would notice my skin instead of me. 

I will never go back to the things I used before, even proactive never worked long enough for me, but this does and I'm a convert for life. 

9.13.2010

Cymboly do szkoly

"Cymboly do szkoly" (tsim •bo • wy - doh -  szko • wy) thats what my dad used to say whenever we went back to school. No matter if it was grammar school or college, first day back. And now I say it to my daughter, which roughly translates from Polish to "dummies to school". Not so eloquent huh. But it makes me smile, my little poopsie started preschool and I have to pat myself on the back, she nor I cried.

How time flies but this chapter in our life is a great one. I need the 2.5 hrs of peace and quiet from all singing and dancing and screaming and talking and disney movies and "momma can I have a cookie" "Hot Mleczko"(in a baritone) and "Outside, please". I won't lie, it is very quiet, but I sort of like it.


9.12.2010

Market after the Street Market

After we came from the Randolph Street Antique Market we went and got some lunch nearby at Market. I had never been there before but the food was delicious. We had a tuna tartar with crispy wontons and rare tuna and spring rolls which were ok but the bomb were the truffle french fries. I wish I didn't feel stupid taking picture of the food cuz the fries man they are something to write home about. They come in this cone that has two little cups one with ketchup and the other with something I call magic sauce. Yum it was so good, they are just the right kind of crispy and salty and soft inside, everything you want from a gourmet french fry and they have truffle oil on them. Hence the name truffle fries.

Ok so here is a pic I pilfered from their site of the tuna and one with the fries in the background. (wipe drool of chin)





And here is a pic of their awesome roof top, imagine what fun it would be to be up here at night with the chicago skyline on a nice summer night.




But what I really wanted to showcase was the magnificent tile work that was done in the basement on the way to the restrooms. The hallway was done in a long narrow tile and the wood covered the walls and ceiling but at the end of the hallway there was an alcove made of Carrera marble that Im not sure if it comes in this shape or you need someone to lay this way, but wow what a  statement it makes. 

Can I sing "LOVE IT", makes me want to run my hands over it. Although I don't know if its practical inside the home so many peaks and all must be a Be-atch to clean and all. But then again when is anything that's done in a commercial space practical for the home. It's the wow factor that makes you want to come back to certain places just for the ambiance.


Oh the lights in the hallway, they aren't just normal lights they are x-rays of body parts. It looks cools except I have no clue why or how it ties into the rest of the restaurant? Go figure. Anyhow if you are ever visiting Chicago I highly recommend a visit to Market, if you want to skip the crowd go in the day, at night it gets pretty busy as it is a bar and lounge.



9.11.2010

Happy Dooms Day to my husband!!!!

Happy anniversary to the man I married and my best friend. I just want to say thanks and I love you, as you say, its dooms day. We got married on Sept. 11th 2004. And we were one of the first couples that took the plunge to get married on Sept 11th after THE Sept 11th. At least my husband can never, ever say that he forgot our anniversary and didn't see the day coming.  This year we have been together for 15 years and married for 6 of them. Yeah I know, it took awhile to get to the alter.


9.10.2010

Antique Market in the heart of Chicago

Sorry I was away but summer had us pretty busy so I hope I can play catch up now with some of the things that we were up to.  A couple of weekends ago we went to the Randolph Street Antique Market, which happens once a month on Randolph in the heart of Chicago.  There is an assortment of junk and treasure depending on who you ask, but one thing that my friend and I both thought was true was that the prices were pretty fair for an antique market in Chicago.  Usually things are soo overpriced that I feel like I'd rather go out and buy the thing brand new and save myself some money instead. Granted there were a few things that were WAY overpriced. Like an edged tin 7' mirror that the guy wanted $1400.00 for, and he wouldn't budge. Not even one bit. No sale on that one.

But then there was a vender that was selling letters from signs that were for a pretty good price. I bought a few stainless steel ones for $2. a pop, and she had brass ones that were about 8" for $12. She also had a couple of moroccan tables I wish they were a foot smaller or if I had the room for a side table that big, sigh... need a bigger space.

Then there was this great cart although it was pricey but I can see someone putting  stuffed animals into it or if you had a large enough bathroom a bunch of colorful towels. What might be other ideas, I'd love to know what you would put into or do with it. 

Also there was a vender that had an old work table, I can see that as someones new workspace with a sleek laptop and high modern stool or maybe if you had a large enough foyer that can serve as the entrance table or even a buffet in a dining room. There are endless possibilities. She also had old railway lights that she was selling with the blue glass and she had a few that were in other color glass as well, although I don't remember which color those were. No matter, they were way to pricey for me. 
Check out these Chanel doors, I don't know where they came from but they were heavy. That might work nicely mounted behind a bed as a headboard on a dark painted wall possibly? Any other suggestions?



We ended the day with an impromptu jam session, Ari had spied some drums a xylophone and a little stool and once she started she roped my friend into playing along with her while she sang. She started to get a crowd of people checkin' her out, I mean wouldn't you watch if there was a kid singing and playing with no abandon. I should have put out a hat for some change, cuz I ended coming home with the xylophone in the end. 

At the end of Sept is the last Randolph Street Market for this year, they start again next year and if your here you should check it out; treasures/junk, food, and music all with a backdrop of Chicago city skyline.

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