Monthly Archives: November 2012

Wedding Wednesday: Saying “I Do” To a Videographer

The second bouquet I caught in a year

Wedding Wednesday? Yes, I’ve officially gone off the blogging deep end. Swan dive and all. It’s just that after last week’s post about asking my bridesmaids I realized that blogging about our wedding is so. much. fun. I still can’t believe this is real life. Shortly after Robert proposed my sister said to me that I’m like romantic comedy happy. Nothing about that has changed.  Every decision we’ve made hasn’t been the easiest, but once we take the plunge we’re 100 percent committed to it and get even more excited about the big day.  That day just happens to be exactly 10 months or 304 days from today (achem, if anyone would like to produce us a flower girl you still have time…) See what I mean about the deep end? I can’t be held responsible for the things I say.

While I don’t plan on posting about the wedding for the next 40 or so weeks I’ll share any fun, new decisions or developments as they arise and seem blog-worthy.  We’ve made so many big decisions in the past month that a part of me wishes we chose an earlier date because we pretty much have all of the pieces in place. (So what if I have nothing to wear and would have to scrounge together a bouquet of flat leaf parsley and cilantro?)

The most recent development will happen today shortly after I hit “Publish” on this post when I’ll e-mail the signed contract and send the deposit to the videographer. Let me start by saying that when I dreamed about our wedding a videographer was never part of it. (And I really do mean “our” wedding; I never imagined what my wedding might look like until I met Robert and knew very early on that he was my forever.) The idea of a videographer only occurred to me after Robert proposed. It was such a huge surprise and I was so ecstatically blissed out that I barely remember it. When I call the memory to mind I can see Robert down on one knee in the park across the street from our new home and me standing there with both hands over my mouth saying, “Is this happening? Wait, is this really happening? OH MY GOD THIS IS HAPPENING!” In other words it’s an out of body experience based on what I think actually happened, but I can’t remember exactly what it felt like to be in my body in that moment. And I really wish I could. That experience made me realize that our wedding day may very likely cause mind-erasing bliss and I want to be able to remember it all.

Once I did some research and realized how big of an investment a truly great videographer is (if we’re going to do it we may as well go with the best) I put the question of whether or not to hire a videographer out to the Facebook world. I was overwhelmed with the responses and it’s really what sealed the deal for us. Friends I haven’t spoken to in more than 10 years went out of their way to let me know their thoughts, which meant so very much to me. Many people who had a videographer said it was one of the best decisions they made (even if they were opposed to it at first) and some made the point that they didn’t have one and really wish they had so they could relive the day. We already have an incredible photographer (so happy with our decision!), but the idea of reliving it through a documentary-style video on top of that makes me feel like we really can capture every meaningful moment.

The question of which videographer to hire was probably the easiest part of this decision. I’ve had the biggest crush on I Do Films for some time and was more than thrilled when Robert gave them his seal of approval, too. I’m powerless in the presence of those films. I cry every. single. time. I also had a sweet yoga friend send me the full-length edited copy of her DVD by I Do and after that I was sold. I bawled through her entire film and I wasn’t even there! (Here’s the short version of their film.)

Although it took us some time to make this decision once and for all I couldn’t be happier that we went through with it. I already can’t wait for the day about six months after our wedding when the DVDs arrive in the mail and we’ll get to relive our wedding day as many times as we like for countless years to come.

Will You Be My Bridesmaid?

This time of year food bloggers everywhere are posting countless recipes for Thanksgiving, which happens to be tomorrow. (Will somebody please tell me how that happened?) Robert and I are flying to Vermont tonight to spend the holiday with my parents, my sister, and my brother-in-law. My whole family will hang out in the kitchen on Thanksgiving Day cooking up a feast. Besides making a butterflied, grilled turkey (so delicious!) we tend to be traditionalists when it comes to the other parts of the meal so there’s not much to add to the Thanksgiving food conversation. If we were to do away with any staple or change it in anyway – the stuffing, the potatoes, the gravy, or the cranberry sauce – it wouldn’t quite be Thanksgiving to me.

So, for me, this Thanksgiving week isn’t just about the food as much as it’s about something else: Giving thanks to the best friends a girl could ever wish for. This Saturday I planned a lunch to let my best girlfriends know just how much they mean to me and to ask them to be my bridesmaids. Saturday morning I was so giddy with anticipation I launched out of bed before 8 a.m. I was more than Christmas-morning excited.

Truth? I’ve known who my bridesmaids would be for a while even though I had absolutely no idea Robert was going to propose when he did. I think at some point in life you just know. I also knew I wanted to ask them in some special way so I gave myself some time to figure out exactly how I was going to do it. The idea started to form when I recently developed a love for Rifle Paper Co. The designs are so beautiful, whimsical, and fun. Then I found the “Will You Be My Bridesmaid?” and “Will You Be My Matron of Honor?” stationary. I was done. I ordered the stationary and wrote each girl a personal note expressing how much they mean to me and asked them to be my bridesmaids/Matron of Honor.

Next, I reached out to my super-talented high school friend Kiera of She bakes, designs, and decorates the most gorgeous edible treats you’ve ever seen. When I ran the idea of doing Rifle Paper Co. inspired Will You Be My Bridesmaid? cookies by her she was more than game. She took the idea and created the most beautiful cookies that were light years beyond anything I possibly could have dreamed of. She then came up with packaging ideas that took everything to a whole other dimension. (Please forgive my less-than perfect photos. Kiera’s husband is a photographer and I’m sure she’ll have some professional-level pics on her blog at some point so keep checking!) 

See what I mean? Stunning. Below are the packages she created with handwritten chalkboard-like labels (I mean what?!?!?!) By the way, these flew from San Francisco where Kiera lives and arrived at my home in Chicago in flawless condition:

Below is what the cookies look like inside the boxes (the two pictured above were extra samples Kiera sent Robert and me.) We can confirm that the cookies aren’t just pretty they taste delicious, too! Check out those labels below!!!

Saturday, I invited the girls to a fancy champagne lunch at Fred’s at Barneys New York. The restaurant is located at the top of the store with views of downtown and Lake Michigan. My sister wasn’t able to fly in from New York (it was super short notice), but she surprised us with a bottle of champagne when we arrived at the table! It was like she was there in spirit and bubbles. Thank you so much, Leah!! Best. Surprise. Ever.

I had Kiera send a similar cookie package to Leah in NY with a “Will You Be My Matron of Honor” label, which Leah opened with me over video chat.

Here we are at Fred’s. I’ve known all of these girls since freshman year at Northwestern, which means we’ve been friends for 10 YEARS!!! It sounds like a crazy-long time to me now, but I know we’ll look back at these pictures some day and talk about how young we were and how this was just the beginning of life-long friendships.

Love you all so much! Thank you for making me the happiest and luckiest gal ever. xoxoxo

Slow Cooker Lentil Stew

There are some healthy foods that make me feel even healthier than others. I realize this is completely ridiculous. Like spinach? Broccoli? Eh, those are old-school healthy. Kale is better, but Swiss chard is like crazy-super healthy probably because it’s a mystery to me. I feel the same way about lentils. Once you put lentils into a meal it automatically shoots the health-factor through the roof. It’s practically impossible to make an unhealthy meal once you’ve added lentils into the mix. Only good things can happen.

Every time I cook lentils I think of Dr. Oz. I remember reading an article in Time magazine about how he cheated before undergoing a colonoscopy and ate the day before. During the test his colon was dotted with lentils, which obscured the result. I’m not sure why that stuck with me, but it’s probably because it’s just totally absurd. You blew your colonoscopy because you ate lentils? Seriously Dr. Oz? The story would’ve been way better if his colon was clogged up with a cheeseburger.

Truth be told, I have iffy feelings about veggie stews because they can end up kind of mushy (gross), but this meal fell into no such trap. The carrots, cauliflower, and lentils maintained a slight firmness to them even after hanging out in the slow cooker for 8 hours. Meanwhile, the flavors totally melded together–just as they should in a stew. It tasted earthy, a little bit spicy, and just a bit sweet. I loved, too, how every bite was packed with so many different ingredients. It’s a huge bonus, but I’ll admit the prep requires quite a bit of chopping. Problem solved: I chopped all of my veggies the night before and stored them in reusable containers in the fridge (see below). They were ready for action the next morning. 

The recipe makes a lot (you should probably be smarter than I was and freeze some), which is why I ate the stew for two dinners and three lunches last week. Let’s just say that by the end of the week I practically felt like the patron saint of health. As a result I was totally okay calling movie theater popcorn and a diet coke dinner Saturday night when we saw Skyfall (so good!) Balance : )

Slow Cooker Lentil Stew

Serves: At least 6


1 cup chopped onion (about 2 small or 1 large onion)

3 garlic cloves, minced

3 carrots, peeled and chopped

3 celery stalks, chopped

1 large leek (or 2 small), white and light green parts chopped

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp cayenne (more if you like it spicier)

Salt & pepper

1 head cauliflower, chopped into tiny florets

14 oz dried green lentils, rinsed and picked through

1 (28 oz) can no salt added diced tomatoes

4 cups low sodium vegetable broth


Combine onion through salt and pepper in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onion and carrots soften. Add to slow cooker. To the slow cooker add cauliflower, lentils, tomatoes, and broth. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

Adapted from The Shiksa in the Kitchen originally from the Weelicious cookbook


Banana Bread Cookies

Some things in life are just too good not to share even for another minute. If I could invite all of you over to my house to finish the dozen or so banana cookies that are left I would. (And not just because there’s a risk I may devour them all myself.) The truth is this isn’t a recipe I ever intended to post on this blog. It just happened that I’ve had a bunch of bananas hanging on for dear life for well over a week now and if they didn’t become some kind of baked good soon (like, today) they were destined for the trash. I couldn’t let that happen. So this morning while still in bed I searched for a few different banana-based recipes on my iPad and landed on this one because it looked like the quickest and easiest to make. Plus I had all of the ingredients including disintegrating-before-my-eyes bananas. There was even a chance they’d be ready before Robert left for work. Done. I whipped up the batter so quickly that I didn’t have very high hopes for the outcome. I was sure something would go awry in the process, especially considering the fact that I hadn’t even had any coffee yet. (I would have had coffee if I’d remembered to press the ON button on the programmable coffee maker when I preset it last night. The sad part is this isn’t the first time this week I’ve neglected that little detail.)

Wow was I surprised when I broke off a piece of warm cookie to taste before Robert packed one up on his way out the door. They were totally happy-dance-in-the-kitchen-at-7:30-a.m. worthy. They’re soft, chewy, and everything else you could possibly want from a banana cookie. I don’t know about you, but I had never actually had a banana cookie before and yet they were everything I could’ve hoped they would be. Banana bread cookie is the best way I could think of to describe them, but they’re actually like a bread, muffin, and cookie all in one. Mind = blown. When I made them I was sure they could use some chocolate chips so I was a little bummed that we didn’t have any (don’t tell my mom I was out of chocolate chips. She may disown me for that.) However, these are absolutely perfect in their unadulterated state I’m not even sure I’d add chocolate chips next time I make them. There will definitely be a next time.

Just a word to the wise before you grab your electric mixer and get baking. The batter is much less dense than you’d expect for a cookie. That’s when I was certain my decaffeinated state had failed me. I almost grabbed the muffin tin because the batter was more pourable than scoopable. Fortunately, I just went with it and dropped them onto a baking sheet. Next thing I knew: Cookies for breakfast!

Banana Bread Cookies

Makes: About 18 cookies


1/2 cup canola oil

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup mashed bananas (about 3 very ripe bananas)

1 tsp baking soda

2 tsp cinnamon

2 1/2 cups plus 2 Tbsp flour

1/2 tsp salt


Preheat oven to 350. Using a stand mixer, beat sugars and oil for about 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time and beat until combined. In a bowl, combine flour, cinnamon and salt. In another bowl, mash bananas. Add baking soda to bananas. With the mixer on low, alternate adding some of the flour mixture and some of the mashed bananas to the sugar and egg mixture until they’re all combined. Scoop dough onto Silpat or parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until edges just start to brown.

Recipe from Haniela’s Food & Photography


Life Lately

Hi friends! I’m going to start by being honest with you. I don’t have a recipe to share today so if you’re hungry grab a snack or a cup of tea and just keep reading : )

It has been a while since I last posted. Life has kept me so busy I haven’t had time to make many new or original recipes. But I miss you! I’ve been relying mostly on standards (like pan-seared or roasted salmon) or quick recipes I’ve found on Pinterest. I haven’t even used Pinterest for a full year yet and I almost can’t imagine how people cooked before its existence. Amazing how quickly new technologies infiltrate our lives and minds, eh? Still, I wanted to reconnect with you and let you know that I plan to return on a regular basis very soon. After all, winters in Chicago are very long and there are few things I love more than spending a cold day in my warm kitchen.

If you’re curious about what I’ve been up to lately, let’s start with the really fun stuff: Wedding planning! We’ve made some huge progress in the past few weeks including a venue (here in Chicago), date (Sept 28, 2013…only 323 more days to go!), photographer, band, and even a few surprises for our guests that Robert and I are super excited about. That’s been among our favorite parts: What can we do to show our guests a ridiculously fun time? Now if only I had something to wear I’d really be on top of things. (That’s still a work in progress…)

I have to admit that I’ve been completely shocked at how difficult and, at times, emotional the wedding-planning process can be. In the past, any time I’d hear a bride complain about anything I’d just think to myself, geez get over it bridezilla. Do you know how lucky you are? But now I’m willing to admit that I get it. I completely get it. You have to make a million decisions and you’re constantly trying to figure out what’s “you” for an occasions you’ve (probably) never done before. It ain’t easy. And you want to do it in a way that feels authentic. Of course, I’m not losing sight of what the day is about—promising to share the rest of my life with the person I love most on the planet. Still, we’re inviting all of the other important people in our lives to share this occasion with us so I can’t help but care and want to make the day special, meaningful, and fun for everyone. Ever since making some of the bigger decisions (like where to get married—we moved the wedding around to a few different places before coming back to Chicago) the other pieces have fallen into place and it’s been really exciting to watch. I’m even planning to do a bunch of DIY items for the wedding to give it a really personal touch. That’s sure to be interesting since I don’t have a crafty bone in my body. I’ll let you know how it goes!

In other news, I’ve been teaching yoga and lots of it! I have two permanent classes during the week, but sub a lot of classes, too. When I first started writing for magazines I was so terrible about invoicing because I couldn’t believe people were actually paying me to write. That’s exactly how I feel about teaching yoga! It’s a dream come true. I’ve known that I wanted to teach yoga ever since I first started practicing it when I moved to Park City, UT in 2006. Over the years I even started various trainings, but for whatever reason never went through with them until I found CorePower Yoga and completed Teacher Training there earlier this year. Without a doubt, I know it was a right time, right place, right style of yoga kind of thing. It’s still a little surreal to me to step into the role of a teacher, but with every class it feels more and more comfortable. When I first started teaching I felt completely nervous (would I mess up? would I forget the sequence?) Today, I feel nothing but joy and excitement before walking into the room.

Things will continue to stay pretty jam-packed over the next few months with trips to Ann Arbor (we leave tonight for the University of Michigan vs. Northwestern game—Robert went to Michigan and I went to Northwestern so that’s always a fun game to watch!), Vermont to see my family for Thanksgiving, and a Caribbean cruise with Robert’s family in December. Of course there’s sure to be lots of wedding planning, yoga, and plenty of good food along the way. Can’t wait to share it all with you soon!