Sad Little Bracket Busting Bears

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I think I counted my chickens before they were hatched. Or, at the very least, purchased too many Michigan State themed gummi bears to be consumed before the end of that terrible, bracket busting game on Friday.

However, I soldiered on and ate those gummi bears. Someone had to do it.

See ya next season,Spartans. 

Weekend Pause Button

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Last weekend was one of those weekends I wish had a pause button and now that we have a few inches of snow on the ground, I really wish that there was pause button because those 60 degree days were glorious. But until the next thaw comes, I will remember the glass of wine I drank outside with this view and our trip to the Milk Room. Spending time outside in February just feels like the craziest gift, you know? If you don’t know, look out the window at that white stuff and we’ll be on the same page.

Sidebar: The Milk Room, an 8 seat cocktail bar in the Chicago Athletic Association, is one of the coolest places we have ever been too. Formerly the teeny room used to store milk in the early 1900s / booze during Prohibition, it now houses a cocktail experience…which sounds like a weird thing to say but when you’re drinking Campari from the 1970s, Bourbon from the 50s, listening the Bob Dylan on vinyl and learning about it all from the single bartender with only candles lighting the way, it’s an experience. An extravagant experience but a date that will rank the top of our list for years to come.   

On Shallots and Only What Matters

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Did I ever tell you about the time I cried while cutting a shallot?

I took a cooking class in the Latin Quarter of Paris last September (Le Foodist, highly recommend it) and in group classes like that, everyone has a multiple jobs. I stirred the custard for the homemade French vanilla bean ice cream every 4 minutes, balled turnips, diced herbs and, among other things, I cut the shallots.

Chef Fred demonstrated the proper technique and I got to work. I took a breath and could smell the sweet soft scent of this onion-like bulb with every pass of my knife. Methodical, sensory, cut, slide, smell, feel. I felt myself tear up and be on the verge of a legit cry. I was in a kitchen in a foreign land, cutting a shallot, preparing a meal with strangers, learning new things and I realized it was the first time in too long that I let myself feel something just for the sake of feeling it. I was inspired and deep in my gut happy, ready to cry in public.

That day in that Parisian kitchen was on to something.

I don’t think I need to actually cry in public (all that frequently at least) but there’s something to zeroing in on all of the things that matter, the goals at hand and releasing everything else that I want to remember about that day.

To carrying with me only what matters.

I love this photo because a gorilla could have been strangling me and I would still have been stirring and smiling and drinking wine- absolutely nothing was going to phase me that day. My intention is that 2016 being more of that kind of joyful, present, grounded, inspired living.

To only what matters.


Pass It Along

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On Christmas Eve, we went to see “The Christmas Schooner” at the Mercury Theater. A tale about a schooner bringing Christmas trees from northern Michigan to Chicago, it was a really fantastic way to spend the afternoon. The cast was wildly talented, the music was wonderful and the theater itself was just darling. 

The last song in the show spoke to when you have blessings in your life, it’s not enough to appreciate them, you must pass them along. Be a blessing, pay it forward. A fir branch was passed between the people singing as a symbol of the blessing. At the conclusion of the number, they gave it to a young girl sitting in the front row of the audience…and she passed it to the person next to her. Who passed it to the person next to her and no one stopped the branch as it went through the entire ground floor of the audience. 

They were passing the blessing.

I was a ball of crying hiccups at this point (“they’re passing the blessing, the world is an okay place!”) and it was such a surprisingly lovely moment. I adore musical theater and its ability to make you feel so, I guess, thanks for the cry, Christmas Schooner. 

My husband and I have been talking a lot about our 2016 and that moment on Christmas Eve keeps coming back to me. Pass it along, pass your blessings along. The dust is still settling on my goals for next year but passing blessings along sounds like a good place to start.

Merry Christmas, friends. I hope your holidays contained at least one good hug, one good cookie and a blessing you can pass along. xo 

With love, Aunt Berta

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I called my best friend to thank her for an incredible Christmas gift (cooking & food goodies from Dean & Deluca!) and laugh about the hilarious card she had put it in. Having been friends for 15 years, we have quite a few inside jokes and countless stories between us and she is a really funny person so I figured the Dear Hannah card was her being irreverent.

Nope. The company put in the wrong card.

There really is a Hannah and Aunt Berta. And I bet Hannah is super confused as to why her card references being in Paris together. Unless Hannah was recently in Paris with Aunt Berta making risotto in which case no harm, no foul. 

I might not stop laughing for the rest of the night. I am so tickled. I got to call my best friend and share a belly laugh across several thousand miles. That’s good stuff.

What a blessing that the laughs only keep growing throughout the years. What a blessing friendship is.

With love, Aunt Berta

Santa Wishes Come True

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Friends stopped over in Friday night for an inpromotu cocktail hour and after sharing a bottle of prosecco around our Christmas tree, the holidays really felt kicked off. My parents were visiting and with our friend’s awesome 2 year old hugging and dancing to carols with a stuffed Santa Claus, the mood was really lovely and festive.

The next morning I went to make coffee and saw that my Spartan Santa had a little extra flair. Our buddy Conor’s trademark move is using the ever present pen in his pocket to leave notes which is a really fun part of having him at our house. I chuckled while I made the coffee and it turns out that the little ceramic boy’s wish came true: Michigan State won the Big 10 Championship! 

My Email is Yelling At Me

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 I woke up this morning to 34 emails. My initial reaction was a bit of panic (omg what happened?!?) but it turns out that these weren’t work emails or notes from friends…it’s Cyber Monday so BUY! SALE! SHOP! NOW!

I felt it on (Black) Friday and now today: my email is yelling at me. 

Even after I deleted everything and did a lot of unsubscribing, I started my day with this nagging feeling that I should be doing something else. What was I forgetting?

Marketing, man- despite being annoyed at all of those emails, my subconscious was still going “You are missing out on once-a-season sales, you should be Christmas shopping! Now!” 

I even started compiling a gift guide to post on this blog of things we love to gift. Because everyone needs one more list with links and a reminder that you should be shopping NOW!

So instead I leave you with a picture of margaritas from a really fun dinner with friends this weekend and the Christmas tree lot that popped up right outside of Big Star. Because just like people over pie, on this Monday I am choosing to reset my subconscious to having visions of friends and tacos and naps and memories of connecting with the things that matter to me from a great Thanksgiving holiday dancing in my head instead of messages from retailers in my inbox. 

If we are being honest, I would rather send everyone tacos and margs for Christmas anyways. Does Big Star ship?

Happy Monday, Friends. I hope you had lovely weekends and Thanksgivings. xo


People Over Pie

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This is a friendly reminder that if you are currently or find yourself tomorrow in the midst of a pie (or any other) failure, don’t worry about it. The people across the table from you just want to see you, not a perfect Sweet Potato Marshmallow Meringue* pie. They want to hear your stories and look you in the eyes as opposed to via the FaceTime or texts or phone calls that suffice during much of the year. So back away from the pie/potatoes/rolls/turkey. If it’s not working, skip it, fix it or buy it. People over pie, okay?

*This was the literal meltdown of my sweet potato marshmallow meringue pie last Saturday. So today I bought a pie. Because the professional pie people do a great job and no one is going to love me more if I pull off a perfect pie.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends!

thanks & giving

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I have had this print in my kitchen all Fall but today it’s an especially good reminder as we go into this holiday week that gratitude and service is what it’s all about. 

My intention for the week is to be rooted in this print’s message. Work, Thanksgiving travel, pie making, whatever it may be, I am going to approach it with thanks & giving, gratitude and service. 

Have a great week, friends.

{Print by Lindsay Letters.}