Introducing Mary

Hi Mom(s)! I’m so excited to start working with Lesley on our new format.This actually reminds me of when they would introduce a new American Girl (before they got all commercial; mother is not okay with commercial): Mary is an American Girl who lives in Chicago in a _____ (adjective: spunky? refined? rustic?) apartment by herself (so if I were an actual American girl that would be weird/illegal. I’m a grown up though so we’re good). She loves playing tricks on her little sister, roller skating and helping the housekeeper (bonus! Which American Girl did I have??). [Note: I don’t actually have a housekeeper.]

I make this kind of expression a lot.

So, I really do live in a one bedroom apartment in Chicago. I teach high school math. I do my best to be green, including biking to work when possible, recycling and running the Green Team at my school. I wouldn’t say I’m artistic, but I like to put things together so they look good. I make all my own cards, and I like to think I’m pretty good at choosing the right paper and look and combination and then putting it together, but I can’t really draw or anything like that. I’m working on learning to do different types of lettering though!

My mom saves EVERYTHING (because you never know when it might come in handy) so whenever I get a specific idea in my head, she’s the first person I ask. And my dad is one of the handiest people I know, so he’s my go to for home repairs and the like, especially replacing light fixtures.

When I’m not decorating my Chicago condo or making some cards, I’m probably baking something (I’m trying to cook more, but I’m a baker at heart) or playing a game with friends. Lesley and I are a great team and I hope you enjoy our (mis)adventures!


Exciting news!

I know this blog has been a bit neglected this year, but there are some exciting changes coming that will hopefully turn things around. The format will be changing, and there will be some visual and layout changes coming too.

So, if you’re still reading, please stay tuned. I think you’ll enjoy what’s coming up.

That old saying about absence is true, right?

Sadly, I’ve been one of those neglectful bloggers lately. As a reader, those bloggers make me crazy. They string me along, make me eager for their content, and then they just disappear. Not that I think I have readers eager for my content. Well, maybe one (Hi, Susan!). Of course, now I completely understand. Real life gets in the way. People move, they have babies, they launch new business ventures, they are busy with actual paying work. They have family and friends that want to spend time with them. They’re immersing themselves in their novels.

I have goals I want to meet too, but I don’t want to be that type of blogger, so here’s my self-issued challenge. I will post, either here or on, at least two posts a week in the month of February. And, aside from this one, there will be no cross-overs. So, if your reading this, I hope you’ll come along and see where this month takes me.

Just because I haven’t been blogging doesn’t mean I haven’t been hard at work. I’ve been working on a new book proposal, and I’m excited to give a presentation at the Bead Society of Greater Chicago next week. I’ll be showing a little of what I’ve been working on over the next month.

Website of the Week: Smitten Kitchen

Starting this week I’m including a new feature sharing best content I’m finding, starting with some of my daily must-reads.

This week’s site is one that you’ve probably already heard of if you like to cook: Smitten Kitchen. Deb Perelman’s cooking blog takes you right into her tiny New York City kitchen through stunningly good food photography, great descriptions, clear instructions, and a lot of personality and advice.

Three things I love about this site:

1. The mixture of original recipes and recipes from other sources. Deb’s working on a cookbook of her own creations (that I can’t wait to buy!) and she’s proven she’s a master at tweaking a recipe until it’s just right. But she also shares great recipes from other sources, such as magazines and cookbooks. This sharing has turned me on to a number of other great cooks and cookbooks, including Sky High (which I fell in love with after making the Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake) and Ottolenghi (whom I was introduced due via the Cauliflower and Parmesan Cake).

2. The way Deb describes food. To me, great food writing is not just instructions or descriptions of how something looks or tastes. It’s about the way strawberries mean summer or a certain babka reminds you of home. Cooking, for many of us, is a way to show the people we care about that we want to do something for them: make them the perfect birthday cake, remind them of a great vacation, warm them up on a cold winter night…those feelings are evident in Deb’s writing.

3. The instructions. I used to write instructions for a living, and I know it can be hard. These are good, clear instructions. The best part is that Deb often includes not only what to do, but why you do it and what happens if you don’t (for example, I made the Chocolate Peanut Butter cake last night, and the recipe advised me to freeze the cakes before frosting them to keep them from falling apart). She offers shortcuts and substitutions, which is really helpful when something specific is called for in the recipe and you don’t have that exact spice or type of pan on hand.

If you are looking for a great collection of tested recipes with beautiful photos, clear instructions, and an easy-to-search index, this site is it.