Mexico

In late February we spent a week in Mexico: three nights in Mexico City and four nights on the beach in Tulum. It was a wonderful, wonderful trip and a welcome reprieve from our winter in Chicago. We stayed at the Red Tree House in Mexico City, a cute bed and breakfast that came highly recommended by friends and seemingly everyone else on the internet. We ate at delicious restaurants, explore Frida Kahlo’s house, and learned about the Aztecs at the anthropology museum. In Tulum, we swam, walked on the beach, and drank lots of fresh juice and amazing cocktails. Here are a few photos from our time there.

Casa Azul Redtreehouse Tune tostadasThe most incredible tuna tostadas from Contramar

Zamas Beachfront EK Ruins Gitano Paddleboarding PM Yoga

Keith’s Birthday

Tacos

On Saturday we celebrated Keith’s birthday. He requested almond cake and dinner at Schwa, and fortunately I was able to get a reservation. We ate tacos at Big Star for lunch, Keith had some of his favorite bourbon, and then we relaxed at home before our dinner. It was a great day spent celebrating my favorite person.

We woke up Sunday to lots of snow (which eventually turned into the fifth largest snowfall in Chicago), so Keith moved his iMac into the bedroom and we drank coffee and watched movies. My favorite was the 180 degrees south documentary. It’s set in Patagonia and now I want to go there more than ever. There was a scene where two guys were kneeling on surf boards, paddling in a little lake using their hands, and there were schools of seals and dolphins swimming around them. Incredible. Keith has wanted to do a hiking trip… maybe for his birthday next year?

Bigstar KPSchwa

Chocolate Cake with Rosemary Buttercream

Cake IngredientsOn Sunday I hosted my monthly book club, which happened to fall on my friend’s birthday. A perfect excuse for a cake. We received a set of round springform pans as a wedding gift, which I love but hardly ever use. It’s hard to justify making a layer cake when I know I’m just going to eat it all. However, I recently discovered this blog and her cakes have inspired me once again.

This cake was delicious. The rosemary added a savory element that balanced out some of the sweetness. Keith loved it, and he’s not a sweets guy or a cake lover. I loved it, and I am usually a bigger fan of the white cake / chocolate frosting combination. We have a couple pieces left for dessert tonight and I’m going to be sad when it’s gone.

Cake
I followed the Magnolia Bakery Super-Rich Chocolate Cake recipe exactly. The recipe made two 9-inch round cakes, so I made another half batch for the third layer. I made the layers a few days in advance and froze them for easy assembly.

Rosemary Buttercream

  • Four sticks butter
  • Three cups powdered sugar
  • Rosemary
  • Vanilla
  • Milk

One day prior to frosting, melt two sticks of butter in a pan with a few springs of rosemary (roughly chopped). Let the butter sit out overnight and melt it down again the next morning before straining out the rosemary. Put the butter in the fridge to harden a bit (not too much), and then mix the rosemary infused butter with two sticks softened butter, powdered sugar, a splash of vanilla and a little bit of milk. I could have used a little more, so make one and a half times if you really like frosting.

Assembly was a breeze with the frozen cakes. The frosting was thick enough to hold up under the layers but very spreadable. If you want to frost “naked-style,” I will advise spreading the frosting up to and over the edge of each layer. I had to pipe frosting in between the layers before I could smooth it all out. Happy baking!

Condo Update

Minibar2Keith and I have lived in our condo for nearly four years now. In the time we’ve been here, we’ve done some minor improvements, but mostly we’ve focused on acquiring furniture and other décor that we can take with us to our next home. Painting was always on our to-do list. We never liked the original tan/dark beige color, but our apartment has an open floor plan and tackling just one “room” wasn’t an option. It took five days of work but our now white apartment seems so much brighter.

Our new walls have been looking a little bare, but we’re working on that too. Keith purchased a fun print for above our bar. You can’t see the detail from the photo above, so here’s a close up of some of the little people. I love it.

People printCPCCPC2A few weeks ago I read about the small print show at the Chicago printmakers collaborative. We went Saturday afternoon. Most prints were under $150, and the artists using the studio space were quick to offer assistance while we browsed. We picked up a print by Sarah Smelser, perfect for a gallery wall when we get around to adding to it.

And as a parting shot – our new bed! My favorite spot in the apartment.

Headboard

January

Chicago snowJanuary in Chicago. Other than last week, we have actually enjoyed a very mild winter so far, but the temperatures are dropping and we are spending lots of time indoors. Here are a few things that are keeping us occupied.

  • Household projects – Keith and I stayed in New Year’s Eve and spent the following weekend painting our condo. We’re adding some art/photos to our walls, and we snagged a new bed frame during Room and Board’s annual sale. There’s lots of slipper wearing and candle burning over here and it’s feeling cozy.
  • Movies – I’m not usually a movie person, but there are so many good films this time of year. Plus, movie theaters have gotten really nice – reserved seating with big overstuffed chairs that recline. We’ve seen Selma, Boyhood (so good!), the Theory of Everything, and St. Vincent. The Imitation Game and Still Alice are high on my list.
  • Yoga – Our gym recently started offering hot yoga and I’m thrilled. Walking over in the cold is a bit easier when there’s a warm studio waiting. I’ve already tried a few classes and plan to sample a few more this week.
  • Restaurants – I made a bunch of reservations since our schedule was wide open in January. We tried Momotaro Friday (great sushi), we’re eating at Parachute Saturday, and I got a reservation at Schwa the evening of Keith’s birthday. I just hope they don’t cancel!

Baker MillerAnd Baker Miller. Yes, we went back.