A Pretty Pair

Electrical Storm

photograph by Ulrika Kestere; collage by Val Britton

{ 7 Horses by Ulrika Kestere (via Booooooom) }

{ Under the Ruptured Sky by Val Britton (via Booooooom) }

Fine Fixin's

Citrus Mahi Mahi with Avocado Salsa

Citrus Mahi Mahi with Avocado Salsa and Asparagus

Here’s a simple fish dish that’s great for summer because of it’s citrus avocado salsa. The original recipe calls for salmon, but we used Mahi Mahi, which turned out swimmingly! The citrus salsa also goes pretty well with grilled vegetables — we had asparagus on hand. Overall, it’s a nice, light dish that comes together quickly and is perfect for a weekday.

Citrus Mahi Mahi with Avocado Salsa and Asparagus

Citrus-glazed Mahi Mahi with Avocado Salsa

Four 6-ounce Mahi Mahi salmon filets
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 large avocado, diced
1/2 cup diced red onion
1 orange, diced
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded, ribs removed, and diced OR 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, minced
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

In a baking dish, combine the olive oil and the orange juice.  Lay Mahi Mahi in it and turn to coat.  In a small bowl, combine the salt, onion powder, paprika, black pepper, allspice, and cayenne pepper.  Sprinkle over each side of Mahi Mahi filets.  Set aside to marinate for 30 minutes.

In a small bowl combine the avocado, red onion, orange, jalapeno, and cilantro.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Cover and chill.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high and lightly coat with olive oil or vegetable cooking spray.  Add the Mahi Mahi and cook for 4-5 minutes; turn and cook on the other side for 2-3 minutes or until fish flakes easily.  Serve with chilled avocado salsa.  Makes 4  servings.

from Eating Well Living Thinner

Citrus Mahi Mahi with Avocado Salsa and Asparagus

Faire Play

The Vintage Bazaar

The Vintage Bazaar in Chicago's Aragon Ballroom

In addition to our Dose Market outing, we recently visited the The Vintage Bazaar with our beloved summer brunch club. This monthly market occupies Chicago’s Aragon Ballroom and spills over into a nearby lot with many vintage and antique vendors, as well as a few food trucks and stands.

a vintage camper at the Vintage Bazaar

We started our adventure in the lot, where we were greeted by a cute, retro camper and a plethora of vintage clothing. I found a beautiful blue floral dress on the cheap (maybe I’ll show you later…), and Caitlin snagged a cool pair of tan woven shoes for a pretty good deal. I think our other partner in crime, LB, made out with a sweet vintage slip for a few bucks. I’d say were were fairly happy with our finds!

a crowd at The Vintage Bazaar

There was a good sized crowd — not too busy, but not dead.

a vintage ethiopian dress at The Vintage Bazaar

This is my favorite thing I didn’t buy — a magnificently embroidered, vintage Ethiopian dress. It was, very sadly, a tad too small and more than a tad out of my price range.

antique elegance: chandelier and ceiling at The Aragon Ballroom

One of my favorite things about the Vintage Bazaar is the setting. The exquisite details of the historic Aragon — the intricately adorned ceilings, the mosaic tiled floors, the chandeliers — were quite distracting in the best possible way.

the "Ladies Lounge" at the Aragon Ballroom

I saw several other attendees stop to take pictures of the space.The entrance to the women’s bathroom (aka the Ladies Lounge) appeared to present the most popular photo-op. I think I’m going to start using the term ‘Ladies Lounge’ to refer to all restrooms. “Pardon me… I need to powder my nose in the ladies lounge.”

a travelling barbershop at The Vintage Bazaar in Chicago's Aragon Ballroom

And fitting with the old-timeyness was a traveling barbershop, complete with a retro “tiled” floor mat. I tried to get Brian to sit down for a shave, but he wasn’t havin’ it. I don’t think he trusts anyone else with his prized beard hairs…

Laura Bock, Sarah West Ervin, and Caitlin O'Meara at The Vintage Bazaar in Chicago

After snapping a few ridiculous photos at the Smilebooth (who is that dude?!), it was time for our summer afternoon naps…

If you’re in the area and want to experience The Vintage Bazaar for yourself, the next one will be Sunday, August 12th!

A Pretty Pair

Ponderous Pieces

photograph by Jen Altman; mixed media work by Svenja Deininger

{ Untitled by Jen Altman (via The Jealous Curator) }

{ Untitled by Svenja Deininger }

Piggy Bank

You’ve got mail…not.

How to Stop Credit Card Offers in the Mail (Image: "Credit Card" by David Whittle)

Credit Card by David Whittle

I recently started a new job, which gave me the opportunity to rollover my previous retirement plan. This, along with Anna Newell Jones’s money-smart blog And Then She Saved, led Sarah and me to think a bit more about our finances in general.

While we are fairly frugal most of the time, it’s probably always a good idea to know what you’re spending money on and what goals you should be saving for. The whole goal thing is something we haven’t really been doing much of since we accomplished Dollymoon 2012. But lately, we’ve been taking a look at our finances, feeling like grownups, and learning a few things. We’re just getting started, but we thought that some of you might be in a similar situation and would like to learn a few things, too. So, We’re going to start blogging every onceinawhile about monies.

So here’s the innaugrual piece of knowledge, which is really basic but something we just didn’t know was possible. Much like the do-not-call registry, you can sign up to stop receiving credit card offers. Now even if you aren’t tempted to sign up for credit cards you get in the mail, this way you won’t have to deal with it at all. Just head over to optoutprescreen.com to sign up. For a little more info about this and similar features, check out the FTC‘s site.

Ok, that one’s pretty easy. We’re hoping to have some more in-depth posts in the future, but this one was so exciting we needed to let you know about it at once!

A Sunday Ritual


Julia Child's Ratatouille (from Debbie Carlos)

For me, Ratatouille is one of those dishes that totally captures the taste, feelings, and memories of summer. Um, besides ice cream, of course. It utilizes the best of the best of in-season summer vegetables, the number of components are not many, and while the ingredients by themselves are humble, the end result is quite spectacular. This time, I tried out a recipe from Julia Child’s classic tome on French cooking, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Feel free to substitute with whatever herb/s you have. Her original recipe calls for parsley, but I only had basil. I’ve also seen this dish cooked with thyme and rosemary, so go with your heart! Serve this with a cool glass of white and a slice of grilled bread brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt.


Adapted from Julia Child’s recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking

1lb eggplant
1lb zucchini
1 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons olive oil
½ lb thinly sliced onion
2 thinly sliced bell peppers (red, green or yellow)
2 cloves garlic, mashed
salt and pepper to taste

1 lb firm, ripe tomatoes, chopped
3 tablespoons minced basil (or parsely or thyme & rosemary)

sliced zucchini and eggplant for Julia Child's Ratatouille (from Debbie Carlos)

1. Cut the eggplant in half and slice further into 1 inch wide pieces. Cut zucchini into similarly sized pieces. *Note that original recipe calls for peeling the eggplant. I don’t usually do this, especially if you’ve got nice, organic ones. A lot of the nutrients and the fiber of vegetables are in the skin.

2. Place eggplant and zucchini in a large bowl and toss with salt. Let sit 30 minutes, drain, and dry each slice on a clean towel.

3. Heat 12” skillet with olive oil and saute eggplant and zucchini one layer at a time on each side until browned, about 1 minute per side. Remove and set aside

4. Saute onions and peppers in olive oil in the same skillet until softened. Mix in the garlic and season to taste. Lay the tomatoes over the onions and peppers, season with salt and pepper, and cover. Cook for about 5 minutes over low heat, until the tomatoes have rendered their juices. Baste with the tomato juice. Cook further, uncovered, until most of the juice has evaporated.

5. In a heat proof casserole, lay 1/3 of the tomato mixture on the bottom, sprinkle with basil, and layer over with eggplant mixture. Repeat layers, ending with tomatoes and basil. Cover and cook over low heat for 10 minutes.

6. Uncover, tip the casserole, and baste with juices. Raise the heat and cook uncovered for another 15 minutes, basting every so often. Careful not to scorch the bottom.

You can make this ahead and heat just before serving or you can also serve it cold.

Editor’s Note: this post is part of the series “A Sunday Ritual” by guest blogger Debbie Carlos.

Faire Play

Dose Market

Sarah West Ervin, Brian West, and Laura Bock at Chicago's Dose Market

If Chicago feels like a dark, dead wasteland of misery in the winter (I exaggerate a bit), then I’m happy to say it really comes alive in the summer. There are more festivals and markets than you can shake a stick at. Brian and I have finally been taking advantage of these exciting outings, with some help from a few friends. Last month, our buddy LB (pictured above right) was able to drag us out of our apartment to visit the Dose Market, which happened to be celebrating it’s first birthday. If you’re not awares (as we, ourselves, were not), Dose is a monthly, indoor market, with an impressively curated list of food and fashion vendors (aka Dosers).

coffee at Dose Market

After arriving, we decided to fuel up with some horchata from Crop to Cup. I think my love for horchata is rivaled only by my love for chocolate milk.

upcycled speakers at Dose Market

We then started winding our way through the crowd, the tables, and the impressive displays. We were quite impressed with Gentleman’s Boombox, which wins the award for most creatively repurposed object.

yummy treats and sweet kicks at Dose Market

LB and I drooled over some treats from Bake and Brian drooled over some finely handcrafted leather shoes from Oak Street Bootmakers.

handmade leather goods at Dose Market

There was some more fine leather work…

camping supplies at Dose Market

And some vintage camping gear from Camp Wandawega.

Laura Lombardi's handmade jewelry at Dose Market

Then I noticed one of my favorite local jewelry makers, Laura Lombardi. It’s always such a treat to see her work around town.

handmade jewelry at Dose Market

peanut butter! at Dose Market

We then made our second purchase: some chocolate peanut butter from Yumbutter. Yum is right!

handmade scarves and other accessories at Dose Market

fresh berries at Dose Market

handmade clothing at Dose Market

After we enjoyed our complimentary drinks (beer from Goose Island and cocktail creations combining whisky from  Spicebox Whisky and snow cone syrups from Jo Snow), I grabbed a bottle of  smoky heirloom tomato catsup from The Scrumptious Pantry (lord knows I love my condiments!).

Laura Bock & Sarah West Ervin at Dose Market

We also took full advantage of the Smilebooth before we headed out.

being silly at Dose Market

We even got Brian to join the fun. And you know how much he hates fun….

goodbye, Dose Market! we had a blast ;)

All in all, it was a wondrous adventure!

Get Juiced

Apples & Neeps

The Big Book of Juices

One thing that has helped us get started with juicing is having a couple of books that explain how to prepare fruits & vegetables and what to expect nutritionally, as well as offer some good recipes. The Big Book of Juices, which we bought because it was big…and has both straight juice recipes and a smoothie section, is one such book.

apple & parsnip juice recipe from The Big Book of Juices

One of the first recipes we tried was a fruit/vegetable hybrid with apples and parsnips.

fresh apples, parsnips, and mint

Sarah and I don’t normally eat parsnips often, but we really liked this juice. It’ll definitely be a good way to use up some extra parsnips from our CSA box.

washed and cut apples & parsnips

Apples and Neeps

3 parsnips

3 apples

1/2 lime

3 sprigs of fresh mint

Step 1: Wash the apples and parsnips.

Step 2: Cut them into pieces that fit into your juicer. (Don’t worry about coring your apple. That can go straight into your juicer, too!)

Step 3: Um…juice it!

fresh juice: apples & parsnips with mint

The resulting juice is light, refreshing, and quite good for you. Needless to say, we were very pleased with our juicer investment.

fresh juice: the result