Some food-related (mostly) things we enjoyed, and are thankful for, this past week:
Our stash of empty moving boxes in storage has finally grown to outnumber the amount of full boxes in our new condo. We still have a lot of organizing and decorating to do, but we’re starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel (and through the windows, which are no longer covered up by a wall of boxes.)
We had our first (little) snowfall last week. It wasn’t much, but enough to accumulate and stick so it counts! Pretty sure the novelty will wear off by January or so, but snow is still exciting for us Texas transplants.
We hung our first piece of art in the condo. This wall in our foyer is one of the few “done” parts of our new home, and it’s nice to have a little clarity amidst the chaos and clutter in the rest of the place.
We hope you and yours had as wonderful a Thanksgiving as we did, filled with delicious food, love and fellowship with family and friends and countless blessings. Life is good and we are grateful!
Some food-related (mostly) things we enjoyed this past week (short & sweet moving edition):
All our stuff arrived safely at our new condo. Although the movers unpacked a lot of the boxes, they (understandably) didn’t put anything away. We tackled the kitchen first, which required laying everything out on the counters and floor, then trying to figure out where/how to put it all away. Keep in mind that we went from a huge kitchen with tons of storage and a walk-in pantry to a regular sized kitchen with no pantry. And that Dan is very fond of acquiring kitchen gadgets…
About 10 hours and 4 boxes of stuff to donate to Goodwill later, we have a beautiful and efficiently stocked new kitchen. And I may or may not have burst into tears when I found yet another big box of kitchen stuff that had been mislabeled by the movers and will need to be unpacked and stored somewhere.
We were excited to try the new wine by one of our favorite musicians, Mat Kearney, in collaboration with a Napa Valley winery (coincidentally, Napa is also one of our favorite places in the whole world.) The red blend was really good and we love Mat’s message that “It’s full of life, love and a little music. Turn it up and enjoy.”
Back at the Dallas house, the foundation work we are having done is well underway. It’s very strange to see the gameroom where we logged countless hours of TV time, wii games with our niece and nephew and friends’ kids and hanging out with family and friends torn up like a construction site. But we will be so glad when the work is done, and the room can be an entertaining (and solid) place for some other family to enjoy while making their own memories.
Some food-related (mostly) things we enjoyed this past week:
Anyone who has ever had a cat and an empty box in the same vicinity knows that this is the cat’s preferred method of “helping” to fill said box. They do it with suitcases too. My little assistant and I managed to get the bulk of the de-cluttering done, just in time for the movers to arrive and begin packing. Not to worry, I kept her and her sister in a closed room and out of the movers’ way, lest they “assist” themselves unnoticed into a moving box and onto the truck to be driven to Chicago over the weekend. Although I suppose that would have been one way to get them there, without the hassle and expense (and sheer terror) of flying with them. Kidding! (mostly)
We’ve been splitting time between Dallas and Evanston lately, exploring our new condo neighborhood while preparing to leave our Dallas home. It’s been a strange, stressful — yet exciting — time to say the least. Last weekend we discovered a great little sandwich shop just one block from our condo. We went for breakfast, and plan to go back for many, many more. Lunches too. The atmosphere is cozy and eclectic, and the breakfast sandwiches were amazing. We both had one of the specials — pepperoni, scrambled egg, white cheddar and tomato served on a “bialy.” If you’re not familiar with them, a bialy is sort of like a flat bagel. Great bagel taste and texture, without as many empty carbs. For a small sandwich spot, Delbe’s offers a very impressive variety, and the location could not be better. Well played, Evanston.
Pretty much every time he moves to a new home, Dan decides it’s a good time to get a new grill (thank goodness we haven’t moved very often.) For this move, a new grill was a necessity, since our old grill would have taken up the entire available space on our tiny balcony off the kitchen and living room. So, in a fashion typical of us, we down-sized yet upgraded at the same time, reasoning that our new, smaller, but top-of-the-line grill would last a long long time, through this move and any others to come (IT BETTER.) If the first, perfectly cooked filets are any indication, we chose wisely.
Back in Dallas to supervise the movers while Dan slaved away at work in Chicago, our dear friends treated me to a home-cooked meal this week. Dinner was delicious (P, write up your meatloaf recipe for me so we can post it!), but one of the very best parts of the evening was the post-dinner “Spelling Bean” with the kids. Since it was a school night, the kids needed to practice their spelling words for the week. Their mom came up with the genius idea of making this homework more palatable (quite literally) by offering the reward of a jelly belly for each word spelled correctly. Hence the name, Spelling “Bean.” Brilliant! Both kids are excellent spellers and it was a super fun way to end the meal.
So. Nothing quite makes the reality of a move more “real” than seeing the truck loaded with all your belongings drive away. The good thing is that we’ve spent enough time in Evanston to know that it is a great fit for us and we can see ourselves making a very happy home there. The bad thing is, that home won’t be nearly close enough to our Dallas friends. I haven’t quite wrapped my head (or heart) around not being able to meet up for lunches or dinners often and easily anymore, and I can’t begin to think about the “lasts” (last girls lunch, spa day or couples get-together in Dallas) without getting teary. But these lifelong friends are just that — friends for life. A little distance won’t alter that fundamental part of our friendships. And we happen to know that Chicago is a great city to visit, just a quick flight away. Also, this Texas girl won’t be able to go more than 6 months at a time without authentic Tex-Mex, so we’ll come back often! All will be well. (So why am I still crying?)
We always appreciate the one-dish-wonder type of dinner — a meal that incorporates all the basics (protein, vegetable and starch or carb) into a single recipe. Such meals are especially useful during particularly stressful and/or busy times, such as when one is settling in at a brand new job in a new city and state, preparing to move to said new location, and selling a house and many of its contents in the old job’s location. Or maybe that’s just us. Wait, that actually IS us, right now. Hectic as things may be, all is going well and we are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Amidst the chaos, it’s usually a lot easier to run out for a quick dinner at a restaurant or, even easier, order dinner delivered rather than cook. But taking the time and making the effort to prepare a home-cooked meal is something we’re trying to make a conscious choice to do more often during these transitional times, as one kitchen gets packed up and the other is currently very sparsely outfitted. For us, cooking and enjoying a meal together is what helps make a house feel like home, no matter the zip code (or fact that we may have to eat dinner sitting in patio chairs with paper plates on our laps.) This recipe is a good reminder to slow down, spend some quality time in the kitchen, and enjoy the smells of roasting tomatoes and sauteeing mushrooms, onions and garlic. Layering in some chicken, feta and parmesan cheeses and pasta adds comfort-food heartiness to the dish. Finish with a little wilted spinach for color and nutritional value, and you’ve got a delicious and healthy meal that not only represents the major food groups in one pot, but also defines the “home” in “homemade.”
Some food-related (mostly) things we enjoyed this past week:
We closed on our condo in Evanston! We are still working on selling our house in Dallas, so the official move will have to wait a bit, but we loaded up one of our cars with as much stuff as we could fit and drove up there last weekend. We’re all set for condo “camping” at its finest, complete with an aerobed, 2 patio chairs, 2 overturned empty boxes as end tables / nightstands, and a TV sitting on an empty storage bin. We’ll be back and forth between Dallas and Evanston as we prepare to move, so roughing it at the condo won’t be too bad, and it will all be worth it in the long run.
After working up an appetite signing our lives away at the condo closing, we celebrated with lunch at our favorite Evanston burger joint, Edzo’s. Although they have the best burgers around, I decided to mix it up a bit and try their Classic Chicago Dog, which was delicious. Even more delicious — their “Five Onion Fries,” topped with caramelized onion cream, fried leeks and scallions.
The view from the master bedroom of our condo currently includes some golden yellow fall foliage. (We know, we know — enjoy while it lasts because soon all we will see are sad, barren tree limbs, often covered with snow and ice, during the loooong winter months…)
Our new go-to sushi place in Evanston is Coast Sushi. It’s one of the few favorite restaurants that is not quite walkable from our condo (especially during the winter!) but it’s worth the short drive, and they deliver (sushi delivery is unheard of in Dallas, so that will be a nice perk of Evanston city-living.) We especially enjoyed the “Dressed Sashimi,” which included 2 pieces of several types of fish (tuna, hamachi, salmon, super white tuna, crab and eel, “dressed” with various sauces and garnishes). It was a great way to try different bites of sushi prepared in ways to best accentuate the flavors and textures of each type of seafood.