It’s Summer!

Summer officially started last Saturday, but Chicago has been rainy and chilly all week.  Fortunately, when we had some warm weather last week, we took advantage of it last weekend with our first trip to the beach this year.


Here’s to the many summer days ahead!


No, not a cheese popsicle, but a creamsicle cheesecake.Image

I decided to make these little treats for when my dad came over for Father’s Day. I know he’s a big fan of creamsicle ice cream, but I wanted something a little fancier than just serving a big bowl of ice cream for dessert.

I found this recipe for a full creamsicle cheesecake and halved it. I’ve found that you can mostly half any regular cheesecake recipe to make minis.

I only cooked them for about 24 minutes instead of the full 40, and I did let them cool slowly in the oven, as the recipe suggests. I also put a squirt of whip cream on the top and finished it off with a free printable Father’s Day Tie cupcake topper.

Try it. You’ll like it.

And Year 4

A week after we celebrated our 4th anniversary I bring you a collection of gift ideas to celebrate yours.

Now, this is a weird year is you’re sticking with the traditional gifts. It’s the year of fruits and flowers, traditionally, and appliances if you’re going the modern route. Hmmm…fruits and flowers. What do you do with that? Here are some of the  ideas I floated around my brain when trying to figure out what to get Dan.


1. To me, nothing tastes better with breakfast than fresh squeezed OJ. This juicer from West Elm will help you make it. I really like the classic white ceramic with labeling style.

2. How about this cute flower-shaped cork screw from Crate and Barrel? It’s like killing two birds with one stone if you give the gift of the corkscrew (flower) with a bottle of your spouse’s favorite wine (fruit). Win-win.

3. This might be stretching the whole flower concept, but I thought this camera strap with a floral print (from etsy) would make a great gift. We got ourselves a nice camera, but the strap is so boring. The strap packs a colorful punch and won’t break the bank.

4. OK, this one is more a gift for me than Dan. I’ve gotten into sending snail mail more these days, so I would love this personalized letterpress wildflower stationery set (again, from etsy). The letterpress makes it fancy.

5. We’re just finishing up a kitchen renovation and are now in the “pretty-ing” stage where we’re looking for colorful art accents for the space. The minute I saw this blueberry fruit art print (yes, from etsy), I was sold.

6. Perhaps this came to me because we have a new home with a backyard, but I thought the gift of a fruit tree (this one happens to be lemon) would be a great idea. See it grow through the year…just like your love. Awww, how sappy. Just go to a nursery and see what they have. If you’re in an apartment or other smaller space with no room for a big tree, they have dwarf fruit trees that can live inside on an end table or in a window.

So what did we actually give each other?

Dan got me hot pink petunias and potted them in a vintage watering can and a yellow tin basin turned pot. I had been wanting to get some colorful flowers/pots for the front of the house now that we did a mini-facelift of the front of the house. Sorry that I don’t have a photo. It’s 63 and rainy as I’m typing this and I don’t see myself getting outside to take photos.

I gave Dan a homemade limoncello kit – vodka, 10 lemons, sugar, and a resealable bottle. We’re making the limoncello this weekend and I’ll be sure to let you know how it turns out. To go with it, I found a limoncello art print that was designed by the artist who created the blueberry art print that I liked so much!


I originally saw the print on pinterest, which led me to etsy, but was bummed to see it was no longer available. When I mentioned this to a friend of mine, she told me she has the limoncello print, and she found it at Ikea in a pack of 3 prints by the same artist for only $9. The print says “Summer without limoncello isn’t summer.” So true!



Year 3

Tomorrow brings the start of our 4th year of marriage. Wow. Even after I just typed that, I can’t quite believe that’s true. How was our wedding 4 years ago? How have we been together for over 10 years?

Looking through old blog posts, I realized that about this time last year is when I began to taper off in my posts. I blame the house. Definitely the house.

Because of that, I never shared all the ideas I came up with for third anniversary gifts. We try to stick to the traditional gifts, but we always have it have some kind of personal touch. For instance, for our first year anniversary, the paper anniversary, Dan made me the wall art that hangs in our bedroom, made by poking pinholes in cardstock. Image

For the second anniversary, the traditional gift is cotton. I posted a bunch of gift ideas when I was trying to figure out what to get Dan. I ended up buying pillowcases and sewing a message on them, which we say to each other all the time.Image

The third anniversary traditional gift is made with leather. Leather. Not as easy to come up with a personalized gift you can make from leather. Even so, I thought these gifts all had some potential:Image

1. A nice comfy, worn in looking leather chair. This does top the list for expense, but a piece of furniture is something you could pick out together.

2. Electronics docking station travel case. You know, to keep all your gadgets and gizmos.

3. A leather journal. For work, Dan needs to write down ideas as they come to him. He’s almost always carrying a pen and notebook.

4. A nice messenger bag, or briefcase. Also to keep all your gadgets and gizmos.

5. A football. Add on a jersey of his favorite player.

6. Leather and metal bracelets. OK, this one is for the wives, but I can’t get over how cute these are.

I ended up getting Dan a leather bag, which he uses for work everyday. I’ll admit, he had to help pick it out, so he didn’t have it on our actual anniversary. For my gift, Dan thought outside the box and bought me a felt wine tote with a leather strap, which I happily bring with when we visit wineries, one of my favorite things. He added to the gift by buying me what we call here a “Ravinia table,” which is basically a short table you can take to outdoor concerts, movies, or picnics.

Check back next week when I will share all the gift ideas I came up with for this year.

Ballerina Cupcakes

Over the weekend, our two nieces performed in their dance recital. To celebrate, I made these tasty cupcakes in their favorite flavor – vanilla.


Sometimes, the baking stars align and you have everything you need for a last minute themed treat. I had those little cupcake toppers forever – a clearance find at Homegoods. Image

Yep. They’re actually fairies. I just cut off the wings and you get ballerinas.

The sprinkles were a another clearance find after a holiday – I was glad to see the colors all matched.

For the cakes themselves, I tried out a new vanilla cupcake recipe, and it was delicious. I think it might be my new go-to for vanilla. Spongy, sweet, and scrumptious.