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  • Shak & Jill

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  • Sprucing up the living room? A fireplace adds approximately 12% value to a home.
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    February 20, 2015
    On the Grid

    As a person with a massive collection of grid notebooks in her office cube, I really dig these SAIC origin cuatro platters from CB2′s Design Collab. They were created by School of the Art Institute of Chicago student Allison Rokusek, who based her design on – you got it –  grids. $3.50-$21.95.

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    February 18, 2015
    Animal Instincts

    I was browsing the new arrivals section of the Anthropologie web site and ran across two fantastic animal-shaped home decor items – one whimsical and one more realistic. Above, the adorably goofy Domesticated Trinket Dishes, $22 each. Below, the strange and elegant Archipelago Serveware, $168 for the set.

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    February 17, 2015
    Good Morning To You, Too

    This mug is perfect for those mornings when you just can’t even. A.K.A. from 7 AM – 10 AM every morning. $14 at Fish Eddy.

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    January 30, 2015
    Can’t Wait to get Cooking

    German food gets a bad wrap. I think that, aside from British/Irish/Scottish cuisine, it is probably the most reviled. That’s why I was so happy to see this updated take on German food from Jeremy & Jessica Nolan. I got this in the mail earlier this week and can’t wait to try a few recipes this weekend. I’m especially impressed with the selection of vegetable recipes that definitely defy the old “potatoes and kraut” stereotype.

    New German Cooking, $25.80 at Amazon.

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    December 19, 2014
    Get into the Holiday Spirits

    The holiday season is the perfect time to break out the cocktail shaker. Here are a few holiday-inspired cocktail recipes to try out this season. Above, the Mint Merrymaker.

    Continuing with the mint theme, a Peppermint White Russian.

    When I was growing up, my parents had a friend who made his own Irish Cream. It was amazing. Here’s the how-to if you’re feeling DIY-inclined.

    On the fruitier side of holiday flavors, an Orange-Cranberry Gin and Tonic.


    For a twist on the New Year’s Eve toast, try this Sparkling Pear Sangria.

    Cheers to the holidays!


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    December 18, 2014
    Get Outta Here

    ‘Tis the season to indulge, and in that spirit I am adding this Fontina, Apricot & Dark Chocolate Grilled Cheese to my “must make” list. This sounds just crazy enough to be delicious.

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    December 16, 2014
    On the Naughty List

    A fun and delicious prank for all the bad kids on your list. Get the Popcorn Candy Coal recipe at 1 Fine Cookie.

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    November 21, 2014
    Best Thanksgiving Time-Savers

    We know we shouldn’t over-commit on our Thanksgiving menus, but we do it anyways. I find the best strategy for getting things done is to make anything I can ahead of time. Here are a few of my favorite make-ahead recipes and one cheat to help you through the holiday.

    1) Make and Freeze Pie Crusts The Weekend Before - If you just can’t do without homemade pie crust (I know I can’t), you can simply make them ahead of time and pop them in the freezer for the convenience of the store-bought stuff. Get Martha Stewart’s make-ahead pie crust recipe here.

    2) Make Mac & Cheese The Night Before and Keep it in the Fridge – I think mac & cheese is actually better when it sits over night before the final baking. It gives the flavors time to meld. I usually go with this recipe from Martha Stewart and add the crumb topping just before baking.

    3) Make Soups Ahead a Few Days Ahead – I find that soups, like mac & cheese, taste better after a night or two in the fridge.

    4) Replace Turkey with an Alternative Main – I have a deep dark secret: I’ve never cooked a turkey. A few years ago, my family discovered that none of us really likes turkey that much. Instead, we’ve begun replacing the traditional bird with other meats. I like to go for something that I can’t do at home – like a brisket from a local BBQ joint, or a smoked ham. But other time-saving options would be a roast chicken or duck – both of which take much less time to cook. Or, if you can’t do without turkey, go buy one. In my home town, most of the BBQ restaurants sell smoked turkeys – which, for turkey, are pretty amazing.

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    November 17, 2014
    Mushroom for More

    Super cute Amanita Second Helping Storage Jar, $28 at Mod Cloth.

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    November 12, 2014
    Double the Pick-Me-Up

    Sometimes a bad morning calls for more pick-me-up than plain old caffeine has to offer. These inspirational mugs would definitely fit the bill. Crown Leaf Mugs, $12 each at Anthropologie.

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