Monday, September 13, 2010

You Lookin' For Me?

Just in case you missed my first "Hey, I'm moving!" announcement, you can now find me here:

If you subscribe via email or in a reader, like Google Reader, you may have noticed that a bunch of old posts re-appeared over the weekend. I'm not entirely sure why that happened, but I think it has something to do with the "construction" I've been doing at the new Crave and Create.

 If you're an email subscriber, you should still be receiving updates. If you use a reader, you may need to update your subscription with my new address. You can now sign up for email updates or update your reader from the home page of the new Crave and Create.

Thank you for hanging with me as I continue to work on improving the new site!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

I'm Moving!

I'm moving Crave and Create to WordPress...
I hope you're coming with me!

My new address is:

Most of the move is already complete, so if you click over, you should see the new site. My posts are already up and running. There's still quite a bit of construction going on everywhere else, so please pardon the mess! I'm sure that Crave and Create will see quite a few design changes in the coming days as I get friendly with WordPress and all that it has to offer.

If you're using a reader (like Google reader) or if you're an email subscriber, I'm not sure how the move will affect you quite yet. I'm working on figuring it all out!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Chicago Part I: Windy City Tour

Last weekend was Labor Day, which means one thing: three-day weekend! To celebrate, my friend Carrie and I road-tripped to Chicago to visit Karen, another friend from graduate school.

Karen took us on a mini-tour of Chicago, showing us all of her favorite spots and sights. She really outdid herself!

Saturday morning started with brunch at Crepe Town, which was right around the corner from Karen’s Wrigleyville apartment. Crepe Town was so cute! When I hear the word crepe, I automatically think French, but Crepe Town seemed to have an Asian-fusion theme.

The decor was modern, clean, bright, and fun. The Austin Powers theme song played in the background while we ate.

Crepe Town had a variety of sweet and savory crepes, and you could even build your own. We all chose sweet crepes. I tried to build my own crepe with Nutella, banana, and blueberries, but instead, the waitress brought me the Red Bull, which had Nutella, strawberries, and blueberries. It was still delicious!



Next, we did a little learning and exploring, thanks to a Shoreline Sightseeing Architecture River Cruise

Normally, I love to explore different places on foot, but Karen (and several other people) suggested taking an architecture cruise. Our cruise left from the Navy Pier and sailed up and down the Chicago river, which forms a sort of sideways Y. See?

Map picture

Chicago is famous for its architecture, and is hailed as the birthplace of modern American architecture.

Cruising along the river was so relaxing, while our tour guide was engaging and informative. I definitely learned a few things!

The cruise allowed us to take in the views from a different perspective. You could definitely see more from the boat than from the sidewalk! This is an example of new school (left) and old school (right) modern design.

Interesting fact: Bertrand Goldberg, the architect who designed the building on the left, studied under the architect who designed the building on the right. When Goldberg began designing his own buildings, his designs completely bucked the style of his teacher, and he became famous in his own right!

Here’s another view of Marina City. Chicagoans call Marina city the “Corncob Towers”…I’m sure you can see why!  The upper, scalloped levels are condos. Below that is a parking garage, and below that, restaurants (including Smith and Wollensky). On the very bottom level is a marina where residents can dock their boats!

I just love city skyscapes!

Fun fact: The Lake Street bridge is famous because it’s hailed as the only place in the word where all known forms of transportation intersect one another.

In the air: The bridge is directly on the flight path of planes flying into Chicago’s O’hare International Airport. On land: The bridge accommodates train, automobile, bicycle, and all forms of pedestrian traffic. Under water: Boats cross under the bridge on the Chicago river, and Chicago’s subway system runs directly underneath the bridge.


After our cruise and a little walking and shopping on Michigan Avenue, we stopped at Portillo’s for a Chicago-style hot dog. Portillo’s is a Chicago chain that seems to be home to several different food concepts, but we went in search of one thing only—a Chicago-style hot dog. Portillo’s has been hailed “the best!”

Hi, Karen!

A Chicago-dog with “everything”: relish, mustard (no ketchup!), onion, tomato, hot peppers, a pickle spear, and a sprinkling of celery salt.

Very much enjoyed…


Lunch was followed by more shopping on Michigan Avenue. We shopped until we dropped! By the time we were finished, we were absolutely pooped!

Somehow, we rallied ourselves for a late dinner at SUSHISAMBA, an upscale Brazilian-Asian fusion restaurant serving small plates and sushi. I didn’t take any pictures because the restaurant was so dim, but it was definitely an unusual and amazing dining experience!

We started with a round of cocktails. I enjoyed the signature Palmia, which was a blend of Herradura Silver Tequila, Cointreau, lime, and muddled mint.
Next, we shared four selections from the dinner menu:

  • Yellowtail Taquitos with shiso avocado and garlic ponzu
  • Tuna Ceviche with coconut, ginger, and serrano pepper
  • Sea Bass miso with Peruvian corn
  • Celebration Roll with spicy snow crab, topped with assorted sashimi

We also shared a small bottle of sake with dinner.

Is any girls’ night complete without dessert? We shared the mochi, which are soft Japanese rice cakes filled with ice creams. We were served four flavors: green tea, coffee, mango, and strawberry. The green tea was our favorite!

The mochi were everything-all-at-once addictive: chewy, creamy, melty, cool. I think I’ve seen them frozen at Trader Joe’s, and I’ll definitely be picking up a box on my next trip!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Hoppy Friday

Happy Friday to you!

My Friday night treat.

Love this beer. I'm definitely not a beer connoisseur, but I've discovered that I really enjoy beer. I'd love to learn more about it! I like medium- to full-bodied, hoppy beers. To me, this Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale has a nice coffee aroma and flavor, a little malt sweetness, and just enough hops to balance it out so that it's not cloyingly sweet.

FYI: A "malty" beer tastes sweet and rich. A "hoppy" beer tastes spicy, pungent, and even a little bitter (in a good way).

Here's another random, lazy dinner for you.

Hummus, cottage cheese, crackers, and veg.

See my computer screen in the background? I've been working on categorizing all of my food photos and putting them into folders. If you can believe it, I've been photographing my food since I started reading food blogs about 3 years ago! Looking through all of my early pictures brought back a lot of memories!

I'm also doing a little background work at Crave and Create. Writing posts in Google Blogger has been taking forever. Last night I had a minor meltdown after I spent an hour editing my post, and the feed was still messed up. I've been hearing great things about Windows LiveWriter and I'm going to try it out. I'm hoping that when all is said and done, it will be faster and easier to write posts, and I'll post more often.

Someone else enjoyed a Friday treat today, too. Say "Hi!" to Grandma Angie. Dad took her to Dairy Queen today and text-messaged me this picture. Grandma's turning 87 years young in December, and this was her first-ever banana split! Dad said, "She loved it. She ate the whole thing!"

Here at Crave and Create, we're all about trying new things, so I thought I'd share. Grandma's actually very tech-savvy, and she reads the blog regularly. Hi, Grandma!


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Cat Got Your Tongue?

One of the things I really struggle with is finding ways to unwind during the work week. Since my day job started up in August, I feel like I've been continually on the go. Rushing home from work so I can get to they gym or go for a run, back home to throw dinner together, running errands, taking care of my house, working on the blog...and the list goes on.

I was chatting with my mom yesterday (OK, more like I was having a major meltdown and she was being a good, patient listener). Maxine the Bean has been behaving weirdly lately, and when mom suggested that Max might just want some attention, I went over the edge. "I don't have time to sit on my couch and pet my cat!" I shrieked. "I don't sit on my couch and pet myself! I don't sit on my couch and pet a man! I don't even sit on my couch!"

Whew. I think that means it's time to get a grip.

Incidentally, the part about not sitting on my couch is true. Unless you count the nights that I crash there, under the pretense of watching Top Chef, and then awake fully clothed and bewildered at 4 am. In that case, I guess you could say I sleep on my couch.

All in all, I think I do a pretty good job of fitting it all in. But when I keep it all up without allowing myself a break, I invariably start to feel like I'm missing those quirky, humorous little moments that make life life. It's as if life's just whooshing past me and I'm totally missing the point. And then, I bug out (see above).

I didn't really intend to unwind tonight, either. I planned to go to the car wash after work, rush home to write for an hour, go to the gym for back-to-back cycle and yoga classes, and then come home to write some more. Seriously? Are there that many hours in an evening?

Somewhere between work and car wash, I surrendered my plan, and I ended up having a--dare I say it--dare I say it?--relaxing night.

It all started with a drive along Columbia Parkway, through Mariemont, to Froggy's Car Wash.

Last week, I rhapsodized to my friend Kelly about how much I love Columbia Parkway, and I really do. Every Tuesday night, I take Route 50 home from work, just so I can drive the stretch of Columbia Parkway that runs between downtown and Delta Avenue. It's become a little ritual that I use to unwind and gear up for Wednesday morning.

Other times when I need to chill out, I pamper myself. But my baby's entering the geriatric stage, and she needs a little TLC, too.

So tonight, the car wash it was.

I had a totally trippy ride through the wash.


There were frogs everywhere! I whipped out my camera and snapped pictures all the way through. I'm sure the guys working there thought I was off my rocker!

While I waited for my car, I checked out the coffee shop.

Wait. Stop. Back up. What?

That's right, this car wash has a full coffee shop right inside. Being a coffee fiend, I had to check it out.

I went for broke and ordered a small iced coffee. It was pretty good! I asked the woman behind the counter if people come in just for the coffee, and she said they do.

There's my baby, getting a little love.

Spotting this sign capped off my evening. So glad I was able to slow down and enjoy the moment tonight, even if it was just at the car wash!


I say I love to cook, and I do. I love to spend time creating delicious, interesting food. But I rarely have the leisure time to do this during the week, so I don't bother. Instead, I like to throw together creative salads, sandwiches, breakfast-for-dinners, or random plates of crave-able stuff.

I write a lot about going out. I love to go out, and the posts are fun to write! But if you only know me through the blog, it looks like I go out all the time, and I don't.

For a change of pace, I thought it would be fun to show you a few more of my easy, random weeknight meals. Because we're all human, right?

Tonight, I had a massive salad topped with cottage cheese, hummus, and avocado (AKA the holy trinity).

On the side, I had some stale crackers that I crisped under the broiler a la Grandma Angie, the most frugal lady on Earth. (It worked, Grandma! Just like fresh!)

Now, I'm stuffed. I'm off to bed! Or maybe the couch....

Have a wonderful day tomorrow!

How do you unwind?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Welcome Back

Hey there, it's been awhile! I hope you enjoyed your long weekend. I spent mine in one of the best ways possible--in the company of friends.

But, first things first: My little bro turned 27 on Monday.


Happy birthday, Carl! 
Wish I could've been there to celebrate with you!

Now, here's a little taste of what I was up to while I was away from Crave and Create. I hope I've whet your appetite, because the next few courses are on their way!

Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

I Can Be Anything

Was anyone else enthralled with Reading Rainbow as a kid?

I can still remember my two favorite episodes...the dairy farm, and the crayon factory. Don't you remember all of those orange crayons?

Or maybe that was Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. Incidentally, Mr. Rogers made a mean no-bake cookie out of, hmmm...peanut butter, butter, brown sugar, and...maybe raisins. Sounds healthy, right?

Here's the recipe: Peanut Butter and Graham Cracker Treats. (Turns out I was way off on the ingredients!) I can still remember watching that episode of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, and then making these with my mom and brother in our family kitchen.

Anyway, the point of all this is not to share my childhood memories, but to say that I had a bit of an epiphany the other day. It happened in the shower, as things like this so often do. See, for quite some time, I've been searching for a direction, a calling. What do I want to do? Who am I going to be? And I've been coming up short.

But now, like Julie of Julie of the Wolves, who on her epic journey home pointed her boots toward her estranged father Kapugen before lying down to sleep each night, I have found a new direction. It feels like I am turning my face toward the sun after a long, cold night.

If I'd had any powdered milk or graham crackers in the house, I'd have made a batch of Mr. Rogers' Peanut Butter and Graham Cracker Treats to celebrate.