Wednesday, December 17


While I realize this is a tad bit early, I don't believe I'm going to get a chance to post again til after Christmas, so...

Merry Christmas!
Have a wonderful holiday and a blessed New Year
I hope it's full of family, afternoon naps on the couch and lots of cookies!

Friday, December 12


Last night was wonderful! And as always it went way too quickly! Here's a sneak peek of how it looked (during the day - no photographs allowed at the concert):

The rest of the pictures are here for your enjoyment! Have a wonderful weekend :)

Wednesday, December 10

a night on the town

Tomorrow we are headed downtown to see Harry Connick Jr and his big band play at the Chicago Theater. This will be our 3rd time seeing him in concert and we never get tired of it. His musicians are always amazing. It's a great way to get into the Christmas spirit!


Can you tell I'm just a little excited?

But first we'll be stopping by Catch 35 for some scrumptious seafood. New restaurants are always fun, so I hope this one lives up to its reviews.

It will be almost exactly 5 years since M took me to my first Harry Connick Jr concert (also at the Chicago Theater) the night he proposed. What a fun way to celebrate by doing it again! I still have to decide what I'm wearing! And how ever will I do my hair?!


Anne Benjamin : illustration and design

: letterpress by andrea daugherty

Tuesday, December 9

busy busy busy

Forgive me if I don't post very often in the next few weeks. Things have gotten crazy with work and the holidays, so my time is a bit more limited. For now, here are some of the vendors at Renegade that caught my eye...

1. Jennifer Pelzek : design/photography

2. Caseybots : cutest little stuffed animals
There was actually a little whale that I fell in love with but couldn't justify buying. I can't seem to find a picture of it, but here's one of the octolumps.

3. Spring olive : great letterpress

4. RAY MiN : very cool bags

I'll share some more tomorrow!

Friday, December 5

my adventures this weekend

I've very excited to be headed to the Renegade Craft Fair : Holiday edition this weekend with some friends. We attempted to make it to the one this past fall but it rained heavily and we stayed home. We're going to grab some good BBQ lunch and check out what the fair has to offer. If you're in the Chicago area, consider stopping by!

The big news for today is that Trader Joe's is finally opening one block away from me. They open at 9am this morning and I plan on being there first thing to see what it has to offer. Maybe they'll have some freebie give aways for the first few customers!? I can only hope.

But first let's make sure I've got everything:
1. Showered and dressed : check. (You'd be amazed how many days this doesn't happen since I work from home)
2. Trash to put in the dumpster on my way out : check.
3. Scarf, mittens, hat, downed vest and winter coat : check. (It's currently a whopping EIGHT degrees here this morning)
4. Purse with money : check.
5. A material grocery bag to fit in with the "eco-friendly" Trader Joe's shoppers : check.
6. A watch to make sure I return in under a hour : check. (Work beckons)

I'm off!

Edited to add:

And I'm back! Wow! Who knew so many people wanted to grocery shop at 9am in the morning?! I got there just before they opened the doors. There was a camera crew, a ceremonious cutting of a lei and more employees to help out than you could imagine. It's a great store inside; not too big - nice and manageable. I walked out with some egg nog, milk, a soft pretzel stick (which was AMAZING) and a tin of peppermint bark for our gift exchange at our Sunday school Christmas party tomorrow evening. Plus, for arriving early I got a free Trader Joe's tote bag for future groceries!

Oh TJ, you're going to spoil me!

Monday, December 1

december brings with it snow and other tales from the holiday

Well! It's officially December, which I hardly cannot believe. I'm not nearly ready for the Christmas season and it's already underway. We woke up to a fresh layer of snow on the ground this morning! I guess it really is becoming winter.

The holiday went much too quickly and only now am I realizing I hardly took any pictures amidst the flurry of it all! Oh well.

The turkey turned out wonderfully! So good in fact, that I'm tempted to try another. Yea for brining! (see previous post) The results are below:

Our full list included:
Artichoke/Spinach dip with toasted french bread
Party Mix (both thanks to our new friend Beth)
Turkey (as seen above) w/ stuffing and gravy
Cranberry sauce (of the lovely gelled in a can variety)
Lancaster County off the cob corn
Green bean casserole (a staple)
Twisted bread sticks
Parmesan Mashed Potatoes (thank you Barefoot Contessa)
Candied Yams
Both Pumpkin and Apple pies (thanks to Mel)

Hope yours was just as enjoyable!

PS: I must add that I had wonderful help in the kitchen via my sister in law, who gave me moral support throughout the roasting process AND made the stuffing.

Wednesday, November 26

the brining of the turkey

We are in preparation for Thanksgiving! Monday night I put a pot on the stove and mixed together some Worcestershire Sauce, Kosher salt, garlic and brown sugar to make a brine.

Brine (lat. saltus) is water saturated or nearly saturated with salt (NaCl).

Once the solution had cooled (I had heated it to help dissolve the sugar and salt), I added it to the turkey bag with some careful pouring. The turkey now sits in its brine, in my bottom right vegetable drawer in the refrigerator. Quite convenient! It's a nice 12.26 pounder, so it should take about 3 1/2 hours to cook tomorrow.

Hopefully the brine will help it be as moist as possible. The idea is this: "When water flows out of the meat, salt flows in and begins to break down some of the proteins in the cells. In the broken down state, the molecules become more concentrated and the solute levels rise within the meat. This causes additional water to flow into the meat." (Thanks to Cooking For Engineers' site)

I'll keep you posted!

There's Henrietta in all her brining glory.
Because she's being so sacrificial,
I feel the need to take good care of her while she's in our home!
So yes, I named the turkey.

Sunday, November 23

library of congress

Did you know that the Library of Congress has a Flickr account? (For those of you who are wondering what Flickr is: it's a photo sharing website)

Neither did I! (That is until a few days ago.)

It's an amazing collection of early 20th century history, but beware, there are over 4,000 pictures to peruse through! You can easily get carried away - or at least I can!

Friday, November 21

packages tied up with strings...

I was working on this design last night (before The Office started). I have a feeling I'm going need another supply of embossing powder before this Christmas Card season is over! Let me tell you, while I enjoy it, it is a bit of a tedious process. Tapping the extra powder onto a folded piece of paper, gathering it together, then tapping it back into its container, only to shake it back out again on the next card. Luckily the results keep me motivated.

On a side note: I feel the need to say "my grass is quite green!" You know how people have the tendency to think "grass is always greener on the other side?" Well, I am here to tell you that looking around recently, I think my grass is pretty green (how many times can I use that phrase?).

In all seriousness, I've felt very blessed lately in my current circumstances. I love that my job allows me to work from home (I am currently still in my pjs at the moment), which has benefitted me in numerous ways. It affords me the time to participate in clinical research at the hospital and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, it's kept me healthier the past two years. There seems to be enough time in the day to do some design work on the side for myself and for other clients. We've found a great little church in town with which we're actually getting involved (I just rewrote that sentence so that it didn't end in a preposition, pet peeve of mine).

So, in summary:
other than the cold winds that have swept into Chicago recently,
life is good and I'm thankful for it.

Tuesday, November 18

christmas cards

Here's a sneak peak of the cards I've been working on recently...with embossing!

The original design on computer:

And then, printed and embossed with clear powder:

This is another design I'm working on:

Monday, November 17


Last night we walked to the theater to watch Quantum of Solace, the newest installment of 007. We exited the theater a little less than 2 hours later to find ourselves among some of the fattest snowflakes I've seen in a while. It was officially our first snow. It didn't really stay on the ground as I hoped it might, but that's okay. I'm sure there will be more to come.

I realize that the composition is a bit of a no-no, being cut down the middle a bit, but oh well. I like the car lights left behind by someone who crossed the intersection, so I'm forgiving the composition for the moment.

Thursday, November 13

creative juices flowing

Sorry folks, I realized it's been nearly a full week since my last posting. My office/studio is in a bit of disarray as I have been experimenting with new designs over the last few days, in anticipation of the Christmas card season that is up and coming.

I'm also doing some design work for a client; would you like a glimpse? (I have no idea if that's the correct use of punctuation or not, I'm guessing not)

My first job out of college was for a Denver based hospice, as first the front desk secretary and then as the medical records coordinator (where my desire for organization was utilized to its fullest). I have since moved on from that job, but my former boss started a new hospice farther north and recruited me to do her print design. I'm a big fan of hospice and highly recommend it to anyone struggling to care for an ailing family member. It relieves the stress of being caregivers for the family as well as maximizes the comfort for the patient and often allows them to pass away at home. (steps off soap box)

In other news, I'm hoping to have some pictures of my new obsession with embossing soon. Stay tuned!

Friday, November 7

by candlelight

Today (and yesterday) I have been working by candlelight. We had a bit of a warm spell that is now giving way to cooler temperatures again and cloudy skies. I thought it was just about the right time to start pulling out the tea lights. Now, don't worry, I also have a window and the glow of a large monitor, so I'm not totally reliant upon candles to see. But it does add a nice ambiance to my office on these scarf and hat inducing days.

Tuesday, November 4


See proof of leaf below (along with "I voted" sticker):

okay, i'll tell you now...

Now that the cat's out of the bag, I can share it with the rest of you.

Courtesy of Hoffer Photography (their link is over on the right down there) I won my parents a free 2 hour photo shoot along with $25 towards prints they like. The contest started a few months back and I toyed with entering, but figured there was no chance I could win, so I put off putting an entry together. Then one week before it was to end, I had a few spare hours one evening and decided, "what the heck, it's worth a try!" With the help of some scanned in pictures and iMovie I put together a little video pleading my case. And it worked!

Tony is an old high school friend of mine (in fact, I believe we even went to nursery school together) and he's been doing some amazing photography work, so I'm very excited to have the Hoffers capture some great shots of my parents.

You can see the entry here on Hoffer's blog. Go check it out! And while you're at it browse through some of their recent shoots...great stuff!

Monday, November 3


Vote tomorrow, if you haven't already! And while you're at it, reward yourself with one or all of the following:

Starbucks: (from the website) "It will work like this: After you vote Tuesday (11/4), head to your local US Starbucks and we’ll give you a FREE tall (12 oz) cup of brewed coffee at no charge (limit one per customer). If you live in an area without voting proof, then we'll use the honor system."

Krispy Kreme:

Ben and Jerry's:

a winner!

I won something! It's very exciting, but I can't tell you what it is yet because it's a surprise for someone else and I haven't had a chance to tell them! Don't worry... I'll tell you soon!

Sunday, November 2

a dog's life

We dog sat over the weekend for one of my best friends and her husband. While it was enjoyable to have a dog around, I was quickly reminded of why we do not have one (yet). I wasn't even 24 hours into dog sitting when I found myself dozing off on the couch. Unfortunately, this was just about the time when he got the idea that he wanted to go out (probably for a walk) as he began a slight whimper combined with pacing around the coffee table. As I rose to put my shoes on (bleary eyed and half asleep - since it was my idea to do this) my ever so kind husband and his brother offered to take the dog out themselves (while I quickly returned to my sleeping state). This only proved to reaffirm the fact that having dogs (or kids) would require a team effort. So for now we will stay dependent-less and enjoy the freedom immensely.

Friday, October 31

Happy Halloween

I found out during my "pumpkin selection" a few weeks ago, that the stem is one of the most important parts of the pumpkin when determining if it was worthy for me to bring home.
It needs to have character!
I saw the stem on this one and right away decided I had to have it, even if it meant carrying a large, heavy pumpkin all the way home from the farmer's market to which I'd walked.

I'm glad I did!
Happy Halloween to all of you!

Tuesday, October 28

trick or treat?

It's nearing Halloween time again. We don't have a great track record with this holiday. The first year of our marriage, we spent the evening at Border's to avoid the trick or treaters in our apt complex. (I know, real festive of us) The next year we were in our new condo and forgot it was halloween. We were completely unprepared for a knock at the door by a little boy all dressed up. I remember frantically searching the cupboards for something to hand him (other than a can of soup or boxed rice mix), but before I could find something and open the door, he gave up. Year number three we decided to turn out our outside light as to avoid the debacle from the previous year. And now, here we are, year four and we're not going to be in our own place for halloween. Even if we were, we live on a third floor apartment that requires getting buzzed in for access. I doubt we'd be seeing any treaters anyways. But in the spirit of the holiday I thought I'd post some of my "ghostly" images.

Friday, October 24

too quickly

Anticipation is a funny thing. It's so exciting before something actually takes place and then all of a sudden, after it's over, you find yourself missing the anticipation of it.

That's how last night was for me.

After riding the El into the Clark and Lake stop to meet M at work, we went around the corner and grabbed a quick bite at Corner Bakery for dinner. (Roasted Tomato Basil soup...yum!) Then it was off to Michigan Avenue to locate Columbia College where the lecture was being held. We arrived a few minutes before it started, just in time to snag two remaining chairs beside each other. It was a small gallery room (apparently the lecture hall had been double booked) and it quickly filled to standing room only. It was enjoyable to listen to Daniel Dixon speak of his mother and father (Maynard Dixon, famous painter) and to see her work through his eyes. It was a unique experience for a child growing up, to say the least.

When it was over, about an hour in, he stood up for questions. M looked at me and asked if I had any questions. I shrugged my shoulders, not at all having prepared for the possibility of questions (I've gotten rusty after being away from college!). I think we both figured someone would asking something! The room was silent and before I could really contemplate a question, he was sitting back down and people were beginning to disperse. I stood (more like hovered, actually) around him for about 10 minutes waiting to get the chance to shake his hand and say, "Thank you." I found out I was too timid for this task, as older people kept somehow nosing in front of me each time I thought I'd catch his eye to address him. After thanking his wife, who did some of the reading of DL's quotes, I gave up and ventured through the rest of the exhibit. M was very kind to indulge me and was patient, letting me look at prints and point out things.

Of course on the train ride home, we thought of many questions that could have been asked and we both expressed how we wished we could have listened to him longer. There's something about a first hand account, an oral history, if you will, that is intriguing. Eventually, the first hand accounts are gone, which drives my appreciation for them. We've lost our love for oral history... we write things down in books and that's that. But listening to it, from someone who has been there seems irreplaceable. And so I regret not having a question ready last night, because I think had just one person asked just one question, more might have come and we might have gotten an even deeper sense of what the world of Dorothea Lange was like.

What I wonder now...
1. What was it like to work with Ansel Adams? What differences did you see between his approach to work and your mother's?
2. How did growing up in an household with two artists shape your childhood and how you view the arts today? Was it intimidating to have such talented parents?
3. Did your mother have a favorite camera?
4. Do you have a favorite picture?
5. What do you think she would say of photography today?

It's so much easier after the fact. (sigh)

Thursday, October 23

minolta SRT-101

Isn't it pretty? Okay, maybe you're not as enthralled with old cameras as I am.
But's beautiful, yes?

And, yes, I am sometimes sentimental, hence why my Grandpa's name tag remains on the camera.

Wednesday, October 22

brushing up on dorothea lange

Today I took a brief lunch break to briskly walk to the library and pick up the four books I'd put on hold Monday evening. It's getting quite chilly out. Tomorrow night M is accompanying me to a lecture on Dorothea Lange, given by her son (who was born in 1925, I might add) at the Museum of Contemporary Photography downtown. I forget how I stumbled upon it, but I realized it was free and quickly marked it on my calendar last month. I figure if we're going to live in the city, we better take advantage of all it has to offer or else I'll regret it once we're no longer here.

In case you need a refresher course on Dorothea Lange, she's most famous for her work during the depression of migrant farmers and their families. Remember seeing the one of the mother and children, aptly named Migrant Mother? That's her.

So tonight I will curl up with my books and brush up on DL before the lecture tomorrow evening! Fun!

PS: This is only serving to renew my love for black and white photography.
That and the fact that I took my Grandpa's old Minolta SRT-101 out today.
The click of the shutter and the manual advancing of film is such a delight! More on that later...