Crazy Plant Growth

November 19, 2011

November 19, 2011

November 19, 2011

November 22, 2011

November 22, 2011

December 2, 2011

December 3, 2011

December 6, 2011

December 7, 2011

December 19, 2011

I remember buying a little slip of a plant from Ikea when I first moved to Chicago in 2004. For years it didn’t grow very much and then when we moved into our Logan Square condo, I hit the sweet spot. It loves to sit right in the south-facing windows and has really grown and flourished there. It’s about chest-high now, when it started out, maybe 8 inches tall?

Late last year I noticed one day that all of a sudden it had these big huge growths on it. Seven years, nothing, then bam! My coworker Paul told me this had happened to him one time too and that the whole thing flowered and had a very sweet smell. Sure enough, by early December there were a ton of white flowers and the scent was very strong. Dallas was complaining it was giving him a headache. You could smell it everywhere in the condo. And the flowers were very sappy. By mid-December the flowers had dried up and died. I wasn’t sure what would happen next, but I decided to just cut the flowers off. For a couple months nothing really happened but now it is slowly continuing on with its leaf growth. Crazy. I wonder if it will happen again!

Dining Room: Before & After


The little IKEA table that I bought when I moved to Chicago 5 years ago has served me well at my last two apartments. In each of those places I only had a small space for a dining area so my small table with 4 chairs was perfect. In our new condo we have much more space for a dining set. Since we want to be able to have everyone sit for dinner parties and host more poker parties, a new table and chairs were high on our priority list.

Both Kristin and Christina recommended World Market dining room sets to us. They said that they were stylish, well constructed, and reasonably priced. When we were looking at couches in Naperville we went to World Market and looked at dining room sets at World Market, but didn’t buy anything.

A week or two later Kristin offered to drive us out to Oak Brook to look at furniture. We went to Dania, West Elm, and then back to World Market. World Market definitely had the closest to what we were looking for in size and style. It was also the sturdiest and the most in our price range. We selected what we wanted and it was kind of a cluster running to a few different stores to get everything, but in the end we got 8 chairs for half off. We couldn’t transport the table so I ordered it online. World Market was having free shipping, so that wasn’t an issue, but because the table is so big and heavy they were charging $70 extra. I found a coupon code online for a percentage off and ended up knocking $85 off the price, so the $70 was not an issue any more.

When we got the table we put the leaf in it and had all 8 chairs around it, but it was a bit much for everyday. We took the leaf out and put 2 chairs to the side and I think that’s how we’ll keep it unless we have people over.



If you are looking for a small table and 4 chairs and would like to buy my table in the “before” photo, email me. rachelle at rachelleb dot com. We’ll probably be putting it on Craigslist soon.

Living Room: Before & After


I moved to from New York to Chicago just about exactly 5 years ago. It was February 29, 2004. I have lived in Chicago longer than I lived in New York or California. Didn’t see that coming when I left Wisconsin in 2000! Anyway, when I moved to Chicago I got a white hand-me-down couch from a friend of Nancy’s named Andy. It is an ok couch. Very comfortable. But white. And it got gross looking fast. And the pillows are so sloppy. And I began to hate that couch a bit. But it was free and Dallas and I agreed that we wouldn’t want to spend money on a new couch until we bought our own place. I should also add that the white chair is one I got at IKEA and the black chair is a hand-me-down IKEA chair that we got from Dallas’ cousin Miko.

Well, as you know now, we bought a place. Time to finally get a new couch! A few weeks ago Dallas and I rented a car for the weekend and drove up to Wisconsin for my dad’s 60th birthday party. On the way back we drove down to Naperville. Auntie Laura had recommended the Carson Pirie Scott Furniture Outlet to us as a place to look for a new couch. She got a whole leather living room set there and it was really nice. When looking online before the trip I found out that there is also a Macy’s Furniture Clearance Center and an Crate & Barrel outlet within a block of the Carson’s outlet, so we hit them all up.

I think all outlet stores are hit and miss. We went to the Carson’s Outlet first and didn’t like anything there. We liked a few things at the Macy’s Outlet. There was a much bigger selection. We went to the Crate & Barrel outlet last. I was excited because I knew what Crate & Barrel furniture looked like and I knew it was really expensive normally. Unfortunately, the outlet had only a couple pieces of furniture and nothing that we were really looking for. So, back to Macy’s.

We ended up getting a large 3 piece sectional for about $1, 700. We were told that the full price at Macy’s is $4,000. So we paid less than half. Tip: If you want to buy something, have the sales associate pull the tags immediately or it might be gone if you go to look at something else. We had her pull the tags and then went to look at rugs.

We had no idea where to begin with area rugs. There were stacks and stacks. Luckily, the sales man was really really knowledgeable and friendly. He knew everything from how the rugs were manufactured, to how to care for them, to how to coordinate them with furniture. The good thing was that since the furniture we were buying was right there we could take rugs over and see them with the couch. We paid $400 for a 6×8 foot Karastan rug that retails at Macy’s for $1,600.

When the couch was first delivered last week I freaked out a little. I thought it was way too big. I’ve since gotten used to it and have realized that it’s just a lot bigger than our old furniture, but that doesn’t mean it’s too big for the room. I just wasn’t used to it. It’s really comfortable and looks great. Last week Jess and Alden were over and all four of us were a bit sprawled on the couch and no one was even touching. I bet you could fit at least 8 people on there. I’m happy with the purchase, which is good because the clearance centers don’t accept returns!



Next up in the living room: 1. Find a new coffee table. 2. Clean up the mantel and move all the gaming systems downstairs in the den/rec room/family room/2nd living room (I don’t know what to call the downstairs space!).

Mac the Knife Helps Make Beans




I don’t think I’ve ever owned a really good knife in my entire life. When I first moved out of my parent’s house I had a set of Ginsu knives – you know, the ones they sell on TV that will cut through a shoe then slice through a tomato with the greatest of ease all for the low low price of $29.99. They were alright, but nothing great. Then when I moved around I don’t know what happened, but when I got to Chicago I just needed some knives immediately so I ended up with a craptacular set from Ikea that barely cuts anything.

My brother gave me a gift certificate for my birthday so I decided to use it to invest in one good multi-purpose knife. I got some suggestions from people and decided on getting a Mac knife. The reviews that I read were good and these are the knives that Dallas said his entire family has used for years, so I was sold. It was expensive, but worth every penny. I can’t really remember a time when I didn’t shove the knife in an onion and then rock back and forth to force it through. This new knife goes through onions like buttah! So awesome.

On to the beans..

I love beans but I’ve never made them at home. When I came across this recipe on Cooking Light I decided to try it out. I know it’s the cheater way – with the ketchup base, and only cooking them for about 45 minutes, not like all day, and canned beans, but… baby steps! They turned out really good.. very barbecuey, though. I prefer a little less barbecue bite, but they were still good.. and easy to make.

Click the link below for the Stovetop “Baked Beans” recipe (Cooking Light only provides recipes online to subscribers).
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Father’s Day

Papaya for fruit salad
Papaya for fruit salad

Father’s Day Breakfast

Old table
Old Table

New Table
New Table

Today my dad came down from Wisconsin and I surprised him by having breakfast ready when he arrived. We had Double Cinnamon French Toast, Fruit Salad with Honey-Lime Dressing, turkey sausage, and peanut butter cup cookies. Later on we went to Ikea. I needed to buy bookcases and realized that after I unpack my books from the boxes that they’re in I’d no longer have a living room table. My old table was two boxes of books with two shelves balanced between them. So I bought a table too. So far I only have the table assembled. Anyone want to help put together bookcases?