Photos: Ali’s Birthday

IMG_0694

IMG_0814

IMG_0638

IMG_0669

IMG_0677

IMG_0664

 IMG_0715

This post is so belated that if this were 20 years ago, Ali would already be declaring herself twentysevenANDAHALF!

Editing and uploading these photos made me so happy – lobsters, champagne, birthdays, smug cats and family… what could be better?

Wait, there might be one thing! This gif of a look I have been on the receiving end of many a time. “Seriously, Laura?” Love you, Al!

alison

ll

Happy Birthday Ali!

Image

To the blue to my red,

the coffee to my cream,

the sauv to my blanc…

To the painter extraordinaire,

the on-the-spot-recipe genius,

the alley furniture hero,

the poufmaster (and all around great hair-posesser),

the sweeper of my broken glasses many other messes…

To my younger-older sister,

my best friend -

I love you!

Cheers to the great year I know you have ahead of  you.

Hippo birdie!

ll

Rent the Runway Loves Chicago (We Love You Too.)

We had no fun at Chicago Blogger Network’s RTR Party.

8029.pip_8029_0169

rent-the-runway-chicago-laura-alison-deuxchicago3

8029.pip_8029_0170

No fun at all.

Actually, we had a total blast. Earlier this month, the beauties and brains over at Chicago Blogger Network teamed up with Rent the Runway to showcase a sampling of winter dresses just in time for cocktail party season! The W CityCenter was totally packed with fashionistas, bloggers, and loyal customers to the brand. It was our first official blogger’s event so we were a little nervous, but we grabbed a few glasses of wine, made some new friends, and drooled over dresses for a few hours. In other words, our dream night.

If you’re not familiar, Rent the Runway is a service that allows you to rent designer dresses for a fraction of what they would cost to buy them retail. They’ll ship you two sizes so there’s no worry about fit, and you can also chat online with a stylist if you’re worried about making the right choice. You can check out photos of real girls in the dresses (sort by your height and body type!), read reviews, and you won’t be fined for those life-happens spills, burns, etc.

We know, it’s genius, right?

We couldn’t snap any decent photos of the dresses because it was pretty dark in there (and fine, our hands were full of wine glasses, thanks again CBN!), so instead we hopped online to pick out New Years Eve outfits from RTR – we’re still working to finalize our plans for the holiday, but if they even REMOTELY qualify as dressy, we’ve got a plan.

deux-chicago-rent-the-runway-ali

deux-chicago-rent-the-runway-laura

a+l

 

Recipe: Baked Ham and Egg Cups

How was your Thanksgiving? Ours was great– as predicted, lots of games and too much food. In other words, perfect.

As we mentioned, we were really looking forward to making Thanksgiving brunch to our family. Our choice needed to fit two main criteria: fairly light (Thanksgiving dinner later!) and easy enough to assemble for 7 people.

After seeing a few variations floating around Pinterest, we made egg cups for brunch earlier this year and decided that they’d fit the bill nicely for  our Thanksgiving morning brunch. We made two variations and were happy with both results, so we thought we’d share! They are so cute and really, really easy… plus, the world is your oyster when it comes to the toppings — you can really add any combination of ingredients your little heart desires.

Laura went the traditional route and made Denver-esque cups by adding diced peppers and onions with cheddar cheese to each cup. Ali got creative and made the clear winner of the day – she blanched asparagus and added two spears to each cup with a tiny bit of cheddar in the base, then served them with a Hollandaise sauce.

We left the crispy edges but you could trim them or get really crazy and cover them with foil while baking.

In our opinion, this is a handy staple to have in our back pockets for brunch with the girls, for family, or after a particularly long night out. Cheers! (with our ham and egg cups.)

Ham and Egg Cups -

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Spray a muffin pan with cooking spray or lightly oil. (We used popover cups this time because we wanted more room for add-ins, but have previously used muffin tins and it works just as well!)
  3. Line each cup with two slices of ham, pressing into the bottom of each cup.
  4. Add desired toppings, then carefully crack one egg into each cup.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes or until egg is cooked through. Each cup should easily lift from the tin.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Every year come mid-November, do you think, “Oh great, it’s the holidays, work will slow down!”?

And then wonder what on earth you were thinking as you’re scrambling to answer emails, bake, shop, and answer more emails so you can get home to your family?

Us too, thanks for the solidarity. We did, however, manage to find the time (twist our arms) to celebrate one of our dearest friend’s birthday over the weekend, and accomplished the impossible: a photo of us together that neither of us vetoed. Great success.

We’re off to eat way too much with our family, play far too many games of wine-fueled Mexican Train Dominos and wake up obscenely early to take advantage of the ridiculous sales on Friday. Food, family and deals — these are a few of our favorite things! We have much to be thankful for.

Happy, happy Thanksgiving, friends!

We leave you with this hilarious (Potato Budz, bitches!) and handy infographic courtesy of Chow – in all honesty, we’d probably be hopping off the road at “irresponsible adult”, but we’re now contemplating contributing vegan bean loaf, just for a fun and politically-fueled break from Mexican Train. Just kidding, Mom!

 

RPM Italian – The Look

Our RPM Italian dream has finally come true.  One warm September evening, Laura and I thought to ourselves, what could be the harm in just calling them to see when their next rezzie was? As it turns out, others had the same idea, because the next available weekend reservation was in November.  We snatched that bad boy up, marked our calendars and began the countdown.

With November creeping up, we eagerly looked forward to our hot date with mouths watering and menus favorite-d on google.  While I’d love to tell you about the delicious eats, I think it’s more important to tell you about the real event – what we wore!

Only kidding, I’m not crazy, we had the bolognese, I know who the star of this show is (food!).  But since Laura is out of town on business – and she holds the pics – the best we can do is give you a peek at the outfits.  Sorry to disappoint :)

 

L&A

Chain O’Lakes State Park

The view from the back patio

This past weekend, we got our urban sherpa on. (This is Ali’s ingenious term for the plight of the automobile-free when attempting to leave the city or trek around the city without multiple trips home. Basically packing laptops, gym clothes, makeup, two changes of clothing, etc. in various bags: purses, totes and shopping bags and dragging said bags everywhere you go.) On Friday, we headed up to the burbs to celebrate our stepdad’s birthday. As always, it was a great time, but I think its safe to say the highlight of everyone’s weekend was the family canoeing trip.

Before we could get going, we had to make an emergency trip to DSW as our shoes were deemed “impractical.” We helpfully both brought home our respective pairs of leopard print shoes, so there was a family-assisted, fast and furious hunt for appropriate boating footwear. Mission accomplished in under 12 minutes; we are champs and the fam has great taste. And yes, we are aware that we are ridiculously lucky we are to have the kind of family that feeds us and houses us for the weekend and then buys us new shoes.

Chain O’Lakes State Park is about an hour and a half northwest of Chicago, and we really couldn’t have picked a better day for a drive. We admired our shoes and were there in no time flat. After a hike through the woods, some time acting like children on the swings, and a lunch of Ali’s amazing chicken salad and Asian apple pears, it was time to face the canoes.

Ali and I both love the water, but were less than thrilled at the perceived high probability of our canoe tipping and and flipping, fully clothed, into the muddy water. Luckily, my sister has an eagle eye and politely demanded a canoe roughly the width of a pontoon, so flipping turned out to be a non-issue.

She also turned out to be a pro navigator and the stronger paddler of the two of us, though I maintain my half-assed paddling was to take pictures. “ITS FOR THE BLOG!”

Our parents paddled along next to us and the four of us spent the next two hours canoeing up and down the banks of the river in total awe of how beautiful the scenery was, totally alone on the water with the exception of a crane and some elusive jumping fish. It was absolutely perfect in all respects: company, weather, and a new adventure, and a day I know I’ll always remember.

Ending the day with a dipped cone from Dairy Queen!

Happy Friday

 

 

We made it! Happy Friday :) Fall has officially arrived and we’ve decided to face the tragedy of summer’s end head-on by what else? Shopping for sweaters and boots!

Busy but fun weekends on the books for both of us and we’re looking forward to sharing a lot of great posts next week.

This week, we added new pages to the top of the blog to categorize all of our posts so they’re more easily accessible. So much fun to look back on our posts over the past year. What is it about fall that makes us want to be that much more productive?  Left over effects from our school days, most likely! Someone buy us new trapper keepers, please and thanks.

Some reads for your weekend:

 

Jessie, the Design Daredevil with David Bromstad behind the scenes on the White Room Challenge

  • We are BEYOND excited for our blogging buddy, the Design Daredevil.  Jessie will be tearing up HGTV tonight on the White Room Challenge! We already knew that she was gorgeous, talented and hilarious, but this story about her incredible passion for design and the struggles she has gone through to make her dreams happen really seals the deal – we are madly in love. Set your DVRs!
  • We’ll never admit how much time we spent this week watching Bad Lip Reading videos on YouTube, absolutely CRYING laughing. Whatever your political leanings are, these are hilarious. (Thanks, Shai!)
  • Martha Stewart’s Autumn Apple Recipe Guide has us drooling – but how to choose? Cheddar crusted apple pie? Apple butternut squash soup? Quinoa and apple salad with curry dressing? Yes please!
  • Orrrr if you’d prefer a cocktail, check out Huffington Posts’ Top 5 Autumn Apple Cocktails – cheers!
  • We loved this inspirational post over at Story of My Life on following your dreams and sticking with them.
  • We cannot go on without knowing at some point in our lives we can be a Chengdu Pambassador – we share this opportunity begrudgingly. Hug a panda, guys!

Have a great weekend!