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Thoughtfully Simple
Unchained Kitchen



Pretty tabletop pieces from Anthropologie

I've just returned from a short vacation to Savannah, a city steeped in all that is proper and lovely. With magnolia blossoms and pretty china cups fresh on my mind, I guess it makes sense that I'm drawn to Anthropologie's new tabletop items.  So pretty and yet, functional...ideal for a northern city girl who loves the south!

Perfect for iced tea ("sweet" or otherwise)
Vine-draped Pitcher, $48.00


How can you feel anything but genteel when sipping out of this cup? Answer - you can't!
Generalife Mug, $12


If you're looking for a splurge item - this is it! Would look so beautiful filled with punch.
Apothecary Spigot Jar, $268


Available nationwide at anthropologie.com or in Chicagoland at these locations.



Time to toss bags!



That's the sound of summer on my block. Its siren song means my neighbors are outside, gathered around painted boards and grain-filled bags...it's time for baggo/cornhole/bags/beanbag toss!*

No matter what you call it, this popular lawn game works for city dwellers precisely because you don't need a lawn. Furthermore, it's great for parties precisely because you don't need to set down your cold beverage.


Photo via cornhole_game57 on Flickr

What with Memorial Day being the unofficial start to summer, it's fitting to play this classic Midwestern game at this weekend's BBQ. If you're handy, you can build your own or buy one if you're pressed for time. Practice enough and you can join a tournament. And hey, there's even a American Cornhole Association! I don't remember it being so popular when I was younger, but nowadays no informal gathering is complete without a baggo/cornhole/bags/beanbag* match!


*An informal poll conducted on my Facebook status message revealed that most of my friends call it "bags". What about you?



Fire & Water - Memorial Day Decor

From Martha Stewart comes a simple yet chic way to add color to your Memorial Day festivities.  It would look so nice with a grouping of red and blue.  You could create this for just about any occasion.  Here's how to do it.

Also from Martha Stewart comes this more traditional decoration suggestion: Patriotic Votives

Speaking of decoration, did you know that Memorial Day used to be known as Decoration Day?  It was officially changed in 1967.  There - now you are one step closer to winning a game of Trivial Pursuit!  :)


Patriotic Soup

If there's one thing I love to do, it's match the food to the occasion. While you could certainly make a berry flag cake for Memorial Day, that's a bit literal for my taste. A more subtle way to inject some holiday color into your menu would be pureeing the berries and serving them as a cold soup.

Blueberry Soup is a unique crowd pleaser...here's an easy recipe. It's great as a sweet appetizer, a palette cleanser, or dessert. If you want to play with color a bit more, garnish with sliced strawberries.


Blackhawks Viewing Party


Today's post features a real Second City Soiree...a Blackhawks viewing party!  Cheer the Hawks through the Western Conference Finals and onto the Stanley Cup!



Serve classic Chicago bar food. Deep dish, Vienna dogs, wings, and such are all a perfect match. If you want to get into the spirit of things, try the nachos shown above. I used red and blue chips, as the blue is dark enough to pass for black. In the middle is a cream cheese spread topped with bell pepper slices arranged in the shape of the Hawks' tomahawk logo. You could also use jalapenos or tomatoes.



Drink local! Offer Chicago microbrews like Metropolitain or Two Brothers.

As far as I'm concerned, it's not a party without a signature cocktail. I searched for one that uses dark and red liqueurs and...huh. Couldn't find one. Maybe I didn't look hard enough, but rather than doing more research, I made one up. My husband says it should be called "The UC" as in Ultimate Cocktail (or United Center, home of the Hawks).

1 pt Kahlua, 1 pt Godiva Liqueur, 1/2 pt Creme de Cacao. Shake and pour. Add a splash of maraschino cherry juice and garnish with a cherry.  Mmm...sweet like a Blackhawks victory!



My friend Kevin suggested a five minute penalty for anyone who spills their drink, but I think a few teeth might get knocked out trying to enforce it (which would then make the party more authentic, so maybe it IS a good idea). He then went on to suggest a contest to see who could eat wings while wearing hockey gloves.  Oh, Kevin!

Luckily our friend Heather had a less violent/messy suggestion: "Pin the Beard on the Blackhawk", which gives a nod to the Hawks' Beard-a-Thon.  Print out these files to recreate the bearded Chief you see above:

Chief Blackhawk.  I recommended printing it out on heavy paper.

The beard. Put a little bit of poster putty on the back to stick to the Chief.

Other things to do:

Quiz each other with some Blackhawks Trivia

Start a quote board for the announcers ("He shoots...he SCORES!")

Decorate your space with Hawks Memorabilia!


Let's hear some more ideas.  What are you planning for your viewing parties?


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