Monday, July 22, 2013

Monday 5 List #32-College Recipes

My son is traveling to his college orientation tomorrow at a college about 8 hours from Chicago. He will register for classes, tour the campus and check out his dorm. Since he returned from the Navy last fall and decided to forgo any further military career for college, I've been showing him some basic recipes for life in the dorm/fraternity/apartment. So today's Monday 5 list are recipes my son can use as a base when he leaves the nest.

  1. BBQ. In the last year my son has taken an active interest in learning how to BBQ. I've taught him the basics of how to prep meat, chicken and fish and how to use a thermometer to monitor the internal temperature. He's become quite the BBQ connoisseur and regularly mixes up his own rubs and sauces. BBQ Master will serve him well in life.
  2. Homemade sauce. Not from the jar. One of the first recipes I taught him when I started growing tomatoes, onions and basil. Once you know how to make a basic pasta sauce, the sky's the limit. He prefers to spice up homemade tomato sauce with red pepper flakes but I've also demonstrated how to add cream or cheese for a great alternative to red sauce. So basic sauce with a few twists and you've got multiple recipes. 
  3. Cream of Mushroom Soup. Easiest recipes ever. I told him "No matter how broke you are, always have a can of cream of mushroom soup in the pantry." On any budget, a can of this soup can make a delicious meal with a chicken breast or some cooked rice.  
  4. Salmon. Good grilled salmon as a main dish, made into salmon cakes or tossed on a salad, you can't go wrong. Maybe the easiest fish to cook and always a favorite. 
  5. Fried Rice. Rice dishes have always been easy but especially after my brother-in-law showed my son how to make fried rice. Over the years we've experimented with it and my son makes large portions for his friends, usually in the middle of the night. The best thing about fried rice is the "garbage pail" method, toss in any veggies with chicken, bacon, shrimp or scallops and you've got a delicious meal.
Are there any recipes you remember learning from your parents? 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Thrifty Thursday #1

I'm starting a new feature here on Lively Librarian, Thrifty Thursday where I will highlight a great thrift store, resale or antique find. The first post features my sister Stacy, she is also a librarian who loves thrifting!
During my sister's recent visit we spent a day shopping at our favorite vintage and resale stores in the Chicago area. We found the dress she is wearing in the picture at a resale store in Barrington, IL and she wore it to a wedding near her home in Colorado last weekend. The dress was designed by Chicago designer Jenny Yoo and retails for $295 but was for sale for only $1. Yes $1 and it's in pristine condition. Stacy loved the comfort and color of the dress and that it has pockets! She paired it with a $10 chandelier style necklace, borrowed one of my vintage clutch handbags and wore her own shoes. Total cost for the outfit was $11! What a bargain!
You look beautiful lil' sister! Happy thrifting indeed.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Southwest Michigan-A World Away from Chicago

Before our upcoming vacation in Colorado, Paul and I enjoyed a short trip during the 4th of July holiday weekend. We spent a few days wandering "Harbor Country" and Southwest Michigan with a loose itinerary and a summer pace. Only an hour drive from Chicago, we started the trip with lunch at the legendary Redamak's in New Buffalo. We then drove up the coast another hour to Saugatuck for the day and wandered through the charming art community before doing some wine tasting from local vineyard Fenn Valley and then stopping by the local wateringhole Wally's.

We stayed in the small town of Holland, went hiking to the Lake from Felt Mansion and had a great dinner at Pereddie's before catching the tail end of the sunset at Boatwerks, a waterfront restaurant with an outside bar. We met locals Gan and her husband Peter who've been living in Holland since 2012 after years in Gan's native Thailand. After a drink on Lake Macatawa we headed down the street to New Holland Brewery to sample their beers and listen to live music.

On Wednesday and Saturday mornings, downtown Holland is the location of an outstanding farmer's market. Blueberries and cherries are in season in Michigan so we bought bags to bring home to Chicago. We stopped by Crane's Orchard in Fennville to buy fresh pie before a visit to the new brewery Virtue to taste their latest cider. We spent the afternoon in the beach community of South Haven before going to the small town of Three Oaks for the Corsets, Whips & Whiskey event at Journeyman Distillery. We ended our vacation back in Chicago with bottles of wine and whiskey to enjoy this summer.

If you are based in the Midwest or visiting I highly recommend Southwest Michigan, it's the perfect destination for a short vacation while feeling worlds away. To see pictures of the trip, follow me on Instagram, you can find me at

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Catching Up and Taking Time Off

It's been a busy few weeks in my world with my sister and brother-in-law visiting with their children, the American Library Association Conference in Chicago and the prom party that Paul and I hosted to kick off summer. Similar to last year's Great Gatsby party, our MORP (prom spelled backward): Second Chance Prom Dance was a costume party and every one of our guests came dressed in costume. The ladies were dressed in dresses with wrist corsages and the men in tuxedos with boutonnieres and most were dressed true to the decade when they graduated from high school. There were even a few women in their original prom dresses! The picture in this post is Paul and I in front of the beautiful photo backdrop he made for guests to pose in front of.  We had prom queen and king sashs with crowns and all guests took home a beer cozie printed with PROM 2013 on it. There was dancing under disco lights, beer pong, billiards and lots of cheap beer and wine (Old Style, Boone's) and snacks we loved when we were teenagers (Cheetos, pizza). Now we have to figure out next years costume party...

I attended the American Library Association Conference in Chicago the last week in June and will be blogging about the conference soon. I am starting a vacation for a much needed break and will be spending some time with Paul and friends in Union Pier, Saugatuck and Holland Michigan over the next few days. To all my American readers, have a great 4th of July holiday weekend.