Sunday, March 25 [a photo diary]

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Family Life, Life

Do you know that I carry a camera on me 80% of the time? I mean, not literally but I always (well, 80% of the time) have one within reach. When I’m home, there are two cameras I reach for – Walter and Daphne. And Daphne goes into my purse when I leave the house. Doesn’t matter if I’m going to work, the grocery store, to pick up the kids….she’s most likely with me. So surprise surprise, she accompanied me on Sunday when I headed up to the north shore to meet up with a client. When I was driving back home, I pulled over to take a shot of my favorite temple in the Chicago area –

bahai temple

Then, I took a random picture of Lake Street on my way home –

There was no good reason for taking this picture, but the night before we had my high school friend over with her family. We were talking about where we’d like to ideally live in the Chicago area. I mentioned downtown Arlington Heights or a lakefront property in the north shore (like Wilmette). “Do you think you’re a north shore person?” my (alleged) friend asked. (LOL.) I was like, “For a lake front property, I totally am a north shore person!” The Husband chimed in with, “We’d be like The Beverly Hillbillies!” Ha ha, that isn’t far from the truth. As I was driving home Sunday morning, I soaked in all the beautiful homes along this tree lined street (and if you know this area, you know my picture isn’t doing this area one ounce of justice) and for sure – lakefront property or not – I think I could easily be a north shore person. πŸ™‚

And this is for all the Ramblers fans –
Go Loyola
Spotted at the Glenview Dairy Queen.

When I got home, it was almost lunchtime. So I asked the family if everyone wanted to go “to church” (aka Mitsuwa for Sunday lunch). “YES. UDON!!!!!!!! And tempuuuuuuuuurrrrrrraaaaaaa.” The Kid replied.
This is The Kid & me in the car.

We went a little later than we normally do, so finding a table took longer than usual. But we got one and had our Sunday udon, tempura & sushi meal.
baby eating udon
She likes what she likes!

We came home and put the kids down for a nap. The Hubs went to watch TV and get some work done while I took Giada on a much needed walk.

I was cold. She was sniffing around.
I was cold. She was sniffing around.

When we arrived home, I finished Ugly Delicious (best food documentary I’ve watched all year and I totally respect David Chang for creating this dialog about food and it makes us understand each other a little better….or does it? He’s still making me think about that one…). The kids woke up and I don’t even remember the rest of the day, but I guess I did capture one last shot of The Girl playing around on our kitchen floor.


This was fun. Who else feels like doing a photo diary blog post? I’ll totally read it!

Lunch with The Hubs: Blue Ridge Korean BBQ

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Food, food photography, photography

At the beginning of March, I went back to work and had a few day to myself (aka we put the kids into daycare). I used a few hours during those days to meet The Hubs for lunch. I mentioned in a previous post that we haven’t really done a date night since The Kid was born (he’s 3 now). Hopefully, we’ll change that as The Girl gets older (and is starting to trust other adults other than Mama and Papa – YAY!). But as another mom in The Kid’s preschool said, “It’s fun hanging out with other adults and we don’t do it too often, so it’s nice when we get the chance to….but we really like doing things with our kids.” I admit that I often express mixed opinions on how much time I like to spend with The Kid and The Girl (“Do you want them? They’re yours!”), but I really do dig them and the time I get to spend with them. They’re fun. They make me laugh. The Hubs and I are lucky to have them. (But yes, they’re super tiring. Ha ha.) Anyway, once I started working, The Hubs and I figured out that our jobs are only about 20 minutes from each other, so we could find lunch spots to meet in the middle to continue these lunch dates without the kids. So far, it’s working. I even told him on our last lunch date that if he wanted to eat in silence, I’d be okay with that because it was such a relaxing experience. I mean, we didn’t have to keep bending over to the floor to pick up a utensil that one of kids kept chucking to the ground. Imagine that! So last Friday, we went with Blue Ridge Korean BBQ in Park Ridge for another one of these peaceful lunches.

Good choice!

Blue Ridge Korean BBQ
That’s The Hubs digging in while pretending that I don’t have a camera in his face

I was kinda hopped up on (3 cups of) coffee, so I wasn’t terribly hungry. The Hubs didn’t object to splitting something, so we ordered a Beef Bibimbap bowl and Korean pancakes:

Blue Ridge Korean BBQ
Blue Ridge Korean BBQ

Did I mention that without the kid distraction, I managed to finish a story I was trying to tell The Hubs three days prior? Ha ha , sad but true. Anyway, regarding the food: SO GOOD. (“The Kid would love these pancakes,” The Hubs said. “Should I tell him about our lunch today?” I replied. The Hubs gave me a fearful look.) I went back to the office and told my coworkers to check it out if they had a chance. And I’m pretty sure you’ll see this place pop up a few more times in this blog. πŸ™‚ Great place. Because my writing/review is limited, feel free to check out the Yelp reviews.

After we get the hang of doing these lunch dates on a regular basis, I’d like to attempt a Date Night InΒ – an idea shared by chef/blogger Ashley Rodriguez where once a week, she and her husband would have an in-home date night by cooking and eating together after the kids went to bed. Love that, and it’s something that would probably fit in well with life these days. You can read more about Ashley’s Date Nights In here. ❀

Daily Design – Week 12

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Design, Food

Hello hello!

So on Sunday night, I was about to close my computer down and decided to jot down my design goals for the week. I figured that’d be a starting point to create this daily assignment. I decided that I wanted to try to explore type on photos. So here are my daily attempts:


hot pot typography graphic design

wine time typography graphic design
corny af

steak dinner
I worked on this at 6:30AM and had steak on the mind all morning…
papaya salad

nom nom at naf naf

Had a salad bowl at Naf Naf yesterday. This is the only & only picture I took of it (such a pretty presentation for a fast food place, isn’t it?).

That’s all for now! Have a great weekend.

Saturday Night Dinner

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Food, food photography, photography

We had a date set with our friends N & A for Saturday night. It happened to fall on St. Patrick’s Day, which we didn’t plan. And I only mention this because our meal was very much not Irish, lol. (My husband was the only one wearing green. He said it was intentional but I don’t know if he was joking or not.) Also, since we’re throwing out random pieces of information, can I also say that I always appreciate a good meal? Especially when the host/hostess puts effort into the meal and it turns out fabulously. I’m not a picky eater and I’m also a home cook, so I want to throw around 10000 fist bumps when the host pulls together a meal. It takes a lot of work to have people over for dinner (at least for me), so I’m happy to give credit where it’s due.

A few snapshots from Saturday night –

The appetizer. I really liked these dumplings and said so. A. replied with, “You can get these at Costco.” LOL, now I know!
The spread. In the middle is cod cooked with soy and ginger. The plates surrounding it included bok choy and sauteed greens.
Mongolian beef
Mongolian beef – this was the star of the night.

Everything was awesome. I ended up bringing crack pie (which may have been too sweet for all of us) and brownies:

I am still crashing from the sugar. πŸ™‚

As far as the meal goes, I’ll be happy to let N & A cook for me anytime. So good!

Lunch with The Hubs: Tony’s Italian Deli & Subs

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Chicago, Food

So a few posts ago, I mentioned meeting my husband for lunch and said that we enjoyed it so much we did it again. This time we did it at Tony’s Deli and Subs in Edison Park. So Tony’s is a cool place and set up like a small grocery store with the deli in the back. The Hubs and I felt pretty comfortable here.




And yes, we totally ordered the fish salad.

(That’s the fish salad in the middle.) We also ordered veggie sandwich (me), muffaletta (The Hubs), potato salad and mushroom salad.
We both loved our sandwiches. And actually, the muffaletta was so large that The Hubs stopped himself before he finished the entire thing (I’m pretty sure he would have been in some weird food coma had he committed) and had lunch for the next day. All in all, I have to say that we both liked the simplicity (and deliciousness!) of this place. We met here again the following week although at that time, I left my camera in my bag and enjoyed the Italian Wedding Soup (so good. But again, no pictures) – and the company, of course. β™₯

If you need a better review than what I’m providing here (I do lack that sometimes, I admit), check out Yelp. πŸ™‚

Afterwards, I had a taste for coffee and let Yelp lead me to a place around the corner called The Cafe at LeFlour.


This was such a cute place, and I am pretty confident I’ll be back here soon. (The Toffee Crunch Latte was a great dessert/afternoon-pick-me-up.)

I am, however, a little bummed that – on this day – my name wasn’t Zeke nor Zora:


Daily Design – Week 11

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Been a week filled with kids, continuing to learn my new job and finishing up freelance jobs…so needless to say, this didn’t get posted on Friday. But I’m catching up now (Saturday) and here is my Daily Design Project for the week, which is a “book” with photos of the first thing I photographed that day along with random thoughts from that day:

As you can see on Wednesday’s page spread, I mentioned Giada but included pictures of the kids. In fact, I took zero pictures of Giada on that day. I guess she was still on my mind though. πŸ™‚

Daily Design – Week 10

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Design, Life

Still doing my daily designs, but since life is getting busier, I simplified the process so that I wouldn’t get overwhelmed and abandon this project. I figure this is a good thing for me to stick with as it 1) gets me going in the morning and 2) helps me to improve my design skills little by little. There’s a photography couple that go by Peden and Munk – basically, if you read Bon AppΓ©tit magazine, you’ve seen their work. (GOOD STUFF.) I listened to them on a podcast one time talking about how doing personal work is so important to them because it helps make them better photographers and sometimes the personal work gets added to their portfolio (and lands them a gig as a result). The whole “do your thing regularly so that you get better at it” is something I think about all the time, probably daily. (I may have to listen to that podcast again. I think it was this one.) So that’s my thought on designing daily. πŸ™‚ This week, I decided to pick a project theme that would allow me to do something little each day. I decided to try my hand at creating Chicago graphic icons, so here’s my short list:


These were more time consuming that one would think! I may continue to add to this down the line because there are other important Chicago landmarks that I didn’t get to create (Navy Pier ferris wheel, The Lake, the lions at The Art Institute, Crown Towers at Millennium Park, the red flamingo sculpture….). We shall see.

I also made sure to do the family dinner menu for the upcoming week:

dinner menu

You have no idea how much this helps with grocery shopping and also getting kids fed in a timely manner. If there wasn’t a menu, I’m pretty sure The Hubs and I would stare at each other, repeatedly asking, “What should we eat? What should we eat? What should we eat?” I may put the menu on auto pilot for awhile (Wednesday is pizza night, Thursday is stir fry night, Friday is for rice noodles, etc) until we get more comfortable with our new routine….or until everyone gets bored and needs something new to eat. (Although based on how much everyone ate last night, I think Stir Fry Thursday is here to stay. Always good because it’s good, quick & easy! WIN.)

Alright, time to get ready for the day.

fit bit

P.S. I got a Fitbit. I’m one of those people now. Also: I have no idea how I’m going to get 8000 steps in a day.

Lunch with The Hubs: Mazalae Mongolian Restaurant

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Food

I am starting a new job this week (I’m probably sitting at my new desk as this post goes live). And just to get them used to this change, the kids both started a new daycare last week.

During a playdate (not in daycare).
During a recent playdate (not in daycare).

The Kid has been in daycare and currently does preschool, so I knew he’d be fine in his new place. I was worried for The Girl, who although is pretty savage and tough is – believe it or not – NEEDY. VERY needy. It’s our fault for setting her up that way as she was always with either my husband or me. As a result, if another adult tries to hold her she’ll pretty much start crying. It was getting to be pretty ridiculous. But after a couple of days of daycare, she seemed to be a different kid. Don’t get me wrong, her #1 goal still appears to be World Domination, but in the process, she seems to be letting other adults hold her and she seems to also be playing nice with other kids. (It might ruin her street cred, but I was told she was holding hands with another girl the other day. Whoa, she’s not as anti-social as I thought!) Anyway, daycare seems to be good for her (whew), and also good for our family. My husband and I have had one date night (I think) since The Kid was born 3 years ago. (I know, I know. This is bad.) This isn’t because we don’t like each other (we do, we do!!!), but because we never took the time to find a Date Night Sitter. Hopefully, we’ll change that in the near future. However, with both kids in daycare last week, I thought I’d drive up towards my husband’s job and do lunch with him while they were being looked after.

Great decision.

As I pulled up to his company’s parking lot, I asked him if he’d rather try a hot pot place instead of the burger place we were originally thinking. “Yes! Soup sounds better!” he replied. Thank goodness for Yelp, which directed us to nearby Mazalae Mongolian Restaurant. When we sat down, we were given a menu typed in a Cyrillic script. My (Russian) husband’s eyes got wide. We both quickly turned the menu around to see the English version of it.

Quick shot of the menu before the waitress grabbed it, lol.
Quick shot of the menu before the waitress grabbed it, lol.

“A lot of this stuff are things I grew up with,” he whispered. (I don’t think he was referring the Mongolian beef, by the way. Ha ha.) We each went with our original plan and ordered a soup.

He got the Mongolian Noodle Soup.

I got the Dumpling and Vegetable Soup (“You’ll love it,” the waitress said). Both were really good although The Hubs said I got the better soup. He might be right, but I would have eaten his happily. I think we both want to come back and eat more soup. We also want to try the other things on the menu…but then again, I really liked the soup, so maybe I’ll stick with that. πŸ™‚

Being able to take pictures freely was nice.

Being in The Husband’s company without the kids was also pretty cool. So much so that we had another lunch date the following day. πŸ™‚