frances in the city

fortunate + blessed
November 3, 2010, 11:55 am
Filed under: Family

Hey strangers, just sticking my head up from this nuts-o semester that is eating me alive. I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself to draft these really wonderful and comprehensive posts, and when I don’t have the time or energy to do so, I end up neglecting. Right now my heart’s desire is to be less neglectful and more available…a simple concept that I’m having a hard time balancing.

I digress.

Can I just say something, real quick?
The older I get, the more I appreciate my parents. Not just as my mom and my dad, but as humans. My parents are really amazing humans. Talented, wise, and really good at what they do.  They’ve always been superstars in our home, but I’m now realizing and appreciating how valuable they are in their communities.
I’m so thankful. Fortunate and blessed.



tasty math
October 13, 2010, 10:31 pm
Filed under: kitchen mischief

frozen banana + 1/2 cup yogurt + (big) spoonful of creamy peanut butter + (big) spoonful of Nutella + splash o’ milk + magic bullet = DELICIOUS

the leaves are changing colors.
October 3, 2010, 2:39 pm
Filed under: Chicago!, rando

I love October. I like jackets, I like boots, I like pumpkin spice lattes (amen), I like clear skies, I like wearing my flannel jammies with the window open, I like it all.

cream cheese pumpkin muffin.

Autumn makes me feel nostalgic and hopeful at the same time. I always remember my first fall here (two years ago!) and the exploration and excitement. Understandably, that sense of possibility radiates with particular strength whenever the semester and season kick off. People also like to visit in the fall, and that makes for some very beautiful days. Excitement.

My mom is coming to visit me next weekend. I’m beside myself with joy.
I’ve been working for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, did I ever mention that? I’m helping out with the design and production of what feels like every tiny little piece of printed material necessary to operate & direct a major marathon. It’s been an incredible experience, to see the organization and planning of a HUGE event (35,000 runners and nearly 2,000 volunteers!), to work for a well-respected and recognized marathon, and to be part of something so dang inspiring! I had NO idea how much goes into this one event (there are 50+ people whose full-time job is just to plan the marathon!), and it’s fun to be part of that. Right now things are CRAZY busy/stressful. It reminds me of newspaper deadlines in high school, amplified times a million, but similar comradery and ambition. Mom is coming to visit for marathon weekend (10/10/10, the date to motivate!) and we’re going to do a little volunteering and have a lot of fun. I’ve never experienced this kind of anticipation, where you work SO hard for SO long for one specific event. The closest thing I can compare it to right now is Christmas, and that’s not even quite right. But my MOM is coming and there will be 35,000 people accomplishing something so huge and we’ll probably find wonderful treats, and that’s close enough to Christmas.

I’ve made myself square meals and done a lot of homework and haven’t spent a single dollar this weekend. Novel concept, being responsible.

Have you heard of Mumford & Sons? I’d heard rumblings for a while, and I finally downloaded their CD yesterday. Holy. Cow. Excellence. I don’t know a ton about them, but I’ve been told they’re Christians making mainstream music that points somewhere wonderful. They have banjos, Caroline, though I’m sure you’ve already heard of them.

God has been blessing me with joy and contentment and peace. I’m so thankful, and I just thought you’d like to know. None of those things are dependent on good moods or sunshine or things aligning the way I’d like. None of those things depend on me.

project weekend kick-off
September 25, 2010, 5:30 pm
Filed under: Chicago!

As you may have assumed from my absence, things are BUSY. But then, when are they not? I calculated the other day that between work, classes, and other commitments, I’m occupied 43 hours a week. That number seems a little small for how busy I feel, but it’s still a lot when I consider it doesn’t include homework or socialization. The fruit of all this scurrying about is three-fold: 1, I’m managing my time like an adult, 2, I’ve been incredibly productive, and 3, I feel like I earn my weekends and free time. Three Fridays ago, I treated myself to a pumpkin spice latte at 3:30 in the afternoon. It was sooo tasty. I told my mom about it, who mentioned she was reading a book and eating a bowl of coffee ice cream. My momma invented earning the weekend. This got me thinking…treats like this are so savory when they cap off  a busy week, so why not make a point of celebrating the end of a workweek? I’m trying it out, and it’s fun to have an excuse to seek out a treat. Last week I went to Beard Papa’s after Uncle Kenneth suggested I seek out lava cake. I ended up with a strawberries and cream cream puff and some SUPER tasty chocolate cookies (that can be likened to tiny lava cakes after an 8 second spin in the microwave). Yesterday I went and picked up a chocolate coconut cupcake at More.
Hurray for weekends!

a few quick pictures
September 24, 2010, 11:46 pm
Filed under: Chicago!

Deary me, it’s been so long. I don’t even know what to say or where to start.

So why not begin with some phone pictures of things I ate? That’s totally characteristic.

My summer best friend Alex turned three at the beginning of September. LOOK AT THIS KID'S DESSERT SPREAD. Have I mentioned that his parents own a bakery? Greatest party ever.

Remember what I said about Alex loving letters as much as I do? His birthday cake was phenomenal. SO MUCH LETTERS. Six layers of chocolate cake.

on fire.

Chorizo and chickpeas. So cultured.

Summer corn and shrimp soup with avocado. SO good, primarily because of the shrimp. The recipe mentioned using rotisserie chicken instead. I could get behind that.

Since I can’t link to recipes inside captions, here’s the link for chorizo & chickpeas, and the corn soup. I heartily recommend both.

On the very short list of “things I took pictures of with my camera phone that are not food, or at least food I intend to eat” is this little gem.

Luxe's first night at the apartment.

Luxe moved into our apartment with her mom Alexis. Since mid-August, they’ve been keeping us company and making us feel warm and fuzzy. Luxe is currently sitting next to me on the couch. It’s nice to be welcomed home, even if she just uses me for my affection. And I’m ok with that.

We’ll talk again soon. I promise!

new(ish) phone photo dump.
August 20, 2010, 10:09 pm
Filed under: Chicago!, kitchen mischief

Someone explain to me how we are in the second third of August. Excuse me, but didn’t summer just start? Craziness. I have two more weeks til school starts, and I’m thankful for that. One week left at my internship, one week left with Alex, and then school life resumes. I’m excited to get back in the classroom and LEARRRN. Summer has been the right balance of structure and leisure, and I think that’s what has made it so easy to savor. I say it again: it is such a blessing to be young in this city.


I read so many food blogs (glutton) that it occurs to me while I cook to take artsy progress shots. please excuse me.

end result: Fresh Corn & Black Bean Salad. I purchased fresh sweet corn from a farmer's market (overpriced but worth it) and it was so tasty. I ate on it for days.

see that ad? there in the middle with all the pictures? that was produced by our agency. I took this picture at the train stop I take to work every day the first time I saw it. Words can't quite describe the feeling of seeing work that you touched out in public. It's incredibly exciting.

Look! More ads at the biggest commuter train station in Chicago! I took the Metra home from visiting my parents & Anne at Runamuc and was welcomed by more ads! Again, I was stupid excited to see them. Seriously. I called back to Runamuc to talk to whoever would listen. Thanks for sharing in my excitement family!

poor suburban kiddos on their way home from Lollapalooza thought I was a nutjob for gleefully taking pictures of the advertising.

Alex and I love letters and blocks and building castles, be them from letter blocks or sand.

I'm quite certain that I could go on a global safari and crossing the Chicago River would still be my favorite view in the world.

David and I made Ina Garten's macaroni and cheese. Do it for yourself. You won't regret it.

This is Katherine. Between cheerleading and newspaper, we spent a LOT of time together in high school. She was in town on vacation and met me for lunch, sweet girl.

this is the muffaletta I ate for lunch with Katherine. HUGE. HUGE. I barely consumed half, the rest was for dinner.

Alex and his letters. Kid has more alphabet toys than I knew could be produced.

look Caroline! I made falafel! and taziki! and ate it all myself!

more Advocate ads, different station, same joy.

Not included in photos:

  • Back to back weekends at Runamuc with my parents, little sister, cousins, aunts, uncles, and Grandma. We got to meet my cousin’s twin girls (so tiny! so precious! so perfect!), shop for final college necessities for Anne, purchase cheese, and bask in the warmth of family.
  • Robin‘s last night in Lakeview before moving to Cincinnati for her exciting new job. Bittersweet, I tell you. We had Ian’s Pizza and ice cream.
  • New roommate Alexis’ first official meal at our apartment. I made Red Curry Coconut Noodles and it was exotic. There were also millions of leftovers, but who’s complaining?
  • My free-Friday adventure in Wicker Park with a friend from school I haven’t seen all summer.

Like I said, being busy and making time for adventures is the way to go.

August 12, 2010, 8:29 am
Filed under: Chicago!

“There are two peculiar characteristics of pure faith. It sees God behind all blessings and imperfect works which tend to conceal Him, and it holds the soul in a state of continued suspense. Faith seems to keeep us constantly up in the air, never quite certain of what is going to happen in the future; never quite able to touch a foot on solid ground. But faith is willing to leg God act with the most perfect freedom, knowing that we belong to Him and are to be concerned only about being faithful in that which he has given us to do for the moment.”

-francois fenelon