Wishful Wedding Wednesday

Remember Jenn from Simplistic Living? Well she's getting married this weekend!

She put a call out for guest bloggers so she can enjoy the week - and you know I'll never pass up a chance to write about weddings.

Will you take a minute to head over to Simplistic Living,
check out my dream wedding do-over,
and wish the beautiful bride best wishes?


Newbie Nugget: Burn Baby Burn

Stop me if you've heard this one...

It was a warm Sunday night in October 1871. Chicago was in the midst of one of the longest draughts in its recorded history; only one inch of rain fell between July and October. And though its origins are uncertain, the fire that ripped through Chicago is legendary.

Did you know... In just thirty hours the Chicago fire destroyed a portion of the city measuring four miles long and nearly a mile wide.

Of course you did.

in no way comparable to the Chicago Fire of 1871 - just the only picture of fire I had

This isn't big news around these parts. Everybody's heard about the Chicago fire. In fact, Chicago's history seems to be divided into two sections: before the fire and after the fire.

On every tour I've taken since we moved here (and let's be honest... that's a lot of tours) the guide has made reference to the fire of 1871. Now that I've read a little bit about it, I understand why.

According to Donald Miller, author of City of the Century,
The post office, the Chamber of Commerce Building, the major banks and train stations, the city's most impressive stone churches, all of its newspaper offices, and most of its theaters, music halls, and hotels were annihilated, most of them in less than five minutes.
This fire was no s'mores making, Kumbaya singing, boy scout fire. It was murderous. This fire melted iron and steel. It crossed a river - twice. It left 100,000 people homeless and destroyed $190 million worth of property  - in 1871.

Suddenly the city's obsession with fireproof architecture is beginning to make a lot more sense.

What legends/stories/facts have you heard about the great Chicago fire of 1871?


A View From the Yellow (?!?) Carpet

You've heard me say it before, Red Carpet season is the most wonderful time of the year! Last night, the 2012 Emmy Award ceremony was broadcast on ABC and officially kicked off the season.

Here's what I have to say about the show last night. Boring. Predictable. Lackluster. And unfortunately, the fashion wasn't all that much better. I did find a few that caught my eye - perhaps it's because they were shockingly yellow.

Source: instyle.com via Molly
Source: eonline.com via Molly

Leslie Mann had my favorite of the night. This Naeem Khan frock made me smile. I loved the turquoise jewelry she paired with it. I loved her hair and most of all I love her infectious smile. It was the perfect compliment to the sunshine yellow of her skirt.

I generally think that when Julie Bowen walks the red carpet she really she needs to eat a cheeseburger. But last night her day glow Monique Lhuillier was fantastic and I thought she looked stunning. Thin, but stunning.

Source: instyle.com via Molly
Source: instyle.com via Molly

Julianne Moore wore a lot of yellow. At first, I wasn't sure about this Christian Dior couture. But it grew on me as the night went on. By the time she was presenting, I was convinced I was a fan. How could I ever doubt the beautiful Ms. Moore?

Claire Danes did maternity chic right. This Lanvin gown was effortless and sexy. Danes was glowing.

Source: eonline.com via Molly
Source: instyle.com via Molly

There's no question that Tina Fey is always one of my favorites. Last night was no different. Not only did she look phenomenal she provided one of the few times I laughed during the show last night. Fey's Vivienne Westwood and Jena Malone's J. Mendel burgundy gowns (such a hot color this Fall!) were two of my non-yellow favorites.

Source: zimbio.com via Molly
Source: instyle.com via Molly

These two gowns are this year's entries into my "much, much prettier on TV than online" catagory. Ginnifer Goodwin's Monique Lhullier made me gasp when she was interviewed on the red carpet. The detail and embellishment were lovely. And Lucy Liu's Versace was made of metal! Both were completely unique and stood out as memorable in the sea of "safe" that swallowed last night's red carpet.

Now it's your turn! Who was your favorite of the evening?


Gushingly Thankful

This weekend I have to find an ice cream shoppe (preferably with that extra "p" and "e"), order several bowls of ice cream, take pictures of them and then bill my company after I eat my fill.

I know.

My job is a total pain.

How to Choose a Job

I woke up yesterday and had an epiphany. Life is really, really good right now. We're healthy, we have a beautiful place to live, jobs we love and enough time to pursue things we enjoy. Not such a bad thought to start the day, right?

I spent the next few hours feeling really, really, really thankful. Because while I haven't had the most difficult life, there have definitely been darker days than these. The memory of those tough times make today even more special. I believe it's the bad times that make the good times so very, very good.

And then as if my day wasn't special enough, I walked down to the mailbox last night and I found this.

The Good Ol' Days

There, waiting for me, was a box of 12 gourmet brownies. The sweet treats were a thank you from one of our clients. Her book, Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go, launched this week and she sent each member of our team a present. Julie's generous gift brought a tear or two to my eye.*

At that moment, I was pretty much overflowing with gratitude.

I don't bring any of this up to brag. I don't mention it because everything in my life is perfect. And I'm certainly not trying to rub your nose in my good fortune. I'm just taking this opportunity to be publicly and gushingly thankful.

I'm thankful for the blessings in my life. I'm thankful for the opportunities I've been afforded. And I'm thankful that my heart is in a place where I can recognize and appreciate it all while it's still happening.

I wonder if someday I'll look back on this time and remember it as the "good ol' days."

What are you thankful for this beautiful Friday?

*Probably not as impactful considering
I also teared up while watching  The X Factor yesterday.
When did I become such a cry baby?


Fall TV Superstar: Chicago

I have a question.

Is Chicago always such a dominant presence on network television? Or am I just hyper-sensitive this year?

...that was 2 questions, wasn't it?

Source: fox.com via Molly

On Monday night we watched the first of three new shows in the Fall television line up starring Chicago. The Mob Doctor has been filming around Chicago all summer.

I love, love, loved seeing Chicago locations. It's an interesting premise. Who doesn't love a mob show?  Unfortunately, I'm not sure even Evanston native and die hard Sox fan "7" (I think he has another name, but he'll always be "7" to me) can save this one. I hope I'm wrong, but I'm not sure this one is long for this world.

Source: nbc.com via Molly

Next up, Revolution. I kind of totally dig this concept. It's a little Hunger Games, a little Walking Dead, and a little CW pretty people drama. Not one of those things is bad in my book. Plus, Bella's Dad is a total bad ass with a sword.

I like to think that J.J. Abrams' name will get people watching and keep this one around for awhile. But I'm trying not to get too attached, just in case.

Source: nbc.com via Molly

Chicago Fire doesn't start until October 10th. But I have a few concerns. I'm pretty sure nobody gets crowned the next (insert art | skill here) star during the season finale. I don't think they turn on one another and vote fire fighters out of the department. And nobody is winning a half a million dollars for putting out a fire the fastest.

Does it really stand a chance?

Are you watching any of these Chicago shows this season?


We're Paying Attention

Recently somebody told me,

"If you live in Chicago and don't care about politics and architecture
you aren't paying attention."

I can honestly say since moving to Chicago, the handsome hubby and I are definitely paying attention.

Magical Lighting - Magical View

Obviously I've got the architecture covered, but I'm a little bit surprised that the hubby is handling the politics part. I've always known that he had opinions, but suddenly he's sharing them. Regularly. And sometimes his opinions are totally wrong (translation: different than mine).

Maybe it's because he's become a news junkie. Suddenly, he watches the news at least once and sometimes two or even three times (if you count the Daily Show) a day. This is way out of character for him and very surprising to me.

I'm pretty sure that our television, that is MUCH more accustomed to playing Real Housewives and Top Chef than NBC Nightly News, isn't quite sure what's going on either.

Maybe it's because it's an election year. Maybe it's because Chicago's local news is a little more entertaining than what we're accustomed to. Or maybe it's this crazy, amazing city.

Chicago has made me realize how much I adore architecture so why should I be surprised that it's awakened a political interest in that man of mine?

Has your city fostered a new or surprising interest in your life?


Meet Carrie: My Busy Nothings

It's Button Swap Guest Post Day!

In case you haven't had a chance to check out Carrie's fabulous button down on the sidebar, today is the day that I point it out. Cute, right?

Turns out Carrie has a great book giveaway going on right now, so be sure to head over to Carrie's Busy Nothings for a chance to enter to win! 

Without further ado, I'm handing over the reigns to my talented friend and co-worker, Carrie so she can share a little bit about why she loves where she lives.


Thanks Molly, and hello readers of A Foreign Land! It’s an honor and privilege to share a bit about my little corner of the globe. I met Molly two years ago, shortly after I started blogging at Carrie’s Busy Nothings. I never would have guessed that our meet-up on a random blog hop would one day lead to being teammates at Weaving Influence, but the world is a crazy place and you just never know what’s going to happen!

My immediate and extended family hail from Oklahoma, my husband is a missionary kid from Peru (and son of a Dutch immigrant), I attended college outside of Boston, we honeymooned in Chicago, and then traveled the world for 4.5 years. However, it’s the beautiful Appalachian Mountains in the tiny north east corner of Tennessee that we call “home”.

If you equate Tennessee with Memphis, you’re missing out! We’re 500 miles from Graceland, but we’re only 20 minutes from the North Carolina and Virginia borders, 4 hours from Atlanta, and 6 hours from the coast. Known as the Tri-Cities, we’re home to over 1 million people spread out over three cities, and several smaller towns, like Elizabethton (pronounced “Eee-liz-a-beth-tun”).


Once home to a number of German factories, Elizabethton was known as the “City of Power” because of her location on the Watauga River. Visited by Presidents and politicians, even providing parachutes for our soldiers in WWII, Elizabethton experienced great growth before her eventual decline in the 1960s. Factory after factory left or burned, and things were looking bleak for the county.

However, in early 2000, laws were passed that helped turn the town around, and we are once again seeing growth as a city. We play host to a classic car show each Saturday night from April through October in the downtown blocks, experience Overmountain Men encampments/reenactments at Fort Watauga, and share our beautiful covered bridge with everyone during the Covered Bridge Festival in June.


Want to catch a game? We may not have the White Sox, but we’re home to the Minnesota Twins farm team, and on Sunday nights, you can get into games for free with a church bulletin (this IS the Bible Belt after all). In fact, they’re often found playing the team from our neighboring town, the Johnson City Cardinals (farm team of Molly’s beloved St. Louis Cardinals).

If you’re into hiking and camping, this is certainly a great destination as we are only minutes from the Appalachian Trail and about an hour from the Great Smokey Mountain National Park – the only free National Park in the United States. Locally, we have several sites of historical significance, including Rocky Mount Living History Museum, and Jonesborough - Tennessee’s oldest town and capital of the former State of Franklin (also host to the annual International Storytelling Festival).

Think all Southerners eat greens and grits? Think again! In our little mountain region, you can find authentic German Bratwurst and fantastic Indian curry. There are three outstanding Thai restaurants within 15 minutes of our house, including Thai Am – blink and you will miss it! Totally known through word of mouth, this little Thai restaurant is famous enough to draw visitors from several hours away. Plan to get there early, there are only 5 tables and when the food runs out, they close up shop.

Interested in where the locals eat? Make sure you visit The Firehouse Restaurant – so named for its location in an old firehouse – which offers delicious pulled pork bar-b-q, homemade sauce, and an in-house chocolate chip dessert that melts in your mouth. Our favorite home grown spot is a hole in the wall called Cootie Browns, with the best Key Lime pie we’ve found in all of our travels.

All this, and more, can be found right here, in beautiful East Tennessee. Come see us!


Thanks so much for sharing a little bit about your town, Carrie! 

If you'd like to share about YOUR town next month, shoot me an email and we'll chat.


Mmm Mmm Monday: Surprising Spinach

On Friday afternoon, we took an architecture walking tour that made a stop at The Berghoff (17 W Adams St., the Loop) for a little bit of Chicago history. The Berghoff is a Chicago institution that serves German - and a bit of American - cuisine.

We were feeling very Chicago-pride-ish after the tour. So we headed back to the fourth generation run restaurant for a quick meal.

Here are a few things I learned about The Berghoff:
  • It's original owner started his business by selling nickel beers with a free sandwich at the World's Fair in 1893.
  • The Berghoff "near beer" sold at the restaurant during prohibition is still sold today as Root beer. (and you can get one for FREE if you check in using Foursquare!)
  • After Prohibition the Berghoff received liquor license #1.
  • The Berghoff had a separate "males only" bar until 1969. Yes, you read that correctly, 1969.
But here's what I'll remember the most about the Berghoff:

Berghoff Creamed Spinach

That creamed spinach totally rocked my world. I know, it sounds crazy. But there's a dash of nutmeg and probably a pound of butter and vat of cream that will tickle your tastebuds and make you a fan.

After a co-worker and our tour guide raved about the spinach I knew I had to order it. When I did, the gentleman at the table beside us said he's been coming back for more than sixty years for that spinach. After a few bites I could see why.

When was the last time some creamed spinach made YOU write a blog post about it?


Art, Art, Everywhere Art

One of the many, many things I love about Chicago is the abundance of public art. It's on display throughout the city in the parks, in lobbies and even incorporated in the architecture. And you know me, I'm a sucker for public art of all kinds.

Another thing I'm enjoying about our time here is all the fantastic people I'm getting a chance to meet. Thanks to a sweet friend back in Chattanooga who connected us, over the past few months I've gotten to know Jen Lavender-Thompson. In addition to being a world class hostess and all around enjoyable gal, Jen is also the founder of Art. Advise. Collect.

The Flight of Daedalus and Icarus

Over lunch last week she asked me if I might be interested in doing a bit of research on Roger Brown's mosaic The Flight of Daedalus and Icarus. Never one to pass up a chance to learn more about what makes Chicago great, I agreed.

The Flight of Daedalus and Icarus

Today Jen has graciously published my findings on her blog Art. Advise. Collect. Are you curious about the mosaic, Roger Brown or the Chicago Imagist movement? Well then, you should definitely stop by her blog right away!

What's your favorite piece of public art in Chicago or your hometown?



Newbie Nugget: "But Do You Have a Flag?"

I'm in the process of applying to the Chicago Architecture Foundation docent training program. If I get accepted, from January through June I'll be attending a class chronicling the history of Chicago and the architecture of the city. I've heard tales that it's pretty hard core.

Even though I haven't been accepted to the program yet, I've decided to start a little early and get a jump on some of the reading. Optimistic? Probably. But that's how I ended up with my very own copy of Donald L. Miller's "City of the Century: The epic of Chicago and the Making of America."

"light" Reading

Did you know... In 1671 France claimed a huge portion of what is now the middle of the United States  (including Chicago) by inviting some native Americans to an elaborate pageant of possession?

It's true. Empowered by the French government, Jean-Baptiste de Saint Lusson gathered a group of tribal chiefs together and planted a post with the royal arms of France into the ground. In the process, he  claimed a big old chunk of already occupied land for the French.

Reading the story of the pageant reminded me of Eddie Izzard's bit...

Don't worry, before packing up and high tailing it out of there the members of Saint Lusson's expedition provided the natives with a copy of the report of annexation.

Of course, rather than reading it the Indians burned it out of fear that the paper was a spell that would annihilate their tribes...which kinda turned out to be true.

I have a feeling this book is going to be a nugget fest.


5 Reasons to Love Milwaukee

I'm developing a mad crush on Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Milwaukee's Beautiful Veterans' Park

This weekend, we took a quick trip up to Brew City for the Milwaukee Kite Festival. And on the way home I started counting the reasons why I think that town is simply grand.

Milwaukee Kite Festival

1. There is the obvious reason that is illustrated in the photos above. It's full of pretty. Pretty lake front, pretty views... the place is just plain pretty. 

2. The city and its people seem mildly obsessed with cheese. If you ask me, there is nothing wrong with that. Cheese curds? Yes, please.

3. Milwaukee, like so many cities in the Midwest is chock full of big beautiful Catholic churches. And let's face it, hardly anyone does big beautiful churches like those crazy Catholics.

4. People are really nice there. And it isn't that "Bless your heart" kind of nice I had a healthy dose of down South. It's Wisconsin nice. There is a special kind of seemingly authentic, refreshingly genuine nice that I've encountered there. Maybe it's all the cheese?

5. Milwaukee is home to some pretty fantastic people.*

Gangsta Baby 2

Gangsta Baby
Remember Anna? Well, she's all grown up and totally gangsta.

Do you think there might be a correlation between the amount of cheese a person eats and how nice they are?

*Once again, Charlotte, we didn't get a picture taken together. THIS MUST STOP HAPPENING. Because you are definitely part of what makes Milwaukee pretty fantastic!
Thanks for sharing your Sunday with us.


My #GNO on #FNOChicago

New York Fashion week is well underway and style.com is getting some major traffic on my new MacBook.

As usual, Erin Fetherston's collection has me wishing every piece was in my closet. And Jason Wu's high wasted shorts are making this long wasted girl super excited for Spring.

But, I'm pleased to report fashionable functions don't only happen in NYC. On Thursday, I had the pleasure of attending my first ev-ah Fashion's Night Out (thankyouverymuch, Hallie) at Macy's on State Street.

#GNO at #FNOChicago Untitled
I figured out what to wear!
But how cute did HeatherErin look?

Check the gams on Hallie!

"Star"sightings Untitled
celebrity* sightings
{Aviva + Za-mimi}

A fashion show with looks pulled by local bloggers followed by drinks and girl talk with new friends made for the quintessential girls night out.

What's your favorite girls night out activity?

*yes, I consider reality TV cast members to be celebrities


Fashionable Plans for a Fashionable Night

Tonight is Fashion's Night Out - or FNO for the chic set. 

For the past few years I've watched FNO from a far while wishing I could celebrate the kick off of  New York Fashion week.

But this year, thanks to Hallie of Corals + Cognacs, I'm headed to an event!

It's perfectly fitting that I'll be attending Macy's event considering my obsession with the fantastic State Street Store.

Now, what to wear?

How are you celebrating this fashionable eve?


My Five Fall Faves

Like so many other women in the blogosphere, I *heart* Fall. Leaves, layers and lots of warm apple cider make it such a lovely time of year.

Don't you agree?

Fall Leaves in Chattanooga

So when I heard that the incredibly talented Johanna of 101 Things I Love was hosting a series of guest bloggers sharing their Five Fall Faves, I jumped at the chance to participate.

The most difficult part of the exercise was narrowing down all the things I love about the season to just five faves.

Want to see what I chose? Head over to Johanna's beautiful blog and check out my guest post!

What are your Five Fall Faves?