July 31, 2013

Happy Anniversary to Me...

I can hardly believe that today marks the one year anniversary of city girl | country roots.  The past year has been the best year of my life so far, and I can’t imagine that most of it would've happened the way it did had I not found the courage and taken the steps to start this little ol’ blog... 

Today, I can honestly say that I am the most comfortable I have ever been in my own skin.  Sure, I have my insecurities like everyone else, but who I am at my core has never felt so right, and that feeling just keeps growing.  People, experiences, adventures & genuine connections are by far the most important things to me in this life and I have never felt stronger about that.  It’s about creating & living a life that feels good on the inside, not just one that looks good on the outside.  One of the best parts?  I've been lucky enough to spend time around some pretty incredible beings this past year who have only managed to further inspire me. Some of them have even made me blush by giving me the best compliment I could possibly imagine: letting me know they think I am a truly genuine & real person - a sentiment that shines brighter than diamonds or gold any day in my eyes.

It’s hard to imagine that I’d be the person I am today without all the experiences I've shared and those I've gotten to be part of through cg | cr.  Starting a blog is often a very personal and nerve-racking journey; it can be scary at times (hello critics), but overall I've found it to be an insanely uplifting, empowering & inspiring experience.  Some of the support I have received during this journey was almost selfishly expected, only because I recognize that I am beyond lucky to have an amazing family & some pretty incredible friends in my life.  But to those of you out there who may not count yourselves as family or close friends - even if we don’t know each other all that well, haven’t seen each other in years, or maybe have never even met - to those of you who took the time to reach out to me, to let me know how much you enjoy reading and to send words of encouragement like “keep it up, you’re doing great!” - well, YOU....you may never fully understand the magnitude of your words or how important & appreciated they truly are.  Your positivity has gotten me through some of the more challenging days that we all experience from time to time and it's pushed me to keep going with this endeavor - to explore creativity, awaken it from within myself & hopefully spread it to others along the way.  With each kind word you send my way my heart skips a beat and the biggest smile spreads across my face & doesn't leave for days.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

It has only been one year but I am already eternally grateful. I can’t wait to see what the future has in store - I'm going to keep writing, keep traveling, keep exploring, keep creating, keep connecting - and I'll share it here with anyone who feels like stopping by...

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July 26, 2013

Family Treasures on a Happy Friday

It is indeed a Happy Friday for me, as I hope it is for all of you.  Fridays are always good since they lead us into the weekend, but this Friday I'm particularly tickled pink - or should I say blue?

Have you ever received something so meaningful that it makes your heart skip a beat?  Well that's what happened to me this week.  I am now the lucky, humbled & proud owner of the beautiful blue chest of drawers pictured below.  This piece was not only in my mother's bedroom when she was a child, but it originally belonged to my great grandfather, lovingly referred to as "Macaw." The name Macaw comes from my mother's attempt to say the word "Grandpa" when she was just a little tyke learning how to speak. Macaw passed away decades ago, long before I was ever born, but my mom & all her siblings have always spoken so highly of him.  It's easy to see how much he meant to all of them, and I know I would have felt the same had I had the chance to know him.  I've even been told that my ability to draw life-like portraits comes from him, which makes my heart skip about a hundred more beats...

Anyone who knows me well can attest to the fact that I am a sentimental being when it comes to all things family. One of the reasons I love my little apartment in Chicago so much is because I have filled it with things that hold great sentimental value for me.  I have blueprints that my late grandfather sketched of my mom's childhood home which hang in my living room; original black & white photographs from the 1940's of my grandparents during their courtship in Iowa; a print done by my uncle Matt when he was in college; a headboard made by hand by one of my aunts; a feather & wood bird illustration that hung in my grandmother's laundry room, and a wooden moon wall hanging that belonged to my father's mother - just to name a few...

I am very lucky to have these items in my home, and my heart is filled with happiness every time I think about the meaning & history behind each one.  There is no greater gift to me than something with true meaning or a story behind it - something that has survived generations & could tell endless tales if only it could speak...♡

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July 23, 2013

Healthy Chive & Dill Summer Potato Salad

It's been a little while since I've posted a recipe; after being in NYC all weekend (another great trip) I was ready to relax & unwind by making a good dish from scratch.  I completely indulged all four days I was in New York, so I knew I wanted to make something that was light, summery & healthy - enter this healthified potato salad with fresh herbs that uses 0% Greek yogurt as a base instead of mayonnaise (and it still tastes awesome). I paired this dish with some lightly seasoned chicken breasts I grilled up last night with a little fresh lemon.  It was the perfect meal to enjoy on my back deck as I watched the sun set.  I hope you try it yourselves - you'll definitely enjoy!

The main attraction


Fresh ingredients

Colorful bunch

Stir it up

Chop away


Add caption

That's one good lookin' potato salad

Healthy Chive & Dill Summer Potato Salad

Serves 4-6 people

- 10-12 medium red, blue & yellow potatoes, skin kept on & diced into about 3/4 inch pieces (you can use any kind of potato you prefer, really - I just love the taste & colors of the combination suggested)
- 3 eggs, hard boiled & diced into small chunks
- 1/2 cup diced yellow onion
- 1 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
- 1 tblsp grainy mustard
- 1 tblsp yellow mustard
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- about 2 tblsp chopped fresh dill
- about 1 tblsp finely chopped chives
- sea salt & ground pepper, to taste


Wash and pat dry potatoes, then dice into 3/4 inch pieces.  Place in a pot and fill with water so all potatoes are covered.  Bring to a boil on the stove, then reduce heat to a soft boil and cook for about 15-20 mins, or until potatoes are soft enough that they could be cut with a fork.  Once cooked, drain water and put potatoes in a large bowl in the fridge to cool while you prepare the other ingredients.

Hard boil eggs together in a pot on the stove - about 15 mins.  Drain water and let eggs cool.

Chop chives, dill & onion and set aside.  Once eggs have cooled, remove shell & chop into small chunks.  In a medium bowl mix together the yogurt & both mustards; add in the sugar, onion, eggs and salt & pepper. Remove potatoes from fridge and sprinkle the fresh chopped herbs over potatoes.  Pour half of the yogurt mixture over the potatoes & stir gently with a wooden spoon.  Pour the other half of the mixture over the potatoes & give it a few more stirs - you want the mixture to be incorporated, but not over-stirred so potatoes break or mash.

Top with additional fresh dill or chives before serving; keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

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July 17, 2013

Say Hello: Maddie the Coonhound, Theron Humphrey & Garrett Cornelison

Friends in the Chicago area - if you have an affinity for dogs, inspiring folks or beautiful photography, then get your behinds to The Book Cellar tonight at 7 pm, or to the downtown DePaul University Bookstore tomorrow night at 6 pm to meet & support Maddie the Coonhound & her human, Theron Humphrey.

Theron, Maddie & my friend Garrett Cornelison are currently touring all 50 states as part of a book tour for Theron's book, Maddie on Things - a beautiful collection of, well, exactly that - Maddie on things. This gorgeous girl has quite a talent for balancing on anything from basketball hoops to fire hydrants, and can also be found posing with & in things, like seasonal getups, sleeping bags & sweatshirts.  You can find all the fantastic photos on Theron's blog: http://maddieonthings.com. Perusing the images he's captured of his sweet-natured pup sends the adorable/awesome meter into overdrive. If the blog doesn't quite fulfill you then check out Theron's instagram feed to be sure you get your complete Maddie fix.

image property of Theron Humphrey | image source: http://maddieonthings.com

image property of Theron Humphrey | image source: http://maddieonthings.com

On their journey across America, the crew is also documenting pet rescue stories as part of a new series called "Why We Rescue" which will cover 50 different rescue stories once completed.  Several stories have already been posted to the website so check them out & click on the "Sign Up" button on the page if you have a story you think should be heard.  To see which states they've already visited and which states they've yet to travel to - including what book stores they'll be making stops at along the way - checkout http://maddieontour.com/.

Garrett Cornelison, a fellow native of Iowa (woop!), is also along for the ride, capturing his own beautiful images and no doubt making new connections & memories with each passing day. Garrett is a talented photographer & designer (check out his website here or his instagram here) who met Theron in the midst of his first project, This Wild Idea, during which Theron traveled to all 50 states for the first time, meeting one new person each day & telling their story through photographs & simple conversation.  In Theron's words, this project represented the belief that "Every one's life is valuable, and every story is worth telling."

Garrett & Maddie | image source: http://maddieonthings.com

It's impossible to deny that this is all pretty inspiring stuff.  The best part?  These guys (and Maddie) are some of the most down-to-earth, fun-loving beings you're likely to meet in this lifetime.  The appreciation & respect they have for their fellow neighbor - human or animal, stranger or friend - is tangible & most certainly something we can all learn from. This past February I was able to very briefly meet Maddie & Theron in Des Moines, just before they took off with Garrett for their nearly year-long road trip, and I'm so looking forward to the book signing tonight to hear Theron tell the story of just how Maddie on Things came to be.  For a little sneak peek, check out the YouTube video below:

It's obvious that these guys do what they do because they truly love it & truly believe in it - that kind of passion is not only inspiring, it's infectious. So do yourselves a favor: make the trip to the bookstore, Say Hello and let yourselves be inspired, then pass it on...

Oh - and if you take photos at either of the Chicago book signings, be sure to tag them with the event hashtag #motIL - see you tonight!

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July 12, 2013

Get Your Goat On - Little Goat Brunch

Brunch is by far & away one of my favorite pastimes.  To me, it's the perfect setting to catch up with friends on all the happenings of life - especially when chilaquiles, a great benedict, a fresh cup of coffee or a tart mimosa are involved.  I've never been a "no carbs" kinda girl, but still, you won't find me perusing the pancakes or french toast section of the menu since they typically run too sweet for my taste.  When it comes to brunch I take the savory route every time.  Occasionally you can sneak a doughnut or pastry in there & I'll bite - which is exactly what happened when I had brunch at Little Goat Diner in the West Loop.  I got my savory fix and I was convinced to try their famous house cinnamon roll - a decision I do not one bit regret...

Not typically a sweets fan, but I couldn't resist this big guy

I ventured out one Sunday morning with my girl Angie (my brunch partner in crime) to satisfy our breakfast cravings closer to the noon hour.  Having heard many good things about Stephanie Izard's newest spot (sister to Girl & The Goat), we made our way over to the West Loop.  This 'hood is definitely a favorite of mine with its industrial feel, brick streets, old warehouses, abundance of street art & incredible food findings, I love spending time in this area any chance I get - and Little Goat Diner fits right in with it's urban throw-back feel.

Little Goat Diner

Kitchen | Little Goat Diner

Main dining room | Little Goat Diner

Even if you don't personally know owner/head chef Stephanie, you get the sense that she is a hardworking, down-to-earth kinda chick.  Both of her restaurants are designed to give customers a peek into the hustle & bustle of the kitchen.  Quite often you'll find Ms. Izard back there laughing with her staff & busting her ass with the rest of 'em, making sure shit gets done.  She has created a place that simply buzzes with goodness, warmth & honesty - a place that makes you want to come back again & again, especially now that Little Goat has opened a rooftop for the summer months.

Counter seating | Little Goat Diner

Expect a bit of a wait when you go for brunch, but head next door to Little Goat Bread to pass the time, where you'll find a fully-stocked bar with a mean bloody mary, fresh baked goods & a full coffee bar that serves up Stumptown Coffee.  When dining at Little Goat I suggest asking for recommendations from your server (something I do no matter where I am), as the menu is robust & can feel a bit daunting - but better too much than too little when you're talking about a brunch menu, yeah?  We went with two of our server's suggestions and were happy that we did.  Check out more photos below - and get yourself to the Goat!

About to get our brunch on

The Ooey Gooey Cinnabun

Bull's Eye French Toast | Eggs, crispy chicken, sweet onion brioche, maple syrup, kumkwats

Brandade and Belly | Brandade, pork belly, sunny side eggs, biscuit, kimchi

A peek into the Brandade and Belly

Coffee bar | Little Goat Bread

Full bar | Little Goat Bread

Pickled things | Little Goat Bread

Freshly baked | Little Goat Bread

Beet bread samples | Little Goat Bread

Sky's the limit | Little Goat Bread

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July 8, 2013

Time at Torch Lake

How was everyone’s 4th of July holiday?  Did you get to spend some time outdoors, on a beach or on the water?  Luckily, I was able to do all of the above over the four days I spent at beautiful Torch Lake in Michigan.  I was the guest of my wonderful, longtime friend Josh & his family at their lake home, and it was the quintessential 4th of July weekend.  Josh & I met in college at the University of Iowa and have managed to hold on to what is now an almost 10-year friendship.  A special bond was formed all those years ago - one that has seen gentle ups & downs, but has also kept each of us afloat & grounded at different points in our lives.  The fact that 2,000+ miles usually separates us on a daily basis doesn't faze us; Josh keeps working toward & living his dream of acting/writing in LA & I am, in the words of Josh, kicking ass in my own life in Chicago.  The moral support we provide each other stretches across all those many miles.  Our appreciation for one another was strengthened after our time spent together this past week, and I know that we have many more years of giving advice, joking around, catching up, trading relationship stories, giving more advice, listening & calling each other out on any bullshit, because that’s what good friends do.  

Me & Josh at the National Cherry Festival in Michigan

Truly admiring & respecting someone for the authentic being they are is a precious gift each & every time we’re able to honestly claim it.  My time at Torch Lake was spent with some genuine souls whom I can now count among such a group - Josh's family.  Though it was my first time meeting most of them, they are a fun, loud, caring, amusing, sincere & loving bunch - just like my own big family - and I felt right at home.  Morning coffee & eggs, cooking with grandma, chats with Josh’s mom, boating with his brothers Ben & Ryan and their friends, teasing & telling jokes, watching fireworks on the dock with cousins & the rest of the bunch...looking back on it the days surely went by too quickly.  I was able to tell a few fun stories about my own family and I introduced the entire crew at Torch Lake to a part of my family that has become a big part of who I am - Tiny But Mighty Popcorn - and man was it a hit!  I handed out bags of Ready To Eat Sea Salt flavor & taught them how to pop our tiny kernels in coconut oil, all while they had me tell & re-tell the story of my Aunt & Uncle and how Tiny But Mighty came to be.  Needless to say we now have quite the loyal following in Michigan :)

Grandma, Mama Woodle, cousins Ella & Nina

Our boating crew, minus Josh's big bro, Ryan, who snapped this photo | L-R: Josh, Ben, me, Brad, Liz & Andy

The past week of my life was certainly an adventure, and I'm so happy I let myself live in the moment. It's life's little (and big) adventures that help mold us into the people we're supposed to be, and it is my belief that we must take adventures to in order to know where we truly belong.  A big thanks to Josh & his family for allowing me to be part of their time at Torch Lake - another adventure for the books...

Ain't she a beaut'? | Torch Lake


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July 5, 2013

Happy 4th Weekend!

Hey all - I have been absent on here, traveling yet again - this time to the beautiful Torch Lake in Rapid City, Michigan.  What a peaceful place.  Somehow it feels sentimental for me - even though I don't have my own family history here I have learned a lot about the wonderful family I'm with & it makes this place feel a bit like home.  Boating, sun, family meals, laughter, lake time, grilling out, fireworks, photo albums, dance parties, little ones & more laughter.  It's been a great few days & I'm going to relish the rest of the time I have left here.  For now here are a few snapshots...

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