Kelly the Culinarian

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Three Things Thursday

1. If you follow me on Instagram, you know we spent a glorious weekend waterparking in Wisconsin. It was supposed to be a break from the cold, but it turned out to be nearly 50 degrees and sunny the whole weekend. It continued into the week. We've been enjoying grilling, washing the cars, sidewalk chalk and popsicles. This whole global warming thing is totally real.

2. Did you catch this story about a runner stepping on a nail deliberately placed on a trail in Tennessee? Who the hell does this? I'm sure this is the sign of someone who will develop into a serial killer. It reminds me of the time I could've gotten killed or maimed because someone thought it was really funny to place thousands of tacks at the top of a formidable hill on the Ironman Wisconsin course. Luckily, only my spirit was damaged, which was a damn miracle.

3. Napoleon has been particularly melancholy this week and we have no idea. This is just a photo of him looking cute. But this morning, he was following us around and staring intently at nothing. So either he isn't feeling great or our house is haunted. Both are equally possible.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Three Things Thursday

1. The glorious day has arrived. We have a Girl Scout in the house who is the right age to sell cookies. My foyer and freezer will never be the same. We're currently sorting and delivering 63 boxes of cookies, which I believe earned her a badge and a notebook. And me about 25 percent more time on the treadmill.

2. My monthly DeGustaBox arrived with some interesting additions. The Nando Peri Peri sauce is already a staple in this house, but these zero-calorie noodles are rather intriguing. I am very curious as to what these things will taste like, and how easy they will be to prepare. Let's find out together!

3. You might be married to a triathlete if your Valentine's Day looks like this. I am so excited - my old handheld waterbottle was all stretched out of shape, and my new Garmin requires a quick release for my bike. Because my bike frame is so small and I already have an aero water bottle, there's no place to put a bike computer or any other type of mount. More about the 920 another day.

Monday, February 13, 2017

First Look for Charity 2017

It was another wonderful year raising money for local charities while stuffing myself silly in the presence of some very fancy cars. #FLFC17 is an annual event that opens up the Chicago Auto Show to a black-tie crowd the night before it opens to the general public. The ticket prices support 18 local charities, and this year raised $2.8 million.

The transformation started with hair:

The lady who did my hair this year was not only talented but super fast. I was done inside an hour.
Then we headed downtown to check into our hotel and continue the whole getting ready process. We clean up well.

The evening started, as it usually does, with snacks and drinks.

And then we moved on to sitting in cars that are worth more than our house. It's nice to dream.

We walked the red carpet again this year:

Before I found my best friend each year, the dude at the Cadillac booth handing out fuzzy slippers.

A few foodie highlights from the evening:

This millionaire's bacon from AceBounce was incredible. I made myself stop at one because it's bacon, after all, but I wanted more.

Poke bowls and Korean barbecue sliders.

Andy's Frozen Custard custom sundaes, a favorite of mine year after year.

Smores bites, because smores + food on sticks is awesome. And I somehow didn't get a photo, but the signature cocktails this year were on point. There was any type of liquor you desire in both sweet and savory applications, as well as wine, champagne and craft beer. These people know how to party!

Photographer, career fluffer, drink transporter
I also somehow collected this lion somewhere along the way, which seems pretty fitting. 

Huge thanks to the Chicago Auto Show for inviting me again this year. While my ticket was comped, the opinions are all my own and trust me, it's as awesome as it looks. Check out my recap from 2015 and 2016 for confirmation.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Three Things Thursday

1. It's been almost exactly two years since I met what would one day be my stepkids. For the uninitiated, here's what life with kids looks like. Three bites from an apple and a kid in the wash machine, because why not. My life will never be the same, in the best way possible.

2. We spent a long weekend in The Villages, which is always an enlightening experience. There's live music and drinks specials every night and people get to and from with super customized golf carts. There are tons of pools to visit and shuffleboard is a legit league sport. Not a bad way to live, that's for sure.

3. I tested my make up for tomorrow's First Look for Charity. I think I'm ready to slay tomorrow.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Three Things Thursday

1. If you follow me on Instagram, you know we're not in Kansas anymore. In fact, I've spent a glorious week in Fort Lauderdale. It's been amazing for so many reasons, not the least of which being we went to a mermaid bar! The Wreck at B Ocean has a mermaid show on the weekends and it's amazing. There's no cover, tickets or drink minimum and these ladies are impressive.

2. We came to Fort Lauderdale to celebrate my mom's birthday (Happy Birthday, Mom!) and since then, I've stayed with family. My aunt made me lunch everyday and man, she should consider this whole food blogging gig. Her plating game is amazing.

3. When my sisters were here, we went to Funky Budha and I'm so glad we did. The place is massive, the food is delicious and the Maple Bacon Coffee Porter is where it's at. This burger was phenomenal, and there was a burrata cheese appetizer that could have been a meal unto itself. 11/10, will eat again.

Monday, January 30, 2017

How We Saved Money at Disney With Kids

It's been almost a year since we surprised the kids with a trip to Disney. Now, there is no way to do Disney on the cheap. It is a Bremuda Triangle for your bank account. Just walk in the door and *poof*, you're $800 lighter than when you started. That said, there are a few things we did to take the sting out of the pricetag of Disney so that we could focus on enjoying the experience rather than dissecting how much we were spending.

First, we chose the low-point of the season. I'd love to say it was intentional, but it wasn't. First, we found cheap airfare, and then we looked to see if we could do two days at Disney. We went right around Martin Luther King Day, which was cold, but the parks were empty and hotels nearby were cheaper.

Next, we ordered gift cards for both kids in advanced through Disney. Each card had $25 on it. The kids could spend it any way they wanted, but when it was gone, it was gone. This eliminating the kids constantly asking for stuff from street vendors or the gift shops that were ubiquitous. We would ask, is that how you want to spend your gift card? It also took the pressure off our family, too, because when you're swept up into the manufactured magic of the moment, it's hard to say no.

B spent his giftcard on this sword
The note from Mickey
Then, we went to WalMart and bought a bunch of Disney stuff in advance. When we arrived at our hotel, we went down to the pool and the kids returned to a note from Mickey Mouse and two small trinkets that were purchased without the Disney mark up. It was a fun memory and gave them T-shirts to wear and souvenirs to remember the trip. They didn't know it was 1/3 the price of everything at the park. I found Disney shirts, notebooks, a kids' handbag and stickers for a grand total of $15.

We packed a bag into the park wisely as well. Each day, I carried into the park a backpack with an empty water bottle, glow sticks, snacks, bandaids, suncreen, ponchos, extra socks, another set of clothes for the youngest and several ziploc bags. Most things are obvious, but the dollar store glow sticks were crucial. When the kids asked for a balloon or some knick knack during the parade for $8 a pop, we gave them 10-cent glow sticks instead. It worked like a charm. And the ziploc bags were great for wet clothes or in the event we bought a snack and couldn't finish it (Mickey pretzels or whatever).

10-cent ponchos in action!

We chose our food splurges wisely. We ate a few things in the park, but we didn't waste our time and calories on stuff that wasn't notable. If we weren't by waffle sandwiches or roast beef-topped macaroni and cheese, we either filled up on snacks to keep going or ate in our hotel room. We had a room with a kitchenette and bought cereal, milk, yogurt, cheese and beer (believe me, this was critical).

Finally, we took advantage of food delivery. After the first night, we were exhausted and undecided on dinner. After going back and forth and reaching a frenzied state of hangry, I called a pizza delivery company. For 1/6 the price of a character dinner we couldn't get reservations for, we were fed, happy and off to bed for another day of adventure.

Waiting for our pizza delivery
Disney is a financial black hole, but there are ways to cut corners here and there. And I'd say we had a more memorable, pleasurable experience as a result.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Three Things Thursday

1. My sister had her birthday party this weekend and we had a blast. We started at Binny's in Lincoln Park and then took a party bus to a few breweries. Hilarity and selfies ensued.

2. Man, the weather this weekend was amazing! On Saturday, we scraped 60 degrees. We washed cars and played outside and generally tried to soak up the sun. We might not see a day like this in Illinois for a while.

3. Founder's, who gave us a lovely wedding gift, had an awesome tasting this week at Mariano's. A representative paired some of their best beers with different cheese I never would have thought to buy. It was a fun night, and only $10. I'm going to have to keep an eye on the events page for Mariano's.