Please go away. Far, far away!

My husband and I were celebrating his 50th birthday at our favorite restaurant. We were seated rock-star, bellied up at the bar. Sipping gin and tonic, noshing on select delicacies from our charcuterie plate, a bedazzled hand reached in front of me and dropped an empty plastic bottle of Smart Water.

Next, the hand that was weighed down with a giant rock, hailed the bartender like a cab. She elbowed me. She complained about the time it took for SERVICE! Clearly, I was in her way and she really wanted a Grey Goose and soda. Her husband was thirsty for pinot noir. This was no average patron. No, I was standing right next to a very entitled, Dago bitch. Wow, lucky me!

I felt like that bitch was on the verge of going all Reese Witherspoon (the new “postal”). I could feel the prickly tension from this lady and braced myself to hear her shout at the totally slammed bartender, “DON’T YOU KNOW WHO I AM? WELL, YOU ARE ABOUT TO FIND OUT BUDDY. I AM AN AMERICAN CITIZEN, STANDING ON AMERICAN SOIL THIS IS MY RIGHT. I NEED A DRINK AND THE SEATS THAT I HAD RESERVED! WHY AM I¬†WAITING??!!??”

Before she could spew the words … bad news! Grey Goose is like so five-years-ago and not on the menu.¬†Frazzled¬†with uncertainty, the lady with the rock on her well manicured finger, was stalled by the intense chore of reading the menu. This required squeezing herself right next to me at the bar. I could smell her odor, feel her arm, she flipped her hair in my face. I was so in her way. What was I thinking? Like, how dare I?

At last, five minutes later, a much needed drink was in her botoxed hand. Just in time to greet her friends who FINALLY arrived. The now expanded party required drinks immediately!!!

Waiting for SEVICE! The important bitch gave her friends and everyone surrounding the bar the skinny. “THIS BARTENDER SUCKS! I AM SO ANNOYED! I CANNOT BELIEVE WE HAVEN’T BEEN SEATED. I AM TALKING TO SOMEONE ABOUT THIS! WE SHOULD BE DRINKING FREE DRINKS!”

One person in the party remarked, “Nice place. What is it? Like Eye-taal-yun?”

“Yes,” said the bitch and scurried off to complain to the host.

I wanted to let her know that she was wrong. The the food at the establishment is Mediterranean. The chef creates small, special¬†plates ment to be shared. The menu regularly changes with fresh, farm-to-table¬†ingredients. Food isn’t fast and doesn’t come off a conveyor belt. The drinks are¬†exquisite¬† and as for the wine list… well, the owner is a sommelier. Chef Boy’r Dee is not in the kitchen.

We asked for the bill and wrote a note to the bartender, warning him that he and the staff might need to get their shit together. What would it be like if this upset lady never came back? She could be the one trickle of hope that would make our little fancy¬†restaurant a big deal. People would fly in from Japan just to sample the eye-tail-young food. They would marvel at the lady with a big rock and botoxed hand. They would request to be near her table. The¬†napkins her party used would be¬†auctioned¬†off and the¬†restaurant¬†would use the proceeds to expand the “stupid communal dining.” Plus, enough change would be left to make a hefty donation to¬†Habitat¬†for Humanity. Wow, our favorite dig could go from stupid and suckie to¬†smashing. I imagined totally being that powerful bitch’s best friend, learning how to be a BIG bitch, and getting lots of free drinks. Bonus.

Seriously folks, I hope she hated the place and complained to all her asshole friends. I want this¬†restaurant¬†to stay special, custom and not some cookie cut bullshit. I want to wait for a well crafted cocktail that is worth waiting for. I’d love to say to that woman, “GET OUT and don’t let the door hit you in your boney ass.”

We just wrote down all the shit she was saying about the staff and passed it to the bartender. He’d deal with them. NEVER piss off a bartender.


If you’re planning to exchange vows this year, don’t pull a Kardashian. In the real world, with our empty piggy banks and flabby bellies, a wedding can be a daunting prospect. When I got married eight years ago, I was broke and out of shape¬†(still am)¬† My fianc√© and I made our A-List of guests, shopped for invitations, checked out some local venues and that’s when it hit me. I couldn’t afford some fairy tale wedding. It was looking more like I’d be wearing a cigar band around my finger and the reception would be¬†at a White Castle.


Uncharacteristically, I had a bridezilla break down. You know, one of those sobbing fits punctuated with¬†unintelligible¬†screaming. ¬†I started to choke and wondered why? Just why? Why is this happening to me? After a while, I couldn’t even remember why I was crying. Then I had big raccoon eyes that made me look pathetic. Next, I reached for the bag of Cape Cod potato chips and hated myself for being self-destructive, eating every last chip and licking the bag. And then I watched the movie Marley and Me (okay, I lied … Marley and Me came out in 2008. I watched some other sad movie) and LOST IT … I could fill three martini glasses with my tears (or maybe that was vodka)! After punching a pillow ten times an amazing thing happened…

I got a proper slap in the face. End of drama! When I calmed down, here’s what I learned:¬†Use everyone you know, including yourself.

My¬†fianc√©e proposed to me in the shower. It was one of those drop the soap moments. Lacking the romantic setting I’d¬†envisioned, I figured that once I wrapped myself up in my luxury (a Costco terry cloth robe), I’d walk into the living room and it would be filled with the ambiance I expected. There would be candlelight, rose petals and a small jazz quartet playing our favorite songs. Chilled champagne¬†would invite me to the moment I’d been waiting for. An engagement ring would sparkle like sunken treasure at the bottom of my crystal glass. Not the case. Where was the ring I wondered? So I asked.

“Rings are a clich√©, I was thinking of planting a tree for us,” said my about to be ex who then spit out a giant goober and blew his nose into the shower.


A tree … that wasn’t going to work. Thanks, but no gracias. I realize not everyone gets a classically elegant ring with, “a cushion modified brilliant diamond encircled by a double row of bead-set diamonds” in a blue Tiffany box (not unless you’re Callista Gingrich). However, I’m still a little old-fashioned. I ¬†was fortunate to inherit my great grandmother’s engagement ring. Small, but somewhat noteworthy. About the size of a petite diamond earring, it’s ¬†hardly “a rock” but it is sentimental and much lighter than a tree. Recycling old jewelry is a super economic trick to getting a beautiful ring and not spending nine months of pay. Jewelers use state of the art design programs to create something new from any old trinket, even a cuff link is fair game.


Yes, Jesus did attend our wedding.

We decided to make the event¬†manageable¬†and elope. Our destination: Costa Rica. To our surprise, when we announced the plan, friends and family urged us to include them on the trip. I wondered how we could afford even a small dinner party for our ¬†posse of swells? The booze bill alone could exceed our Boone’s Farm budget. We knew that to make our wedding a success, we had to call in favors. It was time to get the ball rolling and bring out the naked pictures.

My husband is great friends with a guy who owns a resort in Monte Verde, Costa Rica. As a wedding gift, his buddy promised to charge us only for the cost of food and liquor expenses incurred during the rehearsal dinner and reception. Funny what a photo of his friend hanging out with a midget in a fishnet stocking jumpsuit can provide. GAME ON!


It was time to send invitations. I highly recommend that you save tons of money and make your own cards.¬†It’s easy. If you are not confident about your design skills, try a pre-made kit, like those available at Target.

Prior to meeting my Price Charming, I had to kiss a fair share of repugnant frogs. My husband, a wildlife photographer, has spent a lot of time in Costa Rica the Amazon. For a while, he was well-known for photos of rare frogs. Ironic, because the year before meeting my hubby I went out on several dates where I was gifted a frog. At a Mardi Gras party, my date put a frog-beaded necklace around my neck. Another suitor gave me a crystal frog. We decided to use the frog reference on our invitations.

On one side of the invitation was a photo that Greg shot of the rain forest, At the bottom of a tree, we photoshopped a photo of two toy frogs who were obviously in love (awww). The reverse side had a brief shout out of: Greg Neise and Erin Butler to wed June 23, in Costa Rica. For details check out our web site.

Greg built a site outlining all the details, tickets, accommodations and a fantastic itinerary (one of his former jobs was as a travel agent specializing in Costa Rica). We included links to a variety of activities and amusements. The site was filled with his amazing photos of the wedding site.


See? It all worked out.

I bought my dress at Nieman-Marcus, on sale in the formal attire section‚ÄĒNichole Miller gown that was just over $100. It looks like a “wedding” dress, but I knew I couldn’t set foot in some bridal¬†boutique¬†without spending thousands of dollars. Seems kind of silly to blow that kind of coin on a dress that gets worn once and in the end, stained with wine. I asked that everyone going to the wedding wear white, and in my mind, they were all my attendants. Friends and family were spending money to join us in Costa Rica, I hardly felt it would be fair for me to tack on the cost of bridesmaids dresses and suits for the men.


Figure out what’s important. For me, it was food,¬†champagne, and atmosphere.

Rather than host some huge blow-out wedding, have a small group of intimate friends and very close relatives celebrate your day at a favorite¬†restaurant. Who wants a dried up chicken breast and rice¬†pilaf? Typically, it will run 100 to 300 dollars a head to have a mundane wedding with suckie food. You can work a deal out with the¬†restaurant¬†manager and usually get some perks added … maybe even BYOB. If you combine the¬†ceremony¬†and reception space, you’ll save even more.

Or hire someone to cook. We had a grill master man-up lobster tails and steaks (lobster and steak is remarkably affordable in Costa Rica). A buffet table filled with salads and veggie sides sealed the meal. To this day, my friends still talk about how great dinner was.


It will be perfect if you don’t expect it to be. My mother, a talented floral designer was in charge of floral arrangements for the wedding. A van with our¬†anticipated¬†flowers rolled up to the lodge. The Spanish speaking men opened the door to unveil buckets filled with bubble gum pink carnations. No joke. My mother looked at me and with confidence said, “Mama will fix!”

She and friend Marsha disappeared in the jungle and returned with beautiful flowers and giant leaves that they used as plate chargers. My mom bought bags of limes which she incorporated with the flowers in vases. We also brought with simple, white table clothes from home. The trick is to make them extra long and puddle the excess fabric on the floor. Trés chic!

The Chicago Tribune actually ran a feature story about our wedding and they had no idea about our shoestring budget. The party went off without a hitch and appeared to be lavish. Total cost¬†incurred,¬†just¬†over $2,000. I soon realized that the problem too many couples have with planning a wedding is taking it too seriously. Use my life raft tips and don’t go into debt. Chill-lax and feel the love! I still do to this day.

That’s not all folks!

In addition, my best friend photographed the wedding, another shot video and performed a dance. We created a play list of our favorite music to blast at the reception. When I walked down the aisle, everyone sang, “Here comes the bride.” My friend Mina was my flower girl, because her name means “flower” in her native tongue. Wow, and after writing this I’m getting a little choked up. Gotta go find me some tissues. xo.

I wasn't kidding about that: Chicago Tribune, July 27, 2003.

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat…

Please put a penny in the old man’s hat. If you haven’t got a penny then a half penny will do. If you haven’t got ¬†a half penny, then¬†Buddha¬†bless you. I love the spirit of Christmas…giving gifts, gathering with family, friends and making a chilly winter day feel campfire warm. This is one holiday that I rarely host and if you are lucky like me, I would like to share some tips for being a treasured guest.

I wouldn't show up at a holiday party dressed like this, but my husband says, "I'd vote for her in a second!" That's Krystal Ball, who ran for Congress in Virginia last year. Google her.

First of all, don’t be a lush. Last week, ¬†I went to a fancy holiday¬†soir√©e at the type of residence that has staff and shit.¬†¬†There was a 30 foot Christmas tree, a swell crowd, an impressive ¬†spread ¬†of sushi, cupcakes and gourmet cheeses. I spent the night swilling Veuve Clicquot¬†like it was fresh lake water that I found in the Sahara Desert. Suddenly, the bubbly got the best of my Irish and I had a conversation with a friend that went like this:

“You know, I’ve always thought you were cool. Well, except one night when we were all at Pint and I got stuck in a corner talking to you. I was thinking, ‘He’s okay, too bad he smells like dog shit.’ Then I went home and went to take off my shoes and they were covered in dog poop. To think, the whole time I was the¬†culprit. [insert loud snort and slap on his shoulder that almost knocks him down] So, I just want to clear things up and let you know that I don’t smell like dog crap. You can smell me. I smell like some expensive perfume that I just sprayed all over myself in [the host’s] bathroom.”

I’m pretty sure he walked away. So, I picked up some random camera and started taking about 35 photos of myself making drunk kissie faces.

Don’t be that girl or guy. It’s not very sophisticated. I get a free pass for being the Slacky Hipster, but you’re not me.

Do! Dress up … I’m wearing Rachael Roy dresses at every holiday occasion. Her line is super affordable at full price, but almost everything goes on sale. Check it out at Macy’s. Dressing smart sends a signal to the host that you’ve prepared for the party and appreciate the invitation. Bling is in … feathers, fur, sequins, and fabulous accessories. Men, just make sure there is no dog shit on your shoes and wear a suit jacket or stylish shirt, cardie combo. Oh and never ever wear cheap shoes. Your feet will thank you and so will I.

Cheeseburger in a can ... always in style!

Do! Bring a small gift. Here are some ideas: remote control¬†helicopters … perfect to deliver drugs to party patrons (JK, I’m so Betty Ford). Cool ornaments, like those from Jonathan Adler … also, Bloomingdales has very mod d√©coupage¬†ornaments¬†with city scenes. I love them (and they’re a¬†terrific¬†buy). For the host who loves to cook, a box of spices from a Spice House or Penzey’s is a winner. Another hit: cutting board topped with an appetizer and cheese knife. Friends can enjoy the treat and the host will love adding equipment to their kitchen. Perfect for the host on New Years Eve idea is to make a meal to be consumed the next day … bloody mary mix, vodka,¬†Advil, an icepack and a¬†cheeseburger¬†in a can (or a box of sliders).

You can never ever go wrong with a bottle of Veuve Clicquot or bourbon. Especially bourbon.

Follow up with a thank-you or an apology. A written note or phone call goes a long way. Sometimes, I send a book that I’ve talked about with the host at the party. This way, the next time I see them I can immediately talk about the book, rather than how I was drinking champagne in a pint glass, stole perfume, and waked out the door with shit on my shoes.

Smack talk!

It’s about to get ugly with Da’ Bears vs. the down and dirty Packers playing far from nice tomorrow! ¬†Chicagoans¬†are ready to see the Bears shake up the bad guys and stomp them into¬†stinky¬†cheese submission. I can hardly wait! Here are my rules for enjoying a safe, fun, sleaze free game.


Rivalry is an adrenalin rush! I’m all about cheering the Bears to¬†victory, but truth be told the Packers are a fine team. The question is….can the Bears DO IT? My money says yes indid-a-lee deed! ¬†We hate the Packers because we can and¬†Chicagoans¬†are hard core about their loyalty. That’s why it¬†strikes¬†me as being odd that I ¬†actually know and act nice to a few Packer fans. One of which is my boss! This¬†behavior¬† is a direct contradiction to the way I was raised and no doubt a¬†scandal¬†in my family. I went to the September 11 Bears game with my family and while my Dad was driving us to the game, he asked my husband Greg, “So, what’s with your ONE [implied, stupid] friend who is a Packers fan? I’ve noticed a lot of interaction with you two on Facebook, ¬†Where does he live?”

“He’s on the north side of Chicago.” Greg says.

“Really?? … so what’s he doing¬†rooting for the Packers?” Dad asks [clearly popping veins in his neck].

“Well [uncomfortable] he’s from Green Bay, so ya gotta cut him some slack.”

In the rear view mirror, I caught my Dad’s obvious¬†disappointment.

Proper attire is a must when the team owner pops into the skybox to say hello!


Every tense moment needs a diversion … So here are my tips about being a class act fan and not some cheese-head!

Let’s start with appropriate attire. Football is better than casual Friday, but be careful not to get carried away. There is a fine line between “representing” and looking the fool. ¬†Do not glove your hand with foam, paint your face, or wear diapers. This is a no-no and a slap in the face to all that is feng shui! This Sunday I’ll have on a short¬†sleeved, classic Bears t-shirt, ¬†layered under a royal blue … (Three Dots, made in the USA) ¬†long cardigan, paired with worn out Levis and yes, I’ll admit it, I have Ugg slippers. Gotta love the Aussies and their, “no worries.”

My husband could give a flying crap about football fashion and will probably make fun of me. He likes to say, “Oh look honey, it’s September 1st, time to put on your Uggs.” Oh and btw, Old Navy has super cute NFL shirts!



Now that wardrobe is in order, plan a nosh friendly¬†¬†menu. Hopefully, I’ll burn off a lot of calories with my amazing couch potato, cheerleading skills. I’m sure that screaming for Devin Hester to score another¬†touchdown, while dipping a chip will keep me buff this winter.

I’ll admit that half of my love for football is the excuse to eat all sorts of fun grub.This Sunday will start with (good-morning!)¬†Gnocchi with Eggs, Mushrooms, and Green Onions and Bloody Marys!¬†Gotta wonder what those low¬†lifes¬†in Wisconsin are planning …a bowl of Doritoes and probably more heart attack platters, Homer Simpson style… “Just take the tray of food and throw it in the deep fryer.” Yum.

So this is what’s on deck….(Greg’s making chili with duck … recipe¬†to follow, after he’s concocted it). This is what I’m making:

Gnocchi with Eggs, Mushrooms, and Green Onions

Gnocchi with Eggs, Mushrooms, and Green Onions

1 package of  sweet potato gnocchi
Olive oil

Portabella mushrooms
2 cloves garlic chopped  and smeared like a paste(if using mushrooms)
5 eggs
5 stalks of green onion, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1-2 tbsp of butter (optional)
Truffle oil (optional)

fresh chives, parsley and a quarter cup of parmagain cheese

If using mushrooms, take a non-stick skillet (large enough to hold gnocchi in one layer), and heat a couple of tbsp of olive oil and chopped garlic. Add chopped mushrooms and sauté until tender. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove cooked mushrooms and reserve.

Add gnocchi to skillet, add enough water to cover gnocchi maybe half way up. Don’t worry if you add too much water; you can let the excess evaporate later. Add a drizzle of olive oil. Cover with lid and let it steam. While the gnocchi is cooking, beat the 5 eggs in a bowl.

Once the gnocchi looks like they have been rehydrated and are soft, take the lid off and let the excess water cook off. You’ll notice the liquid get thicker too. Add chopped green onions to the skillet and let cook for a little bit. Add reserved mushrooms. Add beaten eggs and stir until eggs are cooked through.

Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Add a dollop of butter to give it some richness. Drizzle with truffle oil if you have any on hand. Olive oil works too. Enjoy!


Entertaining with cheese and bacon… works like a charm!

Maybe it’s the Boone’s Farm slushie talking, but when I entertain, It’s not¬†unusual¬†for my compadres to have a little pow-wow and and try to talk me into opening a¬†restaurant. I let them down easy every time and tell them there’s too much¬†competition¬†now that Culver’s is right¬†across¬†the street from my wine garden. Can you say, ‘BUTTER BURGERS?” Nuff said. Sorry folks, but I refuse ¬†create a restaurant¬†empire! Now that I’ve shattered my friends dreams, I feel ¬†a need to give away some treasured tips about how to entertain swell, well, and best of all, cheap!


1. NEVER SHOP AT JEWEL…unless frozen pizzas are on sale

2. Shop for¬†ingredients¬†that are at their season’s peak. I once paid two friken‘ dollars for an apple at Jewel because they were not in season. The cashier said, “Well, gas is expensive!” Whatever. You can fit ¬†a lot of apples in a truck lady..I wasn’t born yesterday.

3. Buy what is on sale. Design your menu around bargain beef, chicken, or whatever.

4. Pork is “in”. Super cheap, so run with the trend. ¬†Even vegans hide in the bathroom to eat bacon. They think no one knows, but I’m on to this. I’m like the all knowing bacon goddess.

5. Start to collect cloth napkins and table cloths. I have a sick collection. Comes in handy.

6. Simple white plates work as a mainstay, but layer your table setting with cool appetizer plates, or dessert plates. I love CB2 and Anthropologie for fun dining accessories.

7. Use ribbons! They make a statement tied around a vase and around napkins.

8. Put some flowers or a succulent¬†plant on the table, please! We’re slacky, not trailer-trash.

8. Put a lottery ticket under everyone’s plate (the fun scratch-off kind). I once had a friend win $60. Bastard.

9. Write your menu on a chalkboard, that way when guests arrive, they know if they need to make a detour to Culver’s. Word to the wise: bacon.

10. Have a cheese plate ready for guests when they arrive. Include a variety of cheeses that you will find in the refrigerated section of a deli…sorry, this is no time for Velveeta. Always include a fig jam and fancy mustard. The only¬†exception¬†to not having a cheese plate is if you are serving Mexican, but I’m poo-pooing that because¬†avocados¬†are way too expensive this year. Screw¬†guacamole, or it will screw you!

11. Set up a do-it-yourself bar, but have a signature drink ready. The whole mixology thing is big.

12. Know your guests’ likes and icks. At my last party, I watched a guest eat an entire jar of¬†pickles¬†and then drink the pickle juice. Going forward, I’ll have plenty of pickles on hand for this guy.

13. If one of your guests is a vegan, don’t dumb it down and serve a veggie burger. Show some class and make a salad with meat-free baco-bits.

Te Cubano

Hey, where the party at? Where that Bacardi at?

Now, let’s start with a drink! The TE CUBANO, created by me.

Wake up and make sun tea (fill a jug with water, add four of your favorite tea bags and let brew in the sun).


1 shot rum
half glass of sun tea
half glass of lemonade
sugar to taste
lemon, mint and lavender garnish
plenty of ice.

Here’s a simple, cheap and elegant ceviche recipe:

2 pounds of shrimp
1 large red onion
3 medium tomatoes
3 cups of fresh orange juice (preferably use sour oranges or you can use Tropicana pure natural orange juice with no pulp)
1 cup of lemon juice (fresh squeezed lemons)
3 tablespoons of ketchup
1 tablespoon of mustard
1 tablespoon of fresh chopped cilantro or parsley
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
Salt and pepper to taste


Ecuadoran ceviche

Boil water salt and pepper in a pan. After it boils, add shrimp. Let it boil for 3 minutes (or until shrimp becomes lightly red) and remove from heat. Pour out water and let shrimp cool. Don’t let them overcook! If they are overcooked, the shrimp will be a little chewy, but still delicious.

Cut the onion into long thing strips -julienne style-. Place them in a bowl with water and 2 tablespoons of salt and let it settle for 10 minutes. Then gently rinse with water. This will remove the bitter bite from the onion and make it sweeter.

Cut tomatoes into small squares.

In a large bowl, mix the onion, tomatoes, orange and lemon juice, ketchup, mustard, cilantro (or parsley), oil, salt and pepper. Once the shrimp has cooled, add shrimp and mix.


Real guys don’t eat quiche, drink lattes or wear True Religion

Yes, this is what he wore to my father's birthday party. Ouch.

I like Hugo Boss, my hubby likes Hawaiian shirts. I like to match my socks with my outfit, Mr. Neise will wear plaids with stripes ( just to annoy me). I like new clothes, Greg likes worn out shirts with holes, stains, and frayed edges.My husband breaks out in hives in a clothing store, and requires a stiff drink after escaping a fitting room. Ironically, he worked high end retail for many years and excelled in sales. Alas, I realize he was single back then, and working the hottie scene.

Eventually, like a victim of¬†water-boarding, I cave in to his horrible sense of style. Now, when he greets me at the door after a long day at the studio, and I see him dressed in a clown outfit, I don’t even flinch. He’s happy, comfortable and super cute. He’s not going to wear True Religion jeans‚Äďever‚Äďbecause Greg really does have his own¬†sense¬†of style and it’s not manufactured.

It all goes back to that old saying, “If you can’t beat em’ join em.” I can’t believe it’s happened, but I actually help supply and stock Greg’s wardrobe. Whenever I see an offensive¬†Hawaiian¬†shirt, I buy it. THIS IS LOVE folks, the real stuff, not some fairy tale. I used to feel that¬†Hawaiian¬†shrits were only appropriate for tiki parties and pig roasts. I guess I was kind of wrong and even sort of snobby.

I mean, who am I to judge? If I piled all of Greg’s shirts up, I could possibly create a¬†volcano and that would be fun, but I won’t go there. Instead, I’ll head over to Target where I can¬†anticipate¬†the Missoni line and grab my hubby another horrible shirt to add to his fabulous collection!

Yes, they have a tree stump table

Last Sunday, I got slacky with my husband, BFFs Katrina, Steve, and their little rug-rats. They invited us over so they could show off! Their house has never been one to snub, but recently they made some cosmetic changes and the end result gets a standing ovation from me. A few years back, the couple purchased a lumbering building, and set out to customize it. Kat, a professional photographer, got tired of schlepping around gear and decided to have an all inclusive photo studio and live in space. It was an incredible task.

Their stylish shack looks like the kind of place where one of the brats from Gossup Girl would live. They have made a large effort to warm up their modern home. Added to the wide open space is swell wallpaper,¬†contemporary¬†furniture, a tiled back splash in the kitchen and a “penny tiled” wall in the kids bathroom. They¬†decorated the place with modern and mid century¬†furnishings. Added to their existing collection of¬†furniture¬†are key,¬†surprisingly¬†affordable pieces from Blue Dot. The rest of their house is arranged with stuff from Design Within Reach, chairs from Room and Board, a little IKEA here and there and throw pillows from CB2. They also stained their hard wood floors¬†mahogany, knocked out some walls and added a glass sliding door that connects the photo studio to the first floor.¬†It has a vibe that makes me want to snap my fingers and be all¬†groovy¬†baby.

As I explore the digs, Kat shares more of her resources with me. “The wallpaper in Augie’s room (the DJ wallpaper) is Aimee Wilder…she is hot shit, and the wallpaper in our bath is Makelike. The upstairs living room is Graham & Brown and the downstairs studio wallpaper is Osborne & Little“, she explains.

I love the orange and brown, boom box, pop wall paper that decorates their toddler son’s room funny enough, their son is wearing a t-shirt that says “I still live with my¬†parents“. ¬†He’s three now, but I can’t help but wonder if he will still wear this at forty! I could hardly talk, let alone stoop drooling. But I had to stop drooling because Steve and Kat had a very important agenda. No, I wasn’t just invited over to eat¬†cheeseburgers¬†and act like a lush. They needed me to move in…be a part of the family! ¬†We flirted with the idea in the past.

I realized that if I had to squat in their space, it would take a little adjusting, I mean, I’d be leaving my husband and my own cool bungalow behind‚ÄĒbut I could feel a¬†sense¬†of urgency. They needed me. Who else would teach the small children how to bartend, play¬†poker, swear and learn the lyrics to every Snoop Dog song?

On second thought, if they weren’t¬†interested that didn’t stop us from having a perfectly¬†swell¬†slacky Sunday! ¬†We taught Kat’s six year old daughter how to shoot with a macro¬†lens¬†and we took creepy pictures of our eyes.The kids kept me busy, forcing me to drink chocolate milk and showing off their drawings. Kat taught me how to make this super yummy cole slaw that has¬†ramen¬†noodles as an¬†ingredient. How slacky is that?

I think the kid wants a doggie...

Oriental Coleslaw recipe
2 – 1 pound bags of cole slaw or broccoli slaw (or similar amount of cabbage, red cabbage, carrots, broccoli, etc. that you process yourself)
1 bunch of green onions chopped

2 packages of Ramen noodle seasoning
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
¬Ĺ cup sugar
¬Ĺ cup¬†vegetable¬†oil
pepper, to taste
2 packages Ramen noodles, broken up (Don’t use beef flavor)
4 oz. package of almond slivers (toast these lightly in the oven or a skillet)
4 Tbs sesame seeds

Combine salad ingredients and dressing ingredients separately. Toss salad with dressing and crunchies right before serving.

Do not add dressing until just before ready to serve. If taking this dish away from home, transport the dressing and the noodles/seeds/nuts in a separate container.