Saturday, February 28, 2015

Life With A Side Of Coffee's Top 5 Posts of February

1. Announcing #BloggersTakeTheOscars - Two blog friends and I decided to host a blogger Oscars party which was also a Twitter party. This post had all of the details and announced it officially even though we'd been hinting on social media. You guys loved this post and I'm guessing the idea because the Twitter party was awesome and this post was popular all month long.

2. Eating Out For A Great Cause - Earlier this month I had the opportunity to interview Chef Tiffany Tooker from Pheasant Run Inn & Resort. She is head chef for both Jambalaya and Harvest which have amazing menus. They were the Restaurant of the Month for the Ovarian Cancer Symptom Awareness Organization which means that a percentage of the proceeds from the dish they designated benefit the organization. It's a great cause and the Mushroom Ravioli was fabulous.

3. A Day At The Auto Show With Chevrolet - A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend the press day at the Chicago Auto Show with Chevrolet. We learned about the new 2016 Equinox, 2015 Colorado and Chevy Volt which I am in love with. We got to interview some of the execs from Chevrolet and it was a great learning experience for me.

4. Oscars Ballot and Trivia Questions #BloggersTakeTheOscars - Last week I posted a ballot that I designed for the #BloggersTakeTheOscars viewing party and some trivia questions to use at your own party and it was a hit. I'm glad you guys liked this post because that ballot took me quite a bit of time and I'm proud of it. I'm thinking about starting to design more printables. What do you think about that?

5. Going Back In Time With Coyle & Herr - I was invited to the Coyle & Herr warehouse at the end of January here in Chicago and just about fell in love with the place. It was so fun meeting the women behind the scenes and browsing through all of the neat finds. It's kind of like jumping through time portals in a way.

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Friday, February 27, 2015

Friday Coffee #15

Link Love
On-the-Go Breakfast Muffins - The Girl Who Ate Everything

Chicago: First Wives Club
What: In First Wives Club, based on the smash hit 1996 film and Olivia Goldsmith’s bestselling novel, three former college friends reunite to find that they have more in common than their alma mater! Ditched by their respective husbands for younger women, they band together to settle scores with the men who did them wrong. Featuring a new book by Linda Bloodworth Thomason (Designing Women), known for having created some of popular culture’s most empowered female characters, songs – both original and classic – by Motown legends Holland-Dozier-Holland, and direction by Simon Phillips (Priscilla, Queen of the Desert: The Musical), First Wives Club is a hilarious and inspiring story about friendship at its strongest… and revenge at its sweetest.
When: February 17 - March 29, 2015
Where: The Oriental Theatre
Cost: Tickets start at $45.51

Chicago: The Book of Mormon
What: The Book of Mormon returns to Chicago after have an incredibly successful first-run. The New York Times calls it “the best musical of this century.” The Washington Post says, “It is the kind of evening that restores your faith in musicals.” And Entertainment Weekly says, “Grade A: the funniest musical of all time.” Jon Stewart of The Daily Show calls it “a crowning achievement. So good it makes me angry.” It’s THE BOOK OF MORMON, the nine-time Tony Award® winning Best Musical from the creators of South Park.
When: February 25 - May 17, 2015
Where: Bank of America Theatre, 18 West Monroe
Cost: Tickets start at $56.66

Chicago: The Hot Sardines with Special Guest Mipso
What: See the Hot Sardines perform live at City Winery with special guest Mipso. Let me know if you're going and we can grab a drink. I'll be there!
When: March 2, 2015, 6:00 - 8:00PM
Where: City Winery, 1200 West Randolph Street
Cost: Tickets range from $12-$18

Chicago: For the Record Presents Dear John Hughes
What: The hit Los Angeles For The Record series breathes new life into the movies by adapting the works and movie soundtracks of iconic directors into a theatrical concert setting. “For The Record: Dear John Hughes” includes acclaimed coming of age 1980′s teen films Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Weird Science, Pretty In Pink, Some Kind of Wonderful and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. 2015 marks the 30th anniversary of the release of The Breakfast Club, the John Hughes classic which epitomizes one of the most influential pop cultural contributions of our time and changed the way many young people looked at everything from class to friendship, love to sex and fashion to music. These themes are explored throughout “For The Record : Dear John Hughes” by this ‘brat pack’ for the modern age that includes leading talent from stage, the recording world and screen as well as rising stars – all embodying iconic movie characters and giving them new musical voices. The immersive concert mash-up, where iconic music and moments from the John Hughes’ movies spring to life with an epic new wave inspired soundtrack, includes songs such as “Don’t You Forget About Me”, “We Are Not Alone”, “If You Leave”, “Pretty In Pink”, “If You Were Here”, “True” as well as classic moments like “Danke Shoen”, “Twist And Shout”, “Try A Little Tenderness” and many more. 
When: March 5 - 15, 2015
Where: Broadway Playhouse at Watertower Place, 175 East Chestnut Street
Cost: Tickets start at $44.10

Movies Music & TV
Selena Gomez and Zedd released a song this week and it's amazing!! I love her and I thought she was taking a break from music but she's not. I'm so excited for them to do more work together. I'm not an EDM person but I really like Zedd. What do you guys think?

Kelly Clarkson released another single this week titled "Piece By Piece." She never fails to amaze me with her vocal range and talent. I like that she's back to pop but, let's be honest, we all love our "Since You've Been Gone" and "Miss Independent" Kelly. What do you guys think of her new song?

One last music update, Holly Elle released a new song titled "Lose Control." Check it out below!

Celebs & Hollywood
Congratulations to Naya Rivera and her husband Ryan Dorsey on their pregnancy! They announced it this week through an adorable Instagram post.

A photo posted by Naya Rivera Dorsey (@nayarivera) on

If you have an event that you'd like listed in Friday Coffee and the Upcoming Events page or you have information that you think would be appropriate for the rest of the Friday Coffee series, email lifewithasideofcoffee [at] gmail [dot] com.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Cooking with Stanley Week #7

Cooking With Stanley Week 7 Menu
Appetizer: Bruscetta with Tomato
Main Dish: Penne with White Sauce

Welcome back to the food side of Cooking With Stanley! This is a super late post but I was determined to get it up on Wednesday no matter what time it was. These last two days have been amazing but they've been super busy. So please excuse any typos because I'm pooped. I'm currently sitting on the couch in comfy clothes with the pup at my feet and a brownie sundae listening to John Splithoff who I saw open for Leighton Meester last night and fell in love with immediately. His voice is incredible. Anyway, let's get to some food, shall we?

This week and next have very simple menus just because of the situation. My first weekend back at The Tucci Cookbook, it was only me and my aunt so there wasn't really a point to putting together a full on meal. Instead I just whipped up the quick stuff which was totally fine. These have been really long weekends lately and I'm desperate for some downtime. For an appetizer, I made the Bruscetta with Tomato. We are huge bruscetta people in this house. I felt like I had high expectations and was really nervous to be honest. It turned out really well though. It was very simple and easy which I love and I made sure not to be light on the garlic.

For the main course, we had Penne, whole wheat to be exact, with White Sauce. I'm not a huge fan of the rich, white sauce just because it's so heavy. This was good but I could have added a little extra salt. This would have paired nicely with a garlicky chicken. It would have added a little more flavor and depth but I didn't plan very well during this particular week.

That's about it for this week's Cooking With Stanley. Short and sweet is the way to go this week. What have you been up to? Anything exciting?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Junior Council's Snowball For The Kids

Photo Credit: Samantha Rolin
About a month ago, I wrote a post about an upcoming event in Chicago I would be attending earlier this month. It was the 27th Annual Snowball event hosted by The Junior Council here in Chicago at Union Station. This was my first black tie event or "ball" as some people would call it and I was thrilled they invited me to join them for the evening. I raided my closet looking for something to wear and I got to go shoe shopping which was pretty awesome. More importantly, I had a really fun night out with friends all for a good cause. Sadly, I did not get any good pictures from the night. I have one photo from someone else that is a fuzzy mess. But less about me and more about what happened...

Snowball is a black tie event for young professionals to come together, dance, eat and have a good time while raising money for the Pediatric and Adolescent AIDS and HIV Programs at Robert and Ann H Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago. This year they raised over $200,000. That's absolutely incredible. I'm just thrilled I was even able to be a part of this event. Through the generosity of guests, supporters, and sponsors, this donation makes it possible for children with HIV/AIDS, regardless of their ability to pay, to have access to high-quality pediatric healthcare. This is something everyone should be proud of. 

Can we talk about the food really quick? Tons of restaurants participated at Snowball making for one heck of a spread. There was everything from sliders to cupcakes to pizza. Everything was fabulous and my only regret was that I didn't eat more! They had a whiskey tasting and sushi bar. It was incredible. Being the foodie that I am, I was impressed. If only I could eat like royalty every day.  I particularly enjoyed pulled pork slider cups from a restaurant I cannot remember. It was literally everything you have on a pulled pork sandwich minus the bread inside a mini cup. I loved the spread from Cafe Ba Ba Reeba but then, I'm a huge fan of the restaurant already. 25 Degrees has the best burgers which was not a surprise at all. I went against my anti-cake tastebuds and had a baby cupcake from Sprinkles. I still took the frosting off though. Hutch also had a really great spread that we actually waited for. We stood by the table as they were setting up. I wasn't going to miss out on that.

Entertainment was provided by Rod Tuffcurls and the Benchpressers. This might very well be my new favorite band. They were amazing and such a blast. I loved their set list. It was a mixture of oldies, current hits, remixes, all of it. I had a moment with the guitar guy during "Tiny Dancer," one of my favorite songs of all time. Don't get any ideas, it was just a mutual love for the song. It could have totally been one-sided too. I get really into Elton John. They also played the theme song to Pokemon from the original 90s show, "Stand By Me" and Boyz II Men. There is honestly nothing they can't do. They're supposed to be playing at a bar downtown soon and I really want to see them again. If I ever get married, I might just hire them. I wish I had videos to share but sadly, I do not. 

I will leave the rest of this post to photos because, as they say, a photo is worth a thousand words. Were you at Snowball this year? Have you been to a Black Tie event before?

If you couldn't make it to Snowball because you were busy or don't live in Illinois, you can donate to their cause here. What they're doing is amazing and I encourage you to support them any way you can, even if it's just sharing a link. These kids deserve the best chance we can give them.
Photo Credit: Jose Santana
Photo Credit: Samantha Rolin
Photo Credit: Jose Santana
Photo Credit: Samantha Rolin
TKL Photography LLC, All Rights Reserved
TKL Photography LLC, All Rights Reserved
TKL Photography LLC, All Rights Reserved
TKL Photography LLC, All Rights Reserved

LWASOC & Friends February Giveaway!

Good morning! I hope you are feeling slightly more energetic than me this morning. I get to go and do my taxes this morning with our family accountant. Just thinking about dealing with numbers gives me a headache. I can't even handle this. Anyway, good news for you guys, today the monthly giveaway goes live! Five lovely ladies and I all came together for a $60 Target gift card! I bet any of you could use this. It's good for groceries, makeup, clothes, office supplies, toys, whatever. So good luck!!

Enter to win below! GOOD LUICK!!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, February 23, 2015

Weekly Eats #6

Welcome back to Weekly Eats! We went an extra week without this post because I was super busy and, honestly, not cooking. But I have been on fire the last two weeks and hopefully it will stay like this from now on. I'm happy to report I've gotten mostly good feedback for what I've been making but who cares because I've loved it and I've had leftovers for lunch quite a few times which has been nice. This post is also a day late because I was swamped with the #BloggersTakeTheOscars party yesterday. It went really well and we had a great time but let me tell you, I'm pooped. I could not have slept deeper and I can seriously use a nap right now. With that said, let's get this show on the road.

Mexican Skillet Casserole via The Lean Green Bean: My first week back at cooking, I was determined to make good meals on a budget. I read an article that said making similar meals will cut your grocery bill because you're using a lot of the same ingredients. This is true. My bill was under $40 and these meals were delicious. This casserole was super easy to make and it was a hit in the house. I kept the meat mixture and the rice separate because we have a picky eater that doesn't like to mix food but other than that, this is a super easy one-pot dish.

Black Bean Salsa Stuffed Sweet Potatoes via The Lemon Bowl: I love these sweet potato recipes because they're perfect for nights when I only cook for myself and they're not super messy (I hate clean-up). This was really tasty. It was maybe four ingredients and mixing the salsa was a quick five minute thing towards the end of the sweet potato's cooking time.

Crock Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup via Lauren's Latest: Everyone was skeptical about this meal. I got lots of faces when I put this on the table but it turned out to be a hit! Everyone liked it and we have a container in the freezer still for a night when we're all too busy to be cooking. 

Ham & Gruyere Apple Panini via Weeknights with Giada by Giada De Laurentiis: This recipe came from my cookbook by Giada but I found the recipe online in case you want to try it. I made a small substitution in this sandwich. I used Havarti instead of Gruyere cheese because I couldn't find some at the store for less than $10 and that seemed a little ridiculous for one sandwich. I wasn't about to do that. This was really good. I love adding fruit in unexpected places because it bumps the flavor profile. This was such an easy dinner too.

Tuna and Red Pepper Patties via Lauren's Latest: I'll be honest, I was a huge skeptic when I was making these patties. First, I was a little concerned about cooking tuna. As I was mixing the tuna, I felt that it was super watery. I was convinced they were going to fall apart or just not turn out well. They were pretty good though! Next time, I think I'd add cheese to give it even more flavor. The original recipes makes a tartar sauce as well but none of us like tartar sauce in this house. I paired this with some simple veggies I got in the freezer section at the store.

Skillet Pasta with Sausage via Taste and Tell: This was bomb. Seriously, the best pasta skillet I've made in a while. It was so creamy and bursting with flavor and I didn't use any bad ingredients. It was a hit with everyone else too minus the carrots. I honestly don't know what the people in this house have against carrots. They're way better than celery...

Crockpot Meatballs via The Lean Green Bean: This recipe has been on my radar for a while. We had the pasta skillet the night before so I was trying to think of what I could do with the meatballs instead of just eating them as, well, meatballs. So I picked up some sub buns and we made sandwiches! Everyone loved these. They were really, really good and so filling. I just paired them with some fresh bell peppers. Sometimes the simple and understated meals are the best ones.

Red Potato, Sausage and Rosemary Fontina Pizza via Foodie Crush: Since the last time I made a different sort of pizza didn't go over well, I made this on a night when it was just my aunt and I. I loved this pizza. I thought it was delicious but she wasn't too thrilled. My friend Katie liked it though so I know it wasn't terrible. I would honestly love to make it again, I just don't want to deal with slicing potatoes.

What have you been eating lately? Did you watch the Oscars last night? Please tell me you agree that they should start the show earlier from now on. They always go over and people gotta work in the morning!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Happy National Margarita Day!!

Happy National Margarita Day! I bet lots of you are celebrating this holiday. It's a bit early right now but I have a pretty darn good recipe for you to use this afternoon, The World's Freshest Margarita. There are literally three ingredients, four if you use salt. You can't mess this up and you can't go wrong with such a simple and fresh recipe. Drink up people!

The World's Freshest Margarita
2 parts Milagro Silver
3/4 parts agave nectar
1 part fresh lime juice

Shake well. Strain over fresh ice in a rocks glass and garnish with a lime. Add salt, if desired.

*Photo Credit and Recipe Thanks to Milagro Tequila

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Mikky Ekko Time Review

source: Idolator via Google Images
Ok, so I may only give you two album reviews instead of three but ambition is good. Yes? The same day Fall Out Boy dropped American Beauty/American Psycho, Mikky Ekko released Time. This is Mikky's first official album and it caught my attention in a big way. You might recognize him from his collaboration on "Stay" with Rihanna. I'm not sure where to categorize him in music which is something I love. There is no label to put on him. He could be considered pop, alternative, indie or electronic. Some songs he sounds slightly like Jack's Mannequin which probably explains why I was attracted to him. They're one of my favorite bands. But on the other hand he has a lot of soul in his music making him sound completely different. Let's break down Mikky's album. There are no categories to fit his songs into so I'll go through one by one briefly.

"Watch Me Rise" is a great first song. It's such a powerful song and the message is empowering. "Smile" sounds like a happy song but it's really a sad song. "Smile, the worst is yet to come. We'll be lucky if we ever see the sun." It's deceptive but beautifully written. I love when lyrics have substance, even if they're not particular positive. "Love You Crazy" has an R&B feel to it. This song in comparison to the first two is why I feel that you can't categorize Mikky as an artist. Each song is different from the last and I love it. "U" has a unique sound to it. I can't decide if it's a ballad or not. It feels like a Justin Timberlake meets John Legend kind of song. It shows of Mikky's falsetto which is flawless. "Time" feels like a One Republic song and it's probably one of my favorites off of the album. It has a great build from the beginning to the end that I really enjoyed. I'm comparing Mikky to a lot of other artists and bands but let me say this really quick to clarify. He has his own sound and it's so original and different that I can't help but compare him to try and figure out where he belongs. That's the beauty of his music though. He has gospel influence and potentially soul but his songs are modern which gives it an edge other artists don't really have. I respect that and really admire it. 

"Riot" is much different than all of the songs before it on the album. It's very alternative rock and roll. I really like this song. It's great if you need to get pumped up. "Mourning Doves" is not one of my favorites off the album. It's slowed down and smooth but I was slightly bored listening to it. The breathiness is too much for me. "Burning Doves" is potentially the second part to "Morning Doves?" I could just be making that up. I do like this song better though. It has a better beat and sound to it. It's also very strong vocally. The lyrics, again, are beautiful. "We're too young to die today...but we're too broken to fly away." I'm curious to see if he was the writer of this album, if he worked with other people or if they were all written by someone else. I'll be looking that up after I post this. Comment below if you'd like to know. "Comatose" is a song about broken love. I like this ballad. It's beautifully sad. This feels like it could have been co-written by Sia.

Almost there guys! "Pull Me Down" has an old school feel in the instrumentals but his vocals are tender. The whole package is surprisingly smooth. "Made of Light" starts out feeling like an Ellie Goulding song but turns into a powerhouse vocally. I really like this song. I'm going to round up at the end all of the artists I've compared him to. I have a feeling that will be a good laugh. ""Loner" is a slow but catchy song. It's not a favorite of mine but I can see this one all over the radio. It feels slightly like a song by The Script. "Pressure Pills" is interesting. I'm not sure how I feel about this song. It's very different. You have to listen and decide for yourself. Let me know what you think about this song. I'm really interested to know. Last but very not least, "Pretend You Care" comes in super strong. This has an edgy feel to it and I love it. He began and ended the album very well. I would even dare to say that this would be a really great song to dance to. 

Overall, I was very impressed with Mikky Ekko's first album. I wouldn't mind seeing him in concert. The music on his album is so diverse, you can't possibly get tired of it. Every song is completely different. Ok, now let's list all the artists I compared him to or mentioned. This should be interesting. Jack's Mannequin, Justin Timberlake, John Legend, Sia, Ellie Goulding, The Script. Ok, so not as bad as I thought. I only mentioned six other artists. Not too bad. What are you thinking? Did you like Mikky Ekko's album? Any favorite songs?

Fall Out Boy American Beauty/American Psycho Review

source: Wikipedia via Google Images
Get ready for a ton of music today. I'm sitting at my desk before I start getting ready for the#BloggersTakeTheOscars party, reviewing all kinds of albums that I haven't been able to get to yet. My goal is to have three album reviews up by 2pm so brace yourselves. A ton a great music has come out this year. January and early February saw the most action in terms of album releases and singles. Fall Out Boy was one of those releases and I can't even tell you how excited I was for them to drop a new album. I did a review of Monumentour with Paramore back in the summertime. That's an experience I definitely will never forget. Save Rock and Roll is probably my favorite album they've ever recorded and I was a giant fan of From Under the Cork Tree. To say I had high expectations for this album is an understatement. There were some epic collaborations on Save Rock and Roll like the title song with Elton John, one of my favorite artists of all time. American Beauty/American Psycho is all Fall Out Boy but that just means their creativity really flowed for this album. I have no doubt of that.

I'm going to separate this album into two categories: Theme-Song Songs and Rock Out Songs. Fall Out Boy is iconic for creating songs that feel like they can take over the world. They did it with "My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark" or "Light 'em Up" as most people know it. It was the theme song for hockey, football and I think even basketball. It was the song that played in TV show previews for Fall TV and now "Centuries" is basically the same thing. These songs are just so perfectly written and composed that it's impossible not to like them. See Fall Out Boy perform the songs and it's a transcendent experience. The Rock Out Songs are exactly what it sounds like. Hard core rock and roll that can be too much when you're not in the mood for it but killer music when you give it the time of day. So let's get moving! I've only got an hour and I'm still not done writing the first review!

Theme-Song Songs
"Irresistible" feels like something out of one of the Rocky movies. Like I mentioned before, you can always count on FOB for are the theme-like songs. They're dramatic, catchy and just really good. It has the perfect beginning for the entrance of an album. "Centuries" is perfection. I love this song and I'm still not tired of it. You legit want to just stop what you're doing when this song comes on and rock the eff out. Am I right? "The Kids Aren't Alright" is another really good one. FOB was always a band for the rebel and the outcast. The chorus gets you in the gut and it's so catchy. You can hardly concentrate when you listen to this song because you're so captivated by it. "Uma Thurman" is one of FOB's classic, fun dance songs. I would love to see them live just to have a blast when they perform this song. "Jet Pack Blues." Is this a love song? I think FOB may have included a love song on this album. I haven't heard one of these in a while, at least an obvious one. "Favorite Record" is possibly the most tame song on the album. It's similar to something from one of their older albums. I like the reminiscent quality of it. "Immortals" is, in my opinion, the sequel to "Centuries." It feels like that doesn't it? I was debating whether or not to include this in the other category instead but it's so well-written that I wouldn't be surprised if it becomes the next "Centuries." By the way, the video for "Irresistable" is epic. It will seriously make your day, I mean, that boombox. Come on!

Rock Out Songs:
"American Beauty/American Psycho" feels a little chaotic but has a catchy bridge to it. There are a lot of strong elements to this song making it seem like a bit much but you can't help but listen. To be honest, it's not one of my favorites. Patrick Stump's vocals, especially on "Novocaine," are so versatile. I'm always surprised at what he's capable of even though I know I shouldn't be anymore. He somehow brings a crystal clear element to super heavy rock songs. The contrast is incredible. "Fourth of July" is, I think, another love song. I'm sure they have lots of these, you just don't realize it because they're not super obvious. I love that the bridge in this song is soft. It makes the chorus feel much stronger. "Twin Skeletons (Hotel In NYC)" is another that really feels like an old FOB song. It starts out with amazing vocals from Patrick and then turns into another epic rock song. I'm probably going to have a headache by the end of writing this from bobbing my head. I just love the bridge and chorus of this song. If you listen to no other song on this album, listen to this one. If you're not in love by the end, there is no hope for you.

So tell me. Have you listened to the new Fall Out Boy album yet? I'm obsessed (clearly).