Wednesday, April 27, 2011


As a bunny-obsessed, little girl, Easter was one of my favorite holidays. I still have a special place in my heart for it and dream of the day when we get to host an egg hunt at our house.... and of the day when I will have chickens that lay their own colored eggs.... just have to convince husband that he will enjoy having chickens for pets.

I end up dying eggs about every other year or so, and I'm very interested in new ways of achieving unique colors, textures, and patterns. The last time, I experimented with using silk tie scraps for dying.

Last week a facebook friend posted an article about using natural things to dye eggs. So that's what we did.

I didn't want to get all crazy with it so I just chose a few items to experiment with - blueberries (frozen), spinach (frozen), turmeric, and paprika. The blueberries and spinach I boiled for a while. I only used the juice from the blueberries but there was still a lot of debris in the liquid. I left the leaves of spinach in the bowl to see what kind of texture effect they would have on the egg. The spinach barely worked at all on its own (maybe because it was frozen), but there were some unexpected things happening when an egg was first soaked in the spinach mixture then another color. Some of them were soaked for more than an hour.

1. Turmeric and Paprika
2. Spinach then Turmeric/Paprika
3. Blueberries then Turmeric/Paprika
4. half of the egg in Spinach then the whole egg in Blueberries
5. the whole egg in Spinach then Blueberries
6. just Blueberries

Another perk of the exercise was utilization of the egg cup collection from my Aunt Lori, and one I purchased in Chinatown on Easter. My mother-in-law was visiting and in addition to eggs and Chinatown shopping, our weekend included korean bbq, manhattans, movies, bathroom sink shopping, antiquing, Glen's Diner, yard work, and an Easter dinner of pork tenderloin (cooked to perfection by my dear husband) and this. I can't believe we did all that.

Now who wants some egg salad???

Saturday, April 2, 2011

30 recap

I had a great birthday weekend (last weekend). Probably the best in several years, mainly because it did not snow or rain or any combination of the two and I was not sick. The weather was cold, but it was bright and sunny and there were very few clouds in that big blue sky. It went a little something like this.

- ordered take out from Pita Kabab for dinner with some dear friends.
- they brought me Taste of Heaven cupcakes *yum*

- had a dutch pancake breakfast with Jasmine.
- purchased Neil Young tickets for next month *yay*
- made this for lunch
- ate a cupcake
- snuggled with cats & hubby and watched a movie
- had a lovely candlelight dinner at Uncommon Ground with some wonderful people and drinks afterward at Cunneen's on Devon. had a great time but wasn't a completely wild party animal, which was fine.

Sunday (birthday)
- slept in.
- made myself 2 fried eggs AND oatmeal for breakfast.
- phone calls from my family.
- went shopping at Old Orchard and got some treats for myself at anthropologie and Aveda.
- took a 2 hour nap.
- bibim bap for dinner at Solga with hubby

I also received many unexpected gifts including jewelery, gardening supplies, a flowering cactus, more camping supplies, more cupcakes, and a beautiful copy of a rare book The Encyclopedia of Needlework by Th de Dillmont (see photo above). I haven't been able to look through the entire thing yet, but I did notice an unfamiliar cast-on method in the knitting section using 3 strands of yarn. The best card that came in the mail this year was from Aunt Kathy and Aunt Dar, along with some drawings I had made for Dar at age 6.

So far, 30 has been pretty nice.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Cold Spring

Today and over the next couple of days the temperature will hover around freezing. We awoke this morning to a faint dusting of snow on the ground. March 24th. How irritated I was with the weather. And then I thought of something.

A memory.

A tiny, urban, postage-stamp-size back yard that was a wild forest to a small girl.

The promise of a birthday, Easter bunnies, jelly beans, and fluffy, white coconut cake.

A delicate and deep amethyst colored crocus thrust up from the earth, surrounded by a mound of fluffy, white snow.

I'm looking forward to new beginnings this season. My garden. Spring at Francisco Nyktas. And turning 30 soon....

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


I just wanted to note all of the lovely things that have made this evening:

* Knitting with some of my favorite ladies at my new LYS Windy Knitty (check it out!) It was their first day of business. Afterward, pizza and tea with sweet Ms. McMillan.

* Husband bought me some early bday gifts - camping supplies for our upcoming camping trip.

* The weather is promising to be more spring-like this week. I loved the little tiny drops of rain that were falling on me as I walked up my street.

* When I arrived home there were more surprises! Erin sent me David Lebovitz's Ice Cream book!!! I can't wait to make more ice cream.

* I received my asparagus and strawberry roots from Kroehne Plant Farm in Michigan.

* My cousin sent me a photo of her baby wearing the booties I knitted. I love love love when I get to see people wearing things I made for them.

* One of my turnip seeds has sprouted.

Tonight I'll be counting my blessings instead of sheep.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Let's start at the beginning

From a tiny seed I will grow some food for myself and my family. Ok - from many many many many seeds, we will begin making food from scratch! From real scratch. I am incredibly thrilled about my first vegetable garden, and today I received these lovely little packets of seeds. (from a website called I still can't believe that these tiny little specks of organic material can be nurtured and coaxed into succulent vegetables for my meals. There is so much wonder and excitement in planning a garden. I am using the methods discussed in a book called Square Foot Gardening.

So I'm going to start some of these seeds indoors asap. Never done this before. Do I need a grow lamp or will a sunny window suffice? I will appreciate any tips or tricks from the experienced gardeners out there.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Our Version of "A Christmas Carol"

Monkey is very grumpy and does not like holidays - mostly the "holiday guests" part. The Francisco Nyktas Theatre Co. version of one of the best christmas stories stars Monkey as the old miserable Ebeneezer Scrooge. Elvis will play the part of happy-g0-lucky Bob Crachett, with Turtle as Tiny Tim. Merrlyn (my old cat that Monkey replaced, who was also very shy) will visit Monkey as the ghost of Jacob Marley. The Ghost of Christmas Past will be Yorkie, my first dog. Rosie, my sweet, recently passed, golden retriever is the second visitor, the Ghost of Christmas Present. And finally (the kicker) the Ghost of Christmas Future is not any particular animal that has been a pet of ours, but one of the skunks who is often seen foraging in the back yard.

Casting by Steve, Sarah, & Catherine.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Menu

Well here it is December 23rd, or as my family likes to call it Christmas-Eve-Eve. It's our first Christmas in our new house and so it seemed appropriate that we would host an event here at Francisco Nyktas! We invited my mom, Ed, and Catherine for the 24th & 25th. (Steve gets brownie points here because it was HIS idea.) They will be arriving tomorrow afternoon.

In true Christmas fashion, I came down with a cold (which seems to have been hanging around for much of December) that bloomed into a wonderful sinus infection. I was pretty miserable last weekend at the Ohio Nyktas Christmas party. But the show must go on - antibiotics in tow. The decorations are up. The house is (generally) clean. And this evening has been devoted to prepping for some meals I'm really excited about.

I'm also very very very very very excited that my christmas cactus may indeed be blooming!!!! The idea of mentioning this makes me nervous, however, as last year this same plant produced many a "faker" bud for me to get frantic about.... but nothing came of these stupid little teasers. They dried up and withered away, forming a serious grudge in my heart toward all christmas cacti *hisssssss*. I was about ready to pitch the damn thing when my dear friend Brittany gave me a few hints. A north facing window (even one that is 3 feet from the brick wall next door) seems to have an effect. Watering also helps..... hhhmm.... watering - who knew? So now I have 3 swollen pink buds dangling, waiting to open... I hope. And several others that seem to be following suit. My fear is that they will crap out because i moved it to the dining room table for the centerpiece. We shalllllll seeeeeee.

Okay so back to the menu. Here is what we are having. Not much of it is new, I'm just really excited about cooking a holiday meal for my family.

Christmas Eve
hors d'oeuvres - spanikopita, shrimp cocktail, mom's snickerdoodles and peanut butter fingers
main course - scallops with basil sauce, mushroom risotto, roasted brussels sprouts, cheddar chive garlic scones
dessert - pumpkin pie
beverages - wine, milk punch

Christmas Morning
mimosas & bacon, tomato, cheddar breakfast bake w/eggs

Christmas Day snacks
parsnip bacon, tiki snack mix, candy & cookies, lemon stilton cheese

Christmas Dinner
pork loin roast with a pork reduction mushroom sauce
Stanley's kielbasa
potato and butternut gratin
cranberry salad (Granny's version)
green beans
& maple mousse pie with candied cranberries for dessert!!!

Thursday, December 2, 2010


First order of business in the new life of me blogging again - WISHLISTS. This is a very important matter. So lets get right down to it, shall we?

Just in case you're wondering what I want for Christmas (Moms and Dads, take note). Or you're a friend or family member who insists on purchasing a housewarming/belated wedding gift for us *batts eyelashes and smiles*. This post is for you.

Here are two want(er, wish)lists I've compiled containing mostly things that we need. Because everyone needs to go camping. And everyone needs to make ice cream. And everyone needs to listen to christmas music..... or at least I know I do.

Crate & Barrel List (essentially, this is the wedding registry updated)

Amazon List

As far as the camping equipment goes, I don't necessarily need the exact items on the list, so if you think you know what's more appropriate that's fine with me!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


My blog is no longer private :) Going to start posting again....

Friday, September 24, 2010

The past year...

It's been a very long time since my last blog entry. This year (actually, 2 years) have zoomed past me at lightening speed and I'm pretty sure I've figured out where they've gone. I can attribute this increased velocity to how busy I've been. So here's a list of what I've been doing over the last year and what's new.

- MARRIAGE: (I now have an official husband. His name is Steve.) This is probably one of the biggest things, even though it hasn't changed our day to day lives very much. But the wedding itself was lovely and fabulous and the best day of my life.... to be discussed in another entry.

- BOUGHT A HOUSE: Yes that's right. We are {finally!} homeowners. I never thought I'd be able to afford a condo in Chicago and here were are living in our own brick box with our own green square right behind it. And another wooden box we can park the Subes in :) HAPPINESS

- WENT TO VANCOUVER: This was the biggest trip I went on over the last 12 months. One of my CapeTown friends was studying there for a semester.

- TAUGHT A KIDS KNITTING CLASS: Five kids, ages 7-18 + knitting needles + yarn = lots of fun! Although I will admit that I've had to sacrifice my own knitting for all of these other real life projects.

- EXPERIENCED BURGLARY: Unfortunately our apartment was burgled halfway through our move. It was so much more terrifying, violating, and traumatic than I ever thought it would be. We lost some valuable things and some things that weren't so valuable to anyone but me. That was the saddest part. Luckily so many of our family and friends were there to support us during that time (shout out to Eli & Gabe!) That's all I'm gonna say because we've moved on and I'm so glad it's over.

- GOODBYE, ROSIE: The last "family" dog that belonged to all four members of my family passed away. It was the end of an era and we will never forget our Golden Rose.

- SOLVED MONKEY'S ISSUE: In other pet news we found a special food that has been working for Monkey for the past year. What a relief.

- BECAME A BIG: I am a Big Sister to a sweet girl named Jasmine.

- BUDDIES & BUTTERS: All of my friends are multiplying! So many cute lil babes being had right now. And they are all doing a fabulous job of being parents. In addition, Devin, one of my besties, married Mr. Right last month and I couldn't be more thrilled. And last but not least, my Chicago bestie ERIN picked up her whole life and moved it across the country to Seattle. I'll just have to plan a trip to the PNW one of these days....Well at least she taught me how to make risotto before she left.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Season's Greetings!

Merry Christmas

and Happy New Year!

from the newlyweds:
Steve & Sarah Nyktas

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Marriage License Time and other news

Today is one month till our wedding! 31 days to be exact. I am actually feeling less stressed and starting to get excited about everything. There are only a few loose ends to tie up. Today we are taking care of one of them - going to get our marriage license. I hope that it is not as painful as renewing a drivers license, but we shall see.

After that I want to make a trip to Super H Mart because it's on the way home and I have been wanting to go there for AGES!!! I guess it is a huge Korean grocery store but they have lots of other things too.... Maybe we will have to pick up dinner there as well.

Other than that, we have just been trying to enjoy our summer when we can. Haven't had as many trips as usual so that has been nice. At the end of May we went to Iowa for a big party for my cousin's graduation. Then in June I had a bridal shower in Cincinnati (but there are no photos of that b/c I am the family photographer so I am rarely in photographs....)

the DuVall clan - this probably isn't even half of us!

At the beginning of June we had some wonderful visitors staying with us. Joe and Andrea Valley and their new son, Sacha. I really enjoy being the mom/host for my friends and family that I love so much. Someday I hope to have a huge house so that everyone knows they always have a bed to sleep in if they are passing through town. I guess I am like my own mom in that aspect. She can never have too many people in her house - no matter how small it is. Okay so maybe sometimes our apartment is too small. But our hearts and our dreams are big.

Joe and Sacha Valley at 1mo

I also went to Michigan at the end of July to surprise my dad for his 50th birthday! Definitely a fun little trip. Catherine and I made the yummy chocolate peanut butter cake from Smitten Kitchen. Dad loved it and he was definitely surprised to see 20 of us waiting for him at his favorite steakhouse. Also see photos of the hummingbirds at Dad's house - feeding them is his summer hobby every year.

Dad blowing out his birthday candles

We never got that brown couch that i talked about. I measured and it wouldn't fit through the front door.... oh well... there are other couches in the sea, I guess. Our landlord managed to get rid of our pigeons so we are now able to use this little back porch area as a seating area if we ever want to sit outside. I have a hanging basket, and a little lantern, and some other plants. And it has provided us with a way to get to know our neighbors a little more.

Steve hanging out on our "deck"

Recently we had some friends over for dinner and I made this cake! I will admit it was a great excuse for me to use the new cake dome I received at my shower. It is a lemon pound cake, also from Smitten Kitchen, but i decided to make it in layers. And i did a couple of other things differently. I put the syrup on when it was cool. The frosting recipe is one that my mom has always used and taught me how to make when I first started baking. Except that I added lemon juice and a little food coloring to get a nice yellow color. The cake was so good cold out of the fridge on a hot weekend. I think I will have to make it again soon. I did not have a sprig of mint to adorn the top of the cake so i used basil. At one point i was using a tiny sprig of dill. It had a very interesting look and I even thought, what would dill be like in sweet baked goods. Has anyone ever done that???? Maybe it's a bad idea...

the lemon cake

On the Monkey forefront, the supplements from the specialist were not working. Now we are trying B12 injections. I am giving them to her myself at home and it really is a heckuvah lot easier than trying to give her a pill or make her eat something she does not like.

Monkey is still beautiful on the outside :)

Well this post was supposed to be about the marriage license but since I am not regularly blogging it ended up being about everything else, too!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Polymer Clay anyone?

I bought some polymer clay (fimo, premo, sculpey) to sculpt my cake topper out of, or at least give the cake maker a rough draft of what I am going for. I have never used it before. Any tips or anything I should know about???

I also purchased a bottle of the glaze. Does it go on before or after I bake? If I want to paint it with acrylic or water based paint, should I do that on top of the glaze or under the glaze?

Thanks art/craft buddies if you have any info!

Friday, June 5, 2009

should we get a new couch???????

My friend is selling her couch and I'm wondering if we should buy it... what do you think? It is a very nice and comfy Ikea couch. It's a cotton fabric couch that looks kind of leather-ish. She wants to sell it for a really great price. Here are some photos of it:

Will I be sad giving up the couch we currently have?
CON of current couch: It is ugly
PRO: but I "custom-made" this cover for it.... which took me FOREVER.

PRO: I really like the fabric that the cover is made out of,
CON: but the fit is not perfect by any means.
CON: it is light colored and could get stained easily... would not be good if we ever have children. Though it has yet to be stained over the past 1.5 years. (which is actually amazing since Steve eats chocolate on it all the time and has only gotten chocolate the pillow so far)

PRO: However it is also an EXTREMELY comfy couch!! SO CUSHY - i could prob sleep on it for a week or two if needed.

Here are some photos of current couch before the cover:

After the cover:

Will the new couch go well with our rug/other decor, or will it make the room look too heavy? I think it might be okay b/c our walls are cream colored.

I would like to sell or give away the current couch b/c it would be a waste to throw it away. Not sure if I would relinquish the cover i slaved over.... I know, i keep saying i SLAVED over it and it doesn't look fantastic, but I DID slave over it. I guess it depends on who I was giving it to....

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Rambler

Oh the places I've been... Here's a quick list of all the things I've done since my vermicomposting post (which, consequently, does not involve vermicomposting):

Click on the picture to see more from that event!


1. Went to Michigan for Valentine's Day, to visit family, and all the folks at Albion.


2. Catherine stayed with me for a weekend while playing in the tour of her college symphonette.

3. Volunteered at Voice For Luca benefit at Mars Gallery.

4. Celebrated my 28th birthday.

5. Started biking to work again.

6. One of my bff's from HS came to Chicago and we had a girls night out.


7. Whirlwind trip to Colorado Springs to surprise another bff from HS for her baby shower (yay, Annie! she could go into labor any minute now...) and saw Elizabeth & Ben, and Joe & Andrea, who were all expecting as well.

8. Mom and Catherine came to visit for Easter and we saw Mary Poppins. (and we found her "mother-of-the-bride" dress)

9. Drove to Holland, MI for Elizabeth's baby shower.

10. Had one weekend at home to relax.


11. Helped my mom recover from surgery for a few days in Michigan. Trip also coincided with a Book Scanning Demo in Kalamazoo (for work) and hanging with Brenna (former roommate).

12. Flew to Tennessee to meet up with Dad and Catherine for a visit with Papa and Aunt Irene.

13. Drove to Cincinnati for my nephews' and niece's first birthday party.

14. We were whisked away, by Mom and Ed, to Iowa for Memorial Day Weekend and to celebrate Allison's high school graduation... more pics of that later...