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The only problem with sharing Todd Baxter’s photography on this platform is that you can’t really see it. Because, you guys, you have to see it in person. (Luckily, this is happening, and we are so there.)

We first came across his photography at last year’s Design Harvest, and it’s not an exaggeration to say that we stared at his work for far too long – clogging their booth and barely allowing anyone else to squeeze in for a closer look (yes, we were those people; worth it). With every image being impeccably detailed – a result of digital collage, and in his words, a lot of time gathering elements in studio, at national parks, and in natural history museums, among other favorite places – it’s all too easy to get lost in thought, nostalgia and wonder – with an added dose of quirk and whimsy for good measure, too.

We are fans. Big ones.

In addition to our continual scrimp-and-save efforts for The One, we’re thinking we might need a big bear portrait on our wall in the future – what’s one more piece of animal art, anyway? So, let’s go on record and add that one to the list (that I’m officially starting right now) of new home wishes.

All photos used with permission by Todd Baxter Photography. See more right here!

  • Tina - March 19, 2013 - 10:12 AM

    Brian and I fell in love with his work when it was installed at Lula awhile back. We bought the one with the girl scout flying away in the tornado. It hangs in our office loft downtown. By the way, my mother-in-law, Colette loved the painting of Meg you did for her Xmas present. Fingers crossed for you on “the one.” If you need a drink to calm your nerves, Brian and his business partner opened a craft cocktail bar in Logan Square called Billy Sunday. TinaReplyCancel

  • Kim - March 19, 2013 - 10:18 AM

    Tina, Billy Sunday has been on our list! Thank you for the reminder… and for all the other kind words. AND for opening all these amazing new haunts around the ‘hood!

    I didn’t see Todd’s photography when it was Lula, but we are officially saving up for anything of his. It’s all so beautiful!ReplyCancel

  • Julia [Chris Loves Julia] - March 19, 2013 - 10:49 AM

    Such a fan of Todd Baxter. I really want to add more quirk into our home and I’m officially thanking you guys for that desire.ReplyCancel

  • Kim - March 19, 2013 - 11:13 AM

    Julia, quirk is good.ReplyCancel

  • SEM - March 19, 2013 - 4:51 PM

    His stuff reminds me of a Wes Anderson movie. Very cool.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - March 19, 2013 - 5:16 PM

      SEM, absolutely! I see it.ReplyCancel

  • Julia @cuckoo4design - March 19, 2013 - 8:47 PM

    I totally agree with you. Every one of his pieces are amazing. WOWReplyCancel

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My lady is pretty spectacular in the gift-giving department. She’s got a knack for paying attention to my quips and thoughtless rambling throughout the year, and she’ll surprise me with things that I had specifically mentioned that I wanted (but had forgotten all about!). She’ll do this all without ever having to ask me, or even generally hinting at what I should expect – and this past Christmas was no exception.

Brownie points – over.

I got my gift from Kim in the form of a tiny envelope. Upon opening it, I was thrilled to find a gift certificate for a 2 hour private lesson for something I’ve always wanted to learn – MIG welding! I’m totally fascinated by the idea of joining two pieces of metal together with additional hot metal and an electrical current (isn’t everyone?), and this past Saturday I finally got the chance to put it to practice. We grabbed a quick breakfast and headed to MidWest Metal Works armed with my voucher and a set of flame retardant coveralls that I “borrowed” from the stockroom at work.

We were greeted by Steve, the proprietor of MWMW, and were ushered into a garage full of a half dozen vintage motorcycles and all the welding equipment you could ever want – or need! Steve is a great teacher and has a knack for explaining things in a way that is easy to understand and can quickly put into practice. I left feeling very accomplished and am now comfortable saying: I know how to weld!

Kim came along to document (yup, she wore the welding helmet, too), and all told, this was an all-around fantastic experience. I’m anxious to get to the second class, which focuses on joinery and more advanced techniques – at which point, I could become a welding hobbyist; fancy, right? While I’m not quite ready to fabricate my own furniture or build a bicycle, I can say that I could repair the metal legs of a broken chair or table in a way that would be safe, functional and fun to do. Who has broken metal things? I’d like to fix ‘em.

Three cheers for hot metal!

PS… Kim found MWMW with a quick Yelp! search, read the glowing reviews, bought the session, and called it a day. 

  • Hannah K - March 14, 2013 - 7:37 AM

    Too cool, Scott! My uncle taught me to weld years ago, but I haven’t done much since — I’m so jealous of you! What a great gift, Kim!ReplyCancel

  • Kim - March 14, 2013 - 9:13 AM

    Hannah, so cool! He can’t wait to get started on the next class! I may have started something big…ReplyCancel

  • Cait @ Hernando House - March 14, 2013 - 10:27 AM

    That looks like so much fun! What an awesome gift!

    Robert knows how to weld (I can’t remember where he learned), and in the past he got his welding fix in a friend’s garage working on motorcycles. We’ve been meaning to stop in at our neighbor’s garage (he heads up a local high school’s robotics team, and has lots of cool “toys”) so he can brush up on things. Maybe I can get him to make me some hairpin legs… haha.ReplyCancel

  • Emma - March 14, 2013 - 11:26 AM

    Kewel!ReplyCancel

  • blair @ design that inspires - March 14, 2013 - 11:30 AM

    too cool! what a great gift idea too :) can’t wait to see what cool things you guys make!ReplyCancel

  • Kim - March 14, 2013 - 12:00 PM

    Cait, hairpin legs – yes!ReplyCancel

  • Jimmy - March 14, 2013 - 9:25 PM

    This is badass – as knowledge gained, as an interest pursued, and as a gift.

    My sister’s longtime boyfriend welds artwork as a hobby. Does really amazing stuff. As an art major, his senior project was 10 foot bucking horse, made entirely from welded horseshoes. It’s incredible. I’ve wanted to have him show me how to do this for years, and I keep putting it off for no good reason.

    Good on you guys for doing this. You’ve inspired me. Yet again.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - March 15, 2013 - 2:00 PM

      Jimmy, thank you! Steve actually made a huge horse, too – it’s the sign for a local bar in our neighborhood, and we’ve always loved it. You should definitely weld some beautiful art for your home and take advantage of some free lessons from your sister’s boyfriend!ReplyCancel

  • Daphne - March 15, 2013 - 3:56 AM

    I know how to weld oyes! haha so cool :DReplyCancel

  • Nina - March 16, 2013 - 9:36 AM

    Fantastic documentation Kim, as always. Great job Scott! What a cool new hobby. (Also, is it the Rocking Horse?)ReplyCancel

  • Kim - March 17, 2013 - 11:28 AM

    Nina, it IS Rocking Horse :)ReplyCancel

  • Nina - March 18, 2013 - 6:22 AM

    Nice! Before ya know it Scott will be contributing to the neighborhood scene too. :)ReplyCancel

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With daylight savings behind us (which, by the way, is anyone else still having a hard time waking up?), we’re so looking forward to spring and sunshine, and we’ve really enjoyed powering down our laptops before the sun sets. We’re thisclose to warmer weather, but in Chicago, you’ll still find us bundled in puffy coats and earmuffs as the cold, snowy days wind down. It’s during this in-between time (eek, everything is in such limbo with us lately, huh?) that we can squeeze in those last few dishes of comfort food – with chili topping the list!

Scott shared our chili recipe years ago, but it’s one of our all time favorite cozy meals. Soon, we’ll all be consuming nothing but grilled yummies, so it’s worth making one last pot before the seasons change. Here’s how we do it – below, from Scott’s original post – one more time for old times’ sake.

Start with the biggest soup pot you’ve got. Ours is 8 quarts, but you could easily get by with a 6.5 quart. If it’s non-stick, all the better. Brown 2 pounds of ground beef, then drain – or if you’re meat-free, skip this step altogether. Add 1 medium diced white onion and 1 large seeded and finely chopped fresh jalapeno pepper. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes or until onion is soft, then add the following:

1 28oz can diced tomatoes with juice
2 8oz cans tomato puree
1 16 oz can of yellow corn (drained)
1 12 oz can Pabst Blue Ribbon
1 16 oz can black beans (drained)
1 16 oz can kidney beans (drained)
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp basil
1 tsp creole spice (or cumin if you don’t have it)
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp caribbean jerk seasoning (or crushed red pepper)
1 tbsp mild hungarian paprika

Continue to simmer on medium for about 1/2 hour, cover, then simmer on low as long as you like, stirring occasionally. I tend to aim for 3+ hours of a low simmer, but start in the morning and cook until dinnertime if you can.

As I mentioned before, add or subtract whatever you desire. My lovely wife has a strange food allergy to green peppers (mainly, she hates them), so we don’t use them. And while some people aren’t fans of corn in their chili, we are. Give it a try!

Serve with cheddar cheese, sour cream, green onions and tortilla chips. Give it a shot and let us know what you think, and if there’s anything else you’d like to suggest, we’re open to suggestions!

  • Hannah K - March 13, 2013 - 7:16 AM

    SO have to try this! Thanks for sharing!!

    We’re in limbo (weather-wise) here, too. I wore shorts and a tshirt on Sunday and it snowed yesterday. Boo.ReplyCancel

  • Cait @ Hernando House - March 14, 2013 - 10:22 AM

    I’m soooo freaking tired of Limbo. And yes, I’m having a hard time waking up while it’s still dark out. And the weather is all wonky. Been wearing short sleeves in the afternoons, but bundling up on chilly mornings.

    That chili looks delicious!ReplyCancel

  • Daphne - March 15, 2013 - 4:00 AM

    Drool. So simple dish but it looks good xDReplyCancel

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