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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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Over the last few months, I’ve been so lucky to paint Kiira’s clan of pups, Monkey (above) and Petey, plus their super handsome foster, Rerun (bonus: he’s a Jack look-a-like!). My most recent portrait, however, was Monkey, and I must admit, he was quite the personal challenge – just check out his beautiful and unique brindle facial pattern! A stud, don’t you think? I asked Kiira to share some fun facts on Monkey, and here’s what she had to say about her not-so-little man:

‘Monkey’ is a misnomer. We got it wrong with his name, but by the time we found out, he was already Monkey to us. Monkey is elegant–regal, really–and as serious and attentive as they come. He is athletic and agile, and the most inherently graceful dog I know. He leaps into trees, springboards off their trunks, and twists and turns in the air, all for a closer look at that squirrel.

He lived as a stray before animal control caught up with him, and I am convinced that if he didn’t like people so much, he would be thriving out there in the wild, king of a self-sufficient pack of strays. But we got lucky, and he turned himself in, and we get to witness the sweetest little Monkey licks and the most out-of-character wiggle butt ever. The rabbits and squirrels of the neighborhood hate him, and I have disproportionate muscle tone in my leash arm, but if it means that Monkey can make the city his home, so be it.

Each portrait was painted on a clean white background, but just for fun, we added a colorful edge! After she spied our two-toned end table, Kiira and I discussed a few options to give her paintings a unique element, and here they are in sunny yellow (Monkey), soft blue (Rerun) and gold (Petey):

I’m officially a fan, and now Scott and I are wondering if the same should be done to our trio of portraits – Jack, Maddie and Libby. What do you think?

Thank you, Kiira, for sharing your stunning crew with us!

Monkey and Petey were painted on a 6×6 wood panel, and Rerun is on the pint-sized 4×4. For more information on custom work of your own, check us out at The Pet Shop, a tiny division of this Yellow Brick Home.

  • Julia @cuckoo4design - March 11, 2013 - 6:39 AM

    Wow, how beautiful! Love the two-toned edges!
    What a cute crew!ReplyCancel

  • Kim - March 11, 2013 - 7:59 AM

    I love these! We have a 3 month old pitty and I can’t wait until she’s older so I can have you do hers! Here’s a cute picture I took of her yesterday. :)instagr.am/p/WsVcXTEXO3/ReplyCancel

  • Hannah K - March 11, 2013 - 8:01 AM

    Yes! When you mentioned this in your table post, I knew it would look fantastic — and it does!! I can’t wait until I save up to have our pooches painted!!ReplyCancel

  • Nina - March 11, 2013 - 9:25 AM

    Incredible job Kim! Brindle seems like it would be difficult to replicate, but you’ve done it spot on. Also love the pop of color on the edge. Someday when we find a brother for Zelda we’ll get one done like that too. ^.^ReplyCancel

  • Kim - March 11, 2013 - 9:48 AM

    Kim, are you KIDDING me with that puppy?! My heart just melted. That little black eyebrow about killed me.

    Hannah, yes! I’d love to paint your Pitties!

    Nina, ooh, fingers crossed that Zelda gets a sibling! I actually really enjoy painting brindle fur (the patterns are always so beautiful), but I have to say that Monkey has one of the most unique patterns I’ve seen!ReplyCancel

  • Kiira - March 11, 2013 - 10:05 AM

    Kim, they are so amazing, and even more so in person. I was looking at the tiny details yesterday, especially the black hairline traces, and I’ve concluded that you must have one of the steadiest hands around.
    And thanks for making Monkey shine. He often gets overlooked for his brother, who has the graphic cartoon quality that people are drawn to. And with Rerun in tow for the past four months, well, that head is a showstopper, so it’s rare that anyone notices the black mutt by his side. You really captured Monkey’s elegance, and his portrait is easily my favorite.ReplyCancel

  • Kim - March 11, 2013 - 10:38 AM

    Kiira, steady hands, maybe. Tiny hands and tiny paintbrushes? Yes!

    Thank YOU for sharing the whole crew with us! They’re all stars, but we’re happy to give Monkey the spotlight today.ReplyCancel

  • Yet ANOTHER Kim - March 11, 2013 - 7:00 PM

    The gentleman and I are in the process of adopting a french bulldog and I can’t wait o have you do a painting of our future pup. You nailed Monkey’s coloring and I love the colored edge! How you get such perfectly crisp and clean lines never fails to amaze me.ReplyCancel

  • Kim - March 11, 2013 - 7:07 PM

    Ha, too many Kims!

    Kim, thank you! I really hope to work with you on your future Frenchie!ReplyCancel

  • Two Pitties in the City - March 11, 2013 - 8:16 PM

    We know her crew and you did such a great job of capturing them. Especially Monkey who is so unique. And I love Kirra’s descriptions of him.ReplyCancel

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