Recipe: Chopped Salad with Couscous

salad with couscous

Chopped Salad with Couscous

Serves 4
Lots of goodies in this delicious salad!

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  1. 1 bag of spinach/arugula
  2. 1 cup of chopped tomatoes
  3. 2 ears sweet corn
  4. 1/2 c asiago cheese grated
  5. 1/2 c currants, raisins, dried cranberries or chopped, dried dates
  6. 1/2 c roasted pepitas
  7. 1 c pearl couscous
Buttermilk Dressing
  1. 1 garlic clove smashed
  2. 3TBS sour cream
  3. 1 TBS white wine vinegar
  4. 1/4 c buttermilk
  5. 3 TBS grated asiago
  6. salt/pepper
  1. chop the tomato and mix with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar to season
  2. cut the corn off of the cob
  3. cook the couscous according to the package, rinse in cold water
  4. roast the pepitas in a sauce pan over medium heat till toasted (it goes quick, don't walk away!)
  5. Combine all ingredients.
  6. Whisk dressing ingredients together.
  7. Toss the salad with the dressing and enjoy!
  1. If you like a lot of dressing, you may want to double this! You can make the couscous in advance and keep it in the fridge. If you add grilled chicken or (even easier) rotisserie chicken, then you have a meal!
Just Browsing

chicago bloggerI always bring the “salad”. When we have family dinners, somewhere along the line about 15 years ago, I became the salad girl. My sister in law usually makes the dessert, my brother makes deviled eggs, my sister makes some sort of vegetable or strawberry pretzel “salad” (which is a dessert that you eat with your meal but call it a salad). Do you know what I’m talking about? The pretzel crust with strawberry jello and some white stuff, I have never made it so that is the obvious reason why I don’t know the ingredients but it’s delish. My other sister in law loves to cook and she makes a cheese dip that makes you weep. (oh lightbulb moment….I need to get that recipe on here stat.) chicago blogger recipeThe “bringing a salad to family dinner” kinda stuck and I just became the salad girl in general. I love salads that are chock full of goodies! Then I became some sort of dressing snob when I decided that the stuff that is on the shelf at the grocery store is almost poisonous. So when you make the salad dressing, to go with the salad, it is SO MUCH BETTER tasting and SO MUCH BETTER for you. Now don’t be fooled into thinking that I think I am some sort of cook or that I like cooking or that I enjoy making anything that has more than 4 ingredients. Unless of course, if 6 of the 10 ingredients are sugar than I can usually dig deep and figure it out.lettuce salad recipe with couscous

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Embroidered top

Kelly Nelson Just Browsing Free People Top-35


embroidered top chicago bloggerSpring has finally sprung! This makes life so much easier for us bloggers! We can go outside and take pictures whenever we want and not freeze our bunions off.  My girlfriend Nicole (Cedar & Rush) took these lovely photos for me. No, don’t worry, I have not ousted KN, but sometimes girls just like to have fun!

Here I am wearing embroidery again! I can’t seem to get away from this trend right now. So that’s a sign ladies, are you reading it?  As  Tesla says: do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the signs?… I think this embroidery business has a sweet look (do you remember those little girl dresses with the smocking on the front with the embroidered flowers over it?) yet of course a bit boho paired with denim. 

This is the time,  if you know how to embroider, that you should start  embroidering clothes and lighten up on those hoop wall hangings with inspirational sayings that say cheesy things like “be like a flower and bloom”!

free people embroidered top


Free People embroidered top


Chicago blogger


dolce vita shoes


Kelly Nelson Just Browsing Free People Top-17

Shop here my friends:

top | jeans  (sale)| shoes  (sale)| sunnies (sale)| purse (similar) | lipgloss 

(my purse is from Target circa ’14)






My Kitchen {Before and After}


Optimized-bw -8289

About 3 years ago KN and I bought a house that we knew needed some updating. The house isn’t big or grand and it’s older, but we were excited to personalize it and make it ours. We had such a great time doing it, so much so, that for a minute we thought about flipping houses! Originally, we were going to keep a few things and we told the contractor “Oh, we’ll keep the fireplace mantle and the kitchen and the wood floor in the lower level ….”. But once construction started,you know what happened, we wanted everything to have our personal touch! The kitchen was so cramped because of the odd layout and it was also so dark! When we started talking new appliances and a new floor and moving stuff around, we decided it was going to have to all go. I can’t say that we regretted anything we did! I can’t believe the kitchen used to look like this:


old kitchen just browsing
probably we won’t need that wall phone                 
between the wine valance and that wood window divider, there is no light getting in!
just browsing chicago kitchen
what is this peninsula doing here in the middle of the room?
these are standard ceilings, so if you are taller than 5' you need to duck under the fan
these are standard ceilings, so if you are taller than 5′ you are getting your hair tangled in the fan
Boom! all gone!
my first car was maroon, it is my least favorite color
my very first car was maroon, it is my least favorite color

I’m sorry that the quality of the “before” pictures looks like they were taken with a disposable camera from a 1989 wedding guest table. I didn’t really focus on the before because I was so excited and focused on the after. Had I known then what a dramatic change it was, I would have definitely taken better pictures!  (and before you have a stroke, we did not put the cabinets and appliances in a land fill, we sold everything)

The after pictures:






dining room after

The kitchen layout was completely different, dark, cramped and disorganized. The hood over the stove vented into the attic, lol. So everything was taken out, we made a bigger opening to the dining area, a bigger window over the sink and a new glass backdoor for more natural light. The floor is my favorite, it’s hand scraped acacia. I wanted a modern looking counter top and this was in a showroom at the mart, in their kitchenette. I was like, “this is exactly what I want!” and the guy is like “we don’t sell that”. Reluctantly he found out the name of it and KN scoured the internet to find it and that’s what we ordered for the counter and backsplash.

The kitchen is too small for an island but we found the little butcher “island” at the Elkhorn flea market in Wisconsin. It was dirty, full of cobwebs and cheap. It’s like 70 years old from some grocery store in southern Illinois. It was the first time, pretty much for both of us, that we went to a flea market. It’s just really not my scene, there is so much crap-ola to sift through. I usually prefer new things, in a store without rust and lead paint. But I have to admit, that little butcher table sure has character and it definitely comes in handy. We bought the, also old, stool in Chicago at an interesting store called Urban Remains

 Stay tuned! I will have more before and after pictures of other parts of the house coming your way soon.

More details:

The eating area red light is from CB2, as are the black chairs. The white glass and aluminum table we bought at the Haute Living showroom. The olive mid century chairs were from Circa Modern in Chicago. The rug is from The Dump (what a steal, it’s a Restoration Hardware wool rug!)  The planter stand is from Room & Board.

{And for the record, you HGTV viewers, I would like to say that when we were house shopping, not once did I say:  I needed crown molding, a big yard, a walk in closet, a 3 car garage, an open concept and enough space for when “everyone comes over” for a $100,000 in a premium neighborhood 😉 }

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Monday Must Have: Mules

slip on mules What shoes do you wear the most, the ones that you put on time and again? For me-it’s the ones that you slip on, no laces, no zippers, no sitting down to get them on. Slip on and go! These mules are so convenient to keep close to the back door. They look great with jeans, shorts and dresses. The best part? If you are overdue for a pedicure no one will know!  When I told KN I was writing about mules, he thought I was talking about a Moscow Mule, he’s like “really? there are shoes called mules??” Yes, there are! So if you’re like KN and were thinking about a drink I have the perfect Moscow Mule recipe for you here. Otherwise….back to the shoes…. I shopped a bunch of mules for you here, since I’m nice like that. chicago blogger Dolce Vita (on sale)   chicago blogger mules Dolce Vita slip on mule navy denim Vince Camuto neutral suede mule Seychelles shop mules chicago blogger Steve Madden tan suede mule Toms slip on white leather mule Jeffrey Campbell open toe leather mule Frye (sale) matisse flat mule Matisse camel leather kate spade mule Kate Spade flat silver leather mules Topshop slip on gym shoes OK, and if thats not enough here are some more:  

Instagram Style Catch Up


                                                                        Top / Pants / Shoes


                                                                              Dress | Jacket | Shoes


                                                               Top | Pants | Shoes | Backpack

In case you missed it, here is just a little recap of some of my recent Instagram pictures! If you follow me on Instagram, sometimes I put a link to Shopstyle so you can see where my clothes are from. If you haven’t signed up, you should!  Also, if you are not, you should start following me on Instagram (and Facebook and Snapchat (just-browsing), just please don’t follow me around the neighborhood).

1) The stripe pants picture was in LA. We made a quick weekend trip there and had a great time! You can read about it here and find out what we did!

2) The dress picture was taken in San Diego. The weather there requires some sort of jacket or sweater most of the time unless the sun is shining. It’s good to keep a jean jacket handy especially when you have on a spaghetti strap dress! We ate here in SD.

3) Lastly, my “athleisure” picture { lol }  is in Elmhurst. This was on a Saturday running errands with KN, it’s the perfect, comfortable outfit to wear when you are walking around a lot! I know it’s hard to see but the pants have a white stripe and a black zipper down the sides of the legs. They are so cool! 





The Donut Bar {are you kidding me?!}

best donuts in the world san diego
Peering in the window at Donut Bar SanDiego, how can we ever decide?


donuts in san diego
Menu of the day @donutbar


donut bar

Maybe because it was raining? Or because it was Thursday morning at 8:30? I’m not sure why, but there wasn’t a line and the rumor is that there is always a line and they close when they sell out.  In fact KN and I were so overwhelmed with the Donut Bar selections that we let people go ahead of us. I know the donut craze is not new, but ahhh it is such a heavenly phase, one that we are all pretending not to enjoy…. I mean who would be caught dead with a donut? Only when someone has a green smoothie is everyone going to know about it and they are going to stroll around all day sipping it and taking selfies. I drink green drinks too, solely for the purpose of offsetting the detrimental sugar destroying power of donuts, and pizza, and wine, and chocolate chip cookies and bread and wine and donuts.

best donuts in the world
Mexican Hot Chocolate Donut


the donut bar san diego

This place was overwhelming. The donuts were gigantic! Those big pappa tart square frosted, sprinkled and jellied ones pictured above have an entire pop tart inside of them! KN and I were thinking that maybe the chef eats one of those to have a massive sugar rush and in that ten minute rush pumps out his crazy, new creative flavors for the next day. I mean, how many flavors can you jam into a donut? How about  Oh My Birthday Cake Oreo? Seriously, I want it but it almost gives me a headache looking at it. Sugar crashes are painful after all. 

oh my oreo birthday cake donut
Oh My B-day Cake Oreo


strawberry donut bar
Strawberry Split
maple bacon donut bar
My favorite- the Maple Bacon long john

just browsing donut bar

Took a few for the road

donut 9
Sugar makin me fuzzy eyed- These are Cake Batter Donuts

If you find yourself in San Diego (and I believe one recently opened in Las Vegas) stop in to check it out. There is quite a buzz around this store and it makes you feel like you’re on top of the happenin’ donut scene. {The shop was voted one of the top 10 donut places in the country by USA today}. I would recommend sharing and still maybe not eating another donut for at least a month…or two. And if you just want to know what the donut menu is for the day, which is much lower in cals, follow along on social media where they post the menu for the next day! @donutbar

Or try to make these baked donuts which are much smaller and not fried!

donut bar donuts
Mud Pie Donuts
donuts to go
We couldn’t decide, so we tried a few….#maplebacon, #cremebrulee #meyerlemonblueberry #samoa #bigpappatart
hashtag donut bar stairs
The stairs up to the donut lounge



Introducing dv at Target. Simple. Modern. Shoes & Accessories, available 2/23

Monday Must Have: A Floral Print Dress



1) Banana Republic Dress
1) Banana Republic 
2)Need Supply
2)Need Supply
3) Anthropologie
J Crew
4) J Crew
3) Kate Spade
5) Kate Spade
6) Asos
7) Nordstrom


Club Monaco
8) Club Monaco    

BCBG floral dress

9.) BCBG

flower shirt dress

10) Anthropologie

Flower print dresses are IN. Why? Because a certain someone that we all know of  wears them and anything she wears is an instant mega trend. Here she is:


Now this Stella McCartney dress is more than a $1,000. The exact amount? I don’t freaking know because if it costs more than a thousand dollars the additional $2 or $300 doesn’t make-a -bit-o-difference. But anyway, we all want to be her, like really want every morsel of her life, her brain, her hair, her legs, her brain, oh yeah said that, and her husband of course. (Did I mention that I shook his hand? Check that out RIGHT HERE.)


And then she wore another floral dress here. I’m not sure what brand it is, but I’m sure this is also more than $1,000…. Isn’t it interesting when someone uber cool wears something, that we WANT it? Like what are we thinking? That we could possibly measure up to their coolness? I’m not a psychologist but probably that is exactly what that means!! hahahahaha

So hurry up and get on trend ladies! Scoop up a floral dress! 

Oh and Happy Monday too……xo

The $50 Embroidered Dress You Need

h & m dress

What to do when your legs are white and it’s too chilly for a spring dress? Wear it with jeans of course! I snagged this dress for $49! I’m sure it will sell out asap. The embroidery gives it that boho vibe we all are dying to have. It will be perfect when it warms up (without jeans) but as I am writing this it is snowing sideways, so maybe I will try it with a turtleneck next. C’mon spring, Chicago is ready for ya.

We took this picture in San Diego on the last day of spring break with the kids. We had a fabulous time! Our trip started in Lake Tahoe so the boys could do some snowboarding and KN went skiing. I was not prepared to do any of that because the last time I skied was before my kids were born for one, and secondly there was a blizzard. I didn’t even pack a pair of gloves, hahahaha. 

After that we headed to San Diego. One day we were in a blizzard and the next we were biking on the beach in Coronado! Both places were firsts for my kids, and first time to Tahoe for me. If you have never been to Tahoe, holy smokes is it beautiful! Everywhere you look it’s like a postcard picture. My kids are like “we should come back here in the summer too!” 


pale blue summer dress

just browsing dress

embroidered cotton dress

zara frayed edge jeans

Shop the look here: Dress | Jeans | Booties

What are you going to wear this spring? Let me know!



Behind the Scenes at NASCAR: Interview with Johnny McMullin

nascar johnny macops

Even if you are not familiar with racing or NASCAR, this guy has a cool job. He doesn’t wear a suit to work and doesn’t sit at a desk all day. He flies all over the country on the company jet and plans the NASCAR race weekends. He has a crazy schedule, but he fit me in because he loves the sport and wants everyone to know more about it.

I met up with John McMullin Jr. at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California for the Xfinity race. He’s the Director of Industry Operations for NASCAR. He is better known as Johnny Mac-Ops around the race track, NASCAR garage and on social media (@johnnymacops). When he had a spare minute, we sat in the NASCAR hauler, his on-the-road office, and I got to ask him the details of his job and of course, about his closet. (You might be surprised!) 

{Speaking of fashion, before we get started I want to apologize for my shoes. Yes, they are Birkenstocks. Who wears those in pictures? If you have ever been to a race, you know why. You walk a 1,000 miles and when you are in the garages and pit lane you don’t sit down for hours. I also couldn’t find my cowboy boots anywhere 😉 …. I just had to go with comfort, I hope you understand…}

Johnny’s connection to NASCAR runs through his family, specifically his Mom and Dad. His Mom has worked for NASCAR for 38 years, first, as Bill France Jr’s executive assistant (the France family owns NASCAR) and now she handles the charitable requests that come into NASCAR. His Dad, has worked for NASCAR’s radio broadcasting arm, MRN, and still works some of the NASCAR affiliate series broadcasts. Johnny started out playing minor league baseball, then after blowing out his shoulder, he got a job with Fox, working his way up through the ranks and then, 11 years ago, started with NASCAR. This is a guy who loves his job, loves being in the mix, being a problem solver and being a familiar face around the track. Although he travels an insane amount, 21 race weekends this year (Thurs-Sun), he still feels left out when he is not at the track.

Johnny gave us our “hot passes” for the race. What is that you ask? Our hot passes got us access to the garages, the pit and behind the scenes, basically all-access. {Hello, super cool!} The drivers are walking around, the cars are being worked on and when the race is going, you can stand in the pit and watch the cars zip in for their 12 second pit stop.

Plain and simple, Johnny is the credential guy. He is in charge of who gets these passes and personally hands them out. “Requests from the whole industry for credentials (tickets and passes) come through me. The last minute requests from sponsors, driver’s guests, race teams and celebrities come through me. That in itself is a job”.

just-browsing nascar

Tell me the details of  your job at the race track:

“I run the operations team for NASCAR, 70% of our job is event based, which is putting on the event each weekend. Onsite we work with the staff at the track, manage everything pre-race, pace vehicles, decals for the pace car, victory lane celebration, post qualifying pole presentations, working with our competition folks, working with all other departments within NASCAR including marketing, partnerships and any guests they have. We wear a lot of hats”.

The race weekend really starts Friday morning and runs through victory lane celebration Sunday night.

Friday is knocking out the details and setup, meetings and checking the cars. One of the first things they do is “decal verification” (right?…have you ever heard of that?). If you look at a race car, in front of the number on the car are contingency decals. These are the key sponsors for NASCAR. There are 4 mandatory decals: Sunoco, GoodYear, American Ethanol and the series sponsor (Xfinity, Sprint). Johnny’s team checks the contingency decals on every single race car as soon as it’s unloaded off the haulers. Having the decals is how each team gets paid. Who would have known??  There’s also a lot of Friday meetings with their TV broadcast partners, with J. Howard Entertainment (who handles the event stuff like stages) and there is a minute by minute schedule developed for the entire weekend.  

NASCAR has many levels of their “series”, but the two premier series are the Xfinity Series and the Sprint Cup Series. Saturdays are qualifying for the Xfinity race, qualifying for the Sprint Cup race and then the Xfinity race, later in the day. Sundays are the main event….the Sprint Cup race.

Johnny setting up Scott Brorchetta, (founder Taylor Swift's record company) to drive the pace car
Johnny setting up Scott Brorchetta, (founder of Taylor Swift’s record company) to drive the pace car

On Saturday before the Xfinity race, Johnny gets the honorary pace car driver set up with a NASCAR Official who will teach the person how to drive the pace car around the track. This time it was Scott Borchetta, Big Machine Records President and CEO, and, current mentor on American Idol.

All drivers and crew chiefs are required to attend the driver meeting prior to the race. Johnny’s team sets up both driver’s meetings. “Driver meetings used to be private, but now there is a trend to have them be more public.” (letting more people attend the meeting). That means more work orchestrating the meeting, the actual set up, getting the drivers to the meeting, on top of the regular parts of the meeting which include rules of the track, race day schedules and introducing guests and dignitaries.”

Victory Lane is Johnny’s sanctuary, he is THE guy that orchestrates the madness. After the race winner does the celebratory burn out, he drives into victory lane. It appears to be a big party but there is an order of events and Johnny makes sure that live tv, live radio sponsor engagements, the hat dance, tons of photographers, sponsor pictures and of course champagne popping…go off without a hitch. (You can usually spot him standing near the car on tv)

Austin Dillon in victory lane
Austin Dillon in victory lane at the Xfinity race we were at

On promoting NASCAR: “I really get involved in promoting the sport. Unfortunately, the perception we have to battle is that it’s a bunch of redneck’s driving in a circle.” (100% my perception before I met KN and he started bringing me to races). “I have a lot of contacts with people in the music world, sports, agents, entertainers. I use my assets to host all types of celebrities and athletes…people that have never been to a race. I try to show them a first class experience, and 99.9% of people that come to a race say they had no idea NASCAR was this cool. I’ve made my niche throughout the industry as the person that can connect celebrities to the races.  For the Daytona 500 I got Ken Griffey Jr. (MLB baseball hall of fame) as the honorary starter with the green flag…he had never been to a race. Our biggest target is millennials. They don’t have the attention span for a 3 1/2 hour race.”  (Yep, or anything else. We all deal with that.) 

Who is on your list to get to a race? There are 2 guys are high on the list to get to a race. “I would love to get Justin Timberlake. I’ve also been chasing Ricky Fowler (PGA), trying to make that happen”. (I’m sure Johnny will get it done!) 

How do you handle all of this travel being gone over 80 days a year? “You have to love your job. If I didn’t love it, I couldn’t do it. Flying on the company plane is huge. Flying private is the only way it would be possible to still be doing this job.  On Sunday night we head straight from victory lane to the airport and I’ll be home by midnight. That wouldn’t be possible on commercial. I traveled commercial before, for my job at Fox, it wears you out.”  

How does this schedule effect your wife and family? ” She is a very forgiving wife. She knew what my schedule was like when we met.” He admits that it’s very hard, that it’s a tough balance, and getting harder every weekend now that their 3-year old son is starting to realize when dad is leaving.”She asks me every year am I going to cut my schedule back, but I love it, and I take pride in what I do in this sport.  I like being looked upon as THE guy. When somebody needs something, Johnny’s the guy that is going to get things “handled”.  Adding to the mix is that John’s wife also has a busy career and travels as well. “We are very busy people, she is very understanding, but it is tough. It’s stressful.”  

just browsing race track
Hey Elliott (Sadler)! Can I get a picture?


On to the good stuff….. 

Is your closet organized?

“Absolutely! I’m OCD. A neat freak. My wife is the complete opposite. It’s very organized, color coordinated. I love clothes!   I’m a very manly man, love sports, love cars, cigars, booze, stuff like that but I love clothes, love shoes. It’s pretty ridiculous how much closet space I take up.” (I can relate Johnny)

When do you shop?

“Mostly online or once in awhile I’ll seek out a special store when I travel. My wife takes very good care of me too, she’s very fashionable, she loads me up at Christmas time and stuff like that”.

How do you pack for all of this travel

“Oh, I’m a bad packer! I got in trouble a few years back with Mike Helton (NASCAR’s President) for bringing too big of a suitcase on the company plane! I always overpack. I’m bad with shoes, I’m the only one in this garage that packs 5 pair of shoes for a race weekend. If we are going somewhere nice and I know we’ll be eating at nice places, like Vegas, then it takes me longer. It probably takes me at least and hour and a half, I do it the night before and it usually entails a bottle of wine.” 

What are your favorite shoes?

Ferragamo. I probably have 13-14 pair. It’s pretty ridiculous. But I take good care of my stuff.  I know not a lot of guys say this but walking into Ferragamo on 5th Ave is one of my favorite things to do. 


And then our time was up and Johnny had to get to work. He said we could tag along.  After he set the honorary pace car driver up, we headed out to the track for the Xfinity race driver introductions. On the way he casually asked if I wanted to hand Kyle Busch (NASCAR’s reigning Champion) a hat and a sponsor check. Oh, um YES please! (Just wish I coulda changed my shoes for my 10 seconds of TV fame…)

just browsing nascar mcmullin
Johnny on the left, overseeing my check delivery to Kyle Busch
All the drivers and Johnny behind the stage
All the drivers and Johnny behind the stage
The driver's waiting to be announced backstage
The drivers backstage waiting to be announced (Jamie Little with FOX Sports with the headset on)

A big shout out to Johnny McMullin for having us. He is a genuinely cool guy that you want to hang out with and call a friend. (I would say this even if KN wasn’t a huge NASCAR fan and acted like a kid at Christmas.) So Johnny, we’ll see you at Chicagoland  Speedway this summer, right? 

pit lane nascar

Off the Shoulder Top & Culottes

just browsing fashion

These pics are from our get away in Puerto Rico at the lovely Dorado Reserve.  There were a million places to take pictures, this was outside of our room. It was so beautiful there! It rains almost everyday so that’s why everything is so green. Just look at this tree, it had these really cool lights hanging from it that were on at night. Ahhhh, just loved it. (See my previous post from Puerto Rico here)

How about these culottes tho! There is so much detail going on with them. I actually ordered them online from Nordstrom. One of their emails featured Olivia Palermo and her collaboration and that ol’ Nordstrom sucked me right in. Add to cart. Have you seen this stuff? I love all of it! She is the coolest.

culottes and off the shoulder top

just browsing puerto rico

culottes and off the shoulder


puerto rico

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Off the shoulder top: here


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