Category: Five Senses Friday

Five Senses Friday – June 14

Five Senses Friday | | Join the fun! #5sensesfri

Sight – I watched a documentary this week called Nursery University which is about the competitive admission process to New York City pre-schools. Pre-school! I can’t imagine paying $20,000 a year in tuition to send my kid to pre-school, but apparently it is rather normal in Manhattan. My undergraduate college education wasn’t that expensive! Insanity!

Hear – My super awesome Zumba teacher taught her last class at my college gym this week. She was a BIG source of inspiration for me over the last two years. Before I left my full-time job, I was in a total funk and working out very inconsistently. I couldn’t find the motivation most days to hit the gym after my long commute to and from work. I had heard a lot about Zumba but, not being a dancer, was always intimidated to try it out. I walked into her Zumba class on a whim figuring I could leave if I didn’t like it. I got totally hooked and started rearranging my schedule to fit her classes into my workout routine. I am sad to see her leave! If I ever find myself in a Latin dance club, watch out because I have some moves up my sleeve!

zumba class pic |
An “after” pic of our class. Julia is to the right of the two guys holding the card!

Feel – I did my first chin-up this week! I feel extremely proud of myself. Weight lifting has been tough at times. It can be intimidating to lift next to all the bulky men in the weight room, but I am getting stronger everyday and it is good motivation to keep going. In the picture below, I was doing single arm rows with 30 pound weights and alternating between sets of 12 reps and sets of cross leg push ups. It’s harder than it sounds!
Strong is the new skinny

Smell – I made rose water this week using rose petals from our backyard. The smell as it’s cooking is so wonderful. It’s as if you are sitting in the middle of a rose garden in the country.

Cucina Kristina |
Rose petals. By the way, there’s no filter or Photoshop here!

Taste – Rick Bayless has a new line of sauces and marinades out on the market. My husband has been asking me to make enchiladas for about two weeks and I finally caved. I decided to take the lazy route and use a pre-packaged sauce and the result was really tasty! You can find the recipe for them here. My husband gobbled them up and told me that he would be happy eating these every week for the rest of our marriage. That’s a pretty bold statement coming from him as he gets bored with food very quickly and rarely eats leftovers!

Chicken Enchiladas | Cucina Kristina |

Five Senses Friday – June 7


Sight – I stumbled upon this adorable animation film last night and have watched it no less than 10 times. It’s so silly and makes me laugh!

“Two Chips” / An Animated Short from Adam Patch on Vimeo.

Hear – Believe it or not, I discovered this woman’s voice when I was shopping in Crate and Barrel. The overhead music they play isn’t always terrible! Her voice is seductive and she is gorgeous; it makes me sad that I don’t live in Ireland and have the ability to see this woman perform live.

Feel – I submitted my final teaching portfolio on Wednesday (yay!) and am breathing a huge sigh of relief because school is OVER. Never in a million years did I ever imagine that graduate school would be as time-consuming as it was. I feel as though I have been completely MIA since I enrolled in my teaching program; I hope my friends remember my face! 🙂 I am looking forward to enjoying the summer. Now, if only the weather would cooperate!

Cucina Kristina |
55˚ what? IT’S JUNE!

Smell – Our peonies are blooming! We picked a few and brought them inside. They have been livening up our kitchen all week. I wish they lasted longer! Because they are so delicate, I stood them upright in an empty pasta sauce jar while I looked for a vase. I ended up thinking they looked really cute in the empty sauce jar, especially in the kitchen, so I kept them in there all week.

Use an empty sauce jar as a vase! Cucina Kristina |

Taste – The two giant rose bushes we have in the yard are also in bloom. They were totally barren up until a few days ago. I intended to make rose water last summer and never got around to it. That is on my definitely to-do list this year! Rose water has many beauty benefits, but something about rose water cocktails and rose water ice cream is intriguing to me. I love, love, LOVE floral teas and am looking forward to experimenting with homemade rose water.

Cucina Kristina |

Five Senses Friday – April 5


Sight – I watched a documentary on Netflix this week called Bully. Bullying is a subject that I feel very passionately about and one that I plan on addressing every year when I become a teacher. It is heartbreaking to see what these kids go through and it is unacceptable that it is allowed to happen in schools. All I have to say is that WORDS HURT. Be nice to each other. We are all human beings trying to achieve the same goal. Happiness.

Hear – There are birds chirping outside my window as I type this. This may not be a very exciting to some people, but to Chicagoans it means that spring is here! I think spring might be my favorite season. I love the idea of rebirth and fresh starts that come with the spring season.

Feel – Anticipation. With spring just around the corner, that is what I have been feeling all week! I can’t wait to plant our garden and enjoy fresh produce from our backyard.

Smell – I love the smell of coffee brewing in the morning. A few weeks ago my brother sent me this article on cold brewing coffee. Apparently, heat makes coffee super bitter and acidic. Cold brewing it helps develop flavor and makes the coffee taste smoother. I am going to give it a whirl tomorrow. I’ll report back!

Taste – The New York Times article The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food by Michael Moss was floating around Facebook for a few weeks last month. I finally sat down to read it in its entirety. It’s a long read, but very interesting and worth a look if you’ve got the time. It brought the perspective of the processed food industry into light and I found myself understanding their point of view more than I thought I would.

Five Senses Friday

Sight – In a previous Five Senses Friday post I mentioned that I had purchased season tickets to the Steppenwolf Theater. Last night, I saw Motherfu**er With the Hat and, as usual, it did not disappoint. The play had some colorful language (as you can probably guess by the title) so it might not be for everyone, but I really enjoyed it.

I was seated next to a young man (probably around 21-23 if I had to guess) who was in town from San Antonio. He was here auditioning for various Graduate school and theater programs. He was taking notes throughout the entire play and, when the play was over, I could tell he wanted to give the actors a standing ovation. He practically leaped out of his seat, but instead sat on the edge as he looked around and saw no one else was standing. I reminded me a lot of myself at that age. You are fresh out of college, have no ties to a particular city, and have the whole world at your fingertips!

Hear – We have been talking a lot about inquiry-based learning and dispelling student misconceptions in my science class. By chance, This American Life ran a podcast called “Kid Logic,” which examines stories of kids coming to incorrect conclusions using logical rationale.

Feel – I feel very stressed out this week. I have a packed couple of weeks leading up to the start of my student teaching. I haven’t been practicing yoga over the last few weeks and as I struggled to quiet my mind before bed last night, I realized that I need to make sure I am working my practice into my daily life. I feel much more calm and relaxed throughout the day when I am regularly doing Vinyasa flows!

Smell – The sense of smell can be a powerful memory trigger. I was wondering how smell and memory were linked this week so I Googled around and found this article in the New York Times. It is an interesting read about how the brain links memories to certain smells and the biology behind how they connect.

Taste – It’s Restaurant Week in Chicago! Restaurant Week is when participating restaurants around the city offer pre-fixe $22 lunch menus and $33/$44 dinner menus. It is a great way to experience certain restaurants around the city that you may not otherwise be able to afford. My girlfriends and I dined at Café Des Architectes on Wednesday night.

Five Senses Friday

Sight – In my last Five Senses Friday post, I wrote about the Christmas lights in Naples (Long Beach), California. My mom and I made it up there last night to walk around and it did not disappoint!

Naples Island in Long Beach, California
Naples Island in Long Beach, California
This house had 7 Christmas trees set up in the courtyard!
This house had 7 Christmas trees set up in the courtyard!
Long Beach, California
Long Beach, California
The sign says "Griswold's Family Christmas"
The sign says “Griswold’s Family Christmas”
The mouth portion is a movie screep projecting The Polar Express!
The mouth portion is a movie screen projecting The Polar Express! The homeowner was also selling hot chocolate.
Check out snowboard santa in the upper right hand corner.
Check out snowboard Santa in the upper right hand corner.
Naples Island, Long Beach, California
Naples Island, Long Beach, California


Hear – The thing I love most about being in California is the ability to swim outside! The thing I love the most about swimming is the silence. I love the fact that you hear nothing but the swishing of H2O once you put your face in the water. Very relaxing.

Feel – Today, I am feeling very happy that the winter solstice is upon us. That means the nights are getting shorter, the days are getting longer, and summer is a mere 6 months away!

Smell – My nose has been tickled with the scent of fresh basil growing in my mom’s backyard. I can’t wait to make some pesto and Caprese salads!

Taste – The first thing I did when I arrived in California was swing by Wahoo’s for lunch. It has become a tradition to make it my first food stop. If there were a Wahoo’s in Chicago, I might not be so grumpy in the winter months. Hmmm… franchise opportunity, maybe?

Five Senses Friday

Sight – I love looking at Christmas lights in December! It is one of my favorite childhood memories. In California, we have two really amazing Christmas light displays. One is in Fountain Valley and the other is in Naples. There is an entire neighborhood in Fountain Valley near Brookhurst St. & Heil Ave. where people intricately embellish their homes, each more elaborate than the next. The homes in Napels (near Long Beach, California) also decorate their homes beautifully. You can walk along the canal and see them all reflecting off the water. I was looking for something comparable in Chicago, but haven’t been able to find anything. We drove up to Lincolnwood this week to check out some areas that people were raving about. While these lights were gorgeous, they did not hold a candle to the ones I am used to seeing in California. I am excited to be home for the holidays and get my fill of Christmas lights!

Hear – I have mentioned how much I love listening to old vintage radio shows. So, when a Groupon popped up to see the 1940’s radio rendition of It’s a Wonderful Life at the Biograph Theater, I couldn’t turn it down. This was one of the best things I have seen all year! Since this was a play, it should technically be listed under “sight,” but I am putting it here because it felt like I watching a recording of a radio show. They had a live Foley artist doing sound effects, took “commercial breaks,” and had people performing multiple character voices. It was so, so, so cool!

Smell – Since I have such a long school break, I am going to be spending almost 3 weeks in California for the holidays. We decided against getting a real Christmas tree since I wouldn’t be around for all of December. I am really missing the smell of a real tree around the house! I thought about getting a wreath from our local nursery to bring that pine smell into our home, but time got away from me. I leave on Tuesday morning! Oh well, next year!

I love old wooden ornaments!
I love old wooden ornaments!

Feel – My Foodie Penpal from last month, Kellie, sent me a surprise Christmas gift yesterday! I can’t explain how much my heart swelled with the Christmas spirit when I opened the package. It was a totally unexpected surprise and it was so thoughtful!

Love the duct tape!
Love the patterned shipping tape!

Taste – One of my friends is moving to Europe so we went to dinner at Sprout on Tuesday night. It is Dale Levitski’s restaurant for those of you that are fans of Top Chef. We decided to do the 10 course tasting menu and wow… the food was so good! Out of all 10 dishes, I didn’t care much for two of them. However, those two dishes were still unbelievably flavorful and beautiful plated. I don’t know how the judges on Top Chef do it.

Happy Friday!

Five Senses Friday

Yeesh, I’ve had a busy week! I’m in the midst of final exams and I am taking my state certification test for teaching on Saturday. I feel very overwhelmed and am hoping I make out alive! 🙂

Five Senses Friday is something I’ve started to look forward to and really enjoy. Feel free to join me and share your week in five senses. If you are on Twitter, use the hashtag #5sensesfri.

Sight – I go to a lot of plays. There is something magical about the theater, I can’t get enough of it. My girlfriend and I got tickets to the pre-Broadway premier (in Chicago) of Kinky Boots through Groupon last week. It was FANTASTIC! If you are in New York in 2013 and are looking for a play to see, I would highly recommend it. The music was great, the choreography was unbelievable, the cast was energetic and brought the crowd to their feet with cheers multiple times. One of the best musicals I have seen in a long time.

HearEd Sheeran has been gracing my Spotify all week. I discovered him on Twitter. I love the internet.

Smell – I workout at a small studio in Lincoln Park called Pure Wellness. If you are in Chicago, you should check them out! Each of their classes ends with a short period of restorative yoga. I leave every single class feeling so relaxed, which is not always the case after a workout. At the end of each class as we are lying in our shavasanas, the instructor walks around with scented essential oils adding another layer of relaxation onto our practice.

Feel – Tuesday was my first time voting in Illinois and voting with my married name. I always feel empowered after voting and love that I have the opportunity to make my voice heard. Since I am sure we are all on election overload, I’ll just leave it at that. 🙂

Taste – A friend of mine is a reporter for Chicago Public Radio here in Chicago. This weekend she was facilitating a discussion at the Chicago Humanities Festival about chocolate. One of the speakers was representing one of my favorite chocolate shops in Chicago, Vosges Haut Chocolat. The owner, Katrina, used to run these amazing chocolate pairing events in her Lincoln Park store. Her flavors are inspired by her travels and she aims to share her experiences and allow her customers to travel the world through chocolate. The chocolate can be pricey (around $8 for a bar), but it is high-quality and unique. It makes perfect gifts and definitely can lift a girls’ spirits when she is having a rough day.

Five Senses Friday

Sight – I watched this beautiful time-lapse video of Chicago this week. I think it captures the city’s charm perfectly. 2:40 is the venue I was married in!

Hear – I received my student teaching placement for the spring quarter. I will be in a kindergarten classroom at the school that was my #1 choice. I am going to start visiting once a week to get acclimated to the classroom culture and get to know the kids. This week I went with them to P.E., Technology, and recess. Kindergarteners are LOUD, but I love it! The sound of kids playing, laughing, crying, whining, and talking is infinitely better than the hum of fluorescent lights or the drone of computers that saturated my old cubicle.

Feel – I had to see the endonologist today for a toothache. I may need a root canal. I am pretty nervous and upset about the idea of a root canal. It sounds super painful.

Smell – Today as I left for work, I noticed the last rose on our rose bush clinging to life. It is refusing to give into the chilly fall weather. I took a whif before snapping this picture.

What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet

Taste – Saturday was the last day of the outdoor Green City Farmer’s Market. It is one of my favorite Farmer’s Markets in the city. It does remain open year-round at an indoor location, but it is not the same. I love the changing of the seasons, but I hate saying goodbye to summer and fall.

Cucina Kristina: Ornamental Cabbage
Ornemental Cabage

The thing I love the most about Farmer’s Markets are the unique finds you can stumble upon. One of my go-to vendors, Tomato Mountain Farm, sells awesome salsa. My favorite is their Habanero Salsa. Don’t be fooled by the Habanero! The heat is very nice, not overly spicy, but definitely comes through in flavor. This is the type of salsa that dances on your taste buds as opposed to frying them!
The fire roasted salsa is tasty, too!

I also bought some Bogatyr garlic. Being from California, I love my garlic. Did you know that California supplies 90% of the garlic grown in the United States? I’d never heard of Bogatyr garlic, but the sign above it intrigued me.
The internet reveals that the correct spelling of this should be “Bogatyr” garlic.

As you can see at the bottom of the photo, this garlic is purple and white striped. So fun!

What is tickling your five senses this week?

Five Senses Friday

Sight: I love the Steppenwolf Theater. I have seen many plays there since moving to Chicago, and I can honestly say that each one of them has been fantastic. I have never left with that “ehhhh” feeling. This year, I bought student season tickets and went to my first performance last night. If you are a student and live in Chicago, I highly recommend their subscription. It’s $125 for all 5 plays throughout the year, which is a steal if you can afford it! Last night I saw Good People. It was hilarious at times and extremely intense at others. Definitely a great play to begin my year-long subscription. A+

Hear: With over 11 million YouTube views, I am probably not linking up anything new here, but my mind was completely blown by this video by the Piano Guys this week.

Feel: On Wednesday, my super awesome Zumba teacher held a Zumbathon to raise money for breast cancer. Breast cancer is something we are all familiar with, especially in the month of October. October is flooded with various fundraisers, walks, runs, and events that benefit the Susan G. Komen Foundation; however, I think that in the midst of fundraising, people can often forget one of the most important messages about breast cancer awareness month, and that is to CHECK YOURSELF! Seriously, ladies. Do a self-exam once a month even if there is no history of breast cancer in your family. “Only about 13 percent of women diagnosed have an immediate female relative (mother, sister or daughter) with breast cancer” (source). Checking yourself regularly is so important because if you become familiar with the way your breasts look and feel you will notice an abnormality way before a doctor will. Cancer is so much easier to treat when found early.

I created a calendar event in my phone that goes off on the 18th of every month and reminds me to do a quick self-exam. There are also a ton of free apps available that will enable you to set monthly reminders, have nifty colored diagrams, and a ton of factual information. Take charge of your health and check yourself, check yourself, check yourself!

Smell: If you follow me on Instagram (cucina_kristina) or Twitter you’ve already seen these photos, but I am just loving the fall we are having in Chicago this year! I love how crisp and clean the air smells this time of year, especially after it rains.

Taste: After the Zumbathon, my girlfriends and I stopped into Barrelhouse Flat to get some dinner and cocktails. I had their Taking Care of Fizzness, which consisted of Old Fitzgerald B.I.B, cynar, maple syrup, habanero syrup, pineapple, lemon,  and soda water. I am going to make it my job to replicate this drink at home. Did I mention I have a few of these lying around?
Perfect for making Habanero syrup!

Happy Friday!

Five Senses Friday

Sight – This week I watched this adorable video called Caine’s Arcade. I was incredibly inspired not only by Caine, but also by the filmmaker, Nirvan. I think we can all learn a small lesson from watching Nirvan’s childlike spirit. I can’t help but think of all the people who walked past Caine’s arcade without giving it a second thought because they were rushing home to make dinner, hurrying to catch a bus, or just thought it was a silly little project Caine was working on to occupy himself over the summer. I think as adults we often lose the ability to PLAY because we get caught up in paying bills, working overtime, sitting in traffic, household chores, etc., etc.

This time next year, I will be teaching in a Chicago Public School, most likely in a low-income area. I wish every teacher, principal, and administrator would watch this video and realize that you do not need fancy supplies and expensive electronic equipment to spark creativity and innovation amongst kids. I think it also shows the importance of project-based learning. I can’t wait to use this idea in my future classroom and see what kids will make using everyday cardboard items. The possibilities are endless!

Hear – I saw Regina Spektor live in concert at the Chicago Theater on Wednesday night. Holy moly. That was one of the best live concerts I have ever been to in my life. She is incredibly talented and wonderful live.

Feel – I activated my 3-month membership to Pure Wellness this week. I can’t say enough fantastic things about this place. Small class sizes (maximum of 10), serene atmosphere, great teachers, awesome support from the ladies that attend the classes, and a clean facility. I had been going there consistently all summer but haven’t been in almost 8 weeks. Terrible! I started off with my favorite class they offer, Pure Core. Boy am I feeling muscles I forgot I had!

Smell – My favorite smell in the entire world is garlic and onion sautéing in olive oil. When I was in college, I was waiting in line at the post office. An older woman came in and was noticeably flustered. I started talking to her and found out that she had just had an argument with her husband. I asked her what it was about and she told me she was irritated because she had been working all day cleaning the house while he sat on the couch watching TV. He had been hounding her to make him some food and she was really annoyed that he couldn’t get off the couch and make himself  “a damn sandwich.” So, she put some olive oil, garlic, and onions in a pan, turned on the stove and left. She said the smell of the onions and garlic will trick him into thinking she is cooking. “He’s going to notice you’re gone eventually,” I said. “So?” she replied. I laughed and think of her every time I cook with olive oil, onions, and garlic.

Cucina Kristina: Garlic, Onion, Olive Oil
Best smell on Earth!

Taste – I bought a pack of Chimes Ginger/Mango Chews while I was waiting in line at Binny’s. It was a total impulse buy, but I am having a hard time exercising self-control with them! They are SO good. Definitely recommend them.

Happy Friday, and have a fantastic weekend!