Author Archives: madindy

Neptune’s Comedy Club

Neptune’s Comedy Club

Tired of visiting the movie theater for your cold weather entertainment?
Today I thought I’d shed some light on a new comedy club that’s opening this week in Chicago’s Northwest Suburbs. The comedy club is called Neptune’s Comedy Club, started by my very own hubby, Matt Sommerfield, who is producing the show and warming up the crowd each week.
Here’s an interview I did with Matt to let you know all about this great new entertainment hub!
Be sure to check it out… I’ll be there!

Q: What is Neptune’s Comedy Club?
A: Matt:
Neptune’s Comedy Club is a new, clean comedy club opening at Port Edward Restaurant in Algonquin, IL. The club was created by local Chicago Comedian Matt Sommerfield (me), with the purpose of bringing professional, clean comedy to the northwest suburbs.
Q: What kind of comedians can people expect to see at Neptune’s?
A: You can expect to see veteran comedians coming to perform at Neptune’s. I look to hire comedians with excellent credentials. Many have been on Comedy Central and WGN. Several have performed with other professional comedians such as Jerry Seinfeld, Brian Regan, Jay Leno and many more!

Q: When are the shows?
A: Shows are every Thursday night at 7:30pm at Port Edward Restaurant in Algonquin, IL (Starting February 10th, 2011, this week).

Q: Where is Neptune’s Comedy Club located?
A: Neptune’s Comedy Club is located at 20 West Algonquin Road, Algonquin, IL 60102 inside Port Edward Restaurant.
Q: What kind of food and drinks can people order at Neptune’s?
A: There is a full 40′s style bar in the club and people can order wine, cocktails and beer as well as sodas and water. Appetizers will be available for purchase during the show. If you want the full experience come in at about 6pm and order the Bistro Menu! The food is excellent and its a great in-expensive 4 course meal before you go and enjoy your show. Allow at least an hour and a half eat time before the show starts.
Photo (Ken Sevara, headlining comedian this week at Neptune’s Comedy Club)
Q: How can people get tickets to the shows? And how much do tickets cost?
A: You can get tickets many different ways for the show.
You can go to www.neptunescomedy.com and order there.
You can call the restaurant at 847.658.5441 and order on the phone or reserve your tickets to pay at the door.
You can go to http://portedward.com/neptunecomedy.htm and order tickets through the restaurant’s site as well.

If you order tickets on the phone or on Port Edwards website make sure you tell them which show you are coming to see.
We have a variety of ticket prices. They are as follows:
TICKETS
$12 each – Pre-Sale single ticket reservation
$15 each – at the door
GROUP RATE TICKET PACKAGES:*
$11.50 each for 4 tickets = $46
$10.50 each for 8 tickets = $84
$10.00 each for 12 tickets = $120
*(Group rates not available at the door)

Photo (Matt Sommerfield, producing and opening each week at Neptune’s Comedy Club)
Q: Valentine’s Day is coming up soon. Would this show make a good date night?
A: Absolutely. The big thing here is that you don’t have to spend a ton of money and you don’t have to worry about the content being embarrassing or inappropriate. I don’t think taking someone to a comedy club where they feel uncomfortable and humiliated makes for a good date night. Plus, it is a very romantic atmosphere. Candlelit tables, wine, appetizers and good clean comedy!

Q: Can Neptune’s accommodate a larger group (say 8 to 10 people) coming together to celebrate a birthday?

A: Absolutely! We are working on birthday, anniversary and other party packages as well! Right now you can order group rate tickets to save money! I am working on putting together some other incentives as well for future shows!

Q: Where can people find more information about Neptune’s Comedy Club?
A: If you want to know more about Neptune’s Comedy Club, see who’s performing and buy tickets, check out www.neptunescomedy.com. You can also follow us on facebook http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_183242201688754 and twitter http://www.twitter.com/neptunescomedy
Thanks for the great information, Matt! Finally a comedy club that has great entertainment and a great atmosphere, that’s affordable and close to home for us suburbanites!
You can check out a preview of the comedy you can expect to see by watching video clips on Matt’s website www.mattsommerfield.com.

Fiery Winter Sky

Fiery Winter Sky

If you’re like me by this time in February you’re ready for Spring! I’m so over the frigid temps and massive amounts of snow. But, I have to admit that I came home one day last week at dusk to this Fiery Winter Sky. It made me stand in awe out in the cold for a few minutes. I ran inside, grabbed my camera, and captured this bit of wintery beauty.
Enjoy these gorgeous winter sky scenes and remember, Spring will come again!


Breakfast on a Restricted Diet

Breakfast on a Restricted Diet

One of my biggest challenges with my restricted diet has been what to eat for breakfast. Since I don’t eat gluten, dairy, or eggs (the main ingredients in breakfast foods) breakfast has been a challenge. But, I have some ideas…

I like to mix gluten free cereals.

I combine this sweet GF cereal (Sunrise Maple Crunch) with a more bland cereal like GF Chex. It helps vary the flavor as you eat it and the Chex is a lot less expensive so it makes the more expensive GF cereal go further.

I like to get some protein in the morning, so I generally add unsalted sunflower seeds. They add an extra crunch and 1 oz. of sunflowers seeds contains 6 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber. I then top the cereal with blueberries (when available) and rice milk.

Hope this gives you a start to a great breakfast even on a restricted diet!

Have a great weekend. I’ll see you on Monday! Happy Super Bowl!

Baby Shower Details

Baby Shower Details

Earlier this week I featured a diaper cake that I made for a baby shower I helped throw last weekend. I feel like I keep running across more and more pregnant ladies due this Spring. So, I thought you may enjoy seeing some of the details for this Baby Shower to give you some ideas for a Baby Shower you may be throwing in the near future! No paper streamers or heavily frosted cakes here…Check it out!

Above you can see the diaper cake as a decoration on the central coffee table.

I loved this chair layout for the Baby Shower. The mom-to-be got a big comfy chair to sit in with all the ladies’ chairs surrounding, so they could easily see the gift opening. The coffee table and rug in the center helped the space to feel more intimate, anchoring all the seats into one seating area.

Forget the plastic cups and plates, we used a classic cut glass punch bowl and traditional punch glasses. We (the four of us who threw the shower) decided we had these great items at our disposal and didn’t mind washing dishes if it meant using these beautiful pieces. Back to the classic entertaining pieces…yeahhh!

We really used minimal decor for the Baby Shower, but it really turned out beautiful. Since Cheri, the mom-to-be, is having a boy and her nursery theme is nautical, we tied all the decor at the shower together with a color palette that reflects that: Blue (more turquoise), Yellows, and White.

Above you can see the food table with a simple yellowish gold linen and a large turquoise vase filled with flowers in yellows and white with large winding stems to give it a little earthy flair.

Because we kept the food really simple we used varying height stands and trays for displaying the food to giving the table a rich appeal. We kept the food really simple with fresh fruits and a veggie tray with 3 different kinds of hummus, 2 trays of miniature quiches, and brownie and cookie bars. No heavily frosted cake here…every shower I’ve been to, it never seems to really get eaten (ladies seem to not like the heavy icing).

We had the privilege of using the beautiful traditional appetizer plates that have a ring to hold the punch glasses. They’re not only beautiful, but so practical. They allow you to hold your plate of food and punch glass with one hand, while chatting and eating at the same time. Love these!

I love using what I have and Re-Purpose It in order to decorate. These little turquoise vases are actually votive candle holders. I just loved the color and thought they’d be perfect for the event. So, I purchased one bunch of simple white fresh flowers and cut them to fit in these little “vases.” We set these little arrangements around on some taller bistro tables and next to the diaper cake on the coffee table. They’re small, but really added a pop!

As a host of a shower I think its important to have a clearly designated space for people to put their gifts for the mom-to-be. I think the best way to designate the gift drop spot is to place a table near where the guests will enter and designate “this is where gifts go” by simply placing one gift there. People will get the idea and then you won’t have to answer 20 questions of “where should I put my gift.” We just simply moved the table to the gathering area when it was time to open gifts.

This Baby Shower was a great time. I hope you feel inspired for your next event to think beyond the paper streamers and heavily frosted cakes! Let your creative mind run wild!

The mom-to-be and each of us hosting got to take home a small bunch of flowers from the shower to put into bud vases at home. I put mine in this beautiful bud vase that was a wedding gift from my sis. Its been really nice to have fresh flowers in my home this week…A preview of Spring!

Slow Cooker Chicken with Italian Sausage

Slow Cooker Chicken with Italian Sausage

Because its still freezing cold around much of the country today, I thought I’d share a warm, hearty slow cooker recipe with you. I served this Slow Cooker Chicken with Italian Sausage with oven roasted broccoli and asparagus and a side salad. It makes great left overs too. Talk about comfort food on a restricted diet…well, here you go!

Ingredients:
10 oz. mild or hot Italian Sausage (GF), casings removed
5 or 6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 can (15 oz.) great northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (15 oz.) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup (GF) chicken broth
1 medium onion, chopped
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
Chopped fresh parsley (serve on top)

Directions:
1. Brown sausage in large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring to separate; drain fat. Spoon into slow cooker.
2. Trim fat from chicken. Place chicken, beans, broth, onion, pepper and salt in slow cooker. Cover; cook on LOW 5 to 6 hours.
3. Adjust seasonings, if desired. Chicken should be tender and fall apart as you stir (I like it to a shredded consistency). Garnish with parsley as desired.

* Recipe Source: Rival Crock Pot Slow Cooker Recipes

Super Bowl Bash

Super Bowl Bash

Those who know me know that I’m really not that interested in football unless the Colts are playing (I’m a Hoosier down to the bone). The only thing that really gets me excited about football or the Super Bowl is the social aspect, a Super Bowl Party! I saw these awesome ideas to “Deck Out Your Super Bowl Bash” on the Today Show this morning and thought I’d share.

Hope this video will give you some great ideas to Deck Out Your Super Bowl Bash this year! There’s still time, so get going!
Click on the video below to check it out.

I love these party decor ideas because they’re a little more classy than your typical paper streamers in your team’s favorite colors. They use serving dishes you already have and stuff you can pick up at the grocery or hardware store. But my favorite aspect of this decor is that much of it you can eat. Hope your Super Bowl Bash will be a little extra special this year!

Closer Look: Loose Leaf Teas

Closer Look: Loose Leaf Teas

I thought I’d share something today that’ll warm you right up during this cold winter weather!
Today I’m taking a Closer Look at Loose Leaf Teas.
I fell in love with loose leaf teas a few years ago. They taste so much better than bagged teas and have healing properties as well.
I wanted to share my love of these teas with you by introducing you to my loose leaf tea source.

I met Lauren Heller, a friend of a friend, who owns her own loose leaf tea business called Our SpecialTEA. She is a wealth of knowledge on the subject and that’s why today I’m sharing an interview I did with Lauren on Loose Leaf Teas.
So, if you love tea, have never liked tea in the past, are interested in what loose leaf tea is, or interested in the healing properties keep reading. You can check out Lauren’s Loose Leaf Teas at: www.ourspecialtea.com/

Q: Lauren, how is loose leaf tea different than tea I could buy at the grocery in tea bags?
A: Lauren: “The tea bags that are available today are much different than the ones from even 3 years ago. The newest trend are tea pyramids and larger type filter bags for larger leaves. These types of tea “bags” are much better than your traditional tea bag. Tea bags are typically made from the “dust” of the picked tea crop. Company’s such as ours receive the top of the picking which are full, bright, fresh leaves and tea bags are made from the dust and broken pieces that fall to the bottom. The tea bags will also brew a much more heavy and harsher tea taste.”

Q: What are the different types of teas?
A: Lauren: “You can go greatly in depth with this question but the basics that the United States are familiar with are: Green, White, Black, Herbal (Tisane), Oolong and Rooibos. The difference is based upon processing techniques; wilting, firing, drying, etc.”

Q: What are the health benefits of loose leaf teas?
A: Lauren: “Where to begin??? If you go to our site www.ourspecialtea.com/Loose_leaf_teas.html you will find a lengthy section that pertains to the limited explanation of health benefits.”

Q: I know you have young children and use the loose leaf teas to treat a lot of ailments. What are some ailments that you treat with loose leaf teas?
A: Lauren: “A big treatment in our house is for cold or fever. I use a lot of peppermint leaf for fevers because it naturally cools the body. It also is wonderful for opening up the lungs and air passages. Some of my other favorites are our Chamomile Anthem (blend of Peppermint, Rooibos and Chamomile), Citrus Splash Wellness (all herbal mix with lots of citrus fruits, full of vitamins) and White teas…they are full of antioxidants.”

Q: What’s your personal favorite of all the teas?
A: Lauren: “My personal favorite category is Oolong. I love that an Oolong brews such a beautiful amber-like color. It’s taste is subtle yet holds its own. It is a nice balance between a Black tea and white/green tea. They offer such incredible health benefits as well.”

Q: If someone says they generally don’t drink tea, what is one loose leaf tea you think they may like?
A: Lauren: “I first ask people what they have tried. If it was grandma’s sun tea or tea from a restaurant, I like to suggest that they try something that doesn’t have such a harsh, “tea” taste from the tannins in the tea being steeped improperly. I would suggest an herbal or Rooibos. But if you have a good source of loose tea, and it is brewed properly, all the teas taste wonderful. Even to the pickiest of pallets.”

Q: What’s you favorite sweetener to add to tea?
A: Lauren: “I typically don’t add sweetener to my tea because I like to get the full flavor of the tea in its “naked” form but if I do, I make sure it is natural. So I choose either an organic sugar, raw sugar, honey or agave nectar. I do enjoy a good strong black tea and add just a touch of organic soy creamer. Tastes amazing!”

A special thanks to Lauren Heller for sharing her wealth of knowledge with us!

I wanted to share that I generally brew my loose leaf tea in a tea strainer like the one shown above. My personal favorite of all the teas are the Rooibos Teas. I find they really relieve my allergy and asthma symptoms even on days when allergy medicine doesn’t seem to work (and trust me the bagged Rooibos Tea just does not work the same).

You can find out more information about Loose Leaf Teas and purchase the teas and accessories from Our SpecialTEA online.
They really make great gifts! Drink up!

Blizzard 2011 Photos

Blizzard 2011 Photos

Today in the whole Chicagoland area, we’re all snowed in. For those of you elsewhere in the country, I thought you may like to see photos of the famous Blizzard 2011. Its the 3rd largest storm in Chicago’s recorded history. The photo above was taken just outside my front door this morning.

Above you can see snow passed my window sills and that thing in the snow there is my grill.

Officially O’Hare Airport recorded 20.2″ of snow in the last day and there are 50 mph winds with temperatures dropping below zero with windchill in the next 24 hours. Gotta love living in this area of the country!

In the photo above you can see my picnic table seats completely covered in snow and my neighbor’s dog in the back ground. This is a really large dog and he could barely move in the deep snow.

Here you can see my hubby, Matt, using our sleds as snow shoes trying to get to our shovel on the end of our deck.

Here he’s starting to shovel out our front door.

“Go Matt go! Conquer that snow! Great job!”- I guess you could say I’m the cheer leader!

If you’re in the Chicagoland area today, I hope you’re home safe and warm or playing in the massive amounts of snow!
Stay warm!

Zesty Tortilla Soup

Zesty Tortilla Soup

For those of us in the Chicagoland area today, we could use a little warm comfort food today since this (below) is what it looks like out our front doors today.

Last week I had a question from Laura. She has a friend that just had a baby who has many of the same food restrictions that I have. And Laura, being a great friend, really wanted to bring her a warm meal. She said she had chicken stock and half a chicken worth of meat and wanted to make something using those ingredients. Since Tortilla Soup is one of my all time favorites this was my suggestion. I got so hungry for it just suggesting it, that I made it the next day.

Hope this Zesty Tortilla Soup will warm you right up while snowed in!

Ingredients:
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
1 (10.5 oz.) can condensed chicken broth (I used regular chicken broth)
1 1/4 cups water
1 cup whole corn kernels, cooked
1 cup white hominy
1 (4 oz.) can chopped green chile peppers (I used my whole 7 oz. can because I like it a little spicier)
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 boneless chicken breasts, cooked and chopped into bite size pieces

*It looks like a lot of ingredients, but I love it because it used mostly can goods and spices you’ll have on hand

Directions:
1. In a stock pot heat olive oil and cook chopped chicken. Add onion and garlic once chicken begins to cook. Cook until onion is soft and chicken is cooked through.
2. Stir in oregano, chili powder, crushed tomatoes, broth, and water. Bring to a boil and simmer 5 to 10 minutes.
3. Stir in corn, hominy, chiles, beans, and cilantro. Simmer for 10 minutes.
4. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
5. Serve with chopped green onions, more fresh cilantro, or corn tortilla chips. If you can eat dairy and avacados you can serve it with shredded cheese, sour cream, and slices of avacados.


*Recipe Source: www.allrecipes.com//Recipe/chicken-tortilla-soup-i/Detail.aspx
(I slightly altered the recipe from the original and found it to taste a little better.)

I thought you may be wondering what hominy is, just like I was. (Above) Here’s what it looks like.
“Hominy is dried white or yellow corn kernels from which the hull and germ have been removed”
Source: www.food.com/library/hominy-553
This is the first time I had eaten hominy and I loved it. It has a texture somewhere between corn and potatoes.
Hope you enjoy this new ingredient in this tasty soup!

Diaper Cakes

Diaper Cakes

I’ve always wanted to make a diaper cake and this last week I had the opportunity to do just that! A few of my girlfriends and I threw a baby shower for another friend due to have her baby in just a couple weeks. We wondered what we could do for decor and what gift we could give her and the diaper cake seemed like just the perfect thing! Read on to see how you can snatch one of these great diaper cakes for your next baby shower.

For this diaper cake I used 100, size 2 Pampers Diapers that the mom-to-be can use for her little one in the not too far future. All of the toys and baby care items on the cake were items from her baby registry, so its stuff she’ll definitely use.

The items on this cake include 3 baby bottles (2 on the inside of the cake, 1 on the lower tier), 2 sippy cups, 1 baby teething toy, 1 baby comb and 1 baby brush, and 1 giraffe sensory toy.

The navy blue and white striped ribbon with touches of pale yellow ribbon with white polka dots I chose to use on this diaper cake was inspired by the mom-to-be’s nautical themed nursery.

This diaper cake was a hit! As you can see (below) it was a beautiful centerpiece that was usable decoration for the baby shower. The mom-to-be can leave it put together for a time in her nursery as decor, or disassemble it and use the items as soon as her baby arrives.

I loved making this diaper cake and it turned out to be such a fun gift! As one of my services, I’m now offering to make diaper cakes for your next baby shower. There are so many different types of diaper cakes. The one I created for this baby shower uses baby toys and care items on the tiers as decor. As you can see the one below uses simple ribbon and flowers as the decor.

No matter what theme, colors, or design you want to follow, I’ll create the perfect gift/centerpiece. Prices vary depending upon the size of the cake, the decor on the tiers, using items from the mom-to-be’s gift registry, etc.

If you’re interested in a diaper cake please send me a note by clicking the Ask Madindy tab at the top of the page. In the Subject line please indicate “Diaper Cake” and under Your Message please describe more about what you’d like to see included in your diaper cake, including when you’ll need to receive your diaper cake. I’ll reply with an estimated cost and some design ideas.