Saturday, February 28, 2009

At the Ballet

Hand of Fate pas de deux (from Cotillon)
Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring)
Tonight Emma and I headed out with friends to enjoy the Joffrey Ballet's Winter Program.
While I did not feel this was the Joffrey's strongest offering under thoughtful guidance of Artistic Director Ashley Wheater, there were two standouts among the repertoire.
Mobile, inspired by Calder mobiles, featured a trio of dancers demonstrating a captivating balance of strength and fluidity. The five minute piece left the viewer begging for more.
The highlight of the evening was Le Sacre du Printemps (TheRite of Spring). Famed dancer Vaslav Nijinsky choreographed the ballet for it's premier in France in 1913. The radical departure from traditional ballet, Le Sacre, offered was met with a negative response and led to a legendary outbreak of violence in the theater and in the streets.
Tonight, Joanna Wozinak, portrayed The Chosen One. Her primal, forceful, and exhausting sacrifice was a privilege to witness. I feel honored Emma and I will carry this piece of dance history with us for years to come...

The final coat

Today a different set of board members rotated in on our painting project and brought it to completion. To be honest it was more work than any of us were expecting, but the result right down to the radiators, is so splendid that we know it was time well spent!

Fun Fair!

Early this morning, before heading over to the Day Nursery to finish painting, Finn and I dropped off our contributions to the Irving Fun Fair silent auction.
In addition to my usual cooking class offering I was also responsible for putting together the Asian themed class basket for Finn's class. Leif took Emma and Finn over to the funfair in the late morning and both kids had a great time.
Leif came home with the best possible prize...the ever popular Bru bru basket. This year the delicious home brews made by one Irving family have a political theme. We are sure to enjoy some ice cold Stimulus Stout, First Lady Michelle Malt, and Ale to the Chief at a dinner we have scheduled on Sunday!
Nice bidding Leifer!

Friday, February 27, 2009


After the successful completion of the Day Nursery kitchen our board organized a dining room painting party.
Tonight Finn and Leif helped several board members as we taped, edged, and sanded the walls. Tomorrow morning we will head back to finish up the project!

Thursday, February 26, 2009


There is nothing like a karma smack for a young dancer and Emma certainly has had one.
On Valentine's Day Emma brought home her very first pair of pointe shoes. Collecting that first pair of soft satin slippers is a major rite of passage and waiting two weeks before taking a class in them requires major patience. On Sunday February 15th Emma accidentally kicked a door while flitting about. We didn't think much of it right away and then in the following days Emma's foot started turning black and blue and swelled to the point she couldn't even try on her new shoes. We had her foot X-rayed and learned she had what looked like a severe contusion (or "compulsion" as Emma called it). We were told things should improve within a week and if they didn't we should follow up with Emma's pediatrician. Well two weeks after kicking the door Emma's foot was less bruised, but no less painful. Today Emma met with the podiatrist and learned she has damaged the ligaments in her big toe.
Recovery time 10-12 weeks.
She would have been a little better off it had been broken.
There is hope that with her combined strength and youth recovery time will be shorter. dance and no gym for at least two more weeks until we go back to have her evaluated by the podiatrist.
We couldn't tell if she was more upset about temporarily hanging up her never worn pointe shoes or having to wear a dreaded walking boot.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Tonight took me to a fundraiser for the Harrison Street Business Association. Harrison Street is filled with vibrant restaurants, hip coffee shops, art galleries, and holistic medicine clinics. Restaurants served up wood fired pizzas, Hurricanes (good ones), crab cakes and gumbo to celebrate Mardi Gras and our lively community. Belly Dancers took the stage and I was able to connect with several local artists and even made plans with Lynn from Art Gecko to work on a custom art piece I am very excited about!While I roamed the room my connection to this amazing south Oak Park Community was apparent. I don't often consider my support of Harrison Street businesses, but tonight as I bumped into Karen from The Careful Peach, I did. Karen lent me my jewelry for the Inauguration and I purchased one bracelet from her as a memento of our trip. As I turned around I saw Auntie G, my pet sitter, working the silent auction table. In the next instant I was deep in conversation with Chelsey, my hairstylist, from Sandra Ross Salon. My acupuncturist, Julia, was confidently working her popular table.
What it boils down to is this....without Harrison pets would pee in the house, my hair would be lackluster, I wouldn't be able to turn my head, and I wouldn't have a little unexpected sparkle!
Every cent they earned tonight was more than deserved!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Fashion Commentary

I pulled this photo of Miley Cyrus of the Yahoo fashion report card (photo by Kevork Djansezian/getty images) in the dress she wore to the Oscars last night.
The report card gave poor Miley an "F" and I have to say I agree with the grade, but something seemed really familiar about that dress....Does this seem odd to you?
This is young Emma (photographed by Mb) as a Snow Tree Angel in the Nutcracker!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sunday Dinner

Leif was hungry for Chili and Emma loves anything in a bread bowl.
Tonight I made these bread bowls from scratch and served up a yummy mild chili to my happy family!

Wind blown

Lucy has a habit of sitting in front of the vents while the heat is running. This practice has been cracking us up all winter long. I swear she wants to have her own her own photo shoot! We all think the wind blown look suits her.


Boys making breakfast

Saturday, February 21, 2009

19th Century

It is not a week (lately) unless we have a fundraiser to attend!
Tonight Leif and I, along with my fellow Day Nursery board member ML, went to the 19th Century Club for a Mardi Gras Fundraiser to benefit the Benevolence Fund. The Day Nursery was an honored winner of a portion of their 2008 distribution of funds.

We purchased our raffle tickets and perused the silent auction while drinking a Hurricane with a flavor disturbingly reminiscent to Luden's cherry cough drops....after three sips we had to cash in our drink tickets for a bottle of wine!

Our table was filled with merry folks and fine conversation. While we dined on our meal of Jambalaya, red beans and rice, crab cakes, and collard greens we had the chance to learn about a local non-profit rehab facility called The Way Back Inn. This is an organization that is doing some pretty amazing work and the ED and clinical director are clearly passionate about their mission. The others at our table were in attendance due to an Obama connection and shared their recipe for a "better than sex" cake.

We headed out before the parade and made our way to Trattoria 225 for a glass of wine and talk about Heath care in our country.

Just another Saturday night!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Bodhi Reprise

I ate at Bodhi yesterday and I ate there again tonight. Yesterday I dined in a party of two and tonight brought a party of seven. When I want a place to succeed I will do everything I can to support it! Our meal tonight with the Kralj's was divine. My Pad Se Eiw with beef was simply delicious and our appetizers (especially the corn and sweet potato fritters) we are first rate. Not a bad outing for a Thursday night!

Finn's Viewpoint

Helping the Environment
By Finnr Elsmo
age 8

Everybody needs to take better care of the earth because of some problems. The world needs more care for the environment. My three reasons are recycle stop cutting down trees and stop littering. Those are my three reasons. That’s how you make the world better.

Stop cutting down trees and plant new ones. I think people should stop cutting down trees. And start planting new ones. Because it’s good for the environment. And it helps people breath and stop polluting.

You need to start recycling. It helps save the environment and it reuses witch is good for the environment witch rocks. And its one step closer to a better world. People might trip and animals might die. That’s why you should recycle.

You need to stop littering because it pollutes the earth. Its one step closer to a good environment. Animals might eat the garbage and suffocate.

You need to stop littering. You need to start recycling. Stop cutting down trees.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


It is always an exciting day when a new restaurant opens in the area and it is an amazing day when the new restaurant reveals itself to be fantastic! My friend LB and I headed over to the new bistro for lunch today. I forgot my camera, but managed to take these photos of my leftovers!
Bodhi Thai Bistro offers very fresh and super flavorful dishes at more than reasonable prices. The atmosphere and service are first rate and the menu is thoughtful. We started with the summer rolls and intriguing scallion dumplings (pictured above). The summer roll was clean tasting and beautifully presented and the soft textured dumplings (my favorite) featured a spicy soy based sauce. For our entrees LB tried the basil noodles with tofu and I selected the Panang curry with shrimp. LB liked her dish, but felt it needed more veggies and basil. My curry was highlighted by perfectly cooked shrimp, and assortment of interesting vegetables, and a perfectly noticeable spiciness.

Please head to Bodhi as soon as you can! You will not be sorry and we need to make sure this great place stays in the area for a good long time!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Pancake cure

After a fun-filled Michigan week-end our little guy was a little under the weather today. He had a fever and suffered from general exhaustion, but thankfully Finn wasn't so ill that he couldn't enjoy a stack of chocolate chip pancakes!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Winter Moments

On Election Day in November we were here...

On Valentine's Day in February we were here....

Same location; different season.
Many thanks to some terrific friends for inviting the Elsmo Four to Michigan for some late winter merriment. The kids and grown-ups played capture the flag in the woods, enjoyed chilly weather bon-fires, and many fine meals! A dear old friend revealed herself as a tremendous and giving mother and in the next instant a Vanilla Ice karaoke genius! We dined on Valentine's day fondue, played an intense game of Diplomacy, and chatted into the wee hours.

Cheers to the falling snow and warm fire... honest and open friends and the joy a family brings...

...cheers to a quiet winter moments in the woods.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Grishko Girl

In a manner in keeping with the Harry Potter wizarding world wand selection process Emma headed to Motion Unlimited today to sift through the myriad of pointe shoe brands and styles until she found her perfect fit. In the end she ended up with a gorgeous pair of Grishko 2007 pointe shoes.
For a young dancer nothing can compare to the day you take your first pair of point shoes home!


Remember these days?
Middle school brings those exciting student council sponsored Valentine carnation deliveries from friends! Emma was ticked by the all love her friends showed her.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Foodie Tip: If you can't beat 'em, join 'em

Most everyone in my circle knows I am foodie who fancies the gourmet. I don't deny that fact, but will say the balance seeking Libra in me will flirt with the dark side of food on occasion. How can a person really appreciate Proscuitto di Parma if they have never tasted Spam? For instance I find great satisfaction in a ball park hot dog, loved a New Year's appetizer made with green olives from a jar, and yes, I was the one who brought the Bugle snack to our Superbowl party. Once, in a pinch, I even finished a broccoli soup with (shhh) Velveeta. Of course, the person I served it to immediately looked at me with an expression of horror and said, "did you make this with processed cheese?" At that moment I realized I had refined the palates in my life to the point I couldn't even take a kitchen shortcut.

I always get caught.This morning I received the following email:

To: Melissa Elsmo
Sent: Friday, February 13, 2009 7:26:39 AM
Subject: Pizza
Ok, H said you make the best pizza in the world and said I should get your crust recipe. Can you share? Thanks again for having him over. He had a great day, and I knew he would which made it easier for me. Your blog post was adorable. They are so, so cute. A

Is this some kind of joke? I knew those kids liked that pizza too much for me to get away with my kitchen shortcut; it was just a frozen Home Run Inn cheese pizza. As visions of condensed cream of mushroom soup started swirling in my head I comforted myself in the simple fact the pizza was, at least, all-natural.

I am left feeling defeated and I am sure H's mom is, too. I started making my own Friday night pizza after being inspired by my friend A and now all our crust making efforts have been thwarted by one slip in the frozen food aisle. I am ashamed to admit our children rated our cooking below a high quality frozen brick of flour and cheese that cooks up in less than 20 minutes. I am having flashbacks to the dinner I made for Leif years ago...I slaved all day in the kitchen only to have him comment that it, "wasn't his favorite Hamburger Helper." Devastating.

In an effort to redeem myself, and afford A the opportunity to take her pizza power back, I have researched Home Run Inn Pizza Crust. Hopefully the following recipe will be close enough to quiet the frozen food loving beasts!

Home Run Inn Pizza Crust for a 16 Inch Pizza

Flour 3 cups unbleached flour

1C Water heated to 110-115 degrees

2/3 C Corn Oil

2 1/4 t active dry yeast

1 t Salt

Begin by dissolving yeast in 110-115 water and let bloom for five minutes. Add half of the flour and salt and begin to mix using the dough hook on stand mixer. Once it comes together add the oil and half of the remaining flour (3/4 of all flour is now in the mixer). Once that comes together, knead on high speed for 5 minutes. Add remaining flour and mix until combined then knead for 3 additional minutes on low speed. If it seems a little to dry, add water one teaspoon at a time until it comes together. Place in bowl and cover with a warm wet cloth then let the dough rise in a warm oven for two hours with a pan of hot water on the rack below to provide some humidity so dough doesn't get a crust. Punch the dough down and let it rise again for another two hours. Shape the dough into a 16" round taking care to make a 1/2" high and 1/2" wide rim on the crust. Top as desired and bake at 475 degrees for about 12 minutes.

*This recipe (found through Chowhound) does follow the Home Run ingredient list quite closely. I guess the corn oil is the secret...I didn't even know you could buy corn oil anymore!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Full Circle

Playdates are a common thing in our house and today Finn had his friend H of the Pfour over for pizza, Wii, and Bugles with cheese and sunflower seeds. It was just your average fun afternoon, but after I snapped this picture of the comfy duo the real magnitude of this relationship struck me.
Leif has known B forever; the two met in Racine, WI while they were in preschool and they have been best friends ever since. B was the best man in our wedding and Leif was the best man in his, they found their fair share of trouble together during their youth, and even managed to fall prey to Limoncello as recently as last week! I know Leif treasures his relationship with B and has cherished evolving from boys to men to fathers together.
H is B's son and they live around the corner.
How about that for the full circle friendship!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Dining with the Chef

Last night the Day Nursery hosted its annual Dining with the Chef fundraiser at Trattoria 225
The evening is always festive and fun-filled. Last night the Day Nursery and about 120 supporters dined on assorted wood fired pizza, beet salad, mushroom gnocchi, and a maple glazed pork tenderloin. We also enjoyed several wine and beer pairings with our meal.
Leif hit the jack pot when he sat at this table full of pretty ladies to say the least...though there were many OTHER tables of beautiful ladies he could have picked from!Special thanks to A&P for coming out to support the DN! It means so much to me that you support causes I believe in. You are the best!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Getting to the pointe

Today was that day of days for our young dancer!
Emma burst through the front door this evening carrying her precious pointe shoe packet containing the instructions for purchasing and fitting her first pair!She was beside herself with excitement and really can't wait for this next big adventure in dance to begin....

...and doesn't it look like it's going to be fun?
Apparently Emma has a great deal of joy and pain to look forward to!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Happy New Year!

Last night we headed over to our neighbors to ring in the Chinese New Year and celebrate the year of the Ox. The house was festive, the takeout food was divine, and our army costumed neighbors were an absolute delight! It was yet another fantastic evening on our street that served to remind us of the amazing collection of people in our community!
All that and a spring roll, too? What could be better!
Thanks for a great night neighbors!

Master Class

Emma is planning to attend Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp for ten days this summer in Michigan with several friends from the Academy. It will be her first sleep away camp experience and she couldn't be more excited at the prospect of combining a peaceful outdoor setting and bunk beds in rustic one room cabins with five intensive hours of ballet per day!
Yesterday I drove Emma downtown to Ballet Chicago for a Blue Lake master class. Children attending the class have opportunity to earn scholarships to off set the costs of the session fee. Emma, wearing the distinctive number 199, enjoyed her class. She and her two friends were the youngest in the room and struggled at times in the center, but gave it their best effort. She will wait a couple of weeks before she finds out if she receives any scholarship money, but in the meantime we will sign her up for camp! No matter what happens I was very proud Emma entered this challenging class with a great attitude and enthusiasm for dance!
Update: Emma is happy to report she received a scholarship covering 50% of her camp tuition! Her parents are happy to report it is cheaper to send her than to keep her.
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