Friday, July 31, 2009

Putting it Out There.


This evening MOMENTA presented the 2009 Young Choreographer's Showcase. The compilation of 19 pieces highlights the choreography of students and teachers; lines are blurred and it becomes difficult to decipher adult choreography from pieces developed by children. Emma participated as a performer last year and this year Finn joined the cast. He pretty much stunned us with his confidence on stage and his technique is improving by leaps and bounds! Emma earned the opportunity to choreograph a piece with a friend. Emma's piece was inspired by a mask I wore here. They called their piece Unmasked and all mom bias aside it was an excellent offering...among the best of the evening. Haunting, mysterious and under three minutes the work left the audience wanting more. I am anxious to see it again tomorrow. Come out if you can! The show starts at 8:30pm at 605 Lake Street in Oak Park and costs $10. I promise it is worth the ticket price.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Strikers Year End

Tonight we headed out to celebrate the end of the U9 soccer season! It is often hard to see things come to an end and this soccer season is no exception. Things are not going to be the same next season. Change is not a bad thing, but it was nice to have an evening to close out the season and celebrate the success of the U9 boys! Thanks for a great year and being the families you are...it has been a pleasure!
So I brought my roasted garlic new potato salad and folks really seemed to like it.
Here is the recipe...
Ingredients:
1 1/2 pounds small new potatoes, quartered
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
8 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons parsley, minced
1 lemon, halved
Directions:

1. In a large gratin dish, toss the potatoes, olive oil, rosemary, two thirds of the garlic, and the salt and pepper until the garlic and oil are well distributed. Spread the potatoes in a single layer with the skin sides facing down. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place gratin dish in the oven and cook for about 45 minutes, or until potatoes begin to brown; shake pan after the first 20 minutes and again after 15 more minutes. Take potatoes out of from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes. Remove potatoes from the pan with a metal spatula to avoid breaking the potatoes and place them in a large bowl.
2. In a small bowl mix the mayonnaise with the remaining garlic and the parsley. Squeeze the juice of the lemon halves, making sure to remove seeds, into the mayonnaise. Stir until it is smooth.3. Combine mayonnaise with the potatoes and serve.

Curtain

This my favorite picture I ever took at the Joffrey Ballet.
Emma was performing as the Chinese Girl Doll and Finn was dragged down to the studios every week-end for three months. Finn has a special kind of magnetism and those little bun heads were drawn to him like moths to a flame.
We have come to call this picture "boy at the ballet."
Our family has many many wonderful Nutcracker memories (read about a few here, here, here, and here). We have enjoyed watching Emma transform from little doll, to Tree Angel, and finally Party Child. We were hugely proud that Finn had the courage to audition last year and earned his role role as a red headed Arabian Doll. Our friends and family have been unbelievably supportive of the kids during Nutcracker and we have been humbled by the number of people who came out to see a show!
Without going into too much detail, we have learned about some pretty big changes at the Joffrey and both Emma and Finn have decided they would rather not participate in the production this year.
They made the right decision for the right reasons and I am proud of them.
Our holidays will not be the the same without our Nutcracker Magic and I'm pretty sure we'll have to throw a big party to fill up all of our spare time! We'll keep you posted on a date.

Monday, July 27, 2009

My Favorite Vase

The only thing that can temporarily oust Thad's boat from the center of my dining room table is my favorite vase. My friend A of the Pfour gave it to me years ago. For the life of me I cannot remember the occasion, but I remember she commented that it was hard to shop for me because I like so many things. That may be true, but A picked the perfect gift!
Every time I have flowers in it my house feels a little more cozy. Yesterday I trimmed a branch from our Japanese Maple and plucked a couple of white hydrangea blossoms and arranged them in the vase...dreamy.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Inspired Re-Make

I was playing around on Facebook this afternoon and stumbled across The Cheese and Burger Society. On the heels of putting together a pretty outrageous burger for my dinner party last night I couldn't resist checking it out.
OMG.
Each and every burger is crazier than the next!
Number 26 is the most outlandish in my opinion...

Who in the name of all that is holy would put cheesecurds and bratwurst on a burger? Pure insanity! The site really well laid out and is pretty fun to look through...Check it out!
After pledging my support for the Cheese and Burger Society I decided the least I could do was
remake the burger from last night!
Although it is not a gluttonous ode to Wisconsin and it fits demurely in the palm of my hand my burger does not lack flavor. The secret is in the bun!

Amazing Burger Buns:
2 cups warm milk (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup warm water
1/4 cup white sugar
2 (.25 ounce) packages instant yeast
2 teaspoons salt

6 cups all-purpose flour, or as needed

Butter and Poppy Seeds

DIRECTIONS
In a large bowl of a stand mixer, stir together the milk, butter, warm water, sugar and yeast. Let stand for about 5 minutes.
Mix in the salt, and gradually mix in the flour until you have a soft dough. Divide into 15 pieces, and form into balls. Place on baking sheets so they are 2 to 3 inches apart. Cover and let rise for 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Brush the rolls with melted butter and sprinkle with Poppy Seeds. Bake the rolls for 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Cool slightly, then split them in half horizontally to fill with your favorite burgers.

Singing at Val's


This afternoon we headed over to Val's halla Records on Harrison Street to celebrate the shop's 37th anniversary. Part of the festivities included an acoustic performance by the lovely and talented daughter of some dear friends. We armed Finn with the camera. We thought he captured the spirit of the performance quite well...especially in the video...note the Dylan imagery that compliments the song the girls are singing! Genius I tell you, pure genius!




Finn told me he found it just amazing how many stickers Val had on her counter top!

Great job girls and happy anniversary Val!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Dinner for Matt

Wild Sockeye Salmon Puttenesca with Broccolini
&
Artichoke Fritter with Lemon Crema and Endive
This evening I put up a series of small plates for a friend and neighbor.
I was pleased with just about everything, but my favorite (and I didn't get a photo) was my almost micro burger. I made the butter roll from scratch and topped with a BBQ mopped grass fed beef burger stuffed with aged white cheddar cheese. To make it a little more insane I topped it with a maple rosemary bacon shingle. OMG.
Great company. Great evening.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

They can dance.


When I was a child the night The Sound of Music aired on TV was sacred. An evening of music, popcorn, and family....what could be better. We organized our entire day to make sure we were without distraction for those three precious hours. Of course this was before DVR, DVD, and even VHS...you had to watch it when it was on or you just missed it; out of luck until next year! I thought Emma and Finn were missing out on that special kind of anticipation until Season 5 of So You Think You Can Dance took over our Wednesday and Thursday evenings.
I have watched the show for all five seasons, but this is the first year our entire family hangs on every routine and clamors to reach for the phone to vote when it is over.
We have to watch it live or we can't vote! Styles range from classic ballroom to contemporary and from Broadway to Hip Hop. They put these dancers through serious tests of their ability and yes, they are truly talented each and every one.
Last night Meissa and Ade performed this stunning and courageous work about the fight against breast cancer. Tyce Diorio choreographed the piece and I am glad he did.

Needless to say, Melissa got my vote last night.


They are down to the final eight and tonight the show will celebrate its 100th episode.
We are all giddy with anticipation around here!
If you have never checked it out before do so tonight on FOX at 8pm.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Real Beauty

When I casually snap a picture of my daughter like the one above I always feel a little shocked. She was just sitting on a rock and I happened to have the camera.
Simple. Clean. Natural. Beautiful.
Studies show only 2% of women describe themselves as beautiful and 81% of American women believe the media sets an unattainable standard of beauty...natural pictures of Emma often make me think about this Dove video my brother asked me to share with Emma a couple of years ago.



She lives in a ballerina world and is coming to an age where her looks will start to matter more and more...it all just makes me a little nervous.

But then I take comfort in the fact that I educate Emma every day about real beauty and she has a gaggle of girl friends that are real beauties themselves.

Last night Emma and her friend CatK had a sleepover and the the theme of the evening was "curl our hair like
Shirley Temple."

That is beautiful if you ask me! Let's keep 'em in that 2%!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Saturday July 18th: Sigh

Our Door County week simply flew by and before we knew it we were packing up to head home.We always cherish our time in our little cottage...it is our time to reconnect and rejuvenate.We left with great memories and already anticipate our return next summer!

Dining Out

Door County isn't all Cherry Pie and Swedish Meatballs.
Leif and I were able to sneak away for a date at The Whistling Swan last Thursday.
The setting is simply lovely and maintains a vacation feel while flirting with a city vibe.
We started our meal with a soft shell crab dish featuring an assortment of ridiculously fresh greens and and a sea salt foam. I am not normally a foam fan, but in this case it worked.
My meal rounded out with a lovely duck and lentil dish with carrots.
It paired beautifully with my Angeline Pinot Noir.

It was a delightful dinner, filled with easy conversation...just the way I like it.
Our night out felt like a grown up romantic get-away from our family vacation!

Cherry Picking




Wednesday July 15th: Drive-In



The first movie I ever saw was Rocky and I watched it at the Skyway Drive-In from the back seat of my parents' car. It was 1976 and I was two years old. In my parents' defense I think they were hoping I would fall asleep during the movie...




...but while Apollo and Rocky were beating each other bloody I leaned forward and said,
"Isn't this the most beautiful movie you've ever seen?"

And now we take our kids to the drive-in to see beautiful movies!
What a memory to take in
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince at the Skyway...and on the night it came out no less!

Minter Trout


The Minter's went charter fishing one moring and came home with a gorgeous Chinook Salmon and a fine Rainbow Trout. Additionally, Miles caught a mighty fine Lake Trout.
We were lucky enough to recieve an invitation to the "Cedar Suite" for dinner!

Actually I was lucky enough to get to cook the fish.

It was a high pressure cooking experience to say the least! There was no room for error; this was their catch of a lifetime.
Keep it simple...lemon, tarragon, dill, and a knob of butter and onto the grill.
I think the fishermen were pleased and I count the Minter Trout among the best fish I have eaten in my life!

Tough Guy

We all enjoyed biking during our vacation,
but particular props go to young Finn.
He completed 10 hilly miles in 90 minutes on single speed bike with one stop.
Way to go!

The Summer Kitchen

Every year I have to eat at the Summer Kitchen in Sister Bay.
The restaurant is simply darling with an extensive garden
and patio covered with hoards of hanging plants and blooming vines.
There really isn't anything "Melissa" about the menu,
but everything is just too yummy for words.
The restaurant offers a variety of soups and since we had cooler than expected temperatures they tasted especially good.
My favorite Summer Kitchen fare, however, is this lovely cashew chicken salad.
When I eat it I know I am officially on vacation.
Food associations are funny.

A Towering Man.

Finn was still in diapers when we started taking our family vacations in Door County.
Leif and I had been together for nearly six years when we climbed the tower in Peninsula State Park for the first time. I grew up climbing the 75' wooden tower and never gave it a second thought. The tower is there and you climb it.
Period.
Leif, however, on that fateful first trip up the tower had several thoughts...
thoughts of the tower collapsing among others.
It was on top of that tower I learned my husband has a complete and total fear of free standing wooden structures. He feels every subtle movement, hears every creak, and cannot bear to witness children (especially his own) climb those dangerous stairs. Learning about Leif's unique fear was one of the strangest discoveries of my married life.
Not to mention, it was quite the ordeal getting him down the stairs after he had gone up.
Each year following Leif would wait at the bottom of the tower while the kids and I climbed up. We'd wave, Leif would avert his eyes, and we'd come down.
Not so this year folks.

Fresh off a manly bed repair, my Leifer climbed that tower.
Once he reached to top we asked, "Are you okay?"
Leif responded, "No. I mean yes. I gotta go."
And down he went.
After the kids and I made our way down we told Leif how proud we were of him and he responded..."secretly, I loved the rush."

Mr. Fix It and an adrenaline junkie...what could be next?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Monday July 13th: At the Theatre


On Monday we headed into Peninsula State Park to attend the American Folklore Theater's presentation of Cheeseheads the Musical. This "modern day diary tale with a lotto heart" was absolutely adorable! Who would have thought a musical set in Sheboygan would be a hit?

Finn was in the creative spirit after an evening at the theatre. If you could see it...you'd know the creation below is an "invisible bottle."

Manly.

Leif is not Mr. Fix It and I have written about my husband's short comings in the past.

This is my Leifer...fixing a bed...with an actual hammer and nails.
Get the guy out of a suit and you never know what could happen!
What a vacation hottie!

The Blues

My parents rented the cottage next door to us this year; it was such a delight having them with us for the week! I used to vacation in almost the exact same location with them when I was a girl and I think it was a lovely full circle family moment.

For one of our first outings we packed up a basket of goodies and headed to Egg Harbor to take in a little blues performed by Tab Benoita at the local amphitheater.

We were also lucky to have our longtime friends the Minter's with us for the week, as well.
The music was almost as lovely as the company!

Thorpe House Inn and Cottages

Needless to say we are were thrilled to arrive at our beloved Thorpe House Inn and Cottages.
We've been staying in the quaint Quail Cottage for nearly a decade.
In a way, going on vacation, feels a little like coming home!



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