Sunday, November 29, 2009

Tis the Season...


...to be jolly.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Leftover Day.

Late this afternoon the Pfour came over for our annual leftover day! They brought a lovely antipasto platter, a half of a delicious mushroom pie, some homemade gravy, and their slippers!
We made hot turkey sandwiches, watched the old version of Swiss Family Robinson (an emerging day after Thanksgiving tradition) and threw some cards.
What a cozy way to spend an evening.

Thanksgiving Images

I filled up Thad's boat with Leif's selection of flowers and we were ready for my favorite holiday to begin...

Bright and early I pulled "TT" out of the refrigerator and prepped him for his big moment. Finn named the turkey and "TT" is short for "Tough Turkey"...not because of the cooking method I assure you.
Each year my dad makes a silly and fun appetizer for the kids and ALL of the adults were fans his Asian inspired green beans with peanut sauce. We also enjoyed some lovely single malt scotch and my mom's stuffed dates.
We watched "The Packers of Green Bay" play for a very long time.


We checked on "TT" now and then and finally the big moment arrived!
My mother-in-law Nancy is a master gardener and an herbalist and consequently quite qualified to garnish a Turkey in her own unique manner!
Emma's amazing Root Beer Carrots...
...Roasted Red and Yellow Beets with French Goat Cheese, Arugula, Pine nuts and a Lemon-Tarragon Vinaigrette...
...Mashed Potatoes with Buttermilk Herb Dressing...
...pan seared Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Cider Vinegar


We all took a turn announcing what we are thankful for and my personal favorite came from Finn's Scottish soccer coach..."I am thankful we kicked the pilgrims out of my country so that I can enjoy this fine meal with you today."


Ed loving our girl Java.
Finn schooling Coach in Fifa!
Just enough room for dessert!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Giving Thanks...

...for a bountiful harvest and many full plates at our family table.
Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Ode to the Supporting Cast

Before I unveil the big holiday star tomorrow I felt it was necessary to acknowledge the hardworking supporting cast of my Thanksgiving menu...





Little darlings, you are likely to be over shadowed tomorrow, but you are no less valuable to our meal than that big old bird. Thanks for offering up your chorus of beautiful flavors and textures for our holiday table!
It's showtime!

Kids Giving Thanks.

In Emma's Words...

I am thankful for SO many wonderful things in the world. Most of all I am thankful for my family, who provide the rest of the things I am thankful for in life. Without them I wouldn't have dance, or I wouldn't have a descent home. Most of all I wouldn't even be here. Mom has provided some pretty GREAT experiences for me that I'll never forget. Dad, has helped me so much with math and has helped me make my lunch for the past 8 or 9 years. Finn, you've brought so much energy to me and you always forgive me when I am upset. But the thing I get from all of you, and the the thing I am most grateful for, is love.

In Finn's Words...

What I am thankful for. I am thankful for a lot of things like my family. I am also thankful for my pets and all my relatives even if I don't know them. I'm thankful for my abilities in soccer and other activities. I'm thankful for my teachers such as Ms. Gullo my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Baker my first grade teacher, Mrs. Klette my second grade and favorite teacher, my third grade teacher Ms. Tresselt (she is a fifth grade teacher now), and my present teacher Ms. Payton who is normally sitting right behind me.

The John


We took on a fairly massive home improvement project in these sacred hours leading up to Thanksgiving...and we are thrilled with the results! We just need to hang a few towels and slap up a few pictures and we'll be all set.
We are totally thankful we finished in time for the holiday!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Jack of all trades

One evening, many years ago, while Leif and I were cleaning up the dinner dishes Emma was puttering around her room and Finn was doing exactly what you'd expect of a 2 year old boy...accidentally locking himself in the bathroom. By this point Leif and I were seasoned parents and we did not over react...we had baby proofed the bathroom very well (except for the damn locks) so we decided continuing our clean up and occasionally suggesting Finn turn the lock again and let himself out was the best course of action. After all we didn't want the little guy to panic.
A while later we were tucking Emma into bed and pretty much insisting Finn turn the lock and open the door, but still nothing. We had inspected the door and knew if Finn didn't undo his little mistake we would have a fairly large problem on our hands. You see, there was not a lock on the outside of the door, the hinges were on the inside of the door and the only window to the bathroom was glass block. He was trapped.
By the time Emma was sleeping Finn was crying and curling his fingers under the crack at the bottom of the door to hold my hand.
Clearly he was not going to turn the lock again and we needed to get some help. We narrowed down our assistance choices to the fire department or Jack.

We chose Jack.
Our neighbor Jack's favorite food was tuna noodle casserole unless you put mushrooms in it (I learned that the hard way). Jack could not eat corn or apples. If the subject of RV's came up when Jack was around it was probably best if you prepared to devote at least 90 minutes to the conversation. Jack replaced the thermal couple on our furnace on Thanksgiving one year and I taught him how to remove a broken light bulb from a socket using a potato. He taught me how to wash the windows in my house with Windex and newspaper and he was missing a couple fingers. He always wore a hat.And on the night we called Jack instead of the fire department he showed up with an array of crowbars and a plan.

I objected at the thought of popping the lock and the surrounding woodwork, but Jack looked at me and said matter of factly, "You want the boy out of the bathroom don't you?" We certainly did and we trusted Jack. I implored Finn to get into the bathtub so he would be away from the door when Jack attacked it. It took Finn a very long time to get into the tub. He was sniffling and crying and telling us to "wait just a minute" and finally told us he was in the bathtub. Knowing Finn was secure, Jack picked his weapon and popped the woodwork, split the door, and demolished the lock in a movement so aggressive that he sent himself flying across the room. Leif caught Jack and the door swung open to reveal a stark naked Finn sitting in an empty bathtub singing a very nervous and teary version of "Woody's Round Up." Apparently he thought he was going to take a bath and had taken off his clothes when we told him to get into the tub.
Our neighbor Jack was our hero that night and after we had a good laugh he packed up his crow bars and humbly headed home.
Jack passed away while we were eating a pot roast dinner several years later, but not before he helped us out countless times more.
Today Jack's daughter came over to help me paint the bathroom Finn locked himself in all those years ago. Together we patched up the last remaining damage from old Jack's crowbars and reminisced about a great neighbor and father. It is very clear to me that Jack's salt of the earth kindness has been passed along to his daughter and my life has been forever improved as a result.
If only by proxy, it seemed fitting Jack should have a hand in sprucing up our bathroom; he left a legacy behind in that room. More importantly, however, Jack's legacy is alive and well in his daughter and I know he would be very proud of the woman she continues to be. Thank you Patty, for picking up a paintbrush today and sharing your memories with me...you are truly a Jack of all trades.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Horsing Around

Our friend Jamie treated Emma to a trip to horse country today! Our lucky girl made her way to Kankakee this morning to visit with some gentle giants and take a ride. She came home thrilled with her entire experience and hoping to go back again to ride some more. She had a waiver in hand so we're pretty sure she'll be welcomed back!
Thanks for taking her Jamie!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Give and Take

Well nothing is nicer than having a daughter who can give her babysitting services for an evening so I can take advantage of a girls night out! Emma settled in nicely with the Pfour boys and A and I were able to head into the city with a bunch of fellow moms for tapas and sangria at Cafe Iberico!

We rolled into Chi-Town minivan style and yes, I kicked the baby wipes out of the car in front of the restaurant, but I have to say we are still one hot group of ladies!
Thanks for a much needed night out and I hope we can do it again sooner rather than later!

Hole in the wall...

Curious?
We'll keep you posted.

Soups On.


Last night we hosted a small gathering of friends. I put together a quartet of soups and breads and a sincerely cozy feeling took over our house.
The Menu
Winter Minestrone
Garlic Bread
Pennsylvania Dutch Chicken Soup
Fresh Corn, Andouille, and Langoustine Chowder
Clover Leaf Butter Rolls
Pureed Black Bean Soup with Feta, Jalapeno, Lime and Scallions.
Bacon, Cheddar, Chive and Smoked Paprika Corn Muffins.

It was a joy to see our house brimming with our friends!
I think may need to become an annual tradition...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Big Apple.

Most folks know I love the odd little trinkets around my house because they reflect my family history. This Hull Pottery Big Apple Cookie Jar is no exception. I can't look at it without picturing my Grandma's kitchen. Even though her counter tops were littered with antique potato mashers, wrought iron trivets, and speckled crockery bowls, this cookie jar is the one item I associated with her kitchen. Just looking at it I can remember rolling out my first pie crust, hiding dirty breakfast dishes under the sink so we could get out the door faster, and the view of her garden from kitchen window.
These cookie jars were first made in the late 1940's and according to the tape my grandma placed on the bottom of the jar it first belonged to my great grandparents. They purchased it for about $3 on Dousman St. After spending many years in my grandma's kitchen, today the Big Apple rests on my counter, not because I think it is the prettiest thing I've ever seen, but because of this picture...

...that is my mom making a sandwich in my grandma's kitchen. See the apple peeking around that humongous jar of mayonnaise? I've had this picture of my mom in my kitchen much longer than I have had the cookie jar. I think the actual piece found it's way to me because I love the idea that a cookie jar can transition through generations. Emma learned to bake her first batch of cookies with it sitting on the counter next to her and she makes her lunches in front of it every day.
Maybe someday her children will do the same.

*UPDATE and CORRECTION*
Here is just one more reason I love my treasures...I have been thinking about this cookie jar for several hours now and something about the time line didn't work for me. I couldn't figure out how it could be possible for my great grandparents to buy their first cookie jar in the late 1940's and have it end up in my grandma's house by 1958 as the picture of my mom indicates.
I checked in with my mom and the Big Apple was in fact my grandparents first cookie jar and the note my grandma put on the bottom of the jar was written with the intention my mom would be the reader.
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