Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Rock Ritual

About once a week I find Leif and Emma snuggled up on the couch, computer on their laps, headphones in their ears, and Spin magazine open for reference. They pour over the issue, listen to and download songs through eMusic and iTunes, and ultimately burn a CD to share.
I absolutely love their ritual.
They don't always agree and their playful disagreements are easy on the ears, but sometime they both like something!
Who got two thumbs up tonight?
The Drums and The Freelance Whales
Rock On!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Dancing on the Deck

Rehersals for the Backyard Ballet have officially begun!
Save the Date: June 17th, 2010.

Happiness is...

...having a stunning block of Himalayan Pink Salt in my kitchen!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Ailey

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Uptown
2009
Choreography by Matthew Rushing

Dancing Spirit
2009
Choreography by Ronald K. Brown

Revelations
1960
Choreography by Alvin Ailey
In a rather spur of the moment move Emma and I bought two tickets to see the AAADT perform today. I was eager to see Revelations since the piece has ended every Ailey production since it's premier in 1960. It did not disappoint, but the highlight for both Emma and me was the riveting Dancing Spirit. I have never seen such grounded choreography that celebrated the individuality of the dancers while maintaining an undeniable connectivity between them. What a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Happy Birthday Zane

This morning we headed into the city to celebrate our friend Zane's fifth birthday.
We all had a great time...
especially Emma and Miss M...
Finn and the rock wall...
Me and ARose...
and Leif and the boys...
Happy birthday Z!
Thanks for including us in your celebration!

Fish on Friday



Last night we went out for a Friday Fish Fry with our neighbors and friends at Irish Times Pub and Restaurant. All I can say is, delicious! The place was crazy busy and the servers seemed totally over worked, but the cod was perfectly fried and the slaw was divine. Our biggest worry was weather or not you can "malt and tartar" at the same time! I think a nice pint of Smithwicks Irish Ale rounded out the meal nicely.
Thanks for organizing us Matt!
Let's do it again when it isn't Lent!!
The Irish Times
8869 Burlington Avenue
Irish Times, IL 60513
(708) 485-8787

Friday, March 26, 2010

Dinner Avec Asim

Last night I crashed a work function.
Leif and his staff were saying a casual good-bye to a co-worker heading to Washington to take a prestigious position at the Cooperation for National Service.
I went, in part, because the send-off celebration was at Avec.
I mean, give me chorizo-stuffed Medjool dates with smoked bacon and piquillo pepper-tomato sauce and wood-fired flatbread with speck, morbier, pears and arugula on a Thursday night and I am happy girl! As much as I love Paul Kahn and his cuisine, I crashed this little party because I adore Asim and will sincerely miss his frequent trips to visit us at home. Leif's relationship with this great man evolved over a decade and morphed beautifully into a sincere, honest, and loyal friendship and I am proud to say Asim has become my dear friend, too. We've enjoyed middle of the night egg sandwiches and more than one Thanksgiving turkey together. Without exception, I count Asim among my favorite people to feed. We've played hours of Wii, shared more than a couple glasses of wine, and consumed all kinds of memorable meals in our dining room over the years, but most importantly he has become a fixture in our family and a role model for Emma and Finn.
Cheers to the comfort of memories, Asim, and the joy and excitement your bright future holds.
Don't be a stranger though..my kitchen is always open.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Treasured.

Yesterday (in an act of time-crunch desperation) I cooked dinner in the crock pot. The resulting meal was pretty much fantastic and I couldn't have been more shocked! I have always had a love hate relationship with the old slow cooker and this tattered cookbook is a prefect reason why...

Published in 1975, Rival Crock Pot Cooking was the very first cookbook I ever used on a regular basis. I didn't use it because of any insane passion for crock pot cookery, but out of sheer financial desperation. I was teaching ballroom dance at the time and only made $150 per week. I had my own apartment and could barely afford my rent. Turning on the gas was not an option for me; if I had used the stove even once I wouldn't have been able to pay the bill because I didn't have any expendable income. Electric was included in my rent and I decided to get by cooking all my meals with a toaster, microwave and crock pot.
And then I met Leif.

I wooed him with stringy lemon chicken from my slow cooker and other trusted Rival recipes. If you look closely you can even see the address to Leif's apartment scratched on the cover of the book. I came across the book while I was cleaning out my cookbook cabinet and I realized just how special it was.
The desperation of those times seems so lovely to me now...adulthood and love were new and alive in my life in a new and exciting way. I could never have imagined how entangled my life would become with the boy who lived at 2518 N Farwell and how much cooking a crock pot dinner for him and our two children sixteen years later would mean to me. I have a treasure of a book and a treasure of a life.

By the way, I highly recommend you bust out your crock pot and make this:

French Vietnamese Bahn Mi Sandwiches with Mung Bean, Carrot, Cucumber, Cilantro, and jalapeno aioli.

For the Pork:

4# pork stew meat or boneless pork shoulder cut into 2" cubes
2T Peanut oil
3/4 C Fish Sauce
1 bunch cilantro
Zest of 2 Lemons
1/2 C packed brown sugar
3" piece ginger peeled and sliced
6 garlic cloves
1 jalapeno with seeds, halved

Heat the oil in a large skillet and brown the pork in batches until well browned on all sides. Remove the meat from the pan and place in the slow cooker. Deglaze the pan with the fish sauce, scrape up the browned bits and transfer to the slow cooker with the meat.

Meanwhile puree the cilantro, lemon zest, sugar, ginger, garlic, and chile in a food processor until it becomes a paste. Add the mixture to the pork. Combine well, cover and cook on low setting for 6 hours.

For the Mayo:
3/4 C Mayo
3 garlic
1 jalapeno seeded and chopped

Combine all ingredients in the food processor and pulse until smooth. I didn't wipe it out after processing the paste for the pork...I think it added some great flavor.

For the sandwich:
2 French Baguettes
Olive Oil
1 cut garlic clove
1 Cucumber, cut into match sticks
1 large carrot cut into match sticks
Mung bean sprouts
Daikon Radish cut into matchsticks (optional)
Cilantro
Scallions (optional)

Cut each baguette on the bias into 4 equal sections and cut nearly in half leaving a hinge. Drizzle with olive oil and grill or toast until golden. Rub the toasted bread with the cut garlic. Top with 1/2 C pork, desired veggies, and some jalapeno mayo.
Makes 8 Sandwiches

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Look from Lu

Sometimes when she looks at me it melts my heart.
I think she appreciates her life more than any animal I have ever known.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Muscle Memory

Okay, I'll cut to the chase.
I signed up for Roller Derby class.
(pause)
Some friends asked me to join and before I thought too much I said yes...
an
in writing,
signed on the dotted line,
charged the Visa
YES.
I am not sure what came over me but, I watched Whip It one time and suddenly adopting the lifestyle seemed like the next logical step...a natural progression of sorts.
Because, well, you know, Ellen Page and Drew Barrymore are practically my doppelgangers save for the fact I misplaced my Hello Kitty roller skates about twenty years ago and have a pretty serious aversion to both falling and fishnet stockings.
These are not insurmountable obstacles; they are just little pebbles on the roller derby track of life. Besides, I already decided to be really smart about this whole endeavor.
I decided to get back on roller skates BEFORE the class starts so I won't look stupid in public.

Today my friend Lynn and I went the Coachlite Skate Center in Roselle (the #1 place to roller skate in the Midwest, of course) to take a few trips in a circle to help my muscle memory kick in. I expected to be a little rusty after 20 years sans skates, but I was anxious to give it a try.
Once a roller skater always a roller skater.(Image via skateluv)

I tied the neon orange laces in my rented black speed skates and nervously prepared to hit the rink. I stood up and everything seemed fine. Lynn and I made our way to the edge of the rink and she took off among the happy gliding children and creepy muscle shirt wearing men. Lynn is a graceful lady on skates and pretty much the only person I'd want with me on an adventure of this sort. She glanced back at me and suggested I stick close to the wall...you know with the tots in training skates...and I did.
It came time to turn left and suddenly I went down...hard. Okay my muscles forgot how to turn, but I thought I can work through this. Undeterred, I got up and kept going until moments later a kid fell down in front of me and I realized my muscles didn't have a freaking clue how to stop or steer. Down I went again, but harder this time and on top of a kid. Oddly enough the young lad apologized to me for the collision and I confidently let him skate off thinking it was all his fault. I fell again moments later.
I rapidly became aware all of my muscles had roller skating amnesia and I was a 3/4 lap away from the nearest exit. After three more falls, my muscles were in a full on dementia style panic, but I unattractively powered on and finally made it to the exit. At that point the rink reversed the traffic for a song and I bowed out. I can't even change the wattage in my light bulbs or turn off my living room ceiling fan without feeling physically ill and I knew the reversal of a counter clockwise roller rink traffic pattern in my fragile state would just about kill me. Hell, I know my limitations. Lynn came to visit me and suggested I practice on the carpet for a while. I think she was beginning to know my limitations, too.

Even though I still couldn't turn, stop or steer, I can happily report skating on carpet is a skill I pretty much have in my wheel house. Witnessing my carpet skating prowess, Lynn suggested I enter the rink, skate straight and exit on the same side. Then I could skate on the carpet and do it again. She is a good skater and an even better friend. I re-entered the rink and I skated straight. I actually avoided a small child and did not fall. I felt a hint of a breeze and slightly in control. It was glorious. I was doing this. I exited the rink, spun a little on the carpet and even stopped.
I was victorious!
Until...
(image via freaking news)
...out of no where I started flailing about and crumpled violently into a pile near the coat racks.
An Indian gentleman jumped over me and graciously offered to help me up.
"No thanks, I've got it," I replied.
I pulled myself up and just as quickly as I righted myself my legs went out from under me splits style and I grabbed his wife; a lovely woman wearing roller skates and a sari. There I was, blue eyes to bindi, willing my thighs to bring my wheel clad feet together. Alas, I failed and down we went.
Before I knew it I was sitting on a bench laughing so hard tears were pouring down my face. I was doing all of this to AVOID public humiliation? I fell countless times, landed on kid and even took out an Indian lady in a sari. Seriously, the only way this outing could have been worse is if I had ended up in the hospital.
I was awful and I loved every minute of it!

I guess I can only get better from this point and isn't that really what trying something new should be all about? I hate exposing weakness and today I learned just how stupid that is. Shouldn't everyone have a moment where their courage kicks in?
The beauty of life resides in moments of vulnerability.
So I suck at skating.
I am easy points for any jammer.
FOR NOW.
Oh yeah, I will learn how to skate again and laugh my ass off until I do!

CDM

Leif and I love to support local artists!
I recently purchased this photograph entitled Cora's Tree and I find it simply breathtaking.
The artist is Emma's favorite modern dance instructor, Cora D Mitchell.
She took the photo on the chilly Chicago lakefront in 2008 and I am happy to report I was her very first sale! I predict it will be the first of many for this talented woman!
Look for her on Facebook!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

What is this?

Sarcasm.
(in the form of snow)Yep...that is the spot the girls were basking in the sun!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Going Green...

Irish eyes are smiling.
Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

HSF!

I love that Happy Spring Feeling!

Rusalka

For the past eleven years the PTO has brought The Opera for the Young to Irving School.
This year Finn had a speaking student role in "Rusalka, A Mermaid's Tale."
I was able to stop by this afternoon and see the performance. Finn was very confident and it was quite clear all of the students enjoyed the show!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

In the studio

Emma has been serving as a demonstrator in a ballet class for five year old children all year.
I adore seeing Emma embrace her role as a mentor and model for younger girls, but it feels like yesterday she was a pot bellied tutu clad twinkle toes like the little girls in her class.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Little Guest

Cinderella closed yesterday, but not before this rosy cheeked little lady checked out the show!
Thanks for coming M...Emma was thrilled to see you!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Off with their heads?


This evening Finn celebrated his birthday with six of his pals!
They ate pizza at the house before seeing Alice in Wonderland at the Lake.
The boys all loved the movie! The boys ate cake and had a birthday candle race before playing football in the dark.
Soccer mates, Cam and T, spent the night to round out Finn's special night!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The results are in...

...and they are just a little different than Emma expected.
After auditioning for a merit scholarship to Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp a couple of weeks ago, Emma received a letter in the mail this week indicating she had been invited to join the Blue Lake Ballet Ensemble. The camp only accepts 35 dancers into the ensemble program and dancers stay for four weeks. Dancers receive five hours of daily instruction while working toward a large performance. This came as a surprise to all of us, as typical ensemble dancers are in high school. Emma weighed all of her summer options and after making a lengthy pro and con list decided to accept Blue Lake's offer to be a member of the Ballet ensemble. She will be leaving us in late June and return at the end of July...gulp. She is thrilled to death that a couple of her closest friends were accepted as well!
This is shaping up to be quite a spectacular summer for Emma.
We are so proud of her that we are all willing to miss her like crazy.
She is anxious to have this once in a lifetime experience!
Merde Emma Grace!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Finn's B-day Dinner

In our house birthday dinners are never questioned. The honoree plans the meal from start to finish without exception and tonight Finn had his turn!

On the Menu:
Roasted Rack of Lamb with Herbs de Provence
Bacon
McDonald's French Fries
Smoked Paprika Green Beans
Diet Coke
We loved his menu and we think it shows Finn is living comfortably in the bubble between boyhood and manhood as every ten year old boy should!
We are pretty sure he made a killer wish!

Two whole hands...

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

...and ten in 2010.

Finn, witnessing your decade on this earth has been an irreplaceable adventure.
You are one of the greatest gifts of our lifetime and we cannot wait to see what your next ten years have store for you.
There isn't a day that goes by we don't appreciate you and the joys you have brought us.
Happy Birthday!
Love,
Mom and Dad

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