Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Brides Over the Buffet

Yesterday, while enjoying a few quiet moments in my house, I dusted the pictures and trinkets above the buffet in our dining room. The glass pieces on the ledge are among some of the favorites I've collected and include our wedding cake dish, a broken piece of depression glass, and a decanter my dad made. If you look closely you can even find an empty Micky's bottle (Leif and I shared the drink in our first apartment) filled with Emma's letters from camp. A stunning piece of goofus glass holds the bullets casings and dried flowers from Thad's funeral and the prayer book my grandmother carried with her when she married my grand father is tucked next to it.

I affectionately refer to the photos above my glass collection as "The Brides over the Buffet" and they are simply breathing taking. These photographs, when combined with my treasures on the ledge, make up one of my most prized displays in our house. Let me introduce you...
My mother, Trish Schmelzer.
Leif's grandmother, Grace Festa.
Leif's mother, Nancy Elsmo
My Grandmother, Virginia Schmelzer
My great grandmother, Frances Vetter

Aren't they lovely? I enjoy looking at them every day!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Easy Breezy

If I were a betting woman, I'd wager the last time you were in a room full of chandeliers you were having a pretty good time, right? Maybe you were at a wedding or a Bat Mitzvah or boring work related event made better by cocktails. Whatever the occasion, I am sure it it was an event, however predictable, worthy of being held in a ballroom.
The ballroom above, stripped of it's centerpieces and pink bows, of course, plays host to what is quite possibly the strangest bi-annual meeting I attend and it is in no way a chandelier worthy affair. Yesterday the Northern Illinois Soccer League held it's fall scheduling meeting in this sparkly room to allow various club representatives the opportunity to decode cryptic proposed game schedules like the one below.
Picture this: Twenty-Four tables are jammed into a steaming hot ballroom and hold representatives from six teams each. We, the club reps, have to make sure our teams can make the proposed games. If a team can't you have to decide between the two teams when and where to move it. When you agree on a new date and time you write it on an orange card in the center of the table. Now, this process, reminiscent of the antiquated college add/drop system, doesn't sound all that daunting until you consider the realities of the situation.

I am pretty much ALWAYS the only girl at the table (consequently I always wear pink to this meeting), with out fail there is sure be a substantial language barrier between two or more teams, and it is guaranteed there will be a team in each bracket whose coach oversees thirty-eight teams and can never ever play a single game. Seriously, not ever. The man who coaches the thirty-eight teams will also be the guy who does not have a calendar with him. On the upside, however, there is also always a hot young coach at the table to provide ample distraction during these boring negotiations.

Yesterday, I dressed up in my pink attire and hammered out a game schedule with The Force, Raptors, and even some Wildcats. Finn's team will be traveling to Geneva, Rockford, and St. Charles among several other glamorous locations this season. The hottie coach at my table called me "Easy Breezy" and made it much easier for me to deal with the the coach who would not could not ever play our required game. At one point another team rep "suggested" I assume the role of secretary for the group and collect every one's contact information and send it out via email. I offered to "write my contact information in my nice pretty penmanship on his schedule", but informed him I did not feel the need to be responsible for the group as a whole. My hottie coach nodded and his smile indicated he approved of my feminist stance. I think he totally understood I spend all of my spare time looking for the missing stinky shin guard buried somewhere in my minivan.

At the end of the hour our trusty group of six teams had worked out 60 games between us and we left looking forward to the start of the season. What makes it all the more impressive is the simple fact more than one thousand teams are represented in eight groups in that sparkly ballroom during the course of the day! So if you ever wondered how your kid's travel soccer schedule comes to be, now you know it happens in a room full of chandeliers in sunny Shaumburg. Easy Breezy!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


...courtesy of the Irving School garden.
The folks in charge of the gardens at school let me snag a few gorgeous squash blossoms this morning and I cooked them for dinner tonight. I guess that place really can feed the mind, body, and spirit! What a perfect first day of school dinner!

The Last First Day

This morning as Emma and Finn started off on their first walk to school of the year, I found myself feeling just a little sentimental. I suddenly flashed back to walking Emma to Irving on her first day of Kindergarten nine years ago. Her backpack enveloped her tiny body as she proudly marched through the "big school" doors. All the while her infant brother snoozed in the stroller. I never considered how fleeting this stage of our life would seem, but Emma joined her fellow 8th graders at the middle school this morning and Finn took his position in line at the 5th grade doors on our family's last first day at Irving School. I guess there will be a lot of lasts this year, but I know all good things must come to an end and I plan to savor every last moment!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Summer Good-bye

This morning Emma and her friend Belle organized a joint family outing to the Warren Dunes in Michigan. I can't think of a more perfect way to say good-bye to summer freedom and usher in a new school year! Thanks for making it happen girls!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A Minter Week-End

This week-end our dear friends Ed and Miles came in for the night. I decided to take this as an opportunity to prepare a special dinner for them. I was most excited to cook for, budding foodie, Miles, and I think he enjoyed the offerings. He had never eaten a scallop before and seemed quite taken with the Lemon Ricotta Ravioli I created especially for him! I even surprised Ed by inviting Brian and Ang to join us for dinner!

Following our delicious dinner, the boys settled in to watch a movie and the adults retired to deck. Before we had a single pause in the conversation or a break from frequent bouts of laughter, it was 2am and we all realized we might be a little worse for the wear in the morning! Needless to say we rallied and managed to take Ed and Miles to enjoy a Cemita in the city before hitting the Garfield Park Conservatory. What a perfect evening among friends!
Thanks for making time for us, friends! We always treasure time spent in your company.

Afternoon at the Conservatory

This afternoon we headed out to take in a bit of beauty at the Garfield Park Conservatory. What a wonderful way to close out a memorable week-end with friends!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Music Scene

Last night, I managed to steal away with Emma for a few minutes to hear Ella Gill sing at Val's Halla Records. Once again this young lady (along with her friend) and her love of folk music impressed me to no end! I was particularity taken with her version of Judy Collin's, Twelve Gates to the City and found myself marveling at her ever growing confidence! I had to sneak out before her last set, but Emma told me her interpretation of Fever was also first rate! I tell you, this girl is going places and I am just thrilled to watch it all unfold!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Here's to the Swine.

Here's to the Swine
That Animal Divine
who went through Mud and Slime
Grit and Grime
Gorges over Time
Into Meats Sublime
the Publican
837 West Fulton Market
Chicago, IL 60607

  • Chef's Selection of Oysters:Kumamoto (Humbolt Bay, Calafornia), Coromandel (Auckland, New Zealand), Kusshi (British Columbia, Canada), Sun Berry Point (P.E.I. Canada), Island Creek (Duxbury, Massachuettes), and Misty Point (Pope's Bay, Virginia)
  • Frites with George's Organic Eggs
  • Ahi Tuna Escabeche (Marshall Islands), atrichokes, potoatoes, preserved lemons, almonds
  • Taste of Three Hams Served with Nordic Creamery Goat Butter and Peasant Bread: Fermin Serrano (Salamanca, Spain), La Quercia Rosa (Norwalk, Iowa), Benton Country Ham (Madisonville, Tennessee)
  • Feijoda (Becker Lane Organic Farm, Dyersville, Iowa), Pork Tenderloin, Pork Shoulder, Chorizo, Kale, Cranberry Beans
  • Carrots (Nichol's Farm, Marengo, Illinois), Buratta, Black Olives, Harissa
  • Sweetbreads (Strauss Veal Farm, Franklin, Wisconsin), Fennel, Apple, Ham and Kale
  • Waffle with Honey Butter and Plum Ginger Jam
In July the Pettit's took us to enjoy an incredible meal and right in the middle of dinner we decided we should eat out together more often. I immediately made reservations for us at Publican since Leif and I had never eaten there and the Pettit's rank it among their favorites. Last night we enjoyed our next knock out meal among the best of friends!

I love eating out with the Pettits because they are not shy of a menu. We honestly worked it out so we could taste as many items as possible with out going into cardiac arrest at the table. My last minute order of Sweetbreads could have pushed us all over the edge, but they were so utterly perfect none of us were willing to admit we should have passed them up! The assortment of oysters were the best I have ever eaten in my life. Period.
The carrots were a revelation and the hams were divine.
Seriously, the fare is sublime and dining at the Publican is time well spent!
As incredible as the food was, I almost felt like it was more important for the four of us to slow down and settle in for a relaxing evening. The week before the start of school is notoriously busy for parents and taking a well deserved and much needed break was more enjoyable than I can even describe! Thanks for a fantastic night Pettits! I can't wait until we do it again.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Monday, August 16, 2010

Beating the Heat with Butter

"The best way to execute French cooking is to get good and loaded and whack the hell out of a chicken. Bon Appetite." -Julia Child

This evening we hosted our second birthday party for the great Julia Child! Our friends all spent considerable time in the kitchen today, donned their aprons and pearls, and celebrated the courage it takes to tackle Julia's recipes!
The buffet was breath taking! It featured two incredible soups (fresh herb and cream & traditional potato leek), a stunning tomato, anchovy and olive tart, tomatoes Provencale, Salade Nicoise, Coq au Vin, a totally unique purple beet and rice salad, and a chocolate mousse for a sweet finish! Honestly, this was a most memorable meal.

Happy birthday Julia.
Thank you for giving us all a reason to cook and celebrate great friends and decadent food.
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