Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Haunting!

To be honest, Halloween kind of sneaked up on the Elsmo 4 this year! Everyone has been as busy as can be and before we knew it it was time to pass out the candy! We managed to fit in some pumpkin carving before the trick-o-treaters started arriving. Finn found a flower growing inside of his and poor Leif's was rotten, but Emm's moonshine was darling and my scarehead was pretty meanacing!

I had a big pot of chicken chili simmering on the stove and some freshly baked bread for our lovely friends to enjoy while they took their little ones trick-o-treating. Finn jumped at the chance to hit the streets with his friends and hauled home quite a bit of candy. Emma opted to stick close to home this year and took Zane around the block once before settling in to pass out candy and enjoy some chili with the ladies in the kitchen.


We headed to one other neighborhood party before Finn conked out and Emma, Leif and I snuggled up to eat pumpkin seeds and watch Dracula! It turned out to be a perfect day all around!
Boo and Eek!

Sunday on the pitch...

The Strikers finished out their fall season today!
Finn had a tremendous season and the team progressed very well.
Indoor is up next and they'll be back out on the pitch in the spring!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Dinner without Tents

The last time we got together with the Pfour and the Tillotsons we had spent the better part of the day hiking and living it up around a campfire in Wisconsin. Tonight our camping crew enjoyed a dinner at Aim and Graham's house; a less rustic setting to say the least. Amy mixed up some yummy cocktails and served up some delicious spaghetti while we sat around her gorgeous table and allowed a memorable evening to unfold. Thanks for having us! Cheers to another great camp out in 2011!

Saturday on the pitch...

Style Note: despite the fact The Red Wedge and most others totally disagree with me, I am all about getting this boy a haircut right now. I am pretty sure I am going to lose this battle because even Finn's hair stylist hates to cut his hair and the last time I brought him in she reluctantly took off only half an inch.
Style concerns aside, Finn had another great game in Rockford today. He was marking a very strong player throughout the game, but I think he did a fine job because the kid finally turned on Finn, threw up his arms and said, "Man, will you just leave me alone?" Finn's answer, "Um yeah, no." And he didn't. The duo had an exciting run up the sideline and I love how you can feel the fast pace of the game in the picture. It tickles me that Finn's eyes are closed and we will not talk about where his hand is. No-one ever said the Wedge plays fairly 100% of the time...

Friday, October 29, 2010

Halloween: Irving Style

Today celebrated Halloween Irving style. Over the years the school Halloween parade has always been a favorite of mine and I am a little sad this is our family's last trip around the block. This year Finn had the honor of carrying a banner for a first grade class and I am shocked his appearance didn't make the wee ones cry! I think he makes one scary clown!
I was in charge of bringing my crock pot caramel apples to the afternoon classroom party. The last time I brought them to the school things didn't go well; I fell over while carrying the crock pot full of molten caramel. I was a sticky mess to say the least!

This year I was certain things would be better. I melted the caramels down, packed up all the sticks and topping and safely made my way to the car. It was such a relief to have made it there in one piece I was just stunned when a moment later the crock pot tipped over and spilled all over the back seat of Leif's car. Nothing says "Happy Halloween" like a car full of liquid caramel! I had just enough left in the pot to make it work, but I fear cleaning Leif car is going to be the biggest Halloween trick of all!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

They think SHE can dance...

This is my favorite I have taken of Emma while she was dancing. I love her height in the jump, her joyful confidence, and the simple fact I snapped it while she was dancing at home.

Our friend, Nubia, is well known in our family for making really sweet memories for us. She has passed along an incredible handmade thank you card and a mini ballet scrapbook for Emma. She even introduced our family to super couponing and bravely tackled a Julia Child recipe for a party at our house. She is pretty much amazing!

I've learned when Nubia asks for something it is usually in our best interest to pass whatever she wants along to her! A couple of weeks ago she asked me to email her a photo of Emma dancing and of course I sent her my favorite. Emma had no idea I had sent it and I am sure you can imagine her surprise when she saw this today...Yep, that is Courtney Galiano of So You Think You Can Dance (season 4 top 10 and season 7 all star) signing the photo of Emma!

Nubia shares Emma's love (and mine) for the reality dance competition and when she found herself with tickets to the live show and a back stage pass she decided to introduce Emma to the SYTYCD All Stars and Season 7 dancers!
Ashley Galvan (season 7 top 10) was forced to leave this summer's show due to a rib injury, but she was feeling fit enough to sign Emma's picture!
Ade Obayomi (all star) and Finn's favorite Adechike Torbert (top 10 season 7) also signed the photo! And so did season 7 favorite Billy Bell!
All star Kathryn McCormick took a moment to meet Emma, too! Lauren Froderman (season 7 winner) also signed the picture!
Breakers, Dominic Sandoval (season 3 top 10 and season 7 all star) and shy guy Jose Ruiz posed for a picture with Nubia and signed Emma's picture!
Kent Boyd (season 7 runner up and Emma's favorite dancer) was the last to sign Emma's picture and demanded to know where she was!

Can you even imagine how much this treasure will mean to Emma? These are her idols and Nubia told her that several complimented her form as a dancer!

I am sure Emma will never be able to thank Nubia enough for her thoughtfulness and as a family we feel incredibly lucky that we have someone in our life like her. She is a treasure to say the least! Thanks Nubia!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Night with Mom and Dad.

Yesterday, I made a quick trip to Wisconsin to spend the night with my parents. Yesterday evening, the three of us enjoyed a lovely dinner at The Baker House in the heart of Lake Geneva. We chatted about serious subjects and laughed a lot, too and it struck me in the middle of dinner that I could not remember the last time I was alone with my parents. We figured that at the bare minimum it had been close to fifteen years since we'd been a trio last. I am just saying we should do it more often; I sure did enjoy myself!
Today my mom invited me to attend a luncheon she helped organize as a fundraiser for the Geneva Lake Women's Association (GLWA). We all enjoyed and Asian inspired chicken salad before taking in Barbara Rinella's educational book review of Shanghai Girls by Lisa See. I had never seen a book review like this before and I just loved it. Rinella is part academic, part story teller and part solo performance artist and her enthusiastic review made me want rush out and read the book as soon as possible! All I can say is, my mom and all the ladies of GLWA, know how to throw a lovely party!

It was such fun spending the day peeking into my mom's life and I will treasure my solo night with my parents for years to come. Thanks guys!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

86

"The 86 Hunger dinner series brings together Greater Chicago Food Depository supporters and the culinary community for a common cause: ending hunger in our community. The series is comprised of private culinary experiences at prominent restaurants in Chicagoland. 86 Hunger is borrowed from a culinary phrase--to 86 something--that lets the entire kitchen and restaurant staff know that a menu item is no longer available. So let's 86 hunger...and take hunger off the menu."
West Town Hunger Smack Down

ONE
Ahi Tuna Crudo Ceviche, SpicyMango, Blood Orange Aire and Tortilla Strips
Chef Carlos Gaytan: Mexique Restaurant

TWO
Seared Scallop, Tamarind Candy Glaze, Purple Rice, Hearts of Palm Puree, and Wasabi Peas
Chef Alex Cheswick: May Street Market

THREE
Braised Beef Shortrib with Sweet Potato Puree and Horseradish Aioli
Chef John Manion: Branch 27

FOUR
American Artisinal Cheeses with Accompaniments:
Barely Buzzed and Dunbarton Blue Cheddar
Dukkah, Pear, Buckwheat Honey, and Roasted Pecans
Mitch Einhorn: Lush Wines and Spirits

FIVE
Halloween Treats:
Molasses-Pumpkin Ice Cream Sandwich, Licorice Creme Brulee, and Caramel Apple Tart
Chef Susan Gross: West Town Tavern
As much as it pains me to admit this, I didn't go to this amazing fundraiser. I was supposed to take Emma, but I have been really under the weather for the past several days and decided I had better stay home for a cozy night in with Finn. As you can imagine, it didn't take much arm twisting to get Leif to step in and take my place! Emma documented her date night with her dad and both of them were totally impressed with with the dinner, the company and the cause! I promise not to miss out on the next one, but I am thrilled Emma and Leif had such a memorable night together!

Sunday on the Pitch...

Nothing about this photo embodies the beautiful game of soccer.
Finn was mixing it up with quite a notable hack on the field this morning and Emma's deft photography surely proved that to be true. The Strikers managed a 4-2 win and the Red Wedge had a nice assist, but not before taking this substantial and intentional blow to the upper thigh and few bold elbows to the face. Needless to say he is all hot baths and ice packs this afternoon!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

All Stars.

Joffrey Ballet
All Stars

Stravinsky Violin Concerto
Choreography by George Balanchine
Joffrey Premier: October 13th, 2010
World Premier: New York City Ballet 1972

Tarantella
Choreography by George Balanchine
Joffrey Premier: October 30th, 1977
World Premier: New York City Ballet 1964

After the Rain
Choreography by Christopher Wheeldon
Joffrey Premier: October 13th, 2010
World Premier: New York City Ballet 2005

The Concert
(Or, the perils of everybody)
Choreography by Jerome Robbins
Joffrey Premier: October 13th, 2010
World Premier: New York City Ballet 1956
Emma and I were more than eager to to settle into our familiar seats for the start of yet another Joffrey season and their offerings this evening did not disappoint. All Stars featured works by renowned choreographers who have all made a significant imprint on the dance world.

The first two offerings highlighted George Balanchine and his tricky, at times quirky, fast paced works. Stravinsky Violin Concerto celebrated flexed feet and fluidity, while Tarantella embraced classic and complex Balanchine technique. Tambourines in hand, Anastacia Holden and John Mark Giragosian more than held their own among a company that is, in a few ways, still working up to perfecting these challenging Balanchine works.

This evening's performance of After the Rain was one of the single best works I have seen performed live. The audience owes a debt of gratitude to Christopher Wheeldon for creating this breathtaking work. Period. Standouts Victoria Jaiani and Fabrice Calmels were well supported by Valerie Robin, Matthew Adamczyk, April Daly and Miguel Angel Blanco through out this spectacular evolving story. Save for New York City Ballet, the Joffrey is the first company to be granted the rights to perform After the Rain in its entirety. It was a well deserved honor. The dancers performed with admirable grace and respect for this twenty-two minute creation and the immediate standing ovation was the least the audience could do to reward such a memorable effort.
Just when we thought things couldn't get any better the brilliance of Jerome Robbins entered the scene. The Concert revolves around the Ballerina, the Angry Woman, the Shy Boy, the Husband and Wife, and the Matinee Girls as their collective minds begin to wander during a piano concert. Emma and I were laughing out loud and delighted in the rare gift of a truly humorous ballet! I cannot describe the deft and comedic timing displayed by the Joffrey dancers tonight! What an absolute joy.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Comfort.

I always marvel at the amount of effort teachers put in during the week of parent teacher conferences! Irving staff members arrive well before the start of school to meet with busy parents before they head off to work and stay late into the evening to check in with folks after regular work hours have long since past. I am delighted to be part of a committee that recognizes these efforts and provides a warm and nourishing lunch for our teachers and staff during this hectic time!
This afternoon we served up an impressive array of home-made soups, scratch made bread breads, salad with two home-made dressings, and and a decadent assortment of desserts! Everyone put their heart into their dish and this meal always proves the whole is more than the sum of it's parts! Thanks, as always, for your hard work. I know our staff appreciates the gesture more than we could ever know!

Shakespeare.

Last night Leif and I were were treated by Leadership Greater Chicago to an evening of culture and tragic romance at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. After enjoying a backstage tour and a casual dinner on site, we settled in for Romeo and Juliet. It had been years since I had seen a live production of Romeo and Juliet and all I have to say is, " Romeo who? I'll take some Mercutio any day!" Ariel Shsfir's portrayal of Mercutio, Romeo's comic foil who meets a tragic end at the hands of the vengeful Tybalt, was the stand out performer of the evening! While the entire production teams with masculine energy the central love story gets just a little lost due to a lack a believability between a weak Romeo and immature Juliet. I'd still say, the entire production kept me on the edge of my seat and I truly marvel at the talents these actors possess!

Romeo and Juliet runs at the CST on Navy Pier through November 21st. Consider buying a ticket.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

baking.

Anyone who knows me at all will quickly tell you I cannot bake to save my life and the fact that I am about to post a cookie recipe should tell you three things:
1. These are super freaking easy to make.
2. Honestly, they are not that sweet.
3. They are pretty darn good.
Peanut- Pretzel Cookies
1 1/2 C Flour
1/2 t baking soda
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp
1 1/4 C sugar
1 C smooth peanut butter
2 eggs at room temp
1/3 C unsalted roasted peanuts chopped
6 C chopped miniature pretzels, chopped

Line cookie sheets with parchment. Place racks in the upper and lower 1/3 of the oven and preheat to 350. Whisk together the flour and the sugar in a bowl. Using a mixer beat the butter, sugar, and peanut butter on medium until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. With the machine on low, gradually add the flour mixture. Mix until just combined. Mix in the peanuts. Using a scoop or a spoon drop a 1 1/2 T dough ball into the pretzels and toss to coat. Place on sheets. Repeat until all dough is used. Bake 20 minutes or until slightly soft to the touch. Cool on pan 10 minutes before transferring to racks to cool completely. Makes about 24 cookies.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Praise.

This evening all four of us headed to Broadview to listen to our friend Rhonda's choir concert at St. James community Baptist Church. I love moments when I am reminded that attending church can be a joyful, spirit-filled, and exuberant experience! Rhonda sang a powerful and upbeat solo that whipped the congregation into a frenzy of praise and I was so proud of her that I had to hold back a tear or two. Thanks for inviting us Rhonda! All four of us enjoyed ourselves tremendously!

Sunday on the Pitch...


The Red Wedge met up with his Goliath again this week-end, but despite missing a few days of school this week due to illness Finn, and the rest of the Strikers, managed to eek out a tie today. Considering they lost to this team by a significant margin just a couple of weeks ago, I'd say things are looking good for the the team!!

Autumn Color...


...and bangs.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Gussied Up!

After spending the better part of the morning at the Oak Park Temple witnessing her friend Abby's bat mitzvah and then rehearsing for hours at the Academy this afternoon, Emma had the chance to get all dolled up and head to a party for Abby at Cheney Mansion tonight.

I thought these two were too cute for words!
Emma came home covered in beads and glow sticks and it was pretty clear she had an amazing time!
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