Monday, May 30, 2011

In Memoriam.

May the road rise to meet you. May the wind be always at your back.May the sun shine warm upon your face.May the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,  May the Lord hold you in the palm of His hand.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

An 8th grade dance.

When your birthday falls on the same day as the eighth grade dance the party planning options seem pretty obvious, but thanks to the after hours devotion of these two freakishly talented people Emma's big day exceeded all expectations!  I think they helped us throw the best pre-dance birthday party ever and Emma and all of her friends totally agree.
 Emma and four of her besties hit Harrison Street to have manicures and enjoyed some grilled pizza and fruit salad before our dining room was literally transformed into the most extraordinary make-shift salon!  It felt a little like Project Runway with out all the sewing!
All of the girls had such fun watching everyone get their hair and make-up done.  A few even commented that the experience felt like watching a television show and all of them left feeling like they had been in the presence of true artists!  I concur...these two are a force to be reckoned with.
Emma picked out these combs as a birthday present from her Grandma.  We all thought they added the perfect touch to Emma's vintage look and looked perfect with her slightly retro hair style.

The girls had a glorious afternoon and when it came time to put their looks together they all looked stunning! Before we knew it our little house was flooded with camera toting parents and the photo session began!
Emma picked out a classic dreess in a striking daffodil hue and her dad and I thought she looked timeless, confident, and quite mature.

Love. This. Girl.
It occurred to me as I snapped this photo of Juliette that I have known her since she was three years old.  It gave me such a thrill to see her looking so lovely and grown-up.  She and Emma share a forever kind of friendship and as a result Jbcoolcat has become a hugely important part of our lives. 
These four have been dancing together since third grade and as a result are thick as thieves...really gorgeous thieves!  Of course they also had to pose with the dynamic duo responsible for their hair and make-up!

Emma's date, Jack, arrived with birthday flowers in hand and confidently took his place among our quartet of beauties!  What a brave and lucky guy!

Even though they have been freinds for quite a while, this was a first everything for Emma and Jack and they handled themselves with confidence and treated each other with kindness.  He is such a gentleman and exactly they type of person we'd hoped Emma would share  her first date with.  I will be honest that I got a little choked up when she started walking away with Jack. She pretty much floated down the very sidewalk she used to skip down on her way to kindergarten.  Whoa.

I promised the amazing Michael some of my dumplings as part of our deal and after he gobbled them up Leif, Finn, and I headed to the Marion Street Cheese Market to have dinner with Jack's parents, brother and grand father.  I am not sure this day could have been any sweeter!
Following the dance Jack's parents brought them to Brown Cow to have  ice cream with their brothers and after sharing a table with Emma and Jack, Finn commented, "Well...it is pretty clear that Jack really likes her a lot.  He agrees with everything Emma says even when she is wrong!"
Emma headed over to a big sleepover with her girl friends after being dropped off, but not before gushing about the wonderful evening she had!  She shook her head and said, "I think I gave more than one hundred compliments tonight!  You know, I probably received that many, too! I was really pretty fantastic."  Sounds like a practically perfect day to me!


Saturday, May 28, 2011

Birthday Wishes.

 It is hard to imagine this little girl...who wanted three cakes on her third birthday and blew out her candles wearing pink fairy wings and little else...turns fourteen today.  Our house is going to be very festive this afternoon and in this quiet moment, I just wanted to pause and say how grateful I am that Leif and I figured out how to keep Emma alive all those years ago.  We were perhaps the most clueless parents on the planet, but not so much so that we didn't realize we had been given the most precious of gifts. 
Our Amazing Emma Grace.

Watching Emma grow and mature over the years has been among the greatest joys of our life.  It is funny to think the little devil who refused to wear clothing will be all dolled up this evening for her eighth grade semi-formal dance...and yes, a handsome young man will be escorting her.  The passage of time is a funny thing.  As much as we wish time would slow down sometimes, we are equally excited to see the woman Emma will become in the future.
Emma, you have fascinated us during each phase of your life so far and we are honored to be on this journey with you.  Many beautiful birthday wishes to our beautiful birthday girl.  We love you and sincerely like you.
xoxo

Friday, May 27, 2011

Celebrating Forty Years with my parents.

Rosemary
To Remember all the good times you've shared.

Rock
One for each year of marriage and to represent the solid bonds between you.

Twine
To remind us that your marriage is a the tie that binds our family together.

Flame
A symbol of the shining example your marriage has been to countless others.



The Menu

Crostini
Robiola, Pickled Fig, Pistachio Oil

Abstraction of a Garden
radish, arugula, sunflower shoots, lavender, goat cheese, soil

Peas and Carrots
consomme, peas, carrots, dill

Dumplings for Dad
pork, lemongrass, garlic, sweet and spicy

Fish Moroccan Flavors
sea bass, israeli couscous, cinnamon, peppers, olives, orange

S'mores
short rib, coffee, chocolate, marshmallow, crackers

My parents celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary this year and my gift to them was a celebratory dinner for eight guests. Last night they took me up on my offer and I prepared a dinner that honored them and their commitment to each other.  What a joy to be around such lovely people and celebrate a momentous milestone in my parents' lives.


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Water Balloons in the Backyard



I just love it when these two finish up their homework and find some fun around the house!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Feeling Like a Winner in Second Place

 Forty-five people entered the Elsmo Challenge in the Fantasy Premier League this year and I have to say my competitive instincts kicked in like crazy!  My Melon Balllers were the surprise of the season (finishing in the top 5% of the more than 2 million entered) and not only did I come in second place in our league, I even ended up beating the director of coaching for Finn's soccer club by three points.  This was a particularly sweet victory as Murray commented in week four that if the Melon Ballers beat the Midfield General he would never coach, play, or speak of the beautiful game again. What he didn't realize was the fact that no-one can say something like that to me and get away with it!  I am probably one of the most competitive people in the world and despite my lack of knowledge, I pretty much made it my mission in life to beat him.  It was a nail biter right up to the very end, but don't worry, I told him that despite his narrow loss he can just buy me some champagne to celebrate with and put those pesky thoughts about quitting his job out of his head. 

The SS Rocket...managed by my brother...who played top-flight youth soccer, walked-on to a division 1 college team, coached several top-flight teams, and has followed EPL soccer for like his entire life...on the other hand, is having a hard time accepting my victory.  He has openly referred to me as the bane of his existence for the better part of the past 38 weeks and the fact that I defeated him quite handily has him "suddenly questioning everything."  This, of course, delights me on many levels.

To say that I am afraid to go up against these two next year is a pretty big understatement, but for now I will just relish in my victory!
 The truth is, I had more fun with this league than I can really say!  I found myself looking forward to starting my Sunday mornings watching phenomenal soccer games with my two favorite players...Finn and Leif.  Finn's, Flippin' Awesome Team, finished a respectable 20th and Laffyboi FC's bold moves earned him top honors, but most of all I really loved learning so much about the EPL so fast that I can actually have meaningful conversations with my guys on a subject they both care about so much.  Now when Finn's coach says something like, "Finn is channeling his inner Patrice Evra today" I actually know what that means.  How cool is that?

quick quote...

"Is it okay if I swear right now? Don't worry, you can say all three of them on the radio." 
-Finn

Prep Space....

Okay...this has to be one of my new favorite things in my backyard and I'm not sure how I got through past summers with out this stainless table!  The Pettit's gave it to us before they moved because they didn't have a use for it in their new home. The table served as a kitchen island in their raw loft in Chicago where  Ang hosted a baby shower for me when I was pregnant with Emma.  The food Brian's sister made for the occasion was  laid out on this very table!  Now, it fits perfectly on one of the patios in our yard and provides the perfect prep space for ourdoor grilling.  We put it to great use last night when we grilled pizzas after Finn's game.   I just love it when something totally practical is totally sentimental, too!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Underground.

Over the past nine years, I have made some fun foodie focused donations to Irving School Auctions; I've taught cooking classes, whipped up some mean dinners for teachers, and passed a heck of a lot of hors d'oeuvres all in the name of raising a few bucks for an amazing cause.  Since this is marks our family's final year at Irving, Leif and I though we would try to give a little more to get a lot more.

I decided that it would be wildly fun to have folks sign up and pay for a slot to attend a cocktail party without knowing where they were going, who else was going to be there and what food was going to be served.  I had no idea that the event would be so popular, but it sold out in less than two days and raised a descent sum of money for the PTO. 

Last night, after leaking the venue through a series of emails, more than 50 guests descended on a private residence in Oak Park (owned by a very generous former Irving parent and current Irving grand-parents) to enjoy great food and wine and even better company!

Here is your glimpse into the Irving Underground...
Micro Abstraction of a Garden: Roasted Radish, Arugula, Goat Cheese, and Olives
&
Handsome quartet of current Irving parents on the porch

My beautiful friend Sue inspects  several fried chicken skewers with pumpkin mole and pepita  In addition to the dishes shown here we served up savory shortbread bites, blue cheese cucumber cups and chive pancakes with lingonberries!

The evening was a filled with a happy mix of parents of older and younger Irving students, former Irving parents, and Irving staff members.

Korean Bulgogi Boats with Tenderloin, Kimchee, Nectarine, Green Apple, Sesame and Scallion
&
Our host's son and our neighbor, our little dog's namesake, and Leif's lovely co-worker

A quartet of new friends
&
An old stand-by favorite bite
Shrimp Dumpling with Sweet and Spicy Sauce and Golden Garlic

Our hosts, my friend Rhonda and her guest
&
Victorian flowers Leif and I gave to our homeowners as a gesture of thanks for opening their home for this occasion.

One of the biggest hits of the night! 
Brined Pork Gwa Pao Buns with Hoisin and Pickled Cucumber Salad
&
Five glasses of wine toasting the end of a memorable and exhausting evening.
Overall we pushed out almost 900 appetizers in 3 hours! 
Thanks Patty, Anne, Sue, and Midge for donating your time to this worthy cause.  All of you worked tirelessly and I am grateful beyond words!  We had a million moving targets in that kitchen and your ability to keep your eye on the smallest detail ensured the success of the evening!
Leif and I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Irving school and their hardworking teachers and staff for everything they have done for Emma and Finn.  After all this school has given to help make our family what it is today, throwing a community connecting fundraiser seemed like the least we could do to say thanks. It has been a great run!

*thanks to Sue for snapping the party pictures!
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