31 March 2011

Florida :: Day 2


Brian and I went for a really hot, horrible, sticky run this morning. Still, felt great to be running in shorts and a t-shirt. Tried to go to the beach when we got back, but the wind was too strong. We did get to ride on the boat there and back though, which was fun (the boat takes you to an island beach that we love). Swam the afternoon away, and had a delicious Mexican dinner at home. Fun day.

Florida :: Day 1

Arrived in Florida to visit my parents. After swimming in the pool, the first thing the boys wanted to do was fish.

28 March 2011


I cannot get enough of these great frocks and shoes by Humanoid. I'll take one of each, please! (via Bliss Blog, photos courtesy of Humanoid).

22 March 2011

Really Need to Do This More Often


Had a great dinner with great friends I tonight. I first met Midge without really meeting her. She left a note in our mailbox inquiring about the siding on our house, so Brian called her back. A few months later, my old neighbor from Chicago mentioned she knew someone else who just moved to the area. It was Midge -- who lives just a few houses away from us. Small world. Libby is someone I was told I had to meet. Supposedly we had very similar beliefs regarding work/home balance (and it turns out we do). She has two boys who are a bit older, so we even exchanged emails (me asking for after school care advice) way before meeting each other in person. And, you probably already know Melissa. She's been on my blog once or twice before. Or, pretty much every weekend, at least. I was so excited when the four of us were able to get a date on the calendar for a dinner. It was such a great night -- I really didn't want it to end. P.S. Boy, do I look tired....

21 March 2011

Art by C: Self Portrait in Clay


A couple years ago, H came home with the most awesome art piece -- his self portrait in clay. When we found out we'd be moving, one of the first things I thought of was that C wasn't going to get to do his. It really bummed me out. I was at Melissa's one day, saw the pieces her kids did, and mentioned how sad I was that we weren't going to have one for C. She suggested I simply contact the art teacher and ask if C could do one. What a great idea! Today C came home with his, and I adore it. When I asked him why his face was so pink, he said, "Because. That's the color of my face after I'm running around a lot."

20 March 2011

Brian's 40th Birthday Celebration


We looked at our calendars a couple weeks ago, and realized we only have a few more weekends here before the big move. Brian's birthday was a great opportunity to have some people over one last time. The theme was Irish of course.  My guarantee to everyone was that there would be corned beef & cabbage and a birthday cake (Guinness Chocolate Cake). I didn't promise a clean house and a warned everyone that we'd be surrounded by boxes. Dinner was delicious. The company was great. It was a great way to celebrate the big guy's 40th birthday.

17 March 2011

Cupcakes and Fire Trucks

Hope everyone's having a great St. Patty's Day. I'm not a lick of Irish, so never really did the St. Patrick's Day thing. But now-a-days, we all can be found dressed in green and doing the jig. (Not really, on the jig part). It's turned into quite a big deal. The kids had fun looking for leprechauns and gold coins. I don't think any were found, but C did set up a couple booby traps at his after-school program, which they let him keep them up for the night. Brian's up in Wisconsin for his birthday. Kind of a bummer (for us -- not him, I'm sure). At least it's not Taipei, where's he's been the last couple years on this very special day. To celebrate, I picked up some cupcakes from the Oak Park Bakery. These are for you, Babe! (Don't worry, we saved one for you.) But before the cupcakes, there was a bit of excitement on our block...


Yes, there's our house right on the corner. A gas leak! Never a dull moment, I tell ya. At first, we were just told about it and given the choice to stay or leave the house. But then, everyone on our side of the street was told not to go in our houses. The gas leak was up the block. And I have to say, the firemen, police and even gas company were very quick to respond. We were displaced for over a hour, but personally? I'd rather be safe than sorry. You always wonder what you'd bring in case of emergency. Well, I grabbed my laptop and hard drive, the kids and dog. C wouldn't leave house without his blanket. And H, just kept saying he should have grabbed his homework. So strange.

It's Time to Celebrate

Today -- March 17, 2011 -- my main squeeze turns 40. (Finally...) I think this year is going to be great, and am super excited for good things. We are so very, very proud of you. Happy birthday Brian! Love, A, C & H

16 March 2011

Urban Quilt

It seems that besides barns and wood ceilings, I've also become a bit obsessed with quilts lately. "Amy Ahlstrom is a contemporary urban quilter creating hypermodern fiber art. Drawing upon her background as a graphic designer and comix illustrator, Amy digitally photographs the visual details of cities—street art, signs, and architectural details—and collages these images via computer into quilt designs." Sign me up! (Quilts by Amy Ahlstrom via The Jealous Curator.)

14 March 2011

Inspriration Files :: Converted Barn

Converted barns = my obsession! Think of all the fun we'd have. (via Bliss via Marie Claire Maison)

13 March 2011

The Dresser


We are moving in a few weeks. We've been packing like crazy, and have a ton more to do. Instead of just throwing stuff into boxes saying we'll deal with it later -- like we usually do -- we are trying to be very conscientious of how and what we are packing. While the amount of space in the new house is the same -- maybe even more -- there is way less raw basement storage space (like, there isn't any). The new place is also loaded with built-ins, which means we don't need a lot of our furniture. It's been interesting. Honestly, it feels really good to purge. But some of it is sentimental and a bit sad to let go of. Today this dresser left the house. It was my dad's from when he was a kid. Besides the fact that they just don't make furniture like this anymore, what made it great was the little memories my dad left behind in the drawers -- like the bottom one that says "Geometry, French, English -- I must study." I know it's absolutely silly, but what makes this all so much easier for me, is that it's going to families we know. This dresser will be in the room of a friend of H's. His desk is in another. Some book shelves and a toy box are going into our neighbor's down the street. My sister-in-law is getting our bedroom set and my grandfather's vintage bar stools. The boy's baby furniture is now in the home of H's second grade teacher's house, who is expecting any day. And even their favorite toys from when they were little are making their way into the home of one particular little boy in Wisconsin who seems to be enjoying them. Now, it's just time for us to be back together. At least we are making progress.

11 March 2011

Let's Get Away

Every Friday when Brian walks in the door after being away for the week, I just want to wrap my little family up in a blanket and snuggle the weekend away. Even the dog is welcome. However, hopping in this awesome 1978 Airstream and driving into the sunset is pretty appealing too. (Designed by Matthew Hofmann via Desire to Inspire)

09 March 2011

Art Extravaganza with C


Tonight, after our work and school days were over, we ventured to the High School for the Art Extravaganza. It was very exciting -- a piece of C's artwork had been selected to be part of the exhibit. The walls were covered, and it was absolutely amazing to see what the kids were creating. It makes me so sad to think programs such as art, music and more are in jeopardy all over the place. These are such critical programs. Let's make sure they don't go away.

08 March 2011

A Visit from Uncle Richard


Each year my uncle from North Carolina (my mom's brother) comes into town for the big Housewares Show. We always try to see each other at least for dinner one night. He's retiring this year -- supposedly -- so this could be the last one he needs to attend. And, of course, there's the fact that we are moving anyhow. So last night, he took the train out from the airport, and we went out for dinner. He even spent the night at our house, which was great, since it gave us some time to catch up a bit. And this morning, he walked the kids to school with me, then we rode the train into work together. It was a very nice visit. Thanks Uncle Richard!

06 March 2011

Alinea :: The Best Meal of My Life


I went to sleep very happy last night. I was perfectly full and just had consumed some of the most incredible food and wine I've ever experienced. I couldn't help but waking up wondering if was all a dream. How lucky were we to get to dine at Alinea! We went with Leif & Melissa, which just made the evening even more special. Alinea was part 40th birthday present to Brian. And part celebrating friendship. (When I look back at our time in Oak Park, I cannot imagine our lives without the Elsmo's. Thank goodness we are only moving an hour and a half away because otherwise I'd be a wreck thinking about leaving them.) I was the Alinea virgin of the group -- but there was only one course that was on all of their previous menus. We were all in absolute awe of what we were being presented with. Grant Achatz is a absolute genius. It's true -- dining at Alinea is extravagant experience. We've been saving for months gearing up for this (and the credit card miles we've been saving will help a ton too). But that's exactly what it is. An experience. I can honestly say, that never in my life am I going to forget our time at Alinea. I was truly magical.

LEMON luxardo bitter, luxardo amaro, grapefruit
APPLE laird's apple brandy, grenadine, thyme
SQUASH cynar, carpano antica, flor de cana 7 year
STEELHEAD ROE dijon, rutabaga, grapefruit *
  Cocktail of Pierre Peters Brut with chrysanthemum liquer and bitters
YUBA shrimp, miso, togarashi
URCHIN watercress, vanilla, mint -
HALIBUT black pepper, coffee, lemon *
  Testamatta 'Cicala del Giglio;, Toscana 2009
RABBIT parfait, rillette, consummé
  Niepoort 'Redoma Branco', Douro 2009
HOT POTATO cold potato, black truffle, butter *
SHORT RIB olive, red wine, black garlic *
  Quinta da Viçosa, Alentejo, Portugal 2005
HAMACHI west indies spices, banana, ginger
CANARD a la Cussy
  Raymond Usseglio 'Cuvée Impériale', Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2003
VENISON cherry, cocoa nib, eucalyptus
BLACK TRUFFLE explosion, romaine, parmesan *
SNOW yuzu
SWEET POTATO cedar, bourbon, pecan
  Nittnaus Riesling Beerenauslese, Burgenland, Austria 2002
LEMONGRASS dragonfruit, finger lime, cucumber
BACON butterscotch, apple, thyme
NUTELLA bread, banana, chocolate
LYCHEE jasmine tea
  AE Dor 'Pineau Francois 1er', Pineau des Charentes
CHOCOLATE blueberry, honey, basil *
 Toro Albala 'Don PX' Gran Reserva, Montilla-Moriles, Spain 1982

NOTE: Everything we ate was outstanding. Pretty much every single dish could qualify as the best thing I've every eaten (except the watercress soup, which I didn't hate, but never need to eat again -- and that being said, the urchin part of it was amazing). I marked a * by my absolute favorite dishes of the evening. I'm not even sure I could pick one favorite if I had to. It was THAT good.

Check out Mel's recap, along with some photos of the courses we had.

Photos above courtesy of the Elmso Four.

Yes, that is cayenne cotton candy. Seriously, this meal is getting better the more I think about. I'm even willing to say that I'd prefer to give up going out for dinner all year just to go to Alinea again. 

01 March 2011

Inspiration Files :: San Fran Victorian

I kind of really like this home. But what I really want to remember ... is that awesome dining room swing. (via Desire to Inspire, currently for sale).