30 November 2011
The other day, C came home with a book he made in school. It was completely illustrated, and dedicated to "Mom." Here it goes:
Mrs. S. (his teacher), Bradyn and I were at the park. The Whatzit is in a fat pig plastic costume. The plastic pig kicked Mrs. S. onto a roof. Cole kicked the Whatzit. The Whatzit cried. Then the Whatzit went to the zoo.
About the Author:
Cole is a first grader. He lives in Wisconsin with his Mom, Dad and brother. For fun, Cole enjoys soccer.
Isn't he sweet? Somehow, everything goes back to big pigs and kicking.
28 November 2011
27 November 2011
This morning we decided to travel north to the Greenview Tree Farm to cut our own Christmas tree. Over the last several years, we've typically scored the perfect tree by visiting the local lot and picking one out. Seriously, they have been amazing. One other time we were able to visit a farm and cut a tree down -- but it's been a couple years since we've done that. Cutting our own is definitely the preferred method. Even if you never quite know what you will find. The boys refused to wear winter coats, and were freezing the moment we went outside. Most of the trees were either way to big or too small. We did end up taking the hay ride back to the barn warm up before we headed on out again. But eventually, we found a tree that would work. It may not be "perfect" but we think it's pretty great, and the boys said it's their favorite tree yet.
26 November 2011
Today was spent at the Turkey Classic -- a indoor soccer tournament C's team participated in. They played three games. They lost two (including the one where they got creamed by a bunch of girls a whole head taller than all of them) and won one by one point. Overall, it was a pretty great day.
25 November 2011
Thanksgiving was spent at my parents, along with my sister and her family. We arrived earlier in the day so we could watch football. We were able to stop by my cousin's new house and welcome them back to Wisconsin (they had been living in Florida the last few years). And Brian and I even fit in our annual pre-Thanksgiving trail run. It was short but sweet. It was a perfect day.
There even was a little visitor! A guinea pig named Bella who my niece was pet-sitting for. I was bit by a G-pig when I was young, so really never gave them much thought. But I kind of was smitten by this little thing.
22 November 2011
So, I made this the other night when Scott, Ali & A were over for dinner. Caramel Budino with Salted Caramel Sauce. It was amazing. (Recipe via Bon Appetit).
1 cup finely ground chocolate cookie crumbs (such as Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers; about 20 cookies)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups whole milk, divided
1/4 cup cornstarch
3/4 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
5 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons dark rum
1 teaspoon kosher salt
SALTED CARAMEL SAUCE
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream, divided
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" cubes
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Lightly sweetened whipped cream
Mix cookie crumbs, butter, and salt in a medium bowl. Place 2 tablespoons in a small bowl; cover and chill for garnish. Press 2 tablespoons cookie mixture onto the bottom of each of eight 8-ounce mason jars or ramekins.
Whisk 1/2 cup milk and cornstarch in a small bowl; set aside. Heat remaining 2 1/2 cups milk in a small saucepan just to a simmer; set aside. To make caramel, stir sugar and 3/4 cup water in a heavy saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat; cook without stirring until an instant-read thermometer registers 210°–220°
Line a sieve with a double layer of cheesecloth and set over a large pitcher. Whisk egg yolks in a large bowl. Gradually whisk in hot milk, then cornstarch mixture. Slowly whisk in caramel. Return mixture to saucepan. Whisk constantly over medium heat until mixture thickens and a thermometer registers 175°, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat; whisk in butter, rum, and salt. Pour through prepared sieve.
Pour 1/2 cup budino over crust in each jar. Cover; chill until set, 4–5 hours. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled. (NOTE: I did this)
SALTED CARAMEL SAUCE
Place cream in a small pitcher. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add bean. Set aside.
Stir sugar, corn syrup, and 2 tablespoons water in a heavy saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium-high; boil, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down sides with a wet pastry brush, until deep amber color forms, 5–6 minutes. Remove from heat; gradually add vanilla cream (mixture will bubble vigorously). Whisk over medium heat until smooth and thick, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat; whisk in butter and salt. Strain into a heatproof bowl. Let cool slightly.
Spoon 2 tablespoons caramel sauce over each budino. Top with whipped cream. Sprinkle some of reserved cookie crumbs over each.
When we were at the concert Sunday night, we got to hang out back stage waiting for our friends. Been a long time since I've been back there, and from what I remember, it's much nicer. Or maybe, it's just the difference it makes now that smoking is banned. Thank goodness. My favorite part though? All the awesome posters.
21 November 2011
Yesterday, Brian and I drove down to Chicago for the night. Our friends Jeff and Jo Ann were in town. Jeff is co-founder and CEO of Dangerbird Records (and Pablove). One of their acts is Fitz & The Tantrums, who were performing three sold out shows at the Metro. The last time I was there was probably four years ago when Brian and I saw LCD Soundsystem. In a past life, we spent many an evening there when Brian was in a band. It brings back many memories, for sure. Anyhow, we had seen Fitz & The Tantrums at the Pablove Benefit Concert last in January and were blown away. I really like their music -- but seeing them live is something special. They are full of energy, fun and simply amazing. The whole venue was dancing and clapping. You just can't help it. It was awesome.
Want to hear them? Here you go!
19 November 2011
For the last few weeks, I have spent many hours raking the leaves in our yard. It really hasn't been too bad -- beside one other weekend, I've only had to spend couple hours here and there. Today though, leaf raking was brought to an entire new level. Our last house had a teeny tiny back yard, so we come equipped with one normal sized rake and two small kid-sized rakes. I did invest in a couple tarps a few weeks back so we could drag the leaves to the street. Most of our neighbors are super smart and simply hire a lawn service. Some others have purchased the leaf attachment for a tractor. Not us! The people with "one of the largest yards" in the area -- per the description on the MLS sheet. We raked and raked. We loaded the tarps and dragged them to the curb -- no less than 50 times. My body aches, despite the ibuprofen I've already taken. But it does feel really great to have finished this. And I of course can't forget a big shout out for my partner in crime, H, who has been a HUGE help. The whole family basically pitched in this week, but before that, it was him and me and a few random moments with C. And I couldn't have done it without him. Hmm, I wonder if I should have offered him some ibuprofen too.
16 November 2011
I recently signed up to volunteer for lunchroom duty and recess at the boy's school. Fortunately, it's for the fourth grade class. With the younger grades, your time is spent putting straws in juice boxes and opening yogurts. I basically need to get napkins every now and then, and excuse students to the bathroom. Although, I was a bit early today, and had to stop some third graders from throwing food and trading their lunches (a big no-no because of food allergies). Oh, and I did catch a 1st grader going to the bathroom with his sandwich up his shirt sleeve to throw it out. Kind of funny. But so far, fourth grade is not half bad. And I get to see my H, who still likes seeing me. In fact, I guess his friends think I'm pretty cool -- so they are ok in my book. As I was leaving my lunchroom duty, I ran into a parent from C's class (who was my sister's college room mate of all things) who asked if I was going to the play. Um, what play? Honestly, I had no idea what she was talking about, but thank goodness I ran into her! Turns out, his class was putting on a production in music class about the Three Little Pigs. And C was a puppeteer! He was so proud. That little impromptu play kind of just made my day.
15 November 2011
Happy 5th Birthday, Storm! If you could measure affection by the number of squeezes you get on a daily basis, you might just be the most loved dog in the world.
Thank you for putting up with our shenanigans. Here's to hoping you get to sleep the day away.
(Oh wait! You already ARE!)
P.S. Fun fact! Today is also my parent's dog -- Winston's -- birthday.
13 November 2011
10 November 2011
I was woken up this morning by H running in my room and opening all the blinds so I could see the snow falling. The boys were outside at least fifteen minutes before the bus was even scheduled to come, just running around with their mouths wide open, catching snowflakes. As soon as they were picked up, Storm and I set off for an hour long walk by the lake. There really is something magical about the first snow of the season.
09 November 2011
Today my niece turned 13, which is kind of unbelievable. It seems like just yesterday we got the news that she was born! We were in the airport with my parents coming home from my cousin's wedding in North Carolina. To celebrate tonight, we feasted on crab legs, lobster, steak and birthday cake, of course. The boys were in heaven. I think she's going to have an excellent year.