29 April 2014

Inspiration File :: Treetops

Here's a place I've been filing away for a couple years now. Maybe it's the cold rain we've been having, but it's really appealing to me right now. (No longer for sale, it is located north of Sydney, Australia.)

27 April 2014

Sports Weekend


Well, spring sports have definitely kicked in. Yesterday C had two soccer games and a baseball game, and H had soccer. I missed H's game and C's baseball game due to my Oak Park visit, but from what I hear, it was brutal cold. Ouch. I made it back in time today to catch another one of H's soccer games, and C's baseball games -- and I'm so glad I did! Both were super exciting. H's team ended up losing 1-2, but played an amazing game against a team has crushed them several times in the past. Plus H (the little blue speck in the background) scored an awesome goal. C's baseball game was great today too. They won, and C was first off to bat (bringing in a run) and pitched three innings. Fun day, but I'd be lying if I didn't say it felt great to be home and finally dethawed.

Dinner in Frank's Place


Melissa was invited to cook a dinner in Frank Lloyd Wright's Home and Studio for the homeowners who will be in Wright Plus this year. It's quite the honor, and besides her trusty side-kick who assists with many of her dinners, she asked Penny and I to help out. Her dinner was inspired by the garden at Taliesin and consisted of appetizers, a composed salad and chicken roulade. It was stunning. (For more details and nice photos, check out Melissa's blog.)

24 April 2014



Whoa! This seriously seems like yesterday. And now that big guy is a senior in high school (he was 8 years old here), that little girl is a freshman (she was 5), and my little guys are in 6th and 3rd grades. Unbelievable. This was taken probably the first weekend C was home from the hospital -- August/September 2004. Look at those chicken legs! The first thing my sister does when she sees a baby is undress them, so he honestly isn't wearing any clothes in any of the photos from their visit.

21 April 2014

Spring Break Days 6 and 7 :: Fallingwater, Cleveland & Home Again


We left early in the morning (after a round of dodgeball in the house) and started driving again. This time, we actually did a little site-seeing along the way. Our first stop was Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater. We had purchased tickets to an earlier tour, but Pennsylvania traffic got the best us. Fortunately, we were able to fit into a later tour. What a magnificent place. My favorite part was the staircase leading to the river, where you could set on the edge and have the water run over your feet. I can only imagine how awesome it was to vacation there. Many of the materials used actually reminded Brian and I of our house. Afterwards, we drove a few more hours and ended up in Cleveland, Ohio. It turned out to be perfect. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express, which was really nice. First off, it was a warehouse building, so all the rooms were pretty cool. But we lucked out even more. The only room available was a suite. It was enormous. H even slept in the living room. That night, we went out for an incredible dinner at The Greenhouse Tavern, where we ate:

Devils on Horseback – bacon wrapped date, almond, bitter chocolate & roasted Fresno pepper
Foie Gras Steamed Clams – with butter, red onion brulee, late harvest viognier vinegar and grilled bread
Crispy Chicken Wings Confit – with roasted jalapeño, lemon juice, scallion and garlic
Rabbit Sausage
Gnocchi Sardi Pasta – with wild spring mushroom, talegio fonduta, flowering thyme and spring onion
Pan Fried Pork Chop Saltimbocca – with sage, country ham, pomme puree, scrapple and red eye gravy
Gravy Frites – with pommes frites, mozzarella cheese curd and brown gravy
Crème Egg dessert

It was delicious! Now for a good, crazy story. The next morning, we woke up and I checked Facebook. I noticed that one of my high school friends – who lives in Pittsburg -- was in Cleveland for a little getaway with her oldest son. As we walked into breakfast, I stopped in my tracks. There was Marian! Can you even believe it!?! I hadn't seen her since college, and there she was. Honestly, if I hadn’t read that post, I probably would have had a heart attack. It was so awesome. Anyhow, after breakfast, we were on the road again, and made it home later that evening.

H had a great time the entire trip and loved everything about it. C had fun too, but the hotels were his favorite part. He wasn't a big fan of New York City. The homeless people and cigarette smokers freaked him out. As we were in Central Park, however, he spotted a person who he insisted was a leprechaun. Even today, when I suggested he might have been a homeless person, C says that there is no way -- his jacket was too nice. And so, I leave you with this:

Spring Break Day 5 :: New York City & Princeton


We woke up to another cold day. At least it wasn’t raining though! We went to Central Park and walked around. The boys also got to sail the little boats, which was kind of cool. Afterwards, we went to Chelsea Market and had sushi and oysters at The Lobster Place. C was bummed that we didn’t let him get a whole sea urchin after we had already eaten lunch. We also had to try crepes and mini donuts though. I wish I would have saved some room to try the vegan “sushi.” Sadly, Brian had to leave us at this point for a meeting at the car show that afternoon. The boys and I walked the High Line, then back to our hotel and Penn Station, where we caught the train to New Jersey. Brian joined us later in the evening -- after an unfortunate incident where he took the train back towards the city instead of the mini train to Princeton. (And here the boys were worried I was the one who was going to get them lost). In the evening, we all went to Conte’s Pizza for our final meal together.

Spring Break Day 4 :: New York City


When we left on our road trip, I made sure to pack hats and gloves, but didn't bring many warm weather clothing items. All weekend I was commenting on how funny that was. But then, it all turned on us. Tuesday was raining and cold -- and guess what? I had left all the hats and gloves in the back of the car. In New Jersey. Oh well.

We met the gang at the subway and headed to the 9/11 Memorial. The museum itself opens next month, but the site is amazing. Brian pointed out that names of people who were pregnant said "and unborn child" after the name. Just five days before 9/11, I had started announcing that I was pregnant with H. Those people were just like me. While Brian and I didn't personally know anyone who perished, we did find the name of the person Jesse knew. It's heartbreaking. Just a tip when visiting the memorial -- bathrooms are extremely hard to come by in this area. We had two emergency situations that made some of us pretty miserable for awhile. Hopefully, this will change once the museum opens, but even the visitor center didn't offer a port-a-potty. Anyhow, after the memorial, we went for lunch at Tacombi -- Brian's favorite lunch spot. So good.

Jesse, Kim and kids had to leave us at that point, and Brian, H, C and I continued onward for a cupcake at Little Cupcake Bake Shop (we had celebrity siting there -- Gabriel Byrne) and the Tenement Museum. One of my work-out friends had suggested a visit there, and she was right. It was awesome. There are a ton of different tour options. We did the Sweatshop Workers tour, but I'd love to go back and do some of the others. Afterwards, we walked around until the boys could take no more, then headed back to the hotel and rested. Oh, we also went to Dean and Deluca, where the boys got to pick out some treats (C got some yogurt candies and H picked out three exotic fruits) and I stood in line next to Meg Ryan. She was buying coffee beans. It's funny, because I had looked at her and thought, "Oh, that looks like Meg Ryan." But it always takes Brian to point out that someone actually is the person I think it is. I just never think I'm running into someone famous. Funny.

After we rested, we went headed out to dinner. We took a cab to Momofuku Noodle Bar and had an amazing meal of mayan prawns, kimchi, pork buns, brisket buns, momofuku ramen, ginger scallion noodles and pb and strawberry sweet cracker soft serve. It was 40 degrees and raining at this point. Great for ramen. Not great for wandering. None of us wanted to do anything but hop back in a taxi and head back to the hotel for the nigh (which we probably needed anyhow after a jam-packed few days).

Easter Day


My sister and her family hosted Easter this year, which was so great. My brother-in-law's parents and brother were there too, as were my mom & dad. Yes, they are finally back from Florida and it's so nice to have them home. We all had a blast catching up, playing basketball and having another Easter egg hunt in the backyard woods.

20 April 2014

Easter Morning


They waited until 7:00 am to wake us up -- per our request. Once again, C had slept in H's room. Easter is his favorite holiday -- but that bunny sure freaks him out. As soon as they walked down the stairs, the mad dash was on to see who could find the most eggs. I think it's fair to say, these are two happy guys.

19 April 2014

Easter Eggs


We love dying Easter eggs!

Spring Break Day 3 :: New York City


What a day! H has been wanting to visit New York City for as long as I can remember, and we were so excited to finally bring him there. We piled in the car, and headed to the ferry to visit Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. I've always wanted to do that, so was pretty excited. It was a bit long for the kids -- especially with the lines and lack of snack packing on our part. I did find my great-great grandfather's (Angelo Toson) immigration records, which was pretty cool. He came from Varmo, Italy and arrived on April 16, 1912 when he was 39 years old. I never knew him, but my great-grandfather, who we were very close with growing up had arrived a few years earlier when he was just 15. Since he was sponsored, he didn't need to pass through Ellis Island, like his father did a few years later. The Statue of Liberty was also quite amazing. H, who is petrified of heights, out of the blue had a panic attack on the stairs. But other than that, it was awesome. Afterwards, we checked into our hotels (we stayed at Hotel Indigo Chelsea -- which turned out to be in a really great location for us -- and Jesse, Kim and family were around the corner) then headed out for a late lunch/early dinner in Bryant Park. After refueling, we walked over to Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall, and Times Square by night. Wow. This city is just amazing.

Spring Break Days 1 and 2 :: Driving & Princeton


We just got back from an absolutely amazing road trip out East. Our friends Jesse & Kim have visited us twice this year during their travels to the Midwest, and our entire family always has such an amazing time with them. For Spring Break, we decided to take a road trip and visit them this time! Besides our RV Adventure a couple years ago, we've really never spent a ton of time in the car on vacation. Honestly, it wasn't bad at all! Of course, I can say that since Brian decided to gain some bragging rights by driving the entire way himself (there and back). Trust me, I offered -- but he was a man on a mission. On day one, we left at 4:30 am and besides a few pit stops and lunch along the way, we drove straight through -- arriving in Princeton at 8:30 pm. The next morning, we got up and watched a couple of the kid's soccer games and toured Princeton University, where Jesse went to college. It's a pretty amazing campus. The day was insanely gorgeous too, which made it all even more perfect. That evening, Mitch and Ashley came over for dinner. We spent many a good time together in Chicago, but now he's back in Princeton too. We haven't see Mitch for years and it was so great seeing him, and meeting his family. Such a great day.