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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Valentine's Day Dinner at Cellar Bistro

So, dinner was good.   Not great, but good.  Even very good.  In case you can't make out what the menu reads, here's what we had:

She-Crab Soup (Very yummy, a HUGE bowl of a cream seafood bisque with chunks of crab)
Maple Glazed Bacon Pieces on Gorgonzola Polenta Squares (tasted pretty good, but was served at room temperature.  Ehh.)
Pineapple Carpaccio with a Kiwi Coulis and Julienne Basil (Ohhhh so good.  Paper thin slices of pineapple drizzled with a "dressing" of kiwi fruit.) 
Marinated Beef Sirloin in a Red Wine Reduction served with Scalloped Potatoes (Just mediocre.  A strange cut of not well seasoned beef, capers in the scalloped potatoes (?!) and the whole plate was just barely warm.  Oh well.  I sound like such a snob right now.)
Banana Cream Pie with Sugar Cookie Crust (Phenomenal.  I wiped my plate down with my finger when I thought no one was looking.)
Anyways, there you have it.  A lovely evening, all in all, out in our little town.  

Must say that I was glad we skipped the optional "wine, champagne and cordials" that were paired with each course as we saw everyone around us getting rapidly drunk as they attempted to finish their glasses before the next course arrived.  One glass of a lovely shiraz was fine. Saved is a bundle too, I'd recommend going that route if you choose to eat here for another prix fix menu. 


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

It's a great morning to be doing this...

...taking a 2 1/2 hour nap while the snow drifts down in fluffy, white flakes.

What a cherub.

Monday, February 25, 2008

New uses for an aspirator

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This kid just keeps getting rounder and rounder...I suppose that's the nature of babies, right?  

Monday, February 18, 2008

Possibly the Easiest Cookie Ever

I firmly believe there is an entire population of under-served, unacknowledged macaroon lovers out there.  This mind-blowingly good, incredibly easy recipe is for you.

Chocolate Pecan Macaroons
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
2 cups flaked coconut
1 cup chopped pecans (I buy the roasted, salt ones from Trader Joe's)
1 tsp. almond extract
salt to taste (start with 1/4 tsp and add more if you need to)

In a large, heavy saucepan combine chocolate and condensed milk.  Cook, stirring constantly,for a few minutes until the chocolate melts and mixture is thick, smooth and glossy. 
Remove from heat.  Stir in remaining ingredients.  Blend well.  Drop by teaspoonsful onto cookie sheets covered with parchment paper.  Bake in preheated 350 degree oven 10 minutes or until bottoms have just set.   

Sunday, February 17, 2008

To Be

"And then there is time in which to be, simply to be, that time in which God quietly tells us who we are and who he wants us to be.  It is then that God can take our emptiness and fill it up with what he wants and drain away the business with which we inevitably get involved in the dailiness of human living."

Madeleine L'Engle, Walking on Water

This strikes a chord within my heart in a very deep place.  For me, taking time to just be could entail sitting at the piano, plugging away at a Bach Fugue, just because I love it, not because I need to use it somewhere.  Or journaling on clean white pages with a "juicy" black pen, or sitting/walking somewhere outside by myself in quiet prayer or meditation.  

How often do I DO any of these things?  Not nearly enough.  And this is the true business of life, making time for God to change us into what HE wants us to be.  

I never made a New Year's Resolution, maybe this can be it.  

Taking time to be.  

Thursday, February 14, 2008

I'm on board

It's only taken me seven years to catch on, but I am IN.  On the American Idol train in a big way.

HOW can I now have a crush on Simon when I despised him only a year ago?  Where are these chills coming from, that race up and down my spine when someone gives a truly great performance?  I don't know, maybe I'm in a more vulnerable place now after having given birth, but I cannot look away.  I even found tears standing in my eyes at one point two nights ago.  It must be the baby hormones.

Brooke the nanny, with blonde hair, and Danny the 16 year old are my picks.

Keeping Your Clock Wound

There's a story of a small village where lived an old clockmaker and repairer.  When anything was wrong with any of the clocks or watches in the village, he was able to fix them, to get them working properly again.

When he died, leaving no children and no apprentice, there was no one left in the village who could fix clocks.  Soon various clocks and watches began to break down.  Those which continued to run often lost or gained time, so they were of little use.  A clock might strike midnight at three in the afternoon.  So, many of the villagers abandoned their timepieces.

One day, a renowned clockmaker and repairer came through the village, and the people crowded around him and begged him to fix their broken clocks and watches.  He spent many hours looking at all the faulty timepieces, and at last announced that he could repair only those whose owners had kept them wound, because they were the only ones which would be able to remember how to keep time.

So, we must daily keep things wound: that is, we must pray when prayer seems dry as dust, when we are physically tired, when our hearts are heavy, when our bodies are in pain.

We may not always be able to make our "clock" run correctly, but at least we can keep it wound so that is will not forget.

-Madeleine L'Engle, Walking on Water [Italics added]

Gummi addition

We are HUGE gummi fans in our house.  Haribo gummi bears, swedish fish of all colors, shapes and sizes (no prejudice in our house!), sour watermelon slices, cherry balls, green and white frogs...the list could continue.

I was introduced to a new gummi love by Amy back in November and thought I'd share it with you all. 

Meet Kookaburra.  He's from Australia and can be found (overpriced) downtown Chicago at Fox and Obel.  Oddly enough, Ace Hardware carries it too...hmm.  Suffice to say, it's a must-try if you enjoy the gummi side of life.  Great cherry flavor, excellent texture and a great addition to any gummi repertoire.

Happy Valentine's Day!


We continue to soldier on through winter, as you can see here.  Have a wonderful day and go eat some comfort food!  

We're having dinner tonight at a new little place in downtown Wheaton, The Cellar Bistro.  There's a five course menu involving she-crab soup, (I guess they only use the girls?), pineapple carpaccio salad, steak with scalloped potatoes and banana cream pie.  I may sneak my camera in to take pictures for the blog....only if it's REALLY good.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Yum-o

I really don't care for Rachel Ray.  She's a little too over-the-top for me, and anyone that needs to abbreviate extra virgin olive oil as "EVOO" and then proceed to explain what "EVOO" stands for EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. she says it...well, that's just enough to drive someone crazy.  Ahem. Back to my point.  My point is, sometimes you just need just one word to describe something.  

Another find at Trader Joe's, Dark Chocolate Frosted Cupcakes, in the freezer section.  Get them while they last.
Yum-O.

Meaningless Baby Videos...

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Feel free to pass on these videos if you are not A) a great grandparent in Florida right now, B) a proud grandparent who cannot get enough, or C) A precious friend in CA.  :)


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Here's Sam army crawling for one of the first times.  He now enjoys chasing his father's soccer ball around various rooms.  

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Winter Wonderland



Just some visuals of what we're experiencing here in Chicago...for those lucky loved ones who are in California and Florida.  Want to trade places?

Anyone?  Anyone?

February's Flower Arrangement

I thought I was being very clever, what with using purple for Lent.  

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Why I Love Chicago

It's winter in Chicago
And the gentle breezes blow,
70 miles per hour at 52 below!
Oh, how I love Chicago
When the snow's up to your butt.
You take a breath of winter air
And your nose is frozen shut.
Yes, the weather here is wonderful,
I guess I'll hang around.
I could never leave Chicago,
'Cause I'm frozen to the ground.

-With credit to my fabulous Aunt Anita

The only bonus to 10 inches of snow is that you can say you got your work-out in shoveling your driveway...for the third time today.  Oh my achin' back.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Did you know...

that if you feed your baby Roasted Garlic Hummus by the spoonful, he will expel the most noxious burps ever known to man?

Utterly hilarious.  

Baby Garlic Breath.

Heavy stuff, but good

I've been slowly working my way through Madeleine L'Engle's beautiful book, Walking on Water.  It's a collection of her reflections on faith and art and has been so richly thought-provoking in my own life.  

In the second chapter she addresses the issue of evil existing in the world.  I thought this quote crystalizes the concept well:

"The problem of pain, of war and the horror of war, of poverty and disease is always confronting us.  But a God who allows no pain, no grief, also allows no choice.  There is little unfairness in a colony of ants, but there is also little freedom.  We human beings have been given the terrible gift of free will, and this ability to make choices, to help write our own story, is what makes us human, even when we make the wrong choices, abusing our freedom and the freedom of others.
  The weary and war-torn world around us bears witness to the wrongness of many of our choices.  But lest I stumble into despair I remember...Jesus too, had to make choices, and in the eyes of the world some of his choices were not only contrary to acceptable behaviour, but were foolish in the extreme...when he turned his steps towards Jerusalem he was making a choice which led him to Calvary.
  It is the ability to choose which makes us human."


radio silence

The dead of winter taking its toll on me.  

I feel like the months of January and February are for reading, cooking, shoveling and just general survival.  Hence the lack of blog posts, I've been uninspired, ashamedly so.  Hibernating for spring, I suppose.  

Sam is now crawling and it has turned our home upside down.  He is obsessed with cords of all kinds and the space heaters that make our 120 year old home livable.  

I'm in trouble.