Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Ski patrol

Last weekend was open, so we made a semi-spur of the moment decision to head out of town for a family ski trip.

We're still total beginners, but I think Molly made a lot of progress this past trip! She knows how to get on and off the chair lift now and can handle herself on the easy hills.

We made one mistake by encouraging her to try a next level hill ... it was a bit too steep and crowded and she ended up barreling down the hill like a runaway tire. Finally, she face planted to stop herself and we were quickly met by a member of the ski patrol who escorted her down the rest of the way. Oh the drama!

But, big girl that she is, Molly recovered and kept going for another day, so there was no lasting damage :) Hopefully we can get out again at least one more time this winter!

O'Gradys on ice!

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Slime time

I left work a little early today and was home with Molly by 5:30. We made slime, played Yahtzee, and laughed like hyenas when Molly almost put her slime in the Yahtzee dice shaker. According to Molly, "It was the most fun night ever." She said she didn't want it to end. :)

It was a pretty great Wednesday if I do say so myself!

Homemade slime
There are a million recipes for slime online, but this is the one that we used, mainly because I had all of the ingredients on hand!

Slime recipe:
Mix ~1/2 bottle of Elmer's glue with 1/4 tsp baking soda
Add food coloring
Add contact solution a few drops at a time and mix until you get a stringy ball
Knead the slime in your hands, and continue to add contact solution, a few drops at a time, until it's no longer sticky

Enjoy!

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Sometimes, you gotta treat yo self!

For years, Jason and I have been wanting to go to Alinea ... it has won best restaurant in America a few different times and the head chef, Grant Achatz has a really interesting back story (he battled back from mouth cancer after being told at one point that he might lose his tongue ... imagine hearing that when your life revolves completely around food!). Anyway, when we found out Susie and Sean also wanted to go, it seemed like perfect timing to just make a reservation and do it. Merry Christmas to us :)

The experience is going to be a little hard to describe, but I'll do my best! The entire meal is choreographed, like it's a performance. At the beginning, we were seated at a communal table with 10-12 other people, toasting champagne and enjoying parsnip soup with caviar. Then, they whisked us back to the kitchen for a second course and a special cocktail mixed in a machine that was designed in the 1830s. I have to mention here, that the head chef, who is a total celebrity around Chicago, was just back there in the kitchen on the line, prepping food with everyone else. Very cool. 

Anyway, we came back from the kitchen to find that they had completely transformed the dining room -- even down to the lighting -- and we were now all at separate tables. The meal continued from there, with every bite more beautiful and delicious than the last. And there were all these little surprises. The centerpieces concealed different parts of the meal -- at one point, they pulled out a potato that had been roasting in coals and made a clam, potato and bacon chowder, right there at the table. The big finale was a dessert where the chefs all came out (Grant included) and basically just threw the components Jackson Pollock style on a big platter in the middle of the table.

It probably all sounds kind of pretentious, and parts of it were, but the restaurant also had a very warm and easy-going vibe. The servers were super friendly and totally got in our conversation when they overheard us talking about old movies (Willy Wonka and E.T.). They noticed that Susie and Jason were lefties and made sure to place everything in just the right spots. It was all so perfect ... a meal of a lifetime! Check out some of the highlights below:

Course 3: Wet snow | Asian pear, roe, shiso
Spear | Romaine, avocado, tosaka
Our first centerpiece

Part of course 4: Glow | Spiced orange
(There was some molecular gastronomy going on here -- those glowing orange balls burst open in your mouth and were filled with a yummy liquid)

Course 7: Smolder | Venison, juniper, huckleberry
(This was another one of the centerpieces. The juniper branches were set over smoking coals and smelled so lovely. On top, you can see those little bread balls, which were filled with venison. And then underneath was the potato I mentioned, getting all warm and smoky for the clam chowder.)

Course 12: Nostalgia | Campfire | Dark chocolate, birch, mashmallow

Course 12, continued: Balloon | Helium, green apple
(This part of the experience included sucking down helium, laughing like fools, and then eating the apple candy-flavored balloons, string and all)

Course 13: Paint | White chocolate, coconut, silver

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Cheers to 2018

We're getting back into the swing of things at home now, but before I move on and start writing about the new year, I have to take a minute to recap our very awesome end to 2017 in Mexico.

This trip could not have been timed better. Chicago got hit with a polar vortex the first week in Jan and temps dropped down well below zero. I almost felt a little guilty to be sitting by the pool while friends from Chicago were posting complaints about the weather on social media ... almost :)

It was our first visit to an all-inclusive resort and our experience was definitely a good one. We were there with our friends Justin and Kristie and their girls and it was all just so easy. The girls spent every minute they possibly could in the pool and had so much fun together. They all loved eating meals at the buffets, which again, was just so easy! And in the evenings, they were usually more than happy to hang out at the kids club to play games or watch movies so the adults could enjoy the nicer restaurants at the resort.

Our only bad move was leaving the resort one of the days to go to Tulum. 15 years ago when Jason and I went to Tulum as a couple, hardly anyone else was there. We rode our bikes to the ruins, strolled in, joined a tour, and had an awesome time. Today, it's still beautiful, but it's a total madhouse. As we were shuffling through crowds to get down to the beach, I heard a guy complaining that it was "Great Wall of China crowded." Our girls were tired, hungry, sandy, and had no interest in the ruins. Some day, I'm sure Molly will be interested in that kind of thing. But not at age 7. Lesson learned!

All in all though, we had an awesome week in Mexico. Especially being there with friends! We're already plotting and scheming ways to get back there again as soon as we can. Maybe to ring in the New Year in 2019? We'll see!

Molly, Chloe, and McCall ringing in the New Year

Jason and Molly at Tulum

My crew

Kayaking with Molly, Kristie, and McCall

Molly in her favorite spot

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Feeling the Christmas spirit

A recap of our December in pictures ... from Evanston to Florida:

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care

Second graders singing in their pajamas at the school holiday concert

Company holiday party at the Museum of Science and Industry

The Nutcracker with Molly and B (the same day Molly was struck down with the flu)

Grandma helping James get ready for bed

Molly in her new bikini - swimming with James in 70-degree weather
Molly was treated to an early Christmas present this year ... I forgot to pack her swim suit (doh!) and was forced into buying an overpriced Billabong bikini from the local surf shop. She has been asking (begging!) for a bikini for years, so this was just about the best thing that could have happened in her mind. Merry Christmas, Molls!

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Thanksgiving 2017

Ack! Our Christmas tree went up and I still haven't posted the best of the best from my favorite holiday!

This year, we had a pretty low-key Thanksgiving. My parents were in town, but Susie and Sean celebrated with Sean's parents, and Jason took advantage of the extra days off work to see Ireland with his brother Jon. But we still had plenty of good food and family time to make it a Thanksgiving to remember!

Molly made the cranberries (wearing hot pink lipstick) - recipe from my great-great grandmother :)

Grandpa reading to the boys

Annual Flying Turkey 5k photo

Snuggled up with popcorn and a movie for one of 2 Thanksgiving break sleepovers

Me and my girl at the Lincoln Park Zoo Lights
Jason and his brother at O'Grady castle in Ireland

Now that it's December, I'm in total Christmas mode (even though it's 50 degrees here and I'm contemplating a run outside). Quote of the day comes from Jason this morning:

"Putting on some holiday music ... what do you guys want to listen to? Bing Crosby or Wham!?"

Note: we chose Wham!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

My favorite girl

Every night, and probably a few other times throughout the day, I tell Molly she's my favorite girl. It's true. She is! Tonight, we snuggled up on the couch and watched Project Runway together and I just felt so dang happy.
Two peas in a pod
And then, Google assistant made me a totally random video with snippets from my phone and I couldn't stop watching it. It manages to capture Molly's spirit without really making much sense. Ha! Enjoy: