lately…

It’s been cold, snowy and icy in Chicago (surprise??)… we have been staying in as much as possible, venturing out only for ballet class and trips to the 711 for movies and snacks.  The sidewalks are either really slushy or super icy. No good.
We did make a little car-trip though to the south side of Chicago last weekend, and that was really nice.  Such a beautiful part of the city, it feels so different than the North Side.  Elegant old mansions, wide tree lined streets, the gorgeous University of Chicago campus, the South Shore cultural center…. it feels like a different era that was frozen in time.  In reality, it was one of the few sections of Chicago that escaped the Great Chicago Fire, so parts of it are really old. And gorgeous.
fixer upper on the next street over from Obama's Kenwood home. I'll  buy it.
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Oh yeah…. Obama’s family home (mansion) is in the Kenwood neighborhood, just north of Hyde Park.  We might have stalked a little…. and Noah might have been nervous that the Secret Service was going to bust us. We stayed in our car though…. followed the rules. How boring!!!

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We visited the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago.   This is small but sweet (and free!) art museum.  They had an interesting exhibit on Buddha going on, and a great little treasure hunt activity for Maggie to do.  She was so proud of herself when she was able to find an old Oriental vase all by herself.

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sculpture garden exlporer

I definitely want to go back to the South Side when the weather gets nicer… there are some gorgeous parks and beaches in the area.  Until then… we’ll be inside keeping warm.
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Happy New Year!

Maggie has been using my old camera to express herself.  These are some of her self portraits she took towards the end of the year.  There were a lot more…. hilarious stuff.  She also loves taking pictures around the house. It’s so neat seeing things from her point of view.
2010 was such a big year… looking forward to what 2011 will bring.  Methinks it will be great.
May your troubles be less,
And your blessing be more.
And nothing but happiness,
Come through your door.

celebration & no-bake chocolate ganache tarte

celebrations
Happy Birthday Daddy!
turtle ganache tart

celebrations are fun. we celebrated noah’s birthday last night with christmas leftovers turned into a salad (bacon, ham, bleu cheese & pecan) and a turtle tart–dark chocolate ganache on an almond-praline crust.  A nice quiet birthday in after all the running around for christmas was just what noah wanted… and some time to play grand theft auto on his new toy :)
this chocolate ganache no-bake tart was super easy to make. you need 3 bars of dark chocolate, half a quart of heavy whipping cream, one cup of praline pecans or spiced nuts (reserved some for topping), 1/2 a cup of sliced almonds, 3/4 stick of butter (melted) and caramel sauce for the topping.
  • in a double boiler (with about 2 inches of water at a low boil in the bottom part), pour in the heavy cream. chop up the chocolate and stir til its melted. you can add a bit more cream if it starts to get too thick.  when combined, remove from heat. this is your ganache. let it cool slightly.
  • next, in a food processor combine the nuts and melted butter until finely ground and slightly doughy.  press in to the bottom of a tart pan. a small spring form tart pan would be ideal, but I used a ceramic one and it worked as well.
  • time to pour the ganache on the tart crust, smooth it out and lick the pot clean. top with caramel sauce and some leftover pralines. chill in the fridge or freezer, it will set to the texture of a truffle. i mean, basically, we are making a giant flat truffle here.  what could be better? the birthday boy approved.
make a wish

keeping cozy

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The name of the game? Keep warm and stay sane!   Scraps of recycled felt from last years christmas presents (hot water bottle cozies, coffee mug sleeves, etc.) are being turned into new household decor.  Our old ikea footstool was really starting show it’s age.  I pieced together a free form patchwork sweater cover, and now it looks mighty spiffy.
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after
My craftsmanship for projects has always been somewhat…. rustic. (just ask my high school art teacher). But hey, it still looks better than the before:
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and most importantly, Maggie and her little friends approve.

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Natten går tunga fjät – Night Walks with a Heavy Step.

santa lucia
Night walks with a heavy step
Round yard and hearth,
As the sun departs from earth,
Shadows are brooding.
There in our dark house,
Walking with lit candles,
Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia!

Night walks grand, yet silent,
Now hear its gentle wings,
In every room so hushed,
Whispering like wings.
Look, at our threshold stands,
White-clad with light in her hair,
Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia!
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Darkness shall take flight soon,
From earth’s valleys.
So she speaks a
Wonderful Word to us:
A new day will rise again
From the rosy sky…
Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia!

Last night, we officially ushered in the winter season with a little Santa Lucia festival in our living room.  Maggie sang Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star & the ABC’s.  I told her about the winter solstice (Dec. 13th was the old date of the winter solstice in the Julian calendar) and how Santa Lucia represents light and warmth in the cold, dark winter.  There might have been a little singing in Swedish, and there definitely was some tasty cookies.  It is so neat to see a special tradition I grew up with bringing so much joy to my little own little one.



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frosty

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Maggie has been talking, dreaming, and scheming about all things frosty and snowy lately.  It’s a good thing we live in a city where snow is a guarantee (though it does make it a pain to walk to dance class at 5pm– so dark! so cold! so icy!).  Even with a just tiny apartment yard in an alley, a lot of fun can be had.  Maggie saw these styrofoam balls at the dollar store and insisted we make a SnowFamily out of them.  They live in a snow house, complete with a christmas tree and an iceplace  to keep them cold if it starts to get too warm outside :)

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But a little styrofoam SnowFamily was not going to cut it for this girl. Luckily, there was plenty of snow on the ground today. So with Daddy’s help, it was time to make the real deal.

time to make a snowman!!IMG_1989IMG_1992*

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She was a little disappointed when he didn’t come to life when she put the hat on him, so we made up for it my dancing around him and singing Frosty the Snowman, approximately the lyrics (” Frosty the snowman was a happy, uhh, la la la, with a corn cob pipe and a carrot? nose, and two eyes made out of pennies!! “) Maggie loves Frosty. They’ve even had a tea party. :)