Wednesday, January 28, 2009

chicago [day 3] & [day 4] :pt. 2:

Grandma Wirth is a tough lady. She raised seven kids, held down a farm (cattle, corn, beans, you name it), battled pesty 'coons, traveled lots and lots, smoked a cigar, and fed several trillion cats. She can operate machinery better than me, and way better than you. She can also spit farther than any of us. She's a thoughtful host and my pop gives her credit to the best burger he'd ever had on one of his first visits to the farm. It kept him coming back for years (this story could be another blog entry itself). She always treated her (many many) grandchildren like adults and she never let us get away with nonsense. She has been known to be stern, however she is always just. She has rock solid faith and lives her life Bibically. A lot of life lessons were learned under Grandma and Grandpa's roof. My memories of growing up around the Wirths are awesome. I wish I could capture some of these feelings towards this place through a lens, but I'm just not that good yet.

Look out, she's about to learn you something.

Grandma has had arthritis for as long as I can remember.....but she can still play piano better than you. She'd played at church every week until a year or so back.

Cousin Arielle's baby Cayden. Grandma's been looking after this little guy for a few months while Arielle is working. Big time smiler. Big time observer. As soon as he learns to walk, he's probably going to steal your job.

This is Grandpa's arrowhead collection. He found all of these while working his farm, including the stone cross. All the arrowheads are in a large frame on the wall and I've studied it for years. I cannot get enough of it. They also have a super old piano and an awesome cane collection which have both fascinated me since I was a kid. I, however, failed to get pictures of them.

I miss my Grandpa. I think that everyone who knew him does. He was as wise as he was witty and as warm as he was plump. Grandma and him were on the same page and were a great couple. They raised a smart, honorable, fun bunch. I think Grandma misses Grandpa Joe more than anyone, but in his absence I feel like she's really lived. She's traveled with her sisters, she traveled on her own, she gives her time and money to people who really need it, enjoys screwdrivers and Kahlua, and she doesn't worry about petty things. I look up to, respect, and appreciate Grandma and had a good time just being able to be with her for a few days. It's a real privilege to be able enjoy and share my family with Sara.

That's it for Chicago this time. I can't wait to go back.
Thanks to brother Corey for doing all the driving and dealing with newlyweds. Anyone wanting to throw free film gear and software his way earns cool points.....

Friday, January 23, 2009

chicago [day 3] & [day 4] :pt. 1:

We spent day 3 and day 4 in Hinckley with Grandma Wirth and had so much fun driving around, seeing a few places we grew up and playing in the snow, it deserves it's own post.

Hinckley is a small farm town one town over from where my mother grew up and where my family lived in the early stages. I have nothing but awesome memories from this area and I'll probably share a few over time. For now, enjoy some of these photos:

[grandma's windbreak]

[grandpa's barn]

[grandpa's bins]

[one of our favorites]

more here.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

chicago [day 2]

Grandpa Giessen

We made it to the Giessen's Saturday night. Grandpa Giessen was a little older and much wittier than I remember. Grandma Giessen was shorter than I remember and showed Sara everything in the house, explaining every detail of every decoration (including the Christmas decorations which they had yet to take down). Sara is an incredibly patient wife.

We had brunch Sunday morning with a few other family members. It was a very loud kitchen. Sara and I retreated to quieter places while brother Corey held down the talkative folks.

Here are some pics from the festivities and more on Flickr:

The Giessens

Grandma Giessen

What is that??

re-furb : wall gallery

Living Room Wall Decoration

I created this little gallery of 24 candid photos from our wedding. They bring a smile to my face every time I look at them. We'll put more formal photos up elsewhere, but for the living room I wanted something really fun. The decorative wood pieces are a find from our honeymoon -we brought them home from KC's uncle's furniture restoration shop in Riga, Latvia.

chicago [day 1]


We arrived in Chicago on Friday evening to loads of snow and chilly weather. We found a cozy diner and had some tasty treats at Huck Finn's (now added to the list of food joints I must hit while in Chicago). 24 hours of fun every day and ice cream on your donut. All good in my book.

Cousin Nick
We met my cousin Nick for breakfast. I like this guy - he's got a wicked mustache. My family calls him Waldo because they can never find him, but we managed to meet up with him after he had a quick visit to the police station the night before. In my humble opinion, not all stop signs are mandatory anyway. He whipped up some whole wheat pancakes and we smothered them in jam, blackberries, and honey. Great breakfast, great company, good times.



After breakfast we loaded up and headed to The Field Museum for some learnin'.

Sara - Soldier Field

Sue - The Field Museum

Diorama - The Field Museum
[diorama or herd of corn dogs? ....]

We then preceded to grab a deep dish pizza at Lou Malnati's (which was yummy) and then drove around the city a bit before heading to the Giessen's. I need to spend more time in this city. A few hours is hardly enough to get the full picture.

Lou Malnati's

Chicago snow

View a bunch more pics on our Flickr.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

chicago snow & shenanigans

KC, Corey and I are in snowy Chicago this weekend. (OMG I've never
seen this much snow!) Tonight we're headed to Grandma and Grandpa
Giessen's in Mokena, but today we've spent the day being tourists.
Pictures from last night, breakfast this morning with Cousin Nick, the
Field Museum to come later. For now, it's Chicago-style pizza time!

Oh and it's not that cold. Really- snow (and the fact that it's temporary) makes it all worth it.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

budget Wrapping

Free wrapping paper compliments of Super H Mart. Sara has good ideas.

Monday, January 12, 2009

recipe sunday no. 4 | lunch for friends

This Sunday we had Lauren & Zac over for lunch: 3 very successful new recipes, one oldie-but-goodie, and one epic fail (which we didn't serve). I should also mention that this was the first meal that KC & I were really able to cook together in our kitchen. The square-footage of the space is ridiculously small and the layout is barely conducive for one person. Cooking together is usually frustrating, but with some planning and prep work this weekend we made it happen.

Okay, it's official. We're Whole Foods junkies. I love having a full, green fridge. We're still fans of Aldi, but nothing beats the freshness and experience of Whole Foods.

First up, Crispy Beer Flatbread. This was really good. We cooked it on our pizza stone and pre-sliced it before cooking so they baked into the right size.

Next, Tuscan Soup. KC thought the dish would be a man-dish because it's pretty meaty, but L & I enjoyed it too. The bacon garnish adds a lot. We made the chicken stock from scratch, which was totally worth the extra effort. 

For dessert, individual Molten Chocolate Cakes with vanilla bean ice cream.

We also had KC's killer bread, always a hit. And the no-go-dish was Herbed Quinoa Salad. I've had quinoa many times and love it, but mine turned out really mushy. I'm not sure if I cooked it too long, or not enough. 4 out of 5 isn't bad though.

Thursday, January 8, 2009


That's a silly name. Too silly for me Mr. Mekong. DENIED!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

recipe sunday no. 3 | chicken scallopine with saffron cream sauce

Okay, well the next post from KC will not be entirely food related, as it's Recipe Sunday, and my turn!
This Sunday I chose 2 recipes from my new Giada's Kitchen cookbook, a Christmas present from Mama G:

Chicken Scallopine with Saffron Cream Sauce
Broiled Zucchini and Potatoes with Parmesan Crust

Both winners, hooray! (I made a pasta dish from the same book earlier this week that was an epic fail, so I was hoping these would be drastically better.)

I was a little hesitant on the saffron, a) because I had never tasted it, much less cooked with it, and b) because it was almost $15 for a tiny jar (yipe!). KC & I stood in the spice aisle at Kroger for a few minutes debating: picking it up, putting it down. Finally we decided to go for it. The recipe only calls for a few threads and it's supposed to keep for a good while as long as it's sealed tightly. I'm really glad we took the risk because it was really fantastic flavor, and we'll definitely be using saffron again.

Chicken Scallopine with Saffron Cream Sauce

Broiled Zucchini and Potatoes with Parmesan Crust

Showing off  my sweet new knife skills (thanks Chef Matarese) in my sweet new apron (thanks Mama H).

Oh, and in case you've ever wondered, cooking classes through Whole Foods are the jam. Salud!