Tuesday, July 5, 2016

More Than Enough

It's been a weekend chock full of fun.

Maybe I'm exaggerating. It wasn't chock full. Maybe just three quarters full. There were some disappointments mixed in.

What did not disappoint were the people at the Ravinia music festival.

Laura had gotten me tickets to see the Indigo Girls AND Mary Chapin Carpenter for my birthday. We got there with our picnic of pizza and salad and our Bota box of wine like a bunch of hillbillies. When we got there, we found people enjoying fancy picnics on tiny tables, with real bottles of wine and wine glasses made out of glass. They were enjoying appetizers of brie, olives, and crusty bread. They were so civilized, with their tablecloths on their tiny, adorable tables. And here we were, schmucks on our picnic blanket, using plastic sporks to eat our salad.

I'd forgotten how much I love Mary Chapin Carpenter. She rocked it.

If you know me, you know how much I adore the Indigo Girls. They were the last act of the evening. Sadly, we had to leave early while they were playing, in order to catch our shuttle back to the hotel. What kind of goddamn shuttle picks up concert goers before the concert is over? Disappointment, party of four. Still, it was nice to share the space with them.
Just look at that dimple. 

We visited Lurie Gardens. Amazing.

Cyd the Brave made it to the top of the rock climbing wall. It took her a few tries, but she persevered. 

We usually visit Chicago in the dead of winter, so it was nice to be able to linger at Millennium Park
and get a close look at The Bean, without freezing to death.

We were going to have dinner at a cozy fondue place in the heart of Chicago, but when I called to make reservations, they said kids 10-years-old and under weren't allowed, for safety reasons. 

Whatevs. It's probably all for the best. Cyd probably would have set the damn place on fire. No one got hurt. No one got delicious fondue. 

So we went to Navy Pier. 


Back home, weeding the pumpkin patch.

Mabel is keeping her babies close. All three seek refuge under their mother, but they really want to explore.
This one is Cyd's. She named her/him Rosie.
We ended the weekend with a little barbecue, because it's the FOURTH OF JULY. 

The disappointments of the weekend are small compared to what we did, what we have, what we look forward to. There will be other concerts and a lot more fondue.

We crammed a giant fistful of life in a few precious days.

The kitchen is a wreck, there are wet swimsuits covering the bathroom floor, and I need to muster up the energy to make the kids' lunches for tomorrow. It's all enough.

Sometimes, it's more.

Peace out.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Meet the Gochstine Farm Birds

Every home should have a bird watching corner. 

Because I'm kind of a lunatic, I've been naming the birds that visit our backyard feeder. They all have very colorful backgrounds. 
His name is Oscar. He thinks he's God's gifts to women because of his super cool haircut. He thinks all the bird songs are about him.

This is Woody. He keeps to himself and doesn't make friends easily.

Her name is Josephine. She's addicted to sunflower seeds. She's been in and out of rehab a few times but she's come to the conclusion that she really cannot live without the seed. 

Betty used to live in Florida. She barely tolerates these imported oranges, but anything's better than the birdseed her friends gobble up like commoners.

And finally, this is Elton. He keeps his nest immaculate, has great fashion sense, and could listen to Barbra Streisand day and night.

Peace out.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Joie de Vivre, Personified

This Christmas, I went back to my roots. 

Some of my cousins from France were vacationing in the U.S., so we all gathered for a holiday family reunion. They are such a lovely bunch of people. Inside and out, and in between. I mean it. Every single one of them. And they enjoy the hell out of life. They personify a joie de vivre that is infectious. 

While the French, in general, have a passion for food, we Gochtovtts are epicureans to the very core of our souls. Our lives revolve around it. Our lives depend on good cheese and crusty bread. And wine. 

The men spent a lot of their time cooking delicious food. 

Holy Mother of Cheesus.
Speaking of cheese. I'm going to share with you this secret recipe I recently learned from these fine people.

Here are the ingredients:

Brie and Marscapone

Olive tapenade and black truffles.
My cousins used a truffle tapenade, but I couldn't find it in Fort Wayne.
So I improvised and used whole truffles and olive tapenade.
I happened to have truffle salt, which I'd received as a gift last Christmas, from a friend who really gets me.
It was perfect to season the marscapone cheese mixture.
Once you have the ingredients, it's easy:

1. Mix the marscapone with two to three tablespoons of olive tapenade and two very finely chopped truffles.
2. Add truffle salt (optional).
3. Cut the brie length-wise and spread the marscapone mixture in the middle.
4. Voila!

It's the best damn cheese you'll ever taste. I promise. (Serve it at room temperature, or I will cut you.)
And if you have to choose between paying your electric bill or buying a jar of whole truffles at The Fresh Market, choose the truffles. You won't regret it. It tastes great in the dark.

Live your life.

The U.S. cousins.

That's a hell of a lot of Gochtovtts.

I love this moment.


Yo, what's happening here?
We went on a Christmas day hike.

Cyd told us today that her wish didn't come true, even though she blew out all the candles.
She wished it would rain cats and dogs. Seriously. 
Cyd, the birthday kid.

Look at all those French people on a bridge. 

This is the adult table. It took a long time to serve everyone. 
I was going to take a picture of everyone sitting at that giant table, but by the time we sat down for dinner, I had lost my camera. In other words, I was drunk.

Back in Indiana, I got to hold my newest American nephew. My ovaries cried with joy and love. 
After the long 12 hour drive back to Indiana, we were all tired. The kids were tucked in but Cyd kept getting out of bed. After the third time of getting her back to bed, I gave in and layed down next to her. She said, "Thanks. This is what I needed."

She laid her head on my shoulder and I asked her if she needed a pillow so she could be more comfortable. She said, "No. Your bones are fluffy.  Your bones are made of cotton." My little Cyda is a poet. A POET.

The moral of this story is we should strive to enjoy the moments that make up our beautiful life. Prepare food with love. Be kind to people. Splurge. For the love of all that is good in the world, splurge when you can. You almost always can.

New Year's Day smoked salmon eggs benedict. 

Peace out.