Sunday, May 10, 2015

For My Mother

Happy Mother's Day, Mom.

I could make this really sappy and say how you've taught me to love, persevere, enjoy life, work hard and be the best person I can be, but a picture tells a thousand words. I'll let the pictures do the talking today.

You're willing to take calculated risks.
You love animals,
 and they love you.
You know how to rip loose and have fun.
You also can kick back and relax.
You put the cool in Grandma,
and also the strangulating fun.
You stand by your man, through the good and the bad.
You appreciate nature and relish getting lost in it.
You give helpful, unsolicited advice.
You adore the love of my life and defend him like he's your own.
You excel at the art of multitasking.
You listen without judgement like a best friend.
You party like a rock star.
You party like a hillbilly.
You party like a rockstar hillbilly in the dead of winter.
You taught me the art of the double fister...
...the multi-colored double fister...
 ...how to drain the bottle...
...and to stop when the tequila's gone. 
You never leave home without a swath of lipstick.
You challenge everyone around you,
 and constantly remind me that above all else on this earth, family matters most.
 Thank you, Mom. Just for being you.
The life lessons you continue to teach me are invaluable.
I love you. Happy Mother's Day.

XOXO,
Jen



Saturday, May 2, 2015

Prom

Whew. We made it through our first prom. I've got some advice for my friends who have girls younger than eleventh grade. 
Start saving money yesterday. And tell your daughter to get a job today. She'll need it to help pay for the dress.
And the hair appointment, makeup, shoes, mani/pedi, jewelry, purse and day after prom festivities.
Not to mention the actual ticket to the event, which is a bargain compared to the rest. Miller said he'd be Kahley's date, but sadly he didn't make it past the patio. He decided to stay home and take a nap instead.
Plainfield East rented out an entire Metra train. The train left the station at 6:15; kids had to be there for check-in at 5:30. The prom ticket covered the transportation downtown Chicago, dinner and the dance in the Grand Ballroom at Union Station.
Chartering of an entire train was a first for any high school in the area, and WGN deemed it a worthy bit for the evening news. Check out the story and video here.

While it was all cool in theory, it proved a logistic nightmare for the girl who scheduled her hair appointment in February. Yes - that's THREE MONTHS before the event. If you have a girl, schedule that sucker on the day the prom date is announced. And make the hair appointment for 12:30 or any time earlier in the day. I promise it will save you mounds of stress and time crunching. And when the stylist is 1/2 hour late getting started? Look around, and get creative. Ask if someone else can get started on the curling of the hair. Request the makeup artist to do the impossible - see if she can squeeze in one more girl. Miracles can happen.
One last piece of critical advice: put the blasted SD card in the camera if you decide to take pictures at the salon. Because no SD card?
No salon photos. Then...most importantly, check the camera battery. Because no camera battery?
No big group pictures by the lake. No back of the dress photos. No cool hair pics. But you're off the hook, can go home, and relax that your work is done and she's off to funland.

For all the prom mamas who are going through this today or next weekend, I feel your pain and encourage you to pick out an apéritif now so it's ready and waiting for you when she trots off to the dance. It'll be one of the best cocktails of your life.

XOXO,
Jen



Friday, May 1, 2015

Apéritif Friday: Grapefruit Margarita and Mango Salsa

Last Friday proved a major, not-so-enlightening fact to me. I lack in preparation and organizational skills, leading to epic levels of procrastination, and I have some fabulous friends who could care less.

A few days earlier I invited some girlfriends over. They just so happen to have teenaged daughters themselves, so the younger girls made plans to go get sushi together.
The slightly older girls planned to stay in, sip yummy apéritifs, snack on some tasty appetizers, allow Mr. Musky to grill steak for us, and eat chocolate from France and nibble on unbelievable homemade shortbread with berries in a lemony custardy bath. Desserts compliments of these two gems.
The only thing missing? A full body massage. A facial. Manis and Pedis.

But I operate a home, not a spa. Even without the treatments, we were set for a fantastic night.

Last week I posted the Elderflower Collins, and my friend Carrie immediately jumped on it, saying that's something she'd love. I already knew this, as she was on my mind the entire time I wrote that post. She offered to bring Prosecco over so I could make it.

In my overachieving, unrealistic mind I intended the evening to be a bit of an apéritif tasting party since I had two willing guinea pigs, three if you count Mr. Musky, and four if I got to play. I envisioned a perfectly laid table, complete with intriguing cocktails lying in wait with savory and sweet appetizers calling out like sirens to my friends.

Instead, they walked into a kitchen that looked like a bomb went off and a haggard, middle-aged woman with not an ounce of her shit together sweating at the brow, madly squeezing the juice out of dry limes.

Slightly stressed when my friends showed up on time, I told myself to let it go and make them a drink. Because as soon as anyone has a drink in hand they tend to forget about the bad and remember only the good. It's why I love alcohol. In addition to the fact that it's a fabulous way to mellow the limbs.

I ran downstairs to get the St. Germain, and to my horror, the bottle was nearly empty. How annoying - I was at the liquor store THAT AFTERNOON! And had I known, Carrie could have brought her own bottle and we would have been just fine. Now in addition to a rat nest kitchen, unprepared food and cocktail tasting delay, I lacked a key ingredient for THE drink they wanted to sample.

I was bummed that I couldn't serve my friends the cocktail as it was intended. I had to sub a little cucumber liqueur, and for second drink I had to completely swap out the elderflower with the cucumber, and lemon juice for the lime. In my opinion, it kinda sucked. It tasted too sweet and contained the incorrect flavor profile to go with Prosecco and Aperol.

But Carrie didn't complain. Teri was still on her first, then switched to wine. That's what I love about good friends. In the end it's the time we spend together, giggling and gabbing and catching up that matters. Not the specifics in the glass. We even planned a golf outing next week, and guess who our coach is?

Mr. Musky himself. I suspect there'll be a story or two on that adventure. If we all survive.

Speaking of my lovely husband, his steak perfectly shone as the main entree for the night and he graciously poured us wine after the Elderflower debacle. Earlier in the evening he reached for this baby.
I couldn't believe my eyes when he picked up the Grapefruit Margarita and sipped it over his Sapphire. He deemed it worthy. Success!

All the snaps I took of this citrusy, refreshing beverage last Friday looked like I downed a bucketful o' margaritas and tried to dance a circle while snapping pics. They were ALL blurry. More proof that at this point in the game, I need to focus one primary task. And when friends are around, the camera needs to take a nap. In the never ending quest for delicious cocktails, I took the pretty picture above this morning, and sipped the margarita as an experiment to see if the apéritif still tastes good after sitting in the refrigerator for a week. The verdict? It's pure deliciousness that could rival the Bloody Mary or Mimosa on the brunch table. Maybe Yo Mama would like this next Sunday to celebrate her special day. Whip a batch up today!

Because I'm such an airhead, I didn't take a pic of the Mango Salsa, but I'll include the recipe at the end of this post because everyone from teenagers to hip mothers to sexy grillmasters agreed that it was tasty. The sweet and slightly spicy work great together, and when you throw in a salty, crunchy tortilla chip? All is right with the world. Mango Salsa would also be great on grilled fish or chicken.

Another reason I love these girls: the gags. Mr. Musky found this in our upstairs bar before the guilty party even left.
Busted! That brings her number of pranks to three. Blackhawk's Party favor left in my basement bathroom in 2013:
And girls weekend present on the console of my car in 2011.
I'm plotting, because she's hosting us next.

Happy Friday. I hope yours includes some goofy, pranky friends - they make life sweeter, keep you on your toes and are quick to forgive when you fail miserably.

Mango Salsa
1 mango, peeled and diced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeds and membranes removed, diced
1 lime, juiced
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

Combine all ingredients in a serving dish and combine. Let the flavors meld for an hour before serving with tortilla chips.

Grapefruit Margarita
1 cup grapefruit juice
1 cup lime juice
1/2 cup Cointreau
1/2 cup Tequila

Combine the ingredients in a lidded jar and shake to combine. Strain the beverage into another jar to remove the pulp from the juices. Serve straight up, over ice or with a salted rim. Keeps well in the refrigerator for at least a week, if not longer.

XOXO,
Jen