Aunty Gail’s 70th Birthday Party

Siblings: Uncle Sonny, Uncle Neil, Aunty Gail, Aunty Laura, Uncle BB

Aunty Gail blowing out her candles. Someone was nice and only put 7 on the cake!

Front: Tyler, Amanda, Aly, Aunty Karolyn, Aunty Gail, Aunty Laura, Aunty Peggy. Back: Uncle BB, Aunty Glenna, Brad, Uncle Sonny, Doug, Mitch, Naoko, Tommy, Kenji, Chris, Dallas, Jeff, Eddy, Rachelle, Heather, Uncle Neil

On the way home from the lake house on Sunday we swung by Aunty Gail’s 70th birthday party at Doug and Naoko’s house. It was a surprise, but we missed the surprise part. We arrived just in time to eat, actually! Everyone wanted to hear about our trip to Japan and we got a chance to thank Naoko in person for her Jiro hookups!

Bridal Shower With Dallas’s Family

Rachelle, Miko, Naoko (plus baby!)

Back: Caroline, Rachelle, Miko, Naoko, Cory. Front: Krystyn, Winnie

See Duff butting in on the left side?

Dallas’s Cousins & Cousin’s Wives. Back: Caroline, Rachelle, Miko, Naoko, Cory. Front: Duff, Heather, Krystyn, Winnie.

Mom & Me

Aunty Laura, Aunty Glenna, Aunty Gail

Aunty Karolyn, Aunty Peggie, Aunty Laura, Aunty Glenna, Aunty Gail

The Sunday after Christmas Dallas’s family threw me a bridal shower. Aunty Laura hosted at her house, along with daughter and daughters-in-law, Cory, Caroline, and Krystyn. Aunty Laura’s son Danny, who cooks at Spring and Green Zebra, cooked for all of us ladies. A lot of Dallas’s family had flown in for Christmas (they do every other year), so a lot of them were able to attend the shower. Aunty Laura was also nice enough to invite my mom and she was able to make it. All-in-all there were about a dozen of Dallas’s aunties and cousins and cousin’s wives.

Shower Gifts

Opening up my new teapot.

Aunty Laura

Yay! Food Processor!

Aunty Glenna, Cory, Aunty Gail, Aunty Laura, Mom

Opening the big gifts.

Aunty Gail

Aunty Laura, Mom, Karolyn, Krystyn, Winnie, Peggie, Caroline

New Luggage

So many great gifts!

Dallas’s family generously gifted us with a new set of Tumi luggage, a food processor and a tea pot. I was so excited about all of these. The luggage will, of course, be great for our upcoming trip to Hawaii and for all of the other travel that we do. This looks like great luggage and I’m sure we’ll have it for years to come. I’m excited to get rid of our mish mash, ramshackle luggage that we’ve been using for so long. As for the food processor, I’ve always wanted one and now we have one. This will for sure come in handy in our kitchen adventures. And the tea pot.. it’s just so pretty. We don’t drink a ton of tea, but there are other uses for tea pots and I’ve always wanted one of my own. Also, before the shower my parents gave Dallas and I a new printer. It’s wireless and I set it up last night. Love it! Thank you, everyone, for the fabulous gifts!

Danny working in the kitchen.

Danny plating the food.

There were dessert trays on the table. We ate dessert between courses! This was my sweet tooth party, after all!

Tuna Tartare, chives, cashews, scallions, ginger/lemongrass cream

Danny explaining the next course.

Cory made these brownies and lemon bars. Lemon is a palate cleanser, right?

Danny came out of the kitchen to explain each course to us.

Kabocha squash soup, apple, blue cheese foam

Cory also made these cream puffs and cookies.

Pork belly, parsnip/apple puree, smoked balsamic reduction, hard cooked egg, smoked potato puree, truffle aioli

Naoko’s cheesecake with berry sauce.

While all of the ladies were visiting and opening gifts in the living room, Danny was working away in the kitchen. He prepared a 3-course lunch for us that was probably one of the fanciest meals I’ve eaten at someone’s house!

For the first course we had tuna tartare with chives, cashews, scallions and a ginger and lemongrass cream. This was delicious. I loved how the cashews gave some crunch to the tartare. I don’t think I’ve ever had nuts in tartare before. For the second course we had Kabocha squash (Japanese winter squash) soup with blue cheese foam and apple batons. This was so rich and delicious. The blue cheese foam was perfect and the apples lent a crunch and sweetness. For the final course we had pork belly with parsnip and apple puree, a smoked balsamic reduction, and a hard cooked egg filled with smoked potato puree and truffle aioli. This looked so pretty on the plate and, of course, tasted just as good. I don’t know how pork belly is prepared or cooked, but it was great. and I love anything with truffle… especially aioli, a.k.a mayonnaise!

If Danny is the chef of the family, Naoko is the baker, for sure! For dessert she made a cheesecake with berry sauce that was divine. I thought I was too full to eat a slice but it was so light, not heavy at all, so delicious.

Thanks to everyone for pulling together and throwing the fabulous party for me. I should also mention that Cory made the dessert trays we had on the table and that she and Caroline and Krystyn served as the waitresses for lunch. Thanks to Aunty Laura for hosting at her house and for coordinating everything. And thanks to Danny and Naoko for cooking and baking such a great lunch. Thanks to Heather who took most of these photos. And to everyone for the awesome gifts!

Danny & Caroline’s Wedding

On Saturday Danny & Caroline got married at Cheney Mansion in Oak Park. We left our house with plenty of time to make the 18 minute drive to Oak Park, but didn’t realize the Puerto Rican parade was on Saturday. The parade itself is downtown, but in all of the communities with large Puerto Rican populations… ours and the neighborhoods surrounding ours… it’s mayhem! People just run around, bike around, drive around waving flags and celebrating. I’m sure it’s a good time, but we had to be somewhere. There were tons of road blocks and redirects and it took us more like 45 minutes to an hour to get out to Oak Park. I felt like we were in that Seinfeld episode.

Finally we arrived. The ceremony was just beginning. Attendants were walking down “the aisle.” Caroline was about to take her stroll down so we got to see her “backstage.” After she made her entrance we were allowed to make our way across the lawn and watch the ceremony. Cheney Mansion has such beautiful grounds. And the weather was so nice too. The day before we had tornado-like storms. Saturday’s weather called for it to be sunny and in the 90s. A bit too hot, but actually by 5:30 p.m. it was perfect.

Danny & Caroline’s Wedding Ceremony

The Bride and Groom Kissing

All done!

I couldn’t hear everything that was said during the ceremony because we were so far in the back, having arrived late. It seemed pretty traditional. I saw parents stand up at different points. It was quick, though. 15 minutes? 20 minutes? Afterwards Danny and Caroline greeted everyone in a receiving line.

Danny & Caroline greeting everyone

We had cocktails outside for an hour or so. Very nice. Like I said, the weather was perfect and the gardens at the mansion were gorgeous. The wedding was odd in that Dallas’s family was there, but then I’d turn and a lot of our friends were there too. I wasn’t used to seeing these people all in the same place.

Ed, Jen, Chad, Kristin

Jen & Chad

Cory (bridesmaid) & Miko

Aunty Glenna & Uncle BB

Dallas’s parents Kathy & George

George, Kathy, Rachelle, Dallas

Dallas, Uncle Neil, Scotty (Danny’s brother and Best Man)

Caroline & Danny

Rachelle & Dallas

Loden & Trent

After a while, Caroline’s dad announced that it was time to come inside the mansion for dinner.

Caroline’s dad announcing dinner

Wedding Program

It was expected, but I always like it when my name is spelled right.

Wedding Placecards

And I loved these poppies.


Aunty Peggy, George, Kathy, Aunty Karolyn, Uncle Sonny, Aunty Gail, Aunty Laura, Aunty Glenna, Uncle BB, Uncle Neil

Look at this. Chris is almost as tall as Dallas and Brad. He’s 14!

Brad, Dallas, Chris

After dinner we all kind of mingled and visited while waiting for the band to start up.

Aly, Danny, Amanda

If you didn’t notice earlier, Danny’s boutonniere is rosemary. Fitting, since he works in a kitchen. Here’s Dallas trying to get a whiff.

Brad, Danny, Dallas

Brad, Danny, Dallas

The dance floor is on the 3rd floor of Cheney Mansion. The wedding band was JT and the Clouds, a popular Chicago band. One of Danny and Caroline’s first dates was to go see them play. Also, the lead singer, Jeremy, aka JT, works with Danny.

JT and the Clouds

Kenji arrived on floor 3 ready to dance!


Tommy and Derek? Not so interested.

Tommy & Derek

Caroline and Danny had their first dance.

Danny & Caroline

Danny & Caroline

Some were a little shy to get dancing at first, but it wasn’t long before the dance floor was packed.


Loden, Trent, Caroline

Loden, Danny

Danny & Rachelle

Loden & Ed

Loden & Danny

Fun wedding. It went by SO FAST! Congratulations, Danny and Caroline! I wish we were done already! :)