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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Preparations for the big night

A few months ago I started thinking about how I could honor Jake for his birthday this year. He turned 35 today. I don't normally go to such lengths, but this year I just wanted to do something "out of the ordinary." I've recently begun to really fall in love with the French culture and all the simplicity, beauty and peace it seems to offer. My cousin Freiman has had several parties at his gallery in which all the guests were asked to wear, my mind got to thinking. I had to be careful not to think about it too much while falling asleep, or I WOULDN'T!!! I would lay in bed like a 12 a year the night before summer camp and just think, wonder, dream and imagine!! So, above are the invitations that I sent out:

You are cordially invited to attend
Une Soirée Blanche
(A White Evening Party)

To celebrate the birthday of Mr. Jacob K. Stoltzfus
On Saturday, July 26th, 2008.

Champagne at 5 o’clock
Dinner served at 5:30
Film at Dusk

White casual attire requested
Lancaster Avenue, Strasburg, PennsylvaniaLeraunt is a friend, (and talented chef) from Europe we met several years ago at a church we both attended. We remained friends and upon his arrival back to the states, I asked if he would help make an amazing French dinner for Jake and a few guests! He said YES!! So we were off!! We made several trips to Roots Country Market to see what they had to offer and to make final plans for the menu.

The Menu:

Amuse du Chef (a light teaser meaning to "amuse the mouth")

Summer Salad mixed with Spinach leaves, served with Artichoke, roasted Walnuts, Sesame Seeds and a touch of Lemon


Light Fried Salmon served on a bed of roaster garlic mashed potatoes, surrounded by julienne vegetables and asparagus, seasoned with Anise. Served with a home-made hollandaise sauce.

Poached Pear marinated in Vanilla and Cinnamon topped with chocolate and surrounded by fresh berries in a Cherry Flambe Sauce.

OH, I'm so excited to get the pictures back from our magical dinner party...then you'll get to see all this wonderfulness "in person." Until then, I thought I would take some time to post a few pictures of the prep that went into the meal. Here is Chef Van Loon ready for action in our darling vintage kitchen. Poor soul, he's use to state-of-the-art stainless steel kitchens....not this one!
fresh fennel and basil ready to be used....

the beginnings of an amazing appetizer, (amuse du chef). Leraunt's own homemade basil pesto.

poaching the pears in a caramelized sugar, mixed with cinnamon and HOMEMADE VANILLA EXTRACT. You should have SMELLED my kitchen! I will now hope that heaven smells like that! I asked him if I could "please bathe in that?" Unfortunately, there wasn't enough to fill the bath tub!
Stay tuned for the continuation of all this fabulousness.
What a grand evening was had by all....

Happy Birthday Baby!!

Today is my Honey's birthday! I'M SO GLAD HE WAS BORN!! He is the kindest man I know. He is quick to help those in need, full of compassion and genuine concern toward others. He is the hardest worker I know and won't give up until the job is complete....AND done with excellence. He is truly humble and strives to place others before himself. He cares for his sons deeply and longs to make a difference in this world through them...but above all this, I think the most beautiful quality he has: true authenticity. He makes me a better person. I kind of like this picture of Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck from "Roman Holiday" because it's how I feel with Jake: just holding on for the ride of my life....content and joyful! His Mom sent him the sweetest card today, and she summed it up beautifully: "thanks for being such an incredible son, so kind and respectful and having a great sense of humor. You amaze me with your wisdom, your insight and your talent. You are making a significant impact on the family and the world. I'm very proud to call you my son...." WOW! So eloquently written and I couldn't agree more!!
A Happy Birthday to you Baby! I love you more then life....and I love life alot!!

"To me, fair friend, you never can be old,
For as you were when first your eye I eye'd,
Such seems your beauty still."
~William Shakespeare~

*I surprised Jake this past Saturday night with an unforgettable French dinner party out under the night sky....I will post soon, once the pictures come in....we had a photographer for the evening!*

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

"Ikey Baby!"

Last Monday the boys and I went to see my Dad at his weekly bowling league get-together! What a FUN time! I just had to sit there and was like hangin' with the coolest cats in town! When my Dad would get up to bowl the guys would yell out, "ok, Ikey baby, whatca got?" with their sagging tattos and their plaid shirts. It was great! And my Dad was AWESOME! He is really, really good. Over a three game period; 700+!

He had the same things he did every time, and rightfully so....they WORKED!
And his bowling ball went soooo fast down that lane, faster then any of the other guys there!
Tyler and Luke ate chips and cheered for Grandpa! (Notice Luke stuffing his face so as to make sure he gets enough)! He loves spicy chips, just the other day he got in the chip drawer, dumped the entire bag of BBQ chips and went to town.
I ran out of quarters for the game area, so I told Tyler to ask Grandpa.
In typical Grandpa fashion, he took some quarters and put them on his head and made Tyler
reach up for them! He thought it was so funny! Luke sat at this car thing almost the entire time.
I'll go back soon, it was a great day for all!
And way to go Ikey Baby!!!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Cabin in the woods

Okay, I'm playing "catch up" right now....the summer seems to be flying by and I'm trying to capture every moment!! A few weeks ago we went with Wendell and MaryJo and their two little girls to their cabin in the woods....

Although I really think it should be called "Resort in the woods." This place was beautiful, as you can see below. I could have spent all day in the kitchen alone, it's one of the nicest I've been in: The boys had baths in the kitchen sink, just like when they were little babies. There wasn't a bathtub so we had to improvise....
Jake and Wendell spend about 2 hours up in the woods trying to brainstorm about how to get the fresh spring water hooked up directly to the house.....we were like, "where the heck are our husbands at??" It's so neat seeing the two of these guys together, they talk more then girls!!
Tyler with his little girlfriend Josie. A few days ago we went to their house and on our way out to the car he said he wanted to pick a flower for Josie. He held that little flower the whole way to her house and promptly got out and knocked on the door when we arrived. She was eating her breakfast so she walked up to her and said, "here's a flower for you." "For me?", she said and held that dear little flower through her entire bowl of cereal. So cute!!
Lukie at the screen door, he slammed that thing all weekend long...
Our own Huckleberry Finn.
Who needs toys when you've got Daddy's truck?
And the food, oh the glorious food:
one evening we had an amazing cookout and enjoyed each others company,
sipping MaryJo's homemade peach wine until the sun went down...
or it started to rain, I forget!

Our Grill Master
One night we went to the local Fireman's carnival....the kids LOVED it, and we did too!!
There was beautiful classical music being played,
we sat and enjoyed the lingering summer's evening together.
This lady was cool. Her and her trumpet!
Daddy and Tyler fishin' for a prize...
I don't think he turned that thing off for several days....especially at bedtime! I would go to tuck him in at night and there was this green light illuminating his sleeping face. I just smiled thinking of how cool it must have been for him to fall asleep looking at it.
Tyler taking Josie for a spin.We ate chocolate dipped bananas and strawberries...YUM!
I love this pic, one of my favorites.
During our last day we went to Lake Tobias
We went on an awesome safari in this crazy looking bus...who knew?
Just one hour from here live all these exotic animals?
It was so much fun! And our guide looked just the part! And yes, here he is just leisurely talking as this animal is climbing aboard! I was like, "um, he's GETTING. ON. THE. BUS!!"
The guide was just chillin'!
The boys, especially Luke loved how close the animals got.
Absolute beauty.
There was a little zoo there too so we meandered around....
Luke screaming the whole time...good screaming...he LOVES animals and does this
shrieking thing every time he sees one. You can only imagine a typical drive down
the roads of Lancaster County with this child!!

Thank you Wendell and MaryJo for such a fabulous weekend.
You guys are so easy to be around and we would do this again in a heartbeat.
We enjoy your company, your friendship and your precious little girls.

"Without friends no one would choose to live,
though he had all other goods."