Saturday, March 16, 2013


  • He called you Bruiser; he nicknames everyone & that was quickly yours; he said that he knew you would be tough
  • When you were a baby, he was quite possibly your favorite; you would cuddle up on his chest & be so content
  • He was a 6'2" athletic man but as a tiny baby, he would hold you as if you were breakable, so carefully
  • He quickly taught you to appreciate 50's & 60's rock & roll, you would "dance" for him (and everyone) often
  • You were his swimming pool buddy; he LOVED when you would get in the pool, kick your legs & splash with your hands. He could watch you for hours & thought you were so funny in there.
  • He would often hold you & walk you around in the pool, bouncing along 
  • He showed you how to "lounge" on a raft in the pool

  • He would wave at you with both hands & you would smile so big. He would shout "Tennnnnnny. Whatcha doing Tennnnnnny?!"
  • He would gently stroke your forehead 
  • We visited him at the office a few times; we took him lunch & ate with him there at the board room table
  • He would stop over to visit you at the house; he played "ball" with you rolling the ball back & forth on the ground
  • You became quite afraid of him (and all men) & would not let him hold you for a time frame; you would "talk" to him & smile at him but as soon as grandma tried to pass you off, you would fuss!
  • When he found out you were being rather fussy for me as a baby, he went out & bought you a swing. He & Grandma brought it over on a Saturday afternoon & he put it together for you. 
  • You would always wave goodbye when he left
  • At Christmastime he bought you a Colts football & a red & white striped basketball; you pound on them both & say "huh-huh"
  • Everything you did was funny to him; you made him laugh out loud
  • He came to be with you in the hospital when you had your surgery; he calmed me tremendously
  • He was fascinated when you began picking up food on your own. He kept asking "When did he learn to do that? He's so big."
  • He told my aunt Mag that you were really, really smart at 9 mos old
  • The last night he visited you, he told you that once you got a little older, he was going to teach you all kinds of things
  • The last night he visited you, you walked along the coffee table to him; you gave him a high five
  • The last night he visited you, he said, "I know we're gonna be great buddies"
  • He bought you a shirt that said "little dude" when you were about 3 mos old; he also bought you mini cargo shorts & thought they were hilarious; He would always ask, "Tenny, where are your cargos?"
  • He told me that you would be the best thing I ever did… and he was right.
  • He would always ask you if you wanted a cigar....then he would always ask me when he could give you your first cigar.
  • He never talked baby talk to you but definitely had his own language just for you
  • You get your stubbornness (and strong will) partly from him!
  • His eyes LIT UP whenever you came around
  • You went golfing together for the first time on Father's Day at Raccoon Run 
  • You had your first bite of protein with him at Thanksgiving. We fed you turkey at the Conrad in Indianapolis. 
  • I prayed to God before you existed to let me have a baby that all our parents (your grandparents) could meet... I praise the Lord everyday that Grandpa Jay knew you & loved you...

... My prayer now is that someday you will get to meet him & love him as well. 

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Success amidst the Sorrow

My father was my biggest fan. My father was Caleb's biggest fan. My father thought Cerulean was the best restaurant "in Indiana." And if my father had traveled much outside of the Midwest, he probably would have said we had the best restaurant in the world. : ) (he was also a bit of an exaggerator) Needless to say, my father was quite supportive & quite proud... nothing wrong with that. As I reflect on my father & I's relationship, I realize that the things I have accomplished in my limited scope of a life, stem from a family & a father who made me feel like anything was possible. 
Thank you father for instilling confidence in me & always being my biggest fan. This one is for you!

Dining Out


The Art of the Meal: A Review of Cerulean

With a stunning downtown dining room and a delicious fashion sense, Cerulean looks good enough to eat.

I glanced up from my butternut-and-acorn squash salad just as a group of business-dressed women in CityWay hard hats filed past Cerulean’s courtyard windows—on what looked like a guided tour of this $155 million mixed-use complex-in-the-making. When complete, the downtown site will house a boutique hotel, townhomes, shops, a park, a YMCA, and this gorgeous fishbowl of a restaurant where lunch arrives in westernized polished-walnut bento boxes. I wondered, as I plucked bites of balsamic-glazed pork loin, green beans spiked with vinaigrette, and spicy chorizo–crumbled potatoes from their individual compartments, if that tour group was as captivated by the soaring modern floorplan as I was by my lunch. It’s easy to get excited about this much new-urban design and sauce-painted dishware. But should we resist the temptation to fawn over all the pretty plates? Does the style have substance? Or have we fallen under the spell of a very impressive dog-and-pony show?
These are the questions you might ask yourself while sipping a bourbon cocktail that contains both fresh ginger and egg white in a dining room of soft leather clamshell booths, featuring a cozy enclosed area (inspired by an installation in a New York art museum) that looks like an Airstream trailer made of bent strips of wood. Before the November opening, chef-owner Caleb France personally hosted a series of private preview dinners and invited, among others, food bloggers and social-media mavens. It was not a bad idea, considering that many of Cerulean’s dishes need some narration.
I might have better appreciated my plate of hay-smoked quail garnished with button-sized dollops of cherry butter had I known that the little gelatinous marble of brown juice that I popped with my fork was full of liquid boiled out of wood, not just your ordinary broth. As for the tufts of white foam that frothed amid miniature wedges of brown-butter cake and Earl Grey cream on my Chocolate & Citrus dessert plate? Turns out those were bubbles of orange juice and vanilla, emulsified and fluffed with an aerator. Basically, flavored air.
Whether or not Indianapolis is ready for food this highly evolved, or even grown-up enough to nibble a pork-belly macaron without giggling, Cerulean represents a turning point of sorts. The decor is as sleek as a W hotel, the plates art-directed right down to the last tire track of liquefied arugula. What we have here is the anti-Bluebeard—scruffy gourmet’s dandy cousin. And not since Neal Brown closed L’explorateur have we been this awestruck by our food.
The decor is as sleek as a W hotel, the plates art-directed right down to the last tire track of liquefied arugula.
The dinner menu opens with a grouping of small plates in the $3 to $4 range—just bites, really, of things like a little jar of mushroom custard and creamed rabbit rillettes on a pouf of horseradish. A second page of shareables might (depending on the season) include a wee brick of bison mousse alongside a tiny loaf of sliced bread, or chilled sweet-potato soup with a twig of nutmeg-thyme cracker.
France, who majored in business at Taylor University and had no formal culinary training when he opened his flagship Cerulean six years ago in Winona Lake, pulls out all the stops with the short list of mains. The tenderest slab of soft-braised beef short ribs rests atop a bed of crunchy ghee-fried spaetzle with baby-food dollops of brown butter and a bright-green smear of Swiss chard bleeding off the plate. Two pan-fried filets of sunfish lie next to a thick strip of cured pork, propped up on a miniature goat-cheese–beet cake. Desserts could range from a pretty plate of spiced peanut-butter ice cream with housemade toasted marshmallows and bits of burnt honey to Greek-yogurt panna cotta—sweet, silky, and cool.
Cerulean’s open dining room and cozy front bar have a sexy vibe at night, with the city lights twinkling just beyond the glass. But Cerulean also shines—perhaps even brighter—during the light of day. At lunch, mix-and-match mains and sides are parceled out in a 1:3 ratio and served inside those handsome bento boxes. A pair of seared scallops might join a small bowl of roasted-carrot soup, Brussels sprouts caramelized in maple syrup, and a crisp picnic salad of broccolini, cranberries, walnuts, and cured pork. The presentation is as sweet as a housemade marshmallow, as precious as a candlelit bentwood hut. Who could resist?

339 S. Delaware St., 870-1320,
HOURS Mon.–Sat. 11 a.m.–2 p.m., 5–10 p.m.

Photos by Tony Valainis
This article appeared in the February 2013 issue, Indianapolis Monthly.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

One week later...

As a little girl you think your father is the strongest man in the world. As you get a little older you think your father is the smartest man in the world. And moving into your adult life, you realize that your father is very strong and is very smart and is very wise but you also begin to see him for who he really is... You begin to see him as a friend. When he becomes a friend that's when the whole world changes. You have someone in your life that has not only known you since the day you were born but generally understands everything about you. He understands what makes you tick, makes you laugh, what makes you cry and why you even make the decisions that you do. Whether you want to admit it or not he probably knows you better than anyone else in the world. Except for maybe your own mother. If I were to be really honest, my father was probably the closest thing to me- in other words, we were a lot alike. I remember never wanting to admit the things that I would do that would be considered "just like my father." But the not wanting to admit they were "just like my father" is an exact trade of his, stubborn! 
Losing a father is like losing a piece of yourself, there's no way to replace it. My father always told us to just do the next right thing. When he's not here to remind me that, it's difficult to know what to do. He was a source of support and encouragement and I don't know what I'm supposed to do when I don't have his voice guiding me, telling me what the next right thing is... I have realized what a source of security he was in my life. Now that he's not there I find myself frantic on who I'm going to go to when I need advice or who is going to tell me how to live my life... or who is going to bail me out of the next speeding ticket?? My father had become my friend and I would get excited to see him. I would be excited to go visit him or to see him walk through my front door. I was excited for him to teach Tennyson to play basketball or baseball or any other sport for that matter. He was the sports guy. He was going to be so many things in my life, still. He was going to be so many things for Tennyson's life, still. I hate knowing that my son will never have his grandfather again... and that he will never get the wisdom & strength & the security & the friendship that I have had with that man. How will words even come close to doing justice to the father that I've had when I try to tell stories to my son? There are not enough words in the English language to express how great a man he was...

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Building a restaurant

So in the past 3 months, a restaurant (surprisingly) took form! Thanks to our friend (and tech genius) Andy, there are some photos to document the time spent. 

Tennyson has graduated to a big boy car seat for the commute back & forth from Indy (don't call CPS) & remains calm, cool, & chubby. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Indy Project

Times are changing, that's for sure. As I sit here today & type, the whole Cerulean gang (or at least a good 30 or so) are off on a kayaking adventure at Turkey Run State Park. Every year we try to do something that includes the whole staff whether it be a lake party, cookout, bonfire, etc. Just something that is fun, stress-free, & not related to work! We provide food, drinks, & hopefully an atmosphere where the staff can just enjoy each other's company & engage on a different level. Well, this year we decided to treat everyone to kayaks down a river- a 4 hour adventure! They loaded up coolers of Martins donuts, Strongbow Cider & Jimmy John's subs & headed for the open road around 6.30a! It should be a fantastic day for them- sunny skies & about 70 degrees- perfect! 
On the other hand, I am a bit sad. While you will NEVER hear me complain about time spent with the little dude, it is a bit disheartening to not be a part of the adventure for the first time in over 6 years. An unfortunate circumstance that leaves me sad for my loss... the loss of quality time with the staff. Yes, they really are that cool. : ) 
So, while I get a day "to myself" & the little one naps, I wanted to look forward to what is still to come.... Indianapolis. Wow, more cool people yet to come into our lives! Here is where we are at:

Our contractors gave me my own hard hat. That moment truly put things in perspective... Silly, I know... but sometimes it is the little things. : ) This was also Tenny's last tour before the restaurant is complete. For some reason the construction crews really frown on having a small child in "steel-toed boots & hard hats only" facilities. 

Both families have now see the space in its inception. Just wait until it is complete!

These are both open dining areas... The picture on the left also looks out toward the outdoor Garden area. That will come in 2013!

This will be booth seating along the window. 

This is what we are calling the "Food Lab". Guests can visually see whatever we decide to feature in a given day being prepared or created. Behind that to the right is a private dining room for the VIP's... ya know, like Reggie Miller. ; ) 

Bathrooms :)

Bar & lounge area looking towards the front entrance/host desk

2 more shots of the bar from each side: one from the host desk, one view down South Street (booth seating & server station on right)


So, quite obviously, we have a ways to go.... BUT it is also moving very quickly! At this point, I think the goal is just to keep up with everything... & ride out the current whenever we get the chance. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

6 months old

So, to help the Main Man keep up on all the shenanigans that happen around the house, I decided to send a random Tenny-ism email from time to time. Please don't take it like there is an absent father in the home cause that couldn't be FURTHER from the truth. But it helps us all stay connected & this kid grows so fast that who knows what even tomorrow may hold?! So, in honor of making it 6 months, I thought I would devote an entire blog to the growing boy by sharing the reports.....

Tenny-isms Part Un

Just a few things from this week to help you feel connected : ) & maybe some you already know!
  • He will most definitely eat carrots & be excited about it! You just have to be patient & he warms up to them!
  • He is a rolling machine- this morning in the hotel I had him rolling around on the floor while I was making coffee & when I turned my back for 10 seconds he was stuck under the tv stand! He grunted, thought it was kinda funny & then started crying for me to get him out. : )
  • He will fall asleep ANYWHERE with singing or the white noise app... otherwise, not as easy. He napped on a blanket on the floor at Shoop's.
  • He now knows what pajamas mean. Sometimes (about 50/50 right now) he begins his bedtime protest just by the changing of clothes
  • He poops in his walker. That is his spot. The past 4 poops have taken place in that walker. Today I actually caught him making a face- that is the first time I have witnessed a poop face. 
  • He is beginning to find Banks very funny. Lenny, of course, is still the BFF.
  • He can feed himself his own bottle with minimal help.... in his CAR SEAT. : )
  • He sits pretty well in the tripod position on his own. He is getting to the point where he would rather do that sometimes than be held. He is getting to be an extremely independent little boy.
  • However, he will not go to anyone but mom... not sure about this one... if I am in the room, he may be ok for a few minutes but not normally... 
  • TOES!!!
  • He has started trying to "eat" the water in the bath
  • He is responding to his name, gets really excited when you say "good job" & understands "no"
  • He likes to be around a lot of people but he doesn't like to be the center of attention. He will sit fine if no one is paying attention to him but as soon as everyone is in his face, he gets anxious :)

Tenny-isms Part Deux

I should be doing a MILLION other things right now but I find this important because I know that we all miss each other...
  1. Tenny's poop is now usually brown with flecks of whatever he eats & IT STINKS. ; ) There is no questioning now whether he has pooped or not- just take a whiff. 
  2. First time I have ever seen him puke- twice. Not fun & kind of heart breaking. (can't wait til the first hangover) 
  3. He is starting to show less interest in nursing. Surprisingly has been very sad for me. 
  4. Ten rarely ever cries when he is hungry now. He will look at me & maybe whine a bit, if anything. I am proud that he trusts us enough to meet his needs in that regard & doesn't feel too panicked when hungry anymore. 
  5. He LOVES to watch the rain & the wind in the trees from his walker.
  6. Loud noises don't seem to scare him too much if I am an eyeshot away. He often looks to me for approval. 
  7. He sticks out his tongue & vibrates his lips. He finds it hilarious. He will also mimic it if you do it at him. This is the first thing I have seen him consistently mimic on cue. 
  8. I think he feels like a big boy in his high chair! I give him a lot of praise for sitting well in it & I think he is proud of himself. 
  9. He not only grabs at things now but he reaches- he will lean forward or scoot forward or turn in order to get want he is looking at. He has figured out that he can propel himself forward in some regards. 
  10. When I ask, "Are you silly?" He smiles, giggles a bit & says what I can only determine as "yaaaa" ; )
  11. Head butting & hair pulling is full time gig now. He hasn't bit me since the last time I told him No.
  12. I think he may actually look forward to his daytime naps. He gets excited to be in the crib & LOVES your grandma's afghan. However, if you miss the cues...screams may follow.
  13. Make that 3 pukes- 1 all over mom
  14. He is now in 9-12 mo clothes 
  15. He has started jerking his head from side to side really quickly when he is tired & trying not to fall asleep. It's really funny.
  16. I found that even after just a week of asking him not to put his hands in his mouth when eating, he rarely even tries to now. 
  17. He is SO SPUNKY- that boy is getting a little (biG!) personality on him & I am starting to see the toddler characteristics creep out... He wiggles his whole body when he gets excited almost to a point where its hard to hold him; he has a sly grin when he knows he's about to do something questionable; if I am not paying attention to him, he will whine so I look at him & then grin when I ask what is wrong (stinker!); he plays his cards well- he knows what to do to get what he wants & he's stubborn about it (for example, I want attention so I will just throw all my toys on the floor); he will side swipe or kick about anything he can reach at any moment so watch out- I have buried a wine glass & saturated cookbooks multiple times in the past week!
  18. The chub has thrown my back out 3 times in this past week trying to load him into the car with that carrier. However the wrist sprain from last week has healed.
  19. He almost always falls asleep on his side now. 
  20. He is very intuitive toward anything new. New scenery is especially welcomed & studied intently. (especially dogs)

Happy 6 mos Tennyson- you're one pretty cool dude!