Sunday, June 18, 2017

Week 3 of Writing to Myself Out Loud

Food: Today I tried an Almond and Orange Cake from Everyday Food (a defunct Martha Stewart production). It was good, but I worry it was too much like cornbread.

Family: Father's Day! We enjoyed a quiet day with my brother's family from Raytown, admiring the new Switch and Zelda game. Hopefully we are also listening to the Royals win.

Faith: Corpus Christi Sunday also falls today, a celebration of the Eucharist. This celebration also happens on Holy Thursday with the Institution of the Eucharist, but because the focus of Holy Thursday moves to the Paschal Sacrifice the Church has a separate day to appreciate the gift of the Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Christ.

Fatigue: I worked close to full time last week in our church office and appreciate anew how bad I am at being a full time worker and mom and wife. I just can't do it all, and I appreciate that my family is willing to do without the income I could produce so that I can be a better wife and mom.

Next week: The beginnings of family vacation!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Checking in for week two!

Faith: It's Trinity Sunday which means pastors have the careful dance of "here's what the Trinity is" while avoiding limiting the Trinity or committing heresy. Fr. Jim did a pretty good job, giving some descriptions of what the Trinity means to him by function, season, job, saints, and celebration.

We're also back to Ordinary Time, so back to giving up meat on Fridays--this week we tried a mixed greens and tuna salad that was pretty good. I borrowed Twelve Months of Monastery Salads by Brother Victor-Antoine d'Avila-Latourrette.

Food: The boys say the best thing we ate this week is the chicken and Parmesan risotto with herbs. For Little C (now Big C because he's taller than me) the worst was the Portobello and provolone sandwich...because he hates mushrooms. It's a texture thing.  We had a mostly meatless week (the chicken came from the freezer) to cut down the grocery bill.

Family: This was a recovery week between having lots of family for class and lots of family at the end of the month for vacation (here in KC). Big C started Geography Class in addition to cross country running, so he's dipping the other foot in the high school pool.

Friends: Today we had a lovely impromptu lunch with friends from Lawrence; their twins enjoyed our nerf gun, bouncy balls, and bug catcher. We enjoyed catching up and hearing about their travels.

No pictures, Betty, but I'll try to have one for you next week.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

VFV 2016: Door County

Distance traveled: Around 100 miles  
Method of Travel: car, foot   
Number of people: 20

Stops: This part of the trip became very different because different groups of people went different directions. On the first day, Big and Little C went with one group to Green Bay, WI to see the Green Bay Packers stadium, the Cathedral, a train museum, and a chili place for lunch. My brother, sister-in-law, and I traveled a circuit of the Door peninsula with my dad. Along the way we bought cherry jam; brother J tried hard apple cider, locally made; we bought some smoked fish spread from Charlie's Smokehouse; and we got to see a really windy road and the tip top of the peninsula, looking out at the ferries and the islands. We stopped by Rowleys Bay to see Grandma's Swedish Bakery, but it was more like a resort--not us at all. The cookie was okay. We ate lunch with my mom and the Colorado family at Wilson's in Sister Bay (address Ephraim) and dipped our hands in Green Bay. Little A got her artwork displayed on the drink station and she was so, so proud--like a published artist. Again, they had an interesting gift shop but I didn't get to stop and look. Our last major stop of the day was at Not Licked Yet.

The second day was slightly derailed because Dad's car had a flat tire. He had to wait around to get that fixed, so my family and my mom and my brother traveled to some stops we wanted to see. The day before, my mom and the Colorado family had climbed a lighthouse, but they told us it wasn't worth it. So we went to Whitefish Dunes State Park to climb sand dunes, Lautenbach's winery, Door Peninsula Distillery so Big C could try some hard liquor, and met up with C from Raytown to eat at the restaurant with goats on the roof, Al Johnson's. After a family dustup (frustrations, hard feelings, etc.) we ended with a disappointing stop at Renard's Deli. They only had a few cheese curds to try and they didn't have many interesting cheeses to look at. The Colorado and Rose Hill families (8 small children, 4 adults) chose to spend the day hanging out at the house or at the lake shore in Algoma. 

Finally, it was time for all the families to head out. Raytown family went back for work and the rest of us headed to Wisconsin Dells. On the way we made time for Cherry Delite in Forestville and the only approved Marian apparition in the United States, Our Lady of Good Help. Oh, and a brewery in Stevens Point for the gentlemen and a wildlife refuge for the children and ladies. 

Food: We ate breakfasts and suppers at the house. Breakfast was usually cereal or leftovers; one night of supper was baked potatoes with fixings from the Raytown couple, and the other night was supposed to be a fish fry, but we ended up eating leftovers and one pizza.

Lunch was various as we were in different places, but I had lunch one day at Wilson's, in Sisters Bay, with the Denver branch and the Homestead. We enjoyed burgers but most importantly fried cheese curds. Ah, Wisconsin. We also saw one of my nieces get her art posted on the drink machine--she was so, so proud.

Our other food stop this day was ice cream from Not Licked Yet. I have to admit that it wasn't as good as reviews had led me to believe; I think it might have been that the young girls running the stand weren't quite sure what they were doing. Tasty granola ice cream, but not mind blowing.
My other lunch was at Al Johnson's, famous for goats on the roof. We had swedish specialties including meatballs, pancakes, and lingonberry lemonade. It was slightly pricy but still tasty. They had a wonderful gift shop but I was the only one who wanted to linger.

Lodging: See previous post for Meadow Road Country Retreat.
Best and Worst: I really loved seeing the very tip top of Door County and gazing out on Lake Michigan. I also went with my sister K to walk along the Lake one evening--also wonderful. Worst? I wish we weren't staying so far from Door County itself (about 30 minutes). That was a bummer.

Trying Something New #1

It's been a long, long time since I tried writing in this blog.

For a long time I felt rather egotistical about trying to have one--who am I to share my ideas? Why should my thoughts on liturgy or food or family be out there, when so many other people are sharing their thoughts ad nauseum? Doesn't our world just need a little quiet?

That's true, but I also think it's good for me, if nothing else, to organize my thoughts. So I'll try this: I'll write a little once a week, share it, and after a few months delete it. That way I'm not worrying about what people may think about me based on something that might have been an impulsive outburst. We'll see.

So what's on my mind today?

1. On the bookshelf: I just finished The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin. I loved her early  Earthsea books but not so much the later ones. This book is more like a dystopic time travel on the idea of what would happen if dreams could change the world. I enjoyed it very much.

2. In the kitchen: Not much, because I just finished four days of intense class for Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Level III (ages 9-12). In two months I'll be done with class and probably begin the slow, slow work of becoming a recognized formation leader. Meanwhile, lots of reading and lesson plan writing with my sister.

3. On the chore pile: The big chore for the coming weeks is sorting my "keepsake box." You have one of these, don't you? All those cards or awards or memorabilia from days past that doesn't belong out but that you can't get rid of. When we left Wichita I put most of my teaching material in there, and now that four years have passed I'm ready to purge most of it.

Have a blessed Pentecost Sunday, and may you always be open to the movements of the Holy Spirit.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

VFV 2016: Chicago to Door County via Milwaukee

Distance traveled: 170 miles, give or take    

Method of Travel: car     

Number of people: 6 to 20

I decided to put our pictures from St. Josaphat at the end so that they wouldn't create such a mess up here. In addition, I can't figure out how to format pictures! So there we are.
After checking out we started our trip north toward Door County. We crossed into Wisconsin and went to Kenosha to pick up a kringle (like strudel but flatter, but with delicious fillings) and breakfast (various doughnuts and drinks).

We amused Big C with our Voboril enjoyment of grocery stores. They are such a wonderful way to get the spirit and food habits of an area. We found the Sendik's chain and stopped at one not too far away to start picking up supplies for supper. We had wanted to buy our sausages at Usinger's but they were closed on Sundays. Fortunately we found that many grocery stores carried them. We also picked up local soda pop at almost every stop through the trip for a later soda tasting with the young folk.

 I had so many placed I wanted to stop (a Frank Lloyd Wright building, over 10 churches, a building made of pebbles) but we had to limit it to general value and limited time. We chose to make Milwaukee a longer stop because there was so much to see. Dad recommended that our church stop be St. Josaphat's Basilica, and we were very fortunate to get there in between two Masses while it was open. This church was the main Polish church for Milwaukee. It was full of paintings, mosaics, statutes, beautiful organs...almost every surface was adorned and gave glory to God and his saints. We wandered and enjoyed as long as we could.

We headed to Old World 3rd Street for more food and supplies. Our named stop was the Wisconsin Cheese Mart, which carried one of my favorite souvenirs, a giant 4 year aged cheddar. It was delicious in so many dishes after we came home, even eaten with its beautiful crystals on its own. We also walked up and down a few blocks to see the famous restaurants like Mader's and others. At one point we walked past the tiny Spice House and realized this was the shop of the Penzeys sister (a famous brand of mail order spices that we choose to no longer rely on). So into Spice House we popped to regale our noses with wonderful scents. I picked up another beloved souvenir, a spice blend named Taste of the North that is almost like teriyaki, with maple sugar used for sweetness.

It was time to move on again, so we headed north to our chosen lunch, Oakland Gyros. It was clean and delicious although in an unsavory neighborhood. Once stuffed we got back on the interstate to head north to Manitowoc.

For three years our family lived in Lindsay, Nebraska, and enjoyed a strong friendship with the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity that served the parish. Now withdrawn from Linsday, we visited Sr. Paulus Maresch at the retirement home and motherhouse. She remembered us from 20 years ago and enjoyed seeing how my baby brother J (then 3) had grown up and was now studying at Notre Dame. Sr. Paulus allowed me to move ahead in math and encouraged me to excel; because of her excellent example I still love math and still consider myself a teacher. After a short visit with her, we headed downtown for a quick visit to Beernsten's Confectionary. This is an old-fashioned candy shop, and we got some mint milk chocolate for Dad and a box of mixed chocolates for the rest of us.

We were now only about an hour away from our destination. We stopped in the last town we saw, Kewaunee, to pick up our last supplies at the Piggly Wiggly before pulling in to our home for the next three days. Several windy roads later we arrived and started unpacking.  

Food: This was a difficult food day, as we had to plot where we would be at different times and make choices that were both unusual and tasty. In addition, it was Sunday, so many businesses and restaurants were closed. Mom and I grabbed coffee (that we had to pay for) and the hotel and then we checked out and went to Kenosha to grab Paielli's for breakfast. We ate it standing up in a park--Happy Father's Day! Even with that, everything was delicious We also bought a kringle for dessert, because that's what you should do when in Wisconsin.

For lunch, we drove from the Old World section of Milwaukee to Oakland Gyros, taking detours around a church picnic that blocked off several roads. The gyros and fries were very wonderful.

Supper was our first meal at the big house. All 20 of us arrived in time to enjoy it. During the day, we stopped at 2 grocery stores and one cheese store and picked up fixings for a sausage feast (mostly Usingers but other brands as well). We grilled them outside and served them with some coleslaw, macaroni salad, buns, chips, and that delicious kringle.

Lodging: We stayed at the Meadow Road Country Retreat, which we found through Airbnb. You can see my review there, but basically we loved the space but hated that it was not completely air conditioned (only 3 of the 8 bedrooms had a window unit, with two more units to cover the rest of the space). We were also frustrated that the internet was not accessible during our entire visit

Best and Worst: Seeing Sr. Paulus, Lake Michigan, and St. Josaphat were all part of the best (as were the grocery stores). The worst was probably realizing the air conditioner situation at the house before everyone arrived and worrying that they would be mad.

Pictures: all of these are of St. Josaphat; one is of "the quintessential Wisconsin license plate" that we found in the parking lot of St. Josaphat.


Saturday, July 16, 2016

VFV 2016: South Bend 2, The Amish, and Chicago driving

Distance traveled: Probably around 200 miles, give or take
Method of Travel: car, foot 
Number of people: 6

Stops: Before we stopped anywhere, we had to check out of our wonderful hotel. We fortunately left South Bend easily (to return later) for Amish Country. Some of us had been before, so we had a list of favorites, never-visit-agains, and new hopefuls. 

After driving by the original Rise n Roll Bakery, we stopped in the country at Guggisberg Deutsch Kase Haus, a cheese shop where they let you sample EVERYTHING and sometimes you can even watch them make the cheese. They have many wonderful cheeses, including several kinds of Swiss. My dad likes the Rye n Swiss. 

From there we went to a new hopeful, E and S Sales. When we went to Shipshewana a year ago, this seemed to be the place where the Amish shopped. [Just a note, this area of Indiana is full of Mennonite, Amish, and Hutterites; I'm using Amish as a short hand for that, even though it's not very precise.] It was! We walked every aisle and loved it. Well, those with Voboril blood loved it; Big C was a little perplexed why we were entranced with a grocery store. We found something called Wonder Extract, a flavoring with vanilla, orange, cinnamon, and other flavors mixed in; peanut butter spread, something ubiquitous in this area made of peanut butter, marshmallow fluff, vanilla, and honey and corn syrup; cheap strawberries, huge bags of the marshmallows from Lucky Charms, and so many kinds of sugar.

Next we hopped down the street for Yoder Meat and Cheese, a sausage and cheese store with a little bit of other things, like bright sanding sugars and flavored honeys. We picked up some jerky for the long drive later in the day. 

After a stop for lunch we split in two again, same groups as yesterday. The "adults" went to the Menno-Hof, a museum dedicated to explaining the contemporary iterations of Anabaptism in this area. It was a very good museum, with several exhibits that set the background of their faith before letting you wander some through other areas, and ending with a visit to a replica of their worship space. We only had an hour but we really enjoyed it. Meanwhile, the "younger set" went to Davis Mercantile and enjoyed a carousel, Green Rivers, and Salt Water Taffy from Aunt Millie's. 

It was time to join back up and head back to South Bend for an evening Mass. On the way we stopped to pick in the only church named after St. Bavo in the United States, but only briefly because they were having a wedding. We went to J's to change for Mass, pick up for him (only because Mom and I can't help ourselves), and relax a little. Mass was at St. Matthew's Cathedral, the co-cathedral for South Bend-Fort Wayne. This modern building was spacious and was welcoming a new pastor and assistant.

Finally, we grabbed supper quickly because we needed to leave South Bend and head north. We had decided to get through Chicago this night instead of the next morning, so we drove...and drove...and drove. We took the SkyWay into Chicago (a rip off at $4.50 for just a high bridge in poor repair; I would have felt differently if I knew I was on a toll road). Finally we reached Waukegan and settled in for the night. Well, we settled in for a good bout of research for the next day, and THEN for the night. 

Food: I can't say much about breakfast; we enjoyed what the hotel offered.

At lunch, we went to the Fireside Cafe for some macaroni and cheese fries, salads, hamburgers, pulled pork sandwiches, and a variety of other dishes. The general consensus was that the waffle fries and burger were wonderful, but the other dishes were just fine.

After Mass we went to BarBici in the Davis Street Commons. You could call it the Subway of Italian food, but it's better. It's one price, depending on your starch and size; after that, everything costs the same. The white sauce is very tasty (a rarity anywhere) and there's always plenty of food. Next time I will try the ice cream in cream puffs or the wine. Or both.
Lodging: We went to the Courtyard Chicago Waukegan/Gurnee. It was a spacious hotel, even if Little C and J had to sleep on pullout couches. I don't like hotels that offer Starbucks (for a price) but no free coffee or food in the morning. Oh, well. we had other plans.

Best and Worst: Most of the day was the best. Our drive to Chicago was a little nerve wracking but actually pretty easy compared to what I was worried about. J made me laugh so hard that I started crying when we started singing songs from when Little C was a baby.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

VFV 2016: South Bend 1, Nitrogen Ice Cream, and So Big Jesus

Distance traveled: We drove around South Bend and walked around campus.
Method of Travel: car, foot 

Number of people: 6

Stops: After breakfast we went to the Shiojiri Niwa Japanese Garden in Mishawaka. It was very difficult to find (continuing Garmin problems) but very lovely once we were there.

Our second "stop" was a vigorous walking tour of Notre Dame campus. We got to see the mailroom in the Political Science building, another classroom building with a nice quiet lounge and computer room, Touchdown Jesus on the side of the library, the inside of the library, the outside of the Snite Museum, the ugly Stephan building, about 2 minutes in the Basilica (they were getting ready for a wedding), the grotto, and then a walk by the golden dome and back to the car. Plus random other buildings along the way. 

After lunch, we split into two groups. The youngsters (Big and Little C and J) went to Nappanee, about 20 miles away, to try some ice cream made with liquid nitrogen. The old people (Mom, Dad, and I) went to the History Museum. Mom and I looked at exhibits about clearing the land, early industries, and All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Dad went across the street to peek in the window of the Avanti Guest House/Museum.

We came back together to visit Oh Mamma's On the Avenue to look at cheese, salami, and unique sodas. It was a little store but very friendly; we bought some goat Gouda cheese. Then we left for the South Bend Chocolate Factory. If downtown wasn't being rerouted from one way to two way streets with several closings, this would be easy, but NO. Our Garmin doesn't like South Bend and we ended up on the edge of town at their factory outlet. Eventually we got there and bought chocolate and more soda.

It was time for a break, so we regrouped at the hotel, leaving only for supper, and returned for the Royals game and to rest. This was a relaxing day to have after the high energy of Chicago.    

Food: For breakfast my dad pretty much made us go to Rise N' Roll Bakery in Mishawaka. None of us had a problem with that. They have wonderful doughnuts; they are famous for their caramel frosting, topped with cinnamon sugar. The frosting is enough for me without the extra sugar! They also have a deli and breakfast sandwiches, but in our two trips here we haven't been able to move past doughnuts. Mom and I also get our coffee for the day. 

Lunch was at the Mango Cafe, a Venezuelan restaurant that is close to campus. Mom and J had been there before, but for the rest of us we got to revel in arepas, Venezuelan cheese, and all sorts of good sauces.

Finally, supper was at another of Dad's favorites, Cambodian Thai. We ate there so we didn't have to find silverware in the hotel room. I tried the larb chicken salad; it would have been great if served with rice. Without the rice it was a little too strong. We also had crab rangoon, masaman curry, papaya salad, drunken noodle, and two other dishes that I can't remember, but they were very good. We headed down the street for beignets at the Chicory Cafe for a lovely dessert/snack the next morning.  
Lodging: Our second night at the Comfort Inn University Area.

Best and Worst: All of the food was really good, and seeing some of the abandoned Studebaker factory buildings was fascinating. We called it "Mom's decrepitude" because she really wanted to see where the factories were. I was really disappointed that, yet again, we couldn't see the Basilica of the Sacred Heart because of a wedding.