Thursday, July 31, 2008
Think of something that you did in grammar school, high school or college to show school spirit.
Why the challenge, you ask? Every week during the summer program, my director has challenged the teachers to focus on something. (Oh, and there are prizes for the winners. Y'all know how I'm a gift gal? Well, count prizes in on that too.) One week's challenge was organization, another week it was attendance (which I won, ahem), this week it was "catch people doing good things". He doesn't normally announce the challenge until the week it takes place, but he announced next week's challenge today: Class Spirit.
He said there are no parameters, no rules. However we want to show class spirit is up to us. He is also going to be taking a bunch of pictures and will compile them all on a disc for us.
Normally, I am not an extremely competitive person. But sometimes my dander gets up with the silliest of things. Like this. Immediately my mind began racing with ideas, most of which stemmed from my grammar school and high school days. Things like theme days, pep rallies, group songs, chants, etc.
So back to my challenge for you: I know that you had some sort of school spirit thing at one point that you loved. What was it?
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Are you kidding me? I know I've written about seasons or holidays jumping the gun, but this takes the cake.
And what was Stein's reply when I started my rant? "It's always nice to have Christmas in July."
I had one word for that: "No."
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
The talk around the party as it neared the end was to go to Wolski''s. Wolski's is famous for it's 'celebration' when it closes for the night. They flash the lights on and off, and the staff runs around the place handing out "I Closed Wolski's" bumper stickers. It's in the middle of a neighborhood and used to be a house. So you're walking along this neighborhood, and then all of the sudden, there's a bar. Here are some shots from inside. That's our friend Dawn's husband with Colleen, Chris and Stein:
And this picture (above) cracks me up. I am still holding a grudge that Marquette changed its nickname during the flurry of colleges doing the same. I can't stand the Golden Eagle nickname, won't buy anything that says it on it, and didn't want my picture with the mascot. Stein thought I did. And do you like the big name badge we wore? It was annoying, but did come in handy occasionally when you had to glance quickly at someone's when they first knew your name.
On our way back to the hotel that afternoon, I had to get a tourist picture in front of the academic building where I spent most of my years. Johnston Hall:
That night, they had a really nice dinner on the union lawn for all the classes. There were clusters of tables set up according to classes. They had a huge buffet of food and desserts. Oh yeah, and who had the wise idea of having $1 Miller Lite bottles? With a bunch of Marquette Alums? That was messy. Here I am with Chris and our friend Kelly:
Chris and Stein enjoying the food (and Miller Lites):
Some of the yummy desserts:
Sarah and Carlos:
My friend Jill and me:
This picture below cracked me up. When it got dark, they had lights shining on the union and some of the surrounding buildings. Chris and I joked that it was a command: "Reconnect!" We also joked that they were subliminally shining "Donate!"After the dinner, we ventured over to some of the campus establishments. The ones we frequented while there are no longer standing, so we gave it the old college try and walked into one of the new ones. Old being the operative word as all of the college kids turned around as we entered the bar, and we couldn't hear each other over the loud (kids these days) music. Our group of nine quickly turned around and exited the place. We were lucky to find one of the bars had an outdoor area which was a lot quieter than the inside of the bar. Here we are enjoying (what else?) Miller Lites.All in all, a great time. We were exhausted on Sunday and yesterday. I guess we're not 21 anymore. But we sure gave it the college try.
Monday, July 28, 2008
I met Chris during our freshman year in college, but we never really hung out together. She and I joke that we went to different colleges, because she doesn't know a lot of my college friends, and vice versa. It was evident this weekend while we were at the reunion.
After college, she lived with Ellen, and that's how I got to know her. Soon we all became roommates, and lived together for a few years. Eventually when Ellen got married, Chris and I lived together.
The picture above, although pretty blurry, was taken on Cubs opening day this year. You all know about our opening day tradition of being at Yaksie's from 6:00 am, until late in the day? Well, this was taken at the start of that day. I think of the opening day festivities as Chris and my tradition, since we started it on a whim a long time ago. I love this picture because not only is it taken on opening day, but it is also taken at Yaksie's, where Chris and I found ourselves so many times on Friday nights after work. It was 2 blocks from our apartment, and it was an easy choice when we didn't want to cook and wanted to get out for the night. I think we contributed to the rent of the place during that year by ordering our usual: 10 wings, pizza, fries, and a couple beverages.
I am celebrating Chris' birthday today because she is such a great friend to me. She and I have been through a lot together, and I'm thankful that she was there with me through these years. We've traveled to places together like Ireland, DC, and Vegas, and have had too many laughs to count. It doesn't matter what we're doing or where we are, as long as we're together, we have fun. And like I've said before, we never run out of things to talk about. That is a sign of a true friend. And Chris is a true friend, indeed.
Happy Birthday, Chris! I hope you spend this day doing something you love.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
We'll have a few un-Marquette related meals to eat and time to kill while we're there, so I began thinking about some of my favorite Milwaukee spots. And because we're usually in Milwaukee when the windchill is below zero, I thought about my favorite summer Milwaukee spots to enjoy this time. Uh, summer in Wisconsin? Why, frozen custard of course. And frozen custard in Milwaukee? Why, Kopp's or Leon's frozen custard of course.
You may have tried frozen custard at one of the chains like Culver's, but I have to say, the custard in Milwaukee puts all those wanna-be's to shame. You can't beat the taste nor the experience of frozen custard in Milwaukee.
The two I mentioned are the favorites of Milwaukeeans, and each has its merits. Leon's has the fame of being the place that inspired "Al's Diner" on Happy Days. I tend to lean toward the Kopp's camp, because they feature flavors of the day and have calendars printed and ready each month so you can plan accordingly. I think you all know I'm a planner.
So in the spirit of planning the food surrounding our trip, aside from Stein suggesting we get into Chicago early picking up Chris to have lunch at Hot Doug's, I thought a pilgrimage to Kopp's would be in order. But first I had the good-planning sense to check their menu. Of course it's now online. (What did we do in college before the Internet?) I was hoping for 2 flavors to possibly be offered during the weekend we were there: Cookies and Cream, or Peanut Butter Cup. Either one would be fine with me. Insisting on both of them would be really greedy.
So what flavors will be offered this weekend? Take a look:
Friday, July 25, 2008
Friday, July 25, 2008
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Hey, I'm all in favor of the throw back to the German Milwaukee roots with the German Apple and that Bienen-whatever flavor, but come on. You couldn't throw a little Cookies and Cream or Peanut Butter Cup in the mix? I'm so disappointed.
Well, there's always another cold Milwaukee favorite to enjoy. You know the one. I'll be fine with a couple of those.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
It usually goes something like this:
1st person: Where are you from?
2nd person: The north side, or south side.
1st person: What neighborhood?
2nd person: Names the neighborhood.
1st person: What street(s)?
2nd person: Names the street(s) or intersection. If the 1st person doesn't look like s/he knows, the description could include things like, "It's about 20 minutes from the lake, or Wrigley Field, or downtown." (Everything is always about 20 minutes from each other)
1st person: Oh! I know _______ who lives there. Do you know him/her? or What grammar school did you go to? or I used to live there after college...
And on and on it goes, until you usually find out that in fact this person is a long lost cousin of yours, or was an altar boy at your sister's wedding, or had a friend who dated someone who went there once.
So I went through the motions with Dave, until we came to "What streets?". When he named streets that were in my neighborhood growing up, I asked the next logical Chicagoan question: "What grammar school did you go to?" And out of his mouth came the name of my grammar school. I think I may have said, "Shut up" at this point, I don't remember. Then I asked him his last name. When he told me, I couldn't believe it. In my school and the parish, there were a handful of families that dominated. These families were large ones, with multiple generations and extended family members also attending church or school in the parish.
When I told him my maiden name, he couldn't believe it either. Instantly, he started spewing information about my family and me like he was being interrogated about my identity. He knew all my siblings' names, my neighbors, etc. He is older than me, so he knew my siblings better than he knew me. Then we started talking and reminiscing about grammar school, remembering teacher's names, telling stories about different families.
I love when this happens. Because I don't live in Chicago anymore, it always amazes me when things like this happen. There I was, on a lake in Michigan, talking to someone who knew my roots, knew my experiences. I haven't kept in touch with anyone that far back in my life, so it always comes as such a surprise when I run into people that instantly relate to those past experiences.
It truly is a small world, after all.
Monday, July 21, 2008
We had our trip up north and then to Chicago, my weekend at Mickey's, my trip to Patty's lake party this past weekend, and this coming weekend we'll be heading to Milwaukee for my reunion at Marquette. After that, we have a wedding in Holland, MI, and 2 weeks later I'm heading into Chicago for the air and water show, and then returning with Chris so we can both fly to Baltimore to see Karen while she's stateside.
Whew! As I just typed all this out, I got a little exhausted. I haven't felt this way since I traveled for work, and that was more frequent. But it's all good and a lot of fun. All of these trips mean time spent with family and friends, eating good food, laughing, catching up and reminiscing.
Just like the good time I had at Patty's lake party this past weekend. (You remember Patty from the fabulous day I had on her boat in Chicago? By the way, it's her birthday today - Happy Birthday Patty!) Despite the crummy weather at the lake, we had a great time. A lot of my Chicago peeps (yes, I said peeps) were there, and it was great to catch up with everyone. We sat around under the porch eating and drinking and talking. And in between the rain, we went on pontoon boat rides where we continued the eating, drinking, and talking.
One of my favorite unplanned moments was Sunday morning when Chris and I were up before anyone else. We sat at the end of the dock on the bench and talked. We caught up on stuff, pondered important topics like the concept of fishing, and laughed about some of the conversations we had the night before. Guilt made us go back into the house when we saw people outside cleaning up the garbage from the party. We could've stayed out there all day, we both never seem to run out of things to talk about. We'll have more time this coming weekend when we go to Marquette for our reunion.
My bags will be packed, and I'll be ready to go.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Because I need to get prepared, I'm not going to write a long post. In fact, I'm just going to make a list of the things I need to blog about in the next few posts:
- The Lake Party this past weekend
- Stein's trip to DC to accompany WW II vets
- My co-teacher
- Procrastination (which I'm doing right now)
- Small world of Chicago
- Marquette reunion
I'll be back here sometime soon, depending on how much time I need for planning and preparing for the rest of the week.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
The picture above was taken when I stood over the sink with a pint of strawberries. Just bought the day before, they had to be eaten that day or they would face the horrible fate of being moldy and thrown out. One by one, they became part of my production line: through the water, and into my mouth, with the stems going into the disposal. I thought it was a most efficient system, since I didn't dirty any dishes, and finished the entire pint in one sitting (or standing, ahem). I like to think that my body was very antioxidized that day. Yay me.
I think my daily reading of Soule Mama and Gluten-Free Girl's blogs has really started to change my thinking about fresh food. I have not gotten to the point where I will only be eating foods that are in season (I can't bear the winter in itself, let alone with only root vegetables to eat). But I have definitely gotten to the point where I am more cognizant about what I am preparing and what I am using in my preparation.
Stein and I have never been packaged-food people, and rarely eat things out of boxes. But lately I have been making more of an effort to be creative about what I'm making by planning out 2-3 days of dinners and seeing what goes well together. Like the beer-can chicken on Sunday night, and then the chicken salad on Monday. I know it doesn't sound hard, but it's a big step for us. We are guilty of buying a spice for one dish and never using the spice if we don't make the dish again. It has now become a goal of mine not to throw anything in our refrigerator out.
And yes, it has a lot to do with having more time on my hands. More time to think, more time to plan, more time to enjoy. Just like the other day when I made this smoothie with vanilla yogurt, strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries:
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
I used what little leftovers we had the next day to make chicken salad. I make it with mayo, a bit of sour cream, walnuts, chives, celery, and red onion. (Adding grapes or dried cranberries is good too, but I didn't have those on hand.)
So if you're a big fan of chicken on the grill, give this recipe a try. It's super-easy, and tastes super-yummy. Enjoy!
Monday, July 14, 2008
- Eating outside. In the backyard, at an outdoor restaurant, wherever.
- Fresh fruits. They taste so good when they're in season, don't they? Sweet, juicy, delicious.
- Fresh basil. Just waiting to be made into pesto, or put in tomato salads.
- Baseball. Little league games on a Friday evening, watching MLB games on TV.
- Hammocks. Napping outside. Need I say more?
- Windows open at night, breeze blowing in while I sleep.
- Popsicles. Or ice cream. Or smoothies.
- Mornings. The sun shining bright, the possibilities endless.
- Blue skies with wispy clouds. Perfect for daydreaming.
- Bike riding. Whizzing by the landscape as I coast down a hill.
- Fresh vegetables. Picked from gardens tended by friends.
- Long days. But sometimes it still doesn't feel long enough to savor every minute.
- Fresh cut grass. Fresh picked flowers.
- Knowing that there are still a couple months of warm weather left.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
School is going well. I still won't have my group until a week from Monday, but the planning Mandi and I have been doing has been good. It's a good lesson in collaboration, curriculum, and staying on task. I have found on more than one occasion that my ADD (undiagnosed, of course) has kicked in. I like to call it my "thinking time", when I'm sharpening my pencil, getting a snack, or chatting with the director of the program. I think it makes for a more productive worker.
It has been a nice break to have just a half day of work. My afternoons are free to do what I please. I'm hoping to make them a little more productive with a trip to the gym thrown into the mix. But don't worry, I won't push it.
I went to Mickey's on Thursday afternoon to help her sketch a plan for next year. She is continuing a literacy program with her class which is really exciting (yes, we are geeks). We were bouncing ideas off of one another, and building the framework for what will be her weekly lessons. I enjoy doing this, especially when the planning is done in Starbucks with an iced drink. I like to try to visualize what is going on in the classroom and make a plan. I think my many years as a trainer for Einstein Bros. helped develop this skill. We made a pretty good start. Mickey still needs to fill in some of the gaps, but hopefully she has the main framework to do so.
Aside from helping Mickey with the planning, I was able to visit with my nieces and nephews and catch up with their busy lives. It was rare that they all were home at the same time, so I was able to see each one individually to catch up. I don't know why, but when each one of them was talking to me, I kept seeing the little kids in all of them. Memories of times when they would come over to Grammie's house on a regular basis flooded my mind. It was like one of the many scenes from Father of the Bride, when Steve Martin reminisces about his daughter and suddenly a little kid is talking. Each one of the kids are at different places in their lives, all very busy with summer work, camps, and meeting up with friends. It was nice to just be a fixture for a few days, watching while they came in and out at different times of the day.
Oh, and we ate. One of the highlights was a trip to Portillo's for a Chicago style hot dog. Oh mama, there's nothing like it. A Vienna beef hot dog on a steamed poppy seed bun, with mustard, tomatoes, sport peppers and a pickle (I skipped the relish and onions). Fries and a coke topped off the meal, as if I needed some extra sugar and grease. Man, did that taste good.
Friday morning, Mickey made scones. From scratch. I was impressed. She had some blueberries from their CSA bag, so she decided to bake them into delicious scones. That was our breakfast both Friday and Saturday morning. Yum.
I came home yesterday afternoon, and we went out to dinner with Dean and Beth last night. It was warm and sticky when we first sat down, so we stayed inside. But after dinner, the weather was perfect for sitting outside for drinks and dessert. It was nice to be outside yet once again. Thank you, summer. Have I told you lately how happy I am that you're here?
Monday, July 7, 2008
We were actually stopped on the side of the river waiting for our friends in the other canoe. We learned later that they tipped their canoe. Whoops. I made it home just in time that afternoon for a really bad thunderstorm. A lot of people were out of power, but luckily we weren't affected.For the Fourth, Stein and I were invited to a party at a friend's parent's lake house. They live on the same lake as most of Stein's friends from high school. I know I've blogged about being out there before, I just can't remember when. Anyway, they have a party every year, but this was the first year we were invited. It was a really nice party, with a lot of good food. I should've taken a picture of the tables of food, but forgot. Since everyone on the lake was out of power, and septic tanks need power, they had port-a-potties set up. I felt like I was back in college at a big outdoor party. (Except there wasn't anyone getting sick, and the port-a-potties didn't stink.) Toward the end of the night, we all congregated on the pontoon boats tied up together by their dock. This is the sunset we caught:The next night, we were back out on the same lake for fireworks. Matt and Anne invited everyone over for dinner and then we watched the fireworks. I love fireworks. There's nothing like hearing the booms of the big ones that also resonate in your chest. The different colors look so cool against the black backdrop of the sky. Although I have to say, fireworks on the Fourth give me kind of a bittersweet feeling. I'm happy because I love to see them, but it also means that summer is about halfway over. You all know how I feel about summer. And winter. I tried to take a picture of the fireworks, but wasn't quick enough. Here's one that turned out okay. Maybe I need to read the owner's manual for the camera since I haven't done that yet.
We ended the night sitting around the fire at Dean and Beth's house. A perfect ending for a great summer night.
Stein and I also took a bike ride on Saturday afternoon on a trail that we had never been on. It was nice to be out on our bikes again. We stopped for lunch at a restaurant downtown and ate outside. I was in my glory with all things summer converging this weekend.
Today I started back at school for the summer program. So far so good, but I won't have my kids to teach for another 2 weeks. They are involved in an African American camp where they're learning all kinds of cool stuff about the culture. In the meantime, I am working with my friend Mandi on the lessons for the 3rd and 4th grade teachers.
I do have to say that it was nice being back with kids today. They seemed to be happy to be there too, surprisingly. I have to remember that school for a lot of these kids is better than their home lives. Reason #641 why I am thankful for the upbringing I had.
Thursday, July 3, 2008
So, if you want to make this, here are some tips: the recipe calls for pork (which I think would be delicious!), but I used stew meat instead. I bet you could also use chicken. I just cut up the stew meat so it was relatively uniform in size and shape. I tried to get the pieces as long and flat as possible so they could lay on the grill when skewered. The recipe calls for 1 kilo of meat. That's roughly 2.2 pounds of meat. I boiled some of the marinade and then stir fried some vegetables in the marinade. While the taste was sweet, I felt like it was missing something, possibly salt? I was afraid with the soy sauce, though, that it would be salty enough. Oh well, you live and learn.
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
I was there with my Aunt Connie and my cousin Michael, visiting my cousin's relatives there (who I refer to as aunt and uncle, even though they're of no relation to me). We flew into Portland and stayed for a few days at my aunt's relatives' beach house, or as they call them in Maine, their "camp". It was a big, beautiful Victorian house, complete with a wrap-around porch, a turret, and Adirondack chairs on the expansive lawn in front of the house. A small climb down the hill landed you on the beach, where my cousin and I spent most of our time.
The weather for the most part was beautiful while we were there. Except one day when a storm came through. The house took on a whole new look and feel. In the morning, we were all confined to the spaces in this house, and huddled in the small kitchen while we ate breakfast. My aunt requested some bagels from Chicago, since at that time bagels were hard to come by in remote places (I don't think Lender's were around). We gladly brought a couple dozen from our favorite bagel bakery.
While the rain poured down and the air stayed cool, my aunt made hot chocolate for my cousin and me, and coffee for the adults. Then she grabbed a freshly toasted bagel and smeared it with peanut butter. This was a foreign concept to me. I was a strictly butter-on-my-bagel girl (cream cheese didn't even appeal to me then), and peanut butter only belonged with grape jelly on sandwich bread. But when I tasted the peanut butter on the bagel, I was hooked. And then the combination of the hot chocolate and the peanut butter bagel was wonderful.
It always amazes me how our senses and memories are so intertwined. Something as simple as a cool summer morning brings me back 25 years ago to a beach in Portland, Maine. And this same memory triggers a craving in me, prompting me to get out the toaster, peanut butter, and hot chocolate and make the same breakfast. Yum.
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
We could've - but he was an hour late walking through the door. At that point, we had waited to eat dinner, started dinner, and were ready to sit down to eat. Stein made a couple phone calls to the company to ask where the heck the guy was. "He'll be there in 10 minutes," was the first answer. The guy finally arrived, apologized for being late (didn't give a reason though), and pretended like he didn't know the measurements of any of the windows. Since we were eating dinner outside, Stein showed him into the house and told him to come out to tell us his number when he was done. He got done measuring in a much faster time than the previous guy. Hmmm.
He walked outside, gave us a quick recap of everything the other guy told us, and offered us $25 off each window. This only brought the total price down by $600. I kept saying to Stein that I couldn't believe that they would spend the gas money to come out to see us when we really weren't that interested, and then the "new" offer wasn't that much better. It doesn't make sense to me, but I guess that's why I'm not selling windows.
The guy promised that this was the last contact they would make. If we were interested in getting the windows, we should call for this "limited time only" offer. I'm not so sure we're done with these guys. Of course, more contact would mean more fodder for the blog. Bring it on!