welcome ... enjoy yourself

Sunday, March 31, 2013

happy easter!

Happy Easter Sunday!  I'm making quiche and cinnamon rolls for our Easter brunch.  Can't wait for them to be in my belly!  Hope you have a great day :) 

Saturday, March 30, 2013

lent letters recap

This Lent, I set out to write forty letters/notes/postcards in forty days.  I didn't get quite to forty, so I plan on finishing up the last letters this week.  I loved this Lent project.  I had such a good time writing to people and got a little thrill each time I dropped another letter in the mail.  It gave me an excuse to go to Beans and Barley to pick up pretty cards and to go to the post office to pick out the latest-greatest stamps.  Unless I get a great idea for next year, I may make this a tradition since it put me in an others-minded state in such a positive, happy way.  It made my little heart smile thinking of my friends and family getting little reminders that I was thinking of them.  

How did your Lent go? 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

getting fancy

Inspired by the port and brandy we enjoyed at the Inn San Francisco, Paul and I got fancy and bought our own whiskey and port bottles.  We bought a cheap port and a medium priced whiskey to keep out for a little evening enjoyment.  We picked up the bottles and glasses from Dragonfly, a great vintage-modern-eclectic store on Brady Street in Milwaukee.  We've been getting a lot of use out of them, and it's been so fun to share with friends who come over for dinner.  I love me some entertaining! 

Why kinds of special things to like to have out for guests?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

oscar romero service (in i-phone photos)

This weekend, our community hosted an Oscar Romero service with All People's Church, a Lutheran church close to our neighborhood.  It was my first time at All People's, and I was so impressed with the people I met from their church community and with the church itself.  This building is a hidden gem - such beautiful architecture, stained glass windows, and artwork! 

Oscar Romero is one of my social justice heories heroes.  I first learned about him in 7th grade thanks to this filmMrs. Guarino showed us (weird - I have totally forgetten how to spell my teacher's name!).  Here's a bit about the Salvadoran Archbishop that we shared at the service: 

In the 1970’s and early 80’s in El Salvador, a violent and oppressive military government kidnapped and executed dissenters. When Oscar Romero became Archbishop of San Salvador on Feb. 22, 1977, he was expected to remain quiet about the situation. Instead, he became an outspoken critic of violence and injustice. Our faith, Romero said, must cause us to speak out; we cannot remain in silence.  Today, we are still inspired by the words of San Romero de las Americas and we pray that we might listen to his words carefully and follow his example in challenging injustice in our world, especially in the Latin American region he loved.

Romero was killed on March 24, 1980, by a military assassin while he was saying mass.  The Salvadoran civil war started after his death until 1981 and ended with peace talks in 1992.  Before his death, Romero prophecized that if he were killed, he would rise again in the Salvadoran people.  His prophecy proved correct as Romero is remembered for being a hero and martyr both in El Salvador and around the world.  We also shared the prayer that is often attributed to Romero, but was actually written by Bishop Ken Untener.  The prayer captures the essence of what many social justice advocates strive to remember and work for  

It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view. The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision. We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.

Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us. No statement
says all that could be said. No prayer fully expresses our faith. No confession brings perfection. No pastoral visit brings wholeness. No program accomplishes the Church’s mission. No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

This is what we are about. We plant the seeds that one day will grow. We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise. We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.

This enables us to do something, and to do it very well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.

We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own.

Since Paul helped organize the event, he asked me to speak about my Jesuit martyr paintings.  I was very brave, and said "yes, of course I will!"  The Jesuit martyrs knew Romero and came to have a deep respect for him - their legacies and messages are closely tied.  It was such an honor to share about my paintings again, and I was excited to find out that All People's will be displaying the framed picture in their sanctuary!  

What a great way to spend a Sunday - justice and ecumenism!  Here's a link to my friend Laura's blog who currently works at All People's and links to my previous posts on the Jesuit martyrs (parts 1 and 2).

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


I found this adorable book while stalking the Anthropologie book site and requested it from the library to steal all the delicious Miette recipes.  A few weeks later we booked our trip to San Francisco, and I had an internal squeal of excitement: I could visit "San Francisco's most charming pastry shop" in person!  Which is exactly what we did!  I love when life affords you these little special possibilities: the combination of books, an adventure, and desserts! 

Though I didn't visit any other pastry shops on our trip, I think Miette has a good claim on being the city's most charming pastry shop.  I loved the color and ambiance of the shop and also appreciated their use of organic ingredients.  I had a hard time deciding on just one treat so I sampled the graham cracker cookies, a really tasty cupcake, and a pack of lemon ginger mints.  Since I don't think I'll be able to go back anytime soon, I'm glad I have access to the recipe book to recreate my favorite treats.  (If I get really desperate I can also take advantage of their mail order option, but I think making it myself is probably more in my budget.)

I plan on trying the graham cracker cookie recipe first!  Looks simple, and I already know how tasty they are.  I'll let you know if they turn out well!

Monday, March 25, 2013

make me smile monday

"In many shamanic societies, if you came to a medicine person complaining of being disheartened, dispirited, or depressed, they would ask one of four questions: "When did you stop dancing? When did you stop singing? When did you stop being enchanted by stories? When did you stop being comforted by the sweet territory of silence?"
This made me smile today, hope you enjoy it too!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

peanut butter tofu pie

I recently busted out this old JVC favorite for pi day.  I found the original peanut butter tofu pie recipe in a vegan dessert recipe book I checked out from the Onondaga County library (hint: the key to vegan desserts is to replace all of the dairy with sugar.  I'm only slightly kidding).  Unfortunately I lost that recipe, so now now I just use this recipe I found on the interwebs. 

Combine 16 oz soft tofu1 cup creamy peanut butter3/4 cup white cane sugar2 tablespoons (soy, almond, or low-fat) milk, and 2 teaspoons of vanilla with stand up mixer or in blender or food processor.  I have found that a stand up mixer is the easiest way to mix this thick pie; a blender will create a smoother texture, but your blender will not be happy with you and may start smoking.  Add pie mixture to pie crust; I like using a graham cracker crust. 

If you want to get really fancy, you can add a little chocolate the way I used to.  I melted 1-2 cups chocolate chips in a double boiler on the stove top.  Pour melted chocolate over pie crust and refrigerate until hard.  Add peanut butter tofu mixture on top after chocolate has hardened.

If you're new to tofu, I say be adventurous and give this pie a try!  Because tofu doesn't really have any flavor on it's own, it works well in this pie recipe to calm down the richness of the peanut butter-sugar combination.  Hope you enjoy!  

Here is photographic evidence that I made this delicious pie in JVC (summer 2008).  What better way to celebrate Father's Day than with a hoosier daddy party complete with outdoor beer pong and flip cup?  JVC parties didn't get much better than this (PBR can should be sufficient proof).  Pictured above: my roommate Kara, Paul, his roommate Vanessa and his (my future) roommate Rachel!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

signs of spring and love

My favorite part of spring is that it brings signs of hope when you most need it.  Seeing a forecast of negative seven with windchill for today has me doubting the calendar, but I know I'm ready for a break from this cold.  Others I talk to from around the country are more than ready too.  At the end of all this bleakness, we pay extra close attention to our surroundings, on the look out for any sign of warmth and new life.  

In the midst of this never ending winter, I found the first sign of spring during a walk through our neighborhood.  Small snowbells peaking up out of the snow covered ground.  If I hadn't been on the look out for new growth, I could have easily walked right by them.  

Over the weekend, we got sad news that  two of our good friends will be moving away.  One of these friends expressed his concerns about leaving friends but said that he needed to go so that his husband could take a new job opportunity.  He explained: "I have to do what's best for my family.  I can't stand in his way.  He is so excited about this.  I'm so proud of him."  I felt blown away by his sacrifice and his love.  

Signs of hope and love in the darkest of times. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

help, thanks, wow

Without revelation and reframing, life can seem like an endless desert of danger with scratchy sand in your shoes, and yet if we remember or are reminded to pay attention, we find so many sources of hidden water, so many bits and chips and washes of color, in a weed or the gravel or a sunrise.  There are so many ways to sweep the sand off our feet.  So we say, "Oh my God.  Thanks."  

Help, Thanks, Wow, the most recent book from spirituality writer Anne Lammott, is filled with these small tidbits of wisdom.  The book is short and sweet and hit me with its simple and profound approach to prayer.  Lamott, a recovering alcoholic with crazy dreads, brings her unique experience to her writing - she has her eyes open to the good and the bad and embraces it all in this book.  She writes about a day trip with two friends, one of whom is suffering from ALS and can no longer speak.  She is saddened by the decline of her friend's health, yet their time together makes Lamott reflect "I was so glad and so grateful to be there with them that day -- euphoric."  This book is a great guide to communicating your needs, gratitude, and awe to God - however you define or experience him or her.  Lamott is great about welcoming all different expressions and interpretations of God.  Loved her and love her latest book. 

We get to keep starting over.  Lives change, somethinmes quickly, but usually slowly.

If we stay where we are, where we're stuck, where we're comfortable and safe, we die there.  We become like mushrooms, living in the dark, with poop up to our chins.  If you want to know only what you already know, you're dying.  You're saying: Leave me alone; I don't mind this little rathole.  It's warm and dry.  Really, it's fine.

When nothing new can get in, that's death.  When oxygen can't find a way in, you die.  But new is scary, and new can be disappointing, and confusing -- we had all this figure out, and now we don't.

New is life.

Monday, March 18, 2013

make me smile monday

Here are a few things that are making me smile lately: beautiful daffodils that remind me of old friends...

a Snoopy bank found at my favorite Milwaukee vintage store...

and Paul's new pair of amazingly awesome party pants.  Also this French Minnie Mouse video called Le Croissant de Triomphe.  I think I'll have to reenact this when we go to Paris in a few months!

What has you smiling today?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

happy st. patrick's day!

My St. Patrick's Day involved some delicious "Irish car bomb" cupcakes and Irish soda bread (recipes found thanks to Mom and Mary Ellen!), a tea and smoothie date, and some nice time with our St. Francis community.  I think I've said "we're so lucky" about a dozen times this week to Paul.  We have so much love (and so many delicious baked goods) in our lives.  Must be the luck of the Irish! 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

mushroom onion tart

Last night's dinner combined two things I enjoy: things in the shape of pie and things that sound French.  I had a delicious  tart for brunch in San Francisco and decided to try to make one myself.  I found a solid recipe for a Mushroom Onion Tarte with Fig Goat Cheese from one of my favorite blogs: Reading my Tea Leaves.  I couldn't believe how easy this was to make.  I had been intimidated to try cooking something that sounded so French-fancy, but the tart was so tasty it will now be one of my go to recipes - especially since it's so simple to do variations on the basic recipe.   

Pie crust (I pre-cooked my store bought one for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees)
Olive oil
1 large yellow onion, sliced (I cut mine in fun circles)
1 regular sized container mushrooms, sliced
3 sprigs of thyme (I used about a half teaspoon of dried thyme)
½ cup cream
2 eggs
4 oz. fig goat cheese (I used 4 oz plain Costco goat cheese)
(Borrowed from Reading my Tea Leaves)

1. Heat olive oil in heavy bottomed saucepan and add onions.  Coat onions evenly in olive oil, turn heat to medium, put lid on pan.  Lift lid only to stir every few minutes.  Cook about 15-20 minutes or until onions begin to look golden-brown. 
2. Add mushrooms and thyme to pan.  Cook on med-low heat with lid on for about 10 minutes until brown sauce begins to develop. 
3. Pour onion/mushroom mix evenly into pie crust.  
4. Combine cream and egg in separate container.  Pour cream/egg mixture evenly on top of onion/mushroom mix.  Filling will not go to top of crust - which is a-o-k.
5. Add dolops of goat cheese on top of cream mixture.  If you can find fig jam, add tiny spoonfuls of jam onto tops of goat cheese spoonfuls. 
6. Bake in pre-heated oven at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes, until tarte is firm and top is golden brown. 

Let cool a bit, then slice up and enjoy.  I served my tarte with some roasted garlic rosemary potatoes.  Delicious!  

*I couldn't find any fig goat cheese or fig jam at my grocery store, so I improvised and just added a little raspberry jam to my slice of tarte after it baked.  I thought it tasted pretty good, but I imagine the fig jam would match the mushroom and onion flavors a little better.  Drizzling balsamic vinegar over the top of the baked tarte might also be worthy a try if you have to improvise.  

*Happy Pi(e) Day!  In honor of the holiday, I'll be making a tofu peanut butter pie for dessert tonight!  I like to pour a little melted chocolate onto a graham cracker crust before adding the tofu/peanut butter mixture.  Perfection!  My taste buds are excited. 

san francisco (part 2)

This weekend, we travelled to San Francisco to visit friends and get a break from the Wisconsin winter.  We stayed for a night in the Mission District at the coolest Bed and Breakfast called the Inn San Francisco: a huge Victorian house that survived the 1906 earthquake and fire.  After our dinner outing, we came back to the Inn and drank port and played cribbage (we're that cool).  For breakfast we enjoyed a huge spread of fresh fruit, quiche, muffins, and pie.  Happy belly.  We also...

climbed this curvy staircase to the roof for an amazing view.

soaked up the sun in the Inn's backyard oasis.

ventured out into the city and saw palm trees.  PALM TREES!

survived a drive down Lombard street.

explored the city by foot and caught glimpses of the city's famous bridges.

reunited with old former Jesuit Volunteers friends. 

breathed in fresh air under baby redwoods here.

enjoyed tea and gelatto in one of San Francisco's most famous districts...

the Haight Ashbury!  (pronounced hate ashbury)

experienced Full House nostalgia with another former Jesuit Volunteer friend.

stumbled across an urban farm complete with a seed library. 

walked through the Palace of Fine Arts.

and enjoyed lots of walks, food, and catch up time with another old friend.  

This was probably one of the best weekends of. my. life.  These four days felt like everything just came together so nicely, and the rejuvination that several days in the warm sunshine brings after a Wisonsin winter cannot be over exagerated.  Let's hear it for Vitamin D, fresh air, exercise, and fresh food!  Not pictured here: connecting with family over sushi and being mesmorized by the new Bay Bridge lights.  Life.is.so.good.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

san francisco (part 1)

And we're back!  Paul and I spent the weekend in San Francisco sightseeing, visiting friends, and enjoying the beautiful weather.  I was too tired to organize my pictures to share with you today, so you'll have to check back tomorrow to see them.  Hopefully you'll be satisfied with my new favorite picture of Paul and me.  I love that you can tell that we're so happy to be in the sunshine without winter coats on!  Nothing like it after months of cold and snow.

Friday, March 8, 2013

community supported agriculture

It's that time again - time to start planning my summer garden and sign up for my CSA box.  That's what everybody does in March right?

For those of you thinking I actually just meant I'll be signing up for some cable box that lets me watch CSI 24/7 - here's a little more about CSAs.

Community Supported Agriculture is designed to connect farmers in need of stable livelihoods to urban dwellers in need of healthy, fresh produce.  Farmers sell "shares" of their produce, and city folks who buy the share receive a weekly box of vegetables throughout the growing season.  Urban folks invest at the beginning of the season in local farms, sharing in the risk and reward of a farmer’s harvest.  If the summer is good, there will be a large benefit to CSA members in the form of lots of delicious vegetables.  If there were say heavy rains, droughts, or a plague of locusts, the harvest will not be as good for farmers or for CSA members.  This also means that the amount of food reaching a CSA member will align with the season.  In the Midwest, the amount and size of food in a CSA box will be much larger in August than in June.  Regardless of how much or how little the CSA member receives, they still pay the same flat rate and the farmer will be guaranteed a livelihood.

This is the fourth year that I’ll be participating in a CSA program.  This year, Paul and I will be splitting a 26 week share through LotFotL (Living Off the Fat of the Land) Farm with three friends.  This farm is fairly progressive for a CSA program.  We can pay for our CSA throughout the season (with online payment options) and can opt out for weeks we may be on vacation.  We also have the option of paying a little extra to receive fresh eggs throughout the season.  The best part of the CSA is pick up day - when we get together with our friends to prepare and share a meal from that week's harvest.  It's community at it's finest!  

Here's a few tips for first time users: 
Pick a convenient pick up location.  Farms will offer a central pickup location where participants can pick up their CSA box each week.  Remember, you don't want to waste tons of energy just to pick up your vegetables each week.  It would be a drag for you and for the environment to have to travel long distances to get your food!
Find a farm that meets your needs.  Be realistic about how much vegetables you will eat.  No point in buying a box that feeds 4-6 people, if you'll only be cooking for 2.
Be aware of how long the season lasts.  Shares can vary in their length of time.  Some may be as short as 16 weeks while others may last for most of the year depending on your climate.
Be adventurous!  Your CSA share will most likely contain vegetables you've never seen before.  Many farms will include a weekly newsletter with ideas on how to cook the food in that week's share.  Try it out, you may be surprised at what new culinary delights await you!  
To find a CSA near you, check out Local Harvest's Community Supported Agriculture page.  There are explanations of CSAs and a zipcode search to help you find a farm close to you.  To sign up for a CSA box, pick a farm that feels right to you, and follow the instructions for applying for a share.  Then, once the season starts, get ready for a steady influx of delicious fresh food!

I'll be sharing photos from my CSA box throughout the summer.  Feel free to share yours too!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

fill in the blank

I am woman, hear me roar. 
I think today will be a good day. 
I know what I know (Paul Simon).I wish that Spring would hurry up.
I hate having to give people bad news.
I miss my grandparents.
I fear not being able to find a long term home 
I hear coworkers talking.
I smell cream of wheat for breakfast!
I crave sugar, pretty much all the time.
I search for my calling.
I wonder what the future will bring.
I regret times that my worrying has gotten in the way of enjoying life.
I love so many things including friends, family, flowers, new babies, books, food, and sunshine.
I ache to feel settled.
I am not currently hungry.
I believe in a thing called love.
I dance when I clean our apartment.
I sing as loud as I can when I drive by myself.
I cry at movies all the time - especially at cute old couples in love.
I fight with Paul, and I've learned that's a good thing. 
I win at Settlers of Cataan. 
I lose my temper from time to time.
I never thought I'd live in Milwaukee, but I certainly enjoy it.
I always say "I've always wanted to ..."
I confuse lack of conflict with peace.
I listen to Kishi Bashi to cheer me up, Lady Gaga to get pumped up, Bon Iver at work, Katy Perry when I clean the house, and Carla Bruni when I'm feeling French.  
I can usually be found reading, working, painting, or watching Netflix.
I am scared of what will happen if we don't take care of our environment. 
I need a lover that won't drive me crazy
I am happy that we're going to San Francisco this weekend!!
I imagine a world without poverty and injustice.