Maps or GPS?

I trusted Lola (my GPS system) to get Kim and me to the hotel in Warsaw. She had done a fine job the year before, so I had no reason to doubt her abilities this year. I should have known something was not quite right when I could not locate the place I stopped at for lunch last year. The landscape was familiar, but doesn’t one suburb area look much like another especially when you are not from the area? Finally, we gave up and stopped for lunch. I just knew it would be in the next shopping center down the road, but it wasn’t. We never saw the center from my memory. I should have known, she was leading me down a different path.

We did need to take a small detour because of an accident, but Lola recalculated and put us on a road to Warsaw. We arrived just in time to pick up our registration packets and meet up with friends. Once we were in Warsaw, I had a guide to help me navigate the streets, so Lola was put away.

Saturday was going to be a day of exploration. Kim and I planned on driving north into Amish territory to view garden quilts and devour treats not to be missed (according to the natives of the area). With general directions, we set off to find Das Dutchman Essenhaus for breakfast. No help from Lola was needed. It was after breakfast when we encountered our first quandary.

We were able to locate our first garden quilt in the yard behind the Essenhaus. Of course the grass was drenched in dew, so our shoes were soaked walking to view the garden (no path was available :-( ).

Bowtie garden at Essenhaus

Bowtie garden at Essenhaus

Now on to the next location, but where were we exactly? This garden was in the middle of a triangle on our map and the roads on the map were not labeled. mapWe plunged ahead looking to find something labeled on the map to give us a reference point. After a stop in a small shop, we were able to locate our second garden.

Waterwheel at Krider Gardens

Waterwheel at Krider Gardens

While studying the garden and our map, a man drove up to take photos of bikers on the trail. We politely asked for help to determine where in the world were we? It was when we mentioned we were seeking the Rise ‘N Roll Bakery, he became friendlier. His eyes lit up knowingly at the treat we were searching for. With his directions, we were on our way to begin our foray into overdosing on sugar.

Cinnamon Caramel donut, their specialty.

Cinnamon Caramel donut, their specialty.

 

Rise ‘N Roll was a hopping place and many donuts were being consumed. If you are in the neighborhood, this is a treat not to miss. I also bought a quart of pickled baby beets. Yum!

Sugar high set in and we were off to find our next quilt. Now that we had a point of reference, we were good for the rest of the morning.

Dutchman's Puzzle at Menno-Hof

Dutchman’s Puzzle at Menno-Hof

Goldie's Basket at Farmstead Inn

Goldie’s Basket at Farmstead Inn

But it was time to start the trek back to Missouri, and long hours in the car were ahead of us. First, we needed lunch and the locals dictated we must go to the Blue Gate for pie. Once again the recommendation was spot on. I enjoyed the seasonal Key Lime, while Kim savored every bite of the German Chocolate pie.

Lola was called into action as we wanted to head for home. Her idea was go to Chicago, then down Illinois to Missouri. I was not so sure of that, so we began to retrace our steps going back to Warsaw. She was not happy and constantly wanted to guide us away from our route. Finally I unplugged her and we broke out the backup map. (In retrospect, I suppose I should have listened to her.)

Once we were back to Warsaw, we gave her another chance. Her route seemed odd. Kim took out her iPad and used the map app. It seemed a better route. We followed the iPad. As I drove, whisperings in my mind began to tickle my memory. This was the route from the previous year. There was the shopping area I had eaten at last year!

Lola, I wonder if you need to retire. My faith in you has been compromised. Kim warned me that you were not always thinking clearly. I think I will have to analyze your route and the app’s route next time I plan to go somewhere.

 

Lost and Found on Pinterest

Pinterest is dangerous. Once you enter that world you could lose many hours of your time. When you leave that world, images might linger in your mind and you want to return to explore more. Then you begin to rush through life so you can feed your Pinterest fix.

I have dabbled in Pinterest for several years, but now I have leaped into the waters of Pinterest in a serious way (at least for me). My broken foot has clipped my traveling wings. I am tethered to the house (unless someone wants to drive me somewhere). I turned to Pinterest for inspiration. Boy did I find it! Tired of same old, same old dinner options? Type in an ingredient in the search and you have pictures galore of tasty treats.

This is how I found myself in trouble one day. I found a recipe for a salad dressing. Maple syrup and basalmic vinegar, mmm, on a spinach and apple salad. Perfect! I have all ingredients needed.

I used my iPad to create the dressing. We had the salad for lunch and loved it. I had not pinned it yet because I wanted to see if we liked it.

After lunch I went back to the iPad to pin it, but where is it? The link disappeared from the Pinterest site when I turned off the iPad. I thought it would still be there when I turned it back on.

Now the mental exercise had to begin. I had found this from another recipe I had checked out. Reconstructing my path was painful. I tried several different searches, but did not come up with the right recipe. Eventually I was able to find the recipe and I immediately pinned it.

I’ve learned my lesson. If you see something interesting grab it quick so it will be there later and you can always delete it then.

The recipe is from Lauren’s Latest.

New Favorite Salad
yield: for 1 person

Ingredients:
for the salad-
2 cups lettuce or baby spinach
2 slices garlic & herb deli turkey
2 tablespoons toasted, chopped pecans
1/3 fuji apple, diced
1-2 tablespoons shaved parmesan cheese

for the dressing-
makes enough for large dinner salad
1 clove garlic, finely minced (if I was making this for my husband, I’d do half a clove–its garlicy stuff)
2 tablespoons maple syrup, honey or something sweet
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup light flavored olive oil or canola oil
salt
pepper

Directions:
Pour all ingredients for dressing into a leak proof container or into the bottom of a bowl. Shake or whisk until dressing has emulsified. Set aside.
Make salad by placing all ingredients into a bowl or onto a large plate. Top with desired amount of dressing.

Breakfast Out

Sunday evening, my husband and I realized that we didn’t have to be anywhere on Monday. That realization brought big smiles to our faces. “You want to go out for breakfast?” he asked me.

“Definitely!” I responded.

There’s a little breakfast/lunch place that we love to visit. Some would refer to it as “a hole in the wall” kind of place. Weekends are crazy busy there. People wait for an hour to get in and have a bit of comfort breakfast food.

On Monday there is no wait, we have our choice in seating. I chose the booth (wrong choice for me, read on for reason). We settle in, coffee comes quickly. I notice my usual choice is the special today, $1 off. I am tempted by the cinnamon swirled French toast, but stay with my usual. Two eggs over easy, sausage links, hash browns, plus a biscuit smothered in white sausage gravy will fill me up until dinnertime.

As we wait, sipping coffee, I notice there is a cold draft blowing on my right leg. I reach down to check if it is true or am I imagining. Yes, there is a definite draft blowing. I tell my husband about this cold air, he feels nothing. Maybe it is a draft from the windows at the booth behind me. Must be, I figure. This is an old building.

My food arrives, eating distracts me from the uncomfortable feeling from the cold draft. Once I finish, I am again noticing this cold air. I move over on the booth seat. It’s a little better. Wait, the air is following me. I move over more, if I move again I will be sitting on the floor.

My husband looks under the table. There is a vent on the floor, next to the wall. Someone has placed a magazine over the vent to block the air flow. It has been shifted, allowing air to escape. Apparently they did not like the arctic blast blowing against their leg either. With my toe, I readjust the magazine. The polar blast subsided. I sure wish I’d figured this out earlier. Next time I won’t select this booth, but if there is cold air blowing, I will look for the source rather than endure it.

photo 2 (6)

Gailey’s, where we love to go for breakfast.

Rueben

One day, when I was in high school, my father came home and told my mother about the most delicious sandwich he’d ever tasted. He described the ingredients Thousand Island dressing, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and corned beef on grilled bread. It sounded horrendous. Thousand Island dressing on a sandwich with sauerkraut? Really?

He was insistent that my mother recreate this concoction. She did and I fell in love with Rueben. The tang of the sauerkraut intermingling with the melted cheese, and the creaminess of the dressing created mouthfuls of deliciousness. The love affair with this sandwich didn’t even begin with real corned beef.

This is the type of corned beef we used. That can was deadly to open. I sliced my thumb several times on the edges.

This is the type of corned beef we used. That can was deadly to open. I sliced my thumb several times on the edges.

We were using the canned variety (we were ignorant when it came to the ways of corned beef in those days). Also, we used wheat bread, not rye. I guess my dad didn’t like rye.

Now, I am a bit of a Rueben snob. When I see it on a menu, I want to order it, but only after a few essential questions are answered. Do you use Thousand Island dressing (not mustard)? Is this grilled or on toasted bread? If it is toasted, I will not waste my time or calories.

It is unfortunate that there are waitresses out in the world telling people their Rueben is grilled, when in fact it was toasted. I was not a happy customer when my sandwich arrived.

However, I have found a place where the cook knows how to make a Rueben extraordinaire. Shane of Shane’s Joint creates a masterpiece of a sandwich. He not only grills the bread, but he also grills the corned beef. Watch out! The filling of this sandwich is hot! Swiss cheese melts down the mound of sauerkraut and corned beef like cheesy lava. The Thousand Island dressing slides on bringing all the ingredients to a perfect blending. The bread is grilled to crisp perfection.

The added bonus to this crispy, melty mess is a side of homemade potato chips, crunchy and warm. Handy to scoop up a bit of sauerkraut that escaped from the bread. Mmmmm!

Before

Before

After

After

One Soup, Three Flavors

Check out more slices at Two Writing Teachers

Check out more slices at Two Writing Teachers

The first snow brought temperatures that don’t even belong in the deep freezer. The only way to combat the chilly outside is to have something warm to put inside oneself. Soup to the rescue!

recipe book

I have a cookbook of 1,000 soup recipes. After I purchased the book, I read over each recipe and left flag markers on pages of recipes that sparked my interest. These flags have been hanging in there for years. I must confess, I have not been faithful to this cookbook. Finding recipes are so easy on-line, plus you often have the added bonus of a photo.

Before I headed to the store to stock up before the weather arrived, I checked my cookbook. I made my list and purchased my groceries. I was ready for soup making!

Once home I studied my list of soups and my ingredients. Easy Tortilla soup would be first. I had some cilantro that needed to be used. As I looked over the ingredients I decided it needed to be supplemented. So I added chopped chicken and corn to the pot. Soup was served and enjoyed. It wasn’t until after dinner I realized I forgot to put the cilantro in. Whoops!

The next day I grabbed the leafy greens from the fridge so I could chop some cilantro up and add it to the soup. I figured heating it in the microwave would be comparable to five minutes on the stove. As I ate the soup, I couldn’t really taste the unique flavor of the cilantro. It was more bitter. That left me puzzled.

It must have been weighing on my mind because later in the evening I knew why it tasted bitter. I didn’t put cilantro in, I chopped up some Italian parsley that I had purchased for another soup. Whoops again!

There was just enough soup left for a small bowl for lunch. I was determined to get that cilantro into the soup. This time I grabbed the right bundle of leafy greens, chopped them, and put them into the soup to cook for five minutes on the stove. Yup, there was the cilantro taste I’d been looking for.

The lesson from this is to reread the recipe when you think you are finished just to make sure you really are finished adding all the ingredients.

Celebrations

Has your week been a flurry of activity? Have you been elbow deep into food preparation? Or perhaps you were one of the weary travelers on the road to spend Thanksgiving with family or friends who live afar. Celebrations can be lost in all the hubbub of activity. This week I tried to imprint on my brain what I needed to celebrate today. (I know it would be easier if I’d take a moment to jot them down, but I didn’t. Maybe next week I’ll try that out.)

At one time, I had a fleeting thought that I’d love to hop in the car and head to California to spend Thanksgiving with my son and his family. But sanity reigned me in. My heart was consoled by the thought that they will be here for Christmas, so just wait. I celebrate that decision because we would have been caught in the terrible weather that passed through Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico. Who knows what disaster may have fallen upon our vehicle.

I celebrate that I don’t have to worry with cleaning the house. My husband put the house in order while I prepared food for our Thanksgiving feast. I tried a new pie this year. If you get Southern Living magazine, you will recognize this pie from the cover. It is a chocolate-caramel pecan pie. When I brought it out, my niece squealed with delight. She had seen it on the cover and wanted to try it, but had not. It was incredibly decadent. Here is a link to the recipe: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/caramel-chocolate-pecan-pie-50400000131247/.

This was taken before the caramel sauce was added to the pie.

This was taken before the caramel sauce was added to the pie.

(Side note: I did not make the salted caramel topping, but heated an ice cream caramel topping and drizzled it over the top before serving.)

I celebrate being able to spend time with family. They all live fairly close, but rarely do we ever seem to have time to meet up. Thanksgiving Day we were able to sit back and enjoy one another’s company while sharing great food.

The lights have been put up on the house and we celebrate the man who will come to do this for us since we do not like heights anymore.

Inside the house we begin to bring out the decorations of Christmas to celebrate this season. At one time, this was the biggest celebration in our house. Now, often we are not home for the holidays so we decorate minimally. This year, the tree is up and bits of Christmas can be found in each room. As we put up ornaments on the tree many memories of our life came flooding back. As Pete the Cat would say, “It’s all good!”

I hope you have been able to rest during this break and find the moments of celebration each day.

 

 

Another Week of Celebrations

Have you noticed all the celebrations that seem to pop up in your day? Moments that would be mentally acknowledged with a smile in your mind, now become a small hug to yourself as you revisit them again and share with the world what you celebrated this week. Here is how I celebrated this week:

Monday: I met up with my girlfriends to share a burger and beverage. There is a fine dining restaurant (entrees are $30 and that does not include salad) that has its bar in the basement and they serve great burgers for cheap during their happy hour. The first time I visited this place was on my birthday this year. That’s when I knew I’d be returning with my best buds. Of course it was a celebration just to be with my friends, but there was an added bonus. On this night the bar was implementing a new menu of burgers and they were only . . . are you ready? . . . an unbelievable price . . . $1.00! Yes, you read that right! One measly dollar for a rather large burger, any burger on their menu. I jumped on the one with blue cheese (my favorite!). The burgers came plain but there was a fixings bar set up so you could dress it any way you wanted. Let me say YUM!

Tuesday: A kindergarten teacher sent me a request for a poem that I had used with them. She could not find her copy, could I please send this to her. Poem sent. Moments later a new email appeared in my inbox.

email

Sometimes you just need to read this.

Wednesday: I spent the morning with a fifth grade teacher and got to model Kylene Beers’s strategy of Tea Party using Carnivores by Aaron Reynolds. If you don’t know Tea Party, check it out here. The fifth graders loved it! As they read their strips, they were to figure out who the characters were and what seems to be the problem. None of the strips had any of the characters named on them but they did have clues. Who do you think might be a “bad kitty,” or a “husky fish with a healthy appetite.”

Side note to the name of this strategy. A seventh grade teacher mentioned that the name of this strategy did not set well with her kids, so they renamed it Strip Tease. Yup, middle school and high school could definitely get behind an activity with that name. :-)

The rest of the day was spent with  teachers of grades 4-8 exploring close reading and the first writing standard. The good news is I was prepared to discuss all the standards, so most of my work for January is ready! Celebrate that! because January is going to be a crazy month for me. (Praying there are no snow days!)

Thursday: I had the opportunity to watch the musical “Cats” put on by the high school kids of my school district I retired from. As I perused the cast list, I discovered one of my former Reading Recovery students was Mr. Mistoffelees. What a fabulous job these kids did! It makes you proud to see how they have grown from first grade.

Friday: I went to a new food truck lot where I had a taste of England. It was a pasty (pass-tee), a meat and potato handheld pie. It was tasty and I know I will return to this truck, but maybe on a little warmer day. However, I also celebrate that my friend was able to attend a conference on this day and hear Georgia Heard speak. I know I will also get to learn from Georgia Heard through my friend. So I celebrate the new thinking in nonfiction writing that will be coming my way.

Saturday: The day is young, I wonder, what celebrations lie in store for me today?

What have you celebrated this week?