Mocha, Mochi, and Momsickness

My sister came to stay with me last week and we had a great time. On my day off we headed to the Asian grocery. My sister was craving mochi, an Asisan treat of red bean paste wrapped in rice flour. After we found that, we wandered to St. James Coffee next door for a mocha and a smoothie. It was a fantastic, if slightly trippy, global fusion snack.

A few days later we headed to the fair. The Remix made me extremely nauseous, I guess I’m getting too old for disaffected carnies to spin me around in dilapidated machines. After my stomach had recovered, however, I enjoyed some cheese curds, fried pickles and other goodies. Plus my sister got to pet a chick.

A few days later my mom showed up. Anna and I were extremely relieved. My mom has been on a long hike and we were both feeling “Momsick” without being able to talk to her. 

On Sunday, the three of us headed back to Lanesboro for another day of fun. We had lunch at Pedal Pusher’s, then wandered about some of the paths around town. We headed to the park and played on the tire swing, then grabbed some icecream at a local icecream shop. 

The only thing Lanesboro lacks is a bookstore. If I win the lottery, I will totally buy a bookstore and live in Lanesboro while Chris runs a part-time concierge clinic. Any backers?

On our way back from Lanesboro we decided to take the scenic route through Rushford. To our surprise that particularly cross road was closed for construction. That’s Minnesota summer for you!!! Instead we drove down to Houston and then set off through the hills back to Rochester.  This is some of the most stunning country in Minnesota… rolling hills, fields, and forests, red barns, the dark sweep of the Root River… 

Does anyone else think that hay bales in a green field are beautiful?

I had a great time with the Bugosh girls and was very sorry to see them go!!! 

Another fun thing that happened this week… we threw an real all-American baby shower for my friend Meni from Chile!! A picture of the lovely ladies at the baby shower.

Well, the summer is flying by. I’m looking forward to seeing a few more family members before it’s over. Viva la fiesta! 

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“Take Me Out…”

Tis the season… of new residents! They began arriving in mid-June and by now they are settling into life in Rochester. Naturally, the residency has thrown a handful of welcome events and we are getting to know the new first year residents.  Last week, a bunch of first and second years headed to a Honker’s game for a night out on the town. If you’ve never been to one, the best part is the “beer batter.” If one particular player on the visiting team strikes out, draft beer is $2.

Alas, they do not have a sangria batter. I checked. And yes, they do serve sangria.

Of course to go with the beer we had to try some “cowboy bites” (spicy corn nuggets) and “funnel fries” and fried pickles.  And take a picture with Slider. And celebrate when the Honkers pulled out a late inning WIN. Woohoo!

A couple nights later was Bark in the Park, one of a couple summer evenings that dogs get to enjoy the spectacle of baseball.

As you can see, the boys were all very excited to be going to a game!

Once we got there, the sponsoring pet store handed out goody bags with treats, more treats, and doo-doo bags (and tickets for a raffle that we didn’t win). We found our way into the stands and watched the game.

Duke and Earl didn’t seem to enjoy the game. But they did enjoy sniffing other dogs… and begging neighbors for pieces of hotdogs… and eating treats.

Win or lose, “America’s pastime” is still a great way to spend a summer evening!

Summer Days (and Nights)

So a couple weeks ago Chris and I celebrated our fifth anniversary. Five years! It has been the best five years of my life although full of various trials tribulations (medical school, nursing school, residency, etcetera). We had decided that our trip to Paris was our anniversary present… but my sweet husband still got me flowers and chocolates!

Moreover, he surprised me with dinner at Johnny Mango’s. Johnny is a catering genius who has events at his strip-mall headquarters twice a month with amazing menus. In this case we were treated to not one, not two, but THREE meals – pork, chicken, and beef a la Hawaiian! I was as stuffed as a banana leaf by the end of the night. In addition one of our good friends was singing with the band Take Two that night, providing the perfect accompaniment to a good meal.

A few days after that, our friends had a pig roast (http://makeourdailybread.wordpress.com/2014/06/29/spicy-sauteed-kale-at-a-pig-roast/) and I got to join them for pulled pork. Delish!

After that I headed on to a coworker’s bachelorette party.  It was a fantastic experience; after eating tasty treats at one lady’s house we boarded a giant party bus (complete with a pole!) and drove the rainy backroads to Chatfield, Stewartville, and Grand Meadow checking out the local bar scene. You’d be surprised what some of those places have downstairs! There was drinking, dancing, and a wild scavenger hunt. I had a blast but I shouldn’t post any of my pictures 😮

So the next big holiday was the 4th of July, often known as Independence Day. But at the Concordia Language camps, where my sister is currently immersed in French, it’s INTERNATIONAL day. I drove up there listening to The Fault in Our Stars as read to me by my electronic Kindle voice. I often avoid “sad books” and popular books… but I was very favorably impressed. It does not overly romanticize cancer and the damage it does to people and family. It’s a very real and clever book and the characters actually have a vocabulary. 

But I digress. I drove north of Bemidji and found myself in the land of camps and lake houses. I parked and boarded a bus that took us to Waldsee, the German village. After a bit of wandering I located my sister at a sing-off. We spent the remaining 4 hours walking the dusty paths, chatting about camp life,  talking via satellite phone to certain family members that are hiking the John Muir trail in California, and eating a random variety of foods. She had an entire bag of sour worms, a chocolate croissant, a hot dog, berries and cream, an extra half-cup of cream, and shaved ice. A picture of us with sour worms:

Then I drove back while listening to Wilkie Collin’s Woman in White. Would you believe it, The Fault in Our Stars only took 5-6 hours for the kindle to read, but only about 20% of Wilkie Collins was finished in the same interval. He wrote a lot! I love his style, though; surprisingly playful, witty, and modern considering the era he wrote in. Of course if it were a modern novel he would have fallen for Miss Halstead instead of her (rather insipid) sister!

I drove a lot that day but did not develop any blood clots although I may have gained a few pounds from fast food and Hot Tamales. The scenery was beautiful – wood, lakes, wildlife. I saw a skunk and baby crossing the road, a deer swimming in the lake, and more deer watching curiously as I drove by their clearing. And then at night – fireworks. Every farm and township was having a display so from the time I got dark I drove by beautiful, unforgettable displays.

A few days later, Chris went to play volleyball, and I thought he looked especially patriotic:

And on that note… hope you all are having a blessed summer!

Versaille, Montmartre, and Friday the 13th

When my last blog ended, we had just finished the Louvre, the Champs Elysee and the Arc d’Triomphe. Exhausted, we made our way back because… I had a hair appointment!

Yes, I’d been wanting to change up my hair, and what better place than the capital of fashion? First we had to figure out the correct words; then Aunt Fay delivered me into the hands of her favorite hair artist, Camille. So here, in true magazine style, a before and after transformation…

Tres chic, if I do say so myself! And what better place to show off my new layers and highlights than yet another royal palace?

Getting to Versailles took a bit of effort. It’s 30 minutes outside of Paris by train so we had to go to an unfamiliar metro station, buy tickets (but not at THAT machine, THAT machine is broken), then crowd onto a train. Did I mention that the train workers were on strike and only 3 of 5 trains were running? So by my calculations there were 5/3 the normal amount of people on the train (!!!) In addition, the train station nearest to Versailles was closed for some kind of dramatic reconstruction, so we had to walk an extra half mile each way.

But Versailles was totally worth it. First we approached Versailles and got a glimpse of Louis Catorze and the hordes:

Then we proceeded around to the stunning gardens. We found lunch amongst the groves, perfectly groomed and dotted with, yes, more naked statues. There are also a plethora of fountains which run on certain holidays and weekends. But I didn’t need to see the fountains… I wanted to see the nature! We walked out to the Grand Trianon and the Domain of Marie Antoinette.

 

When we rounded a corner and found this rustic retreat (complete with the fake rock and music temple) I KNEW I was in love. We wandered on, deeper into the gardens, to Marie Antoinette’s fake village where she liked to pretend to be a simple village girl in the Shire, I mean, France:

Yeah, because that’s what the countryside looks like!! Perfect little cottages, manicured lawns, and loads of flowers! After looking at geese and literally smelling the roses, we got directions to the Petite Trianon (yet another palace) from another family of tourists in exchange for directions to the Hamlet.
We came through the trees and discovered: the Jefferson Memorial! Sorry, no, I mean the Temple of Love!

We headed back up the long  hill to the main palace.  I won’t show any pictures from there, but you can imagine – the Hall of Mirrors, Louis XIV’s various portraits and busts, the king’s 2 or 3 bedchambers, the hordes of tourists… Despite all the other people sharing the beautiful mansion, it was amazing and made me want to learn more about the Bourbons and the lavish lifestyle they must have had back then.
Exhausted by a great deal of walking, we made our way back to the train station. We may or may not have stopped at McDonalds on the way.

***

The next day, forgetting that it was Friday the 13th, we decided to attempt the Eiffel Tower. We had disregarded the advice in our book and not bought tickets in advance. As it turned out that wouldn’t have helped because apparently the elevators were broken. We stood in line for 2 or so hours before deciding to save an ascent of la Tour Eiffel for next time. Instead we had coffee at a cafe, took a selfie with the Eiffel Tower, and bought some marshmallow before heading home.

 

 

In the evening, Aunt Fay took us to a nice restaurant in Pigalle. That seems a bit like an oxymoron as Pigalle is the red light district. We enjoyed course after course of decadent food washed down with wine, including a souffle made with caramel and Grand Marnier. Oh my goodness it was like eating a cloud! Afterwards we took a short “constitutional” and enjoyed some famous local sights…

 

The next day was our last full day in Paris and we headed to the church we had been catching glimpses of all week – Sacre Coeur! High on the hill of Montmartre this white church watches over the city.

 

You can take the funicular train up… we took the stairs, first up to the church, then up to the tippy top to admire the views out over the city.

 

 

Then we had lunch at a wonderful little restaurant, Le Troubadour.  I had escargot for an appetizer. Mmm, snails… they were delicious! I might have to make them at home. I also had beef tartar. It tasted amazing but… it was raw… and about halfway through I wasn’t able to get past that and had to stop. But that was okay because I had creme brulee for dessert.

We headed back to Fay’s house where two of her daughters and their kids joined us for a tasty dinner. Here is a picture of us with our wonderful French family… can’t wait to see them again!!!

 

 

We had an absolutely wonderful time in France. Amazing food, wonderful people, and beautiful sights.

But we did have some trouble getting back… strikes by the ground crew made us late to leave, and the Montreal airport has the worst possible system for international passengers. We would have had to go out of security and back in through security, if we had been directed to the right place, which we weren’t (by 3 separate people)!!!! So we missed our plane…  and Delta put us up in a hotel for the night and gave us some vouchers… Thankfully our friends stepped in and took care of our dogs. The moral of the story: don’t use YUL for international flights!!!

A day late (and a few extra dollars short) we arrived back in Rochester. Back to Minnesota, back to real life, back to work!

I am so thankful for our time in France, for our safe travels and our wonderful family. It was a great way to celebrate 5 years of marriage with my husband, and I look forward to going back.