Posted in 2020, Aging, Food, kathy70, Travel, Uncategorized, Writing, Yes

Rice Pudding

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To some of us, this is comfort food like macaroni and cheese or tomato soup with a grilled cheese sandwich or even the Sunday pot roast.  It takes me back to my childhood and I’m on a family trip.  We stop at a diner for lunch and after my cheeseburger I ask for rice pudding with whipped cream on top.  Not something made at home but relished as we traveled.  Maybe that’s why I love both.

When I looked up rice pudding, I was surprised to find that it is literally served all around the world.  Asia, Latin America, Europe, US, Caribbean, North Africa, Canada are only some of the places it is enjoyed.  Flavors and spices and kinds of rice used vary everywhere.  The liquid used and the kind of sweetener, or not, also vary around the world.

I came across a recipe that seemed fairly easy and most diners no longer carry rice pudding, so why not try.  I am obsessed with arborio rice and have been known to make risotto four times in one week just for myself, so how bad could pudding be with the same rice?

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup of arborio rice
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/3 cup of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla or variation of your choice
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 2 egg yolks

Pour milk, sugar and vanilla into a mid sized pot and bring to almost a boil.  Rinse off rice and put into small pot of boiling water, boil for 2 minutes then drain and add to milk mixture.  Continue cooking at a simmer for 30 to 35 minutes.  Remove from heat and add butter and egg yolk stirring constantly until fully incorporated.  Pour into a tray to cool off faster.  Serve warm or cool.

It turned out delicious and is now on my menu almost as often as risotto.

Here’s a few variations you may want to try.  Flavors, toppings and spices:  orange, lemon, rosewater, pistachio, almond, raisin, walnut, cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon or ginger.  These can be added to the mixture or sprinkled on top.  As a child it was cinnamon and whipped cream on top, today it changes constantly.

 

Posted in 2020, Challenge, Chicago, County Fair, Food, kathy70, Uncategorized, Writing, Yes

Challenge #25 As A Kid…

This challenge comes from a small writing group.  We have a large series of random questions that we answer and share.  The goal is to answer at least one each week.

Question:

What makes you feel like a kid again?

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I feel like a kid again when I am …

Seeing giraffes at the zoo.

Eating cotton candy at the county fair.

Riding a city bus.

Coloring/dying Easter Eggs.

Roller Skating but not on roller blades.

Picking a bouquet of dandelions.

Sleeping outside in a sleeping bag not in a tent.

Shoveling the first snow of the year.

Walking barefoot on the beach.

Watching a Cubs game at Wrigley Field.

Going to Navy Pier when the huge boats are in.

Eating a hot dog walking down the street.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted in 2020, Chicago, kathy70, Quarantine, Travel, Uncategorized, Wisconsin, Writing, Yes

Shedd Aquarium

Two of the aquarium entrances.

J.G. Shedd wanted to give the city of Chicago a gift and wanted it to be the best of all the major cities in Europe and the United States that had aquariums. He donated the money and selected the architects and the project began in the 1920’s for educational and scientific purposes. However he never saw it open as he passed away before the project was complete.

He came to Chicago as a young man from New England and started as a stock boy in the company that would become Marshall Field & Company and became the president of the company.  His business colleagues became the board of directors and carried out his vision for this project. This is now part of the Museum Campus on the Chicago Lakefront and welcomes millions of visitors from all over the world.

The aquarium has grown and evolved over the years to educate and inspire people about conservation and protection of the Earth’s water systems.  Today with the quarantine due to Covid-19, the penguins are helping in advertising reminding us all how to stay safe.

The aquarium houses fish and plants from all over the world in very natural settings.  It also contains information and species from the mid-west as a part of the ongoing educational programs.  The day I visited (before the quarantine) they had exhibits set up where you could touch the back of a sturgeon as they swam in the water. Also another area where you touched a very large starfish.

 

While this was not my first trip here, as in the past, I saw new things and learned more about what the Shedd is doing to educate us about how fragile the natural resources in the world are.  When you visit I hope you leave understanding a little bit more about what we can do to protect the natural world.

This is currently closed to all visitors but they have online resources available to all.  I am only sharing a few photos from this visit and will have more information and photos to follow.  When travel returns this is a great location to add to your list of places to visit for travelers of all ages.

Posted in 2020, Challenge, humor, kathy70, Quarantine, Sewing, Uncategorized, Writing, Yes

Challenge #24 My New Business Venture

This challenge comes from a small writing group.  We have a large series of questions that we answer and share.  the goal is to answer at least one per week.  (This is just like being in writing class in school where you are assigned the topic to write about except my diploma does not depend on my grade.)

Question:

If you were to start a new business right this minute, what would it be?  Describe it.

Mask-er-aid

Very strange name for my business would be the above and it would be for the new normal of wearing a fabric face mask every day.  Due to the nature of this pandemic we are in the middle of and who know when we may come out of it, if ever.  We know things are going to change in our daily life and this may be one of the changes.  Fabric face masks are now the new version of a Victory Garden, made for the benefit of all.

These masks are everywhere.  Loads of instructions on youtube, groups sharing pdf files with instructions, every diy source showing us how to make them.  Online garage sale type groups have individuals selling these for a very inflated price, etsy merchants making a quick over-priced buck off of other peoples fear or need.

The skill level to make them is pretty minimal, only a sewing machine and a relatively small amount of fabric involved. Some people I know are putting them out by the hundreds all from materials they already have on hand.  If you know someone who sews for a hobby, ask to see their stash and you will probably be surprised at the volume.  Many people who sew, purchase a small amount more than necessary for the project they are working on, just in case.  All these little bits of what’s left, become the masks.

I have visions of my mask stash in every color of the rainbow to match today’s outfit.  The daytime and nite-time version, bling or no bling.  Special ones for holidays or special occasions like birthdays. Masks that display my favorite sports team or one of my hobbies or in my school colors.  I need to get to my machine quick!!

Posted in 2020, Chicago, kathy70, Quarantine, Travel, Uncategorized, Writing, Yes

Walking Near Wicker Park

Sometimes on those days when you can’t go to a store or work or a restaurant, maybe the best thing to do is go for a long walk.  The Wicker Park neighborhood in Chicago is on the near North side, next to Bucktown and East Village and a very popular place to be.

Built in 1878.

This area is named for an actual park that lies with the geographical boundaries as are a number of neighborhoods in Chicago. When the city was incorporated in 1833 some of the area was included in the original boundaries. The Wicker brothers, Charles and Joel came to Chicago from New England in the early 1800’s. They were merchants and land developers who purchased a number of pieces of land in this area.

Variety of two flats on the block.

The actual park was established in 1868, a 4.3 acre triangle of land that has been changing and evolving ever since. It is not know if either of the brothers ever lived in the actual area named after them.   The homes I photographed here are all on just one street, Hoyne Av., the area is much larger and this in fact was pretty much on one block,   It’s a delightful area to walk in and just appreciate the beautiful architecture and marvel at the preservation.

Amazing.

So beautiful.

Many of these homes were designed as single family homes but were on  two or three city lots and have beautiful gardens surrounding  them as well.  This is simply one street among the many in the Wicker Park area and that only one of the many neighborhoods of Chicago.  Consider a walking tour of one area the next time you are able to visit this beautiful city.

 

 

 

 

Posted in 2020, Birds, Challenge, humor, kathy70, Quarantine, Uncategorized, Writing, Yes

Challenge #23 The Sounds of Winter

This challenge comes from a small writing group.  We have a large series of random questions that we answer and share. The goal is to answer at least one question per week. (This takes me back to school in a writing class where you have an assigned topic to write about and some weeks becomes very challenging but fun.)

Question:

Describe ten sounds that you associate with winter.

The Sounds of Winter

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Most of my life I have lived in a place that truly has four seasons and all of them pretty much follow the changes on the calendar.  It’s April as I am writing this and grass has started turning green, crocus are blooming and the tulips are showing the start of flowering.  Since we have just pretty much finished with winter I thought this would be a good time to talk about it.

My sounds associated with winter will be different from many others.  In a more tropical climate it might be the time when migratory birds start to appear in your area, so your winter sounds could be the new birds in your area.  It also may be the time the repair person checks on your swimming pool mechanical parts to get ready for the swimming season.

That said, I have always enjoyed winter.  Perhaps because it will be here if I like it or not so maybe it is easier to find things to enjoy about the cold and snow. So here are the first ten sounds I associate with winter.

  1. The snow blower clearing the driveway.
  2. A shovel scraping on the sidewalk.
  3. Ice skates as you go around the rink.
  4. Scraping ice off my windshield.
  5. A crackling fire in the fireplace.
  6. My footsteps crunch on fresh snow.
  7. The furnace kicking in.
  8. The sound of a cold car engine trying to start.
  9. Sleet or ice pellets hitting a window.
  10. A tree branch cracking under the weight of the snow.

Have a great springtime and summer.

Posted in 2020, 9/11, Aging, Chicago, humor, kathy70, Poland, Quarantine, Quilts, Sewing, Travel, Uncategorized, Writing, Yes

Reflections On A Changing World

The difficulties of today’s world bring to mind other earth shattering events that I managed to live through.  In the early 50’s I was a young child spending the summer with my aunt and uncle and three cousins at their house in the country.  This was something I did many summers at one of my four aunts homes.  All the cousins at this house were older than I was and all were boys, one of them did require a wheelchair and braces to get around as a result of having polio when he was younger.  One day before the end of summer my aunt helped me get ready to come home to Chicago a bit earlier than expected.  I was put on a train and my dad picked me up at the train station and immediately took me to the doctors office.  There I was given a shot.  They had developed a vaccine for polio and that’s what my doctor gave me.  And the world changed.

In the spring of 1963 I went on a trip with my school to Washington DC.  While on that trip we learned that John F. Kennedy would be dedicating a memorial to Paderewski in Arlington National Cemetery and our plans were changed to go to this.  This was a very last minute event and we lined the sidewalk that he walked to get to the podium for his speech. I was about 5 feet away from the President at that time and this made him much larger than life in my eyes.  I was struck by how quickly he walked, how handsome he was and when the sun hit his hair the dark red color of it.  Kennedy spoke about why the composers  body was in this country and not Poland at that time, since Poland was still not a free country.  It took until 1992 for his body to be return to his native Poland.  What an honor we had and no idea we would participate in this.  Later that year he was killed.  And the world changed.

In 1968 I was living just outside Washington DC and that spring I was able to see the display of the Cherry Blossoms in bloom one day before my first daughter was born.  At that time since it was a military hospital I was in a room with 9 other women and there was no television or radio allowed.  We had no knowledge of what was happening unless one of the husbands came in and told us, which they were advised not to.  A few days later while still in the hospital I looked out the windows of the hospital and saw the city of Washington DC on fire.  With plumes of black smoke rising from various parts of the city.  This was the aftermath from the killing of Dr. Martin Luther King.  And the world changed.

A few short months later, I woke in the middle of the night to hear about the death of Bobby Kennedy.  This coming on the heels of Dr. King’s death caused many changes to happen that may not have been obvious to everyone.  Little things  started happening and the citizens of this country were no longer as innocent and may have become a bit jaded and less trusting.  It seemed we had no idea where the next trauma was coming from and in the background of all of this was a war going on in Vietnam.  Protests and marches were going on all over this country people were trying to have their voices heard.  Many were trying just to find their voices. And the world changed.

In the 80’s we had the start of AIDS-HIV in this country and for the most part it was not talked about and we did not really have to worry about it because it only happened to “gay” men. Then confusion and panic that originally surrounded this entire time was very similar to what is happening currently with this pandemic.  Monumental strides have happened in the medical knowledge and the survival rate from that disease but it was not an easy battle.  Sadly, I had friends who died alone because of the initial stigma that was associated with it and the lack of knowledge about how this disease could ever be survivable.  Washington DC was one site for the display of the AIDS quilt panels and I flew in to see this and walked for hours among the panels laid out on the Mall.  I talked and laughed and cried with strangers about the beauty and the sadness of this  display.  I marched for the first time in my life in a protest march down Pennsylvania Avenue with lit candles  to represent the thousands known and unknown represented in that quilt.  I listened to the names being read of those who had died.  And the world changed.

I can only briefly mention the events of September 11, 2001 because I am still very raw in many ways and I work hard to control the trauma I feel daily because of those horrific events. The swift activity and global yet personal nature of that day are often still very fresh and yet the lingering sorrow never seems to go away. I have a young friend from another country who recently said “Well it’s been a long time now and things are just like before aren’t they?” I am sure part of me will never be whole again.  And the world changed.

Today, I cry easily, I have for many years been that person who cried at a Hallmark commercial, now I cry at the weather forecast. I despair because I have no ability to do anything of significance to help except stay at home. This should be a great time to work on those craft projects I have been stockpiling for years.  Then my mind wanders into strange territory and I find it difficult to sit down and try to sketch a simple flower. I have added long solo walks so perhaps I will come out the other end of this a healthier person.

And the world will change.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in 2020, Challenge, humor, kathy70, Uncategorized, Writing, Yes

Challenge # 22 The Runaround

These challenges come from a small writing group.  We have a large series of random questions that we answer and share.  The goal is to answer at least one per week.  (Sort of like being in a writing class where you are assigned the topic to write about.)

Question:

Have you ever been given the runaround?  What did you do?

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Runaround Sue?

My most recent encounter.  Yes we have all been on the receiving end of someone trying to play pass the buck, it’s not my area of work, your question is way above my pay grade or simply a runaround.  I have worked in a customer service capacity for many, many years and I make it harder for someone to ignore me when I need help.

As an employee in what is considered a service industry there are many things that I have learned along the way.  I try to get the nameless person on the other side of the phone on my side so they don’t hang up on me.  Today it seems very easy to bully or badger a faceless voice at the end of your phone and that tactic rarely works in the long run.  If you happen to get the one person who really cares, you don’t want to lose them.

I recently called my insurance company because of a letter sent to me by a government agency that regulates insurance.  I mainly called because I wanted to know what was up with that.  The person on the other end assumed that I was angry and kept trying to pass the buck and transfer me to another department or another company.  I was just as insistent, in a polite way, that might not really be the best result because I simply wanted to know why this happened, not who was to blame.  I persisted that she needed to listen to my full question regarding this situation.

Eventually, after about five minutes trying to explain the full question, she agreed to look into it.  Then she realized it was something she could handle and said she would do that.  It took explaining repeatedly, using slightly different phrases each time for her to really hear me.  I think the one that got her was when I said   “This sounds like I am living in crazy town.”  She actually laughed at my comment, that was when I knew she heard me.

I, have since had another situation where the person heard only half of my question and said she needed to transfer me.  Again, I said please hear my whole question and then tell me who to talk to.  She had the perfect answer for me and it worked beautifully.

Many of the companies judge the employee based on volume not on quality.  If you answer X number of calls does not make you a better customer service person, yes volume is important, but so is quality.  I would call and compliment each of these agents because they both helped to resolve my problem.

Moral of this story is that it has been a few weeks and the situation is cleared up.  Make them laugh or cry or cringe in horror at your story, never blame the person on the phone unless it truly is the last stop.  Most of the people doing the job are just like us and trying to survive one phone call at a time.