Parlour St. Paul

One of my favorite things on the menu at Parlour in Saint Paul is the roasted cauliflower from the “Shareables” section. What makes this superfood so delectable is the chiles honey sauce and a cilantro purée. And don’t forget the jalapeños! The flavors aren’t spicy, but warm your gums perfectly. Bring a big appetite or a friend willing to share a vegetable with you.

Nourishing New Year

I love starting off the new year with a great breakfast and Day by Day Cafe in St. Paul has a tofu sauté that knocks my vegan socks off. Happy and health 2019 to you and yours!

The Future of El Salvador

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I’ve been in El Salvador for the last week helping teach English in the rural countryside. Henri and Victor have been at English school everyday, eager to practice their newly learned phrases. These boys are the hope of a country.

Roman Holiday

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Italy was the first country in Europe I traveled to 11 years ago as a single adult. Not surprising, I immediately fell in love with the landscape and culture. Two years later I went back, hoping to capture the same good vibes, and it didn’t happen. Disappointed, I took Italy off my list and only traveled to new places that I had yet to experience.

Until this summer.

Husband had never been to Italy, so we agreed to spend half of the trip in cities that I had visited and half of the trip in uncharted territory. The landscape and the culture were back, sucking me into lingering dinners in quiet piazzas and drinks anywhere there were stairs to sit on.

My paramount discovery was Rome. I’ve heard you either love Rome or you can’t wait to leave. But I was smitten. Romans live among the art and history that surrounds them. Statues constructed during the time of Julius Caesar are still standing in the elements, not covered in glass or roped off to the public. There is a sense that if a Colosseum built in 80 AD can survive earthquakes and war, you don’t have too much to worry about. Life is good.

One of my quirks is that I dream in the language I’m surrounded by. Within a day of arriving in Italy, my dreams were in Italian. And even though I’ve been home for several days, the Italian in my head still continues. This trait is typically annoying, but right now I hope the dreams stay in Italian for a bit longer so I can image I’m still in Rome.

Happiness Is … Sharing Joy

McGuire Farm

My father was born in the wrong era. In the 1970s, he and my mother built a house in the country, far away from people and noise. Then came the horses. There were cows at one point too, but they wore out their welcome by running through the fence one too many times. Mowing the front pasture wasn’t an easy task – it was 20 acres. But dad would climb on the tractor and spend an entire Saturday cutting down the fescue. And if a fence needed to be examined in the back fields, dad would climb on a horse and ride off with tools in his pockets, just in case.

As long as I can remember, my father has loved the land. He secretly sees himself as a rancher and enjoys converting pastures into natural prairie grass to help the wildlife prosper. (There’s a hunting advantage for him as well, but we won’t talk about that part.)

When I went back to Kansas for a visit recently, dad wanted to show me yet another plot of land he purchased, directly next to his farm. We bump-bump-bumped around the fields in his pickup, and he showed me all of the tree clearing he had done to open up the fields for new crops. While I dread trying to manage a farm long-distance one day, seeing my father’s happiness and excitement about the land made the tour a little less worrisome. But I’ve got big shoes to fill.

 

 

Happiness Is … New Discovery

St Patricks Catholic Church

It is suddenly the middle of summer and I have missed two months of “Happiness Is …” posts. Thankfully I’m chronically organized and upload my photos to the cloud by month so I never lose track of when images are taken!

In May, Husband and I decided to look for Irish colonies that were settled with the help of Bishop John Ireland in south central Minnesota between 1876-1881. It was considered a great success for the Catholic Church at the time. Today the settlers are buried in churchyards like this one at St. Patrick’s. It was interesting to read the tombstones and wonder how these immigrants handled the struggles of farming in a new land and discrimination from their Scandinavian neighbors. It was a history lesson, yet didn’t feel that far removed from the same issues America and other countries are debating today. My hope is the general population will remember this country was built on someone taking a chance, getting an opportunity, settling the unsettled, and creating a new place to call home.