100 Must Eat American Foods Challenge: Eggs Benedict

As you may remember, I am working on this list of 100 Must-Eat American Foods. For various reasons that would take a lot of space up to write (haha), I am skipping over a bunch of the ones I haven’t done. Most have to do with cost and/or ability to easily procure them in the state of Wisconsin. But, thanks to Sarah, who commented on my last food challenge post, I learned that there was a Hollandaise sauce mix I could buy, since making my own seemed completely intimidating in every set of directions I looked at. Especially for something I had never tried and didn’t even know if I would like.

Apart from the egg poaching and the Hollandaise sauce, the recipe is pretty simple. English muffin + Canadian bacon + poached egg + Hollandaise sauce. And if you’re like me, you can even cheat. You can use a Hollandaise sauce mix (cheat number one) and you can poach your egg in the microwave (cheat number two). But, if you are poaching your egg in the microwave, you need to really watch the time and check it very frequently. Or you will end up like me and blow up your egg. But don’t worry, I only lost one egg in this process, the next one came out better.

So then I toasted my English muffin, quickly friend my Canadian bacon which I slid on top of that, added the poached egg and then poured the Hollandaise sauce on top of it all.

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I have to tell you, I really loved this. It makes me sad I’ve never tried it before. Especially with my cheats, it was not difficult. Now I am sure, doing it the non-cheating way, it would be a lot harder because poaching eggs on the stove top does not seem like it would be the easiest. Even though I googled and watched videos and asked for tips, it just seemed like it would be very easy to screw up. If you haven’t gathered by now, I’m not very confident in the kitchen, especially when it comes to new things, especially when both the technique and the result are new to me (I had never eaten a poached egg before). But I loved this and I would totally eat it again, only next time I need to get fresher English muffins because mine was a little stale. But it was still good. Also, I discovered I love poached eggs. I ate this Eggs Benedict yesterday and for lunch today I had two pieces of toast with peanut butter and honey and a poached egg. And actually, eating another poached egg sounds good right about now, so I might make myself another one lol.

So there’s another food checked off my list! Stay tuned to see what’s next.

James Bond Movie Challenge: From Russia With Love

Okay, so I’ve been working my way through this list of James Bond movies and the most recent one that I watched was From Russia with Love.

And I have to say, if I hadn’t committed to doing this, I am not 100 percent sure I would continue. I mean, I am having a hard time understanding why people like James Bond so much. But it’s obviously a very popular franchise since they keep making new movies (then again, Twilight is a popular franchise too, so maybe I shouldn’t question it lol).

Anyways, I find these movies kind of boring. After you’ve watched one, you almost have sort of watched them all – at least the older ones. They seem to follow a very similar plot/the same things happen in all the movies. There will inevitably be someone who breaks into Bond’s hotel room. There will inevitably be some party/restaurant scene  where something big goes down. All the women will fall for Bond and I pretty much mean it. He is like schmoozing every woman he comes into contact with and it’s getting pretty old. And it almost always gets him in trouble too, so I really don’t know why he is so quick to be making out with some unusual woman and he never realizes it’s a trap until it’s way too late.

Also, I think he is probably the worst spy ever haha. He just seems to take no care in being discrete. I mean in this movie his hotel room was already bugged when he got in there. He uses James Bond wherever he goes. He’s not very hard to find or track or follow. Why do they keep sending him on these missions?!

Also, the credits for this movie were played over a belly dancer. Why? Just why?

I think the next one is a more modern one again, so hopefully I will like it better.

May Your Trails . . .

AbbeymountainsMade with PicMonkey. Photo background is a free stock photo from MorgueFile. I will also upload it to my Facebook page in case you want a way to share it easily.

 

Explore Milwaukee: Milwaukee Art Museum!

Time for another addition to my exploring the city posts! Today I am going to be talking about the Milwaukee Art Museum (MAM). There is a lot to do at the art museum for people of all ages, but since I went with Dominic, I will primarily be focusing on the experience of taking kids (especially little kids) to the art museum.

If you would have asked me before if the art museum would be a kid friendly place, I would have probably said no. I had a very clear picture of art museums in my head of being stuffy, boring places with a lot of stuff that you can’t touch. I first visited the Milwaukee Art Museum for a MAM After Dark event and that was the first time I realized that they could be interesting, even if you are not an art scholar or enthusiast. And so this summer, when I found out the library offers free summer family passes to the art museum, I jumped on the opportunity to try something different with Dominic (special thanks to my friend Diana, who tipped me off to these passes!) And now, since visiting, I can say yes, the art museum is absolutely a place that you can and should take your kids and that they can have a great experience there! So let me tell you all about my visit to the MAM with my father-in-law and Dominic and all the ways the museum is kid friendly.

First of all, I will start with the fact that the museum has some areas that are specifically created with kids in mind, through the Kohl’s Art Generation Program. This program does a lot of things and some of them are only available during certain times, but if you are going just any time, you can always count on the Kohl’s Art Generation Lab and the Kohl’s Art Generation Gallery being open all the time during museum hours.

Let’s start with the Kohl’s Art Generation Lab. Right now the exhibit there is Museum Inside Out. It’s all about learning how museums work. It’s a heavily media focused exhibit, with a lot of different videos. It also contains touch screens where you can pick your favorite of two works of art to vote on them and it aggregates data about which ones get voted for the most.

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It also contains this long table, where you can build your own museum/exhibits. There are blocks you can make walls out of, pieces of art you can arrange, and people you can place all over the museum.

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Also in this exhibit there was a painting on the wall and down below it, there was a touch screen computer you could interact with. It showed how they analyzed paintings with different lights and tools (like x-ray) to learn more about the painting. You could move the boxes over the different parts of the virtual depiction of the painting and see what it looked like as it was x-rayed for example. You could also watch short videos about the techniques or read about them. Dominic thought it was pretty cool (no surprise there, he loves electronics).

The space for the Kohl’s Art Generation Gallery is a bit bigger. The exhibit that is there currently is Illusions: Near and Far.

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When you first walk in there are tables set up where you can use different aids to help you draw. On Dominic’s table, it’s a scene of eggs in a next in a gridded box with gridded paper so that you can draw the different grids as they correspond to help you map the drawing. On the other table were special devices you could use that reflected an image of a bowl of fruit onto the paper to aid you in tracing it (I don’t know if I’m explaining that right, but they were cool, these different ways that they can help you draw things).

As you go back farther into the exhibit, there is even more to do.

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There are two videos you can sit and watch, one of which is this Grover sketch with him being near and far at different times.

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There is a box with blocks that you can stack and then turn on (or off) the various light switches to see how different lighting effects how the blocks appear.

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This was one of my favorite parts, even though I just watched Dominic play with it – gigantic felt boards! They covered pretty much an entire room to themselves. Part of this room was big frames, so after you created something, you could take a picture of it as a masterpiece.

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They also have a panel where you could put these window clings and build a scene with the mountains and a house and a fence and so on.

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They have a table of blocks with the blocks organized into warm and cool colors that you could build and play with. This is fun for all ages, Dominic and Opa.
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There was much more to that area too that I didn’t even have a chance to take a picture of.

Those parts were easy to handle Dominic in – he could touch and interact with so much of it. It was the rest of the museum I was worried about. I was worried he would find it really boring or that he would touch things that he wasn’t supposed to, but for the most part he did really great! The art held his attention better than I expected. It helped in part when we talked about it – asking questions about it, “Do you see the bird? What color is the bird?” stuff like that, to help make it a bit more interactive than just looking at it. Dominic would start to describe the art and ask me questions about it too towards the end.

I also have to mention one of the other great things they have in the museum, the ArtPacks. They are different activities for kids you can check out for free, they just ask that you leave one of the adult’s IDs there as a guarantee you will return it. They have a couple of different things, including a costume you can check out and wear around the museum. For Dominic we checked out a sketchpack, which came with a variety of paper, a set of colored pencils, a sharpener and erasers. We also checked out a great book – A is for Art! It had pictures of all different things that are actually in the MAM, one for each letter. Dominic really loved this – we didn’t purposefully set out to find them, but I flipped through it with him and when I would notice one I thought was familiar looking, I would check the book and show Dominic the picture and we would look at the art. It seemed like he thought it was cool to see something in the book and then see it in real life. A is for Art is also available through their app which you can download or you can get an iPod touch preloaded with it from the art museum to check out. I really didn’t play with it too much this time, but I will in the future I think.

J is for Janitor was one of the items in the book! This was before we had picked up the book, but it was still very interesting to look at.

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This sculpture was a giant shovel. For some reason, Dominic was fascinated by it and wanted to come back to look at it more than once.

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I don’t know what to call this one lol. But Dominic was very intrigued by it.

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Last but not least, I want to mention that the MAM has some great views of the lakefront. They are really gorgeous and breathtaking.

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There is so much more I could talk about this museum, but I will just have to say, check it out for yourself! You can check out and learn more about the museum here at their website. Kids 12 and under are free and so are Wisconsin K-12 teachers. For more about their hours, their rate of admission, and just about anything else you want to know about visiting the museum, check out their website!

I’ve done a few other explore Milwaukee posts, so check out the map here for all the places I’ve done. If you click on the website listed for each marker, it will take you to the post I’ve done on that place!

 

 

Let’s Talk About Ferguson

I have white privilege. Sometimes, it’s hard to admit because I don’t want our society to be that way. I don’t want the color of my skin or of anyone else’s to matter. But the society, the world we live in – it would just be ignorant of me to pretend it didn’t matter. because in our society, it is still a big deal. People are still judged on the color of their skin.

I wasn’t introduced to the term or idea of white privilege until I was in college. I had no idea that I was moving to what is tied with Detroit for the most segregated city in America. I had no idea that friends of mine would experience discrimination. And I will never, ever have any idea what it is like to be anything other than white.

I know a bit of what it’s like to live in this city. I know I can go to the bank in a white part of town and it looks like the banks I grew up in. I know if I go to the bank in the black part of town, there’s often much more security, one I’ve been to even has a double door, that you can’t enter until the second door closes, a sort of airlock (I don’t know if I’m describing it right but that’s what it like). But even seeing and experiencing these things, observing around me that way one part is different from another, I know that I will never experience what it’s like to be racially profiled.

That’s why I’ve hesitated to say too much about Ferguson. I don’t know what I can say. What can I say that isn’t clouded by my privilege?

But I realized what I can say today. And I know my words will never be complete or enough, but even imperfect words are better than my silence. Because I do not want to give the silent endorsement that by not saying anything that this is okay. I can say that we, as a country, can do better. That we need to do better.

Because journalists are being arrested. Here. In America. Normally when we hear about that it’s in the Middle East or in certain oppressive regimes in Asia. But now? In America? We all suffer if we lack a free press. Arresting journalists usually means that you don’t want people to know what’s going on. You don’t want the truth to get out. Which has to make you ask, what is it they are trying to hide?

We need to do better because people are being tear-gassed. Here. In America. I looked to see what other recent (past year or so) examples I could find of tear gas being used around the world: Liberia, West Bank, Bahrain, Egypt, Turkey are some of them. (Al-Jazeera America has pictures of many of these incidents).

You know what it reminds me of? In Jericho (a show about the United States after a nuclear attack wipes several US cities off the map) there’s an episode where Mayor Anderson tear gasses a church full of refugees that he’s decided can no longer stay in town because they threaten the survival of everyone else, because there are not enough resources for the townspeople and the refugees and so it’s the others who have to go. They didn’t grow up here. They’re not like us. They’re not a part of this community.

Because in some ways, that’s really what this is about. Seeing people as other – because of the color of their skin. And feeling threatened by that otherness, instead of realizing we are ALL human beings, no matter what color our skin happens to come in. There have been, over history, lots of lies spread about how that other person, with that other color skin, is not like us. And many of them still remain deep in our culture. And when you look at another person as other, it is very easy to degrade them, to do things to them you would never think were okay if it happened to someone like you.

And that is not okay. I can not say a lot, but I can say that is not okay. We are human beings.

And lastly, we need to do better because Michael Brown was shot in the street. He was a human being and he did not deserve to die that way. Amid all the questions about what happened that night, what we can know is that no one deserves to die that way. No mother deserves to find out that her son died at the hands of people who are supposed to be good, people who are supposed to protect, people who are supposed to serve.

I started this article by talking about white privilege and I’m going to circle back to that again. Because all I can think about is his mother. Michael Brown’s mother. I can not even begin to imagine what she is feeling. She loved her son. I know she loved her son in the way I love my son. I know she loved her son in the way all mothers love their sons.

But I will never know what she experienced. Because as this post so elegantly puts it, I have a mother’s white privilege.

“For a mother, white privilege means your heart doesn’t hit your throat when your kids walk out the door. It means you don’t worry that the cops will shoot your sons.”

I encourage you to read the whole post I linked to, because it’s extremely well written.

And now I guess it’s time to hit publish. I do experience some of the fear that my friend Marla talks about over in her blog as she too hits publish. The fear of saying the wrong thing. The fear of losing friends.

But I have reached the same conclusion. Saying nothing at all is worse.

A Very Important Cheese Question

Okay, so it’s honestly really not that important, but every once in a while I want to ask you guys a question, find a way to get the readers involved. I want to hear from you! Your thoughts and your feelings.

And because contrary to popular belief, I don’t like to be so serious all the time. So while I will post about very serious matters on this blog sometimes, I also like posting about the lighter side of life.

So here is your question for today.

What is your favorite kind of cheese? 

Personally, I’m partial to Colby Jack. But I want to hear from you! Tell me your favorite kind of cheese or your cheese stories or anything else cheese related you can think of :)

Books We Read – August 18, 2014

Here’s the list of books we’ve read – it’s been a while since I’ve updated, but the list is not overly long. I may have lost a page, but it’s also because I don’t include books we own that we’ve read again and again and again. And I’m sure, inevitably, I missed writing a few down. I only add a book we own to the list now if it’s one that we’ve newly obtained. Stars for favorites, but I will note when it comes to the kids’ books, they are not always equally loved. Some of these favorite books are Dominic’s favorites but drive me nuts or they are my favorites but Dominic is only meh about them. Some we do both love, however. :) Bold for books we own. All are Amazon links, but I was too lazy to make so many links affiliate links.

Dominic

*All Fall Down by Mary Brigid Barrett
*The Big Night-Night Book by Georgie Birkett
-Caillou At Grandma and Grandpa’s by Joceline Sanschagrin
*Caillou Be Careful! by Joceline Sanschagrin
*Cheese Belongs to You by Alexis Deacon
*Cornelius P. Mud, Are You Ready for Bed? by Barney Saltzberg
*First Numbers with Tiger Tales
-Getting Ready for New Baby by Harriet Ziefert
*Getting to Know Ruben Plotnick by Roz Rosenbluth
*Gossie’s Busy Day by Olivier Dunrea
*Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
*Hello Baby! by Mem Fox
-Hi New Baby! by Robie H. Harris
*Hug by Jez Alborough
-Humpty Dumpty Illustrated by Anthony Lewis
*The I Love You Book by Todd Parr
-I’m a Big Brother by Joanna Cole
*I Scream Ice Cream!: A Book of Wordles by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
*Little Elephant Runs Away by Wolfram Hanel
*Llama Llama Zippity Zoom by Anna Dewdney
*Look Who’s There! by Martine Perrin
*Lots of Lambs by Laura Numeroff
*Money, Money, Honey Bunny! by Marilyn Sadler
*Mouse Says “Sorry” by Michael Dahl
*Mouse’s First Summer by Lauren Thompson
*My Truck is Stuck! by Kevin Lewis and Daniel Kirk
*The New Baby by Anne Civardi
*The New Baby by Mercer Mayer
-The New Baby by Fred Rogers
-The Night Before the New Baby by Natasha Wing
*No, David! by David Shannon
-Oh Say Can You Say? by Dr. Seuss
*Oh, the Thinks You Can Think! by Dr. Seuss
*On Beyond Zebra! by Dr. Seuss
*The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch
*Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehler
-Red Boots by Rosemary Wells
*Seahorses by Nicole Corse
*The Shape of Me and Other Stuff by Dr. Seuss
*Spot Loves Sports by Eric Hill
*Spot Says Please by Eric Hill
*There’s a Wocket in my Pocket by Dr. Seuss
-Will It Be a Baby Brother? by Eve Bunting
*Zoom, Zoom, Baby by Karen Katz

Melissa

*Allegiant by Veronica Roth
*All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood by Jennifer Senior
*How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character by Paul Tough
*Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
*Talk with Your Kids: Conversations About Ethics by Michael Parker, M. E. D.

Day Seven Photo Challenge: Fruit

You can find the full list of the photo challenge here.

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Parenting Book Challenge Update: All Joy and No Fun

So, I’ve probably read more than just this one parenting book since I took on the challenge, but this is the one I’m officially adding as my first one and crossing off my list.

I chose the toddler level, so that means I need to read 6 to 8 books. So this is the first of that.

The book I read was All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood by Jennifer Senior.

I will have to say this is a book that was not on my to be read list. It was in the new books section at the library. I have tried really hard not to pick up new books from there since I already have over 3,000 books on my to be read list (yes, that’s not a typo, it’s really a problem haha) so if I want to make any effort to finish that, I have to try to not get too distracted. But sometimes, the new books are just TOO alluring. They are right by the hold shelf so it’s pretty impossible to avoid seeing them. I saw the title of this one and it looked like something I would like. I said to myself, “No, I just got a new book from the hold shelf, that’s enough to read for right now.” So I walked away. Then I walked back. Then I picked it up and read the inside cover. Then I put it down and walked away. Then I picked it up again and read the inside cover again and it was at that moment that I knew it was going to come home with me.

Hi, my name is Melissa and I have a book problem lol.

But, at least I do not regret picking up this book. The book that I had on hold I ended up quitting because it just didn’t jive with me and this book that I picked up from the shelf I ended up loving. It was completely up my alley.

This book did not attempt in any way shape or form to tell you how to parent. Instead, it really came at it from more a historical/sociological standpoint. It really did its best to look at the ways that parenting has changed with time. It was chock full of real parents, studies, quotes, history and more. Most parenting books focus, in large part, on your children, but this one really sought to explore how having kids effects parents. It made me really think and reflect about what I am doing as a parent, what our society is doing, and whether or not all of the changes were good and on top of that, it gave me a few ideas for some future blog posts.

There are things in this book that probably could be considered depressing. There are some stats in there that might depress you, but more than anything I found it fascinating and in a small way, a little freeing. Things weren’t always the way they are now and I don’t have to do everything the way everyone else around me is doing things and my kids will still turn out fine.

Yes, I definitely see a future post in the works. So stay tuned.

A “Peasing” Solution

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When my mother-in-law was visiting she told me that Nick and his siblings would sneak frozen peas out of the fridge when she was defrosting them for dinner when they were kids. While I was waiting to dump these in my casserole, I wondered if Dominic might like them too. He had a lot of fun eating the peas from the measuring cup. Yay veggies!

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