First, a huge THANK YOU to everyone who's recommended St. John Cantius over the years, and especially to Katrina and JoAnna for their golden comments on my last post. We loved it. We went to the 11 am Latin Mass, and Frank summed it up best after we left: "Services like that are the reason I became Catholic." We're looking forward to check out the 12:30 Tridentine soon too.
One of my favorite parts of our usual Sunday routine is chatting with friends outside the church after Mass. But since Frank and I were complete newbies at this church, I resigned myself to skipping it this week. I was about to awkwardly sidle out (secretly envying the regular parishioners who were chatting it up with their friends), when the sweetest lady who reads my blog came up and introduced herself! I was so excited and thrilled to meet her. I admired her beautiful baby Frances Gianna (such a great name), introduced her to Frank, and pretty much died of joy that I actually had someone to chat with. Then another girl came up and asked, "Are you Lillian's twin?"—she knows Lillian from her Chicago days—and we chatted as well. I secretly said a prayer of thanks that I had new friends to talk to after all—such a nice surprise.
Before the homily, the priest had announced that the new Dunkin Donuts down the street was holding a fundraiser for the parish, donating money for every large coffee purchased. Frank and I adore iced coffee—in fact, he introduced me to it (somehow I never tried it before I met him)—so we immediately gave each other the side-eye that meant, "We're getting iced coffee after this!" And for a good cause too ... even better!
We ambled over to Dunkin Donuts, where Frank pretended not to know me while I took a picture of the receipt collection box:
^^I thought the little watercolor of the church and the description were so sweet.
And then I had to laugh when I noticed that instead of Boston Kremes, the store was featuring "Chicago Kremes":
It's because the Blackhawks were playing the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup. The Hawks apparently won the cup last night. (I would definitely not know that if I weren't married to Frank).
Despite my lack of following hockey, I'm doing pretty well with my plan to learn baseball ... I'm going to a White Sox game with Frank tonight, and again on Saturday. I'm so excited! Any tips or advice for enjoying/understanding a baseball game?
Later in the day we went to Trader Joe's, where we had lengthy conversations with the salespeople about the best gin to use for gin and tonics, various uses for buttermilk, etc. I came away concluding that Midwesterners are the nicest, friendliest people. It made me just a little bit more excited about moving back to Chicago—and that's saying something, because I've really been missing DC these days.
The most important purchase of the day, in my mind, was this little basil plant:
I dream of someday having a great big garden and growing lots of our own vegetables, and the basil plant represents the start of our garden. I also dream that someday we'll have chickens ... and dogs ... and maybe even a horse! (Ok, that last one's a long shot.)
Not that I'm ready to leave our tiny apartment. In fact, I'm so proud of the way it's looking. We did a ton of unpacking and cleaning Sunday, and now the place is practically ship-shape. :)
While Frank got his work done (the bar exam is our constant companion this summer), I pulled out my calendar and planned meals for the week. Did you hear that? I planned real live meals! :P After the past two weeks of throwing together pasta or tacos after work most nights, it's a big help to have a real written plan, with groceries bought in advance.
^^Mid-planning, with some of my favorite cookbooks.
I also baked a bunch of different things over the weekend. I made chocolate chip banana bread on Saturday, and yesterday I mixed up regular bread—here it is while mid-rising:
^^This was my first time using a Kitchenaid Mixer (one of our wedding gifts) and oh my gosh. I didn't know what I was missing.
I also got a little wild with dessert and made Chia Seed Pudding using a Trader Joe's recipe. It turned out pretty well—Frank said it was indistinguishable from tapioca pudding—but in case you're thinking about making it, I have to warn you, it looks like this:
Not the most appetizing sight.
Meanwhile, Frank had big plans for dinner. He kept a pot of ribs simmering temptingly all afternoon:
If you compare those last two photos, it's pretty obvious who is the real chef in our family. I aspire to someday reach his level.
On the plus side, I'm a master at making gin and tonics. Yesterday Frank declared me the official G&T maker of the family.
Finally we sat down to dinner on our little balcony:
And feasted like kings. Or like a king and a queen, in this case.
Finally, in case this post wasn't long enough already, I wanted to tell you about two books I'm reading that are having a big impact on my life. I had a feeling you might be interested in them too!
I've been reading Make the Bread, Buy the Butter, a wedding gift from the lovely Molly. This book is incredibly useful if you want to cook your food at home, but you're not sure where to draw the line on "homemade"—at what point does cooking from scratch become cost- and effort-prohibitive? The author tried making pretty much every food imaginable from scratch. She even kept chickens to use for eggs, bought goats for milk, and set up beehives in her backyard for honey. She offers a price comparison of store-bought vs. homemade on hundreds of different recipes, and ranks how much "hassle" each recipe is too. I'm a little obsessed with this book—it's super helpful, and it's what inspired me to bake my own bread this week (and homemade hamburger buns too!). It's the perfect first book to set us up for our "modern Little House" way of life.
The other book I just started is the official biography of Maria Montessori by her close friend and collaborator E. M. Standing. I'm only a few chapters in, and already I'm fascinated by her life story and how she developed her educational method. Most of all, I can't believe how sensible the Montessori approach is—it just works so well with the way children actually are. If I wasn't a big fan of it before, this book would make me one. Have you read it, or are you familiar with it?
Well, that's all for now. Happy Tuesday, and I hope you're enjoying this lovely summer weather!