It’s hard to find food for Fridays in Lent. Our family doesn’t eat fish at all. My son and I will enjoy a fish fry during Lent, but the rest of the family still needs to eat something so we’ll usually go with a pasta or pizza and my son and I will hit the church’s fish fry at least once. Cracker Barrel also at least once.
Last week was an off-pay week, so we were being frugal, and it was leftovers on the menu. The problem for me was that leftovers was pork loin. My daughter didn’t want the pork and decided to make eggs, so I asked her to make some eggs for me. I like my eggs well done scrambled.
She and I divided the leftover over white rice, which I microwaved. I added butter to mine with peas and a couple of leftover packets of duck sauce and then mixed in the hot scrambled eggs.
It was such a simple meal, and it was very satisfying and delicious. I feel like having it again sooner rather than later, although to be honest, tonight will probably be pizza.
What are all of you eating for your Lenten Fridays? And if you’re not observing Lent, what is your favorite simple but delicious go-to meal for a Friday night?
To be honest, I’m not sure if that holds for writers.
I’ve recently read two book series, both fiction, both taking place during the same hundred years or so, period pieces, both murder mysteries and romance, and while there are things that I like and dislike about each of them, I am finding that I learn more about myself and my own writing as I pass my critical eye over them.
The second one is intriguing and interesting although full of (sometimes unnecessary) exposition and descriptions, as well as changing perspectives (not indiscriminately, but by chapters) with colloquial language and appropriate proprieties between gender and servant class relationships.
The same could be said of the first series in the cases of colloquialism, proprieties, and gender/servant class relationships. There is also a feeling of overabundance (in both series) of feminism that I find anachronistic for the time periods, but I could be relying on stereotypes myself to feel that way.
Similar things can be said about the first one, although the historical perspective is a bit more specific. I am more attached to the characters of the first series and I have not come to terms with the ending of the series. That’s not to say that the books’ conclusion was not satisfactory – it truly was, but I’m not ready for the series to be over and I am not competent myself in the time and geographical period to try my hand at fan fiction. And while I very much enjoy the second series, it has not captured my heart as much.
What does this have to do with writing?
Well, it has to do with the specific writing (or planning) of my book on my journey to and through Wales.
Some things I have added to my outline are:
Maps. It may be easier to describe my adventures if readers can see where I was geographically.
Historical perspective. Much of my relationship to Wales is counterbalanced by my research into the history of medieval Wales, which fostered a deeper understanding and connection.
History. Including some of the history of the places I traveled, especially how they related to my journey.
Multiple genres are okay.
Quotations at the beginnings of each chapter to sort of set the stage. I also like recipes and photographs (which these two series do not have) and I’m trying to decide if these would be appropriate for my book in any way. Perhaps in the case of recipes as an appendix.
My faith journey being a main part of the relationship, both secular faith and religious faith.
I’m sure that I will find more things to include as I hone in on the path my writing of this book should take.
*I’m interested in suggestions for a new title for this series going forward rather than Inspire and the month. Comment below, and don’t forget the links (found on the home page) for the Spotify comments and the Writing Challenge.*
My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.
Vacation’s over. School’s begun. The Jewish Holidays have come and gone without nary a new goal or resolution in sight. First therapy session of the new season is in the books. And what do I have to show for it?
It’s not nothing, but I honestly don’t know.
The monthly greeting: How are you doing always feels like a trick question. If I’m fine, am I fine? If I’m okay, why am I here in the first place? Will I actually say what’s really on my mind?
I don’t know. Somehow, I muddle through another session, sometimes wondering why I still come. I’m not suicidal. My anxiety is under control. It is more than the familiarity and routine of it. Part of it, I know, is that having it on my calendar gives me something positive to look forward to. If I have moments of struggle or lows, I see the appointment on the calendar and it gets me through; I know it will be okay until the next time. It gives me something to strive for. Could I get through the month without this one hour? Maybe. But why risk it?
It’s a safe place. We all need them. Big, small, in public or private, look around for yours.
The fall is the beginning of my year. Will it remain so when my kids are entirely finished with school? That day is sadly growing closer, and I both dread it (for me) and relish it (for them). I also have so many ideas. So much to write about. Places I’ve traveled that I want to share about, both as reflections and travel advisories, advice, and photos. I have ideas for new series, new columns, new book ideas. I have ideas to expand my Facebook page for those of you on FB. I even have a list of prayers to write.
My six week memoir class has begun again. The library is sponsoring it, and even though they won’t let us in the library (a change since we registered), they have found us a pavilion in a local park that really gives off a super creative writing vibe. We’re gathering with some people who we haven’t seen in two years. We’re missing a long time friend who died last year (not Covid related). Hopefully, it remains warm enough for the six weeks we’ll be outside, but cool enough to keep the mosquitoes dormant. For those of us who’ve been meeting in the park for the last year, this weather is a piece of cake. The library provided clipboards and the teacher brought cushions for the picnic tables. I brought my own chair but I may swipe one of those cushions next week.
Our ongoing park-meeting group has a new inside place to meet – the local fire house!
I’m hoping all of these writing groups with assignments will inspire me for the rest of the fall and into the new year to come.
One of the easiest and delicious foods to make is Ambrosia Salad. It is always fresh tasting and perfect for summer and fall. I made it recently for Rosh Hashanah dessert and I’m planning on it again this week. You’ll find the ingredients below the photos.
Cool Whip and Sour Cream, folded together.
Can of crushed pineaapple
Can of mandarin oranges
Maraschino cherries, halved
The beauty of this type of recipe is there is no recipe. Put in what feels right until it’s the consistency you want. When I make it again I will add two cans of mandarin oranges, but for the rest I used about 8 ounces of sour cream, half a container of Cool Whip, half a small bag of coconut flakes, and half a bag of mini marshmallows. If any of that is too much for your sweet tooth, add less. Too much, add more.
Set in the fridge for a couple of hours. Serve in a dessert bowl.
Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start.
– NIDO QUBEIN
As I contemplated this month’s Inspire post I began with the discovery of this quotation, which led me to the three photos that appear below.
I think this quotation is perfect for this time of year, especially in this second year of pandemic as things are slowly returning to some semblance of normal. Some of us have been lost in a fog of uncertainty and some of us remain in that fog as we await our turns for vaccines, for the return of jobs, the new rules for openings, community gatherings as it becomes safer, and yet, we still wear masks (as we should), we still wash our hands frequently and use hand sanitizer (as we absolutely should), we continue to maintain our distance (as we should), and we’re in a space of feeling the year is passing us by (again).
We need to look at our present circumstances, and then start.
The Easter season is upon us, spring is springing up all around us, Ramadan begins this evening. It’s as if a new year is dawning, and there’s no reason not to treat this time as a new year, setting goals, making choices, smelling the flowers on a few new paths.
The photos below are three places I never expected to be. Having taken the photos is proof that I was actually in those places, but to me it still remains extraordinary that I was actually, physically there. Gazing at these three photos show me the magic that can happen and the magic that is inherently in a place.
The first photo is of Glenariff Falls in Northern Ireland. We found it quite by accident while looking for a place to eat – there is a restaurant behind where I was standing to take the photo. What was remarkable is that our cousins had given us directions to this very place, only we hadn’t realized it until after we’d eaten and went to look for the falls they’d recommended. These woods have a fairy feel and there are reminders of fairies throughout them including in the falls themselves. It was very peaceful and soothing just standing and watching the water fall from the top.
This second photo is just a road sign; however I was glad to get it when we couldn’t get to the town. We were running late to get to our hotel, still about an hour or more away, and it was raining, and at the beginning of a trip we always think there is more time to return than there really is. The sign depicts the longest town name, shortened for the sign as: Llanfair Pwllgwyngyll; also known as LlanfairPG, but known in its full glory as:
This last photo is of the Menai Suspension Bridge. We drove across it from the island of Angelsey (known as Ynys Mon in Welsh) to get to mainland Wales and on to our destination. When I traveled alone to Wales in 2009 this bridge was the source of my greatest anxiety. I had truly wanted to go to Angelsey; I had heard of its beauty and there was an ancient cairn that I wanted to visit, but I could not make myself drive over this bridge. I could see it from my hostel along the Menai Strait, and I thought about for the entire three days I stayed there. I’d walk out to the Promenade and stare at the water below the stone wall, and then stare down the strait at this bridge. Every time I thought I might I didn’t. I just couldn’t do it.
As with the ferry that got me to Wales in 2017, this bridge got me to the mainland where I could complete my pilgrimage. I wasn’t driving, but it was still a monumental achievement and it’s part of one of the places that I started.
I’m sure it’s expected that November’s Friday Food would be related to Thanksgiving. It’s related not to the day of Thanksgiving, but the feelings of giving thanks themselves.
After four years of tension, stress, and for many PTSD, we have elected Joe Biden the 46th President of the United States. His Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris is the first woman, first Black woman, first Indian-American woman to hold that office.
They were put over the top by the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and while this post is specifically about Philly, I would be remiss in not mentioning the role Black Women played in Joe Biden’s victory. We owe them a great debt of gratitutde.
In honor of Philadelphia’s role in pushing Biden and Harris over the 270 Electoral votes needed to win, my family went to a local place for cheesesteaks.
No better way to celebrate until Inauguration Day!
“Try new things and discover yourself every single day.”
– Bhavya Choudhary
(Try Something New) – My Husband
For the past two years, my husband has been offering this mantra: TSN, which stands for Try something new. He tries to try something new at least once a month.
I do like to try things, but I try them hesitantly.
I am inherently extraordinarily polite. If I am at someone else’s house and they offer me something that I’ve never had before or am even lukewarm on, I will take it, eat it, and thank them for it.
When we go out to dinner, I prefer tried and true food for the most part, but when I’m on vacation, I will beeline for the local specialty as well as trying new things.
Examples of this are poutine in Canada, tea in the UK, a proper British breakfast in Wales and England, Welsh cakes in Wales, chicken wings in Buffalo, cheesecake in NYC, pretzels and chocolate in Pennsylvania, lobster in Maine, crab cakes in Maryland, beignets and gumbo in New Orleans. Anywhere you go will have a specialty food to try.
On our recent visit to Niagara Falls, Buffalo, and Plattsburgh, New York, we tried many things that were new to us, but were common to the North Country and Western New York.
In the above photo, you will see:
Pizza Logs (from Anchor Bar in Buffalo, NY)
The Mighty Taco, chicken quesadilla
Chicken Caprese Mac & Cheese (from Our House Bistro, Plattsburgh, NY)
Amazing orange peeler for 69¢ (at Vidler’s 5 & 10 in Aurora, NY). I’d never seen this before and it worked like a dream. If I had known how well it worked, I would have bought a dozen and given them out for Christmas!
Sponge Candy (from Platter’s Chocolate in Niagara Falls, NY)
This pandemic has given us many things that are new, not all of them exciting and wonderful, but we’ve hopefully taken them in stride, and will try to move forward embracing the new, the different, the exciting, and even the challenging.
It seemed as though all we ate were chicken wings, mac & cheese, soft pretzels, ice cream, and donuts! Everything was amazing! I’ll have several posts in future days with information if you travel to the western New York area. Some things can even be ordered through the mail!
Listed in clockwise order:
Roast beef and gravy on a weck roll. (Say Cheese! The Comic Book Cafe.)
Pizza Logs. (Anchor Bar – the home of the original Buffalo Wings.)
The Mighty Taco quesadilla with sour cream.
Char-BQ chicken wings. (Duff’s Wings)
Bavarian Pretzel with mustard and cheese. (NY Beer Project)
Manhattan Mac & Cheese with garlic bread (NY Beer Project)
Small (really! small!) Birthday Bash Ice Cream. (De-Dee’s Dairy)
Angel cream donut (like Boston Creme with vanilla cream inside). (Paula’s Donuts.)
August’s inspiration posts were delayed by the entire month, but I am determined that this post tonight at the latest. It is the last day of August and there is still inspiration to be had.
August began with my being sick, some days quite ill, and I went to the Department of Health to take a covid test, which fortunately came back negative.
We’re still receiving updates from my children’s school and they are almost ready to return; one virtually and one in an in-person hybrid model.
We also were able to take a much needed family vacation, which we understand is a privilege in these uncertain times. I credit that to many things, not the least of which is the seriousness that New York State took in combatting the coronavirus. We remained in New York, and that gave us the ability to travel and to do so without a fourteen day quarantine anywhere else we may have gone. It wasn’t our original plan, but we were all together and we had a great week.
I mention this because the one thing I want to share with you for the August inspire post is a museum that we visited that I would encourage everyone to visit. I will write more about it in later days, but here is a small glimpse:
It is very reasonably priced: $10 for adults, $8 for students and seniors (62+), $6 for children 6-12, and Free for children 5 and under.
There is limited parking shared with the Amtrak station and it is on the Discover Niagara Shuttle, a free service in the city of Niagara Falls that operates May through October. They’ve recently reopened after Covid closures.
The Heritage Center is a beautiful balance of the heartbreak of slavery and escape from bondage and the people who helped them flee. It is at once inspiring and emotional. In one instant, a story caused me to weep while others made me feel joy at their new lives in Canada.
It is a small venue, but well worth the time. I would return again to enjoy the few things that were not available due to covid restrictions.
“There’s a million things I haven’t done, but just you wait.”
Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton: An American Musical
Throughout this pandemic, I have written and arted and journaled and prayed, usually with no rhyme or reason, letting the time at home and the mood of the day take the lead.
Last week, I volunteered, but was also asked and encouraged to write something for our weekly Cursillo newsletter. Our lay director decided to start it during the pandemic to keep everyone in touch.
I was happy to do it, but it took forever to start it. I had three drafts about online retreats; just a paragraph each. I skipped two lines to try again, and then it was July 3rd.
Our day revolved around watching Hamilton on Disney+. It was the premiere and for those of us unable to see the Tony Awared winning Broadway or the traveling shows, it would be the first time to view its magnificence.
I woke my family with shouts of “It’s Hamiltime!“
And that began the piece that would eventually make it into the newsletter.
It was inspired in subtle ways, and then it just came to me while sitting at the keyboard.