Milwaukee Saturday.

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My city and I are really fiercely fond.
If I'm going to be honest, this is a relatively recent feeling. When I was growing up, I spent most of my time in parts of Milwaukee that I rarely visit now. And I always had a sort of nagging impression that my home town was something to be ashamed of--never in so many words of course, but my school friends didn't seem proud to live where we did, and neither did I. And then it came time to apply for colleges, and people did their best to make a grand exodus and get out of here. I did not, although more by financial constraints than by choice. So I went to college without leaving home, and that may have been the best gift of a lesson that Marquette has given me: Milwaukee is cool.
All of a sudden I was spending my time in places where people sought new ideas and made art and ate good food. I was seeing my city through the eyes of people who came here by choice, and finding a whole new world I'd never known existed before. I feel like I have a lot of catching up to do, and it's very possible that saying the name of an ultra-hip restaurant or bar will still draw a blank look from me, but I'm eager to learn.
There are several words to describe what I love most about Milwaukee--it's genuine, sincere, a little rough around the edges. Milwaukee tries really hard. It's not always a paragon of progressiveness or open-mindedness, but there are so many people who live here that are trying to make it better that they outweigh the negativity. Milwaukee knows that it has a lot of work to do, and the feeling of camaraderie and potential that comes along with the responsibility is part of what makes it great. It's a city on the cusp of spilling over with startup businesses, community organizations, arts programs, all designed to improve the quality of life for those that call Milwaukee home. I'm so excited to be a part of this Milwaukee Movement and to make my own contributions to my city's growth.
So often, I'm taken by surprise by all the small, lovely things I pass on my daily routine. These images were brief snippets of my Saturday that was filled mostly with work and errands. But I was happy to do them as I looked around me with the knowledge that I live in such a beautiful place.
I love to travel, to go out and see other parts of the world. But I really love coming home, too.

Apple quinoa breakfast bowl.

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I woke up this morning wanting to make myself a real breakfast, and I couldn't find any bread. So I moved on to my next idea, which was a bowl of some kind of grain, and after a brief Pinterest scan I found something I wanted to try. I found this recipe and modified it slightly to use the ingredients I had.

Total time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:
1 cup quinoa
2 cups unsweetened almond milk
¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
¼ teaspoon allspice
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
2 medium apples, shredded

Instructions:
1. Put the almond milk, quinoa, and applesauce in a saucepan and bring to a rolling boil. Then reduce the heat to a simmer and let cook until the quinoa has absorbed the liquid, which should be somewhere between 15-20 minutes.
2. Add the spices, vanilla, and salt. Mix well. I also added my shredded apples, although the original recipe instructs you to add them later as a topping. But I found that this helped to absorb some of my excess liquid, and worked really well.
3. Serve. I topped my bowls with a drizzle of honey and sprinkle of hazelnuts from the family farm, and let me tell you, that was a good addition.

Tips:
I used some apples that had been lying around and getting kind of soft, so I shredded them with a food processor rather than by hand. I was also surprised to find how sweet this was (and I'm a sucker for sweets). Making it again, I might actually hold off on the honey until I try a couple bites and see if it needs additional sweetness.

Overall, this was a two thumbs up. I've made my share of Pinterest recipes that weren't overly successful, but this was a really good one, especially for someone with a sweet tooth who's trying to fool their body into being healthy.

 Original recipe via Love and Zest.

A Fresh Month.

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I've already seen a lot of really beautiful things this year, and it's only just started. Some of them have been at home, others in pretty distant places. I went on a great trip with a dear friend of mine, and I'd like to share some retrospective pictures in the upcoming weeks. I started school again, and am already up to my eyes in the hilarity of a new show, and interesting words to read. I got to spend some time with my family, and I'm really grateful.
I'm hoping to make it a good one, folks. And as I've finally gotten to a place in my academic career where my writing is coming forward, rather than essays and arbitrary projects, I'm hoping to jumpstart this bad boy of a blog and bring it along for the ride. Let's do it. 

In motion.



Here's a shaky little video I made when I got back from the UK. I think the world sometimes feels different, or at least a little more real, when it's captured in motion as opposed to in pictures. This might feel a little too real because of my shaky hands, but it makes me feel like I'm back in this place that I love, so I can watch it without nausea.

Town with character.

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One of the other really fun parts of my visit to Stratford-upon-Avon was spotting all the Shakespeare references that lurked in store windows and street signs, etc. Obviously this little city is proud of their most famous resident, and names his work is present around every corner.

The Shakespeare Houses.

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My trip to Stratford-upon-Avon back in November was a borderline spiritual experience, similar to my first glimpse of the Globe in London. When I arrived I had two plans: see a show at the RSC and go to Shakespeare's house. I got off the train on a Tuesday afternoon and made the short walk to my accommodation at the Arden Park Guest House, got myself some dinner from Tesco, and explored the town a little before settling in to watch some episodes of Downton Abbey before I got ready for the play. By this time of year it had already started to get dark fairly early in the evening, and as I'd already figured out the path I intended to walk to the RSC theatre, I didn't feel comfortable gallivanting around too much in the darkness, for all that Stratford is a pretty quiet town.
The show I had a ticket to see (a five pound ticket, thank you RSC youth promotions!) was Antony & Cleopatra, a story I knew only vaguely and had never seen done before. I went in with average expectations despite my excitement to be at the RSC, and left with a tear on my cheek and awe in my heart. Keeping up with their reputation, the production was innovative and gut-wrenching, even when you know how it's going to end. I left the theatre feeling very lucky and excited to continue studying these old words I'm continuing to learn about.
The next morning I was up early and on my way to the four Shakespeare houses I had purchased a pass to see, beginning with the Anne Hathaway cottage. It was a lovely morning and there were many pretty things to see, but as I'd been doing so much solo traveling I was starting to feel a little bit lonely. I actually arrived at the cottage a few minutes before they opened for the day, so I crossed the street and sat on a bench next to a lovely little creek alongside the oddly placed field of grazing sheep. (I mean, I was on my way out of town, but I still wasn't expecting sheep in someone's backyard inside the city limits.) I'd only been there for two or three minutes when the sweet brown tabby in the above picture came trotting along and kept me company for a good quarter of an hour. She was eager for some affection and cheered me up considerably. The rest of the day way spent visiting the birthplace, Nash's House and Hall's croft. All of them contained bits of the story of his life, and were interesting to think about either him or his relatives and the footsteps they left on the floorboards. I finished my day with a trip to the church where Shakespeare is buried, and I stood in the nave and just tried to soak everything in. It made me rather sad to see a church turned into such a commercial center, but it was a special experience in spite of all the camera flashes and selling of trinkets.
I felt so incredibly lucky to stand and see the places where my favorite man was born and baptized. The next class I take or teach about him will be all the more textured for the experience.

The Return.

You guys, I've been back for two weeks, and I don't know what is happening! All my time is being sucked away! ...By lounging and eating cookies in front of the television, so I guess I shouldn't complain. Christmas was a gem of a day and this is what it looked like. It was pretty magical coming home in the middle of a white world. And then, within a few days I was whisked off to California by my mother, and we are currently in the process of visiting friends and family along this ocean coast I've never seen from a border of my own country. Life is getting back into its normal swing, and pictures will continue to trickle in!