3 Quarters Today

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My Favorite Turkey Stuffing Recipe

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Some foods I cook from scratch, other have a little bit of help, and I deviate from the script. My favorite turkey stuffing recipe varies every year, depending on what I have in my refrigerator and cupboards. But regardless, it always comes out delicious and there is never enough for left over “turkey plates.”

How to Dress up your Turkey Stuffing

Start with Stove top Stuffing as a base

Start with Stove Top Turkey Stuffing Mix

Yes, it’s cheating in a way, but I’m brand loyal and Stove Top stuffing has amazing flavor, the seasonings are already mixed in so I don’t have to guess. But I don’t stop there, I chop 3-4 of the following added ingredients and add them to the pot.

Just follow the ingredients on the box.

  1. Add water and butter to a large saucepan, bring to a boil.
  2. Turn off burner
  3. Add breadcrumbs from box
  4. Remove from heat
  5. Add 1-2 cups “EXTRA” ingredients and quickly mix with fork
  6. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes

Stuffing Additives

  • Onions
  • Celery
  • Mushrooms
  • Dried cranberries
  • Apples
  • Dried cherries
  • Walnuts
  • Chestnuts

I normally add about a 1/4 cup of each ingredient to my turkey stuffing, notice I said ABOUT, I don’t measure I just chop until it looks good. If you don’t like apples, leave them out, but it does give a nice sweet flavor to the stuffing. They cook down soft, so most people don’t even notice.

Homemade turkey stuffing recipe

Homemade stuffing with a twist

I bake my turkey with the stuffing inside, the turkey drippings add an amazing flavor which unmatched by just stove top cooking. Use a large serving spoon and pack the stuffing inside the main body cavity and under the neck flab, just lift and tuck, lift and tuck. (Sounds like an exercise doesn’t it)

Lift the bird and spoon the stuffing way down inside the body cavity. Pack it full. If the stuffing is sticking out the back end of the turkey, that’s ok. It will get nice and crispy and is perfect for snacking on when you take the turkey out of the oven.

Click to Order a Stuffing cookbook from Amazon

Click to Order a Stuffing cookbook

After all of your stuffing has disappeared into the turkey, then proceed to season the outside, slip some butter under the skin and cover with bacon. If you’re into that type of thing.

I should fix more stuffing throughout the year. Turkey stuffing isn’t just for Thanksgiving and there are a lot of recipes to use with chicken and pork chops. Maybe I’ll venture beyond just stuffing at Thanksgiving.

 

 

 

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Serve a Bacon Basted Turkey for Thanksgiving

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Butter and Bacon Basted Turkey Recipe

Given the time I love to cook, and Thanksgiving is the perfect time to break out traditional recipes like my Bacon Basted Turkey. I roasted my turkey with bacon way before bacon was cool. I watched my Dad obsess over his turkey when I was little and this started a family tradition. You can have your fried turkeys, slow cooker turkeys and your precooked turkeys. I like my Thanksgiving turkey oven roasted and the whole process becomes an event. I’ve even baked my Thanksgiving bird in a roasting bag a few times just to try it, but it’s not near as good. How to make a bacon basted turkey for thanksgiving You have to know that my Dad didn’t really cook much, but Thanksgiving was his holiday and he loved fixing and carving the turkey. I only bought a Butterball prebasted turkey once, and that was enough, it wasn’t near as moist. The secret to a juicy turkey is lots of juice, basting frequently, and not letting the bird sit in the oven and get dried out. Eat it less than an hour after it comes out of the oven.

Butter Basted turkey

Place frozen pats of butter under the skin

Roasted Turkey Recipe

  • Large Turkey
  • 1 lb bacon
  • 1 lb frozen butter (1-2 sticks under skin, 1-2 sticks for stuffing)
  • Powdered Sage
  • Poultry Seasoning
  • Seasoning Salt
Bacon wrapped turkey

Lay Strips of Bacon on buttered and stuffed turkey

Turkey Roasting Instructions

  1. Preset oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Rinse and remove the packaged giblets from inside the bird (neck & leg opening)
  3. Place turkey in large roasting pan
  4. Slide frozen pats of butter under the skin as far as you can reach on both sides (an inch apart)
  5. Spoon stuffing into body cavity and under the neck flap (pack it in)
  6. Season turkey with sage, poultry seasoning, and seasoning salt
  7. Cover turkey with strips of uncooked bacon
  8. Cover roasting pan with lid, or tinfoil
  9. Place in oven and bake for 20 per pound of turkey

Basting Instructions

Bacon wrapped turkey

Serve and eat!

Basting is very important to getting a juicy and moist turkey. When the turkey is about halfway done, or as liquid starts to accumulate at the bottom of the roaster start basting. The bacon fat and butter will melt, soak into the turkey and collect at the bottom of the pan. What a waste. Pull back the tin foil, and use a large turkey baster to suck up the juice and squirt it on top of the turkey. Yeah, just suck up all the yummy buttery bacony (is that a word) goodness and pour it over the skin of the turkey, making sure to cover the breast, legs and even the wings. BASTE EVERY 30 MINUTES This is important. Set the timer. You have to babysit the bird. This is when my Mom would start saying “The turkey is never going to cook if you keep opening the oven door!” Well, the turkey cooks. You might have to add another 20 minutes to the time, but when the turkey is a nice brown, golden color and the bacon crisp and crunchy it’s done. If you really want to know when your turkey is done you can use a cooking thermometer and when it reaches 160F it’s done. My Mom’s way of telling is to “shake the leg”, if it shakes back it’s done, or if it falls off, it’s done. When the legs start to sag away from the bird it’s also done. Doesn’t it look delicious!! There is nothing better than a bacon basted turkey at Thanksgiving. Remember the cook gets to pick at the bacon and turkey before it’s served.   Many turkeys have pop up thermometers and you can use them as a guideline to when your turkey is done, but if it looks like the photo above, it’s done. Remove it from the oven and let it sit for 15-30 minutes. The meat will continue to cook and you when your biscuits or crescent rolls are done it’s time to eat. At my house we don’t eat at a certain time, we eat “around 1:00 pm” or whenever the bird is done. After opening the door several times for baking the aroma starts to draw people to the kitchen and dining room. You can then assign volunteers to set the table, place the mashed potatoes in bowls, and  pour the drinks. Enjoy your Bacon Basted Turkey and if you have any Thanksgiving traditions I would love to hear them!

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My Marine Mom Letter to the United States Marines

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I sit at my computer on the night of my youngest son’s Marine Corps Ball and reflect on the journey I’ve taken as a Marine Mom and want to say “Thank You.”

Marine Mom and sonFor four years I have been a Mother of two Marines and the first letter I wrote to the Marine Corps was more of a request, two years later I have a different sentiment. Since then I have watched my sons grow into responsible, mature young men. The Marines have played a large part in developing the men they will be the rest of their life and I’m very proud of them both.

This year I was blessed to spend more quality, undivided, one on one time with my sons than I have in their entire lives. No competition with other siblings, no competing with friends, or capturing an hour here or there during their short military leaves.

I was able to spend not hours, not one day, but several days in a row, getting to know my sons on an adult level, with an opportunity to stand back and observe, take them in and realize how much they have grown, how much I love them, and how proud I am of the men they have become.

So this year, my letter to the United Stated Marine Corps takes a little different spin.

A Letter From a Marine Mom

Dear Marine Corps,

I want to take this opportunity, on the Marine Corps birthday to thank you from the bottom of this Marine Mom’s heart. A few years ago I loaned you my sons and I have to say you have treated them well and I am grateful.

Marine Corps birthday reflectionsThank you for giving them clear expectations, with a clear set of guidelines and rewards when a job is well done. Thank you for teaching them to be aware of their surroundings, how to defend themselves, how to protect the weak, and to stand firm against injustice. Not only against our enemy abroad, but in every day situations in life.

Being in the Marine Corps has also taught my sons patience, tolerance, and the ability to adapt to changing situations. Dealing with ever changing leave orders and plane reservations does carry forth to civilian life when apartment plans, GI Bill delays, and schooling don’t go as planned. For this increased patience, thank you.

I have seen first hand the pride they take in being a part of a brotherhood, and watched my sons interact with fellow Marines not only with professionalism but respect. It’s the everyday things that happen on a Marine base, such as colors and the national anthem, while at the time may not mean a thing, which will give them an anchor and pride in Corps and country in the future. It’s the casual greeting of Semper Fi to a fellow Marine which serves to remind each of them of the lifelong brotherhood they share and will remain Always Faithful.

Thanks to the Marine Corps, my sons have had the opportunity to become leaders, volunteer in their communities, take advantage of continued education during active duty, and become part of a long tradition of men and women who have given a part of themselves to their country by serving in the military.

This year I consider myself blessed to be a Marine Mom and I thank Marine Corps for a few of those blessing.

Sincerely, 

A Mother of Two Marines

The actual US Flag flown at Iwo Jima displayed at the National Marine Corps Museum

The actual US Flag flown at Iwo Jima displayed at the National Marine Corps Museum

If you are a Marine Mom or a parent of a Marine what changes have you seen in your son or daughter? I’d love to hear your insight on their experience.

 

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Why Is The Marine Corps Birthday So Important?

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As November 10th rolls around United States Marines all over the world will recognize the Marine Corps Birthday. On November 10, Replica of Tun Tavern, home of the Marine Corps Birthday1775 the Marine Corps was born in Tun Tavern, Philadelphia Pennsylvania, the owner and bartender became the first Marine recruiter. The connection of a bar and the Marines very ironic, and underlying meaning not lost on this Marine Mom.

But back to why the Marines celebrate this birthday is celebrated more than any other United States branch of the military. As a Marine Mom I notice an increased reverence and respect not only with my sons, but from total strangers who tell me thank you for their service.

My sons would be the first to say they aren’t doing anything special. But, what is special is the history, tradition, and honor of serving in the Marine Corps. But Marines are often called arrogant, prideful, and the best self promoters in the military.

Tell that to a Marine and they will say “Hell Yeah!” and after being a Marine Mom for over five years I’ve learned a little of their culture and I have to say, “Yes, the United States Marine Corps is different from the other branches, they have a right to be proud of their heritage, history and culture”

I recently read a Facebook post from Marine Moe Thomas who dressed down an Army soldier who tried to insult the USMC and was tired of their “arrogance.” I will translate into a Marine Mom perspective but if you would like to read the statement directly from a Marine head over to the One Marines View page.


What Makes Marines Special?

What makes Marines special is an elusive quality of Esprit De Corps. The fact that as individual Marines, they feel that they are not one, but part of a bigger unit that moves as one, a Corps. When a Marine puts on the uniform, hears the Hymn, or goes into battle, they are going with every other Marine who has ever worn the uniform.

They stand behind every Marines who fought during the birth of our nation. They learn in boot camp,  and reminded throughout their career, that they follow a tradition of Marines who fought in WWI and gave birth to the legend of the “Teuful Hunden”, or “Devil Dogs”. They stand and represent Marines who took Iwo and Tarawa and countless other blood soaked islands throughout the Pacific.

The Chosin pass exhibit at the National Marine Corps museum

The legend of the “Frozen Chosin” and beloved Chesty Puller, Marines who battled at Hue City and Khe Sanh and the muddy rice paddies of South East Asia are precursors of Marines of the future and battles fought in Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom and now, are fighting in Afghanistan.

Like real brothers, their blood courses through our veins, and they we go into battle, they would rather lay down their lives than be a disappointment to the men and women who went before them. They carry a legacy, their deaths, and their honor which carries with them the rest of their lives.

The Marines Corps uniform doesn’t come off when active duty is over. Inactive and retired Marines where the symbol daily in our attitude, and our love of Corps and country. They wear it on tattoos and bumper stickers. They wear it in their hearts. It’s why, no matter where we are in the world, on November 10th, every Marine celebrates the Marine Corps birthday.

Famous Marine Quote

It’s why they will  never be an army of one. It’s why they never stop being Marines. It’s why, for most of them, being a Marine isn’t something they were. It’s something they are. It’s the most important part of who and what we are. Some say they’re arrogant. A Marine will say they are proud. They have a right to be proud. They are the United States Marines. The most feared and ferocious group of warriors to walk the face of this earth.

When Americas’ enemies formulate their battle plans, they plan on going around Marine units, because they know damn well that they can’t go through them. Marines are what other branches wish they were. They are the modern-day Spartans. This isn’t bragging. It’s written in the battle history of our country.

When there’s a parade and the Marines march by, everyone pays a little more attention. Some say “arrogance”. The Marines and their Mothers call it “pride”. It’s why, in a crowd of service men, you can always spot the Marine. Why are Marines special? I don’t know. We just are.”


This year had the honor of visiting the National Marine Corps Museum with my son and I spent two days immersed in not only Marine history, but American, World, and Military History.The bravery, guts, and out and out “can do” attitude of the Marines, doing what others said couldn’t be done, going where other branches would go, and not giving up is a trait of the United States Marine Corps.

Exhibit at the Marine Corps Museum

Exhibit at the Marine Corps Museum

I stayed on a Navy and Marine base, at the guest hotel, and when colors played I stepped out of my room, stood silently and watched every Marine, every car, and every person stop where they were in respect for the flag, tradition and country. It may not mean much to some, but this Marine Moms heart swelled as I heard my son casually greet another Marine on the sidewalk with Semper Fi. Always Faithful, a small reminder to another Marine they represent a brotherhood that will last a lifetime.

I’m proud of my sons and I’m proud of the United States Marine Corps.

Happy Birthday Marines! Have a great ball, celebrate, and yes, stand a little taller and be a little arrogant. You deserve it!

 

 

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Visiting the United States Marine Corps National Museum

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Recently I had the honor and privilege of visiting the National Marine Corps Museum with one of my Marine sons and it was amazing! As another Marine who was visiting said excitingly “This place is like Mecca to a Marine” and I would have to agree. It puts the Smithsonian museums to shame. The museum is located in Quantico Virginia and opened in 2005, so the exhibits are very modern, interactive and engaging.

Location and Cost

National Marine Corps Museum

Entry to the Marine Corps Museum

The Marine Corps museum is located 30 miles south of Washington DC and the silhouette of the building is easily seen from I-95 which invokes images of the flag raising over Iwo Jima.

Admission cost is free. Yes, free, free parking and free admission. There are a few donation boxes and I would bet just about everyone puts a few dollars in the box. The official National Marine Corps Museum website is just as engaging as the museum and as it guides you to each area with the same narration. But nothing will prepare you for the full immersion.

I’m only going to give a brief over view here and will go into more depth in future articles. We spent two days at the museum and they had to push us out at the end. If you plan on visiting and you have a Marine or two with you, wear good shoes, plan on standing a lot and plan on reading and learning more than you every expected about United States history, military history and world history.

Marine Exhibits and History

As you enter the museum you are all at once overwhelmed by the feeling of space, air, and majesty of the Corps. Planes hang over head, helicopters with Marines piling out are beside you on one side and a tank on the other.

As you look up you read the inspiring quotes of leaders, presidents and generals:

“I have just returned from visiting the Marines at the front and there is not a finer fighting organization in the world”

General Douglas McArthur, Army

Main Gallery of the Marine Museum

Main Gallery of the Marine Museum

From the terrazzo gallery you enter into the rest of the Museum in a logical order starting with Making Marines where you can get up close and personal with your own “Drill Instructor” experience. (more on this later)

Receiving and haircuts at boot camp

Receiving and haircuts at boot camp

The rest of the museum starts at Tun Tavern, the birthplace of the Marines and their involvement in the Revolutionary War. Throughout the six historical galleries I learned where famous phrases such as “the shores of Tripoli” originated.

The actual flag flown on Mt. Sarabaci on Iwo Jima

The actual flag flown on Mt. Sarabaci on Iwo Jima

My son soaked all of this history in, he read every placard, and for me it made me slow down (I can be slightly ADD, those who know me will smile at that statement) and absorb what I was reading. I learned history repeats itself, throughout the history of the world there have been terrorists (pirates) who attack without rationale and kill innocent people without reason.

I learned we have had embassies in Libya as early as 1805 and Marines joined a coalition to rescue American and Europeans during the Christian persecution during the Boxer Rebellion in China.In many ways we have the same political issues, just in different areas of the world.

There will always be pirates, rebels and terrorists who want to terrorize, oppress and kill people just because they they do not agree with their religion. There will be dictators and governments who want to dominate and control their citizens. But there are countries around the world who believe in freedom, who will fight to keep their citizens free and protect those who are being oppressed.

The Marines have played a critical role in keeping “bullies” from taking over and as you walk through the galleries you take pride in not only the United States military, but the resolve of the citizens supporting them at home. I learned very little about World War I in school, or maybe I just forgot most of it, but as you walk into the sights and sounds of Belleau Wood you can’t help but start to realize the enormity of battle, the loss of life, and the true horror of war.

A Marine Mom and her son As you walk through each historical exhibit they get more and more engaging from the cold of Chosin Pass to the heat and chopper sounds of Vietnam. It is a truly an experience. Throughout our visit we encountered Marines of every age, and veterans of many wars. I witnessed exchanges between my son and these veterans which warmed my heart and made this Mom smile with pride. The respect and honor is very apparent and I feel privileged I got to experience this with my son.

Past and Present

The last gallery ends with Vietnam in 1972, but 2015 begins the start of another 110,000 sq feet of exhibit space which will finish out the museum in 2020. It will start in the 1970s and expand to Operation Desert Storm, Desert Shield, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

After experiencing the intensity of conflict and war you can walk on the paths that take you through a 135 acre Marine Corps Heritage Center campus, through Memorial Park, beside the chapel, and which will eventually include parade grounds a conference center and a hotel.

Memorial Walkway at the US Marine Museum

Memorial Walkway at the US Marine Museum

The Story of the United States Marine Heritage Center Is…

  • To record our contributions to the nation
  • To tell our story
  • To preserve our artifacts and icons
  • To give back to the Corps

If you are ever in the Washington DC area, take a day and head south on I-95, even if you don’t have any connection to the Marine Corps. It is an experience for anybody and we saw veterans, school groups, women, children (there is a childrens section), and people from various countries.

I would love to hear from anyone who has visited the National Marine Corps Museum and learning about your favorite section and why. Please leave a comment below and until “Part Two”,  Semper Fi!

 

 

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Old Chinatown in Chicago

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Chicago’s Chinatown was just about what I expected.

Every big city has its own cultural diversity, each has their own neighborhood where they live, shop and gather. If you have never been to China or a metropolitan Chinatown then it’s an experience not to be missed. Now that my son is living in Chicago I have the opportunity, and excuse, to visit Chicago on a regular basis, and I’m going to play tourist whenever I can find the time. This trip we took in a boat ride, Billy Joel in Wrigley Stadium and Chinatown.

It’s easy to get to Chicago’s Old Chinatown from the Chicago CTA, just take the Red line to the Cermak-Chinatown stop and it’s only one block from the station.

Chinatown Chicago

From the CTA Station you turn right and go into a very modern shopping mall that looks very much like every other shopping mall, but the signs and decor is oriental in nature.But just to the left is a walled and gated shopping area and when you walk through the gates it feels like China, or what China might look like in Chicago anyway.

Shopping in Chinatown

Shopping in Chinatown

The signs are in Chinese characters, the smell is different, the food is distinctly authentic Chinese and you can buy everything from dried sardines, duck, Dim Sum, to Chinese herbs in the apothecary herbal shop. Some stores were trendy tourist traps with trinkets, but these are items you won’t find at Walmart or Target, so it was fun!

Shopping in Chinatown

Buying China in Chinatown

My favorite shop was the candy, or snack shop. Small bulk bins of wrapped candy, unwrapped dried fruits, sugared plums of all flavors, and for the more adventurous pickled duck tongue, and dried anchovies. Most of the bins had a small sample bowl for tasting, and all four of us had fun tasting and deciding what to buy.

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We timed our visit for the summer festival and the main street and vendors, food booths packed the street. Everything from straw hats to live turtles you could buy and take home. It was noisy, it was crowed, and I expected more Chinese entertainment. On their website saw Chinese musicians, acrobats, and the infamous Chinese parade dragon. Maybe those were scheduled events and we got there at the wrong time. The stage was in the middle of the seat and there were no bleachers to sit and watch.

Old Chinatown Chicago

Summer Festival in Old Chinatown Chicago

We ate at the Flaming Pot and sometimes you eat at a restaurant for the experience. Because of the crowds, their only English speaking waitress was very busy and did not have the time to fully “coach” us in how to properly prepare our food. It was very good, and a great place to go if you are in a group of people. This is a hot pot style of dining where you chose your flavored broth, meat, and vegetables and then you dipped the food into the boiling broth to cook. About halfway through we decided to just dump everything in and fish it out with a ladle. Much easier. A variety of sauces were available for flavoring the food and in that way it was very much like Hu Hot.

Flaming Pot Restaurant in Chinatown

Although the Flaming Pot was very clean and modern, it is apparent some of the buildings and markets in Chinatown are very unkempt and not up to standard American standards. We even saw a large rat (no I didn’t take a photo) running along side a building during the middle of the afternoon. Those things don’t freak me out. I’ve been to Europe and I understand life is not sterile.

We all had fun and spent the afternoon at the festival, bought gifts and added to our cultural experience. Now I want to explore the “new” Chinatown which is located in North Chicago, I can see it from the Red Line train and it looks very authentic. Bet I can get some good food there and it’s closer to my son’s apartment. I bet they deliver.

Explore Other Chinatown Cities Across the Country

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Chinatown, Oakland: The Oakland Chinatown StreetFest will commemorate the Year of the Horse with a two-day street party this weekend. The festivities include lion dancers, live bands and other performers taking to a pair of stages, while small
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The great Chicago Pizza Debate

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Mention food in Chicago and many people automatically think Chicago Pizza, then the discussion and debate begins on what is the best Chicago pizza in the city. I grew up in Connecticut and we had some pretty mean pizza there, you know the kind, deep dish pizza from a family owned restaurant, rich in tradition and so big it had to be cut in squares.

Chicago pizza

Giordano’s Meat & More Meat pizza

Chicago Pizza

People love to talk about food and when you mention you are from out of town the conversation normally goes like this

“Are you going to get some pizza”,

“Of course, but I haven’t decided yet from where”,

“Well you can’t go wrong with Giordano’s or Pizano’s

Those two places are mentioned the most, which makes sense, both are ranked highest on Chicago’s 10 Best Pizzas list by Thrillist.com. So on my weekend trip to see my son the deciding factor was who would deliver to his apartment. Giordano’s won.

My Review of Giordano’s Famous Stuffed PizzaChicago Pizza

This is a massively thick double crust pizza, you can tell it has some meat just by the weight. I judge the cheese quality by how an individual piece pulls apart from main pizza. It should leave a string of cheese trailing back to the pizza and you should have to grab it to claim that mozzarella for yourself.

The crust should be soft and moist, not dry and hard. You should want to eat the last bit of crust as if it were a stand alone Italian bread. Last but not least, the toppings should stay on the crust, not slide off (that’s a sign of a cheap pizza). On all these account Giordano’s passed with flying colors.

It is expensive, our large Meat & More Meat stuffed pizza pie (with tip) came to $30, but it did feed four of us with leftovers for the next day.

Giordano’s is so popular they will even ship pizza nationwide to anyone missing that “back home” pizza they remembered living in Chicago. Now that’s some serious pizza dedication. The price actually isn’t bad. A four pizza pack is $89 (not including shipping), packed in dry ice and delivered in two days.

What Chicago Pizza is Your Favorite?

 

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Chicago the Friendly City

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Chicago has the reputation of being a dangerous town, a corrupt city, and even though it is the third largest city in the United States you don’t hear people talking about talking a trip to Chicago like you do New York City or Los Angeles.

This could be because this City by the Lake is ranked as one of the most dangerous cities in the United States, and even the most depressing city in America. But after visiting this summer I do believe the people of the Windy City really want to change this reputation. I know my impression of has changed, and I want to go back. IMG_9013-300 Most of what I hear about Chicago is depressing, the crime, the corrupt politics, the unemployment, yet I knew there had to be more. Downtown is very much like any city, tall buildings, lots of shopping, restaurants, museums, and like New York, Chicago has a very efficient metro train system. For $15 we bought an unlimited metro pass which included the train, bus, and subway system.

After researching on line for the best places to live in the Chicago metro area my son picked an apartment in Edgewater, and I helped him move in January. He heard it was one of the safer neighborhoods and had the lowest crime rates. After spending time there I certainly believe it. The neighborhoods are clean, as if the residents take pride in the area where they live. The flower beds were blooming with color, restaurants have inviting outdoor seating with flower boxes and umbrellas.

There is a relaxed atmosphere, almost park like and yes, my son says he feels as though he’s living in a twilight zone when he steps out of his apartment. Considering he lived in a Marine Corps barracks in Yuma Arizona the previous three years seeing green and trees is probably a shock to his system.

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View outside the Chicago apartment

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Midnight after getting off the Chicago CTA train

At night there is a police presence on the corners and they regularly patrol. We parked our car at the hotel and either walked or took the CTA trains everywhere. Not once did I feel as though I was in danger, or threatened. Remember this is NOT the south side of Chicago, which from what I hear is a whole other world.

People were exceedingly friendly. We met a young black lady  on the train who was taking her three young nieces and nephews to the fountains Saturday night to watch the fireworks. She spoke with pride about her city and how “…so many people talk bad about Chicago, there is a lot the city offers, people just need to get out and experience it, there are a lot of family activities and events.” This is true, I had no idea Chicago had such wonderful beaches.

Our hotel and my son’s apartment was only blocks away from Lake Shore Drive and the softest, sandy beaches I’ve seen in the Midwest. It’s not the ocean, but Lake Michigan does have it’s own tide, and small waves. It’s the perfect place to people watch and the dog beach is very fun. Dogs of all shapes and sizes playing in the water, playing fetch and enjoying the summer day.

Dog beach on Lake Michigan, Chicago

Dog beach on Lake Michigan, Chicago

The Chicago Park system is quite extensive and encourages people to get out and enjoy the trails with rental bikes, trikes (if you look closely in the photo below you can see the trike to the left of the bench) or bring your own roller blades.

I met the friendliest pit bull during our morning walk, his eyes just yelled “Oh pet me, please pet me I’m so happy to see you”. His owner fit the breeds stereotype, although his eyes said the same thing. Don’t judge me by my looks. We had a nice conversation about the pup, who was only 8 months old and already interested in a twig and a nearby bird, so off they went.

We also met an very wrinkled, larger old lady in a bikini walking her hairless Chihuahua . Yes, I said it a bikini, and the phrase of the day became “You know when you get old and you don’t care what people think? I don’t think I can care that little”

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Part of the girls weekend trip to see my son included touristy things that he just doesn’t have time to do between his school and work. One of them was a lake and Seadog lake and river boat tour.

It was here that we met the forth very friendly Chicagoan, who was so excited to be sharing his city. Up until the week before he had never done a boat tour and he had lived there all his life. He recorded part of it on his iPhone and said we were in for an exciting trip. His words were “Chicago has heart!” and based on the people I met on this one weekend, Chicago is a friendly city and the people do have heart.

Sea dog boat tour in Chicago

Seadog boat tour in Chicago

The thing that topped off my respect and faith for the city of Chicago was when I misplaced my gift bag from Chinatown in the restroom of a restaurant. We were rushing to get on the Navy Pier bus at 4:00 pm and I wasn’t thinking. More than four hours later my kids convinced me to go back, maybe it’s still there. You see I don’t get souvenirs that often and this one had special meaning. So we made the trip back, I asked at the desk, I looked in the trash, I asked the bartender if anyone had turned anything in, no luck. Out of desperation I opened the door to the stall and in the corner sat my bag.

Yes, Chicago has a heart, Chicago is full of friendly people, Chicago has honest people.

Our girls weekend to visit my son was wonderful! We went to the Billy Joel Concert in Wrigley Field, ate Chicago pizza, went to Chinatown, did a boat tour, sat and watched a free concert at Millennial Park, watched fireworks, and visited Navy Pier (which I was very dissapointed) But best of all got to spend time with my son who is going to school at Tribeca Film Academy and making quite the name for himself in a very short time.

There will be a next time, Shea Aquarium, a few museums, and maybe even a show or two. Sometime I’ll actually sit on the beach for an afternoon, watch the dogs and the sailboats on the lake. Sounds like another great trip.

IMG_9424-381

Yes, I know about the gang mob violence in Chicago. Like any big city there are certain areas you avoid, there are precautions you take on the train, a certain way to behave, stay alert, not draw attention to yourself and stay safe. I had a drunk guy fall over on me on the train, but I also witnessed people applaud when my son killed a flying bug and “saved” a little boy who was scared.

So how about you? Have you been to Chi-Town (as some people affectionately call Chicago), do you live there? What do you like, what would you suggest for my next trip?

 

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Patriotic Horses at the County Fair

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Patriotic Horse Stole My Heart

The social event of the year in many rural communities is the county fair and in Cass County Nebraska this is no exception. Saturday night at the horse arena is the 4-H Horse fun event which includes a costume contest, ribbon ride, egg and spoon, and sit-a-buck. This patriotic horse was my favorite horse of the night and I had to get more of their story.

Patriotic Horse

Meet Willy the Red, White, and Blue patriotic horse

So meet Willy, the Red, White, and Blue horse and his little owner Courtney. This is what 4-H, friends, family, and the fair is all about, fun, smiles and horsing around, literally. According to her Mom, Micki, Courtney couldn’t decide how to decorate Willy for the costume contest, Pegasus was the first idea, but the thought of trying to create wings and attach them to the horse was just too challenging.

Patriotic Horse Costume

A girl and her horse (photo by Mom)

Courtney’s Dad was in the Air Force, and still works at Offutt Air Force Base in Bellevue Nebraska, so when her Mom saw this idea on line Courtney was very excited. Her friend didn’t have a horse to decorate so they went together as a team, one painted the stars and the other the red and white stripes.

God Bless America

God Bless America

They decided the opposite side should say “God Bless America” and tie red, white, and blue ribbons in WIlly’s mane and tail.  The red leg wraps gave the whole presentation a patriotic “pop” and although they didn’t win, they turned some heads and made more than a few people smile.

These girls have quite a number of years showing ahead and I can’t wait to see what they come up with next year. Fun night is held the last night of the fair after all the “serious” show competitions and events. It’s time to unwind and have some fun.

Thank you Micki for texting me pictures from earlier in the evening. By the time I got to the arena Willy’s paint was starting to rub off from the saddle and reins. Patriotic Horse I love watching the 4-H horse kids. I was a horse crazy when I was a kid and rode my bike into the country just to look at horses. Even though I didn’t own a horse, I joined 4-H and “borrowed” horses from club members, my first was a Quarter horse mare, Wimpy’s Kelly. I entered a few shows, but never really learned to “ride” and get a “seat” until college when a friend and I exercised roping horses at the local stable one summer.

Riding 3-4 horses a day taught you more in one day than a months worth of lessons. We even borrowed a cowboys horses an brought them to school one semester. When I became an adult and bought an acreage buying a horse was the first thing I did, her name was Tomcat Pat and she was a feisty energetic barrel and poles horse that loved to go trail riding. I was lucky enough to have her until she died at age 32, wish she were still around.

Patriotic Horse Costume Ideas and Resources

The Patriotic Horse – Stayton (Oregon) Daily Photo

Patriotic horse is patriotic. Or it’s just a coincidence it’s standing next to an American flag. Or is it? Yes, it is. Or not. This photo was taken along Sublimity Rd. SE, just outside of nearby Sublimity. In other news… Tomorrow is the …
Patriotic Horse Wear | Velvet Rider

Patriotic Horse Wear. July 3, 2014. Bookmark and Share. In honor of Independence Day, I decided to do a post on equestrian gear that celebrates our patriotism. There are options from subtle red, white, and blue to obvious flag references.
Patriotic Plume Browbands, Saddle Blankets and Rein Covers

WishPony.com to order your patriotic horse costume today! If placing custom orders for 4th of July (2011): Order by 5PM PST Wednesday June 15, 2011 for Standard Service Time and delivery by Saturday, July 2, 2011.

 

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Cows are a Fan of the Song Royals by Lorde

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I saw this today and I just had to share. I live in Nebraska, majored in Animal Science and yes, cows are curious, it’s hard to get photos of them at the fence as they will come right up to you. So it’s no doubt they would be an apt audience of the song Royal by Lorde. Heck, I’m a fan of the original and all the covers. But this is the best!!

Agriculture has taken a beating in the media for mistreating their animals. I would say these cows are clearly not mistreated, and in fact, I would say probably a little spoiled.

Who would of thought cattle would be such a fan of pop music? Derek Klingenberg is a farmer in Kansas, has quite the sense of humor and takes videotography to another genre. He’s pretty funny and I think this Angus cow below agrees.

Black Angus Cow

Day 52: Angus Cow

The video has gone viral and is hitting all over social media and even Ellen like the cows being serenaded with the Royals by Lorde and tweeted it. How cool is that, what a way to promote ranching and agriculture. Bet this is driving PETA and the HSUS crazy! (don’t worry I’m not linking to them, but to sites that reveal what those organizations really are)

Ellen tweets Cow love Royals by Lorde

If you like this you can Tweet Derek @KlingenbergFarm, or thank him on Facebook, better yet go to his YouTube page, a lot of  ag related parodies to keep you entertained for hours.

More Fun with the Song Royals by Lorde

Cows Come Running To Hear Farmer Play Lorde’s ‘Royals …

Who knew cows loved trombone music so much? In this clip, Farmer Derek Klingenberg manages to attract an entire herd of cattle by simply playing Lorde’s “Royals” on his trombone. If you’re the impatient type, skip ahead …
Exclusive “Weird Al” Yankovic Music Video: FOIL (Parody of …

Exclusive “Weird Al” Yankovic Music Video: FOIL (Parody of “Royals” by Lorde). CollegeHumor. SubscribeSubscribedUnsubscribe 7,585,217. Subscription preferences. Loading… Loading… Working… 14,844,867. 130,285 …
Watch Cows Come to Hear Farmer’s Moo-ving Rendition of Lorde’s “Royals” on …

Sorry Old MacDonald, but cows these days have no interest in your E-I-E-I-O schtick. Luckily, Derek Klingenberg is a modern farmer and farm-centric musical parody artist who has a YouTube channel and some unique ideas for bringing his cows home for the …
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