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2019-PLEASE NOTE: Since Google has stopped Open ID comments, I've been receiving Anonymous comments that don't SEEM like spam. If you DO comment on a post, please don't be disappointed if I don't post it. When I started my retirement travels - the first of which was my solo overseas trip to Italy in 2009 - I wanted a way to share it with family and friends as it happened. Hence, "My Travel Journal". However I realized I wouldn't always be on a trip and wondered what to do with the blog in between times. My daughter pointed out, wisely, that travels can also include trips to the kitchen to try a new recipe, trips to visit family, trips to my neighborhood Starbucks, or a fun day trip with a friend. You're welcome to join me on any of these journeys!

P.S. I've set up separate pages for each of my major trips (see tabs above).

I recently added an "Italian Word a Day" thingie which shows up at the bottom of every page. You see the word and can click to hear it pronounced. I've been enjoying it and I think my accent is improving as time goes by.

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April 01, 2019

A wonderful tour of the Washington National Cathedral

After a very pleasant event celebrating my late brother-in-law's life on Friday evening, my sister had arranged with my son Chris to provide a tour of the Cathedral on Saturday for her out-of-town guests with a lunch afterwards.  Chris has been a docent for well over 20 years at the Cathedral and seems to know every detail there is to know although he says no, he's not even close.  The photos in this post are all from the cathedral visit and for one of the first times in all my visits to this cathedral and any and all others that I've visited overseas, I was actually able to catch stained glass that didn't just show up as blinding white in a black space so I was pretty excited and took a bunch.  Chris was kind enough to look at them for me and explain each one's details like he did on our tour.  So, off we go...

The first two are  the West Rose Window which depicts themes of Creation in the abstract overall design.  Creation of light is perhaps most obvious, as all the color explodes out of the center's white glass.  Rowan LeCompte was the artist for this window and I took a close-up of a segment that shows where he signed it.  If you look closely you can see it...There is also a signature from Dieter Goldkuhle who was the fabricator of the window.

The window below is the Roots of Healing and honors the healing plants and herbs from the natural world.

The one below depicts Women of the Bible and features Pharoah's daughter discovering Moses; New Testament Martha and Mary; and includes depictions of the YWCA's mission because it was donated by the National Board of YWCA.

The next one is of the nave clerestory windows which are on the upper level and run all the way from the back of the nave to the front.  They all depict stories from the Old Testament and all of them \were also created by the artist Rowan LeCompte.

This window is a favorite with American visitors - it is the Space Window and honors space exploration, with imagery based on Apollo XI.  The earth, and its distant tiny sun are featured on the right hand bottom as well as the path of the mission to the moon and back (the white, angled line that points from the top of earth and goes up and around the white moon in the center of the ruby colored circle near the top. The little black dot in the center of the white moon is a piece of moon rock embedded in the window - a gift of NASA.  Chris explained that in the distant future, if people are still around, this window will tell a story of what we had accomplished by the time the window was created.

Below is Wings of Courage created in memory of a former Chief of Staff of the USAF.  The USAF Academy chapel is depicted in the top rondel.

The last two stained glass photos are 1) Moses window and 2) the Daniel window...

 Above is as much of the nave "ceiling" as I could get with my camera.  It is so beautiful when the sun shines through the windows - sort of like a symphony of color.

Below is a gargoyle of which there are many!  I like this guy sticking his tongue out.  Every gargoyle is different.

When we were up this high in the cathedral, we saw a number of signs of the earthquake that occurred in 2011.  I thought I had a picture that showed one of these pinnacles askew on its base but apparently not.  They have been working on repairs ever since but the work is arduous to say the least and also, it is being funded by donations.

 I liked the busyness of the scene above.  And the photo below, shows the entire nave from the back where you enter, to the altar.  It is a stunning building and Chris pointed out to us that it is a load-bearing building, just as they were in medieval times; without the use of any structural steel in the walls.

And below is the altar with the stunning carved backdrop called a reredos (thank heavens I have Chris to tell me all this!)

I took this picture because the Cathedral always has beautiful and unusual floral decorations.  This one I'm pretty sure has branches of forsythia in leaf and then the various lichen (am I right about that?) pieces.  This was quite lovely.

After our lunch at a Mexican restaurant within walking distance of the cathedral those of us who wanted to (me! me!) came back to the Cathedral to buy Lego bricks and get to help build the scale model that is the Cathedral's latest fundraiser (and certainly the most fun!)  I'm glad I come over here fairly regularly because I will want to buy some bricks and help get it finished.  It will be 13 feet long! and will be as much like the cathedral as you can get with Legos.  I did a post a few years ago about Sophia's and my visit to the Columbus, OH art museum and how stunned we were to walk into a room that had a huge Lego installation which was based on familiar buildings in Columbus.
So, here am I, after completing a pillar.  They said that as the builder,, I should be watching them closely to make sure it was placed correctly so that's why I look like I'm scratching my chin.  After that is a pic of Chris working on his - he buys bricks every chance he gets.

And just to show it can be done, the next pic is a stained glass window!

I know you're all wishing you could do some of the building, right?  Well, if you're in DC, all the more reason to visit the Cathedral.  And, if you're not, just go HERE and buy bricks for $2 each which volunteers at the Cathedral will place for you.  And, even if you're not buying bricks you'll  see the layout of the model.

March 21, 2019

I'm Still Alive and Still Eating!

And I LOVED the result I got with this recipe for:

{it's also posted under my "Recipes" tab above but I don't think anyone ever goes there when I post a new recipe! :) )}

I discovered when I came to my blog to post this, I already had a Moroccan beef stew recipe listed and it mentioned "my first Moroccan stew recipe" so this is my third and perhaps three times really is the charm because this was truly delicious!  No pictures of this one but when I get around to making it again, I will try to remember to post some.  I found this recipe on The Cooking Nook on the web.

Ingredients (I left the full size ingredient list for those of you who feed other than yourselves. :)

2 lbs boneless beef chuck roast (NOTE:  My second recipe called for cut-up chuck roast                                                        also and I think one reason it was SO good is because the                                                      meat wasn't cut up & there were little bones in each rib.)
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 - 14 ounce cans beef broth
2 cups onion, chopped
1 - 14 ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup dry red wine
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 cups golden raisins

For just me, I used two meaty “short” ribs (they seemed kind of long to me) and cut down all the other ingredients, of course.  I don’t think I used even 1 can of beef broth - in fact, I didn’t have beef broth so I either used vegetable broth or bone broth.

I probably chopped up half a medium onion, I didn’t used canned diced tomatoes - I used halved or quartered Campari tomatoes (smaller than tomatoes but bigger than cherry and grape tomatoes).

I sloshed in some red wine with the broth - maybe between the two of them I ended up with a cup or so of liquid.

I combined all the dry seasonings (and I think I divided the measurements in half rather than smaller because I wasn’t sure how much my meat would need).

I didn’t have any golden raisins and thought “what if I ruin the whole thing by adding dark raisins?” so no raisins, but I think they would have been delicious in this dish.  So here’s what you do:

Preheat the oven to 350.

Season the meat with the seasonings first, then brown the meat well in a roasting pan and throw in the onions for a bit. Add the tomato sections next and finally, pour in broth and put in oven. Bake for 3 to 4 hours (I really did and am glad!) but check the liquid level 2 or 3 times. First time I checked it had cooked down quite a bit so I lowered the temp to 300 and added most of the rest of my wine/broth mix.Between this check and my next one would be when to add raisins. The second time I checked, the liquid had cooked all away and there was quite a brown cover in the pan. So I added yet a bit more of wine and broth and on the stove top, heated that up to let the alcohol cook out of the wine and also remove any tomato skins available (altho they had charred a bit so weren’t really worrisome). Then I ate it!! Every last bit. I had one of my small, toasted naan breads as a sopper-upper. It would be good over rice probably and even better over polenta.

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