Boating in the North Woods

Every day, we’ve been getting on the boat, at least for a few hours. The family has either been exploring the connecting lakes, geocaching on islands only available by boat, swimming, fishing or just resting on the boat.

The cabin abuts Rest Lake, the water is so clean, you could just dip a cup into it and drink from it, similar to the Boundary Waters in Canada (Ok, maybe those are cleaner, since boats are generally not allowed there).

There are little cabins along the lakes, which are great to look at and dream about, some are tiny and look like they were built in the 70’s and others are pristine and new. I wonder if I could leave my city life and live a simple life in the woods, just enjoying the water, the smells of the trees and eating fresh fish on a regular basis.

The doggie enjoys the boat so much that because of all the excitement, her tail got swollen.

Sebastian loves all the attention from his cousins.

They walk him around and he babbles more than he ever did, telling them, no, he doesn’t want to go that way or to be held or to sit or yes, he wants to keep walking. Its impressive, even though he can’t talk, his gestures clearly convey what he wants.

Here’s a picture of my brother’s mother-in-law, Chris, who is clearly an expert fisherwoman. She caught the only fish on the first night of fishing, a small mouth bass.

And, if we’re back by the cabin, we have a lot of fun swimming…and the girls have a great time jumping off the dock.

Well, I’m off to sit out with Sebastian by the campfire, so this one is short for tonight!

Trails Through the Forest

I’m vacationing in Manitowish Waters, about 20 miles north of Minocqua. My brother and his family rented a log cabin on the lake. It is so incredibly beautiful, with these big windows and natural wood everywhere. The air here is so fresh and the water so clear. There are so many lakes, connected to each other and I just can’t get enough of being outside. When you live in the city, you crave grass and trees and water. The East River doesn’t cut it and Central Park is great, but it’s nice to get outside of the city.

After breakfast, my family went off boating and I stayed at the lodge, waiting for Sebastian to wake up from his nap. When he woke up, I gathered him and some blueberries and started walking. I asked him whether he wanted to go left or right. He smiled when I said right, probably because I jumped to the side when I asked and so I decided to go that way. I followed the signs that said “snowmobile route”.

I found a rocky narrow, path first that took me through to another trail and another trail and eventually to a sign that said “Discover Center“. I had no idea what it was, but I was intrigued, so I kept going.

Trail 1

Trail 2

Trail 3

Discovery Center

I went down the path and found that it was a really neat place with tons of trails and great things for kids, including mini gardens, an outdoor theatre and lots of things to touch and play with . They even have classes for kids, that let them set live traps and learn about the woods. It’s just a great place and a random discovery!

They even had an Airstream trailer! (Or at least what I thought was a mini Airstream trailer, until my husband corrected me!)

“Airstream” Trailer

Ooooh, how I would love to travel around the country in one of these, perhaps a tiny bit bigger though…

Inside the “Airstream”

We walked past a nature center, a row of cabins (rented out for events and weddings) and a visitor center, where I found maps of the trails.

Nature Center

Cabins

I decided to take Sebastian on the Interpretive Trail. 

Take a Hike

Pond on Trail

It was a lot of fun exploring new places with Sebastian. Eventually, my mom joined us and we laid out a blanket under a big tree, ate blueberries and cuddled with Sebastian.

A Swimsuit for a New Mommy

Today is another example of why I love New York so much. It’s swimsuit season. Although I’ve already spent a week at the beach and (much to my chagrin) have been in a bathing suit already, I couldn’t help but think, I could stand to finally lose that baby pouch. It’s not exactly easy trying to lose weight when I don’t have a babysitter and we’re not letting the baby watch any TV until he’s at least 2 years old. So, those dance dvds are out of the question now. I rely on stroller walks…until it became 99 degrees outside.

So, yesterday, at around noon, near the Flatiron Building on 5th Avenue between 22 and 23rd, Sebastian and I came across the Miraclesuit Bus. I found the schedule online and went to Madison Square Park to find that bus, which was taking a tour around the city and giving out swimsuits to lucky ladies in many different locations. The good news—I’m one of the lucky ones!

This suit promises to make you look 10lbs lighter. Um, guess who needs that? THIS new mommy!

A bag was thrown down with a yellow sheet inside, allowing me to get a new suit. The bag also contained an ENORMOUS pair of flip flops (LOL!). I was thrilled, more about the free bathing suit than the flip flops, which were big enough for my husband’s feet!

I found my friend, Donnell Adler modeling a suit, looking glamorous, as always. (I have to add that while she was holding the baby at one point, a guy on the street leaned over and said, “I wish I was that baby!”) Below, she modeled with the baby and the stroller. Perfect example of the look a new mommy could be wearing, while she strolls down a beach…or Fifth Avenue!

I also met supermodel Roshumba Williams, who, by the way, was incredibly well spoken and sweet (so, all you supermodel haters, stop it!). Sebastian, being the ladies man he is, loved her to pieces and kept staring at her.

I can’t wait to see the effect of this new slimming bathing suit, so I can be a more confident mommy!

 

Pick Your Own Fruit

I always look forward to picking fruit in the summer. In New York, it’s currently cherry and strawberry season. So, this weekend, we took Sebastian on a trip to Lawrence Farms to pick some fruit and veggies.

First, we grabbed a bucket and a cardboard bin. Cherries get plastic buckets and the strawberries get the cardboard (strawberries don’t like plastic). You can always grab a wagon, but we had our stroller and didn’t need to take one of those. I think that will be fun for Sebastian to ride in a wagon…maybe next time!

Then, after all of that, we needed a break from the hard work of getting bins and had to try one of their world renowned donuts. Ok, maybe no one outside of New York has heard of these…but…boy, they were good! If they weren’t behind that glass case, I would have gobbled down all of them!

While we were snacking, the biggest dog I have ever seen walked past us several times. Lots of people were coming up to pet him, but I was on high alert because he was taller than me. He didn’t mind being pet and pretty much ignored everyone, only looking for food bits on the ground. A lot of children touched him, but I certainly didn’t want Sebastian attempting to pet him or grab him. I’ve heard of one too many stories with dogs and babies. I’m always a bit nervous when any animal is around my little boy. In one second, everything can change and I know that we can’t always control everything, so why not control the things we can?

We started with the cherry picking. There were some rules to follow. My favorite was that you could be charged for excessive eating. I can just imagine someone walking around and checking how much everyone is tasting. That’s the whole fun of picking fruit, you HAVE to eat it!

Sebastian particularly enjoyed the cherries. He wanted to hold them, eat them, grapple them, look at them, whatever we would let him do. I would just give him half pieces of cherries and throw out the pit and he just couldn’t get enough. I’m starting to think he likes the sweet and tart, like his mommy does!

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He giggled, as he watched Daddy climb in the cherry trees to get him the ripest cherries.

After we had our fill of cherries, we moved on to strawberries and finally, hit up the greens to get our lettuce and kale. There are very few strawberries because the frost damaged a lot of them, but when you taste tiny strawberries, warm with the sun, it is the sweetest, most wonderful taste.

We took shifts picking strawberries, so Sebastian could crawl around. I know I’ve mentioned it already, but just thinking about the sun warming up a fresh strawberry makes my mouth water.

He loved crawling around in the grass, throwing his arms up, trying to pick the “flowers” or weeds.

 

And, of course, he had to practice his walking among the strawberry fields!

I can’t wait for peach season to begin!

ADaM and Evelyn

This weekend I helped out my friend, Alice Evelyn, by taking a series of photos for her non-profit, Contemporary American Dance Museum (ADaM). Of course, Sebastian came with me for the first series of shots. Like I always say, we are a package deal. She’s been working on this project for years and it was incredible to see this passion and commitment develop into reality. I have to admit that when I first met her years ago and she was describing her non-profit ambitions, I didn’t really fully understand what she wanted to do. I would hear words like “document” and “archive” and not know exactly how that would relate to dance. But, when I saw it all come together in the last year, it started making more sense and when I saw it in person, it was exceptional.

The Committee for the Contemporary American Dance Museum is a non-profit organization seeking to establish a museum, which will show fine art interpretations of the creative process of making dance. I know it sounds complicated, but in action, it is captivating.

So, here’s how it works. First, Alice Evelyn does a lot of magic behind the scenes and by magic, I mean, hours and hours of work every night. She collaborated with a choreographer named Stephanie Batten Bland and several artists, including Benjamin Heller, Miguel Anaya, Carol Prud’homme Davis, Jonathan Paul Wagner, Adam Miller, Antonio Lai da Teulada, Kristin Kunc. All of this work takes months of effort, donated art, fundraising and invitations.

Second, the pre-installation happens. I had a chance to photograph a few hours of the “before” efforts:

The artists plan the order the drawings and paintings will go on the wall.

 

Bumper came along to help out with the baby and model the projection on the wall, showing some footage of the actual dance and use of the eggs or globes in the choreography.

 

Alice and Jonathan are working hard here, trying to get all the work up in a very short time frame.

A lot of measuring occurs during the pre installation.

Levels are used to perfect the hanging of the photographs by Benjamin Heller.

Even Alice's parents assisted in the exhibition.

Third, People go to see a dance performance. In this case, it was “A Place of Sun,” a contemporary ballet dance at the Baryshnikov Art Center. Finally, people come to see the exhibition, which was aptly called “Creation in Motion”.

Alice Evelyn is ready for the exhibition.

Stephanie Batten Bland, the Choreographer.

Attendee viewing the artwork.

The Dancers arrive.

The egg from the performance.

Some of the Crowd gather.

More Crowd.

 

Art using Charcoal

As a bonus, the installation lasts a few days in a Chelsea art gallery and there’s a panel discussion on how the dance was created with lots of fun questions from the audience, like “What is the egg made of?” Yes, there was an egg, look at the photos! It was used in the performance and then brought to the exhibition. It was unique to see how something like that could be used in a dance.

The Panelists

Overall, a success. (Trust me, not all the Chelsea art exhibitions are that great, but this particular one was top notch.)

I Love the Franciscan Friars.

Monks walking in The Way of the Cross 2012

Yes, it’s true. They’ve gotten me addicted. Five years ago, I was on a plane to St. Petersburg to trek over Russia, Mongolia and China on the Transiberian Railroad. When I was flying, I met a seminarian. I had just moved to NYC a few months before that and complained to him that there was nothing really Catholic about NYC, like there was about Chicago. In Chicago, I was involved in lots of great groups, retreats, Churches, etc.

This seminarian looked at me in shock. He said, there’s tons of stuff in NYC! Haven’t you heard of Catholic Underground and then he mentioned a bunch of other big things that exist. I was so excited. This was the perfect way to start the trip. Seriously, it’s worth your time to read this fantastic NYT article about the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, entitled “Monks Who Play Punk.” And, yes, they do. And, they play it awesomely.

I’ve talked about Catholic Underground here. And, I know I’ve done the Way of the Cross walk with the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal before, but this time I had my son and my husband with me. As an added bonus, my parents and my friends were along too.

So on Good Friday, we started out at the St. Joseph Friary in Harlem to walk up to the Bronx. They had refreshments out for those who weren’t fasting all day. I drank a lot of water before we started the walk, so of course, I needed to use the restroom. The two restrooms had long lines, so I was led by one of the brothers to the living quarters. I felt like I got a peek into this private religious life.

It was a beautiful day for a pilgrimage – not too hot or too cold, and a nice sunshine to warm you. As we walked, we often prayed and sang together. The brothers had a neat system where they would pray together using walkie talkies to keep everyone in sync. The brothers took turns carrying a large wooden cross and wearing a crown of thorns, as you can see in the pictures below.

One of the more impressive things was seeing the reactions of people along the way. Many people stopped what they were doing and took pictures and videos (on their iPhones, usually), and some people even joined in on the pilgrimage.

Here are some new pics from an incredibly spiritual Good Friday walk.

The brothers took turns carrying a large wooden cross and wearing a crown of thorns.

Walkie Talkies were used to participate in prayer throughout the walk.

Pictured here is Brother Simon who Sebastian took a liking to. Brother Simon rapped for us after the pilgrimage.

Sebastian loved walking in Daddy's Arms


My good friend, Nancy, is being very cute in this photo.

 

Hundreds of people participated in the pilgrimage.

My parents are peeking out in the crowd of people.


Easter Basket Blessing

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I wanted to explain a little about my other Polish tradition of blessing our Easter basket. First, I should say, that in any area that has a large population of Poles, it’s common to see this blessing at all Catholic Churches. In Chicago, it’s very common in any church to do this on Holy Saturday, whether you are Polish or not.

Close-up of Easter Basket

Our Easter Basket

 

In New York, it’s a little different. Though, I saw plenty of Americans today, I believe they were at least partly of Polish decent, since I heard them speaking English, but saying a few Polish words here and there, like “We need to bring this back for babcia,” meaning grandmother.

I grew up with this tradition, so I was surprised when I moved to New York and didn’t see all Catholics doing it. Admittedly, it was a bit sad for me, especially seeing the dwindling amount of Poles in Manhattan, as it is an extremely expensive city to live in. I think most American Poles have moved to Chicago!

Below is my photo of my Easter Basket, filled with all sorts of mouthwatering delights.

Easter Basket Explained

We went to St. Stanislaus Church in the East Village. They conveniently had blessings from 12PM-7PM, every half hour. The priest read a blessing from his prayer book and blessed each type of item that I mentioned above and then went around the room, sprinkling Holy Water at people and the Easter baskets.

Holy Water

Priest Blessing the People and Easter Baskets

Priest Blessing the People and Easter Baskets

 

Easter Eggs, The Old Fashioned Way

After a phenomenal five hours in church for Fr. Rutler’s powerful meditation on the seven last words of Christ and liturgy at Our Savior Church, I realized that we still needed to get ready for Saturday’s Easter Basket Blessing. This is a Polish tradition that I will explain more in an upcoming post. On Holy Saturday, we always get our basket ready for a blessing, so we can eat delicious and blessed food on Easter Sunday!

Since Husband and I have been trying to live our lives more simply and more naturally, the way my parents raised me, I jumped at the idea of dying our Easter eggs naturally. We did that when I was growing up, but for the last few years, I kept buying those bright colored kits because it was more convenient for lots of people to decorate eggs at our annual Easter decorating parties.

With my father’s assistance, we began the process. Because we started with cage free brown eggs, the colors weren’t going to change drastically, but it was fun to do nonetheless.

Cup of Boiled Blueberries

 

Coffee Grinds boiled for the deep brown color.

 

First, we boiled the eggs. At the same time, we had three pots filled with 2 cups of water and our desired natural ingredients to make the different colors. I decided to use frozen blueberries for the purple color, onions for the golden color and coffee grounds for the dark brown color.

 

Straining Blueberries

Straining Blueberries

 

Using Hubby's Chemex to Strain the Coffee Grinds

 

Once we had boiled the water with these ingredients, we strained it into cups and added vinegar to brighten the colors. We left the eggs in the cups overnight in the fridge to give them a richer color.

Ready to Dye the Eggs

My mother bought decorative sleeves for the eggs from a Polish store.  The colors were magnificent and think it will add a lot to our basket tomorrow.

Pretty Easter Egg Sleeves, also called "Pisanki" in Polish

 

I placed the sleeve on, ever so tenderly! :)

 

After, you place the sleeve on the egg–all the eggs are different sizes, so sometimes it’s more of a challenge, then you place them in boiling water. The sleeves shrink tightly around the egg when you dip them in hot water.

Sleeves Shrinking in Boiling Water

 

 

Whimsical Winter Getaway

After constant craziness, we needed a weekend getaway with phones and internet turned off. Well, we didn’t totally do that, since I had some stuff arriving in from Syria and had to be on the phone to see if US Customs finally cleared the package. But, either way, it was a perfect weekend, one I certainly will not forget.

Little Cabin

We rented a cozy cabin in Port Jervis, New York. It was a tiny studio cabin, just perfect for two of us.

Bed and Fireplace

The cabin had cute little country decorations, heated stone floors, a huge fire place and a place for us to play our board games.

Quilted Bathroom

Notice the quilted theme in the cabin.

Slippers

Of course, we brought our slippers.

Snowshoe Equipment

Our snowshoe equipment had a place in the entrance way.

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Our cottage was called “The Bluebird Cottage”, which was totally cute, since we have a running inside joke about birds. Here is the sign for the cottage, under a lot of snow. Perfect to have a lot of snow, when our goal was to spend a lot of time out in the snow during the day!

Gorgeous Day

It was a gorgeous day outside and we had 500 acres that we could explore around the property. We just exited our cabin and started walking, until we decided on a path to start snowshoeing. It was so nice to not have to drive anywhere and be able to spend the day walking around and spending time with each other. We were excited to tumble in the snow a bit.

My Snowshoes

It was my first time snowshoeing and I was super excited to finally live out this dream I’ve had to try this since I found out about snowshoeing about 15 years ago! First goal, tying the snowshoes. Husband was uber sweet and tied mine on my feet, so that I wouldn’t have any unexpected slips and falls in the snow!

Dominika on Snowshoes

It was so much fun to snow shoe all over the place. I saw foot prints that were about a foot and a half deep and yet, Husband and I were able to stay on top of the snow with my big shoes!

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Ray wore his warm sweater we got in Norway, when we traveled there 5 years ago. He didn’t even need a coat with his windproof sweater. Those Scandinavians understand the winter better than anyone!

Water Tower

We came across this water tower. I did a handheld HDR shot. Thought it was too beautiful to pass up.

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Aweeeeee….Ray Hearts Misia (that’s my nickname in Polish, pronounced, “Mee-sha”)

Ray and Dominika in the Snow

We found a place to set the timer up on the camera and have a photo taken together.

Negotiating the Woods

We spent time negotiating the woods, climbing on logs, hills and even rock walls (it’s easy to do anything in snowshoes!)

Tobago Boardgame

In the evening, we played boardgames. This one is a new favorite of mine, called Tobago. It is really clever and I love the pieces and the way the game is laid out.

Immaculate Conception of St. Mary's Church

Later in the weekend, we went to a Mass in Port Jervis at the Immaculate Conception of St. Mary’s Church.

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Surprisingly, Archbishop Timothy Dolan was invited to the Mass. What a perfect end to a perfect weekend by attending this phenomenal Mass! I was blown away that in this random town, on this particular weekend celebrating Ray’s birthday and Valentine’s Day, we had our wonderful Archbishop with us!

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On the road trip home, we had one more heart thrown into the weekend…a heart shaped donut filled with boston creme. Perfection.

Cheating with Big Daddy

Big Daddy's Diner

It was Friday night, friends were in town and I was good all day…until after we saw Fuerza Bruta. We went to Big Daddy’s Diner and I had something that was so bad for me, but so delicious that I don’t even feel any guilt. Earlier in the week, I watched my friends eat yummy things in front of me and I stayed true to my week long Green Binge plan. Finally, Friday night, I said it’s ok to cheat a little bit (when it comes to food, of course, nothing else!)

The name of the shake was “The Cookie Monster,” and I certainly can’t resist a great name for a fantastic product. Though it was in liquid (almost smoothie) form, it was neither green, nor vegan and raw. It was dairy goodness! Do you know that this diner has Shake Happy Hours?! I may have to come back for that.

The Cookie MonsterI didn’t just have the shake, I also ate fries and chicken tenders. I noticed something. I couldn’t really eat the whole thing. Normally, when something is so delicious and fried up, I can just breath it all in and it’s gone! This time, I only had half of my shake, two chicken tenders and there happened to be a lot of left over fries. Maybe this diet makes me want other things? I’m not sure, but it seems to be the case.

Pondering all these questions, I know one thing, it was a great night with friends and I was just still beaming after seeing Fuerza Bruta–another post this week on that. It was some of the most incredible performance art I’ve ever seen.

Friends at the Diner

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