Monday, April 23, 2012

Me And My Guy

Ready to go. Mama was partial to white flats but Madeline *had to* wear her silver sandals.
The regional council of Madeline's Girl Scout Daisies Troop held a "Me And My Guy" Father-Daughter dance.  The theme of the dance was focusing on the 100th birthday of the Girl Scouts, however that is not what interested David and Madeline.  David was happy to spend special one-on-one time with Madeline.  Madeline, girl through and through, loved the idea of going on a "date" with Papa yet enjoyed, at least as much, the preparation for the dance - shopping, primping and dressing fancy.  We tried to make the event a big deal so that the evening was a special event, sharing extra special time with Papa.
Getting her wrist corsage

Madeline and I headed to the store to buy a pretty dress (gotta love JCPenney's new, revamped pricing structure!)  Madeline flipped through the racks like a pro, but the funniest things were her commentaries on the dresses she passed by. "That one is too stripey" "That one is too yellow".  "That one in not appropriate". "That one makes me look like a farmer girl".  Madeline finally settled on a coral dress that had a very subtle sparkle in the net overlay.  She liked it because she thought it looked like a Dancing With the Stars (aka "Sparkly Dancing") dress.  To pay proper honor to her dress Madeline was very excited about the fact that once she was ready, she was able to make a grand entrance into our foyer by descending the foyer's curved staircase - just like the dancers in Dancing With The Stars.

Madeline was thrilled that I let her wear one of my (costume jewlery) bracelets
Madeline and I also prepared her for the dance by primping like any girl would for a dance.  By chance I had in my nail polish collection a color that matched Madeline's dress.  I polished up Madeline's fingers and toes.  Our primping rituals were complete only after I polished nails, we applied some scented Bath & Body Works lotion, curled hair and I even let Madeline wear a very light pink lipstick.  Madeline loved being a girlie-girl and loved taking part of a special event - just her and her papa.  After getting a small wrist corsage from Papa, they were on their way.

Me And My Guy Dance
The dance had a great showing.  Madeline was happy to run into some of her friends there.  Madeline made some new friends at the dance and spent time dancing with a group of girls on the dance floor.  Madeline also shared some floor time with Papa - no small feat!  David did say that, in general, Madeline spent a lot of time on the dance floor doing her own thing.  She didn't care if she was dancing with someone or not.  She did not feel self conscious about going nuts.  That's my girl!!  For those of you that know me well....this video is proof - like mother, like daughter!  You go girl....it doesn't matter who is watching. Seize the moment, dance your heart out and have fun.  After watching this, I think we can all agree that she did.


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Monday, April 9, 2012

Finding Our Way To Easter

Midtown Global Market, Minneapolis
I am assuming that this is no different than most people. For each holiday, we have our own little traditions and rituals that we incorporate in both the preparation and celebration of the holiday at hand.  I guess the familiarity is what helps give our celebrations a warm-fuzzy, comfortable feeling.  Since moving to Minnesota, we muddled our way through Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years.  Each of those, however, were celebrated at our rental house. With the "rental" environment came a certain level of "this will do" attitude because we were in a temporary situation.  This Easter, however, was our first holiday in our new house.  It was time for getting back to our traditions and laying some roots.

Broadway and Fillmore in Minneapolis
NE Minneapolis Polish store
"Getting back to our traditions".....hmmmm.  Interesting thought.  So much of my rituals were based on where to purchase items in preparation for our celebrations.  My mom would have her favorites - Redlinski's, Ellie's Deli, Wegmans, Broadway Market.  And so I, trying to replicate traditions I grew up with, would follow my mother's own shopping rituals. And my mom probably followed her mother's "favorites".  The saying "just like mom's cooking" evolved for a reason.  The problem, however, is when these ritual locations are a 16 hour drive away.  How does one plan? How does one prepare?  I can tell you that finding my way made me feel like a fish out of water. 

Kramaczuk Polish Platter
Madeline chose a chick egg for herself and a blue one with orange tulips for Jonathan.
Prior to our move, I thought ahead and purchased & brought from Buffalo most Christmas necessities.  I was prepared with dried mushrooms, pierogi, & oplatek.  For Easter, I even froze and brought along our Easter kielbasa.  However, so much of what I missed this year was the preparation for Easter.  Why? Because *being* at the Broadway Market is so much part of the feel of the holiday.  The cultural vibe and festive air that pulses through the Market is completely unique to my hometown.  Madeline even kept asking about a visit to the Market, however I had to remind her that the Market was in NY.  Despite the distance, I did my best to satisfy our traditional cravings.

My "butter poodle"
My first stop was the Midtown Global Market in Minneapolis.  It sounded promising.  I knew it would not be the same as the Broadway Market, however, I was hoping to find some European delicacies. No such luck.

Madeline and I dancing up a storm during Easter preparations
Jonathan giving his papa a "What is *wrong* with these girls??" look as he watched us dance.
Next I wanted to hunt down a Polish foods store (Ziach Polish Foods) that I found through my on-line research.  Some of you reading this may already know that Buffalo's Broadway Market is located on the corner of Broadway and Fillmore in Buffalo.  On my way to Ziach's, I found myself sitting at a stoplight on the corner of Broadway and Fillmore....in Minneapolis!  Ziach's was very small and very Polish.  The aroma that greeted me when I walked thru the door was a very familiar Polish cooking aroma.  I was pleased about that familiarity.  The staff and patrons were chatting in Polish.  Although I never learned the language, I grew up hearing my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles speak the language.  I chit chatted a little bit (in English) with the people in the store and asked if there was anywhere in the area that celebrated Dyngus Day.  Out of ANYWHERE in the Cities, a Polish store would know where to direct me to Dyngus Day festivities.  Only one person at the store even knew what I was referring to (she also tried to sell me on talking to a local Polish parish priest, who happened to be in the store, about organizing a Dyngus Day party.  Ugh...Although I love party planning, I don't have the time or energy for that kind of undertaking these days).  And so, I am saddened to know that Dyngus Day is non-existent here in Minnesota.  (For those unfamiliar with Dyngus Day, it is the Polish equivalent to Mardi Gras, except on the backside of Lent.  In Buffalo, *everyone* is Polish on Dyngus Day.  Check out this link for more info on Dyngus Day Buffalo).  I did end up leaving this store with ham, rye bread, poppy seed cake and bigos (not for Easter).

Lamb cake attempt #1 - Madeline waiting to lick the beaters
LAST YEAR'S lamb cake. What it SHOULD look like.
After salvaging what I could of attempt #2, I created this "bunny" (kind of) cake.
I saved my visit to Kramarczuk's for last because I had already visited there in the past and had an idea of some of the items there.   I would have purchased my kielbasa there in a pinch, however, prior to our move I bought Redlinski's kielbasa and froze it.  They also sold butter lambs.  I should have purchased one.  Instead, I was feeling ambitious and wanted to make one.  David says that my butter lambs look more like butter poodles.  Oh well....  Our trips to the Broadway Market have often included lunch at Perison's.  Kramerczuk's does have a European Cafe, and so Madeline and I ended up splitting a Polish Platter for lunch.  Good but....at risk of sounding like my mom, my golumbki are better.  The absolute plus to eating at the cafe was that I noticed a Baltic Gift shop was connected to Kramarczuk's.  I had not noticed the Baltic gift shop upon entering and so I might have missed it if we hadn't sat down for lunch.  On our trips to the Broadway Market, each year I would have Madeline pick out a Polish egg for herself and I had begun that process for Jonathan last year too even though he was still in my tummy.  The Baltic gift shop carried Hungarian, Ukranian, and Polish eggs (as well as a number of other items).  Madeline was able to pick out an egg and she picked one out for Jonathan too.

Coloring Easter Eggs
Our Easter Baskets before the Easter Bunny hid them.
Madeline found Jonathan's basket
Yeah! Madeline found her basket too!
I was pleased to get the items on my Easter shopping list.  Next on the agenda was to prepare for the day.  With David "playing DJ" and cranking some tunes, Madeline and I danced away in the kitchen and got busy getting ready for Easter.  We attempted to make a lamb cake using the cake mold that my Aunt Sue had passed down to me.  I have no idea what I was doing wrong!  Last year I used the mold and made a perfectly fine cake.  This year, however, I made two attempts and ended up with a "species change operation".  My first attempt at the lamb cake was taken out of the oven.  When the cake cooled a bit I opened up the mold and the cake was not even close to being cooked all the way.  I ran out to the store and got ready for my 2nd attempt.  This time I baked the cake long enough but I obviously did not butter the pan enough.  The poor lamb had seen better days.  By this time in the evening I needed to work with what I had and piece together what I could salvage.  With the pieces, I created a "bunny" cake.  I'll try again next year...

There are only 3 of us partaking in all of this...oh yeah, I made potato salad too!  What was I thinking??
In the evening we decorated the Easter Eggs and set out our Easter baskets for the Easter Bunny to fill.  Although this is Jonathan's first Easter, Madeline was happy to show him the ropes.  In the morning she located all four of our baskets and, as Mama-Dirtyfoot silently cringed, Madeline dug right into the sweets first thing in the morning.  After church we enjoyed our Easter meal. We prefer to enjoy our Easter feast in the late afternoon, which is what we did......followed by a very lazy family evening together.  Yes, we may have "winged" our way to our first Easter in Minnesota but, overall, we did okay.  And in the process, we made some nice memories.  Now....if we could only do something about Dyngus Day!!

Miss Dyngus Day 2010 in Buffalo parade, holding "Red Pig Candle"......ahhhh, LONG story - but, what happens on Dyngus, stays on Dyngus.