:type travel tuesday: {gruene hall, texas}

Gruene Hall, Gruene, Texas. Texas' oldest dance hall, built in 1878.

(and that's pronounced "green" not "groin")


casting our shadows

"...what did it profit me that I read and understood for myself...while not knowing Him from whom came whatever was true or certain...

This insight from St. Augustine creates a beautiful image: When we're facing away from the light of God, and the light of faith, our own shadow gets in our way, and we can't see what is true or where to go. However, when we're facing into God's light and walking towards Him in faith, our eyes and our path are illuminated.

(photo from pinterest)


culinary quest: roman lasagna

Italian food is AWESOME. After eating mind-blowing pasta in Italy we decided it would be fun (and hopefully delicious) to start playing around with making our own pasta. Brandon's mom got us a pasta maker and we started experimenting! (More on that later).

This week we attempted to recreate the melt-in-your-mouth lasagna we had in Rome. Our friend Kevin recommended a hole-in-the-wall, didn't-even-have-a-sign, restaurant called Alfredo e Ada. Thank you, Kevin! It is a two person operation, Alfredo runs the front, and is the waiter, while Ada runs the kitchen (are they a couple? related? not sure). They have only a few primi piatti options each night and a big tapped barrel of house wine. It's so tiny inside that I couldn't really get a picture. The food was fabulous and when we had decided to forego dessert (in favor of gelato on the way home) Alfredo brought it to us anyway, on the house.

We had a little Rome reunion the other night and tried to recreate their "con carne" lasagna. Brandon baked a from-scratch ragu sauce for hours in preparation. We rolled out the pasta and assembled the lasagna together.

Alfredo e Ada's lasagna had about 8 layers of thin pasta, meaty sauce and cheese. That was it. It baffles me how Italian food which is so simply made from very few ingredients explodes with so much flavor.

The lasagna was delicious, and had the same melt-in-your-mouth quality much due to the homemade and not pre-cooked pasta. The sauce wasn't the same flavor as its Roman original, but it was really good. We decided to do even more layers next time and to add more tomato to the sauce. Luke brought us malt dregs from Balcones Distillery to enjoy as a digestif. We then watched old videos, one Luke made during college, one (a VHS!) of Brandon wrestling in middle school (!!!), and our wedding video! Fun times were had by all.


:type travel tuesday: {window shopping, cambridge}

Paul and Hannah are on their honeymoon in the UK, and they spent yesterday in Cambridge! It's so fun to think of family and friends exploring our home away from home.

Above are some views through the window of Fitzbillies, a traditional Cambridge cafe and bakery.


rome: papal audience

We got to see Pope Francis while we were in Rome! We went to the Wednesday morning papal audience (Jeff got us special tickets (it's free but you need a ticket to get through security)).

We got there approximately 3.5 hours early so we could get through the lines, security and into our "places" without any trouble. A few other people had the same idea. Approximately 99,995 other people, that is. It was IN.SANE. as we bottle-necked through security we began to wish we had stopped for our morning pastry and cappuccino (which we had skipped since we were running late for being "early.")

We found a good spot next to the edge (where the pope-mobile goes by) about 3 people in. Then we stood there for about 3 hours, packed in like sardines with Italians pushing, pushing, pushing us (as they are wont to do). I wanted to just let my legs go and nod off, letting the crowd hold me up, but it wasn't QUITE tight enough for that. I dedicated my time to not letting everyone push past us.

Luckily, it was pretty nice out until right before Pope Francis was supposed to come out, when a wall of dark clouds rolled in. At the first sprinkle of rain UP went ALL the umbrellas around us, and being a tall American, they were right at my eye level. I now dedicated my time to not getting an eye poked out.

He came out in the pope mobile and drove very close to us, then turned a corner disappearing again into the crowd. If I had thought that people were pushing before, it was nothing compared to when the pope came by. As a result a lot of my pictures are pretty blurry. Oh, well.

Then it started to pour. DOWN POUR. It continued to rain and rain and as everyone else huddled under umbrellas, Francis drove around and around refusing to be covered. Someone made a meme to illustrate the difference in styles of two leaders (I can't find the meme but I found the photos). The first two pictures were taken by Vatican News the day we were there so we might be somewhere in that umbrella'd crowd.

(photos by news.va and catholicvote)

We hadn't even brought an umbrella but some nice Italians next to us shared. You'd think 90,000+ umbrellas would make a nice ceiling to keep everyone dry, but really the umbrellas of all the other people around us just POURED rain down onto our shoulders.

(photo above by news.va )

Then as Francis went up to speak the clouds parted and out came the sun. You could almost hear the voices of angels singing...until the sun hit us and the heat began. It was HOT and we were soggy but by that point I had realized (or decided?) that I was really enjoying the experience, and an "experience" it truly was.

It was so beautiful to see the universal church in the flesh as people from all corners of the world  celebrated and huddled together under umbrellas and in the sunshine. Pope Francis gave a short address and a blessing. Fittingly he spoke about the Church, and it was beautiful to see it manifested there.

...The Church is born from the desire of God to call all people into communion with Him, to His friendship, and indeed, as His children, to partake of His own divine life. The very word “Church”, from the Greek ekklesia, means “convocation”.
God calls us, urges us to escape from individualism, [from] the tendency to withdraw into ourselves, and calls us – convokes us – to be a part of His family. This convocation has its origin in creation itself. God created us in order that we might live in a relationship of deep friendship with Him, and even when sin had broken this relationship with God, with others and with creation, God did not abandon us...
...Faith is a gift and an act that affects us personally, but God calls us to live our faith together, as a family: as the Church...
Full text here.


euro-tour overview

Beginning to post about our trip has been a bit daunting. I am just now finishing up the sifting and deleting photo process. I've decided (at the recommendation of Brandon) to just start posting random stories, with photos of course, from wherever and whenever as they come to mind.

So an overview of the trip might be helpful up front. We flew in to London and promptly took the train up to Cambridge. There we spent about four days. We spent 2 days in London then flew to Amsterdam.

We spent 4 days in the Netherlands staying mostly in Amsterdam due to the freezing temperatures and rainy weather.

Next, we flew to Pisa and took the train to Florence, where we spent 5 days, one being a day trip to Venice.

We took the train from Florence to Rome, where we met up with Jeff (our grand tour guide) who is in his third year of seminary there, becoming a priest. We also met up with Dan, Heather, DeAnn and Ryan (friends from Pella (Dan) and Waco)! We stayed in Rome for about 6 days and took a day trip to Assisi.

Dan had to leave for a conference in Paris, and the rest of us flew together to the south of France, where we rented a car and stayed in Toulouse for 3 days. During that time we drove to the Mediterranean coast, stopping at the medieval walled city of Carcassonne.

Lastly, we spent a day driving north through France, stopping at a chateau/winery for a wine tasting along the way. We then stayed in Paris for 8 days, the last 3 being Brandon and I alone again.

It was a wonderful adventure filled with time alone, time with old friends and time with new friends as well! More details to come.

I slightly edited this beautiful map by Artur Bodenstein to illustrate our trip.


seven year itch

It's our 7 year wedding anniversary today! These seven years have been so wonderful and I'm happy to report that our seven year itch was only of the travel variety, which we happily scratched!

My mom and dad treated us to a private gondola ride while we were in Venice, for our anniversary gift. It was so peaceful and beautiful in the small Venetian canals. Our picturesque attractive-Italian gondolier, Lucca, even sang and whistled along the way. Thanks mom and dad!

And thank you to Brandon, the best husband I could hope for or imagine, for a happy and adventurous seven years!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...