Thing #25 – Wine Bread

I didn’t go to church on Easter. I never go to church on Easter. I never go to church, period. My grandmothers probably wouldn’t be pumped to learn this. However, I hope they would be pleased to know I found a different way to maintain Easter traditions. I baked what we call “wine bread” in our family. It’s a filled Danish-style pastry, and has nothing to do with wine. I don’t know why it has that name. Grandma’s recipe was titled, “Kringle” but had a handwritten note in the corner indicating it’s for winebread.

As everyone knows, Kringle is the magical ring of pastry deliciousness from Racine, Wisconsin. I assume you know this. Or maybe it was a fact tossed into the fourth-grade Wisconsin history curriculum, like those about cranberry bogs, glaciers and French explorers. Remember that class? Marquette and Joliet? I remember virtually nothing I learned in school, except from this class 30 years ago.

My grandmothers were both spectacular women. And I wish they were still here to talk to. I’d love … Read the rest

Thing #10 – Patchwork

We never win anything on our scratch-off tickets. Though, every year we claim, “This! This will be the year we win!” and imagine the tales we can tell of the $100 ticket. I’m not sure how it began, but Christmas Eve has become synonymous with scratchies.

Thirty years of my life were spent going to Grandma and Grandpa’s on Christmas Eve. Year over year, it was exactly the same. Bitter nights with a gazillion stars. Eating with my cousins at the card table in the living room. Avoiding the ribbon candy and chocolate-covered cherries. The impatience of waiting for dishes to be washed before opening presents. And every year we had the same Christmas Eve dinner.

Once a year, Grandma would make the Slovak meal I suspect her mother made and her grandmother before that. Also every year, Grandma would declare it would be the final year she made it because, “you kids don’t actually like this.” (lies!) Also like clockwork – she’d shoo her hands and shake her head at the soup, dismissing how … Read the rest

Starbucks Holiday

Christmas has come and gone. You’ve probably spent sleepless nights wondering if I was able to find my holiday spirit this year. Yes, I kinda did. I’d give myself “B-/C+.” Enough to pass, but not enough to warrant a gold star. I credit my mediocre success to listening to the Trap Christmas station on Spotify, using inordinate amounts of Christmas emojis and watching my Christmas Cactus bloom for the first time ever. Most notably, I spent the month of December sampling Starbucks holiday drinks with Sissy.

Since we no longer live in the same city and can’t spend December together doing our usual traditions, like decorating sugar cookies while watching Pee Wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special, we improvised. We took a list of nine limited-edition coffee drinks from the polarizing coffee chain and checked off as many as we could, sharing impressions and recommendations with each other along the way.

We aren’t typically into fancy coffee drinks, so this was a festive deviation from our typical routine. And before the holiday season slips away, I want Read the rest