Hello dear friends and readers! Nothing like a little alliteration to get one's thoughts in order. My unusually long silence has certainly not been due to lack of blogging fodder, but simply lack of time to write and post updates on my thoughts and exciting activities of late. Though the brevity that is required due to scant available time will not give these recent experiences the attention and verbage they deserve (though, if you know me, this post will grow ridiculously long anyway), I nevertheless want to post now because I know several more blog-worthy events are on the horizon, particularly my friend Erin's wedding this weekend (for which I still need to find cute low-heeled silver sandals to go with my bridesmaid dress - anybody seen any while out shopping?) and the 5th 3G02 Reunion coming up the weekend after that in Chicago (so excited to be togther with all my girls again!). So, without further ado (or disclaimer), here's some of the great stuff that's been blessing me lately.
The last weekend in March I was able to venture up to Menomonie to spend the weekend with Allison. My traveling companion was The Phantom Tollbooth on audiobook. (Whenever I take solo road trips it's become my custom to swing by the library and scan the shelves in the children's department, sometimes for the dramatization of recent offerings such as the Harry Potter books or A Series of Unfortunate Events, and sometimes for faintly but fondly remembered novels from my elementary school years, such as The BFG or Matilda by Roald Dahl, or in this case, the tale of Milo's journey to rescue Rhyme and Reason and bring reconciliation to the royal family, which I found utterly delightful, guessing that I picked up on a lot more of the puns and linguistic allusions than I did back in 4th grade.) Spring shopping victories were had at the Mall of America (although it's remained too cold here in Chicago to actually wear most of my cute new clothes yet), new recipes were tested (a tasty low-fat Santa Fe chowder and a "tunnel of fudge" cake) and the results enjoyed, and lots of good conversation was had, from the mundane, to the ridiculous, to the "I'm laying my cards and my heart out here on the table and it's a little scary but also exhilerating to know that these sentiments are safe with you" kind of discussions. Leaving at the end of the weekend was hard and on the way home the state of Wisconsin seemed to loom even larger between her home and mine.
Next up was my very first sushi experience. I've wanted to try sushi for quite some time now, but it's one of those things that I felt was best navigated with someone who really knows what they're talking about...and eating. So, with a little trepidation at the tastes and textures my mouth would encounter, but with complete confidence in Alex (& Allison's) able ordering skills, I entered the world of "pretty raw fish" and became one of those very adult-sounding people (in my mind, at least) who can say, "Why yes, I do eat sushi." We dined at Starfish Sushi Lounge, where the ambiance--red walls, low lighting, bamboo beams, and classy Asian accents-- highlighted the artful plating of the food. Alex ordered a variety of pieces, which not only gave me a wonderful introduction to sushi but also kept my tastebuds on their toes (if they, uh, had toes.) The first tray featured a white dragon roll, rainbow roll, one that I called the "squishy tuna" roll (my least favorite) and that night's special, the volcano, whose blend of flavors (a little spicy, a little sweet) and textures (smooth but with crunchy bits) made it my favorite. The second tray contained spicy tuna and scallop handrolls along with yellow tail, super white tuna, and salmon sushi. Alex also introduced me to ponzu sauce as an alternative to the soy with wasabi, and it easily secured my preference. To top off all of this amazing food we had mango, red bean, and coffee mochi (ice cream encased in a sweet dough of some sort) for dessert. The coffee mochi was one of those "this tastes so good that if you'll excuse me I just want to close my eyes and moan a little bit" experiences. Wow. So, thanks to Alex, Allison, and a thoroughly delightful meal at Starfish, I now eat sushi.
And on to Easter! The Easter service is one of my favorite things about Harvest. Though each church observes the day of the Lord's resurrection in their own way, of course, once I'd experienced an Easter service at Harvest, I wondered if I'd ever really CELEBRATED Easter before. This year's Easter service was a history making event in that for the first time ever it brought together everyone from all 3 campuses, who are usually spread out over 9 services, into one BIG celebration service. Some members of the church made it possible to rent out the Sears Centre, and so over 12,000 people were able to come together to celebrate Jesus' victory over death with lots of singing, cheering, clapping, and a clear message of how we must die if we want to live. The worship team and a huge choir led us in worship, and Heather Headley blessed us with her incredible voice, which gave me goosebumps, as usual. If you want a taste of what it was like to be there, you can watch this.
So, yeah, lots of great stuff happening lately, with more coming, and plenty keeping me occupied in between. Oh, and yes, Mom, I mailed my taxes this morning.