Tasty Tuesday–Berix

I’ve mentioned that our summer school theme this year is built around Rick Steves’ Europe, and focuses on learning about the cultures of various European countries. It’s a great topic, but as you might imagine, it is a little difficult to plan field trips in the midwest that relate to the topic (although we did pretty well with exploring German culture in Frankenmuth, MI, earlier this month!).

There was one thing I knew I wanted to do for sure, that would give us as close to an immersive experience as we could get here in St. Louis. Actually, St. Louis is the best place outside of Europe for this experience, as St. Louis has the largest Bosnian population outside of The Continent. So after looking at many restaurant options in St. Louis, we went out for dinner at Berix, a Bosnian restaurant in South County.

The inside of the restaurant was just what I expected, and completely charming:

We tried a variety of Bosnian dishes, including Cevapi (small beef sausages), Doner Kebab (with the most amazing flatbread I’ve ever had!), Sarma (cabbage rolls), and a banana dessert that was delicious.

I also had Turkish coffee for the first time. I was a little shocked at the sludge of grounds in it (and thankful that the waiter explained how to prepare it!), but it was the most delicious coffee I’ve ever had!

We all really enjoyed our experience at Berix. Our waiter was amazing, and explained the food (and the slow-paced meal culture of Bosnia). The food was excellent (and the portions were quite large, which means leftovers, which I’m a huge fan of!). I’m sure we’ll go back, because there were many other delicious menu items that we’d like to try someday!

What We’re Watching (And Reading!)–Rick Steves’ Europe

This year’s summer school is going to be a little different, because instead of focusing on books, we’re going to be focusing on episodes of Rick Steves’ Europe. Here’s a look at all the shows we’ll be watching (you’ll have to wait and see all of the different European recipes we’ll be trying to go with our viewing!):

  • Rick Steves’ Europe: The Blu-Ray Collection (70 shows!!!)
  • Rick Steves’ Europe: The Complete Collection (Which I only got because it was super marked-down, and contained some episodes that neither the blu-ray collection nor our other discs had).
  • Rick Steves’ Travel Extras
  • Rick Steves’ European Easter
  • Rick Steves’ Europe: 12 New Shows 2015-1016
  • Rick Steves’ Europe: 10 New Shows 2017-2018
  • Rick Steves’ Europe: 12 New Shows 2019-2020

Of course, there will be some books, too:

  • Europe Through the Back Door
  • Travel as a Political Act
  • London
  • French, Italian & German Phrase Book
  • Rick Steves’ European Christmas
  • Rick Steves’ European Easter
  • Rick Steves’ European Festivals
  • Rick Steves’ Europe Planning Map (yes, not technically a book, but I didn’t know where else to put it!)

And even a CD (perfect for Christmas in July!):

  • Rick Steves’ European Christmas CD

For fun, because I always like to have something hands-on as part of summer school, I got the Lego Architecture Paris skyline set for us to build. We’ve collected quite a few of these skylines now, in addition to the Eiffel Tower model we have, and I think it will make a nice addition to our display!

I also got the children travel journals to go with our viewing. My plan is to have them keep one page for each episode, and list specific places they would like to visit in the future if they are able for each location Rick highlights. My hope is that they will keep these journals, and someday, when they hopefully travel to Europe, they will already know which are must-see locations for them.

I’m really excited about this year’s summer school, and quite honestly, I don’t know why it took me so long to come up with the idea, because I’ve been a fan of Rick Steves for quite some time!

Summer School 2018

This summer has been super busy, but we still made some time for summer school. Not as much as I would have liked (we didn’t get to nearly as much of the book stuff as we usually do!), but we did get to go on some really cool field trips. We saw some great medieval illuminations, visited Medieval Times, and went to an event at the St. Louis Science Center. We also got to hear a Renaissance quartet sing, tried some medieval recipes, and created our own shields.

As for the stuff we didn’t get around to…well, we’ll be studying the medieval period in history this year, so we get another chance. Maybe we’ll even get around to the other craft project I had planned at some point!

Tasty Tuesday–A Medieval Feast

One of my favorite things about summer school every year is having an opportunity to cook something new and interesting that relates to the theme of our studies. Coming up with a medieval-themed menu was a bit challenging, but we tried a few new things, and we actually liked everything! On this year’s menu were mock mead, pottage (a vegetable and barley soup), beef and bacon pie (the bacon took the place of marrow, which would have been a common medieval ingredient), and baked spiced pears for dessert.

I will confess, we did use modern dishes and silverware (although I did consider using bread trenchers for the pie!), and the cooking methods weren’t exactly medieval, but at least it was an approximation of food people might have eaten during the Middle Ages!

First Friday at the St. Louis Science Center

Last night, for the first time, we went to a First Friday event at the St. Louis Science Center. What is First Friday, you might wonder? It’s an opportunity to learn about the science behind science fiction. And why did we finally go last night, when we’ve been talking about it for a couple of years? Because they were focusing on Arthurian Legends, which was the perfect final field trip for this year’s medieval-themed summer school!

It was a really fun event. We got to learn the science behind defending a castle (the focus was on simple machines, and Chickadee even got to help!), see a sword-fighting demonstration, hear a harp, make shields, participate in a scavenger hunt, write with an actual quill, hold medieval weapons, and see lots of people in really cool costumes. There were other events that we didn’t make it to, including tractor jousting, a lecture about medieval noblewomen at war, and the highlight of the evening, a showing of Monty Python and the Holy Grail in the Omnimax theater. And of course there was a fun photo opportunity!

I really enjoyed this event. It was fun to see so many people with interests similar to ours there and having a good time. Next month, the theme is Harry Potter, and we’re already looking forward to going back!

An Unexpected Field Trip

Kantorei Kamp is always really fun for the children, and they also always learn a lot. It’s not every year, though, that one of their activities happens to coincide with our summer school studies!

For the second year in a row (at least), Kantorei Kamp fell during Make Music Day. This year, the choristers had the opportunity to go hear a quartet from the Greenleaf Singers in concert. This was especially timely because the Greenleaf Singers are a Renaissance group, from the music they sing to the costumes they wear. Yes, I know we’re studying the medieval period this summer, but let’s face it…there’s is some crossover during those two periods, and the music we heard was very similar to that on the medieval CD I purchased for this summer. And as a bonus, we recognized on of the Spanish pieces from our Rick Steves’ European Christmas CD…and Chickadee was the first one to point it out! It was definitely a fun experience for everybody!

Medieval Times–The New Show

We were all so excited to go back to Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament when we were in Chicago last month! I’d been planning on a return visit ever since I came up with the idea for this year’s summer school at the end of last summer, but the visit was even more anticipated once we learned that Medieval Times had debuted an entirely new show!

Some things were the same. There was plenty to see and do before the show started, and lots of opportunities for photos:

But it didn’t take long to spot the biggest difference…there is now a queen ruling over the castle!

In honor of her, my girls wanted their picture taken in the castle’s thrones:

The meal was the same…tomato soup and garlic bread, roast chicken, corn on the cob, and roast potatoes, with pound cake for dessert. I tried the castle’s signature drink, the “Royal Knight,” as well.

Just like last year, we cheered for the Yellow Knight from the Kingdom of Navarra.

There were spectacularly trained horses, a falcon, contests, and jousting…all the highlights we enjoyed from the last show.

But the Queen was clearly in control, and demanded mercy in her castle. There was a surprise twist in the story, which I won’t share for fear of spoiling the show, but I was very pleased with how it was handled.

In the end, the black and white won, and while he wasn’t our champion, he was one of our allies, so that was fun.

This is such a fun activity, and the children are already asking if we can go back again someday. I’m tempted to check out the Medieval Times in Orlando when we visit Florida this summer, to see how the castles are different, but I don’t think I’ll be able to make that happen on such short notice. We may find ourselves back at the Chicago castle in the future, though, because it’s such a good time!

The Medieval World at Our Fingertips: Manuscript Illuminations

It was a real treat to get see a special exhibit entitled “The Medieval World at Our Fingertips: Manuscript Illuminations from the Collection of Sandra Hindman” when we visited the Art Institute in Chicago last month. We managed to visit just a few days before the exhibit closed, and it was another great addition to our summer school studies. There were about 30 illuminations on display, ranging from tiny to quite large (as far as illuminations go). Bunny, in particular, is fascinated by this art form, and we’re looking forward to creating our own later this summer!

Renaissance Art, Arms, and Armor

When we visited the Art Institute in Chicago two years ago, Turkey was very excited to see the arms and armor exhibit, as was I…it was always one of my favorite things to see when I was a child. You can imagine our disappointment, then, when we discovered that it was closed for renovations. Well, this year, we made it right, and I have to say, it was worth the wait…the new exhibit is fantastic! We especially liked how the horse armor was displayed, and were interested to see child-sized armor, which the docent told us would be given to medieval children of the nobility in the same spirit we give children sports jerseys today!

This was a great introduction to our medieval-themed summer school!

Markel Family Weekend Getaway–Day Three

Day three of our vacation, and we finally get to the reason we were there in the first place…Combo Breaker!

Ryan had been working long hours the previous two days to help set up for the event, but this was our first chance to take a look, and let me tell you, it looked GREAT! We always have fun checking out the different games being played (Chicago’s “Mystery Tournament” is always a favorite), as well as taking a look at the different vendors who have set up shop.

Of course, that wasn’t the only thing we did on Friday. We went swimming (again), in our favorite of Pheasant Run’s pools…the indoor Garden Atrium pool:

And we went back to Medieval Times for the second year in a row. It was a real treat, because it was an all new show! After seeing art, armor, and illuminations at the Art Institute, this was the perfect lighthearted summer school field trip, and Ryan even had a break in his schedule (sort of) to go with us!

Up next: We had to revise our Saturday plans a bit, but that left us with more time for Combo Breaker, plus a visit to a living history farm.