Sunday, December 25, 2011

Strawberry Hill Museum & Cultural Center

Sigrid, Edel, and I toured the Strawberry Hill Museum and Cultural Center in Kansas City, Kansas on December 18, 2011. Sigrid had wanted to visit for quite some time after seeing several articles in the paper and mention made of Strawberry Hill at the Slavic Festival we went to several months ago.

Lewis & Clark spent some time on Strawberry Hill as they traveled on the Missouri River. In their notes on the trip, they mentioned all the wild berries growing in the area so I suppose that is the origin of the name. That was in about 1803.

This part of the Kansas City metro area really boomed quickly as the west was settled. The Missouri and Kansas Rivers meet just below Strawberry Hill and there was lots of river commerce to grow the area. Strawberry Hill is actually located in Kansas City, Kansas. This part of KCK became an ethnically diverse part of the city with European immigrants working at industrial jobs in the river bottoms.

In 1887, the Victorian home shown in the photos was built for John and Mary Scroggs. I won't attempt to give the entire family history in this posting but you can Goggle if you want more information. The family lived in the house for 32 years until the house was sold to the Sisters of St. Francis of Christ the King in 1919.

There was a severe flu epidemic in 1918 and many children were orphaned. The Sisters added to the home with a structure to house the orphans, provide school rooms and living quarters for the nuns, and of course a chapel for services. About 3,000 children passed through the orphanage during its 69 years of operation.

In 1988, the children's home was closed and the Sisters sold the buildings to the Strawberry Hill Ethnic Cultural Society. The Society opened the museum shortly thereafter. The museum has lots of fascinating old photos and exhibits on the Polish, Slovenian, Slovak, Russian, Serbian, Ukrainian, German, Native American, and Belgian immigrants that lived in the area.

I would have loved to show you photos of the museum and chapel, but photos were forbidden. Why, I don't really know after having seen the museum. We have toured cathedrals and museums all over the world and rarely do we run into a place that bans photos. I could understand the concern if they were worried about degradation of ancient art work, but they don't have any. If flash was a concern, then ban the use of flash in the museum. Thousands of people read this blog, so they missed a great opportunity to get some free PR.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Sigrid & Edel's Christmas Party - December 4, 2011

Sigrid and Edel hosted a Christmas Party for the girls at our home on December 4th. We had 25 friends and family join in the fun. Nearly half of the ladies attending are part of a close knit group of German immigrants living in the KC area so the party was bilingual at times. In addition to the normal party food and drink, we also had a young girl come in to play Christmas songs on her was wonderful music and added to the warm holiday atmosphere. Sigrid did a fantastic job in decorating the house for guests.

After much food & wine was consumed and the harpist left, we turned on the stereo for more Christmas music.......the sing-a-long started to gain strength. Only the desire to visit kept the group from walking the neighborhood to Christmas Carol. Everyone had a great time and found it hard to leave. We enjoyed the day so much we hated to see them go. We will have to do it again next year and make time for an official sing-a-long.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

2011 Thanksgiving at Edel's House

This year, we were invited to our good friend Edel DeMaria's house for Thanksgiving dinner. Edel is a great cook and we always look forward to the culinary treats she prepares for each meal. As the photo below shows, she also sets a pretty table. The pumpkin bowls had squash soup, a very appropriate seasonal recipe for our meal.

Edel also invited Corrine and grandkids Tyler and Petra for dinner.

Edel did most of the work but Sigrid helped get the food on the table.

Have you ever seen a nicer looking turkey? It tasted great too.

A very warm and wonderful day. Thanks Edel!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Les Bourgeois Winery - Power Partners - October 19, 2011

I am still playing "catch up" with our postings. This one is another outing with our retirement club, Power Partners back in October. It was a chilly, cloudy, and windy day but most of our activities were indoors at the Les Bourgeois winery near Rocheport, MO.

The winery is owned and operated by second generation Bourgeois family members. Wine making started as a hobby back in 1974 but has grown to a fairly large business. As a matter of fact, Les Bourgeois is now the third largest winery in Missouri. They have moved from the kitchen table to some very modern facilities with production reaching nearly 100,000 gallons each year. The winery is located about half way between Kansas City and St Louis just off I-70. Edel and Sigrid are ready to do some wine tasting.

The last of the grapes for 2011 are at the front door of the tasting room.

Their wines have done well in competition.

The names of the wines indicate that the winery doesn't take itself too seriously despite the fact that they have received excellent reviews.

One of the family members gave us a wonderful and fact filled tour. It was clear that what was once a hobby has turned into a serious business and the family has done its homework and invested carefully to produce high quality wines.

The processing area is all new and very clean. You can see some of the fermenting tanks along the wall. Maintaining a precise temperature during fermenting is of utmost importance and they have high tech equipment to do the control.

De-skinning and pressing equipment are located at this end of the building.

Grapes ready to go.

This area has the bottling equipment and stocking/shipping operations.

Filling and corking machines.

The barrel room is used for aging certain wines in oak barrels before bottling....not much spare space here.

The family also operates a restaurant near the winery. Many in our group joined us there for lunch.

The restaurant sits high on a bluff and has a beautiful view of the Missouri River. One of the family members is an architect so they designed their own building. It was very warm inside and the food was great. They have a chef in the kitchen.....not just a cook.

After lunch, we went out to get a better view of the river.

The leaves were just starting to turn color.

You can see why the restaurant has such a nice view from the dining room.

Some of the family's grape vines.

A nice way to spend a cold and cloudy day.