Slodkie Czary Mary

Making candy that we are so quick to gobble up is a beautiful process perhaps far too under appreciated!

On our recent trip to Wroclaw, we were able to see a sweets shop make little bits of hard candy like grandma would give you and finish with the grand finale of a heart sucker. It was a hot yet delightful experience—and I literally felt as excited as a “kid in a candy shop” !!!

To begin, the candy base has to be heated until it reaches the perfect temp. Then it is dumped onto a granite tabletop to cool for a period of time.

Aren’t we all a bit like candy? When we are a little too hot, we also need a cooling off period.

While it is in the process of cooling, the Candy Gals begin adding the colors for their upcoming projects.

After, the candy is cut and the second process begins—it’s nearly like a play-doh factory.

You begin by folding and pounding the candy.

Which then leads to stretching it…

After stretching, they begin the process of separating their colors and building their desired result/s—which this one would eventually become a heart lolly.

Along the way, however, was almost like a “dessert break” because they took a portion of the sucker and made it into tiny little pieces of hard candy which they promptly served to our room full of eager eaters.

The candies were still warm, sour, and brought me back to grandma’s house.

While we were all sucking on our nostalgic delights, the final project was expertly being finished with twisting, turning, cutting and shaping…

Until finally, voile! The heart lolly!

Which then goes for sale at the store, Slodkie Czary Mary!

Am I patient enough to make candy?

Perhaps.

Am I eager enough to eat it?

Pretty sure that’s a resounding You Betcha!

Do I recommend stopping in and watching this process?

Absolutely!

Did I feel just like a delightful kid in a candy shop?

The entire time!

Hence, we should all find ourselves watching how candy is made because then we have truly experienced time travel…even if just for a moment!

#wroclaw #poland #slodkieczarymary

Dessert to steal your heart…

I kid you not…we ate these divine ditties in the Square of Wroclaw while watching bubbles float over fountains and listening to a solo saxophone playing love songs with soulful perfection…

After that we walked across Saint Jadwiga’s bridge to board a small boat and travel the Odra, taking in every magical sight…

Before crossing the bridge of love to leave our mark with a lock…

I can recommend visiting so many places in Poland. But this one, Wroclaw, truly will steal your heart!

And then light it on fire at night with an actual lamp lighter, in full costume, walking the streets bringing them from darkness into night life…

All the while, church bells ring…

Would I recommend travel to Poland?

In a heartbeat!

Would I recommend Wroclaw?

Is the Pope Catholic???

Yes!

What’s it like living in Europe? Here are 10 things I’d like to share with you.

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That’s a great question.  I am sure that every Expat American that lives in Europe has an opinion, how about I share mine?

I should start by sharing some information that will give you background information about me.

1.  I am from the desert of Arizona. Hot.  Dry.  Beautiful.  3rd Generation born in Arizona.  For Europe, 3rd generation born in one area could be a small joke===but, in the States, that’s quite the accomplishment!

2.  We moved to Poland in 2001.  That’s 12 years after the Berlin Wall was opened.  When we first arrived in Poland, we did not get to travel freely within Europe even though the Wall had fallen.  There were still two border crossings to go West.  We had to stop at the Polish border and allow for Polish border guards to rifle through all of our luggage.  Then we had to do the same thing as we entered Germany.  Sometimes border crossing took 3 hours.  And, yes, we saw many people escorted off of the trains with their passports.

Another fact:  American or other Western European Countries’ Passports were very hot commodities often stolen or sold.  If you had a passport that allowed easier travel, then you had more opportunities for work.  We have known people that have bought illegal passports, been caught using them in varying countries to try and find work, and have found themselves in prison because of this.

You should know the majority of the people that participated in these crimes were people with the best intentions—people looking to work.  Work hard.  And save so that they could send money to their families.    It doesn’t make it right—but after living in what was once a country with unemployment raging in some cities at the extremes of 20-40% (in the days when we first arrived), I did have great compassion on those that simply wanted to find work.

*Again—I do not condone illegal measures, I am just sharing facts*

3.  We came without knowing anything but “Byc or not byc.” Which is the funny way to say in half Polish/half English the phrase “To be or not to be…” I think you probably need to speak Polish to giggle at this one.

Anyhow, since we came to Poland without any Polish during a time when hardly anyone spoke English, we lived a life of loud words with lots of hand gesturing and crazy facial expressions or animal sounds to get what we wanted.

For example, if we wanted some beef but didn’t see any behind the butcher counter, we would say, “Czy Pani ma MOO?” (Do you, Ma’am, have any MOO?)

You would think we would attract a whole lot more smiles, but we did move to an Eastern European country, so we mostly just got blank stares 😉

Figuring out everything from how to ride a tram, to buy a train ticket, to shop for milk—everything was extreme amounts of work. We are so thankful we had friends to help lead us along the way. The rest of the time we just suffered humiliation at attempts on our own.

Well, without further can’t hardly sit still in anticipation, ready to read it…Here is my Top 10 List of What It’s Like to Live in Europe as an Expat American:

I will go backwards from 10 to 1.  But please know that I do not succeed at all 10 of these.

10.  Grocery Shopping.

Bring extra money to buy your grocery bag!

Oh, and don’t forget to pack your own groceries, QUICKLY!  As fast as the grocer is throwing them at you, separate and shove into the bags you just bought (unless you are amazingly fantastic at always having extra plastic shopping bags with you).

And never forget your coin for the use of the shopping cart.  Otherwise your arms spilleth over or fall to the floor.  Depending on whether the grocery store HAS a spare basket for you to use (a carry one) or not (some don’t).  So NEVER…and I repeat NEVER…forget your coin to use the grocery cart.

Okay—shopping ALL around is quite the experience.  It’s not for the faint of heart.

Funny labels, different foods, small stores, personal packing, plastic bag buying, grocery cart renting experience.  When I got to the States and started to pack my own groceries the “bagger” was a little upset that I was taking over his job.  Oops.  Habits are hard to hand over.

In the end, I am a rather fast separator, packer, and general bag buyer (I guess I have only accomplished 2 of the 3 needed grocery skills in Europe—I still end up buying a bag EVERY SINGLE TIME).

But, in the end, I have mastered grocery shopping and, therefore, my family eats in Europe.  Phew.

9.  Know how and make your own jam, pickles, pickled items, fresh bread, sausage, and borscht!

You will learn to love cabbage, mushrooms, beets, and repeat.  On top of that, sweet pickles will be considered an unhealthy treat while salted pickles will be what’s good for you!

In other words, your bread will only last a day, you will eat loads of cheese, and your palette will greatly change yet increase!

Bring on the snails, please!  And pickled herring.  Oh, and where is the blood sausage?  Yes!  Put it on top of bulgar wheat.  And, no, not that white cheese—the blah blah blah fancy one over there.

In fact, as long as there are potatoes, wheat, and cabbage in Europe, everyone on this continent will survive.  Oh, along with dill.

It’s a continent of culinary genius!  For sure.  And I L.O.V.E. eating here.

Smacznego!

8.  Dress like you meant to wear it!  And then walk like you mean it.

Seriously, Europeans are so fashionable.  But, and here’s the secret.  They have stockings, funky shoes, scarves, sometimes hats, skinny jeans, and second-hand skirts and throw it all together with a little bit of mascara and a few accessories, looking like fashionistas.

My husband and daughter are amazing Europeans.  Disclaimer—neither are European.  But they put on clothes daily (So now you know that they are REALLY not European.  Smile and wink kind of joke) and voile!  They look amazing.

My daughter wears whatever shoes she wants with short skirts and leggings and then a sweater and allows for her hair to blow in the breeze.  Then she boldly walks to school and smiles.  She is gorgeous and natural and looks like she belongs.

My husband accessorizes his outfits with a fitted sports coat and the right belt, throwing a scarf around his neck and grabbing his leather work satchel when he leaves.  It’s as if GQ dressed him for a photo shoot.

Then there’s me.  For some reason, my love affair with my flip flops prevent me from accessorizing properly.  Therefore, I will remain the staunchly proud American and take gorgeous photos of the European fashionistas that reside under my same roof.

Even my 2 and 1 year olds are already rocking the right shoes, hair, and fedora hats.

I’m glad that when we’re out in public, there only appears to be one tourist in the group—that’s ME!

No, seriously.  If you want my advice:  throw it on and wear it boldly and proudly!  Wear less makeup!  And allow your hair to flow naturally.

Pair that with leather shoes and just the right hat, and there you have it!

You’ll do really well in Europe.

7.  Be Quiet.

No, seriously.  Be quiet.  Unless there is a football game on television, a festival going on in town, or a really drunk singing German nearby (no offense, Germans), be quiet.

This day to day life of walking and shopping and talking and playing is VERY quiet.

I walk outside and the birds fly away.  I am pretty sure that I scare most every European on the continent the minute I walk out the door.

My American voice soars the clouds.

My daughter hides.  My husband shushes me.  My small ones are the only ones that smile.  They still don’t know any better.

Perhaps it’s because Europe is considered the civilized people while we Americans are the wild outlaws.  Who knows?

But my daughter tells me often that I am too boisterous for this nation.

She is right.  But as long as they accept my volume I’ll try and overlook their staring.

So, shall we call it a tie?

Europeans chime in with a probable “No!”  But, if you are American, you hold your ground.  Because if there is one thing America has taught you, it’s how to stay strong.

Actually, that’s a fantastic trait of both countries/continents.  I just voice my strength in a louder volume, causing my daughter and husband to run for the forest where they will then find everyone in Poland on a peaceful family walk.  In silence.

It’s true.

But don’t worry—I’m used to it.  I’m just not sure it is mutual.

6.  Appreciate the old.

There is nothing more beautiful than the old.  When I was in the States, I walked or drove in awe at all of the shiny and new.  It was beautiful.  And I loved every moment.  But there were times when I was looking for the cobblestones or the old homes or the buildings with ivy crawling.

I was looking for the chimneys blowing smoke and the cracks in the walls.

There is nothing wrong with shiny America, but there is something surreally stunning about lovely and lived in.  Quaint.  And peaceful.

And the castles.  Now, mind you, there is a palace or a castle like every 15 minutes, so my daughter told me in the car the other day, “WHY do you have to point out the window ALL THE TIME?!”  Apparently the thrill of a castle or palace does not resonant as strongly when a child grows up in this culture.  But to the never-ending foreigner—ME—I LOVE the turrets I see around every bend!

In the end, America will always be the far younger and shinier cousin country.  And Europe the elegant, older family member.

My vote will always be:  Arizona Deserts 1; Polish architecture 1.  TIE!

The weather, of course, sends it from a draw to an Arizona win.  But that’s just my opinion.

And, since we are mostly talking about architecture, I would have to ultimately say that Europe and its history of brilliant places and buildings takes the cake.

So, who wins?  I don’t know.  Perhaps it’s up to each individual to judge that one.

5.  Shop Europe!

My daughter got so frustrated when we were in the United States.  She began looking at EVERY item and would proclaim, “WHY IS EVERYTHING FROM CHINA?”

She was proud to be in America but very sad that she could hardly find anything at all that was truly American.

In Europe, however, even though products from China are slowly creeping into stores, you will overall find most items proudly made in Europe.

America, take a hint!

4.  Drink REAL Coffee.  Not brown water!

My husband and I were in the United States when we asked for some coffee at a restaurant.  The server brought us brown water.  We tasted it and thought, “What did we do to deserve such torture?!”

It was disgusting.

To be fair, we had not been in the States for many years at that point, so we had forgotten that brown water in the States is what they refer to as “Coffee”.

Coffee my foot!

You get better coffee at the gas station in Italy then you get at most places in the United States.

Just saying—weak, cheap, and flavorless brown water is not coffee.  America, take this lesson from Europe.  Stronger is better.

And it will definitely MAKE YOUR DAY!

3.  Prepare for the onslaught of Tourists.  And, no, they are NOT all Americans.

Europeans are GREAT European travelers.  But, if you think about it, it makes SENSE!  Europe is geographically not the largest continent.  Yet is has a million and one countries.  Therefore, to go on vacation, you can cross two borders in one day.

I think that we often believe as Americans that we are the only tourists in Europe.  We’re not.

And, don’t let the Europeans give you a hard time about speaking English.  Because, guess what.  When they cross the borders for their vacations, they generally have to speak English in their country destinations, too.

But—and these are what I wouldn’t mind most American tourists hearing loud and clear—don’t be rude and obnoxious and demanding.  And DON’T put down America at every conversation with a foreigner.

There are a whole lotta countries in the world.  No one knows them all.  So no need to apologize for your desire to travel the world and yet LEARN about it while you travel.

That’s okay.  And, when all is said and done, after you are home, you will know more because you were there.

Come and enjoy Europe.  You’ll leave with a new zeal and zest for life after you do.

And definitely come to Poland.  It is, in my opinion, one of the greatest countries you could ever experience!  No joke.  And see you here soon.

2.  Kissing is Good!

Just come prepared to kiss.  Many and multiple times.  Do not be shy.  And carry breath mints.

I have not met a European yet that does not greet with lovely kisses.  On the cheeks.  1, 2, 3 times or more!

Some, depending on the celebration, on the lips!

Yummy!

So, come to Europe and pucker up, for you will get kissed.

1. Climb the Stairs!

As much as they are constantly renovating and revamping, Europe is one big castle.  Lots of cobblestone.  Lots of small streets.  Lots of stairs.

And very tall buildings.  Without elevators or escalators.

But with stairs.

Our office is on the 3rd floor.  I think nothing of it when I grab my bag, my lunch, my coffee and hike the stairs.

But, when I am in the States, to even go to the 2nd floor of a building, I head over to the elevator and wait.

And while I wait for the elevator, I could have walked up and down the stairs a couple of times.  Yet I still wait.  And wait.  And wait.  And wait.

Yep!  As active as America is, we are still, in the day in and day out activities, still rather inactive.

Like driving to school or the grocery store.  When, technically, they are but a 10-20 minute walk away.

What’s it like living in Europe?

It’s one big walk.

And we like it that way!

How about you?  Are you an expat American living in Europe or perhaps another country?  What do you agree with?  Disagree with?  Please share!

Giggle.  What are these?

My daughter can read in Polish.  Therefore, it’s not the words on the label that threw her off this evening as she went grocery shopping with me.

But what happened was so cute.  We were walking down the aisle while I was checking my grocery list.  When we came where I needed to stop, my daughter giggled and asked, “What are those?!”

I looked at what drew such curious giggling from my daughter and began giggling on my own.

Glancing at her innocent, adorable face and said, “They’re eggs!”

“But they’re white,” she proclaimed.

“Why, yes they are.  Yes, they are.”

Far, far away from the land famous for white eggs, aka America, white eggs here in Poland are a novelty not quite known how to be perceived.

I LOVE MY GAL!

And to top off the trip, she wore an ace bandage on her hand and wrapped her arm in her scarf like a sling.

Just because.

She also threw on her high-heeled (for a 9-year-old) turquoise shoes with no socks.  Believe me—it’s cold outside.

And off we went.  To the grocery store together.

Where she, my precious Adelyne, discovered white eggs.

And where we, mother and daughter, both left with the giggles!

Murder versus peeing on the side of the road?

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So, many people wonder what it is like living in a foreign country.

Today will be a short post, and I will share it through the eyes of my 8-year-old.

We were on a mommy & daughter breakfast date when we pulled into McDonald’s parking lot. And, for some odd reason, she asked “Murders are rare, Mommy, right?”

I looked at her. At 8, children can’t be so easily dismissed, so, trying to gauge her thought process, I counter-asked, “Are you afraid of being murdered?”

“No,” she responded.

So I asked the question differently, “Are you afraid of being murdered in Poland or were you afraid in Arizona?”

“Arizona is scarier,” she said, “Poland is a nice country.”

And then she continued, and, like I said, it’s hard to follow the thought-process of an 8-year-old…

“But it’s dirtier. Like people pee on the sides of the buildings.”

Insert chuckle here.

You see, she has seen this take place countless times right outside of the very apartment she lived the first half of her life. And, well, and she pretty much sees it on a near daily basis still today: at the lake, at parks, in town.  So you have to give the 8 year old freedom to express her own thoughts.

Which brings me to this, since my 8-year-old brought it up, one day as we were driving down the road, my sister-in-law, Coralanne, Adelyne, and I saw a fat man literally peeing into the road.  Yes, I said “into” the road.

It made us think of Tommy Boy, the movie. And the instance where Chris Farley put on David Spade’s jacket and started singing, “Fat man in a little coat…” (or something along those lines)

Both my sister-in-law, Coralanne, and I started laughing and singing at the same time, “Fat man peeing on the side of the road!”

It’s one of Adelyne’s favorite songs to this day.

So, what’s it like living in a foreign country?  Well, if you can put up with a little extra public urination, it’s, in the words of Adelyne, “…a nice country!”

For which she is very, very glad to be living in once again.  Especially because here, in Poland, you probably won’t get murdered.

I wore my winter jacket and beanie in September. Yes. Everyone stared.

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We moved to Poland September 8, 2001. We moved from Arizona. We packed what we thought were warm clothes. Turns out, warm clothes from Arizona are merely “thick” t-shirts.

We arrived and were freezing our tails off.

Seriously. It was raining. It was cold.

The heat wouldn’t turn on in our flat because the city controlled the heat in our flat and it was not yet deemed “cold” enough by the city to turn on the heat.

I was an Arizona Desert Rat. Instead of melting, I was living in an ice box gathering ice crystals.

I will never forget how cold I was.

I was so cold, I convinced my husband that we must run out and buy warm jackets.

It wasn’t even technically warm jacket season. After all, it was only September. Little did I know how cold November, December, and so forth would get if I was cold in September, eh?! To me it was already like Siberia.

We were off.  We went to buy winter jackets.  I found one.  Floor length and brown.  And a brown scarf.  And a brown hat.  And brown gloves.

I went all out.

I tell you, I was cold.

And then we went out.  Literally.  Out.  In public.  For all to see.

I was wrapped from head to toe in my beanie, my gloves, my scarf.  You could barely see my eyes.  But, worse than any of that was my jacket.  My floor-length, brown, winter jacket.

I was so toasty warm.  And it was evening.  And we decided to walk to the city square.

Oh, tears are in my eyes right now recalling the numerous stares and mumblings we got as I walked around all wrapped like an Eskimo, yet technically still living in Polish summer.  So funny.

Ah…memories of when we first arrived in Poland.  And although I laugh now, I know then I was freezing.  To my bone freezing.

Oh, I forgot to mention how cold it was.

About 60+F (around 16C).

To a desert rat, 60F is akin to the North Pole.  And that is where I felt we lived.

Needless to say, my jacket and I really learned what cold was when actual winter hit.  And then I dreamed about the return of those “warm” Polish evenings.

Haha.

I hope that there are folks still enjoying the attack of the mummy at their dinnertime conversation.

In any case, with time, I learned how to actually dress appropriately for the weather.  And eventually I learned that September was not the right time to run around in floor-length jackets, gloves, scarves, and beanies, with only your eyes peeking through.

But, even after all of these years in Poland, I am still that same desert rat, freezing and cold.  Just better adjusted for the weather.

Now, here are the TOP 10 most read posts this past year as And 2 Makes Crazy celebrates its one-year blog-o-versary.   If you haven’t read one of the following posts, I hope that you go on back and have a read.

Enjoy.

xoxo from here to there,

b

(Top 10 from the entire blogging year in order of Most Read)

1.  I don’t love Jesus.  Can we still be friends?  http://wp.me/p3Bh9m-ln

2.  How to be a Good Wife.  http://wp.me/p3Bh9m-ue

3.  Knockdown, drag-out fight in Costco.  Today, I appreciate family!  http://wp.me/p3Bh9m-Mo

4.  Marital Un-Bliss and Lack of Sleep had a devastating Effect on My Eyebrows.  http://wp.me/p3Bh9m-3i

5.  Belly Josephine.  And my Ada and Max.  http://wp.me/p3Bh9m-gp

6.  How to Keep the Romance Alive.  Or Kill It.  Your Hair May Choose.  http://wp.me/p3Bh9m-50

7.  My Nose Ring was “Snot” a Good Idea.  And We Got a Puppy.  http://wp.me/p3Bh9m-6B

8.  Porn on Sunday.  http://wp.me/p3Bh9m-ww

9.  O-M-G, Christians, watch what you say.  http://wp.me/p3Bh9m-rZ

10.  Hidden Bookshelves:  Poland.  And when we first arrived.  http://wp.me/p3Bh9m-da

And because it is always interesting to see which one comes in 11th…

11.  Raising a Nutty Kid.  http://wp.me/p3Bh9m-wT

 

 

Oh, heaven forbid. Don’t make me speak English!

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I really try to be kind and courteous and real and friendly, but I have this problem.  And it’s called my mouth.

It gets me every time.

I am talking all the time.  Day and Night.  Even when I am sleeping.  It gets me there, too, because I even talk in my sleep.

So, this is what happened.  The other day I was at the grocery store in Gniezno.

It’s a rather large grocery store.  It’s a French chain, I believe.  So now I don’t know whether to blame the French grocery chain or the Gniezno store owner on this one…BUT…someone decided at this rather large grocery store to implement a one-line rule where everyone lines up in a single file line to wait for the next available cashier.

The idea isn’t bad—IF—it was a small store with few customers.  But this is a huge and busy grocery store.  It’s like we all line up as if to go through the cattle gate — our grocery carts and kids overflowing down to the chips and liquids aisle.  Imagine trying to get into a busy sporting event with kids and a grocery cart to boot.  It’s utterly ridiculous.

Yet, it’s what we all must do, and I am the one that chose to shop at that store, so I got in line.

One woman—out of the 30+ of us in line decided that as long as her cart was in line, she would keep shopping.

Duh, lady.  Don’t you think we would ALL love to do this?!

Well, her cart was there but the line was moving forward.  So, of course, there was a huge gap in front of her cart and the other customers in front of her.

Who was foolishly the customer/shopper behind this thoughtless lady?

Hand in the air.  ME!

But what happens with this huge gap of air space and the missing cart lady?  Why 3 new customers come along and hop in line.

The lady comes running back to her cart and says she was there.

Um.  No, technically you weren’t.  I am just a patient person and was waiting for you to move forward.

Fool count 1.

Well, after some exchanged words, she is defeated and now stuck behind 3 more people.  But that’s okay, because she goes back to shopping.

Air space yet again.  Because there is this thing called checking out and people do pay for groceries and lines do move forward in the grocery store.  But where is this random shopper lady?

MIA, Missing in Action, yet again.

And again, I foolishly wait for her to find her cart and push it forward.

Fool count 2.

Finally on Fool count 3, when there is a mile of space between her cart and the cutting customers in front of her and the MIA shopper, I take my cart and go in front of her cart.

Boy howdy!  You would think that this woman had a cart radar or something.  No sooner did I put my cart in front of hers did I then see her come screeching at me, yelling, “THAT’S my space!  I was there in line.”

Now, because I am a very mature 38-year-old mother of 3, I of course engaged in her argument, (in Polish), “No, ma’am.  You were not here.  And, this is the 3rd time that you have not been here.  This was free space.”  Yes, my Polish is lacking, so this is basically what I said.  Not so intimidating but enough to let her know it’s not okay.

Ooooh, boy!  She was steaming mad!  And kept yelling at me how she was there.  So, again, I engaged in this civil thing we were having (NOT) called a conversation.

“No, Ma’am, you were not here.  Again, 3 times you have left and gone shopping.  YOU WERE NOT HERE.  This was a free space.”

Yes, I am a Polish force (smile and wink).

And, yet again, she flew off of the handle yelling at me.  Imagine, “Yadda, yadda, yadda!”

There, lady.  You went and did it.  You brought out my English!  And I started in again—this time in my Mother Tongue…

“No!  You were not here!  This is ridiculous.  For 3 times you have left your cart to go shopping…(insert more)…This is not okay!”

After the shock wore off that I was no longer conversing with her in Polish, the entire line of people started to speak up, the lady that was now in front of the both of us turned around and said, “No, you weren’t here (in Polish).  You can’t keep leaving and shopping.”  The person in front of the lady in front of the lady spoke up.  The husband of one of the ladies spoke up.  And this fiery MIA shopper just kept getting louder.

It’s a good thing we were in a French grocery store.  This small riot didn’t seem out of place, eh?!  Haha.

Anyhow, after I started this small riot of vocalities, I realized that this lady was going to continue to throw her fit, so I pulled my cart out of line and let her go back in front of me, which she eagerly took and moved forward.

But, let me just say—she DID NOT leave her spot again.

And the check-out lady was super nice to me, too.  Nice or scared?  I don’t know which.

Oooooops.

So much for showing the love of Jesus at the grocery store that day.