Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Collection 2: Glasses.

Earlier in June I shared one of my three fabulous kitchen collections, my cookbooks. Collection #2 also started pretty accidentally but has resulted in a cabinet full of these beauties.

I love love love all the different glasses that I have in my cabinet. I use approximately 1% of the total collection each week, but I love all the options that I have at my fingertips.

All of the glasses pictured above were gifts. My buddy Dereck gave me the "Willie through the years" glasses as a going away present. A family friend gave me the etched Powercat glasses, that ironically match 12 plain glasses I have that Erica gave me. And my stepmom, Tracy, gave me my monogrammed Tervis tumblers - of which I have six in two sizes.

Let me pause to make a PSA: if you don't have a Tervis tumbler, buy one. Today. Essential for summer because they won't sweat on the table. Go to Bed, Bath, and Beyond. Now.

Especially in the summer months, I find myself wanting just a little glass of Chardonnay every now and then to cool off. Lauren gave me a set of stemless wine glasses for Christmas, and they're perfect for a quick glass because they are dishwasher safe and easy to store in my cabinet.

These are just a few of the mugs I've collected over the years. Some have been gifts, some I bought myself. I bought the two on the ends, the middle left mug was a gift from my school and the other middle mug was a gift from my bestie Andrea. I love the Harry Truman mug because, well, I love Harry Truman. I dislike the Owl Cafe mug because it is awkward to hold and use for drinking.

I don't know why I didn't listen to my pal Abbey, who always says that you should hold a mug in your hands before you buy it. This one is terribly clumsy! But I'm keeping it around because it's from a very happy trip to NM with my KC friends.

And I'm keeping it because I have a problem with glasses. I love them. I have too many. But if you gave me one that I liked just as much, I would probably put it on display as well!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Bachelorettes in Atlantic City.

For over two months I've been looking forward to celebrating Jill's bachelorette party in Atlantic City. Seriously, how often do you get invited to bachelorette parties in AC? NOT often if you are from Kansas, let me tell you.

We stayed at the Borgata, which isn't on the main strip in Atlantic City. From what I hear, it's one of the best hotels in AC. The main strip looks very similar to Las Vegas, but I've only flown through Vegas so I have no other comparisons to make. Oh, and some people lose a lot of money gambling. That happens both places.

It was a great bachelorette party and a good time was had by all. There were five of us from our middle school celebrating together, plus many of Jill M.'s childhood friends and sorority sisters, and we all had a blast. (Note: Ellie's signature photo pose is the hand on the hip so I have no idea why I am also doing it. We're like tall bookends.)

Samantha Ronson (you know, Lindsey Lohen's ex) was the celebrity DJ at the club, the Mixx. And for some random reason, Orianthi performed this song. Rather, she lip synced it.



When we were leaving the hotel on Sunday morning, I picked up a Vitamin water. It was a looooong night, so I chose the "revive" water that tastes like fruit punch. It was perfect for recovering from a bachelorette party - here is what was on the label:

"HEY!!! HOW'S IT GOIN? IS THIS TOO LOUD FOR YOU?? OH SORry! there. better? well, let us be the first to say there's no shame in starting your day well after breakfast...or brunch...or lunch. we've all been there: last night's outfit doubled as last night's pj's, and finding your cell phone, keys and wallet (with credit card inside!) was a huge relief. on days like these, we recommend hydrating with this bottle. it's got b vitamins and potassium, some of your body's best friends when it needs them the most, and don't you worry, you didn't text you-know-who. well you didn't text them that. (ok, maybe you did.)

I giggled. Thank you Vitamin Water. Thank you Jill M. for getting married so I could go celebrate it up in the old AC. Thank you Jill R. and Ellie for the rides. And thank you to the world for inventing Atlantic City.

The Jersey Shore.

Friday morning, my friend Jill R. and I hit the road for Long Beach Island and the Jersey Shore. We stopped for Primo's Hoagies (best.sandwich.ever) and arrived at this beautiful sight.

Where we were on the Jersey Shore was NOT like MTV's notorious show, just so you know. It was a pretty classy beach house that Jill's family owns and fills with fun kids of all ages. There's something about the Atlantic Ocean that makes everyone feel young at heart.

There's only one rule at the beach house - do what you want, when you want. So when I wanted to go to the beach, I went. When I wanted to read on the balcony (there were three to chose from), I read. And when I wanted to eat two NJ bagels in one day, I did.

Yes, Saturday I ate two jalapeno cheddar bagels lightly toasted, layered with a little cream cheese, and two thick layers of New Jersey tomatoes. Yes, TWO bagels.

It was beautiful, peaceful, and the loveliest. Good good people too.

Long Beach Island is a really skinny island. On the rooftop balcony, I could see the water on both sides. With plenty of sunscreen, I can now stay outside for extended periods of time. The freckles are coming in strong, and my new sunglasses are a summer obsession.

Also, I have a rule in the summer where I don't dry my hair unless it is an absolute necessity. I apologize for some of the photos you are going to see. But it's vacation, and I've got places to go!

July 20-25: Chicago
July 31-August 2: Philadelphia and Delaware
August 5-7: New York City
August 9-28: Kansas with stops in Indiana both directions

Can you tell that summer and I are getting along just great?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Did I Mention School is Out?

On the last day of school, all the teachers gathered for a lunch. Spirits were high because the students were gone and summer was really starting! But we were very sad to say goodbye to our pal Ellie who is headed to another middle school in the district.

Ellie and Jill were two members of my English 8 PLC (professional learning community). We met weekly and planned together, plus I taught with Jill every day in third period. But I was also saying farewell to the English PLC because I am transferring from English to Civics.

A different Jill and my buddy Zach are my new PLC - yeah Civics!

I won't be going to any PLC meetings until September again. Until then, I'll just be hanging out with my home based PLC.

Rachel.

She's excited, can't you tell?

Ah, summer.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Last Day of School.

My friend Ally in Phoenix mailed me this. It's a mostly accurate description of the last two weeks of school for us here.

It's not exactly that we ran out of things to teach totally, but our captive audience became much less interested with the conclusion of state testing and the beginning of the WORLD CUP.

The World Cup saved our lives. I used it to teach geography - did you KNOW that North and South Korea have crazy names in the schedule? This accidentally led to a history review and a government lesson about communism. The World Cup is good for education, teachers, and students. I wish it was every June.

The last day today is a short one with students headed home on the bus at about 10:45 am. We have a teacher lunch together, and then we get to go home for the year. People have been so sweet telling me to hang in there and asking about how many days were left. It's been nice that they have been so encouraging!

Except that it's really okay. You see, I'm a big fan of 8th graders and these last two casual weeks with them have been the best. Talent Show, the dance, 8th grade day yesterday - and World Cup. All events full of little reminders of why this job is awesome and why middle schoolers are really the best. I'm very sorry if you don't think so, but you are wrong.

Happy summer - FINALLY!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Meet Two of My Biggest Fans.

I used to be small. It was a VERY long time ago, and even then, I was off the growth chart. This is me at 13 months with my two grandmas strolling in the yard. I'm thinking about how cool I am and how cute I look in the clothes my momma made me. My grandmas are thinking, "Praise the Lord! We got us a good looking granddaughter!"

For real - there were only boys on both sides of the family in the ranks of my first and second cousins. They thought I was awesome.

Turns out, they still do! My two grandmothers are two of my biggest blog fans. On the left is my paternal grandma, Mary. She told me last week she looks to read my blog every day and is disappointed when I don't post one. On the right, Grandma Virginia, my maternal grandmother. She emails me about many of my blogs, even if it is just to say "Have a Good Day!"

Lucky lucky me.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Blueberries for Vic.

When I was a little girl, my mom always read me the classic Caldecott, Blueberries for Sal,by Robert McCloskey. Do you know the story? It's from 1949 and one of our family favorites. When Sal is picking the blueberries, they go "ku-plink, ku-plank, ku-plunk" into her little metal bucket. I loved this story because I knew what it was like to pick blueberries with mom, just like Sal!

On Saturday morning I picked berries for ME at Buttler's Orchard in Maryland. I lathered on the sunscreen and left early so that I could beat the crowds and the ridiculous heat. I purposefully didn't wear a watch because I wanted to push myself to pick for a long enough time to get berries for now and for months when blueberries aren't readily available. If I had to pick a favorite fruit, I would totally choose blueberries. I like to bake with them, put them in cereal and pop them in my mouth by the handful.

Seriously. I can eat blueberries like candy. Rachel was shocked when I accidentally ate a whole pint in one sitting last week. It could have been because they were organic blueberries, and they cost her about $8.

I love blueberries.

There were a lot of people with the same idea on Saturday morning. Workers assigned us bushes and allowed us to move if we wanted to but only within specific areas. Blueberries are easy to pick because if you have a good bush you can stand in one place for a long time.

Some people didn't follow directions and would stroll along picking a blueberry here or there. This is a dumb way to acquire awesomeness. Follow directions, people! I picked from just two very tall bushes of the "Bluetta" variety until I was satisfied with the berries in my basket.

Yes, a blueberry picking basket is a must. Jennie gave me mine. It's also perfect for picnics and running around town. I love it because it comfortably held my berries, camera and water bottle.

A tractor pulled a trolley to transport us to the fields. When I climbed back on to head back to my car, I had picked 7.5 pounds. This is about a gallon and a half or about 12 pints of blueberries. Not only did I save money, but I feel like I really accomplished something. I've already got half of them in the freezer, another quarter in my stomach, and big plans for baking and devouring the final part this week.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day.

This is the latest picture taken of my dad and his three kiddos. It's from last April and a little outdated - my brother is bigger, I have sassy bangs, and my sister is in even better shape after five gazillion miles of running. Also, Spencer no longer smiles like he has something in one eye. Family photos get a little harder to pull together when you have a sister who lives in Kansas and a dad and brother who live in Indiana.

But aren't we the cutest? My dad is proud of his tall over achievers.

When I called my dad this morning to wish him a Happy Father's Day, he was helping to make breakfast. I wasn't there, but I knew what the atmosphere was like in the kitchen. My dad making breakfast is one of my favorite things in the world because there's no limit. Someone wants waffles, done. Also pancakes? Sure! Hashbrowns, bacon, sausage, eggs...my dad gets it done at breakfast. Even though he has been awake working for several hours, he waits till everyone is ready for a big hearty breakfast together.

This love for breakfast is one of many things I got from my dad. Others include my height, dimples, loud laugh, love for travel, brown eyes, and an early love for black and white photos.

Happy Father's Day to my dad! And my beloved cowboy grandpa in Kansas and my Husker grandpa in Heaven. I've been extraordinarily blessed with all of their love.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

A Night in Paris.

Tonight I went to a very special place. I saw the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triumph. A few young lovers. Yes, all this and more in the gymnasium at the 8th Grade Dance where the theme was "A Night in Paris."

I love 8th grade dances. I think my students are awesome, and it was worth all of the work of decorating and transforming our gymnasium. We had about 200 8th graders come tonight to dance and celebrate the end of their middle school years. They dress up, do their hair, and the guys try to put on a tie. They are adorable.

At the beginning of the night, it sort of looks like this: girls and guys standing around in small groups. Loud music blaring but the kids are certainly not dancing. They are just really excited to be at school in pretty clothes. All the little girls are still wearing their fancy dress shoes.

But soon enough they get warmed up. They all do the Cupid Shuffle and the ChaCha Slide and there's no turning back. Boys dance WITH GIRLS, and both seem to like it. A few boys and girls hold hands even. The girls all take off their shoes and dance barefoot because high heels are really uncomfortable when you are 14. (And sometimes when you are 26.)

At about 8:15, there is a short break for the superlatives presentation. Best smile, most school spirit, cutest couple. Everyone cheers wildly for the winners who receive a glow in the dark necklace for their prize. And then the dancing rages on.

Last song at 8:55 pm. Parents wait in minivans to pick up their kids. Four days of school left, and I am pretty sure that the dance will be a major topic of conversation for the next four days. Ah. Paris and young love in the springtime.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Friday Gifts.

Today was one of my last days with my advisory. I will miss them. Well, most of them.

Sometimes they were sassy.

But I really wanted to get them something to celebrate their journey into high school and the end of the year. Some people might think that books are a lame gift. I don't. They are easy to personalize with individual notes - and they can use them for their high school summer reading.

I let them pick their own book, which made a big difference in their excitement. We got out lists of recommended summer reading, and they went to Amazon to look at reviews and check important things like page count (don't want it to be too long). Everyone picked out their book, my lovely mother helped me buy them, and I ordered them all last week.

I'm so glad I wrapped each book. They thought that was SO cool. Most of them opened the wrapping just to sneak a peek and then wrapped it back up to keep the book nice for the rest of the day. They were so thankful - it was adorable.

I also gave them these. Just in case the books didn't go over well.

I love these M & Ms. I think they are delicious, and the kids did too. Within two minutes, I made eleven students very happy and ended advisory on a sweet note.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Anxiety About Hiking.

I'm not too outdoorsy. I have a very short list of reasons I like to be outdoors for multiple hours at a time: my garden, walking the dog in the neighborhood, K-State football, baseball parks, happy hour on patios, and outdoor theater.

There is nothing hard core about any of these outdoor adventures. I don't need any special equipment from REI or Dick's Sporting Goods, and I always get to sleep in a bed at the end of the day. I think I could be a camper, but it's not what we grew up doing. Once I suggested I go on the six day camping and canoeing Boundary Waters trip with my church and expert camper/canoer Abbey, and she told me she wouldn't take me in her group. Sigh.

Sarra and I hiked last weekend in West Virginia. The views were beautiful and breathtaking.

And because I was with Sarra (remember she is getting her PhD in clinical psychology), we talked through some of my feelings about outdoor activities. I confessed to her my biggest fear of the outdoors...

Someone will ask me on a date that involves hiking, and I won't know what to wear.

Jeans? Khaki outdoor pants with pockets? Athletic pants? Sneakers? Old shoes? An old t-shirt? SPF proof athletic shirt? Should I carry a backpack? A water bottle? Bug spray? Is it better to have a fanny pack? Can my dog carry my backpack? How do I bring water for the dog?

What if he won't like me because I look like a fool surrounded by the "great" outdoors?

Sarra and I talked through some possible ways to trouble shoot this without feeling foolish.

"Great! What is the terrain like?"
"Cool! What are you planning on wearing?"
"Sounds perfect! What else should I bring besides water?"

The mountains of WV provided good outdoor therapy for me. It was peaceful. And Sarra played the role of therapist very well. Together they have prepared me for when the right guy says, "Want to go on a hike on Saturday?"

I can do it.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Something to Talk About for 300 Posts.

I've been blogging for 300 posts (including this one). But what about? victoriaINvirginia isn't exactly about anything in particular. I'm sure not a mommy blogger, my blog will never become famous for its DC commentary, and lots of my recipes fail so I won't be a food blogger.

So I took a closer look at what I blog about by using the labels. Here are some of my conclusions from the data...
  • I am just as likely to blog about Rachel's kid as my dog.
  • I talk about my family the most. They make me happy.
  • Fourteen percent of my posts include antics "only Victoria" would experience.
  • I talk about teaching more than TV - HURRAY. I would have been embarrassed if these numbers were the other way around.
  • Somehow I left friends out of the pie chart. Which is weird because I talk about them a lot!
  • Very little has been featured lately under "mail call," so mail me something interesting so I have something to blog about. This sliver of the pie is small!
  • Some posts have multiple labels, so this whole graph is based on oversimplification.
Thanks for coming back each day to see what random stories you might get. I promise to try and write something shocking/sad/happy/silly/ridiculous/enlightening. Okay? Thanks.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

State Slogans.

I sort of have a thing for state mottos. I love that Virginia has the oldest tourism slogan in the United States, "Virginia is for Lovers." When I went home for spring break, I took everyone key chains with that catchy little phrase.

West Virginia's slogan is "Wild and Wonderful," and it has been around at least since I lived here in 2006. The whole time I was with Sarra, I just kept saying it over and over again because I think it is just so catchy!

The food we ate fits the bill. Burritos and quesedillas at Black Bear Burritos. A little wild - and totally a college town establishment. You get a toy to hold onto while your food is prepared. Live music. Plants in the window. It's the Planet Sub of the burrito world.

For dinner, Sarra got a little crazy and took me to the airport. Here's the waiting room.

We didn't fly somewhere. We just had to walk through Morgantown's one waiting area to get to the wonderful Ali Baba's.

A lovely mix of middle Eastern cuisine, I had a gyro and Sarra had falafel. I loved that we could look out the window and see planes landing. Not that any did. It's Morgantown!

I insisted we eat at the Blue Moose Cafe because it shares the same name as my favorite local bar and restaurant in Prairie Village. The food is good at both places, but they don't share a lot more in common. You can't order tofu or fake bacon at the Blue Moose in PV. Not at all. That makes this place in Morgantown decidedly more wild.

Sort of a Radina's or Java from my K-State coffeehouse days. The locals hang out, college students study, occasionally someone strums a guitar, and they serve a lot of coffee.

Everything wonderful was packed into this yummy quiche. Tomatoes, bacon, spinach and white cheddar piled very neatly upon the most delicious quiche crust ever. It was practically glowing when they brought it to me because it was so awesome.

In cuisine, Morgantown proved to be sort of fit for West Virginia. Wild and wonderful.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

On the Road Again!

I left Saturday morning to go on a short road trip to this lovely place.

I went to ask Bob Huggins if K-State could join the Big East Conference. Huggy, remember us? You spent a little bit of time yelling in Manhattan? We're looking to make some friends out here.

Just kidding. I didn't go to see Bob Huggins. I went to see my Mortar Board bestie, Sarra. Here we are, hot and happy, at a winery near Morgantown where Sarra is a PhD student in clinical psychology.

I went to see if West Virginia was really "Wild and Wonderful" like all the ads promise it is. I was more than pleasantly surprised; WV is very green and the rolling Appalachians are magnificent. Morgantown resembles most college towns, except that it was built all over the hills in a bizarre city design. It's a funny college town, but Sarra assures me there are less hippies in Morgantown than Ann Arbor where she went to Michigan for her undergrad degree. I'm not so sure.

Ah West Virginia...almost heaven! More to come from WV including FOOD and a hike.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

World Cup and Fire Drills.

There's been a big push at school to stay focused in the final days before summer. We should still be planning and teaching lessons each day, not showing movies.

That was all before the World Cup started. Friday morning they set it up so we could show the games LIVE in our classrooms. I thought about it for about two seconds before I decided it was a good idea. I'm not a huge soccer fan, but there is something about the World Cup that pulls everyone in and gets them excited. It's just so global.

Third period we watched part of the South Africa v. Mexico game. Fourth period, we continued watching it. Mexico tied the game with a goal. You could hear kids yelling around the building. I am not kidding. Goooooooaaaal!

Then with ten minutes left in the game, something terrible happened. A kid pulled the fire alarm upstairs, and we all had to leave the building. They looked at me, pleading to stay. But it was during lunch and the teachers weren't warned in advance, so I knew that it was for real. We had to leave the building.

Fifteen minutes later we were allowed to reenter the building. Game over, ending in a tie. We missed the end, but thankfully no goals were scored without us.

Johnny looked at me and said, "The person who pulled the fire alarm is racist. He hates all Spanish people. He pulled it so that we couldn't see the end of the game." I laughed. Really hard.
He's probably right that at least it is someone who doesn't care about the World Cup. Traitor.

And because I can't post without a photo, here is my soccer team from last year. That's right, I used to coach soccer in Kansas City. We only won 1 game, tied 1 game, and lost the other 4. But oh gosh did we have fun. I mostly just yelled, "You're going the right direction!" and "Run!"

Friday, June 11, 2010

Zucchini Muffins, Two Ways.

I have made zucchini muffins five times in the past three weeks. Rachel and I have both purchased way more zucchini than we can eat, so we keep making the extra into muffins. And sometimes, because they are so good, I just buy zucchini. There are two different recipes that I alternate between - one chocolate chip recipe from Cooking Light and the classic recipe my mom has made forever.

There's the root of this zucchini obsession - I miss my mom. She's coming to visit in 19 days though, so until she comes, I'll just keep making zucchini muffins. Chop that zucchini up finely in the Cuisinart, mix in the Kitchen Aid, bake, eat, repeat.

B. Roe's Zucchini Muffins (original source unknown)
1 cup grated zucchini
2 eggs
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup oil
1 cup white flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup raisins

Finely chop/grate zucchini in a food processor.

In large bowl, mix two eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla.

In a separate bowl combine flours, baking soda, and a tiny pinch of salt. Mix into the eggs and sugar mixture until just barely combined. Stir in zucchini and raisins.

Fill large muffin tins 2/3rds of the way full and bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Foil wrappers work BEST for these muffins. You can also use mini muffin tins and bake for 15 minutes.*

(When Lu and I were little girls, we used to have contests to see whose zucchini muffin had more raisins. Apparently we were born competitive.)

Or, if like Rachel, you like everything better with chocolate, try this recipe for Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins from Cooking Light. I follow the recipe pretty exactly, but I substitute 3/4 cup of whole wheat flour. Regular size muffins bake for about 18 minutes.

*A few notes about muffin size. Hidden away in my pantry, I found some really big muffin cups and some for just muffin tops (above) from Pryde's in Westport. The giant ones are great if you love the gooey inside of a muffin. They're just beautiful, really, and they are strong enough that you don't need a muffin tin for support. Mini muffins are best for babies. Regular size muffins do well with foil wrappers in cupcake tins. They also travel really well.

Important to note - only use the foil part of the wrapper. Save the white paper layers for another project, they are really just separators. My dear old roommate Erica used to be really confused about this. I straightened it all out for her.

Make yourself useful and make some zucchini muffins.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Thanks Rach.

She took this photo of me at sunset on the deck.

But more than just occasionally taking a decent photo of me, Rachel is my sounding board. As a type A extrovert, I connect with people by telling stories and talking through things. When I take Myers-Briggs, I am at the far far end of the extrovert scale. I need people.

Rachel is actually an introvert. So she would do just fine plucking along through life, sharing occasional phone calls and blog posts with the outside world. Rach problem solves on her own just fine most of time (we did talk about her haircut every day for three months).

But me...no way. Every week I change my mind about something. And every week Rachel talks through things with me. Really you all should thank Rachel. She saves you all from reading blog posts each week where I have changed my mind about some aspect of my life. Sometimes we disagree, other times she calls me a freak, but mostly she just loves me and my dramatic inconsistencies.

I guess you do too, dear blog reader, or you wouldn't come back. Thanks to you as well.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Collection 1: Cookbooks.

In my hedge apple green kitchen, I have three beloved and accidental collections. A little bit at a time, I'm going to share them with you. My theory is that every time I reveal one my quirky habits, you feel a little bit more normal. At least I hope so...

Collection #1 - Cookbooks.

I didn't mean to start collecting cookbooks. It sort of just happened along my way into adulthood. But once I had one, I needed another. People gave many of them to me as gifts, and I treasure each of those cookbooks even more.

I have the cookbooks from the small town churches of both of my grandmothers. Others are trendy like PW, Vera Bradley and Rachael Ray. I could read cookbooks for hours, making notes and putting post-it notes on recipes that I want to try.

When I find recipes I love, I add them to my Vera Bradley binder on the end. Pioneer Woman's Tequila Lime Chicken is going in the binder tonight. It was the best grilled chicken I've ever made or tasted for that matter.

But from the whole collection, I have two cookbooks that I can't live without. When I want to cook or bake to impress, I always start curled up with these two beauties.

Two Junior League cookbooks. One in its second printing, one out of print. Both classics.

Beyond Parsley, and its sequel, Above and Beyond Parsley, could almost be coffee table books because they are so beautiful. The recipes can be challenging, but they are deliciously unique, and so very Kansas City. My favorite recipes are for spaghetti carbonara and sugar cookies made with only confectioners sugar. I'll be using the pesto recipe this summer with all of the basil growing in my garden.

This cookbook is no longer in print, and we found a much coveted one for Erica when she got married. Look carefully online, you too could be so lucky!

The Indianapolis cookbook was a gift from Bonnie, my step-grandmother, and I love the history tucked at the front of each section. It's been a fun thing to share with my Indiana family because when I ask for a recipe, they often send me into this cookbook. I adore it's spiral comb binding because it rests open while you're cooking. This should be required for cookbooks.

I counted. There are seventeen cookbooks all lined up in my kitchen. I've been cooking for about six years. If I continue to collect cookbooks at this pace and live to be about 87, I'll have only about 180 cookbooks total. That sounds reasonable.

My Predecessors.

Sometimes I long for days gone by, for days when ladies wore hats and gloves. They're not really even my days to miss. My mother's generation didn't wear hats - no, these days belonged to my grandmothers and their female predecessors.

My aunt Kathi wears hats. This is a photo of some of her hat collection. She's teaches etiquette to students at a local high school, and I love spending time with her because she reminds me of the importance of being a lady. You could say that my aunt Kathi exudes grace and class.

I think it is peculiar balancing act being a lady in 2010. While I miss the days when ladies wore hats, I'm particularly fond of jeans. In fact, I'm teaching in them today. I get to do all sorts of things that my great-grandmothers couldn't imagine and do them all by myself too.

Maybe my aunt Kathi will host a tea, and we can all go. She would teach us things we probably already should have learned while we wear her hats and sip tea correctly. Then we would put our jeans back on, climb into my SUV and drive off with a little more knowledge about how to be both feminine and independent.

Please RSVP in writing, I feel like that is more proper.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Weekend Respite.

I like the word respite immensely. I also think I am always pronouncing it wrong.

This weekend I took some time for a family visit and a little bit of respite. My blackberry doesn't have service when I'm in Delaware so I was off the grid, able to focus on family and books. It was a wonderful weekend away from the business of Northern Virginia.

When I arrived on Saturday morning, Ted, Kathi and I headed to Longwood Gardens to explore. Like my love Winterthur, Longwood was owned by a member of the DuPont family, and it is beautiful. I love it for its symmetry and green.

Here are my lovely hosts.

Ted is my grandmother Virginia's brother, and Kathi is his fabulous wife. They are my great-uncle and great-aunt, and I feel extremely lucky to have family close to visit. Especially family like the two of them!

We spent time in the observatory learning about perfumes. Kathi has a collection of fancy perfumes we explored later at home, before we each put some on to wear to dinner! Ted thought we were silly, and we thought we were fancy. I made sure to dab some on before I left for school this morning because I'm pretty sure it is important after seeing the exhibit, "Making Scents: The Art and Passion of Fragrance."


It was muggy. If it had been nicer, there might have been people resting in these lovely chairs lined up to view the main fountain garden. When I squint, I can see people in the mid 1900s enjoying iced tea and watching the children running around the fountains.

Today it is nicer. No more humidity here. Will you come teach 8th grade so I can go back and enjoy my iced tea at Longwood Gardens? Thank you.