New Year’s Eve is Not My HolidayPosted: December 31, 2015 Filed under: Uncategorized 1 Comment
I’m not a big New Year’s Eve gal. The calendar changing from one day to the next is no different tonight as the next night or the one after that. I want everyday to be a big celebration as well as a time to reflect on how things are going.
For this “normal” day I had a special treat to start it off, our long time friend, and special member of our family as our babysitter for many years, Megan Ketch came for breakfast. Megan spent five years with us while she was in high school and college studying theatre. We knew she was going places when she left us for the big city of New York and since has gone on to a successful acting career. She is currently in Jane the Virgin on the CW and has just been cast as a lead in a CBS hour long drama American Gothic, a series starting this summer. Having Megan around makes us all happy. That was my the celebration part of my day.
After our visit I went to do my good deed of the day. Chapel Hill Needlepoint is moving locations. Due to issues beyond her control Nancy, the owner, got the joy of moving everything in the store today, which is right at the start of her big annual sale. Today a few loyal friends came to help unpack and hang up fibers. The new location is a little farther for me to get to, but it has a lot of perks. It is on Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd right by the Root Cellar, where the old Foster’s used to be and just beside Fly Leaf Books. The stitching table still be there and now we have places to get lunch.
I came home in time to get to see Carter for a few moments before she was off to spend New Years with a friend. When you are young, you feel compelled to make something over the New Year. When you are my age you are just happy you have a new year.
I got to think back about the good and the bad in this year. I lost my dear Uncle Wilson, my father’s only brother this year. He was important to me because he was always there and now that he is not I have to keep him alive in my heart. Russ’ brother David has had a tough year with a bad heart attack and now we are awaiting a new heart for him. The good is that he is still here.
Thinking about these things puts any other issues in perspective. How much weight I have gained during “the eating season” seems trivial, especially since tomorrow brings “the diet season.” I am a little calmer about the college search for Carter. I know that the next twelve months will be stressful for her, so I need to keep in mind not to add to her stress and just be supportive. That is going to be something I have to work hard on all year.
Russ too has worked hard all year and I need to keep things going at home so he is free to work on his company. Helping him with his burdens will be my role. I am lucky that the rest of my family is well and I count my blessing that I have my parents, my dear friends and meaningful work. I’m not really taking stock here at year end, just trying to be mindful everyday of what is good, what I have control of and what is worth ignoring.
I hope that you have more good days than bad in the next year and that laughter fills more hours.
The World Is SmallPosted: December 30, 2015 Filed under: Uncategorized 1 Comment
Last night in Charleston Russ took Carter and me to a small Lebanese restaurant for dinner. As we were sitting at our table a family of four was seated next to us. Actually, I really did not pay that close attention to them because by the time they sat down I was trying to dissect exactly what was in the spicy hummus with fava beans we were thoroughly enjoying. After a few moments the mother leaned over and politely asked Carter if she was a CIT from camp Cheerio.
After Carter quickly responded, “Yes,” the daughter leaned forward saying she knew it was her. Turns out she had been one of Carter’s campers. The mother had nothing but the nicest things to say about Carter as her daughter’s CIT, “you are famous!” What she was famous for I do not know, but it was a small world.
Today, I had to get up early to leave Russ and Carter so I could drive back to Durham to do my job as photography chair at the Deb ball tonight. Carter had a very early final basketball game. It was a game I was sorry to miss as I got the play by play via text. One player broke her nose and on the good news front Carter actually scored. The team won the game in overtime by two points. Maybe it was best I was not there, since I’m not sure my heart could have taken it.
On a high from a winning game, and since it was over by eleven in the morning, Russ and Carter went to visit Middleton Place, a wonderful southern plantation. After spending time visiting all the animals in the exhibits Russ and Carter went to go have lunch in the restaurant. A women they did not know approached them and introduced herself as Priscilla Goodwin from Virginia. “Are you Russ and Carter Lange? You don’t know me but I read your wife’s blog and I read you were in Charleston for the tournament, have fun.”
I don’t think I know Priscilla, but what are the chances that someone who reads this blog and does not know us runs into Russ and Carter in a place none of us lives and recognizes them from pictures? Priscilla if you are reading this now, let me know how you started reading the blog in the first place. I would love to make the full circle on this small world story.
So from basketball, to plantations to debutants it has been a busy day. You never know who is around the next corner, but chances are you have some connection to them, if you can just figure it out.
What Are You Going To Remember?Posted: December 29, 2015 Filed under: Uncategorized Leave a comment
My college gang of friends used to have a challenge saying we used with each other when we wanted to encourage a friend to do something fun, rather than what they probably should be doing. “What are you going to remember?” I would taunt a friend who I wanted to go on a road trip with me.
It was certainly true as I look back all these years later. I remember well the “tinsal” (our slang for tinsel) we draped around ourselves for a Christmas party. Do I remember taking finals that semester, no. In fact I can’t even remember what classes I took.
The things in life that are most memorable are not the everyday, but the specials days, especially trips. Today was the second day of playing in this basketball tournament for Carter here in Charleston. For the most part we are going to forget the basketball playing, but the time we got to spend as a family seeing new things and meeting interesting people is “what we are going to remember.”
This afternoon after all the bball was over and the showers were taken Russ, Carter and I ventured back to historic Charleston to walk the streets looking at the gorgeous houses and learning the history. While Russ was searching for parking Carter and I walked through a three hundred year old cemetery until we were told it was closing. I did not know cemeteries ever closed.
Since we were still waiting for Russ we crossed the street where Carter struck up a conversation with a lovely Gullah woman selling her Sweetgrass baskets. If you are unfamiliar with the coiled baskets you might be surprised at how costly the oldest African crafts brought by West African slaves to South Carolina are.
Laurie Bonneau introduced herself to Carter and answered her many questions about making Sweetgrass baskets. In an age of the same mass produced crap that is sold all over the world it was delightful to see something so distinctively tied to this place.
Laurie showed Carter exactly which strands in the basket were grass, bullrush, pine needles or Palmetto fronds. Suddenly that high price for the small basket was understandable. She showed her a piece made by an unnamed relative she might be married to and how it was not quite as fine as one she had made. After all she had been making baskets since she was seven, she should be good at it.
Laurie had one show stopper of a basket that she took off the fence to let Carter see that had a $5,000 price tag. “How long did it take for you to make this?” Carter asked. The answer of four months makes that $5,000 seem small. Sadly we did not buy any baskets today, but Laurie could not have been nicer.
Russ eventually appeared and we bid our basket teacher goodbye and went off in search of the most beautiful house in Charleston. We certainly did not come to a conclusion because at almost every corner we turned we saw a new favorite house. We did agree that we really liked the houses in the alleys as opposed to the ones on the big important streets because of the privacy the alleys seemed to have.
Towards the end of our walking tour we window shopped at a gallery we all agreed was a favorite, a place to commission a portrait of your dog or horse, or just buy a painting of some random cute dog. The perfect art.
I am fairly certain that Carter will always remember learning about Gullah Sweetgrass baskets from Laurie and not the score of her basketball game, which I have already forgotten.
It’s All About The PeoplePosted: December 28, 2015 Filed under: Uncategorized Leave a comment
The very best reason for me to come on this basketball trip should be to act as parent support for my player. Truth be told the best reason is to get to spend time with my family. I don’t think that Russ, Carter and I would have had this much togetherness if we had been home and it has been a pleasure.
It has not just been our nuclear family, but the real bonus is that the tournament is in Charleston, so tonight we got to have dinner with my cousin Mary and her husband Ward who live here. Even though Mary and I are second cousins we are more like sisters who don’t get to see each other much, but actually like each other. Mary’s grandmother and my grandmother were two of six sisters in a crazy Michie branch of our family and our husbands are part of the support group, “people married to people with Michie DNA.” We never have enough time together so tonight was extra fun. After we drove away from a yummy dinner Carter said, “We don’t get to see them enough.” I agree.
I have also had a lot of togetherness with our basketball family and that has been fun too. I am particularly grateful for such a nice group of girls on the team and their equally delightful parents. There is very little drama with this group and that is such a rarity these days.
Our game today did not exactly go as planned. We are here for a basketball tournament after all. But that is not stopping us from having a good time. There is a game tomorrow to make up for today.
Before the game today we all went to downtown Charleston together and did a little shopping in the market before grabbing lunch. We are certainly not the only tourists in Charleston. As Carter and I were getting out of our car on Church street I saw Woody Allen and his stepdaughter/wife Soon-Yi walking down the street. Carter was could not believe I recognized him so quickly and got a picture. You just never know who you are going to see when you are on a basketball trip.
We may have come here for a sport, but like most things I am here for the people. How the games go is not the most important thing, but the memories we are making from the fun we are having is the thing I will remember.
Basketball LogisticsPosted: December 27, 2015 Filed under: Uncategorized 1 Comment
I woke up this morning to the news report, “Today is the busiest travel day of the year. More than Thanksgiving, with Christmas on a Friday, making it a long weekend, for most returning home today to get back to work on Monday.” This news would make little difference to me normally since don’t travel for Christmas, but unfortunately today we did have to travel.
Carter and her basketball team have a big tournament in Charleston, SC starting tomorrow which meant that today was the travel day. Now as far as places to have to go as a parent support system, Charleston sounds lovely. The only problem is to get here from Durham involves some interaction with I-95 and for an unknown reason to me, it is still just two lanes each direction in North Carolina.
I can give a first hand account for the accuracy of the news. Today was the biggest travel day of the year. The trip, which should have taken four hours and twenty-nine minutes, according to google maps took over six hours and that was with minimal stops. The things that made no sense to us were the cars from Illinois, or California that were heading south. Where were those people coming from or going to? Now the New Jersey or Connecticut cars I could see might be going to Florida and certainly the South Carolina cars were heading home from visiting relatives in more northern states, but the random Wyoming people, what the hell, stay out west we have no room for you on I -95 today.
The speed on the highway was a good twenty to thirty miles slower than it should have been. The worst drivers were the Ontario Canada cars (sorry Stuart) who changed lanes with no signals with hardly enough room to butt in.
Amazingly the whole team showed up at the restaurant we were having family dinner at at the right time. Many of us skipped checking in the hotel until after dinner so we would be on time, but that was no big deal. After dinner the waiters could not figure out how to split the check up so we just paid the whole thing and will figure it out tomorrow. After the terrible day of driving there was no reason to make everyone sit any more than necessary.
Now we are tucked in at our hotel. Apparently there are 80 teams playing in this tournament and at least one of them is having a party outside our room, by the pool. I can see this is going to be a very relaxing few days. For now I am praying for good playing.
Pink Peppermint Stick Ice Cream for Christmas- or AfterwardsPosted: December 26, 2015 Filed under: Uncategorized Leave a comment
Years go I got one of those Cuisineart Ice Cream Machines that uses a frozen container that spins in the machine to make ice cream. The instructions were always poor and I put the machine in the appliance storage area, to rarely be used. Of course there is a good reason not to have an ice cream machine near by, but Christmas and the season of breaking your diet is the only time it might come out.
For this Christmas I decided I would try one more time to make ice cream with the machine and if it did not turn out I could make something else. My father always liked peppermint stick ice cream with chocolate sauce from a restaurant called the Rice Patty in Georgetown, SC, so I attempted to recreate that.
Since I have never had any luck with the recipes that came with the machine I read number of recipes online and made a mashup of various ones. Carter declared it was the best ice cream ever.
1 cup milk
2 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup of sugar
1 small package of sugar free instant vanilla pudding (the real secret)
1/3 cup of crushed up candy canes
Good splash of peppermint extract
Pinch of salt
In a kitchen aid stand mixer put the milk, cream, eggs and sugar and whisk on medium high until it gets a little thicker.
Add the vanilla pudding mix and beat again for 20 seconds.
Add the peppermint candy and extract and salt and mix again.
Pour the mixture into a container with a lid and chill for at least four hours, but overnight is better.
Make sure the freezer bowl section of the ice cram maker has been in the freezer for at least six hours. Pour the ice cream liquid into it and place the blade in and put in the ice cream machine. Let spin for at least 20 minutes or until the it is frozen.
Remove the ice cream into a container and put in the freezer to finish hardening up. The best thing about it is that the pudding keeps it from getting too hard.
Serve with fudge sauce and crushed peppermint stick on top.
Christmas Come and GonePosted: December 25, 2015 Filed under: Uncategorized Leave a comment
As a kid riding in the car with my mother, stuck behind the trash collectors driving up Ridgefield Road, she used to say, “They are slow as Christmas.” It took me a while to understand that what she was describing was how slow it feels for Christmas morning to come. I should have gotten that as a child because waiting to see if Santa came felt like an eternity. Those last few days in school before Christmas break dragged on and on, but then December 22, 23 and 24 were days with 36, 48 and 56 hours long each.
Sadly, now Christmas comes in a blink. There is hardly enough time to get everything done. I only bought one gift before November, but that was something meaningful from Italy for my sister Janet. This year I paid Carter to wrap all the presents that were not for her and even then I was still up working late last night. Russ jumped in to help me this morning with the preparations of the Christmas feast while Carter was still asleep and before my family arrived for the one day all year we are together. Thank goodness for his precision carrot peeling skills we actually got everything ready on time.
Around noon two cars full of Carters laden down with wrapped gifts arrived, making multiple trips carrying things into the house. Then the gift giving began. We had said this was going to be a smaller Christmas, but still the opening takes time to ohh and ahh at each sweet gift. Not having wrapped my own gifts made each one a surprise to me as well as to the receiver.
All through the opening I kept getting up to finish up cooking the lamb, or preparing the popovers, or cooking the green beans. After the presents were done we sat down at the dining room table to have the Christmas meal. All the food was done at the right time and my major job for the day was done.
After dessert Mom, Dad and Margaret went back to the farm, while Janet and Sophie stayed for a longer visit. Since this is the one day all year we know we will see them we tried to drag out the visit as long as possible. Then, the time came that they too had to go. This meant Christmas was officially over.
Despondently, we washed the dishes, sad that Christmas had come and gone. Carter went up to the tree to clean up the bags of paper and called out, “Oh no, an unopened gift for Janet.” It was the special mug from Bar Bruno in Positano I had carried back from Italy. Bar Bruno was the bar she hung out at as an nine year old. I had envisioned the whole family laughing about Bar Bruno when she opened that gift. But now Christmas has come and gone and I messed up big. I waited since March to give this gift, but my old memory just couldn’t remember it all these months, even as fast as Christmas comes to me now. I guess I am just going to have to drive this gift up to the farm tomorrow before Janet leaves…Christmas is not gone yet.
The Reason for The SeasonPosted: December 24, 2015 Filed under: Uncategorized 1 Comment
All the decorating, present buying, cooking, wrapping, celebrating pales in comparison to the real reason for the season. Hoping you and yours are having a Merry Christmas Eve.
No Christmas Card From Us This YearPosted: December 23, 2015 Filed under: Uncategorized Leave a comment
As much as I love Christmas and all things celebrating the season I just could not pull it together this year to create and mail a Christmas card. I write a daily blog, isn’t everyone getting enough of the minutiae of our family’s daily life that they don’t need a physical card from us? Granted not everyone I would send a card to reads my blog, or even knows of its existence. But then I also post things on Facebook. How much more should people have to endure?
I love getting cards from friends far and wide, even those from people I see regularly or read about on Facebook. I feel closer to some acquaintances because of seeing or reading online what they are doing daily. But not everyone is so connected. Those are the people I love getting a card from to see how grown up their children are, or which sibling favors which parent, or who has a new grandchild.
In the years before the Internet took over our lives I used to run to the mailbox this time of year and could hardly wait to get in the door to open all the cards. Now it is not such a huge rush. A couple times this month the cards sat unopened on my desk for a day or two, until I knew I had a few minutes to realy enjoy each card and not just tear them open and put them in the card bowl by the front door.
I have seen more than a few messages on Facebook from other busy friends who said their card was coming at Valentines or not at all. I don’t need a card from a friend to remember them or think kindly on them. I hope my friends feel the same way.
Merry Christmas to all our friends who celebrate it and Happy Holidays to the rest of you. I hope that 2016 is your best year ever. I am not promising a card for President’s Day or an Easter greeting. I’ll just try and do better next year.
All I Want For Christmas…Posted: December 22, 2015 Filed under: Uncategorized Leave a comment
World peace, a world without hunger, satisfying employment for all, no human or animal suffering, all these things would be great and if I were a really good person or competing in Miss America this is what I would wish for. But I am no Miss nor that nice. So all I want is for our f..ing cable to work right.
I know this is a selfish, first world problem, but really it does not seem like I am asking so much. When I redid the gathering room I removed our twenty year old – forty inch – five hundred pound TV and replaced it with an up-to-date flat screen. Of course new TV’s are different shapes than the antique ones so I had to change where it was placed. That meant moving the cable, blah, blah, blah such a boring job. Eventually I got it all hooked up and went to the cable company and got a new whole house dv-tvr to power the new TV.
I plugged in the new cable box and got all the channels. Hooray! I thought I was done, but no. There was nothing whole house about it. None of the shows I recorded on the other cable boxes were showing up on the new box. Not such a big deal, but really I wanted it to work. I unhooked the box and took it back only to be told that the box was fine and I needed to reboot everything.
I went home and unplugged and replugged everything in the whole house. That did not solve a thing. At that point I implored Russ to get involved because if I were to call the cable company I might say something that would have them fire me as a client, and maybe call the police on me.
Today the repairman came. He first discovered that we never were signed up for an additional whole house dv-tvr so It was not my fault it was not working. He got the central office to fix that and still it was not fixed. He changed amplifiers, cable boxes, rebooted and rerebooted again, and at last the three TV’s were all talking to each other. Problem solved, and the tech ran out because he was late for his next appointment.
I went to turn on a TV that had been working fine before and half the channels did not come in! WHAT!!!!!! I rebooted…nothing. I called back to the cable company, they rebooted from the central station, nothing. By then dispatch was closed and I could not get the tech back until seven AM tomorrow. What a f…ing pain in the ass. The world has gotten just too complicated and five times as frustrating. I would much rather be spending my Christmas working towards world peace or ending all human suffering. I feel like I have a lot better chance at solving that than I do getting all the cable to work in my house at the same time.
Chinese Auction Shrimp SaladPosted: December 21, 2015 Filed under: Uncategorized Leave a comment
For my annual Chinese Auction I made this big ass cabbage and raw veggie salad with shrimp and a cilantro lime dressing. I forgot to take a picture of it, but it is a beautiful salad with lots of different colors. You can certainly imagine it. I am not going to put amounts of anything since I made this for a crowd, you can certainly figure out how much you need per person
Finley shredded Napa Cabbage
Shredded Red cabbage
Green onions – chopped
Carrots – julienned
Red, yellow and orange peppers – chopped
Mung bean sprouts
Snow peas- julienned
Cooked, peeled shrimp
Peanuts – chopped
Cilantro Lime Dressing
1/3 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 cloves of garlic
1 chipotle chili from the can in adobo sauce
2 T. Honey
2/3 c. Olive oil
2 big handfuls of cleaned cilantro leaves
Salt and pepper
Put the juice, vinegar, garlic, chili and honey in a blender and run on high for fifteen seconds. Take the center out of the top and turn the blender on high and stream in the oil slowly so it can thicken up. It should take about a minute to get all the oil in and well blended. Turn the machine off and add the cilantro and just pulse it a couple times. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
Mix up all veggies and toss with the shrimp and dressing as needed. Sprinkle cilantro and peanuts on top to garnish.
Where It All BeganPosted: December 20, 2015 Filed under: Uncategorized Leave a comment
For our last day visiting Russ’ father we had to eat at his favorite diner for breakfast. Carter, growing up in North Carolina, is woefully ignorant of diner culture. Russ’ dad is quite the regular at Warminster West to the point that his regular waitress flashed her new diamond ring at him to let him know she was engaged at last. Since it was the Sunday morning rush we did not get a chance to meet her, but Carter did get an idea of what the population of Bucks county is like.
After breakfast we said our goodbyes and went off to explore the place that Russ and I first started our marriage and show it all again to Carter, who said she could not remember the last visit. We crossed the bridge leaving Pennsylvania and made our way into south Jersey. People tend to make fun of Jersey, but Carter thought Palmyra, the little town that Russ and I first lived in was much nicer than North Philly,where we had to drive through to get there. On that point I can not disagree with her.
After driving Carter past our little four square craftsman’s house we drove her to a much nicer house we had considered buying. It was a shingle style on the golf course and I am so thankful we did not buy it because if we had we probably would not have left New Jersey as fast as we did. Carter said she was glad never bought that nicer house. She had a new found appreciation for all things Durham after seeing New Jersey.
We had a few more minutes so we decided to go see the company where Russ and I met and fell in love. I was thankful it was a Sunday so we could take pictures out front without having to explain to anyone who we were and why we were there. We pulled up to OPEX world headquarters, center of the mail opening and extracting world and got out. Russ and I showed Carter the window of the demo room where Russ first saw me demonstrating the system 100, the engineering aphrodisiac- love at first sight. In the end Carter said OPEX was good because she would not exist without it.
I too am thankful for OPEX because without it I never would have met Russ. The New Jersey years were something I am glad were in the beginning because they have made me appreciative of everything since then. Mostly, I am so glad that we live in Durham and that Carter, who has never lived any place else, understands why we live here.
Happy 75th Birthday IcepaPosted: December 19, 2015 Filed under: Uncategorized Leave a comment
Yesterday we flew up to Philly to celebrate Russ’ father’s seventy-fifth birthday which was actually last week. Today was the birthday lunch celebration at the William Penn Inn, the oldest continuously running inn in Pennsylvania. Going to a 300 year old Inn makes you feel young at 75.
The party was the first time Icepa had all three of his children, their spouses and all six grandchildren together in a while. It was a lovely occasion. The grandchildren are all old enough to be a pleasure at a grown up restaurant. For Carter the bonus is getting to have quality time with her oldest cousin Bree who is a college Freshman.
The best news of the week was that David, Russ’ brother, who had a heart attack in February was put on the heart transplant list and is now awaiting a new heart that will be his best chance at his old self. David was in good form today and I was happy to see him face to face. Mostly I was glad to spend time with his wife Tascha, the saint of all time, who has done a miraculous job taking care of him and their three kids. Please pray for a heart for David soon.
The funniest moments at lunch came when we gave all our nieces and nephews their Christmas presents and the youngest, Jack opened his and exclaimed, “Wow,” as the cash fell from his card. A fresh new bill makes a kid very happy.
In the end, Icepa had all his peeps together for his big birthday. There isn’t much to give anyone at 75 except a visit. I’m glad we were able to pull this together and celebrate all together.
Cold For ChristmasPosted: December 18, 2015 Filed under: Uncategorized Leave a comment
It has not been feeling at all like Christmas in North Carolina, what with our seventy degree December. It has made dressing for Christmas parties difficult. What might they be wearing in Palm Beach?
Today we remedied that global warming holiday feeling by coming north to Pennsylvania to visit Russ’ father and celebrate his 75th birthday and see his siblings and families. Bucks county
has done its best to provide that seasonal spirit with lots of cold.
We flew in to Philly and before we went to get our rental car Russ, Carter and I went to our TSA interviews to get our Global Entry cards. The only place in North Carolina you can get your interview is Charlotte, so getting interview times that corresponded with our arrival was a huge bonus. After traversing the multiple terminals we finally found the secret intercom where we gave the password and were buzzed in, but first were told through the squawk box to “make sure no one is following you.” Is this some kind of test?
We were put in a room with a TV playing a continuous loop instructional video about global entry and all the infractions that could get us disqualified. Since we were fifteen minutes early for our appointment and the TSA agent was fifteen minutes late we memorized the entire video. I secretly thought the interview was them watching us watching the video and if we did not pull the cord out of the continuous loop of the annoying video we could be considered safe enough to be let into the country without having to be interrogated by a human.
Once we determined what my real name was we passed the interview and were on our way with our new global entry numbers, no shoe or belt removal in our future.
As if the cold was not enough of a slap, driving on I-95 reminded me why we moved away from here. We got to Icepa’s house and had enough time to visit with Carter’s cousin Bree before heading further north to Peddler’s Village for dinner and a good dose of Christmas lights and nose freezing.
After a dinner of colonial style Turkey we wandered the shops and picked up a couple of Christmas gifts. Finally it was feeling like the holiday season. I only had to leave home and fly five hundred miles to find it.
Flash Back to My Old LifePosted: December 17, 2015 Filed under: Uncategorized Leave a comment
Today Russ’ company had their Q4 meeting and holiday party. I am used to going to the party since I am the supportive spouse. But today, I also went to the meeting, not as the consultant I used to be, but as the art director for the photographer that was shooting shots of the meeting to be used on the company website.
Coincidentally, my Dad was also at the meeting, not as the boss he was when I worked for him, but as the elder statesman and inspirer of the company that Russ and his partner Rich started 18 years ago. As I stood in the back of the conference room listening to my Dad tell stories about working many years ago as a consultant the last years I have spent as a mother fell away and I was transported back to my previous life.
Sometimes it feels like I have lived many different lives. One informs the other, but they don’t easily blend together. Life in boarding school is compartmentalized to a three year period, then college four. My first job, selling mail opening machines, while at the same time running á la Carter, my catering business, even though those two things happened at the same time, they had very little cross over with each other, like living two lives at the same time. Then my life as a consultant, with mostly international work and marriage. And one day I quit my job to have a baby. The end of my work identity and a whole new life had to be developed.
The only constant in that last part was Russ. He supported me in finding new things, Durham Magazine, the Food Bank and life in Durham. But today, busy as I am with Carter having exams this week and me getting ready for Christmas I stopped everything to spend this day as a fly on the wall in my old life. I listened to presentations, talked to consultants, looked at marketing plans. It was easy to fall right back into step with the language and the tenor.
It was fun to spend time with young people who are doing interesting work.
Do I miss that old life? Probably not because I really like my regular life now. What I do know is it is best to have one life. I have tried doing two things at once and that is much too hard. You are never fully in one thing so you are missing something or feeling like you aren’t doing your best all the time. In the end you really can’t repeat yourself, but a visit back, for just a day, was just fine.
Can You Love a Dog Too Much?Posted: December 16, 2015 Filed under: Uncategorized Leave a comment
This morning when I went to the gym I ran into my friend Susan who said, “I wish you would give up the blog about food and just have a blog about Shay Shay.” Now maybe I am not remembering that quite right. She could have said, “…have Shay Shay write a blog.” For full disclosure, Susan has a dachshund who is featured prominently in her Facebook, so it was not news to me that she would like a dog blog everyday.
Later in the day I got a picture from my friend Sheppy of her new labradoodle puppy, Peppermint. Sheppy had read so much about Shay Shay in this blog that she decided she needed one of her cousins for herself. Thankfully our breeder did not make Sheppy fly in from Nashville for an interview to see if she was worthy since she was recommended by both me and Sara Pottenger.
Sara has another one of Shay’s cousins, Brady. She said to me just yesterday that she hopes she out lives Brady because she can’t imagine life without him. I hope that they both stick around for at least the next 35 years.
This afternoon my friend Christy brought my Christmas present over. She had gotten me something in July and could not wait another minute to give it to me. She figured we were close enough to Christmas for me to open it. I had to hold back the tears when I unwrapped the perfect portrait of Shay Shay. So as I sit on the sofa, trying to type on my iPad with the real Shay resting her head on my arm I am gazing at the darling picture of Shay that now sits on the bookshelf.
Obviously the answer to my question, “Can you love a dog too much?” is absolutely not. There is no way I can ever love this dog as much as she loves me. Never mad when I leave her home alone or drag her out in the rain to do her business. She may not be happy, but does not hold it against me.
Russ is going to love this painting of Shay as much as I do and I think we might as well not try and give each other anything for Christmas because nothing will top this gift from Christy.
Why I Like Christmas By Shay Shay LangePosted: December 15, 2015 Filed under: Uncategorized Leave a comment
It’s here, my favorite time of the year. I like when the house gets all sparkly and shiny. I like having a tree inside, even though I am not allowed to pee on it. There is a lot of food in the house and my mother is cooking, cooking, cooking. Usually I get a treat of what she is making, but she doesn’t always let me taste it. Who told her chocolate is not good for dogs? But what I really like most of all is that friends come over and play with me.
Today, I was standing at the front door looking out and when I saw someone outside I invited them to come in and maybe have a drink or something to eat. These people are kind of sparkly and shiny too. They bring little bags with treats and I have to promise not to put my nose in them even though sometimes I want what’s inside the bag.
At a Christmas time more people come in my house and sit around, more than usual. I can almost always find a friend who lets me sit in their lap. See, I like snuggling with friends a lot.
At Christmas almost all the friends who come in my house have something to eat. The friends are nice to me and let me taste some of their lunch. I am not a big fan of jicama, what is jicama anyway?
Sadly, as soon as friends come, they seem to go. But today my best dog friend Harry’s mom, who lives across the street came over and asked if I could have a play date with Harry. You know I was excited so I went home with Harry”s mom.
After we played in Harry’s yard, my Mom came and got me and said it was time for me to come home for my nap. Christmas friends really take it out of me. Don’t get me wrong, I can’t wait for tomorrow when I can get someone else to come over and look at my tree growing out of the floor in my big room. But for right now I think I am a little tired.
Bad TimingPosted: December 14, 2015 Filed under: Uncategorized Leave a comment
This time of year tends to be jammed packed with lots of things to do. Things I love, like parties, celebrations, cookie exchanges, decorating, decoration viewing and general merriment. Of course these occurrences are fit in amongst the regular living activities like grocery shopping, dentist appointments, hair cuts and working out. Then there are the holiday requirements which are not merriment, but are required, like Christmas gift shopping and wrapping.
Somehow in a generally already full life the holidays don’t just fit in by themselves. Precision calendar management is required, pernicious trimming of all but the most essential activities must be done and some general not getting done must be accepted.
I made a critical error in calendar management this year. I planned an annual holiday lunch for a day that after a weekend away basketball tournament and on the first day of exams for my high school junior. Then beyond all my calendar control, my husband suddenly left for Australia, only to return two days before my lunch. This means I really should be paying some attention to him since he was away for ten days, but couldn’t he have come home after my lunch?
My second error in time planning was I had both a dentist and hair appointment this morning. What was I thinking? I should be home cooking. When I got in my car to leave for the gym this morning the last thing I needed to see was the warning light flashing “tire pressure too low.” I stopped at the gas station on the way to the dentist and filled my tires. Apparently I am not good at doing that and the light came right back on. I stopped at the tire center and left my car and walked home from the Target. Good way to get my steps, which I certainly would have forgone today. That was a half hour I did not have to spare. Thankfully there was nothing too wrong with my car and my friend Christy drove me back to get my car.
Carter then came home from school to prepare for exams and asked if I could quiz her. The cookie exchange I was supposed to go to, even though I was not exchanging, had to be skipped. Boo hoo, one of my favorite parties, but exams junior year take precedent.
The next wrench came when a board meeting was rescheduled for the tomorrow after my lunch, meaning I will have to leave right after it is over to drive to Raleigh. I hope that Carter does not need much quizzing tomorrow since I won’t be here.
I think I need to go back to a big paper calendar where I can see the whole month at one glance. Only then would I notice so many of the mistakes in my planning and not make this amateur mistake of over scheduling. I can’t do anything about the holiday coming, but I could plan better to enjoy the fun bits and leave the dentist for January.
Chicken and Spinach StrudelPosted: December 13, 2015 Filed under: Uncategorized Leave a comment
I promised my needlepoint stitches this recipe from our Christmas lunch. If you have ever made any Greek dish with filo dough you will be fine to handle making this. If not, just practice a few times rolling these individual strudels and soon you will be making nice tight rolls with nicely folded edges.
One box of frozen fill dough comes with 30 sheets of pastry, enough for six strudels. So this recipe is enough for six because you really can’t keep filo dough that is leftover.
You can put anything that is not too wet as a filing. I make this one by cooking all the ingredients separately and mixing them together right before filling.
3 boneless skinless chicken thighs- cooked and chopped
2 lbs of fresh spinach or 3 boxes of frozen chopped spinach
1 large yellow onion chopped and sautéed
1 large package of fresh mushrooms, sliced and sautéed
6 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese
Salt and pepper
30 sheets of fill dough
1 stick of butter melted
Thaw the filo dough.
If you are using fresh spinach, sautée it it in a big pan without adding any water. Just put the leaves in a pan on medium heat and keep turning them over with tongs until they are wilted, about three minutes. Squeeze out any liquid from the spinach. Grate some fresh nutmeg over the spinach and salt and pepper. If you are using frozen, just prep it according to the package, but really squeeze the water out.
In a big bowl, mix together the spinach, cooked chicken, onions, mushrooms and two cheeses. Salt and pepper the whole thing.
Unroll the thawed filo and unroll it carefully not to break it and cover the sheets with a damp towel.
Working on a cutting board carefully pick one filo sheet up and lay it flat on board. Using a pastry brush cover the sheet with melted butter. Pick up another sheet and lay it on top of the first one and brush the top of that sheet with butter, repeat until you have five sheets in the stack.
Spoon one sixth of the filling onto one end of the short side of the filo dough making sure it is about one inch in from the edges. It should be a log about two inches wide. Fold up the short side on the end of the log and start rolling it up folding in the sides as you roll. It should look something like a big egg roll. Brush the outside with butter. I like to wrap each strudel in a separate piece of foil and freeze them individually if I am not baking them immediately.
If you want to eat them that day, lay strudels on a foil lined cookie sheet. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and crispy.
If you freeze them, unwrap while still frozen and place on the foil lined cookie sheet and let them thaw for an hour before baking the same way.
Oh Happy DayPosted: December 12, 2015 Filed under: Uncategorized Leave a comment
The day started with Carter waking up to study for exams before her 12:30 basketball game. Since I had to be quiet and not disturb her I left the hotel and went out in search of gifts. I would walk into a store and hard as I might try not to get that glazed look and really focus I just couldn’t do it. My fruitless hunt just made me frustrated so I went off to find Covenant Day, the school where the game was going to be played.
Although it was only a fifteen minute drive I was amazed by the number of large private school and big ass mega churches I passed, but then I remembered that Charlotte is the buckle of the bible belt. We prayed corporately at the beginning of the game and I guess that the DA teamed prayed extra hard because they played the best game of their season.
The CD team got out to a big lead and DA fought back at the half. After the break CD widened the lead with a number of three point shots. With only three minutes left in the game the DA girls made four baskets in half a minute without out letting their opponents even get to their end of the court. It was a heart pumping last three minutes but in the end the DA girls were victorious 52-50.
Carter and I jumped in the car to get home because Shay was missing us and Russ was due to get home tonight. Shay Shay did practically jump over my head in excitement when I picked her up, but she was quite disappointed when she got home that Russ was still no where to be found.
After 36 hours of flying Russ finally arrived back at RDU. The reunion of man and dog was sweet, but not as good as Daddy and daughter. Russ showed us pictures from Sydney with the best ones being from his bridge climb he did on the Sydney bridge yesterday, of course yesterday for him was two days ago.
So now we are all reunited. Snuggled together happy as can be with a winning game, good Australian trip and wait, no Christmas presents bought by me. Well, two out three ain’t bad, it was a happy day.
Charlotte AgainPosted: December 11, 2015 Filed under: Uncategorized Leave a comment
I am back I Charlotte for twenty four hours of basketball with Carter. Exams be damned, basketball must go on. The first game tonight was a winner against Charlotte Country Day, 53-33. I am naive enough about basketball to think that is was a great game, but Carter informed me that there were too many mistakes so it was not a wonderful game. It was better than a sharp stick in the eyeball far as I could tell.
I am not ready for Christmas. My shopping has been poor this year and I am unsure of exactly what I have for whom. What I do know is I have absolute nothing for Russ, just the way he likes it. Since I was coming to Charlotte for the games I thought I could do some shopping. I made my first stop at IKEA for a couple of things for Carter and a hostess gift or two. There is nothing at IKEA that Russ would like, save for some Swedish mustard and that is no gift.
Since I had two hours before the game I went to South Park Mall to see what I could find for Russ. Absolutely nothing was the answer. The only good news is I did not buy anything for myself. I did find some beautiful shoes at Neiman Marcus, but I am too old and practical to spend $795 on a pair of fancy flats. I did take a picture of them so I could look for a cheaper version someday.
After failing at shopping I went to the game where the tried and true DA parent supporters all showed up extra early and sat on the home team bleachers. I don’t think the nine of us took up too much space from the Country Day parents, but I will say we were quite vocal. One nice surprise was a great friend of Carter’s from camp, Morgan, who lives in Charlotte came to watch the game. It was a fun reunion for Carter. Morgan went to dinner with Carter and the team.
Sadly the team was going to the mall to eat at the food court so it meant that I was back at the mall too. There is nothing worse than trying to find a parking space on Friday night in December at the mall. I can’t remember the last time I ate at a food court. I should have skipped going with the team and gone some place better since it was impossible to get a seat near the team. At least Morgan was able to sit with Carter and the team.
I hope I have better luck in the morning doing some Christmas shopping, but since I have no idea where to go the chances are slim. Of course I’m really only here for the basketball.
Sad DogPosted: December 10, 2015 Filed under: Uncategorized Leave a comment
Russ has been in Australia all week. His being away is nothing new. As a consultant he is often away working, but this week is different. Not different for me, or for Carter, who is consumed with exam prep and basketball. The one in our house who seems most out of sorts with Russ so far away is Shay Shay.
She has taken to sitting alone in rooms Russ might be in, like his office or sitting on a chair alone in the dark living room just in case he comes in the front door or the garage so she would not miss him. She listens for the garage door to open and is despondent that it has not produced him for a week. It is not that he has been away for so long, but somehow I feel like Shay knows he is so far away.
Today Shay was sitting snuggled next me me as I was scrolling through photos on my iPad. She did not appear to be watching the screen, but when a big picture of Russ’ face flashed up on the screen she picked her head up and looked at it and made a tiny crying sound.
Right now she is lying next to me facing the door, most certainly hoping that he will walk right through it. If anyone does not believe that a dog has a broad range of emotions and loves as deeply as any human, never actually knew a dog.
I love Shay Shay, and while I know she loves me I also know she does not adore and worship me the way she does Russ. I wish that she could read a calendar and understand that he is absolutely coming home to her in a couple of days. It breaks my heart to see her moping around with the tragic look of someone who has just lost their puppy. Ironic isn’t it. I wonder if in the dog world they say, “You look like you just lost your human”?
For now she will just have to do with me and Carter. We aren’t so bad, but hey, I understand, we just ain’t Russ. I guess I agree with her. There is no replacement.
Posted: December 9, 2015 Filed under: Uncategorized Leave a comment
It’s Heart of Carolina Day for the Food Bank of Central and Eastern NC. This is the last big push to get people to donate food and funds to help feed out hungry neighbors. The local ABC 11 station does cut ins all day showing people bringing food to various locations throughout the triangle. For the last few years I have done early morning cut in, but today I was only available to do the three o’clock slot. I know it makes all those General Hospital watchers angry if we eat into their show, so apologies to you.
Here is the video of me on TV.
I wish that I had brushed my hair, but maybe people watching it will think that I had been at the truck collecting food all day and that is why I look so disheveled.
It is the holiday season and if you have a loved one on your list who does not need another thing, consider donating to a charity in their name. The Food Bank is always happy to send a card to let your honoree know of your generosity on their behalf if you make a donation online. The Food Bank of CENC
Ignore what I look like and just hear the message that the Food Bank can turn every dollar into five meals. Thanks to all you wonderful donors.
My Favorite “Job”Posted: December 8, 2015 Filed under: Uncategorized Leave a comment
Today was my garden club’s annual Christmas Auction. It is not a big time auction like Sotheby’s or Christies. Members each bring things, mostly home made, like cakes worthy of the Christmas dinner table or wreaths festooned with ribbons and berries. The point of the auction is to raise money we then turn around and give away and to have fun and do what we all do best, eat lunch and visit with each other.
Somehow I have gotten on the schedule that the auction is held at my house every other year, but this year was my “off year” so Christy Barnes held it at her lovely home. Being the hostess of the Christmas auction is a lot of work since you have to feed about 70 people, so I was extra thankful for Christy this year.
My real job at the auction every year is to be the auctioneer. When I first was invited to join the Hope Valley Garden Club my very first meeting was the Christmas auction. It was at Anne Bradford’s house and Pat Joklik was auctioneer. The HVGC has a broad range of ages in the women in membership and since I was one of the younger ones back then I got to sit on the stairs as the items were being auctioned off in the living room. As Pat would wrangle $20 or $25 for a pound cake from the ladies in attendance, I sat amazed that anyone would pay that much for a cake they could bake for $3.
In the next couple of years, as the membership got younger, Pat asked me to be her assistant auctioneer so I could help her with the names of newer members. Then one year after many decades of her being the auctioneer she announced she was retiring and leaving the job in my Pat trained hands.
So for about the last ten years I have had the pleasure of being the auctioneer. This year was easy. The items to be auctioned off were all fabulous. The worst thing that can happen is for someone to bring some old item from their basement and no one wants to bid on it. This is not a white elephant sale. I have to come up with some witty banter about each item, especially if it is a dud because the crowd will bid on funny, but not on crappy. Of course I can’t say anything that offends the donor, which means sometimes I really have to hold back. This year I probably only said two or three off color remarks which is fairly good for me.
Some years ago we started letting members invite guests to the auction. It makes my job a little harder since I don’t always know the whole crowd, but the guests bid much higher for things than the members usually do so we have greatly increased the amount of money we raise. No one could every get a caramel cake for $25 now, you really have to fork over closer to a $100.
I could never do this job without the help of the runner elves who bring me the items so we can keep the pace up. Thanks to Kathi Eason and Connie Kearny for being the elves. Kathi is also a good model and is seen in the picture with me modeling the mother daughter aprons, made by Stephanie Perun. Of course, I am playing the mother in this scenario.
I was told by the treasurer, Missy Mcleod that we raised just under $5,000 which was a record amount. Thanks to all in attendance who bid on and bid up items. It is all I good fun when good friends bid against each other. Sadly, I did not win any of the items I bid on, but I did make sure the winners paid a pretty penny for them. Being just the auctioneer and not the hostess makes this the most fun day ever. I hope I get to keep this job for a few more years.
Needlepoint ChristmasPosted: December 7, 2015 Filed under: Uncategorized Leave a comment
Decorating my house for Christmas makes me want to entertain everyday. Of course I would be as big as my house if I did that because I feel like Christmas is the time to eat those naughty things I don’t eat the rest of the year. So I have to limit the number of parties I throw to one a week. Now I just can’t have everyone I love to my house every year. It pains me, but I am not interested in having a parties so large that I don’t get to have any fun.
Today kicked off my holiday entertaining with my favorite thing, a lunch where everyone can fit around one table. I had my multi-generation needlepoint ornament exchange lunch. This is no last minute pot luck. My group of stitching advisors pick names in January that we keep secret all year. Each guest makes a needlepoint Christmas ornament for her special person. It is quite a lot of pressure for me to come up with a project worthy of these superior stitchers.
Since we sit around the stitching table weekly we share all the things that go on in our lives, our families, health, books we are reading, shows we are watching, trips we are taking, recipes we like as well as the one thing that ties us all together, needlepoint we are creating.
I cherish this diverse group of friends who are at different stages and life experiences than I am. One battled cancer this year and I am thrilled is through that, one climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, one moved her mother to a memory care unit, one helped her father through two knee replacements, one is planning her daughter’s wedding, one lost her beloved dog and is in the process of getting a new puppy, one has a third child applying to college. With all that we are dealing with the stitching table is a place of love, advice, bitching, sharing, brain storming, learning and mostly laughter.
This year’s ornaments were a beautiful expression of how much we care for each other. It makes me extra happy that they all also appreciate a good lunch. I promise that I will write up the recipe for the chicken and spinach strudel I made for lunch as tomorrow’s blog. Unfortunately it is not low calorie, but then again this is Christmas party food.
Sixteen Going On SeventeenPosted: December 6, 2015 Filed under: Uncategorized 2 Comments
Seventeen years ago this day was a Sunday. I remember, not because I am one of those savants who can recall every detail of their lives, but this day was so important to me I remember it well. For seventeen years ago, on this day, was the last day Russ and I were just a couple. I was two weeks overdue with our baby and was going to the hospital at six the next morning to have Carter.
Carter’s birth was very eventful. Her heart rate went down three times which prompted the doctor to call for an emergency c-section. I was instructed to get on my hands and knees on the skinny hospital bed while my gown, that opened in the back hung off me and lay on the bed under me. Nurses, who were unconcerned with my naked body, furiously rolled the bed through the halls to the operating room were I rolled off one bed onto the operating table. In five minutes Carter was born, with no apparent heart problem. It set me up for years of accident and injuries that were scary at first, but not that bad in the end from my only child.
So tonight, on the eve of her seventeenth birthday, Carter is out to dinner with a couple of friends. So grown up to want to just go out to dinner. Russ is in Australia and I am home with Shay Shay prepping the cake for the post-dinner celebration. Seventeen seems so old. I guess I can blame the Sound of Music for making me feel like being sixteen going on seventeen is a big deal. No, it’s not eighteen or twenty-one or any of the big legal ages, but seventeen is the only age that has a magazine named after it.
As I flip through Carter’s baby book and relive that first year, it feels like yesterday. Since Carter ended up being an only child I tried to appreciate all the stages. I never minded diapers, or teething, or learning to ride a bike. I could have done without some adolescent time, but really it was fairly short lived. Now her time at home is short. Before we know it she will be grown. Always my baby, no matter how old. Happy Birthday Carter! You changed our lives for the better.
True JoyPosted: December 5, 2015 Filed under: Uncategorized Leave a comment
It is not a secret that I like Christmas. I like decorating, cooking, listening to carols, I also like singing them, but I do that alone in the car so as not to ruin the holiday for others. One of the best things about moving to the south is that more people decorate earlier than we did when I lived in the north. Putting your tree up right after Thanksgiving was a custom I had no problem adopting.
Every year I create one new Christmas decoration. When I say decoration I don’t mean one new ornament on the tree. I am talking about something significant. This year it was a twelve days of Christmas tree that is now on the mantle. The only problem with this annual Christmas addition is that it increases the time it takes to put all the Christmas up.
Today was the day I put the finishing touch on all my decorating by making my front door wreath at my friend Morgan’s wreath making party. Yes, it would be a lot easier to buy a wreath and yes, it would probably look a lot better if I bought one, but since I have been going to Morgan’s for 8 years I just don’t feel like it would be the happiest season if I didn’t make my own wreath.
Morgan generously supplies her guests with ribbons and ornaments of all kinds to add to their creations. Some years back it got out that I was a fairly accomplished bow maker. At first, just my close friends would ask me to fabricate the perfect bow on their homemade wreath. Then guests I was meeting for the first time would ask. Last year my friend Christy and I did not even make wreaths, but instead we stood in the ribbon room and made everyone’s bows.
This year I was a little late for the party because of a basketball game, but I was determined to make my wreath before I went into bow making mode. It was a big square of greenery with a flannel tartan bow. I was late enough that many people were forced to learn to tie their own bows, which were all perfectly gorgeous. I only made about a dozen ribbon creations for other late wreath makers. In the end one of the best creations was a trio of wreaths that spelled out “JOY” with no bows at all.
I came home and hung my wreath on the front door and looked around at all the lights, sparkle and decorations, perfectly satisfied that everything screamed, “Santa, stop here.” But then I thought about the simple “joy” wreaths. That’s all it really takes.
Next year I could just put up a small creche to symbolize the true meaning of the season. I could and if I do please call the police, because that means the real me has been kidnapped and replaced with an understated, sophisticated version of me. For now I’m keeping all the sparkle and shine.
The Dreaded Phone CallPosted: December 4, 2015 Filed under: Uncategorized Leave a comment
We almost made it through Carter’s whole 16th year without a broken bone, major surgery or big injury. Last night with just five days to go until her 17th birthday my cell phone rang half an hour into basketball practice. Seeing Carter’s name and number come up on my screen, my heart sank.
“What’s wrong?” I said as I answered the phone.
A tiny voice, responded, “Hi, Mommy, I’ve got a little concussion.”
Not again! Carter had a collision with her head and another teammate and went down.
Carter passed the phone off to the trainer who explained the situation and asked me and Russ to come pick her up and drive her car home.
When we got to school we found our poor girl with a big egg on her forehead above her eye. No basketball for at least a week with two of the biggest games of the season today and tomorrow. The worst part is the trainer did not even want her to be I. The gym while the game was going on because the noise is not good for her recovery.
Russ has gone off to Australia today so Carter and I are just chilling’ in front of the Christmas tree with Shay watching the door waiting for Russ to come home. We almost made the whole 16th year. Maybe 17 will be Carter’s healthiest year yet.
Where Did You Get That Recipe?Posted: December 3, 2015 Filed under: Uncategorized Leave a comment
Last night I went to the kick off event for the new Junior League of Durham and Orange Counties at the invitation of my friend, Sarah Graham Motsinger one of the three cookbook project leaders. I was there in my official Durham Magazine role to give the cookbook some love in the press, but had a wonderful time talking with new and old friends.
The birth of a cookbook is a long gestation and I think I heard this was a four year project. The work shows in the book, perfectly titled Taste of Tobacco Road. Unlike Junior League of the past this book has many original photos that were shot at Sarah’s mom Sally’s house. But true to league cookbook traditions the book is full of friendly, recognizable favorites of the area like tomato pie and two kinds of pimento cheese. Items any southern cook should know how to make by heart, but a recipe never hurts.
One of my first cookbooks in college was Soupçon (pronounced soup’s on) from the junior league of Chicago. I learned to make coquille St. Jacques from that book, which my friend Hugh Braithwaite used to call “Coke with Sam and Jack”. Of course I was the only person having dinner parties in college were I served scallops. Hell, I was the only person having dinner parties.
Despite it’s somewhat pretentious name for a cookbook, it had lots of helpful hints for a new cook. The best part was the recipes were fairly well tested so I never made anything that was a fail from that book. I think that is one of the tried a true hallmarks of Junior League cookbooks. Those young women never want to be embarrassed by running into someone in the grocery store who made a pound cake from their cookbook that did not rise.
I have not made anything from this book yet since I just got it last night, but from my first quick read I find it to be a well balanced, useful group of recipes that look tasty. The book makes a perfect Christmas gift, especially for those relatives who don’t live here and get to eat in our wonderful restaurants, many of whom contributed recipes for the book. You can order the books directly from the junior league at the cookbook website Taste of Tobacco Road. Congratulations to all the women who worked so hard on this beautiful book. I look forward to cooking from it soon!
I Need Original GiftsPosted: December 2, 2015 Filed under: Uncategorized 1 Comment
Oh no, it’s December already and I am way behind on my Christmas shopping. I hate shopping. Every store all over the country has the same stuff, and I hate stuff. What I wish for in all my gift giving is to come up with something original that totally delights the receiver. Well that is a life’s work to come up with.
Art makes the best gift, but since my mother is an artist that cuts out my giving art to anyone in my family because we all have houses full of Jane Carter originals. Recently my mother brought a bunch of paintings to her gallery in downtown Durham, the Alizarin gallery owned by Cathy Crumpton. As I looked through the small paintings she had dropped off I was thinking, damn, these make great gifts, too bad I can’t give them to my sisters.
This means I am still in search for the perfect gifts, but unless your mother is an artist, you could find just what Santa was looking for at the Alizarin. It is a wonderful place to shop for art. Go visit the second floor gallery at 119 West Main Street Thursday’s through Saturdays. When you go make sure to look at all the Jane Carter’s. Now, where can I shop? Time is running out.
Watching History Being MadePosted: December 1, 2015 Filed under: Uncategorized Leave a comment
I’m fairly certain I have never broken any records, and I am absolutely certain I have never broken any athletic records. So tonight when Liz Roberts was honored at the varsity girls basketball game for breaking the school point scoring record for both men’s and women’s I knew I was witnessing history being made. Actually I had been watching her for years drop shot after shot in the basket, but had no idea she was on the path to break the record.
One might think that someone that good would be a ball hog or might tell you that she was going for the record, but that person would not be Liz. I first watched Liz when Carter played sports with her in middle school. That was when I would sit in the bleachers with her parents Angie and Bennet who could not have been nicer to an amateur spectator like myself. They were as kind to me as Liz is to my daughter, who loves the game, but will not be breaking any records.
At the end of any game when I say to Liz, “good game,” she always looks me in the eye and quietly just says, “thank you.” She never has the swagger someone on the road to make history could have. Her humility is not an affect. Now, I have no idea what goes on in the way of celebrating in the locker room, but outside the close confines of her team, her family or good friends she is just a really nice, hard working young woman who did an extraordinary thing better than my other boy or girl in the 40 some years of the Upper School.
It has been great fun to be a spectator to many of the points that got Liz this record. I know her family is proud, as well they should be. I want to give a shout out to her twin brother Nick, who shows up at almost all her games, even weekend on the road tournaments. I don’t know what their parents did to raise such nice kids, but I wish they would write a book. I, for one, am going to miss them when Liz graduates this year, but before she does she is certainly going to add more points on to that record, which is going to make it hard for anyone to beat.