Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Family Dinner Time

Note: I was originally going to include this in tomorrow's TILT post, but then it developed into something else entirely...

 ^That is not actually my family

My family is extremely close.  As far back as I can remember, my whole family would gather at the table for dinner every single night.  Sharing a meal together is just a little ritual that has strengthened the bond over the years. Naturally, that has changed as my siblings and I have grown up and gone away to college, but we've always managed to come together for a meal when we can. This summer however, my father's job takes him out of town every week, my brother works into the evening, and my sister and I are in and out so it has been sporadic. I'm fairly certain that tonight will be the last time we will have that opportunity for a very long time. It's hard to think of life without teasing Mom for forgetting to put the napkins on the table, or listening to Dad's story of some funny thing that happened at work, or dropping peas in Spencer's milk when he's not looking.

In an age when you can be sitting in the same room with four other family members and all be on your own laptop*, maintaining personal relationships has become less valued.  It is easy enough to lose touch with your friends from high school, never mind your own family members. I Facebook, tweet, and text just as much as the next 20-something in the modern world but none of it means as much as having a laugh with my sister over a serving of sweet potato casserole.  The closeness of a family dinner forces you to put aside all your books, technology, and TPS reports and focus on each other.

Some of the most important moments/conversations in my family have happened at the dinner table.  I can't tell you how many times my Dad has put down his knife and fork and said "Kids, we need to talk", which is Dad-code for "Pack your things, we're moving".** And then we hash it out right there. Get out all the emotions, figure out the logistics, whine/complain/laugh/cry/squirt milk out of your nose*** and then clear the table.

Whoever you are reading this, I hope you gather your family for a meal as often as you can. You don't have to be June and Ward Cleaver but you're never going to get to know each other until you break bread together. Enjoy the comfort of home cooking and each other's company. Unless it's barbecued pork chops.  If that's the case, all bets are off.

^Also not my family

*true story not in any way based on my family. at all.
** ok I can tell you. Six. That is how many times we've had that conversation.
***definitely a true story. Didn't think it was anatomically possible but Eva proved it was. Lesson learned: don't start laughing hysterically with a mouthful of milk.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Things I Love Thursday - Virginia Edition

This week finds me in Virginia, a lovely conundrum of a state. Far enough north to contain all the attributes of the fast-paced, close-quartered East Coast lifestyle, yet mountainous, sweltering, and howdy-if-you-please enough to be considered a part of the rambling South. 

  1. Richmond - My uncle lives just a jot away from the streamlined bureaucratic nation’s capitol, and yet two hours south is Richmond, a pleasing kaleidoscope of accents and cultures in a big sweating glass of iced tea. Last summer I came with the express purpose of doing research for my thesis. I spent the entire day absorbed in the culture of the Civil War: Monument Avenue, the Museum of the Confederacy, meeting people and feeling the pride that comes from living in a city steeped in the legacy of the Confederacy.  This summer my visit was for leisure and I saw no traces of the proud Southern Son.  This Richmond was a modern city, revamping its image (as cities are wont to do) but retaining that delightful mishmash of culture. New apartment complexes rising up in what used to be bad neighborhoods, acres once containing a stately Southern manor now containing a public park. Tiny vintage shops, pricey boutiques, an Italian restaurant named Greek House, and a homemade skate park in an abandoned lot.  The city is distinctly Southern and at the same time, ubiquitously American.
  2. Blue Ridge Mountains - I have never seen a landscape so aptly named. Here in Northern Virginia, all you have to do is look up in any direction and your eyes are filled with the imposing varied stance of the mountains. True to form, they are varying shades of blue, no matter the time of day or the season. While it makes driving interesting (and not for the weak-stomached), the Ridges make for a backdrop I never get tired of seeing. Not to mention the climbing! No one who knows me would ever call me athletic but I love the hiking here. Nothing is quite so rewarding as the view from the top after the enormous physical and mental challenge of getting there. For me at least. Can’t say the same for the rest of my family who are all apparently half mountain goat.
  3. Bygones Vintage Clothing - Cutest vintage shop I have ever been in. Located on West Cary Street in Richmond, this store has everything from old shoes to costume jewelry to antique pillboxes. Of course with vintage comes a hefty price tag, so all I walked out of there with were some replica post cards. It was a hipster’s dream.
  4. Gram and Grampie - Nothing sweeter than a few hands of Phase 10 with my dear grandmother. Nothing quite so endearing as watching Grampie weed the garden in rainboots, a straw hat, and those old lady sideblinder sunglasses. I hold tight to these fleeting moments.
Short List
  • The sound of Uncle David’s harmonica on top of the mountain
  • Jumping on the trampoline with my sister like we did when we were children
  • Looking at the craters of the moon through a telescope
  • Air conditioning (Virginia, you are too too too hot)
  • The sea foam colored roof on Uncle David’s house
  • The tree swing
  • Having one of those deeply ponderous talks about life and faith with cousin Wendy
I’m currently on vacation visiting family and yet I still find the time to give my dear readers their weekly dose of all things lovely. I’m such a giver, the Internet can hardly contain it.  I am typing this into Word as we speak because the bandwidth has literally melted under the weight of my munificence.  But seriously, if you’re reading this on Friday, it’s not for lack of trying. The connection from my uncle’s hilltop abode is rather spotty.  Pictures to be added later.
Hopefully this week finds you mellow and appreciative. Stay out of the heat.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Things I Love Friday

I'm not even going to pretend that it's still Thursday. This week, these are the little things that make me smile.

  •  The Great Wave by Ukiyo-e (see above)
  • The way my desk looks when it's clean
  • An empty Perrier bottle full of fresh flowers
  • The toile-patterned wallpaper in my parents' bathroom
  • Eating ridiculously expensive Gouda cheese on Triscuits
  • The toothless grin of my seven year old brother
 (Photo from Eva)
  • Spoofs on the BP logo, like the one in my previous post (Beyond Petroleum? How about Being the Problem!)
  • Learning how to build a budget
  • This seafoam teapot
  • Getting health insurance. Nothing says "Congratulations on Graduating" like your parents' insurance company cutting you off. But thanks to Dad, Anthem Blue Cross, and Chrissy my agent, I am no longer a sad statistic.
  • Finding a wedding dress and by wedding dress I mean the dress I will be wearing to any and all weddings I will be attending this summer.  Sit back down, people. I'm not getting married.  Guess I could have worded that better... 
  • Caprese Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
  • Seeing the Glee cast perform live in Chicago for a late birthday present from Eva. Epic day, epic show. You're the best, Eva Beth!
  • Nice, France
  • Fresh watermelon
  • Vintage Samsonite suitcases

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Dear World

As my post on Facebook helpful hints was so well received, I’m back with more tips and tricks for the world at large. Nothing quite boosts your ego like people quoting your own blog posts back to you! There’s not really a theme for this one, but these are just a few things I’ve noticed in the sagacity that comes from being 22 years old.  I’ve laid these out in short, letter to the editor format. These are addressed to specific people but I think we can all learn valuable lessons:

Dear Pool Moms,

I know he is the apple of your eye, but now would be a good time to tell your son to stop blasting my brother in the face with his triple-barreled Super Soaker Jetstream AK47 water gun.


Dear Pool Grandmas,

It is undeniably impressive that plastic surgery, fake tanning, and what has got to be an unhealthy amount of hair bleach have been able to preserve your body in that near teenage-like state.  Unfortunately, perhaps a string bikini was not the best choice of swimwear.  Please, for the sake of all of us who have eyes, wear a one piece. Think of the children.

Dear Recently Graduated and Moved Back Home Neighbor Kid,

If anyone understands you, it’s me. We are in the same boat, pal. Unfortunately, I no longer feel the need to keep college hours. This means I would rather be sleeping at 1:30 a.m. than listen to you lurk under my window, shouting into the phone for an hour. I applaud your consideration of your parents’ sleep schedule. But in the future, please apply that same courtesy to me.

Much Obliged,
Dear Woman in the Frozen Food Isle,

Let’s be honest. We both know you just passed gas. Instead of exclaiming loudly at the poor quality of the wheels on your shopping cart, own up to it. That kind of self-confidence will carry you far in life.


Dear BP and Transocean,

At this point, I don't really care who started it. Put down your lawyers and plug the hole.  You're destroying a fragile ecosystem, many people's livelihoods, and my favorite vacation spot. 

Dear Phone Store Employee,

I have the upmost respect for you in your customer service job. But I must admit, my patience is a little thin as I am trying to pry apart the service contract that I apparently lack sufficient government security clearance to understand. Please stop calling me Eely Carloose.  That’s just bad manners.


Dear Princeton Alum,

Don’t you dare make fun of me and my tshirt-wearing friends enjoying our over-priced ice cream on your old campus. We are not the ones wearing a jacket that looks like what Elton John wore on the cover of his Caribou album.  Judge not lest ye be judged, thankyouverymuch.

Enough said,
Dear Mercedes SL-Class Owner Passing Me on I-69,

Yes, you have a hot car. Do not take this as an acknowledgement of the frat boy head nod you gave me when you saw me look. I would merely like to point out that your gas cap door is open.


 Whew! Sharing all that wisdom leaves me feeling quite refreshed. I could go on all night but you have learned enough for now. Hope one of these nuggets of truth has inspired you. Sleep well, little grasshoppers. You’ve earned it.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Things I Love Thursday

You thought I'd forgotten. Well I didn't. Yes, it is 11:38 pm on Thursday and I am just starting a TILT post but that's how it usually goes.

Since it's been awhile, there are many things I love today so I'll try to keep this to a bullet point fashion. But I'm not making any promises.

(1) ICED TEA. No, not that swill that comes powdered in a can, although that can be quite thirst-quenching. I mean, boiling 2 quarts of water, steeping 4-6 tea bags and then serving chilled, the whole nine yards. My brilliant friend Jillian came up with the following delicious concoction: 2 sachets Tazo Passion Fruit and 2 sachets Earl Grey in the same pitcher, with a little less than 1/3 cup of sugar.  You can change the proportion of tea bags to your liking but it is like a English garden party in your mouth. Delicate fruit and a pop of lavender.  Jilly darling, I bow before your greatness.

Clearly, I'm not cut out for this bullet point stuff...

(2) Mug cake. Just type those words into Google and BAM, you're five minutes away from chocolatey bliss. Yet another Jillian find. Perhaps I should just devote this post to her culinary talents...

(3) Stevie Wonder's cover of "We Can Work It Out". You can give it a listen here. I am a Beatles purist. I don't like covers of their songs. Call me a snob but no one seems to do them justice. Until now.  Then again, I adore Stevie Wonder. He could probably cover Lady Gaga and I'd like it. Ok, let's not get out of hand.

(4) Being home - Clearly I loved college and all the freedom and empowerment that entailed. But let's be real. I love nothing better than a fully-stocked fridge, doing my laundry for free, not wearing flip flops in the shower, and sitting on the deck in shorts drinking iced tea and silently judging the golfers that drive by.*

(5) The library - During the school year, between studying and research, it was my second home.  But that's not why I love it.  For the last nine months,  I can count on one finger the number of books I got to read for pleasure.  But it's summer now and I can dive headfirst into a stack of literature piled waist-deep. If there are two things I love in life, they are books and things that are free. The library is a beautiful marriage of these two. Books recently in my library stack:
  • Stealing Lincoln's Body by Thomas J. Craughwell
  • The Elements of Cooking by Michael Ruhlman
  • K2: Life and Death on the World's Most Dangerous Mountain by Ed Viesturs
  • Tom Bedlam by George Hagen
  • Frommer's Switzerland
(6) Bath and Body Works sales - When these cats have a sale, they REALLY  have a sale.  None of this "Spend $100, get $10 off!" business. We're talking 50% off, buy 2 get 1 free, $4 hand lotions. I spent a shocking amount of money in their store recently but I made out like a bandit. I have enough creams, candles, and soaps to keep me and the 50-ft area around me smelling delightful for a good long while.** Current favorite scents:
  • Dancing Waters
  • Black Raspberry Vanilla 
  • Eucalyptus Spearmint
  • Irresistible Apple
(7) New Hope, PA - A really adorable burg on the border of NJ and PA. Cute shops filled with useless things and delicious smelling restaurants nestled on the Delaware River, all wrapped up in the charm of an East Coast small town. Also the perfect spot for the European bookstore/bakery/cafe/papery I will open someday.  In that alternate version of reality where I am a self-starter with gobs of money, have a head for business, and there's an economy where dreams don't go to die.

There is so much more, but for the sake of you kids and your short attention spans, I'm going to tie it off here. Still much to tell you.

Hope you had a lovely Thursday. It is still totally Thursday in California so this counts.

*My parents live on a golf course. Our back yard is directly in view of one of the holes. Yes sometimes golf balls hit the deck. I can't decide if it's more fun to throw them back or to hide them and then yell at the golfers for walking on our lawn when they come looking.  In case you can't tell, golfers will not make it on any TILT posts.
**To any B&BW reps, I am open to sponsorship.  I will continue to shamelessly plug your products, should you choose to shower me with money. Or more hand cream.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

I'm Back!

 It's been a ridiculously long time since I've updated. I have so many things to tell you.
And I promise I will get to these things! 

For now, here is a video of an extraordinary dance number to one of my all time favorite songs.  I harbor a secret passion for modern dance.  I'm not talking about the garbage you see in today's music videos, I'm talking about the well-dressed, well-executed numbers that tell a story and express emotion.  Done in this manner, it can be a very beautiful display of the human form. 

That said, if you don't like modern dance, this post is a waste of your time.  But I'd advise you to check it out all the same. You just might like it.

The fact that they do this to an orchestral version of "Yellow" is just astounding.

I'll write again soon.

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