Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Winos Do Wine Country: Day 2

The sun rises on Jimtown Cottage. Next door, a rooster crows. (Seriously.) And we are all tucked in our snuggly, warm beds, while visions of zinfandels danced in our head.

No, wait. Scratch that. We were all lying awake staring at the clock since about 4 am, still on East Coast time.

By 6 am, we had all gathered in the living room, lamenting over the lack of coffee and decided to pile into our mini-van for a Starbucks/Grocery store run. With a little advanced planning (and some crazy Excel spreadsheets), we divided and conquered the grocery store. Groceries for 3 dinners, 3 breakfast and snacks for 5 girls? Purchased in less than an hour, for about $45/person. Amazing.

With our provisions secured, we headed back to the house to wait our driver with a warm-up glass of wine on the porch.

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(Also, we were really pleased with the driving services, but I’ll save my review for that on yelp. However, if you’re going to Sonoma look up Terrific Tours.)

Pam and I had researched the vineyards (Excel, again) and had narrowed down a list of 70 recommendations into approximately 12 vineyards . We turned the list over to our driver who made some tweaks according to their experiences and connections. I was totally pleased with the choices they came up with, even though it changed about half of the places we had researched.

The day was nothing short of magical. Standing shoulder to shoulder at bars that ranged from beautiful, polished oak overlooking lush green rolling vineyards and palatial Italian terraces to old wooden plank bars in a farmhouse to wine glasses held directly under a spout in a barrel. We visited seven vineyards today: Ferrari-Carano, Sbraglia Family, Preston, Bella, J. Rankin, Pedroncelli, and Coppola.

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My favorite thing about vineyards in Sonoma was how tucked away they all were. Without GPS or an experienced driver I’m not sure we would have found half of them. One of my favorites was Preston, which was a beautiful farm house and an organic farm. Here we sat outside (despite the cold) and ate our Oakville Grocery sandwiches accompanied by purring, friendly cats.

4 1 10 Wine Country 112 Preston Farms Vineyard

4 1 10 Wine Country 121 Um, scoos me, what u pack me for lunch?

Another favorite, J. Rankin was basically a shed with a wildly hilarious pourer and a beautiful dog named Shelby who recognized five dog lovers and literally threw herself at our feet. The vintner is a current ICU nurse, who makes wine in his “free time.” I loved the places were making wine was more about the passion than the pennies.

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Around 3:30, we left J Rankin and our driver asked us if we wanted to make one more stop. Most of our visits had been about 45 minutes, so I’m sure he figured he had plenty of time for us to make one more stop. We agreed (of course) and he pulled up to Francis Ford Coppola. As a downpour began, he pulled us up to the door and we slipped inside to safety. This was the most crowded place we had been to, which is not surprising given it’s a little more well-known. We had to wait for a seat, which is apparently more than standard for normal in-season, but we had been spoiled by visiting places that were practically empty when we arrived.

Our pourer started off with the 5 wines on the tasting menu. We struck up a conversation with a couple next to us, and when they stood up to vacate their seats they waved us into their spot. In the midst of our conversing with the fellow patrons, we had lost the attention of our pourer. But at this point, we had become more interested in each other than the wine being poured. Once back in the hot seat, we turned our focus back to the task at hand.

“Have you all tried this one?” the pourer asked. I looked at the bottle, and didn’t recognize it. “No?”

“Well the couple who was sitting here wanted you to try it.” He poured me a glass, and it was one of the most delicious wines I had had all day. I couldn’t find the bottle on the tasting menu, until I finally found it on the list of wines for sale as one of the pricier selections. WELL. Good to know that there is a difference between the seventy dollar bottle and the twenty dollar bottle. Our enthusiasm won him over, and he came back with wine after wine for us to try as the tasting room emptied out.

All of a sudden the door flung open, allowing light to pour forth into the dark tasting room and our driver anxiously peered inside. "I just wanted to make sure you guys were still in here!" Once we got back to the car, we understood his worry – 2 hours has passed during our free-for-all of tasting!

The rest of the ride home we laughed and giggled and compared notes about our favorites. (My faves: Ferrari-Carano Fume Blanc and Coppola Sofia Blanc de Blanc.) Our driver dropped us off, and carried our armloads of souvenirs inside. We prepped dinner (spinach dip by Pam, steak and couscous salad by Jess) and rehashed the day. After dinner we attempted to watch American Idol, but it wasn’t long before our heavy eyelids won over. One by one we drifted off to bed, eager to repeat the day’s events again tomorrow.

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Souvenirs.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Winos Do Wine Country: Day 1 (Tuesday)

I can’t believe here we are FINALLY here! And not just because we left Raleigh 15 hours ago “finally here” but because we’ve been planning this trip for a mere 5 years “finally” here.

Highlights of traveling across the country with your best friends? You can fall asleep on your seatmates shoulder with your mouth wide open, drool on yourself, and wake up without that awkward “my bad” moment. They also set aside you peanuts while you’re sleeping. And watch your bags so you don’t have to try and do the suitcase into stall, twirl around, suitcase back against the door, where does my purse go now?, dance in the bathroom stall that you have to do when you’re solo.

Also: memo to RDU TSA. I’m a little worried that the fact that we put a Tupperware of flour and of sugar through your x-ray machines and nary an eyebrow was raised. I mean, I would have felt a little safer had you at least asked us what that white powdery substance was.

Anyways, we landed in San Fran and the southeast winos awaited the arrival of our northeast representation, Pam. Much hugging, screaming and public jumping up and down ensued.

We went to pick up our rental car – which was supposed to be an Impala, to the delight of Emily, but with a little wink-wink the Hertz lady hooked us up with a mini-van for no extra charge. Not gonna lie, we were all pretty psyched about that guy. Even the aforementioned Chevy dealer appreciated the extra cargo space. (By the way, it kinda drives like a dream. Rethinking my “Will Never Drive a Mini-Van” pledge.)

4 1 10 Wine Country 039 Sweet, sweet ride.

4 1 10 Wine Country 009 Everywhere you look…

Through San Fran, across the Golden Gate Bridge (cue many rounds of the Full House theme song and varoius qutes… “Haaave mercy” and “Hoooow Rude), and then an hour north to Sonoma County. I’ve never been to California, and I know the topography is varied but I’d like to go on record to say Northern California? Gorgeous. I have a crush on you, Northern Cali, with all your green rolling hills, and Happy Cows munching grass, and oh yea, your vineyards. As soon as we got about 15 minutes outside of San Fran, the vineyards were everywhere. We passed Kendall Jackson, which made us a little nostalgic. KJ was the wine of choice on our every Wednesday night date to Filling Station our senior year, such that by spring semester we’d arrive to FS to find a table for six with 2 chilled bottles of KJ waiting for us.

winos now and later.jpg The Winos: Now & Then (2004, 2009)

(Top pic: Jess, Pam, Shelby, Emily, Jenny, Megs)

The highlight of 2005 was returning to homecoming, going to Filling Station and having a waiter holler across to us “It’s the KJ girls!”

Fame’s kinda nice, ya’ll.

Wednesday night dinners (or “Winesday night” as we called them) were really my first introduction to wine, and we all started off with Chardonnay. Our tastes have changed so much, I’m not sure any of us are regular Chard drinkers anymore but KJ still takes us back to our roots. (A little wino history for you there.)

Pam had found our house, “Jimtown Cottage,” on one of those vacation rental by owners page and we didn’t know much about it except that it was red and out in the country.

These were both accurate, but the pictures online didn’t do it justice. (Pretty much the reverse of all our Post Exam experiences where picture online shows in-ground pool… you arrive to find hole in the backyard with blue tarp and a garden hose nearby…) We gasped, and squealed, threw our bags down and basically acted out Real World Sonoma County choosing rooms.

4 1 10 Wine Country 034 Jimtown Cottage. Adorable, I know.

I’ve never been in a rental home this lovely. Must be visitors to Sonoma County are slightly more considerate of their surroundings than those who patron Ocean Ave, Myrtle Beach, SC? Just a hunch.

4 1 10 Wine Country 164 I want this to be my Wine Country Souvenir. How can we make that happen?

At this point, although it was 5:00 West Coast time, our tummies were growling so we headed to downtown Healdsburg for dinner. We went to a restaurant’s called Willi’s which was small plates style. We ordered seven small plates for the five of us, and a bottle and a half of wine. I forgot to take my camera out in the restaurant, or here’s where I would be posting totally self-indulgent pictures of some really incredible food. You’re disappointed, I know. (Don’t worry… I made up for it at every other meal.) We also tried the wine from the vineyard across the street from our cottage, Stonestreet Wines Chardonnay. (Right, I know, I told you we don’t really drink Chards anymore… well, I lied. Get over it.) I also talked the girls (who are mostly Red drinkers) into trying one of my fave types of wine, a Gew├╝rztraminer. (Winos, when you read this, do any of you remember what vineyard that was?) We bought a half bottle of that and it disappeared instantly. They hated it, clearly. Gertzies are usually very crisp and clear, and go perfect with spicy food… so the Thai calamari plus Gertzie was a perfect combo.

Oh, I’m sorry. I thought this was my food blog for a second. Woops.

We wrapped up our delicious meal at Willi’s and headed back home to get some rest for our big day of vineyards to come. Still on East Coast time, we were lights out by 9, sleeping with the excited anticipation of a little kid on Christmas Eve. That kinda happy.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Dash

Last Sunday, Jamie and I had plans to go peruse the new shops along Burke St – Gusto and Re-Tale.  However, our plans were a diverted when we got there and realized both were closed on Sundays.  Girl Scouts that we are, neither of us thought to look online or call ahead for hours.  We scrapped our shopping plans, and decided instead to go chill at BrewNerds and catch up over some coffee.

As we zig-zagged our way from Burke St over to Fourth St, a little thought popped into my head: I love this city.

I’m surprised to say this, but I think I’ve fallen in love with Winston.  I was not very excited to leave DC in 2006 to move down here and had there not been a handsome, funny and lovely medical student residing here, it’s safe to say I would not have relocated to the Dash.  I didn’t have the fondest memories of the city from time at WFU, but then again I rarely left the “Bubble” except the rare venture to Daytona’s (now gone) and Burke St.  Not exactly Winston’s finest.

And, in my defense, many of the things that I love today about Winston didn’t exist, or are even still “in the works.”  I adore 6th and Vine and Noma – both of which are new additions since I’ve moved back here.  I’m excited about a/perture, and Barnhills (wine + bookstore, opening soon on Burke St) and the gorgeous baseball stadium that will have opening day in just a few weeks.  I love that tonight’s agenda includes a for-charity fashion show (at Level 23), a Prosecco tasting (at Cafe Pradda) and boutique shopping (at Gusto and Re-tale).  Excuse me, fashion shows and Prosecco?  This isn’t the Burke St Pizza and Rose’s Deli Winston I remember from college.

(Although, to be fair, I still love Rose’s.  Give me those seasoned fries and a chicken fajita wrap on a sunny Saturday morning on the deck anytime.) 

I love the small-town feel in a city with, arguably, many things that bit cities have – arts, sports, awesome restaurants.  (My only major complaint: incredibly poor cab services and bus services.  Leaves no choice but to pick a DD every weekend, and often means we’re more likely to convene at a friends’ house than try to coordinate multiple cars going downtown.)  

I love that after 8 years of driving and running here, I finally get how downtown, West End and Ardmore all connect.

I love the white office that’s been restored on the corner of Reynolda and Northwest Blvd.

I love the Krankies airstream coffee place, Reynolda Farm Market and Mostly Local Market.  I love that the slow food movement is gaining speed in Winston. 

I love the plans for The Olio.

I love that half the people I follow on Twitter are local Winston-Salem businesses – and when I mention that I’m visiting them, they respond like a good friend would.  I love that Southern hospitality can be found anywhere you look.

_MG_0982I love that every time I drive by Corpening Plaza I remember pulling up there in a big limo and seeing a huge white tent, my smiling groom and all my favorite people in front of the waterfall backdrop.  I love that we decided to get married in “our” town.

I love that the gorgeous modern looking ISP building is diagonally across the street from my creaky floor, exposed pipes ceiling yoga studio.

I love that where tobacco once thrived, now vineyards flourish.

I love that I live “out in the country” but it still only takes me 25 minutes to get downtown – with bad traffic.

I love running through Buena Vista, and seeing the variety of architectural styles, time periods and new construction built to look like old.  I love that it has sidewalks, and big trees, and dogs being walked every hour of the day.

I love coming back from the Greensboro airport on business 40, and seeing the most infamous building of the Winston-Salem skyline.  It’s always at that moment I think “I’m home.”

It’s a good place to call home.

 

(Photo by Ryan Bumgarner, my wedding photog.)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Hobbies

I am having fun.

In the last year, I think I’ve rediscovered just about every hobby I left behind in 4th grade. My favorite things to do as a kid: read and write stories, sew and take pictures. I don’t know when I stopped doing most of these things, but it was probably sometime around middle school or high school. (Enter: homework, internet, driver’s license, etc.) Throughout college and grad school, most of my free time was taken up with schoolwork and part-time jobs, and of course, hanging out with friends. Just a few months after I finished grad school, I started coaching training and diverted my free time to getting my business off the ground. I think I have forgotten what it was like to do things just for fun.

It’s a bit like being 12 again, to get lost behind a camera lens, in the whirring of a sewing needle, or watching my thoughts become strung together in a cohesive story as I type.

After our crafts night and spending an obscene amount of time perusing sewing blogs, I felt inspired to revisit my sewing machine. I’ve had that machine since middle school, but in the last 8 years, I think the only thing I’ve actually sewn is a set of curtains that Buddy tore down.

I didn’t really know exactly what I was going to do, but I had some inspiration from Lex’s blog. Matt and I had these bright blue matching t-shirts, the kind you buy at a crafts store, from playing on an softball team last year. I knew we weren’t going to wear them again, so I just started cutting his up and making ruffles out of the scraps. Eventually, I got brave enough to cut the neckline on my t-shirt into a v-neck and re-hem it, and then started laying the ruffles out on it and sewing them down. I was shocked to see it come together – I confess, I love it. Beginner’s luck?

Anyways, here’s the end result. By the way, it’s really hard to take a self-portrait without feeling like a giant goober, so forgive me.

I can’t wait to go home and tear apart something else in my goodwill pile.

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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Equinox

Today is, officially, the first day of spring. Thankfully, Mother Nature happily obliged. The sun is shining, the grass is green, the sky is blue and the construction hammers in my neighborhood are going double-time. I feel like doing something crazy to welcome spring. Maybe I’ll pack up my turtlenecks!

Yesterday I was walking through Wake Forest’s quad to take something to the post office. It’s a weird thing, to walk around my old campus. I still expectantly look around, as if at any minute I might see a familiar face – a roommate, a sorority sister, a classmate. The people are strangers to me now (and look absurdly young, I might mention) but the scene was exactly the same as any First Sunny Friday I could recall: people spilling out of the balconies in Poteat, Frisbees being tossed on the quad, girls in big sunglasses, jean skirts and sorority jerseys laying on blankets with the false premise of trying to do some reading. For a moment it made me nostalgic – I longed to go back to a place and time when most all of my favorite people lived within a 1-mile radius and our worries centered around crafting the perfect Away Message, but as I headed on to my lovely home, my eager puppy dog and my handsome hubby my sense of contentment with this time and place returned, and all that remained was a grateful feeling for the experiences and where they have taken me.

We had some friends over last night for the first official cookout of the warm weather season. I love so many things about this time of year, but one of my favorites is group cookouts. We had our friends Anne + Locke and Kate + Charlie over, after Matt and Locke finished up an afternoon on the nearby links. It felt so luxurious to be able to sit outside on the deck with just a light cardigan on, enjoying good food, wine and company. I will refrain from discussing the ensuing Catchphrase games, but suffice it to say, the girls will redeem themselves next time.

Speaking of gratitude, I didn’t get my Thankful Thursday posts up two weeks in a row… and it’s not because I’m not thankful! I called my sister, the English teacher, to ask her if she could come up with any synonyms for thankful that started with S so I could do a spin-off for Saturday. Nothing we came up with seemed to have the right ring to it.

Here’s what we had come up with: Satisfied Saturday. Serene Saturday. Sincere Saturday. Sagacious Saturday. Surreptitious Saturday. (Which does not mean thankful by any stretch of the imagination, but I liked the way it rolled off my tongue and I tried to convince her that Saturday was usurping Thursday's role, and therefore the name fit.) Serendipitous Saturday. Seriously So Blessed Saturday. (I really lobbied hard for that one, but since Katie didn’t get the reference, I figured most others wouldn’t either.)

We couldn’t come up with anything. Anyone have a good suggestion? (Suggestive Saturday? Hmmm.)

Regardless, I am thankful, it is Saturday and here is a list. Enjoy.

  • The sun, the warm weather, the just-in-time arrival of Spring.
  • The arrival into this world of sweet Madelyn Jane, and the health of her momma Katie
  • Finalized plans for Winocation – my trip to Wine Country with my college girlfriends. Less than 2 weeks til departure!
  • Waking up to no alarm today
  • My hard-working hubby, who not only had to wake up to an alarm, but had to go to work after said alarm went off. Boo.
  • My Aunt Jennifer, who is celebrating a birthday today. She deserves to have a day as beautiful and lovely as she is.
  • The opportunity to do a public speaking gig this week to a phenomenal group of people
  • Heather and her HTML capabilities and her excitement and willingness to try and figure out my blog-puzzle
  • Running. I have missed it, and it feels good to be back doing something I love.
  • And on that note, health. 3 months now. Countdown restarted, and I intend to break my 3 year record this time.
  • OH and on that note, my doctor. He called me to follow up on a question I had left his nurse, and took a good ten minutes to talk to me about some questions I had, and even sent me some abstracts that have yet to be published. Anyone who thinks the health care system is broken should remember that a system can be broken, but the people within the system can do a pretty good job at holding the pieces together. (I include my hubby in this – I think going to work in an emergency room every day is the epitome of seeing the broken system, but he just puts his head down and works hard to do what he’s there to do.)
  • And on the note of the research abstracts… Jess! I am so thankful for her great experiences in her career, her recently published journal article that I totally did not understand the topic of but I am proud of anyways, passing her comp exams AND her plans for post-doc stuff. Watch out world, this girl is going to be doing big stuff in cancer research. Go Nurse Jessie K!
  • My Aunt B’s new blog which is about 75% food/organics/health and 25% musings and observations, and makes me adore her even more than I already do. Go ahead and read it: http://www.swymathecove.com/
  • Randomly catching “Only Want to Be With You” (by Hootie) on the radio on my way home from work yesterday. That song instantly transports me back to dating Matt, to one of my favorite dates – a Hootie/BTE concert in Raleigh, and to our wedding day. It’s the song that always reminds me of what an awesome and wonderful thing it is to love and be loved.
  • Target’s wine selection. Surprised to find it is pretty darn good.
  • A coaching session I had on Friday – it never fails that anytime I coach this one woman (which is about once a month), I learn from her more than I think she learns from me. Or at the very least, it’s mutual. I swear the things that come out of my mouth when I’m coaching her are exactly the things I need to be remembering or paying attention to myself. God’s timing is perfect, ya’ll.
  • Blueberry crumb bars from Smitten Kitchen. Butter, sugar, berries. Yum. (Thanks, Heath!)
  • My mom and her always available, never bored of me, listening ears.
  • My Buddy boy. He had a good week. Won’t say more or I’ll jinx it.
  • That I could probably keep on typing this list the rest of the afternoon, but a homemade frappe and some book editing on the book porch await me instead.

And I will leave you with this, my usual gratuitous doggy pic, and the hopes that Spring has found you where ever you may be reading this from.

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Pitiful is the new cute.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Crafty

Last night I had a bunch of my girl friends over for a craft night. I credit my long-held love of crafting to my mom, who kept me and my sister happily entertained with a glue gun, some fabric scraps and a whole bag of sequins and buttons. I remember walking around Jo-Ann Fabric with my mom to pick out fabric for our Halloween costumes, and being enthralled with the rows and rows of different bolts of fabrics and the endless possibilities for their uses. My forays into crafts have been varied in their success and duration. There was even a brief phrase in high school where I was making my own clothes. I’ll ask my mom to kindly burn any photographic evidence of the famous blue fleece pants. (My sister, who back then was a cooler-than-thou Abercrombie wearing, best lunch table sitting 7th grader, still shudders at this memory.)

All that being said, my love for and intentions to complete most projects are often greater than my actual follow through and my success. Despite that, I’ve kept a folder of various magazine tear outs and have been bookmarking blogs for years of things I want to get my hands messy with, and just waited for “the right time” to do them.

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You’re inspired aren’t you? Admit it. Fabric will do that to you.

I’ve often thought knitting on a metro commute, or losing track of the hours with nothing more than a glue stick and a foam board made me a little bit, well, frumpy. Uncool. Older than my years. A good friend of mine in college was keen on saying I was “a 30-year-old trapped in a 22-year-old body” and he was right. (Umm, back then, 30 sounded really old.) So it was with a little bit of hesitation that I sent an email to a handful of girl friends inviting them over for a night of glue guns, fabric and learning our way around pinking shears.

I made sure to mention there would be wine.

I was delighted to find that my crafty streak was shared by many of my friends, although it shouldn’t totally surprise me. Many of the girls I have become close to here in Winston, in my “married person life”, share my love of creating things and nurturing our nests – cooking, blogging, photography, getting disproportionately excited about Pottery Barn sale items… you get the idea. Seems we are still in the 30somethings at heart, but now our bodies are catching up.

Our craft night was so much fun, and other ideas were tossed around for future projects and activities. I find, with as many bookmarked ideas as I have accumulated over the last ten years or so, that I rarely take the time for myself to do these kinds of things that are fun and relaxing to me, but completely “unproductive.” When it comes down to it, a typical Thursday night with Matt at work I probably would have spent catching up on the laundry or filing the bills or making a grocery list. To carve out the time and invite other people held me accountable to the completion of a project, not just the intention, and was a great way to spend time with some of my favorite people.

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Oh, in case you’re wondering, we made fabric covered Easter eggs. I got the idea from it from this blog. It was super simple and I wanted to start off with a project that didn’t involve any sewing or anything intimidating. It took an egg or two before we each got our wrapping methods down, and there were some glue-gun burnt fingers along the way (hope you are recovering, Anne!) but all in all, it was a great success.

More crafts to come? I hope so.

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Back Where I Come From

Growing up, my mom always made corned beef & cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day. I guess I’ve never asked, but I’m assuming she started doing it for my Dad, whose father is Irish. (Although, from what I’ve heard about my Grandma Swales, my mom’s mom, boiling everything in one big pot would have been right up her alley when it comes to cooking!)

This was my first time attempting to cook it myself, and I was pretty pleased with the results. (I actually made this on Sunday, but it seems appropriate to post it today.) Then again, you basically just continually add things to boiling water: meat first, then potatoes, then cabbage. Making the sauce involves stirring and microwaving. It’s pretty much a no-fail, and it goes a long way. Definitely can see why my Grandma Claffey (my Dad’s mom) would have been a fan of this, since she was tasked with the challenge of cooking for nine every night!

I could hear her voice while I was cooking, with one of her most famous quotes:

“If potatoes weren’t so common, they would be a delicacy!”

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I guess this should go on my cooking blog, but then again, it’s not the healthiest meal I’ve ever made, so between you and me, let's just agree to leave it here.

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Did I mention soda bread? Mmmm, soda bread. We’ve been eating this for almost a week now.

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I love being Irish. Growing up in the North I experienced a big focus on “where your family comes from.” Maybe it’s because the northern states were “melting pots” much more than the South, but I’ve not come across this same fascination with the place of origin in the South. Here, when you ask someone where they are from, they are likely to tell you which county their relatives have lived in for the last 100 years! That kind of longevity of place is a bit of a novel concept for most Northerners.

In 3rd grade, we had to make cut out paper dolls to represent our family's country of origin. I specifically remember using an excessive amount of red yarn for hair, and plenty of freckles. In 4th grade, we had to interview an older relative about their relatives - during this project I learned my great aunt was supposed to come over to America on the Titanic but fortuitously fell ill and couldn't make the departure! In 5th grade, we had Immigration Day in elementary school. We had to dress up from whatever country our ancestors had come from, and if I recall right, there was a pretend Ellis Island type experience and a swearing-in assembly. Oh, us melting pot of Western European suburban kids!

I was very conflicted as to whether to represent my Swedish ancestors (Mom’s side) or my Irish ancestors (Dad’s side.) In the end, I choose Swedish for one simple reason: I was blonde.

Other than our somewhat odd fascination with immigration projects from 3rd grade to 5th grade, I haven’t dabbled much in my family’s roots. My brother spent sometime in college tracing my Dad’s line back to Ireland, and my mother’s father has a great record of his family dating back to England. The first time I learned that my Grandma Swales (Mom’s side) had descended from Swedish missionaries who had lived in Venezuela was at her funeral!

As I grow older, I find myself being tugged back towards my roots. I know very little about my family beyond my grandparents – which is the complete opposite of my “100 years in one county” husband who can tell tales of a great-great uncle who was a physician who traveled on horseback throughout Lincoln County and a great-great grandfather who was a pilot. It wasn’t until about a year ago, when putting together a family tree in my wedding scrapbook, that I learned that my sister’s name – Kathryn – was my great-grandmother’s name.

I know that, strangely enough, this is some of my reason for blogging. Ever since learning my great-grandmother’s name, I’ve wondered who she was. At 27, what was she doing? What did she think? My mom has recently found and shared some writing from my Grandma (her Mom) and there’s something that seems magical about hearing the voice of the people who came before you. Especially, in the case of my Grandma, hearing her voice as a wife and a mother, before she played the only role I knew her as – grandmother. I blog for myself, to shake the voices and stories out of my head, to supplement my not-so-trusty memory, but also to put my voice out there for my someday children or their children to read and know who I was, before I play the only roles they will know me in. Isn’t that the fascinating thing about people? We play so many roles in our lives, yet we generally only know each other in one or two of them.

Maybe it’s the process of beginning to start a new branch of a family tree – getting married, the joining together of two families – that makes the desire to know more about where you come from grow stronger. Maybe it’s totally random. What do you think? Do you know much about your family line? Have you ever been curious to know more? Where would you start, if you wanted to know?

Who knew a blog on boiled cabbage was going to end up being a soliloquy on immortalizing my own voice? I think I forgot to mention another reason I blog: it turns out I can, and will, talk about anything I want.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, from a 25% 5th-Generation Proud to Be Irish Woman. Although, you should know, that’s just one of my roles.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Spring Has… Hinted At Its Probable Existence

My original title was “Spring Has Sprung”... but I'm not entirely sure that is true yet. There’s such a general consensus of relief, gratitude and giddiness pervading everyone today as we’re all enjoying wearing sunglasses and short sleeves for the last four days. It’s practically palpable. I hear rumors it’s not going to stay, but I’m putting my fingers in my ear and shouting LA LA LA LA at anyone who tries to tell me such lies. I’ve lived in North Carolina for eight years and this is by far the longest, coldest, grayest winter I can remember. It’s like Rochester or something….

“You’re from New York! You should be used to this!”

There’s a reason I used to go tanning in high school (I know, I know) and it wasn’t just because all-white cheerleading uniforms require a golden glow to look half-way decent. There’s a reason why I wear 3 pairs of pants to walk the dog, like to sit directly in front of the fireplace and own a Snuggie. There’s a reason I applied to college in the South all those years ago, and why I’ve joined everyone else on the complain train this last snowy spell. I love being warm.

So, the sun has shown herself for the last four days and it is glorious. This afternoon, my coworker/friend Lauren and I went for our training-to-train run (yes, I took so much time off from running this winter, that I am now training to get myself ready to train… pitiful). The sun was shining, the air had a touch of humidity and we were actually sweating. It was awesome. It was Springtime. It makes me start thinking of planning cookouts, wearing flip flops and going for long, quiet runs. Spring is hopeful.

Please, please, please, stay, Sun. At least for the next 10 months or so?

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Monday, March 8, 2010

Restored

Oh, weekend.  You could not have gotten here any sooner.  I usually don’t feel that way… my weeks often go by so fast, the Friday afternoon almost catches me off guard.  This was one of those weeks that somewhere around Tuesday I was like a lil kid sitting in my front window just waiting for Friday to show up.  Just one of those weeks.

The weekend ended up being just the perfect blend of social time, me time and house-restoring time.  (And when I say restoring, I do not mean Bob Villa style… I mean restoring order, calmness, sanity and the throw pillows that somehow always seem to end up bunched in one corner of the couch.)

Friday night we had a very casual dinner at La Carreta with Zac + Jamie, and Matt + Donna.  I don’t think I’ve been there since college… but it hadn’t changed a bit.  Same wait staff, same cheap pitchers of margaritas, same never ending chip basket.  After dinner, we went downtown and Donna + I accompanied Jamie on a walk around the art district to complete her night photography assignment.  The boys busied themselves with the drafts at 6th & Vine.  I had taken my camera card out to upload the day before, and for the 2nd time that week, had forgotten to put it back in.  So I’m waiting on you, J-boo, to live vicariously through the awesome night pics you took! 

Saturday was the first hint of our long overdue Spring, and I’m pretty sure all of Winston found a way to be outside.  Matt finally got to crack open the golf bag, and I took Buddy on a long run after getting the house put back to order.  It seems like no matter what we do, sometime around Wednesday or Thursday our house starts to look a little bit like a tornado passed through, dropping Vera Bradleys and junk mail and pocket-sized medical references in every corner.  Thank goodness for Saturdays, and the chance to put it all back together.  (Literally.  My house and my self.)

Saturday night we got together with a bunch of the other Emergency Medicine interns and their wives for a wine and cheese party.  The premise was simple: bring a wine and a cheese to share and sample, but the outcome was superb.  (I think there’s few comestibles I love more than wine and cheese, so I’m fairly easy to please.)  Our hostess, Kim, went out of her way to make some other tapas, including an asparagus-prosciutto combination that Matt and I were still talking about 24 hours later and a fiery Spanish tomato dip called Romesco.  Imagine my envy when Kim described a 2-week cooking experience in Spain she and her mother had attended.  Oh my sweet heavens.  Who wants to send me?  I regret that I didn’t get my camera out, because the food was simply gorgeous.  (It tasted amazing, too, which I suppose is equally as important to non-food bloggers.)  I still feel a little hesitant to whip my camera out and start photographing food in places other than my own kitchen. 

Sunday we headed down to visit with Matt’s family and celebrate the March birthdays, including my mother’s-in-law tomorrow.  Matt’s aunt was in charge of the cooking, which was as delicious, abundant and Southern as any family gathering could hope for.   I consider myself very fortunate to have married into a family that is as loving, welcoming and accepting as the one I was born into.  I know this isn’t always the case, and any time I listen to a girlfriend tell a “mother-in-law” story, I send a little thanks up to my lucky stars for giving me such a wonderful second family. 

Matt’s family lives about 90 minutes west of us, but it doesn’t take 10 minutes of being on the highway before I am sound asleep, every time.  There is something about good food, warm homes and cozy conversations that knocks me out every time. 

It doesn’t take much to put me back together after one of those weeks: a clean home, some yummy food, and time well spent with friends and family.  It’s my very ctrl + alt + delete button that gets me ready for another Monday. 

3 7 10 Road Trip 007 May Appear Closer Than They Are

Monday, March 1, 2010

March

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Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. - Isaiah 60:1

Sunrise, March 1st, 2010