Thursday, February 28, 2008

Dream Restaurant

A friend's blog recently invited readers to come up with a dream restaurant/lounge/cafe. What a fun exercise! I thouroughly enjoyed dreaming up my tea room. However, knowing how hard restaurant owners work, I have no desire to go into the restaurant business for real. That said, here's my fantasy. Now if only someone else would open this place, and I could just enjoying going there as a patron.

My "restaurant" would be a tea shop called "Lady Gray's Tea Room." It would have hardwood floors, rich drapes, comfortable booths, and also smaller tables in cozy nooks. The primary colors would be white and cranberry with accent pieces in silver. We would have elegant white china with a silver pattern, and there would be lots of silver serving trays and three tier cake stands. During the day we would serve high tea (with all the attendant goodies), light lunches, and even a few coffee beverages. Then, after 5pm, we would switch over to cocktails and light dinner items.

Our signature drinks would be the Sour Cherry Sidecar, Sage G & T, and the Peach Passion. The dinner menu would consist entirely of small plates, and one person might try three or four different things. Examples include: superb seasonal soups, creative salads, cheese trays, quiches, marinated veggie trays, small sandwich assortments, and a selection of light pasta dishes. The rent would have to be fairly low since we would want people to linger over our selection of decadent desserts. These would include the superlative lemon bar, seasonal fruit pies, molten chocolate cake, toffee almond bread pudding, and candied orange brownies.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

2 Tiny Dresses and 1 Big Gown

During last week's mid-winter break, my friend K and I screwed up our courage and took FOUR little kids to a bridal salon. There was nothing for it, we had to choose flower girl dresses, and there was no easy way to do this without taking the flower girls and their siblings. Fortunately, these are four exceptional children, and the whole outing was a big success. There was much admiring of tulle, satin ribbons, sequins, and lace, and Small Niece was especially enamored of the available fashion choices. I did have to step in and assert some control over the process when it looked like she might ask for an all-white rose and sequin encrusted dress with spaghetti straps. Fortunately, she was quite willing to be swayed. We now have two absolutely adorable little pink and white dresses for two absolutely adorable little pink flower girls.

In addition to flower girls, we were also able to have K try on the bride's maid gown. Unfortunately, she had to try it on in brilliant Barbie pink which is really not a color I would associate with any of the maids. However, the fit of the gown looked absolutely beautiful on her. All three ladies have such nice figures that I may have to put pass out burlap sacks at the rehearsal dinner (just kidding!). Now that all three have ordered the gown, there is another thing I can tick off the "to-do" list. I can't wait to see the three of them all dressed up and ready to go.

At the same time, I was able to pick up my own gown from the alterations department. K bravely held on to all four children while I went back to try on the gown, and the reception I received upon coming out from behind the curtain was quite satisfying. I must say, even I (the self-critical one) thought I looked pretty darn nice. It was such a lucky thing that K was there because someone had to learn how to bustle and un-bustle me for the transition from ceremony to reception. I still need a few bits and pieces (shoes, hair decorations, did I mention shoes?), but it feels great to have the finished, fitted dress hanging in the closet at home. We are coming closer and closer to the point where I feel we have the essentials for the wedding. After that, anything else is just gravy.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Bicycle Birthday

On a regular Monday, I get to work just before 7am, teach two classes in the morning, prepare for the next day during my prep, teach three classes during the afternoon, and usually attend at least one meeting. Generally the students and I are a bit slow and sleepy from our weekend, but we get through and the week is off and running. Mondays are not usually my favorite days, but they are not terrible or depressing either. However, this Monday, was quite a bit different from normal. Thank goodness for Presidents.

Small Niece turned seven (seven!) about a week ago, and she decided to have a bike riding birthday to celebrate. Now many seventh birthday parties probably involve bikes, but that usually means a few turns around the local park. This was a SERIOUS bicycle birthday, and we estimate that about twenty miles were ridden. It was a wonderful sunny day, and we had a marvelous time.

We started out at my brother's house and spent some time arranging everyone on their bikes. There were two tandems, one bike with half bike on the back, and one mini-bike for the mini-grandma to ride. All in all, we made quite a picture going down the road. Our first stop was Gasworks Park where we met up with a few friends (and some people also took the opportunity to run up and down the hills). The next trip took us to a cupcake shop in Wallingford. We each got to choose our own flavors and a special topper for each little cake. M got a really horrifying bride and groom with badly mis-painted faces.

The last leg of our journey took us through the Olympic Sculpture Park. Now I am not a huge fan of the sculpture choices they made for that park (I think I am an art Luddite), but it does have two fantastic features (aside from the eraser of course). Any park that takes you along the water and gives you such an incredible view of the mountains has to be good. Finally, we made our way to The Old Spaghetti Factory. This was the perfect dinner destination for a huge group of hungry bike riders. We wolfed our food before heading back out to do the last bike stretch home. It was a wonderful day, but my posterior has still not returned to normal. Hats off to my brother and to my friends C and R who have the guts to do this kind of thing on a daily basis. Also, happy birthday once more to Small Niece!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Inappropriate Humor

Sometimes people find my blog through the most unlikely search queries. For example, this week someone searched for "monkey butt heart valentine" and ended up with me. It seems that, unable to find a complete match, Google pointed to an archived post in which I referred to our fair president as "a monkey's butt." I'm sure that's not quite what the searcher had in mind. Coincidently enough, I recently ran across a great example of "monkey butt heart valentine" on LOL cats. I thought it was both amazing and funny, but then again 7th graders have completely robbed me of any remaining shreds of decency or decorum.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day 2008

How about a little Dickenson on a day like today:

It's all I have to bring today
By Emily Dickenson

It's all I have to bring today –
This, and my heart beside –
This, and my heart, and all the fields
–And all the meadows wide
–Be sure you count
– should I forget
Some one the sum could tell
–This, and my heart, and all the Bees
Which in the Clover dwell.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Caucus Excitement

This is a very busy day, so I'll have to make this quick. Perhaps I will have the chance to write a longer entry later.

I certainly must say "thank you" to my friend T who got me started on a very exciting adventure. It was T who invited me to attend a caucus training session with her, and it was the training session that made me volunteer to run our local precinct caucus when the regular officer was called away. It was serving as the PCO at the actual caucus that gave me the courage to "run" for a delegate seat, and it was who-knows-what that got me elected! That's right, I get to be a delegate to the local and county conventions! As you might expect, I am quite excited to see how this whole things works. I am one delegate for Clinton!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

No End In Sight

Super Tuesday has come and gone. In years past this event sealed the primary season, and the de facto winners could switch over to bashing each other instead of members of their own party. However, we seem to have come to a new era in American politics where nothing is clear or simple. Once again we've had a contest where the results were too close to make any kind of significant change to the situation.

Super Tuesday may be over, but the election still has yet to be decided in the later date states. Now this is great if you happen to live in a frequently ignored place (Washington), but it is still frustrating to have the population/party so very divided. It would be nice (yeah yeah wishes/horses I know) if we could have one stellar candidate who wows most people and wins an easy primary victory. I suppose there is a small measure of satisfaction to be found in the fact that the other side is having the very same problem.

I find myself wondering why we are such a divided country, (on both left and right) and what made us so much more decisive in previous times. Perhaps there is less willingness to simply vote for a party pick. Perhaps people have become more decidedly one-issue voters (whatever the issue may be). Perhaps more diverse segments of society are voting than ever before, and they have vastly different agendas. Or perhaps it's the effect of reality television. I say this only partly in jest. Maybe so many people are now programmed to love the underdog they actually switch their vote when they see one candidate or the other coming out on top. I really, really hope it isn't that last one. Nevertheless, record numbers of voters ARE coming out to the polls, and that has to be a good thing for the democratic process. Now if we could just make up our collective minds (he he) then the real election process could start in earnest.

Monday, February 04, 2008

First Grade Homework

Small Niece is now half way through first grade at a very good school in Seattle. She loves her school, loves her teacher, and even claims to love homework. There is much debate about the value of homework in the younger grades, but those who do assign it claim that it prepares kids for later. I can completely understand this logic, but I was still amused to read Small Niece's great big weekend homework assignment:

1. Reading: Read or have someone read to you for at least 30 minutes (this one was the most serious, and I have to commend her teacher for requiring it)

2. Math: Mrs. Smith buys an orange for 60 cents. Think of two ways she could pay for it using different coins

.60 =

.60 =

(Here Small Niece had written ".60 = 167 corters" and ".60 = 57 dollrs." I asked her how she'd come to these answers, and she said her older sister had been helping her. After threatening smirking Big Niece within dire consequences, Small Niece and I worked out some better answers.)

3. Science: Tell an adult one thing you learned about Australia last week (At this point she turned to me and said "I learned that aborabinginamals were the first people in Australia.")

4. Writing: Keep a journal, and write at least two sentences each day. (This one was no problem, and in just a moment she had written "I lick candy. I want candy." She was confused when I asked her to add more)

Admittedly, none of this homework was a huge challenge for Small Niece. Part of that is due to her extreme brilliance, and another part is that desire by the teacher to keep things really manageable for everyone. I'm just happy that she actually looks forward to Monday mornings. May that stay with her as long as possible.