A momma.

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Cooking and chopping,

smiling and laughing,

boiling and baking,

advising and thinking.

Stirring and watching,

setting and chatting,

basting and slicing,

Perfect every time.

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People who know what they’re doing.

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“Is there anything else that I can get for you in this moment.” Pause, smile, “Enjoy.”  I have been to many restaurants in my day, and quite a few tea houses, but I had never seen a tea room get it so right.  It was a Friday afternoon and we had taken our dear friend out to Tea at the Lowell hotel in Manhattan.  New places on an important day are always a gamble, we have had experiences where the service, tea, and food were far below expectation and redemption teas were to be had.  But this, this was one of the best.

Here, there were buttoned coats with the cursive L on the lapel, hot water for “topping up” with the teas (finally), and evidence of true training – the pouring was perfect, the fingers holding the lid in place mid-pour, the service over the right shoulder – bliss.  It was easy to respect the staff at the Lowell.  The manager of the tea room joined us for a bit and was happy to tell us all about the china and the history of the teas.  You could hear the passion in how voice, that he had studied deeply in this topic and was proud of his position and of his tea room.  Silverware custom made in Canada, first flush Darjeeling (that he thought we just had to taste, and so prepared a sample for us ) and complimentary pink champagne (because apparently we were incredibly charming)!  I was so impressed and honored to have been served by such remarkable service people.

It was so nice to see the glory that is people who know what they’re doing.  Thank you.

the lilacs.

The lilacs

are taking over

the place.

Their scent,

creeping,

reaching,

breathing.

So small,

and innocent,

you don’t see

it coming.

Their power

their influence,

they’re taking over

the place.

Some bruschetta.

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Simple and sweet – this bruschetta is a mix of inspirations from many cooking shows, but remains delicious and crunchy.

You will need:

a baguette (or other favorite rustic bread)

cherry tomatoes (the smaller the better!)

extra virgin olive oil

balsamic vinegar

coarse salt and pepper

What to do:

Preheat your over to 400 and slice bread in 1/2 inch slices on the diagonal.  Lay pieces on a baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil.  Then, pop in the oven for about 6 minutes until toasted – keep an eye on them, depending on the bread and your oven, this could take only a few minutes.  In the meantime, make the tomatoes.  First, cut them in quarters and toss in a bowl.  Add a tablespoon of olive oil and a glug of balsamic vinegar.  Add a hearty pinch of salt and a modest pinch of pepper.  Toss the tomatoes and let them sit.  When the bread comes out of the oven, you have the option of rubbing the pieces with a fresh garlic clove, but I sometimes prefer the simple version.  Serve the pieces aside the bowl of tomatoes and let guests self-serve with a big spoon.  This way, the bread doesn’t get soggy sitting under the tomatoes.

Enjoy!

A telephone chair.

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I stumbled upon this chair online while trying to locate an awesome mod-inspired side table for our living room.  You know how it goes – you click from one thing to the next to the next and you end up finding something awesome that is completely unrelated to what you were originally looking for…

So, I found this chair and think that it is just so freaking great.  I had never seen a chair with a built-in table before, other than the chair/desk do-dads on every college campus in America, oh, and the old-fashioned chair attached to desk contraptions of my youth.  Neither of which are functional or inspire anything in me.  This chair, on the other hand, would be so cute in an entryway, or a small nook of a bedroom.  It could be a cozy reading chair for a children’s room, complete with a stack of books spot!  It is the perfect blue, the perfect amount of Jetsons, and the perfect chair that I’d love to have one day.

It was a pintrest find, that didn’t link to anything other than another blog, and after doing some hard-core google image searching I am sad to report that I was unable to find the origin of this beautiful piece.  I will, however, be on the lookout for one of these “telephone chairs” – because – well, just look at it!

A morning to paint.

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It was a sunny morning as I pulled in the driveway of my friend’s house.  We had decided to have an art morning, where we would drink tea and create.  I had just returned from Paris and was excited to try my hand at water lilies and my friend was excited to have some company during her regular design time.  The sun was pouring in playfully through the window as the tea steeped.  I broke out my brand new watercolor paint set and got right to work trying different flowers and landscapes.  It was so relaxing to just sit and paint, chat and sip, pause and sketch.  I felt like I was 5 again, why don’t I do this more often, I thought to myself.  As I look back on this photo I remember having this great need to capture this amazing moment, where life is good and art is still a part of my life.

Jambon.

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jambon with egg on a croissant

jambon sitting on top of my salad

jambon served aside my coffee

chicken cutlet stuffed with… jambon

ham.

Everywhere we went in Paris, ham was being served.  I was amazed at how many times it managed to appear on our plates without our knowledge.  It became sort of a running joke for us as we romped around Paris, eating pastries and visiting museums.

For the second half of our trip, we visited Versailles for a few days.  And on our third day, we saw Marie Antoinette’s hamlet – a serene collection of cottages, gardens and ponds where she would go to escape the hullabaloo of the palace.  I had known that she, or rather – her staff, had kept animals there, but I was so delighted to see that they still do.  Grazing around the pastures were baby lambs, goats, gentle cows and, yup, you guessed it – JAMBON!  We almost fell to pieces laughing at this discovery, and then spend about 500MB of digital space documenting him with our camera.  Plump and riding low to the ground, we finally found where all the French ham comes from.

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Forgetting.

Do you ever worry about forgetting?

Your favorite moment?

The color of the sky?

His smile?

Do you ever fear forgetfulness,

like you are afraid to close your eyes,

afraid to miss a moment,

of this beautiful life.

Two for tea?

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Why don’t you have a friend over for tea?  It’s not as complicated as it looks.  This is the time to break out your favorite dishes and teacups and to splurge on some golden flatware (I’m still drooling over this find which remind me of Giada’s).  Pick up some flowers from your local market and arrange them in a low vase.  Set the table by a window and use your real fabric-y napkins instead of the paper ones (I mean – we’re trying to class it up… right?)  If you don’t have dishes that make your heart swoon, now might be the time to go there!  I like to mix and match.  My canary yellow teacups and saucers are from Teavanna, small plates from Crate and Barrel (sadly, no longer available), and teapot from Target a million years ago – it literally was on clearance, missing a lid, and is borrowing a sugar bowl’s lid from an antique set given to me by a family member.  You deserve to have nice things, and there’s no reason to wait for life to pass you by before enjoying the satisfaction of eating a lightly dressed salad off of a golden fork.  It’s winning.

Your menu can be as simple as a bowl of fruit, a small simple salad and some bakery bought cookies!  Trust me, you can cut up some fruit, pour some bagged salad into a bowl, dress it and arrange some cookies on a platter.  I know you can do it!  You will enjoy the opportunity to sit down in a quiet house with yummy food, pretty styling and good company.  Tea is something that many of us use to take a beat and de-stress.  And with winter hanging on by its fingertips, I am certainly in need of a pause to reflect and enjoy life.

Golden eggs.

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“You will each find one golden egg,” I envision myself saying to my class and seeing a glow of excitement in front of me.  Beats a traditional lesson, I think!

Making learning engaging is such an important aspect of teaching.  I have recently realized, with the help of some talented teachers, how easy this can be.  I have seen, first hand, teachers handing out Hawaiin leis to morning readers to make it a “party”, a teacher landing out mini animal erasers like it was her JOB to students answering questions correctly and have heard of teachers dancing in the hallway for fully read books. (Okay, in all honesty, all three of those examples are from my literacy professor, Dr. Ferreri, who is an inspiration).  It really doesn’t take much to take what you are already doing and turning it into something unexpected.  I don’t know about you, but have you noticed that bad behavior only arrives when your schedule is too predictable.  They’re bored!  (and you probably are too)

I know, who am I to say.  I’m just some new-ish teacher sitting at her desk late at night eating semi-sweet chocolate morsels by the handful and stuffing words into plastic golden eggs – but I think I’m on to something.

So this week we will go on a word hunt and then race to put a found word into one of the prefix categories that would work.  But I’m thinking that I will be getting MUCH more than my $.25/egg worth out of these babies.  Thank you Oriental Trading! (and Dr. Ferreri!)