Saturday, July 31, 2010

RIP Mr. Swackhamer

My 8th grade science teacher died Wednesday. He was in a car accident 2 weeks ago and in the time since my middle school friends and I have stayed updated on his recovery almost daily through facebook. He was hit by a car in the parking lot of the Madison Giant Eagle grocery store (where pretty much everyone in town shops), was taken to the local hospital, then airlifted to the trauma center, with two broken legs, a broken arm and a serious head injury. Though he was 67, he was in good shape physically (from long hours spent at the Y) and his prognosis seemed good until he had a massive stroke this past Monday. From there it was straight down hill.

Mr. Swackhamer was the kind of teacher who stood out, I think primarily because we had a lot of independence in his class. We worked with partners on lab experiments at our own pace - it some of the only hands-on science we got in school and I loved it. My lab partner, Denise, and I zipped through lots of that workbook that year. He let us make mistakes (seriously, a classmate spilled her Bunsen burner and then lit it... it was quite a big flame on her lab table) and learn from them (I don't think any of us will ever forget that the liquid in the Bunsen burner is flammable.). We all knew he valued education because at Halloween he gave out pencils instead of candy!

He'll be greatly missed. RIP Mr. S.

Madison pedestrian dies from injuries

MADISON TOWNSHIP — The former Madison Middle School teacher who was struck by a car in the Giant Eagle parking lot on July 17 has died, the Cuyahoga County Coroner’s Office confirmed Thursday.

Richard Swackhamer, 67, of Madison village, died Wednesday at the MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland after he suffered serious injuries in a parking-lot crash. The crash occurred when an 80-year-old woman mistook her car’s gas pedal for the brake pedal, sending her Buick LeSabre into Swackhamer, and another car, before the vehicle crashed through the large plate-glass window of the Giant Eagle store and into the entry vestibule, Madison Township police reports show.

Swackhamer, who retired from Madison Middle School, had undergone surgery at the MetroHealth Medical Center, Madison Township Police Lt. Tim Brown said.

Husband to Cheryl Swackhamer and father to Amy and Tyson, Swackhamer was a teacher for 38 years. He was a graduate of Ohio University and West Virginia University, and he coached Madison Middle School basketball and was the president of the Madison Education Association.

Affectionately known as “Swack,” Swackhamer enjoyed camping, reading and traveling and also officiated at local football and basketball games. He was active with Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts.

He was also a local Santa Claus, donning the costume for children’s events.

Swackhamer was a member of the Central Congregational Church and sang with the Johnnycake Ridge Singers and Cleveland East barbershop choruses.

Calling hours are 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday at the Behm Family Funeral Homes and Crematory on River Street in Madison.

Funeral is 2 p.m. Sunday at the Central Congregational Church, on Park Street, in Madison.

Friday, July 30, 2010

It's great being a green winner!

On Monday, I entered a Twitter contest sponsored by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection called Easy As One. I blogged about it, on Monday as well, here in hopes of encouraging my friends to participate too. (Congratulations to Barbara who won on Tuesday!)

The good news is I won! And the better news is that my green prize package arrived today! Check out all the goodies. There's a big reusable shopping bag, a first aid kit (it's red), a 1-day pass to any Florida State Park, a notepad, a combo safety light-compass-whistle (it's orange) and a microfiber cloth.

The shopping bag is huge and has elastic at the top so it'll hold itself closed - nice when you're hauling things around. I stuck a pillow inside to get it to stand up.

Thank you, DEP, and remember to follow Easy As One on Twitter! 

Love Kiva

I love it when my friends "live their values" so I make it a point to support their philanthropy projects -- and this is a really good one. For those of you not familiar with Kiva, they grant small loans around the world to alleviate poverty. My (CWRU Alpha Chi Omega) friend Val is a member of Kiva New York. Val shared that they are holding a 5k race fundraiser and what I really love about it (besides that it's a great cause) is that everyone can participate, no matter where they are. Here's the scoop:

Join us in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, New York for our first ever Run4Kiva 5K on Sunday, August 29th at 10:00am, in collaboration with the Brooklyn Road Runners Club.

This run is open to everyone, no matter your location, or fitness level. All proceeds go to support Kiva entrepreneurs through the non-withdrawable New York Team Fund. Any question – talk to us at

Only $20 to sign up now.
$25 if you sign up as a Virtual Runner

For every non-Kiva lender that signs up, a loan will be made in your honor by one of our lenders, Vin Vajjhala, to the New York team on, supporting more entrepreneurs around the world and empowering them to get out of poverty.

Sign up by August 7th for a free t-shirt. Trophies/medals will be given for top 3 in each age category, so sign up now. Thank you to our current sponsors:, Hint Water, and Utz( Want to be a sponsor? Email us at

Other Details:
Packet Pick up: TBD
How to get there: F train to 15th street or N/R to 19th street and 4th avenue

This great video explains how Kiva works:

A Fistful Of Dollars: The Story of a Loan from Kieran Ball on Vimeo.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

We Love wii Sports Resort

We got wii Sports Resort last Christmas and we're still finding new games and fun things we haven't tried yet. Thomas recently discovered kayaking and loves the practice mode where you find 10 ducklings and deliver them to their mother. He found this great video demonstrating the game - we love it that the guys sit in kayak mode to play the game and how they're all narrating what's going on!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Do you want to be a (green) winner?

Sorry to quote Spongebob there, but my friend Jennifer shared a great contest the DEP is holding this week on Twitter. DEP is the Department of Environmental Protection and the contest is designed to share ways to be green and stay green while you are vacationing.

All the details are posted here. Here are the highlights (oh, but first the prizes!)

The Easy Kit includes lots of green goodies:
 * reusable shopping bag
 * Florida state park day pass
 * microfiber cloth
 * boater whistle
 * first aid kit
 * LED flashlight -or- duffel bag -or- laptop bag

Pretty sweet for just a tweet, huh? :)
(sorry for the goofy rhyme)

"From July 26, 2010 to July 30, 2010 we will post a new blog entry at random times of the day at After the blog has been updated, the first five Easy As One Twitter followers who tweet “Easy As One showed me how to Take It Easy” with a link to our blog and the hashtag #CONTEST01EAO will win an “Easy Kit.” You must be an Easy As One Twitter follower to be eligible.

Tweet Must Include
1. The phrase “Easy As One showed me how to Take It Easy”
2. A link to our blog
3. The hashtag #CONTEST01EAO

Easy peasy! I hope you'll be green and participate!

Funny Beats Hate Every Day

and here's proof!

There is a really mean group of people (they call themselves a church, but really? I'm pretty sure you'd be hard pressed to find a religion that promotes hate the way these folks do). They were touring San Francisco in January, spreading their unique brand of hate, and included in their stops a visit to the Twitter headquarters.

A counter protest ensued and it was fabulous. Read about it on This photo pretty much sums up the dichotomy:
(photo by EdWLynch)

An excerpt: "hate-promoting signs were answered by multiple signs of randomness, nonsensical yelling, and even a unicorn. A portable stereo blared Lady GaGa, while press and people passing by ignored the WBC signs and took pictures and videos of the more entertaining signs."

Thank you to all the protestors who were out spreading laughter instead of hate!

One last picture to share. The haters were scheduled to protest a local performance of Fiddler on the Roof on Thursday evening. The counter protesters had this great Rick Roll:
(photo by sandwichgirl

Once again, funny trumps hate. Thanks Jessica of Struggle Makes You Stronger for sharing this on Twitter, and thank you Twitter for spreading laughter every day!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Happy Birthday Thomas!

Thomas turned 12 yesterday (seriously, where does the time go?) and if he wasn't so camera shy I would share a picture of how big he's getting. By Christmas, he'll probably be as tall as I am - and while I'm not all that tall (5' 2 3/4" haha have to claim that 3/4 of an inch), it is strange to be eye-to-eye with your "baby."

In honor of his birthday, we had Halloween in July - with a ghost inflatable, light up pumpkins and 2 flags out front.

Thomas wanted a signature drink for his birthday (in homage to Guy Fieri, his favorite TV chef, who makes a drink on almost every episode of Guy's Big Bite). 

In keeping with the Halloween theme, it's orange - 1 part peach nectar, 1 part orange juice, 2 parts peach Fresca - and pretty tasty. T's right, a fancy glass makes makes all the drink more festive.

We spent the day doing all Thomas' favorite activities - an early morning cruise, lots of wii, a dip in the pool, and a chapter of Harry Potter (we're reading the first in the series). We had barbecue for lunch and Chinese take out for dinner. T didn't want a birthday cake, so instead he had a birthday ice cream sundae:

He had a good day, and hopefully it's the beginning of a good year for him! 

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Our CWRU AXO mini-reunion

Nikki was so great to have a big group of us over to her house the Sunday night of Alpha Chi Omega Convention. Not only did she host us, but she also fed us, and fed us well - completely on recipes from our alum chapter cookbook!
(We enjoyed Liz L's Infamous Taco Dip (page 43), Spinach Dip, Chicken and White Bean Chili (page 108), Chocolate Cheesecake (page 152) and Maura's Holiday Punch (page 196). YUM!!)

Altogether we had 16 of us there, from Steph who initiated this past spring all the way up to me (I don't feel old, but wow, time flies when you're having fun!)

(Liz, Nikki, Pam, Susan and I - all four of them were the year behind me in school.)

(Pam sporting her Greek Week 1987 shirt, which she still has from her freshman year at CWRU! Maria Perry did the design. She hid an Alpha, a Chi and an Omega on the front so all groups on campus would be wearing our letters!)

(Jen and Lisa)

(Liz, Tracy, Karen and Rachelle)

(collegians - in back, Steph, Caitlin & Erin; in front, Candace & Chelsea)

(All of us together)

(And all of us together "throwing up the AXO sign")

Be The One

The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has been so overwhelming and sad. It's hard to know what to do when a problem seems so big. Thankfully I have friends to help keep me grounded. Thanks Britain for posting about this project today

Be The One is presented by the non-partisan non-political advocacy group Women of the Storm. The campaign seeks to rally the nation through this viral video and demand that anything short of complete restoration of the Gulf of Mexico, its coast lines and America's wetlands is unacceptable.

I hope you'll take a minute to watch the video and sign the petition.

Also, you can follow Be The One on Twitter: and like them on facebook.

Thank you!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

QOTD (thanks B!)

Love this Quote of the Day from B's blog so much I have to share it (and let's face it, it's too long to tweet!).

“The real act of marriage takes place in the heart, not in the ballroom or church or synagogue. It's a choice you make - not just on your wedding day, but over and over again - and that choice is reflected in the way you treat your husband or wife.”                                  Barbara De Angelis

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Kitchen Progress July 2010 Part 2

Oh, excitement today in the kitchen! We had a nice visit from our friends, the electricians, and here are the great projects they completed:

The hood is installed!

I was in such a hurry to take the first picture, I didn't clean up first. Here's a nice shiny picture:

Much less visible, but still important, we have an outlet inside the island - which will make using the cooktop that much easier. No more extension cord for us! (We only needed it when turning the stove on, to make the spark to ignite the gas, so it wasn't in the way all the time.)

And we have a new "charging station" (aka outlet) inside on the back door, on the top shelf of the pantry. I'm already using it to charge my phone!

Not everything went smoothly, though. We discovered the fan casing inside the microwave is cracked, so we need to get a new one. Not a new microwave, just the part. See what I mean? 

It's inside a panel - so we never would have known! Though the electrician said it would rattle. He took it apart to switch the fan around so it would exhaust from the front, since we're mounting it up under the cabinet. 

Great Source of New Music

I have made a concerted effort the last few years to expose myself to music that is new to me, or that I wouldn't typically hear in my daily life. This year I've been kind of slacking, but I do follow a blogger who is posting a song a day for 2010, and wanted to share the blog because the songs lately have been fabulous.

(yes, you can download mixtapes of all the music from each month!)

(My Alpha Chi friends will recognize the blogger as the creator of the AXO Founders' MacDowell Month videos from U of Georgia that are popular on youtube.)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

AXO Convention Recap 2 (Foundation Luncheon)

The Alpha Chi Omega Convention Foundation Luncheon (previewed here) was a wonderful event. The highlight was the guest speaker, author Leslie Morgan Steiner, who shared her personal story of domestic violence. Jennifer brought her copy of Crazy Love and Susan bought one; the author signed them both. This would definitely be the downside of me owning the kindle version!
Crazy Love
I highly recommend it. Steiner is so brave to share her story; she is really changing lives through her courage. It was amazing to hear her speak in person, and to see the impact her story had on everyone in attendance.

There were lots of other highlights to the event:

  • Our CWRU AXO alumnae chapter won the inaugural Domestic Violence Outreach Award! In 2009, for six months we held a #CharityTuesday social media project where each week we shared facts and news about domestic violence awareness via Twitter, facebook and our blog. Read more about it here.
  • Our Alpha Chi Omega chapter at FSU was honored for reaching $50,000 in cumulative giving to Alpha Chi Omega Foundation:

  • and FSU AXO alumna Tracy was featured as a Scholarship recipient via this great table tent:

(See more about both on the FSU AXO blog post on the luncheon here.)

And, as always, all the little details of the event added extra polish. For example, the great cut-out program:

and the beautiful table, complete with a star-shaped candle floating in water in a star-shaped bowl!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Kitchen Progress July 2010

Since we've been traveling, not much has happened in the kitchen but I did want to catch you up on the latest. All the cabinets are in now. The last one went up over the of the fridge and oven while we were in Ohio.

We also now have baseboards installed around almost all of the cabinets. Here is an example:

I'm going to work on getting the electricians and a drywall guy in (to finish up the ceiling and walls) this week so maybe we'll have some more to report soon!

AXO Convention Recaps from Others

While you're waiting for my posts recapping Alpha Chi Omega Convention 2010 here are some others to check out:

Alpha Kappa Does Convention - a real-time report on Convention by the members of Alpha Kappa chapter, University of Oregon. I love that they created a blog just for this purpose! You can also follow their chapter on Twitter:

Simply Southern Girl - my girlfriend Britain posted each day on her blog - see Convention Day 1, Convention Day 2,   Convention Day 2 continuedConvention Day 3, Convention Continued, and Convention Monday Update. Follow B on Twitter:

And there is a nice update this morning from Alpha Nu chapter, University of Missouri on their blog!

Updated 7-21-10:
Alpha Chi Omega Florida State University published a series of Convention posts on their blog on Monday: Beta Eta Receives Awards at Alpha Chi Omega ConventionBeta Eta Honored by Alpha Chi Omega Foundation, and Alpha Chi Omega Vision Award,

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Alpha Chi Omega Convention Recap 1

I have so much to report on Alpha Chi Omega Convention that I hardly know where to begin. I've decided to pace myself and not try to share it all in one post... or even two or three! Over the next few weeks, I plan to post on all my favorite events, and rather than cross-post other items I'm helping write, I'll share links here.

To see the first of these, visit the Mu Tau Mu (Zeta Upsilon, Case Western Reserve, alumnae) blog where you can read about some of the awards we won, a few Convention "firsts" and a bit on our mini-reunion.

Here are some the highlights I'll be telling you about in more detail:

Foundation Luncheon, one of my favorites (previewed here), did not disappoint!

I thought Jennifer and I would behave like groupies at the Award of Achievement Award ceremony and it's true, we did! Jody Olsen (Beta Nu, Utah), former Acting Director of the Peace Corps, gave an inspiring Key Note address, and hearing her fellow Award of Achievement winner (and fellow returned Peace Corp volunteer) Juana Bordas (Gamma Iota, Florida) speak on leadership was a real treat. 
(Our AXO returned Peace Corps volunteers: Jennifer, on right, with Jody, left, and Juana, center)

The Alpha Chi Omega 125th Anniversary Celebration (previewed here) was truly an amazing event. These amazing women
(Alpha Chi Omega historians: former Executive Director, Nancy Leonard; Marketing Director, Janine Grover; and Archivist, Vicky Harrison)

found a box in the Archives with old steel records that they managed to have transferred onto modern media and the results were stunning. We got to hear three of the Alpha Chi Omega Founders speak. I'll tell you more about what they said (and when!) in a separate post.  
The Star Booth (previewed here and here) was a huge success; I'll share the details, and am so grateful that I also have lots of people to thank!

I had such a great time visiting with my CWRU Alpha Chi sisters, and want to share more about the Reunion Night Dinner and the Reunion Night Part 2 we had the following evening.

And there are a whole host of people to thank for organizing and coordinating Convention and making it so amazing and memorable!

There are sure to be more posts in store as well, so stay tuned! 

Friday, July 16, 2010

Figwood at Banyan Tree

One of the fun things I learned at the shower is that "Aunt" Connie's daughter, Sara, designed a line of knitwear for the shop she works at in the Tremont neighborhood of Cleveland. How fun is that? Sara studied fashion design at Kent State, and worked for Anne Klein in New York City before moving back to Cleveland. I wish Mom and I would have had a chance to check it out while we were in town, but I did learn lots more on Banyan Tree and Figwood (via facebook, thanks to the fan pages for the photos) and wanted to share. The line and the store will be featured in Cleveland Magazine in August so stay tuned for more when it hits the newsstand. And a winter line is in the works, too!

Here is the shop - Banyan Tree in Tremont:

And here is Figwood. It was hard to pick just a few photos to share (see the rest here).
Love the colors!

And here's the designer (on left) with a friend and her Mom and Dad, at the Figwood Launch Party.

Like Banyan Tree on facebook here.
Like Figwood too... here.

2242 Professor Ave
Cleveland, Ohio 44113

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Baby Shower Fun

While we were in Ohio, Mom and I attended a baby shower for her god-daughter, Mary. Since Mary lives in Montana, it was a long-distance shower for her Mom, Marge, who was just about to (and has since) become a grandmother. Baby Nate was born July 3rd!

It's not often that you attend a baby shower at which most of the attendees were also at the shower held when the mother of the new baby was born, but this was one of those occasions. It was great to see many of Mom's friends who I've known literally my entire life.

Mom and "Aunt" Connie.

The Grammy-to-be

Ellen, co-hostess of shower, daughter of Mom's friend, Norma, and Ellen's daughter, Lindley.

Beautiful little blankie crocheted by Ellen for the baby;

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Fun Times in the Madison Area - Ferrante

Ferrante is probably the best overall winery in the area. They have a wide variety of wines, great food, good service and a beautiful setting. We had dinner there a week ago Wednesday, after it had rained, so the outdoor patio was closed, but eating inside gives more food options so we were happy.

There were some new options on the wine list this year, so we tried the samplers (one is the drier wines, the other the sweeter ones). We shared the mussels for an appetizer, and they were as good as we remembered... I think their secret is the wine they use to in the broth they steam them in.

We also came home with a case of wine! Give them a visit, you won't regret it. 

5585 State Route 307
Harpersfield, Ohio 44041
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