Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Hope everyone is having a great Halloween weekend! Here are some of our favorite decorations from the neighborhood!
T loves this Frankenstein at the end of our street!
We think this spider is supposed to be Aragog, the giant spider from the Harry Potter books.
This house is a favorite because their inflatables are almost always plugged in. Also they have a Sassy A (the cat).
Part of the display at a house on Dungarvan that has gone all out for Halloween.
More from the house on Dungarvan.
I like the banners above this front door. We could do something like this on our porch.
One of T's favorites.
Our neighbors at the corner of Forsythe do a great job decorating for holidays. The motorcycle ghouls are at the graveyard races.
Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Schotz's Big Bite

Last Saturday, while I was in Dallas, Chris and T made themselves a gourmet feast, based on one of their favorite episodes of Guy's Big Bite from the Food Network. Chris took photos as they worked together; I thought you'd enjoy seeing them.

Killer Inside Out Burger with Worcestershire Ketchup (<--- click to see the episode and recipes)

Worcestershire ketchup ("made from actual tomatoes").
Fillings for the stuffed burgers (onions, bacon and chorizo).
Sweet potato fries.
Burgers (step one).
The benefit of the double oven - sweet potato fries up top; finishing burgers down below.
The final product! So proud of my guys!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Spooktacular Recap

T and I had a great day celebrating Halloween a little early. Here is our photo report:
T thought the man at the top center (near the flag) looked like he was dressed as Professor Quirrell from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.
All the musicians at the concert this morning dressed in costume (see above), and the music was as good as advertised. They played the theme from Disney's Phantasia, two brief classical pieces, then several popular songs - Monster Mash (with a vocalist), Thriller (with the audience providing the vocals), and Ghostbusters (again with BIG audience participation). T was worried they wouldn't play anything from Harry Potter, but TSO did not disappoint, performing a great medley from the films.
"Who you gonna call? GHOSTBUSTERS!" The kids loved singing along.
Abby didn't sit with us for the concert but she did come over to visit with us while we waited for the buses to come pick us up.
Love Lexi's Halloween costume.
After the concert, we went back to school for class Halloween parties. The home room parent for T's class went all out! It was an extravaganza. 
Cheesenstein! A big (delicious!) cheese ball with black olives for hair, mouth, nose and eyebrows; cucumbers for his eyes.
Taco dip scarecrow. Also yummy. 
Worms! Hot dogs cut into strips length-wise. Pretty clever, huh? 
Spooky punch on a darling punch table.
Mummies! Cocktail weiners wrapped in crescent dough, with mustard dots for eyes. The kids loved these!
Macaroni and cheese (with gummy worms garnishing the edges), veggies with dip, and friendship mix completed lunch. For dessert, the kids decorated sugar cookies and dipped fruit and marshmallows into a chocolate fountain! (I mentioned this was an extravaganza, right?) It was a great party and a great day for both of us.

We're looking forward to sharing one more Halloween post on Sunday: pictures of some of our favorite decorations from neighbors' and friends' yards.

Spooktacular (aka Fifth-Grade-Friday)

I'm spending the day today with the fifth grade, first at a field trip to the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra's Spooktacular, and then at T's class's Halloween Party afterward. Doesn't the concert look fun? I'll report back how it goes and share some of the fun from the party. Kim, the room parent, has a ton of great ideas and is bringing her chocolate fountain to school.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Preventing Suicide in the Military

A research project Chris works on was featured yesterday on NPR nationally and our local NPR station, WFSU. Listen to the local report (which mentions him by name)[click --> here]. Read the national article [click --> here]. Listen to yesterday's All Things Considered [click --> here].

Tailgate Recap

Our tailgate for the FSU-Boston College noon game was a big success! (see my preview here) It turns out that hosting a party in the (early) morning doesn't stop people from attending. Who knew? The other good news was that FSU won the game 24-19. 
A big group photo, thanks to Harley!
Sunrise cornhole (thanks Harley for the photo)
The food and drinks area (also thanks to Harley!).
Coach Waesche thanks Chris for agreeing to be the Faculty Advisor to the men's lacrosse team.
Here's what we learned (preparation wise). Bruegger's really came through for us with the coffee, bagels, cream cheese, etc. Thank you to Janeen and her staff at the Carriage Gate store! In items we prepared ourselves, the muffins were a big hit. We could have had more orange juice and less tomato juice. The sparkling wine we used for the mimosas was a hit too - thank you to the great staff at the Market Square location of Market Square Liquors for their recommendation. We're looking forward to next year's tailgate and talking menu already!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Circle of Sisterhood

One more highlight from the NPC 2010 Annual Meeting was the opportunity to learn more about the Circle of Sisterhood Foundation. I had seen their video and "liked" them on facebook but didn't really "get it" until this weekend.

The story begins with the book Half the Sky and its call to help provide education and opportunities to women around the world as a means to protect them from all kinds of oppression. A few sorority alumnae read the book and resolved that together, all sorority alumnae could make a huge difference, and thus the Circle of Sisterhood Foundation was born.

I encourage you to read the book - I downloaded it Sunday evening to my kindle and am losing sleep because I'm having trouble putting it down!
Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide (Vintage) Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide

Like on facebook.
Follow on Twitter. @CofS_Foundation

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Ten Commandments for Chapter Advisors

From Dr. Frances Lucas at her presentation at the NPC 2010 Annual Meeting. Thought provoking.

1. Thou shalt reduce the cost of the sorority experience as much as possible.
     [No one knows when the economy will turn around. Is it necessary to have a big formal (insert your big event here) every semester or even every year?]
2. Thou shalt emphasize the need to pledge non-Caucasian women.
     [Are we doing enough to be inclusive? The world is shrinking; the countries of the world are all interconnected. Our members need experiences that mirror this reality.]
3. Thou shalt understand ageism, especially how the generations are different and how that relates to Millennials (born 1980 and after).
     [We did a great exercise where we discussed with a member of our own generation the positive and negatives of each group (the Great Generation (born before 1946); Baby Boomers (1946-1964); Generation X (1964-1980) and Millenials (1980-present). Dr. Lucas shared our lists with us; good interactive activity!]
4. Thou shalt realize sexism is alive and well and educate members about it.
     [Give them tools to handle the real world.]
5. Thou shalt understand that Millenials will have seven careers over the course of their lifetimes (so life skills are crucial).
6. Thou shalt consider higher education professionals part of your team.
7. Thou shalt get educated about the new norms of sexuality.
     [Norms are much more fluid now than ever; understand that and if you're from another generation, attempt to under-react to the unfamiliar.]
8. Thou shalt listen.
9. Thou shalt role model.
10. (write your own) mine: Don't tell; engage them in conversation.

Monday, October 25, 2010

NPC Interim Meeting 2010 Recap

I arrived safe and sound and on time in Dallas at 4pm on Thursday and made my way to gate E32 to meet my roommate, Courtney. We had coordinated our travel to arrive and depart within fifteen minutes of each other and found that planning ahead that way really helped! We were able to maximize our time together as well as navigate unfamiliar places with a partner.

We took the hotel shuttle from the airport to the hotel with a whole group of other NPC women (6 others were on Courtney's flight from Denver!), checked in, and then headed to a big group dinner. On the way to dinner, we got stuck in the elevator!! When we got on at the 7th floor to head down to the lobby, we joined 3 other women already on board. The elevator zipped all the way down to the bottom and then shot back up to the top, and got stuck between the 8 and 9th floors. None of the buttons worked, so we used the phone inside the elevator to call for help and within 10 minutes we were rescued. Naturally we then took the stairs down to dinner. It was a bonding experience for the five of us though and we ran into each other everywhere we went over the course of the weekend.

All our meals were served buffet style with plenty of options for hot and cold entrees, sides and salads. At dinner we connected with the rest of the AXO delegation and had a great time catching up with everyone.

After dinner, the exhibitors hosted a dessert in the exhibit hall. This was our first chance to meet the vendors who were supporting the meeting. This year was the biggest group ever, with 60 organizations in attendance - everything from t-shirt designers to cities' visitors bureaus/hotel and convention centers to jewelers and insurance companies. After the event, Courtney and I visited the sunflower booth and made our donations. For each $5 contribution to the NPC Foundation, you can honor a friend with a sunflower sticker to wear on her name badge.

With business taken care of, Courtney and I then mapped out our day on Friday by walking around the three levels of conference space so we would know where our meetings were all being held.

Since this was Courtney's and my first time attending an NPC event, we were invited to the Newcomers' Welcome Reception, hosted by the NPC Executive Committee. We made some new friends, had a glass of wine, and were really impressed by how gracious and welcoming everyone on the EC was. It was also nice to know we weren't the only new ones! We ended the evening by heading to bed so we'd be ready for a long day of meetings on Friday.

After a quick (but large) breakfast, the first General Session started at 8:30am. Here are a few pictures of the room and the seating arrangements.
At the front of the room, the Executive Committee sat on a raised platform.
Each of the Delegates sat at a U-shaped table that completed the other 3 sides of a square (with the head table at the top).
Each delegation had 4 chairs behind the delegate, for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd alternates and the National or International President. It reminded me of playing train; when we were kids we would line up the kitchen chairs one behind the other and pretend to be on a train. There was additional seating for the Executive Directors, editors, other staff and guests. 

Saturday began with a welcome, the pledge of allegiance and then we sang the US and Canadian national anthems. Each delegation was introduced and then the delegate introduced any guests from her sorority who were in the room. Among our Alpha Chi guests were two collegians from Texas Christian University, Brooke and Ryan.
Most of our delegation with the Iota Lambda collegians.
 The legislation that we would discuss and vote on Saturday was presented, and then Ginny Carroll gave a really inspiring talk on the Gift of Sorority. Ginny is funny and smart; I enjoyed her message. 

The Alumnae Panhellenics Committee meeting held that morning was interesting and productive. At lunch, we pulled numbers from a bag to get table assignments, which I thought was a really clever idea for mixing us up and helping us meet new people. We had time to visit the exhibitors again after lunch which was great because we only met a couple on Thursday evening. It was wonderful to meet Meghan and Jessica from Phired Up in person. I follow them on twitter and love the message of social excellence that they promote. Many of the vendors were giving out great gifts and prizes and though I didn't win, it was fun to enter! 2 ipads, 4 kindles, a tiffany bracelet and a host of other goodies went home with lucky winners.

The Educational Development Committee meeting that followed seemed really short but we covered a lot of ground and had some good collegial discussion. I really enjoyed meeting our committee chair, Mary Jane, who is an FSU alumna. Go Noles!

After dinner, we convened for a second General Session, which was a Town Hall Meeting where we openly discussed some of the issues our groups (and groups like us) face on campuses today. Before bed, we visited with some friends and had a little Alpha Chi bonding time.

Saturday began with breakfast at 6:30am but because the snacks and coffee service during all our meetings had been plentiful, we arrived just a few minutes before the 8am event, which was a great Media Training session with Kyle Niederpruem and Glen Welling of Kyle Communications. We practiced writing sound bites (some of which Glen filmed on the spot). It was very informative and hands-on.  

Strategic planning break out sessions followed, which were also interactive and gave me a chance to meet a whole new group of people. Lunch followed by a short break in our room refueled us for the afternoon. Our afternoon speaker, Dr. Frances Lucas, was wonderful! She is vice president and campus executive officer of the University of Southern Mississippi's Gulf Coast Operations. She made us all laugh and think. I look forward to sharing her 10 Commandments for Chapter Advisors in an upcoming post.

After a fairly brief joint Alumnae Panhellenics - Collegiate Panhellenics Committee meeting, and a short break (during which we watched a little football), we had dinner and then our final General Session where legislation was discussed, amended, and voted on. There were only a few items on the table, and none of them were controversial. Once the official releases are made, I'll share the content of the legislation with you. At the end of the meeting, we honored women who are stepping down from their delegations, including our own Julie Burkhard. It was a teary moment; Julie will be greatly missed by her many friends and colleagues. 

A reception followed, then some downtime before we headed to our room to pack and prepare for a day of Alpha Chi training and bonding on Sunday. 

My favorite parts of the weekend were the chances to meet and become friends with so many impressive women from the around the nation and the Panhellenic world; the really amazing speakers; the chance to spend quality time with my Alpha Chi sisters; and the opportunity to see the "big" Panhellenic in action.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

NPC Interim Meeting 2010 Preview

This morning I fly to Dallas for the National Panhellenic Conference Interim Meeting. It's being held at the Hilton DFW Lakes Executive Conference Center, which is just a few miles from DFW airport (very convenient). While we're there we'll have lots of meetings... in fact that's pretty much how we'll spend all our time - in meetings! The hotel looks beautiful, though, and has lots of cool amenities like horseback riding. Sunday we have an all-day Alpha Chi meeting at the chapter house at Southern Methodist University, and then it's back to DFW and home again.

The committee meetings I'll be attending are the Alumnae Panhellenics Committee (I'm Area Advisor to the Alumnae Panhellenics in North Carolina and South Carolina) and the Educational Development Committee (which is Friday at 2:45pm). I'm thinking the whole trip will be a bit of a whirlwind but hope to be tweeting some photos as we go along!

I hope we have a meeting in this room! Love the windows!
Alpha Chi at SMU. Looking forward to visiting on Sunday!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Kitchen Progress in the Last Week

Surprise! There was good progress in the kitchen this week! The hood's installed, and we have shelves in five cabinets.
Another view of the hood.
Shelves on far side of kitchen.
Close up of shelf (yay a place for cookbooks).
Center section of cabinets on far side.
Right side of cabinets on far side.
Cabinet to the left of the wine and beer fridge in the baking area also has a shelf.
 Stay tuned, we're hoping for more progress soon!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Breakfast Tailgating

FSU hosts Boston College today at noon, so we'll be out tailgating early this morning! Here's what's on the menu:

Bagels, cream cheese, coffee,
Bagel sandwiches, fruit salad, mimosas

Ina's Bloody Marys

3 large stalks celery from the heart, including leaves, plus extra for serving
36 ounces tomato juice (recommended: Sacramento)
2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
1 teaspoon grated yellow onion
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
12 dashes hot sauce (recommended: Tabasco), or to taste
1 1/2 cups vodka

Cut the celery in large dice, including the leaves, and puree in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Process until finely minced. In a large pitcher, combine the rest of the ingredients except the vodka. With the food processor running, pour 1/4 of the tomato juice mixture into the food processor through the feed tube. Then pour the contents of the food processor into the pitcher with the remaining tomato juice mixture. Add the vodka and chill. Serve in tall glasses over ice with a stick of celery.

Makes 6 drinks.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup peanut butter
1 egg
1 ¼ cup milk
¾ cup chocolate chips

In a large bowl, combine peanut butter, egg and milk until smooth. I find a whisk works best.

In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt and baking powder) and mix well.

Dump dry ingredients into wet mixture and blend just until moistened. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Pour batter into muffin tins lined with muffin paper cups. Bake at 350 about 15 minutes, until top springs back when touched.

Makes 18-24 muffins.
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