Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Brunch at Avenue Eat & Drink

We've been to Avenue several times (and blogged about our first visit here) but until Saturday, I had not been to their Saturday Brunch before.

Not many Tallahassee restaurants offer brunch on Saturday, it's mostly a Sunday thing, except at places that specialize in breakfast to begin with. So having this option for a Saturday is great!

Everything BUT the Kitchen Sink plus a Jumbo Brown Gulf Shrimp Cocktail
This was wonderful as it was served with a ton of veggies including a cucumber slice, a homemade spicy dill pickle, a pimento-stuffed olive, a super spicy pepperoncini and a stalk of celery.

 Bill's pancakes and bacon
Sweetened crème and candied walnuts and served with Applewood smoked bacon

 John's BLT with sweet potato chips
[Fresh Bibb lettuce, sliced tomato, smoked bacon and avocado on Ciabatta bread with basil mayo]

Jessica's Pound Cake French Toast
Topped with seasonal fruit compote and served with Applewood smoked bacon

I had an omelet with sausage, caramelized onions, white cheddar and tomato. It came with potatoes and was delish. How did I miss taking its photo? [Don't answer that!]

We still love the mission of Avenue and hope Tallahassee does too: 
To create a loyal customer base interested in the finest food and beverage experience in an unpretentious but elegant environment. To change moments into memories through our unique and cutting edge approach to eating and drinking. To have the best service, servers and culinary team that will allow Avenue Eat and Drink to distance itself from the average and uninspired. To expand our horizons by pursuing our passion for the pairing and service of fine foods and beverages. Avenue Eat and Drink features a Southern Fusion menu with influences from FL, SC, LA and GA. Our goal is to source locally and create a menu that is primarily organic and green.
Avenue Eat & Drink
115 East Park Avenue
Tallahassee, Florida

Monday, July 30, 2012

Inspired by Convention: Changing the Conversation Requires Real Strong Voices

Welcome to the second post in the "Inspired by Alpha Chi Omega Convention" series. Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing stories of how Convention inspired us.

Ever since I learned we would be screening Miss Representation at Convention, I had been looking forward to seeing the film and hearing one of the professors featured in the film speak. I was not prepared for how moving sharing this experience with sisters would be.

Monday morning, Dr. Caroline Heldman, Associate Professor and Chair of the Politics Department at Occidental College, delivered a keynote titled "Time to Represent the Real Me." In a thoroughly academic and completely engaging way, she taught us about sexual objectification in the media and how it reduces our power as women.
"If objectification is the process of representing or treating a person like an object, then sexual objectification is the process of representing or treating a person like a sex object, one that serves another’s sexual pleasure." (source)
The first step is identifying the problem. Dr. Heldman shared her Sex Object Test: if you answer yes to any of 7 questions (see the full list with examples here), there is sexual objectification present.

The second step is knowing how damaging exposure to these images can be to women and girls.
"women who grow up in a culture with widespread sexual objectification tend to view themselves as objects of desire for others. This internalized sexual objectification has been linked to problems with mental health (e.g., clinical depression, “habitual body monitoring”), eating disordersbody shame, self-worth and life satisfaction, cognitive functioning, motor functioning, sexual dysfunction, access to leadership, and political efficacy. Women of all ethnicities internalize objectification, as do men to a far lesser extent." (source)
Dr. Heldman went through each item on the list, defined it for us, and for a few, shared examples from research. [Note each one on the list is a link you can follow to learn more.] The item that really hit home for me was political efficacy and realizing how fixated the media is on the appearance of women in general and political candidates especially. Seeing the way respected news organizations talked about Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin during the 2008 election was eye-opening.

Being able now to identify the issue and the harm it is causing, Dr. Heldman gave us ways to improve our mental health: four daily rituals of our objectification culture we can stop engaging in. See all four (stop seeking male attention; stop consuming damaging media; stop playing negative internal tapes; stop competing with other women) in detail here.
"When you see a woman who triggers competitiveness, practice active love instead. Smile at her. Go out of your way to talk to her. Do whatever you can to dispel the notion that female competition is the natural order. If you see a woman who appears to embrace the male attention game, instead of judging her, recognize the pressure that produces this and go out of your way to accept and love her." (source) (See also 4 Daily Rituals to Start)
We had two opportunities to see Miss Representation with Dr. Heldman introducing the film and answering questions after. The screening I attended was packed and the energy in the room was palpable.

Miss Representation 8 min. Trailer 8/23/11 from Miss Representation on Vimeo.

I left the room feeling so full of love for Alpha Chi Omega. I found myself
  • Inspired by our national organization's leadership and staff who incorporate our mission and values into so much of what we do - offering lifelong learning opportunities; helping us be more real, even stronger women; giving us the tools to find our voices, become better advocates, and create lasting cultural change (and maybe even change the conversation along the way); 
  • Fired up by the collegiate and alumnae sisters in the room who shared their experiences as students, mothers and volunteers, who asked wonderful thoughtful questions about the film, and who expressed their desire to bring change to their campuses and their communities; 
  • Inspired all over again by Alpha Chi Omega's Executive Director, Cheri O'Neill, when she set the bar with her marching orders to each of us in the room. As CEO of an almost multi-million dollar enterprise, she reminded us that just as she is a leader, we are ALL leaders: we all have a responsibility to make the world a better place and Alpha Chi Omega expects us to get out there and do it. 
I hope you'll take the opportunity to see Miss Representation (it's available on itunes here), like Miss Representation on facebook here and learn more/take action to help hold media accountable here.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

This Week's Veggies and Fruit

Every other Wednesday, we pick up a produce bag as part of our share in Orchard Pond Organic, a local farm.
This week the haul included mini sweet bell peppers, heirloom tomatoes, yellow squash, two types of eggplant, basil and (not shown) a Florida avocado.

I'm behind in sharing - the goodies from the previous pick-up are shown here: eggplant, a watermelon, a mango, a Florida avocado, tomatoes, basil and honey. 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Planning Our Genealogy Field Trip (Part 1)

While we're in Cleveland, Mom and I are going to have a mother-daughter lunch and field trip with her second cousin and my third cousin (also mother-daughter) to visit our shared relatives. 

Our first stop will be Monroe Street Cemetery in Ohio City to visit my Great Great Grandfather:

Theodore Andersen

Front entrance to Monroe Street Cemetery

From this blog post I learned that the interment records for the public cemeteries in Cleveland are indexed and online. On the Cleveland District Round Table site, I accessed the Cleveland City Cemetery Index to find the record on my Great Great Grandfather, Theodore, who died in 1891.

Here is the index listing:
 click to see full size
zoomed in on the detail
Even more exciting, here is the register from the cemetery listing his address and cause of death.
click to see full size or view it online here
zoomed in
Close by the Monroe Street Cemetery is the Cuyahoga County Archives, which might be worth a visit. Especially since I'm pretty sure Mom is not going to be sold on the "Typhoid Malaria" cause of death listed at the cemetery.
The Cuyahoga County Archives is open to the public, without charge, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, from 8:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. The address of the Archives is the Rhodes House, 2905 Franklin Boulevard, N.W., Cleveland, Ohio 44113; (216)623-7250.
Some records of interest:
Tax Duplicates, 1819 to present (not inclusive) Common Pleas Journals, 1810-1943 (not inclusive), originals; microfilm in the office of the Clerk of Courts
Marriage license applications, 1831-1875, originals; microfilm in the Probate Court
Divorce case files, 1876-1882, Court of Common Pleas; also, Ohio Supreme Court records, 1811-1858, and Court of Common Pleas Special Docket files, 1876-1922
Naturalization records, 1818-1971, Court of Common Pleas; also, Probate Court naturalization records, 1852-1901
Death records, 1868-1908, originals, index; microfilm in the Probate Court List of Electors, 1893-1945, Board of Elections
Coroner's case files, 1833-1900 (not inclusive)
Probate Court Estate case files, 1813-1913
Coming next week - Part 2 of our plans. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Inspired by Convention: Changing Perspectives, Changing the Conversation

Welcome to the "Inspired by Alpha Chi Omega Convention" series! Thank you, Lee Anne White, for your thoughtful insights and for providing our first guest post!

This was my third convention, which means I finally got to wear one of those “silver thingies” on my head at the Olympian lunch. When I think back on my first two conventions, the big moments are what first come to mind—the introduction of the Real. Strong. Women. branding program in 2008 and hearing the voices of our founders for the first time at our 125th anniversary in 2010. And, of course, I’ll never forget the first time I walked into the convention hall—realizing just how big this was and seeing all of those banners flying overhead.

Yet, I agree with Amy—somehow, this convention felt different. And I believe it is best characterized by a quiet moment shared with the younger women representing our chapter who traveled to convention with me. A little concerned about the serious looks on their faces, I inquired about how they were doing and whether or not they were enjoying convention. “Oh, yes!” they said, lighting up. “This is amazing. We just never realized how inwardly focused we were as a chapter—that Alpha Chi Omega is so much more than we had ever imagined. We plan to attend all conventions from now on!” Indeed, they are already laying plans to meet in Palm Desert and mapping out a post-convention road trip to see Shania Twain perform in Las Vegas. They are also looking ahead to their future involvement with Alpha Chi Omega and have already begun connecting with sisters of all ages from all over the country.

Back on campus—even when we’re heavily focused on philanthropy and campus involvement—it’s easy to get wrapped up in our own chapter and its activities. When you attend convention, you realize that this isn’t just about your chapter or your collegian years. It gives new meaning to the concept of sisterhood for a lifetime. And at this convention, Alpha Chi Omega was not focused on itself, but on the bigger picture—really honing in on the role of both the fraternity and women in the world today, with outstanding speakers delivering powerful messages about domestic violence, the sexual objectification of women, leadership, and living a meaningful life. It was not only inspiring, but thought provoking and empowering as well.

My collegian days are well behind me. Admittedly, friends look at me funny when I tell them I am a sorority advisor. “Haven’t you outgrown sororities yet?” they clearly want to ask. I tend to respond by explaining that it’s not about “sorority.” It’s about helping young women discover their talents, abilities and potential, and helping them grow into leaders who will help shape our communities and the world. But maybe it’s about sorority, too—because it is our ritual that bonds us as sisters and that guides our daily thoughts and actions. Together, as collegians and alumnae, we will seek the heights!

Lee Anne White is the advisor for Tau Chapter, which recently celebrated its Centennial year at The Women’s College at Brenau University in Gainesville, Georgia. She blogs daily about women, creativity and living authentically at www.HerOwnWay.com. Follow her on twitter @leeannewhite and “like” her facebook page: Her Own Way.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Inspired by Alpha Chi Omega Convention

I am inspired by my Twitter sisters!
I always come home from Alpha Chi Omega Convention feeling inspired but this time feels different to me - somehow more deeply inspiring on many levels. Instead of giving a day-by-day report on Convention and the events we enjoyed, I plan to share some of the moments, people and events that inspired me the most.

In making this plan, it occurred to me that sisters have different perspectives than I have and that it would be fun to hear what inspired them. If you were at Alpha Chi Omega Convention in St. Louis and have an inspirational moment to share, you are invited to write a guest blog post for this series!

If a post of your own sounds intimidating, we could chat about your inspiring moment and then use our interview as the basis for an article.

Because there is so much to reflect on post-Convention and because it is fun to keep that Convention glow going for awhile, my tentative plan is to post one or two "Inspired by Convention" post a week for the next several weeks (give or take depending on how many guest posts are written).

Ideally, the posts will focus on a single event, moment or person and go into specifics about how that event, moment or person inspired the author. For some, there will be take home messages/lessons - the key points that stick with us and perhaps change our thinking or behavior.

Comment below with your thoughts, or tweet or email me!

Update 8/16/2012:
Eight Inspired by Alpha Chi Convention posts are now available (click title to view):
Changing Perspectives, Changing the Conversation
Inspired by "Time to Represent the Real Me"
Inspired by Alumnae Initiation
Inspired by Melissa d'Arabian
Inspired by Wisdom, Devotion & Achievement Part 1
Inspired by Wisdom, Devotion & Achievement Part 2
Inspired by Wisdom, Devotion & Achievement Part 3
Inspired by #YOLO: What Is Your Legacy?
Inspired by Chapter Consultants

Monday, July 23, 2012

Scallops - from Gulf to Table

Tara, Abe and Sara spent Friday out scalloping. They had quite an adventure (including grounding the boat on a sandbar) but came home happy and with a good catch.
Heading out Friday morning.

Scallops like the fine grasses better than the coarse grasses.

 "The catch."

Tara found this adorable little crab inside the shell while she and Abe were shucking.

 Heading back to dock

Sunday night, we had most of the gang over and I cooked up the harvest for everyone. Recipe follows photos. 

Sauteing the scallops in a little bit of butter in the cast iron skillet.

The final product = YUM!

Angel Hair Pasta with Bay Scallops, Roasted Summer Squash and Browned Butter Cream Sauce

7 small summer squash, chopped into bite size pieces (we used 2 zucchini and 5 yellow squash)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 pound angel hair pasta, cooked al dente (5 minutes)
9 Tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh sage, minced
3 Tablespoons heavy cream
3/4 cup (or more) freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese

1 quart fresh bay scallops

Preheat oven to 400 F. Combine squash, olive oil and salt and pepper in a large bowl, stir well. Pour squash onto a baking sheet (I line it with foil for easy clean up) and roast about 25 minutes or until caramelized, stirring every 10 minutes. Hold in a warm oven until ready to serve.

Cook pasta according to package instructions while preparing the sauce.

In a large pot (I used our dutch oven), melt the 8 Tablespoons of butter with 1/2 teaspoon of salt. When the butter is melted, add the sage and cook, stirring regularly, until the butter browns and begins to smell nutty. Stir in the cream and remove from heat. At this point, you can add the cheese but we used it as a garnish. When the pasta is cooked and drained, add it to the sauce and stir well so that the sauce coats the pasta well. Pour the pasta and sauce into a large serving bowl and spread the roasted vegetables around the perimeter.

Heat a medium size cast iron skillet on high to sear the scallops. Add a half a Tablespoon of butter to skillet and when it's melted, swirl it around and add 1/2 the scallops. Sear them for about 2 minutes, then stir gently. It's important not to overcook them so as soon as they look opaque, pour the scallops and any liquid from the pan on top of the pasta (which is now in the serving bowl). Repeat with an additional 1/2 Tablespoon of butter and the second half of the scallops.

Enjoy immediately. Serve with the grated parm on the pasta and vegetables.

Sauce recipe adapted from this one from Rachael Ray.

Friday, July 13, 2012

My Last Immigrant

2012 marks an important centennial for my family as 1912 is the year that my paternal grandmother emigrated from Slovakia to the U.S. She is the most recent of all my ancestors to arrive in the States.

My grandmother, Margaret (left), with her sisters, Mary (center) and Sophie (right) on the day Sophie made her first communion. In those days you had to be 12 to take communion. This photo was likely taken during Sophie and Grandma's first year in America. 

Grandma and Aunt Sophie arrived in New York, New York on March 6, 1912 on a ship called Kronprinz Wilhelm which sailed from Cherbourg, France. They had a brother, John, and a sister, Mary (seen in the photo above), who had emigrated and lived in Cleveland with their spouses. John's wife was Mary and sister Mary's husband was John (seriously). Brother John and his wife, Mary, had a daughter, Anna, in Slovakia. (Brother) "John was sending his wife to Europe to bring their daughter home to Cleveland. John and his sister (Mary) put money together to bring their sisters Sophie and Margaret back also. At this point, they were orphans living with their brother Joseph." Mary took her two young sons (John and Steven, ages 4 and 2) with her to get the three girls. "Story is that John's wife used the money for better accommodations for her sons and Anna and put Margaret and Sophie in steerage." Grandma was 9 and Sophie 12 when they arrived. 

After arriving, Grandma and Sophie lived with their sister, Mary, and her husband, John. 

Tragically, both brother, John, and brother-in-law, John, died young. Their brother, John, died in October 1924 after being hit by a car. Brother-in-law John Vall died in December 1930 of tuberculosis. 

All quotes courtesy of my eldest Aunt. Thank you, Lill!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Happy Twitter-versary

As of tomorrow, July 13, 2012, I've been on Twitter 4 years. Wow, how times flies. Twitter continues to be for me a source of grace, beauty, laughter and friendship.

This video is an example of grace and beauty, found via Twitter, in an airport of all places. In the departure hall in Terminal 1 of the Singapore Airport, this brand new kinetic sculpture greets visitors. Motors in the ceiling control two sets of 608 copper-covered aluminum raindrops, suspended on wire, that perform a 15-minute long choreographed dance.

"Kinetic Rain" Changi Airport Singapore from ART+COM on Vimeo.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

T's Favorite Apps

Our new ipad, which I received for Mother's Day, has become T's best friend. He has a couple games he really loves, and since they are educational, I thought I'd share them.

The first is Stack the States. By answering questions about the U.S. states and stacking up the correct answers, the player wins states on a map. Questions range from easy (choosing the state that matches the abbreviation) to hard (knowing state nicknames). The bar moves up as you get better so you continually have to earn more states to more to the next level. There are bonus games that open up that are fun too - T's favorites are puzzler and capital drop (in which you have to match state shapes with their capital cities).

A sample question with states already stacked.
The goal is to have the stack reach the black and white line.

The "My States" page. Each time you stack states up to the bar, you earn a state for the "My State" map.

In one of the bonus games, Puzzler, you drag the states together to make a section of the map.

The app costs 99 cents and is worth every penny. If you play it long enough, it repeats questions, but this doesn't bother T since he loves repetition! Check it out at the itunes store here

T's new favorite game is Presidents vs. Aliens. Created by the same guy as Stack the States, players earn presidents by answering questions about the men who have served in the highest office in the U.S. This a bit more difficult than the states but the tougher questions have clues (like dates) that help. The hardest ones are quotes from Presidents as not many of them are well-known. [We might engage in a bit of quiz-jacking.]

A sample question - in the background, you can see the aliens hovering over Washington, D.C. 

After you get a question right, you get to help the President take out some of the aliens. When all the aliens are defeated, you win a president for your big "My Presidents" list. 

The main "My Presidents" page. In the bottom corners, you can see the bonus games: Heads of State and Executive Order. T loves putting all the presidents in chronological order in Executive Order. 

This app is also a bargain at 99 cents! Check it out on itunes here. We're going to try Stack the Countries next. Learn more about the author of these great games on his blog: http://dan-russell-pinson.com/

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Fun Times in the Madison Area - Casa Capelli

We're always on the hunt for new places to try (both at home and when we're on the road). Sunday and Monday nights can be a little bleak, as many places are closed, but that just makes us stretch out of our comfort zone a bit. The first Monday we were in Madison, we decided to stick with the "restaurants in bank buildings" theme we started two nights earlier at Vault by visiting Casa Capelli in Ashtabula.

A little more than 30 years younger than the old bank in Madison, the former Farmer's National Bank in Ashtabula is a more imposing structure, both outside and in. This photo shows the tellers windows in what is now the main dining room.

photo from the restaurant's website

the dining room today

stained glass ceiling is something else, even on a rainy evening

Despite the somewhat lavish surroundings, the restaurant is a no-nonsense Mom and Pop establishment that prides itself on making things from scratch. Our server was honest and efficient; the food pretty good. They carry a nice selection of local wines to go along with a menu that is primarily Italian with a few Mexican dishes thrown in for fun. Dinner included a big green salad and a basket of bread to start.
we both had fajitas - chicken for me (above) and shrimp for C (below)
"Served with Spanish rice, shredded cheese, lettuce, pico de gallo, salsa, sour cream, and flour tortillas."

C wished there were a few more shrimp on his platter but I had plenty of chicken to share with him. It was a filling and satisfying meal. I wouldn't go out of my way to visit, but if you're in the neighborhood, you'll have a nice meal at a good price.

Casa Capelli
4641 Main Avenue
Ashtabula, Ohio

Monday, July 9, 2012

Polenta Eggplant Stacks

We love this recipe, which is adapted from Weight Watchers magazine.


1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
28 oz can Italian style diced tomatoes (we like Hunt's with basil and xx)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup basil, chopped
1 1/2 pound(s) uncooked eggplant(s), cut into 24 (1/4-inch thick) slices
16-18 oz polenta, from a refrigerated tube, cut into 12 (1/2-inch) slices
3/4 cup(s) part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup(s) (shredded) part-skim mozzarella cheese

Heat the oil in a large skillet, then add the garlic. Sauté until golden, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, salt, and sugar; bring to a boil. Simmer, uncovered, until the sauce thickens slightly, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the basil.

Line a large baking tray with aluminum foil. Spray with olive oil non-stick spray. Place the eggplant on the tray and broil 4 inches from the heat until lightly browned, about 2-3 minutes on each side. There is usually enough eggplant that it takes 2 batches to cook them all. Let cool. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Spoon about 1 cup sauce on the bottom of a nonstick 11 x 14-inch baking pan. Place 12 of the eggplant slices in the pan, then top each with a polenta slice, a tablespoon of ricotta cheese, and the remaining eggplant. Spoon the remaining sauce over all.

Bake, covered loosely with foil, until heated through and the sauce is bubbly, about 25-30 minutes. Top each stack with about 2 teaspoons mozzarella cheese. Bake, uncovered, until the cheese melts, about 10 minutes.  Serve hot or at room temperature. Yields 1 polenta and eggplant stack per serving (~6 WW points each).

Friday, July 6, 2012

My Grandparents Wedding Photos

February 12, 1924 in Cleveland, Ohio (Dad's parents)

November 8, 1934 in Erie, Pennsylvania (Mom's parents)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Who Are Your Stars in 2012?

One of my favorite Alpha Chi Omega Convention traditions is Star Booth. For a small donation, you can honor the sisters who have touched your life or inspired you.

All the funds raised support the mission of Alpha Chi Omega Foundation - helping sisters learn and grow, assisting survivors of domestic violence and the agencies that serve them, and commemorating our musical heritage through support of the MacDowell Colony.
When you purchase a star (which you can do online here), Foundation sends an email to the recipient on your behalf. This is new this year and it's been fun receiving stars in my inbox. Convention attendees also get stars to wear on their name tags, and I've traditionally mostly bought stars for women I know are attending but I thought this year it would be fun to recognize four young sisters who are devoting time to making a difference in the world.

The first three are 2012 graduates of my home chapter, Zeta Upsilon, at Case Western Reserve University, all of whom were selected for Teach for America. They are training now and will teach children in underprivileged schools for 2 years, starting this fall: Abi in Oklahoma; Candace second grade in New Mexico; and Erin high school English in Memphis.
Abi, Erin and Candace at Alpha Chi Recruitment this winter. 

If you're not familiar with Teach for America, learn more here. Also, follow along as Erin is blogs her training and teaching experience here. 

My fourth inspirational sister is Victoria. Another Zeta Upsilon alumna, she graduated CWRU in 2011 and after completing her masters in Engineering and Management this spring, is spending the summer cycling across the US with Bike & Build.
Bike & Build organizes cross-country bicycle trips which benefit affordable housing groups.
Specifically, we fund projects planned and executed by young adults. Over the past 9 seasons we have donated more than $3.3MM; built for more than 100,000 hours; pedaled over 5MM miles; and engaged more than 1500 young adults in spreading the word about the affordable housing crisis in America.
Victoria's journey will take her from Providence, Rhode Island to Seattle, Washington. Along the way, the team will take breaks from riding and participate in building projects made possible by their fundraising.

Victoria in Pennsylvania en route to Seattle
Follow along with Victoria here and see the route (and where she is today (until August 21) here.

Who inspires you? Recognize her with a star here: http://www.axostarbooth.com/

See also
Who Are Your Stars? Don't miss the great comments
Alpha Chi Omega Star Booth
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