Thursday, August 30, 2012

Baba Ganoush aka Eggplant Dip x2

Roasted Eggplant Dip
We have been flush with eggplants lately and finding new ways to enjoy them has been fun.

The farm manager at Orchard Pond shared her baba ganoush recipe, which we loved. Then we tried Ina Garten's Roasted Eggplant Spread, which is basically baba ganoush with (as Ina says) "the volume turned up."

Baba Ganoush

2 pounds eggplant
1/2 cup tahini
juice of 2 lemons
4 cloves garlic
parsley or cilantro


Slice eggplant in half and roast at about 425 until they are complete mush. Scoop out the insides and mix it in a food processor with the tahini, lemon juice and garlic. Chop a bit of herbs and add those in. Salt and pepper and paprika to top it all off.

Roasted Eggplant Spread adapted from this recipe

veggies roasting in the oven
2 medium eggplants, peeled
1 red bell pepper, seeded
1 red onion, peeled
2 garlic cloves
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons tahini
3 tablespoons chopped parsley, plus extra for garnish


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut the eggplant, bell pepper, and onion into cubes. Toss them in a large bowl with the garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread them on a baking sheet. Roast for 45 minutes, until the vegetables are caramelized and soft, turning as needed during cooking. Cool.

caramelized and delicious!
Place the roasted garlic cloves, lemon juice and tahini in the blender and blend until smooth. Add the rest of the veggies and spin on the lowest setting for a few seconds  Taste for salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl and add the chopped parsley. Garnish with extra parsley.

Lessons learned: peeling and chopping the eggplant before roasting it definitely yields more flavor. I also prefer the mellow sweetness of roasted garlic over the sharp bite of raw garlic so next time we make plain baba ganoush we'll try those two subtle adjustments.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Friday, August 24, 2012

The 1892 New York State Census

It's my fourth great-grandmother, Lucinda Flagg Cain, listed in the 1892 New York State Census:

The column next to place of birth is Citizen or Alien - she was "A" for Alien

Here is the full page, click to see larger.

They lived in the town of Elko (read more about it here), New York, where Lucinda's brothers and sons had moved earlier in the 1800s to work in the lumber business. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

This Week's Veggies and Fruit

from Orchard Pond Organics: basil, muscadine grapes, a Florida avocado, eggplant, okra and sweet potatoes. This is the last of our summer share. Fall season at the farm starts September 1st!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Inspired by Alpha Chi Omega Convention: Consultant Love

Welcome to the ninth post in the "Inspired by Alpha Chi Omega Convention" series!

One of the best parts of my national service to Alpha Chi Omega over the last year has been getting to spend time with the amazing young women who serve Alpha Chi Omega as Chapter and Resident Consultants. In May 2011, Anne, Jennifer and Laura (at left) and I spent a weekend together assisting with Recruitment Training in Atlanta. Even though they had just been hired and had not had any training prior to arriving, each of them had valuable insights during the one-on-one meetings we had with chapter Recruitment teams and advisors. We spent so much time together that weekend that I teased them that we were attached at the hip!

In August, they went off on their travels: Jennifer to prepare for the new colony at High Point University; Anne to visit all of our Texas chapters and Laura to travel to the rest of Southeast. We were lucky to have Laura come see us three times at FSU, and I enjoyed every minute I spent at Texas Exec Board training in February with Anne. During our time together in Arlington, we held one-on-one meetings with all thirteen chapters and led a Recruitment Workshop. It was great to be attached at the hip again! I was really excited when I learned that all three of "my" region's Consultants would return for a second year.

There are always lots of things to look forward to at Convention but this year I had the excitement of being reunited with this year's Consultants and meeting the new ones. We had our reunion Friday morning bright and early when Jen D and I, representing the NPC Team, trained the whole Consultant team on all things Panhellenic. Throughout Convention, we had chances to spend time together and bond.

In addition to being super smart and beautiful inside and out, the Consultants are fun!
Here they are making lyres and letters under the Arch.

Here they are in dresses Past National Presidents wore to previous Conventions for the Walk of Memory.

Team Region 2 at the Final Banquet 

Each time I spend time with these women, whether it's on the phone, by email, or in person, I come away impressed by their intelligence, ability to assess situations, and the way they apply their excellent people skills to help chapters and individual sisters reach their goals. I'm inspired by these young women because they devote themselves to Alpha Chi Omega - changing lives one visit and one sister at a time. I look forward to working with them this year. Safe travels, friends, and thank you!

Read more from the "Inspired" series here.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Greek-style Stuffed Peppers

When we arrived home from Mom's with four beautiful bell peppers from her garden, we knew had to make stuffed peppers. After much research, we went with Greek-style Stuffed Peppers. The original recipe called for red bell peppers but they were delicious with green ones too. Next time we make them, I might substitute lamb for half the ground beef to make them even more Greek.

Greek-style Stuffed Peppers (adapted from this recipe)

4 large green bell peppers, halved length-wise
1 pound lean ground beef
1 10-ounce package chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 medium zucchini, grated (about 2 cups)
1 small onion, diced (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup bulgar*
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
black pepper
2  14 1/2 ounce cans of diced Italian tomatoes
1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled

Prepare the peppers by removing the seeds and ribs. Find a baking dish (preferably with a lid, or deep enough to cover with foil without touching the peppers.) that all the peppers fit inside laying flat on the bottom in a single layer.

look at all those healthy ingredients!

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

In a large bowl, lightly beat the egg then add the ground beef, spinach, zucchini, onion, bulgar, egg, oregano, salt and pepper to taste. Mix to combine thoroughly.

Fill the pepper halves with the meat mixture, mounding it up if necessary.

Pour the tomatoes over top of the peppers. Cover and bake for an hour.  (If you're covering with foil be sure the foil doesn't touch the tomatoes as they can react with each other. A layer of parchment paper can be used to separate them.) After an hour, remove the lid, garnish with the feta cheese and cook until the meat is cooked through and the peppers are soft.

*I found bulgar in the bulk area of the Greenwise section at Publix.

Serves 8.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Quote of the Week

The human spirit needs places where nature has not been rearranged by the hand of man.
from ashleyherrin via pinterest

Friday, August 17, 2012

Genealogy Field Trip Report August 2012

Our genealogy field trip (previewed here and here) was a great success. We visited all three cemeteries, found everyone we were looking for, learned a few things and had a wonderful time together!

We started our adventure meeting our cousins at Lakewood Park Cemetery in Rocky River. It's on Detroit Road and really easy to find. The staff in the office were very helpful - both on the phone ahead of time and in person that morning. Equipped with our maps and instructions, we headed out in search of great uncle Alfred. He was not in the first place we tried (imagine, that, two Alfred W. Andersons in one cemetery!) but we did find him, buried with his wife's family and his daughter and son-in-law.

In terms of aesthetics, Lakewood Park is very austere. All the markers are flush to the ground, making the cemetery feel more like a park than a graveyard. While it doesn't have a lot of character, it is filled with many Cleveland area dignitaries, including Dick Jacobs, former owner of the Cleveland Indians, so Uncle Alfred is in good company.

Alfred's wife, Jane, is buried between her first husband, Alfred, and her second husband, Albert.

 In the small world department, Alfred's daughter, Betty (who was adopted by her step-father, Albert) was an Alpha Chi Omega at University of Michigan. She died earlier this year (read her obit here). I took her carnations, our Alpha Chi flower.

Betty is buried next to her mother's parents with her husband on her right.
They are all in the next row down from Alfred, Jane and Albert. 

Next we drove over to Riverside Cemetery in Brooklyn Centre. It's right in the city, at the intersection of I-71 and 176. A much more traditional cemetery, it has all sorts of interesting monuments, statues and markers along with beautiful old trees and a massive gate house (photo, right) that is on the National Register of Historical Buildings. 

I had spoken to a very nice woman in the office a few days before who had given me detailed instructions for finding great Uncle Victor, Alfred's younger brother, so we headed straight to that area. 

It didn't take us long to find him and his wife, Ella:

Finding Ella was a new discovery. We knew they lived in Birmingham, Alabama, when he died in 1939, and that she brought him home to be buried in Cleveland. I had recently found her in the 1940 census living in an apartment in Lakewood but that was where the trail ended. 

Victor and Ella are buried with Ella's family:
Ella's Mom

Ella's father and sister. Lizzie died at age 4. 

Detail from Ella's father's stone. Her sister, Minnie, and her first husband are buried in the next row as well. Having Gessners in the family is another small world moment, as one of my first cousins on my Dad's side of the family is a Gessner by marriage. We'll have to see if they are all related. 

The biggest surprise at Riverside was the wildlife. We saw a lot of deer, including this whole family. They really were less than 30 feet away from us! Cleveland definitely still is Forest City

Our last stop on the cemetery tour was Monroe Street in Ohio City. It is the oldest cemetery on the West side of Cleveland with burials dating back to 1818. The gate house, shown on left, is no longer in service (the records are all at another city cemetery (and online)) and is falling down so the main entrance is closed. (It is being repaired.) There is a pedestrian gate to the left, down near the corner of West 30th Street. 

Mom had been to visit Theodore, my great great grandfather, before, so we knew just where to look. He is buried in the far back corner from the pedestrian gate. 

That's his stone, third to the left of the tree, with the shiny top. 

His daughters (my great grandmother and great Aunt Thorence) purchased this marker (it is not the original from 1891, was there an original? We don't know). Grandma died in 1962 so it had to have been prior to that. Update 8/17: Mom says, "Great Grandpa never had stone. They wanted him recognized, so they bought the stone and put it there. I think it was in the 1950ies."

Over lunch at Great Lakes Brewing Company, we shared family stories and discussed all the mysteries we still have to solve. It was a lovely morning!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Inspired by Convention: #YOLO – What Is Your Legacy?

Welcome to the eighth post in the "Inspired by Alpha Chi Omega Convention" series! Thank you, Jill Moran, for sharing the moments at Convention that most inspired her!

2012 has marked my 4th Alpha Chi Omega Convention (I’m officially an Olympian, it takes attending 4 conventions to qualify), my 12th year as a member of Alpha Chi Omega, my 5th wedding anniversary (which was celebrated at Convention the night of 7/14/12) and I turned 31.
Jill and Brian Moran celebrate 5 years
of Marriage at the Arch

With all these milestones I took time throughout the weekend to do some much needed internal reflection at the 2012 Alpha Chi Omega Convention. One word was the catalyst for said reflection, Legacy. I heard it over and over throughout the weekend. 

First let me give a little bit of my Alpha Chi Omega story. 
Debbie Meyer Chamberlain, mother &
Jill Chamberlain Moran, daughter
Legacy means many things: birthright, gift, and inheritance just to name a few. In the Panhellenic world a legacy is a sister, daughter, granddaughter or great-granddaughter of a member. For me, legacy describes who I am in the Alpha Chi Omega world. I am indeed a legacy of Alpha Chi Omega; my mother was initiated into my same chapter of initiation (Alpha Delta at the University of Cincinnati) a mere 30 years before me (1970 for my mom and 2000 for myself). The legacy of Alpha Chi Omega was introduced to me at an early age – some of my first memories of the University of Cincinnati as a child are at the Alpha Chi Omega house. At an early age I learned the importance of supporting your sisters and in turn leaning on them for support. Now, I instill those same principles into the ladies I advise at the Beta Tau chapter at Miami University.
Jill Chamberlain Moran PAC-OH,
Madeline Power BT VP of Recruitment,
Kelly Fried ALA Co-President

Back to the 2012 Convention, on Saturday at the opening chapter meeting, or as my husband (he is almost an Olympian himself with this being his 3rd convention) says – all white day.

I shifted my focus from just absorbing information and taking notes a step further with self-reflection and meditation. All of this started with one little hashtag phrase our out-going National President, Marsha Grady, used as a theme in her opening speech – #YOLO.

I will admit for a tech and social media savvy 31 year old who works with college women I had yet to hear or pay attention to this particular hashtag. During Marsha’s speech I learned it was an acronym for You Only Live Once and is often used when you tweet about doing something really great or doing something just the opposite, making just as much of a mistake. In her speech she pointed out that most use the hashtag for the latter. It was the story of her son’s high school senior class that used the term to take a horrible situation that they experienced and turn it into a positive by making their senior Year the best it could be with only positive outcomes as their legacy to their high school and community.

Outgoing National President
Marsha Grady
Later at the Foundation lunch, The Alpha Chi Omega Foundation launched the “For Now For Ever”  capital campaign. I remember leaving the lunch, again, with the word legacy on my mind – but in this case how can I motivate the Alumnae Chapters and their members that I work with in Ohio to help leave some sort of financial legacy (as they are able). 

My “A Ha” moment with the word legacy came at the final night dinner as the incoming National President, Diane Wilson Blackwelder, was giving her speech.

Incoming National President
Diane Blackwelder
Her speech was an anthology of real life Alpha Chi Omega stories including her own. My personal and metaphorical light bulb finally shone so bright it burst – the legacy I can leave my fellow sisters and potential sisters is my Alpha Chi Omega story that I am currently living. My story is more than the simple went school, joined a sorority, went to class, graduated and etc… my story will show others how an organization I love so much has endured and evolved over time with many highs and lows. Alpha Chi Omega has given me my second family, priceless leadership and networking skills (my mom and I will bump each other at community social events to work the room), as well as the opportunity for me to do what I to best – coach and motivate women who will be our future leaders.

I interact with a member of Alpha Chi Omega almost everyday – I work with 2 other Alpha Chi’s, my mother is an Alpha Chi, my maid of honor and closest friends are Alpha Chi’s, many of my twitter friends are sisters I have yet to meet, and the collegiate women I advise have constant communication with me. These lovely ladies who range in age and live across the country have become part of my current story as I share my past with them. I now know what my speech will be if I am ever asked to talk at an Alpha Chi Omega event. It will be my Alpha Chi Omega story as my experiences have shaped me into the woman I am today. I mentioned having highs and lows as any good story has – such as rising above and becoming closer to my Alpha Delta Alpha Chi Omega sisters when our chapter was closed during my 2nd year of school, to the high of being honored with the Grace Daniels Outstanding Sorority Chapter Advisor Award at Miami University.

Each time I return from convention I always feel energized and wish I could bottle that feeling to give to those Alpha Chi Omegas that may have gotten lost along the way. Instead all I can do is share my story and ask what will be your legacy to give? #YOLO, so you better make it be a lasting (& positive) legacy – I know my legacy in progress will last.

Photos courtesy of Jill Moran and Greek Year Book.

Jill Chamberlain Moran is an initiate of the Alpha Delta Chapter (University of Cincinnati). Currently she serves as the Province Alumnae Chair for Ohio, Collegiate Liaison Chair for Alpha Lambda Alpha (Cincinnati), Technology Specialist – Brand Use Materials, and Chapter Advisor for Beta Tau (Miami University) for Alpha Chi Omega. Check out her blog where she has many observations and (mostly humorous) insights in her everyday life of a graphic designer and follow her on twitter or find her on facebook.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Inspired by Convention: Wisdom, Devotion, Achievement Part 3

Welcome to the seventh post in the "Inspired by Alpha Chi Omega Convention" series. Thank you, Jessica Mace, for her generosity in providing a three-part series, themed Wisdom, Devotion, Achievement, including part three today: Achievement.

If you spend any amount of time with me, you find out very quickly that I’m a fan of lists. I love lists, folders, goal setting… all of it! It makes me happy, gives me purpose, and stops me from watching Dance Moms marathons every day.

Well, about two years ago, I had this really neat idea. What if we gathered all of the Alpha Chi’s who have connections to the military and make a virtual alumnae group? Wouldn’t that be amazing?! I thought so, and started sharing with a few people. Minus a few naysayers (They thought we wouldn’t get enough people… HA! 40+members and counting!), everyone was on board. I was even featured as a Real. Strong. Woman of the Month on the Alpha Chi Omega website. National Headquarters provided me as much exposure as they could…but for whatever reason we just couldn’t reach the right people. So the idea was tabled for awhile, but it stayed on my list of goals.

Fast-forward two years, new sisters came in (HUGE shout out to Gina Fox and Liza Hallsten), and we’re finally off the ground! Each new chapter gets installed…some it’s just a matter of getting your certificate in the mail, others have a ceremony. The challenge of a military chapter is that we are literally everywhere. There was no way we could have a ceremony with people attending…UNLESS it was at Convention. We were approved by National Council at their final meeting for 2010-2012, allowing us to be installed in July at Convention!

Friday night, following the Alumnae Initiation, Carol Lutz and Gina Fox installed our military alumnae chapter. At some point during the ceremony, I teared up. I blame it on deploymones (n. the extra surge of hormones and emotions that become nearly impossible to deal with when your husband is deployed). But in actuality, it was just a big moment for both me and the sisters there. Having the chapter installed by the 2012 Convention was my Big Hairy Audacious Goal. And it was complete!

This achievement isn’t something any one of us did. It can attributed to the strength of Alpha Chi Omega, and the military supporters within it. I tried to do it on my own, and it wouldn’t come together. I added the help of my sisters, and it was achieved.

These three moments defined my convention experience. There are so many more that I would love to discuss, so many that impacted me. If you haven’t already, start saving for Convention 2014. I can’t imagine how the experience could get any better, but I’m not going to miss out on the opportunity to find out.

Jessica Mace is an initiate of Gamma Tau chapter at Oklahoma City University. A certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor, she currently serves as Volunteer Placement Coordinator for Alpha Chi Omega, and Vice President of Pi Sigma Pi, Stars and Stripes Alumnae Chapter. Follow her on twitter at @JessicaAMace, and ‘like’ her on facebook at

Like Stars and Stripes Alumnae Chapter on facebook

Monday, August 13, 2012

Inspired by Convention: Wisdom, Devotion, Achievement Part 2

Welcome to the sixth post in the "Inspired by Alpha Chi Omega Convention" series. Thank you, Jessica Mace, for her generosity in providing a three-part series, themed Wisdom, Devotion, Achievement, including part two today: Devotion. 

Right after I graduated from college, I moved to a small town in North Carolina that didn't have an alumnae chapter. The closest one was a little over an hour way, so it wasn’t really in the cards to do much with it right away. As I slowly went batty from lack of things to do (did I mention that my husband deployed as soon as we got here?!), I went on the Alpha Chi website and looked for volunteer opportunities. I saw one that seemed intriguing—Volunteer Placement Coordinator. I immediately applied and was delighted to receive the position. I figured I’d do a little bit to help, and that’d be it. I had no idea the opportunities I'd be given to  grow, connect, and develop.

One such opportunity came up this spring: My very first convention, and I was asked to present a session called Volun-Tour with my counterpart, Laura Sanders, the Training and Recognition Coordinator. Our goal was to give people a look into what volunteering is like-both at the national and local level.

Jessica (right) with her counterpart, Laura
(left) and Kassie Kissinger, Director of Life-
time Engagement (center).
I won't lie, I didn't think we'd have many people come to the session. I thought that since it was an intro to volunteering, most people would either a) be in the chapter president sessions, b) already be a volunteer and not feel the need to attend, or c) attend one of the other great sessions that were planned. Imagine my surprise when our little room got more and more filled...resulting in my nerves getting the best of me at the beginning of the presentation. As I was discussing structures and placement processes, I felt the calm setting in. I helped create this process, I'm the only volunteer coordinator Alpha Chi has had thus far, it's not like someone was going to jump out and call me an imposter!

At the end of the presentation, we had a Q&A session with a panel of experienced volunteers. As they talked, the thought crossed my mind about how different we all are: alumnae from all over the country, all different initiation years, all different experiences! Yet all these women come together in support of what we all have in common—the thread of sisterhood, and the commitment to give back.

You see, as a volunteer you’re not just saying “I’m an alumna now and it’s sort of expected that I give back since I did _____________________ in college.” You may be saying any number of things, from “I just moved to a new town and I know I have at least one thing in common with these women” to “I’m still living in the same town I went to college in and this works for me." The common thread though, is all of us are saying “This experience means a lot to me.” Because, why else do you volunteer? You volunteer because the cause means a lot to you, because you experienced something great and want to provide that to the next group of people.

I took the chance and got involved, and in two years I've gone to a national training, a National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) Alumnae Summit, and Alpha Chi Omega Convention. I’ve met countless sisters I would have never interacted with otherwise. I've met women from NPC groups who serve as constant inspirations. Yeah, I gave back and gave my time. But what I've received has been so astronomical I couldn’t list it all without breaking Amy’s blog. Take a minute, and commit to volunteer with Alpha Chi here.

Stay tuned for tomorrow and part 3: ACHIEVEMENT

Jessica Mace is an initiate of Gamma Tau chapter at Oklahoma City University. A certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor, she currently serves as Volunteer Placement Coordinator for Alpha Chi Omega, and Vice President of Pi Sigma Pi, Stars and Stripes Alumnae Chapter. Follow her on twitter at @JessicaAMace, and ‘like’ her on facebook at

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Inspired by Convention: Wisdom, Devotion, Achievement Part 1

Welcome to the fifth post in the "Inspired by Alpha Chi Omega Convention" series. Thank you, Jessica Mace, for your generosity in providing a three-part series, themed Wisdom, Devotion, Achievement. 

This was my very first convention. When Amy asked me to reflect back on a moment from it, so much came to mind: I thought of the experience of rooming with sisters I have never met in real life; I thought of connecting with a sister I had never spent time in chapter with but who has known my husband longer than I have. I thought of sitting with one of my greatest role models and changing the conversation, of nerves before presenting for the first time, and of tears at seeing one of my BHAG’s (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) come true. Ultimately, it was these last three I couldn’t help but write about. These are moments that shaped me, that inspired me, and that developed me.

I’m splitting these up into three separate posts —Wisdom, Devotion, and Achievement —so that I can give each one the attention it deserves.


Starting with Wisdom: Changing the conversation. On Monday we had a presentation by Caroline Heldman and a screening of the film Miss Representation. If you haven’t seen it-go do so now! It’s available on iTunes  (here). Not only is the subject matter fascinating and necessary, but I had the privilege of sitting next to one of my Alpha Chi role models during it, Jari Askins. Jari has been very involved in Oklahoma politics, from State Senate to serving as Lieutenant Governor (2007-2011). She is my Alpha Chi role model, and a role model of mine in general.

One of the areas the documentary covered is woman on woman competition. We are so hard on each other. You see a woman at a stoplight, and before you can even think twice you are judging her. Her skirt is too tight, why is she putting it all out there like that? There’s lipstick in her teeth, does she even own a mirror? It goes on. Very rarely do you look at a female you don’t know and go “Wow, I bet she has some great insight on the BCS system.”

There would be moments in the documentary where I would look to Jari for validation, or in amazement that these statistics were true. She’d look back and nod, and sometimes add a tidbit on about how she had experienced it in one way or another in her life…and I would typically become just a little more disgusted with the world we live in.

It’s sharing in the wisdom of the sisters that came before me, in the resources and education they provide to help me grow into who I'm meant to be. It’s the little teaching moments of sisterhood that make for some of my most memorable (like the moment when Jari said, "yes, it really is that bad.").

It’s not alone seek the average, it’s together let us seek the heights. Aim high, and take your sisters with you.

Stay tuned for tomorrow and part 2: DEVOTION

Jessica Mace is an initiate of Gamma Tau chapter at Oklahoma City University. A certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor, she currently serves as Volunteer Placement Coordinator for Alpha Chi Omega, and Vice President of Pi Sigma Pi, Stars and Stripes Alumnae Chapter. Follow her on twitter at @JessicaAMace, and ‘like’ her on facebook at

Quote of the Week

"Remember happiness is a way of travel not a destination" - Roy Goodman
available from vol25 on etsy via pinterest

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Strawberry Shortcake

For Valentine's, we made heart-shaped  shortcakes. 
T and I are big fans of strawberry shortcake. It's easy to make and a great dessert for kids as they can assemble their bowls themselves. The first baking T did, as a toddler, was biscuits. I'd put a big beach towel on the floor, set him and the bowl of flour on the towel and let him cut the butter into the flour. Messy but fun. At fourteen, he is still a fan of making biscuits. We like shortcakes with all kinds of fruit - peaches, blueberries, or red raspberries can all be substituted for the strawberries. 

Strawberry Shortcakes

For the strawberries:
1 quart strawberries, as ripe as you can get, hulled and quartered
1 Tablespoon sugar
Mix the strawberries and sugar together in a bowl and set aside to let the berries macerate. Feel free to adjust the amount of sugar depending on your taste and the sweetness of the berries. 

For the biscuits (adapted from Betty Crocker's iconic recipe here)
2 cups flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 Tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup unsalted butter, cold
1/2 to 3/4 cup milk
Preheat oven to 450 F. Combine the first four ingredients in a big bowl and mix well. Cut the butter into small chunks and add to the flour mixture. Using a pastry cutter (example here) or two knives, cut the butter into the flour until the butter is worked in fairly well and the butter is no larger than a small pea. Add the milk and mix it in with a wooden spoon just until dough forms. If you add too much milk, the dough will be really sticky, so go easy on it. Once the dough comes together, dump it out onto a floured surface and knead it together a few times. Then roll the dough out to about 1/2-inch thick and cut into shapes for baking. Place on a cookie sheet and bake 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. [Feel free to adjust the sugar in this recipe as well, we like ours a little less sweet so we only use a 1/2 Tablespoon of sugar.]

For the whipped cream
1 cup heavy cream, cold
1 Tablespoon powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Whisk or beat together all ingredients until soft peaks form. Or use your favorite store bought whipped cream (my nephews love Reddi-Whip).

Assemble the shortcakes by splitting a biscuit in half (or breaking it into pieces), covering it with strawberries and then heaping whipped cream on top.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Inspired by Convention: Melissa d'Arabian

Welcome to the fourth post in the "Inspired by Alpha Chi Omega Convention" series! Thank you, Kelly Kilgour, for sharing what most inspired you in this guest post!

I love going to Convention. I love seeing my Twitter sisters in real life, meeting my team of specialists face to face, and reconnecting with my favorite Texans. Each Convention is different but still a wonderful experience. If I had only known what the weekend in St. Louis was to bring, I don't think I could have ever prepared for it. I laughed, cried, and reflected more in those 96 hours than I probably had my entire life. This Convention was the absolute best I have attended, in so many ways. Because it would turn into a novel if I tried to write about everything that inspired me, I'm just going to focus on the one person who inspired me the most: Melissa d'Arabian.

Melissa first spoke to us during her acceptance of the Award of Achievement, given to outstanding alumnae who have made significant contributions in their field or profession. It was a teaser speech of what was about to come later at the National Housing Corporation (NHC) lunch, but I didn't know it yet. She spoke fondly of Alpha Chi Omega at Vermont and the support she received when she lost her mother at only 20 years old.

I'll admit, I hadn't watched her season of Food Network Star. After she won, I heard that she is an Alpha Chi Omega. I watched her show a few times, but I didn't know much more about her than that she was a stay at home mom who won a reality TV show with a prize of a show on the Food Network.

During her speech at the NHC lunch, I learned about Melissa's life and why she does the things she does. She grew up with a sister and her single mother, and watched as her mother put herself through medical school to give her daughters a better life. Melissa then lost her mom to suicide. Before marrying her husband and having four children, Melissa earned her MBA and worked in consulting and finance. There was so much more to this woman than I had ever imagined.

Through what seemed like years of deep introspection, Melissa was able to articulate beautifully how to live each day to the fullest. Her goal was to give us one lesson and two challenges, but I instead gained a longer list of wisdom from her:
  • Lesson: You take you with you wherever you go. Happiness is an inside job.
  • Challenge: Take 3 minutes and develop your personal life mission. Then, don't do anything that doesn't further your personal life mission.
  • Challenge: Know what's really important to you, then allocate your resources to that.
  • Life is easier when you sit in the front row.
  • I want to raise women who know that it's okay to say "no" to people and still love them.
  • We don't need to be afraid of failure; we need to be afraid of success at the wrong thing.
I left that room of 900 people feeling like she and I had just had an intimate one-on-one conversation. I could relate to her and everything that she was saying. Thanks to the recent lengthy Atlantic article, there's been much debate lately on whether or not women can "have it all" and how to make it happen. As women, I feel that we constantly try to please and care for others long before we care for ourselves. We feel pressure to do it all and be everything to everyone, and we feel guilty if we try to sneak in some "me" time or do something that solely benefits ourselves. We find it hard to say "no" to people, and it all keeps piling higher on our plates. Millennial women are burning out before 30, before adding marriage and children into the mix. While it may seem that Melissa "has it all," she is actually just focusing on allocating her resources to what's most important to her and only saying "yes" to things that further her personal life mission.

Melissa inspired me to really think about my personal life mission and what's important to me, which is exactly what she hoped we would all do. So now I challenge all of you to do the same things. What is your personal life mission? What is important to you? How can you further your personal life mission by allocating by allocating your resources to what's most important to you?

Photo credit: Iota Psi chapter of Alpha Chi Omega, Elon University

Kelly Kilgour is an initiate of the Kappa Nu chapter (Carnegie Mellon University). She currently volunteers as the Lead Technology Specialist, helping alumnae chapters to utilize technology in new ways. She is also the president of the Chi Chi (Pittsburgh, PA) alumnae chapter and the finance advisor for both Kappa Nu and Delta (Allegheny College). Follow her on twitter at @QueenKellyLynn.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Planning Our Genealogy Field Trip (Part 2)

Last week, I outlined the beginning of a field trip with cousins to explore our shared history (see that post here). This week, a few more stops we may make.

Theodore's two eldest sons (our great uncles) are also buried in the same general neighborhood as their father: Alfred, a physician who died in 1919, at Lakewood Park Cemetery in Rocky River; and Victor, a merchandiser/salesman who died in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1939, is buried in Riverside Cemetery in Brooklyn Centre.
Alfred William Anderson

Victor Magnus Anderson

Riverside Cemetery Gatehouse

Lakewood Park Cemetery
22025 Detroit Road
Rocky River, Ohio 44116
(440) 333-1922

Riverside Cemetery
3607 Pearl Road
Cleveland, Ohio 44109
(216) 351-4800

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Inspired by Alpha Chi Omega Convention: Alumnae Initiation

Leslie and Jennifer both chose the Alumnae Initiation ceremony Friday evening as their most inspirational event of the 2012 Alpha Chi Omega Convention.

The new initiates.
{Kelly, Pilar, Jamila}
"Seeing the joy on the faces of these three women made me realize what an incredible experience it has been for them already - and just how much more joy they will get out of Alpha Chi Omega. I actually was so moved that I cried." - Leslie

Through the Alumna Initiate program, women who have not had a sorority experience during their college years can apply or be recommended for membership in Alpha Chi Omega. Once accepted for membership, each candidate receives an Alumna Educator who works with her to prepare her for the Initiation Ceremony, sharing our history and heritage as well as our values and expectations. [Read more about the experience of being an Alumna Educator in this post.] Alumnae chapters and collegiate chapters both initiate alumnae members; at Convention, Sigma Sigma alumnae chapter hosted the ceremony.

Leslie reflects on her experience:
As Alumna Educator Coordinator, I've worked with the Alumna Educators to provide the Prospective Alumna Members with a consistent and quality education program. It's been a great experience. I've had the opportunity to witness one of my closest friends initiated by the Beta Rho (American) chapter as an Alumna Initiate. 
Every time I participate in or observe initiation, I have the opportunity to focus on a different part of the ritual. But there was something about experiencing the Alumna Initiation ceremony that really spoke to me. 
Given my work with the Alumna Initate program, this was one of the most inspiring parts of the weekend for me - seeing the education of these women culminate in their initiation, and getting to be a part of it by attending the ceremony. 
I was particularly moved to see Kelly Kirchoff receive her pin from her daughter. One of the successes of the program has been the reverse legacy - daughters sponsoring their mothers or even grandmothers.
Jennifer noted that being a part of the Initiation ceremony the first night set the perfect tone for the rest of Convention:
What an amazing event that encompasses all we are as Alpha Chi Omega women. It renews our bonds, extends the bonds to other Real. Strong. Women., allows us to sing (love that!) and gives you a happy glow.
It was especially exciting for me at the Reunion Night Dinner when I sat next to my chapter's assistant vice president for recruitment Arielle. She expressed that her interest and excitement in attending Clemson and joining a sorority stemmed from her aunt. I inquired about her aunt and Arielle told me she had graduated from Clemson (the same year as me!) and was the COO of a company and a practicing industrial engineer. I put down my fork right then and RAN to the table in the lobby with all the Alumnae Initiate material to share. Arielle texted her aunt after I returned and her aunt was both honored, thrilled and excited to start down the path of becoming an Alpha Chi Omega!
Those of you who know Jennifer well will be able to picture her running to the lobby full of excitement! She completed her thoughts by sharing:
I love the amazing, 'I'm bursting inside with WDA feeling!' that comes from Convention!
[Alpha Chi Omega is centered around wisdom, devotion, and achievement (WDA): three ideals our founders highly valued and that we strive toward in our daily lives.]
Learn more about the Alumna Initiate program here.

Thank you, Leslie, for the photo, which is courtesy of and was taken by Pat Logan, Chair of the National Alumna Initiate Panel. And thank you, sisters, for sharing your thoughts with us!

Leslie Abramsky Block is an initiate of Theta Tau chapter (Rutgers University) who serves as the Alumna Educator Coordinator for Alpha Chi Omega. A long-time member of the Alpha Epsilon Alpha alumnae chapter, she is currently working with other Rutgers sisters to form a virtual alumnae chapter for Theta Tau alumnae. Follow her on twitter @snaphappy.

Jennifer Sue Butler Harris is an initiate of Theta Lambda chapter (Clemson University). She gives generously of her time, serving on Epsilon Tau Epsilon alumnae chapter's Executive Board and advising Beta Eta (Florida State University) and Gamma Iota (University of Florida) chapters. Follow her on twitter @jennsueb.
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