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Friday, February 26, 2010


The term is French, literally translated to "mouth amuser," bouche means mouth and amuser is "to amuse" or "to please."

Amuse-bouche is different from an appetizer in that it's not ordered from a menu, but, when served, is done so according to the chef's selection alone.

I have to admit, here, publically, I did not know what this was...until two years ago.  In my teaching (etiquette), I was asked if I would teach on the course called "amuse b....." 
Eeeegads.  Or if I were French, Qu'est-ce que c'est?  It was a crunch situation - I couldn't afford to feel less than smart.  Especially on dining etiquette.  My "lifeline" was my (hunky) nephew who managed a fine restaurant.  He knew what it took to amuse the mouth.  Thank goodness!

So...I ask you - what does it for you?  Or in "Texan" - tickles your fancy?  My palette is not very sophisticated.  I'm pretty easy to please when it comes to food.  Give me Mexican (at least weekly) and I'm good to go.  I have foodie-friends: those that entertain, 

great cooks, caterers, chefs.  Celine is a blogger friend.  French.  She'll know all bout amuse bouche!   One of my dearest "sistas," Mac, has a catering company in Dallas.  She is an artist in all she touches!  So, tell me...what AMUSES your taste buds?  I do hope they get happy this weekend!   

À tout à l'heure..

(photo by Tongue in Cheek)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Peaches & Coffee

                                   (Peaches & Vava "doing the deal")

Peaches and cream: sure.  Peaches and Herb: yes (if into music).  Peaches and COFFEEWhy yes, if you know Peaches like I know Peaches.  You see - she & I go way 8th grade in the Panhandle of Texas.  Janet (back then) made me love Texas quickly.  Opened her heart and her home to me. 

She is a party waiting to happen.  (I borrowed that line from a friend)Peaches makes herself known and is hard to forget - one of those that makes a daily habit of sucking the marrow from life!

When the phone rang yesterday and she started the conversation with:  "I have a HUGE favor to ask of you...", I couldn't wait to hear what it was.  "Would you meet me on I-45 with some cold-brewed coffee?"  I get it.  Peaches & coffee.  Vava & coffee.  We are addicted and can't help ourselves.  If you don't know about the TODDY Coffee Maker, you should get educated.  It's deeeee-vine!  An FYI, the brew at Border's Books serves this treat.  It's a cold-brewed process that gives a smooth, rich taste without an ounce of acid.  (shouldn't Toddy pay me?  They're not).

Peaches forgot hers on a road trip and it was worth HER while to stop the car and her caravan to "do the deal."  I SO get it. 

Can't wait till I am driving on I-40 going through Peaches' hometown.  I'm going to ask her to meet me on the side of the road.

Do you have a friend that you can call up and ask anything? I do. Several in fact. Without my gaggle of girlfriends, life would be far less rich. Sorta like life without Toddy coffee.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Naps + Niacin

I've spent the past four days with my sis-in-law.
We spent many hours moving her folks, my in-laws, to an independent living community.
The menfolk spent many calories lugging 1960's (heavy), wooden furniture up 2 flights of stairs.
All spent a lot of time repeating ourselves.
I'm spent(definition: adjective)  1.tired out; physically exhausted; without energy  She's not.
                                                                                        2.used up; worn out; without power  

Sis-in-law blows my mind. She's got energy without the help from "5 Hour Energy."  She is a machine.

My new BEST friend!  And, I learned it is doctor-prescribed.  Woo-hoo.  It's stuffed with vitamins, lots of Niacin and the "Bs".  It's in a cute little bottle...easy to down.  And, it did help.  That and at least a 10 minute "nap" with my legs up the wall!

                               (oops...that's Duke, not me!)

                                (Try it, you'll LOVE it!!)

And read here WHY we should take time and slam our legs up the wall ...a lot!

Note to self: hide 5 Hour Energy when sis-in-law comes back to town!

A Bowl Full of...

Dreamy Whites has a wonderful giveaway and her blog is indeed dreamy! 

The blogging life is over-the-top fascinating to little ole me.  I am not a decorator/designer/artist....yet fluffing my nest is at the top of my list.  I visit Blog Land for inspiration and DIY tips more than magazines. 

It all started with the most-popular-Cote de Texas in winter of 2008. I admit - I was a perve.  Could not wait to see what her latest post was.  What a gift she was to my every morning...fell in love with something called a Suzani?????  It's the beautiful table cover below - I still don't own one; but I do have...

(A corner of Cote de Texas' gor-jus home!)
...something Cote has!  A bowl full of photos: does invite conversation!  A honkin' bowl is so much more chic than an album.  Merci, Cote de Texas!

A very recent acquaintance, In My Own Style, is a terrific DIY-er - easy to read, great ideas and helpful (when some of us ask idiotic questions).   

And then there are people like me - that have always journaled and decided to do so online.  The advantage to blogging is the friends I've made - some are honestly the best friends I've never met.  I thank God for them!

And so, I conclude by encouraging a visit to Blog Land where life is a bowl of cherries (or photos!).


***(Ta ta for now)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Binge Friday!

Life itself is the proper binge."  - Julia Child

I declare TODAY as Binge Friday.  I'm going to do what dear Julia suggests...binge on LIFE!  Live today to the VERY fullest!  I've always {{{LOVED}}} Fridays.  Especially as a working professional.  And, even now - as a stay at home wife, I have a sense of expectancy - oh....whatever are we going to do tonight?  My Friday fun usually begins when My Guy walks in the door after a hard week at work.  Since I am an early riser, I have 10.5 hours BEFORE he gets home.  What to do?  Where to add some oomph to my life?  Here's a start:

  1. I will use my Starbucks gift card and buy myself a treat.
  2. I will sharpen 24 Ticonderoga pencils and put them in a pretty vessel.
  3. I will steal away time to read 30 minutes of a guilty broad daylight.  (Whoa!)
  4. I will revel in watching Karen Leiker & Michael Stephens teach dance at my Cotillion class.
  5. I will go on a date with My Guy.
Ticonderoga No. 2 Soft Pencils, Twelve 24 Count Hang-Tab Boxes, Total 288 Pencils - (Wood-Cased, Black Writing) in Matte Black (13926)    Starbucks 16 Ounce Clear Insulated Tumbler   Twilight (The Twilight Saga, Book 1)  

I'm tagging a few fellow bloggers - I'd love to see what fun they put in their Fridays!

"Flops are part of life's menu and I'm never a girl to miss out on a course." (Rosalind Russell). 

This girl isn't missing a beat - on  Binge Friday!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

To Lent or Not...

I'm not Catholic, so never "Lented" when I was a youngster.  Not until 4 years ago, did I have the discipline to do ANYTHING for 40 days!!!!  #2 son had been sent off - by the law, mind you, not us.  But, it was all meant for good - as most things are.  It's hard to accept while IN it; but God knew I needed a  break. 
While driving that son to court, "Jesus Take the Wheel" came screaming on the radio.  No coincidence there. 

The next morning was the first day of Lent. was the first morning in oh, say 10 years that I had NO stress - aka #2 son.  Don't get me wrong, I loved my boy.  Unabashedly, unequivocally.  Speaking of "uns" - I was undone at this point, so much so, that a son sent away was acceptable.  God granted me the grace and peace to accept it.  And on top of that, I felt He was sending me to boot camp.  One of His design.  Lent.  40 days.  Obedience had NEVER been in my vocab.  "Lord, help me" had new meaning.

I was a closet candy consumer.  A sugar freak of no discernment.  It didn't matter if my fix was a fishbowl of M&Ms or the finest chocolates from Switzerland.  (Man, THAT was the wrong gift my brother brought one Christmas!!!).  I "met" a blogger yesterday, Clover Lane, who tells of her Lenten resolutions.  She's giving up the old sugar habit too.  I want her to know it CAN be done.  I've been sugar-free for 4 years now.  It is such a miraculous breakthrough for me that it had to be a God-thing.  I've had a statement of Beth Moore's taped to my daytimer since 2001"If you are about to do something so far out of the ordinary, that you could not do it without God, then it has God written all over it."  I focused on this back in '01 when I had to speak in public.  I think it applies to Lenten resolves too.

Wonder if Beth's mantra can help me this year?  My DVR schedule is full.  I spend too much time (wasting) my nights.  I'm going to give it a go - give up TV for 40 days.  If I say it here, out loud, I might manage...due to guilt.  I know - guilt is not of God.  Remember, obedience & Vava don't mix well.  If you pray, please pray for me (and Clover Lane).  I hope to spend more time reading, organizing, paying attention to what HE wants me to do.

(I'll let you know how I do and whether I decide to erase all the recorded shows...)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Suck That Marrow!

Winslow, around 1953/1954: Dad was back from Korea...he and Mom settled down in a tiny place in New Haven, Connecticut. I bet Mom dished these fish for dinner in a most delicious way.  As I posted earlier, my mother did everything well.  So my Dad STILL does at 78 years of age!  His life is out of a storybook - he travels extensively, hunts and fishes all over, reads voraciously, and charms most everyone he meets. 

(NOTE: the "layering" of silver & me!)

I have a (new) friend whose mantra I've adopted: "...suck the marrow from life!" After flipping through a tattered photo album this morning, it's obvious my parents did just that. As often as I said I didn't have much in common with Mom; I'm slowly changing my mind.  We're the same kind of different and it warms the cockles of my heart to realize this.  She's been gone a long time and on this day, I especially miss her.

So, I'm going to move on in this new decade and tackle it with gusto!  Just like my parents did.  It's pretty easy to do when married to My Guy, surrounded with the "durls" (aka girlfriends) in my life and two wacky Standard Poodles that melt my heart!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Sweet Memories

My name is Virginia and I am a recovering sugar-holic.  I state this in all seriousness - sugar was my crack.    Sugar was my made me happy.  Many a good memory is centered around food and the end result of dessert.

I love traditions and those grand women I hold so dear are often wrappped up sweetly by a tradition of their own.  Mimi - my extraordinary grandmother - had help so she wasn't in the kitchen.  But she loved a good sweet and one of her favorites was a lace cookie.  Mmm - the perfect crunch; light and delicate!

Next came Aggie, the grandmother in Texas that "adopted" me - she was my cousin's, but I latched onto her when we moved to the Panhandle.  Christmas & Aggie = Hershey Pudding.  Oh, vanilla ice cream has never been better dressed by this warm, gooey, thick chocolate sauce.   

My Mother had been a gourmet cook.  I have her cookbooks to prove it.

However, when she made the move that changed her life, she changed dramatically as well. She was not drinking the last 12 (???) years of her life and replaced her evening toddy with a chocolate chip cookie. How mundane, you say? Well...these tins were coveted by all. She would make a batch and bring them to whomever she visited. My oldest would see her drive up: "Here comes Mimi...and THE COOKIES!"

I wonder...what will I be remembered for?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Vava's Travels: Getting Giddy

July 2008:  Road Trip to Santa Fe (Part I)

The fashion show began in the driveway in Amarillo.  Really!? Who cares about looking like a fashion plate to drive for hours?  Four of my friends.

While tootling along a desert highway, we saw a HONKIN' bus and knew it had to be "someone."  At the truck stop, we asked.  It was Papa Roach!  Who?  Not on our playlist but after calling my #1 son, found they WERE known to others.  Said truck stop introduced "New Mexico" to us:  Indian goods and pottery.
We were starved for Tomasita's; however, a girl's gotta shop.  The first (unnecessary) purchases were $6.00 bracelets sold by a bearded lady.  We were favored by a great parking place.  At the Plaza, the parking gods once again blessed us.  And the hunt was on...for turquoise and the infamous "TC" bracelet.  Peach owned a bracelet I coveted and the initials "TC" were inscribed inside.  The Indians were selling their wares on the sidewalks - all shook their heads:  "No TC."  I was pretty disappointed.  Peach bought into the myth a copper bracelet to help her arthritis.
More shopping - Mac got a new wrap.  I bought a blue drop.  The store clerk was filled with joy and exuded peace.  She told us we must attend "Openings" - a Santa Fe event on Canyon Road, gave us directions, touched her heart and  blessed us with "namaste."  All the art galleries opened (hence "Openings") their doors and offered libations & SNACKS for free!!!

Mac loves to check out snacks as she is a caterer and fabulous cook.  Our favorite gallery was owned by Brad.  He wanted to paint a nude of Mac.  We made our own fun on the way down Canyon Road: laughing so hard we made fools of ourselves (again).  I spotted Rikki and Ralph Lauren!

On our travels we have a mantra "no chains."  Not even Starbucks....which led us the next day to a local espresso shop.  Two hippies manning the joint made ice iced coffees.  B+!  While sipping and chatting, a customer overheard us.  He was a jeweler and as fate would have it, told us he had a bracelet just like Peach's!!!!  The five of us (sort of) take over whatever space we're in.  The jewelry store was now ours.  An hour or more later, we left donning glorious arm candy.  Mine made me giddy.  The silver cuffs were officially named "Giddy."

The road trip continues....

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A Few of My Favorite Things!

Stella, Duke, a coveted bracelet, homemade spaghetti sauce, cappucino, sis-in-law, gifts from nature.
A few of my favorite things...

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Sybil 1950 at the age of 18. This might have been the year Dad met her...

Mom was decked for a costume party at The Maidstone Club in the Hamptons and I have a feeling she was sought after by a few men! This woman could do it all - she rode horses well, played tennis with gusto, joined the men for a shoot: whether duck, pheasant or grouse. She swam like a fish and loved TO fish, be it from the deck of a boat or wading in a stream. She cooked what she caught and presented a dish from the pages of Larousse Gastronomique. She thoroughly enjoyed reading, smoking Camel cigs, gardening, sunbathing, and swilling bourbon. Meet The Renaissance Woman in my life - my Mom!

My parents married at 19 while Dad was at Yale U. This event did NOT please an elopment in Tijuana, Mexico didn't sit well with the aristocrats of the East Coast. Aaaaah, young love. No one could stop them. They were a dashing couple and had so much in common. The Korean War interrupted their marriage and Dad's college life. He made it back safely and life resumed. I popped into the world in '55 while Dad was finishing his stint at Yale. My two brothers followed in in 1957 and 1958. The house was a full one - 3 kids, many dogs (bird dogs all), lots of parties. Remember, it was the wild '60s. (Just think "Mad Men," the TV show).

Dad took the train from Connecticut to the City. In the evenings, Mom would have a cocktail awaiting while the kids ate in the kitchen with "the help." They were married for 19 years - I don't need to go into the uglies. Suffice it to say - they were combustible.

Some have asked "why the move to Texas?" Mom's sister, Dear Aunt, had married a Texan. It was evident my mother wanted a new life. To start over. And so she the Panhandle of Texas - from a somewhat luxurious lifestyle to a simple, small life of a single mom with three children. Don't forget the dog and the snake.

Since this is Vava's View (mine!)...I recall that we handled it ok. It was much more difficult for Mom. Her life changed drastically and sadly she was the butt of the rumor mill. Yankees in Texas were odd. Mom hadn't worked in years and now she had to.

The next twelve years were contentious between Mom and I. But, thankfully the last fourteen years of her life our relationship healed and we learned to love one another for who we were. Both such very different women. I'd find her looking at me, shaking her head...and in the kindest way, she'd say: "I don't know where you came from." And I took that as a compliment.
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