Take the Time to Take the Walk 27 Apr 2016, 11:00 pm
Every semester, on the last day of class, I invite my students to go for a walk with me. It’s a short walk, usually just a lap around our loop-shaped hallway. I let the scuff of my cowboy boots on the tile floor lead the way.
As we depart, I give the students two rules. I ask them not to talk, and I tell them, “Notice things.”
The purpose of the exercise, which I do on the first day of class as well as the last, is to set a metaphor that I build my entire teaching philosophy around: “Take the time to take the walk.” The walk serves as a metaphor for writing, which we talk about after taking the walk for the first time. Then I reinforce that throughout the semester, in every class, for four years.
The walk is about paying attention to detail, about going through your paper more than once, about finding your voice, about noticing things your peers don’t notice and noticing things they do. It’s about not falling prey to complacency. It’s about walking at your own pace, in your own direction, to notice the things that only you can notice.
On their walk on the last day of class, I also ask the students to notice how much they have each changed since taking the walk at the start of the semester. They are different people now than they were at the start of the semester, and vastly different than they were at the start of the year, when some of them walked with me during their very first class of their college careers.
In a couple weeks, a few of my students will walk across the graduation platform. They’ll get their diplomas and a handshake from the university president, and then they’ll toss their caps in the air. And then they’ll walk off into the world.
If they take any lesson with them, it’s that I hope they’ll always remember to take the time to take the walk.
Take Me Out to the Ballgame 27 Apr 2016, 3:47 am
Baseball season has officially started, which also means summer is around the corner with cook-outs and hang-outs. As America’s favorite pastime, baseball makes a great theme for any summer parties, with easy décor, food items, favors and so much more.
Here are a few ideas to get you start with your summer party:
“HOT DOGS! GET YOUR HOT DOGS!”
Offering a hot dog station at your party is a great way for guests to feel like they’re at the ball park. Give guests many fun options to choose from beyond your basic condiments: salsa, bacon, chili, jalapeno slaw, corn avocado relish, etc. It will have their mouths watering.
THE GOLDEN GLOVE COCKTAIL
A close cousin to the daiquiri, after a few of these cocktails your guests singing the 7th inning stretch in no time.
2oz white Rum
1 tsp cointreau
.5oz lime juice
1 tsp sugar
Add all the ingredients to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake and strain into a rocks glass with crushed ice. Garnish with a lime half-wheel.
OUT OF THE PARK
For centerpieces, you can get creative with baseballs, bats, gloves, green paper shreds, or faux grass to give the baseball field feel. And no baseball game would be complete without peanuts or Cracker Jacks, so they are must during your party.
Happy baseball season!
We’re Jammin’ 19 Apr 2016, 11:00 pm
Since I met my (eventually) fiancé in high school, I got to grow up with his family and be a part of many family traditions, which we try to carry on to this day. One of my favorite spring traditions is strawberry picking! Even though it seems we always end up going on the hottest day in May, we all go together to find the best, juiciest strawberries of the season.
Over the last couple of years, we’ve been going to Millers Farm in Culpeper for our strawberries. You can follow their Facebook page for updates about the strawberries—and it looks like we only have a few more weeks until they’re ready. Just bring some sunscreen unless you want to be as red as the strawberries!
Last year, we picked close to 30 pounds of strawberries and made more than two batches of jam plus eight pies. Nothing beats homemade jam to have for breakfast on toast or even with a peanut butter sandwich! We currently have only six more jars left at my house, so I’m glad we’ll be gearing up to go picking here soon.
Here are the Wards’ recipes for some strawberry goodness! Enjoy!
First, we went to Walmart to purchase our mason jars (but feel free to buy from anywhere!). We just felt they were the cheapest since mason jars can be a little pricey.
Second, yes, you have to wash and cut the stems off each strawberry. I wish there was an easier way, but hey, grab a bottle of wine/beer and play some jams while jamming! Literally, that is your next step; you jam the strawberries with a muddle or whatever you have at your house.
Next, you have to cook the strawberries with sugar and pectin in a large pot. We use Kraft Certo fruit pectin for this step, as it seems to hold up better. You can find the exact recipe with ingredients on the fruit pectin box or its website.
While your strawberries are cooking, boil your mason jars and lids. This helps seal them so they’ll last longer in storage. Once you have the jam in the jar and you seal the lids on tight, flip the jars upside down for a few minutes.
Finally, we decided to add little labels to our jelly jars—especially the ones we shared with family and friends!
My boyfriend’s birthday is in May, so we serve strawberry pie along with a cake for his birthday because we love it so much!
First, buy a pre-made piecrust (unless you’re way better at cooking than I am to make piecrust from scratch). Brown the crust and let it cool.
Combine (2/4 C) sugar, (2 TB) cornstarch and (1 C) water until smooth. Bring to a boil and cook for a few more minutes until it thickens. Remove from the heat and add a box of strawberry Jello until dissolved.
However many strawberries you want in your pie, make sure to wash them, cut the stems, and slice the pieces into sizes you prefer, then arrange them in the crust. Pour the gelatin mixture over the berries. Refrigerate until it sets.
Of course, we like to garnish with cool whip and ready whip! We’re a house divided.
So this strawberry season, enjoy jamming or making pies, and maybe you’ll start a fun family tradition too!
Menu Cards with Sweet Words & Good Food 18 Apr 2016, 11:00 pm
A recent couple took a literary bent with the menu cards for their reception. On the backs of their menus, they included excerpts from Walt Whitman’s “Song of the Open Road” and “A Poem of You, Whoever You Are” and Robert Frost’s “The Master Speed.”
And for those of you curious about Chef Brad’s menu for the day, here’s what he cooked up:
- Classic Caesar salad with parmesan croutons
- Roasted chicken served over a bed of sweet potato, apple hash, and sweet peppers with apple cider beurre blanc
- Seared beef sirloin garnished with a port wine butter sauce
- Risotto milanesa with white wine, parmesan, and saute of seasonal vegetables
And the groom’s father added the wedding cake, a combination of bananas foster and chocolate mocha!
Welcome Back, Turtles! 17 Apr 2016, 11:00 pm
We were pleased to welcome some of our favorite repeat visitors to Stevenson Ridge this weekend. The water in our pond has warmed up enough that our turtles have resurfaced for the season! We have several red-eared sliders that make their home in the pond, and on occasion, we see a big snapper.
The turtles love to crawl up on the base of the fountain to sun themselves. They look like extra lumps on the metal disk (above). Sometimes they crawl onto the grass along the edge of the pond, but if anyone gets too close, they quickly “plunk!” back into the water.
Fredericksburg Brewfest on Tap this Weekend 14 Apr 2016, 11:00 pm
The Spring 2016 Brewfest is just around the corner—coming shortly after National Beer Day. This fun event, with craft beers, music and food, will be held on Saturday, April 16, from 11-6 p.m. at the Fredericksburg Fairgrounds off Rt. 2. The gates will open at 11 a.m.
More than 40 craft brewers from all over the region will be on hand to offer samples of some of their best beers. They will also pour some of their favorites as a sneak peek into what will be on tap for 2017. For those who prefer a glass of wine or whiskey, a limited number of VA wineries and distilleries will be giving samples, too.
Live home brewing demonstrations will be provided by the Brew Shop, so make sure to grab a seat and enjoy the demonstration on how to brew at your own home.
Live music from Jackson Ward as well as Big Rob will be on the main stage during the event.
For the beer enthusiast, you might want to check out their VIP tickets for the event. They have a designated tent just for their “Limited Release/Tasting Room Only” brews from a few award-winning breweries. This will give you access to at least 8 exclusive beers on tap during the event, plus complimentary water and soda, access to a seating area, and a $5 food voucher.
Bring your friends, family, neighbor, co-workers to join this big BEER event. Please remember to drink responsibly and plan ahead! This event supports Community Outreach Inc.
To buy tickets or see the list of breweries, click here. Tickets start at $30 in advance.
Courthouse Village Food Truck Rodeo 13 Apr 2016, 11:00 pm
Spotsylvania Court House Village is hosting their first Food Truck Rodeo this Saturday!
On Saturday, April 16, from 11-3 p.m., the local shopping area will be filled with food trucks and other food vendors with a wide selection of cuisines. The event itself is free, but food will be available to purchase from the vendors.
While eating as much variety of food you can, visit the local shops in the village and listen to live music by a local group, Grassland Bluegrass Band. The festivities will be held rain or shine (but right now, it’s looking like plenty of “shine” in the forecast).
Food trucks will be competing for “people’s choice,” so be sure to come out and support your favorite! Voting ends at 2:30 p.m. Tables are available for the afternoon, but you’re welcome to bring a blanket or chair.
Make sure to check out this new event and try some delicious food this Saturday, April 16. To learn more information, visit VisitySpotsy.com/food-truck-rodeo.
Good luck, Erin! 5 Apr 2016, 11:00 pm
Please join us in wishing the best of luck to Erin Terapane, our wedding coordinator extraordinaire. We’re sad to share the news that, after two and a half years, Erin is leaving Stevenson Ridge—but we’re excited for her, too! She had a wonderful career opportunity present itself to her that will also allow her to spend more time with her family (particularly her adorable little 2-year-old). It’s impossible to say “no” to something like that!
Erin has been a favorite among brides, and her eye for innkeeping tops everyone. We’re sad to see her go, but we know this will be a great move for her. Please join us in wishing her all the best in her new adventure: Good luck, Erin!
A Nice-Looking Tasting 4 Apr 2016, 11:00 pm
Here’s a look at the tempting selections Chef Brad put together for a recent menu tasting for one of our brides:
shrimp ceviche—citrus-marinated shrimp with garlic and aromatic vegetables
bruchetta—tomatoes with balsamic vinegar and fresh basil
sweet and sour meatballs
Spinach and strawberry salad—with feta, candied pecans finished with a lemon poppy seed vinaigrette
jerk-spiced salmon—with mango chutney
roasted red potatoes—with fresh herbs
blanched broccoli—tossed in a lemon butter sauce
Chris Publishes New Book, “Seizing Destiny” 3 Apr 2016, 11:00 pm
Congratulations to our historian-in-residence, Chris Mackowski, whose latest book project is now available. Seizing Destiny: The Army of the Potomac’s “Valley Forge” and the Civil War Winter that Saved the Union was a collaborative writing project with Stafford County historian Al Conner, Jr.
Seizing Destiny looks at the grim winter of 1862-63 that the Union army spent in Stafford County—and the remarkable transformation it underwent, from the brink of collapse to a fighting force finally able to achieve victory.
“Al put together an amazing body of research, and I was fortunate enough to be asked to come in and help him get it into shape for publication,” Chris explains. “I was able to round out the book with some research of my own, but really, it’s Al’s book. He has broken some really cool new ground with this.”
The book fills a gap in the Civil War literature, touching on a period of the war few people have written about. “Al saw this as not just a chapter of the army’s history to skip over but as a major transformative period for the army—something no one else has really addressed,” Chris says. “He positions this as one of the most important non-combat turning points of the war, and he has the research to back it up. It’s pretty groundbreaking.”
Seizing Destiny—which runs 370 pages with notes and bibliography and is available in hardcover—is published by Savas Beatie. It’s available from the publisher and on Amazon, and will soon be available in local bookstores.