Bubbly?

P1070547

Are you having a little bubbly for the New Year? I recently took a class about Champagne. It was a 2-weeker in November. It was fun to taste some different champagnes and learn about the process and what to look for when making a purchase.

Did you know that ~55% of the market is controlled by LVMH? Who’s that? Louis Vuitton / Moet Hennessy. They do make some great champagne. From what I learned, consistency is the name of the game there. If you pop open a bottle of Moet & Chandon, it will taste how you would expect it should. We also tasted “grower champagne.” In other words, made by the little producers.

I was going to write about how you could tell if your bottle of champagne was produced by one of the little guys. But it’s so much easier to have you link to an article already written by the guy who taught the class. Here’s a photo of where the itty-bitty “RM” is on my bottle.

P1070548

What do you eat with champagne? Pretty much anything. It’s one of the most versatile wines. But a great pairing is anything salty and deep-fried. Yes, we had potato chips with our champagne on the first night of the class. And do you need to serve it in a flute? Nope. In fact, it’s better to not serve it in a flute. That way you can smell it and let it warm up a little so you can taste it better. If you want to read some good articles about champagne, I’m suggesting to go to The Wine Company page with links to their champagne posts.

So no matter what you are doing tonight, bubbly or no bubbly. Have a wonderful New Year!

Evidence

P1070538

My sister’s family was here for a week, celebrating Christmas and my parents’ 50th Wedding Anniversary. They are making the long drive back today. But there is definitely evidence that they were here…

Inspired by a former student.

P1070508

One of my former students was posting what she was making for the holidays on Facebook. I had totally forgotten about these delicious little things. I had actually never made them before. The first time I had them was when a student gave me a little holiday care package and some of these were included. They’re not difficult to make, yet they are so good! I happened to have the recipe filed away. Again, I got it from another student. This must be a staple of the East Side, regardless of your race – Hmong, white, African – American, they all make them and eat them.

It’s just a package of Oreo cookies and a block of cream cheese. Mash up the Oreos into crumbly bits. Mix in a block of cream cheese (most easily done with your hands). Make little bite size balls. Dip them in almond bark. If you want to add a little decoration, drizzle chocolate or shake some sprinkles over the top. I made one batch with regular oreos and the second batch with the mint oreos. Each batch makes about 25 – 30 of those little balls.

And one of the best parts of living in the “north country” is that you don’t need any extra freezer space. Just set your pans in the garage when your done so the almond bark can solidify.

Racist?

A person who believes in racism, the doctrine that a certain human race is superior to any or all others.

In an effort to close the achievement gap, we are getting training on racial equity. So far the training has been a mish-mash of presenters, some more effective than others. So far, mine have all been district employees that have had some training from the consulting firm that was hired to help us out with this problem. We’ve been given these handy-dandy bookmarks to remind us about our “Courageous Conversations.”

Four Agreements: Stay ENGAGED, Experience DISCOMFORT, Speak your TRUTH, Expect/Accept NON-CLOSURE

Six Conditions: Focus on PERSONAL, local and immediate; ISOLATE race; Normalize SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION & multiple perspectives; Monitor agreements, conditions and ESTABLISH PARAMETERS; Use a “WORKING DEFINITION” for race; Examine the presence and role of “WHITENESS”

Years ago, we were told that we needed to be, in a sense, colorblind. Now we are told that we need to see color. I have always been interested in other cultures. I travel the world to learn about various places and people. I make a point to get to know my students. I’ve been invited to their homes for graduation parties, quincearenas, weddings, and various other celebrations. When I see a student, my first thought isn’t about their race. It’s about who they are as an individual and their distinct talents and needs.

I understand that it’s important to have a grasp of institutional racism and how I take for granted some things that I hadn’t realized. I am white. I can’t help that. I’ve grown up in a predominantly white culture. For the past 18 years, I’ve worked in a school that is not predominantly white. That’s what I like about it. I get to learn about cultures different from my own.

They tell me that the color of one’s skin seems to determine the success that one will have in our school district. They tell me that the socio-economic factors don’t matter. For example, comparing affluent white kids to affluent black kids, the white kids do better. And apparently the white kids do better than the Asian kids too. For some reason, I want to see that data. The ones that are at the bottom of the gap, what kind of supports do they have? What is their attendance record? Do they rely on the school for the majority of their meals? Have they bounced from school to school? Do they have supportive adults in their lives? There are so many possibilities as to why a student is doing poorly, that to narrow it down to the color of their skin seems an over-simplification. Maybe it’s just the logical person in me that can’t grasp it.

The thing that is most difficult about this “training” is that because I am a white lady, I am automatically labeled as racist. Do you have to call me a racist? I have done everything I can think of to NOT be the person in the definition at the top of this post. I’ve been thinking about this topic for a long time and haven’t written about it because I just don’t know how. But it is very disturbing to be assumed to be racist. I understand that I have had the benefit of white privilege. But does that make me racist? Isn’t there another word that could be used? The connotation of being racist is just so ugly. I see that according to the bookmark, I’ve supposedly agreed to experience discomfort. But did I agree to be a punching bag or a scape goat for the achievement gap? And this training seems to focus on just black/white issues. What about all of the others?

To me, this is a much bigger issue that can’t be broken down strictly by the color of one’s skin. There are so many factors that go into the success of a student. It seems trite to just say it’s a color thing. I can handle learning about what can be done to help narrow the gap. But do you have to call me a racist?

Does it really matter?

What is it? Appearance. As much as I want to say that it doesn’t matter, we all know that it does. We live in a visual world and first impressions only happen once.

I’ve found it quite interesting to see just how much the images of models and celebrities are airbrushed and photoshopped. Those articles with the before and after pictures get me every time. After looking at some recent stories, it’s no wonder that women have a poor sense of reality when it comes to their bodies. But the question remains, how much does your appearance really matter?

The reason I’m even writing about this is because I was at a board meeting this week, asking myself that question. I get that there are women who don’t wear make-up for various reasons. But if you don’t, how do you make sure you come across as a professional? There was a steady stream of people who came through our meeting. We had men from various investment firms, women from the auditor’s office, board members, office workers, etc. The thing that struck me that day was that the men paid more attention to their appearance than the women. I’m just talking about being well-groomed and wearing professional attire that fit correctly and was coordinated. The thing that seemed to make a difference was if they put forth effort or if (it seemed like) they didn’t.

If I’m going for a swim in the morning, I don’t get all gussied up to go to the pool. Or if I’m coming home from a workout (swim) and stop off at the grocery store, I’m looking au natural. But for me that means no make-up. I’m lucky in that my hair has a natural curl and I can easily stick my head under a dryer and it still looks decent. But since it’s winter, I tend to be wearing a hat anyway… But when I go to work, a board meeting, church, or just out and about, I’m always presentable. I’ve got my face on and I’m wearing appropriate clothing. Is it really that hard? I don’t think so. And it does make a difference in how people perceive you. People can tell if you put effort into your appearance. If you put forth effort for that, maybe you’ll put forth effort for whatever else comes your way.

I probably notice the “no make-up” thing because I’ve sold Mary Kay Cosmetics for several years. I’m not a Pink Cadillac gal, but I like the products and sustain a small clientele. Make-up doesn’t have to be difficult or intimidating. Here’s an easy solution for eyes… Pick a light color and apply from lash line to brow. Line the eyes with a basic eye-liner and add mascara. Add a favorite lipstick or gloss for a more finished look. No trick techniques to that!

P1070505

Mary Kay recently came out with nine cream eye colors. This works great for travel because it minimizes what you need to pack. The ones in the photo are apricot twist, pale blush and beach blonde. I’m not saying that every woman has to wear make-up. But if you’re afraid of trying it, you don’t need to be. It’s not expensive and it washes off if you hate it!

As much as I hate to admit it, appearance does matter. People make judgements all the time. Yes, many of them are wrong. But you never get a second chance to make a first impression.