Tuesday, August 31, 2010


My husband and I started carpooling to work together when we worked in the same building. It also helped that gas was over $4.00 a gallon at the time. Once gas dropped back down to a semi reasonable price, we continued to carpool. Now we work in different buildings but we still carpool. I drop him off, then I drop our son off at day school and then I go to work. Some of our friends think it is sweet. Some of our friends think it is weird.

I love carpooling. We have some of our best conversations in the car. In the mornings, we are all business at the house. We are trying to get the three of us out the door with all our clothes on, two of the same shoes on the right set of feet, and all the stuff in the car (not on top of the car). It is a wonderful, mostly relaxing time for the family to talk about what is going to be happening during the day (on the way to work) and what happened (on the way home from work). We often have dinner planned out before we get home so there is no staring blankly inside the pantry or refrigerator.

But now my son thinks that Mommy stays in the car all day - from the time I drop him off to the time I pick him up. My mom asked Will the other day what happened during his day. He told her that we dropped Daddy off at work and saw boxcars (my husband works next to an industrial park that uses boxcars for tranport). Then my mom asked him if Mommy when to work. And he said "No, Mommy's car." So apparently he thinks that once I drop him off at school, I just get in my car and stay there until I come and pick him up from school. Funny as a child's mind works.

Monday, August 30, 2010

A Boy Named Fisho

Last week my husband started singing the BINGO song to our son. He would sing and Will would mumble along until he finally got the words. So one day as they were singing, my husband asked Will what his name was and Will responded very proudly "Fisho."

My husband sang the song.

"There was a man who had a son and Fisho was his name-o.
And Fisho was his name-o."

Will knows his name but for right now, he is happy to be Fisho.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


Today I watched a fabulous documentary on the fashion designer, Valentino. Such a visionary. Truly the last of the breed that included Chanel, Halston, Yves Saint Laurent, and Givenchy. I wish the documentary had been more about his life as a designer and the iconic pieces he designed for Audrey Hepburn and Jackie Kennedy. It was more about his last 2 collections before he retired from haute couture. It was about how corporate high fashion has become - about takeovers and fragrances and handbags. But they did do a lot of filming in the work rooms where the army of seamstresses delicately thread beads and make ruffles and stitch every little tiny stitch by hand. Valentino may be the creative force behind his own name but the seamstresses are the machine that make it happen. His partner of 45 years (both in business and life) said that they once bought a sewing machine but none of the women used it, so they never bought another one.

45 years of Valentino Red
The documentary also highlighted a 45 year retrospective with a party of 200,000 (if I understood the Italian translation right) and a display of his vintage pieces at Ara Pacis in Rome. Hamish Knowles, who curated the Jackie O show at the Costume Institute at the Met in New York, worked on this retrospective as well.

I had heard that the documentary showed Valentino in an unfavorable light. That he was a diva and prima donna. There were a few diva moments but if I had a camera crew following me around for a year, I would have a moment or two as well.

Excellent documentary. If you enjoy fashion, this is one for you.

Dresses for the Girl in Pants

For most of my life I have hated dresses. I am a pants and blue jeans kind of gal. I don't consider myself a feminine girl. Fashionable or trendy at times but not feminine. Don't get me wrong - I am not a tomboy. I was never good at sports. I like the occasional ruffle. I wear pink on a regular basis. I occasionally daydream about little blue boxes with the perfectly tied white bow. But I'm not a big fan of the dress!

My mom LOVES dresses. She thinks blue jeans are horrible and rough to the skin. She wears more pants now than she used to but mainly because we have a hard time finding belted dresses for her petite frame. When I was about 5 or 6 years old, we went to Dillard's to shop for an Easter dress. This was when Park Plaza was still a shopping center with a bowling alley, waterfall and the fish pond (if you have lived in Little Rock long enough, you remember!). It was the early 80s and I wanted a cool drop waist dress. I think it had a bow around the drop waist but no ruffles or lace. I'm pretty sure it was pink. Girly, right? My mom picked out a ruffled explosion that make me look like a midget square dancer. And it was a weird mauvey, taupe color. And a bolero jacket. I hated that dress. I think I ended up wearing it several times because my mom loved it so much. Needless to say my true rebellion in high school was my refusal to wear dresses and thanks to the revolution called Grunge, I purchased a pair of mail man shoes from the local Army surplus store. My mother called me her son, Heath.

So why do I now own half a closet full of skirts? I have bought more skirts in the last five months than I have owned in my adult life. And I wear them! The next thing you know, I'll be knitting myself a skirt. Maybe it is my way of growing up. I no longer need to rebel against my mother.  I can embrace my feminine side. I can love my legs and be comfortable with them. Quite an achievement for 36, right?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Morning ride with my boys

My new bike.
When I was pregnant, one of my biggest fears was not being able to sleep-in anymore after the baby came. I know - it is a weird thing to worry about but I think most pregnant women worry about odd things. Now sleeping-in for me was 8am at the latest on a Saturday or Sunday but I'm one of those people that needs every minute of sleep I can get. I also used to fashion myself a "night person" so the thought of being up before 7am was a nightmare for me.

Now my favorite time of day is the morning. Early morning - from 6am to 8am. Especially on the weekends. Don't get me wrong - I would like to be able to sleep until 7:30 and on the rare occasion when that happens, it is bliss. But I like the quiet of the neighborhood and the cooler temperatures. I can relax and not worry about all the household chores that need to be done.

Will in his trailer.
This morning Will was up at 5:30am thanks to the cat. So we were up as well. By 7am we were loading the bikes and heading to North Little Rock to ride the River Trail. The trail is a whole system of bike trails running about 22 miles on the Little Rock and North Little Rock sides of the river. The connecting point is the Big Dam Bridge over Murry Lock and Dam just west of downtown Little Rock. We don't ride over the dam yet so we drive to North Little Rock and ride on that side. Eventually we will be in shape enough to cross the bridge but that will take a lot of riding.

My husband and I bought new bikes this summer and Will rides behind one of us in a little trailer. He can have  his books, toys, and snacks as we ride along and he doesn't get bored. I was against the trailer at first because they are expense and I thought one of those seats behind the rider would be just fine but the guy at the bike shop convenience us that the trailer was better and he was right.

Great Blue Herron
The weather has been so cool here that in the shady spots, I could have had jeans on and not get hot. We saw a white crane and a great blue heron. We saw beautiful bales of hay and hear birds, trains and airplanes. A small flock of Canadian geese flew over at one point. The ride was so lovely. We stopped and took pictures and enjoyed the low humidity. It was a rare treat for an Arkansas August. It was a wonderful 7 mile ride and a great being to a family day.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Cigarettes and Knitting

My hands knitting.
I am not one of those knitters that learned how to knit at her grandmother's knee. I don't even know if either of my grandmothers knew how to knit. My great aunt on my mother's side crocheted and she tried to teach me once but she got so frustrated I think it damaged our relationship forever.

So if I didn't learn to knit at the knee of some old relative, how did I learn? Well, I simply taught myself. See here is the story. I was a smoker (I know bad habit) and I loved smoking. I used to call it my one true vice. I was addicted in more than just a physical sense. I felt cool when I was smoking. There is something that makes beer and wine better and it is called a cigarette. Like many I started in high school but unlike many high schoolers, I wasn't social smoker. Boy, this is making me want a cigarette right now.

Anyway, about 6 years ago I wanted to quit. It was getting way too expense (even though the price had long since been past my "I'm going to quit when cigarettes are $xxx" price). So I decided to teach myself to knit. The logic here is that if I'm using both hands to do something, then I don't have a third hand to hold a cigarette. I bought a "Teach Yourself to Knit" book and sat on my couch for about 6 hours straight learning to cast on and do the knit stitch. Did I mention that I have an obsessive tendency - when I set my mind to something, I can spend hours doing nothing else.

After a few boring scarves, I tackled Fair Isle with much success.

At first, I would knit and then put down the needles to smoke a cigarette. Then I learned to temporarily hold the yarn and needles in one hand while smoking in the other. At times, I held the cigarette in my mouth while I knitted a few stitches. I wish I had a picture of that. The more I knitted the less I smoked but I was still a smoker.

It wasn't until I meet the man I would marry that I completely quit. He wasn't a smoker and the more I was around him the less I smoked. But I've "stayed quit" because of my knitting. Knitting is relaxing and yarn is soothing. I can channel my obsessive nature into my knitting. There are lots of accessories to purchase (another obsession). There are local yarn shops to visit while on vacation or traveling instead of looking for the discount tobacco store. I have wonderful new friends because of my knitting and I have dreams of one day owning my own yarn shop and/or designing my own hand knits. Knitting is like history to me - you can never know it all. It is a continuing education about stitches and design structure; old techniques and new innovation; and yarn, yarn and more yarn. It is a hobby that can travel in your purse and be with you during all the waiting we Americans seem to do. Hurry up and wait as my dad always says. But while I am waiting, I think I'll knit for a while.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Ozro Pasta Salad

For lunch today I had one of my favorite summer treats - Orzo Pasta Salad. It is a modification of a pasta salad I had from Catering to You in Little Rock, a roasted tomato recipe from the Barefoot Contessa and a pasta salad recipe by Rachel Ray. It is simple and light and perfect for summer. It is not my husband's favorite so more for me.

To make it, you need the following ingredients:
  • Bag or box of orzo (preferably not whole wheat)
  • Barefoot Contessa Roasted Plum Tomatoes
  • Container of kalamata olives
  • Container of feta cheese
  • Pine nuts
  • Fresh basil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
Here's how to make it.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees (for tomatoes). Cut plum or roma tomatoes in half and remove seeds with fingers. Place tomatoes on foil covered baking sheet cut side up. Sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper then drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Place baking sheet on middle rack in oven and roast for about 45 minutes.

Cook orzo pasta according to package instructions in boiling water with salt and olive oil.

Gently toast pine nut is small pan over low heat.

Roughly chop kalamata olives and feta cheese. Roll basil leaves like a cigar and slice.

Once tomatoes are done, remove skin and roughly chop.

When all ingredients have been prepared, you can assemble the pasta salad. Start with warm, drained orzo in a large bowl. Drizzle about 2 tablespoons of olive oil over pasta and stir to distribute. Add feta cheese, olives, pine nuts, and basil. Stir until all ingredients are distributed. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately or refrigerate in an air tight container for up to 1 week. Makes an excellent side dish or can be served as an entree.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What's with the name?

Blogging has intrigued me for years. As a historian, the thought of having a place to record the random musing of an ordinary person is fascinating. I did the majority of my graduate work using letters and diaries to better understand the lives of people long dead - to better understand how people lived in the past. So much was in those letters and diaries but so much was missing as well. I haven't written a personal letter since college. Blogging is the letter writing of the 21st century. Since I'm a voyeur into the lives of people long gone (by reading their letters and trying to make sense of their lives), I figure it is only appropriate that I write letters of my own to invisible faces. This is my experiment.

Let me explain the title of my blog. No my name is not Breckinridge. I'm not even related to anybody named Breckinridge (as far as I know). So why the title "Breckinridge Diaries" instead of some random title like "Thoughts While Driving" or "Musing of a Female Historian" (all early contenders)? I wrote my Master's Thesis on a woman named Katherine Carson Breckinridge. She was born in 1851 and died in 1921. You will read more about her later but it was during the thesis writing process that I first thought about blogging. There were random thoughts and random roads of research that I traveled down and I wanted to place to record them. I was never a good diarist because I am a horrible speller. Emails and Facebook didn't seem to fill the need.

My blog will be about me and my random thoughts - the things I'm learning on this wonderful journey called life. I've been told that I'm a good storyteller although my stories tend to be long. My musing will include my passion for knitting, my passion for history, my passion for cooking and my passion for literature. Occasionally I will write about my 2 year old son and my wonderful husband. I don't expect to become famous from this blog because the sole reason for doing it is for myself.

I hope you enjoy the read!