Trip: Atlantic City

Atlantic City BeachEvery year in August, my mom’s side of the family gathers in Atlantic City to reunite and enjoy the beach. (Technically, we go to Margate, which is right next to Atlantic City.)

Packing

Don’t you always have trouble figuring out what you’ll ACTUALLY wear on a trip? I feel like I’m getting better at it, and this trip I brought almost exactly what I ended up needing.

It was really hot there, but I’m a chillbaby, and I always have to have a bunch of layers with me to keep warm in air conditioning, shade, late evening breezes, etc. It makes packing a special challenge for me, but I have my strategies.

Atlantic City Trip Outfits

Lots of layers and items I could mix and match. I considered packing a light, casual dress for really hot days, but I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to layer it well. In hindsight, it would have been helpful, but oh well. Next time. I also forgot a hat for the sun. Boo!

Notes on my favorite clothing items from this trip:

-My swimsuit is Modcloth’s Bathing Beauty Swimsuit in Cherry Pie, and it’s seriously the cutest dang thing. Buy it!

-The blue tube dress is so versatile, I wear it constantly, and I love it. I can wear it as pajamas, for getting ready in the morning/at night, as a beach cover-up, etc. I got it from Target a few years ago, but similar ones can be found all over the place.

-The pink long-sleeve shirt is THE GREATEST SHIRT EVER MADE. It’s from Alloy, and it’s really soft, has a nice neckline, a lovely ruching-cinch on one side, and thumb-holes! They’re available online (in various colors), though they’re currently sold out (I understand why!). Get it in their tall size, and it’s like a tunic!

-I had been searching for shoes that I could wear with casual skirts/dresses, but that I could also walk in for a while, but everything was either too casual for a dress, or uncomfortable, or just plain ugly.

Then these Roxy Rory Lace-Ups came into my life and the heavens opened up and the angels sang. They’re comfortable and cute, and they’re slip-ons! My mom had to listen to me gush about them for a little too long. They’re the best.

Trip Recap 

On our first full day, we visited Cape May, which is a quaint touristy town about an hour away. The town is a National Historic City, and all new construction has to meet aesthetic standards that match the charming antique look of the original buildings. So the whole town is like a dollhouse village.Cape May HousesOne interesting tidbit: Cape May is where Harriet Tubman lived, worked, and started the Underground Railroad.

We spent the next two days on the beach.

Atlantic City OceanAtlantic City DockFeet in OceanI found some great shells, including a conch. It has some holes, but I actually think that makes it look cooler.Sea ShellsWe took a walk along the beach to visit Lucy the Elephant, an elephant-shaped building that was originally built in 1881..for…reasons…?Lucy the ElephantWhile on the walk, I had a mini heart-attack when I stepped on something jellified. You know when you step on something you’re not expecting and your body just flips out?Moon JellyApparently it was a moon jelly, which is like a dying jellyfish. Myeah, with all due respect to this presumably lovely creature, I’m just not into that. But it was interesting. Coming from a land of lakes and no oceans, I don’t know much about the ocean, so it’s interesting learning things like this.

As a side note, I had 3 count ’em 3 cones of cherry ice cream during the trip. These east-coasters know how to do ice cream. YUUUUMMMMCherry Ice CreamIt was a really fun trip of family and sun, but it’s nice to be back home.Jane and Me

Recipe: Everything Cookies

Everything Cookies 2Attachment-1 (6)These are now my go-to cookie. They are so easy and freakin delicious, there’s nothing not to like! I’m calling them “Everything Cookies” because basically everything people like is in them (chocolate, coconut, nuts, oatmeal, raisins), and because once you bite into them, you will say, “These cookies are everything!”Attachment-1 (1) - CopyThis is the third batch of these that I’ve made this summer because they were such a hit. I originally made them because I needed a gift for Father’s Day, and my dad had been talking about these “ranger cookies” he got somewhere that would have been perfect if not for the butterscotch chips. So I did some research, and then basically made cowboy cookies with raisins.

Attachment-1 (7)My family went nuts (ha) for them, and my parents commissioned another batch a couple weeks later. My mom’s birthday was Saturday, so I decided to make them again.

Attachment-1 (8)Here’s the recipe!

I just used this recipe for Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies, and then added some other stuff.

Ingredients
-1 cup butter, softened
-1 cup packed light brown sugar
-1/2 cup white sugar
-2 eggs
-2 tsp vanilla extract
-1 1/4 flour
-1/2 tsp baking soda
-1 tsp salt
-3 cups quick cooking oats
-1 cup chopped pecans
-1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
-1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
-1 cup raisins/craisins (I use both)

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; stir into the creamed mixture until just blended. Mix in the oats, pecans, coconut, raisins/craisins, and chocolate chips. Drop by heaping spoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets.
  3. Bake for 12 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Bonus: They keep for a surprisingly long time (if you can stop yourself from eating them at once). Usually homemade cookies get crumbly or hard after a day or two, but these stay soft and chewy for a couple of weeks (kept in a sealed container)!

Book Report!

I use my Kindle for almost all book buying now, and I had been neglecting my shelf of hard-copy books that I had collected pre-Kindle, so I decided to try to make it through all of them over summer break (I work in a school). Most of the books in this post are from my hard-copy pile. I haven’t read them all yet, but I’m close!

Please Stop Helping Us

I work in a school with a majority of black students, so I’m always interested in learning more about how to best serve them. I’ve been frustrated at times with the way my school “helps” our students so much that we end up doing a lot of things for them that they can and should be doing for themselves, especially considering that we are a high school and our students need to be preparing for their imminent entrance into “the real world.”

So I was intrigued by the title of this book, and wanted to see if it would validate my perspective. And it does, I suppose, but it’s written by a conservative Republican (black) man, who was a little too quick to use the word “liberal” as a slur for my taste. I am skeptical about the author’s perspective and motivation, and would very much like to read something that responds to his specific claims. He uses a lot of data to support his arguments, which I appreciated very much, but data can be found that supports anything, so I’m not swallowing it blindly. Overall, I thought it made decent arguments, but I’d like to hear others’ responses to it.Love Saves The DayI read this author’s previous book, Homer’s Odyssey, which was a true story about a blind cat’s experience living in New York City when 9/11 occurred just a few blocks from his apartment. It was very interesting, and the author clearly knows a lot about cats. This book was about a cat who tries to settle into a new life when her previous owner passes away, and the cat is transferred to a new home. It was sweet, funny, heartbreaking, and heartwarming. I know it sounds silly because it’s about a cat, but I don’t care! Hangman's DaughterAn interesting book very loosely based on the author’s ancestor, an executioner in a small town in Germany in the 1660s. It’s written as a mystery: we’re trying to figure out who’s killing the town’s children and why. It was good, I enjoyed it.For White FolksThis was required reading for my job, and it seemed like it might be a decent complement to  “Stop Helping Us”, and it kind of was, but the two books aren’t really in the same conversation. This book is more like a curriculum guide for teachers, with specific ideas for how to engage black students and how to leverage the strengths of black culture and youth culture for use in the classroom. I was trained as a counselor, not a teacher, so I felt like I need more information/training in order to actually implement these suggestions successfully, but it stirred up some good ideas and thoughts.
As You WishThe Princess Bride is one of my favorite movies, and this book, written by the actor who played Westley, is a look behind the scenes of the making of the movie. It was really charming, and funny, and had the same spirit as the movie itself.

Lies My Teacher Told MeI’ve been wanting to study history for a while, since I don’t know much of it, and I feel like I didn’t learn it at all in school. It’s hard to know where or how to begin, though! But this book was meant as a start. It intends to present many aspects of American history that K-12 history classes misrepresent, omit, or just totally lie about. I found especially interesting its indictment of text books and the text book industry, which are essentially corrupt and awful. Who knew! Very interesting book.

Funny GirlMy dad gave me this book because, apparently, he read it himself solely because he likes Hornby, and he was done with it, and figured I might as well take it off his hands. 🙂 It was okay. It’s about a woman trying to make it as a movie star in London in the 1960s.

Wolf HallUgh, so boooooorrrrrrring. I had heard great things about this book, which follows Thomas Cromwell’s experiences with the Tudor family, as Henry VIII was trying to divorce Catherine so that he could finally bed wed Anne Boleyn. I’ve seen the show The Tudors, so I already knew all of the plot. Maybe if I hadn’t, this would have been more interesting. Maybe. Possibly not. It’s an interesting story, but this book did not do it justice. But a lot of people apparently like it, so what do I know.FoodJim Gaffigan is a comedian who has a lot of jokes about how much he loves food, and this book is kind of a compilation of all of those jokes. I had already heard the jokes, so it wasn’t that entertaining, but whatevs, it was okay.

Augie MarchOof, no. Again, I had heard good things about this book, but it was really really boring. The Adventures of Augie March? More like the boring, every day nothingness of this wet noodle. Augie March is a guy growing up in Chicago during the Depression, and he gets various part-time jobs, lives in various places with different people, goes out with various girls, and that’s pretty much it. There was a mildly interesting part toward the end where he tries to train an eagle in Mexico, but for the most part, it was a waste of time.