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Posts Tagged ‘Thomas Jefferson’

Unique Belgique Waffles

Unique Belgique Waffles with fruity goodness

I don’t just make this stuff up, you know (not all of it, anyway). And this is official; I got a press release and everything: As part of All American Breakfast Month, National Waffle Week (September 2nd – 8th) is devoted just to waffles!

How fun is that? The nice people at Unique Belgique, who know a thing or three about waffles, sent me some interesting waffle factoids:

• Waffles got their start in the Middle Ages as wafer cakes or crisps made of flat bread.

(I’m picturing a knight in a suit of armor chowing down on a buttery waffle…the extra butter would have been handy to oil his suit’s joints. Mind you, I don’t know if butter was combined with waffles in the Middle Ages, but it’s a fun image, don’t you think?)

• Waffle cones filled with ice cream started at the St. Louis World Fair in 1904 when an ice cream vender ran out of cups and asked a nearby waffle maker for help.

(That 1904 World Fair was a high point in culinary innovation that has not been rivaled since.)

• Thomas Jefferson brought a waffle iron from France and held parties known as “Waffle Frolics” in the White House!

(Of course he did. Tom was a serious Francophile and he loved ingenious toys. But who wouldn’t want to attend a “Waffle Frolic”? I may start calling all my dinners “frolics” as in “Would you like to come over for a Pizza Frolic? A Peanut Butter and Jelly Frolic? A Leftovers Frolic?”)

• General Electric invented the electric waffle iron in 1911, making waffles an easy, at-home meal made from cheap ingredients like flour and eggs!

(God bless GE that really was an awesome invention. And in 1911 yet, when a lot of people didn’t even have electricity in their homes.)

• “Belgian Waffles” are actually an American creation! Based on Brussels Waffles, the U.S. version is denser and thinner than the Brussels version.

(I believe “English muffins” are American, too. And I know Danish—the kind with, say, cream cheese in the middle—do not come from Denmark. That’s good ol’ American ingenuity at work.)

• Waffles in Hong Kong are known as “grid cakes” and come in flavors like chocolate, honey melon and peanut butter!

(Chocolate and/or peanut butter: yes, please. Honey melon: I think I’ll pass.)

I remember my father telling a story about one of his co-workers who ordered waffles with ice cream on top. At the time (the early seventies, I believe) this was considered wildly eccentric. Now adding odd things to one’s waffle is par for the course. For example, I understand that chicken and waffles is considered a southern delicacy. I’ve never eaten such a thing, but in honor of National Waffle Week I think it’s time to remedy that. I’ll have a review later this week.

Until then, happy waffling!

Note: the folks at Unique Belgique sent me the info and photo for this post, but no money (or waffles) changed hands.

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There’s a 40% chance of rain today, which means it’s a perfect day to stay indoors. As the employee of a publishing company I probably shouldn’t say this, but while there are many, many books I need to read, there are not all that many I need to own. Sorry! Just keeping it real. The rest of you need to buy lots of books, OK? Preferably those published by Thomas Nelson.

Sexy Librarian? by Coldwater Creek

Sexy Librarian? by Coldwater Creek


Where was I? Oh yes, the library. That would be the Library of Congress, the largest library in the world. (I get a little giddy thinking about that.) This is my idea of a cool—dare I say sexy?—librarian outfit. If I had actually finished my MLS instead of dropping out when I a) ran out of money and b) got a job I really liked, this is what I’d like to think I’d wear to work at my state-of-the-art public library. Instead, I’ll (virtually) wear it to the grandaddy of all U.S. public libraries.

The Library of Congress (LOC) was established in 1800; the British proceeded to burn it down 15 years later. But (cue heroic music) Thomas Jefferson saved the day by selling his personal library (more than 6,000 volumes) to the feds for $23,950. Not chump change, but a bargain nonetheless. Get this: his bookshelves were also boxes, so when the books arrived, they were already in order. Tom may have had his issues (don’t we all?) but dang, that man was brilliant.

There is WAY more to this place than books—and if you arrive expecting to see rows of shelves a la your local library, you’re in for a surprise. Books are brought out by request and must be referenced in the library; you can’t check them out. You can virtually turn the pages of Thomas Jefferson’s books, zoom in on architectural features, and much more via kiosks located throughout the building. It’s a very high-tech place! But I’m getting ahead of myself. First, let’s see how it looks:

The Great Hall Photography by Carol M. Highsmith

The Great Hall Photography by Carol M. Highsmith


See what I mean? As their site says, “When its doors opened to the public in 1897, the Library of Congress represented an unparalleled national achievement, the “largest, costliest, and safest” library in the world.”

Detail from Giant Bible of Mainz

Detail from Giant Bible of Mainz

Gutenberg Bible

Gutenberg Bible

In the Great Hall are two Bibles: the Giant Bible of Mainz, which represents the end of handwritten manuscripts and a Gutenberg Bible, representing the beginning of the printed word. Both were produced in the same city during the same period. The “giant” Bible is 22” x 16”. Imagine hauling that to church every Sunday!

As a singer, I naturally have to visit the Gershwin exhibit. They have manuscript and printed music, lyric sheets and librettos . . . it’s all I can do not to indulge in a little min-concert. What is it about this town that makes me want to sing? I am in a library, however, so I restrain the impulse yet again, and wander off with “Someone to Watch Over Me” playing in my head.

Bob Hope

Bob Hope

The “Bob Hope and American Variety” exhibit is fun, too. He was the speaker at my college graduation (Oral Roberts University) and I somehow scored a seat on the front row for the ceremony. Thanks for the memories, Bob!

Gosh, I haven’t even gotten to the second floor yet. There are all sorts of important historical documents and things to talk about, but in the interest of time I suggest you just go see for yourself: http://www.loc.gov/index.html

Meanwhile, I have to get back to the hotel—Jill just called (you remember Jill, from the opera last Saturday). She and Paula, another friend, decided I was having too much fun here on my own and flew in to DC as a surprise this morning! I’m going to meet up with them and we’ll all go exploring this afternoon. Later!

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Cute & casual, or soccer mom?

Cute & casual, or soccer mom?


It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood today, forecast is low 70’s and sunny. Perfect for what I have planned! But first, let’s discuss today’s outfit, also from Coldwater Creek.

Do you think it’s too “soccer mom”? The color is what really attracted me; it’s such a bright, happy, fall color. It makes me smile, and layers will be good today as I plan to spend much of the day outside. So after applying sunscreen and reading my Bible, I’m off to spend a little more time with some of the monuments I zipped by last night on my Segway.

I can see the Jefferson Memorial from my hotel room window, so that seems like a logical place to start.

Image courtesy National Park Service

Image courtesy National Park Service

It does have the most beautiful view across the Tidal Basin, which makes it the perfect place to sit and munch on the muffin I picked up on the way. The statue of Jefferson is 19 feet tall, which is the same height as the statue of Lincoln in his memorial—only, of course, Lincoln is sitting down. Tom has a commanding presence, all the same. Seeing him reminds me of a trip my mother and I took to Colonial Williamsburg some years ago. There’s a seated statue of Jefferson on a park bench there, and when my mother sat next to him for a picture she casually placed her hand on his knee. I thought that was a bit of a liberty to take with a President, but he didn’t seem to mind.

Mother getting in touch with history at Colonial Williamsburg (2002)

Mother getting in touch with history at Colonial Williamsburg (2002)

From there I stroll over a bridge and under the Japanese Cherry Trees (sadly not in bloom this time of year ) to the Roosevelt Memorial. I love that this statue includes his dog! The memorial traces twelve years of American History through a sequence of four outdoor rooms—each one devoted to one of FDR’s terms of office.

FDR & Friend (photo courtesy NPS)

FDR & Friend (photo courtesy NPS)

It’s a good little hike from Lincoln Memorial (passing the Korean War Memorial along the way), but it’s such a pretty day, who cares? Having seen the recent “Night at the Museum” movie, in which the Lincoln Memorial plays an important role, I thought it might be difficult to take him seriously in person, but as it turns out it’s not a problem. Reading the carved inscriptions of Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address and his Gettysburg Address takes care of that.

Photo courtesy of the DC SHPO

Photo courtesy of the DC SHPO

This is a rather brilliant feature. You don’t need to hope a Park Ranger is hanging around to tell you about the Memorial. You can call (202) 747-3420 anytime and choose from a list of interpretive talks. (You don’t even have to be in DC, a plus for us virtual travelers!)

From there, it’s on to the Vietnam War Memorial (very touching!) and a stroll through Constitution Gardens to the Washington Monument. Why, do you suppose, did Jefferson, Roosevelt, & Lincoln get statues, but Washington got an enormous obelisk? Is there some sort of symbolism implied by this giant…oh, never mind.

Washington Monument (images courtesy NPS)

Washington Monument (images courtesy NPS)

I decide against going up inside the monument. I’ve been walking all morning, I still have to walk back to my hotel, and I’m ready to invoke Vacation Rule Number 2 Besides, I need to rest up…I have a date with the Kennedy Center tonight.

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