The green part is pretty obvious. But you're not getting the Alice connection, right? I'll get to that.
A year or two ago, this little (big!) beauty popped up on my Amazon.com home page and I gasped at the gloriousness of its bright green color. I put it on my wish list, not even knowing what a "Dutch Oven" was. I simply knew that if I had something as beautiful as that, it could prove to inspire me to spend more time in the kitchen. My husband secretly agreed (he loves my cooking way more than I like to cook) and the next time he bought something from Amazon, he bought this too. Not wanting to give me a cooking pot in the middle of the year for no reason, he taped up the box and wrote "For Heather, Christmas." In the last year I have moved the very heavy box from place to place in the house. What is in that heavy box?, I repeatedly asked him. His lips were sealed. My curiosity never got the best of me, but it was close! Christmas finally came, and I opened it, completely surprised and delighted. It's even more beautiful in person, and has pride of place on display on our stove top 24 hours a day.
*sigh* Isn't she pretty? Of course, another thing that inspires me to cook a lot is that oven/stove... it's so fancy and high tech that I'm convinced you could launch that thing into outer space!
So back to Alice. We have a way of naming things around here. Of course, when I say "we" I mean me. And I felt like this beautiful girl needed a name. Since I love green and frequently say things like "Green, Green, I'm a Queen," I thought Queenie would be a good thing to call it. But after I cooked my first meal in my first Dutch Oven, Queenie didn't sound right. That day I'd been hanging some Alice in Wonderland art in our dining room, and I came across one of my very favorite pieces.
This comes from a book published in 1916, given away to children from the Hancock-Nelson Mercantile Company in Saint Paul, Minnesota. It was illustrated by Gordon Robinson. I love the artwork, with its prominent use of green throughout. While researching where it came from, I found the book here, listed for $200. Like so much of my Alice collection, I received it as a gift when someone gave it to me from their dusty old study (Side note: If you have a dusty old Alice in your collection, I will give her an excellent home and she'll be in good company, on prominent display!).
I especially love this piece, representing my favorite part of the Alice story. Alice meets the Cheshire Cat for the first time in a kitchen where a cook is using way too much pepper in the soup, and the Duchess sits holding a frightfully ugly baby, which later turns into a pig in Alice's care. Curiouser and curiouser indeed!
While looking at this picture, and smelling the amazing baked potato soup that was simmering away in my new Dutch Oven... it dawned on me. What else could she be called but the Duchess? The boys and my husband agreed it was a fitting name (they indulge my quirkiness). So the Duchess it is. And now I'm collecting and trying out recipes that are perfect for cooking in a Dutch Oven, which as it turns out, is a type of cooking vessel that has been around hundreds of years! And I'm just finding out about it now. Goes to show you, the kitchen is close to the last place I'd want to spend my time. But I must confess, my beautiful Duchess is doing her best to draw me in! Recipes to follow!
Fair warning, this is a long, serious, and intensely personal post. Did you know that today, September 10th, is World Suicide Prevention Day? Per the International Association for Suicide Prevention: Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in the world, especially among young people. Nearly one million people worldwide die by suicide each year. This corresponds to one death by suicide every 40 seconds. The number of lives lost each year through suicide exceeds the number of deaths due to homicide and war combined. My life was affected by suicide from an early age. My fourth grade teacher at a private school in California's San Fernando Valley took her life during the school year. A close classmate from the public school I attended in 5th and 6th grade took her life in 7th grade after I had moved away. A boy I knew in middle school killed himself. A close friend in the 7th and 8th grade attempted suicide, and my mom took me to visit him at the hospital a few hours from our h…
As Chinese New Year approaches (February 10th this year), we bid a fond farewell to the Year of the Dragon. My oldest son was born in the Year of the Dragon, so all year long when we saw anything with a dragon on it, we'd point it out to him. And now as the Year of the Dragon roars out, we make way for the new year... the Year of the Mouse!
Okay, not really. It's actually the Year of the Snake. But for us Chases, there is a spectacularly magical Mouse-related year about to commence!
For Christmas this year, we gave the boys these photos:
And then we told them we'll be going to all of the Disney Theme Parks worldwide in 2013!
I'm not sure who was more excited, the boys or their Mama! Truth be told, Michael, Nathan, and I have already been to all the Disney Parks except for the two in Paris. But Benjamin wasn't yet born when we lived in Japan. For that matter, Nathan was just a 13 week old baby when we went to Tokyo Disneyland and a ten month old when Tokyo DisneySea …
Michael and I got to jump on a plane from Shanghai to Los Angeles to attend a four day conference on leadership, creativity, and humanity two weeks ago. It was something we really wanted to do, but the limitations to our finances living here in Shanghai mean that we can budget a trip to America only every other year, and this was not our year. But in the beautiful way that things sometimes have a way of working out when you are absolutely meant to be somewhere, someone else totally unrelated to the conference provided the funds via an envelope filled with cash to cover the cost of round trip airfare and the conference admission. The conference was amazing. So much good stuff that I'm still mulling it over and trying to find ways to adjust my life to fit all the new information we were flooded with. But this isn't a post about the conference. I don't even know how to write about it just yet. In addition to the four conference days, we decided to stay an extra three days in …