Holidays in the Art Classroom, and Happy Memorial Day

The lesson for this week in my History of Art Education course was about holidays’ place in the art class, from where it started to where it is, and if indeed it is still needed today. I was blown away at hearing the position of people saying there is no need to “celebrate” holidays in the art classroom. While I understand it can be tricky to not just be the decorators for your school around every holiday seeing that the early roots of holiday art in the art class was almost purely for beautification, I think it’s important for us to use that time as a means to explore culture. I also understand the fear of excluding some groups or students around particular holidays, but we shouldn’t feel that we are having to celebrate a particular holiday, or worry about creating politically correct lessons around Christian based holidays. Art educators in this day and age should feel free to explore a plethora of holidays and use it as a tool for teaching our youth about cultural practices, beliefs, and even how many of them have deep roots in art history.
On another note, I hope everyone enjoys this holiday, Memorial Day, that is upon us. Whether you have family that has served our military or not, I hope that you use this holiday to be thankful for your loved ones and the freedom of your country, America. This weekend was always used as a time to spend with family for me growing up, and going to visit the graves of family deceased and taking them flowers. While I am now 400 miles away from one very important grave, this weekend is always sentimental to me, and though I can’t place a flower on my dad’s gravestone this weekend, I will be doing so in spirit.

Pesto anyone?

pesto!Inspired by a blog from Parsley, Sage & Sweet, I took on making my very own pesto this evening. Lisa’s heartfelt story was a little sad, and after a gloomy day for no particular reason, I felt compelled to make some pesto and pasta. I didn’t follow Lisa’s recipe very closely- I’m just past what I’d call a beginner’s level of cooking, and I don’t have a food processor- but still, I was inspired. I looked up a couple of other pesto recipes via epicurious (love that app), and also studied a couple of pesto labels while in the grocery store. Pretty basic ingredients over all; I found basil, evoo (extra virgin olive oil), some kind of nut (ranging from pine nut to walnut), garlic and parmigiano reggiano (or parmesan cheese), in every one. Though I may be food processor- less, I have a hand held food chopper, and I’d consider myself a mean mincer. Ok, maybe not so much mean as meticulous, but either how, I can chop things pretty finely. Anyhow, those details aside, I bought myself some fresh basil and a lemon and headed home. After turning on my Pandora’s Jason Aldean station and chilling a bottle of Pinot Grigio, I began to combine everything mentioned before (I used cashews as my chosen nut because not only are they my favorite, but I already had some in the pantry), and I went with one of Lisa’s details and added some lemon zest, plus I squeezed about half the lemon into the pesto. I didn’t measure so I don’t have details, but I used a lot of parmesan, a decent bit of cashews and basil, two garlic cloves plus a good helping of salt, and I think it turned out rather well! (When all was said and done, I have an average soup bowl’s amount of pesto made.) I know this isn’t exactly an ideal recipe to follow, but I hope you’ll be inspired, as I was, because all in all it was a lovely and therapeutic process. Plus, a great dinner.

My Old Kentucky Home…

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Over the weekend was my favorite Saturday of the year- the Kentucky Derby. There’s nothing better than a reason to drink Mint Juleps, put together an over-the-top hat that goes with your outfit just for the day, and place a lot of $2 bets that you’ll most likely never see again. It’s a special thing seeing the rest of the country celebrate your home state in just that special way once a year. Like five of the running horses on Saturday, I was born and bred in Bourbon County, Kentucky, and this great showing of my home I decided called for a party. This was my fifth Derby watching from Atlanta, and instead of sitting back and letting the feelings of home wash over me, I brought a little bit of Kentucky here. My wonderful friends indulged with me, dressing the part and even participating in the essential “best hat” contest. Determined to give them an authentic taste of Kentucky, I happily turned to Pinterest. There was beer cheese, hot browns and Bourbon a plenty. I even took on burgoo. My mother told me not too- that’s too difficult!- but I wasn’t going to give my guest anything short of Kentucky’s best. The burgoo (which by the point of the party my mom had me terrified to serve) turned out to be the biggest hit! I couldn’t help but be rather proud of myself when everyone was going back for seconds and asking me to give them the recipe. That, on another note, was my own creation (I couldn’t find a recipe that was close enough to the burgoo I remember growing up with at the track) so, I am planning to make that my very own pin! More on that to come, but for the rest of the wonderful recipes I used to make Atlanta feel like a genuine Kentucky Derby experience, visit my board Derby Party (and enjoy the next time you need a little taste of Kentucky wherever you may be!)