Monday, August 11, 2014

The August Break Day 11: Handwriting

Kristen says...

I have the worst handwriting. Ok, maybe it's not as bad as some doctors I know, but it's certainly not good. Chris once told me, "Your handwriting is halfway between cursive and unreadable." He's not wrong. 

When I was in elementary school there was a district-wide penmanship competition in 2nd, 4th and 6th grades. It was named after a guy named Joe Gray, the gentleman who endowed the award, and it was a particularly awesome competition because the students who got first, second and third places and the most improved (we were "tested" at thebeginning and end of the year) not only got a certificate, we also got money!!

I actually won one of the awards one year  (I think it was second grade), proof positive that my handwriting wasn't always horrible, but believe me, I haven't won a handwriting contest since!

(A fun memory about the year I won--Joe Gray was quite old by the time I was in school, but was still involved in the community. He was working at my parent's polling place during an election and my mom pointed him out to me and my siblings, so I went over and thanked him for the award and told him I'd spent the money I won (probably $4 max) on a book. I remember being very excited to be able to meet the "famous" Joe Gray from the Joe Gray Penmanship Award. What a guy!)

Anyway, where am I going with this?

Even though my handwriting is crap, I end up doing a lot of writing each day. I, like my grandfather before me, am a list maker: to-dos, groceries, schedules, you name it, I'll list it...and I like to do it manually. I have an iphone with a calendar function, but I never do use it.

Similarly, any school planning I do is done in my own handwriting. I make students submit work on paper so I can weite all over it (at least once per project I have a kid who needs help reading my comments). I also enjoy writing thank yous and post cards, even though I often worry the recipients won't be able to read what I wrote!

I also like to make little notes to myself, about things I see or want to remember, and especially to remind me of important things like facts or recipes...for example, these notes from the cooking show we shot last week (video coming soon):

Speaking of handwritten recipes, one of my most prized possessions is a recipe book my grandmother gave me many years ago for Christmas. The cool thing about this book is that it was empty--it wan't a book of recipes, it was a book to collect recipes in.

Grandma got me started with a half-dozen or so family recipes in her own handwriting:

And over the years I have filled my book with special recipes from my other grandmas:

My mother-in-law:

My sister:

And now friends from around the world and in different languages:

Whenever I ask someone for a recipe I try to get it on one of my recipe book pages, and my only request is that they write in their own handwriting.

Since I started this in the mid 1990s I have collected dozens of recipes and had to add pages to the now almost-full book, but it is an amazing collection of memories, made even more special because it is all handwritten by people I love, most of whom I don't see often enough and some who are gone forever...but their handwriting lives on in my book and my kitchen. 



  1. I'm a list writer too. And I love the idea of your recipe book!

    1. My grandma was amazing, it was a great idea! It is just about the most special thing I own, it is so full of memories (and amazing food!) :)


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