Why I Hate HIPPA

Today I got a call from a health care provider who I will be visiting in the near future for the first time.  I really appreciate an actual phone call to tell me information about my upcoming procedure but unfortunately she had to ask me some questions.  Maybe you can recount your whole life’s medical history, but I cannot.


Being as young as I am you would think I could remember all my previous surgeries, but apparently I am the perfect candidate for a medical information chip.  Health care workers don’t like generalities.  When I told the woman I had some kind of cyst removed and some other kind of laser thing to stop bleeding that could mean many things.  As this health professional tried to suggest the type of surgery I said yes to every answer when I was only supposed to pick one.  Hell, I was asleep during that surgery how was I supposed to know which type it was?


After all this questioning, where I certainly gave some incorrect answers, the woman asked me to get my primary physician to fax in my health records.  If she is getting my actual records why did she bother asking me the questions?  The answer sheet was going to be sent into her.


She started to tell me the fax number I should have my records sent to.   Whoa, whoa, whoa.  “You called me on my cell phone and I’m walking the dog.  Can you just e-mail me the number?” I logically asked, this being the second decade of the 2000’s.


The answer was absurd.  “No, we don’t have a secure portal.”  Was I suddenly in some episode of Star Trek circa 1965?  “Well, ” I followed up, “Can I just have my doctor e-mail you my records?”


“No, e-mail is not secure,” she informed me in that you-must-be-some-idiot-I-just-told-you tone.  What did I not understand about the secure portal?  “You must fax it.”  HIPPA you know.


What century are we in again?  I thought we had already established this.  Let’s discuss what is not secure.  She called me and although she asked if it was me who she had reached she had no way of knowing that I was whom I claimed to be when she called.  Anyone who picked up my phone could have pretended to be me when she asked.  So first, the phone call was not really secure.


Second, since when is a fax machine sitting in the middle of some office secure?  Is it in a guarded locked room?  Anyone working in that office could walk by the fax machine and pick up a load of medical records and no one would know they were missing because, hello, they just came in and got printed and sat there with no secondary verification system that they were coming or expected at that moment.


Have any of you ever tried to even get a message to your “primary” physician to ask them to FAX your records?  It could take days before they even respond to the voice mail you had to leave and were told on the outgoing message would not be responded to for at least 48 hours.


The whole system is so broken and made more aggravating by these poorly thought out HIPPA rules.  We have had to endure them long enough that we certainly have discovered six thousand flaws.  Isn’t it time we readjusted?


I am all for people taking good care of themselves, but HIPPA causes me to need more psychiatric care it drives me so crazy.   I am sure that the chip in my dog  and the reader system that all vets have to pull the information off it would work great on humans.  I am happy to be the first to volunteer to test it in humans if it means I never have to be questioned about my medical history or worse have to get it faxed anywhere ever again.  Maybe I should just see if my vet could take me on as a patient?


Note to all my non-US readers– HIPPA is a governmental regulation that tries to protect peoples medical information privacy.  Heaven forbid you enter the hospital unconscious.

New Habit Needed


Today I drove our tiny Smart Car while Russ took the hybrid in for an oil change.  I have been driving the new car for a few months so it was only fair that Russ got the chance to drive it and get the service.  When I got in the Smarty I went to start it by pushing the start button like I do on the new car, but then realized I actually needed to put a key in the ignition to make it go.  For the previous thirty-five years I have had to put a key in the ignition to start a car, but after only a few months of key-less driving I forgot how to drive an old car.  It only took a little while for me to create a new habit and throw my old one out the window.


Changing a habit, be it something mundane like starting a car, or something pleasurable like putting sugar on your breakfast cereal, can be done just by repeating it over and over again for just a short while.


The word habit seems to have gotten a bad reputation.  People talk about smoking as “their habit” and we all know how the world feels about smoking.  But smoking is more than just a habit it is an addiction.


Some habits are good.  I wake up every morning and go in the bathroom and the third thing I do in there is brush my teeth.  You can guess what the first two things are.  That is my habit.  Actually it is also my addiction.  I really can’t start the day until I have brushed my teeth.  I don’t know when this became a habit because I can clearly remember as a child lying to my mother when she asked me if I had brushed my teeth.  Why would I lie about that?  When did I realize how much better my mouth felt after brushing?  I must have gotten up enough mornings in a row and brushed my teeth that I created a new and frankly better habit.


So where is the line between a habit and an addiction?  Is something only an addiction if it is bad for you?  No.  Yet I hardly know anyone who will tell you they are addicted to spinach, bacon yes, but mustard greens, no.


Thinking about trying to start the car got me wondering if  I could train myself to create one healthy new habit during the summer.  Just a few months of doing the same thing every day and I think it would be enough to make something a habit.  I have no idea what habit I want to pick up.  I already work out four times a week and eat a fairly healthy diet.  So I need suggestions from you as to what good habit I should try and pick up.  What would improve my life and be simple to do everyday and not take too much time?

Pea Mash Dip



I have a jar of preserved lemons that I bought for an Indian meal I was making.  Unfortunately they don’t sell them in two lemon jars so now I have to find a bunch of ways to use up the 20 lemons still left in the jar.


This is a perfect way to incorporate the lemons into basic ingredients to make a healthy dip that is spicy and exotic.


2 c. frozen green peas- cooked until they are just warm

2 cloves of garlic

12 fresh mint leaves

Rind of a preserved lemon

1 T. fresh lemon juice

Red pepper flakes – a few to start and add to make it as spicy as you want.

1 t. olive oil

Salt and pepper


Prep the preserved lemon by washing it first and then cut it open and cut out all the inside and discard it.  Cut the rind into eighths.  Put the lemon and all the other ingredients into the Cuisneart and run it a few times until it is mashed up.


Serve it with crackers or carrots.

Rhubarb Sauce with Ginger



During the summer of 1980 when I sold Electrolux vacuums door-to-door in central Pennsylvania I some times stopped for lunch at an old diner in Dillsburg, PA.  I can’t remember the name, but I it was meat and three kind of place run by Amish folk.  The only reason I can even remember it today is because that was the only place I had ever eat rhubarb sauce.  It was along the lines of applesauce.


It was nothing but rhubarb cooked in sugar water until it was broken down into its fibrous threads.  I loved the sweet and sour combination.


This sauce is basically the same thing, but made with splenda instead of sugar and I added a little hint of grated fresh ginger root just for fun.  You can eat it straight or served over strawberries and Greek yogurt like I did here.  I must say I think I like it all by itself best


Five stalks of rhubarb- cut into one inch pieces

12 packets of splenda

½ cup of water

1 t. of grated fresh ginger root



Put the Rhubarb, Splenda and water in a saucepan and put on a medium high heat.  Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer and cook stirring every once in a while until the rhubarb is broken down completely.  Remove the pan from the stove and add the ginger if you want it.  Chill, and eat.

Taking More Than You Need May Be The Death of You


These days I am usually driving a hybrid car.  I really love the gas mileage, but am a little disturbed at the stealth-like quietness of the engine. Today I had a disturbing event happen as I was driving through my neighborhood.


I was on my way home from lunch with a friend, enjoying the perfect spring sunshine, car windows open, when a large black bird, probably a crow, flew directly across my path.  Certainly this bird did not realize that my silent black car was something that could end his life.   The low flying bird was eye level with my windshield and as I approached at the 25 mile per hour speed allowed on my street I could see a huge rodent hanging from the beak of the bird.  The mole or rat was at least half the size of the bird.


Being a rat phobic ever since the movie Willard, I screamed loudly certain that I was going to smash both of them and the crow, turned and looked me directly in the eye as he struggled to fly above the car.  I looked up through my glass roof just as they passed over and could see the rodent thing squiggle as the crow flapped its wings hard.  I know the bird barley averted death because as it passed over me I stopped and looked in the rearview mirror just in time to see the black creature sink down a few feet behind me, without letting go of the rodent, but landing on the road.


That bird was determined to hold on to that food it had found even if it was going to kill him to do it.  I did not get out of the car to see if everyone was all right because I quite frankly was afraid the bird might decide to take me to task for almost hitting him and possibly making him lose his dinner.


As I drove away it occurred to me that the rodent that crow had caught was probably more food than he and his entire family needed but he was willing to risk his life to keep it.  The bird reminds me of people you see at the Golden Corral buffet.  Certainly very few people should eat all they can, but once they are given the option they want to get their money’s worth, whether they should or not.  Sure hunting is nothing like saddling up to dessert bar but the principle is the same.  Taking more than you need may kill you.


Next time I am faced with an unlimited amount of food I am going to remember almost being the grim reaper for that crow who thought it was more important to hold on to the rat than ensure he lives another day.  I wonder if the crow learned that lesson and let the rat go before trying to fly off again?

The Fun of Starting Over



I came home from a Food Bank Board Meeting tonight to find my driveway vegetable garden stripped of my spent winter vegetables and all the weeds that had recently taken over during this early warm spell.  It was not a surprise since I had hired my friend Renee’s nephew Bobby to do the backbreaking work, but our agreement as to when the work would get done was lose.  I was hopeful that it would be done by the weekend so to have it done today was a bonus.


I must have known in my heart that Bobby would come today because before I went to Raleigh my friend Thecky stole her husband’s pick up truck and we went to the Rock Shop to buy a bed full of certified organic compost.  I have no idea what it is certified to do, but I do know that my garden last year had the best yield of any vegetable garden I had ever grown so I was sticking to the same formula.


Surely Thecky had no idea how much work it was going to be to shovel all the compost out of the truck since it only took a minute for them to dump it in with a backhoe.  Washing the truck out of all the “certified” evidence took as long as driving to buy it did.  I can’t wait to bring Thecky and her husband some homegrown cucumbers and peppers as a thank you for the black gold compost.


Now that I have a cleared vegetable bed and a three-foot high pile of chicken poop mixed with dead leaves I am ready to start my summer garden.  I have no idea exactly what I am going to grow until I go to the farmer’s market and the local seed-feed store to see what plants catch my eye.


Once I started plants from seed, but found that it was way too much work with disappointing results.  For most of the seventeen years I have had this garden I have not planned exactly what I grow or where it goes in the garden.  I know it would be better to plan my beds and keep track of what grows well and what fails, but that would make it too much work.  Instead I like to pursue different seedling vendors and buy a smattering of varieties.


I know I will grow arugula, lettuce, cucumbers, peppers, both hot and sweet, basil and various summer squash.  I have trouble with tomatoes, although last year I was able to get a few so I might try again.  I have tried cantaloupe, sweet potatoes, pumpkins and watermelon with varying degrees of success.  I just am not sure until I start shopping.


For me the fun in planting this garden every spring is that although it is many years old it is new again every spring.  I don’t have to relive past mistakes, I get to start over fresh.  Nothing is more beautiful than the freshly tilled black soil with dozens of little plants, put neatly in rows with not a weed in sight.  It does not stay that way all summer as I tire of weeding or come home from a week away to find that some unwelcome animal has visited.


Even with the heartaches that can come from gardening it is always more exciting to eat a zucchini I grew than one I bought.  And if come August the garden is a huge mess I will just rip it out and start over again with the winter vegetables.  It’s the one thing that is fun to start over again.

Good Infrastructure

Twenty years ago when Russ and I were looking for a house to buy before he was starting Kenan-Flagler Business School we could not find anything in Chapel Hill and turned to Durham.  My Dad told us to look in Hope Valley because he had fond memories of coming to the Hope Valley Country Club for parties while he was a student at UNC. They must have been some parties back then for my father to have any memory of them at all.


Being This Old House addicts we asked our realtor to show us old homes.  We had no idea that old was not so popular with her and she would show us things that were maybe five or ten years young.  I told her that they were not “old”, but merely “used” houses.  I’m not sure she ever really understood the difference.  Given that there was not much on the market we went into the houses built in the 80’s that she thought we would like.  The floors would creak, the walls were paper-thin, and the style was, well, 1980’s.  Russ and I would whisper to each other about how much we hated these homes hoping that our agent could not hear us three rooms away, but knowing it was possible.


As our Chapel Hill realtor reluctantly drove us through Hope Valley we were hopeful.  There were houses built between the wars and I mean the big wars.  We could not afford one of the really beautiful old houses, but we definitely liked the neighborhood of various styles and age of homes.  I was reading the MLS listing of our current house and said there was no reason to bother to stop and look at it because it only had two bedrooms and was split-level.  We pulled up to the front and Russ looked at the MLS and said that it absolutely was wrong, the house had to have three bedrooms and the split was due to the slope of the lot on the side and we should go in.


Thank goodness Russ was quick at finding a major mistake in the listing because when we walked in the then fifty-year-old house we immediately knew this was it.  The quality of the craftsmanship was evident.  The hallways were twice as wide as newer houses and the details in things like the molding and the windows gave us confidence in how well built this house was.


Russ, as an electrical engineer, was particularly impressed with the wiring.  I video taped our walk through of the house and when we got to the furnace room I caught Russ on tape saying, “Nice Panel,” in a way a teen age boy might admire a girl in a bikini, as he looked at the electrical system.


We bought the house that day and have loved it ever since.  When we realized we were staying in Durham we decided to add on to the house because we loved our lot and location.  Our builder Joe told us that our house was one of the best-built houses he had worked on and we asked him to match that quality in the addition.


This past week a huge maple tree in our side yard fell on our sunroom and was lying on the roof for a few days until I could get the tree guy with a crane to remove it.  After working for hours to secure, cut and lift the three foot diameter tree off the roof the tree guy reveled a practically perfect roof with only one six inch shingle out of place.  Shocked was the word he used when he told me that he had never seen a house take a hit from such a large tree and sustain so little damage.  Good infrastructure I told him.  Buying for quality really paid off.


This story of my house could be a lesson in doing the right thing for our bodies too.  A strong infrastructure, with good upkeep and high quality materials will pay off in the end.  At some point in life a tree may fall on you, but if you have eaten healthy food and created a strong body you can withstand the blow with barley a shingle out of place.

There is No Such Thing As Balance


Reentry is a hard thing.  Three days ago I was lying on a giant beach bed while nice Mexican men brought me iced tea and my only worry was if I had applied enough sunscreen.  Now it’s back to laundry, meetings, obligations and cooking dinner.


I quickly got used to having someone else do the cooking and more importantly the shopping.  I wonder how mad Russ and Carter would be if I told them to just eat cold cereal for dinner? Really how lazy can I be? I did not have to go to work or school today but I seem to have vacation hangover.  Even spending my daily twenty minutes writing this blog seems taxing.  I’m not complaining, just contemplating changing myself from a type A personality to another letter further down the alphabet.


Would anyone notice if I just continued slacking off a little more every day?  I could use the need for more time to concentrate on getting these last twenty pounds off as my excuse to decline every plea for help.  That could really backfire if I did not use my time to exercise harder.  More exercise is not inline with the slacker life style I am drawn to at this moment.


Maybe slacker is not the right word, but chill.  Carter opened a lemonade sold at Prêt a Manger in London and inside it read, “Best served chilled, as we all are.”  I think there is a lot to that.  Perhaps my best self is my more laid back, I don’t really give a damn, do what ever you want, please let me do what ever I want self.  But I guess that is not really fair to my family.  What if Russ just decided to stop working so much and expected me to get a job that made up the difference in income?  That would only be fair.  If I had to get a real job again my type A personality would have to turn into a type A+.


I am quickly seeing that this whole laid back lifestyle could backfire on me.  I am not sure if I was so laid back that I could stick to my diet, but then again I got so fat being type A.  Maybe letting go of the reigns is healthier.  How will I ever know?


Finding balance seems to be an impossible thing.  As I write this I am wondering where the tree guys are who need to remove the tree lying on the sunroom roof with the crane.  They promised to be here this afternoon and I am almost sure that 4:50 is too late in their workday to show up and start working.  Oh, and the laundry in the dryer has been done for a couple of hours and the washer load needs to move over or else it will start to smell and need to be run again.  I don’t think I am capable of moving very far away from type A.  Is there and A minus personality?  Can you be type A six days a week and Type D the seventh?  Can I just go back on vacation?  One that someone else plans and I just show up for?

Another Devastating Syndrome



I was listening to the radio the other day and learned that the North American Bat population was in danger of collapsing due to a fungal disease called White Nose Syndrome (WNS).  Whenever I hear about any of the syndromes with three letter acronyms I am reminded of things like RLS, restless leg syndrome or business acronyms like TQM, for Total Quality Management.  There is even one called TLA for Three-Letter Acronym syndrome, but I am really getting off the path now.


Anyway, this White Nose Syndrome sparked my interest not because of my obvious love and concern for bats, which are our best natural pest control against things like mosquitoes, but because WNS causes bat’s metabolism to increase.  They don’t just increase, but bats don’t hibernate as long, they fly much more, to the point of losing all their body fat and starving to death.


This sound like a horrible way to go and scientist have not found any cure, which is serious, especially if you are a bat or a farmer who needs the bats to eat the bugs that eat their crops.


See, I think that pesticide manufactures don’t really have a vested interest in finding a cure for these bats.  If we don’t have bats people will need more artificial ways to kill insects.  Sure academia can get in on finding an answer, but we all know that those ivy tower folks are very thorough and methodical, so it might take a while.


My idea to this problem is to get the giant Pharma guys to study it to see how they might turn this bat killing fungus into a diet drug.  Nothing smells like money more than a natural weight loss program and what’s more natural than fungus?  While the Galaxo and Johnson & Johnson folks are at it they can find a cure for the bats because they are going to need to learn how to control the fungus.


It would not be good if they just gave humans the fungus and we stopped needing so much sleep and needed to eat a lot more forever.  I am just looking at this as maybe a weekday drug.  I could be so much more productive five days a week and then on the weekends I could drop back into Non-White Noses Syndrome mode so that I could rest and maintain just enough body fat to stay alive, maybe like Swedish body size.


Until WNS is under control do everything you can to help keep the bat population around.  Right now the word is that it is only passed from bat to bat contact, so consider putting up some single-bat houses and not those giant bat condos that would be a breeding ground for the fungus.  Also consider adding the bat population to your nightly prayers.  I’m adding the Pharma scientists to mine.

No News Is Good News

As Russ and I sit on our flight home from Mexico I read over his shoulder much of the news of the week we missed while we were in paradise without a TV or newspapers. As far as weeks go I am just as glad to have been cut off from the minute by minute happenings of the tragedy in Boston. Sometimes being confronted with every detail of a situation you have no control over is unsettling, unproductive and unnecessary.

My heart goes out to everyone effected, both directly and indirectly. I am somehow one step away from everyone who was connected electronically to the events of the week and I am somewhat thankful. I am grateful not to have more hate in the world not wash over me.

In contrast, I spent the week getting to know the smart, kind and fun loving people Russ works with and their spouses who were the real treat. Together we all experienced the generous and hospitable Mexicans who were our hosts. We had fabulous weather, great conversation, food fit for the gods, shared laughs, stories and no sadness. It was a break from not just the day-to-day grind, but even more the craziness of the whole world which TV assaults with.

Carter did text us with our own little emergency that a big tree in our side yard had fallen on the house. In true Carter fashion she had gotten the ladder out and surveyed the damage to the roof before contacting us since she knew we would have a million questions. Her assessment was that the tree had not broken trough the roof, but had dislocated some shingles. When Russ said he would call Joe our builder to come look at it Carter said he should bring a big chain saw and a crane. I got a text from Jan, who was taking care of Carter, before we departed that said Joe said it was a big job and we needed a tree service. Apparently Carter is a good assessor of tree damage.

Even that small difficulty at home was not able to dampen the fun of being disconnected in paradise. I think a little less information and a lot more kindness is just what the world needs. So today try your own vacation from the real world and skip the news, read a novel or play a game with your kids. For the most part you can’t control the bad things happening in the world, but you don’t have to let them control you.

Underground Oasis

I never imagined that these words would ever come out of my mouth but, “I wish that I spent more of my vacation underground.” Not just under any ground, but in a cenote which is an underground river with stalactites coming down from the ceiling and stalagmites coming up from the floor.

Twenty one of us from our trip went snorkeling today which was fun, but not anything I had not done before. After snorkeling we got back in our transports and went to a private place where someone had dug a hole in the earth and put a ladder down the hole to the limestone underground cave filled with pristinely clean water. Before we descended the ladder I asked the obvious question, “How are we going to see underground?” Only to be told they had added lighting to the whole underground world. Gorgeous.

We spent time swimming in the river and walking between the caves on small passageways. I am not sure how long we were down there, probably about an hour, but it felt like a blink of an eye. This is how much I liked it, we went down at noon about the time I was getting hungry after my yoghurt breakfast at 7:30, I totally forgot about food and was not hungry when I ascended back to the surface of the earth. Perhaps there is a new diet fad there, the underground diet.

The taller members of the group also got a bigger workout because we had to crouch down as we traversed the caves trying not to bump our heads on the pointy rock formations. All the squats my trainer Tom has had me do paid off in my crouching cave explorer positions.

Tonight our group of 52 is off to explore Playa del Carmen and visit three different spots for drinks, dinner and dessert. Nothing Mexican civilization has to offer can match what God made underground in Mexico.

If Only Everything Had Fried Bugs



In my heart of hearts I knew when Russ told me that we were going on a company incentive trip to a really nice place in Mexico that I was going to have a hard time eating like I eat at home. It has been almost a year of clean eating that has resulted in a 68 pound weight loss, but I know that in a blink of an eye the tide can turn. If there is anyplace that can happen faster than Mexico I don’t know where it is, especially a resort that claims the “best guacamole in Mexico” and they are right. The first day we ordered it and a giant mortal and pestle stone bowl came out with at least 6 avocados in it and a platter of accompaniments. I was able to skip the fried pork skin and chorizo sides, but dared to eat one of the fried grasshoppers. I think that I have finally found a Mexican food I do not like.

I am doing my best to eat fish and cerviche, fruit and veggies, but I have to admit that a couple of communion sized desserts have been sampled and lobster tacos are a treat I felt I could not resist. Being faced with anything with cheese is just a killer. I really like having a pablano pepper stuffed with scrambled eggs and melted cheese for breakfast. I guess if it did not have the cheese it would be good for me, but then the cheese really makes it.

The good news is that since I don’t drink alcohol I have been able to refrain from liquid calories. The bartender here was quite disappointed that he could not find something for me so I made up a drink that he perfected for me of fresh ginger, lime juice, a little pineapple juice, club soda and splenda. It has become so popular amongst our group that we have named it “the Dana” and anyone can order it by name from the bar.

Russ and I did take a good four mile walk today on the beach. That had to burn off at least a third of the guacamole I had for lunch. I’m off to dinner now and am going to do my best to return to my monastery like eating ways. The island of Arugula is awaiting me at home. At least there are no fried grasshoppers there.

Please Don’t Talk About My Butt

Life at Maroma is great. Not perfect, but great. I will not bore you with the great things because the list is too long, but there is one thing that keeps this place from reaching the non-attainable height of perfection, small that it is -the Yoga instructor.

I am such a yoga novice I am unsure how instructors are supposed to act. I am fairly certain that the actions of the unnamed instructor I had were out of the norm and my two other friends in the class seemed to have the same reactions as I did, so I think I am safe in calling him out for his poor behavior.

I always thought yoga was a non-competitive sport. Your practice is your practice and you do what you can. Not for this yoga teacher. When I arrived at class he took one look at me and asked if I was going to be able to keep up with the difficulty of the class. I do not take kindly to being threatened by someone whose job it is to ensure that guests at their pricey resort have a good time. My southern training quickly left me and I reverted to my Yankee upbringing and told him, “I’ll do my best to keep up, but it did not make a bit of difference if I failed,” in my best, back off buddy voice. This little guy had no idea what could happen if he provoked me into full on bitch.

He obviously had dealt with the likes of me before and realized he better try some nice tactics for a while. It was a short-lived while because he over reacted a few too many times when someone breathed thought their mouth. Chilax, it’s yoga.

My favorite crime was when he was instructing us to get into a position with one knee bent and the other leg straight. I don’t know the position’s name because I was so taken aback by what he said as he told us to get in it. Word for word this was what he said, “If you have a big butt, use a block.”

I don’t care what language you do or do not speak, never in one hundred million years should you start a sentence with, “if you have a big butt.” I was quick to stop him right there and tell him that he would live a lot longer if he never uttered those words again.

Then he proceeded to wrap himself around each of the three of us to try and help us into a difficult pose. my friend Nancy told him to stop touching her and basically get the hell off her. After the class we all agreed it was way too “couples retreat” the movie. I can guarantee you that none of us was going to take the private hot yoga one-on-one class that he was trying to sell even with the 700 calorie burning promise.

Not Hair Paradise


I don’t know when the part of Mexico south of Cancun became known as the Mayan Riviera, but from the water it is certainly paradise. I can’t vouch for the road side which looks more like the Myrtle Riviera, as in Myrtle Beach, than the French Riviera. I have not explored off the resort property yet so I’m sure to have more colorful descriptions in days to come, but for now I am enjoying the Caribbean blue water, warm tropical breezes, soft white beach and sunshine.

Well, my mind is enjoying it, but my WASPy body is not made for paradise. Here there is no such thing as hair paradise for someone with thin, wispy, limp, lifeless hair. The natives all have thick, course, heavy, black hair that seems impenetrable to humidity and wind. I, on the other hand, look like a wet dog who just came in the house and shook to dry off and that is just after spending time washing, drying and styling my hair.

I am doing my best to keep my delicate skin from burning. I only have two skin colors, blue or red, except for where the brown age spots are. Since I don’t care to add to the spots I try and wear my giant hat as much as possible, but the wind makes that difficult. The cooling wind makes you not realize how much sun you are getting so I have to constantly monitor myself.

I went to yoga this morning for an hour to stay out of the sun only to discover it was difficult day at yoga. After an hour of continual breathing through only my nose without a moments rest between cobra, upward dog and plank I was so sweaty that my hands could not grip the yoga mat and my hair looked like, you guessed it, a wet dog.

I am just going to embrace my paradise look and be as generous with everyone else who is here. It would be too much to ask to have the people look as good as the place.

Diet Bird Battalion

As a major reward for their team Russ and his business partner Rich are having their team meeting on the Mayan Rivera and the spouses get to come along for fun. I consider this a major reward for the spouses who endure keeping the home fires burning while the team is out on the road. I am thankful for this trip and all the trips that keep their company going and the team of people who work so hard.

In order to make sure everything here at Maroma, the resort we are taking over, is up to snuff we had to come a day early, a hardship for sure. I am doing my due diligence by writing this blog from the hammock on our porch over looking the ocean and the tops of the coconut palm trees. The wind is blowing a warm breeze and the sun is strong, but the thatched roof of my terrace keeps me cool.

Russ and I awoke to a tray of coffee and iced tea set on our terrace so we lay around on the cushioned sofa and contemplated what we should do this morning. It was so pleasant to be warm after the months of cold at home and not to have an agenda for the morning that we decided to order room service, or should I say terrace service, for breakfast and spend a little more time just lazing around.

Edwardo, arrived with a giant tray of eggs and fruit, just what we having-to-wear-bathing-suit-for-the-first-time-in-months gringos should have. Then he pulled out a basket of toast and sweet breads and he said he thought we might also like them with their homemade guava, papaya and strawberry jams. Sure we would like it, but certainly we should not have it.

As Russ and I enjoyed the guiltless part of our yummy breakfast the carb fest basket sat on the table. A number of birds came and sat on the ledge of our terrace watching us eat. One would squawk, and another would answer. “That white woman does not need that toast.” The chief of the diet bird battalion seemed to say. “Certainly not,” replied his lieutenant. “Private, retrieve the temptation.”

And with the final order one of the birds flew in and snatched the twice as big as him toast out of the basket and flew away with the whole squadron of birds following behind him. I’m hoping the diet bird battalion stays assigned to me for the whole week.


Fly Skinny

Fairly regularly someone I know, usually someone who has always been skinny, will ask me if I feel so much better being thinner. Actually it isn’t usually posed as a question, but is more like a statement with a big assumption. “You MUST feel so much better now that you have lost so much weight.”

These well meaning people are almost disappointed when I tell them that actually I always felt fine and really don’t “feel” any great improvement. See, when I was fatter I did not notice how much I was carrying around because it was just what I did. Quite frankly I have more aches and pains now from some sort of torture exercise so I really feel worse skinnier.

I hate to discourage people from losing weight if they need it, but in my experience if I waited until I felt bad I might never have lost weight. There is one exception to that statement… The only time I really hated being over weight was when I flew on commercial airplanes. Since I never fly on private planes I guess I should say, when I fly.

American, and I mean all US airlines have done everything possible to fit as many people as allowed onto each plane just as every American getting on these planes has gotten collectively larger. When I was fat I hated disappointing the the poor soul who had to sit next to me because I’m sure that my thighs squished under the armrest over into their allotted few square inches. I never had to worry that my seat belt was not tight enough because I was barely able to buckle it. Leg room was not a real issue because there was no way I could cross my legs in the space provided.

So now I guess that when someone states that I must “feel” better I need to tell them, “absolutely, every time I get on an airplane.” I am certainly not thin in anyone’s book, but I am amazed at how spacious my Delta Economy Comfort seat is right now, with my seat belt resting loosely around me and my legs crossed. I guess I need to worry about developing deep leg thrombosis now that I can cross my legs. There is always something to complain about when flying.

The Perfect Cajun Diet Food

Last night Russ and I were the lucky guests at a New Orleans dinner put on by Big Easy Native Bennet and his wife Jane with help from Jimbo, Emmy, Jay, Kim and Fraser.  Russ and I have a particular fondness for all things New Orleanian.


The first time I visited was with my Dad when I was fourteen and he let me drink two hurricanes at Pat O’Brien’s and I promptly threw up all night.  The second time I went to a trade show with Russ, but I was dating someone else at the time and paid no attention to him.  He said that he sat next to me at every company dinner and I laughed at his jokes, yet I foolishly did not recognize him as the man I should have been interested in.  Thank goodness he kept after me.


In my fifty plus years I have visited the Crescent city at least a half dozen times and I have to admit that one reason we keep going back is the food.  From the Oyster Po boys to the gumbo there is hardly a meal there that I would not want to repeat multiple times except that I am almost certain that I gained a pound a day on every visit.


Last night our hosts imported all the makings for a perfect Cajun meal with the alligator and crawfish being flown in from the bayou.  After passing on the appetizers, especially the ones fried in Bennet’s new industrial-driveway-three-basket-no-waiting- fryer I was sufficiently hungry by the time dinner came around.


I was thrilled to sit down to the figure friendly shrimp cocktail with a healthy dose of horseradish laden cocktail sauce.  A yummy gumbo followed and I did my best to leave a little rice.  The grilled alligator Tabasco Cesar salad was next.  I left the croutons in anticipation of the main event- the Crawfish boil.


I was seated next to gulf cost native John who was a crawfish pickin’ and eatin’ machine.  After giant platters of the red mudbugs were placed between us, John instructed everyone how to retrieve the tiny meat from the tail, which was no bigger than my pinky from the last knuckle to the end of my finger.  It took us armatures ten times longer to pick the meat than it did to eat it.  This morning I looked up that calorie count for Crawfish – 70 calories for three ounces.  I have to say that after a good twenty minutes of picking I do not think I ate three ounces worth.  Delicious as it was I clearly burned more calories getting the food than I ate therefore making it the perfect food.


I wish that I had known last night how few calories there were in my main course because I only allowed myself one tiny bite of the homemade-driveway-deep-fried beignets which was orgasmic, but probably best I kept that sentiment to myself.


Thanks to Dave and Sara for sharing the experience with us.  And hats off to the chefs and servers – It was a really fun evening and guiltless to boot.

Thankful for My Mima



As Carter and I passed some neighbors walking their very old dog she asked me, “Do you think that dog is depressed because he is old?”


“No, I think he just walks slowly and you are interpreting that as depression,” I told her.


“Do people get depressed when they get old?”


“Some do, but not everyone.  My Grandmother Mima was the happiest old person I ever knew.”


I went on to retell Carter all about my wonderful maternal Grandmother who despite becoming a widow in her fifties, losing her sight to Macular Degeneration and not having much money her attitude about life got better and better the older she got. Very late in life she volunteered at a suicide hotline.  I wish that I had recordings of her helping people find to bright side because she was very good at drawing out of people what they had to be thankful for.


She had a strong faith in God that I know served her well, but she did not press that on others, but rather lived her beliefs.  Everyday was a great day for her almost until the end.  She was diagnosed with a very painful back cancer and given two weeks to live.  She announced she was good with God and ready to go trying to keep up her attitude until the end.  But somehow those two painful weeks dragged on for four painful months.  One day Mima woke up and looked at the nurse who sat vigil by her bed and said, “You said I’d be dead by now.”


It did not seem fair that she had to suffer when there was no hope for a different outcome, but despite the situation she still had a good attitude.  The last time I saw her was when I brought the newborn Carter to meet her.  Knowing that it might be the last time I saw her I wanted her to tell me the secret to being so happy.


“Lambykins,” that’s what she called me,  “I was a miserable younger person.  I always wanted things I could not have.  I don’t know when that changed, but I know the second half of my life has been much happier than my first.  I just am thankful for whatever happens.”


I try and remember this everyday. Gratitude is the best attitude.

Nut and Berries



In the 1960’s Yogi bear used to complain to Booboo that he did not want to live on nuts and berries that was why he wanted to take human’s food.  I can only imagine what kind of Velveeta on Wonder bread sandwich and cheese doodles Yogi was getting in the 1960’s picnic hampers.  Today all I want is nuts and berries.  There is no greater treat than a handful of pecans or cashews.  And I think I could live on raspberries, black berries and blueberries if I had an unlimited budget.


Nuts, not peanuts, which are really legumes, and berries, are now in the super food category, meaning that they are the healthiest things you can eat.  My problem is that they are hard not to eat.  Once a nut has passes my lips I naturally want another.


How is it that the idea that living off only “Nuts and berries” was ever a bad thing.  Perhaps it is because if we had to actually forage for our own food you would expend quite a lot of energy just to find, gather and shell those nuts and berries.  It was less about the actual food and more about the amount.


As a child visiting Hom-a-gen, my grandparent’s farm, I spent many hours picking blackberries and cracking black walnuts.  It was a lot of work for a little bit of food. Doing all the work gave me a great appreciation for the small cup of blackberry cobbler after dinner.  Learning to break open the tough walnut shell carefully so that you did not smash the meat was a studied art at the farm.  Children would bore of this job long before they were full from eating nuts.  Eventually the hammers and the burlap bag of dried black walnuts would be abandoned at the old store we used to crack them on in favor of going on the swing that hung from the walnut tree.


Finding, gathering and preparing the food is probably the best diet ever. Having so much food at our fingertips takes away our appreciation of the labor it took to produce it. I have never seen a wheel of Brie in the wild.  It takes an incredible amount of milk and or cream, expertise and time to make a good cheese.  I think that I would cherish it and eat a lot less of it if I had to make it myself.


Next time you want to enjoy some nuts consider eating pistachios in the shell.  Having to do a little shelling will make you appreciate the bounty you are eating just that much more.  And strawberry season is almost upon us.  Picking your own warm berries on a sunny afternoon makes your after dinner berries that much sweeter.


Don’t Wait



Tax day is coming.  I know it, you know it, every American knows it.  Somehow getting my stuff together for the account to do our tax returns is a job I hate.  I don’t know why.  It is not that hard to gather the paper work and turn it over to someone else to actually figure it all out, yet I still procrastinate.  We usually get a good return so it is not like I am putting off paying the government more money.  In fact I am letting them keep what they owe me a little longer.  So why do I do anything but my taxes?


Changing your eating habits and workout routine is very similar to doing your taxes.  You know you need to do it.  It is always right there hanging over your head, yet somehow other things keep you occupied just enough so you don’t do it.  Anyone who needs to lose weight knows it.  You don’t have to go to the Doctor or have a loved one tell you that maybe you should pay attention to your eating.  Yet even with it with you all the time, those extra few pounds, you do anything but diet.


I have been successful at the losing weight and working out thing by looking it straight in the eye and just dealing with it and you know it is not that bad.  SO today I am going to go ahead and get those taxes done, right after I pick Carter up from school, take her to the mall and go to a birthday dinner.  No really, I am not going to needlepoint tonight, I am going to organize the paperwork.  It’s not that hard.  Then tomorrow I will drop it off and I will not have that hanging over my head.


Taxes are so much easier than dieting.  Do it, get it done.  But then there are hard things that we don’t do that just hang around all the time.  When was the last time we updated our wills?  Cleaned out the attic?  Had our tetanus booster shot?  I am beginning to think that loosing weight is the easy thing.


The real message today is that thinking about doing something is so much worse than just going ahead and doing it.  Right now I am trying not to think of all the things I need to think about because I’m late for pick up.  So go forth.  You know what to do, just do it.

Hell Yes, We are the Tastiest Town


If you live in Durham this is probably not news to you, but we were just named Tastiest Town in the South by Southern Living Magazine as the rest of the world will learn in their May issue.  Well, we actually won the voting contest that was between 10 great southern food cities, like Memphis, (number 2) and New Orleans.  The Editors at Southern Living were very smart not to decide for themselves which city had the best food and thus piss off all the others.  If you did not win it is your own fault that you did not go out and garner votes as Durham proudly did.  We have so many chef/owner restaurants that asked people to vote for Durham. I have more e-mail addresses than fingers and toes I was able to vote many times everyday and I am sure I am not the only Durhamite who did.


Since I live here I agree that we are one tasty town, but I also find it ironic since at one time Durham was considered the diet capital of America.  We have the Duke Diet and Fitness Center, the Rice Diet and Structure House, just to name three of the major diet programs in Durham.  I don’t know if any other city has claimed the diet prize so for now I am proclaiming us the southern city with the best food and the most ways to get it off after you have tried it all.


Does living in a place that clearly has great food give one an excuse for carrying a few extra pounds?  No, it just means that you have to choose carefully.  I would bet that the city with the worst food in the south is collectively fatter than Durham because their options might just be McDonald’s and Burger King.


I want to give a shout out to my chef friends Like Amy Tournquist of Watt’s Grocery and Scott Howell of Nana’s who are just two of the great chefs we have in Durham who keep us at the top of any Foodies list.  It is the supportive culinary community that helps new talent be able to make a living in Durham.  Running a food business is nothing but hard work so it is nice when we can show those people who provide interesting and yummy food for us some love.


Congratulations Durham and thanks to all the people who voted for us.  I am glad we are not just known for dieting, that would make us a place no one would want to visit.  Instead we are an eating destination and that is something everyone has to do everyday.

The Beach Party, The Conservative Party and The Party Dress

In the last three days three woman of my life in the seventies passed away and I can only imagine there is one big party in heaven.  Goodbye to Lilly Pulitzer, Margaret Thatcher and Annette Funicello.  I would love to hear their conversation as they are waiting in line to get in.  They all liked a party of one kind or another.


Living in the world of real time TV and only five channels I used to watch reruns of the Mickey Mouse club with Annette Funicello everyday afterschool.  I loved to sing along, “M I C, see you real soon, K E Y, Why because we like you, M O U S E.”  Well I like you too Annette.  She was tween I could relate to, one who developed early, but still liked to do kid stuff.  Then I discovered all her teenage beach movies and I wondered where all the cute boys dancing on the beach were.


Then I went to boarding school and was ensconced in the prepster world that was big on all things Lilly.  Pink, yellow and green were the colors of the preppy flag.  We had a real Lilly store in Pawley’s Island and back in the days when Lilly still ran the business you could buy the brightly colored tropical cotton fabric by the yard.  It was none to bright of Ms. Pulitzer to sell her signature cloth for only about $5 a yard when a $100 dress made out of the same pattern only took about a yard and a half.  Being a seamstress out of necessity I was able to whip myself up many Lilly jumpers and shifts for a fraction of the price of a premade dress.


When I graduated from boarding school my conservative parents moved to London just as leader of the Conservative Party Margaret Thatcher was moving into 10 Downing Street to make Britain great again.  In our house Maggie could do no wrong as she deregulated what she could and stared down the Labour movement.  She and Ronald Reagan seemed to be what the times needed, although now with hindsight perhaps a little more watchdog might have kept us from the financial meltdown of 2008.


Somehow the passing of three iconic women makes me feel a little older.  When the people from your impressionable years are no longer around, whether you actually knew them or not, it changes your world.  They say things happen in threes so hopefully this is it for a little while.  I can only feel so much older all at once.

No Boobs For Yoga


I started taking yoga in January as a faux workout between my training torture days.  Before all you yoga lovers jump all over me for using the word faux and workout in the same sentence as yoga, I am not saying your practice is not strenuous, just that as an unbalanced person mine is not perfect.


Today I went to try and get a nicer yoga shirt for my trip to Mexico.  I was unsuccessful and now I am beginning to realize that I may never master Yoga because it is clearly not designed for anyone with big boobs or ones that need industrial support.


Here are the clues.  First every “yoga” shirt I have ever seen is a little slip of a thing, usually with some sort of shelf bra built in and tiny straps.  A shelf bra is really a training bra, in my view.  If you have the lift and separate girls than shelf bra is not going to do much for you.  Even if I got the tightest one that I could shimmy into the second I went into forward fold my heaving bosom would jump out of that shelf and try and plant themselves on the floor next to my hands.


The second clue concerns forward fold.  I have finally loosened up those old tight hamstrings to the point the I can go into forward fold and keep my hands on the ground, but I just don’t look like I’ve folded up enough because my two widest parts, being my breasts and thighs, are at a meeting point preventing a really good fold.


If I were one of those small and tight breasted woman then when I threw my legs over my head and attempted plow pose I would not have any trouble with boobs covering my face and preventing me from breathing.


I am not going to let my bust keep me from my practice of Yoga, but I do wish the Yoga clothing community would recognize the opportunity to appeal to a large population of larger breasts.  No body needs a strong core more than a woman carrying around a big endowment.





All Things Wonderful Asparagus



To me there are a few perfect foods, asparagus, lemons and Parmesan cheese being three of them and they happen to work perfectly together.


I did not make this perfect dish up, but some ancient Italian gets the well deserved credit, but I did cook it today and thought if you have never had it you would want to eat it right away, especially now that we are entering spring asparagus season.


Big bunch of asparagus

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Juice and zest of one lemon

Cracked black pepper


Preheat oven to 400º

Cover a cookie sheet with foil and spray it with Pam.  Cut the tough ends off the asparagus and lay it on the foil in a single layer.  Roast in the oven for about 15 minutes until the asparagus just starts to brown.  If your asparagus is thin, like a pencil cut the cooking time down, if it is thick increase it.

Pull the cookie sheet out of the oven and sprinkle the asparagus with the cheese and put it back in the oven for five more minutes.

Remove from oven and squeeze juice of lemon all over it and dust with the zest and cracked black pepper.

Closet Shopping

Nothing is better than finding great “new” clothes in your own closet.   Not that they are actually new, but they have not been worn in a number of years because they were too small.  Not any more.


Russ is taking me to Mexico and I finally get to put some warm weather wear on.  It not only seems like it has been months since I have worn a bathing suit is actually has been at least nine months. I am still about twenty pounds from my ultimate goal so I don’t want to invest in many new summer outfits so I went shopping in my closet.


The thing about gaining and losing weight is that if you buy classic clothes you have a large range of sizes.  Consequently I have black pants and white slacks in every size imaginable.  It is hard work to try on what I find hiding in all the dressers, closets and shelves I have things stashed in.  Anything that is slightly too big is getting weeded out.  Anything too small is getting put in one inspirational closet and then there is the goldilocks closet, those that are just right.


The inspirational closet is giving me that push I need to keep on the downward trend.  I just have to not love the goldilocks stuff too much so that don’t I feel content to stay where I am.


So here’s to spring and warm weather clothes, new and old.  Thank goodness, I was beginning to get really sick of my sweaters.  I hope you are going to enjoy beautiful weather this coming week wherever you are.

Brain Mapping, Hurray

I heard today that the President announced a project to map the human brain led by the same brilliant Doctor who mapped the human genome.  Now there are about six million jokes I can think of about human brains or the lack of them in Washington, but I will leave that up to the late night comedians.  Although I do think that in Washington they need to start with a more basic question of whether a brain actually exists in many of the politicians working there, but I digress.


Mapping the Human Genome Project was actually like a WPA for this century because for the $3.8 billion investment in the project there was a $796 billion output and still counting.  So it seems like a no-brainer, no pun intended, for the government to invest in the basic research to map the most complicated and least understood thing on earth, the human brain.


Sure there are many ailments that are brain related, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder just to name a few, that could benefit from better understanding of how the brain actually works.  Once scientists have those basic building blocks of a map then maybe they can pinpoint the domain of these disorders and help cure them.  All great.


But I see this brain mapping as having a much bigger money making potential than the Human Genome Project.  With the DNA mapping a person might be able to find out if they have a gene, which tends them to obesity.  Just great, you are prone to fatness, but we can’t do anything about it.  That just becomes an excuse;  “I’m fat because I have the fat marker.”


But imagine if the brain mapping could figure out what the pathway is to stop cravings, or learn to feel full and satisfied with less food, or help change people from “live to eat” to “eat to live” types?  The economic payback for this brain mapping could be way bigger than the Human Genome.  The diet industry today just in America is over $60 billion a year and failing miserably.


Granted that if brain mapping could work to help people lose weight some people currently employed would be out of work, like Marie Osmond for Nutrisystem, Jennifer Hudson for Weight Watchers and Suzanne Somers for, well Suzanne Somers.  But they could just fall back of singing and what ever else Suzanne Somers can do.


It took a long time to get that Human Genome thing done.  I think Russ worked on it when he was in college or Grad school and that was like twenty-five years ago.  So let’s encourage the president and this bright Doctor to work a little faster on the brain project.  I think I want to short Weight Watchers stock, but I want to time it right.

I’m Advocating Eating Spaghetti Just This Once


See Kathy Jacob’s halo


Most people I know don’t cut their own hair, thank god.  If you have a hair stylist then you know how important that relationship is between you and the person holding the sharp weapon behind you.  I feel a great indebtedness to the saint who listens to me every month as she works miracles with the pitiful hair I bring her to work on. Kathy Jacobs the owner of Sling Blades has been my hair angel for at least the last seven years.  Not only does she give me a do I can do, but also I know she has also been listening to me.  How do I know that?   All on her own Kathy decided that she wanted to help make a difference for hungry people in our community.

Every month as I get all nineteen of my hairs trimmed Kathy and I talk about things we are passionate about.  Food is often the hot topic and my work with the Food Bank of CENC.  Kathy is a kick ass cook and loves to feed people so we have a lot in common.  She has other clients who run food pantries and also hears from them about the growing number of people who are food insecure.

One day Kathy decided that she wanted to get involved to help feed her neighbors.  Her brilliant idea was to marry her love of feeding people with fund raising and decided to hold a spaghetti dinner to raise money for the Food Bank.  I have never seen Kathy so excited about anything, other than her daughter, as she told me about her plans to cook a fabulous dinner and serve it out of the Pleasant Green Community Center in Durham.  She has gotten prizes to raffle, belly dancers to come and entertain and is making the most delicious of meals all to benefit hunger relief.

If you are looking for a great dinner this Saturday night and want to help hungry people at the same time think about going down to Sling Blades Hunger Relief Spaghetti Dinner and say that Dana sent you.

Regardless if you can make it Saturday or not there is an even easier way for you to help the Food Bank win $45,000.  Wal-Mart is giving away millions of dollars to Food Banks across the nation, but the winners have to get votes on the Wal-Mart Face book page.  You can vote once a day for the next 40 days.  Just click on this link and like the Food Bank of CENC. bit.ly/VoteFBCENC.  It won’t cost you a cent and if the Food Bank does get the money they can turn it into $450,000 worth of food.  NO brainer – please vote and share it with your friends.

It takes all of us doing what we can to take of the world.  Thanks to all of you who participate in making it a better place.  Now go eat some spaghetti and vote.

10 Foods That Will Change Your Life –NOT


Writing a blog about dieting makes me a huge Internet target for every weight loss quack.  Search engine optimizationers think they hit the jackpot for selling me the newest and craziest pills, potions, foods, supplements and exercise equipment.  Since my Internet fingerprint is riddled with all things weight loss related any dumb computer is sure I need to know what they are pushing.


Not so fast.  If any of them would dig a little deeper they would quickly learn that I don’t buy any of what they are selling.  What I know is that losing weight is not a quick trick.  Sure, somebody may be discovering new “Super Foods” which are not really new to everyone, just maybe us in the over-processed world.  The hot foods today like Chia Seeds, yes the very ones made famous by the Chia pet and Chia head, or Acai may be uber good for you, but since they are not native to North Carolina and are being touted as the next big thing you will end up paying a lot of money for them and really how great can they be?


Eating local food in moderation is going to pay off a lot faster than eating exotic seeds and berries which will probably just leave you wanting some real food, like a cheese burger.


As far as I know there is not just one single food out there that will change your life, unless you are allergic to it and then it may end your life.  I am yet to find a “winning lottery ticket“ food.  The only way I can think of for a food to change your life is if you are single and you make a really spectacular apple pie that the future love of your life happens to eat and falls in love with you for your cooking.  They have not even tried that as the basis for a reality dating show so you know it is far fetched.  All this is to say give up on there being one, two or even three magic foods.


If you are looking for magic try smaller plates and bowls.  Smaller portions of regular food will dramatically help anyone be healthier more than any “Super Food” ever would.  I am not advocating fasting as a portion control method.  Some food everyday just makes our bodies run better.  The last thing you want your body to think is that the food supply is dwindling so that it goes into starvation mode and learns to live on less.


Next time you see a headline touting “Life Changing Foods” skip it.  Changing does not mean improving and most likely those foods they are enticing you with cost so much that they may be changing your wallet for the worst.

I’m The Narrator


I like cooking shows.  Not cooking competitions, but the old fashioned kind where it is just a chef and the camera talking you through what they are making.  Julia Child and Graham Kerr, better known as the galloping gourmet, were early stars in the cooking show world that I used to watch as a child.


PBS was the original source of those kinds of shows, then came the Food Network and now it’s the Cooking channel.  Food Network has gone into shows with more production like Iron Chef, Chopped and Restaurant Impossible.  Cooking channel has picked up the less expensive shows to make where it is just someone cooking in the kitchen telling you how. I like having the expert just narrate what they are doing as they are doing it.


When Carter and I were in London she brought it to my attention that I narrate what I am doing.  “I’m just going to pack my suitcase now,” or “I’m going to write my blog then take a shower.”  I guess Carter is right.   I do tend to narrate.  Those are just statements and not conversation.


Today I was watching Giada at Home on the Cooking Channel while I was eating my lunch and I realized that my narration sounds a lot like a TV chef, even when I am just narrating in my head.  I wonder if I always narrated or if my narration has been influenced by watching cooking shows?


Probably my constant narration is some sort of OCD.  I like to think of it as part of my storyteller personality and less of a disorder.  Maybe it is tied to my extrovertedness since neither of the introverts I live with tend to narrate.  Whatever, I am now on the lookout for when and what I am narrating because I am trying not to do it, at least not around my child.  I know that one day she will have the authority to commit me to a facility and I don’t need to give her more ammunition for my needing full time care.


I think that my narration defense could be that I am just practicing for when I get my own comedy cooking TV show.  Apparently I am very comfortable carrying on a one sided conversation.  I think in the TV world it is called the monologue.

Lightened Up Chimichurri Like Sauce



I hate wasting things, especially yummy tasting healthy things like Cilantro Stems and half bunch of flat leaf parsley so making them into sauces is the perfect answer.


Chimichurri sauce is originally from Argentina where the spicy bright green condiment was used on grilled meats.  It is very versatile and can be put on fish, chicken, and steak inside an omelet or as a dressing. I also love to roll a grilled ear of corn in it.


You can use any combination of green herbs and make it as spicy as you like by adding more or less jalapenos.  I dramatically cut back the amount of olive oil normally used in a chimichurri, which just makes the flavors that much more concentrated.


Big handful of Cilantro stems and what ever leaves are left on

Big handful of flat leaf parsley and the stems

6 cloves of garlic

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded

2 T. Sherry vinegar

2 T. Lime juice

1 T. olive oil

Salt and pepper


Throw everything in the food processor or blender and whirl it up into a liquid.  Make sure that everyone at the table eats it so everyone has garlic breath.


I put any leftover into the mini muffin tin and freeze it in.  Pop the little disks out of the muffin tin and put them in a zip lock bag so you have individual servings next time you are craving it.