Don’t Watch Me On TV Tomorrow

Since everyone I know has something more fun, entertaining or exciting to do tomorrow morning, or you have a child in a swim meet, horse show, basket ball or lacrosse tournament you will not be watching TV at nine in the morning.  That being the case I want to tell you now what you are going to be missing.  The Streets at Southpoint is hosting the Stop Summer Hunger day at the mall.


I will be appearing on ABC-11 between nine and ten to encourage people coming to the mall to bring non-perishable food and drop it off at The Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina’s truck parked by Champs.  You do not even have to get out of your car because there will be nice volunteers who will take the food from you.


Summer is a hard time for many families whose children get fed at school.  That regular meal at school is greatly missed by many children.  Please help the Food Bank feed those kids during this campaign.


If you don’t have food in your pantry you would like to give away don’t go to the store and buy it for us.  Just drive through and donate money.  One dollar given to the Food Bank can be turned into five meals.  If that swim meet is really long you can go online to and donate online.


If you happen to be free and want to come donate food and photo bomb me on TV please do.  I would love to see your smiling face while I am talking to Anthony Wilson with the camera rolling on live TV.  Come early because I can’t hang out since my child has a horse show too.  So miss me on TV because now you have heard the message about helping feed kids this summer.

Yellow Squash, Fennel and Goat Cheese Custard

Kristin Hiemstra of The Art of the Potential radio show has created a TV show called Rock Your Life.  She and her camera guy came and spent the better part of the day filming me for her show.  Part of the filming was interviewing my while I created a new recipe.  Since the first of my yellow squash was coming in I made up this side dish.  Kristin is still in the throws of selling this show so if it airs somewhere I will let you know.  Until then, just follow the recipe here.  It was really quite tasty.


4 Small Yellow Summer Squash- diced

1 Fennel Bulb -sliced and diced

5 eggs – beaten

8 oz. Fat Free Condensed Milk

10 Basil Leaves- minced

1 T. Fresh Thyme Leaves

5 Splenda packets

3 oz. Crumbled Goat Cheese

Salt and Pepper

Preheat the oven to 350º.  Heat a non-stick skillet on medium high heat and spray with Pam.  Sauté the squash, fennel, salt and pepper for about five minutes until lightly browned and soft.  Set aside to cool slightly.  In a large bowl add eggs, condensed milk and whisk together.  Add herbs, Spelnda and the cooled vegetables and a little more salt and pepper and fold.  Spray Pam in individual ramekins and using a ladle fill each one with the mixture.  Dot the top of each ramekin with a little goat cheese.

Put the ramekins in an oblong baking pan and place in the oven.  Pour enough hot water into the baking pan to come up at least half way of the sides of the ramekins.  Bake for 25 minutes.  Makes six servings.

May is the Farewell Season


Spring is supposed to be the season of rebirth and renewal, but for me it is usually the season of goodbye.  I am late with my blog today because in the last twenty-four hours I have attended three farewell celebrations.  Perhaps celebrations is not the right word, but send-offs sounds too casual. I went to a goodbye lunch today for my friend Meg who is moving to Baltimore, then to an ice cream social for Durham Academy’s long time Headmaster Ed Costello who is retiring.


Last night we had the Durham Academy board of Trustees annual thank you those trustees who are rolling off the board and welcome to the newly elected.  Many past board members who came to pay tribute to Ed attended the annual event.  The board members in the room were keenly aware of the good work Ed has done and the quite way he steered the school.


I was lucky enough to get to make the thank you remarks for my friend Sara Pottenger.  I am including them here today not only to pay tribute to Sara, but as a small guide for anyone who is ever asked to sit on a non-profit board, a job with great satisfaction if done right, but little fan fair.  Sara, with lots of experience serving many institutions is one to be emulated.


A Tribute to Sara Pottenger


When I realized that Sara Pottenger was leaving the board I got a little pit in my stomach. For those of you who serve on the board with us there is no way you could tell that my goal in life is to grow up to be like Sara Pottenger, but it’s true. See Sara is my board idol.  But I am obviously a poor student because I have not learned her ways and it looks like my time has run out.


Sara has a sense of grace about her as she quietly and serenely runs her committees and what a lot of them there have been.  We and I mean the entire school is indebted to her for co-chairing the Evergreen campaign with her husband Dave and the Suttons.  As the chair of the development committee along with the campaign for the last three years she has done double duty to ensure the money the school needs is there.  Sara easily could have just headed one of these committees but she has never asked anyone to do something that she was not willing to do herself.  She is by all definitions a true servant leader.


From the day that Durham Academy accepted Sara and Dave’s oldest daughter Tatum sixteen years ago she has been fully involved.  Besides all the regular room parent stuff Sara has consistently been a caller for the gift club for annual fund.  The Pottengers have generously given to the school every year, without fan fair. 


Recognizing talent the board asked her and Dave to serve as chairs as of the New Parents phase in the Cornerstone campaign.  You would think after all these years of constantly asking people to fork over their hard earned dollars to DA, people would run from Sara, but quite the opposite.  Her kind hearted manner and her devotion to our school has made her the perfect torchbearer for all these years.  And many of us have willing followed her into the cause. 


We were lucky to have her serve on the board for seven years; Her first in an ex-officio roll as the president of parents’ council in 2004- 05. She served on the strategic planning retreat in 2006 and then the board recognized that her thoughtful and consider council was needed back.  So Sara has spent the last six years serving this board.  She has had almost every job except President and we all know that being campaign and development chair is harder than being president.  Right David Beischer?


Someone was brilliant enough to have her on Trusteeship and the executive committee as secretary for every year she has been on this board.   Sara leads by example and is always thinking about the long-term viability of the institution. I have never heard Sara bring up an issue that is really about her child.  She understands that her role as trustee is not what goes on with her children, but what is best for everyone’s children.


Sara is obviously a brilliant negotiator because when we got her to head up different development roles she brought along her husband Dave.  Together they make a talented team.  So sadly we are not just losing Sara, but Dave may be retiring too.  Dave is the first to say that Sara is the brains in that team, but I know he is selling himself short. 


Obviously, like Dave, I am a faithful Sara Pottenger devotee. I know that I have failed in emulating her in board meetings for Sara never talks out of turn or raises her voice.  When I grow up I want to be as hard a worker, thoughtful, kind and gentle southern women as Sara.  I hope no one is holding their breath because I know I am not worthy to walk in her footprints and I am fairly certain we will be hard pressed to find another like her.


Hidden Zipper Warning Tags Needed


If you are not a seamstress you might not realize how hard it is to sew a hidden zipper into a dress. The beauty of the hidden side seam zipper is it makes the dress able to be more body hugging than a dress that is just pulled over your head without a zipper. Today’s manufacturers have really perfected putting a barely perceptible zipper in the side seam of a dress.


I am a fan of the hidden zipper, but I apparently need a big flashing warning tag alerting me that the hidden zipper exists before I try a dress on in a department store dressing room.  As any woman in America knows once you go in a dressing room in a big department store you might as well have fallen down the rabbit hole.  You are totally on your own; no matter if a clerk somewhere in the store had said earlier, “Please let me know if I can help you.”  What that clerk really means is, “When you check out make sure you tell the next clerk who helps you that you were my customer and I am getting credit for selling you all those items.”  Not that any of the sales people actually were help.


Today I was visiting one of those type stores.  I am in the market for a summer dress or two and the day after Labor Day is a good slow day in retail, which makes dressing room availability more favorable.  Unfortunately the stores also only scheduled a skeleton crew because they know the store will be empty.


I browsed through the dress department and gathered an armful of garments.  As I knew would be the case I was the only person in the dressing room area so I had my choice of rooms.  Alone in the dimly lit cubicle I started to try on each dress.  Too short, weird splotchy print, cheep belt, no luck; I kept trying, but was getting a little exhausted.  The next dress was promising; good color, short sleeves, nice length.  I shimmied into the dress barely able to squish is over my bust.  Perhaps I was wrong.  The lining twisted around me making the draping awkward.  No, move on, but when I went to pull the dress back over my head I was stuck.


The lining twisted more and the nipped waist of the form fitting dress was stuck with one boob above the seam and one boob below.  The material was of a non-stretch nature and I was trapped.  I wiggled and wriggled, but this being about the fourteenth dress I had tried on my stamina was waning.


“Hello,” I called out.  “Is anyone out there?”  Crickets.  Only the annoying music was pulsing through the store.  “Help, “ I cried.  Nothing. I paused and contorted and attempted to dislocate one shoulder so I could free myself.  Miraculously I dislodged myself from the dress without ripping it.  As I was untangling the mess of fabric to place back on the hanger I noticed the invisible side zipper.  If only I had noticed it before I tried to put the dress on I would have known I could unzip it to take the dress off.  Something I could not see when my head was wrapped inside the dress.


I think as a courtesy a bright yellow “Hidden Zipper” warning tag would help a girl out.  Not only would it make putting the dress on and off easier, but also it would probably sell a few more dresses because no one wants to buy a dress that is more like a straight jacket than garment.


I did find a dress to buy.  When I went to the check out and the girl asked me if I found everything OK I really had to hold back from telling her that there was a strangler in the dressing room that I needed saving from.  I was in an unusually charitable mood after she told me the dress was marked down from $109 to $23 so I just said it was all fine.

Memorial Day to Remember



I know today is Memorial Day and really I should be spending time being thankful for those who made great sacrifices for the freedom I enjoy, but somehow today’s theme was more like I-wonder-how-I-get-in-these-positions.  The day started off great with a little sleeping-in which was much welcomed after staying up late last night watching the season finale of Smash and then Mad Men followed by some of the completely outrageous Behind the Candelabra.  I fell asleep sometime after Liberace’s face-lift and am going to have to pick it up from there tonight.


I think that I paid for all that TV decadence with my actives today.  Carter wanted to go riding and needed to have an adult there to watch in case of emergency.  The horse Carter is showing next weekend is a thorough bred named Maggie who is apparently a little too fast and wild for most other riders so her trainer likes to get Carter on her as much as possible to help school her.  The part about being fast and wild is scary for a mother to watch, but luckily Carter only went off her once in a fairly good roll.


I brought Shay to the barn so she and I watched Carter ride together.  Shay is more okay with horses than I am except when they get too close.  After Carter untacked Maggie she asked if I could hold the lead while she took the saddle back to the barn.  Shay was none to happy about that so she jumped into my lap and Maggie decided that gave her an even better view of the two of us.  IT was not my favorite position to be in.


After riding it was time for me to make my appearance at our club for my dunk tank performance.  This weekend is the grand opening of our new pool, which was a huge success.  The place was packed and everyone from grandmother to toddlers seemed to be having a big time.    Consequently there were plenty of people waiting for their chance to drop me in the tank of fairly disgusting water.  Although it was cold it was not unbearable.  I think that everyone got his or her money’s worth because it seemed easy to hit the target and drop me in.  Climbing back up on the seat was the hardest part of all. I certainly got my upper body workout for the day.  I must have gone in at least 30 times.  I owe the dunk tank experience to my dear friend Stephanie who convinced me to say yes when no other women would.


Being a person who says yes more than no does get me in some interesting predicaments.  But as my friends from college used to say as a dare, “What are you going to remember?”  I think I will remember this Memorial Day and maybe next year I will spend it remembering those who deserved to be remembered and not creating some folly of my own.

Happy Day with Russ and Shay


One of the blessings of living where we do is that my parents live exactly one hour away at Hom-a-gen, the farm that has been in our family for, well forever.  Hom-a-gen was one of the reasons we moved to Durham in the first place.  When Russ was looking at business schools twenty years ago being close to the farm was a real draw, especially for Russ and now for Shay-Shay.  See having acre upon acre to run free is paradise for a dog that lives on a leash in her home neighborhood.


Carter is studying for exams but Russ finally felt like he had gotten ahead of his work so he and I made a quick trip to the farm after church.   My parents were free to join us for lunch at my father’s favorite Mexican restaurant in Danville, El Vallarta.  My father is such a regular there that even though the place was full of people waiting to be seated he just walked right in and went to his special corner in the back and magically his regular table was sitting empty as if it were permanently reserved for him.


The wait staff greets him as the big tipper he is and brings the beer my father is known to order.  No one asked why we did not have menus as all the people who were seated by the hostess did.  No one questioned us seating our self or skipping the line.  My father is clearly a charter member of the el Vallarta club.


After lunch we went back to the farm to run, walk and throw the tennis balls to Shay, which was the real purpose for going there.  Shay loves to run after a tennis ball as fast as she can.  She is also fairly good at catching it in mid air, but bringing back to you is not her thing.  She usually will pick it up and carry it to her self-determined home base.  This means Russ or I have to walk to were she drops the ball.  We usually play with at least two balls at a time with her so that at one time one of us is retrieving and one is throwing.  You would think that the labradoodle should be the retriever, but that is not the case.


After the throwing and catching session Russ and I walked down to the big lower pond led by Shay.  She knows every inch of the place and only stops to look back to make sure we are following her every once in a while.  I swear she is smiling as she walks.  If she had a cartoon bubble above her head showing what she is thinking it would be one simple sentence over and over again, “I love the farm.  I love the farm.  I love the farm.”


After circling the pond, surveying the schools of new baby fish and enjoying the perfect sunshine we walk up the hill to go sit with my Dad outside the office barn.  With Shay trotting ahead on the dirt farm road I look over at Russ and I think I see the cartoon bubble above his head, “I love the farm.  I love the farm.  I love the farm.”

A man and his dog in pure nirvana.

The Murder I Did Not Commit Today


Here is the news that did not happen, but was so close.  Russ and I have needed to buy a new mattress for a while.  Russ does not care what he sleeps on.  In fact since he hardly sleeps at all almost the worst thing gives him the best sleep.  A small loveseat under a florescent light with an infomercial blaring on the TV causes him the best sleep.  Not me.  Princess and the pea would be my theme.  Since he does not care and I do he has asked me to just go buy a new mattress alone.  What Russ failed to understand in my princess role I needed him to come lie on each bed next to me and move around so I could test how well partner movement is contained, as they say in the trade.


Finding a time that Russ is free when stores are open is a difficult task so today, rather than enjoying the beautiful weather we went mattress shopping.  After leaving disappointed salesmen in our wake we finally settled on one and started to cruise out of the mall.  All this lying around had got me plum tuckered out so I asked Russ if I could stop at the coffee bar at Nordstrom to get a quick iced coffee.  He happily plopped in a chair and read his e-mail.


I approached the order line and was happy that there were only a couple of people in front of me.  As the first person spent a ridiculous amount of time discussing all the flavors of tea with the check out girl I began to become annoyed.  Knowing that my blood sugar was low I used my best distraction technique and focused on the mother and her eight and ten year old girls in front of me.  Big mistake.  I should have pulled my phone out and read my e-mail rather than eavesdrop on this crazy mother.


She was a tiny woman in her early forties with long blond hair and no makeup wearing a strapless top and cargo pants.  As I stood behind this mother the one characteristic about her that really stood out was that her bare back looked like a bag of oranges it was so muscular and void of any bit of fat to create a smooth look.  I glanced at her arms and I could practically see the sinew in her muscles as if she had no skin covering her built anatomy.


She was the one I wanted to murder and it had nothing to do with her over worked out physique, but the conversation she had with her daughters that went like this, I swear to God.


Mother:  What do you want?


Older daughter:  I think I’ll have a pretzel


Mother:  That’s good.  Do you want to go upstairs to Aunt Annie’s?


Older daughter:  No, this one here is good.


Mother: (To the younger one) What about you?


Younger one: How about chips?


Mother:  No, what about a smoothie?


Younger One:  What about a pretzel?


Mother:  No.  I don’t think a pretzel is healthy enough.


Older One:  You said I could get a pretzel.


Mother:  No, you can’t.  How about edemame?


Younger One:  I’ll just get a smoothie.


Mother:  Who said you could get a smoothie?


Younger One:  You did.


Older One:  Wait, what about an Aunt Annie’s pretzel.


Mother:  No, why would I let you go there?


By this time the tea discusser had been long gone and the clerk was waiting on this crazy mother to order.  I strongly considered stepping in to tell her to stop contradicting herself and order something or step aside.  I stopped myself because probably on steroids of some kind.  In the end she got herself and iced tea and her daughters two waters.  Was I wrong not to call social services?