All Sports are Better With Hats



I am a very competitive person, but not very athletic, which might actually be a good thing. If I were good at sports I might not have any friends because I would constantly working on beating them. There are a few things I can do and one is croquet. Perhaps it is because I really like the outfits. If more sports encouraged large floppy hats I might have tried a little harder at them.


Today we are off to celebrate our dear friend’s Mick and Hannah’s 20th anniversary with a friendly game of croquet. Not many steps are spent on your average game so I am going to have to circle my opponents at all times to make the game exercise friendly. I think it might also make them nervous so thus my competitive side comes out.


The only problem I see in this event is that it is going to eat into my needlepoint championship, which ends on Wednesday at 4:30 exactly. I have been in a yearlong battle with a few other competitive stitchers and I bet that none of them are spending the last precious days playing croquet. Now I just have to figure out how to wear a big hat, circle the wickets, stitch and hit my ball to the stick all at the same time. I’ll post a photo on Face book if I am able to succeed. Until then, I’m off to the green.

Asian Baby Eggplant Salad



Today at the farmers market there were these beautiful tiny purple and white eggplant. Not having any idea what I was going to do with them I scooped up two pints and brought them home along with six kinds of tomatoes, corn and lots of other end of summer yummies.


I have been eating a lot of tomato and mozzarella or tomato and goat cheese salads so I wanted to prepare the eggplant in a flavor profile other than Mediterranean. SO what could be better than something with fish sauce? Since I was hungry I also wanted to make something fast. Turned out to be both easy and delicious all the while remaining healthy. Win, win, win.


20-baby eggplant – halved

1 T. olive oil

20 cherry tomatoes- halved

20-mint leaves- chopped

20 basil leaves- chopped




Juice of two limes

2 Tb. Fish sauce

3 splenda packets

3 dried red chilies – or you can use a ¼ teaspoon of red pepper flakes

2 cloves of garlic

1 T. olive oil

2 T. fresh ginger-grated

1 T. soy sauce


Heat a non-stick fry pan up to medium high heat and add olive oil and the eggplant. Sautee until golden brown and soft, stirring often. This will take about three minutes.


In a blender or using a stick blender mix all the ingredients for the dressing and whirl until the garlic and the chilies are finely minced.


Mix everything together in a bowl and let sit for a few minutes sot he flavors can marry. Can be served at any temperature, but will be even better then next day..

Certain Slow Death



Yesterday I was driving home from downtown Durham early in the morning and I noticed a biscuit war between Biscuitville and Hardees had broken out. The little moveable black letter sign outside Biscuitville read, “Best biscuits in town” and not 200 feet down the road the little moveable black letter sign at Hardees read “Fried Bologna & Velveeta Biscuits.”


I got to thinking that assisted suicide is illegal here in this state, yet slow, long drawn out killing by biscuits is apparently legal. Now Biscuitville could change their sign to read, “You can eat more of our biscuits in a lifetime than the other guys,” followed by tiny mice type reading, “As long as you eat a plain biscuit.” And Hardees could change their sign to, “Fried Bologna & Velveeta biscuits, perfect for your mother-in-law.” Tiny mice type, “Who you are tired of having live with you.” Those might be more honest ads. Or if you really wanted to demand total honesty, “We are going to love you to death with our biscuits.”


I feel like Hardees has thrown in the towel as far as ever wanting to have customers who live past the age of forty-five. How much bad can you put on one breakfast sandwich when you are frying an already fat-full piece of bologna and then adding the “cheese product” known as Velveeta that is only made out of oil and does not require refrigeration? I was not even talking about the butter/lard and who knows what else biscuit full of salt.


I checked the sodium content of this morning treat and it has 1030 MG of sodium. The average recommended daily serving is 1200mg. Good luck, there is practically sodium in air, you will surpass your limit before your morning coffee break. That is if you only eat one biscuit and no hash browns. I bet Hardees might even do a two-fer-one deal on those heart stoppers.


I wonder if the makers of the moveable black letter signs make the word “Biscuit” in a premade version so the fast food workers don’t have to figure out how to spell it when putting up the advertisement. I am yet to see one of those signs with the words, “fruit skewer special.”


Really North Carolina, if you are not going to allow assisted suicide for people who are clearly suffering from some heinous aliment, you really should not allow “Fried bologna and Velveeta biscuits.” It’s the same thing, just slower.

The Hundred Foot Journey- A Dieter’s Torture



Today my friend Christy and I went to lunch and since our children, at least mine and most of hers are away on school trips we decided to do the decedent thing of going to an afternoon movie. I have not been to the movies all summer, mostly because there has not been anything I was dying to see, but now good movies are starting to come back out.


We went to see Helen Miren in “The Hundred Foot Journey” a food movie if ever there was one. I am thankful for a couple for a couple of things. First, that we went directly from lunch to the movies, that way I was full and not tempted by the regular movie treats and also that I was full and not seduced by the food being portrayed on the screen. The second thing I was thankful for was the lack of smell-a-vision.


If Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey had ponied up for installing the completely doable technology to make the smells of the foods that were being cooked at the appropriate times in the theatres the movie could have been renamed, “The ten thousand calorie journey.” In order to cover the extra costs of smell-a-vision the producers could have sold the companion cookbook and even the mail-order complete frozen dinner service for all the foods they cooked in the movie.


Clearly Steven and Oprah have not learned the successful marketing circle that Disney so beautifully mastered by making a toy, a book and a ride at Disney World as well as dress up costumes to match each movie they put out.


It’s not too late for the producers to throw together an around the globe eating tour to take lovers of the movie and eating to Paris and then to India and back to wherever in France the movie was shot. Cooking lessons could be included as well as language courses so regular ‘ole Americans could understand the many parts of the movie that were not translated into our native tongue.


As a professional weight-loss expert I do not recommend seeing this film on an empty stomach. The number of beautiful food related minutes in the movie are too great to test the will power of most mere mortals, let alone anyone who is trying to actively drop a few pounds. But for all lovers of food and the visual arts it is a film worth seeing. I think I need to see it a second time and take notes about the actual dishes. This first time I just let the calories flow over me. Of course I was craving both French bread and Curried Goat at the same time after the movie was over.


The one thing I wish I had was the list of ingredients the star used in his Indian inspired omelet. Please, please let that recipe get put on the Internet so I can make it at home. Not only did it look delicious, but also it did not seem too far outside my healthy eating regime. This movie was pure food porn and I feel dirty for loving it so much.

So Many Surveys, So Little Improvement



Seems like I get six or seven surveys a day asking how some service I received or product I bought was. Not only do some companies send you one or two e-mail, but my car service department sent me nine different requests to review the same oil change. Hey Ford, if I had a problem you would know it, take my silence as a good sign and stop bugging me.


E-mail is harmless enough and easy to delete, but phone calls to ask me about my service are a line that should not be crossed. Any of my readers certainly know that I have strong opinions and am never shy about letting the appropriate people know when I am very unhappy or very happy.


Today at lunch a group of us got a yummy Nicoise Salad. We thought it should have come with capers, based on our historical knowledge of what a Nicoise salad usually had and the description in the menu. We asked the waitress and she brought us an abundance of capers to add to our lunch, which we greatly appreciated.


She told us that what we got was the chef’s interpretation of the Nicoise Salad. Fine, he can interpret all he wants and I will just order capers on the side. A supervisor later told us that capers were supposed to come on that salad. Since we are regulars at this place and she was new I let her know not to bother trying to sell us any excuses the sous chef wants her to sell us next time. It might not have been the nicest thing in the world to say, but it will save her heartache when she waits on me in the future. I did not need a survey to ask me what was wrong, it was easiest to tell the person I will see regularly how to make sure I am a happy customer.


I like to give feedback so things get better, but what I can’t stand is being asked to spend my time to help someone improve their business and then have them repeat the same mistakes over and over again. Stop asking me ‘cause it is worst that I went to the trouble of telling you and you ignored me.


The world has plenty of ways to give feed back and most of them are public and not nice. Sometimes I read trip advisor reviews and want to have a review of the reviewer. Clearly their standards are not the same as my standards. Sometimes I am more harsh than others just because I am hungry, as was probably the case today according to my friend Carol.


It’s all right to ask for feed back, but please don’t badger customers to death to tell you what they think. They may have been perfectly happy until you started bothering them, take no news as good news.



My Day with Jean(ne)s



Somehow today everything on my calendar ended up to be with different friends named Jean(ne). It started with my annual lunch to celebrate my friend Jean Bethea’s birthday, which was a happy occasion. Jean and I have been friends at least fifteen years. She is always good about remembering my birthday and celebrating it with not just gifts, but a lunch out to catch up.


I am not as good at birthdays. Hard as I try I usually miss the actual day, especially Jean’s since it is in the beginning of August, a time of year I don’t look at the calendar, know what day it is or even what time it is. This year was a little better than usual because we actually had our lunch out in the same month as her birthday. I am trying to be better at these things especially given my second Jeanne thing today.


See my great and wonderful friend Jeanne Behr is moving on Saturday. I am sad, sad, sad, but since her husband David Anderson got a great job at George Washington University I know she has to go.   I still don’t have to be happy about it. Last week Jeanne and I got together for what we thought was our going away lunch and trip to the needlepoint store, but we were not ready to say goodbye.


So we are having dinner tonight and I promise no crying even though it is what I feel like doing. Jeanne and I got to know each other originally at church while she and David were dating. They sat in my regular section. We liked and disliked the same things. We laughed about the same things and complained about the same things. Eventually I started to bug David about when they might get married. When the time came I was the director of their wedding.


It seems to me like I have friends moving away at a much faster rate than I am making them. This is not good given that my child is not going to be living at home in about three years and the rate at which one makes new friends slows down dramatically without a child.


Of course I will still be friends with Jeanne, she is just moving five hours away, but it is not the same as having that person sitting behind you on Sunday. The best gift I can give Jeanne is a chance to meet some of my Washington area friends so she can start to make friends in her new home. Her kids are way grown up. She is moving to Old Town Alexandria so you people in the capital area contact me so I can put you in touch with her, Dorothy Pearson I’m talking to you.


I have an opening in my friends named Jeanne category as well as my friend’s named David. Yes, David I will miss you too, especially your dry wit, but I am still a little mad at your for taking Jeanne away. Just remember that Durham is a good place to retire to and I bet I can get your place in the pew behind me back from whoever moves into your spot. There is no way they can be as good as you two are.



Please Summer, Don’t Go




I am fighting the end of summer in the worst way. I wait all year for it to get here –plan as much travel, camp, eating warm just picked tomatoes, not waking up before the sun, lazing around as I can fit into the months Carter is out of school. Meetings don’t happen, or if I want to skip them I can use the “it’s summer excuse,” the phone does not ring, e-mails are more junk than requests for actual work, everyone is forgiving.


Last week Carter started back at school, but I still was in denial. It had been a big summer, Africa, Maine, Baltimore, Washington, Hamilton, Mass. Carter had five weeks of camp, we had a week of family camp and three days at Warren’s Maine HoJo’s retreat. I got nothing done at home. Piles of to-do chores continued to build up. Magazine work sat on my computer. Cars in need of inspections sat in the driveway unchecked. Requests lay in my in-box unanswered, even invitations to probably really fun parties went un–RSVP’d to which is a major pet peeve, except in the summer.


Since going to Maine I let my walking get cut in half to 10,000 steps a day so that I might actually get something productive done with the last few days of summer. All that happened is that I walked less. No closets were cleaned out, or clothes taken to consignment even though they did actually move from the ottoman in our bed room to laundry baskets by the garage door months ago.


Now all my desks both standing and sitting are full of piles of things like Carter’s Honor Camper certificate and trip itineraries from our safaris so I can have a reference when I actually get around to finishing our Africa photo book. I owe e-mails with pictures of all the friends we made on our travels who I promised I would send pictures to. But nothing is happening because my mind is still in summer mode with no end in sight.


I extended summer a little by driving the Cheerio reunion gang to Charlotte this weekend and taking a mini alone vacation in which I intended to actually get some work done. The only problem is I had too much fun on that overnight because Charlotte friends read my blog I posted at 7:00 that night and invited me to have dinner with them at the last minute. How could I say no, and why would I, it was still summer in my mind and the heat proved it.


Here is the problem. Summer is over. I need to start looking at my calendar a few days ahead and see what I am supposed to be doing rather than a few days after and see what I have missed. Today at noon I opened the freezer in the garage and was reminded that I was in charge of the vegetarian entrée and the delivery of a friend’s cake at a church new members dinner that was held last night. Being a summer slacker as an excuse is going to start to wear thin.


So I offer this blog as my blanket apology if I have owed you something, missed a meeting, or thank you note. I may make it back into the land of the super organized, over achieving, pain-in-the-asses, but then again, maybe not. I really like summer.