Frying Chicken is No Exercise

I slept in a little this morning, really just a little rather than getting up and walking. I knew that I was going to be busy making “somebody died? fried chicken” and going to a funeral I thought that I deserved a little lie in. Boy was that a mistake.

Thoughtfully I had two friend’s lose loved ones pass away in close proximity to each other so I was able to kill the proverbial two birds with one stone and just fry double the chicken in one grease cloud fried mess. Making this “you only get it in times of great sorrow” chicken takes some time, but I thought it would be more of a workout than it was.

After a few hours tending the stove I checked my fitbit to discover that I had walked a pitiful 1,500 steps while making 48 pieces of chicken. That is only about 30 steps per thigh, and I mean chicken thigh, Dreadful!

Now I have no control when people pass away, but it is the last day of the month. I have been on a fairly good run of walking over 20,000 steps a day, save two of my sick days. I knew that I had banked some extra steps early in the month and I quickly used up my surplus when I did not get out of bed all day last Sunday.

As of last night I was in good standing as long as I did at least 20,000 today. What was I thinking, sleeping in? I knew that funeral attendance would equal virtually no steps, but why did I think that chicken cooking would be a big stroll in the park. I am here to say it is not.

Cooking or being chained to a stove is not exercise. Perhaps if I did chain saw ice sculpting I would burn some real calories, but I don’t consider an ice sculpture appropriate sympathy fare. Maybe a treadmill stove is the answer, but somehow that seems counter intuitive to burning calories.

No Mrs. Lange


Growing up in the sixties in Connecticut with very young parents who had even younger friends I was almost always the oldest child around.  Given that youth was so prized at that time my parents friends abhorred the idea of being called Mr. or Mrs. Anything. Thus I called all parents really close friends by their first names.

I in turn was very old before Carter came around and since she was born in Durham, NC, which is not as southern as most North Carolina towns, but is still far more southern than Connecticut
, her friends called me Mrs. Lange and she called all most of my friends Mrs. or Mr. Something.  Only recently have things begun to relax.

One of Carter’s good friends who spends a good amount of time at our house felt close enough to me to give me a less formal nick name of Dma, short for Dana Mom.  Another who only moved here a year ago just calls me Dana since she was fifteen when she met me.  Carter refers to me as Dana with her group of friends and a couple of them have taken that as a sign that they can call me Dana too, which I actually prefer.

But old habits are hard to break.  This week one of Carter’s oldest and best friends Campbell turns sixteen.  Carter and Campbell started Pre-k together and have been together for twelve years now.  Campbell is the friend that broke Carter of her fear of sleeping at someone else’s house, or technically, Campbell’s mother Hannah broke her.  We have gone on vacation with Campbell, taken her on trips with us and if ever there was an emergency, Campbell was there.  I think it is time for Campbell to stop calling me Mrs. Lange.

I think it is easier to refer to me as Dana  behind my back, but to my face I’m not sure it will happen. It just makes me feel really old to be called Mrs. Lange and I would like for Carter’s friends to help me out in the reverse aging process and start calling me Dana.

Happy Birthday Campbell.  It is hard for me to believe that you are sixteen.  Just a moment ago you were a Daisy in my troop, waiting for the goldfish to be handed out, now you are driving.  Your birthday present to me is that you call me Dana from now on.  My present to you is the same thing it always is, if you ever need help, you can call me.  I love watching you grow up to being such a wonderful person and I look forward to seeing all the places you go in the next twelve years.

You Start To See The Thread

As I was heading out to a board meeting in Raleigh I got a text from Carter, excited after her advance photography’s class went to visit the Nasher Art Museum. “OMG, I wish you were with us. I loved the ancient and medieval paintings and pottery and sculpture,” she gushed. “I can’t wait to show you the photos I took of what I saw.”

Music to a mother’s ears.

Most people don’t know I was an art major in college. It was not so much because I had a huge artistic talent, but that I quickly figured out that I could produce fifty prints of one silk screen and sell them for $50 each and be making more cash than my parents were paying in tuition. I guess I really was a Sales Major, but my fine liberal arts institution would have frowned on that as an official major.

The true art talent in my family is my mother. If you want proof visit her website at Jane Carter Art. You don’t have to know much about art, just visit the Awards page to see the long list of art shows she has won. Finally after winning everything there is in the south she decided to stop entering shows. I thought that was nice of her to give some new artists chances to win, since I’m sure if she entered she would take a prize.

My sister Margaret is also quite artistic as an interior designer and if you want to see what her eye can do visit Margaret Carter Interiors. My baby sister Janet is also a great photographer, but you will just have to take my word on that.

All that being said, it is nice to see the love of art coming out in my own daughter. She loves photography, but is now making the connection about history and art and how it is all tied together. It is nice to see a child learn to appreciate something you love all by themselves. I can’t wait to see how this weaves into a great fabric.

Late Afternoon Shopping Syndrome

This morning when I poured my milk on my cereal I noticed it was slightly tangier than it should have been. Of course that did not stop me from eating my regular breakfast. I just did not share the leftover milk with Shay as I usually do. It would be OK to make myself sick, but not my dog.

I went to work out and on my way home thought about stopping at the market to get a replacement milk, but then I got sidetracked in my own brain and before I knew it I was sitting in my driveway. Big mistake. I should have turned my car right around at that moment and gone to buy milk, but I did not. Instead I went inside and got on my treadmill to clock some steps before my weekly Mah Jongg game. Sounds like the plan of a woman who is towing the healthy living line. NO.

After losing all but one game at the table today I should have gone right to the store on my way home and picked up that one bottle of milk, but I did not. Instead I came home to walk Shay who had been deprived of her milk snack this morning and had been home alone for a few hours. Sounds like I was being a good dog mommy, but I was setting myself up for a bigger mess up.

I should have gone right back out to the store, but instead I got on my treadmill, then I thought I would wait until Carter ran home between school and basketball practice so I could see her for five minutes. Sounds like I was being a good Mom, but it was a mistake.

By the time I did all those other things I remembered that I needed milk at 4:30 in the afternoon so off to the store I went. Big Mistake. 4:30 is my number one most hungry hour in the whole day. What was I thinking going unaccompanied into a grocery store full of Super Bowl Snack displays with a full wallet and empty stomach? Why did I get a cart when I really only needed milk?

The milk I buy is all the way in the back far corner of the store. With a giant cart, a full wallet and big eyes I wondered through the fruits and vegetables. First putting blueberries and a ripe avocado in my cart. Not so bad. But then I neared the fresh baked bread with samples for free, and then a cookie display and suddenly I had eaten things that I thought I had conquered.

Cheese and Bacon went in the cart with my salad for dinner plan being thrown out the window. At last I arrived at the milk where once the glass bottle was in the cart I made a beeline for the check out. $34 later I was walking out the store with two full bags.

Since my store does not offer armed guards at 4:30 to hold a weapon on me so I only keep to my list, I think my only answer to over come late-afternoon-shopping-syndrome is to leave my wallet, credit cards and phone in the car and just walk in the grocery store with $5 next time I need milk. That way I have no extra money to buy what I clear should not. Oh the depths I need to sink to in order to live a healthy life.

Ed Carter, Ahead of His Time


When I was a kid my sisters and I would spend our Saturday mornings riding around in my Dad’s car while he did errands. The loop was usually the same, the bank, since it was back in the day before ATM’s to get cash; the hardware store to get whatever items were needed for the weekend’s chores, since we were the in house handymen and painters; the grocery store, since my Dad wanted to eat and was without his executive dining room over the weekend; the liquor store, for cash if we missed getting to the bank before noon when it closed and for other things they sold at the liquor store – to us kids it was for the free lollypops ensuring future customer loyalty; the chain saw and lawn mower store, since we were our own lawn service; and lastly the car wash since my Dad liked his cars really clean and although he trusted his children with saws, power tools and climbing up on the roof to fix the antenna he wanted a professional to wash his car.

Long before my sister Janet was born and Margaret was just toddler, nick named George, I was used to riding in the front seat of my Dad’s black Corvair on our Saturday errands. As we drove up South Avenue in New Canaan heading towards Belcher’s, the chain saw store, with the windows open and my father singing at the top of his lungs, “Michelle, my belle,” I would lay down on the floor of the front seat in embarrassment.

“People are looking at us,” I would plead.

My father would just laugh. “They don’t care,” he would say, but to pacify me he would take me into Breslows, the candy and magazine store and buy me a Heath bar while he picked up a Car and Driver Magazine.

My dad loves all things about cars, especially the radio and he loves to sing.   From the time I was about five and protesting his public displays of singing with the Beatles on the radio he would tell me what his dream job was.

“I want to be a rock ‘n roll weather man.”

This seemed nothing but mortifying to me, but his dream did not change the older I got. This was an idea that was way ahead of its time. MTV was yet to even be a twinkle in anyone’s eye. The Weather Channel was double decades away. My father loved rock ‘n roll, making up songs on the fly and really should have been a meteorologist because he has been entranced by weather his whole life.

As I sit today with so much news surrounding me about the weather, blizzards or snownatos or any other made up term for what is happening out there I think my Dad was so far ahead of his time. I would welcome rock ‘n roll weather as a way of learning what is going on. I so quickly tire of repetitive and constant weather reporting. I am sure that the GDP is adversely affected by this constant blah, blah, blah about what might be happening days before it comes.

So Dad, I am sorry I lay on the floor of your car crying about your singing. I was so wrong. You were once again years ahead of your time. If only I had promised you an executive dining room at home if you opened a rock ‘n roll weather station you might have given up the corporate life and now I would be a rock weather princess.

Sick Day’s Activities

I don’t think I make a good sick person. Russ left for Chicago at four in the morning and Carter got off to school all by herself so I slept in to try and sleep off this flu. Thanks to good drugs I was able to leave my bed but I still felt under the weather.

I decided that I should not leave the house since I have no idea if I am still contagious and no one needed to see me anyway. Since I got all of 448 steps yesterday I thought the least I could do today was walk, albeit slowly on my treadmill. Maybe I should have walked faster to sweat out the sickness, but I don’t think my balance was up to it.

Stuck at home, feeling poorly and all alone I decided to binge watch a show that had won big at the Golden Globes, but that I had never heard of, called Transparent. It is on Amazon Prime and I thought the ten half hour episodes would be the perfect way to while away this yucky day.

Transparent is the story of a gigantically dysfunctional family whose seventy year old father is a Trans and comes out to his three grown up children. To give you some idea how dysfunctional they are the father is the least screwed up.

It is a very grown up show so if you have a weak stomach for grown up issues I don’t recommend it, but otherwise it is a deep study in crazy. I would say it did not help me feel any better except that it gave me a great appreciation for my family. In comparison all the people in my very extended family who I thought were crazy are down right normal, even my cousin George, bless his soul.

I am really looking forward to being well soon and not filling my days with binge watching because there is no normal left on TV anymore. When is House of Cards coming back?

There’s Only 1K

Whichever blue you bleed today we are all Duke Blue Devils in celebration of Coach K’s nail biting 1,000th win as a NCAA division I coach. I am somewhat thankful I am stuck sick in bed because if I wasn’t I might have missed watching this historic game. I am not an appointment basketball watcher except for Carter’s team, but seeing this game played at Madison Square Garden against St. John’s with a packed house almost made me feel better.

Well, that is not quite true, I felt much worse when Duke was down by ten in the third quarter, but when Plumlee came into the game and turned around the defense suddenly my sickness melted away.

During the post game interview when K was asked about what he thought of this being his 1,000 win he said something typical of him and of most consistent winners, “I was in this game, that’s how you get to 1,000. But we are 17-2 and we have to go to Notre Dame on Wednesday.”

This morning Carter and I were talking about our favorite words and I said mine was stick-to-it-tive-ness. She asked me if that was a real word and I said absolutely, but know now that my computer dictionary does not recognize it as such. To me Coach K represents that perseverance. Love him, (if you are a Duke fan, fan of Team America or no basketball fan) or hate him, (if you are the fan of any other team) you have to respect him and give him all the accolades due someone who has reached this seemingly unreachable pinnacle in men’s sports. Yes, Pat Summit had done it in women’s basketball, but coach K, you only need 99 more wins to beat her record. I think that Duke would like you to stay around and try and break her record. That would be real stick-to-it-itve-ness.

Congratulations to a great man and to the wonderful young people who play for him. It is a lot of pressure on these young athletes to perform under such high expectations. Sometimes I forget that I am watching a group of teenagers. But that is the magic of a great coach who takes the players he is given and with the rest of his staff and in coach K’s case his wonderful family, molds them into a winning team, year after year. The players come and go and even the assistant coaches move on to be head coaches at other schools, but coach K stays and keeps teaching and training new people. The common denominator of these winners is Coach K. Seems like getting to 1K was inevitable, but no one should imagine it was easy, for if it were you would not be the only one. Thanks for being a great role model.

Power Through Sickness

I guess it was inevitable. There was no way for me to take care of Carter being sick last week and not get sick myself. I got home from a party last night and thought my throat was sore from talking loudly over the crowd, but comm’on, I have the loudest voice on earth so I should have known I was coming down with something.

I slept fitfully, dreaming I over slept for an important meeting I had this morning. In my haze of half sleep I thought it was 11:30 in the morning which meant I was already an hour and a half late. Luckily it was just a bad dream. I got up in time to drink a cup of theraflu tea and it tied me over enough to make the meeting.

I warned everyone there of my illness and promised not to touch anything. I was reporting on budgeting issues and I would have begged off from going, but much action was required so I powered through my report that my group had been working on for weeks.

I think that the medicine gave me enough calming relief to deliver the message required while also tempering my bulldozing tendencies. This became obvious to me when a member of the group who had previously had trouble with me said, “Thank you for your presentation you were incredibly sweet and Christian.” I waited for a lighting bolt, but when it did not happen I shed one tear of thanks that I had delivered the information in a way that everyone could hear it and act on it.

Once the budget was approved I was dismissed and rushed home to crawl back in bed where the sickness has taken hold of me full on. I guess someone from above was giving me a reprieve for just long enough to do some good works, but before I got too proud, knocked me down and made me feel terrible.

Sadly I will miss seeing Margaret and Page, friends who moved away but are back visiting tonight. I hate being sick, but I hate causing others to be sick more. Quarantine for me. Thank goodness I have Russ to take care of me. Now I am praying he does not get it.

Final Wishes

Yesterday a stitching friend of mine came late to needlepoint because she was busy buying a burial plot for her daughter–in-law’s father. The man passed away in December in Texas, but with no plan or direction about what to do with his remains his daughter decided to have his ashes buried in Chapel Hill where her in-laws live even though she does not.

While my friend was at the Chapel Hill Cemetery she went ahead and got plots for herself and her husband even though she says, “he will never die.” I think they have a long time to hold on to those plots before they need them, but better to have a plan than leave it up to your loved ones to do as they might.

Our stitchers were very interested in the whole process of picking out a final resting place. The plot buyer told us that she had to call the Parks and Rec. department of Chapel Hill to get the woman who sells the plots to show her around the available sites. Clearly selling burial plots is in the Park part of Parks and Rec. I would hate to get the guy who runs youth basketball and probably does not know a thing about what makes a good or bad final resting place.

Having a conversation with your loved ones about what you want done is not always easy. Based on my disappointing my child today because I was not going to her basketball game if I were to go today I might end up in a plot in Newark on the Jersey Turnpike.

It all really does not make any difference to me, just that I want to be cremated. I don’t want anyone looking at me when I’m gone. I currently use the “distract people with some witty banter” strategy so they don’t look too closely at my wrinkles, rolls and varicose veins. I made the mistake of letting a friend of mine who sells clothes look at my winter white flabby legs in black ankle socks and she exclaimed, “Your legs are two different sizes.” Well, of course they are. When your weight goes up and down as much as mine does all your parts are mismatched.

I’m not sure why there is a need for a plot to put my ashes in. I certainly don’t expect anyone to come and “visit” them. I plan on living forever through the Internet, what difference does some dust make? So to my family, here are my wishes when I go, burn me up and walk away. Don’t pay for any silly urn that someone will have to figure out what to do with. Use the money to have a big party. Tell stories and eat a lot of good food. For once it won’t put an ounce on me.

Just Don’t Ask Me To Sing

I stopped in at Whole Foods today to grab a salad on my way to needlepoint. Right there in that one sentence are so many things that make me happy. First I was going to sit at the stitcher’s table and catch up with my friends. Second, I was getting a yummy salad that I did not have to cook, just pick and buy.

After I had gathered my roasted vegetables and seafood salad in one earth friendly container I went to the express lane that amazingly had only one other customer in it who was really only buying two items. I felt like the gods were smiling since despite this Whole Foods being in a well respected-college town and being expensive enough that only people who could read and count to 10 usually shop there, the express lane is often full of people with upwards of twenty items. I guess that these are overly educated and entitled people who feel like the rules don’t apply to them. All this being said I have never heard a check out person once admonish these rule breaking customers.

The express lane employees must be a special type of person who can keep people happy all the time. I was already happy, but my checker threw in a little comment that brightened my already good day when she said to me, “Do people tell you all the time that you look like Julie Andrews?” True to extra nice customer service training they get to run the express lane, when I must have had a very puzzled look on my face, she quickly added, “A very young Julie Andrews.”

“Oh my gosh, no,” I replied. No one has ever said I look like Julie Andrews, but thank you. I love her.” Another devoted Whole Foods customer walks out the door completely ignoring that her take out lunch cost as much as a white table cloth restaurant lunch.

The old saying, “flattery will get you everywhere,” could not be truer. Next time you need to ask a favor of someone start with a compliment. I promise you will get more than you would without it.

Why Are You Surprised It Tastes Good?

If I had to list things I can do and really do well cooking might be at the top of the list. I really like to eat so learning to cook was fairly essential at an early age. Since I grew up in the sixties going out to eat was a special occasion event. Most meals had to be homemade. Being a good cook probably contributed to my over eating problem, but it also has been key to loosing weight too.

My advice to young people is learn to cook.   It is one skill you will use everyday of your life, sometimes multiple times a day.

My own daughter is gaining interest in cooking only because she sees college in her future and she is worried about cooking for herself. When I say interest I am probably overstating the situation. She says things like, “You are going to have to teach me how to cook chicken before I go to college.” When I say, “Ok, I’ll teach you now.” I am met with a look that says, “Not now.”

It takes years to get to be a really great cook and that is if you are actually interested and have the time and the money. Knowing that Carter sees the learning as something she can put off until the last moment I am trying to make things now that are really easy to cook are cheep and tasty hoping to entice her to learn. The problem is that she often turns up her nose at new foods.

Yesterday was a perfect example. I made pancetta wrapped pork tenderloin with rosemary, lemon zest and fennel seeds with a side of green lentils. She had a bit of the pork and refused the lentils.

Tonight when she went to have dinner the mashed potatoes that were in the refrigerator were passed their prime. Seeing few options I offered her a bite of my lentils. Surprise, she loved them. A quick microwave of a cup and she had a new food she discovered liking.

When Carter was little she was a very adventurous eater. She was the only child at nursery school who was eating salmon roll-ups for snack. Somewhere along the way she started giving up foods she once loved and protesting things I cooked. Now if I can just get her to take a bite she often say, “Oh, I like this.”

Why is she surprised it tastes good? I actually can cook and I also like to eat good tasting food. Now if I can just get her to start doing some of the cooking so she can take care of herself in a couple of years.

Stinky Day



Carter came down with a terrible cold while on her basketball retreat. It never fails that she gets sick when she away from. I still remember the saddest call I ever got from her when she had the flu in Taiwan while Russ and I were in Portland. I was helpless to do anything for her being half way around the world but reassure her that she will get better, even though my mother heart just wanted to hug her.


She stayed home today still feeling achy, stuffed up and generally awful. I had to leave her home alone while I went to a meeting to calm a smoldering situation. After dampening the potential firestorm I stopped by the grocery to get some food to cook a real dinner for my family.


When I walked in the door Carter came up from her room still dressed in her sleeping shirt and shorts and said, “I have the worst news.” My heart stopped. Carter is not known for hyperbole so when she says it’s bad my stomach feels as if it has moved into my throat.


“What’s wrong?” I ask, dreading the answer. “One of my camp counselors died.”


“NOOOOOO,” I scream in my head. ‘How much more can happen this year?”


I give my girl a big hug. “I’m so sorry.” We go and sit in the sunroom with a cup of Theraflu for Carter and tea for me. She tells me all about this sweet girl and all the funny things she used to do at camp. My heart is breaking for Carter. I think of is this poor child’s family.


Carter’s camp network is strong. They are group texting to lean on each other. One of her local friends let’s her know he is here for her. She tells me to let his mother know what a good son she raised.


Carter says to me, “This is one stinky day.” That is putting it mildly.


Hug your children. Cherish every minute you have with them. Hopefully these stinky days will be much fewer and farther between them. I can’t protect my child from bad things happening, but I feel better when I am here in person to hug her.

My Two Degrees of Separation From MLK Jr.



You know the game six degrees of Kevin Bacon? It started as a party game to see if you can figure out the shortest distance of one actor in a movie to a movie Kevin Bacon was in. Like if you said Tom Cruise you would get one degree of separation since they both were in a Few Good Men. But if you said Keira Knightly you would get two degrees of separation because she was in the Imitation Game with Benedict Cumberbatch and he was in Black Mass with Kevin Bacon. Basically Linked In works on the same principle. You put the name in of someone you are trying to connect with and Linked In finds who you know who knows him or her too.


In celebration of Martin Luther King’s birthday I am going to make my connection to the great leader. When I lived in Washington DC I had a side business as a caterer. John Lewis, congressman from Atlanta, confident and civil rights marcher with Dr. King was one of my customers. See he liked to serve southern food and I could cook southern before it became main stream, that and I was an inexpensive caterer. Congress Lewis especially liked my pecan bars. Since I know him and he knew Dr. King that is my two degrees.


Three years ago when Carter went on her seventh grade trip to Washington, DC she met John Lewis. She did not exactly know whom he was when she broke away from her group to go over to shake his hand; just that he appeared to be a fairly important person at the Capital. She excitedly told me about meeting him after her teacher filled her in. That’s when I told her my connection. Her response was, “Why don’t you make those pecan bars for us?” I don’t think that at the time she appreciated that she too had a two-degree separation from Dr. King.


Having that connection is not what is important on this day, but thinking about how we can all be more peaceful in our negotiations about living together. I wonder how disappointed Dr. King might be to see how poorly we all are getting along some fifty years after his peace marches. Rights are apparently not something we automatically keep once they are won. We have to keep working at ensuring that all humans have the rights they deserve. I just hope that we can all follow Dr. King’s example of working towards getting and keeping rights peacefully.

Cauliflower Pizza Crust



Russ does not like cauliflower, so it was quite surprising to me when he e-mailed me a blog about cauliflower pizza crust. I think his love of pizza and the lack of my making it for the last few years finally had him succumb to a different way.

All the calories in a pizza are certainly not in the crust, but the part of a pie I like the best is the gooey cheese on top. Since I was craving some melted cheese today and was willing to take the calorie hit that involved I decided to try Russ’ recipe.

It involved chopping the raw cauliflower in the Cuisineart until was like snow, cooking it in the microwave and then putting it I a dish cloth and squeezing the water out of it.

I have to say that the end product of a pizza with caramelized onions a little sauce and five kinds of cheese was very tasty. I certainly could taste the cauliflower in the crust, but I like that vegetable. I think if you are trying to cut white flour out of your diet this is a very successful substitute.

In the end I felt like I was getting to eat pizza, but I am sure that the scale tomorrow will also know I ate pizza. There is no way around the cheese calories, but sometimes you just have to have some melted cheese!

If you want to make it yourself here is the link to the recipe I used.

Cauliflower Crust Pizza | Tasty Kitchen Blog

Empty Nest Practice




Last night after the boys varsity team made their twelfth point in honor of Ryan whose jersey number is 12, Carter’s and her basketball team mates left school for a retreat at Emerald Isle. This long ago planned trip came at a perfect time for the girls to relax and just have some fun. What it meant for me and Russ is that we get a weekend alone to see what life is like with Carter gone during the cold months.

We are well acquainted with an empty house in the summer when Carter makes Camp Cheerio her home of choice, but she is almost always home the rest of the year. I don’t know why it makes a difference, but I somehow thought that I might be different, more productive, less in vacation mode in the winter.

I really could not be more wrong. Although Russ got up at his regular five AM, I was able to stay asleep until almost ten. Then I lazed around until noon. What a mistake that was. By the time I was up and dressed I was running out of time to get my steps in and do the laundry, unclog the shower drain, change the burned out light bulbs, pay the bills and a myriad of other minor chores.

I was determined to get my steps done before I did any other fun things. So much for spending the day with Russ to see what life sans child would be like. While I was walking he was napping. I guess this is much more like old age than I envisioned.

To counteract the potential steps towards a retirement home we decided to go out tonight on a little date. Normally if it’s just the two of us eating we can be in and out in under forty-five minutes since we try and not eat too much. That’s just not much of a date. I had originally thought of a movie and dinner, but after watching The Green Mile this afternoon while I was on my treadmill I couldn’t take the emotional hit of a second movie.

Russ suggested we go downtown for a drink at Bar Lusconi before dinner because they happen to have a Flanders Red Ale that Russ has been trying to find in North Carolina. Now we are taking “real date” because I drank some of his beer. Finding Bar Lusconi is not easy since it really doesn’t have a sign, but if you look for the lights hanging in the window of an ex-barber shop on East Main Street just down from the old court house you will find it. I highly recommend going there to order a Duchesse de Bourgogne Belgian beer.

After some bar time it was off to Gregoria’s Cuban restaurant in honor of the loosening of sanctions. True to form we were in and out in under an hour. Probably because I just had soup and Russ just had Paella. No starters, no dessert, no coffee, we were a waiters nightmare. At least we let him have a chance to turn the table quickly.

Back home by eight to snuggle in bed with Shay Shay so much for date night. Instead we both have our I-Pads out and as soon as I post this it’s on to needlepoint. Empty nest seems to be a lot like full nest, just less laundry. I hope Carter is having a bigger time than we are.

If You Missed This Game



It’s not often an entire Upper School gym filled to capacity for a Friday night basket ball game could sit completely silent without any cheering or clapping as our team made basket after basket. Since three starting players were in a serious car accident after leaving last Friday’s winning game the team, the students, the faculty and the parents came together for tonight’s game as a show of love and support to the injured boys. The young man who was most seriously hurt is number 12 and the plan was for a silent game until the team had made 12 points. With the stands filled with supporters all wearing shirts with the word FAMILY with the school DA logo in place of the “A” you could feel the love in the room.


The opposition did not make it easy, but four minutes into the first quarter Sophomore Jorden Davis, one of only two regular starters still able to play made the 12th point basket. The gym erupted with everyone on his or her feet cheering and clapping. If God had not been paying attention to healing Cam, Alston and Ryan before there was no way he could ignore them now.


Our school community wanted to send all the messages of love and support they could to our boys. You could feel the team on the court willing them to win this game for their brothers. At the half there was still a big question whether they could do it going into the locker room down by seven. But something happened in that locker room and towards the end of the third quarter and all the guys who don’t usually get much playing time as well as the few starters were on fire. The team suddenly pulled forward and not only did they score 28 points in the second half they kept their opponents from adding even one point from the sixth minute of the third all the way until the end. The final score was Cary 39 DA 55.


The students who filled three sections of the big bleachers swarmed the court and surrounded the team. They were doing it not just for the players who were there, but for the three who were not. We are a family. We cherish each individual. We rise to support our community. I hope that each person there felt the love and those who were not will feel it from the stories, photos and video of the night. DA Strong.



Breast Feeding Diet?



While sitting across the table from my friend Christy enjoying a nice meal at a local Whole Foods I knew something interesting was going on behind me from the look on her face. Christy being a very polite person did not say a word, but I could tell from her face that I should not turn around and look, but I so wanted to. Instead I sat patiently yet desperately trying to look at the reflection in her eyes to make out what was going on.


When the appropriate moment came around she told me in hushed tones about the child behind me who had finished eating her cliff bar, getting off her chair and pushing over to her Mom where she was able to get back up the chair and get a drink of breast milk.


Now a mother breast-feeding in a Whole Foods is not an unusual sight. But the idea that a child who is old enough to get up move her own big chair and take care of her own breast feeding is another issue. Christy at first thought the child was four, but we gave the mother the benefit of the doubt and thought maybe she was just a very large three. Whichever, she was old enough that the mother felt no need to hold her hand when they were going to the door.


Our conversation turned quickly to breast feeding, which we both agreed was an ideal way to feed a baby, but not necessarily a child who can do it self service. I told Christy of a friend in Washington who had a neighbor whose son got off the school bus and came in my friend’s house where his mother was visiting and asked for a “snack” and the mother whipped out her snacking breast. That was really where I draw the line.


I know women who loved breast-feeding because it kept their metabolism very high and they either lost tons of weight while doing it or were able to eat copious amounts of calories and not put any weight on. Now I am not suggesting that this mother today was using her three, perhaps four year old as a diet aid, but a mother who can afford to shop at Whole Foods probably does not have to personally produce the milk her child needs for nutrition at this point.


I am just interested in how long a suckling child will feed if allowed to? Based on the Washington experience clearly being able to ride the school bus alone is not too old? I wonder if that boy is still that close to his mother? Since that happened over 25 years ago I wonder if he is still living in her basement?


Breast-feeding as a diet aid is not in my cards anymore so I am happy to cross that off the list as an aid to get off those last holiday pounds.

Je Suis Charlie- And I Don’t Have Anything to Sell You



Russ forwarded me an e-mail he got today from a local store with a headline that read, “Come into (Our store) and enjoy discounts on all of our French Wine and Beer selections.” This was followed up with “To show support for our French colleagues, we are featuring all French wine at 20% off through Monday.”


Somehow I am not sure how my buying French wine at a discount is showing support for France, rather it seems like an excuse for a sale and a way to drive people into their store. No mention was made that the shop was using the profits to do any direct support of France.


As a somewhat outspoken person who has worked at a magazine for the last five years I am all about freedom of the press. I fully support the French people and especially the people who work at Charlie Hebdo. I think that satire and the ability to laugh at politics and leaders of all kinds is important.   Those who take everything much too seriously sometime lose sight of the bigger picture.


I feel like the radicals of the world could benefit greatly from a big shot of humor. If Isis had a comedian in their ranks they might not be so mad all the time.


“Je Suis Charlie” I say. But let’s not use the tragedy in Paris as a vehicle for commerce here. It just seems in bad taste. Better to support France by actually going to France and spending your Euros there. Yes, if we buy some French wine here right now it may eventually lead to restocking and purchase of more French wine down the road, but that seems like a lot of “ifs” and I’m not sure the French people are going to really know you are supporting them.


Buying one of the hard to get copies of the most recent issue of Charlie Hebdo might send a faster and bigger message not just to the French people, but also to the terrorists that we do not lay down to their actions, but stand up and support even more loudly people’s right to free speech.


Check yourself if cartoons are making you so mad that you feel the need to kill someone. A little humor makes life better.

The Ice Storm Crazy



“Why are you buying fish?” came the question from a strange voice behind me as I stood at the seafood counter.


Practically before I could even turn around to see if that question was aimed at me came the follow-up, “Don’t you know we are getting an ice storm?”


There, looking like Helen Thomas, famed white house AP reporter, stood a small elderly woman who was staring right at me. Since no one else was in the vicinity I assumed she was talking to me.


“My daughter wants flounder for dinner,” I told her, even though it wasn’t any of her business.


“Doesn’t she know we are getting an ice storm?”


“Yes,” I said, as if this conversation was going in a rational direction.


I looked at the short, but robust old woman and then to her cart, which had the requisite ice storm groceries of white bread, milk, toilet paper and frozen pizza in it. I assumed she too must be buying fish since based on the contents of her cart she had already made a sweep of the store.


“Are you buying fish?” I asked in my most polite, I am a southerner, even if I don’t give a shit way.


“No, that is crazy. Who buys fish for an ice storm?”


It was all I could do to hold back from saying, “What business is it of yours lady? And why are you even all the back in the corner of the store if you are not buying fish?” But I didn’t. Society would frown on that.


Instead I went the other direction of trying to out crazy the crazy and said, “Haven’t you heard that if you eat fish before an ice storm you won’t lose power at your house?”


As if on cue, the fishmonger handed me my package of flounder and I was able to thank him and make a quick get away before Helen Jr. could pepper me with more questions.


Oh, the joys of impending bad winter weather in the south. It really brings out the ones who are normally locked in.

The Weather Effect



It is really grey today. I looked out my window every hour or so and no matter the actual time of day it looked like it was seven at night. The cold constant drizzle and lack of sun is OK for one day, but I fear that this is the way it is going to be all week.


I know that it is colder and either snowy or icy in places further north, but snow with sun is a mood brightener for me whereas this overcast pall is a real downer. The danger comes in the attempt to uplift my psyche with food during the doldrums spell.


My defense to starve off over eating, (no pun intended) is to stay busy with fun activities and go to bed early. I have found that I am best at not eating when I am asleep. The only problem is that January is my “catch up on work I put off over the holidays” month. Not only is that not fun but I am finding many tasks that I have completely forgotten about that need my attention right away. Maybe just busy is the next best thing, even if it is with dreaded work. What I fear is that I will look for excuses not to work and find food to fill my time.


I think bears have it just right. Stay awake and eat as much as you can during the happy summer months and come the horrible cold time just sleep through the whole thing and lose the weight you gained at the same time. I assume bears wake up much thinner since they, like me are not eating in their sleep.


Who says as a human I have to be productive in equal amounts all year long? What if I am just productive half of the months if I promise to be twice as prolific during those months?


Now if I could schedule meetings with the caveat that it will happen only if it is a nice sunny day, or maybe not. Perhaps I could skip all meeting on beautiful days and just have fun. I don’t know the answer, just that I feel myself being sucked into some downward spiral the longer the grey goes on. Whatever, I have to post this blog because it is almost six at night and I am going to need to get to bed very soon or else I may eat something I’m sorry about.

Stay Strong

Friday night four young people, three of whom are basketball players on the boys basketball team had a bad car accident. Carter is friendly with these boys who share the same court that she does at school. Learning the news of their accident has been very difficult since they were badly hurt.

As I was going out the door today for a church meeting Carter, my new driver said, “Be careful driving. Use your turn signal. Make sure your seat belt is on. Look both ways. Go slowly.”

“I’m just going around the corner,” I responded.

“Still be careful.”

It has been a tough year with the death of one classmate a few months ago and now this accident. These life lessons coming this close together are hard on everyone, but especially teenagers. I want Carter to be a very careful driver, but I hate for her to learn the need this way.

Please pray for them. Please pray for their families. Pray for doctors and nurses who care for them. Pray for their friends and classmates. Pray for their teachers and coaches. Pray for their community.

Tomorrow a whole school of kids will leave the sanctuary of their homes and go back to school to face classrooms and practice courts without their friends who are healing. Pray they heal well and quickly.

Thai Slaw



When Carter asks me if we have any of a certain vegetable I previously made I know I have hit the jackpot. Usually she would be happy to have nothing but a hunk of steak for dinner, but tonight she just wanted a stuffed potato and this Thai slaw.


You can add almost any raw vegetable you have on hand.


1 10 oz. package of Angel Hair Cabbage

¼ cup of diced red onions

1 carrot – peeled and cut into matchsticks

Handful of chopped cilantro




2 T. Fish Sauce

2 T. limejuice

3 T. rice Vinegar

½ t. sesame oil

4 packets of Splenda

1 T. water

1 dried red chili –crushed

1 clove of garlic – minced

Black Pepper


Mix all the ingredients to make the dressing. Put all the vegetables in a bowl and pour the dressing over it. The slaw is good right away, but also can marinate for a little while, that is if you can resist eating it.

Keep Dancing, You Inspire Me

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I spent my day in a strategic planning retreat for Carter’s school. Doing strategic planning is a long, but important process. Many very thoughtful people have spent countless hours meeting, surveying, thinking, talking, reading, writing and talking some more. Today 56 smart, busy and important people plus me came together to brainstorm and talk and think some more. It was an exhilarating process and one I think will produce a good plan. It is still weeks or months away from being done, but strides were made.

After mostly sitting in an auditorium for eight hours I moved from one side of the campus to the other to watch Carter play a really tough home school basketball team and pull out a win. It is lower school night at the “Cav Dome” as the court is called and many small kids and their parents came out to watch the games.

After Carter’s game the varsity boys came out and took the court for warm up with some heart pumping music to help hype them up. As much as I love to watch me some high school basketball I really needed to get home and have something healthy to eat, get my steps in after a day of sitting and walk my sweet Shay. As I was getting ready to leave the gym I stood up and saw five little boys standing on the back bleachers dancing their hearts out as they watched “their team” shooting baskets.

They clearly were having the best time in the world, without a care or actual rhythm in one case. Suddenly my day came into focus. I was not working on a five-year plan for my child; she will have long graduated before the majority of it takes hold. These dancing boys were the reason so many adults gave up their time to help make a school where they will be nurtured to be people who can make the world a better place.

So to Wesley and Will and your other dancing friends, thanks for inspiring me to keep working. I want you and all the DA kids to feel like dancing all the years you are at DA. You made my long day end on a happy note!

To see these guys in action go to my youtube video.

When In Rome

I am having trouble finding time to write my blog because my hours are filled up doing the most first world task, researching travel. I hate to complain about planning a trip, but the Internet has changed travel forever. No longer do you call a trusted travel agent who you know and has actually been where you are going and she steers you to a hotel she has seen. No, now you read endless reviews from people you may or may not like and take advice from millions of unknowns.

To compound my problem Is am trying to figure out where to stay in Rome, city of thousands of accommodations. Now throw one more variable in, we are starting and ending our trip in Rome so we can stay in two different places on the trip.

I have been to Rome three times and stayed in great places, but of course they have changed hands, and names. It seems the more I research the more confused I become. I started thinking I wanted to stay near the Spanish Steps, but then when I widened the search I was not so sure.

We are going to Rome with Carter who has fallen in love with Roman history. I want to stay near the action so that there is fun to be had for a teenager right near by. I want to walk and eat good food and see old stuff. If you have been to Rome in the last ten years and have any suggestions I want to hear them. What neighborhood would you stay in? Do you have a hotel recommendation? Did you eat someplace you wish you could go back to every week? What was worth doing and what do you wish you skipped?

Please be my “travel agent”. I am happy to take advice from people I know and tired of reading what someone from Tokyo thinks about the breakfast being served at a certain hotel. I hate breakfast in Tokyo so I probably would not agree with her taste anyway. But your taste might appeal to me! So I’m looking for opinions. Send comments, please.

Cold Snap



Apparently tomorrow is going to be the coldest day of at least the last ten months. Really we have been fairly lucky with winter so far and a couple of cold days are to be expected in January or February. I have become a real whus when it comes to cold weather these days. I am cold all the time. I have just screwed up my internal heating system with dieting I think. I keep waiting for hot flashes to start just so I can take the eternal chill off, but that does not seem to be happening.


Today was one of those crazy busy days where I had every moment planned and accounted for. Just so I could get everything done I even got up an hour early to get some steps in before I had to go to the gym and be tortured by my trainer. Thank goodness for the treadmill desk because if I had to do my walking outside in this cold I would have burned my fitbit long ago.


When I first got out of bed I was a little more cold than usual and almost gave up on walking because the house temp was still set at extra-cold-sleeping-temp. Eventually I made it to the treadmill and started the day with a walking bonus.


After they gym I came home and took a long hot shower and turned back around and left the house to go play Mah Jongg. It was freezing cold at the club. My fellow frozen players and I thought the club was just saving money and not running the heat. After that I got in my little car and cranked up the seat heaters and ran to needlepoint to drop off some finishing.


It was nice a toasty warm there with many of my stitching table advisors in residence, but I could not stay there long because I needed to get to Cary for Carter’s basketball game. I stopped at home to walk Shay and noticed a distinct difference in the temperature in the house. Of course I had just come out of my sauna like car, but I still thought for a second I could see my breath.


I went to the thermostat and sure enough it read 59 degrees actual temp, with a heat setting of 69. NOOOOOO! Today was not the day for my HVAC to fail. I went to the furnace room where I did the only thing I knew how to do, turn the unit on and off. No luck, still cold. I texted Carter that I was going to miss her bball game and called the repairman.


In some miracle he arrived in less than half an hour, found the two broken parts, which he had stocked in the truck, replaced them and got the heat working in less than twenty minutes. To really add icing to this most fabulous cake, when he was writing up my ticket he said, “Have you lost a lot of weight?” If I weren’t so happily married I would have kissed him.


I jumped in the sauna mobile and made it to Cary Christian before the tip off. Carter’s team won in a very exciting game. The only bad part was those Christians must have been trying to save money and they did not have the heat on in the gym. Seemed to be the theme of the day.

Don’t Quit



Did you make a New Year’s resolution this year? Apparently something like 60% of American adults report they commit to doing something better in the next year. No matter what your resolution was, whether to try to stop smoking, get more organized or the most common resolution — to lose weight, today is the day when most people break their resolution.


It seems that five or six days is the standard amount of time people can stick to a plan they have made. If you are one of those people don’t worry. Just because you broke your resolution does not mean that you have to wait 359 days to try again, just start again, right now.


Changing any habit, especially a bad one, is work all the time. I know that there is some study that says that a new way of living becomes a habit after about three months, but I just don’t believe that. I think that it takes years of constant attention to do the right thing mindlessly.


Even though I committed to walking 20,000 steps a day twelve months ago, once I took my foot off the peddle I did not come back to actually doing again for over a month. I finally have completed a whole week of over 20,000 steps a day, but it has been hard work. I forgot how much time it actually takes to walk that much. I tried adding some running, but my hips were not happy with me for a few days after those running bursts.


I can say that after ten months of really trying to walk that much everyday it was no habit. So don’t depend on this illusion that you can retrain your brain to do the right thing automatically, instead commit to just keep trying. If you fall off the wagon, just get back on.


Resolutions are just a jumping off point. My suggestion to make you more successful and one that I have used for myself with the best results is to set a goal and share it. Don’t just tell your loved ones, but shout it out to the world and own your resolution. Saving face by just doing what you said you would do is the best way to change your bad habits. I promise keeping your resolution a secret is the fastest way to fail.

Downton Lessons



The best part about having a blog is that I can use it as an excuse to re-watch last night’s Downton Abbey episode. There was something Cora said to her husband the Lord that I wanted to make sure I quoted correctly. So Spoiler alert, if you have not watched last night’s season premier of season five stop reading and go watch it.



The scene was at the 34th wedding anniversary of the Lord and Lady Grantham. A young teacher that Lord Grantham disliked was invited as a guest. After a tense dinner when the young woman spoke her mind about politics that rubbed the landed gentry types the wrong way the whole group went into the drawing room for coffee. As she was getting ready to leave the outspoken teacher came up to Lord Grantham to say thank you and good night and say she wanted to go down stairs to thank the staff. That was just not done back in the day, but Lady Grantham was very gracious about it.


Lord Grantham who was just bristled said to his wife, Cora, “I assume you heard how she spoke to me at dinner.” Cora responded, “Of course, but how does it help to answer rudeness with rudeness?”


I didn’t really need to re-watch the whole show to get that bit of wisdom. It struck me the first time. It is a phrase I hope I can sear into my brain because I have a bad habit of answering rudeness with sarcasm and often a biting quip that makes the person I am speaking to have to think a moment and just as I am making my getaway they realized I said something so much meaner to them.


I don’t act this way often, but when I was younger I rarely hesitated before I took someone down who was rude to begin with. Now a day I realize that most of the time when someone is being rude they really are just ignorant and it is wrong for me to pick on the indefeasible.


But to those who are passive aggressive I have had little patience. Just say directly what you want to say and I will do my best to not be rude back. I am going to try and have Cora’s calm voice in my head saying, “How does it help to answer rudeness with rudeness?” Or as we say it in America, “Kill them with kindness.”


Of course this bit of wisdom from my favorite TV show will not outshine my favorite parts when the Grandmother played by Dame Maggie Smith says the most horrible things with the most innocent of looks. She would never subscribe to Cora’s way of thinking. I am afraid that I really aspire to be here, but I am neither old nor rich enough to act that way so I am going to try the nice way. Ha!

Corned Ham- Via Vivian Howard and Bill Smith



In the vein of really planning ahead this blog is for your next New Year’s Day celebration. Sometimes I have to write about things that won’t make anyone mad. No promises, but recipes tend to be less controversial material. I promise I will go back to making someone mad tomorrow.


A few weeks before Christmas I went to a fundraiser for the Food Bank that Bill Smith of Crooks Corner was having with Vivian Howard the star of the PBS series A Chef’s Life. They were showing a preview of the holiday special where Bill Smith taught Vivian how to make a Corned Ham. What? You’ve never heard of Corned Ham? Well neither had I. Actually they served us this corned ham before they told us what it was and there was quite a debate about if it was turkey or ham. This is no honey baked ham, or very salty country ham, don’t let the amount of salt in the recipe make you think so.


It is a 12-13 day process and I suggest you go right to the source by goggling Corned Ham recipe. Bill Smith seems to be the Internet authority on it so it is not hard to find. Vivian’s version is on


I got my fresh ham with the skin on from Cliff’s meat market in Carrboro. The over 20 pound hunk of meat cost only something like $45. That’s like $2.29 a pound. It was a good weight lifting exercise just to work with it. Good thing since it is not exactly diet friendly, but the finished product is so flavorful that you only need a little.


I followed the instructions and stabbed big holes in the Ham around the bone and stuffed it with salt and then rubbed an obscene amount of salt on the outside. I wrapped it up in the largest Tupperware container I had and left it in my garage fridge for eleven days. Then I had to wash all the salt off of it and I put it in a cooler filled with water and ice overnight to soak the rest of the salt out of it.


The cooking took over six hours and I think I overcooked it a little. Next time I will check the internal temp with a thermometer earlier in the baking. It probably did not hurt it though because the meat was still delicious. Poor Shay Shay was beside herself dancing all around me as I carved the ridiculous amount of meat off the bone. I eventually got tired and wrapped up the very meaty ham bone and put it in the freezer to be used for a future black bean soup festival.


This ham is the perfect New Year’s Day meat for those who are superstitious and think that ham and black-eyed peas need to be eaten on the first day of the year if it is going to be a good year. I am not one of those people. As far as I am concerned it is what I am not eating that determines if it is going to be a good year.


What I do think is that this corned ham makes a great addition to many dishes, from egg types, like omelets and quiche to creative sandwiches with hearty cheddar and fig jam. I of course have used it in my arugula salad with pears and blue cheese and the littlest amount of ham goes a long way in the flavor department. If you are dying to try some give me a ring. Russ begged me not to give it all away, but there is no way we can eat this much ham.

Being a Ref is the Most Thankless Job



Sometimes I am glad I don’t understand everything that is going on in Basketball because it keeps me from complaining about calls Ref’s make. I can’t imagine a harder job than trying to run back and forth on a court and watch ten different players doing ten different things. I have a hard enough time just following the ball, let alone all the people that are trying to get the ball.


At a game, which the opponent will remain anonymous, I had the displeasure of sitting behind a large group of family members from the other team. It was a good thing it was not a packed house so we could have a few empty rows between us. First because the Mothers’ hairdos were so big I could not see the court over them if I was right behind them. But the real bad part was the amount of smack they were screaming at the refs.


If bad sportsmanship had a PhD course these people were Doctors of how not to act in front of children. Not only did they complain about the refs at every call that did not go their way, but also one mother seemed to purposely pinch her baby when our team was making a free throw so the child would scream. This was completely unnecessary since the father’s were making rude sounds anyway.


At the end of the game the Ref’s, who I think were actually fearful for their lives, came up to the group and looked at the mother who resembled Sheena E from the early eighties in her ripped up acid wash jeans and earrings the size of saucers and said, “You are bad.” The language repeated back to the ref’s is unprintable, but those guys got out of that gym as quickly as possible. Here is the crazy thing, that mother’s team won.


Perhaps rather than team highlights on TV we need to have videos of parent lowlights. The poor children who have these people as their role models. I still can’t figure out which player they belonged to because no child on any team ever acted as poorly as these parents.


I think I am going to keep my ignorance of the game right where it is because I am never tempted to scream at a ref because I just won’t ever know as much as even the blindest ref. Poor people can’t get paid enough to put up with that kind of abuse.

Parsnips Not Pasta



Back in the eighties I did that crazy protein drink diet. It worked great while I was doing nothing but drinking four hundred calories of milk shakes a day with one cup of chicken broth thrown in for the salt content. It was during the fat-is-bad-for you time in the dieting world. So as soon I as finished the four month protein shake period I moved right into the eat pasta with fat free marinara sauce phase. The weight came back fast. I had lost weight eating protein so it was no wonder that I gained weight eating pasta.


Eventually I learned what my body likes and does not like. It does not help that my mouth and brain really like sugar and flour, which is exactly the opposite of what my thighs and stomach like.


During the last six weeks when I was eating for my mouth and not my thighs I rediscovered how much I love pasta. Now that I am back to eating what I should I am working on breaking myself of the sugar and flour fix.


I had some of the fabulous marinara sauce leftover so I decided to use roasted parsnips in place of pasta. First I really like parsnips and they are hard to find so when I saw them at Fresh Market I snatched up two bags. Second, Parsnips are white and I think that when I cut them into like sized bites before roasting them they almost looked like gnocchi. If my eyes think I am eating pasta my mouth goes along with it.


A bowl of roasted parsnips with marinara sauce and a little Parmesan cheese was really a satisfying dinner. I tired it two nights ago and the weight on the scale came off.


Today while I was at the grocery I ran into my friend Val who asked me what I would do with a soup recipe that had too much pasta in it. At first I said just leave it out, and then I mentioned the roasted parsnips as a substitution. Val let me know how you like it.


Roasted Parsnips


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.


Peel parsnips and cut into like sized pieces.


Cover a cookie sheet with foil and spray with Pam. Lay the parsnips on the pan in a single layer and cook in the oven about 20 minutes until the parsnips are fork tender. Sprinkle with a little salt.


They are good eaten just like that, but really make excellent fake pasta.

New Year Breakfast Tradition



Russ and I are not New Year’s Eve kind of people. The last thing we want to do is stay up late just to see the clock tick from Midnight to 12:01. We are much more Happy New Year’s day people. For the last seven years we have gotten up early on January 1 and made our annual trek to Saxapahaw to the general store for breakfast.


Breakfast there is not exactly a dieter’s delight, but the tradition is worth keeping up. For the first time Carter was not with us because she spent the night with a friend, so Russ and I brought our friend Logan who is a lover of fine cuisine. We ordered three different dishes that we shared. Thankfully one of them was a fairly light salmon filet on a bed of baby spinach topped with an egg, red onions and capers. Of course there was a butter sauce on it, but thankfully no bread, biscuit or grits.


After our fun outing it was back to the house to undecorate our Christmas house. It is a big job so I am glad to get it behind me before the New Year starts in earnest, but the lack of twinkly lights and sparkle is a little depressing.


To help overcome what I ate for breakfast as well as post Christmas blues I decided to run on my treadmill for the endorphins. I also wanted to get my 20,000 steps in as fast as possible so I could sit down and rest without guilt. The undecorating only gave me 8,000 steps so I still had two thirds of my goal to get on the treadmill. I took the running in 1,000 step increments — running for 7 minutes and resting for three. It was not as hard as I thought it would be. The only problem is that I could not write my blog while I ran.


After getting my 20,000 steps done I have remained at the walking desk to do my work. I figure it is a good idea to bank some extra steps while I can. I know that the day will come very soon when I am not going to have the time to do all my walking.


Today is the national day that diets begin. I know that I am in good company and can feel the collective healthy lifestyle happening all around me. If you made a resolution to be good to your body I hope today was a good start for you. If not don’t give up. Every meal is another chance to do the right thing.