Ask Before Serving Someone Raw Fish

Tonight while Carter was out to dinner with friends and Russ is in Chicago I went out with a bunch of girl friends to celebrate my friend Sara’s impending birthday.   The place we went for dinner was one I have been interested in going to since it is an Asian tapas like place, but I should have looked more closely at the menu before we went.   Despite my restricted diet  I was not about to miss a fun night out with a great group.

The idea of tapas should be perfect for me since I can only have a small amount of what I can eat anyway, but the problem came in that none of the dishes are simple, clean food, but rather very interesting combinations that had many sauces, and starches.

One of my thinnest friends who normally loves to clear a bread basket sat across from me because she was having her insurance physical in the morning and was given a very restrictive list of what she should eat today.  An Asian restaurant was not the ideal choice for her since she was not to eat salty things, like soy sauce, no carbs, like rice, no red meat, like steak or pork (don’t believe it is white meat).  She asked me what I was going to eat and said she would just get the same thing.

As the rest of our friends enjoyed pork belly dumplings, and duck confit fried rice I asked the waiter to see if the chef could remake Ono Sashimi and take off all the good parts and just give us some green vegetables with our fish.  He was more than happy to accommodate us.  My food restricted friend said she would have the same.

When our plates of raw fish slices on little piles of vegetables arrived my friends said, “Is it fish?”

“Yes,” I said.

“Is it cooked?”

“Oh no, you don’t eat sushi?”  I guess I should have checked with her about that one little bit of information.  After eating a the tiny piles of shredded vegetables and two tiny bites of fish she declared she was still hungry.  I guess so.  We called the accommodating waiter back and found a shrimp dish that could be made into a chicken dish that fit her dietary requirements.

I guess I need to always ask the questions about seafood and eating it raw.  If it were up to me I would eat good raw seafood everyday.  But next time I really want to have it the way the chef originally designed it with all the sauces and the naughty bits.  Two more days of this very restrictive shit, then I hear I get to add an extra piece of fruit at lunch.  I really hope it can be a peach.

Vacation Non-Weight Loss

Despite staying on my diet vigilantly during my boat vacation I did not lose a pound, which made me furious. I brought my vita mix, made my protein drinks everyday, ate only protein and green veggies with one tiny bit of fruit a day and nothing! My counselor is imploring me to stick with this program and I am, but I am not going to be so strict during my vacations because there is no reason to not enjoy my trips and not lose weight at the same time.
There is all the time in the world to lose weight, but only some time to have a good holiday. I am not planning on going hog wild on my summer vacations. That plan did not work in Italy, but I am certainly not going to go to the same feats I went to in Beaufort.  
Being good and not losing weight is by far more frustrating than just eating a healthy diet and if I gain one pound so be it. I am so close to my goal weight that there is no sense of urgency. I lose weight for myself so if I want to take a break from someone else’s program that is my choice, especially if their program is not doing what I want.
I have a couple weeks until my next vacation. Let’s see what happens being strict at home, maybe I can reach my goal before then and this will all be a moot point. Oh, weight control is a life’s work.   

Repurposing Leftovers



Any good cook or bad cook who happens to be a mother knows that the key to getting dinner on the table night after night is being able to cook a bunch of something and then transform it into a whole new meal the second night. I became very aware of this as a culinary trick my freshman year in college when my friend Lisa Mathews used to look at the cafeteria weekly menu and follow the food through the week.


“Following the food” was an important deciphering skill that helped us learn what not to eat because it had been around too long. For example the school chef might have started off on Sunday with roast chicken. Check, safe to eat. Monday might have brought hot open face Chicken sandwiches with Chicken Gravy at lunch. Still safe to eat, since the chicken was cut off the leftover roast chicken and the carcasses were used to make the gravy from just the night before. Skip a day of chicken to throw us off the leftover scent. Then on Thursday there might have been Chicken Tetrazzini for dinner. Big read flashing lights, “Wonk, Wonk, Wonk,” blaring horns. Do not eat! The chicken that was not all used up for Chicken sandwiches was then mixed with the leftover gravy, pasta and some new celery and topped with breadcrumbs made from the uneaten sandwiches.


Four days later for chicken that had been reheated twice was just too long in the repurposing leftover train. The real no-no was having the chicken and pasta soup at lunch on Friday.


Carter hates leftovers, but if I can repurpose them in such away that she does not catch on that they are the same food I can get away with it. My trick is never to publish a menu where she might learn to “follow the food.” By my sophomore year we had moved up to “Follow the food 201” because we started looking at the Sunday –Saturday menus back to back. The cooks were smart and started some new food on Thursday and if we were not looking at both menus we might have missed the fact that the Monday Taco Salad actually started with Hamburgers on Thursday — tricky.


Tonight since I am the only one home I don’t mind repurposing. I took last night’s leftover vegetable hash and put it in a fry pan to reheat, added some shredded leftover chicken breast and some a huge amount of raw angle hair cabbage and a little soy. My leftover not only tasted delicious, they changed continents, going from something Italian leaning to a purely Chinese dish. Who says I did not learn anything in college.

Vegetables From My Garden, Mostly, Hash



The one bad thing about going away for five days is that my garden did one of two things, one over produce giant zucchini or plants die all together. I have had years of trouble with tomato plants, they grow bear fruit and then wither and die after one round of tomatoes. Before I left for the boat the tomatoes were doing fine, except for the parts eaten by dear. I came home yesterday and the plants are about to expire with a load of fruit, some ripe, others still green. If I were not on such a strict diet I would make fried green tomatoes, but not now.


I am eating zucchini as fast as can, but I am getting a little sick of the quick sauté method. Tonight I decided to use some of everything I harvested in a hash, sans potatoes. My only refrigerator staple I added was mushrooms.


3 large Mushrooms sliced

1 medium Zucchini diced

2 handfuls of green beans, steamed and cut in thirds

20 cherry Tomatoes, halved

Sprinkling of Oregano

Dashes of garlic powder

Salt and Pepper


Heat a hot fry pan on high and spray with Pam. Throw the mushrooms in the pan. Cook for two minutes and then flip them over and cook another minute.


Add the zucchini and cook for three minutes, stirring once or twice. Add the garlic and oregano. Add the green beans and cherry tomatoes and cook another two minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Carter’s Travel Continues



We wrapped up our fun trip on the Everest this morning and Carter, Ashley and I drove home. After passing Ashley back to her mother and picking up Shay Shay we came home to unpack and for me to get resettled at home. For Carter it is a quick turn around of unpacking and repacking for she is off to Philly tomorrow to meet up with Russ and go visit his family.


Carter tells me there is nothing she finds more exciting than traveling alone. I understand how grown up it makes her feel to take herself to the airport and check herself in and fly to meet Russ. Since she has done this kind of thing before she went online today to check-in and download her boarding pass. She thought it would be easy, like with Delta, but not so fast.


Russ bought her a ticket on American, but it turns out her flight is a US air flight. Since US Air and American merged in 2013 you would think someone would have already combined their customer interfaces, but no, that would be too logical.

Although Carter was able to check-in online there was no way to neither download a boarding pass to her Passbook on her phone, nor print a boarding pass at home. The best we could do was print her itinerary to get a boarding pass at the airport.


Come on American (nee US Air). Get into not just this decade, but this century. Young people are not going to consider flying on your carrier if you make dealing with you so difficult. Long gone are the days where people buy tickets only on price and are willing to be tortured because they got a really cheep ticket. Sure in the 70’s you could do that, but Carter’s generation is not that forgiving, or interested in just being cheep.


Yes, designing one system that will work with both your two legacy systems is a pain and costs big bucks, but really it is the cost of merging, so go on and get it done. At one point Carter thought she needed to download the US Air mobile App, and when she pulled it up and saw that it got one star with 99% of the reviews giving it a poor rating she just laughed. “I’ve never actually seen a company I’ve heard of get one star.” Welcome to the world of airlines.


Since Carter wants to do this whole trip on her own I hope everything goes smoothly at the airport. I am thankful that US Air and American are in the same terminal, but wait, why do we still even have the two names, what the hell was that merger about anyway?

Great Week, Great Boat, Great Vacation

   As the sun sets over Taylor’s Creek I lie down on the cushions of the top deck to write my last blog from the Everest. We have had an adventure filled week here in Beaufort. Kelly and Dan who run and own this fabulous boat could not have been nicer. Our only freak hiccup of a clamp breaking allowing water into the boat was resolved quickly and Kelly more than made up for something no one could predict.  
As part of her heartfelt apology she and Dan took us out on a cruise today which normally would have been a charge, but was free for us. Carter and Ashley rode most of the time on “the bunny” the aptly named sun bathing beds on the bow of the boat reserved for the girls to ride on.  
While we have been docked we have enjoyed the calmness of the creek, the wild ponies grazing just across the way on Carrot Island, swimming off the back of the boat, Carter and I floating in the water on our backs hand-in-hand “like otters,” shopping in the cute Beaufort stores that have different things than mall stores, eating yummy dinners at restaurants which meant no cooking for Mom, our best meal was at Beaufort Grocery Co. followed by the Cedars Inn, sun bathing on the comfortable cushioned decks, reading great books, waving at passing boaters, sleeping late in our comfy state rooms, and laughing, laughing, laughing.
Our one adventure away from Beaufort to the Aquarium in Pine Knoll Shores, only made us more certain that staying on the Everest in Beaufort was the best place we saw. It was peaceful and not crowded with children kicking sand near us, no sharks were spotted, all our limbs stayed intact, there were no drunk, fat, heavily tattooed men talking loudly anywhere near us, we did not have a house party of college bound kids across the street from us playing music into the middle of the night and getting in raucous fights, and we never smelled a paper mill or fish cannery.
It made for fun for us all to have Ashley with us. I am hoping she is available for future vacations. The only sad part is that Russ only got 36 hours of vacation, but I have to say they were pretty idyllic.
So goodbye to the Everest and to Beaufort. I hope we can come back. But there are new adventures yet to be had this summer. I hope they are all as good as this one.

Small World Benefits

     I have written in the past about the chance small world meetings that usually take place when we are on vacation and this one is no different. When we checked in with the owner of our boat, Kelly, the first day we got here she got to talking to Carter and Ashley, my bonus vacation daughter about school. Kelly teaches chemistry at a local college and she remarked to Ashley that the best student she ever had was a Korean girl the first year she was a professor.
Last night when we went to dinner in tiny Beaufort Ashley, ran into a woman she knew. Her name is Joanne and her brother is Ashley’s father’s best friend. Joanne works at the NC aquarium in Pine Knolls Shores and told us to come see her at the aquarium. She asked where we were staying and we told her the name of the boat and she said, “Oh, Dan and Kelly’s boat. They are some of my best friends.”
Today, Dan and Kelly stopped by the boat and we told them about Ashley running into Joanne and what a small world it was. Kelly made it even smaller when she said, “Joanne is my best student I was telling you about on Monday.” Well with all these connections the girls and I decided we absolutely had to go to the aquarium today. So after a fun morning with Russ kayaking, when he left for the airport off we went.
Joanne greeted us at the entrance and took us first to the ray tank where she had to feed them by hand and then behind the scenes where we got to see all the inner workings of the aquarium. We got to hold a baby alligator, and feed the shark, grouper and big fish tank chopped up sardines and shrimp. We met baby sea turtles and learned how they went from tiny hatchlings to year old turtles about to be released back into the sea. It was a fantastic experience that happened by chance.
Now after dinner I sit atop the roof deck of our beautiful boat and enjoy the sunset and wonder what exciting things and chance meetings will happen tomorrow. I love vacation.


Listing is Not Good, Right?


Sometimes going against your regular grain is good and you just don’t know why until later. Yesterday before we arrived at the boat we are renting for the week the owner asked us which staterooms to make up for Carter and Ashley. Having never seen the choices they chose two rooms, but when we got here and they saw all the choices they wanted to switch. I felt badly that the clean, pressed sheets where already on different beds and my first reaction was to say no,but the owner said she had other sheets. As a compromise I told the girls they could sleep in the big aft stateroom they liked best if they made the bed themselves. This turned out to be a fortuitous move.
Last night I settled into the master stateroom in the fore, closing the porthole covers in hopes of getting to sleep in a little since Russ was not arriving until after 9:30 this morning. I was awoken by a loud knocking on my door so early that I was still in that part of sleep where you don’t know if you are dreaming or are awake.  
“Mom, mom there is a lot of water in our room,” Carter was telling me.  
“What? What time is it?” Why I needed to know the time, I will not understand, except it was just a stall tactic until I could get my bearings.
“It’s 5:30.”
I jumped out of bed and realized the boat was badly listing to the stern, you know boat lingo for to the right. I am not really a fan of leaning to the right especially when it means we are taking on water.
I ran up my stairs and back down to Carter’s stairs and before I even got down two steps I could see inches of water.  
“Pack up all your stuff and bring it upstairs, I’m calling the owner.”
It’s never good news to have to wake someone at 5:30, but the one thing I know, there is no reason to be polite and wait until a decent hour when their boat is sinking.
It took only moments for her to arrive and soon followed experts who first were able to get the water pumped out and find the broken clamp that had allowed the water to come in in the first place. Carter, Ashley and I sat on the aft deck enjoying the sunrise and early morning hours in a way we would have never done had we slept the morning away.
While I was in the galley getting myself some iced tea I thankfully had made the day before, since our water was now turned off, the owner said to Carter that we might need to go to a hotel. This caused tears and sadness for the vacation she had looked so forward too. When I came back out and heard this I said we were not making any decisions at 7:30 in the morning. I was also not going to call Russ who was on the road from Durham for his one day vacation because I was holding out faith that all would be fine.
Russ arrived around 10 just as the issue was getting fixed. Our day of sun on the water was salvaged. If it weren’t for Carter and Ashley sleeping in that aft stateroom and Carter waking up at 5:30 to use the head it could have been a much different story. Four more hours going unnoticed would have made a big difference. Thank goodness I was not my normal harass self yesterday and indulged my girls, it saved us.

Destination Everest


A few months ago Russ was pursuing AirBnB just to see what all the hubbub was about. There is no person on earth who would dislike staying in someone’s house while they were home more than Russ Lange, so I thought it was an interesting exercise. As he flipped through listings I paid little attention to him since I’m sure I was busy stitching some untimely Christmas ornament. That was until he came upon an 80 foot yacht mored in Beaufort, NC.
“Boats, you can stay on a boat?” I asked. Russ showed me the picture. Hmmm… “Is it renting a sofa on someone’s boat to sleep on?” Apparently you can rent whole boats by the night. So we decided what the hell, let’s try it.
Russ did all the planning, the contacting, the paying, the communications, instruction getting, everything. I was just going to be the girl on the boat. Carter invited her friend Ashley to come and be one of the girls on the boat. We were set. As the weeks passed we all got more and more excited. Carter studied the website, planning her jump from the aft deck into the river in the videos.
Then this week Russ came home from work with the bad news that he had two work conflicts and was not going to be able to spend the whole week on the boat. OH NO! This was his plan, his trip. So today Carter, Ashley and I set off without him. We arrived too early so we were forced to shop in the very cute Beaufort shops while we waited for the appointed time to be given our yacht. At last it came.
It was bigger than I imagined. Soon us three girls were in our bathing suits jumping off the back of the boat and floating in the salty river as much smaller vessels putted by us. The serenity of Carrot Island, an island inhabitant only by a heard of wild horses, is our view across the river. We were in heaven as Ashley thanked us over and over again for bringing her.  
I was just sad that Russ was missing the trip he had planned so meticulously. As I sit on the upper deck writing this in the dark night with a cool breeze blowing slowly by me I pray that tomorrow brings good weather and Russ to get a chance to spend his 24 hours in paradise.  

Dad, Thanks For The Fun

dana and ed russ and carter


If there was ever a theme for my Dad it would be fun, at least when it came to me. This photo is from Dayton, Ohio when I was just about three years old which would have made my Dad 26. Perhaps he was all about fun because he was practically a kid himself, so going on the swing set with me, or teaching me to swim or endlessly catching me as I jumped into the pool were not just things I liked to do, but things he liked to do. Whatever my Dad was doing was what I wanted to be doing.


I thought all Dads were fun, but my friends used to think my Dad was fun too. Although they never said it, I think in lots of ways he was more fun than their Dads. But then my Dad was also demanding. Ask anyone who ever worked for him.


Work is probably the other theme for my Dad. But I think that most of the time he thought work was fun. Work was important to my Dad and he instilled that in me early. Since he worked at Avon most of my young years he had a strong sense that women were great workers and he highly encouraged me and my sisters to be good workers.


I am thankful that I have been able to have a life balanced out between work and fun and that is due in many ways to Russ Lange who has many of the same qualities my father does when it comes to work. Fun for Russ is different than it is for my Dad, but Russ is very generous about making sure that I have fun.


So to the two fathers in my life, Ed Carter and Russ Lange I want to thank you for a really fun life that happens to be productive too. Both of you hardly get the recognition you deserve for being so generous. Father’s day has never been a big day in any house I lived in because the father was usually doing something for someone else. Your selflessness has not gone unnoticed. I love you both.

Who Am I?



Yesterday I took Carter to get her summer hair cut and decided to get mine cut too even though my regular appointment was still two weeks away. When you have short hair it can get really out of shape if you don’t cut it often enough and for some reason it grows faster in the summer so I felt like I was already getting shaggy.


Carter, who has long straight hair, as so many girls her age does, decided it was time for a change and opted for some layers and a little shortening. It is a cute new do and she looks great. Since I am a hair moron, that being a person who can not hold a round brush and a hairdryer at the same time in two different hands without getting them tangled together I try and have simple hairdos.


My hair has been getting shorter and shorter in the last few years as I discover that the shorter it is the easier it is to do since, well, there is nothing there to actually do with it. The only problem is that it can get boring.


As I was waiting for Carter’s hair to get cut I decided that I too needed a change, but outside of getting a weave how much could I do to a short hairdo? That’s when I noticed Kris Jenner’s hair on the cover of a People magazine. Now I have never really been a Jenner/Kardashian follower, let alone lover, but the picture on the magazine of Kris’ hair was really cute.


It was similar enough to mine, but a little shorter and had the hair around the ears cut out. What the hell — I’ll try it– it’s only hair. I showed the picture to my hairdresser and she said if that is what I wanted she could do it. Now I am thinking this was a bigger decision than I was giving it, but it’s too late now.


My hair is very short. My only next option is to go full on Sigourney Weaver in Alien. I walk by a mirror and wonder why that person is so close to me, then I jump back because I realize it is me. I run my hand down the back of my head and I can feel every bump because there is no hair cushioning my head. I got out of the shower and rubbed the towel on my hair for one minute and my hair was done, OK that part was good.


I am going to have to give this hair a week or two of growing to decide if I like it. I just don’t look anything like myself. So if you are looking for me, you won’t be able to find me, unless I open my mouth and talk. I am not posting a picture so I can hide in plain site. It is kind of like going into witness protection but staying in the same place.


It’s just hair. If in two weeks I decide it was a huge mistake it will grow back, but I might have to wear a lot of hats for the months it takes to grow.




Officially I have only one really thin thing, my nails, both finger and toes. I have known this for a long time, but today the Vietnamese woman who was giving me a fairly poor manicure announced in her best English, “You have bad, thin nails.”

Just to throw her off I instantly responded, “No shit, Sherlock.” In a voice only she could hear. She had no idea what I said, like I usually have no idea what she is saying.


Sitting in the chair next to me was a little girl, probably about 8 or nine years old getting her first manicure. I’m not sure the experience was one that is going to create a woman addicted to a life long nail obsession.


While we were getting our nails done all the nail artists, that’s what Carter’s crappy volleyball coach liked to me called, carried on a loud conversation in Vietnamese with little care about the rest of us in the room.   Since it is apparent to me that most of them are related to each other I see their conversation as an ongoing family fight and not one that really involves me, but the poor little girl next to me did not see it that way.


When her manicurist, oh excuse me, nail artist, looked at the little girls hands and then said something loud to her mother and they all laughed at the same time, the little girl, whose Vietnamese language skills were lacking, got a little tear in her eye. I noticed her uncomfortableness and asked her if she was OK? “Are they laughing at me?” she asked.


“Absolutely not,” I reassured her. “They are laughing about Judge Judy,” who was playing on the TV, like we needed more noisy in the room. “The one doing your nails just told her mother that if she is not nicer to her she is going to take her to Judge Judy. The mother said fine, I will win and get all your money, then the daughter said, yes, but Judge Judy will yell at you for being foolish.”


The little girl’s once teary eyes got very big and she asked me, “How do you know that?”


“I understand what they are saying, but I can’t speak it.”


That was good enough for the little girl and she settled back in her chair while the nail artist absent mindedly painted pale pink on her nails. A few minutes later her mother came up from the pedicure chair area and asked her how she liked getting her first manicure. “It was scary, but then this old lady translated for me and then I was fine.”


At least she did not describe me as the fat lady.

It’s Summer, I Might Not Respond



It has been a long time since I was a full time student, but somehow when summer comes along I still fall back into student mode. You know what student mode is…I am on vacation and don’t want to think about anything. That is not all together true, but I only want to think about what is really interesting me at this moment.


Despite the existence of the ubiquitous internet, smart phones and my own self imposed, never miss a message, even while I am in the ladies room, Apple Watch, I seem to fall into the old fashion idea that I could disappear or seem to be unavailable. I am pretending I might be on vacation and that is why I am not answering your e-mail or responding to a request for me to do something for you.


I fully subscribe to unplugging and getting away from the rat race, even if I am not really in the race. I know that the current fad is to be hyper available but I’m just not doing it. So please forgive me if I disappear, I may only be in my house. But it’s summer.


I take this opportunity to have long lazy lunches with friends I need to catch up with, or to needlepoint the day away. I suggest you too change up your routine and do a little nothing, or at least be slightly irresponsible and not return an e-mail.


No one will blame you if you take a few days off. Everyone needs to go back to the 80’s when the greatest form of technology was the answering machine. Pretend the cat stood on the on/off button and no messages could be recorded. Life seemed to go on just fine without instant responses. That’s where I am today. No instant response, of maybe no responses at all…It’s summer.

Deered Off


I am not running a drive thru for deer in search of a happy meal. So if you happen to be driving, walking or biking by my house and see any Bambie family members hanging around looking for the squawk box to place their orders for tomato plants, green bean bushes or sweet potato vines you make sure to let them know that I have been closed down by the hoofed animal fast food council. Not that anyone can prove I have poisonous plants waiting to be scarfed down by those poor unassuming animals, but I would like the deer to think that.
Now if you are planning a visit to my house please text me when you get to the driveway. I will be happy to open the garage door and let you in that way. If you venture to my front door you might pass out from the aroma of Deer Off that is wafting about what is left of my summer flowering pots.
I know that the lack of rain has left few thirst quenching plants for the deer to eat, but how in the world are they finding the only things I am watering. I came out of the garage on Monday and noticed that my tomato plants that just the night before had held hundreds of green tomatoes on healthy vines had been striped to a third their size with many bits of green fruit let on the ground with one small bite in each. Dumb ass animals don’t even learn that if they don’t like the first green tomato they are not going to like the 55th. 
I know I need a twelve foot high fence to really protect my vegetable garden, but I just don’t like the fortress look. I complain every year about the deer, but somehow they are still here. I’m shocked the famous Hope Valley coyote has not taken down a doe or two. What do I have to do to encourage that to happen.  
If you are a major deer fan I am happy for you to contribute new plants, fully grown and ready to bear fruit to me so I can keep feeding the deer. For the time being I am going to have to keep offending the UPS, FedEx and Mailmen bearing packages with the offending smell of deer retardant. I’m sure that when I come back from vacation I won’t have a plant left between the drought and the deer I guess it’s time to put in a Japanese rock garden.    

DMV on The Hottest Day of the Year




The forecast this morning was for this to be the hottest day in our area in the last three years. With that in mind Carter and I decided to go someplace that would have air conditioning and what better place than a State of North Carolina agency. Specifically we chose to spend the better part of our day at the DMV so Carter could get her “After 9” drivers license. For those of you with no idea what that is, it is the next step up drivers license that allows a person who has been driving for the last six months to drive after nine at night without a parent in the car.


The actual process of getting the license is a five minute meeting with a DMV official where you turn in a driving log that proves you have driven at least 12 hours in the last six months and have not gotten any moving violations. Proof is too strong a word, really you just write down that you did it and they take your word for it, no video is required.


When Carter and I enter our closet DMV we were met with a perfect cross section of our area, all 65 of them ahead of us, filling every available seat and leaning space against the wall. Miraculously there was no one else in line to get a number so as we approached the fine state employee I asked him how long the wait was, he looked at Carter’s paperwork and license and declared in a strong voice, “35 minutes.” Seemed suspicious, but we took our number and wiggled our way into one last leaning spot.


The numbering system is done in a way that you have no idea how far you are from being helped next. All numbers start with a letter between C and H followed by a three-digit number. Carter’s number was D566. We soon heard D451 called, but that was followed by C387.


When H251 was called an octogenarian vacated one of the valuable chairs and since I was the next oldest woman waiting the young men around me let me take the seat. This was nice since it helped my needlepointing tremendously to be able to sit.


The DMV is the great equality space. There are no fast passes, global entry or first class lines. There is no way to buy yourself to the front of the line. The state could really increase revenue if they considered such a system. I counted at least five other customers who might have paid triple at a minimum to have their transaction go faster.


Soon the 35 minutes had passed and only three other “D” tickets had been called. Estimation is obviously not on the civil service exam. We waited patiently. At one point the call to prayer was played on one man’s phone and he had to leave the building to roll out a rug and pray. In democratic turns he lost his place in line if his number was called while he was out of the building.


The one thing that really made me crazy is that when someone else’s number was called they all seemed in no hurry to get up and hustle over to their appointed desk. For gosh sakes people, move it. After an hour and forty-five minutes D566 was called. The woman who waited on Carter could not have been nicer, but the fact that the whole transaction including getting her new photo taken took less than five minutes was very frustrating. “They don’t have enough employees do they?” Carter asked as we left the building. You think?

Too Hot To…



Whoever said, “It is too hot to eat,” didn’t like eating in the first place. I wish I were one of those people because the heat we are enduring this week would be a great way to drop a few more pounds. Unfortunately for me there is something called air conditioning and I am doing my best to stay close to it.


Being too hot to eat had to come from the pre-refrigeration and air conditioning days when food would spoil quickly in the sweltering days and if you ate said food it would probably make a surprise reappearance.


I can remember when I was a kid in Connecticut we did not have air-conditioning, nobody I knew did. Not that it did not get plenty hot in the middle of the summer, but our 300-year-old-barn-turned-into-a-house had too many holes in the barn siding to keep cool air in, it also made heating it an issue, but that’s a December blog. My mother used to say it was too hot to cook. Turning on the oven in an already hot kitchen was prohibited. I don’t know why, the heat mostly stayed in the oven, but it was a great excuse not to cook dinner.


So summer suppers often consisted of vegetables from the farm stand by the club that could be sliced and served or at the most boiled on top of the stove for the minimal amount of time. We had sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, yellow squash and onions and corn on the cob. If we were lucky there might be a deviled egg or two leftover from a bridge luncheon. My mother was famous for her deviled eggs.


My absolute favorite summer bridge leftover my mother made was tomato aspic with cottage cheese and a dollop of mayonnaise on top. She put sliced olives, celery and horseradish in her aspic and it was the perfect cold food on those really hot August days. Bridge days were always welcome at our house.


Hot as it is in North Carolina in June I have not served any of these things for supper at my house. Maybe I should roll out the, “It’s too hot to cook,” excuse. I know the “It’s too hot to eat” one will fall on deaf ears.

Date Night

IMG_6491 IMG_6905


Poor Russ. Since I am on this very restrictive diet he is stuck eating the hodge podge of food at home that he can rustle up into something that resembles a meal. I am fine eating a little piece of chicken breast and some green vegetable, but Russ really needs something better. If he were to eat what I am eating he would begin to look like some male version of Olive Oil, tall and skinny.


Friday he asked me if we could possibly go out to dinner one night this weekend. By the time I agreed all the Saturday night reservations for the places he wanted to try were gone so we settled on a Sunday date night. Makes no difference to me since everyday is the same in my life.


Carter was still away on what she called “the best weekend of her life so far.” Her friend Ashley gave her tickets for the Lana Del Ray concert in Charlotte for her birthday in December. I don’t know if Ashley’s mother knew what a big gift that was but it turned into a night at the Ritz in Charlotte. Then Carter got to take Ashley’s little sister to Camp Cheerio today for her first camp drop off. To Carter it meant she got a chance to see her girl’s session friends she was missing by choosing to be a CIT at co-ed. Tonight she got home just in time to go out to dinner with her friend Cait before she leaves for South Africa in the morning. Oh happy weekend indeed.


I got home from my friend Andrea’s Sip and Say Hello party this afternoon where I met an amazing group of interesting women just in time for my date with Russ. He had chosen the Counting House at the 21 C hotel. He asked me to look at the menu to make sure it was OK for my diet and I told him not to worry I could make it work.


After we were seated at our corner booth with a purple penguin as our mascot diner a lovely waitress came to serve us. I asked if the kitchen could make me a fish without any butter or oil with a green vegetable. Much back and forth with questions from the chef and she was sure they could make me something yummy and in the bounds of my tight requirements. I was not disappointed when she brought out my plate with kale, zucchini and snow peas atop my fish with a fume.



There is nothing better than a chef who rises to the challenge. Russ was able to have a good meal of his choosing and the perfect date it was. The moral of the story is not to let restrictive eating prevent you from living.

Grown Too Big Zucchini Bread

IMG_6490 IMG_6489


For no other reason than plain laziness I did not harvest my garden everyday this week. I have no excuse. I was spending plenty of time watering it since we have had little to no rain, but I just did not look under the giant leaves of my many squash plants.


Yesterday I pulled four baseball bat zucchini out of the garden followed by two more today along with two bowling pin yellow squash. I’m not sure if I am going to be able salvage the yellow squash, but I was determined to use the zucchini, even if it meant making something I could not even take one bit of.


I made three loaves and begged Russ to taste it to let me know if it worked. I got two thumbs up so I made three more loaves. It was the perfect way to use the otherwise inedible vegetables.


Normally I would grate a zucchini with the skin on to make bread, but in this case I peeled them first so that I did not have any toughness. I also cut the peeled flesh in half and scooped out the seedy center before I ran the crescent shaped squash pieces in the Cuisinart with the grating blade.


3 cups flour

1 cup of sugar

1 ½ t. baking powder

1 ½ t. baking soda

2 t. cinnamon

½ t. freshly grated nutmeg


4 large eggs beaten

1 cup of oil

1 t. vanilla extract


4 cups of grated Zucchini


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.


In a large mixing bowl mix together the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl mix the wet ingredients, minus the zucchini. Pour the wet into the dry and mix just until all the dry is moist. Add the zucchini and stir until it is well distributed.


Prepare two small bread pans with pam or other grease. Divide the batter between the two pans. Place in the oven and bake for 50-55 minutes.


I doubled the recipe and divided the batter between three larger bread pans and baked for 60 mins.


Remove from oven and let cool on a rack on the counter.

Tragic Loss

At nine last night Carter comes into the kitchen from her room with a glazed look in her eyes and says, “A girl died at Camp today.” Camp for Carter is the place in the mountains of North Carolina that she affectionate calls “home.” It is her favorite place on earth, where she pines to be all years, waiting for summer like a three-year-old waits for Santa.
Carter is going to be a CIT at camp during the coed session that starts in July, but she spent many years going to the girls session and has lots of friends there now. That’s how she heard. A tragic zip line accident and a poor family who entrusted their sweet angel to a wonderful camp lost her. For the poor staff and counsellors it is the worst thing that can happen.  
There are risks in everything in life. I read a posting on Facebook yesterday from a friend whose son almost drown in a pool with life guards as she turned for just a second to get something. Thank goodness she turned around just in time to notice his lips below the water and the look of panic in his face. That story ended happily, but not without perhaps taking some days off that mother’s life.
I am so sad for Carter, who has lost two other friends this year. It seems like more than a teenager should have to deal with. I pray this tragic loss does not color the magic that happens at camp. There is an innocence about summer at camp with the games, songs, and friends. The real world did not exist in an electronic free environment.  
Please pray for the family who will not feel the same way about camp. Pray for the people who were there and will forever have that picture with them. Pray for the staff and counsellors who take the responsibility of caring for our children very seriously. Pray for the cabin and camp mates of the girl who was lost. Pray for all the campers to come that they will have the same wonderful life changing experiences at camp that Carter has had.

If You Don’t Eat Much, Make It Good



Over three years ago I started my current weight loss journey. It went great. I lost a hundred pounds and kept it off until about six months ago. Although I still blogged everyday about my struggles I started giving myself breaks from the vigilant program I had put myself on. I upped my exercise dramatically thinking it would allow me to eat a little more like a normal person. That plan just did not work for me. I gained a little bit each month and before I knew it I had gained almost 20 pounds.


The road of losing and gaining weight was a familiar one to me. I know each stop along the highway of eating both north and south. This time as I was headed north I did something I have not been good at in the past, I stopped myself at the first exit and changed roads. I did not want to gain back all my weight again.


Changing roads involved trying a new weight loss plan so I joined metabolic research center. I have been on their program for three weeks now and have lost fourteen pounds. It has been a very easy program to follow and I have not been hungry one day.


The key for me is to make the food I do get to eat as special as it can be. Normally I am a frugal eater, but not on this plan. Today’s lunch is a good example, I had crab, with some cold snow peas and a rainbow of cherry tomatoes with a dressing made of Walden Farms 0 Calorie Thousand Island dressing with a few capers. I’m not sure the capers are legal, but at 5 calories and no sugar they really can’t hurt.


Since I am eating small amounts the cost per serving is not as great as eating a lot of a cheaper food. The best part is that I feel like it is a big splurge to have crab salad for lunch on a weekday.


Losing weight I just put on is a lot easier than getting off pounds that I have had with me for years and years so hopefully it won’t be long to being back to where I want to be. The bottom line is there is no taking my eye off the scale. Exercise is great, but when my treadmill says I have walked off 500 calories it just is not true. In reality it probably was more like 100 calories, so eating those extra 400 everyday adds up fast.


Changing the program has also been good for my brain. It makes me have to measure and plan, something I had not done for a while. I am happy to be on my southern route, but I know that I won’t stay in this direction forever. Hopefully I am getting better at recognizing when it’s time to take a U-turn and next time it will be only after a pound or two and not 20 or 100.

Are Airlines Crazy?

Today at Mah Jongg my friend Katina asked if we had heard about the new airline carry on regulations? What? When I got in the car NPR was playing a story about the airline fiasco. Apparently European airlines are reducing the size of carry on bags that are allowed to a size that does not actually exist in the luggage universe. Half an inch length , half and inch less in width and like five inches less in depth to a seven inch high bag.
The airlines are trying to maximize revenues by forcing everyone, but Barbies to have to check their bags or go naked when they are on vacation. It seems to me that the European airlines that are in collision to all do this at the same time as well as with the luggage manufactures who are going to be able to sell us all new luggage and the nude vacation sights.
So far the American Airlines have not answered if they area going to follow suit,but you know the worst amount our carriers are thinking about. Actually I bet Spirit Airlines already charges for carry-ons as well as toilet paper.
I am putting out a plea to all good U.S. airlines to set themselves apart and not screw over the flying population and reduce the size of carry-ons. I can’t imagine going back to handing over my bag to people who can’t possibly care enough about my stuff as I do. The airlines who do not reduce the carry-on size will be the ones I will try and patronize forever and ever.
Maybe this is a new diet incentive that the only way you can fit your clothes into tiny carry on bags is to become a size zero. Since that is never happening for me I might have to start wearing all my clothes on my body when I get on a plane and just use my miniature carry-on bag for my tiny travel size tooth paste and lotion.  
Please just raise the prices of tickets a few Euros and just let us carry our stuff on. I know they are justifying this move by saying this way there will be more overhead room for everyone, but if they just enforced the rules they already have their would be enough room. I have literally been on flight from Miami to Puerto Rico where one person brought a kitchen sink on and put it in the overhead bin, taking up the whole bin.
I guess it’s time to learn to fly. Who wants to go in on a plane with me?

Use Your Spices


The other day at lunch a friend of mine asked me how long her spices would last. Nobody at the table liked my answer which got me thinking that even some of the best cooks I know are using old spices. Here are the guidelines for how long spices are really best; 4 years for whole spices, like whole cloves or fennel seeds, 2-3 years for ground spices, like cinnamon and cayenne pepper and only 1-3 years for dried spices like basil and oregano.  
Now before you go throwing away your whole spice drawer open a bottle and take a whiff, not too big if it is red pepper. If it has a strong defined smell it is probably ok, but as the spices age you may have to add more to get the taste and it still won’t be as good as fresh spices.
My friend Stephanie, who grew up in Baltimore where McCormack spice company started, said they ran a campaign a few years ago saying, “If your spice bottle has a Baltimore address on the back and not Hunt Valley, Maryland, throw it out, it is over 20 years old.” Despite have a corporate headquarters in Baltimore, Hunt Valley has been the packaging location for over 20 years.
Rather than thinking of your spices as some precious exotic item to be used sparingly start using the ones you have until you use them up. I dry pan seared some okra tonight and dosed it heavily in coriander, which gave it a bright citrus flavor. Add some spices to you bottled salad dressing, if you use that, or make a fresh salad dressing by throwing in a bunch of different spices, like basil, garlic and ginger with your oil and vinegar.  
Just be careful not to add too much at first. To this day I hate dill because someone in my house used to add much too much of it to potato or chicken salads. A little dill goes a long way.
If you are an infrequent cook and don’t have any idea how old your spices are start writing the date on the bottle the next time you open something new. In two years any bottle of a dried or ground spice without a date can get thrown away and you will only replace them as a recipe calls for them.
One great way to use up things like nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice and cloves is to make a spice cake. Just don’t share it with me, because it is a favorite of mine and can’t only eat one bite!
This message was not brought to you by the spice manufactures of the world, but for full disclosure my Grandfather used to own a spice company called Try Me Spices, so encouraging you to use your spices might be in my blood.

Where is My Stuff?



As the Great Clean Out of closets continues at my house I am finding things I had long forgotten about, or can’t seem to remember ever buying or receiving. Today while cleaning out the hanging quits, vacuum, ironing, unusual sized light bulbs and odd cleaning supply closet I ran across not one, but two zip lock bags of Museum Gel, Wax and Putty. For the life of me I don’t remember buying one set, let alone two. I wonder if I had considered opening some kind of glass museum once upon a time?


I am trying to follow the rule that if I haven’t used it I don’t need it, but in the case of things I never knew I had, like the Scratch Fixer Kit for Wood, I think someday I might use it. Like I can think of one or two scratches I would like to fix, but not right now since I am in the middle of cleaning out.


Since the point of cleaning out these closets is to be able to completely empty them when the floors get refinished I am trying to find more logical places for most of the items that I am not throwing or giving away. So many of the things grouped together in these closets does not make sense, but just happened because the space was right; Like the bed linen, pocketbook and sewing closet. It all reminds me of a Far Side cartoon of a little shack with a man in the window next to a big pile of dirt – the sign above the little shack read “Fred’s Fill Dirt and Croissant Shop.”


As I moved the strange extra light bulbs, like the ones for the refrigerator and the above the bathroom mirror globes to the utility closet that holds all 67 other kinds of light bulbs I begin to worry about being able to find things that I have moved when I need them in four or five years. At my age my memory is not what it used to be. Actually, my long-term memory of what happened when I was five is just fine, but don’t ask me what I ate for lunch three days ago.


What I think I need is an app that tells me where everything I own is, and I mean precisely, which room, which closet, what shelf, which side of that shelf. Do you think there is such a thing? It would be incredibly helpful for other members of the house to be able to look up where something is kept, rather than asking me. “Why do you think I know where your sleeping bag is?” It would have been helpful when I was asked for a gold paint pen to know if I even have one.


If you know of such an app, please let me know. If no one lets me know I’m going to put a call out to all app writers to get right on making one. I can’t be the only person who needs help remembering where all my stuff is, but I need it fast before I forget where I moved everything.

I’ll Give It Away



The great floor re-do cleanout of all the closets has continued. So far the towel/toiletry closet is done, the linen/sewing/pocketbook one is done, with the exception of deciding which old purses to purge and today was the winter clothes and gift closet. Before today I already took 17 big bags to donate, but I have accumulated a small group of things that have more value that I have not donated yet.


The gift closet yielded even more brand new things that I don’t need or want, or let’s be honest I don’t really think my friends want. It is years of buying stuff on trips, or accumulating things I think I might want to gift, but then forgot about them. I found two brand new Eiffel Tower watches from France—I think they were from a trip ten years ago. There is stuff from China when Russ used to go there quarterly and more soap that I could use in a lifetime of rolling in mud.


I know that if someone were having a yard sale this stuff would sell fast since it is all unused. Notice I did not say new, since I know that some of it is twenty years old, but still in its original packaging. I have too much to do to have a yard sale, even though God knows I have a house worth of garage sale stuff. I just don’t have the time to clean out all the parts of my house to get all the saleable items assembled at one time.


So here is my offer. If you are having a yard sale, or are an e-bay seller, or have some other way to dispose of this good stuff, like a Dickens village Christmas house or a Sony voice recorder with tapes, please contact me. But here is the deal, you have to take both these boxes. No picking and choosing.


If you have a teenager with nothing to do this summer who would like to make some money this might be a good project for them. I just want to get rid of it and not add to the waste in the landfill. I know I could take it all to Goodwill, but frankly some of it is too breakable to just dump it in those bins.


I’m not asking anything in return, just come get it fast! Actually one rule, you are never allowed to give me any of this back as a gift, and never give me any soap!

Girls Love Dancers



Tonight we went to see Newsies at the Durham Performing Arts Center. It was the last show of the yearly Broadway season. Our seat mates and friends who sit behind us were too overwhelmed or just plain exhausted from school year end/summer beginning activities to make it tonight so we had all their seat. Thanks for you generosity Michelle and Mary Lloyd, you missed a great show.


Carter was thrilled to get to bring her friend Campbell and it was made all the better that they got to sit in seats away from us. The show was great, but for the teenagers the fact that the majority of the cast are attractive young men who can really dance was a huge bonus.


As we left the theatre on a high from watching them flip, tap, spin and fly through the air we had an extra spring in our step. The constant energy that these young performers exerted right through the end was exhilarating for us as spectators.


I can only imagine how many calories these boys burn during every show. How are there are enough hours to eat on days they do two shows, like Saturdays? They certainly did not lack anything during this second show so I bet the cast is out eating right now.


The girls could not stop talking about the boy’s dancing. Let it be a lessons to all the young men who might be interested in girls; learn to dance and you never will be lonely.


In the car on the way home Carter put on the Dirty Dancing soundtrack, just to reinforce her love of watching a good male dancer. I wish that there were more dances for teenagers to go to. We need some kind of dance pavilion that is open every weekend like their used to be at Pawley’s Island back when my Dad was a teenager. Dancing is the best kind of fun.

D-O-G is His Co-Pilot



Back when I was a sophomore in college my car broke down right at the toll of the George Washington Bridge to NYC on the Wednesday of Thanksgiving. I was giving a friend a ride home and she was nervous on a good day, but a car breaking down on the Jersey side of the bridge seemed like certain death to her.


As my bright yellow sirocco coasted into the tiny strip of pavement between the cement barriers and the fast traffic lane on the left I was just trying to keep my friend calm, but had no plan about what to do. I looked in my rearview mirror and saw a big late model Cadillac Sedan de Ville pull up right behind me with an older gentleman behind the wheel. My friend said something like, “the headlines are going read two coeds killed on GW Bridge.”


As I looked back in my rear view mirror at the car behind me I noticed a license plate that read, ”DOG is my Co-pilot.” Of course it was backwards in my mirror and I knew it really said GOD. I told my friend everything is going to be OK and I got out of the car to speak to the man who was already approaching my car with some tools in his hand.


I have no recollection of what he did under the hood of my tiny car, but whatever it was it got us started and running smoothly all the way back to Connecticut. My friend was much less nervous since she felt that God was watching over us and had provided that man just for us. I never told her that I at first had read the plate as DOG and that thinking he was a dog person made him OK in my book.


Tonight I had to follow Russ in his Smart car to the dealer so it could get its regular service. Shay got to ride with Russ, as is her first choice. Stopped at a light I could see Shay hang her head out the window and I thought that DOG was Russ’ co-pilot. There is a reason the God spelled backwards is Dog. I did not worry a moment that we would not get Russ’ car to the dealer, because in my book Dog, or God they are one in the same.

Della Curry – My New Hero



If you were watching Good Morning America this morning you might know who Della Curry is, that is how I came to learn of the lunch lady from Aurora, Colorado who got fired for giving hungry kids free food. If you missed this segment I want to tell you why she is my hero.


Della Curry is a 35-year-old woman who was the kitchen manager of an elementary school. Lunch ladies are the unsung hero’s of America and they rarely get the respect they deserve for cooking and serving food to hundreds of kids every school day, hell anyone who just spends time in a school cafeteria deserves a special place in heaven.


At Della’s school kids had accounts for their lunches where their parents were supposed to put money in advance of them buying lunch. Della described the lunch as a hot main entrée, two vegetables a fruit and milk. Children came through the line and were given their food and then went to pay, either deducting the cost from their account or with cash they had with them. If a child’s account got overdrawn by $7.60, which was the cost of three meals, the policy was that the lunch ladies manning the cash register were supposed to take that child’s tray of food away from them, except the milk, and replace it with a cheese sandwich made up of one slice of American cheese on a hamburger bun. Here is the crazy part, by law they had to throw away the meal they took from the child for health reasons.


Della was fired for not throwing away perfectly good food, but instead letting the child eat it. She admitted she was breaking the rules, but in good conscious she would do it again that way. She said that there were plenty of kids at her school who got free or reduced price lunches, but some kids who did not qualify still had a hard time paying. To qualify for reduced price lunch a family of four has to earn less than about $44,000 a year and to get free lunch a family of four had to earn less than $31,000.


She is my hero because she was looking out for small children, who through no fault of their own, did not have the means to pay for food and did not deserved to be shamed in the lunch line and denied the same nutrition as the other children. Yes, not all cafeteria food is delicious, but if you are hungry it tastes pretty good.


I believe that the children who have a hard time paying are exactly who we should give food to, because they probably don’t have the best food at home. Not having a good lunch makes learning in the afternoon difficult, so this policy of giving a child a cheese sandwich and cup of milk is putting them at a disadvantage in the classroom and that could have cumulative and lifelong effects. A well-fed child has a much better chance at growing up to be productive and self sufficient than a child who has been shamed and denied.


Imagine your own child was switched at birth and mistakenly went home with a family of minor means, wouldn’t you want your child to have Della Curry as his or her lunch lady?

Half Way Through Upper School



Summer officially started for Carter today since she had her last exam as a sophomore yesterday. As a parent it is almost as exciting to not to have to think about school as it is for the child. Being half way through high school is hard for me to comprehend especially since I feel like I was just half way through yesterday.


As I think back to myself at Carter’s age I realize that I did not really begin to find my voice until well into my junior year. There is so much pressure on kids today to invent fabulous new technology or be a world-class athlete or save an endangered species all before they get to Upper school, but in reality most people are just not fully developed yet.


Learning what you like in the world and how you might fit in is a long process that should involve some stumbles along the way. I certainly was no star at anything at the end of my sophomore year at Ethel Walkers. I was just trying to keep my head above water while not falling into some hole at the same time. One of the hardest parts was learning to deal with people who were equally as undeveloped.


For Carter I look forward to her having a successful summer as a CIT at Camp Cheerio. It is a great chance to try out new leadership skills while being at her favorite place on earth, after London and Rome, oh and Paris. But Cheerio is the place her heart is happy and the stress level is low, low, low and friends are supportive.


Discovering all that you are takes time so, Carter, keep exploring and being curious and trying new things, especially if they are hard. It’s Ok not to know exactly all that you are going to be at just 16. How boring life would be if you did. At sixteen no one would have bet that I could write a lick, I had never left the country, I did not know that my true passion was to help hungry people, I don’t think I knew any hungry people, I also was probably not even that funny. What I did know is that good friends are worth investing in and that cooking was a useful skill.


So cheers to a good summer. Rejuvenate, rest and relax. Mostly explore and expand your understanding of your true self. It is a self that has lots of time to unfold.

My Summer Assignment



For the last two years Russ has been asking me to get the floors in the old part of our house refinished. Although I agreed they needed to be done I kept putting off calling the floor person because I knew it was going to be a nightmare for me. Since I got the driveway fixed earlier this year and it was a relatively painless operation for me I decided to move on to the floors since it was the next biggest item on Russ’ giant work on the house list.


The nice floor lady I knew from Carter’s school arrived promptly at three to much fan fair from Shay. She walked in the house with a matter-of-fact swagger that said; of course you need to get these floors redone, without her actually saying a word. She asked me what I needed done and I showed her the living and dining rooms the stairs and all the bedrooms and hallways in the old part of our house.


Shay shivered outside each room afraid of the sound as she efficiently swung out her mammoth tape measure reaching from one wall to the next with a quick flick of the wrist. As she measured our bedroom I asked the question I was dreading, “Do you refinish the closets too?” I can’t remember her exact answer, but she basically told me they were high-class refinishers so of course the closets get done. Then she opened my closet. I was unprepared to have another human look at my closet. “Everything gets removed,” she said with the tone of a nonjudgmental professional. She still needed to get the job.


Gulp. This is exactly what I was afraid of. Not just moving all out furniture, rugs and paintings, out of the main part of the house, but every item of all my packed and ultra utilized closets. It is only three bedrooms that are getting refinished, but there are seven closets. Don’t ask me to explain, but trust me I love my closets.


After she left me with a quote and potential start days of the ten days I will have to be out of my house rather than walk or needlepoint I started the giant job of cleaning out a closet. Russ called as I just finished up the worst shelf of the linen closet that held all the extra toothpaste, lotions, and Band-Aids. “Wow,” he said, “that has not been cleaned out since Megan did it.” Megan was our babysitter all through her college years and now she is a famous actress on TV in her thirties.   I wish she wasn’t so successful and still lived here because I certainly could use her now.


So much for my summer of freedom. Cleaning out the closets is the first step to packing them up completely. The only good news is in my inefficiency of cleaning out that one shelf I got 2,500 steps. Maybe this could be called the refinish the floors diet.



Dressing Doctoring



In my attempt to lose the weight I gained in the month of December, on our trip to Italy and during May, otherwise known as the month of me, I enrolled in a weight loss program that was different than my own self designed plan. I needed to hand my problem over to someone else who could just tell me what to do.


So far it is working great. I have lost all the weight I gained since returning from Italy and that is just on the pre-conditioning diet. Wednesday I start the real diet, which will be harder than the pre-conditioning. What I eat is not so different, except I don’t eat cheese or vinegar in unlimited amounts like I used to. I have been instructed to use Walden Farms zero calorie dressing and it is a basic affront to everything I am about.


I have not been a bottled dressing kind of gal for years and years so to ask me to eat this stuff has been hard on my palette. I would just use lemon juice, but that too has been limited to 1 teaspoon a day and I need every drop of it for my tea. I finally came up with the answer, I doctored the bottled dressing with some things I am allowed to have. I have to say I am fairly happy with the outcome.


Sesame Ginger Dressing Redone


In a blender put the following


¼ cup of Walden Farms 0 calorie Sesame Ginger Dressing

Ten fresh basil leaves

Handful of fresh cilantro including the stems

2 t. limejuice

1 clove of garlic

½ inch of grated fresh ginger


Whirl that mother up until the herbs are just tiny bits. If you like spicy add a few red pepper flakes.  It is infinitely better that the stuff right out of the bottle.


I may be able to survive being told exactly what to eat for a few weeks now.