Grease is the Word

When I was exactly Carter’s age I had my first boy friend named Charlie. Our summer dating in Wilton had very few options for age appropriate things to do. We played putt-putt, hung out at the pool and went to the movies over and over again. The big movie that summer was Grease and we saw it no less than five times. I had every line memorized by the third viewing.
On my way home from DC today I was talking to Carter on the phone and she said. “You are going to be home in time to watch the Grease Live event with me tonight?” I have not been a big fan of these movie remake live shows on TV, but I did not want to disappoint Carter and I had so many Grease memories.
We snuggled into the big sofa and started watching Juliane Hough as Sandra D. The singing and dancing was really good and the story followed the movie fairly closely. It was so true to the original Carter asked me who Rock Hudson was since they mentioned him in a song. I have obviously not done my job as a mother that Carter does not know him.
As I watch this show with Carter I remember how inappropriate the story is for young kids. I asked Carter if she understood the movie when she was little and she told me that the whole “bun in the oven” section made no sense to her then.
As I think back to it when I was watching it is was very racy in comparison to the putt-putt life I was living. I certainly never knew any Rizzo’s or T-Birds, all my friends were “Sandy’s”. And I never went to school with anyone who went to beauty school, or was a beauty school drop out, but I really love the song. The live versions with Boyz to Men singing the Frankie Valle “Beauty school drop out,” was not as good as the original, at least the way I remember it the five times I saw it when I was seventeen. Grease is the word and I love that my daughter loves it too.

The Sistas


My parents are going to feel really left out when they see this picture of my real sisters, my sister-in-law and my best guy sisters who I had dinner with tonight. It is a rare treat that we all are in the same place at the same time so I made sure we had dinner together.
My quick trip to DC has been one great meal with friends and or family after another. I started the day with my French reunion at the quintessential French bistro Le Diplomat. We laughed, reminisced, told stories and shared great food, but the best part was watching the little girl next to us discover the joys of eating French food. I hope her mother can get her to eat regular food after she gnawed on brioche slathered with foie gras.

After that long meal I knew I needed a good walk to prepare for the dinner I knew was coming. Thank goodness the sun shone today, it made the walking between the big islands of snirt-that’s snow encrusted with dirt, bearable. I made my way back to John and David’s for a short needlepoint session and refresh and went off to Range for dinner.

Margaret had gotten there first and was a little panicked because they did not have our reservation, of course she asked for Dana Carter’s table, forgetting my name has been Lange for almost 24 years. Once we got that issue settled we had a grand time visiting over many drinks and a long drawn out dinner. Margaret was a really good sport about the late arrival of her very blackened pizza. We insisted she send it back and she went with the fried chicken instead. That led us into her history of loving fried chicken– always getting the Swanson fried chicken dinner when we had frozen dinners on babysitter nights, eating fried chicken in bed at the Holiday Inn on our way to summer vacations in Pawleys Island and having fried chicken on every birthday. These are memories you only sisters appreciate.

Despite out best effort to stay at the table all night we eventually had to part. The end of a very fun day with way too much eating. I know that time to go home and get back on the wagon is coming, but I am not going to enjoy it half as much as my friend and family filled weekend.

Old Friends Are Worth The Trouble


A number of months ago my friend Wendy, who I went to college with and became life long friends when we spent a summer in school together in France, called me about a reunion with our other friend Steve. Of course I am always up for a reunion with Steve and Wendy. Our time in France was nothing but fun, especially if you ignore that annoying school part like I did. Since the three of us live in different cities we have to actually make an effort to get together. Sadly, we are missing our fourth, Herb, who passed away at a much too young age about fifteen years ago. The loss of Herb probably makes us try a little harder to stay in touch.
When Wendy found out that Steve was going to be in DC this weekend she suggested it as a good place for us to get together. I am always up for a trip to the place I spent my youthful first ten years out of college. I get to not only rendezvous with my French compatriots, but I am staying with my beasties, John and David who treat me like a queen. And as a bonus I also got a visit in today with my friend Jeanne who took me to lunch after my troublesome drive.
I was really excited about coming to DC this morning to see all these fabulous friends. I was first of all thankful that it was not last weekend when DC got a record amount of snow. I got up early this morning to get a full day of friend love in DC. Dropping Shay off at her sitters, I was on the road before eight with my iced tea and my Serius radio.  
About forty minutes into the trip the low tire pressure light came on in my car. I pulled off the highway to get air and as soon as I did the check engine light came on and flashed wildly. This did not give me a good feeling. I did not want to risk driving into the middle of nowhere Virginia and have my car stop working. I turned around and headed back to Durham to the car dealer to see if they could plug my car into the computer and tell me if something was really wrong. That was a pipe dream. The service tech gave me that “you have got to be kidding me lady” look when he told me it would be a few hours before a “hybrid” tech was free. Instead I drove home and got my trusty 16 year old Land Cruiser that does it have any fancy diagnostic lights.
When I went in the house to get the key I noticed an important item of clothing Carter did not get from the laundry that she would need for her basketball game today, so I texted her. “Oh Mom, I do need that.” So on my way back out of town, I ran by school and put said important clothing item in her locker. I was only two hours behind schedule.
With no satellite radio I channel surfed my way up the I’s 85 and 95 and made it to Old town in time to have a late lunch with Jeanne and still see her stop she works at, her favorite shoe store and her new house. Only a half hour late I got to David and John’s in time for a short visit and change of clothes before I ubered off to the Hay Adams for dinner with Wendy and Steve joining us for drinks after. Wendy had brought her journal from out trip and we relived some key moments. The whole night went too fast, but we are meeting again tomorrow for lunch. So with no sadness we all departed in our own taxis/ubers knowing we would do it again tomorrow.
I came home to the best turn down service at John and David’s happy to be with so many great friends, definitely worth the drive! 


No Sickness Diet

I went to a ladies who lunch event today and got to see a bunch of friends I have not seen since the holidays. I don’t know how January gets by me so quickly. Of course the three or four days of house-bound-snow days ate into any possible socializing, but that is only like a ninth of the month.
Two friends I had not seen much of both independently told me they had not been well. One had a cold/flu that held on for weeks and the other had oral surgery. I guess if you are going to be sick January is the best time because you are not missing anything exciting. Both friends said the same thing about being unwell, “the worst part was I did not even lose any weight.”
It reminded me of an old joke that was popular when I was in my twenties. A skinny woman says to a friend, “I’m just one flu way from my ideal weight.”
Losing a bunch of weight from a one day bug is something that only happens when you are young. By the time your body hits middle age it is unfazed by your not putting any food in it, or in the case of my oral surgery friend, only drinking your food. Instead of attacking your fat reserves, the older person’s body just shuts down unimportant functions to reduce the amount of calories needed when not many are coming in. No new hair will grow, your nails will stay short and stubby and your skin will be fairly lack luster. (Although my friends who had been sick looked pretty great today.)
The fact that my ill friends did not lose weight is also a testament to how important exercise is as you age. When you are sick you are probably not moving around much so you are not burning any calories that way. Right there is the answer to why you are not losing weight when you are sick. Now if you were riding that exercise bike with a bucket attachment with the stomach bug, then certainly you would drop a pound or two, but that visual is horrible and I’m sorry I out it out in the universe.
The line about being “one bug away from your ideal weight” does not apply to middle aged women. Being sick just stinks with no side benefit. So stay healthy and keep moving. And for goodness sake, don’t drink your calories — they really add up.  

What Your Body Needs

Today I got an email from a friend who has rheumatoid issues and at the suggestion of her doctor has been following an autoimmune protocol diet which follow closely to the paleo diet. My friend says that cutting out grains and gluten does make her feel better and greatly reduces her need for medication. She was reaching out to me for recipe ideas.
First, I had no idea she had been suffering from any ailments and I am sorry I was unaware. Second, I had a very limited knowledge of exactly what the Paleo diet included and more importantly what was excluded. Third, I had not even heard of the autoimmune protocol diet. I started researching to see what I could learn so I could suggest some different recipes to her, but quickly realized it was not a quick study to find out the answers.
This in someway reminds me of what my sister-in-law has gone through in the last ten months of trying to feed her husband heart healthy food. After his heart attack the amount of salt he was permitted dropped to a level that is practically impossible to reach since salt appears naturally in so many foods, not just processed foods.
More and more people are realizing that food is medicine. Yes we all need to eat to live, but to live our best you need to eat the best foods. What are best for one of us is not necessarily the same for another. I know for instance that refined sugar really makes me tired. The catch is once I start eating it I crave it, I eat it get tired and then my defenses are down so I give into the cravings more. I still have not gotten over my Christmas sugar.  
Now my need to not eat sugar is nothing compared to someone who needs to stay way from gluten so she can walk, but knowing what you should not eat and doing it everyday are very hard. That is why having delicious options that fit in your own personal regime are important.  
My friend is looking for new recipes for sweet potatoes, since that is something she can eat. She said the coconut and plantains are good too. Since these are foods I tend to stay away from for caloric reasons I am not necessarily cooking new and different recipes that might help her. If you follow the Paleo or AIP diet and have any good ideas I would love to pass them on to my friend.  
I wish there was some magical nutrition test that could give us a print out of exactly what our own bodies needed and what we should stay away from. All this testing ourselves by removing foods from our diets and adding things back is a life’s work. I have so many more interesting things to do than figure out if my body works better on chicken or an apple, I already know it does it work well on Oreos.

I’m No Slow Cooker 


I have never been a master of the the slow cooker. I guess that since I am mostly home I never saw a need to put food in a cooking vessel that I could leave while I was away from the house. I had a friend who told me when her girls were juniors and seniors in high school and playing sports that her slow cooker saved her. She would put a meal in it and then go watch them play and still have supper ready in a timely manner so they could eat and get home work done.  
Today I had a Food Bank meeting in Raleigh in the middle of the day, came home for a conference call and then went back to North Raleigh for a basketball game. With all that coming and going and a low stock of leftovers after snow bound eating at home, I decided today was the perfect day to try the crockpot. I looked in my pantry of rarely used items and knew that I could make a tomato sauce with the carrots and onions I had fresh, and canned tomatoes. I also knew there were frozen meatballs that could be added later so I thought I’d try it.
At nine in the morning I put onions, carrots, garlic, canned tomatoes, marjoram, tomato paste and beef stock in the crock pot and turned it on low. I left the house and when I came back five hours later I was underwhelmed with what had happened. I turned it up to high and gave it another two hours. A little better. I ran the stick blender through it and dumped in the frozen meatballs and a hockey puck sized frozen pesto from my summer garden. I turned it on low and left the house for another five hours.  
After Carter’s team won their game she asked for Chipolte for dinner. So much for the twelve hours of cooking. I had a salad for dinner and only Russ ate one meatball as part of his grazing on many things for dinner. He said it was good, but who knows. Eating dinner at nine thirty I think everything tastes good.
So much for my planning ahead. I could have done nothing and been in the same place come dinner time. So into the fridge the crock will go and hopefully someone will eat these things tomorrow.  
I am not sure that I am sold on this way of cooking. There is no caramelization of anything when cooking in stone wear. Thank goodness the meatballs were browned before I froze them. We only have a couple of weeks left in basketball season so I am not seeing a need to try and master the slow cooker this year. I guess I will just keep it to reheat soups and chili’s when I go to covered dish dinners at church. For me, I am going back to my trusty 30 year old stock pot where I know how to develop flavor.

January 25- Janie Carter Day



For someone who hates winter as much as my mother it just seems wrong that today is her birthday. Winter and the fact that it is just one month past Christmas makes January 25th not an ideal day, but my Mom is certainly making the most of it. Last Thursday before the blizzard hit the east coast my Mom drove up to Washington, DC because why not go to one of her favorite places the day before the whole city is going to shut down with the most snow ever.


Now her favorite daughter, Janet, does live there as does her next favorite, Margaret, but Margaret had the good sense to leave DC for Miami, and that is why she is second favorite. Despite the travel ban my Mom said she has had a fun weekend going to a gallery and out to lunch before the snow hit the city and then playing bridge once everyone was trapped inside. Sounds like the perfect birthday weekend for my mother.


Today I am told that our friend Anne is having a lunch for her and the favorite daughter Janet is doing a dinner so perhaps my mother was right to run from the farm to the big city so she could be celebrated in style. She also left my father home alone to plow all the farm roads so by the time she will get home tomorrow everything at the farm will be perfect.


I found this picture of Carter and Mom in Washington DC in 2008 at her last big DC birthday party. Seems like her best birthdays have taken place in DC so to overcome the fact that it is so close to Christmas in the doldrums of late January, is cold and full of snow she is making the most of it.


I am just sorry that as second to the second most favorite daughters she is not here for us to celebrate her, but I guess that will have to wait until she visits in February. I can’t compete with galleries and fancy bridge parties. Instead we will go to lunch someplace good and then to the shoe repairman. Now that will be living big, but at 78 a good shoe repairman is practically like gold.


Happy birthday Janie Carter. Sorry your birthday is not during a beautiful month like May or September, the months you had your children. We appreciate you giving us good weather months to celebrate. Just know that all your daughters and your grand daughter love you.