I have fallen into a bad sleep pattern, not completely by choice, and it’s killing me. The things that are in my control that I am doing wrong are; eating too many carbs that make me feel lethargic, then drinking too much caffeine to over come the carbs ingested, staying up too late watching the worst possible TV the Academy Awards (where were the real movie stars?) and other unnecessary TV viewing, playing too many games on various Apple devices that serve no purpose, but keep my brain moving when it should be slowing down.
Things that are out of my control are; the shade in my room is out being repaired and the sun is coming up earlier, Russ not sleeping through the night thanks to jet lag, or the need to get up at four in the morning to go to the airport, Shay thinking that once Russ leaves the house at 4:20 AM she needs to wake me up to take her out and give her breakfast.
Because of the need to get up to go to the gym there is no sleeping in to make up for the bad habits of the night before and the cycle starts all over again. I have tried to go to sleep slightly earlier, but I have just not been able to fall asleep no matter how tired I am. I know that I am the cause of this issue. I hardly have any real excuse not to eat cleanly, stop caffeine at noon and go to bed at a decent hour, but I have not been able to follow through with that plan so far.
Russ is away in freezing Chicago tonight so I should have started my catch up on sleep plan today, but I have already eaten the wrong foods and had iced tea late into the afternoon. Damn the yumminess of that tea, it is such a terrible addiction. But it is the only thing I am eating that has no calories. And the more tired I get the less will power I have. This is the most vicious cycle ever. And damn, The Batchelor is on TV tonight. At least it ends at ten. How am I ever going to make myself fall asleep by then? If only I can keep Shay asleep long enough not to insist on my getting up in the middle of the night. It’s like have a new born again.
Tonight Carter and I settled into the big sofa in front of our new TV to watch the red carpet pre-Oscar show. This year I have seen fewer of the nominated pictures than I ever have so I don’t have a lot of opinions about who I want to win. Instead Carter and I have been studying the dresses.
From the early stars who came in, like Olivia Wilde and Saoirse Ronan it looks like dresses without any visible means of support were going to make a big show tonight. Fashion without foundation is not something I can ever pull off, not unless I am purposely trying to have a big wardrobe malfunction. I am wondering if they have their boobs so taped down that they are not afraid of an escape?
Just when I thought that the Oscars was all about “no bras” Kerry Washington came along with a Versace leather breast plate gladiator topped dress. Hooray. At last a look that was designed to hold everything in the right place and looking their best.
Not that I am ever going to be going to the Oscars, but I know that what the stars wear gets translated out to the real world. Please, knock off designers, take up the looks that women can wear bras with, most of us need them.
Enjoy the show. I hope that Chris Rock is funny and I am able to stay awake to see the big awards.
I am not boasting when I say that I am a good cook. Just ask my husband or any of my friends or dinner guests who cherish an invitation to our table. I was not born this way, it took years of loving food to get this way. One might deduce that loving the taste of food automatically makes someone a good cook, but I know plenty of foodies who have gotten that way without ever heating a pan in their own kitchens.
After all these years of cooking I have become an intuitive cook, meaning that I can just throw things together based on what I have on hand and it usually tastes good. That level of kitchen confidence comes only after years of tasting lots of different food combinations. Since I can’t teach that I try and write recipes down now because I almost never would remember how or even what I made in the past, when someone begs me for a recipe.
Not everything I make is gourmet or complicated, but I try to make everything yummy. When someone asks me for cooking advice my best and easiest thing to tell people is to buy interesting condiments and use them to spice up a simple protein like a piece of grilled chicken or fish.
I am not talking about basic mayonnaise or ketchup, but coriander sauce, mango chutney or the Myer lemon relish I used tonight on salmon. I pan cooked a piece of salmon with nothing but salt and pepper and once I plated it I dabbed a spoonful of the fragrant lemon sauce on top. It basically was a two-ingredient dish, since salt and pepper are never counted in the recipe world, but it was fabulously tasty. The best part is it took barely five minutes to make.
So my suggestion for expanding your cooking repertoire is just peruse the gourmet condiment aisle at the grocery store. Pick out something you have never tasted, read the label; it usually will have a suggested use. Try it! Most condiments don’t make it to your local store without a bunch of people tasting it and liking it, so there is little risk for you to buy it. Put it on chicken because everything goes on chicken. Suddenly you will be a gourmet cook and it only took two-ingredients.
If you discover you like that condiment you may want to learn to make it from scratch, but only if you really want to learn to be a better cook. But it is no crime to just continue to buy jars of relishes, sauces, spices, oils and other good ingredients to help add flavor to your simple foods. People will consider you a gourmet cook and you never have to tell them how you do it.
Today on NPR I heard a snippet of legal news about a Western Pennsylvania woman, the president of two family owned cheese companies, who was convicted of a crime of mislabeling cheese. Specifically it was Parmesan and Romano Cheeses that actually did not include any of those cheeses in them. What authorities found is that the grated cheese products included other cheeses and, wait for it, wood pulp. The woman is probably getting probation and has to pay a fine of $500,000.
Now I know some of you might be outraged that you could have paid close to $14 a pound for fake Parmesan, and for that I don’t blame you. The thing that intrigues me is that this woman completely missed the boat in making even more money from her fake cheese.
I think anyone who can make something taste like Parmesan, but has fiber in it, (cheese alone has not fiber) and has fewer calories than Parm could have made a killing. Since the human body can not really digest wood they would end up running through you and not contributing to any weight gain. If you made that wood tasty, well now you have a diet “cheese like” sprinkle.
This cheese woman is no marketing whiz because diet products sell for so much more than regular products. If she had just marketed her “cheese product” as Parmesan flavor she never would have gotten in any trouble.
Of course she would have to list her ingredients on the label, but how many people really understand that cellulose is wood? It was the nutrition label where she could have made her killing since it would be fewer calories than REAL very fattening Parmesan.
I am not condoning lying, especially about food, But if she could make this stuff taste good she was on to something. My only question is, “what kind of wood was she using?” If there is a Parmesan tasting tree out there I want to start a tree farm. Imagine what kinda of market there could be for Parmesan tasting tooth picks? One tree could make billions of tooth picks. I could be realy happy sucking on that tooth pick to help curb my cheese craving, especially since it would be calorie free!
Yesterday, as I was lying face down on the treatment table in the doctor’s office, awaiting the fourth in a long line of vein treatments I am undergoing as a leg improvement project, I heard the weather warning signal blast away on my phone. The nurse said, “it”s just tornado warnings.”
Since I had already gone to my zen place so as not to feel any pain I ignored the warning. When I was finally treated, bandaged and stuff snuggly into my compression sock the doctor said, “go now and be safe in the weather.”
I got in the car and never looked at my phone, nor turned on the radio and blissfully drove myself home. The sky was very dark in the direction I was going and I did notice the swirling clouds, but chose to ignore them as they were moving away from my house as I pulled in the drive way.
I had things to do to get ready for the book club I was holding last night so I ignorantly went about my business with no TV, Internet or radio interruptions. I got a few emails from people saying they were not going to venture out in the weather and I wondered why.
Later last night after all the people left my house I opened Facebook to find many postings of friends close by who were sheltering in place in interior closets or basement rooms. Pictures of kids wearing head lamps, doing homework shoulder to shoulder with their siblings in a place not big enough for one, let alone three or four.
Apparently the weather was much worse in some places near me than it was at my house. I am thankful that my friends are all safe, but I am mostly sad that I missed a good excuse to take a nap while sheltering in place. I have been very tired and unable to fall asleep early for the last few nights and a nap really would have served me well.
Carter asked me where we should go if we ever realized that a warning was serious and I mentioned her bathroom as the safest spot in the house. But that would not make the best place for me to nap, so I would have settled for under the bed in Russ’s office. The bed is the first antique I bought and as an old rope bed it is extra tall so I fit fine underneath it.
I have decided that I need an app that changes weather warnings to a voice that comes out of my phone saying, “quick, take cover and grab a nap while sheltering in place.” That is a command I will follow.
One of my volunteer jobs is chairing the Durham Academy Parents of Alumni group. I am not a parent of an Alum, but I started the group as my job on parents council in anticipation of one day not having a child at the school.
It has been a little slow in getting off the ground, not from lack of interest. Our Fall party had to be canceled because weather rained out all Alumni Weekend activities. We did have a successful party before the the winter In the Pocket Concert and it did not even snow.
Tonight was the kick-off of our POA one time book club. We recruited star English teacher Jeff Beirsach to lead the discussion of Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth. When I first advertised it we sold out all 25 places in record time.
This being a POA event meant that I was not surprised when schools were canceled and sports teams did not have practice because of the impending tornados coming through our area this afternoon. People started e-mailing that they were not going to be able to come to book club, but I was not going to cancel it.
Jeff showed up early to help set the room up the way he wanted it. I let him know that it was going to be smaller than we thought, still unsure of exactly how many people would show up. I laid out the drinks and Sara Pottenger brought her yummy artichoke squares, cheese and veggies. Thank goodness people came. At first one, then another, greeting each other like long lost friends. Then people came who had never met each other, but all were excited about the book and learning from Jeff, like their children had.
After getting a drink we all gathered in our circle and Jeff began to give us the background information on Edith Wharton and the book that made it much more interesting than just a group of women sitting round talking about a book. We had a lively discussion and people stayed a long time reluctant to have to go.
The POA book club was a big success! Jeff suggested a couple of other teachers in history and film and phycology that might be good leaders for another POA event. I’m going to be calling them because I finally feel like we have a model for something smart people like to do. Of course, I wish I could bet on the weather because chances are whenever we have an event we are also going to have bad weather.
When I was just seven years old my family moved to the Connecticut house I spent the rest of my growing up years in. It was a crazy sprawling set of two barns that had been moved together to make “a house” if that is what you could call it. When it was first repurposed from barns that were multi hundreds of years old, it was used as the “carriage house, servants quarters and party space ” for the main house next door.
Half the building was barn siding that you could practically see through where the boards joined together and the other half was clapboard, all without much insulation. It was freezing cold in the winter, despite the furnace that resembled Spike, the fire breathing dragon under the stairs in the Munster’s TV show and took up its own ten by ten room. The summers were no better since no Yankee thought there was a need for air conditioning back in the sixties and seventies.
My seven-year-old-self bedroom was the last room in the string of maid’s rooms. To get there from the main kitchen you had to go through the upstairs dining room, up a half set of stairs, through “the little living room” down a winding set of stairs, through an entry hall and open a secret door, slither down a very narrow hallway that also had a very low ceiling, turn right and go through the maid’s galley kitchen, go through one door in my sister Margaret’s room, navigate toys and books and such on the floor to get to her other door and then one more hallway past our shared bathroom to my room.
Of course, being such an old house you could take the secret passage way from my room, up the back barn “stairs,” which had no light and were fourteen inch risers and only about four inch treads so I had to climb them like a ladder to pull my seven year old self up into the “big living room.” From there I could go through the “little living room” down the half set up stairs to the upstairs dining room and into the upstairs kitchen.
Needless to say getting to the kitchen from my room was quite an ordeal. Yes, I had the “maid’s kitchen” right near my room, but we never used it as a kitchen, only a passage way when we first moved in and then it became my youngest sister’s room when she was born. It was the furthest thing from a nursery. It had one small window that looked out to a creek that ran under the upstairs kitchen and dining room that were built on stilts then in a tunnel that ripen under our driveway. We affectionately called that room “the inner sanctum.” My sister has every right to need therapy for that.
All this being said is to describe why I had a recurring dream when I was a kid. I loved to have a big glass of ice water on my bed side table, often waking up in the middle of the night to take a drink. It was a huge trip for me to get to the kitchen to get that ice water, especially when we still had to pry the cubes out of one of the two metal ice trays from the freezer. More nights than most I would fall asleep without getting my water and then I would dream of having an electric cold water fountain in my room. Not a white porcelain kind, like we had at school that just spit out tap water, but the kind that refrigerated the water.
I had the perfect spot for it in the hallway right outside my bathroom, like all water fountains were in public schools. When I would wake up parched from either sleeping in the freezing cold, or the sweltering heat and realize I had forgotten to get my water before bed I would look to the hallway and would envision the water fountain like a mirage. It was a long journey through our big drafty Connecticut barns if I were to try and make the trek to the kitchen. If I went the path through my sisters’ rooms I took the chance of waking them and that would be hell to pay, but if I went the back barn steps I had to climb down the steps/ladder while carrying a glass and that was no easy feat. No wonder I dreamt many times of that water fountain.
I have not changed much, but thank goodness my house has. I still like to have my big glass of ice water on my bedside table, but now I never make the mistake of going to bed without it, even though the journey is so much easier if I forget. The good news is that I no longer have the recurring dream of that cold water fountain. I guess I made my own dreams come true.
Yesterday my skinny cousin Sarah asked me who came up with ten thousand steps as a fit goal? It was a good question. So many step tacklers encourage people to do ten thousand steps a day, but what if that is not enough?
Sarah was looking for a realistic goal to set for herself so that she could eat normally and not gain weight. For the record, Sarah was born on my fifteenth birthday so I wanted to remind her that all these goals need to go up as you get older.
My advice to her was to wear her FitBit for a couple days without doing anything extra and just get an idea what her base line walking is in a normal day. Then double that number if she wants to make sure she won’t gain weight.
If in a normal week she only walks an average of four thousand steps a day then an eight thousand step goal will be good, but if she already walks seven thousand then she needs to up her goal to fourteen thousand.
It is amazing how few steps people who have sedentary jobs get in a day. You really have to embrace inefficiency to up your steps without having to get on a treadmill. Of course taking an intentional walk twice a day around the neighborhood will probably do the trick and give you the bonus of fresh air and some thinking time. I do not endorse walking outside while texting or reading things on your phone. Besides the obvious dangers you just walk too slowly when you text.
My basketball friend Al asked me one day before a game how many steps I had that day. Turns out I had something like triple the number he had. We had half an hour until the game started so I suggested we get up and walk around the track that circled the basketball court. We painlessly got 3,500 steps before our daughters took the court. It was easy and was better use of our time than sitting in the bleachers.
It is not just the number of steps, but the pace at which you get them that helps you. So swing your arms and walk a little faster. Your scale will tell you if doubling your natural average is enough. Don’t worry what other people set as their goal, you don’t know what they eat. Step goals do not have to be worn on your sleeve. Just step.
About a month before basketball season was set to end Carter said to me, “We need to have an end of year dinner to honor the seniors on the team.” I don’t need much of an excuse to have a party and I loved this idea.
Yes, the team needed to do something to say goodbye to three great seniors, Liz Roberts, Serena Walker and Kenan Little, but I want to have a party to say goodbye to their parents. The team on the court is a family, but the parent supporters who faithfully come out for every game are a family too. We cheer for each other’s children, we pray when someone gets hurt, we rejoice in small miracles, like when someone who usually can only do layup a from the right makes one from the left.
Our team has benefited from the Roberts family taking the girls away on a team bonding weekend every January which is way above and beyond what any team captain’s family usually does. As well as giving each girl a fabulous team backpack with their name and number on it.
The extended Roberts family that includes aunts and grandparents cheer Carter’s name loudly when she makes a basket. It causes opponents parents to wonder what was so great about the one basket, but we all know. Bennet Roberts greets Carter after every game with an enthusiastic, “Way to go Carter,” that in invaluable. Their unwavering support and optimism will certainly be missed in the bleachers next year.
Al Walker is a wealth of knowledge on the sidelines to me. When a foul is called I can usually turn to Al and ask what in the world that was for. Our group of parents is going to miss his smiling face.
It has been great to have Lori Little in our midst this year. Kenan had been hurt and unable to play until this year so it was nice to have her mom with us for her senior year.
I loved having coaches Krista and Robert get to have just a relaxed dinner with the girls and the parents and thank them for all their hard work with our girls, both on and off the court. The lessons the girls learn are ones they don’t even know they are getting, but as parents we know they will stay with them for all their lives.
One small dinner hardly seems like enough to say thank you to all these wonderful people. I’m already sad that these families will not be with us next year. It just won’t be the same.
Walking up and down the aisle in front of the seafood and meat counters at the market searching for an inspiration I was not happy. Thinking of new things to make for dinner is a life’s work. If we were people who could eat anything and not gain weight it would be a lot easier, but sadly that is not our reality.
Tired of chicken, fish and pork tenderloin I had that glazed look on my face as the butcher asked me what I wanted. Then, back in the corner I noticed a pile of turkey thighs. Turkey! So I bought three thighs at only $2.99 a pound I was happy on the price and creativity front.
Making just thighs took only about 45 minutes in the oven and we had the taste of thanksgiving without any of the time.
1 t. Butter per thigh
2 fresh sage leaves per thigh
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Loosen the skin on the thigh to make a pocket to spread the butter under the skin and place the sage leaves under the skin. Liberally salt and pepper the things.
Spray a jelly roll pan with Pam and place the thighs on the pan. Don’t use a pan with sides any higher than one inch because you want the heat to circulate and crisp the skin. I also quarter 2 fennel bulbs and put them on the pan to roost with the turkey at the same time.
Roast the turkey until a probe thermometer registers 165 degrees, which is about 45 minutes.
Enjoy without any annoying relatives.
I love movies, but it seems that in the last few years I let ones I think look good get by me and before I know it they are gone from the movie theater and then I just forget about them all together. Russ came home from his 24 hours of flights from Australia where he actually had time to watch movies and told me I had to watch The Intern. Carter and her friend Ellis had seen it when it came out and she told me the same thing. So after dinner Carter and I searched all the various TV outlets and found it for rent on Amazon. We turned off all the lights and snuggled into the big sofa with blankets and watched the movie in even better than the theater comfort.
Yes, it was a great movie. I love Anne Hathaway, and Robert Dinero was the bomb. The supporting cast was fantastic, but the style and art direction of the movie made it. There are a few movies where the look, the clothes the characters wear, the decoration of their homes, the lighting and colors all come together and make me happy. The Diane Keaton movie, As Good As It Gets, is another example of a movie where I just loved the style.
Besides the fact that Robert Dinero plays a practically perfect person in every way, the movie had one little thread that ran through it that I find universally true and hysterical at the same time. Anne Hathaway’s mother, who we never see, is a sleep researcher and in an attempt to get her daughter to take better care of herself she tells her that women who get less than seven hours sleep a night weigh 35% more.
This same bit of information is used by Robert Dinero on another character and she breaks down in a puddle of tears saying, “I’m 24 and I only get five hours sleep a now and now you tell me I am going to get fat.” For all woman kind if you want to have them change something tell them that what they are doing will make them fat. There is no greater fear.
If we want to solve a great world problem, like global warming, just get some scientists to do a study that says people who have a large carbon foot print weigh 50% more than people who have a small one. Or if we wanted to have world peace just get a study to say that people who are war mongers are more likely to gain weight far past their healthy BMI. If we wanted people to stop smoking tell them that it actually makes you gain weight, not the opposite which has been espoused.
It may only be a movie, but I wonder how many women left the seeing it and thought, “I really need to get more sleep.” Just mention that any little thing makes you fat and it is a goner. Just as a side note, I want Robert Dinero to be my intern too.
For the last two weeks Shay has stood at the top of the stairs that lead down to the garage and looked longingly for Russ. Every little sound and she would whine in complete sadness that her Daddy was not home. Try explaining to an Australian Labradoodle that her master has gone to her homeland.
Today her wish came true and she shook and shuttered as she stood on her hind legs cheering as Russ came in through the door. Even though he hasn’t slept in over 24 hours Russ went ahead and emptied his suitcase into the laundry hamper. As he was doing it Shay got in on the action and looked through his bag for a present for her.
This brought back memories of my childhood when my sisters and I would greet my father at the door after a business trip and ask him, “What did you bring me?” He almost always came up with some small gift, even if it was just a candy bar he had bought at the airport. It was a terrible habit to train your kids that you bring them a gift every time you go away.
Since Russ has always traveled a lot for work we purposely decided not to start the “been away guilt gift” with Carter. It doesn’t even dawn on her to ask if Russ brought her something from Australia. I am not sure how our dog got this way. Perhaps it is because Shay knows the real present she wants is a dirty sock or two, something she is sure is in that suit case.
For me the best present is having Russ home. I know he is exhausted and will be passing out in a moment or two. My present for him is that I am not going to mention that I can’t seem to be able to change the channel on the TV in the sunroom. That little bit of info can wait until his jet lag is over. At least I am happy for him not to bring me a candy bar.
About 33 years ago close to this very day I made myself this dress and the one my best college friend Suzanne is wearing. Today is Suzanne’s birthday and she is my only friend I ever made a dress for. We were saving money to go on Spring Break to go to Puerto Rico to see her sister Gussy. We needed dresses for a big party Gussy was throwing as well as for our sorority formal where this picture was taken. This was back in the day when girls wore the same dress more than once.
You know Suzanne is a good friend because although she could buy any old sack off the rack and it would look great on her she happily bought into the idea that we save money by having me make our dresses. I am not sure what I was thinking with that grey and white stripe, but Suzanne wisely chose a hot and baby pink silk that I fashioned into that little number. Remember this was not long after Lady Diana married Prince Charles and big puffy sleeves were the rage.
That friendship has flourished through the years and she is still such a good friend that she supports me in whatever hair brained scheme I come up with. Suzanne was the good girl and I was the bad influence. Thank goodness her parents liked me enough to overlook the shenanigans I got us into. It helped that my birthday was the same day, just nine years apart, from her sister Gussy, so I was just a younger version of her.
When we got out of college I moved to DC and Suzanne moved to NYC to make her mark. I remember her calling me from a pay phone that she referred to as her “mid-town office” as she was on her way to a job interview. She told me that she had just stopped and had a piece of pie and a cup of coffee, as her meal for the day because it was a special at the diner and back then money was tight. We never let the lack of money keep us from fun.
It is wonderful to have a friend that I have celebrated 37 birthdays with. We have been each other’s maid or matron of honor at our weddings, seen our children grow up, traveled together, and supported each other through hard times and good. I know that if there is ever anything big that is happening to me she will be there.
I know she knows the same about me.
But today, on her big day, I want to say one thing to Suzanne besides, “Happy Birthday,” I want to say, “You were a really good sport to wear that dress so cheerfully. I promise if I ever make you another one it will be better.”
Carter’s basketball team ended their regular season with a strong 19-8 record. It had been a successful year with Team senior Captains Liz Roberts and Serena Walker leading the girls. Liz is graduating as the all time highest scoring player in school history, and that’s for both men’s and women’s teams.
Today was the first post season state game for the lady Cavaliers hosted at the Forsyth Country Day School. It was a long drive to get past Winston-Salem for the game. The game started slowly for the DA girls, but unfortunately their opponents got off to a quick lead. We were behind for most of the game and our girls were not quite in sync in the first half, down by something like fifteen points as they headed into the locker room.
These girls have been down before, but they have never given up. Their opponents were superior shooters, hardly missing a shot. One thing our girls were better at was cleaner play with fewer fouls. This paid off.
In the fourth quarter after trailing the whole game, usually by fifty percent, the DA girls pulled out the stops and made more baskets, had superior defense and held back their competition who had gotten into foul trouble. The rag-tag group of DA parent supporters never gave up the cheering whether the girls were trailing by twenty or two. But as the team closed the lead and eventually pulled ahead by a bucket the hearts in the fans in the stands were beating out of our chests.
With less than a minute to play the FCDS team tied again, then pulled ahead by two. With seconds to play we were fouled and made one of the two free throws leaving us down by one. Remarkably with four seconds left Liz Roberts got the ball and was heading towards the basket when she fell losing the ball, it rolled and sophomore Erin Dilweg grappled on the floor with another player to get the ball and from a sitting position took one last impossible shot. It did not go in.
The girls lost 77-76 but could not have played any harder in that second half. It was heart breaking for our seniors, Liz, Serena and Kenan Little to end their DA careers so far from home in such a tragic way, but all the girls should hold their heads up high. They may not have started the game playing their best, but they ended as warriors. A lesser team would have never been able to battle back from such a huge deficit.
Tears told the story of their broken hearts, but they need to remember it was a winning season and they are a team of girls who support each other and always have each other’s back.
True to form we have a “snow day” while Russ is out of the country. Unfortunately our snow day was really an ice day so there was absolutely no going anywhere. The good part is that it gave Carter a recovery day after her terrible food poisoning yesterday.
As Carter was in her room working on school work in advance of her week of state basketball playoffs I was making the most of the imposed homeboundness by staying on my treadmill. Since Russ has been away I am completely caught up on most of my shows so when I looked at the listings on the DVR I had nothing to watch except Russ’ woodwright shows or Ask this Old House. I flipped on live TV to discover a Keeping Up With The Kardashians marathon.
I am not a Kardashian follower, but I have to admit that watching these over indulged, over exposed, over butt implanted women was completely captivating. I was able to get back to doing 20,000 steps thanks to the ice canceling all commitments and the bevy of girls all with the initials KK entertaining me.
After four loads of laundry, folded while walking and binge watching KUWTK, I felt like my day had been productive and it was still early afternoon. I had one show on the DVR that I had been saving for Carter so once she was done with her work we snuggled into the big sofa to watch three episodes of Mercy Street, the PBS show about a Union civil war hospital in Alexandria, Virginia. It felt less guilty since it is kind of educational, especially for Carter in AP Us History.
I have absolutely no guilt about watching TV all day since I was trapped inside and was relatively productive, but now I have to confess the I am still not done watching. Tonight is Monday and that means The Batchelor. It better be good weather tomorrow, I desperately need redemption.
It is Valentine’s Day today. We are on week two of Russ being in Australia and then I wake up this morning and realize that it was Valentine’s Day yesterday in OZ. I am such a bad Valentine. Russ left two cards for me with Carter so she could give them today. He left a card for Carter with me to do the same. You think I could have snuck a card in his luggage. On top of all that I got a cute Jib Jab from him with not such bad pictures of our heads atop beautiful people dancing around in love.
To add to my bad wife feeling Carter came up extra early on a Sunday morning to tell me she had been up a while with what she self diagnosed, with the help of the mayo clinic, as food poisoning. We had gone out to dinner last night before going to see the fabulous DA winter musical’s production of Fiddler on the Roof. Poor Carter, she was still not completely well from what she had last week so food poisoning on top is the pits. I know she is really sick because she has not eaten one thing all day, except the tea I gave her, and that couldn’t stay with her.
It is not the best Valentine’s Day at our house. Shay is afraid of the talking monkey card Russ left. My compression stockings are driving me crazy, I have a sick daughter and a husband half a world away who I did not celebrate with. Sounds like first world problems.
So now I am going to try and be thankful for all the good things. Especially that I have such a hard working and loving husband who does what he does so I can stay home and do what I want. That is real love. Carter will get better. Shay will get over her fear of the monkey Valentine. I will make up for my lax Valentine for Russ by making him a good home cooked meal when he gets home, which is all he ever wants for any occasion.
I woke up this morning at seven when Carter shut the back door on her way to work at the barn. With Russ in Australia and Carter out all morning I had a big free block of time. I turned on the TV and while I was drinking my tea in Bed I saw a commercial for Bullock’s Warehouse sale of lamps and furniture in Rocky Mount. I am not one who normally shops at places that advertise on TV, and I don’t know if I have any friends who have ever been to this sale, but I thought, what the heck, let’s go.
I Googled the address and found it was an hour and a half away. Since I had driven back and forth to Raleigh in rush hour for the last two days it seemed like nothing on the empty Saturday morning roads. I have not been to Rocky Mount probably since I was a kid and we stopped at a Holiday Inn there on our way from Connecticut to Pawleys Island. It did not matter that I did not think much of it then since I was not planning on visiting the chamber of commerce and making a trip of this visit. Just one quick stop at the warehouse and back home again.
I am not much of a shopper. I really never just look. But when I need something I am like a navy seal with a mission. I have needed new lamps for our family room and have not liked anything I have seen in person. Buying lamps online makes me nervous because you just can’t tell until you pick it up.
When I pulled into the overflow parking lot and saw license plates from Maryland, and Arkansas I thought perhaps this was a more famous sale than I had given it credit for. I was early enough that there was still a shopping cart available, which turned out to be fortuitous. In the first row of many thousands of lamps I liked one, so I out it in my cart, then another in the cart, then a third. Now I had trouble pushing the cart because I had no sight beyond the end of my nose as lampshades blocked my vision.
I really wanted a pair and found one lamp with its twin on two different tables. Now I had way more lamps than one cart could hold. I reexamined two already in the cart and decided they were wrong. I still could not hold all three of these big lamps in in cart so I finagled another. Pushing two carts at once with no way to see in front of me I inched along so as not to run over any of the other shoppers.
I found two more lampshades for a pair of bedside table lamps and decided this was all my car could hold. I went to the lamp assembly table where a nice lady tightened up the lose sockets on the pair of lamps I had chosen. I tipped her a few dollars since they had tip jars.
Off to the check out where I had the nicest ladies pack my lamps in boxes as they charged me less than 25% of the retail price of my merchandise. Not only was I thrilled with my lamps, but they felt practically free. The drive was totally worth it. I tipped the man who put the boxes in my car double what I normally would of because I was sure with what they were making on the lamps they could not be paying him much.
The drive was easy and I was back in time to eat a salad for lunch at home so the trip did not even through me off my diet. Double bonus. No more shopping neede
I had a crazy busy day. Spending most of it in Raleigh doing Food Bank work. I ran out at five to try and beat the rush hour traffic to get to school for Carter’s basketball team’s last regular season game. I made it with time to spare.
It was senior day, a sad time for me since I have come to love the parents of these great seniors. I am not sure what it will be like sitting in the stands without them next year, but of course I am happy that their wonderful daughters are going to be moving on to great colleges.
After a wild game with the DA girls winning, I finally had to leave to get home to take care of Shay. I had not thought about dinner and it was 8:30 by the time I walked in the door. Since Carter was staying for the boys game I opted to eat cereal for dinner. It wasn’t quite enough so when hunger was hitting me at ten I went back to the kitchen.
This could have been dangerous. I have been doing well staying away from sugar and white flour and I did not want to blow it now. I looked in the fridge and noticed that I have a handful of pineapple, red grapes and blueberries. I threw them all in the blender with a little crushed ice and I grated a little frozen ginger root in. Whiz, whiz, whiz and Poured the purple drink in a glass.
I was thrilled with the spicy and sweet smoothie. The perfect answer to my unsatisfied tummy. Now I feel like I had a full meal and a treat.
1/2 cup fresh pineapple
1/4 cup red grapes
1/4 cup blueberries
1/4 cup crushed ice
Few grates of fresh ginger root
Pulverize in the blender.
The other day I heard from an old friend who told me sad news of her divorce. As I was saying how sorry I was that she was having to go through that she responded that it was the best diet she had ever been on and that I should not feel badly for her, she finally got back to her junior high school weight. I told her as long as she did not get back to her junior high school hair style that was great. She said, “My stress was so bad I just couldn’t eat.”
On the opposite end I had a friend today, who had a very stressful fall and winter due to some business problems, tell me she could not stop eating all through the tumultuous period. I knew things had been hard, but I am happy that she is on the other side of it now.
I honestly believe there are two kinds of people. Those who eat their feelings and those who when the feelings are bad can’t eat. I can’t think of any situation that ever made me not be able to eat. Times are bad, I eat, time to celebrate let’s eat. Stress usually drove me right to sugar street.
I am sorry my friend got a divorce, but honestly while she was married she was always trying to lose twenty pounds. Her consolation is she lost the twenty, when the 200 pound husband also went. I am not advocating divorce as a diet, even if you are a stress non-eater. I just know that under the same circumstance I would gain fifty or maybe a hundred pounds. Lord, don’t let anything happen to Russ, I can’t afford a new fat wardrobe.
I wonder what makes people so different about food in stressful situations? Are there people who don’t change their eating habits at all when bad times hit? I guess there are people who drink more or do other destructive things when things get hard, but it seems to me that food, either eating too much or too little is common.
For now I am hoping for calm waters for all I know. Eating right in of itself is tough enough, we don’t need trouble to throw us off the path.
Well I have to say I am officially old. I’ve had to break down and get my veins fixed. I was able to ignore the tiny spider veins long enough thanks to self tanner, but then one day last year I noticed something more like a snake than a spider and I decided it was time to have them looked at. My friend Lindy is a vein doctor and owns Carolina Vein Clinic so I did not have to go through lots of research to figure out what to do, I just asked her.
Getting insurance to approve fixing my veins was a long process for my policy. I had to try compression socks for three months first to see if that “cured “ me. It did not. Then I had to find a period of time I was not flying any where for a long time because you are grounded right after each treatment for two weeks, and I need five treatments.
Then there is the compression apparel, not just socks, but thigh high stockings and shorts. When I am talking compression I mean like SPANX on steroids. I certainly did not want to get this treatment during the hot months when the last thing I want to do is wear an extra hot layer. That makes February about the only time to do this.
Last week was the first treatment and since it was on the back of my calf I only had to wear the knee high socks 24 hours a day for three days then only during the day after that. Sleeping in one tight sock is not easy, but other than that nothing hurt.
Today I had a more intense treatment in my thigh up to my groin. Nice. Lindy told me this would hurt more and that I needed to wear the thigh highs and the shorts together and if I had too much pain add the ace bandage I was given. Oh boy. Talk about sausage casings. I am hopeful I won’t have too much pain because the compression is tight enough that I have no feeling at all. At least one leg is nice a toasty warm.
I really wonder what sleeping is going to be like in all these things. This is when I really wish I still drank alcohol because I think that being totally blotto drunk is the only way I will not notice all this compression. Thank goodness Russ is in Australia for a lot of this. Having varicose veins is one thing, but wearing a nude colored compression stocking is the epitome of an OLD woman.
If you are a man, you might want to just stop reading now. If you are a woman who wears an A or B cup bra, you too, may want to just stop reading now, that is unless you are an engineer looking to make a lot of money.
Here is my complaint. While wearing an underwire bra, and not that old a bra to boot, the underwire, suddenly pokes through the fabric encasing it and holding it the “under” the boob position thus riding up and poking you in the under arm. This wire coming out of its rightful position means the end of this bra’s life.
There is virtually no way to make an underwire, that has created an escape route out of the channel of fabric holding it in place, to ever be kept in place again. There is no way to sew the hole it has created up in a strong enough way to make the bra reliable. And by reliable I mean not having the wire wiggle its way out and poke you at the worst possible moment, like while receiving communion, or shooting a free throw.
I noticed the tale tale sign of a delinquent wire in a bra on a person I know who was playing basketball. You can try and shove the wire back down, but any breasts that require a wire in the first place are going to be able to push an untethered wire out with no trouble.
Here is the engineering opportunity that the Sharks on Shark tank would be happy to fund; a sturdy underwire bra, that no matter how much running or bouncing the D cups or greater were doing the underwire would stay in place. It really shouldn’t be that hard to super reenforce the end point areas, but do bra manufacturers think to do this now? No! I think there are two dead underwire bras sitting in my laundry room right now. If it weren’t for the errant wire the bras would still be good.
Now if you are a man or an A or B cup woman, and you are still reading, let me tell you that just removing both wires from the bra is not an option. That contraption was designed to only work with the scaffolding support of the wire. Take the metal out and you might as well be wearing a bib.
Now I’ve heard of planed obsolescence, you know where a manufacturer only makes a product last a limited amount of time so you are forced to replace it with a new one, thus ensuring the manufacturer future business, but underwire bras should last more that four months of partial use.
Really it is a safety issue that OSHA should cover. A get away underwire, in the right situations under the right pressure, could easy fly out and blind someone. Perhaps Ralph Nader should get on this issue, you know we have safety belts thanks to him. If only he knew the potential dangers in the poor quality of underwire bras, never mind the potential emergency room visits by women with a wire sticking out of their under arm. Maybe Obama care would take this issue up. We could cut down on health care costs if the underwire would just stay in place.
Ok, this is thinner and less oily than a vinaigrette, but it is not as thick as a dressing. I’m not sure there is a thickness requirement for a dressing, but this is a hybrid that is good on salads or cooked meat. If it did not have oil in it at all I would just drink it.
I make this in a blender, but a food processor would work. You kind of need a machine to chop the cilantro up enough.
Put the following in a blender:
4 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
1 shallot peeled and roughly chopped
1 big bunch of cilantro washed -stems and all
4 packets of Splenda or 1 T. of honey
1/4 cup of rice wine vinegar
1/3 cup of fresh lime juice
1 T. Water.
Big pinch each of salt and black pepper
Blend for ten seconds or until the cilantro is all pulverized.
Drizzle in the top hole of the blender with it running 1/4 cup of olive oil. You are not using enough oil to make the dressing get thick so don’t keep running the machine expecting it to thicken up.
Keeps in the fridge about two weeks, but you probably will eat it before it gets close to turning bad.
A few weeks ago Taylor, the youth pastor at our church asked if I would be the auctioneer for a cake auction fundraiser the church was having to raise money for youth mission trips. Anybody who knows me, knows that being a charity auctioneer is my favorite job, so I quickly said yes. What most people don’t know is that as Finance Chair at church I had been strongly encouraging Taylor to raise more money, something she did not love to do.
Taylor and I had to lunch to prep for the auction. The youth council had planned a soup and grilled cheese sandwich lunch for the bargain price of $5 per person to get people to come to the auction. They had recruited the finest of church bakers to make some fabulous cakes, pies, cookies, cupcakes and even banana pudding. The youth had set up the lunch, manned the bake sale table where small items were sold, and acted as spotters for me at the auction.
Taylor had set a goal of $3,000 to raise for summer mission trips. I secretly was worried about reaching that goal with 14 sweet items, but I did not tell Taylor that. The auction had a football theme given that it is Super Bowl Sunday. Taylor make a football field on the front wall of the fellowship hall. High school senior, Jack High was my Vanna White to model the cakes as they were auctioned and to fill in the football field in as we reached each $300 down on the field to get to $3,000.
I was a little bit on my back foot before the auction started since I have a bad cold and the sound system broke thanks to many crock pots of soup blowing out fuses in the old fellowship hall electrical panel. Thank goodness for my naturally loud voice and a very attentive full room of people.
Before the first sweet item was even offered for auction Taylor told me we had $1,200 in donations. A nice any to start any charity event. I was still unsure of how this church crowd would bid. “This is not a sale at Walmart,” I told them. “This is a charity for our youth group, so plan on paying big bucks for these sweet treats.”
And pay they did. Once people got over the shock that a cake should bring in a few hundred dollars each, people really got into the spirit of things. Children bid — of course with permission from their parents, older people bid — even though they had no need for a giant carrot cake, friends bid against each other, all in good fun.
We reached $3,000 with many cakes still to go, so I told the room let’s go for $5,000. At the end, when all the money was counted the youth group had raised $5,500. It was exhilarating for them to see their hard work pay off. My favorite part was that Taylor had so much fun raising the money. Thanks to all the bakers, the table setter uppers, the grilled cheese makers, the soup cookers, the bidders and the winners who over paid for a yummy dessert that will help kids do mission work where they learn more about themselves when they help other people. I would say it certainly is Super Sunday.
One of the best things about being married to a man with a masters in electrical engineering is that all my tech needs are met by him. The worst thing about being married to an electrical engineer is that I rarely pay attention to learning how to take care of my own tech needs.
The worst thing about being married to an electrical engineer with an MBA is that he travels a lot and I am without my in house tech.
True to form one day after Russ left for two weeks in Australia our new Smart TV is having trouble connecting to our wireless internet. Now I can certainly live without a TV connected to the Internet, but it does make me crazy that I can’t seem to fix this myself. I have unplugged everything I think sends out a signal and replugged it but that has not worked. Since I also woke up this morning with a head cold I am in no mood to work on this any further.
Nothing like a tech problem to make me miss and appreciate my wonderful husband. Since he is off working so hard I am determined to take care of this before he gets home. That means I have two weeks to learn everything I can and do it myself. But as long as I have this cold I can’t learn anything.
I welcome suggestions, just not today.
America’s favorite national holiday is Sunday; the Super Bowl. Even if you don’t like football you may get sucked into the celebrations because it is the biggest eating day of the year in terms of calories. Yes, Thanksgiving is the holiday actually devoted to eating, but turkey is much healthier than Buffalo hot wings and Thanksgiving is only one meal and the Super Bowl is many hours of mindless grazing.
I heard a disturbing statistic that people that attend Super Bowl parties are five times more likely to have a cold or the flu in the two weeks following the game. Apparently double dipping is to blame.
I actually like watching the Super Bowl as well as the commercials, but want to stay away from too many calories. How to share in the flavors of the day, but hold back from the naughtiness?
I decided that tortilla chicken soup might be a good substitution. It is Mexican so that satisfies the nachos, guacamole, taco side. It has chicken so that covers wings. I can sprinkle a little cheese on it so that substitutes for melted cheese dip or anything else cheesy. Lastly it has vegetables so that represents the ever present but often neglected veggie tray. To top it off it is really flavorful.
1 large onion chopped
1 red pepper chopped
8 carrots peeled and chopped
5 stalks of celery chopped
6 cloves of garlic minced
1 t. Chili powder
2 t. Cumin
1 t. Smoked paprika
1 t. coriander
1/2 t. Cayenne pepper
1 t. Salt
1 t. Ground black pepper
2 quart chicken stock
2 15 oz. cans of chopped tomatoes
6 corn tortillas chopped
1 can of corn
2 cooked chicken breasts- shredded
Cubes of avocado
Grated cheddar cheese
In a large fry pan sprayed with Pam put the onions, peppers, carrots and celery and cook for four minutes on high heat.
Take half the veggies out of the pan and put them in a big stock pot on medium heat. Add the garlic and spices and cook for one minute.
Add the chicken broth, canned tomatoes and bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer. Add the tortillas and cook for one hour. Using an immersion blender blend up the contents of the pot.
Add the remaining cooked veggies, can of corn and shredded chicken. Cook until hot, about five minutes.
Serve bowls of garnishes on the side and let everyone make their own.
Tastes almost celebratory.
It seems almost cruel for me to blog about this subject because this is first a diet comedy blog, but this is not a joke, nor is it dietetic, so please indulge me.
This Sunday I get to do my favorite thing, act as auctioneer for a good cause. The youth group at Westminster Presbyterian is holding a soup and grilled cheese lunch with a bake sale and sweet treat auction. It is just in time for any big Super Bowl party you may be invited to.
You know that there is nothing better than a yummy, baked by a southern church going woman. This auction has some wildly decedent items that you would love to get a taste of or, not that you would do this, claim as “homemade” when you went to a party. It would not be a fib, you just might not mention it was not made at your home.
The money is being raised to help young people go on a mission trip and the best part is that mission is to help people right here in Durham.
If you are local to Durham and would like to get in on the action you can certainly show up at Westminster this Sunday around noon. The lunch is only $5 per person. If you might be at your own place of worship, but still want to bid on a cake I would be happy to have someone be your proxy bidder. Just look at the list and let me know your maximum bid. I promise we won’t start at your top dollar amount, so you might get it cheaper. Just remember this is not about getting a deal, but doing good for a good cause. If you win, I will be happy to deliver it to you right after the auction or hold it if you are not home.
Sorry about any mouth watering that is going to happen while you are reading this list.
Heart-Shaped Red Velvet Cake (1)
complete with butter cream icing, decorated with a Valentine theme!
Carmelitas (4 dozen)
chocolate, creamy caramel, oatmeal goodness
Triple Layer Carrot Cake (1)
cream cheese frosting on this delicious layered cake
Chocolate Eclairs (2 sets of 4)
filled with traditional crème patisserie and topped with chocolate ganache
three different cakes made to order by
Helen Harrison: Jewish Apple Cake, Chocolate Poke Cake with Peppermint Icing, and Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Gluten-Free Monster Cookies (2 dozen)
two dozen chocolate chips, m&m’s and peanut butter
Salted Chocolate Chip + Triple Chocolate Cookies (4 dozen total)
two dozen chocolate + salt = yummmmy!
two dozen chocolate + chocolate + chocolate = yum³
New York Style Cheesecake (1)
for all Lindy’s cheesecake fans!
Super Bowl Cupcakes (dozen)
a dozen vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream icing decorated in Panthers and Bronco colors
Chocolate Football Cupcakes (dozen)
a dozen with chocolate buttercream icing decorated to look like footballs
Not Yo’ Mama’s Banana Pudding (tray)
a modern rendition of the classic, southern treat featuring layers of sliced banana, chessmen cookies and vanilla cream cheese pudding
Southern-Style Poundcakes (3 – 2 vanilla, 1 chocolate)
traditional deliciousness in a variety of flavors
Kentucky Derby Pie (1)
a smooth chess-like filling laced with
chocolate chips and toasted pecans
I have work, if you can call writing a column every month for Durham Magazine work. I started at the magazine on it’s second issue which makes me the second longest employee after famed photographer, Briana Brough. I am not someone that goes to work. In fact I have not even been to our most recent offices and I think they moved a year ago. I prefer to meet my editor or publisher out and about in Durham, we are Durham Magazine after all. I also “work” on things for the Food Bank, but that is a labor of love.
Today I had the pleasure of combining my two kinds of work in one. The whole Durham Magazine staff went to volunteer at the Durham branch of the Food Bank of Central and Eastern NC. We gathered in the “Dana Lange volunteer center” which was named in my honor after I finished chairing the board of the Food Bank. It is the thing I am most proud of, after my daughter and my friends get to make fun of my photo on the wall while they sort food.
My magazine compatriots and I had the pleasure of sorting salvaged food; that is food donated by grocery stores because they can’t sell it for one reason or another. As we inspected boxes and cans to ensure they were still safe for people to eat their contents, the subject of expired food came up — You know the dates on food that say, “sell by” or “best by”. A couple of people asked if we should throw away food that had passed it’s date. Absolutely not.
“Sell by” or “best by” dates are suggestions that the product will stay absolutely the same way during that period. After than date there is a small chance it might change color, texture, taste or some thing else and ever so slight. Most packaged foods can last long and I mean a long time after their date. If you have some “expired” packaged food the best way to tell if it is good is to smell it. Mustard that smells like mustard is fine. If something has changed color dramatically don’t eat it. But something like dried pasta that has no smell and is pasta color can last a very long time.
Fresh food is different, but the same smell and color tests are true. You can put an apple in the fridge and keep if for a few weeks, then after a while it starts to break down and change texture, that’s when you throw it away. Eggs are one thing that will last a really long time past the expiration date as long as they have been kept cold and don’t have any cracks.
If you have a person in your house who likes to throw pantry items away just because they have reached their expiration date please consider giving them to a food bank rather than filling up the landfill. Many hungry people know the truth about those dates and are happy to have it rather than not eating.
I want to thank my friends at Durham Magazine for spending their morning sorting food. Volunteers are the life blood of the Food Bank. As a whole sorting food is fun–It is good exercise, with great music for a wonderful cause. Many hungry people are grateful and that is the kind of work that makes my heart happy.
This past weekend when I was in Washington I stayed with great old friends John and David. David had been not just my great friend, but was my right hand in my catering business, à la Carter. We reminisced all about the weddings and parties we catered back in the day. We laughed about some of the situations we got ourselves in because I basically sold jobs I had no idea how we would do and then just figured it out as we went along. So many nights after we both had worked our day jobs he would come over to my house where we would cook from seven at night until two in the morning to prep for a party the next night.
Those years of catering-on-the-side were probably the best life training I ever could have had. Not just the cooking expertise, which is something I use everyday, but the organization, creativity, marketing, sales, management, people development, finance, customer service, but mostly hutzpah. Even though I took many jobs I had no experience in I was young enough to think I could just figure it out. I never said no to a customer, but I also learned how to price things that if I said, “Yes” I would come out ahead and the customer would still be thrilled. Delighting people was the most fun part of the job.
Although I no longer cater I use all those skills all the time. Today I was able to put actual catering to use for my dear friend Amy, a real chef and caterer, who lost her beloved mother Elizabeth suddenly. At four in the morning on Sunday I got a text from Amy telling me of her loss. Since she was going to have the visitation at her mother’s house tonight I volunteered to organize the food for her.
At this time in life you just can’t cater your own mother’s funeral. Another good friend, Jennings who owns a restaurant, volunteered a bunch of food and I e-mailed a handful of Amy’s friends who all quickly jumped in to make something. I got up this morning and made two hundred finger sandwiches. Thanks to my early career training it only took me about two and a half hours to make and package them.
This afternoon I went over to Amy’s mother’s house and was happy to get to hug her in person and then set up for the visitation. People started showing up early and the line at the door never stopped. Elizabeth had many friends and so does Amy. People came to have a drink and see each other and tell Elizabeth stories and love on Amy. I was happy to keep pumping out the food and washing glasses and making sure people had drinks. That old catering desire to make sure everyone is well taken care of never goes away. As Russ says, I used to use my skills mostly for weddings, but now at my age it is almost exclusively for funerals.
I had to leave before the visitation was over to go to watch Carter’s basketball game, but I trained my replacement before I left and I knew the party was in good hands. I think of all the things Amy has done for me over the years and I am happy to be there doing what comes naturally to me for her. I just hope I can train some other people to do funerals so when I need the help I don’t have to cater my own visitation.