Eating cake — and everything else

1371597326789So So here is the situation. It’s 9:15 a.m. on Tuesday. At 7 p.m. this Friday, I will be at a fancy-dancy event at which I will be wearing a gown. A gown that will look considerably better if I am considerably less weighty than I am now.

I realized this, of course, at approximately 7:42 a.m. two weeks ago. And, at that hour, I got to work being pretty well behaved in the eating and fitness departments. I hopped on the elliptical nearly every afternoon. I ate weird snacks like yogurt-covered raisins and pumpkin seeds and mini-oranges. And I lost a little bit of weight. Not enough, mind you, but enough to be on track to reach my goal weight in time for the fancy-dancy event this Friday.

I knew, of course, that Thanksgiving was coming. And I knew that Thanksgiving involves both food and eating. However, I told myself that being goal-weight ready in time for this event was akin to being well prepared for an exam. You don’t want to procrastinate until the last minute and realize you have so much studying to do, you can’t possibly ace the test. That’s a terrible feeling. And so would this be if I didn’t stick to my guns and continue to eat beef jerky instead of Triscuits and cheese melted for 11 seconds in the microwave so it gets all gooey and perfect.

So I was armed going into Thanksgiving last Thursday. I was strong and pumped.

Then my sister-in-law Teresa arrived at our house with a chocolate cheesecake.

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Friends, lend me your ears

4090de3a2b4312dbeeb853df11315f2f82bb73979a40dd2cf0b528238ebfd4bf4c01c18395ed0527f356000c39308a97fcc1ecedf7f1111fe1b4413439291187If you are traveling this Thanksgiving, boy, do I have the perfect early Christmas gift for you. Even if you aren’t traveling, but are just going across town, this is still a gift, though one that will take longer to enjoy — unless you need an excuse to keep sitting in your car instead of facing your in-laws (wait, this might be a bigger gift than I realized …).

Anyway, trust me when I tell you, this is a great thing that all (adults) can enjoy.


Two words.

Dirty. John.

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Getting Chopped

IMG_6272Goal: To host a Chopped-style cooking competition/dinner party in which two teams (girls vs. boys) make dishes/drinks incorporating the above ingredients, which had been kept secret. We split into rotating teams of two and have three judges for each course. We allow 30 minutes each for cocktail and appetizer, 40 for main and 20 for dessert. We use anything in the kitchen, pantry and fridge we can find to help improve our dishes.


Cocktail: St-Germain liqueur, lavender flowers

Appetizer: canned salmon, pimento peppers, Wasa crackers

Main: leeks, yogurt, pork chops, ramen

Dessert: filo pastry, goat cheese, bubblegum-flavored cotton candy

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Getting T.J. Maxxed

IMG_6280The goal of the half hour was to find two good doggy toys at T.J. Maxx. Our friends, Sean and Hannah, were coming for the weekend with their two Boston Terriers and I wanted them to feel comfortable and happy in our home.

Except all at once and all of a sudden, there was a fall décor display at the entrance of the store. I was about to walk by it, I planned to walk by it, and then a shiny, silver pumpkin caught my eye.

In the world of fall home décor, this specimen was well bred: eye-catching, reasonably sized and it contained fall-smelling potpourri, which made it not only pretty but functional (in fact, necessary?).

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Technetium and the radiologist


It took nearly 13 years of living together, but last weekend I finally asked my husband what he does for a living.

We were in Louisville for the evening and eating some pretty exquisite black bean cakes at The Mayan Café. We’d had a lovely afternoon, which had consisted of a nice lunch, a haircut for William and him indulging me by watching hours of HGTV in the hotel room. And then, all of a sudden, we were talking about ultrasounds. And how they are produced by using high-frequency sound waves to visualize soft tissue structures in the body in real time.

(By the way, the bulk of that last sentence? Yep, just stole it from Wikipedia. Sorry, not sorry.)

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Visiting Pure Michigan

IMG_6071Last Saturday, I stood in the store Ragstock in the middle of Ann Arbor, Mich. Surrounding me were vintage dresses, Wonder Woman costumes, an acid wash jean collection, T-shirts featuring everything from unicorns to dancing kittens, boy scout uniforms and, far in the back, a rack filled entirely with bowling shirts.

It was the kind of quirky that only certain stores in certain places can pull off. My step-daughter Gabrielle, of course, was in heaven, and searched vigorously for the perfect 1990s plaid button-up. Then she found some pins she had to have featuring quotes from The Princess Bride. She was beaming in the way only teenage girls shopping for clothes can.

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Borscht on the stove

IMG_6160“The beet is the most intense of vegetables. The radish, admittedly, is more feverish, but the fire of the radish is a cold fire, the fire of discontent not of passion. Tomatoes are lusty enough, yet there runs through tomatoes an undercurrent of frivolity. Beets are deadly serious.”

So wrote the brilliant Tom Robbins in his book Jitterbug Perfume. It is one of my favorite pieces of writing on the planet and I think of it every time I make my favorite soup on the planet: beet borscht.

Wait, wait! I can hear what you’re saying: “Yeah, I’m not reading a column about beets, thanks anyways.”

But don’t leave me.

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The lady of The Sentinel

Sue-Minton-1507456940Right now, I am checking my phone every few minutes to see if my friend Meredith has given birth to her daughter, Abigail. She texted a bunch of us at 3 in the morning, saying her contractions were 3 minutes apart, so I’m betting it will be any moment now.

At the same time, I am trying to gather my thoughts so I can write about my dear former co-worker Sue Minton, who died suddenly last week. Her passing has left a gaping hole in the hearts of all who knew her, and my hope is to figure out a way to somehow help lessen that vacancy by filling it with honor.

The fact that birth and death are sitting side by side me this morning is something Sue would appreciate. Because, for 41 years of her life, that is exactly how she started her day.

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The road trip to end all road trips

imageNext week, the Griswolds, otherwise known as the Baker/Kaprowys, will embark on a week-long tour of New England. It’s an ambitious adventure, involving visits to six colleges in five days. Our mornings will be filled with intense tours and information sessions. Our afternoons will be racing to the car to get to the next town or city. Our nights will, very likely, involve clutching a wine glass as if a life preserver.

It’s likely, very likely in fact, that when we return, we won’t be the same.

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Hair so healthy it shines

75328e91d64215dc2671291698c02964--kelly-lebrock-big-hairDear Pantene Pro-V shampoo and conditioner,

I love you. Love you in a way that you love an old friend. A love that is thick and dependable. One that doesn’t need a lot of maintenance. And doesn’t cause frizz.

I fell in love with you right around the time that my dad started buying no-name brand egg shampoo from Superstore. Being 14 with thin, flyaway hair, I was exceptionally bitter about this development. That shampoo, as you can imagine, smelled terrible, had a clotty texture and came in an endless one-gallon bottle. Not even with a pump, mind you, just a jug you had to wrestle to overturn in order to get a quarter-size amount in your palm. Admittedly, this made it easier to let it pour down the drain in small increments with each shower, which I gamely, angrily did.

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