Email me if you have something to say. I like you.


Monday, October 24, 2011


Dear Anonymous (The final Anonymous from this post, that is),

I'm inspired. Please, stay tuned. While I wouldn't dare give you advice -- seeing as how my husband and I got together in a random, immature way I can't recommend to anyone -- you've totally started a ball rolling. Can you wait a while for an answer? Hope so.

Meanwhile, ponder the awesomeness of this...

Namasté, y'all.


The real me.

Friday, July 10, 2009

What should I have for dinner?

I have received a lot of questions recently about food. I love food and I eat a lot of it, so this strikes me as very appropriate. Here we go...

1. How do you make your steel cut oatmeal? It sounds delish, but I just needed some ideas to get started. Thanks! I love your blogs :)

Instead of water, I use milk (two parts milk to one part steel cut oats). I prefer rice milk, but your milk of choice will work. A crock-pot is also an option, but the oatmeal takes less than fifteen minutes to cook, so do you really need to do it the night before? Crock-pot oatmeal can be a tad gummy, too. Put the oatmeal on the stove while you make your morning tea, bring it to a boil, lower the heat and let it simmer while you take a shower. When you get out, add dried fruit, nuts and/or my recent favorite, unsweetened coconut flakes. Because I use vanilla hazelnut rice milk, I don't need anything sweet, but you can sweeten your oatmeal with maple or agave syrup. Or sugar, but that isn't as pretentious. I also love a similar meal made from quinoa.

The most important thing - in life - is that you find a breakfast that is just right for you. I need carbs and protein that will stick around until lunch. Both quinoa and steel cut oatmeal work for me, but your mileage may vary. Ooh! Almost forgot - I made the oatmeal the other day and added fresh peaches, pecans and coconut. So damn good it almost wasn't breakfast.

2. Have you read Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle? How do you balance trying to feed your kids the healthiest food, without making your life 3X more difficult? Am wondering for my own family. Do you shop at the farmer's market regularly?

I haven't read it, but kept meaning to. Your comment inspired me to finally buy it. Thank you! Your questions about feeding a family are interesting and I would love to address that in a whole 'nother post. In brief, I do shop at the Farmers' Market regularly. It makes eating local, organic food a lot cheaper. We eat very little meat and what we do eat, I buy there. I have also noticed that the more involved my children feel with food, the more likely they are to eat it. I apologize in advance for yelling, but...THIS DOES NOT MEAN YOU SHOULD LET YOUR CHILDREN PLACE ORDERS OR EAT NOTHING BUT CHICKEN FINGERS. And I say this as a mother who keeps organic chicken nuggets hidden in the freezer so we can sneak them out to the pool to feed the baby. We can't deny him chicken nuggets at the pool, the nuggets at the pool are vile, vile, vile, and we don't want him to know they are an option at home.

Anyhow, seeing the farmers makes my children more likely to eat the food. Maybe they feel guilty and want to support them. Maybe I gave them a speech and followed it by asking them if they wanted the farmers' children to starve. Maybe that was manipulative. Whatever. It worked. I also preach a simple, nutritional philosophy: Stick with foods you recognize and make vegetables the biggest thing on your plate. Children don't really listen, so you need to repeat simple messages over and over. Just like you do to your husband. And go ahead and let them eat whatever the heck they want away from home, because if you feed them well at home, they're getting plenty of good food and it doesn't matter what they eat at a birthday party.

3. I wish you would post some of the recipes that you talk about on your other blog. I'm much more interested in the Vietnamese salad rolls and the lemon poppy seed cookies than in greeting card etiquette.

Done! The Vietnamese salad rolls, which are totally freaking delicious, came from a book. So did the lemon poppy seed cookies. They are from Mai Pham's The Best of Vietnamese & Thai Cooking and Mrs. Fields Cookie Book, respectively of course. The cookies are good, if a bit dry, so I recommend serving them with tea or coffee for dipping.

4. Is this on your "to-de(tox)" list for the next one?

Nope. Looks too complicated for this ADDled mother, but it does look good and I'm tempted...

5. What should I have for dinner?

Ooh! Ooh! I know! Go get a pound of crab meat from somewhere good. Make these crab cakes, but make them bite-sized and fry them in an inch or so of oil instead of baking them. Serve with spicy mayo, cucumber slices and roasted asparagus.

If that sounds like too much trouble, go get a pound or three of shrimp, peel-on, heads-off. The peel adds flavor. So do the heads, but they kind of gross me out. Boil them in a pot of salted water with a handful of cloves. No lie. I saw my French mother-in-law do add cloves and it's delicious. Sit on your porch and eat the shrimp, dipping it in chipotle mayonnaise from Rosewood Market if you are lucky enough to live in Columbia, and wait for people to join you. Yell at anyone walking by who looks interesting. Have some chips nearby in case they are allergic to shrimp. Where do you live? I might come over.

Now, I digress. Some of you may remember the running Mr. Potatohead Ear joke between me and TF. I think he just won. I cannot top this. I received this envelope in the mail today. Like many former nerds, I still harbor a small hope that I will turn out cool. I thought, just for a moment, that I was being invited into a secret society.

The Mr. Potato Head Ear est arrivée.

I opened the envelope with trembling fingers. It was lumpy. "Yay!" I thought, "A key to a secret clubhouse! A clubhouse where children and husbands may not go! A clubhouse with free liquor! And foot massages!" What I got was this.

The Mr. Potato Head Ear est arrivée.

Which was pretty funny, but I still want to be in a secret club. And now I'm taking suggestions as to how to deal with the ear. The X-Man said,

"Well, Dad must love you."

"Why is that?"

"Well," he said in that 'duh' tone of voice children use with clueless parents, "An ear? Van Gogh?"

So, I guess he does love me, but what do I do with the ear now?

Namasté, y'all!

Monday, June 29, 2009

People are nuts.

First Piece of advice: If you want customers not to be cranky while they wait, have free internet, like they do here at Nuttall's. They rock. A bottled water would be nice, too, but I'm over it.

I received this letter recently:

What is your take on the etiquette of shopping for a greeting card? Here is my scenario, while shopping for a Father’s Day card I was patiently waiting for the person hogging the “from daughter section” to move. When she finally had enough and I took a step over, this woman swooped in and just started grabbing cards out as fast as she could. Like I was going to get the last good card and then began instructing her husband very loudly about the kind of card he needed to look for. I was so put out that I just elbowed my way in and stood my ground. Thinking the whole time…. How rude!!! What are your thoughts on personal space and greeting card shopping?

Dear Devoted Daughter,

What the hell is wrong with people? Maybe I'm feeling all Zen-like because I'm coming off of another detox week, but I advocate walking away from people like that as if they don't exist. Because they can't possibly be real. Also, they aren't happy and I have no desire to egg someone on in their misery. When my children get frustrated with mean people (like, each other or me or TF) I remind them that no one mean is happy with themselves. Have you ever done anything mean? I have. And I did it during the times I hated myself the most. Or when I was really hungry. And I actually used to let myself go hungry when I hated myself. Vicious cycle, that.

I used to waste quite a bit of time being mad, so I feel for that woman (but not enough to want to hang out with her or anything.) Did she really think you might score the perfect card? The one that expressed her sentiments exactly? You probably don't even share the same greeting card style. Geez. And you have to wonder how much was riding on her choice. Was she about to be cut out of a will or something? My parents are saving us from that by spending our inheritances on us now. That have paid for more school than Jon and Kate ever will. But I digress.

I used to do stupid stuff like insist on driving the speed limit in front of tailgaters, though I drew the line at tailgating myself. One day, as my heart rate was rising, I kept glancing in the rear view mirror at the red-faced freak who was trying really, really hard to mow me over to get to the dry cleaner's or church or something. I felt panicked and mad and self-righteous all at once. it was my duty to make him slow down. Surely, he would see the light if I drove exactly in line with the car next to me, preventing him from passing. If he didn't see the light, maybe I could give him a heart attack. That would teach him a lesson.

But it was killing me, so I put on my blinker. He relaxed, just a little, knowing I was trying to get out of his way. Then I did and he passed. I didn't turn my head to glare or see how he felt about me. I just moved over. This technique spares me a lot of time and energy and I would love to tell the Greeting Card Hooker about it. Maybe I could at least offer words of comfort to her husband, who probably endures this sort of thing all the time. Here's some advice: Was he cute? Are you single? Slip him your card, because he might be looking for a new partner soon. Granted, this isn't the most ethical technique in the world, but you never know. Actually, scratch that. He sounds like kind of a wussy and who wants a piece of that? You might have suggested some sort of pharmaceutical help for either the mad woman or her husband, but that wouldn't have gone anywhere good. Trust me. Personally, I have found that my daily dose of Wellbutrin helps me let go of anger much more quickly.

Aggression - whether it's your own or someone else's - is a time waster. That time could be spent doing things like pondering why your bizarre children are the way they are. Why, when asked to perform in a talent show at the beach, they chose to bring everyone into the bathroom with a four-headed shower stall. You could also ponder why anyone installs four shower heads. I mean, I can think of one person with whom I would shower, maybe two, because you never know when a toddler will want to take a shower. But three other people? At once? That's sick. I really thought about it a long time, too, contemplating different shower scenarios, and I couldn't come up with a single thing. Anyhow, all fifteen or so adults* crowded into the bathroom, eyes on my children. Keep in mind I was the only person there with a child older than five, so the pressure was on. I wanted to prove I could raise normal children. The act - or shall we say "happening" - began. Fully clothed (Praise Jesus) the boys turned on all the shower heads. Fully clothed (Still. Thank the good Lord) one of them placed a hollowed-out watermelon rind on the other's head. Still fully clothed (Can I get an "Amen?") the other child began to grate the rind on the first child's head with a cheese grater. Then they switched places.

Not surprisingly, it was the most talked-about act of the show. I asked them if there had been any dialogue - you couldn't hear for all the laughing - and they said, "Yes, but it was improvisation." Really? Really. I asked if they could repeat it and prepared to thank great God in Heaven one more time that no one could hear a word they said. They couldn't remember a word, so I was spared that. So, anyhow, I have plenty of time to wonder about stuff like that and the mysteries of children are endless.

Namasté, y'all!

* A bunch of us rented a place at Isle of Palms for the week. One of my friends organized a talent show for the next to the last evening. She even brought medals to award the players. I love my friends.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

First bit of advice.

Stop breathing weird in the next room. I can hear it and it's irritating.

Now for the first reader question, from kbfenner, who I love, because she reads both of my blogs. Which means she is also very smart. She writes:

Wow--I was starting to think this was the Monthly Digress. Too much ShopTarting....tsk tsk.

My question is what the heck do y'all wear under those flimsy silk spaghetti strap tanks you love to show photos of? The magazines all show models with flat chests and visible ribs, so that's no help....just curious, b/c I look like a linebacker in spaghetti straps...

Dearest kb,

Short answer: The right strapless bra.

Longer answer: I can't tell you what strapless bra to wear. At the moment, I favor one by Jezebel that appears to have been discontinued. This happens to me a lot. I used to like one by WonderBra, but my size was deemed no longer important by the powers that be. And I have stock in that company. That hurt. But I digress.

Then I had a long relationship with a bra by OnGossamer and I still don't know what happened, but one day I woke up and the magic was gone. I fell out of love, just like that. Well, not just like that. As you may be aware, bosoms change over time, which means the bra you love for years will not be The One forever. Serial monogamy is the way to go. Which means you need a new bra. And, trust me, there is a strapless bra somewhere in the world for almost everyone. I liked this one by Le Mystère when I was pregnant, but not after. Go figure. Go to Bits of Lace in Charleston and make sure you get someone with experience to help. Try to ignore any personality quirks; my experience is that the best fitters often have the strangest personalities. If you don't find The One, go to Nordstrom. Or Neiman Marcus. Or anywhere you can get a good fitting and a sympathetic ear. Try to find a salesperson that is similarly-breasted, if possible. Have a glass of wine or beer before you shop so you won't be shy or tempted by something uncomfortable. Have a liquor drink if you like. I recommend a Vodka Gimlet.

The right strapless bra should be comfortable and fit perfectly. Do not settle for less, even if you hate to shop. The long-term rewards are worth it. You need two: One in black and one as close to your natural skin color as possible. In fact, my only issue with the Jezebel I've been rocking is that it's too light. I've been considering trying to dye it a shade or two darker, but now that it's been discontinued, I'm scared to mess with it. Oh well, you can't have everything. Actually, you can and I need to follow my own advice.

If you can't get to a good store, order a bunch of them in different sizes (Think you're a 38B? You might be a 36C or even a 34D. Really.) Try them on in the privacy of your home and return what doesn't work. I am willing to personally fit anyone who wants it and I have mad skillzz, but you have to come to me. You don't have to buy me dinner, but an herbal tea would be nice.

Addendum to long answer: Girl, you do not look like a linebacker. I've seen you in Yoga clothes and you're lovely. Not that linebackers aren't lovely. They, too should rock camisoles should they desire. Like bras, camisoles come in many sizes and styles. In the South Carolina heat, it's a good idea to explore. As the now-proud owner of funny-shaped, well-loved bosoms, I pick and choose my camis. Rule Number One: They must cover my SBC*. Rule Number Two: There really is no other rule. Fashion rules are obsolete.

A few years ago, TF and I took the big kids to Disney World. I was pregnant, so spent most of my time eating and mocking people who drink at Disney World. One evening, at the Polynesian Resort Luau, TF looked at a table of sunburned guys in polos and khakis and their female companions. They were drinking umbrella drinks. With fruit.

"You know what's going to start happening over there?" he asked. "A little bit of this."

And he tucked his thumbs into his arm pits - arms out like he was doing the Chicken Dance, elbows above the shoulders - and pretended to hitch up his strapless bra. Or tube top. And that is why we need strapless bras that fit - because you never know when you might go somewhere really hot and drink one too many exactly the right number of umbrella drinks. You don't want to be that chick and you don't want to die in the sweltering heat because you couldn't go cami, now do you?

Namasté, y'all!

PS I have a few more questions to answer and this is fun, so bring it, y'all! I have opinions and I want to share!

* Strapless Bra of Choice.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

My Advice About Everything! And More!

I have this fantasy. I want an advice column. It would be funny. And brilliant, I'm sure. I need practice, though.'s a thought. Maybe you are all too irritated with me, because I've neglected this blog for far too long, but I hope you aren't, because I like you. I do!

I Like You

I also love sharing my opinion and may need to do less of that when it's unsolicited. But...what if I had a whole advice column? Where people solicited my opinions and I wouldn't have to feel like a jerk for sharing them? So, go ahead and ask me something. It'll make me keep up with this blog, which I actually love, because I'll feel obligated. Obligation and guilt are excellent motivators.

So is fear. My parents were really into fear-based parenting and I think it works. I was scared to do a lot of stuff I shouldn't. I told my son today that where birds flew over the ocean, there were fish below. And that sharks would show up to eat the fish and any nearby humans. This kept him from going out too far in the ocean, but I don't know if it's true. Don't care, either. My parents were so scary, I was also afraid to have sex, do certain drugs and cuss in public. I hope to instill these same fears - and more! - in my own children.

But I digress. So...if you have a minute, send me a question. Maybe about an issue with your children or - even better - other people's children. It's fun to talk smack about other people's parenting, isn't it? Or questions about food - I love those. Want to healthy up your favorite recipe? I can help and darn it, I want to! Fashion? I have a lot of opinions about that. Manners? Bring it! Nuclear physics? Sure. I don't promise my answers will change your life or even be true, but they will occasionally be entertaining. Email the questions or just leave them in the comments section (Anonymous, even. I really don't want to know which of my friends is considering a three-way. Really.) Indulge me? Please? Pleeeeeease?

Namasté, y'all!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

It's just hair.

One summer, I let my children get faux-hawks. For the unfamiliar, the faux-hawk is a classic cut involving spiky hair in a strip down the middle and buzzed sides. Because the sides aren't shaved, the style can be converted into a church-ready 'do by removing the gel. The first faux-hawks happened when the Tank was a baby. School had just let out for the summer, we didn't have a routine (like we ever had one) and it was hot as h*ll. Like any other mother in the same situation, I drove to the mall, where air-conditioning runs like mad and Starbucks is always within walking distance. After loading up on a venti-whatever-the-heck, I headed to Williams-Sonoma to see if there were any free samples. I then attempted a trip into some store or another to try on over-priced, ill-fitting clothes that wrinkled*. By that point, high as a kite on coffee and sugar, I really didn't care what we did next. I only knew I wasn't going home. Besides, the caffeine buzz was allowing me to enjoy a soundtrack that existed only in my head, mostly Violent Femmes with a little Pixies and old Liz Phair for good measure.

The children spotted a hair place. Master Cuts? Hair Cuttery? Cutz R Us? I do not recall.

"Moooooom," they salivated. "You said we could get faaauuuuux-hawks! Can we get them now? Pleaaaaaase?"

After they agreed to turn the hawks into buzz cuts if someone died, I said yes. While wacky hair is fine by God, it can be offensive to people whose loved ones have passed. Personally, I might enjoy an odd hairdo or three at a funeral, but that's just me. I turned the stroller towards the store and marched them up to the counter. I made them ask for the cuts themselves, because if you're man enough to get a faux-hawk, you're man enough to talk to the stylist. The stylist didn't quite understand. She looked at me like I was nuts. I only stepped in when it became apparent she might accidentally give them mullets. Funny story about mullets. I met someone who had trained as a stylist in a small mountain town. You may think little mountain towns are fancy, because people have cute little cabins up there where they entertain and get away from the summer heat of the city. Guess what. Real people live in those towns. Some of them are fancy. Others? Not so much.

"You know," she confided, "People really shouldn't trust me to cut their hair, because all I ever cut in school was mullets."

A trainee has to cut whatever the client wants. I had to know,

"Did they actually ask for mullets?"


Apparently, people with mullets don't even know what they have on top of their heads. MULLETS. That word makes me laugh, even just typing it. Mercy. But I digress.

After insuring my sons would not walk out with mullets, I relaxed. They were not as brave as they had pretended to be and nervously argued over who would go first. I don't remember who won or whether first or second was considered to be the winner, but by the end, they were cackling like monkeys and couldn't wait to rock the new look in public. The stylist sold them some gel (For Men, of course) and they were ready to go.

We walked through the mall and my boys, in the universal way that boys do when they feel very proud and are trying not to show it, kept their mouths closed, cramming their tongues into their cheeks to keep from grinning. We heard awe-filled whispers.

"Mom...look at those GUYS...They look AWESOME...can we please? cool...I"

The kids loved the attention and had great fun all summer, faux-hawks at the ready. The next summer, the X-man - who had been told at soccer camp he looked like a young David Beckham - wanted a buzz cut. Twelve bucks, five minutes, no maintenance for months. Loved it. His cool older brother continued to rock long, curly hair...for about three days.

"Ahhhhh..." the X-Man would sigh, tickling his nearly bald head in the one hundred degree heat. "This feels so good!"

O. might have only made it two days. He had to have that cut. Months later my brother, who buzzes his own hair, offered to re-do it and I was thrilled to save twelve dollars. Buzzing a seven-year old is harder than you might think and my brother and I now agree that the twelve dollars is well-spent.

School ended on Friday and, in preparation for the summer, the X-Man wanted to go for another faux-hawk. Fine by me. TF took him to the barber shop in Five Points, which was closed. They went to some other place, where TF asked,

"Could you please give him a faux-hawk?"

The response? "I am not giving that boy a mohawk."

TF tried to explain the difference in the two styles. The faux-hawk is really a mohawk-lite. The shop, of course, was filled with friends. Men are worse than women when it comes to socializing at the barber shop. Unlike women, who will yak for the sake of yakking, men need a purpose. Weekly haircuts give them an excuse. The men laughed. And heckled.

"Like Mr. T...bwahahaaaaaa..."

"I am NOT giving that boy a mohawk."

TF has lived in the south long enough to know when to back down and the X-Man was born knowing. He climbed up into the chair as the experienced barber promised,

"I'll make him look good."

Which he did. He made him smell good, too, like a clean-shaven older man's after-shave, which is probably exactly what he used. I don't know if there was any kind of lecture during the cut, but the X-Man had an explanation when he arrived at home sans crazy cut.

"Since I have a piano recital today, I thought a buzz cut would be more appropriate."

True, that. And he played beautifully. He also led the audience in singing The Star Spangled Banner, all four verses. Did you know it had four verses? Well, I didn't either, until I heard him practicing. He wanted to sing it in his school play, "even though it takes, like, fifteen minutes. Or twenty." Never one to discourage my children, I told him he could ask his teacher.

"Oh, I did. She said no."

Good call, although it was pretty awesome. Especially with the old-school, respectable summer haircut. He also rocked a seersucker suit. I love that kid.

Namasté, y'all!

* Is it any wonder I started an entire blog about shopping local? Our mall is so lame. So. Lame.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Bad idea, ladies.

So, a friend of ours was enjoying an adult beverage on the porch of a popular bar in Five Points recently. Apparently, it was his lucky day, because he ended up chatting with three attractive young things, roommates. One of them mentioned her pending DUI*. Our friend asked if she had a lawyer (God bless people like him!) and, lo and behold, she had retained the best guy in town, TF.

"Oh," our dear pal reassured her, "He's good. You'll be fine."

"Wow," her big-eyed friend breathed, "I have JL for mine. Is he good?"

"Um, yeah, he's great."

"Really?" gulped the third crazy drunk girl. "LL is doing mine. How's he?"

After assuring her that LL is also a fine attorney, our friend thoughtfully explained the concept of a designated driver. As it happens, they were designating a DUI Recipient each evening, taking turns. Is it even worth mentioning they only lived a five-minute walk from the bar? Eh. Where am I going with this? Not sure, really, because I don't think any of my well-educated readers need a lecture on the ills of driving under the influence. But really, y'all. It's not funny. It's dangerous and can get you in a whole hell of a lot of trouble. Should you make a mistake and do it anyway, do call TF, because he may be able to help. JL and LL are pretty good, too, but their fees won't send my kids to college.

And you know, the kids are watching everything. The X-Man wrote a short, mandatory piece about me for Mother's Day. I love this stuff; reading it is one of the great joys of motherhood. But, um, one line read,

"My mom loves going to wine tasting contests."

First of all, what sort of contest is he imagining? A blind taste test in which the person who makes the most correct identifications wins a plate of cheese fries? With jalapeños? Or, God forbid, who can drink the most? I'd lose both of those. Contrary to what I write, I don't really drink that much (I'm the same size as I was before children. Do you really think that would be possible if I guzzled half as much as I claim? Really? You are living in an imaginary dream world.)

So, does he think I'm a drunk or a true sophisticate? He's my little gourmet. The other day, we were at Rosewood Market (best place in town to pick up guilt-free takeout for the children's dinner because you have plans to abandon them later and go on a wild Tuesday evening drinking spree enjoy sophisticated banter with friends over cups of hot tea.) We rounded the corner and came upon the container of free coffee. Regular or decaf, it is served in tiny little paper cups and is the only coffee I drink since my big detox.

"May I have some coffee?"

"Sure," I answered, racking my brain for a reason I should say no. Like, will a tablespoon of decaf loaded with milk and sugar stunt his growth or make him crazy or turn him gay? I'd actually be okay with gay, because I don't believe anything turns people one way or the other. If you disagree, I think you are wrong. So there. But I digress. I couldn't come up with a single thing, so I stuck with "Sure."

I don't think it's nice to call too much attention to my children's various personality experiments. There's a fine line between asking and mocking. Mocking your offspring, to their face, is uncool. This much I know. I couldn't resist, though. As we perused the produce, he was eying red pepper and local asparagus with a gleam in his cute little gourmet eye.

"So, um, when did you start drinking coffee?"


Well, now I know.

Namasté, y'all!

* DWI to some of you. Drivin' Stoopid to others.