Saturday, March 21, 2015

"My Closet Is Empty!"

I took the girls to Tyson's last night.....each needs a dress for next Saturday that they will also wear for formal night on the cruise......I will probably wear a black hefty trash bag, btw.

Anyway, we go to the first store where they like to shop, this very reasonably priced, chic-y boutique-like place called Francesca's.  They don't find any dresses there.  I am really disappointed because I can buy a dress at Francesca's for under $50.

We go to Nordstrom's.........good grief.........I shop in nordstrom's a lot, but usually for dressy dresses I am only in there once a year.  (Are you bored yet?) 

Madison tries on no less than eight dresses.........finds one she loves for $275.  I tell her to have them hold it, and we can come back for it, but I would like to look some more.  Actually, I would rather have a lobotomy without anesthesia than look more, but I don't really care for the dress she has decided she likes.

Eden, on the other hand, falls in love with one of Madison's rejects (which actually was the dress I adored) and it fits her, and she likes it, so we take it.  It is $198.  Yes, that is right.  Eden, who typically is a little bitch, is totally blown away by the price and that I am going to spend that much.  She is humbled........for 3 or 4 seconds.  I enjoy the respite from 'I am a teenage bitch'-land.

We go to Bloomingdales.   My daughter Courtney's layette came from Bloomingdales.  Eden has never been in is as if I have walked her into St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.  She is reverent, hushed, wide-eyed........I am impressed.  Eden does not often impress me......favorably that is.

Madison tries on dresses.  We have, again as we did in Nordstrom's, a very nice salesperson.  Dress one, I like but do not love.  Madison loves.  Dress two I adore. Madison is meh about it. After much discussion, we take dress number one.......$188.

Exhausted does not even begin to describe how I feel.

Madison tries on dresses.  We have, again as we did in Nordstrom's, a very nice salesperson.  Dress one, I like but do not love.  Madison loves.  Dress two I adore. Madison is meh about it. After much discussion, we take dress number one.......$188.

Exhausted does not even begin to describe how I feel.
Madison tries on dresses.  We have, again as we did in Nordstrom's, a very nice salesperson.  Dress one, I like but do not love.  Madison loves.  Dress two I adore. Madison is meh about it. After much discussion, we take dress number one.......$188.

Exhausted does not even begin to describe how I feel.

Madison tries on dresses.  We have, again as we did in Nordstrom's, a very nice salesperson.  Dress one, I like but do not love.  Madison loves.  Dress two I adore. Madison is meh about it. After much discussion, we take dress number one.......$188.

Exhausted does not even begin to describe how I feel.

And, who the freak makes enough money to afford these prices?

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


Don't ask me what is what I get for typing a blog entry on an iPad.

Anyway, one of the best things about the CUISINART YOGURT MAKER is that after the fermentation time which is programmed in by you, it will chill automatically for up to 12 hours.

I allowed the non dairy yogurt to chill in the CUISINART for about 2 hours.

The next step is slightly different from what I would do if preparing Dairy Greek Yogurt in the CUISINART.

FOR NON DAIRY YOGURT,  when I remove the contained from the CUISINART, one can see that the separation process has already begun and had begun quite nicely.  Place a coffee filter OR a paper towel (one sheet) in the bottom of a colander.  Place the colander over a bowl.  Spoon off the yogurt from the will have about 2.5-3" of yogurt on top of the liquid (you do not want the liquid.....toss it).  Put the yogurt in the colander and place in fridge.  Let it strain for about another 2 hours or so.  You will have amazing, tangy, non dairy Greek style yogurt.  My girls had it for breakfast today as a dip with blackberries and strawberries.  We are going to do carrots and celery at lunch and dinner.

Bon Appetit!

COCONUT MILK YOGURT.....Non Dairy, HomeMade, Great Dip for Veggies



(2) 13.6 ounce cans unsweetened coconut milk, full fat (Do not use LITE)

  3 tablespoons unflavored gelatin*

  2 tablespoons honey

(2) opened capsules MEGA-FOOD KIDS N' US MEGAFLORA 100% Natural Probiotic (just open the capsules and empty into your coconut milk at the right time)

  1 packet ULTIMATE FLORA SUPER CRITICAL 200 BILLION Maximum Support Probiotic. (I buy these on Amazon)

* I use GREAT LAKES UNFLAVORED GELATIN....the red container....I buy it at  It is pure protein and Kosher.

Place 1/4 cup of the coconut milk in a bowl......milk should be room temp and shake can well before opening.  Sprinkle the gelatin over the top and set it aside for 10 minutes.....I cover the bowl with a paper towel just to keep it separate.

Pour the remaining milk into a large (6 cup) Pyrex or heat resistant glass measuring cup and heat in the microwave for 4 minutes.  This will bring it a smudge over 150 degrees which is what we want.

Check the temp with a yogurt thermometer.....also available on Amazon.  I ❤️ my yogurt thermometer.

You want to be at least 150 degrees.  It probably will not be less than that with four minutes in the microwave.  I prepare my dairy and non dairy yogurt using the microwave and it is easy, fast, and my results have always been superb.

Remove the measuring cup from the microwave and whisk in the softened gelatin and the honey.....maybe about a minute of whisking.

While the milk is heating in the microwave, I prepare an ice bath (this is easy).......I fill a very large bowl with ice.  When the milk is removed from the microwave, I place the measuring cup on top of the ice and I fill in around the sides with more ice.  The thermometer is in the cup, and I am watching for the temp to reduce to 110 degrees.

When it reaches 110 degrees, I whisk in the probiotics.  Do not mix in before it gets to 110 degrees as the probiotic will become ineffective because of the heat (a nice way of saying that the high temp will kill the good bacteria).

When the good stuff is whisked in, we are ready to pour this carefully into my CUISINART YOGURT MAKER.  This machine is worth EVERY PENNY.  I bought mine on Amazon.  The only kitchen appliance I use more is my K-cup Coffee Maker.  Seriously.

Coconut milk yogurt has a much longer fermentation time than dairy yogurt.  I set the timer to 24 hours.  WHAT?  Yes.  TWENTY FOUR HOURS.  When I prepare dairy yogurt, it ferments for 6 hours.  

One of the pluses of using the CUISINART is that after the fermentation time, it automatically switches to COOLING, which means I do not have to be here to out the yogurt in the fridge.  It will chill

Monday, December 9, 2013

What was 'there' before BEST BUY?

I like to blog at Advent.  

It's Advent.

Our real estate agent's open house was cancelled at
10:30a.m. Which made sense........roads were very slippery and it
happened quite quickly.

Mariano and I had to go pick up one of my prescriptions and then to
best buy to get me a new phone.

 I have been using his android since
April when he started with his new firm......they gave him an iPhone.
I have become quite accustomed to the android, but it has been dropped
on the kitchen/tile floor a few times, hit with a football that Michael
threw, and on Friday I was at the target pharmacy counter (good
Lord........I think my official title should be drug mule) and I
dropped it, it landed face down on the floor, and there were shards of
black glass/plastic everywhere. It was very sad.......were the android
an equine, someone would have shot it to put it out of its misery. You
could hear voices from games, it was flashing different colors, Mariano
was trying to call me (my ringtone is the song 'carry on'), I cannot
get the screen to stop strobing long enough to press the button to take
the call, I am getting text dings and I cannot access them, my phone is
flashing different colors all the while dinging and playing CARRY ON.
I really liked my was so user friendly, it held a charge
forever, I had figured out how to use it............we had many things
to do Friday night, twins' choir concert, Madison had to be picked up
at 8pm at her school. So after choir concert, I tool Mariano's iPhone
and headed to get Madison and her girlfriend, took them to wegman's for
something to eat as they had not had dinner, and then We went home.
We planned to go to best buy on Saturday for my new phone, but were
totally consumed with getting the garages emptied.
So yesterday, when the open house was cancelled, and Mariano and the
kids got home from church, he and I headed out to best buy.
Okay.......I am not a technophobe by any stretch of the
imagination......if something can make the places where I have to be,
kids I have to drive, blah, blah, blah, a bit easier to understand,
then great.....if there is a feature that keeps me from getting dinged
with a $155. missed appointment fee from the child psychologist's
office, I need it.
We walk into best buy and I start looking at phones. And then I think,
maybe I will saunter over to washers and dryers because I at least know
something about those, and clearly, I know NOTHING about phones.
I force myself to remain in the phone department. And it begs the
question, "what was there prior to best buy needing an actual phone
I am clueless. And I look at one of the prices on the stickers next to
the phones.
Are they kidding me? Does a phone really cost $799.99? Why?
And these are the samsung phones. I don't dare even glance at the
sleek, pristine, glistening Apples.
Fast forward.........I find a phone that will do what I need it to do.
Mariano approaches. The phone I have selected is $700.00.
I have a real issue with plunking down that kind of cash for anything
short of Botox, Louis Vuitton, or my cash only Endocrinologist.
I could not under oath even begin to explain what transpired next.
Suffice to say, a samsung phone was selected ($200.00), an Otter Case
(and who is the genius who is laughing all the way to the bank who
thought of these...$50.00), and heaven only knows what else. I was
longing for the washer and dryer departments.........I was certain I
could master the STEAM cycle with less difficulty than I would be able
to phone someone or post a status on Facebook.
It continues as the BB employee rings up the sale....... (We were
actually buying two phones and two sets of accoutrements)...... It all
comes to $800. Or thereabouts.........actually closer to $900.
"It's okay," Mariano says.
"On what planet?" I respond.
Then, the total begins to shrink, and shrink and shrink. It is a mere
$142. when the clerk has completed has completed his Best Buy Magic.
Don't ask me. I have no idea. Really.
We are told it will take a little bit of time to get my phone up and
running. I hand over my inop android so information can be loaded onto
the new phone (what you do on your phone, stays on your phone......just
saying!), and Mariano and I begin to wander.
Cameras. Why do I need a camera? I have a phone.
iPad Air. I love the iPad that I have and am typing on right now.
MacBook. MacBook Pro.
Good freaking grief.
If there is a product that can separate you from your hard-earned cash,
Best Buy has it, and it is electronic.
Johnny can't read? Throw the freaking electronic games onto your
driveway and back over them with your minivan! Aisles and aisles of
electronic games..........more aisles of games than Barnes and Noble
has books.
Mariano and I search for a Wii. That's right........we don't have one
and Eden has asked for one.
Finally, we ask where we might fine a Wii at the Information Desk. The
two clerks look at each other.
I am waiting to hear the word "craigslist" but we are actually directed
four aisles over and on the right there is a Wii.
We are not impressed, and we walk away.....Wii-less.
I wander over to washers and dryers, I buy a bag of Combos and a bottle
of water. Mariano and I wander to the televisions and watch the
Redskins game.
It's a tv. I understand it. I can handle it.

Monday, June 3, 2013


I wish I had a photo of Madison at the end of year Roman Feast in third grade....wearing a loose fitting black dress of mine (the other Roman females were in white)....No, I did not have a plain white sheet so I could fashion a toga and no, WalMart was already closed or not open yet or something. 

And, yes, she did inform me at 9:30 pm the night before that she needed this the next morning.  Did I mention that I was a full time fourth grade teacher at another school on the other side of town that year? 

 At least she was barefoot. 

And I was assigned weenies in the blanket as the 'finger food' I had to prepare. I was waiting for a new ATM CARD, dh had left for the office without leaving me cash (as if he had any), the kids were too young to have $$$ stashed in their rooms. I scrounged under the seats in the car and everywhere else for change. I came up with enough to buy two packs of Shopper's Food Warehouse crescent rolls and 'heaven only knows what they are made from' all-meat links. I showed up to find all of the moms wearing Roman garb as well.......wth? You not only were able to get your kids dressed as ancient Romans but you were able to fashion a costume for yourself as well? REALLY? 

Fast forward to fourth grade.........I spent the summer compiling a spread sheet of every freaking costume the three kids would need for the upcoming school year. I poured over EBay listings for days until I had contracted with the best seamstress for the costumes that had to be custom made. I spent no less than $750. that year on costumes for classroom events, plays, blah, blah, blah. The Dolly Madison "re-enactment outfit" alone cost $250. plus shipping. BUT, not once that entire year were my kids NOT the best costumed kids in the school. 

We homeschooled the following year.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

A Tribute to the Donaldson Family: Tim, Anna, Jack, Margaret

A homeschooling friend asked today if there were any bloggers in our FB group changing names of children and husbands to maintain privacy and keep their identity somewhat under the radar.   A question with a huge rabbit trail for me today, September 8, 2012:  the one year crap-iversary of Jack Donaldson's death.  (G-d, just typing those words and I sit and reel from the eternal enormity those words have) 
Anna Donaldson used 'fake' names in her blog - her name was her own (I think), she used 'Tom' for 'Tim' and i don't recall what she used for Jack and Margaret. When I finally found Anna's blog (about 1 month after Jack's accident), I began reading from the beginning, and she wrote about 'Tom' her husband. I sat at my kitchen table feeling like an idiot.......a totally confused idiot - a fool even. ALL THOSE YEARS, my husband and I had been calling 'Tom' by the 'wrong' name -- we had been calling him 'Tim.' What the you- know-what was wrong with us? We had been in classes at Church, school functions, there were name tags, family address head was spinning. I continued to read Anna's blog. Yup, there it was in black and white: Tom. Photos of 'Tom' touching up the roots on Anna's hair. I continued reading.........I was reading about a month and some days back in time from the blog's date, Labor Day Holiday week 2011, and yes, she was calling him 'Tom.' :head:desk:   How could my husband and I have been such morons -- how could we have been calling 'Tom' 'Tim' for years???!!!
  I read on, sheepishly - and came to Anna's blog from the terrible night at the bridge (9/8/11) and, everyone is called by the names I know them to have. I continue reading and I come to Anna's blog post about the 'gig' being over as far as her keeping any kind of anonymity since Jack's accident. Now, Anna writes, everyone knows their names, everyone knows where they live, and now 'Tom' is 'Tim.'  I understand now.  I think of how normal it is for all of us to change names and locations in an attempt to insulate our families from any crazies who might read our blogs (btw, no one reads mine). The realization of how futile our efforts are to protect our loved ones does not escape me. 
Anna writes that she had warned her kids about '...lightning and salmonella and sexual abuse and pornography and STD’s and bullying and collapsing tunnels of sand and snow...'.  I've warned my kids about the very same things.  Every mom I know has warned her kids of the very same things.  Every one of us, I would bet, has smelled deli meat that we think has been in the fridge too long and tossed it out, had a whiff of milk (and even if we were only slightly unsure about where it was on the okay to drink ---------> pour it down the drain continuum), and we poured it down the drain.  Bread?  A speck of any color, I mean really, it could be dust....doesn't your bread get dusty?  Sweetie, put bread on the list for when we go out later, toss that loaf in the trash,and have your pb&j on saltines. 
   I sat at the kitchen table feeling the huge weight of grief on my chest, my heart aching for this beautiful family. I have a crystalline memory of Jack on the third grade field trip to National Cathedral. The kids were able to spend a fair amount of time in the lower level of the Cathedral, and docents gave them turns at sculpting marble with chisels and water;  they made faux stained glass, and did embroidery similar to what we had all seen and enjoyed in the Sanctuary. I remember Jack wearing his safety goggles,  heavy duty protective sculpting apron (akin to the weight of the cover used in the dentist office when x-rays are taken), and work gloves; he was completely immersed in the ancient craft of marble sculpting and oblivious to everything and everyone around him.  A nine year old 'renaissance man' in 2008.   (I took many photos which are all in the scrapbook the third graders presented to Ms. Ingham on the last day of school.)
I have no answers.  I have questions every single day.  These are always there: Why?  Why Jack? Why the Donaldsons? 
Jack had a life verse:  Luke 1:37 (Nothing is impossible with G-d)
That alone tells one what an amazing young boy Jack was.  What an amazing family he has......he had a life verse...a life verse!  The verse is on blue bow magnets stuck to vehicles all over......and I do mean all over.  We saw one on a minivan in the outer banks last April.  We see them all over northern Virginia when we are on the road.  The kids and I always point out the blue bow when one of us sees it:  'Look!  Those people have a Jack magnet!'  We gulp; we try to see if we know the people who have a Jack magnet. 
I cannot fathom the depth of Anna, Tim and Margaret's pain;  I cannot imagine the pain felt by their aunts, uncles and cousins. 
 Jack has been honored this past year in every word written by his parents, in his sister Margaret's dazzling smile that graces Anna's blog and FB page, and in the events that have been established to keep the memory of this amazingly handsome, well-mannered, incredibly witty and thoughtful (as in full of thought), uber-smart boy alive. 
Our family will never forget Jack Donaldson.  Never. 
Anna, Tim and Margaret, we love you and you are always in our hearts and prayers.
I think of this quote from C.S. Lewis always when I think of Jack, Anna, Tim, Margaret:  "Why love if losing hurts so much? I have no answers any more. Only the life I have lived.....The pain now is part of the happiness then. That's the deal." 
What does any of this has to do with using or not using real names in one's blog? I know that Anna's point about the things from which we protect our children was articulately and perfectly made...right on target. I guess we use pseudonyms because we can...we do what we can. ALL we can do is what we can.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The EEL Story OR How the Kitchen Became the Heart of the Home

When I was in elementary school, my dad drove me to school every morning.  I attended St. Vincent's Academy on Market Street in was near (right across the street) St. Joseph's R.C. Church and a fire house.  I could sit in my third grade classroom and look out the window at Martland Medical Center which later became UMDNJ (my sister graduated med school from there hundreds of years later).  But, I digress.

I have come to the conclusion that apparently the kitchen was not always the heart of the home.  It was not the gathering place, the warm fuzzy place, the 'just grab a chair and sit at the table' place that it is today.  When I think of my grandparents' homes, and even the homes of other relatives and friends, the kitchen was typically tucked away in the back of the house, non-descript, and basically a room where 'work' (women's work) was accomplished.  When I was very young, the 'living room' was where everyone gathered. 

Whatever was going on in the kitchen was for the cook to be involved with, and probably no one else.

What follows is possibly how that all changed.  I am guessing that after many incidents similar to what I am writing about below, it was decided that if a wife or husband or grandmother or great-aunt was cooking something/anything, they were not to even think about venturing out of the kitchen proper.  It's not difficult to imagine that THIS is how the kitchen then evolved to become the heart of the home -- it was just safer this way!

My dad didn't talk alot while we were driving.  The first part of the ride he prayed, and when he was finished, he would turn on the radio.  Once in awhile, we would notice something....a printed sign, or some such thing, and either I would ask a question, or he would comment, but we were both rather quiet otherwise.  Comfortably quiet, mind you.

I was in third grade when my father told me this story which means I was eight years old at the time.

One morning we driving down Springfield Avenue in Newark, NJ toward school, and on the window of a Fresh Seafood store was a really large paper sign with the word 'EELS' on it.  We both saw it at precidely the same time.

 "Eels?" I exclaimed.  "Eels?  Why would they sell eels?" 

"People eat them," my dad replied.

Calmly.  But starting to smile....which was odd at that hour of the morning.

"What's so funny?" I asked.

A smile at 7:00am could certainly be construed as 'funny.'  We were usually rather quiet together.

And, then my dad told me the "EEL STORY."

He told me that when he was six years old,  his father, my grandfather, was standing at the stove in the kitchen.  The big stock pot was on the stove, the gas was turned on under it, and the lid was on the pot.

My dad had just entered the kitchen, and Grandpa was turning to leave the kitchen.

My dad continued: "Grandpa said to me, 'Leave the lid on the pot.  Don't open the pot.' "

 I knew for a fact (perfectly obedient, first-born child that I was) that at six years of age, being told 'not' to open something was as good as receiving an engraved invitation to get one's grimy little hands all over it and totally open it to see what was inside.

I knew that at six years of age that being told not to open something wasn't even going to register....a six year old's brain wasn't even going to process those words.

A typical six year old never imagines that THIS will happen:

A typical six year old is told "Don't open that pot!" and sees and hears this:

OR this:

Or this:

You get the idea.  The six year old, or five year old, or seven year old is going to open the pot, sack, bag, box, door, jar, window, whatever it is.  The key word here is OPEN.  But, you knew that!

My dad continued:  "Grandpa walked out of the kitchen" 

I was only eight years old, and even I knew that Grandpa should not have walked out of the kitchen.; or at least he should not have gone far.

My dad continues.  "So I dragged a stool next to the stove and climbed up." 


Those 'household accident statistics' have apparently been recorded for a very long time.

I was on the edge of my seat.  Seat belts weren't invented yet.  My father hadn't said this much to me on our morning rides in two years.  I was enthralled.  I had to hear what happened next.

"I climbed on the stool,"  my dad says, "And I lifted the lid off the pot."

He's laughing now. "The lid was barely off the top of the pot, and I began to scream and shout: SNAKES!  SNAKES!"

My eyes, normally big as saucers, grew twice that size.

"Snakes?" I practically shouted.

My dad is laughing and shaking his head no.

"Eels!" he tells me.  "Eels!"

"They came out of that pot as soon as I lifted the lid.  They slithered out of the pot, onto the stove top, and then were on the floor all over the place.  Slithering all over the place."

Okay, that was a visual I didn't need, but it clearly had stuck with him through the years!

"I'm screaming, 'Snakes!' and Grandpa comes running into the kitchen.'

"There are eels all over the place," my dad is laughing.

"Grandpa picks up a skillet that was on the stove, and he starts hitting the eels with the skillet.  He is going all over the kitchen hitting eels.  He is on his hands and knees on the floor hitting eels."

My dad tells me that at the same time Grandpa is exterminating eels, he is yelling at my dad:

'I told you not to open the pot.'

My dad said he was running around the room in tears screaming 'Snakes!'

When grandpa had finally finished doing whatever it is one does to eels with what was probably a cast iron skillet (no flimsy Farberware in those days), he looked at my father and started laughing.

And, he says to my father, smiling:  'Scared ya, huh?'

For sure, Grandpa.  Any individual who can remember in perfect detail something that happened probably 25 years earlier, well, they were probably scared.

And, in my opinion, the prospect of things slithering around one's kitchen is in part responsible for a school of thought which developed...that being that no small child should be left alone in a room with a pot of something that could exit said pot in a slithering fashion.

Hence, the kitchen became the heart of the home.

And, that, Mimi, is the EEL STORY!