Sunday, September 15, 2019

It's All Greek to Me

I consider myself a food purist. When I eat grape leaves I want them to be authentic Greek, when I eat shrimp and grits I want it to be Southern home cooking not served up at a Mexican restaurant, and when I eat pizza I expect it to be Italian. For years I fussed over traditional pizzerias around the metro Boston area becoming "Greek" pizza places. The crust is thicker and a little more greasy, the sauce has a sweet flavor to it, and the cheese gives me hives (at least it did when I was in the 7th grade.) I love Greek food but I want my pizza to be Italian.

Today we were in the city for a friends birthday party and Senia Mae was starving when we left. They served tapas at the party and she would rather go hungry than try something new. Two buildings away was Il Forno NY Pizza & Pasta, a place I had frequented years ago when I was in chiropractic school. Back in the day Il Forno was an authentic New York Pizzeria meaning: thin crust, large fold-able slices, and enough oil on top to drip down your arm while you're eating it. My mouth watered at the mere thought of what was to come.

We parked the car and rounded the corner of the old familiar building. Then I looked up at the sign:
The words New Mediterranean Menu should have been clear enough for me to know I'm going to be disappointed and should just turn around. My family was now laughing at me, nudging me through the door as I spotted another sure sign of non-Italian-ness: an ad to stop by the local Serb-fest gathering next week. We went inside and of course they were playing Greek music not Frank Sinatra and not the Three Tenors.

"Aww, come on," Kim says, "What's the big deal? Pizza is pizza, right?" Wrong... pizza is not pizza. I'm sure the gyros there are awesome, the baklava looked fresh and lovely, and I bet I would have loved the stuffed eggplant but their pizza was Greek not Italian. Maybe I'll have better luck next time!

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Why I love XM Radio

Howard Jones belts out the words of New Song on XM channel 33, First Wave classic alternative. The awesome synthesizer melody plays as I turn onto Highway 400 in my mom car but my mind remembers riding my three speed purple Schwinn up and down California Road, butt always hovering a foot higher than the hard, cracked banana seat.

I'm messy haired and gangly dressed in my cousin's hand me down Jordache jeans rolled up at the leg because she was so much taller. That girl that is me belts out Don't Crack up, Bend Your Brain, See Both Sides, Throw Off Your Mental Chains as the wind blows through her hair. It's funny how one song can toss you back thirty five years in a blink.

I remember trying to learn that riff on my sister's Casio, wishing it had just one more octave so I could reach the highs, frustrated that Santa always chose to leave her instruments under the tree even though I was the musical one. Even with that frustration I can hear the message in those lyrics Don't Crack up, Bend Your Brain, See Both Sides, Throw Off Your Mental Chains and with those words of wisdom everything seems right in the world.

Are those words better than any self help book I've ever read? Maybe. Music has always helped me escape and unwind, what is your escape? I'd love to hear.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Unicorn Bakers Unite!!

I have said many times that if I don't make it as a writer and I become too feeble to be a good chiropractor then I will make a living baking unicorn and Barbie cakes for kids parties. Piping purple frosting into flowers of a Victorian ball gown or making sure the sugar cone horn is angled just right is a secret passion of mine. I could do it all day.

One of my patients that also shares my unicorn baking passion presented me with a hilarious handmade Yeti style cup the other day.
I could not take my eyes off of it between the glitter, the real epoxied rainbow sprinkles, the baking unicorn, and of course the hilarious message. It seemed that I could not have received a more awesome and appropriate gift. The next couple of days I proudly poured every cold drink I ingested into it.

Senia Mae was also smitten with the glitter and the sprinkles. So lickable... almost, so sweet... but not really.

"Mama," she gasped after reading the cup's message, sounding completely appalled. "I can't be...lieve you would use THAT cup with the BAD word on it!"

The great thing about her being nine is that she still thinks I'm cool, still wants to snuggle, and basically can get herself up in the morning. The bad thing about her being nine is that she can read.

"I know its a bad word but..." I wanted to say that as an adult there are plenty of times you want to serve some shut the fucupcakes but can't. I wanted to say that in twenty five years you'll understand and laugh with me. But what I really said was, "I really like it for the picture and the sprinkles," which was not completely untrue! How often do you fib to your kids?

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Morning blessings

Sometimes my morning prayer goes like this...

"Lord, thank you for all of the gifts and blessings you have given me."
"Thank you for giving me my loving wife and our beautiful child whom we adore."
"Thank you for blessing me with a successful office with a career that I love and feel passionate about."
"Lord, I thank you for all of the talents you have bestowed on me..."

"Lord, I'll try NOT to screw it up!!"

I'd love to hear your morning prayer/meditation...what is yours?

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Rock Rock Til You Drop

In my mind I'm still a baby skinned, bad-ass rebel. In reality, I once was a bad-ass rebel but am currently a dutiful, obligated, child-rearing softie. To make myself feel better, like I'm still cool, I put the rag top down and let the warm summer wind blow through my hair.

The open air is freeing in a sense but as I take the curve with a little more gusto than usual, my mid drifts and I realize that I can't even remember the last time I misbehaved. I mean regretfully misbehaved (not get yourself sent to prison misbehaved, but embarrassed if anyone really knew misbehaved.) I drive a little farther and ponder the differences between my current persona and the twenty year old one.

The car hugs the curve and as I feel that familiar resistant pull on the steering wheel. I turn up stereo as it booms Def Leppard's Rock Rock Til You Drop. The thud, thud, thud, rings in my chest as my neck bobs to the heavy, pulsating rhythm. I move my hands from their ten and two positions to a single grip, right palm resting a top the steering wheel as I push my aviators up and view life through their yellow ambiance. Oh yeah, this is the stuff. That girl is still in there. I suddenly feel powerful, confident, and in control.

My moment lasts for just that, a single moment before a sudden gust of wind bellows through the front seat and sends my grocery list flying out of the car like a brittle, autumn leaf. I sigh a deep heavy sigh wondering how I'm going to find it on the side of the busy road but then remember... I'm a bad-ass rebel. I don't need a grocery list, I've got it all upstairs. Take that Kroger!

Friday, August 2, 2019

Maybe Wishes Really Do Come True

"Make a Wish," Senia Mae said as she blew the billowy, white seeds of the blossoming dandelion in my face.

"My wish is...," but before I can finish my words are abruptly cut off.

"Mama," Senia Mae said in a gentle yet scolding tone, "everybody knows your wish has to stay a secret. If anyone else knows it won't come true."

"Oh," I said. "I guess you'll never know what it is." I've never really believed that your wish has to be kept a secret because if it is never heard than how can anyone make sure it happens? This opinion I kept hidden from my daughter although I'm sure she knows my wish for the last 10 years has been for my manuscript to be picked up by a traditional publisher.

This morning, though, I believe a subconscious wish of mine may have come true... getting Senia Mae out the door on time. After a summer of struggling to get our bodies over the threshold before 8:25 a.m., I thought today, the first day of school, would be one more dreadful morning of the wrestling of wills. Imagining that I would have to drag myself to her room several times, pleading with her to climb out of bed and not make me late, I was pleasantly surprised when she crept into my room before the alarm went off at 6. Who's kid is this and what did you do with mine?

"Mama, it's the first day of school. Time to get up!" she said. The rest of the morning was nearly effortless.

"You must be really excited."

"I am," she said. "Now, please don't make me late." I laughed when I realized my own words were being tossed back at me.

I'm sure every parent dreams of easy mornings where the kids get themselves ready, pleasant mornings when you it isn't necessary to raise your voice and you actually get to sip your coffee while its still hot. I don't know, it sure felt like a dream today. I guess I'll just have to see how long this independent spell lasts, for I know even the best intentions sometimes get blown into the wind like dandelion seeds. But for now I'm going to hang on to this one and hope that wishes really do come true.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Broken nipples? No Problemo!

Let me begin by saying that I am a fairly self sufficient woman. Most minor home repairs,computer technicalities, or appliance mishaps are events I can handle on a regular basis. So when the hot tub repairman was booked out three weeks to a month I thought I might be able to address the issue myself.

Fortunately the repair manual was online and I was able to locate the FLC error code being associated with a pressure switch failure. Of course none of the local spa stores carried the part. The guy on the YouTube video made the replacement of it look simple so I ordered the universal switch online and it arrived promptly in two days.

Taking off the service panel I located the water heater and then the faulty pressure switch that was screwed into it's top. I knew to turn off both pressure valves to stop any excessive flow of water before I started unscrewing the old switch. Water slowly dripped as I turned it ever so gently, trying to let the pressurized water release. I obviously gave the second turn too much gusto because the whole switch just popped right off. Instantaneously a magnificent geyser of water erupted all over the circuit board... not good.

I did know enough about how water and electronics should NOT mix to put put my finger over the hole to slow down whatever permanent damage I was causing. Looking at the size of the heater, which was no larger than one liter, I estimated all the water should be released in a few minutes. There I stood, in the muck underneath the sticky hot tub deck maneuvering my finger every few seconds so the squirt of water was aimed at me instead of at the electronics.

Minutes passed and the pressure was not slowing so I thought I'd just try to screw in the new switch. After several unsuccessful attempts, water was spewing into the circuit as I cussed, my frustrated voice echoing into the peaceful wilderness just as our guests arrived. Natalie and her boyfriend Jeff, who happens to be an electrical engineer, walked down the steps bringing gifts of frozen watermelon margaritas.

Keeping my left finger over the darn overflowing hole I gladly accepted some liquid relief and asked Jeff if he could take a look at what was going on. As I licked the frozen goodness off my upper lip he said, "You can't get this new one screwed in because the threads of the old switch broke off in the hole." Instant relief flooded me knowing it wasn't only my lack of skill.

"How can that come out?"

"Well you're going to need to go to the Home Depot and get a broken nipple extractor..." I nearly peed myself I laughed so hard. Isn't that just what every woman needs? A broken nipple extractor? It was the perfect phrase to break my terrible mood. Thank you, Jeff.

So off I'm heading to the Home Depot where every other female employee is somewhat similar to me. I will then proceed to ask them if they can help me locate a broken nipple extractor.

To be continued...

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Instantly Loving My Insta Pot

This past holiday season seems like it went by in a blur, in fact I don't think I landed in one spot for more than thirty minutes from Thanksgiving until New Years Day. During these times of what I call "constant chaos" my family doesn't get the home-cooked meals that I normally pride myself on and are left to fend for themselves in the freezer. I must admit as a wife and mother I feel a mountain of guilt over this. These feelings are not placed on me, the issue is purely my own.

Oddly enough, under the Christmas Tree sat a enormously wrapped gift with my name on it. I knew I heard something whispering sweet nothings to me from inside the wrapping paper. I opened up my gift and met my new Insta Pot!

I had heard of these but had not given them a single thought. My eyes darted over the box as I took in just how many functions this one piece of cook-ware had. A few days after Christmas I perused some online Insta Pot recipes and decided on a Beef Strogonoff soup. In a little over an hour I had delicately moist and fork-tender beef over egg noodles. Not only was it delicious, but it seemed almost effortless... toss some ingredients in there and voila you have an entire meal.

One of my favorite features is the pre-set timer. I can prepare the ingredients in the Insta Pot at lunch and schedule it to start cooking at 5:30. After it finishes it will keep the meal warm so when i get home from a crazy day at work dinner is hot and ready! Goodbye mom guilt! I've already used it five or six times in a two week period. Although I've never been personally interested in yogurt making (I'm happy to just buy it) the Insta Pot has a yogurt making feature, so of course I had to try it and now I am a full on domestic goddess who even makes her own Greek yogurt.

After my two weeks of walking in Betty Crocker's footsteps I thought my hard work deserved some sort of prize or trophy. In my mind good cooks had to earn the right to have expensive kitchenware, and I felt like I had earned my token especially since my favorite extra wide, extra high ceramic lasagna pan didn't make it through this year's holiday rush (it got dropped in the sink.)

I saw Williams Sonoma was having sale on Le Creuset covered casserole dishes and figured my recent Insta Pot success earned me the the honor of having the finest of French cookware proudly displayed in my own kitchen.
After waiting 3-5 days for my online order to arrive the UPS man happily left my box in the driveway. You could imagine my dismay when I read the print on the side of the box that said my fine new "French" Le Creuset dish was actually MADE IN CHINA... just like everything else! Oh well, hopefully it cooks the same as the French one!