Category Archives: Humor

What I Learned from Meal Planning

I got this idea in my head that meal planning is a grown-up thing to do. I remember as a kid having a weekly (or monthly??) menu posted on the fridge, and then I think that for the most part we actually followed that menu.

I have said before (loudly and frequently!) that the hardest, most tiring part of being a parent is being in charge of someone else’s meals every single day, particularly when that person is a 2-year-old who primarily wants pappunoni pizza, watermelon, meenut butter and jim, or cake. So when meal planning, I tried really hard to take this opinionated little guy into account, and plan things that we could all actually eat together.

We did one week of following a meal plan, and here’s what I learned:

You can’t actually shop for the whole week at once.

This was my original grand plan. I had a gift card to Safeway and I went and stocked up on basics and necessities, and I was really proud when all I paid was $18 over the gift card amount. But the truth is, you can’t always buy produce on Sunday that’s for eating on Friday. We lost a couple things that way, and I had to do a second trip partway through the week.

I guess I should have known that. I’m aware of how quickly produce goes. But I got so caught up in the money-saving, time-saving, health-conscious extravaganza that I was taking on that I didn’t really think about all the logistics.

Cooking meals each night takes a lot of time.

It was really nice to have the pressure off at 5pm when the “What’s for dinner” conversations started happening. But, here’s the thing: Usually, B eats at 6pm and we just hang out with him, and then Drew and I eat after B goes to bed. So not only was one of us spending a bunch of time each night preparing a more elaborate meal than usual…but that time was happening between 5-6pm, prime play time.

Also, Drew and I probably forage for dinner 2 or 3 days a week. For example, last night he had eggs and chicken-apple sausage, and I had a sandwich. These took 10 minutes to prepare concurrently. So just in general, cooking a family meal every night added a lot of time to the in-the-kitchen schedule.

…But it is nice to have leftovers.

It was really nice to have interesting leftovers for all of us to take for lunch the next day. B gets a lot of repeat meals, so being able to throw something new in there was probably nice for him, and made me feel like I was being a good parent. Also, since I went on a big grocery shopping trip, I wanted to be able to parlay that into lunches so I didn’t have to spend money during the week.

There’s actually an element of “planning.”

I didn’t realize how to manage the details. I just threw things on different days, and tried to space out all the chicken. But now I know, if you have two meals that use basil, maybe put them closer together so your basil doesn’t completely wilt between them. Or, if you know Survivor is on on Wednesday nights, don’t plan something elaborate that you’re going to have to be either cooking or cleaning up while the show is starting. And give yourself an “egg sandwich” night in the middle of the week, as a break from all the “shepherd’s pie” nights.

Sometimes something comes up.

There’s a lot more life getting in the way than I realized. When planning, I had to work around such things as Easter, dinners out with friends, and other events. We ended up doing this on the least busy week possible, so that we could really give it the old college try, but there always seems to be something coming up.

We also have a slight disadvantage in that Drew doesn’t get home before 5pm, and I am usually at least half an hour behind him. When I think about my parents or my friends, many of whom are teachers, I realize that they have a major heads up over us in that they are home earlier in the day. One friend of mine posted a recipe on Facebook, saying that it was super easy because you could just stick it in the oven and come back 2 hours later. While I do appreciate the ease of that, and plan on taking advantage of it on a weekend, I just don’t have 2 hours’ worth of cooking time on a weeknight.

Overall

It’s really nice to just have a plan in place. And to have that plan include vegetables, which are already in the fridge and ready to be cooked. Without a plan, we have nearly nightly conversations that go, “What do you want for dinner?” “I don’t know, do you have any feelings?” “I don’t know, I just want you to pick something.” “Well, I don’t know…” So going a week without having that conversation was really nice.

Some nights, B would eat what we were eating and it was like this magical curtain of “we’re doing it right!” fell around us. Some nights he was not interested at all and we had to settle for “oh well, we tried.”

I tried to make another weekly schedule but then it just kind of fell through. Maybe next week we can get back on the wagon, because I think overall it was beneficial, albeit tiring.

Help me out with next week, and leave me a comment with your favorite plan-in-advance weeknight meal! (Bonus points if a toddler will eat it.)

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Filed under Children, Drew, Family, Food, Humor, Nonfiction

Here We Lent Again

Happy Ash Wednesday! It’s time to frantically figure out what to give up for Lent this year!

I actually started thinking about this a couple weeks ago, when I noticed at work that someone had brought in some Mardi Gras-themed pastries from a board meeting. But it’s nowhere near Mardi Gras! I thought. Then I looked at a calendar. But it’s not quite — well there’s still a little time — I mean, who even likes King Cake? Well, the colors ARE nice.

In the past I’ve given up Facebook, and arguing with Drew. Last year I gave up chocolate, and although that was an appropriately difficult thing for me to give up, I didn’t want to just repeat something from last year. So, after some hurried thought (and finishing some Ben & Jerry’s Coffee Toffee Bar Crunch last night), I think I’m going to give up ice cream.

What are you giving up this year? (Or, as I know some people do, are you taking on something additional during Lent?)

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Filed under Beginnings, Food, Holidays, Humor, Nonfiction, Religion

I Got Layers

I got a haircut today, perhaps the first one in a year. And I was thinking about how it’s basically my fantasy to have a hairdresser standing behind me in the mirror, looking thoughtful, and then they say, “Would you trust me to try something different here?” I would be like, “YES!” But what happens instead is they ask what I want, and I stammer out some haircut terms I’ve heard on TV, and then I either walk out looking much the same, or maybe with shorter hair.

Today, I look much the same. But in a good way. I like my new layers, and I enjoyed the “treat yo’self” feelings of someone else washing my hair. But it still makes me think of this blog post I wrote in 2008 about getting my hair cut in New York, the first time (since the age of 6) I got bangs.

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Hairdressers, and the Women They Laugh At

America’s Next Top Model.  Project Runway.  Tabatha’s Salon Takeover.  What Not To Wear.

These are just a few of the shows on TV now that take ordinary people who look like me or only slightly better, sit them down, and employ a professional to tell those ordinary people exactly what is going to happen to them.  Be it color, cut, makeup, or wardrobe, those people can rest assured that they are not being judged or made fun of, but that said professionals are there to help them look beautiful.  Is it really hard to believe that while watching the stylist of ANTM hack off Samantha’s long blonde hair, or give Elina a curly red weave, both of which come out looking amazing, that I can only say wistfully to anyone who will listen, “I wish Tyra Banks and her stylists would show up here and make me over!”

Alas, walking into a salon is not a screen test to get on one of these shows, and after today, I think I have nearly as high a level of Salon Anxiety as I do of White Coat Syndrome.  (White Coat Syndrome being, of course, that uncontrollable anxiety around doctors, even when they are doing the most unobtrusive of check-ups.)  For weeks – possibly months – I have been talking to myself about getting bangs.  Studying other’s people’s bangs, trying to fold my hair across my forehead looking into a mirror, and going through magazines and online articles about Best Bangs For You.  Finally I made an appointment at Nola’s in our neighborhood (it’s Salon backwards, how clever is that?) and I went down there this afternoon.

They are all legitimately Irish, which is charming as all get-out, and they’re very nice people, but I do not speak the salon language.  I had, however, spent days prepping my explanation of what I wanted, so that when she said, “What are we doing today?” (in an Irish accent), I replied without hesitation, “I would like to keep most of the length, but do some shorter layers for body, and also I think I would like…bangs.”  (Note: I had promised Liz I would say “fringe” but I was too nervous.)

She sat me down and started combing and everything was great, until she held a up a piece from the back and looked at me in the mirror and said, “How long would you like your layers?”  And I couldn’t even respond, I had no answer.  I pretty much said, “I don’t know.”  I don’t know!  Long enough to keep with the length – short enough so they are layers?  Why can I not go into a salon and say, “Make me pretty”?  I think she might have laughed at me a little bit when I said I didn’t know – I think this was the same girl I had last time, months ago, and we had a similar run in: When it was time for the blow-drying, she said, “How would you like it dried?”  And I said, “So it’s…dry?  And pretty?”  And she said, “Would you like it straight, or flips…?”  And I said, “Flips?”  And she said, “Flips?”  And I said, “Yes, let’s do flips,” which ended up being curls at the end, which looked lovely, but she did laugh at me a little bit then too.

So today she had to tell me how long she would do the layers, and I said that was great, and she continued cutting.  When she got to the bangs part, she combed them out and then said, “You’re sure?” in the way that you would confirm the first cut of any big operation, and I said, “Yes,” and then watched my blonder front hair fall into my lap.  She blew them out and sort of curled them under after she had finished everything else.

I love the layers, partly because they are all flippy at the ends (see? flips).  The bangs I am not so sure on.  To my still a little shellshocked eyes, I look like a cross between Peg from Lady and the Tramp, and a 12 year old at a school dance in 1998.  Drew, who says he would tell me the truth but who I don’t completely trust in for the whole truth, says it looks like Anne Hathaway’s hair in The Devil Wears Prada.  He just knows I think she’s beautiful though.  So I am still unsure about them, although I sort of wish I had gone with my hesitant instinct and not done the bangs – I can always start pinning them back and let them grow out.  C’est la vie.

Also, why is it that no matter how much makeup I put on, I get in the chair with nothing to look at but my face and my wet clumpy hair hanging all over or clipped on top of my head – and I am always ashamed with how I look.  It must be the wet clumpy hair, but I can never prepare myself for that.

In short, please, TV (Bravo in particular), stop lying to me and making me think that hairdressers want to tell me exactly what they are going to do to make me beautiful.  Also, if there is anyone out there who is a hairdresser, I will pay you good money to be a Tyra Banks to my Lauren.  Doesn’t that sound like a good deal?  Also, Liz, I hope your wedding is themed “Full House children” because then I will fit right in.

[The best part is, I then included a picture of myself with my new bangs, which I remember thinking was so weird-looking, but it really just looks like me now, except like seven years younger. Oh, and these are the bangs that ended up growing out and disappearing. This new iteration of bangs that I have now started in 2010.]

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Filed under Beauty, Being a girl, Humor, Memoir, Nonfiction, TV

Heartwarming Christmas Stories, Vol. 1

We’ve been trying to really do up Christmas this year, so I thought I would share some heartwarming Christmas stories that show off what it is to have a toddler.

On Friday morning we took B to meet Santa. We’d been telling him about Santa and “prepping” him to say, “Hi Santa, Merry Christmas, this year I’ve been a very good boy and I would like __________.” (Whatever the blank happens to be: books, a puzzle, a dog, more letters, etc.) (Of course there was no chance he would say all that, but it’s fun to practice anyway.)

So we get there and we’re first in line, because I’m overzealous and I think that everyone’s going to the mall to meet Santa on a Friday morning. So without anyone to use an example, B was not happy to be sitting on a stranger’s lap (I can’t say I blame him) and he basically made this face the whole time:

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I love this photo so much.

And PS. he was totally fine once we got him out of there. Like, completely happy.

On Friday night, we finally cleaned off our kitchen table, which has been accumulating STUFF for, like, weeks. And somewhere near the bottom of one of the piles, Drew found a sticker advent calendar, which I think my parents brought over for us around B’s birthday. So Drew sat down with B to catch up on advent stickers, and we’ve never done stickers before, so neither of us was sure how it was going to go. But B patiently took each sticker that Drew handed him, and stuck it on (or near) the paper tree. Drew and I were all heartwarmed already. But it gets better.

The next day, we did one sticker (in classic advent style). Fine.

The next day, we did one sticker…and then B started saying, “More, more,” and I tried to explain the premise of the advent calendar, but that he could LOOK at the stickers. And then he took the page over to Drew and said, “Help” (which he has just recently started saying). And Drew was like, “Oh that’s adorable.” And then B said, “Peese?” And we both knew it was all over. Drew and I decided that since we had already messed up the first 12 days, what did the second half of the advent calendar really matter, when your toddler just asked you for help please? So they did the rest of the stickers, which was really one of my favorite things that happened this weekend.

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The third, and possibly most heartwarming, story is from Sunday. We were doing laundry at Drew’s grandma’s condo, where the laundry room connects the house to the garage, and has a door on either end. I was detained elsewhere for a minute, when I got a phone call from Drew. I answered and he said, “He locked me in the garage! And then locked himself in the laundry room!”

I opened the door to the laundry room, where B was just standing, looking around. And then I opened the locked garage door and found Drew cracking up. What would he have done if I wasn’t there?

So Merry Christmas everyone, and I hope you’re having a wonderful holiday season, whether or not you have a toddler around to spice things up. =)

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Filed under Awesome, Family, Humor, Nonfiction, Sentiment

The Correct Way to Work a Holiday Gift Exchange

Tonight is our work holiday party, complete with yankee swap gift exchange. In honor of this tradition, I thought I would reuse this blog post from a few years back, which basically sums up my priorities and my wisdom in one anecdote.

Originally posted on Dec 14, 2011.

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Alternate title: My Shameful, Gleeful Secret.

Despite knowing about my work holiday party, and the “yankee swap” type gift exchange, I didn’t remember to buy a gift until the day of the party. (Also despite browsing at Macy’s over the weekend, picking things up and wondering if they were appropriate for a holiday gift exchange.)

On my lunch break I ran to Target to pick up some boring stuff and also look for a gift. On the drive there I decided to buy a book, because I’ve talked about books with several other people here, and I thought that would be a nice diversion from the numerous bottles of wine that I was sure would be there.

I looked through the book section, but there wasn’t really much of interest. There was a wall of trashy teen romance, a wall of trashy adult romance, a wall of trashy thriller/suspense…and then I saw a single copy of Stephen King’s recent collection of novellas: Full Dark, No Stars.

I know of at least two other people in the office who like Stephen King, and he’s pretty mainstream, so I thought it would be a better gift than, you know, Twilight or The Chocolate Cat Caper or something like that. (Although, I also thought about getting Dollhouse, the book “written” by the three Kardashians.)

So I bought the book and wrapped it in a little bag, and told no one except Jonathan what it was. I deposited it under the tree at the holiday party and waited for the gift exchange to begin.

Soon I started feeling like I needed to leave the party soon – later that night Drew, Erin and I were going to a screening of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – and for a minute or two I wondered if I could get the present back out the door if I left before we started the swap.

But then we all settled down and the fun began, and I’m glad I stayed, because it was super fun. The entire thing (there were around 30 people participating) took about 90 minutes.

I was number 26 in the lineup and I had decided I wouldn’t just select my own gift, even though Full Dark, No Stars was one of the few Stephen King books I didn’t own. When my turn came, I stole a set of balsamic vinegar and olive oil from someone else, and I was very happy with that steal. After all, I could always go back to Target and buy another copy of the book.

In a few more turns, a girl sitting next to me selected my gift, and once she’d unwrapped it, she looked less than enthusiastic. No one seemed to want to steal it either. Perhaps I had completely misjudged this group – and neither of the people who I know like Stephen King were at the party.

In another few turns, the hostess of the party stole my balsamic vinegar and olive oil, and I made a snap decision to steal Full Dark, No Stars. Which I did. That girl opened another present and seemed much happier with it. No one stole the book from me after that.

When I got home, I told Drew the whole story and then displayed the book, and he said, “Well, I guess that worked out perfectly.”

And it did.

Merry Christmas!

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Filed under Awesome, Books, Holidays, Humor, Memoir, Nonfiction, Work

tbt: Theatre Obsessions

I remember this one time, in my sophomore year of college, there was this production of Falsettos. I wasn’t working on the show but I had seen it a couple times – I don’t think we ever ran a show longer than two weekends, but I had to go to a tech rehearsal for a class. I had become obsessed with the show…an obsession that’s lasted for the next decade.

It was a Sunday night, closing night of Falsettos. I wanted to go see it one more time. But there was another show closing that weekend – a one-man show by another student. I’ll call him Ivan. The show was called Ivan on Ivan: In Reverb! Good gravy.

I had promised the stage manager of the show, a friend of mine and someone I looked up to, that I would come see his show that night. But by late afternoon I was just lying on the floor of our apartment, tormented because I wanted to take my very last opportunity to see Falsettos. I was completely torn. I was a little over-dramatic.

The moral twin of my Gemini sensibility must have been on duty that night, because I went to Ivan on Ivan: In Reverb! But I regretted it almost immediately. I mean, it was just ridiculous. At intermission, I left and went down the street to Falsettos, where I snuck into the back. Man, that’s a good show.

The thing about theatre is that if you love something, there really isn’t a way to just save it and rewatch it. Even a bootleg version of something isn’t the same as being there. And I know there’s bad theatre. I have seen bad theatre. I have peeked at my phone to see how much longer this act could possibly be. I have left things at intermission (not often, but I’ve done it). I’ve seen things out of an obligation and not necessarily out of joy.

But then there are the things that you can’t get enough of. When I saw Wicked for the first time (cheesy example, I know), it was the first time in years and years of shows that the curtain call ended, the lights came up, and I was like, “Okay, reset everything, I will watch this all again from the beginning RIGHT NOW.”

I went years without having that feeling about a show. But I am having it again. Right now. (This is not a marketing ploy.)

My work is currently presenting Sweeney Todd. I love Sweeney Todd. It’s one of my favorite musicals. This particular production has something extra. It’s addictive. I can’t stop watching it. It has been running for the last three weeks, and closes this Sunday. I have seen it five times so far, which is already two times more than I have seen any other work show. I saw it yesterday and again today. I am sitting here debating whether I should go back for the closing performance on Sunday night. The only reason I’m not sprawled out on the carpet, conflicted over my decision, is that I have a couple days to work it out. If I don’t go, I will never see this particular production, with this particular cast and set and direction again. But maybe the five times I’ve gone should be enough.

This time, instead of missing out on a student-written one-man show, I would be missing out on precious weekend time with my family. I would be driving all the way down the peninsula a whole extra time. But I would be helping out by filling a seat, and I would be getting one more chance to bask in the pure joy that I experience while watching a show about an insane guy who kills people, and his girlfriend who bakes them into pies. “God That’s Good.”

I think I might have my answer.

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Filed under Awesome, Humor, Memoir, Nonfiction, Theatre, Work

tbt: National Poetry Day

Today is National Poetry Day. The National Poetry Day theme for 2014, according to a random website I clicked on, is “Remember.” How fitting for a throwback Thursday!

So here is a poem I found on my laptop, in the “old computer stuff” section, which I cruise through whenever I want to remember what it was like to be 17. I don’t like staying there long. I was more prolific, but way angsty, and overall pretty obnoxious. There is something to be said for just being content.

This is from April 2002. It might actually be two separate things. None of the stuff in this particular document is titled…although there is some very interesting formatting in terms of font, size, use of ampersands, and justification.

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I woke this
morning
with a
longing so
fierce I thought
it must have
been
someone else’s.

When you left
I burned
everything.

 

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Filed under Being a girl, Humor, Memoir, Sentiment, Writing