The bearded lady wants to give you some advice…

I was just going to write this to my daughter, but I’ll share my thoughts broadly – you’re welcome.

Thanks to Ulta, Sephora, and YouTube stars like Jeffree Star (RIP his relationship to Nathan) – we all think we are skin/make-up experts. Believe me, I’m the leader of that group. I’m all about knowing and trying every single product that comes out. I’ve written many many blogs on my love of all things that can smooth, flatten, brighten, tighten, etc. I’m for all of it. I also love getting a good, violent facial. Scrape it, squeeze it, laser it…bring it all on. But I’m really nervous about something that’s been creeping up everywhere.

Dermaplaning. At home. With expensive or cheap tools you can buy online or at a local store near you. The benefits they tout are vast. Remove peach fuzz and have more radiant, glowing skin! Make-up goes on easier and lasts longer! Skin feels and looks smoother and softer! Sounds like a revelation. But it’s not. It’s shaving your face. Just plain old shaving your whole face. The razors look different than the ones we use on our legs, but the concept is the same.

Listen ladies, I get it. I’m hairy too. If you saw me with my natural eyebrows and upper lip, it wouldn’t be pretty. I mean I was a junior in high school before I detached my unibrow. As a mom, I was ahead of the pack letting my daughter know we could wax, shave, peel anything she wanted whenever she was ready. I think that was in 4th grade. Believe me, I get it. And, if I’m honest, I’ve had days where I didn’t have time to go get a quick wax when I reached for my razor and took care of my upper lip issues. There’s no shame in that game. You do what you need to.

But this idea of shaving your face …no no no. Just don’t do it. Remember when they told us that pencil thin eyebrows were cool? Or that fat free bread would help us lose weight? All lies. Don’t buy into it!

Your peach fuzz is fine, leave it alone. Your uni-brow and mustache are not, take care of that now. Please people. Let’s go back to our face masks and charcoal treatments and put the face razors down. I love you.

Keeping you informed…

This rice almost killed me. I almost died.

We had Indian take-out two nights ago. My favorite. Im an Indian that loves Indian food. I’m an easy profile. One of the best things about getting Indian take-out is leftovers. I’m guaranteed 3 meals from that one order. It’s very practical and frugal of me. I save tens of dollars.

Last night I was on my own for dinner and I decided to use the rice to make Lemon, peanut rice. It’s a very complicated recipe that involves frying up rice with lemon and peanuts. I usually add half a red onion and some small chili peppers too – told you I was an easy profile.

It was a busy day, and I was still working when I finished up the rice and sat down at the computer to write one last email. And then it happened. I felt it. Two kernels of rice lodged themselves in my throat. In some pipe in my throat. I could totally feel them. I could also feel myself going into a massive coughing fit. You know the kind. You can hardly breath. You’re making choking noises so convincingly that people around you are in a panic, but you can’t stop and let them know it’s fine…that you may pee your pants coughing, but it’s not going to end in death. You’re pretty sure.

Even my son took off his gaming headphones and came down to check on me. Or atleast opened his door to ask his sister if everything was ok before going back to what he was doing.

In the words of Ned Ryerson,” it was a doozy!” (name that movie). Those two kernels had their fun.

What’s the lesson here? Don’t email and eat? Stop inhaling my food? Throw food out after 2 days? I dunno. What I do know is that the rice was delicious. Worth death delicious? Nope. So did I eat the rest after my coughing fit? You bet I did.

That’s it. Just sharing. I’m alive. Xoxo

31 days 3 things

I don’t do deprivation. I also don’t go on big diets. I’ve never done Keto or Paleo or anything like that. In high school I did Slimfast. Once. But I blame Oprah. She rolled out that wheel of fat and I couldn’t resist. For you young kids out there that don’t know what I’m talking about – YouTube it.

I know what you’re thinking. It’s January. Here comes the obligatory post about resolutions and diets. But that’s not what this is.

This post is about habits. I’ve formed some bad habits. Nothing criminal or overly damaging, but bad none the less. There were 3 things that ramped up for me these last few months. Facebook(FB), booze and going out to eat.

3 things that are all innocuous on the surface but I was taking to new heights.

Booze… I don’t really need to explain right? Thanksgiving to Christmas was full of “cheer”. And between Christmas and New Year’s? Let’s just say I was “cheerful” from lunch to dinner to bed *hiccup*.

Facebook… oh I love social media. I’ve told you that already. But when social media is more entertaining that being actually social. Time for a pause. A respite. Btw I’m not giving up Instagram. Maybe in 2021.

Eating out… I love eating out! It’s the best. Not just the no cooking part, but the whole experience. Picking where to go, what to order, what to drink, etc. I love it all. It was/is one of my favorite hobbies. When we travel the first thing I do is find places to eat. But lately, the fun is slipping away. We’ve eaten everywhere in town. We’ve eaten everywhere in surrounding towns. We’re locals at multiple places. We don’t even need to look at most menus. It’s too much. We need a break. I’m not saying I’m cooking all the time – there’s no shame in the DoorDash game- but enough with the restaurants.

That’s it. Just three small changes for January. Not forever. Just 31 days to develop some new habits. A palate cleanser. Nothing more.

This isn’t for weight loss (you’ll never take my carbs from me!)and I have zero desire to do some sort of self evolution. It’s not that dramatic. I just want to see if I can re-adjust my current normal. Just tilting the ship upright a bit.

My blogs post automatically to my FB, in case you’re wondering if I’m cheating already. I’m not, and I’ve deleted the app from my phone and computer. I’ll miss seeing all the birthdays and photos, but I’ll be back Feb 1…unless I fold like a cheap suit. Which is fine too. I like cheap suits.

New decade, who dis?

Don’t worry. I’m not going to go through everything that happened to me in the last 10 years. But I thought it would be fun to do some non sequiturs. Fun maybe over promising…. but here goes:


  • At the beginning of this decade I had an 11 and 6 year old. Next week that 11 year old leaves for her last semester, senior year in California. The 6 year old is learning how to parallel park. The dingo ate my babies
  • Chickpeas love olive oil. It’s true. Alison Roman taught me that. And Brad from Bon Appetit taught me more than I ever wanted to know about fermentation. Yes… kimchi… we get it we get it. In the last year I’ve nearly stopped watching Food Network (except Ina ofcourse). Who needs it?! NYT Cooking and Bon App have YouTube shows that actually show you how to cook! It’s a revelation. Everything I’ve made this year that’s impressed anyone came from those two places. Closely tied for third… King Arthur Flour Instagram and Smitten Kitchen Instagram. Do yourself a favor and carve out 5-9 hours to dive deep into those sites. It’s worth it
  • I went to far too many funerals.
  • But went to plenty of weddings too
  • I met some really good people
  • And met a few shitty ones too
  • We lost a cat. Santa brought 2 more. That bastard
  • My sister finally let the calendar go! What’s the calendar you ask?? Oh. I’ll tell you. In 2010, my sister made a calendar for the whole family as a Christmas gift. It was genius. No buying ridiculous things for people who will never use them- everyone gets a calendar. Through the years we’ve asked, no begged her, to rotate who gets to do the calendar. And every year she holds it hostage (yes it was her idea, what’s your point?). So imagine my extreme surprise when she said she no longer wanted to do it. Admittedly it was during a highly stressful time in her life. Juggling a newborn, job, life, etc. She was probably exhausted and tired when she said it. We should have said no… that’s your gift, you don’t really want to give it away…But guess what?! We didn’t. It was ours for the taking. I think we did a coin toss. I don’t remember. My cousin won it. I was devastated. But in a turn of highly fortunate events, she passed on it too! I was the winner! Or whatever you call the last one standing. Doesn’t matter. It’s mine. At least until 2030
  • I love to have people over. It’s a known fact. I’m always up for it. When I met my husband in 1991, he was… shall we say… slightly less social. It took a long long time to convert him. I’m proud to say that he’s almost more social than I am now. It’s a hosting miracle. I’m pretty good at it. I feel confident in my abilities to feed and welcome. But there are two people in my life that are freaking ninjas at it. I’m talking to you Katherine and Marcella! Holy moly. Next level hosting. That’s the badge they’d get. It’s not just about WHAT they put out. It’s HOW they put it out. And it doesn’t feel contrived or pushy. It just makes you feel taken care of. I’ll keep having people over and keep trying to be as cool as them. Trying
  • The girl gang was born. Our family welcomed the coolest, cutest, most savage set of girl babies in the last few years. Norah was first, followed by Reya, then the power twins – Jane and Catherine, and finally came Lila. Boys drool. Girls definitely rule. I’d show you pics but then I’d have to kill you
  • Speaking of girl gangs…no list of things that have happened to me in the last 10 years would be complete without mention of our annual, and now that our kids are older, biannual girls weekend! Two Aprils, lots of booze and non-stop laughing. It’s the best medicine for all my ails
  • When I picked my career and my life partner years ago, I had no idea both would take me to so many cool places. From Oktoberfest in Germany, or sitting in Grand Place in Brussels having a Leffe, to The Secret Lagoon in Iceland. It’s been a trip. Literally. What’s next? Can’t wait
  • Giving is better than getting. Liz K taught me that. She also made it ridiculously easy to do good in our neighborhood. Let me explain. All my life I’ve given to big causes. St. Judes, Unicef, etc. When there’s a major disaster, who gives? This guy, that’s who. But it felt… distant. Transactional. Which isn’t a bad thing. But 2 years ago I saw a Facebook post for a group called Neighbor in Need. A local mom had begun galvanizing help for women and families who lived in our surrounding area and who were having a hard time. It was/is everything from meal trains and small donations, to a holiday drive this past Christmas that helped hundreds of children. Here’s the beautiful thing. She makes it so easy. Don’t have time to cook? Venmo some money. Don’t have extra money? Offer to deliver one of the meals or pack supplies. It’s genius. We live in a really nice town. Most of our issues involve dog poop left on lawns (there’s a Dateline special coming up). But we have people among us that have real problems. Not enough food. Not enough resources. Invisible problems if you drive around town, or check out the town Facebook page. But Liz sees them. And she’s helped me see them too
  • Oh gel manicures. Why did you come into my life?? You’re easy. Fast. And you’ve destroyed my nail beds. I used to be a Ballet Slipper, short and square gal. Now I’m wearing Como Se Llama on long ovals! Who even am I? Well this past month it happened. My nails revolted. They’ve had enough. Now my nails look like they belong to a 3rd grade boy. Short. Nubby. Naked. It was my own fault. I have no one to blame but me. And OPI
  • Finally, I’m ending my decade with the same haircut that I began it in… except now I wear reading glasses. On top of my contacts. Joy

So there you go. Decade down. New one up to bat. This year holds big things for us too. A couple of weddings (so far), a graduation (my baby girl), and a few more laughs I hope. I started this blog because it made me happy. I hope you are still doing the things that make you happy too. Here’s to the roaring 20s! Peace and love, peace and love

Pasta Non Pronto

I spent the day yesterday covered in flour (semolina and all purpose), and I was thrilled! A few weeks ago, at a neighborhood party, I found out that two of my lovely neighbors, Larry and Marcela, knew how to make pasta from scratch. I started asking a lot of questions and then blurted out,” would you teach me?” They agreed and our day of “not ready” pasta or pasta non pronto came together.

We did what any normal, food obsessed people would do. We had a meeting to talk through what we would make. The types of pasta, the sauces, the wine…. oh there would be wine!

There would be 3 different pasta courses. Ravioli, spaghetti, and fettuccine. The ravioli would be stuffed with pumpkin and served with a butter sage sauce. The spaghetti would be served cacio e pepe, which translates to “cheese and pepper” and the fettuccine would have a fra diavolo sauce – which means “among the devil”, it’s a spicy sauce with seafood. To break up the courses we’d start with salad, then some homemade meatballs as apps and then 3 courses of pasta. This is the anti-Keto dinner people. If you’re afraid of carbs… don’t come a knocking.

But before we feasted – we cooked! Oh boy did we cook… here’s a look at my favorite day this year! Words wouldn’t do it justice, so here’s the photos…

Humble beginnings
That filling was so good we could have just eaten it with a spoon and we might have.
Have you ever seen anything prettier?
Little pockets of perfection
My two fabulous teachers.
A pecan, sage, garlic butter sauce to die for, and the lovely chef who made it!

And now… we eat!

We ate the spaghetti cacio e pepe before I could take a pic… but it existed. And it was amazing.

This is my happy pasta face….

If you can, find some generous, loving people who want to spend a Sunday cooking pasta with you..that’s my happy face.

Ps. My 16 year old son opted out of the fresh pasta and requested this type of pasta for his dinner. Kraft pasta pronto 🙂

Call it the “everything’s fine” filter….

Sometimes the picture doesn’t tell the whole story. We all know that. This is the age of social media. We filter, we tweak, we tune-up. Every post or pic looks like it was smooth and effortless. I thought I’d share one of my favorite pictures from this past weekend and give you some scoop on what happened right before this cute shot was taken.

First, some context: It’s my cousin’s baby shower. That’s her in the adorable dress with the adorable bump. We were so excited to celebrate with her and her hubby.

My sister and I had helped her plan all the details. I wanted to be there early enough to help set-up so I came the day before. Drove to my hometown, spent the night with my mother.

I Got up early, showered and came down to breakfast with my parents. I was dressed for the day but didn’t have my make-up on or my hair done.

My mother said, “I like your gown.” Hmmm – gown? It was a long dress for sure, but I didn’t focus on it.

Some more context: the night before, after dinner, my mother had laid out nightgowns for me in the bedroom. This may seem strange to many people – I think an immigrant parent is needed to fully understand this. There’s always a clean nightgown waiting for my stayover. There’s also a brand new toothbrush, toothpaste and anything else you need. If, for any reason you ask for something my mother doesn’t have for you… you better know that there’ll be 19 of those things next time. To make up for this time. It’s very sweet. On this visit, however, I’d brought my own pjs. I’m 47. It’s completely normal to want to wear my own pajamas. Right??

This did not go over well. She’d laid out a winter one and a summer one – what was the problem? Why couldn’t I just wear those? After a 10 min of conversation, I convinced her that I was ok but so thankful for the options. I had my own nightgown.

Back to breakfast. Once done, I ran upstairs, put on what I considered a full face of make-up, blew-out my hair before the eventual drop of humidity would kink it out, and headed out the door. As I was leaving my mother said,” oh you’re changing out of your nightgown at the party?”

It took me a minute to catch-on. My what? I calmly smiled and said, nope, this is my actual dress for the party. Not my nightgown. Up until that moment I thought it was a really cute dress.

What’s the moral of the story kids?

Yes, just wear her nightgown.

Anyhoo I’m in such a good mood about the shower I don’t even get fazed. I get into the car, in my nightgown dress and head to the venue.

In the car were the flowers, the cupcake toothpick flags, the pink and pumpkin colored chocolate covered strawberries, the gifts, the welcome sign and some other things we needed to decorate. Because I didn’t have enough stuff in my car, I made a pit-stop and bought balloons – just in case.

I pulled up to the venue, parked right at the front door blocking the small entry way but decided it was ok because it was just for a short time. I just wanted to run in and grab a cart to take all the stuff inside.

I came back outside with the cart, opened the driver’s side door to unlock the trunk, dropped my keys on the seat and pushed the unlock button and shut the door. But it wasn’t the unlock button. I locked the car. For the very first time in as long as I can remember… I locked my keys in the car. Right on the front seat. An hour and a half before everyone was going to show up.

Did I mention I also left my purse in the car? Did I mention my phone was in that purse in the car?

I stood there staring at what I’d done for about a minute and the baby momma-to-be showed up. I put on my biggest smile and said, “can I have your phone?”.

Long story short – everyone should have AAA or is it Triple A or maybe Triple AAA. It’s worth every penny. Especially when you’re blocking a major entrance to a venue with your big old Subaru and have everything you need for someone’s party in the trunk. Everyone should also always serve mimosas at baby showers.

We got everything out. 30 min to spare.

So now look at the picture again. A couple of mimosas and a quick break-in later, everything was as perfect as it looked. Nightgown dress and all.

High highs and low lows

August. You crazy, nutty bitch. You’ve given and you’ve taken away. You’ve made me insanely happy and insanely sad. At the end of this year, when I think about all the best times and the worst times – I’ll think of you.

I’ll think of my daughter finishing up a summer in New York City doing an internship. She loved the work. She loved the city. She loved her roommate. Every time I spoke to her I heard excitement and confidence. I don’t know what I would have done if a child of mine hadn’t loved the city that I love. I would have gotten over it, sure. But I would have held a grudge, truthfully. I would have looked at her with a raised eyebrow…. what’s there not to love? But thankfully she felt exactly the same way I feel. Her exit interview with the CEO included an offer for her to come back and work there. Ofcourse it did. Who wouldn’t want her? A high high for sure. This is her below – one in from the left..the one with the big smile on her face.

When she finished with that internship and finally came home, we all went away for our annual summer vacation. This year, to Iceland. It seemed more like a week on the moon. Beautiful. Striking. Gorgeous. Everywhere you turned looked like a green screen version of reality. Even now, when we look at photos – they look fake. And the country is as friendly as is it beautiful. We spent a week exploring, climbing, hiking, swimming, eating and sometimes fighting (let’s be honest). But it was still perfect. Another high high.

While my girl was spending her summer bulking up her LinkedIn profile, my son spent the summer learning how to surf. He never took a formal lesson (to my chagrin), he just learned from friends. He fell in love with it. Which made total sense. He’s a great swimmer, he loves his skateboard….ofcourse he’d love surfing! It all added up. Once he’d had his fill of beach trips he started looking for a job. I suggested he take a lifeguard class, and miraculously, he agreed. He passed the class and got a job as a lifeguard at a local cougar haunt..errr I mean gym. My little baby boy was going to save lives! Ok…not really. But he was going to watch little brats while their parents got drunk at the pool bar – that’s something to be proud of right? The kid who I have to sometimes remind to brush his teeth, got a job. He had to fill out a W9! What is happening here??!! A high for sure.

I have one more little high. My work team got together for an offsite. We met for a day of eating and drinking and swimming. No agenda. No work talk (that wasn’t juicy gossip). Just fun. It’s a humbling, lucky thing to get along with the people you work with. It’s a miracle to like them. Maybe even love them! This group of people that I work with makes the job feel like fun. And we’ve been through some ugly times. I mean…ugly. But at the end of the day – we stick together. I can’t imagine my time at this company without them. High high! This pic isn’t from this year but I love it.

So that leaves the low. The low low.

And it really was the lowest low.

About a year and a half ago, my husband’s aunt was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer.

Let me back up.

Mary Ohl was born Mary Dahill – we all called her Dee Dee. Sister to Terry and Peggy. Mother to her boys. Wife to Dennis and then Walter (or Teddy, as we know him).

Fiery redhead and New York City hellraiser, she spent her early years drinking, working and causing overall havoc. Eventually she settled down – had her boys – and became a nurse.

By the time I met her, she had already retired. She was no longer a nurse. She no longer drank. No longer raised havoc – atleast not in the bars in the city. By the time I met her – she was a devoted mother to her son Dennis. Dennis was born with a form of retardation that she never actually explained to any of us. All we knew was that he was special needs, but I’m not sure we could ever verbalize what he had. Which is exactly how she liked it. She told me once that during Dennis’ early years, she tried to ignore his disability. She pretended it didn’t exist. She ignored it. She had a ton of guilt about those fuzzy years that were drowned in alcoholism and dysfunction.

It wasn’t until she got sober that she found her true calling. To give Dennis a life. A big, full, complete life. She spent over two decades researching every resource avialable to him, every opportunity due him. She joined national organizations, gave speeches, helped find programs to help him – anything she could do to solidify his independance, she did. She even helped other parents find the same resources she found.

Today, Dennis is a happy, nurtured man. He has a job. He lives on his own (with some angels who take care of him). He makes his own decisions and choices. He loves music and he loves to dance, like his momma.

As a mother, I think I’m doing all I can to make my kid’s lives better. I usually feel pretty good about it – until I compare it to what Dee Dee did. The cold, hard focus she had to make sure he had everything owed to him was and is a lesson.

She was amazing. She had a wicked sense of humor, she was overly generous but at the same time – she held a mean grudge. She laughed hard. She yelled hard. She was a dycotomy, like all amazing people are.

We found out about her Cancer from other people. She never called or told anyone. In fact she was pretty pissed when we all showed up to her hospital room before her surgery. Even then she pretended all was well, annoyed that we were making such a big fuss about it.

The day she came out of her surgery, she started planning Dennis’ 50th Birthday party. And boy was it a party!

12 months after that, a few weeks after Dennis’ 51st birthday party, she took a downturn. There’s a Tom Petty song that I think of whenever I think of her….it’s called “Swingin”. The line in the song is, “..and she went down….swinging”. That’s Dee Dee. Swinging.

We came back from Iceland on Saturday. We went to go see her on Sunday. She passed a day later. The lowest low. The bottom of the lows. An angry low. I didn’t realize how angry I’d be. I hated them all. The hospital. The doctors. The oncologist. The social workers. The nurses. I felt like they all betrayed her. Betrayed all of us. Why didn’t they prepare us for how quickly things would go downhill? Why didn’t they tell us how drastic the road would be? It was a low low low.

But, in all honesty, I think if you would ask her, she wouldn’t agree. She lived on her own terms. She did exactly what she wanted to do. She never ever followed advice or listened to anyone – stubborn to the end. She lived every day after her diagnosis by her own terms. Her rules. She was a force of nature. And nature is beautiful and destructive and unpredictable. It all makes sense. It’s probably exactly as she planned it.

August is over. September is here. This weekend our family will celebrate new babies coming this fall and spend time planning a happy wedding next summer. The weekend after that we continue the celebration with another family wedding, and the happy times continue. Just like Dee Dee would want them to.

Here’s to the high highs and even the low lows. I hope they never end.

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