Grab Bag

The last few days of school are here. No more lunches I didn’t make. No more papers I forgot to sign. No more reading logs I forgot to send in. Phew. It’s been a long year. 

I can’t wait to go into summer mom mode. Summer mom is so much nicer and calmer than, say, holiday-crunch mom – or worse yet, new-school-shopping-at-the-last-minute mom. 

I asked my boy what we should get for his teacher as a thank you gift – lord knows she deserves it.  He had just finished telling me about “John the bus driver”. He’s a Yankees fan with 3 grandkids. He likes to fish and go to the beach. He loves candy and once he let all the kids eat leftover Halloween candy on the way home. Thanks John. Ok – so I’m set with what to get for John. 

Me: “But what about Mrs. S?” I say. “What does she like?”. 

The boy: “ummm. She wears sweatshirts everyday.”

Me: “ok, like team sweatshirts? Does she love the Eagles or Phillies or something?”

The boy: “No. Not really. They’re like jean sweatshirts. All different colors.”

Me: “uh huh. ok.”

This exchange made me think of another exchange, one even less helpful than this one, about 12 years ago.

I had just joined a very tight-knit group of event planners who seemed to have a million inside jokes, were constantly making fun of each other, worked insanely hard, and had a great time to boot. The leader of this pack was a woman who would go on to become one of my closest friends, but who at that point, wanted very little to do with me. To gain some brownie points, I wanted to buy the perfect gift when her birthday came around.  I asked one of the other gals that had known her the longest what she liked. Here’s the list she emailed me:

  1. Pugs
  2. The Spanish Language
  3. Traveling

This is not a joke. This was the list. WTF. What was I supposed to do with this list? Pugs? The Spanish Language? Come on! 

Once I got over the outrageousness of it – I laughed my ass off. 

To this day, when someone asks me what to get for someone else, I have to hold myself back from saying,”the Spanish language or pugs”.

 

 

 

Something Fishy

Today’s post was going to be a mushy, gushy Valentine cooking post. A step by step of me making my husband’s all time favorite pasta –  fra diavolo.  Shrimp, bay scallops and squid. I was going to talk about my favorite shortcut. Rao’s tomato sauce. It’s $9 a jar – and yes, making real sauce is easy and it costs $2 – what’s your point? I was going to tell you not to be scared of shortcuts, or squid. That it’s no biggie. I’ve done it before. It cooks in a couple of seconds and people are impressed.  And I had pictures…tons of freaking pictures. I was going to show you how brave I am. Buying, cleaning, chopping squid like it was my business. I’ve done it before. No big thaang.  But then something happened.  (if you are my husband, for the love of god, stop reading this).

As I cleaned the squid…I found….gulp….a little baby fish inside!! 

Hold me.

After I stared at it for a few minutes and the nausea had worn off, I washed my hands and did what all smart people faced with oddities do – I YouTubed it, and googled it, and Wiki’d it, and Web MD’d it (just in case).  The people of the internet told me it’s normal. Happens all the time. Feed it to my cat, etc. But even now, hours later, I shiver when I think of it. Maybe the squid had a last meal and didn’t have time to finish, maybe it was the thing they used to lure the squid. Alls I know is, it ended up in my kitchen.

I’ve been changed people. Some sort of gross seafood cherry has been popped. I had to come to terms with it quickly. My kids or my hubby could not/should not ever see this.  You don’t understand. My husband, I love him, but he’s no adventurous foodie.  He gets really grossed out really quickly. And I couldn’t let my kids see it – the horror the horror!

So like every good mother and wife, I got rid of the evidence and pretended all was good.

Now, safe in my bed, I can finally come to terms with it.

Here’s what I went through folks. Happy f’ing Valentine’s day…

I’ll start with the harmless ones first.  Prepare yourselves. Here’s the shrimp/sauce/squid.  I forgot to take pictures of the scallops because – did I mention – I found food inside the food!! It’s like a bad M.Night Shyamalan plot twist. Back to my sordid story.

IMG_4965   IMG_4969   IMG_4975

Please note that my cutting board is…well..it’s all cut-up. These are not just props people. This stuff gets used!

Here’s the fresh squid. Yes, it looks slimy but there’s no smell and it handles easily. It also easily cuts into the calamari ringlets.

IMG_4970

IMG_4973

And then, as I clean it. I notice this little guy or gal or it. Do you want to hurl like me?

IMG_4975

IMG_4972

I want my mommy.

Reason number 8,222,329 to be a vegetarian: I’ve never found a carrot in the middle of my bagel. Or an almond in my banana. I’ll stop now.