Tag Archives: food

37th Birthday: Part One

So far, so good…



I slept in a bit. Woke with the mini-me in time to say goodbye to Em and MQD.


Kicked it in the kitchen with the salad spinner for a bit.  (Side note: A salad spinner is an excellent baby gift!! Better than you think. It has provided hours of fun.)


Hit the gym for a spin class and a short run in my new hat! Thank you very much, Laura!!  (HA! You might kill me for linking to this, but look what I found when I was hunting for your website!!)



And now I think I am going to close my eyeballs for a few minutes.  It appears that turning 37 has exhausted Lucy.

Stay tuned for part two when I share the rest of my birthday with two more special people.  And sushi.  And cake.  And more cake.  And a gin and tonic.  And cake.


Just call me Norm.

I remember when I used to have a bar. My bar. I went there almost every night. If I missed a night or even two I felt like it had been ages since I had been there. If I missed three days, forget it. I started to convince myself that there would be new regulars by the time I got there, a new bartender, even worse – a new doorman.

You guys are “my bar.” And this is my way of apologizing. Here. It’s my ID. I will show it to the doorman in an effort to say “Hey, I don’t expect you to know who I am anymore, I know it seems like I haven’t been here in weeks, but it has only been six days.”

What have I been doing? Umm. Nothing extraordinary. I have fallen in to a good routine. I have been to the gym every day. Even days that I did not want to go. At all.


I have read board books until my eyes have crossed. I have passed these rhyming nonsensical books off to my seven year old and asked her to read them. We all read and read and read some more. I love that my sweet girls like books. I do. But so help me, a day without “Goodnight, Moon” would not be a day without sunshine.


I made the most incredibly perfect sunny side up eggs. The yolks were golden and they required not even a pinch of salt. It has been well over a year since I have purchased an egg in a store.


I get my eggs from a friend. This week I met that friend for lunch. I left with two dozen eggs from Heritage Acres Farm and some knowledge. After lunch we took a quick stroll around downtown and she clued me in to the fact that there is an unbelievable little vintage shop near the post office. Uniquitiques. I am a sucker for vintage aprons and linens. A rack of cute dresses that probably won’t fit a girl like me with a nursing rack. But there was a book case of vintage boots. Vintage. Cowgirl Boots. Oh, hello. A sweet lady said “Oh, you like the boots, follow me.” We followed her through her maze of a shop.

And then my eyes fell out of my head and I dropped to my knees.


Row upon row upon row of boots, y’all. Rooms full of boots.  ROOMS.  They’re not cheap. But they don’t have to be. For the gal that wants an unbelievable pair of boots and wants to shrug and say “these old things?” when someone says “Good gawd, those are Gorgeous!” this is the promised land.


I took Lucy in for her 12 month well visit. Two months late.  She is a-ok.  She is long and lean with a freakishly large noggin.

I took myself in to the doc for my annual reminder that I have allergies.  Some years my seasonal allergies rest in my sinus cavities and give me headaches that feel like dirty, dirty Mad Dog hangovers.  This year I am feeling lucky to have an ear infection. I skipped a swim workout and opted for extra cardio instead.  Lucy skipped a morning nap and we made up for late in the afternoon.  A couple of hours of shut eye and we are feeling pretty super.




I have Easter lights up in my kitchen.  The Easter Bunny will be stuffing plastic eggs with jelly beans and chucking them around the yard this weekend.  No chocolate in the eggs this year, the weather is too outrageous.  It was in the 30s this week but it could be 70 by Sunday.


So, that’s what you missed.  A whole lotta nothing.  I have fallen in to a good routine.  Just in time to hit the road for Spring Break and mess it all up, but that’s how it always works, right?  Get your kids and your house and your head in to a groove and then turn it on its head.

Speaking of heads.  There was a day this week, maybe even two, that I did not hate my hair.  I still long for my sock bun and I am sick and tired of sporting the “I am growing out my bangs, what’s YOUR problem?” face and accompanying barrettes. But just one day that I look in the mirror and think “Ok.  So, that kind of looks like it isn’t a wig or someone else’s head.” Yeah.  That’s not too bad.

How about you?  What’s shakin’? I haven’t seen you in forever.





Keep it simple, stupid.

I have a knack for making things more difficult than they need to be.  I imagine conversations that will probably never take place.  When I drive I am thinking about what I will say when I arrive if I am late (even though I will be toting along the finest excuse for running late there ever was, a 20 pound machine that ejects bodily fluids at random intervals.) When I nurse my baby in public I prepare clever responses to judgey looks, even though I am one of few women that has actually never been on the receiving end of one.

Lately, as I keep putting one foot in front of the other aimlessly, I am mentally preparing some kind of justification.  Lucy is 13 months old.  Emily would rather be with her pals than with me after school.  But what I am doing here, at home, is important.  It is maybe even more special to me to be home with the girls now as they get older than it was in the early days.  And I like being available to volunteer at school.  I have the time to shop sales for the things we need.  And we save a lot of money on groceries with me being home, cooking every day. And and and … I could go on. But no one ever asks me “So, when are you going back to work? Why are you still home?’

Probably more important than the nameless, faceless strangers that I imagine asking me that question is that my husband, the one person who has an opinion that counts, he isn’t pushing me.  I shot him a line the other day “Don’t forget I have that committee meeting tonight.”  It was his second day at his brand new job.  And I was nagging him about when he would be home.  His reply was short and sweet.  But it has eclipsed all of the imaginary nay-sayers in my mind.  “No problem.  I am glad you’re doing these things.”

I don’t know what I am going to do in the next few years.  I am still running in place.  Two miles today.  And a 1600 yard swim.  I’m not even all that anxious about the fact that I don’t know where I am going.  Because when I get to the finish line MQD will be there.

I can’t see the path but the finish line is crystal clear.   With tears in my eyes I’ll say “I did it!” and with his signature smirk, that one that drives me nuts in every sense of the word he’ll say “Of course, you did.”


20130228-134803.jpgToday’s challenge – Invent a new way to peel a potato.  I am a red bliss potato, leave the skins on kind of girl.  But when I have to peel them I have a gadget, of course.  I am a lover of the kitchen gadget.  This obsession is fed  by my mother-in-law, another lover of the kitchen gadget.  A peeler that slips over your finger.  And like all great deals in the kitchen store, you can’t just have one, you need two.  One of them is serrated, for my serrated peeling needs.


Last night I peeled potatoes.  (And then I spent quite some time trying to take a picture of mashed potatoes that looked appetizing.) I didn’t invent a new way.  But I didn’t use my kitchen gadget, either.  I just grabbed a paring knife and peeled those bad boys.  You know, it was really simple.  Making things more complicated than necessary might be one of those things I used to do when I was young if I keep this up.  I could get used to it.

So, day 91 – I am not going to reinvent potato peeling, motherhood or marriage.  I am just going to keep doing what I am doing.  Because it’s working.


It’s no mystical secret that life is a careful balancing act. Every single decent therapist I have ever spoken to has said within twenty minutes “Well, Kelly, it sounds like you need to find some balance and I can’t tell you how to do that.” Well, I am not forking out $125 an hour for you to ask me questions.

Balance. I have spent my entire adult life looking for it. Work and play time. Ambition and relaxation. Exercise and diet. Save money for your future but live in the moment.

Looking crazed, I thought I’d be gone for hours!! Free as a bird!!

I work really hard to keep balance in my life currently. Take care of everyone else and take care of me. It isn’t easy. I left the house this afternoon with the intention of staying gone for a few hours. I have never been away from Lucy for more than about 90 minutes but MQD and Emily were both home. She had a full belly. She had just had a nap. She would be fine and I needed to get out. Bad.

MQD is pretty good about not crying wolf. I wasn’t gone 45 minutes before he sent the first text “We have a very sad baby.” I was getting my nails done. Yup. I am that shallow. Once a month I take an hour for myself and that is what I choose to do. Judge me, if you like. It makes me feel pretty. I sent him one back “Bring her to me, I can’t leave just yet.” He got things calmed down on the homefront and ultimately I was even able to stop and get milk on the way home. That’s right. I went to the grocery store. Party on, Wayne.

I could have stayed out longer. But I wanted to be home. Walking through stores window shopping or sitting somewhere drinking a cup of coffee wishing I was at home would not make me happy. I took my perfectly manicured fingernails home and strapped on an apron. Emily and I sat on the floor in the kitchen and we grated six zucchinis while Lucy took out every single piece of tupperware we own. And I was happy.

That might have been enough Balance for the day. But enough is never enough for me.

After I whipped up some ridiculously good zucchini bread (slammed full of vegetables and almonds for protein power!) I sat back and thought “I’m not cooking another god damned thing today!”

For breakfast tomorrow my family will have delicious zucchini bread made with love and natural sweeteners. For dinner tonight? I taught Emily how to line up Scoops Tostitos chips and place a loving dollop of canned hot dog chili in each one. Then we put some cheese on those bad boys and slid them in the oven.

Because it is all about balance. Em had a fever this weekend and was under the weather. I told her she could have anything she wanted for lunch, anything at all. She picked salad. SALAD.

My girls will grow up loving vegetables. But some day, many years from now, I hope they will both stumble through a 24 hour grocery store after the bars close and grab some Tostito Scoops, a 79 cent can of chili made with godknowswhat and some cheese. Her friends will encourage her to just put them in the microwave (or cook them with their space-aged cell phones) and she’ll say “No way, man, my mom made these when we were kids and you have to take your time and line up the chips and cook them in the oven.”

If it sounds like I hope my kids grow up to occasionally stumble drunkenly through a grocery store and eat food that is one step above low level dog food, yes, I do. They will also probably buy their vegetables from the farmer’s market and recycle like their life depends on it. And that, friends, is Balance.

It’s not hard to picture her drunkenly stumbling around, actually.

Peas, please!!

I can stretch a dollar. It is something I am proud of. When I made the decision to stay home with the girls I wasn’t scared that we would struggle financially.

One of the toughest places to trim the budget is food. I love food. Good food. So last week when our CSA offered English peas still in the pod at a fraction of the usual cost (a fraction, I tell you!!) I jumped on them.

45 minutes later I have a bowl of peas.

I am not a stickler for eat every single thing on your plate. I tend to believe that if you let a kid choose what they eat without emphasis on good foods vs bad they will eat a balanced diet. But tonight. Tonight Em better eat every damn pea on her plate.

And MQD? He eats his veggies first. He’s not a huge fan. Tonight I’m gonna let him get away with a tiny scoop. I worked too hard for these peas to have them swallowed whole.

I can’t get away with a post about MQD’s disdain for vegetables during Mike Month. And I know I’ve already mentioned that he makes me laugh. But it’s bigger than that. It’s the juxtaposition between his Grown Up Self and the silly child he is inside.

Mike on our honeymoon. He ate his vegetables first. And then he decided it was nap time. A big meal can tire a guy out.



Dame’s Almost Famous Chicken & Waffles

What follows is my review of Durham, North Carolina’s Dame’s Almost Famous Chicken & Waffle’s. I should preface this with mention of the fact that I have never before had Chicken & Waffles. I’ve not ever even had Soul Food, I don’t think. Unless you count the Kill Devil Grill’s Bubble & Squeak, poached eggs served over fried chicken and topped with sausage gravy. It’s not classically southern food I don’t think but it is fried chicken at breakfast time and the only time I have ever consumed in excess of 3500 calories in a single meal so it seems to deserve mention.

We walked towards the door past the dozen or so people waiting outside. We overheard the hostess say “there will be a 45 minute wait” to a table of two and we just smiled smugly, like you do when you’re waiting to say “party of 4, we have a reservation.”

The smug look left our faces quickly when the hostess replied stalwartly “we don’t take reservations on Sundays. I’ll be right back” and turned and left us standing at the door.

Every single review I read of Durham’s famed Dame’s Chicken & Waffles mentioned their wait. Without exception they claimed it was worth it. It was the middle of the afternoon. We had a happy baby and a reasonably docile six year old in tow so I suggested we try to appeal to her sense of kindness rather than give her any attitude. Maybe they could seat us in 25 minutes instead of 45? A restaurant known for being busy will not likely care if we were to cop an attitude. My mental scenarios were all unnecessary. She returned to let us know that our reservation was taken by a new employee. She saw where our name had been written down and she would be glad to give us the next available table.  So far, so good.

Emily and I stepped outside for a few minutes. The people waiting for a table were clearly divided into two camps – those trying to figure out what they would be having and those that had been to Dame’s before.

Everyone that was there for the first time had the same excited expression I can remember seeing on a freshman girl at her first fraternity party spring semester. All at once excited and pain-stakingly casual. Unsure of how things we going to unfold. Not entirely certain why they had waited so long to come.

We were greeted warmly immediately after being seated and provided crayons with which to draw on the butcher paper. We clearly fell in to the “Never been here before” camp as our waiter gave us the full low down on the menu. I love a place that tells you instead of their specials which items they do not have today. It suggests everything is special, some items so special that they’ve run out. Instead of feeling like you are being gypped you mentally start planning your next visit before you have even ordered.

One of us is growing our our bangs. It is painful.

We debated. MQD used a random number generator on his phone to decide. And then changed his mind again. Ultimately opting for the “I’ll decide when the waiter asks me” approach. I opted for sweet potato waffles with fried chicken cutlets and a shmear of maple-pecan butter. MQD went with chicken legs, a classic waffle with caramel and cashews with a chocolate hazelnut shmear. Em got a classic waffle with a blueberry shmear. On the side we had grits and macaroni and cheese to share.

“This is too good to be true.” Emily summed it up best. Each item was outstanding all by itself. Every one of us took a bite and instantly said “Try this!” to everyone else at the table.


Our waiter asked how things were and we told him we’d be back, at least a dozen more times so we could work our way around the menu.

As we started slowing down I declared “There will be no dinner served at our house tonight.”

Delicious. All the fuss about chicken and waffles have you baffled? Go to Dame’s. Order anything at all. It will all make sense to you. And order the macaroni and cheese. Just so you can tell me what the added herbs in it are… rosemary and thyme, I think. But there’s something else, too. It must be Soul.