Monday, December 14, 2009


Steps 6-10:

6. "Get back in the kitchen!" I love to cook. I love to bake. I love people to eat my food. But these days I rarely cook a meal. Baby B and I like to eat dinner between 5pm and 6pm, but the hubby doesn't get home until seven or later. Throw in the fact that the hubby never really gets excited about food, and I'm left not caring too much about dinner. I could eat ramen or cereal every night. I'm tired by the evening, so it's just so easy to be lazy. I know that we need to spend more time eating together as a family, and I know that Baby B needs to be exposed to a wider variety of dishes. I'm trying to create a list of meals and recipes that satisfy all of us and can be put on a sort of rotation. I figure that fourteen meals and four batches of baked goods could be thrown on repeat to last us a few months. My goal is to complete the meal plan by January first so that I can get started on the right foot. Here's to 2010 full of home-cooked meals!

7. "Keep your girlfriends." Check. I definitely enjoy my girlfriends. In fact, I get a barrage of phone calls every evening... they all seem to be extroverts and big talkers. Go figure!

8. "Make time for yourself." I love this one. Right now I'm lucky to have most "nap times" at my disposal. I take long baths, and I read. I also read myself to sleep at night. I guess that's how I love to spend my "me" time. In 2010 I'm going to keep a list and try to read 100 books. I'm not sure how many I usually read per year, but I'd like to see it reach 100. I'm stocking up on good books and potential titles right now!

9. "Don't take it all so seriously." I'm pretty good at this. I take food and sleep seriously. Other than that, I'm pretty good at rolling with the long as those punches don't come from the dogs. One of these dogs is making me crazy lately, and I'm pretty sure the neighbors can hear me screaming at him everyday. If I have a stroke, you can be 99% sure it's because of him.

10. "Don't wish for someone else's problems." I don't think I wish for other people's problems, but I do occasionally wish for other people's blessings. Ultimately, I know that any time I spend wishing away my life is time spent wasting my life. The truth is, I just need to be more disciplined about distracting myself from these torturous thoughts. Really? Am I THAT shallow? Am I THAT insecure? No. They're just fleeting moments of weakness. So float away, please.

There are many areas in which I seek to improve. As a housewife, it's so easy for me to let things slide. My husband never complains, and my baby never cares. But I want better for them. I want better from me. So in 2010 I'll record my efforts and enjoy my know, until it all gets derailed by the arrival of baby #2. (No, I'm not pregnant...but it's a-comin'! I'm so excited! :))

Distracted from The Job

In my quest to become a better mother, wife, and homemaker, I have been reading lots of books on the subjects. Leave it to me to try to INTELLECTUALIZE the phenomenon of the "homemaker" as opposed to CREATING it. Anyhow, my most recent read was "Happy Housewives" by Darla Shine. Although the book was clearly written for the upper-middle class housewife, she managed to keep it hilarious and searingly honest. Let's just say I have a lot to live up to... a LOT.

Darla gives us ten "easy" steps to become completely blissful in our roles. Let me just say that I'm pretty happy with my life, so I look to her more for advice on how to improve in my role.

1. "Please stop whining!" Check. I don't whine about my lot in life. I just don't.

2. "Be proud!" I'm working on this one. I'm hoping that as I start improving in the domestic CONSISTENCY in practicing them, I'll be more proud of my role. I like to see concrete accomplishments, and that's the difficult part of this job. Nothing is measurable, and few feats go noticed. I need to become more at peace with this reality.

3. "Stop looking like a housewife!" Hmmm. Uhhhh. Yeah.... I haven't worn velour out in public lately. Does that count? We'll just put this on the old "New Year's Resolutions" list.

4. "Make your marriage a priority." Ironically, this one is hard. Ryan and I have a very easy, comfortable relationship. There's no friction, ever. Having said that, I think we need to be more committed to a date night. That's a challenge when we're on a budget, and we have a tiny tot. This one makes the list of things to work on, too.

5. "BOND WITH YOUR HOME." Okay, folks. THIS one was the reason for my post. I have TOTALLY lost touch with my home. We have gotten so involved in playgroups and playdates that we're barely ever here. Most days I feel like all I do at home is bathe, feed B, feed the dogs, do laundry, and try to keep enough dishes clean to make it through the next day. Not good. To make matters worse, the less time I spend "bonding" with my home, the more neglected it becomes and the less I want to be there. Thus, the cycle repeats. I plan to create a schedule for home maintenance and execute it diligently in the new year. Then, I will schedule several days a week in which we stay home and enjoy ourselves and all this ol' stack o' bricks has to offer. I can assure you, we have lots of "stuff" and mounds of projects to keep us busy!

I'll post #6-10 tomorrow. I think I have strep throat, so I need to drink some tea and watch CSI Miami right now. (Well, I actually NEED to go to bed, but I'm pretty sure the tea I've been drinking has caffeine in it, so CSI Miami it is!)

Friday, December 4, 2009

A Holiday Dress

It sure has been a while since I've slipped into a fancy dress for the holidays...or at all for that matter. There's something about a beautiful dress that gives me a confidence that I cannot find on a daily basis. In fact, I love them so much that I actually ADORE dress shopping. These days, I buy most of my casual clothes online. I have an idea of my size, and I just go with it. But a dress, ahhh, modeling a cocktail dress or a formal gown in a fancy dressing room with salesperson in waiting is definitely an experience to be enjoyed.

Since I don't really have an occasion to wear such a garment this winter, I'll just do some online browsing and tell you what I'd LIKE to be wearing this season.

The not-so-classic black dress:

This one is perfect for my beautiful sister-in-law:

I love the color and the detail on this one:

Ahhh, and finally, these last two are from one of my favorite designers who manages to fit my body so well, Kay Unger:

Phew, our lack of occasion just saved us A LOT of money! This whole "fantasy" web shopping thing could be the way to go!

While these dresses are from Neiman Marcus, I have learned that Target has actually featured a new collection of holiday dresses that are very affordable. In fact, I saw two of them in person last Saturday, and they were actually quite lovely as well.

Enjoy your holiday parties, especially if they involve a great dress!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Something about Mondays

Ever since I became a mom, I've discovered a new love for Mondays. Yes, it marks the end of a weekend full of family and fun. Yes, it is a dreaded workday for the husband. Yes, it is a quiet day as people return to their routines.

Despite it all, I love Mondays. It is a calm transition into the routine that I have grown to love. It is quiet and without demands. Rarely do we venture out on this day. Instead, we wear pajamas well into the afternoon. We have leisurely naps and leisurely meals. We wrap up some chores and enjoy the stillness of the house.

Monday marks the beginning of a new week of opportunities. We check the playgroup schedules, the vet schedules, the doctor schedules, and the bill schedules. We prepare ourselves for a week of duties and dates. We select our priorities and make our lists. All in all, it is our secret getaway...our FREE getaway. And they don't get any better than that!

Monday, November 23, 2009

It's time to grow up...apparently.

So, I thought getting married was akin to "growing up." Then, I thought having a job would be the milestone that marked "growing up." Having a baby? Closer. Unfortunately, it appears as though EVENTS in my life are not the catalysts I had thought. Instead, it *will be* my actions. And I'm a mom now, so it's time, right? I didn't really get that memo until I was looking at some pictures of myself from Saturday.

Flashback to Saturday: Baby B and I went out for an evening playdate. Unbeknownst to me, one of the moms there was in charge of taking photographs of the event. No problem, right? Wrong.

The pictures were posted, and I eagerly scrolled through them to view the photos of B and his friends. Then it happened. The very FIRST photo was of ME! Side view. NOT pretty. Aside from realizing that my beloved fleece sweater isn't so flattering, I was gobsmacked with the reality that it's time to grow up. You know, have a grown-up hairstyle. I didn't realize that throwing my hair up in a ponytail everyday made me look so adolescent. I looked like a college student...except fatter. (Note that my concern is about the hair, not the fatness...that's a whole other post.)

Yes, of course, I go to the salon and have them work their magic with my hair. Of course, well, that's only when I keep my appointments. I have a nice cut, but you'd never know it. I'm a sucker for the wash, air dry, and tie-it-up routine. Well, Jennifer, my dear, you're a bit OLD for that. Frankly, bless your heart (southern for "I'm about to say something tacky,") you look like a slob.

OUCH! But it's true. My friends, you'll be happy to know that today I spent a whole twenty minutes styling my hair. Now, if I could only get rid of this old raggedy sweatshirt I'm wearing...

Friday, November 20, 2009

Bras...yes, bras...

I've got a little story for ya' Ags! (as in "Aggies" for those of you not in touch with the A&M lingo...)

A while back I decided that I was finally going to get properly fitted for a bra. Everywhere I turn the media seem to be telling me that VERY VERY few women have a proper fit. Why would I be any different, right? So, off I go, ready to bare it all. I had my game face on.

In I walk to the specialty bra store. I grabbed a few samples that I thought might be my correct size, and I crept towards the fitting room. Then, I did it. I told the saleslady that I wanted her to help fit me, please. She was probably younger than I was, and she was definitely shorter than I was. (That was hard since I'm only 5'4".) Frankly, she looked a bit upset to have been bothered at all. I decided that to reduce the awkward nature of the whole ordeal, I'd be on my best behavior. No jokes, no small talk, and no impatience. So much for that plan.

Here's how she "properly fitted" me. (Please keep in mind that the store advertises itself as the bra experts.)

First, she asked, "What size are you wearing?"

I answered, "34-B"

She asked, "How's that working for you?"

I answered, "Ummmm, alright I guess."

She asked, "Why don't you try on another one and see how that feels?"

I answered, "Ummmm, okay." I thought, "Ummmm, this is NOT going well..."

After I put on the second bra...

She asked, "How does that feel?"

I answered, "Uhhh, fine."

She declared, "Whatever you want should work just fine."

Please notice that there was NEVER a discussion about sizes. She never even suggested a different style. I concluded that this whole experiment was a big flop.

Moral of the story: as long as you're not flopping around, spilling over, or leaving a vacancy, "Whatever you want should work just fine."


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Party Hosting

I love to have people come to our home. I adore cooking for them and visiting with them. I believe that opening our home to people is akin to opening our hearts to them. It's a way of giving everything we have to our relationship with our guests. I look forward to these events for weeks leading up to them.

Having said that, our house is not large, and it is sometimes challenging to accommodate everyone comfortably. I'm sure there is a "rule of thumb" regarding space and number of guests, but I've not yet stumbled upon it. For now, we are left to dream up possible seating arrangements and flow spaces...yet we always come up with a deficit. My immediate reaction is, "THIS is why we need a bigger home!" Truth be told, however, that we don't entertain large parties frequently enough to justify rolling into a new home to better suit them. A more creative and practical approach leads us to discover creative uses of space.

While our home is not huge, our lot is quite sizable. It's over a quarter of an acre, large by Houston standards. Thus, it would be possible to set up seating outdoors. This fall and winter, as we invite people to our home, we will be grateful for our ability to use a space that has, until now, been used as a dog run.

Back when we were looking, one of Ryan's standards for purchasing a house was that it must have a small yard. He loathes yard work. Well, my dear, we might finally be making use of that extra space I strong-armed you into! And it might even save you money in the long run!

Sunday, November 15, 2009


How trite. Of course I want to simplify. Every time I find myself walking up to the house with an arm full of shopping bags I wonder, "What in the world could I possibly be bringing into this house that we actually NEED?" I suppose the answer is, "Very little."

Our house is just over twenty-four hundred square feet large. But somehow it feels like it's just over twenty-four hundred square feet too small. How in the world could this be? We are a small family: myself, Ryan, and Baby B. To tell you the truth, we barely even USE half of the house...probably more. Having said that, we do have that excess packed to the brim with STUFF. I'm so sick of STUFF! We're drowning in an addiction to which we still play the slave. I'm not sure where to find the cure.

SO, folks, I've turned to the Super-Moms of the world, and I am desperately seeking tricks, secrets, and strategies to SIMPLIFY our lives. Well, truth be told, I've been seeking these tips for about two months. I'm not sure I've made much progress, but I have kicked about five monstrous trash bags full of clothes to the curb...or, Goodwill. I've also blown through my kitchen and removed MOST of the tools I never use. I even relegated many of the infant items to the garage. Nevertheless, you would never know any progress had been made.

Somehow, I have loads and loads of homeless STUFF. Little ornaments and statues and crystal. I have so much that means so much, but we haven't the proper places to house them. I suppose that the answer is to kiss them good-bye and carefully pack them away so that we might find a way to enjoy them in our next home.

I'm also finding that we could clothe an army of beds with the blankets we have. I'm left convinced that if I just continue to hang onto these things, I'll find relief when the unanticipated need arises.

And, oh, the toys! I am totally overwhelmed with the toy situation. Our living room looks like a daycare center. While we have the space to create a playroom, I have to believe that Baby B will always prefer (and need) to be in close proximity to me while he plays. I don't foresee spending our days in the confines of one room, even if it is a child's Heaven.

It will be my mission in 2010 to organize this house. I'll work away the clutter room by room, and I'm quite sure...very sure...ummm...yeah...that by 2011 I will be a new woman! And, I'll fit into my size four clothing again! (Hey, while we're dreaming...)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Frisked! Again!

Last Thursday, Ryan and I left for a mini-vacation in Colorado. Despite having to make a 6am flight, we sported two positive attitudes and timely arrivals at IAH. And then "security" entered the picture. Scene:

Only one lane of "security" was open despite it being such a busy time for business travel. The line must have been about thirty feet long just to pass the first identification verification. Shortly after joining the other patient travelers, there arose a verbal battle between the "security" agent and a group of foreign travelers. I believe their accent was Russian, but I can't be sure. Clearly, they did not understand the American concept of standing in line. Their confusion sent the intolerant and abrasive "security" agent into a tailspin of lectures to all of the surrounding travelers. She stopped the line several times to shake her finger at us all. The alleged Russians breezed through the x-ray machine and metal detectors without further issue.

I, however, the short, plump, blond(?,) all-American, young woman who never confuses the verbs to "lay" and to "lie," was pulled to the side for a pat down. Oh, no, my friends. They didn't use a wand. I was felt up and down and too close to personal bits. Did I mention it was a show for all of the other travelers to watch? It's good to know that I am just as likely to be perceived as a terrorist as, well... people that cause noticeable distractions in the security lines. No, I don't suggest that there was anything suspicious about the Russian travelers. I have to believe, however, that there are endless ways in which they MORE closely fit the profile of someone to watch.

You might be surprised to know that I was barely fazed by the event. Why? Oh, my friends, I've had MUCH more humiliating experiences at the hands of "security" officers.

Flashback about four years to the Baltimore airport. Mom and I had been visiting family in DC, but it was time to go home. It must have been a slow time or date to fly because the airport was quiet. "Security" must have been bored. After walking through the metal detector, I was pulled aside for further investigation. Ahhhhhh...lovely. There I was without my shoes, without my jacket. I stood there stripped down to a sleeveless shirt and a loose pair of black pants. The agent began to swipe me with the metal detector wand. It kept detecting metal on my body. I had to pull up my pant legs one by one. No metal. The agents were confused. I did tell them that I had metal in my knee from a post-ski surgery I had years earlier. Then, it happened.

They wanted a closer look at my mid-section. I had to pull up my shirt, not to the point of exposing my undergarments, but high enough to show my mid-drift. My other arm out to the side like a scarecrow, I stood there feeling increasingly upset as...wait for it...AN ENTIRE UNIT OF SERVICEMEN WALKED PAST ME ENJOYING THE FREE "WELCOME HOME" SHOW!

Eventually, of course, the "security" agents were confused enough to give up. (Good to know they're so committed, right?)

Thus, I sit here today, twice frisked by airport agents. It's not fun, folks. Perhaps next time I'll have a meltdown in line waiting to shove my bags through the metal detector. Then, I will look like an average, disgruntled passenger calling just enough attention to myself to be perceived as "normal."

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Money Person

I am the "money person" in this house. I pay the bills, collect the receipts, and manage the accounts. This year I have committed to consolidating some of these accounts. Although many of them APPEAR to be held at the same financial institutions you'd be AMAZED at the paperwork, phone calls, and appearances this feat requires.

In the last three weeks I've been desperately tackling a custodial account and my Teacher Retirement System account. The idea is to move the funds into Roth IRAs. Despite all of my efforts, the monies still have not been moved. (Ironically, however, I had to OPEN a NEW account in the process of said transfers.) Maybe, just maybe, if I work on it EVERY DAY by the end of 2010 I might finally have a reasonable number of accounts to manage.

The lesson is twofold. First of all, don't let your accounts multiply. Rather, when you need to change ownership make the time to go to the institution and make the changes in person. (Although that whole "in person" thing hasn't gotten me very far in the past few days.) Secondly, persistence is key. Put your banks' customer service lines on speed dial, and have a daily chat!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

On Perfection

About two months ago several of the blogs I read offered an answer to "How do you do it all?" The ladies who run these blogs are, in fact, miraculously brilliant homemakers. I just assumed (and pretty much still do) that some women are born with Olympian-style talents for the role. I am DEFINITELY not one of those women, and no one would EVER mistake me for one. But oh how I sometimes wish I were... Nevertheless, I was relieved to read how these aforementioned bloggers responded the the inquiries.

To sum them up, they reported that time is, of course, finite, so there are things they DO and things they DON'T DO. Some even ventured as far as making lists to expose their realities. I decided it would be a good pick-me-up exercise to try this myself. Expert critic that I am, I'm pretty sure that my "don't do" tally far outweighs my "do" tally. But some relief comes in the fact that I indeed have a list of things I do and things I do well. For example, I make a fantastic butter-cream frosting, I make a to-die-for cinnamon applesauce, and I show unprecedented and unbelievable patience with my toddler. I don't scrapbook, crochet (although I'm considering classes,) get up early, or immediately get dirty dishes into the dishwasher. There are more to each list, of course, but I am not the measuring stick of perfection as are the IMAGES of the bloggers I read.

My second source of forgiveness for my imperfections as a homemaker came, unexpectedly, from a magazine article. It's so cliche, who knew some actual wisdom could be imparted by a magazine's quiz? Perhaps it's not quite wisdom, but I found some relief therein. The quiz was something along the lines of "Find out who you really are so you can be you really are." I'm sure it was more eloquently written. I thought it was a bit of a joke until I hit a category of questions that identified my nature EXACTLY. WHO KNEW I WASN'T ALONE? Not I.

The article concluded that I fall into the category of the "Intellectual." No, it doesn't describe my IQ. Instead, it describes what gives me energy, how I enjoy spending my time, and my natural tendencies. By reading ABOUT myself, I had a moment of epiphany: who I am is a LEARNER. I will ALWAYS be a learner. I love to research, and write, and spend my time getting the most thorough IDEAS of my area of interest.

People who are able to translate their natures directly into a career are, and rightly so, lauded for their recognizable talents therein. Some of us, however, have natures that are more hidden under the layers of our jobs, families, and obligations. To IDENTIFY our natures, even if only to ourselves, is to RELIEVE ourselves of the guilt of what we are not. We may have convoluted ways of contributing or shining, but we each have a nature that has immense value to those around us.

I am a LEARNER. I will fulfill my mission in life THROUGH this natural tendency that I possess. And by embracing who I AM I will free myself, and enjoy myself, and hope that you will enjoy me.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Oh Em Gee!

Yep, I MADE these, the PJ pants! I was gifted a series of sewing classes, and it totally paid off. Lots of fun. Translation: if I can do this you can DEFINITELY do it. I have the patience of a famished lion. Oh, yes, and if you're on my holiday gift list, you just MIGHT be getting some too!

(I'm pretty sure that sewing these pants and making a fantastic butter-cream icing are my ONLY Martha Stewart "ish" feats in the last year of being a stay-at-home-mom. Hey, I'm a work in progress.)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

My Confession on His Birthday

My title is "Homemaker Exposed." Here is my maximum exposure, a shame-filled truth wherein I hope I am not alone:

I tried not to love him.

When my son was born, I realized that the expression "such a miracle" is not trite as I had believed, but rather true in biblical proportions. Part me, part Ryan, part God and His creation, my son is most deeply a miracle. But he is separate from me. I cannot completely protect him. I cannot completely heal him. He is left in God's hands, and I am left to recognize my own mortality, my own vulnerability. And it scared me. It still does.

I had resolved to protect myself from these fears. How? Well, I had pondered this for years prior to my son, and I had determined to "hedge" my losses should I endure one. Translation: I used to believe that the more children I had, the more bearable a loss, illness, or incapacity of a single child would be. I thought I could intellectualize and ration my love. I was wrong.

Although my son is healthy, and although I do not know how many more children my body can bare, my son's first year has taught me this:

Having a child is giving myself to God, losing my sense of power. In return, God gives me an appreciation for the daily mundanes that I have never before felt. God shares Himself in a way I have never before understood. And I lose my sense of "I."

Happy birthday my son, and thank you.

Friday, September 25, 2009

A Housewife?

I wasn't raised to be a housewife. I was raised to be a lawyer. In fact, I have a lovely diploma from law school sitting up against the wall in our master bedroom. I'm sure that the moment I was handed that parchment was one of my father's proudest memories. Only several months later when I declared my intention to stay at home with my newborn baby did reality strike: I wanted to be a housewife, a homemaker, a stay-at-home-mom, unemployed. Little did I know how unprepared I was.

I thought the job was very straightforward: cook, clean, and care for the baby. Well, I'll tell you what, in suburban Houston there are MANY more responsibilities to being a homemaker. Just to name a few: decorate the house, decorate for every holiday and season, sew, craft, and make something out of nothing on a shoestring budget. Many more will come my way soon: host playdates, be involved with the PTA, volunteer at school, become a chauffeur, plan and prepare for vacations, etc. What is so interesting to me is that these responsibilities fall upon the working mom as well; however, I believe that the expectations aren't quite the same. For example, if the working mom doesn't have a seasonal wreath on her door she is forgiven, but if the homemaker fails to place or change the wreath she is idle.

I am not only surprised by the list and height of high expectations for homemakers, but I am surprised by what is required to do the basic tasks properly. I know I am responsible for doing the grocery shopping and getting dinner on the table, but I didn't know that my baby would select a vegan lifestyle forcing me to make multiple dishes for every meal. I knew that the floors should be vacuumed, but I had no clue that the WALLS should be vacuumed.

I grew up in a house with a housekeeper. She covered the basics. Then, there were the cleaning ladies who, I must assume, did the heavy housework. I wasn't even taught how to fold a sheet, let alone clean a toilet! Nonetheless, I am grateful for what I had, and I am now grateful for what I have. I just feel as though I have so much catching up to do! Every time I think I've mastered the art of homemaking, I pick up a book or read a blog that reminds me how short I have fallen. Maybe it's time to read a NOVEL instead!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Something about Gratitude

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about gratitude. Between my time of need (the surgery) and a friend in need (issues with her baby's health,) I am forced to feel a gratitude for my life far deeper than can be expressed with words. I try to pray my thanks and write my thanks, but it is not enough. Is it greedy to long for the words, the ability to express myself adequately? I am left shaken in blender of grief for those who are grieving and gratitude for the life that is mine.

God Speaks

Yes, we were on the quest to wait. Yes, I was struggling with this decision. Yes, I accidentally got pregnant. It was a tubal pregnancy, so I guess it's not much of a surprise. We don't use birth control because we know that an embryo cannot implant in my uterus without assistance. Since it wasn't a viable pregnancy, it wasn't planned, and I didn't even know about it until I knew something was wrong, it wasn't terribly painful to lose. I did have to have the entire tube removed, and that's a bit frightening considering that I want more children. I did have to undergo surgery, hormonal changes, and painful (physically) symptoms of a miscarriage. In the end, I'll conclude that this was God's confirmation that the right choice for us is to wait a few months. There's some sense of relief when the decision is taken out of my hands, but I know the struggle will re-surface as soon as my body returns to normal. God, help me!

Friday, August 14, 2009

I want a baby girl

Yes, I have baby fever again. I want something little that I can snuggle and carry around in an infant seat. Oh yes, and I want it to be a GIRL this time. I want to get excited about little girl clothes. I want pink and lace and ruffles. I want dainty princess dresses and bows and dolls. My baby boy will always be the love of my life, but I want a baby girl. (Heck, I actually want a couple of both!)

We were working on having baby #2, but then a rare travel opportunity sprung up. It's a situation that can actually include my mom, and I don't want to deny her that experience by not being able to put off conceiving for another six months. So we wait...again...good things come to those who wait, right? God, please hear this prayer!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

To Dallas, With Love...

I am a Dallas girl. In fact, I am such a Dallas girl that a friend used to call me "Dallas." Yes, I WAS Dallas. I knew the "right" people, drove the "right" vehicle, and had the "right" look. By the time I was in college (which, interestingly enough, didn't happen to be in Dallas) I definitely grew into the part. I love it when my dad pays for me to have a great haircut and a blond "touch-up." I love it when my step-mother, the undeniably best in Dallas, gives me a long, luxurious, and gossip-filled facial. I love cruising around Highland Park in a luxury vehicle. I love Whole Foods and great eateries. I love being treated like a high-roller. Lord help me, but I sure do love Neiman's and Northpark. I love the specialty stores and the beautiful people. I adore the beautiful homes and the old sections of town. I'm nestalgic for the quiet, tree-lined drive down Hillcrest. I love having grounded and informed opinions about the private schools and the cultures therein. I love knowing people wherever I go. I love that the city is full of MY history and the people I love.

I don't live in Dallas anymore. I don't live the image that I had for myself when I grew up in Dallas. My life is wonderful, however. I have a happy, healthy marriage and a equally wonderful baby boy. I live near my beloved in-laws, and I've escaped the "bad" in Dallas. I was happy to flee from the pressures to live "THE" Dallas life. I was happy to quit caring about how I looked when I went to the grocery store and whom I ran into at the restaurants. I was happy to find a town in which my vehicle's make didn't preceed my character. I was happy to have a fresh place in which to share my more mature and gentle character. I'm happy not to take myself too seriously, to joke around with the "help." I'm happy that having "help" isn't expected in my town. I'm happy that I don't have to wear lables. I'm happy that I don't feel the pressures to enjoy the costly luxuries I grew up enjoying. Yes, I am happy.

But I miss Dallas. I am a Dallas girl, but I don't think Dallas will ever again be my home. For the first time since leaving ten years ago, I wish I lived there, the place that will always be home to my heart. Dallas, I forgive you your transgressions, and I hope you will forgive me mine.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

I've been inspired!

I found a blog that echoes many of my own values (if not yet practices) as far as feeding my family is concerned. The link is: This mother's premise is to feed her family natural, whole, organic foods and to avoid as much processing as possible. I've poured through recipe books, grocery advertisements, etc. I've even come very close to stocking my freezer with frozen meals...largely thanks to the fact that I can get them so cheaply. Reading "Purely Natural Eating" has reminded me to stay dedicated to my values and to continue to find ways of shopping and cooking that work for me and my family. It's a gem I will definitely be following!

Saturday, February 28, 2009


So, I've been reading other people's blogs about saving grocery dollars. I know that my savings are not as extreme as theirs. Here is my explanation:

1. I don't buy much processed food. This week I got a box of Raisin Bran for 22 cents and a bottle of Pepsi for free. Other than that, the only things purchased from the store's "isles" were two boxes of Barilla Plus pasta, a can of diced organic tomatoes, a bottle of EVOO, flour, brown sugar, yeast, red pepper flakes, and a box of ziplocks (with a coupon.) This explains why I spend more. Interestingly enough, this is counter-intuative to me. I would have thought it would be more expensive to buy a diet of packaged foods, but that is no longer the case due to the abundance of coupons for those products. Darn!

2. While I am a good shopper, I am not yet the expert shopper. For example, it is best to go to many stores to get the best deals; however, I just went to one. This is something I will be working on in the future.

Saving Grocery Dollars

This morning I went to the grocery store. My total purchases came to $112. Guess how much I paid? $60!!!!!!!! I used $12 worth of coupons, a $10 off coupon, and a $30 gift card for transferring a prescription. Now, I could have spent less, thus making the savings proportionately more; however, I chose, instead, to purchase mostly organic produce and organic ground beef. Wonderful savings today! I feel great!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Dollar Store

All I can say is, "WOW!" Did you know that everything there actually costs only a dollar? They have a great variety of stuff I hate to spend money on: toothpaste (I will NOT pay more than a dollar per tube,) toothbrushes, pregnancy/ovulation tests, greeting cards, gift supplies. I had to run in and out because I was sporting the child on my arm, but I certainly intend to go back...on a weekday, without the child. This is a great place for those of us on tight budgets!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Bad News Bears

I thought I was FINALLY going to have the perfect dining table: china, crystal, cloth napkins, table cloth, and table pad. Ummm, until I made the novice error. I only GUESSED the dimensions of my table. Now, I have a too-short table pad and a too-short table cloth...all to the tune of about seventy bucks, seventy WASTED bucks. Lesson: don't feel rushed in your tasks; it will come with a cost.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Update on Cookware

I did end up ordering cookware from a restaurant supplier. It wasn't until after the order shipped that I second-guessed this decision. Well, today the boxes arrived. I began opening them, and they had shipped me someone else's order! I took this as a sign from God that this was not going to be my solution to the cookware conundrum. I called the company, scheduled the pick-up of these boxes, and canceled my previous order. Maybe Saturday I'll gather my Calphalon, box it up, and ship it back to be replaced...all under warranty. This will save me some serious bucks!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Battle of The Bulge

Tonight I had planned to cook a new recipe for chicken and biscuits. When I read through the recipe, however, I realized that it called for 2.5 sticks of butter AND a good amount of heavy cream. Well, due to the start of the New Year and the appearance of personal trainers on all of the talk shows, I began to question if I really wanted to make this dish. It has veggies, right? Yep, squash and asparagus...but I don't think that's going to cancel out all of the fat. I scrapped my plans.

Instead, I'm watching the season premier of "The Biggest Loser," and I have an appointment with the treadmill from 8pm-9pm. The veggies are great but not when they're dripping in fat. Hmmm, if I could only figure out something else creative to cook for Ryan...

Healthy body, here I come!

Monday, January 5, 2009

I run the business

Today I've really begun to realize how much like a business homemaking is. It's the smallest non-profit in the world! I have a never-ending "to-do" list, and every time I scratch off one task, I seem to add two more. For example, last night I went to Walmart in attempt to purchase a list of random items. They were out of the plastic food storage set I was searching for, and they were not able to help me replace the battery in my watch. Thus, as soon as I returned home, I had to add a trip to Target and a trip to a jeweler to my "to-do" list.

Other examples: yesterday I wrote a handful of thank-you notes using the last of my note cards and stamps. Now I have to schedule a trip to the post office! Friday I was able to schedule pest control to come to the house. This morning they came, now I have to add "pay bill" to my "to-do" list. Such is life.

It is not the series of never-ending tasks that surprises me. Rather, the surprise comes with the realization of the requirements to be a GREAT household manager. The difference between good and great is most magnified when it comes to finances. There are two very important (and pain-in-the-butt) tasks I must tackle in this arena. First, I must compile a list of all financial accounts and account numbers. Second, I must find time to drag R with me to make sure that all accounts have rights-of-survivorship. Frankly, despite my legal training, I'm not even sure if this is possible. The goal, of course, is for us to have immediate access to eachother's accounts should one of us die untimely.

Back to the business you may recall, many of the gurus on efficient and effective management suggest scheduling an appointment for daily tasks.

Several of my daily tasks, including emailing, blogging, and bill paying, revolve around the computer. Unfortunately, I often find myself spending hours getting in and off line all day long. This week, one of my efforts to become a better homemaker/mommy/business manager will be to only spend time on my computer from 10am-11am and after I put B to bed for the night. I feel freedom already!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Calphalon & Toilet (aka "contour") Rugs

I'm facing two very "important" delimmas on the homemaking front. First off, my Calphalon Contemporary cookware is peeling. Yes, despite the hefty price tag and the lifetime warranty, the non-stick coating is peeling around the edges of the pans. As it happens, those flakes of coating are carcinogens. Given the cancer history in R's family, this is NOT to be taken lightly. Here is my debate. Do I send the pieces back to Calphalon and have them replaced? Do I invest in another expensive cookware set? Or do I purchase high quality pieces from a restaurant supplier (MUCH cheaper than sets sold for home use)? The other characteristic that I don't like about my cookware is that my pots and pans have glass lids...many of which have some sort of painted edges that are peeling. I'll let you know what I decide!

The second delimma that I'm facing arose several weeks ago when I caught some show on HGTV that outlined the most common mistakes homeowners make. The "experts" agreed that toilet rugs are nothing but disgusting germ collectors, and they should be trashed before any guests come across them. Well, I tend to like these contour rugs because when I'm walking around my house barefooted, they keep my feet warm when I run to the Ladies' Room. We have two of these contraband: one in our master "water closet" and one in the "man room's" bathroom. I'm going to continue pondering this issue, and I'll let you know what I decide on this one as well!

Friday, January 2, 2009


So, the truth of the matter is that I never got around to making the baby food last night like I had planned. One more task for today! I did, however, sweep the kitchen and steam mop the floor. I have two great new gadgets to help me with this. Thanks Mom!

First, I decided that despite some less-than-stellar reviews I would go ahead and ask for the Dirt Devil Broom Vac. I actually enjoy using it, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who has trouble feeling motivated to clean those pesky kitchen floors.

The second new contraption I procured to help me with my cleaning is the Steam Mop. This heated up very quickly and was very easy to use. I like the fact that it doesn't require any chemicals. I love the idea of sanitizing my floors this way!

I'm sure it's all psychosomatic, but I think the floor actually feels different now that I've cleaned it so thoroughly. Well, the baby's fussing, so I've got to run!

Thursday, January 1, 2009


It's a new year and a new me! Yeah right! Here I am, 27-years-old, with the same resolutions and the same bleak prospects of accomplishing them. This year, however, I have some added goals. Thanks to the birth of my son, "B," I can add ten pounds to the magic number that will make me hot again (Ha!) Also, and more on topic, I plan to become a good homemaker. Yes, my friends, this means I will learn to deep clean, plan menus, and cut the dogs' nails. It's a lofty goal, but I figure that any steps I take towards it will feel like paramount accomplishments.

Here's the bleak truth: I never cleaned a toilet until my first year of marriage four years ago. Even more embarrassing, even these days I probably only clean my toilets once a month. As you can imagine, these are the special and rare occasions when I have guests over to the house. It's not just the toilets that I neglect, however. I can count the times I mopped my kitchen floor in 2008 on one hand. GASP! Well, I do chase the dog-hair-tumbleweeds with my Swiffer and vacuum much more frequently...maybe twice a month. GASP AGAIN! I could list many more shameful oversights, but I'm sure your imagination is running in the right direction.

The worst part? As long as things are picked up and the house doesn't have an odor I find it bearably tidy. Now that I'm staying home with my baby I feel a renewed commitment to keep the house clean, really clean.

It's not just the cleaning issue that makes me a less-than-stellar homemaker. I have a cooking issue, too. Oh, I can cook when I want to. I'm actually a bit of a foodie. I've just fallen into the habit of throwing together ten minute meals and storing leftovers to reheat the next week. In 2009 I will explore some of the recipes in my wonderful collection of cookbooks. I will cook new meals at least three times per week. In fact, since we are Jewish, I am making a serious commitment to prepare formal meals every Friday night. I'll use a clean white tablecloth, shined Nambe candlesticks, china, and crystal. I'll even be able to invite people to the house to share the occasion...especially since the house will be CLEAN, right?

This week my task will be to develop a schedule that is conducive to accomplishing these lofty goals. I'll be reading through Martha Stewart's Homemaking Handbook, and I'll be posting my epiphanies and stumbling blocks. I'm sure there will be many of both. Happy New Year!