Do you know TX Poppett? Well, she's the bomb dot com, baby. Smart and funny and a Texan. What's not to love? And if you aren't following her on Twitter then you are quite possibly a daft fool. I laugh out loud daily at her adventures.

So, this lady that I am speaking of, she tagged me for a meme. Me! I know, huh? How sweet is she?

Here goes:

Four First Names of (unrequited) Crushes I’ve Had:
1. James (a warm friend at a critical point in my life)
2. Dawn (yes, girl. my first and only real girl crush. she was great)
3. Brett (every girl's junior high dream boat)
4. Phil (dorky loser artist that I got lost in for a semester)

Four Pieces of Clothing I wish I still owned:
1. Tan and teal cozy cardigan
2. Blue and white satin robe
3. My brown leather jacket - that was STOLEN!
4. Oh, the shoes that I have parted with. Too many to count.

Names I’ve been called at one time or another:
1. Terra (short for Erra Terra Cota - the lovely name my cousins gave me)
2. Ladybug (my mom's name for me)
3. Ernestine (my dad's name for me)
4. Bitch, Jack Ass, Moron, and a bunch of other one-offs...

Four Professions I Secretly Want to Try:
1. Novelist
2. Artist
3. Stewardess (mostly for the sex play - Naughty!)
4. Nun (also for the sex play)

Four Musicians I’d most want to go on a date with:
1. Sting
2. Elvis Costello
3. Amos Lee
4. Tori Amos

Four Foods I’d Rather Throw than Eat:
1. Calf's liver
2. Sea Urchin
3. Tomatoes (I know - how can that be?)
4. Chocolate Pudding (retch!)

Four Things I Like to Sniff:
1. Salt Air
2. Wind through trees
3. Magie Noir by Lancome
4. My babies' skin

Four People to Tag:
1. Momo Fali - funny, sweet and back in the workforce! Hang in there, baby!
2. Known to me as Silent Beautie, she actually has one of my dream jobs. Lucky!
3. Lis, my friend with the green purse.
4. And lastly, my neighbor VDogBlog, who I want to go party like a rock star with (in a totally dignified mom kind of way! of course!)

Have a good time, ladies. Pass on the love and the fun!



My retreat was quite lovely. I laughed a lot. Not a lot of crying this time. We played Catch Phrase (also known as the funnest way to spend time with your clothes on!). Don't start this game unless you have a bunch of great people and 48 hours to commit to it. So freaking fun.

We ate wonderful food, slept well and even did an art project:

I'm happy to be back and my husband is feeling a lot better. He missed me. Which is nice.

Now we are full steam ahead into the Halloween flurry of fun. I'll wish you luck if you wish the same to me. Oy vey.



I must sound like the whiningest, complainingist, pain in the ass on god's green Earth. Well, you know what? Too bad. My blog, my rules.

This week was - how shall I put this? Ummm, let's see. Oh! I know! Shitty.

Husband took a fall and totally f-ed his hand up and threw his back out. Which sounds like he should be the one who gets to have the shitty week, right? Uh - NO!

Husband is flat on his back for days. So you know what that means? I get to do his stuff and my stuff. And I get to go fetch him stuff. And I get to hear him detail the levels and duration of his pain in every position he is able to exist in. Which, thankfully, is not a long list. No really, thank god it is not a long list. The short list is so much more than enough.

I'm going away with my girlfriends. He's getting better at hobbling around. In the event of a fire Maddy knows to roll him out the house like a log. I'll not be back until I have been nurtured and fed and loved back from the emotional brink. If that doesn't happen for six months, so be it. I'm aiming for three days. I'll let you know.



I'm gonna hold on to what I been given lately. Which, since you ask, is a husband with a stitched hand and a back that is thrown out. LAWDY.



My business is words. Words are like labels,
or coins, or better, like swarming bees.
I confess I am only broken by the sources of things;
as if words were counted like dead bees in the attic,
unbuckled from their yellow eyes and their dry wings.
I must always forget who one words is able to pick
out another, to manner another, until I have got
something I might have said...
but did not.
Your business is watching my words. But I
admit nothing. I worth with my best, for instances,
when I can write my praise for a nickel machine,
that one night in Nevada: telling how the magic jackpot
came clacking three bells out, over the lucky screen.
But if you should say this is something it is not,
then I grow weak, remembering how my hands felt funny
and ridiculous and crowded with all
the believing money.

A poem by Anne Sexton



Which is why I couldn't post. I'll write more when I gotten a lick of sleep. Which doesn't look like it will be any time soon.

OK - I'm off to shake it but not to break it this time. Wish me luck!



Years ago my father and I took a few cooking classes together. He and I are the cooks in the family and it was a nice way to have some time for ourselves to spend together, away form all the people we take care of. So, when I was picking classes I chose fancy classes with elaborate ingredients. All About Duck and posh stuff like that. What did my dad choose? He chose a salads class.

I'm going to be honest, I was a little disappointed with his choices. What the hell. I'm getting a sitter and taking time away from the kids so I can go to a salads class. Whatever. It was fine.

So now, a little time has passed. Guess how much I use the techniques I learned in the duck class? Yeah, not so often. Now, guess how often I use the insights I learned about salads? That's right! Every single week of my life. When I'm wrong I admit it. So here goes: I'm sorry I judged you harshly for your cooking class choice, Daddy-O. You clearly know more than I do and you probably always will. How's that?

OK, so getting back to salads. I love them. My whole family loves them. My kids too. They are long time salad eaters. (Which calls to mind the saying that my girlfriends and I had when we were in high school to judge the perfect tiny little girls who hardly ate anything and wore size 2 jeans [now called size zero] and had tanning booths installed IN THEIR HOMES - they were the "Salad Eating Bitches." And we were not like them in any way and would never think to order a salad as an entree on a fancy date. But I digress, as usual.)

Salads have become a respectable meal choice. My kids are accustomed to salads with meats, fruits, nuts, cheeses, crispy and crunchy things, and dressings as diverse as the ingredients. And I'm not sure if they have ever had Good Seasons Italian dressing. Which is the only dressing I ever had until I was in my teens. (OK, Pops, that was another dig and I'm sorry. But really - come on! Day after day. Year after year. I'm not sayin'. I'm just sayin'.)

So here are some of the things I learned:

Salad can have any ingredient. There are no limits.
Good salads tend to have 3 or 4 of the following flavors: salty, sweet, bitter, sour, spicy, pungent
Good salads often have a balance of textures: crisp, crunchy, creamy, chewy, smooth, meaty (which does not have to come from meat, see tofu and mushrooms)
Good salads have a point of focus: If your salad has duck confit, it should not also have seared tuna
Good salads sometimes have a regional theme: Asian with soy and sesame, Greek with feta and cukes, Mexican with beans and corn, you get the gist
Good salads do not have to have greens: Don't forget pasta salads, grain salads, fruit salads and the undeniably delicious bread salad
Good salads can be adventurous or simple. The fresher the better.

Here are a couple of my favorites. Please enjoy.

The Salad That Was a Hit With the Neighbors:
2 avocados
2 baskets blackberries
sprinkling of thinly sliced shallots
1/4 cup crumbled chevre
1/4 cup spicy pecans, chopped
Toss salad with dressing, below:

Champagne vinaigrette with shallots and chevre
1 cup mild olive oil
1/4 cup champagne vinegar
1/2 cup champagne
2 Tbsp. chopped shallots
salt and fresh ground black pepper
pinch sugar, to taste

This salad is such a great fall salad. The toasted hazelnuts make this dish.

My Favorite Side Salad (from a restaurant I worked at 14 years ago):
mixed greens
red onions, thinly sliced
crumbled Gorgonzola
toasted hazelnuts, rough chopped

Cider Tarragon Vinaigrette:
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1/8 cup cider vinegar
1/8 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp. dried tarragon (or 2 tsp. chopped fresh)
Salt and pepper to taste
Whisk together and slowly drizzle in:
1/4 cup olive oil

This salad is big and meaty and very Italian. Perfect for a crowd or as a main dish for your family.

Italian Salumi Chef Salad
Lots of crisp Romaine lettuce, torn (at least 2 heads)
1 head radicchio, torn small
2 ribs celery, thin sliced
2 carrots, sliced into thin rings
1/4 cup Sopressata, chopped
1/4 cup Italian Ham, chopped
1/4 cup Smoked Turkey, chopped
1/4 cup Fontina cheese, in small cubes
1/4 cup Gorgonzola, crumbled
1/4 cup shaved Parmigiano (shaved with a vegetable peeler)
1 jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and rough chopped
1/2 cup Italian olives - your preference
1/2 cup Sweet Cherry Peppers, drained and rough chopped
Toss together. Dress with your favorite balsamic vinaigrette.

Serve with crusty bread.

So many choices! And God knows we don't have shortage of meals to think about.

Other salad recipe resources:



How do I have a child big enough to successfully pull off the smoochy-face self-photo? Wonders, apparently, never cease.



When I say this post comes to you by popular demand, I don't want you to think I'm being full of myself or having delusions of grandeur or anything. Have a look for yourself at some comments from a few of my cre8buzz friends:

Any good kitchen tips for me? (Shauna)

So, if you are a wonder in the kitchen, does that mean you will be posting recipes for all of us to drool over? (heffalump)

Share some of your wonders with us! (novembrance)

What's your favorite thing to cook? (wornoutwoman)

Yes, yes, share your culinary wonders! (lis)

I'm a wonder in the kitchen too--but more of the "I wonder what mom will make us eat tonight." (kilpack)

Are you reading what I am reading? That these here women, they want some ideas. Some inspiration. Some new goodness for themselves and their families from the kitchen.

This is probably the most common struggle I find with all of the women I meet (in my highly scientific estimation). More common than husband complaints or bragging on their children. More common than the myriad details of our lives is the commonality that if we care for any human beings (ourselves included) we have to feed them multiple times a day. Every. Single. Day. In my 36 years I have made a lot of meals.

If you are just overwhelmed every damn time you have to come up with another f-ing meal, here is my big fat plan for solution.

Make A Weekly Meal Plan. (Thank you to Helen Jane.) When making the plan, come up with a pattern that works for your family. Perhaps it will consist of one beef dinner, one chicken, one pasta, one fish, one ethnic meal, one leftovers night and one night out. Ta da! Done. Then fill out the formula with sides and supporting players like one carbohydrate, two veggies and one salad. Or on pasta night create a bigger and more elaborate salad. And try making a homemade vinaigrette. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. Does that make sense?

The real trick is to do what works for your family. If you know you have to serve chicken at least 2 nights, then by all means do! If a soup night makes your life easy - fabulous! Breakfast for dinner, recipes from grandma, brand new - something you've never tried before, no matter what you like it can work in this formula.

And when the detailed plan is written down then even our beloved husbands can help out in a pinch (like when my ob/gyn appt goes 1 hour late because some dumb baby is being born. Whatever). The hardest part of managing my husband in the kitchen is coming up with the ideas for him. I regularly get calls at 4:30 (he often gets off work before me) asking "What were you thinking we could do for dinner?" Honestly, I was thinking you could handle it. Weekly meal plan - problem solved!

Try it. I promise, it helps a busy family. Working outside the home or not.

Here is a sample week for my family -

MONDAY (chicken meal)
Chicken Adobo
Steamed Jasmine Rice
Pan Sauteed String Beans
Decaf Iced Tea with lemon

TUESDAY (pasta meal)
Sausage Tortellini
Red Sauce
Big Italian Salad
Crusty Bread
Milk or water

WEDNESDAY (ethnic meal)
Taco Night!
Taco Meat
Refried Beans
Taco Fixins (Kids helping with most of this)
Big Taco Salad (Avo, tomato, corn, salsa ranch dressing)
Lemonade or water

THURSDAY (leftovers night)
Leftovers - first come first choice
Possible breakfast for dinner if there aren't enough leftovers
(sometimes my husband and I take leftovers for lunches)
Milk or water

FRIDAY (take out night)
Pizza or Chinese takeout
Family Movie night at home
Diet soda or decaf iced tea

SATURDAY (fish meal)
Panko Coated Baked Fish
Lemon Vegetable Risotto (homemade or from box mix)
Steamed Broccoli and Asparagus
Mineral water with lime

SUNDAY (beef meal)
Pot Roast
Carrots and Potatoes
Green Salad
Milk or water

In the event that you need specific recipes, here are a few of my favorite sites:

The Joy Kitchen (This is The Joy of Cooking online. Heaven.)
All Recipes (They have an excellent ingredient search.)
Recipe Source (Great resource for ethnic menus.)

Saveur Magazine
Tastespotting (Links to beautiful food.)

OK, ladies. Let me know if this helps at all.



Is this post right here. I spit my water all over my computer screen.

You can do nothing but visualize that scenario. And it can not be pretty.


Woke up with a headache.

Levi woke up and went to get dressed.

I gently woke Madigan to remind her that she had to shower this morning as she skipped it last night (we're an every-other-day-kid-bathing family). She gifted me with massive attitude and bitchiness - until the moment she came to me with her pink and white polka-dot dress and sweetly asked me to iron it. So I did. And let her know that I am nice to her EVERY SINGLE DAY. Even when I don't feel good. And when she treats me badly I don't feel like doing nice things for her like feeding her or allowing her to breathe, so next time the answer will be no. And since she loves being lectured in the morning she became jolly and delightful to be around.

Next I went to help Levi help him collect his things for the day and we realized that he left his backpack in dad's car last night. The car that is already at work with dad. And he's been forgetting every single thing in the world including his name and where his head is the last couple of weeks, so he got a lecture too. The permission slip for the train ride - in the backpack. If that doesn't get turned in he will be left at the school on field trip day to hang out with the office secretary. For the whole day. FUN. Also, his homework packet hasn't made it home in 2 days. So, there is that. Tonight there will be no fun at all as he has to do a week's worth of homework.

Suddenly I hear wailing from the bathroom. I run to see which limb is missing and what I find is Madigan standing in a torn dress. Seems the gauzy polka dot dress I ironed got caught in the zipper of her cute little hoodie and disintegrated when she tried to pull it out. Oh, Christ.

New outfit selection was, as I'm sure you know, a joy.

Meanwhile Levi decided to start throwing his suction cup ball at every single flat surface in our house. When he finally knocked the kitchen light cover down I yelled. He cried.

You'd think that was enough, right? Oh no. I'm just getting started.

Soon after Levi stopped crying, Madigan demanded to know where the folded piece of paper was. You know, the paper. The folded piece of paper. She had left it laying around some time last week. The FOLDED PIECE OF PAPER.

Needless to say, I didn't have said piece of paper. I could not locate the specific piece she was looking for. I folded and offered a variety of papers. They were not OK. This piece of paper was the cover for the report she's been working on for weeks. Stomp, stomp, stomp, grumble, stomp, stomp, slam.

Levi took this as his cue to wander outside on the deck. Ten seconds later I hear screaming. HOLY MOTHER OF GOD. Are you fucking kidding me?

He'd decided to step on the business end of the push broom. And the handle flew up and whacked him on the chin. Hard. First grade physics lessons are not as fun as they sound.

Ice the chin. Nag the kids to brush teeth and hair. Nag the kids to get their lunches. Nag the children to get in the car. Drive in silence to school. Tell them in a sing-song voice to have a great day!

Breakfast you ask? I think I threw a corner of an old moldy piece of bread at them on the way to the car. And they were grateful for it.



OK, it wasn't really a party. It was just a gathering of men (and 2 wives and 2 kids) watching rugby. Cause it's the rugby world cup, you know.

So Madigan had play practice until 6:00. And the guests were set to arrive between 6:00 and 6:30. And she had a ton of regular homework. And she has a report due on Thursday. Which is not yet complete. And she is running for student council vice president and the campaign speeches are Thursday so she has to practice that.

So she had to sit at the table doing homework all evening. She stopped to eat dinner with us all. But other than that she was doing homework until bedtime.

And I am mourning my little girl. The sweet baby whose head I had to smell whenever she was near. The toddler with the round face and the chubby little block feet. The preschooler who learned EVERYTHING and sang songs endlessly. The kindergartner watching the big kids with awe and fear. The elementary kid with some new interests and a little bit of cinchy homework.

It didn't last long enough. Those days went by too fast. I'm not ready for all this. I am ill prepared to have an independent young lady taking risks and sometimes getting hurt. My heart doesn't know she is older and has some life experience and has lots more to acquire before her days here come to an end. My heart thinks she just arrived on this planet brand new in need of constant supervision and direction. And regular kisses and snuggles. And the occasional hair stroking.

I wish I could be more excited and hopeful. Today I feel sad and overwhelmed. She apparently has a lot to teach me yet.



In our family there are a hand full of kids CDs that stand the test of time. They are sweet but not silly, they are smart and educational and fun!!

Have a gander!

Will You Be My Friend? by The Roaches.

Who knew you would love songs about laundry, mean kids and new bicycles? This sister group can harmonize with the best. Beautiful and thoughtful.

You Are My Little Bird by Elizabeth Mitchell
Classics like Little Liza Jane and Down in the Valley. Also sweet songs in English and Spanish and Japanese. But the very best of all is the most lovely version of "Three Little Birds" of Bob Marley fame. Sung by kids. Angelic.

The Anaconda la Bamba! by Lucas Miller

Saving turtles, eagles, cleaning up our waters and fire ants in our pants. Environmental and educational is oh, so catchy!

Laurie Berkner is great (and you may already know her from her features on kid TV).

And the eternal children's classic, Raffi will brighten any day. And he'll teach us a thing or two while he's at it.