It must be me


This past weekend I had three days of blissful no phone/no fuss bonding, with a bunch of ladies who all shared the same goal.  To make pretty scrapbook pages,  to drink some wine, and to while away until the wee hours of the morning  knowing there was no need to get up early, no cleaning and no mediating arguments between minors for 54 solid hours.

According to the phone report that came in as I was preparing for the drive back home, my husband took care of the errands, the food shopping and doling out the chores while I was away.   Everybody was in a good mood, the house was cleaned up and dinner was in the oven.   “Take your time,”  he said, “enjoy your weekend.”

So as any smart woman would, I did just that.  I took my time and enjoyed my weekend.   I was the happiest kind of sleep deprived by Sunday evening and  I was hoping my relaxed stressless weekend could continue all the way until bedtime.

When I got home, the kids greeted me in the driveway.   They were all in a great mood.  Everybody helped unload the car and we moved pretty quickly from my homecoming to dinner and kitchen clean up.

After dinner as we relaxed together on the couch for a short while, I started to notice things not really done.  The barely vacuumed rugs, and the garbage that wasn’t taken out.  I checked with my husband to make sure he got everything at the supermarket and as it turns out the grocery list wasn’t completely purchased.  I gave him a sigh.  It wasn’t really so much that things went undone, it was more about those happy expectations he gave me that fell a little short of what I imagined.   He called to the girls, explained the situation to them and they redid what they were supposed to do, and they did it quickly and without any real complaints.   One finished the grocery list and the others finished the chores, shocking me, and providing a very nice ending to a very nice weekend.

But I guess my dear husband took the euphoria  with him when he left for work this morning, because by the 7:20AM school departure I’d already done it wrong, said it wrong, looked at them wrong, made the wrong food food choices and oh yeah, I didn’t wear a coat outside so accordingly I set an example that was wrong, wrong, wrong.    It occurred to me that none of that happens when dad’s in charge which brings me to this question.   Is it me?



It is.  It must be me, right?

Happy Monday .


Sorry Starbucks



SubstandardFullSizeRenderStarbucks makes me crazy.  When you make a pot  of supermarket coffee and drink it from your finest “You’re #1” mug, two things happen: you spend about a dime, and there’s not a lot of landfill.  But it isn’t really just the money or the garbage that I resent about Starbucks, it’s also how their most frequent customers take a transcendent thing like a cup of premium coffee completely for granted.

I grew up when the electric percolator was modern technology. Ours sat on the table or the kitchen counter (really just a wood plank balanced between the stove and the sink), and every day my mother filled it with water, added some measurement of coffee and set it to work. Through the glass dome on the lid I watched the liquid repeatedly appear and reappear a darker color each time, and with with every hue came an increased aroma of brewing coffee.  Every day it seemed magical to me that my mom knew the exact moment when it was ready  to pour.

One day my mother moved the percolator from the makeshift counter top and put a brand new mixer there. She announced with glee that we were going to make a cake. My job (which I did with intense purpose) was to crack eggs and check measurements and then press “start.” I counted seconds aloud to pass the time since two minutes is an eternity when you’re six, but somewhere around second 45 there began a loud and regular thumping and then a pulsing vibration. The wood plank slipped from its perch and everything on it, including the churning mixer went crashing to the floor. My mother held her arm in front of my body to protect me from flying cake batter and I watched as the power cord sprang from the outlet and whipped through the air like an angry snake, until finally the plug on the end of it hit the floor and everything went silent. I waited for her to speak, to say anything about what I should do but she just stood there.

I studied her face as she surveyed the stripes of cake batter that covered the entire kitchen, ceiling to floor, every wall, the chairs, the table, and the appliances. Her lips were slightly parted when she turned completely around to take in the entirety of the cake batter carnage. Finally she put her hands on my shoulders, looked down at me and said,  “Helen, I think we should go out and get a cup of coffee.” She nodded approvingly of her own decision, grabbed her purse and my hand and we walked to the nearby luncheonette.

Soon we were seated at a table for two, on chairs with worn gray vinyl cushions and a laminate tabletop that had speckles of red and silver.   A pleasant waitress greeted us and took the order – one cup of coffee for mom and one cup of milk for me, both in white handled cups with saucers please. The waitress smiled as she turned away. Things were improving. Quickly she brought two cups exactly as ordered and placed them in front of us. “Can I get you anything else?” She asked. Mom smiled broadly and said, “No, this is all we need right now thanks.”

I pushed my cup and saucer closer to my mothers so she could transfer some of her coffee into my milk until it turned light beige. Then we raised our cups, took our first sips and finally exhaled. Mom kept one hand around her coffee cup and the other hand moved through the air as she talked. I don’t really remember the exact conversation but I do know that in the next thirty minutes all of that mess in the kitchen changed from one herculean task to something small we’d take care of later, after we had a little time to get the right perspective, and maybe some cake. Occasionally the waitress stopped by and offered us a “warmer”, which my mother happily accepted, and when we left, mom paid with a dollar and I put the change on the table for a tip.

So my point is “Hey there Starbucks enthusiasts, you’re missing the point!” Coffee out should be savored, a side dish to great thinking, conversation, or dessert. It shouldn’t be regarded as overpriced fast food (or beverages). USA today has a handy calculator so we can feel empowered or horrible at the amount we spend on coffee in paper cups.  And that doesn’t figure in the cost to eliminate the 2.3 billion paper cups they hand out every single year.

Coffee Costs Click Here

 And what about the tip cup at the cash register? We are expected to leave a tip even before we’ve had any product and the only service we get is when over the din of the espresso machine, milk steamer and indie music tracks, a voice calls out the name they wrote on the paper cup so we can get up and fetch it.

But I have to admit, sometimes I do walk in to Starbucks, order a $5.65 Grande Cappuccino with an extra shot vanilla syrup, and I don’t complain about it.  It’s my mid week fuel and sometimes my lunch.   But then I also hear Tom Hanks in You’ve Got Mail, (1998), every time and I’m reminded that times have changed, and so has the coffee shop…


“The whole purpose of places like Starbucks is for people with no decision-making ability whatsoever to make six decisions just to buy one cup of coffee. Short, tall, light, dark, caf, decaf, low-fat, non-fat, etc. So people who don’t know what the hell they’re doing or who on earth they are can, for only $2.95, get not just a cup of coffee but an absolutely defining sense of self …  Nora Ephron

So I ask myself is that enough value right there? Could be. But still, Starbucks makes me crazy.

Mother’s Day 2015


mothers day presents

I have a hard time with Mother’s Day, forgive me children.  Before you, I would visit my mom, we had lunch, I gave her flowers,  and that made us both really happy.

Then enter a move, a mother in law, three kids and deep sense of obligation to drag us all from our house to my mother’s and then to my in-law’s, making sure no one was disappointed. But the truth is that as much as I did want to see them happy, what I really wanted to say was, “Can you all just leave me out? Let me stay home and watch TV? I want to eat a really good plate of French Fries and read a book while you all go out and visit.   Before you go just clean the house even a little bit so I feel better being here, and then when you all come home, you make dinner, clean up, and let me be the first one to go to bed?   Please?”

 I never said that until the year after I lost my own mom. I figured she’d want me to be happy so I asked my husband to take my mother in law and the kids all to visit his family an hour away. Then fate and an inattentive driver stepped in,  crashed into our car and sent the lot of them all back to me for the rest of the day.   As my mother would say, “Just be happy nobody got hurt.”

I don’t mean to say I hate Mother’s Day, although I do think it’s unfair to celebrate a holiday with inflated prices and guilt, particularly when some of us miss our moms, or miss being one.

This year my daughter is working, my husband is traveling which leaves me with two daughters at home.   We saw grandma Chibnik yesterday, and sadly we will only have my mom in spirit, but happy ones.   I kind of want to go to the mall and forget about the pile of dirty clothes.   I want to pick out a new purse, eat crappy food, and  remember this mother’s day as one of low stress, and high self love.

This morning I got cards and presents and hugs.   My spa plans didn’t work out but that’s okay.   I can always look at the kids who call me mom and know that I don’t need a holiday to feel special. Just look at my hand painted wine glass, fancy new watch and my new coffee mug. It’s more than enough. Now I can drink coffee and check when it’s time to switch to a nice glass of Pinot. Just boycott the $5.99 Hallmark cards and throw in a T-shirt that says your love is all the gift I need.  Well, maybe love and a small token of your appreciation.

Happy Mother’s Day

The wisdom oldself gave myself for my birthday


My birthday is looming and yesterday morning I had a little  pity party for passing youth.  At first it felt like bereavement for my younger prettier and thinner self, then it turned into wistful wishing for a smarter or richer life. I wished I still had a mother to cry to,  and then I thought about  Oldself.

Oldself isn’t in the dictionary but I’m using it anyway.  It’s just the younger version of our true selves but it’s not the truth.  It’s the one we choose to remember.   Not the one who suffered the  agonies and anxieties and mistakes of growing up, but the one who was happy and colorful and carefree and glorious. Oldself had no bad days, except maybe the darkest ones but even those are edited.  Oldself is pretty and young and is running in slow motion through a field of daisies, rushing in for a  hug that will last a good long time.  She doesn’t have acne, or arguments, she’s so happy she doesn’t even have a Christmas Wish List.  Oldself is completely content.

My kids have bad days sometimes and I remember that it was a thing once, to have a bad day.   I guess with age and experience in relativity,  you realize that  bad days are seldom if ever entirely bad, and that bad moments happen, and soon pass.   When my kids are having those down days I’m sometimes at a loss to help them because I surely can’t fix everything.   I can hug them and listen to them and hope the rest fades away.  I can talk about how they’ll forget all this one day but they don’t understand.  They can’t.   They don’t have an oldself yet.

Today when I look in the mirror I don’t see a young pretty energetic girl.  I see someone  who is certain that wealth isn’t measured in dollars and happiness surely doesn’t come from a store.   That’s where oldself and myself align, as I expect it will for my kids one day. But oh, for now in this in between time it’s true that for my young daughters,  sometimes life will be a real bitch.

So I am saying thank you to Oldself for a birthday present called perspective.  Try putting that on a wish list and you’ll see what I mean about aging,  I hate getting older but I don’t mind being wiser.

A gOOd Way To Eat A Cupcake

I rarely give a thought to cupcakes.  I try to avoid them altogether but cupcakes do have several advantages after all, like built in portion control and unlimited mix and match for those of us who like variety.  If you are lucky enough to have a good bakery nearby  you can also take yourself out for an inexpensive indulgence too. Ask them to put your cupcake in a box so it ‘s more like a present and bring a bow.

Years ago, we had a silly party with the kids in the neighborhood and for desert I made  a big platter of cupcpakes.   When our family friend Lisa showed us how to get frosting in every bite, it forever changed our cupcake eating habits.

Step 1 – get yourself a cupcake.


Step 2 – remove the wrapper and separate the top 1/2 from the bottom, use your fingers.


Fingers make the best tools for this step


Step 3 –  Place the bottom half on top of the frosting.  It should now  look like a whoopie pie.

Step 4 – Take a bite and  enjoy!


A new cupcake shop recently opened near our home and my oldest daughter has become a  devoted  customer.   Her favorite  flavor is Peanut Butter Explosion but mine is Pancakes and Bacon.   I was a little wary of the crumbled up bacon on top but as it turns out it’s a really gOOd cupcake. Try the Frosting In Every Bite technique for yourself on any old cupcake and tell me if you do.

If you’re ever in Red Bank, NJ stop in at the Cupcake Magician  and find your own fave.

And special thanks to you Lisa for being a really cool friend and neighbor and sharing this gOOd idea.  I miss you all the time but I’m happy you settled so well in your new state.


Use Facebook

I wrote this a while ago and it was an old blogpost.  But after reconnecting with high school friends last weekend I thought I would repost.

I was a long time hold out on Facebook even though I received dozens of invitations to join. I thought it was just another way to procrastinate and frankly I have plenty of that already. But when my daughter turned thirteen and was given permission for her own Facebook page, it was time for me to have one too. And now after months on the social network, I stand corrected.

Facebook has provided a way to reach out to friends and family, to have a constant reminder of what’s going on in town, with favorite businesses, in the movie theaters.  I get  book suggestions, weather updates and have even found myself in multiple online games with friends old and new.  I’ve even reconnected with a very good childhood friend  who moved away when we were seven.  We met finally at a winery of all places, after way too many years.

My first summer on Facebook we decided to pull back on summer camp and vacation spending. I devoted a little time looking for inexpensive activities for the kids – nothing out of my way, just a few extra minutes in a store or the library to look around and ask questions. I found plenty of free or near free things, free movies, $5.00 cooking classes, concerts, etc. Unfortunately I’m not a particularly organized person so I had flyers and handouts stuffed in my purse and I usually forgot about them until it was too late. Then it occurred to me that I could subscribe to most of these businesses on Facebook by finding them in the search box and clicking the “like” button. Now, I get daily or weekly notifications for all of my favorite places and I can add and subtract from that list whenever I want.  I follow my favorite authors, chefs, and even a few community theater groups so I don’t miss any more shows because I saw the poster too late!  My thirteen year old daughter “friended” me so I get a glimpse of her world without intrusion or distrust – that might be the best part.

If you have a Facebook story, please share it with me, you might see it here.

I hope you think that using Facebook is a gOOd idea too.