Life with a Rising Food Network Star

We’re going to have a meal-time quiz. Please have a look at these statements.

  • “The sear on this meat is great and I’m impressed that the inside is also so tender.”
  • “Your cake is moist and flavorful, but I think you could’ve done more with the presentation.”
  • “How long did you let this marinade for?”
  • “Don’t you want to use the other whisk?”
  • “The egg whites in the carton don’t whip as well as the ones we separate ourselves.”

Now, tell me if you think they are from:

A) Food Network shows

B) My six year-old daughter

C) Both A & B

If you answered C, you are correct.

Welcome to my life with a 45-pound Food Network addict.

I’d like to thank the recent surge in kids’ cooking competitions for fueling my eye-of-the-tiger daughter with the drive to perfect her craft. And to critique her mother every step of the way.

It started last year, very innocently, with her newfound love of baking. We kept it easy — cakes, muffins, cookies and cupcakes from boxed mixes and icing from cans. She enjoyed helping me mix and decorate. Life was simple then.

I bought her a little baking cookbook for her birthday last summer, and that’s when her focus became a little more intense. She would dog-ear the pages of the recipes she aspired to make with me and discuss at length how I needed to adjust my grocery list to accommodate her plans.

And then the Kids’ Baking Championship came along on the Food Network, and her mind was blown. Frankly, so was mine. How the hell do these kids know how to come up with these creative baking solutions on the spot and impress Valerie Bertinelli and Duff Goldman (both of whom, incidentally, now rank at near-Santa celebrity status in my daughter’s eyes)?

In her weekly trips to the school library, she blew off Fancy Nancy in favor of borrowing baking cookbooks. We practiced reading at night by using words like non-stick, vanilla and Bundt.

My DVR quickly filled up with every episode of Kids’ Baking Championship. She watched them repeatedly, to the point where her two-year-old brother would throw his arms up in despair and exasperation because — and I quote — “she’s watching the macaroons again.”

The baking lists became longer.




While her favorite show went on seasonal hiatus, she discovered Chopped Junior. I was relieved to get a change of scenery on the TV and was also pleasantly surprised that she was branching out beyond baked goods. For a while.

She cooked breakfast for us (because who doesn’t prep eggs in a tankini?).


And, with adult assistance, some dinner as well.


And (bonus points!) my birthday cake.


This was really turning out nicely — a mother/daughter bonding experience in the kitchen, where I could pass along life lessons or share the divine recipes of my grandmother with her.

OR, it could go another way. Instead of memorable bonding, my daughter could instead begin judging my culinary techniques and output, asking if perhaps the pork was a touch overdone or if I planned to season the broccoli with anything else, or if maybe our station was too messy — all while pretending to be on live television as she narrates every move on our countertop.

I think she is actually starting to believe she is being filmed by a hidden production crew that magically fits in my house. She even allows her older brother to be a guest judge sometimes.

Once our actual food prep is complete and she re-hashes how I can do a better job in the future, we generally move on to pretend role play in the form of re-enacting the cooking and baking shows. In these games, she chooses a contestant from a beloved episode (invariably, a girl who wore pink or purple) and then recites their food preparation notes back to the pretend judge (me). She marches out to the elimination round with her hands behind her back, just like the Food Network standards, and awaits her pretend fate. She feigns shock every time when she prods me to declare her the winner.

Is it Oscar season yet?

The other component that has become very important in recent weeks is practicing her introduction for any potential appearance on these shows. You know, the way you get acquainted with a contestant in the opening minutes through a brief and peppy bio. She first likes to work on her entrance into the competitive TV studio kitchen (often a hybrid of the I-can’t-believe-I’m-here and I’m-confident-as-hell approaches, both tried and true), as well as the facts she’d choose to present about herself to her adoring audience. (Which gymnastics move should she do in the footage? Does she have to mention her older brother by name?).

Her toddler brother, ever the apprentice in this process, has been instructed to perfect his entrance and not run so quickly past the judges. To date, he hasn’t been great about absorbing and incorporating constructive feedback. She’s working on him. He is the sous chef to her cooking championship dreams, following her around and asking with sincere curiosity who got chopped at the end of the episode.

“Becky? Becky got chopped?” he demands.

“Yes,” she confirms, her eyes cast downward in clear disappointment. “She did not have one of the basket ingredients on her final plate.”

“OH,” he says, “Can we put on Paw Patrol now?”

And so it goes. The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, all in the test kitchen.

And, hey, thanks Food Network, for your latest installment into overachieving children with flames: Kids’ Barbecue Championship. You just made my summer grilling far more complicated.

In the meantime, I have to go check my seasonings and straighten up my station before the head chef gets home.



Did you like this? Share it:

Glutenus Minimus

We recently got back from Disney World, and you’ll be happy to hear that I will spare you from a  recap of my Neurosis Level 10 Planning Spectacular (which was, I have to say, my best WDW performance yet). I thought of everything and packed accordingly.

Oh, wait – with one caveat: I did not plan for a toddler who would projectile vomit, almost daily, all over Disney property.

Let me back up.

Like his brother and sister before him, my youngest child was a super chubby baby. He had giant cheeks, along with rolls in his forearms and cankles that required dedicated bathing inspections. At every check up, he was consistently in the 90th or above percentile for height and weight. I produce large kids.

In the last few months, he started to lose his future Olympian rugby player stature and seemed to thin out a little. It seemed to happen a bit younger for him than it did for his siblings, but the truth is that my mom brain is so fried that I couldn’t remember those exact comparative details.

So when I took him to his 2.5 year check up in December, I was pretty surprised to learn he had lost four pounds since June. Four pounds! My pediatrician didn’t believe it – literally – and said it must’ve been an error on the nurse’s part at his previous weigh-in, but of course I was concerned. He was due to have routine blood work and a state-mandated lead test anyway, so I asked the doctor if maybe we should just throw in a Celiac blood panel. He agreed it couldn’t hurt.

I had seen a version of this movie before, three years ago, when my oldest was six and stopped growing for a year. Because my mother has Celiac Disease and it has a genetic component, we ran the blood test on him. His numbers were slightly elevated, but the endoscopy (the decisive way to diagnose it) was clearly negative.

So we had been down this road before and I was sort of expecting the same outcome.

Wish denied.

My pediatrician called me with the blood test results and said that my youngest son’s numbers were off the charts positive for Celiac. In fact, they were ten times higher than what my oldest son had registered. And so, back to the pediatric GI specialist we went and scheduled the endoscopy for a few weeks out – it didn’t seem urgent – after our return from Florida.

And then, the vomiting began.

It was sporadic at first, like once every few weeks. Then maybe once every week or ten days. I honestly did not think it had a gluten correlation in the beginning because we were firmly in The Season of 12 Million Random Viral Things Going Around. I also wondered if he maybe was having trouble with lactose sensitivity or if his endless runny nose/phlegm was making him gag. But he had no other symptoms. He’d projectile vomit, with no warning, and then instantly be 100% fine afterward.


We didn’t think it would be an issue on our trip because it was happening fairly infrequently. Yes, we were concerned, but in the absence of any other symptoms, we sort of chalked him up to one of those toddlers who randomly vomits now and then.

Now and then suddenly became every 24-72 hours in the days before our departure. We began to suspect gluten as the culprit but would not have answers until the endoscopy, so off we went to Florida.

Then the travel gods had lunch with karma, or something like that, and decided that we hadn’t had a good old Fordeville vacation shitshow in a while.

And on five of the eight days at Disney World, he threw up.

In the hotel hallway. At Be Our Guest. On Main Street USA. In his crib on the Mickey sheets.

The good news is that nobody outside of our family even blinked. Not once. It was either Disney Magic or everyone is used to some level of sick traveling kids. So, thanks, fellow Spring Breakers, for not making us feel worse than we already did. Because we felt fucking awful about it.

At that point, we pretty firmly believed this was a gluten issue but here’s where the really horrible part comes in: To have the endoscopy (which was within a week at this point) be conclusive, you need to keep the child on gluten so the true damage can be seen during the test. So that felt painful to inflict upon him. We kept extra clothes for him and tons of wipes on hand at all times. Also, I bet you didn’t know the Disney poncho had an alternate use, did you?

I joke but it wasn’t funny to see how quickly this was escalating. After each episode, he was completely fine and it did not stop him from enjoying our trip. But, had we known how frequently it was going to  occur, we may have postponed.

Two days after we returned home, we brought him in for his 7am endoscopy and basically knew what we were going to hear. The GI specialist was going to tell us her findings from what she could see through the scope, but she would also biopsy some of the tissue – and we would need to wait for those results to come back to get a definite diagnosis.

I don’t know about you, but putting kids under anesthesia really makes me irrationally upset and nervous. I don’t like seeing them go forcibly to sleep, or watching their little bodies go limp once the medication takes hold. Because my son has terrible veins, the anesthesiologist warned me that they’d need to first put him out with a gas mask and then do the IV once he was sedated. They let us go into the procedure room with him for the anesthesia portion, to provide comfort, but I find that so, so hard to watch.

Thankfully, it all went off without a hitch and we had him awake and eating lemon ice about 40 minutes later. We were in the same exact room where my older son sat after his endoscopy and it was all very deja vu. Children’s hospitals are truly amazing places filled with wonderful, nurturing people who know every trick in the book to keep kids (and moms) at ease. It did not escape me for a single minute how lucky we were to be there in an outpatient capacity, while so many families spend significant time there with chronically ill children. Despite the circumstances, I felt lucky beyond measure.


The doctor told us she saw damage consistent with Celiac and that we should expect a positive biopsy. She left it up to us if we wanted to start eliminating the gluten right away or wait for a firm diagnosis. We had anticipated this conversation and bought a few gluten free staples for the house, and so we just went ahead there and then with taking the gluten out of his diet in hopes of stemming the vomiting – which we were told could take weeks.

That was twelve days ago and our son has not thrown up since. His appetite has increased significantly. In fact, I’m sure that some of the food issues we were seeing recently with fussiness and refusal had to do with how crappy he felt and how he was unable to express that to us. Sure, he still has age-appropriate pickiness but the full-on hunger strikes seem to have diminished. I honestly didn’t think we would see an improvement like this so soon. His color even looks better. On Friday, his pre-school teacher told me he is smiling more. I’m so glad he’s on the mend, but I’m also so upset by how awful he must have been feeling before this and how long it went undetected.

But, onward and upward.

My friends all give me a sympathetic groan of “Uggghhh” when I tell them we have to keep him gluten free. It seems like a pain in the ass. Honestly, I’m not upset about it – and I’m rarely a look-on-the-bright-side person. The truth is this: He is two years old. His unsophisticated palate consists of about seven foods. He will never remember the difference. And there are so many GF products out there now.

Also: This is totally manageable and he is getting healthier, so it’s all fine.

My mom was diagnosed back in 2004 with Celiac, which was basically the Dark Ages of Gluten Free Anything. She was in her 50s and had to change her entire way of eating from everything she’d ever known. At that time, she had to make a lot of it from scratch, as the products were so few and far between. The gluten free presence in restaurants was unheard of. And yet, she has always been unwaveringly diligent about keeping gluten out of her body, down to cross-contamination threats. And so, of course she is a tremendous resource to us right now (and her soft spot for her youngest grandchild probably increased about 4000% in GF solidarity). Now, it seems that everyone knows someone who is gluten free for one reason or another, and I have gotten so much helpful advice and sincere offers for assistance in navigating this path.

Will our whole house go gluten free? Probably not. I’m definitely concerned about keeping the cross-contamination down from my older two kids, but that’s manageable. My husband has a certifiable addiction to most foods with gluten, so I don’t think he’s ready to have the pillar of his food pyramid taken away from him. Yet.

My older kids have to be re-tested for Celiac in light of their brother’s diagnosis. I have to be tested, too. So we’ll see how all of that nets out.

For now, I’m just glad to not have cleaned up vomit in a while. I’m glad my sweet boy is feeling better. And I’m glad that gluten free cookies don’t taste so bad.



Did you like this? Share it:

Is it Still Baby Weight Two Years Later?


I think we can all agree that the following topics are not in my blog wheelhouse:



-How-to posts of any kind (with one exception: How to Lose Your Will to Live at the DMV).

That’s because, apparently, I’m an expert in pretty much nothing.

That being said, I’m going to venture into uncharted territory here. Stick with me because this is going to look a lot like advice and how-to but I promise it’s not. It’s just the story of something I’ve been working on for a few months.

Let me start the topic off like this: When is it no longer just baby weight and just regular old extra weight? Six months later? One year? Two years?

When January 1 rolled around this year, I was seriously coming up against Option C. If I didn’t do something about the alleged baby weight soon, I’d still be holding onto it when my child turned two. And so I decided to get off my ass and make some changes.

This decision was made quietly at first, because I didn’t want to be one of the countless people (as I’ve been many, many times before) who boldly announces weight loss intentions around the New Year and then is off the diet wagon before February arrives.

But I quickly realized that deciding quietly wasn’t going to get me anywhere if I wanted to be accountable for my calories. And so I was thrilled to hear that some of my fellow blogging friends wanted to slim down in 2015 as well. We formed a closed Facebook group and stroked each others’ hair as we collectively set out on the winter of our discontent.

Before I go any further, let me say something. No, I don’t believe that one’s self-esteem should be based strictly on weight. Yes, I believe you should love yourself. But if you feel crappy enough about your weight to the point that it affects you (whether that’s 5 or 100 extra pounds), that’s what I’m talking about. And that was me. I could tell myself, “Oh, but I’m 43 with three kids – what’s an extra 20 pounds? I have to give myself a break.” Yeah, I did give myself a big old break, filled with calories and very little exercise. And, over time, that 20 pounds probably would not have been the end of it, but just a point on a long-term bad trajectory.

I know how to successfully lose weight – I’ve been to this rodeo a few times before. In fact, I deserve VIP weight loss rodeo seating. So why did it take me 18 postpartum months to actually do something about my annoying muffin top and feeling like drapey blouses were really my most flattering look? Because I wasn’t ready. Right or wrong, I didn’t have it in me. Having a third kid really threw me in many ways, the least of which was not the complete and total lack of sleep for a year and a half. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – my youngest child was the crappiest of crappy sleepers. I felt like I was in that newborn survival mode for well over a year and I physically could not take on anything else. Was it an excuse or legitimate overload (no pun intended)?

It’s a fine line, but that’s how I felt. Until I didn’t, right on January 1. Like a cheesy commercial, I was ready. And until you’re ready, it’s just not going to happen.

Fast forward to my baby’s second birthday earlier this month. I had done what I set out to do. I lost 25 pounds.

Now for the part where I disclose all of the magic.


No magic, friends. Sorry. Just a very long and boring winter of one choice after another.



But, in the spirit of misery loves company, here’s what absolutely helped me along the way:

–You bite it, you write it. Weight Watchers really should acknowledge me on their quarterly earnings calls for my significant, ongoing contributions to their bottom line. They love members like me because I’ve continued to let my credit card be charged every month for yeeeears. You know, just in case THIS IS THE MONTH when I’m going to make it happen. Well, January 2015 was that month. And February. And beyond, to this day. WW is something that has always worked for me, but that’s borne of familiarity and a Final Jeopardy-level ability to name the point value of practically any given food. But there are plenty of ways to do it – My Fitness Pal or just a plain old pen and paper – as long as you know what is going in your mouth. 25 pounds ago, I was well aware that I was eating too much, but what amazed me when I started diligently tracking was the stupid shit that added up – the bites of my kids’ untouched mac & cheese or chicken nuggets (what is it with chicken nuggets?!). Come on.

“But I haaaate tracking, it’s soooo annoying.” Yes, yes, it is. You know what’s more annoying? Your pants being tight to the point of feeling like a circulatory risk. Give the tracking two weeks, I say, and then it becomes so, so much easier. Because if you are like me, even your most sincere guestimate of what you’re eating is probably 20% lower than the actual intake.


–Planning. Listen, I found the idea of weekly meal planning laughable for a long time, given that I can barely plan my next hour. But here’s what I started doing and it has paid off in spades: Every Sunday night, after the kids go to bed, I spend one hour online looking at Pinterest and planning out my meals for the week. Then I list all of the ingredients I need and place an online grocery order to arrive on Monday morning. The guesswork is done and so is the shopping, sans whiny kids in the cart taking down aisles of inventory. There is no scrambling on a starving, empty stomach over what I am going to have and how many points it was going to cost me. One hour on Sunday night, big payoff all week. One little hour.


–CHEAT DAY. This is huge. I am a firm believer in having a day every week to eat (and drink) absolutely whatever the hell you want. My day is Saturday. I do my weekly weigh-in every Saturday morning, which forces me to stay on track Friday night. After I weigh myself, I basically have whatever I want for 24 hours. Yes, I have gone overboard. And yes, I have still lost weight because it’s one day out of seven. And here’s the thing: Once I got accustomed to eating better, I found that I went less overboard as time went on. This doesn’t mean that I don’t ever cheat during the week – we all do – but it’s a lot easier to pass on something tempting if you know you’ll have what you want for a whole day on Saturday.


–No more weeknight drinking. I KNOW. But wait, don’t delete my post yet. Because, if you think this one didn’t hit me where it hurts, then either you don’t know me or I have not properly expressed my affection for white wine. And it’s not that I was boozing every night. But if we’re being honest, I did love a glass of wine most evenings. I stopped for two reasons: First, because one glass of wine uses up precious allotted points/calories, so you’ve got to reeeealllly want it. And second, even one glass in, I tend to find myself getting very snacky and loose with the food self-control. So, no more. Again, this can’t be forever and without fail. Like two nights ago, a good friend invited me out for drinks. I hadn’t caught up with her in ages and needed the night out. So, I budgeted my points for the day knowing that I’d probably have two glasses of wine that night. But mostly, I do save it for Saturdays. See? Cheat day.


–My ladies. So my fellow bloggers in weight loss are a godsend. Seriously. When we first got started, we had daily food threads in our Facebook group. We formed a group Pinterest board where we could share recipes. We did monthly fitness challenges, like planks and arms and abs so we could all curse at each other. We have weekly weigh-ins. We post our activity every day. We commiserate when we inevitably have a bad eating day and we cheer when someone hits a milestone. We are FitBit friends. The notion of having a group to whom I’m accountable changed everything for me.


–Find your exercise. My name is Kim and I hate running more than most things I’ve ever encountered in my four decades on this planet. So, I don’t try to run to lose weight because I’d be miserable. I’ve tried many things. I had a brief stint with T-25 last year but really wanted to hurt Shaun T after a few weeks. I do walk when it’s nice out but I have a toddler whose main goal in life is to bust out of the stroller, so that’s essentially the opposite of relaxing and therapeutic for me. A few years ago, I found what I loved/dreaded and what worked for my body, which is Pure Barre. Now, I thought I would need a police escort to the ER after the first few classes, but I stuck it out and it’s really the only type of exercise program that I’ve consistently stayed with for an extended period of time. You might prefer to hit the treadmill or Cross Fit or swim, but the point is to find what you like so that you actually want to go. My good friend is getting her teaching certification in pilates now, and I’ve gotten hooked on some of her classes as well.


–Just say no to pants without buttons. This is a random rule that I’ve imposed upon myself because yoga pants are just way too forgiving and don’t really tell you the whole truth. And nothing really brings you back to Earth like pants/shorts that won’t quite button. So, if I’m not actually working out, no yoga pants. (Maxi dresses are a tough summer loophole to this rule for which I have no solution yet.)


See, now I sound like I’m giving advice. Sorry – I don’t mean to. I’m no expert, by any means – and, in case you didn’t notice, I’m also not disclosing any groundbreaking information. You probably knew all of this before, being longtime conscious residents of Earth and all. I also suck at pep talks but would like to offer this: I am 43 with three young kids. I love food and wine, and my metabolism waged war on me years ago. So, if I can do this, anyone can.

Plus, it’s nice to have goals sometimes. For me, it was way more fulfilling than the fly-by-the-seat-of-my-unacceptably-sized-pants-and-try-to-eat-better-and-see-what-happens approach. That never seemed to quite work out.

This has been my focus for a few months now, so it’s on my mind a lot – and that’s where this post is coming from. Not from a place of guidance, but a story about something so many of us struggle with. I’m not endorsing any products. I’m not trying to be braggy. I’m just a girl, standing in front of a scale, asking it to land on the right number. Or something like that (Notting Hill has been on like 27 times this week).

And cheat day is never more than six days away. Right now, it’s in less than 24 hours. My wine is chilling and some treats are waiting. So there’s that.



Did you like this? Share it:

48 Hours With (Almost) No Kids


“Mom, did you know that Mema invited us to her house for a sleepover this weekend?”

“Yes, I did know.”

“For. Two. Whole. Nights.”

“Isn’t that nice?! For you two, I mean?”

“Yes, but what will you do? Won’t you cry without us for the whole weekend?”

“I will cry. Many tears. But I am happy for you and all the fun you’ll have.”

{Cue Academy Award nomination. Somebody please put me in touch with a stylist to arrange my red carpet look.}

* * * * *

And, just like that, my husband and I went from three kids to one for 48 hours. One who can’t yet talk, complain or beg for more time on the Wii, I might add. He just wants more carbs, basically.

When my mom delivered this fabulous offer to me, I immediately began making grand plans in my head. I had visions of productivity and finally, FINALLY making some progress on the 1,488 items that I never get the time to tackle. With just one child and two parents in the house, the scales tipped back in our favor. We were not outnumbered. We were not saving ketchup from the horrific fate of touching any nearby vegetables. We were not negotiating iPad sharing.

OH the shit I could get done. I was going to own my almost kid-free weekend.

So, let’s have a look at how well I did, shall we?


GOAL: Pay the bills.

REALITY: Increased the balance on the bills. Because, I’m sorry — but was I supposed to ignore the opportunity to hit up a summer clearance sale alone? I think it would be fiscally irresponsible if I had skipped it to pay full price elsewhere.


GOAL: Put measurable dent in laundry pile visible from space.

REALITY: Added to pile (see shopping reference).


GOAL: Get at least one good work out in.

REALITY: Went out to dinner. And breakfast. Because work out clothes were buried in aforementioned laundry pile.


GOAL: General massive overdue clean up of pretty much everything. Because, OMG.

REALITY: Yeah, notsomuch. I got my hair cut. Got a massage. Had fire pit-side drinks with my neighbors. Went for a long stroll (not to be confused with working out). Played with the baby without simultaneously yelling at two other humans to pick up their stuff.


So things didn’t go exactly as planned.

In my defense, it seems I was stricken by a severe case of Fuckitall — an unpredictable affliction with varying degrees of severity, often occurring in parents with unexpected free time on their hands. (See also: Opposite of Productivity). The only known cure for Fuckitall is to have one’s children return home and have standard Monday morning madness commence.

So, you should know that I’m back to my old self, buried under laundry, paying bills, avoiding workouts and facing my 1,488 to-do items again. But it was a great reprieve for everyone.

And, perhaps most importantly, I learned an important lesson about technology. If you want to create a Hallmark moment upon being reunited with your kids, all you need to do is use the slow motion feature on your phone’s video.

YouTube Preview Image

I mean, look at my son. Could he be any more overjoyed to see me? This is the greeting we all want as parents. It warmed my heart and even made me feel far less guilty about all the stuff I didn’t get done while he and his sister were away.

(Disclaimer: Real-time greeting was far less dramatic.)


Productivity is overrated anyway.


Did you like this? Share it:

The Pumpkinization of America

A few days ago, I posted a little tidbit on Facebook that I feared might get me fired from the Internet. Or from living in America:

I ducked my head and waited for the backlash. I know that PSL Nation is a loyal bunch and they show little mercy.

When I came up for air and peeked online, I found that, interestingly, I’m not alone. That I have allies in this pumpkin overdose disdain. Allies who have some strong opinions. Turns out there are more of us out there than I imagined.

So here’s where this post gets divisive. I mean, you either embrace the pumpkin movement or you wish for its swift and thorough demise. Maybe we can all get along in the end, but first allow me to vent.


First of all, if you are Team Pumpkin, let me just say upfront that you win. I totally lose and you totally win beyond the shadow of a doubt. OK? And the truth is that I envy you at this time of year. It must be fucking awesome to be bombarded with a new food option in your flavor of choice every 12-16 seconds. I love chocolate like it’s my paid job and, at this time of year, my options are practically nil in comparison.

Don’t believe me? Let’s just take my Monday morning mid-September errands as a frame of reference:

–Stop #1, Starbucks: Yeah, this is where America’s Pumpkinpalooza started, and we all know it. It’s ground zero for pumpkin flavored treats. And I know by now that, come Labor Day through Christmas, I’m going to be ordering the sole drink in my Starbucks location served up by the barista that’s not a fucking PSL. In fact, I think they called out my beverage today by incredulously saying “Kim? Kim? Your grande NOT PSL is ready.” This was followed by stark silence and then a collective gasp of disbelief by the 39 PSL junkies ready to tackle each other for their seasonal crack with a side of pumpkin cake pops.


–Stop #2, Bagel Store:  It’s hard to fuck up a bagel, especially in the greater NYC metro area. And while I could pass on such common favorites as the Everything or the Cinnamon Raisin varieties, I think they’ve earned their place in the line-up over the years. But this morning, as I waited my turn to be served, I had to listen to this mother/daughter exchange:

“I think I want the pumpkin bagel with the plain cream cheese.”

“Or, you could get the plain, or the sesame bagel, with the pumpkin cream cheese.”

“Or I could get both.”

“Pumpkin bagel with pumpkin cream cheese? Do you think that will be too much?”

It was a real dilemma they were facing. Honestly, it was a good thing I had already obtained my Starbucks {non-PSL} caffeine fix so that I was able to tolerate this conversation without an inappropriate outburst. I mean, I don’t know what kind of options these two gals were facing for their remaining meals today, but I hope they pulled through.


–Stop #3, Trader Joe’s:  I love me some Trader Joe’s seasonal items — but — holy shit. Based on my rough calculations, the store’s inventory is currently 89.8256% pumpkin-based. Pumpkin Butter, Pumpkin Pancake Mix, Pumpkin Spice Country Granola, Pumpkin Ice Cream, Pumpkin Macaroons and — wait for it — Pumpkin Doggie Treats.

OMG, can we please fast forward to the holiday season with the peppermint overdose aisle? Because now, I can’t even enjoy any of the free samples at TJ’s — and that means I have to make my own breakfast at home. Which is bullshit.


–Stop #4, Doctor’s Office:  I swear I’m not making this up. I was in the waiting room, when the man next to me phoned his daughter to tell her he had indeed found the Pumpkin Spiced M&Ms at the grocery store. I honestly thought I was being Punk’d at this point. Who messes with something as pure and good and right as M&Ms, for fuck’s sake? Free the M&Ms!


–Stop #5, Internet:  By this point, my morning errands were completed, it was clear that it was me against the Pumpkinsphere. I arrived home and set about my urgent tasks {aka firing up the computer}, only to have my senses attacked by an email from Pinterest pointing me to their suggested seasonal boards. Among them, of course: EVERYTHING PUMPKIN.

Like a moth to the flame of defeat, I clicked on over to see what inspirational culinary treats awaited me from the Church of Pumpkin Disciples:

  • Pumpkin Cheesecake Crepes
  • Pumpkin Crisp
  • Boozy Pumpkin White Hot Chocolate {With key words like “boozy” and “chocolate,” I’ll admit it gave me pause — but, still, no.}
  • Pumpkin Snickerdoodles
  • Pumpkin French Toast Bake! {exclamation point is theirs, not mine — clearly}
  • Pumpkin Pie Martinis {Hmmmm. Yeah, still no.}

It goes on and on and on. And beats the issue to death. As Pinterest tends to do.

Anyway. It’s no use. Operation Pumpkin Domination just getting worse every year and it’s apparently the new world order {fall edition}.

But don’t feel bad for me. Because you know who I feel bad for? Apples and their fan base. Apples were the perennial darling of autumn. But that shit’s over. Yeah, sure, many of us go apple picking and we eat apple pie and a few similarly flavored items. But, if we’re being honest, apples got screwed over by pumpkins. Big time. And their day is done.

The whole thing is fascinating, really. I should just be grateful that another member of the gourd or squash family didn’t obtain this level of stardom. Can you imagine?

So, I guess I’ll conclude my rant with a thin and insincere congratulations to Team Pumpkin. Enjoy your season in the spotlight, folks. Because, before you know it, PSL and all its culinary cousins will be a distant memory.

And I will be all hopped up on peppermint bark and lattes.




Did you like this? Share it:

The Dessert Bar Baby

During pregnancy, there’s a whole host of resources you can seek out about your unborn child’s development. They really run the gamut. You have the casual, woman-to-woman-insider-advice. You have the straightforward medical stuff. And you also have the more alarmist and stiff guides to pregnancy that would have you wearing a Hazmat suit to get a pedicure.

I’ve noticed a disturbing common trend in several of these resources. Not the constant reminders about how your body will morph into an unrecognizable expanding vehicle of life. No, I’m talking about how they measure the size of your unborn child each week by comparing it to a piece of food.

For example, in the last four weeks, my kid has been — respectively — the size of a mango, an ear of corn, an average rutabaga, an English hothouse cucumber and a head a cauliflower.

What the fuck kind of buffet do these writers frequent?

An average rutabaga? Incredibly helpful.

English hothouse cucumber? Where do I find one of these? HOW BIG IS MY KID? I have no idea. And isn’t this starting to sound racy?

I guess I’m not foodie enough to grasp my child’s development. And I suspect I’m not alone.

Also, what kind of marketing jackass decides on these vegetable representations? Am I supposed to be excited about a head of cauliflower?  “Ohmygod, I cannot wait until my little garden salad is born.”

No, my kid sounds shriveled up and smelly. Oh God, there goes my pregnancy gag reflex.

If you want to get my attention about the size of my child each week, try this: Compare him/her to a highly appealing dessert item instead.

Let’s compare models.

Week 23


“Your baby is more than 11 inches long and weighs more than a pound (about as much as a large mango).”


 “This week, your child is the size of a magical, zero-calorie double fudge scoop of ice cream wedged between two rich, freshly-baked chocolate, chocolate chip cookies.”


Week 24


“Since he’s almost a foot long (picture an ear of corn), he cuts a pretty lean figure at this point.”


“Good news/bad news: You are what you eat! Your adorable kid has taken on the size and shape of that chocolate eclair you doubled down on at the Italian bakery this weekend.”


Week 25


“Her weight — a pound and a half — isn’t much more than an average rutabaga, but she’s beginning to exchange her long, lean look for some baby fat.”


“Your sweet unborn baby now resembles a masterfully crafted portion of tiramisu. Have you had your gestational diabetes test yet? Yes, you with the blog over there and the relentless sweet tooth.”


Week 26


“He now weighs about a pound and two-thirds and measures 14 inches (an English hothouse cucumber) from head to heel.”


“Holy shit, your kid resembles a pile of churros. If you are not excited about this baby now, I don’t know what to tell you.”

Week 27


“This week, your baby weighs almost 2 pounds (like a head of cauliflower) and is about 14 1/2 inches long with her legs extended.”


“This week, your baby is the size of that giant bowl of rice pudding you had a few nights ago. Actually, that’s not true — we all know that bowl of rice pudding was more in line with the size of a toddler.”

Doesn’t my way sound much more relatable? I know it makes me feel more connected to my child. And to my full panel maternity yoga pants.

I think one thing is clear: When I’m looking for a follow-up project to I Just Want to Pee Alone (You’ve bought your copy, right? See how I slid that in there?), I have a clear future in pregnancy guide authorship. Or tri-state dessert reviews.

In the meantime, I have a lot to look forward to. I’m about to hit Week 28 — when my child will weigh as much as a Chinese cabbage. I mean, an extra-large pound cake with chocolate frosting.



Did you like this? Share it:

Disney World Planning Fail

Every December 26, I get the Post-Christmas Blues and, to combat them, I begin to plan our family trip to Walt Disney World in March.

I followed the same timetable this year and got my flights/hotel squared away.  Then I made the mistake of blowing off the dining reservations until last week — an ungodly seven weeks prior to our arrival.

This is pretty much Disney Armageddon.  The End of Days.  The Death of Tinkerbell.

Now, before you Disney veterans begin breathing into a paper bag, I should tell you that I know better.  I’m a seasoned WDW traveler.  And while I’m not the WDW Extremist who books my trip six months in advance, I have found that two months out is generally OK if the dates don’t coincide with Spring Break.

I just procrastinated with the dining this year.  And now I’m paying for it.

I don’t believe in planning every single meal at WDW in advance, but there are key restaurants/experiences I want to nail down ahead of time.  And then there is some ratio where I’m willing to wing it with some fast food-ish (aka Quick Service Dining) options.  That’s OK.  If it’s part of the plan to do that.

Let me illustrate exactly what you don’t want:  No plan at the stroke of 5pm, when your kids declare they are starving at the same moment that everyone else in Central Florida reaches the same realization.  

Because, at that point, you are left with these choices:

–Accept a hot pretzel as your fate for dinner, served by some 15 year-old in an awful costume who chirps, “Have a magical day!”

–Wait on some line for 45 minutes to eat at The Craptastic Desperation Buffet.  {I don’t think that’s the official name, but I’d have to check.}


Not willing to fully embrace this destiny for three meals a day over five days, I have come up with some alternate coping mechanisms for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

1.  Research a secret loophole for using FastPass in restaurants.  Screw Space Mountain, I want the front of the line at Chef Mickey’s breakfast.

2.  While in a crowded, enclosed space {presumably, waiting to go on a ride}, start a loud and highly plausible rumor about “those unfortunate findings” in the kitchen of Cinderella’s Royal Table.  “I mean, at first I thought the mice were part of the act, but…”

3.  Begin to fabricate false memories of how tasty the buffets were.  Maybe that dried out meat and side of Goofy pasta really was worth the $30 per person.

4.  Wonder how long the family can subsist on the illegal stash of cereal bars I have smuggled into the park {ssshhhhh, they’re watching}.

5.  Drop hints to the kids that eating lunch with a Disney character is overrated.  Suggest that Mickey and Cinderella are egomaniacs who  steal children’s french fries.

6.  Rationalize the money we are saving by sacrificing sit-down meals.  After all, a series of $8 hot pretzels is way more economical, paving the way for the irrational purchase of various overpriced memorabilia in the shape of mouse ears.

7.  Secretly scheme a pregnancy-related blood sugar crash in front of my favorite Disney restaurant during peak dining hours.

8.  Tell my family that, starting on this vacation, we’ll be juicing as part of a new health kick.  Assure them that the dizziness will pass.

9.   Consider cheating on WDW with dinner at Universal.  Risk being locked out of our WDW resort upon our return.

10.  Embrace the Vacation = Ice Cream philosophy to an extreme by feeding the family those delicious Mickey-shaped ice cream bars at every meal.  Praise myself for the parenting knowledge to offer significant dairy supplemental value to my growing kids.


There.  I feel better already.  I think these strategies will work, if it comes down to it.

But, just in case, I’m on hold with the WDW Dining Reservations Line as I type this — ready to execute my alternate plan:  Begging.

Did you like this? Share it:

Lessons From the Pumpkin Spice Latte Shortage


You guys.  It’s safe to go outside again.

The Great Pumpkin Spice Latte Shortage of 2012 has ended.  Apparently at some point last week, Starbucks declared the “pumpkin emergency” to be over and PSL was once again in plentiful supply.  Soccer Mom riots nationwide were narrowly averted.

It’s all going to be OK.  No Lululemons were torn in the fracas.

Personally, I was not one of the victimized masses of this near-tragedy.  Mostly because — sssshhhh — I don’t really get the whole PSL rage.  You can have my ration — I just want my high-maintenance grande, skim, no foam latte.  And probably a cake pop.  OK, two.

More broadly, I’m not an advocate of the Let’s Flavor All Possible Fall Food & Drink Items With Pumpkin rage, which seems to grow more extreme every year.  Growing up, I remember pumpkin pie and, well, that’s it.  Now, you can’t get away from gourd-infused recipes.  Pumpkin cream cheese.  Pumpkin ice cream.  Pumpkin-stuffed-pumpkin with a side of pumpkin sauce.  You want to stroke out?  Enter “pumpkin recipes” on the search bar of Pinterest.  It’s like another universe to me.  But this is a rant for another day.

Because I want to get back to PSL-Gate.  During the acknowledged shortage, there were customer tweets of rage, as well as national news coverage and official PR responses from Starbucks.  Oh, and eBay sales of alleged PSL mix.  Yes, really.

Had this not been resolved quickly, I fear we were mere days away from a rogue high school chemistry teacher going all Breaking Bad and cooking his own PSL for illicit distribution. {Not a bad business model, incidentally.  Maybe getting ahead of the curve and setting up your own Peppermint Latte Mix cooking crew now could pad your pockets with some extra holiday cash, in the event of a similar shortage.  Get your hands on a stash of those red seasonal Starbucks cups and, guys, you are in serious business.  You are the Walter White of overpriced holiday coffees.}

Anyway, it was close call, indeed.

If you or someone you love was affected by this issue, I hope you came through it OK with a satisfactory back-up beverage.  But now that things are settling down, I’d like to reflect on how an event like this could genuinely fuck up some real holiday season delights.

Imagine, if you will, a shortage of these must-have items:

  • Tryptophan.  Sweet Jesus, it’s bad enough that Thanksgiving falls a mere two weeks after the election — at which point I will be breaking bread with many a family member on the opposite end of the political spectrum.  If I can’t count on a post-turkey fit of narcolepsy, I will have to rely solely on liquor to get me through the day.  Again.
  • Egg nog.  This one may stir up debate — egg nog is divisive, no doubt.  Personally, I’m firmly in the pro-nog camp.  This may take the starring role of all the holiday food and drink items in which I vastly overindulge in the name of “It’s only once a year.”**  So while it’s true that an egg nog shortage could potentially bank me about 16,000 calories to use elsewhere, it would be missed.  And then I’d have an unwieldy rum and nutmeg surplus.

                      **where “once a year” = two full calendar months, on a daily basis

  • Any and all items in the Trader Joe’s holiday candy line-up.  What else will I eat while I stress out about the following night’s Elf on the Shelf placement?  Oh yes, I’m looking at you, Peppermint Waffle Cookies and Candy Cane Joe-Joe’s.  Wait for me in  aisle 4, loves.

These are the shortages that would really cause some medium to long-term damage for me.  And, yes — clearly, all holiday spirits, specialty drinks and wine fall into this category.  I figured that went without saying but you can’t be too careful.

I’m feeling a little panicky now, I have to admit.  If this could happen to PSL, what else is possible?  I mean, we’ve already been warned about a likely worldwide bacon shortage in 2013.

What next?

Stock up on your favorites, I say.  I mean, we don’t have to go all Hoarders in the grocery/liquor stores.  Use common sense.  Make a reasonable effort to look like you have some self-control and discretion.  Even if you’re screaming on the inside.  Stay calm and slowly, selectively, fill up your cart.

Let’s learn from this tragedy and take back some control over our favorite holiday treats.  Before it’s too late.

Now get going.


Did you like this? Share it:

The Male Mind in the Grocery Store

“Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.”

“Be careful what you wish for.”

“Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face.”

If we were playing $10,000 Pyramid, these would all be clues I could give you to describe a recent singular event here.   And we’d both be wearing plaid polyester.  In the Winner’s Circle, of course.

Contrary to popular belief, the answer to my clues wouldn’t be “Bad Cliches My Mother Overuses.”

No.  It would be “Things I Have Been Mumbling to Myself After Sending My Husband to the Grocery Store With the Kids.”

My back was out again last week.  Which played out nicely in avoiding things like laundry and grocery shopping.  My husband was more than helpful.  And I really shouldn’t complain that he did the grocery shopping.  I shouldn’t.

Because that would be bitchy and ungrateful.

I won’t complain.  I’ll just document what items came back with him.



If anyone needs me, I’ll be working on getting the Entenmann’s figure down to 5%.  It seems more productive and enjoyable than complaining.

Did you like this? Share it: