Julia Child? Not even close

Like most children, I played chef. I’d press my Play-Doh ® into cookie-shapes and make “cakes” in my sandbox. My mother and I regularly watched a cooking show on one of the local television stations. I watched my mother prepare meals and I even took a 4-H cooking class. However, none of that really taught me how to cook or bake.

chickenDid you notice how I described what my mother did in the kitchen? I wrote that she prepared meals, which is far different from cooking or baking. My mom would rather be outside weeding or pruning than inside cooking or baking (truth be told, she would’ve rather spent her days water-skiing!). She took full advantage of all the time saving ways to prepare meals. Fry a chicken? Why go to all that trouble when you can buy pre-fried frozen chicken, pop it in the oven and dinner’s ready in about 45 minutes. Almost anything frozen or in a box was her favorite way to tackle dinner.

Mom made most of our birthday cakes (she’s famous for her pineapple upside down cakes), but they all came from a box mix. She usually made her own frosting, but other than that, it was all from a box.

yeast_rollsMy grandma, her mother, was a great cook and baked wonderful breads and rolls. I loved the warmth and heavenly aroma of her house when she baked. She could grab the most interesting ingredients and make something incredible! Mom’s younger siblings are good cooks, especially her brother. I’m sure my mom must have observed her mother cooking and baking, but for some reason, she never emulated her mother’s domestic talent.

So, I suppose it’s not surprising that I am not a good cook. I remember making pancakes for me and the husband one Saturday morning shortly after we were married. They weren’t good. I tried a few more times without any luck and turned to mom’s solution – Eggo® waffles.eggo

Oh, I can make a few things, well. The husband likes his mother’s chicken and rice recipe and her chicken enchiladas. Those turn out well, but I’ve never mastered her meatloaf. If he wants her meatloaf, he asks her to make it.

I’ve come to terms with my lack of culinary skills and usually just stick to my strengths. However, I recently came across a recipe that looked really good and really easy. I correctly followed the directions, used all the correct ingredients, and popped it in then oven at the correct temperature for the correct amount of time. It should’ve looked like the picture, right? Wrong!

Maybe I should have just picked up some pre-fried frozen chicken.

My cooking *finesse level:  Novice     Advanced beginner     Competent        Proficient        Expert

What’s your cooking finesse level? *finesse (skill, flair, grace elegance, poise, assurance)

The long and short of 90 seconds

I often excuse myself for not accomplishing more because I don’t have enough time. Sometimes I decline invitations because I don’t have enough time. Seems like there’s just never enough time; or is there?

In media relations, it isn’t uncommon to think in terms of small increments of time, such as 90 seconds. When facilitating a live shot and the person scheduled to be interviewed is not in sight, they get a “We go live in 90 seconds!” text. Time to hurry up, get going! However, if a pitched story gets 90 seconds of air time, you happily say, “My story ran a minute 30” (one minute and 30 seconds).

timeIt’s the same amount of time whether you say one minute and 30 seconds or 90 seconds, so the difference is just perspective. If I’m waiting on hold for 90 seconds, it seems like forever, but if one of my granddaughters’ visits is ending in 90 seconds, time flies!

I began mulling over the long and short of 90 seconds while waiting for something to heat in the microwave (another thing that seems to take forever). Rather than just listening to the hum of the microwave for 90 seconds, I could possibly do something productive. There’s always something that needs a little attention in the kitchen. In 90 seconds you can empty a few items from the dishwasher, wipe a counter or sort through some mail.

I have the same 24 hours a day that everyone else does, so it’s not about whether I have enough time, but how I use my time. My time management skills need a little *finesse, but I’m getting there, 90 seconds at a time.


My time management *finesse level:  Novice     Advanced beginner     Competent        Proficient        Expert

What’s your time management finesse level?

*finesse (skill, flair, grace elegance, poise, assurance)

Presidential relations

white houseBefore anyone get’s the wrong impression, this blog post is NOT a Monica Lewinsky-type confessional. Neither the husband or I can brag about being direct descendants of Presidents or First Ladies, but since we are celebrating Presidents’ Day, I thought it might be interesting to explore how we might be connected (if at all) to those who have occupied the White House.

Ancestry.com has a cool feature that allows subscribers to find famous relatives, and this is what I discovered.

Speaking of Monica, President Bill Clinton is the husband’s 5th Cousin 1 times removed on his mother’s side of the family.

RBHayesHis paternal side of the family is a little better connected:
First Lady Elizabeth Kortright Monroe – 5th Cousin 5 times removed
First Lady Anna Tuthill Symmes Harrison – 6th Cousin 3 times removed
President Millard Fillmore – 8th Cousin 4 times removed
First Lady Jane Means Appleton Pierce – 5th Cousin 5 times removed
President Rutherford B. Hayes  – 6th Cousin 3 times removed
First Lady Lucy Ware Webb Hayes -6th Cousin 3 times removed
First Lady Ellen Louis Axson Wilson  – 7th Cousin 2 times removed
President Richard M. Nixon – 7th Cousin 1 times removed

My connections on my dad’s side of the family:
First Lady Jane Means Appleton Pierce – 5th Cousin 7 times removed
First Lady Ida Saxton McKinley – 6th Cousin 3 times removed
First Lady Edith Kermit Carow Roosevelt – 7th Cousin 3 times removed
Teddy_RooseveltPresident Theodore Roosevelt – 7th Cousin 4 times removed
First Lady Ellen Louis Axson Wilson – 7th Cousin 3 times removed
First Lady Grace Goodhue Coolidge –  8th Cousin 4 times removed
First Lady Lou Henry Hoover –  9th Cousin 2 times removed
First Lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy – 10th Cousin 2 times removed (Hey, Caroline! Can I drop in on the family at Hyannis Port?)
President Richard Nixon – 7th Cousin 3 times removed
President Jimmy Carter – 6th Cousin 4 times removed

My connections on my mom’s side of the family:
President Rutherford B Hayes – 6th Cousin 6 times removed
First Lady Lucy Ware Webb Hayes – 8th Cousin 4 times removed
First Lady Edith Kermit Carow Roosevelt – 8th Cousin 4 times removed
First Lady Ellen Louis Axson Wilson – 8th Cousin 4 times removed,
First Lady Elizabeth Wallace Truman (or Bess, as the family calls her) – 8th Cousin 3 times removed
President George H.W. Bush – 8th Cousin 1 times removed
President George W. Bush – 9th Cousin (Get the BBQ goin’ in Crawford, Cousin, ‘cause I’m comin’ by for a visit!)

If only our common ancestors had kept in touch! Do you have any presidential relations?

Puppy love

Valentine’s Day always reminds me of one of my old boyfriends. Not that I still have feelings for him, but because we began dating on Valentine’s Day in 1975.

I’d had a crush on this guy since I was about eight-years-old. Crazy, huh? Maybe it was because he was two years older or because he had the same name as my beloved grandpa, who knows, but I had a severe case of “puppy love.” I watched heartbroken as he “went steady” with other girls, most of whom were his age.puppylove_1

After waiting for seven years, he finally chose me! Funny, you’d think I’d remember the how and where of that event since I’d been dreaming of it happening for all those years, but for the life of me, I can’t recall a single detail.

I remember it was a lot of fun, at least for the first six months, but then I began to enjoy being without him as much as I enjoyed being with him. We went to different high schools, so I only saw him on weekends, which strangely was just fine with me. I still liked him – a lot, but he wasn’t at the top of my priority list. To be honest, he probably didn’t crack the top five on that list. I began to ask other couples if the way I was feeling was normal. All I heard was a resounding, “No!”

In retrospect, as a senior he was concentrating on his future beyond high school and as a sophomore I was concentrating on my future on the cheerleading squad. We were out of sync, but I hesitated in breaking up with him. There wasn’t anyone else I wanted to be with and I didn’t want to hurt him. And what if I’d regret it later?

puppylove_2Finally, he said something that gave me the courage to end things. He said he felt I had been drifting away from him. If there was ever an open door, that was, and it was wide open. It was the hardest thing I’d done in my life up to that point, and yes, he was hurt (although his hurt healed much faster than I expected).

That relationship lasted a little more than a year and taught me that I wasn’t ready to have a relationship. For the next two years I dated and enjoyed being with my friends, and that’s what was best for me emotionally. I had time to be me without thinking about someone else, until I was ready. I determined that the next time I was in a relationship I would concentrate on the friendship rather than being starry-eyed.

Fast forward 38 years and I’m happily married to the love of my life, and the old boyfriend is happily married to the love of his life. The feelings of puppy love are real, but those feelings have a way of fading away. The love that forms in a deep friendship goes the distance. So, happy Valentine’s Day to Jerry & Mary Scott and an especially happy Valentine’s Day to my very best friend, my special blessing from God, my husband, Chris!

The “miracle” of water


Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I really enjoy reading health tips, and Facebook has made that very easy. However, I have a thing for accuracy, so I *Google anything I’m interested in trying.

I did just that after reading information supposedly from the Mayo Clinic regarding drinking a glass of water before bedtime to reduce the risk of heart attack or stoke and drinking two glasses when you get out of bed in the morning to jump start your internal organs.

According to articles on Google, yes, the information is absolutely true and no, it’s absolutely false. Isn’t the internet a great tool?!

The best way to discover the truth was to go directly to the Mayo Clinic website. My search for “best time to drink water” and “water heart attack stroke” didn’t yield specific results. However, I did find a nice, concise article, Water: How much should you drink every day, which provides some good common sense information.

We should all know the basics shared in the article, such as “every system in your body depends on water” and “water flushes toxins out of vital organs, carries nutrients to your cells and provides a moist environment for ear, nose and throat tissues.” On the other hand, the “lack of water can lead to dehydration,” robbing your body of the ability “to carry out normal functions” and draining your energy and making you tired.mayo_logo

Pretty fundamental information, however, I did read a challenge to the conventional thought of drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day.

Eight 8-ounce glasses of water is “about 1.9 liters, which isn’t that different from the Institute of Medicine recommendations.” (roughly 3 liters or about 13 cups for men and 2.2 liters or about 9 cups for women)

The article goes on to say that the rule isn’t supported by hard evidence, but remains popular because it’s easy to remember. To be more accurate, the author believes we should exchange the word fluid for water, “because all fluids count toward the daily total.”

The thought of water not being our only source of hydration is further explored in an article in Parade Magazine, The truth behind the myths parents tell kids, by Ken Jennings (of Jeopardy fame).

KenJennings“In 2002, a kidney specialist named Heinz Valtin, M.D., concluded this rule was an accident. Back in the 1940s, the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council recommended ‘one milliliter of water for each calorie of food.’ A 1,900-calorie diet would indeed work out to about 64 ounces of water a day. But everyone seems to have forgotten the next sentence: ‘Most of this quantity is contained in prepared foods.’ Most of our water gets to us in non-water form. In fact, a National Institutes of Health doctor told the Los Angeles Times that a healthy adult in a temperate climate could replace his body’s daily water loss with food alone! The Center for Nutrition found that even supposedly ‘diuretic’ beverages (like coffee, tea, and soda) provide almost all the hydration that water does.”

O.K., I’m not ready to give up drinking water or any other beverage to meet my hydration needs, but it is important to separate fact from assumption.


Image courtesy of zirconicusso / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The bottom line is that we need to listen to our bodies and drink when we’re thirsty. Hydrate when you exercise. Hydrate in hot or humid weather. Hydrate when you’re breast-feeding. Hydrate when you have an illness accompanied by fever, vomiting or diarrhea (although I’d drink Gatorade rather than water in this case).

Water might not be a miracle cure for what ails you, but it can’t hurt. It has zero calories, is inexpensive and is easily accessible (at least in most locations), so go to grab some water and let’s toast to a life filled with more **finesse!

*(yes, Google is now a verb – at least in my world)

**finesse (skill, flair, grace elegance, poise, assurance)

January goals recap

It’s easy to make goals, but harder to reach them. In an effort to keep myself on track, I’ve decided to give myself a report card every month.

Writing Goals – C
Post blogs three days a week:  I fell short of that goal, but I have posted something every week, which is better than what I’d done in Nov. and Dec. last year

Write 1000 words per week: I made some good progress and have reached nearly 4000 words. YEA!

Health Goals – D
Research and try migraine treatments: I was told about a potential treatment and am waiting for my neurologist to reply to an email.

Consistent exercise: I did pretty well for a couple of weeks then not so well. Back at it again today!

PT for tennis elbow: Pretty much failed at this – must improve!

Household Goals – A
Organize every room and closet in the house: I’m nailin’ this one! I have the dining room organized and part of the walk-in closet in the master bedroom.

Personal Goals – B
Read two books: So sad – no progress on this item.

Document family history: Not as much done as I would have liked, but the progress is steady.

Plan 34th anniversary trip: Preliminary planning done!

Spiritual growth: This is difficult to measure, but I am being consistent with my quiet time.

So, for the month of January, I have a 2.5 GPA. I need to summon more *finesse and bring that up to at least a 3.0 for February!

*finesse (skill, flair, grace elegance, poise, assurance)