the gregarious homebody

Monday, December 29, 2008

Growing up Jewish in The Christmas City

Every year I am sensitive to the fact that my children are two of only a few, comparatively, Jewish kids in our town, beseiged by the Christmas trees and Santa of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Do they feel left out? Are they sad they don't have all the trimmings? Will they abandon their Jewish roots when they get older and have a choice? I've asked my kids the first two questions (afraid to even approach the 3rd) . Their answer? That yes, they wish that Christmas day meant something more to them, but mostly because their friends aren't available to spend time with them and because we don't have people at our house celebrating.

We do make a big deal about Hanukkah every year, inviting tons of friends (mostly not Jewish) to join in our own celebration. The kids love it. I think they like being different because, so far, being different in this way is way cool to their friends. As in: Eight days of presents? Awesome. Getting days off for Jewish holidays AND Christian ones? So lucky. Having a bar mitzvah party? Wow.

And, as I've found with most of the parenting issues I've come up against so far, the "problem" is really my own. My kids are growing up with being Jewish as much a part of them as having curly hair or being tall. It's just a part of who they are. Not something to really think/worry/agonize over. Some of their friends have straighter hair than they do. A lot of them are shorter. Most of them aren't Jewish. No big deal. But for me, it is a big deal because I chose to be Jewish.

I grew up, not as a Christian really, but as a Christmas Celebrater. Both my parents were questioners of faith at the very least, but very into the secular part of the holiday season. My dad who was at times when I was little, a difficult, surly man, became a complete mush at this time of year. While he did very little to involve himself in the daily grind in the lives of his children, every year he dressed up as Santa Claus and tapped on the windows of not only our house but all my friends' houses so that we could get just a glimpse of Christmas magic. He loved it as much as we did.

So when I made the decision to convert at 21 years old, it was a huge deal. I was very dedicated to my decision. I loved Judaism at once--for the traditions, for the reason that it was a part of the religion to question everything. My parents were totally supportive of my decision. They didn't particularly understand why I felt the need to make the change because of their own ideas about faith and organized religion, but they respected my choice because it was mine. The only snag was when Christmas came around and my dad, aka Santa, would say "I don't know why you can't have a tree. The Hafetz's had one!" I'd carefully explain that even though our family didn't think of Christmas as a religious holiday, I did. And as for the Hafetz's? I had no idea what to say (other than bursting out a few times "They're not real JEWS!"--whatever the hell that meant).

That was hard for me, but my dad didn't say it because he was cruel. He knew that I cried the whole ride home from their house those first five Christmases. I WANTED a tree. I WANTED all the pomp and tradition. But I knew deep down that it would be harder to give it up again once we had kids and besides, I'd made my decision anyway. And even though it was annoying at the time when I'd say to my husband, "Can't we have one just this year?" I'm glad he was firm in his opinion that even though he was completely fine with us celebrating with my parents at their house, he didn't want a tree or any other Christmas stuff in his house.

So 17 years later, I feel about Christmas the same way I guess that other Jews do. It's beautiful in our city with all the decorations. I like the music for the most part, penned mostly by fellow members of the tribe, by the way, and hey, of course I look forward to the food. But it no longer really makes me feel sad when I think about how my son, when he was small, would play Guess Who's a Jew by Finding the House with No Decorations (it used to go something like this: "Oh look, Mommy! That house must be Jewish! Oh, darn. They have a wreath..."). We're lucky to have eight beautiful nights of lighting the candles and making our own traditions that our kids will remember if they have children of their own.

AND we don't have the pressure of making it all fabulous and meaningful and special for one single day. We get to spread it out. Not too shabby.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

While I cream the eggs and sugar, this face is staring up at me:

Friday, December 12, 2008

Holy @$%&, the Sequel

Called up, rather casually, to make my appointment to take the GRE's and, holy shit, the office in Allentown didn't have any openings until JANUARY 13!!!!

So I'm travellin' down to Conshohocken on Monday, the 5th. Fun.

Monday, December 8, 2008


I just found out that I can't be so casual about taking the GRE's. I was going to give myself a goal of "late January" and it turns out it MUST be early January because my application has to be in by FEB 1. AAAAAAAAAUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUHHHHHHHHHHH!!!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Some Cool Vegetables I've Wanted to Post and a Couple More Gratutious Annie Pictures

Here is a picture of my favorite Dollar Tree mug. It is a large mug.
Next to it are two sweet potatoes.

One of them is normal-sized.

Why plant carrots that are reddish-purple outside
even though they're a normal orange color inside?
Because they are cool and named Purple Haze.

My gardening technique is very scientific.

Annie, meeting Molly and Pam,
who brought a "baby gift" for her and one for her "brother," Muttel.

My friends are as crazy as I am
and I love them for it.

Annie goes to Mrs. Wagner's class.
Mrs. Wagner, pictured here, is way too attractive
to be an elementary teacher.

The kids loved meeting Annie

and I was very pleased that she didn't return the love

by leaving a "present" on the floor.

One kid kept saying "EWWWWW!!" at the top of her lungs
everytime Annie gave someone a kiss.
This kid doesn't have a dog at home.

I think not allowing a child to have a pet is
a particularly nasty form of child abuse.

Friday, December 5, 2008

More Honey and Dash of Chocolate

It's hard to tell how tiny she is here.

This one is definitely being made into a 5X7, possibly in black and white.

Poor Gibson. What this picture doesn't show is my hands clutching him to make him stay still and his claws digging into the comforter.

Snuggling on the "coma bed"

BA (Before Annie), Muttel dressed for Halloween as a sushi chef

I am soooo going to be one of those crazy dog ladies when my kids move out (going to be??).

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Full Circle

this could be me at home or at Pi Phi. there is no difference.
from here

I chose my major in college for the final time (after dabbling in Radio Television and Film for a semester freshman year and then choosing Sociology because...I have no idea...) in my sophomore year because I had decided I wasn't going to actually *use my degree because I wanted to be a pastry chef. My parents wisely convinced me to continue towards my degree just to have one while I went to cooking school on the weekends. So I chose Women's Studies because it had classes that sounded interesting.

And most of them were. I took loads of literature classes--British Women Writers, Carribean Women Writers, Black Women Writers--because I've always loved to read. I was introduced to "classics" that probably still aren't recognized as such but that sit on my bookshelves next to Hemmingway and Fitzgerald. I learned about women's economic frailties should their husbands leave them. I experienced and studied the psychology of eating disorders in young women. These classes were enlightening.

Some classes were boring but necessary evils. Statistics was one of them. It was very frustrating to slog through a class I was certain I'd never need. It felt like the math section of the SAT's.

So I graduated with a BA in Women's Studies and went to work as a pastry chef right afterwards. I worked long hours on my feet and learned, among many things, a whole lot about how not to run a business, how to make beautiful edible art, and perhaps most importantly, that a degree in Life and Common Sense was as important as a "real" degree, if one did not want to have one's head up one's ass forever.

Then after having my kids and staying home with them (some of my professors would've been HORRIFIED at this decision; others thought like I do, that being able to have a CHOICE was the entire point), I got back out there and, after a couple different cooking forays, found myself at a sorority.

I've mentioned before that I was at first extremely hesitant about working for such an antiquated social set-up for women. "I have a degree in Women's Studies for christ's sake," I'd say. And while I see life more in shades of gray now (like, not all sorority girls are bimbos) than when I was in college myself, I'm sometimes unsure about how I feel about Greek life. There are a whole lot of things wrong with it; like almost everything being organized around alcohol and a serious lack of social structure when it comes to romantic relationships. But I see the positives too. Sisterhood, tradition...and a place to relax and just be a girl. They put up a strong front, these girls, but deep down, many of them are still unsure of themselves and just trying to become grown up women of some substance.

So now I've decided to make a change that will send me back to my roots a bit. I'm going to go back to school to get a Master's in Education Student Affairs Administration. Not exactly Women's Studies, but I think I'd like to use the degree to ultimately work in a women's center on a college campus. I've loved getting to know girls this age and I think I have an affinity for this kind of work. I love being involved, even in a small way, in a such a pivotal point of their lives.

So I'm glad (sort of) I took (and PASSED--yay!) Statistics. And it turns out that math does mean something at least as far as I have to know it for GRE's *gulp*.

Best of all, my dad is THRILLED that he paid for a degree that I'm actually going to use.

*this was a proud moment for my parents.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Puppy Breath and Pecan Pie Burps

Today, instead of travelling to the malls and celebrating Black Friday by getting incredibly irritated by annoying consumers, we travelled to Virginia to pick up our new 7 week-old yellow lab puppy, Annie. What a complete cutie. While I know every puppy is cute, this little sweetie is completely brimming over with adorableness. She's a tawny yellow so we've decided her full name should be Annie Honey (which is also a nod to her North Carolina roots).

Thanks to our wonderful friend Patricia who rescued the puppies from a crazy irresponsible hillbilly and drove halfway to meet us AND THEN REFUSED GAS MONEY, we're able to add to our animal family. HH wondered if this was strictly necessary, but I argued that, really, Muttel was DEVASTATED when Molly died. This puppy is JUST FOR HIM.

I am nothing if not selfless.

So this weekend we'll be eating the rest of a TERRIBLE chocolate pumpkin pie (a recipe I won't share) and the EVILLY DELICIOUS pecan pie bars I made and running in and out of the house trying to avoid using an industrial size Nature's Miracle bottle (with battery-operated spray gun!).

Baby pictures coming soon........

Monday, November 10, 2008

Is this what a midlife crisis looks like?

I'm a year and change from my 40th birthday and have been really questioning the direction my life is going lately. Not my personal life, but my work life. When I was planning my life (and I've always been a planner) I don't think I thought past the "get married, have kids" plan and I'm lucky enough to have a supportive, loving husband and two great (so far--please God, please god) kids. I don't think I thought past the time when my kids wouldn't need me so constantly. I don't think I thought I'd have a life of my own again. I know I didn't think it would go by so fucking fast.

So here I am with the "perfect" full-timish job that allows me to be creative and cook practically anything I want (fun!), that allows me to be home with the kids in the summer (FUN!) and to have occasional breaks when college is not in session (essential). That has hours that are flexible enough that I can even be there when the kids get home from school, with the only caveat that I have to go back to work to finish dinner. It doesn't pay a whole lot and doesn't have any monetary benefits but I've always thought of those breaks and the flexibility as the perks of the job. I've always described it as the perfect "mom job" and it is.

But lately I've been thinking that I don't want a Mom Job. I want a Jen Job. Something that will of course be benefitial to my family, yes, but also something that will enhance my own life, will challenge me in ways I'm not feeling challenged now. Something that might have grownup things like a 401K or a dental plan.

And something that does not involve a hot kitchen or wearing pants that occasionally smell like meat.

What is this job? I wish I knew. I haven't done anything (with the exception of some major volunteering) other than cooking in my entire career so I'm really going outside the ole comfort zone. Thankfully, my parents were wise enough to tell me to keep going to college even though I wanted to change gears and go to culinary school. They were generous enough to allow me (and to pay for me) to do both. So for 16 years I've been a chef with a Sociology degree. I never thought I'd "use" my degree, but now I'm so glad I have it. Maybe it'll actually come in to play and my dad can stop wondering exactly why he paid for it if I was going to bake cakes for a living.

Here are my ideas, so far, of what I think I might be interested in and perhaps good at:
  • Guidance counselor; I would shoot myself if I worked in an elementary or middle school, but I think I would enjoy being part of a teenager's life (all the planning, all the angst..)

  • Greek Affairs/Residence Life coordinator; I feel like I've been taking a sort of Greek 101/How to be a Coed course for 3 years. I like working with the girls so much and would love to take on a more advisory position.

  • Some kind of counselor in a women's clinic or center on a college campus; Have I mentioned that my Sociology concentration was in Women's Studies? It seemed a good idea at the time...

  • Something involving writing; I'm not so confident to announce My Intentions to Be a Writer because...well, because I'm chicken. But I would love to do something that could incorporate writing even if it wasn't the main ingredient.

    • So what am I doing about finding a JJ? I must finally be sick of hearing myself whine
      about this because I've made an appointment for a Career Counseling session at the local community college. I have no idea what they'll do for me. I'm hoping it's not going to be a What Color is Your Parachute session. I want someone to take a look at my list up there and tell me practical steps to get there-- or at least to find if I want go get there. The thought of going back to school is TERRIFYING to me (mostly because I'm in my pajamas by 7 every night and quite happy to NEVER LEAVE THE HOUSE), but I've come to the conclusion that it might be the thing I have to do.

      Why does it seem like it would be so much easier to buy a sports car and have an affair?

      Sunday, November 9, 2008

      Thursday, October 23, 2008

      And so it begins...

      Conversation earlier today between me and The Boy:

      Me: Did you walk home with C today?

      S: No.

      Me: Did you walk home with C today?

      S: Uh. Yeah.

      Me: Did you kiss her yet?

      S: No.

      Me: Did you kiss her yet?

      S: No.

      Me: Do you hold hands when you're walking?

      S: No.

      Me: Do you hold hands?

      S: Uh. Yeah.

      Me: Is she going to be at the game tonight?

      S: No.

      Me: Is she going to be at the game tonight?

      S: Uh. I don't know.

      Me: Is she going to be at the game tonight?

      S: I DON'T KNOW.

      Then, later (just now, in fact) I found some emails about meeting behind the school so we can "try again." WHAT?? AND I found an email from S in which he told C not to reply to his emails but to make a new message. The little sneak is trying to, well, sneak around me! Ugh.

      I hate this parenting thing. I've often said that this feels like the longest fucking babysitting job of my life. WHEN ARE THEIR PARENTS COMING HOME?

      So HH and I called The Boy downstairs to put the kibosh on this whole thing. From now on I will be picking him up every day after school (this is just as annoying to me as to him as it will lessen my Howard Stern time). They are allowed to talk on the phone but that's it. I told him that we didn't like this new sneaking and lying and that if we couldn't trust him then we didn't have anything.

      Then we tried to explain to him that we would probably not be having this conversation if C wasn't in 9th grade. How do you explain that a 9th grade girl is different in every way from a 7th grade boy TO A 7TH GRADE BOY?

      S got blinky (with him that means he's about to cry because he's sad/angry/tired/frustrated) and then said he was going to bed (it's 8:00 right now). I know it's weenie of me to worry, but no kid understands (and won't until that kid has a kid) that no parent wants their kid to be angry at them. It breaks my heart to be the one he's angry at.

      Sometimes being the grownup sucks.

      There's absolutely no reason why this picture was added other than it gives me something to focus on while I breathe into a bag.

      Sunday, October 12, 2008

      Roots and Wings

      Aren't they so friggin cute?

      Some days it hits me more than others. My children are getting old. They've become individuals with their own thoughts, their own interests, their own lives. For the most part, this thrills me. I'm so happy to be able to say that I really like my kids. They both have a great sense of humor (very important) and they still like me (a real plus).

      Last year was pretty hard with M. She was going through a lot of what turned out to be hormonal changes which made her a real bear to deal with. She's still only 9 1/2 years old but she's so mature physically that I think it was really hard for her to wrap her head around all the changes her body was going through and the weird feeling she was having. She was crying "for no reason," she was mean to me at times, and it often made me incedibly angry and broke my heart on behalf of both of us. I know there are tough times ahead again (I'm not looking forward to the middle school years for Maya or anyone in our family) but right now our relationship is in a kind of dream state--we really like to be together and she's much happier in her skin.

      I'm trying to take advantage of this honeymoon period in that I talk to her about a lot of tough things--drinking, sex, and even god. I keep everything PG (ish), but I know in my heart that this is the time when I have influence with her, when I can help her understand what's right and wrong before she meets up face-to-face with these issues. When that happens, all I'll be able to do is to try to keep talking to her and to cross my fingers and trust that she makes the right decisions.

      With S, everything after his infancy was easy. He's a nice boy who is conscious of what it means to be a good person. He is well-liked by all sorts of groups. He does well in school. He's almost 13, 5'7" (right this moment) and looks, but doesn't necessarily act, older than he is. He's also someone who keeps his feelings and thoughts close to his chest. I've always talked with (to) him about all the stuff M and I talk together about, but with him it's always been me talking and him being mortified/embarrassed/wanting to end the conversation.

      Anyway, we came to find out (I asked and he actually answered) that he has his first girlfriend. And she's in 9th grade. Did I mention he's in 7th grade? My husband's first reaction was "That's my boy!" (he's a dumb boy too). Then we both thought "WHY would a girl that age want him?"

      I alternated between a total panic that HH has to have the blow/hand job talk right now and thinking that this girl just must be extreeeeemely immature and maybe finds a younger boy less threatening. I decided to go to my Girls for advice. An informal poll revealed that they all thought it was WEIRD with one weighing in with "the girl's a skank." But I decided to let it play out a bit. She called a lot and he grunted to her. Emailing was done. And that's about it for the time being. I told him he was too young to date and he said he understood. "Just concentrate on being friends for now," I said. "Okay" was his only reply.

      Am I overreacting? HH and I worry about saying too much about it lest we give off Annoying Parental Vibes so that S won't ever come to us and reveal anything ever again. I'm quite sure a lot of my worry is simply because my baby is turning a corner. I know that. But I can't let go of the idea that this cougar wants to try stuff out on my sweet/witless/nonthreatening son. I know this is the first of many tests for me as a parent. And I want to let my children make their own decisions, knowing that Mom and Dad are back here to help if they need it. My parents made a lot of mistakes (of course they did, being Human), but they let me make my own decisions (I honestly can't remember one single time in which they told me my decision was wrong. Wow.). I want to be that kind of parent, but holy shit is it hard to do.

      What would you do?

      Tuesday, October 7, 2008

      Paging Dr. Freud

      At least once a month at least I have a horribly upsetting dream about my mom. She died 4 1/2 years ago and I miss her terribly. I'm the luckiest daughter in the world because I have absolutely no regrets about my relationship with her. So why do I have these dreams?

      Most of them have a common theme: she's alive and healthy but she's done with me. She's got some kind of interesting thing going on in her life and she's simply decided she isn't into the mothering thing anymore. I wake up heartbroken--realizing that not only is she dead but questioning why I would dream something I (almost) know to not be true.

      She wasn't a smothering mother. She didn't question me constantly about how I was living my life. She didn't offer advice unless it was asked for. We talked on the phone a lot, but she also had her own life and while she was definitely interested in what was going on with me, she was confident that I was doing the right thing, that I was making good choices. And that's how she was when I was a kid too. And it gave me tremendous comfidence in my choices, knowing she had confidence in me. That, my friends, is good mothering.

      Last night's dream was just as bad but a different theme. This time she wasn't healthy or rejecting. She was terribly sick. I kept trying to call her to see if she was still there. She slept all the time and couldn't talk. And she wouldn't die. It felt like it went on and on, mixed in with a dream in which I was at the vet (who was actually Craig Ferguson) and I was naked.

      I told you I love those Scottish guys.

      I never said I was normal.

      And while I have a WHOLE RANGE of things I could talk to a psychiatrist about, my relationship with my mom really isn't one of them (except for a few tiny things. Hey, she wasn't perfect!). So why am I plagued with these horrible dreams? They're so personal and so painful. I'd do anything to make them stop, even if it meant I never had a nice dream about her.

      Calling all you armchair psychiatrists. Any ideas?

      Thursday, October 2, 2008

      I Really Tried watch the VP debate tonight. I did. I stuck with it for a good ten minutes. Sarah Palin didn't sound stupid (and after seeing snippets of those Katie Couric interviews I was really prepared for a serious Cringe Fest). Joe Biden sounded fine. Both, however, reminded me of what I hate about politics--the politicking!!

      I don't believe anyone of any kind of intelligence can listen to A Politician and say yes! He/she is totally genuine. Both parties spin everything to get their agenda across as The One. And both candidates were really guilty, in just 10 minutes, of evading the question they were asked.

      And after my 10 minutes of patriotism, I switched over to the Fox Reality channel for something really entertaining --America's Trashiest Weddings. Watching some dude get married (wearing camoflauge) to his "huntress" in a tree stand just seemed more real.

      Monday, September 29, 2008

      Imagine My Confusion...

      ...when I was asked at my first Rosh Hashanah celebration (before I converted), if I'd ever "blown a chauffeur."

      Here's the real thing, kids. A "shofar." And I could never blow like this guy.

      To the Jews in the house--
      Happy Rosh Hashanah!

      xoxoxo, Jen

      Saturday, September 20, 2008

      A New Blast

      M is taking trumpet lessons at school. Now, with that and the tuba being played by S, there are tonal farting sounds emanating through the house instead of one deep one.

      Friday, September 12, 2008

      Cue the John Hughes Soundtrack

      The night I met the man who is now my husband he was someone else's boyfriend. No, I was not that kind of girl; in fact, according to my mom, I was exactly the opposite. In her words I was, when I was 16 years old, "Everyone's friend, nobody's lover." Yep, that was me and yes, that's the way my mom saw it. I had a ton of guy friends but had only really admired boys that way from afar.

      The second time I saw him (true story), I was at his college's football game (in my hometown) with a friend. I was sitting in the stands trying to watch the game (sort of) and some guy was running up and down the stands like a lunatic, his face covered in a Kiss-like design in the college's colors.

      "Who's that asshole?" I asked someone who obviously attended the college. "That's Steve ****," they said.

      And, as my husband likes to remind me, I'm the one who married "that asshole."

      After that we saw each other quite a lot because he was the music director at his college's radio station and I was a sort of intern there through a program my high school had. Then, when the summer came, I got my very own radio show and he was staying at school to take some classes. By then I thought of him differently. He was cute people, even with his assholey ways. Dumb, dumb, gelled sticky-uppy hair and a real attitude, but super cute and despite the (NY) attitude, really really nice.

      And he had absolutely no idea how to take care of himself as far as eating well went. His idea of a "light bite" was a pack of Tasty Cakes. A "real meal" was a deep-fried eggplant parm sandwich. His "fruit" was a large lemonade. True to character, I told him I would cook a real dinner for him sometime.

      That was me flirting.

      SO the summer was waning and he had his sister's wedding to go to and a trip to England planned. I kind of thought that would be it, but when he got back to school, our friendship picked up where it left off. Except he called me all the time.

      "He likes you," my mom told me. "I know. I like him too," said I, the non-lover. "No, he like-likes you," said my adolescent mother.

      Even though I was thinking of him all the time, I think I assumed I wouldn't find a real boyfriend until I went to college and could assume a new persona: Flirty Slut Girl Who is NOBODY'S Friend. I was scared to think otherwise and risk getting hurt. I wasn't all nervous innocence, though. At one point during the Fall, Steve called me to tell me he and a friend were going to visit another friend at Union College for the weekend. This "friend" they were visiting was a girl and someone Steve thought maybe he'd like to try being "more than friends with."

      "Bad idea," said I. "You certainly wouldn't want to ruin your friendship."

      My mom was so proud.

      So that friend remained only a friend and we picked up where we left off. We spent a LOT of time together and talked on the phone when we weren't. My mom could NOT take it.

      "If you don't tell him how you feel, I will." But but BUT.... was my only answer. How did I go about doing that? Would I ruin OUR friendship? My mom's advice: just plant one on him.

      So, the night before he went home for winter break, I went over to his dorm. We hung out and had fun but I felt like I was going to barf from the tension inside me. The night was coming to an end and I had to go pick my mom up at work. Steve walked me to the door, we said goodnight and see ya when you get back and I turned to walk away. Something made me turn back around and I said,"I just have to say--"

      And he grabbed me and kissed me.

      We've been together ever since, for almost 21 years, 15 of them (as of today), married. We've been through family BULLSHIT, births, deaths, and a lot of the other stuff that makes a life together.

      He makes me INSANE sometimes (oh, don't let me count the ways), but no one loves me as much as he does, even with my foibles, one of which is not always being a "sure thing."

      Sorry, honey.

      He even allows me little crushes on men who I will never meet and doesn't get jealous or douchy about my girlfriends and I drooling over them or the fact that my son, if asked, will say that a certain Scotsman is his real father.

      He is a serious mush. The incessant snuggling puts me OVER THE EDGE sometimes, but I would miss it if it stopped.

      He lets me be me. No matter what shape I am or how greezy my hair might be.

      He's the best.

      So, I just want to say two things: Happy Anniversary and I love you, Ewan.

      STEVE. I love you, STEVE.

      Saturday, September 6, 2008

      Appliance Lust and Rainy Day Baking

      Today was a day when we were forced to be inside. Thanks to tropical storm Hanna, there was no baseball and no yard work or other outside chores could be done. The only logical activities were baking and reading.

      I started the famous No-Knead Bread last night since I heard the forecast for today and it needs at least 14 hours from mixing to baking. I wish I could get it together enough to always have this bread on hand because it's so good. Every time a loaf comes out of the oven, I marvel at how professional it looks. And I am a professional baker. I haven't experimented much with altering the recipe (wheat flour, etc.) because it's perfection as it is. AND, I got to bake it in THIS!

      behold...4 working burners and two ovens

      So the bread was rising and M and I decided to really bake. Butter, eggs, and sugar were needed! And even though Nigella's baking recipes are often spotty, I've been wanting to try a recipe from Feasts in a long time. I even had a somewhat odd (to Americans) ingredient in my pantry lying in wait for this particular recipe. And the Cream-Filled Hearts are delicious! Wonderfully sandy in texture, not too sweet. My kind of thing. The dough was very soft but handled surprisingly well.

      M decided she would try her hand at Fairy Cakes, I think tickled by the English name for cupcakes. For this one we tried another Nigella recipe--Burnt Butter Brown Sugar Cake from How to be a Domestic Goddess. The batter was delicious, but M thought the raw batter was better than the baked cake. And after *burning myself while making the burnt butter (and having to wait about 30 minutes for it to resolidify) and then seeing the cakes sink in a really disappointing way and come out of the pan like doody, I think this is one of Nigella's duds. I keep trying with her recipes, I think, because I like her so much. Her books are a hoot to read. M and S didn't care that they sank and had fun anyway, decorating them with half a ton of candy and garish royal icing (a la Brocket). I think I'm actually liking using royal icing more than buttercream because in my sick mind it's less fat than regular buttercream so I can eat two.

      S's funny face design...see it?!

      Classy decorating! My
      children believe more is more and I think they're right.

      So on my only whole day off from cooking I happily spent it in the kitchen. Am I a masochist? Hardly. Just look at this! Home-baked bread topped with tomatoes from my own garden (finally) and yummy cheese, toasted in the next best thing to sliced bread, my Maytag Gemini, followed by baked stuff topped with candy. Can't get much better than that.

      tomatoes on toast and salad...with tomatoes!

      *Sometimes I am convinced that I am functionally retarded. The burnt butter required me to stir butter in a pan over medium heat until, well, burned, and then to pour it through a strainer. It looked so good and smelled so nutty, I immediately stuck my finger in to the previously boiling FAT.

      Wednesday, September 3, 2008

      Cinnamon Swirls and Comfy Quilts

      from one of Beth Hensperger's books. She has the best books on bread.

      There is nothing quite as exciting for me as coming home and finding a package from amazon on the porch. Nope. That's all I need to get my blood pumping (last post to the contrary). And this particular box was especially sweet because it containted two books that I've been waiting for ages to arrive. I immediately made myself a cup of tea and snuggled into bed to start reading.

      The writer of both books, Jane Brocket, has a lovely blog called yarnstorm. It embodies all the homey things I love--baking, reading, spending time with family--along with knitting which I aspire to enjoy some day. Her blog feels like a cup of tea and a cozy afghan. When I read it, I find myself yearning for a slow-down, some time for a look around at what I'm lucking to have. A stay-at-home day. Her blog is extremely popular because there are apparently a lot of us homebodies and because of her great writing. And her books don't disappoint.

      Cherry Cake and Ginger Beer extolls children's literature of yesterday and the wonderful food writing found within. This subject speaks to me because reading Laura Ingalls Wilder's fond memories and wonderfully descriptive writing about such things as maple sugar candy being made and the heart-shaped cakes that Ma made when precious sugar was available was a huge influence on my writing and on my career as a chef. I wanted to crawl into those books for so many reasons and tasting the plain and lovingly-made food was a huge part of it.

      There are so many wonderful examples of delicious food in children's books. Cherry Cake and Ginger Beer makes me want to load up my tote bag at the library with old favorites almost forgotten and new books I've never read and spend a weekend alternating between reading on the sofa with my girl M and covering the kitchen with flour to make such yummies as Mrs. Beaver's Gloriously Sticky Marmalade Roll (from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) or St. Clair's Eclairs (from Enid Blyton's Five Find-Outer books, a new book discovery).

      Brocket's other book, The Gentle Art of Domesticity, was published in Britain in 2007 and I've been waiting almost that long for the American publication of it to come out. I found out about the book from reading a variety of blogs from Europe and America. Everyone in the blogosphere seemed to be on the Jane Brocket band wagon. I had to find out what the fuss was about and that's what led me to yarnstorm. The Gentle Art is an extension of her blog and as much of a treat to read.

      My first thought before reading it, however, was that it would be a book about homecare-- cleaning tips, sewing project, recipes and the like. I already have the granddaddy of those kind of books, Home Comforts by Cheryl Mendolson. I've already taken a perverse pleasure in reading chapters like "Vacuuming, Sweeping and Dusting," even though that aspect of homekeeping is (obviously to my home's visitors) not exactly my own priority. So I was wondering if this new book would be more of the same.

      not mine (from Beth's book)--but mine looked just like this (but blurry!)

      Ha! I think Jane Brocket herself would laugh at the idea. Because, while keeping a nice home is obviously a priority in her life, "keeping" has a much different meaning from the one in Home Comforts. Brocket is much more interested in the feelings that home conveys, not the image. The bright colors in her own home (pictured in the book) and cinnamony smells coming from the kitchen are much more important to her family's soul than a perfectly folded sheet or a tidied book shelf. She is more interested in snuggling in the sheets and reading the books.

      the reward--a cup of tea and some yummy toast

      The Gentle Art of Domesticity's subtitle "Stitching, Baking, Nature, Art, and the Comforts of Home" illustrates the varied topics she covers. It's a book you can pick up and open to any page, reading a snippet of something that will make you feel good. And while I love reading a cover-to-cover kind of book, it feels somehow more gentle that it's in this easy-going format. And, judging from Brocket's caring touch in everything she does, I'm sure that was exactly what she intended for her readers.

      Saturday, August 30, 2008

      I Feel Just a Little Bit Dirty

      After much anticipation, tonight was finally the night. After months of waiting. After months of discussing what we'd wear, what we'd see, where we'd sit. It was finally here. We were going to the Allentown Fair.

      To see the Jonas Brothers.

      In anticipation of the concert, my Handsome Husband brought home the only accessory I thought I'd need---ear plugs. I knew the place would be filled with girls--some in the throes of puberty, completely amped up on hormones, serotonin and maybe even pheromones (it's sweaty on that stage!). I was ready to deal. I was NOT going to be a fuddy-duddy and ask girls around us (M and best friend E included) to please don't scream in my ear.

      Little did I know that I'd be screaming too. Here's why:


      Now I'm not a complete perv. I know that this child is only 19. I also realize that, if HH and I wouldn't have been using reliable protection when I was 18, I am old enough to be this child's mother. I get that.

      But look at him. He's adorable. That hair. Those eyes. Those forearms. Those eyebrows! I totally get why all those girls were screaming. It feels like not so long ago that I was absolutely sure that Bono was singing to me, that it was just us alone in the Spectrum in Philly during the Unforgettable Fire tour.

      Huh. Look at that. Very similar hair to JJ...

      All I could think then was that if Bono met me, he would absolutely love me just because I loved him. I was never a crier at concerts, but I felt everything very deeply--every song was about my life in some way.

      So I'm admiring Joe, reminiscing about my own teen obsessions and watching the reaction of the girls around me and I admit that I even said "He's hot" at one point to my 9 year old daughter. But I soon realized that my biggest attraction to him and to the brothers in general was that they seem to be so nice. They're adorable, they're in very nice physical shape and they are nice. They seem to genuinely appreciate their fans, they bring their 7-year-old little brother out on stage and they talk nicely about their mom.

      So I realize that I'm not some kind of Cougar having a midlife crisis. Nope. I've just got a maternal crush on Joe Jonas. I think he's adorable and I can see that girls would find him sexy but I'd rather be his mom than anything else. Whew! Thank god.

      Judy, I know you know what I mean.

      *Editor's note: Lynn, after hearing the "maternal crush" theory: "Just keep telling yourself that, Jen."

      Thursday, August 28, 2008

      Food Meme

      Stole this from Blackbird via Domestic Ali. Please feel free to join in.

      1)Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
      2) Bold all the items you have eaten.
      3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
      4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at Very Good Taste linking to your results.

      1. Venison - Yes. A loooong time ago. A "steak" marinated in pineapple. Weird.
      2. Nettle tea - nope
      3. Huevos rancheros -YUM. Haven't made it in awhile.
      4. Steak tartare - Only when I taste my meatloaf mix. To me, it's like sushi but much less impressive. I go to restaurants to pay a lot for cooked food.
      5. Crocodile -
      6. Black pudding - Haven't but would like to. I'm thinking if I like rarish steaks, why not some blood sausage?
      7. Cheese fondue - Our New Year's Eve ritual.
      8. Carp - Excuse me, but isn't this what's in my neighbor's pond?
      9. Borscht - Yep. At a great place on the lower East side. The real thing.
      10. Baba ghanoush -YES! One of my favorite dips. Delish when you cook the eggplant on the grill. Extra smokilicious!
      11. Calamari - Love it fried just right with spicy marinara (good bar food).
      12. Pho - It's my new chicken soup! So long Jewish penicillin! It makes me feel like I'm doing something good for my insides and it's delicious (Bethlehemites, go to Pho Vung Tau and get the number 9)
      13. PB&J sandwich - Duh.
      14. Aloo gobi -Not yet. LOVE Indian food.
      15. Hot dog from a street cart - You gotta have a dirty water dog at least ONCE in your life if you go to NYC.
      16. Epoisses - Huh?
      17. Black truffle - Sadly, no. Although actually something so expensive that is a fungus annoys me.
      18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes - Hello, Boone's Farm?!
      19. Steamed pork buns - One of my favorite dum sum items. Delicious as Christmas Dinner for (nonkosher) Jews!
      20. Pistachio ice cream - It was my favorite as a child. That and "French" vanilla. I think I liked them both because they had ghastly amounts of food coloring in them.
      21. Heirloom tomatoes -Yup.
      22. Fresh wild berries -I must have...did I?
      23. Foie gras - I tried it once at my most expensive restaurant meal ever. I HATE liver, but this was delicious. However, I found it was soooooo rich that I couldn't eat more than a tiny bit (and this is usually never a problem for me).
      24. Rice and beans - Of course. Excellent cheap student food. AND delicious!
      25. Brawn, or head cheese - Ugh. No. C'mon people, it has "head" in its name!
      26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper - OUCH! Yes. Once time in college I made little homemade pizzas and one of them was going to be spicy so I cut up Scotch Bonnets without gloves and then rubbed my eyes.
      27. Dulce de leche -Mmmmmmmmmm....
      28. Oysters - Only the smoked kinds in a tin. Stories of my dad eating them raw ("You don't even have to chew, Jenni! They just slide down." didn't exactly encourage me.
      29. Baklava -One of my favorite desserts. And I make it often because I found a really awesome easy recipe that doesn't require brushing each and every phyllo leaf, and yet it is flaky and delicious.
      30. Bagna cauda - It sounds weird but it's something I've always wanted to make. Salt cod dip, right? I've had the package of weirdly dry cod in my hands at least twice and then put it back out of fear.
      31. Wasabi peas-snack yummy!
      32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl - Where does one get this?
      33. Salted lassi -there are so many things wrong with this. I love Indian food (see #14) but salted yogurt that is thin enough to drink and isn't a fruit smoothie. Shiverrrrrrrrrrrrrrr....
      34. Sauerkraut - Duh. I'm from PA Dutch Country!! And I actually craved it when I was pregnant the first time. I used to eat a quart of it cold and listen to people wretch as they walked past the bakery door. Good times....
      35. Root beer float - Another one of my favorites. I once drank two in a row at a soda shop with Shawn.
      36. Cognac with a fat cigar - YUCK.
      37. Clotted cream tea -Oh yes. And as I imbibe, I pretend I'm British.
      38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O - Unfortunately yes.
      39. Gumbo- Yes. But I do not dig the slimy okra. Sorry Louisianna.
      40. Oxtail - No, but I'd like to . I'm an ass girl.
      41. Curried goat - Again, I'd like to. There's a halal butcher in Allentown (Al Halal) that sells goat and I'm too intimidated to buy one. Plus, they're cute.
      42. Whole insects-WHY?
      43. Phaal - WHAT?
      44. Goat’s milk -Yes. And no thanks to again.
      45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more - Nope. But I do love the smell of it.
      46. Fugu - I find life exciting enough without risking my life to eat something.
      47. Chicken tikka masala -You bet!
      48. Eel - Once. See number 100
      49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut - Can you believe it? No!
      50. Sea urchin -No, but I'd do it if Anthony Bourdain was with me.
      51. Prickly pear - nope
      52. Umeboshi - Huh?
      53. Abalone - Nope.
      54. Paneer - LOVE the mutter paneer.
      55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal- I am proud to say no (not that the 100 cheeseburgers and fries I've eaten--before Supersize Me--wouldn't add up to a couple Big Macs...)
      56. Spaetzle -Yum. I love starch in butter.
      57. Dirty gin martini -Nope.
      58. Beer above 8% ABV -Don't know what this means. But I love me some raspberry Belgian beer.
      59. Poutine - I think not because I don't know what the hell it is and I'm too lazy to click on it.
      60. Carob chips -Back in the day when--I kid you not--I baked for my college's co-op (yes, it was that kind of school) and made some pumpkin chip bread. Carob should be saved for "chocolate" dog treats.
      61. S’mores - About a million!
      62. Sweetbreads - Something that I'd like to try; see number 50.
      63. Kaolin - Is this some kind of chemical?
      64. Currywurst -That just looks made u.
      65. Durian - Another Bourdain food! I really would like to try it but I fear its limburgerness.
      66. Frogs’ legs - Don't see the reason to eat something so small. I don't even like chicken wings.
      67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake --Yes, yes, yes and of course!
      68. Haggis - No. But I think I would. Maybe. or not...
      69. Fried plantain -yUM!
      70. Chitterlings, or andouillette -I love soul food but not this.
      71. Gazpacho - loads of times.
      72. Caviar and blini - Another expensive food I don't "get." Some would say I haven't had the right kind. Not invested enough in things that are "an acquired taste."
      73. Louche absinthe If this is the freaky green booze that Johnny Depp drinks in From Hell, I wanna try some! It's legal now but expensive and I'm disappointed to hear that it doesn't actually make you nuts.
      74. Gjetost, or brunost - Sounds Scandinavian. Not sure.
      75. Roadkill - Again, WHAT??
      76. Baijiu - HUH?
      77. Hostess Fruit Pie - One of my secret loves. The crust is so lard-like and it's covered in a sugar glaze. What's not to like?
      78. Snail - I'd rather just eat a stick of butter and a clove of garlic.
      79. Lapsang souchong - Too smoky!
      80. Bellini - I'm sad to say no. Sounds yummy.
      81. Tom yum - LOVE it. Second in line to pho.
      82. Eggs Benedict - LOVELOVELOVE. I even like the diner kind with canned hollandaise.
      83. Pocky - LOVE Pocky but am a purest. Regular chocolate is the best!
      84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant. nope.
      85. Kobe beef - I'd rather get the massage than pay for my meat to have one.
      86. Hare - no thanks.
      87. Goulash -Yum!
      88. Flowers - Duh. Ever eat broccoli?! I am toooo funny. (Sorry) Actually I like nasturtiums (nice and peppery) but anything else is just to pretty up a salad.
      89. Horse - This is just wrong.
      90. Criollo chocolate - No idea.
      91. Spam -Loved it as a kid. Sunday breakfast staple, fried until crispy.
      92. Soft shell crab - Tastiest insect ever!
      93. Rose harissa - "Rose" should never be a flavoring.
      94. Catfish -delicious bottom feeder. Don't eat it now that I know it's a bottom feeder.
      95. Mole poblano
      96. Bagel and lox-Yes, but I don't like it. I KNOW! When I got my Jew card it was one of the requirements for membership, but somehow I slipped right in.
      97. Lobster Thermidor - I like my other favorite sea bug simple. Butter please.
      98. Polenta -Better than mashed potatoes!
      99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee -not a coffee drinker. Wish I was.
      100. Snake - What a way to end this! Is that really necessary???

      Tuesday, August 26, 2008

      You're So Vain

      Yesterday's first full day of work ended with a bang. Or a boom. Well, actually a fucking fireball! I was lighting the pilot light on the griddle with the gas on like I always did in my old kitchen and BOOM! A ball of fire flared out at me. Did I mention that my face was right in front of it so I could see what I was doing. Anyway, I flew back, knocking several things over and patting out the fire that was in my hair, people. M was there and ran over to me. My first words of comfort to my daughter?


      Not, "Mommy's okay" or "Don't worry." Nope. I was worried about my friggin hair. And it was not pretty. The left side of my bangs are gone, my left eyebrow is only half there, and my eyelashes could best be described as stubby. But thanks to M's quick thinking (a 9 year old was more together than I was and immediately got me ice), I only have some slight blistering on my neck. Oh, and I now know that the smell of burnt hair makes me feel like barfing.

      M nursed me and told me it was okay that I cried (I very professionally burst into tears when one of the girls came down to see what happened) and told me she wished she could drive so I didn't have to drive us home.

      M is AWESOME.

      Today my left eyelid feels like I have a sunburn and it's almost ridiculous to put on mascara (but you know I'll keep trying), but I was really really lucky. When I told the maintenance dude what happened, he said "Oh yeah. The fan is really strong on the ovens. You shouldn't turn them on to light them."

      YA THINK???

      And when I told him I felt I was "lucky" I only lost a little hair (meaning I was lucky I didn't LOSE MY FACE), he said "Oh yeah. Same thing happened to another woman in one of the frats. SHE had to wear a hat for a couple months."


      Who knew cooking for a sorority could be dangerous? My worst fear was of getting caught in an estrogen-laced cat fight. Or getting burned by words.

      Now I have a fear of pancakes.

      Saturday, August 23, 2008

      Nothin' Says Lovin'...

      Everyone always asks my husband why he isn't 400 pounds since he's married to a chef. Every single time, his response is the same. "Are you kidding? I'm lucky if I get the burnt bits!" Sadly, this is true. Before I went back to work full time-ish, I would bake/cook occasionally for people I knew and friends-of-friends. It didn't bring in much money but it kept my name "out there" and gave me a little creative outlet. I don't do this anymore (except for family and very close friends), but my kids still ask, when I've made something particularly yummy-looking "Who's it for?"

      My poor family assumes they're going to just get the burnt bits.

      So I made a real attempt to make a LOT of homemade meals this summer and to bake things just because. It feels good to do it because they are so obviously delighted and it's probably saved us some moolah too, since we are often of the "let's get a pizza" mindset.

      Alexis, I blame you for this!

      But now I'm back at work. And after cooking 2X a day for 51+ girls, I don't exactly jump for joy at the thought of cooking dinner again for 4 more people. I sometimes even feel resentful of having to do it ("Boy would I love coming home to the smell of dinner cooking!" was uttered sarcastically quite a few times last year), but I know that it only makes sense for me to do it because I'm home earliest. I realize it but I knew I'd still think it. This summer I realized that I needed a plan.

      These were sooooo good. Vanilla Butter-Glazed, Chocolate-Glazed, and Cinnamon Sugar.
      Easy-peasy recipe from A Passion for Baking, By Marcy Goldman

      Lucy gave me the idea but considering the fact that it's exactly what I do at work, I realize what an ass I am (and disorganized at home) to not have figured it out myself and applied it to my home life. "Lucy's Plan" is to make a weekly menu based on what's in the cupboard and/or what I've just bought. Revolutionary. I've also decided to base my home menu on the one I'm preparing at work so I can prepare them together. Genius.

      Clearly, I am not a brain surgeon.

      This basic little elemental plan will be BIG, I think, because it'll allow me to come home from work with at least the beginnings of a home-cooked meal, with time to put my feet up, hear about the kids' day, and greet my husband with the good smells of dinner instead of the grumblings of a bitchy wife. And my family will feel loved and taken care of.

      Instead of just settling for the burnt bits.

      Thursday, August 21, 2008

      The Middle of Things

      I started work, in a very small way, yesterday after having 4 months off. I know, I know, cry me a river, but I LIKE being at home. If I could figure a way to stay home and make money that didn't involve telemarketing or getting my kitchen dirty, I'd do it. I just love having all my stuff around me, having a little routine and not thinking about what I'm wearing. Luckily the latter part of that also goes along somewhat with what my actual job requires. The most "dressed up" I get at work is wearing a pair of fun chef pants and finding a funny t-shirt (this year's favorite: Mr. Potato Head dressed up as a hippie with "Baked Potato" under it).

      So anyway, I started work yesterday by unpacking my kitchen. The sorority I work for moved into a house that used to belong to a fraternity that got kicked out of Lehigh last year. The house is beautiful. It's not one of the classic old frats with the columns, etc. It was probably built in the 60's or early 70's. But it's open and airy and the girls chose beautiful colors (I even got my requested yellow kitchen!). And anyone who saw it when it was a frat will appreciate just how beautiful it is now. To say the place was shabby and REEKED would be kind. Yuck. I love boys but massive drunken parties and preserving beautiful architecture don't mix.

      So it's beautiful, the kitchen is incredibly well-appointed (a place for everything and everything in its place--YAY!), and the girls, especially the Juniors, are happy to see me. Everything is good. A new year is exciting and full of possibilities. Great!

      I wish I could be really happy about it.

      See, I have this problem of hating the beginning of things (ANXIETY) and the end of things (sadness). I never like to be the first one to arrive at a party and I hate when my last guest leaves from a party of my own. I love the middle of things.

      I try not to show this to my children because I don't want them to be afraid of new experiences or regret that something has ended. I'd like to be the kind of mom who helps her kids to enjoy the moments in life, to revel in the excitement and to feel the sadness and not fear it. So I'm trying not to think about how great it'll be when I establish a routine, when I know all the sophmores' names, and when it's finally December, halfway through the year. Because if I keep thinking like that, it'll suddenly be May, the end, and I will have missed all the fun in between.

      Friday, August 15, 2008

      *Back to the Brothel

      let the drinking begin
      It happens to me every Summer. In the beginning, I start out feeling guilty that I have all this time to myself before the kids start their vacation. So I vacilate between frantic project planning (not doing) and utter lack of movement and copious movie watching. I want to do everything I can think of that I won't be able to do when the kids are home too. Not that I couldn't do all these things; my kids are getting older and pretty okay on their own. It's just that I feel like I should be Camp Director or something, planning fun (and ocassionally educational) events for us to do.

      pretending to observe nature on an Educational and Fun! outing

      Then THEY'RE HOME. And don't get me wrong, I love love love them and even really like them, but they require so much nagging. Only when they are *old* and parents themselves will they understand that it's annoying for the nagger too. I cannot tell you how many times the phrases "Put your dirty clothes down the shoot" and "Wipe the grape jelly off the counter" or that old chestnut "TURN OFF THE TV!!" have been uttered.

      Muttel is an optimist

      So I start to wish I was back at work. NOT for a solid week, mind you. Just at my leisure. I love the idea of waking up and thinking, okay, the kids are annoying today, so I think I'll work for 8 hours. Tomorrow? Nah. I'll probably sleep until 11:00. Of course no job, save possibly hooking, would allow this so it is just me wishing. This is the I-sort-of-wish-the-Summer-was-over-but-not-really-just-that-the-kids-had-school phase. During this time I also start formulating menus for my job and cooking/baking up a storm. These could also be called The Fat Ass Days.

      Nothing says July like sour cherry pie

      Then August rolls around and I panic. Oh my god it's almost over! Oh my god I haven't finished planting the new flower bed/painting the basement steps/going to the pool/thoroughly enjoying my children's company! WORK STARTS SOON!!!

      And the regret sinks in.

      What does all this say except that I might need to up my 40 mg of celexa or actually call the therapist I keep procrastinating about? It says that I need to start trying to live in the now. I know that sounds so crunchy, so self-help book, but it's true. I've always been a planner who panics about getting something done and so either becomes a total vegetable and does nothing or gets herself so amped up about time ticking away that I don't enjoy the doing.

      This is something I really want to work on.

      So please, enjoy the pictures from this Summer. I'm going to try to just relax for these waning days until I go back to work. While I've got a lot to look forward to there (will a certain Junior have sex in my kitchen again this year? how many girls will be taken to the hospital for alcohol poisoning? will the girls bring lots of young man-meat for Mrs. Robinson to ogle?), I'm going to hang out with my Handsome Husband and my kids, see more of my BFFs and maybe step out into the garden a bit to pull some weeds.

      *No, I don't actually work in a whorehouse, but I found it interesting and annoying to find out that the reason why sorority houses are "dry" is because there is a law that if more than a certain number of women live together it is indeed considered a brothel and therefore cannot serve alcohol. How archaic is that?

      2008 was the Summer of Ice Cream
      thanks to David Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop

      some excellent thrifting (total:$3!) was done

      Gibson the Hunter, with dead vole


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