My House Will Never Be Chosen for a Garden Tour

I just threw away an orchid plant I purchased a year ago. Patiently, I had waited for new buds to appear; month after month, I added a couple of ice cubes to the soil, whispered words of encouragement to the remaining leaves, and kept my fingers crossed that beautiful raspberry-tinted flowers would bloom. It never happened so I quit with the ice cubes, scowled at the shriveled up greenery and eventually tossed the thing in the trash....more

This Summer, Pack Your Sunscreen and Your Rabbit's Foot

Some people are made to travel. Some families are made to travel. I’m convinced ours isn’t one of them. Many years ago, when the kids were but toddlers, I didn’t feel that way. Yearly road trips to Florida, our car stuffed with plastic pails and blow-up rafts, the air singed with fast food smells and arguments about which way the fold-out map should be positioned. Happy memories of successful vacations whose only downsides were burned skin and regrets about not staying away longer....more

My Niece is More Like Me Than My Own Daughter

It’s never meant as a compliment. I doubt she takes it as one, anyway. I detect a whiff of ridicule, but usually allow it to pass without comment. “She’s just like you. It’s both scary and uncanny that your sister gave birth to a daughter who could be your twin.” Thirty-four years and 400 miles separate us, but I understand their comparison. She is blond, petite and bold; I am brunette, tall for my family, and timid, and yet, we couldn’t be more alike....more

Your Teen and School: Should You Push or Pull Back?

One week to go -- not even seven full days, really. Seven days of early mornings. Seven days of scrambling to find books and car keys. But only three full days. The remaining school days dismiss at lunch, finals and farewells encompassing the morning hours. One more year to go -- not even twelve months, really. One school year, which translates into nine months, which translates into roughly six months of actual school time when you remove weekends and vacation days. ...more

The Best Mother's Day Gifts Don't Come With a Gift Receipt

We didn’t intend for it to be the worst gift ever. No one ever does. But when you are a tween without a driver’s license and limited funds, you’ve got to get creative. My two tagalong siblings weren’t much help; they had little to offer at ten and eleven-years-of-age. So I put them to work, like any older, bossy sister does. It was to be a surprise, I instructed them. Mum’s the word to mum, I dictated....more

I Bought A Bigger House So I Would Entertain More: Time to Downsize

If I knew you were coming, not only would I not have baked a cake, I probably would’ve pulled the blinds shut as you were moseying up the walkway. That’s how much I hate to entertain. Anyone. Even Bradley Cooper. Especially Bradley Cooper. Don’t get me wrong: he’s more than welcome in my house (and in my bed), but he better not be looking for me to cook him anything....more

Why Do Coffee Klatsches and Married Couples Clash?

It’s not always for coffee though that’s what we seem to call it: a coffee date. Sometimes we meet for lunch, occasionally for group exercise, rarely for happy hour, but always with the intention of catching up, venting and renewing our friendship. But what’s interesting to me, is that these coffee friends of mine, some of whom don’t even drink coffee, rarely cross over into my couple’s life. It’s like there are daytime friends and nighttime friends and sometimes, like in a Venn Diagram, the two converge, but often they don’t and I’m left to wonder why....more

When I Hear "Brackets" I Think Orthodontia, Not Basketball

And then there were two. Actually, as you are reading this, one team has already been crowned a winner, but as of this writing, I am eagerly anticipating tonight’s final game between a basketball team I don’t give two licks about and another basketball team whose home state eludes me. Why the eager anticipation then? So that this basketball madness can finally be over with and life as we know it can resume, madness and all....more

The Magic Doesn't Happen in the Bedroom...It Happens in the Basement

He was our own Paul Bunyan. A diminutive man who had never once donned plaid nor felt the heft of an axe in his smooth hands, and yet, he loomed large in our minds. We had only to venture to the lower level of our 1960s-built ranch home to see his mastery at work. What was once a rectangular, cavernous space, cinder walls teeming with spiders and pockmarks, cold concrete floors begging for big wheels, became a fully-functioning space in his hands. Nothing fancy for my father. Divide and conquer was his motto. A wall separated the space in two, a clear delineation of work space and play....more

The Key to Successful French Cooking? Butter Up Everything, Including the Proctor

It was all Greek to her. Recipes with names like Blanquette d’Agneau au Vin Blanc and Thon Grille Sauce Vierge left my daughter completely flummoxed. Even the translations were Greek to her: Lamb Stew in White Wine and Grilled Tuna with Herbed Tomato and Lemon Sauce; her four years of high school French had done little to instill any faith in her speaking abilities, let alone her cooking abilities. But it mattered none....more