Celebrating Womens Friendship and Food

women friendsOkay, I can see you right now rolling your eyes at me after reading the title. “Sure, Cathy,” you are thinking, “just when I am supposed to find time to get together with my friends with all I have going on in my life?” I understand. I have been there. Heck even though my kids are grown, I’m still there!

We all have a lot going on. As women, we seem to take on much more than we should. Most of the time, there really isn’t much choice either. Sure, most of us would love to be the social butterflies we were when we were teens. Remember that? Passing notes to your friends in the hall at school. Talking on the phone all night. Slumber parties. Getting your underwear frozen if you fell asleep first. Wait a minute. That last memory was not so fun. But you get the idea.

When we were kids, we were social beings. When did that change? I guess about the same time our worlds became full of wiping little noses, potty training, and cleaning the puke out of the carpet. Then there’s the house, the yard, the husband, the parents, and for many of us the job or business. It’s no wonder many of us have let our friendships fall by the wayside.

There just isn’t enough time to have a social life. But really, we still need it. We still need the companionship of other women. We need to let loose and have fun once in awhile. Of course it can’t be as much as it was when we kids, but it’s important for our own mental well being to try to carve a little time out once in awhile to have some fun with your pals.

And it doesn’t have to be daily or even weekly. If you can set aside some time once a month, that’s a start. Although more often is better of course.

Are you wondering what kind of things you can do with your friends with such a short amount of time? Well, I’ll tell you what I do and then mention some other possibilities after that.

Once a month, I get together with 2 friends I have had for almost 20 years now and we do a fun craft and sometimes go out and eat. And just lately, now that we no longer have small kids at home, we make that a sleepover on the weekend so it’s almost like the slumber parties of youth. Just without the frozen underwear. So far.

Something else I do is belong to a Bunco group that meets once a month. Bunco is a social game, played with dice that is usually played with 12 people but at 3 tables in groups of four. And then depending on your score at the end of each round, you may move on to another table. So you end up playing with everyone eventually. During half time we pig out on great food and socialize. It is so much fun and really meets my need of fellowship with other women.

Something I have been toying with, but have to wait til things get a bit less crazy in my life is to join a book club. These usually meet once a week. I found several going on in my area at MeetUp.com .  That’s a great place to start looking for groups for lots of things that may be to interest of you, from dog clubs, to mom clubs, to sports groups.

Once my care taking duties lessen, I plan on looking for some more outlets to get my social groove on. I want to join a bowling league and I’d love to be involved in a business mastermind for other internet marketers. I’d also like to take some more advanced art classes. That’s for the future though. Right now, I’m happy with the several social outlets I have.

For those of you with small kids, try to find a mom’s group to join. When my kids were little, I went to MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) for about 8 years and was even the financial officer for the group.

There are plenty other mothers groups out there. If your kids are a little order, why not get involved with the PTA at their school?

Churches often have women’s groups so if you are in a local church, see what they have to offer.

Just look around and be open to opportunities that come your way. And don’t let husbands and kids others make you feel guilty about wanting to take a little time out for yourself. Our families sometimes forget that we are people too and not just robots here just to meet their needs.

Have fun!



Transitioning to Homemaking

Note from Cathy: Another in our guest post series while I’m on vacation, we have Sarah, a bride to be, who gives us her plan on starting her new home with her new husband. Aren’t they an adorable couple?

Sarah and Chris

Sarah and Chris

My wonderful fiance, Chris, and I are getting married on October 1, 2011, and I am excited about this day for so many reasons. Beyond all the wedding day festivities and getting to wear my dress, I’m excited to start married life with the man I love —  which includes being a homemaker!

In all the hustle and bustle of wedding planning, it feels like preparing myself for this huge part of married life takes a back seat, but it shouldn’t. In the not-so-distant past, a girl spent her childhood and adolescence learning domestic duties and caring for younger siblings.

I, on the other hand, am an only child. I went to college, and I have a full-time career. I have plans to maintain my professional life. I’m part of the new generation of homemakers!

Chris and I are not living with each other until after the wedding, but I can already tell what my duties are going to be as a homemaker based on our relationship, personalities, and schedules.

  1. Cooking — Chris is an excellent cook, probably better than me, but his work schedule has him burning both ends of the candle. I could see us taking turns in the kitchen, but I know on a long day out working, he’ll really appreciate having dinner on the table when he gets home.
  2. Cleaning — I like everything to be orderly, neat, and clean. Chris doesn’t care as much. I wouldn’t say he’s messy, but he probably doesn’t keep track of how long he goes between towel washings like I do. But guys will be guys, so I’ll keep on top of the cleanliness.
  3. Decorating — The decor in Chris’ apartment stems from his frat-boy days (think Arnold Schwarzenegger poster and beer bottles), so it’ll be my duty to furnish and decorate our home. This is one of the more fun homemaker tasks, I think.
  4. Shopping — Chris goes into the grocery store with no plan of attack or recipes in mind. He buys what looks good — and has a knack for cooking amazing dishes without a recipe. I like to make shopping lists and have what I’m going to cook that week decided in advance. I think this will be even more important when we add little ones to our family.
  5. Scheduling — Even now, I’m the one who coordinates with our families to schedule visits and plan itineraries. To put it simply, I’m a planner and he is not. I think that’s a good thing, though, because he’s better at stepping back and enjoying life, rather than always planning the next part.

So, I have to ask all you experienced homemakers for your advice. What do you wish your newlywed self had known? Any pearls of wisdom or snippets of advice? Please share in the comments!

Sarah Beckman is an editor at Affordable Scarves where she writes about styling scarves and getting celebrity looks for less. She’s a bride-to-be getting married October 1 in Indianapolis.

Its the Crickets Fault

Or a Better Title:  Why a 50 Something Year Old Can’t Stand Up for Herself Properly

It was one of those days. We all get them, right? Oh please tell me I’m not the only one that gets really crazy days.

I was overwhelmed with stuff that had to get done and everything seemed to go wrong. I won’t go into all of the things that made my day go wrong but by mid afternoon I was getting close to a melt down. And the best was yet to come.

In the midst of everything, I remembered my poor little fire bellied frogs hadn’t eaten anything in 3 days. I buy 40 crickets for them once a week and that usually lasts them a week but for some reason, a lot of these crickets died before I could feed them to the frogs, and I hadn’t had a chance to get back up to my local PetSmart to pick up some more. So I added that to my list of things I had to get done.

I looked at the clock and saw that I had 30 minutes before my daughter got off work and picked up the baby. So I had just enough time to run up to the pet store and picked them up. Usually my granddaughter MayMay loves going “Bye-Bye” and also loves being in PetSmart although it’s a challenge to keep her in the cart. Like most toddlers, she wants to get down and touch everything.

So I go back to the fish section in PetSmart to where they keep the crickets. The clerk is helping 2 guys with some fish. Okay, great. I’ll be next, I think. Unfortunately, she is taking her time flirting talking to them. While I’m waiting, an elderly couple comes up and waits beside me.

While we are waiting, my phone rings. It’s the hospital. My mother is in the emergency room. Nothing real serious, she just had trouble breathing even with her oxygen and so they will keep her a few hours to get it back up to normal. So I need to get there as soon as possible.

Now, most normal, sane people would rush out of the store at this and race to the hospital. But no, not me. I did have my reasons. First, I can’t take the baby in the emergency room so I have to wait until I can hand off to her mother, my daughter. And this is the 6th time this year my mother has had to go to the emergency room. Only once did they keep her. The other times, they sent her home after a few hours. So odds are, it’s nothing too serious.

Regardless, I’m still getting ansy waiting my turn. I really need to get this chore done and get back home in time for my daughter’s return, so I can get on to the hospital. The clerk is still talking  to the 2 fellows. The old couple and I exchange glances.

By now, my granddaughter has lost all patience with sitting in the cart, and is trying to climb out. I keep putting her back in. I try to hand her a toy to distract her but she throws it down and starts screaming. Oh joy. While this is going on, a group of 5 teenagers walk back and join the waiting group of customers.

The clerk finally turns around and sees the crowd waiting and rushes to us.  She asks us who is next. I say “I am” over the screaming baby and the old couple also point to me and say “she is”. She starts towards me when one of the boys in the gaggle of teenagers pipes up and says “No I was here first!”

Are you kidding me? He was the last of us to get here. So I say, “No you weren’t!” And the boy says, “Yes I was” and his little friends all agree.

I say, “Well I guess you were invisible then.” At which point he just snarls at me.

The clerk looks confused like she doesn’t know who to go to. Now common sense would dictate to go to the person with the screaming baby to get them out of there quicker, right? Also odds are, the older folks here are not going to be the ones telling lies in this group. But what does she do? She goes to help the boy.

I mutter under my breath but loud enough so they can hear, “Unbelievable!” And of course the boy wants to get 3-4 different kind of fish so it looks like we are going to be here awhile.

I’m still trying to quiet my granddaughter when the boy turns around to give me a triumphant gloating grin and I’m just glaring at him. He glares back at me and we  stare at each other for almost a full minute before he says “What?”

At this point, I say “You know good and well you were not here first.” I can’t believe I’m being so petty about this but I just can’t help myself. Melt down time commences!

We get into a yelling match, all the while the clerk is looking panicked and the older couple are just watching with their mouths hanging open.

The boy calls me a bitch. I say that sorry, maybe I’m acting like one but I just found out my mother is in the hospital and I need to hurry up and get to her. At which point he says, “Well shouldn’t you be there instead of here?” I yell back that I don’t need to explain myself to a spoiled brat.

Now looking back, I guess he was right. I mean, how did that look? My mother is in the hospital and here I am out cricket shopping? But then he didn’t know all the circumstances behind it. I should have never even brought up the fact that my mother was in the hospital. In fact, I should have never behaved that way with some kid.

At this point, I feel like I’m going to totally lose self control and whap the kid so I say “forget it” and go to the stack of boxed crickets. I don’t like buying crickets this way because they are more expensive and half of them end up being dead but I can no longer wait for this idiot girl to get a grip and help me.

So I grab a box and rush up to the cash register. There is a customer ahead of me and that’s when the one and only cash register that has a cashier, breaks down. Are you fricking kidding me? I wait while the cashier calls the manager twice over the loud speaker. He’s a no show so after several minutes, I drop the box of crickets on the counter and leave.

As I’m pulling out of the parking lot. the group of teens walk out of the store. When they see me, they go a different way. Wise choice. At that point, I would have liked nothing better than hit the boy. Not really. But it would have been fun to chase him around the parking lot.

Several days later, I am still so ashamed of myself. And I guess I’ll have to go out of my way to a store much further away to get my crickets.

If you knew me, you would know this is totally out of character for me to lose it like that. In fact 99 out of 100 times, I will let people walk all over me. I won’t speak up for myself at all. I was a child of the 60’s and 70’s and raised in the South. I was taught that proper Southern ladies do not make a fuss, or raise their voices in public or pretty much do anything to stand up for  our self in situations like this. We are supposed to turn the other cheek. So that’s what I usually do.

But rarely, when I’m under a lot stress as I was yesterday, I just lose it and that sweet, proper Southern lady turns into Mega-Witch. I was never taught how to properly stand up for myself and have no idea how to do it. So I go to one extreme or the other. You’d think by my age I would have figured this thing out but I still haven’t.

Wow, this has turned into a book. But I do feel better now writing this all out. So my friends, what would you have done in my shoes?

Oh by the way, my mother was fine. They sent her home shortly after I got there. She just turned the knob on her oxygen tank the wrong way. And I sent my son up later to get the crickets so my frogs are happy.




What is Your Food Legacy?

family dinner
We often take our senses for granted. But without them, our lives and memories would be so much duller.

Have you ever smelled a particular smell or heard a song on the radio, and it takes you right back in time? I know I have. I can hear a song from the radio from the 70’s, and I immediately think back to that day in Junior High when a boy I had a crush on was singing that song and playing the “air guitar” before class.

Or the song that was playing on the radio when I had my first date.

Or I can smell gardenias and remember that magical night when I graduated. I remember coming home from the graduation ceremony and changing into my party clothes and smelling the gardenias that grew under my bedroom window. The smell brings back those feelings of being young, excited about the fun party I would be going to, and the feeling of being free from the shackles of high school and having my whole life ahead of me.

The smell of certain foods bring back the same kind of memories.

The smell of pot roast reminds me of my grandmother’s country kitchen. She died when I was young. My younger sister doesn’t even remember her. I don’t remember much about her but I do remember she always wore an apron and she had the coolest looking old country kitchen. I remember sitting on a tall stool in her kitchen while she was preparing Sunday dinner which was usually a pot roast, with potatoes, carrots and onions, and homemade biscuits. Those smells remind me of my Mamal and it brings back feelings of being loved and comforted.

My dad was the cook in our family and he cooked in the country Southern style. He was a great cook. He made great green beans with ham hocks, beef stew, cole slaw, corn bread and pepper steak among many other dishes. If I smell anything that smells like my dad’s cooking it reminds me of my dad who has been gone 3 years now and who I miss so much.

I’m not a fantastic cook like my father and grandmother were but I am adequate and I do have some specialties that I make really well. These will be my food legacies for my children and grandchildren.

I make a mean lasagna. It was actually the first dish I learned to cook. I was 11 and in 6th grade Home Economics class and my assignment was to make lasagna and serve it to a family member. My dad took off work and was my guinea pig family member and I remember how proud I was to serve him like I was the little hostess. I had the table set the proper way and the cloth napkin neatly folded on the plate.

I served ice tea, a garden salad and garlic bread with the lasagna. My dad ate every bite and praised me for how delicious it was. I beamed with pride imagining myself as the next Julia Child or at least a great cook like my father.

It wasn’t until after he left that I tried the lasagna myself and realized my mistake. The recipe had called for 2 tablespoons of sugar and I mistakenly used salt. The lasagna was extremely salty and inedible. And yet, my sweet dad ate every bite.

I have improved in my lasagna making skills over the last 40 years and have developed my own recipe. I often serve it on holidays and other special occasions. I am sure my kids will always think of me and the special times we ate lasagna whenever they smell it for the rest of their lives.  I have several other dishes that I make really well that will also invoke those memories for my kids.

Now that I have a granddaughter, I often let her “help” me in the kitchen when I am cooking. I want her to feel the love and comfort that I felt in my grandmother’s kitchen.  We make chocolate chip cookies together and I hope that will be one of my food legacies for her.

So what are you food legacies? Do you have special dishes that you make that will forever remind your family of you? What are they? I’d love to know!