Category Archives: Pop Culture

A Cozy Covid Christmas

Coming soon to a streaming service near you, a magical new holiday movie!

“A Cozy Covid Christmas.” 

Starring Sage Periwinkle as Holly Merriweather and Chadwick Strongjaw as Logan Bennett. Featuring Judy Greer as The Quirky Best Friend, Tom Skerritt as Someone’s Dad, and Candace Cameron Bure as the Evil High-Powered Boss.

Meet Holly. A busy and adorably neurotic interior designer living in an undefined big city. When she’s not busy walking determinedly across a crowded crosswalk, she’s busy talking on the phone while signing various documents people hold out for her, followed by busily sipping wine at a hip bar with her best friend. 

Judy Greer: “How did your date go last night?”

Holly: “Terrible. I shouldn’t have even gone. I’m so busy with my career as a successful bakery chef.” 

Judy Greer (whispering): “Interior designer.”

Holly: “Oh. Right. Anyway, I don’t have time for romance. All I care about is this upcoming Very Important Business Deal.”

Judy Greer: “Holly, you need to live a little! Let’s have more wine. Where’s that hot waiter?”

But while Holly may not think she has time for romance, 2020 has different plans. Especially once she runs into Logan Bennett, the charming but damaged hometown bachelor who dresses like a fancy lumberjack and who happens to have a positive test result. 

For reasons that are flimsy and never fully explained, these two strangers must quarantine together over the holidays in a quaint Vermont inn surrounded by picturesque snowy mountains. 

Logan: “Look, let’s just make the best of this. How about we order some food. What do you like? Sushi? Thai?”

Holly: “I guess I could go for a cheeseburger and a beer.”

Logan: “Wow.”

Holly: “What?”

Logan: “Nothing. It’s just…you’re not like other girls, are you?”

The only thing they have in common is their endearing stubbornness and apparent access to unlimited top quality hair products. But when a frozen pipe explodes, forcing them to work together until they end up soaked and laughing on the kitchen floor, they find both of their hearts starting to thaw. 

Judy Greer (via Zoom): “Listen, sweetie, if you don’t go after that hunk of a man, I will.” (sips from giant wine glass)

Holly: “How can I? My career comes first. It always has. Besides, Karen needs those proofs by Christmas Eve…”

Judy Greer: “Oh, it’s a pandemic, Holly! Take a day off, for Pete’s sake! Find you some love in the time of corona.”

Both: (laugh impeccably white toothy laughs while sipping more wine)

But it’s only when a blizzard sweeps through, knocking out the power and forcing these two star-crossed and asymptomatic would-be lovers to huddle together under a blanket surrounded by candlelight, that they truly learn no mandate can force two hearts to socially distance.

Luke…Liam?…Logan!: “It’s just, my parents divorced on Christmas Eve when I was 13 and my fiance left me at the altar at our Christmas themed wedding three years ago and I never got over my childhood dog dying on New Year’s Eve and since then it’s been hard for me to get close to anyone, especially during the holidays.” 

Holly (gently grabbing his hands): “Logan, you may not be an essential worker, but you’re essential to me.” 

Then a bunch of other melodramatic stuff happens after the quarantine ends and they have to return to the real world, all of which is sloppily tied up in the sappy ending on Christmas morning. 

Holly: “Do you think you could ever love me, even though I betrayed you to get the scoop I needed for my Big Magazine Article?”

Logan: “I thought you were an interior designer.” 

Holly: “Oh. Right. Well, do you think you could ever love me even though I’m a mess but always somehow impeccably dressed?”

Logan: “Only if you can forgive me for that sleazy, sexist bet I made with my super rich best friend when I first met you but then changed my mind about once I got to know you.”

(passionate kiss set to rising music and an absurd amount of falling snow)

This holiday season, get ready for “A Cozy Covid Christmas.” Coming to a streaming service near you. 

Probably. 

Stickin’ it to the man (and everything else)

Hey, here’s something you might not know. According to historians it was the ancient Egyptians who invented stickers. Archaeologists have actually found remains of sticky paper plastered on Egyptian market walls that were used to display the price and description of goods.

Here’s another fun tidbit. Modern stickers got their start from a man going by the very fancy moniker of Sir Rowland Hill. He invented an adhesive paper in 1839, which eventually led to the first postage stamps. 

Oh, and, amusing little fact, another man with an excessively fancy name, R. Stanton Avery, is credited with inventing the first self adhesive label in 1935, leading the way for the sticker as we know it today.  

All of which is a very long way to say I don’t know why all these people listed above hate me and want to ruin my life. All I know is that they have been very successful in their endeavor. Because stickers are indeed destroying my life. And my home. And my wardrobe. And whatever little bit of my sanity that is still sticking around. (HA! GET IT! “STICKING”! HA! HA!). 

OK, fine. Maybe you’re right. Maybe all these people had no idea the destruction and havoc their invention would wreak on my small little world. But even so, just because you can invent something, doesn’t mean you should. So screw you, anonymous, innovative Egyptian merchant! I hope you drowned in quicksand or however ancient Egyptians typically died back then. 

They’re just everywhere. Stickers on the walls, the floors, on every stuffie, on at least half the books. Oh, and on me. All over me. My arms, my legs, my clothes, my shoes. One minute there is a child sweetly asking to sit on my lap and the next I am covered in stickers from head to toe. With everything else, they have the fine motor skills of a drunk baby panda, but give these kids a sheet of stickers and they suddenly have the dexterity and rapidity of a seasoned neurosurgeon. They could cover the entire world in stickers in roughly 45 minutes. 

I don’t even know where these stickers are coming from. How are my kids keeping their supply line going in the middle of a pandemic? They’re not even in school. We’ve been doing remote learning since September and the city has been on some level of lockdown since March. Is there a neighborhood black market for stickers that I am unaware of? Did they finally figure out my Amazon password? 

WHO KEEPS GIVING MY CHILDREN STICKERS?

That last question isn’t rhetorical. I want names. Addresses. Lists of weaknesses and biggest fears. I will have my revenge. 

You know, back in my day, we had respect for the sticker game. We played with them the way God intended, by moving them from the sticker sheet immediately to our sticker album. And there they would stay for all eternity. There was none of this free range sticker nonsense the youth believe in today, just putting stickers wherever they feel like whenever they feel like. 

And I hear you. I do. It could be worse, you’re saying. It could be the dreaded (*whispers*) glitter. But nope, I disagree. I would actually prefer glitter. Because while glitter never, ever goes away, the worse that will happen if it gets all over me is that I will look like either a stripper or a fairy and honestly, I’m fine with both. 

But stickers? I get covered in those bad boys and 1. when I rip them off it also rips off my body hair and 2. they always end up still stuck on my clothes after I put them in the wash, leaving their weird residue all over everything. And this may come as a shock to some of you, but I am not the type of mother who is going to Google “how to get sticker residue off of clothes” and then actually try to get the sticker residue off of the clothes. I am the kind of mother who gets angry and curses and then just walks around in clothes with permanent sticker residue on them because I am tired and lazy. 

I don’t really have an ending for this rant. Other than I WILL FIND YOU NEIGHBORHOOD BLACK MARKET STICKER DEALER. You can run and you can hide, but I will FIND YOU. 

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go take a butterknife and try to scrape the stickers off our hardwood floors and the ceilings because the little one has discovered she can climb all the way up to the top of the unsecured bookcase now. 

An evening with Stephen King

When it comes to long-term relationships, it’s important to surprise each other every once in a while. If you’ve been together long enough, this can be done as easily as accidentally listening to your partner when they’re talking. Which is how I heard the following last night. 

“If you weren’t so scared of spiders, I’d take you down into the sewers by my mom’s house.” 

An actual sentence uttered by my husband of ten years. I haven’t listened to a damn thing the man’s said in at least three years (the “Hamilton” soundtrack just blaring in my mind every time he opens his mouth), and yet, somehow, this is the one thing that got through. Blame it on the pandemic and our isolation, but so help me, I heard it and I couldn’t unhear it, which meant I was about to get to know my husband better whether I wanted to or not.

“Say what now?” I replied, as the sound of a record scratch reverberated through my head.

“Yeah…have I never told you about when I used to hang out in the sewers?”

“You have not,” I responded, while looking around futilely for anyone else who could corroborate that this was happening. 

“Yeah, you know the drainage ditch across from my parents house? If you follow that down to Farmington Avenue, there are these two concrete tunnels, side by side. You know the kind I mean?”

“I do not. I did not play in the sewer as a child,” I said, unable to hide my smile. “But by all means, continue.”

“Well, one was big enough you could crawl through and after about hundred yards, you came to a room down there. It was a roughly seven square foot concrete room, with a bunch of drainage pipes. My buddies and I, we’d go down there with flashlights and hang out.”

You think you know someone. You think you know all their stories. Only to find out that their childhood was apparently written by Stephen King. 

“What is your life, dude?” I asked after a long pause. 

“Oh, that’s nothing. We once made a hideout out of an abandoned foundation for a house.”

HOO BOY. 

“Hang on,” I said. “I’m going to need another beer.”

I grabbed two. If Stephen King has taught me anything, it’s that stories that begin with children in sewers tend to be long.  

“It was about three feet down, with steps built in and a dirt floor. We made a roof out of broken down tree limbs so it was hidden from view. We’d steal cigarettes from the Circle K and go down there after school,” said the man I formerly knew as my mild-mannered husband. “We had a little radio we’d play. Our one buddy, he had a rough home life, he’d go there when he needed to get away. It was great for about three years and then some high school kids discovered it and kicked us out.”

“Please tell me at some point you guys poked a dead body with a stick.”

“No.”

“Did you pull a gun on the high school punks? Because they tried to steal your dead body?”

“No.”

He let out a long and well earned irritated sigh. 

“But we did build a treehouse one summer,” he added. 

“Of course you did.”

“Well, what was your childhood like?” he asked.

“Normal. Not some combination of ‘IT’ and ‘Stand By Me.’” 

“Like I already said, there was never a dead body. Seriously, what did you do in the summers?”

Oh, because apparently we were getting to know me now. I took another sip of my beer. 

“You know,” I said, “running around feral in the woods and cornfields. Minimal adult supervision.”

“So you were ‘Children of the Corn’?” 

I laughed hard. Which might also have been because I was now on my third beer. 

“I was also prom queen,” I snorted.

We both started laughing. We laughed so hard, in fact, that we woke up our young son. He shuffled out of his room in that terrifying way small children have late at night. 

“‘The Shining!’” we both shouted while pointing at him.

“What are you guys doing?” he asked, rubbing his eyes.

“Nothing,” said his father.

“Redrum,” said his immature mother.  

He very wisely turned around and went back to bed. 

And so, the point of all this is that, one, the world was a Stephen King novel long before 2020. And two, I think I’m going to start listening to my husband more. Especially while we are living through this diet version of “The Stand.” 

Turns out getting to know your family is worth it. They have lives worthy of books. 

 

St. Momma’s Academy for Wayward Children

Greetings and salutations new students! I am pleased to welcome you as the inaugural class of St. Momma’s Academy For Wayward Children. I’m looking forward to a most maddening semester with all of your beautiful, perfect faces.  

Just a few details and tidbits to go over before I hand out the MAE, I SAID STOP LICKING YOUR BROTHER syllabus. Firstly, we have a unique schedule here at the academy. Classes start promptly at Whenever Momma Has The Energy and ends exactly at Momma Is About To Use The Big Curse Words. 

Breakfast, lunch and dinner will all be served whenever I get around to it and the menu will always be macaroni and cheese because I have given up already and so help me if you keep rolling your eyes at me, Riker, I will make you write a 1,000 word essay on how pretty I am. Now, at St. Momma’s Academy, you are allowed to go to the bathroom whenever you need, however, this does include the caveat that you cannot go at exactly the same time as Momma. 

Alright, well, once I pass out these syllabuses (syllabi?) I feel we have put in a good day’s work for today already and I’ll see you all tomorrow. Now take this packet and go away. Farther. No, farther. FARTHER. 

Music 

Introduction to the Quiet Game

This semester we will explore why silence is sometimes just as important as musical instruments. 

Art 

Stick Figure Technique and Design

I can only teach what I know, tiny scholars. 

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Science

ARE WE ALL GOING TO DIE!?: An Exploration of Modern Pandemics

This course will explain all the scary things you are hearing on the news and will mostly consist of reassurances that mommy and daddy and your grandparents and everyone you know and love will most likely not die any time soon. 

Math 

Fantastic Fractions

We’re just making a crap ton of cookies and I’ll let you guys hold the measuring cups and hope you learn fractions via osmosis. 

Physical Education

The FUNdamentals of Squirrel Chasing

First kid to catch one wins $20 and a cookie. GO! 

Reading

Accio Phonics!

We will be reading all the Harry Potter books together. No! Stop whining. I said, WE WILL BE READING ALL THE HARRY POTTER BOOKS TOGETHER. 

Home Economics

Advanced Beverage Science

The morning class will focus on how to operate the coffee maker while the afternoon class will learn basic cocktail recipes. Lab work will be evaluated daily. 

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Writing Economics

Exposure Don’t Pay The Bills

This intensive course will explore why Momma makes little to no money as a writer. Extra credit given to any student who offers hugs when the professor inevitably breaks down in tears of rage. 

History 

The ‘90’s Were A Hell Of A Time, Kids. 

We’re just going to look through Momma’s old photo albums while I drink whiskey and you guys drink apple juice in fancy glasses. 

Media Studies

History of 1980’s Cinema

This mandatory elective will be M-F afternoons until possibly bedtime. Homework assignments include multiple viewings of “The Goonies,” “The Princess Bride,” “Labyrinth,” “The Dark Crystal” and “Willow,” among others. Any complaining results in automatic failure.  

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Lord of the Remote

I don’t like to think of myself as dramatic, but every once in awhile a scene like the one described below occurs and I have to humbly accept my imaginary Oscar for best dramatic performance in a domestic situation. 

Son: Hey mom, can we watch “Lord of the Rings”?

Me: (dropping everything in my hands) I’VE BEEN WAITING FOR THIS MOMENT SINCE YOU WERE BORN.

Son: Mom, are you ok?

Me: (grabbing special edition extended DVD boxed set) Sit down and prepare not to do anything for the next 13 hours!

Son: Can I go to the bathroom?

Me: No. 

I’m kidding, of course. I let him go to the bathroom. 

Once. 

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The point is, we really are living in a magical time. A time where technology makes it possible for us to share everything we’ve ever loved and obsessed over with our children. EVERYTHING. Most of it at the click of a button. Even more amazing is that it’s something we already take for granted even though this instant nostalgia wasn’t around a mere generation ago. 

I have no idea what my mom’s favorite TV show was when she was growing up. This is mostly because as her child I was genetically inclined to think everything she liked was dumb and therefore of no interest to me. But also she had very few outlets to share these things with me. Reruns and VHS tapes were pretty much it and that was only if some balding, cigar-chomping, TV executive (I’m just assuming they were all like that in the ‘80’s) decided they were worthy of reruns and/or VHS immortality. 

Meanwhile, my children have seen my favorite childhood TV show, “David the Gnome,” so many times they could write a passable doctoral thesis on it in multiple crayon colors. (Alas, my favorite childhood movie, “The Neverending Story,” didn’t go over as well because us ‘80’s kids were built of stronger stuff and didn’t get hysterical every time a beloved horse character committed suicide via swamp quicksand). 

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It’s not just movies and TV shows either. Thanks to the Nintendo Classic Edition, my kids and I have spent hours playing Mario Bros. together, side by side, just like I used to do with my cousins. The only difference now is that I’m finally the best player and my generic Mountain Dew has been replaced by generic Merlot. 

I’m basically getting to relive the best parts of my pop culture past while bringing my kids along for the ride. This is an extraordinary power and like all extraordinary powers, it’s super fun to abuse.

Take, for example, the fact I’ve been trying to force the Harry Potter books onto my firstborn for years. Pretty much once a week we have some version of the following conversation:

Me: You ready yet?

Son: For what?

Me: (in bad British accent) ‘arry Potter! 

Son: No.

Me: How about now?

Son: Nope.

Me: Now?

Son: Please stop, mom.

Me: Accio Interest!

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But THEN, after buying multiple Harry Potter Lego sets and T-shirts and light up wands and a sorting hat and discreetly playing the movies in the background and leaving the books scattered all over his room, my son brought home a worksheet from kindergarten and under the question “What is the title of a book you want to read?” he wrote “Hrry Pottr Nubrw 2.”* 

Did I trick him into wanting to read the books? Did I gaslight my own child? Did I grift my own flesh and blood? Is it weird he want to start with “nubrw 2”? 

Yup, yup, yup and yup.  

It’s just, my kids have the WORST taste in entertainment. It’s all “Little Einsteins” and “Paw Patrol” and “Muppet Babies” but not the awesome old “Muppet Babies,” the new ones with the weird penguin. 

They don’t even like the good Disney movies. All the Disney movies ever made right there at their fingertips and they keep requesting “Sleeping Beauty,” the one where the princess is worthless and does nothing and has one simple job, not to touch a spindle, but what does she do? She touches a spindle because she’s human garbage. 

So, while I would never dictate what my children can and cannot like, because that would be “wrong,” all I’m saying is that while they are still too little to figure out our three remotes and the convoluted sequence of magic buttons you have to hit in order to make them obey your every command, I’m merely going to gently guide them in the right direction. 

The right direction, of course, being “The Goonies.” 

 

When your kids have too much scream time

I had always thought of myself as someone who doesn’t follow the crowd. As the type of woman who blazed her own path, made her own destiny. I was a lone wolf. Who was also a unicorn. Who moonlighted as a succubus on days when she was feeling grumpy. 

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Then I met my stupid adorable future husband and we started dating and everyone said “get married!” and we were like “ok.” Then after we got married, everyone said “have a kid!” and we were all “sure, who needs a disposable income?” Then after we had a kid, everyone said “have another one!” and so we did mostly because we were too tired to think of reasons not to. 

Then, when we were drowning in tiny, adorable, self-destructive gingers, those same people had the audacity to tell our exhausted, disgusting, overwhelmed selves that we couldn’t plop those kids down in front of a TV so we could get a moment’s peace in the diaper-stained tsunami that was now our lives. 

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Oh, and not just TV. This was a moratorium on all screens. Phones. Tablets. Laptops. Laptops that turned into tablets. 

“No screens! It will destroy their brains!” everyone shouted while sending torch and pitchfork gifs to our phones. 

And that’s where I finally broke with the crowd. Because do you know how long a day is when you are stuck at home with small children? It’s 57 hours. And that’s just before noon. I had no idea what to do with them. I’d read books, I’d build forts, I’d play hide and seek even though they hid in the same damn place every. single. time. (Spoiler alert: It was inside the fort). Then I’d look up and realize 12 minutes had passed. Which is when I would pull down all the window shades and put on “Sesame Street” with the volume super low, the kids pushing their faces against the television in order to actually hear Elmo. 

“It doesn’t count if no one but me knows” I’d whisper to myself while creepily rubbing my hands together villain-style. 

Look, I know too much screen time can have negative effects on children. I’m not saying everyone is wrong. I’m just saying they need to acknowledge that the alternative can be just as awful. That without any screen time, everything devolves into scream time. Mostly by the parents. 

Kids are more than capable of destroying their brains the old-fashioned screen-less way. Take this innocent little exchange between my kids I overheard the other day:

6-year-old: Ok, so put on your cape…

3-year-old Ok.

6-year-old: And then I’m going to push you off the bed…

3-year-old: Ok. 

6-year-old: And we’ll see if you can fly!

Me: NO! 

Or this one…

6-year-old: Did you get them?

3-year-old: Yup. 

Me: Get what?

*crickets*

Me: GET WHAT?

6-year-old: …nothing.

Me: *gets up and confiscates the big pair of scissors and three steak knives the 3-year-old is hiding behind her back*

6-year-old: Well how are we supposed to play pirates now?

And for everyone who claims that video games make kids violent, I’m not necessarily disagreeing. But I am saying that so do sticks. My children are constantly picking up sticks and using them to beat each other relentlessly. This usually escalates until they are using full on tree limbs to bash each others skulls in, which is when the park magically closes and we have to head home. 

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The thing is, sometimes you need screen time to make sure your children stay alive. To make their savage little butts sit down for a hot minute and kill pixels instead of each other. 

And sure, maybe it will eventually turn their brains to mush. I, of all people, am likely to find out considering both of my kids can quote the entire “Princess Bride” movie verbatim. But honestly, have you ever heard a 3-year-old yell “He didn’t fall!? Inconceivable!”? I’d argue it’s cute enough to warrant a reasonable amount of brain mush. 

In the end, I think, it’s all about balance. Let your kids play on their tablet guilt-free. Enjoy the quiet and peaceful non-homicidal atmosphere without beating yourself up. And then have them turn the tablets off so they can use them to hit each other over the head. 

Not until the holidays are over

It’s understandable, I suppose. If you look at a calendar, there is December, looking on the surface just like any other month. Row after row of days, each begging to be filled up with errands and tasks and to-do lists. So I get why some people treat it just like any other month. 

But let me make this as clear as possible. Nothing is getting accomplished until after the holidays. At least on my end. 

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See, once December starts, you might, MIGHT, get one week at the beginning where I kinda sorta pretend to care and half-heartedly “do” stuff. But we have now reached a point in the season where this is no longer real life. Nothing matters anymore except things that have a decidedly Yuletide bent to them. I am now living in a snow globe filled with eggnog. Go away. I’ll see you all again in January. 

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My dentist is harassing me about making an appointment. The vet is wondering when I’m bringing my dog in for a check-up. My toddler wants me to sign her up for dance classes. Our passports need renewed. Etc. Etc. 

Look, I have to watch “A Christmas Story” AT LEAST five more times. There are cookies I need to buy from the store and pass off as my own special recipe. Not to mention, I still have to figure out which festive liqueur I’m going to slip into my coffee on Christmas morning. I’m swamped. All this constant nagging about deadlines and paying bills and what are we going to do about the leak in the kitchen and the kids need to eat something besides candy canes is fa-la-la-la-la-laing on deaf ears. 

Not until the holidays are over. 

Oh, what’s that? Do I hear what you hear when the car starts? That awful grinding sound? No, sorry. I only hear what Whitney Houston hears. A song, a song, high above the trees, with a voice big enough to block you and the rest of reality out. 

Nothing. Until. The. Holidays. Are. Over. 

Sure I’ll still send my oldest kid to school (because I’m pretty sure legally I have to). But his hygiene and preparedness are a crapshoot this far along in the month. Was I aware I sent him to school wearing two different shoes? And only one sock? Where is his homework? And backpack? Why is he quoting “Die Hard?” 

All things I will definitely address. After the holidays are over. (Although please enjoy these definitely homemade cookies that are my own special recipe). 

We’re out of toothpaste? I’ll put it on your Christmas list. The laundry needs done? What’s a few more days in those pajamas you’ve been wearing all weekend? That gigantic tower of unread mail on my desk? I’ll get to it. I swear. Right now, however, I have to drive around and look at Christmas lights and then stop at a festively decorated craft brewery where my kids will eat french fries and I will drink a beer with 12 percent alcohol called “Yankee Swap.”

That book club I want to start? The writing group I’ve already promised to start? That Christmas party I was thinking of hosting?

All of them can wait. UNTIL AFTER THE HOLIDAYS. I mean, “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” isn’t going to watch itself while eating three-fourths of a large pizza. 

And come January 2, you can come bug me about all the stuff I’ve been putting off. Or the 3rd, depending on how bad my New Year Eve’s hangover is. Just get in line behind everyone else and do your best to ignore my sobbing. 

When you just need a quick recipe…

Well, hello there! Welcome to my food blog! I see you’re looking up a quick recipe to make for dinner tonight. You’ve definitely come to the right place. This truly is one of my favorites to make and it’s so easy and simple you’ll be shocked when it also tastes like it came from a fancy five-star restaurant! And, trust me, your whole family will love it! Yes! Truly! Did I already use truly earlier? Doesn’t matter, because it’s true. Even though your kids haven’t eaten anything other than plain pasta and french fries for the last eight months, they are sure to ask for seconds (or maybe even thirds!) of this simple, easy recipe that is truly SO tasty and uses all fresh ingredients including a couple you’ve literally never even heard of.

As you can see from the much too large photo and bio over there on the side of this website, I am a busy mom JUST LIKE YOU. A busy mom with perfect hair casually holding a glass of white wine and wearing a sweater you can definitely not afford. So, trust me, I get it. Dinner time is always hectic in our house too. So, I know how valuable your time is. So, let’s get right to it, shall we?

I first started cooking when I was seven-years-old. And one of my favorite things to make in my grandmother’s kitchen was this very recipe. Truly! Oh wait, sorry, here comes the first of the pop ads. Followed immediately by the second one. Just hit the tiny little box with the x in it but be careful not to accidentally click on the ad itself…

Hey! Welcome back! Truly, I know how annoying those ads can be but a girl has to make an income somehow, you know? Otherwise I couldn’t afford a nanny to watch little Naiviann, Mckarty and Lakynn so I have the time to write a 12,000 word introduction for every single recipe on this site. 

Now, as I was saying, this recipe is a real crowd-pleaser and uses ingredients that are probably already in your pantry. Just some chicken and organic heirloom tomatoes and spigarello and a ripe kabocha and fresh thyme grown in the manure of a free range alpaca named Larry. Of course, you can always substitute the fresh goat crema for evaporated milk. I mean, I’m not a monster. I once was upper middle class before I became wealthy so I get the struggle. 

Oh, hang on, here comes the pop up video that you can’t find the X-out button to. It’s only 3 minutes and 52 seconds long so just watch it as your rage slowly starts to build. 

Alright, onto the recipe because the kids are getting hungry while you’ve wasted 45 minutes frantically scrolling in an increasingly desperate attempt to find the recipe on this recipe blog site. But, trust me, the wait will be worth it. No joke, over 12 people have sent me messages telling me this was the BEST recipe they had ever tried. Which is why I’m so excited for you to try it! Feel free to sign up for my newsletter for more amazing recipes just like this one that you haven’t even seen yet. Here are also some links you never asked for of my other family-friendly recipes like an herb-encrusted salmon with a white wine sauce and my garlic-infused roasted parmesan asparagus casserole. 

Now you want to make sure that when you are sauteing the vegetables in this recipe that you use sunflower oil and not vegetable oil. I know this tip should be included with the actual recipe but when it comes to cooking, at least in my experience, it’s always better to list the tips and tricks to the recipe way before you get to the actual recipe so that you have to scroll back up when you are in the middle of actually making it. 

Oh look, another ad! For something you didn’t even Google. You just thought about it briefly last week. Creepy, huh? Oh, and bummer. Now your screen is frozen. Don’t worry. I’ll wait. I clearly have all the time in the world even though I am, as I mentioned, a very busy mom. JUST LIKE YOU. Truly!

Hey! It finally unfroze. Welcome back again! Alright, now that your battery is below five percent, here is the recipe. And you better get started. The total time is 3 hours and 45 minutes. 

 

What’s in a name?

People often spell my name wrong. This is usually through no fault of their own but rather because of an impulsive decision I made as a young girl. One of those passionate and spontaneous moments of childhood that only happen in childhood because sometimes when you’re nine you know yourself better than when you’re on the cusp of 39. 

For those of you who don’t know, or never noticed, I spell my name with two L’s. I changed it in the third grade because every parent in the early 80’s in western Ohio thought April was just a super terrific name and, as a result, there were what felt like hundreds of us in my small elementary school. Technically at least seven. Most importantly, three alone just in my class. Tired of being April B., I decided to set fire to the old me and emerge from the ashes as Aprill. 

Aprill! Yes! Because Aprill is so much more exotic than plain old boring April. April was a month. Aprill was a force of nature. Aprill could do anything. Wear her jeans pegged! Rollerblade without a helmet! Know all the lyrics to a Tupac song! (And not the radio edit version!) With a name like that I was destined for big things. Like becoming the first supermodel doctor archaeologist who wrote novels on the weekend. 

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Granted, not everyone was on board with this change. My teacher repeatedly marked my grade down on all my spelling tests because I spelled my name “wrong.” Nevertheless, I persisted. Unfortunately so did she, which is why I got a C in spelling that year, but I think I made my point. 

Because eventually everyone did forget that April B. ever existed. Soon I was known as Aprill, that girl who puked on the playground that one time! (It was hotdog day. It wasn’t pretty). 

And thus things remained until last week when I went to Starbucks, where I discovered I hadn’t been nearly ambitious enough with my name change all those years ago. Because right there, on my cup, staring back at me in black and white, was the most beautifully unnecessary way yet to spell my name. 

“Aperal”

APERAL. I mean. What? 

I’ll admit I laughed at first. Even shared it on social media to get some laughs and also show everyone that I am a very important writer who writes very writerly-like at Starbucks with all the other important writerly writers of our generation. 

But, and I’m not proud of this, but it got me thinking. What if that was my name? What if I was Aperal? And if I was, who was this Aperal? 

I mean, sure, Aperal looks like a cross between the name of prescription drug with horrible side effects and a fancy drink women in their mid-40’s order at two in the afternoon. But you have to admit it’s memorable. 

I’ll tell you one thing, Aperal is probably not the kind of person who only wins arguments in the shower. Oh no, Aperal would win them right then and there and while completely dry.  

When someone asks Aperal what she does for a living, she wouldn’t go “oh, I’m kind of a writer.” Oh no. She’d say “I’m an award-winning columnist.” And then she’d probably do something really cool like chug an entire martini and throw the glass into the fireplace (because Aperal is the kind of person who is always casually hanging out by fireplaces). 

And Aperal would definitely have the nerve to get a pixie haircut and dye it platinum blonde like Aprill has been wanting to do for years.  

Aperal probably doesn’t have insomnia either. Nope. You’d never catch her slowly eating an entire block of cheese dipped in guacamole by the glow of the refrigerator light because she hasn’t got a good night’s sleep in three weeks and nothing matters anymore. 

Aperal can probably get into her sports bra without pulling a muscle and knocking over a lamp. 

Aperal could send a text without agonizing over its content until she got a reply. 

I bet Aperal even knows how to French braid. Like some kind of hair wizard. 

And when Aperal’s kids misbehave in public, Aperal would get them in line by turning into a stern but lovable Mary Poppins as the entire playground looked on in awe, as opposed to growling at them and whipping out her Darth Vader voice, terrifying everyone within hearing distance.

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Sigh. It does sound nice. Completely reinventing myself again. To become that better version of myself that is hiding underneath all the ketchup stains and undereye bags. 

In the end though, Aprill, for all her faults and pretentiously referring to herself in the third person, isn’t that bad. And Aperal, for as amazing as she sounds, wasn’t the one who built this life from the ground up. A life full of mistakes but one I’m happy to call my own. 

Besides, wasn’t it someone famous (Aperal would probably know) who said “That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”?

So, I think I’ll stick with remaining Aprill for now. 

But I’m keeping Aperal in my back pocket. Just in case I’m ever casually hanging out by a fireplace. 

 

38 Things I’ve Learned in 38 Years

Well, it’s my birthday. Again. And it’s a big one. The Big 3-8. I am now as old as Homer Simpson (at least in season 8). No, I’m not crying. You’re crying. SOMEONE BRING ME A BEER AND A DONUT. 

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If I’m being honest, though, I don’t really mind aging. I’ve learned so many things this past year. Wise things. Sensible things. And so, so many useless things.

All things I would now like to generously share with you…

The easiest way to deal with grass stains on your children’s clothing is to not care that your children’s clothing have grass stains.

If someone says “hey, smell this!” do not, under any circumstances, smell it.

I know there are people out there who don’t drink wine. I don’t understand them but I do think we should still try to love them.

Speaking of love, if you truly love someone, show it. By texting instead of calling.

Preschool teachers do not get paid nearly enough.

Growing older makes you realize what the truly important things are in life. I’d pay way more money for an uninterrupted nap than I would for diamonds or gold.

Never punch down. In comedy or life.

Take photos and videos of your kids when they are at their worst. Then look at these every time your ovaries start whispering “hey, there’s still time to have one more baby.”

I’m young enough to still hate the taste of martinis.

I’m old enough to now like the taste of gross stinky cheese.

In that brief moment when all your laundry is done AND put away, all things are possible. Revel in this moment before it ends.

We should all jump on the saving-the-planet bandwagon. I mean, what’s the worst that could happen? We succeed and our grandchildren don’t have to live in a dystopian hellscape?

It’s ok to look your age. Looking young is not an accomplishment. It’s a result of genes or lots of money or an extremely boring life. Or all three.

Hating pop culture is not an acceptable substitute for an actual personality. Shut up and let people like stuff.

No means no, stop means stop, let Mommy finish her coffee means LET MOMMY FINISH HER COFFEE. 

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Most people have no idea what they’re doing. Don’t let their confidence fool you.

The good thing about exercising is that if you do it for so long, you become addicted to it. The bad thing about exercising is that if you do it for so long, you become addicted to it.

It’s ok to laugh uncomfortably at funerals. Unless it’s your funeral.

It’s a small world. It’s an infinite universe.

You’re never too old to wear a tutu.

You’re also never too old to climb trees. (You will, however, be sore for days afterwards).

I’d rather be strong than skinny.

I’d rather be happy than rich.

I’d rather be immortal than dead.

It’s not important to love the same things your partner does. But it is important to hate the same things.

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The last thing all pets should see before they die is your tear-streaked face. We owe it to them to be there until the very end.

One of the best things you can do for your sanity as a parent is to teach your kids how to swing on the swings all by themselves.

Fruit doesn’t belong on pizza or burgers.

No one likes the person who points out that tomatoes are a fruit.

Spiderman should always be played by an actual teenager.

You will regret not being in the photos.

You can never have too much sunscreen on hand.

Admitting you’re wrong isn’t a weakness.

Take pride in your unread emails. It beats panicking. (1,300 and counting!)

Smile at little kids, have a conversation with a lonely elderly neighbor, invite the mom sitting alone at the playground to have a nip from your flask. We could all use more positive human interaction.

Teach your children to be the kind of people who love the smell of old books.

You don’t have to be good at something to pursue it. If you love it, do it. Take it from an extremely mediocre photographer.

Speaking of things people aren’t good at, I am not good at math. Here’s to hoping this is the 38th thing. Because I am out of useless wisdom to impart. Did I mention cheese yet? Cheese is good.