lessons from the dog park

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Took my second trip to the dog park last weekend. Amazing place that dog park. Made me think the world would be a much easier place to navigate if we were able to judge someone's character simply by sniffing butts.


I'm not kidding. Seriously, even if you're not a dog person, go to a dog park and watch for a while. In less than a minute you'll be able to gauge who you'd want to hang with and who's just not worth your time.


I'll even go so far as to argue that the whole dog park culture would be great to implement during a job interview (or dating) process. You'd really nip a lot of issues in the bud.

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Let's role play. You walk into a job interview with high hopes. You've read great things about the company. Their stock has consistently done well and it seems like an overall nice place to work. Then your potential boss comes in, sits down at the table. Instead of small talk and fumbling in your briefcase for your resume, you walk right over and stick your head in her butt (remember, we're role playing here)... I mean really give it a good sniff... Get in there. If she turns around and snarls at you, teeth glaring, you book it, don't look back. No second chances. This is not a place you want to work. Not for this woman. Not for this bitch (no pun intended).


See how easy that was? I just saved you six months and two trips to Kinkos.

All because you did this...

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"Pardon me, can I have flex hours?"

You walk into the next place. Looks decent. Not necessarily your first choice in jobs but you're not one to turn down an interview. A guy walks in. Not the best-looking boss. A little rough around the edges. But you go in for the sniff. And to your surprise... no growl! In fact, he reciprocates and sniffs yours. Nice guy, huh? You walk around in a circle sniffing each other's butts and the next thing you know you're hosting the company holiday party at your house and sending his kids birthday presents!

Success! You didn't judge a book by its cover. You embraced your inner canine and got the answers you needed in less than thirty seconds. 

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Humans. We're so... what's the word... tentative? Prudent? Guarded? Everything we do has to be so calculated. So planned. We dance around the issues. Waste time trying to figure people out. From spouses to jobs, moms on the playground to people on the bus. When all we really need to do is sniff their butts.


But dogs... they get to the point. No beating around the bush. No dilly-dallying. No judging from the carpool line. I like that. 


Just not exactly sure how to decipher this:

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Must be a second interview.

Speaking of ass (as in kick)... I made some awesome, kick-ass chicken wings the other day for a little football gathering. Made me look like I was the queen of sports food. Which I'm not.


But throw this in your crock pot and see what I mean. I think it's probably a safer bet than smelling your guests' butts, even though you won't really get a true sense of their personalities after. 


Oh well. Can't win 'em all. 

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Kick-Ass Easy Chicken Wings

Ingredients:

  • One package chicken wings (appx. 16)
  • appx. 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • appx. 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 4-5 splashes dry sherry (which isn't dry at all... it comes in a bottle)
  • 2-3 sprinkles ginger
  • 1-2 cloves minced garlic
  • pinch red pepper flakes (optional)


Directions:

  • Mix all ingredients
  • Put wings in crock pot on low
  • Add sauce
  • Cook for 5-8 hours

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FOOD IN BOWLS. IT WORKS, PEOPLE.

Why is it that food always looks more appetizing when it’s displayed in little bowls? Even food that you wouldn’t normally eat. You should try it sometime with your kids. How many times have they come home from school and automatically run to the fridge to grab the carrots in the bag? Yeah, like never. But let’s just say you had those little carrots out in a bowl with a dollop (love that word) of Ranch (love Ranch) in another little bowl? Bet they grab one. Or two. In fact, you can make a whole smorgasbord of bowls with healthy stuff in ’em and see who bites. Of course that means that someone has to eventually clean those little bowls but let’s worry about that later. For now the goal is getting stuff from your fridge into the mouths of those who normally avoid it and then complain that there is no food in the house. Here are some other suggestions for stuff that looks bad in bags but great in bowls:


  • Sugar Snap Peas
  • Almonds
  • Edamame
  • Clementine Slices (if your kids are as lazy as mine and won’t peel them themselves)
  • Whole Wheat Crackers
  • Grapes
  • Safety Pins (just making sure you’re still paying attention)
  • Banana Slices


Writing about bowls makes me think of one of my favorite stores, Fishs Eddy in New York City. It’s jam- packed with mix and match diner dishes all displayed, well, in little bowls. There’s old Steak ‘n Shake plates mixed with IHOP mugs. Mini salt and pepper shakers and towels and little forks that I don’t know what they’re for and just tons of junk that nobody really needs but that’s really fun to sort through because it looks so good displayed in…you guessed it, BOWLS! So next time you’re in NYC check it out. No, I didn’t get paid to write this. I just like this place.

Tonight will be Taco Night for no other reason than we’ll be taking out little bowls and putting everything that I want my kids to eat from my fridge into them. 

TACO NIGHT

INGREDIENTS

  • Ground Chicken, Beef or Turkey
  • Package of low sodium taco seasoning
  • Package of shredded lettuce
  • Package of shredded cheese
  • Package of shredded carrots (yeah, stuff those in there too and they’ll get their vitamin A carotine for the week)
  • One tomato
  • Package of yellow rice
  • Can of black beans
  • Adobo seasoning
  • Taco shells or soft tortillas


DIRECTIONS

  1. Saute ground meat in a little olive oil until no longer pink.
  2. Drain.
  3. Add a splash of water and taco seasoning and heat until covered.
  4. Put everything else in little bowls.
  5. Make rice.
  6. Heat beans with a dash of Adobo seasoning.
  7. Put soft tortillas on paper plate and cover with damp paper towel.
  8. Microwave for a minute and presto! Hot soft tortillas!
  9. Put taco shells in oven for 10 minutes on 250.
  10. Enjoy your dinner with bowls and beg/bribe/threaten someone else to clean them up.

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Corkscrew basil pasta

There comes a day in every parent's life when their babies are no longer babies. When they specifically ask that you don't walk them into their classrooms on the first day of school.


That day was today. And that day stinks.


I should have seen the signs. It started slowly with comments like "You're not really gonna wear that outfit, are you?" and "I don't want to just hang out with you on the weekends; I want to be with my friends!" to my all-time-favorite "Yeah, mom, the Spanx just aren't working with that dress," when I realized my kids don't think I'm cool anymore (and may even be a wee bit smarter than me). That the sheer thought of me walking into a fourth grade classroom with them is so unbearably uncool that I was told to stay out of sight. And now I'm the one left crying alone in the hallway! Is there no justice in this world?


So I took my uncool self and walked out of school with my head held high just like I told them to do when they were still babies and were starting kindergarten. The lump in my throat only turned into full-fledged tears when I was out of sight from anyone who could recognize me and then report their "uncool findings" to my daughters.

My path took me from their new elementary school to the same high school I attended almost 30, 20, 15 years ago. Not much had changed since I was there. Same entrance. Same baseball fields. Same smell of wet pine straw. It's always the smells that get you, isn't it? The smell of fresh school supplies. The smell of an elementary school hallway. But something about that smell of wet pine straw threw me over the edge. I stood there staring at the baseball field, smelling the wet pine straw and crying. Because even though everything looked exactly the same, everything was different. Everything is different.


I'm proud of my girls for they way they've handled all of the changes they have endured over the past year. New schools, new situations, new friends, new homes, new dynamics. They are strong, they are well-adjusted, and they continue to inspire me every day.

So while it may be back to school for them, they've already taught me so much even on day one.

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Last night I told the girls they could have anything they wanted for dinner for back-to-school. Talia picked an old favorite, corkscrew pasta with basil and red wine sauce. And Ryan chose Cotton Candy. And that's exactly what we had.

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Ingredients:

bag of corkscrew pasta
2-3 garlic cloves (diced)
box of grape tomatoes
2-3 splashes olive oil
small chunk of butter
appx 1/2 can chicken broth
3-4 splashes wine (I usually use white but I drank it all so I had to resort to the red but it was still great)
handful of fresh basil (chopped)
S&P
Parmesan cheese
Directions:

Cook pasta according to directions (al dente).
Drain, leaving a cup of starchy water for later.
Meanwhile, saute garlic in some olive oil on medium-low (so it won't burn).
Then turn up the heat to medium, add the tomatoes, broth and wine (let wine burn off a bit) and then turn down again to simmer for appx. 10 minutes.
Add basil at the end of cooking.
Sauce is done when tomatoes burst and it thickens up a bit.
Add sauce and a bit of the starchy water to the pasta in a large pot and toss before serving.

Top with cheese!


Cotton Candy: Unwrap and Enjoy!

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