Archive for the ‘Just For Fun’ Category

Cupcake Wars

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

I’m keeping it light today, folks.  My job has been a bear lately.  GAP’s job has really been a bear lately.  And sometimes (like now) my brain just loses its capacity to do anything worthwhile.  Please, indulge me or forgive me as you find appropriate.

Tis the season of friendly competition.  March Madness just wrapped up and we’ve all spent the past few weeks ribbing each other about unforeseen upsets (“bracket busters” in pool parlance) and whose team was going all the way.  Admittedly, I had less fun with March Madness this year because I picked Pitt to win it all and, well, that didn’t quite turn out.  But I can take heart, not only because my whole pool’s brackets were crappy this year, but because there is a new competition on the horizon: Cupcake Wars!

A bit of background for you…

GAP’s family is competitive.  They are a family of eight.  Six kids, two parents, and split evenly between boys and girls.  Whether it be a friendly game of Bridge or a full season of fantasy football, the competitive streak never fails to come out.  If you didn’t grow up in this kind of family (I didn’t…) it takes a bit of getting used to.  But I have grown to really love it.  There are some competitions where I am a strong contender (Trivial Pursuit), and some where I am not (anything relating to football).  However, since this family is an equal opportunity score keeper, everyone has their moment to shine.

I’ve been a part of GAP’s family for nearly 12 years now and in that time we’ve all grown very close.  Much of that closeness came from shared beach vacations, shared childbirth experiences, shared holidays, and, lately, shared e-mail threads of our favorite Charlie Sheen quotes.  But some of it came from our little competitions.  We boast about our skills and gravitas.  We taunt and trash talk.  And, with the exception of a couple of white elephant style trophies, we only play for bragging rights.  At some point in time we’ve all been victorious and we’ve all been humbled.  There’s something very equalizing about it.

We will be gathering the whole group together over Memorial Day weekend to have portraits taken of the whole gang – all 19 of us.  It will be fun and relaxing and with any luck at all the little kids will cooperate with the photographer.  My mother-in-law couldn’t leave well enough alone, though.  She has instituted our family’s first ever Cupcake Wars, complete with rules and regulations:  There will be two divisions – sweet and savory.  One entry per person.  Submissions will be anonymous.  Last minute finishing touches will be allowed.  Scoring will be based on appearance (25%), creativity (25%), and taste (50%).  It’s going to be intense!

Even though general exhaustion around here has prevented me from relentless recipe testing these past few weeks, I’m really looking forward to it.  Because no matter what kind of showing I make, I am assured of a few things.  1) We will all have stomach aches by the end of it.  2) We will all laugh a lot.  3) The whole thing will be memorable.

I guess what I’m driving at here (at the risk of getting a little saccharine) is that “friendly competition” doesn’t tell the whole story.  More than being a fun diversion, over time, it builds memories and forges bonds.  At some level, at the end of the day, we all win.  So, I may not turn out my best work (my sweet tooth has been on hiatus lately), but I’ll have my game face on nonetheless.

Missing: One Cobra, Found: Some Levity

Friday, April 1st, 2011

It took an escaped Egyptian cobra and the power of Twitter to capture the imagination of this country.  I’m sure that overstates it a bit (maybe even a lot) but there’s something really enchanting about this whole reptilian escapade.

For those who perhaps haven’t been following along at home (hi Granddaddy), last week an Egyptian cobra (about an inch and a half in diameter, 20 inches long, and highly venomous) escaped from her enclosed habitat at the Bronx zoo.  Given the dangerous nature of this particular ex-con, people became highly curious about her whereabouts.  And the whole search took on a much more lighthearted tone when some clever genius created the Twitter account @BronxZoosCobra, documenting her supposed adventures throughout the city.

The best part about this whole thing?  This Twitter feed has more than 200,000 followers.  To put that into context, that’s more followers than all of the state of Texas news organizations’ followers combined.  People ate it up, the very fact of which tells me that we all need some levity.

Some of my favorite tweets:

Gonna listen to some Jazz tonight. You know I love some great flute work. Do they provide it or is it bring your own basket?

Taking the Sex and the City Tour!!! I’m totally a SSSamantha.

On top of the Empire State Building! All the people look like little mice down there. Delicious little mice.

City may not sleep, but I’m ready to. Ooh a chimney! I bet you bragged to your friends about having a working fireplace in NYC. Hi roomie.

We sit here in a world filled with bad news.  The Middle East seems to be crumbling one country at a time.  Our economy is still shaky.  Unions and state governments are at each other’s throats across the Midwest.  And if there’s something fun and harmless that we can all agree upon, it’s that the idea of an escaped cobra going on a Manhattan sightseeing expedition is a hoot.

Yesterday morning the missing cobra was found.  She was coiled up in a dark corner of the reptile house, never having seen the light of day.  And strangely, when I read of her capture I was sad.  As of last night @BronxZoosCobra hadn’t tweeted in more than seven hours, a long time for a snake who’d been updating every couple of hours prior to that.  Her heyday has clearly ended.  Of course I think it’s better not to have a highly dangerous snake on the lam.  But it’s also sad that this thing – this amusement and diversion – is over.  We clearly needed it.

For a blogger I’m not a huge user of social media.  My usage of Facebook and Twitter is cursory at best.  But in moments like this I’m hard pressed to deny their power.  This was a 5:00 news afterthought that turned into a cultural moment because someone with a knack for one-liners opened a Twitter account.

I guess where I’m going with this is, thank you @BronxZoosCobra.  Thanks for seizing an opportunity and creating some fun where there was none.  We need to lighten the mood every now and then.  You were just the Twicket.

Year End Markdowns: All Thoughts One Dollar

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

I’m going offline for a couple of weeks.  It’s time to close the books on 2010 and settle into uninterrupted time with my family.  But before I sign off, I want to offer one last Ten Dollar Thought for the year.  This blog will turn one while I’m away, and before I hit the ground running in 2011 I want to say how much this year of writing and conversing with each of you has meant to me.  I believe I am a better person because of Ten Dollar Thoughts and because of your contributions to it.  Thank you for reading, for thinking with me, for challenging me, for supporting me, and for being a part of this journey.  With that, here are the exquisitely pedestrian thoughts I plan to explore over the next couple of weeks. 

How much cream can you put into oyster stew before it gets really shameful?

Will I be able to finish the book I’m reading before the end of the year, or am I giving up?

Homemade marshmallows are so much tastier than store-bought, but kind of a hassle to make.

For the first time in my life, I don’t think I’ve listened to enough Christmas music this year.

I can’t wait to meet my new niece in April.

What does a roasted chestnut actually taste like?

I wonder if Katie Couric will go back to the Today Show next year.

I’m so happy that today is my last day of work this week.

I miss my sisters-in-law.

Maybe I should just pony up and make the stupid marshmallows.

Oh, and a coffee cake too!

I haven’t watched Elf or Christmas Vacation yet this year and I’m almost sure that’s some kind of crime.

Things that solve most problems include: soft sheets, pasta carbonara, and a hug from IEP.

I hope 2011 is as terrific as 2010 has been.

Finding the Funny

Monday, November 8th, 2010

For the most part I have found that the funniest parenting stories come from the children; anecdotes in the Art Linkletter vein of kids’ quirky-but-accurate observations of the world.  However, from time to time you come across a parent whose approach to the imperfect art of raising children is so brilliantly injected with humor that you can’t help but laugh at their genuine appreciation for the sometimes-absurd nature of this journey.  And so it is that today I bring you the story of our friend J, and the demise of Milo McSpikerton.

I do not know what originally led to the adoption of Milo McSpikerton, but by some series of events (which I have no choice but to assume is similarly amusing) our friend J and his wife agreed to the acquisition of a hedgehog for their two young boys.  But agree they did, and for the next two years Milo lived happily in a cage in their family room.  Fresh cedar shavings, a spouted water bottle, and two boys who had been taught to be gentle with the naturally fearful creature kept young Milo well provided for and content.

Then, a few weeks ago J and his wife noticed that Milo was unusually still.  Really still.  That kind of still.  Poor Milo was gone.  The cause of death is still unknown.  And Milo McSpikerton was summarily laid to rest in a field behind the family home.  J created a tongue-in-cheek memorial PowerPoint presentation that acknowledged the passing of the family hedgehog, which commemorated the life cut tragically short. 

I’d not thought much about Milo since the news of his passing first came to me.  Then on Saturday as we drove home from the gym GAP told me that Milo had sent the boys a letter.

“From beyond the grave?” I asked incredulously.  “Isn’t that a little spooky for kids so young?”  (J’s boys are about three and six.)

“Oh, they don’t know he’s beyond the grave,” GAP responded.

“Then what do they think happened to him?” I asked back.

“J told the boys that Milo’s parents were getting up there in age and had asked their son to come home and help out around the house a little bit.”

“You’re kidding.”

“No.  Originally Milo was just going to be gone a few weeks, but apparently his mom’s hip is giving her a lot of trouble and she needs him to move back in permanently.”

“Hedgehogs have hip problems later in life, do they?”

“Apprently.  So Milo sent the boys a letter explaining that his stay had to be extended indefinitely, but that he had found someone else to keep them company while he’s away.”

“Another hedgehog?”

“No, they got a dog.  It’s a Morkipoo.”  (Which I can only assume is a Maltese/Yorkie/Poodle cross.)  “Not much bigger than a hedgehog, actually.  The boys named him Hiccup.”

Yes.  Hiccup.  I couldn’t make this stuff up.

The End.

And that, my friends, is the story of how Milo McSpikerton went home to help his parents around the house, how his stay was extended due to his mother’s ailing hip, and how Hiccup the Morkipoo was sent as a replacement. 

The whole affair made me laugh hard.  I know that on the parenting path that stretches out in front of me there will be hamsters and lizards and critters of all stripes, fish funerals, and difficult conversations about where we go when we die and where babies come from.  But amidst all of our earnest attempts not to screw up our kids with too much truth, as parents we are blessed with the liberty to insert a few lies here and there.  And I have a real appreciation for J’s ability to find the opportunities to amuse himself (and the rest of us) in the process.  If raising children requires anything it requires a sense of humor.  We must find the funny in ourselves as much as we find it in our kids.  Otherwise a dead hedgehog is just a dead hedgehog, and that’s no fun for anybody.

A Living Legend

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

It’s not often that I have the privilege of watching someone do the thing they were clearly born to do. While we all have our strengths and weaknesses, and I always advocate for trying new things and stretching our boundaries, there is something about watching a person so plainly in his element that just brings you joy. This happened to me on Wednesday night when I got to watch Chuck Berry play rock ‘n roll.

He is, by nearly all estimations, the inventor of rock ‘n roll. He was the first to cross elements of country music with the blues and refine them into what became rock ‘n roll. And, fittingly, he was the first inductee into the Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame. Berry still plays one night a month at a bar a few miles from my house. GAP and I have been saying to each other for six or seven years: We really need to go see him while we still can. So this week, we did.

He is old now, having turned 84 on Monday. Given this, I expected to see a relic of a man seated in the center of the stage resting comfortably on his well-earned laurels, which would have been just fine. Before he came on a friend and I wondered aloud whether at 84 years old he would still get fired up to perform, or if these appearances are merely another in an interminably long string of days at the office. He answered our foolish question immediately.

He wore a red sequined shirt and a jaunty white cap. He stood the entire time. He danced a bit. He did the duck walk, for crying out loud! And he sang, and sang, and sang. The man has still got it! His eyes smiled the entire time. He beamed with pride as his son and daughter joined him onstage. (Talent did not skip a generation in this family.) And he wore that shirt, that hat, and several guitars as only a true rock star could.

Some people are blessed with a singular purpose in life. And sometimes we get to watch those people do that thing they were meant to do. I’ve watched Tiger Woods save par. I’ve watched Christopher Parkening play the guitar. I’ve watched Albert Pujols hit a home run. And now I’ve watched Chuck Berry play rock ‘n roll. These moments, when they come, crystallize in my mind and I know I’ll be able to recall them for the rest of my life. Talent like this has a way of packaging itself with a bow on top, so that you never lose sight of what a gift it truly is.

Let Me Tell You A Little Bit About Myself

Friday, September 17th, 2010

When I started this blog my intention was to explore ideas, to force myself to think about things more critically, and to challenge myself to be more observant of the world around me.  In pursuing that goal I have written a great deal about my response to various topics and experiences, but not very much about myself as a person. 

So, because today is my birthday, I thought it an opportune moment to give you a glimpse into some other, less cerebral, aspects of me.  I love reading these kinds of lists about other people, so I hope you will find this list interesting, and not utterly self-absorbed.  If you find it utterly self-absorbed please feel free to stop reading now and come back on Monday.  I take no offense. 

  1. A lifetime reader of fiction, I have dedicated this entire year (with one exception) to reading nonfiction.
  2. I will devote next year to reading literary classics that I’ve never read before.
  3. From the time I graduated college until I got married I lived alone.  I loved it.  I wouldn’t trade my family for anything, but there are days when I truly miss the peace of living alone.
  4. During my pregnancy I loved not knowing whether IEP was a boy or girl, but I get secretly annoyed when other people don’t find out. 
  5. I love just about anything written by Aaron Sorkin.
  6. My current favorite comfort food meal is a thick slice of rustic Italian bread toasted and topped with a big ladle-full of tomato sauce and a poached egg.  Just heaven.
  7. Every Christmas I buy a tin of Williams-Sonoma’s Peppermint Bark and never finish it.
  8. Sundays are my best days.  I start the day with a 4.5 mile run.  Then we go to church.  Then I volunteer at the hospital for three hours.  Then IEP and I go run errands and get ready for the week.  By the end of the day I feel like I’m the best possible version of myself. 
  9. My favorite authors are Barbara Kingsolver, John Steinbeck, and Malcolm Gladwell. 
  10. When I was 26 I traveled to China for business and was taken out for Peking Duck.  I was served an entire dish of duck tongues (thankfully flavored heavily with garlic) and had to eat them lest I insult my host.  They were chewy and slippery and awful, just as you’d expect duck tongues to be.
  11. Growing up I always thought I wanted to have two kids, but after marrying my husband (oldest of six) I’ve come to also want a large(ish) family. 
  12. My favorite book is Gone with the Wind.  Despite what people may think, it was not the genesis of chick lit.  It is a massive American saga that just happens to have a female protagonist.  I am a bit militant about this point, but don’t talk about it often because very few of my contemporaries have actually read it I just end up sounding like a shrew. 
  13. During the 13 months that I nursed IEP I out-ate my husband every single day.  When I finally weaned IEP I was sad not to nurse anymore, but mostly sad not to be able to eat 3,000 calories a day. 
  14. I was president of my sorority in college.  It was not a particularly good experience and given the option to do it again I would decline it.
  15. If I could make any physical changes to myself I would make my hair thicker and my left foot the same size as my right foot.  (The left is slightly larger.)
  16. I am freakishly ticklish.
  17. I dream of living in New York, but fear that if/when that ever happens it won’t live up to my expectations.
  18. I deplore condescension and false humility.
  19. My dogs shed constantly.  I have to sweep my house three or four times a week.
  20. I sometimes worry that I come across as too serious on this blog.
  21. I love going to movies alone.  Except that I have to be very strategic about soda consumption because you can’t leave your purse/coat on your seat if you need to go to the bathroom. 
  22. I try to exercise four days a week.  I am successful about 75% of the time. 
  23. In 2006 GAP and I went to Italy for two weeks.  It was the best vacation either of us has ever taken. 
  24. I don’t bite my nails but I do bite my cuticles.  I’ve tried to stop since junior high.  I have failed every time.
  25. You could not begin to count the freckles on my face.  There must be hundreds.  I never outgrew them.  I actually hardly even notice them, but I know I’d be heartbroken if they ever faded away.
  26. I hate the way Terry Gross on NPR says, “Fresh Air” as though the title of her show were divinely inspired.  But I love the show. 
  27. I have iPhone envy.  My company-issued cell phone is a BlackBerry with the text messaging functionality disabled.  I hate it.  I could get my own personal iPhone, but I’m convinced that carrying two phones would be more annoying than carrying one crappy phone.  So I just live with the BlackBerry and try to curb my complaining. 
  28. I love playing the game with people where they have to identify the five books and five movies they would take to a desert island.  I think you can actually learn quite a bit about people that way.
  29. If I could have any superpower it would be time travel.  I wish I could hopscotch around different eras and see what life was like in those times.  (Perhaps strangely, I’m only curious about the past.  I have no interest in glimpsing the future.)
  30. I don’t drink beer.  I just don’t like the way it tastes.  Spicy, big-bodied red wines, on the other hand…
  31. In the world of fast food I think that Burger King has the best burgers, McDonald’s has the best fries, and Wendy’s has the best shakes.  Once during maternity leave I was craving junk food and attempted to create the perfect fast food meal by driving to an intersection that had all three restaurants.  I bought the respective “best” item from each place and drove home to eat them all together.  It did not live up to my expectations, but now I never have to go to that trouble again because I know it’s not really worth it. 
  32. I love our nanny more than I ever dreamed I could.  She has become an integral part of our family and I’m so thankful to have her helping raise our son. 
  33. Is the number of years old I am today.

Crazy Genius

Monday, August 16th, 2010

In honor of Eat, Pray, Love having come out this past weekend, and because this kind of content is right up the alley of those of us who have a passion for writing, today I am offering up Liz Gilbert’s TED talk from 2009.  I first saw it sometime last year, but it sprang to mind again in the wake of all the movie publicity. 

Gilbert speaks so eloquently herself that I won’t elaborate further (besides, my grey matter is still a bit mushy from all the discussion on Friday) except to say that whatever your creative process is, embrace it.  It is no weirder than any of the other artists’ processes that she cites.  Nor is it more banal than Gilbert’s own work-a-day process.  It is yours, so own it and use it. 

PS - Sorry I wasn’t able to embed the video.  Apparently I don’t have the correct WordPress plugin.  Will have to look into that.  You should be able to reach the video from the link above without any trouble.

The Little Things: The Nightgown

Friday, August 6th, 2010

So far this week I’ve regaled you with my affections for scalloped tomatoes (yes, I made my fourth batch in two weeks on Wednesday night) and TV reruns.  I’ve also discovered that these two things are made even better when enjoyed at the same time – you really should try it.  Perhaps tonight while GAP is out at a business dinner I will really gild the lily and add this third component to the mix for a moment of perfect Gale bliss.

The nightgown.  I hadn’t worn one since I was at least eight years old.  In my mind they were either stuffy, puritan affairs or tiny and tawdry.  For years, unaware that there was any kind of middle ground, I opted for two-piece pajamas.  Some of them were darling matched sets.  But many others were shameful combinations of old t-shirts and boxer shorts.  Not so pretty.

Further, as a matter of practicality, I frequently got into fights with my pajama bottoms in the middle of the night.  I would roll.  They would twist.  I would right them.  They would twist again.  It was an ongoing, maddening battle that I resented for interrupting my precious REM cycles (or something, I really don’t know anything about sleep biology).    

So, recently I decided it was time for a bit of overhaul in the sleepwear department.  Time to bring the words beauty sleep to life.  Time to end the day wearing something that would see me through to morning without incident. 

Enter: the nightgown.  (Actually, nightgowns. Plural.)

They are flirty and feminine without being racy or raunchy.  Sweet but not twee.  Delicate but not dainty.  They make me feel like a lady, which is a lovely way to feel, especially at the end of a long day.  They make me brush my hair one last time before getting into bed.  I’ve even reintroduced two long-forsaken skincare steps (toner and eye cream) back into my nightly toilette. 

And nightgowns are comfortable – oh so comfortable.  They don’t spiral around me and wake me up.  The cotton is soft and breezy.  They are cool on warm summer nights.  Perhaps it is psychosomatic, but I sleep so much better in nightgowns than pajamas.  If sleep like this means mental trickery, sign me up.  I’m game.   

A good night’s sleep really isn’t such a little thing.  It should be.  It should be easy.  Sleep is delicious, and healthy, and free.  We should be tired when we go to bed and rested when we wake in the morning.  Sleep should be the easiest decision we make all day, yet so many of us get so little of it. 

Nightgowns, like all of the little things I’ve written about this week, add up to something bigger.  A perfect simple supper is comforting and nourishing and whole.  Our favorite reruns on television bring a combination of pleasant surprise and predictable calm.  And a nightgown helps us log the eight or nine hours of uninterrupted sleep that help us feel (if not actually become) really on top of things.

These little things are small on their own.  But they extrapolate out to much greater levels of meaning.  This is why the idea of “the little things” is such a cliché.  There is truth in it that we can’t afford to overlook.

PS – As I contemplated my posts this week there were several other little things that I considered: good pens, text messaging, going to movies alone,, and countless others.  Our lives are full of little things that we neglect to consider very often.

The Little Things: Reruns

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

I’m dedicating this week’s posts to some of life’s simplest pleasures.  Ten Dollar Thoughts are great, but sometimes it’s nice to scale back.  For Monday’s installment, click here.

I realize I dealt them a glancing blow last Friday, but as I began thinking about my favorite simple pleasures I realized that TV reruns actually make the cut. 

Unless you’re watching Entourage or Mad Men, just about all television shows are in reruns right now.  Most people lament this period of TV drought, and eagerly await the start of the new season late next month.  But I secretly love reruns.  Why?  I’m so glad you asked.

I love the pleasant surprise of a great rerun.  You turn on your TV unsure of whether or not there will be anything decent to watch.  You could easily be condemned to bad TV movies or some Marie Osmond infomercial.  But instead you find the episode of Friends where Monica and Rachel gamble (and lose) their apartment; or the episode of The West Wing where Sam and Toby have to bail a Supreme Court nominee out of jail; or the episode of Seinfeld with the low water pressure.  Moments like these are akin to bumping into your best friend from college whom you adore, but haven’t seen in ages.  You want nothing more than to settle in and hear all about what she’s been up to.

I also love the familiar terrain of a rerun.  You’ve been there before and you know what’s going to happen.  You know when the best scene is coming up and whether or not you should wait to go to the bathroom.  Not only that, but the anticipation of knowing what comes next can almost make the moment sweeter.  You know that Kramer is going to fly through the door wearing, “nothing but a thin layer of gabardine,” and you get your laugh all ready to go because you’re going to need it. 

There’s something casual about old shows.  You probably didn’t plan to watch them.  You’re probably doing something else at the same time.  They don’t command your full attention, but they may make paying bills, peeling carrots, or brushing dogs a little more entertaining.  Much like hearing your favorite song on the radio, you never know when you’ll come across one, but you always know it will be a welcome addition to your day.

The Little Things: The Perfect Meal

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

On Friday I posted a little list of things we can do (actually do) to improve ourselves and the world around us.  It felt good to dedicate a post to small tangible things, after focusing for more than six months on abstract and sometimes complicated thoughts.  Over the weekend I thought (ironic, I realize) more about some of the small and simple things in life and this week I’m dedicating my posts to the topic of little things that make a big difference. 

We didn’t have plans for Friday night.  It had been a long and draining week for me and I wasn’t really up for cooking dinner.  GAP and I had the pizza vs. leftovers debate and opted for leftovers.  This was really a decision that we backed into; he’d eaten a big lunch and wasn’t very hungry and I wasn’t especially in the mood for pizza.  It turned out to be the best accidental decision of my week. 

Recently my favorite food blogger (Deb at Smitten Kitchen) posted this recipe for scalloped tomatoes.  It’s the kind of dish I would have reluctantly choked down at my mother’s insistence as a child.  But as an adult it is some kind of magic to me.  The way the tomatoes break down in the pan.  The way they sweeten and caramelize with heat.  The way the crusty bread soaks up their juices and becomes something completely new.  And the way the whole affair becomes the ideal platform for a poached egg, as Deb suggests.    

Lately I’ve been making about a batch of this delicious mess each week.  I portion it out into plastic containers and take it to work for lunch.  Or, as was the case on Friday, I spoon it into a bowl and curl up on the couch with it.  It is not pretty, but for me it is perfect.  In this world of garnishes and flair and finishing touches (both culinary and otherwise) I love this meal which doesn’t try to be anything it’s not.  It doesn’t call for a sprig of fresh basil on each serving.  Nor does it request to be baked in individual dishes for a lovelier presentation (transferring giant scoops from baking dish to plate or bowl does nothing for the aesthetics of this dish).  It is cheap and easy to make – not the kind of thing you’d serve to company, to be sure.  If it were served to you in a restaurant you might send it back on looks alone.  But when the fork hits your mouth you sort of hunker down in your seat and hunch protectively over your food.

Simply put, this dish makes me happy.  Really, really happy.  And on Friday night I actually identified with it in some way.  I sat at home when many adults were out.  My makeup was smudged and my energy flagged.  I felt crumpled and bruised.  Yet when I looked down at my simple supper I was comforted.  Perhaps this is a big metaphor to ask of a leftover bowl of scalloped tomatoes.  But I liked knowing that something so utterly lacking in pretense could pack such a delicious punch.  I will not start this week with smudged makeup or mussed up hair.  Nevertheless, it’s comforting to think that even if I did that might still be okay.