Sister Time

The scariest sentence in the world to me is, “Don’t forget to bring your swimsuit.”

It’s quickly followed by, “I have a swimsuit you can borrow.”

Both of these are often delivered by a sunny, cheery, beachy person inviting me somewhere with the promise and positivity of sunshine and casual  human laidbackness.

The only time it doesn’t send a shiver up my spine is when my older sister says it. Because if you’re a sister, you share a hell of a lot with her, and since she is older, I’m simply continuing in a long line of little sisterness where I just do what she says, as I have always done, and always will do. Forever.

She quickly threw it at me before I had time to think too much about it. It was a well-worn, sporty, high-cut, racerback, with aqua trim, covered with an active, snakeskin motif and a logo that suggests you have energy and were involved in athletics at one point in your life.

I have no idea where it came from but I wore it.

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We sat in the hot tub and the suit stopped being important. The bubbles and jets bounced me around and I stopped noticing how tight it was, that it was too short in the torso, and that I wasn’t quite “prepared” to wear a swimsuit if you know what I mean.

It was quiet for awhile and then my sister said, “There’s a mini oil cooker in the kitchen.” She wasn’t thinking about how bright the stars are in the mountains but apparently, she had a plan.

Hush puppies.

Only my sister knows how much I love hush puppies. (I love them mostly because they’re the cutest named food in the world but I also think they’re delicious.) I’m lucky enough to have a sister make them for me and when there’s a convenient mini oil cooker, there’s a good chance they’ll appear.

She magically whipped them together and gave me the job of making sure they came out in perfect crispy time. We dunked them in ketchup to cool them off so we could eat them right away.

I ate as many of them as I could and I did it in my borrowed swimsuit.


Je Suis Yvonne

When it gets hot in the summer and I get cranky, my husband will invariably ask me, “Is it time to become Yvonne?”

Yvonne is a force to behold and she isn’t exactly what you think of when people talk about how “all French women are chic.” Yvonne is a 75 year old French woman from the Loire Valley who lives in small country house without air conditioning and doesn’t take shit from anyone. She scowls at children and judges your garden. But most of all, she wears an enormous light brown, raw linen dress with lace trim with her name hand embroidered in red at the neckline.

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Yvonne has worn this dress for 10 or 50 years. It’s hard to tell. It miraculously hides stains and it’s so big, you can’t sweat on it. It’s kept at the bottom of a musty trunk in the colder months. It’s not special either! She gets them at the Puces de Vanves for less than 20 euros.

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Yvonne likes to drink French martinis (which would be redundant if we really were in France). It is one part Lillet and 2 parts orange vodka (ideally Grey Goose but Yvonne is a little cheap) and garnished with a frozen orange slice. It’s cold and refreshing.

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She wears matching Chinese slippers from the dollar store around the corner and fails to see the humor in that.

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So on this French Independence Day, raise a glass in solidarity and channel the no bullshit, had enough, no-nonsense, ruggedness of Yvonne.

Vive la résistance!

The heat will just add another layer of feistiness.

Things to Do in Long Eaton When You’re Dead

Life brought me to the East Midlands in the U.K. last week. Even the locals asked why I was there and told me it wasn’t “the place to be.” I still learned about some stuff though. Foremost, “brown sauce” which was offered to me every morning with my toast, eggs, and sausage. It’s really yummy!

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It’s like barbecue sauce but since they present it with a British accent and in a ramekin, it feels fancier. “HP” stands for the “House of Parliament.” Imagine having a sauce called “House of Representatives” and what the food scientists would make it taste like?
This is “lace country” but it’s not quite the booming business it once was. I spent the day in Nottingham and found a small booth in a mall called the Victoria Centre. The shop lady had a faraway look in her eyes when she said they were the only shop left. Most of what she sold was stiff, polyester blinds or souvenir pictorial lace panels with scenes from Robin Hood. I’m classy so I bought the only 100% cotton tablecloth she had that she said was made on the same loom as the Cluny lace from the Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding dress. (One step closer to royalty!) She also threw in a free doily that I know my husband will appreciate.

My Dad’s Statement Pieces

Here is my dad’s hulking watch. I don’t think I ever saw him not wear it and even today it’s really weird to not see it on a wrist: his wrist. I was always amazed by all the extra information on it that I assumed only he could figure out. He also seemed to know how to set every watch that ever existed and what battery they used and how often it needed to be wound. I wonder what was happening in his life when it stopped on Tuesday, the 1st of some month of some year. He was probably yelling at a golf ball somewhere.

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My dad liked to make popcorn. And when he made it, he made it in this ridiculous thing:


The “Stir Crazy Popcorn Popper” was a sensation in its day. Pour in the oil, throw in the kernels, watch the arms “stir” them clockwise over the skillet, and when the dome is filled with piping hot popcorn, you flip the whole thing upside-down so the dome becomes your feasting vessel. Did I mention that you can put a few pats of butter in the lid so that it lightly rains down upon the popcorn as it pops? Genius!

Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers out there. Go watch Caddyshack and have some ridiculous popcorn.

Two things

Two things. That’s all I’ll do here.

This is my grandma’s recipe for biscuits. It’s a no frills recipe that uses shortening and a biscuit cutter that hung by the oven and that was rarely cleaned. She had 5 kids so eat your biscuits and be quiet. Try ’em!

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This is one of her aprons. There are a bunch of stains on it that are for sure from biscuits. It’s a homemade apron that says “Don’t Put All Your Eggs In One Basket” on the bib.

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She also knew how to kill a chicken.