I love you so much I went to WalMart

This is my daughter’s ninth summer attending resident Girl Scout camp. She’s been handling preparing and packing for the last few years.

But this year, her drama almost made me lose my mind.

Because that’s what teen girls do, right?

Our recent road trip should have made this simple. She needed to take clothes out of one suitcase, launder them and repack in a bigger suitcase.

Except she just didn’t do it.

Until Thursday. I ordered her makeshift riding boots on Tuesday with two-day shipping, except the web site acted up and my husband had to do it over from a different computer and forgot the 2-day shipping.

Luckily, they arrived Friday evening.

Drop off at Camp Wood Haven is Sunday, 1-4. Saturday she makes a list of things she needs, including the shampoo she just lost after our road trip, a new water bottle despite the fact that we have a million, and a swimsuit because suddenly the two bikinis I bought her a few weeks ago aren’t good enough.

But we did it. And got her the cutest black one piece with scalloped edges.

Then this morning her shoelaces broke and while she had compiled a list of addresses to send mail, she didn’t have stamps.

So I went to Payless and got shoelaces AND spare shoes. Stopped at the grandparents because old people always have stamps.

Killing it.

And we decided to go to IHOP since it was a highlight of our road trip. The IHOP was packed so full it would have failed a fire inspection.

So we ended up at Arby’s. My sandwich didn’t agree with me but darn do I love their cookies.

We arrive at camp. It’s 100 degrees. Really, it is. They ask her to grab her swimsuit for her swim test. She forgot it.

“How?” I ask. “We bought it yesterday?!?!”

They ask her if she has a sports bra and gym shorts. Nope. She only wears jean shorts.

Now I should have made her wear left behind lost and found clothes. But she is my baby and she looked so sad.

So instead of accompanying her to her unit, I went to WalMart 30 minutes away.

I hate WalMart. But through the farms and Mennonite country, my husband and I went to WalMart.

I found this cute blue suit. Blue is her favorite color.

I was going to ask someone at the customer service desk to staple a note on it so the camp can deliver it.

It was too busy.

I saw these brown paper sacks at the cafe. I can write on those. Smile.

I got to the car and realized I forgot my iPhone X. I have NEVER done that before. Luckily the cashier noticed.

Phone retrieved and swimsuit delivered.

We won’t know until Friday if the child liked it.

Left for camp: about 11:45

Arrive at IHOP after grandparents: 12:50

Arrive at camp: about 2:20

Left camp: 2:50

Returned to camp from WalMart: 4:05

A PJ Monday

So, I’m still receiving comments about how fun P.J. is. I have to admit, I didn’t expect him to be so popular.

I had a rough start to today. Let’s just say there wasn’t enough caffeine and sugar in my system to compensate for my Black Friday weekend in retail. Number seven. When I first accepted a job working part-time, I never thought I would stay this long. I wanted something to allow me flexibility and to leave my stress at the time clock. Both are usually true.

P.J. and I headed to West Chester early this morning and spent the day doing homework in my office between helping students as a history department graduate assistant.

Before too long P.J. had to use the facilities and you can imagine his confusion when I had to explain to him why the ladies’ room had urinals. You see, P.J., this building used to be a dormitory and it once housed male students.

We finished our work and had to decide what the next leg of our day would bring. After much debate, we opted for coffee. The nice man at Dunkin Donuts sold us TWO peppermint crunch doughnuts for a dollar. That meant we didn’t have to share! P.J. couldn’t have been more thrilled because he knows I am a bit of a glutton.

But I did have to be in the adult in the room and point out to P.J. that we needed “real food” and not merely sugar. I have a long night ahead and the sugar/caffeine roller coaster would do me more harm than good. We walked outside and right next to the Dunkin Donuts there was a natural food store (Great Pumpkin Market). That sounded great as P.J. and I have eaten more than our fair share of junk over the holiday weekend.

They had some raw honey at very reasonable prices so I picked that up and I discovered one of the “power sandwiches” I would eat occasionally during my vegetarian days.

As I walked toward the front of the store, I found a discount section and there was a power sandwich AND some fake turkey salad.

The clerk turned over the discount items and discovered they were out of date so she gave them to me for free! And since a bear is a scavenger P.J. didn’t mind at all.

Like good children we ate our dinner first and then had a doughnut.

The Adventures of PJ the Bear

A good friend recently gave me a little stuffed bear, a Corduroy bear. It’s a stressful time of year for me. The end of the semester. The holiday seasoning working retail. Family obligations. So when I received this bear, I got a little silly. I named him PJ and started taking photos of him. To my surprise, a lot of my friends started to look for his adventures.

My one friend says it’s because PJ is fun and non-political.

First thing PJ and I did was to go grocery shopping.

Then we came home and PJ took a nap.


When I went up to wake him, I discovered a very naughty bear.

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For more on his adventures, see his photo page:

https://angelackerman.com/photography/personal-photography/adventures-of-pj-the-bear/

 

Monday brings Crying Clouds to Moscow

Upon waking, thankfully after a good night’s sleep as the second night is usually when jet lag holds M and I hostage. My daughter slept through the night even though she’s never experiences the rigors of international travel before.

The breakfast at the restaurant was full so the maitre d’ sent us to the VIP lounge on the sixth floor. It gave us a wonderful view of the neighborhood below us. I hadn’t brought my phone so no photos. Sad face.

I had a taste of the pancakes and cheese cake pancake things, a couple broiled sausages, porridge, an aloe vera mango drink, two cappucinos and a bottle of water. For dessert, I had a chocolate muffin with these chocolate crispy balls on top.

Daughter says breakfast had a few quirks. She ate her weight in sausages and bacon, had a couple potato wedges and a little danish. I gave her a watermelon yogurt drink and suggested she try the caviar, but she did not. She didn’t like any of the pancakes or similar items.

We headed into the streets, a downpour out there. We walked down to Red Square but St. Basil’s doesn’t open until one.

We ended up taking a walk and visiting the RYM (I’m not taking the time to use the cyrillic alphabet) shopping mall. That basically became a voyage of escalators and stairs. That’s what the child wanted to do. I gave her 500 rubles spending money.

Throughout the mall, the displays featured a tribute to Russian athletes, of the current and Soviet Union days.

Stopped in the hotel room to dry out. Off to more adventures soon.

 

 

 

Passport Panic

Normally before vacation, I pack and unpack. I rehearse exotic languages. I google and read books. 

Not this time.

This time my 12-year-old daughter and I, with my traveling companion, will head to Paris for the day Saturday and then Russia for a week.

Today we had a lil “come to Jesus” meeting about her room. And she was told to clean it before we started packing. My plan was to get her packed (after seven years of summer camp, she got this) and take her for a one mile or so walk around the neighborhood as training for navigating airports and subway stations.

She organized her bags like a trooper. And then I asked her to pull our travel paperwork. Money, passports, notarized documents from her father saying she could travel with me, vaccination records…

“Mommy, your passport isn’t here.”

What?!?!

We checked my purse, the car, ripped the drawers out of furniture. I checked under the bed. I checked lunch boxes. 

I had it out to use it as identification when I needed fingerprints last week, for my position as a graduate assistant at West Chester University. I called the fingerprint office.

After an hour of ransacking my house, my friend reminds me that we stopped at the grocery store 15 miles from my house so she could buy sesame oil.

I call them. A nice young man named Jeff tells me they have a passport and he thinks it’s mine. 

I drive out.

It is.

Birthday Breakfast for the Imaginary

In my free time, I write fiction. My husband says it makes me an easier person with whom to live.

My writing focuses on a Parisian high fashion house inclined to supernatural events. The creative director is Étienne d’Amille and he’s been in my life for decades.

So, he’s my best ever imaginary friend.

He was born during the interwar era in France– March 14, 1959. Every year I try to mark his birthday in some way. When he turned 50, I took a group of my friends (the ones who “knew” him, i.e. read about him) out for dinner and margaritas.

Many of my celebrations are quiet meals at home, where we often discuss what we’d get him for a present or what he might be doing now. 

This year, I made steak au poivre.

For breakfast.

A day late.



I had intended a lovely dinner, perhaps even by candlelight, for this charming imaginary Frenchman whose memories I confuse as legitimately my own. Then I agreed to work for a colleague in the evening and my mom visited taking my daughter away. (She would have been extremely disappointed if we ate the steaks without her.) To further complicate matters, my husband and I used the early afternoon for other activities (or more accurately, one adult activity) that I’m sure Étienne would have also enjoyed.

This particular version of steak au poivre has its own “comedy of errors” moments but let me say, it might have been my best ever. After college, I became a vegetarian. This lasted eight years primarily for two reasons: 1. I don’t approve of modern factory farming and 2. I hate touching meat. Étienne, though, as a Frenchman and a divorcé, likes to cook so I got over my discomfort of dealing with meat “for him.”

Étienne’s Belated Steak Au Poivre

  • 4 small chuck tender steaks, angus beef (I got mine on markdown at Target)
  • black peppercorns
  • Himalayan pink salt
  • half a stick of butter, cut into four equal pieces of on tablespoon each
  • garlic powder (should be shallots but I didn’t have them. I often substitute fresh chives but didn’t have them either)
  • 1/2 cup brandy (I’m a liar. I didn’t have brandy. I had ginger brandy and spices rum, so I mixed them. It worked.)
  •  3/4 cup heavy cream (I’m lying again. I didn’t have cream, so I used half and half)

The process 

(I put photos on Instagram: angelackerman.)

With a heavy-bottomed skillet (mine, of course, is Le Creuset), smash peppercorns. I couldn’t find my grinder, which had my peppercorns in it. I did find a small container of peppercorns and salt that had exploded from the grinder at some point.

Next, pat steaks dry and smash them with a skillet too. Cooking can be great as a form of anger management. I bet Thug Kitchen would agree.

Sprinkle both sides of the steaks with salt and press the peppercorns into the meat. Cook them to desired doneness and place in a warm oven.

Now, the cream sauce.

Take half the butter and cook your shallots or chives or whatever. I added about two teaspoons garlic powder. When it’s appropriately incorporated pour in the alcohol. When that starts to bubble, add the cream and slowly bring it to a boil. Let it slowly thicken, then add remaining butter. When it melts and blends into the sauce and you just can’t take it anymore, smother those steaks and eat!



Fitness, Fitbits and Coconut Water

Cross-posted from my food blog: Angel Food Cooking http://bit.ly/1kOiLUT

My food blog typically shares recipes, culinary experiments and food musings.

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I have not been indulging in much cooking lately because I have been eating boring items as I bring my weight and general health back into line.

Salad, fresh fruit, lots of water and no more sweets have been the norm. And it’s worked. I’ve shed between ten and fifteen pounds. Now my goal shifts to gaining muscle, strength, endurance and flexibility. I have health issues and I’m not getting younger.

So, I started walking, biking, doing 20-minute yoga routines, stretching and doing my physical therapy routines, lifting weights and punching the bag in my garage… Something… Every day.

Having a child helps this. When you say, “What are we going to do today?” you get ideas & someone to hold you accountable.

I use myfitnesspal to track my calories, mapmyfitness for cute little maps of distance activities, talabata lite to time intervals, freepedometer to track steps during housework & my job and I have a weight lifting one too. But I thought this was getting neurotic of me.

So I made myfitnesspal my “homebase,” linked my mapmyfitness and bought a fitbit flex. Yup. A fitbit.

After that crazy breakfast and sending my daughter to her grandparents, I suited up with my laptop and my wallet for a morning walk. I planned on stopping at the corner market for sparkling mineral water as a bribe for myself and at the library. I had to head to the library to sync my fitbit as I don’t have internet at home and my iPhone 4 is a dinosaur with no ‘low energy Bluetooth’ capabilities.

Coconut water starts here…

I headed to the corner store and they didn’t have sparkling water as the neighborhood is more Hispanic than European. I tried coconut water, as coconut water has calcium just like mineral water.

My friend Gayle has a fitness challenge where she pushes herself to try new things, I may start a food challenge…

I gagged after the first three sips. Lightly syrupy yet water with chunks of coconut and sweet yet not… Weird. But I kept walking and got thirsty. Tried another sip. Not appealing but not bad.

I continued this every five minutes for a half an hour.

Verdict: weirdly refreshing and staved off dehydration. Still don’t like the chunks. Spit them out. Would certainly do it again for something different and not fake like sports drinks. Cannot chug it.

Would be delicious as a smoothie base… Or with pineapple juice and light rum…