How to Eat a Spam Sandwich

The year is 1953. Your husband is out at the bar. Again. The house is clean. You’re hungry, but the pantry is empty.

Clip on your best earrings because you love a good piece of jewelry, even of the costume variety. Apply some red lipstick. Spritz some floral perfume. Slip into your trench coat and pearl-dotted gloves. 

It may only be Toledo, and it may only be the grocery store, but you never know. Elvis could make an appearance in produce. 

Plus, even when money is scarce, it’s important to always look your best.

Begin your one-mile walk downtown.

At Tiedtke’s Department and Grocery Store, add Spam, Kraft American Cheese, and Wonder Bread to your cart. Pay with change from your pocketbook. 

Head home, sandwich ingredients in hand. 

Once there, open your bag of bread and can of meat. Add slices of each straight to a warmed skillet with a bit of butter. Let your ingredients sizzle and brown before flipping. While the Spam is cooking, place a piece of cheese on top of one piece of bread. After both sides of bread and meat are cooked, smoosh the slices of toast together around the Spam. Open a can of peaches for dessert. 

Leave your dishes … On purpose.

Apply some rouge and settle down to watch the latest wrestling match. You know it’s scripted, but you love watching those muscly men like Buddy Rogers duke it out in the ring. Take your first bite, savoring independence before your husband returns, blitzed and ready to argue about a woman’s place. 

*Photo taken in 1953. It’s Danielle’s grandmother and great aunt, likely just before they headed out to Tiedke’s.

How To Hit A Deer With Your Minivan On Moms’ Weekend


  1. Drive four hours with your two best friends to the mountains for some kid-free mom time skiing on the slopes.
    1. Make sure you leave the dads with enough frozen peas and baby carrots. If you don’t, the kids won’t eat their veggies and you’ll be freaking out for two full days instead of letting your messy bun down.
  2. When you arrive at your tiny condo at the bottom of the mountain, light the fire and drink too much wine. This won’t work unless you all drink, so fill all red plastic cups and blame it on the switchbacks and fog for needing a little something, something, to calm your nerves.
  3. Go to bed at four in the morning, because nothing good happens after two a.m., and you want – no need – to remove yourself from motherhood and be nothing good for the night.
  4. Wake up at ten a.m. when your husband calls to see how the slopes are. The lifts opened one hour ago and you’re in no shape to be getting out of bed just yet. At this point, you know you won’t be putting sticks on your feet and sliding down any kind of hill. Not gonna happen.
  5. Eat all the vegan brownies and Tylenol for breakfast with Mom 2. Joke about how you’re all too old to be drinking that much and going to bed that late. Lay back down until the Tylenol kicks in.
  6. Plug your ears when Mom 3 wakes up and barely makes it to the toilet to puke. She’s obvi a total rookie.
  7. Once you’ve all showered, go to the top of the mountain for greasy lunch. Burgers, sweet potato fries (because they’re healthier, duh), and Bloody Marys all around. You choke down the Bloody Mary. It’s not that you want to drink, but hey – hair of the dog, amirite?
  8. Decide to go tubing to salvage what’s left of the weekend.
  9. In the minivan, aka The Swagger Wagon, share funny stories like, “And once, my daughter confused a pantyliner for a giant Band-aid.” You’re a mom after all, and you can’t ever fully leave your children at home, even on a moms’ trip. It’s okay, though, because this is what you needed. Not the booze or skiing, but a weekend with your friends full of fun.
    1. Hear Mom 2 gasp, interrupting the laughter.
  10. See a deer jump in front of your moving tank, slam on the brakes, get a new understanding via personal experience for the term “deer in headlights.” That fucker won’t move.
  11. Connect with her eyes, illuminated by your car’s front end just before she turns in a too-late-dumbass attempt to run away.
  12. Only hit her in the butt going ten miles an hour before she scampers off, uninjured into the woods. Pull over and cry for her with your friends.
  13. After you pull yourself together, finish driving to the tubing hill.
  14. Once there, laugh, careen down the hill, act like a child.
  15. Have fun. Have so much fun.
  16. After tubing, eat a pile of chips and salsa and tell dirty jokes with your friends because the best cure for a hangover is laughter and carbs. Always more carbs.

*Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Eighties Ski Jumpsuits Make Gnarly Conversation on the Slopes

We are on a four-day, adults-only ski-cation in Vermont. My daughters are six and one, back home with my mother-in-law. I’m stoked because it’s the first time I’ve been away from my youngest child, who is recently walking and hellbent on killing me. I love my kids and I’ll miss them, but I’m ready to take a chill pill and throw all caution to the wind as I sail down icy trails if you know what I mean.

Unfortunately, all my female friends bail on the trip. Too expensive? Too far? Too many loud dudes with stinky feet in a small house? I have no idea their reasons, but I do know I’m the only girl at this gorgeous chalet with a private sledding hill in the middle of two iconic ski resorts, Stowe and Smuggler’s Notch, in upper Vermont. Like I’d miss all this because of some stinky feet? As if!

We spend the entire first day in below zero temperatures on a two-chair lift that s-l-o-w-l-y spans one of the biggest, if not the biggest, mountain on the east coast. It takes longer to go up than it does to go down.

So, day two my butt has freezer burn and my lips are dry and cracked like the Sahara Desert. I need a laid-back, go-at-your-own-speed, drink-peppermint-schnapps-from-the-flask kind of day.

Everyone else agrees, so we dust off the eighties ski jumpsuits and prepare to make a rad video with mountains, neon colors, vintage sunglasses, and big hair. Unfortunately for me, I forgot my crimper at home.

I have to say, Wes has the best jumpsuit. He says he bought his online from some specialty Italian retro-thingy-online store. He also paid more than $200 for his dayglo white, green, and pink ski suit. That’s just bananas. Justin, my husband, found his butt-huggers online as well. It’s a woman’s jumpsuit and, as the loving nickname suggests, it’s rather tight on his bum. I do like the blue and yellow, though. I kind of wish it fit me. Then there’s Jay’s. That thing is just heinous. I can’t believe he paid a hundred dollars for his black, purple and Ecto-green outfit. Gag me with a spoon. Even in the eighties, I bet they thought it was grody.

Mine, however, mine is glorious.

It’s turquoise with a pop of purple and an elastic belt with one of those plastic clasps we used to pinch our fingers in as kids. Totally tubular. And, the best part, is that I found this baby at Goodwill for $9.99. My new nickname on the trip is Goodwill Queen. I aint’ mad about it either. These boys can go ahead and spend stupid money on their used eighties ski jumpsuits. Looking at the four of us, you can’t tell who paid top dollar and who got hers for a steal. We all look like idiots.

I go the entire day with a wedgie that spans my supposed-to-stay-put undies, my base layer, and the jumpsuit. But the mild pain is so worth it when the ski lift operator says, “you guys are winning the week.”

Screenshot_20181112-205539_Facebook

After we bounce, I pick the song Jump as our home video’s background song, because it’s pretty much the best eighties song ever. For more fun, you can watch our home video here.

Ready to Go

“Are we ready to go?” My husband looks at me with excitement. In most other ways he’s a grown man full of reasoning and intelligence, but his eyes are round and child-like. It’s one of my favorite features of his.

We both have our Snowshoe, West Virginia hoodies on and beanies hugging our heads. Our SUV is packed for our bi-monthly three-day trip to our ski house, tucked away in the Appalachian Mountains. It will be a weekend of fun in fresh powder.

Socks, coats, kids, and dogs are spilling out of the car’s various doors. We are as close to machine-like as possible with our packing; we are so good at preparing and getting there. Of course … there are always hiccups. That’s life.

“We’re ready.” I nod.

I give him a quick kiss on the cheek, and I notice the stubble accumulating. One day without shaving for his job as an attorney and his facial hair is already taking over.

I climb in the passenger side and Justin takes the wheel. Once seated and buckled, I turn to check on both girls, who are also buckled safely with smiles anchoring their faces to the backseat.

“You excited, Reagan?” I say, but my seven-year-old with blond, bouncing waves and freckles dotting her cheeks like confetti is humming along to Taylor Swift on her hot pink iPod. It’s loud enough for me to hear. I tap her leg.

She lifts her headphones off her ear. “Yeah, Ma?”

“Excited?”

“Sure.” She looks down, then back to my face with alarm. “I forgot Pinky Lou in the house!” Pinky Lou is her favorite stuffed panda bear that only leaves her side on rare occasions.

“I’ll go get her,” I say and reassure her with a smile. “Can I have the keys?” I ask Justin, who is setting up the navigation. He hands them to me without looking up.

I climb out of the SUV and unlock the door. Inside, I find Pinky Lou on the counter, legs up, and looking pitifully alone. I laugh to myself, grab her and run back outside.

Inside the car, I toss the stuffed bear into Reagan’s lap and re-buckle.

“Thanks, Mom.” She smiles.

I look at my almost-three-year-old. Straight wisps of brown hair frame her round face. “How about you, Ashlyn? Are you excited?”

She nods at me and runs her fingers along the soft fleece of her Frozen blanket because she is always finding fun. If she doesn’t have a toy close by, she plays with whatever she can get her chubby fingers on. “I need a snack, Momma.”

“Sure. What would you like?”

“Apple!”

“You got it.” I look at Justin, scrolling through his Spotify playlists. “Where are the snacks?” I ask.

He looks over and grimaces. “In the very back of the trunk.”

“Well, that’s a terrible place for them.” I roll my eyes. “Hang on, Ashlyn. Mommy is getting you a snack.” I unbuckle my seatbelt for the third time.

“Don’t stress,” Justin says while plugging his phone into the USB. “I’m excited to get there too, but we’ll get there soon enough.”

 

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Two Birds in a Bath

When the temperature rises above comfortably cool, they find happiness in the shallow end of the water.

Bright colors cover their flesh, drenched in summer sweat and the smell of coconuts.

They sing their sweet song and flap their fleshy wings spraying water droplets against the lens of my favorite glasses. I find my smile under an umbrella.

It’s summer, and they are my two tropical birds in paradise.

 

Photo courtesy of Pexels

In response to Donna-Louise’s Prompt Pot – Birds

Su-Su-Summer Time

Yes!

It’s finally here and I couldn’t be happier: warm weather.  And with warm weather comes summer.  And with summer comes barbeques, short shorts, cold drinks, crystal clear pools, shady umbrellas, bottles upon bottles of sunblock, and laughter.

So.Much.Laughter.

I’ve always enjoyed the sticky days that summer is known for.  Growing up, I’d spend it laying out on my parent’s back deck, with my mom and sister, while listening to Kiss FM on my battery operated boom box.  The scorching deck would blister a bare foot, so we kept flip-flops at the ready; only going barefoot on the fiery wood as we danced our way from the rubbery fold-out chairs to the refreshing pool.  My mom would happily watch my sister and I as we splashed around in the pool, goofing off, making whirlpools, playing Marco-Polo and attempting underwater headstands. She only jumped in occasionally to cool off, and spent most of the day slathering on fresh coats of tanning lotion and relaxing as she glistened in the sun.

I can still smell her Hawaiian Tropic SPF 5, if I close my eyes.

It’s been four summers since she passed away, but I still remember every detail about those days.  She would lay there, smoking her cigarettes and painting her nails a bright shade of red.  She was a bronze goddess, effortlessly gorgeous with long dark hair, a thin curvy waist, and her favorite black bikini.

I wanted to be just like her.

And I tried to be.  I would soak up the sun’s hot rays after drenching my pale body in tanning lotion and saturating my hair with lemon-scented Sun-in.  But instead of being sun-kissed, I ended up with burnt, painful skin and orange hair, year after year.

I didn’t care, because I was happy.

During my twenties I rarely saw water during the summer, but instead I would spend warm days at baseball games with my husband, rooting for the Tigers.  We would sip frosty beers and munch on Hebrew National hotdogs as we baked, shoulder to shoulder, under the rays of the July sun.  The smell of buttery popcorn would fill our noses, making us crave the salty treat.  If the Tigers were away, we would day-drink limey vodka gimlets at outdoor bars with friends.  We’d laugh and talk as jazzy house music filled the air. We had no real responsibilities, no kids and no cares in the world.

Life was good.

Today, again, summers are different. Summer days are now spent chasing little ones at the wading pool with big beach hats and SPF 50. Or at the beach, sweaty and covered in sand. At home, we spend breezy afternoons on the swing, finding shapes in the clouds, coloring with sidewalk chalk on the blacktop, or sharing drippy popsicles that leave our fingers sweet and sticky.  My husband and I spend cool nights on the back deck with glasses of crisp white wine as we watch the fireflies blink, and hear the crickets sing.

These summer days are my favorite, so far.  They make me reflect on where I came from, what I’ve gone through and what kind of woman I have become. They make me appreciate the past, while staying present, and also looking forward to what the future may hold.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’d like to go pour myself a glass of Pinot Grigio and listen to the crickets.

Summer is awesome.

Photo courtesy of  Ann Demianenko at Unsplash.

This week I revamped an old piece that you can find here.  Hope you like my changes!

 

Fun at the Germ-Infested Playground!

Such fun, at the indoor playground!

Falling rain has us weather-bound.

So to the mall, we go instead.

Where gross germs are easily spread.

Full of children, so tightly wound.

 

Little heathens run wild around;

Screams and shouts are the only sound.

I swear, half must be interbred,

At the indoor playground.

 

On their phones, parents are spellbound.

Kids left unwatched, to beat and pound

On other children’s little heads.

A war of germs, dirt, and bloodshed.

Oh how I hate this battleground.

At the indoor playground.

Detroit has a Heartbeat.

My home is Virginia, but I spent five years living in Detroit, Michigan and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss it once in a while.

Detroit has a heart that pounds through your chest like an old beat-up sledgehammer.  It’s dirty and noisy, but still powerful and captivating.  During my years residing there, I was in love with the energy; it was palpable and irresistible, dragging me toward it like a moth to a flame.

Sometimes as I would drive up 95 North, back to my sunny loft on Adams Avenue, the city’s skyline would seem to unfold before like a children’s pop-up book. First I’d see old Tigers’ stadium and the Michigan Train Station, both eerie skeletons full of deterioration.  Then the skyscrapers would come into view, a mix of ornate pre-war facades and newer structures with the sharp angles made of steel and glass.

I couldn’t help feeling like I belonged there; a misfit amongst other misfits.

The reasons why Detroit scares off most people at first glance are evident as you walk down Woodward Avenue and witness abandoned buildings, littered sidewalks and too many folks left to rot without homes.  This feeling is multiplied outside of downtown, where hundreds, if not thousands, of homes have been torched or vandalized, leaving the streets looking like a war zone.  The vacant-ness feels dangerous and maybe even terrifying.

Yet if you dig deeper and find a moment to enjoy the beauty amongst the chaos, then you see what makes Detroit special.  For instance, try standing in front of The Spirit of Detroit.  You will see the amount of pride Detroiters carry for their city.  It’s tangible, as solid as the Joe Lewis Fist.  Go to DEMF and you will feel it in the air as the music vibrates your soul.  Attend a Tigers’ game and you will hear it at Comerica Park when the crowd goes wild over a home run.  Go to any one of Detroit’s amazing restaurants and you can taste it in the food.  Take one look at the casino lights and you will see it there as bright as day.

The Motor City is alive.

The people there are built from hard work, passion for the arts and a zest to persevere through any circumstance.  They have seen enough turmoil, grief and depression to make them close up shop more than anyone would care to mention, but their tough skin and big hearts have carried them through.  The people of Detroit fight hard and love even harder.

They stay true to their city for a reason.

 

Photo courtesy of Leroy on Stocksnap.io

Buyer and Seller Beware!

Shopping on Craigslist should come with a “Buyer and Seller Beware!” warning.  Or does it, already?  Maybe now that I’m writing this I should go back to make sure I didn’t miss something.  I sometimes do that…

In any case, a consumer looking for a decent deal on a used futon, funky vintage chair with green velvet, an old table to refinish, or whatever else her bargain-hunting heart fancies, can easily find it at a steal of a price on Craig’s good ol’ list.

I think he (Craig, or at least I hope that’s his name, because if his name is Frank, then why isn’t he calling his site Frankslist, or whatever?) truly had the best of intentions with the creation of his online classifieds, but in all honesty how good of a deal is a buyer really getting?

Say there’s this seller who has a STEAL of a recliner for $50.  It’s “barely used, comes from a smoke and pet-free home” and the seller, Steve, “just doesn’t have room for it anymore.”

Well, my guess is that chair has more than one dirty little secret lurking around.

Like maybe an angry pet left her mark on the armrest.  Or maybe Steve, AKA Two-Pack-a-Day-Steve, used to sit there munching away on potato chips with one greasy hand, wiping his salty fingers on the seat like it was a built-in napkin, all the while never putting down his smokes.  Maybe it’s just plain-old broken.  There could be a hundred, no a thousand, different things wrong with this steal of a recliner.

But anyway, say Steve finds himself a buyer.  We’ll call our bargain-hunting Diva, Steve’s buyer, Rhonda.

Woo-hoo!  Now he can unload his crap onto some unsuspecting stranger.  And maybe Rhonda won’t give a sh*t that this chair has more tales to tell than Hugh Hefner.

Or maybe, just maybe, she will.

So with the sale, comes the face-to-face meeting.  Dear God, the meeting.  Whether it’s a pick-up from the seller, a drop-off to the buyer, or a meet-up at a public place, these money/product Craigslist exchanges are the most uncomfortable thing since shoulder-pads in blazers.

They’re just all wrong.

If the meeting is held in a public place, (the preferred meet-up method for most Listers and Buyers) then all parties feel like they might just get robbed and because of that they rush through the transaction missing things like that awful stain or making sure they received the correct amount of funds.  Drop-offs and pick-ups are even worse, because no-one likes inviting strangers that they just met on the Internet into their driveways, much less their living rooms.

So, to continue on, Two-Pack-a-Day-Steve decides to meet Rhonda at the local Walmart parking lot.  Rhonda likes a good bargain and when she meets Steve she tells him how she must have miscounted her money and only has $35 instead of the agreed upon $50.

How convenient of her.

Steve agrees to take less because the old, greasy, smoky recliner is already loaded into her SUV and he’s so close to closing the deal.

A look of proud accomplishment spreads across her face as he shakes her hand.  Both parties win, sort of, and both parties lose.

In my personal and (not so professional) opinion, I think that there are a lot of dishonest weirdos out there and sometimes it’s best to have a third party to help negotiate transactions.  Sometimes it’s best to just buy it new.

Photo courtesy of Ryan McGuire on StockSnap.io

One Little Birdie

It was an ordinary spring day; full of sunshine, puffy clouds, and a light breeze that smelled faintly of flowers. My window was down and my short, dark hair was snapping back and forth, lightly stinging my freckled cheeks. Tortoise colored sunglasses covered half my face and kept the sun’s rays from reaching my blue eyes and the smile on my face touched my ears; a sign that all was right and beautiful in the world.

The black leather on my minivan’s seat was getting just enough sun to be warm to the touch, radiating heat onto my bare shoulders. It reminded me of the sticky humidity that comes with summer. My girls, one and five, were giggling happily as I sang along to the 90’s hip-hop song drifting from the speakers.

I knew each word with precision, of course.

I signaled to switch lanes, cautious that I was clear, and checked my blind spot. As I turned my head back to facing front, a small, shiny Civic darted across three lanes like a silver bullet and cut my black swagger wagon off.

On instinct, I gasped, whaled on my horn, and slammed on my brakes sending freshly bought produce sailing through my vehicle, now coming to an abrupt stop. A bottle of delicious red wine rolled all the way to the console, still wearing the white plastic bag and somehow brand new baby wipes ended up in my lap.

My eye’s rushed up to the rear-view and thankfully my girls were still smiling. “Are you alright?” I asked Reagan.

“Yep,” Reagan answered. They barely even noticed. Knowing we were fine and dandy with all limbs in tact, the New-York-angry-driver in me took over.

I cautiously pulled my black-on-black Dodge next to the Civic and offered my biggest grin to the driver, a girl wearing obnoxiously massive hoop earrings. This woman and her stupid choice could have easily turned my good day sideways, but thankfully she didn’t.

I passed her and, still providing a full smile, I gave that idiot the bird.

Reagan saw my finger and asked, “was that the sign language for ‘no’, Momma?”  Her voice pure and sweet with innocence.

I laughed and responded, “it was something like that.”

It was still an ordinary Spring day; full of sunshine, puffy clouds, and a light breeze that smelled faintly of flowers.

By the grace of something greater, all was still right in the world.

Photo courtesy of Lily Lvnatikk on StockSnap.io