Monday, March 28, 2011

You Can't Spell L-I-F-E Without Bee(s)

Last night, W and I watched a recent episode of Real Time with Bill Maher. I am a big believer and fan of Maher (my apologies to my right-wing readers) and find that I am consistently agreeing with what he has to say. His celebrity guest, on this particular episode, was actress Ellen Page. Instead of talking about the obvious politics of the day (which they did, prior to her joining the panel), Page talked about bees.

As the narrator of the documentary, Vanishing of the Bees, Page and Maher spoke quietly and seriously about the fact that our bees are dying in mass quantites, and at an alarming rate. They're pesky stinging bugs, so why should we care? Well, here's why. We cannot live without bees. Maher read a quote by Einstein to illustrate the importance of this bee issue: "If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would have only four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man."

This is our problem. We have to worry about our economy, and our jobs, and all the things that we deal with daily. Our environment, as both Maher and Page illustrated, is part of all of that. Why we think that the enviornment can survive until we become more stable in our personal lives is both ignorant and narcissistic. The pesticides we use on our food and our lawns are killing the bees. (Maher even suggests (in his blog post linked below) that cell phone use is a huge factor in the death and destruction of the bee population.) Without bees, there will be an absence of food. We are destroying our environment, living with plastic everything, choosing to use plastic grocery bags instead of reusable ones, and we wonder why the earth is lashing back at us. We are killing our planet.

There is an easy fix, though. To make immediate, easy changes, simply start at home. Only buy organic. If you choose to spend the extra few dollars on food that is grown without the use of pesticides, organic companies will thrive and farmers that aren't going organic will stop using pesticides. Do not eat foods that have GMOs. Save money on your lawn care and cancel your Chem-lawn, or whatever company you pay to spray your lawn with toxic chemicals. Buy organic fertilizer and put it down yourself.  The poisons you put on your grass to kill your weeds, ticks, and everything, is also killing the bees. Those ticks will still come anyway, once the pesticide is washed away, but the environment has already been harmed. Having a clover-filled grass isn't the worst thing in the world. A life without bees, however, just may be.

Gardeners can plant a bee-friendly garden. Plant flowers like hyacinth, calendula, echinacea, cosmos, and wild lilac. Bee balm is an obvious, and fabulous, choice too. Read Plant a Bee Garden by the Honey Bee Conservancy.

Read Maher's post on bees from back in 2007 (which is still current, but perhaps more pressing today) called The Birds, the Bees, and Earth Day.

You can purchase a copy of the DVD Vanishing of the Bees for home screening by clicking here, or to host a public screening (for free or as a fundraiser), see the options provided here.

For more information about bees, visit thehoneybeeconservancy.org.



Tiffany Palisi is a freelance writer and the author of the book, "Mama's World: Essays From the Inside Out." She has interviewed actresses, designers, and entertainers; her favorites include Cynthia Rowley, Patricia Arquette, Tea Leoni, and children's singer Dan Zanes. She is a contributing writer for Mountain Lakes Living magazine. Palisi lives with her family in New Jersey.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Life List (Spring Renewal)

I woke up this morning to a bitter cold wind, something certainly not suitable for spring. The fact is, though, that spring really is upon us. While it may not be warm enough to start gardening, or to open your windows to do that spring cleaning you're itching to do (oh, how I long to clean my windows), we can do another kind of spring cleaning. We can clean up our lives.

Yesterday, I had hours in my house to just sit and read, nothing else. My son didn't want to leave the house, and no one was coming to visit. (No one ever comes to visit. Maybe I should rethink the pop-in rule...) The book that I am reading, The Blessing of the Animals by Katrina Kittle, is all about a woman reconfiguring her life. It's about soul searching, deciding what matters, and deciding what every aspect of your life would look like, if you could create it. It reminded me of an exercise that I learned a while ago and am preparing to do.

It's called the Life List. It's easy to do, it's fun, and it will help you point your compass in the right direction. Take out a piece of paper and label the top with the things that are in your life. You may include family, career, home, travel, love, friendship, charity. You may just start with one. Now, write a list of what you'd like that aspect of your life to look like. For example, home might say: clean weekly, open space, plant flowers, entertain, buy new art, frame photos. Next, go through your list and see what you have, and what's missing, then figure out the changes that you need to make to have the life you want.

Now, go grab your pen and paper, and have a fun weekend.


Tiffany Palisi is a freelance writer and the author of the book, "Mama's World: Essays From the Inside Out." She has interviewed actresses, designers, and entertainers; her favorites include Cynthia Rowley, Patricia Arquette, Tea Leoni, and children's singer Dan Zanes. She is a contributing writer for Mountain Lakes Living magazine. Palisi lives with her family in New Jersey.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Pop-Ins and Popovers

Popovers or pop-ins. Since you may have imagined that this blog was about popovers that you bake, I am sharing a recipe for them at the bottom of the blog. This, however, is about that moment when there is a knock at your door or a ring of your bell, and you know you aren't expecting anybody. Whether you are cleaning, sitting quietly with a book, or getting out of the shower, that sound means someone has come to visit, uninvited.


In my heart, I like to believe that I have an open door policy. In actuality, I don't. I like to be prepared. Occasionally, a neighbor will ring my bell with a question, and while it still isn't my favorite thing, I get it. They live next door. But when someone drives by, and pops in, well, it really makes me angry.


Here's the latest in a two-day pop in period. My handyman had done some work here at my house. Apparently, he wanted to check on the job, and though he called, he didn't reach me. He did leave a message, but I wasn't prompt in returning the call. I have been very busy, and calling people back about things that aren't pressing just isn't in the forefront of my mind. Anyhow, he decided to stop by. Twice. The first time, my front door was closed. My car was in the driveway so he assumed that I was home, but really, I could have been out with someone else driving, or in the shower, or sleeping, or doing laundry in the basement.


The second time, my front door was open. My house doesn't get a lot of light, so keeping the front door open is important for me. If I keep it closed, the house is much darker. So he came knocking, and I was in a towel, fresh out of the shower, and on the telephone. After much ado, I went to the door just like that. I gestured that I was on the phone and couldn't talk, not to mention undressed, and he just stood there waiting for me to talk to him. So annoying.


In the end, he said he'd wait in his truck for me to get off the phone and to get dressed. I was very irritated. It wasn't even anything important. He just wanted to know how things were going since he completed the work. Did that really require a visit?


I have lost friends due to a breeched pop-in policy. If you keep popping in even after I ask you not to, I push away. What part of Do Not Pop-In is so hard to understand and respect? Most of my friends know better, and probably wouldn't pop over anyhow. But just in case you were thinking about it...



The Barefoot Contessa's Popovers



Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus softened butter for greasing pans
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups milk, at room temperature

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Generously grease aluminum popover pans or Pyrex custard cups with softened butter. You’ll need enough pans to make 12 popovers. Place the pans in the oven for exactly 2 minutes to preheat. Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, salt, eggs, milk, and melted butter until smooth. The batter will be thin. Fill the popover pans less than half full and bake for exactly 30 minutes. Do not peek.



Tiffany Palisi is a freelance writer and the author of the book, "Mama's World: Essays From the Inside Out." She has interviewed actresses, designers, and entertainers; her favorites include Cynthia Rowley, Patricia Arquette, Tea Leoni, and children's singer Dan Zanes. She is a contributing writer for Mountain Lakes Living magazine. Palisi lives with her family in New Jersey.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What To Do

I am heading out to the dentist, momentarily. I will be having my surgery checked to make sure that my gums are healing as expected. My driveway that was full of snow has, thankfully, been shoveled, but the shock of snow still remains. Afterward, I will head to the gym (I've lost 8.5 lbs in six weeks!) and then come home to shower. All the while, I will be thinking about the women I've spoken with lately, all of whom say the same thing. They never see their husbands.

They seem to be finding that their schedules are keeping them away from their families and their husbands. I wonder, is this happening across the board, or am I just meeting people who are living with these circumstances? Is the hustle worth the separation, worth the distance that it creates? I cannot relate mostly because I don't live with my boyfriend so our circumstances are very different. I see him a couple days a week for dinner, one overnight on the weekend. I don't expect to see him that much. But if I were living with my husband, I'd hope to see him often.

People are losing their homes, and the economy has been raking us all over the coals. I understand why we all need to hustle. But there has to be a better solution. Too many people are splitting up at an alarming rate. We have to value our relationships.

Today my son had a delayed opening, and I happened to catch Ian Kerner (super god to women) with a woman (perhaps a co-writer, or maybe his wife) talking about how to keep marriages alive. I only caught the tail end. They talked about how it's important to keep ourselves looking good, for women to keep up with shaving and dressing nice, and for men to do the same. Either person giving up, getting slovenly, won't help the cause.

But if we never see each other, does it really matter?

I don't know the answer to these questions, but I know that I have to ask them. What are your personal feelings on this? Of course, you can message me privately, but I would love to see you comment here for other people to read. Feel free to keep your comments Anonymous (it's an option).

Monday, March 21, 2011

Update (in response to your messages)

I am comforted, following my last blog post, by how many messages I got from you all asking if I am okay. I haven't gotten many responses on the actual blog page, so I wasn't even sure who was reading it anymore. While I would love to respond to you all personally, I am pinched for time, so please accept this as my response.

I am fine. I am. The past six months have been rough, as you may know, and I am attempting to recover from them. They've been physically (my ear, Shingles, vertigo), emotionally, and socially challenging. Every aspect of my life has challenged me at some point over this time and while I am slowly bouncing back, each experience that dug in created scars, and they're taking a while to heal. I am not tough, I get hurt easily. When I feel betrayed, that experience doesn't just go away. It may seem like a negative, but that same sensitivity is what makes me a caring parent and friend, and helps me to empathize with others who are in need. Understand that my healing time is slow but progressive.

Sorting through it all has forced me to question what and who matters, and I need some time to think about all that, without the help or advice of others. I've read that you have to want what you have, instead of wanting what you don't have. It's taken me 41 years to realize that that's the quickest way to happiness, or at least to a place of contentment.

This online community, however virtual it may be, has been amazingly supportive and caring. Thank you all for your email messages! I've had two invites for visits, both, ironically, to SoCal to relax and breathe, and take some yoga classes. Last night, I told my son I might head to Venice to visit friends during the week that he is away. His response, "Mom! You can't come to California when I'm there!" Like he'd ever know.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Taking A Break, Part II

Last night I posted Taking A Break, but thought better of making it public so I deleted it. To all who get my blogs in your email inbox, I am sorry for the confusion.

I need to focus on some personal things, but will be back once I've figured it all out.

New to finding this blog? I have plenty of old posts to keep you busy. Read on...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Easy Come, Easy Go (And progress. Important stuff.)

As easily as things come, so, too, can they go. Apparently, monogamy is not sustainable anymore, or people aren't willing to commit to the long haul. Nothing lasts forever, or at the very least, there is no guarantee. You'd think that with all the tragedies that are occurring throughout the world, we would feel reminded to hunker down and appreciate the people we love. I've been hearing of both relationships and marriages crumbling at the drop of a hat. Little slows us down anymore, or has the power to stop us in our tracks and be thankful for who we choose to love. If anything, we give more attention to those who are less important to us, because we have to work harder to control the outcomes of those relationships. It's like watering our neighbor's lawn when we should be watering our own. It's not smart, it's frustrating, at best, and damaging to the relationship that we are taking for granted.

I believe that people just have expectations that are too high, or that they aren't willing to commit to what matters anymore. Everything, and often times everyone, is replaceable. No, not our children, but our significant others seem to be. While in actuality that's not the case, it is how many people treat those that supposedly matter to them. In this hyper tech world, we are distracted by television, the internet, and our information-super-powered cell phones. Some phones even have apps that check us into places and log it in our facebook statuses. I don't need to know that you had dinner at Applebee's, or that you are at a Justin Bieber concert, but your phone still posts it. Somehow, we feel that we are so important that we have to report our every move to everyone we know. Narcissicm is being taken to a new level.

In contrast, we have become less communicative with the people that really matter. Those people seem to fall to the wayside because they get face time, even though that face time may consist of less conversation than we have with other people who may not matter as much. Our face to face conversations become less critical, the sharing of our experiences decline because the virtual world handles that for us all day, on demand. Emails and texts pass factual information, are quicker, and ask less questions. No need for sitting together, talking. While I yearn to have a conversation with someone without the constant interruption of a text alert, email alert, alarm, or phone call, it hasn't been possible. For many it's not about who matters the most, instead it's about who is more persistent (read annoying/pushy). That said, I am starting to understand how things decline as quickly as they seem to do.

There are people who commit to taking the time and making the effort to tend to their relationships. I've met those couples. They work hard to try and understand the needs of their partners, and do their best to support those needs. They are the couples who sit together at social gatherings, holding hands. They carve out time to be alone, and to make that alone time matter. They exist, but are few and far between.

My cell phone is always on when my son isn't with me. He is often at his dad's house, and I want to be reachable in case of an emergency. I can say with pride, however, that my cell phone rarely rings otherwise. I get an occasional text here and there, but on the average, I'd say my cell phone is fairly quiet. I don't get a gong sound every time I get an email. I only get alerts for texts, and phone calls.

Thinking back, I remember spending entire nights with friends, talking and listening to music. On warm summer nights, we'd sit on the roof of a car, or a house (yes, a house), and talk. Dates went the same way. Just the two of us. There was no one else. No one texting a reminder, or sending over an email. No one calling, unless it was an emergency, and those emergency calls came in on a house line. We were with whoever was in the room, and no one else. Those days have passed. Whoever beeps in a text, an email, or a phone call, becomes the most important person at that moment. Our minds immediately go to that person, like it or not. It really ruins everything. I miss the days of landlines, and answering machines with tapes that rewind. I miss giving out the number that I will be at, in case of an emergency. I miss being able to have an entire night alone with just one person, without the blasted cell phone making some sort of noise to interrupt us. Progress isn't always progress, after all.


Tiffany Palisi is a freelance writer and the author of the book, "Mama's World: Essays From the Inside Out." She has interviewed actresses, designers, and entertainers; her favorites include Cynthia Rowley, Patricia Arquette, Tea Leoni, and children's singer Dan Zanes. She is a contributing writer for Mountain Lakes Living magazine. Palisi lives with her family in New Jersey.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Spring Cleaning

I've been making my son bacon in the mornings before school. It's Applegate Farms Sunday Bacon, which is organic and all-natural, and it is protein, so it's worth making. The bacon smell, however, hangs in the air for hours after it's made (not to mention, my hair). It's not a pleasant scent.

I burn a beeswax candle to kind of cleanse the air, but it doesn't do much, so I've resorted to turning both the kitchen and the play room fans on, and also burning scented candles. Today I was able to do something easy to get the scent out, and it was really very pleasant.

I opened the windows.

It's finally getting warm enough outside to crack the windows and allow fresh air to blow through. While the house was airing itself out, I went into my front yard and planted some pansies. When I returned inside, I got the bug to start cleaning. I scrubbed down the walls and the counter tops. I sorted through old books and games, deciding which to keep and which to ditch, and I decided to get rid of two bags full of clothing that had been sitting in wait for my schedule to coordinate with a Lupus pickup.

I took them to a place right in my town that says "Donation Center" or something similar. Rather than deal with whoever was working in the center (I had a ton to do and didn't feel like talking), I noticed two boxes outside, and dropped my clothes in there.


It felt good to know that my clothes would be benefiting Big Brothers Big Sisters, that they would be getting used by someone instead of sitting in bags in my basement. And that I was rid of things that I was no longer using.

On my way home, I had my car washed; seeing it shine made me feel renewed. Spring cleaning was in full effect. I am doing my best to keep my house as clean and open as possible for spring, and to keep my lawn and landscape fresh. While I cannot keep the lawn of my net-happy neighbor clear, I can, at the very least, manage my own space.

At least that's the plan.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Don't Get Lazy About Your Sleep

Our society isn't big on napping. In fact, when someone chooses to take a nap, we wonder if they had a late night, or if, perhaps, they are getting sick. The mere mention of a tradition of siestas in countries like Spain simply boggles our minds.


If only we understood the power of sleep.


Yesterday, I read a short article in Glamour magazine (February 2010) on a sleep challenge that was lead by Arianna Huffington and Cindi Leive. Last year, they both resolved to sleep at least seven and a half hours a night. For Huffington, the choice was a necessary one. "I got up from my desk and fainted from exhaustion, hitting my head, breaking my cheekbone, and having five stitches... I knew I had to put more priority on sleep," said Huffington.


Studies have shown that the human body needs about seven and a half hours to function properly. For many parents, especially those with small children, this isn't often the norm. Lack of sleep causes a greater susceptibility to illness, poor decision making, and weight gain. Huffington writes, in her article Sleep Challenge 2010: How Sleep Is Like Steroids... Without the 'Roid Rage, "Our sleep consultant, Dr. Michael Breus, has shown how getting more sleep can actually help you lose weight more effectively than exercise, but I've been finding the two are wonderfully compatible." In addition, lack of sleep paves the way for less satisfaction at work, less productivity, and less sex. As Leive states in the Glamour article, "sleep deprivation is a strategy cults use to physically impede the decision making abilities of their members... do we want to be cult members, nodding yes to every bad idea thrown our way?"



While Huffington and Leive started the sleep challenge over a year ago, the idea is still a good one. Try to take the Sleep Challenge for one month, and see how you feel. I have been getting eight hours for the past few weeks, unaware of the article or the sleep challenge, and the difference is amazing. 


Need help? Click here to read the Sleep Challenge guidelines set in place by Dr. Oz.


Tiffany Palisi is a freelance writer and the author of the book, "Mama's World: Essays From the Inside Out." She has interviewed actresses, designers, and entertainers; her favorites include Cynthia Rowley, Patricia Arquette, Tea Leoni, and children's singer Dan Zanes. She is a contributing writer for Mountain Lakes Living magazine. Palisi lives with her family in New Jersey.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Special to the Domestic Goddess Files

Three days from now, at this time 4:27 p.m., my son will be bald.

I have to share that his fantastically awesome stepmom told her friends and guess what? One of them, Brian T., reposted on his facebook page! He wrote something very nice and ended it with, "Any amount $5 and up will help some great children."

Thank you to Melissa for being such a great stepmom. Thank you, Brian T., for your shout out and your donation (just saw it)!

In keeping with what Brian said, any amount will help. Please donate a few dollars today. Help us make our $1,000 goal!

Click here to donate to Johnny's St. Baldrick's page.

Show and Tell Monday - Peanut Butter Balls Are Gonna Roll

Before I begin with Show and Tell Monday, I have to tell you that this weekend was quite notable. W and I spent Saturday at the MoMA viewing the Picasso: Guitars exhibit. We had planned on going to see George Condo at the New Museum, but since we will be going with friends in a few weeks, we decided to catch Picasso: Guitars before the exhibit ended. We also visited the Warhol Films exhibit, which was oddly disappointing. Picasso: Guitars was amazing though, and we followed that with a jaunt to the MoMA Design store, to get started on a very funny project (which will be shared, with permission, at a later date). Saturday night, we had dinner with our friends, KT and M, which was a lot of fun. Great food and conversation. They gave me the most amazing candle,  Cleopatra by Tocca, as thanks for curating the Love Is show that they are currently exhibiting in, and I've been burning it ever since. It's scent is both sweet and inviting.

Sunday, W and I followed our favorite morning routine, which includes a satisfying meal at our home-away-from-home diner. After breakfast, W went into my backyard to check out a tree that had fallen down after being uprooted from all the rain and melted snow. It was leaning against another tree, falling toward the yard, and I wanted to just push it in the other direction so it didn't land on one of our kids. I couldn't budge it. W, however, could, and he literally lifted the tree into the air, and dragged it all the way into the back of the woods. The tree had to be 25' high, at least. I felt like I was in the presence of a hulky lumberjack. I fell in love with him all over again.

Now, for the peanut butter balls.

Today I am showing and telling you about the most amazingly tasty dessert I've ever had. Get ready to drool.

My first experience with homemade chocolate peanut butter balls goes back 11 years. My former Boonton neighbor, Vicki Cobane, was an amazing baker and cook, and she was very generous with all that she made. She would bring me homemade bread in a basket with homemade herbed butter. She would bake cookies for me, and bring over wine and cheese. We would sit on my porch, eat, and talk about whatever was going on in our lives.

My first Easter in that house, Vicki came over with a basket filled with homemade chocolate peanut butter balls. She said that she made them every year, and the trick was that she used cream cheese in place of butter. While I do like cream cheese on my bagel, I don't like it sweet. Cheesecake grosses me out. I thanked her, closed the door to my house, and put the basket down. I didn't want to taste them, but they just kept calling to me. They smelled like decadent Reese's Peanut Butter cups.

Finally, I caved and tried one.

They were the most amazing things. The peanut butter balls, also known as buckeyes, were creamy and peanutty, and they had just the perfect amount of chocolate on them. I think I finished the whole basket myself. Ever since then, I've been making Vicki's recipe as Easter treats. There is something about them that is perfect for springtime. Last week Emma asked me to make them; she's had a voglie (VOHL-yay), a craving. I made them today, and we all had them after dinner tonight. Three remain. Try them, and then tell me that you can stop at just one. I won't believe you. I've posted the recipe below.

I made this batch especially for Emma.

vicki cobane's chocolate peanut butter balls
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, I use the Philadelphia brand bar (do not use low fat cream cheese or whipped)
  • 3 1/4 powdered sugar, divided
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 c peanut butter, creamy (do not use natural, too oily)
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 1/2 c semi-sweet chocolate chips
  1. Blend softened cream cheese, 3 c powdered sugar, peanut butter, vanilla extract, and salt in a large mixer. Mix on medium until combined. Add extra powdered sugar if the mix is too sticky.
  2. Make 1" balls, and refrigerate 1 hour. Smaller balls will be very chocolaty, larger balls will be very peanut buttery.
  3. Melt chocolate in a double boiler. Roll balls in chocolate and put on wax paper. Set in 'fridge. Store airtight for up to 1 week (they will never last that long -- yum).


Tiffany Palisi is a freelance writer and the author of the book, "Mama's World: Essays From the Inside Out." She has interviewed actresses, designers, and entertainers; her favorites include Cynthia Rowley, Patricia Arquette, Tea Leoni, and children's singer Dan Zanes. She is a contributing writer for Mountain Lakes Living magazine. Palisi lives with her family in New Jersey.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Getting Drilled and Other Things That Must Be Done

I have a bionic tooth. At least it should be bionic. I've spent nearly $5,000 on it (no dental insurance, yikes!) so I feel that it should have some magical powers, at the very least. My neighbor suggested that I just pull the tooth, rather than spend two months mortgage on getting it fixed, but for me, keeping all my teeth is very important to me, and at all cost. I am, however, terrified of dental work so getting all this work done does make things more difficult.

Back in January, I found out that I needed a root canal. I'd spotted a small cavity on my gum line, and when my dentist took x-rays, she saw that on the same tooth, way way under the filling that was in place, was another cavity. I needed a root canal. While this is always better news than, "I think we are going to need to pull your tooth", it's still bad news bears to me. 

I choose a local endodontist who turned out to be big and seemingly grumpy, with a thick Russian accent. His demeanor was unsettling so I just kept reminding myself that I was there to have a root canal, not to have dinner with him. Perhaps I should have trusted my instincts though, and made a run for it.  It took him over an hour to get me numb, then an hour to do the root canal (two canals, actually). All the while, he was pushing with his big hands (in my little mouth), moaning stressfully, asking for tools, and sighing as if things weren't going well. At the end, a piece of his file broke off in the canal and he informed me that he would attempt to retrieve it. He began digging and scraping for another hour, to no avail. In the meantime, the appointment went so late that I had to arrange via text for W to pick my son up from school. I left, shell shocked. 

A week later, I returned to my dentist, who did a temporary crown and advised me make an appointment for a crown lengthening procedure. My dentist, Dr. Soares, is wonderful. She is small, young, and pretty, and very skilled as a dentist. Plus, she and her assistant talked about reality t.v. the whole time, and while I am not a watcher, the talk was calmly distracting. 

Today, just five weeks after the temporary crown appointment, I went to the periodontist to have my crown lengthening procedure done. Before I left the house, I called my ex-husband to let him know that I was going for another procedure, so that he would be available by text if I needed him to go get our son from school. Thankfully, he was prepared to help, if need be. One less thing to worry about.

Dr. Dimaira was to cut away tissue (read my gum line) so that the crown could fit over my tooth, as the cavity removed had been below the gum line. After my experience with my to-remain-unnamed harrowing endodontist, I was fairly nervous.

I told Dr. Dimaira and her assistant, Kathy, what had happened at the root canal appointment, and what my concerns were for this one: not getting numb, having the appointment run hours long, pain. My anxiety was apparent. They assured me that the procedure would take less than an hour, and that they would do their best to make it as painless as possible. While they were numbing me, my mom called the office and asked them to tell me, "Good luck" from her. (She has been to Dr. Dimaira for various work on her teeth, and loves her.) They gave me 600 mg. of ibuprofen before the Novocaine, so that when it wore off, I would have something to lessen the pain. They numbed me, and within ten minutes, they got started.

Dr. Dimaira had to remove the temporary crown before she started cutting away the tissue. I was waiting to feel the pop! of the crown coming off, but all that was happening was some minor poking around. About 15 minutes in, while I was waiting (numbly, thank the Lord) for the crown to be removed, she said, "We're halfway done." I was stupefied. I didn't even know she'd begun. Yes, her tools were in my mouth, as was the suction wand, Mr. Thirsty as my son's pediatric dentist calls it, but I felt nothing, nor was there any taste in my mouth. No blood, no metallic bite. She had already cut away the tissue, and all that was left was for her to clean the area, and give me a stitch. 

I cannot tell you how painless this procedure was. No stress, no pain. Both the dentist and her assistant were kind, calming women. They talked casually. I didn't hear her asking for tools, breathing heavy, or any of the other things I experienced with the endodontist. It was easier than any dental procedure I'd ever had done. I have a list of instructions, pain killers, and antibiotics to take, along with instructions to drink lots of cold beverages.

It's been nine hours and already the passive bleeding has stopped, I have no swelling and no pain. I went to Grassroots for dinner, and picked up a salad, some artichokes with goat cheese, and garlic herbed baby carrots. And now I am off to make the peanut butter balls (sorry I've kept you waiting on this recipe - will post it Monday for sure, with pics). Pretty good, given the expectations I had following my oral surgery.

As a mother, I think it's important to share good service providers with friends, on the occasion that I find them. After all that I've been through, I want to share information on both my dentist, who is in Mountain Lakes, and my periodontist (who does crown lengthening procedures, pulls teeth, and does implants), who is in Montville. While I will not name the endodontist, if you are going for a root canal and looking to avoid him, contact me offline and I will give you his name. I am also including my son's pediatric dentist, because he is so amazing. He has done baby root canals on my son, pulled a tooth or two, and given him fillings. He's so good, that my son doesn't mind going to the dentist. 

Drill baby, drill.

Dr. Kimberly Soares, Family Dentistry
43 Bloomfield Avenue
Mountain Lakes, NJ 07046
(973) 263-1919

Dr. Michele Dimaira, Periodontal
170 Changebridge Road, Unit C-6
Montville, NJ 07045
(973) 276-7926

Dr. Christopher Jones, Pediatric Dentistry
1129 Bloomfield Avenue
West Caldwell, NJ 07006
(973) 575-8330
www.sacksjonesandoberfield.com


Tiffany Palisi is a freelance writer and the author of the book, "Mama's World: Essays From the Inside Out." She has interviewed actresses, designers, and entertainers; her favorites include Cynthia Rowley, Patricia Arquette, Tea Leoni, and children's singer Dan Zanes. She is a contributing writer for Mountain Lakes Living magazine. Palisi lives with her family in New Jersey.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

My Son Is Getting Buzzed

My ten year old has always had long hair. I can remember only one time that he got to what might be considered a typical boy haircut, three years ago, and he hated it. Oh, was he miserable. He couldn't wait for it to grow back.

Now, with hair past his shoulders, he tells me that he is going to shave it all off for kids with cancer.
Johnny, on Thanksgiving. Check out his long hair.

His school is raising money for kids with cancer, via St. Baldrick's. Kids shave their heads so that they know how it feels to have no hair, like many kids who undergo chemotherapy. They also raise money for St. Baldrick's, so it's a win-win. Last year when his school did this, my son opted to have a green streak put in his hair. But when it was announced this year, he decided to go the whole way.

He got in the car after school a couple weeks ago and said, "Mom, I'm gonna shave my head for St. Baldrick's." My reply was simple. "No, you're not." As a mother, I want to protect my son from disappointment and harm. Having never ever had real short hair, I can only imagine what kind of shock it will be for him to wake up with nothing more than a five o'clock shadow. I talked and talked to him, trying to get him to change his mind. Of course, I support the cause. I am just concerned about the fallout that might follow.

But his mind was made up.

I am so proud to share this information. In one week, at 3 p.m., my son is getting his head shaved bald. I will keep you posted, and share photos. I am amazed at his courage. He is trying to raise $1,000 and has raised $655 so far. If you wish to sponsor Johnny and St. Baldrick's, please click here. Every dollar helps. Of course, many thanks to those who have chosen to sponsor him already. He is very proud.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Throw the Baby Out With the Bath Water (please, please do)

Fat Tuesday was fairly uneventful for me. I had a meeting for work today, which was insightful and a good step for me professionally. Afterward, I picked my son up from school and took him for beignets at the Mountain Lakes Market. While I had planned on making my King Baby cake, the effort seemed pointless since my son didn't want to taste it, and there wasn't anyone else around to share it with. Who, pray tell, would get the baby? I like these little holidays (Mardi Gras, Cinco de Mayo), but having no one to celebrate them with kind of sucks.

I took my son to his dad's house to feed his dog and to let him out in the backyard (his dad and step mom were at a concert). While he visited the dog, I sat in my car writing recipes onto cards for my boyfriend's sister's bridal shower. Afterward, we went grocery shopping and got a bite to eat in town. Not much for celebrating Fat Tuesday, but we did laugh a lot, which was fun.

I had planned on making chocolate peanut butter balls during the time I'd allotted for baking the King cake, but was told that the dinner for which peanut butter balls are dessert might not be happening, so making them just in case  isn't really worth it. I would just end up eating all the balls (go ahead, laugh) and, after losing 7 lbs. (and counting), I won't dare tempt myself. Of all that I cannot control in my life, my body (fitness/nutrition at least) is the one thing that I can control.

There are other things that have happened in my life recently, causing me to become, I am ashamed to say, jaded. Things that make me wonder why I do the things that I do. If I am doing them for the sake of others, they've gone unappreciated. If I've done them for my own sake, which perhaps I have, well then the pay off just isn't there like it used to be. Doing nice things for others used to make me feel good. Some things, like baking for the women who work in the school's front office, still make me happy. Decorating the school's bulletin board, and having the kids come by asking what's up next, that's nice, too. However, when I go out of my way to do things that I think are really thoughtful and they go unnoticed, it's disheartening.

Growing up, my mom used to do themed dinners, complete with music and decorations. At some point, she gave up and gave in, but it must have been months before we noticed she'd thrown in the towel. Now, she rarely bakes or has parties, and I always thought that it was sad. But now I am starting to get it. While I wish that I didn't feel this way, you know, being the domestic goddess and all, I have to admit that I do. Both the 'domestic' and the 'goddess' parts have gone unappreciated for far too long, and frankly, I am starting not to care. I am sure that this stage will pass, at least I am hopeful that it will. Since I am so open about all of the positive up moments, I thought it only fair to be equally open about the moments that I feel defeated.

That there are times when throwing the baby out with the bath water isn't such a bad thing. It is a clean sweep for sure. Maybe some good goes "out" with the bad, but sometimes it's better to miss what you've given up rather than to wonder why you haven't let go.

Show and Tell Monday - On Tuesday

Give women the power to make a life for themselves. Watch this video, get a cool scarf, and help women (mothers, daughters) get off the street. It's less than four minutes long -- I know you can commit to a four minute video. Do it for your daughters...

http://livefashionable.com/our-commitment/

Tomorrow's blog will feature Vicki Cobane's Peanut Butter Ball recipe. The best ever!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Safe Place to Fall

Monogamy is a good thing. It is comforting and consistent, a shared routine that is created by two people. We create grooves and treads along our path, and ride through them over and over again. We know where to bend, and where to steer straight. Sometimes, though, after being in a relationship for a long time, we take our love and our partners for granted. While this isn't a good thing, it happens all too often. We forget to give TLC to our relationships, and before you know it, there is this strain that starts to give way under pressure, and then, CRACK. Things start to break apart.

I have been married and divorced, and I can say with confidence that have learned a lot. While I won't discuss what occurred in the privacy of my marriage, I will say that I know how easily things slip away. For us, it was for the best. My ex-husband is happily remarried; I am with a wonderful man, the person that I was born to be with. I believe this with my whole heart. After being with him for over four years, I am committed to keeping our relationship solid, and showing appreciation for all that we have together. He is, too, and that's why it works so well.

Life is busy. We are running errands, taking care of our kids, chauffeuring them to and from their after school activities. We have work, housekeeping, and meals to cook. It's easy to get lost in the shuffle. But if we do, we risk waking up and wondering who our better half actually is. If we choose to let go of the depth and communication that exists in our relationships, then we cannot expect to stay connected through the roller coaster of life. The empty nest syndrome might not come if we choose to value our relationships with our spouses/significant others, and tend to them consistently.

Think about your relationship. Do you make the choice to take good care of it, even when it isn't easy? I recently read a quote that said something to the effect of, the grass is greener on the other side of the fence because it gets watered. Relationships are not stagnant; they are growing and changing, and need to be cared for. The ways in which we do that vary from relationship to relationship, and are as unique as the individuals that are in them.

My relationship with my boyfriend is deeper and more complex than any relationship I have ever had. It's as complete, in my opinion, as any marriage could be. Valuing what we have, and committing to working through it all, is a comforting feeling. It feels like home.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The New Normal and A Big Thanks To K and M!

I've been getting all of your emails. I am sorry that I haven't written for the past few days. I've been trying to think about how I'd like to write what's on my mind. I want to be thankful and clear, without drawing attention to details that I'd rather not broadcast. Here goes...

Months ago, I was talking to a friend of mine, D, a mother of four boys. I was going through my vertigo, but hadn't yet been diagnosed with Meniere's. As I was explaining my symptoms, I was telling her how the doctors said it could go away in days, or perhaps months. Walking around dizzy is a scary feeling, and since I live alone with my son, it's me driving him to and from school, doing homework with him most nights, and managing the house. Being non-functional isn't really a viable option. D's son, she said, has just had a concussion and spent weeks at home. He was told not to do is homework, or anything that might cause his brain to work too hard. She said that things are always changing, our health, our kids, finances. Instead of getting down about it, she said, just look at it as the new normal.


The new normal keeps changing. I was out with my friends, M and K just last week. We were getting our nails done, and then going to lunch. I made the very rookie mistake of working out very hard early in the morning, and not eating enough food. I also didn't drink enough water, and since I am also taking diuretics for my Meinere's, I need to take in twice as much water as most people. After my workout, I had an hour long appointment, then met my friends for our afternoon out. About 30 minutes into our meeting, I got dizzy. Really dizzy. The room began to spin and just wouldn't stop. Laying down made it worse; so did closing my eyes. My sweet friends took me to the ER and stayed with me while the doctor did a neurological test, an EKG, and tested for low blood sugar and dehydration. My blood sugar was low, so they gave me fruit and juice to level it out a little bit. I hadn't eaten enough to compensate for the 700 calorie burn.

While we were between tests, my friends and I had a long conversation. I said, "I swear, I am not always  like this. It's weird, and it's stupid. I always think that I am so healthy." My friend M reminded me that as we get older, we have to redefine healthy. She and K both said that as we age (are we aging already? ugh, we are) we start to have pains we never had, and our body responds differently than it did when we were 20. K said she wakes up every morning and her back hurts. M said that yes, there is always some pain, somewhere.

They both kindly said things about their own personal experiences that made me feel much better about getting dramatically dizzy in the nail salon and needing a ride to the ER. K even needed to pull over when I thought I might vomit. I feel very lucky to know that these friends were there for me when I needed them. I am still fairly embarrassed about this incident, which is why it's taken me four days to write about it.

The point that I wanted to make, along with making a very public Thank You! to the girls, is that life isn't consistent. While we think things will continue along a certain way, hope that they will, that's not always the case. Our health may not always be perfect, though we do our best to care for our bodies. Things happen that are beyond our control; how we deal with it is ours to own.  I need lots of work on that end. But like my friend D said, it's just the new normal. That's how we have to look at it to stay sane. Life is a mixed bag, and as we ride the peaks and valleys, we will experience both joy and heartache. What matters is how we choose to experience it.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

When All That's Left Is the Truth

In life, we have tons of social experiences, but only a few really close personal relationships. How we choose to deal with these experiences and to handle random situations really says a lot about who we are.

We can choose to be moral or act on impulse. We can be honest, or choose to lie. We can put the people that we love first, or we can live for right now and allow our most important relationships fall to the wayside. How we behave is our choice, and within our control. Last night's episode of Parenthood showed that theory from many different perspectives, in different types of relationships. And while I hope that you are watching the show, if you aren't please feel confident that I am using the storyline to illustrate some very basic, important points that apply to everyone. Stay with me here; I want you to read what I have to say in this blog post more than I've ever wanted you to read my blog before.

First, there is cheating. Crosby cheated on his fiance. Together they have a child. The moment he did this, he changed their family dynamic. Though he immediately realized the error of his ways, he has yet to be able to repair what he's done. He's detrimentally hurt his fiance, and now no longer lives with his son. What was most striking about his choice, though, was how it affected his sister's husband.

His sister, Julia, and her husband, Joel, bring their daughter to Crosby's fiance's (Jasmine's) house for babysitting. When they arrive, Jasmine starts to break down in tears, despite her attempts at holding back. As she cries, Julia sits down to comfort her, while Joel takes care of the kids. It is noted that he sees Jasmine's sadness. Later, and this is the part of the show that was most poignant (which is big), when Joel and Julia are back home, Joel sits down, gets eye to eye with Julia, and clearly tells her, "I will never cheat on you." He adds that they have been through so much, and will continue to go through so much in life, both good and bad, and he promises her that they will get through it together, again adding, "I will never cheat on you."

He's seen the damage it's caused, and he knows that he never wants to cause his wife that kind of hurt, regardless of the circumstances. It was the most moving scene in this episode. It shows love at it's finest hour.

This says a lot because watching Crosby deal with the ramifications of his actions, knowing how his one night stand has ruined his life, and his families lives, hits him hard. Yet he cannot turn back time. He tries to talk to his fiance, who wants nothing to do with anything that he has to say. He has to try and mend things, and to protect his son. He and his son have a moment on his house boat, where we see that he's finally gotten it and is willing to work for forgiveness, and it's a good, solid moment.

Finally, characters Christina and Adam have to explain to their son, Max, that he has Asperger's, that it is in the autism spectrum, and what having autism means. It's similar to the incident in the movie Parenthood, where the parents get called into school to hear that their son has emotional issues. As parents, we never expect our children to have problems. It's always going to be someone else's kid. When it's our child, we have to deal with our own emotions and feelings, while also thinking about how what we say and do is effecting our child.

We see the disappointment in Max when he learns that he is different, and that he will always have Asperger's. We see his parents, who are torn up about explaining this to Max, their marriage getting pushed and pulled around as they try to negotiate how to best follow-up with Max after their initial conversation. The episode ends with Christina reading Max to sleep, and her husband cozying up beside her, resting his head against her, comforted.

In both the marriages, we see the strength that exists in real, honest love. With the struggles, the problems, and all the stresses, they manage to sift through it all and find each other, time and time again. They open themselves up to vulnerability, and become each other's soft place to fall. They commit to each other every step of the way, in a loving, trusting way. They don't try to hurt each other or win arguments, but instead strive to protect their relationship.

As I write this, I am thinking about the ways in which I can be a better mother to my son, and a better partner to my boyfriend. I am thinking about what it means to love someone, and how I express my love. Mostly, I am thankful for the family that I have, and the love that exists within it. I will commit to working to protect that with every ounce of my being.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

To Take the Cake, Bake the Baby

(Tonight is Parenthood Tuesday. I can't wait.)


I am itching to make my very first King Cake. I was recently at the party supply store and noticed Mardi Gras ornaments for sale, and it got me thinking about King Cake. I've never tasted it, or even been anywhere that it was served. I read about it for the first time a year or two ago, and also saw it on display at my local grocery store, King's (oddly enough). I read a bit about the history (click here), and retained this: it's got something to do with the time between Christmas and Mardi Gras, or maybe twelfth night, and something regarding the three kings. It's often decorated with the colors of Mardi Gras: purple, yellow, and green. And often, a baby representing the baby Jesus is baked (hidden) into the cake, otherwise, they use a bean or a pecan. The person who gets him in their piece has a year of good luck, and is responsible for baking the cake the following year.


"There are as many King Cake recipes as their are bakers," wrote one of the bakers who reviewed a King Cake recipe on foodtv.com. Now I am a baker, for sure, but the King Cake recipes make me nervous. They all require making your own dough with yeast, and then kneading or rolling out the dough. I just don't know.


I want to try and make the King Cake. I've even found the plastic baby to put inside, but can I really make this dough? All that work, is it worth it? Is the King Cake really that good? If it is, then I am happy to try and make it. I love a good recipe from scratch, but if it's just eh, well then it'd serve me just as well to make it Sandra Lee's way.


I can't believe I just said that. Sandra Lee. The throw-it-together-and-call-it-handmade celebrity chef (and girlfriend of Governor Cuomo) Sandra Lee. Making a Sandra Lee recipe is like popping some slice and bake cookies in the oven and then saying you baked them. Um, no. You didn't. You stuck them in the oven. That sort of faux baking horrifies me, but with this recipe I am tempted.


Emeril Lagasse should be my go to guy, I mean he did write the book, Emeril's New New Orlean's Cooking. But his recipe is hard. Like, hard hard. Do you have a recipe you are willing to share with me?


The more I think about it, the more I realize that I just can't make that Sandra Lee recipe. It's cheap, and it's cheating. I have to keep looking. Something deep inside me will not let me cheat on this one. If I'm going to make a King Cake, just because, and for the very first time, I should actually make the damn cake.  I've just found an easier Emeril recipe for King Cake, listed just below the super hard one on the Food Network website. It looks like it's worth a try. It's made mostly in the mixer with the dough hook attachment, which seems like a good thing. I thought it would be more like a cinnamon bun, but this seems to be the right recipe. I mean, Emeril would know, and the reviews are spectacular. I am adding 2 t cinnamon -- stole that from another recipe -- to sprinkle on the dough just before shaping it into a ring, and swapping the cream cheese (blech!) for mascarpone. W likes cinnamon rolls so these changes will make the recipe taste more like them. I will be making mine the day before Fat Tuesday, which falls on March 8th this year. I've posted the recipe for you, with my modifications noted with a DG, below. 


Oh, and just because I've found this doesn't mean I'm stopping here. Please send me your favorite King Cake recipe, and I will be sure and blog about it for you. 



Ingredients

  • 2 packages dry active yeast
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 cup warm milk (110 degrees F)
  • 4 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 t cinnamon (my addition, DG)
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • Vegetable oil
  • 8 ounces cream cheese (I will use mascarpone, DG)
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • Purple, green and gold sugar sprinkles
  • Plastic baby toy




Directions

      Preheat the oven 350 degrees F. 
Combine the yeast, sugar, butter, and egg yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the milk. With the mixer on low speed, beat the mixture for about 4 minutes to dissolve the yeast. If the yeast mixture doesn't begin to foam after a few minutes, it means it's not active and will have to be replaced. In a separate large mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, nutmeg, and lemon zest. Add this mixture to the yeast mixture. Mix on low speed until it lightly comes together, then increase the speed to medium and beat until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the bowl, forms a ball, and climbs slightly up the dough hook. 
Remove the dough from the bowl. Coat the dough with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl and turn it to oil all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, set in a warm, draft-free place, and let rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours. 
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the cream cheese (I will use mascarpone. DG)cream cheese filling across the center of the dough. Bring the two long edges together and seal all sides completely. 
Using your hands shape the dough into a long cylinder and place on a greased baking sheet, seam side down. Sprinkle dough with 2 t cinnamon. DG Shape the dough into a ring. Place a well-greased 2 pound coffee can or shortening can in the center of the ring to maintain the shape during baking. Press the plastic baby toy into the ring from the bottom so that it is completely hidden by the dough. Cover the ring with a towel and place in a warm, draft free place. Let the dough rise for about 45 minutes or until the dough doubles in size. With a sharp knife, make several slits around the top of the ring. Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. After baking remove the coffee can immediately. Allow the cake to cool. Drizzle the cake with the sugar glaze. Sprinkle the cake with sprinkles, alternating colors. Cut the cake into individual pieces and serve.