Oh, what we must go through to buy some groceries

Deep thinkers throughout the ages have devoted themselves to solving the mysteries of life.  Where are these guys when you are trying to find your car keys?

Anxious moments are spent looking on top of the fridge and in drawers (stopping to put the cap on the toothpaste and straightening pictures on the wall) then finally all hopes exhausted, there they lay…inside a sweaty tennis shoe, under a pile of wet towels in the the laundry basket.

As usual I was in my typical morning panic.  There was nothing in the pantry to make a decent kid’s lunch.  So I had to cleverly create with the half-wrapped saltines way in the back.  I slapped them together with honey.  I sequestered all the loose grapes in the bottom of the fruit bowl and threw them in a baggy.  Thank goodness there was a string cheese stuck in the corner of the fridge light bulb and a lone pickle in the pickle jar.  No drink.  Do you think she will mind?

Who am I kidding?  I will hear about this rotten lunch for days.  There is no more dragging my feet.  I have got to buy some groceries.

It was of no comfort to me whatsoever knowing that I had found my car keys only to have misplaced the grocery store coupon book.  Without it, I knew the consequences: looking around each isle cautiously, as an on-slaught of little red tags attached to all the items I need that day wag their tongues at me chanting, “What a dim bulb you are for missing all these exceptional savings.”

I dropped everything and took a deep breath and tore through the house.  I couldn’t leave without it.

Twenty minutes later I finally arrive at the store.  Grabbing a cart (which by the fourth aisle is a third full of groceries)the wheel wobbles and squeaks.  (Why me?  I always get the bent fork at dinner, too.)  I breathed a sigh of relief when I remembered what a luxury it was to shop without children.

It is downright expensive to grocery shop with that toddler strapped to the front of the cart.

Your mind is trying to decipher a mathematical equation “Is the two for $5 a good deal?” when out yells, “I’ve got to go to the bathroom. Now.”

After three turns down the isle you have noticed 17 items, “sticky fingers” has flung in the cart, a headache and a broken vinegar bottle you left in the last aisle.  You spend more time picking them up and putting them back in the cart than shopping.  You end the whining and get the cookie, only to have them take one bite and fling it.

It was bad enough that they insisted on wearing the Halloween cape they have had on every day for 40 days and nights and the Burger King crown. By the time you get to the check-out stand, your hair is standing on end and you have spend the entire month’s budget.

Call it woman’s intuition, but I’ve never trusted the grocery clerk who is chewing gum and wants to talk about everything you’re buying.

“Hmmm, I see were having pork chops tonight,”they say knowingly.  They tilt their head and accusingly ask if you’re going to have those canned cherries for dessert, too.  Or, they hand you the candy bar with a little wink and say, “Bet you want this now.”

‘Ohhh, nooo,”you say, “Throw it in the sack.”  Even though it is the only thing you have thought clearly about all day- but the heck if you’re going to let this squirrely guy know that.

Or the box boy who thinks he can stuff your $100 groceries all into one bag, and is proud of it.

But my personal favorite is the guy who picks up the perfect peach you spent 10 minutes checking for bruises, and rolls it down the counter as you watch it bang against the wall.  Then the box boy picks it up, throws it in the air and slam dunks it into the grocery sack and whole time they are talking to each other about that lousy clerk who takes too many breaks.

You know life is out of control when your only form of entertainment is to find the longest line and speed read every magazine in sight, hoping the clerk doesn’t pick you to start a new line so you can finish that article on Jean Claude Van Damme.  Or when you see a magazine you would love to have and suddenly realize that you do and it has been sitting on the coffee table for a week and you have never opened it.

For a reason I can never understand, I always get the box boy who walks out behind me pushing my loaded cart, and when I reach my car I turn around and he is across the parking lot following another woman.

But I know we agree, the best part is getting them home and finding someone else to take them out of the car!

Oh, by the way, since school is out early tomorrow, maybe when the kids come home we should have an extra special lunch, considering…


This crunchy stir-fry is easy to put together.

1-1/2 cups cooked, chopped chicken

1 -10-oz package frozen stir-fry vegetables

1/4 cup water

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 cup orange juice

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1  3-oz can chow mein noodles

Mix in saucepan chicken, vegetables, water and ginger.  Stir.

Set pan on medium-high heat.  Cook till bubbly.  Cover. Turn to low heat cook five minutes.

In bowl, put orange juice and cornstarch.  Stir.  Stir juice mixture into chicken mixture.  Cook and stir till thick and bubbly.  Then cook and stir for two minutes more.

For each serving, arrange one quarter of the chow mein noodles on each plate.  Spoon the chicken mixture over the noodles.  Makes four servings.


Remodeling project can complicate life in kitchen

My shoulders sagged, my mouth was drawn and tears filled my eyes. I sat cowering in the corner of my airline seat.  I would be gone only three days visiting a relative, but the car was barely out of the driveway when my husband announced his plans.

“What are you going to do with yourself?” I lovingly asked my husband, as he drove the car.

Coughing slightly, he whispered. “Move the washer and dryer out of the kitchen.”

My head jerked up and my eyes flashed widely. “What!  Oh no, don’t start any remodeling projects while I’m gone,” I pleaded.

But I knew it was too late.  The look was there.  As I sat in my airline seat I envision what was going to happen.

I suppose I have myself to blame.  If I hadn’t been so vocal about the fact that some fool who designed the house put the most used appliance (the washer and dryer) in a 58 3/4-inch space inside a closet!  In the kitchen?

May that person be cursed with a bread board on top of their silverware drawer.

You see, for years I had struggled with this dilemma.  Dragging the dirty laundry down the hall, squeezing it into the washer with naturally no place to put it after the dryer cycle but on the kitchen table.

Did this architect just assume that the kitchen table would be empty? Architect, you are either naive on the subject of living space or think that games, toys, bills, mails, keys and fondue forks have drawers with their names on them.

Naturally, on my busiest of laundry days the doorbell rings.  I tiptoe to the curtain, peek through, and there stands Aunt Mable and Aunt Violet who have never been to my home and I haven’t seen in two years.

You know darn well that they won’t stop at ringing the bell, they will be turning the door knob next.  Of course, they will give you the obligatory “Don’t worry about your messy house, dear, we just came to see you”as their eyes roam wildly about in fright.

Desperately I swooped the laundry off the table after kicking the table contents under the floor mat.  I race down the hall and fling the laundry onto my bed.

They don’t leave until 11:30 p.m that night.  Somehow, managing to keep them out of the bedroom, exhausted I collapse.  Too tired to fold the laundry I gently roll them on to the floor where they mingle and mate with dirty clothes and I realized the next day to my dismay I have to start the entire process again.

But now the problem had worsened.  My husband, the world’s handiest handyman- Not!- was tired of hearing the whining and had decided to do his favorite project – FORMICA.  This man learned how to apply Formica on toilet partitions during a part-time job in college.  He has had the fever ever since.  We have in a lovely array of colors, a Formica coffee table, sewing table, chest of drawers, closet door and TV trays.  I have no idea what wood looks like.

I had an inkling that by removing the washer and dryer would leave a large (well 58 3/4- inch gap) in our kitchen.  What does this mean? I will tell you what it means.  A total kitchen remodel!

Lucky you say? Huh.  I don’t think I will be seeing Granite counters and oak cabinets.  Oh no, it will be FORMICA.

CROCKPOT DINNER  Cooks all day while your husband destroys your kitchen into no-man’s land. You need a Crockpot.  Remodeling?  Get one soon.

2 lbs. stew meat, cut in 1-inch cubes

1/4 cup flour

1 – 1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

1-1/2 cups beef broth

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1 bay leave

1 tsp. paprika

4 carrots, sliced

3 potatoes, diced

2 onions, chopped

1 stalk celery, sliced

Place stew meat in Crockpot.  Mix flour, salt and pepper, pour over meat; stir to coat.  Add remaining ingredients and stir.  Cover and cook on low 10 to 12 hours