21 November, 2014  |   11 Comments

Didn’t see THAT coming…

This week, a dear friend wrote a blog post about a book I’d bought on sale. The post went viral. I have taken great lengths to duck out of the whole thing as much as possible.

Pamie, however is dealing with all the attention like a pro.
(Probably because she IS a pro.)

This week I sent three proposals and presented a business plan. A friend had a baby. That was cool. I wrote a few press releases, client copy and drove to a lunch meeting. This week I hosted 8 people for bridge. Last night, I went to a birthday party, where we gathered around to watch my family on yesterday morning’s Good Morning America. Tonight we have another party to attend, and tomorrow, another one after that. It’s a busy week.

"Mama, tell me about the time you gave your Barbie a haircut."

This whole Barbie thing has been both embarrassing and fun. I got to see how this silly thing grew and grew and eventually my Google Alert sent me a CNN article about the whole thing in Portugese.

I ain’t mad at Barbie. I’m mad at a culture — especially a digital culture — that devalues women except for how they present themselves visually and sexually.

Most of my friends find this whole viral thing thrilling.
I’ve discovered that this just makes my stomach hurt.

Flight or fight.

As of today, I’m 80 percent closer to taking everything personal I ever wrote off the internet. This is because thanks to my view of this news machine from the inside, I’m afraid. I’ve never been afraid of the internet before.

At this particular time in the internet’s history, anyone with a beef against me, no matter how big or small, can take anything I’ve posted from the last 15 years online and use it as evidence of my… terribleness.

Yep, maybe that thing I wrote when I was 23 was sort of racist/offensive/stupid in hindsight. But I’ll be held to the standard of today’s context-blind digital mobs, not held to the standard of my small group of internet friends.

It’s just too risky.

I’m too scared of misrepresentation.
I’m too scared of what the evidence will tell you about me.

I read no comments about this whole thing.
I’m scared of those too.

(Here is where the voice in my head says, “Oh GOD SHUT UP HELEN JANE, get a backbone, stop your bitching, you were a part of it, own it you cow.”)

When it comes to watching the information machine craft, churn and amplify, I’m not convinced I want to be a part of it anymore.

Are you an enthusiastic member of today’s digital sharer?
Convince me not to box this whole thing up and put it away.

20 November, 2014  |   1 Comment

Thanksgiving Budget 2014

Thanksgiving 2013Next week is Thanksgiving. One of our guests is a chef, so my competitive side is coming out. I’m like that. With my guests. Stop talking Helen Jane.

Anyway, Thanksgiving Budget. I have a bad habit about prying into money matters so it’s only fair that I share some details with you. We did it back in 2011 and we’re doing it again — $260 — a huge amount of money for Thanksgiving — here’s how we’re spending out and cheaping out on the budget this year.


Spend out

Cheap out


Table settings


Yesterday I outlined how the wine money gets divvied out. I forgot to add that we always have a bottle of sparkling apple cider for the kids. They love joining in the toast. This will sate 5 grownups and one hairy dog.


The kids always make something amazing for the table — plus! We have some leftover gourds from Halloween!


Cornbread & Dinner Rolls


As in 2011, I’m spending the most on our bird. This year I bought the bird for a youth group fundraiser, but our local FFA also raises turkeys for sale. Yours might too!


We’ll make less expensive cornbread — and I’m not shy about telling a helpful guest that they could bring the dinner rolls.

Vegetables and fruits



We make an extra big veggie purchase before the big day to accommodate all our sides. I make the cranberry sauce a week in advance and use the toaster oven to roast the sprouts.


Mashed potato supplies will run me a little less than $5 this year. For this, I am thankful.

Cheese & Appetizers



I prioritize guests and snacks. This year we’re putting out some Franklin Teleme, spiced pecans and dried cranberries with some Nut Thins. Easy. Done.


Pumpkin pie is another one of those Thanksgiving things that guests are happy to supply. As a host, I want to make sure I have ice cream, whipped cream and coffee on hand.

Day after Thanksgiving meals

Thanksgiving day meals


I include the “day after” budget as well because I’m spending that cash all in one go. We like our sandwiches on bakery bread with the good bacon.


On the actual Thanksgiving day, we eat cheap. Fruit or cereal for breakfast. Snacks for lunch. Save that cash for the big meal

20 November, 2014  |   3 Comments

Wine Wednesday: Thanksgiving Edition

Back in 2011 I set a Thanksgiving budget and we stuck to it. The budget’s a little less this year – about a third less – and for that we’re lucky and three cheers for Thanksgiving! Tomorrow, I’ll go through this year’s budget.

Our wine budget is now around $60 for the big day. I know! I ain’t complaining. We’re making it work with these three bottles of the wine I’ve been drinking lately for work and fun.

2013 Giesen Riesling
Giesen Riesling
I know, I know I should be drinking American to kick off this meal, but with the way things went with Lord of the Rings, it seems like New Zealand could be, like, at least part American. With a low alcohol point (12.5%) this is the perfect wine for kicking off the holidays but maintaining your cool. Good for people who say they don’t like sweet wine but secretly do. Round, floral and delicious, sip it when the kids are wrassling within eyeshot. Costs about $13.

2012 Niner Pinot Noir


Costs about $30. Pinot Noir makes the millennials happy, it makes your Gen X aunt happy, it makes your snooty brother happy. This one is a great deal, coming from the on point Paso Robles region of California — from a shiny new winery. It’s balanced, it’s got a slight cranberry taste that makes Stove Top sing.

2012 Renwood Zinfandel
Zinfandel wine powerhouses Renwood make American wine from a truly American grape. Their winemaker is one of Wine Enthusiast’s 40 under 40. Youth is also an American value! Bold and tasty — it works to punctuate your end of meal political “discussions.” Plus, Zinfandel is just fun to say. Costs nearly $20.

18 November, 2014  |   1 Comment

She used to wink.

Her thumb, tho.

The autograph book came with Country Western Barbie. She had a large, flat button in her back. When you pushed it, her blue eyelid would drop over her eye.

Eventually it broke.
Or we broke it, depending.

As I keep getting older, I find myself wanting to take Country Western Barbie out for a drink.

Find out what she’s been up to.
See who she’s been winking at.

17 November, 2014  |   1 Comment

Mom Things

Top three annoying Mom Things, Helen Jane Edition:

1. Only talking to you as you leave the room
Cinco de Mayo Performance
Why? Why do moms the world over pick up this habit?
Is it that my first words to my children were as they left my womb?
Maybe I just enjoyed that experience that I want to repeat it every day in every room. I loved it so much that I do it to my husband, coworkers and guests.

If you’re on the way out, that’s when I want to tell you the most important piece of information.

And I’m sorry.

2. Snack listing
Guessing game snack
Oh, did you mention you were hungry?
Let me give you a running tabulation of every possible computation of snack that’s available in our pantry and refrigerator.
Now. I will keep going.

I will start with healthy snacks and then
move to leftovers and then
finally, I shall list all of the things I’m happy to whip up for you with just a little time and effort.

As I inherited this from my mother, I give myself my own teenaged reply, “GAH. I’LL GET IT MYSELF.”

3. Embarrassing Vacuuming
Dorothy rocks
Somehow, vacuuming went from an activity that I did purposefully with a straightforward motion to an activity I just “HAVE TO ENJOY!!!”
(Three exclamation marks mandatory.)

Earlier in my life, I removed the vacuum from the closet, unwound the cord and pushed on, cleaning floors in a focused manner.

But now, now I vacuum with flourish, I dance with it, I poke the vacuum at peoples’ feet, I sing.

I’m a vacuuming fairy with all the shit that goes with it. And I will embarrass you. You will feel embarrassed for me when you see me do it and if you are my child, you will die of mortification on the spot, just die. VACUUM!!!

I know you have them. Even if you’re not a Mom, you have Mom things. Even if you’re a Dad or a pet-owner or an owner of an aging human body, you have Mom things.

So confess! What are those things? What are your Mom things?

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