Saturday, December 10, 2011

Ask The Park Wife: Not From Scratch Cookies

Is making cookies from a bag (like Betty Crocker's sugar or choc. chip) qualify for homemade? Upnorth

Dear Upnorth,
I would have to say NO. But, that does not mean that they are not tasty and completely acceptable to serve. You could doctor them up a bit or if you are taking them to a party, put a few minutes into the presentation.

But, as with everything in life, be upfront and honest. When I get compliments on pre-made food, which just has to happen sometimes when you have kids and 3,248 other things to get done in a day (I hear all my foodie friends GASPING ), I say,  "I was up all night making that". Then I say, not really, and tell them what brand it is.

As if we as women need one more thing to feel inadequate about, girl, just get that roll of dough and pop them in the oven.  Remember, it is the thought that counts and the people you want to surround yourself with in this life will be perfectly happy with Betty Crocker as long as you are there with them.

The Park Wife, who will never be featured on the Food Network

It is better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live an imitation of somebody else’s life with perfection. ~ The Bhagavad Gita

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Ask The Park Wife: Holiday Guests

Park Wife, please help!  I have family coming in for Christmas. We drink decaf coffee, they like regular.  We use 2% milk, they like whole.  We eat cereal, they cook a full breakfast everyday.  We don't drink wine, they have a glass every night.  Am I expected to buy new coffee, milk and stock my liquor cabinet? Should I get up and make breakfast everyday? I want them to feel 'at home' and I don't want to make them mad but I still want to stick to my grocery budget. Julie

Oh Julie, you might as well readjust your grocery plan to include Ramen Noodles for the remainder of the month. Yes, if you are hosting guest in your home, you will need to make some adjustments for hospitality sake.

With that said, there are ways to make them feel welcome without TOTALLY messing up your routine or breaking the bank. I recommend that you make a nice basket to have in the kitchen when they arrive with a small thing of coffee, a nice, yet affordable bottle of wine, and make some kind of breakfast pastry so they will have something to nibble on when they wake up and you guys are still warm under the covers. I am sure you can think of a few other affordable things to put in the basket according to what you know about your guests. If all else fails, you can print out a map with directions to the nearest Waffle House, I jest.

I don't think you have to go overboard, but you will need to do your best to make them feel welcome in your home. And, that might require an early rise, some extra caffeine and a couple of wine glasses in the sink.

Happy Entertaining,
The Park Wife

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Ask The Park Wife: Children's Manners

Dear Park Wife,

We have been invited to a holiday party at the home of my husband's boss. There will be a sit down dinner. Here is the kicker, they have invited our children too!!! I am worried that they will spit out the food, talk with their mouthes full or say something inappropriate. What do I do?
Shaking Like A Leaf in Missouri

The Park Wife responds:

Sweetie, Rome was not built in a day, but don't plan your conniption fit yet. You are going to be able to make it through so that your husband will still be employed by the end of the night. At least I hope, the economy is bad, so sistah start NOW!

How I see it, you have two options: 1- Tell your hostess that you and your spouse would love to come, however, the kids are quiet busy with school, sports, science project, basket weaving, trying to secure their space on Santa's NICE list, etc or 2- Have a "manners bootcamp" from now until the party time. Make it fun, but keep them focused on what is expected of them. Hit the big things like please and thank you, no elbows on table and basic dinner conversation.

The night of the party, have a pre-party refresher (additionally, you may bribe and threaten to take away their Ipad, oh wait, that was my secret). I think you will be able to limp through, HOWEVER, manners like all child training is not a one time thing, it is on-going.  They might go through a rebellious stage where they want to chew gum like a horse, don't freak, just get a bit tighter on your training regimen. A glimmer of HOPE,  I have never seen a child with well-mannered parents who grew into an adult completely devoid of social grace

Good luck and I hope they don't serve spaghetti,
The Park Wife