The soundtrack of 43 years

When I flash back to any age over the last 43 years, the music I was listening to comes floating in like a radio station from the past. I’m in a reflective mood, okay? I still have a soft spot for all these songs.

Baby to Age 7: The early years aka the ’70s

Most of my music-listening at this age was happening inside my mom’s big silver Oldsmobile with the burgundy interior. Chance of wearing a seatbelt: 50%.

  • Sister Golden Hair Surprise by America

Ages 8 – 10: The wonder years

Rollerskating and Chinese jump rope in the driveway, Barbies in the basement and riding my purple bike with a flowered banana seat everywhere (no helmets back then). All the cool girls had a pink Huffy. I was still playing 45s which were 54 cents at Kmart. 

  • Abracadabra by Steve Miller Band
  • Magic by Olivia Newton-John
  • Bette Davis Eyes by Kim Carnes
  • The Tide is High by Blondie

Ages 10 – 13: The tween years aka the mid-’80s

I had graduated to albums. I had Purple Rain, Men At Work, Olivia Newton-John and The Big Chill soundtrack on vinyl. Now I was riding my red 10-speed everywhere (still no helmets!), buying Sno-Cones from the Sno-Cone Boy who rode his cart around our neighborhood ringing a hand-held bell (I don’t think it rained once that summer), listening to Purple Rain endlessly, and going to the pool and then Dairy Queen with my friend Kim and her mother. I spent a lot of time in my room playing my albums and growing collection of 45s on the sweet stereo system I got for Christmas. It also had a dual cassette player. Oh snap! 

  • When Doves Cry by Prince
  • If This Is It by Huey Lewis (loved the video)
  • The Reflex by Duran Duran
  • Beat It by Michael Jackson
  • Africa by Toto
  • Heat of the Moment by Asia
  • One Night in Bangkok by Murray Head
  • Don’t You Forget About Me by Simple Minds from the Breakfast Club soundtrack
  • Pretty In Pink and Ghost in You by Psychedelic Furs
  • Whiter Shade of Pale by Procol Harum
  • She’s Crafty and Brass Monkey by the Beastie Boys

Ages 14 – 17:  The high school years aka the late ’80s

This was definitely a time marked by music, all on cassette, so mostly played on a Sony Walkman and then later in my Mazda 626. I was the new girl in a high school that was a quarter the size of my old one.  Wearing big hoop earrings like Jody Watley. I was discovering stuff like A Clockwork Orange, River’s Edge, Pink Floyd’s The Wall and Heathers, but also watching some mainstream stuff like 90210, L.A. Law and thirtysomethibng  Got my first jobs working the register at The Book Barn and then also bussing tables at Deja Vu Cafe during the summer. Loved both those jobs. 

  • Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd
  • Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata
  • The Killing Moon, Lips Like Sugar and Bring on the Dancing Horses by Echo and the Bunnymen
  • Cuts You Up by Peter Murphy
  • Just Like Honey by Jesus and Mary Chain
  • Blister in the Sun by Violent Femmes
  • Mandinka by Sinead O’Connor
  • True Faith by New Order
  • Hazy Shade of Winter from the Less Than Zero soundtrack
  • Within Your Reach by The Replacements from the Say Anything soundtrack
  • In Your Eyes by Peter Gabriel from the Say Anything soundtrack
  • Just Can’t Get Enough and Never Let Me Down Again by Depeche Mode
  • How Soon is Now by The Smiths
  • Love Will Tear Us Apart by Joy Division
  • everything on The Joshua Tree and Rattle & Hum by U2

Ages 17 – 21: The college years aka the early ’90s

Even though I attended Ohio State for 4.5 years, I have more memories of working at my many part-time jobs–waiting tables at The Hickory House, 55 Grille, the Estee Lauder counter–than of being in class. Looking back, it feels like I was sleep-walking. Just busy working and figuring things out. 

  • Waiting for Somebody by The Replacements from the Singles soundtrack
  • Mr. Cab Driver and Are You Gonna Go My Way? by Lenny Kravitz
  • Greatest hits of Simon & Garfunkel

Ages 22 – 26: The L.A. years

Thousands of miles away from home, I was either listening to the greatest hits of Nina Simone in my one-room apartment in West L.A. or driving all over Los Angeles in my black Toyota Celica with the broken driver’s side door but bitchin’ sound system listening to Nick Cave. Work, gym, home. Or work, film premiere or screening, home. Or on the weekends, gym, Starbucks, mall, home. Rinse. Repeat. For four years. During this time, I started to hear about mp3s. Didn’t think they’d catch on.

  • Feeling Good, Here Comes the Sun, I Want a Little Sugar in my Bowl and Sinnerman by Nina Simone
  • Everything In Its Right Place by Radiohead from the Vanilla Sky soundtrack
  • Into My Arms by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
  • I Grieve by Peter Gabriel from the City of Angels soundtrack
  • the entire Out of Sight soundtrack
  • Sara by Fleetwood Mac
  • Couldn’t Love You More by Sade

Ages 27 – 30: The coming home years aka the reckoning

Failed at 27, starting over. Reeling, I was making tons of mixed CDs using Napster. I lived at home for a year and then had a great apartment in the heart of Grandview, in the middle of cool bars and restaurants. I was back to waiting tables at a cute restaurant across the street. I’d get off around midnight, my legs sore from 8 hours of non-stop fast-walking and stress, and then stalk around my apartment drinking a cold bottle of Sierra Nevada. That beer goes straight to my legs. It’s better than Ben-Gay for sore muscles. Working at go-nowhere jobs, doing crossword puzzles and teaching Spinning classes. This was a vivid, alive time in my life. 

  • La Cienega Just Smiled by Ryan Adams
  • Essence by Lucinda Williams
  • It’s a Motherfucker by The Eels
  • California Stars by Jeff Tweedy
  • Bambaleo by the Gipsy Kings
  • King of Pain by Sting
  • Yellow by Coldplay
  • Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley
  • Lots of Moby and Pete Yorn
  • Angel by Dave Matthews Band

Ages 30 – 33: New hope years

I met my husband, bought a cute bungalow in Clintonville, found a great job. I was listening to CDs in my dream car, a black VW Cabrio convertible, and on my first Apple shuffle, a thing I wore around my neck on a shoelace when I went running. I was happy.

  • Sweet Thing by Van Morrison
  • You Can Have It All by Yo La Tengo
  • Post-Paint Boy by Stephen Malkmus
  • Jesus, Etc. by Wilco
  • Lil Wallet Picture by Richard Buckner

Ages 34 – 42: Being a mom years

Music became a lot about what I was going to sing to my baby girl and then my baby boy. And maybe what I would listen to during my more infrequent but longer runs, including a marathon and a couple halfs. And now that my daughter is 8 and prefers to play DJ, it’s really all about Taylor Swift and Meaghan Trainor. The kids also love the Beastie Boys. It’s all about iTunes now. 

  • In My Life by the Beatles
  • You’ve Got a Friend by Carole King
  • The River by Joni Mitchell
  • The Greatest by R. Kelly
  • Harvest Moon by Neil Young
  • Hey Tonight by Credence Clearwater Revival (only in warm weather)
  • everything by The National
  • everything by Sturgill Simpson
  • Call Your Girlfriend by Robyn

Age 43: The here and now years

Here’s what I’ve been listening to this summer:

  • Can’t Stop the Feeling by Justin Timberlake
  • So Much It Hurts by Nikki and the Dove
  • Play It On the Radio by Nikki and the Dove
  • Follow Me, Follow You by Genesis
  • Simple Things, Hollywood Dreams, Leaves and Waves (feat. Kacey Musgraves) by Miguel
  • Cruel Summer by Bananarama
  • Love Me Like You Do by Ellie Goulding
  • Are You Alright? by Lucinda Williams

Dinner A Love Story: Porcupine Meatballs

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I discovered the Bon Appetit podcast back in April. Love it. If you like podcasts, I highly recommend. One of their guests is a woman named Jenny Rosenstrach. She’s a magazine writer / working mom / cookbook writer / blogger. I really got into her Dinner: A Love Story blog while we were on vacation in July so I bought her book.

It’s the kind of book I read in bed at night, like a novel. She has a great writing style and I relate to her laments about parenting, her memories of growing up in the 80s, trying to have some semblance of a solid dinner tradition as a working mother.  There are a few notable differences though. Her husband sounds a little more…. how can I put this…on the same page? She doesn’t seem to have to report to an office every day, although she did when her kids were younger. And her family is more open-minded about food. For starters.

Last week, I made her Porcupine Meatballs. I thought for sure I could get a win with this on name alone. It calls for uncooked rice in the meatballs, so as they braise in a sweet tomato sauce (tomato juice, brown sugar, a dash of Worcestershire sauce) the rice puffs and sticks out of the meatball like the spikes on a porcupine. It tastes sort of like stuffed red peppers.

I got home late and immediately set to work. It was 8 p.m. when we sat down.

The Verdict: One kid ended up sobbing in their room. The other went to bed hungry. Husband said “at least it was meat” and returned to the couch. I thought it was fine. But does it really matter?

16 great summertime movies

The arrival of summer makes me want to do certain things. Such as wear crisp black and white, or my raggedy denim cutoffs. Listen to Niki & The Dove and Bananarama. Eat BLTs, watermelon, cheeseburgers and things with pesto. Drink red sangria. And watch the movies I consider summertime classics.

In making this list, I noticed some common themes. They often include the presence of Richard Dreyfuss, a Kenny Loggins song, Sam Neill or Laura Dern or both, people looking appropriately flushed or damp, an anxiety-ridden scene around a middle-class kitchen table, and a great soundtrack.

Here are my favorites:


You can usually find Jaws playing on some random cable channel. I like the first half of the movie best: all the beach scenes with Roy running around blowing his whistle and pissing off the mayor, and the kitchen table scenes with him looking all swarthy and worried. You just know they don’t have air conditioning.


I’ve really warmed up to this one over the years. Now, it doesn’t feel like a proper summer unless I watch it at least once.


Baby’s jean cutoffs and Keds. The soundtrack. The dancing. I carried a watermelon. The parents who just don’t understand. Come ON!


It just FEELS like summer in this movie, even though the kids are obviously in school. Running away will never make it right. But anything worth my love is worth a fight. I’m free!


Creepy hijinks on a sun-dappled sea. Foreboding music. Nicole Kidman running around with flushed cheeks. Billy Zane playing a salty dog lunatic. Sam Neill barely saying a word. I’ve never stopped loving you, Dead Calm.


Again, we have Richard Dreyfuss playing a dry-humored, know-better hero. I prefer the first half of this movie, when it’s all beige and humid and 70s-ish. And Teri Garr!


The family goes to movies. They go for ice cream. They go boating. Reminds me of my childhood (except for the scary Robert DeNiro parts).


My favorite scenes are of the caddies just hanging out as part of their summer job. “Then you don’t get no Coke.”


I remember seeing this in the theater and being so blown away. Haven’t seen in years (it’s rarely on TV). Seems to perpetually take place in summer — either idyllic balmy small-town summer or a hazy wartime oven.


Compared to most others on this list, Ruby in Paradise is small and quiet and I’ve only seen it once or twice. A Sundance Film Festival winner and one of Ashley Judd’s first films. Her breakout role maybe. She’s a self-possessed but lost soul who gets random jobs in beach junk stores and tries to figure out her life.


I consider this a late summer movie, when you’re starting to crave fall and spookiness. A cross-over pick, meaning it’s also on my list of favorite Halloween movies. If it’s on, I’m watching it.


Another small movie that for whatever reason resonated with me. Diane Lane is a repressed housewife in the 1960s who falls for cool alternative hippie Viggo in — you guessed — the summertime. Great soundtrack!




I won’t insult you.


I rediscovered the fun of Jurassic Park last summer when my kids got into it in preparation for the Chris Pratt dino-buster (which we also dug).


Cornfields. Baseball. Aliens. A foreboding family dinner around a sad looking kitchen table where everyone is on edge while eating fried chicken and mashed potatoes. Signs has all the elements! I have a soft spot for M. Night.

*I would also include Point Break, T2: Judgement Day, Field of Dreams and Top Gun on this list except that I pretty much watch those year-round.

And you know which summer-esque movie I’m craving? Sleeping with the Enemy. Bring it on, DirectTV! Maybe it will make next year’s list.





Butter chicken 


This is called “Easy Butter Chicken” on Simply Scratch’s blog, and it IS pretty easy. This morning, I chopped up a bunch of boneless chicken thighs, tossed the 1-inch chunks with full-fat Greek yogurt and some fresh lemon juice and threw it in the fridge to marinate for the day. When I got home, the whole mess goes in the pot with sautéed fresh ginger, minced garlic, a bunch of spices (most notably garam masala and cayenne), tomato puree and a can of coconut milk. Store-bought naan warmed in the toaster and dinner is served!

Recipe here.

Happy Mother’s Day

My mom is a baby whisperer. She did day care in her home through most of her 30s and has always had a way with kids.

She has certainly always been able to make my kids laugh. They are drawn to her and couldn’t adore her more. I’m so fortunate to have her in my life, to help me learn the ropes of motherhood and give me advice as my babies grow up.

Mom, you were mom and dad for many years. Thanks for giving us a beautiful childhood and for showing me how to be a loving parent.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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Before and After: Wood floors

I thought it would never happen.

But it did!

Eight years after moving in, we finally got wood floors on the main floor.

Earlier this year, as we were looking at ways to spruce up the living room and kitchen, it felt like anything we did would be like putting lipstick on a pig if we didn’t touch the floors. So we did the floors.

To say they knew me in the flooring store is an understatement. But it’s a big decision and if you end up with something you don’t like, you’re kind of stuck with it.

Thank goodness, we like them. A lot.

Here’s the reveal!




The wood has to acclimate in your house (not in your garage or basement) for at least a week.




I wanted mixed-width, a matte finish, lots of variation in the color, and lots of imperfections. I’m really happy with it, and with the job the contractor did.

Next, I’d love to paint the kitchen island and cupboards, change the countertops, install a gas range and double ovens, paint the house exterior, replace the tile in the laundry room, do a nice patio in the backyard, finish the basement, do the master bath, repaint all the walls in the house, especially the kids’ rooms and bathrooms, repaint the half-bath downstairs… and oh yeah, replace the hideous standard-issue chandelier in the foyer.

See what HGTV is doing to us as a people??