Glamour and grace, that’s me

Last night was a typical Sunday night ’round here, which is to say that the children were bouncing off the walls and Otto was trying to finish up some work to prepare for the week and I was realizing exactly how much I hadn’t gotten done all weekend long. That always brings all kinds of joy and rapture, and also (in this case) a bunch of banging around in the kitchen.

Otto and I are trying something new, owing to our rising grocery costs and my complete inability to think more than a day or two ahead—we’re doing weekly menu planning. I know, right? it’s like we invented this novel concept! (Unrelated: I am not sure if you’ve heard of THIS, either, but I hear there are now telephones that don’t need to be plugged into the wall. CAN YOU IMAGINE?) Anyway, I think it’s going to be great. Really. Eventually.

See, before we started doing this, I would go grocery shopping on the weekend and the week would start out really well. We’d have a great dinner on Sunday night, and usually a nice meal on Monday night, too. By Tuesday I’d be calling Otto at 4:00 to say, “Hi! Um! I am going to maybe turn these leftovers into… something… unless you have a better idea!” And on Wednesday he’ll come home and ask what we’re having for dinner, and I’ll blink at him and tell him it’s his night to cook.

Part of the problem, of course, is that I have a very small core group of foods which I will buy regardless of price. Everything else becomes an “if it’s on sale” purchase, and with food becoming so expensive, there have been weeks on end when I’ve come home with nary a protein source and then wondered what I could possibly make for dinner out of frozen green beans and a box of mini-wheats.

Now that we’re planning out meals, not only do we know what’s for dinner every night, I am not stopping at the grocery store three times a week for that one thing I forgot or because we ran out of bread. It’s lovely.

On the other hand, it means that now I need to actually do some cooking on Sunday nights if I don’t want my week to be a huge pain in the butt. (Not that cooking prevents my week from being a pain in the ass, but it lessens the chances, anyway.) So last night after dinner I pulled out some recipes and turned on the oven and started baking.

So this one thing I was making called for almond meal. What I discovered on my last trip to the supermarket is that almonds come coated in platinum, or so the price would lead one to believe. I planned to use a substitution that was less costly, such as gold nuggets, or possibly brown rice flour, because I tend to play fast and loose with substitutions.

Upon beginning to cooking prep last night, however, I discovered a BAG OF ALMONDS in our pantry! How handy! The only problem was, these almonds were still in the shells.

[Digression: Otto bought the almonds. Because he thought they were walnuts, and he wanted walnuts. In fact, he wanted walnuts so much, the almonds have sat in the pantry untouched for months.]

Have you ever cracked an almond? I’ve cracked walnuts before, and it’s messy, but not that hard. Almond shells are bizarre; not only is the shape sort of difficult to work with, there’s a hard shell and then a fibrous layer and THEN the nut, which usually I have smashed to smithereens by accident, because did I mention that shelling almonds is hard? I was using Otto’s nutcracker—one of those metal tong-looking things—and I point this out only as evidence that I haven’t needed to crack any nuts in a VERY LONG TIME.

So. There I am: I’m mixing eggs, I’m chopping and measuring and now, cracking almonds and popping them into my little grinder. I AM CHEF, HEAR ME ROAR. All is well.

While I’m doing all of this, the phone rings and my daughter is standing ten feet from me on the kitchen phone, chatting with her dad.

I’m on, oh, I don’t know, maybe my twentieth? twenty-fifth? three thousandth? almond, and I placed the nut between the metal pieces with one hand and SQUEEEEEEZED the cracker shut with the other hand…

… and saw stars, because somehow? I had LEFT MY FINGER IN THE NUTCRACKER.

I let go and sagged against the counter, multiple obscenities struggling to burst from my mouth as I realized that Chickadee was right there, and furthermore, her dad was on the phone right there (and amongst my long laundry list of faults according to He Who Is Faultless is my tendency to use colorful language, which we all know is a mark of the devil), so I had to settle for sort of stamping my feet while the pain ebbed enough that I could quickly walk out of the kitchen and go cry and curse in my bathroom.

Otto must’ve heard me, because he came into the bathroom to check on me. I was running water on my pinched finger, half-laying on the counter, and crying. Because I have an embarrassingly low tolerance for pain and NOTHING hurts the way impact to a fingernail does. HOLY HELL.

I managed to gasp something about how the water wasn’t cold (and wasn’t helping) and he went and got me a bag of ice. It was a gallon-sized Ziploc’s worth, because I guess the sheer volume of my tears caused Otto to believe I had somehow injured my entire hand. Nope, just the tip of my index finger. AND MY PRIDE.

Eventually we determined that I was probably going to live, and I wrapped my finger in some tape and finished cooking. That’s dedication. (“Eat it. EAT IT! I nearly lost a finger for you ingrates!”)

My finger throbbed all evening, and still hurts today. The real fun will come if/when the nail falls off, I guess.

Anyway, Otto and I lay in bed last night, chatting a bit, and we were talking about a beautiful house we’d seen earlier in the day, one with the kind of kitchen that just makes you drool, and I don’t remember exactly what we said, maybe something about how he could’ve married for money and had a house like that, but instead he married me. And I protested loudly, something about how, “But you LOVE ME, you get ALL OF THIS and it’s COMPLETELY AWESOME!” Because that’s how I am, a maven with the persuasive argument, you know.

And my darling husband turned to look at me and slowly said, “Yes. Let me see. On the one hand, I could have had granite countertops and stainless steel everything and Spanish tiles… or on the other hand, I can have a wife who can’t tell the difference between an almond and HER INDEX FINGER. Hmmm. Let me think about that.”

I wanted to be offended, I really did, but, um… well…. I’m kind of thinking maybe I should just shut up and try not to burn the house down or anything, today.


  1. MomCat

    He’s nuts for you.

  2. Jill W.

    Sorry about your finger– sounds like it really hurt. You did better than I could have. I would not have been able to hold my tongue. When I stub my toe or smash a finger or what have you, my husband knows to back away quickly, because I momentarily morph into Beelzebub until the first wave of pain subsides. I think my eyes even glow red in a scary B-movie sort of way.

    Good for you with the weekly meal planning. I wish I could be that organized. And hey, guess what, did you know taht not only do they have phones that don’t have to plug into the wall, but they have computers that are so small they don’t have to stay on your desk! ; )

  3. RuthWells

    Owwwwwwwwwwwch! There’s a reason that torturers pull fingernails off the torturees, you know. My acupuncturist put a needle under a fingernail last week and I saw stars.

  4. Aimee

    Ooh… ouch. I saw stars just reading about it.

  5. Megan

    I was going to go all Costco on you again and sing the praises of Teh Costco and how it has many almonds! Nekkid ones! At slightly less cost than a small car! But then I remembered you don’t have one nearby and that would not be nice. So instead I will sit quietly at my desk and hum my Costco almond song and remember yet again why I am generally not allowed near nutcrackers, corkscrews and other deadly implements.

  6. StephLove

    If it makes you feel any more graceful, I tripped yesterday twice over NOTHING. This despite the fact that I have a grade-schooler and a toddler and there’s no shortage of things to trip over on the floor at any given time. I hurt my big toe so badly I’m still hobbling about today and I skipped my morning walk.

    I hope your finger feels better soon.

  7. Leandra

    I could not survive if I didn’t make a grocery list and shop for the entire week. For one thing I live in the boonies and the nearest grocery store is at least 25 miles away, but also because I would be stark raving mad if I had to go to the store more than once a week. Now, if you could just teach me how to prep on Sunday, cause I have lots of good intentions, but you know what road THOSE help pave.

  8. Kate

    Granite countertops emit dangerous levels of radon, and, um stainless steel appliances + fingerprints equals yucky to look at, so in marrying you, Otto is saving himself from lung cancer, and having to view unsightly smudges. I think he should buy you something shiny, like protective gloves.

  9. Chuck

    Your line about not having to crack nuts in a very long time had me laughing rather loudly and inappropriately at my computer.

    Hope your fingertip is doing better today…I recommend ice and Advil.

  10. Karen

    I spend the better part of a day each week cooking so that I don’t have to the rest of the week. Since I started doing that, I have more time to do things I love to do. Oh, and what is that you were cooking that required almond meal?

  11. Patricia

    Yes, you might not know the difference between a nut and your index finger, but alas, your darling husband doesn’t know the difference between a walnut and an almond! Hmm, I’m thinking he may be overestimating his changes at marrying for money — most rich people like men who can tell their nuts apart. (I crack myself up — someone stop me before I pun again.)

  12. Mom, Ink.

    BRAVO for not unleashing the devil’s tongue in front of Chickadee and her dad. Seriously, you earn a gold medal for self control in my book.

    And Otto, my dear, sweet Otto, though your sweet wife is simply too kind to blame you for her disfiguring injury, may I remind you that YOU are the one who bought almonds…IN A SHELL…instead of walnuts. So in a way, it’s totally your fault.

  13. tuney

    Hmm. Sounds like it’s time to reach deeply into the pocket lint and get a freezer. At least the protein could be bought in bulk if you had the patience to repackage it. I’ve had one I haven’t opened for ten years, but now it’s all clean and bleached and shiny and empty, and crying for something to freeze. Maybe I’ll put that bag of almond flour/gold paste I bought a couple of months ago innit.

  14. dad

    I think Otto’s comment shows remarkable courage given what you might do next the nut cracker. On the other hand, it was hysterically funny. Carpe deum.
    I like that boy!

  15. Otto

    Ahem … I know the difference between an almond and a walnut. I was told almonds were better for me. Which may be true, but they don’t taste as good.

    (Let the nutty flame war begin!)


  16. Lylah

    I’m a pistachio girl myself…

    Get thee to Trader Joe’s if at all possible. They sell Almond Meal pre-shelled and pre-ground and ready to go, and it doesn’t cost an arm or a leg…

  17. The Other Other Dawn

    “… to use colorful language, which we all know is a mark of the devil.”

    This is what they claim when there is NOTHING ELSE WRONG WITH YOU TO COMPLAIN ABOUT. I know this because my ex-Mr. Faultless had the same complaint about me. And yet he married, for 2nd time around, a “lady” who regularly puts sailors to shame with her “expressive” speech and swears directly at him, whereas I, chuerub that I am, would merely turn the air blue in response to excrutiating pain, such as crushing one’s finger in a nutcracker. Which I haven’t done. yet. Or perhaps the local statue of limitations has run out on swearing. Who knows?

    Hope the finger is better soon. I believe large quantities of ice cream are in order?

  18. Jamie AZ

    OUCH! Sounds like me nicking the side of my thumb last night with the top of the pinto bean can…

    I now order my nuts online and store them in the freezer (so they don’t get rancid). You have to buy them in bulk, but the prices are worth it! I use about one 5 pound box of pecans, walnuts and almonds over the course of a year, but if you don’t think you’ll use that much, maybe you have a friend who would like to split a box?!

  19. Emily

    Don’t know if it will help, but I have freakishly strong fingernails. So strong, in fact, that the other day while washing out the cat litter pans, instead of BREAKING like a normal persons nail, mine BENT backwards about 1/8 of an inch into the nail bed!


    So, I hear you on the finger/nail pain. It is worse than just about anything I’ve experienced.

  20. Neil

    I’m expecting a post in about… a week and a half… where you write about how you’re abandoning the menu planning idea. Remember when you once promised yourself to go to the gym every other day? Yeah, we all said the same thing.

  21. Niki

    These are the occasions on which I find that “Son of a biscuit-eating goat” suffices fairly well. It lets me get out the first part before I have to realize that I need to tone it down. But good for you, especially with Dad on the phone – no need to give him more ammunition. And I bet he would swear a blue streak if he smashed his finger. I remember seeing Sandi Patty (gospel singer) on Johnny Carson once. She said she didn’t swear, and he asked what she would say if she hit her finger with a hammer. She said, “I would probably call my husband’s name.” He said, “I’d like to see that. Can we try?” We’re all entitled to it at least once in a while.

  22. Heather Cook

    I should tell you, I would have passed right out. My tolerance for pain spikes is very low. :) I’m good with long-term pain like labor or my first marriage.

  23. Sharon

    I tried menu planning many years ago, and it worked for awhile. Then I ran into too many nights when what I had planned wasn’t what I was hungry for. I’m not a fan of grocery shopping, and now I live 20 miles from the closest store, so I have to do some general planning whether I want to or not. I love leftovers! I always cook dinner with an eye on leftovers for what we now call “restaurant night.”

  24. Mama Bear

    With three kids, all in a different sport, we have been menu planning on Sunday nights now for several years. It’s wonderful, BUT it doesn’t prevent me from going to the store 3 or more times a week. In the small town I live in, all purchases can’t be bought in the same place, no one carries all I would need and even if they did they would be sold out. Menu planning, heaven; grocery shopping, sucks!
    PS Put a pretty new shiny ring on your hand and you won’t even notice that your finger hurts any more, right?

  25. ellbee

    Well, if it makes you feel better, I managed to injure myself recently by stepping barefoot on a drill bit. In my BEDROOM. And it was my fault it was in the bedroom.

    My husband seriously questions my sanity on a daily basis.

  26. Randi

    Otto – Almonds are WAY better than walnuts! If they weren’t, walnuts would be much more expensive ;).

    I HATE doing something like that accidentally – it hurts so bad because you weren’t expecting it! Next time, make sure you’re expecting to smash your finger into the metal…then it won’t hurt as bad LOL.

  27. Katie in MA

    Son of a turtle – I bet that hurt! I’m with you – I have no pain tolerance at all. At ALL! My girls, however, have freakishly high tolerances. So much so that when Bee was a baby, I was afraid she was one of those people who have no pain receptors or whatever it is. That disorder where you can’t feel any pain. Turns out she’s just tough. My oldest pulled out her stitches yesterday from her ear surgery. She screamed at first and I thought she had just bumped it or something. It certainly wasn’t as loud or as long as I would scream if I had blood pouring down my head! So, the next time you feel the need to kill yourself, let me know and I’ll send one of them over to take your beating for you. :)

  28. Jenny

    There was a time shortly after our marriage when my husband was moved to say, in an exasperated fashion, as blood poured down my hand, “What is WRONG with you?!?” Because it was about the eleventy-fifth time in as many days that I had cut myself with a knife whilst attempting to produce something edible (they were new! and very sharp!). Not that he wasn’t sympathetic about the blood and all, but he definitely wasn’t sympathetic at that point about my complete inability to operate a basic hand tool without great bodily harm.

    I’ve either gotten better at it, or our knives are now very dull.

  29. LiteralDan

    So you didn’t say (though I’m short on sleep, so maybe I missed it) if the meal was any good– was it worth losing 3/8 of a finger?

    We really need to start planning out our meals around here, though I’ll try to work into the plan “Don’t crack almonds or fingers”. (Even the word “nutcracker” makes me nervous as it is… don’t ask me why.)

  30. lindasands

    Ouch. I am so swearing off almonds today, but I do appreciate the meal planning thing. I’m really really good at CLEAN OUT THE REFRIGERATOR NIGHT.
    Maybe I need to buy you some nutty tasting brew in Decatur….

  31. Amy

    My finger is throbbing in sympathy. It is remembering last fall when I closed it in a car door. I have never felt anything so painful in my life. (and yes, I have given birth, even without any meds at all!)

    This post is reminding me of the mountains of tomatoes, beans, basil, and yellow squash that need to be chopped, peeled, steamed, pureed, and/or simmered before making it into the freezer. Time to get off my butt.

  32. Anna Marie

    Oh DAMN this made me laugh. But not at your expense, I promise. =)

  33. Sheila

    Ow. That’s all. Just… ow.

  34. anna

    Wow! That sounds extremely painful–hopefully the nail won’t fall off. I had that happen once, and it looked bad for about a month, though everything grew back fine.

    With the almond situation, a recipe that called for almond flour would have been immediately rejected by me–WAAAY too much work! Bravo for you for trying it.

  35. Kendra

    I can vouch for that weekly meal planning idea. I have 4 girls, a husband and a brother-in-law to feed every night.

    Sorry about the finger although kudos for keeping it under wraps for chickadees sake. I tapped my finger with a hammer last week and almost passed out your tougher than I am.

  36. Karen

    I so agree with you on fingernail pain. It is one of the worst kinds of pain. Then it just keeps reminding you that it hurts every single time you touch something!

    And don’t feel too bad, I always pinch my fingers in those old-timey nutcrackers.

  37. tj

    Sounds like something I did earlier this week – lets just say it involved, a bowl of hot tomato soup what wasn’t hot enough for me, a saucepan, a micowave, and blood. Lots more blood than should be involved when making soup.

    Needless to say my husband grounded me from the kitchen for a week while I mended my wounds.

  38. Jennifer

    I tend toward the colorful language, myself. Unfortunately it is usually around my highly impressionable 4 yr old twins and 7 yr old daughter. My husband just LOVES that. I’m just thankful that when they repeat the words I’ve said, they at least use them in the proper context.

  39. Annie

    If the mini wheats aren’t frosted, you could make a very nice casserole. Possibly.

  40. Marla

    Oh, Mir, I’ve been a long time lurker but finally decided to post on this one…..that is something I would do too, and the part where you said “I was using Otto’s nutcracker—one of those metal tong-looking things—and I point this out only as evidence that I haven’t needed to crack any nuts in a VERY LONG TIME.” literally cracked me up. Thanks for that. I hope your finger is ok today. Did your kids give you any sympathy? My hubby doesn’t allow me near the kitchen to cook as I apparently can burn boiling water.

  41. Claudious

    I blame it on Otto’s nutcracker, nothing like someone elses nutcracker to mess up a good nut cracking. I hope your finger recovers.

  42. Aisha

    I don’t know if you have a Trader Joe’s near you, but they sell bags of almond meal. I don’t remember if it fell into the cheap category – I just remember that I REALLY wanted to make mexican hot chocolate cupcakes and they called for almond meal. But they might be in your price range, if your willing to deal with all the supposedly not angry but actually really angry people that tend to be at those places. (I can’t go to whole foods without wanting to smack someone over the head with the corn that doesn’t necessarily SAY it is organic, but supposedly makes you feel good if you buy it.)

  43. Tami

    Sorry about the finger but it makes for a very funny story!! I feel your pain about menu planning!! Since I do weekly menu planning for my family, I decided to start a blog of my menu’s that I’d love to share. Maybe it would lighten your load:

  44. just beth

    Um, ow. and you get MAD points for not breaking into sailor-speak. You are a ROCK.




  45. anymommy

    I swear our husbands must be related.

  46. Maki

    The hubbies… Why do we all married to same kind of men???

  47. Karen

    Awwww, what a sweet talker that Otto is?

  48. Brigitte

    I googled granite countertops and radon and it’s apparently true (or at least sometimes true). Why would they have more than all the lumps of granite surrounding our house in the vintage New England stone walls?

    Too bad in those moments of great pain, you can’t quite recall those lovely alternate swears, like “Gorgonzola!”

  49. Astrogirl426

    Oooh, those almonds are the nuts of the devil (somehow that came out all wrong). And I fully agree with the commenter who said it was Otto’s fault for buying the actual almonds, in the shell (sorry, Otto man, but you knew this was all going to be your fault somehow, right? Yeh, you did). Poor, pretty Mir – at least it wasn’t a toe, and your pretty shoes all still fit, right?

    As far as the pain, I used to be a big weenie too, and then I spent 90 minutes under the needle for an 8″x5″ tattoo on Sunday, and now I’m all “hammer to the kneecaps? Feh – no problem!”. Of course, today I stubbed my toe, and cried. Yep, still a big baby.

  50. Shannon

    Oh ouch, your poor finger!

  51. Queen Zucchini

    OUCH. But I gotta say, glad to hear I’m not the only woman who can give birth and still have a low pain tolerance for smashed fingers and stubbed toes. And at what age do we really have to stop cursing like a sailor in front of our children???

    I’m very impressed with your meal planning attempt and can’t wait to hear more about it. And recipes – please share recipes!! Almond meal???

  52. Nancy R

    My husband (then fiancee) and I quietly mocked my sister for meal planning shortly after she got married. We snickered at her menu posted on the dry-erase board on her refrigerator.

    We got married, had a kid, and MANY frozen pizzas later, we discovered the amazing thing called meal planning and using the meal plan to create a grocery list.

    We thought we were brilliant! What an amazing discovery! It makes things SO much simpler!

    We still get stuck in ruts though, with making the same meals over and over – especially since the kids aren’t all that brave when it comes to trying new things.

    Good Luck!

  53. Hala J

    Ow. Frickity ow. I slammed my finger in a car door once. Only I was three. Still hurt like freaking hell and now both my entire hands feel weird just imagining cracking your finger in a nutcracker.


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