Blog Posts by Andrea Frazer, Good Housekeeping

  • 4 Ways To Avoid Insulting Your Spouse's Family This Christmas

    In my last post I mentioned that Rex and I have a game plan for getting through an impending large Christmas Eve family gathering graciously. It is so simple that anyone can try it. You simply need to:

    1. Cancel on your family last minute.

    2. Instead of paying your rent, book a flight to some remote island instead. The kids? Leave them with a neighbor. They'll be fine. They can swim now and don't need their meat cut up for them.

    3. Return not a day sooner than January 2nd in a post holiday fog replete with awesome tan and ten pounds margarita weight.

    Okay. Not that. The real way to avoid insulting your spouse's family? Don't invite them over!

    Wait... not that either.

    The real way to keep everything running smoothe and easy is to have game plan. Ours is to laugh! And to eat! And we will take Ms. Mindbody Kate Hanley's advice on dealing with difficult personality members.

    1. Stand by your mantra. "Before you head to the gathering, decide which family

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  • Marriage, Holiday Stress and Personality Conflicts

    Rex and I are expecting almost 20 people for Christmas Eve dinner. We've already prepped most of the food. But the various personalities gathered around the table? Ummm.. we're not quite as prepared. After all, Chinese egg rolls can be quickly forgotten when the Italian bouillabaisse soup is served, but it's not as easy for Democrats on one side of our farm table to digest digs from Republicans on the other side. Tension, like too much Chianti, can quickly feel acidic.

    While deciding on mango salsa vs. olive tapenade at Costco today, I leaned over the cart and gave Rex my opinion on navigating some pretty drastic personalites. "Babe... this Christmas Eve... we need a personality game plan."

    I could see the look of terror/slash confusion/slash "Are you friggin' insane" daze in his eyes. It was the same cloud that descended when I told him, after a bad bout of flu, that I wanted to try for a third baby.

    "Can't we just get everyone lit?" he responded, at the same time

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  • Good Enough Housekeeping, Marriage and Betsy Shaw

    Cooking, home and gardening shows dominating the media. Since I am not the star of a hip HGTV show, I don't have a set decorator keeping my 1950's home sparkling with charm. It's all me, baby! This often means Cheerios live on the checkerboard kitchen floor a few hours longer. It means grade school art projects take up one side of our dining room table while we dine on the other half. It means that windows get a bit dustier before they shine like stars and laundry sits on the floor for two days instead of one. (Okay, sometimes four days. Who's counting?) It means sometimes chaos dominates our tranquil abode until I nudge my orderly husband toward the dishwasher or my children toward the The Great Toy Removal Site. (Our TV room.)

    As I remind myself every day during my meditation practice (A.K.A. 15 minutes of breathing while I'm locked in my SUV away from the madness of said home above) it's not about perfection in life. It's about presence. My home, like my marriage and family,

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  • 5 Ways I'm Cooking Up Romance This Christmas

    I make no bones about it: I hate cooking. And yet, for some odd reason, I'm the one who gets to do most of it.

    I don't always do it well.

    And I don't always smile as I'm doing it.

    But this holiday season, with over 20 people coming for Christmas Eve dinner, I plan on grinning like a billboard sized tooth whitening ad. What will I owe that new found confidence to? Drinking like a fish - that's what!

    Oh, wait... I won't really be drinking like a fish.

    But I will be making our traditional fish soup for Rex's Italian family. And, here's the best part. It's not just me who will be making it. My darling husband is going to be joining me!

    Rex (and I know you long time readers will be shocked by this statement) is more detail oriented than Santa setting his GPS system for take-off. My man dices and slices with efficiency and confidence, and he looks damn good doing so. With him at my side, no crab leg is safe and no fluffy appetizer is going to deflate.

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  • Be a Cheap Date This Holiday Season! 10 Fun Outings

    It's been an insane holiday season and it's only December 9. Tree up? Check! Hanukah parties attended? Check. Advent wreath, cards getting cranked out, kids' shopping done? Check check check! Out to dinner with Rex? Um... not that kind of check, please! We're in savings mode.

    Lack of funds is a dumb reason to not have fun this holiday season. It's cliche, but true, when I say that being present to the one we love is more important than an expensive present. Unlike credit cards, awesome memories are an interest we can all afford.

    * Note: By no means am I saying it's okay to be a cheap axx if you can afford it. For me, 2011 is going to be the year I start shopping again and eating out more. Why? Because it's fun, that's why! And as soon as my minor debt is gone - as well as some built up resentment about it between Rex and I - I'm going to really splurge on myself. But until then, here are 10 things I hope to do for, and with, Rex before Christmas. Feel free to add your

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  • Five Ways to Surive the Holidays with the Beekman Boys

    Tis the season for fabulous sweaters, rum fruitcake ... and goats, lots and lots of goats. Well, at least it is for Dr. Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell from Planet Green's hit show The Fabulous Beekman Boys.

    This Wednesday, December 8, will be the premiere of the Fabulous Beekman Boys Holiday Special. With Rex's family and my family premiering at our home this Christmas Eve, I figured I'd ask the couple a few things about keeping things light between our two drastically different families.

    Unless you consider quietly asking for Yuban refills or fist pounding "Mas Streggggo!" closer to the same party line. I do, not, but, according to the boys, I need not stress.

    Here are the five tips they gave me for enjoying a streamlined hoilday season - not just in regards to our families, but with each other.

    1. "Remember that it's your holiday too. Too often couples feel they need to continue the longtime holiday rituals of their respective families. They run from Aunt

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  • When Little Things Matter - Coupons of Love

    Rex and I are on a new kick to really help each other out. I, for one, need more fun time. I need people over! I need parties! I need more last minute dinners and laughs.

    He's been really in tune with this. He remembered to phone a friend who was about to have surgery "just because." (How sweet!) He wished another buddy "Happy birthday." He's forming an impromptu ski party at the cabin. Just last night he piled us all into the car for some last minute burgers and fries at our favorite local haunt. All these are acts of love and nurturing that I really appreciated after a harried week.

    Such uncharacteristic showers of affection certainly motivated me to stay on budget with the food this week. (The money saving - that's where he's at these days. Shocking, I know!)

    Like I did the previous seven days, I created a meal list from Monday to Sunday. To avoid grumbles about boring lunches, I interrogated the kids about their favorite snacks and sandwiches. I did a pantry/fridge

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  • Of Lice And Men: Part Deux (When Husbands Make Mistakes!)

    So in Part 1 of my dramatic lice infested story, we left off with Super Rex about to fly through the door (unlike lice that cannot fly, only crawl... thank GOD) and comb out all our hair.

    "Those lice are sooooo going die," he'd croon every other strand. "Tics I can't fix. (We're talking about Tourettes here, not blood sucking bugs.) "But lice? I can obliterate those."

    Three hours later he wiped his hands together in victory. "Done!" With the assurance of a secret agent who'd just blasted the city's most evil villains into eternity, he fell into bed with a satisfied grin.

    "Um, baby, are you sure you got them?" I asked.

    "Absolutely! I couldn't even see any on Stink's head. That was probably a mis-diagnosis. Or maybe you got them off when you cut his hair."

    I wasn't sure I agreed with him, but I was too tired to argue. I put my head - my hopefully clean, lice-free head, on the pillow and slept like a dead nit for eight hours.

    The next morning, full of

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  • Of Lice and Men: The Story of a True Classic

    It was an awesome holiday weekend, but Monday was here at last. The kids would go to school. I'd clean up the remainder of the Christmas decorating carnage, and life would continue in one predictable, easy going pattern.

    And it did.

    For about thirty minutes.

    Until the front office called me into the first aid room. I hadn't even left the parking lot. I arrived one moment later, to hear the words every mother dreads:

    "Your teenage daughter is pregnant."

    Oh, wait. Not those. Thank God. I don't even have teenagers yet! Wheeeew!

    "Your kids have lice."

    For lack of a better response that sounds both intelligent and descriptive, let me just sum up my reaction to the idea of tiny little critters crawling throughout my kids' scalp with the two blessed words, "OH CRAP."

    In less than five seconds my life flashed before my eyes: The inevitable 1000 loads of laundry as I sterilized everything from bedding to doll clothes... countless hours spent bagging every

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  • The Rollercoasters of Marriage, Life and Christmas: That's the Fun Stuff!

    Thanksgiving has come and gone. We had a fantastic time visiting with family, friends and a few new dogs that traipsed past our home on their brisk Winter walk.

    We gave thanks for our blessings, our health, our food and even Toon Town. (That last one was courtesy of my kids.) But grateful, schmatefuls, we morphed from turkey to warp speed Christmas quicker than you can say "triptophan coma."

    Perhaps you're like me and things never go as planned. You've got a list that includes "X" "Y" and "Z", but you can barely make it past "A" "B" and "C" when "D" explodes like egg nog in your face. Before long you're screaming a hearty "F" followed by a resounding "U."

    The same can be true of marriage. What begins as pretty as a holiday postcard...

    Can quickly become a laundry list of faults.

    If you're not careful, you can spend so much time being frustrated over the cracks in your life that you forget to acknowledge the hot cook in the kitchen.

    I don't write

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