Frankly Francine! Likes Sofa Over There

Dear Francine, My wife and I live just a few blocks from her parent’s house. At first this seemed like a great idea. We both work out of town and thought it would be good for her parent’s to have a key in case of emergencies. However, they apparently have a different idea of what constitutes an emergency than we do. Twice in the last few months, we’ve come home to discover that Mom has rearranged our entire living room furniture and decorations. The first time this happened, we didn’t say anything; we just put things back where we liked them. The second time, we asked for our key back and then put things back in place. Now the folks are upset with us and claim that we don’t trust them. This is causing a huge problem for my wife and I don’t know how to get back to a good relationship. ~ Likes the Sofa Over There   Dear Sofa, Wow. Perhaps you and your wife have arranged the furniture to prohibit conversation and TV watching, or maybe your mother in law thinks she’s an interior decorator. Martha Stewart is asked to rearrange the furniture and she’s pretty good … Continue reading →

Frankly Francine! Tired of Burnt Rolls

Dear Francine, Every time I bake dinner rolls in my oven, instead of turning a golden brown, they burn to a crisp. I use the timer. I grease the sheet. I watch them like a hawk. And the tops are barely done and the bottoms are black. My family is tired of eating only the top half of the rolls. I’m tired of tossing the black parts into the yard for the birds to eat. How can I keep from burning rolls for the next family dinner? ~ Burnt Out   Dear Burnt, Dinner rolls can be a touchy thing. The best approach is to do the things you’re already paying attention to. The first thing you’ll want to do is get an oven thermometer and double check the temperature settings. Sometimes ovens will have 350 on the dial but only heat to 325, or over heat to 375. That could be a problem. The next step is to adjust the oven racks. If you’re burning to bottoms and the tops are not done, that tells me you have a bottom heating oven. It also tells me the rack is too close to the heat source. By moving the rack … Continue reading →

Frankly Francine! A Brontosaurus Vegetarian

Dear Francine, My son, who is five years old, is a big fan of dinosaurs. Like many boys his age, he has a collection of dinosaur toys and books. We read from the books nearly every night. Lately he has taken to pretending to be some of the dinosaurs we’ve read about when he plays. Last night, at the dinner table, I asked him to eat some of his meat, since he hadn’t taken a bite yet. He looked at me and as serious as can be said, “I’m a brontosaurus and I don’t eat meat.” How do I argue with a fact like that? What can I do to get him to eat a balanced meal when he’s reciting line and verse from the books I’ve read to him? ~Paleo Vegetarian   Dear Paleo, Wow. You have quite the intelligent child there. He’s a bit of a snot too, it sounds like. I’m afraid that you’re asking one of parenthood’s greatest questions. How to argue with a child who has all the facts will go down in history as a lost cause. The reason you can’t win this type of argument, is simple. You don’t have enough energy to … Continue reading →