Speak English Like an American » LESSON 13 - Amber Comes Over to Bake Cookies

Amber Comes Over to Bake Cookies

Ted's girlfriend Amber comes over to help with the cookies. Amber has experience baking cookies from a former job. Susan leaves the kitchen so they can work better.

Ted: Mom, Amber is here to lend a hand with the cookies.

Susan: Hi Amber. Nice to see you again.

Amber: Good to see you too, Mrs. Johnson.

Susan: That's an interesting hairstyle.*

Amber: Thanks. I'm glad you think it's cool. Blue hair is all the rage this season.

Susan: Well, I'm going to take a break now and let you kids take over.

Ted: Don't worry, Mom. Your business is in good hands with Amber. She really knows her stuff.

Amber: That's true. I used to work at Mrs. Field's Cookies** in the mall.

Susan: You don't work there anymore?

Amber: No, I got fired. I have a real sweet tooth, and they told me I was eating too many cookies.

Susan: Well, I'm sure you haven't lost your touch.

Amber: I might be a bit out of practice.

Ted: Mom, you can watch Amber bake if you want. You might pick up a few tricks of the trade.

Amber: Yes, feel free. As a singer, I'm used to performing before an audience!

Susan: Thanks, but I'm going to get out of the way. You know what they say: too many cooks spoil the broth!

Amber: Will I see you later tonight?

Susan: Yes, I'll be back in a few hours.

Ted: Mom, why don't you just call it a night and go to bed. You've been working your tail off all day.

* When somebody says something is "interesting" it often means they don't like it, but they want to be polite.

** Mrs. Field's Cookies are gourmet cookies that are sold in malls across the United States.

Idioms
  • all the rage
    the latest fashion; popular right now
    EXAMPLE 1: Have you seen those new alligator-skin cowboy boots? They're all the rage this season!
    EXAMPLE 2: At Nate's high school, salsa dancing is all the rage this year.
  • (to) call it a night
    o stop an activity for the rest of the night
    EXAMPLE 1: We spent a few hours walking around downtown Chicago. It was so cold that we were ready to call it a night by nine o'clock.
    EXAMPLE 2: Let's call it a night and meet back at the office at seven o'clock tomorrow morning to finish preparing our report.

    NOTE: There is also the expression "to call it a day" which means to stop activity for the day.

  • feel free
    go ahead and do something; don't hesitate (to do something)
    EXAMPLE 1: "Feel free to interrupt me and ask questions during my lecture," said the professor to his students.
    EXAMPLE 2: If you need legal advice, feel free to call my cousin Fred. He's a lawyer.
  • (to) get out of the way
    to move out of the way; to stop interfering with someone's plans or activities
    EXAMPLE 1: If you're not planning on helping us prepare dinner, please get out of the way. The kitchen is crowded.
    EXAMPLE 2: Get out of the way! That truck is backing up and it might run you over.
  • (to be) in good hands
    in good, competent care
    EXAMPLE 1: Don't worry — your dog will be in good hands while you're on vacation. We'll take her to the New York Dog Spa & Hotel.
    EXAMPLE 2: You're in good hands with Tony. He's an excellent driver.
  • (to) know one's stuff
    to have an expertise in a field
    EXAMPLE 1: Steve has been an auto mechanic for 25 years. He really knows his stuff.
    EXAMPLE 2: When it comes to cooking, Kristen knows her stuff. She spent two years studying at the Culinary Institute of America.
  • (to) lend a hand
    to help
    EXAMPLE 1: When Amber saw Susan washing the cookie sheets, she offered to lend a hand.
    EXAMPLE 2: Would you mind lending a hand in the garden? We need to finish planting these flowers before it starts raining.
  • (to) lose one's touch
    to no longer be able to do something well
    EXAMPLE 1: I used to make delicious pies, but this one tastes terrible. I think I've lost my touch.
    EXAMPLE 2: Dr. Stewart used to be a very good doctor, but recently several of his patients have died. He seems to have lost his touch!
  • (to be) out of practice
    no longer good at doing something
    EXAMPLE 1: Susan studied French in high school, but she hasn't spoken it since. She's really out of practice.
    EXAMPLE 2: I used to play tennis every day, but I haven't played in years. I'm out of practice.
  • (to) pick up
    to acquire; to learn
    EXAMPLE 1: Bob picks up languages quickly. After two weeks in Spain, he was already speaking Spanish.
    EXAMPLE 2: Diana picked up some great new ideas at the workshop.

    NOTE: "Pick up" has several other meanings, including:

    1. To take from the floor or ground. Pick up the pen you dropped.
    2. To buy. I'll pick up some burritos on my way home.
    3. To clean up. Let's pick up the bedroom before the guests arrive.
    4. To retrieve someone. I'll pick you up at seven for our date.
  • sweet tooth
    an enjoyment of sugary foods
    EXAMPLE 1: Amber's got a real sweet tooth. Last night, she ate a whole box of Godiva chocolates.
    EXAMPLE 2: No wonder Liz is so overweight. She's got such a sweet tooth!
  • (to) take a break
    to stop and rest from an activity
    EXAMPLE 1: Bob always worked 10 hours straight, never taking a break.
    EXAMPLE 2: Let's take a break from our work and go get some ice cream.
  • (to) take over
    to assume control
    EXAMPLE 1: After 11 hours of driving, I was getting tired. Fortunately, my friend offered to take over.
    EXAMPLE 2: My new boss will be taking over some of my projects.
  • too many cooks spoil the broth
    too many people involved in an activity can ruin it
    EXAMPLE 1: After Bob and Susan edited Nicole's college applications, they were worse than when she started. Too many cooks spoil the broth.
    EXAMPLE 2: You don't need to help us. We have enough people helping already, and too many cooks spoil the broth.

    NOTE: Broth is a clear liquid that forms the base for soups.

  • tricks of the trade
    clever shortcuts gained by experience
    EXAMPLE 1: The new teacher learned some tricks of the trade from Mrs. Blackstone, who'd been teaching at the school for 40 years.
    EXAMPLE 2: My new job will be easier once I learn some tricks of the trade.
  • (to) work one's tail off
    to work very hard
    EXAMPLE 1:  Don worked his tail off to save money for his son's education.
    EXAMPLE 2: Bob worked his tail off at the furniture store, but his boss fired him anyway.
Practice The Idioms

Fill in the blank with the missing word:

  1. When Susan was having trouble lifting her heavy mixer, Bob offered to lend a _____.
    • a) finger
    • b) foot
    • c) hand
  2. Nicole used to play the piano, but she hasn't practiced in five years. She's really _____ practice.
    • a) about to
    • b) into
    • c) out of
  3. You've been working in the kitchen for hours. Why don't you go and _____ a break?
    • a) take
    • b) give
    • c) do
  4. Amber picked up many _____ of the trade while working at Mrs. Field's Cookies in the Stamford Mall.
    • a) bits
    • b) tricks
    • c) pieces
  5. Your shoulder massages are still the best. You haven't _____ your touch.
    • a) found
    • b) lost
    • c) spoiled
  6. After two weeks in Italy, Tom started to pick _____ a few words of Italian, including cappuccino and pizza.
    • a) up
    • b) out
    • c) in
  7. When Jill got tired of chopping the onions, Jack took _____.
    • a) over
    • b) off
    • c) away
  8. Whenever we need financial advice, we call Suze Orman. She really knows her _____.
    • a) things
    • b) stuff
    • c) matter
Answer Key
Practice The Idioms
  1. c
  2. c
  3. a
  4. b
  5. b
  6. a
  7. a
  8. b
Answer Key
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