TikTok’d

Every night, I leave my husband downstairs to watch the news and head upstairs to bed. But I’m not really going to sleep. I’m going upstairs to be alone and dive deep into my TikTok hole. And I love it.

Have you done it? Isn’t it great? Synchronized dancing? Quick cooking recipes? This is the place for me. I’m sure my algorithm is totally different than yours – sometimes people tell me about some crazy video they saw, not me. My TikTok videos are a mash up of what they think a 10 year girl and her grandmother would like to see. It’s all cleaning hacks and babies dancing.

No matter what your algorithm- the one thing on everyone’s channel is the famous TikTok Feta Pasta! It’s all the rage. It all started in 2018 when a Finnish blogger posted this recipe. It didn’t catch on until this year when another Finnish blogger reposted – and all of Finland went mad over it. They ran out of feta cheese! They ran out. I mean, aren’t you glad we live in America? We may run out of toilet paper, but not cheese. Never cheese. Or wine.

Anyway – back to it.

Soon the recipe was all over TikTok. Every other video was someone making it. And because I’m easily influenced, I had to make it too.

The premise is so simple: Toss a block of feta, tomatoes and a bunch of olive oil together in a pan and throw it in the oven until softened, before mixing it all together with pasta and fresh basil (I subbed dried oregano because I didn’t have basil). I also added in garlic… well because garlic.

In the oven it goes – 375 degrees for 45 min or so. Couldn’t be easier.

Once out you mash it all together and combine with your pasta.

And… drum roll please…

It was ok. It was meh.

It was fine. I ate it. Mine came out a bit dry, so I ended up adding a dash of heavy cream. That helped. I also added a good bit of salt and pepper. That helped. And then crushed red pepper. Again it helped.

I’m really glad I added the garlic. Maybe I used the wrong feta? Maybe the Finnish feta is creamier?

Or maybe these TikTokers have never had good pasta. Or they’ve never combined pasta with cheese. Even Snoop Dog’s Mac and Cheese is better than this – I’ve tried it!

Whatever the case, I didn’t feel the euphoric high they seem to get from this dish.

I really wanted to love it. I wanted to be a cool kid. As always – not so much.

Quarantine Quiet

It’s been a very busy and exciting few weeks. So much traveling and so much entertaining! Just kidding. No real traveling. And the only person I consistently entertain is myself. But it has been busy. Let me catch you up.

4 weeks ago I was going around saying things like, “gee I’m never alone” or “what’s it like to be alone?” and “I don’t think I’ve been alone since last March”. Well as the universe does, it heard me and gave me exactly what I wanted. Immediately.

3 week ago we got a call that a family member tested positive for Covid and we needed to go take care of them. It threw us into a tailspin. How do we do this? What do we do? Well, what we did is that I moved in with them for 10 days of quarantine. My job is fully mobile and all I needed was an internet line to make it work. So I packed a bag and within hours moved myself in to help out. Here’s what I learned:

  • PPE works. I wore two masks and a face shield and thoroughly washed my hands and surfaces. After 10 days of quarantine, we both left the house Covid free (2 tests to prove it)
  • Besides work calls and family check-in time, I was completely and utterly alone for 10 days. I had lots of interactions with my jailbird, but most of the time I had to keep my distance, so the conversations were short and quick.
  • I did miss my family. But it was an amazing respite for 10 days. Lots and lots and lots of alone time. I didn’t hate it.
  • My jailbird is as strong as an ox. It’s amazing how resilient we are as humans. He was luckily asymptomatic the whole time, but it’s hard to be trapped in a room (although a comfortable one). He did it like a pro. No complaints. No trying to breakout.
  • I went for long long long walks. I went in the morning. I went at night. I went if it rained. I went if it snowed. There was nothing else to do. And I loved it. Even though the path was small and I felt like a hamster spinning the wheel, it felt so good to be outside every day. I posted some of the pics from my walks below. There’s even one of me wearing my very sexy headlight. Not sexy maybe, more Blair Witch Project, but you get it.
  • Although I got points for taking care of someone like Florence Nightingale, it felt like a selfish indulgence. It was quiet and calm and peaceful.

Thank you universe for hitting me in the face with exactly what I asked for. What should I ask for next? A billion dollars??

Speaking of ox – it’s the Lunar New Year! The year of the ox. Strong, reliable, resilient. Like my jailbird.

2 weeks ago I came back home with a renewed sense of calm. I feel like I should rent that time out to people. It could be a new thing. I could call it Quarantine Quiet Time Spa! Without a deadly disease being a part of the experience, it would be perfect.

Last week went back to “normal”. Family, work, etc. I’m still walking. Let me say just a few words about the walks. The walks have been very impactful. The walks get me out of my head. They get me away from screens. They get me outside, in the very cold air. Sometimes I talk to people on my walks. Sometimes I listen to podcasts or Howard Stern. And because it’s me, never do I listen to music. I’m a weirdo. I know. I usually walk alone. Even when I walk with people I walk alone. I’m a slow walker. I’m also short and my stride is smaller. That’s my story.

Since Christmas Eve, I’ve walked atleast 10K steps a day. It’s what the kids would call a streak.

Who knows when it will end. I’m not worried about it. I’m worried about 1 million other things, but my walks and my time alone are not one of them.

Happy new year. Happy weekend.

That’s a selfie with a headlight- you’re welcome
This was when I went for a walk with family and they left me behind to be murdered

No Bueno

I broke my cardinal rule.

No, it’s not don’t eat potato chips at 10pm.

I was only going to eat 12. Which is one serving. Promise. Stop looking at me.

So what’s the rule? I’ll tell you. My cardinal rule is… don’t eat fused food!! I hate fusion! Ok not hate, but like really dislike.

I like mango. I like habanero. Why do they need to be combined?? And why did I fall for it?

Let me clarify that there are certain things that work – sour cream and onion, magic! Salt and vinegar, genius! But can we just calm down?

Chocolate wine? Dill pickle bagels? Please. PLEASE. Stop.

Anyway these are not great.

Mango?? Nope. Not there. Don’t taste it. Mango is unique. Mango is not just sweet. It’s nuanced and sometimes tart and fibery (it’s a word) and makes you feel Islandy (it’s a word).

Habanero? Ummm maybe a little black pepper or something. Go ahead and give it to your toddler – it’s fine. No heat. There’s almost nothing there. Those fiery Cheetos do more harm (btw love those).

There’s not much more to this post, I’m afraid. Don’t buy these chips. Also I wanted to say crisps because I’ve been watching Bridgerton but I fought the urge.

Tomorrow will be better.

I ate the full serving. If I’m being honest.

Mirror/Window

Soooooo I know I told you that I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts. I revert back and forth between informational ones and pure garbage. If I’m honest I still lean heavy on the garbage end. And I think I’ve decided that I’m an auditory learner. I’m never reading a book again! Just kidding. I just think it’s so much easier to retain what I’ve heard vs what I’ve read (also I can’t see anything anymore so there’s that). Anyway these podcasts are making me super interesting. I think I’m smarter too. I hardly ever use exclamation marks anymore! Are you rolling your eyes yet?

I heard one last week that has stuck with me. I think about it every day. It was about how people react to mistakes.

Mistakes. I make them. Everyday. Big ones. Small ones. Mean ones. Dopey ones. I’m a master mistake maker.

That doesn’t really bother me too much. Most of the time I know the intent was good. And I’ve been trying to do what I see many men do… just shrug it off. No apologies. No nothing. Just….oh yeah, that’s wrong. Oh well. Instead of sinking into the deep well of misery and self loathing which is my first instinct.

But the podcast wasn’t about mistakes. It was about how people, specifically leaders/parents/partners react to them.

When something goes wrong, where do you go first. The mirror or the window?

Are you drawn to the actions you created, the things you may have done to cause the error/fight/mistake/lapse in judgement – or do you immediately look to blame the outside world? Your partner, your child, your co-worker or colleague.

This isn’t rocket science. And those of you that are used to spending time thinking about deep things will probably think this is highly simplistic. But remember, I spent most of January still thinking about the Hilaria Baldwin scandal and whether or not I should get an eyeliner tattoo. I told you I lean garbage.

So this week I spent some time thinking about it. Spoiler alert, things went wrong this week. There were errors. F’ ups. Each time something happened I stopped and did the mirror/window approach. Another spoiler. I lean window! It seems that I think most of the things that go wrong in my life are the fault or actions of other people/things/situations. I’m really surprised by this in all seriousness.

In my mind I am very self-critical and hard on my actions. But in reality – I let myself off the hook pretty often. Like almost immediately. I’m like….oh that….I’m good. That’s that other moron’s fault. The storyline of my mistakes has me as the victim way too many times.

It’s a work in progress. I’m a work in progress.

Anyway just sharing. Today is Friday and it’s sunny. I’m going to go for a looooonnnngggg walk and listen to another podcast. Probably about Hilaria Baldwin or eyeliner tattoos.

Date Night

Every Thursday night, my husband and I go out to dinner.

I don’t remember when or how it started. Our kids got older. Weekends were busy with family and friend stuff. But Thursday was a “free” day to sneak in a date night. Before Covid when I was still commuting, it was also the last day of my commute. Friday I worked from home and didn’t have the 5:30 am alarm (remember commuting? I kinda miss it. Just a little)

Sometimes we go fancy, but more times we keep it low key. I put on some make-up and he wears his dress crocs (yes).

Sometimes we go with other people, double date night!

Where we go depends on weather, mood, and our last good meal. We’ve been known to go to the same place for months if things go well. Sometimes we go locally, sometimes we go far. A lot of couples go out to try new places, try new food. That’s not a priority for us.

Before Covid our favorite way to have Thursday date night was to sit at the bar for dinner. Yes, we are those people.

Once or twice a year we make it an overnight and sneak into New York City. Treat ourselves to a hotel.

Unless we’re sick, the rule is you can’t miss it. Does it have to be magical? Hells no.

We’ve had plenty of good fights on date night. Lots of driving home in silence. But guess what? It’s fine. We can try again next week.

Sometimes we talk about work or kids or family. Sometimes we talk about money or vacations or bills. Most often we talk about the day. We keep it light. This isn’t the night to solve major problems or make big decisions.

When things started shutting down last March, our date nights came to an abrupt halt. We spent the next few months eating at home and sheltering in. Which was nice too. Then, in early summer, things started slowly opening up. We were back in business… kind of. But it was better than nothing.

This pic is one of our earliest dates. Look at those young, care-free kids with the good hair.

Here’s the years since…

Pre-masks!

Why does be make faces?? I dunno. That’s for another post.

I’m a poet, you just didn’t know it

Goodbye Christmas lights and holiday sights.

Goodbye cookie baking and prime rib making.

Goodbye gift buying and bow-tying.

Goodbye White Russians for lunch, I really loved you a bunch.

Goodbye to my Santa mask, which was really up to the task, It made people smile and kept me safe all the while.

New Year’s Eve was so fun, I love a good Cosmo clearly. Thank goodness for our pod, I love them all dearly.

Resolutions were made and good wishes shared. We brought in the new year with people that cared.

So here we are in the new year, and it’s not that great so far, I fear

But I’m still thankful and full of hope, see sometimes it comes in handy to be a silly dope

So let’s keep our friends close and our naysayers at bay, and make sure you do something good for someone else today.

Things will get better, they always do, but even without the news, it’s easy to be blue.

So thank you Netflix, Hulu and HBO Max too, Bridgeton and Cobra Kai will help get me through.

So I’m sending you love and hugs Covid style, I hope this little ditty helped make you smile 😊

#fail

This is not a sign of things to come. In no way does this frame the rest of this year. This is just a little blip. 2021 will still be full of positive outcomes and good intentions. That’s what I’ve been repeating to myself for the last few hours.

This post was supposed to be called FRYday. Cute right? It’s Friday… I was going to post a fried appetizer recipe. I had a plan.

To make things even more interesting the recipe was an original. Totally my invention…well kind of. Years ago Patricia Heaton from Everybody Loves Raymond fame had a very short lived show on Food Network. I watched every episode. It was the mash-up of my two favorite things – food tv and sitcoms. One of the episodes was on a leek dip. I’d never made leeks before and it looked delicious. I started making it for holidays and book clubs and gatherings. It was a hit! I mean I liked it.

Anyway back to my fail.

Today is the new year. I wanted to make something special. Something celebratory. I’ve also been a bit obsessed with frying things lately. No, I don’t have an air fryer. Yes, I know you love yours and I should get it too. But I’m not going to. So anyhoo, do you fry shit? Like in actual oil? It’s hard. I’m telling you it’s not easy.

I’ve also been thinking about wonton wrappers. Is that weird?

So I decided to take the leek dip recipe and combine with a cream cheese wonton recipe. Leeks, goat cheese, cream cheese and dill. Delicious right?

Ok here’s how it started…

Leeks, goat cheese, cream cheese, dill, butter and wonton wrappers
Leeks are dirty. Chop and soak in water
Dry them and wring out any water
Sauté the leeks in about a tablespoon of butter

So far so good right?

Once done you’ll combine with the cheeses and dill (it’s dill heavy)

Basically now you’ve almost made the dip. The only thing I didn’t add is the cream.

This is when things started going downhill. Now you heat the oil.

Heat about 2 cups of the oil in a small pot

Why a small pot? I dunno. I’m scared of hot oil and it makes me feel better if it’s in a small pot. My mother and my aunts would laugh at this sad display. They use a wok like large pot with atleast a full bottle of oil. DANGER!!!

Now on to the wontons. I don’t know if I got the right ones. They said vegan. Are all wontons vegan? I’m pretty sure I didn’t go to the right place to find them. They were next to the kimchi so I assumed all was well. Who knows.

I started the construction.

(I forgot to tell you that you also need an egg wash. Just one egg and 2 tablespoons of wager)

Still looking ok…. but wait for it… wait for it….

Ummm what the hell is that? Ok, new plan. New shape.

Ok that’s better. But big. I wanted them smaller. One bite size.

Then I started failing… err… I mean frying.

Then I tried another shape. This is before I gave up and started eating cookies.

Look at those sad little babies. Unloved. Misshaped. Cooked unevenly. Sigh….

Btw – these are the best ones. There were 50 others that I couldn’t/didn’t even photograph to save my dignity.

I packed up the rest of the filling which I’ll freeze and use as it was meant to be. I’m sorry Patricia Heaton. I should have stuck to the plan.

Well, nothing like spending 3 hours on 5 appetizers. Good times.

Frying food. It’s not for amateurs. First lesson of the year.

Happy New Year all! Xoxo

Vacation me

I’m off work for a few days, and it’s magic!

This week… from Christmas to New Years is amazing. A black hole of nothingness.

Why didn’t anyone tell me how great this was??

Vacation me is such a gem. She’s relaxed, and happy and almost light hearted! Almost.

I mean this isn’t my first time off this year. I took a week in July but that was different. Other people were working and I was still checking emails. Still working from the side of my vacation.

But this week. This magical week. No emails, no missed meetings, no nothing.

Listen – in general I’m not saving lives at work. What I do day to day in no way impacts the world. It should be no surprise that me not doing the work is totally inconsequential. It’s a non-event. And I couldn’t be happier.

Vacation me is mellow. Most likely because vacation me day drinks, but who’s judging?

No alarms. No schedules. Thanks to Covid no plans at all.

In the past I’d have to figure out how to visit family and friends – but not this year. Nope. Vacation me and pandemic me are a perfect match.

Am I cooking big family meals? Nope! I’m saving restaurants by not cooking and only ordering in. You’re welcome!

Am I schlepping to my relatives houses and dragging my kids along? Nope! I’m saving lives by not seeing anyone, including my own kids. Kidding.

Vacation me is so funny. Not a care in the world. Well that’s a lie, but you know what I mean.

I hope you’re taking time off. I hope your heart is getting lighter. I hope you are letting go of all the crap 2020 laid on us. It’s not easy, I know. Do what I do. Take a deep, slow breath and exhale it all out.

Vacation me has all the answers.

Vacation me thinks all will be well.

Let’s go with that. Xoxo

Winter whine

I’ve been off work for a few glorious days. I hope you’re taking some time for yourself too. It’s been great.

I started rewatching a lot of videos from my favorite self-helpie stars. Gary V, Simon Sinek, Brene Brown and even a little Tony Robins for old times sake. I’ve been desperate for positivity and optimism. My new favorite is Tabitha Brown (that’s yo bizzzness).

I love reading and watching their pithy, no nonsense advice. I can feel myself getting smarter and more zen by the minute. It’s great. Check them out if you haven’t already.

But this isn’t an appreciation post. This is a complaint.

Yes… I spent vacation getting enlightened and I’ve got some issues. Ok just one issue.

Each of them has a quote or a video or an article on why you shouldn’t expect things from others. The basic lesson is that the reason you’re (I’m) let down is because of the expectations set for those around us. Stop doing it they say. You’ll be happier they say. You’ll find it easier to get along with people.

Well duh.

Sooooo I’m not supposed to expect anything from you? Or you? Or me?

Fuuuuuucccckkk that.

Excuse my French.

Here’s the thing. I expect a lot from myself. I expect kindness, and patience, and tolerance, forgiveness, and so much more. I expect shit from myself. I am not allowed just to be my sloth-like, bitter self. No sir. You deserve better from me. And I know it!

So why oh why can’t I expect shit from you??

I don’t want to go around wanting nothing from people. That’s what I was taught growing up. It was MY job to make things right. It was MY job to make sure people felt good. And I was up for the task. I worked hard at all my expectations. I did done good.

But after all that I feel very comfortable saying that I expect shit from people. I just do. You don’t get a free pass. Ok, maybe you did for 20 odd years while I came to terms with the fact that I deserve what I give. All of it. And if I don’t get it? Well, bye girl. On to the next one.

This notion that we shouldn’t hold others to standards and aspirations is bonkers.

I’m not crazy. I know not everyone is thinking and acting like me. That’s fine. I’ll keep doing me. But I can limit the exposure I have to people who choose to not give a shit about me or the ones l love. I don’t have to eat their selfishness. I can bucket it. Give it the two or three minutes it deserves and move on.

There are people in my life that hold themselves to the same standards – sometimes higher! There are people in my life I aspire to be. That’s what I want.

I do not want to be complicit in this idea that I can’t demand the people around me be kind, and tolerant, and patient and demanding.

Why can’t we expect things from people? Why can’t we want to be treated and loved as we treat and love?

I’m no longer interested in passive, vapid relationships. I did that for a long time. Cause I’m nice. And I don’t want to hurt your feelings. And I’m a coward. Let’s be honest. I’m a chicken shit and I don’t like to make trouble.

But trouble is real. And if I’m real, I can admit that I expect things from you.

By the way, I’m not talking about birthday cards and phone calls. I’m horrible at both.

I have friends I don’t talk to often, some that I haven’t talked to in years. But they send a quick note if they hear things are bad.. or good. I get a text or an IM with a good wish. I try to do the same. Is it mandatory? No. Is it something I want in a friend? Yep.

I also have friends I talk to daily. My expectations of them are totally off the charts! Different than the folks I just text once a year. But I want them to hold me to a standard too. That’s how it should be.

What is this free-flowing, expect nothing relationship that’s so great for us? It’s a hoax. Doesn’t exist.

Everything isn’t easy. Everything isn’t a meme or a tweet. Real things require commitment. Require bending. It’s ok. It doesn’t mean you are losing or somehow inferior.

Expectations aren’t negative shackles – they are goal posts. There’s nothing wrong with wanting more, from people, from situations, and from yourself.

You’re not a delicate flower. And the people around you aren’t either.

I’m sorry Brene, and Simon and Gary. I love you all but I’m not buying the whole “expect nothing and never be disappointed” vibe.

I’d rather be disappointed than dead inside.

Product of India

Remember this tin?

If you are a child or grandchild of an immigrant, then the answer is most likely yes. You’ve had this blue tin in your home. You may still have it, full of nails or thumbtacks or something. Check your junk drawer.

We never had Oreos or Chips Ahoy in our house – not that I remember. We had Parle G biscuits and this blue tin. Parles were shipped from India and never came in a big package. You got them in these little packs of 10. Most likely due to how many preservatives you were allowed to ship at once overseas. They were/are sweet and crispy – with just enough aftertaste to know the FDA didn’t approve them.

Yes that says Glucose!

Listen, there’s no such thing as a bad cookie right? So I’m not complaining.

My husband, on the other hand, did grow up with Oreos and Chips Ahoy. But he also spent a lot of time with his beloved Nana. She was a feisty, strong Ukrainian woman who came to this country without much and raised four sons. As the matriarch of the family, she had all the grandkids over every weekend and holiday. And ofcourse, she always had this blue tin of cookies.

The cookies were super simple. Just a shortbread cookie. Each tin had a few different shapes that all basically tasted the same.

I got excited last week when I saw a cute little version of the blue tin. I grabbed it right away for my husband. Thinking it would make him smile and be reminiscent about his childhood. When he saw the tin, he immediately smiled and cracked it open. It didn’t taste the same. Something was different.

We took a closer look and it turned out that this tin was a phony. A fake.

Artificially flavored?? Danish Delights? Oh no. And here’s the real kicker…

PRODUCT OF INDIA!!

My poor husband. He just can’t get away from products from India. Lol!

Happy Sunday all.

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