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.

Be angry at the right people

I’m no therapist. I don’t even play one on TV. It’s also very likely that I actually need a therapist. But I do try to be self aware and aware of others. It doesn’t always work. There are many times I walk away from someone or a situation and I’m not proud. I try hard when I feel a sense of injustice or anger to take a moment to think through what’s happening.

In the past few weeks I’ve noticed a lot of angry interactions. I’m sure you have to. I’m not talking about road rage (which I don’t get, if you want to pass me – please pass me. I hope you win the invisible race you’re in with yourself). I’m talking about those small, bickering, biting conversations that happen at the customer service counter, or the register, or at the restaurant (when we were allowed in).

Here’s some scenarios I’m talking about:

You see your waitress running around trying to cover twice as many tables as usual and you’re upset you’re coffee wasn’t refilled. You qualified for a free turkey but never picked it up, now you want the store to make good – weeks later – even though the program expired. Or you’re on the phone with a customer representative in Taiwan or India trying to fix your cell phone charges and you’re having trouble with the language barrier.

You start slowly getting upset. You feel like you’re being ignored at the restaurant. You feel like the grocery store you spend hundreds of dollars in every week should treat you better. You are so frustrated that you have a problem and on top of everything you’re dealing with, now there are translation issues. So what do you do?

Do you say something snarky to the waitress when she finally comes to the table, or the cashier at the store, or do you blow-up on the representative on the phone? I know I’ve done all 3. I’m sure you have too.

Here’s the new game I try and play in my head. Every time a person in a situation frustrates me I think,” is this the person I should really be mad at?”

The answer, almost all of the time, is no. Now I’m not talking about “redirected” anger or some other clinical stuff I know nothing about. If you have daddy issues and you’re yelling at pedestrians, this post isn’t about you. I’m just talking about normal, everyday pissy behavior.

And to that point, I guess this post should really be about not getting angry at all. We should be preaching peace on earth and forgiveness, etc. Which is right – and I’m into it. But I’m also into getting yourself worked up sometimes. It’s ok. It’s good for you.

I didn’t grow up thinking that. No, we had a very quiet, let-the-anger-simmer-underneath house. Not a lot of yelling. But don’t worry – what we lacked in shouting, we made up for in passive aggressive dinners.

Maybe many of you grew up in yelling houses. Where there were big, loud fights all the time. Maybe that’s better? Who knows. Or maybe there’s a happy middle. Not the underground buried anger – but also not the hot volcano of doom. A medium, appropriate amount of rage for every situation. I dunno.

This has been a trying year for many reasons. The least we can do is forgive ourselves for losing our shit every once in a while. I’m just asking you to direct it at the right people.

If the restaurant isn’t staffed right, that’s the manager or owners fault. If you don’t want to complain to them – you should pick another place to eat. The grocery store cashier has rules he/she was told to follow. You arguing at the register is a waste of time. And for gods sakes don’t go to customer service. They can’t help you change the system Norma Rae, calm down! Ask for a store manager and move aside so the rest of us can pay and get out.

And then there’s my all time favorite. If you are upset at the 20 year old call center rep, in some third world country, who is probably working 15 hours a day for 1% of minimum wage in this country and considers the job a blessing – you are angry at the wrong person! This young man or woman didn’t steal a job from anyone. They were given a golden ticket to get out of poverty in their country by a corporation that did not want to pay a living wage in the US. Find the CEO of that company, probably playing golf in Florida or Arizona, and be upset with them. Or at the very least, just ask to speak to the most senior person they can get you to.

I sound like I’m a cool cucumber all the time. Lie! Not true. I’ve been so mean to phone reps they’ve hung up on me. And what did that get me? Nada. Nothing.

I know people who ask for a manager are now called Karen’s. I fully own up to being a Karen sometimes. And I also know most people, like my family, would rather eat nails than make a fuss anywhere. But sometimes you have to, and it’s ok. It’s ok to be want something fixed. It’s ok to want things done the right way. That shouldn’t make you a Karen. But the how and who matter.

Thank the waitress who is overwhelmed. Thank the cashier who bagged your groceries. Be kind to people trying to make a small living. If they are annoyed, if they are iterated, it’s because they are in this with you. Not against you.

Now go get your free turkey Karen, you earned it.

It’s a conspiracy stupid

This is not a political post.

This is a post about the hundreds of thousands of people who believe deeply in conspiracy theories.

Remember The X-Files? Mulder and Scully traveling the country to solve mysteries and fall in love?

The truth is out there!

One of my childhood favorites. I was a believer like Mulder. Scully was annoying and didn’t smile enough, but I liked that she went along with things. My point is – I get it. I’m into this notion that we may not know the truth about everything.

This year I’ve read and heard a lot about conspiracies. But those are just the big ones – pizza gate, etc. Those are the stories that made the news channels and headlines. For every crazy story that made it through – there’s 10 that didn’t.

Let me digress here for one second. I’m not on Twitter. I love social media, I always have. I love Instagram and Facebook. This year TikTok came into my life, and China be damned, I’m loving it. And I consider YouTube an essential learning tool. But Twitter? I don’t get it. No pictures? No videos? I’m like a toddler, I’m out. Seems like just a cesspool of angry words. No thank you. Take me back to the synchronized dancing family on TikTok.

People love Twitter. My kids spend the majority of their time on it. And truth be told, with all the news about Facebook, maybe it’s better? Maybe not. You know who else loves Twitter? Conspiracy theorists. On Twitter, something even Breitbart rejected as shady, gets lifeblood.

Here are two stories that raged on Twitter this year…

The Mole Children of NYC

Back in April when New York City hospitals were worried about capacity to care for Covid patients, they put some large white tents. Some of these hospitals are near Central Park, so the tents went up near or in the park itself. So all of this is real. Another nugget of truth are the underground tunnels. They exist. You can take a tour at Halloween. So these are the factual parts.

Here’s the kookoo bird part. There are thousand of people on Twitter that believe that those tents were a part of a Pentagon rescue mission. A department called The Pentagon Pedofile Taskforce rescued 35,000 children that were enslaved in underground tunnels in Central Park. Mole children who had lived their whole life underground after being abducted and captured. Some children, they claimed, were born underground so deformed and malnourished that they looked like little moles. This particular theory is unusual also because it’s a happy tale. The task force not only saved the children, but also killed and blew up all the captors (who apparently lived down there too).

This story had over 14,000 shares on Twitter. Thousands of comments about where to send money to help these mole children. There was no video, no photos, nothing.

Let me put my Scully cap on for a bit, since the Mulder in me wants to atleast give this a moment of thought.

Logistics. 35,000 children is a lot. That’s a college. Now, add to this that most are blind and weak. Probably can’t walk fast or run. Have you ever seen a concert let out? Or a sports event? People and chaos everywhere. It’s organized chaos, but it’s not quiet. How did they do it? Even if the media was told not to cover it – wasn’t there some nosy dude walking by with a camera? It’s New York City, you’re never alone!

But that’s the story. What happened to the kids? Why didn’t anyone hear the explosions underground? No answers.

There was so much noise on Twitter that Reuters did a whole fact check article on it. Can you guess what it said? Ok good.

Here is one more… this one is scarier to me because it’s not just internet yammer. It’s a believer who took action.

Train derailed by engineer in Port of Los Angeles

In April, apparently a big month for kookoo birds, Eduardo Moreno derailed a train in the Port of Los Angeles.

Eduardo was an engineer for the Pacific Harbor Line. A well liked and hardworking guy, according to the company. A “normal” guy that was convinced that a ship called Mercy that had just pulled into the port was up to no good. Specifically- it was being used to either spread Covid or cover-up the truth about Covid.

He detailed the train off the tracks, went through a concrete barrier, then through a parking lot – which was luckily empty- and came to a stop before it got near the docks. He jumped out with a flare in his hand and ran toward the ship.

Trains are big and he wasn’t going that fast. When he derailed it, it slowed to a speed that allowed nearby police to arrive on the scene. They arrested Eduardo standing there with the flare, yelling at the ship.

He told the arresting officer that he couldn’t just stand by and do nothing. He had to try and “save us all”.

He told the officers that the flare was for them – to get their attention so they could help him. He cried when he told them adamantly that he had “one shot to do this and failed.”

The ship Mercy was a cargo vessel that was carrying steel and stone to Canada.

Eduardo Morena is waiting trial so I’m sure we will hear a lot more details soon. I want to know how he heard about the ship? What started this all?

I don’t really care about the people who sit in their basements and believe in mole children. I really care about the Eduardo’s of the world. The ones who are crazy enough to put their plan into action. And there is still a part of me, my Mulder part, that wants to know the truth.

Is he just crazy? Is he just caught up in our world of too much content? Maybe neither, maybe both. Or maybe the Cigarette Smoking Man got a hold of him (Google it).

*cue closing music*

2011 in 2020

Way back in 1995, we were gifted a very special ornament from a Pier One collection called Li Bien. These are hand painted from the inside (which is what li bien means in Chinese, from the inside) and each one has the year on it.

This started a tradition. Our first tradition ever.

And a collection. Every year since then we are gifted another one. Sometimes two. I love them. I have dreams of my kids taking them to their homes. And the packaging! For me it’s all about the packaging. These little beauties come in a velvet box.

This year, since we’re all trapped at home together, the kids and my husband helped me decorate the tree. A job that usually takes me 2 hours was done in 15 minutes. Mostly because the crew wanted it over and done with. Still counts as family time right?

As we were unpacking the ornaments, I was telling the kids – for the millionith time – about how much these mean to me etc. I was also telling my 17 year old son who is all arms and legs to be gentle, delicate. As I said this, I went and dropped an ornament. A Le Bien ornament. 2011 to be exact.

I was devastated. I wanted to throw-up.

I know there are bigger things to be upset about. I tried to pretend it was ok. My husband, who is usually one to make a big joke out of a mistake like that, stayed silent. He knew.

I took a deep breath and shook it off. It’s just our ONLY yearly tradition. No biggie. It’s just the ONE thing we have that connects us to family through time and space. It’s fine.

Cut to last night. When my husband brought in this little gem.

He went on Ebay, found the old ornament, and got it for me.

And I cried.

When people ask me how it’s possible that I married someone I met at 19 and never looked back – it’s because of this story. And a hundred others like it.

He knows me, from the inside.

Gobbled 2020

Happy Sunday night! I hope you all had a good/weird Thanksgiving. Doesn’t it feel like it was a year ago? Tomorrow it’s back to work. Which isn’t so bad, but it’s not as good as sleeping, let’s be honest.

You know that line from Elf? The one where he says, “smiling is my favorite.” Well for me, sleeping is my favorite. Oh I love it so much. My bed. My pillow. My very unsexy pjs. Love it all.

Two friends of mine both just recently recommended CBD to me. Independently. They just started taking it at night and now they sleep like a baby. Lucky for me, I’ve always been a big baby. No sleep issues here.

I’m always worried when I hear that excessive sleeping is a sign of depression. I mean… what’s excessive? That’s a very broad word. Like when they say, “that’s an excessive amount of wine.” Tomato, tOEmato.

This blog wasn’t supposed to be about sleeping. I digressed.

Anyway, our turkey day was great – I started it by digging into the apple pie, which I had with my morning coffee watching the Macy’s Parade (sad spectacle). I decided since it was 2020 and we need to do literally anything to makes ourselves happy right now, that I could cut right into the store bought pie with no feelings of guilt or weirdness. I was wrong ofcourse. Guilt and weirdness are like my home-base. I end up there whether I like it or not. Pie was still delicious.

The rest of the day was a blur of activity – not as quiet as I thought it would be. But Kera and I squeezed in a walk. We live in one of the most beautiful parts of the country, Bucks County. It’s got the best of all worlds all around it. Philadelphia, New York City, the beach and everything in between. You wanna go to Target, go left. You wanna go to the Delaware Canal, go right. It’s amazing. So we walked. Never in a million years – pre-covid years – could I take a walk on Thanksgiving day. So I guess thanks Covid? It was great.

It was just the four of us that night at dinner but it felt full and complete. I missed our other family, but sitting at a candle lit table with just our little humans was just as good. Food wise? Let’s see – I ran out of turkey for reasons to be explained at another time. The mac and cheese and stuffing both were over cooked and dried out. But my husband crunched his way through dinner and the kids were sweet about it. It’s fine. It wasn’t our last meal.

I hope you had a good day and a good weekend. Now, it’s time to take some CBD, have a piece of pie or give yourself a heavy pour of vino. This holiday is a wrap, but no worries, there’s another one right around the corner.

Goodnight.

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