Yesterday

Here’s what I did in an effort to not watch the news…

I baked a cake. Alison Roman’s Sticky Apple cake. Google the recipe – it’s so good. I know lots of people don’t like her now. She was a popular NYT food writer and had a ton of cooking demos on YouTube. Then she started getting popular and said something snarky about Chrissy Teigen in a magazine article. Chrissy responded. The internet blew up and long social media story short – Alison was “cancelled”. She lost followers. Lost her job. Had to write a public apology. Then had to write another because the first was deemed not sorry enough. Then people started accusing her of appropriating recipes, for example her very popular The Stew, which people thought was really just an Americanized version of an Indian dish called Chana Masala. Was it? Kind of. But I didn’t agree completely. There’s no coconut milk in Chana Masala. And her recipe didn’t have the one main thing that makes Chana Masala Chana Masala – garam masala! The combo of spices that makes it smell and taste like the Indian dish. It did have turmeric – but so what? Do Indians own turmeric? Don’t answer that. So now she’s a pariah and had to work her way back quietly into the world. It’s all too much. I like her. I like her chickpea stew. And I really love this apple cake so apologies for spending so much time on Chana Masala.

Then I got my hair did.

I had taken half the day off from work just so I could be trapped in a salon, covering my greys for two hours. This is the first time in my adult life that I have a hair dresser. A woman who I consistently go to and who I can call my own. For years I bopped from one salon to the next. There were also years were I went to one of those fast food type hair places – you know what I mean. $18 cut. You might get Shirly who has done hair for 20 years, or you might get Wendy who just got her license last night. I’ve also gone to the places in NYC where no less than 5 people “work” on different parts of your haircut. I’m happy to never go to either of those places ever again. All in all it was a good visit until the end. She said, in her cute Mexican accent, “I’m going to put a little extra hairspray at the back because you have fine hair”. Fine hair? Excuse me? Ummm no. No I don’t. I have thick, healthy hair. All my life hair dressers have commented on how very thick and healthy my hair is. I’m from a culture that sells hair to the entire world. That’s what I wanted to say, but I didn’t. I just smiled and died inside. Fine hair. Ok ok, it’s just a comment. Nothing to obsesses about. No big deal. I immediately drove from the salon to CVS to get these hair vitamins. Sigh.

At least I’m predictable. I’ll let you know if they work. Good news – during all that time I was getting my hair done and getting emotionally wounded by my hair dresser, I was…..drumroll…not watching the news!

I worked the polls! It was my first ever civic-minded volunteerism. I liked it. I didn’t love it. I mean it was a bit….disorganized…they could have used a project manager or an admin or something. I was there for 3 hours trying to help people who were actually just fine. They just wanted to get in and out and back to their lives. But I tried right? More importantly, it was 3 hours that I wasn’t watching the news!

After all that – at the end of the day, I did watch the news. We went to a neighbor’s house (someone we’ve been in a quarantine pod with) and watched some of the live action, ate some food and had some booze. It was just what the doctor ordered. I did want to share something funny I noticed as we were watching the results.

Do you know the app Calm? It’s pretty cool. It’s a meditation and stress relief app that I’ve been using since last year. It has everything from quick breathing techniques to bedtime stories that are peaceful and…for lack of a better word, calming. Anyway as I was watching the “countdown” to our country’s finale, I caught this. Calm sponsored that portion of the night. Genius! Give that marketing department a raise.

We didn’t stay long. That night my husband sent me this picture he’d taken earlier of the sun setting behind our house. I had spent the whole day avoiding being here because I thought it would cause me stress and anxiety. But looking at this picture gave me the most peaceful feeling I’d had all day. Dorky but true.

So that’s what I did yesterday.

Today was another day. Back to work. Back to life. Back to stress, and back to the news.

Civil unrest? I’ve got a mask for that…

I’m not trying to make light of things. I know next week is the election. I know people are on edge and this is no joking matter. I’m with you. I get it.

I don’t know if next week will be a big nothing burger and I should make my doctor’s appointment or wait to see if riots break out. Strange times. That’s why today I’ll give you a historic lesson on voting in America…not! The only voting I can fully explain is how an American Idol is picked.

Here’s what I can do. I can make you think about frivolity for just 5 minutes. Join me in a little distraction why don’t you. A little respite from reality. Not at a Kardashian level (that was crazy, did you see it? Private island! Holograms of dead dads! Nuts).

If you are like me, you’ve done a lot of online shopping during the past few months. I’ve done more than usual. And I buy all kinds of crap. In the documentary, The Social Dilemma (did you see this? Even scarier than the Kardashians fiddling away while Rome burns). Anyway one of the creators of Instagram says that social media is now just a mall. She’s so right. It’s just so easy. And there’s been nothing to do, and nowhere to go.

One of my best qualities is that I don’t discriminate where I buy clothes from. Did you know Costco sells dresses? I do. I’ve worn one to a big meeting at work. I’ve worn Walmart pjs as a dress too (no one knew). I have no shame. Online is no different. I’ll buy from Bergdorf’s, QVC, China – I don’t care. I’ll buy it all. It’s the same with beauty products. I’ll buy almost anything from almost anywhere.

So here’s what I’ve gotten recently and my two cents on it:

I’ll start with my favorite. My son Jack gave this to me as a birthday present back in May and I used it up in just a few weeks. I’m on bottle number 3 now. It’s so so good – exfoliates, makes your skin brighter, tingles a bit and smells like pumpkin! Very on brand for this time of year. Get yourself some asap. Worth all $60.

This stuff is AMAZING. Quai pronounced KAY? QWAY? QWO? I dunno. But it’s so good. Rose hair and body oil that I also use on my face. I’m like an oil slick at night. It’s attractive. This was like $16 – and a little goes a long way. It smells lightly of rose and sinks right into your skin and hair. Heaven. If heaven was a rose oil.

This next purchase happened because I follow Goop on Instagram. The first 1,000 times they advertised it I looked away. Then I gave in and got it. It’s $55 for a big fat tub. The ads had these really crunchy women in short shorts lathering on huge amounts. They seemed really moisturized. I am still using it, but it’s just meh. Just ok. I wouldn’t spend the money. My search for a good all body moisturizer continues. I’ll keep you posted.

This. THIS. Have you used it? Do you hate it? This came from my daughter’s stash. She tried it once and had to remove it immediately. It burned too much. If you know me, you know this was music to my ears. Burned you say? Like a layer of skin off? Sign me up! And she’s right. It’s highly uncomfortable. I love it. Reviews all agree with Kera. No one likes it. I’ll definitely be buying it again. $15. Go get it. I dare you.

We were late to this game. I know many of you already knew about this but I’d never heard of Dr. Bronner’s! Holy moly it’s good. Is it scary that I can use it as a body soap and then use it to remove soap scum in the shower? Why yes it is! But as stated above, if it’s tingly…it’s for me. Buy the bottle for your reading pleasure alone. A giant bottle is $10. I’ve been using this one since May. No joke

Last but not least. These cooling water eye patches are the best. And I’ve tried many. These are the best. They cool. They calm. I love them so much I put them on to write this blog.

Happy weekend everyone. Deep breaths. xoxo

Rando Friday fodder

Things that started thriving after I stopped taking care of them:

At the beginning of each summer, my husband goes out and gets me beautiful, colorful hanging plants for the front of our house. They hang on hooks on our front porch and look like dangly earrings for the house. Makes me so happy. This year, he also brought home two Hibiscus plants. And just like every summer past, I watered, nursed, and loved them…to death. No blooms. No growth. They didn’t die. But they weren’t happy. In the past I just threw them out in disgust, but this year I didn’t. At the end of August, usually the time I give up, I brought them to the backyard and stopped looking after them. I literally put all the plants in a corner. Ignored them. No more watering. No more pruning. Nothing. And guess what? They are living their best, blooming life! Who knew (except people who know flowers)! Moral of the story – I will no longer be parenting my kids. I’m assuming the same is true for them 🙂

Squirrel Smorgasbord:

Long story short – I spent a buttload of money on beautiful pumpkins and gourds which basically fed all the squirrels in our neighborhood. I really wanted to do a whole Fall Festival vibe in my backyard. I know that sounds corny (ha ha), but it’s Covid, and I gotta have something to focus on. I went and bought these pumpkins and put them all around – in back, in the front – everywhere. We’re tripping over pumpkins. But it didn’t look right. Something was off. So I started asking people what I was doing wrong. My neighbor, Marcella, who has a really creative eye, came to my rescue. And she brought props. Different textures and heights, she said, that’s what was missing. She was right. Stacking crap on top of each other doesn’t count as décor. So she tweaked, she leaned, she brought a silver urn to the party – it was fabbbbbbulous (as she would say). Then she convinced me to buy corn stalks to add to the ambiance – I jumped and got them. Did you know decorative corn stalks are actually real corn stalks? Did you know that corn stalks have actual corn on them? Did you also know that squirrels love corn like I love wine? True story. This is why we can’t have nice things.

The rat bastard

(side story….a left one of the gourds in my husband’s Jeep and it rolled under one of the seats and rotted. He found it because of the pungent Doritos-like smell that now covers every inch of his beloved car. He’s cleaned it with everything he could get his hands on. Smell will not go away. I don’t know if there are other Jeep owners reading this, but I’m not exaggerating when I say that it was the very first time in our 24 year marriage that I was afraid he would leave me. I felt terrible. The smell is better now… but not gone. All I wanted was a Fall Festival vibe people).

Tarot Thursday

One of the many perks of living in Bucks County are all the local farms and vineyards. There’s always something to do, even now. This past Thursday I went with a small, safe group of gals to do a reading at a local vineyard. It was outdoors and there was plenty of social distancing. Do you believe in Tarot? I’ve only done it twice and both times my mind was blown. Am I an easy target, maybe, but it was so much fun. I won’t tell you the cards I drew because I’m still processing, but the whole thing was completely on point. I’ll just say that there was swords, swords and death involved but apparently it’s all good! Like I said – still processing.

Hope you all have a great weekend. Stay away from squirrels, swords and me, apparently.

I like a brothy soup (also the blog is back)

Hello friends. It’s October 2020. Are you there? Do you care? It’s been a minute, but I think I can catch you up quickly.

New Year. Pandemic. Plans dashed. Graduations cancelled. Baking, cooking, puzzle making in full effect. TV watching at an all-time high. Everyone’s healthy. Everyone’s home all the time. Everyone’s happy most of the time. Did I mention everyone’s home all the time?

That’s it! Now we can move forward.

I like a brothy soup. Now I don’t mean that I’m not into creamy soups. I do like a potato leek, and I’m not going to say no to a butternut squash jobby in the fall. But they can’t be a thick paste. That’s not a soup. That’s a puree. By the way – if you like a puree – go for it. But if a soup can’t drip off the spoon…. it’s not for me.

I mention this because we are in the heart of “thick” soup season. Last week I ordered a roasted tomato and basil soup which was basically a sauce for my pasta. It wasn’t bad – but I’m not sure I signed-up to drink a bowl of Ragu.

Soup has a long and sordid history for me. I grew up eating Dals, which were kinda like soups but different. They were a part of every meal – but never the main star. Dals based on lentils, vegetables and even yogurt. Loved them all – but basically they were a vehicle for the rice or the bread. (This may not be true for all people who eat Dal – I’m sure there are very healthy Indians that just eat a bowl of Dal and call it a day. I was not one of those people)

But I loved the idea of American soups – mostly because I couldn’t have any of them because they all started with a meat stock.

The only canned soup we ever had in our house was Campbell’s tomato soup. You add an extra can of water, a healthy dose of pepper and there you have it. Nothing special. But runny. Not saucy.

My mother-in-law Terry, who I adored, loved French Onion Soup – which sounded like the perfect soup for me! Cheese, bread, lots of onions – my top 3 things in life (besides my husband, daughter and son), but alas it’s also chock full of chicken stock. And I know what you’re thinking, make it with vegetable stock. I’ve tried. It’s not that great.

The other soup I’ve pined for is a matzo ball soup. A clear, herby broth with a big ball of carb… that sounds like it could totally be my thing. And I know what you’re thinking again, make it with vegetable stock. I’ve tried. It’s not that great.

And I’m not even going to mention Gazpacho because it’s a chopped salad, not a soup. Stop calling it a soup. Please and thank you.

Aren’t you glad this deep, introspective blog of thoughtful content is back?

31 days 3 things

I don’t do deprivation. I also don’t go on big diets. I’ve never done Keto or Paleo or anything like that. In high school I did Slimfast. Once. But I blame Oprah. She rolled out that wheel of fat and I couldn’t resist. For you young kids out there that don’t know what I’m talking about – YouTube it.

I know what you’re thinking. It’s January. Here comes the obligatory post about resolutions and diets. But that’s not what this is.

This post is about habits. I’ve formed some bad habits. Nothing criminal or overly damaging, but bad none the less. There were 3 things that ramped up for me these last few months. Facebook(FB), booze and going out to eat.

3 things that are all innocuous on the surface but I was taking to new heights.

Booze… I don’t really need to explain right? Thanksgiving to Christmas was full of “cheer”. And between Christmas and New Year’s? Let’s just say I was “cheerful” from lunch to dinner to bed *hiccup*.

Facebook… oh I love social media. I’ve told you that already. But when social media is more entertaining that being actually social. Time for a pause. A respite. Btw I’m not giving up Instagram. Maybe in 2021.

Eating out… I love eating out! It’s the best. Not just the no cooking part, but the whole experience. Picking where to go, what to order, what to drink, etc. I love it all. It was/is one of my favorite hobbies. When we travel the first thing I do is find places to eat. But lately, the fun is slipping away. We’ve eaten everywhere in town. We’ve eaten everywhere in surrounding towns. We’re locals at multiple places. We don’t even need to look at most menus. It’s too much. We need a break. I’m not saying I’m cooking all the time – there’s no shame in the DoorDash game- but enough with the restaurants.

That’s it. Just three small changes for January. Not forever. Just 31 days to develop some new habits. A palate cleanser. Nothing more.

This isn’t for weight loss (you’ll never take my carbs from me!)and I have zero desire to do some sort of self evolution. It’s not that dramatic. I just want to see if I can re-adjust my current normal. Just tilting the ship upright a bit.

My blogs post automatically to my FB, in case you’re wondering if I’m cheating already. I’m not, and I’ve deleted the app from my phone and computer. I’ll miss seeing all the birthdays and photos, but I’ll be back Feb 1…unless I fold like a cheap suit. Which is fine too. I like cheap suits.

Pasta Non Pronto

I spent the day yesterday covered in flour (semolina and all purpose), and I was thrilled! A few weeks ago, at a neighborhood party, I found out that two of my lovely neighbors, Larry and Marcela, knew how to make pasta from scratch. I started asking a lot of questions and then blurted out,” would you teach me?” They agreed and our day of “not ready” pasta or pasta non pronto came together.

We did what any normal, food obsessed people would do. We had a meeting to talk through what we would make. The types of pasta, the sauces, the wine…. oh there would be wine!

There would be 3 different pasta courses. Ravioli, spaghetti, and fettuccine. The ravioli would be stuffed with pumpkin and served with a butter sage sauce. The spaghetti would be served cacio e pepe, which translates to “cheese and pepper” and the fettuccine would have a fra diavolo sauce – which means “among the devil”, it’s a spicy sauce with seafood. To break up the courses we’d start with salad, then some homemade meatballs as apps and then 3 courses of pasta. This is the anti-Keto dinner people. If you’re afraid of carbs… don’t come a knocking.

But before we feasted – we cooked! Oh boy did we cook… here’s a look at my favorite day this year! Words wouldn’t do it justice, so here’s the photos…

Humble beginnings
That filling was so good we could have just eaten it with a spoon and we might have.
Have you ever seen anything prettier?
Little pockets of perfection
My two fabulous teachers.
A pecan, sage, garlic butter sauce to die for, and the lovely chef who made it!

And now… we eat!

We ate the spaghetti cacio e pepe before I could take a pic… but it existed. And it was amazing.

This is my happy pasta face….

If you can, find some generous, loving people who want to spend a Sunday cooking pasta with you..that’s my happy face.

Ps. My 16 year old son opted out of the fresh pasta and requested this type of pasta for his dinner. Kraft pasta pronto 🙂

Service please! Pretty please?

Here’s an unfiltered picture of where we’ve been for a couple of days. Peaceful. Beautiful. Wide open beaches with no fighting for the best view…everyone gets a good view. We try and come to this little piece of heaven every year. It’s a fancy place but we come all unfancy. We stay with family. We avoid all the crazy crowded restaurants. We try to vacation like a local.

Except we’re not local. We know it. They know it.

A couple of years ago, my husband’s godmother took us to the most delicious little pizzeria in town. It was so unassuming and relaxed – but the food was no joke. The lines out the door proved it.

We began going every time we visited. It was always a sure thing.

You sit. You order a $20 dollar bottle of wine. If you’re my husband you order the seafood fra diavolo, and If you’re me, you get linguini with garlic and oil… because cheese is no longer my friend. And without fail… the food is good. Really good.

Is it slow? Sure. Is it the best service? No. It’s a pizzeria, we get it. I’m not looking for a concierge level experience. I’m looking for bare bones. I’m looking for some water. I’m looking to get the stuff we ordered getting to us. Maybe a quick, brief check-in to see if we need anything. Basic.

Tonight we got none of it. Nothing.

Let me back up.

Admittedly I’m a tough critic of restaurants – food and service. It’s my job. It’s what I worry about all the time. Service. Food. Experience. My husband is the opposite. By the burly looks of him you’d think he’d be the harder judge. But he’s a softie. His mom waitressed to make ends meet when he and his sister were little. He heard all the stories of crabby customers. It’s a hard job. Thankless. Under appreciated. He’s very very sensitive to that.

His idea of a tip for bad service is 18%. It’s his ultimate “gotcha”. If that man leaves you less than 20% you basically didn’t serve him at all. I’ve seen him overtip at every level. I’ve seen him go back to a restaurant where someone else has paid for our meal just to confirm the tip was good. He’s nuts! In a good way. I am mostly in agreement with this. Except when it’s bad service.

We’ve lived with this dichotomy for our entire relationship. I know he can’t take it if I ask the person waiting on us for more than 2 things,” excuse me, can I get some salt?”, “can we get some water?”. That’s it. That’s all I get. And I’m fine with that. Do I mentally make note of all the things that could have gone better? Ofcourse! Do I say anything? Almost never. Like practically never. Between my husband and my kids, the goal is always the same. Don’t make trouble. Just let it go. And I usually do. But not tonight.

Tonight was the worst service we’ve ever had. Worse than the time our waiter left his shift and never told anyone he still had a table. Worse than the time the woman waiting on us was having a full blown fight with the kitchen staff. This was… epic bad. I’m not going to go into detail. You can guess. I’m sure it’s happened to you too.

To clarify how bad it was, when I said to my husband at the end of our dinner,” wow, she’s getting zero tip. None.” I waited to hear what I thought he’d say, which is,”no freaking way”, instead he said,”yep”. I couldn’t believe it. No talk about how harsh I am. No talk about her having a bad day. Nothing. Just full agreement. She was worse than I thought.

So. For the very first time since I’ve known him – about 25 years – we left no tip. By the way, even though this was a very casual pizzeria type place, our bill was over a $100. That’s how this town rolls. And guess what? The food was worth every penny.

Even now, hours later, we are both guilt ridden. Justifying to ourselves why we left her no tip. Trying to validate our actions so we can sleep tonight. It’s no bueno.
We weren’t rude. We weren’t mean. But it still feels rotten. Have you ever done this? Please lie and tell me you have. Going to bed now. Full of regret, guilt and antacids.

You can’t always get what you want…

You know what’s funny about this picture? If you guessed me in a T-shirt…. you win. If you guessed me in a rock band T-shirt… you win even more.

In our family, I’m odd man out – and not just because I live in a house full of water signs and I’m an air sign. No. I’m the weirdo in the family that doesn’t like music. I mean I LIKE music… I don’t LOVE music. I mean I love some music…and I love to dance… and I love Beyoncé…but I could do without it. Almost all the time. I’m big on silence. Or TV. Or talk radio. Basically minimal noise that can lull you into a deep sleep at any time. Groovy right??

Let me now introduce you to my husband. This is a man who will tell you that music defined his childhood. Music was a saving grace, a passion. He vividly remembers buying his first speaker. His first cassette tape. He remembers every concert he’s ever been to. Although he forgets how I take my coffee at Dunkin, he has an encyclopedic amount of info on decades of music.

This is him… have you ever seen anyone happier to be holding a foam tongue??

Music is everywhere in our lives and in our home. We have, per capita, more speakers in our average sized home than most hotels I’ve been to.

When we get into the car his first instinct is to turn the radio on. Mine is to turn the radio down.

Its no surprise, and I’ve talked about it before, that he passed this love of music on to our kids. They all love music. They share music. They talk about music. It’s exhausting!

I mean I passed stuff onto the kids too. Jack is slightly paranoid about germs and Kera loves spicy food – so it’s not like I got nothing, but it’s not as big as this collective love they have for music. The biggest thing to happen to our family was when they switched from iTunes to Spotify. They share playlists. They Shazam new songs from each other and talk about the next live band they want to see. I’ll never forget how proud my husband was when our daughter went to her first live concert. I was worried she’d be mugged and drugged. He was worried that she’d think the band was bad. These are true stories people.

Here’s a secret….I would pay good money to never go to another concert (did I say that out loud?). Don’t tell them. They already think I’m an alien.

Ok so you get it. Back to the picture. So why is the person who cares the least about going to see The Rolling Stones the only one wearing the tee?? Why is the person who loathes wearing clothing with words wearing giant red lips?? Because I’m a good mother… that’s why!

Actually it’s because that night wasn’t about the music at all. Let’s face it – while they were listening to the songs, I was thinking about the how much the large LED screens cost and how the tech set-up could have been a teeny bit neater.

That night was the first time in months that it was the 4 of us together. Alone. Alone together. You know what I mean.

I could have cared less about what Mick sounded like (good!) or how old Keith looked (super duper old!). We tailgated. They let me take pics. We wore silly ponchos when it rained. It was the best. I’d do it again tonight. Or like next month because it was a really late night last night.

It may not have been what I wanted – but it was exactly what I needed. Rock on party people.

My darlings

This quote by Aldous Huxley was posted by a good friend a few weeks ago. Besides the fact that we are legit living Brave New World, I’d forgotten how much I loved his writing.

I sent the quote to my kids immediately. They’re used to it. I’m always sending them videos or quotes or things I need to make sure they see and know. Not sure it ever sinks in but I’m calling it an effort and checking my parenting box for the day. Sometimes that’s all I have the energy for.

“Lightly, lightly”…. it is the best advice.

I think about it at work. At home. On social media.

I’m pretty good about not overthinking. Obsessing. I don’t have too many talents but one has always been that I can walk away from anything or anyone that makes me feel bad. I’m not into it.

Someone said to me that I’m always in a good mood. That’s not true. I’m always trying to be in a good mood. I see no point in being miserable. I also think it’s almost always a choice. Unless there’s abuse involved or if you’re a young child – you can choose to not be miserable. At least try.

I know it’s easier said than done. I know there’s a lot of competition for joy out there. Everyone’s got their own definition of what joy looks like. That’s ok. Because there’s enough for everyone. It’s abundant. Your joy may come from hiking a mountain, mine comes from Bravo. Doesn’t make it any less or more joyful.

Don’t let the quick sands drag you in. Don’t scroll Instagram or Facebook and be angry. You’re using it wrong. Don’t blame the game. Use it for what you want it for. Walk away from the rest.

Same goes for people. There are a lot of people in the world. A lot. Like everyone else, I’ve found some good people and I’ve found some duds. The duds have to go. Doesn’t matter if they’re friends or family. It doesn’t mean that they are evil or bad or that they’ve done me wrong in any way. I just can’t carry their weight. Too heavy. Too hard.

I also know that I’m a dud in someone else’s story. I get it. I’m ok with it.

I’ll keep reading this quote. Maybe you will too❤️

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