Mask on? Mask off?

I just went to the grocery store this weekend. On the door it says, “If you HAVEN’T been vaccinated, we RECOMMEND a mask”. But when you enter the store there’s a sign that says, “Don’t forget your mask!” – just like that. With a friendly exclamation point. You could also take the exclamation mark as an order, but I’m assuming best intent here.

Almost everyone in the store had a mask on. A few didn’t. Even the workers were a mixed bag. Some had it on, some didn’t. I ended up putting it on. Then I was in the pickle aisle and no one had it on, so I took it off. Then I went to the diary aisle and everyone had it on, so I put it back on. I’m losing my mind.

I liked it when we were all doing the same thing. Wearing masks or not wearing masks. This weird middle time is not good for me.

Now this post isn’t for those that believe there’s no virus or that this is a global hoax. No, bless your hearts, you can keep going about your day.

This is for those people like me. I know it’s real. I followed all the rules. I made a pod. Wore the mask. I tried to be as safe as possible. But when restaurants opened up slowly last year – we went. First only outdoor, but then slowly indoor. When stores opened – we went. When vaccines came out, we got it.

We have close friends that have lost family to Covid. I’m not diminishing the severity of what we just went through – but I’m also desperately wanting it to be over.

Isn’t it possible for me to completely believe in the science of it and also want to wear lipstick again? I’m just so done with it.

If there was a scale from 1-10, 1 being the folks who thought it was a hoax, and 10 being the people who washed their delivered groceries in the garage until last week – I’m a solid 6. Maybe a 5.5. My family was careful for sure. But not the most careful, if you know what I mean.

At the beginning of the month we had a family wedding where there were literally people called “mask police”. Worst job since Norton on the Honeymooners. They would follow you around and if you were not sitting – you needed your mask on. Fair enough. My entire family was fully vaccinated at that point but I did what they asked. No big deal.

Compare that to a week ago when many of the restaurants near us dropped the capacity rules. My husband and I did our all time favorite thing. We had dinner at the bar. They still had those plastic shields up, but it was great. I want more of that.

I want no masks. I want parties. I want to go to Shoprite without hyperventilating and figuring out which aisle I’m allowed to walk into. But I want everyone to do it together. Impossible?

I thought it would be easier. I thought I’d be ok with the “you do you” approach. But it’s causing me anxiety.

You know who I like? Airports. I like airports. They have a rule. Everyone needs a mask. Done and done.

You know who I also like? All the places we went to this past weekend on the Jersey shore. They had no signs at all. No one wore a mask. Not even the servers. So we didn’t either. And we were not sorry.

I like wearing a mask on a plane or a train. I don’t like wearing a mask almost anywhere else.

I cannot be the only one. Mask haters when fully vaccinated unite!

Happy maskless Monday. Maybe.

The get-up

I think I’ve mentioned that I started walking last year. I did it to get some fresh air and to get the heck out of the house. 20/80.

You probably walk or run or bike too. Maybe even for the same 20/80 reasons as me. Although I never run. I can’t. My body doesn’t do that. If I were to be chased by an animal or alien or something, I would just surrender. It’s been a good life.

So see, we are totally alike. We’re just the same. Except when you go for a walk, you grab your headphones and maybe your phone – or you have an iwatch and you don’t even need your phone.

When I go for a walk…I have accoutrements. Some additional items.

Here’s what I grab before I go….

  • SPF 100 – yes it’s a thing. It’s real
  • Lip balm with SPF 30. I’m serious about sun damage
  • Visor – no, not baseball hat. A visor, with Velcro
  • Large sunglasses to block the sun and eye contact with other people
  • Tissues because it’s pollen season
  • Headphones – see I’m normal! Although I don’t listen to music. Ever. Like never. Only murder podcasts
  • Ankle weights. You heard me. Ankle weights. And not the cool, low-key kind. Nope. I like the Jane Fonda 80’s neon kind. Last week I added hand weights but I think I went too far. I got a lot of weird looks so I’m not gonna do that again…

BTW – if you think this is bad. I looked even more ridiculous in the winter.

Anyway the sun is out. Go take a walk. It’s easy. Just follow my 7 easy steps! Lol!

no big deal. Dogs bark at me me but I pay them no mind!
Just a low key gal exercising
Meet baby babushka

oil and vinegar

May 12, 1996 was a Sunday. Mother’s Day.

It was also the day that my husband and I eloped.

Today is our 25th anniversary. Our silver jubilee!

Last night at 10:40pm my husband of a quarter of a century said,” what do people do for their 25th anniversary? A party or something?”

He’s all mine ladies. Has been for multiple lifetimes according to some. Let me explain.

Because I like to throw money away, I go to a lot of psychics and readers. One of these readers told me that Joe and I have been married before. Many times. During many lives.

Really? Us? I loved hearing it and yet instantly doubted it.

“That’s so funny because really we are like oil and water” I said,” very different”

The reader took both my hands (this was way before Covid) and looked me dead in the eyes.

“Oil and water? No no, that’s not right. You are oil and vinegar. You emulsified. Transformed. You are perfect together” she said.

I cried ofcourse. And gave her a big tip. All these years I walked around thinking we were oil and water. Never mixing. Two different to combine. She turned it upside down. Or maybe she right sided it. She may have been a total hoax, I’ll never know. I didn’t go back to her again. I was afraid the magic moment would never happen twice.

So today, to celebrate this union of salad dressing, I thought I’d share some moments from our 25 years. These pictures doesn’t show the fights and pain and anger and sorrow – which are in between these happy moments.

It’s been good and bad and better and worse. It’s been everything you can probably imagine and everything you’ll never know. Thanks for letting me share.

How it started…

90s dorm room fashion! Denim on Denim
He went to an empty classroom and surprised me with this. I walked out of my class to go to the next one and he was there, waiting to show this to me. Creepy and cute
So many questions with this one. 1) Why did we feel the need to take a pic in front of Walmart? 2) We brought a camera to Walmart? 3) Who the heck took the pick?

We graduate and elope!

May 12, 1996, East Hampton NY
This is where our honeymoon pic should be. But because we eloped so quickly the first trip my new husband took was with his best friend to London and Amsterdam. Every new marriage should start with a trip apart. Not
This was a year later. Our honeymoon trip to Bermuda. I look at this pic and only see my healthy, shiny hair. I have issues.

This next set of pics is called – BABIES HAVING BABIES (on purpose)

Kera in my big belly, our NYC railroad apartment
Sure! Stand in the middle of Lexington Ave in NYC with a newborn in your hand. Totally safe. You’re in good hands baby girl!
Jack in my big belly, Fishkill, NY

Since it’s my Jubilee (said like Elaine says fiancé on Seinfeld), I’m going to be indulgent and keep sharing…

Joe told us he was taking us to tour Martha’s Vineyard. In reality we toured all the spots they filmed the movie Jaws. I was less than pleased.
Brussels for the day. We took the metro from Paris. Everyone spoke English.
Ugly sweater contest that I won but my neighbor stole the votes (I know what you did Jeff!)
I now like a beach thanks to this man. I also like an umbrella, a visor, and SPF 100.
One of my favorite pictures. Nothing makes him happier than a belly full of steak. I think I had creamed spinach that night. Thanks for nothing Peter Lugers.

The years, the months, the hours. I remember every minute of it, and yet it’s a blur! From the missteps we made, to the mountains we moved together, I’m so happy we went for it.

Love you Joseph.

9 years older and none the wiser

I can’t believe this blog is 9 years old. I don’t feel a day over 2.

I highly recommend writing a blog. It’s super fun. You get to pretend people want to hear what’s on your mind. You get to spout off the nonsense that’s rattling in your head.

Most days I have nothing to write about. Other days there’s so much to say.

I have a dozen posts in drafts that never saw the light of day. Mostly because they were awful. You’re welcome.

So 9 years went by. I took breaks. Long ones. But I’ll still celebrate the milestone. Besides my kids I haven’t grown anything for 9 years.

What will the 10th year bring?? More cooking posts? More skincare posts? More deep, intelligent thoughts about Oprah and bread? Yes. All of it.

Why don’t you write a blog? I’m telling you it’s easy. You can do it. I’ll read it. I’ll be your first follower.

Thank you for reading. Thank you for commenting. Thank you for all the texts and notes about the posts I’ve written. I love doing it.

Lookout for the WMEP Podcast coming soon… JK JK

Diet tips…Vol.1

First have a healthy, balanced dinner.

Then walk to the kitchen, pass a pizza pie your 17 year old with a metabolic rate of a cheetah ordered as a snack and keep walking.

Loop around, go back into the kitchen once he’s done and spy the box.

Because being wasteful is bad, decide to not throw out the leftover slice. But since you’re also literally trying to walk your ass off, only cut off a small piece. Go back to watching tv.

Loop around. And again.

And again.

Calories consumed in small pieces don’t count. It’s a law.

When finished delete your 17 year olds door dash account to show him who’s boss and project your anger and guilt.

Here’s the tale visually

Vol. 2 coming soon… how to eat a donut in 29 bites.

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.

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.

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.

#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

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