Scissor Lift and Painter’s Tape

I’m so lucky to be able to continue working despite Covid’s impact on daily activities. Some tasks can be done at home and others in a warehouse where I’m working alone. There is some interaction with others, but it’s easy to maintain the appropriate distance and wear a mask.

The warehouse work, I may have previously mentioned, is lettering storage units. The basic job is to remove old labels from the units, clean off dried up glue, and apply vinyl numbers/letters. It’s a straightforward task made fiddly as the area being worked on is about ten feet in the air. Initially, I was working off a ladder. Up the ladder to spritz with Goo Gone and the scraping off residual glue would commence. Rats, I dropped the scraper. Down the ladder to retrieve said tool and back up. Ooopsie. There go the paper towels. Down and up again. Drag the ladder, bottles of this and that, crate of materials to the next unit and start over. By the time the end of a row was reached, all units were ready to have the vinyl applied. I make all the vinyl bits on a Cricut machine. It takes about 2.5 hours to go from uncut vinyl to this point, for about 16 units.

The numbers are input into the computer and individually sized. A few pushes of buttons later and 12″ X 12″mats of vinyl are cut. Once cut, each label is weeded out, and the label is ready to be transferred to the storage unit.

On the ground to apply transfer tape to the label. Up the ladder to apply label to unit. Scrape, scrape, scrape to be sure the vinyl has adhered to the metal surface. Gosh, there goes the scraper now. Down the ladder and back up again. Ever so carefully the transfer tape is peeled away. Pooh. Air bubbles. More scraping with my nails and the plastic piece and, voila, one unit is done.

Working off a ladder, I can complete an average 15 units in four hours if the glue isn’t particularly stubborn to remove. There are 600 units to be labeled. You do the math.

Well, in the course of the first week, a bottle of Goo Gone went tumbling down, smashed on the concrete, and leaked all over. Fortunately, not into a customer’s storage unit. Countless numbers of extra trips up or down the ladder were made to retrieve items that fell or were forgotten in the first place. I quickly learned not to handle the transfer and painter’s tapes at the same time after they adhered to one another and a new label had to be made..

Your eyeballs may be stuck up against the lids reading the steps to completing one unit, but I enjoy this type of picky work. It doesn’t strain the brain any and I can see immediate progress with each application. No one bothers me and when interactions do occur, are always of a pleasant, general nature. At the end of a few hours I’m off to the next adventure knowing no other thoughts about this assignment will linger beyond the labels that need to be made for the next day.

PLUS! I get to ride this baby now. It’s a scissor lift! It’s not speedy, by any means, but all the gear can be loaded on so no more trudging back and forth two to three times pulling out equipment when starting or ending the work day. I love power tools and anything like this! Now, each unit can be cleaned off and labeled at one go while I work from a platform. No more dropping or oooopsying!

Recipe of the Week: 12 Minute Chicken Stir-Fry

This is one of the easiest stir-fry recipes I’ve ever done. I use chicken tenders and bits, which is a timesaver. The original recipe from gimmesomeoven.com calls for just the chicken and broccoli. As you can see, I added shredded carrots. The next time, red and yellow peppers were thrown in too. Yummy.

Saute chicken, about a pound for two people is more than enough, in some olive oil. While that’s happening, throw the stir fry sauce together in a bowl: 2/3 C water, 1/3 C reduced sodium soy sauce, 3 T rice vinegar, 2 T cornstarch, 2 T honey, 2 cloves of minced garlic, 1 t ground ginger.

Once the chicken has browned up a bit, toss in the broccoli and any other veggies you’re having and cook another 3 minutes or so. Pour in the stir-fry sauce and cook over low heat until the sauce has thickened (takes about another minute). Stir in 1 T sesame oil at the last minute and get ready for a treat (if you don’t have any sesame oil, it’s still great)! I like to serve this over rice or quinoa. You decide!

This is stupidly easy to throw together and is soooooo much better than take-out!

Tip of the Week: This is for the cappuccino lovers out there. Starbucks pretty much has a lock on this market. I’ve tried them at Dunkin’ and McDonald’s. The machines used in these facilities don’t produce a product quite like that made in the traditional manner.

The Starbucks menu tells you the sizes are tall, grande, and venti. There is one more option not mentioned, and that’s the short. Ask for it and you’ll get it. The baristas know their product, even though it’s “one we don’t speak of.”

The short cappuccino, is one shot of espresso and then the milk/foam are added in. For the tall order, IT’S ALSO ONE shot of espresso. You’re paying for more milk/foam which dilutes the shot to where it tastes like cafe au lait and not really getting a larger cappuccino. Save yourself a little money (adds up over time since it’s almost a dollar difference in price) and order a short cappuccino versus the tall (or go for the gusto and shoot right up to the two shot grande). Get the added bonus of tasting the coffee creaminess of the espresso/milk/foam combo as it’s meant to be.

By the way, the grande has two shots and the venti has……….YES! Two shots of espresso. Funny how marketing works.

Onward and upwards to my nearest Starbucks for a well-earned treat!

Leader of the Band

The most recent Bon Appetit magazine has an article detailing the author’s trip cross country and back, after returning from living in Thailand for three years. What was interesting is she began with a visit to her parents in Massachusetts, which is where I was born, raised, and continue to live. Early on in the trip she’d had a kind of a mental/emotional release that only a road trip can repair. The author didn’t have a clear idea of the next step in life and was feeling some pressure, at age twenty-seven, to formulate one.

When graduate school ended, I also traveled cross country. The trip was strongly opposed by one of my professors, who felt job prospects wouldn’t be as readily available at the end of the summer. He didn’t know that a few months after beginning school my father died. Fourteen months later and a month before graduation, my mother passed away. It was two years of big changes in my life: Deciding to go in on a house with my sister, two deaths, career change start-up, one move, the inevitable paperwork and assisting with closing up of homes that seems never ending when someone passes, and trying to keep afloat with a number of jobs that collectively paid little. Not much time to process anything, so off I went with a stuffed plush dog, Aubrey, by my side in a blue step-side pickup truck.

In 1982 there were no GPS’s, cell phones weren’t common, and a CB radio was a standard aftermarket addition to any well-equipped pickup. I did have an atlas, poor sense of direction, and six weeks. It seemed prudent to check in by phone from time to time so if I went missing, there would be a trail of some sort. The receiver of choice was the front desk of the YMCA. By that time I’d been working there a number of years and could count on whomever was on duty to make the appropriate calls if I ran into difficulty.

I was a few years younger than the author of the BA article but, like her, found the road trip to be just what was needed to process the previous two years. Unlike her, I was traveling alone so there was no need to explain anything to anyone. The trip is vivid to this day and it doesn’t seem possible that thirty-eight years have passed.

The original intention was to go to Alaska but, when I got to the general area to hop onto a ferry, found there was only enough money to ride the ferry over and return the same day. So, I took a left and drove down the coast of California, turned left at San Diego, and came on home. Somewhere in the middle of the states the Dan Fogelberg song, “Leader of the Band” came on the radio and the dam burst. I wailed out the tune at the top of my lungs, splurting nose juice, spit, and tears all over the steering wheel. When the song ended I just kept it up. That meltdown lasted for hundreds of miles.

The song describes a relationship with his father that is foreign to my experience, but it helped me focus on the positive contributions my parents made to my development and celebrate their strengths. It also opened my eyes to the recognition they did the best they could with the skills they had. Only a road trip gives you the space and time to process such huge changes and losses in your life and set you on the path to closure. I snagged a job six weeks after getting home.

Recipe of the Week: Eggplant Parmesan without the Guilt

This recipe comes from the cookbook, “Vegetables,” by James Peterson. There isn’t a recipe in it that hasn’t worked out and the slightly different take of veggie prep isn’t a lot more work. The results really add to the meal. For this recipe, he includes a simple recipe for the tomato sauce. Adding a touch of sugar is common practice, but the balsamic vinegar was a revelation to me. That recipe will come next week as so many of you have your family fav whether it’s on a torn piece of paper or comes out of a jar.

Enough eggplant to make two layers in a 9X13″ pan (about two medium), homemade or jar sauce (about 78 ounces), ricotta cheese (maybe 2 16 oz. containers) and shredded mozzarella cheese (just get a big enough bag and freeze the remainder), less than a T of majoram.

Preheat oven to 375 and while it’s heating, peel the eggplant and cut into slices about 1/2″ thick. Depending on the shape/size of the eggplant, cut it into rounds or the length of the veg. Brush olive oil on both sides of the slices and bake twenty minutes. Pull out of the oven and remove from the pan so you can shmear some of the sauce on the bottom of the pan. Place the slices across the bottom of the pan and layer on some ricotta and mozzarella cheeses, sprinkle a teensy bit of majoram (you can also use thyme), and follow-up with more sauce. Do the same with the second layer of veg. Overlap the slices to make them fit in the pan. Finish with some mozzarella sprinkled on top and bake until it’s browned and the sauce is bubbly (takes about an hour). Ummm. ummm, ummm. You’ll never go back to the heavy, soggy, fried, breaded eggplant.

Eggplant Parm made the other day allowed the flavors to meld. Now it’s ready for the re-heat and eat!

Tip of the Week: Keeping Greens Crisp

I’d heard if you make up a salad and want to keep it from wilting out before serving, cover it with a layer of paper towel before the plastic wrap. Tried and found to be true; the salad was crisp hours after being made. I wondered if the same would be true when storing greens and put some paper towels in the bag with the already washed lettuce leaves. Yuppers. They stayed crispy for a couple of days longer than usual. I’m notorious for letting greens get to a stage that would make your stomach turn, so was glad to find this hack was successful. Now we can all eat our greens and get muscles like Pop-Eye!

Bagging lettuce is waaaaaay easier than bagging groceries, jobs, or a million bucks. The visible browning was already there. I TOLD you I’m not good with leafy greens………

Onward and upwards into continued completion of all those jobs that never get done but, with the plague upon us, there’s no time like the present!

Covid and the Cha Cha

Allergies kicked in big time resulting in the usual symptoms but in High Def. Totally annoying. I stopped into the local Urgent Care facility, well, met up with someone in the parking lot a la FBI informant protocol, and had the swab done for Covid. Apparently, a mild case of the illness presents itself in a similar fashion and no one is taking chances with someone being a carrier or worse. Friends who had the virus had a run for their money, so I was up for the test.

Pictures online show the inside of your mouth being swabbed. Maybe that’s true in some applications. Here, they used a swab on about a three inch stick and jam it into your nose. The swab has to hit the back of your throat. It does. Wow, was that uncomfortable for all of a nano second. The practitioner took more time telling me how awful it would be than the seconds needed to do the deed. She was so over the top about the nastiness of the test I figured it had to be REALLY bad. Nope. I’m not suggesting you all run out and try to get tested, but don’t be concerned if you need one. It’s bad, but it’s over quicker than ripping off a band-aid.

Speaking of Covid, schools in Massachusetts were closed for the rest of the year today. Having a fair amount of experience with exposures to illness, mask wearing and fit-testing, and the getting back to normal aftermath after my years at the local hospital, the announcement came as no surprise. What is surprising is the creativity of people and its expression on social media. We are so fortunate to be able to connect with our family and friends in some form or another AND benefit from some entertainment as well. We are bombarded with the reality of the surge and really need moments to let our hair down and find our way to laughter.

Many of you have been filling the time with trying out new recipes or gadgets. That reminds me of the cartoon going around with a before/after Covid picture of a person where they’re about 100 pounds heavier in the latter photo. Anyway, we have this time to work through recipes and enjoy the company of our families at meal times (assuming we haven’t killed them simply because it was something to do). The following recipe is an easy one and, to me, the chicken tastes like teriyaki chicken. It’s great for the chicken tenders whether they be on or off a stick. I just used it for eighths with no problems. It’s easily multiplied to accommodate the amount of chicken you have. The amounts listed below will address about a pound of tenders. I may have posted a similar recipe awhile back, but this was so tasty and easy, it had to be shared.

Recipe of the Week: 2 T sesame seeds, 2 T honey, 1/2 t ginger, 1/2 t garlic powder. Mix it all up. Prep the chicken tenders by oiling them up with olive oil and seasoning them with salt and pepper. Dredge them in the sesame seed mixture and bake them in the oven (350) until they’re done. That’s it. So easy and tasty. BTW, the sesame may slide all around when dredging so, honestly, I slapped it on in some way, shape, or form and called it a day. P.S. You could also use maple syrup I would think. Credit someone at the back of a recent People magazine for this recipe. I tossed the magazine before getting that info.

Crispy Sesame Chicken
This batch was dredged in a flour/egg batter mix before cooking with the honey/sesame sauce. You can do that too!

Tip of the Week: Wear the masks and gloves. Please. Mind your distance when around people. Thinking you’re only going out for a minute can be 60 seconds that not only affects your life but those of many around you if you turn out to be a carrier, let alone get sick yourself.

Cozying Up and Corona

Snufflin’ and shufflin’, my fever’s hot. Isolated socially……my corona! Those of you old enough know the “My Sharona” melody by The Knack. That song came to mind immediately upon hearing about the Corona virus. Looking to other countries, their management, and outcomes provides important information to us. For those who thought it wasn’t a serious problem are getting their thoughts rebooted. Having said that, the time we have to spend at home can seem unending or an opportunity. One’s circumstances will largely dictate that perspective and with all the worries making headline news, the slant of this post will focus on the positive.

When initially contemplating the time at home, having work hours zero’d out, I thought it would be just what was needed to get those projects done that were set aside for a rainy day. They were attacked with gusto until it dawned on me that there is no such activity. A monsoon could wash away the driveway and I still wouldn’t want to do those jobs. They’re tasks I never wanted to do and “set them aside for a rainy day” to assuage the guilt over not getting them done in the first place. Once that penetrated the brain cells, a revelation opened the skies: Those jobs don’t ever have to be done! Much like items in the boxes that haven’t been opened since moving in two years ago, those jobs aren’t going to get done and the items are going out to the tag sale. So freeing! Now I can spend the time doing what I really want to do!

The new puppy, Ariel was picked up two weeks ago at a truck stop in Connecticut. She’d been found on the streets in Georgia, with her mother, and was feral at the time. In about two short months, she has adjusted to human contact. Though only here two weeks, she has begun eating full meals, is learning how to play and interact with a human, and that gold standard puppy behavior of chewing, chewing, chewing is making an appearance. First catching a mouse……..pad and then gutting the doggy bed. The behavior isn’t as bad as I’ve seen in other puppies, so I count my blessings!

A dead mouse pad. The first puppy fatality.

Ariel is cute as a button, has a sweet personality, and is a bit of an imp. This is when she’s not shying away from the snap of a twig, shaking on the front stoop at the sight of traffic, or sitting very still hoping you think she doesn’t exist when you call her . The happy ending for Ariel extended to her mother, Fergie, as well. Fergie was adopted last week in Georgia and is living the life.

Looking into the backyard from the safety of the family room is a favorite activity, although she does enjoy a walkabout from time to time. It’s a whole new world in that yard!

Tip of the Week: Cutting brownies cleanly can be a pain, especially when warm and/or fudgy. The brownie seems to accumulate into a big glob by the time you get from one side of the pan to another. Cutting them with a plastic knife is the solution. I have no idea why this works, but it does. I can never wait for brownies to cool before eating them so found this tip to be useful.

Recipe of the Week: I had to prepare a dinner for some vegetarian friends of mine on short notice. The dinner had to be packed up and dropped off at their home, so needed to be something that was easy to heat up, wouldn’t slop over the sides, and could be put together toot sweet. I made them stuffed acorn squash. It’s super easy and you can put anything you like in the stuffing.

The original recipe called for adding this and that to Israeli couscous, but I didn’t have any and used quinoa instead. Quinoa has about the same amount of protein and fiber as couscous, so no significant difference there.

Anyway, all you have to do is to cut either end of the acorn squash off so they’re steady when filled, and then cut it in half. Rub the cut side with some olive oil, place cut side down on a sheet pan, and pop into an oven preheated to 400 degrees. I didn’t scoop out the seeds and stringy bits until it was cooked, which made it easier. Let the squash bake 30-40 minutes (you should be able to pierce it with a fork).

While the squash is cooking, cook up some quinoa according to the package directions. Like rice, it’s usually 1 C of quinoa to 2 C of liquid. I usually use vegetable stock. Once it’s cooked (1 C dry quinoa cooks up enough to fill four halves) you’ll want to mix things in. Definitely add some shredded cheddar cheese (1/2 C should do it) or other cheese you have on hand, maybe some craisins, saute up some celery, onion, peppers and throw that in with the quinoa. Really, you can’t go wrong here. Boost the protein by adding in some kind of bean. Make it even more colorful and toss in some petite green peas.

Once the squash is done, clean out the seeds and strings if you haven’t already done so, mound the quinoa mixture into the squash halves and sprinkle on some additional cheese (Parmesan!) and throw back into the oven another 10-15 minutes. It sounds like there’re a lot of steps but, really, you’re busy while the squash halves are baking and then you can go about your business the last few minutes while the cheese is getting melty and gooey!

I used the leftover filling as an add-in to baked eggs. I’ve mentioned them before: Scramble up some eggs and water, toss in the filling, and bake at 350 in muffin tins. Freeze and heat when you need them. Totally faboo.

I sauteed peppers, olives, and onions for this batch. A bit of Mediterranean flair!

Onward and upwards into the unknown world of Corona, social distancing, and Lysol wipes (if you can find them)!

Pitter Patter of Little Feet

It has been six months since Lola died and it’s still a little hard to think of her in the happiest of times. When someone, or something, close to you dies there’s the inevitable grieving process experienced on an individual timeline.

In the Jewish tradition, there are the seven days of shiva immediately following a death, where you cry it out and listen to friends and family as they share stories and process the loss with you. You’re surrounded and cared for by the community throughout this intense period of mourning. The next twenty-three days or eleven months (depending on the relationship of the deceased to the mourner, i.e. blood relative or spouse) are a continuation of the mourning period, but on a less acute level. During this time the mourner returns to most everyday activities.

This tradition gives a structure to the recovery process that is predicated on the mourner resuming their life by the time the year is out. This is not to say that on day 366 it’s all butterflies and rainbows, but you realize you’ve created a “new normal” life for yourself and you’re feeling okay with it. At this point in time, you can probably think of the loved one in terms of happy “remember when…..” moments more readily.

I’ve found it to be a little different with the loss of a pet. That framework for grieving isn’t there, though the process remains the same. Forty years ago, my family experienced the death of four adults within a five year span. Loss, recovery, and moving on is familiar territory in those terms. Friends and family understand how you feel after a pet dies but there seems to be an expectation that adjusting to their loss either happens within a short time period or they’re easily replaced by another pet. Pet owners create their own process to get through the loss of a pet.

It seems that it’s now time to bring four more feet into the house. I’ve been trolling the internet looking at various rescue sites and finally decided to work with Go Dogs Go Rescue/CT. They’re based in Georgia and send dog transports to the Northeast on a regular basis. The contact said their shelters get about 300 dogs a month, which seems to exceed what we see in these parts. There are a significant number of kill shelters in the South to deal with the numbers of strays or animals turned in by owners; the rescue groups are non-kill safety nets for these animals.

When I called about Ariel, who’s about seven months old, the contact questioned me as I’d indicated we were interested in older dogs, knowing puppies are more easily placed. Something about Ariel’s picture stayed with me, regardless of her age. She was probably born in the streets, given the description of her behavior toward humans (fear and total submission).

The transport will arrive somewhere in Connecticut on March 8th with numerous pets going to their forever homes. There’s a fifteen minute window to make the drop, off to another stop in Connecticut, and then on to New Hampshire. Thirty hours of travel in a crate with the occasional stop for toileting and a drink. I can’t imagine how the dogs will experience that ride.

We’re busily accumulating the necessary leashes, beds etc. to ease the transition from the streets, to a shelter, a looooonnnngg ride, to a final home for Ariel. The padding of four little feet will be clicking around before we know it!

Recipe of the Week: Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake

Such an easy cake to throw together, even if you don’t consider yourself a scratch baker. This dates back to the Great Depression, when the mayo substituted for eggs and oil. The idea of adding in mayo may sound like a terrible idea to you, but you’ll be surprised at how light a cake you’ll turn out with a minimal amount of effort!

2 C Cake Flour, 1 C sugar, 6 T unsweetened cocoa, 2 t baking soda, 1 C mayo (full fat), 1 C cold coffee (I mix up instant espresso), 1 t vanilla. I’ve read you can use regular flour as well. I think I’ve done that in the past, but can’t remember. If you try it because you don’t have cake flour around, comment and let me know!

Combine all the wet ingredients and set aside. Combine all the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and then add the dry to the wet. Pour into a 9 X 13 inch pan and bake until done (about half an hour) at 350. See? Easy, breezy.

BTW: I’ve put into smaller, round pans to make a layered cake and check it for doneness at 20 minutes.

The Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake that Overwhelmed the Page!

Tip of the Week: Prepare Healthy Breakfast or Snack Bites Ahead of Time

This borders on a recipe, but for a quick breakfast on a rushed morning, there’s nothing like an already prepared egg bite. Full of protein, a cinch to prepare on those busy days, and easy to eat in hand on the way out the door. Make the bites up when you have time; they only take a few minutes to whip up and you can use whatever veggies you have on hand (or leave them plain; just season with salt and pepper).

Scramble up some eggs with milk or water (I’ve read using water makes them fluffier; I do it because I don’t have milk in the fridge on a consistent basis). Throw in some thawed, chopped spinach, shredded cheese of your choice and maybe some black beans. Season with curry, salt, pepper, whatever and pour into muffin tins (large or minis, who cares). Just be sure to spray the heck out of those pans before baking at 350 until done, maybe 20 minutes. Check with a toothpick and see it comes out dry.

These babies can go a few days in the fridge or throw them in the freezer. When morning comes, pop them into the microwave for a minute and you have a handful of deliciousness and good health before the Keurig has had time to process your pod!

This is a fun breakfast food (heck, I take a few in the lunch bag) for kids to prepare with you. Let their imaginations run wild as they toss in this and that, just knowing they’re in for a treat on a school morning. What could be more fun than eating these little gems on the way to school or work?!

Prepare these egg bites ahead of time so you have a protein packed snack or breakfast. Who says fast food isn’t good for you?!

Onward and upwards toward better health and nutrition!

Choose to Breathe

Like many of you, cramming ten pounds of dirt into a five pound sack is not unknown to me. I often mutter to myself that there aren’t enough hours in the day to get things done, rather than look at the list of “to do’s” with a realistic eye and timeframe. Although, there are those times when you’re simply up against it and X amount of tasks need to get done by the end of the day. You find yourself serving many masters. Somehow it gets done with a great deal of sweating, cursing, and the ultimate satisfaction that comes with a little hard work behind you.

I’ve mentioned that I do a little cooking for good-sized crowds and making lists, prioritizing jobs, and enlisting help make for a successful effort. On occasion, things don’t go as planned or time gets short and adjustments are made to the menu, or I simply try to go faster. I marvel at those people who maintain their composure, appear to be having a good time, and sail through similar circumstances. Working with them is a pleasure. They’ve told me stories where they get caught short but I think it’s their objectivity that gets them through with a more settled stomach; I’m probably too subjective. This was made more clear to me when I attended a dinner by a professional caterer and it wasn’t so good. Some of the food was undercooked and inedible and the desserts really boring. The feedback to the chef reflected these issues and it was shrugged off with a laugh and acknowledgement to be more on top of things next time.

Perspective is important to how life events are managed. During one of those times when I was busily cramming that sack to overflowing, I had to run to the store for items that were overlooked on one of the many preparatory shopping trips. The store was jammed and checkout lines were long; even self-check. Normally I’d fuss and fume, get the stomach into a knot, and get up a full head of worried steam. This time I thought about the chef who goofed on that dinner and decided to take the wait time to breathe. It was probably the most productive time spent that day as I really focused on taking regular breaths and stock of what had to happen over the next few hours to get this event dinner out in a tasty, timely fashion.

Choosing to view the long line as an opportunity to take stock of the situation and calmly make mental notes and adjustments made all the difference in how the remainder of the afternoon played out. I also went to the check out person which was like a mini-pamper session. They’re a lot faster than I am with two people to check and bag versus me fiddling with the bags, looking for the code, and chasing the dropped apple. It provided another 2-3 minutes to zone out on my newfound break. Inadvertently getting help from an outsider included a positive social interaction that gave me a needed second wind.

I guess an old dog can learn new tricks!

Tip of the Week: In a recent post I talked about using bath mats as a place to leave outdoor boots. Today I’m reminded of using bath towels as bath mats. Why would you want to do that on a regular basis and who hasn’t thrown down a towel from time to time? The difference is that this is intentional and requires a minimal amount of sewing.

Put right sides together (see pictures below) at the short ends and sew across. Turn the towel right-side out and you have a mat. Why wouldn’t you simply buy a mat? Well, I saw this done at a vacation area and thought it was a great way to add a pop of color, it’s inexpensive, the towel will dry quickly after use, and you can’t always find a mat to match your bathroom. The pictures below are of a piece of fabric and not a towel as all my towels are a solid color and don’t have a right side.

Also, if you don’t sew, you can go to Joanne’s Fabrics (maybe Walmart?) and buy yourself iron-on tape. It has glue on both sides. Just cut it the same width as the towel, put the right sides together but overlap the edges. So it’s the towel, tape, towel, and apply the iron. You’ll figure it out. The tape will hold up through many washings. Listen, I’ve hemmed with scotch tape and THAT held up in the wash too. Don’t ask about the time I ironed a wrinkled area while wearing the dress. Not all my time-saving ideas are good ones…….

Right Side
Wrong Side
Right Sides Together

Recipe of the Week: Sometimes there isn’t a lot of time to bake and you’ll see those recipes you can use in a variety of ways. I tried one found years ago and it’s a keeper. The recipe is for a sugar cookie, which is a fan fav just as it is out of the oven. However, with a little of this and that, they take on different lives. First the basic recipe: 1/2 C butter, softened, 2/3 C sugar, 1 large egg, 1/4 t vanilla, 1 2/3 C flour, and 3/4 t baking powder.

Stir flour and baking powder together and set aside. Cream the butter and sugar together until smooth and then beat in the vanilla and egg. Toss flour mixture in with the wet stuff, mix. Roll into a log on plastic and refrigerate at least an hour. When ready to bake, do so in an oven preheated to 400 degrees after slicing the roll into 1/4 – 1/2 inch slices and placing them 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 7-10 minutes (I like to line my cookie sheets with parchment paper). The dough can be frozen for future use after you’ve formed the log; just thaw and continue.

Now for a variation or two:

1. Add 1/2 t lemon zest to dough, bake, and then drizzle with melted white chocolate.

2. Crush up peppermint candy and melt chocolate. Dip baked cookies into the chocolate and then the candy.

3. Shape the slices into balls and press your thumb into the sphere. Fill the depression with raspberry jam and then bake (any jam you like will work; not jelly).

I don’t see why you couldn’t take a roll of cookie dough from the supermarket and dress it up with the variations mentioned above. Save even more time!

Onward and upwards for a baking break!

Super Bowl Aftermath

Bob and I spearhead a Super Bowl gathering at our synagogue. About 40 people come for huge deli sandwiches, wings, crunchies, and beverages. There’s no place in this community to buy kosher take-out, so it’s well appreciated. We have a HUGE screen and the game is streamed through Comcast. Our speakers could be better, but it all works out. Usually.

The Friday before the game, someone realized Comcast hadn’t been called to do their magic to enable streaming. This particular endeavor is something that needs to be done weeks ahead of time, just as when you want to set up service in your home. “No problem,” I said. “We can stream through my computer, as I have Comcast. “

Ingredients were purchased, volunteers manned the kitchen and worked with Bob to prep the wings (sriracha, BBQ, or plain), slice deli meat, and set up the food stations. For some reason, I was tasked with assisting in setting up the equipment needed to see the game.

We tried accessing the game through my computer but it couldn’t be done outside of the home wi-fi unless an upgrade is purchased. However, you can’t do such an upgrade at the last minute. “No worries,” I chirped. “We can get Hulu + as they teamed up with Fox Sports to broadcast the game.” Why this didn’t work is lost in a haze of clicking, swiping, and swearing in an effort to get something to stream through the computer. Nothing. No sound. No visual. The person I was assisting left and a second person, Larry, suggested we work through the apps in some manner or another.

In the midst of all this, the projector suddenly lit up all possible lights and then went dark. Into the car and pedal to the metal to Best Buy to get a new device and speaker. Race back to the synagogue only to find the projector isn’t Bluetooth compatible and the speaker is ONLY Bluetooth friendly. The Best Buy man and I obviously had a communication issue. By now it’s about 4:00 p.m. The game is looming.

My iPad and iPhone were employed, thanks to Larry’s observation. One was used for audio via the Bluetooth speaker and the other to stream the game through the projector. There was a delay between the two devices which we overcame using closed captioning. The gap ranged from 2 seconds to a minute. For some reason, various people would come up to me throughout the game to let me know the current delay time. You need to know that I am not particularly tech savvy and to have gotten the game on the screen was a huge accomplishment for me, delay or no delay.

Minutes before kick-off, the person who usually wrangles wires, projectors, and the like decided he’d try to run the sound through the speakers we have in the social hall rather than the new speaker . He thought it would negate the delay issue. There was a loud CRACK and then silence. Undaunted, the techy worked away and coaxed sound out of the speakers with an audible buzzing in the background. I asked if it would be more annoying to deal with the buzzing and no delay, or a delay with crystal clear sound. He saw it my way and went back to the original system that had been in place. As much as the Hail Mary effort was appreciated, why would anyone try to fix something that was working with minutes to spare?

By the time the game started, I was ready to curl up in the fetal position under a table somewhere but there were sandwiches to make and sell. In addition, people more electronically competent than I wanted to weigh in on a better way to stream the game. The game that was already in play on the screen. Bless their souls, they all had a number of other ways it could have been done. The old closing of the barn door after the horse got out scenario. It was all I could do not to kill them.

Tip of the Week: Bob and I are cleaning up a house for sale and have hired some fantastic people to help us. Pictured below a set of handles before and after getting cleaned. Actually, the “dirty” ones pictured aren’t as bad as some of them but, still, they’re pretty dark. Mike the Miracle Worker soaked them in vinegar and rubbed with a non-scratchy pad. Unbelievable. Who knew vinegar could render such a shine!

This is the dirtier one. The others he worked on were REALLY blackened with grease and grime. Yuck – a – doo.
Clean and shiny!

Recipe of the Week: The sriracha wings were beyond fabulous and so easy to prepare! We did 40 pounds chick chock. The picture below is a stock one from the internet, but our’s looked just as delicious. You have to try this recipe if you like food a little hot.

Crispy Honey Sriracha Chicken Wings: Heat oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place an ovenproof wire rack over the foil.

2 1/2 pounds of wings (recipe is easily multiplied), 2 T baking powder, 1 T kosher salt, 1t black pepper, 1t smoked paprika (NOT the regular kind). Mix this all up. Throw the wings in a big bowl and sprinkle half the powder mixture on it and toss them, or turn them with your hands. Do this again with the other half of the powder.

Place wings on the rack and bake for 20 minutes. Turn wings over and bake another 20 minutes. Turn once more and bake until wings are browned and crispy (about another 15 minutes). Transfer wings to a bowl.

While wings are baking, whisk 1/3 C honey, 1/3 C sriracha sauce, 1T seasoned rice vinegar (I used regular rice vinegar and it was fine), and 1/4t sesame oil.

Drizzle the sauce over the wings in the bowl and toss to coat. Sprinkle some sesame seeds on top and enjoy!

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