Tiny Tips for your New Year’s Resolutions

Can a tiny baking set help you with your New Years Resolutions? Yes, I think so.  I am here to tell you how.  We all make the same resolutions year after year.  Lose weight, eat healthier, exercise, meditate  to reduce stress.  Well, over the Holidays I discovered  the perfect weight loss and stress relief program for you.  It’s called “Tiny Cooking.”  But first you need the tiny cookware and you can get many versions of it here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=tiny+baking&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

This set makes food you bake in a real oven, but because it’s so tiny, you can indulge yourself.  What can you make with this set?  We were at our daughter’s for Christmas and one of the twins got a set.  We made wee cinnamon rolls and chocolate chip cook-wees. You can also make a Teeny Frittata, Deep Dish Pizza and many other teeny things. Do you like to eat cookie dough?  Well, forget it.  There will be none left for the cook-wees.  Calories saved.  The cook-wees are pretty wee, so more calories saved.  And rolling out dough for the cinnamon rolls with that tiny rolling pin will take stress magically away. God knows we need stress reduction these days.   Trying to whip up butter and flour in a tiny mixing bowl is great exercise. To reduce the stress you might need to move the ingredients from the tiny bowl (where whipping up ingredients might be considered torture to some), to a little bigger one. And oh the instructions, a wee spoon of this and two wee spoons of that.  What stress relief.  It’s amazing, but you bake these tiny cookies and rolls in the regular oven at the same temperature and time as the regular size.

And here is a picture of most of us enjoying a chocolate chip cook-wee.  Don’t blink or you won’t pick out the actual cook-wee, but everyone is holding one up.  I don’t think you can tell me this isn’t a diet bonanza and a great stress reducer.

Did you make your resolutions?  Why not add tiny baking to those resolutions?

 

December Meltdowns

Twas several days before Christmas and all through the land, women lay weeping while  husbands were sleeping instead of giving a helping hand.  

The hours spent toiling and baking galore, nothing it seems was too big a chore.  She glances at her husband whose snoring grew louder, as he rolled right over to instantly crowd her.  She leapt out of bed and yelled “I’m finished, I’m done.  This Christmas it seems is not a lot of fun.”  Morning came early, so early it seemed.

The gifts, the cards, the decorating you see, the responsibility for that is all on me.  And I gazed at the pile of gifts to wrap as Tom sat in his chair taking a long winter’s nap.  I fumed, I steamed, I was furious you see, but I calmed down a little as I looked at my tree.  I took a deep breath, and sat down instead, and picked up the newspaper and here’s what it said:

Page 2 of the Saturday/Sunday Wall Street Journal, December 12-13

“SLOPPY WRAPPING CAN MAKE FOR BETTER GIFTS”  Jessica Rixom, assistant Professor of Marketing at the University of Nevada, Reno led a study on the impact of neat vs sloppy gift wrapping.  The researchers conducted three experiments and all three with diverse groups of people found that the sloppily wrapped packages delivered more satisfaction to the recipient.  Why?  Because they lowered expectations.  The same gift, one wrapped neatly and one wrapped sloppily.  The neatly wrapped packages led to higher expectations about the gift and disappointment.  I was ecstatic!  No more excuses from Tom about not knowing how to wrap, therefore he couldn’t possibly wrap.  Now with him wrapping the gifts  for our family, they  would elicit low expectations and everyone would be much happier with the gift.  Manna from heaven.

I went over to Tom, threw the paper in his lap, “wake up” I said, you’re done with your nap.  The despair on his face was plain to see, as he walked into the room and saw gifts meant for me.

I grabbed a glass of eggnog, sat down by my tree, what a wonderful season this turned out to be.

I do have to give Tom credit for putting up the outside lights.  He doesn’t enjoy it but he does it.  He even helped a neighbor’s wife put up their outdoor lights as her husband refused to do it.  In fact when Tom went into their house to look for him, he found him sitting in a chair muttering “I hate Christmas, I hate Christmas.”   Whatever you celebrate this year I hope you have a wonderful Holiday and a happy, vaccinated New Year!

Comfort Food Really?!

Post election elation or depression, more lockdowns, schools not open, cases rising.  We need comfort food more than ever and to me chicken noodle soup is not comfort food.  Something new and exciting to occupy our time and taste, something everyone will love, something really daring with universally loved foods.  Enter the Oreo cookie, bacon and a sprinkling of an all purpose meat rub, spicy or not.

Our son Max seems to be a master chef on his Traeger Grill.  Almost every day he sends pictures of the amazing things he makes on this grill, things you wouldn’t think of to grill.  His latest?  Bacon wrapped Oreo cookies with a sprinkling of the aforementioned rub.

That’s it, three ingredients.  Two of which almost all of Americans love.  You could leave out the sprinkling of the rub if you like.  Wrap your Oreo cookie in a slice of bacon, sprinkle bacon with the rub, then cook on the Traeger at 250 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until the bacon is done.  Voila!  A new and exciting comfort food.  Guaranteed to spark conversation away from all of our current problems. Can you imagine the Super Bowl with these gems?  Sounds pretty perfect to me.

Does this look like comfort food to you?  I heard they were delicious.

If I Had it to do Over

Have you ever been on a vacation and realized that you’ve lived in the wrong places most of your life?  Somewhere it just hit you over the head?  That when you got home, you had a very hard time being back and wondering why you’re living there?

That happened to us this summer.  Where was this magical place?  A home to cream horns and unlocked doors.  Unlocked doors?   Really?  Neighbors telling you to just come in even if they’re not home and get whatever you need, then just bring whatever back when you’re finished or if it’s food, you’re more than welcome to have it.  Good Grief! Is this America?  Yes, and of course it’s the Midwest.  We were at a lake in Minnesota for a month where the summer time population grows to close to 70,000.  Where everyone is friendly and social, where stores and restaurants are all open and where you can go into the local bakery and order two cream horns, two pastries, 8 homemade cookies and two coffee’s and it costs you $11.80.  I know what you’re thinking, “Did you really eat two cream horns and two pastries?”  I had one cream horn and a coffee and I refuse to say what Tom had.

OK, I do admit that the coffee here is bad, real bad.  We tried three different breakfast places and while the food was good, the coffee was horrible.  There is a Caribou coffee in town and apparently we’re not alone in our judgement of the local coffee as this place always had a line.

We have relatives on this same lake and that was a one of the  highlights of our trip.  I had not seen my cousin in 30 some years and wondered if he was still the same bratty kid I’d remembered.  He wasn’t, but he’s a world class trash talker and the golf course really brought it out.  I bonded with his wife and the four of us had a lot of fun on the golf course and everywhere else.  Then there was my 92 year old Aunt who is the most social person I know.  She knows everyone on the chain of lakes, has her women friends over every Monday night for drinks and appetizers, another group on Tuesday night at one of their homes for drinks and dinner, is always going out and drives like she’s chasing the roadrunner.

Thunder storms,  amazing sunsets, golf, no TV, books, family there and family visits, college girlfriends and the best birthday party I could have hoped for.  Our daughter, husband and twins were there for 8 days and the twins planned a party as it was my birthday when they were there.  They were amazing planners and made a list including balloons, goody bags, streamers, horns, party hats and a crown for me.  They made invitations and wanted a pinata most of all.  There was only one place to get all of this and anything else your heart may desire:  Ron’s Warehouse. Ron’s is huge and the owner buys merchandise from stores going out of business, trucks that topple over on  the freeways, sight unseen containers, so you never know what you’re going to get at Ron’s.  I was secretly hoping Ron’s did not have a pinata.  They didn’t but had everything else and then some.  Ron’s is a very popular place.  The twins invited 14 people for dinner (they’re 7), and of course Papa would cook.  Which he did and it was a wild success.  With all that’s going on in this Country, it was great to be in a place you felt was normal life, remember normal life?

Have you ever had second thoughts about where you’re living after a vacation?

Corona Chronicles

You know that children and parents have been cooped up together too long when the parents give the kids the tools to reach out to their grandparents.  Our four year old grandson has taken to calling us on Face Time at random times.  He is home from school and calls on his ipad.  He usually just wants to talk about the weather and thinks it’s always raining in Portland so is pretty obsessed with that topic.  He also loves to talk about the tides as he lives by the Ocean and has a tide cam on his iPad because he was driving his dad crazy with the question:  “Is it low tide or high tide?”  Last week he called twice and hung up on us both times because he had a more important call to make.  He’ll call Tom’s phone (PapaJack) because he has his number on speed dial.  He must have called the second time by mistake as he said “Oh, I got to go” and hung up right away. Tom tried to call him back but he was apparently too busy to take the call.  Why does he call him PapaJack?  Because Tom has always liked the name Jack so when the grand kids were born, he took the opportunity to christen himself PapaJack and the name has stuck.

Papa Jack has also offered to take over some of the home schooling for our daughter’s seven-year old twins.  She is immensely grateful as she’s working from home and on the phone or in Zoom meetings constantly.  Her husband is in the other room also on the phone all day long.  So having the twins home all day then being expected to home school them gets overwhelming.  PapaJack said he’d take over the arithmetic problems.  He started with both girls together and that did not work.  Let’s just say one has a better attention span than the other one.  He decided to work with them separately.  They were given worksheets with 60 problems!  (I thought that was a lot for first grade.  In fact, I’d hate to be presented with 60 problems now.)  It did not go well.  Problem number 10 said to draw three things with the longest to shortest.  This was exciting.  He was working with the less focused twin but now she was into it.  She loves to draw.  She started by drawing a Post-It note.  Tom wondered how she was going to go from that to something shorter and then yet shorter.  She was on a roll, and wasn’t stopping at three things.  This was way better than arithmetic.  Tom however, became very unfocused and dozed off.   Our daughter happened to walk by and saw him and yelled “Dad! what are you doing?”  He jerked awake.  “I might have to suspend you” she said.  Meanwhile I can hear the back and forth from the next room and it is very entertaining, I am enjoying it immensely.

I’m getting ready to sneak out to my favorite grocery store again.  I am longing for normalcy, will it ever happen?  Things used to be so good just a few months ago and it now seems like years ago.  Have you been let out yet?  If so, have your activities returned to a semblance of normal?

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

“We should go.”  We were not having any fun in Hell and being surrounded by angry people in Circle #5 wasn’t helping.  We started clawing our way out.  But being one of the few States not reopening brings another sort of hell.  From the beginning we have had very few cases and our curve is flat, flatter than flat. What does it take?  We need haircuts!

Are you as sick as I am of the celebrities on TV intoning:  “Be safe, Stay at home, Wash your hands, We are all in this together.”  Do they think we don’t know this by now?  Are we all just stupid?  They all look suspiciously like they’re getting their hair cut and styled, like they have personal hairdressers.  And I am pretty sure we don’t live in the same category of home that they do.  Proof that we’re not “All in this together.”

I made a secret escape plan and kept it to myself until the day came.  Tom now does all the grocery shopping and the Costco runs and I am really fine with that as grocery shopping is not my favorite.  However, there is one grocery store I love and I missed it.  I was determined to go.  I got ready to leave and Tom said “where are you going?”  “Market of Choice” I said nonchalantly.  His face darkened with what can only be described as a deep stormy scowl.  “That’s a really bad idea” he said.  I just looked at him.  It was a standoff.  The OK Corral had nothing on us.

Driving down the freeway to the Market, I had my mask and gloves.  I was all ready.  I started in the bakery department and looked lovingly at the pastries, cakes and cookies.  Perused the Artisan breads and then the deli and take out dishes.  I headed for the cheese department where I bought the Market House Gorgonzola cheese, my favorite. I was a little disconcerted to read that the cheese comes from Wisconsin, I liked to think of an in-house cheese maker or better, a small farm nearby dedicated to Gorgonzola, turning out this delicious cheese. I took my time.  I went up and down all the aisles.  They have the most interesting and unusual items in this store.  I bought more than I needed.  I was happy.  I saved the produce section for last.  Oh what a vast, colorful selection of everything and things you never knew  you needed and don’t and took my time, trying not to be tempted to throw things into my basket I definitely didn’t need.  How long was I there?  Who cares.  I was not in hell any longer.  As I made my way to the checkout counter, I walked by their gift and flower department.  Of course I had to stop and see what was there.  Then I saw it.  The mug, the perfect mug.  I am picky about my coffee mugs and haven’t been able to find one I love for at least 5 years, even though I am always looking.  My heart beat faster.  The perfect Mother’s Day gift for me. Tom wouldn’t even have to agonize over what he was going to get me, although I have a sneaking suspicion he wasn’t agonizing at all and had no plans to get me anything. I described it in detail when I got home and sent Tom back to the store.  He didn’t even know they had a gift department so I had to also instruct as to exactly where he could find it and which door to go through.

It sure would be good to hear anything positive from the news media.  They are a nonstop doom and gloom machine.  Even though there is good news, apparently the media hasn’t heard about it.  The other day, it was not only do we all have to stay in the house until at least 2040, there are murder hornets on the way to kill us all.  We are all doomed folks, just doomed and if you don’t believe me, turn on the news.

Have you been set free?