Hide the scissors and the cooking spray…

… and the parchment paper. From everyone in your life. Unless your spouse and children have watched every season of The Great British Bake Off, The Barefoot Contessa, or —– (insert your favorite cooking show).

Or you could just stay home and guard these things from any kitchen invaders.

Scissors? That’s obvious. The first time your darling gives another child a haircut, you’ll break out in a cold sweat. I got so used to hiding them when our children were small, that I’ve never been able to break myself of the habit. Unfortunately, I’m basically hiding them from myself now.

Maybe you can guess why I’ve mentioned parchment paper. The cost is exorbitant; I’m not sure why. It’s … paper. But those at home will pull it off the roll in great pieces using it for anything from covering food in the microwave (if anyone in your family actually does this) to drawing a picture for Mommy.

Then you’ll be assessing if you could still use it. How hard it is to get crayon off a baking sheet? Or you’re choking back tears or unusable words to stammer out a thank you while explaining this is Mommy’s special paper only to be used when making the most complicated bake… oh, never mind. Great picture, honey, let’s hang it on the refrigerator where everyone can see it.

The cooking spray is more complicated. Try explaining how olive oil bonds with certain non-stick cooking surfaces (and they’re all different) so you’re left with a gummy residue. That. Never. Comes. Off. Unless you take a Brillo pad to it. Which kind of defeats the whole non-stick thing.

And you might as well get used to this. After your children are grown, you’ll still be hiding them from your spouse. Your husband might, say, take your favorite giant metal bowl and use it to drain the oil into. Of course, that’s purely hypothetical. It’s really a losing battle trying to anticipate what they’ll come up with.

No, it’s better to just stay home. Now if I could just find a pair of scissors…

Baking images Baking! Baking! Baking! wallpaper and ...


Why, Neato?

I’ve said before that I love my robot vacuum. In case you’ve never used one of these it’s like having a maid come in to do your floors… every day. What’s not to love? No the vac doesn’t wash them, but if all the crumbs are gone, how long does that take? Fifteen minutes?

And until you’ve lived with my bristley-coated black dachshund, Indy, you can’t imagine how his hair gets into everything from my shoes to the chocolate chip cookies. Fortunately, everyone thinks they’re just slivers of chips.

So Neato is my favorite. I’ve tried other brands. Too complicated. The Neato doesn’t have a lot of unnecessary bells and whistles that I don’t use anyway to go on the fritz.

Until last week. Suddenly, Rocky (that’s his name) kept flashing that his brushes were stuck. Um, okay. Really? I pulled out a few pieces of thread. The brushes look like they turn to me, but he still refused to work.

Now I should interrupt here to say that I do not have the “magic touch” to fix things. I do have a certain knack of breaking almost everything, but if I try to play handyman, things get worse.

Case in point: my husband was out of town a few months ago when my car started to overheat. I pulled over to call him about it. While I was standing there looking at the engine, the hood came down, hit me on the head, and knocked my phone out of my hand. Result: broken screen.

Yes, that could happen to anyone. But twice? Yep, I picked it up and repeated the process with the hood hitting me on the head again.

I think my problem is I am too determined. Take the slight kitchen sink clog. You might plunge it or try Draino.

I poured baking soda and vinegar down it to create a volcano and then plunged and plunged. And plunged. I got the drain so thoroughly clogged that no snake could fix it. My husband eventually had to take apart the pipes to unclog it.

So when Rocky told me about his brushes I hesitated to touch him other than to pull out a few stray strings. My husband is fearless. He performed an operation, and Rocky rallied one more time. Then Rocky insisted his brushes were stuck again. So what is it really? Chronic fatigue? We both know those brushes are not stuck.

And what about me? Sure, I have another vacuum I can use on the small amount of carpeting we have, but Rocky went everywhere, under everything. I mean, I have a broom somewhere, but it’s been years since I pulled it out. I guess I remember how to use it. It’s like riding a bike, right? But… every day? No way I’m dragging that thing across all these floors every day.

So, why, Rocky? Why? Didn’t I praise you enough? Did I take you for granted? In retrospect, I should have seen the writing on the wall. Lately, he’d been going home to his charger but stopping a few inches away, saying Help! He couldn’t navigate. Three inches away and you need me to draw you a map?

So, no food, it looks like he’s on a hunger strike. Well, Rocky, the Internet is filled with robot vacuums, and I haven’t tried the Roomba, yet.


Why, Starbucks?

I gave you the best years of my life.

We were a pair, you and I. You with your strong taste, me with my caffeine addiction.

But you turned on me. Why, Starbucks?

Coffee comes with cream. There I said it. I’ll say it again. Coffee comes with cream. If your coffee is strong, it needs more cream than say Panera. Most of America could agree with us on that one.

But you’ve started rationing it. Last I heard there wasn’t a cream shortage, but for some reason you’ve got some crazy notion in your head that we can all do without cream.

No container of cream sitting out for me to use. So when I requested what I guess is now contraband, Barista Number One acted like a maitre d’ in a fine restaurant, complete with the air. I was the poor schmuck who’d wandered in off the street expecting to be served.

First he ignored me. Then he acquiesced, grudgingly, bringing me the tiniest cup I’d ever seen. There might have been a tablespoon or two in there. It was hard to tell with the lid on. That sturdy little cup cost far more than the cream I would have used if they’d just let me get my own.

Obviously, that wasn’t enough cream to combat the industrial strength of the drink, but I was dealing with that. Actually I was trying to get his attention because my husband’s drink was wrong. But he and Barista Number Two must have decided I was trying to worm more cream out them, so we were back to being ignored.

I’ll let you in on a secret, Starbucks… other places serve the stuff.

I think that someday that old saying “The customer is always right” will resurface and Starbucks will let me have my cream again. In the meantime, I’ll say, “see you later.”

'The annual "STARBUCKS" picture'




I’m still going…

So a few weeks ago I started running for the first time in my life since high school P.E. ended, and I didn’t have to do more than stroll. This is the one of my ongoing goals:  write, get organized, get fit.

Notice I did not say get thin. The older I get the more I realize that it’s the little things in life that matter, like granny wings, actual abs, and being able to outrun volcanic eruptions.

Okay, maybe that last one won’t happen, and any abs are buried beneath a little plump, but I’ve often flirted with the idea that my body might need to move faster than something that’s chasing it. Spiders (yes, they chase me), purse snatchers, and snakes. Of course, technically those last two are the same, and I’d be the one chasing the purse snatcher.

So I plunged right in to the Couch2-5k program. After two very successful weeks in “week 1,” which entailed running a total of 8 minutes during the 20 -minute workout (plus a 5-minute warm-up and the same to cool down), I’ve moved on to “week 2.” Nine minutes of running during the 20-minutes and I’m still going strong. I plan on spending three weeks in “week 2.” Slow, yes, but what’s the hurry? I’m building a runner’s body here.

Well, okay, so I’m not actually running, and perhaps you could walk faster than my jog, but the important thing is to keep moving. Eventually my pace will pick up. Maybe then I’ll finally be able to outrun those spiders.


Go for it!

I’m 55 and I’m taking up jogging/running for the first time in my life. I’m crazy, right?

I love the idea of running in that I’ve always wanted to be able to run. But I’ve had no interest in the actual running. I’m a walker. I have been for years, and I enjoy it.

But I’m getting older. If I’m ever going to be able to run, I have to start soon. Use it or lose it.

Do you have anything in your life that you’ve always liked the idea of? What are you waiting for? What’s holding you back? Use it or lose it applies to more than just the physical.

Have you wanted to write a book? Get motivation and encouragement this month from the writing community at Campnanowrimo.org, the more relaxed version of NaNoWriMo.

Do you want to become a runner? Couch 2 5k is the system I’m going to use… eventually. I might have to work up to Week 1, Day 1. There’s a free app for your phone that takes you through it day by day (3 days a week).

Do you want to get your house clean and your life organized? Diane in Denmark has a YouTube channel with a great low key system that can be implemented gradually with easy habits. Here’s a link; she takes you through it encouraging step by encouraging step. I love her Scottish accent. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbbm7p8Sk15fmeU0LWk7YwA

Do you want to learn something new or improve what you’ve already started? Go for it!

52 Things I've Learned from Running - Blog - Chi Running

The Right Way to Steal a Recipe…

Don’t you hate it when people post on a recipe site what they did to change a recipe before they even try it out the right way first? Yeah, so do I.

Except when I do it.

I needed a dressing recipe for a tossed salad. Bottled dressing is full of things I’d prefer don’t enter my mouth: fake ingredients, preservatives, soybean oil… yuck! Making it at home takes only a few minutes, and I can use my homemade yogurt.

So I found a recipe online for a yogurt dressing. Right off the bat I knew I had to change it. Low-fat yogurt? Why? Why torture yourself eating that sour mess to save very few calories and fat? You need fat. Your hair will fall out if you don’t get enough. Do you want that to happen?

I didn’t think so.

Parsley. Again, why? That had to go too. Even if I kept it on hand, which I don’t because it has no reason to exist, it doesn’t really add much of anything to the flavor. Is it in there to help with your breath after eating the green onions? Because that’s a lost cause.

I kept everything else the same except I added two teaspoons of lemon juice to brighten it. Whatever that means. Mary Hunt suggested adding lemon to foods to brighten them at her blog on citrus: http://www.everydaycheapskate.com/food-and-recipes/stop-throwing-away-citrus/

Everything could stand a little brightening I guess, so I did.

It’s delicious. And since it’s basically yogurt instead of some science experiment in a bottle you can pour it over anything and everything. None of this measuring out a 2-tablepsoon serving. You can also use it as a dip for whatever you’re serving that’s dry or boring.

Not that you cook that way.

Here’s the recipe:

2 cups yogurt
1 Tablespoon mayonnaise
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 cup finely chopped green onion
2 teaspoons pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup parmesan cheese

Stir together. Refrigerate an hour before serving.

But whatever you do, don’t change the recipe without trying it this way first. Because that’s just wrong.



Robot Vacuums I Have Loved

I love my Neato robot vacuum. I’ll admit I named him.

Yes. Him. Rocky.

Rocky is actually the second (used/reconditioned) one we’ve had. The first I named Rosie after the robot on the Jetsons. Everyone who grew up watching the Jetsons wanted a robot. And a spaceship.

Anyway, Rosie, the vacuum, was wonderful. Yes, was. Unfortunately, Rosie has gone on to her reward.

I’ve never loved vacuuming, but even if you do (and I won’t believe you if you tell me that) I’ll assume you don’t have the patience to go over and over the same spot every day. That’s what it takes to get up the dirt. Stuff you see perching on top of the rug is not dirt. It’s camouflage for what’s lurking beneath. You vacuum a spot quickly, thinking you’re done, while the real enemy skulks at the base of your carpet fibers. Waiting. Just waiting.

Rosie would fill her dust bin (robot vacuums think in British English not American English) every time she ran. Every day. Now that’s dedication. No knocking off for a spot of tea in the middle of the job.

Rosie had a bit of bad luck with some water, so we got another (used) one. While Rosie was quiet and gentle, Rocky was loud and obnoxious. Then I realized Rocky came with some weird beater bar already installed that I’ve never seen the need of. Strange, extra parts that come with things quickly get stuck in a box under the bed in the spare room. Now Rocky sounds just like Rosie did. He’ll beep every once in a while, but for the most part he’s quiet.

He did get into trouble today. He rolled into the bathroom and tried to suck up the borax I put out for the ants. He tracked it everywhere. It was like having another dog in the house. Except his fur is on the inside and he doesn’t yap at squirrels. Also, unlike the dogs, Rocky cleans up after himself.

I think my husband’s a little obsessed with these vacuums because he decided Rocky needed a friend and bought a brand new Roly. Rolybot got confused easily. She never could find her way home when it was time to clock out for the day. I took her to visit my daughter. When I brought her home she just spun in circles. What’s up with that? Did she like it better over there and decided to throw a tantrum?

I pulled the plug. Don’t judge me. She already would do inconvenient things like wedge herself under the recliner and demand (yes, she talked) that I come rescue her. Now. Right now. She rolled up the side of things and tried to balance, too. Acrobatics. On my time. On top of being mouthy.

I’ve got enough trouble without being ordered about by the help.