Friday, July 15, 2022

Great googly moogly!

You know what happens when Sooz a) is kinda bored and b) has craft items in her possession?

Yep. You get a random case of the googlies.

Daruma figure with googly eyes attached
Googly Daruma!

Swedish Dala horse with googly eyes attached
Googly Dalahäst!

Portrait of Jenny with googly eyes attached
Even googly sister collage portrait! Because that's how we roll around here.

(Great, now her googly eyes follow me everywhere. Creeeeeepy.)

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

AAAAAH WHYYYYYYY

S

OME of you might know that I save correspondence -- the snailmail letters and postcards that I receive from family and friends. (Not ALL of them, mind you, but the ones I hold dear for one reason or another.) And several years back I got the brilliant idea to organize all that correspondence into a few binders -- one for letters and cards, one for postcards, one for the Wish I Were Here project. And it was a great idea and worked beautifully and everything was nice and neat.

For a while, anyway.

But, as with so many of the projects I begin with the best of intentions, I neglected it. And the correspondence went into a pile -- because I'd sort it out eventually, right? -- and the pile grew, and grew, and grew, and GREW as I continued to ignore it because I just knew it would be a Task of Eternity and I didn't want to devote loads of time to doing it.

Well, today I finally decided to take the bull by the horns and sort through the mighty pile. We're preparing to move and I knew I couldn't afford to wait many more days before it had to be done. I blocked off the entire day to accomplish this task, hoisted the pile onto the table, found the binders and started sorting.

It took an hour.

The task that has been hanging over my head for nearly a decade. Took. One. HOUR.

This is a prime example of ADD's tendency to play tricks with mental time estimates. I often assume that some "quick" task will take five minutes when it's really going to be more like half an hour, and I tend to avoid other tasks for long stretches because they seem like they'll be arduous and take all day, when in reality ONE FREAKING HOUR.

Welp.

On to the next task. Cleaning the bathroom. Shouldn't take more than 10 minutes tops, right?

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Live a little

The other day I was out and about, shopping for sundries (as you do). It was a pleasant late spring day in the Puget Sound region -- that is to say, cold, grey and drizzly -- but I was Getting Stuff Done, so it was all good.

And then I came across this, and it pulled me up short.

A bag of Gimbal's Scottie Dogs black licorice
It's just a bag of soft black licorice candies shaped like Scottie dogs. You can find them at lots of drugstores across the United States. No big thing.

But.

I first found a bag of these Scotties at the end of 2019, and thinking they were kind of cute, I bought them as a stocking stuffer for my mom for Christmas. I knew Mom loved all kinds of black licorice, but especially the soft kind, so I figured she'd probably like these.

When Mom saw the bag, though, her eyes lit up with delight. "Oh, these take me back to childhood!" she exclaimed. "My grandpa used to buy these Scottie dogs for me and my sisters when I was a little girl!" And she ate several with obvious relish. Very pleased with the reception they'd gotten, I made a mental note to buy some more Scottie dog licorice for Mom next Christmas.

Only there was no "next Christmas" for Mom. In early August 2020, she slipped and fell hard against the white wooden chest she used as a coffee table, breaking at least one rib and puncturing one of her lungs. She was rushed to the hospital and intubated, but she promptly went into cardiac arrest. By the time my siblings finally got hold of me to break the news, she was already dead.

It's been almost two years. On most days, I can get things done. I can run errands. I can do dishes and fold laundry. I can cook meals. I can scoop out the cat box. I can change the bedsheets. It's all normal, everyday household stuff that requires little or no thought to accomplish. I can function. It's fine. I can do this.

And every now and then I come across an object like this, something that tears at the edges of the ragged hole in the center of my heart that won't heal and won't go away.

The pandemic is still a danger, although more and more people are pretending it's over. I don't want to encourage anyone to throw caution to the wind, especially when people are still actively dying of this plague, and when many others are struggling with long-haul damage to their bodies after being infected. Nonetheless, I want to encourage you to embrace the slogan at the top of this bag.

You never know what life is going to throw at you next.

Live a little.

If Mom were still alive, I'm sure she'd agree.

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Yet another addition to the van Gogh list

It's been a while since I added someone to the van Gogh list, but I feel like this one's important.

Paul McCartney, 1963
Sir Paul McCartney
(publicity photo taken 1963, photographer unknown)

Yes, I know it's an old photo. But this man has steadily been writing and performing great music since the early '60s. He's nearly 80 at the time of this writing and is still going strong -- in fact, he's on tour right now. His work with the Beatles, his collaborations with other singers, and his solo projects are excellent, lyrical, sometimes heartbreaking in their beauty, and to my way of thinking he wrote and performed some of the best songs of the 20th century. I'll probably never get to see him in concert, but I feel very fortunate that our lives on this planet happened to overlap in time.

(Oh, and if you do happen to catch him in concert? Let me know how it went! I will try to keep my envy down to a dull roar.)

Thursday, February 03, 2022

Blam This Piece of Crap Day 2022: fridge velcro quiche!

So I took my own sweet time figuring out how to turn something from meh to marvelous for Blam This Piece of Crap Day this year. As a result, when the day finally arrived I had to hustle something up pronto. And the most obvious decision was to make some kind of fridge velcro.

I'm not absolutely certain about the origins of the phrase "fridge velcro" -- it might be an Alton Brown thing -- but in this household it refers to certain foods (quiche, casseroles, soup, etc.) where most of the odds and ends of things you have lurking in your fridge will "stick" to the recipe. Make something tasty and clean out a major appliance at the same time!

Considering the number of marked-down supermarket specials, various containers of leftovers, and the quantity of eggs we had in the chiller, I decided to make a fridge velcro quiche.

Now behold its slung-together glory!

Slice of fridge velcro quiche
Crust: leftover rice.

Filling: sautéed red onion, marked-down mushrooms, one sad Roma tomato cut to bits and sautéed with slightly wilted green onions (both came back to life in the pan), a marked-down turkey kielbasa cut into bits and sautéed until piping hot, marked-down chêvre blended with four eggs and a splash of milk, various grated ends and pieces of cheese, all slooshed together and poured into the crust. Deeeeelicious (if a little goaty, but I happen to like that quality).

I didn't set a timer and forgot about the quiche in the oven (so, ADD Brain, we meet again.), so it got a little more brown on top than is normal for a quiche, but it's still delicious. I had a test piece to make sure. And since quiche is good served either hot or cold, we'll have meals for a couple of days off this baby.

I also had a little bit of leftover Nutella, so I made some Nutella hot chocolate (heat some milk until it's hot but not boiling, add Nutella -- I'd say about a tablespoon of Nutella per cup of milk, but you do you -- and whisk until it dissolves. Add a touch of vanilla extract if you want, or just drink your deliciously rich hazelnut hot chocolate as is).

ALL HAIL BTPOC DAY! *slurp* aaaah, chocolate.

Friday, December 31, 2021

When it's time for the talk about Santa

 

Santa Claus in the snow, holding a finger to his lips

Sooner or later your kid will ask about Santa Claus, and it's better to plan how you'll respond before that day comes.

Monday, November 29, 2021

Too Good to Go: Seattle

Too Good to Go logo
For the last several weeks I've been using the Too Good to Go app to reduce food waste around the greater Seattle area. Too Good to Go has been a popular app in Europe for some time and is making inroads in metropolitan areas of the United States, and I thought I'd see what all the fuss was about.

How it works: Too Good to Go partners with various restaurants and other businesses that have surplus food at the end of the day, and allows them to offer their extra food to customers at a discount through the app. So: you download and install the app, tell it where you want it to search for available food, look over the options, pick an offer you want to reserve, pay in advance (there are several options for payment), then come to the restaurant, bakery or grocery at the agreed-upon time to pick up the food. Take home, eat, enjoy, repeat as desired. Since you're saving food that might otherwise be thrown away, you get the chance to pick up a meal (or foodstuffs) at a deep discount. And since you don't usually know exactly what you'll get in advance, it feels a little bit like adult trick-or-treating.

After a few weeks, I've formulated some general observations about Too Good to Go Seattle:

You will mostly deal with small, local businesses: single-storefront restaurants, specialty grocery stores, local burger chains, etc. The big multinational chains have their own corporate protocols for getting rid of food they didn't sell, so you won't see Massive Supermarket Chain or International Burger Joint on the app.

It's probably best for singles or small families. Scoring meals from the same location for more than about 4 people at once is going to be a challenge. And as the app gets more popular and more people use it to find meals, the likelihood of picking up more than one meal from the same location will go way down.

It's easiest for people with flexible schedules and a car. Different businesses specify varying times for pickup; some have wide time windows (say 11 to 5) and some have extremely narrow ones (7:30 to 7:45), so if you're booked solid during the week, you might only be able to schedule pickups on your day off. And a car makes pickup much easier. (It's theoretically possible, but I don't want to think about the logistical headache of trying to pick up more than one surprise bag using Seattle's public transit system.) If you reserve surprise bags from several companies in one day, try to keep the locations close together and batch your pickups around the business with the shortest time window to save time and gas money. And if you're going to drive more than a few miles, PLEASE check the establishment's rating on the app first. Look for four stars or better; you shouldn't fight rush-hour traffic or drive long distances for mediocre food. (Learn from my fail.)

It's also a better fit for night owls than for early birds. Most businesses don't offer early-morning meal pickup; they tend to schedule pickups from 11 am to near closing time, so be comfortable with eating a late lunch and dinner.

It's easier for people who are OK with imperfect food. Items you get in your surprise bags may be seconds, near expiration, menu items that aren't as popular, or large amounts of the same thing. If that bothers you, Too Good to Go may not be a good fit.

And it's easier if you have few dietary restrictions. Some businesses advertise what they offer (vegetarian/vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, kosher, halal, etc.), but most don't. You agree to take whatever they bag up, including stuff you may not like or eat. (This household doesn't do coffee, and on a recent day when we picked up multiple surprise bags, we got mocha cookies, sweetened condensed milk with coffee, cold brew coffee and a slice of tiramisu. All from different businesses. Hey, this is Seattle. We just found friends who like coffee and passed the caffeinated goodness on to them.) You could also get foodstuffs to which you're allergic, so if you have a severe food allergy, be proactive and contact the business with your concerns before pickup time.

Forrest Gump might say that Too Good to Go is like a box o' chok'lits. (Sometimes literally. Yay Theo Chocolate surprise bags!) You never know what you're gonna get, and being comfortable with that uncertainty is a big part of enjoying this app. That food is so cheap because it's either a form of viral advertising for the business, an item that's perilously close to or past its Best By date, or leftovers that were prepped but not purchased. Sometimes you'll get a great value (like the aforementioned bags at Theo Chocolate) and sometimes you won't (three slices of lukewarm pizza from The Unnamed Pizza Joint, supposedly an $18 value--ha). In all cases, you'll reduce food waste and save money, but not every offering is equally stellar.

Got questions? Let me know in the comments.