Sunday, December 25, 2022

Don't tell anyone ...

 ... but I think my heart grew three sizes.


But, hey, the day isn't over yet....

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Do we have to do this every year?


As soon as Thanksgiving is over, I whip out my Grinch outfit and wear it until Christmas. At this point, Christmas Eve, it's stinks rather badly. I was going to wash it but I figured Grinch would rather like the stench so here I smell.

Hubby has gotten used to this annual ritual and greets me every morning with "Good morning, Grinchy." I try not to scowl in return as I know my heart will grow larger in inverse proportion to coffee intake. (It usually does anyway.)

It's somewhat ironic that as the temperatures drop outside during the holiday season, the Grinch keeps me warm inside; it's a rather cozy onesie. Although Christmas is tomorrow and I can officially put Grinch away, I might want to give it a wash and wear it for a few more weeks. Or at least until the weather turns a little warmer.

Another advantage of the Grinch suit is that I can get my husband to take out the trash rather easily or bring in the newspaper. The reason is I feel somewhat embarrassed to go outside wearing what amounts to furry green pajamas. I did go out once for the newspaper, however, in the first few days after Thanksgiving. I went out a side door and crept between my house and the neighbor's keeping an eye out for anyone who might pass by. When the coast was clear, I dashed around the corner, grabbed the paper from the driveway, and scurried back inside before anyone saw me.

Today might be different. I might intentionally wear it outside. It is, after all, Christmas Eve. If you see Grinch stomping around the neighborhood, don't be too alarmed. It could just be me on my morning walk. On the other hand, I might be just as willing to steal your Christmas cheer.

The spirit of Christmas tends to elude me during the Christmas season. I justify my grouchiness on stress: the stress of family gatherings and meal planning, meeting expectations (expressed or imagined); forced cheerfulness, if you will. After all, why does it all have to happen on December 25th? Couldn't we do it January 12th? Or July 15th when restaurants are open and I don't have to cook? After all, didn't we just all get together last weekend? Humbug!

But, in this quiet moment, on Christmas Eve while there's still hope and magic in the form of warm brown liquid in my cup (morning brown stuff, not evening brown stuff - although the latter generates it's own brand of hope come to think of it), I think of the people I love and the people who express love to me and I feel my outer crust start to melt and I feel grateful for all I have.

Ask me again in four hours and I may feel differently. There's a lot to do today . . . 

Before I finished that sentence, Hubby started talking about how we will cook the roast today. I looked up and saw the kitchen needs to get cleaned. I have cinnamon rolls to heat up but already Hubby is in the kitchen getting the roast tied and ready for the oven. And, I just remembered a couple of things I still need from the store.

Here we go. Let's just get through it, shall we?

(Guess whose cup is empty.)

Monday, December 19, 2022

Some Assembly Required

Christmas brings back memories of bleary-eyed Christmas Eve nights. Not from too much eggnog but from not enough sleep. They were nights of staying up long after all the little ones were tucked in bed with visions of inevitable sugar-coated bounty. There were presents to wrap, stockings to be stuffed, batteries to be installed, bites to be taken of what was left out for Santa (an important detail not to be missed). 

There are so many stories surrounding Christmas. Like the time our littlest was convinced he could see Santa flying high above the house. It was snowing that evening putting just the right amount of magic in the air.

Was that the same year Santa delivered bikes? The kids were so excited about Santa in the sky that they ran right past their brand new bikes to rush out the door and gaze at the stars (and the conveniently deceptive lights of a passing plane). When they returned, Ta Dah! There were bikes in their rooms. There was only one way this could happen because the bikes were not there just a moment ago: Santa was real.

Those are special memories but we will never forget the punchy late nights of putting together the Some-Assembly-Requireds. Tired and MacGyvery-ing solutions for toys with missing pieces or forcing parts that wouldn't fit together except through brute force, risking total destruction, we cobbled until we could cobble no more.

The kids are grown now and have their own Christmas Eve surprises to manufacture and it's been a long while since we've had to put together much of anything. But this year, we dusted off our Santa hats and bought something for ourselves with some of the best instructions I've ever seen.

 
Now that's the Christmas spirit!

Sans beverages, we put it together in the middle of an afternoon with the garage doors open: a work bench. All our prior Christmas Eve experience paid off. The parts were laid out and all accounted for and then the two of us assembled it in a mere two hours. One might say our skill level was quite high. No bickering, no skin was broken, and no extra trips to the hardware store were required. 

It's not a very sexy gift but it was needed. As this picture might suggest, we still have a little organizing to do. We have pegs for the peg board and tools to hang. We have hooks for the step stool and broom. 

Most of the clutter is out of the frame but you get the idea. We still have two sets of shelves to put together. This time, you can bet there will be a couple of beverages involved. But now, we have a work bench to put them on.


Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Fall is for Frito Pie

Fall means a lot of different things to a lot of different people: cooler temperatures and warmer colors, pumpkins and spice, and - of course - football (real and virtual).

A lot more baking happens in the fall while comforting soups and stews simmer on the stovetop or in a slow cooker. Chili contents are held. 

While I've enjoyed a lot of chili in my lifetime, I have never had it served on top of Fritos. I had never even heard of it. . . 

Come to think of it, I did come across it once. There was a hotdog stand on a downtown corner where I used to live - Weiner Wagon. Their menu featured three varieties of Frito Pie. Three. I cannot recall if I ever tried one. However, I remember it sounded sort of amazing and disgusting at the same time.

Imagine my surprise when - several years later - I see an Instagram post from Food & Wine with a recipe for Frito Pie. The photo shows three individual size bags of Fritos, slit open, with the chili served right in the bag. Sort of lowbrow for a foodie publication, don't you think? (Is it really food? Is there really an appropriate wine pairing?)

A quick search for Frito pie will net you a plethora of recipes. Turns out, this is not a passing fad. Another publication, Epicurious, ranks eating chili right out of a bag of Fritos as the number one way to eat chili. (For reference, they rank Cincinnati chili as the worst.)

However, while Epicurious does provide a recipe for Cincinnati chili they do not for Frito Pie. That's because it's simple: "split a personal-size bag of Fritos down the middle and pour your chili in."

That didn't keep Food & Wine from publishing a recipe for Frito Pie - a rather highbrow one at that. The first reviewer wrote: 

" Ruined the simplicity of what makes Frito pies great with the addition of superfluous, Cali-elitist ingredients. Definitely not a Texas Frito pie that so many of us Texans enjoy every Fall Friday night under the bright lights of high school football stadiums whether our team wins or loses. . . . "

 (For reference, Food & Wine also has a recipe for Cincinnati Chili.)

I decided to try it. I made a hybrid Frito Pie, meaning that I made chili from scratch but a far simpler version. I served it in a bowl (not in the bag): Fritos topped with chili (with black beans), topped with shredded cheddar cheese and chopped onion. We ate it in front of the TV in front of a football game for the whole experience.

Mind blown! I couldn't believe I had never had this before.

Consider this: I have made Cincinnati Chili. On purpose. And eaten it. On purpose. So consider your reviewer's point of view. Frito Pie may not be too lowbrow for me.

Saturday, October 1, 2022

Your to-do list for October

There's a lot going on this month:

  • Today is National Coffee Day.
  • Oktoberfest is being celebrated in multiple locations.
  • It's National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Here's what you need to do to cover all your bases. 

  1. Go to a local brewery.
  2. Order a coffee beer.
  3. Think about tatas.

All month long.

Sunday, September 18, 2022

'Tis The Season for Driveway Sittin'

A neighbor pedaled by and waved. She said, "Welcome back" although we had never left. 

During the summer, a lot of the neighbors do leave so it's common to not see someone for months. It's just too hot for us to sit in the driveway in the summer so people assume we've left town altogether. 

Last night, we took advantage of cooler weather. We opened the garage door, dragged out our camping chairs and a couple of drinks, and waved at the passerby. 

We may not have left but we're back. In the driveway. Most evenings around sunset.

Feel free to stop by and say hi.

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Nothing like a list to make me do nothing.

As if sensing that Id' be required to do chores, I developed a sudden case of wanderlust. I was driving home from an early morning appointment on Friday and thought, "Why not keep going?" I could be in another state in four hours.

Hubby had been making a list for Home Depot. I didn't even know what was on the list but I figured it could only mean one thing: home work.

As I considered travel as a means of avoiding the list, I remembered Hubby had an appointment that afternoon and I had to be back bright and early on Monday morning. 

I started to consider closer destinations. There were coastal cities only a couple of hours away. Both offered cooler temperatures and a plethora of entertainment and dining options. Only an hour away was a mountain town that promised slightly cooler temperatures and an event that featured beer.

Beer was more motivational than the list so we headed into the hills. The temperatures were not that much cooler and the beers were served in cans. Later, we found a winery with a parking lot turned patio under a parachute tent. The two-person band that played reminded me a little of some of the characters in The Righteous Gemstones. They were earnest but just off the mark.

It wasn't much but it was enough to satisfy my wanderlust and, more importantly, whatever was on the Home Depot list.

The next day, we went to Home Depot where we bought a plunger. 

You can just imagine what was on the to-do list.

Monday, August 15, 2022

Gone to the dogs.

We went to the mall on Sunday, mostly to walk. It was over 100 degrees outside and we were feeling lethargic and lazy. I suppose that's what Sunday's are for but we thought it would be good to get out of the house and get some exercise.

It turns out that teenagers still hang out at malls. The girls walk in packs and dress alike, wearing clothes that seem a tad too scanty to my old eyes. Innocent enough, though. They're trolling for attention - in real life rather than on social media. Were we that different? I don't know. I don't remember hanging out in malls.

What surprised me was the dogs. There were several. All were leashed but none of them wore a Service Dog vest. There was a lot of barking that echoed in the crowded mezzanine.

I get that it was too hot for owners to just let their dogs out in the yard, too hot to take them for a walk. But part of the reason for dogs to go outside is to relieve themselves and it was disgusting to see that at least one dog had done just that in the mall. We made a couple of laps around the mall's second story and each time passed a pile of excrement at the intersection of busy walkways. In that time, the owner hadn't come back to clean up its pet's mess.

I have never been a dog owner so I maybe I can't relate but when owners fail to clean up after their dogs, it sort of ruins it for other dog owners. I suspect there are circumstances when it's difficult or impossible to do the right thing in a given moment. But the more I see of dog poop, whether it's in a mall or in my community, the more I come to believe that this is not the case. Rather, I start to see all dog owners as irresponsible. (I know that's unfair because most of the people I know are dog owners and I see them all as responsible.)

Nevertheless, no amount of bitching will make the poop pick itself up. It's infuriating and yet I don't have the time or energy to be infuriated. Well, maybe enough time, at least, to write this post.

Anyway, maybe next weekend, I'll go for a bike ride instead. 

Saturday, August 13, 2022

Black Keys

 I finally wore the old one out. 


When I wore through the printing on the keys, I bought stickers with the letters on them. Then, I wore right through the stickers. Finally, one of the keys gave out completely and it wasn't the one you might think. The letter E is the most common letter used in English (as in the word English itself). However, the keys on a keyboard that are used most often are the spacebar and the backspace key.

It was none of those and I didn't discover the issue until, one day, I couldn't log into one of the programs I use for work. I tried three times until I was forced to "forget my password" and create another one. That's when I figured out that one of the keys involved in my password was no longer working.

I tried cleaning the keyboard with compressed air. I tried removing the key - like lifting the hood and peering inside as if the problem will be obvious to someone who knows nothing about what she is looking at. It would work if I poked at the vacant spot with my pen cap but not when I replaced the key unless I pressed it pretty hard.

I could have made it work. I mean, why not? There's only about eight weeks left in Tax Season, Part II. But I gave in.


Sexy, no?

This one is actually quieter and it feels like the keys are a teeny bit smaller. Plus, I don't need to press the keys quite so hard to make them work. Does that mean they'll last longer? For now, what it means is I'm making quite a few typos so I'm having to use the backspace key a lot.

It's good thing that key doesn't get used in passwords.

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Helpful

Hubby complained there was a good amount of hair on the floor of the bathroom. He said he was going to use the Swiffer to clean it up (no doubt wanting to be recognized for being helpful without having been asked). However, he told me, the Swiffer didn't have a pad and he didn't know where I kept them (meaning it wasn't his fault he couldn't be helpful but he deserved the credit for thinking of it).

"So," he said, "I took care of it the old fashioned way."

"You bent down and picked it up?" I asked.

"No. I turned off the bathroom light so I couldn't see it anymore.

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Stayin' alive.

You know the people who stand on an airport tarmac with those orange wands? They always look bored. And there are only about two positions I ever see them in: arms over their head with the wands crossed like an X or arms waving the wands in a "come this way" gesture like the guy at the car wash. (Only the guy at the car wash doesn't have orange wands which makes me wonder what if he did have orange wands?)

Upon arriving at my final destination and taxing to the gate, one such tarmac person raised an arm to scratch his nose with the back of his hand. I thought, "What's going to happen now? Will we arrive at the wrong gate? Or, worse yet, crash?"

What if that person broke out in some sort of dance like the dancing traffic cop who inevitably get caught on video and make everyone smile? What if all of them were dancing?

Would all hell break loose? Their jobs would be less boring, that's for sure. Right up to the point when they are arrested. (I suppose the FAA takes these things more seriously than NYC, for example.)

Just once, I would like to see what would happen. I want to see one of those tarmac dudes bust a move. 

Just once.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

I put diesel in my car.

Sometimes, Hubby is approached by a gas station attendant or another customer wanting to make sure he knows what he's doing. "Is your car a diesel?" or "Do you know that's diesel you're pumping?" they ask skeptically. 

The car is a 2014 BMW 5 series. And, yes, it takes diesel.

It's quiet, fast, and gets mileage. Not things you might associate with a diesel. Also, I never had to put fuel in it. That was Hubby's job.

That might sound sexist but when we bought the car, I had my own car. I took care of my car and he took care of his. While his was diesel, mine took gas. We figured the chances that we would put the wrong fuel into one of the cars was greatly reduced if I only pumped gas and he only pumped diesel.

Then, about five years ago, I sold my car and we became a one-car household. Most of the time, one car is all we need. I was working from home at the time (long before COVID necessitated working from home.)

But, the tradition carried on. Hubby pumped the diesel and now the only thing I pump is coffee.

Until yesterday. Yesterday, I put diesel in the car and I was a little nervous about it. It had been years since I put any kind of fuel in any kind of car. I did it without incident but when I got home from my errand, I told Hubby: 

"Don't get used to it."

Sunday, July 10, 2022

One Can Hope

Have you ever walked into your home and notice a smell you hadn't noticed when you left? Like, maybe you should have taken the trash out before you left for a week. Or it could smell like you need to open some windows to air things out.

Until recently, when we would come home after some time away, our house had that new smell which was not all that surprising because it was new. The last time we left the house for any period of time, however, the house smelled like fresh baked cookies upon our return. I thought, What lovely surprise! although I couldn't imagine who might have used our kitchen without asking. Maybe one of the grandkids? 

But I found no cookies.

The house continued to smell like cookies for a few days and I was convinced I would either find them somewhere or someone would confess. 

Neither cookies nor a confession materialized and now my house just smells like house.

Maybe if I wish real hard the next time we go away, the cookies will appear.

Saturday, July 9, 2022

What's with the rings?

I went for a 22 minute bike ride first thing this morning. Before coffee, even! This was followed by a 10 minute cool down. I figured that would close my exercise ring on my Apple watch but it only registered as 18 minutes. I'm not sure how it arrived at 18 minutes but I figured I could make it up later to get the full 30 minutes needed to close that ring.

Around midday, I went for a second bike ride - in 102 degree heat - for 15 minutes. According to the watch, I only needed 12 but Siri didn't chime in to let me know I had closed my exercise ring. After my ride, I checked my watch. It still said I only had 18 minutes total.

Here's what I'm thinking: the teeny tiny elves who've been busy hammering out all those awesomeness medals the watch keeps awarding me have the day off. Or maybe they went on strike. I have been pretty awesome lately.

Of  note, some of the activities that the watch will count as workouts are:

  • curling
  • golf 
  • ping pong
  • fishing
  • hunting
  • sailing
Housecleaning is not listed. Nor is taking a hot bath which I think should count as some sort of water activity.

Oh, well. I'm still awesome.

Friday, July 8, 2022

Coffee fail

I started the drip coffee maker without any water in it. 

Fortunately, not much time had passed before I figured it out and turned it off.

Nevertheless, I think I'll go take a nap while it cools off and try again later.

Bummer because that's where I left them.


 

Sunday, July 3, 2022

A little run down?

 


This is a picture a neighbor took of us. We had just moved to Southern California and it was still a little chilly in late February. The sun was starting to set and we had dragged our chairs onto the edge of the golf course to get a better view.

She snapped this shot as we were enjoying a glass of wine, wearing light jackets. Later, she used this picture to test the new ink cartridge in her printer but there was something wrong. When she picked up the photo, all the ink started to slide towards the bottom of the picture. She had a laugh about it but I thought the effect was pretty cool. I bought a frame for it after the ink had fully dried.

We've moved since then and have been in our new house for a little over a year. We have always been slow to hang things on the wall, wherever we've lived. This is literally the only picture we've hung so far.

Needless to say, I like it.

Monday, June 20, 2022

During what?

During what?
This is a picture of a little package of tissues. All the packages were labeled similarly. 

During what, I wonder. A zombie apocalypse?

The good news is the package is re-sealable in case it happens again. 

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Maybe in Ohio?

I saw an article by Angelina LaRue in my local paper, reprinted from the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, that began:

" You may recall a popular salad that’s been around for years that contains ranch-style beans, grated cheese, Fritos, and French dressing . . . "

And I thought, No! I definitely do not recall any such thing! (Sounds like something that might be in one of my Ohio cookbooks, however.)

"It's tasty . . ," the article continued.

Pass!

" . . . but I craved a cleaned-up version. . . ."

At this point I was thinking, This recipe needs more than cleaning up.

I glanced at the list of ingredients:

  • 1 head heart of Romaine lettuce
  • 15-ounce can Pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 Haas avocado, pitted, peeled, and diced
  • 3/4 cup whole black olives
  • 1/2 cup grape tomato halves
  • 1/2 red onion, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 cup salted pumpkin seeds
  • 1 to 2 radishes, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
What? No Fritos? No cheese?

This was a total overhaul!

Now, I'm intrigued. And, with temperatures consistently over 100 degrees in my neck of the woods, this looks like a refreshing and easy dinner. I'm going to try this.

As for the original recipe, it looks like it may be more of a Texas thing.

Sorry, Ohio.

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Who asks this?

I don't have my usual assortment of coffee; I only have the French Roast at home. Did you want something else?

I usually serve my guests whatever coffee I have on hand and for many years it was the French Roast from Starbucks. No one ever complained. In fact, some people proclaimed it the best coffee they'd ever had at my house as long as I didn't tell them what it was. (Some people have an aversion to Starbucks as a matter of principal.) 

I prepare it as espresso for Americanos and I think it's something about the aeration of the coffee as the water is added to the espresso that makes the difference. It comes out a little creamy. (Same trick works for whiskey, btw. Try it in a shaker before pouring it into a martini glass. It tastes different after shaking it and, again, I think it's because of the aeration in the shaking process.)

Starbucks ranks number one or two depending on what website you're looking at and the French Roast is one of Starbuck's most popular roasts. So, it stands to reason that most people liked whatever hot cup of joe I put in front of them.

So why mess with it? Because I started experimenting with local coffees. Sometimes, I would have up to three different roasts in the house in addition to 'Bucks French. 

There are only a few people who care much about what's in their cup in the morning. For them, I opened each canister of beans to let them compare aromas before choosing. Sometimes, we'll brew multiple different roasts and compare.

But who does that? 

Of my coffee station in the laundry room, one guest offered that it was like having my own cafe. I reminded her that it was still just an espresso machine in a laundry room. But, if I have a frappuccino blender in there the next time she's here, that's when she should start to get worried about my obsession.

She needn't worry. I like my coffee dark and black. And, now, local.

Monday, May 16, 2022

Where would you go?

After two weeks in quarantine, I decided it was time to leave the house. I showered, put on a dress, and took a COVID test. I dried my hair and put on jewelry. I was ready to face the world.

The test result was negative. I was free!

Where was the first place I went after two weeks of staying at home? Not eating at restaurants? No take out? No carpool, family, friends? After eating whatever was at home because that's all there was? I missed Hawaii, a trip to wine country with friends, a painting class, a wine paring event.

Where did I go? 

Starbucks.

I'm trying to decide if I am disappointed in myself or just unsurprised.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Aloha?

I'm sitting in a recliner for six hours to simulate a flight from Hawaii to California. I'm not wearing a mask and I'm not being served food or drink. That part seems realistic enough. I have a window seat but my view is far more terrestrial than celestial. I also have an aisle seat and don't need to step on anyone's toes if I have to get up to use the bathroom. My seat is ample and I have plenty of legroom which, for purposes of this exercise, is representative of the seat I would have had if I had gone to Hawaii.

However, I have not been in Hawaii for the last two weeks as I had intended. No, that trip was canceled, on the day before our departure, when we were the less-than-joyful recipients of a positive COVID test. Instead of sitting with our toes in the sand, we have been confined to our house. Granted, we do have palm trees in our backyard, and Total Wine would deliver rum to the house if we wanted it. But we don't have a blender or coconuts. Or those little tiny umbrellas that go in tropical drinks. 

It was Hubby that tested positive and we're rather lucky that he did. Rather, all the passengers on the flight that went to Hawaii without us were lucky. He had been feeling unwell but for some inexplicable reason, we never suspected COVID. Maybe we had become complacent but we had escaped it this far, hadn't we? There were plenty of other things it could have been and none of them had seemed serious enough to cancel the trip.

But that morning a friend sent a text saying he had tested positive for COVID. Hubby had just been golfing with him; they shared a golf cart together for hours. We have no idea who gave whom the bug or where it came from (although we have a few guesses). It wasn't until then that Hubby thought to take the test himself.

I was fine for several days but then I tested positive as well and one week stretched to two.

I did - twice - put on a new dress in the last few weeks. I had purchased them for the trip and decided that I could look fabulous even while in quarantine. The thing is, I'm quite comfortable at home and haven't been all that anxious to leave it. Total Wine did in fact deliver wine. We got our groceries delivered. We've been eating good, home-cooked meals, enjoying evenings on the patio or playing gin. Other than feeling various levels of cruddy, it hasn't been all that bad.

And, just like the Great Quarantine of 2020, we've saved a lot of money just by staying at home. We saved by not going to Hawaii, for starters. Plus, we haven't eaten out for weeks which will slash our credit card bill. Friends and neighbors check on us from time to time but we're doing quite well. (Hubby is still feeling cruddy despite testing negative but he should be better soon.)

Even American Express called. With no recent charges, they wanted to make sure we were still alive.

Now that my simulation has come to an end, I suppose it's time to get on with my life and consider going out amongst the living.

Oh, well. At least I don't have to unpack.

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Self-relegated

My coffee making station has been relegated to the laundry room. In addition to the washer and dryer, there's some counter space, some cabinets, and a small sink. That room was used mainly for laundry and storage of things that had no where else to go. 

The espresso maker has always been in the kitchen. There's a little alcove there which appears to be the perfect nook for a coffee station but I felt it was too far away from the sink and the garbage so I put it on the counter next to the stove which was closer. The machine is black and silver as is the coffee grinder. It looks neat and modern in almost any location. And, it's not very large so it doesn't take up too much counter space.

But, it's loud. So loud that I can't make coffee if I'm the first one up because it will wake everybody else up in the household which is why I keep a growler full of cold coffee in the fridge. For such emergencies.

I've had my espresso machine since long before my grandson was born. He's used to the noise. As a baby, he was fascinated by it. He used to like to get up on a stool to watch me make my coffee and, before long, to help make it. But when he became old enough to play games on his laptop, the other players in his game would ask "What's that noise?" whenever I started the grinder for a coffee. Now, they're used to it too.

Once, while he was visiting my son, my daughter-in-law apologized for making so much noise with her Keurig coffee maker. He said, "That's not loud. You should hear my Grandma's."

On a whim, I decided to move the coffee apparatus to the laundry room where I can close the door. 

It's a little weird to make coffee in one's laundry room but it does work as a sufficient noise barrier. I can make coffee without waking Hubby or houseguests. Even though I've wiped down all the counters, it doesn't feel as clean - sanitary - as the kitchen. For this reason, I use a small cloth to lay out my instruments - the coffee scoop and tamper, a regular spoon, the portafilter and basket, and a measured shot glass. I ready myself with all the seriousness and precision of a surgeon.

It has taken a while to get the rhythm of making coffee in the laundry room. The flow is off but it works as designed. I get coffee while Hubby gets sleep. Plus, there's one pleasant but unintended consequence: My clothes now have the faint smell of coffee.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

I have met my gateway coffee.

I brewed the Sumatra that I purchased from Coachella Valley Coffee and fell in love. This Sumatra may be my gateway into a deeper appreciation for coffee.

I have developed some ability to taste and discern the differences in wines. The same is true for beer. Coffee, on the other hand, has always eluded me. The tasting notes on a bag of coffee do not translate to what I am tasting in my mouth. In fact, I cannot come up with words of any kind to describe what I am tasting. I either like a coffee or I don't and mostly what I like is very darkly roasted coffee. French Roast is my go to.

I once had a coffee it Kafiex Roasters in Vancouver WA where I used the words "tastes like I mixed orange juice and milk" when trying to describe the bitterness of a coffee. This was after the roaster described the coffee as fruity.

I learned something. What is I was tasting might be described as fruity. I was learning what words go with what tastes. But my education ended there. 

Long before that, I tried a coffee tasting flight at Mauigrown Coffee. The place was crowded when I was there so I didn't have a chance of talking with the barista or the roaster about what I was tasting. Plus, the coffees samples were served in miniature paper cups. All I tasted was the paper. I didn't learn a thing.

For this morning's Sumatra, I made an Americano and drank it black. Then I tried to think about what I was tasting. The notes printed on the bag are "smooth dark chocolate & brown spice." A quick internet search provides a description of brown spice as "aromatic associated with cloves, cinnamon, mace and nutmeg."

Well, I don't know if I tasted all that. It tasted warm (as in comforting, which was maybe the "chocolate"?) and not as "burned toast" as a French Roast. There was a flavor that lingered pleasantly. It was smooth and soothing like a tea but warm and inviting like apple pie ("brown spice"?). Even though I would describe it as more sweet than sour, I would use the words "well balanced" which, if course, is only in the eye of the beholder, I suppose.

I look forward to having more of this Sumatra. I could be my new favorite coffee and what I love the most is that it comes from a local roaster.

Mornings never looked so good.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

This makes me happy.

 





How awesome is this? I got a notebook included with my coffee order from Coachella Valley Coffee. Do this folks know me, or what?

The notebook has little pockets on the front for - I dunno - a business card? Lunch receipt?? Maybe a pressed flower. And, the notebook is made from - get this - paper. AND it comes with a little pen.

I can't wait to try the Sumatra tomorrow morning. And then, I'll write about it. 

Maybe I'll go to bed early so tomorrow will come sooner.

I'm so excited.

Friday, May 6, 2022

Coffee Dilema

I'm desperate for a shower and clean clothes but it's 11 am and I haven't had my latte yet. Shower? Or Latte?

Latte is the answer.

I have few rules when it comes to coffee. First, and this may shock you, I only have two cups in a day. The first one is straight on - strong and black. The second one, a latte.

My second rule is: no coffee in the afternoon* (unless it is served as an affogato). 

If I shower first, I miss out on my latte because I desperately need to wash, and then dry, my hair. It's been days - a little too long, one might say - and it's getting a little gross. I also don't have any ice cream - Alexa! - so an affogato is out. 

On the other hand, if I have the latte first, I sit in my dirty misery for another hour - if I savor my latte appropriately. However, this may be the lesser of two evils.

The reason for my tardiness is my recent date with COVID. It's been a mild case but it hit me hard yesterday. I had a very soar throat and slept most of the day. I was awake long enough to eat something for dinner and then slept more than 10 hours overnight. 

The rest helped. Although my throat was still sore in the morning, I felt refreshed. Mentally, that is. The rest of me stinks and is - sticky. That's the word that comes to mind.

It's time to wash off the stink and the sticky. 

Alas, my cup is now empty and I'm already dreaming of tomorrow's latte and how much I will enjoy it. Because by then, I will also be done with this COVID nuisance. 

That's it. I'm done. Time to scrap this nastiness off.


*No rules apply to coffee during tax season. 

Monday, May 2, 2022

Boundaries

 

I moved my office closer to my bed. You know, to shorten the commute. If I can get one of those hospital type tables, it could be even closer. I don't even need to get dressed to do tax return. Soon, I won't even have to open my eyes.

Just kidding. I was getting some repair work done to the drywall above where the desk usually sits and needed to get it out of the way for the workers. Besides, having my office in my bedroom is close enough.


It's a good thing I don't meet clients at my office, though, or you might wonder what kind of business I'm really in.

Monday, April 25, 2022

Paradox

It's a paradox, is it not, for people who need coffee to function? They must also function to make coffee.

This morning, I planned to make a batch of cold coffee but I made the mistake of starting this before I made myself a cup for immediate consumption. I filled the carafe with a precise amount of water and then, instead of adding ice, I proceeded to fill the carafe with more water.

The problem was easily remedied by pouring out the excess water.

And, by making my own cup of coffee.

No other serious issues ensued.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

The Day After

"Did you sleep in?" my sister-law-asked me this morning.

Nope. I was up at 6:30 because Hubby scheduled landscapers to install lighting in the backyard and they were due to arrive at 7. 

All was not lost because I planned to wash my hair for the first time since last Thursday. Or was it Wednesday? A long, hot shower, and clean hair were my priorities. 

Afterwards, I unraveled the cord to my blow dryer, unfastening the Velcro band that keeps it neat. I plugged it into the wall, lost in unknown thoughts. After a moment, I unplugged the dryer, and bound up the cord in its Velcro strap and glanced in the mirror. My hair was still wet! Again, I unwrapped the cord and plugged it into the wall.

Yes, it might take a few minutes before I fully decompress.

My hair is dry now. I'm dressed and fed. I'm still working on forming full sentences but I think I can work out, "I need a pedicure."

But I'll write it out, just in case.

Monday, April 18, 2022

1 - (worn out)

When you've worn out the letter stencil on your keyboard and then worn through the sticker intended to replace the stencil.


Missing ET.

Maybe I should file my tax return.

Eh, there's still time.

Sunday, April 17, 2022

2

When you type

let me knowif you needth attachmeents "

...it's time for bed.

Saturday, April 16, 2022

3

My usual routine is: roll out of bed, nudge the computer to life, put on clothes (athleisure - where the emphasis is on neither athleticism nor leisure), log into work.

A couple of days ago, I put my shirt on inside out and thought, Who cares? I left it that way. Besides, it was a Seahawks shirt and Russell's gone so, again, Who cares?

This morning, I didn't bother getting dressed. I just went to work in my bathrobe. Somehow, that just feels right.

Three more days. . . .

Friday, April 15, 2022

4

I was pretty proud of myself for getting up and starting work at 4 am on a Saturday morning until I realized it was only Friday.

Four more days.

Thursday, April 14, 2022

5

Please don't talk to me before I've had my coffee.

It's going to be a long day, so maybe you shouldn't talk to me until after coffee.

In fact, just don't talk to me at all.

For five more days.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

6

My greatest amusement these days is #TaxTwitter. Nothing like reading the frustrations of overworked and overtired tax preparers when you're one yourself.

If I'm going to go crazy, at least I'll have company.

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

7 - head just exploded

One week left to get your taxes done if they're not done already. One week of dawn to dusk work hours. One more week without a day off.

Yesterday, Monday, was a productive and relatively sane day. That's saying something for a Monday. But the day before, my head exploded.

After work, I went out (as in out of doors, having showered and washed my hair) for a beer. I was telling Hubby that I had come across a reference to a K-3, a tax form a writer on Twitter wished to set fire to.

I didn't actually see the K-3 (thank goodness, because it's a 20-page form). One taxpayer's documents just made reference to one. As I was telling Hubby about this my right earring popped right off my ear. It was a hoop earring with a spring-hinge closure. 

Hubby said, "I think your head just exploded."

Indeed, I was a little light-headed and started to worry about the perilous height of the barstool. I only had one beer and then Hubby thought it best to get me home. 

Like I said, Monday was better. No exploding body parts.

Yet.

Monday, April 11, 2022

Sunday, April 10, 2022

9

Yesterday, Hubby and I both woke up at 6:30. We both started to dress.

"Go back to sleep," I told him.

"I've got to go to work," he mumbled.

"You don't have to go to work," I said.

"It's the working hour."

"Only for me," I explained. "It's Saturday."

Poor guy. Either tax season is contagious or he was having a bad dream. He slid back under the covers complaining he wouldn't be able to fall asleep again.

I got about an hour to myself, working from my remote, remote office (the living room), before he was up again.

Nine more days. I'll sleep on the tenth.

Saturday, April 9, 2022

10

There are 10 days left to this year's tax season. Of those ten days, nearly half are days otherwise known (to non-tax professionals) as weekends. Half.

So while you're sitting by the pool, sipping on something cool (I hear the folks in Massachusetts drink a lot of beer - 3.1 gallons per adult according to the Brewers Association) or whatever people do on weekends (I wouldn't know!), the people who are crazy enough to prepare other people's tax returns will be *ugh* working.

Twitter is my relief. Reading other tax professional's frustrations is hilarious at the end of a long day. You know, to tax people. Like this one:

" My first K-1 with a K-3 attached. I can just set it on fire, right? "

Another one:

" I define the life of luxury as having the time to cut your toenails. "

And this:

" You know it is late in the season when you need to issue an office proclamation making sure that staff know it is not acceptable to actually stab clients. It is OK and acceptable to want  to stab clients but that following through is not acceptable nor condoned. "
 Another one that I saved from last night contains adult language. A lot of it. Which was pretty damned funny at the end of the day but maybe not so good in the light of day with a cup of coffee. I'll share it with my office mates at the end of the day today. Which, to you, is called Saturday - a word that has been drained of all meaning for me and mine.

10 more days.

In the meantime, do not tell me your travel plans for next freaking week. Do not post pictures of you doing fun things outside. Do not post pictures of outside.

10

           more

                         days.

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Just under two weeks to go.

I'm in full panic mode now, wondering if it's possible to a) cross the finish line, b) intact. I am not very sure of my survival. My sanity begs to crumble.

On a happier note, I have a pair of new shoes which will be delivered today which is something to look forward to. I wonder how well they will go with my pajamas. They will certainly dress up my work attire although washing my hair today could do as much.

I'm also getting a delivery of freshly roasted coffee beans from Coachella Valley Coffee which I plan to munch like candy. Drinking the stuff seems to have lost its impact and I lack the equipment for direct infusion.

Hubby has decided that any repairs and maintenance that need to be done around the house should be done in these last days before April 18. Oh joy to be sharing my pajama/cork wedge shoe working ensemble with a a parade of tool-belted individuals. Maybe they will take a fashion tip from me.

But today, I plan to leave the house! Breathe fresh air. I will wash my hair, put on clothes and my new shoes, and greet other people with words rather than numbers. I will talk about anything but tax returns because there is absolutely no one who wants to talk about that, thank god. Still, it will be after 10 hours of work but it will be something.

Later, I will crawl in bed and listen to something soothing and try not to dream of panic. Resting for a few hours before starting all over again. Pushing forward because there's nothing else to do. Hoping the pieces will all fall into place because there's no other option.

I can't decide if it's comforting or scary as hell that there are less than two weeks left.

Saturday, April 2, 2022

No joke.

 

via Gfycat

This comes from an astute - and much younger - co-worker. She noticed something peculiar about our (very expensive) tax software. There's a function in the program to calculate the return which is to say after we input the data, we must click on a tiny calculator icon to see the results populate in the form of a tax return. In office parlance, we "calc" the return.

Every time we calc, an animated calculator appears on the screen - much like the spinning ball or hourglass that signals you must wait. The little calculator flashes itty bitty numbers on its itty bitty screen as miniature accountants behind the screen crunch the numbers.

What my co-worker was able to see that I was not, were the actual numbers on the calculator screen. They go by fast so to see them all, I needed a really big tax return. Fortunately, I have plenty those. I also needed to slide the tax program from my smaller screen on the right to my larger screen on the left before I hit the calc button.

Seeing as she told me this secret on April 1st, I was fully prepared to be fooled but it was no joke. The tiny numbers on the tiny calculator calculating the big return with really big numbers scroll out:

8675309

Thanks to JBBG for pointing that out. That was the highlight of Tax Season 2022.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

The Sky is Falling

It's that time of year when getting through Tax Season seems impossible. There's no way all the tax returns will get done. Science proves there are only so many hours in a day. Math dictates there are not enough hours to complete all the returns. Ergo, impossible. Somehow, it always comes together. Defying all logic, science, and reason. 

This fails to comfort me. Every year we get to this point. Every year, I can point to last year's success. Still, I don't believe it.

It's hard not to crumble, impossible to not feel the stress. Pushing back the edges of what feels like insanity. It's like running a marathon. Everyone knows it's crazy, yet people do it, pushing beyond.... It's a test of endurance. Of sheer willpower.

But why? Why would anyone choose to do this? (Why would anyone choose to run a marathon?)

Sadly, I have no answer. Sad, because I have three weeks to go and still go forward. I feel a strong loyalty to my teammates and I can't let them down. I can see the finish line and I know I'll get there even if I have to drag myself over that line. I know there's a martini and a dinner reservation waiting for me when it's over. (I know Hubby is tired of taking care of me and wants me to cook for him.)

Luckily, there's an upside. A recent study shows that staying indoors decreases the risk of head injury from falling spacecraft debris. It's not likely I'll be outside much (if at all) for the next three weeks so I should be pretty safe.

xkcd.com - h/t Grump

Do they make helmets for that? (Would they be deductible?)

Saturday, March 26, 2022

I'm still here. Barely.

Today is the first day in almost a month I didn't get up and go straight to work. If you're paying attention, you'll note today is Saturday but weekends mean nothing during Tax Season. One day streams to the next without delimiters. Nothing to signal rest, refresh, restock, reset.

I needed a break and decided to sleep in.

My bladder, however, had different ideas and woke me at sunrise. I am not sad about this because the sunrises here can be beautiful. I dressed, poured coffee, and went outside. And then, I did a Sudoku puzzle. I haven't done a puzzle in weeks and it felt like a dirty secret. 

March 22 was National Goof-Off Day, of which I was informed only after the day had passed. I figure I'm owed a makeup day. While today probably isn't it, I figure I deserved an hour to myself.

The puzzle solved, the sun risen, and the hour expired, it's time to get back to work. My only exercise will be to fetch the newspaper from the driveway sometime later this morning. Hubby will have to remind me to eat and bathe, and I will have my head down for another three weeks and three days.

I just thought I'd take a moment to let you know I'm still here. Barely.

(And to my friends in the industry, Hang in there!)

Friday, March 11, 2022

Up to 100% reliable.

 

Can I apply this to, say, my taxes? I'll pay up to 100% of what I owe!

This makes me think of our cloud server which is up to 100% reliable. Which is to say, totally not 100% reliable. Actually, there's an inverse relationship between reliability and an impending tax deadline. Doesn't matter what the deadline is, the cloud will fail just days before. This leaves workers - accountants, in this case - reaching for the closest bottle. (I had the foresight to stock up on the extra large bottles from Costco.)

There's about five and half weeks left of tax season. I figure there will be at least one more down day between now and then.

At least.

Monday, January 17, 2022

Monday's Coffee Calamity

To get ready for the week, I like to brew Japanese-Style Iced Coffee which I pour into a glass growler and store in the refrigerator. It yields about seven cups of coffee. It's been my preferred brewing method for years. Yet, this week I ground the beans as if for espresso - a much finer grind than for iced coffee. It was also more than I needed to make a latte.

My instinct was to throw them away and start over. When I make coffee, I measure the beans before grinding. I didn't know what the proper measurement was for ground coffee.

In an unusual moment of "winging it," I stored the ground coffee in a small, sealable container before staring over. When I made my latte later, I just guessed at how much coffee to use. Sadly, I didn't think to use any kind of scoop so some of the coffee got dumped directly into the sink. Now I didn't think there was enough left for tomorrow's latte. Should I grind more? How would I know how much to grind?

While pondering this conundrum, I proceeded to make my latte by adding water to my soy milk rather than steam. At this point, I was just grateful to have any cup of coffee and no longer cared about the specifics. At least, I had a cup of coffee.

Maybe tomorrow will go more smoothly.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Something must have been lost in the translation.

A local grocery store advertised in the paper they had A-5 Japanese Wagyu New York Steaks available for $99.99 per pound. I thought this an astronomical price for beef so I checked their website. No mistake. A hundred bucks for steak.

Turns out that might have been a good deal. A5 is the highest grade given to Wagyu beef and you could spend a good deal more. The ad suggested the savings was $50. Indeed, Costco has it available at $150 per pound.

What tickled me about the ad was the the item's description: "taste and flavor that spread out in the mouth, and the smooth texture." While not smooth, a sweaty sock would have flavor that spreads out in the mouth. I couldn't tell you from experience but maybe liver is smooth and would fill my mouth with flavor. That doesn't mean I want to try it. Especially, at $100-$150 per pound.

By contrast, the item featured just below the beef was Barramundi Fillets for $14.99 per pound. I didn't know what a Barramundi Fillet was except from the picture I could tell it was some sort of fish. By contrast, this lesser priced protein had a description worth more than that of the Wagyu beef. The fish "has a mild, buttery flavor with a hint of sweetness and a dense meaty texture. . . ." That sounds more like something I would like to try.

Yes, but will it fill my mouth? I wonder.

Maybe just 10-15% of it.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

It hasn't even started yet and I'm already planning for the end.

Tax Season doesn't officially start this year until January 24. That's when the IRS will begin accepting
2021 returns. Don't get in a hurry, though. They're still processing 2020 tax returns. However, if your 2020 return is being held up, that's no excuse for not filing 2021. Death and taxes, man. They can be delayed but they can't be avoided.

Nothing about 2020 and 2021 has been "normal" and, sadly, 2022 is shaping up to be no different. Tax Day was delayed to July 15 in 2020 and to May 17 in 2021. Even though April 15th falls on a Friday this year, the tax deadline will be April 18th (or 19th if you live in Massachusetts or Maine). So yet another weekend will be ruined this Spring preparing returns.

For states that have income tax filing requirements, the deadline is also April 18th except in the following states:

  • Delaware - May 2
  • Iowa - April 30
  • Louisiana - May 15
  • Maine - April 19
  • Massachusetts - April 19
  • Virginia - May 2

But I know you. You aren't even going to start until October. And, as luck will have it, the 15th of October falls on a Saturday meaning extended returns aren't due until 17th of October, ruining yet another weekend. If that's you, don't forget your extension and any tax due (even if you're extending) must be filed and paid in April. On the 18th. Or maybe the 19th. Or maybe in May.

Please send chocolate.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Which is the lesser of evils?

The last time I washed my boyfriend jeans I ran them through the dryer. Because, well, they're boyfriend jeans. They are made from faded denim and have holes in them. I figured the risk was low in drying them. Today, however, they fit more like skinny jeans which makes me think that putting them through the dryer was a mistake.

One said hole is large and exposes my right knee. It's big enough for me to put my hand in there which is exactly what I do. After I shower, all I want to do is jump into my clothes. (It might not be as cold here as where you are but it's cold enough for me to want to avoid it.) In winter attire, I try to moisturize whatever skin is still exposed: hands, feet, and when I'm wearing my boyfriend jeans, my right knee. I can't get to my elbows, my d├ęcolletage, or the rest of my legs. It's a quick and easy way for me to ward off winter dryness - as far as you know. And, it's effective. 

When I go to take my pants off at night, my dry legs sorrowfully greet me in their neglect. All but my right knee which is conspicuously smooth and moisturized. "Don't worry," my right knee says to my left. "Shorts weather is around the corner and moisture is on its way."

"Not all good news," the left replies. "Because then we need to shave."

Saturday, January 8, 2022

What's the math on that?

Four cups, three coffees, two people.

Hubby is easy. He has one cup of coffee in one cup. Simple enough. In red letters, his cup reads, The man, the myth, the legend. He has a shirt with the same thing on it. Must be true.

I have two cups of coffee but I use three cups. Each has a different purpose and story, you see. My first cup is from Coachella Valley Coffee and is one of very few non-red cups in my cupboard. But, not only did CVC deliver my coffee beans to my doorstep the very day they were roasted, they also sent me a cup - white with black lettering. How could I ignore such a gesture and drink their coffee from any other mug? (They have a customer for life in me.)

However, the non-red mug is only tolerated for the first cup of the day. The second coffee is a homemade latte for which two red mugs are essential. The one I use for steaming the milk is red ceramic with etched lettering in white that reads Now & Then. It's the only merchandise (not available for sale) associated with a story I wrote of the same name. A fan, and truly beautiful person, had it made for me. I will always remember her and her husband for that gift (and their readership).

After the milk is steamed and the espresso shot is pulled, it gets served in larger red mug. This mug is big enough for soup, a cozy vessel well suited for a large latte. I inherited this cup from a rabbi, in a manner of speaking. She sold me her condo which was fully furnished. When I sold it five years later, I also sold it with all the furnishings - all but the red cups. These, I took with me. (I left the new owner with the yellow cups which, while lovely, were not red.)

If you were to come to my house, you would not be served coffee in any of these cups. These cups are reserved for their specific purposes. However, I have red cups to spare you would not be denied coffee for that would not only be rude, it could, in some instances, be dangerous. You may have as much coffee as you like but you only get to use only one cup. It makes for simpler math.

Thursday, January 6, 2022

Home Town Cookbooks

 Mine are all from Ohio and all are handed down by grandmas. 

I have three such cookbooks on my countertop right now. Granted, two were given to me by a grandma who lived in Ohio. The third, while actually from Fort Myers, Florida, still has a connection to Ohio. The granddaughter of the author of What's Cookin' at Shell Point (signed "Enjoy, Love Grandma)" was from Granville, Ohio (which is about 30 miles northeast of Columbus). That's enough of a connection for me.

The recipes to be found in these cookbooks are strange to me. I have never lived in Ohio although I had family there and visited many times over a lifetime. I have eaten at Skyline Chili so while I have an appreciation for weird, these cookbooks use ingredients I would, today, neither fathom using nor promote using.

Here is a sampling of the table of contents from What's Cookin':

  • Chicken and Biscuits (which includes the instruction "make your own biscuits. . . . "
  • One-Step Crockpot Stew (which is comprised of 7 steps - 8, if you include "Do not peek!")
  • Bacon-Cheese Onion Things (There's really no better way to describe this.)
  • Zucchini Surprise (I'm going to go out on a limb here and say there's always a "surprise" in any hometown cookbook.)
  • Taffy Apple Salad (While I didn't find a salad in this cookbook that contained mini-marshmallows, I did find this one which included Cool Whip. It did not, ironically, include taffy.)
  • I skipped the chapter on seafood intentionally. (I have been to Ohio.)
For more down-home goodness, I present a sampling of the contents from John Paulding Historical Society Cook Book + Recipes + Reflections signed by Grandma R. with the words of "I love you" in 1992:
  • Brides Punch (which includes orange juice, can frozen lemonade, can pineapple juice, quart ginger ale plus two cups of sugar!) [emphasis mine]
  • Cornmeal Mush with Tomato Gravy (This doesn't even sound appetizing. I read the recipe and my opinion did not change.)
  • Fireside Supper ("Fireside" is not mentioned anywhere in the recipe except the title.)
  • Sinful Potatoes (which includes Velveeta cheese and a jar of Miracle Whip which sounds pretty sinful to me.)
  • Overnight Fruit Salad (This one includes mini-marshmallows but no actual fruit other than canned.)
  • There are a lot of recipes in this one for "balls" in Appetizers, Main Dishes, and Desserts, but I din't find any "surprises."
Cooking with Friends also comes from Paulding, Ohio. The inscription is dated 1997. 
  • Under the heading of Appetizers, the reader is advised that appetizers are treats that can be served before a meal, at an open house, or at a reception. The first example was "Caviar flavored with onion juice." I skipped the rest of this section.
  • It surprises me what passes for salad but it often includes Cool Whip, sugar, or cream cheese or some combination thereof. Canned pineapple is also featured.
  • Mystery Crackers are made of oyster crackers, buttery popping oil, and two packages of Lipton Cup-A-Soup mixed together. The mystery is "why?"
  • There are five pages in the Vegetables section of this cookbook. In all recipes, the vegetables are disguised by ingredients such as Ritz crackers, grated cheese, sour cream, Jiffy corn muffin mix, Velveeta, corn flakes, boxed stuffing mix, Marshmallow Cream, Cheese Whiz, Bisquick, and a variety of canned soups.
  • There are 20 pages in the Cakes, Cookies & Confections section. This is separate from another 10 pages of Desserts.
  • Cream Cheese Pound Cake contains only a half pound of cream cheese.
  • Honeymoon Cake will likely lead to diabetes and/or divorce. Its main ingredient is one pound of fruit cocktail and is topped with coconut-pecan frosting and whipped cream. If that doesn't do it, try Coffee Marshmallow Cake made of marshmallows, whipped cream, vanilla wagers, plus sugar.
  • In the Beverages section, there's a recipe for Party Punch. Even as a kid, I knew there was something inherently wrong with a beverage that included Jell-o, fruit juice concentrate, ginger ale, and sherbet all mixed together and served in a punch bowl, served with a glass ladle into little glass cups. Was it supposed to be elegant or decadent? What's more is no parent ever stopped their child from drinking it. That's midwestern goodness right there.
What I love about hometown cookbooks is their down-home-ness. They represents comfort food from the heartland. They are recipes passed down from generation to generation, preserved in a book that no granddaughter has ever referenced. Either she already knows these recipes, having grown up with them, or she has moved out of Ohio and developed different culinary tastes. Nevertheless, these books contain the love of grandmas and so live on in kitchens everywhere. 

They aren't as much about the recipes as the people behind them. And, that's the best ingredient of all.