Sunday, October 30, 2016

Understanding The Concept of Halloween

This is one of my all-time favorite photos of my daughter, Amy, taken on her 2nd Halloween. It captures the EXACT moment when she grasped the meaning of the holiday: You go door-to-door visiting strangers, they give you free candy, and then YOU GET TO EAT IT.

Nevermind that, for the other 364 days of the year, we spend our time as parents trying to teach our children to be cautious around people they don't know. On October 31st, it's all about the chocolate.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Maybe Samsung Should Make Fire Extinguishers, Too?

This is not a joke: I just discovered that Samsung sells a gas range with built-in WiFi that lets you turn your oven and burners on remotely...when you're not home...using an app on your smartphone.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Debate Fatigue

I endured 45 hours of induced labor with my first child.  Tonight's Presidential debate was only slightly less painful.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Hot Mic, Cold Heart

It has been such an odd, unsettled day today.  And what's this I hear about a certain candidate mishandling cats to get a woman's attention?

Time to unplug and read a book.

[Edited to add the following front page headline, courtesy of the NY Daily News.  There are no words.]

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Book recommendation: Ridgerunner by Rusty Barnes

I'm blessed to have many writer-friends that I've had the pleasure of meeting both online and in person over the years, and each time one of them is published, I celebrate in their accomplishment.  I also invariably purchase the books and read them at some point, although with my crazy work schedule, it can sometimes take me awhile.  

Such was the case with Ridgerunner, by Rusty Barnes.  It's not my typical genre of fiction--Rusty's story takes place in the mountains of Appalachia, and is a gritty, fast-paced novel with a fair amount of violence.   And yet, the characters were so nuanced and realistic, they drew me and made me care about them--I had to keep reading to see what happened to them.  The protaganist, Matt Rider, is an imperfect man, but one that you can't help rooting for, and the plot keeps you guessing right up until the final page. 

Overall, an outstanding effort by an excellent writer.  Well done, Rusty!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Beware of String Beans!

Just read a story online about a woman who is suing her local supermarket for damages, after slipping and falling in the produce aisle.   You can read the full story AT THIS LINK

My favorite part of the article: "...suddenly and without warning, she slipped on a string bean and fell violently to the floor."  Riiiight. Because if ONLY there had been a "Caution: Floor Slippery When String Beans Present" sign, she might have been able to prepare herself better.  Perhaps she would have fallen more gently?

What sort of warning is one reasonably entitled to expect when shopping for groceries? 

Monday, October 3, 2016

Food review: Blueberry Pie Oreos

At long last, I got my hands on some Blueberry Pie Limited Edition Flavor Oreos, and after a long, active day visiting colleges with my youngest daughter (over 10,000 steps and counting) a sweet treat was definitely in order.

These were worth the wait.

Once again, the sandwich cookie for these are vanilla-based, which really allow the flavored creme filling to shine through.   The scent wasn't overpoweringly blueberry, but pleasant enough.  The color, on the other hand--yikes. It looks more like a grayish purple--a color I have yet to see occur naturally in ANY food--which was a little off-putting.

Fortunately, after just one bite, you won't care what color the filling is--it's delicious!

The blueberry creme was just sweet enough, without being cloying or overly sugary, and it struck just the right balance with the cookie sandwich.  These are great "as is" or would be equally as good dipped in milk--not always the case with these limited edition flavors.

Yesterday, I reviewed the Candy Corn Oreos, and deemed them "yummy" but these Blueberry Pie Oreos knock those right out of the top spot.  They're my favorite ones so far, and definitely something I would buy again.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Food Review: A Tale of 3 Oreos (Weird, Heinous and Yummy)

Yes, my friends, it's time once again for your intrepid blogger to try out some "Limited Edition" Oreo flavors:  Fruity Crisp Oreos, Swedish Fish Oreos, and Candy Corn Oreos.

I have been searching for the Swedish Fish Oreos for awhile now, but there aren't any Kroger stores near me, and since that's an "exclusive" for their store, I had to give in and order them off of  While I was at it, I searched for other flavors I hadn't tried yet, and that's when I found the Fruity Crisp and Candy Corn varieties. (I also ordered "Blueberry Pie" Oreos, but those won't be arriving until tomorrow.)

So, how did these newest flavors stack up?


My first reaction upon opening the package, "Oooh! These are so pretty!"  They have a vanilla Oreo cookie with a white creme center, dotted with rainbow speckles, and they smell EXACTLY like Fruity Pebbles cereal (think Rice Krispies in garish rainbow colors).  It's uncanny--they definitely nailed it in terms of scent.

I guess I should have read the package more carefully, because I did not realize that the pretty rainbow speckles actually had some "snap, crackle, pop" to them (even though it says right there in red letters "with FUN, Colorful Rice Crisps!") The sensation was similar to ingesting a mouthful of Pop Rocks candy, and I was not prepared for that.  The flavor is also sickeningly sweet--very much like the breakfast cereal, but without the benefit of milk (and a 6-year-old's palate) to offset it.

Overall, it was an odd combo: the crackling rice bits were off-putting, and the flavor of the creme itself was sweet and cloying. Not a pleasant cookie experience, and no, I would not buy these again.

Next up: a flavor that screams "synergy": Swedish Fish Oreos.

I must confess right off the bat: although I was a big fan of Swedish Fish candies when I was younger, I've lost my taste for them as I've gotten older. I really wasn't looking forward to this taste test, and one look at the unnatural-looking, bright red creme filling did nothing to allay my concerns. So, I enlisted my youngest daughter--a huge fan of Swedish Fish candies--to test these out with me.

Again, when it comes to the aroma of Swedish Fish, they nailed it--not surprising, since the company that makes the candies (Mondel─ôz International) also owns Nabisco.  The familiar chocolate Oreo cookie outside gave me some hope that this might not be so bad--until I bit into one.

Oh, lord.  The horror.

The Swedish Fish Oreos are, by far, the worst Limited Edition flavor I have ever come across. If I had to describe them in one word, it would be HEINOUS. They have a metallic quality and a medicinal aftertaste that made me want to spit out the bite I took.  Somehow, I got the first one down, but when I tried to give it a second chance, I just couldn't do it--there was no way I could ingest this stuff.  Yes, it was THAT BAD.

Unfortunately, my "no such thing as too sweet" Swedish-fish loving daughter had to agree.  She said the cookie started out okay at first, but there was definitely a strange, chemical aftertaste that had her throwing the rest of the cookie in the trash after the first bite.

Bottomline: the formula for Swedish Fish Oreos should be ripped up, burned, and never, ever used again.

Finally--redemption!  Once again, I must confess, I'm not a big fan of actual candy corn candies: I find them waxy and overly-sweet, but the marshmallow-scent and signature tri-color pattern is one that I always associate with Fall, which is my favorite season, so they do have that going for them.

The Candy Corn Oreo sandwich cookies are vanilla, which pair well with the yellow and orange candy-corn filling. (The traditional chocolate Oreo cookie would have overwhelmed the delicate flavor.) Some cookies had more yellow creme than orange, others had more orange creme than yellow, but the flavor profile was exactly the same: DELICIOUS.  The ratio of creme filling to cookie was perfect, and the flavors blended well together.  This is actually a flavor that I would buy again, and if I do see it in the store, I will be sure to stock up on it--yes, they're THAT good!  

Of the three flavors I tried out this time around, Candy Corn Oreos were the clear winner. Skip the other two and give this one a try!