Thursday, May 18, 2017

TIME Magazine Cover, May 23, 2017

Wow.  No matter where you stand in the current political climate, you have to acknowledge that is a powerful, though-provoking image. It illustrates the cover story, Inside Russia's Social Media War on America.  Big props to the artist, Brobel Design, for creating what is sure to be an instant classic.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

A Tick That Makes You Allergic to Dairy and Meat!

My love affair with cheese has been documented before on this blog, so if you've been a regular reader, you'll understand just how horrified I was to read about the Lone Star Tick.

According to this article on, those unfortunate enough to be bitten by the Lone Star Tick suddenly find themselves allergic to meat products and dairy.

If anyone needs me, I'll be ensconced safely indoors, bathing myself in DEET and eating a wheel of parmesan.

Friday, May 12, 2017

FOOD REVIEW: Waffles & Syrup Oreos

Well, THIS was unexpected!

At this point, my friends and family have grown accustomed to my penchant for reviewing Limited Edition Oreo flavors as soon as they're available.  I'm not even a big cookie eater, but I do love being adventurous and trying unusual foods (or food-like things).

I recently purchased Firework Oreos to review them [see that blog post HERE], and unlike most of the other flavors I've purchased, somehow my family managed to plow through the entire package in just a few days--which is a problem, because I promised my eldest daughter she could try some when she comes to visit on Mother's Day.

So, I took a quick trip to the grocery store to snag some more, and that's when I happened upon ANOTHER flavor that I had no idea was being released: Waffles & Syrup. What?!? WHY WAS I NOT INFORMED!?!

Seriously, whenever a new flavor is announced, I inevitably face an onslaught of tags on Facebook for at least a week. Does no one check my wall first before posting about a new flavor? Nope, I get at least 5 or 6 people tagging me every time a new one is released.

These intrigued me.  I was not a big fan of the Lay's Potato Chips "Chicken & Waffles" flavor, but I was curious enough to give them a chance. These have to better, right?

Actually, I found these a little disappointing--definitely a missed opportunity. I'm not sure what part of this cookie is supposed to taste like a waffle, but I didn't detect any waffle taste at all, other than the slightest hint of artificial butter flavoring. On the plus side, the cookie itself did have a noticeable maple flavor that was quite pleasant.

Unfortunately, they really missed the mark on the creme filling. Instead of using the maple flavoring throughout the creme, they had just a small dollop of light brown maple creme surrounded by plain white creme, which completely overwhelms the too-subtle maple flavor. They should have used the maple creme throughout the entire cookie.

Final verdict: fun to try, but no one in my family enjoyed these as anything more than a novelty. I will not be buying these again. :(

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Food review: Firework Oreo Cookies

Being a child of the '70s, when Pop Rocks popping candy was all the rage, I've been dying to try these Firework Oreos ever since the flavor was announced. For a Limited Edition Flavor, they're fairly simple and straightforward: a regular Oreo cookie with popping candy embedded in the creme filling.

Yay! They're finally here!

I'm not sure who it was over at Nabisco who thought of this one, but HERE, TAKE MY MONEY!

And, spoiler alert: These are pretty darn good!

I followed my usual "scientific" 3-cookie method for trying them: first I pop the entire cookie into my mouth all at once, to see how it tastes as a whole; next, I twist one open and eat just the creme filling, and then the cookie separately, to discern their individual merits; and finally, I take a few bites and eat the cookie more slowly, to reach a final verdict.

To be honest, I was a little underwhelmed when I consumed the entire cookie at once, because I could barely taste any difference between this flavor and regular Oreos.  Then I did the "creme only" part of my taste test, and that's when the fun really started. You definitely get the popping sensation, feeling it on your tongue as you eat the creme, and hearing it in your head as the candy pieces disintegrate and do their exploding thing. And just like that, it was 1975 all over again!

I'm happy to report that, once I had the third cookie and took the more classy, dignified approach of actually taking bites out of it, chewing slowly so that the creme had a chance to dissolve, it yielded a satisfying popping sensation that was not as intense as the creme-only test, but still fun.

As for the flavor, Firework Oreos are pretty much just like a regular Oreo cookie, although I could swear the popping candy itself smells like cotton candy. Again, I could just be having a vivid flashback from my childhood, but regardless--these are definitely worth getting, and I will most definitely buy them again.  They got a big thumbs up from everyone in my household, and for once, I actually went back and had more than my usual 3 cookies after the taste test was over.  For someone who samples Oreos as often as I do, that's saying something.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Abby Lee Miller: Dance Moms Star Sentenced to Jail Time

For years, my youngest daughter was a big fan of the reality show, Dance Moms.  I'll admit, I had a tough time watching it with her, because 1) the dance instructor, Abby Lee Miller, was SO mean to the girls, and 2) their moms just stood there and allowed it.  Nevertheless, my daughter loved following the drama surrounding dancers like Maddy and her sister Mackensie, Nia, Kendall, and the others, so on Tuesday nights, we'd sit together and watch the screaming matches unfold. She finally outgrew the show about two years ago, but not before we attended a book signing and met with Abby Lee Miller herself.

I've been to celebrity book signings before, and they are typically crowded, rushed affairs.  This one was no different, but in the past, the authors were always very gracious and kind to the people waiting, allowing the book store staff to play "bad cop" and keep people moving through the line.

Abby was different.  She had no problem barking out instructions directly to moms and their daughters, telling them where to stand, how to pose, and when to move along because there are others waiting.  Definitely Type-A, and I tell you what--it actually brought me a measure of comfort that she was so abrupt and no-nonsense with everyone, because it made me feel like she was showing her true self on the show, as opposed to an exaggerated persona designed to get ratings.  

And, she was gracious enough to grant my request that we pose for a picture imitating her iconic screaming pose, featured prominently on the cover of her book.

I'll admit, I still haven't read the book she signed for of these days I'll get around to it.

Unfortunately, Abby ran into some legal problems in 2015 relating to unreported income, and ended up pleading guilty to fraud. She was sentenced today to about a year in jail, with two years probation.  I hope that the time passes quickly for her, and that she can set to work rebuilding her life once she is released. Good luck, Abby!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

A Life Well-Lived

We're still in shock over the death of our beloved dog, Scooter, and our house is definitely not the same without him.

The strangest part has been the lack of things to do now that he's not here--my daily routine has changed so much, so quickly.  No more letting him out last thing before I go to bed, standing outside hoping my neighbors have already turned in for the night so they don't catch me out there in pajama pants and an old Brooklyn t-shirt. No more filling his water dish and adding kibble to his food bowl before I've even gotten my own coffee in the morning.  No more snuggles on the couch, romps in park, or frantic games of indoor fetch on a rainy day.

To keep myself occupied, I went around the house gathering up all of Scooter's old toys.  I couldn't bear to see them just sitting there, knowing he wouldn't ever be playing with them again, so I started to collect them for disposal--but first, I took the time to count them.

Oh boy.

The final tally: 81 plush toys, 14 rawhide chews in various states of destruction, 1/4 of what was once a smoked pig ear, 7 tennis balls, 3 frisbees, and 2 stolen catnip toys.  Not too shabby.

Scooter's life may have been short, but it was well-lived.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Saying Goodbye: R.I.P. Scooter

Today was an terribly sad day in our household: we said goodbye to our sweet dog, Scooter.

Our last photo of Scooter, just before we had to say goodbye

Everything happened so fast: he started to show signs of not feeling well about a week  and a half ago, with stiffness in his back legs and overall lethargy, although his appetite remained strong and his bodily functions were all normal.  As each day went by, he struggled to get around more, so we took him to the vet.

After a thorough physical exam, the vet suspected Lyme disease.  The initial blood test came back negative, so he sent us home with an anti-inflammatory and instructions to check in again soon.  The next day we dropped off a urine sample for additional testing--still negative for Lyme, but his stiffness seemed even worse, even with the meds.  The doctor prescribed pain meds and an antibiotic, and by Tuesday, he was like a totally different dog--lots more energy, walking more easily, feeling playful...we really thought he was on the mend.

That turned out to be the peak, unfortunately...things went downhill from there. His pain and stiffness returned, and by Friday night, it was clear he was uncomfortable and needed to go back for more tests. Today, we walked into the animal hospital, and as we checked him in, Scooter suddenly began coughing up blood.

The diagnosis: late-stage metastatic cancer, confirmed via x-ray.  His lungs were filling with blood, and although he was still managing to wag his tail in between coughing fits, once the coughing started up, it was clear that he was deteriorating very quickly.  We brought our daughters to the hospital, said our last goodbyes, and I stayed with Scooter while the vet administered medication to put him to sleep. It was the humane thing to do, and he did not suffer, but it was heartbreaking.

The veterinary staff was wonderful--so caring and compassionate every step of the way--which made things easier, but we are still reeling from this unexpected, devastating turn of events.

Rest in Peace, my sweet Scooter. We only had you in our lives for 8 1/2 short years, but you were adored every single second.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Dairy & Me: Together Forever

Thought for the day: I have come to the realization that, even if my life depended on it, I could not give up dairy. No one is asking me to, mind you, but if it ever did come to that, I would leave instructions to just lay me out in the casket clutching a gigantic wheel of cheese.  Ditch sugar? Sure, no problem.  Wine? Ugh, okay, I could do it.  But know this: I am taking cheese with me when I go.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

The First Easter -- A Rare Photo!

He is Risen!  Happy Easter!!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

An Inconvenient Truth: The Sequel

Can't wait to see the latest film by Al Gore.  The trailer looks amazing:

Sunday, March 12, 2017

April the giraffe is STILL in labor

I swear I'm ready to start a GoFundMe to get April the Giraffe an epidural and a C-section. I think Jennifer Aniston will give birth before this poor creature. Dear lord.

Friday, March 10, 2017

CCD Flashback

Flashback Friday: I just found some index cards with "thought provoking" questions I posed to my CCD students as they prepared for Confirmation in 2014. (Not sanctioned by the curriculum, of course. I liked to do my own thing.)

1) If God wanted to send you a message, which method would be most effective?
--Hearing His voice
--An angel appearing before you
--A vivid dream
-- Tongues of fire appearing above your head
-- A physical sign (stigmata, locusts, etc.)

2) People often talk about "the Power of Prayer." Why do you think prayer is powerful? Does it actually work?

3) If you could meet and chat for 15 minutes with ONE of the following people, which one would you choose and what would you talk about?
-- Noah
-- Moses
-- Judas

4) Could Jesus have saved Himself from being crucified?

5) Name one thing you like about being Catholic, and one thing you do not like.

6) Do you think Adam and Eve were equally to blame for getting kicked out of the Garden of Eden? Why or why not?

7) Which miracle do you think was the most impressive?
-- Walking on water
-- Turning water into wine
-- Curing the blind man
-- Feeding the crowds with loaves & fishes

Friday, February 24, 2017

Food review: Lay's Beer & Brats, Garden Tomato & Asiago, and Southwestern Queso potato chips

I just did a late-night grocery store run with my daughter, and couldn't resist picking up the 3 "pitch" flavors from Lay's. They're limited edition potato chip varieties, meant to generate interest in the Do Us A Flavor contest.

Well, it worked. Because goodness knows, I can't resist trying weird and unusual flavors and reviewing them for the blog.  So here goes:

Beer & Brats
I tried this one first because it sounded the most intriguing. They definitely have a smokey flavor and aroma, but the taste is very subtle, and there's certainly no discernible flavor notes of beer present. They weren't bad, but they weren't "to die for," and I don't think I'd buy these again. Still, it was fun to try them out, and they do get bonus points for being thin-style chips, which are my favorite.

Garden Tomato & Asiago
Ugh.  WHY?

First of all, they're "kettle cooked", which is heinous. I don't like chips that are small and loud and too crunchy, which is an apt description of the kettle cooked variety. Still, I tried to give these a chance, but they were just....not...good.  

Yes, there were subtle flavors of tomato and cheese present, but overall, it tasted more like pizza chips than potato chips--and definitely not in a good way.  I think the real problem here is that the kind of person who enjoys the flavor of fresh garden tomatoes and fresh-shaved asiago cheese would much prefer to have it as a salad, not in a fat-laden chip form. So who is the target audience for this chip?  When you figure it out, let me know. In the meantime, these are a "No, never again" for me.

Southwestern Queso
I inadvertantly saved the best for last.  Wow, these were SO good. They're the traditional thin-chip variety, but laden with lots of cheese flavoring--the chips actually look orange because of all the cheese.

Yes, that's a good thing.

They also have a pleasant saltiness that makes them addictive, and a spicy kick at the end which packs a lot of flavor into each chip.  I would definitely buy these again--the best way to describe them is: Cheetos in potato chip form, with attitude.  Definitely the best of the bunch.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Giraffe cam removed from YouTube

File under "This is why we can't have nice things": the Live video feed of the giraffe in labor was removed from YouTube this morning because animal rights extremists allegedly reported it for "sexually explicit content and nudity" and demanded it be taken down. Do they even make those hideous hospital gowns in giraffe sizes?

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Selfless Mom

Wow.  To heck with current events and politics and the hateful things going on. This selfless woman restores my faith in all that is good and pure and kind in this world.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

RECIPE:Jalapeño Poppers

I always thought my children would be my greatest legacy, but these Jalapeño Popper Pillows I created for Cathy's Pre-Prom snacks are making me second guess myself. 

Super easy to make: just combine a container of Philadelphia brand Jalapeño cream cheese with half a cup of shredded Kraft Four Cheese Mexican Cheese and 2 Tablespoons of Ortega Taco sauce.   Put a small dollop (about the size of a nickel) in the center of a wonton wrapper.  Wet all around the edges of the wrapper with water, then fold one corner over diagonally to form a triangle.  Fold the points of the triangle in towards the center, brushing the tips with water to seal them down.

Spray with non-stick cooking spray and bake in at 350 degrees Farenheit until golden brown.  Serve with extra taco sauce on the side.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

NYC Snowstorm

Since everyone in my house was given a snow day--no school, no work, just a quiet day at home--I'm watching the "team coverage" on my local TV station.  Right now, this intrepid reporter is scolding Sydney, a man shoveling snow, because he's wearing such a thin jacket while out in the bitter cold. 

Sydney immediately stops what he's doing, and gives her a rundown of all the layers he has on, lifting his jacket and pulling down the waistband of his pants so that she can see his "t-shirts, leggings, extra underwear, you name it" for herself, while the wind-driven snow pelts them both.  As he speaks, she picks up the shovel while juggling her microphone and starts helping him clear the sidewalk.

My god, I love New Yorkers. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Snowstorm approaching! You know what that means....

That moment when you really DO need bread, milk and eggs...and there's a snowstorm coming. 

Maybe I'll just go gluten free and vegan until it's over?  

Friday, February 3, 2017

Mother-in-law Wisdom

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to this lovely lady, my favorite mother-in-law, Mary. Kind, generous, and always looking out for her family's well-being. 

In honor of this special occasion, allow me to share some of the wit and wisdom that we've been so blessed with over the years:

* Put your socks on, or you're gonna get sick.

* Most any ailment can be cured through prayer and running up and down the steps a few times a day.

* If the above doesn't work, put a little spit on it.

* Any tests the doctor performs other than taking your blood pressure and checking the back of your throat with a tongue depressor is a racket. You probably have good insurance. Don't fall for it.

* Fun fact: most fire trucks racing by with their lights and sirens on are actually on their way to the grocery store. They just don't like stopping for all of those lights.

* When unwrapping a gift, SAVE THE PAPER to re-use. If you choose not to, you must be doing very well for yourself.

* Fun food fact: If you wipe off potato chips with a paper towel before you eat them, it removes ALL of the cholesterol your doctor told you to avoid.

* When you're smart, you're smart, and when you're stupid, you're stupid.

* There is absolutely no need to cook a big holiday meal. Just order pizza.

* If you do cook a big holiday meal, you're crazy, because everyone would be just as happy with McDonald's. (Say this immediately after your plate of exquisite food is put in front of you.)

* Whenever a flashing pop-up warning suddenly comes up on your computer that tells you to click this important link right away, just go ahead and click it. Yes, you know it could be a virus. But click it anyway. See what happens.

* When your computer stops working, just call your son. Tell him the whole story, repeating the important pop-up message that insisted you click the link. When he reminds you that you should NEVER click on pop-up windows, tell him, "Well I did it already." Keep repeating the message that appeared in the pop-up window until he agrees it wasn't a bad idea to click it.

* Always stock up on Entenmann's pound cake, because you never know when your son might be stopping by to fix your computer.

* When you see your granddaughters, notice out loud how nice their asses look in those jeans.
* Always ask them if they have a boyfriend.

* If they say No, assure them that with an ass like that, it shouldn't take long before they do have one.

* Babies sleep best face down, on their stomachs, with a bottle of milk. Once they reach 10lbs, put cereal in the bottle, too. Don't listen to what your doctor says--the baby is hungry.*

* When you take the baby for a walk, always face the carriage towards the sun. It makes them shut their eyes and take a nap. You're welcome.*

* When shopping in a high-end clothing store, be sure to stop at each rack and feel the material between your fingers. You need to see if it's good quality or that cheap stuff from overseas that they mark up.

* Put an ice cube in your red wine, even if it's a special Barolo your son-in-law has been saving for a special occasion. It lasts longer.

* Yes, you CAN get two uses out of those little K-cups . They just don't want you to know that.
* Don't like getting older? Wait, it gets worse.

Happy Birthday to a true original. We love you!

*No, I didn't take this advice when I was raising my girls...and you shouldn't either!

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Proof that Age is Relative

Earlier this evening, I wished a friend's 16-year-old son a Happy Birthday, and as I tried to hark back to myself at that stage, I suddenly realized that I am already more than three times his age.

I was feeling really old, until President Trump announced his nominee for the Supreme Court: Neil Gorsuch, who also happens to be 49. Now, everyone is saying how long-lasting his legacy on the bench could be if he's confirmed, because he's "so young."

And just like that, I'm back to buying green bananas again.

Friday, January 20, 2017

The Art of the Promposal

My youngest daughter has her Junior Prom coming up, and tonight, a friend surprised her with a "promposal", asking her to go as his date.

This is something new for us. Although I've certainly heard of "promposals"--creative, sometimes elaborate ways of asking someone to attend the prom, usually involving posterboard and a cheesy poem spelled out with candy wrappers--we'd never actually experienced one first-hand.  My older two daughters went to a high school that was girls-only, so the negotiation process for prom dates was handled almost exclusively by the girls themselves, usually during lunch period in the cafeteria. ("Hey, you can take my brother if I can take your cousin. And my brother's friend is available but then he needs someone to go to his prom two weeks later. Sounds good. Done deal. Who wants ice cream?")

Not so for my youngest, who attends a co-ed public school.  The boy who asked her is "just a friend," but seeing as he had a custom banner made for the occasion and threw in two dozen roses for good measure, I'd say at this point that he's elevated his status to a "good friend." We'll have to stay tuned on that one.

In the meantime, my daughter was very pleased by his thoughtfulness, and although there were other things going on in the world today that got far more airplay, this was certainly the highlight of OUR day.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

An Early Start Today

It's 6:15am and two out of my 3 daughters are already up, dressed, and out of the house en route to their jobs, with the third about to get up for school any minute.  I'm pretty sure I haven't seen all 3 of them awake and fully-conscious this early in the morning since sometime in 2001.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Let Snoring Dogs Lie

Does anyone know if the company that makes those "breathing strips" that you put on your nose to help combat snoring makes one that you can use on dogs?

Asking for a friend. 

Friday, January 6, 2017

Get Your Elected Representatives' Phone Numbers Via Text

The folks over at the blog Blue Jersey shared some great info that merits passing along: if you'd like to get in touch with your local elected representatives, but you're not sure how to reach them, just text your zip code to 520-200-2223 and you will automatically receive the phone numbers for your U.S. Congressional representatives and State legislators texted right back.

Monday, January 2, 2017

An actual headline from today's news in New Jersey

We're less than 48 hours into the New Year, and already, I'm sensing it's going to be a doozy.

Call it a hunch.

Sunday, January 1, 2017