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.