There are no words to adequately describe the mini jolt of terror that comes from having a small white creature unexpectedly streak out at you with wanton abandon from the depths of a pitch black room as you innocently walk through, having just paused the horror movie marathon you’ve been watching precariously perched from the edge of your seat, and with bated breath mind you, in order to go and get a drink, believing that said adorable, yet stealthy, white creature is asleep on the bed where she belongs and not ensconced in her blanket on the floor in a corner of the aforementioned pitch black room.
Where is my breakfast, human!?
I’m sure as many of you have heard, there was a mass shooting in Munich, Germany earlier today. Because of my job, I spend some time online each day perusing the news and that was one story I did not need coming across my feed. Well, quite frankly, all of the stories that I find myself reading on a daily basis could just as well disappear into the journalistic ether if I was being completely honest.
This one in particular struck close to home because I have extended family and friends in Germany and one in particular who was likely in Munich at the time. I’m relieved to say that everyone I know is safe. Sadly, not everyone can say the same, and my heart breaks for the people who lost loved ones and friends.
I know my friends are safe a half a world away because of a simple (well, not so simple, as I have no doubt whatsoever that the coding to create it was amazingly intricate) Facebook App called “Safety Check.” This genuinely useful application is activated in times of disaster, whether natural or man-made, and allows the Facebook user to “check-in” so his or her friends and family can rest easy and have some peace of mind, knowing they are safe.
While the app was originally created for use during earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, and such when cell service likely wouldn’t be available due to downed towers, or when landlines might be rendered useless, (in fact, its development started after the Nepal earthquake), it has evolved into a much-needed and used service when mass shootings or terrorist attacks occur and cell towers are simply overloaded with people tracking down their loved ones.
And while I am so very grateful for the absolutely brilliant minds behind the creation of this genius app, and I’m glad it exists — for purely selfish reasons as well as on behalf of the millions (if not billions) of other people who surely benefit from its use — I wish, oh how I wish, it weren’t needed quite so much.
Today I want to talk about something near and dear to my heart. Food. Not just any food. Dessert. Sweet snacks. Sugary goodness. My absolute favorite part of the meal. Sometimes I eat dessert first. Sometimes I eat only dessert. I will actually go out just to get dessert or a sweet snack. It depends on if I have found the ideal restaurant that has what I consider a decent dessert. I have yet to find a place with the perfect dessert menu or a pastry chef with extraordinary talents. So for now, I settle for decent or satisfactory. And that is good enough. In case you didn’t know, I take my desserts seriously.
The Dutch gave us a Stroopwafel which is literally a syrup waffle. I know, right!? Yum! The French gave the world a Tarte Tatin, an amazing apple tart. With only four ingredients, it’s a hell of a lot easier to make than apple pie and is much yummier in my opinion. Ireland came up with Irish Whiskey Cake – I mean, really, how can you go wrong there? Do you know what they have in Sweden? Waffle day! Yes, it’s on the 25th of March, which is known as Våffeldagen. I bet if Leslie Knope ever had to live somewhere other than Pawnee, she’d move to Sweden. I certainly wouldn’t mind living in Sweden just to experience Waffle Day. But I digress. The Swedes came up with a snack called a Semla Bun which is a bun made out of wheat that’s flavored with cardamom and stuffed full of whipped cream (the real deal, none of that fake out of a plastic tub stuff) and almond paste. Don’t even get me started on Belgium. Their myriad of chocolates alone is amazing. Italy created Marzipan, an absolutely decadent confection consisting primarily of sugar or honey and almond meal which can be sculpted into pretty much anything, although it’s often seen as fruit – and tastes delicious by the way. It doubles as cake decorations, so it’s not just lovely, it’s the hard-working multi-tasker of the dessert kingdom.
And what do we have in America as our claim to fame for sweets? Carnival food. Deep fried Oreos and Cheesecake on a stick. Crispy Crème hamburgers. I saw one of those travel shows with a guy who visits diners and restaurants across the country and in one place they were battering and deep-frying Cadbury Creme Eggs. As if the world needs that. Did you know that there actually exists in this country as a snack deep-fried butter? Now I ask you – is such a thing really necessary? No, don’t answer that. I’m afraid to hear your answer.
I love sweets with the best of them, couldn’t give up my beloved confections on a bet nor would I want to. But I just can’t seem to work up an appetite for some of the choices I’m all too often being offered. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a dessert snob, I’m truly not. But come on people, we can do better!
Now, I’m not going to debate the obesity issues we have here in the States but what I will argue is the sheer lack of creativity in all of this sugary mess. I went to a Friendly’s restaurant many weeks ago with my daughter, and for those of you who may not be familiar, these restaurants are known for their family friendly atmosphere as well as their ice cream. Upon entry, we immediately ran into a sign (well, not literally mind you, we weren’t hurt or anything, it was just there so you couldn’t miss it) that advertised their special desserts for the summer. And one of the specials was Pop Tart ice cream sandwiches. It was a special dessert. Special. Dessert.
Now we’re not talking a fancy-shmancy restaurant here, I get it, I do, but still. Are we that out of ideas for desserts and sweet snacks that we have to not only recycle the idea of ice cream sandwiches but also the idea behind Pop Tarts?? I see a similar phenomenon occurring in other, more upscale places as well. There’s simply no creativity anymore. Everything is deep-fried or else it’s Crème Brule.
Does no one take dessert seriously anymore? Or once they graduate culinary school, do the talented pastry chefs quickly skedaddle off to Europe where they might find themselves whipping up something more interesting than Cheesecake on a stick? If so, I wouldn’t blame them in the least.
Or perhaps…maybe…just maybe…is it possible these masters of pastries and sugary goodies are hiding out there somewhere and I just haven’t found them yet? And if so, can someone please, please tell me where, and slip me the password so I can get in?
I love those kitschy little stores where you can just sort of wander up and down the aisles and find entertaining items that don’t really fit in a store that has a set theme. I just recently found myself in one of those “anything and everything” boutiques that’s in a small town close to where I live. It’s sorta kinda a pharmacy, but also sorta kinda a general store. Long story short you shouldn’t be surprised if you saw someone walking out of there with their cholesterol medication, a plunger, a jack-in-the-box, and a new copy of whatever self-help book is on top of the New York Times bestseller list. It’s a weird little store. In fact, I’ve mentioned it before. It’s the place that had the Selfie Album I told you all about a while back.
They have a ton of unique, quirky gifts for newlyweds and a bunch of hilarious greeting cards I read. I am not ashamed to admit that I spent an inordinate amount of time alone in the card aisle laughing like a loon because the cards were so damn funny.
They also had these gag candles and soaps which were a hoot. At least I’m assuming they were gag items. Perhaps I was taking things deeper than they needed to be, but these soaps and candles got me thinking about who I am. The Morning Person soap really hit home, I must say. The soap was great but I would really, really love to have that scent put in a spray bottle. That way I can spritz it on those annoying happy-go-lucky, perky people who seem to be completely put together the moment they jump out of bed at 6:00 a.m. Either they would become suddenly less annoying or disappear altogether and reappear somewhere else far away from me. If I’m awake at six in the morning you better put an incredibly strong cup of coffee between me and anyone I meet or else, it’s going to be bad news. Morning Person I am not. But hey, maybe I can melt down this handy-dandy soap, add warm water — douse the offending Morning Person and poof! Problem solved!
Actually from the time when they were still quite young, my go-to phrase would be “Do you need an ambulance? Do we need to go to the hospital?” And if the answer was (or is) no, well then, we’d just get on with the rest of our day. Oh you may think I have a lackadaisical approach to parenting, but I don’t really. I love my children more than life itself and would do anything for them. It’s just…well…I know my children you see. While my kids are seven years apart in age, they are still, in many ways, very much like my brother and me growing up, thanks in large part to my mother’s well-timed curse. And I’m determined to get out of this parenting gig alive – preferably with my sanity intact (what’s left of it anyway).
So I got all new tires a month or so ago. Mine were old and the last time I had a flat fixed, which really wasn’t all that long ago, the tech told me the treads were “getting a little bare” so I should maybe consider thinking about new tires at some point…so I knew it had to be done. I’d been waiting for my tax refund to afford them — so with that and a little help from the tire fairy, I was set.
When I was finally able to take my car in (different place than where the flat was fixed), the very nice mechanic who looked over my car to check it in kindly informed me that up until that point, in his humble opinion, I’d likely been getting by on angels’ wings and a prayer. Upon closer inspection of my tires, I’d say he was probably right.
I’m just now getting over all the “what if’s” that immediately popped into my head and am able to breathe normally again. Whew. Wing and a prayer indeed.
I’m curious though. If this was “getting a little bare” to the other repair shop…just what the hell is “you need new tires now” in their viewpoint? When you’re dangling in your seat belt upside down off the overpass because of a blow-out at 65 mph?