Thank You Tucker Provisions

The teenager wanted to get out of the house yesterday and I knew as a responsible adult we needed some fresh produce.

With the Coronavirus still keeping our state on lockdown, I’ve been trying to explore as many small local businesses as I can that are adapting to the situation.

I’ve never been to Tucker, an Australian Cafe at the Simon Silk Mill in Easton. They hosted an amazingly successful benefit to raise money to fight the Australian brush fires.

So they already have my admiration.

The only friend I know who ate there was not impressed— she felt rushed and a tad snubbed by their waitress.

But I’ve been intrigued by their recent business model… They’ve adapted by becoming “Tucker Provisions” and it’s like a drive up general store.

Tucker web site

They feature a a variety of other local and regional farmers, vendors, and small businesses. The apples in the picture are from Bethlehem’s Scholl Orchard. The golden raisins are super plump and juicy, so good.

And I am so looking forward to trying the potatoes, zucchini, Brussel sprouts, rhubarb and broccoli.

I even splurged on some Mexican soda.

While we were out, the teenager spotted these:

She loves rocks.

“Mom,” she says as the car is stopped. “There are some really nice rocks over there.”

“Go get them,” I tell her.

Maybe she’ll be a geology major.

For supper last night I decided I wanted homemade cream of broccoli soup. We have some heavy whipping cream in the fridge that’s past its date, more than a week past, and I hate to waste.

And Tucker had broccoli.

I based my soup on this recipe

Now I never follow a recipe, never exactly. Either I never have all the ingredients or I just don’t want to. This was a little of both. While I prepped the soup, I roasted some of the Brussels and our last radishes and the smallest of our fingerling potatoes.

I made mini bread bowls out of the heavily discounted fresh baked but day old dinner rolls I bought at Weis last weekend and tossed in the fridge. I even toasted the removed guts of the bread bowl to make croutons on top.

Good stuff. Looking forward to enjoying it for lunch if the rain keeps up.

Photography and musings on the visual arts

I admire artists. I have several friends who have the visual arts among their gifts, as does the teenager’s dad and his family. They have « the music » too. Well, the teenager’s dad has a pretty good ear for music, but he doesn’t make any. But visual arts is a language he speaks. And he almost went to Pratt Art Institute instead of Moravian College.

Me, I have always loved all of the arts but I have an absolute tin ear for music—it’s just an alien language I cannot speak or hear as those who are fluent do—and I struggle with visual arts.

I practiced for years to learn the basics of fashion drawing and every time I stop doing it I have to get out the books and magazines and teach myself all over again.

I commissioned a fashion illustration from Renie Hanna that still hangs in my living room.

Original commission by Renie Hanna

I love the Impressionists— Berthe Morisot is my favorite and my favorite museum is the Musée D’Orsay in Paris.

My friend Rachel has given us watercolor paintings, which I hang with pride. We need new glass for one, the strange one, which is slated for a new home in the living room.

And the only painting I ever saw that I HAD to have was one by Heather Pasqualino Weirich— and it has hung in my “entry hall” for about a decade and still mesmerizes me with it’s vibrancy and simplicity.

Heather Pasqualino Fine Art

Interestingly, the two paintings in my bedroom were done by me and my step mom in those “any idiot can paint” classes. I love them, but I know they are relatively crude and awful.

How anyone can pull a picture out of their head and see the details to replicate on paper is a great mystery to me.

That is why I love photography. It captures moments that are happening. It freezes time. There are two great tricks to photography: 1. To take a lot of photos so you don’t miss anything and 2. To sense when a real moment is about to happen and not miss it.

My daughter’s latest iPhone has a camera way better than my iPhoneX and it has given her a chance to explore photography. Perhaps when she rouses from her bed on this rainy Sunday, I can convince her to pick a series of her favorites and host a show here on my blog.

But she took these photos of me yesterday, and I want to share them with you because they capture so much… We went to pick up her dress at The Attic clothes in Bethlehem. They are hosting online sales via Instagram and Facebook.

She asked to surprise her grandparents (her father’s parents) who live a few blocks away.

I said sure.

Now, my husband and I have lived apart for 10 months. We haven’t started divorce proceedings yet probably because it’s a new process and neither one of us likes to do new things that make us uncomfortable. There’s a whole lot of practical things that don’t impede our daily lives that we need to untangle. And we just haven’t.

So I always feel a little awkward showing up at his parents’ house. Especially unannounced as I have no reason to be there.

But I had a lovely conversation with my father-in-law and my mother-in-law fed us the leftovers her husband didn’t want to eat and she told the teenager stories.

Cabbage and noodles with the teen

And we compared the teenager to her paternal great grandfather who died before she was born. Pappy Buss was a farmer, a master carpenter who did some work for Martin Guitar, a pure-hearted Christian man who embodied everything a good person should be, and a mischievous prankster.

His first language was Pennsylvania Dutch and he played trumpet, unless I have my facts wrong.

But every since the day my daughter was born, I felt she had a piece of Pappy in her. And it gets stronger as she ages. Of course, she doesn’t have Pappy’s quiet demeanor.

So, here are the photos the teenager took of me at her grandmother’s kitchen table, eating angel food cake.

We have a jumper! (This post jumps around)

I’ve been allowing myself to sleep in a bit and these days I’m waking up between 6:15 and 6:30. I lay in bed sometimes until almost 7, but I’m always dressed, with pants and everything, and at my desk with a hot cup of coffee by 8:30.

I’ve enjoyed sharing an office with my birds— three budgies and a Goffin’s cockatoo—all of whom must be enjoying the electronic swing I listen to at my desk and the bird playground I have assembled for them.

Yes, that’s the teenager’s kitten who refused to get out of the cockatoo’s cage.

Now, when Nala the cockatoo destroys toys I save the salvageable pieces and put them in these spare dishes and she plays with them and throws them at the cats.

I think I have some new toys coming for the parakeets, and I also need to order them more ladders and perches because they have suddenly destroyed everything in their cage.

Work passed easily, I feel like I was quite organized and productive. And I’m off tomorrow. I took an unplanned paid time off to take care of some health issues. So it will be part trip to the pharmacy, part virtual doctor visit and part mental health day.

There’s a contact we have at work at a local company that is the point person for a rather large food drive that benefits our agency. Because of the state lockdown, they can’t host this food drive so the employees contributed cash instead, but she didn’t want to mail it and our offices are closed.

So the teenager and I took a road trip. It’s strange when a 25-mile round trip to the next town and back feels like a major outing. I donned my mask, put on my gloves and we exchanged an envelope of cash in the parking lot.

That might be the closest I will ever come to feeling like a drug dealer. Nope, scratch that. I’ve driven around with a trunk full of Girl Scout cookies.

My teenager and I have the best conversations while in the car. We talked a lot about financial responsibility and budgeting and how important it will be for her to determine her own style of fiscal management. She admires my discipline, chicanery and creativity with making my money work for me.

I taught her about different ways to trick yourself into putting money into savings. The first of course is to set up automatic transfers. Another is to have a portion of your paycheck direct deposited into savings.

The easiest is to always, as soon as you take a new job, decide on a number of how much goes into retirement if your job offers a retirement plan. That way before you even see how much your take home pay is, the money goes into your future.

And if your job doesn’t have retirement options, go to your bank and contribute to an IRA. Every year. Because money saved when you are young goes far.

That motivated me to go ahead and take the plunge and use that last $1,000 of my stimulus check that I had put into savings and use it to prepay for 400 gallons of fuel oil for next winter’s heat at $2.199.

That was painful. But at least it’s over. Next I need to contact the dentist about the $859 bill they sent me for my crown. My insurance company didn’t cover anything but $17. I’m annoyed because the dentist thought they’d pay 50%, the tooth still isn’t right AND the bill they sent didn’t include the credit for the $394 I already paid.

But paying for the fuel oil was enough adulting for today.

The teenager made an amazing steak dinner.

And Nala loves onion rings.

The teenager discovered, because I sent her an Instagram post, that The Attic thrift store has an online sale and bid on a red dress. That she won.

I love the ingenuity our local small businesses are showing. I hope it continues after the lockdown ends.

Go follow AtticClothes

Last but certainly not least, I tried this Cascara tea which is supposedly full of antioxidants and it tasted really good.

Hatched at 7 a.m.: a new office and soothing a depressed cat

Everything I have every read about emotional health has very stringent ideas about the bedroom— it is for sleeping and intimacy. No work, no screens, etc.

But this morning at 7 a.m., I decided to try and carve a home office space in my bedroom.

In part, because our 9-year-old cat, Oz, either has urinary crystals again and doesn’t feel well or he’s depressed that we’re all home but never paying attention to him. And he’s jealous of the kittens.

Oz sitting on Misty to steal attention from the teenager

The weather has been 50 degrees and windy, so my brick house is retaining winter cold which makes the dining room table a frigid workspace.

In the beginning, I worked at the dining room table, we ate at the kitchen table and things seemed fine.

But now, the teen took a desk and kitchen chair to her room to do schoolwork and so I’d like to have the dining room table clear to eat.

My room is my sanctuary. Home of the birds. Promised land for the cats. Bright. Sunny. Warm.

I’m going to try it.

Oz is the cat in the first and last photo. Opie is the big cat in the middle. Misty is the kitten. They are all— Fog, too, but she’s unpictured— over me. Let’s hope it’s the newness because otherwise I may have to throw some of them out and close the door.

Update: 8:30 a.m., starting work:

The Uplifting Side of Pandemic Days

There is just something about life in these pandemic times that I find uplifting.

Maybe the sense of nowhere to go or a certain carefreeness that reminds me of being on summer vacation as a teen.

Our grocery trips focus on the present more than ever. I normally only grocery shop once every two weeks but find that now I’m going once a week, buying less and rotating stores.

Today I went to a local small independent grocer, Park Avenue Market, where they are known for their amazing sandwiches and in store meats.

I treated the teenager to her first taste of olive loaf from the deli, slab bacon and their own feta spinach sausage patties. I also bought some stew beef and a small steak.

I discovered, in the middle of the store, with my order and my blind friend’s order, that I did not have my wallet. I found myself staring straight at a local cop and wondering where my wallet at fallen out of the back pocket of my jeans.

I told the teen to keep shopping and went home to look for it— it had fallen out of my pocket when I used the toilet before beginning our journey.

After the market, I took Nan her items and took the teen home before heading to Weis. There I got bananas, muffins, some discounted chicken and frozen vegetables. Half off fresh bakery products that weren’t so fresh any more. Milk, eggs, half and half and two six packs— one of Yuengling and one of a raspberry ale with a name I don’t recall.

We got some other items between the two trips: broccoli and cheese whipped into something akin to mashed potatoes, bread, mini shoo fly pies, A-Treat soda and lord knows what else.

Because suddenly life is shorter and the carbohydrates and sweets provide a taste of celebration.

I ate a vat of spaghetti squash when I arrived home and helped my daughter design a marching band show for her music assignment. Her dream has long been to play Cake’s Short Skirt Long Jacket in band. So she was ecstatic when the web sure her teacher posted had the music.

It was hard to unify songs since we didn’t have enough Cake songs to do a Cake theme. She found a lot of Green Day and thought maybe she should do all Green Day. But I couldn’t let her dream die.

She found the theme from Die Another Day— which I believe is Madonna performing in the James Bond film. I didn’t think mixing a movie theme and alternative would work. And her band director has done a Bond show.

Finally I researched early 2000s alternative rock in a Google search and we decided on Nickelback. Green Day’s Basket Case for the Opener, followed by the Cake song, closed by some Nickelback song that I’ve forgotten already.

So the theme would be alternative rock from the era in which these musicians were born.

And here’s Nala, my Goffin’s cockatoo, rocking out to Green Day.

Nala rocking to Green Day

Are all cockatoos ridiculous?

I added a 4-year-old Goffin’s Cockatoo to my menagerie in January with little real bird experience in my past.

My stepmom had a full-sized cockatoo when I was a teenager so I know they can be moody, noisy and demanding pets.

And then Nala took a liking to me.

I don’t know why. But it was clear from the get-go that she wanted me.

The day we met

I think Nala recognized what a soft-hearted sucker I am.

So having a cockatoo like this little lady is like having an agressive toddler with the sophisticated yet immature brain of a teenager. Nala is having a mini-tantrum right now because I’m not paying attention to her yet she refuses to step up.

But what I wanted to mention today, is I noticed an amusing behavior. She has a nice bowl of pellet and seeds in her cage. I check it and clean it every day.

On days when I am too slow to feed her, and she is hungry, or if she’s picked out all of her favorites from the bowl, she peels up the newspaper from the bottom of her cage and uses her toes and beak to forage from the bottom of the cage for things she discarded earlier.

One day she even found a peanut.

The found t-shirt

In the fall, I bought myself a new very warm coat and cashmere lined gloves from Land’s End. I was very excited about it, and in the enthusiasm of potentially being warm this winter, the t-shirt I ordered was forgotten.

It was a simple white t-shirt, but not fitted the way I like them, so I suppose that’s how it got relegated to the back of the closet.

Today I found it.

It’s a tad wrinkled, but it’s gleaming, crisp and white. In this Coronavirus pandemic, it’s suddenly exciting to have something new in my life.

So amid the decisions of today—Can I start wash and hang it outside it is my work day too busy and my boss might get upset if I step away from my computer for ten minutes? Do I use my lunch break to take the teenager to the hardware store? Should we visit two grocery stores this weekend or is that too irresponsible?—I feel new and put together.

New white T

Lessons from the Coronavirus Pandemic: Controlling who gets in

I finally was able to put into words today what I’ve been thinking since the shutdown started.

There has been a lot of discussion among friends, family and electronic connections about the introverted and extroverted responses to social isolation.

The introverts love it.

The extroverts might need strait jackets soon.

Compared to the teenager’s father—with whom I lived with for 20 years and neither one of us has filed for divorce yet despite living apart for the last nine months—I am not an introvert, but I do have empathic qualities so I need to be careful how I spend my time.

I wonder if my anxieties in life come from the energy I absorb from the world and people around me, and if that is why I spend time in balanced chunks of “alone in my room” vs. “with family and friends” vs. “with the outside world at large.”

I know that’s why I struggled with my job in retail.

But today, when walking with a neighbor after a day that challenged me, I realized why this pandemic has preserved my sanity.

I suddenly have control over who I let into my space. Complete control. Sure, work meetings over the phone can still be stressful but there is a physical distance that makes me feel safe.

I can’t go out arbitrarily. Or I shouldn’t. I have to plan my outings and chose where and when I go.

I control who I reach out to and who I let into my life. I certainly control who comes into my home.

Maybe I should practice some of these techniques after Covid-19 passes and protect my emotional space.

Easter Sunday Pandemic Stream of Consciousness

I started today with the debate of whether to blog about Nala, my Goffin’s cockatoo, or my thoughts on what makes a good day or a good weekend, something the teenager seemed insistent upon us having.

But the cats started climbing the parakeet cage, I made the “mistake” of reviewing some news coverage of Donald Trump’s handling of the Coronavirus pandemic, and frankly, I’ve lost my train of thought more times than I can count.

So while I’m still lost in a sea of randomness, watching Mistofelees (my daughter’s formerly feral/stray kitten) decide how to get off the budgie cage without crossing Nala’s path, let me also say I used the hydrating hair mask from last month’s Ipsy Glam bag and my dry curly hair is remarkably not puffy today.

The first time I tried it, I didn’t see any results. This time was very different.

(For more on my Ipsy experiences, see here: Review of my Ipsy April 2020 Glam Bag)

It’s Easter Sunday, but the teenager opened her basket on Good Friday (I’m suddenly realizing how disrespectful that was of traditional Christian culture). Oops.

To see our silliness on that, I have YouTube videos:

Mom prepares the Easter Box

Teen opens her Easter box

I washed her new sheets and hung them on the line yesterday. I helped her make her bed and I hope she had a lovely night of sleep on them. She picked the most colorful ones first.

In the next order of randomness, I think I’m going to make a Buffalo chicken spaghetti squash casserole for Easter dinner.

Now, shall I even expound on my thoughts on the Coronavirus situation. Perhaps briefly.

  • I think the isolation vs. develop herd immunity arguments both have merit. It’s hard for anyone to know what is “right” in any major situation. What makes a good leader is the depth of response, the logic behind it and how organized the implementation is.
  • Those who have resources and power will always sacrifice those who have less to maintain their resources and power. It is true of most humanity. Even those will less. Look at the hoopla over toilet paper.
  • I think this change in how we live and work could have some broad implications. I would like to see, in my Pollyanna nirvana, a world where we all slow down, shop less, and spend more time with our loved ones. But in reality, I think we will see shifts in service delivery (perhaps huge changes in public education), reductions in consumer goods available/continued shortages, and more poverty.
  • Our civil liberties have changed since 9/11/2001 and they will continue to decrease. The notion of privacy is almost completely dead if not buried. I remember when science fiction warned us we would all be microchipped and have our physical money taken away. Now, the core of our lives are tracked, spied on and connected to a mini-supercomputer we carry with us everywhere we go. We call it a smart phone.
  • Technology companies are developing identifiers for each of us via our phones to track who may have been exposed to Covid-19 and alert those they with whom they came in contact. This technology will no doubt track us all in other ways in the future but I’m not against it. Because, see previous bullet, in today’s world there is no real privacy boundaries left.

So let’s enjoy this sunny Easter and celebrate life and spring.

With the pandemic looming, and people still struggling in the every day ways, you have to rejoice one moment at a time.

Review of my Ipsy April 2020 Glam Bag

My April 2020 Glam Bag came yesterday and the teenager and I did an unboxing video (that features more kittens than make up) here:

April 2020 Glam Bag by Ipsy unboxing

For those of you who don’t know, Ipsy offers a mail order cosmetic subscription “box” that, in the small “Glam bag” size offers a custom make up bag and five items, one of which is usually full size and the others are samples. It costs about $12/month. And they offer add-ons.

I treated myself to a mascara this month.

This service is perfect for me as I have a bit of fear and inexperience around make up. I want to try more, but don’t have money to invest in products I will probably not be ballsy enough to use.

So this allows me a chance to explore.

This is literally all the make up I own before Ipsy. (I love blue mascara. Would love forest and/or emerald green but haven’t found it.)

My go-to eyeshadow is gold, with a touch of red on the outside. I call it my “Monet sunrise” look.

This was last month’s Ipsy bag.

See related posts here: Lighthearted Ipsy Review of the March 2020 Glam Bag

My first Ipsy Glam Bag—pre-unboxing

So now to check out the April products:

  • Buxom mascara, black, $3 add-on, 3 ml
  • Seraphine botanicals 100% vegan lip gel, berry + juice, 6 ml
  • Aromatica Calendula Juicy Cream, vegan formula, sample size, maybe 15 ml
  • Oryza Beauty Nude Shimmer & Contour eye shadow palette, vegan
  • Estate Dew Me Lit baked highlight powder
  • Araceli Grande Blending Brush

Let’s start with the Aromatica lotion. Now, if you saw my video, you’ll know I tried it as soon as I got it. I didn’t notice anything remarkable about it at the time, but today I’m going to try again.

Smell appears neutral. That is good for me as my skin and my senses can’t handle heavy scents.

Applied quickly and smoothly.

But let’s compare to last month’s Hey Honey lotion.

The honey smell is intoxicating. The lotion this month by Aromatica is thicker and offers more coverage. So I think I like them both. But would use the Aromatica for hands and maybe Hey Honey on the face as it claims to be a calming lotion.

I put a layer of the Hey Honey lotion on my face, and I might have rubbed it in roughly as now my cheekbones hurt. I’m going to put on some of last month’s Tarte Quench hydrating primer. I love this hydrating primer but it’s my first experience with any primer so don’t take my word as gospel.

Now, the Seraphine lip gel smells amazing. (Why do I keep commenting on smells?) It’s smells like berry in that candy-that-is-berry-flavored way.

Here I am wearing the lip gel, with my old glasses, badly in need of a haircut and my Goth troll t-shirt.

Estate Highlighter Powder. No idea how to use this product. Watched some videos on YouTube. Applied some to my right cheekbone. Not seeing it. Okay, well, let’s keep going and see if I can notice it in different light. Maybe I’m too pale. I bet the teenager would look good in this.

Now the eye shadow palette. So excited as these are glittery neutral shades like the ones I favor.

I love every one of these colors on my face. And the Buxom mascara is a very long brush with shorter bristles that goes on very even. And looks natural (but in an enhanced way).

Very pleased.

I think these are some very practical products with some fun and sass thrown in.