Does the pandemic have a fun side?

Sometimes I am reminded of my age— when I think of those summers of my girlhood circa the 1980s, when Pennsylvania experienced temperatures that averaged in the high seventies/low eighties and for about 2 weeks every August a heat wave of around 85 degrees.

It also snowed a lot more, and I can’t say I miss that.

Now I won’t be naive enough to suggest this pandemic has been fun. Some people have gotten seriously ill, others have died. Luckily in my circle, those who contracted Covid-19 survived and none ended up in the hospital.

But as I said in the beginning of the pandemic, the Coronavirus has forced us to look at our health system, our purchasing habits, our supply chains, what we need and what we don’t. I have found a more relaxed pace of life, and while I have lost my job, I have found some inner truths that bring me hope. Perhaps that is where my naïveté lies.

Yesterday, I had a business meeting with my first client as a partner in Thrive Public Relations. Thrive is the brainchild of a friend— who has been searching for someone with media, print and editorial experience to complement his digital marketing, strategy and networking expertise. I have agreed to help him, and hopefully this will lead to some paying work that could help keep me afloat and allow me to rebuild my career portfolio.

I spent much of the last year as a grant writer, and would love to highlight some current public relations work to augment my grant writing potential.

So I was asked to attend a business lunch at Sogo Asian Fusion yesterday in one of my favorite environs, downtown Easton. I thoroughly enjoyed, despite the 95 degree heat, dining on the patio. It felt lovely to build an outfit, put on make up and head into the world.

Then later that evening, my propensity for stress-related binge-eating led to me eating most of a jar of “trail mix” — I put that in quotes because it had walnuts and almonds but was mostly butterscotch and white chocolate chips— that my blind friend Nancy gave me for Christmas. I had it on my desk at work and it was one of my possessions that Mr. Accordion drove to my house.

The teenager doesn’t like almonds. So she gave them all to me.

And then my daughter cornered me. She started reciting old bits from Brian Regan, one of my favorite comedians (from the golden age of the early 1990s, before I graduated high school and Nirvana changed the world).

Finally she got tired of her delivery falling flat and we spent an hour watching Brian Regan clips from YouTube on my phone. I grabbed a Diet Coke and finished the rest of the vanilla vodka from County Seat Spirits.

The teenager’s father, my husband of 20-years whom I separated from last summer, does not like stand-up comedy. But a good stand-up comic (like Regan, or Trevor Noah, or for those who have thicker skin and/or less sensitivities Denis Leary and George Carlin), can lift my darkest spirits. So I love the fact that our daughter inherited my taste in comedy.

And when I got up this morning, as mundane life started to overwhelm me with chores and commitments, Nan called.

The Mighty.com had published her piece on our summer picnic and shared it with Yahoo News. It features me, and the teenager, so I got to enjoy reading about my life.

You can read it here: Nan’s summer picnic article on Yahoo News

So maybe life doesn’t look the same as always, but the simple joys don’t really change.

Kicking off the weekend with hoagies and cocktails

I found out today that my blind friend Nan likes horseradish, would like to try Fireball whiskey and has never had a margarita.

Today, as it is the start of weekend and expected to be the hottest day of the week, Nan and I planned to head to Park Avenue Market to use some hoagie coupons from The Teenager’s marching band fundraiser.

But Nan hadn’t listened to the rest of my message— she was already distracted by thoughts of cucumber salad.

So we’re standing at the deli counter and I order a 10” Lebanon bologna hoagie with bacon lover’s cheese and lettuce, tomato and pickles for the teenager and I to share. And I order Nan’s turkey hoagie with bacon lover’s cheese, mayo, lettuce and onion.

We’re scoping out the salads and I ask her if she planned to take me up on my offer of coming over to eat our sandwiches together and mix up the apple pie cocktail from the ingredients I ordered from County Seat Spirits.

The teenager always likes to get one of the massive deli pickles. So as Nan was realizing we were about to have way more of an adventure than a simple trip to the grocery store, the teenager is pointing out to me that one giant pickle is 99 cents whereas two are $1.69.

Now no one needs two giant pickles.

But I say yes, get two.

She turns 16 Tuesday, I can’t deny her pickles.

So Nan excitedly accepts my offer to stay for dinner and promptly tells me that we need to buy apple juice.

While we wait for our deli orders— summer bean salad and cucumber salad for Nan and slab bacon and liverwurst for me—Nan and I explored the $1 bags of chips.

Apparently Nan loves horseradish so we picked up the horseradish cheddar potato chips for us and Jalapeño Popper Herr’s cheese puffs.

The teenager also wanted tuna salad, so I bought some celery and tuna.

And me, being me, I bought a cow tale and a coconut candy watermelon slice. You gotta have dessert.

We unpack the sandwiches and chips on my dining room table, and the chips were just like horseradish, some bites were just right and some the fumes went straight up your nose.

And then, we started mixing.

I get the vanilla vodka, cinnamon vodka, wine glasses, shot glasses, trays of ice and a cocktail shaker.

Nan is impressed that I have a cocktail shaker.

We pass the bottles around so everyone can smell the vodka. I usually hate vodka. This vodka is distilled from cane sugar and impresses me. The cinnamon vodka smells like Christmas.

First go:

  • 2 ounces vanilla vodka
  • 2 ounces cinnamon vodka
  • 4 ounces apple juice

Result: strong

I add two more ounces of apple juice to the cocktail shaker. Nan approves.

I am merely tasting as someone has to drive Nan home.

I slice the candy.

Nan has never had a cow tail before.

The teenager tastes the alcoholic beverages and approves. We have a discussion about her 21st birthday.

Nan and I plot a trip to the liquor store and mixing Fireball with diet ginger ale.

I mix a batch of the cocktail which I put in a quart mason jar with a plastic screw lid so Nan can keep it in her fridge.

I drove Nan home as the rain started to fall. I had slipped a cocktail into the freezer for myself. This is good vodka.

Lavender retrospective

I’ve tried to incorporate the spirit of my “staycation” two weeks ago into my everyday life. I have tried to embrace a more carefree joie de vivre.

I think to some extent it is working.

Scrolling through my blog feed, I see lots of random home-cooked meals, even more pizzas and fast food… I mean, what crazy mood swing prompted me to eat TWO blizzards from DQ in one night???

My dental work on Wednesday was a huge success and has prompted such a physical and emotional relief— because when you’re slowly paying off more than a thousand dollars in dental bills and something is not right, it drains you.

It reminds me, as life often does, that our struggles never really end. The only destination in this journey is death, regardless of what milestones we try to hit along the way.

Some days it’s harder to get out of bed than others, but hopefully there is something for all of us to appreciate and something we can do for the world.

I opened my Lock Keeper Gin from County Seat Spirits last night. Mixed a shot of so with equal parts carbonated water and a light French lavender soda.

Gin by itself has a clean but bitter taste, in my opinion, with the Lock Keeper Gin bursting with a strong citrus aftertaste. The light blend of lavender gave the gin just enough sweetness to be undetectable in my cocktail. I find gin way smoother and easy to mix than vodka, which I know is an unpopular opinion.

Summer “picnic”

I am in love with the lemonade lavender gin cocktail from County Seat Spirits. So light and refreshing. I’ve always loved lavender and I’d forgotten my fondness for gin.

Some would say that make me an old woman.

I ordered the spinach feta speciality pizza from Dominos and had them swap the provolone and onions for hot sauce and chicken.

I sprinkled the pizza with purple pepper and crushed red pepper and I must say it is heavenly.

Perfect Saturday Shenanigans and cocktails

County Seat Spirits (they have a really yummy Instagram account) has been tempting me with their exotic to go cocktails for quite some time.

Elderflower.

Lavender Lemonade with Gin.

Watermelon Margarita.

Hibiscus rum-rita.

Some orange drink called a white bronco.

Apple Pie cocktail.

So I splurged this morning and I ordered the 4-pack of the lavender and the hibiscus— two of my favorite flavors. I ordered a single serve watermelon margarita and a single serve white bronco.

Yummy Yummy Cocktails

I called up my blind friend Nan as I suspected the pandemic had made getting out of the house for social visit more unlikely. I asked her if she wanted to come over for cocktails and my Asian fusion cuisine.

Nan rarely refuses my adventures.

Nan joins me to run down to County Seat at the Silk Milk. I’ve ordered curbside pick up.

(Web site here)
County Seat Spirits
(click image to go to web site)

Then we stopped and put gas in the car.

Once we arrived at my house, the teenager put the drinks in the fridge and we put out some nuts and cranberry cheddar (read more about the cranberry cheddar here: Cranberry Cheddar Review) to munch on.

Now Nan, though blind, loves to watch me cook. I poured her a glass of my mint green tea and she enjoyed my narration.

I was making spring rolls/egg rolls. First I showed Nan the wrappers and explained how I mixed the filling.

Ingredients:

  1. Broccoli slaw
  2. Cabbage
  3. Fresh Ginger
  4. Garlic
  5. Black pepper
  6. Purple pepper
  7. Ras-el-hanout
  8. Low sodium soy sauce
  9. Balsamic vinaigrette
  10. Smoked paprika
  11. Canned white chicken meat

I let Nan smell the smoked paprika, the ras-el-hanout and the purple peppercorns.

I warmed my big cast iron skillet with coconut oil and sesame oil.

I stuffed, rolled, and sealed the wonton wrappers and fried them. I garnished with egg drop ramen noodles in a mild coconut curry sauce with a side of Korean barbecue pork jerky. (This was the jerky: Korean BBQ pork jerky.)

After some scrumptious egg rolls, we broke out the ‘lemonade.’

The gin made it super refreshing.

The teenager decided to make edible cookie dough. She forget most of the flour in the first batch, but Nan and I loved it. We dubbed it “chocolate chip cookie sauce.”

Nan tried the hibiscus drink. It was much heavier than the gin drink.

Still good, but the gin really tasted good on a lovely sunny summer day.

And the mailman came while I was driving Nan home— I got an Ipsy bag and the teenager got a rather unusual letter. But that’s for my next post.