The Monday report of challenges, joys & lessons

It is almost 12:45 am. Tuesday. I’ve been home from work about 2o minutes. I started the dishwasher and poured a beer— that may also include crème de cacao and peanut butter whiskey.

It’s about 15 degrees outside which means my parking pad area was icy and hard for the car to climb, but the Jetta is safely in the garage.

I just sat down on my bed to write this blog entry about the joys, challenges and lessons of my Monday. Let’s go in reverse chronological order— start at the most recent and work to 24 hours ago.

Challenge #1– the Belkin charging cord I got for Christmas appears to have stopped working. Now I have sworn by Belkin cords for years. And they all last years. Why has this one failed? I’m too tired to troubleshoot. I whipped out my new Anker cord I bought as a spare when I saw it on sale. And teenager #1 needed one. Bought one for all of us, including teenager #2.

Challenge #2 and Lesson #1– I still suck at QC at the Bizzy Hizzy. The official goal is 130. I did 89 on Friday and 82 today. I am not accustomed to failing at assignments and it’s compelling exercise to try to improve at something at which you really seem to be bad.

Which brings me to… Joy 1– working in a warehouse with a wide variety of people has shown me how eager people are to help when you appreciate them. As I have mentioned before (see Rip it off fast like a bandaid), the ability to take criticism seems to be unusual at the Bizzy. I had another colleague come up to me today and thank me for being agreeable and willing to listen.

Joy #2 — cherishing the leftovers of last night’s Peruvian chicken with red peppers and Brussel sprouts.

Challenge #3– understanding how this video of my dear cat Fog reached 100 views in less than 24 hours: Fog purring. And now that I go to copy the link it’s up to 453 views a mere 5 hours later. Why?

Joy #3– meeting Barbara at Petco. She is one of the volunteers who helps care for the kittens in the habitats up for adoption through Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab.

Challenge #4– cats are a**holes. I had to very forcefully remove Fog from my room last night because he kept dangling from the parakeet cage. I cried myself to sleep because he’s slept with me for about a month now and I didn’t feel like I could rest without him.

My top 10 videos on YouTube

I started a YouTube channel long ago to record and transmit a video to one of my friends’ writing classes. Six years ago. Somewhere around three or four years ago, I ramped up my production of videos with no real rhyme or reason.

What surprises me is what people watch and what they don’t. I now have about 325 subscribers but they don’t really interact often so I’m not sure if I have a certain type of audience or not.

Because I don’t promote my YouTube videos (they are crude and unedited and not really meant to be a commodity) I think most of my viewers stumble upon me by happenstance.

But I thought it would be fun to share with you the top ten most viewed videos on my YouTube channel.

10. The list begins with author Jordan Sonnenblick doing a reading from his new-at-the-time book at Mary Meuser Memorial Library. 557 views

Jordan Sonnenblick

What puzzles me is that # 11 is my review of a Starbucks Maple Pecan muffin at 554 views. Review of the muffin and at 475 views there is a few second video of a unicorn icee. Unicorn icee

9. This one is the now teenager as elementary school student (six years ago!!) playing variations of Bingo on her 3/4 baritone. 586 views.

Bingo

8. This one has 776 views and all it is is ducks recorded during our road trip to Georgia.

Ducks

7. The teenager’s middle school band playing an Irish Jig. 783 views. The composer/arranger commented on this one.

Irish Jig for Young feet by Travis J. Weller

6. Another marching band video from three years ago, the teenager’s high school victory song. 1,000 views.

Hail to the Warriors

5. (And 4.) The teenager as a middle schooler explaining how to assemble a sousaphone. Part one has 1,600 views whereas part two only has 1,200.

Putting a Sousaphone Together part one

Putting a sousaphone together part two

3. My daughter’s first season in marching band, stand tunes at a football game. 1,600 views

Warpath

2. My daughter as an eighth-grader playing Smoke on the Water on a sousaphone. 1,700 views

Smoke on the water

And #1 — for reasons I don’t understand:

My daughter removing my splinter

This video has 506,000 views. And my chipped nail polish received much criticism. Next time I will be sure to paint my nails before trying to remove a splinter.

So other popular videos include:

Opie the 3-legged cat and I make my bed (327 views)

Sun conure (322 views)

Yet Marzieh Hashemi only received 289 views. Marzieh Hashemi at a rally in DC

What I’m watching

It’s time for an update on What Angel is Watching. Other than foster kittens. I watch them eat, I watch them sleep, I watch them look at me suspiciously. The Roman Pride kittens ate THREE cans of cat food in front of me today. For breakfast.

Minerva, Mars, Vesta, Jupiter

They must be going through a growth spurt.

So, even though I am job hunting and now have four volunteer responsibilities (foster kitten mom for FURR, communications director for ASPIRE to Autonomy, trustee at my local library and now member of the drug and alcohol board at the county level… and an informal member of the social justice committee at the YWCA of Bethlehem… so maybe 5…) and have two teen girls at home who also participate in marching band, I occasionally have time to watch some programming usually while folding laundry or late at night waiting for the dishwasher to finish.

This is what I have recently watched or tried to watch:

  1. The Social Dilemma — I already came to the conclusion that Netflix makes boring documentaries. This one is no exception. Well, except maybe they finally have watched some of their own documentaries and know how truly dull they are. I say this because they added a dramatization of a fake family to demonstrate their point and made some elaborate “Matrix” vibe scenes when discussing the effects of social media. It makes the awkward sensation of watching a Netflix documentary even more uncomfortable. The content of course is good, but if you hadn’t thought about how social media manipulates you and your life, well you must either be one of the brainwashed masses or live off-the-grid.
  2. The Kitten Lady— since we work with feral kittens, we’ve been watching The Kitten Lady on YouTube to gather some new techniques on socializing our fosters.
  3. Jackson Galaxy/Cat Mojo— Another YouTube personality with more cat information. Both of these people are a little vibrant and off-kilter.
  4. Diana: In her Own Words— Another slow-paced Netflix documentary I didn’t finish. This documentary uses recordings of interviews done with the princess in secret. Fascinating and compelling topic but dry in execution.
  5. Fight the New Drug (Human Trafficking stories)— These 5-10 minute videos were recommended on YouTube and I enjoyed their presentation, though the content is sad. I didn’t research the organization to see how they put together these shorts.
  6. Real Families: Thalidomide Disaster Survivors Share their Fight to Get Justice— This is a feature-length documentary on YouTube about the Thalidomide babies of the early Sixties. I found it much better done than anything on Netflix.

Saturday morning silly

First, let me say— hats off to the legendary Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who passed away yesterday at the age of 87. Her time on the Supreme Court, her legacy and the documentary film on her life, RBG, have touched millions of people— male and female—who may or may not know how her thoughts and actions have influenced their lives.

My posting lately has been inconsistent because I have been finishing some grants and the annual report for ASPIRE to Autonomy, Inc. The former I must give credit to my amazing interns Kayla and Sarah, and the latter is in the hands of my talented graphic designer (and partner in crime) Gayle.

Who else would take it in stride when I jokingly send photos like this (below) for the annual report and understand my hastily scrawled notes?

In the midst of it all, I’m still looking for a job, dealing with paperwork, adapting to hybrid school and ever present teenagers (who truly bring laughter and vibrancy into my life), socializing the foster kittens, developing a routine for the sassy cockatoo, battling the teen-and-pet laundry mountain, and collecting hospital bills. And poorly trying to find time and energy to improve my own health and return to weight training.

But this is a Saturday Silly Post!

So random sillies…

Yesterday Darnell popped over to finalize some projects for ASPIRE. He got hungry for a sandwich so I recommended my non-downtown spot. If you are in downtown Easton, the best spot for a sandwich is Josie’s New York Deli.

But when you’re not downtown, the place to go for a sandwich is Park Avenue Market. But they are slow. It takes them forever to make a hoagie. But they are pieces of art.

Darnell had his mind blown by their Dietz and Watson Bacon Lovers Turkey Breast and Bacon Lovers cheddar.

I tried the seafood salad with the dill havarti and shared it with the teenager. But the teenager was in a bit of an impatient frenzy because her Universal Yums box from Colombia came. So, Darnell was kind enough to film our unboxing video.

Colombia Universal Yums unboxing

In addition, I got my Ipsy bag, which had a tiny Tarte mascara (the cutest mascara I’ve ever seen), some color correction crème, and a day-to-night eyeshadow palette very similar to my all time favorite but darker shades so I offered that to the teenager. Her skin tone is darker than mine and I thought it would suit her well.

I’m really tempted to upgrade to the Glam Bag Plus.

And finally, on Thursday, my creative friend Joan came over and asked Nan to join us, so when I went to get Nan we went to Dunkin Donuts since the weather has changed to brisk Autumn. And we got her opinion on the new stuffed bagel minis.

Nan’s review: Nan’s review of stuffed bagel minis

And if you missed the teenager and I in our earlier review: New Dunkin stuffed bagel minis

Remember folks— the fun is in the little things.

Reviews, unboxing & YouTube

It started with an “eating things” video at Dunkin Donuts as I had to visit the notary at AAA to finalize my car refinancing paperwork.

I’ve wanted to try their stuffed bagel minis and they were definitely worth the trip. They are half the calories of a real bagel with cream cheese (though about the same price) and have I believe 6 and 7 grams of protein respectively for the plain and everything flavors.

The plain were a tad boring and tasted like doughy bagel cream puffs. The everything stuffed mini bagels were the favorite for both the teenager and I— and she doesn’t like everything bagels.

In this “eating things” video (perhaps I should consider adopting the term ‘mukbang’ though I do believe those are more focused on gluttony than silly, two generation food reviews), the teenager and I enjoy multiple items at Dunkin, too many items!

I must say we are a ridiculous pair, Trying mini stuffed bagels at Dunkin

When the teenager left for Marching Band practice (praise the Lord that despite the Coronavirus pandemic these band geeks can have their fun and hard work. It’s the closest thing to ‘hanging out with friends’ allowed), the postman delivered my Baby Bat Beauty package of three glittery eyeshadows, mascara and three lip colors.

I’m very pleased with my purchases but I do worry that I may not be able to pull off a bolder Goth look.

Watch me unbox on YouTube here: Baby Bat Beauty Unboxing

Tomorrow, I hope the teenager will join me in experimenting with new looks and we can do a follow-up post.

Red lips and glass slipper eyes

And in the evening, the teenager’s dad came over so we could walk over to her high school and listen to her marching band practice. Here they are rehearsing: Marching Band working on the Avatar show

So all in all it was a busy YouTube day. And I’m excited to try more of my new cosmetics.

Fire Up the Ninja

While I was recovering from my minor winter ailment, somehow I stumbled upon Gaz Oakley, the Avant Garde Vegan on YouTube. I’m not even sure how or why, but something mesmerized me.

I spent eight years as a vegetarian before my daughter was born and went vegan for six months back in my twenties. I never was a big fan of meat and I hated touching it. I also disapproved of factory farming practices and the use of hormones and antibiotics in our meat. Basically, I never had a problem with eating meat, but I did have a problem with the big business of food production and the amount of processed foods and chemicals in the standard American diet.

When my daughter was young, I made 90% of her baby food, most of our bread products and bought a lot of our food from local farms. Not the Farmer’s Market but the actual farms. I also gardened and preserved our food in the almost-lost art of canning.

As life got busier, I lost some of my good food habits. And I burned out a few food processors making homemade nut butters, blending dates for use in snacks and grinding my own flours. Oh and I made ridiculous amounts of hummus.

Something about Gaz and the way his cooking style incorporated the types of foods I like had me hooked. It was his high protein meal prep that truly mesmerized me and made me want to eat it all. I needed to cook again. Really cook.

And he did the things I used to do when I destroyed my blender.

So what did HE use?

A Ninja.

I read all the comments on his videos about the blender system and its comparison to a Vitamix. Now frankly, I don’t want a Vitamix. It’s a blender. I have a nice Black and Decker blender with a glass pitcher that suits me. I need a food processor.

Then I saw it at Target. The Ninja Professional. $199.

I wanted it so bad. So I made a Facebook comment. Suddenly, my family is offering to buy me a Ninja.

I had no choice.

I bought a Ninja. And started cooking again.

I have cooked for four days straight. My husband teases that I can’t make a meal without firing up the Ninja.

I am in love.

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Gaz’s Sriracha Meatballs and my spinach yogurt sauce

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Gaz’s Sriracha Meatball Mix

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Salad in the Ninja

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Breakfast smoothie

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Gaz’s Falafel, Hummus & Flatbreads

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Hummus Mix

En route: Hijab practice

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When I traveled to Tunisia in 2012, I learned to tie a hijab. I used this skill twice during my travels, once very successfully and the second, well, a tad dismally.

I am renewing my hijab practice since I will certainly need to cover in Yemen.

I struggled to use the same scarf that I did in Tunisia, but it kept looping over my face. I used a more narrow scarf in a jersey-like fabric and that became much easier to maneuver.

I made some YouTube videos of my initial attempts. I like the red scarf, and have a purse that matches it. Continue reading “En route: Hijab practice”