Friday, May 7, 2021

Life: Friday Ramblings


I'm so proud of... baby girl.  This past Saturday she had her first holy communion.  She was dressed like a princess in her lace, long sleeved gown, with a pink and white bouquet, a "big girl" gel manicure, and my bridal veil.  Seeing her dressed like a little bride had me filling with tears all day.  She handled the ceremony with grace and a smile.  I couldn't be prouder.

The communion celebration was...
...absolutely perfect.  For the first time in over a year, my entire family was together.  The food was on point.  The decor was simple and elegant.  The cake was moist and delicious.  To say that we felt truly blessed is an understatement.  Did I mention that no one event fought once the entire event?  No joke!

In an attempt to be healthier... daughter and I have been doing daily walks for months now.  I set my iWatch for 1.5 miles and we walk until we hit the mark.  While we've been doing this mostly around our kitchen island, we now started venturing outside on the warmer days.

We're still laughing at...
...our experience during one of our more adventurous walks.  

To set the stage of the experience...
...we live in a very dense, suburban area.  We live so close together that as I look out one window, I can see the full backyards of 6 different homes.  Right smack in the middle of our neighborhood, is a giant nature preserve with very high fences.  Think Manhattan and then Central Park out of nowhere.  The back end of that nature preserve is visible through the gates at end of my block.  

I felt adventurous so..
...Mushy Face and I went through a hole in the fence and started walking down the sandy trails through the preserve.  Feeling brave, I was ignoring Mushy's pleas to turn around because she was spooked by the "WARNING: WILDLIFE" signs posted everywhere.  When we hit a mile, I agreed to turn around.  As we turned around, about 4 to 5 deer lazily walked right past us and into the wilderness.  Well, I freaked the hell out!  The gate in front of us was shut tight with a padlock and I was trying to squeeze Mushy through the crack.  She was begging me not to leave her, but I was insistent that I'd save her life and come back for her after.  When she refused to go through the fence, I told her to count to 3.  At 3, we would run the mile to the hole in the fence as fast as we could.  "1.. 2.. 3.."  

We started running...
...when a man a very handsome man actually came out of his home to save us.  He was yelling "I have a key!  Stop, I have a key to the gate!  I can help!".  He then walked over to the gate asking what was wrong.  I guess I was yelling louder than I thought.  Embarrassed Mortified, I said "My daughter saw a bunch of deer and freaked out.  Thank you so much for saving us."  My daughter quickly corrected me and said "Nooo, SHE saw a bunch of deer and SHE freaked out."  Well, the man raised his arms above his head and teasingly said "I saw a bunch of deer and now I'm even freaking out!".  At this point he opened the padlock and let us out of the gate.  He tried to strike up a conversation asking where we're from in the neighborhood, but I was too embarrassed to say anything other than thank you for being our hero.

We learned our lesson to...
...stay the hell out of nature preserves and heed warning signs going forward!  Yet, Mushy is still laughing at mommy for causing such a scene over deer..

What are your Friday Ramblings?

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Ideas: How to easily make spaghetti squash in the oven or in the microwave.

 As we near the one year anniversary of the world's lockdown measures to control the pandemic, many of us are left with one thing in common.  We've mostly all gained some serious weight!  This can be attributed to less activities to participate in, more time sitting stationary, increased access to our refrigerators, and a high demand for cheap take out.  

Speaking for myself, my daily activity was walking from the bedroom to my home office.  Then after working a full day, I had to home school my kids, potty train my son, clean up after their mess, and then work some more because who can effectively work with little kids home!  I went from cooking every day to maybe four times a week.  The formula of decreased movement + added take out - any and all motivation to do anything = me gaining some serious weight.  To put it into perspective, my current weight is the same weight that I was at 9 months pregnant with my daughter.  Seeing that number that I won't put in writing gave me the motivation I need to do something about it.

One simple thing that I'm doing to lose weight is erasing pasta from my diet.  Truth be told, we eat A LOT of pasta.  I know my family still enjoys my pasta dishes, especially my Sunday sauce, so I've been making substitutions for myself.  One item that I've been using is replacing my dish of pasta with this brand of lentil based macaroni (link).  It's delicious and filling, but may leave you gassyThe second substitute that I've been using is spaghetti squash.  Today I'll share the two very simple ways that I've been preparing spaghetti squash.

how to cook spaghetti squash in the oven or the microwave

Disclosure: This site contains affiliate links to products.  We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. Please note that I would only recommend products that I would use myself and all opinions are my own.

How to easily make spaghetti squash.

Spaghetti squash is an oblong shaped vegetable that's usually a pale yellow color on both the exterior and the interior.  When cooked, the edible part of the squash turns into thin, long fibers similar to the size and shape of spaghetti.  The taste is very mild making it a good fit to pair with almost anything.  The texture of spaghetti squash is surprisingly not similar to spaghetti.  It's more fibrous and dense, with the teeniest tiniest bit of a crunch.

Warning:  Spaghetti squash is a very watery vegetable.  With most dishes, it's goes almost unnoticed.  But, when I pair it with my Sunday sauce, it's very noticeable.  To help with this, I serve my sauce and squash separately.  I also store my leftovers separately.  When it's time to eat, I'll pour the sauce over the squash and then race to eat it before it gets watered down like a crazy lady.  It takes about 8 hours to make sauce, and I'd hate to see someone ruin a whole pot this way so heed my warning!

How to make spaghetti squash in the oven.

While this takes a little longer to do, it's definitely the method that I prefer.  The squash comes out better, it's easier to do, and it doesn't make an annoying mess in the microwave.

Preheat the oven to 375*.  Next, clean the squash on the outside so that the germs don't make it's way inside.  Slice the squash in half, but long ways.  Meaning, slice from stem side to the butt of the squash so that it's cut in half horizontally.  Scoop out the seeds so that you are only left with the harder, dry "meat" of the spaghetti squash.  Lightly brush the edible part with olive oil.  Place skin side down on a cookie sheet.  Bake for 35-45 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool.  Once cooled, use a fork to gently remove the insides.  The squash should be easy to remove from the skin and naturally break into spaghetti like fibers.  Pair with your favorite toppings, sauce, or just enjoy the spaghetti squash as is!

How to make spaghetti squash in the microwave.

Start by washing the outside of the squash so that the germs don't make it's way to the edible part.  Once cleaned, take a fork and poke holes on each side of the squash.  This will act as a ventilation system so that it will just release squash juice all over your microwave instead of explodingMicrowave on high for about 3 minutes.  The squash will now be much easier to cut which is probably the only real benefit to this method.  With a sharp knife, cut in half long ways and scoop out the seeds.  Fill a microwave safe tray with about 1/2 inch of water.  Place the squash skin side up in the dish.  Microwave on high for about 15 minutes.  Once done, let the squash sit and cool down.  Once cooled, use a fork to gently remove the insides.  Like above, the squash  should be easy to remove from the skin and naturally break into spaghetti like fibers.  Pair with your favorite toppings, sauce, or just enjoy the spaghetti squash as is!

Have you ever had spaghetti squash?
Monday, May 3, 2021

Book Club: Interview with David Crow, the author of the award winning book The Pale-Faced Lie: A True Story.

A couple of weeks back, I shared with you all one of my new favorite reads.  That read is a heartfelt and captivating memoir titled The Pale-Faced Lie: A True Story (link) by David Crow.  For a summary and detailed review of the book, click the related post link below.  This novel did a lot more than capture just my attention.  It has has won multiple awards and has sold over 150,000 copies.

Knowing all of this, I reached out to the author to see if he would be willing to participate in the R&W book club and answer a few questions.  You couldn't imagine how excited I got with his quick reply and willingness to participate.  Ok, so I fangirled a little..  Without further hesitation, below is my interview with David Crow.

Q&A questions for book club ideas with author's responses

Disclosure: This site contains affiliate links to products.  We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. Please note that I would only recommend products that I would use myself and all opinions are my own.

Interview:  David Crow, author of The Pale-Faced Lie: A True Story

1.  Your memoir begins with a recollection that you had at just three and a half years old. The following chapters recall events and circumstances at similarly young ages and in surprising detail. How were you able to remember life so well at such a young age? Or do you only remember the traumatic events so clearly?

It’s the intense moments and pain that are so indelibly etched in my memory. All of my early memories are traumatic, and I had plenty of terrible events to choose from for the book. The Crow family seemed to lurch from disaster to disaster with very little pause. I also went back to the locations multiple times and talked with family members and friends. I captured the events to the best of my ability.

2.  Whenever I thought that your family’s situation couldn’t get worse, it would exponentially. Despite all these traumatizing events, the ones that lingered with me the most were the tragedies endured by your younger brother. How is your brother today? Did he ever blame you for the incidents like a younger you feared?

 It’s hard to believe that Sam is alive, well, and doing great, but he is. Most of his accidents were caused by parental neglect and his complete fearlessness. He probably does blame me for some of the whippings, but he got me in trouble even more often because he would always tell the truth about what we did, even when it meant we’d get a beating. But I do have some regrets around Sam. I wish I had spoken up for him more and taken more of Dad’s blows, but we were both overwhelmed by what we faced on a daily basis. 

3.  After enduring years of neglect and abuse, did it impact your relationship with your siblings negatively or positively? Your older sister took on the mother role in you and your sibling’s lives, did she hold resentment for that?

Yes, sadly, our childhood experience damaged the relationships among my siblings and me. We were more like gang members, pitted against each other by vicious gang leaders—that has a lasting effect. Once we left home, we weren’t close for the longest time. We’ve worked to rebuild our relationships individually, but I doubt the four of us will ever be together except for an emergency. I think we remind each other of the worst times of our lives. I wish it could be different; we’re working on it.

4.  In between the mental and physical abuse, you would emphasize times when your father expressed care for his family. Did you do this on purpose to show the reader the different, complex dimensions to his personality or to emphasize your father’s long con?

 That’s just the way he was—very intelligent, very complex, and deeply troubled. There were times when he tried to be a good parent (albeit in his own way), but his behavior was dominated by his hair-trigger temper and feelings of inferiority, despite his boasts. He was a bomb ready to go off at any time—with moments of calm care in between.

5.  You seemed to have been aware of your mother’s mental issues from a very young age. Despite knowing that, you struggled with the thought of leaving her because of it. Leaving her behind under the circumstances you did must have haunted you for a very long time. How did you, if ever, come to terms with that? Did your mother ever get the help that she needed?

My mom finally lucked out and married a gentle truck driver. But she drove him and her adopted son crazy too. I think Mom needed more help than anyone could give. She was—and still is—an angry, emotionally scarred child who sees the world only from the perspective of what she needs and wants. She has never functioned beyond that level. All that, and I still love her. I’m not sure I’ll ever come to terms with her or with our history. I often wonder what I could have done differently.

6.  Just reading your book had me hugging my children tighter. How did your childhood affect your own parenting styles and family life?

Our experiences shape us, good and bad. My own parenting has been a mixed bag. Sometimes, I was so afraid of messing up my kids that I overdid it by trying too hard. Other times, I was emotionally absent. I was never what I wanted to be because I hadn’t come to terms with my issues. Fortunately, my children have forgiven me and we’re close, but they have many reasons to be angry and disappointed in me.

7.  Writing this personal memoir must have been exceptionally hard both physically and mentally. What was the toughest part of writing The Pale-Faced Lie and what was the most rewarding?

Writing my memoir was a bigger experience that I had imagined. The hardest part was coming to terms with all that happened, including my own abysmal behavior. The process was gut-wrenching at times, cathartic at others. The best part was finding peace and receiving support from family, friends, and readers. Most of the reactions to the book have been positive beyond my wildest dreams.

8.  When you wrote this memoir, you welcomed the world to some of your most personal affairs. While doing so, you allowed many other victims of abuse to relate to your situation and see your personal successes. If you could speak to those victims directly, what advice would you give them on how to break the pattern of abuse?

I hope I’ve helped others. Many readers have written to me along those lines, which is immensely gratifying. I’d give this advice to other abuse victims: First, forgive all that happened to you and those who did it. Second, honestly face what was done to you and what you did. Be gentle with yourself because the burdens placed on an abused child are so extreme that no one can get through it without a lot of damage. The forgiveness aspect will help you be gentle with yourself and others, increase your tolerance, and make you want to help others who have been through similar things.

9.  If you could be remembered for one specific thing in your novel, what would you want it to be?

Forgiveness. Hands down, that’s my most important message. Let go of the anger and angst, the guilt and the shame. Let it go so you can open yourself up to a better life. 

10.  Do you have any future writing plans? I and many others are hopeful that we will be able to read another piece of work in the near future.

I’m working on the next book, and I hope to have it ready before the end of the year. 


Friday, April 30, 2021

Life: Friday Ramblings

My daughter's birthday was...
...a success!  We had a small group of our closest family and friends, delicious food, a pinata, and everything mermaid.  Baby girl brought in year number 8 feeling like a real mermaid princess!  Daddy even got into the theme by surprising Mushy with some marine themed balloons.  For those of you unfamiliar with my husband, this is a real big deal!  Baby brother couldn't get enough of the mermaid festivities.  He even rocked a mermaid bra to make his big sissy happy!!

The biggest surprise was...
...seeing her big cousin, my God son!  They drove up from North Carolina to spend the day with her.  We stole him for the night and every time I looked, she was squeezing him.  The poor guy may have some bruised ribs after all those birthday squeezes!!

I'm loving that...
...smaller gatherings have become socially acceptable.  We typically invite 50-60 of our closest family members and friends so that nobody gets insulted.  While I miss mostly everyone, it's nice to be able to SIT and ENJOY the party instead of running around like a nut.  A group of 20 or less is easy entertaining with some time for fun!

I just need to learn... cook for a smaller crowd.  I made enough food for triple the guest.  Hello, frozen leftovers..

Finally, the update you've all been waiting for.  We...
...FAILED at making the macarons.  Turns out they're the hardest things ever to bake.  We made several different attempts.  The second attempt ended up with a broken hand mixer.  After purchasing a new hand mixer, we tried two more times and both failed.  At 8pm the night before I called out for help and asked Nanny to take a morning trip to the bakery.  She purchased the above macarons and I decorated them as pictured.  Mushy Face thinks I made them.  Baby girl was happily surprised which made mourning my hand mixer that much easier!

We're hoping for...
...a lovely First Holy Communion for our baby girl tomorrow.

What are your Friday Ramblings?
Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Life: Binnekill Tavern in Margaretville, NY

Before we traveled to Roxbury, New York in Delaware county, we did some serious research on the best local eateries.  Coming from Long Island, we didn't want to venture too far away from the hotel.  Mainly due to our unfamiliarity with the area and the  dark roads with possible wildlife running across it.  Throughout our research, the neighboring town of Margaretville kept popping up.

When traveling, I like to go where the locals go.  We always try to avoid tourist spots so that we can get a real feel for the area without a cookie cutter experience.  Following true to this, we settled on a restaurant called Binnekill Tavern (link).  This eatery is a local favorite and has been a staple in the Margaretville community for decades.

where to eat in delaware county new york

Binnekill Tavern | Margaretville | NY

Binnekill Tavern is located in a historic building that sits on a bridge that goes over Binnekill Creek.  Historic and scenic?  Yes, please!  This historic building was originally an ice locker used to store perishable items and meat.  It was then re-established to become the local gathering place, watering hole, and home away from home for the community.  

The restaurant had an ownership change a few years back.  The new owners refurbished the restaurant but made a point to keep the classic atmosphere and many of the antiques that date back to it's roots.  Of all those things, the original antique copper bar is the one that impresses the most.  It really adds to the atmosphere of Binnekill Tavern.

where to eat in delaware county new york

Now let's talk food..  Ladies and gentleman, I can't even explain to you how absolutely amazing this food was.  When I first saw "Swiss-German Cuisine", I was a little nervous.  Well, all my nerves were completely unnecessary.  Not only was everything we had delicious, but they boast serving locally sourced products.  From a food perspective, Binnekill Tavern is one of my top ten best food experiences within the past 5 years.

My girlfriend and I split a burrata cheese, prosciutto, and fig salad appetizer which is pictured above.  My husband and his friend split the wings.  We were all extremely pleased with the portion sizes, presentation, and taste.  Ugh, even thinking about it getting me hungry!  For dinner, I ordered the trofie pasta with pesto and melted tomatoes.  My husband ordered lamb meatloaf with a goat cheese sauce.  Despite my original scoff at his food choice, we were both very pleased with our meals.  The food wasn't like something ordered in the middle of the Catskills.  It was more like a meal that would be served in a high end, overly priced New York City restaurant.  The Binnekill Tavern gets five stars for food!

The Binnekill Tavern is known for their antique copper bar and exquisite drinks.  Since I was very cold, I ordered a hot apple cider from the bar.  It came steaming hot and filled with fresh herbs.  It tasted delicious, warmed me up, and really did look so pretty!  So pretty that I had to take a quick video to share here..

We covered the restaurants history, it's food, and it's drinks.  What I didn't cover was the ambiance.  The Binnekill Tavern looked like a typical mountain restaurant on the outside and on the inside.  It was warm and welcoming.  The large fireplace in the middle of the establishment gave off this lovely aroma and left us feeling cozy while being reminded of the ski lodge we left a few hours before.  In addition to the cozy, mountain lodge atmosphere of the interior, the exterior is even more scenic yet was too cold for us to sit down in.  It overlooks the Binnekill Creek and a pretty red bridge.  This article shows you the view (link).

Finally, we need to talk service.  The service at Binnekill Tavern was AMAZING!  Our waitress hunted down a charger for us so that my son wouldn't scream the whole meal.  She asked the chef every single one of our annoying questions.  She even mildly entertained the kiddies when they started getting restless.  The waitress joked with us, accommodated us, and made us feel like we were locals!  The other employees were just as welcoming, accommodating, and warm.  Imagine that?  WARM people in NY!

I would highly recommend The Binnekill Tavern (link) for food, drinks, and service.

Have you ever had Swiss-German cuisine?

Monday, April 26, 2021

List: Ten trendy gift ideas under $40 for 8 year old girls.

As much as I don't want to talk about it, my baby girl turned a whopping 8 years old yesterday!  Typically we throw our daughter a fun filled birthday bash with some sort of special entertainment as her gift.  With current events and her communion this weekend, we decided to keep her celebration small and give a gift a instead.

With a budget of $40, I started brainstorming and deal hunting because 8 year old children are officially "cool" and expensiveBelow are the ten gift ideas under $40 that I came up with during my research with #10 being what we actually wrapped for her big day!

what to get a young girl as a present

Disclosure: This site contains affiliate links to products.  We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. Please note that I would only recommend products that I would use myself and all opinions are my own.

Ten gift ideas under $40 for 8 year old girls.

1.  Rainbocorns Wild Heart Surprise (link)
Rainbocorns are the "it" toy of the year.  They're under budget, recommended for kids 12 and under, and are all the rage because of the blind packaging trend.  This gift idea comes packaged in a an egg with a surprise stuffed animal with color changing sequins, a Boo-boocorn aka the Rainbocorns miniature twinsie that doubles as a pencil topper, press on nails, and Rainbocorn poop.
Can be found here.

If your 8 year old girl is as cool as mine thinks she is, she may be into make up.  These mermaid make up brushes are pretty, metallic, and really, really cool!  They'd make the perfect gift, especially when paired with children's mermaid themed make up like this Lip Smackers mermaid palette (link).
Can be found here.

For the little ones with a green thumb, fascination with Tinker Bell, and an upcoming 8th birthday, this gift will be greatly appreciated.  It's everything you need to grow your own fairy garden including the garden's own magical unicorn.
Can be found here.

While we all know what Legos are, some of us not cool older people may be unfamiliar with Lego Dots.  They're similar to the traditional Lego except they are thinner, smaller, and are used to make something trendy.  This set is the perfect gift idea for an 8 year old girl because it will make a super cool version of a jewelry stand to hold all her fashionable BFF necklaces and cereal box charm bracelets.
Can be found here.

Eight year old girls are way too old for picture books yet not quite at the age where their reading voice is fully developed.  Help them get into the magic of fantasy by encouraging them to read the age appropriate books that we and by we I mean us, not cool, older people enjoyed at their age.  This set comes with James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator.
Can be found here.

When I was an 8 year old girl, I wanted Lisa Frank stationary as a gift.  The 8 year old girls these days are asking for Juicy!  Since we have a budget, this is a nice compromise.  Juicy came out with a DIY kit for young kids to design their own designer jewlery.
Can be found here.

We've been on the hunt for a 1000 piece mermaid puzzle that's reasonably priced since Christmas!  When I stumbled upon this one, I grabbed it and gave it to my daughter for Easter.  She LOVED it!  Super cool 8 year old girls love mermaids and would love to hang a finished mermaid puzzle on their wall!  Like, seriously.
Can be found here.

Eight year old girls are learning hygiene and really becoming aware of their bodies.  They'll appreciate the privacy that this bathrobe gives them while loving the fashion statement they'll make with the rainbow unicorn theme.
Can be found here.

This gift will let your 8 year old girl live out her fantasy by hitting the pool or the beach dressed like a mermaid.  In other words, this it the big girl version of "dress up".  This gift set comes with a mermaid bikini hello, grown up?!, a mermaid tail coverup, and a flower head band.
Can be found here.

All of the older girls on our block love to ride their roller blades up and down the street. My daughter has been begging for her own pair for almost two years now.  I always thought she was too young for these or maybe I just don't want her to grow up so I never let her have them.  There you have it.  The winner was buying my baby girl the gift of her first set of wheels!
Can be found here.

What did you want for a gift at 8 years old?
Friday, April 23, 2021

Life: Friday Ramblings

This Sunday is... baby girl's 8th birthday!!  We'll be shell-abrating sorry, I had to with a mermaid themed birthday party at our home.  She'll have a cake, a piƱata, and a small group of people to enjoy her day with.  We're keeping her birthday bash small, intimate, and lots of fun!

In honor of Mushy Face's birthday, we're...
...going to try real hard to make the Pearl of the Ocean Macarons pictured above.  When I offered to make one recipe from her mermaid cook book, I thought she'd pick something simple.  Naturally, she picked one of the hardest recipes in the entire book.  Stay tuned to see how horribly wrong those come out!

I'm in complete shock at...
...the price of a communion bouquet!  I was going to order baby girl a corsage for her big day next week, but was quickly corrected by every family member and their mother, that my daughter needs a small bouquet.  Not believing this was a thing, I asked around everywhere.  Turns out, this is very much a thing.  After pricing communion bouquets from several different flower shops, the best price I could get was $65.  Imagine?  What are these girls going to expect when they get married if this is the expectation for a communion?!

We've been watching...
...The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.  This is the first show on Disney+ that I'm actually into!  It might have to do with the handsome Sebastian Stan or it might have to do with the story line, but I'm loving it.  Sadly, enjoying it a lot more than Walker!  Shh, don't tell anyone.

I'm really tired of...
...the working from home debate at my job.  The company I work for wants people to start returning the office, albeit slowly and in phases.  Many of the people that report to me are threatening to quit if they're forced to come back to the office.  1.  I'm not the one forcing you to come back.  It's a companywide initiative.  2.  Then quit.  I'm sick of having that held over my head like everyone is entitled to their jobs.  We need to look at this from a business perspective.  Managing people that are working remotely is not an easy task.  If management is forced to continue doing it, then what's stopping them from getting rid of your job and hiring someone overseas for a lot less?  Nothing is stopping them.  In fact, they'll probably be encouraged to do it to help the bottom line if people continue working from home.  Still not convinced?  Then call human resources.  End rant.

Please join me in wishing Mushy a very happy birthday!
Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Ideas: How to make Cuban coffee on the stovetop in 7 simple steps.

 Ladies and gentleman, the unthinkable happened.  I woke up, brushed my teeth, and then went straight to the kitchen to put up a pot of coffee.  I filled the coffee pot with water, measured the right amount, and then reached into the cabinet for my container of ground coffee.  To my absolute horror and disbelief, someone who will not be named put back an empty coffee container.  Long story short, we were out of coffee and I was officially "on the clock" at work.

After taking a quick second glance into the cabinet, I saw an unopened brick of Cafe Bustelo (link).  Problem solved.  I grabbed our Moka Pot (link), and proceeded to make a pot of espresso that I then drank it like a cup of coffee and didn't sleep for two days.

Note:  My husband saw me call this "espresso" and asked me to change the name to "Cuban coffee".  While we all know that it's really called espresso, I will call it Cuban coffee going forward because marriage means compromise.

Since I was extra happy to have my morning dose of caffeine and I was bouncing off the wall from the high dose of it, I ended up telling some of my coworkers what I was drinking.  I was honestly shocked to learn that many people don't know how to make espresso Cuban coffee on the stovetop.  Since this old fashioned way of making coffee tastes better than the fancy coffee machines, I'm going to walk you all through it in very simple steps.

how to make traditional espresso

Disclosure: This site contains affiliate links to products.  We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. Please note that I would only recommend products that I would use myself and all opinions are my own.

How to make Cuban coffee on the stovetop.

Step One - Separate the pot.
To begin, simply disassemble the pot so that it's three separate pieces.  You should have the base, the insert, and the top.

Step Two - Fill the base with water.
Take note of the screw, bolt looking thing on the side of the base.  How professional was that description?  Fill the base with water up to that screw.  Don't exceed that marker otherwise the water will overflow into the filter and your pot of coffee will be ruined.

Step Three - Add the filter insert.
Once the water is in the base, put the insert back.  Double check that water isn't overfilling and seeping through the holes on the insert.  If the filter insert remains dry, you're ready to move on to the next step.

Step Four - Fill the filter insert with coffee.
With a spoon, delicately pour the ground coffee into the filter.  Do not push down otherwise the coffee with fall through and go into the water.  Fill the filter so that the entire space is covered in the ground coffee.  If you like strong coffee like me you should use Cafe Bustelo (link) and put a little extra in the filter so that it looks like a little hill of coffee.

Note:  If you prefer fresh coffee beans like my in laws, I recommend this hand grinder (link).  Just make sure that it's set to "fine" and then crank away.  You then use these finely ground coffee beans in the same way that I use my already ground Cafe Bustelo.

Step Five - Re-attach the top to the base.
Carefully replace the top of the Moka Pot and screw it back together as tight as you can.  You want to make sure that its on there securely and that no water or air will escape from the sides.

Step Six - Boil the coffee.
Place the pot directly on the stove burner.  Put it on medium high heat and let it boil.  Once you hear the gurgling sound of the coffee, it means the coffee the is brewing.  Let sit until the gurgling sound starts to subside.  It happens pretty quickly.  This means that the water has made its way to the top of your pot and has magically transformed into delicious Cuban coffee!

Step Seven - Pour the coffee into a cup.
The pot and the coffee will be extremely hot.  Using a pot holder, pour the coffee into a cup.  Prepare the coffee how you like and enjoy!

Do you drink espresso Cuban coffee?
Monday, April 19, 2021

List: Ten important rules to remember for dress down days at work.

Many organizations have dress codes that employees are required to follow.  Those dress codes should include what's considered acceptable or unacceptable for casual days.  Unfortunately, despite a written dress code, some employees either ignore the rules or misunderstand them.  I mean, I don't really get why it's unclear.  It's work.  Dress appropriately!  The saying "dress for the job you wish you had" is valid and doesn't lose any validity on Fridays.  Here are the ten rules that I live by for every dress down Friday.

how to dress for dress down days in the office

Ten rules for dress down days at work.

1.  Leave your ripped jeans at home.
Like many of you, I'm a fan of distressed, tight fitting denim to balance out an ensemble.  Unlike many of you, I would never wear such a thing to work.  Ripped jeans are a big NO in the office, even on casual days.  I'm laughing at my uncle who says "Your jeans are very holy" whenever I show up in ripped jeans!

2.  All vulgar or potentially offensive graphic tees are banned.
I recently had to reprimand an employee for showing up to work with a shirt that read "GET NAKED".  I thought this went without saying, but keep the graphic tees to cute, nice, work appropriate sayings.

3.  Flip flops are not dress down day appropriate.
I do love my flip flops, but they don't really have a place in the office so I leave them home on casual days.  Instead, you can rock gladiator sandals or wedges.  They're more stylish and professional.

4.  Don't ever show up to work in leggings.
It doesn't matter how long your shirt is, leggings are never appropriate for work wear.  Leave the leggings at homes and put on un-distressed, comfortable jeans instead.  Leggings are inappropriate and scream for unprofessional attention from peers.

5.  Leave your political gear at home.
This past holiday season someone wore an ugly sweater with President Trump on it.  Not only did this fuel a heated, inappropriate debate in the work place, but people were offended.  There's a place for political conversations, but I don't believe that your job is one of them.

6.  Crop tops should stay in your closet.
Call me a grandma, but crop tops should always stay in your closet.  I mean, belly buttons creep me out!

7.  See through clothes are a hard no.
Unless you're rocking appropriate under garments & I don't mean lingerie, see through items stay home on dress down days.  I remember an old peer of mine getting in trouble for consistently wearing white shirts with a black bra.  Casual day or not, it's clearly inappropriate.

8.  Waistlines on all pants should be on the waist.
Baggy clothes that hang past your como se llama should never be worn to the office.  Instead, invest in a belt, have the waistline taken in, or get a new pair of pants that actually fits.

9.  Sleeves are always required.
Tank tops, spaghetti straps, tube tops, & going topless will never be acceptable attire for work.

10.  Dress down Friday isn't for recycling dirty clothes.
Casual days are for dressing more comfortably.  They're not for wearing your dirty laundry.  Keep your dirty clothes in the laundry bin and your ripped clothes in a pile for your tailor.  At the end of the day, it's still work.  You should remain clean, professional, and  p o l i s h e d.

What do you wear on casual dress days?

Friday, April 16, 2021

Life: Friday Ramblings

I was super psyched to FINALLY...
...find the yellow throated warbler!  About a week ago, I got a bird alert that there was a yellow throated warbler located in the pinetum near my house.  I ran over there eager to find the bird.  I mean, how hard could it be to find a bird smaller than my hand hanging out in pine trees taller than the Rockefeller Christmas Tree?  Hard, people.  Really hard.  It took four separate visits, two different accomplices, and a woman that worked for National Geographic for me to finally see this bird.  To say I was excited is an understatement.

The yellow throated warbler... practically nonexistent in NY.  It prefers warmer climates so this was a big deal in the birding world of Long Island.

My heart melted when...
...I walked to the other end of the arboretum to find my family and saw what's pictured above.  The kids and my husband were entertaining themselves by running around a tree.  Is that really more fun than seeing the bird?

That same day, we were visited by...
...a Budgerigar, or in American, a parakeet.  He came two days in a row.  He would come to me and then fly off making him impossible to rescue.  We bought a cage and filled it with parakeet seed in the hopes that he will fly in and be rescued.  After seeing him two days in a row, he did not return.

I'm sickened to learn that...
...people are buying parakeets from pet stores and then releasing them into the wild as the latest TikTok trend.  This incredibly irresponsible act, leads to these little guys dying.  While I agree that birds don't belong in cages or in people's homes, to let them lose in an environment where they don't belong is a death sentence.  If they don't freeze to death, they get attacked by predators because they don't have the protection of a flock and are unfamiliar with the area to find a hiding place.  These people should be arrested for animal abuse!

Please join me in wishing... Aunt and Papa the HAPPIEST birthday today!

What are your Friday Ramblings?