Thursday, March 2, 2017

Take a Bite of the Cheesecake

My husband is a friendly guy.

My husband is like Forest Gump. He's a friendly guy.

He's friendly to just about everyone, strangers or not. He actually goes out of his way to be friendly.

In grocery store lines, he's the guy that looks for opportunities to make people laugh, and most of the time, he's successful. Except for one time when he was standing behind two big Samoan guys who were carrying gallons of milk.

Fred said, "Nice jugs!"

The Samoans were all:

They just stared at him. Maybe they thought he was actually talking about their pecks and assumed he was trying to pick them up (in the biblical sense). I'm not sure.

But that was a rare exception.

Most of the time he gets the whole check-out line, including the cashier, cracking up at his witty remarks. But his friendliness doesn't end at grocery store lines.

Last weekend we went out to The Cheesecake Factory for dinner. Shortly after we ordered, the waitress seated a woman and her pre-teen daughter at a table adjacent to ours. While Fred and I waited for our order, we could hear that the woman and girl were speaking to one another in German. Every once in a while they would glance over at us and smile and we'd smile back (as one does in such situations).

At one point, the woman asked us the meaning of something on the menu and Fred explained. More friendly smiles ensued - nothing out of the range of normal friendliness.

Then our dessert came.

Salted Caramel Cheesecake.

Salted Caramel Cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory
Courtesy of The Cheesecake Factory
And boy, did that get the attention of our German neighbors! We could hear them ooh-ing and aah-ing over it as the waitress put it on our table. So much so that Fred leaned over to me and whispered, "Should we offer them a bite?"

Now mind you...I'm dieting. And that day, knowing we were going to The Cheesecake Factory for dinner, and knowing I was fo' sho' going to order cheesecake to split with Fred, I had starved all day and saved my calories for this dessert. Not that I looked online at their menu and pre-decided what I was having or anything. Because that would be obsessive.

So my first reaction to Fred's suggestion that we share my coveted dessert, was this:

Well, maybe not that bad.

But truth be told, I told Fred no, he shouldn't offer them any. Not because of pure selfishness or gluttony, but because of how I knew I would respond if the situation were reversed. If I were offered a bite of cheesecake from a stranger in a restaurant, I would decline out of politeness. Even if I really wanted a taste, I wouldn't. That's just my courteously deferential-edness.

My friendly husband did not share my reticence. He offered the two cheesecake interlopers diners a bite and they said, "Oh hell yeah," (internally) and they took him up on his offer. 

I could tell they did not regret it for a second. I could tell it was a delicious cheesecake party in their mouth, and it made me happy that we could offer them that small unexpected bit of happiness. Then I took a bite of it and it tasted every bit as good as the look on their faces implied. We all shared a moment.

That simple little gesture from Fred got us all talking. Turns out, they were from Germany and vacationing here in Vegas. They asked where a grocery store was, and we told them. Then we got on the topic of dogs (as we often do) and chatted about that too, for a minute.

Shortly after, we all wished each other well, and Fred and I left. 

I don't know if they had been to the U.S. before, or to Vegas before, or what their travelling experiences had been like until then. But I hope they look back on their 2017 Vegas vacation and smile at the memory of the friendly guy and his greedy wife who shared their cheesecake and some smiles.

There are two points to my little story. One is: Take a bite of the cheesecake!

People like sharing happiness (even if one of the sharers is a sugar-starved dieter). So when someone offers me a bite of something, instead of politely declining, I'm following the example of our new German friends and I'm taking a bite. I'm going to accept that little offering of happiness and make the offerer happy in return...for the most part (see disclaimer below).

The other point is: Offer a bite of the cheesecake!

Even a friendly little gesture can make a difference in someone's day. Whether it's a bite, a witty comment, a smile, or help getting something down from a shelf (a thing my husband often does in the grocery store because he's tall), offer it up and spread a little happiness.

Disclaimer: Upon further thought, you might want to use discretion before accepting random food (or drinks!) from strangers. In this particular instance, the dessert had just arrived, everyone used their own fork, and no one double dipped. More importantly, I was with my husband and pretty certain the two girls hadn't sprinkled a date rape drug on my cheesecake. So...use much discretion when considering this advice!  

Anyhoo...I guess my story actually has three points. The third being that I have a very friendly husband who likes to make people smile. He makes the world a little happier and I'm lucky to know him. I learn from him every day. But don't tell him I said that.

This post was brought to you by Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop in response to her prompt: Write a post inspired by the word: friendly.


Thursday, February 23, 2017

Videos, Binging, and Unemployment. Now You're Caught Up.

I'm still here.

As per my MO, I'm back to blogging after a rather long hiatus. Wondering what I've been doing instead of blogging? This post title pretty much tells it. Well, not quite, but I'll fill you in later.

Anyhoo, what better way to get back in the grove than with a Mama Kat writing prompt?

So, here's my five favorite things right now:

1.  Videos on how to make doll stuff.

I had no idea there were so many of these on Youtube. There are entire channels with hundreds of videos on how to make itty bitty doll stuff. My favorite channel so far is My Froggy Stuff. It's a mother and daughter crafting team. They specialize in making doll rooms out of cardboard that fold up for easy storage, but they also make all kinds of random doll accessories. I don't know why, but their videos are just completely captivating to me. I guess I've always had a thing for miniatures.

Here's one of their videos on how to make a doll concession stand, complete with a little hot dog grill and bags of cotton candy!

Another fun miniature-making channel is Rainbow Tinkle's World. Here, she makes a little mini toaster and Pop Tarts:

The videos inspired me to make mini popcorn and drinks for my granddaughter, for when she wants to take her Barbies to the movies. I used tutorials from the two Youtube channels and made this:

I have to perfect the cardboard carrier a bit, but...cute, right? If you're wondering how I have time to watch miniature-making videos and do crafts, please see #3 below.

2.  The KODI app.

In an effort to cut expenses (again, see #3 below), we cut out the "expanded" cable package. What we now have is the "you may as well turn it off and read a book" package. 

My brother texted my husband one evening and asked what we were doing. My husband replied, "Channel flipping between The Love Boat and All In the Family." Yeah. That's how bad our cable package is. 

My brother must have felt sorry for us, because next thing we know, my brother and sister went in together and bought us a box that lets you stream just about any show or movie you want, using the Internet. It works similarly to a Roku or Chrome stick. The only thing is, it only works on our bedroom TV because our living room TV is 13 years old and doesn't have HDMI inputs. #FirstWorldProblems.

It's great when Fred and I want to watch something together, but I have some favorite shows that he has absolutely no interest in (Grey's Anatomy and Madam Secretary), and his preferred after work lounging spot is the bed. So that means ixnay on any good TV watching for me in the evening.

But (and the whole point of this story), my brother also pointed out that the same app that the box uses to stream shows, is also available for Android devices.

It's called KODI. You can download it to an Android phone or tablet (maybe computers too, I'm not sure), then add other apps within it (we use Exodus, but there are others), and stream just about any show or movie.

So now I can watch my favorite shows, commercial free and anytime I want, on my tablet - for free!

So, yay! And also...I should probably read more.

3.  Not working.

I was laid off from my job this past summer. It's the first time I haven't worked since 1990 and I have to say...I don't hate it. Now before you start getting all judgey, thinking all I do all day is #1 and #2 above, I need to tell you that I have been trying to make some money doing some online stuff.

And no, I don't mean in my bedroom with a video cam.

Although...I hear the money is pretty good.

No, really, it's legit stuff, and it's largely why I haven't been blogging in such a long time. But, like most online endeavors, it's proven to be harder then I thought and I'm not sure how successful I'll be at it, in the end. But that's for another post.

The point is...not going to a job every day is definitely one of my favorite things right now. I should have lived in the 1950's..

BTW, a big shout-out to Mr. I-don't-mind-that-my-wife-doesn't-have-a-job for not only not pressuring me to look for a job, but for actually being happy that I'm home more, despite the shortfall in income. I'm a lucky wife. 

4.  Tea

I may have mentioned 5839373875 times a time or two how much I like many, many cocktails the occasional cocktail or glass of wine. And I still do, but I'm also trying to lose weight (an ongoing struggle). So I've cut back on booze and instead, I have tea. 

I guess that makes me a teetotaler, literally. Did you know that's spelled "tee" and not "tea"? I didn't until I googled it. Funny.

Anyhoo, it satisfies that need to have a soothing drink in my hand in the evening and helps squelch snack cravings during the day. My favorite is vanilla chai tea with a little almond milk.

5.  Natural Bliss Creamer

You might think I liken myself to the girl screaming for coffee in the picture. But no. That's my husband, ever since his schedule changed at work and he has to leave an hour earlier in the morning.

I have never seen the man drink coffee since the day I met him, but one day, a few weeks ago, he asked if we had any creamer because he'd like to take a cup of coffee with him to work.

After I finished checking for the "Fred suit" zipper and was satisfied an alien body snatcher hadn't taken him over, I put coffee creamer on the grocery list.

I didn't want to get one with a bunch of preservatives and crap in it (although Fred wouldn't have minded - he prefers his food to have a barcode). So we tried Natural Bliss creamer by Coffeemate.

I've always been perfectly happy with just a bit of almond milk in my coffee. Never liked it very sweet - that is, until I tried this stuff. It makes the creamiest, yummiest, cup of coffee ever!

All that's in it is real cream, nonfat milk, and sugar, so I suppose I could just buy cream and add sugar and it would be the same thing...but I haven't tried it. Plus, when the man who's encouraging you to not get a job, tells you his drive to work in the morning is a little less of a drudgery, thanks to his cup of coffee...well, you just don't mess with that.

So those are my five favorite things right now. What about you? Any favorite things in your life you'd care to share?

Oh, and if you have time, take a gander at the other writing prompts and posts over at Mama Kat's. Cause you got nothin' better to do.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Fair Haired Traveller

My world traveler came home a few weeks ago.

Have hula hoop, will travel...

We piled all the dogs in the truck and drove to the airport on Saturday night to pick her up. We had record rainfall that day so the sky was stormy and spectacular.

Storm clouds with sun gleaming through

Sissa looked so... Indian, when we saw her. Like she had absorbed the culture into her very being. I admire that about her - how she fully embraces the places she goes so that when she leaves she takes the essence of the place with her. She lets the experience change her and be part of who she is. That's the way to travel.

After four month in India, she said it was weird getting used to western culture again.

When we got home, she went straight to the bathroom and after a minute or two  yelled, "It's so nice to have toilet paper again!" through the door.

Okay, so maybe not all foreign customs should be embraced.

Travelling girl home from India
There's my travelling girl!

I couldn't wait to hear her stories and see the pictures of her adventures. We sat out on the patio, under my twinkly lights, and while the rain pelted on the roof she told me her tales.

Stormy night sky and silhoutted trees

It made my heart happy to watch her face as she talked, to see the happiness in her eyes and hear the awe in her voice as she recalled her memories.

I was glad to have her back safe, but I was so happy she had these experiences to tell.

I could see I would be saying goodbye to her many more times if God or fate is willing. Her travelling days have only begun.

Arranged marriages, a caste system, extreme poverty, but despite it all, a resigned contentment - that's the gist of what goes on in India. Or at least the areas she visited.

That and cute jewelry for very, very cheap.

She brought me a bracelet made from the seeds of the Rudraksha tree. The seeds are also called Shiva's tears, because the story goes that the god, Shiva, began to cry unexpectedly while contemplating the world's suffering. He turned his tears to seeds as they fell to the earth so that they could offer protection, peace, and power over suffering to those that held them.

Rudraksha bracelet also called Shiva's tears

All I know is that it makes me smile when I look at it on my wrist, and that's enough for me.

I'm glad she's back. I like the energy in the house when she's here. I like laying in bed and hearing her strum her ukelele on the patio outside my window. I like hearing her in the kitchen, making her vegan food. I like her joy.

Girl sitting playing ukulele

I'll leave you with this song Sissa introduced to me, and the reason for my post title. A special friend she met in India shared it with her and when I heard it, I loved it from the first note. I get teary-eyed every time I listen to it.

One Month Later...

I started this post a few days after Sissa came home. That was a month ago. Now that I've expressed the warm fuzzies of her homecoming, and she's been home a while, my next post is going to be "How you Know your Daughter is Home Again."

First on the list will be missing makeup.


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