All posts by Walkie Talkie Book Club

A book (and movie!) lover who is committed to meeting monthly with book club and with friends to discuss popular fiction.

ABC of COVID-19

Marissa shared an acrostic poem this morning, which prompted me to share one I started in May or thereabouts, found in my journal… with updates.

April, May… The pandemic started in March, but it became surreal very soon after…

Baking bread, but no sourdough for me!

Connections, virtual – Facebook live, Skype

Disconnections, personal. Distanced from friends and family.

Essential? Yup

Furloughed? Nope

Grocery stores – empty shelves.

Hugless months, but HAMILTON comes to TV!

Isolation; I wish for a houseful to quarantine with.

June, July, August… it keeps on.

Kind acts, “a pandemic of kindness.”

Lunches by Door Dash

Masks – at work 100% starting 4/1/2020; mandated by the Governor statewide!

Netflix – a savior! Streaming services thrive…

Online everything. New computer arrives.

Pandemic – the world shuts down; daily Press conferences.

Quarantine, “Stay at Home,” “Safer at Home” orders

Remote access to work

Snowstorm in April; September, October, November, December… it goes on.

Tiger King. Enough said.

Unbelievable, truly. Traffic is down, no rush hour, people are outside…

Video calls – Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas…

Walks with Murphy, Working from home…

X the days as they go by… counting my blessings

YouTube concerts, Broadway and pop; national and local – entertainers entertaining!

Zoom – parties, games, meetings. Now New Year’s Eve concerts to bid farewell to 2020!

Whoopee (or is it Whoopie) pies – 2020

During this “current unpleasantness,” when we are at home watching all the TV, I got my husband to watch an episode of The Great British Bake Off, Holiday edition, and asked him to create a technical challenge for me. I’m NOT a great technical baker, but I do love to bake. Details, conformity, beauty… not my strong suit. Deliciousness, I can do.

He challenged me to make Whoopee Pies – his mom’s recipe. His dad had shared it with me a few years ago, as I had the thought of creating a photo book of recipe cards (still on my list!), so I was able to find it quickly. Because the crisco/powdered sugar frosting recipe freaked me out a bit, I also found a recipe from Epicurious so we could have a comparison.

Both recipes were fairly simple and made small batches (8 sandwiches apiece – perfect for dropping off with family). I was told that the secret (oops -sharing secrets!) to his mom’s is letting it sit overnight before baking, so I made both batches of dough and put them in the frig until the next day. You can see the differences in the recipes: oil vs butter, white sugar vs brown sugar, milk vs buttermilk. I used the same cocoa in both (Trader Joe’s baking chocolate powder), even though the Epicurious one called for Dutch processed cocoa.

The dough was easy to work with…
They smell delicious!
Chris’s mom’s recipe – you can tell the differences in the BAKING SHEET!

I wondered, to grease the baking sheets or to use parchment paper? I decided to use parchment paper. Unfortunately, one thing I found is that I have awful baking sheets. I take that back, I have one great stone jellyroll pan (which impacts baking time), one okay insulated baking sheet, and a few terrible old baking sheets. I tried to veer away from the stone, but did eventually use it after using a bad sheet resulted in overdone cookies.

Epicurious recipe up front, family recipe in the back…

The frosting recipes were also different – I chose the Epicurious recipe because it used marshmallow creme (I love marshmallow creme). The family recipe was Crisco and powdered sugar. Both recipes made the right amount of frosting. The marshmallow creme frosting was suuuuuper sweet.

Of course, Chris preferred the family recipe although he said the Epicurious was not bad. The family recipe cookies actually were very delicious tasting – the chocolate taste really came through, which I find difficult sometimes with chocolate bakes. And the frosting was not bad, as well. They weren’t uniform in appearance, at all, but they still went together and held the frosting in the middle.

Lessons learned:

  • I need better baking sheets. And maybe a scoop?
  • I struggle with technical baking, making uniform looking goods.
  • Don’t be afraid of Crisco.
  • Don’t mess with family recipes.

The last month of 2020…

I’ve started my review of 2020, cataloguing the books I’ve read, the movies I’ve seen, the places I’ve gone… it certainly is different than most years! I think I saw one play and one movie in the theatre in 2020. One. Of. Each. I’ll write more about the review of 2020 later, but mainly wanted to stop by here to write about the passage of time.

It’s hard to believe that it is December 2020. Gretchen Rubin has many proverbs and one is “The Days are Long, but the Years are Short,” and I think that is especially true in a pandemic. The days have been very long but still, here we are – December 10. Already 1/3 through the last month of the year. It kind of is amazing to think all that has happened.

I started a list of things I want to accomplish before 2020 ends. Mostly holiday things – play carols at the piano, drive around to look at lights, watch “Elf,” or maybe even “It’s a Wonderful Life”…

This weekend I’m having a Baking Challenge, put forth by Chris. His mom always made Whoopie Pies, so I’m going to use her recipe and make them for the first time! I told him I may use another recipe too, and do a taste-test… I’ll try to follow Great British Baking Show criteria for the challenge and make them look the same (not my strong suit!).

I’ll maybe post photos and results here!

Chocolate Whoopie Pies with Vanilla Buttercream Filling Recipe | Martha  Stewart
Not mine… Martha Stewart’s! Hopefully mine look as good…

Momming

Written by me in 2016, with revisions in 2020:

Mothers. Mothering. Being mothered. I’m so blessed with incredible women in my life: my mother who exudes unconditional love, my daughter whose joie de vivre shines in her mothering, my sister-in-law who is raising amazing, compassionate humans and my stepdaughter and aunts and cousins and friends and all who are gracefully teaching life lessons to children – their own or the children of others.

It’s hard work, mothering, but such important work. Reading the origins of Mother’s Day is humbling and reminds that mothering doesn’t start and end with flesh and blood.

In 1908, Ann Jarvis petitioned to start mother’s day in honor of the passing of her mother, a peaceful activist who cared for soldiers on both sides of the Civil War.

She was a blessing and being a blessing to everyone you meet and lifting them up so that they can also bless others is great important work, as well. Maybe the greatest.

Hope everyone had a fantastic Mother’s Day! Virtual hugs to all!

“Life began with waking up and loving my mother’s face.” George Eliot
“She taught me that fear is not an option.” – Diane Von Furstenberg, on her mom.

“If at first you don’t succeed, try doing it the way your mom told you to do it from the start.”
“Being a mom has made me really tired and so happy.” – Tina Fey

Hunkered Down, but not Out!

3.30.2020

We have enjoyed watching Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show at Home and he and his guests have been talking about how it is day 14 of their social distancing / quarantine. I can’t imagine. My pattern of life hasn’t changed, so far, even though life surely has changed. Chris and I are still working our regular shifts, so time away from work has been spent recovering from work or preparing for work.

This weekend was a little glimpse for me – I had a 4-day weekend. Chris just had a regular 2-day weekend so Friday and Monday were on my own. Friday night I had a virtual happy hour with some friends and Saturday night Chris and I played online games with Marissa via Zoom. Who heard of Zoom before two weeks ago?

This weekend we made homemade deliciousness, we ordered in to support a local restaurant, we exercised via computer trainers and we watched Netflix (Tiger King, just like everyone!). It felt like a weekend at home, but we didn’t get to see any family or friends IRL (in real life). I’m a social being, so that’s hard for me.

Dr. Elvis on Fox iHeart Radio Stars at Home concert

We watched the concert on Fox last night. It’s been hard to keep up with all the “at home” events and special things streamed; Broadway shows, piano and art lessons, meditation courses. I’m trying to pick and choose a few things that bring joy, as well as comfort during this crazy time. I know my book reading has suffered due to social media and news watching. Hopefully I can get a better balance going forward.

I wonder what our new normal will be like? What will we keep? What will we change?

3/18/2020

This is weird. Life feels surreal right now. A friend reminded me that my biggest worry a few weeks ago was our puppy somehow crawling on top of her crate. It’s already hard to remember what last week felt like.

Tonight I’m working my way through some TV shows on Hulu while I’m practicing social distancing. The latest episode of Will & Grace starts with Will sleeping on the couch with gloves on and sponges in his hand – he fell asleep deep cleaning their apartment. Not because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), but because someone was coming over and he wanted to make a good impression. On This is Us, the Pearsons are gathered together having a multi-generational game night – something highly discouraged by the CDC and our emergency managers. I haven’t watched it yet, but I bet that everyone is at the office on Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist and they aren’t worried about the employees of small businesses. The toilet paper commercials just seem to be taunting us.

The toilet paper aisle at Target

No one on TV is worried about what will become of high school graduation and senior prom this year, or if and when the baseball season will begin. On TV, no borders are closed. No one had to cancel travel plans because Broadway shows or Las Vegas casinos or Florida beaches are closed.

So, what to do? I know that it’s important to slow the world down. I am trying to limit my news intake. It’s hard. Facebook is informing of business and services hours, freebies online, and updates from family and friends. My work email is filled with ever-changing updates. I’ve made a list of things that I want to do when I’m home – write letters, read books, create photo books, walk outside, do yoga, order take-out. My goal is to video call someone every day, because it is good to SEE people! I’m really thankful that I get to work with wonderful people, because if that was the only socialization I could get and it was miserable, then life would be miserable.

I’m journaling to remember this time and trying to be mindful and keep out some of the noisy chatter. It’s hard. I’m sure I’ll blog again to document this bizarre time we are all experiencing.

What are you doing for yourself and those around you?

National Love Your Pet Day

Murphy Jameson Guinness Brown Grimsrud Walsh

So it looks like we are petless during this National Love your Pet Day – this year – but we will have little Murphy in time for Walk Your Pet Day – Saturday! Chris couldn’t wait so he is meeting the family Saturday night! We have a few more nights of uninterrupted sleep and puppylessness, but we look forward to full hearts and the joyful Wheaten Greetin’!

Can’t wait to introduce you all to Murphy! ❤

The Sweeney Sisters

by Lian Dolan

Lian has done it again. Her first two books – “Helen of Pasadena” and “Elizabeth the First Wife” – were very enjoyable, light and fun. Her third novel – “The Sweeney Sisters” – feels more substantial but is just as readable and fun! Three sisters – as different as they can be, but as bonded as sisters are – cope with their famous father, loss after loss after loss and then an unexpected gain. I love that they are flawed but very likeable individuals. I love the real-ness of their emotions and their questions, their thoughts about what it means to have a famous father and his legacy. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and can’t wait to get my hard copy when it releases in April (pre-ordered already!).

Thanks NetGalley for the Advanced Readers Copy! Thanks Lian for a wonderful book I can easily recommend to all!

Palindromes

Today’s date is a good one – 02/02/2020 – an 8 digit palindrome. Back in 2014 I wrote a long Procrastipost about palindromes and although it is certainly dated and relevant mainly to 2014, it’s still pretty fun.

Enjoy!

https://walkietalkiebookclub.com/2014/04/17/4-17-14/