Just in case you needed reminding. 🙂
Just in case you needed reminding. 🙂
Hidden Mickeys are a Disney thing. Hunting them all down – and there are over 1,000 of them in Disney World alone – is like an unofficial, parks-wide scavenger hunt for three circles in the shape of Mickey Mouse in a place where you would not normally find them – a little cluster of stones on the lobby floor of one of the resorts, the profile of three logs stacked together in a fireplace, this artfully arranged pile of leaves.
Anyhow, whilst recently cleaning up my nail art supplies, I ran across this KB Shimmer polish, Hidden Agenda, a neat thermal colour-changer that morphs from a peachy-grey blush to a steely metallic blue. I thought it would be fun to dot Hidden Agenda onto a nude base in the shape of Mickey’s head – presumably the hidden Mickeys would stay hidden as against the nude background, only to emerge in glorious icy blue when exposed to the cold.
Of course, that presumed that Hidden Agenda was the same colour as the base I chose, which, as you can see, it most definitely was not. I remember it being much peachier than it’s showing here, but the effect still mostly stands. Cute.
I haven’t been talking about Disney much lately, because…well, because the world is completely screwed up, and that includes Disney. There’s some curious shenanigans going on at the executive level, to say nothing of the worldwide park closures (I’ve no idea if this is true or not – the House of Mouse is notoriously guarded when it comes to its official numbers – but I read the other day that for every day the parks are closed, Disney loses $30 million.)
I’m sad that my favourite place on Earth is well shut up behind padlocked gates, and I’ve no idea when I’ll get see it again. I’m upset that 35,000 cast members have lost their jobs. I’m tired of the Disney bloggers and the vloggers who can’t respect a stay-at-home order to save their own lives, let alone mine. And I’m mad at the guests who could not see well enough to stay the hell home in the days leading up to the closures. You actively prolonged this entire situation. Hope you enjoyed your vacations.
I’ve also always viewed Disney’s as a kind of barometer of how well my own life is going. Do I have the financial means to take a Disney vacation this year? Is my passport up to date? Am I feeling fit enough to tackle a Disney vacation? And if the answer to all those questions is yes, then I dare say I’m doing okay, life-wise. I might just sort of have my shit together.
But Disney’s hurting right now, and I’m hurting, too. There’s no fun there right now, just gigantic neon question marks over a fog-shrouded future.
Wow, okay, so now that I’ve bummed everybody out, it’s time to get on with the day and stop dwelling on the negative. Disney – indeed, life – will “open up” once again. We’ll be able to go back to the people and the things that we love. That much doesn’t need to stay hidden, even if for the next little while, we might. Stay safe and stay home, friends.
So here it is, proof positive that whether it’s on my nails in polish or on a piece of paper with gel pens, all of my attempts at drawing an animal result in some gigantic butt’d aberration that looks like it’s suffering from a wicked case of conjunctivitis. At least this chunky fellow is wearing a mask and maintaining social distance from those carrots.
I made that little card yesterday for my parents, who are used to my laughably childish creations, and we ran it by their place, along with a COVID care package containing ah-mazing Indian takeout (hit up karara.ca if you’re in Ottawa, peeps), chocolate chip cookies, raspberry cream cheese pie, toilet paper and a whole mess of silly comedies and rom-coms. Don’t ever say I’m not a great daughter when I’m bringing my parents both Indian takeaway AND the TP necessary to deal with the aftermath.
Though, even at a distance, I think my parents could have done without their son-in-law showing up dressed like a pirate bike messenger.
We did the lightning fast trading-of-the-care packages via the garage, while my mom danced a trio of stuffed bunnies in the window and my father – so randomly, like a Kids in the Hall sketch – ran out of the house with his BELT looped around his neck, shouting that he was so bored he was taking HIMSELF for a walk. I think they might be going a little stir crazy. They just looked so excited to lay eyes on us for the first time in over a month.
Which is a feeling I’m coming to be quite familiar with. I miss my parents more than is probably healthy for a 43-year-old; the urge to run at them with a tackle-hug, the kind I haven’t given since I was probably a little kid, was practically overwhelming. I had to dither by the car for a couple of minutes to keep from bursting into tears, and then I bawled the entire way home.
Doesn’t help matters that tomorrow is my birthday (I’m turning 43 bullshit years old, if you’d like to send me a cake made of toilet paper and hand sanitizer. I’m the one behind the Haunted Mansion doorbell.) I’m an only child (duh) and kind of a spoiled one at that (double duh) and the big joke among my family come April is “How much are we going to get hosed for Sandra’s birthday dinner this year?” Like hosing isn’t a foregone conclusion when I insist on going to a restaurant that only lists its market prices (and now I’m crying again thinking about the Kir Royale and seafood risotto I will not be enjoying at Giovanni’s on Preston tomorrow.) It’s only-child-indulgence on a massive birthday scale, and I think my parents enjoy lavishing it on me just as much as I enjoy receiving it. But this year is going to be kind of different.
Yeah, okay, so like my inability to draw creatures, probably all the proof you needed that my parents and I are close is this envelope addressed to “our princess.” You can also see where I got my artistic ability (joke; that wonderful little doodle my mom did there is a reference to every stick figure drawing I ever made of “us is the family” – dog, Boo Boo; dad, glasses and two hairs; mom, miniskirt and curly hair; me, bangs and a tutu; cat, Puddin’.)
Anyhow, we made out about as well my parents did with this reciprocal gift of roasted garlic tomato sauce, apple cobbler with caramel sauce and these adorable little chocolate bunnies, which I immediately decided to take outside for an Easter photo shoot, because I’m clearly bored as crap.
A 2020 EASTER BUNNY STORY, IN THREE PARTS
After spending some time in quarantine on my parents’ kitchen counter, a plastic bag acting as their PPE, the bunnies were feeling severely cooped up, and so they decided to venture out into the world. It felt very big and very quiet.
They made it as far as the front flower bed before they got freaked out by the silent emptiness and decided, like everyone else, to go back inside and get drunk.
It did not end well. The bunnies now have to go take a nap. The end.
Good to know I haven’t lost my (stupid) sense of humour! Speaking of, you’ve got to have one to go out in public looking like this! Easter weekend fashion in the age of Corona, folks.
So there’s all the mostly welcome weirdness we’ve been up to this weekend. I hope you’re having weird and wonderful ones yourself, friends – may they be just the hoppiest. 😉
It was recently brought to my attention – hi, Mom! – that my Hello Fresh posts are, shall we say, a bit shill-y. As in I’m stumping hard for the meal kit delivery service, with a mind to gettin’ paid. Anyhow, in case this was troubling you, allow me to reassure you that this is very much not the case. I’m simply a pleased consumer passing on a solid recommendation.
But yo, Hello Fresh, if you’re reading this, I can be bought SO HARD! Hit me up and I’ll shill even harder than I apparently already am. 😉
But until I’m rolling in fat stacks of Hello Fresh entrees, let’s talk about the changing face of food in this new age of Corona. Last week during both a video chat with a friend and a regular old telephone call with my mom, we were in agreement that perhaps THE most exciting part of our new routines is the planning, preparation and eating of our meals.
This is actually not too surprising. If you’re fortunate enough to have consistent access to quality food, you know it’s about so much more than satisfying your nutritional needs. Food is warmth, food is comfort, food is stability, food is home.
And so now that we’re home all of the time (or at least we should be – get off the friggin’ beach, Florida!) food is playing an even larger role in our lives – it’s becoming the focal point around which many of us orbit our days. So whether you’re putting on a five-course spread for your family, or you’re finally cultivating that sourdough starter, or you’re simply upending a box of Kraft Dinner into a pot of boiling water, food has taken on a brand new importance in our lives. It’s now about so much more than stuffing our faces. Now it’s about discovery and anticipation, routine and structure, and the kind of satisfaction that only comes from a really good meal (with really good people, now sitting in virtually from their own kitchen tables.)
It’s also its own unique form of entertainment. It’s new techniques to try and new flavours to explore, with (hopefully) delicious results. It’s NOT sitting on your butt for seven solid hours watching that wretched Tiger King thing. 😉
Pre-Corona, I noted that I really loved making these Hello Fresh meals. That much has not changed in our intra-Corona lives. It’s just a fun activity, and there ain’t nothin’ better than the kind of fun you can also eat.
For specifics on our experience with Hello Fresh, including lots and lots of photos of the tantalizingly yummy recipes we’ve tried, please click here, here and here.
And now on with the show! As in the showing of the food, six vegetarian recipes we tried some weeks back. Spoiler alert: One was amazing, four were great, and one was a serious contender for the worst meal I’ve ever eaten. Okay, let’s do this thing!
Brie, Mushroom and Caramelized Onion Sandwich with French Green Bean and Cashew Salad
I’m not a big brie-lover (although every time I hear the word “brie” I think about Rick Moranis in Ghostbusters nervously querying a party guest as to whether the room is too warm for the brie) so I passed half of my sandwich on to Mr. Finger Candy, but I LOVED the mixture of sauteed cremini mushrooms and onions in a balsamic glaze that made up the other half of the sandwich. The spinach salad that accompanied this dish was also pretty fantastic, utilizing those balsamic mushrooms again, along with mustard-glazed green beans and toasted cashews. I liked the salad so much, I made it again a week later for my parents as an accompaniment to balsamic-buttered steaks. Definitely one to add to the permanent rotation.
Creamy Stracciatella Cheese and Tomato Sandwich with Roasted Potato Wedges
Bruschetta! Drizzled with more of that scrumptious balsamic glaze (I actually went out and bought a full size bottle, because I might just start adding it to everything. Coffee? Sure. Ice cream topper? Why not?!) With a side of roasted potatoes. Mr. Finger Candy went WILD for this dish, with its piles of tomato, basil and green olives atop crunchy ciabatta buns. Stracciatella cheese added just the right amount of mellow creaminess to offset the bright, briny flavours of the bruschetta topping. Solidly yummy.
Golden Halloumi and Ratatouille with Roasted Garlic Dressing and Ciabatta
Halloumi is a super salty, semi-firm cheese reminiscent of cheese curds. Owing to its high melting point, it lends itself quite well to direct heat cooking on a grill, or in a dry pan on the stove (which is how this particular halloumi got those lovely, lacey brown bits.) Halloumi shows up in a lot of Hello Fresh’s vegetarian recipes, presumably because it’s delicious, filling and, best of all, versatile. In this dish, the pan-fried cheese slices were paired with a delicious roasted vegetable ratatouille and chunks of garlic-toasted ciabatta bun to sop up every last bit of that roasted garlic dressing.
Beyond Meat Gyro Wrap with Chunky Fries and Chopped Salad
My city attracts a lot of people of Middle Eastern descent, and shawarma restaurants abound. Substitute the Beyond Meat in this recipe for actual meat and you’ve got your pretty classic Ottawa-at-2am-after-the-bar food (I was actually more a fan of veggie Whoppers on the second floor of the Burger King on Dalhousie, but there’s no accounting for taste, now is there?) 😉 This was yummy, but like all of Hello Fresh’s pita-based recipes, there was a disproportionate amount of filling to filling-holder. Two autre pitas, s’il vous plait.
Butternut Squash Stuffed Pasta with Toasted Pine Nuts and Baby Heirloom Tomatoes
Of the more than – *counts giant amassed stack of recipe cards* – 50 Hello Fresh meals we’ve eaten, there have only ever been two dishes I flat out hated, the final dish I’m going to discuss today, and then a too-greasy, lemon-and-pesto pasta dish we had some years back. So when I saw that this recipe featured many of the same ingredients as that pasta dish, I thought, “Wuh-oh, here comes a dud.” But hey, turns out I was totally wrong, because this pasta dish was GREAT, with each plump ravioli draped in a light, lemony sauce that had me licking my plate clean. Good grief, this one was dee-licious! And I see that it’s coming around again in a few weeks’ time, so obviously I’m not the only one who thought it was divine.
North African Spiced Freekeh with Roasted Squash
Saving the inedible for last, we come to the worst Hello Fresh meal we’ve eaten, a weird mishmash of freekeh (a rice-type grain), squash roasted in dusty-tasting Moroccan spices, and onions sauteed in bracing, acidic harissa paste. And if that’s not gross enough, the whole works were then topped with spinach, briny feta, chewy currants and toasted almonds. I put my plate down after two or three game bites and still paid the digestive price the following day. Mr. Finger Candy really fared no better. I’ve no idea what Hello Fresh was thinking with this incoherently bad recipe, but it really needs to be relegated to the “Never Again” pile.
As always, and particularly during this time when a good deal of us are under orders to not even dare think about leaving our homes, Hello Fresh is a great service that delivers, pun intended. I’ve been really impressed so far, and that’s before I had a genuine necessity for such a meal kit delivery service. Please give ’em a try and let me know what you think, and hey, try and have a bit of fun out there while you’re chowing down. We can, and should, still enjoy the little – and delicious – things.
There’s a line from the 2009 movie Zombieland that has been going through my mind now for days. For those who haven’t seen it, Zombieland is a comedy set in a post-apocalyptic America besieged by the ravenous undead. Jesse Eisenberg plays Columbus, a nerdy introvert and borderline agoraphobe whose ultra risk-averse and rules-oriented approach to life and death (and un-death) has him convinced he may be one of the last human beings left on the planet. He’s wrong, of course; Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin soon join in on the post-apocalyptic fun.
But before he meets the trio who will go on to form his cool new functional family, he spends a lot of time surviving alone, a lot of time wondering if he’s the last man on earth, and he remarks at one point, with a great deal of sadness, that he was never much for people, but now that there are no more people, he misses them.
And that’s where I’m at right now as I at least enter my fourth week of this weird new state of what I’m coming to call Hiding From the Flu. Not to fear, I’m in no danger of breaking the quarantine. I’m still quite a ways from running out onto the street and madly dashing about, licking and touching everything and everyone in sight.
But I do miss people. I miss random human connection. I miss coffee nights with a lifelong friend. I miss wantonly scruffying the cat who comes by our back porch to extort food from us. And I really, really miss my parents, who are just a 22-minute drive east, and who I have not seen now in over a month. We’re your pretty typical, not-too-touchy WASP-y types, but I’d really like to reach out and give them a hug right about now.
Here’s some topical nail art for the times. Sending you love across the socially accepted distance, people, because I do indeed miss you.