After a one week hiatus, the Jell-o Project is back and better than ever. This week’s Jell-o is Peaches and Cream (the non-alcoholic version) with what I believe is the ultimate Jell-o ingredient: sweetened condensed milk.
On the shelf behind my toilet sits the November 2013 issue of the Reader’s Digest. It’s magic.
I used to be a Reader’s Digest subscriber. Every month the newest issue would arrive, spend a day or two downstairs, then go upstairs to the shelf behind the toilet. The Reader’s Digest, with its one or two line “Quoteable Quotes,” the mid-length quiz, “It Pays to Increase Your Word Power,” and the longer “Drama In Real Life,” makes the ideal bathroom reading material. There is just the right amount of content for every situation, if you know what I mean.
Back in 2013 I stopped my subscription to Reader’s Digest. While I enjoyed every part of it, I just didn’t have time to consume it all before the next issue came. I found myself tossing them into recycling only partially read and feeling quite wasteful about it.
But we still needed bathroom reading material, so the November 2013 issue stayed put on the shelf behind the toilet. And it’s a good thing I kept it, because as I’ve already mentioned, it’s magic. After nearly two years, no matter what page I turn to in that 180 page magazine, I find something I’ve never seen before.
“Did you read this article by Billy Crystal?” I ask Robert from my echo chamber one evening.
“There’s an article by Billy Crystal in there?” He garbles over the hum of his Sonicare, mouth full of toothpaste. At least I think that’s what he says.
“I know! How have I not seen it before now? It’s hilarious.” I glance at the cover again to make sure the Reader’s Digest Fairy hasn’t gifted us with a different issue. Nope, still November 2013.
A few days later, I find an interview with Malcolm Gladwell. Of course! I think to myself. This was when his last book came out. I seem to remember reading it before and I scan the questions and answers. They are fresh and interesting, as if I’m seeing them for the first time. Huh, I think.
The next week I take the “It Pays to Enrich Your Word Power” quiz and score 13 out of 15. I wonder how many times I’ve taken the quiz and scored the same. Will I ever learn the definition of venal or bumptious? Is this something I should be concerned about?
Concerned? I think. That I have a magic Reader’s Digest filled with endless reading material?
I put the November 2013 Reader’s Digest back on the shelf behind the toilet and try to recall that word I didn’t know the definition for.
Until next time, magic Reader’s Digest!
When I was pregnant with my first child, I was diagnosed with hyperemisis gravidarum. In other words, I threw up day and night for months, unable to keep anything down for more than a few seconds. Eventually I got a picc line and was put on a 23 hour IV nutrition solution called TPN. Even though I wasn’t eating, I still threw up around the clock.
Everything made me vomit but especially seeing food, the fridge being opened, the smell when something was being microwaved, and dreams about food.
During this time, many people tried to help. Some of them tried to help by suggesting anti-nausea remedies (Seabands, ginger tea, smelling a lemon, hypnosis). Some suggested reasons HG may be happening to me (it was all in my head, it was Robert’s fault, I’d let it get out of control, our new house had too much new carpet which was probably releasing chemicals into the air and making me sick). And one doctor subtly, but clearly suggested a solution (abortion).
Despite my explanations about food exacerbating the problem, people still brought me food. One person brought in houseplants so they could clean the air. Someone else kept me supplied with lemons to smell. And, when I was finally well enough to sit through church, one guy asked me, “Are you able to keep food down now?” every single week, even several months after my baby had been born.
It never would have occurred to me reprimand these people for making an effort to be kind. In fact, when I felt well enough, I wrote every single one a thank-you note. Did some of their attempts miss the mark? Sure. But it wasn’t their failures I was paying attention to. That was secondary to their effort to do something. From my own experience, I know that doing something is not always easy.
So why do we have the myriad lists floating around the internet with titles like “stupidest things to say to someone with cancer,” “things never to say to a person with anxiety,” or “things you should never say to a pregnant woman,” or a black coworker, or a daughter, or someone who hates her birthday, or a creative person or even (and I promise I’m not making this up) “things never to say to someone?”
Sure, these lists tell me what not to do if I want to be sensitive in a particular situation, but they also provide painful reminders of how many times I’ve said the wrong thing, even with my heart in the right place. Beyond that, they focus only on the negative behaviors and seem to mock the very people who are trying. They make me want to never say anything or get involved with a struggling friend again.
It takes so little effort to become offended. It’s much more difficult to consistently see the good in others. More challenging still to do so when someone has said something unintentionally unkind.
How do you know if people are trying to be nice or are really trying to hurt you? Remember, people are usually dumb before they are malicious. Just assume that you are dealing with a good person who is temporarily afflicted with a little Dumb, and be kind. Instead of focusing on how they’re offending you, why not give them the benefit of the doubt. Why not show a little grace.
Yes. Let’s bring back grace.
Imagine a world where every time we said something dumb, or felt stupid, and wanted to hide under a rock and never come out, someone was there to recognize our good intentions? What if worked to build and love each other? What if we weren’t mocked when our efforts to reach out to others fell short, but were lovingly cared for and enlightened?
If you find yourself struggling with what to say to someone who has just been insensitive towards you, but who is a little clueless, try some of these phrases:
1. Thank you.
2. You are so nice to think of me.
3. I appreciate you taking time for me.
4. You are so thoughtful.
5. Thanks for sticking by me.
No more silent seething and passive aggressive list-making when people aren’t being nice to you. Theyare being nice . . . just not very well. Don’t punish them for it.
Using canning jars for things other than canning is a hot trend. With a little electrical wiring knowledge you can turn canning jars into pendant lights for your farmhouse-style kitchen. In the bathroom your jar can become a soap dispenser. You can paint them and put candles in them and bake little cakes in them and even drink out of them because looking like a hillbilly is also a hot trend.
I’m a purist and think that canning jars should be used for their intended purpose: Canning. Every so often I will use one to hold some homemade salad dressing or spice mix, but for the most part, I use canning jars only for canning, the way the Good Lord intended.
I will not lie—these “cute” canning jar crafts get me a little riled, but there is one use of a canning jar that just puts me over the edge. It is the salad-in-a-jar.
Salad does not belong in a canning jar. Period.
Salad needs to be tossed and mixed and when you jam pack a jar right up to the top with salad ingredients, tossing and mixing become impossible. This is why for hundreds of years, people have eaten salads in bowls. We even have bowls just for eating salad. They’re called Salad Bowls. You can buy them in sets or one at a time. You can get a big bowl for a big salad, or little bowls for small salads. The structure of the bowl allows for tossing and mixing so all the ingredients are evenly distributed.
Sometimes you might want to take a salad with you to work or a picnic. For these occasions, we have bowls with lids. It’s a clever idea and very convenient for portable salad making.
My second, and probably most important salad-in-a-jar gripe, is the fork-to-jar ratio. I assume that if you go to the trouble of making a salad in a jar, and then follow that up with photographing your salad in a jar, you probably intend to EAT your salad in a jar. But standard sized fork will be just about as tall as your Ball quart. So while your first few bites of misguided jar salad could be easily attainable, your mid-level bites will become awkward and messy as fork holding area gets smaller and smaller.
By the time you are at the remaining bites of salad, which, by the looks of any salad-in-a-jar picture on the internet, will be the only ones with salad dressing, your fingers will only be able to grip the very tip of the fork handle as you try and fish out the chunks of cucumber, radish or chicken. Your hand can not fit in the jar, so there is no way you can dig deeper in that jar than the length of the fork will allow you to go.
I concede that some may use the salad-in-a-jar folly as a clever way to store individual salads and when eating time arrives, they get dumped in a bowl. Friends, this just creates extra dishes to wash. Grab yourself the bowl you plan to eat the salad out of, make your salad in that bowl, and cover it with a lid. I’ve just saved you one jar to wash.
I realize it is fun to make our food look adorable, and putting salad in a jar is undeniably adorable. Google Images is filled with hundreds of thousands of pictures of everyone’s attempt at making salad in a jar. But what you don’t see on Google Images is anyone eating salad in a jar.
This leads me to believe that people who make and eat salad-in-a-jar are so embarrassed by their participation in this utterly inefficient hot trend, that they are not speaking out for fear of looking like a fool whose common sense is blinded by adorable hot trends.
People, please stop making salad in jars. Use a bowl and we will never mention this shameful period of hot trend history again.
When you ride your bike to school, you have to have a lock to keep it from getting stolen. So bring a lock with you, and don’t forget the key. Don’t put the key on any kind of key chain, just throw it in your backpack. I’m sure it will be there when you need it.
1. Wake your mother up at 6am and ask her where the wrapping paper is.
2. Measure how much wrapping paper you will need to wrap your gift, then triple that amount. Tear the wrapping paper from the roll. If you don’t tear straight, try tearing another piece of wrapping paper.
3. Barge in on your mom while she’s taking a shower. Yell over the sound of running water that you can’t find the tape. (She won’t be able to understand what you are saying.) Yell a few more things, then tell her to “never mind” (which she also won’t understand.)
4. Locate a stapler. Staple all the edges of the wrapping paper so that your gift will stay securely inside.
5. Leave the stapler on the floor where someone can step on it when they get out of the shower. Do not put away gift wrap. Make sure extra wrapping paper pieces that were too small get left on your mom’s bed, the kitchen floor, the stairs—anywhere but the garbage or recycling bins.
6. You’re finished!
Step 1: Wait until your mom has spent no less than 3 hours cleaning the house
Step 2: Go to the linen closet and remove everything that looks sheet-like by pulling neatly folded stacks from each shelf onto the floor. Don’t miss great grandma’s white tablecloths.
Step 3: If you’ve pulled down a fitted sheet, wad it back up and shove it on the floor of the linen closet. Fitted sheets are NOT blanket fort building material.
Step 4: Build fort. Stacks of books make great sheet anchors, so feel free to remove all the books from the bookshelves.
Step 5: Play in the fort for 5 minutes to 3 hours. Make sure to end blanket fort play-time by getting into a huge fight with your brothers.
Step 6: Whatever you do, do not clean up the blanket fort.
Step 7: When your mom insists, wad sheets, tablecloths and anything else you’ve used and shove it into the linen closet. Close door as far as it will go. You’re done.
These days, cut rate content websites are as abundant as cat videos on YouTube. If you need writing done, you can find someone who will do it . . . cheap. For a couple cents a word, you can get content written within a day or two.
Think about it.
If you’re in a rush to get web content online, or working with a tight budget, these services may seem enticing. I know, because I was lured by their promises too—not for writing, but for a logo.
I don’t know the first thing about graphic design and after searching through portfolios at a popular discount marketplace, I chose a designer I thought would help bring my logo vision to life for a very small fee. I crafted a well-thought out request and explained my ideas. This was me, putting myself on display, advertising my skills and abilities to the world. I wanted it to be inspired.
Two days later, an uninspired logo showed up in my inbox.
After my initial disappointment had receded, I realized the old saying is true: You get what you pay for.
As a professional, you can pay a penny a word for blog posts, white papers or web content. It’s not difficult to find someone fast and cheap.
But, if you want writing that reflects who you are, if you want it to be smart and professional, and maybe even a little fun, if you want copy that flows and is easy to read and grammatically correct, a few cents a word is not going to cut it.
Don’t scrimp when it comes to presenting yourself, your business, and your services to the world.
Think about it.