From a Closet to the Youtubes

I recently got a small device to pull several old VHS tapes to digital. You simply plug the cord into the back of the VCR, and then hook the other end into your laptop, press play and record.

Things I’ve learned in this process:

– VCRs are no longer being made. The last one was produced in 2016.

– My particular GE VCR will ask if you’d like the menu in “English, Spanish, or French” every time you turn it on. I don’t really think it needs to speak any language, but the VCR is desperate to know your preference and won’t play anything until you answer. If you have a remote, you select 1, 2 or 3. If you have no remote, like me, simply insert a commercial VHS. The professionally produced VHS tapes are set to play automatically and will bypass this screen. A home video VHS is NOT set to play automatically and can’t bypass it. I used the live action Jungle Book (each time I turned the VCR on again I’d hear: “It’s Shere Kahn!”).

– How to take a VHS cassette apart and reattach the tape if it’s come off the spool. Also that VHS cassettes are held together by 5 small screws and repairing them is very satisfying!

Maybe it’s just nostalgia, but I think there is something very charming about the quality of VHS tapes with their jumpy transitions, occasional wavy stripes and split color glitches. There’s also something to be said for the effortless editing, simply turn it off and back on again.

The video above captures beloved grandparents, much-loved cousins, and 2 spaces (that backyard and my Mama Johnnie’s living room) which were the context for so many of my establishing experiences. What is a birthday like? What does ‘Christmas with family’ mean? What do you eat at Thanksgiving? I learned much of this and more rambling freely between that green backyard and the front room.

I think one of my favorite parts of the video is my father’s voice in the very last seconds of the video as he zooms in on me and whispers “Happy Birthday” in a gentle tone and voice that I know so well. I couldn’t hear him at the time and wasn’t paying any attention, but it’s so nice to hear it now.

1 Second Video

When you make up your mind to do something, often it’s best to start as soon as possible. When I decided to make a 1 second highlight video in 2022, I determined that instead of waiting for New Years Eve, I would start right away — on December 11th, 2021.

In the calendar year that spanned Dec 11, 2021 to December 11, 2022, I caught Covid twice. Scott had appendicitis. We went to Israel, Dollywood, Disney and Florida. My grandmother turned 100 years old. Times changed. New milestones were met.

Some days are skipped altogether and some days have more than 1 clip. But I think it captures the gist of a wonderful year.

If you don’t see yourself in the video and wonder why, it’s probably because as I drove away from our time together I said, “Aww man! I forgot to get a video!” — so please remind me next time.

Don’t forget to enjoy the journey!

Banana Bread

Bananas go brown too soon? I got you, boo.


1 stick butter

1 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1/4 cup milk

3 tsp vanilla extract

3 medium bananas

1 cup all purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

1 tsp molasses

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

Small sprinkle of nutmeg and cardamom

Tiny splash of whiskey (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Blend together sugar and softened butter in the mixer, and mix longer than you think! Add eggs, milk and vanilla. Mash the bananas in with a potato masher. Then add the rest of the dry ingredients. Put parchment paper in a loaf pan, let it hang over the sides so it can lift the bread out when done baking. Sprinkle the top with demarera sugar or plain white sugar. Bake for 55 minutes and double check it’s done using the ol’ toothpick trick.

Serve with butter (or if you’re feeling fancy, make salted maple butter by mixing together a stick of butter and a few tablespoons of maple syrup with a sprinkle of salt). OR, you can try this with cream cheese! The banana bread is best when slightly warmed.

Pumpkin Bread

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger
  • 15oz can of Libby’s Pumpkin Purée
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 large eggs


  1. Preheat oven to 325°. Coat a 9×5″ loaf pan with canola oil. Line the pan with parchment, leaving a generous overhang in order to be able to lift out the bread easily.
  2. Stir together all the dry ingredients.
  3. Mix together the eggs, pumpkin purée, oils and grated ginger. Then combine the wet and dry ingredients together in one bowl.
  4. Transfer batter to the pan and then sprinkle the top with sugar.
  5. Bake bread for 80–90 minutes.

This recipe is inspired by (but not exactly like) the one demonstrated by Molly Baz, which you can find here.

Fair warning: this recipe will ruin Starbucks’ pumpkin loaf for you forever. There’s no going back when you realize how cheap and easy it is to make at home- and tastier too!

Cream Cheese Frosting

In honor of turning 34, I’m sharing my favorite frosting recipe. It’s excellent on cinnamon rolls, carrot cake, red velvet cupcakes, sliced fruit, hummingbird cake… or right off the spoon.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8oz Philadelphia Cream Cheese, never fat free (you might as well eat salad)
  • 1 stick Salted Butter
  • 1/3 cup Greek Yogurt
  • Splash of Vanilla Extract (and/or Rum)
  • 1 1/4 cup Powdered Sugar
  • Sprinkle of Cardamom
  • Use a mixer on high speed to combine the wet ingredients above and beat well, then add the powdered sugar last and beat again- just when you think you’re done, beat it for another 2 minutes, then chill well.

Pop Quiz— Do you know the difference between frosting and icing? Frosting is thick and spreadable and made with a fatty base, often butter. Icing is thinner and usually made of powdered sugar mixed with a liquid such as water or milk.

Pesach 2022

Somehow, and I do know exactly how, I didn’t end up with hardly any photos of our Seder(s) for 2022. Largely because I was too busy soaking it in. By it, I mean a Seder- not virtual, not cancelled– just an in-person, sharing food and wine, reading the Haggadah together, Seder.

Our family Seder was slightly delayed this year due to Covid. I don’t mean Covid in the abstract sense, I mean Scott and I were isolated for being Covid positive on the original date… so it ended up a little later and smaller than planned, but that’s ok. There was no way we were going to cancel altogether, not after the last 2 years.

One photo I did nab was this snapshot of the candles Mom bought in Safat especially for Passover. If you don’t know, safat candles are a *thing* and these were not only gorgeous, they literally did not drip. Contrast with the regular ol’ Shabbat candles I usually get from Kroger (which I used for my Aunt Cheryl’s Seder) which drip allllll over my candlesticks every time and inevitably lead to me standing over the sink with ice cubes and a butter knife trying to scrape the dried wax off the sticks, and, because I forgot to put down a plate or tin foil… the tablecloth.

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