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.
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.
Watercolor was never my favorite paint. When I was young I fell in love with the slow blending work of oil, but turpentine and work space limitations being what they are, I later transitioned to the beautiful imperfection of acrylics – usually with an element of mixed medium (metal foil, glue, papers, etc).
My Grandmother, however, prefers watercolors as her first choice. I once took a water color class with her as a child and I remember disliking the opaque nature of the paint (and ultimately, painting a grey cat far too thickly so it looked terribly muddy).
But now, time is of the essence. And quickly adding a bit of art to my day- in ten minutes, or even 5- is a highly desirable concept. Enter: the homemade Altoid tin watercolor studio.
How to make a pocket-size watercolor studio: Buy an Altoids tin, a $1-2 watercolor palette and some cheap brushes. Glue the paints into the bottom of the tin, trim down the paintbrushes to also fit (I suggest using garden shears!), and cut watercolor paper into small rectangles. Voila! An art studio in your pocket.
Independent Russian news outlet TV Rain was forced to shut down on Thursday, March 3, 2022 due to the Russian government’s crackdown on local media stations broadcasting unfavorable coverage of the war in Ukraine. Journalists signed off by saying “no to war,” before walking off the station’s set.
The network then broadcast Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, a nod to the 1991 coup attempt against the government of then-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. As that coup was taking place, the ballet played repeatedly on television, an indication to viewers that something was wrong.
The above paragraph describes the scene in chapter 8 of The House at Pooh Corner, during which Owl, Piglet, and Pooh all find themselves trapped inside Owl’s house which has been blown over by the very Blustery Day. At this stage of the pandemic sometimes I am Owl, sometimes I am Piglet, and sometimes I am Pooh.
Owl, the unflappable healthcare worker. Vaccine breakthrough with omicron? Ok, we lean on therapeutics for high-risk patients. Monoclonals no longer working against omicron? No problem, we become experts on using Paxlovid. We run short of Paxlovid? We try Molnupiravir or Remdesivir, and clamor harder for the shipment of Sotrovimab to arrive or figure out how to deploy Evushield… as Owl says: “If the string breaks, we try another piece of string.”
But I am also Piglet, who caught Covid. Will I have long-term effects from my Covid infection? And if I had delta, and I am re-infected with omicron in the next couple weeks, what will that mean- to have both so close together? Piglet is really wanting to know (since it is the same him who will always come tumbling down), although he agrees there seems nothing else to do.
But then I am Pooh — who, although he has very little brain, is the one to reassure Piglet that the string won’t break (because Piglet is very small) and Pooh will stand underneath anyway. If you catch Covid and are vaccinated, your risk of severe outcomes is steeply reduced. And if you do worsen, and your Covid infection becomes serious, we know so much more about how to help you now than we did in 2020. “You are vaccinated, you won’t fall seriously ill. But just in case, we’re at the urgent care and ER to help. We will catch you if you do fall.” And Pooh reassures Piglet that the story will end very well; although right now we are all three stuck in this tumbled-down treehouse together.
And then once again I am Piglet — who rises towards the ceiling, and sees some tiny signs that perhaps this is close to the end… but doesn’t call out just yet, because what if we collectively let go of the string too soon?
It wasn’t that he ‘loved to paint’ — although perhaps he did, I can’t be sure because I never asked him. As a child, it never occurred to me to ask. But whenever my parents bought a house, he painted.
He painted my childhood room from a muddy mustard yellow to a sky blue. He painted the downstairs office, even when he doubted my mother’s dramatic burgundy color-choice (it ended up looking fabulous). He transformed my sister’s boring beige bedroom to a warm welcoming pink.
It wasn’t that my parents couldn’t or wouldn’t have gotten around to painting, they could and they would have done it all themselves — but they never needed to, because PopPop painted.
What a great and simple love is built of things like that: taking care of the painting.
At the end of a ten-hour vaccine clinic, a well-dressed man with a soft rolling-cooler full of flowers walked around the large atrium and gave every nurse, provider, pharmacist, pharmacy tech, and registration clerk a carnation. He had dozens of them, all different colors, and carefully ensured that every single person who had worked that shift was given the chance to pick a flower. 🌹
When asked what inspired him to do this, he only put his hand over his heart and said “I see how everyone is working so hard.” ❤️
This too shall pass. Someday soon we won’t need vaccine clinics that can serve 2,000-8,000 people / day. But right now we do need these events. This is part of history and we’re living it.
A patient told me, “I remember doing this for polio, too.” I asked her to tell me what that was like, and she did — recalling the day she and all her friends were vaccinated against polio with a green sugarcube. Now she’s been vaccinated against Covid, too.
I’m so glad that I’ve gotten to be a part of the pandemic response. This too shall pass, and I truly believe these vaccines will speed the end of covid as we now know it. I can hardly wait — I’ll work hard for that goal any day.
The first 5.5 in a covid vaccine clinic. The second 7 hours in an urgent care.
In the first half, I celebrated with patients who will never (or never again) catch Covid. In the second, I picked up my stethoscope to listen to the lungs of a 40yo F with Covid-pneumonia.
I want you to know, dear reader, that when I urge you to get vaccinated, I am not a shill for big pharma. Bill Gates has never cut me a check. I’m not a sheep. And I’m not saying these things because it’s my job.
I’ve been up close and personal with this virus for over a year now. And now, I’ve seen these vaccines up close, too. Not only did I receive both doses of mine, but I’ve given them, I’ve monitored patients who’ve just received them, and I’ve offered education about them — over and over again. I’ve watching in awe as 1,000+ patients are vaccinated in a single day.
From my heart, I believe these vaccines are safe. From my heart, I am afraid of what covid can do to your body and of the many things we still don’t know or understand about this virus.
From my heart, I believe getting vaccinated is the best choice. For you, and for our world.