Everything I need to keep myself from writing.

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Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

That is not a misspelled word. It is what I do when I don’t have the ambition to write. I also binge on Netflix and play games on my phone. Don’t lie, you do too.

December is a particularly difficult month when you are a Procrastibaker, you have every excuse in the world to whip up a cheesecake or spend a day baking all the cookies in your arsenal.

I’ve always been a baker, but for the last 3 years I’ve been a licensed home baker in Maine. All that means is that my kitchen passed inspection and if I want to try to bake for a living I can. …

A perfect piecrust is not that difficult, really. This technique, using your food processor can turn your pies into delicious works of art.

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Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

I have been baking pies for as long as I can remember. The crusts used in these culinary experiments have ranged from those awful preformed frozen messes I used as a novice, to what is now my standard go to recipe. There is nothing, and I mean nothing, as wonderful for dessert (or breakfast) than a slice of a deliciously filled, flaky-crusted pie.

To make this most masterful of culinary delights, you will need 3 ingredients and ice water. For a double crust, (and you should always make a double crust even if only using one crust. You can freeze the other) they are: Two and one-half cups of all purpose flour, King Arthur flour if you can get it; One cup of very cold butter, or a mixture of half a cup of butter and half a cup of lard, very cold; and, a teaspoon of salt. …

Do you know the story of Hanukkah? Did a new version of the Hanukkah miracle just occur?

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Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Every year our family celebrates Hanukkah, the festival of lights. This holiday is based on the story of a miracle in ancient times. The story goes something like this:

The Jews of Judea were ruled by an evil Roman king, Antiochus, who tried to force them to worship the god(s) of his choice. But Jews are stubborn, especially about who they are going to worship, and fought back against this religious persecution.

A band of rebel Jews (yes, even in ancient Judea there were rebels), Judah and his gang of Maccabees, rose up against these evil, idol worshiping goyem and chased them out of Judea. …

If you want your children to be happy, expect them to do average things. Don’t burden them with your expectation that they should be extraordinary.

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Photo by Senjuti Kundu on Unsplash

For children play is the work that they need to do. Play should proceed without parental structure or rules, other than those that keep children safe. Childhood is about experimentation, exploration and excitement. There is something new to discover everyday. Encouragement is not the same thing as expectation. One can exist without the other.

Parents are often as excited about watching their kids making discoveries as the kids are. However, excitement in a child can quickly be extinguished by an overbearing parent who turns that excitement into the chore of fulfilling an expectation.

For example, a first foray with finger paint can be one of the silliest things you ever do with your little one. A mess will certainly ensue, and the mess is half the fun of the exercise. For your child the mess might be the reason for finger painting. Expecting a Picasso from a three year old is unrealistic. Expecting paint in her hair, on her clothes, in your hair and on your clothes is more probable. …

My writing is entertaining. Someone at Medium must think so, I get pieces curated all the time. But I am an idiot at marketing my own work.

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Photo by Michal Vrba on Unsplash

Help. I mean it Medium. Really. Help. You like my articles, or blog posts or whatever the hell I’m supposed to refer to the clusters of words I write on here as. But I am dying a slow death of pennies in the reads department. Why am I invisible? Invisible and read by only 612 people in the last 30 days. I am a pathetic self-marketer. Knowing how to change that just seems too complicated.

Maybe there should be a mentorship program for people like me. …

According to some predictions, 2021 is going to be so bright you’ll be looking straight at the sun. There is no need to worry about frying your retinas.

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Photo by Melissa Griffin on Unsplash

As this year from hell FINALLY winds down, 2021 becomes the focus of our communal attention. Who’s to say what kind of shitshow the coming year will be. Maybe it will be all rainbows and unicorns, but I’m not holding my breath.

The long anticipated vaccine has been rolled out. A light at the end of this pandemic tunnel. How long is the tunnel? How bright is the light?

Some tidbits about the vaccine I’ve heard this week. First, it doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t get the virus, you just won’t get as sick from it.

OK, that’s interesting. I’ve gotten a flu shot every year since getting the flu 6 years ago. I was a miserable baby. I guess I’ll be first in line for a COVID shot if it means I won’t be a big, sick, miserable, crying baby if I get the virus. …

Baking is really just effort, practice and patience combined with a perfect recipe. Baguettes are a good medium for mastering all three skills.

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Photo by Sergio Arze on Unsplash

Like many people, I’ve done more baking in the last few months than in the last few years. I love to bake, and there are a few things that now I feel I am able to do quite well. Pie crust, which I once bought in the refrigerated case at my local market, I now make easily from scratch. There is no comparison. My pie crusts are flakey, light and crisp and melt in your mouth along with whatever filling they are graced to hold.

But today is all about the baguette. This wonder in bread is so much about technique and patience, repetition and intuition. It is a simple recipe, only four ingredients: flour, yeast, salt and water. 3 cups, a half teaspoonful, a healthy pinch and 1 cup and a half (or so) of warm, (warm as in not hot or cold but comfortable) respectfully. …

I have no problem at 60 telling you what’s on my mind.

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Photo by Cristian Newman on Unsplash

I am that lady. You know the one in the bakery aisle at the supermarket who has no intention of letting you take the last baguette. There is no way you’d yell at me with my shiny white hair in two adorable pigtail braids and my multi colored scarf wrapped around the shoulders of a threadbare blue car-coat. You notice as I walk away that I am leaning heavily on my shopping cart.

The lean is for emphasis on my part. At 60 and well worn, I feel like I have some inalienable rights which I’d like to exploit before I go. That baguette was one of them. As a younger woman I wouldn’t have gone in and grabbed it out from under you. I’d have let it go. I would have let you take it and place it next to the goats’ cheese and tapenade in your basket. But now I feel worthy of it. …

All of the sacrifice we have been making doesn’t exist in my alternate universe. Embracing magical thinking has no consequences in this alternate sphere and choosing to play by alternate rules, well it rules.

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Photo by Ansley Ventura on Unsplash

I would like to live in an alternate universe. In that alternate universe I live on a beach and it is not cold and gray six out of every seven days. I would like to live a life not constrained by a pandemic, or financial insecurity. In my alternate universe no one is hungry, or food insecure. Jewish Mothers have been mobilized to feed the needy and Oy are they ever eating well.

In my alternate universe I like to throw huge parties in my fancy house and I have multitudes of admirers. I stand on my stairway landing and thank them for their love and adoration. They throw kisses and tell me they love me. Oh, that universe is taken, excuse me Mr. President. …

Those dark chocolate indulgences are just the beginning of a lurking addiction. Step away from that 88% cacao bar if you want to preserve your future.

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Photo by Emin ADIGÜZEL on Unsplash

It always starts innocently enough. The Nestle morsels in the Mason jar on the shelf in the pantry seem worthy of a little nibble. I have a coupon for a Lilly’s chocolate bar, gourmet and dark, what harm could it do? It always ends the same, and chocolate creeps back into my addictive food repertoire, euphoria without the ugly track marks.

What is the harm in a little indulgence now and then you may ask. What could the risk be from a little of chocolate to make these times a bit sweeter, this reality we are locked in a bit more tolerable? …


Janice Maves

Essayist, Poet, Mom, Dog Owner. Lives in Cornish, ME with Wallace the Airedale, and ponders Life In General.

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