On My Mind: August 2017

Monday Author:  Susanne Skinner

On My Mind: August 2017, Susanne SkinnerWe are living in a new normal. It’s not the life we knew seven months ago but we’re in it, and we have to manage. This is an important time to remember the things that make our lives good and whole and blessed. Stay focused.

Let’s start by reminding ourselves to be happy. Get up each morning and jump right into it; try not to let the happenings in our world drag us down. Here are Ten Small Ways to Be Happy because that’s what makes the big things easier to deal with. Do this every day, and remember to make your bed.

The internet reminds us it’s real. It’s important to stay centered, informed, and open minded. That’s how we roll. While we’re busy with all that, we must be the role models for the good we want to see in others and in our world.

Today I’m writing seven miles above the earth—flying to Las Vegas. I’ve got five hours to go and a lot on my mind. Here’s what’s on my mind: August 2017.

Here’s What We’re Talking About

Last week everyone was talking about the eclipse. I was visiting my Dad, and even the seniors were enjoying the event with special glasses, snacks and the opportunity to see something closely resembling magic. Except…. Science! Author Annie Dillard’s personal journey, “Total Eclipse,” brings magic and science to life.

Losing weight.  It’s that thing that nobody likes to talk about, especially women. Oprah Winfrey put her stamp (and some cash) on Weight Watchers and helped them re-imagine the conversation. Listen to the podcast here.

I am not a big make-up user—at my age less is more. It’s too much stuff to pack and too much effort to apply with the goal of looking like I’m not wearing any. I rarely promote a product, but ladies—this is my new favorite thing. It’s called Boom Stick, and it’s all you need. It was invented by a woman my age, for women my age. Gotta love that. 

Got Zucchini?

Everyone with a garden has an overabundance of zucchini right about now. Short of midnight drops on your neighbor’s back porch you might be wondering what you’re going to do with it. First, remind yourself that two plants are enough and remember it next year when you’re planting the garden.

zucchini, zucchini bread, zucchini recipes, stuffed zucchiniZucchini is a versatile veggie. You can stuff a zuke with anything. It’s a blank canvas for flavor and opportunity. I rally the leftovers when a baseball bat squash is discovered under the leaves.

Cut it lengthwise, hollow the center by removing the seeds, then combine things from the fridge to create a filling. Rice, veggies, quinoa, barley, tomato sauce and cheese are among the chosen. Brown up a bit of ground beef or sausage if you want to add meat. Fill the hollow center with this goodness and bake it at 350 for 30 minutes.

Another option is a fritter, a fried or baked savory side dish for all kinds of meats, or a vegetarian main dish that’s really filling. These Zucchini Fritters are delicious. Grate up some extra and make zucchini bread.

I am a purist when it comes to zucchini bread. I do not care for recipes with chocolate chips, applesauce or vegetable oil. Keeping it simple produces a wonderful end result.  This is a nice adaptation with whole wheat flour. You can substitute white flour; my personal preference is white whole wheat flour. Double the vanilla.

S'Mores Slab PieIf you still have zucchini (and you know you do), try refrigerator zucchini pickles.  This is a no canning recipe for a great side to just about anything.

A little sweetness is necessary after all that zucchini. If you like s’mores but think they’re too labor intensive, then this S’more Slab Pie is just what you need. There is no way you can eat just one slice. I’m convinced my spirit animal is a stick of butter.

Read ~ Watch ~ Listen


If you like a good mystery you won’t be disappointed by Tess Gerritsen’s new book, “I Know a Secret with my home girls Rizzoli and Isles. Tess is an M.D. and she writes knowledgeably (and graphically) with creative plot twists. It’s set in Boston, so it’s easy for me to “see” the places she’s writing about.

Susanne Skinner, Read-Watch-Listen, books, movies, musicCory Taylor wrote a remarkable book called “Dying: A Memoir  six weeks before her death in 2016.  “Questions for Me About Dyingis Cory’s poignant and real take on why we need to talk about death, because silence doesn’t help anyone.


The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. A black-and-white reminder of what can happen and why. This is a hard movie to watch; its message bleak and profound. It is the story of Bruno, the eight-year-old son of the commandant at a German concentration camp. He discovers a camp fence behind his house and begins a forbidden friendship with a Jewish boy on the other side.


Malcolm Gladwell is a straight, no -chaser kinda guy, with the ability to educate us with facts instead of harsh words. He is also a great investigative journalist. His Revisionist History podcasts are worth a listen. Download one and you’ll learn things you didn’t know you didn’t know.

We Are the World is a musical reminder of what we’re all about. Written in 1985 by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie and produced by music veteran Quincy Jones, it sold 20 million singles; raising $68 million for humanitarian aid in Africa and the U.S. I never get tired of listening.

Let’s end this post on a humorous note, with a trip back in time and a parody of Simon and Garfunkel’s Sounds of Silence. Confound the Science and don’t forget to make your bed.

This entry was posted in Books, Food and Cooking, Movies, Susanne Skinner and tagged , , , , , , , , , by Aline Kaplan. Bookmark the permalink.

About Aline Kaplan

Aline Kaplan is a published author, a blogger, and a tour guide in Boston. She formerly had a career as a high-tech marketing and communications director. Aline writes and edits The Next Phase Blog, a social commentary blog that appears multiple times a week at aknextphase.com. She has published over 1,000 posts on a variety of subjects, from Boston history to science fiction movies, astronomical events to art museums. Under the name Aline Boucher Kaplan, she has had two science fiction novels (Khyren and World Spirits) published by Baen Books. Her short stories have appeared in anthologies published in the United States, Ireland, and Australia. Aline’s articles have also appeared on the Atlas Obscura website. She has been an active member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America since 1988 and is a long-term member of the Spacecrafts science/fantasy writers’ group. As a tour guide, Aline leads architectural and historical walking tours of the city for Boston By Foot, ghost tours for Haunted Boston and historical bus tours of the city. She lectures on Boston history and has appeared in the Boston Globe, as well as on TV for Chronicle, an award-winning television program that broadcasts stories of New England. As a lecturer, Aline has spoken at Brandeis and Tufts universities for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. She has also addressed as service organizations and local meetings. She is a graduate of Northeastern University in Boston and lives in Hudson, MA.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.