Monday Author: Susanne Skinner
“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times” ~ Charles Dickens
Life is a balance between order and chaos, with me living somewhere in the middle trying to get it right. As decades went, I had a good run, but 2019 was a hard year and a hot mess. Kindness and compassion seem to be in lock step with hatred and violence, and we struggle to be good stewards of our planet.
I have more questions than answers as we close out the decade. It’s December 30th 2019 and there is a lot on my mind. We have 48 hours to reset our thinking, behavior and attitudes before we welcome a new decade. We’re all working on it, right?
Not everything is doom and gloom, and I am not in a dark place. I’m just preoccupied with what happens next and fearful that apathy will become the path of least resistance. The world judges us on how we respond and doing nothing is not an option.
Just when you think you’ve heard it all there’s Adam Litwin. He impersonated a doctor at UCLA Medical center for six months before the law caught up with him. Claiming his love for medicine blinded him to the laws he was breaking did not keep him out of jail, but when he got out, he became a real doctor.
Oxford’s 2019 Word of the Year is climate emergency, reflecting a year of escalating concerns about the long-term effects of global warming. Defined as “a situation in which urgent action is required to reduce or halt climate change and avoid potentially irreversible environmental damage resulting from it,” it’s our wake-up call.
Merriam-Webster also announced their word of the year—it’s they, a singular pronoun used to refer to a person whose gender identity is non-binary. The gender-neutral pronoun is used in place of he or she. My family has used it for years; as in, “Don’t look at me, they did it.”
Pantone’s 2020 color pick goes back to basics. Classic blue, also known as 19-4052, is the color of the year. Leatrice Eiseman’s heartfelt explanation behind the choice reminds us what is at stake.
According to Pantone, the color instills comfort and confidence, reflecting our desire for a dependable and stable foundation as we begin the new decade.
Straws: Paper versus Plastic
I’m just going to put this out there and wait for it. I am opposed to paper straws. For the record, I am also opposed to the plastic version. Paper in a straw is like wet cardboard in my mouth and it is not the green solution everyone thinks it is.
I am not alone—this article backs me up. My solution is a reusable metal straw. This option supports the environment; every purchase funds the removal of one pound of trash from the ocean and coastlines.
In the Kitchen with Suze
You always appreciate a gift you can eat—that’s my mantra. My friends and I are foodies and nothing tops a homemade offering. This year I chose minimal ingredients and a touch of je ne sais quoi to turn the ordinary into edible gifts.
Simple syrup is every bartender’s base; easily made of equal parts water and sugar heated until the sugar dissolves. Don’t be tempted to use a store-bought version. Keep a jar in the fridge during the holidays and up your game by infusing it with fruit and spices. My inspiration comes from a bourbon old-fashioned riff called Fairy Tale of New York. I added the winter warmth syrup to mulled wine and sangria with delicious results.
Flavored salt starts with a good artisanal brand, do not use the supermarket variety. Two favorites are fleur de sel for sweet and Celtic sea salt for savory, both more of a seasoning than a salt. Hand-harvested off the coast of France, they impart a deeper, richer taste than ordinary salt. Sprinkle them over a dish (rather than mixing it in) for flavor rather than saltiness. It’s worth the cost.
Vanilla salt is easy to make and adds depth to sweet baked goods.
Seasoned Salt has many options that lend themselves to savory recipes. Don’t be afraid of the turmeric!
Watch ~ Read ~ Listen: December 30th 2019
Witcher: Adapted from a fantasy series of novels and short stories written by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski. Witchers are mutants, taken as children and created through chemical alteration to become monster slayers. Geralt of Rivia, played exceptionally well by Henry Cavill, discovers most of the monsters he hunts are human. It’s Game of Thrones lite.
Cats the Movie: Nothing to see here. Tom Hooper, please apologize to T.S. Elliot, Andrew Lloyd Webber and all the people who bought a movie ticket.
The Crane Wife by CJ Hauser is the contemporary retelling of a Japanese fairy tale. It’s an empowering short story for everyone, but women will feel all the feelings.
Just a girl and her piano, Ruth Berhe has a great set of pipes and some serious keyboard mojo. If By Chance and Lost Boy are original compositions that channel heartache and longing into words and music.
I stumbled on Valerie June and her unique mix of folk, blues, gospel, soul, and Appalachian bluegrass. She caught the eye (and ear) of Oprah Winfrey, and you know what that means. Somebody to Love and The Front Door are great examples of her vocal and instrumental range.
The Rear-View Mirror on December 30th 2019
The end of 2019 is also the end of this decade, providing our annual opportunity to look in the rear-view mirror. The lessons we learned are there; where we’ve been, how far we’ve come, and the perspective we need to get things right. Celebrate what is good and fix what is broken because the world is watching.
Humankind. Human Kind. Be both in 2020.