Let’s Work Together For a Happy Holiday

Over the past few days there’s been a noticeable increase in traffic around suburbia. Check-out lines at the grocery store are significantly longer. The mall is getting crowded. There are just more people everywhere. ‘Tis the season.

When I got to the post office yesterday there was a huge line where I’m used to there being no line at all. Each one of us with an armload of packages all needing to be measured and weighed for posting. While I stood waiting with the other customers, many of them huffy and irritable, I started making a list of ways that we can collectively make the holidays more pleasant as we are forced to share public space while we prepare for our festivities.

Here are a few of my suggestions:

I have included a diagram of a typical mall parking lot grid below. Please note the areas that are NOT parking spaces. Parking in any non-designated area blocks the flow of traffic and compromises the safety of other parking lot users.

On that note, you may have to park farther away from the mall than you are used to. If this is a problem for you, please consider shopping in July.

Young children who won’t stay with their pack should be leashed. I’m not joking. I spent several holiday seasons working for a large bookstore and I recall us having to lockdown the store many times to search for rogue rugrats. It’s disruptive and terrifying for everyone. Also, the store is not a playground.

The world moves much faster than the elderly can. Cut them some slack. Don’t forget, you too will be old someday and karma is a bitch.

Stores hire a lot of new people for the holiday season. Your cashier might still be wet behind the ears. Have some compassion for the new girl/boy.

If you work in retail – I’m really sorry your manager underestimated the volume of customers and you co-workers called in sick, leaving your store understaffed. That’s not my fault. Please don’t take it out on me, your customer.

While you’re waiting in line to pay for your purchase, use that free time to locate your method of payment. Waiting until you reach the front of the line to rummage though your purse and pockets for your wallet holds everyone up and you just become part of the problem.

Give generously to your local food bank. There are a lot of families that need a good meal, way more than you need a 52” Plasma HD television or a PS3.

Basically, if we all just calm down and play nice we can all have a lovely holiday season. With a little patience and common courtesy we can all get though this together.


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Sweet and Sour Meatloaf

When I left work tonight it was dark out. It was only 5:00.

What the hell? Dark at 5:00?!!!

What’s next? Snow?!!!

A dark, drizzly night, like tonight, demands comfort food and I was so happy to find a sliver of leftover meatloaf in the fridge when I got home.

This wasn’t just any meatloaf, it was Sweet and Sour Meatloaf made by Jeremy from his mother’s recipe.

Sweet and Sour Meatloaf

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together and place in a casserole dish:
1.5 lbs (.7 kg) extra lean ground beef
1 chopped onion
1 beaten egg
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
1/4 tsp salt

Combine the following and pour over meat blob:
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons vinegar
2 tbsp mustard
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce

Break up the meat so that the sauce flows through it.

Bake for 1 1/2 hours.

Now with a tummy full of warm meatloaf, I’m moving on to hot chocolate. Then I’ll be curling up under a blanket for the rest of the night and I’m not moving until I can see the sun again.

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Arroz Con Pollo

Around this time last year we had a wonderful opportunity to spend a week in Costa Rica. We stayed here. If you’re looking for a quiet place to chill out for a while, I recommend checking it out. One of the many things we loved about Costa Rica was the food and nearly every menu we came across had some variation of arroz con pollo – chicken and rice. This was the first meal we had there and it quickly became our go-to dish while we were away.

Over the past year, I’ve made several attempts to recreate arroz con pollo here at home with limited success. Until now. I’ve finally found a recipe that kind of reminds me of Costa Rica. The ingredients are relatively simple and the cooking instructions are insanely easy. All of the ingredients get tossed right into a rice cooker and it requires no intervention until it’s ready to serve.

Here’s the recipe:

3 cups of chicken broth
2 cups cooked chicken, diced
1.5 cups uncooked long grain rice
3 stalks of celery, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
2 green onions, chopped
2 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic, minced

Spread olive oil in the bottom of the rice cooker. Layer the chicken then vegetables followed by garlic and paprika. Next add rice.

Place bouillon cube in the chicken broth and heat until it dissolves. I use the microwave for this.

Finally, pour the broth mixture on top, close the lid and cook.

When the cooker switches from the cook to the warm setting, give it a stir and serve.

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