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Dear Dr. Sheffield:

You are one of many purveyors of charcoal toothpaste. It’s all the rage right now.

In theory, charcoal toothpaste sounds great: Charcoal can remove surface stains.

In practice, charcoal toothpaste is not so great. (Warning: shocking image follows.)

Yeah, that’s my mouth. Too close to Meth Mouth for my taste.

(That is NOT my mouth.)

Your toothpaste makes not only my mouth a mess, but also the sink and my toothbrush.

Gross. Of course, I always clean the sink afterward. That’s just proper briquettiquette. (Har har!)

Your product also has a weird absinthe-y aftertaste.

And so far, I haven’t noticed any difference.

I’m too cheap thrifty conscientious to throw it out, but I will be glad when this experiment is over.

Coally yours,
Beth

 

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Dear Vegans,

God bless you, every one. How do you manage to find things to eat every day?

I’m sure things have gotten slightly easier for you (as more and more people make the choice), but it certainly is a challenge to find food that is completely free from animal products.

Eddie and I are hosting friends next month, one of whom is one of you. I’ve been road-testing recipes: shepherd’s pie, chickpea and avocado wraps, tamales, etc.

Japanese gyoza nearly was the death of me, though.

It’s one of my favorite things to make, thanks to the excellent tutelage of my friend Miwa.

However, I usually buy the pre-made skins from the Asian market down the road. It makes life so much easier.

But said skins have eggs.

Ruh roh, Raggy.

So I went to the vegan section of Whole Foods (aka Whole Paycheck). I found wonton skins, which will do in a pinch. Checked ingredients list to be safe.

So those wouldn’t work. I went to two other granola-people stores. No luck. In fact, one helpful cashier checked his supplier’s site to see if vegan wonton/gyoza/dumpling/potsticker wrappers existed. They don’t, apparently.

Back at home, I decided to make my own.

Oh yes, I did.

And that’s how I found myself up to my eyebrows in brown rice and tapioca flour yesterday afternoon.

I don’t have photos of the process because my hands were covered in flour for hours. I do have an image of the (uncooked) finished product:

As for the taste, I’d say they closely resembled my usual recipe. A little off, but not by much.

If anything, this little experiment has made me aware of just how many animal products we consume daily — even when we don’t think we are consuming any.

Wishing you all the best, and hoping you continue to have more and better options,
Beth

Review of Isle of Hope carriage house:

As this is a new listing, I didn’t know what to expect. I shouldn’t have worried: My five-night stay with Lisa and Rob was fantastic. Even their children, Cole and Cali, made me feel welcome by inviting me to play Unicorn Magic Ring Toss and Old Maid.

Lisa and Rob are exceptional hosts. They always had red wine on tap, offered me a homemade burrito, and Lisa went with me to various Savannah hotspots including The Jinx, Barrelhouse South, Congress Street Social Club, the Georgia Tasting Room and 17Hundred90. She even paid for parking. Now that’s a great host!

The carriage house had everything I needed to make my stay perfect — including something dead.

I would recommend the Isle of Hope carriage house any time. Two thumbs up!
Beth

Dear 2019:

Despite the fact that I likely won’t be awake to officially welcome you (I’m elderly and need my sleep), I really am looking forward to seeing you.

[As for you, 2018, don’t let the door hit you on the way out. Good riddance (we did not have the time of our lives).]

Readers who have been with me here for a while know that I’m not a resolution kind of gal. Why wait to make changes you need to make?

I needed to start a diet, so I did — in September.

I needed to rethink some relationships, so I did — in July.

I needed to get a project back on track, so I did — in February.

All that said, the first day of the new year offers a good time to reflect. And I have looked inside myself and found some internal shriveling. Hence (such a good word), here’s how I hope to improve while I’m in you, 2019:

  1. Refrain from strangling Dominic for one more year. It’s so hard. He’s 14; the hormones are strong with this one. Eddie and I take turns playing Good Cop and Bad Cop. Today, Eddie was Bad Cop, telling Dominic to turn in some missing school work. Then I get this text:
  2. Let Gideon hold my hand, even when his hand is clammy. His hand is always clammy. Or sticky. Dear God, WHY is his hand always clammy or sticky?
  3. Stop telling Gideon his hand is clammy/sticky, and that he needs to wash WITH SOAP.
  4. Resist the urge to roll my eyes at Eddie. Ever. No matter what silly thing he is asking/doing/saying. At least where he can see me. And he will do the same for me. (And believe me, I give him plenty of opportunities.)
  5. Avoid being a beer snob. If all they have is Coors Light or PBR, just walk away. Get some water, maybe even out of the garden hose (same difference). No need to make a big deal of it.
  6. Cut down on collecting dead things. Photos of dead things can be fine. And friends posting about dead things on my social media also is fine. And live things too.
  7. Refuse to engage with toxic people. Clearly, I’ll have to give up Twitter. (But then I’ll miss people posting about dead things and live things.)
  8. Write more; talk less. And don’t get sidetracked by Words With Friends. (Is this appropriate? Probably. I don’t know him.)
  9. Seek help for my Amazon Prime addiction. The plus side of this is that Christmas shopping was done by October.
  10. Invite people over. Yes, our apartment is the size of the Keebler tree. No one cares.
  11. Use the following words every chance I get: savory, shank, persnickety, moist, perfunctory, shocking, lollygag, kerfuffle, fracas, soiree, illicit, nefarious, supine, incandescent, degloved and mollycoddle. They just have a remarkable mouthfeel.

As for you, 2019, we will chat again when your 90-day probationary period is up. And mine too, I guess.

Happy new you,
Beth

Dear Santa:

Thank you so much for being so generous with our household yesterday. We’ve tried to stay off the Naughty list, but you know it’s been difficult.

Though we liked all of our gifts, I think I appreciated the coyote skull the most. Some girls might want a sable slipped under the tree, but you know this one prefers other dead animal parts.

There were a couple of things you skipped over, however, so I’d like to be proactive on my list for next year.

Beth’s Christmas List 2019:

1. Patience. I have a 14-year-old son who has worn mine out. Just bring me a little to spare for those super moody days (his, not mine).

2. Abs. I’ve lost a considerable amount of weight, but these are still nowhere to be found. Don’t tell me I can find them at the gym. You’re Santa, and you’re magical.

3. A winning lottery ticket. I’m a good person; I promise I would do plenty of good things with the money.

4. A publishing contract. I’ve got two books in the works. At least send me an agent, please.

5. One hour with Jason Momoa. A better iPhone battery life. Like I said, you’re magical. Make it so, won’t you?

Thanks in advance. I’ll do my part by remaining on the Nice side.

Believing in you,
Beth

Hello all!

I know that this time of year is supposed to be merry and bright. And usually I am too.

I love to travel, but sometimes it brings out the Grinch in me.

Allow me to elucidate.

Why I’m annoyed today:

1. There is no direct train from the city to any of the New York airports. In a city that is so good about public transportation, this is ridiculous. One of the best things about Atlanta is that you can take Marta directly to the airport. Well, the domestic terminal, anyway. If you are traveling international, the planning ninnies make you take a shuttle bus AROUND the airport. Stupid.

2. If a person has TSA Precheck, it’s a fair assumption that he knows the drill with the bins. Not the guy in front of me. He was a hot mess: Wrong boarding pass, waiting for the bin slot directly in front instead of going to the other two that were open, not realizing he couldn’t take his phone through the scanner. Dude, stay home.

3. If I’m sitting by myself in the waiting area, and there are five dozen open seats, DO NOT sit down next to me. I will cut you with my eyes.

4. Once you get on the plane, sling your suitcase in the overhead bin and immediately sit your ass down. People who take their time talking, taking off jackets, finding their glasses, etc., while BLOCKING THE AISLE (usually old white guys) drive me crazy.

5. The armrest is Switzerland.

Anyway, aside from minor annoyances like these, my annual birthday trip was great. I’ll write about it later.

Love and kisses,
Beth

Dear Jason Momoa:

I was very excited to watch you host “Saturday Night Live” last night. SNL has been uneven for a few seasons, but the right host makes all the difference.

Here are my thoughts on your performance:

Opening monologue
What’s with the shiny pink pants and no shoes? It almost looks like your pants are unbuttoned — not that there is anything wrong with that.

Parliament-Funkadelic Aqua Boogie as a theme song for Aquaman? YES! You know how much I love George Clinton and the gang. Leslie Jones is the only person who could upstage you.

Elves on shelves as Scrabby the Elf
Don’t pull your hair back ever again.

GE Big Boy Appliances fake commercial
I take that back. You can tie it up like that. I might have been distracted by the flannel and overall manly display, though.

Khal Drogo’s Ghost Dojo
Oh hell yes. Were there other people in this sketch? Hard for me to remember.

Introduction of Mumford & Sons
Excellent work, although the camera cut away too soon to inferior human specimens. What’s that? Oh right. They sounded great.

A Christmas Carol
This might be my favorite. You are extra indeed. I nearly had a heart attack when the robe came off. And then the pants? Using the post of the four-poster bed as a stripper pole? [Fans face] I’ll be right back.

“That’s Aquaman from Justice League,” said my youngest son, entering the living room as I was rewatching that sketch this morning.

“Oh, he’s so much more,” I replied.

Sigma Theta Fraternity House
No to the afro. Yes to the missing sleeves.

Second introduction of Mumford & Sons
Ponytails?

Sleigh Ride
I’ll forgive the bandana because there were ample shots of the rear.

First Impressions
Gray hair, gray beard, spectacles and dad vest? A preview of your middle/old age? Sure. I’m in. (At least we all know the paunch is fake.)

Rudolph’s Big Night
Santa, can I sit on your lap?

Closing
Thanking your mother, grandmother, babies and wife? Classy. You’re the best.

Still a big fan of your <ahem> work,
Beth