Grandma’s Secret Cookie Recipe (Won’t Be Found Here)

When I was young, I would go to visit my grandma, and she would make two things for me: lasagna and biscotti. Both were amazing, but at some point, she stopped making the lasagna. Maybe around the time I became vegetarian, but I feel like It was even before then. The biscotti, she just kept making. She would have a bowl full of these beautiful, two-bite, sugar-glazed, anise-kissed cookies that melted in my mouth on every visit. When I got older, I noticed the cookies were missing. Both my grandma and uncle had to go on diets that restricted their sugar intake. That’s when I decided I needed to get grandma’s secret cookie recipe.

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Getting Pwned during High School PE Soccer Class

My 30th high school reunion is coming up this year. There is a certain contingent of people trying to get something virtual to happen since it appears travel and gathering in large groups will still be problematic throughout the summer. Of course, this has sent me down memory lane… We were required to take physical education. It was my least favorite class because of the locker room, my lack of skills and size, and I never really improved in athletics. I was more of an art and math guy, though to be fair some of our athletes were also math guys.

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The Daredevil Penguin: Who Is the Great Penguini?

In the southern hemisphere, there is a legend of a daredevil penguin who would perform great feats of daring. Some people claim to have seen him in action. Others say he stole their equipment. But none of them know the truth. First, those that claimed the penguin was a “he” never did a blood test, so the penguin’s sex remained unknown. Second, most of the feats of the Great Penguini are not the actions of a single penguin, but the actions of several penguins who learned from an early teacher and built on his/her legacy. This is the first feat accomplished by the Great Penguini.

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Could a Clever Cup of Tea Fix the World? How about 40 of Them?

Tea is huge in Russia. It’s a whole cultural thing. People drink tea at least three times a day – once between breakfast and lunch, again between lunch and dinner, and after dinner with a dessert. It’s not just tea, there’s always something, usually sweet, to eat with it. It might be a cake, cookies, a chocolate bar, or just jam or honey — bring your own spoon and dig in. The problem is I don’t really like tea.

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Our Store Plans for C.A.P.E. before COVID-19

A long time ago before the world changed, about the second week of March 2020, my wife and I were going to move to the coast – probably in Oregon. We were going to open a shop. The details about how, where, and with what money we were going to do this were a little sketchy. I just assumed we would figure it out when we got there. All we needed to do was get our cat micro-chipped and wait for the arrival of Jenya’s passport and Green Card visa.

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Rory’s Story Cubes: The Mystery of the Unmapped Mark

For Russian New Year’s Eve, I got a gift card to a local game store. I went in and found a couple of games to try. I picked up Rory’s Story Cubes (affiliate link) because they reminded me of a game I invented in Malta inspired by “The Decision Hedgehog.” You get nine dice with pictures on them. Roll the dice and tell the story. Story Cubes offers three different game plays officially, though you can probably make up your own versions. They have different styles of cubes, so if you like genre play, you can stick to your favorite. Or you can mix, match and combine them. Here’s the story I came up with on my first roll of the dice:

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Main Street, U.S.A. 2: At the Train Station

(For the first part of the story, click here.) The train station sat atop a berm built by the railroad company when they planned the town. They wanted the train station to be seen from all over the plain. On one side of the tracks, the main street extended perpendicularly from the tracks. On the other side, was prairie as far as the eye could see. At night, the trains could be seen from miles away; their lights shining in the dark.

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Cinnamon Penguin and the Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon Penguin waddled into the kitchen and jumped onto a chair. Cinnamon then jumped onto the table. The penguin looked at the stuff on the table; it was the first time Cinnamon had visited another part of the house.

Jenya was at the counter. She saw Cinnamon and knew what was coming, but she didn’t want to rush the penguin. She sifted some flour onto the countertop.

Cinnamon waddled around in a circle. “What’s that?” The penguin pointed at the object on the table.

Jenya put down some dough and kneaded it. She looked up at Cinnamon and said, “That’s a napkin holder. It’s holding napkins.”

“Why?” asked Cinnamon.

Jenya continued kneading the dough while she talked. “Sometimes, our hands or faces get dirty, and we use napkins to clean them.”

Cinnamon nodded. His beak moved up and down with the motion. “What are those?” The penguin pointed at a couple of ceramic pieces with holes in the top.

Jenya rolled out the dough. “Those are salt and pepper shakers.”

“What do they do?” asked Cinnamon.

“They help us spice up our food.” Jenya put the roller down.

Cinnamon sniffed at the pepper shaker and sneezed. The penguin ruffled out its feathers trying to shake the pepper away. “I’m not sure I like pepper or salt.”

Jenya laughed and picked up a spice bottle.

“What’s that?” Cinnamon asked.

“This is cinnamon. It’s the spice you were named after.” She shook it onto the flattened dough.

“What’s it for?” Cinnamon asked.

“It’s for making sweet treats to fill your belly.” Jenya smiled. “In just a little bit, we’ll have cinnamon rolls.”

“Will they have fish?” Cinnamon wanted to know.

“Not this time.”

Cinnamon watched as Jenya rolled the dough in on itself and cut it into circles. Jenya put the rolls on a baking sheet and put them in the oven.

Jenya washed her hands and came over to the table.

Cinnamon wrapped his wings around her. “Those smell so good! Thank you!”

You can adopt Cinnamon Penguin and help Cinnamon learn new things! Cinnamon would love to meet you and make a forever home.

Main Street, U.S.A: Stories from America’s Town

“Extra! Extra! Read all about it!” Paul shouted in his best newspaper voice. “The South has capitulated!” He shouted the big word to attract the attention of the man in a top hat with a gold watch chain that disappeared into a vest pocket near the middle of his ponderous belly. “The South has given up!” He shouted in the direction of a man carrying a tool box and wearing blue coveralls. “The South has thrown in the towel!” He shouted toward a man who he knew liked sports, especially bare-knuckle brawling and wrestling.

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A Man Walks into a Pizza Place

The bell above the door rang, and a large man stepped into the take-away pizza place. The man looked like he lived at the gym. His muscles bulging through the leather he wore on his legs. He looked like he could rip his black leather jacket with a simple deep breath. The spiked dog collar around his neck was incongruous considering his short, military haircut.

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