Smile for Poetry Day 2

Day 2 of WordPress Writing 201: Poetry has long since past, but I’m not done yet. I hope learning never ceases. 

Day 2: Gift, Acrostic, Simile

The prompt is “gift.” The form is acrostic (where you can use the first or last letters of each line to spell stuff or just be alphabetical and such). The device is simile (which my brain usually reads as “smile” until I take a closer look).

Got Smile?

Save me some cake with frosting.

Under here, over there? It’s still a mystery, so …

Riveted by anticipation, we are the headlights that our dear met.

Perfect in size and shape and colors.

Rushing here and there. We’ll make it blossom.

Intent on joy and laughter as our foci.

Seconds to go before you know well.

Everything with love. 


I just want to note that under ordinary circumstances, somehow, I always manage to spell “surprise” wrong. Hopefully this poem (along with handy dandy word assist on new fangled gadgets) will help me get it right more often.

Second note: there are a lot of food words that end in the letter “i.”  Now I want some baked ziti and canolli.


Poached Pear Cider Herbal Tea: A mini tea review

Poached Pear Cider Tea from Teavana: a mini tea review

I was looking for a tea to replace Teavana’s discontinued Toasted Nut Brûlée for those times that I want dessert without eating dessert — ya know, have my cake (or cookie) and not eat it too! In the case of Toasted Nut Brûlée it tasted like a cinnamon oatmeal raisin cookie with chopped nuts.
Teavana’s new Poached Pear Cider herbal tea, while nicely spiced and lightly fruity, is not the replacement I was hoping for, but it is very yummy. I was plenty happy to drink my entire cupful, and I’d do it again too.
Fresh, fruit-from-the-tree pears can be both fruity and a little floral. So it should come as no surprise that Poached Pear Cider tea brings a lightly floral aroma and taste to the mix of fruit and spices in this herbal tisane. I find it both refreshing and warmly comforting. It’s like a mashup of a clean floral tea blend with a spiced cider.
Poached Pear Cider’s spices are not overwhelming. They are milder than those in, say, chai. But the cinnamon and cardamom make themselves known enough to add a nice accent to the floral fruitiness of the pear.
As I glance at the ingredients, it would appear that most of the pear flavor comes from added natural flavoring as opposed to bits of dried pear, but it works nicely. This probably makes the pear taste somewhat fresher than bits of dried pear. There is also an overall light taste of dried fruits (apples and raisins) and lemongrass with citrus peal without being overly fruity or citrusy. I find it nicely balanced.
The color of the brewed tisane is beautiful light amber and my cup seemed to have a hint of blush too.
I will be looking forward to more of it this autumn as a refreshing alternative to anything pumpkin or to actual hot spiced ciders.
As I drink more of it, I’ll add comments on brew time, temperature, and whether or not I’m able to brew more than one cup from the same bits. I know from past tea blends, temperature can make a huge difference with tea leaves and especially some spices, so it will be interesting to see what happens with this one.

Orange You Glad? (Stain Removers)

Orange Hand Cleaner from automotive supply stores can be the total bomb at getting out tough stains from clothing. You can even mix orange cleaners with hydrogen peroxide, right on the stain, for a total-mega cleaner like no other. 

First put a dollop of orange hand cleaner on the stain. Rub gently. Then spray* with (or pour) some hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) on top and on the back of the stain too. Again rub gently to mix it in a little. Wait about an hour and wash. If I have a stain that will not budge this combo is my last-resort, go-to power-duo. Simple, easy, economical, works.

Don’t get me wrong, rubbing laundry bar soaps like Zote or Fels Naptha also works wonders. But sometimes we need more than one tool in the ol’ stain-fighting toolbox. Actual soaps work by a different process than orange cleaners so while one might work great for some spots and stains the other may work better for others.

Have you ever pealed an orange only to discover that the ink from a sticker or stamp dissolves in the oils released from the peal of an orange? That’s the idea.

Other orange cleaners can be good too including “Grandma’s Secret Spot Remover,” but I find orange hand cleaners both work really well and are very economical.

They are extremely good at cutting through grease, oil, many kinds of paint, and sticky stuff like tar and adhesives. They are made to get thick, black automotive oil off of skin (which is a porous material when you think about it). 

Many of them contain pumice to help scrub away the dirt and stain. This can be helpful since all you need to do is rub very gently to power out even old stubborn stains, but you’ll also want to be careful that you don’t rub too hard and damage the fabric. When in doubt always test in a hidden location. Some orange hand cleaners are available in a smooth formula with no pumice or grit, so look for that if it’s an issue. Sometimes the Dollar Tree carries tubes of the non-gritty kind. And it’s only one dollar!

Since orange hand cleaners are good at removing adhesive, you’ll also find that many of them are good at removing the sticky residue left behind by price tags and labels on a variety of housewares.

Can be used for stains on carpets too but you will want to do a test spot and you’ll need to rinse/blot to remove all the cleaner from the carpet or it will leave a residue that will attract dust and new grime.

Not all orange hand cleaners from automotive stores are created equal. Some advertise themselves as being all natural and some contain petroleum distillates. Some say both natural and they contain petroleum distillates (like mineral spirits) so read the ingredients to know for sure. Technically petroleum does come out of the ground. Does that make it natural? If you have sensitive skin you might try the non-petroleum cleaner first. Either kind is “safe” for cleaning your hands as long as you rinse thoroughly. And you’d only be using a few dollops in a load of laundry. You may want to rinse twice if your skin is really sensitive.

Also even if you don’t do much in the way of working on your own automobile, it’s nice to have some of this stuff on hand for messy craft projects too.

There are lots of brands. Gojo and Fast Orange are two popular ones. There’s also Goop orange hand cleaner and  Puple Power Heavy Duty Orange hand cleaner. Right now I have Gojo and Purple Power to see which I like better.

*Some time after I posted how  peroxide in a spray bottle is great for stains I discovered that you can buy the H2O2 already in a spray bottle. I did not know. Well, fine. That works. It’s very handy. And you can refill that little spray bottle from a larger, cheaper bottle so all is good and right in the world. 

Autumn Pleasures

Day 10 of WordPress Writing 201: Poetry gives us sonnets with a prompt of pleasure and use of apostrophes.

I’m trying hard to get these done, and I finished this on my iPad just as we lost out Internet connection which was very frustrating. I lost most of what I wrote because the WordPress app on my iPad mini reverted to an earlier saved version. So I tried to reconstruct this the best I could. (Also the line breaks are all wonky now because I had to do it on my phone. Not sure how to get the line breaks right on the app on my phone. Maybe I can fix it later.)

Autumn Pleasures

My summer sun is fading.

Fear not, the autumn leaves are bright.

Green ones trading, upgrading, then parading.

Find a candle and a hoodie, winds are cool at night.

Grasshopper, still, in my tomato plant.

Do you seek food? Come, let me throw thee over.

Jump to flee me and enchant.

See you later. There’s more to try than clover.

Air of spices, leaves and cider, apples, homemade pies.

Blue and crisp, blows fabric ghosts and skeleton attire.

Hug me, warm me, carve our squash surprise.

Glows and flickers, marshmallow roasts on sticks afire.

Trees nestle roots deep in the still-warm earth.

Our blankets pay their worth.


Copyright 2015 Debora Kapke


While watering my balcony plants this morning I discovered I had a visitor. A grasshopper was perched high on my Celebrity tomato plant. (That’s the name of a hybrid tomato — it isn’t that my tomato plant is famous). We’re four flights up on this side of the building, so some of our balcony visitors are quite a surprise.

My first thought was, “oh cool, aren’t grasshoppers good luck?” Then my scientific brain kicked in. It said, “don’t think of it as so much of a lucky grasshopper think of it as more of a plague of locusts.” 

Thanks science brain — always there to burst my bubble. Grasshopper on the hearth — good luck. Locust on your crops — bad.

Grasshopper or locust — those things do eat plants. I know the frost will get my container garden soon anyway, but I don’t want my few tomatoes to get chomped on in the meantime. So I decide to take a few photos (he’s really cool looking) and then relocate my little intruder. 

Thinking I can just scoop him (or her) up with my hands and fling him over the railing of the balcony, I go for it. This startles the grasshopper, who can indeed hop very forcefully. He jumps off the plant, banging right into my chest as if to say, “back off, b****, this plant is mine.” 

I scream, loudly and flail my arms at my chest in case he’s still there. He is not. He apparently bounced right off my chest and back into my tomato plant. So now he’s still there, and I need to remove him.

I know at this point that using my hands is not the way to go. So I pick up two unused drainage dishes from nearby and use them to form a sort of clamshell over and under the grasshopper. It works very nicely. The makeshift clamshell holds just long enough that I can fling him over the side of the balcony. Since we’re four flights up, I’m not sure if he’ll survive. Never fear. That’s when he sprouts big fluttery wings and uses them to glide softly down — all the while looking back at me like, “you may have won this time but I’ll be back.”

Searching a bit online, I guess they are lucky in many Asian and Native American cultures. (It might be crickets on hearths that are considered lucky though. Meh, close enough. Probably better for all of us that I didn’t try to bring him inside. The cats would go wild!.) 

My search found this: Grasshopper Totem. It was actually cool to have him visit. And it just figures that a symbol of good luck visits my plant, and I rationalized that I should throw him over the balcony. Maybe I’m okay if he has a little nibble, he may have left some good-luck grasshopper poop, but I still don’t want him to eat much of my tomatoes. There’s plenty of stuff to eat down below.

Day 6, Face Laundry Found Poetry

Wow, I am really not good at poetry — writing or understanding it except maybe in picture form. Like, “wow, that sunrise was pure poetry.” See, I get that.

But this Writing 201: Poetry thing is really throwing me for a loop. Here we are on Day 7 Day 8 and I’m still working out days 2 through 6 7.

There are three poetry-y components to think about for every assignment. For day 6 of Writing 201: Poetry it’s “Faces, Found Poetry, Chiasmus.”

I’m a beginner here. I think my speed is set to one. I’m still trying to work out what “Chiasmus” means when, all of a sudden, we’re on the next assignment. Now I gotta figure out five new things and fold the laundry in the same day.

Chiasmus means:

A.) Christmas for Chia pets.

B.) Chalupa, a yummy food (topped with sprouted chia seeds?).

C.) Another word for Chupacabra, a scary animal in Latin America that sucks goats.

D.) An inverted relationship between the syntactic elements of parallel phrases, an inverted crossing.

Haiku is my speed. I know what syllables and lines of text are. Yay! But I think I ignored the “alliteration” part of the Haiku assignment. My brain just skipped right over that. I kind of know what alliteration is. I had that in school back in the day. So maybe a little alliteration got into my haiku but it was purely my subconscious brain making itself heard. I think I alliterate by accident a lot.

So maybe going forward with these assignments I can just skip parts of the assignment when my brain wanders off. That is my current plan. Otherwise I’ll be stuck forever in a poetry world that exists only of haiku. (Which isn’t exactly the worst place to be. I like haiku. But I should venture out more.)

Here’s something for Day 6 which involves “found” poetry. It seems a lot easier to just find poetry stuff than to start from scratch. I find unexpected things all the time— sometimes in the laundry.

So I’m just going to Google “face laundry” (as in I can’t face laundry right now), and then I’ll find a poem and maybe eat a Chalupa for lunch. That counts, right?

Dang, “Skin Laundry,” shows up in the first and second spot of my search. What the heck is skin laundry? Do I want to know? I’m just going to use the first few lines of each search result (more or less). OK, then. Here’s my poem.

Face Laundry

Skin laundry. Nearest laundry. Skin laundry stamp. Find a laundry near you.

Shop. Skin laundry.

I tried skin laundry, the “drybar of skincare.”

Express beauty service: Sure, it’s fast, but are the results long-lasting …

Chinese laundry women’s face off bootie: shoes.

New ‘skin laundry’ clinic wants to dry-clean your face.

Chinese laundry face off.

Face laundry, laundry your face.


(The last line is my chiasmus. I think.)




Not Done Yet, The Tomato & Pepper Edition 

I picked two newly ripened Patio tomatoes yesterday morning. There are several varieties of green ones left, and about five tiny green ones that just started on my Celebrity tomato plant. So, hopefully, it’s not over yet. All the rain and cool temperatures the week before last had me worried.

There are a bunch of jalapeño peppers that just started growing too. 

I don’t know if the new little green tomatoes or peppers will fully grow and ripen — probably not. But I hope the get some size before a hard freeze hits us.

I picked some of my green tomatoes before Hurricane Joaquin hit or, more accurately, didn’t hit here.

I may fry a couple but what I did with some of them was dice them and add them to a mix of hot peppers in vinegar and spices. So, yes, I pickled them. They were a really nice surprise. They’re tart, spicy hot from the peppers, and have a nice crunch. I could see adding this mix to many types of food for a nice pop of flavor.

Also I picked most of my ripe tobasco peppers and put them in vinegar. They are beautiful colors — yellow greens to yellow orange and finally reds. This variety is so juicy it’s almost like tiny bottles of hot pepper sauce grow right on the plant. Even the stems and “caps” easily pop right off a ripe pepper. There’s no need to cut them. They pack a wollop! 

One Possible Future, With Trees

Here I am — already one week into this thing called “the future” that our Day-20 assignment, from WordPress Writing 101, asked us to look toward. I’m a veritable time traveler. Look out world! Bam!

I still have more posts both to finish and to start. Some from Blogging U. and some that I just want to do. I expect this to be the case for a while longer. Possibly a long long time.

First there are ideas. Then starting to write. And then finishing a post or story…

All that life stuff keeps happening too — feeding the foundation, pumping fluids, circulating air.

It’s a cycle kind of shaped like a Christmas tree for me – lots of ideas form the wide bottom, somewhere in the middle I have all the stuff I’ve started. At the top are the those I’ve finished — this section is a little sparse. But if I plant enough trees and help them grow, hopefully I can keep some alive and some might thrive and maybe I’ll even manage to put a shiny star on top once in a while. (Then I’ll just have to manage to take it down before February, right? Oh, wait.)

I’m happy when I manage to finish a blog post and even happier when I finish a story. So going forward that’s what I’ll continue to aim for. More of both with special emphasis on stories. I’m even working on a schedule for myself.

Along the way, I look forward to gatherings of friends and family, old and new.

Way in the future, perhaps I can look back at my little Christmas tree farm and remember each one with fondness — even the ones that twisted and turned unexpectedly. And hopefully I’ll manage it all well enough that the laundry still gets done, some of the fish survive (gotta pick your battles), and the cats and humans in our family are happy and fed.

The cats do love to play with Christmas trees. The humans like them too (just not quite so much February to September … Or maybe October.)

Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer Revisited

It’s that time of year when warm days fade into cool. Colors turn orange, Brown, and red. And pumpkin spice everything can be found just about everywhere. It’s great if you like pumpkin spice! And may be tiring if you don’t. 

There are more pumpkin-spice-flavored products than ever — it’s invading practically everything edible (and some not so edible)! To name just a few, there are M&Ms, cake mix, potato chips, breakfast cereal, Greek yogurt, and Oreo cookies! (The Chobani pumpkin spice Greek yogurt is surprisingly good.) 

As WordPress Writing 101’s Day 16 Assignment is to “Search your stats for a post idea” this is a perfect time to revisit my Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer review from 2013. I’ve noticed those search terms popping up in my stats again lately. 

That review is here:

Pumpkin spice coffee creamer review from 2013

I love actual pumpkin pie and pumpkin bread and so does my daughter. We also like the spice in other things but it depends on what and on the spice blend itself. I can get sick of it. No thank you to pumpkin spice steak for example. Or maybe yes? Hmm, I might actually try that.

This year I’m revisiting two supermarket coffee creamers and adding two new ones. 

  • International Delight: Pumpkin Pie Spice 
  • Coffee-mate: Pumpkin Spice
  • Target’s Market Pantry brand: Pumpkin Pie Coffee Creamer 
  • Coffee-mate’s Natural Bliss: Pumpkin Spice 

The last two are new to the party. Good news — gone are the hydrogenated oils and fats of previous years’ coffee creamers! This is great if you watch the types of fat you ingest, and you should. Also gone is the corn-syrup sweetener. All four of these sweeten with actual sugar. (There are sugar-free versions of many of these too.) 

Three of them have the same 35 calories per serving with 15 of those calories from fat. The Target MP version has only 30 calories per serving with only 10 calories from fat.

International Delight: Pumpkin Pie Spice

Pumpkin spice is usually a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and ginger. My review from 2013 stated that International Delight’s offering was heavy on the ginger so that their Pumpkin Pie Spice coffee creamer tasted more like ginger bread. While I can still taste the ginger in their mix, this year’s seems somewhat less gingery and more balanced. I like this one overall. It isn’t as strongly spiced as Coffee-mate Pumpkin Spice. It’s fairly good when poured directly into coffee or tea and I don’t feel like I have to doctor it much if at all. I’m not too sick of it by the time I get to the bottom of my cup. The oil in it is palm oil which makes it nicely creamy but not too oily and filmy on my tongue. This is tied for first place as far as I’m concerned. Dave likes this one second best.

Coffee-mate Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer

This one HAD partially-hydrogenated oils in its 2013 offering. I’m happy to say that the 2015 version no-longer lists hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated oils in the ingredients. It has what I consider to be the most classic pumpkin-pie flavor of all of them. When I taste it, that’s exactly what I taste — pumpkin pie spice. As it was in 2013, this is still the heaviest on the spice flavor! It is so strong that I can’t put much of it into my coffee or tea without making it too spicy.  That’s easy to fix though — if you want really creamy coffee that isn’t as spicy just add some extra plain or vanilla creamer or even real milk or cream. It’s nice if you want to add flavor while keeping your beverage light on the sweet creaminess. A little dab will do ya! The strong spice is also good if you want to experiment with mixing flavors like pumpkin spice with caramel. It really holds up. So it has advantages and disadvantages. The texture of it is a typical coffee creamer effect. This is also tied for first place as far as I’m concerned. This is third in Dave’s opinion. It’s too spicy to him.

Target’s Market Pantry brand: Pumpkin Pie Coffee Creamer

I was happy to see this as an option this year, but I’m not that crazy about it. While lowest in calories and fat, it is the thickest creamer of all. The spice flavor isn’t bad. It’s slightly heavy on the ginger, but a pretty good blend. The problem is that it’s almost  cloyingly sweet and my tongue feels a coated after a cup. It’s weird that it’s so thick yet lowest in fat, so there must be something in it to give it more body. This backfires. I’m ready to be done by the time I get to the bottom of my cup (or even sooner). If you like really sweet, thick creamers, lighter on the spice flavor then you might really like this one though. The oil in it is sunflower oil which is actually a good thing so I wish I liked it more. This one is tied for second or last for me. Dave, who doesn’t like incense or scented candles, likes this one the best!

Coffee-mate’s Natural Bliss: Pumpkin Spice

I was excited about this one because the ingredients are so simple and awesome: nonfat milk, heavy cream, sugar, and natural flavor. That’s it! The blend itself isn’t bad, but it comes off little hodgepodge and maybe a bit heavy on the ginger and nutmeg. Not so much nutmeg that it tastes like eggnog though. It has more of a fresh-ginger taste as opposed to the others which seem like more of a dried-ground-ginger taste. Maybe that’s what bothers me. I like fresh ginger but that’s not what’s normally found in pumpkin pies. This one has a strange aftertaste too. I like it okay but I definitely don’t love it. This one is tied for second or least favorite for me. It is last on Dave’s list.
This year’s Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte is supposed to contain actual pumpkin flavor! I haven’t tried it yet. (I’ll have to fix that soon.) In previous years it was just a creamy spiced drink topped with whipped cream and chock-full-o calories. You can purchase an entire bottle of supermarket coffee creamer for the same price as one sweet beverage from Starbucks. While the Starbucks version was very yummy in the past, I still like the convenient budget- friendly option of a flavored coffee creamer for home.
There you have it, supermarket coffee creamer offerings for 2015! These are found with the other refrigerated coffee creamers in many grocery stores. Some even have special holiday-creamer displays. They’re a fun, seasonal offering for coffee, tea, or even flavoring plain milk and grown-up beverages. Enjoy!

Screen Haiku

I signed up for WordPress Writing 201: Poetry. Poetry isn’t my usual forte, but I’m looking forward to trying something new. Mostly I’d wanted to do more with Writing 101 and Blogging 201 that I haven’t finished yet. So Writing 201 may be my penitence. No, it’s not that bad — probably not that bad anyway. It may even be lots of fun, so I’m keeping an open mind. I like the first assignment!

Write a haiku on screens — mostly computer screens but other screens like those in windows are okay too. Sun screen? Security screen? Really, I’m fine with computer or digital device screens so here’s my haiku:

Screen Haiku

It glows and it knows.

It may interrupt your sleep.

Ping ping ping, I look.

Bonus haiku!

Not being much of

A poetry type, I like

Haiku since it’s short.

Is there supposed to be punctuation in haiku? I’ll have to look it up. In the meantime, I’m leaving it in.


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