Friday Five

1. My assignment: Pumpkin cheesecake bars. My mission: To make even the pumpkin avoiders at our Thanksgiving festivities say, “Yum!”

How did I win them over? I made two deviations from the traditional cheesecake. I used flour for the crust instead of graham crackers, which held up better in bar form, and I made topping of pecans mixed with maple syrup and brown sugar.

I got two thumbs up from the kid contingent – even the ardent chocoholics. One even asked for seconds. High praise from an 8 year old.

2. The one where I get crazy at the doctor’s office. I went to my doctor for my annual check-up. Everything went smoothly. The doctor was even sort of on time. I made my insurance co-payment and left the office. Later, in talking with a co-worker, I discovered that the co-payment was an error. Through my insurance plan, this visit should have been free of charge. The doctor’s office is a few blocks from work, so I figured I’d go iron it out in person.

The billing clerk told me that she charges everyone that amount and then credits the accounts. That might be fine and dandy except for one important point:

“Let me see if I understand. You take co-payments that you’re not supposed to take and then don’t tell people that they have this so-called credit? So what happened to the hundreds of dollars of co-payments I’ve made over the years I’ve been a patient at this office?

“If you ever have a charge your insurance company won’t cover, we have this little credit building here and we’ll just use that. It’s a win-win situation.” She blew a bubble with her gum.

Um…does anyone else see this as dishonest? Isn’t honesty in the, say, top three character traits you want your doctor to have? I smiled as patiently and politely as possible. I asked for a refund which she patently refused.

Have you ever had a similar situation? 

3. Getting something they are sure to love. Finding gifts for my parents is like finding cellulite on Gisele Bundchen. The days of wrapping up my macaroni artwork are long gone. Every time an idea pops into my head, it’s something they either already have or something I’ve already given  them. How many times can I give my stepdad a tie? (No. Really. I’m asking.)

But this Christmas is different. This Christmas I’ve thought of a great gift they will enjoy, something they can use and won’t stuff in the closet only to bring out when I’m in town. When I was visiting over the summer, I noticed that their coffee maker was on its last legs. So I bought a model with a grinder, a frother and a timer.  This thing does everything except make your bed in the morning, and it might even do that. (I never read the manuals.)

Then I was talking to my mom last week, and she was excited. She’d thought of a great gift for my stepdad, something he’d enjoy, something he won’t stuff into the back of the closet. Yep – a Keurig coffeemaker. Back to the drawing board.

4. While we’re on the subject of the holidays, here is one of my favorite holiday photos. I took this a few years ago when I was working at Rockefeller Center.

5. Nothing gets me in a good mood like The Muppets. Check out this video with The Muppets taking on the classic Ringing of the Bells. It’s silly and fun. Even if you’ve already seen it, it’s sure to put a smile on your face.



  1. Three of my favorite muppets all together- oh wait – 5 of my favorite characters! Love it!
    The insurance thing is crazy, Jackie. I don’t understand how they can rationalize such a thing.
    The picture is lovely. Not sure ’bout ideas for the parents. A new coffee mug, perhaps? Oh… a year supply of gourmet coffee?


    1. I *heart* The Muppets. I can’t get enough of them. The word addicted is rather strong, but appropriate.
      Love your idea about the year supply of coffee! 🙂


  2. Thank you for a lovely post that put a smile on my face, except for the dishonesty of the copay stuff. Seriously, I don’t understand insurance. It seems I’m always paying money and they never actually pay anything. I don’t get it.

    Love the Muppets. Extra love the photo. That’s gorgeous. I agree with Lenore, a year supply of gourmet coffee sounds good.


    1. Me neither, Lisa. It always seems that just when I think I have the insurance figured out, I get another curve ball.

      That is one of my favorite photos. I’m not a fabulous photographer so when something turns out well, I can’t help but want to frame it.


  3. What a delicious post–so much in it–and those pictures, scrumptious! I miss NY so much at the holidays–from the day of Macy’s parade on up through the New Year–the city is such a magical place.

    I’m with you on the Muppets, dear. I just learned that Netflix is streaming one of my very favs, Emmet Otter’s Jugband Christmas! Let the season begin!
    PS: Olive wants to know how Reggie’s leftover stash is holding up…


    1. NY during the holidays is wonderful! Really magical, if I may use that word.

      In the spirit of the season, Reggie shared some of his leftovers with Kitty, his neighborhood stray cat friend. Kiitty graciously accepted the leftovers with a nod to dear Olive.


  4. Can’t say that I have ever had the experience you outline in number 2, but it’s wrong, dishonest, and then some. I would be pissed, too.

    By the way, in my post today I announce new additions to my blogroll, and you made the list. (Hope you can tolerate the GLORY! LOL) Sorry I have not gotten around to adding you sooner.



    1. Why, thank you so much, Kathy! I’m really flattered that you would include me in that illustrious list. I’m sitting up a little straighter at my computer. 🙂
      Have a wonderful weekend, friend!


    1. Every year I play gift roulette. I have no idea what to get them.
      I’m glad you liked The Muppets. They never fail to put a smile on my face. 🙂


  5. Enjoyed the Muppets, Jackie.
    The insurance thing makes my blood boil. (Do you think I’ll have to go to the Dr. for that?)
    What to get the parents is always the worst…absolute torture. Lenore’s suggestion is brilliant…I’d go with it.
    Have a great weekend!


    1. Lenore’s idea really was superb. I have to see if there are any coffee-a-month companies. Of course I’ll have to give Lenore a kickback.
      The insurance thing drives me bonkers too. I think I’ll just find a medicine man and call it a day.

      Hope you have a wonderful weekend too!


  6. That’s an awesome photo, Ms. C. (I so have to visit NYC some day)!
    I really enjoyed the Muppet clip, too. It reminds me of the Tarzan,Tonto & Frankenstein Christmas Carol skit from Saturday Night Live… hilarious!


    1. Thank you, SIG! I take that as very high praise indeed as I love your photos.
      I’m looking out my office window at the Chrysler Building as I type. 🙂
      Have a great weekend.


    1. Thanks, Carole! You take so many great photos, I’m pleased that you like this one.
      I have a “dispute” with the doctor’s office, but it’s not such a big amount luckily.


  7. I’ve never had cheesecake in my life… I’ve heard the English have it as well but we Continental Europeans are less familiar with it.
    That Christmas photo is very nice. I like it a lot.
    Our Health Care System is completely different from the US, so, no this has never happened to me and couldn’t.
    Hehe…The Muppets…
    I broke my coffee machine this morning – Saturday morning!
    Being the real coffee addict I am I always have a solution even if I have to do it the Arabic/Greek/Turkish way… So, I’m on a mission later today…


    1. Caroline,you’re in luck. I have a coffee maker I could part with!
      If you ever come across cheesecake in your travels, I hope you can get a slice. There is a version using cream cheese and a version using ricotta cheese which is a favorite in Italian American communities.


  8. I have never encountered the co-pay thing with insurance so can only say that it appears to me to be totally dishonest! I think you should take it up with the Practice Manager and if that fails go to the Doctor or even higher. Yes – when something annoys me, such as this, I will stand up and be counted.
    As for Christmas present for your folk – I think a year’s supply of their favourite coffee would be great but don’t give it all at once please give them vouchers to redeem on a monthly basis. Double benefit – they get fresh coffee and you get a whole year of monthly thanks.


    1. I agree about speaking with the doctor. I know the cost is small in the grand scheme of things, but I feel there is the principle of the matter.
      Great suggestion, Judith! I wonder if there is a “coffee of the month” club.


  9. “Finding gifts for my parents is like finding cellulite on Gisele Bundchen.” That just might be the funniest thing I’ve heard all year!
    Your doctor sounds like a crook to me! If it wasn’t such a nightmare to find a new doctor and all that goes along with it, I’d say, “See you later, alligator.”
    It must have been magical working at Rockefeller Center during the holidays. I’m envious.


    1. NYC is pretty wonderful during the holidays, Nancy. Thank you for reminding me of that. It’s easy to take it for granted when you live here.


  10. That’s some “logic” that billing clerk has! I wonder whether she uses the funds as her personal piggy bank too?

    I so know what you mean about it being difficult to find gifts for your parents (or anybody else you don’t see for long periods). Luckily for me when I went to take care of my mother (after her op) I saw lots of things in her house that need replacing or updating.


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