Category Archives: Yummy food

Making pasta

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Making pasta

Sometimes, it’s pretty cool to make things just to prove to yourself that you can do it. I see ideas and always think, “I can do that.” Guess what… With Youtube, Pinterest, and Google, you can. Everything you ever wanted to know how to do, learn, or make, is easy to find. Anyone can easily learn how to do anything from installing a toilet, to re-wiring a chandelier, to making pasta. The only thing holding people back is time! And, unfortunately sometimes energy… But, I have a growing list of things I want to do someday, and on some days, a little extra energy. So, today’s item crossed off of my bucket list is making pasta! 

I can’t believe how easy it is to do… Only two ingredients, flour and eggs. I also bought semolina flour, which is a courser flour used for pasta making, but from what I have read, you can just use all purpose flour, you don’t have to have semolina. My mother in law also sometimes uses whole wheat flower.

  

I had Sam helping me today because the boys were at another basketball tournament. We started by using a cup of all purpose flour, and we mixed in about 1/3 of a cup of semolina. Apparently the best way to mix the dough is with your hands on the countertop. So, we washed our hands and the counter top well before starting.  

We formed the four into a volcano shape with a crater in the middle, then we cracked three eggs into the middle.
  

Then came the messy part…. I wish I could share with you a special tip to reduce the amount of stickiness, and flour on the floor (other than avoiding help from an 11 year old) but I’m afraid you just have to get sticky and messy. Get your hands in there and start kneading!

 And kneading, and kneading…   

What we did find was that it was really lumpy and crumbly, and it didn’t look like the video we watched. So we watched another video where the person mixed it buy running it through that pasta roller… So we tried that, and after about 20 times through, we could see that worked a whole lot better. Here is what it looked like before….  

And after about 15-20 times through the roller… I could actually feel when it was ready because it became stretchy when you pulled it.   
   

 Once it is mixed enough that is has become stretchy, put it aside for at least 1/2 hour. We made three batches… I figured that once we had everything out and flour all over the place, we might as well get the most out of it… Go big or go home, right! I’m not quite sure why each batch looks slightly different colours at this stage, but by the time the pasta was finished, it all looked the same colour.    

You can kind of see in the picture below the dial on the side of the pasta machine. It has 7 different thicknesses. We started at 1, and rolled the dough through at least twice at each thickness. When the length of the sheets became too long, we cut it in half. So once again, a lot of rolling and rolling! Sam and I took turns, but the time we were finished, our arms were sore! My husband remembers that turning the crank for his mom, was his job as a child. Sam liked doing it, but it required a bit of strength until it thinned out.  

 Once we had it rolled out to the thinnest setting, we rolled it through the machine one last time through the cutter setting. 

   I dragged it through the flour…  
Then, laid it out on a cookie sheet. We made two batches of spaghetti…   
 And a batch of linguini…   
 The best part is that the pasta freezes beautifully. I just put the cookie sheets right into the freezer, and once they were frozen, I stacked them on top of each other in a Tupperware container.  
We were so excited about eating it, I totally forgot to take a picture, and it was all gone by the time I remembered!

 It only takes about 3-5 minutes to cook, and if it is frozen, put it right from the freezer to the boiling water. 

Overall, I don’t think I am going to give up using store bought pasta, but I definitely think I will make it again. It was a lot of work and muscle involved, but it would be a great idea to make for company because all the work can be done ahead of time. And, it really did taste far better than the store bought pasta. 

I’m working on making another video, so I’ll post the link when I finish it, and I will also update with a picture of the cooked pasta (if I remember to take a photo before it gets eaten again! Lol)

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Say Thank You With a Pumpkin!

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Say Thank You With a Pumpkin!

Wow, I can’t believe that it is the middle of October already! Time to post about some fall and Halloween projects!

It has been a crazy September and October with a lot going on, and I just haven’t had time to post lately. This project was a rushed one, and probably not the prettiest thing I have ever made. But we needed a gesture to show the nurses at St. Michaels Hospital that we appreciated their work… 

I stopped by Michaels Craft Store on the way home and picked up a couple fake pumpkins, some plant picks, and a bunch of candy. 

 

Here is a close up of the plant picks… I have never used them before, but they made things a lot easier. They were basically a thick tooth pick with a wire attached.  
  I started by drilling a bunch of holes in the pumpkin  

Then, I started with the bottom holes, and added a couple rows of lollipops.  

Then, I used a piece of tape to attach the plant picks to the Kit Kat bars….  

And continued working my way up the pumpkin…  

Adding Coffee Crisp, Aero, some Rockets, and finally Smarties. I also filled up a few of the bald or empty spots using some black curling ribbon, which you can kind of see in the picture.  

Then I drilled a few more holes on the bottom row and added some decorative leaves…  

Because it was a thank you to the nurses and doctors on the cardiac unit, I used this card as an inspiration and instead of saying “I love you with my whole heart” I wrote “we thank you with all of our hearts”   

Like I said, I wouldn’t say it was my prettiest gift ever, but it was easy enough that I would do again… I might just try to colour coordinate the treats more… Or use fruit, or even all the same toe of candy…

Anyways I better get going… Still haven’t decorated the outside of the house for Halloween yet! 

5 Minute Watermelon Fruit Flan

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5 Minute Watermelon Fruit Flan

   

So I saw this picture on pinterest, and thought “we can do that” (which by the way, I think about almost everything I see on Pinterest) but the difference is we actually tried this one…. The boys were away all week at camp, and we thought they needed a special dessert to come home to.

We bought a plain shell from the grocery store, as well as some raspberries, strawberries, kiwi, chocolate chips, and vanilla pudding. I think you are supposed to use custard, but I couldn’t find it ready-made in the grocery store, and didn’t want to have to buy and make it from the powder, or scratch… So I thought vanilla pudding would work just as well!   

So, we cracked open two pudding cups and spread them around.   

Then we peeled and sliced some kiwi, and placed them nicely around the edge. It took two kiwis.   

Then we cut up strawberries and tried to place them so the skin was facing out.   

And we thought some raspberries would be yummy too, so we scattered them around.  

And we filled in the middle with strawberries.Then added chocolate chips for the seeds.      

The boys couldn’t tell that it was supposed to be a watermelon, but they were impressed anyways…I think it was easier to see the watermelon resemblance when it was sliced.    
And the most important thing was that it was yummy! 

Btw, I am just about finished the diningroom. Have also just redecorated Dylan’s room- working on a sports theme! Can’t wait to show you pics!

Yummy summer Pasta Salad

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Yummy summer Pasta Salad

it is our first year planting the garden in cedar boxes on the pool deck. Although we have a lot of space in our backyard, the pool deck is the only place where there is sun in the afternoon, and the only spot where the rabbits haven’t seem to have figured out yet….

So as you can see, most of the seeds I planted in the spring are doing really well… We will have a lot of tomatoes, cucucumbers and zucchini…

 

Every time I go out, we have a whole bunch of snow peas, ready to go! We have been eating them right off of the plant and steaming them, but sometimes they are a little tough or stringy. So, one of my favourite ways to eat them is in a pasta salad. Plus, we have so many visitors over the summer, I always keep a couple salads in the fridge just in case! 

 Start by cutting off the tops and bottoms, and getting rid of any of the stringy bits you can, then, cut them into smaller pieces, 4 or 5 pieces each. I love adding them to pasta salad because I find that even if they are a little stringy or chewy, the smaller pieces, in combination with the pasta makes it barely noticeable..

 One of my favourite herbs is dill, and I am lucky that is seems to really grow well in our garden. So I picked a handful and chopped it into little pieces too…  I didn’t do such a great job of taking photos, but this isn’t an incredibly complicated recipe. I cooked a couple cups of pasta, added a couple tablespoons of olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, and lemon juice, and tossed it all together with the snow peas.  

Then, I thought it needed some colour, so I added some red pepper…     

That’s it. I find that it makes the best pasta salad when you mix everything together when the pasta is still warm, and put it in the fridge to cool. But, I always taste it before serving, as it may need a little more oil and vinegar added before serving. Enjoy! 

My day was just peachy!

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My day was just peachy!

We were lucky enough to be invited up to a cottage at the end of last week, and while we were up there, I found a flyer for a truckload delivery of Georgia peaches. They had scheduled deliveries in the area where you could buy a freshly picked box of peaches right off the truck… Sounds perfect, right? I know!

Anyways, I showed up at 10:00, picked up my peaches, and the woman said to leave them at room temperature for two days, then they would be ready to eat. So that’s exactly what I did… We got home from the cottage, unpacked, and had people over Saturday and Sunday, then yesterday, I suddenly realized that I had this huge box of ripe peaches that needed to be used….immediately. Just peachy! But check them out, these were some beautiful peaches!

   

So I peeled, and cut up a whole bunch to freeze to make smoothies with….

   
I made two batches of peach jam…

  

And, I made banana and peach muffins…. 

I was pretty pleased with myself, until I took a closer look in the box…seriously? That barely made a dent! 

  
So I made three batches of canned peaches…

   

And, two more batches of jam, this time peach & cherry, and peach & strawberry… (Btw…starting to get a little tired of peaches, at this point I called in for some back up…lol… Couldn’t help posting this pic on facebook) 

   

And still lots of peaches left! So, I made two peach pies…
  
And still had some leftover for eating!

  
So, inbetween all of my peach baking, and preserving, we had workers in and out of our house working on our fireplaces, and company over! But I managed to use almost the entire box without throwing out an entire peach! 

Oh, I almost forgot, I also sold our diningroom set yesterday, so I am pretty committed now to finishing 8 more chairs, and a table I am picking up today…here is our diningroom now… 

 

Can’t wait to show you the updates…

I also took some detailed pics of making the canned peaches, and peach pie, so I will post recipes soon…you know, in all my free time lol. 

  
  

Quick, no time to wait for cupcakes to cool, marshmallow icing

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Quick, no time to wait for cupcakes to cool, marshmallow icing

Whenever the kids go over to friends houses, I always like to send a snack for them to share. Sometimes it’s a bag of chips, and sometimes it’s something that we have made. Depends on the kind of day we are having….

This morning before Sam went to a friends house, I decided to bake some cupcakes. But, somehow inbetween showering, giving John a haircut and making lunch, I left it to less than an hour before she was supposed to be there. So, I decided to try this idea of melting a marshmallow on top of the cupcake as the icing. I have seen it online and on Pinterest, so I thought I would try it. 

Here is another link with instructions Melted marshmallow icing

 

So, I made a regular batch of cupcakes, using my favourite family recipe. (A couple eggs, 1/4 cup of oil, some water and a box of Duncan Heinz!) I put them in the oven, and about 4-5 minutes before the cupcakes were finished baking, I took them out of the oven and put a marshmallow on top of each one. I actually only did half of the cupcakes, just in case this didnt’ work! No time to make another batch…

   

Here is what they looked like after a couple minutes….

  

A few of them started to topple over, so I used a wooden spatula to flatten and straighten them as they started to fall… 

And here is what they looked like fully melted, after about 4 1/2 minutes.

   

As you can see,me tried to add some sprinkles, but the marshmallows had a crispy coating, so the sprinkles rolled right off ­čśŽ 

   

But, they were really yummy. Gooey and stringy even when cooled! Not the prettiest cupcakes I have ever made, especially without the sprinkles, but as a timesaver when you are running late, I would do them again. I didn’t hear anyone complaining! 

 

Yummy homemade granola

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Yummy homemade granola

I tend to go on tangents sometimes. When I find a good idea, either creative, time saving, or yummy, I tend to run with it for a while. If you are a creative type person, you’ll understand, but if you are like my husband John, you might not get it… So my current tangent of home made granola started after I was given this recipe from a friend at work….Thanks Linda! 

I know she gave me a recipe, but I have made it a little differently each time since. But, the basic idea is the same. I used a variety of nuts and grains, about 1/2 cup each, of things like pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, hemp hearts, coconut, flax seeds. Then I have tried adding dried fruits such as apricots, blueberries, cranberries, apple slices, and raisins. Oh, and don’t forget a couple of cups of oatmeal, brown sugar, and coconut oil. 

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Start with about a cup of organic coconut oil. ´╗┐

I popped it in the microwave for a few seconds until it melted.

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Then I mixed everything together with about a cup and a half of brown sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla. It should sort of clump together once mixed well. I also tried the agave nectar, and maple syrup to sweeten it, but I think I like the brown sugar the best.

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After it is mixed well, spread it out on a cookie sheet. And pop it into a 325 degree oven. Here is what it looks like before…

And  here is what it looks like golden brown, after 15 minutes in the oven.  I baked my first batch at 350 degrees, but´╗┐´╗┐ I  found that it cooked much more evenly at 325 degrees. This might be because my oven is generally a little too hot, I always find my oven cooks better a few degrees cooler than the recipe says.

Another thing I learned was that if you are adding dried fruit such as raisins or cranberries, they do not need to cook the whole time. In my first batch, after the dried fruit cooled, they were a little too chewy for my taste. So, I tried mixing the nuts, grains, brown sugar and coconut oil, baked for about 10 minutes, until it started to brown….

Then I mixed in the dried fruit for the last 10 minutes´╗┐´╗┐ or so.´╗┐´╗┐

It is delicious! We have been eating it by the handful as a snack, with milk as a cereal, and as a topping for yogurt. ´╗┐

Now, I have to figure out what to do with the huge box of packaged granola John bought at Costco, because now that I have tried this, I don’t think I can eat the packaged kind any more! 

My Annual Better-than-Cadbury Easter eggs

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My Annual Better-than-Cadbury Easter eggs

I figured out the other day that I have made these eggs every year for probably 15 years. That tells you how good they are! They are not runny in the middle like Cadbury cream eggs, but I think they taste way better…plus now thay are sort of an expectation with friends and family. It’s nice to be wanted, even if it is just for my Easter eggs!

You need a can of condensed milk, a little less than a cup of butter, two teaspoons of vanilla, a pinch of salt, and about 10 cups of icing sugar.

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We melted the butter in the microwave for about thirty seconds, then mixed everything together in a really big bowl. In this case, Sam had a friend sleep over, so we split it into two. Did I mention that we started making these at 7:30 am after the sleepover? Yup. 

So, when the kids are mixing, it can get pretty messy, it takes a while to mix in all of the icing sugar. But after all of the icing sugar has been incorporated, it should be the consistency of play dough.   

See our nice, clean table? You should have seen the floor! Lol 

 

To make the yolks in the middle, take out about 1/4 of the mixture and add yellow food colouring. Btw, I don’t think I have ever go the ratio right… I always end up with a few all yellow eggs, or I have to mix more yellow! 

   

If you are using liquid food colouring, you will have to mix in some more icing sugar because it will get all wet and sticky. Mix in the yellow food colouring a few drops at a time until the yolk is the colour you want.

I gave the girls the job of rolling the yolks. You can really make these eggs as big or as small as you want. I like to make them smaller because then I can eat twice as many. Also, they are very sweet and rich tasting…makes sense considering they are literally made of basically sugar and butter.

  

Then, to make the egg white, you basically flatten a piece of the white mixture, put the yellow yolk in the middle, and wrap the white around.    

Then roll it around in the palm of your hand to make it egg shaped and smooth.

 

I had the girls roll a bunch of the yolks, and I broke off a bunch of pieces of white, rather than making them one at a time. This makes it much easier to make them a uniform size.

   

When the eggs were formed, we put them out on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, then put them in the fridge to cool for an hour. Man, I would love one of those fridges with a pull out drawer. Trying to fit three full cookie sheets of eggs into our fridge takes a bit of skill! We ended up making over 100 eggs from the recipe. If you make them small, it makes a lot!

 

After about an hour in the fridge, we took them out and melted some milk chocolate. I’m not going to lie, this part is a little tricky. If you put the eggs right into the chocolate, they get all slippery and melt, and end up a weird shape. So I use two spoons, one to hold the egg, and the other one to spread the chocolate over.

   

Then, tap about 10 times to get of all of the excess chocolate, and lay it carefully on the cookie sheet.

  

This year, we decided to use colourful sprinkles. Sam, my sprinkle girl, has the sprinkle technique perfected, so she added all of the sprinkles after I did the dipping. Then they need to cool down in the fridge again for about an hour.  

I used mini cupcake holders to put them in….    

 

I also dug up some cute little boxes. The kids wanted to share and I brought some into work.

Here is the platter I brought to easter dinner at my mom’s yesterday…

   

As you can see, I added some chocolate dipped pretzels around the outside, which the kids thought looked like a nest.

 

Here is what they look like from the inside… I guess it would simplify thing a lot if you skipped the yolk, but isn’t the yolk cute?

Anyways, to those who celebrate, Happy Easter! 

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Chocolate dipped stuff!

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Chocolate dipped stuff!

We were having a potluck lunch at work, and I signed up for dessert thinking that I would spend some time on Pinterest, and find an impressive and delicious, yet surprisingly easy home baked dessert to make. But by the night before the potluck, on my way driving home, I realized that I had no idea what to make. So, in order to avoid having to make an additional trip out to the grocery store, I decided to stop on the way home. After a quick trip down the baking aisle, I decided that I was going to find some stuff to dip in chocolate. Quick, easy, and delicious… How can you go wrong dipping stuff in chocolate?

So, I picked up some two bite brownies, Oreo cookies, pretzels, and twizzlers.

I melted some chocolate in my double broiler (or my Pyrex bowl that fits over my sauce pan, but double broiler sounds better) I have tried numerous times to melt chocolate right in the sauce pan, but every time I try, it cooks too fast, and goes clumpy, or seizes. So, I filled a saucepan 3/4 the way full with hot water then put a bowl on top, and melted the chocolate in there.

I did the dipping, and Sam was my sprinkles girl. 

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We dipped a bunch of twizzlers , pretzel sticks, and I still had a lot of leftover chocolate, so I dug up some more pretzels, and kept on dipping until I scraped the bowl clean.


I almost forgot to mention that you should use parchment paper on a cookie sheet to make sure the chocolate doesn’t stick. The chocolate comes right off, and I even can reuse the paper a couple times for stuff like chocolate dipping. 

´╗┐´╗┐When I finally used up all of that chocolate, I melted some white chocolate chips, and dipped the brownies and Oreo cookies. It actually was pretty easy to do when you are only dipping half of the cookie and you have something to hold on to. I let each cookie sheet cool in the fridge for about an hour before trying to move them. 

´╗┐´╗┐I put them all on a fancy tray, and voila, instant dessert. Considering by the end of lunch, there were no leftovers, I think they went over pretty well.

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´╗┐´╗┐Plus, I had some extra pretzels that I just couldn’t fit on the platter, that we had to eat.

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Easy peasy! The neat part about these are that you can change the sprinkles according to the season. Red and green sprinkles for Christmas, orange for Halloween, etc. 

yummy. 

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Sappy to Sweet… The Maple Syrup experiment-step 2

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Sappy to Sweet… The Maple Syrup experiment-step 2

So if you read my last post, this weekend we tapped into two maple trees on our property, and started collecting sap, one drip at a time.

Link to collecting sap from our Maple trees

When I woke up yesterday morning, I would be lying if I said that I didn’t run right outside (yes, in my PJ’s) to check my sap buckets. The one in the backyard was about halfway full! But, the one in the front only had about an inch. Overall, I would say there was about 5-6 litres. Here was the overnight haul, it’s hard to see, because the sap looks as clear as water, but the smaller pot was from the tree in our front yard.

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I used a coffee filter to pour the sap through.

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´╗┐As you can see, there were a lot of little bits of sediment at the bottom of the pot.

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I poured in about 6-8 cups of sap, then I turned on the stove at a medium heat and let it boil and boil….

´╗┐´╗┐And boil some more. And more. Note: I kept the stove/range fan on for most of the day as I have heard that the amount of moisture produced can do some damage to your house!

Kind of ironic, but I was thinking about going to a local sugar bush to see maple syrup being made with friends yesterday, but I couldn’t because I had to watch the pot boil. Watching a pot boil all day is actually not as much fun as you might think. Lol

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I kept adding more sap as it reduced. I used a spoon to roughly measure, and everytime it reduced by half, I poured it a little more sap. I never let it get lower than about an inch. You can see in the below picture how it started changing colour and getting a little darker as it reduced. The smaller pot on the right was my boiling pot. 

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It only took about 6 hours to reduce it…here is what it looked like towards the end.

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You are supposed to use a thermometer to determine when the syrup is ready, but to be totally honest, by the time there was only about a centimeter left in the pot, I just couldn’t let any more boil away. I figured if it reduced any more, there wouldn’t even be enough for all of us to have on our pancakes. I thought it was better to have more syrup, even if it was runny syrup. Better runny than none!

At the bottom of the pot, there was some more sediment, so I strained it again through a coffee filter…

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So, this is what 5 litres of sap turned into:

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Liquid gold! I have to say, that I have a whole new appreciation for Maple Syrup now. God help anyone in my house who wastes a drop of maple syrup from now on! 

My friend dropped by late afternoon, and picked us up some syrup from the sugar bush, and we laughed at the tiny bottle, but in comparison, it doesn’t look so tiny!´╗┐´╗┐

Just to give you some perspective, the pot was 3/4 full with sap, and this is the bottle of syrup it produced.´╗┐

So, let me give you a quick summary….

– About $40 in supplies, including the spigots, buckets, tubes, an´╗┐´╗┐d drill bit

-About 10 hours to collect the sap

-About six hours of boiling time to reduce the sap to syrup

So, $40 plus 16 hours to make 1/2 a cup. Wow! 

But, the experience of now being able to say that I tapped our trees and made maple syrup´╗┐´╗┐ from scratch….. Priceless! 

We did a taste test this morning with our signature chocolate chip pancakes…

Ms. Butterworts vs. The real maple syrup vs. Our maple syrup! 

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It was pretty hard not to be a little biased here… But our syrup go four out of four votes (or at least no one dared to vote otherwise)

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As you can see, it was a success. We still have quite a bit left after our morning pancakes … We could try making taffy, but I don’t know if I can bring myself to boil it down any more! 

So, I can check this off my bucket list. The problem is that my bucket list keeps getting longer… Isn’t it supposed to get shorter as you get older? I need to retire soon!