Looking at Toothbrushes

Although I do not like to go to the dentist, I make it a point to go every 6 months for a cleaning and check-up. I went. The best hygienist in the world, Teri, cleaned my teeth and took bite wing radiographs. I do not have any cavities. I had some heavier tartar buildup between my teeth. My gingival sulci and a couple of places are deeper than before. We chatted. She asked me if I had changed something, anything, since my last checkup. I mentioned that I got a new toothbrush of a type I’d never had before. It was a gift from a friend (one I’ve known for 35 years) because her dentist had recommended it and she wanted to share the wonders of this toothbrush – the Oral-B Ultra Dense Bristles to remove plaque. The first time I used the Oral-B toothbrush my teeth felt so smooth! It was that amazing smoothness that makes you want to run your tongue all over your teeth. My first reaction was “Oh Baby! My teeth feel so clean!” It was several days later when I had had blueberries that I discovered a problem. I always brush, then floss. When I floss it mostly feels like a waste of time since I don’t see any difference. Well, I flossed and removed a ton of blueberry seeds that were jammed between my teeth that the brushing missed. Soon I realized that no matter how well or how long I brushed, there was always something that only the floss would get. So my hygienist squinted at me. She wears bifocals so at first I thought she was just focusing. Then she pursed her lips. Turning away she muttered and finally said that the dentist would be in to speak to me. After he poked around in my mouth and pulled my tongue in every direction as if trying to loosen it from its attachments, he pronounced my teeth good. BUT he said that my choice in toothbrushes was not the best. He explained that the brush I was using was best used as a “polishing” brush mostly for removal of coffee-type stains on the outer surface of teeth. He suggested that Teri discuss my options for better oral hygiene. Grrr. Teri’s first recommendation was a Sonicare toothbrush. Of course they just happen to keep them in stock and have them available for a mere $160 (after the $35 rebate) not counting tax. The model she showed me had blue tooth connection so you can track the areas of your mouth that need more attention on your phone, 5 modes, 3 power intensity settings, 4 different types of heads, a built-in alarm if you push too hard and an automatic stop if the pressure exceeds the limit. Oh and tongue care and gum massage! It sounds great but I don’t know if spending $200 for the brush and then having to spend $35 (the discounted on line price) for replacement heads annually is justifiable in my budget. Option 2 was a free sample toothbrush, the Colgate Wave. I was given 2 of them. One (pictured below) is the standard soft bristle Wave. This has multi-level bristles to get between teeth (unlike the one I was using) and will supposedly get my teeth cleaner. The other one was the Colgate Wave Gum Comfort. It has many of the same features but has ultra soft bristles. Hmm – $200 or free… Teri did say that I could still use the ultra dense bristle toothbrush AFTER I used the other one if I wanted to polish my teeth. So I’m going to use the new toothbrush and keep the dense bristle one for a once a week polishing. It is the affordable option and I’ll see if my gingival sulci improve at my next appointment. If not, then I’ll jump for the Sonicare. My sister swears by hers….

This post is not meant as an endorsement or criticism of any products pictured. It is merely a description of my personal experiences and opinions.

Advertisements

Looking Jumbled

The ceramics studio started the summer session May 28th and I didn’t sign up. Instead I waited to enroll in the shorter 6 week course that started Wednesday – sort of. I’ll explain that in a bit. It is entirely OK with me that I decided to delay my class because I haven’t shared most of what I produced this last session. The studio management has been conducting “research” to determine the average output for students. I’m pretty sure that my output will be well below the threshold. The people who work on the wheel turn out at least 6 bowls/vases/mugs a night where I’m hard pressed to complete a single orb per class. We’ve been emailed yet another message assuring us that they haven’t come to a decision and are still gathering data. The last message also assured us that there would be lots of forewarning for any changes. We were asked to come to the studio management with any concerns “to avoid miscommunication and rumors that can fuel anxiety and negativity.” Really. These are the same folks that shortened the sessions from 10 weeks to 8 weeks but kept the price the same. These are the same ones who increased the fees and included 25 pounds of clay and a year later took the clay away but didn’t reduce the fees. These are the same folks who reduced the number of glazes and took 5 years to fix the sink faucets. They had 12 wheels but only 5 were working properly and it took them 2 years to fix them. In the interim a generous ceramics student donated 3 brand new wheels but they reserved them for instructor demonstrations (until the student and her lawyer husband made a stink).

The most recent “improvement” was to offer a 3 week extension to the last session for only $100! Currently an 8 week session with the member discount costs $152. I may not be a math whiz but 3 sessions for $100 is too pricey for me! Anyway there are many students with jumbled opinions and emotions. Also I was informed that I had to remove all my stuff from my shelf – for cleaning. My shelf is clean. I have lots of stuff. I don’t want to have to cart it all the way to the parking lot and home and then get assigned a new shelf. The last time I was assigned a shelf they put me on the top shelf. I had to stand on a chair to get to my things. I’m too old for that.

This summer they offered a 6 week course that I signed up for. The first session was Wednesday night. I had received an email a few weeks ago that indicated that there were only 4 students enrolled and that if additional students didn’t join it might be cancelled. Without any further communication I assumed the class was being held. I arrived a few minutes before class to discover the studio locked. Long story short, the instructor had a family emergency and the class may not happen. There was no communication and so far no indication refunds will happen. I was able to have an open studio night with the other 3 women in the class… Not too happy about the whole thing.

This is a slightly jumbled orb. It was supposed to be a monocyte covered in antibodies but it looks more like a glob of tapeworms. I glazed it in Yellow Salt. The yellow salt when applied thinly should have a variegated look in browns. When applied thickly it has a creamy yellow color reminiscent of pus. If you didn’t catch on, I’m not too pleased with how this one turned out.

Looking at the Purge

It is nearly 90 degrees outside and the humidity level is hovering at 80% – it is miserable in the sun. It is 78 degrees inside in the upstairs and the humidity is still high because the bathroom fan doesn’t do much to remove the steam from the morning showers. Spring took her merry time arriving and abruptly packed her bags to make way for summer. Summer wasn’t due until June 21st but some how arrived before the end of May. And I haven’t completed my spring cleaning! Spring is usually, traditionally, the time to do the big top to bottom deep cleaning of the home. I know why. It is because the weather is mild and there is a slight breeze and a freshness to the air (just a hint of floral fragrance) so that you can throw open the windows and the doors and air the place out. The bugs haven’t had time to move from larvae to winged pests.

Warm spring transition
Awakens flowers and bugs
Pollen and flies swirl

I have been working on doing my annual purge of the closets. I took 3 big bags of clothes to the family’s Sunday Ice Cream Social and they were dispersed among the sisters in law. I ended up taking a scant single bag to Goodwill. So I sifted through another closet and several drawers and had a giant bag stuffed full. After a break I sorted through yet another closet. I weeded out more items. I used the mixed criteria of “Does it make me happy when I look/touch/wear it?” and the “Have I worn this in the last 3 years?” As fate would have it, those items that made me happy when looking/holding them often don’t make me happy when I try them on. I dragged the 2 full bags around in the car and managed to move some items from my closet into the closets of others. I still have a couple more drawers to purge. I’ve switched from the big shopping bags to using 15 gallon kitchen trash bags.

Wipe away the old
Some things are not worth keeping
Make way for the new

When everything is said and done I hope to consolidate my closets (I currently have 2.5 closets filled with clothing) into 2 closets containing winter clothes and summer clothes. I know it is ambitious but it is one of those needs to be done tasks. My next task will be the shoe collection. There was a silly Facebook quiz to determine is you were considered a “High Maintenance” woman. I scored at the top solely on the number of scarves and shoes I own… It is really hard to get rid of some of my shoes and boots, even the ugly ones that are falling apart because they are comfortable and I can wear them when I know it won’t rain. Of course it always seems to rain when I wear them which results in me swearing that I’ll get rid of them (but they are still in my closet).

My worn tattered friend
You’ve been there through thick and thin
And your sole shows it

OK, so I couldn’t just do a straight post. This is a Haibun and it is a travelogue of my spring cleaning journey from closet to closet and dresser to highboy and vanity interspersed with haiku. Still the bags are real and so is the struggle.

Looking At Fathers

We just, sort of, celebrated Father’s Day. It was only a “sort of celebration” based on several factors. First and foremost Sparky had to work Saturday (6 AM – 3 PM) and then on Sunday he worked all day (8 AM – 5 PM). This gave us precious little time to do any of his “favorite things” like going to Goodwill half price day, making a trip to E & S in Shipshewana, or even going to dinner at any of his favorite places. Adding to the mix was the problem of sons #1 & 2 having to work 2 PM – 11 PM on the weekend. Well you can see that the scheduling nightmare was one we couldn’t wake from! The second issue was that my father has been gone for nearly 10 years making this a holiday a little sad if I dwell on it. I try not to. However we were able to take Sparky’s Dad (and Mom) out to dinner Saturday night. We gave him his gift (which made his eyes light up). He can’t play golf anymore due to a degenerative spine issue but he still loves golf so a book was a perfect gift (The Match: The Day the Game of Golf Changed Forever). He chose the restaurant and was waffling between Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen and the new place Portillos (specializing in hotdogs – Chicago-style). We ended up at Cheddars. It was crowded but the food was excellent!

Father’s Day holds a lot of baggage for many people, as much or more than Mother’s Day. At my age, it is more common than not to have experienced the loss of parents and men seem to go first. Currently most of my close friends have lost at least one parent. That makes these days designed to mark family ties a little more difficult. Some have to contend with the chasm of death separating them from fathers, others there is a separation of distance or estrangement. And sadly there is occasionally a complete lack of relationship due to divorce, abandonment, or uncertainty of identifying the actual biological father. There is however a bright spot in all this. There are so many good men out there who have stepped up and become father figures to children. They have invested time and built relationships with children – children that were born of other relationships but are children of their hearts. All we hear about in the media is the horrific – children abused or killed at the hands of men in father roles. The truth is there are wonderful men who never get credit for being exemplary fathers. This is their day. So if there is a father that was there for you, who supported your dreams, protected you, gave you confidence, and made you feel valued, then thank them. If they have passed from your life then say a prayer for them and give God thanks for them. If you didn’t have that father in your life then thank whoever stepped into that role.

Looking High and Low

I have misplaced an item. I visualize it in my minds-eye. I remember where I last saw it. For the life of me I can’t find it! You are probably thinking that this item is small, an earring? Or maybe it is a shoe or perhaps a kitchen gadget like the strawberry topper but you’d be wrong. I have lost a digital bathroom scale! How in blue blazes does someone lose a scale?! I got the scale as part of a weight loss study. I was supposed to weigh and record daily the fluctuations in my numbers. At the same time I had to take body measurements and record them. All that was done while adding a dietary supplement (fiber in pill form) that I had to take for 6 weeks. It was the most miserable 6 weeks of my life. Being very pregnant in the steamy heat of July was more enjoyable than that little pill. The pill that caused me to poop like an elephant and produce enough gas that if harnessed would have heated a modest home for the winter! I digress. That scale was used for about a year after the study ended. Then the batteries died and I never replaced them. The scale was placed under the sink in the hall bathroom. BUT IT ISN’T THERE! I have torn the house apart in my search. I just know (confirmed by a deep ache in my bones) that the scale will surface immediately after I shell out big bucks for a new one!

To further complicate this tale, I don’t want a new scale. We have a perfectly good one that was a wedding gift from Sparky’s oldest sister (that is a whole other story). But it works just fine. It is of German manufacture and is very accurate. The issue is that it is not digital so as you stand on it the little needle wiggles. The needle wiggles and Sparky can’t read the number because he can’t see the tiny lines that are the graduations between the big and bigger numbers. When he bends down to get a better look the needle goes all over and he mutters and grumbles. I don’t seem to have any problem reading the scale….
Can you guess what Sparky is getting for Father’s Day?

Looking for Mother’s Wisdom

Mother’s
Voice in my head
Forms the words in my mouth
Repeating wisdom to my child
Look before crossing streets
Don’t eat raw meat
Say please

This is an Eintou, an African-American poem of syllabic form. It is a septet (7 lines) with a syllable count of 2-4-6-8-6-4-2. The name Eintou is West African for pearl. This form of poetry tries to impart pearls of wisdom in heightened language in a cyclic form.

I still hear my mother’s voice echoing at times. She had several mantras. Some were repeated on a daily basis and others were only brought out on special occasions. In particular were the admonitions to wash your hands before eating, brush your teeth before AND after eating (you don’t eat off dirty plates), drink all your milk (there are starving children in China). You get the idea. Among the words spoken were those that were delivered during the moments of childhood crises. “You may be small physically but intellectually you are a giant.” These words have stuck with me. Spoken as I was sobbing because some neighborhood kids told me I was too short play basketball with them. “If everyone jumped off a cliff would you want to jump too? Think!” Despite my desire to be one of the group my mother insisted I use the common sense so many were lacking. Yes, she forbade me to participate in some activities that I desperately desired to be part of. In retrospect it probably kept me out of some serious trouble. “If God had wanted you to have holes in your ears He’d have put them there.” Was her standard response to pleas for pierced ears. When pressed beyond her limit she’d say, “Go get me a nail, the hammer and the bread board and I’ll pierce your ears.” I never took her up on her offer. Eventually I got pierced ears (and so did she many years later), but I was of an age that I was responsible for the after care! When we (my 2 sisters and I) were being difficult her standard response was not to belittle us but to lay that maternal curse on us, “I hope you have children just like you!” Anyway what I wanted to say is that her words somehow managed to sneak through my lips and into the heads of my children. I was very fortunate that my mother’s words were supportive, unlike some people who have hurtful and negative words rattling around their heads. I think that is how it works from generation to generation. Both the good and the bad.

Looking to Sit Large

I was having a conversation and the topic of saving seats came up. The person I was talking with stated that she was going to get there early and “sit large”. I must have looked like those puzzled dogs on FaceBook – you know the ones that cock their heads to one side with a quizzical expression.

She had to explain the expression meant that she was going to hold several seats on each side of her chosen location by spreading out her arms aka “sitting large”.

This made me think about saving seats and the etiquette involved. I have saved a seat before but I’m talking about one seat. You can put your coat on the seat next to you. Or maybe you set your purse on the chair to claim it or simply put your hand on the seat. No big deal. What starts to get into a grey area as far as etiquette goes is when you start saving more than 2 seats. I’ve been to dinners, gatherings, open seating concerts, etc. where people are saving whole rows of seats and sometimes multiple rows! They have different methods.
There is the coat method where a coat is laid across several chairs. This is mostly done with an interval of at least 2 seats between the person and the start of the coat. It can be augmented with a variety of other clothing items such as hats, gloves, scarves, and even kleenex!

Then there is the tilted chair method. This involves tilting the chair against the table to thwart anyone from just sliding into the seat. That allows the vigilant saver of the seats to clear their throat and intone “I’m sorry but those seats are taken.”

A lot of people save lots of seats and I usually don’t have an issue. However when you save lots of seats and no one is filling them up and others are scrounging for any spot to sit, well then it is a problem. When the event is starting and you have 15 spots saved and your party hasn’t arrived, well then it is a problem. When all your people have taken a seat and you still have 4 empty seats and they are in the middle of your group then that is a problem.

So the take away is that saving one or two seats is acceptable but saving whole rows of seats is rude. OK, I’m done ranting (Graduation is over and I’m so relieved).

Looking at an Award


I was just nominated for the Liebster Award for new bloggers! I have to thank The Runaway Writer for the nomination. She is working on her novel – having left her career to focus on her writing full-time. I have enjoyed her blog where she has chronicled her adventures with her 3 canine companions.

The rules are simple:
1. Acknowledge the blog that nominated you. (check)
2. Answer the 11 questions your nominator asked. (check – see below)
3. Nominate 11 other bloggers. (check)
4. Ask them 11 questions. (check – this was the hardest part)
5. Let them know you have nominated them. (check!)

So to get right to it, here are the 11 questions posed with my answers in italics:
1. Why did you decide to start a blog? I had been blogging on Xanga since 2006 and when that site decided to make it near impossible to continue I jumped ship and came to WordPress in May of 2017. I suppose the real answer to the question is that my blogging was started as a creative outlet and as a means of stress relief.
2. Are you a cat person or a dog person? I’m both. I have owned many pets, most recently a dog, Ranger, who we lost in October 2016. I grew up with cats (lots of cats). My mother bred Persians and we always had at least one cat in the house. I am a Veterinary Technician so I get to be around all kinds of animals on a daily basis.
3. How many books do you read in a year? Usually 6 give or take. I tend to have to have closure so when I start a book I don’t put it down until I’m done. This results in me reading all night in many cases. That is really not conducive to holding a full-time job and having to bring my A game every day! When I retire that will change everything!
4. Who is your favorite author? Hmm. There are many authors I enjoy. I have a soft spot for C.S. Lewis, J.R.R.Tolkien, J. K. Rowling (Could there be a pattern with authors that use initials?) I also like Zenna Henderson, Edgar Rice Burroughs, James D. Forman, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein. But I’m old fashioned and William Shakespeare is my all time favorite!
5. Who is the one person who inspires you the most? I have been influenced most strongly by my parents and my grandparents. I have been inspired by several people over the course of my life – my 8th grade English teacher Mrs. Watson, my college roommate (for 3 years) Deb Schirg, and my husband, Sparky. I suppose the biggest influence has been Jesus, The Christ. Yep. That’s the list.
6. Pineapple on pizza – yay or nay? This one is easy. Yay!
7. What is your biggest fear? My biggest fear is spiders. I just don’t want to have to see them or have to deal with them. They will cause me to shriek like a fire alarm.
8. What is your favorite season? This is difficult – I’ve always liked Spring. Spring is the revival of life and the end of winter’s grip on the earth (and my ice cold feet). However the wonderful long sunny days of Autumn with the crisp air and the burst of colorful foliage is nearly irresistible. Sadly we have had an abbreviated Spring and last Fall was also extremely short since we had significant snow fall in October!
9. If you had a million dollars to give away, who would you give it to? I would be inclined to give it to the church and to my alma mater to fund some scholarships.
10. Ocean or lake? Which is your favorite? I am not a water person despite being an Aquarius. Oceans and lakes scare me. The ocean is more interesting…
11. What is your favorite memory? I have many favorite memories. Most focus on family. There was the time I purchased the most perfect gift for my father – it doesn’t happen very often that you manage to find that one thing that makes their eyes light up! Or the time I made lentil soup and was swept off my feet in an embrace of gratitude for that meal. Maybe it was when son#1 told me that I was the best mom in the world. Or perhaps it was when son#2 finished his recital piece and our eyes met and I knew he had found his passion…

Now for the nominations of eleven others for this award. It may be a little difficult to do so since there aren’t that many blogs that I regularly follow (or who follow me). I will give it my best shot.

1. My Blog (just another WordPress site)
2. Promisesunshine
3. Anacrazyfuturewriter
4. Zakiah
5. Denisegainey
6. fauquetmichel
7. iampeacenow
8. Anncoleman
9. A Sagittarian Seeker
10. Foxy Writer Chick
11. Tom’s Treasure

OK. Here are my not so nosy questions that you will hopefully be able to answer without having brain strain:
1. What does your blogging name mean?
2. How many people subscribe to your blog?
3. What is your favorite dessert?
4. What is your favorite word? Explain why.
5. Poetry – do you write or read or just skip it altogether?
6. If your life was made into a movie, what actor/actress would portray you?
7. If you could change your name what would you change it to?
8. Your house is on fire. You can save only one material possession. What will you save?
9. If you could have any career (success is guaranteed), what would you want to do?
10. You can have any super power. What super power do you choose?
11. Which would you choose – a trip to the moon, a tour of the ocean’s floor, an expedition into the center of the earth? Explain your choice.

O.K. – go!

Looking for Merit V. Bidwell

There will not be any more Merit V. Bidwell episodes… This is the end.

The phone was ringing. There was nothing quite as annoying as having just fallen asleep and having a phone go off in your ear. I snaked an arm from under the blanket groping for the phone. With one eye open I answered it. This was supposed to be my day off and I had planned to lie in bed until my bladder alarm went off. I reached over to let Dumbo know that I was being called in but his side of the bed was empty. As I sat there on the edge searching with a toe for my other slipper, he came into the room carrying two large mugs of coffee. I have to say, he was the best partner I ever had.

Before I could mutter thanks, he informed me that he’d been called in too. My mother was on her way over to hang out with Blue and make sure she got on the bus. Dumbo’s like that, efficient. A quick shower later and we were both on our way to the precinct. I got there first and scored a sweet parking spot. Before I’d made it to my desk, Dumbo was at my side. It looked like the entire force was present. I wondered who had died. The room was humming with speculation when the Captain came in trailed by two suits. I recognized them as the same FBI agents I’d worked with a few years back. They were still complete douches. After introductions the agents took over. We were all assigned to groups and the case was presented on a slick white board. Seems a psychopath had walked away from a medium security facility for the criminally insane. The FBI agents gave us excerpts from a novel she wrote and from her personal diary. Not much to go on but I got the impression it was a very clever misdirection.

The uniforms were dispersed to canvas the downtown areas. The detectives were tasked with doing interviews of all the people she might contact. I managed to get paired with Dumbo and he was grinning from ear to ear. His comment was that it would be like old times. We had a list of 5 names. The first was an over the hill cheerleader. She was easy to track down thanks to the magic of Facebook. I took one look at her and knew that she was safe from any retribution. Leaving her to live her miserable life was surely punishment enough. Not only were her looks in decline, but her high school sweetheart turned husband was cheating. I asked her if she had had any contact with Merit Bidwell and her face went pale beneath her spray tan. She got teary-eyed and confessed that she had treated her badly when they were both in high school. That was basically the template for every interview. At the end of the day we’d talked to everyone on the list and they were all pitiful. Long story short, Dumbo and I were tasked with turning over rocks and managed to find zero leads. I’m guessing Ms. Bidwell is half way around the planet and making her way across Europe. I hope she stays out of trouble…

This concludes the Merit V. Bidwell story “Looking Back”. I hope you enjoyed this little romp topped off with a taste of everyone’s favorite law enforcement officer, Detective Evans and her faithful partner/lover “Dumbo” Dombkowski.

Looking at a Labor of Love

The choir at church takes the summer off. Sort of. With Sparky’s work schedule he has missed a few Sundays and a couple Wednesday practices too. He feels a little bad about that but with the summer choir schedule he’s trying to make it to as many of the “small groups” as possible. During the summer months when the choir is on hiatus, the director asks members to volunteer to sing as small groups – any where from a duo to a double quartet. They have fun because they get to do some favorite songs that allow for special harmony and to do some chants and other pieces that don’t especially work with such a big choir.

In fact the Bishop knows our church as “the parish with the great choir”. It is a point of pride. Our priest is especially supportive and appreciative of the choir. So much so that he hosted an end of the year party/potluck. He made a small speech in which he thanked the director and all the singers and all the instrumentalists. He said, “The choir enriches the worship experience and brings people closer to Jesus.” He then went on to say that the choir brings them to church and the parties keep them here. Which made a lot of people laugh.

The parish went through a little revision and re-branding and touted on different media that we were “The Parish on the Park”. This is because we are across the street from Batell Park and Beutter Park. But the way it is now, we are know as “The Parish that Parties”. We have more potlucks and celebrations than any other church in town. So far this year there have been:
2 Trivia nights
6 Single Mingles
6 Sunday Doughnut and Coffee gatherings
2 Young Couples parties
4 Scripture and Suds (Bible & Beer) Parties for the men of the parish
2 Antioch Youth parties (intel suggests there was pizza involved)
1 Tailgate party
1 5th grade Lock-in
A Notre Dame Women’s Basketball National Champs Party
2 Bake sales with entertainment
The 1st Communion Party
4 Euchre Parties
The Party and Reception for New Members (Catechumens coming into the church at Easter)
A Daddy-Daughter Dance
The Confirmation Party
The Parish Picnic
The Parish Craft Festival
The School Fun Fair
A Mother’s Day Pancake Breakfast
The Choir Party
I could go on but you get the idea. Anyway part of that Choir party was the potluck aspect. Since I had time off work, I agreed to make a dessert that Sparky had enjoyed at work. He described them to me. It is called Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries. Since strawberries were on super sale and were really beautiful I figured that it would be an easy dessert to make. I was wrong.

The recipe (cheater’s version)
Ingredients:
1 package no-bake cheesecake mix (I used Kroger’s brand)
1 1/2 cups cold milk (2%)
4 packages strawberries

Equipment:
Sharp paring knife
cup measure
Electric mixer
cookie sheet
large bowl
shot glass
zip-loc baggie (freezer bag is best)

I made a couple big mistakes. First wash all the berries (I made the cheesecake first which was a mistake) and remove the tops. Set them on a paper towel to absorb the excess moisture. Next remove the center of the berries. Foe small berries you may need to use the knife to enlarge the center cavity. Place the berries back on the paper towel cut top down to allow the juice to drain (especially if they are very ripe berries). Now that the messy (or so I thought) part is over, make the cheesecake filling according to package directions (milk + powder mixed on low using the electric mixer until well stirred. then on medium for 3 minutes). As soon as you have the cheesecake filling done, spoon it into the zip-loc bag and zip seal the top. Cut the corner off the baggie. You are now ready to assemble the strawberries.

Set a berry in the shot glass to hold it steady while you squeeze the cheesecake into the center cavity. Fill to rounded and gently place the filled berry on the cookie sheet. Fill all the strawberries. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
Pour the graham cracker crumbs from the cheesecake mix into a bowl. Gently dip the exposed cheesecake filling into the crumbs. The graham cracker should stick to the cheesecake and make the berries less likely to stick to each other. Arrange them in your choice of serving dish and set them out to be devoured!

So my issue was that I didn’t think of using the shot glass until I was nearly half done filling the strawberries (slaps forehead). I also used a sandwich bag and it was so thin that I accidentally poked a finger through the bag. I had to “fix” it with some cellophane tape… I had also made the cheesecake first and it really solidified as I prepped the berries (contributing to squeezing so hard I punctured the bag). Anyway the total prep time was nearly 2 hours. Oy! On the bright side there were zero left. Everyone loved them and several people wanted the recipe!