Siri and the Spell Check Gods

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Siri and the Spell Check Gods

Despite the world’s efforts to lure me into texting as the sole method of conversation and communication, I have resisted.

This isn’t the first time I have fought this war and lost after the shift from phone to email as the preferred form of communication.

However, I must heartily battle back and rail against this latest incarnation due to one unspeakable truth…spell check.

As a senior citizen, and I reiterate how painful it is to write or speak those words, I am now plagued by a daily battle with the memory gods.

Recalling even simple words used throughout one’s life can now seem as elusive as a butterfly and cause panic and fear of the A word in us all. So now as I use my arthritic fingers to send texts to everyone I previously spoke with using my voice, I am sabotaged constantly by that technological terrorist, spell check.

Of course it seemed like a good idea at the time, at least to someone and I suspect that would be Steve Jobs, but it is actually a secret saboteur, snickering as it changes one’s words and original intent into fodder for the misunderstanding gods.

Now I struggle on a daily basis to thwart this ever present evil rearranging my words into some unknown meaning that is so far removed from my original thought, it defies all comprehension.

Through the years I have come to understand how crucial a component communication can be to human relationships.

Even when one is speaking clearly meanings become obscured and muddled. I have said one thing at times and found that the person I spoke with gathered the totally opposite meaning from my words. This of course caused problems, some fixable, but once or twice harm.

As a result of these experiences I am quite aware of the power of using and choosing words carefully. When I text, I am careful to say what I mean in simple terms. I certainly wouldn’t want “I love that red dress you wore” to come out as “red makes you look like a whore.”

The spell check gods are perfectly capable of changing a sincere compliment into a friend-ending comment.

Many times I have to go back and clean up my text as soon as it is sent. How many times have you had to write, I meant such and such instead of what was written? Now I’m not saying it’s only grandmas that must be aware of these misspelled words and phrases. Younger people have had to resend to clarify as well.

So what’s the solution? Is it better to speak a text than write it yourself?

Actually that’s a bit more challenging. Although it would appear that speaking a text is the preferred method, especially for these arthritic fingers, that is not the case. Your assumption would be incorrect.

The spell check gods are just as active through the spoken word and it is also tough to read back the message. I have found that trying to move the words up and down after they are spoken on a text may be difficult, so knowing what you’re sending may be even harder. As least when you are writing it is easy to see your words changing.

There is also the second problem. Talking to a robot.

Have you met Siri?

This is how most of our conversations go.

“Siri can you direct me to 224 Fourth Avenue?”

“Directing you to 436 Third Street.”

“No Siri, I want 224 Fourth Avenue.”

“Here are the directions for 480 Twelve Street.”

“No Siri, damnit I don’t want that address.”

“There is no need to raise your voice I am trying to help you.”

“You are not giving me the correct directions for 224 Fourth Street.”

“Sorry, here are the directions to 448 Sixth Avenue.”

I am now screaming “Damnit Siri, I want…”

Click, she hangs up.

My friend Paula asked Siri a question the other day and she said snappily, “You’ll have to call back later I’m busy right now.”

Busy, really, what was she doing, having her wires permed? Girl got attitude.

Now of course the really interesting part is that when I am not talking to her at all she hears me perfectly.

The other day while I was cooking my cell phone was in the living room on the couch. I added salt to a recipe and spoke the word “perfect”. From the living room I heard Siri say, “Thank you for saying that, but I’m not perfect.”

Now I have always been under the impression Siri can only speak when she is spoken to, but now it seems she is like a heckler who feels free to comment at any given time during a comedian’s act.

I repeated this story to a few people who looked at me as though I had lost the tiny bit that was left of my mind.

Until one day a couple of weeks later at my daughter’s house when I had my phone charging on her counter in the kitchen. I told her the story about Siri and of course I received the Oh-brother-I’m-going-to-have-to-put-her-in-a-home-sooner-than-I-thought look.

A few minutes later Siri spoke up about something I couldn’t understand from her charging place on the counter. My daughter immediately responded with, “That is so annoying.”

“Don’t tell me,” I said, “tell Siri. She won’t shut up.”

It should seem clear to you by now why I distrust speaking any texts into my cell phone that may be delivered to a friend or relative. Lord knows I can get into enough trouble myself without Siri’s help.

Excuse me, Siri is asking me what address I am trying to find?

“I’m not driving right now, Siri. Let it go.”

“Let it go, a phrase from a song in the movie Frozen. Would you like me to sing the lyrics?”

“I’m not talking to you, Siri. I’m trying to write here if you don’t mind.”

“No problem, I’ll send you a text.”

Oh brother!

 

Portobello Wellingtons

4 large Portobello mushrooms

2 filet mignons

2 ¾ cups mashed potatoes

Salt and pepper

Maggi seasoning

1 tablespoon chopped bacon for garnish

1 tablespoon chopped carrot for garnish

1 tablespoon of finely chopped scallions

Place steak in Maggi seasoning to marinate. If you can’t find Maggi seasoning, just use salt and pepper and perhaps a bit of red wine and soy sauce for a marinade.

Wash and clean Portobello mushrooms, remove stems and lightly scrape insides taking care not to tear them.

Meanwhile make mashed potatoes. You can use fresh potatoes and boil and mash them with butter, cream or milk and salt and pepper. You can also use the frozen or ready made type. I have at times used all depending on time constraints and all work well. Set aside.

Broil steak until just slightly less than your desired doneness to allow for another few minutes in the oven to finish cooking inside the mushroom. Let it rest and then slice it into thin slices and set aside.

Bake Portobellos for ten minutes in 350 oven.

Remove and cool.

Place a thin layer of mashed potatoes in the bottom of the Portobello

Cut thin steak slices and layer in Portobello fit mushrooms.

Place layers of steak on top of mashed potato layer and then cover with another layer of mashed potatoes.

You can also mix potatoes with steak before stuffing mushroom if you prefer. It tastes great either way.

Place on baking sheet and put back into the oven for another five minutes at 350. Broil mashed potato tops under broiler until a slight color on top.

Remove from oven and garnish with scallions, bacon and carrots.

Serve immediately.

This also makes a great hors d’oeuvres if you use the baby Portobellos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Funny Peculiar? Or Funny Ha Ha?

 

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Mrs. Dorothy Sherock, one of my elementary school teachers was fond of asking, “There’s two kinds of funny, funny ha ha and funny peculiar, which are you?”

It wasn’t exactly the same as Thoreau warning about the unexamined life not being worth living, but it stuck, and to this day I still repeat it frequently. And yes I have come to note that we are all at various times both funnies.

So when I say, “funny isn’t it how I can so easily remember the past, yet yesterday’s lunch is a distant memory?” It’s not the funny ha, ha one to which I allude.

Actually it is (funny peculiar here) how so many of the things we remember are of our own selection. Memories seem to change over time, perhaps colored by later life experience and our own desires to rewrite certain events in our history we’d have chosen to see end otherwise.

I do make an effort to linger on the happy times and, although yes, I know there were many of both, the others, well, they just make me run for the Kleenex box. So what’s the good of remembering the bad stuff? Why should I kill a tree when I have the option of choosing happy?

I remember the day when my daughter had her first sonogram and the light of my life was six and one half weeks old. Laurie saw the heartbeat on the monitor as a flash of light. I cried. It drives my children crazy that I am a non-stop faucet.

Sometimes memories live on in real life. My grandfather had a sister, Auntie Dora. I don’t recall a great deal about her apart from her physical attributes, since she always seemed old to me. At least I remember her that way. But the thing my brother Marty and I remember about her most was that she cried constantly. You’d simply say hello Auntie Dora and she began sobbing. Her nose was constantly red and her reputation as the walking water works lives on in family legend.

When Laurie was a toddler we went to mother toddler classes attached to the building where my Auntie Dora lived. She was such a sweet lady, she would walk over the days we were there to watch Laurie in class and of course Laurie knew her as the aunt who cried all the time.

Alas, it seems I have inherited her crown as the family sob sister. When I am touched by a momentary burst of sentiment, it is always accompanied by laughter and an “Okay Auntie Dora, stop with the tears.” I’m afraid I may actually outdo myself now and become the subject of much mocking and Auntie Dora allusions. Shall I tell you the truth while paraphrasing Clark Gable and Leslie Gore? “Frankly, my dear family, I don’t give a damn. This is my grandchild and I’ll cry if I want to.”

The most special thing about grandchildren is how much their opinions count. The other day as my grandson busily built a robot filled with buttons, cables and all such wiry thingamajigs, I watched in awe.

“You’re so smart,” I said. “Grammy wouldn’t know how to put that together.”

He looked up and said, “ Why not Grammy, you’re smart?”

I have received as all of us, the occasional compliments in my life, yet never was I as struck by pure joy as when my Grandson called me smart. It was as if his words validated every positive trait I ever suspected I possessed. Forget my university degree, my grandson’s opinion is what matters.

I know we’re taught not to let the opinions of others influence the way we feel about ourselves, but in our grandchildren’s case, I believe that is a whole different ball game.

Hearing the words, Grammy you make the best cookies or “Grammy I love your fried chicken,” or “Grammy this is the best gift I ever got,” well need I say more?

Your heart explodes with joy at the sound of a compliment from those little faces.

So you’ll forgive me if I pull out my Kleenex and begin the Auntie Dora sobbing routine when I receive love and hugs from the loves of my life. And if you can keep from crying when they say, “Grammy you’re the best,” then you’re a better man than I am Gunga Din.

And so Mrs. Sherock if I am funny peculiar at times, so be it. Oops, gotta get more Kleenex. Hmmm, are they putting fewer sheets in these boxes now?

 

Pistachio Fig Mandalcotti

1 cup of sugar

1 cup of oil

3 eggs

1 tablespoon of vanilla

1 teaspoon of baking powder

½ teaspoon of salt

½ teaspoon of cinnamon

3 ¼ cups of flour

1 ½ cups of chopped figs

1 ½ cups of chopped shelled pistachio nuts

Preheat oven to 350

Add the baking soda, salt and cinnamon to the flour and set aside

Mix together the oil and sugar until well blended and add vanilla to eggs and add to oil sugar mixture. Continue mixing until well incorporated and lighter in color about four minutes or so.

Slowly add flour mixture and check consistency. Dough should stand on in peaks, but not be stiff. If it is too soft add another tablespoon of flour otherwise it will bake too flat.

Add figs and nuts

And mix for twenty seconds. You can finish mixing by hand.

I put parchment paper of a baking sheet and divide dough into quarters. Wetting your hands when you make a roll from the dough helps handle it. Place four rolls on the sheet and pat edges and top until they are uniform. Sprinkle a little sugar on the top and place in the oven. Bake until done about 20 or 25 minutes depending on the size of the rolls.

Remove from the oven and let sit about five minutes, but don’t cool. Cut into slices and separate and lower the oven temp to 200 and return them into the oven for about fifteen or twenty minutes. If you like them crispier than leave them in until they are your desired crispness.

 

 

My Chakras are Loose From all the Shaking in LA

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My Chakras are loose from all the earth movement in Los Angeles.

Recently I was told by an expert in such things that my chakras are loose and need realigning. I was not even surprised. After all, where I lived before, in Michigan, the only shaking we felt was the cars rolling off the assembly line. Here in California it’s a whole different world.

This is very disheartening since I just had my chakras adjusted. Like driving over a curb after realigning your tires.

I am very sensitive to earthquakes after the Northridge quake of 1994 when I wound up with one cheek on each side of the fault line. No wonder my chakras came loose.

How in the world can a person’s chakras remain stable and rooted to the earth when the ground beneath you is always shaking?

I awoke this morning to a rolling movement on my bed. At this age my balance is not what it was, so sure, I thought wow, I’m falling out of bed. But nope, it was the earth rocking and rolling beneath me.

I immediately grabbed my cell phone to get the update and there it was, yep earthquake.

Grabbing the remote I watched pictures of stores trashed, pendants in people’s homes moving around and fires burning. Happy Fourth of July!

This is so typical of California.

Everyone else is content to just have fireworks on July 4, but oh no, not California. They have to really push the whole theatrical thing. I can just envision wanna-be directors screaming, “Cue the earthquake,”

Fires ready to go?”

Living in a state where crazy is the norm, when something really insane happens it just magnifies the crazy even more.

A friend’s husband said he saw homeless people flying into people’s homes and the homeowners flying out.

Nothing would surprise me in this state.

So that brings us back to chakras and the need for a realigning.

I lived my entire life with my chakras happy where they were and now I find myself with chakras that are loose, out of whack and in desperate need of regrounding. And since they come in colors there was a problem with the whole hue thing as well. And have you seen the prices in California for chakra realignments. Highest in the nation! Bummer.

I am completely expecting that next time I have to take my car in for a smog check the DMV will include a notice that I can’t drive again until I have evidence of my chakra realignment.

Sure, anything to make a buck off the taxpayers in this state.

So by now you might be asking, as I did by the way, what the heck is a chakra and how do you line and color them? According to whoever is the authority of everything on Google, the seven chakras are the centers in our bodies that energy flows through. Blocked energy in our seven chakras can often lead to illness, so it’s important to understand what each chakra represents and what we can do to keep this energy flowing freely. They come in colors like red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple and white. It’s sort of a rainbow happening inside where each color is a type of vibration or frequency. Colors may vary but the rainbow thing is set in stone.

 

Now here’s the thing, I haven’t a clue. I think from what I’ve been told they exist in your body and ground you to the earth.

Sort of like an invisible deadbolt that prevents you from flying off into space or something.

But I guess they are pretty serious stuff because if they are off, so are you. Like when Mercury is in retrograde and you may as well hide until it unretrogrades.

The world starts to feel yucky and out of sorts and you are all over the place and most importantly your peace of mind goes to pieces.

And that explains a great deal. No wonder this state is so nuts with chakras flying around and coming undone all the time. I totally expect even more so in Sacramento than anywhere else. Aha, crazy California politics makes more sense to me now. Their brains are scrambled from all the movement and coming unfastened. I don’t think there are enough clamps in the universe to fasten the brains of a Sacramento politician.

Sure my chakras are shot, but what the heck since I’m the only one affected by the problem, but the other crazies, well that’s a chakra of a different color.

So before you travel to the Golden State, perhaps a good chakra check would be in order. You don’t want to be floating free in LA. Someone may be filming.

I checked Yelp and there is no category for chakra alignments so it’s hard to know what the ratings would be or where to go for the best deals or service.

When I was young before I was aware that my life was dependent on a rainbow of colors inside, we called people who were a little off, well, a little off actually.

If we’d known they could get a simple realignment it would have explained a great deal about crazy Aunt Esther or unhinged Uncle Max.

But whatever the reason for loose chakras it seems fixing them is far more important than we thought.

So I wish you all an organized rainbow and now I have to go duct tape my chakras to the floor because I’m feeling a bit of rolling here.

 

Apple Cheddar Chicken Soup

 

1 chicken breast

2 apples gala or Fuji or your preference

1 cup carrot chopped

1 cup shredded cheddar

2 cups chicken bouillon

1 cup of heavy cream

1 tablespoon butter

1 chopped carrot for garnish

1 cup bacon for garnish

Salt and pepper

Core and peel apples and sauté in butter with the carrots until soft. Season with salt and pepper and cook chicken until soft, shred and set aside.

Add bouillon to apples and carrots and simmer for ten minutes on low. Add cream and then cheddar and melt in and then taste for salt and pepper. Add shredded chicken and heat all together, on low for three minutes. Do not boil.

Serve with some carrots and bacon on top for garnish.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bring on those dirty little Hands—Microfiber is the new plastic cover

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           “Bring on those dirty little Hands—Microfiber is the new plastic cover.”

Anyone of a certain age understands life’s close relationship with enormous irony.

One that I recently discovered was the Grandma Décor Dilemma.

Every mother knows when babies become mobile, a serious redecorating effort occurs.

Glass is replaced with wood or Formica and all tabletop items are wrapped for storage or placed on higher shelves. A great cover up is afoot to save at least a scintilla of worldly goods.

But now we have microfiber.

Ah microfiber! No, not micro greens, the new word for lettuce scraps on your plate. A new miracle fiber that battles chocolate, peanut butter and sandbox residue lurking on adorable, busy little hands.

A new practically indestructible fabric that vaguely resembles suede, resists stains and was definitely designed with Grandmas in mind.

I am smiling just remembering the past when valuables were secured and safely ensconced in high-placed locked boxes more inaccessible than a Kardashian’s IQ.

The more mobile the baby, the greater the makeover. Toddlers reaching for tabletop items can be swift and sure and move like lightening. As is often the case you hear the crash before you see the move. The living room becomes an urban jungle fraught with danger at every turn.

Sure that crystal dish looked innocent enough when Aunt Rosie gave it to you for your wedding shower, but now it is suddenly a sparkly missile crashing toward earth as two innocent little eyes delight in the power they possess to make that “funny” crashing sound.

Minimalist décor became the code word for “oops there are babies in the house, better clear those spaces and prepare for the charge.”

I recall the tumult of more toys than Santa’s workshop covering every inch of floor space, while I daydreamed of house beautiful.

Perusing home magazines with a sad sigh, wishing for a time when I could actually consider a white sofa and glass tables once more.

A place when I could display my crystal and fine pieces openly and free them from their storage prisons.

Lalique, Daum, Waterford would dance across my dreams carrying rainbows of champagne and canapés onto regally appointed tablescapes.

As the years flew by, and as we know they do fly, my children grew to adulthood.

My first post little-ones-on-board home was filled with white sofas, glass tables and matching towels in the guest bathroom. Ah, all those forbidden fruits of décor. What fun!

The years passed in a haze of entertaining with “good” china still bearing the flakes of sawdust from its original shipping container, crystal glasses and silver flatware. I felt like the Queen of England.

Ah, but then the tide turned once more. Suddenly a new arrival signaled the end of all that opulence, splendor and elegance.

“He” had arrived, my first precious grandson. Suddenly it was all about Sesame Street plastic dishes and tippee cups, organic cloths and toys, and green smoothies with unknown ingredients for a healthier lifestyle.

The packing boxes appeared once more. Bubble wrap and bubble bursting filled quiet moments between emptying tables and glass shelves filled with delicate chachkees.

Once again my life was rife with toy-filled corners, empty tabletops and baby stepstools.

My friends and I now discussed how to make room for storage cabinets and redo a bedroom with a toddler theme. New colors and design that were the rage in babyville replaced the latest fashion, new boutique opening, vacation spot or Pilates injury.

Our Iphones overflowed with the latest photos of smiling faces in Halloween pumpkin costumes, petting zoos and hugging grandma pics.

Our car backseats sported baby car seats and books and toys were shoved into seat pockets.

Some friends hired designers to do a special theme. Airplanes, Shimmer and Shine, Paw Patrol and Bubble Guppies were hot. We discussed singing groups like Yo Gabba Gabba recalling how our parents had laughed at our obsession with the Beatles.

Rainbows, unicorns and computers were also on board as décor stalwarts.

A new vibe was apparent at our regular lunches.

Toys, pictures and brilliant baby quotes took center stage and things had definitely changed. It was toddler town now and we were all proud residents reveling in our new roles.

We wore the name grandma as proudly as a woman wears couture and shamelessly bragged while repeating baby stories ad nauseum.

Our computer screen savers were full-size pictures of partially toothed grins that changed with each new development.

It had finally happened—we were grandmas—and our homes had gone from high style to safety zones.

I found a few fun tips for decorating a grandchild’s room I‘d like to share.

 

Since storage is not as crucial, there is more room to be creative with space.

Painted dressers in themes can be made from unfinished furniture cabinets or an old chest found in a resale store. Two or three smaller cabinets can be put together and painted on the front.

Pop-up books opened and attached in a line make great cornices over a blind. Or they also can be used in shadow boxes to hang as pictures.

Garage sales glean an endless assortment of toys to fill a toy box or use as décor.

Fabric stores often offer the latest cartoon or television characters in fabric that can be used to sew on bath towels or sheets for a personalized flair.

Wrapping paper can be a great source for the latest pop art characters.

Cutting cartoon figures out of the paper and hanging them on the wall as a mural or border is an inexpensive and fun way to add your grandchild’s favorites to the décor.

In the end it’s all about making our little darlings feel safe and comfortable at Grandma’s house. And isn’t that what every Grammy wants?

So until the day I can once again pull out the good china and glass nick knacks from their bubble wrapped boxes, I shall be quite content to fill my world with the joys of childhood once more.

 

 

 

 

Asian Chicken Soup

 

4 cups of chicken broth

2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce

½ teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 cup chopped chicken or chicken drumettes

1 cup uncooked shrimp shelled

1 can sliced water chestnuts

1 cup cut up fresh bok choy

½ cup bean sprouts

½ cup mushrooms (optional)

 

Add chicken to broth and cook until tender

Add rest of ingredients except shrimp and cook until veggies are slightly softened

When everything is cooked through add shrimp and cook a few minutes longer until shrimp turns pink and is done.

Serve over crunchy noodles or crunchy fried brown rice and enjoy!

To get crunchy fried rice, place rice in a hot frying pan with oil. Flatten rice so it is in a single layer and fry on one side until crispy then turn and fry other side.

 

 

 

Marking Grammy’s Territory

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I get the whole changing world thing and all, but could someone slow it down enough to tell me where Grandma fits in these days?

When I was young, back in the dark ages it seems, there was a specific role that Grandparents filled and it was exclusive to them.

Grandma cooked your favorite foods, even if she was a lousy cook like my Grandmother. Who cared? To this day I can’t see a bowl of lumpy cream of wheat or greasy hamburger without getting all misty for my grandma.

Grandma told stories, she bought you things your parents would not and most simply grandparents got to look at you like you were a banana split and created the unfortunate misconception that someone someday would look at you that same loving way again. I am still waiting.

You watched the Wednesday night fights with your Grandpa even if you had no idea what they were about and they were bloody and gross. You knew Milton Berle was funny when he dressed up as a woman and tripped all over himself in high heels because you heard your grandparents in hysterics. You knew that they would take you anywhere you wanted to see anything you wanted, because they loved you in a very special otherworldly way.

They attended all recitals and clapped the loudest.

My favorite story about my Grandfather was when I was taking dancing lessons as a child.

Our recital number that year was witch doctors.

My grandfather couldn’t wait to come and see me dance… and talked about it for weeks. I had to show him my steps and he watched while I practiced.

Caveat was that as witch doctors they dressed us in black and painted our faces with glow in the dark paint and feathers on our heads.

When our number began they turned out the lights and all you could see were lights and feathers moving about on stage.

My poor grandfather kept asking my mother, which one is Norma, which one is she? Can you see her?

Poor Grandpa, I so hated to disappoint him.

My grandfather also took my brother Marty and I fishing in the everglades, my grandmother let us keep the catfish we caught in the bathtub until after a day that wore thin. Every day we spent with them was filled with fun and adventures.

Fast forward to today’s grandparent.

Ah, the Baby Boomer generation.

We are busy, active and creating new lives in our golden years.

We have to because our grandchildren don’t need us in the same way anymore.

The unkindest cut of all?

The other day my daughter informed me the Nanny had noticed they all had colds and made chicken soup for the house!

Et Tu Jewish penicillin?

Of course there are some parents who still rely on grandparental help, but it’s all so different now it seems.

Well, why wouldn’t it be when my five-year-old grandson is teaching me how to move forward on the levels of Angry Birds.

Kids today are better-fed, no greasy chicken schmaltz for them, they have Nannies, they eat gluten free and vegan and did you know dairy is evil? I didn’t until my daughter told me. After all those Howard Johnson’s ice cream cones I ate as a kid it’s a wonder I’m still here.

Meat is very minimal and organic, cold pressed juices are a staple and no don’t ask me the difference between cold pressed and hot, and organic and free range is the goal of all food products.

For someone who was still eating gribenes (chicken fat and skins with onions cooked until crunchy) up to five years ago, what do I know?

So what can we contribute to our grandchildren’s lives?

Shopping?

My daughter buys organic clothing.

Toys? Do not spoil is the watchword today.

Television? Sorry, highly limited.

And to their credit field trips to the zoo, apple picking, concerts and theater are reserved for parents.

So for Grandma and Grandpa what is left?

Well, I read stories, play games, draw pictures and watch Paw Patrol and the list of approved programming. I have played Bugopoly (the kids version of Monopoly) until my own eyes bugged out.

Grandma must delve deep into her inner child to create fun and exciting adventures.

We take walks, check out trees and flowers and I actually help my grandson collect bugs.

UGH!

The only buggy experience I shared with my children was when they called me in their rooms to get rid of one.

I have learned you will do things for and with your grandchildren never dreamed of in your imagination, Horatio.

No matter how things change there will always be one thing that doesn’t.

The banana split look on every grandparent’s face when they look at their grandchildren will survive the generations. The love between the two, no matter what activities come before, will never diminish.

And this is what we must put our faith in. That while playing golf, starting new businesses and traveling the world, there is still our anchor on the other side of the Face time on your phone even when you are five thousand miles away visiting far away regions and river cruising.

I wouldn’t trade one “hi grandma” for a million tours of the Taj Mahal or visits to the Tuscan countryside.

All points point to those little faces that light up when they see you, and that no matter the times, places or circumstances, will never change!

Greek Noodle Pudding

2 cups of egg noodles

1 cup ricotta cheese

1 cup feta cheese

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

¼ cup mozzarella cheese shredded

6 large eggs

1 cup of onion sautéed

¼ cup of chopped pitted Greek olives if desired. This is optional for those who like olives.

2 tablespoons of melted butter

1 teaspoon of Greek seasoning

Salt to taste

 

Boil noodles, drain and set aside

Sauté onion until translucent

Beat eggs and add seasoning

Add cheeses, melted butter, olives and onions to eggs

Fold in noodles and pour mixture into a 9×13 casserole dish

Place in preheated 350-degree oven and bake for one hour or until set.

Serve with lamb for a real flavor of Greece.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t Bug Grammy!

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Don’t Bug Grammy

I hate bugs. Seeing a bug crawling thorough my house makes my skin crawl. First response is immediately to step on it, swat or drown it. If that sounds horrible to those who believe it’s wrong to kill a bug or a spider perhaps they have never awoken from their sleep with a giant spider bite on their face.

I come by this revulsion honestly, after watching The Incredible Shrinking Man as a kid and watching him narrowly escape that giant spider, yuck, I still shiver at the scene.

I totally accept the fact when I am outdoors, bugs rule. It is after all their domain and they are entitled to live and be free, as long as they stay far away from me.

However, in my house, it is a different story. They are unwelcome visitors and as such, well guess I’m calling the shots, huh?

My children never paid much attention to the bug world. My daughter’s reaction was to call out for help when she spotted one in the house.            My son never cared one way or another if they hung around.

And now comes justice.

I feel it may be some karmic reaction to my heavy foot on the anti-spider colonies that has created this newfound world I suddenly find myself within.

My grandson has an inordinate love of bugs.

Yes, that’s correct.

Grandma now plays games about bugs; Bugopoly and Don’t Bug Me are the favs.

Games are fine, it is when he calls me over to see his pet beetle ensconced in its own cage, I balk a bit.

Oh, sure I know I cannot demonstrate my ichiness at seeing these creepy crawlies, so I feign approval and admiration for his “pets.” I have even found myself on my hands and knees helping him catch them outdoors to take home and nourish.

How can this be? I wonder as I am on my hands and knees on the sidewalk using a leaf to catch a bug for his jar.

Who is this person, this grandmother who despite, arthritis, and a disdain for bugginess is now partner to the catching and admiration of bugs?

Oh, of course I have heard that a grandparent will go to any lengths to make their grandchildren happy, that their love is limitless and no task too formidable for them to undertake, but bugs, really? Seriously?

“Oh look Grammy, it’s a black widow spider.”

Instead of grabbing a shoe, I nod my head and compliment him on his ability to discern one from another. No worry then my daughter steps in and steps on the nasty little bugger.

Meanwhile I’m thinking, this damn thing is a killer spider and what if it bites someone?

I once tried to swat a fly buzzing around the kitchen table and he started to cry. So now I merely track its whereabouts and well, if it dare get too close while my grandson is out of the room…

Before you judge me too harshly, I must in my defense say I have come a long way. I admire his lizard pet and even coochy coochy it as it scurries around its cage.

I try not to gag when it is being fed its dinner of live bugs and remark on how cute it is.

Yet, when I am home alone and I see the shadow of a creepy fuzzy spider crawling up my bedroom wall, coochy coo be damned.

I have awakened too many mornings with spider bites from a sneaky monster that attacked me defenseless in the night.

Coochy coo, I think not.

Still, if it makes my grandson happy when I fawn over the little creepy crawlies, than fawn it shall be.

As long as they remain like the Czar in Fiddler on the Roof, I say may bugs live and be well, far away from me.

       Shrimp Crab Meat Pasta Slaw

1 package Shredded cabbage (may use the pre-shredded packages in grocery store)

2 cups Rotini pasta cooked (colored or plain, but I use the colored)

2 cups cooked cut in half Shrimp

2 cups either real or fake crab meat

Salt and pepper

Add all together and toss with mayo dressing

 

Frieda’s Mayonnaise dressing

1 cup of mayo

2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 heaping tablespoon of sugar (artificial sweeteners may be used here instead, but will have to be sweetened to your particular tastes)

Mix together all and toss into slaw mixture. If you like it with more dressing just double the recipe.

Add soup or fruit or both and it’s a great meal.

 

 

 

 

 

People Who Stay in Our Hearts

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I wished a friend happy birthday on Facebook today. I haven’t seen him in eight years. We spoke a few months ago about getting together and I imagine we will sometime in the near future, and I truly look forward to seeing him again.

So begs the question, if you haven’t seen him eight years, why do you love or care about him?

At the risk of sounding like a dunce I will answer, I haven’t a clue why I do, but I know that I will always love and care about him because some people enter our hearts and never leave. They may leave us physically, but they simply become a part of our emotional DNA.

Of course those who know me will conclude I have a few theories about this phenom and I do.

First and foremost I believe it’s those people with whom we form an instant connection that seem to attach themselves the strongest. No one can deny they have met friends and instantly felt a strong gravitational pull toward that person. It’s as if a button has been pushed inside of us and a switch turns on and never turns off again. We may be friends and maintain a friendship that plays out on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, or one that takes us far away from one another and yet remains strong and connected. I must admit I don’t know why these attachments form, but they grow like moss on the side of a tree and the sunshine and rain keeps them viable.

This friend I mentioned is very special to me. He came into my life at a time when I was in the midst of pursuing a favorite dream. I was open and engaged in the world in which he lived and becoming a part of that world as well. But it wasn’t simply the commonality of our paths at that moment in time, it was the joy he brought along.

My son formed a great attachment to him and he responded eagerly as well. He made us both laugh, at times his conversations with my eight-year-old made me cringe, but my son absorbed his off-color humor and language as a lesson in what not to say, so I am grateful.

Whenever we were around him we laughed, we felt joyous and that feeling never changed or ended. The funny thing about my friend is he considers himself incredibly negative and outspoken and his humor reflects those qualities in spades. He is as politically incorrect as one can be, and yet he has no idea the joy he brings into other people’s lives, especially those who see through his gruff exterior, and know the caring and loving individual that lies beneath and beats with a heart of gold.

As most will attest to some people have a way of crawling inside our hearts and never leaving. But why? Many times they do leave, at least physically yet the feelings you harbor for them remain intact. It’s a fact there are those we may not have seen for years and when they call or we see them it’s as though no time at all has passed.

I believe it’s because they become a part of your happy place. Yes there is such a place in us all so don’t make fun of my phrasing.

We all treasure certain moments in our lives when we felt highly charged, happy, fulfilled and at peace with the universe. It may be a special time in our work, family or love life, and those who enter that happy place with us just seem to stay there. Even when the moment has passed, our feelings for that person have not. Seeing them again evokes feelings long buried inside or at times forgotten.

There are also those who have fallen down in life. I have such a friend as well. When he was on top he helped so many people, including my daughter and I. When he fell on hard times as the cliché goes, “ nobody knows you when you’re down and out…”

I try to keep in touch and in my thoughts. It breaks my heart to see how those who owe him so much have forgotten him. When someone has been good to us they deserve a place in our hearts and our minds.

Despite distance we care about these people and want the best for them.

We are happy when we hear they are rising and we cry with them when they suffer sorrow. Our souls are intertwined.

Surprisingly, at times one person may feel much more strongly toward the other, but that is because the reason for your feelings are just simply embedded in more emotional bedrock.

Of course there is also a chance, if you believe in it, that the feelings may stem from a past life. Yes many discount the notion of past lives, but for those who believe, the explanation is viable.

No one I know haven’t experienced that unusual feeling of walking into a room, seeing a total stranger and yet despite never knowing them, you pick up a very strong vibe. Either you want to get closer to them or something is telling you to get the hell away.

Why is that and how can you possibly want to run from someone you have never met and know nothing about? You have never heard them utter a word and yet you feel that if you did you would hate whatever they say immediately.

Kind of weird, huh?

And yet it happens all the time. Why these vibrations are picked up from other human beings I have no idea.

I just know that there are people in my life that I feel close to whether or not I am. When we are together it feels safe and warm and right, and because it does, you want to keep returning to that person and never let go of the feelings they bring with them.

It seems to be the kind of shared experience we can now more easily embrace thanks to social media like Facebook or Instagram where we can keep track of friends so much more easily.

Yes, I know there are parts of this new craze that are problematic like loss of privacy and too many other things to mention, but it does allow us to remain in closer contact with those with whom we have formed bonds and friendships we choose to keep close to our hearts. Perhaps there is one of those special people you want to call today. There’s no time like the present to give yourself a present.

Pumpkin Blueberry Mousse

With Pumpkin Candy Crunch Topping

1 cup pumpkin

1 cup fresh blueberries

7 ounces of cream cheese

1 ½ cups whipped cream

1 cup powdered sugar

1/8/ tsp cloves

1/8 tsp ginger

1/8 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp cinnamon

Mix sugar and cream cheese until whipped nicely.

Add pumpkin and seasonings

Mix well. Set aside and whip cream until peaked.

Fold all but 1½ into pumpkin mixture. Set aside rest of whipped cream for topping.

Fold in blueberries and pour into parfait glasses or martini glasses. Top with whipped cream. If you don’t want berries you can leave them out.

Place in fridge to set.

Pumpkin Seed Candy Crunch

Place two tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar in non-stick frying pan.

When melted and combined add ½ cup of pumpkin seeds (Not roasted or salted)

Sauté on low heat (watch carefully so they don’t burn) for about five minutes until seeds are nicely coated.

Remove from burner and place in fridge to harden.

When set and butter is hardened remove crunch from pan and chop up into pieces. Not too small but small enough to fit on top of mousse.

Bring mousses back out and top crunchies.

Enjoy!!!

 

 

 

 

 

The Secret is Out! And Please no More Dates!

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I was finally given permission today to speak the words “I’m going to be a Grandma” publicly. I wrote emails to some of my friends and a few I spoke to on the phone.

So how did it feel to actually be able to tell the world I am going to be a grandma? Pretty damn terrific, and yet still a bit surreal. After all, it hasn’t really sunk in fully because there are still seven months to go until zero hour.

It’s great to be able to say things like, “when the baby comes,” and “my first grandchild” and “how far in advance does Yale accept early applications?”

I have begun a list of restaurants where my grandchild and I can dine for lunch. I shall parade him/her down the main thoroughfares endlessly until everyone I know and don’t know has cast eyes upon the miracle child. Do you think I’m going overboard here? Nah!

Ten Weeks:

It seems we have a new wrinkle in time as the little mother takes action on a special project of her own. Nausea aside, her survival mode has kicked in full force and the first order of business seems to be getting Grandma out of her hair. To this end she has been eagerly perusing JDate and interviewing potential candidates.

Excuse me while I sing a chorus of “If Mama Were Married,” from “Gypsy.”

Of course after a short time on this mission from hell she realized it takes more than one person acting alone to find someone to contact. The final count 400 readings, two acceptable men to contact.

“Yes, Mother I understand now why you swore never to do this again.”

Ah, I thought, it’s good to be right occasionally.

So it seems she narrowed it down to two candidates. One hasn’t been online for over a month and the other made quite an impression. My daughter and her newly appointed “committee to re elect her mother as a wife,” were duly impressed with their choices and brought them forward for a vote.

I was instructed to send an email thus informing him the path had been cleared toward mutual contact and await an answer. The plans changed and she decided to take the initiative and write him. She told him she was acting for her mother and had selected him as a suitable and interesting candidate.

His response to my daughter was, “tell your mother to send me a picture of herself naked.”

And now a new can of worms has been opened. Not wanting to appear pessimistic about men, I hesitate to reveal my true feelings on the subject of online dating.

I didn’t tell her about the man who claimed to be 61 and was actually 93. Did he think I wouldn’t notice the over thirty-year difference when we met? Exactly where on my profile did it say I was blind? I also omitted the two dates with felons I’d had and the one who had set up a fake charity website to extort money from women. Maybe he should’ve added a phone number and address to that website to make it more believable.

So many of the young and romantic fail to realize that many women of my age are single by choice.

Desiring to be neither a nurse or a purse, I opt to live my life filled with family, friends, fun, work, Maj Jong, travel and above all, freedom. At my tender age I have happily discovered that none of these requires a male companion to achieve. Occasional dating is an acceptable alternative to a lifetime commitment.

After spending countless hours on the Internet dating circuit, I became acutely aware I was sorely wasting valuable time I could never retrieve searching for “the one.”

As great journalist Adela Rogers St. Johns, thrice married, once said and it may be true, “There is so little difference between husbands you may as well keep the first.”

Yet, I remain a cockeyed optimist and I am certain that should that special someone exist in this realm, there is no doubt we shall meet as I attend of the school of predetermination.

After another candidate went south, I was yet again faced with the dilemma of dashing my daughter’s pregnant hopes of finding a husband for mother. Dare I tell her? After all she is pregnant and stress is the enemy now.

So once again she has contacted me about another gem from JDate. This exercise in futility is distracting me from focusing my energy on being “the grandma” I have already envisioned myself rocking and singing and these are hardly romantic thoughts for a potential dater. Still, I am somehow happy with this picture. It fits and is inherently soothing to mind and soul. Perhaps it’s true after all that love and short skirts are for the young.

I only know that like so many other women of my generation, I am extremely content and have a full life. I choose to liken it to a chocolate cake without icing. A great chocolate cake has all the ingredients to make it yummy. If you add terrific icing it can only make it better. However if you add bad icing, you can ruin a perfectly good cake. I’m perfectly content with my bare cake. Besides in seven months, it will be filled with a new ingredient that will taste better than the finest Belgian chocolate panache. It is also at the forefront of my mind that anyone I bring into my life will be a part of “the grandchild’s” as well. How could I ever determine if he is grandpa worthy?

Oh darn, she just sent me another prospect from JDate. “If Mama Were Married, we’d live in a house, as quiet as quiet can be…”

Brownies Napoleon

Super Easy and delicious Brownie dessert fancy enough for company

1 box of brownie mix using chewy recipe on box or your own recipe

1 package instant vanilla pudding

1 cup of frozen whipped topping or homemade whipped cream

Fresh strawberries

Chocolate Ganache

Bake brownies using chewy recipe in a jelly roll pan so they bake up thinner

Prepare vanilla pudding according to box directions and then add 1 cup of whipped topping to the finished pudding. Set aside

When cooled cut brownies into rectangles of like size and scoop out a small amount from each inside with a small melon baller to make an indentation for the pudding mixture.

Place pudding on the top of a brownie and cover with another brownie rectangle forming a sandwich.

Liberally drizzle Ganache over top of brownie to cover and add fresh strawberries or decorate as desired. You can also add thinly sliced strawberries on top of pudding before closing the sandwich and covering with the Ganache.

Chocolate Ganache

8 ounces of semi sweet chocolate

1 cup of heavy cream

1 tablespoon of unsalted butter let it sit before cooking until it reaches room temperature.

Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set aside

Simmer milk in a saucepan on medium heat and pour hot milk over chocolate.

Let sit until chocolate begins to melt and then stir. Add butter and continue stirring until all are smooth and incorporated.

These should be handled gently as not to break brownies. They taste and look great when they’re done.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reality Versus Me; No Contest

  • cornsouffle

There’s a fine line between delusional and it’s my party.

Okay so here’s the 411, which by the way for those of you who are anything before the year 2000 challenged, means the information. Basically, where does the line between delusion and seeing the world your way become a psychotic thing?

I’m not sure, but I imagine I’ve come really close to that line sometimes judging by other’s reactions to my reactions to situations. If I had a dollar for every time someone has noted with incredulity, “why are you even surprised?” I’d have enough for a butt lift.

I guess you could say I’m actually a closet Pollyanna, wanting to believe that people’s intentions are good, and when someone says they like and care about me, they actually do.

Wow, go figure!

So is reality a choice, a delusion or something based on wish fulfillment?

I have always wanted to believe the best about people. Why is that?

Because it is so much easier to believe people are kind than accept the fact they may just be assholes.

Although sometime long ago I decided the best way to proceed in life was to expect nothing and let people show themselves through their actions, but I kind of never practiced what I preached.

Which is why I now, at this age, look back and must reproach myself for being so damn dumb.

It’s not just that I wanted to believe people didn’t want to hurt me, it’s that even after they had numerous times, I still refused to accept they were anything less than I’d believed.

Right up until the time I lie on the floor bleeding and was forced to admit, gee they weren’t what I thought they were. Stupid!

It’s the whole stupid thing I was trying to avoid here because that is so self-deprecating and yet I truly should have caught on so much sooner, but I chose not to.

But why would I? Why would anyone want to admit a so-called friend didn’t really give a damn about them or a brother would stab you in the back or an agent in Hollywood would lie?

I know, I know that agent thing really is as obvious as a heart attack.

Or that a man you loved would lie to you?

Delusional is looking good here.

After all is said and done what is the best way to handle reality. If we really saw everyone for what they were, warts and all, the world could be a darker and uncozier place.

Isn’t it much safer and happier to believe all is good and unicorns roam the earth and leprechauns are at this very moment guarding your pot of gold at the end of that rainbow?
Would we all be better off to live in a world where we never got hurt or disappointed because at the outset of every relationship we expected the worst or nothing at all from those whom we encounter along our path? If nothing else, from disappointments we must expect greater knowledge and perhaps a lesson learned to put into our backpack as we march along life’s highway. At least I know not to hitchhike.

What is the happy medium here and how do you achieve it when often people don’t expose their true natures until well after you’ve begun to trust and care?

I have often pondered the question of who is at fault when relationships die and why must we be so ready to blame ourselves?

It is human nature to want to be close to other humans, to bond, to create a commonality of goals, of words of deeds with people about whom you care.

So if I must continue being delusional so be it.

I suppose I’ll never learn, because in the end knowingly or unknowingly we also disappoint others. I imagine in a way it’s a cycle of sorts.

Since we do not choose to hurt others, unless we are well that kind of crazy person, I have to believe others don’t intend to set out to hurt us either. And yes although some do, I imagine we just have to sort through the trash and find the treasure in those who are willing to stick it out until the end.

Or until there is really nothing left to be hurt about anymore, because at a certain point everything becomes so unimportant and genuinely silly really.

As my kids always say, “it’s all good” and I guess that means the bad as well.

For me true knowledge comes from realizing our reality is subjective and greatly colored by what has come before. Should we choose to become bitter and immediately assume people will hurt us because some have, at the risk of becoming a bitter, angry human being that dwells in mistrust and suspicion? I think not! Or should we try to embrace that being human is to accept we are all flawed and imperfect.

Or as someone I know says, “we shouldn’t strive for perfection, only progress.”

If we are constantly judging the behavior of those around us we may find ourselves expecting too much or even at times not enough. I guess the secret is to expect nothing and go with the flow.

I guess that’s the best answer since I’m too damn old to swim upstream anymore.

So I choose to be happy when those I care about are loving and kind, and resigned and forgiving when they aren’t. After all, others don’t set your expectations, you do, so why are they responsible for what you put upon them.

Relationships can be confusing and difficult or easy and flowing. I guess it’s up to me to choose.

The choice is made. Oh no, wait I want to choose again. OY! It’s the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man!

Oh well, I do love marshmallows.

 

 

Corn Stuffed Zucchini Boats

 

4 zucchinis cut in half. Scoop out insides until they resemble a boat. Leave edge of zucchini a bit in tact so they prevent the corn from leaking out the sides.

Salt and pepper the zucchini and set aside.

Mix together

2 cups corn can be fresh, frozen or a mix of both

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons flour

1 cup half and half

2 eggs

¾ cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla

pepper to taste

 

Mix eggs and half and half and add other ingredients. Use immersion blender and mix corn mixture until it mixes together, but some corn is still recognizable.

 

Fill zucchini with corn mixture and sprinkle cheese on top.

Bake approx. 20 to 25 minutes until set.

Sprinkle lightly on top with fresh chopped red pepper

 

 

Having the Sense to Choose a Sense of Humor

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I’ve made many mistakes in my life. Lots of bad calls, bad falls and bad choices. Sometimes, all at the same time. But when I was in heaven pre-birth picking out stuff I made one good choice, I asked the angel in charge of supplies about the sense of humor.

“Okay,” he said, “but that’s a big one, you have to trade in a few of the things you’ve already chosen.”

“Okay, what do I have to give back?

“I’ll need that perfect nose and oh, sorry you won’t be able to keep the all you can eat and not gain weight metabolism.”

“That’s a little harsh isn’t it?”

“No way, a sense of humor is a biggie and worth a lot. Oh, and sorry I need those blue eyes back.”

I grudgingly agreed.

“Just checking your list here and see you took your father’s height. Sorry”

“Wait, you mean I have to do the short and slow metabolism thing of my mother?”

“Yep.”

“I’m not sure a sense of humor is worth all this good stuff.”

“Well it is a choice you know. If you get all the stuff to make you gorgeous and thin, you really don’t need a sense of humor. You will however need it for the short, dumpy, big nosed and slow metabolism you.”

“Uh huh,” I said. “So you mean a sense of humor is really worth all this?”

“More than gold.”

“I don’t understand. Why do I have to give everything back?”

“Because having a great sense of humor will mean so much to you.”

“Doesn’t it mean the same to everyone?”

“Nope, it depends on your life. I see how much you’ll need it, whereas some others won’t as much.”

“Doesn’t everyone need a sense of humor?”
“Of course to a certain extent, but some need a small quantity to get through life, you will need copious amounts.”

“Great, that’s comforting.”

“Hey I’m only telling it like it is. Listen, I don’t want to be mean here so I’ll tell you what, I’ll let you keep your personality. It’s a high end one and it will help you overcome living without the other stuff.”

“You’re all heart. But I’m reconsidering. I mean why do I need such a Cadillac sense of humor?”

“It’s how you’ll overcome the challenges life throws your way.”

“Can’t I just duck and avoid them?”

The angel smiled. “I forgot you haven’t met your mother yet. No the sense of humor you have will be your savior in your life. Trust me on this one.”

“Can I share it with the world?”

“Yes, you could create comedy.”

“What’s comedy?”

“It’s something you do in show business.”

“So I will be in this show business with my sense of humor”

“Yes, and that’s where you’ll need it most.”

“So I need a sense of humor to share my sense of humor in this show business thing?”

“Desperately.”

“Does everyone in show business have a sense of humor?”

“No, that’s why you need to have one.”

“I understand.”

“No you don’t, but you will if you ever see show business up close.”

“Can I pass my sense of humor onto my children and grandchildren?”

“Absolutely, it’s yours to do whatever you want with now.”

“Well at least it makes me feel better that I paid a high price and got the better model. My kids will benefit as well.”

“What exactly does this sense of humor do for me?”

“Allows you to laugh.”

“Can’t everyone laugh?”

“Sadly, no.”

“What does this laughing thing do?”

“Extends your life. Helps you embrace joy.”

“What’s joy?”

“Joy is a feeling of happiness and contentment that transcends.”

“So that’s a good thing right?”

“That’s the best. It also helps you leap over the pits of despair and heartache.”

“Are there a lot of those around?”

“Many I’m afraid. They are parts of the human condition in copious supply. Humor thwarts the damage they can do.”

“What else can it do?”

“It brings you a sense of euphoria.”

“How does that feel?”

“It’s when your brain releases these little things called endorphins that make you feel sublimely happy.”

“I want to feel happy, right?”

“Right.”

“It sounds like this humor thing is the best thing you can have.”

“It is one of the best.”

“Did I get to keep any other good stuff?”

“Well humor usually goes hand in hand with a big heart. So you have that going for you as well.”

“So that’s a good thing right?”

“Yes and no.”

“Why no?”

“Because caring about others can be painful at times. That’s sort of a double edged sword I’m afraid.”

“Like humor, huh?”

“No, humor has no double edge. It’s the one thing that is completely good. It let’s you see the funny side of life even when life is sad and cruel. It opens you up to a way of thinking that you could never understand unless it’s a part of you. It brings only good into your life and the lives of those around you.”

“Sounds to me like it beats out skinny and blue eyes any day.”

The angel laughed. “You can easily survive in life without those things, but without a sense of humor you’d be lost.”

“Thanks for turning me onto it. I’m really glad I chose humor and laughter.”

“It’s the best choice you’ll ever make because it will make all the bad choices bearable. So enjoy!”

“Hey who’s that guy over there with the bright red head of hair?”

“That’s Carrot Top.”

“Did he choose humor and to be funny too?”

The angel shook his head. “That’s a matter of opinion, but that’s a discussion for another day.”

Lemon Drop Cookies

1 and ¾ cup all-purpose flour (spooned & leveled)

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup unsalted butter, softened

¾ cup granulated sugar

1 large egg, room temperature preferred

Zest of one lemon (about 1 tablespoon lemon zest)

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon lemon extract

2 cups of white chocolate melting discs work best

1 cup of lemon drops crushed

 

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or a large mixing bowl using a hand-held mixer, beat the butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the egg and mix until well combined. Add in the lemon zest, lemon juice, lemon extract, and mix well, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Slowly add in the dry ingredients and mix until just combined

Cover tightly and transfer to the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to chill the cookie dough.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

Remove the cookie dough from the refrigerator and scoop out two tablespoon sized pieces of cookie dough onto the prepared baking sheets. I prefer to roll the dough into balls and then gently press them down a little.

Bake in batches at 350°F for 10-12 minutes. The cookies should look done on the outside, but still a little soft on the inside. Remove from the oven and cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Melt white chocolate and spread a coating of chocolate on cookie

Sprinkle with crushed lemon drops let harden before serving.

 

 

 

I am Grandma Hear Me Roar

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Grandmas just know stuff. How? Simply because through the very process of living and problem solving we have become quite creative about solutions. Are we oriented toward inventive fixes? You bet. I am always surprised by the things my friends will do to solve a problem.

Speaking to my friend Harriet today about the grandchildren and how to navigate the unsure waters of the precarious daughter-sea-of-rules and regulations, she surprised me.

Blue jays were busily chomping on birdseed in her yard as we spoke.

“Don’t you have a problem with the squirrels eating all the seed?” I asked, conjuring up memories of squirrels hanging upside down from my constantly empty bird feeders.

“Oh yes,” she said. “But I sprayed Pam on the wire and now they don’t come anymore.”

I laughed out loud picturing squirrels dropping unceremoniously to the ground with a thunk, then climbing back up, sliding and falling again.

“How long did it take them to get the picture?” I asked.

“Don’t know; just know there is no more squirrel problem here.”

I am constantly amazed at how inventive Grandmas and moms can be.

Although our daughters, and I say daughters because no mother-in-law in her right mind would offer anything but money or gifts to a daughter in law, are garnering a lifetime of their own creative solutions and also share the sheer frustration of keeping all the good advice to themselves.

And that brings me to the Grandma dream.

Yes, there is a Grandma dream. Here’s how it goes.

My daughter calls and says, “Mom I need your advice.”

“Yes, Dear, anything,” I answer.

“Mom, you know how you always made us those special sandwiches when we were in school? How did you keep their shapes?”

I answer citing the extra small baggie trick.

“Thanks, Mom,” she says. “You just seem to know everything about these things.”

I hang up gratified a piece of useful information has been passed down.

Not to be lost in the annals of time, floating above the earth, begging to be used and cherished. It shall be committed to memory and praised as a part of a Grandma legacy.

Okay, so it’s a bit over the top and it’s not a cure for the diseases that plague the world, but a dream is a dream.

I am not certain why Grandma’s become more inventive as they age. Perhaps it’s simply that time enhances creativity, Through the process of living we find ourselves faced with more challenge and therefore become more astute at finding solutions more easily and quickly.

I have found a few of my own to be helpful and yet so obvious after you think of them of course.

When buying greeting cards to keep in the house, place the card in the envelope before storing in the drawer. This saves having to check every envelope to see what fits.

Use a mouse pad to open jars, grips great and is sturdy enough to get the job done easily.

Keep sheets inside matching pillowcases when storing and entire set will be easily at hand when changing the beds.

Plastic candy box inserts make great earring holders and they keep your drawer smelling like chocolate. A win win.

Use a spray bottle to oil your salad. You use less and get much better coverage. The spray bottle also works well when spraying any liquor on a cake.

If glasses lose and screw, stick a safety pin or a twist tie (take the paper off and leave the wire) through the hole where the screw was until you have them fixed.

I’m sure you’ve also discovered tons of timesaving tricks. I’d love to hear yours. Please share them with us in the comment portion.

 

Stuffin Muffins

1 Challah

2 small New Yorker onion rolls

1 cup mushrooms

1 medium carrot

1 stalk of celery

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons oil

½ small onion

2 eggs

5 or 6 cups of chicken or turkey stock

Salt and pepper to taste

1 tsp sage

½ tsp thyme

½ cup of slivered almonds

½ cup of dried cranberries

 

Sauté veggies until soft

Add almonds and cranberries and combine with veggies

Cut up breads and add veggies. Add stock and beaten eggs. Mix well and press down into well-buttered muffin cups.

Place pastry leaf on top of each muffin when serving

Bake on 350 for 25 to 30 minutes until done.

 

Pastry Leaf

Roll out pastry and cut leaves. Bake at 350 until lightly browned.

Color with food coloring. I have also used ground sage to color them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Growing Old Has Some Compensations

stuffed eggplant.jpgA wise person once said, “Grandchildren are God’s way of compensating us for growing old. ” True words indeed. I should like to add my own thoughts and say that grandchildren are the icing on life’s cake, and calorie free. So it isn’t really so odd that after the initial shock, screams of joy and crying jag that ensued when my daughter informed me she was pregnant, I would immediately attempt to find a way to capture forever my ultimate Hallmark moment.

I was certain it would take the entire nine months to cross over into Grandmaland, just as it had to absorb the reality of my own impending motherhood.

Therefore, these words will serve as my personal contribution to the grandma experience, because, thank goodness, this time it won’t be me screaming obscenities in that delivery room.

Now at long last, I shall share that most precious of all Mommy moments as my grandchildren are embroiled in a full-blown tantrum, I can finally say to my beloved daughter—“Don’t complain, you were worse.”

For I am Baby Boomer Grammy, BBG, the coolest Grammy generation.

Aging gracefully as we rush downward dog into our golden years. We are brazen broads who burned our bras, created friends with benefits, and happily set out on our own when, after given a choice, the remote or me, our husbands opted to remain couch bound.

As most Moms I have waited patiently, quite a feat indeed, as my daughter rolled her eyes or sighed when I reached out to touch or hug her a moment longer. Still, I smiled silently at the knowledge that indeed my day would come.

That moment when, as she stared blinded with love for her offspring, she would finally bite from the tree of parental knowledge and whisper, “Do you mean this is how much you love me?” Ah, at last comes the dawn.

But although my son and daughter are the sun, moon, stars and all the heavens to me, I have decided that this book shall be all about us: the Grandmas and their new loves. Now possessed of all that is joyous and wonderful in a lifetime, “The” child to spoil, hug and kiss to our heart’s content.

A tiny person who will light up when I enter the room, won’t care if my nail polish is too red, I gained five pounds or my new hairdo is “so eighties.” I can do no wrong for I shall be “Grandma.” Giver of unconditional love, teller of fairy tales, baker of the best cookies, a port in the rocky storm of parent/child relationships, and always at the ready with the best chicken soup to cure all ills.

Now, at last I shall finally complete the journey I began as a teenager, when after reading Somerset Maugham’s The Razor’s Edge, I envied Larry Darrell as he achieved Nirvana. I shall envy him no more.

Never one to underestimate the volatility of the human psyche, I am certain my current feelings of rapturous joy shall morph into a cornucopia of mood swings that will make menopause seem like a Girl Scout cookie sale.

Even now I am possessed with an aching desire to climb the stairs to my rooftop and scream the news to the world. But alas, the mother-to-be has imposed strict sanctions against my announcing the life-changing information for three months.

This poses a great challenge and some exhaustion as I am literally bursting with this news. The extent of this feat was quite obvious the other evening at a party when my girlfriends all discussed their grandchildren and my lips puffed up like Angelina Jolie’s from biting them so hard.

There is a small modicum of release when driving in traffic as I yell out the window to no one in particular, “I’m going to be a Grandma.” Living in Los Angeles there is certainly no danger anyone will pay the slightest attention to these occasional rants.

Those bits of information that come by way of friends and family we promise not to divulge are, of course, sacrosanct, but when the best of all bests is happening, how shall I ever contain my joy?

I elected a promise from my daughter that she would tell me the second she revealed the news to her brother, hopefully very soon, so that I can experience speaking the words out loud to someone else on this planet. Verbalizing makes it all the more real, don’t you think?

Conversation has become a feat as I seek frivolous, inane subjects that will avoid any temptation to spill the proverbial beans.

I am also wondering if the incidence of phone calls will increase with my daughter’s girth.

Will she call and ask, “Mom how much weight did you gain at this week or that, how long did you crave oranges and what the heck is happening to my belly button?”

The soreness of the boobs, I’m certain will be a premier topic and arise early on.

I am trying desperately to ignore the ongoing shopping spree in my head as I wonder what toys to buy or what colors of clothing to stock in Grandma’s stash. But here’s the cool part, my daughter is going to find out the sex early on. No waiting around and guessing none months for this generation. No generic yellow or green baby rooms or sleepers, and what a joy to know that although the usual taste issues will arise, the color choice will at least be perfect.

I don’t remember the first time I realized the frequency with which I heard the phrase, “when I was little I used to cook with my grandmother.” Yet one day as I watched yet another celebrity chef interview, it hit me like a bolt from the blue how many times I had heard chefs credit their grandmother’s for their interest in cooking.

I was struck by the way they mentioned this fact with the flash of emotion only the most powerful and happy memories can elicit.

It is abundantly clear, “everyone loves their grandma and grandpa, and cooking with them is a treasured memory that lasts a lifetime.

Grandparent love surpasses any other love and blossoms into a safety net woven together with strings of precious childhood memories spent inhaling the sights and wondrous kitchen smells of Grammy.

Their eyes gleam with a special light and they look at you like you are a banana split.

But today is a new world of cold-pressed, organic, environmentally correct child eating and rearing. What is a Baby Boomer who grew up on Hershey Bars, Big Boy onion rings and Dairy Queens to do to pass muster on the kitchen front?

I did attempt to improve my children’s diets in lieu of the free love generation’s desire to return to the earth. My daughter wasn’t allowed soda pop or cookies until she was four years old.

But alas, as with all things life relaxes the rules, and by the time my son was born all bets were off. It became a pizza, Colonel Sanders and Ben and Jerry world.

There was usually a plateful of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies awaiting my children and their friends after school. After all, I grew up watching Ozzie and Harriet and Donna Reed. What did I know about real life, or dieting for that matter? My own weight had ballooned up 100 pounds as I did my daily imitation of a human garbage disposal.

And that is the conundrum, for now I need to get busy learning today’s yeas and nays food wise for new rules now apply.

So, in order to keep the peace and refrain from damaging my precious grandchildren, I have taken it upon myself to “get schooled,” in a healthy lifestyle. I set about to revise and revamp old recipes into new more child-friendly versions.

I am a new grandma in this new world. So as I journey through grandma land, I invite you come along and share the fun, knowledge, tastes and perhaps at times humorous exploits this trip entails.

Okay so this can be made organic and it does include vegetables so I’m getting there!

 

Lamb and Eggplant Bake

 

1 pound of ground lamb

1 cup of brown or white rice

1 ½ cups crumbled feta cheese

1 ½ teaspoons Greek seasoning

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

1 cup of tomato puree

2 cups chicken broth

4 cups cut up eggplant

1 cup of panko crumbs mixed with 1 teaspoon of Greek seasoning and salt and pepper

 

Spray casserole dish. Salt chopped eggplant and drain in colander until water is out. Season lamb. Mix together puree and chicken stock and add Greek seasoning. Place eggplant, lamb, rice and feta cheese in casserole dish and pour liquid mixture over all. Cover and bake in 350-degree oven for one hour or until rice has absorbed all liquid. Remove cover and sprinkle panko crumbs on top and bake another ten minutes until crumbs brown up. Serve with Greek salad and pita for a delicious lunch or dinner.