No Queen Elizabeth, All Americans Aren’t Meghan

queen.jpg

No, Queen Elizabeth, All Americans Aren’t Meghan

With so much attention these days on the royal family and no millennials, I’m not talking about the Kardashians; I’m feeling immense sympathy for Queen Elizabeth. Why you ask, would Norma Zager feel sorry for the Queen?

With very good reason actually. She is a queen it’s true, but she is also a grandmother. Incidentally a very involved one since Harry and William lost their mother so young and it fell to her to become the female authority figure in their young lives. It must be very difficult for her to watch her grandsons unhappy or making bad decisions, just as any grandmother would.

William seems to have towed the party line. Despite his enormous pain at the loss of his mother, he rose to the occasion and selected and fell in love with a woman who in all aspects reflects a royal demeanor. Kate not only won William’s heart but she succeeded to win over the English people and the world. Her grace, refinement and charm have succeeded in creating a mate for the Prince that most deem highly appropriate and positive for a future queen.

Harry as we all have seen, has not dealt well with his position and tragic history. The loss of his mother took a large chunk out of his soul that he has been unable to repair and of course could never replace.

His behavior has been erratic, embarrassing and decidedly un-royal, but the public forgives his weaknesses and trespasses because he is loved.

Enter Meghan Markle. Oops! Now we have a new wrinkle in the royal laundry.

From all accounts the Queen Grandmother seemed to be welcoming because as we all know, what makes our children and grandchildren happy, is fine with us.

Yet, things quickly took a negative turn when Meghan’s family exhibited the signs of, how shall we put it, less than classy and talked to a hungry press about their dirty family secrets.

However, instead of placing the blame where it belonged with the Markle clan, she chose to deride the royals. Poor pitiful Meghan no one stood up for her as she was being attacked by her own family.

I’m sure it hurt in fact I know it does, but what was her reaction to this unpleasant piece of Markle business?

She became defensive instead of understanding that it would never do for the Queen or Prince Charles to come out swinging at anyone.

It is simply not done.

Meghan believed that because she is an American, she can open her big American mouth, as we all do and state her opinions. So sorry Honey, but you’re not in Kansas anymore.

Perhaps the press might have reacted more favorably toward you had you not been so obvious in your distain toward all things royal. It is what it is, get over it.

The royal family lives by a far different standard. Oh, of course they are well compensated for their lack of ability to speak their minds at all times, but sweetie get a grip. A crown is not free and comes with a cost.

Obviously Kate understood this truth and it’s why she’s a beloved member of the royal family.

While poor Meghan was crying into her Hermes handkerchief, she was also slathering her negativity upon Harry. Hasn’t he been through enough? And hasn’t the Queen?

Few people can resist the pomp and circumstance of the royal family. They are the reality television of England and watching their foibles and fashions is a guilty pleasure shared by countless Americans.

The viewing audience for the Kate and Wills’ wedding was astronomical and of course we all sat transfixed to the screen as yet another Windsor regaled us with the possibility of an English happily ever after, despite the grave feast of disappointment offered up by Charles and Diana.

Americans were nostalgic at how much Kate reminded us of our own royal Princess Grace, and aside from the gowns and uproarious chapeaus donned copiously on that royal day, I was struck by something perhaps most overlooked.

Of course as a grandmother, I see things differently and through the lens of all things grandchildren and

I was surprised to witness the fact the Queen of England seems to feel the same way.

Although the wedding was beautiful I managed to escape teary moments, romance aside, until for one split second I found myself face to face with a grandmother’s love and then the tears flowed like water.

Yes, right there in St. Paul’s Cathedral as William and Kate stopped after their nuptials to bow in respect as they headed back up the aisle, the Queen bowed her head and I saw the Grandma lip quiver as clear as day.

Oh she caught herself of course as any self-respecting and quite contained royal would do. Elizabeth more than most is dedicated to composure as the monarch, yet for one brief second she couldn’t contain her grandmother’s love for her grandson.

Her lip quivered and she looked down to hide the rush of emotion only a grandma could feel watching her beloved grandchild heading out into life, a married man, a new wife and a new life.

I imagined it must have been especially difficult for her as perhaps a fleeting memory of William’s pain at losing his mother washed over her and forced her to stand staunch against the tide of emotion attacking from all sides.

And of course Elizabeth in her well-practiced and inimitable way retained composure and caught that tear before it escaped her eye to fall onto a careworn cheek.

Yes, despite all of our differences at that moment we bonded as grandmothers, and I knew for certain Elizabeth is quite human after all. She has her weaknesses and one of them is William.

Her façade, her inner strength, her public persona all fell away when faced with the emotions of grandma love.

Shame on me for my utter surprise when so many of her grandchildren have praised her devotion. Princess Eugenie for example recounts how, “Granny would take us raspberry picking, and we’d have the raspberry jam that we picked that day on the table for tea.”

Kate first meeting her was surprised to learn the Queen played video games.

And yes part of my surprise does relate to the reputation of the English for being more affectionate with their dogs than their children.

I now know I was wrong and proven so by a quivering lip.

Imagine my surprise when I realized that indeed the Queen of England and I, an American cousin, have so much in common.

We are both no more than grandmas and that is a powerful and positive bond no matter who or what you are.

Now as her new great grandson, Archie, is removed to a country far away I’m certain she is saddened. A face-time chat is only second best to holding your grandchildren and great grandchildren in your arms and coochy-cooing them in person.

Since we can’t always choose our loved ones’ partners, even royalty, it’s more evident than ever to me that life doesn’t always turn out as we planned for any of us, even if you’re the Queen of England.

 

 

 

 

Dieting Becomes Her: And by Her I Mean Grandma

cickenpaprikash.jpg

         Dieting Becomes Her (And By Her I Mean Grandma)

 

Dieting comes as natural to most grandmothers as lying comes to a politician.

I find a small bit of comfort in attempting to discern which of the old wives tales contain a small scintilla of truth, not only for the obvious reasons, but to pass them on to future generations.

Many believe that if you eat standing up, the calories automatically drop to your feet and at worst your size sevens will become a half size larger. Okay, I concur there is a bit of sense in this, gravity and all that. But, try as I may, I can’t get it to work for me. Sure my feet get fatter, but so does everything else. There is definitely something wrong at the very core of this theory.

Eating while standing serves no purpose other than to get less exercise by foregoing pulling out a chair that must work off a few calories. It is also more labor intensive to walk an entire cake to the table than to rationalize standing and eating said cake over the sink. Eating upright leads to the evening off process, leading to the shoveling of more bites into the mouth process, which ultimately leads to the you’re a fat pig result.

I shall explain.

You grab a cake or pie out of the fridge. You must be somewhere in twenty minutes, so you say to yourself, “I have no time to eat. I’m in a hurry! I’ll just grab a piece of this and run. I’m so busy I’ll work these calories off in no time.” (Let me know if any of this sounds familiar).

There is something very strange about eating cake or pie with a fork sans knife. It is difficult to cut perfect pieces. The grooves of the tines seem to stay in the food like fingerprints on a victim’s neck. Screaming SHE ATE CAKE! SHE ATE CAKE! OINK!!!!

My overactive imagination? I think not. Otherwise, why would everyone go to such great lengths evening off the piece they ate. Making certain to cover the fork marks and make the edge smooth to the eye. This eliminates any evidence and usually very little cake or pie for the next person. By the time you cover your tracks, one of two things has happened. Either you’ve eaten an extra five hundred or a thousand calories during the evening off process or there’s so little cake left you’re forced to finish the evidence and tell everyone you had to throw it away because it got moldy or the cat walked across it.

Oh sure the story would stand up in court because who could prove otherwise? Except on the scale and when you are bulging out of your pantyhose. So, if you think I’m telling you not to eat standing up, no way. I know you will, but I guess it’s okay if you’re eating while running around the block three times or jogging cross country or, oh for goodness sake if you’re a jogger, we wouldn’t be having this conversation in the first place!

Of course there are also those who claim eating food from someone else’s plate is best since the calories stay with the initial owner of the food and do not transfer to the interloper. I have yet to prove this theory, but will continue to probe further until satisfied if it be truth or legend.

To add a positive spin to my diatribe, I must admit as we age our appetites do decrease. Ergo the sharing of the sandwich when out to lunch in lieu of a whole one, smaller portions and filling up more quickly. I suppose one must find comfort in this revelation although the fact our metabolism seems to move in a turtle-like fashion must offset this happy occurrence.

I am not one to judge since my metabolism and I have been at odds for years and it is the Rip Van Winkle of the metabolism world.

Or as my friend Yolanda so often points out, she now has the metabolism of a corpse.

So I shall continue to downward dog and Tai Chi my way into some semblance of fitness hoping against hope that my Grammy pants remain loose and I can keep up with my grandsons. This of course is the best form of exercise and I embrace it fully.

 

 

 

Chicken Paprikash Soup

4 large Chicken thighs

1 onion

2 cans chicken broth

2 heaping tablespoons Hungarian paprika (more may be added if your tastes run to spicy)

Salt and pepper

Flour for dusting

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper or ½ teaspoon hot sauce

½ cup each of sour cream and half and half

½ cup crumbled crispy bacon for topping (optional)

Season and dust chicken thighs

Sauté chicken in butter and oil mixture (Easy on the fat is okay)

Add chopped onion and sauté until translucent and soft

When chicken is browned drain excess fat and add chicken broth to deglaze the pan

Add paprika and cook until incorporated

Add salt, pepper and cayenne or hot sauce to taste

Temper sour cream until room temperature and begin to slowly add to broth and chicken. When creamy, add half and half.

Finish warming and serve with a dollop of sour cream or crème fraiche or crumbled bacon pieces. Chicken may be served on the side or shredded into the soup and spaetzle may also be added to soup before serving.

 

I am Grandma Hear Me Roar

stuffinmuffins-e1557940930793.jpg

 

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.