Foursquare Helps Vegetarians Celebrate National Cheeseburger Day

northstarToday is National Cheeseburger Day and it seems to be a particularly good time to extoll the virtues of a non-animal, meat-free, violence-free burger.

Do you have a favorite veggie burger restaurant?

 

Have you visited any of these locations?

How about your own recipe? I’d love to hear about it!

(I received the following news release and thought I’d share it with y’all who live in different parts of the country.)

goldenmeanTo help enjoy the beloved sandwich, Foursquare has made is possible for vegetarians to get in on the celebration by rounding up a list of the country’s best veggie burgers.

Forget “checking in” with Foursquare’s new app – now we’re all about leaving tips at places you love (or hate) and finding recommendations personalized for YOU by allowing you to pick from over 10,000 “tastes” (everything from “veggie burgers” to “veggie pizza,” “veggie pho” and “vegetarian curries”). We have over 55 million people using the app, all of which have contributed to the making of this list of meat-less beauties.

Details on the top veggie burgers (and a popular tip for each location) according to Foursquare around the country are below.

BEST VEGGIE BURGERS IN THE USA

Top Tip: “That veggie burger was better than a lot of regular burgers I’ve had. Definitely recommended.”

Top Tip: “Best veggie burger ever- I couldn’t believe it wasn’t meat. The kale salad is also a must-order. Hillstone is surprisingly very vegan-friendly!”

Top Tip: “Very cool vibe! Maca hot latte was amazing and yes the burger lived up to the reviews!”

Top Tip: “$6 burgers/veggie burgers during happy hour. Perpetual happy hour on Yuenglings ($3). You can easily spend very little or live like a hip king here. Awesome brunch, too.”

Top Tip: “Bring a carnivore here who you want to convince that being a vegetarian, vegan, or hipster is cool. Also, amazing playlist when DJs aren’t spinning.

Top Tip: “The spinach dip is what I come for & the veggie burger is the BEST!!!

Top Tip: “This is hands down the best veggie burger I have ever had. It has substance, flavor, texture, and obviously a little love. Wow.”

Top Tip: “I don’t know what I love more the cornbread or the veggie burger”

Top Tip: “Veggie burger was awesome! Handmade fresh with great seasoning. The Kentucky bourbon is exceptional too.”

Top Tip: “The food here is unbelievable! Just enjoyed a Veggie Burger that was absolutely outstanding.”

 

Just a Cup of Coffee – Part Two

Just a Cup of Coffee…the true love story of Princess Rosebud and her tugboat man.

Click to read Part One HERE

(This might take a while, grab your hankies, it could have been broken up into three parts, but I didn’t want to prolong the happy ending.)

Fast forward to a year later, the following September 1991.

Yes, I kept my promise; no dates and no mistakes. There was the excruciating lure of nubile and suntanned young surfers but I stood firm in my resolve in spite of the half naked, salty-skinned–oh crap. Living in Southern California is sooo like opening up a fresh box of candy. It wasn’t fair, but a deal’s a deal.

box of chocolatesIf only I could have had just a teensy-weensy bite here, a bite there–oh, SO yummy–that one has a caramel center, or that other one’s coconut-filled, or a tart juicy cherry embraced by dark chocolate, or full of Baileys Irish Creamer–you get what I’m sayin’?  I’ll just bet you do. On my towel, surveying the beach, I wanted to take a little bite out of each one, so to speak.

But….I had to go cold turkey and avoid them all. Not one lick, not one taste.

I had a goal, I had a vision; I had my list–clenched tightly in my hand–WILLPOWER–it’s all about the willpower.

Here’s where serendipity might have had a hand in the convergence of our lifepaths.

In the beginning, I THOUGHT I first laid eyes on the captain when I was hired for the marketing department of a local cruise line.

Aside…because the whole idea of me and boats is a joke. I’m not what you’d consider sea-worthy. I’d only been on a couple of boats previously and became violently seasick on both of those trips.

OK, now read this – could it be the hand of fate that brought us together? Was our eventual connection forged a decade before ?
_________________________________________________

Was it luck or serendipity? 

On a romantic evening In front of the fire with a couple snifters of Courvoisier, my tugboat man and I concluded that our paths did cross, not in a prior life, but…

In the 1980s he captained a charter vessel in our local harbor–tours of the bay, dinner cruises; that kind of thing.  

In between going out to sea for four to six months, he’d come back to SoCal for a break and to surf-and worked locally.

Around that same time, my mom and I took my then five-year-old son on his first boat ride, a tour of San Diego Bay.

At that time, there was really only one boat company that offered daily excursions.

It wasn’t until we had been married for probably ten years or so– looking through an old photo album–when he saw a pic of my mom and me on “his” boat — that the subject came up.

(That’s part of me and the Coronado Bridge. Obviously, my mom couldn’t take a decent pic.)

Since there were only two captains, and the time of day we were there was during his (remembered) shift, it’s highly possible that we spoke–or made eye contact. As captain, he always greets and counts the passengers while he collects boarding passes; especially because we had a child with us. Always concerned with safety, my captain.

Our ships DID, most likely, PASS in the night (day).  

What would have happened if we had talked? I was married with a little boy–the timing was absolutely not right.  

Did we each hold on to a momentary glance or imprint on our subconscious so that our path to romance was pre-determined? 

Why did I become employed at a cruise line when I don’t even like boats?

I still have no idea.

That we met in 1991 and felt an instant connection might be interpreted as luck or serendipity. 

Which do you think it is?
_______________________________________________________________

Back to the story:  Was it merely coincidence–meaninglessly simultaneous occurance–or  synchronicity?  We agree that it was meant to be. We’re two peas in a pod, me and him.

We mirror each other.

One of my first marketing duties was to attend a downtown trade show. I vividly recall my ensemble–and before you get all judge-y and everything, let’s take the year into consideration–1991–please be kind.

You know you looked exactly the same.

You KNOW you did.

I wore a short split skirt (dare I say skort) of silky polyester-type material (I know, I know) imprinted with brightly colored parrots (cringe), a turquoise blazer, and four-inch-high red heels. Oh, and they were LARGE parrots.  I’m five-feet-tall with very curly dark brown hair. You can imagine the style when I tell you it added five inches to my height. Nuff said–stop laughing, I have nothing to apologize for; it was the decade of big hair.

The owner of the company walked by our booth and introduced me to his senior captain. I played it cool; I’m good at that–just a quick handshake and then I turned my attention to the marketing materials like I was very, very busy.

I only allowed myself a passing glance his way, committed as I was to making a good impression on my boss. Plus, I was fully dedicated to my promise to celibacy and just because he was ADORABLE was no excuse to give in to temptation. Not even with those green-gray eyes. Not even.

Since I was on a “man diet, I transformed him (in my mind) into a rich chocolaty truffle chocolate truffleand successfully used my powers to resist–at least on that particular day. During the next few weeks, our paths crossed many times; at the office with brief hellos in the hallway, and with overt scrutiny during cruises when I accompanied some of the charters. (When I wasn’t stuck with my head in the toilet. I told you the truth, I’m not a natural seawoman.)

As much as I tried to deny it–I can’t lie–there were those familiar little tingles, goose bumps even, delicious frissons of attraction. On one hand I was fighting it with all I had, yet on the other hand I spent more time in the office than I really needed to.  A little extra makeup, perfume, a few new outfits–you know how it is. OK OK, I admit it! A smile from him did something to my insides, that fluttery butterfly sensation I willed myself to ignore.

I carried The List in my handbag and referred to it in moments of weakness, and for a while I was able to avoid temptation.

Here comes the good part, y’all.

In mid-November, I met with a client at one of the boats to plan a large corporate event. As we walked up the gangway, I discovered the captain was on board in the wheelhouse. I had no idea he would be there, and resolved to ignore him, except that everyone always wants to meet a captain, (too much Love Boat) so I was forced to be polite and make the introductions.

Here’s where it all went wrong-or right-depending on your point of view.

After my meeting ended, I did not immediately leave. I stalled, meandering around the small area of shops located near the harbor. I was so mad at ME; I tried to talk myself into leaving by going over The List and telling myself that I should be writing up the event details.

Just GO, I said to myself! But guess who didn’t listen? I found myself furtively looking around to see if the captain was still there. Since the whole chocolate visualization thing didn’t seem to be working anymore, I turned him into as a gooey, cheesy, spicy pizza and I used all my willpower to stand firm–to stay focused–recounting all the reasons why that delicious piece of heaven is not worth the calories.

I swear to you, I had every good intention of leaving and driving to the corporate office, I really did, but cosmic forces had grabbed hold of my good sense.

I was powerless. The hand of fate had me in her grip–and that chicka had been working out with the heavy weights.

Finally, I could find no further excuse to drag my feet and delay the inevitable departure.

I very reluctantly and slowly walked to my car, parked in front of a coffee shop, and as if by magic, the captain appeared.

I was trying to act all cool and nonchalant in spite of the fact that my heart was racing.

“Where are you going? Why didn’t you say goodbye? “What’s up?” “How about buying a co-worker a cup of coffee?”

I demurred, saying I had to go, I had another appointment (not true); uh, I don’t buy guys coffee, and he kept badgering me,

“C’mon, don’t be stuck up, don’t you have fifty cents for a cup of coffee?”

(That was before six-dollar lattes and Starbucks on every corner.)

“You don’t want me to think you’re a snob, do you?”

[pause]

That did it.

Of course you understand why I wouldn’t want him to think any of those things, right? RIGHT? It was a matter of pride; once he turned on his charm, I was hooked. I unearthed a few quarters from the bottom of my handbag.

Yes, I bought the coffee. It’s something I can’t believe myself.

My other credo had always been, “Princesses don’t pay. Men pay.” But buy the coffee I did.

Honestly, I was borderline pathetic. Not even borderline. I was hanging on to the cliff with my fingertips.

It’s like sparks were flying off his body. I made every excuse in the book to lean over and oops, accidentally brush his arm and cop a sniff. He smelled heavenly.

It’s that damn pheromone thing. I was–still am-hopelessly–magically attracted. He’s irresistible. And he knows it.

We took our coffee outside and sat at a cement patio table. It was one of those perfect SoCal November days–balmy even. For a few moments we said nothing as we sipped from our coffee and enjoyed the warmth of the sun.

Red lights flashed on and off in my head.

DANGER AHEAD! STOP THE MISSION! RUN!

Less than a foot away from me he straddled the half-moon shaped concrete bench. His thighs were encased in soft worn jeans and my thoughts were heading into hazardous waters.

His hair was wet and looked like he just had showered.

“What are you doing here? Did you know I was going to be here?”

“No, I didn’t, I had to update the logs, and I surfed a bit earlier.”

Ah, that’s where the wet hair came from.

“So…you’re a surfer?”

That is most definitely NOT on my list.

“I like to think I am.”

Scintillating conversation, huh? I thought that was a bit arrogant, a bit–AHEM–cocky.

Later I learned that he had spent much of his youth in Kauai and he really was/is a great surfer, but I didn’t know much about him — only what I was feeling.

As the conversation unfolded and we chatted–he told me where he lived and where he had gone to college, and–those thighs, oh wait–no, not that–of course I meant what kind of music he liked and that he loves animals–I found myself listening to his voice but not hearing the words.

This is where it gets weird.

And pinky-swear, it’s all true, it all happened exactly like this. It was REAL.

He looked at me and smiled.

I felt lit from within.

My heart melted. (Even now, his smiles affect me the same way.)

I sighed. He sighed. I sighed again.

That was IT.

Everything became quiet and a calm-before-the-storm sensation enveloped me. I placed my hands on the bench because I was suddenly lightheaded–I needed support because I felt like the ground beneath shifted;  waves that triggered that falling phenomenon just before you completely succumb to sleep–like a hypnagogic myoclonic twitch.

Faintly, I sensed the planets tumble into position, the clickclickclick… of stars aligning in the heavens; the sun, moon, Venus, and Mars at that moment were singing in the universe.

Did we just have an earthquake? I jumped off the bench like it was on fire. I ran to my car, unable to deal with the intensity of the moment. He was right behind me. He was so annoying!

“Where ya  goin’? We  should go out sometime.”

I was having a hard time breathing and fumbled with my keys as I unlocked the car. I leaned against the door for support and turned to him,

“When? Tonight?”

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m not known for being subtle.

“I have to work a charter later, I’ll give you a call.”

And with that, I drove off.

Of course, I never went back to work. Who could blame me?

I raced home and power-called all my girlfriends.

I was in panic mode.

I reported every detail to one friend after another. I needed advice, I needed explanations. I needed to be talked down. But no one had experienced anything comparable. No one knew what to do.

I was on this voyage alone; no rules to follow. I was in uncharted waters.

That evening I did what we are warned not to do, what mothers counsel daughters against.

I was nervous and jumping out of my skin, but also determined to be 100% honest (also on my list). How else would I know if he was “the one”? I called and left a message on his voicemail. Remember way back when we used voicemail?

“Hi, can you give me a call when you hear this message? There’s something I need to ask you.”

He called a couple hours later. I was  on my bed, reading a magazine, pretending I was not waiting for the call…dreading the call.

“Hi there, it’s me. I got your message, but I was planning to call you anyway. What’s up?”

I took a deep breath and decided it was now or never–I needed to go for it…take that chance. DO it.

”Uhh, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about what happened at the harbor…I never felt anything like that EVER, and I think… I think…”

I took a deep breath and the words tumbled out,

“IthinkIamfallinginlovewithyou
andwonderifyoufeelthesame
way–orifitisjustme.”

“I mean, I really need to know.”

[Pause]   [More pause]

Oh boy. In that single, painful, heartstopping moment I wished I could hit delete and erase the last five minutes.

Palms sweaty, heart pounding, OMG, I am a total f-ing idiot–what have I just said–I’m insane, he’ll think I’m a freak or I’m exhibiting psycho pre-stalker tendencies–and then, finally, it seemed like hours of silence had gone by–I was gonna hang up and hide under my bed if he didn’t say something–he said,

“Umm, no, it’s not just you. I’m feeling the same exact way. Something happened to me today too,  and I can’t explain it either.  How about us going on a real date and let’s talk about it?”

I released the breath I hadn’t been aware I was still holding. That last planet locked into position.

I discovered my soul mate, my tugboat man.

There’s lots more to this story; some twists and turns and ups and downs, but the thread that ties it all together is how we found each other and fell in love.

Today: I wait for him to come home. And wait. And wait. And remind myself, “Don’t count the miles, count the I-love-yous”

Christina Perri, “Miles”

Happy Bunny Day!

hopping_bunny

From the home of Princess Rosebud and her tugboat captain…

Have a lovely day!

We’re going to walk to the beach, which is about a six-mile round trip.

Gotta work off all that yummy Easter candy!

Easter Egg Basket

Hoppy Easter, everyone!

94361

A recipe and a request…from a tugboat captain

The wonderful FurFiles (meow!) is back from her Jamaican vacation, and it’s about time!  I’ve missed her astute blogging and pithy commentary, like the many ways I can exact revenge on my tugboat man should the need arise.

ex=lax signNo, I’m not going to put ex-lax in his food. Not this time, anyway.

Ms Fur has furrily requested the recipe for another version of carrot bread I made last night, loosely based on a recipe from my 1970s Laurel’s Kitchen cookbook.

I’m not the magnificent artist of decor and whimsy like Judy at Petit4Chocolatier  nor do I possess the versatility of (bakery owner in another life) Tonette of tonettejoycefoodfriendsfamily but I have my most consistent success with everyday, homey, mom-like healthy breads, apple pies, lentil cookies, and black bean brownies.pastry bag and tips

Confession: I’ve been known to wield a mean pastry bag to build roses with tip #12 and #104 on flower nail #7 (as well as shells and garland)  but I save that skill set for special occasions only.

A Schwarzwälder kirsch kuchen similar to one I made to celebrate my son’s graduation.

Black Forest Cherry Cake

Black Forest Cherry Cake dripping in kirschwasser

 

First the request...I’m conducting an interview of my resident mariner for a future post. In the wake of today’s ferry accident in New York and other recent vessel related incidents, it seems timely.  

Anything you’d like to know?

I’ve tortured used my not inconsiderable powers of persuasion to convince my tugboat man to put up his surfboard for a moment and consent to an interview. The convincing involved all sorts of things like I need to wear nothing but a pair of six-inch heels and red lipstick and must refer to him as Most Exalted Master Seaman, but that is my cross to bear, not yours.

It was his idea to take requests from my readers in the wonderful world of blogging and Twitter and FB and I agree that’s a great idea–which should prove to doubters (and children) that hubs does have an independent thought once in a great while.

He’ll entertain queries about maritime-related stuff, what it’s like being married to me(!), technical stuff about boat handling/boat restoration, marlinspike seamanship,– ask away!

Certain things can’t be revealed of course, but he’ll do his best to answer all questions. He’s a USCG certified instructor, so you know he’s got the cred and he’s not just another pretty face.

You’ll discover the funny side to life as a seaman–they have a weird sense of humor–creating witty rhymes such as, “It’s not gay when you’re underway…” [urban dictionary]

I’ll credit the question with a link or you can remain anonymous–your choice.

And now for the recipe….carrotraisinbread2 carrot raisin bread

Carrot Raisin Bread
It’s moist and delicious with a rich texture! The difference is in the process. Try it and let me know what you think about it. Hubs loves it!

Ingredients
One cup grated carrots
One cup raisins
3/4 cup honey (I didn’t have a lot of honey so I used 1/4 honey, 1/4 agave, 1/4 brown sugar) Maple syrup would be yummy, too.
One teaspoon each: cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, ginger, cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
Two tablespoons vegetable oil
One egg, beaten
1 1/2 cups water
1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 325 degrees, not sure how to do the conversions.
In a medium saucepan, cook carrots, raisins, honey/sugar, oil, and spices in the water for about ten minutes. Let cool. When cool, add beaten egg and mix well. Combine flour, baking soda, salt, and add to wet ingredients. Pour into one or two loaf pans depending on size. I made mine in one large loaf pan. Bake for about 45 minutes but check carefully so it doesn’t over bake. Let cool before slicing.

 

The secret of a successful marriage

What is marriage all about? Based upon my personal research, experimentation, and analysis, I have the answers to your questions.

This is for all you young’uns who’re on the cusp of searching for a mate or for the older and hopefully wiser female who perhaps wants to dip a toe back into the dating pond.

Where’s Harry? A Wet Republic pool party in full swing

Do you want a life partner with whom to share your laughs, your tears, your bout with intestinal flu, your pillow and cat-laden bed, and to assist in the breeding of your offspring?

What’s the secret to my long lasting (twenty-two years together, nineteen married) relationship?

The secret is…COMPROMISE. 

Not really. I’m only messing with your head.

What works around here is torture and retaliation.

That’s it. Simple. Torture and retaliation.

It works like magic.

Case in point: My tugboat man goes out to sea for quite a while-usually two months or so at at time. When he returns, all he can think about (other than THAT) is surfing. Yes, he’s a big old surfer baby. Right now there are big winter waves pounding our coast.

sufingdragger-san-diego

This is not my captain because he’s not a dick dragger. That is NOT my term. I didn’t think of it but I wish I had. It’s what the young folks call a boogie boarder. Very descriptive, right? Think about it…

dog_surfing_01

This isn’t him, either. He’s not that cute but thank goodness, he’s less hairy.

sunset_cliffs_05

This isn’t him either, but this is how big the waves were at Sunset Cliffs.

A couple days ago he left at 5:30 a.m. to surf in La Jolla. In case you’re a surfer yourself, waves were mostly six feet with an occasional eight foot set. I was just about on my last nerve with this surf obsesh, so I blocked the driveway with sawhorses and trash cans so he couldn’t pull in the driveway.  Hee hee.sawhorse2C11TrashCanOld.jpg2F5B174A-5A60-43AB-8E0F6CCF2434E2ED.jpgLargerHe had to get out of his truck, move the obstacles, and then pull in.

After that, I used my wiles to torture him into building four more shelves for my lovely collection of shells and rocks.

And that brings us to today. Sunday. I guess the honeymoon’s over.

I was out in the garage chatting up the hubs about tonight’s dinner menu: freshly baked French bread, Caesar salad with my signature dressing, and thought I’d make some Frico at the same time that I make the croutons. I asked him:

“Have you ever had Frico? Do you know what it is?”

“Yeah, I know what a Frico is, I’m married to one.”

How RUDE. HOW RUDE!

This is Frico, I am not Frico.

This is Frico, I am not Frico.

I was being the  best wife ever; I brought him lunch on  a tray while he was working on restoring his rowboat and building yet another shelf (I love shelves, OK?) and THIS is the attitude I have to deal with!? After I brought him a wheatgrass smoothie, fresh pear cut in half and filled with nonfat cottage cheese dusted with cinnamon–blueberry-smiley-face-berries-pixmac-photo-75642785and to make it extra-special, a smiley face out of fresh blueberries–he retaliates with a comment like that? Oh, he’ll pay all right, oh yes he will. We’ll see who’s FREAKY when he takes me to South Coast Plaza tomorrow. We’ll test the limits of his stamina and endurance throughout the huge shopping center. We’ll whet our whistle at one end with Bloomingdales as we march determinedly toward my personal holy grail, (do you hear the trumpets sounding?) as we round the corner to….Chanel–Chanel, the holder of my bliss.

Torture and retaliation-the stuff of which great marriages are made.

Frico, not Freako

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Using largest holes on a 4-sided grater, coarsely shred enough cheese to measure 1 cup. Line a large baking sheet with nonstick liner. Stir together cheese, flour, and pepper. Arrange tablespoons of cheese 4 inches apart on liner, stirring cheese in bowl between tablespoons to keep flour evenly distributed. Flatten each mound slightly with a metal spatula to form a 3-inch round.Bake frico in middle of oven until golden, about 10 minutes. Cool 2 minutes on sheet on a rack, then carefully transfer each crisp (they are very delicate) with metal spatula to rack to cool completely.

Meow

Finishing up three or four posts that aren’t cooperating. They’re not funny enough, they have no point, no denouement, no zing–nada. Instead of a rational thought process, I’ll offer up a scattered smorgasbord of tasty appetizers instead of a whole meal.

Remember these cats?

bandit in a boxOur Bandit used to talk to us that way. After a while, I started answering her back. She’d say, “Meow“, I’d respond, “Meow”. She’d stroll into the kitchen and greet me with a head nod and a brief “Mew”. I’d imitate her head nod and answer her. She tried so hard to communicate with us! If we didn’t go to bed at the same time every night–if we stayed up a bit longer than usual–Bandit marched into the family room with an outraged sense of purpose-maintain eye contact–and kind of growly-meow, walk a few steps toward the bedroom, and then walk back to us. If we didn’t follow her, she’d leave in a huff and wait on the bed and if we didn’t move quick enough, one swipe of her her paw let us know she was pissed. She had the sharpest claws. They spoke volumes.

One day, the captain said something to me and I didn’t hear him. Instead of saying, “What did you say?” I said, “Meow?” He seemed to understand what I meant because he repeated himself. That one meow led to complete conversations in cat language. Angry meows, grunting meows, questioning meows, and mews in agreement. We just have to remember not to do it when anyone else is around. I’m not sure many people would understand. Meow?

We worked out at the gym this morning. Before we left, I asked the hubs to take a couple pictures of me. See the hairband with sparkles and the Hello Kitty slippers? Starfish?

me2 Pictures of me

Late this afternoon I heard a hawk in the eucalyptus tree across the street. It let me get really close for these pics! The colors were magnificent. I wish I took better photos.
hawk2 Hawk in tree
Chocolate cake was requested by my tugboat man; I whipped up an easy one bowl version. It was sooo good! It’s lowfat but really moist. The recipe is below.
choccloseup chocolate cake

One Bowl Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Glaze
from Better Homes and Gardens

  • cup all-purpose flour
  • cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup milk ( I use half non-fat milk and half cold coffee)
  • 1/4 cup cooking oil
  • teaspoon vanilla
  • egg
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degree F. Grease and lightly flour a 9×1-1/2-inch round or 8x8x2-inch baking pan.2. In a large mixing bowl combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add milk, oil, and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed just until combined. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add egg and beat 2 minutes more. Pour batter into prepared pan.

    3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean. Cool cake on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove cake from pan. Cool thoroughly on a wire rack. Spread with glaze.

Chocolate Glaze
2 tbsp. butter
1/4 cup cocoa
1  cup confectioners sugar
3 tbsp. water or coffee
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Melt butter in small saucepan over low heat. Stir in cocoa and water. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens; do not boil. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla, gradually add confectioners sugar; beat with wire whisk until smooth.

T’was the night before the captain comes home!

A miracle occurred and at the very last minute, my tugboat man has been released from his assignment and is on the long  journey home. Because of the great distance he must travel, it takes two days but he’ll be arriving on Friday, which means another drive to the airport at midnight. It’s an unexpected joy, and in honor of this great occasion, I have written a poem based very loosely on “Twas The Night Before Christmas“.  It won’t win any prizes, that’s for sure!

Twas the night before arrival
when all through the house
there was a lot of vacuuming and bleach
with not a single dust bunny too far to reach.

The little sign says Princess Rosebud but it doesn't show up very good

The sign says Princess Rosebud but it’s hard to see.

The f-me boot was hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that Capt Cranky wouldn’t be too tired to…you know, (overshare).

The sheets are perfumed and ironed with care
because FINALLY my tugboat man would soon be there.

There’s granola and cookies and cupcakes, too
And vodka and whiskey, and champagne flutes.
Let’s all hope I can find that missing corkscrew.

I did a mani and a pedi and some ‘scaping, too
for the reason that you-know-who would heed the clue

I’ll  drive to the airport and what might I find
but a very, very tired husband who’s ever so kind.

And what to my wondering eyes will appear
but last minute gifts so shiny and sheer.

And I in my vintage Valentino
and he in his new fuzzy robe
will sit by the fire and sip champs ever so slow.

Just a Cup of Coffee – Part Two

Just a Cup of Coffee…the true love story of Princess Rosebud and her tugboat man.

Click to read Part One HERE

(This might take a while, grab your hankies, it could have been broken up into three parts, but I didn’t want to prolong the happy ending.)

Fast forward to a year later, the following September 1991.

Yes, I kept my promise; no dates and no mistakes. There was the excruciating lure of nubile and suntanned young surfers but I stood firm in my resolve in spite of the half naked, salty-skinned–oh crap. Living in Southern California is sooo like opening up a fresh box of candy. It wasn’t fair, but a deal’s a deal.

box of chocolatesIf only I could have had just a teensy-weensy bite here, a bite there–oh, SO yummy–that one has a caramel center, or that other one’s coconut-filled, or a tart juicy cherry embraced by dark chocolate, or full of Baileys Irish Creamer–you get what I’m sayin’?  I’ll just bet you do. On my towel, surveying the beach, I wanted to take a little bite out of each one, so to speak.

But….I had to go cold turkey and avoid them all. Not one lick, not one taste.

I had a goal, I had a vision; I had my list–clenched tightly in my hand–WILLPOWER–it’s all about the willpower.

Here’s where serendipity might have had a hand in the convergence of our lifepaths.

In the beginning, I THOUGHT I first laid eyes on the captain when I was hired for the marketing department of a local cruise line.

Aside…because the whole idea of me and boats is a joke. I’m not what you’d consider sea-worthy. I’d only been on a couple of boats previously and became violently seasick on both of those trips.

OK, now read this – could it be the hand of fate that brought us together? Was our eventual connection forged a decade before ?
_________________________________________________

Was it luck or serendipity? 

On a romantic evening In front of the fire with a couple snifters of Courvoisier, my tugboat man and I concluded that our paths did cross, not in a prior life, but…

In the 1980s he captained a charter vessel in our local harbor–tours of the bay, dinner cruises; that kind of thing.  

In between going out to sea for four to six months, he’d come back to SoCal for a break and to surf-and worked locally.

Around that same time, my mom and I took my then five-year-old son on his first boat ride, a tour of San Diego Bay.

At that time, there was really only one boat company that offered daily excursions.

It wasn’t until we had been married for probably ten years or so– looking through an old photo album–when he saw a pic of my mom and me on “his” boat — that the subject came up.

(That’s part of me and the Coronado Bridge. Obviously, my mom couldn’t take a decent pic.)

Since there were only two captains, and the time of day we were there was during his (remembered) shift, it’s highly possible that we spoke–or made eye contact. As captain, he always greets and counts the passengers while he collects boarding passes; especially because we had a child with us. Always concerned with safety, my captain.

Our ships DID, most likely, PASS in the night (day).  

What would have happened if we had talked? I was married with a little boy–the timing was absolutely not right.  

Did we each hold on to a momentary glance or imprint on our subconscious so that our path to romance was pre-determined? 

Why did I become employed at a cruise line when I don’t even like boats?

I still have no idea.

That we met in 1991 and felt an instant connection might be interpreted as luck or serendipity. 

Which do you think it is?
_______________________________________________________________

Back to the story:  Was it merely coincidence–meaninglessly simultaneous occurance–or  synchronicity?  We agree that it was meant to be. We’re two peas in a pod, me and him.

We mirror each other.

One of my first marketing duties was to attend a downtown trade show. I vividly recall my ensemble–and before you get all judge-y and everything, let’s take the year into consideration–1991–please be kind.

You know you looked exactly the same.

You KNOW you did.

I wore a short split skirt (dare I say skort) of silky polyester-type material (I know, I know) imprinted with brightly colored parrots (cringe), a turquoise blazer, and four-inch-high red heels. Oh, and they were LARGE parrots.  I’m five-feet-tall with very curly dark brown hair. You can imagine the style when I tell you it added five inches to my height. Nuff said–stop laughing, I have nothing to apologize for; it was the decade of big hair.

The owner of the company walked by our booth and introduced me to his senior captain. I played it cool; I’m good at that–just a quick handshake and then I turned my attention to the marketing materials like I was very, very busy.

I only allowed myself a passing glance his way, committed as I was to making a good impression on my boss. Plus, I was fully dedicated to my promise to celibacy and just because he was ADORABLE was no excuse to give in to temptation. Not even with those green-gray eyes. Not even.

Since I was on a “man diet, I transformed him (in my mind) into a rich chocolaty truffle chocolate truffleand successfully used my powers to resist–at least on that particular day. During the next few weeks, our paths crossed many times; at the office with brief hellos in the hallway, and with overt scrutiny during cruises when I accompanied some of the charters. (When I wasn’t stuck with my head in the toilet. I told you the truth, I’m not a natural seawoman.)

As much as I tried to deny it–I can’t lie–there were those familiar little tingles, goose bumps even, delicious frissons of attraction. On one hand I was fighting it with all I had, yet on the other hand I spent more time in the office than I really needed to.  A little extra makeup, perfume, a few new outfits–you know how it is. OK OK, I admit it! A smile from him did something to my insides, that fluttery butterfly sensation I willed myself to ignore.

I carried The List in my handbag and referred to it in moments of weakness, and for a while I was able to avoid temptation.

Here comes the good part, y’all.

In mid-November, I met with a client at one of the boats to plan a large corporate event. As we walked up the gangway, I discovered the captain was on board in the wheelhouse. I had no idea he would be there, and resolved to ignore him, except that everyone always wants to meet a captain, (too much Love Boat) so I was forced to be polite and make the introductions.

Here’s where it all went wrong-or right-depending on your point of view.

After my meeting ended, I did not immediately leave. I stalled, meandering around the small area of shops located near the harbor. I was so mad at ME; I tried to talk myself into leaving by going over The List and telling myself that I should be writing up the event details.

Just GO, I said to myself! But guess who didn’t listen? I found myself furtively looking around to see if the captain was still there. Since the whole chocolate visualization thing didn’t seem to be working anymore, I turned him into as a gooey, cheesy, spicy pizza and I used all my willpower to stand firm–to stay focused–recounting all the reasons why that delicious piece of heaven is not worth the calories.

I swear to you, I had every good intention of leaving and driving to the corporate office, I really did, but cosmic forces had grabbed hold of my good sense.

I was powerless. The hand of fate had me in her grip–and that chicka had been working out with the heavy weights.

Finally, I could find no further excuse to drag my feet and delay the inevitable departure.

I very reluctantly and slowly walked to my car, parked in front of a coffee shop, and as if by magic, the captain appeared.

I was trying to act all cool and nonchalant in spite of the fact that my heart was racing.

“Where are you going? Why didn’t you say goodbye? “What’s up?” “How about buying a co-worker a cup of coffee?”

I demurred, saying I had to go, I had another appointment (not true); uh, I don’t buy guys coffee, and he kept badgering me,

“C’mon, don’t be stuck up, don’t you have fifty cents for a cup of coffee?”

(That was before six-dollar lattes and Starbucks on every corner.)

“You don’t want me to think you’re a snob, do you?”

[pause]

That did it.

Of course you understand why I wouldn’t want him to think any of those things, right? RIGHT? It was a matter of pride; once he turned on his charm, I was hooked. I unearthed a few quarters from the bottom of my handbag.

Yes, I bought the coffee. It’s something I can’t believe myself.

My other credo had always been, “Princesses don’t pay. Men pay.” But buy the coffee I did.

Honestly, I was borderline pathetic. Not even borderline. I was hanging on to the cliff with my fingertips.

It’s like sparks were flying off his body. I made every excuse in the book to lean over and oops, accidentally brush his arm and cop a sniff. He smelled heavenly.

It’s that damn pheromone thing. I was–still am-hopelessly–magically attracted. He’s irresistible. And he knows it.

We took our coffee outside and sat at a cement patio table. It was one of those perfect SoCal November days–balmy even. For a few moments we said nothing as we sipped from our coffee and enjoyed the warmth of the sun.

Red lights flashed on and off in my head.

DANGER AHEAD! STOP THE MISSION! RUN!

Less than a foot away from me he straddled the half-moon shaped concrete bench. His thighs were encased in soft worn jeans and my thoughts were heading into hazardous waters.

His hair was wet and looked like he just had showered.

“What are you doing here? Did you know I was going to be here?”

“No, I didn’t, I had to update the logs, and I surfed a bit earlier.”

Ah, that’s where the wet hair came from.

“So…you’re a surfer?”

That is most definitely NOT on my list.

“I like to think I am.”

Scintillating conversation, huh? I thought that was a bit arrogant, a bit–AHEM–cocky.

Later I learned that he had spent much of his youth in Kauai and he really was/is a great surfer, but I didn’t know much about him — only what I was feeling.

As the conversation unfolded and we chatted–he told me where he lived and where he had gone to college, and–those thighs, oh wait–no, not that–of course I meant what kind of music he liked and that he loves animals–I found myself listening to his voice but not hearing the words.

This is where it gets weird.

And pinky-swear, it’s all true, it all happened exactly like this. It was REAL.

He looked at me and smiled.

I felt lit from within.

My heart melted. (Even now, his smiles affect me the same way.)

I sighed. He sighed. I sighed again.

That was IT.

Everything became quiet and a calm-before-the-storm sensation enveloped me. I placed my hands on the bench because I was suddenly lightheaded–I needed support because I felt like the ground beneath shifted;  waves that triggered that falling phenomenon just before you completely succumb to sleep–like a hypnagogic myoclonic twitch.

Faintly, I sensed the planets tumble into position, the clickclickclick… of stars aligning in the heavens; the sun, moon, Venus, and Mars at that moment were singing in the universe.

Did we just have an earthquake? I jumped off the bench like it was on fire. I ran to my car, unable to deal with the intensity of the moment. He was right behind me. He was so annoying!

“Where ya  goin’? We  should go out sometime.”

I was having a hard time breathing and fumbled with my keys as I unlocked the car. I leaned against the door for support and turned to him,

“When? Tonight?”

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m not known for being subtle.

“I have to work a charter later, I’ll give you a call.”

And with that, I drove off.

Of course, I never went back to work. Who could blame me?

I raced home and power-called all my girlfriends.

I was in panic mode.

I reported every detail to one friend after another. I needed advice, I needed explanations. I needed to be talked down. But no one had experienced anything comparable. No one knew what to do.

I was on this voyage alone; no rules to follow. I was in uncharted waters.

That evening I did what we are warned not to do, what mothers counsel daughters against.

I was nervous and jumping out of my skin, but also determined to be 100% honest (also on my list). How else would I know if he was “the one”? I called and left a message on his voicemail. Remember way back when we used voicemail?

“Hi, can you give me a call when you hear this message? There’s something I need to ask you.”

He called a couple hours later. I was  on my bed, reading a magazine, pretending I was not waiting for the call…dreading the call.

“Hi there, it’s me. I got your message, but I was planning to call you anyway. What’s up?”

I took a deep breath and decided it was now or never–I needed to go for it…take that chance. DO it.

”Uhh, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about what happened at the harbor…I never felt anything like that EVER, and I think… I think…”

I took a deep breath and the words tumbled out,

“IthinkIamfallinginlovewithyou
andwonderifyoufeelthesame
way–orifitisjustme.”

“I mean, I really need to know.”

[Pause]   [More pause]

Oh boy. In that single, painful, heartstopping moment I wished I could hit delete and erase the last five minutes.

Palms sweaty, heart pounding, OMG, I am a total f-ing idiot–what have I just said–I’m insane, he’ll think I’m a freak or I’m exhibiting psycho pre-stalker tendencies–and then, finally, it seemed like hours of silence had gone by–I was gonna hang up and hide under my bed if he didn’t say something–he said,

“Umm, no, it’s not just you. I’m feeling the same exact way. Something happened to me today too,  and I can’t explain it either.  How about us going on a real date and let’s talk about it?”

I released the breath I hadn’t been aware I was still holding. That last planet locked into position.

I discovered my soul mate, my tugboat man.

There’s lots more to this story; some twists and turns and ups and downs, but the thread that ties it all together is how we found each other and fell in love.

Today: I wait for him to come home. And wait. And wait. And remind myself, “Don’t count the miles, count the I-love-yous”

Christina Perri, “Miles”

NIne more days ’til Christmas

Relax, have a cup of ginger tea or something stronger, and remember…

stressed is dessert spelled backwards

How a Gall Bladder Attack Helped Me Lose Weight

gall bladderThe backstory
I’m about the same height as Danny DeVito. He’s MUCH, MUCH wider than I am, but you get the picture. I’m only five-feet-zero-inches. Every extra ounce on me looks like ten extra pounds on a normal sized human. There’s no place for any extra weight to hide. A lifetime of dieting and starvation adds up to one screwed up metabolism, that’s for sure. I’ve been a vegetarian (pescatarian) since I was in high school. I’m the undisputed queen of counting calories, fat grams, carbs, and protein. I don’t smoke, don’t drink (a lot), don’t drink sodas, don’t eat processed foods, don’t eat fried foods except once in a while. We eat a lot of brown rice, beans, lentils, tofu, and veggies. I make broiled, grilled, or seared ahi and salmon. Most of the time all of our desserts and breads are home baked. I have a terrible time losing any weight at all. It just doesn’t go away, no matter how much I work out, go to Boot Camp, walk, lift weights, or use my elliptical. We turned our third bedroom into an office/craft/workout room with an elliptical, weights, rubber bands, jump rope, and a big ball. When I used to teach aerobics, my class combined high intensity aerobics with core training and weights. I’ve got all the tools to know how to effectively burn calories and build lean muscle, but it just wasn’t working on ME!

Health history and numbers
My cholesterol is textbook perfect. My blood pressure is normally 105/60-ish, resting heartrate about 60. The only medical problems I have is asthma, allergies, and a bit of a sluggish thyroid. I use Advair for the asthma and .50 mcg Synthroid for hypothyroidism.

Except for a lot of sore throats, I’ve never really been sick. A few months ago, I got a super bad stomach ache, like the worst one ever, I mean like rolling on the floor and moaning, that kind of pain. It’s a good thing the captain was here, ‘cos I thought it was almost ER time. With a mom who was an RN, I immediately imagined my abdomen separated into four equal quadrants. If you’re in the medical field, you know what I mean. I knew that pain in the lower right quadrant could have meant appendicitis. My pain was in my upper right quadrant near my ribs. It was tender to the touch. I thought I exhibited all the signs of a classic gall bladder attack. I made an appointment with my doctor and he agreed with my tentative diagnosis and suggested an ultrasound to be sure. The US revealed a healthy liver, pancreas, kidney, and bile ducts, but there was either a cyst or one small 4.5 mm stone in my gall bladder that seemed to be the cause of my pain. Removal of my gall bladder is not a good option for me; I like to work on things homeopathically first. My doc suggested I keep a food diary and figure out which foods cause a problem and eliminate or avoid them. That was a great idea. As Dr. Oz says, “Do you think that’s something you can do?” I learned that peanut butter, cheese, chocolate, and alcohol are my trigger foods. What a load of crap! Those are the things I love the most. I love to eat spoonfuls of peanut butter from the jar. I love chunks and chunks of cheese.

chocolate

I’d like to take a bath in this chocolate.

Can you imagine not being able to eat chocolate? It’s just not fair! What did I ever do to deserve the “no chocolate” karma?? It was kind of fun to sample a variety of alcoholic beverages to determine which ones are off limits. I can now cross gin off my list–no more Tanqueray martinis or gin and tonics. Vodka is OK, but only about two ounces. That’s hardly worth it! Chardonnay and champagne pass the test, not so much red wines.

Silver lining: losing weight!
My last “attack” was in April. After that, I eliminated all fats from my diet except for olive oil. In case you didn’t know, dietary fats are a causal factor in a lot of gall bladder situations. It definitely is my problem. I have had no cheese, no peanut butter, and no chocolate. Not only have I been symptom free since then, that stubborn weight is falling off. It’s not like I had a lot to lose-but even five pounds makes a huge difference in the way clothes fit. I dropped two sizes in Joe’s Jeans. (I won’t divulge the specifics, but trust me, it made my day.)

joes jeans

This is NOT me, well, maybe in my head it is…

I’m certainly not recommending that an inflamed gall bladder should be a weight loss tip. What I’m saying is that I learned that reducing or eliminating the fat in my diet helped me shed those last few stubborn pounds and it might work for you, too.

The Mayo Clinic says:

Gallstones are hardened deposits of digestive fluid that can form in your gallbladder. Your gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped organ on the right side of your abdomen, just beneath your liver. The gallbladder holds a digestive fluid called bile that’s released into your small intestine.

Gallstones range in size from as small as a grain of sand to as large as a golf ball. Some people develop just one gallstone, while others develop many gallstones at the same time.

Cholecystitis (ko-luh-sis-TIE-tis) is inflammation of the gallbladder. Your gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped organ on the right side of your abdomen, just beneath your liver. The gallbladder holds a digestive fluid called bile that’s released into your small intestine.

In most cases, cholecystitis is caused by gallstones that block the tube leading out of your gallbladder. This results in a buildup of bile that can cause inflammation. Other causes of cholecystitis include bile duct problems and tumors. Cholecystitis signs and symptoms usually occur after a meal, particularly a large meal or a meal high in fat.

If left untreated, cholecystitis can lead to serious complications, such as a gallbladder that becomes enlarged or that ruptures. Once diagnosed, cholecystitis requires a hospital stay. Treatment for cholecystitis often eventually includes gallbladder removal.

Signs and symptoms of cholecystitis may include:

  • Severe, steady pain in the upper right part of your abdomen
  • Pain that radiates from your abdomen to your right shoulder or back
  • Tenderness over your abdomen when it’s touched
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Abdominal bloating

The following factors may increase your risk of cholecystitis:

Gallstones. Most cases of cholecystitis are linked to gallstones. If you have gallstones, you’re at high risk of developing cholecystitis.
Being female. Women have a greater risk of gallstones than men do. This makes women more likely to develop cholecystitis.
Increasing age. As you get older, your risk of gallstones increases, as does your risk of cholecystitis.