A Sure-Fire Cure for the UnFreshly Pressed Blues

Dear WordPress, What Am I, Chopped Liver? received  a lot of views and commentary, and for that, I’m grateful.

I think that my slighly whiny, sour grap-y, mini-chip-on-my-shoulder rant resonated with the great un-Pressed in our blogging community.

A wise and wonderful new friend who blogs at SERENDIPITY Marilyn Armstrong -Seeking Intelligent Life on Earthused her magic fingers and creative mind to design an award that I’m ecstatic to be able to share with those I deem worthy, and that’s mostly EVERYBODY.

Read her post: Not So Freshly Pressed? Help is on the Way for more details.

I’m hopeful that we can start the ball rolling until everyone — everywhere — will feel appreciated and special!

The simple beauty of this award is that you don’t have to perform any task or answer any questions; YOU ARE SPECIAL JUST BECAUSE YOU ARE, and I like that a lot!

Please pass it on and share the love but…here’s a reminder from the creator of this award:

You can accept this and you do NOT have to give it to anyone else unless you want to. You can also do it eventually, when you have time. Don’t get stressed over it.  🙂


Here ya go for my first group of deserving bloogers.
I won’t stop until everyone is a recipient and we all feel like a winner.

 

Serendipity: http://teepee12.com
The Fur Files http://thefurfiles.com
She Walks Softly  http://wp.me/pfQBz-5wF
Our Growing Paynes http://wp.me/p2GO4t-va
Michelle at Play  http://wp.me/p1UOvK-2ac
Benzeknees  http://wp.me/p21uAA-WE
The Presents of Presence
Cowboys and Crossbones  http://cowboysandcrossbones.wordpress.com
Thematticuskingdom  http://wp.me/p2DEqM-Am
sagedoyle

YOU ARE A WINNER

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Stop Wolf Hunts Now

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
Ghandi

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Dear WordPress…What Am I, CHOPPED LIVER?

What am I, chopped liver?When I was little Princess Rosebud growing up in Detroit,  my mom used to be the Queen of chopped liver.

At Channukah and Sukkos and the High Holidays, our family would come from miles around to chow down on her spectacular cooking and baking, including that tasty, albeit ugly, liver-y creation. Even a sprinkling of chopped hardboiled egg and parsley couldn’t mask the grey/brown blob of mushed up, mashed up internal organ.

Oh, and gribones, which is an artery clogging mixture of fried chicken skins, onions, and schmaltz, which is chicken FAT. Rendered chicken fat. Jars of it in the back of the refrigerator. GAG.

According to Wiki: The word gribenes is related to Griebe (plural Grieben) in various German dialects (from Old High German griobo via Middle High German griebe),[2] where Griebenschmalz is lard from which the cracklings have not been removed. German “Geriebenes” is a matter which has been grated or ground, from German “reiben”, to grind.

No wonder I became a veg.

schroncefgsula.blogspot.com

schroncefgsula.blogspot.com

I’ve been a vegetarian since 1971, when I was still in high school. I haven’t had a taste or even a morsel of meat nor fowl since then, including the liver, chopped or otherwise, of any living creature.

Why the chopped liver memories?

For the longest time, I’ve felt like I’m the human embodiment of chopped liver, ‘cos it seems that I’m the ONLY blog in the entire family of WordPress blogs that hasn’t ever been chosen to be Freshly Pressed.

I’m very sad.

I read a lot of Freshly Pressed posts, and I ponder.

I scratch my head —  and it’s not that I begrudge the recipients who’re chosen, but I’ve held an objective mirror up to my writing and my subject matter and my unique voice, and I truly believe it’s GOOD. In some cases, way better than the lucky bloggers who can boast of being Freshly Pressed.

Lots of people tell me I’m good. Even my son tells me I’m a good writer and he’s pretty stingy with his compliments, which make them all the more valuable — plus he’s a Yale professor AND author, so I take his praise with more than a few grains of salt.

I’ve had readers wonder why they don’t see me in Freshly Pressed, when other bloggers have had multiple posts chosen.

In my not-really-humble opinion, It’s a travesty.

On a serious note, it reeks of favoritism and might as well be advertising and promotion for ONE blogger at the expense of many other worthy writers.

There. I’m finished now.

That’s my Friday rant.

Tonight I’ll light some shabbat candles and wish really hard that one day SOON, I can proudly display a Freshly Pressed badge on my blog.

Dreams CAN come true, ya know.

Hello? WordPress? Can you hear me??

Can you hear me NOW?

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.

A lost opportunity, a huge regret, a haunting feeling

During one of my healing retail therapy sessions in the shoe aisle at Nordstrom, an older (and by older, I mean WAY older than me, like late sixties) well groomed beautifully dressed lady was sitting nearby trying on a pair of boots. She had a scarf around her neck that you could tell simply by looking that it was woven of the highest quality cashmere. She had a lovely air of grace and elegance. I think it was that regal essence that reminded me of my mom. She owned that quality too, always dressed head to toe with class.  The woman looked so together that I couldn’t keep from sneaking glances at her while I too tried on boots. I’d been looking for a pair of flat riding boots that fit snugly but weren’t too high, which is a tall order. (ha ha). I’ve never been accused of dressing elegantly. Sexy, flamboyant, stylish, wild even–but never Lilly Van der Woodsen Upper East Side elegant. Lilly van der woodsenHere’s an example of me getting dressed… If one pearl necklace is good, a dozen is better! A ring for every finger, well, why not? We have ten of them, isn’t that what they’re for? And aren’t our arms just begging to be filled with every bangle and charm bracelet in the jewelry box?

My mom would shake her head and say, “Princess Rosebud, haven’t you heard the old saying, less is more?” My response to her was, “Haven’t YOU heard of my saying, more is better?”

So I’m sitting there and this lovely woman is sitting there and she turns to me and says softly, matter-of-factly,

“My husband died last week.”

What do you do when a stranger opens up that way? What do you do? I said,

“I am so very sorry for your loss.”

She continued,

“We had been married for fifty years. I don’t know what to do with myself so I shop all day. I can’t bear to be home alone without him.”

If anyone could empathize with that philosophy, it would be me. Not that I’ve lost my life partner, but when my darling thirteen-year-old kitty died, I felt the same way. I left the house early in the morning and stayed away ’til dark, wandering around the shopping centers like a lost soul. I couldn’t bear to open the front door and know that I’d never again see her face at the top of the stairs greeting me. I couldn’t bear to sleep in our bed and never again feel her jump up and scratch at the covers to join me, nestled against my body, so I slept on the sofa until the captain came back. What made it even more difficult to bear was that it happened while he was out to sea, and I was the one who was unanchored, aimlessly drifting. I totes understood the poor lady’s pain.

“He made every day worth living.”

I asked her if she had family in the area to help her with her sadness, and she shook her head. It was on the tip of my tongue to invite her to join me for a cup of coffee when when my cell rang. It was my son. He needed me to run to the post office before it closed and send him a book he had accidentally left behind the previous week.

As I walked away, I touched her gently on the shoulder and told her once again how sorry I was for her loss and I hoped she’d be all right.

I really, really regret not getting her name and telephone number so that we could meet at a coffee shop or simply make sure she’s OK. I have a feeling she might not be. I do have that feeling. I’ve never seen her again.

For the most part, women are a truly and deeply caring and nurturing community. I dropped the ball that day and it haunts me.  It haunts me.

Best Christmas Decorations EVER-Haters, line up! Yoo hoo, Pinterest, I’m calling you!

I was inspired by other topnotch decorators who so kindly blogged about their DIY Christmas tree masterpieces.

In fact, I was so inspired and so thrilled to be stuck here all alone for the millionth time during the holidays that I created a masterpiece of my own, just for you, my loving internet family. S

o, Cousin Fur and Aunt Cheeky and Second Cousin Far Removed Tracy F for Fantastic, this one’s especially for you guys.

As I looked around my house, the elliptical seemed like it had the best “bones” to adorn.

Plus, it had a ready-made beverage holder!

I didn’t have any Maxi-pads or other feminine hygiene products–‘cos THAT ship has sailed–if you know what I mean. {Hey cool, a nautical reference jauntily tossed in. Damn, I’m good!} 

I added a toilet paper garland, a couple of Sophie Kinsella novels, two glittery seashell ornaments, a bottle of wine in the beverage holder, a white plastic poinsettia, a few EMPTY gift bags, and a festive plush Hello Kitty toy.

You can’t really see it very good, but there’s a chocolate bar too, which I luckily don’t have to share with anyone! I’m such a lucky girl! This is the best use I’ve found for the elliptical. Hanging freshly ironed shirts on it is a close second.

Carry on with your day; just take a moment to let it all sink in. Don’t HATE…Emulate.

Decorated for Christmas elliptical decorated elliptical

VINTAGE VALENTINO FIND, y’all

The universe is dropping some love on me today, that’s for sure. Ommmm. After the gym, I stopped at my secret source consignment shop…somewhere in SoCal…I’ll never tell. But I bet DIL knows which one I went to. OMFG, first I spied the red polka dots (and I’m a sucker for polka dots), and then I looked at the label. Vintage Valentino-fur reals. Then I looked at the price. $40. Forty dollars, are you serious??? Finally I tried it on, and it fits. It’s too good to be true! It’s two pieces. The dress is a sort of a halter top, but very intricate. The top is a snug fit with a flowy skirt, enough to hug the curves but not to make anyone think you’re trying to hide a big belly or some of that good old menopause paunch. The long-sleeved coat is absolutely stunning with handmade fabric buttons. It’s silk, of course, and that famous Valentino red. So well made, it puts my Target outfits to shame. Now I have the perfect outfit to wear for the captain’s arrival! Check out the label–I was telling the truth.

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.

Abandoning the mother ship

pumpkin, pumpkin stew

Soon to be pumpkin stew

DIL and sister wife left this morning to drive back up to SF. I still have my son until tomorrow. He flies out mid-morning to the east coast and I’m not looking forward to the thirty-five minute drive and the lunacy of the airport. At its best it’s not pleasant. Now they’re undergoing major construction delays and it’s another level of Hell.  For the moment, home is reminiscent of the old days; he’s sitting at the dining room table with a computer surrounded by piles of books, only this time he’s not writing a report or research paper, he’s grading essays.

Young Yale Professor

Photo of a Yale professor in action

I can’t believe this little sk8r boy of mine goes to work and fifteen college freshman call him Professor Angel Boy. Of course, they don’t REALLY call him Angel Boy, but I think they  should. It’s hard to wrap my brain around the concept. It’s mind boggling. Especially since he still derives the greatest pleasure by shocking me with offensive earsplitting and vulgar expulsions of intestinal gas that serves as his initial form of communication when he opens the front door (Insert loud breaking wind sounds here) “Hi, mom, I’m home!” or belching as commentary while we’re enjoying a lovely meal at the dinner table, like Thanksgiving. Apparently, my laughing is an ineffective method of dissuading that kind of behavior. Sometimes I tell him he’s disgusting but he finds that a compliment rather than a criticism. His wife thinks he’s funny too; even the captain finds him humorous, shaking his head, “That’s our boy!” almost, no, not almost–completely proud of him– so it’s hopeless. The dichotomy between his academic braininess and his juvenile antics is-uh-refreshing. It’s no wonder I treat him like he’s still in the third grade. It’s as if he never left elementary school with the stupid arm farts and the other robust sounds and smells that emanate from all of his orifices. I keep my fingers crossed that when he meets with his department heads or his publisher that he remembers all the lessons in good manners we practiced and he only acts out here as the living embodiment of the prodigal son. Like I said, fingers crossed. 

Moroccan Pumpkin Stew

Smells DELICIOUS

I’m in the kitchen baking another loaf of Whole Wheat Bread. Tonight we had Moroccan Pumpkin Stew (recipe below) with steamed brown rice and Seared Ahi ‘cos I have to make sure he gets enough protein.

It’s kind of cold, damp, and foggy; after dinner we made a fire and  played Scrabble. He won, of course–232 to 219.scrabble

An assortment of desserts; apple pie, black bean brownies, oatmeal cookiesapple pie, black bean brownies, oatmeal cookies

Beautiful flowers from my Angel Boy

Moroccan Pumpkin Stew

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and cut in large chunks
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and cut in large chunks
  • 6 small potatoes, well-scrubbed but not peeled, cut in half
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh pumpkin, peeled and cut in large chunks
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1-1/2 cups canned tomato, chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons raisins

Heat the oil in a large heavy saucepan over medium high heat. Add the onions, carrot, potato, and pumpkin and saute for 5-10 minutes, stirring from time to time. When vegetables have softened, add the ginger and garlic. Continue to saute for 2-3 minutes, then add the turmeric, coriander, cumin and cinnamon stick. Cook for another 5-8 minutes, then add the canned tomato and 1 cup of water. Bring to a simmer, season with salt and pepper, then add the raisins. Allow to cook for 18-25 minutes until all vegetables are soft – but don’t overcook. Serve over or with brown rice.

I sat at the children’s table

That’s because there was only me plus the kids here, so I was outnumbered. No tugboat man nor BioDad this year. I know it might seem crazy, but am I the only one who can’t seem to think of their grown son as an adult? I still see him as a four-year-old, and I’m still bringing him tissues when he sniffs and I wait until he blows his nose. I still praise him for the simplest things, “Look who’s reading a book, what a good boy!” Then there’s, “Please take out the trash”.  A few minutes later, “Please take the trash out.” After fifty requests, I give up and take out the trash.  Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. The more things change, the more things stay the same. I’m short on time while everyone’s still here–cooking, driving, shopping, cleaning–but I’ll be back as soon as I’m free. All my little birdies’ll be leaving the nest on Monday, but while they’re here, my time is not my own. It’s 6:30 a.m. Soon they’ll be awake, needing a first breakfast of homemade granola and Greek yogurt before a surf sesh, which’ll leave me time to get their Breakfast Burritos prepared.

Breakfast Burritos are so easy! Refried beans with cheese, scrambled eggs, sliced avocado, tomatoes, salsa, and sour cream–all rolled up in a huge tortilla. That’s what the cool kids eat!

Our T-day table and one of my son, DIL, and sister wife (on the left). ImageImage