Comfort Foods, What I learned from Carmella Soprano

February 21, 2015 - Leave a Response

Lasagna is a wonderful comfort food, gooey, cheesy, warm, filling. It is also a great dish to take when you need to bring a casserole or to feed a crowd.

After watching the Sopranos, the episode when they are eating lasagna, Carmella and Tony are saying how good it is with a layer of spinach, I now add spinach to my lasagna. Who knew Carmella Soprano could give recipe tips?

 Start of Lasagna

The spinach gives it a nice color layer so it is visually appealing. I will use ground beef and sometimes ground pork together. I always add onions and mushrooms. Since I have a huge garden and make tomato sauce and tomato paste, I use them into my sauce for the lasagna. I layer with Ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese and Mozzarella cheese and it all smells wonderful while it is cooking.

I usually make 2 medium lasagnas at the same time so I use all the noodles at once. If I don’t have to give one away, the spare casserole goes into the freezer for future use.

Do you have a favorite comfort food to make, share or eat?

 Lasagna

Carmella Soprano Lasagna

1-2 pounds ground beef or combination of beef and pork, 5% fat on the beef

1 large onion sliced thinly

½ pound mushrooms sliced

Pan fry all together with salt, pepper, basil and parsley

In a separate pot heat tomato sauce and paste to make at least 3 cups

Add salt, pepper, garlic, basil and parsley

Mix 16 ounces Ricotta cheese with 2 eggs

Grate 16 ounces Mozzarella cheese

Measure ½ cup Parmesan cheese

8 ounces baby spinach

Boil or use no boil 16 ounces lasagna noodles

Spray 2 lasagna pans and start layering starting with and ending with sauce.

Bake 350 for 45 minutes.

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Have You Written Your Obituary?

February 14, 2015 - Leave a Response

headstone

I read obituaries. I know I am not alone. I don’t know when I started but I do remember the first time I recognized someone I knew from his obituary.

One of my Mother’s friends, who recently died of pneumonia at the age of 92, had prepared her obit. She had outlived her husbands and children and wrote it because she felt no one was still alive who knew her story. I thought that a brilliant idea.

Here are portions of obits I question whether something else could be said if the deceased wrote it:

“She was a hard worker”

“She was ridiculously honest”

“He overcame many troubles”

I like attempts to capture a person’s personality rather than the resume approach or genealogical account of a person in an obituary.

Here are a few:

“If you feel sad or blue because you lost a good friend, be assured he is perfectly alright laughing and telling stories”.

“She is in the hearts of all those she touched”

“She was an acquired taste”

I like to know what was the cause of death in an obituary.

Obvious cause of death

Here are popular phrases that elude the cause of death:

“Fought a courageous fight”

“Died unexpectedly”

“Called home by the Lord”

“Died peacefully”

“Died Suddenly”

“Went to be with the Lord”

“Lost his/her fight”

A memorable obituary I read does not have the cause of death, but it read:

“1982-2014, Kind of young don’t you think?”

Are you writing your obituary? Are you making your wishes known for your obituary? Have you embraced the high costs of publishing your obituary?

Photos by Deirdre at Shuttershaman

The Un-Invites

February 7, 2015 - Leave a Response

I think I have uncovered a trend. Un-Inviting people. Friends invite you for dinner and then they call and cancel because …… Maybe it is just cancelling or postponing, but it feels more like un-inviting to me.

I realize everyone leads busy lives but it is dinner, not attempting to cure cancer! The un-invites have become so frequent I have become very aggressive by saying I am putting it on my calendar now and I will be at your door at this date and time! Or I am not putting it on my calendar because you will cancel so firm up with me as the date nears!

When I ask people over for a dinner party I give the date and the time. I think about the guests I am inviting so everyone gets along. If some one can’t make it I don’t cancel the dinner party, it just becomes a smaller group.

If a significant other is not available I do not welcome a plus one unknown stand-in because I think about the dynamics of the group of guests I invited. Now maybe I know your friend or sister or neighbor that you want to bring as your plus one because your significant other is out of town, but please ask me, don’t just show up at the door. I may have prepared something special for your significant other and had I known I would not have gone to the trouble!

Let’s face it sometimes you have a lousy few days going and you realize you have a dinner party scheduled. It is something to look forward to and helps getting past the crummy days. Then, WHAM, you are uninvited. You didn’t prepare anything for dinner and the party was going to be your highlight of the week! Grrr.

Am I the only one experiencing this un-inviting trend? Vent here and tell me how you handle it!

No One Likes to be Called FATTY!

January 31, 2015 - Leave a Response

Last week I went for my yearly mammogram. I go to a women’s imaging center where all they do is digital mammograms. Since I am a breast cancer survivor I usually hang around the 20 minutes for the radiologist to read my mammogram. When I went into the waiting room there was a woman not only crying but also wailing. I decided to leave and wait for the follow-up letter to come and the notice sent to my oncologist.

I saw the oncologist before I got the letter with the heads up that all was fine. I was feeling relieved until I got home and opened the letter from the imaging center. The letter stated my breast tissue is almost entirely fat.

I chose during breast cancer to save my breasts. I had 2 lumpectomies, which is considered breast conservation to keep them. So what if they are almost all fat now. I am happy that they are still original. Did the imaging center just call me ‘fatty’?

Breasts are not comprised of muscle so are fatty breasts bad? I can’t work out my breasts to turn the fat to muscle because there are no muscles in breasts! So here is my question:

Have you been told that you are a fat breasted woman?

My Veins Are Shot

January 24, 2015 - Leave a Response

Giving blood is a great thing to do. Donating your healthy blood to blood banks is terrific. When I was in college I started donating blood. I learned then that my veins are not very cooperative. They look good but they roll away from the needle.

Fast forward a few decades and my veins were tested to their limit with chemotherapy. I chose not to have a port inserted because that part of the whole cancer treatment regime was what freaked me out. Subsequently my chemo had to be administered into my veins in my arm. Because of my breast cancer surgeries only one arm could be used. The chemo drugs are very toxic. The nurses who administer wear heavy gloves, and yet this poison went into my veins. My veins did not like it. They rolled, collapsed, burst and generally made life difficult.

As a result of my treatments, the only place that I can get blood out of my body for a blood test is from my hand. It hurts a bit and the top of my hand is all scarred from my many blood tests as a cancer survivor. My doctor went so far as to recommend I wear a medical alert bracelet! I just can’t bring myself to wear a bracelet that says, “Veins Suck, Use Right Hand” or “Veins Shot, Administer in Right Hand Only”

.Giving blood

Last week I went for my yearly visit to my oncologist. Before the visit blood is taken. A good friend of mine had breast cancer a year after my diagnosis. We go to the same oncologist and now we schedule our appointments following each other and then go out to celebrate another year of cancer free living. She has her appointment first because her veins are not shot and her time in the lab is brief.

Gave Blood

I don’t think there is note on my chart about my veins but let’s just say I never get the new oncology tech for the blood draw. I still tell them what size needle to use, which hand, which I make certain is warm, and I already drank about a gallon of water before the visit, all to have a timely and successful blood draw.

Anyone else with uncooperative veins?

5 tips for Refashioning

January 20, 2015 - Leave a Response

 Refashion2

If you look at your wardrobe and see clothes you love but some how they don’t look good on you any longer but you hate to give them away, try refashioning. Did you see Melissa McCarthy on the red carpet at Golden Globes? Her stylists refashioned!

If you are unsure of your skills, head to the Goodwill and buy an inexpensive skirt, dress or top for practice. My sister bought a lovely silk sleeves top we planned on refashioning to a vest. It didn’t work but it was only out $3.00!

  1. Change the hemline.

It is easier to go shorter than longer. With a long hemline you can make it a handkerchief hemline, bias or just shorten it up. A dress can become a tunic or even a blouse.

  1. Adjust the sleeve length.

Whether it is a dress or a top you can shorten a sleeve length. You can add rouching to give it some style while shortening it.

  1. Mix up fabrics.

Add pockets to a skirt from a different fabric. Add a neckline trim of a contrasting fabric to a top or dress.

  1. Change buttons.

Nothing refreshes an old coat then new interesting buttons. Beautiful buttons can be found anywhere from the Goodwill, fabric stores to artists’ markets.

  1. Add or make a belt.

Similar to buttons, an interesting belt can add new life to an older skirt, dress or outfit. Cloth belts can get refashioned with some new material easily.

Have you tried your hand at refashioning?

Menopausal Lost Dog

January 11, 2015 - Leave a Response

This fall on garbage day my neighbor knocked on my door. Since I bike around the neighborhood, she wanted to know if I knew this dog. Betsy

I am pretty sure I would remember this face! I did not. My neighbor is a big walker and she didn’t recognize her either. The dog then plopped down on my front walk. I got her some water and our afternoon together began.

 Betsy and water

I am friendly with many neighbors so it wasn’t hard to solicit a leash, collar and kibble for the pooch. We are a cat family.

snow-in-portland-oregon

Since it was a beautiful day and it appeared to be a school free day, the neighborhood was buzzing. My office  is in the back of my home so I don’t see the street. We have a corner lot but it is all treed and private which is great except when you want to do some neighborhood sleuthing and get work done at the same time!

I gave up on the work and set out to find this girl’s home. She wasn’t a pup and I didn’t think she could have wandered far. I put up posters around the neighborhood, notified the appropriate agencies and placed 2 listings on Craig’s list. I stopped everyone who walked or rode their bike past my house to take a look at the dog and rack their brain if they recognized her.

I named her Wanda and hoped closer to the dinner hour her owners would come home and get her. She was happy to hang out with me and nap on the front porch.

Betsy 14

Around 5, her owners claimed her. Her real name is Betsy and she is almost 8. She has been acting irritable lately, eating and sleeping more. They don’t know how she got out of the house and yard but this is the second time she has taken off.

The young family was thrilled she wandered just 2 blocks to my house and was safe. They were very grateful. She has been moved to this new house and yard and neighborhood. That’s a lot of change for what I think is a menopausal dog. No wonder Betsy felt comfortable with me, 2 menopausal gals hanging out on a lovely day!

3 Reasons why I will not accept the position of US Ambassador to Cuba

January 7, 2015 - Leave a Response

Even though some politicians are trash talking the idea to establish a US Embassy with a US Ambassador to Cuba, it will happen. I predict it will occur before the next President is elected. I totally endorse this action but I don’t want to be the Ambassador and here are the reasons:

1. My Spanish stinks.

I have a fair knowledge of basic restaurant Spanish supplemented with Spanish street names. The US ambassador I think should be more fluent in Spanish than being able to order food or find a street address.

2. I do not have a poker face.

My diplomacy would certainly be compromised with my facial expressions. I hate to admit it but I sometimes raise an eyebrow when presented with a WTF situation. The US ambassador needs to have an experienced placid demeanor.

3. I don’t have political experience.  

The US Ambassador needs more skills than voting and supporting causes. He or She needs some political expertise.

So who would be on my short list?

  1. Maria Shriver (A bit of historical irony)
  2. Tammy Baldwin (Already a historical presence)
  3. Julián Castro (The brothers are Fluent in Spanish)
  4. Joaquín Castro (Ditto)
  5. Mazie Hirono (Who better to understand living on an island)

Some of my candidates may not want to leave their current jobs but they may or may not be re-elected. They may be not fluent in Spanish, but these are smart people and they can learn!

So I will have to just visit Cuba as a tourist some day rather than in an official capacity. I email the President before the State of the Union Address every year. This year it is January 20, 2015. I will be emailing the administration my recommendations. Who would you recommend I add to my list before I hit send?

A New Year a New Glow to My Skin

January 3, 2015 - Leave a Response

For the last 2 months I have been using L’Oreal Age Perfect Glow Renewal Skin Care Products.  The Facial Oil twice a day, the Day Lotion, you guessed it, during the day and at night, the cream. I actually ran out of the facial oil and had to buy more to complete my trail period! #sponsored!!

AgePerfect_Dropper_contenttout

I am participating in a Vibrant Influencer Network campaign for L’Oreal Age Perfect. I am receiving a fee for posting; however, the opinions expressed in this post are my own. I am in no way affiliated with L’Oreal Age Perfect and do not earn a commission or percent of sales.

 

So after 2 months I am still in love with these products as much as I was after the first week, which is certainly a sign of a lasting relationship! I would recommend #glow renewal products to anyone in my age groups who doesn’t want to sell the soul of their first grandchild, or look for a co-signer for more expensive products that may or may not work as well.

 Age-Perfect_additional

My skin was appearing flat. My makeup was creasing into my lines and not looking attractive. Since I started the glow renewal skin regime I have noticed a great improvement. My skin feels softer, looks more glowing and my makeup is not creasing or caking into my lines. I am very pleased with the results.

 

Here are a few more reasons why I will continue to use the L’Oreal Age Perfect, Glow Renewal products:

Ease of application

The eye drop applicator on the facial oil means every drop is used and easy to apply. The Day lotion has a locking top which means the lotion doesn’t dry out. The cream is in a container that you can just dip into.

The scent is neutral

You aren’t being overcome by a scent from your creams that makes your eyes water like some other products. Your partner isn’t repelled by the smell of your night cream.

The cost is affordable

You can spend an arm, 2 legs and a mortgage for the promise of youthful skin from other products. The L’Oreal Glow Renewal products won’t put a big dent in your income!

Only need 3 items

I don’t have a lot of room in my bathroom for lots of products. I don’t have the time or the desire to apply several products at a time. These 3 are perfect.

 

So will you head to your favorite drug store or mass merchandiser and buy some glow from L’Oreal?

 

 

New Year’s Resolution: HAVE MY PHONE READY

December 30, 2014 - Leave a Response

 Emotional Support Turkey

This Holiday season I had several encounters that I wish I had snapped a picture or recorded the conversation.

I seem to attract oddness. I think it is because I am friendly and engage people but ….

#1. Some how a man in line at the post office objected to me not inching forward and kept asking me if I was still in line. He told me he should go to the front of the line, at least in front of me because he was a senior citizen. When my transaction took both clerks away from their counters he went, Postal! Later that day when I bumped into him in the market he pointed at me saying, “You You You!”

I wish I had recorded the conversation and snapped his picture!

#2. I saw a woman entering the grocery store with a big dog. I’m not sure it was wearing a service dog coat. I said “that is a pretty dog”. She replied, “not a dog but a wolf.” Next thing I saw was the wolf/dog taking a poop down one of the aisles.

I wish I had my camera ready!

#3. Also at the grocery store a guy had one of those mobile carts with a dog in the basket. He was checking out in front of me. He told the clerk that the dog is a service dog because she can smell him if his blood sugar drops. The dog was a pug.

I wish I had taken a recording/picture for all my Pug and Puggel friends!

#4. Ten days before Christmas I saw 3 guys dressed up in full Santa suits walking toward me. I smiled because who wouldn’t? One of the Santas stopped and asked me for directions. I asked him if he recognized the irony in the situation?

I wish I had taken a selfie with them!

Do I send off an odd vibe? Do you have your phone ready to snap a photo, video, or record a conversation?

 

I don’t mean to scoff the viability of service animals but there seems to be a fraudulent trend. This recent article in the New Yorker about emotional support animals, one is a turkey as seen above, well it is hilarious…

And here is a slide show of the “””emotional support animals””””!