*Show Me You Love Me, Bake Me A Peach Pie

or a vanilla coconut cake, or a chocolate cake with raspberry preserves, please.

or buy me one.. How about a last of the summer plum-cake? I would love that too. The way the first bite of flaky, buttery crust feels as it slides into your mouth. The texture of the  plums both soft, liquified, chunky, as they scrape against your teeth. Tart and sweet at the same time. Summer is officially over when you see the first prune plums in the supermarket, it’s a daunting site. For my mom and me, it’s the true symbol that Summer is definitely and completely OVER.

Another plum cake

Another plum cake (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



Rapture. Heaven. I am a sweet tooth junkie. My husband would be happy with a bowl of ice cream every night but I dream of pastries. This is what happens when you are born to a German mother and an Austrian father. I blame it all on genetics and the fact that I only had jello,applesauce and sherbet for dessert growing up. I didn’t know any other desserts existed.b

Banana cream pie, crème brule, there is no dessert I would refuse. Fresh fruit cup, perhaps? That’s not a dessert to me, it’s a snack. True, also for cheese plate, that’s lunch.

Yesterday, at our town’s farmer’s market I saw a small homemade peach crumb pie that I bought immediately. I was ready to devour it that night but my husband cajoled me into freezing it and saving it for when our son comes home from college for a visit. God knows I love my children more than myself but I had to really think about this. Sigh, it’s in the freezer.

There was nothing there was pure chocolate for when my daughter comes home but I know the exact place to buy her a chocolate-chocolate cake. I could even bake it myself.

Even when the kids were little dessert was holy, we definitely weren’t one of those organic, no sugar, no junk food homes. Having been deprived of snacks like Yodels and Chocolate Chip cookies, Mallomars, Oreos and milk I stocked them for my kids when they came home from school. Their cousins LOVED to sleep over at our house, they came in and dove into our cereal aisle. The only cookie we had growing up was “Social Tea.” I happen to still really like them but on a play date I discovered a junk food group I had never seen before!

Before I get any angry letters from herbalists and organic naturalists, I should say that everything is good in moderation. We don’t eat boxes of any cookie, we’ll eat one cookie or two and we eat fresh fruit and vegetables always. Now that the kids are in college, we tend to eat much healthier.

Dessert is a treat, “no dessert” used to be a punishment in our house. We thought it was a good idea until a few years ago our grown-up children told us it was a complete joke.

Parenthood, you do the best you can, it doesn’t come with an instruction booklet.


 

*This post may not be safe for those who are diabetic.

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My OTHER Stomach

DID ANYONE SAY DESSERT ???

Peeps, work with me here, I am telling you a very big secret. Not many know about this but it is a very easy concept. Forget about anything, anyone else has told you, especially your doctors. They don’t teach THIS in medical school because they don’t even know about it. But, I do and I know it well. I have taught my family and they went on and taught their most trusted friends. Be careful with this most amazing gift. I am telling it to you because of my deep love for my readers.

Most people apparently feel that they have one stomach. Most medical people would agree but I beg to differ. Growing up with a Viennese father and a German/French mother we never had dessert. Dessert in our home was jello or social tea biscuits or those pressed, break your teeth hard raisin or prune bars that I haven’t seen since the sixties. My father would make up things called “concoctions”  for himself with bananas, ice milk (sherbert?) applesauce, sprinkles, canned fruit, yogurt and whatever else he could find. Example something like below but much higher:

"Dessert pour une personne"

“Dessert pour une personne” (Photo credit: Maxime FORT)

When I became a mother, things changed. I didn’t want my kids to have to go to other people’s houses and search/sneak through their closets and take delicious snacks ( like I did.) No, I wanted to be the provider of the snacks. In fact, my friend Debbie’s son, Michael,  called me “The Cookie Lady,” a name I wore with great pride.

In my house sweets were NOT banned but limits were set. Some of my children’s friends would come here with an organic apple and then gorge themselves full of Oreos or Chocolate Chip cookies. I didn’t judge AND there was always fruit on the table along with the cookies. I gave them choices…

In short, when you are full with a meal you can always have dessert. Always. There is a different pouch for that: The Dessert Stomach. It is there for a good reason, because in my family now, there is always room for dessert. Always.

No matter how full you are, no matter if you think you can’t eat another bite, just rest for a minute, look at the dessert menu and order. As soon as your dessert comes, your dessert stomach is happy to oblige. In our family we have 2 chocolate lovers and two

cupcakes

cupcakes (Photo credit: stu_spivack)

vanilla lovers, although I can go both ways.

We always we end up buying one dessert ( or two) and sharing them. Dessert (or D as we call it) is love to a higher power.

So next time you order dessert, don’t feel guilty, you are not over eating, you are just trying to fill a bit of your Dessert Stomach. Don’t say it timidly, say it with confidence and power. Most of all, say it convincingly. I bet they have never heard  of the “Other Stomach” Theory.

Feel free to tell them.

PS this is not meant for after lunch ( I got into trouble that way) it is only for after dinner. Trust me on this.

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Extra Poop With Your Turkey Burger?

Deutsch: Veganer Burger mit Pommes vom Restaur...

Deutsch: Veganer Burger mit Pommes vom Restaurant “Kopfeck” in München (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Oh wait. What? You are not actually asking me, if I want more poop in my burger? There already IS poop or “fecal matter”or disease causing germs like “salmonella” or “staph” IN my turkey burger? Funny, I didn’t see those items listed on the ingredients, did you?  Well, I certainly don’t feel guilty munching on my cheddar cheese all beef burger with carmelized onions now. Of all things you had to find in turkey burgers, you found poop? I’m sorry but that is downright disgusting.

I don’t know what to eat anymore. I thought I was being heart healthy by ordering a lower fat turkey burger but turkey burger with “fecal matter” no thank you. Just mention a turkey burger now and I start retching. Will I ever eat a turkey burger again? I really can’t say besides how did this actually happen?  More importantly, how long has it been going on and why wasn’t it inspected properly?

My beef cheeseburger was served with delicious, well done,well seasoned thin french fries. I ate about three or four of them, I’m not much of a french fry girl. If I had to pick food that most people enjoy but that I could easily live without? My pick would be french fries. (Dessert is another matter altogether. I could not give up dessert.)In front of me are a pound of rainbow cookies, (Rainbow cookies have thin layers of marzipan, cake and jelly ) that I bought for my husband’s birthday.) I also bought him a brownie topped with chocolate ganache  that he “forgot” to eat. Okay buddy, that sucker is going to get stale if I don’t remind you; I’m just doing you a service, always happy to help out, hon.

Tricolor cookies

Tricolor cookies (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I get stuck on something (not that I am stubborn or anything) I just can’t go back that easily. There was a dead bee in my Greek salad years ago and I couldn’t return to that restaurant  for years. What is safe? I guess veggie burgers are still approved… Here’s the thing, what once was considered “safe”,  before becomes questionable, how soon can we trust that it’s truly safe this time? My solution? I can always eat rainbow cookies, they may have a little food coloring in them but I can’t imagine there’s any fecal matter. When will I be able to trust that there is no poop in my turkey burger? I have no idea, maybe I’ll wait and see and eat rainbow cookies until I am very, very, sure.

My Father’s Famous Sandwiches

A club sandwich (Chicken, bacon, salad, etc), ...

A club sandwich (Chicken, bacon, salad, etc), photo taken in Preston, UK — Ein Club-Sandwich, Foto aufgenommen in Preston, UK (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I was growing up, my dad never cooked a thing. Ever. It was my mom’s “role” and we never questioned it, nor did she. Once in a while, however, he would “prepare” lunch and it would take a lot of time (A LOT OF TIME) making each one of us the perfect sandwich.

Layers of ham, turkey, cheese, washed and dried crispy iceberg lettuce, pickles. Sometimes he would serve them on trays, with flowers on the side and a few cookies for dessert. It may have taken a while before we could eat and we probably complained (which in retrospect was not very nice) but what we received was so special, each one made according to the individual’s preferences. He paid special attention to little details, everything had to be perfect. They were large, hard to eat sandwiches but they were so tasty and beautiful to look at.

My mother invited my sister to lunch today and my sister said she would bring sandwiches. Our mother’s idea of a sandwich is slapping a piece of turkey between two slices of bread. She never cared about presentation or food but Dad really did.

It’s surprising what you remember when those you love have passed, I haven’t thought of my dad’s famous sandwiches in years. I’d give anything though, to have just one more bite. It may have taken him hours to make us a sandwich but he always made them with love, great, big, love. I miss you, Dad.

"Share a memory about the house in which you grew up……"

Kids From Kew Gardens, Queens

apartment building

Not everybody is lucky enough to grow up in a house (Plinky) We grew up in an apartment building and not knowing anything else, for us, it was perfect. Imagine living in a world where you could walk down two flights of stairs where your best friend lived whose mother and grandma baked home-made vanilla crescent cookies and surprise cookies (I still dream about these) that had a Hershey’s chocolate kiss inside. I can still taste the crushed hazelnuts in the batter. Imagine going up a flight of stairs to babysit for someone you considered your pretend baby sister anyway and getting paid for that. This little, lost girl longed for attention and for someone to love and I was her older friend. I bought her candy bars with my money that her mother wouldn’t allow, I sat with her while her mother cooked two chicken legs in the toaster oven or when her mom stayed in her bedroom, under the covers for days. I watched that family from one flight of stairs away, practically living inside their house and I watched them unravel as well. A tragedy. My very first best friend growing up was a boy and he lived three flights down and we spent the first years of our lives together; our moms met in the maternity ward of the local hospital where we were born and yes, I am mere hours older than he is but a whole day. He had a gray, barking schnauzer but to us, he was Lassie. His mom made me my first milkshake, I ate at his house probably as much as I ate in my own. To this day, a mere fifty-fife years later than when we were born I am proud to still call him my friend, my oldest friend; I call him Brian and we both laugh.

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*I Will Carry You UPDATE

Field of Snow

Image by spodzone via Flickr

 

Dear Callie Dog,

A human neighbor saw you the day before yesterday and she commented that you looked “old.” I was offended on your behalf and hurt and I tried not to show it but inside I was sad and angry and yes, scared. Human people don’t go up to other people and say “you really look old.” I know they wouldn’t do that so why on earth did she have to say it about you? Don’t worry sweet dog, sometimes humans have no manners.

If you can no longer jump on the bed, I will carry you. I will hold you in my arms so that you feel safe and talk to you in sweet, soothing whispers. My voice would stay calm and high so that you would know that things are fine. I don’t want, for a minute, for you to feel afraid. I love you more now than I did when I brought you home from the animal shelter at six weeks. We’ve gone through a lot together.

I now see the wisdom in your eyes, those wide brown eyes, contrasting your snowy white chin and whiskers. You look beautiful to me. You may not be able to jump as high as you used to when you were younger but you still jump and most importantly, you still enjoy it. I know you are waiting for the winter, for the snow to fall, so you can play in it. Sometimes we call you “snow dog” because you love the snow so much. Dad will play his game of shoveling the snow with his snow shovel and he will throw it high up in the air and you will bark, as clear as the sound of laughter, when you jump right into the snow. By the way, I hope you know that Dad has as much fun with this game as you do, maybe even more. I know I hate the snow and I’m sorry I don’t go out as much in it but the best part of having snow, to me, is watching your joy. When you have to leave me, please know, that every time it snows, I will picture you in it. I will still hear your delight as you jumped and bounced and tumbled in the white stuff you loved so much. Whenever it snows, I will think of you.

We have both grown up this year haven’t we? Change is happening all around us and we are learning to cope with it and deal with it and most of all accept it.  We’ve gotten so much better, you and I. Last time we went in the car together you were scared but that’s okay. I get scared of things too, but we make ourselves do new things even if we feel nervous at first. Remember by the end of the car ride how you stuck your head out the window, looked outside, showed everyone your happy face and your wagging tongue? It was lovely to see.

I will love you forever, Callie, my first dog. Though I don’t want this to happen for a long time, you should know that if you are ever in pain, and I see it in your eyes, I will not let you suffer. One thing I know, I will look into your brown pudding eyes and you will look back into my green eyes and we will talk wordlessly and understand each other as we always do. Any decisions we need to make, we will make together, the two of us. You can crawl into my lap, just like you did the first time we met, and I will hold you tight and not let go until I have to.

For now, while you lay beside me, sleeping, just know I will always comfort you. Whether it is thundering and lightening or hailing outside like it did last night, I will always protect you. Last night, I wrapped my arms around your silken body and I held you and stroked you and talked to you so that you would stop shaking so severely.What I want to say now is simple;  thank you for your love and loyalty and kindness. For kissing my tears away, licking my face and sharing blueberries with me. I enjoy our “cookie game” as much as you do. I take a vanilla cookie and hold half of it outside my lips, you take it out of my mouth and we share it. I will try hard, when you are no longer with us, to fight to remember the good times and not just cry at my loss. I will try Cal, I really will; all I can do is to promise to try.

Love,

Mom

*Dedicated to Rosemary’s dog, Mr. H. Rest In Peace.

UPDATE: CALLIE died six months later from cancer.

DINERS (A Foodie Blog)

Diner in Colorado Springs.

Image via Wikipedia

There are many reasons to love living in New York but one of  the most important, to me, are diners. I wish I was kidding. We lived in Boston for many years and as adorable as the city is, they lack traditional diners. Huge, flashing signs, mirrors showing off svelte/swelled bodies, booths and knowing you can get whatever you want at any time, day or night, 24/7.

Diners are PERFECT for different taste sensations and choices. You can go to a diner (sometimes called coffee shop) and order pancakes at dinnertime or a gyro at 3am. (Gyro: a Greek dish featuring  lamb or chicken, sliced thinly off of a huge vat with spices stuffed in a big pita pocket and topped with a Greek salad, chunks of sweaty, salty, white feta cheese, hold the olives please, oh and the green peppers.) You want lamb, we have that too, a BLT with cheese, coming right up.

There are easily 300 choices and if you don’t see it on the menu, you either don’t want it or you can ask for it and they will make it for you. You can mix and match and yes, even if you want the fruit cup instead of the french fries and have to add a couple of bucks (some diners are strict) it’s still okay. You want breakfast at midnight? No problem, order the scrambled eggs and bacon or the Belgium waffle, or the pancakes (regular or whole wheat) with chocolate chips or blueberries or both. Feel like something upscale? Eggs Benedict or an egg white omelette with grilled asparagus and red peppers. Your child will only eat grilled cheese and fries? That is always available for the little guys (and the big guys too.)

For an international flare I’ve had spinach burritos stuffed with chopped meat, mozzarella cheese and spices, with rice, avocados and sour cream. Do you miss the comfort of Thanksgiving? Have it on a hot day in July: the open-faced turkey sandwich with stuffing and cranberry sauce and thick brown gravy served with velvety mashed potatoes. Potato pancakes with applesauce? Sure. Fried clam strips, no problem, eggplant parmigian with roasted peppers, fresh mozzarella, tomato sauce served with a Caesar salad? Of course. Falafel and humus, gourmet salads, a wrap, a crêpe, a hard poppy-seed roll, blueberry muffin and…..well I could go on forever but that’s my point. The menus are endless and you get great quality at a cheap price.

Caution: leave room for dessert because diners are also known for their variety of pies: blueberry pie, lemon meringue pie, apple pie… and cakes: chocolate mousse cake, vanilla coconut cake, rainbow cookie cake, cheesecake, chocolate layer cake with nuts or without. They also have large cookies as big as salad plates with your choice of sprinkles, sugar, chocolate chips, oatmeal raisin, and black and whites. Your wish is their delight. Most places have three-tiered revolving dessert cases, talk about joy. Standing there watching your mouth-watering favorites spin around slowly.

Ever see the beverage section of a diner? That in itself is special. For me the egg creams (no, sigh, there are no eggs in egg creams, just seltzer, syrup and milk) it’s the amount of each that is so important! They also have milkshakes, malteds, ice cream sodas, regular and diet sodas (free refills at some places) lemonade, iced tea, and a whole page of alcoholic selections with funny, frou-frou names.

Can’t figure out a place where all the family members can agree? The answer, of course, is a diner. Gather some quarters, put them in the music box, listen to the tinny sound of The Beatles or Arrowsmith and have fun. When you go up to pay your bill, be ready to see a free cookie tray or chocolate covered mints to “thank you for coming” as you leave. By the way, the portions are so large that you never need to feel ashamed of asking for a doggie bag; at a diner, it’s delightfully de rigueur.

The Lingering Smell Of Basil

A cooked hot dog garnished with mustard.

Image via Wikipedia

As soon as I feel the first warm hint of spring on my shoulders and see the first crocus I immediately rejoice! It’s Spring, not officially, but in my snow-sickened world it is the start. As soon as Spring is even in the air I start thinking of having barbeques, especially the one BIG BBQ we try to have every few years.  I’m imagining all our friends and family out in the back yard eating cheeseburgers from the Weber grill, dripping with either cheddar or American cheese. I think about   grilled chicken with barbecue sauce and juicy hot dogs, and bright yellow mustard. I also think of potato chips, the real kind, the ones we had as kids and not the baked, healthy, kind either. There would be Heinz ketchup, (of course I’m brand loyal) potato salad made with a touch of mayonnaise, coleslaw and perhaps a large tomato and mozzarella salad with fresh basil and a touch of light green extra virgin olive oil drizzled over the vibrant red tomatoes and the creamy white mozzarella cheese. I love how the earthy smell of basil lingers between your fingertips all afternoon.

In addition, we may have small roasted potatoes on the grill along side smokey-sweet yellow and white kernels of corn on the cob.  Red and white plastic table cloths, bright red or blue plastic plates (preferably the ones that have three sections, love those!) and disposable cups. Napkins would be stacked high in your hands as if they were towels. Messy and barbeques to me are happy synonyms.

Once we went to a barbecue at Charlotte’s house, (“Charlotte of the charmed life” as I call her) the table was like a set directly from a page right out of Martha Stewart Living. Everything matched, the beige, ironed linen table-cloth ( l-i-n-e-n),  the highest quality count, and the china decorated with large blue and yellow flowers bursting on the plates.  Of course, all the bowls, the silver utensils, they all matched perfectly as I watched in unmitigated horror and delight. This is not what I thought I was coming to, I felt under-dressed and ill at ease. It was absolute perfection just not MY type of perfection. It was for high-class people with lots of money and so very different from our dinners and us.

We dined on steak and salmon, ( I hid my salmon) a glossy arrangement of bright green, yellow and red fresh vegetables and imported cheeses. There were no sticky fingers and plastic glasses of lemonade, just a beautiful crystal pitcher filled with ice water, ice cubes that were in the shape of tropical fruit. I was afraid to eat, afraid to get the napkins dirty so I ate slowly and carefully and with my luck, ended up leaving a stain on the tablecloth which I fervently tried to hide underneath the matching napkin. There were no s’mores at this dinner, it was too elegant. We had assorted cookies from the expensive bakery in town shaped and iced beautifully like flowers and cars and ice cream cones but utterly tasteless.

At our barbeques we have cherry, blueberry and apple crumb pies glistening on the table inside with vanilla, chocolate and strawberry ice cream readily waiting in our freezer. I make my home-baked banana raisin-chocolate chip loaf and there would always, I mean always, be a chocolate cake and brownies.

I put my nephew, Jon, in charge of music so the sounds of Neil Young,  Bruce Springsteen, The Beatles, Fleetwood Mac and various other oldies will be playing out the window like the days when music screamed from dorm rooms. It isn’t fancy or elegant and it may just be ordinary but I guarantee you, there will be, a lot of food, including s’mores and an equal amount of laughter. Hope you can come.

Rx: Ginger Snaps

ginger snaps

Image by sweetbeetandgreenbean via Flickr

I have self- prescribed a new medication that treats many of my annoying illnesses, my arthritic hands, my painful legs and general muscle and joint pain. You can find this medication at some drug stores and every grocery store. You don’t need a triplicate, you don’t need a physician’s signature and no one will think you are crazy if you fill this prescription; they will not look at you crossly if you double the amount. You don’t need to plead with your Doctor or Specialist and you don’t have to see their withering looks when they deny you the medication.

My new drug of choice, are ginger snaps. At first, I bought them on a whim. Then, seeing the improvement in my mood, I bought them again and I think they help more than the other six or seven medications that I am on for Fibromyaligia, or Hashitmoto’s Thyroiditis. Nothing else seems to work so I may as well get enjoyment out of this prescription.

I don’t have to eat ginger snaps on a full stomach or two hours before eating: there are no instructions. I eat them when I want. More importantly, I don’t resent this drug for not working as much as I do all the others. They are not covered under my insurance plan but that is alright, they are reasonably priced and always available. They are my treat after long days trying to adjust to a new, busier schedule. My husband is working full-time now while I am still feeling my same old, tired, achy self.  I have tried the generic brand instead of the name brand and I am completely satisfied with either choice.

The first bite, those of you with (TMJ) might think about putting the cookies in the microwave, for a while before digesting.  Nuke to taste. Or, just suck on them for longer joy and satisfaction. You can also dunk them in a lovely cup of Earl Grey tea, milk or coffee. There is no real overdose danger except your pants might feel a bit snug if you eat the entire box in one night but that side effect has never been reported (and who would report it??)

It stands to reason that this particular drug, unlike Oreos, Milanos, Twinkies, or Chocolate Teddy Grahams, is a guilt-free treat. My point is, I feel like they are entirely medicinal. My stomach feels soothed, my mouth has something to crunch on that is not  boring old celery and I get many different taste sensations in one bite. The first bite fills you with a very hard crunch, be wary of any loose teeth you may have. The “ginger-esque”  burn comes at the end: during and after your last swallow. The only problem I see with this medicinal treat is that they are highly addictive so make sure you have a box or two extra, hiding in your pantry or medicine cabinet.

I pretend/know they are healthy and I don’t even look at the calories, fat grams or carbohydrates. Here is my theory:  if they are not sweet, they are definitely good for you. If anyone else has down the same medical research on this drug or any other, I’d love to hear about it.

The Incredible Shrinking Sensa Lady

Cover to The Giving Tree, depicting the tree g...

Image via Wikipedia

Every time I see the commercial for the  incredible shrinking “Sensa” lady on my computer I get agitated. I am like a 5-year-old child that wants to growl. I am Max of Where The Wild Things Are. I am a roaring lioness protecting her young. This stupid Sensa lady appears every day, first she is full-size (and there is nothing wrong with that) and then she diminishes on my computer to become a very skinny (too skinny) cartoon shadow of herself. The commercial comes on practically every time I turn on my computer and I want her to go away. Or gain weight. Or, most importantly, be happy with who she is without shrinking to a skeleton. I want to see her eating chocolate truffles, and fettuccine alfredo with garlic bread dripping with mozzarella cheese. I want to see her with a date, a lover, a friend, a husband, anyone. It’s time for “Single Shrinking Sensa Lady” to hit the road.

I googled “Sensa” and all I could find out is that it is something you sprinkle on food and, allegedly, you feel full faster, but don’t quote me. If it works for you, that’s fine. I am not judging the product because I don’t know it. (maybe I’m judging just a teeny tiny bit?) I’m sure you would get the same results without using the sprinkles and just using a smaller plate!   Brand recognition? Sensa, you win!  I recognize the product each and every time, but it doesn’t in any way make me want to buy the product, it just makes me groan out loud and roll my eyes. Wouldn’t that be negative brand recognition?

As one gets older your body changes naturally. There is not much you can do about it and really, why stress about it so  much. Try to be healthy but don’t hit yourself over the head if you have a slice of warm apple pie.  Life is short, enjoy it. As that great movie with America Ferrara says”Real Women Have Curves.” I’m happy with myself, you can be too. Feel beautiful for who you are not what you weigh. Weight gain, weight loss, isn’t it time we get over it already? Be comfortable in your own skin, be healthy, eat whatever you want in moderation and take a walk; maybe even try to walk a little more every day. Do what you can.

I am no Jillian Michaels (and  heaven forbid, I don’t want to be.) I don’t think people need abs like cement bricks nor do I think they have to be tortured if they don’t lose enough weight in a week (I know it’s a television show called The Biggest Loser, but still……)  Jillian, please stop screaming so much. People are trying as hard as they can; if I was at “The Ranch” your screaming would make me gain weight for the emotional stress you were putting me through. How about a nicer, softer Jillian..oh wait, his name is Bob. Tone it down a little, no tone it down a lot (and I don’t mean in a weight loss way).  Yell at me, bitch, just try. I am comfortable with my body and myself. I am not skinny, I’m closer to chubby, ok, full disclosure; I AM chubby and I am fine with it. Enjoy life, think things through, have dessert, have a big heart and give back to others. Read and reread The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. Success is not always measured in pounds, it’s also measured in pride.