My Thoughts On Valentine’s Day (Plinky Prompt)

Heart-shaped cake with Roses

Image by Taariq Maruzook via Flickr

  • Kiss Me, Hug Me, Tell Me That You Are Mine……….

    February 14, I feel like I should be writing this with red kissy hearts all over the page. ❤ How I feel about Valentine’s Day depends on the year. When I was single, I hated Valentine’s Day, I thought it was overrated and commercial and totally depressing. However, my husband and I got engaged on Valentine’s Day in Hawaii, not at dinner overlooking the magnificent sunset (he didn’t want a scene!) but back in our rented condo, in the kitchen, sharing a Diet Coke. I am sentimental (sometimes) about Valentine’s Day but this year my husband has a meeting with his boss so we will celebrate it two weeks later. After his being unemployed for about 18 plus months, his new job is our joint Valentine’s Day present.
    My husband is NOT well known for his romantic side,(sorry hon, but you KNOW it’s true) I’ve learned to accept that. He’s a more matter of fact, computer/ intellectual person while I am pure, mushy emotion. Sure, I used to dream about red roses coming in a white box delivered by a florist but it’s not his style (and it’s expensive on Valentine’s Day too.) It matters more to me that he is always here for me when I need him, that I can count on him one hundred percent and that he is my best friend and companion. He brings me flowers other times just because he knows I love them, for no “holiday” at all except to make me smile.
    Romance, flowers, sweets are nice, so are red hearts and chocolate covered cherries, and cookies dusted with pink and red sugar. Deep down inside, I am married to the most wonderful man on earth and he is my ultimate gift and so too, I am his.

  • Previous Answer

Turkey Time

turkey sandwich from Thanksgiving leftovers

Image by kthread via Flickr

After Thanksgiving……Yummy!

We had Thanksgiving at our house this year so yes, I like turkey but when I am hosting Thanksgiving I find I am too busy to eat a lot.  After the guests left at around 7:30 I couldn’t wait to have my “real dinner.”  I had a mountain of turkey (c0ld), a little mayonnaise, cranberry sauce…..heavenly. Today, I am looking forward to it again, the chestnut, apple, raisin stuffing that my husband made, the leftover mashed potatoes, even the arugula salad. After Thanksgiving I love turkey leftovers and all the trimmings even more. A thick turkey sandwich with stuffing and cranberry sauce makes me drool in anticipation. No meal would be complete without dessert(s): chocolate cake with amazing fudge-like frosting, apple-pie with a super, rich flaky crust, iced poppy-seed buns, gingerbread and banana bread with chocolate chips and raisins, Florentine cookies…..and more. I can’t wait another minute!

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Chocolate or Vanilla? (Be Serious!)

09 Vanilla Soft Serve Ice Cream

Chocolate or Vanilla? NO, chocolate AND vanilla, in different forms. I’m an all vanilla girl with cakes, cupcakes, frosting and soft-serve ice cream. IF I had to pick one I would go with vanilla. Is there anything better than a soft-serve vanilla ice cream cone with rainbow sprinkles? No, there isn’t, it’s the best combination. Chocolate sprinkles are not even an option, ever. However, at night when the sweet tooth fairy invades my body and soul, I reach for the snack size chocolate candies that are left from Halloween: Almond Joy, 3 Musketeers, Nestle Crunch, M & M’s. I don’t expect that I will have to eliminate one from my world of eating but if I had to eliminate one I would pick chocolate. I’d be “Vanilla Girl” as I have been called in the past, but it would hurt. Deeply.

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Happy Birthday Daddy

Wiener Schnitzel

Image via Wikipedia

November 13th is my dad’s birthday, he would have been 88. He passed away almost 9 years ago but the pain on holidays, birthdays, Father’s Day, is the same raw pain as the day he died.  It’s a pain that is hard to describe for people who have never lost a parent. Believe me, I know.

Instead of wallowing in depression this year I am going to try to remember and honor the man I loved so dearly. His blue-gray eyes, child-like qualities, generosity, pep-talks and his warmth. I miss the soft yet sturdy hugs as if a limb of my own had been amputated. I miss the familiar smell of his after-shave cologne that he sprayed with enthusiasm. My dad and I were very similar; he and I had an amazing connection and a strong emotional bond. We thought alike and we completely understood each other. The day he died, my heart was gauged with intense pain, my heart missing an essential beat.

My dad and I had so much fun together when I was younger. We traveled to  Vienna, Austria, where my grandparents lived. We ate sugary-sweet meringues that were shaped like delicate white swans and sipped hot chocolate with “schlag”  (whipped cream). We ate exploding red-berry sweet and sour tarts in Viennese cafes. My grandmother would fry up her famous wiener schnitzel,  served with plump lemon wedges every single night.

I was in first grade when my mom couldn’t come to open school day but my dad came. I think he was the only father in the class and I was so proud, so happy that he was there. I remember sharing my milk and cookies with him and I felt so important. At a shared birthday party with a friend he surprised me by coming home from work early, sneaking into the party like a secret surprise. It was a joy so innocent and so intense that I remember the feeling to this day. I was shocked and delighted as I wrapped my arms around his tall legs like a clinging, furry animal. Back then dads’ weren’t as involved in their children’s’ lives as they are today but he always had time for me; his little one, his mouse, his baby.

We had adventures, the two of us. My mother worked a great deal, she traveled the world being a tour director and translator. One night my father and I went out to a Spanish restaurant and sipped sangria, with glistening, beaming chunks of bright oranges and green apples bobbing in the rich, red wine. We toasted people we knew with every sip we took. The more we sipped the stranger the toasts were. I remember we toasted a wall -paper hanger guy that never showed up to our house, people we barely knew and random people from the past.

We went to the bagel store together, early on a Sunday morning and the store was closed. However, the fresh, warm, doughy bagels had already been delivered to the store in huge paper sacks. My dad happily took some and we left, an experience a teenager doesn’t forget! We would go grocery shopping at a huge Pathmark store with my mom and he and I would find the biggest size jars of silly things: three-pound troughs of peanut butter and dill pickles, tubs of mandarin oranges and hide them in the cart as a joke. My mother would roll her eyes and shake her head, clearly not amused, but my dad and I would laugh hysterically. Often, there would be open boxes of cookies or candy and we would help ourselves to free samples. Back then, we weren’t worried about poison or germs or anthrax.

My father spent his entire life working for TWA,  getting free airline tickets for our family.  My father, mother, older sister and I flew to: France, Greece, Portugal, Israel, Switzerland and Germany. First class seats were a mere eight dollars extra but that was a lot of money years ago and a very special treat.

This Saturday on my dad’s birthday my husband and I are going to visit my mom and take her out for lunch, we don’t want her to be alone. I know that spending the day with my mom would make my dad very happy.  He loved my mom more than anyone else in the world. Later, that night, my kids and I will remember him with his own, signature and messy concoction, “Papa’s game”: a “mixture” containing  little bits of everything that is leftover on our plates and in our glasses, swirled together with a spoon and a smile. This year, I will toast to his memory.

In Those Final, Pre-Meteor Hours

Rainbow cookies

Image via Wikipedia

Thank You For Being In My Life

Fire in Fireplace During Snowstorm

I would gather the people I love to come over to my house. I would light a fire in the fireplace, and burn some almond-scented candles, sit on comfortable cranberry colored, plush pillows and talk. I would tell everyone how much I love them and what they have meant to me. I would have one arm around my son and the other around my daughter and they wouldn’t struggle to get away. I would be leaning on my beloved husband and our dog Callie would be sitting in my lap giving me kisses. My mother, my sister and dearest friends would be there too, all of us talking in sweet, calm voices so we wouldn’t miss a second of the time we had left. Of course, in my fantasy, there would be food too. We would sip hot chocolate with whipped cream, and eat European desserts like chocolate cake with raspberry jam, rainbow cookies, marzipan treats shaped like fruit, sugar cookies and shortbread. What else would you do for the last day of your life? I would only want to share it with the people I love, and whose love I would carry in my heart forever.

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These Days

January stinks...

Image by Jinx! via Flickr

I have been feeling extremely discouraged and blue; I’m back to square one, for the sixth time, in my search for a successful treatment for both my Fibromyalgia and auto-immune disease, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.  It’s been over 4 years since my initial diagnoses and I have been given drug, after drug, after drug.  I start a new medicine, each time, with hope and innocence and excitement like a flirtation with a possible new love. Two months go by and then I find out that it was, again, just a fantasy. Side effects are my enemy, I generally am the person that fits in the “possible and infrequent side effects.” Another dream deflected, another dream deferred. Back to the drawing board, again; I eliminate the medicine and so too my hope.

I’m drowning my sorrow in leftover Halloween candy and cookies:  Almond Joy bars, Kit Kat bars, Nestle Crunch, Heath bars, Reese’s peanut butter cups, Twix bars, Keebler chips deluxe  cookies and pretty rainbow cookies filled with marzipan and jam. For my anxiety attacks that wake me up at 3:00 am and keep me up until 6:00 I occasionally take Xanax, one prescription drug that I trust.

Yesterday, I started Savella for my Fibromyalgia and decided to stop using Arava (an immuno-suppressant drug). True,  Arava kept my energy up but my legs ached continuously,  like someone was squeezing them into a vice and wouldn’t let go. I don’t want to be on as many drugs anymore. I want to simplify my life, my body. It’s always a long stretch between taking the new medication ( 6-8 weeks) to kick in and likewise for the drug to leave my body.  My husband kept mentioning how the Arava gave me energy and he was right but at what cost?  It was only the other day that it occurred to me that I don’t have to live with the side effect of leg pain if I don’t want to. I’ve been on this drug for months and the thought just occurred to me. I have a choice but with that comes the acknowledgment of failure.  Am I so used to pain that I feel it’s acceptable, even normal, to have some?

I’m alone in my search because no one really knows how I feel except me and even I get confused, my symptoms blur together. It’s hard for me to describe pain that is not throbbing, jabbing; how does one explain “constant?” I go by hunches and I try to listen to my inner self. My body is telling me now to get rid of the different chemicals and if I have to, start again, reevaluate in the future. For now, I will try to nurse my defeat with sleep, and when awake, look bravely at the sun in the sky while it lasts. I dread winter; I always dread winter. My bones feel frosty and taut, my body aches with pain and my mood becomes as dark as the early sunset.

*These Days by Jackson Browne

Well I’ve been out walking
I don’t do that much talking these days, these days
These days I seem to think a lot
About the things that I forgot to do
And all the times I had the chance to

And I had a lover
It’s so hard to risk another of these days, these days
Now if I seem to be afraid
To live the life that I have made in song
Well it’s just that I’ve been losing for so long

Well I’ll keep on moving, moving on
Things are bound to be improving these days, one of these days
These days I sit on corner stones
And count the time in quarter tones to ten, my friend
Don’t confront me with my failures, I had not forgotten them

When Stress Takes My Hand And Leads Me To The Refrigerator

 

day 75

Image by kygp via Flickr

 

I could say that eating unabashedly after dinner is not my fault. I could say that my hormones take over and I just go blindly to the kitchen without thought or reason. That’s partially true. It’s 10:00pm, “do you know where your children are?” asks  Channel 5 (or what I refer to as the “murder channel.”) Yes, I know where my children are but do they know where I am? Probably. They hear my not-so-lightly-padded- feet in the kitchen, the sound of the refrigerator opening and closing, cabinets flung open and the sound of crackling from aluminum packages. When there is something stressful going on in my life I get extraordinarly hungry. No, not at meal times. Not for breakfast or lunch or dinner. I’m doing a days worth of snacking after dinner and while I know its wrong, I still do it. What leads me to the refrigerator at night, is pure and simple, stress. When I am anxious, I eat. I eat, therefore I am. Food comforts me and even thought it’s not a popular thing to say or an easy one to admit, it’s true.

While I grab and choose food there’s usually something that prompts me: a commercial on television, a friend’s description of her lunch or I just need sweet than salty, sweet than salty and  yes, sweet AND salty. Sigh. It’s a vicious circle and I can’t blame anyone except myself or my evil twin as I like to call her. An example of my choices: pretzels dipped in Boursin cheese, Yoo-Hoo, my beverage of choice, vanilla cake, Oreo cookies, Munster cheese spread with strawberry jam, left over pizza with salt, Yodels, rice with ketchup, chips with salsa and guacamole, 100 calorie packs (because they don’t count!), chocolate covered cherries and baked Lays potato chips (because I am watching my weight) GRIN.

Full disclosure: I have been known (infrequently) to have a sample of all of the above when I am not stressed (or don’t know I am stressed) and just hungry. I know it’s bad when I don’t think about what I want to eat, I just grab and stuff. If you ask me if I feel guilty about it, I would have to say, in all honesty, no. While I am eating I don’t think about it, the day after is another story. I am able to forgive myself quickly and at least try to eat healthy food the next  day. Luckily, this bingeing doesn’t last more than a few hours at a time. I don’t drink alcohol, I don’t do drugs, my vice, when stressed or just hungry is simple: food. I am a foodie and my idea of a lovely evening is going out with my husband or friends to a delicious meal. It’s gluttony, it’s enjoyment and it’s food. I take full responsibility for my actions, stressful or starving, I’m ready to order.

A Love Letter To My Dog

 

Bernese Mountain Dog, puppy, 7 weeks old

Image via Wikipedia

 

Dear Callie,

I adopted you from the Briarcliff ASPCA  animal shelter 8 years ago. When I arrived,” just to look”, the manager of the shelter was cuddling two tiny puppies, one on each side of her cheeks. She told me that they never got puppies but you and your sister had just been returned by a man who adopted you at 5 weeks old. He returned after a week to drop you and your sister off because “you were too much trouble.” What did he expect from two 5 week old puppies? You and your sisters and brothers were rejected by your mother who was very tired after having given birth a few years in a row and she would not nurse you. I’m sure in my own psychological, baby heart I related to you, having been born 6 weeks prematurely and in the Neonatal department of the hospital for 5 weeks, away from my own mother. I wanted to save you, to save myself.

You and your sister,  tiny,  black with white and tan spots were handed to me as I sat myself down on the cold, gray concrete floor. You fit into the palm of one hand. One of you ran around, eating electrical wires and trying to escape; the other one walked more tentatively and curled up in  the center of my lap. It was love at first sight. I admit, the other dog was more confident and feisty and she probably would have had fun riding in the car, unlike you.  But, we all know that I’m a softie and when the tiny fluff ball that was you crawled in my lap and sighed with contentment, I did too. We were made for each other, Cal.

When the kids came home from school, in 3rd and 4th grade, you were so tiny that they first thought you were a hamster. For the first week or two I slept downstairs with you on the sofa bed and I treated you as if you were a newborn baby. When you cried I held you, when you whimpered I soothed you and I put a stuffed animal in your crate and the sound of a ticking clock to simulate a heartbeat. You were never a dog that needed to be walked continously you preferred to be at home, safe in our tiny house that was always filled with warmth and lots of love.

You are a natural-born charmer.When we eat dinner you stay near me and you rest your soft, silky neck right on my knee. Oh, you’re a spoiled dog, but you don’t whine or beg, you just look at me tenderly, licking your lips, knowing I will surrender eventually. Who can resist your warm brown dog eyes, the way your fur is outlined  so it looks like you are wearing permanent eye liner. I covet your really long eye lashes that dip and curl.  You eat everything, and you especially love Lorna Doone‘s, spaghetti sauce and blueberries. You’re not a fan of broccoli or pretty much any vegetable that’s not covered in cheese sauce. But, I admit, you eat more things than my two teenage children combined.

I love you, Callie. You are so important to our family; you always have been. The kids used to lie on their stomachs with one arm around you and talk. My son would confide in you when he was furious, my daughter still whispers her secrets in your silky ears. I never knew the meaning of unconditional love before you joined our family. Your fur has white and gray in it now, and you jump more tentatively but that’s alright. We will love you as long as you are with us and long afterwards too.

Calling All Girl Scouts

There’s been a buzz around me and thy name is Girl Scout cookies.  I’ve been hearing  people brag about their recently acquired  Girl Scout cookies, describing the gooey caramel, the coconut flakes, the very minty chocolate, and the lush butter of trefoils. I am not feeling good about it. Isn’t girl scout cookie delivery a spring thing? Could it be that in my area, it’s just a later time zone. Could it be that there ARE NO girl scouts in my neighborhood and we won’t have the chance to linger over the cookie list and fight and choose and then buy them all? That doesn’t seem right.

Do I have such a pathetic life that when I googled Girl Scout Cookie I was thrilled to see that they showed,  actually showed this year’s offerings? What kind of nerd am I?? (Sung to the tune of What Kind of Fool Am I?).  I don’t even like some of the cookies to tell you the truth but I like to be asked, thus my philosophy in life. I don’t want to necessarily do something but I would like to be included, even though I may not want to participate. Just a question of good manners, I say.

I may  put in a few calls to the Girl Scout Cookie Hotline or something like it. I know! Facebook for Girl Scout Cookies? Everything  has a page on Facebook, why not cookies?  Knowing Facebook though, they probably already do.  I just want to know that if my family has been overlooked I could piggy back on another person’s order. Is that too much to ask?  I like seeing those cute little girl scouts with their sweet banners and green outfits with those horrible badges I had to clumsily sew ( or illegally glue)  when my daughter was a daisy, brownie  and a girl scout.  She was crushed when in third grade the Scout leaders wanted a break and there would no be Girl Scouts no more. The parents all secretly applauded.

I remember I would have to do special projects with the girls, all the moms took turns. I was a nervous wreck. Seriously, a Bio-Engineering degree would have been easier for me than that. Yes, it is a bit of an exaggeration but I am not an arts and crafts kind of person. I had to beg my friends to help me out.  I would get impatient at the one girl whose sullen face and refusal to participate made me nuts. All the”” pleases, and “thank you’s”, the cajoling and coaxing, would not budge her. If she wasn’t calling her mom every half hour to be picked up because she had some ache or another, she would refuse to participate and disrupt the class. Even though I adore children, I don’t think I would have been a very good elementary school teacher. This girl was sullen and mean and a brat and not nice to the other girls, except one (and she couldn’t get her to participate either) .  Eventually her parents put her in private school and from what I have heard, it worked out well. Being a member of  the Girl Scout troop?  Not quite the team player she should have been.

So, to all the Girl Scout members out there, please come to our house. We would love to buy cookies from you. I know the fights between my children will ensue. My son will buy “his own”, my daughter will  buy “her own”, and my husband and I will just buy a few to be good neighbors. I would be happy to support the  Girl Scouts and participate. Except if THAT one girl comes to my door again, I will steal a line from Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi and say: “No cookies FROM YOU!”

When Life Sucks, Eat Chocolate

Yesterday, I snuck a Hershey’s milk chocolate bar from the kitchen  furtively up the stairs. In addition, for balance, a 100 calorie pack of Lorna Dunes. I slipped in to my darkened bedroom and hid under the covers.  On one hand I had a 100 calorie pack of “Lorna Dunettes” and in the other a big milk chocolate bar. Together, I thought, the taste would be exhilirating. It’s all about the contrast . Sweet, soft, salty, crunch …   in my world it  was like a mini “fmores”  ( faux smores) festival. Luckily, the only one in the family that noticed was my dog, Callie, who gave me a knowing look;. she  blinked twice and sped up the stairs in front of me. While I was not going to share my chocolate with the  dog, she does love Lorna Dunes; they are one of her favorite cookies; mine too.  Lorna Dunes are melt in your mouth cookies, they are the cookie version of M and M’s, another fine dining experience.

I know, I know, I’m an “emotional eater” and knowledge is NOT power. Yes, I eat when I am unhappy.  Yes, food comforts me, it makes me happier. Tonight, I don’t give a damn. Spent the last 2 entire days sobbing because my favorite, unofficial aunt (or, come on, fill in the blank) “faunt” passed away 2 nights ago. The day before that was my dad’s birthday; he’s been dead 8 years. That’s a hard couple of days. I cried until my eyes were literally stuck together, my nose was a candidate for Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer and my face was all kinds of puffy 3 ways. I didn’t care.  I ate. And, yes, it did make me feel better.

I hate hearing all these non-eating gurus speak about how emotional eating is so bad for us. I say, “so what?”  If it  helps (ok, ok, in moderation) just do it. As long as it’s legal, as long as it’s short -term. Basically, if I am upset or worried or depressed or all of the above and I crave chocolate, chocolate I will have.  Some days I want pretzels but that’s an ordinary snack one that I would not use for a cheer up convention. Pretzels are a clean snack. A healthy snack would not raise my mood an iota. For that we need endorphins (cool word, right?) the ones that they say people get after they excercise a lot. A real high. It’s hard to even type through my hysteria..I mean, really, exercise to get happy? Honestly, I don’t even understand the idea much less the concept. Exercise = Happiness? Not from where I come from. Believe me, I wish it worked for me.  It doesn’t.

When I was younger I loved Snowballs. Snowballs for those of you who don’t know (and I AM sorry) are a round chocolate cake with cream inside a la the Twinkie, BUT, most importantly, this exquisite sculpture of heaven-sent blessings are covered with a thick (i’m drooling) layer of pink marshmelow coating that has thousands of, okay, maybe hundreds, of  coconut flakes all over and inside them. It’s Christmas in April. It’s Channukah gelt, it’s jelly doughnuts on New Years Eve.

Look, some of us are not meant to be a size 6 or even 16. That’s life, that’s truth; that fellow chocolate lovers is the real deal. Don’t deny it. Skinny bitches might band together but those of us who crave carbs  know. Real women know. Give us pasta, pizza, chocolate, fritos, cookies and ice cream and we are happy. I’m not endorsing binging, I’m not endorsing purging. I am endorsing ” a little bit of this, a little bit of that….”(stolen from the Fiddler on the Roof) Anatevka…. Home to many of us.

Talking about tradition, my family has one for New Year’s Eve.  They are called jelly doughnuts. That is really the only celebration we have that I  have celebrated since I was a child. I could eat jelly doughnuts twice a day if they weren’t so oily (yum) and fattening (bummer) and be happy. Forget the champagne, my tradition needs a large glass of milk.  The jelly component is very, repeat, very, IMPORTANT.  The doughnuts I grew up with, once a year, were  pure and lovely pieces of art. Truly, the sprinkled sugar on top–NOT confectioner’s sugar, was equally placed all over the doughnut to perfection. That was from the Homestead Deli/Gourmet shop where we used to go when we lived in Kew Gardens, Queens.

I am not a perfectionist, I DON’T NEED that particular doughnut from that particular store. Dunkin Donuts are fine by me. And every year we buy doughnuts from them on New Year’s Eve, 2 chocolate doughnuts for my husband and daughter, 2 jelly doughnuts for my son and myself .Well, sometimes 4 jelly doughnuts because I just cannot choose between the raspberry and strawberry fillings.  Which to pick? How do I know I will like it? Why don’t I remember from year to year? These are important issues for me. At last,  an easy solution,  a Libra solution: I buy one of each  and only eat the doughy jelly part from both. How can you lose?  Maybe this year (probably not) I will write down my favorite and then just get that every year. Of course I’ve been saying that for many years and i know I won’t do it. Tis the season. Get happy. Eat.