My Top 20 (Food Pop, Pop Cop, Odd Cop)

English: A jelly donut that was bought at Dunk...

English: A jelly donut that was bought at Dunkin’ Donuts in Brooklyn. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

20 RANDOM THINGS I LIKE:

The year is slowly coming to an end, the weeks are flying by. I’ve put together a current list of things that make me happy. Life can be hard, you need to appreciate the little things, here are twenty of mine:

1) Alex and Sierra (From the X Factor)

2) Miniature Almond Joys

I love these and their cousin Mounds but here you get an added crunch of the almond. I LOVE coconut, the taste lingers on your lips after you finish it. Don’t tell my dentist but if I have one of these before I go to bed I “accidentally” forget to brush my teeth. It’s so worth it. The only reason I added Mini is because if I have the regular size I start to feel guilty. ( You can’t possibly feel guilty after eating one of those.) Win-Win.

3) My Christmas (Thanksgiving) Cactus

Every year at Thanksgiving our Christmas cactus starts to sprout beautiful, bright red flowers. I guess our cactus is always early (like my whole family) and shows up ahead of schedule. Seeing some bright red color when the winter is so gray makes me happy.

4) Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (the movie) The one movie that divides sisters! I love it and my sister hates it.

5) The time 8:32. On the way to junior high school, I would always look out the window while I was standing in the overcrowded, adolescent, odorous teenage filled bus. We passed a bank near our school and there was a big sign with the time, every morning we passed,it said 8:32. For some reason, that number when seen, still makes me happy.

6) Believing in messages from those who have passed on and getting them for me or a friend. Powerful. Spiritual: “Love Does Not Die” ( Post)

7) I like the way my husband orders his french fries: “Can you make them extra crispy please?”

8) My friend Denise’s nut tarts. I have a friend who bakes the most delicious, bite size nut tarts, she could sell these professionally, they are like a work of edible art. Bite sized carmelized pecan heaven, I’m almost glad I don’t see her often. Addictive.

9)  Avegelemno soup, from our local Greek restaurant. Tangy, lemony with pieces of chicken and rice. Served with soft, puffy pita bread.

10) Goldfish (the living kind not the crackers) I had a goldfish named Frank that I loved dearly, umm, it died and it was all my fault. I overfed it. I still feel guilty and this was many years ago. I’m so sorry, Frank. R.I.P.

11) The sun and the color Yellow (see my weekly posts on Yellow Magic Madness)

12)  A body of water (any kind) ocean, lake, stream, pond…This is where I feel happiest, close to water.

13) Nature. As I get older I want to spend more and more time outside surrounded by mother nature. It was not that important to me when I was younger. Age gives you experience, wrinkles too but it also gives you wisdom. I like to be outside, weather permitting, as much as possible. Even with Fibromyalgia, I try to force myself outside when I can.

14)  Vacation:  For the last few years I haven’t had anything to look forward to in a major way. Sure, I look forward to see my friends or to go out to dinner but having something special to look forward to months from now is incredibly joyful. We are planning a trip with my mom in the Spring and I am looking
forward to that, more than I can explain. I definitely need something once a year, it will be my New Rule for myself. It doesn’t have to be anything big but it does have to be SOMETHING.

15) Jelly Doughnuts: We have them on New Year’s Eve, a European Tradition but I had one the other day while my husband had a Boston Creme Pie doughnut just for the fun of it. Delicious. Thank you, Dunkin Donuts.

16) Singing out loud (and off-key) to music streaming from my computer (classic 70’s pop rock, Bruce,

17) Listening to my husband whistle, happily. My father used to whistle happy tunes all the time, when my husband whistles it also reminds me of my dad, and that’s a good memory.

18) Pizza (There is no such thing as bad pizza, when it is leftover pizza and is too dry or it loses its taste, add strawberry jam.) I’m serious.

19) Books (Real books that I hold in my hand, no techno devices) Call me old-fashioned.

20) Flashlights.

English: Evening sunshine, Rutland Water. Just...

English: Evening sunshine, Rutland Water. Just to the SW of Lodge Farm, this part of the shoreline looks most inviting. It’s just a pity that the beach is mud and there is blue-green algae in the water! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Worrying, Lamb Souvlaki And Pollyanna

Pollyanna (1960 film)

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve had way too many changes in my life in a short period of time and I feel unsettled. Anxiety attacks have crept up on me like the sting of bees approaching quickly, out of nowhere.  I feel anxious, on and off, and I am not too proud to admit it. A lot of people have feelings of anxiety, that’s why there’s medication and breathing, writing and music, and today, cleaning and keeping busy. Usually there are friends to talk to but my dear friend is in England having a great vacation and others don’t really make the effort or are just too busy with their own lives. My worry and I are together, we’re holding hands.

My mom has been sick and I am worried about her; her anxiety is fueling mine. My mother who was always seemed so strong and energetic seems  more vulnerable now, she’s had a horrible year and she’s scared, we both are. I’m “meeting worry half -way” as my old friend, ex-nun, lesbian and former boss used to say. That’s not doing anyone any good. I am scared for my mom and for me,  I think she is too.  My sister is usually the Pollyanna type in the family so I just wrote her and asked how she felt, maybe she can comfort me. I know she is not a worrier, and even though she is extremely positive about these sorts of medical situations I’m not sure it will rub off on me though I hope it does.

I have a wonderful husband, two great kids, a lovable, sweet dog; I have a home to live in and food on the table. So, why am I so unhappy? Better yet, why am I feeling so anxious lately?  I know I am worried about my mom but things have also been changing quickly.  My son graduated High School and is at his second home in Connecticut being a Counselor at his old sleep away camp. I’m told he’s very happy, we haven’t heard from him. I wonder if it will be the same way when he starts college in September but I am not ready to go there mentally yet.

When did fun flee from my life, like people racing out of the water at the mere hint of a shark sighting? What is happening? Last night was different and I was thrilled.  My husband and I went to an old, small, family -owned Greek restaurant, I ate Avgolemono soup (Greek chicken, rice and lemon soup) and pita bread, he ate lamb souvlaki, big, fat, french fries and a salad. Afterwards, we saw the new Woody Allen movie and ran into friends. Throughout the movie I did not worry, I was entertained and charmed by Midnight In Paris. Welcome back, Woody Allen.

Xanax is a prescription medicine that just takes the edge off of being worried, it doesn’t fix things, it smooths the sharp edges like green and blue sea glass. My feet ache, I think I have a broken bone in my left foot, it is hard to walk up stairs, it is hard to walk, it is hard to breathe. There is no way I can hobble around in the city, as planned, I will postpone it until after the X-ray next week and the results of my mother’s tests. More importantly,  I will  “talk” to my deceased father, sending messages and prayers into the dark sky like shiny, silver helium balloons. I hope you are right Pollyanna, I really, truly do.

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.

Bad Karma For Eating Out (A Foodie Blog)

Let’s just say that my husband and I should have stuck to our original plan to stay in tonight and eat scrambled eggs with toast. But no, I had to see a video of a new Ethiopian restaurant ten minutes away and want to go. I wanted to go as in now and immediately. Big mistake.  First of all we go there and having read that they were open seven days a week, they weren’t. It’s Monday and yes, they were closed. We moved next door to a tiny Jamaican Jerk Chicken place which did say, on their front window, “We Are Open 7 Days A Week.” Guess what? They weren’t. The door was open and so we walked in only for the owner to tell us they were closed!  “Oh, he said, just today, but we are open on Mondays.”  That said, we walked out again, even hungrier than before.

Starving now, and not having enough to eat during the day  I was not happy; my husband was not happy. We were hungry. We get cranky when we get hungry sometimes. It happens. Down the street is a very inexpensive Greek restaurant, ample supplies of food at the most inexpensive prices. We have been going there since it opened about five years ago. It is consistently good, cheap, portions are enormous and they serve the meals rapidly. My husband ordered the Lemon-Chicken soup (Avegolemono or something that sounds like that) with grape leaves stuffed with rice, sour cream sauce (Tzatziki which I thought was supposed to be made with yogurt, my bad) on the side. It says yogurt on the menu, they serve real sour cream. Can’t argue the taste.

I wanted to have something different so I ordered Lamb Souvlaki on pita bread. I eat sliced lamb about once a year and only in this form and never in front of my daughter, the vegetarian. I ate several bites and swooned, it was fresh, juicy, filled with lettuce and tomato…….and a dead bee. I swear, I picked this odd-looking thing out of the pita sandwich, thinking it was just part of a vegetable and looked straight into the dead bee’s head and body.

The owner saw what had happened, took the dead bee and asked if I wanted another sandwich. Honestly? I couldn’t face the thought of even looking at the same dish so I politely declined. I ate some of my husband’s salad and that was it for the night. Well, that is until I start snacking later….with my dog around 10:30 PM.

My husband looks over at me and says  “why do these things always happen to you?”  He did not say this with loving concern but a bemused, comical grin. “Just lucky I guess” I answered, heading for the doorway to LEAVE.  It’s true though, things like this happen to me all the time, a bug, hair in my food, egg-shell in eggs (this is all making me gag).

After the first unsuccessful trip to the restaurant we should have just gone home. The scrambled eggs would have been shell-less, the toast would have been crisp and I would have put butter and honey on it. This is what happens when I get an idea in my head and change plans. I should just listen to the signs when they first appeared, stopped, stay put and settled into our uncomfortable kitchen chairs. We would have been happy with either scrambled eggs or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for dinner. That would have been ideal. Will I learn? Probably not.