Maryann's Life

Thoughts on life, living, laughing, eating

Purge of 2016

After years of accumulating stuff and things and needed items, our house has become a hoarder’s dream (and my nightmare).  To be completely honest, when starting our new life together with nothing except a room to rent and a bed to sleep in (mind you, it was brand spankin’ new!) the pursuit of needed items became my main goal.  Now, after 20 years, I am ready to review the necessity of our belongings.  I am mentally prepared and slowly limbering up for the PURGE OF 2016!  Yes!   This will become a glorious and monumental memory that we shall cherish forever!  At least, I thought we would.  When actually touching items and deciding if they could be discarded and banished from my life forever, I found that every item had a memory and a touching story attached.  How does one part with things that are actually moments etched in the storybook of your life?

Purging is a commonplace word nowadays.  Purge your body of bad food intake with a 7-day cleanse.  Yoga…to purge the mind of everyday stresses and old negative thoughts.  You thought IKEA was space conscious, you should check out the new Tiny House movement.

Hubby and I were the opposite. We went from a one bedroom apartment to a three bedroom semi-detached home to a single home with seven bedrooms.  Oh yes!  Seven bedrooms which would accommodate our growing family.  Total count:  Me, Wiseguy, his father, Wiseguy’s grandmother, two sons, and a daughter.  Check, check, and check!  A room for one and all.  This also meant more items being brought into the humble abode.  As life changes so do the items in your keepsake arsenal.

When my mother-in-law passed away my father-in-law moved in with us.  That meant 50 years of accumulated treasures and keepsakes.  He sold the cottage.  More items transported into the home.  I myself was cooking with enthusiasm and vigour which also introduced me to many new kitchen appliances and toys.   (Kitchen gadgets are my drug of choice…first even before my Sephora make-up “crack” addiction).  After years of planning, purchasing, collecting and storing how does one begin to cut the umbilicle cord of memories?

I will now show you an item that should be discarded.  As a sane human being, if someone showed me this particular piece I would look at them askew and ask why they still have this piece of dreck to begin with.  It’s absolutely asinine to keep this.  Here is the item I refer to:

 

This is a container that used to have Coca-Cola in it.  I received this at a fair that we used to go to called the CNE (Canadian National Exhibition).  From what I can recall (as I was at a tender tween age), this particular drink was purchased when my brothers, sister and I were at said CNE and we went to the Food Building and got pizza (we must’ve had a coupon).  I think it also came with free refills.  This is junk right?  NOPE!

Above are three pictures showing different angles of this plastic soda pop container.  The first picture shows the container in its full glory.  The second shot shows how I had devised a way to store straws so that I could keep them dust free.  This had started when Wiseguy and I had first moved in together.  Limited space meant using stuff in an ingenious way.  The third picture shows how I had created an enticing way for the kids to get straws.  We would tip the container and try to guess what colour straw would come out.  Sounds silly, but for some reason this has become a weird tradition.

Historically, traditions are passed from generation to generation.  They date back years, decades, centuries, etc.  My fantastically absurd way of getting a straw was my way of entertaining my stepchildren.  We had no money to do fun stuff so I was always trying to think up new ways to challenge their minds and create interesting new games.  This straw game has now gone from stepchildren to grandchildren.

Kennie, being the eldest grandchild, was shown this trick by her mother (my stepdaughter).  She was fascinated!  Now, she knows where this old container is and shares it with her little sister and younger cousins.  It’s like magic!

I’m holding this ridiculous straw container in my hand.  It’s really old, junky and I could buy a lovely glass container to hold my straws.  I could easily discard this space invader and keep the memories of this CNE memento.  I would always remember the magical memories it held for me with each child that used it in awe.  However, seeing it in my cupboard and knowing that one of the four grandchildren would grab for it, I hesitate to discard it.  If it came to a purge vote would it be IN to keep or OUT to purge?

What do you think?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Check engine light…thanks

I was having a wonderful long July weekend.  A three-day weekend with lots of sleep-in days (or perhaps afternoon naps) and NOOOOOOO plans.  Selfish time!!  Don’t get me wrong.  I love socializing, but I also love time to myself and doing things (or not).   Anyway, I was starting off my long weekend, happily driving around to different stores and lolly-gagging (Oh yeah…love the old-time words).  Suddenly I saw a strange pictorial image.  Hmmm.  When my car attempts to communicate with me, I know there is an issue.  After Googling the picture I discovered it meant “check engine”.  F***  or   SH**!!!  There were many 4-letter words I came up with.  I did the mature thing and booked an appointment with my car dealership in order to remedy the situation.  The cost of this was swirling through my head and then I realized how lucky I was.  I found the silver lining in my predicament.  I hope you can share my newfound old-lady wisdom and incorporate it into your daily life.

I had a “Total Recall” moment (no Arnold Schwarzenegger but still life-changing) where I remembered when Wiseguy and I had only one vehicle.  I remembered waking up at 2 am to drive Wiseguy to work.  I then drove home to our apartment and slept for a few hours to get up later to go to the same workplace.  Yes, we had one vehicle.  We sacrificed and made due with what we had.  Walking through the underground parking at 2:30 am is quite scary…unless you are tired.  To be honest, being tired you don’t care who rides the elevator with you.  Probably a very good thing.  We did what had to be done in order to make a living.

Fast forward through life trials and tribulations.  We started off in a one-bedroom apartment with no furniture.  Seriously, no furniture. Our first purchase was a splurge on a bed.  Other than that, we were blessed to have a hotel banquet round table for 4 people and a motel tv donated by Wiseguy’s parents (truly, from his mom).  We had the best day ever when my mother-in-law took us shopping at Sears to get a couch.  We were moving up in the world!  Befriending a  Native (American/Canadian) Indian at work, we scooped up a pullout couch and a swivel chair.  Yes, we were lucky.  Furniture for the kids to actually be able to sit on!  For their beds, the poor darlings were relegated to tri-fold mattresses.  Just sponge covered with fabric.  I bought twin sheets (just the top one) in different colours so they could identify with one.  They slept on the floor in the living room.  It was all we had and we made it work.  It wasn’t easy, but there was a lot of love and we tried to make it as special as possible.

Clothing…well, we loved Value Village.  We found a way to clothe everyone with the wee little budget that we had to work with.  To be honest, Value Village (comparable to Goodwill or Salvation Army) had good quality items.  Some items still had the original store tags on them.  Am I embarrassed?  NO!  Everything we did was out of love.  We loved life.  We loved our children.  Belongings were not what were about.  We were about quality time and making memories.

So, here is a petit view of my perspective on our new world order.  We are used to looking at the world in a negative way and yet there are many things that are so positive.  So, I will now give you a mini-training lesson on finding the positive in the negative.  Here we go…

  •  My car shows the check engine light.

NORMAL REACTION:  (BLEEEEEEEEP)….SON OF A  (BLEEEEEEEEP)

NEW REACTION:  I am so lucky.  I have a vehicle that tells me when something is wrong.  I am not stranded on the side of the road.  Oh, even better, it’s summer.  I am not stuck on the side of the road in the middle of a Canadian winter.  Best yet…I am grateful that I have a vehicle.  I am grateful that I can afford to pay for the repair.  Life is good.

  • It’s 38 degrees (Cdn) and over 100 degrees (US)

NORMAL REACTION:  It’s too hot!  I can’t believe how hot it is.  It’s unbearable.

NEW REACTION:  I am so lucky to experience beautiful, warm weather after the cold winter.  I am also super grateful for the air conditioning that I can afford to have in my home.

  • I just got my hydro bill

NORMAL REACTION:  Seriously how much am I paying???

NEW REACTION:  I may not be pleased with my bill, but I am lucky to be able to pay my bills and have my house temperature cool so that I can sleep comfortably at night.

SUMMARY:  I hope your life is as great as mine.  It’s full of love and hugs (yes I’m a hugaholic).  And if not, I hope you find your way to that promised land.  You may think the things you own will make you happy, but as you get older you will find that less is more.  Not sure who mentioned that previously, but they were right.  Smile and think about how lucky you are.

Lastly, when the check engine light pops up, be happy.  It might cut into your savings, but it saved your life. It let you be around longer for those who love you.  Thank you “check engine” symbol.  It’s a reminder that everything in life in short.  Joie to vivre…Joy of life!

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Chef…a culinary experiment

I love to cook.  I love to buy colourful foods (vegetables and fruits) and figure out what to make with them.  I love to research (basically “Google” recipes) and try out new things.  I have now expanded my culinary skills to actually NOT following a recipe.  Does that mean I’m a chef?  Well, that is a definition I actually looked up.  Chef means that you cook meals for people.  Yes I do that!  It mentions something about restaurants too…ok, I don’t have a restaurant, but anyone eating at my home and people I work with think I should open one. Very complimentary, but I don’t think I’m quite at that level.  Anyway, in my mind “chef” has a different meaning.  CHEF – Can Have Experimental Food!  Yes, anyone eating my food is my chosen guinea pig to test new things.  Welcome to my thoughts and dissertations on food.

Food.  I could say it’s a love/hate relationship but I would be lying.  I LOVE FOOD!  I love experimenting with new recipes.  I love prepping it.  I love cooking it.  I love eating it.  Notice…there is a lot of love here.  The hate part is…I LOVE FOOD!  Let me explain my absolute food weaknesses…McDonald’s french fries.  I swear those are like crack-cocaine to me.  I don’t do drugs, but these hot little sticklettes make me weak in the knees.  After that or almost neck and neck is pizza.  What kind of pizza?   Hmmmm…thin crust, thick crust, tomato sauce style, white garlic/oil style.  Mozzarella or goat cheese.  Pepperoni or roasted eggplant and zucchini with balsamic drizzle.  To add to my super cholesterol heart-stopping food fest…CHICKEN WINGS!!!!  I am a Wing-nut!!  (In many ways…)  Those are my favourite, unhealthy indulgences.  Do I have an unhealthy relationship with food?  Perhaps…but what relationship is perfect?   Am I right?

History lesson:  when cooking as a child with my mother I got to lick the spinny-things from the hand mixer.  I got to mix the tomato sauce for pasta.  I got to eat pizza dough (oops…that was never supposed to be revealed).  My cooking lessons were as follows:

Mama:  NE TAKO!  (translation:  NOT LIKE THAT!)

Mama:  Sporije!  (translation:  slower!)

Mama:  Ovako.. (translation:  like this…)

Mama:  NE TAKO!  (translation:  NOT LIKE THAT!)

Mama:  Ovako mjesaj  (translation:  Mix like this)

Mama:  NE TAKO! (translation:  NOT LIKE THAT!)

So…there you have my basic cooking lessons.

Oh wait!  There are two more phrases my mother always used:

Mama:  Na umjerenoj vatri (translation:  bake at 350…she actually had to explain what middle heat meant and then I finally realized it was always 350 degrees)

And last but not least:

Mama:  Otprilike (about or approximately).  Yes most recipes had that included.  Any seasonings you were to use like salt or pepper, you were basically guessing how much was needed.  For a newbie learning how to cook that never helped.

So, when I started sharing my knowledge with others I improved the lessons I had received.  I liked to train by smell.  I also did not use measurements (bad teacher), but I would have the meat in a bowl, and then I would cover the tops of the meat with salt or pepper or paprika.  We would mix the meat and then I would ask my “student” to smell.  Yes…you can actually smell salt and pepper and paprika and you could know if there was too much.  Seriously!  Again, for beginners we would start with a few shakes because you can always start with less and add more but you can’t take away if you have added too much.  There.  That is my greatest cooking advice.

Am I a chef?  Yes, in my mind I totally am.  I cook food for people.  I love cooking!  I am practising baking (not quite perfect yet, but it’s all in the learning).  I have the best kitchen with my Wolf Subzero Stove.   I think that people who have tasted my creations can vouch for me.

To summarize…I LOVE COOKING!  I love filling my house with family (approx 20+ people) and cooking and enjoying their reactions to my recipes.  Nervous?  Absolutely!  I want everyone to love it!  Yes…there goes that “love” word again.  Why?   I truly believe that feeding people with food is nourishing, but I also believe that the love that I put into making my food transmits into internal happiness for those who consume it.  Food isn’t just about livelihood, it’s about sharing and caring.

My newest adventure is with old fashioned European foods (lately Italian), and putting my own educated spin on it.  Check out this lovely plain recipe full of flavoured layers and many “oh my this is good” in between bites!  My latest heartfelt and enjoyable culinary experiment.

RECIPE:

1 half baguette

1 large garlic clove

4 tbsp buratta (I think…approximately)

4 tbsp balsamic drizzle (basically balsamic vinegar and honey boiled down for 30 minutes until thickened…”google” for an actual recipe…otherwise…meh…approximately what you think will work)

THERE!  Authentic European recipe.  MANGIA!  (That’s amore…I mean Italian!)

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Toasted french stick bread, rubbed with fresh garlic. Buratta spread on top and drizzled with homemade balsamic drizzle

 

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Cellulite…a love story

I love sharing stories about my life and growth.  In this particular instance, it’s about waist (not waste…as no leftovers were harmed).  I can discuss the long, cold Canadian winters which leads me to over-carbohydrate myself with ravenous amounts of bread:  sliced bread, pita bread, bagels (bread really), English muffins (still bread) and then there are the dunking-into-stew breads like baguettes or French stick or really anything that sops up that lovely stewed liquid.  So, today my topic is about curdled-cottage-cheese thighs, my “over” tummy and how I cope with the gym fever of the world.

I joined a gym once.  It was a long time ago…ahem…super long time ago.  I think there was a T-Rex with a pencil ready to sign me up.  The machines were enormous. There were mirrors everywhere. There was a machine which had me pushing my legs out and focusing my eyes on my hoo-haw.  Why was this good?   After a few months (and a call to the Mafia) I managed to cancel my membership.

Yoga is a two-digit word.  Yes, it is supposed to be about clearing your mind and learning to breathe.  Yoga doesn’t work for me.  I learned to breathe…that is true, but other than that, all it did was lead me to rehearsing (in my head) my grocery list of items that needed to be done.  Yoga was not for me.

Racquetball.  I love playing racquetball!  It’s my favourite sport!  I started playing in University with a friend (for an hour) and have never…ever…played again.  True!  (Note: This is an ongoing joke with me and Wiseguy.)

Cycling!  Yes, I recall my bro and I going for long bike rides around our neighbourhood and beyond.  We were explorers!  We would leave after dinner and wouldn’t be back for at least two hours.  I do recall two bad cycling incidents.  Once was a mosquito in my eye.  Yes, it flew in and I smushed it and I couldn’t see well.  The other was where I was turning around a curve and there were crushed stones.  I wiped out and my elbows and knees were bleeding.  Luckily I was able to walk home and keep up my sniffles in order to be pampered at the finish line.  Milk it baby…milk it.

I belonged to a dance group that met once a week.  We had numerous performances and I was in almost all of the dances.  Yes…I was svelte.  Also I was young.  I could jump and spin and twirl and sing.  I could do almost anything.  (Yes, it rhymes…read it again.)

So, here I am…almost 50 (yes…I’m surviving) and my body has decided that there are renovations needed.  No, I did not get the memo.  No notice.  No meeting.  NOTHING!  My gutsy-trusty body decided to go ahead and pillage me without any notice.  How rude!

Every morning, before I get out of bed, I have learned that I should stretch.  I have been doing this since my early thirties.  Well, lately my stretches sound more like maracas!  One comedienne said it best, “I’m an exotic dancer for the blind.”  I stretch and all of my joints take turns cracking like a bowl of rice cereal.

I have maps of some sort of my legs. There are blue lines which I can only assume are rivers.  Not sure where these rivers are but one day I’ll find them.

Finally there are the bubbles.  Yes, I always find silver linings in everything in life.  My wonderful legs that carry my body everywhere have these pretty little dimples.  Yes…they are everywhere.  These dimples are fantastic FAT deposits.  They are the storage units of my winter solstice and my packing on weight to keep warm in winter.  Yes, I love lying to myself.  I just love food and using hibernation always sounds like a good excuse.  Anyway, I jiggle.  My stomach, by butt, I even have jiggle arms.  Here is my crazy thought.  Follow me on this.  Once I get diagnosed with an incredibly bad illness I will have my 20 lbs of extra fat (like camels not needing water) to help me through any horrible surgery and recovery.  Skinny people have nothing to fall back on.  My excess will assist me in survival and then I will once again be slim and healthy after my horrible crisis. Crazy?  Nah!  I just think ahead.

I am “cuddly”.  My granddaughter came up and poked me in my belly. Oh yes! Wait for it… “Big belly”, she said.   Yup, that is what this almost 6-year old said.  Was she right?  Oh yes…absolutely.  Was I offended?  In my younger days I would have been, but I have accepted my body.  I would like to be thinner, but I am also happy with myself and my life.  I don’t want to diet.  I don’t want to give up foods I love.  I consider myself a chef of sorts.  I have the greatest kitchen in the world and I LOVE TO COOK!  My other favourite motto is “never trust a skinny chef”.

Flashback to my “big belly”.  I looked at Kennie and asked, “Baba has big belly which means I am soft and cuddly and I can give you amazing hugs so big bellies are good right?”  She thought for a bit.  Really, really thought about it and then looked at me, nodded and said, “Yup, it’s good.” Then she moved in for the soft, cuddly, Baba hug.

Cellulite and cuddles…a love story.

 

 

 

 

 

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Geraniums and other mysteries…

I do stop and smell the flowers.  However, nowadays with the new everlasting hybrids, most flowers do not have a scent.  You need to go and stalk people who have been planting for the last 25 years.  They have the wonderful originals.  Standing around you can actually smell the lilacs when the wind blows.  I have tried to keep flowers in my house, but to no avail.  Besides aloe plants, everything else either gets too dry or overwatered  a.k.a. drowned.  So imagine my surprise when I realized that I can actually keep geraniums alive.  Yes it’s true.  I learned the secret from my mother-in-law.  It’s a simple trick and yet I find that it applies to situations in everyday life.

My mother had a green thumb.  I am not sure if she always had it, but our house could’ve been a greenhouse.  A botanical garden.  I recall a wonderful green plant (nope…no idea what it was called…all I know is that she used to use kitchen twine to tie this climbing plant to the spindles of the staircase.  Oh yes, this went on for years until my brother and I decided to challenge each other to slide down the bannister.  Keep in mind, this plant started from a cutting and ended up being 12 feet long.  It wound up the stairs and up to the bedrooms.  I will always remember this:

Me:  (whispering) No…mama is gonna kill you!

Bro: (whispering) not unless you tell her!

Me:  It’s a long way down.  You’ll fall!

Bro:  Don’t tell…

NOTE:  This dangerous endeavour was even more high faluting as our mother was sitting precariously around the corner in the family room watching tv.  Daredevils?  Idiots?  You decide.

And then he began his slide.  He started at the top of the stairs.  He straddled the bannister and launched himself down.  Suddenly,  his leg got caught on the foliage halfway down and then he flipped over and fell down onto the ceramic floor.  The only thing that saved his hide was that he had a frickin’ nose bleed!  Otherwise our mother would’ve whipped his butt!  The important thing was to fix him up and make him well…before she could beat him.  Oh…European upbringing…so logical.   The worst thing on my part was that, not only had I predicted the fall, but I couldn’t help laughing when he fell.  Yes, I was a good big sister.

I recall seeing the Giant Beanstalk strewn on the floor.  Not sure what happened afterward.  The fact that little bro lived AND did not receive any punishment that I can recall made this evergreen moment memorable.  The other floral memories I have are African violets.  My mother was obsessed with them.  We had them all over the house.  She prided herself on having these plants thrive and having family and friends comment on how she could make them live and grow exponentially when others could only condemn them to death.  My mother had a gift.

I myself thought repeated drownings were important in order for flowers to survive.  Yes I killed everything until I purchased geraniums.  Beautiful flowers.  Many colours and yet Wiseguy’s favourite were the bright ruby red ones.  Not pink or white.  The red ones were the ones that his mother always loved.  Her reason for loving geraniums was simple…they bloom all summer long and into fall.  A little chilly weather and they still bloom and thrive.  So, after being a mass floral murderer I tempted fate and extended my interest into the daring flora.  I bought and took care of the bright red geranium.

I bought fancy pots.  I purchased the good soil.  I hoarded and applied “miracle grow” to ensure that they would thrive.  I carefully planted these beautiful flowers and watched them bloom and grow.  (Reminds me of “Sound of Music”…”bloom and grow forever…”)  Then something strange happened.  My beautiful flowers started drying up and blowing away.  Did I do something wrong?  What happened?  I felt like a failure.  I slaughtered a living green being.  I felt horrible.    I didn’t know what to do.  My hubby’s favourite flower and I was killing it.

I finally came to the conclusion that I couldn’t keep any plant life alive.  One weekend we ended up visiting the in-laws.   We arrived and walked into the backyard.  My mother-in-law was beside a geranium and was bending branches off the geraniums.  The flowers were already drying out.  I asked her what she was doing.  She replied, “In order for the new flowers to bloom you need to cut off the dried flowers.  You don’t want to keep wasting nutrients on the dead flowers when you can feed the new blooms.”  I wasn’t sure what she meant.  “See,” she pinched the stem of the dried petals and pulled it off.  “Now, the new blossoms can bloom beautifully because the nutrients are going where they are supposed to go.”  I went home and I gently bent and tore away the dried stems.   It was time to feed the blossoming blooms.

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I compare my life to the blooming geranium.  Sometimes you need to cut off the dead blooms.  The dried out blooms being negative people.  They won’t feed you any wisdom, kindness, or goodness.  It is best to just let them go.  Learn how to handle things that grow.  That includes children, grandchildren, parents,  siblings, family, friends.  We are always learning and growing.  So instead of drowning those in order to save them, perhaps it is best to let them go.  It is up to them if they want to survive and move on.  For those newfound petals that are blossoming, be there for them.  They are vibrant, excited, and usually happy.  Those are the flowers you want in your garden because together you can make a happier life.  This is how I view my beautiful geraniums…mysteries leading to life lessons.  Happy growing!

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Bacon…and other hazards

It’s a rainy Saturday morning.  Good news is that I’m alive and I’m breathing!  Best of all…there is bacon frying in the pan.  I love the smell of bacon!  (Hence the extreme importance of having inhaling capabilities.)  I love the way it transforms from soggy white and pink strips to brown, crunchy, salty yumminess!  (I was going to say “goodness” but I’m sure my pulmonary valve would slap me).  As I move in closer to the stove top to flip the strips…ATTACK!  The bacon fat pops out of the pan and onto my arm.  Ouch!  It burns!  And yet, I stay there to complete the task.  That got my mind racing and thinking about other kitchen hazards.

Over the many years of frying bacon I have built up a super-power immunity.  My fingertips have also learned how to pick up hot cooked items and transfer them to other vessels.  Again, it’s a built up resistance.  Some days I feel like Wonder Woman …then again, I don’t think she could handle bacon grease, but I digress.  Below are what I believe to be substantial culinary threats.

COOKING HAZARDS:

  1.  FRYING
    • Whenever you have hot oil in a pan or pot you are challenging the kitchen gods.  You believe you will not be besieged by fiery oil droplets and yet they are laughing at you saying “Oh yeah?  Bring it on!”  Frying bacon (yes, I keep coming back to this deadly onslaught) can lead to either arm burns or grease on your clothes that for some reason will NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER wash out.  Frying potatoes…a.k.a. french fries.  If the taters aren’t dry you are looking at water going into boiling oil and this ultimately leads to the oil boiling over onto your stove.  BEWARE!
  2. SLICING
    • Welcome to knife-dom!  I used to think that dull knives would be better to ensure I wouldn’t get cut.  Those darn machetes always found a way to make me wish I had shares in “Band-aid”.  I learned to sharpen my knives (and my skills).  Using a dull knife on a tomato is what led me to the divine art of honing my knives.  It also guided me to new lessons in advanced first aid.  I could cut myself, yelp in pain, get an adhesive bandage unwrapped, apply first aid cream to it and hog-tie it to my finger in 45 seconds.  Boo-yah!).   Knives actually slid off the super thin tomato skin and would ultimately impale me.  After years of thinking I knew how to use a knife I saw a preview for a movie called Julie and Julia and decided to actually find the first cookbook from Julia Child.  In this book Julia showed me how to hold a knife and how to cut and slice things.  Beginner stuff.  I am very grateful to this wonderful woman for saving my appendages.  For you new chefs out there, here is a good link on how to proceed with onion cutting.
  3. BOILING
    • I always believed that boiling was safe.  Yes I did understand that hot water could burn you, but unless it was poured on your skin directly it was safe right?  Yeah-NO!  I recall the day I decided to make home cooked macaroni and tomato sauce.   The pasta was on sale and the sauce was Ragu sauce.  This was definitely within my newfound culinary skills.  I put water in a pot.  I added salt.  I felt like a true wife/mother/chef!  I put the lid on the pot and waited for the water to boil.  It took longer than it should have because I kept lifting the lid to see if the water was boiling.  Hence the phrase “a watched pot never boils.”  Although an idiom about patience, I followed the true meaning…that darn water won’t boil while I’m watching.  Whilst playing with the kids I heard the pot lid clanging.  The water was boiling!  Yay!  I lifted the lid and promptly burned my wrist. Yes…steam is lethal.  You thought bacon fat was bad?  Steam burns last several days.
  4. BAKING SHEETS
    • I decided to branch off and learn to bake.  Cooking is more fun because there is room for error.  Lots of room for trial and error.  Baking?  Heck no!  There is a reason everything is measured to the minutest ounce / milligram.  My old oven had this wonderful ejection mode when pulling out the baking rack which catapulted super hot cookie sheets onto my awaiting bare arms.  To date only one major burn; an inch long and half inch in diameter.  THAT is my real life cooking tattoo.  Also a daily reminder of being careful when playing with fire.

I am sure there are many other hazards I could reveal to you, but then you would surely want to eat out daily or hire a chef to make your meals.  I have lived, breathed, survived many culinary challenges and I LOVE cooking!  I love hearing the click, click, whoosh of my gas stove firing up.  I know there are new adventures in foodie-dom for me.  One thing I learned from dear Julia Child was:

“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”

Worst case scenario, I can always hook up with my granddaughter Kennie and we can make food into art.  XOXO

macaroni art

 

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New illness revealed…

Everyday there seems to be some kind of new disease taking over the world.  I do believe I have discovered a new illness.  It is quite uncomfortable and irritating, and it usually clears up after a couple of days.  If I am correct, and this is a new disease, then I shall be famously known as the woman who discovered, diagnosed, and provided the remedy for the infamous Croatianitus (pronounced:  kro-aye-shun-eye-tis).  What is Croatianitus?

I am sure most of you have heard about Tinnitus.  It is a ringing or buzzing in your ears that only you can hear.  Croatianitus is something similar, but in an opposite way.  Instead of hearing the buzzing in your ears you find that you really can’t hear at all.  There is a pressure built up in your head, sort of like having your head wrapped up in a cotton ball helmet.  When people speak to you, you can see their lips moving and perhaps some sound will break through the fogginess, but your actual capability to hear normally has been adversely affected.

What causes Croatianitus?   This condition is most often brought on by being in public places with Croatians.  These are a jovial and entertaining group of people.  They prefer loud music and even louder conversations. This friendly group of humans started out in Croatia.  From there, emigration began and they moved to many different countries all over the world!  They brought their sense of joie de vivre with them and settled in cities where there were others of their kind.  Their raucous laughter and joke telling was studied in order to record their decibel levels.  After numerous studies, dB showed them way above healthy levels…closer to “shot gun” deafening.

I have been studying this society for quite some time now.  I have attended their marital rituals and other religious ceremonies.  I have been invited to and frequented other social events including annual group performances which showed their softer side.  Colourful, cultural dances and the vocalizing of historical songs.  All is well until their show is over and the socializing begins.

It appears very harmless.  Oftentimes you will move to a different room and sometimes even a different location.  Having completed their ceremonies, they become lax and free-spirited.  They congregate and speak.  This is symptom number one of Croatianitus.  You believe you are in a regular conversation, however, when this group forms you will find that they begin speaking at a dB (decibel) level of perhaps 30.   Very safe.  As more of them enter the room, there are more in-depth discussions beginning.  In order to be heard, the repartee of each mini-group grows in loudness.  Suddenly, you notice that the traditional music has begun playing in the background.  When did that occur?  You are already beginning to notice a difference in your hearing.

Symptom number two is when you realize that you yourself have begun to annunciate and speak louder.  This is an automatic self-preservation tactic.  In order to be heard above the din you must assimilate with the masses.  You lull yourself into a false sense of security at your ingenuity.  Little do you realize that as the seconds and minutes tick by, you have gone from “normal-speaking” person voice to the “Croatian” speaking voice.  This voice is at least three times louder than your normal speech and you feel comfortable because the “Croatians” smile at you happily and proudly as you have adjusted in order to join their world.

Symptom number three is the most fatal one and oftentimes is mistaken for tiredness or regular tinnitus.  After cavorting with these cheerful and partying persons, it is time for you to go home.  You start to say your goodbyes but you can’t hear your own voice.  After much analysis I believe that this is the reason why these people give big hugs and double cheek kisses at the end of the night.  No one can really hear them, and it is said that actions speak louder than words, so this is their way of showing you their joy and gratitude for your attendance.

Remedy for Croatianitus is a bit of a longer process.  It is all about patience.  You will notice that your ears will continue ringing.   The buzzing will stop, usually by next morning.  The newfound deafness could take up to a couple of days to clear, but you will get there.

The best way to ensure you don’t become prone to this illness is to limit exposure.  After intense study on this group, I have found that a two-hour maximum exposure limit will allow you to hear in about one hour after departing their company.  Anything longer than that and you are looking at the three day rule until full recovery.

How do I know all about this?  I myself am a Croatian.  I chanced upon Croatianitus after moving out of my parent’s house.  As mentioned previously, there were six of us in that house and the Over-Talking (a.k.a. “speaking over another person while they are still talking” because we didn’t consider that rude).  We knew we had to speak louder in order to be heard.  THAT was our training ground.  There was no “excuse me” or “pardon me for interrupting” it was survival of the fittest, or in this case, the loudest.

After departing the humble abode of my youth and moving in with Wiseguy hubby, he started lowering the volume on the tv set one night.  He asked if I could still hear everything.  I could. He lowered it again…and again…and again.  Surprisingly, I could still hear every word being said.  THAT was when I first realized there was something unique about being nurtured (trained) in a Croatian home.

EPILOGUE:  It has been five hours since departing my last Croatian function.

  •  Congregating time after concert = 2 hours.
  •  Hearing in my right ear = returned after 2 hours.
  • Hearing in my left ear = returned after 4 hours.
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