Some Food Fun on Valentine’s Day

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY to all! 

 Many couples celebrate this day by going out to eat at a fancy restaurant, however this year we decided to spend some quiet time at home, just the two of us.  Our daughter is away at college.  I sent her a nice “care package” last week filled with lots of goodies for the holiday to let her know we miss her. 010

 

Since we were staying home, I thought I’d have a little fun with food today.  Instead of making the same old thing for breakfast, lunch and dinner, I thought I’d play around in the kitchen.  Okay, so the food wasn’t really gourmet fare, but it was fun to make, healthy to eat and totally satisfying (especially the dessert!)

 Happy banana strawberry smoothie

A strawberry-banana smoothie was perfect for breakfast.  Even the food was smiling (before I wielded my paring knife!)  Made with non-fat yogurt and a drizzle of Agave, this frothy breakfast was delicious, filling and less than 300 calories (based on an average serving.)

 

By the time lunch came along, we weren’t that hungry.  I had some cantaloupe chunks and walnut halves while I made my husband a nice little turkey sandwich on toasted whole wheat bread with a mug of hot skim chocolate milk.    

 

???????????????????????????????For dinner, I decided to make a Shrimp and Broccoli dish which was delicious, easy to prepare and wholesome.  I served the shrimp over a bed of brown rice and a small green salad with lemon squeeze on the side to round out the meal.  Before marinating the shrimp for about 15 minutes in a mixture of soy, garlic and ginger, I put together another heart-shaped happy face for the holiday!

 

???????????????????????????????Being Valentine’s Day, I decided to splurge on dessert and make some of my husband’s favorite cookies, Mint Chocolate Chip, as I spelled out a loving message.  A couple of these delightful chocolate sensations with a nice warm cup of tea really hit the spot.  We plan to spend the remainder of the evening relaxing by the fire. 

 I hope everyone gave and received lots of love today.  And if you have pets, I hope you gave them lots of extra love today too!  Valentine’s Day is not just for lovers, you know…

From CameraPhone 008

“We love the things we love for what they are.” ~ Robert Frost

Advertisements

“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” Faulkner

You never know what you’ll find when you dig through drawers you haven’t searched in a long time.  Today, I relocated my diary…from 1969.  Talk about a time warp!   Was I really that obedient, naïve and typically pubescent back in the day?  How refreshing to remember…all hope is not lost!

Although I didn’t write in it daily, some of the postings brought me back to a time when life was much simpler…or so I thought.  The first entry was on New Years Eve, January 1, 1969.  I recall being with my two cousins and my brother while our parents were out reveling.  How many people actually have a mini-description of that date?

I’ve noticed through my diary, how often I wrote about doing the dishes, peeling potatoes, vacuuming, watching TV, playing piano, doing a crossword, playing or even being tired.  I also noticed on days we were at my brother/sister-in-laws, or sister/brother-in-laws, we came home very late (or early morning…5 am?)

Another thing that amuses me is my handwriting which was so very sloppy compared to that of high school.  Some later spelling entries are almost unforgivable!  I received an “A” in both Penmanship and Spelling in grammar school but the writings in this diary are atrocious! Guess there’s no pardon by an aging perfectionist!

Oh, yes.  January 16 I was an innocent young girl having a dream about “Owen.”  I vaguely remember a boy with that name…hmmm.

Okay, I was in 7th grade when I penned these entries; still very young.  As a matter of fact, TOO YOUNG, but then again, in today’s society, my dreams and fantasies are realities to some children nowadays…how sad. 

Childhood seems to be waning: adulthood seems to begin at 12, with the ignorance of an infant.

 Even back then, I was concerned about my report card.  A 75 would never do.  I’m sure the teacher made a mistake and the correct grade was  85.3. 

 It’s sad that today, it’s acceptable not to strongly encourage children to study hard and do better in school…it seems everyone gets an award for “trying.”  But how hard do children really try?  Distractions such as TV, Xbox, Wii, Internet, etc., are everywhere.  How often do children pick up a book on their own just to “read?”  Seems to be a foreign concept unless you own a Kindle.  Then again, Smartphones take priority. 

I remembered the “Blizzard of ’69” after reading my diary.  School was closed for two weeks.  I’m sure that made my parents very happy.  However, since we were still amused and occupied with recently acquired Christmas presents, snow days weren’t qute as bad as they could have been.

Notice the note on February 11 as “Diane’s Birthday.”  Diane was then and still is my BFF.  We remember and celebrate each other’s birthdays every year, to this day.  How wonderful is that!

March 7 was actually one of several clippings I pasted from the TV news about a “great” movie; this one was the 1961 “All Hands on Deck” I saw featuring Pat Boone and Barbara Eden.  It seems we were always over my sister Kathy’s house.  NOW I REMEMBER WHY…My sister was the first to have children in our family; I used to babysit for them ALL THE TIME, lovingly I might add, while my sister, brother-in-law and parents used to play cards!  Damn, I never even got paid! LOL

 Oh, this one was a gem.  Visiting my brother and sister-in-law’s house and writing about the “celebrities” I liked very much (at such a tender age)…  Bobby Sherman, Robert Wagner, James Conrad, David Hedison, Dom DeLouise.  My favorite female was Carol Burnett!   I still love Carol!

I eliminated a few more personal entries that only “girls” should discuss…but yeah, they were recorded in my diary and are beautiful to remember.  Could you imagine what I’d be writing online if the internet were available back then?

Just think…this was the stuff I used to think was important enough for me to write about back then.  Today, it’s finances, food costs, gas prices, mortgages, healthcare, taxes, exercise, tuition…and more. 

Oh, how I sometimes long for the younger, softer, innocent years of my youth! 

“Keep a diary, and someday it’ll keep you.” ~ Mae West

Everybody Plays the Fool (Sometimes)

Did you ever have one of those moments where you said to yourself, “what was I thinking?”  Thankfully, I hadn’t said that for a very long time, until this morning.  With millions of people all over the world getting scammed on the internet, I thought I was smarter than many regarding fraud.  Today I almost took the bait; hook, line and sinker.

 I was checking my email when I noticed someone I “like” on Facebook submitted a friend request to me.  Wow, I thought that was pretty cool since this person probably has many “followers” and asked me to be their friend.  So, innocently enough, I logged on to my Facebook account and saw their request and clicked the box that would allow us to be “friends.”  Within a couple of minutes, a chat box came up – oh, this person is online and wants to say hi!  The first couple of sentences were friendly enough albeit generic.  The third got me thinking.  The person asked for my cellphone number.

 Okay, I don’t consider myself a stupid or gullible person but guess what, I fell for the line.  I put down a random number saying I didn’t feel comfortable offering it and wanted to know why they asked.  What I should have done was ask first before typing a number but it didn’t matter.  They told me a sob story about a person in another country who needed my help and they requested money.  That was it.  I wanted to put my fist through the computer.  I immediately reported the chat, “de-friended” the person and reported the site, in detail, to Facebook as a scam.

 What was I thinking?  I “liked” this person because I read their book several years ago and it left an indelible impression on me.  They were spiritual and I admired them.   It didn’t dawn on me to question why they would want me to be their friend when they have thousands of followers.  Dumb ass, I said to myself.  I sent a direct message to the official person/site advising them of the scam.  Hopefully, someone read it and investigated further.  The sad part was there were status reports listed on the fraudulent site from people who seemed to actually believe this person was authentic.  

 I had already been a victim of identity theft a couple of years ago.  Someone had filed a fraudulent claim with the IRS and requested a refund in the amount of several thousand dollars.  We were finally expecting a refund that particular year and when we didn’t receive it within a reasonable amount of time, we contacted the IRS.  They kept giving us excuses and finally, after four months and requesting several notarized documents from us, we were told someone had filed a fraudulent claim online before our tax returns were submitted by our accountant.  We contacted our Congressman and someone in his office processed our case.  We soon discovered filing of fraudulent claims has become an enormous problem in our country, costing taxpayers billions in lost revenue.  Please read this article:

http://www.cnbc.com/id/48462508/Tax_Scam_IRS_Pays_Out_Billions_in_Fraudulent_Refunds

 In our case, there was nothing we did to encourage the fraud.  The IRS would not tell us anything about the individuals(s) who filed the fraudulent return nor would they advise us if the thieves were ever apprehended.  The IRS did however, mail out a check to the schemers in excess of $3K; billions have been paid out in error.  No wonder why our country is in economic trouble.

 After beating myself up over falling for the scam this morning, I was grateful it didn’t go further.  Hopefully either Facebook or the original person I “liked” will have checked into the matter and resolved it one way or another.  Needless to say, I’ll be more careful in the future.  Funny thing though, when I first started posting blogs I saw a few comments that I thought were a little odd.  They turned out to be scammers too!  Who would have thought people would be phishing on a blog?

 I just hope this situation won’t discourage me from engaging in online conversations in the future.  I’d hate to think I’m becoming too cynical; I’d rather think I’m just cautious.  Unfortunately, after my earlier episode, I think I might want to reconsider my security options on all my social media sites, just to be on the safe side.  You know the old saying, “fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice…”

 “It’s discouraging to think how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit.” ~ Noel Coward

Seek and You Shall Find – But Should We?

 Have you ever wondered what happened to a certain high school friend you’ve lost touch with or the person you had a relationship with for more than 5 months or that neighborhood kid you used to hang around with?  I have.  On occasion, usually when I’m cleaning up paperwork or going through old photos and memorabilia, I’ll come across something that reminds me of a particular person who I shared something special with years ago.  More often than not, it’s a pleasant recollection; other times, memories are a little painful for me to want to recall.

  I can be a glutton for punishment though.  Maybe it’s just my curiosity that gets the better of me.  My mind starts to wander and that’s it; I’m off to the races, checking every website I can think of trying to find out what’s happened to this person since I last saw them.  Lo and behold, I’ve been able to locate someone recently who played a very prominent role in the story of my life.  I had to answer the million dollar question for myself; do I really want to dig up the past and if so, why?

  I was involved with this person for eleven years.  Nine or ten of those years were difficult.  Although we each played a role in what inevitably transpired, the facts be known, I was the victim.  After we parted, I moved on and so did they.  That was over twenty years ago.  Why would I want to revive unpleasant memories?  Because, I was quietly hoping they were miserable after we parted.  I am being totally blunt.  I’ve read enough psychology books to realize we’re often most vulnerable even a little bitter when something in our lives is not quite right.

 Don’t get me wrong; I love my life.  Even though things can get a little crazy at times, I maintain a positive attitude on a daily basis, by sheer determination.  If I feel a bit of melancholy heading my way, I recognize it for what it is and carry on.  Now for the good part; I didn’t take my curiosity to the extreme.  Although part of me wanted to drive back and forth past this individual’s house until someone came out (then what would I do?), I settled for catching a glimpse of it on the internet and discovered it’s pretty nice; much nicer than I hoped it would be.  Oh well.  Now that I satisfied my inquiring mind, I can continue moving in the direction I was meant to go, onward and upward!  That particular relationship just wasn’t meant to be but I did learn some valuable lessons from it.

  It feels pretty good to let that go; like unpacking a piece of baggage from my past.  The only problem is now that I’ve discovered how relatively simple it is to find someone, I realize almost anyone can find me too!  I’m not overly concerned.  I’ve had the good fortune of meeting some wonderful people throughout my life and with very few exceptions, I would welcome a greeting from almost any of them.  While I may not want to live in my past, I wouldn’t mind visiting it every now and again.  Thankfully, curiosity didn’t kill this kitten!

“I find that a great part of the information I have was acquired by looking up something and finding something else on the way.”  ~Franklin P. Adams