Appreciation Is the Key

The slip of paper in my fortune cookie said, “Appreciate the caring people who surround you.” Little did I know that advice would be brought to my attention four days later.

Waiting my turn at the doctor’s office, I perused the magazines. The headline on Time magazine said, “Hate in America,” and the one on Family Circle said, “Feel the Love.” The choice was easy.

The article, Five Ways to Improve Your Marriage, by Andrea Syrtash caught my eye. The ideas presented could enrich any close relationship, so I took note of them.

The first was to take a positive inventory of what I appreciated about my partner. The second was to mention one of those to him. I thought of the compliments he’d made to me. Had I said enough to show how I appreciated him?

Then the article encouraged me to visualize what a good relationship looked like by writing down adjectives like caring, appreciative, helpful, laughing with me, and humoring my idiosyncrasies.

The fourth recommendation said to touch each other more. Apparently, that releases oxytocin, which is often called the “cuddle hormone.”

The fifth and last suggestion was also important. Get over the idea of perfection. Well, I’m not perfect. Why should I expect my partner to be? Hoping for him to change into someone I would consider perfect is not going to happen, so why even think about it? That frees me to be happy and content with who he is and appreciate his good points.

Here we are celebrating the publication of 

Searching for Love with a glass of wine.

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Scolded for Doing a Good Deed

While taking my daily walk, I noticed several stones in the street. The median was decorated with but grass, feather grass, huge rocks, and crape myrtle trees surrounded by rounded river rocks. It looked like some driver had lost control, drove up on the median and scattered them. I’ve always worried that the huge rocks, two to three feet in diameter, now covered up with feather grass might stop a car or truck with disastrous results. These dozen or more river rocks would cause problems for the 700 or more cars per day moving down the street, many at speeds over the legal thirty miles an hour.

Wanting to be a good citizen, I watched for traffic and hurried over to pick them up and put them back around the crape myrtle. Luckily, rush hour was over, and I quickly put the rocks back, not taking time to figure out exactly where each one came from and finished the task before any more cars came.

Thinking to write about this on my website, I went back for my camera. Again, I watched for traffic. When the road was clear, I set one rock in the road where I’d seen the rocks before and snapped a picture.

I looked up the hill to check for traffic again. Down the hill came a cop on a motor cycle with red and blue lights flashing. I stepped up on the median curb waited until he stopped to explain what I was doing. Finally, he said, “Okay, but you need to get out of the street right away. It’s dangerous.”

I said, “Yes, I will,” and looked to see if any cars were coming. Since the road was clear, I clutched my camera, crossed the street and headed home.

Today, when I took my walk, I checked to see if I’d place the rocks well. They looked okay, so I crossed back over the street and resumed my walk. Curious about the spelling of the tree’s name, I looked it up on Google. “The scientific name is lagerstroemia crape myrtle. The traditional Southern spelling is “Crepe Myrtle” (because the delicate flowers resemble crepe paper).”

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Serving in the Rain

Today I volunteered handing out food at Tarrant Area Food Bank’s mobile pantry. We were glad it was cloudy, so no one had to assemble and put up the canopy to shade people from the Texas sun. People came by with shopping bags and large boxes in shopping carts, which we filled with vegetables and other food.

After a while, a few drops started falling. Okay, I can handle that, so I kept on handing out six ears of corn and three huge zuchini. People held out shopping bags to fill.

Some zucchini were ten inches long and three inches in diameter. I explained you could slice it and boil it or fry it with onions or bacon. The zucchini that were spoiled will go to a garden for compost. I brought one of them home. I can slice off the bad part and fry it. I think I’ll try bacon with it.

Then the drops came faster. I’d left my hat inside because the wind kept blowing it off. Well, I’m not made of sugar, so I won’t melt. The people kept coming. If they needed food and were willing to brave the rain, I was going to keep working. Here is a picture of the canopy we use on sunny days.

Finally, at ten minutes to eleven, the rain stopped, and even though eleven was closing time, there was a whole lot of people in line, so I handed out more food. By this time we were giving out twelve ears of corn.

At a few minutes after eleven, after the last person came through the line, I sank into a chair to catch my breath. I’d worked hard, but it was worth it to see all those smiles and hear all the thank yous.

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Making the best of Diet Time

My husband won’t do any other diet except the Atkin’s Diet, but I have modified it a little. I do roll chicken in seasoned breadcrumbs, but since I don’t dip the chicken in egg, that doesn’t give it a heavy coating. I fry four pieces of chicken in only enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan, then tip the pan of hot fat to brown the sides of the pieces of chicken. When all sides are browned, I cover the pan  and cook until the chicken is tender. I serve two pieces and save the other pieces for dinner the next night.

So many good-sounding recipes call for pasta, but I use a pound of ground beef, an onion, chopped, two cans of tomato soup (undiluted), and a frozen package of mixed vegetables, which I cook in the microwave before adding to the browned meat and onion. You probably could substitute cream of mushroom soup for the tomato. I’ll have to try that next, but I just bought ten pounds of chicken quarters, so I have to cook some and cut up the rest for freezing. It’s handy to freeze enough for two meals in one package. That way, I can cook four pieces and serve the rest the next day.

My husband has a sweet tooth and always expects dessert, so I cut up 8 strawberries and add 1 tablespoon sugar and two Sweet ‘n Lows. He’ll eat that with a little Cool Whip. I do the same with blueberries and blackberries.  Or we’ll split a raw orange. These fruits are low carb. See below:

Blackberries – 18, Blueberries – 20, Strawberries –10,  Raspberries – 14,                      Watermelon 1 cup, cut up -11, Orange – 15

Another treat I make is Apple Crisp, but I only cut up two apples. That doesn’t seem like as much work as making a whole panful. Here is the recipe.

Quick Apple Crisp

2 large apples, peeled and cut up                                                                                                          ¼ cup quick oats                                                                                                                                    1 Tbs. brown sugar                                                                                                                                  3 Tbs. Stevia                                                                                                                                           1/2 tsp. cinnamon                                                                                                                          2 Tbs. margarine                                                                                                                                   ¼ cup chopped walnuts or pecans

This makes enough for four small diabetic-legal servings as diabetics are allowed one teaspoon of sugar once in a meal, but it’s also tasty enough for non-diabetics.

Directions

Spread apple pieces in bottom of a 1 quart Corningware dish (six inches square). Mix oats, brown sugar, Stevia, and cinnamon. Cut in margarine with a pastry blender or cut margarine in tiny pieces before adding to dry ingredients.  Add chopped nuts. Mix and spread over apple pieces. Microwave on high for 3-4 minutes. It’s good hot or cold.

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To Swim or Not to Swim

This summer, I was going to go swimming, whether my husband wanted to go or not. Since my town has two pools, and it wasn’t a weekend, I figured it wouldn’t be too crowded. He still said, “Have fun and be back by three-thirty, so I can drink afternoon coffee with my friends at McDonald’s.

Swimsuit, – check, flip-flops, – check, two towels (one to keep car seat dry when I drove back), check, Kindle with books to read, – check, and driver’s license to prove I lived in the town, – check. I was ready.

I parked under the shade of a tree, well the front of the car was shaded, but I later regretted parking so far to walk back.

After shedding my bag and flip-flops by a lounge chair, I walked on very hot cement (It was supposed to reach 106 today and probably did.) and grasped the railing at the side of the pool opposite the diving board. The pool was twelve feet deep everywhere with no steps to walk down. Oh, well. I’ll jump. When I hesitated, the lifeguard looked at me kind of funny, but didn’t say anything. I jumped in and got a noseful of water. I swam to the side and rested until I could breath easily again.

When I began to swim, a lady walked over. “You’re not supposed to swim in this pool. It’s only for divers.” She pointed to the winding five-foot-wide channel full of kids in giant plastic inner tubes, all moving in the same direction.

Ready to swim

Circling channel pool

 

 

 

 

It was only three and a half feet deep. I could swim in that depth. After hurrying across the hot concrete again, I found steps and descended. When there was enough space in front to swim, I started doing the breast-stroke in earnest, but couldn’t go anywhere. Then I realized there was a current, and I was trying to swim in the opposite direction. I turned around and tried again. Periodically, I had to stop swimming so I wouldn’t bump into kids.

I’d swum for awhile when I realized I’d forgotten to put on sunscreen. I ran back across the burning concrete and plopped on the lounge chair. I slathered on sunscreen and ran back over the burning concrete again to the circling channel.

I swam some more and braved the hot concrete to reach the lounge chair. My feet still hurt, but when I stuck out my legs, the metal on the edge of the woven chair burned my legs. I made a quick grab for a towel to put under them. I chatted with the couple sitting next to me, who were there with their grandson. After pulling out my Kindle, I read while I waited to dry off enough to get back in my car.

It was a long trudge back to the car in the hot sun, and my feet still hurt from walking on the hot concrete, but I felt refreshed. Maybe next time I’ll try the city’s other pool. I hope it’s still the standard type it was the last time I was there, because I really want to swim more than I want to float on an inner tube or sit in the sun.

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Making Ice Cream

I had almost as much fun as the kids I helped tutor at Hurst Village Library, a tutoring program sponsored by Mission Central. We made ice cream. Each kid held up a pint Ziploc bag for us to pour in the ingredients: 1 cup half & half, 2 Tablespoons sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Then they sealed the bag and put it into a quart-size bag with 1/2 cup rock salt and half full of ice, then sealed the bigger bag. For five to ten minutes they shook the bag vigorously. The director, Lola Nelson-Spay, played music for them to dance to. One kid got so carried away, he handed his bag to a volunteer to shake while he danced with arms and legs gyrating in the air. Then the director asked if I wanted to make some, and of course, I did. It tasted delicious.

 

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SHAKESPEARE IN THE PARK AND A RECIPE

Shakespeare in the Park is one of my favorite things to do in June and July. My husband and I decided to see The Comedy of Errors about separated twin boys and the confusion they caused. I baked my favorite Mint-Frosted Brownie recipe and fried some chicken. Wary of current construction, we started off early, bought some potato salad at Albertsons grocery store, and drove from Hurst to the other side of Dallas to the outdoor theater in Tenison Park.

Everything went fine, we got there early, and they let us in even though we were not subscribed members. We’d brought a ten-dollar donation for each of us but were lucky to get a senior citizen discount for seven instead. We enjoyed our fried chicken and potato salad. I was eating my second scrumptious brownie when they announced the play was Taming of a Shrew, which has been adapted into a movie called Kiss Me, Kate. We’d already seen the play, but we’d driven all the way here and didn’t want to skip a show, so we stayed.

We watched Kate stomp and beg when her new husband took away her food, insisting it wasn’t good enough for her to eat. She adored the new dress her husband had made for her, but he refused to give it to her, saying it wasn’t good enough for her.

When they argued whether it was the sun or the moon that was shining, she finally decided to agree to call it whatever he said it was.

Then he boasted to his friends that his wife would do anything he asked. Each called his wife, but all were ignored except Kate’s husband, Petruchio. When he called, she came right away, so he smiled and said, “Kiss, me, Kate,” which she did.

Now our plan is to see The Comedy of Errors, on Tuesday night, so even though we’re starting a diet this week, I’ll cook fried chicken and make Mint-frosted Brownies again.

I took a picture of the set but wasn’t allowed to take photos of the players in action—Equity Rules, they told me.

 

 

For fried chicken, I used the following recipe.

1/3 cup Unseasoned Breadcrumbs
1 tsp. Lowry’s Seasoned Salt
1/2 tsp. Pepper
3 Tbs. Grated Parmesan Cheese
Canola Oil, enough to cover bottom of pan
4-6 pieces of chicken legs and thighs

Directions

Mix first four crumb ingredients. Coat chicken in crumbs, brown on both sides in heated oil. Reduce heat, cover, and cook until done, about ten minutes. If one side gets too brown. Turn it over. I use a deep pan, which doesn’t leave much splatter.

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