Tuesday, October 28, 2008

First Snow - Time to Hibernate

Yeah, I saw my first sprinkles of snow today. I am not ready for this.

At work, the heating system broke on our floor. As someone who is always hot, it was weird to be cold. Bone-chilling cold. I spent the day daydreaming about going home and eating pasta with our leftover sauce with sausage and meatballs in it. I also dreamed about coming home and putting on my giant sweatpants and a fleece top. And it felt so good when I finally got home and could do that! And then after dinner, I made myself hot chocolate (with stale marshmallows from last year, but that's ok - they were good!).

On my way home from work, I turned on my phone and saw that my trainer had left me a voice mail message - if I wanted to meet her up at the gym today, she'd be glad to meet me. I deleted the message and kept on driving.

I think we are all bears at heart. When that cold weather hits, we want hot comfort food. To hell with lean chicken and fish and veggies. We need sustenance - good sauces - heavy food - to feel good. But unlike those bears, we can't go to sleep for the winter. When that alarm goes off, we must get up. And it is getting tougher to do.

My friend Beth moved to Florida a few years ago. She loves it. I don't think I would love the constant heat. I do love the change in seasons. I just don't like the season we're just entering into. She and her husband came up to Cleveland last week so that she could have heart surgery done at the Cleveland Clinic. I imagine this weather is really tough on them and they will really look forward to returning south.

We signed up with yet another snow plow company this year. The last few years, three of us neighbors got together to get the same snow plow operation, thinking we can't get screwed if there's three of us in a row. Wrong. For the last 2 years, when we had really major snowfall, our plow guys never showed up. Last year, I looked outside and saw two police cruisers outside our next door neighbor's house. He's a doctor and needs to get in and out of his drive, and with no snow plow guy, he couldn't do that. So he started to shovel himself. Well, he's a heart patient and should not be shoveling. So his wife called the police! (People call the police for the most amazing things - a few years ago, a policeman came to our door and told us he was embarrassed to be coming for this reason, but a guy who walks around the block every day complained that some of us have branches that hang over the sidewalk, so this poor policeman had to go door-to-door and ask all of us offenders to please trim our branches). Anyway, the police came out and were actually shoveling the drive next door.

I will try to think positive about this weather - I'm gonna try some new soup recipes. And pies. And crock pot recipes. And I'll go to bed earlier cause bed's the warmest place. And I"ll bond with my cats as they join me in bed.

OK, I am almost ready.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Crockpot Pasta Sauce with Meatballs and Sausage

Crockpot weather has arrived. I assembled most of this before 7:00 AM and left a note for hubby David to add the meatballs and sausage at noon. I also put a frozen Rhodes loaf in a bread pan to thaw and rise. All day long I couldn't wait to get home and eat!

Olive-oil flavored cooking spray
28 oz can crushed tomatoes, undrained
28 oz can tomato sauce flavored with italian seasonings
6 oz can tomato paste
1 heaping T dried basil
crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
1 bay leaf
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced
8 oz button mushrooms, thinly sliced
16 oz pkg frozen fully cooked meatballs, such as Trader Joe's flame broiled (turkey or beef)
12 oz pkg fully cooked sausage, such as Trader Joe's sweet Italian style chicken sausage, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
salt and pepper to taste
1 lb any pasta, cooked
freshly grated parmesan or romano cheese (optional)

Lightly coat insert of crockpot with cooking spray. Add all entree ingredients except pasta and cheese. Stir gently. Cover crockpot and set on lowest temperature for 6 hours. Ladle sauce over pasta and sprinkle with cheese.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Unhappy Waitress

Friday night, hubby and I went to meet our friend Kenny at a neighborhood Italian restaurant. We discovered this place last year, and we really like it. It's very small, the prices are reasonable, and the food is very good. And it is never crowded.

Well we walked in Friday night and almost every table was taken. This was unusual. We sat down at a table to wait for Kenny and gradually the place started to empty out. Kenny arrived, and there were only two tables of people, including ours.

The owner sits up front at the cash register, taking carry-out orders and taking money.

So there we were, relaxing, waiting for our food, when the waitress, a woman in her 50s I'd guess, comes walking out of the kitchen, very purposefully and angry, heading toward the owner. He was on the phone at the time, and we heard him change the estimate of how long the order would take. He said "oh, I guess we are a little backed up in the kitchen - it should be about 40 minutes." And then we saw the waitress head back to the kitchen, saying "God damn it!" VERY loudly. The owner got off the phone and headed toward the kitchen, just as the waitress headed out of the kitchen. You could tell from her face that she was having a melt down. "LET THEM GET THEIR OWN FOOD!" she told the owner, and she sat down in one of the booths, and he responded "you've been serving for a long time - GROW UP."

Now keep in mind, this is a tiny restaurant, so this wasn't a quiet confrontation behind the scenes - it was right in the middle of the restaurant. And hubby said "I think maybe we won't be coming here anymore" and Kenny said "no, this is great - it's like a Seinfeld episdoe." And I asked "so are we supposed to go to the kitchen to get our food?" And so we sat, not having any idea what was gonna happen next. Kenny had been trying to get the waitress' attention for a glass of water but decided that was no longer a good idea.

Our food did arrive. The waitress calmed down. And it gave us a good story to tell.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Perfect Saturday

Today was a perfect Saturday.

I LOVE weekends, way too much. I love not being chained to a desk for 7.5 hours. I love being able to wake up on my own, without that annoying alarm clock going off at 6:00 AM.

Today I woke up early for me on a Saturday - at 7:30. I came down, fed the pets, made coffee and toasted a bagel, then sat down to read my emails, in a leisurely fashion. I even read the New York Times, which is emailed to me every day and I read it about once a week.

I decided to tackle a project I've been putting off - bathing Pepper the Dog. Pepper has very thick fur and usually loves to get in the tub but today for some reason, she was reluctant. I bathed her, brought her in our room to dry her, comb her and cut her hair. After 20 minutes of sitting on the floor with her, I stood up and could hardly move and I was reminded how old I am. Sitting on the floor, or maybe I should say getting up off the floor, is not an easy task.

Then I came down, had more coffee, read the paper, did laundry, and just relaxed. And for once, I had energy, so I tackled a job that is rarely tackled in this house - vacuuming under the couch cushions. I don't know how we turned into such a family of slobs, but we are a family of slobs.

Then I read the garage sale ads in the Sun Press. One caught my eye. First, it was today only, until 5:00, and it was already after 2:00. Second of all, it just sounded like my kind of sale. This was actually an estate sale and the owner made "award winning honey" and was a photographer, so there would be honey and photos to peruse. I called Sharon, who is on the same wavelength as me. I said what do you think? And she said I'll go! So I picked her up and off we went.

We weren't sure where the street was, but the ad said it ran off a major street, so we figured we'd find it. We knew we were lost when we saw the sign saying "Leaving Richmond Hts" and the sale was in Richmond Hts. But we did see a "Richmond Hts Farmers Market" and decided to take a look. It was a little bizarre. It didn't seem like a farmer's market - more like a mini grocery that you usually find with gas stations. We started to wander, and they had a whole section of foreign foods. We didn't even know what language was printed on the merchandise. Then we discovered a bakery with fresh strudel. Mmmm. I had to buy some apple strudel. And an eggplant, macadamia nuts and chocolate drizzled Humphreys popcorn.

Before we went into the farmers market, Sharon called her house to have them look up the street we were looking for. We waited and waited, as we sat outside the market waiting to go in. Suddenly I remembered I had a street map in my car. So we found the street we were looking for and realized there was a misprint in the paper. We headed back to the house sale. Arrived to find a very old house. Walked in, and it was like walking back in time 100 years. It even had that old smell - not unpleasant, but homey - cottagey. Sharon immediately found some Warner Brothers drinking glasses she liked. There was a lot of colored glass. I love colored glass. Then we walked into the room with the photos, and they were really amazing photos. Some had prices of $75 on the back. Sharon said they can't be selling them for that. So I asked, and was told the photos were $1 a piece. One dollar! Then I had to carefully look through each one again, to find the perfect ones. There was also a room with old frames for a buck. Man, this was my kind of sale.

I picked out my photos and frames, grabbed a jar of dark natural honey, and happily walked out with $9 worth of purchases. It wasn't only goods I was getting, it was pure entertainment.

Then a quick stop at the grocery store to pick up stuff for dinner, then home. I'm cooking an eggplant parmesan which I will bring over to Sharon's tonight.

I wish every day could be Saturday.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Memories of 4th Grade

Today I saw a dr friend of mine. He was in my 4th grade class. He said hey, you want to run through the numbers? (to be explained in a minute). And that got me thinking about the 4th grade year.

I loved 4th grade. In every grade, there is a teacher that everyone wants, and we had him. He did some odd stuff that none of us thought about at the time, but we later recalled these odd things.

Mr R was the cool teacher to have. He did fun stuff, like every Wednesday he would take 4 kids to Manners (now known as Bob's Big Boy, although that one he took us to is no longer there). After lunch we would go to Hazel's, for penny candy. We so looked forward to these outings.

He made class interesting and fun. We were all assigned a number, based on how we stood alphabetically in the class. When I get together with my peers at reunions (or even, like today, just seeing the dr), those of us from this 4th grade class will stand together and go through each number. For some reason, over 40 years later, we still remember those numbers.

And the funny incidents will stick with us too. Mr R was also a very talented artist. One day, he made an art palette for the retiring art teacher. It was his intent to have the staff at the school sign their good luck wishes on the palette. He informed us that he was having the staff sign it, and we were not to touch it.. Well, G came back to school late from lunch that day and missed the announcement that we were not to touch his palette. So he walked in, spotted the palette with other signatures on it, and added his own signature to it (in what one classmate remembers as his "dorky signature"). Mr R was not happy. He was actually kind of irate. Here he had this beautiful palette, signed by all the teachers. And G. As young students, we all found the incident to be quite amusing, and we talk about it to this day.

G happened to be my boyfriend that year. He was always trying to pick up my dress. Yeah, we wore dresses in those days. In retaliation for him reaching for my dress, I threatened to pull his pants down. That brought us both a visit to the asst principal, Mrs. W. Mrs. W always referred to herself as Mrs. W. The first several times I was in classrooms where she spoke of herself in the third person, I wondered who was this Mrs. W. One day I asked another student "who is Mrs W?" and she told me that's her. And I realized the woman seemed to be incapable of using the word "I." Anyway, this incident with me and G ended up with us being sent to Mrs W's office. She asked for my version of events and I told her. She told me I must never threaten to pull a boy's pants down (like I really could have done that). She acted like the whole thing was my fault.

Mr R also worked as a DJ and you were cool if you hired him to DJ at your party. He was just the fun guy everyone wanted to have around.

Now for the weird stuff. When we did something bad, Mr R would send us to a tiny closet in the cloakroom, where we had to stay until he released us. OK, that was a little weird, but then Mr R did something weirder. He would hug us until our backs creaked. I know he did it to the girls; I'm not sure if he did it to the boys. We all thought it was fun at the time. Then we grew up and thought my God, that was kind of uh - inappropriate??! In today's world, he would have been outta there. At the time, tho, he was just the fun teacher that everyone wanted.

A few years ago, a classmate hosted a reunion of the elementary school. There was a good turnout, and Mr R's widow was there. After she left, many of the conversations focused on Mr R and what a weird guy he was. It's kind of discomforting to find out that the guy you thought was everything was - well - weird, to put it mildly.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Book Club That Doesn't Really Discuss Books

A few years ago, my friend Sharon decided we should start a book club. After a few member tiffs that resulted in some drop-outs, we now have a regular group of 6. We meet at a restaurant, sometimes related to the theme of the book. For example, this month we read Interpreter of Maladies, which I have to say is one of the best books I've ever read. It's a collection of short stories written by an Indian woman. Well, I think it's a woman. With those Indian names, you can't tell. But anyway, we will meet at an Indian restaurant to "discuss" the book.

The reason for the quotes around "discuss" is that our book club doesn't discuss books. At one of the first meetings we had, someone had picked a book that had a list of questions at the back of the book conducive to getting members to discuss books. We tried it, but it felt awkward. So our discussion is generally limited to "I liked it" or "I didn't like it" and then we go on to discuss what our kids are doing, trips we've taken, foods we've cooked...you name it. Anything other than the book.

Well, I guess there was one exception - and that was Augusten Burroughs' Running With Scissors. That one was worthy of a discussion if only to ask if what he wrote about could really be true - could anyone really have lived that life? And, we took that one a step further by taking a field trip downtown to hear Augusten speak. That was cool. I even went on to read two more of Augusten's (I feel like I'm intimate enough with the man to be on a first name basis) books Dry and Magical Thinking.

At our last meeting, we discussed other books we had read. One lady in the club is so annoying, cause she's read like every book ever published. I love to read, but my reading is limited to bedtime, where I read about 3 pages, and hubby comes in later and removes the book from my hand, carefully marking my place, and turns my lamp off. This lady claims she reads so much cause that's all she does - her house is a mess but her books are read (well my house is a mess too, but my books aren't read!). Sometimes I think our book club members don't even read the books but just join us for dinner cause (1) it's a nice night out, and (2) the chooser of the book went to so much effort to find a date we could all agree on that they felt obliged to come. This kind of bugs me too cause I'm available like every night and everyone else seems to have such busy lives.

There are two cool things about the book club. First, we have an annual party where one member makes the best potato pancakes I've ever eaten, and we have a $10 gift exchange that is really quite fun. The second cool thing about the book club that doesn't really discuss books is that it forces us to read books we never would have looked at. Sometimes a member will announce her pick at the meeting and we inwardly roll our eyes and think oh no, that sounds like a terrible book. But I have never read a book in the book club that I didn't like.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Dumbest Purchase Hubby Ever Made

I was reminded of The Dumbest Purchase Hubby Ever Made tonight at dinner. I prepared dinner and told my son and hubby that it was ready. I was ignored. I sat down alone, with Pepper the dog as my companion. My son was busy on Facebook. Hubby decided he had to go downstairs to the basement to get ice, and he disappeared for 10 minutes. Which leads me to the title of this article.

Last year hubby proudly came home with the dumbest thing I've ever seen. The ice maker in our freezer had broken, and he decided it was too much of a pain to make ice cubes the old fashioned way - by putting water in trays and freezing them. I looked at this giant appliance and said I can't believe you bought that. He was very surprised. He thought I'd be doing somersaults over the thing, saying oh, thank you love, I have been wanting one of these my whole life!

It wasn't bad enough that he bought the thing, but then he felt a need to place it on the counter, where our coffee pot used to reside. Now we are people who can't keep things off of countertops. I analyzed this a few years ago and realized that whenever we don't know what to do with an item, it ends up on our countertop.

This giant appliance that took up such valuable counter space made me crazy. I finally gave him an option - either the ice maker goes, or I go. We compromised. The ice maker went to live in the basement. So every night before dinner, it's a major undertaking for him to take his bag downstairs and fill it with ice.

The ladies at work were very amused when I told them about the ice maker. When I invited them to a party for my son's graduation, they told me they planned to tell hubby that they needed more ice.

Last night I went down the basement to watch Desperate Housewives. I wanted no interruptions. Do you know how loud that
machine is? I had to keep moving the volume up to hear the TV!

Hubby recently told me to leave him out of my blogs. He's not gonna be happy with this post.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Tour of the End-of-Summer Garden

I had a very time loading the pix in this post. I don't get how sometimes I can upload those pictures like a pro, and a minute later, I keep getting "Safari is not responding." How does Safari decide when it will and won't respond? Wouldn't it be cool if we could all that - when the demands at work or home got so great that we could just send a message that we are not responding, and the person who needs something from us would then just kind of shrug and say ok, I'll try again later....

Anyway, I toured my gardens this weekend and the results are posted above.

The top picture is from next-door neighbor Harry's garden. Harry is a sweet retired pediatrician who taught himself how to garden and he grows the most beautiful dahlias, and they last longer than any other flowers in the neighborhood.

The 2nd picture is the only living flower that remains in the flower garden. I had forgotten that I planted these mums, but they are the surviving living flowers that are left. It's nice to know that not everything died.

The 3rd picture is the garden with the dying jack-o-lanterns, aka "Laurel's Garden." My sister Laurel took a garden that was full of 5 feet tall weeds and cleaned it all out as a birthday present a few years ago. A great present. Unfortunately, this garden is all stones, and they go way down deep. So we have learned which plants can survive anything, and those plants include the jack-o-lanterns that you see (quite beautiful in their blooming days) and mint. One planted sprig of mint yielded many huge mint plants.

The remaining pictures are what's left of the veggie garden, which Hubby cleaned out. What remains is what I call "Bing's Kitchen." Bing is our beautiful blonde outdoor cat (the brother of 2 indoor cats). Bing's kitchen consists of a catnip plant and some kind of mint plant that he finds to be even more enticing than the catnip. Lately, when we let Bing out, he heads over to his kitchen and munches on the plants, which for some reason I find amusing. There is one other outdoor cat in our neighborhood - a chunky, all black tailless specimen. Well I found him lying in Bing's Kitchen, right next to the catnip plant. I don't know if he was enjoying the scenery or if he was just plain stoned.

It's funny how the end of summer is such a melancholy time. No other season ending has that feeling. Fall just kind of turns into winter, and no one is sorry to see winter or spring end.

I have no idea why this just popped into my head, but years ago when we were at the cottage, my son was just kind of daydreaming and I asked what he was doing. "Glazing into my birdness" is what he replied. He has always kind of marched to a different drummer, but it was kind of a catchy phrase. So when we're out there on cloud 9 sometimes and someone asks what we're doing, we'll often reply "glazing into my birdness."


This one passed the kid test. He ate it as a late night snack instead of running out for his usual fast food.

2 C cubed, cooked chicken meat (I cheated and got chicken strips at the Giant Eagle salad bar)
1/4 C chopped onion
4 C shredded cheddar cheese
1 C sour cream
8 (8 inch) flour tortillas
1 1/2 C chopped tomatoes
1/2 C sliced black olives (I used chopped)

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease a 9 X 13 inch pan.

In medium bowl, mix the chicken, onion, 1 C cheddar cheese and 3/4 C sour cream. Disperse the mixture evenly among the 8 tortillas. Roll into enchiladas. Arrange in single layer in the prepared baking dish.

In a saucepan over low heat, melt together the remaining cheese and sour cream. Pour over the enchiladas (note, this was not a consistency to pour, so I spooned it over the enchiladas). Top with tomatoes and olives. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Ugly $500 Chair

At my menopause lunch today, I was telling the girls this story and they thought it would be good for the blog.

Hubby owns 3 hair salons. One of the salons is over the basement of a very nice furniture store. Last year, one of our salon employees decided to clean. We don't know quite how this happened, but she started to run the water and forgot to turn it off. The water must've been flowing for a very long time, cause someone from the furniture store called and said their ceiling was leaking from our water flowing. And the water got on some of their furniture. Well, they were able to clean up the tables the water leaked on, but there was an upholstered chair that had water damage, and we would have to pay for it.

Hubby went to check out the chair, and yes, there was water damage, but what was really bad was that it was the ugliest chair he had ever seen. So he called and told me we had to buy, for $350 (the furniture store's cost) the ugliest chair he had ever seen. About a week later we set out in his vehicle, which normally can hold a lot, to go pick up the ugly chair. We got to the furniture store, and they brought up what I agreed was the ugliest chair I had ever seen. And it wouldn't fit in hubby's car. So we said we'd figure something out, and we left. We debated having the store deliver it, but of course there would be a charge, and the only thing worse than buying the ugliest chair on earth is paying a charge to have it delivered!

Well not long after that, someone at the furniture store realized this chair had an ottoman, and there was no way they were going to sell the ottoman without the chair. So they called to inform us that we also had to buy the $150 ottoman. They did agree, however, to have the chair and ottoman delivered at no charge (we think they felt sorry for us).

So the chair and ottoman were delivered, and put promptly in the basement. Hubby had cleaned out the basement a year ago so that my son and his friends would have a place to play video games and hang out. Of course the chair didn't match (this chair matches nothing in the world), but it was fine down there. It's actually a very comfortable (albeit hideous) chair.

Last week I was thumbing through my Beautiful Homes and Gardens magazine, and there, in the "after' picture, to my great shock, was the UGLY CHAIR! So we can now call the ugly chair a designer chair. And, well, it gave us a good story to tell.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

In Search of the Perfect Cabbage Roll

I am in search of the perfect cabbage roll. I may have found it yesterday.

As background, let me say I have made cabbage rolls before, but they lack that certain "ethnic" taste. I can't describe what that taste is, but I know it when I taste it.

Yesterday hubby and I went to the North Union Market at Shaker Square. Along with selling produce and bakery products, they sell ready-to-eat food. One guy was selling cabbage rolls. And they looked like what I was seeking. I bought them and had them for lunch - and they were IT. The wonderful blend of tastes was there, and they cut like butter and melted in my mouth. I just need to figure out what he used.

I googled "ethnic cabbage rolls" yesterday and you would not believe how many nationalities came up. I don't like sauerkraut, so I had to rule those out, but I read about Polish, Croatian...and many more. I printed one recipe for Ukranian cabbage rolls that looked good and realized that this recipe had no meat inside - only a rice and onion mixture. But then one guy wrote in his comment that he made the recipe and added ground pork, and they were delicious.

Later in the day, I went to get my hair cut and I told my stylist about my search for the perfect cabbage roll. She told me she used her mother's recipe and her mother steamed them in a pot instead of baking them. That sounded interesting.

Then I came home and read the Cleveland Jewish News, and it was a serendipity type of moment - there was a recipe for cabbage rolls in that issue. These were also steamed in a pot, and in this recipe, you cut up the extra cabbage and line the pot with it.

So I'm about to go to the grocery store and try this recipe. Next I will try the Ukranian recipe.

I would appreciate input from anyone who has mastered the art of making cabbage rolls.

P.S. I made the Jewish News recipe. I learned that you can cook the rolls by steaming them. But I added too much water. AND I learned that hubby does not like cabbage rolls. This will make it very hard for my quest to find the perfect cabbage roll since I'll be the only one eating them....

Thursday, October 9, 2008


I felt like eating rather than writing! I admit, I stole this from someone at work. You just take mini pretzels, put a chocolate kiss on top (I used dark chocolate), put it in the oven at 175 degrees for about 8 minutes. Remove from oven, and put an m&m on top. You can try variations. Someone tried the chocolate kisses with caramel in them and said they were great. I was tempted to buy the kisses with peanut butter in them but decided to start with the basics. Refrigerate after they come out of the oven so that the chocolate will set.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Weekly Tabloid Roundup

Just got back from the grocery store to buy ingredients for noodle kugel. I made myself lunch - some linguini noodles with leftover chili that hubby made, and he makes the best chili in the world (he won a chili cook-off about 20 years ago). After that filling lunch, I ate a piece of Giant Eagle's freshly baked multi-grain walnut raisin bread. Mmmmm. And I sat down at the computer to read while I enjoyed this wonderful dessert.

Clicked on AOL news, and there's a picture of a skinny Kelly Ripa. Way too skinny. I can't relate, as I am about to consume my second dessert - a "fun size" baby ruth bar (I couldn't resist - they were on display at Giant Eagle). I smile whenever I think of fun size candy, cause as my large son says "why do they call it fun size? Fun size should mean it's a giant candy bar!" And he's absolutely right.

So the Kelly R title brings you to a Weekly Tabloid Roundup. Let's see - Angie is "forced into therapy." Well that makes sense, given the volume of kids she has. "Suri's Lonely Life" is spent with nannies. But you know, she is always smiling in pictures and just seems like a happy kid. "Have They Split" (referring to Angelina and Brad) - they would have to be saints to still want to have anything to do with each other with all those kids running around. "Sarah Palin's Other Man Revealed." Makes you wonder. I mean, her hubby seems like a nice guy, but he just seems out of place in their new world of campaigning.

Just came back with another fun size baby ruth. I'm trying to have some fun here, not that reading this stuff isn't fun.

"How I Stay Thin" about Kim Kardashian. Did you ever notice that it's very hard to look thin when you have big boobs? And finally, "I'll Destroy You" about Oprah and Dr. Phil. I think given a choice between the two, I'd side with Oprah on whatever it is they're fighting about.

I bought a National Enquirer once in my life, cause we were on vacation. The other ones I've read (which I have to admit, I greatly enjoy) I inherited from my friend Sharon, who inherited them from her hubby's grandma, and they are about 3 years old by the time we get them, but that's ok.

OK, it's Saturday, which means laundry, water plants, clean up the house, etc. It's a perfect crisp day, the sun is shining, and now I gotta go try to work off these fun size baby ruths.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


We just had a 50th birthday party for a co-worker this week. She used to work at fairs, so we had a fair theme. Sausage and meatball sandwiches, elephant ears, cotton candy, fries....we are REALLY good at this kind of stuff at work.

Well this morning I came in and moved my calendar page to October and realized HEY - this is it - one year since my last menstrual period! I am OFFICIALLY IN MENOPAUSE! So I sent an email to my co-workers suggesting that they throw a party in my honor to honor this sacred time in my life! And they took me seriously and are now planning my party!

Since I pride myself on being a good investigator, I googled "symptoms of menopause" to see just how far I have come. I found a website that lists 35 symptoms of menopause. I shouldn't have googled this. But I found that I can blame a lot on menopause, and for this I am somewhat grateful...

I knew about the old hot flashes. A sympathetic co-worker gave me a small battery operated fan last year. The battery died within 2 weeks. I was overjoyed to find a 6 inch electric fan that fits perfectly on my desk - I got it at Marcs for $6. This is honestly the best purchase I have EVER made.

I can now blame these disturbing feelings on menopause: irritability, mood swings, trouble sleeping, "crashing fatigue", anxiety, and feelings of doom. And I thought I was losing my mind.

I knew about the memory lapses. I no longer use names or words to describe things. Instead, I just describe them because the words escape me. So instead of stove, I'll say "the thing you cook food in." It takes me much longer to get my point across. And it has happened more than once that I'll be sitting across from a friend having a nice lunch, and as she's talking, I'm not listening, cause I'm frantically thinking "what's your name again?"

And the physical symptoms - yeah, I recognized most. Hair loss, irregular heart beat, trouble sleeping, gastrointestinal distress, aching joints, and weight gain.

I had recently diagnosed myself as having attention deficit disorder, but now I see that listed as a symptom. I have to take continuing education classes, and while co-workers are so happy to find an 8 hour class so they can get it over with sooner, I'm declining their invitation to attend, saying sorry, 2 hours is my limit. And 2 hours is pushing it.

I think there are 5 symptoms that I have not experienced. Some are too personal for me to include on a blog, but the non-personal ones include gum problems, burning tongue and tinnitis. By this time next year, I'll probably have added them to my list.

So October 13th is the tentative date of my party. I'll let ya'll know how it goes.

(P.S. We had our party today. Lori made pasta with chicken and broccoli, Marsha made a salad, and Donna brought a wonderful Mama Jo's strawberry pie with cream cheese. A nice break for someone who eats lunch at her desk everyday.0



1 16 oz pkg spaghetti
2 C shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
3/4 C grated parmesan cheese
1/2 C grated romano cheese
3 eggs, beaten
1 T olive or veg oil
2 t garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
1 28 oz jar spaghetti sauce

Cook spaghetti per package instructions. Drain. Add 1 C mozzarella cheese, parmesan and romano cheese, eggs, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Press into a greased 13 X 9 inch baking dish. Top with spaghetti sauce. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella cheese and bake 10 minutes longer or until heated through and cheese is melted.