Tales From A Hungry Life

April 23, 2020

Notes From The Pandemic

Maria Schulz

fashion woman notebook pen

Are You Taking Notes Too? (Photo by Negative Space on Pexels.com)

March 4, 2020

The talk here at the office is that we may be allowed to work from home in the next week or so. There are a bunch of cases of the coronavirus in NYC and we will have to work from home in order to stay safe.

I think I’ll like working from home.

March 12, 2020

Today, I started working from home. I’m set up in the kitchen. I can look out the window here (there is no window by my desk at work) and see the birds and the trees. There is so much beauty to enjoy! I’m happy to be home and safe.

They say we will be back in the office on Monday after the offices are cleaned.

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So Much Beauty To See!

March 13, 2020

Just checked email…seems we are going to be working from home for at least the next few weeks. What a relief.

Cases of COVID are exploding now and many people are dying. New York is in for a long, tough siege.

Meanwhile, Spring is just beginning. I love watching the birds and squirrels in the backyard. It’s great having a window to look out of all day long. I feel very blessed.

March 19, 2020

Working from home is so much more productive! I get a lot done and love sitting at my kitchen table. Husband and daughters are also working from home and taking online classes. It’s so great to be together every day!

I’m also reading a lot in my spare time. I’m reading classics and suspense books at a furious clip! Also writing more.

Great Stories

Yes, I still have my copy!

March 25, 2020

Husband has been complaining that his hair is getting too long. Wants one of the girls or me to cut his hair. I don’t know what I’m doing but how hard could it be? There’s no sense waiting for the barber when one of us can cut his hair for him.

shallow focus photo of barber s pole

(Photo by Caleb Oquendo on Pexels.com)

March 29, 2020

Hubby couldn’t take it anymore. Took out the razor and scissors and asked me to cut his hair. I would’ve asked the girls but they were smart and hid in their rooms. I’m trying to talk myself into it. What’s the worst that can happen? I’ll do it and I can add it to the list of things I now know how to do.

March 30, 2020

Well, that was a disaster. Hubby is happy with his hair cut, but I guess it’s good he can’t see the back of his head because I gave him two bald spots. I just hope he doesn’t use the mirror in the bathroom to check it. The girls keep laughing whenever he walks by. This morning, I woke up in a panic. WHAT IF IT DOESN’T GROW BACK????

person using hair razor on man s hair

Not Actually My Husband And Therefore, Not My Fault. (Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com)

April 1, 2020

Husband got curious and used the mirror in the bathroom to look at the back of his head. He knows about the bald spots. He’s being a very good sport about it, but I suspect he is not happy. He has asked me to let him cut my hair. Um…no thank you.

April 4, 2020

Almost out of food. Older daughter has begun going to the supermarket and getting supplies. Alternately uses online shopping to get groceries. Younger daughter takes dog out for play time and long walks. Hubby and I are working hard. Having everyone home has really been a blessing.

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Zucchini Noodles and Meatballs

Our cooking has become more creative as we face meat shortages and can’t find certain produce items. I think of my mom a lot because she was a master at making food stretch. She had nine people to worry about – I only have 4!

April 12, 2020

Happy Easter! Can’t do a big family get together, so we ironed the tablecloth and put out the good dishes for ourselves. We were able to find a ham, so we cooked that along with potatoes and vegetables. I even baked a cake and we decorated it.

We were done eating in 20 minutes. It’s just not the same.

Chocolate Cake.JPG

We Did Enjoy The Cake Though

April 15, 2020

My hair is a disaster. Husband has offered to dye it for me, but I fear he’ll make me look like Ozzie Osbourne by the time we’re finished. (True love or revenge? Not sure).

I did find a box of hair dye in my usual color in the bathroom. I think I’ll do it while he naps. Gonna go for it!

shallow focus photography of boy

Not me. (Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Pexels.com)

April 16, 2020

Luckily, the dye wasn’t so old that it made my hair fall out or turn pitch black. It’s a nice medium brown color so I don’t look like Dumbledore any more. Husband says that what I need now is a hair cut. He claims to have watched a video on how to cut a woman’s hair and once again offered to cut mine. Still, NO.

Older daughter went outside to enjoy this beautiful sunny day and she saw a hawk swoop down and pluck a baby squirrel from a tree. MOTHER NATURE IS A CRUEL BITCH. Nature is so overrated!

black hawk soaring

A Warning To Squirrels Everywhere. (Photo by Tim Mossholder on Pexels.com)

April 21, 2020

Today we had black skies AND HAIL! The winds were shrieking, the thunder was booming, and great flashes of lightning zigzagged across the sky.

WHAT’S NEXT? LOCUSTS???

Work has been crazy and stressful. I miss my coworkers!

Here at home, we are together EVERY SINGLE DAY. It’s impossible to have five minutes alone!

closeup photography of green grasshopper

Hello, Locusts! (Photo by Egor Kamelev on Pexels.com)

I don’t want to cook or bake again. Not today, maybe not ever.

Older daughter is still traumatized about the hawk incident.

Younger daughter feels traumatized by being stuck with us.

Hubby should have been traumatized by my hair styling skills, but his hair has grown back and he says it’s time for another hair cut.

WHY DOES HIS HAIR GROW BACK SO FAST?

Oh well, I’ve got some extra time on my hands. What could possibly go wrong?

Recipe:

The Best Bolognese Sauce

The Best Bolognese Sauce.jpeg

So Easy and Delicious!

We needed to make a pound of ground beef stretch to feed the four of us and we didn’t want burgers, so we made this Bolognese sauce and put it over spaghetti. It was delicious! Easy to make, and the whole house smelled great. Try it!

So, Hungry Lifers, what “notes” from the pandemic would you send? What funny or crazy things have happened to you in the pandemic era? Please leave a comment below and let us all know. Thanks! Stay well and be safe.

April 15, 2020

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

Maria Schulz

As a native New Yorker, sarcasm and pessimism come as naturally to me as breathing. Now, as a native New Yorker in the midst of a pandemic, it’s even harder to be optimistic some days. I worry about my family and friends, and grieve for those lost to the virus.

It’s not always easy to stay positive in the current climate, and with a nod to Eric Idle’s song in Monty Python’s “The Life of Brian,” I set out on a quest for some good news and the bright side of the current situation.

dawn sunset beach woman

Find the beauty all around us. (Photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels.com)

Along the way,  I read an article in The Washington Post about “Positive Things”. It inspired me to search for – and actually see – the beauty that still exists in the world around us. Here are some things I’ve noticed and some things I’ve tried.

Connecting With People Is Still Possible

In the age of social distancing, being friendly is more of a challenge, but not impossible. I smile and wave (from a socially distant place) to my neighbors, yell across the street to others about how big their kids are getting, thank my mail man from the window and wave/get a big wave back from the sanitation workers while I walk my dog. A big smile and a friendly wave does the heart good. Try it!

Good Dog

Dog Therapy with my good dog.

Playing Isn’t Just For Kids

Pre-pandemic, I often felt sorry for my young dog because I thought she might like to be with a family that had small kids who would play with her. But now that I’m around with time to spare, I am running and playing like a kid again. I suggest Dog Therapy as the perfect remedy for worried adults everywhere. Cat Therapy works too, if the cat allows it.

Productivity Is Overrated

Move over, Marie Kondo. This Maria is here to tell you that cleaning out closets and throwing away things is a drag. If that actually brings you joy, then by all means, go to it. But for me, I get no joy whatsoever in watching the sun rise and set while I clean out a drawer. I’d rather be outside playing with the dog or looking at photos of a pink Super Moon. For those of us who are productivity-challenged in that area of life, don’t worry. You’re not a monster. Now go do something that makes you happy.

Treat Yourself

Use that bath bomb you got for Christmas, bake cookies, or read a classic book. Use your kids’ arts and crafts to paint a mug or make pipe cleaner flowers. Drive to the beach and take photos of a sunrise. Figure out how to prank your brother from afar. Do whatever your creativity tells you is rewarding and fun, and don’t let your inner critic keep you from doing it. Honestly, your inner critic is a jerk. Tell him/her to shut up!

Apple blossoms

Call Someone You Love

Or FaceTime them if you prefer. I used to call my father, brothers, or friends when I was commuting to or from work. But since I’m working from home, I carve out time from lunch or before/after work and I call and chat. We laugh, share stories, and are reenergized. Give it a try.

Write a Letter to Someone Special

One of my oldest friends recently sent me a long letter and I was delighted! It’s so much fun to get a letter in the mail that doesn’t have PAYMENT DUE stamped on it. I could hear her voice in my head as I read each page. I’m busy writing her back, and I hope she enjoys my letter half as much as I enjoyed hers. Maybe surprise an old friend with a letter and make their day.

Take a Letter, Maria

Enjoy Dinner With Your Family

We are all together again, and we actually have nowhere to go afterwards. The result is that we spend less time rushing through dinner and cleaning up, and more time talking to each other and eating a leisurely meal. Win/win.

Keep Smiling MM quoteJPG

Notice the Beauty All Around You

One of the things I’m enjoying most is watching the flowers and trees bloom. It’s a hopeful sign and one that I’ve often missed in the past. The birds are singing, the squirrels are running everywhere, and the bunnies are back. It makes me want to stop and take photos each time I’m out walking the dog.

 

Sicilian Roasted Chicken

Recipe:

Sicilian Roasted Chicken

This is a really delicious chicken dish.  My family loves it, and I love it because it’s so easy. The only things I added were Italian seasoning and Onion powder to the spice mix, and after it baked for about 20 minutes and the skin started to get crispy, I took the pan out and added chicken broth so the chicken didn’t dry out. I popped it back into the oven to cook for another 40 minutes. So good!

Cherry blossoms

So, Hungry Lifers, what have you done lately to stay positive? Please leave a comment below and let us all know. Thanks!

April 8, 2020

10 Entertaining Things

Maria Schulz

sakura tree

Good morning everyone!

I promised in last week’s blog post that I would try to think more about what has surprised me, delighted me, and made me happy during this dark and difficult time.

Despite grim statistics everyday, mounting death tolls, and fear lurking in every visit to the grocery store, there have been some good things too.

Yes, that’s my sunny optimistic streak talking. I’ve told my frightened inner child to shut up for a few minutes.

10 Things That Keep Me Entertained

The Best Brownies

Oreo Stuffed Brownies

  1. I am baking again. Did you know that many psychologists say that you can reduce anxiety and depression by baking? Read all about it here. I didn’t realize that when I was a kid, but back then, I baked all the time. I baked coffee cake for my grandmother and uncles, cookies for my brothers, and pretzels for my father and mother. Brownies were a big hit with my family then, and not surprisingly, with my family now. A fudgy square of goodness helps the day seem a little less scary.
  2. I am watching what I eat. Yes, literally. I was doing really well before this all started, and now that I’m home, I find myself tempted daily by the old siren song of Doritos, chocolate chip cookies, and yes, brownies. So what do I do? I count calories and let myself have a treat a couple of times a week. Otherwise, when I emerge from sheltering in place, I will look like a bear emerging from my den.
    People-cheering

    It’s As If We’re All Together…6 Feet Apart

  3. I turn to technology for social interaction. FaceTime puts me in touch with my Dad, brothers, sisters-in-law, nieces, nephews, and friends. It lets me share a drink with a friend I usually go out to dinner with, or lets my daughters and me play Head Bands with my bestie and her daughter. We laugh a lot and feel connected. I’m not sure we would’ve done that on a normal day, but I’m glad we did it now.
  4. My husband and I take turns cooking. There is no stressed out WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO FOR DINNER conversation, and there is no running around trying to turn hay into gold. If we don’t have EXACTLY what the recipe calls for, we improvise. Yesterday, my husband made a rice bowl with black beans, peas, basmati rice, and cut up hot dogs caramelized in barbecue sauce. We hit it with some lime juice and voila! We had a really weird looking but somehow delicious, cheap dinner. Now that was surprising.
    yoga_collage

    Can you really bend like that?

  5. Yoga is fun!I was always resistant to yoga because when I tried to do it in the past, I thought it was boring. So, I turned to my niece (a yoga instructor) for some beginner’s tips and she sent me some Youtube links to an instructor who specializes in making yoga fun and doable. And guess what? It was fun and I did it! In fact, I’ll come back for more!
  6. Walking and Playing With The Dog Is Good For Her…and Us. Before all of this, I would be stressed and rush my dog through our morning walks. But now, I get up early, run out the door, and really enjoy playing with her. Plus, later in the day, my husband and girls take turns running and playing with her, and at night, my husband and I take her out together. We’re enjoying all of the exercise….but, sometimes, I wonder if my dog is exhausted and wondering when we’ll all go back to work again.
    Happy Puppy

    Be the person your dog thinks you are

  7. Everything is blooming. When I’m rushing back and forth to work, sometimes I have to nudge myself to recognize all the signs of spring. But now that my pace has slowed down and I’m stuck mostly indoors, I can see what I might have otherwise missed. Despite everything, the trees are blossoming and the flowers are blooming. This has filled me with hope and inspired me to dream of better days ahead.
  8. My Writing Muse Is No Longer MIA. Yes, my desire to finish all of those books I started and catch up with the characters I’ve left in the lurch is strong again. I finally have the energy and desire to get back to it.
    writer's block

    Where did you go?

  9. I Appreciate My Husband and Daughters.Yes, we also drive each other crazy. But at a time like this, you really get to appreciate your family member’s strengths. It’s good to have time to spend together…even if we don’t always realize it.
  10. Laughter Gets Me Through. I had to stop watching the news because it’s so upsetting. Instead, my family and I watch comedians like Brian Regan, John Mullaney, and Tig Notaro. Or, we watch There’s Something About Mary, The Wedding Crashers, or Support Your Local Sheriff (and when we want drama, it’s The Great Escape every time). You didn’t think I’d get through an entire post without mentioning James Garner, did you?)
    The Scrounger

    Great movie

Here are some great stress-baking (or anytime baking) recipes for you to enjoy.

The Best Brownies!

Salted Pretzel Brownies!

Oreo Stuffed Brownies

So, Hungry Lifers…how are you keeping yourself busy and finding hope during these unprecedented times? Please leave a comment below and let us all know. Thanks!

October 21, 2016

The Best and Worst Halloween Candy

By Maria Schulz

I ventured outside my cubicle the other day and saw that my old nemesis had returned to haunt me. No, I’m not talking about one of my coworkers. I’m talking about this guy.

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Come to me…

Do you remember him? I’ve written about him before because someone in my office takes him out every year about this time and fills him with things I can’t resist: Snickers, Almond Joy, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Three Musketeers, and 100 Grand Bars.

betty-white-snickers-ad

I can’t resist either

I was hoping to research all that candy and get permission to indulge my raging sweet tooth, but instead I found this article that ranks the 52 Best and Worst Halloween Candy.

almond joy

When you feel like a nut.

When I was little, I didn’t worry about eating candy. I simply spent weeks dreaming about getting as much as humanly possible. First. I would spend weeks thinking about what costume I’d wear, assembling the ensemble, and getting every detail just right. Whether I was Snow White (hot plastic mask and all) or Raggedy Ann with red yarn hair, my costume had to be thought out and ready for my big day.

Well, that was the way until I was about 9 and I decided that being a gypsy or bum was the easiest and fastest way to get out the door and begin my quest for more candy than one human could carry in a brown paper bag.

VALUE VILLAGE - Pop Culture Inspires Halloween Trends

Back then, I was guaranteed to walk around the neighborhood for a couple of hours. I didn’t worry about having to burn off all the calories because I knew I’d bring that bag of candy home and six big, hungry boys would eat 95% of it within hours of my arrival.

I miss those days. Now, if I bring home two tons of candy, there’s a good chance that my little family and I will eat more than is good for a small village. So I try to keep the candy out of my house until the very last minute, and then give away big handfuls to anyone who comes to my doorstep. Yes, even the mailman gets Kit Kats and 100 Grand Bars so I don’t eat them myself.

kids playing

Did someone say CANDY?

The fact that Smilin’ Jack is right outside my office door makes it harder for me to stay on the straight and narrow, but I’ve learned something along the way of this “eating right” journey. Deprivation is the mother of all food binges. If I want one tiny candy bar, I have it. That way, I can stop thinking about it. I don’t let that pumpkin scare me anymore. I save my energy for the truly scary things in life.

clown

Now that’s scary

Once I’ve satisfied my craving,  I watch all the people sticking their grubby hands into that pumpkin and I realize…maybe I’m not so hungry after all.

Recipes: Healthy Halloween Ideas

healthy-halloween-ideas

Here are some really fun, healthier treats that you can whip up for your kids (or keep ’em for yourself…I won’t tell). You’ll find recipes for Monster Sandwiches, Frozen Banana Mummies, Goblin Potion, and more.

So, Hungry Lifers: what’s your favorite Halloween candy? How do you avoid eating too much of those little candy bars? What’s your best Halloween recipe? Please leave a comment and let us all know. Thanks!

 

 

May 2, 2016

A Hairy Story

by Maria Schulz

All right, I’ll admit it: my hair and I have had two very separate minds for most of my life. It all started when my cousin Angela asked if she could cut off my waist-length hair.

“Will it grow back in time for school?” I asked. (I was only 7, and It was August, by the way).

“Um, sure!” she said.

the-way-of-love-album-cover

I remember the sheer look of delight on Angela’s face when she was done. I also remember being very cold on the drive home, even though it was 85 degrees out. No worries though. My hair would grow back by September! Or not. I’m still waiting.

I never really had a hairstyle that I loved as much as that Cher-inspired, waist-length, straight as can be ‘do. Although, I did try really hard to find “the one.”

There was the Dorothy Hamill hair cut that I decided to get when every other girl on the planet got one too. Dorothy looked so cute! Look at her with her gold medal and pixie hair cut. I might never win a gold medal, but I was sure I could look equally adorable. Except…I looked more like Tony Danza in Taxi than Dorothy Hamill on the podium.

dorothy hamill

Looks good on her…

Fast forward to the ‘80s. High hair, perms, and mousse ruled the land. The models in the salon posters all looked FANTASTIC with their gigantic hair. If I looked just like those women in the posters, I was sure my life would be so much more fun.

There would be nights on the town! Laughter and merriment! Good times and great people. I got those hairstyles, and I met lots of amazing people, but still, something wasn’t quite right. I looked like a crazy, windblown peasant girl. Or, as my old Stern’s pal and co-worker John B. put it, I looked kind of like this.

lucy grape stomping

By the time the 80s ended, I thought I was over hair fads. So imagine my friend Dorothy’s surprise when I showed up on her wedding day in my bridesmaid’s gown looking like Joan Jett’s twin sister. I don’t think she was happy, but I was (if only I was half as successful at recreating this look the next day!)

Joan Jett

Yes, by the 90s I had sworn off those silly, hard-to-manage celebrity hairstyles for good. Until…Friends became the hottest show on television, and Rachel had the cutest hair. My poor hairstylist had to recreate this look for me (I’m pretty sure she hated it as much as I loved it). I have to admit, this style looked great on me, but it was a gigantic pain to keep up! No wonder Jennifer Aniston hated it.

rachel

Here’s the thing about my hair. It goes where it wants, whether I spend hours on it or let it air dry. Either way, I end up looking like this.

Bram Stokers Dracula

I finally made peace with it. I’m an adult now, and I understand that celebrities have one huge thing that I don’t: stylists! They have professionals spending hours and hours making them look fantastic. I’m lucky if I have 15 minutes to blow dry my hair. It’s time for me to accept the curly, wild, unpredictable, dense mane that the good Lord (and my Mama) gave me. Although these days, I really think I could pull this celebrity hairstyle off.

Betty White

Recipe: Angel Hair Pasta Primavera

I’ve made this recipe on numerous occasions and it’s always a big hit. I like to try different pastas, so spaghetti, penne, or angel hair pasta (my daughters’ favorite) all work. Your call! Don’t be intimidated by the long ingredient list. Pick your favorite vegetables, roast them, and go from there. You won’t be sorry! This is quick, delicious, and very satisfying.

no-cream pasta primavera

So, Hungry Lifers: do you have a love-hate relationship with your hair? Do you have hair? What was your favorite type of hairstyle EVER? Please leave a comment and let us all know. Thanks!

April 6, 2016

Happy 6th Anniversary to Me

by Maria Schulz

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but my blog and I are celebrating 6 years together.

wish_us_a_happy_6th_anniversary_throw_pillow

When I wrote my very first blog, I had the paralyzing fear that my words would be read by NOBODY. Or, even worse yet…EVERYBODY. I wasn’t sure anyone would be the least bit interested in what I had to say, but I hit “publish” anyway. You know what? Nobody didn’t show. Neither did Everybody. But Somebody came regularly.

Once I wrote that first blog post, the words just came tumbling out. I found that it was a thrill writing something that people actually read and commented on. Some comments I could live without, but most comments showed that I was not, in fact, shouting down a big black well. I spoke, and someone heard me. How cool is that?

The Flying Nun

You like me! You really like me!

Over the last six years, I’ve covered a wide range of topics that let me talk about everything from the sweet and sentimental to the serious and zany. These include:

My Book Reading

TFAHL-Book-Reading

Extra! Extra! Read all about it

What I Learned in Catholic School

Cartoons

What it takes to live 100+ years

Multiple Choice Tests for Parents

James Garner

JamesGarner

What a smile

My grandmother’s house and eggs in a basket 

Must-Read Books

Marriage

The Dead Celeb Blog

The Trouble With Girls

#distractinglysexy

You’ve got to laugh

My book: Tales From a Hungry Life: A Memoir with Recipes

Tales From A Hungry Life A Memoir with Recipes cover

Now available on amazon.com

In some ways, my blog has been like a partner in a long-term relationship. There were the early days, when I just couldn’t wait to see it again. There was a rush whenever I sat down to write, because everything was new and there was so much to learn about each other.

Bloggie and I saw each other as much as we could. Sometimes, I couldn’t wait to post again. There would be two posts in a week! Eight posts in a month! There could never be enough time spent in each other’s company.

couple running towards each other

At last

Now, six years later, things have changed. Oh, I still love my blog…but if I post once every six weeks, that’s okay too. The early rush I had from sitting down and posting something has faded. I think my blog senses it too.

So, now that I’m in my sixth year…and the seven-year-itch is just one anniversary away…I’m rededicating myself to my blog. For awhile, I would post every Wednesday like a religion. But life, work, and sheer exhaustion took over.

student sleeping at desk

Too tired to blog

There have been times that I also wondered if anyone would really care if this blog just stopped showing up. Who needs to know what I think of marriage? Holidays? School tests? Crazy kids? Scary movies? Books? Bike riding? James Garner? (but that’s just silly. Who doesn’t want to hear about James Garner?)

GREATGARNER[1]

Awwww…Jimmy

I’m not going to renew my vows with my blog. That would be so Hollywood, and besides, every celebrity couple that does that ends up divorced within a year. No, instead, I’ll make a promise to myself to write more, read more, and build up my blogging relationship again. It’s one that’s made me happy over the years, and I still think it’s worth the effort.

Besides, it’s gotten me in touch with so many wonderful people. Old friends and new friends, people just passing by and others in it for the long haul. I’m grateful to all of you, and hope that my blog and I can keep making your days a little bit more amusing in the years to come.

In the meantime…does anyone have any ideas for what I can write about next week?

Recipe:

7 Days of Super Healthy Dinners

Grapefruit-and-Avocado-Salad-Seared-Salmon-XL

Besides trying to write my blog, create new chapters for Book #2, work a full-time job, exercise, be a parent and spouse, and strive for world peace, I’ve set out to eat better. These 7 meals seem like a good addition to my routine, which is already starting to get old. There are just so many ways you can eat greens before you go stark raving mad and head screaming out the door to White Castle for a sack o’20 murder burgers, a big thick chocolate shake, onion rings, and enough French fries to choke a horse.

White_Castle_meal

You like me! You really like me!

So, Hungry Lifers…what are your suggestions for keeping the passion alive in your hobbies? Do you have any ideas for future blog posts you’d like me to tackle? No, really…any ideas? Please leave a comment and let us all know. My blog and I thank you!

March 16, 2016

March is Read-Aloud Month

by Maria Schulz

These days, families are stretched thin because we’re all very busy and very stressed. Do you exercise 3 or more times a week like you should? (Not always). Do you eat home cooked meals instead of fast food (I try). Parents, do you read out loud to your kids every single day? This one’s a no-brainer…except for many these days, the answer is no.

At readaloud.org, there’s a movement to help parents carve out a minimum of 15 minutes a day for reading aloud to their kids. Now here’s a revolution that I’m all in for!

Untitled

house_infographic_web

There was nothing better than cuddling with a book when my girls needed to wind down from an activity before naptime, in the bath (yes! You can get waterproof books and kids can act out the stories while splashing and playing), and of course, at bedtime.

Bookstack

Let’s read. And talk. And eat.

I knew it was good for them, but you know what? It was good for me too. I got the chance to discover what made them laugh, what interested them, and experience wonder at the world around us. It was fun to watch my girls discover the simplest things, from colors and numbers in the beginning to concepts like sharing, being kind, compromising, compassion, and empathy. Hey! Maybe we should read aloud to our politicians, too.

Many parents will say, “I’m just too tired and there’s no time to read. I’ll give my kids their iPad or Kindle Fire and they can read audio books. That’s the same, right?”

Wrong. It’s not the same. Children and parents forge bonds as they read together, and if you start reading to kids from they day they’re born, their brain will make more vital connections than children who don’t have books read to them. It gives them a bigger vocabulary and gets them ready for school, tests, and success. Yes, it even helps them succeed in S.T.E.M. classes (if you can’t read, you can’t learn).

High Stakes

highstakesforparents_infographic

These were the books that my girls enjoyed:

Pat the Bunny

Goodnight Moon

Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born

Muldoon

Rufferella

rufferella

Sing it, baby

Guess How Much I Love You

Where the Wild Things Are

My Somebody Special

C is for Cookie

The Cat in the Hat

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

The Rainbow Fish

The Velveteen Rabbit

the velveteen rabbit

The Kissing Hand

Winners Never Quit

Madeline

Detective LaRue

my somebody special

The best part about reading aloud? You get to act out the scenes and have fun together. To reap the benefits, you just have to do this 15 minutes per day. If money is tight, the library is free. Go once a week and stock up on books you can enjoy together.

Reading to your kids is just like exercising, eating right, and taking care of yourself. It’s hard to make the time, but when you do, you realize it was the best thing you did all day.

Recipe: Quick Breakfast Burritos

breakfast-burritto

Eggs are brain food! This breakfast burrito recipe looks delicious, but if you don’t think you’ll ever have the time to make this, prep ahead, omit whatever you don’t have on hand (I don’t usually have green chiles on hand and my kids won’t eat them anyway), and create a healthy breakfast that will send them off ready to learn. You can even make these ahead and freeze them. That way, all you have to do is defrost them in the microwave for 30-45 seconds, and go. P.S.: Pack a book with that burrito, for a truly brain-boosting breakfast experience.

So, did you/do you read aloud to your kids? What was your favorite book? What’s your favorite “reading moment” memory? Please leave a comment and let us all know. Thanks!

February 5, 2016

Inspired by Eggs in a Basket

by Maria Schulz

I woke up this morning to more snow and the sinking feeling that shoveling was in my immediate future. Luckily, I read a post by my friend Beth at butterscotchblastoff with a recipe that brought me back to my Grandmother’s kitchen.

retro-kitchen

Like this, only bigger and pinker

I can see her now: my beautiful little Nonnie, in her pink frilly apron, cooking for me in her big pink kitchen in Port Washington. She had short brown hair and big brown eyes, framed by round glasses that she always wore. Her home always smelled of something wonderful on the stove: fresh bread, spaghetti and meatballs, apple pie, or peach spongecake.

Making_eggs_in_basket

How’s about cooking something up for me?

One of my favorite memories are of sleeping over and waking up to find my grandmother cooking breakfast for me. If Uncle Sal was there for the weekend and Uncle Don was home, Judy Garland, Dean Martin, and Frank Sinatra would be playing in the background as we waited for our meal.

MariaNonnieBandC177

My two grandmothers

My grandmother used to take a piece of bread, make a circle in it with the bottom of a juice glass, and put both pieces of bread into a hot pan with a dab of butter. Next, she’d crack an egg into the middle of the toast. When everything had firmed up nicely, she’d flip it (yes, even the round piece that had been cut out was cooked and flipped). She’d season it all with salt and pepper, put it on one of her pretty plates, and presto! Breakfast was served.

tomatoes and eggs

Hey, good looking

How could eggs be so delicious? My grandmother was a magician in the kitchen, and I would practically sit in the audience and applaud. There was lots of laughter around that table as we enjoyed our morning feast.

 

To boost up my morale before heading out into the snow drifts, I set out to make a little magic of my own. I did everything my grandmother showed me, but with inspiration from Beth, I added a twist: yellow tomatoes, a little more butter, salt, pepper, and basil. I added it to my eggs in a basket on top and on the side. You know what? It was delicious! I recommend it heartily.

Eggs in a BasketI think my Nonnie would approve.

So…what’s your favorite breakfast food? Best memory with Grandma? What inspires you when your get up and go has gotten up and left? Please leave a comment and let us all know. Thanks!

 

 

 

January 13, 2016

Unresolved

by Maria Schulz

New-Year-Resolutions

Happy New Year! Yes, it’s probably getting a little late to wish everyone this, but I’m just wrapping my head around the fact that it’s 2016. That number looks SO WEIRD to me. I remember being a kid and thinking that the year 2000 was so far away. Now, the year 2000 seems far away again, but only because it’s in my rearview mirror. Remember the hysteria caused by Y2K? Good times.

This being January, it’s time to consider how we want to reframe our future, as opposed to letting it all hang out come December holiday time. Yes folks, it’s time to talk about resolutions.

Wait…don’t run away. It’s not that bad! Here are the usual suspects when it comes to the most popular resolutions on people’s lists:

lists

It’s go time

  1. Lose weight
  2. Eat right
  3. Go to the gym
  4. Spend more time with family
  5. Cut down on stress
  6. Learn something new
  7. Volunteer
  8. Cut back on alcohol
  9. Stop smoking
  10. Travel and see the world

Some of these are easy for me. Spending time with family and traveling anywhere comes as naturally to me as breathing, and smoking was never my vice. I love learning new things (or at least trying), I’m always happy to volunteer, and I don’t really like the taste of alcohol. Plus, who doesn’t want to cut down on stress?

augustus gloop

But…it’s the gym/weight/eating thing that gets me. I know I should go to the gym, but there are days I just feel like putting on a snuggly and going to sleep. Of course, they frown on that at work, so I am conscious far more often than I’d like. By the time I get home from work, I don’t want to go back out again. What I would like to do is eat chocolate chip cookie dough while laying on the couch and binge-watching stand-up comedy routines, Jeopardy!, and The Office re-runs.

Jabba_the_Hutt

I’ll just lay here

However, since I don’t want to look like Jabba the Hut by 2017, I will not lay around until they have to cut a wall down from my house in order to get me out. I’ve been looking up inspirational quotes to keep me motivated. Here are some of them:

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” –Ghandi

“Dreams don’t work unless you do.”—Anonymous

“I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.”—Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

elizabeth-taylor

You tell ’em, Liz

“Pour yourself a drink, put on some lipstick, and get yourself together.”—Liz Taylor

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.”—Henry David Thoreau

“Do one thing that scares you every day.”—Eleanor Roosevelt

“A dream doesn’t become reality through magic. It takes sweat, determination, and hard work.” –Colin Powell

ralph-waldo-emerson quote

“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.”—Ralph Waldo Emerson

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”—Eleanor Roosevelt

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, and hope for tomorrow.”—Albert Einstein

albert-einstein

Here are some of my own quotes:

“I hate change almost as much as change hates me.”

“Why don’t you stop whining and just shut up.”

“Dreams are like the popular kids in middle school who smiled at you but never let you sit at their table during lunch period.”

“What the hell am I doing on the ocean trying to sail during a fx!c@ng storm!!!”

Funny-new-years-resolutions-calvin-and-hobbs

“Where’s my resolution list from 2000? I can probably use the same one.”

“Forget about yesterday…you’re living in the past, man.”

“Did they take The Office off channel 5? I got scared there for a minute.”

“When did sarcasm go out of style?”

“You are right. I should stop laughing at you.”

“Resolutions are for those of us who aren’t perfect. Good luck with yours.”

Recipe:

salmon swimming upstream

Keep swimming

Poached Salmon with Champagne Sauce

I liked this recipe because it looks easy, and Food Network included it for New Year’s  because they said: “swimming ahead and never looking back, fish symbolize hope.”

So, what are your resolutions? What’s your favorite inspiring quote? What are your own personal words to live by? Please leave a comment. Thanks, and Happy New Year.

November 21, 2015

All You Can Eat, Or Not

by Maria Schulz

I was reading the Huffington Post’s “Weird News” section the other day when I saw an article titled “Woman Flips Out Over All You Can Eat Pancake Rule.” It seems that this lady FREAKED OUT because she was not allowed to share her $4 plate of all you can eat pancakes with everyone at her table.

all you can eat

When the waitress pointed out that “All You Can Eat” really only refers to YOU and not your table full of friends and relatives, the diner went crazy. She began screaming, swinging her fists at the waitress, and then went outside and started kicking in the door.

I mean, if you can’t feed a party of 12 with $4 worth of all you can eat pancakes, what is this world coming to?

4-all-you-can-eat-pancakes

Warning: May Cause Insanity

This story cracked me up, but it didn’t shock me. It’s only surprising to people that never worked in a restaurant or in retail. People who are normally nice and not insane really lose their minds when it comes to freebies or sales. As we head into the holiday season, I thought it might be helpful to give a few examples of Behaviors to Avoid When in Public. Ready? Let’s go…

lists

I’ll give you seven good reasons…

It’s An All-You-Can-Eat Soup and Salad Bar. But everything else will cost you. Diners would lose their minds when they couldn’t get an extra Coke for free, or when they had to pay for a slice of chocolate cake. You just ate 12 bowls of kale, iceberg lettuce, carrots, chickpeas, broccoli, fruit, chocolate pudding, and croutons, and downed enough soup to fill a river, for $7.99. But you’re going to beat me senseless for a 99-cent drink? I know croutons make you thirsty, but come on.

Yes, we run out of things sometimes. Shoppers would become apoplectic when a wine set that was on sale for $19 was out of stock. Never mind that it’s closing time on day 5 of a 5-day-sale. Or that the circular says we have very limited quantities and offer no rain checks. You want that wine set! You want that rain check! I should call every store on the globe to get it for you! Or maybe you could buy an identical wine set that costs the same thing? Nah.

baked potato

Life. Liberty. And the pursuit of baked potatoes.

Baked Potatoes Are NOT an Unalienable Right: when I worked at a local steakhouse, the lines would stretch out the door. By the time I was taking order #237, we would have run out of baked potatoes. Or beer. Or even steak. This would cause some customers to turn red-faced with rage. Shouts of “HOW COULD YOU NOT HAVE STEAK IN A STEAK HOUSE?”, “I WANT A BAKED POTATO!”, or “ALL I WANT IS AN ICE COLD BEER!” would ring out. Meanwhile, the manager hid behind the swinging door, only peering out long enough to whisper, “just give them a free salad plate and maybe they’ll go away.” Read all about my hazy crazy Salad Days in my book, Tales From A Hungry Life: A Memoir with Recipes, available at amazon.com!

Now available on amazon.com

Now available on amazon.com

No, this isn’t a flea market: one day, a man came into the store and offered me $5 to sell him a $300 tea set for $30. He insisted that I had agreed to do this for him the week before the sale. I had to explain that I had never laid eyes on him in my entire life, and since I did not personally own the tea set, I could not sell it to him for 90% off. Also, I didn’t want to go to jail while he sat at home admiring his almost free sterling silver tea set.

Tea_set

Warning: May Cause Insanity

Food always looks better on the commercial: lots of folks would come running in when we ran commercials about our specials. What they could never understand was why the shrimp was microscopically small or why the chicken didn’t look as fresh or delicious as the commercial made it seem. Folks, it’s all about the camera angle. Plus our 17-year-old chef isn’t very good at what he does.

Special Orders are By Definition specially ordered: if you want to place an order for an expensive, hand-crafted gift that you know will be shipped on a slow barge from China, why are you surprised that you can’t have it in time for cousin Susie’s wedding this Saturday? You’ve known about the wedding for months, right? No, I can’t get it for you in time. Sure, you can talk to my manager…but he can’t get it for you any faster either.

Donkey-on-slow-boat

Sure, your order will get here soon

When Confronted by Your Own Thoughtlessness, Insult the Personnel: when my friend got a college internship at a well-known theme park, one of his jobs was to ask patrons who were hoarding tables (but not actually eating) to please move on so that diners coming off one of the many food court lines could eat. One day, one of his fellow interns asked a man sitting at a table for hours to please relinquish it. The man became enraged and started screaming to his kids: LOOK AT THIS GUY! HE’S A LOSER! THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU DON’T GO TO COLLEGE! WORK HARD IN SCHOOL KIDS, OR YOU’LL HAVE TO STAND GUARD OVER A TABLE FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIVES!

Recipe: Banana Pancakes

I chose this recipe in honor of all the people out there that go bananas in public. This recipe got lots of rave reviews, but as some of the reviewers said, add a little vanilla, some cinnamon, walnuts and whipped cream for a delicious treat. Make sure you cook them on low so that the outsides don’t burn AND the insides get fully cooked. No one wants mushy pancakes…it’s the kind of thing that might make you insane!

banana pancakes

Looks good to me

So…what’s your funniest Customer Gone Wild story? Please share it in the comments section. Thanks!

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