Tales From A Hungry Life

February 7, 2017

7 Things You Must Learn From Your Old Dog

by Maria Schulz

There are few things in life as wonderful as bringing a brand new puppy into your home. Puppies are adorable, funny, and curious. Even when they screw up royally by eating the kitchen cabinets or chewing a hole in your couch, you can’t stay mad at them forever.

All of that is true, but I’ll let you in on a little secret: puppies are great, but old dogs are fantastic too. It’s easy to understand why: they’ve gotten most of their bad habits out of their systems (let’s be honest: are all of your bad habits out of your system?) and over the years, you will have developed a mutual affection and understanding.

Where's the cheese?

Where’s the cheese?

As my dog has moved into her “golden years,” she has reminded me of all the ways she has been a blessing in my life. Here are some of the life lessons I’ve gleaned from watching her get through her days.

  1. When You Don’t Feel Good, Lie Down

This seems like a no brainer, but silly humans keep going sometimes instead of listening to their bodies. I am one of those humans. My dog, however, will curl up in a ball on her bed and stay there until she feels better. Who’s the smart one?

  1. When the Sun Shines and the Temperatures are Mild, Let’s Walk

Extremes are not for the old dog. High temperatures or brutal cold bother my dog, so it’s in and out in a flash. But a beautiful day demands participation. We walk for a while, taking in the sunrise or staring at the stars. It’s the best medicine in the world.

Hot, hot, hot

Hot, hot, hot

  1. Medicine goes down better when there’s cheese

Remember Mary Poppins? A spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down. Or in my dog’s case, cheese does the trick. Don’t skip out on the very thing that will make you feel better. Find a way to tolerate it and even look forward to it.

  1. Express Joy When Your “Peeps” Come Through the Door

Maybe you can’t jump up and greet them, but you can always let them know how delighted you are to have them around. My dog wags her tail just because we’re sitting close by and watching TV. She’s never shy about letting us know that she’s happy.

You're here!

You’re here!

  1. Some Days Will Be Better Than Others

Every day won’t be a party. Arthritis, stomachaches, headaches, bad hips, or bad knees will sometimes make today a non-participatory day. But tomorrow may find that old dog bringing you her favorite hedgehog toy and playing hide and seek. Live in the moment. Be patient and understanding…just like your dog will be when your bad back leaves you stranded on the couch.

Let's play

Let’s play

  1. Greet Old Friends and Make New Ones

My dog is blessed with a bit of Marilyn Monroe beauty even now. People will stop us to say hello, pet her, and ask how she’s doing. My dog happily accepts all adoration and is delighted when there’s another dog on the other end of this admiration society. Thanks to her, I have met more people than I ever would have if I were walking alone. Sure, puppies bring scores of people to your side…but old dogs are also magnets for the very best people: those who are kind, compassionate, and want to give you and your dog a little support as you walk slowly towards home.

Let's walk

Let’s walk

  1. Every Day is The. Best. Day. Ever.

My old girl doesn’t spend her days worrying about what tomorrow may bring. She wakes up everyday and is ready to eat, walk, and head out on an adventure. She doesn’t dread the numerous vet visits; instead, she charges gleefully through the door. She is the only dog I have ever had that gets excited when I say, “want to go see Dr. D?” She still barks ferociously and protects the people and home that she loves. Every vet visit, car ride, sunrise or starry night is waiting for her, and it’s going to be AWESOME.

I’ve heard it said that people wish they could be half the person that their dog thinks they are. Well, I wish I could be half as optimistic as my old Lab. In the meantime, I’ll follow her lead and enjoy our life together right now.

Recipe: Grilled Cheese

Tomato soup and grilled cheese. A perfect marriage

Tomato soup and grilled cheese. A perfect marriage

50 of the Best Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Nothing makes my dog shimmy and shake quite as much as the sight, smells, and sound of a grilled cheese. These recipes all look delicious and include 50 versions of this time-honored favorite, including the classic grilled cheese, bacon and tomato, pesto, Mediterranean, Gruyere with Sauerkraut, and more.

So: what have you learned from your old dog? Leave a comment and share your thoughts. Thanks! I hope that today brings you your own great adventure.

October 11, 2016

Cooking On A Lazy Day

By Maria Schulz

Some people don’t like rainy weekend days, but I do. Especially a rainy day that comes after a really busy, fun-filled Saturday.

Look! A rainbow.

Look! A rainbow.

I love waking up to the sound of soft rain dancing against the windows and the wind rustling through the trees. Yes, my dog and I still walk in the rain, but not for long.

Short walks on rainy days

Short walks on rainy days

The best part of a cool, rainy Sunday is that I feel free to bake and cook. The last couple of weeks have been so warm that I’ve still been using my barbecue. Turning on the oven was a welcome change.

I baked muffins in the morning. The rich smell of cornflour, eggs, milk and butter made me think of weekend visits with Irene, my mother-in-law. She loved corn muffins.

Fresh from the oven

Fresh from the oven

Sundays are also the perfect time to make a batch of sauce that we can use later in the week. I love putting on a big pot of sauce to simmer on the stove. That smell immediately transports me back to Sundays with my parents. Mom made her sauce while Dad listened to Frank Sinatra on the radio or watched Meet the Press on television. I can still see my mom handing me a piece of bread as she stirred the sauce, asking me what I thought. img_0012

“Perfect!” I’d reply, because Mom’s sauce always was the best.

Later in the day, I made some memories for my own family by making a batch of Chicken Tetrazzini. My husband, girls, and dog always hover near the kitchen as I cook the chicken, stir the sauce, add the sherry, and make the pasta. When it all goes into the casserole dish and into the oven, I have to reassure them that it will be ready soon.

Giada's recipe

Giada’s recipe

My husband even made his mom’s baked apple recipe, filling the whole house with the smell of cinnamon, nutmeg, apples and maple syrup.

Makes the whole house smell great

Makes the whole house smell great

It was a day filled with comforting food, happy memories, and much-loved family.

As Martha Stewart would say, it was a very good thing.

RECIPES:

Chicken Tetrazzini

Giada’s recipe is a lot more involved than mine, but it’s still delicious. I use a lot less butter, no bread crumbs (I put parmesan cheese on top of mine) and I add a quarter of a cup of sherry to my sauce, which gives it a wonderful flavor.

Baked Apples

This recipe includes things like cherries and nuts, which add an interesting texture and flavor to the baked apple. You can go a much simpler route by just cleaning and coring your apples and stuffing them with cinnamon, nutmeg, and maple syrup. Your call.

cornbread-and-muffin-mix

My corn muffin recipe is a little less fussy. I open two packages of Betty Crocker’s Corn bread & muffin mix, double the ingredients (except for the butter–I find that doubling the butter makes them too greasy. So I use 3 tablespoons of butter instead of 4) and bake. Yes, this is an indulgence and doubles the caloric hit but I like a jumbo muffin every once in a while. I have tried every type of corn muffin mix and have even made them from scratch, but this brand of corn muffins is by far my favorite. These are great in the mornings and also wonderful to make as a side dish to a big pot of chili. But that’s a recipe for another day.

So…what’s your favorite comfort food? What do you like doing on a lazy, rainy day? Please leave a comment with your thoughts or your favorite recipe. If you’re like me, you’re always looking for new ones to try. Thanks!

August 24, 2016

8 Great Ways to Pursue Happiness

They look happy

They look happy

I just read an article about happiness that got me thinking.

A Harvard psychologist says that too many people have got this happiness thing all wrong. Instead of sitting around thinking up ways to be happier, the researchers say that you should just go out and live your life. Stop thinking about it! It’s okay to be unhappy, just don’t sit around worrying about how to be happier. The key finding was: in order to find happiness, you have to be okay with being unhappy sometimes. Just accept it. Sometimes, you’re not going to be happy. Embrace it, man! It’s okay. Don’t sweep those bad feelings under the rug. Apparently, the key to a happier life is being emotionally agile and becoming your true, authentic self.

Um…what?

I am no psychologist. I don’t even play one on TV. But I have to ask…do we really need to research this kind of thing? I thought everyone was basically unhappy anyway. To paraphrase another Seinfeld episode (substituting the word happiness for humor) “happiness is like gossamer. One does not dissect gossamer.”

Ready? Here we go...

Ready? Here we go…

So, in the interests of helping the unhappy be more authentic and tap into their happier selves, I’m going to offer my:

8 Great Ways to Pursue Happiness…Or At Least My Version of It

  1. Laugh. A lot. Life can be frustrating, energy draining, infuriating, and disappointing. So what? If you can’t find something to laugh at in the idiocy all around you, you’re just not trying hard enough.
  2. Feed Your Soul. Whether you like to paint waterlilies or sing the entire soundtrack of Grease, do it. You don’t have to be perfect. Just do what you love and that happiness thing will come a’calling.

    Just have fun

    Just have fun

  3. Feed Your Face. Yeah, I’m going there. I’m not suggesting you bury your emotions in a gallon of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, but if you’ve had a rough day and all you want in the whole world is some Chunky Monkey, HAVE IT. Don’t make it bigger than it already is. And the key to not making yourself bigger than you already are is Portion Control. The key word here is control. You’re in charge.
  4. Remember: You’re In Charge. That’s right. No one else is responsible for your happiness. It’s all on you, baby. Own your mistakes. Own your disappointments. Only you can change what makes you unhappy, and only you can identify what you need in your life. So what are you waiting for?
  5. Don’t Ignore Your Inner Cynic. Listen to what he/she has to say, because you will probably learn what you really need from him or her. But by the same token, don’t always listen. Your Inner Cynic is a jerk sometimes.

    Hello, I'm your Inner Cynic

    Hello, I’m your Inner Cynic

  6. Get Out of Your House. And while you’re at it, get out of your head. Want to meet people? Tired of being lonely? Think everyone but you is having a good time? Leave the house! Unless you live in Grand Central Station, chances are all the fun stuff is going on elsewhere. Get out there and find it. Join a bicycle club, running club, baking club, whatever. Don’t go there with the thought: I have to meet my one true love! Go there thinking: I’m sick of watching The Bachelor. Que sera, sera. Just go with it.
  7. Volunteer. It’s true: doing things for others is a really great way to find happiness. Walk dogs at the local shelter (they’re always desperate for help); attend a Special Olympics event and cheer on people who are competing; help the local food pantry stock their shelves. There are a million ways to help other people. Go find one that is meaningful to you and reap the rewards.

    Don't you want to walk me?

    Don’t you want to walk me?

  8. Change the World. Or at least your corner of it. Campaign for a worthy candidate. Raise funds for your school at the next bake sale. Go down the block and clear trash out of your local park. Don’t just sit there waiting for love, romance, happiness, and meaning to come to you. Go find it while you’re not looking for it.

If none of these suggestions work for you, that’s okay. I never said I was a Happiness Guru. It all goes back to #4 (see above). You need to figure out what you can do for YOURSELF. You don’t need to read about ways to make yourself happier. Get lost in pursuing your dreams or making life better for others and that happiness thing will naturally take care of itself.

So good!

So good!

Recipes:

Chunky Monkey Ice Cream

Banana and Peanut Butter Ice Cream

Get that monkey off your back and have some of this delicious ice cream! You can follow these recipes from allrecipes.com as is or make modifications based on reader comments–less sugar, more ripe bananas, etc. Follow your taste buds and I bet you’ll be happy!

So, Hungry Lifers…what’s your favorite way to be happy? Are you in touch with your authentic self? What comfort food makes you smile from ear to ear? Please leave a comment and let us all know. Thanks!

 

August 6, 2016

This is My Idea of a Good Morning

by Maria Schulz

Everybody starts their day in a different way. Over at The Daily Post, they challenged bloggers to take a photo that says “morning” to us. Here’s one of mine.


The nearby pizzeria gets their morning delivery of Italian bread from the local bakery. You can smell the fresh bread from blocks away. There’s a coffee shop next door that’s another hot spot for the neighborhood. Freshly roasted coffee and egg sandwiches make it a delight to pass by.

My dog knows she’ll encounter some amazing smells in the morning, so she moves as fast as she can towards the stores. She is getting older now, so I know it’s a great day when she can walk all the way towards the sights, sounds, and people she’s always enjoyed seeing.

img_0010-1It’s a very good morning indeed!

Recipe: Eggs, Herbs, & Tomato Omelette


Make the morning even better with fresh organic eggs plus tomatoes and herbs picked fresh from the garden.

Ingredients

2 Eggs

1 tomato, chopped

Italian Parsley leaves, chopped

Basil leaves, chopped

Sage, chopped

Oregano

Thyme

2 tablespoons Olive oil (or Pam)

Cheese (Cheddar,mozzerella, or goat cheese, optional)

Spray Pam or add Olive Oil to heated pan. Beat the eggs and add them to the hot pan. When the eggs have begun to firm up, add the tomatoes, herbs, and cheese. After about two minutes, flip it and brown the other side. You can eat this as is or add it to a low carb wrap. You can also add broccoli or spinach if you like.

To read about how other bloggers spend their mornings (and see their photos), check out Morning at the Daily Post. Enjoy!

So, what’s your favorite way to spend the morning? Please leave a comment and let us all know. Thanks, and have a great day.

 

October 5, 2015

In Good Times and In Bad

by Maria Schulz

Recently, my beautiful niece got married to her long-time boyfriend, and our family gathered to celebrate. The bride and groom wrote their own vows and promised to always be there for each other.

Hooray

Hooray

It reminded me of an article I read in The New York Times entitled “The Wedding Toast I’ll Never Give.” The author talked about how young couples set out hoping to never let each other down, only to discover that marriage is full of mistakes, pettiness, anger, and many dark nights of the soul. And yet…like life, marriage can be better than you ever imagined when you were that starry-eyed newlywed.

Even though my wedding day was decades ago, I remember reading my vows “with shaking hands” and promising to never let my husband down. So how did that work out for us? Well…

Shakespeare_in_Love_

This is a movie. NOT REAL LIFE

Here’s the thing about being married. It looks easy in Hollywood movies and to people who have never done it, but it is hard work. There are lots of things you need to remember throughout your life as a married person if you want to hit the vaunted “til death do us part” point of it all.

Things Married Couples Should Remember

  • There will be days when you look at that person and you know you made the right choice. You love this person like he/she is a part of you, and always will.
  • There will also be days when you think: I could run away, and he/she will never find me
Words to live by

Words to live by

  • Don’t express every thought that enters your head. You may not even remember what you were mad about a week from now.
  • You don’t have to do everything together. Go play softball, sing karaoke, or ride your bike. Then come home and tell your spouse what a great time you had—and ask them about their great time too.
I like my bicycle

I like my bicycle

  • Eat dinner together on most nights. That’s your time together…make it sacred.
  • Once in awhile, have dinner with friends while he or she stays home and eats Cheerios (you hate cereal for dinner) or watches a horror movie (the kind you never want to watch)
Have a good time with your friend. See you later.

Have a good time with your friend. See you later.

  • Never underestimate the power of a good relationship with your in-laws. There is no greater ally than a beloved mother-in-law and/or father-in-law.

mother in law quote

  • A good relationship with your spouse’s siblings will help you understand your partner in so many ways…and it will always make your partner happy when he/she sees all of you laughing together.
  • If your spouse is quiet and your family is over-the-top, loud, and quirky, you can’t expect him or her to be leading the festivities at your family’s annual Christmas karaoke night.
We look just like the Kennedys

We look just like the Kennedys

  • Likewise, when your over the top, loud, and quirky spouse shows up at your family’s annual Thanksgiving party and manages to get your boring family to play a Kennedy-esque football game on the front lawn, just go with it.
  • When children arrive, you will not have time for each other, let alone yourself. Like marriage, parenthood is the kind of thing that non-parents think is easy. Just remind yourselves that this little baby will grow up fast. Plan to be there together once the dust settles and that infant is off at college.
What he said

What he said

  • As your kids get older, you will discover that they know exactly how to play you against each other. Don’t fall for it! Be like the Allies in World War II—present a unified front and never, never, NEVER give up.
  • Once you’ve made it to the 15-year mark of your marriage, congratulate yourselves. And don’t let your teenagers turn you against each other.
  • At about 20 years, you will start to see lots of your peers ending their marriages. Don’t judge; nobody knows the real reasons behind anything except for that couple. Does that mean you need to do the same? As my parents used to say, if your friends jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?

jump off a bridge

  • Along the way, you may meet someone that reignites a spark inside of you. This feeling is probably just boredom or gas. Let it pass. The real issue here is not your spouse or that other person…it’s you.
  • Sometimes you will feel so grateful that your spouse chose you. Don’t let that feeling go, even when you find his underwear on the floor for the millionth time or she invites her mother over for dinner again
  • The hardest moments in your life can be endured as long as you face them together. The death of parents, loss of a job, and pain of broken dreams all become a little easier to bear with this person by your side.

Remember: the vows say: in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad, for better or for worse, til death do us part. The vows do NOT say: we will always be happy. We will never fight. For better or for even better! Til I get tired of you and get a newer model.

Barring abuse, infidelity, or extreme incompatibility, remember: love is a choice. Today you two might be ready to storm out the door and never look back. But if you stay, tomorrow you may see that young girl/boy who first caught your eye, and realize…this is where you wanted to be all along.

Wedding Chicken

Wedding Chicken

50 Favorite Dinner Recipes

Includes skirt steak with a velvety sauce, jasmine rice pilaf, and Wedding Chicken.

So Hungry Lifers: what would you say if you gave a wedding toast? Please leave a comment and let us all know. And one more thing: Happy Anniversary to my husband, who is still the best choice I ever made.

April 8, 2015

Happy 5th Anniversary to Me

by Maria Schulz

Five years ago this April, I hit “publish” on my very first blog post. This was no small feat, since I had always been afraid to share my writing with the world at large. My high school English teachers were the first to point out that I had a knack for writing, but I didn’t always believe them. I ranked it right up there with my mother telling me I was beautiful. Who believes that?

My dad, uncle, and their friends from "the Hill," Queensborough Hill.

A photo from my very first post. My dad, uncle, and their friends from “the Hill,” Queensborough Hill.

 

Mr. Reines once told me: “Maria, you’re a writer! Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.” Mr. Brodsky was a bit more blunt:  “Damn it, Maria, you’re not Emily Dickinson. Stop putting your stuff under the bed. Get it out there!” It only took me a few decades to follow his advice, but I’m glad I finally did.

I’ll admit it, there have been times when the old fear creeps in and I feel paralyzed. What if no one likes it? What if no one (gasp) laughs? What if I send this blog post out there, and absolutely NOTHING HAPPENS? What if I expose myself as a MORON? What if no one buys my book? Will I be able to keep my sense of humor about it? Here are my answers to those burning and idiotic personal questions:

How long before I'm on the cover with you?

How long before I’m on the cover with you?

1. No one may like my blog post, but I’m probably sitting here laughing as I write it, so at least it helped bring down my blood pressure for a few minutes

2. Again, someone laughed–me! The rest is gravy

Maybe Super Grover could hold my book

Maybe Super Grover could hold my book

3. What exactly do I think is going to happen? I haven’t gotten my 5 minutes with Oprah yet (except in my imagination) and the Tales From A Hungry Life balloon hasn’t gone live at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade either, but I’ve gotten lots of fun comments from people that are always hilarious and inspiring. So it’s all good.

4. I’m a writer. It would be moronic NOT to have opinions, ideas, or thoughts that I wanted to share. Yes, people have sent me mean comments and said my writing made them want to drink. Those words stung…but then I realized, maybe those comments were more about them then they were about me.

Now available on amazon.com

Now available on amazon.com

5. My book has been more successful than I had ever imagined, and I have my “platform” to thank for that. Platform is the word writers use to describe their social media presence. It reminds me of when I was in London some years ago and crazy people stood up on platforms and shouted out their ideas on a whole range of subjects in the public square. Yes, that describes my blog pretty well.

6. My sense of humor is still intact, thank you. It’s kind of like a very good friend that I keep by my side to cheer me on when I’m afraid that I can’t continue. It’s also nourished by my real (and not imaginary) friends who drop off gifts of crumb cake after I’ve posted something (Yes, Paula, I mean you).

I never thought I would still be blogging 5 years later. It’s not that I didn’t have something to say…it’s just that I wasn’t sure anyone would respond. For once, I’m happy to be wrong about something. This blog has been the place that I could write about things that meant something to me, and discover that I was not alone.

This cover still cracks me up

This cover still cracks me up

 

This is the place where I can write about the past–beloved pets, teachers, friends, and family. I can share the hilarious stories about my brothers (who are the best comedians I’ve ever known) and my well-meaning but very human parents. I could write about celebrities that I admired and those that passed on–Joan Rivers, Robin Williams, and of course, James Garner.  I could also write about the present: movies I love, life as a Mom, PTA shenanigans, growing pains with my kids, love and laughter with my husband.

Always a great escape

Always a great escape

Over the past 5 years, I have experienced a kind of creative freedom that you can’t get just anywhere. When I post, I’m the boss: what I say goes. Of course, that doesn’t stop my boss from sometimes being critical and editing everything I do (what can I say, I’m a pain), but it’s made me a more committed and dedicated writer. I completed my first book, wrote a short story that was included in another book, and have started on my second book, and all of it happened because this blog gave me the confidence to work towards those dreams.

My story is in this book!

My story is in this book!

I’ve nurtured my blog through the early days when I wasn’t sure what I was doing and I’ve grown in confidence. If my blog was a child, it would be ready to go off to Kindergarten right about now. There are lots of fun days ahead. I’ll try to enjoy them, because the teen years are right around the corner.

Thanks to everyone who reads, comments, and shares my blog. I’m looking forward to the next five years and all of the new challenges and adventures that blogging will bring. As my niece Katie says, “this is going to be fun!”

As for you, Mr. Brodsky: I still have plenty of stuff piled under that bed. Thanks for encouraging me to share it with the world.

RECIPES:

buttery crumb cake

Crumb Cake

This recipe is outrageously buttery, but that’s what makes it good. Imagine my delight when my pal, Paula, dropped off a hunk of crumb cake for me one morning after she read that week’s blog post. If this is what fan mail is all about, I’m in.

100 Healthy Dessert Ideas

For those of you who need to satisfy your sweet tooth but want to go light, here are 100 healthy ideas from Cooking Light. These good-for-you treats include bourbon-glazed peaches with yogurt, blackberry merlot granita, carrot cake, and many more delicious options.

So, Hungry Lifers: have you ever done something outside of your comfort zone? Did it take you several decades to do it? What’s your favorite dessert recipe–either so bad it’s good or tastes great/good for you too? Please leave a comment and let us all know. Thanks!

March 25, 2015

My Cartoon Heroes

by Maria Schulz

Beep, beep

Beep, beep

Nothing makes me teleport back to my childhood faster than a great cartoon. Bugs Bunny, Wile E. Coyote (Super Genius), The Road Runner, Tweety Bird, Sylvester, Yosemite Sam, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, The Tasmanian Devil, and lots of others helped me develop a sense of humor, a love of sarcasm, and the ability to see pratfalls as the funniest things on earth. This was a huge selling point for me, since I had so many brothers who enjoyed helping me fall…a lot!

Here are my Favorite Cartoons from Back in the Day:

bugs and Taz
1. Looney Tunes: who among us of a certain age has sat through an entire episode without laughing? Yes, there was violence. Yes, there were moments of sheer meanness. But look at their problem solving abilities! Bugs Bunny managed to not get eaten on any number of occasions. Porky Pig got through life despite his stutter. Tweety Bird became more confident thanks to her ability to see Puddy Tats (Pussy Cats, for the uninformed) when no one else did. Plus, Wile E. Coyote never gave up, despite multiple contusions and probably head traumas. If you can’t find the silver linings in these cartoons, you’re just not looking hard enough.

gorilla_4_sale
2. Magilla Gorilla: Come on, sing it with me: “We’ve got a gorilla for sale. Magilla Gorilla for sale. Won’t you buy him? Take him home and try him? Gorilla for Sale. He’s real, he’s a deal, and he’s awfully cute. He’s an ever livin’ doll in a monkey suit!” I wanted to adopt him then, and I still want to adopt him now.

Ricochet&droop-a-long
3. Ricochet Rabbit: Bing, bing, bing! It’s Richochet Rabbit! Best sheriff ever, and you didn’t have to sit through a convoluted, hours-long mystery/Western show to get through it.

Josie_and_the_Pussycats_title
4. Josie and the Pussycats: This girl band rocked my world long before the Bangles or the Go Gos. Plus I loved their cat costumes! This cartoon is probably tied with Sabrina the Teenage Witch and The Perils of Penelope Pitstop, two more cartoons that celebrated smart, funny young women. Cool!

underdog
5. Underdog! My doggie hero. Always there when you need him and ready to save the day. Who needs Superman?

D'oh! Donuts!

D’oh! Donuts!

6. The Simpsons: I remember when this show first appeared as a weird little sketch on the Tracy Ullman show. When it became a series in its own right, I would watch it at my boyfriend’s house. We thought it was a hoot. Bart had to write on the blackboard! Lisa was a genius! Maggie never said anything! Marge’s hair was almost as high as mine (it was the 80s)! Homer liked Duff beer, playing hooky, and trying to strangle Bart. What an odd little anti-family. How I hoped that show would last.

Here are my Favorite Cartoons from My Childrens’ Childhood:

The-grim-adventures-of-billy-and-mandy-44745
1. The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy: if you have never seen this one, go to Cartoon Network or find it on Netflix. It is super creative, filled with dark humor, and absolutely hilarious. Death (Grim, a.ka. the Grim Reaper) gets hoodwinked into being Billy & Mandy’s “forever friend” when he loses a bet…and the laughs never die!

Foster-s-Home-For-Imaginary-Friends-fosters-home-for-imaginary-friends-21056959-1024-768
2. Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends: This is probably one of the most imaginative, endearing cartoons ever, with hysterical story lines that keep it from being overly sentimental or sweet. Eight-year-old Mac is told by his mom that it’s time to get rid of his Imaginary Friend, so he brings his best bud, Bloo, to Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends. Madame Foster, the wacky owner, and her own beloved imaginary friend, Mr. Harriman, run the place, with the help of her teenage granddaughter, Frankie. This show features tons of hilarious imaginary friends and makes Christopher Robin (of Winnie the Pooh fame) seem like an absolute slacker in the imaginary friend department.

the powerpuff girls
3. The Powerpuff Girls: GIRL POWER! Brought to life by their Professor Dad, three radioactive girls save the day as often as needed, in between going to school and playing in the sandbox. Funny storylines, great villains, and three five-year-old heroines made this cartoon a riot.

Wallace_and_gromit
4. Wallace & Gromit: HANG ON, LAD! The dog’s a genius, and he always saves his daffy, beloved inventor/owner. Thanks to Wallace’s penchant for inventions gone wrong, his love of cheese, and his inability to see trouble coming, Gromit must stay on his toes. Claymation has never been so much fun.

Kipper_the_Dog
5. Kipper the Dog: This gentle-voiced pooch and his friends often went off on adorable adventures by the sea side…and sent my little ones off to Dreamland in the process. The sound of Kipper’s voice still makes me weep with joy. Franklin (the turtle) also had a calming effect that made my kids laugh, smile, and pass right out. How I loved that cartoon turtle!

Now here's a race I would really enjoy

Now here’s a race I would really enjoy

6) The Simpsons: It’s a pretty amazing thing when a show that first premiered during my early days is still on and is now thoroughly enjoyed by my children. When my family and I saw The Simpsons Movie at the theater, no one was laughing harder (or louder, as my children remember it) than me. I still think the Simpsons are hilarious. It’s so wrong, it’s right sometimes. How could you not love Homer? By the way, my boyfriend still watches it with me…except now he’s my husband.

Recipes:

DONUTS!

If they’re good enough for Homer, they’re good enough for me. Here are some better for you choices from Health.com, including Chocolate Hazelnut, Lemon Glaze, Cinnamon Sugar, and more. The secret to cutting the fat and calories? Bake ’em.

So, Hungry Lifers…what are  your all-time favorite cartoons? Who’s your favorite character? Which cartoons do your kids swear by? Do you have a healthy donut recipe? Please leave a comment and let us all know. Thanks!

March 10, 2015

9 Great Reads for National Reading Month

by Maria Schulz

Go ahead...read!

Go ahead…read!

Read Across America kicked off National Reading Month with its annual celebration of all things Dr. Seuss (since the good Dr.’s birthday was March 2). This means that PARP (Parents Are Reading Partners), your local PTA, and teachers all across America are celebrating this month with classic tales like Green Eggs and Ham, Horton Hears a Who, The Cat in the Hat, Hop on Pop, The Lorax, and many more of Dr. Seuss’s wonderful books.

How the grinch stole Christmas

My favorite Suessian take on life is How The Grinch Stole Christmas. I totally relate to the Grinch and his thoughts on The Who’s in Whoville, loud and annoying little kids, and other assorted Christmas craziness…but that’s probably just because I worked in retail for so long.

But books aren’t just for kids. Reading has always been something that simultaneously relaxed me and excited me. As Dr. Seuss said in another one of his books, “oh, the places you’ll go!” I can see the four corners of the world without ever leaving my couch as long as I’ve got a great book in my hands.

Let's read. And talk. And eat.

Let’s read. And talk. And eat.

One of my friends (a dedicated PARP-ette, PTA mom and fellow book lover) uses reading to get her off the couch, out of the kitchen, and on the treadmill at the gym. She picks a great book and only gets to enjoy it while racking up the miles. I think this is so clever, although Dr. Seuss could have written a book about me reading on the treadmill called I Just Might Vomit on a Treadmill Named Comet.

thing-one-and-thing-two

For those of you who do not like green eggs and ham, but still love reading, I’ve decided to share some of my favorite reads. Here are a few to get you started.

Now available on amazon.com

Now available on amazon.com

by Maria Schulz: Here’s a review taken off of Amazon from one of my satisfied readers: “If you are looking for a story that will touch your heart and make you laugh out loud, this book is a winner. With each chapter you will feel as if you are right in the middle of the hysterical antics of this fun loving family and it will leave you wishing you could be an honorary member of the Lagalante clan. I sure did!.”

the alchemist

The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo: Here is the story of an Andalusian shepherd boy who seeks travel, treasure, and a life of adventure. What he finds is life-changing wisdom about learning to listen to your heart and following your dreams. It’s a beautiful story and a quick read. Win/win

the girl on the train

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins: this book made me forget that I was packed into the cattle car known as the friendly skies, or that my 40 minute flight lasted 2 ½ hours. Who can say what’s real about other people’s lives, what’s the truth—and which people you can really trust?
everything I never told you

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng: there are three children in the Lee family, but only one of them is truly cherished. When death strikes, the Lees must confront all the things they thought they knew, and the things they never even imagined.

the rosie effect

The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion: here’s the sequel to the bestselling book, The Rosie Project. Don Tillman loves routines, stability, and the status quo…but he also loves Rosie, a wildcard if ever there was one. Now Don is in for a surprise he hasn’t planned for: he’s about to become a father! Funny, adorable, and entertaining.

So funny

So funny

Diary of a Mad Diva by Joan Rivers: this woman is still cracking me up with her irreverence, wit, and outrageous commentary on life, death, and everything in between. From the dedication page to the acknowledgements, Rivers keeps on serving up big laughs in this hilarious “diary.” I liked Diary of a Mad Diva so much I had to read it twice.

we were liars

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart: this quiet little book will pull you in and keep you riveted to your seats (or treadmills) until you get to the very last page. It’s about cousins and friends, greed and rivalry, joy and anger…and the lies we tell each other, and ourselves.

art-of-racing-in-the-rain

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein: this one’s for all the dog lovers I’ve ever known. At times funny and sad, heart wrenching and uplifting, it’s told from the family dog, Enzo’s, point of view. Pet lovers and non-pet-lovers will get a lot out of this beautiful story of love, loss, and family that is beautifully written and absolutely absorbing.

a dog's purpose

A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron: from the author of 8 Simple Rules for Marrying My Daughter, here comes another great book that follows a dog’s journey through many lives as he contemplates what his true purpose may be. This funny, sweet book delves into topics like love, compassion, and the universal quest for meaning. It’s a quick read too, and well worth it.

Recipe: 9 Hot Drinks

When I curl up on the couch with a great book, imagining myself in the heads of kings or queens, Every Man or Every Woman, I love a hot drink. From Mulled Apple Cider to Mexican spiced hot chocolate and Easy Chai Tea, you’ll find lots of great choices that you can make as decadent or diet-friendly as you like. They’re perfect for sipping and savoring as you get lost in a great book. Enjoy!

Delicious anytime

Delicious anytime

So, Hungry Lifers…what’s your favorite Dr. Seuss book? Is there a great book you’d like to share? What’s your favorite hot drink? Please leave a comment and let us all know. Thanks.

March 5, 2015

The Friends You Keep

by Maria Schulz

When you’re a child, you make friends easily. Friends are like a new sweater that you try on for size just to see how they fit. Some of them are too bulky—they make you hot and uncomfortable. Some of them are itchy—and you can’t wait to get rid of them. But sometimes, you find one that is warm, luxurious, and fits you so perfectly that you forget where they begin and you end. That friend is a keeper.

There’s something about this type of friend that makes you remember who you are, where you came from, and where you’re going. Life’s trajectory may separate you, but when you meet again, everything feels just right.

Reenie, Maria and Chris at St. Robert's Reunion

Reenie, Maria and Chris at St. Robert’s Reunion

I was reminded of this recently when I saw my childhood friend, Maureen. Reenie and I were completely inseparable until we graduated from St. Robert’s. She went off to Catholic high school and I went off to the big, scary, public high school (P.S. it wasn’t scary at all…I just didn’t know it then).

Reenie was tall and gorgeous, with blonde hair, blue eyes, an easy laugh, a great sense of humor, and a big heart. She knew how to dress (thanks to two older, beautiful sisters with great fashion sense), had hair that was always perfectly cut and feathered, and an easy confidence that I always admired.

I, on the other hand, was short and fat, with a Dorothy Hamill hairstyle that I could never completely get right. I could not put together an outfit to save my life, and was often teased for being dressed badly or for having the “wrong” hairstyle. Girls that age can be pretty cruel.

Two things saved me: I had a sense of humor, and I had a savior: Reenie. I wrote about this in my post, Enemies, Frenemies, and French Cruellers.

That time in your life when you’re too old for dolls and too young for grown up activities can be challenging. Some of your friends may be way ahead of you as far as boys and parties go. I wasn’t ready for any of it yet. My “favorite things to do list” looked something like this:

  1. Watch Dallas. I even wore an “I Shot JR” tee shirt

    Still fits

    Still fits

  2. Watch Guiding Light. Would Reva marry Josh…again? Would Nola convince Floyd to sleep with her so she could trap Kelly into marrying her and believing that Floyd’s baby was his? Would Roger Thorpe come back again? These were the burning questions from my youth

    The best bad guy ever.

    The best bad guy ever.

  3. Watch The Rockford Files. Every. Friday. Night. Plus weekdays, when it went into syndication

    Greatest. Show. Ever.

    Greatest. Show. Ever.

  4. Ride my bicycle all over town. I’m so glad I grew up at a time when you could go out to explore—either on your own or with a friend—and not have an adult safeguarding your every move and policing your every thought

    I like my bicycle

    I like my bicycle

  5. Bowling. Every Wednesday, and sometimes on the weekends

    STRIKE!

    STRIKE!

  6. Go to the movies. The Quartet in Flushing, The Bayside Theater on Bell Blvd., The Bay Terrace Twin, The Fresh Meadows Twin, The RKO Keiths, and The Prospect in Flushing were some of my regular stops. I saw everything from The China Syndrome and Being There to Jaws and The Muppet Movie.

    "We're going to need a bigger boat."

    “We’re going to need a bigger boat.”

  7. Baking. I could make a mean brownie, chocolate chip cookie, or crumb cake

    The crummier the better

    The crummier the better

  8. Talk on the phone, sometimes for hours. There was no call waiting and I was glad

    Go old school

    Go old school

  9. Play a mean game of Life, Battleship, Clue, and Monopoly. Was it Colonel Mustard in the Library with the Candlesticks? You decide.

    It's a hit!

    It’s a hit!

  10. Walk and play with our dogs, have sleepovers, and talk, talk, talk. It was a relief to have friends that I could talk to about everything from Donna Summer’s Hot Stuff (no disco was allowed in my house…my rock-n-roll loving brothers would have performed an exorcism on me) to our beloved pets, favorite books, best-loved movies and TV shows, and the always mystifying topic of boys.

    How about some Hot Stuff?

    How about some Hot Stuff?

I was lucky enough to have Reenie there by my side—at the movies, on the phone, riding bikes, walking the dogs, in front of the TV, and by the stove. We stayed friends even as new experiences took us away from each other.

When my mother died, I called Reenie because I wanted to talk to someone who knew my mother before the Alzheimer’s. Unfortunately, her mother just passed away from Alzheimer’s too.

At her mother’s wake, I thought of all the times her mother drove us back and forth, took us to Church carnivals, or dropped us off at a movie theater. I remembered seeing Mrs. R. at school functions, waving and smiling at me. I smiled when I remembered Friday night Lenten meals at Mrs. R.’s house, including Spaghetti and eggs or Mac and Cheese. As I spoke to her beautiful daughters, I thought of her easy laugh and how beautiful she was too.

It made me think of all of the friends I have from that time, and how lucky I was to know each of their families. I hope my children’s friends will look back someday and remember me smiling, welcoming them, and cooking for them too.

Baked-Macaraoni-and-Cheese.jpg.rend.sni12col.landscape

Recipe: Mac and Cheese

My mom never made Macaroni and Cheese, but Mrs. R. made it one Friday night in Lent and I was hooked. Here’s a recipe from Alton Brown that looks easy and delicious.

So…do you have an old friend who just “fits?” What’s your favorite comfort food (if you’re not Catholic) or ’Friday night in Lent food’? (if you are)? Which friends have you “kept?” Please leave a comment and let us all know. Thanks!

January 28, 2015

Welcome To My Snow Coma

by Maria Schulz

The last few days around here were filled with dire warnings about the blizzard that was on its way. The meteorologists got so excited, they even gave it a name: Blizzard Juno. I don’t remember anything but hurricanes getting names when I was a kid. My how times have changed. I would’ve loved that a hundred years ago! Believe it or not there was a time when I thought that there was nothing better than a blizzard. That was back in the day when I could look forward to things like:

Gene Gene The Dancing Machine & Chuckie B dance!

Gene Gene The Dancing Machine & Chuckie B dance!

  • No School: who doesn’t like a snow day when they’re a kid? I loved being able to sleep late, watch The Gong Show at 12:30 pm, and not even have to run back to class before I found out who won the “unusual prize” of $516.32
  • Making a snowman. My kids had a snow man kit that they loved that included a corn cob pipe, top hat, jaunty scarf, coal eyes and a fake carrot nose. We made a game of finding sticks that could double as arms, preferably with twigs that resembled fingers. Of course, when I was young, no one that I knew had any such kit, so our snow men usually wore whatever hat we could lay our hands on, a bubble pipe, button eyes if we could in fact find any, and any old rag that could double as a scarf. We couldn’t even find sticks that resembled arms, much less ones with twig fingerssnowman
  • Sleigh riding, minus the sleigh. We barely had a hat for our snow man, much less a real, unbroken sled. Garbage lids worked well, and so did the broken sled that you couldn’t steer or stop in any way. What were those cars doing out anyway?
  • Bumper jumping: since I’m a good girl, I will say that I never, ever went bumper jumping. That’s mainly because my mother filled my head with lots of stories about those “bad” kids who latched onto a bumper and promptly got trapped under the back of the car, only to meet their sad, sorry deaths. When I was young, I bought this, because I believed everything my mother told me. However, as I got older, I realized there were lots of stories about girls being dragged to their deaths whenever they were doing something my mother didn’t want me to do, including riding a motorcycle, roller skating while tethered to the back of my brother’s bikes, or bumper jumping. But there was a “bad girl” in the grade below me that wrote dirty poems on the bathroom stalls, mouthed off to the nuns, and was a champion bumper jumper. Kathy H, you live on in my memory for your incredible bumper jumping skills and your suicidal tendencies when it came to the nuns. Brava!football
  • Touch football, or on really icy days, full contact football. My favorite games had rosters that included Jude, Cindy, Louie, Paul, Joey, Chris, me, and our next door neighbor, Anthony. No one expected me to be any good, because after all, I was short, fat, and a girl. Cindy got a pass because she was pretty. I shocked everyone because I could catch and run…especially since I was the only one smart enough to wear snow boots. My legendary touchdown run from the corner of 214th street to the lamppost in front of Mrs. McG’s house still makes me wonder why my football days are over
  • Snow Angels: watch me! Watch me! I can lay on this here cold, freezing snow, wave my arms like a lunatic, and when I get up, it will look just like the Archangel Gabriel (there’s a little Catholic schoolgirl humor for you). Which, by the way, was my second miracle! Could sainthood be far off for me? For those of you who read this blog (besides my father), you may recall that my first miracle was surviving Catholic school to begin with. And by that, I mean mainly not getting decapitated by the nuns with their samurai swords, err, yardsticks
  • Watching out the window for the first snowflakes to fall, singing: Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!
  • Hanging out in my Mick Jagger loving friend’s room, listening to Sympathy for the Devil. Or Mother’s Little Helper. Or 19th Nervous Breakdown. Or Brown Sugar! At other friends’ houses, it might be Jessie’s Girl, Church of the Poison Mind, or Time Warp from Rocky Horror Motion Picture Show. We had to stay inside because we were too old to make snow angels or go bumper jumping…even though that’s what we would’ve really liked to do

    He's got the moves like Jagger

    I’ve got the moves like Jagger

Unfortunately, my last few days passed in a “The Blizzard is Coming! The Blizzard is Coming”-induced coma that included:

Such a troublemaker

Such a troublemaker

  • A raging head cold, body aches, fever, and nausea that made me really cranky and in no mood whatsoever for bumper jumping
  • Eye-balling all the trees in my yard, and praying that none of them would make a midnight visit upon my head while I slept thanks to the predicted 50 mile per hour winds
  • Snow that managed to be powdery AND weigh about a ton when you had to shovel it Also great for walking your dog in case you want to lose him/her in a snow bank

    Think happy thoughts

    Think happy thoughts

  • Visions of no electricity for another 3 weeks dancing in my head
  • Fears of ending up stranded in my car on the side of the LIE under an avalanche of snow when my office refused to close early and I had to drive home in white out conditions
  • Days and days of gearing up for the HISTORIC SNOWSTORM that necessitated getting all of the milk, bread and eggs we could stuff into our carts…because, as my husband said, we desperately need it for our Emergency French Toast

    Once more, with feeling

    Once more, with feeling

  • Standing by the window saying, “Blizzard Juno, Blizzard Juno…wherefore art thou, Blizzard Juno?” I have to tell you, it’s loads of fun living with an English major
  • Cabin fever/real fever dreams that had me dancing to Mother’s Little Helper, Church of the Poison Mind, and Jessie’s Girl. Hey, some things never change.
Perfect for snow emergencies

Perfect for snow emergencies

RECIPE: EMERGENCY FRENCH TOAST!

Actually, this is just a simple French toast recipe from Robert Irvine that I found on Food Network, but I thought my husband’s suggestion was a great one. Use the eggs, milk, and bread you’ve got to make any snow day fun again.

FYI: Snowmageddon has come and gone, and we are all safe and sound. Here’s a big shout out to my DH (darling husband, not designated hitter) and my DD (darling daughters) for taking care of me while I was sick. Now that I’m better, I just want to say: I’ll be outside with my football and snow boots, if anyone wants to play.

So, Hungry Lifers…what’s your favorite snow day memory? How much snow did you get? Did you have your Emergency French Toast? Please leave a comment and let us all know. Thanks!

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