Fall – What’s your favorite home cooked meal?

Fall started over night. We had pleasant weather this past weekend and suddenly the temperatures dropped to the 50s. I had to pull out the long john’s, find my winter shoes, and sweaters. Oh boy, it’s COLD. I got a kick out of a lady who still wanted to wear her summer dress and added a parka to it. REALLY, I think it’s time to retire summer clothes to the back of the closet.

Of course, Fall weather has us wanting home cooked comfort meals. I was at the store, they had a special on asparagus. I really like asparagus. My ex/mother/n/law was not the greatest cook. She’s German and cooked a lot of potatoes. In fact, to this day, my ex/husband does not want potatoes. Ah, he’ll eat french fries, but NO BOILED potatoes, NEVER. She didn’t enjoy cooking, but she ALWAYS, and I mean ALWAYS made asparagus soup for ALL holidays. So, in honor of my ex/mother/n/law, I made asparagus soup. Sent picture to my ex/husband and daughters saying, “THINKING OF OMI.”

Next in line, boiled chicken. In cold temperatures, I really enjoy Matzo Ball soup. I’m not Jewish, not sure when I started liking this soup, but it’s a favorite. Soups are so healthy for us.

My Italian mother always made bean soup. She didn’t really venture off from this. It’s a good hearty soup, no question about that. I guess next in line would be chili. I like it OCCASIONALLY, but it would not be my “go to” comfort food.

A woman posted her meal with delicata squash. It looked good, I want to try it. I admit, I’ve never been drawn to the squash family of vegetables. I need to venture out a bit, right. A lot to choose from. Winter varieties include butternut, acorn, delicata, pumpkin, hubbard, kabocha and spaghetti squashes.

So, here’s to FALL and home cooking. Memories from childhood.

What’s YOUR favorite comfort food in cold weather?

HEALTH: Broken Bones – Can they hurt later in life?

This photo resembles how I felt today. I was trying to open a glass jar of red cabbage. Goal, get the button on the top of the lid to pop. Since COVID my left wrist hurts when I try to open jars/cans. THAT jar and others would not open, no matter what I tried.

Is this significant? Well, when I was around 10 years old I played a game with my twin brother. My parents’ home had a hill on the side of it. We loved to run down the hill, as fast as we could, and see WHO could touch the side of the brick house first!

As we became more competitive, when our two hands hit, not touched, the side of the brick house the impact on our hands/wrists was quite strong. Basically, we used the wall to stop ourselves.

Well, you probably guessed what happened. The last time we ran down the hill, determined to beat my twin brother, I got to the side of the house first, hit the wall and SNAP. My hand/wrist went funny.

I still remember that weird feeling we get when we’ve sprained our ankle, slight dizziness, nausea in stomach. I was not feeling well. I had to hold on to my hand. We immediately went inside to have my mother assess the situation. She’s Italian, imagine the “Oh Gesù.”

At first she didn’t believe us. In her mind, we were supposed to be playing “nicely” outside. How could THIS happen?? As my wrist started to swell up, it was clear, something was wrong. She had me take my t-shirt off, SO PAINFUL. She was guessing if I needed a cast, there would be no way to get the t-shirt off later with cast on. So, I slipped on one of my Dad’s button down shirts.

Off to the Doctor we went. Sure enough, broken wrist. Back then they had these very HOT plaster strips they wrapped around my hand up to my elbow to form the cast. I was given a sling and so began my 6 weeks of “no fun.” Hard to sleep at night with such a heavy cast too. Anyhow, it was fun having people sign it. However, it got so itchy inside that after a while, I thought I would go INSANE.

Fast Forward — over 40 years later and suddenly that SAME wrist is giving me issues. I find that interesting. I only feel a bit of funny pain when I try to open a can or a jar. You know the tough ones where the button on the lid has to pop up. Otherwise, my wrist is perfectly fine.

Haven’t people said they’ve had bone/joint pain after COVID?

Pondering this. Thoughts? Anyone with similar issues after COVID?

OR — LOL — Are you going to say, “Welcome to OLD age, HONEY!”

Queen Elizabeth II – She would have been PROUD!

Yesterday, I couldn’t sleep. I woke up at 2:30 AM CT. Annoyed, I turned on the TV.

I GOT SO LUCKY!

My annoyance was short lived. Suddenly, I was watching the BBC Channel, so many amazing back stories about the Queen and her generosity. Heart warming to hear them all.

I was able to see the Bagpipers. They were INCREDIBLE! If I had not been up, I would have missed them.

The funeral had so many amazing moments. We have not seen something so regal like this in years.

The weather was beautiful too. I found this picture of The Queen in yellow. How perfect since the sun came out for her yesterday. Someone interviewed said there was a rainbow the day before.

I LOVED how she had her signature style. ALWAYS the same hat / dress / coat, but in a variety of vibrant colors. Just wonderful! We always knew it was her!

She had two funerals yesterday. They were absolutely beautiful. This gave us time to be at peace.

One young man who was in the procession said he met King Charles. The interviewer asked, “What did he say?”

The young man, not used to being on camera, was nervous, but finally shared, “The King said his mother liked drills and precision, so to be precise.”

AND BY GOSH – THEY WERE ALL PRECISE!!

The young men who carried the coffin were incredible. I’ve moved furniture with another person, it’s hard going up stairs with a heavy load. They did it perfectly!

I wish she could have seen it!

The Queen would have have given her beautiful smile, waived and been PROUD!

A job well done!

We will miss you!

Important – Do you know how to flag down a Helicopter?

I saw this in the Colorado news, thought I would share it. Do you know how to flag down a helicopter?

There are certain hand signals to use. Waving one hand like you are saying, “Hi” is not one of them.

I think many of us are shaking our heads at this. I’ve never thought about this as “training” we need. By instinct, if we were in distress, we would desperately wave both hands in the air to get the attention of the pilot. No way, would we want him leave without us on board.

The one hand wave. Benefit of the doubt, maybe the hiker was overly tired, could tell the pilot saw him and just expected the pilot to stop and pick him up? I find these situations maddening. WHO is paying for the helicopter to go rescue a hiker? And if the hiker is just “tired” and not really in distress, was this a true S.O.S call or a hiker feeling that he wanted a “FREE ride home?”

I’m sharing this, because I never thought about it before.

So, this is a powerful lesson. WAVE like CRAZY with TWO HANDS if you are stranded and see a helicopter flying over head. The same routine we would use if we saw a bear, right! Except with the bear, we do this to SCARE him away, with the helicopter, we are BEGGING him to land.

BY THE WAY – Anyone know what the hand signals are for crossing the street? You know, that instant where you lock eyes with the driver at a stop sign. He’s waving you to go ahead walk, you wave HIM to go ahead drive. Finally, you start to walk, but WHAT hand signal do you give to say, “Thanks, appreciate it, don’t run me over?” It gets so confusing. I’ve had that happen several times lately.

Happy hiking, camping or whatever outdoor activity you might be doing.

BE SAFE out there!

Gardening… What happened? Shortage of Dijon mustard?

On my walk the other day, I saw this garden. Oh, no! First, what happened to this poor bush? Second, it resembles our chaotic world right now.

I was just reading that in France there is a shortage of Dijon mustard. Due to climate change and the war in Ukraine, there is a shortage of mustard seeds. Did you know that? Did you know that Canada supplies half of the worlds supply of mustard seeds? However, because of heat and a drought these past few years, their supply has been low. This is heart breaking for the farmers.

I looked up where a mustard seed comes from. It’s this yellow flower. See next photo a field of these flowers. Beautiful! The BBC has a great article, a little bit long, but explains the Dijon situation, “Why there’s no ‘Dijon’ in Dijon mustard,” by Emily Monaco, August 17, 2022.

After reading the article on Dijon, guess what I bought yesterday? YES, I got some Dijon mustard. I do enjoy it on a sandwich, with a sausage, hamburger and hot dog. I had no idea there was a shortage.

With climate change, we are starting to appreciate what we took for granted in so many different products / industries, right. Also, learning where / how foods that we have enjoyed come from.

Many people I know are starting to have their own organic gardens. The tomatoes are AMAZING! Same with the raspberries and blackberries. Oh and snap peas. I enjoyed seeing how asparagus grows.

Soon, we might all have our own organic gardens. Share with our neighbors.

Life as we knew it is changing rapidly.

Fruit – Why are they so BIG now?

I ask you, should a peach be that LARGE? What happened to fruit? Peaches, nectarines, apples – they’ve all gotten so big. I thought of “James and the Giant Peach,” when I saw this large one.

There was a huge section of large peaches, nectarines, apples. I had to scout around to find normal small size fruit, I did find a few as you can see. The large fruit has no flavor. Also, if I am taking a fruit with me for lunch, I only need one portion size, not two portions. How about kids? How can we encourage them to eat fruit if we can’t give them normal small size?

First the chicken was plumped up, now fruit. Portion sizes for everything keep getting bigger and bigger. We really don’t need such big portions. It’s not healthy for us, for sure.

Maybe it’s just in the Midwest.

Anyone else notice this at your grocery stores?

Goats on Chicago River Cruise, ComEd celebrates, job well done!

Finally, a feel good story coming out of Chicago. We need more stories like this in the news. Sharing, so you have a SMILE today.

ComEd uses about 200 goats to clear out vegetation under hard to reach power lines.

Kiko goats have hearty appetites, they can graze through 1 acre of land in a week. Nice to see them taking their jobs seriously. They are on loan from Goats on the Go. While they seem small, they do have a strong stature.

I’ll be smiling all day!

Here’s to the start of September and working hard — ALL OF US — goats included!

Eating Healthy: Oatmeal or Cream of Rice

Do you eat a lot of oatmeal? This morning, in memory of my ex/father/n/law, I ate oatmeal. He was a retired Doctor from Germany. He LOVED oatmeal! He had his ritual. He would microwave a packet of oatmeal, stir in one packet of sweetener (yellow one) and then add cream on top. FINISHED – nothing else, ie fruit/nuts, etc. Toward the end, at 99, all he would ask for was “oatmeal.”

My Italian mother, on the other hand, preferred cream of rice. Probably because it reminded her of polenta. Although, she never made polenta for us. She would cook cream of rice (for 4 kids) and stir in one raw egg. Since the cream of rice was hot, stirring in the egg cooked it. Voila – breakfast served.

My mother enjoyed something else. She would take a raw egg, some sugar and whip/whip/whip it with a fork until it was creamy like a custard and then she would eat it. Did she cook it? I don’t remember seeing her cook it, I will ask her, but I remember thinking how “odd” that was and worried she’d get SICK!

So, WHAT was IT in your house growing up — OATMEAL or CREAM of RICE?

A Message from God — On a $1 bill… YES!

The other day, I was heading out the door to walk. I picked up cell phone, keys and “last minute” decided I should bring a few dollars, just in case. The just in case scenario was for the “end of the walk.”

Inevitably, it always happens. I’m at the end of my walk, tired with NO $$ to stop at grocery store or get a coffee. Better yet, get a $2 Lottery Ticket, never know when LUCK might strike, right. I have Apple Wallet, but have not found a grocery store that accepts it.

As I took a few dollar bills, I SAW this one with a Psalm on it. I’m Catholic, the guilt set in, this is a spiritual message, I was meant to see it — STOP — look up the Psalm. If I merely put the $1 in my pocket without looking up the Psalm, my entire walk would be ruined. Why, because in the back of my mind, I’d be thinking what could the Psalm be about, why was I meant to see it?

As you can see, a powerful Psalm indeed!

Imagine me on my walk. I was thinking/wondering — WHO wrote that Psalm, WHY did they choose that one, and WHY did they write it on the dollar bill? So many scenarios.

The Psalm brought back painful memories of when I was laid off two different jobs within seven years. YES, I went through tough times. I did stop by church, I never begged God; however, I did ask, “WHY” and “WHAT was my direction?” In early 50s, it was hard to find a job. NOW, employers are begging for employees. What a difference a few years makes, COVID changed everything.

So, I share this with you.

If you received this Psalm, what would you immediately think?

Squirrel Follow-Up –> What’s he eating?

Remember the Squirrel from last week with that HUGE — piece of FOOD — in his mouth? Nobody knew what it could be. Such an odd “thing.”

Well, guess what, I happened to walk by a tree and as I looked on the ground, I saw it! Yes, I saw, “IT.” I saw what the squirrel had in his mouth. I picked the weird thing up. It was VERY STICKY, like sap. Imagine my surprise when it was sticking to my fingers, felt prickly and I could NOT let go of it. I had to fling it off. Horror of horrors.

As I looked at it, I noticed there were more at the bottom of the tree. So, I peered up into the tree and LOOK what I saw. YES, a bunch of them growing on the branch.

I’ve NEVER seen a tree with these “things” in my entire life.

I stopped people as they walked by asking what tree this was, NO LUCK! So, I did searches online. Challenging, since I didn’t know what search words to use — “sticky spikey ball in tree?”

Needless to say, my searches didn’t pull up much. THEN a brainstorm, I have a friend who used to work at the arboretum. She must know this tree, right?

She messaged, it’s a HAZLENUT tree.

I went back to the tree for further inspection. See photo of where the nuts were. The nuts are protected inside a green leaf-like hairy bract with ragged edges. Nuts in clusters of 2-5.

I LOVE hazelnuts, so this was a GREAT find.

No wonder the squirrel was dodging me left to right! He thought I was after his hazelnuts!

And you know what — NEXT TIME, I might just go after him!

Have you watched that show on Netflix called, “ALONE?” One participant was desperate for food, it was winter, hard to find food. A squirrel had stashed away mushrooms at the top of a tree. The participant cut the tree down to get the mushrooms. He apologized to the squirrel (who wasn’t there), “Everyone for himself in the wilderness! We’ve got to SURVIVE!”

Great wilderness show if you haven’t seen it!

I will have more appreciation for the hazelnuts in Nutella, Loacker wafers, Ferrero Rocher, Godiva, and Kinder Buono chocolates now!

Don’t you LOVE life’s surprises! Thank you, Mr. Squirrel!