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!

Sardinia, Italy — Get paid to LIVE on the Island?

I know, you are thinking what I thought. What’s the catch? We need more specifics. Sardinia is the second largest Island (after Sicily) in the Mediterranean Sea. The Island is in green on the map.

When I was there a few years ago, there were not many American tourists. Mainly they were British and German. Also, I noticed that the Sardinians look very Spanish. They speak Sardo, not Italian. I mean, it’s Italian, but the dialect is very very different. In fact, if you read the history of the Island, through the wars, they have a strong Spanish influence.

Fast forward to now. The Sardinian Government wants to attract young people to remote areas of the Island. Goal – increase population and economic fabric of those towns. Small towns, less than 3,000 people, are in decline. People have been moving to bigger cities.

SOLUTION: Offer a grant of €15,000 to attract young people to those small towns. The grant amount must be used toward the purchase / refurbishment of a house, not to exceed half the cost of the house.

The grant is a non-repayable grant. I wonder, is a time limit for “trying” this process out? Living in a small town of 3,000 might seem claustrophobic if you came from a big city.

BIGGEST QUESTION, will Wifi work? Also, if these are small towns, I would imagine they want people who can own shops, work the land, etc. Are they open to remote technology workers?

The Sardinian Government is devoting a total of €45 million for this project; there will be enough for at least 3,000 new inhabitants.

Now, if Sardinia is not appealing, I was reading that Spain and Scotland are offering similar programs.

Time to open a map of the world — throw a dart — see where life takes us.

Squirrel – What is that in his mouth?

I got so lucky. This squirrel posed for the camera. Look how close I got. You can tell he is hesitant. Wondering if he’s going to have to FIGHT to keep his… WHAT IS THAT in his mouth?

It started like this. I was out walking. I saw this squirrel on the sidewalk. I immediately STOPPED, because he was so darn cute with that HUGE root, dead flower (couldn’t place it) in his mouth.

At first, he wasn’t aware of me. When he got to the top of the fence… THEN I could tell, he was starting to think I “might” be a threat. You can see in his eyes and stance that he knew he had to ACT FAST or he might lose this HUGE food item. That is the motherland!

He happened to turn, I got another GREAT photo. Here he’s making an “assessment” of the situation.

This was the highlight of my walk. I’ve never gotten this close to a squirrel before. They are usually so fast to run away. Photography has become so easy with our phones. Fun getting these photos.

So, I ask you, “WHAT is that in his mouth?”

Vacuum – How long since YOU changed filters?

I love my blue Kenmore vacuum. It’s 10+ years old. Back then Kenmore was just introducing colored machines. You can tell, this is a funky blue, but I FELL IN LOVE with it.

Me and my blue machine, on top of the world. Cleaning became fun! Similar to a bike or a car, if you LOVE the color, suddenly transportation is a joy.

Lately though, the vacuum wasn’t working properly. This little guy was pushing himself. I vacuumed and felt sad. In the back of my mind thinking, “IS THIS THE END?”

No, it can’t be!!

Before throwing in the towel, I needed to roll up my sleeves, check under the hood, find the product number, Google search, etc. Leave no stone unturned. SAVE my vacuum!!

Sure, I was a girl, not a mechanic, but there is YouTube, I could do this!! I didn’t need a vacuum repair shop… not YET!

A miracle! THANK YOU, KENMORE. The information sticker on my machine was still there. Kenmore telephone number still worked!! Hallelujah!

I spoke to a lovely Kenmore Customer Service Rep. She found my OLD Model #. She said I had two filters. An air filter and motor filter. What? Where? She sent me link to old manual.

WELL — I found the filters. Look at photos. I’m so EMBARRASSED!

No wonder my machine was MAD and not working. The air filter is supposed to be changed a few times a year. That is one dirty air filter!

LESSON LEARNED – change filters, teach daughters vacuum maintenance.

END RESULT — new filters, my machine works at full speed now. Fabulous!

Now, for the cover, it sounds like it will break when I lift it.

Am I BRAVE enough to unscrew the cover and sort that out?

I’m contemplating this…. Youtube, here I come.

August – One more thing to do BEFORE summer ends.

DO A PUZZLE!

Puzzle of choice – BEACH FUN. I like the White Mountain brand. This one looked challenging, lots of kids/sail boats and color.

MY REWARD!

When I opened the box, RIGHT ON TOP, a puzzle piece with a HEART on it. So darn CUTE!

I immediately searched for the heart in the puzzle picture. WHERE did that piece go? It took me FOREVER to find the heart in the picture.

HOW FAST —->>> Can YOU find it??

Lets have some summer fun!

Memories – HAUSER, Waltz No. 2

HAUSER the famous cellist…. Waltz No. 2 was written by Dmitri Shostakovich, a Soviet-era Russian composer and pianist. This Suite for Jazz Orchestra No. 2 was written in 1938 for the newly founded State Jazz Orchestra of Victor Knushevitsky, and was premiered on 28 November 1938 in Moscow (Moscow Radio) by the State Jazz Orchestra.

When Shostakovich began piano lessons at the age of nine it was clear he had musical talent. He was one of the major composers of the 20th century.

After reading Dave’s post, ”Child’s Play,” on Life In A Word, I was inspired to listen to Hauser play Waltz No. 2 on YouTube. Thanks, Dave. I hope you all enjoy it too.

Have an enjoyable weekend everyone!

Italy – Sending postcards…

When was the last time you sent a postcard? For me, it’s been years. It’s so easy to snap a photo and send it via text or email. DONE! Taking time to write a postcard, buy the stamp and mail it seems “archaic.” Real EFFORT would have to be put into that process, right!

At my hotel, they had a small entry way. There were people ahead of me to check in. I was standing next to — drum roll — a bunch of postcards. To pass the time…

I started looking them over, remembering how my daughters send me postcards when they are on a trip. I always enjoy the surprise card in the mail. EFFORT = LOVE

So, I decided, I should surprise them in return. I bought two Trevi Fountain postcards.

I wrote:

Just threw THREE COINS in Trevi Fountain. ONE was mine. ONE was your Sister’s. ONE is YOURS! MAKE YOUR WISH! Love, Mama XOXO

Hopefully, they receive the card, so they can make their wish.

When I asked where to buy a stamp, I was told to go to the newsstand. At the newsstand, the fellow gave me my stamps and when I asked WHERE to mail the cards, he pointed to this little yellow mailbox below the postcards.

I had a BIG smile, going back in time.

I admit, I wondered if it was legitimate. It looked cute, but it was in such an odd place.

I asked for confirmation.

The fellow nodded his head — YES!

So, in the box, my postcards went.

Now, to see if they will be delivered!

I made MY WISH! They need to make THEIRS!

I enjoyed THINKING of something clever to write.

Oh, I learned that the Vatican area has it’s own stamps. So, if you mail something through a Vatican mailbox, it must have a Vatican postage stamp on it.

GPS mail — I think on the receipt there was a bar code to scan. If I can find that, I might be able to track my postcards. That would be interesting… right!

Beloved Pizza — NO MORE

Something STRANGE happened when I was in Italy.

I did not like the pizza!

I KNOW… How could that be?

I’ve ALWAYS enjoyed the Italian pizza, but this time. NOPE! In Florence, the pizza crust was terrible. Maybe it was meant to be a healthy version, don’t know, but it’s texture was like cardboard. I could barely eat it. This is a place I have frequented over the years, so it should have been delicious. My heart sank.

In Rome, the pizza crust was so thin it made the pizza soggy, I could barely eat it. Also, they had big chunks of mozzarella cheese on top. When I took a bite and tried to swallow, I thought I would choke. My daughter said the same thing happened to her when she was in Rome. She could not eat their mozzarella cheese. This has never happened before. Soooo… has the texture of mozzarella cheese changed?

I felt the SAME about the sandwiches. I used to LOVE and CRAVE salami, prosciutto, mortadella. It’s the BEST in Italy. We would have this with my grandmother at home at lunch. Put the bread on the table, cut slices and open all the different lunch meat packages, pick and choose what we wanted.

What sadness, really!

I had to think. Had the food changed or did COVID change my taste buds? I’ve never tested positive for COVID, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have it over the past 2 1/2 years. Was it the weather, high 90s, little interest in food?

Oh… it GETS WORSE!

I didn’t care for gelato either. My gosh, this is a major Italian taste bud issue, right! Who doesn’t enjoy a gelato. I did eat it, but I had no sense of this is so fantastic, like I did BEFORE COVID.

GOOD NEWS — Drinking a Fanta with ice cubes was enjoyable and my tastes buds were working. PHEW, so it wasn’t a COVID issue.

Oh, and my FAVORITE cookies — Atene, my grandmother would have these. My taste buds were GOOD. Thank goodness!! I would have been sad to have those memories taken away. Here is what they look like. They are a heavier type of cookie, good with coffee or tea.

I do think that the taste of food is changing around the world. They, whomever they are, keep trying to genetically enhance meat, fruit, vegetable products and more. There are constantly fraud issues with prosciutto. If you Google, you can read about it.

So — I’m hoping it was the extreme heat that changed my taste buds. I was happy that my daughter said she experienced the same feelings on her trip to Italy, so it wasn’t just “me.”

Soon we will all start having our own organic gardens, so we can trust our produce!