Wednesday, July 30, 2008


I have an easy recipe for a light summer dessert with strawberries and blueberries. At this time of the year they are bursting with flavor. After hulling and halving the strawberries, place them in a bowl and sprinkle with 2 tablespoon powdered sugar and 1/3 cup of your favorite liquor ( cognac, brandy etc.) let it stand for an hour. This application draws out the juices from the strawberries and produces thick and tasty syrup. Add blueberries to this mixture. Place a slice of pound cake or angel food cake on a plate and put the berry mixture over the cake with a dollop of ice cream or whipped cream and pour the syrup over everything. Peaches can be substituted for strawberries. It is soo DELICIOUS... .

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Did you ever think about the English language? I did and I became more confused than ever. Like why do we "park" in the "driveway" but drive in the "parkway"? When we a have "yard or garage sale", are we selling our yard or garage? How about the "hot dog"? Are we eating a dog that's hot? Why does a" night cap "mean a drink before bedtime but not something we wear to bed? Anyway, my interest in the language takes me back to the etymology and pun on words. For instance "Palindrome" refers to a word or text that can be read the same back words, like "Mom" or "Wow". "Portmanteau word" refers to a blend of words like "Brunch" (breakfast and lunch) and "Smog"(smoke and fog). And then there are words that are pronounced the same but have completely different meanings and spellings.They are referred to as "Homophones" like, "Maid made the the bed" "Reigns are rained on" etc. "Neologism" on the other hand refers to a made-up or coined word. For example, "My dog Ginger was so human like I nick named her "Hominique".
No matter how much quirkiness we find in a language it is a skill that one should master to be able to communicate more effectively with one another. After all, many world famous authors have mastered this art. Thus we have literary classics and linguistic masters.

Saturday, July 26, 2008


My husband is an avid reader. Whenever he has time and whatever he can get his hands on be it history, fiction non- fiction, best sellers, bad sellers, sports, he'll read . Recently he came across an article about Mark Twain and found his books in our little library among his saved books from his high school ( yes we even have books from his childhood). Anyway I asked him to write me an article about his latest find and here it is:

Approaching age 60, I recently read for the first time both "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" and "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn", the 19th century classical literary works written by Mark Twain. For some reason, they were never required reading in the schools I attended and I never had an interest to read them on my own.

I was inspired to do so by a recent article I read in "Time" magazine about the life and legacy of Mark Twain ( nee Samuel Clemens) the great American writer. It peaked my interest to read these books. I found both books in my library, apparently having owned them for many years, oxidizing and unread. Once started I could not stop reading them. Each is a masterfully written exciting tale about the adventures of young men living in the USA circa the mid 1800's. Not only did each entertain me with its clever writing style, each also gave me a vivid portrait of American life, culture and society in that bygone era.

Although I regret not having read these great American classics earlier in my life, it just goes to show you that it's NEVER TOO LATE.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


Years ago I used to visit an old church near my high school. Whenever I had a pressing issue I would go there and light a candle. The name of that church was San Antoine. I am not one who follows organized disciplines or views of religion. I follow my heart. I said prayers at different houses of worship. I believe that everything that is said with a pure heart is a prayer. Anyway few years ago I was leafing through the mail and I came across a piece of mail asking for donation. Among various donation requests we received this one stood out. This was St. Anthony (San Antoine) . I mailed in my donation along with a request for prayers for an acquaintance who was going through difficult time. A few weeks later the same card appeared with a medallion in it. All of a sudden I had a flash back. I realized that one particular wish that I had made years ago had come through, so I send in a donation. I received another medallion. I then decided that as long as I have a medallion I would give it to someone who needed encouragement and hope. Recently one of my husband's client's came to the office and told us about the battle she was going through with cancer. Being a cancer survivor myself I tried to counsel her. I hesitated to give her a medallion only because she was of a different religious persuasion. Nevertheless with the medallion and a prayer card in my hand I approached her and just as I was about to explain her my story, she saw the card and joyfully rose from her chair and exclaimed that she was looking for St. Anthony prayers and medallion. I was speechless. She took the them from me with gratitude and tears in her eyes. I had tears in my eyes also.

I leave my story to the reader's interpretation and imagination. People can deduce what they want and I respect that. Here is a brief summary of St. Anthony's life.

He was born in 1195 in Lisbon, Portugal. He was ordained in the early 1200's. His sermons were noted for their eloquence and persuasiveness. In 1226 he settled in Padua, Italy where he tirelessly worked to help the poor and the sick. He died at the age of 36 in 1231. He was canonized a saint the year following his death and declared Doctor of the Church in 1946 by Pope Pius XII. He is known as the "Miracle Worker".

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Would you believe that this is not spaghetti ??. Well, it isn't. It is spaghetti squash. It is a vegetable which when prepared tastes and looks like its pasta counterpart. Great for vegetarians and it is a novel and fun way to feed children their vegetables. Here is the easy recipe.

1 spaghetti squash cut in half and seeded. Turn fleshy side down on a oven tray lined with aluminium foil and brush the rind with olive oil. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes (depending on your oven). Wait until cool to touch then with a fork gently scrape away the flesh from its rind on to a platter. Put a ladle full (or more) pasta sauce on top, grate your favorite cheese. You'll receive kudos from your family and friends with this surprise dish. ENJOY.

Monday, July 14, 2008


My next door neighbor's cat Alex
doesn't go out much. He is thirteen years old but he looks much younger. He is a beautiful tabby cat (but I still remain faithful to my GINGER's memory). Tonight when Alex graced us with his presence I was able to take some nice pictures of him. I caught him in between his "meows" he looks like he is telling me that he had just about enough of this picture taking !!

Saturday, July 12, 2008


You could make a beautiful floral arrangement with your garden flowers. Just trim the flower stems under running water to keep them fresh longer. Running water stops air from getting into stems, thus making them stay fresh. If you stick the stems through the leaves of the other flowers you don't need a florist's sponge to keep them upright. Tie a pretty bow on a simple vase and voila' you have an expertly arranged bouquet.

I also dry cut lavender flowers in small vases with a pretty bows tied around their stems in different rooms all summer long. Once they dry I put the dried flowers in a small sachet bags and hang them either in my linen or dress closet. To retain their sweet scent longer I roll the bag gently between my palms.

The picture on the left is lavender, the picture on the right is lilac from the begining of the season. The lavender sachet next to the fresh cut flowers is made out of tulle. I thought the colors complemented my theme. Lilacs have sweet scent but they don't last long in vases. I've tried different methods to keep them longer unfortunately they have a short life span indoors.


I don't remember where I found this allegory or who the author is but I liked it so much that I translated it to English and wanted to share it with everybody. It conjures up thoughts. I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I have.
The values common to men-HAPPINESS, LOVE, WEALTH, ARROGANCE, SORROW and WISDOM, lived on an island. One day there came an announcement that the island was about to sink and everyone had to evacuate. All but one left the island on a boat. This exception was "Love". "Love" waited patiently until the island was covered with water and eventually sunk then called for help. The first to hear this call was "Wealth". "Wealth" came near "Love" and asked what it wanted. "Love" said it needed to be rescued. "Wealth" replied:"My boat is filled with gold, silver and jewelry and I don't have any room for you" and rowed away. "Love then asked "Arrogance" to be rescued. "Arrogance" sized up "Love" and said "you are soaking wet, if I take you in my boat you'll ruin it". A few feet away "Sorrow" was rowing away when "Love" begged if it could be rescued. "Sorrow" replied: "I am so sad that I don't want to be bothered by anybody, I want to be alone." Then "Love" spotted "Happiness" behind "Sorrow". With hope it yelled out to "Happiness" : Will you rescue me?" "Happiness" was so full of itself did not even respond. Right at that moment "Love" heard a familiar old voice from behind and "Love" was rescued. Once on the shore "Love" ran into "Wisdom" and asked "Wisdom" who was its rescuer? "Wisdom" said it was "TIME". "Love" with all innocence asked why was it saved by "Time" ? "Wisdom" responded : The only thing that is mature enough to understand your power is "TIME" . If you really want to know the depth and value of "LOVE", leave it to "TIME"....... and don't let it slip away.

Friday, July 11, 2008


We've all seen these funny looking flowers at this time of the year at the produce department of the grocery store and wondered what they are. They are zucchini flowers and they are edible. I have have a quick recipe for these delicate flowers. They make great appetizers.
1 cup of flour
1/2 cup of water (or beer)
1 small square of mozzarella, feta or blue cheese (your preference)
1 cup of olive oil for frying.
Wash and pat dry the flowers. Mix water (beer) with flour to make a smooth paste (it should be loose). Carefully open the soft end (the orange part) of the flower and place a small piece of cheese inside the hollow area and gently twist the ends closed. Dip to coat the filled flowers and fry them in olive oil until all sides are golden brown. They are delicious. Wash them down with your appletini in your favorite spot.

Sunday, July 6, 2008


Shrimp Salad

1 bunch of arugala washed and torn into pieces
10 to 20 medium size shrimp, boiled and devined
1 pint of grape tomatoes
1 small wedge of brie cheese, cut into chunks
1 yellow pepper, cut in to long thin strips.
Toss all together and drizzle with mixture of olive oil and lemon juice. Salt and pepper are optional. Arugala has slightly peppery taste. Open up a bottle of white wine and enjoy.

Saturday, July 5, 2008


To keep my leafy vegetables fresh after I bring them home from the market, I soak them in a large tub filled with cold water and 1/3 cup of white vinegar*. After drying them with a salad spinner I loosely wrap them with paper towels and keep them in the refrigerator in a plastic bag.

I do the same with the herbs except after removing the lower leaves I put them in a jar filled with water and cover loosely with a plastic wrap just as in the picture (parsley). Removing the leaves below the water line will stop bacteria growth that promotes rut. They'll stay fresh two weeks without loosing their color or flavor.

* Another good use for vinegar. For more uses of vinegar you can click on

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


My beloved dog GINGER died eight years ago in my arms. She was fourteen years old. I had her since she was six weeks old. I nurtured her to health when she came to us with a kennel cough (which is a terrible health condition she contracted at the kennel). Then I found out that she had a heart murmur. I was advised by the vet to return her to the place I got her from. I didn't. Instead I kept her and she became part of our family, as happy and healthy as she could be. She gave us many happy days with her smart ways but we also experienced many down days. In addition to her ailments, she had two cruciate ligaments repaired on her hind legs. Each time she bounced back to be herself again. In her last illness, her vet told us that she should be put to sleep. She was not in pain but just old the vet said. I asked him if he would put his loved ones to sleep if they were old. Then, I changed her vet. Her new vet gave us medicine that required weekly, sometimes daily visits to her office but Ginger was happy. She lived for two more months. The night before her demise my husband and I took turns by her bedside. In the morning she was breathing heavy I took her in my arms and whispered to her that she should let go and I would meet her again one day. She pulled herself away from me for a moment looked into my eyes, she almost had a smile on her face and gently rested her head on my chest. I then heard the last sigh out of her lips. She was gone. A friend who knew how much my Ginger meant to me gave me this tale which I've printed below. I have it in a frame on my desk. I read it almost daily and it warms my heart every time.
Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge. When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable. All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor, those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who they left behind. They all run and play together but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; his eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carry him faster and faster. You have been spotted and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross the Rainbow Bridge together....... Author Unknown.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


The game of baseball has been aptly termed "The Great National Pastime" of the USA. It's a marvelous, colorful athletic event. Ideally, it's played outdoors in the splendid sunshine on a verdant manicured grass field, sculpted with symmetrical diamond shaped base paths. Most Americans know and enjoy the game, either as baseball players or spectators. It's played professionally and on many amateur levels from pre-school through retirement age. Yet, baseball encompasses so much more than the great game itself. It conjures up warm memories of childhood and youth, beloved friends and family, idyllic days, beautiful ballparks, diamond legends and heroic feats experienced as a player or spectator which are timeless and embedded in the mind and heart. According to many sages, to understand the game of baseball is to understand the people of the USA, their way of life and mode of thinking. Although it's a team sport, it often focuses upon the skills of one particular player during each play. It has no time limitations. The game doesn't end until the final batter, usually the 27th, is declared "out". Its object is for one team to outscore the opponent in a non-violent contest, by skill, savvy and at times luck. It is a statistician's heaven and has a folkloric history. It is pure Americana. It allows the young among us to revel in their youth and us older folks to rekindle our youth with memories of past games and those dear to us. It's a majestic bridge from our present back in time to our past. LONG LIVE THE GAME OF BASEBALL....

The above copy is courtesy of "Baseball Album", 48" x 68" oil on canvas painting by GARY ERBE, Collection of the Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio.

To review this great contemporary American artist's work, please go to http://www.garyerbe.com/