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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Wedded Bliss


I wanted to honor my father and mother, today. They just celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary! This is quite a watermark, especially by today's standards, as divorcing has become so easy and commonplace.

Mom and Dad went to the Adirondack Mountains, where they had honeymooned 60 years ago. They climbed part of the trail to Bald Mountain, which they have climbed for many years on many anniversaries.

Life passes so quickly. Often we are left with regrets that there was some unfinished business or a path not taken.

We need to respect our achievements, however tiny we think they are. They are stepping stones to the future. Whether you are struggling in your work life, or your home life. We must recognize our efforts and take a positive approach. Remember that a marriage of 60 years was just a series of small steps in a life's journey.

I have a friend's daughter who was married yesterday afternoon. I enclose a poem that I wrote for their wedding. Congratulations Callie and Rodney! I wish you a long and happy marriage!


Take my hand
And I will take yours
Encircle me with arms
Strong and sheltering, then
Feel our hearts swell and
Burst open with wild vines
Of Jasmine and rose—that climb
And entwine us closer together
Blooming sweet perfume intoxicates
Onlookers with the scent of our love
Your lips velvet soft--breathe
Into mine tasting of honey
And blackberry wine
Suspended in this golden moment
We take one another as bride
And groom—this day, and ever after
We become one

Callie’s wedding
By Joan Ellen Gage
7/11/09

Sunday, August 23, 2009

CONFESSIONS OF A SHOP-AHOLIC ON A BAG LADY BUDGET!



There are internal forces battling within me, always! I seem to have a split personality (maybe split more than two ways?). In one corner is the chicken, fearful of new experiences, afraid of driving in new places, heavy traffic, etc. The other "half" is bolder, forcing the "chicken" to get out and do the thing it fears--kicking it's chicken butt out there. It has taken the bold part of me many years to accomplish this feat.


I also have a very thrifty side (from the Scottish and German side of the family), and a "twin" that absolutely loves to shop. This has gotten more prevalent over the years as my shopping "gene" has developed, which is part of my OCD gene that has turned on.


I am in love with color, love buying clothes , shoes, bath products and jewelry. I have a drop-earring collection that I have put into plastic organizers so I can see what I have.


I have organized my clothes my color. This after a hospital visit some time ago. As a dental hygienist, I had been taught from day one how not to contaminate my hands with bacteria in a public restroom. After using the facilities in the hospital, I stepped out and saw the elevator ahead of me. I just couldn't press the button with clean hands, so I used my elbow. A doctor saw me do this, and laughing, stepped into the elevator. "You're OCD", he chuckled, "I bet you have your closet organized by colors". "No", I countered, "but, that's not a bad idea". So thus it became so.


But 90% of this purchasing is on sale or from Target, Walmart, T J Max, thrift store, yard-sale, or consignment shops. Very little of what I own have I paid full price for. Therefore, I ease my guilty conscience with the knowledge that I got it on sale!


I usually sneak the bags into the house, so my spouse does not see my ill-gotten gains. My mom tells me that my paternal Grandmother would buy dresses and hide them in the back of her closet. Eventually she would wear one of them, and Grandpa would ask "is that a new dress?". Grandma would say "Oh no, I've had this for a while", which was true.


I was discussing this kind of purchasing with one of my patients, some time ago. She told me that she kept a red marker in her car and would mark every tag with a slash mark. She wrote 50% off on each tag and her husband was always impressed with her shopping. He never had a clue! What brilliance!


I saw the movie Confessions of a Shop-aholic this week with my friend Dani. This women had run up $16,000.00 buying clothing--not just any clothing either. She was addicted to Gucci, Prada, etc. I felt redeemed. Nothing I buy is in that ballpark. I decided that I am a shop-aholic on a bag lady budget!


Enjoy the day; and if you must shop, don't be too good for the economy!


Adios!


Joan

Thursday, August 20, 2009

BUSTED AGAIN!


As a follow-up to the Chocolate Cheesecake Affair, I thought this would amuse you. Although, it does not refer to chocolate!

I was shopping last week at the new Target, as I had a $5.00 coupon off $25.00 of groceries. Since I never pass up "free" money, I was determined to get that amount!

My friend Dani met me at Target for a latte and a walk around the store. After I had purchased some fruit, veggies, etc., Dani suggested the cookie aisle-oh, oh! Well, Target does have some good cookies, I especially like the chai tea ones. They are spicy with cardamon, cloves, and cinnamon--yum!

I took the dry goods and left them in a shopping bag in my guest room closet. I often do this when I am having a party, which I was having this coming Saturday. My husband left for N.C. this morning, and I am having girl friends over for a cook-out.

While I was puttering around the house last weekend, I happened to be in the guest room and remembered the cookies. I decided to open them (no self-control!), and did! They were as wonderful as I remembered, and only 5 grams of fat for 3 cookies! So I had a couple. Then I had a couple more the next day.

Monday came, I went to work, looked at the schedule, and discovered that I needed my digital camera to take after photos on a patient. I called my husband, Rob, and asked him if he could drop off the camera. When I finally reached him, he had gotten my message and was looking for the camera.

"What are these chai tea cookies?" he asked. "What are you doing in the guest closet?" I countered. "My camera is always in the main closet, as is yours!"

Well, I was busted, again! I had to explain that I was not hiding cookies. I don't think he believed me! I have not had a cookie, since!

Enjoy the day, everyone! Have a cookie or a piece of chocolate, and celebrate the wonder of it all
Oh, and here is that chocolate cheesecake recipe from my friend Dani!



CHOCOLATE RASPBERRY TRUFFLE CHEESECAKE
Prep: 30 minutes Cook: 1 1/4 TO 1 ½ hours Chill: 6 hours
Serves: 12 to 16

This cake is rich, loaded with chocolate and raspberry jam. Serve small slices - a little goes a long way.

1 (9 0z) package chocolate wafer cookies *
3 Tbs butter (melted)
12 oz Semisweet chocolate chips (2 cups - C)
1 ½ C heavy cream
3/4 C seedless red raspberry jam
2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese (softened)
3/4 C Sugar
4 Eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 325*F. In a food processor, grind cookies into fine crumbs. Add melted butter and process until thoroughly mixed. Press into bottom and about 1 inch up sides of a 9 inch spring form pan. Refrigerate crust while preparing filling.

2. In a 2 quart glass bowl, combine chocolate chips and 1 cup cream. Heat in a microwave oven on high 3 to 4 minutes, or until mixture is smooth, stirring twice. Mix in jam and stir until dissolved. Let cool 10 minutes.

3. In a large bowl, beat together cream cheese and sugar with a electric mixer on medium speed until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and chocolate-raspberry mixture and beat 5 minutes. Pour mixture into chilled crust.

4. Bake for 1 1/4 to 1/ ½ hours, or until cheesecake is set around edges, but still jiggles slightly in center. Let cake cool, then refrigerate until well chilled, 6 hours or overnight.

5. When ready to serve, run a knife around edge of pan to loosen cake and remove spring form side of pan. Whip remaining ½ cup cream an, using a pastry bag fitted with a ½ inch star tip, pipe a border around edges of cheesecake.


* You also can use chocolate graham crackers crushed or 2 pre-made Oreo pie crusts removed from their tins

Take care!
Joan

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Chocolate Cheesecake Affair

We were in Pensacola, Florida last week visiting family. While we were there, we dined on wonderful southern fried shrimp (Oh My!), hush puppies and cheese grits. All in all we had fried shrimp three times last week, so I had planned to go back to my regular diet. Thus said, my friend Dani decided to tempt me with her wonderful chocolate raspberry cheesecake.
Monday arrived; I had consumed my usual work week lunch of flat bread with hummus and baby greens, a banana, and one Dove chocolate. Dani had wanted me to stop by on the way home from work, to visit (and get cheesecake, of course!). Unfortunately, one of Dani's dogs ate a toy and had thrown up all over the living room. This was not an atmosphere to eat cheesecake, so I drove home.
Later that evening, Dani's son Travis arrived at the door with a plate with two slices of cheesecake. Since we had burgers that evening (although I had no bun and low-fat mayo), we declined to eat the dessert that evening. We really were full!
On Tuesday, I found that I had time to come home for lunch. After the delicious hummus sandwich--yum! I decided to forgo the banana and devoured the cheesecake.
This was no ordinary cheesecake! It was loaded with dark chocolate, had an Oreo cookie crust, and a raspberry finish! Hubby came in and I remarked on the wonderful dish. "Have it for dessert", I said, as I left to go back to work.
I came home Tuesday evening and the cheesecake was still there! I had entertained a secret thought all afternoon, if the dessert was there that night, I would have the second piece.
In my defense, cheesecake is not my husband's favourite dish; nor is it usually mine. Also, he does not love chocolate like I do, he only likes it. I have a much more intimate relationship with chocolate, especially the dark kind.
We had dinner, my husband went out for the evening, and I ate the cheesecake. This time I savoured it slowly. It was exquisite, really!
Wednesday arrived. I was at my office, when my husband came up to the front desk where I was working on the computer. He had just had a dental appointment with my dentist boss. "There has been someone in the house", he announced to all. "What do you mean?" I questioned. "Who was in the house?", I asked anxiously. "Well!", he said, "someone came in the house and ate my cheesecake. I know that my wife would never do that, so it had to be an intruder!".
The whole staff had a good laugh at this. "But, you don't even like cheesecake, or chocolate that much", I countered. "You should have eaten it for lunch, as I had suggested." Of course this did not convince him, and he continued to tease me unmercifully.
Dani, if you read this, add your recipe to the comment area. I know everyone will want it now!
Everyone, please post your chocolate comments!
Here is a poem that I wrote in honor of the special relationship I have with dark chocolate.

Have a delicious day!

Joan

The Chocolate Rebellion

It had started innocently enough
And certainly there had always been
A life-long love affair with chocolate
Beginning with those childhood
Tollhouse semi-sweet morsels

But, somehow the stresses of midlife
The added tension, the impatience
All became sharpened, intensified
And work began to interfere with living
Or with the desire to live freely
And to direct one’s lifestyle
No longer wanting to exist
Under the supervision of others
Either at work, or anywhere else

Chocolate became one mode of therapy
Along with the occasional glass of wine
And the wonderful ear of a girlfriend
Who really understood and encouraged
Piloting those flights of fancy
Or feelings of self-actualization

The chocolate punctuated the stolen moment
Of pleasure, hidden from disapproval
Or the look that delivered the guilt arrow
Into the heart, to curb the habit and to stop
The creeping weight gains of menopause

Nothing seemed to help that, really
Not the exercise or the fiber in the healthy diet
Still the menopot stayed on, languished there
Silently mouthing “feed me” and the thing was fed
The dark chocolate
And the feeding became a rebellion
Validating and fortifying the power of dreams

Chocolate savored in secret trysts
Chocolate, the friend, the confidant, the co-conspirator
Chocolate, the inspiration and the reward
And the rebellion continued . . .
Won’t you join the movement?