Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Me and my big mouth, part 2.

I promised you an update, so here it is. The good news is, I took one Vicodin right after publishing my post this afternoon and did NOT end up feeling dizzy, whacked-out or nauseated. Basically I just stared into space and eventually dozed off writing an email, and when I finally snapped back to reality I’d been typing nothing but f’s for quite a long time. The bad news is, my right hand is still a total mess. My thumb and two fingers are completely NUMB, there’s a sharp pain across the palm of my hand that feels like a sprain, I can’t grip anything, and whenever I lie down my hand, wrist and forearm feel like they’re ON FIRE. So although Vicodin may be mildly entertaining as a recreational drug, it’s not doing squat to help my carpal tunnel problem. And I already know I won’t be able to sleep in bed again tonight. I’m not happy about this. Thank you for putting up with me.

Me and my big mouth.

Within the last 48 hours I announced to everybody on earth that I was finally pain-free. My heels stopped hurting, my knees didn’t ache, my carpal tunnel symptoms had subsided and I was feeling terrific at last. And then wham ... without any warning, last night I spent ALL NIGHT trying to sleep but couldn’t get comfortable. It was the carpal tunnel problem again in my right hand and arm ... numbness, burning and radiating pain especially when I laid down. Plus just before we went to bed Sam and I watched that grisly Mafia flick “Donnie Brasco” and I kept having visions of these guys chopping each other up with saws and butcher knives. So the bottom line is, I’ve had zero sleep and can’t even take a nap. To show you how bad it is, I’m almost on the verge of taking VICODIN. My doctor prescribed it for pain three weeks ago but I never opened the bottle because the last time I took this stuff was 18 years ago for an abcessed tooth and it made me so dizzy, whacked-out and nauseated I wanted to strangle my dentist. Today I feel crappy enough not to care. I JUST WANT TO SLEEP. Stay tuned for an update.

Make enough to share with someone you love.

Thirsty? Here’s my all-time favorite recipe for a summer shake that’s absolutely delicious ... and best of all it’s also FAT-FREE, SUGAR-FREE and LOW-CALORIE. I probably don’t have to set this up in a typical recipe format with a list of ingredients and a paragraph of instructions because it also happens to be so easy it’s a no-brainer, but what the heck ... I’ll be consistent and do it anyway. Here goes.
  • 2 cups nonfat milk or vanilla Soy Slender soy milk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 to 1½ cups frozen fruit
  • 8 to 10 packets of Equal
Plop everything into your blender and whip it up! Incidentally, Sam and I always use a frozen fruit medley of peaches, mango, pineapple and strawberries, but you can go ahead and use whatever you want ... just as long as it’s FROZEN. (That’s what makes the shake thick and fluffy.)
You should try this alongside a plate of Marcy’s Fabulous Un-Fried Fries with ketchup and pretend you’re 16 years old. Thank you for reading this and bon appetit, y’all.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

What do your memories sound like?

Studies show that certain scents and fragrances can evoke explicit memories. I guess that’s true ... the smell of a great pizza always makes me want Alberti’s from downtown Skokie ... 50 years ago. But for me, my favorite memories spring from SOUNDS more than scents, and I’ve definitely got a couple of favorites.

Let’s hear it for the boys of summer. No, not the Chicago Cubs ... I’m talking about LANDSCAPERS. I’m crazy about the sound of lawn mowers! It takes me back to my childhood, summer afternoons, no school, happy weather, playing outside on fresh-cut grass. Our landscaping crew showed up yesterday morning for the first time since last October, and I always want more when they finish in less than 20 minutes. Maybe someone can burn a CD of mowing noises for me.

The plane truth. I absolutely LOVE the sound of a small propeller airplane. I’m transported back in time to 1955, being four years old at Greenleaf Beach in Chicago, playing in the sand on a hot summer day with mom and Robin, eating a vanilla Dixie Cup with the goofy wooden spatula/spoon that came glued to the lid ... and if you squinted up at the sun there was always a little plane overhead dragging a banner advertisement back and forth. To this day, any time I hear a small plane I can smell the water and suntan lotion. It’s hypnotic. It’s even better than lawn mowers.

Somebody send me a pizza from Alberti’s and life will be complete. Thank you for reading this.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

A day-long shopping marathon retrospective.

It all started with Target. Wednesday was a VERY GOOD DAY for shopping. It began first thing in the morning when all of a sudden I realized I could spend Sam’s $100 Target gift card (which he got for Christmas from a salesman at work) online and not actually have to go to the store. So I visited Target.com and blew it all on a bunch of great stuff that includes an Oxo can opener, Calphalon baking sheets, a Kitchen Aid food chopper, new measuring spoons, Olay Regenerist face cream and a couple of DVDs — Gigi and The Great Ziegfeld.
And if this wasn’t enough to make a person hyperventilate from excitement, immediately after spending Sam’s Target gift card he casually mentions that he’s been having trouble finding Clif bars in our local supermarkets. I think the basic problem is that Texans just don’t give a crap about anything that’s not deep-fried, and since we don’t have Trader Joe’s here and don’t live anywhere near a Whole Foods Market it’s really hard to find products that we used to buy all the time in California. So I searched online and found Healthy-Stand.com, where they sell discounted Clif Bars in boxes of 12 with no tax and cheap shipping. I bought four boxes in Sam’s favorite flavors. At this point we were VERY close to being delirious.
Every house should smell as good as mine. I also ordered some electric home fragrance refills on sale at YankeeCandle.com for those little hot oil doo-dads that you plug into an outlet. My all-time favorite scent is Midnight Jasmine and I’ve got one in every room except the kitchen. (I think a kitchen should smell more like roast chicken.)

And last but not least ... Rounding out my shopping marathon was an afternoon excursion to our local Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market. This was a VERY BIG DEAL for me, guys, because I’m finally pain-free and feeling healthy again! Today was my first solo outing since the first of the year, and I EVEN DROVE MY OWN CAR. I bought all kinds of fun things like volumizing hair mousse, sugar-free chocolate, two kinds of cheese, toilet paper, bagels, a couple of extremely expensive tomatoes and two-liter bottles of Coke Zero on sale for 75¢.

Thursday, God willing, I’m heading to Costco. Be still my heart.

Monday, March 22, 2010

This is never a good idea when you're hungry.

See what happens when there’s nothing good on Turner Classic Movies? They’re celebrating director Akira Kurosawa’s 100th birthday with a restrospective and a never-ending string of his subtitled Japanese movies, so I’m forced to surf channels and end up at HSN watching a two-hour food special. Word of warning ... NEVER DO THIS BEFORE YOU EAT LUNCH. Three products got me so hysterically excited that 15 minutes later I’m sitting at my computer logged onto HSN.com, frantically trying to add them all to my shopping cart because — as everybody knows — SUPPLIES ARE LIMITED!
So the voices in my head tell me I want EVERYTHING, and I want it NOW. I mean, look at those gorgeous teeny SHRIMP CAKES, all made by Emeril IN HIS OWN KITCHEN with his OWN CELEBRITY HANDS and delivered right to your front door IN HIS OWN CAR! And look at those SPRING ROLLS ... 30 of them in three different GOURMET FLAVORS with enormous chunks of GENUINE VIETNAMESE MYSTERY FOOD inside! And that Bilinsky SIX-POUND HAM ... holy cow, it’s the LEANEST HAM ON EARTH with ZERO FAT and actually tastes like CHAMPAGNE instead of processed over-salted pork injected with preservatives! This would be PERFECT FOR EASTER DINNER ... never mind that Sam and I are Jewish and have never eaten a baked ham in our entire lives!

And then Smart Marcy grabs the reigns from Hungry Marcy, and I take a closer look at the evidence. All three products actually have some mighty lousy customer reviews, not to mention how over-priced they are. Nobody especially liked Emeril’s shrimp cakes, the spring rolls are ordinary and don’t come with sauce, and the ham is so expensive it’s sold with FOUR MONTHLY PAYMENTS, which means a person would be making installments on their Easter pig until Labor Day.

Bottom line: I decided that a few subtitled Japanese movies wouldn’t kill me after all. Sayonara, y’all, and thank you for reading this.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Welcome to spring.

Sam and I seem to be on different sleeping schedules today. He got up at 5:30 this morning to monitor the weather (it’s SNOWING) and I stayed in bed; he crawled back in at 8:15 just as I was waking up. Now I’m sitting here writing a post and he’s sound asleep. This is no huge deal, however, because as soon as I’m done I plan to head into the kitchen to reheat some Chinese food for breakfast.

Hey ... don’t make that face. Being an adult means I CAN EAT ANYTHING I WANT, WHENEVER I WANT IT. And Chinese food is a whole lot more fun in the morning than Rice Chex or a couple of Pop Tarts.

And now let’s talk about snow for a minute. Dallas has turned into a winter wonderland again with two inches of wet, blowing snow stuck to EVERYTHING. And it’s so damn windy we’ve even got snow glued to the window screens. The temperature as I write this is 31° ... and it’s still snowing. The yellow asterisk on the map shows our location here in Mesquite. The blue weather system is heading straight down from the north.

Somebody please send Sam a shovel so he can clear the driveway when he wakes up. The fastest way would be just to attach one to an email. Thank you.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

You know it's going to be a great day when ...

... at 9:15 in the morning Sam announces that he doesn’t feel motivated to do anything except spend the day in bed. Know what? I LIKE THIS MAN’S THINKING. It’s dark, dismal and wet outside with a winter storm on the way later this afternoon. Weather.com is actually talking about a 30-degree temperature drop with a chance of snow overnight. Snow in March? That might be normal for Chicago, but it’s definitely not normal HERE. The average daytime temperature in Dallas at this time of year is supposed to be 75°. So spending the day in bed — with the exception of meals and an occasional trip to the can — sounds like a totally swell idea. Sam’s got my vote.

On another subject altogether, I need a show of hands. Has anybody noticed that toilet paper is shrinking? There’s a roll of Charmin in my guest bathroom right now that’s literally rattling around on the dispenser! So the Howdygram’s official investigative reporter (yours truly) did a little hunting online and uncovered a national conspiracy: during the past year, ALL THE MAJOR TOILET PAPER MANUFACTURERS HAVE COLLUDED TO DOWNSIZE THE WIDTH OF THEIR ROLLS from 4½ to 4 inches. What a sneaky, underhanded thing to do! Nobody lowered the PRICE, mind you ... they just took away half an inch of valuable toilet paper real estate without so much as a how’s-your-mama or have-a-nice-day.

I, for one, am NOT happy about this, and if I can figure out who to complain to I’ll let you know. For now, however, Sam and I are going back to bed. Thank you.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Soggy peas and other non-news.

This is my first post since Sunday, and I apologize for that. Bottom line: sometimes I’m distracted or just can’t think of anything to say. However, my blog statistics indicate that a bunch of you visit every single day to see if there’s a new post, so if my negligence has been responsible for your depression, kleptomania, sex addiction and/or antisocial behavior please consider this my solemn promise to do better from now on. Seriously.

Schwan’s delivered my second frozen food order a couple of days ago. This time I stocked up on some interesting new products, which are pictured below for your possible interest:

So far everything is terrific, although I’m definitely disappointed with the sugar snap peas. If you follow the package directions to heat them in the microwave they get so soggy there’s no snap left at all. Maybe I’ll just defrost them and eat the silly things raw. Stay tuned for the next chapter.

There’s a light at the end of the (carpal) tunnel. I’ve got a brief health update to share ...just in case you’re not totally bored to death with this subject by now. As of today I’m doing really well. My plantar fasciitis has improved dramatically, the miserable issue with my right heel that sent me to the podiatrist for minor surgery on March 2 has healed up about 90%, and I have ZERO PAIN from my carpal tunnel syndrome ... although one finger still falls asleep occasionally. I can live with that. And I bought myself another Futuro wrist brace ... this time a snazzy black one that’s described as “energizing.” To my amazement, it lives up to the hype. As soon as I put it on I want to change the sheets, whip up an omelet, empty the dishwasher and vacuum the family room. You should try it for yourself or buy a few for birthday presents. Shop here.

I think I’d better go back to bed now. Sam is taking me to the supermarket this morning, and that’s a VERY big deal for me because I haven’t been to a grocery store since the first of the year. (Don’t ask.) Thank you for reading this.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Daylight savings time and insomnia.

I can’t sleep. Actually, that’s not entirely accurate, because I haven’t TRIED to sleep. For the last few hours I’ve been in one of my entrepreneurial/creative modes, getting all involved with website updates, posting to my Ovation Creative blog and writing a new email campaign. Then all of a sudden I look at the little clock in the upper right-hand corner of my computer monitor and it’s almost 4 a.m. HOLY CRAP. The whole night is shot already, and tonight’s time change hoo-hah makes it even WORSE. It’s not supposed to be this late.

Before I forget, here’s an urgent update for your possible interest: my right hand is on the mend! This is extremely encouraging, because I seriously NEVER expected to feel so much better after only 48 hours! My carpal tunnel treatment includes some goofy little wrist exercises, Chinese food (my own idea), a six-day steroid regimen and a firm wrist support brace with a steel beam and tons of impressive velcro straps. All of this is fine, although quite honestly the steroid thing is freaking me out a little because I’m diabetic and steroids can really screw around with your blood sugar. So I have to keep close watch on my glucose levels for the next few days and stop the pills if I hit a certain number. And course I also check the mirror every couple of hours to see if I’m turning into Barry Bonds. So far so good, although yesterday afternoon I developed an uncontrollable urge to yell at people and play left field.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Incidentally, your dentist quit.

Since the first of the year there’s been a tsunami of dental weirdness in the Dallas metro area. First I get a form letter in the mail from mine, Dr. Jacob, announcing that she’s “following her dream” to dump a busy private practice and JOIN THE ARMY. Her news left me dumbfounded. Although I obviously don’t know if her practice had been suffering since the recession started — with fewer patients, past-due accounts or whatever — Dr. Jacob is about 40 years old with a husband and children, and she’s walking away from a nice suburban dental practice in Mesquite to drill military teeth in Afghanistan. At the end of her form letter Dr. Jacob mentions that since she didn’t have a partner she’s already transferred everybody’s records to Dr. Dill (another local dentist), and we should all feel free to call him next time we need dental care.

That’s an ironic twist, I thought. Sam is a patient of Dr. Dill’s and seems to like him. As a matter of fact, he was there just last week (a two-hour marathon appointment) to have two new crowns made.

Ah, but the plot thickens. A few minutes ago Sam called Dr. Dill’s office because one of his temporary crowns fell out, and the receptionist tells him, “You can come in at 11:30. Except Dr. Dill isn’t here any more so we’ll set you up with his replacement.” Sam asks, WHAT? ARE YOU KIDDING? I JUST SAW HIM A WEEK AGO! And she says, “He resigned unexpectedly for personal reasons.”

Show of hands. Think Dr. Dill decided to drill military teeth in Afghanistan?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Mystery solved.

The good news is, I don’t have peripheral neuropathy, Raynaud’s Phenomenon, De Quervain’s Disease or multiple sclerosis. I’ve been diagnosed with CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME. Apparently I’ve got every classic symptom: my fingers go numb, I wake up at night with burning pain in my hand and arm, I have trouble gripping objects, and I’m generally crabby and anxious to strangle somebody. So my doctor prescribed a steroid to reduce the nerve inflammation and a strong painkiller (Vicodin) that I probably won’t take because it makes me feel like I’ve had a frontal lobotomy. I’m also wearing a steel wrist brace, need to buy an ergonomic mouse pad for my computer and have a list of stretching exercises to try.

Dr. Meyrat didn’t recommend Chinese food as a possible treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome, but since Sam won’t be able to pick up my prescriptions until he gets home from work at 10 p.m. I’ve decided to self-medicate in the meantime with Mu Shu Shrimp and Hot & Sour soup. Thank you, and pass the soy sauce.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Send cyanide.

A brief medical report. I’ve got a doctor appointment in the morning to figure out what’s wrong with my right hand. At least half a dozen times a day it alternates between numb fingers, an aching pain that radiates throughout my arm and a sensation that’s probably like violent electrocution. It gets especially unbearable whenever I type at my computer keyboard (like right now) or try to lie down, which explains why I haven’t written a post for the last few days or slept since Saturday. I’M EXHAUSTED. When Sam gets home from work in a few minutes we have to brainstorm about how to prop me up in the living room overnight. I’m thinking I can sit on the couch with my feet on the decorative bench dragged in from our entry foyer. With a gigantic cup of hot tea and all-night Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movies scheduled on TCM, I’m sure I’ll be fine until morning. (At this point I’m willing to try damn near ANYTHING.) Stay tuned for an update after I see the doctor tomorrow. You can send cyanide in the meantime. Thank you for reading this.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Try this family favorite ... just in time for Passover.

Sam absolutely LOVES this omelet, and my dad always loved it, too. Over the years I embellished mom’s original recipe with one key ingredient: ONIONS. Enjoy!
  • 6 jumbo eggs, beaten
  • 6 sheets of matzo
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon margarine
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
Break up the matzo into medium-sized pieces in a mixing bowl and cover with cold water to soak. Heat margarine and olive oil in a large skillet (mine is 14") and add the diced onions. Season with salt and pepper and cook until the onions start to brown. While the onions are doing their thing, squeeze as much water as possible from handfuls of the soaked matzo, add to the beaten eggs and mix together. Pour the matzo/egg batter into the skillet and stir slightly to incorporate the onions. Then flatten with a spatula, season with more salt and pepper and cover the pan. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for several minutes until the bottom is lightly browned. To cook the other side, use your spatula to cut the omelet into fourths and turn each wedge separately.
If you halve the recipe to make an omelet for one, you can use a smaller pan and flip the whole omelet in one piece to cook the other side. This actually counts as a floor show if you sing a chorus of “Hava Nagila” at the same time.

There's nothing very Kosher about the wild west.

Something is missing in Texas. Sam and I have lived here almost three years and still haven’t found a decent deli or a loaf of Jewish rye bread anywhere. And except for one exotic Tom Thumb supermarket up north in Plano, almost none of the grocery stores here even carry the most basic ethnic Jewish products. It’s not that Jewish people don’t live here, it’s just that none of them realize what they’re missing. When we first moved to Dallas in 2007 I drove around for three weeks looking for a yahrzeit candle but eventually gave up and ordered one online. I paid $2.99 for the candle and $4.50 for shipping.

Actually, the Internet might be the perfect solution now that I’ve discovered a surprise grocery department on Amazon.com. Who knew? They’re selling a 12-box crate of Streit’s lightly salted matzo (my personal favorite) for $39, which turns out to be a lot cheaper than Tom Thumb’s price at $4.25 a box. With an endless supply in the pantry I could make Sam’s favorite matzo omelet until the cows come home! I’ll post my recipe within the next couple of days so you can give it a shot in time for Passover. Thank you for reading this, and shalom y’all.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Ah, Saturday.

This will be brief because it’s already 10:15 and time to take my shower and make the bed. But I wanted to mention that Sam called a little while ago, about five minutes from home, to tell me he got a FLAT TIRE on his way to the UPS store to mail a package. Ten minutes later he calls again with a second news flash ... his spare is one of those useless little temporary “doughnut” things, so after AAA changes the tire he’ll be on his way to Pep Boys to buy a new one, and as long as he’s hanging around on Galloway Avenue he’ll probably get a car wash, too. (Galloway is Mesquite’s second-busiest main drag after Town East Boulevard.)

Do you know what this means? I’ve got the house all to myself! I CAN MAKE SCRAMBLED EGGS AND EAT NAKED!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Everybody deserves a second chance.

I’m weak. I admit it. I gave in a few days ago and ordered again from Schwan’s (read earlier posts) even though they screwed up two previous attempts at home delivery and made Sam so angry I caught him trying to blow up our freezer. (Just kidding.) However, this time everything went well. My driver Gary turned out to be a surprisingly nice guy who knows a lot about frozen food and football, but not necessarily in that order. For your possible interest, here are my favorite Schwan’s products so far:
For the record, Gary loves to tell his customers that he’s a former football player for Baylor University and the Cincinnati Bengals, so this morning along with two boxes of tilapia fillets I received the following autographed 8" x 10" photo at no additional charge:
If this doesn’t get you hooked on frozen fish, nothing ever will. Thank you for reading this.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Pain, suffering and accidental olives.

I had a podiatrist appointment this morning. An early one, at 9 a.m. I usually don’t mind seeing my podiatrist because he’s a really nice guy with a nice office and equally nice nurses, and usually all they ever do is say hi and cut my toenails (I’m diabetic and can’t go to a regular nail salon). But this time I was scared to go. For the last three weeks I’ve had a grotesque and extremely painful situation with a bleeding right heel that I haven’t been able to deal with on my own. And as expected, today I wound up with minor surgery, a huge gauze bandage wrapped around my foot and night-time instructions that include using wads of medicated cream, plastic wrap and socks. Sam will be in charge of all foot maintenance activities because it’s hard for me to reach and I’m not very coordinated ... especially if plastic wrap is involved. (It’s usually hard enough just to maneuver the stuff around a mixing bowl.)

About those accidental olives. Due to some nasty weather this year (a foot of snow and two minor ice storms) and my ongoing crappy pain issues (arthritis, plantar fasciitis, and now this bleeding heel thing) Sam has been doing most of our grocery shopping on his own except for one big trip to Costco on New Year’s Eve. I love his help. And it’s always a hoot to find out how he interprets my shopping list. Last week, for instance, I requested “stuffed green olives” but forgot to mention WHAT THEY SHOULD BE STUFFED WITH. The only kind I’ve ever eaten are the ones with little red hunks of pimento inside, and of course I figured Sam was clairvoyant enough to know that. Well guess what: he brought home a very large, very expensive jar of Mezzetta’s green olives stuffed with jalapeño peppers. And to my surprise, they’re absolutely FANTASTIC. I got so damn excited I visited Mezzetta’s website, where I found out these people stuff their green olives with EVERYTHING, including garlic, bleu cheese, feta, anchovies and prunes! (Just kidding about the prunes.) I’m going to eat some jalapeño-stuffed olives with dinner tonight and prop up my sore foot on a big pillow. I take my little luxuries wherever I can find them. Thank you for reading this.