Wrapping things up–more than one way

Imagine a world without Post-it notes. I hate to admit it, but that’s a world I’m old enough to remember.

On my first full-time job, when I was very, very young <grin>, I often had to set paperwork aside with a note to myself on what to do with it later. Since I worked with original stock and bond certificates, I mostly had to keep documents blemish-fee. I devised a method to remind me of later actions to take without writing on the papers.

My trick was to take a clean piece of paper and cut it in little pieces about three inches square.

I’d keep a little pile of these squares in my desk. Whenever I needed to flag an action item, I’d write a note on a square saying what I needed to do. Then I’d paperclip that note to the document.

My organizing trick, before the advent of "Post-it Notes"

One day, years later, I saw someone use those little yellow sticky pads that have since become ubiquitous. “What a clever idea,” I thought when I first saw them. “Someone must have felt like I did–I’m not the only one who needed little pieces of paper to jot something down and clip to something else.” So, much to my delight, I discovered that Post-It Notes were born.

Nowadays, Post-Its run the gamut. No longer just one size and the one (yellow) color, Post-Its come in all colors, shapes and forms.

I even have some hot pink Post-It hearts which I use to call attention to an urgent task, or to stick a note on a friend’s birthday card. Or to leave a love note on my husband’s steering wheel for him to see as he starts his commute to work.

Post-It Notes have certainly taken off!

But Post-Its haven’t stopped me from cutting paper smaller. Now, I wield my scissors with plastic wrap. I’ve always found Saran Wrap, Cling Wrap, and others to be useful. I’ve probably tried most of the brands.

I’m a person who saves bits of leftovers in small glass bowls. Sometimes in very small glass bowls. And to use a big, wide piece of wrap to cover up my tiny bowls seems like such a waste!

A big piece of plastic for a tiny bowl

Have you ever gotten out the scissors and tried to cut a square of small plastic wrap? The wrap sticks to the scissors and winds around your hand.  Making a Saran Wrap equivalent of a “Post-It”  isn’t very easy.

I thought I was doomed to this silly task until one day I browsed in my local Japanese grocery store. Now, I wrap my leftovers like this:

Note that the width of the Japanese plastic wrap is the perfect fit to cover my little glass bowl

Because this is what I found in that grocery store:

Plastic wrap in Japan comes in several different sizes

It’s clear that manufacturers in Japan realized people wanted more than one width of plastic wrap. So, they made their products to meet consumers’ needs.

So, now, whenever I need plastic wrap, not only do I go to my local Safeway, but I also make the trek to the Japanese store. And yet, I wonder: why not our good old American companies? Couldn’t they make plastic wrap in several sizes, too?

Maybe one of them will read this post. Maybe he or she will take action–who knows?

On a more personal note (though my confessions of obsessing about wasting paper or plastic wrap seem pretty dang personal)–I do want to explain my recent absence from the blogging world. I’ve been gone because I’ve moved several times; we sold our home of twenty-two years and then remodeled our new home. This necessitated moving three times: from the house we sold into a hotel, from the hotel to the rental side of our new duplex home, and then finally, after the remodel’s completion, we’ve moved to our permanent side. Added to that was a lot of illness in my family this year.

But now things are better, so my intention is to blog regularly again . Also, I plan to be an avid blog reader once more, so you, my blogging buddies who may be reading this–expect to see me soon, me via comments on your blog!

And, in closing, please let me know: is anyone out there as crazy as I am, cutting their own Post-Its before Post-Its existed, and cutting plastic wrap into little squares?

Posted in Domestic Arts, Food, kitchen talk | Tagged , , , , | 13 Comments

God Bless America, God Bless Us Everyone

Flag of the United States

Old Glory flies high at this time!

I pray for peace and justice for all the world.

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How sweet is the custom of Lily-of-the-Valley

Lily of the Valley

Image via Wikipedia

Today is May 1st, celebrated as “May Day” in Europe. In Switzerland and France, people do something very lovely today. Since this charming custom involves my favorite flower, I couldn’t resist dashing out this post.

For the past few days, vendors have been selling lily-of-the-valley on the streets of Switzerland and France. The flowers are everywhere! The idea is to give a sprig or bouquet of this flower to someone you love.

Lily-of-the-valley symbolizes several things, among them the return of happiness. So, when you give a person  this enchanting bloom, you’re wishing them happiness. I’d say you’re also injecting poetry into their daily life. I’d even say you’d be injecting poetry into yours.

Today, so soon after witnessing Prince William and Kate exchange their wedding vows, I find this custom especially endearing.

I wish lilies-of-the-valley to every one of you reading this. Many lilies-of-the-valley.

Here’s to happiness and romance. Here’s to love!

Vive l’amour!

Bon voyage,

Rita Elizabeth

P.S.  If you’d like to read a French person’s take on this custom (and to see some lovely pictures, too!) just click on this link “Frenchie and the May Lilies.”  Scroll to the middle of the post.

Posted in Gifts of today, Just for Fun, Poetry in daily life, Romance/love | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

My Once and Future Royals (Part III)

On a royal blue morning in Northern California, with light on the lilies…

Calla lilies brought from the home we've just sold

and sunbeams on the tree in our little back yard…

Tree and plants in the garden of our temporary home

With yesterday morning’s crossword still set upon the table…

Crossword, The New York Times, Thursday, April 28, 2011

    … and an across-the-Pond wedding recorded as I slept, and ready to enjoy…
Light shines on the tree, pouring in from outside and behind our TV as my husband and I settle in to watch the wedding

I felt glad I’d broken down and taken time to understand

how to do recordings on our DVR!

            Refreshed from a good night’s sleep,  a cup of coffee in my hand,
                      my honey and I sat on the sofa.

 We saw enthusiastic people…

There’s nothing tedious or boring on THIS day in front of Buckingham Palace!

   … and a smiling family

Celebrating royals

  … and

The RAF flies over Buckingham Palace to honor the first kiss

              … Royal Air Force jets flying proudly in the “English weather.”

                                      We saw youth and beauty, and adorable children …

But most of all, we saw a nation basking in its history and heritage …

As millions around the world celebrated the promise of commitment and love.

These  modern royals–“my” future royals–may belong to the British, but…

                                 they belong to me, too, because …
                                          love and commitment belong to the world.

Let our hearts be with this couple,

          … not only on this day of their promises to each other …
              … but let us wish them strength to surmount the challenges surely in their future,
                     … so they may show by example the rewards  of long-term marriage …
                            … and the example of working for peace in the world.


            Rita Elizabeth

Posted in Romance/love, Royalty, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

My Once and Future Royals (Part II)

Prince Harry and Kate Middleton at the Garter ...

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Some months ago, when Prince William and Kate Middleton became engaged, I couldn’t resist writing about my interest in the royals. Now that William and Kate’s wedding is a few hours away, I can’t resist writing another short post.

Life has been  hard for me lately, but I’m hanging in. I’m living in temporary quarters until the remodel of our new home is completed. My ill husband is  doing well while I do my own best to care for him. In a few days, he goes into the hospital again.

These things, combined with life’s usual daily tasks, have made time all too precious. There has hardly been time to get everything done, no less to write in this beloved blog.

Today, though, I simply must take pause for a little relaxation and stay-at-home travel. Today, I’m going to London!

When I lived near London, I loved to attend evensong at Westminster Abbey.

Westminster Abbey - sunset

Image by timbrauhn via Flickr

Or take a boat trip up the Thames to Greenwich and the Prime Meridian, (a.k.a. time zero, GMT.)

Prime meridian, Greenwich

Marker at the Prime Meridian: Image via Wikipedia

I loved to take walks through St. James Park.

Buckingham Palace, viewed from St James's Park...

St. James Park and distant view of Buckingham Palace: Image via Wikipedia

I went to loads of plays in the West End and ate at the excellent restaurants there. All these things were part of my life in the years I lived in England.

Though life was very good when I enjoyed these features of English life, there was one thing I didn’t like. That lone disappointment was standing in front of Buckingham Palace.

Buckingham Palace in London, England. taken by...
Image via Wikipedia

Not that this was inherently tedious; after all, if one stands in front of the palace long enough, one might get to chat with one of Her Majesty’s guards.

Royal Guards in front of the Royal Palace

Image via Wikipedia

The source of the problem was my own fault: I’d invited family and many friends to visit me from my home country, the good old USA. What was the one touristy thing every visitor wanted to do? You guessed it. Go to Buckingham Palace.

Now, anyone reading this who might be from England already knows the weather English people “enjoy”. (Just look at the background of the pictures in this post. Notice the clouds?) Time after time, at my countrymen’s request, I’d take them to the famous Palace. For much too long, we’d stand there on the “other,” public, side of the fence. We’d stand, freezing, in the chill and drear.

But tomorrow, the day of the big wedding, though there’s a likelihood of sprinkles, we’re also promised some springtime sun. And, instead of the usual gaggle of tourists rubbernecking as they hope to spot a royal, the royals will actually be seen. This time, how I’d like to be there!

Even so, I admit I’m not game to stay up through the night. Depending on the channel, TV coverage there starts at 10:00 or 11:00 a.m. (zero GMT in England)—-which translates to the wee hours in California. Trying to keep awake so late would wreck me for days. A wreck can’t take care of her dearest hubby.

But I’ve gone ahead and done it. I’ve met the challenge. I’ve performed my own miracle of stay-at-home travel.

I’ve finally learned to program my DVR!

Tonight, I’ll sleep with my hubby. As wedding bells ring, I’ll nestle in my pillow, sugarplum visions swirling in my head.  My future royals’ wedding will unfurl without my watching, and be recorded all the while for playback next morning.

In this way, I’ll be in sync with my “adoptive” country, my number two land, a land I  love. I’ll be in sync with people in London. And possibly with millions around the world.

Guess it was worth the effort to read the instructions for my DVR.

Cheers to all!

Bon voyage,

Rita Elizabeth

Posted in Romance/love, Royalty | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Keeping the fat in Tuesday

Selling our house. Moving out of that house. Getting data ready for the accountant to do our taxes.

I'm still experiencing stressful fallout from this move!

Taxes, taxes, taxes! The most complex tax year of my husband’s and my lives.

Tax Time (41/366)

Image by 427 via Flickr

These are the things that keep me enthralled. So wrapped up in them that stay-at-home-travel has fallen by the wayside.

More directly put, I’ve hardly blogged lately because of all this stress.

Stress Reduction Kit

Image by programwitch via Flickr

But back-seating this blog hasn’t been my only problem. I stress, therefore I eat.

Instead of making time to shop for  fruits and veggies, instead of cutting and slicing and cooking tasty, healthful meals, I’ve been grabbing. Cookies, crackers, ice cream, chocolate candy–whatever happens to be around at the time.

Chocolate ice cream

Image via Wikipedia

Last December, between Christmas and New Year’s, I started Weight Watchers, planning to ease myself in just before the New Year, to be one step ahead of all the poor schmoes who sign up after January 1st. WW is a fabulous program, recently updated to make it quite pleasant a way to lose weight. So pleasant, in fact, that in little more than a month, I’d lost seven pounds.

Then, it happened. My internet went down. Not only down, but for several days. Without the net, I couldn’t use Weight Watchers’ “e-tools,” a feature I’d grown to love.

Recipe: Autumn Macaroni

Image by bitchcakesny via Flickr

Not having e-tools really got me down.

To escape this horror, I ate with gay abandon–and my reckless eating shows. Seconds on the lips, forever on the hips. This old saw recounts the story of my life.


Image via Wikipedia

Yet, help is coming.  Ash Wednesday to the rescue!

Atlantic Ocean (Feb. 6, 2008) Electronics Tech...

Image via Wikipedia

But Fat Tuesday claims the day before.

Scenes from the 2004 Carnivale in Venice (IMG_...

Carnevale in Venice. Image by Alaskan Dude via Flickr

New Orleans, Venice, Marseilles, Rio,

Carnival Rio de Janeiro 2006 - União do parque...

Carnival in Rio de Janeiro (Image via Wikipedia)

all celebrate Fat Tuesday in similar ways.  Carnival, Mardi Gras,  Shrove Tuesday, Carnevale–throughout the Western world, revellers stuff their stomachs. They dance and drink themselves into oblivion on this last day before the beginning of Lent.

Even as I type words into this blog, my daughter revels in New Orleans, celebrating Mardi Gras with her good friends.


New Orleans Mardi Gras. Three revelers painted...

(No, this ISN'T my daughter. But I thought these guys were funny.) Image via Wikipedia

New Orleans: the morning after a Mardi Gras weekend, photo taken by my daughter. Sorry it's so tiny--when under duress, my technical skills fail.

Hot off the press, since I posted this–Better pictures just e-mailed in by my daughter!

New Orleans, Mardi Gras 2011

New Orleans, Mardi Gras 2011

New Orleans, Mardi Gras 2011

New Orleans, Mardi Gras 2011

New Orleans, Mardi Gras 2011

Starting on Ash Wednesday, the Christian tradition’s first day of Lent, faithful people look inward with an eye toward change. Though the practice seems to be have faded in recent years, some people give up things they enjoy. For example, when I was a child, my friends and I gave up candy for the six weeks of Lent. (Or, at least, we tried to stay away from candy for that long!)

Now that the throes collecting data for our taxes is in the past, I’m going to take advantage of Ash Wednesday. Instead of a gloomsday, Wednesday will be my day for beneficial change.

On Wednesday morning, I’ll take myself to a Weight Watchers meeting. Then, I’ll grocery shop. Later, I’ll take a walk. Around 6 p.m., I’ll begin to transform my purchases into hubby’s and my nutritious evening meal. And at the end of the day, I’ll log these healthy activities into e-tools. If my internet goes awry, I’ll just jot things down on a piece of paper and high-tail it over to the library next day. E-tools will work as well on their computers as on mine.

Sound like a plan? I see you right there, nodding in agreement.

Yes, I’m more than ready to get back on track. Ready for the healthy discipline of Lent.

Even so, I’ve gotta go now. The grocery store check-out guy waits with bated breath,  a quart of Hagen Daz in his hot little hand. Flavor? Coffee. (Luscious, of course.)

coffee ice cream with Oreo4

Image by wintersoul1 via Flickray

Maybe I’ll add something to that ice cream–something more spiritual. A candle, perhaps. I mean, add a candle, and the treat becomes holy.  The more holiness the better, don’t you think? Which to my way of thinking means two desserts are better than one.

Go ahead and light a candle for Mardi Gras!

After all, if not for me, who will keep the fat going this Tuesday?

Bon voyage,

Rita Elizabeth

Posted in Just for Fun | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Après the valentines: Francesca’s delicious lemon-leek chicken

Might any of you feel a bit let down after last weekend’s and last night’s hype about romance? Though my husband and I shared a lovely meal last night to celebrate the romance of our twenty-five plus years of marriage, all good things must come to an end. So it was with our Valentine’s dinner.

As we lingered over coffee, our drinks turned from hot to lukewarm. The rose the waiter gave me began to wilt.

Today, I sit at my computer with a peace and joy tinged with nostalgia as I remember Valentine’s Days from those twenty-five years. Some were spent abroad. Most were spent here amid our many gifts and blessings at home.

I remember a Valentine’s dinner I cooked for next-door neighbors, also the occasion I happened to learn that the husband was born on Valentine’s Day!

I remember Valentine’s suppers when our daughter was little, meals en famille, with heart-shaped cakes and our table’s centerpiece a “Valentine’s box” decked in red and white crepe paper. The box sported a slot at the top, in which family members inserted surprises for each other such as homemade cards or pieces of chocolate.

I remember Valentine’s Days spent at parties with friends.

Yes, Valentine’s Day is certainly romantic, but in my opinion, that romance should be for all kinds of people, not only for couples. To my way of thinking, Valentine’s Day is perfect for fellowship and friends.

And so I remember a special gift once given me by my dear friend, Francesca, visiting from Italy at the time. Her gift was a wonderful meal she cooked for my family–the recipe straight from her Tuscan  kitchen in Viareggio. That meal’s main dish is now part of my family’s regular repertoire. To compensate for any après Valentine’s let down, I offer this today as my gift to you!


Here’s what the dish looks like when almost done. The recipe is simple–easy to make–and my family asks me to make this all the time.

Francesca’s Delicious Lemon/Leek Chicken

Ingredients: about a pound of boneless chicken thighs, two (or three) large leeks, depending if you like lots of leeks with your chicken, juice of one lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper.

  1. Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces
  2. Slice the leeks fairly thin (wash thoroughly to avoid grit, and use only the white part of the leek and a little bit of the green)
  3. Put leeks in fry pan — pour 1/8 to 1/4 cup of olive oil over them, depending on how “oily” you like the dish
  4. Put chicken in the fry pan over the leeks
  5. Sprinkle salt and pepper on the chicken, to taste
  6. Sauté/stir fry at medium high heat (#7 on an electric range) for about 5 minutes, then add juice of one lemon and continue to cook.
  7. After about five minutes, add a little salt and continue to cook. Water will release into the pan.
  8. Continue to cook until the chicken is done. The leeks will be soft and tasty.
  9. Serve over rice.
  10. Note: you can add more lemon juice if you like this dish to be “lemony.” You can also use white (breast) meat instead of thighs, but be careful not to overcook since white meat can taste very dry.)

This dish is absolutely delicious. My recipe is somewhat imprecise since I obtained it by watching Francesca cook, but imprecision hardly matters–the dish is easy to make and tweak to your taste, wonderful to serve on a cold winter’s night. Depending upon what you serve with it, you can also make it a special meal for Spring. Many times, I have served it to guests. Everyone seems to love it.

So much for any post Valentine’s let downs. Just serve Francesca’s delicious lemon/leek chicken to your family or friends. Better yet, merely feast on it yourself! You’ll be glad you did.

Grazie, cara Francesca. Here’s a Valentine’s rose from my kitchen to yours!

Buon viaggio,

Rita Elizabeth

My Valentine's dinner rose isn't wilted any more

Posted in Domestic Arts, Entertaining, Food, Friendship, Recipes, Romance/love, Valentines | Tagged , , , , , , , | 12 Comments