Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!

Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!
Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Need Your Approval? Keep Walking...

WORK IN PROGRESS
In the course of this past week, I discovered that someone had dropped me on Facebook. Bwahahaha. What? Moi?? LOL Whatever dude. It happens and it's no big deal. My crazy frazzled life (and subsequent retelling of it in every detail) is not everyone's cup of tea. I totally get it.

What gave me pause and a momentary sense of insecurity was that I was actually pretty close to this guy back in my college years. I thought to myself, "What did I do?" And then I quickly got over it with a chuckle. You do that when you hit your 40's. Thankfully stuff doesn't bother you like it used to. You realize there are FAR MORE important things to deal with than someone not being friends with you or acquaintances or whatever the fuck that you may call them on Facebook these days.

To that dude that dropped me:  I say good-bye, sayonara, adios, auf Wiedersehen, arrivederci, au revoir BUTTHEAD.

I was intrigued though on why I felt that momentary sense of insecurity. I guess my years of psychology classes at Rutgers still have me questioning my undoubtedly questionable mental capabilities (or is it stability?). I mean I still get insecure, I've admitted that often enough. (See blogpost earlier this month for how neurotic I can get, LOL.) I got no problem with my neuroses. If you do, obviously your issue.

But what was it about this friend in that discovering that I was unceremoniously dropped, gave me an unsettling pause? I thought about our past friendship and then realized through introspection that I had ALWAYS been trying to prove myself to this guy. I had been seeking his approval since I met him. As embarrassing as it is to admit now, I had more or less been trying to get him to like me since day one. He did during college I am sure, but I never truly felt part of that "in crowd" with him. I always knew that in the back of my mind, and hence, kept trying to seek his approval. (HURL)

Well, I can tell you ... no more! His approval when I got it, didn't help me one bit. You what helped me? MYSELF. I seemed at some point in this fascinating period called adulthood, to transcend that place where I needed the approval of people like that. It is an amazing, wonderful feeling. So when I found I had been dropped, that unsettling pause gave way to a bit of chuckling, then laughter. 

Life's lessons. Hmmm. You really give a sigh of relief when you have one.  I get it now. And now I am onto the next neurosis ... #workinprogress

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Favorite Kitchen Items: Part Deux

Tovolo Pot Lid Lifts
In keeping with the theme of a previous blogpost of my favorite kitchen tools, http://frazzledatforty.blogspot.com/2015/02/favorite-kitchen-tools.html, I wanted to tell my readers about some other favorite items I love to use in the kitchen. This time, I included a couple food products I use often as well as one non-kitchen item, my Alessi hedgehog paperclip holder.

The first item that I really like is my "Lamb" Tovolo Pot Lid Lift. My sister Sheryl picked up this little gem for me while we met up one morning at Amy's Place, a kitchen store in the Reading Terminal Market in Philly.  Sheryl picked up the pig while I picked up the lamb. It is so whimsical yet it works and helps keep your pot from boiling over.There is also a chicken available. If you can't get to Amy's you can pick them up on Amazon.com.
My "Lamb" Tovolo Pot Lid

Zipstrip







The next favorite kitchen gadget that I love is my Zipstrip by Chef'n. This handy little item makes taking off rosemary leaves so easy. You stick the stem through the appropriate hold and pull it through. The leaves are deposited in the little attached cup. It is dishwasher safe and also has measurements for teaspoon, tablespoon and 1/4 cup on the actual cup itself for easy measuring. I also picked this up at Amy's Place in Reading Terminal Market.

Vintage glass banana dish 
I also tend to go for kitchen items which are aesthetically pleasing. This is where my crystal banana dish falls into place. This mid-century vintage glass boat gently curves around the banana bunch neatly holding it for display on your counter top or kitchen table. You can find them online for $15-$30 or at flea markets for $20 or less. You can also find them in different style and different colored Depression glass such as amber, green, white, or blue.
Vintage glass banana dish

Handmade Oven Rack Puller
My last official kitchen item in this post that I couldn't live without is my oven rack "puller." I found this trusty wooden gem at a flea market. It was handcrafted and part of it's charm is the burnt oven marks from continued use over the years.  This allows you to check on those casseroles or pies baking in the oven without burning your fingers. Of course you can find newer models made of heat-resistant silicone but I love mine for the simple fact that it shows it age and use.



Alessi Hedgehog Paperclip Holder
The following item is not a kitchen tool but I love it nonetheless and had to include it as a favorite! I found it at a yard-sale for 50 cents. It retails online for $29.00! It is my Italian design Alessi magnetic paperclip holder. I bought it not knowing what the heck it was but recognized the Alessi name on the bottom. I have loved Alessi products for years but usually they are beyond my budget. They are sleek, polished, or completely whimsical, like the magnetic hedgehog! I'd say I got my money's worth on this one. You can find it on Amazon.com as well.


Plugra European Salted Butter
The next three "items" are actually food products which I use quite frequently. The first is Plugra European Style Butter. You can purchase it either salted or unsalted, One can blame this favorite on my years working at the Ritz-Carlton. The chefs swore on using this butter. I have come to love it and consider it a budget-worthy indulgence. I personally like the salted butter. I don't use butter often and the salt extends and preserves the shelf life of the butter. Some say that unsalted butter has a more mellow sweetness. I say try both and pick which ever you like better. LOL, easy as that. I've seen 8 oz, on sell for as little as $2.00 on sale to as much as $7.00 in NYC.

McCormick's Southwest Spice
Another food item that I LOVE is McCormick's 'Perfect Pinch' Southwest Sweet 'n Smokey Seasoning. There are several varieties in the Perfect Pinch spice line including Cajun, Asian, Caribbean Jerk, Italian, Mexican, Fiesta Citrus, and several others. This is my "go-to" spice when I can't figure out what to put on something. I have used it on eggs, pork, chicken, steak, and various seafood. It's flavor it not too strong and obviously can be adjusted depending on how much spice you add. I'm always a fan of the shaker top bottle too since I'm usually the idiot who would accidentally pour the entire bottle on a grilling chicken breast.

Blaze Balsamic Glaze
Lastly, another favorite kitchen cooking ingredient is the balsamic glaze. I am a big fan of Blaze Balsamic Glaze. This was the first one I tried and if I can find it, I buy this brand over others. At this point, there are many brands now available on the market. I really love using balsamic glaze in my cooking as it saves you a tremendous amount of time having to cook down balsamic vinegar to make your own 'glaze'. It adds a tangy sweetness to whatever your are sauteing or grilling. I usually finish off a dish with the glaze, creating a dramatic design or pattern worthy of a 5 star chef. :-)  I use the glaze on grilled chicken, steak or vegetables. It goes particularly well with asparagus, zucchini, or Brussels sprouts. You can of course drizzle it on a traditional Caprese salad of tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil. I have read of cooks using it to finish off risotto and fresh strawberries and even ice cream!

I hope you have enjoyed this blogpost. I like sharing items I find which I feel others may appreciate. I'll keep an eye out for other kitchen items and ingredients and will then post again soon.







Monday, October 19, 2015

Our Neurotic Routines

Neurotic!
I have come to realize that as we get older, so much of what we do is so routine based. It has helped me to understand that if someone is their 40's and single, it is much more difficult to merge households in a relationship than someone say in their 20's. You are much more "set" in your ways ... or routines. Maybe you can't teach an old dog new tricks, eh? Or it may just be a bit more difficult.

The routines which drive me have been established over years of a repetitive nature. It is a comforting and relaxing. My routines may seem a bit neurotic to others, but to me they give me peace and allow me to continue parts of my day stress-free. Other's routines I may find downright odd but I accept them nevertheless as they are what drive themselves. I guess we shouldn't judge another's routines! Accept theirs because yours maybe be a bit quirkier. LOL

Sometimes you may find a friend in your life that you are in sync with and what a wonderful feeling that is. My friend Annie and I both are addicted to our paper planners and lists. When something changes, we "white it out" in our planners so we can then write over it. I remember when we discovered that we both did this and it was like we were connected on some spiritual level. LOL ... we were connected all over Wite-Out!  I once tried an electronic planner when they first came out but had a mini-breakdown when I lost all of my info over a dead battery. NEVER AGAIN.

After further discussion, Annie and I found that we are both list writers.  Lists are another comforting habit. I just love writing lists out of what I need to do. It relaxes and puts me at ease. I create a daily list of what needs to be done but I also have a master list AND a monthly temporary list. The master list has three columns labeled A, B, and C denoting the items importance. As something gets completed, it gets crossed off.

My temporary monthly list are items which I know won't get done on the daily list but are not important enough yet to be transfered to the master list. Neurotic? You BET! Me? Absolutely! Who needs Xanax when I have my lists to comfort and relax me.

I get my neurotic list writing behavior from my Mom. Every morning over coffee, she would transfer yesterday's "items to do" to that day's "items to do." That was her daily routine done over coffee and the morning talk shows.

Routines are established and followed, sometimes blindly. They can help serve as a memory crutch if we happen to be forgetful. I have my morning and evening routines.

My morning routine is planned down to the second. It's like a finely tuned machine. It takes me 45 minutes to complete before I go to work. In truly exhuastive detail:  I get up, use the bathroom, pet the cats, feed the cats, take my pills for my various ailments, make coffee, shave first then hit the shower, brush my teeth, apply some sort of goop to the hair, inspect the face, turn on the iron in the laundry room, throw the pants into the dryer with a wet washcloth to get out wrinkles, run upstairs, get lunch together, run downstairs, iron shirt, grab Moxie who has followed me down and take her back upstairs so she doesn't get stuck in the basement, run downstairs, takes pants out of dryer, unplug iron, get into clothes upstair, get morning coffee ready, pack lunch bag, get my messenger bag, double check cats are upstairs, grab keys, grab wallet, grab cellphone, DOUBLE check the coffee pot is off and then DOUBLE check that the iron and dryers are off. After a quick good bye to Max who is now sleeping in his favorite spot on the guest room bed, I make my way to the front door where Miss Moxie is crying incessantly because I am leaving. I give her an extra petting and I'm out the door!

Now this routine, including the visits with the cats and the OCD moments of checking and rechecking the iron, coffee pot, and dryer are perfectly timed out. There are even other things I do but just failed to mention. I can and do get it done within 45 minutes or less. And luckily the cats are completely in sync with the morning routine.

But if John gets up and starts moving sleepily about the hallway or kitchen, it throws me completely off!  Our house is just a bit cramped with all of the antiques. Throw in two sleepy guys and two hungry cats, the morning routine is thrown out the window.  The cats don't know who to get food from. John and I are like bumper cars in the kitchen knocking into each other, each vying for the microwave, fridge, or coffee pot. Cats are getting under foot, getting more anxious and excitable with each passing minute. My finely tuned machine breaks down and I end up needing an extra 15 minutes to deal with the ensuing madness!

The evening routine involves feeding the cats, cleaning the litter box, doing dishes, a spot of laundry, and working out. I won't go further into the night's boring routine but I will say that it is just as neurotic and usually involves a nightcap or two and several creams to keep me looking young and wrinkle free. LOL...yeah right! I then sleep very well at night, as long as the machine doesn't break down!