Friday, May 31, 2013

The Five-Cent Tour

This week my sister sent me an enormous spreadsheet evaluating our options for this year's vacation, which set off ripples of guilt for not yet posting the information from LAST year's excursion.  I'm ashamed by but resigned to the fact that I am not going to be able to give you a port-by-port description of our cruise - you will have to settle for a few photographic highlights.  This is Dubrovnik, Croatia; notice the polished (by feet) streets, which must be lethally slick when wet:

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Breathing Right

I've mentioned before (probably at tedious length) that I have Allergy Issues.  Everywhere I move I eventually become sensitive to the local allergens and throw out new symptoms.  One thing remains constant, though - the nasal congestion.

This and the related post-nasal drip make sleeping difficult.  I can't sleep on my back at all (I wake up in the night feeling that I'm drowning), and during the worst months of allergy season I suffer anxiety dreams all night long that are probably caused by lack of oxygen to the brain.

For a while I considered getting a CPAP machine, but when Barry got his he was told that his nasal allergies had to be under control before the CPAP would do him any good.  Clearly, then, that's not the answer.

Several years ago, when Breathe Right strips first came out, I tried them to see if they could hold my nasal passages open even a little farther during the night.  Unfortunately, I never managed to make it through until morning with the strip still attached to my nose; the adhesive apparently wasn't strong enough to stay put on my (admittedly rather large) nose when I rolled from side to side in my sleep.

However, recently I was scanning the allergy nostrums in the drug store and noticed that Breathe Right strips now come in Original and two other designs - Extra (with a stronger adhesive) and Advanced (a stiff plastic design).  I bought small packages of Extra and Advanced strips and gave them a try.  The Advanced also didn't work for me - once again, the adhesive isn't quite up to the task of keeping the strip on my nose - but the Extra model stays in place and does the job.

Do I enjoy scrubbing my nose and sticking an ugly misshapen Band-Aid-like item on it every night (not to mention the fun of peeling it off in the morning)?  Not really, but the pleasure of sleeping the night through in peaceful oblivion more than makes up for any temporary annoyance.

"The worst thing in the world is to try to sleep and not to."  ~F. Scott Fitzgerald

Friday, May 10, 2013


Perhaps 360 days out of the year I consider Jello to be a faux food, a hideous abomination with no place in my pantry.  When spring rolls around, however, I occasionally crave one of the Jello salads my mother served when we were children.  (I know, some of you probably still have snow on the ground, but the temps have been in the 80's and 90's here.  Arizona blasted right past spring into summer.)

Recently I had to take something to a potluck dinner, so I made this salad, hoping I would have leftovers enough for at least a couple of al fresco meals on my screened porch.  I wasn't quite that lucky, but by serving the remains on a plate of mixed greens I did manage one yummy lunch.

I don't know where Mom originally got this recipe, but I'm guessing a women's magazine in the 1960's.


1 package lemon or lime Jello (I prefer lemon)
1 cup boiling water
3 hard-boiled eggs, sliced horizontally
6 pimiento-stuffed green olives, sliced
1 cup diced celery
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup canned tuna (drained)

Dissolve the Jello in the boiling water and pour half of it into a 9"x9" glass pan.  Arrange the egg and olive slices in the pan with the Jello.  Set aside. Mix the other half of the Jello with the celery, mayo, and tuna.  Refrigerate both mixtures until the Jello with eggs and olives is stiff; then pour the tuna mixture on top of it.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

To serve, cut into squares and carefully place them upside down on salad plates (with or without a bed of lettuce).  The Jello with eggs and olives should end up on top. 

Note: To make this marginally more healthy, use sugar-free Jello, water-packed tuna, and light mayonnaise or a mixture of light mayo and low-fat plain yogurt.

“It's as if we spend our entire lives avoiding Jell-O but it is always there at the end, waiting.”
~ John Grisham, Ford County 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Ladies Who Brunch

On New Year's Day I invited my sister Sue over for brunch and to watch the Rose Parade on HGTV, which has as commentators actual gardeners who can pronounce the names of the plants and never cuts away from the action for commercials or plugs for their other programs.  She was happy to come, both to watch the parade and to browse the buffet.  She admitted that a hearty traditional breakfast was her favorite meal, particularly if she didn't have to get up early to eat it.  Since I love brunch as well, we've been occasionally going out for a late breakfast together on Saturdays ever since.

Last weekend was the annual Home and Garden show in downtown Phoenix.  Sue wanted to go because she's looking for a reliable contractor to rebuild the watering system in her front yard.  I was happy to accompany her because the Property Brothers (also courtesy of HGTV) were going to be speaking, and who can't use a little eye candy occasionally?  Before cruising the show, however, we stopped for brunch at Cibo.

The full name of the restaurant is Cibo Urban Pizzeria Cafe, which doesn't sound much like a brunch place, but on Saturdays they serve items from their breakfast menu until 2:00, and mimosas, bellinis, and Bloody Marys are also available.  This time we had crepes.  Sue's was filled with a mix of mushrooms; mine was filled with salmon and nested on a bed of watercress and arugula, with a small bowl of fresh fruit on the side.  The crepes themselves were perfectly done - thin and browned with no burning - and the fillings very savory.  The Bloody Mary I washed mine down with was made with plenty of horseradish, just the way I like it.

Cibo is another of the downtown restaurants located in a rehabbed historic home, in this case a 1913 bungalow with exposed brick walls, stained glass, stone fireplace, and a spacious patio with firepit for evening cocktails when the weather permits.  For those who aren't as excited about breakfast as Sue and I are, their thin crust pizzas are also terrific, particularly the ones featuring locally-made artisanal Schreiner's sausage.

Out in the West Valley where Sue and I live, the main brunch options are Denny's and Village Inn.  I'm thinking we need more reasons to visit downtown Phoenix at around 11:00 on Saturdays.

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?"
"What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"
"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully. "It's the same thing," he said.”
~ A.A. Milne