Magazines in the Doctor’s Office and the Pros and Cons of Teaching Cursive Writing


There are jokes about magazines in doctor’s offices and yesterday I realized why. I was waiting in radiology for an appointment for an x-ray and there on the table was ‘X-Ray Today’ magazine and ‘Radiology and You’.

Then when I was waiting for my primary physician in Internal Medicine, there were year old health magazines and copies of ‘Prevention’. Someone had even sneaked a ‘Men’s Health’ in for good measure..

So imagine my surprise, when I found an unusual non health magazine just lying out in the open. Yes, it was six months old, but the ‘Costco Connection’ was something interesting to read while waiting for my appointment. I had never before seen this magazine and while all the special offers had expired, there were some good articles.

The one that interested me the most, was an article on the pros and cons of teaching cursive writing in the schools. I had never given this much thought. I know I was taught handwriting in around the fourth grade and so were my children.

I get nice handwritten thank you notes from my grandchildren who are nine and eleven and it is a pleasure to see their handwriting, even on the envelopes.

Evidently with the way the world is now, with computers, texting and emailing, there is very little use for actual handwriting any more. Other than it is a nice social grace, and we don’t have too many of those any more either.

The argument for teaching handwriting as a school subject is a little weak. Mainly it has to do with the importance of a person’s signature. (Why not just teach that?)

Each child would only have to learn two or three capital letters and about ten lower case letters. And as they would only have to write two words, they could probably squeeze this class in between typing and spelling.

Although with the spell check feature on computers, and phones that correct your spelling, this may be obsolete soon too. But then we wouldn’t have spelling bee’s. Oh, dear, what is this world coming to?

On the other hand, the opponents of teaching cursive writing in the schools certainly have some good points. I think in a debate, they would win.

One, the time that it takes could better be spent teaching something more useful. Two, all school papers need to be typed nowadays. And three, most children by the age they are taught cursive writing, or as we called it ‘longhand’, own a computer and a cell phone and either email or text their correspondence.

Even invitations, which I recall lovingly writing by hand and giving them to my friends personally, are handled by eVite. You can email your invitations and the person can RSVP by email and the eVite company keeps track of the whole shebang.

I remember getting my first typewriter for high school graduation. It was a manual typewriter and I carefully packed it and took it to college in 1955. Shortly after that, electric typewriters came out and there were even portable models. But they hummed, and people said the sound got in the way of your thinking.

Then there was the word processor. This marvel allowed you to move type around and edit whole paragraphs. I couldn’t wait to get one. I decided on the Brother Whisper Writer. I went to Staples, got a demonstration, bought the machine and took it home.

I set it up, plugged it in, and it just sat there and wouldn’t go. My husband was laughing his head off, as he thought this was ridiculous anyway. I packed it all up in the original styrofoam and box and lugged it back to the store. I complained that it didn’t work.

The fellow who had helped me in the first place, plugged it in and then showed me that to make it work you had to press the Start button, which was on the back of the machine. Of course I felt like an idiot.

Now that I have had a computer for nearly ten years, I can’t imagine not having one. But now I enjoy using interesting fonts to make my emails unique.

My favorite one is Comic Sans for all my general writing, but on the subject of Cursive Writing, I do like the the Lucida Handwriting font for special thank you notes and poetry.

I also use various stationary styles which I order from Equinux. These are called Stationary Packs and you get about 100 styles for $29.95. Pack 2 is $49.95 and there are a lot more choices. Many can be customized using your own photos.

I like a large font, so I usually use an 18 or 20 size. This always comes out perfect and I must say, a whole lot easier to read that my personal handwriting, which is not so great.

I was always a straight A student, but I got a C in handwriting. As I recall, I didn’t hold the pencil correctly and my posture while writing was not acceptable.

Amazingly enough, I managed to graduate high school, and go on to UCLA and all the time, did all my homework, reading and writing on my bed, lying down, leaning against a pile of pillows.


My favorite Candy (candies)


The acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree-granddaughter Cami at three, with her first box of See’s candy

After all my blogs on food and hot fudge, then diets and healthy habits, I realize I still love candy. I have some favorites and will tell you about each one.

My all time favorite is anything from See’s candy. I am partial to their bridge mix, if it is something to munch on while watching TV or in a movie. I even used this as comfort food as I was getting my tattoo last week. (see blog from January 21)

But if it is a regular box of Assorted Chocolates, I always eat the California Brittle and the Peanut Crunch first. Hint: These are square and in the corners. They used to have one marzipan in each box, but now you have to buy that from the ‘counter’.

I can tell what each candy is like inside, just from looking at the shape and the swirl on top. My daughter Jody, is also an expert at this feat and she amazes her friends with this knowledge. Oh, no, neither Jody or I will ever get stuck with an apricot cream filled chocolate or the maple/coconut one.

My love affair with See’s candy started when I was five years old. My mother, sister and I were living in Los Angeles, and my father was in Hawaii. We had been separated by WWII. It was my fifth birthday, March 16, 1943.

The doorbell rang and it was a delivery for me. It was a huge package. We put it on the dining room table and when I opened it, I couldn’t believe it: a five pound box of See’s candy from my father. The perfect birthday present for a five year old child.

It was about two feet long and one foot wide. Three layers of candy. My mother didn’t look too pleased. I guess she was trying to figure out how to dole this out to me, so I wouldn’t just sit down and try to eat it all at once.

Over the years, See’s has always been a symbol of celebration. Birthdays, Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day. See’s ‘Happy Habit’ extends to Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Graduation, Halloween and Thanksgiving.

Now there are even more causes to celebrate. See’s has jumped on the candy bandwagon and now has special occasions such as St. Patrick’s Day and the Fourth of July. Somehow green candy and red/white/blue candy never ‘did’ it for me.

I used to collect Barbie dolls and I had a See’s Barbie doll dressed in the starched white uniform of the See’s workers. Mary Sees would roll over in her grave at how ‘modern’ things have become. My goodness, five years ago they even started accepting Visa and Mastercard.

I do like black candy. That is called licorice. There are many kinds. I used to like the long black ropes that took a long time to eat. But now they aren’t the same at all. They are like plastic rather than rubber. There are licorice jelly belly’s and licorice ice cream at Baskin Robbins. I think my favorite ones now are the scottie dogs and the multi assortment in the tin from England.

Knowing that I like licorice, for Christmas my sister gave me some bath gel in licorice scent. It was a limited edition by Philosophy and it is really disgusting. Think I’ll stick with their Candy Cane bath gel, which they only have at Christmas time.

Another type of candy I like are lollipops. These are good, as they take a long time to eat, so a little goes a long way. I like Tootsie Pops, but my favorite flavor, lemon, was discontinued twenty years ago. Orange and grape are ok, chocolate is pretty good, but why did they have to get rid of lemon?

I was in a convenience store and saw a whole box of yellow wrapped Tootsie Pops and thinking they were lemon, I got ten. When I got home I realized my mistake. They were banana. Now that is really awful.

Lately the best way to buy Tootsie Pops is in the 100 count box assortment from Amazon. Price wise it comes to about 25 cents each. (with shipping). Of course there are some banana, and the new flavors such as mango and blueberry, but you do get about a dozen chocolate ones and quite a few red ones too.

I like See’s lollipops also. The box assortment is a better deal than one for 65 cents, and if you like all three flavors, vanilla, chocolate and butterscotch, you are in luck.

I like caramel and so I have always been a big fan of Sugar Daddy’s. Nobody in Hawaii stocks these and they are very expensive to buy on the internet. It comes out to about $2 per lollipop with shipping.

So imagine my delight when at Halloween, CVS/Longs had bags of miniature Sugar Daddy’s for only $3.98. Gee, with thirty lollipops in a bag, that is only thirteen cents each. They aren’t quite the same as the big ones, but pretty close. And the best part is, they don’t get stuck in your teeth and feel like the caramel is going to pull out your fillings.

Then when Halloween is over and the leftover bags of candy are sold at 75% off, each bag is only $1.00 and now we are down to about three cents each. Since, they are small, you can’t eat just one. Three is about right, so that is only ten cents.

Then the following week what was still left on the shelves was 90% off and I got two more bags at 39 cents each. At this rate you could eat five and it would be about a nickel. Now it is almost February and I am running out of Sugar Daddy’s.

Since the title of this blog is Money Saving Secrets….., here is one for you. The day after a holiday is the best time to go candy shopping. The Monday after Easter is a great time to visit See’s. I can eat a chocolate bunny any day. And eggs are a year round item. Who cares if they are chocolate?

Even Neiman Marcus has a wonderful half price sale in their candy department right after Christmas. Not only do they have all their beautiful boxes of candy on sale, but also their rum cakes and huge tins of popcorn.

And the best part of shopping there, is that few people seem to know about this and so it is not very crowded. As long as you are there, be sure to also check out the gourmet food and wines on sale.

I got two bottles of excellent champagne last year for $25 a bottle. These were perfect for New Years Eve, and no more expensive than had I gotten Kirkland champagne at Costco. Plus the shopping bag was great!

So consider yourself warned, and mark your calendar for December 26, 2011/ Neiman Marcus candy department sale.

English is a crazy language.


I have always enjoyed writing and learning about language. So when I got this in the mail from a girlfriend, I had to share it will all you readers. Enjoy!


Read all the way to the end…  This took someone a lot of work to

put together!!!

You think English is easy?1) The bandage was woundaround the wound.

2) The farm was used to produce produce .

3) The dump was so full that it had to

refuse more refuse.

4) We must polish

the Polish furniture.

5) He could lead if he

would get the lead out.

6) The soldier decided to

desert his dessert in the desert.

7) Since

there is no time like the present, he thought it was

time to present

the present .

8) A bass was painted on the

head of the bass drum.

9) When shot at, the dove

dove into the bushes.

10) I did not object to

the object.

11) The insurance was invalid for

the invalid.

12) There was a row among the

oarsmen about how to row .

13) They were too

close to the door to close it.

14) The buck

does funny things when the does are present.

15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer


16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his

sow to sow..

17) The wind was too strong

to wind the sail.

18) Upon seeing the tear in

the painting I shed a tear.

19) I had to

subject the subject to a series of tests.


How can I intimate this to my most intimate


Let’s face it – English is

a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in hamburger; neither

apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren’t invented

in England or French

fries in France . Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren’t sweet, are meat.

We take English for

granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that

quicksand can work

slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it

a pig.

If teachers taught, why didn’t preachers praught? If a

vegetarian eats

vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?

Sometimes I think all the English speakers

should be committed to

an asylum for the verbally insane. In what language do people recite at a play and play

at a recital?

Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have

noses that run and feet

that smell?

How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the

same, while a wise man

and a wise guy are opposites? You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a

language in

which your house can

burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which, an

alarm goes off by going


English was invented by people, not computers, and it

reflects the creativity

of the human race, which, of course, is not a race at all. That is why, when the

stars are out, they are

visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.

PS. – Why doesn’t ‘Buick’ rhyme with ‘quick’





One month after Christmas!

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I can check each day and see how many readers read each blog. My hot fudge sundae blog got six times more ‘hits’ than my spagetti sauce blog. However both got more than my dollhouse blog, so I guess you all like food articles.

For those of you who did read my spagetti sauce blog, here is how to make excellent minestrone soup out of what is left. Using the mushroom, tomato, onion, beef broth mixture here is what I did. (And it’s OK to go back and look at a blog from before that you missed)

First brown a chopped onion and celery in some olive oil. Add one can of garbonzo beans and one can of kidney beans. Add tomato mixture (about three or four cups) and an equal part of water. Sprinkle on some dried thyme. Bring to a boil. Add half a cup or so of elbow macaroni and boil on medium for ten minutes. That’s it.

Topped with parmesan cheese, this is a complete meal. Great served with french bread. I just had two bowls for lunch.

A girlfriend sent me the following After Christmas Verse and I am sending it on to you. Enjoy, and don’t take it personally.

The AFTER Christmas Verse 

Twas the month after Christmas,
and all through the house,
Nothing would fit me,
not even a blouse.

The cookies I’d nibbled,
the chocolate I’d taste
At the holiday parties
had gone to my waist.

When I got on the scales
there arose such a number!
When I walked to the store
(less a walk than a lumber),

I’d remember the marvellous meals I’d prepared;
The gravies and sauces and beef nicely rared,
The rum balls and the wine, the bread and the cheese
And the way I’d never said, “No thank you, please.”

As I dressed myself in my husband’s old shirt
And prepared once again to do battle with dirt…
I said to myself, as I only can,
“You can’t spend a winter, disguised as a man!”

So, away with the last of the sour cream dip.
Get rid of the fruit cake, every cracker and chip.
Every last bit of food that I like must be banished
Till all the additional ounces have vanished.

I won’t have a cookie, not even a lick.
I’ll want only to chew on a long celery stick.
I won’t have hot biscuits, or corn bread, or pie.
I’ll munch on a carrot and quietly cry.

I’m hungry, I’m lonesome, and life is a bore…
But isn’t that what January is for?
Unable to giggle, no longer a riot.
Happy New Year to all, and to all a good diet.


Spagetti Sauce and Other Italian Favorites

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I love spagetti in all it’s forms. The most traditional is my mother’s recipe for spagetti sauce. Brown one pound of ground round with one chopped onion and a few cloves of garlic. Add one can tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce and tomato soup. A heaping tablespoon of chili powder, oregano, salt and pepper.

Today I wanted to make this but I didn’t have any meat and I didn’t feel like going to the market. So here is what I came up with. I had a box of mushrooms so I chopped those up with the onion and proceeded as usual. Except I didn’t have tomato sauce or tomato soup, so I doubled up on the canned tomatoes and added a can of beef broth. Not bad.

I enjoy cooking with what ingredients I have on hand. It made quite a large amount and I have two jars left over in the fridge. I’ll have to think of something unique to do with these.

Maybe I can make some minestrone soup. I would think that would have similar things in it. This could be the base. Onions, mushrooms, tomatoes. I can’t remember what all is in minestrone soup. Garbonza beans? Macaroni? Thank God for the Internet.

Maybe I could doctor up one jar of sauce and turn it into lasagna. All I need to add is some Italian sausage, mozzarella and ricotta cheese. Oh, yes, some lasagna noodles. And of course parmesan cheese.

I love Italian food. That and Chinese are my two favorite ‘eating out’ foods. Usually when I go out for an Italian dinner I either order linguine and clams or pizza.

When I was nineteen and a new bride, I went to a bank that gave you a present every time you made a deposit. Each week I would go to the bank and put $10 in my savings account. That year they were giving Chef Boyardee pizza mix.

It came in a box with three parts. The dry mix that when combined with water became the dough. The can of pizza sauce to spread all over, and the packet of parmesan cheese for the top. I always bought a ball of mozarella to grate on top and sometimes a can of mushrooms.

I thought this was the greatest dinner and often served it for company. If it was a special occasion I would write something with the mushrooms. Happy Birthday was not too hard to do.

I don’t know if they still make this product. I’ll have to check it out next time I go to the market. I know Pillsbury has a pizza crust in a tube that you just unroll and bake. I think it is pretty easy to make pizza dough in the Cuisinart. Think I’ll try that one of these days.

One of the best and easiest pizza dough is simply a bread recipe for French bread. Add a little more sugar and spread it in the pan. Bake about ten minutes before spreading on the pizza sauce and cheese. By the way Contadina makes a good Pizza Squeeze sauce in a plastic jar. Easy and it stores well in the fridge.

There is one item I heartily recommend. That is the shredded parmesan cheese at Costco. This comes in a big plastic container and is superior to anything you can get in a regular market. Of course it is great on pasta, in salad and all the usual ways.

But here is another way to use parmesan cheese. If you want to make chicken parmesan, just mix about a half cup of canned milk, a half cup of parmesan cheese and juice of half a lemon. This recipe is from a Pet milk ad in 1960.

Flatten a chicken breast, (one for each person) season flour with garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper. Dip chicken in flour/canned milk/flour and  saute till browned. Put in an oven dish. Then pour a can of tomato sauce over, top with milk/cheese mixture and bake at 375 till browned. Yum. (You may want to use a little more cheese) This is good served on a bed of noodles.

Hot Fudge Sauce for a Great Hot Fudge Sundae


Martha Stewart ‘Living’ February 2011, Featuring Hot Fudge Sauce

My favorite dessert of all time is a hot fudge sundae. I have tried many recipes for hot fudge sauce, so I consider myself something of an expert.

I have tried melting a king size Hershey bar with almonds into a cup of heavy cream (whipping cream) that you have heated on stove, and this is pretty good. Also Smucker’s Hot Fudge in a jar is not bad. But this recipe in Martha’s current issue tops them all.

When I got this magazine I started salivating. I couldn’t wait to make this hot fudge sauce. I didn’t have all the ingredients on hand so I had to put it off for a couple of days.

The biggest problem with this recipe is finding it in the magazine. The photo is on page 112, but the recipe is on page 166. There is nothing to steer you to that page, you just have to search.

But the search was worth it. First bring 1 1/4 cup of heavy cream and half a stick of unsalted butter to a boil over a medium slow heat. (I only had one cup of cream, so I used some half and half for the rest). You could probably use 1/4 cup of canned milk. Then you add 2/3 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup white sugar and 1/2 cup light corn syrup and stir till sugar dissolves.

(Meantime in the food processor, chop up two bittersweet chocolate bars to make one cup. I couldn’t find bittersweet, so I used one dark semi sweet Cadbury 3.5 oz bar and two squares of unsweetened baking chocolate. Recipe calls for six ounces or one cup chopped.)

After the sugar dissolves, sift in one cup of Dutch cocoa powder and 1/8 teas. salt. I used Hershey’s and that was just fine. Whisk this in till smooth.  Add chocolate and stir till melted. Then add 2 teaspoons vanilla extract.

The recipe said to serve immediately, so even though it was only ten a.m., I made myself a hot fudge sundae. Sort of an oximoron, but I used fat free ice cream by Bryers.

The other choice would have been to keep the sauce hot in the top of a double boiler over simmering water. I don’t have a double boiler and I wasn’t planning on serving this till tomorrow, so I just poured it into a tupperware container and now I have a nice amount of hot fudge sauce in my refrigerator.

The closest hot fudge to this I have ever tasted was at The Brown Derby in Hollywood. They served their hot fudge in a little individual pitcher alongside the plain vanilla ice cream in a glass bowl.

For you readers who are not experts at making a hot fudge sundae, here are a few pointers. First, if you have an actual glass ice cream glass like they used to serve at the ‘counter’, that is perfect. But if not, just make sure you serve it in a glass container, not plastic.

Make sure fudge is HOT and pour a little in the bottom, then two scoops of vanilla ice cream and then top with lots of hot fudge sauce. Hagen Dazs is best, but any vanilla ice cream is OK. You can top with a squirt of Reddi Whip and a cherry or some chopped almonds if you want to get fancy.

Another of my favorite versions is a Hawaiian style that was made famous by Canlis restaurant, which is no longer in Hawaii. This sundae was served in a stemmed stainless steel dish. Two scoops rich vanilla ice cream, topped with hot fudge, chunks of fresh pineapple and freshly grated coconut.

For those of you on the mainland, you could probably get a similar effect using a can of Dole pineapple chunks in juice/drain juice. Or you could find a bag of fresh frozen pineapple chunks in the freezer case. Maybe.

Since freshly grated coconut is impossible to find even in Hawaii, and actually grating a coconut is a lot of work, you have my permission to use the angel flake coconut in the baking section. The one in the can is better than the bagged variety, but I haven’t seen this in a long time.

If you like a banana split, that is pretty easy. It really looks a lot better in an oval glass dish, called a banana split dish. Just slice a banana the long way/and in half if you are making two sundaes and only have one banana. The real way is with chocolate, vanilla and strawberry ice cream and three toppings including marshmallow.

I make a banana Royale which is just banana, vanilla ice cream and Hot Fudge. And this is fine in a regular dish.Whatever your favorite style, I hope you enjoy the recipe for the sauce.


Valentines Cards

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A doctored up card, the funniest card of the year and a Valentine baseball

I just got home from Hallmark. Valentine’s Day is almost a month away, but if you don’t get your cards early, all the cute ones are gone.

I read where there are over a billion Valentine’s cards bought and sent, and that Hallmark accounts for over half of them. (Or maybe that was Christmas). Oh, well, it’s a lot.

I was looking for a special card for my sister. There are really awful Sister cards and none were appropriate. So I looked in the Friend section and found a darling card. Except the two girls on the motorcycle didn’t look anything like my sister and me. They were blond with pigtails and we both have dark short hair.

So I got the card, came home, downloaded some photos from iPhoto, cut out the faces and glued them on the card with rubber cement.It is so cute now. If you find a great card, but it needs a little tweaking, get it anyway.

The cards seem very expensive this year. Most cards are $3.69 to $4.99, but there were quite a few in the $5.99 to $7.99 price range. I guess I am spoiled. I usually buy my cards in bulk at Costco. Thirty cards for less than $20.

But they don’t have Valentine’s cards. Although maybe this year they do. Too late, I already got mine.

Now for the funniest card of the year. A little girl texting her message “Hbppx Vblfthmet Dcy!”  Sounds like me trying to type a message on my iPhone.

Inside it says “Thank God, they still make greeting cards and pens”.

This year there seemed to be an abundance of cards from the Cat and the Dog. The cat ones are all very clever. The dog ones just say things like ” I woof you”. Whoever writes these cards must be a Cat Person.

So if you haven’t started your Valentine card shopping yet, this is a friendly reminder that the time is NOW. Not all stores are geared up this early. Longs Drugs has a big candy selection of heart shaped boxes. I did go to See’s candy and they don’t have their heart shaped candy boxes yet.

Hallmark has half their store devoted to Valentines Day. Besides the cards, there is candy and stuffed bears. Jewelry and toys. My sister is a baseball fan and I did get an adorable baseball. Where the red stitching goes, it is in the shape of a heart.

MVP of my heart

On a recent trip to Kansas City, the home of Hallmark, I was amazed at their impact on the community. There is a Hall’s department store and a Hall’s Center, which is an enormous complex of offices and a shopping mall. It is a family business. (The Hall family).

Kansas City is the home of many famous companies. H. and R. Block and Sprint are just two of them. In Los Angeles, the big sports arena is called Staples Center. In KC it is called Sprint Center.

I had a great time in Kansas City but I may have to go back some day. I missed two attractions that are unique to Kansas City. One is the dollhouse museum and the other a tour of Hallmark. In the meantime, I’ll just have to visit their stores, which are truly a marvel of merchandising.

And by the way, if you are in the mood to get some Christmas or Chaunaka cards, they are 75% off and they still have a pretty good selection.



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