Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Wordless Wednesday

When you live in North Carolina and come to visit Grandma in Western New York, this is how you get to spend your morning!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Tips That Could Save Your Life

I received this information from my daughter-in-law yesterday and wanted to share it. It's very sobering, especially at this time of year when we are supposed to focus on joy and peace. Nevertheless, it could someday save your life or the life of someone you love. Please read it and pass it along.


If someone tries to restrain you, remember that your elbow is the strongest part of your body. If your attacker grabs you from behind, don't twist and turn but use your elbow and hit hard.

If a robber asks for your purse or wallet, do not hand it to him. Instead throw it away from you. Chances are he is more interested in it than in you. Throw it and then run in the opposite direction.

If you are ever put in the trunk of a car, kick out the rear tail lights, stick your arm out of the hole you've created and wave like crazy. The driver won't see you but everyone else will.

Women have a tendency to sit in their cars after running errands (checking receipts, lists, etc). Do not do this! Predators watch for these moments to enter the passenger side. As soon as you get into your car, lock the doors and leave.

When pumping gas, or going inside to pay, keep your car doors locked. Again this is an opportunity for predators to enter your car.

If someone does get into your car and orders you to drive off, do not drive away. Instead, floor the accelerator and drive into something- a wall, a fence a tree - anything. Your airbag will save you but your abductor, especially if he is in the back seat, wont' fare so well. Get out of the car and run away, making as much commotion as you can. This sounds extreme but you stand a far better chance of survival than if you are taken to a remote location.

In parking garages/lots, always be aware of your surroundings. Look around you. Look in your car, including the back seat. Look in the cars to either side of your car. Beware of large panel vans parked next to your car. Victims are often pulled into vans while attempting to enter their car. If a male is sitting alone in the seat nearest your car, do not try to get into your car. Instead return to the building/office/store/school and ask for a guard to escort you to your car. Always have your keys out and ready to use. Never stand by your car searching for your keys.

Always take the elevator, never the stairs, especially at night. If your are frightened, ask for an escort.

If a predator has a gun and you are not physically restrained by him, throw your purse, water bottle, whatever you may have in your hands at him and run away. The chances of him hitting a moving target are only 4 in 100. Even then it is unlikely that he will hit a vital organ. Run in a zig zag pattern, yell "gun" and draw attention to yourself. The attacker will be more interested in getting away than following you.

Don't be sympathetic, be smart. It is counterintuitive but predators will play on the sympathies of unsuspecting women. Ted Bundy often feigned a disability and would ask for assistance. This is the same strategy that child abductors use when asking a child to help them find their lost puppy.

We have all instructed our children not to open the front door to strangers but there are other schemes to beware of. The "Crying Baby" scheme was recently profiled on America's Most Wanted. Predators will play a recording of a crying baby outside a door or window which compels a woman to go outside of her home in search of the baby in distress. Do not leave the safety of your home. Stay inside and call 911.

I am troubled and saddened that I need to live this way and teach my granddaughters to live this way. I don't want to live in fear. So I won't. I refuse to be fearful. I will think of this as empowerment. This information will make us stronger. Share this with someone you love and care about so they too will become stronger....and be safer.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Holiday Buffet Table

I've been working on a couple of holiday parties. One for a small group of 10 and another for a group of 50 or more. I love planning these parties and especially setting up the dining room table for buffet service.

My favorite layout involves stacking large books (think phone directories) in varying heights down the table then covering it all with a holiday tablecloth. I've also used a few yards of holday patterned sewing required, just press a 1/4 inch hem. If you have your table against a wall, or like my daughter-in-law, have an outlet under the table, plug in a string of mini lights and wind them through the stacks down the length of the table.

Because I like to experiment with my menu, I also like to let my guests know what is being offered. When there is time, I make little placecards for each dish to identify the food. In the interest of saving time (and also in the interest of controlling table clutter) I usually print out a menu that fits in a 5 x 7 frame. I set the frame out by the plates so guests can know what goodies lie ahead.

This year we seem to be having small dinner parties instead of large gatherings. Tonight we are serving Osso Bucco, using lamb rather than veal, in a red pepper sauce I try to reproduce from a great osso bucco served at a local restaurant that won't share the recipe :-( Wednesday we're having Sicilian Calamari, again reproduced from a dish served at a different restaurant. Is there a pattern here? When I move beyond my "little bit of this, little bit of that" method of cooking and can give some measurements, I'll share. So far the food has been great, but, of course, it's a little different each time!

I should dig up my menus from large parties from years past. Until then, this is the menu I suggested for a casual holiday party.

Warm savory tarts with a choice of brie and cranberry filling or chili and cheddar. Just use mini fillo tarts straight from the freezer, fill and heat.

Guacamole with tortilla chips

Ham and biscuits with mustard or

Roast beef on cocktail rye with horseradish sauce

Smoked salmon with cream cheese, red onion, capers, lemon, fresh dill and black pepper. Compose it all on pita rounds and slice into wedges, like pizza.

A cheese platter (avoid those cheese cubes..that's what you serve your kids) and include fresh fruit, a baguette and some honey for drizzling

A selection of pates from your deli can also be a quick solution. Set out with some cocktail bread and pickles.

Bowls of nuts and olives are always a good idea.

Dessert is as simple as Christmas cookies or chocolate truffles. My favorite is bite sized baclava. No need to stress out them at your favorite bakery. Even Sam's Club has them! Have you tried chocolate covered popcorn? It's available at candy shops or you can easily make a batch yourself by drizzling melted chocolate over freshly popped, unsalted unbuttered popcorn.

But tonight it's nuts and olives to start, greens with blue cheese and pears with a balsamic vinaigrette, ossu bucco with red pepper sauce and gingerbread with vanilla ice cream and caramelized apples. A fun, relaxing evening with family. That's what counts.