to one and all…

Ask Mom is a little crazier than usual these days and going in too many directions all at the same time…so until things calm down a little bit and I’m not in such a tizzy please read anything that you missed and keep writing and asking whatever you need to know or anything you need help with, as always I’ll do my very best to help you…

then please come back and read all new Ask Mom starting on January 2

 hope you will be singing, dancing and enjoying…


10 good thoughts for the new year

“The Three Rules of Work- 1. Out of clutter, find simplicity. 2. From discord, find harmony. 3. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity. Attributed to Albert Einstein

“There is a gigantic difference between earning a great deal of money and being rich.” Marlene Dietrich

“People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered; forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives: Be kind anyway. What you spend years creating others could destroy overnight: Create anyway. If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway. Give the best you have, and it may never be enough: Give your best anyway. In the final analysis, it is between you and God: it was never between you and them anyway.” – Mother Teresa

“Even if you’re on the right track you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”- Will Rogers

“Take into account that great love and great achievement involve great risk.” -Dali Lama

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” -Mark Twain

“Nobody can make you feel inferior without your permission.” -Eleanor Roosevelt

“I feel that life is divided into the horrible and the miserable. That’s the two categories. The horrible are like, I don’t know, terminal cases, you know, and blind people, crippled. I don’t know how they get through life. It’s amazing to me. And the miserable is everyone else. So you should be thankful that you’re miserable, because that’s very lucky, to be miserable.” -Woody Allen

“The meeting of preparation with opportunity generates the offspring we call luck.” -Anthony Robbins

Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass; it’s about learning to dance in the rain.” –Vivian Greene


Natalia’s hotel room exercises

even while ‘ask mom’ and I are in far away places we are thinking about you, so no excuses to stop exercising…

4 types of exercises to do in your hotel room-

  • Legs – working both the front and back of your legs
  • Push – chest, shoulders, triceps
  • Pull – back, biceps, forearms
  • Core – abs and lower back

5-10 body weight squats- keep heels shoulder width apart, toes angled out, drop your tush back and down until it touches the chair

5-10 incline push ups- feet on floor and hands on edge of bed or desk (standing push ups!)

10 one-arm luggage lifts- using each arm one at a time, lift your suitcase as your weight (don’t fill it up too much!)

these are easy level exercises- if you want more of a challenge do more repetitions, advanced exercises to follow…

NEVER exercise unless your doctor says it’s safe for you to do it


have too many?

if you have lots of flowers, lots of candles and lots of candy and nowhere to put them:

instead of a flower vase try- big bowls or if you’re using small bowls cut the stems very short and pack the flowers closely together, you can also use: pitchers, tall glasses, large jars with a piece of raffia wrapped around, large cans with ribbon wrapped around, terra cotta pots with a plastic container liner or large or small bottles paint them or use a candle and melt wax on them to decorate them

instead of candles holders try- pretty saucers, cake plates, teacups, shot glasses, coasters, very small bowls, very small plant pots or terra cotta saucers from pots, put a few candles on a large saucer or 1 on a small saucer

instead of candy and nut dishes try- parfait glasses, wine glasses, sugar bowls and creamers, small plant pots or the saucers from pots, small bowls, pickle dishes, banana split dishes or small sushi trays

talk about it

Dear Ask Mom- here’s my question: I’m a guy and I have a guy friend who always finishes my sentences and half the time what he says is wrong or  it doesn’t make sense- if he doesn’t stop I’m not talking to him anymore because it’s so annoying and it’s driving me crazy.

Maybe he finishes your sentences because you don’t, sort of like this question!

There may be reasons why your friend finishes your sentences- do you speak very slowly? is what you’re saying interesting? or does your friend think that this how you have a conversation by interrupting you?- the reason why he is doing this doesn’t matter it’s annoying and rude, I agree…as soon as your friend opens his mouth hold up your hands in the ‘time out’ sign so that you can finish your sentence or say ‘wait a minute’ and finish your thoughts yourself. If you do this every time he tries to finish your sentence he should get the message, if not talk really fast and try to finish your sentences before he does, or just ask him if he realizes that he finishes your sentences- maybe he doesn’t realize it, if nothing works just watch sports or play video games together and  do things that require as little talking as possible if you want to stay friends

can you repeat that?!

Dear Mom, I was just at a party and I heard the same stupid stories from people for the 2nd, 3rd and 4th times and I wanted to say- if you don’t have anything new to say don’t say anything at all, but I just stood there and listened again. It ruined my night and I won’t do it again- what should I do next time?

Depending on who’s telling you the story cut them off or not, if it’s an old person and they’re a relative and you’re going to inherit money let them tell you the same story fifty times and act interested, but if it’s someone you run into once a year and they tell you about the same promotion that they got 6 years ago every time you see them, as soon as they open their mouth start talking about your big promotion (if even you didn’t get one) or your new mansion or Rolls or vacation in France… before they can start talking and then say, it was so nice to see you and walk away…

foody things

fresh garlic’s favor and its antioxident properties are at their best if it sits at room temperature for 10 minutes after you chop it and before using it for cooking will save your recipes from disaster- check out The Cook’s Thesaurus and you’ll find substitutes for all kinds of ingredients

make a stick of seasoned butter and freeze it so you can use it whenever you need it for a chicken, fish or seafood recipe.         Prep: 1 pound of salted butter at room temp., mix in 3/4 cup chopped fresh garlic, juice of 1 lemon, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Put the butter on a piece of plastic wrap, roll it into a log 1 and a half inches in diameter and freeze it. It will stay frozen for 3-4 months. To use it slice off a 1/4 inch piece and put butter dots on your fish, chicken or seafood in the last 2 minutes of cooking

Herb Vinegar recipe is good for everything: you need a new or sterile glass bottle, 3 or 4 sprigs of rosemary or time, heat a bottle of red or white vinegar until it simmers, put the fresh herbs into the bottle and add the hot vinegar, leave a 1/4 inch at the the top of the bottle, let it cool in a cool dark place for 2 to 3 weeks, strain the vinegar and throw out the herbs, put the strained vinegar back into the bottle and keep it in the fridge for about 3 months

if you’re going to bake make sure your ingredients are fresh, replace: white flour- once a year and whole-wheat flour every 6 months; white sugar- 2 years or more and brown sugar once a year; baking powder- by ‘use by date’; baking soda- within a year if open or 2 if unopened

about candy apples: use tart sweet apples- Granny Smith or Gala or McIntosh: in a medium size saucepan over medium heat melt a 14 ounce bag of caramels with 2 tablespoons water; push a stick into an apple and dip the apples into the carmel then place them on wax or parchment paper, you can also roll them in nuts- enjoy

replace your cream cheese with goat cheese-it’s less calories and easier to digest- look for Soignon Chèvre goat cheese spread, you’ll like it


10 good things before Xmas

wake up and smell the coffee- clean your coffee grinder by grinding a handful or 2 of rice then throw out the rice and wipe the grinder clean- you’ll have a better tasting cup of coffee

line it up- cut non-skid rug pads to line the cabinet shelves where you keep wine glasses and other glasses, they won’t fall or tip over

box it up- if you’re moving check you can get new and gently used boxes for a lot less

reminders- will remind you of EVERYTHING by scheduling when you get a text message reminding you of the appointment that you made months ago

let it grow-  if you’re not using your glass cake plate and dome for cakes, how about using it to make a winter hothouse for your little herb plants, put the small pots of herbs on the cake plate and cover them with the dome, put it in a window and you’ll have all the heat and humidity your herbs need and you’ll have fresh herbs all winter

let the complaining begin- if you’re not happy with something that you bought but you’re not sure what to say to complain effectively, try and search “complaint letter” then fill in blanks or use it to help you get your own letter started

fork it- if you have ‘dents’ in your carpet from heavy furniture after you move it around, to get ready for a party or if company’s coming, take a fork and rake up the dents

no more black bumps- if you get a black mark on your baseboards from your vacuum cleaner’s bumper every time you vacuum cover the black bumper with masking tape and every bump won’t make a black mark

breathe deep- an article about subliminal smells said- the floral smell from a vase of flowers on your desk will increase your accuracy and speed, and it was not a suggestion from anyone that has anything to do with flowers!

smells good- the same article suggested that if you want to stop tasting and nibbling while you cook put some peppermint oil in the kitchen (or the smell of  bananas will do the same thing) to help you avoid tasting everything

go for it

if your exercising includes running and walking there are a few ways to get the most out of it:

  • make your stroll a power walk by taking your steps with your heel first and roll up to your toes, then step by pushing off with your toes, this makes your shins part of your steps also
  • pumping your arms while you walk will make you walk faster and you’ll use more energy than you do strolling
  • if you’re really trying to get maximum benefit from a walk try walking backward! but watch out behind you…
  • if you’re running instead of walking taking longer strides instead of increasing the number of steps or speed will maximize your run
  • another way to increase your running work-out is by increasing the incline (1% gradient on a treadmill) or look for terrain that’s a little steeper if you’re running outside

recycle this new year

you can begin small and start the new year with simple recycling, even if you’re not ready to go all the way…

  • if you are just getting started recycling it’s ok to start small and the best thing to start with are aluminum cans, just rinse out the can and toss it into the recycling bin and you’re done
  • fill up at least 1 paper grocery bag with newspapers every week and recycle it, once it becomes a habit fill up more bags with newspaper until you are recycling all of your newspaper and other paper, include cardboard in your paper recycling but, recycle only dry cardboard with your newspapers
  • recycle plastic bottles WITHOUT tops, but if the reason that you’re not recycling bottles is because you don’t want to take the tops off, toss them into the recycling bin with the tops on and they’ll be removed at a recycling station- but REALLY- take the tops off, it’s good exercise for your fingers!!
  • if another one of your excuses for not recycling is that you don’t want to wash and scrub the cans, bottles and jars clean before you recycle them, that’s really not a good excuse- you should make sure the containers are completely empty and rinsed then toss them into the recycling bin scrubbing them completely clean is not necessary