Archive for February, 2009

Mimi’s Walking Partners

Dear Readers,

I’ve been walking on a regular basis since 1988 and in those 21 years, I’ve realized that the key to successful walking is having a suitable walking partner.  After all, they represent an added benefit of the walking experience.  They are willing to listen to you and to also share their life experiences.  They serve as confidantes, and even therapists who will allow you to “let it all hang out” on the walk.  Other times they are like life coaches giving you much needed encouragement.  But most of all they become loyal friends.  Luckily I’ve had 3 great partners and let me tell you a little something about each of them.

Mary Jane, a fellow tennis player, accompanied me on the trail for about 4 or 5 years.  During that time we met about 2 or 3 times a week to stroll a path around the tennis courts at the local park.  We talked a lot about our children.  During this period, my daughter was going through the rigors of filling out college applications.  Mary Jane and I laughed a lot about the crazy topics selected by the colleges for the application essays.  She eventually returned to full time employment and our walking dwindled down to a few times during the summer months.

Then I started walking with my neighbor, Marie.  We were both new residents in a golf course community.  She’s a golfer so we discussed how frustrating sports could be.  If I had a bad day on the court, she commiserated with me.  And if her golf swing was off, I totally understood.  We also spent a lot of time critiquing the neighbors’ landscaping.  Marie was very generous in exchanging recipes.  Her recipe for brownies is a real winner – I’ve even posted it on this website.

Finally, there is Maureen whose sunny smile and hearty laugh always puts me in a better mood.  We discuss and try to solve some of the world’s biggest problems!  No, we don’t have the answer to world poverty . . . yet!!!  We share the joys of grandparenting and the tricky course of trying to be a good mother-in-law.  We continually confide in one another when a new wrinkle appears on our face.

I guess “Mimi’s motherly tip” is to cherish these partners.  There’s a special bond between friends who walk together for a long time.  I know each of these ladies hold a special place in my heart!

Keep smilin’!

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Mimi’s Meatless Meal

Dear Readers,

Today is Ash Wednesday and that means no meat on Friday for Catholics.  So if you’re in the mood for an easy and quick meatless meal, this recipe is for you.  So simple and it requires only 5 ingredients.  Hooray!  Pair this pasta dish with a green salad, some good ole crusty bread, a bottle of wine and you have the makings for a gourmet feast!!!

Pasta with Mushroom Sauce

1-1/2 pounds mushrroms

2 tablespoons olive or salad oil

1 cup half-and-half

2 tablespoons soy sauce

About 30 Minutes Before Serving;

1.  Thinly slice mushrooms.  In 12″ skillet over high heat, in hot olive or salad oil, cook mushrooms, stirring frequently, until mushrooms are tender and browned.

2.  Stir half-and-half and soy sauce into mushrooms; cook over high heat, stirring until sauce reduces slightly, about 3 minutes.  Makes abour 3 cups sauce, enough to serve over 1 pound cooked pasta, for 6 servings. (I think it makes enough for 4 servings!)

Each serving of sauce contains 120 calories, 9 grams fat, 15 mg. cholesterol, 415 mg. sodium.  To make it even healthier, use lite or fat-free half-and-half and low sodium soy sauce.


Keep smilin’!

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Mimi’s Oscar Picks

Dear Readers,

Please bear with me as I post another movie review before the Oscars ceremony.  Saw “The Wrestler” starring Mickey Rourke a couple of days ago and had to write about it.

It is rated “R” for a good reason – there are lots of violence, nudity and foul language.  But believe me, this is all necessary to tell the story of this has-been wrestler.  His world is full of dark and creepy places, not exactly a paradise.  You are led through this world by Randy as the director used a hand-held camera in many scenes to give the audience the impression of walking in his footsteps.  The physical pain of the wrestler is thrown right in your face.  His acting is convincing, heartbreaking and real.  When Randy tells his daughter he’s “a broken down piece of meat”, it’s entirely believable.

A friend suggested that Mickey Rourke’s acting wasn’t Oscar-worthy because he was acting out his own life.  I say it takes a lot of guts to open up your heart and soul in front of a camera.  He definitely deserves an Oscar for this role.  Go see this movie!  You’ll get a better understanding of the life of a wrestler.  It is interesting and very powerful.

Also saw Anne Hathaway in “Rachel Getting Married”.  She plays a woman on leave from a rehab clinic attending her sister’s wedding.  The family is dysfunctional and all of them have been hurt by Kim’s addictions.  I feel sorry for the whole family and the pain they have suffered.  But I don’t think Hathaway’s performance merits an Oscar.

Here are my Oscar picks:

Best Actor – Mickey Rourke

Best Supporting Actor – Heath Ledger

Best Actress – Kate Winslet

Best Supporting Actress – Amy Adams (didn’t see Penelope Cruz)

Best Motion Picture – Slumdog Millionaire

It will be an interesting year to watch the Oscars ceremony!

Keep smilin’!

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More Mimi Movie Picks

Dear Readers,

My title today is a real tongue twister.  Try saying it quickly 3 times and see what happens!  Seriously, I’m trying to see many of the Oscar nominated movies before the awards are given next Sunday.

Revolutionary Road:

Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio give a raw and emotional performance here.  But let’s face it, the story is a real downer!  My jaws were sore from clenching my teeth during the movie.  It also struck a nerve.  It is difficult to watch a married couple hurl insults to each other in the heat of battle (something most couples are guilty of) and then feel the pain once those words are spoken.  And we all know those same words can never be taken back, only apologized for.

It is an intimate look into a marriage where, in my opinion, both partners are rather immature.  They seemed to feed off of each other’s unhappiness.  The movie puts forth the idea that a lot of their unhappiness was due to their move to suburbia of the 50’s, where everyone was expected to fit into a certain mold.  I feel these characters would be unfulfilled no matter where they lived!

If a friend asked for a recommendation, I’d say great acting, depressing story line!

Gran Torino:

It’s not up for an award, but is extremely entertaining.

If you’re a Clint Eastwood fan (and who isn’t?), you will enjoy watching him as a Korean War vet tough guy who is bitter and full of prejudices.  He’s an aging Archie Bunker who is finally mellowed by his friendship with an immigrant brother and sister.  The sister is feisty and is not afraid to invite Walt Kowalski over for a family barbecue.  He reluctantly becomes entangled in their lives and decides to help the boy who tried to steal his Gran Torino.  Walt wants to keep him from the influence of his cousins who are thugs and gang members.

One of the best scenes in the movie is when Walt tries to “man up” the young man.  He takes him into a local barbershop and tutors him in the manly art of trading insults with the barber.  It is hilarious!

Kowalski is a walking commercial for beer as he downs quite a few cold “pbr’s”.  Watching this movie is enjoyable and Eastwood rewards the audience by “singing” a song during the closing credits.

Keep Smilin’!

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Walking With Mimi

Dear Readers,

Let me start out by saying it was a perfect day for a walk.  The sky was blue with no clouds in sight.  The temperature was in the low 50’s with a slight breeze.  An older man was approaching, alternately walking and jogging.  Good for him, I thought.  Nice to see someone working to stay in shape!

Further along on the walk, there was a young mother pushing a stroller, with her jacket off revealing a skimpy tank top.  I wondered if she was dressed warmly enough.  Finally decided that she had either been walking very briskly or was having a hot flash!

Rounded the corner toward the local middle school.  The students were gathered outside their classrooms waiting to start the day.  One young boy saw me and asked for a dollar.  I just smiled; the girls around him laughed.  Maybe he’s the class clown!  A couple of yards down a young teacher was counseling her class to “look out for each other”.  Very good advice, indeed.  Noticed a sign on the school building saying that security cameras were monitoring the school.  That was a very sad sign of the times we live in!

Turned another corner and saw a large school bus with yellow lights blinking; waiting for a student to board it.  A big city truck passed spraying the curb for weed control.  The sprayer missed more weeds than it hit.  Hope those fumes aren’t toxic!  The next thing I observed was the heavenly scent of strawberries wafting over the tall stucco fence.  The aroma was coming from someone’s kitchen.  It smelled so delicious and I speculated whether the strawberries were topping pancakes or waffles?

Here comes that same young mother I saw earlier.  This time she had her jacket on.  Well, this is the shady part of the block.  We exchanged greetings again.  Then she walked off to another day of raising her baby; and me . . . I just strolled away to who knows what.  After all, when you’re retired, every day is an adventure!

Keep smilin’!

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Even More Movies

Dear Readers,

Here are two more Oscar-nominated movies I’ve recently seen.  (Don’t worry, Roger Ebert!  Mimi won’t be taking over your job anytime soon!!!)


This movie chronicles the events of the four televised interviews between David Frost and ex-President Richard Nixon.  The interviews were not nearly as sensational in reality as they are shown here.  (But then I guess most movies sensationalize true stories.  Real life sometimes needs spicing up a bit!)

The story is unremarkable and the director uses a hand-held camera a little too often for my taste.  But you should see this movie to witness the superb performance given by Frank Langella.  He truly captures the complexity of Nixon’s personality and deserves an Oscar nomination.  Just watching his facial expressions is extremely entertaining!  Go see this movie, observe Langella and you’ll absolutely get your money’s worth!

The Reader:

This movie is very, very powerful.  Walking out of the theatre, I was emotionally spent!  This story is beautiful, interesting and at times very painful.  Kate Winslet does an outstanding job as the older lover with a past.  The young actor who plays the 15 year old seduced by her also does a fine job.  He’s a young actor on the way up!  Ralph Fiennes is very good as the grown man.  The sense of betrayal, guilt and sadness is everywhere on his face.  There are a couple of interesting story lines going on.  I can’t go into detail as it would ruin the movie for you.  The Reader is not a feel good movie but it is one that you will want to discuss with others.  I highly recommend this movie but bring a handkerchief with you!

You are probably wondering why I have so few negative comments about these Oscar movies.  That’s because there is a bumper crop of excellent movies this year.  Take advantage of this situation.  It doesn’t happen all that often!

Keep smilin’!

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Chocolate for Your Honey!

Dear Readers,

Valentine Day is quickly approaching.  And if you pick up any newspaper or magazine, there are oodles of chocolate recipes for your special someone.  Well, Mimi has one to add to the mix.  It’s not the usual recipe for cake, pie or cookies.  No this is something different – chocolate pudding.  It’s inexpensive and easy to make and tastes yummy!  Why not try it this Valentine Day?

Old-Fashioned Cocoa Pudding

1 cup sugar

1/3 cup baking cocoa

1/4 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1-1/2 cups water

2 egg yolks

1 tablespoon butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

whipped topping and chocolate curls, optional

In a saucepan, combine sugar, cocoa, flour and salt.  Gradually whisk in water and egg yolks.  Cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil, stirring constantly.  Cook and stir for 2 minutes until thickened.

Remove from heat; stir in butter and vanilla until blended.  Pour into individual dishes.  Refrigerate until set.  Garnish with whipped topping and chocolate curls.

Makes 4 servings.

This recipe is from “The Best of Country Cooking 2005” (Reiman Media Group., Greendale, Wisconsin).

Keep smilin’!

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Frugal Family Fun

Dear Readers,

Saw a segment on Regis and Kelly entitled “Frugal Family Fun”.  Well, frugal family fun was a way of life in my family during the 50’s.  My Dad worked on an assembly line in a factory and we had a stay-at-home Mom.  Frugality was a virtue in our house.  Here are some examples of our family fun.

During the summer Mom made her delicious homemade orangeade.  She squeezed juice from all the oranges by hand and always poured it in the same special pitcher.  Our eyes grew wider when Mom reached for that pitcher, because we knew a great refreshing beverage was on the way.  What a treat, and so much better than lemonade!

Another summer treat was “swimming” in a big galvanized “Wheeling” washtub that Mom filled with cold water.  Granted, it was pretty small, but to us it was like our own private pool.  I can still remember the excitement as my sister and I ran to Mom’s cedar chest to get out our swimsuits, which carried the faint aroma of mothballs.  We had our own “day at the beach”!

Family fun was certainly had when my Dad took us downtown for a first-run movie.  He used one of his vacation days for this activity.  The movie was usually a Walt Disney feature.  And the movie theaters downtown were so elegant!  Dad even bought us popcorn.  On the bus ride home, we discussed the movie and how much fun we had.

Another exciting time was eating cold watermelon on a hot summer night.  Dad would purchase a whole watermelon and it was too big to fit in the fridge.  So Mom filled one of her laundry washtubs in the basement with ice and the melon was carefully placed in there to cool down for a long time.  Finally, when the sun went down and the air was a little cooler, Mom would carve up the melon on the kitchen table.  It was there that the whole family ate huge slices of juicy red watermelon with a little salt sprinkled on for good measure.  We were even allowed to spit out the many seeds!  The whole feast was so messy that Mom lined the table with newspaper.  When we had our fill, she would gather up the seeds and rinds on the paper and heave it all in the garbage can.  I’ve never tasted any watermelon as sweet as that I ate at the family table!

At the time we didn’t realize that this family fun was frugal.  We thought we were the richest kids in the world.  And we were, because we were given lots of love and we always had each other!

Keep smilin’!

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Another Good Movie

Dear Readers,

As you can tell Mimi has been on a quest to see many of this year’s Oscar nominated movies.  Well, today I deviated from the list and am I glad I did!  Saw “Last Chance Harvey” starring Emma Thompson and Dustin Hoffman.

It’s a touching love story; not perhaps for the young but certainly for the “young at heart”.  You have to have suffered some of life’s indignities to really appreciate this movie.  Dustin Hoffman plays “Harvey” a jingle writer for commercials who really aspired to be a jazz musician.  He just didn’t have enough talent for that.  Stately Emma Thompson plays “Kate Walker”, a lonely single woman who is very busy taking care of her Mom.  By the way, I am extremely prejudiced in this review because in my opinion, Emma Thompson can do no wrong on the big screen.

There a few scenes that many of us can relate to.  Kate finds herself out on a blind date with someone who is way too young for her.  And Harvey arrives at his daughter’s wedding feeling like an outsider.  There’s nothing worse than being in a situation where you don’t fit in and all you want to do is either melt into the floor or run away.

Don’t won’t to spoil the story for you but here are a few other observations.  There is a marvelous chemistry between Thompson and Hoffman.  It is not explosive but is a calm feeling of emotional security between two people who have been beaten down by life in one way or another.  Their eyes and facial expressions say everything about what they’ve been through.

It is truly a story of  last chances; and when you’re older, you realize that these chances should never be taken for granted.

Go see this movie; it hasn’t been nominated for any awards but it will surely brighten your day and put a smile on your face!

Keep smilin’!

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Mimi’s Movie Picks #2

Dear Readers,

Here are my thoughts on 3 movies I’ve recently seen.

The first movie is “Doubt” starring Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman.  It’s the story of the suspicions of a school principal  that a parish priest is behaving inappropriately with a young lonely student.  Meryl Streep is so stern in her betrayal of the principal.  I attended Catholic school and never encountered a nun as mean as Sister Aloysius!  But the scene in which she confronts the priest, Hoffman, is terrific.  They’re both great actors and it’s like watching two heavyweights slugging it out in the ring.  Amy Adams does a great job of playing an innocent young nun who isn’t certain if the priest did anything wrong.  Viola Davis plays the mother of the young boy involved in the situation.  She holds her own in the scene with Streep.  Their scene together is short but very thought provoking.  Thoroughly enjoyed the movie.

The next movie is “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”.  It tells the unusual tale of a baby born an old man and as he grows, he gets younger.  Makes for an interesting story but Brad Pitt’s acting is nothing out of the ordinary.  The real star is the makeup person who transforms him from an aged man to a teenager.  The love story between Pitt and Cate Blanchett is touching.  The woman who plays Button’s adopted mother does a great job.  One friend of mine remarked that the movie reminded her of “Forrest Gump”.  Did some research and found that Eric Roth wrote the screenplay for both “Benjamin Button” and “Forrest Gump”.  Keen observation, Maureen!  It’s a good movie – not a great one.  But Brad Pitt is eye candy and he keeps looking better as the movie progresses!!!

The final movie is “Milk”, the story of the “first openly gay man elected to public office in the U.S.”  It chronicles the formation of the gay political movement in San Francisco.  Milk eventually becomes a martyr for the cause.  There is a lot of actual film footage used, so it is easier to visualize the Castro District in the 1970’s.  The best feature about this movie is Sean Penn’s protrayal of  Harvey Milk.  He seems so fragile and sensitive in this role.  Penn even looks like Harvey Milk.  He definitely deserves an Oscar for this role.  See this movie and enjoy the work of a gifted actor!

Keep smilin’!

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