Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Quotable quotes....

When I came across these adorable photos, they immediately made me think of these wonderful quotes! "Dance like no one is watching. Sing like no one is listening. Love like you've never been hurt and live like it's heaven on Earth."
Mark Twain
"If I never met you, I wouldn't like you. If I didn't like you, I wouldn't love you. If I didn't love you, I wouldn't miss you. But I did, I do, and I will."

"The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed."
Carl Jung

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Dog Heaven...

If you have ever been lucky enough to have a special dog in your life, then you know there is a place called Dog Heaven. Cynthia Rylant also wrote a book "Cat Heaven". In June of 1998, I lost my beloved companion Samantha, a Standard Poodle. As a gift, I was given this book. I look through this book often when I think of all my pets that I have lost. It lightens my heavy heart. Although it is a children's book, I recommend it to anyone at any age who has lost a beloved pet - the drawings are precious. It makes me feel good to look at the book and hope and believe and picture the kind and gentle spirits of my Samantha, Copper, Abbey, Archie and Lucy who followed her over The Rainbow Bridge since 1998, in "dog heaven", whole, young and healthy again, running and playing in the beautiful sunshine. I love to read the part where these beloved companions come back to check on us and make sure that we are ok - or check out a favorite spot in their yard. Somehow this comforts me - and can even bring a smile to my face for a moment, replacing the many, many tears.

If you've ever cried over the death of a pet, you need this book. Cynthia Rylant offers comfort for any grieving pet owner, no matter what thier age.

"When dogs go to heaven, they don't need wings because God knows that dogs love running best." From that simple beginning, this book paints a picture of a place filled with canine joys. There are good-natured geese to bark at, angel children to play with, and dog biscuits to munch. Even strays have wonderful homes and lots of love in dog heaven.

It's been over ten years since I lost my Samantha, and I still identify with this book as if the loss had been yesterday. I can't think of a better way to say farewell to a good and faithful friend than to share this book as a memorial.

My friend's beloved dog Jazzy, this morning April 23, 2009 was ready to leave us and crossed the rainbow bridge with assistance. Jazzy, several evenings ago, I sat on the floor with you and asked you to lift your head so I could take this photo of you. You never did photograph well, none of you black dogs do. This is not the best photo, but I will always remember your doing exactly what I asked of you even when you were too weak and tired to do so. I will also remember when you jumped in the pool with us for the first time in years, when your mom adopted your Big Brother Bugsy, about 9 months ago. Some people "swim with the dolphins" and some swim with the dogs! Bugsy may have been bigger then you, but you never let him steal the show. When he came to live at your house, you were already a tired old gal and had several physical ailments including Arthritus. I believe you hung in there long enough so that you could check out this new guy and make certain you would leave Mom well looked after.

Jazzy, go and run and play, hold your tail high and chase balls in heaven, you will always remain in our hearts here on earth. (Jazzy was 13 ish + years old, but being a rescued dog who really knows exactly)
Bugsy, Anita, and Jazzy soon after Bugsy was adopted from the Lab Rescue Group in South Florida.

A DOG'S PLEA: "My friend, when I am very old, and no longer enjoy good health, hearing and sight, do not make heroic efforts to keep me going. I am not having any fun. Please see that my trusting life is taken gently. I shall leave this earth knowing with the last breath I draw that my fate was always safest in your hands".

Thinking of bringing another pet into your home......consider adopting from a rescue group or shelter.

volunteer Small Paws Rescue

Monday, April 20, 2009

A Blast from the past......

Several days ago as I was in the shower with the TV on, I heard a very familiar voice....a blast from the past. One that I had not heard for many, many years. Does anyone besides me remember Tony Orlando and Dawn? I can not remember which night of the week they were on TV, but on that night like clock work....it was special and important to me to see my "friends". I can remember staking out my place in front of the tv and waiting with excitement for the words of the announcer, "Ladies and gentlemen, Tony Orlando and Dawn!" My girls and I never missed this show, and I allowed them to stay up later then usual on that night to watch it. I wonder why this show never made it to reruns. If these shows would be rerun today, I think I would watch them with the same excitement.

What great memories I have of those years and I am greatful to have the chance to relive them, if only briefly, with just the seeing Tony Orlando again, hosting an infomercial for "Love Songs of the 70's. Tony, Thelma and Joyce, I thank you for all the comfort and joy you have given to me through your music and your show and for sharing your wonderful talents with us all.

Tony is a wonderful entertainer and I think he is great. He is electrifying and always had a great big smile on his face! He is so talented in making people feel good and happy. Back then, he always made me smile and feel very happy and lighthearted. His charisma flowed from him like a huge river. When I've watched Tony perform, I've watched "the best in entertainment!" I'll never forget the wonderful shows I've seen or the wonderful songs I've heard from Tony Orlando and Dawn. This group, is in my book, not just singers, but one of the All Time Greats of Entertainers!

If you hear the words, Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree......who else would you think of??????
Other songs: He Don't Love you; Knock Three Times; Sweet Gypsy Rose

Friday, April 17, 2009

Salmon one of the healtiest foods......

The search for a new recipe to prepare Salmon this past week end led me to this one for Salmon Primavera. It was not only very yummy, but to pretty not to photograph....so I did. I would have to rate it right up there with my Baked Pesto Salmon, prepared simply by just applying a good layer of my home made Pesto on the Salmon and baking at 350 degrees for about 1/2 hour.
Salmon Primavera Servings: 6
3 lbs. Salmon Fillet
Black Pepper, freshly ground
Creamy horseradish sauce with dill (I did not have this so I used a horseradish sauce and added fresh dill)
1 zucchini with skin, thinly sliced
1 yellow squash with skin, thinly sliced
2 Roma or Plum tomatoes, thinly sliced
1/4 cup whole grain Matzo Meal ( you can use unflavored bread crumbs)
2 tbsp. chopped fresh dill
2 tbsp. olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 F

Season the salmon fillet with salt and pepper. Brush an even thick coating of the horseradish sauce with dill all over the salmon. Place the salmon in a non stick pan.

Starting at the left end of the fillet, lay a column of overlapping slices of the zucchini. On the next row lay a column of overlapping slices of squash, they should be overlapping the zucchini a bit as well. On the next row, lay a column of overlapping slices of tomatoes, they should slightly overlap on the squash. Begin again with the zucchini, followed by the squash and the tomato. Continue in this fashion until the whole fillet is covered.

In a small bowl, mix the matzo meal, dill and olive oil. Sprinkle over the top of the vegetables.

Bake for 30-35 minutes. Remove one of the vegetables in the thickest part of the fillet and test to make sure the fish is done, and then cover it back up with the vegetables.

Serve hot or at room temperature. Can be refrigerated overnight and brought to room temperature the next day.

Did You know? Salmon is one of the healthiest foods.......There are so many wonderful things about salmon that it’s hard to know where to start. It’s a fish which even people who don’t like fish can enjoy. It’s firm enough to grill, can be cooked in many different ways, and doesn’t dry out as easily as many other fish. It comes fresh, frozen, smoked, and canned. Wild salmon can be eaten without fear of excess contaminants or mercury, and it has a very high nutrient profile, including the highly-prized omega-3 fatty acids. What’s not to like?

Delicious with exceptional nutritional value found in few other foods, Salmon are incredible fish traveling thousands of miles throughout their life cycle and within two to five years returning to the very location where they were born to spawn and die. The specific characteristics and life cycles of salmon vary with each species.

An exciting, fairly recent development is the realization that omega-3 fats have potential to help slow cognitive problems such as Alzheimer’s disease and age-related cognitive decline. Also, people who have sufficient levels of omega-3’s (especially as compared to omega-6 fats) seem to have less depression and suicide risk, as well as less aggression -- in one study, giving prison inmates this type of fat (plus vitamins) reduced aggressive behavior by a third in a mere two weeks. From the World’s Healthiest Foods: More information and research references about The Benefits of Salmon and Omega-3 Fatty Acids.

Being on one of my cooking episodes, I also prepared a recipe for Garden Eggplant Bake, pictured above. I am always on the search for a new way to prepare fresh veggies and utilize my home grown herbs at the same time. This one contains fresh basil and oregano.

Lastly I baked a banana-nut bread. It was my turn to bring a snack to my Master Gardener Class this week. I have been preparing this recipe for 30+ years now. The directions read to bake and let cool for 24 hours before slicing. My girls always accused me of making that up, just to torment them. Now that they have children of their own they can do the same with them. I never did find out why it needs to sit. I will guess, so that it solidifies and does not crumble when sliced. I do love the Internet for recipe searching, but I still collect and love all my cookbooks. When I open the slightly yellowing pages, with blotches of food stains on them, there is a feeling that comes over me that does not come from a recipe found online.
This Banana Nut Bread recipe comes from the Woman's Day Encyclopedia of Cookery, published in 1966. I purchased each volume....12 total in the grocery store one at a time. I cannot remember for sure if they came out monthly, which is what I suspect.
Cooking.....good for the mind, body and sole........Bon appetite!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The mystery of credit scores explained.....

Are you ready to purchase a new home? Do you understand what a lender will use to evaluate if they will approve you for a loan?

I have come across this article which does explain the process in very understandable language, so will post it here for your information.
How Lenders Evaluate a Buyer's Credit in Today's Market
By David Compton & George Smith

When a lender evaluates a buyer's creditworthiness, they consider several factors about the buyer's past credit-usage behaviors. These behaviors have been systematized into what is called a “Tri-Merged Residential Credit Report” (T.M.R.C.R.) and is quantified with a scoring system called F.I.C.O. (Fair Issac Company). The score is essentially a merger of reports from three major credit repositories known as:


While F.H.A. and V.A. are not officially F.I.C.O. driven in their credit-approval processing, many lenders are still giving heavy weighting to the scores on these loans. Conventional (F.N.M.A. & F.H.M.L.C.) lenders have been using this scoring system for years.

Listed below is how the F.I.C.O. scores are generally interpreted: Scores range from 300 to 850.
Score under 600 - will most likely need to use loan programs that are not F.I.C.O. driven. Represents extreme concern for underwriting and may result in additional fees, higher rates and/or points, additional down payment required, or even non-approval.

Score 600 - 620: The underwriter will need to carefully review the application and may result in more fees, points and/or lower loan-to-value ratio.

Score 620 - 660: This is considered a cautious risk although the buyer does stand a good chance of getting the loan provided he/she can explain any derogatory notations (i.e. late payments) in a plausible manner.

Score 660 - 680: This is a standard automated approval score.

Score 680 - 699: This is considered a very good risk by the lender.

Score 700 - 719: This is considered an excellent risk by a lender and is pretty much a “slam dunk” for approval.

Score 720 & above: This is considered “Accept Plus” for automated underwriting.

To determine the borrower's credit score, most lenders apportion weights as indicated to the following factors:
Timely payments - 35%
Total debt - 30%
Length of credit history - 15%
New credit inquiries - 10%
Amount/type of credit - 10%

A buyer/borrower can get a free copy of their credit report from each repository by mail or online at: http://www.myfico.com/Default.aspx. They are entitled to one free credit report from each agency once a year. Consumers should review their credit reports once a year, as they often have inaccuracies and old derogatory notations that should be removed from the report.

Here are some methods that a borrower may use to improve their credit score:
Dispute incorrect information by directly contacting the credit reporting agency.
If the borrower/buyer has any past-due debt, they can contact the creditor directly and settle the debt. Creditors are often willing to settle past-due debt for less than what is owed and sometimes are even willing to remove the derogatory notation about the debt. If the debt has been sold to a collection agency, the borrower would have to contact the agency.
Pay down credit card balances, if possible, to less than 1/3 of the available limit.
Work to show that they have maintained 12 consecutive months of timely payments on ALL of their financial obligations. If they have gone into foreclosure and/or bankruptcy, this will take longer; perhaps three to four years.

If you are thinking of purchasing a home or applying for credit always seek the assistance of a qualified loan/credit counselor. However, these are the basic rules when a lending underwriter is deciding whether or not to approve a loan.

Thinking of buying or selling Real Estate? Real Estate Questions, contact me.....just ask!

Maxine Thomas

Friday, April 3, 2009

Dancing in the street.....Zumba style

Look at this photo, what do you see? Take another look, it's not hard to find.

The answer to my question......happy, smiling faces, young and old and all ages in-between gathered for a Zumba Bash April 3, 2009 with some of our favorite instructors, Gisselle Gutierrez, Lindsay Drakulic, Nikki Lopez, Patricio Merlott and Vanessa Valentin.

The photo above is a random group of us which ended up to be over 100 Zumba students and Zumba enthusiasts that showed up, all at different levels of dancing Zumba........and we literally were Dancing in the street.......Zumba style. The instructors each led several dances featuring DJ James Santiago who is also known as "EL Boricua De New York" with his powerful DJ equipment to pump us up!

The event was sponsored by Beef O Bradys in Winter Springs and was a great time for all of us who participated.

An Awesome time was had by all who attended!