Friday, June 26, 2009

Losing Farrah & Michael

I like Ungirdled Passion to be a place for you to come for a grin or a giggle, but today of course, is a sad day with the passing of both Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson.  Losing both in one day is still hard to believe.  Part of being Ungirdled is letting yourself be sad when you need to be sad.  Today, I am sad, and I suspect you may be sad too.

I remember my sister and I, as teenagers, glued to the TV set on “Charlie’s Angels” nights.  I now know how silly the show was, but back then, it gave us na├»ve teen girls the feeling that women could kick a$$ too, and that was an important message for us to receive at that time.  (It actually gave us the message that women could kick a$$ while wearing three inch heels, no bra, and designer clothing while being professionally made up and coiffed as they did the bidding for a man they never met, but that’s another story for another day.)  The point is, while older women may have tuned in for the fashions, and males tuned in for what they called “jiggle TV,” my sister and I really took from that show that women could be independent, effective, free agents.   Farrah went on from there to live a truly Ungirdled, courageous and accomplished life.  

What to say about Michael Jackson?  A mega talent.  A superstar.  A gift. He changed music.  He changed dance.  He created music video.  It doesn't seem enough.  Sure, he got pretty weird in his final years, but what a surreal world he lived in from the time he was a tot. I chose to remember him from his Jackson 5, Off The Wall and Thriller days.  His music from all three periods continues to move and cheer me along as I exercise, garden, clean and mow.  He taught me to be one of the party people night and day – that living crazy is the only way, that at night, I should leave that 9-5 up on the shelf, and just enjoy myself.  It's really hard to hear any of his songs and NOT want to shake it.

I watched the Barbara Walters special on Farrah Fawcett last night, and at the end, I think she summed up yesterday pretty well for us:

“They were two very different people, Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett.  The hugely talented boy who wouldn’t grow up and who struggled his whole life with his own image, and the girl who started as just an image but grew up to be an independent, courageous woman.  Farrah’s death at 62, was expected, but it was still a tragedy.  Michael’s death at 50 was a bolt out of the blue, so shocking, that it’s still hard to believe.  What are the lessons they taught us?  Celebrity has its pitfalls?  That nobody has it all, but talent has its own rewards?  Tonight, we lost two stars whose lights will never be dimmed.  To both the friends and families of Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett, we send our heartfelt sympathy.”

I am so grateful each was given to us to shine their light in the special way they each did.  

View Michael's fun, upbeat Black Or White video here.

View a pictorial salute to Farrah here.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Father's Day Salute!

Since Sunday is Father's Day a salute to all the wonderful dads!  First some favorite quotes on fatherhood followed by some cuts from an email I recently received recalling Olan Mills - remember them?  If you're an Ungirdled woman, chances are you had a couple family or individual portraits made there.

"Fatherhood is pretending the present you love most is soap-on-a-rope." - Bill Cosby

"When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years." - Mark Twain

"Dad always thought laughter was the best medicine, which I guess is why several of us died of tuberculosis." - Jack Handy

"I have always had the feeling I could do anything and my dad told me I could. I was in college before I found out he might be wrong." - Ann Richards

"To be a successful father, there's one absolute rule; when you have a kid, don't look at it for the first two years." - Ernest Hemingway

"A father carries pictures where his money used to be." Anonymous

"By the time a man realizes that maybe his father was right, he usually has a son who thinks he's wrong." - Charles Wadsworth

"Becoming a father is easy enough, but being one can be very rough." - Wilhelm Busch

"A father is a man who expects his children to be as good as he meant to be." - Carol Coats

"Life was a lot simpler when what we honored was father and mother rather than all major credit cards." - Robert Orben

"Never raise your hand to your kids. It leaves your groin unprotected." Red Buttons

A salute to Olan Mills, the family portrait place dear old dad shelled out plenty of clams to:

This poor dad wore a tie for nothing!

The Purvis family made several stops along the Oregon Trail

to document their six-month journey. This photo was taken just

two weeks before the dysentery took Momma to Jesus.

This is not a bad exposure.  The 70s really were that orange.

Olan Mills Backdrop #11: The Library, 

one of their most popular themes, as seen

in this photo. The Library might be more 

believable if the shelves weren't sloping

downhill. Is that a book on teen pregnancy? 

Just a typical afternoon down on the plantation.

In a business suit. 

Olan Mills backdrop #4: Bucolic Meadow with Split Rail Fence.

Is that an animal carcass behind her? 

Thoughtful Lance.  Mirthful Lance.  Two sides of a delightful coin.

Ever wonder what they were always staring up at?


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Chinese Chicken Salad - This Week's Ungirdled Recipe!

This is not the most Ungirdled recipe, as it involves a number of steps, but it’s easy and a real winner. My friend introduced it to me a few years ago when she brought it to a party I was hosting and just about stole my thunder with it.  I forgave her, as she turned me onto one of my all-time favorite recipes. 

It’ll make YOU a star at your next summer picnic or luncheon.  It’s from Ina Garten, better known as Food Network’s “Barefoot Contessa.” Plan plenty of time in advance of your event to make it.  You can even make it the day before.  It almost tastes better the next day.  It makes, as my mother says “a gracious plenty,” which is a good thing, because people will be shoving each other to get to the bowl.  Ina says it serves 12.  To me, it could serve more.  This is wonderful served on it’s own in a buffet, over salad greens as a main dish, or on toasted wheat bread for an amazing sandwich.  I’ve added my own notes from my experiences making it.  The photo above is courtesy of a beautiful recipe blog called Aggie’s Kitchen which I encourage you to visit (click here).  If I could cook as well as Aggie, I’d weigh all of 500 lbs!  Thanks, Aggie! 


4 split chicken breasts, bone-in, skin-on (8 of the breast pieces you typically found in the meat case)

Good olive oil

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1/2 pound asparagus, ends removed, and cut in thirds diagonally

1 red bell pepper, cored and seeded

2 scallions (white and green parts), sliced diagonally

1 tablespoon white sesame seeds, toasted

For the dressing:

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup good apple cider vinegar

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 1/2 tablespoons dark sesame oil

1/2 tablespoon honey

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon peeled, grated fresh ginger

1/2 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted

1/4 cup smooth peanut butter

2 teaspoons kosher salt (I don’t usually add this much, as the soy sauce is pretty salty to me, so you may want to go easy and adjust to your tastes.)

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the chicken breasts on a sheet pan and rub with the skin with olive oil. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is just cooked. Set aside until cool enough to handle. Remove the meat from the bones, discard the skin, and shred the chicken in large bite-sized pieces.  (In a pinch for time, I have used frozen chicken breast halves cooked with little olive oil and minced garlic in a covered skillet set on medium low.  Saves time and effort.)

Blanch the asparagus in a pot of boiling salted water for 3 to 5 minutes until crisp-tender. Plunge into ice water to stop the cooking. Drain. Cut the peppers in strips about the size of the asparagus pieces. Combine the cut chicken, asparagus, and peppers in a large bowl.

Whisk together all of the ingredients for the dressing and pour over the chicken and vegetables. Add the scallions and sesame seeds and season to taste. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Make sure you have band-aids on hand, 'cause it's likely to get ugly after this hits the buffet table.



Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Dolly Parton: This Week's Ungirdled Celebrity!

There are not many people who can say they’ve been nominated for the Grammy, the Oscar, the Emmy AND the Tony awards, but Dolly Parton can!  (Didn’t you love her in 9 to 5 and Steel Magnolias?)  She is the most successful woman in country music, with a record 25 number one singles, and a record 42 top 10 country albums.  She is the only artist to have scored a number one country single in each of the past four decades!  Talk about staying power!  She is also an accomplished songwriter, producer, and businesswoman.  Her production company is responsible for the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series and the movies, Father of the Bride I and Father of the Bride II among others.

You may ask how Dolly can be an Ungirdled woman with the wigs, the make-up and the wardrobe.  She’s Ungirdled because she lives life on her own terms, is honest and hard-working, a self-made woman who is smart as a fox and adheres to the golden rule.  Dolly came from humble beginnings and worked hard for all her success, and she has never forgotten where she came from.  She’s put a lot of money where her roots are. She is co-owner of the company that runs the Dollywood theme park, a dinner theatre and a water park in her hometown of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.  These businesses have helped to greatly revitalize the area.

Dolly is also a very dedicated and active philanthropist, working hard and donating generously to support literacy programs, the American Red Cross, HIV/AIDS charities, cancer research and care centers and many other causes.

Dolly was born January 19, 1946, and has been married to Carl Dean since 1966!

Here are some favorite, Ungirdled quotes from Dolly (some of these are pure gold!):

"If you don't like the road you're walking, start paving another one."

"It's a good thing I was born a girl, otherwise I'd be a drag queen."

"Leave something good in every day."

"I hated school. Even to this day, when I see a school bus it's just depressing to me. The poor little kids."

"Plastic surgeons are always making mountains out of molehills."

“I never let a rhinestone go unturned”

"The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain."

"We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails."

"You'd be surprised how much it costs to look this cheap!"

“I'm not going to limit myself just because some people won't accept the fact that I can do something else.”

"I look just like the girls next door... if you happen to live next door to an amusement park."

“Find out who you are and do it on purpose.”

“Storms make trees take deeper roots.”

I think you'll enjoy this video of Dolly singing "Better Get To Livin'" which also features Ungirdled celebrity Amy Sedaris!  Has a great message!  Give it a minute by clicking here.  I think it'll make your day a little happier. 

Monday, June 15, 2009

"Real" Housewives Of New Jersey: There's Been Some De-Flowering In The Garden State!

Forgive me, Ungirdled Sisters and Brothers, for I have sinned.  I have met the devil.  It is Bravo TV.  And I have fallen prey to the devil’s temptations over and over again. I am so ashamed to have to confess that I have watched all the episodes of “The Real Housewives of New Jersey.”

For the uninitiated, these “housewives” are about as real-life as the “bubbies” (their word for boobies) they sport.  (We even get to see one get her new bubbies on the show while being advised by two of the “housewives” who had already purchased theirs.)  They each live in mini-mansions. By this, I mean unbelievably expensive, GINORMOUS homes.  Their days are filled with spa treatments, shopping at the most expensive boutiques, getting cosmetic surgery, taking appointments with their children’s modeling and acting agents, being the subject of photo shoots,  organizing and/or attending flashy charity events, and oh, so much more.  

There’s even an ex-model divorced mom of two girls (10 & 15) who has a boyfriend 20 years younger who she reportedly “services” on a regular basis.  (We get to see her offering to do so in the bathroom of a restaurant they’re dining in.)  This "housewife" counts her daughters as her “best friends.” After she breaks it off with the younger “man,” she tells her girls that he has promised to remain in the girls’ lives.  The girls say they don’t believe it, adding that all the guys mom dates eventually disappear.  The oldest daughter tells mom the men just want her for “her goodies.”  How convenient to have your 15-year-old best friend living with you to point out the painfully obvious and ugly truth of your life.  It’s been revealed this particular “real housewife” was allegedly a stripper and allegedly has a rap sheet that includes extortion, kidnapping and possession.  Well, don’t all us housewives?  I'm sure most of us have fond memories of our first kidnapping/extortion/possession arrests … but I digress.

Just another strippin', breast-enhancin', 
kidnappin', extortin' day in the neighborhood
for the "Real" Housewives of New Jersey.

This show packs way more trash in an hour of TV than Tony Soprano ever did in a season of the Sopranos.  Seeing these women lead what appears to be incredibly frivolous and lavish lifestyles while so many are struggling to make ends meet makes me want to run out and commit enough charitable acts to make Mother Teresa look like a real slouch.  Yet, I cannot stop watching. 

I recently confessed this to my neighborhood girlfriends who admitted they too had at least seen snippets of some of “The Real Housewives” shows.  (There was one set in Orange County, one in Atlanta, and one in New York.)  We all laughed at how different our lifestyles are from the “real” housewives on these shows.  We said our “fashion shows” are trips down the main aisle of Target to see what’s on the end caps of the women’s clothing department.  Our cocktail parties and charitable fundraising efforts amount to beers fished from a cooler on someone’s deck as we discuss the PTA used book sale.  Cosmetic procedures or spa days equal the spare minute we sometimes find to pull out the tweezers and razor. 

Truth is, there is nothing “real,” nothing healthy, nothing helpful about the “Real Housewives.”  So, realizing the error of my ways, I will no longer be watching the show.  At least not after tomorrow’s finale.  (From the previews, it looks like the one with the new bubbies turns a table over on the stripper/kidnapper/possessin’/extortionist!!  Don’t know about you, but I haven’t seen anything like that in my neighborhood.  At least not this week.)

You can read more about my sinful obsession here on Bravo TV's website where the above photo came from.  You can probably catch all the episodes of the show on Bravo before the finale, as Bravo airs each about 73 times a day.  That's how the devil led me astray.  There would always be one on while I was fixing supper and had the kitchen TV on.  The devil is very crafty.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

72 Year Old Great Grandmother Tasered In Texas

Don’t mess with Texas.  Especially a Texas cop, ‘cause they’ll taser your great-grandmother’s behind in a heartbeat (that is, if granny’s ticker can survive the blast).  That’s what Kathryn Winkfein found out the hard way recently when she refused to sign a speeding ticket.  (Which, come to find out, is not illegal in Texas.)  You’ve no doubt seen the footage of the 72 year-old getting tasered by the big, young, Richard McCain, one of Travis County's finest pictured below.  True, grandma was speeding, and true, she was short with the officer and even used profanities.  I wouldn't like someone talking to me the way she was to him, and having two teenagers, I have a lot of experience in this area.  Still I can't taser my kids for mouthing off.  (Child Protective Services made this clear to me in no uncertain terms.)  

Should Kate be in trouble for speeding and then mouthing off?  Yes.  In the tape she keeps reminding the officer she is a 72 year-old woman.  Wrong is still wrong no matter how old you are, and at that age you really should know better.  Should the big burly copy have tasered the little old “lady?”  I think she scooped out a big ol' helping of wrong and then he topped it off with a generous dollop of inhumanity.  Overall, it could have been handled much better by both of them.  Mama always said, "Two wrongs don't make a right!" 

Tasers are serious business. According to Amnesty International, at least 351 people have died after being shocked by police tasers in the United States since June of 2001. Cops in Utah just “tasered” a man to death Tuesday.  Studies show that the elderly suffer a higher risk of dying from a taser blast.


Here’s my suggestion:  Police no doubt come in contact with a number of belligerent women during traffic stops.  There are an estimated 40 million+ baby boomer women right now in this country.  That means a whole lot of estrogen-deprived drivers out there who are often going to be mad as hell for no good reason other than Mother Nature has played a horrible, hormonal joke on us.  (That and the fact that we’re out on the road because we’re off to work, to volunteer for a thankless task, to drive carpool, to shop for too-expensive groceries, to pick up sassy teenagers, buy a gift for our ungrateful mothers-in-law...well, you get the picture.) 

Should you take out a taser and do more physical harm to us if we happen to speed a little while completing this daunting to-do list?  That is not the answer.  Chocolate and carbohydrates are.  Imagine how differently this would have played out if ol’ Kate had been presented with a brownie after the officer saw she was feeling a little testy.  Instead of him being short back at her, he could have said, “Here, I think you could use a brownie while we talk this over.”  She probably would have teared up at the humanity and compassion and apologized for being ugly.  Who is going to be mad at someone handing them a brownie?  Or a donut!  I always hear that cops are hanging out at Krispy Kreme and Dunkin’ Donuts anyway.  They could have a daily allowance for buying a little stash of emergency donuts to have on hand for such situations.  Donuts and brownies are way cheaper than tasers and they aren’t going to kill anybody.  I mean, isn’t the goal of pulling someone over for speeding to keep them and others SAFE?  Good grief!  I need a brownie just thinking about it!   

Really dudes – think it over.  Brownies and donuts make for better outcomes at traffic stops. 

What do you think?  Please take the poll in the left column and/or leave a comment below by clicking on "comments."  POLL NOW CLOSED.  30% said using a taser was the right way to handle this situation; 70% said it was the wrong way to handle it.  Thanks for voting!


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Blueberry Crisp - The Week's Ungirdled Recipe!

It’s blueberry season (or almost, depending on where you live) so this week, a super-yummy, totally Ungirdled recipe using this nutritional powerhouse (read about all the nutritional benefits below).  Because I am all about keeping the Ungirdled sisterhood healthy and happy, here is a recipe from my friend and neighbor you’ll be making again and again because it is THAT EASY and THAT GOOD!  It’s similar to the cherry dump cake recipe many of us grew up with. 

Blueberry Crisp

1 (20 oz.) can crushed pineapple, undrained (I use the kind in its natural juices)

3 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

¾ cup sugar (I only use a couple of tablespoons)

1 box yellow cake mix

1 stick of butter, melted

1 cup chopped pecans

Vanilla ice cream

Butter or spray a 9 x 13 inch pan with cooking spray.  Layer ingredients (except for ice cream) in order listed.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until the top is golden.  Scoop warm crisp into dessert bowls and top with vanilla ice cream.  Be ready for marriage proposals from the single gentlemen and even a few from the married ones. 

This is so good, you’ll almost be irritated at your company when they go back for seconds (which they will) because you know that means less leftover for you.  If you are having more than 10 folks for dinner, you’d better make two.  Trust me.  Plus, you’re making everyone much healthier by making plenty of this dessert!

Blueberry nutrition facts:  Blueberries are rich in Vitamins A, C, E and beta-carotene as well as rich in the minerals potassium, manganese, magnesium. They are very high in fiber and low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. Scientists at the US Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Center say blueberries rank number 1 in antioxidant benefits when compared to 40 other fresh fruits and vegetables, and the total antioxidant capacity of blueberries is TWICE that of spinach and THREE times that of oranges.  Other studies suggest they are effective in lowering cholesterol and may help prevent Alzheimer’s and a number of cancers.  They are now considered more effective than cranberries when it comes to stopping the bacteria that cause urinary tract infections from adhering to the walls of the bladder.  All this is just the tip of the iceberg.  For more on the nutritional power of blueberries, visit here.

Photo from


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Katharine Hepburn: This Week's Ungirdled Celebrity!

I don’t have to tell you who Katharine Hepburn is.  As an Ungirdled woman, you probably love her too.  She is the ultimate Ungirdled woman.  She holds the record for most “Best Actress” Oscars with four wins out of 12 nominations.  She is also the winner of an Emmy, two Tonys, and eight Golden Globes!  I think my all time favorite Hepburn picture is a tie between The Philadelphia Story and Guess Who's Coming To Dinner.  If you haven’t seen either of these, rent them as soon as you can.  I can’t imagine you wouldn’t enjoy them too.  We lost Katharine in 2003 at age 96.  She lives on in so many wonderful films, her fascinating autobiography Me and a biography Kate Remembered by longtime friend A. Scott Berg who she asked to write her story and publish it after her death.  Both are great summer reads.  Katharine lived a truly Ungirdled life.  

Here are some favorite Ungirdled quotes from Katharine:

• I never realized until lately that women were supposed to be the inferior sex.

• Life is to be lived. If you have to support yourself, you had bloody well better find some way that is going to be interesting. And you don't do that by sitting around wondering about yourself.

• Acting is the most minor of gifts and not a very high-class way to earn a living. After all, Shirley Temple could do it at the age of four.

• If you always do what interests you, at least one person is pleased.

• If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.

• Enemies are so stimulating.

• Loved people are loving people.

• Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get — only what you are expecting to give — which is everything. What you will receive in return varies. But it really has no connection with what you give. You give because you love and cannot help giving.

• If you want to sacrifice the admiration of many men for the criticism of one, go ahead, get married.

• Plain women know more about men than beautiful women do.

• If you’re given a choice between money and sex appeal, take the money. As you get older, the money will become your sex appeal.

• Life can be wildly tragic at times, and I've had my share. But whatever happens to you, you have to keep a slightly comic attitude. In the final analysis, you have got to not forget to laugh.

• Life is hard. After all, it kills you.

• I don't think that work ever really destroyed anybody. I thik that lack of work destroys them a hell of a lot more.

  Dressing up is a bore. At a certain age, you decorate yourself to attract the opposite sex, and at a certain age, I did that. But I'm past that age.

•  Never complain. Never explain.

Click here for a short clip that shows Kate at her Ungirdled best in Guess Who's Coming To Dinner!  Links to two books I thoroughly enjoyed: