Monday, February 21, 2011

Presidential Fun Facts

BARACK OBAMA is our 44th president, but there actually have only been 43 presidents: Cleveland was elected for two nonconsecutive terms and is counted twice, as our 22nd and 24th president.

EIGHT PRESIDENTS were born British subjects: Washington, J. Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, J. Q. Adams, Jackson, and W. Harrison.

EIGHT PRESIDENTS never attended college: Washington, Jackson, Van Buren, Taylor, Fillmore, Lincoln, A. Johnson, and Cleveland. The college that has the most presidents as alumni (seven in total) is Harvard: J. Adams, J. Q. Adams, T. Roosevelt, F. Roosevelt, Rutherford B. Hayes, J. F. Kennedy, and George W. Bush.

PRESIDENTS WHO would be considered "Washington outsiders" (i.e., the 18 presidents who never served in Congress) are: Washington, J. Adams, Jefferson, Taylor, Grant, Arthur, Cleveland, T. Roosevelt, Taft, Wilson, Coolidge, Hoover, F. Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Carter, Reagan, Clinton, and G. W. Bush.

THE MOST COMMON religious affiliation among presidents has been Episcopalian, followed by Presbyterian.

THE ANCESTRY of all 44 presidents is limited to the following heritages, or some combination thereof: Dutch, English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Swiss, German , and African.

THE OLDEST president inaugurated was Reagan (age 69); the youngest was Kennedy (age 43). Theodore Roosevelt, however, was the youngest man to become president——he was 42 when he succeeded McKinley, who had been assassinated.

THE TALLEST president was Lincoln at 6'4"; at 5'4", Madison was the shortest.

FOURTEEN PRESIDENTS served as vice presidents: J. Adams, Jefferson, Van Buren, Tyler, Fillmore, A. Johnson, Arthur, T. Roosevelt, Coolidge, Truman, Nixon, L. Johnson, Ford, and George Bush.

VICE PRESIDENTS were originally the presidential candidates receiving the second-largest number of electoral votes. The Twelfth Amendment, passed in 1804, changed the system so that the electoral college voted separately for president and vice president. The presidential candidate, however, gradually gained power over the nominating convention to choose his own running mate.

FOR TWO YEARS the nation was run by a president and a vice president who were not elected by the people. After Vice President Spiro T. Agnew resigned in 1973, President Nixon appointed Gerald Ford as vice president. Nixon resigned the following year, which left Ford as president, and Ford's appointed vice president, Nelson Rockefeller, as second in line.

THE TERM "First Lady" was used first in 1849 when President Zachary Taylor called Dolly Madison "First Lady" at her state funeral. It gained popularity in 1877 when used in reference to Lucy Ware Webb Hayes. Most First Ladies, including Jackie Kennedy, are said to have hated the label.

JAMES BUCHANAN was the only president never to marry. Five presidents remarried after the death of their first wives——two of whom, Tyler and Wilson, remarried while in the White House. Reagan was the only divorced president. Six presidents had no children. Tyler——father of fifteen——had the most.

PRESIDENTS LINCOLN, Garfield, McKinley, and Kennedy were assassinated in office.

ASSASSINATION ATTEMPTS were made on the lives of Jackson, T. Roosevelt, F. Roosevelt, Truman, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, G. H. W. Bush, Clinton, and G. W. Bush.

EIGHT PRESIDENTS died in office: W. Harrison (after having served only one month), Taylor, Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley, Harding, F. Roosevelt, and Kennedy.

PRESIDENTS ADAMS, Jefferson, and Monroe all died on the 4th of July; Coolidge was born on that day.

KENNEDY AND TAFT are the only presidents buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

LINCOLN, JEFFERSON, F. Roosevelt, Washington, Kennedy, and Eisenhower are portrayed on U.S. coins.

WASHINGTON, JEFFERSON, Lincoln, Jackson, Grant, McKinley, Cleveland, Madison, and Wilson are portrayed on U.S. paper currency.

*The above information provided as courtesy of Borgna Brunner, who derived from "Facts About the Presidents" by Joseph Nathan Kane as posted on

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Grown Up Love...

Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward

I’ve been thinking about love and relationships. Blame it on Valentine’s Day. Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m not particularly “romantic.” I find the idea of a 24/7 highly passionate, all-consuming love affair, frankly, exhausting. And I’m put off by the obligatory flowers, candy, and jewelry that show up on anniversaries, birthdays, and major holidays. They’re expected…they’re graciously received…but it’s all so hollow. Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against flowers, candy and jewelry…just mechanical behavior based on social expectations. If it’s personal, genuine and sincere, then bring it on!

The thing is, I really do believe in love. But when I look around, I feel a little sad for relationships. Why? Because everyone is so fearful and tentative about commitment these days. Because everyone is so confused about their “roles.” Because relationships are more about “what’s in it for me?” or “what am I going to miss out on if I commit?” or “what is this going to cost me in the long run?” Because everyone makes it so damned complicated!

I hear guys talk about their wives, girlfriends, and “other women.” Wives…girlfriends…boring. Other women…variety…exciting! I’m guessing it NEVER occurs to them that perhaps the reason their wives and girlfriends are boring is because they’re bored too. Bored with working all day, then coming home to clean the house and cook dinner for a man who sits in his easy chair stuffing his face with the dinner she’s cooked as he stares blankly and silently at a television. I’m also guessing that “cute little chicky other woman” would be equally as bored.

To be fair, there are women who apparently regard their boyfriends and husbands as nothing more than convenient sources of income. Sex for them is an obligation…like cooking, ironing, and raising the kids. The payoff? “This guy is responsible for taking care of me and our children for the rest of our lives…whether we stay together or not.” It’s no wonder men are terrified. There’s nothing attractive or inspiring about that either.

Ina Garten, of The Barefoot Contessa on The Food Network, recently did a show that celebrated her 43rd wedding anniversary. She was making all of her husband’s favorite dishes, and as she cooked, she ruminated on marriage: “What’s the secret to a good marriage? I don’t know. I would hate to have a marriage that you would have to work at…We just have a good time together. He wants me to be happy, I want him to be happy. It’s so simple.”

I have to agree. It seems to me that much of what is missing in relationships these days is good old “R-E-S-P-E-C-T.” A partnership based on love, friendship, and really caring about another person’s feelings equally to one’s own. And throw in a dash of that magical chemistry that can‘t be described or explained.

Once in an interview, the actor Paul Newman was asked why he was faithful to his wife Joanne Woodward, when he was able to have most any woman he wanted. He replied, “Why fool around with hamburger when you have steak at home?” That comment made him sexier and more attractive to me than his beautiful blue eyes or washboard abs ever could. She lit a fire in his heart, and he found joy and excitement in keeping that flame burning. What a man!

Joanne Woodward said of Paul Newman. “Sexiness wears thin after a while and beauty fades, but to be married to a man who makes you laugh every day, ah, now that's a real treat." How beautiful!

George and Barbara Bush were on The Today Show on Valentine’s Day. George read a love letter that he wrote to Barbara on their 49th anniversary. He choked back the tears as he read it, and she reached over and patted his arm lovingly. This is what he read…

“Will you marry me? Whoops. I forgot you did that 49 years ago today. I was very happy on that day in 1945, but I’m even happier today. You give me joy that few men know. I’ve climbed perhaps the highest mountain in the world, but even that cannot hold a candle to being Barbara’s husband,” Bush read, his voice cracking. “Little did I know I was only trying to keep up with Barbara Pierce from Onondaga Street in Rye, New York. I love you.”

After so many years, it was obvious that the love, friendship, and respect were still there and as strong as ever.

I’ve watched my Dad, who is 87 years old, come in from working in the garden with a little handful of flowers for my Mom. You can see the expression of love on his face when he gives them to her, and the expression of delight on hers when she accepts them. It warms my heart to see the connection between them that still exists after over sixty years together.

This is what I wish for. I wish we would bring back love. Real love. Grown-up love. Spontaneity. Friendship. Dedication. Partnership. Commitment. Unabashed admiration and respect. Mystical attraction that never wavers. The kind of love that makes us, not more whole, not more complete…but just better. Why must it be so hard?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day! Or, if you’re single, Happy Look At The Flowers and Gifts Delivered To All Your Attached Friends and Coworkers Day!

So what’s Saint Valentine’s Day all about and why do we mark its occasion every February 14? That’s hard to pin down, as there are many different stories as to the origins of Valentine’s Day, but like many of the holidays we observe, Valentine’s Day has its roots in paganism.

Actually, hundreds of years before the Church altered the day of love in an attempt to rid it of its pagan roots, Romans practiced a pagan celebration in mid-February commemorating young men's rite of passage to the god Lupercus. The young men would draw names of teenage girls from a box and whomever the boy chose would be his companion for the remainder of the year.

The Church, of course, didn’t like the pagan festival and so Pope Gelasius ordered a slight change in the celebration. He did so by filling the box with the names of saints instead of girls and allowing both men and women to draw from the box. The game was to emulate the ways of the saint for the remainder of the year. The Church then found a patron saint by the name of Bishop Valentine for people to celebrate instead of Lupercus.

Bishop Valentine was sent to jail and executed after Claudius II (270 AD) found out he was performing secret marriages. You see, Claudius banned marriage to preserve the number of single men to be soldiers. Claudius, so the story goes, believed that single men made better soldiers. Bishop Valentine disagreed with Claudius and performed secret weddings until he was found out. He was executed on February 14. It was during his time in jail that he wrote his lover a note and signed it, “From Your Valentine.”

And that is how we came to celebrate Valentine’s Day. I know, that's kind of depressing. But it's nice to know that once upon a time there really was a man who believed in love so much he was willing to risk his life for it.

So tonight, while you're celebrating with your hearts desire, or wallowing face down in a gallon of ice cream, remember to give props to Bishop V...


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Super Bowl XLV - Are You Ready For Some Football?

Perhaps...or maybe you're just ready for a party! Here's a menu that puts a healthy spin on the traditional Super Bowl Sunday menu! Put the chili on the morning of, make the spinach dip the night before, and you won't be slaving away in the kitchen while everybody else is watching the game. Because whether you're for the Packers or the Steelers...or you just want to watch hunky guys in tight pants butt don't want to miss a single minute of the action!

(serves 8 - only 240 calories per serving!)


1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound ground turkey
2 (10.75 ounce) cans low sodium tomato soup
1 (10.75 ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chilis
2 (15 ounce) cans kidney beans, drained
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained
1 medium onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
1 pinch ground black pepper
1 pinch ground allspice
salt to taste


1.Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Place turkey in the skillet, and cook until evenly brown; drain.
2.Coat the inside of a slow cooker with cooking spray, and mix in turkey, tomato soup, diced tomatoes, kidney beans, black beans, bell pepper and onion. Season with chili powder, red pepper flakes, garlic powder, cumin, black pepper, allspice and salt.
3.Cover, and cook 8 hours on Low or 4 hours on High.

(serves 6)


1 box (10 oz size) frozen chopped Spinach
1 small onion, chopped
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan Cheese
3 tablespoons low fat ranch dressing
1/2 cup light sour cream
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder


Cook spinach according to package directions; drain well and chill.

Pulse onion, cheese, dressing, sour cream, basil, and garlic powder in a blender. Pour into a bowl, stir in the spinach and mix well. Serve chilled, with raw veggies and pita wedges.


Cut pita rounds into quarters and place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Spray lightly with cooking spray and sprinkle with cumin and garlic salt. Place in a preheated oven (400 degrees) and cook for five minutes or until lightly browned.

Game Time - Sunday, February 6, 2011 - 6:30pm ET on FOX

Go Team! C