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Victoria’s Secrets: End-of-the-year gifts for all

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End of year gifts for all

As I enter the new year, I’m counting my blessings — grateful for my family, friends and colleagues.

As a big believer in hard work, I also believe in taking time to “play.” This past weekend, I had the great fun of going to the majestic Metropolitan Opera House, where an enormous Marc Chagall impressionist painting adorns the three-story-high windows at Lincoln Center, the largest opera house in the world.

Before the opera, my guest and I ate dinner at my favorite elegant dining experience: the Grand Tier restaurant, located inside the Opera House. The view from our table, number 36, overlooks Lincoln Center Plaza on one side and the spectacular Chagall impressionist painting on the other.

When I was seated, I looked up to see the curtain drawn over the Chagall. I immediately called it to the maitre’d’s attention, and the glory of the colorful artwork was revealed.

It’s the best gift to dine there and experience their chef Richard Diamanté’s artfully presented and tantalizing menu.
There was a prix-fixe, three-course meal that night. The appetizer that was a winner was smoked salmon with chopped egg, caviar and onions accompanied by pumpernickel seeded crackers. My main course was my forever favorite, Bronzino fish, presented moist with crispy skin and stuffed with couscous. It was remarkably delicious. My friend had a perfectly cooked salmon topped by a concoction of whipped egg whites that looked like suds.

But the piece de resistance was the dessert. Mine was a dome of dark chocolate with a fudge mousse filling beautifully presented with a gold stamp! My friend had an outrageously lip-smacking Baked Alaska; sorry, no flames in the presentation. It was all brought to us by Fernando, a 20-year employee at the restaurant who lives in Astoria! How cool!
I always feel the awe of sitting in the opera house auditorium looking up at the grand tiered balconies and sparkling crystal chandeliers that rise to the ceiling as the show begins.

I purchased seats from my high school buddy, who sometimes sells me his unwanted opera tickets from a subscription his parents have had over the last 50 years. He calls me the girl who launched a thousand faces because he photographed my Sweet Sixteen, then got dozens of jobs afterward, enabling him to launch a career as an amateur photographer.

The seats are spectacular: the center of Row B, just behind the conductor of the orchestra, enabling me to look at the musicians close up. One, the harpist, played at my wedding!

Being so close to the stage makes me feel I’m in the action. I love seeing the whites of the artists’ eyes.
This week I saw “Salome,” a Richard Strauss opera that debuted in 1905 and was written for the stage by Oscar Wilde as a vehicle for the celebrated star Sarah Bernhardt.

In dramatic fashion, unexpectedly, the star Salome strips naked as she seduces her stepfather with a seductive dance, and then demands the head of a spiritual leader. The story is derived from accounts in the Gospels of Mark and Matthew in which a young princess of Judea dances and beguiles her stepfather, King Herod. Her demand as a reward is the head of the prophet John the Baptist.

Ironically, I had just finished reading the detail-filled historical novel “Killing Jesus” by the prolific and powerful writer Bill O’Reilly. His historical books are dramatic page-turners that are deeply detailed and researched, making for very compelling reading. Here I was, seeing an opera based on that time.

For me it was a powerful way to end a year. My children and grandchildren are also flourishing, and it’s been a healthy year.
A program on PBS last week that featured Dr. Daniel Amen, who is a recognized expert in brain health, talking about building your brainpower. He shared research that impressed and reinforced many things I’ve practiced. I’d like to share with you some of his findings:

Floss your teeth like your life depends on it.
Drink organic green tea daily.
Eat colorful foods and plenty of protein, but in multiple small quantities.
Eliminate sugar and products like corn that are packed with sugar. After all, he explained, the feed cows corn to get fat!
Use multi-vitamins and natural products like cinnamon, turmeric, nutmeg and oregano.
Practice a 12-hour fast after dinner. If you eat dinner at 7 p.m., don’t eat again until 7 a.m.

Here’s a holiday gift that I received from a friend which I send to you:

To your enemy: forgiveness
To an opponent: tolerance
To a friend: a helpful hand
To a customer: excellent service
To a child: lasting support
To all: charity
To yourself: respect

I wish you all a healthy, happy, joyous and prosperous new year. May all your dreams come true! Happy New Year!

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