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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My New Year's resolution is to wear a tiara

...and to be unapologetically....


All this holiday hoopla and family togetherness translates into cooking, cleaning up and cooking and cleaning up. For days on end. Days and nights. And nights and days. All day. All night. Forever. And ever. And ever. And ever.

My very savvy and knowledgable friend Kate always says that in her next life she is coming back as a helpless woman. She has this theory that whatever you do in your first year of marriage, you've set the tone for the rest of your married life. For instance--if you do all the cooking, all the laundry, all the dishes, all the shopping, all the gardening and everything else that goes along with it--then you will always be doing it. I've come to the conclusion that I must have been very busy being super woman in my first year of marriage. Because my reign as the super hero of all things domestic has not come to an end. And, if Kate's theory is correct....it will not be over any time soon.

Unless I say so, I guess. And, I'm not very good at saying so....
And, if truth be told--my family is not very good at hearing it (I've never trained them...).

So, I was thinking....to avoid having to cry and scream and to avoid having to deal with them getting all defensive and cranky---maybe I'll just quietly slip into diva modefor the next 365 days. So, instead of telling them that I am no longer going to be doing everything and risk a guilt trip and possibly lots of tears and misery, I'll just put on a tiara and feign ignorance. As the dishes pile up in the sink, I'll just walk past them in my tiara and head straight to the couch to prop up my feet and read a magazine. As my family waits for dinner, I'll put on my tiara and walk up to my bedroom, fluff up my pillows, turn on the TV and enjoy a night of TV shopping. When the bathroom door will no longer close because the entire room is filled with dirty towels, I'll place my tiara on my head, pack up a little bag and head to a very nice hotel downtown. When the township stops by the house to report that our front yard has become a danger zone because of all of the weeds and thickets, I'll put on my tiara and pretend I don't speak English. When the pantry is bare and there's not even a can of tuna fish to be had, I'll put on my tiara and spend the rest of the day relocating my shoe collection from my bedroom closet to those bare cupboard shelves. Then, I'll head out to my favorite shoe store to fill my bedroom closet once more.

I think it's a pretty decent plan. Don't you? It's very comprehensive--a little shopping, a little magazine reading, a little role playing, some shoes, some bling. Oh yes, it could work.
Now...the only thing I need is a tiara....
What would my family think if I went tiara shopping tomorrow instead of doing the big New Years' Day family dinner thing? Gee...I wonder if anyone would answer the door when the guests come? Because I'm pretty sure opening the door is my job too....

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

It's almost a wrap....

...but not quite yet....

Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes,
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Moments so dear.
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you measure a year?


There's still a few more words to be written to My 2008 before I place it in my memory book. There's today and tomorrow...day 364 and day 365. Only 48 hours. 48 hours in a year that made a difference. How will I measure my year?


How will you measure yours?

In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights
In cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife?

So, I ask--how will you spend the next 48 hours finishing up the rest of your 2008 Story?

In five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you measure
A year in the life?

Monday, December 29, 2008

Happy Birthday Italian Style!


Wedged in between all the holiday hoopla comes yet another big day. We're celebrating Carmen's birthday today with a special trip Vince planned. It's all about handmade raviolis and homemade wine. We're all piling in the car for a road trip! Doesn't that sound like the perfect day for my 51 year old Italian Stallion?
Are we there yet?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Judi and the ChristmasColored Dream Coat......

I already told you part of this story. It's about a jacket that set off a multi-year firestorm of dieting....

Now, it's time for the sequel....

Let's start where we left off with my beloved jacket--I had packed it up and gave it to a dear friend who had always admired it. And that's where it stayed. Every year when she would haul it out to wear to a holiday party, she would enthusiastically tell me about all the compliments she received. After all, it was a damn special jacket. I will never forget the day I bought it. Vince was just a little tyke in a stroller and Toni was not even on the horizon. We were Christmas shopping at the mall that day when I spied it in the window of one of my favorite stores of yesteryear--The Icing. The store is now long gone. But, oh how I loved that store and their overpriced baubles and sparkly what-nots. I immediately navigated the stroller into that delicious store and found the jacket. $268. A bit pricey for a mom who had much more Christmas shopping to do and a bit impractical for a jacket that could only be worn once a year. But, damn, I wanted that jacket so bad I could feel it in my limbs. I vowed to have it....when it went on sale. So, from then on--I visited that jacket each time I went to the mall. By December 26, it was mine. It was still a little pricey but it was on sale. My beloved red blazer with embroidered Christmas trees. The one I wore every Christmas Eve....until the picture...

Fast forward to December 23, 2008. I had taken a little time out to share some Christmas cheer with two of my spirited friends. It had been a day of last minute shopping and traffic jams with the promise of more to come. By the time I arrived at the little restaurant-bar where we were meeting, I had done a number on my debit card, my mind and my feet. I desperately needed that Tangueray Gin martini--the first one and the second one. And, I definitely needed a good dose of friendship. Thankfully, by the time we parted, my body and my spirit were refueled for the chore that laid ahead of me--finding an outfit to wear for Christmas Eve. I visited several of my favorite stores--braving traffic and crowds with a hopeful heart. Yet, as the night wore on without finding a suitable outfit, my hope diminished and I became weary. I still had a few groceries to pick up and a few chores to get done when I got home. So, I gave up my search for a Christmas Eve outfit with the knowledge that I would come up with something. Little did I know as I once again headed out into the holiday traffic that " the something" was already sitting on the love seat in my living room. Thanks to the very dear friend who loved my Christmas jacket.....

Yes, that's me....in MY RED CHRISTMAS TREE JACKET.....December 24, 2008

And, here's me in MY RED CHRISTMAS TREE JACKET with Ms. Best Dressed.....


And, here's me in MY RED CHRISTMAS TREE JACKET with the guy I share a special Christmas Eve cocktail with every year....


Yes, it was very Merry Christmas Eve.....me in MY RED CHRISTMAS TREE JACKET. The one I bought oh so many years ago....a Size 12. Thanks to a wonderful friend who has good taste, a big heart and a true appreciation for the fact that I lost 80+ pounds....

THAT picture is now a bad dream. These are the pictures of what dreams of made of....

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The gift that keeps on giving......


Fair warning....I'm going to get a wee bit Hallmarky here. I'm just in one of those moods. Maybe it's all that warm and fuzzy holiday spirit that's been going around. Or, maybe it's all part of my end of the year reflection. Or, perhaps it has something to do with me and my 1/2 century thing (you know...because I'm turning 50 in 27 days...). Whatever it is--it's where my head and my heart are at the moment. I'm feeling very reflective and kinda sappy. So, pardon me while I nauseate you with my good will....

I've said it a million times---getting this lapband was the best thing I ever did. And, I mean it. With all of my heart and soul. It's not like I never did anything good or meaningful in my life. Because I have. Lots of things. But, mostly, those things happened to me. Or, they were just all part of the natural order of things--going to school, getting married, having kids,etc. But, my Lapband--I did it for me. Me. Me. Me. Yes, I'm sure you could say that by doing this for ME--my loved ones also reaped the benefits of it. But---honestly--if you want to hear the truth--I did it for me. And, in return--I got more than I bargained for. Much, much more.

This holiday season opened my eyes even further to the joy of my Lapband. My beloved lapband helped me shop, cook, entertain, be with friends and family, go to parties and make merry with more ease and happiness than ever before. Being 80+ pounds thinner was the key to still being able to stand by the end of Christmas Day. It was the thing that got me through malls and grocery stores with enough energy left over to unpack the car then cook and wrap. It was the key to feeling the joy (and not the embarrassment) of running into old friends and cousins and colleagues. And, it slapped a real smile on my face each time I got dressed and looked in the mirror...

You've probably heard the saying--nothing tastes as good as thin feels. Right? It's a dieter's mantra. They are the magic words that are supposed to help you push away that extra helping of pasta or refuse to eat the beautiful chocolates that are sitting in front of you. Clearly, they didn't work for me. As much as I can attest to the fact that truer words have never been spoken--I can also tell you that food had more power over me than my own belief system. Yes, I was positive being thin would be better than a huge plate of pasta dripping in velvety sauce smothered with top quality Romano cheese. And, I definitely understood that my health was much more important than nachos. But, tell that to my taste buds. And my eyes. And my appetite. They were not cooperative. They were stubborn as all hell. They were downright defiant. Until they met their match--my Lapband.

You see, I never really realized how wonderful it is to not be fat. There I said it. I admitted it. I was fat and I hated it. But, I learned to live with it. All those years of making myself believe that my beauty had nothing to do with how I looked or how much I weighed--rubbish. All those self-talks about accepting myself for the person I am--hogwash. Because right now--at this very minute--I can tell you that my self-worth and my self-acceptance are and always have been and always will be--intricately connected to the image in the mirror. Call me a vain self-absorbed bitch if you want. I am who I am (well, I'm really not a self-absorbed bitch..). Thankfully, I'm no longer a fat version of who I am. And, that feels good and wonderful and sweet and amazing and downright fabulous. Because fat Judi was not half as happy as the Judi who sits here on December 27, 2008. I just didn't really know it. Oh, yeah, I suspected it. I avoided knowing it. Denial perhaps. Ignorance perhaps. Let's face it--I still have all the good things I always had. My family, my friends, my life... But, I also have the one thing that makes it all better....my Lapband. The gift I gave myself that has never stopped giving...

Friday, December 26, 2008

Well?



..and, it ain't over yet....

Thursday, December 25, 2008

I still believe.......

....in the journey....

With deep appreciation to you--my faithful readers....I send you the merriest of wishes for a beautiful and peaceful Christmas Day. Wherever your journey takes you today...whether it be as far away as the ends of the earth or as close by as your favorite living room chair...may you find a reason to believe.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Christmas fish tale...


Growing up, as devout Irish-Italian Catholics, we followed every rule the Church put out there. If they said women had to wear something on their heads in church, we would. And, if we forgot our little chapel veils as we raced out the door to mass, we had no problem wearing a fully opened kleenex on our heads. If the Church said no eating before receiving communion, we did it. It's just the way it was. We didn't ask questions--no one asked why. There had to be a good reason...afterall, it was the Church! And, when it came to Fridays and Christmas Eve--the Church said we could not eat meat. So we didn't. We gorged ourselves on seafood. And, in an Italian household, Christmas Eve was the kingpin of all seafood eating.

As a kid, this no meat eating thing got on my nerves--I was getting pretty sick of fish sticks and tuna with pasta. I had no appreciation for smelts, bacala, shrimp, crab or calamari. So, I asked my father why we couldn't eat meat and he told me it was because it was a form of fasting to show God that we would give up things for Him. Which, of course, was not what I wanted to hear. So, I asked my mother--she said "it had to do with those cafones--the fishermen in Italy. They were going broke because no one was eating their stinking fish! Eh...che peccato! So, they had a sit down with the big consigliere--The Pope. Maybe they did a shakedown. Who knows. Afterward, Our Holy Father said we couldn't eat meat..so we didn't eat meat. And, those facia bruti fishermen...they got rich. Then,they gave the Pope a little taste...you know what I mean? Stugots!" I liked my mom's story much better--she always had a way of bringing her Italian Hill District world to our calm little suburb. Well..I liked it...until she said "but you have to do what the Pope says--or else-- an omerta! You'll be struck down the next time you go to church." True to form--the Irish version (my dad) and the Italian version (my mother). A tinge of guilt with the Irish, a big heaping of fear with the Italians!

And, so, this Christmas Eve--if you sit down to feast on shrimp and crab and all those delectable seafood concoctions--you can decide who was right. My father with his tale of sacrifice or my mother's mafioso story. Which ever it is--it is now tradition. A tradition that makes the house smell of fish and keeps you in the kitchen for hours preparing what ends up being---a Christmas Eve I've come to love. Smelts and all.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tastey Tuesday Recipe Exchange.....The final chapter!

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I can feel the hours ticking. My stomach is in knots and my head is in a fog. I'm at that point of the season when I'm on a full-blown-caffiene-adrenalaine-induced- frenzy. It's Judi on speed (oh how I wish!)....I talk fast, I walk fast and I can't do it all fast enough. Did I forget something? Oh, who the hell knows! Do I have every ingredient and every dish and every utensil I need? Give me a break! When will I ever wrap that mountain of gifts in my closet? Get real. Do we have enough booze? Cookies? Nut rolls? Cheese? Olives? Lemons? Limes? Well...all I gotta say is...we better have enough booze. Because if I forgot something--I can at least give them another drink. And, all will be well.

One thing I do know we will have enough of is.....

Fried Ravioli
Ingredients
Olive oil, for frying
2 cups buttermilk
4 cups Italian-style bread crumbs
4 dozen frozen store-bought cheese ravioli..thawed
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or romano
2 jars store bought marinara sauce (I use DeCecco), heated, for dipping
Directions
Pour enough olive oil into a large frying pan to reach a depth of 2 inches. Heat the oil over medium heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 325 degrees F.

While the oil is heating, put the buttermilk and the bread crumbs in separate shallow bowls. Working in batches, dip ravioli in buttermilk to coat completely. Allow the excess buttermilk to drip back into the bowl. Dredge ravioli in the bread crumbs. Place the ravioli on a baking sheet, and continue with the remaining ravioli.

When the oil is hot, fry the ravioli in batches, turning occasionally, until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the fried ravioli to paper towels to drain. (you may need to clean the oil of the particles half-way through or start with a clean pan of oil)

Sprinkle the fried ravioli with cheese and serve with a bowl of warmed marinara sauce for dipping.
*Note--it also tastes great with a jar of store bought pesto sauce mixed up with a jar of store-bought alfredo sauce (heated). Or, offer 2 different sauces. Scrumptious.

...plus it would go great with that bottle of wine I'm dreaming of drinking right now....





Merry Appetizer Making!!!

Monday, December 22, 2008

And the stockings are hung by the chimney with care.....

....in hopes that St. Nicholas will soon be here....

No, I'm not ready. So, stand back, friends, I'm on a mission. I'm making a list....a long, long list....and, I'm checking it twice. I have no idea when this crazy sleigh ride will end. Let's hope it's before the stroke of midnight December 24th. Because December 25th might arrive but trust me, good old St. Nicholas won't. Not here at least. There is no Christmas in Judiland unless I bring it. As much as I believe in the jolly man in the red suit, I'm pretty sure he's not going to send me a bunch of elves to pitch in with what needs done around here.

Yes, yes, I know, I always get into a state of panic right before a big event. And, yes, I know, I always think I'll never get done. And, yes, it always seems to come together in the end. But, honestly..this death defying, back breaking holiday frenzy is just doing me in. Maybe I'm getting way too old for all of this. Or, perhaps this is getting way too old for me. Either way, I think I have to come up with a better plan for my next 50 Christmases. Come January 23, my crazy youth will be over and I'll have to settle down, cut back...simplify.
But, for now...this 49 year old doesn't have time to think about all that. I gotta rock Christmas...
Like I said....stand back!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Do you hear what I hear?

Compliments are a funny thing. People are afraid to give them---especially when it comes to weight loss. They think that if they tell you how great you look because you lost weight then they are implying that you didn't look great before and that they thought you were fat. Well, I'm here to tell you folks--I was fat and I did not look all that great--especially when compared to how I look now. So, believe me when I tell you--I am completely open to compliments. Bring them on. I've got no problem whatsoever if you tell me that I look great. I've got no problem at all with hearing you say "Oh my God, you lost so much weight.." Just keep them coming....that's all I have to say. Because when you compliment me--that's exactly what I hear--a compliment. I don't stand there and stew "so, he thought I was a big fat pig before" or "oh, look at her, now that I lost weight, she talks to me". So, stop worrying people...when you want to give me or anyone else a compliment on losing weight--DO IT. We worked hard. We know we were fat before. And, we figure you knew it too. So, don't hesitate.....

It was a weekend of people hesitating.

When I left you all--I was still undecided on what I would be wearing Friday night. Drum roll please...I chose a simple black ensemble from my closet--a longer length black crocheted skirt and a simple black wrap around sweater that's secured with a tassel with bugle beading and a pair of black patent sling back's with a red satin bow. I didn't overdo the jewelry (normal weight girls don't really have to if they don't want to!)--black chandelier earrings, a black glitzy bracelet and a chunky silver and black ring. It was a perfect Judi look...classic with a little bit of rocker thrown in. The skirt fit perfectly....not too tight, not too loose and it hit me right at my ankle. Honestly, I felt wonderful in it--hugging my body but not with that feeling of being squeezed into it. If there was a moment that my head and my body were in tune--it was that moment. All of a sudden....I realized that I had lost over 80 pounds. I could feel it....

And, I wanted to hear it. Which I did....sort of. People greeted me with a mix of surprise and shock. One of my dearest friends in the world--my college roomie (who we fixed up with someone Carmen works with a few years back and they are now happily married)--was enthusiastic and overly sweet. Her husband, on the other hand, didn't seem to know what to say--except a sheepish "looking good". The darling wife of another one of Carmen's coworkers--who I ran into in the ladies' room--seemed a bit puzzled when I said hello to her. When she finally figured out who I was, she was unnecessarily embarrassed and apologetic. As I washed my hands and applied more lip gloss, I could feel her stare. Then, a few minutes later--as if on a delayed response---she uttered--"you just look so different! I can't decide what it is...is it your hair?" My college roomie saved her "doesn't she look great? she doesn't want to tell you but she lost over 80 pounds!" The woman laughed nervously "I thought it was that! But, I didn't want to say it!" Then, there was the woman who caught as I walked up to the bar--she motioned for me to come over to talk to her after I got my drink. I nodded in agreement. When I approached her, she quickly pulled me aside "You look great! How did you lose all that weight?" When I told her, she seemed to lose her enthusiasm. Or, maybe she just didn't know what to say. Then,rather self-consciously, she asked if she could email me with a few questions. "Of course!" I told her. But, I have to tell you-- Carmen's boss took the prize when it came to reactions. When he approached me, he said--"I looked over and wondered who Carmen brought with him! I didn't know who you were. Judi you look amazing!Wow! No wonder I didn't know the woman with Carmen!" Then, he seemed to want to catch himself--as if he didn't want to imply that Carmen might be with another woman! "I didn't have my glasses on..." he said sheepishly. A little while later, he pulled Carmen aside to apologize. He said he thought he offended me with his remark that I looked so different. He thought that he might have implied that he thought I didn't look good before. When Carmen told me, I made face..."what did you say?" I asked him. He said he set him straight...he told him I was happy to hear compliments. With that...I turned to my husband...."Yes, I need to hear compliments..." I'm pretty sure he heard me...loud and clear.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The clothes make the girl.....


...yes, you are reading the blog of the mother of the girl voted as the best dressed girl of her senior class....

Finally...all that work paid off! From the day I brought her home from the hospital in her little pink and purple Gymboree outfit with matching headband, sox and shoes to all the first day of school outfits to the amazing dresses for dances--my job is done. She has won the much-coveted title of BEST DRESSED GIRL. All those years... all those shopping trips, all those headbands and shoes and jeans and skirts and pants and sweaters....have brought us to this day. TONI has been been crowned with her rightful title. And, I am the woman with the debit card that got her there.....

And, yet, at this very hour, I sit here fretting over fashion. Yes, friends...tonight begins Carmen's big end of year holiday extravaganza. It's a weekend of glitz and glamour and all things fancy. I have to hop in the car with my bags packed in a matter of hours. And, I'm having a fashion melt down. Tonight, it's a black tie affair--complete with gowns and sparkles and velvet and jewels. Remember last year? Well, this year is last year on steroids. I mean, last year, I looked different---I know. But, this year...I look very different. I may only be down another 40 pounds since last year but I look different. Very different. I am much more toned than I was--thanks to my walking buddy and dear friend Martha who keeps me on task each morning.....she waits at the corner in the pitch dark for me to emerge. And, I walk. And talk. It's the best way to start any day. So...thanks Martha! Because of my new walking regimen, I can see the redistribution of things on my body. I am no longer just one huge belly with a body attached to it. So....I definitely want to make the most of it--fashion-wise, that is. But...hey...I don't want to go so overboard that it seems like I'm trying too hard. It all has to appear effortless. We don't want anyone to know that I've been shopping and stressing over it all.

Okay...you figured me out...I want to be arm candy. I admit it. I want a hush to fall over the entire room. I want people to fawn over me and applaud my success. And, I want Carmen to just about faint when he sees me. It's that simple. I want to look spectacular and fabulous and elegant. AND THINNER! But, I want to stick to my own style. I mean, Judi at any weight does not wear clothes that scream sexpot. Well, at least not to a party with a room full of engineers. What's a girl to do?

I know, I know...you're wondering why I just don't go out and shop! Well...I have to let you in on one tiny little secret--I've already bought several things for this party. They are all upstairs hanging in my closet ready to be chosen. But, are they the right things? I just don't know. Sure, I could forbid my well-dressed daughter from going to school today to help me with my plight. But...that's not a good parent thing to do. Or, is it? No, no. She must go to school. I can't put mommy's fashion in front of a good solid education. Or, could I? No, no. She must go to school. Okay...okay...I'm just going to have to depend on Vince to help me out. My boy is home from PhDland. Although...isn't he the kid who wore pants held together with duck tape and fraternity t-shirts throughout his undergraduate days? And, isn't he the guy who considers a clean hoodie appropriate dress-up wear? Hmmm. Maybe I should just keep my best dressed girl home from school today....

See you next week.....when the real holiday frenzy begins....!
As if this ISN'T a frenzy....


Happy Weekend-Before-Christmas!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

How Santa Saved a Fat Man.......





The following was sent to me by a Lapbanded friend last year....I thought I'd share it with you....



T’was the night before Christmas, I’d binged through the house,

I’d just emptied the fridge and I felt like a louse;

My XXXL pants were hung on the chair,

They were getting quite snug, almost too tight to wear.



So I put on my sweats, nestled deep in the blues,

“I will never be thin”, to myself I did muse,

And as deep in depression I dolefully sat,

I accepted the truth: I would always be fat.



When way up on the roof deftly landed two feet,

Landed ever so lightly, the sound so discreet,

That I just barely heard it, but wanted to see

What the source of this sound could potentially be.



Away to the window I stumbled and shuffled

And got such a shock that my shout went unmuffled.

For right there on my roof, standing thin as a stick

And as fit as a fiddle was – that’s right - St. Nick!



Well, I stuttered and stammered – “Santa, you look great,

Please tell me your secret – how’d you lose all that weight?”

With a wink of his eye he extended his hand,

And he said, “Got two words for you, sonny – The Band!”



Kindness Taste Test Update:

I'm confusing everyone! When I go to give someone a candy cane--they tend to stand back a minute to survey the situation before taking it. One woman in line at CVS asked me if I was "collecting for something". Several people refused to take one all together! Now, honestly, if I wasn't being Random Kindess Judi and just being my normal old self, I would have probably made some remark like "what? do you think I'm trying to poison you?" or "can't you just accept that someone is trying to brighten up your day?" Geez! Being that I'm doing the kindess thing sort of "in secret", I don't want to say "listen, I'm just trying to be nice because I'm doing this random acts of kindess thing in December". So, I just have to come up with a good response to everyone's suspicions. As for the lottery tickets--the response has been a little better....one guy I handed it to said "Oh, did I drop that?"
My crusade continues.....

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

What is YOUR Pot Luck Personality?

It's been said many times--we are the food we eat. At this time of the year, eating is a national event--we eat, eat and eat. We eat it all--traditional ethnic foods, cookies, nut rolls, pies, chocolate, candy canes and appetizers galore. We sit down to big family dinners, we go to office parties and neighborhood gatherings, we go to lunch with friends, we go out to dinner with coworkers and we entertain in our own homes. It's food, food, food 24-7. If we're not eating it, we're thinking about it. And, sometimes even when we are eating it, we're thinking about it. And, we talk about it. We talk and think and eat--food. It's just the way it is. We make casseroles and vats of meatballs to bring to friend's homes. We assemble goodie baskets to deliver to neighbors. And, we wouldn't be caught dead empty handed walking into a party. We cut up cheese and pepperoni, we mix up cream cheese dips and we stock up on fancy crackers and breads. Or....maybe that's just us. Because I've just figured out a dirty little secret....not everyone does all of this. I know it's hard to believe but it's oh so very true. There's an entire population of people out there walking among us who are not all that into food. Or, maybe they are not that much into sharing food. Or, maybe it's more about laziness or selfishness or thoughtlessness. Or maybe it's about money. Or maybe it's about cooking skills or interests. I'm not sure. But, what I do know is that they are not like me and I am not like them. Which, of course, is not a bad thing. It's just a curious thing....to me. How do I know about these people? I go to Potlucks....

Now, believe me, I'm not judging anyone based on the food they bring to a potluck! In fact, I don't want it to sound that way at all. Like I said, it just makes me curious. When I am going to a potluck--I pull out all the stops. I'm inclined to make sure that my contribution is something with star quality. Does that mean that I crave attention? Possibly...I'm not sure. What I would hope is that my reasoning for this is purely selfless. Yet, I've never spent much time analyzing why I bring two entrees and a salad and someone else walks in with a dish the size of my fancy little tea cup. So, I can't say--for sure--if there's any deep seated issues that cause me to go overboard and someone else to do the bare minimum. Maybe it's just all about the food.... And, if it is....what does the food that you bring to a potluck say about your personality?

I think it's worth a look-see. A little research maybe? So...here's the plan....

Since we're in the season of food, next time you go to a potluck....look around at who is bringing what. And, try to figure out if the food they bring matches their personalities. Even if we never come to any concrete result......I'll bet you'll have a grand old time analyzing that woman who walks in with a container of Spam....

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tastey Tuesday Recipe Exchange....Week 3!!!!

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The weeks are flying by! Before you know it, we'll all have to pick which appetizers we want to put on our Christmas tables. I've assigned my sisters each 3 appetizers to bring....I wonder if they are reading my blog for ideas! Hmmmm....
In addition to my 3 appetizers, I will do a crab bisque and a festive salad. As soon as Vince returns from PhDland later this week, he and I will put the finishing touches on our crab bisque recipe and then Toni and I will figure out which salad should adorn our table. The desserts are still in the discussion stages. Toni and I will be using next weekend to do our annual cookie bake-a-thon. So, we know there will be cookies. They may not be all-star cookies but I can guarantee you that they will be baked with love and laughter.

As for the libation portion of the day, Vince brewed his "Christmas Beer" when he was home for Thanksgiving. It's still "fermenting" in the back room. So, the beer drinkers will be celebrating with his brew. As a Lapbander (no fizzy or carbonated drinks!) and a non-beer-drinker, I will not partake. I'm thinking of going with a martini bar. The only little concern I have is that most of the male beer drinkers are also big time martini lovers. The thought of them mixing beer and martinis has me concerned. So, I'm thinking about doing more cha-cha martinis as opposed to the old stand-bys. Stay tuned on that....

Yes, these holidays are quite complex here in Judiland. But, I'm working very hard to make them less so. This is a wonderful start. No marathon cocktail hour to be followed by a huge multi-coursed dinner with perfect wine pairings anymore! Knowing when to stop is probably the hardest part for me. Perhaps I'm growing wiser in my old age. Who knows....by next year, I might be serving take-out!!!

Speaking of Take-Out.....

Here's my take on a great and festive looking antipasti!

Arrange on a large platter.....
Buffalo mozzarella....sliced or buy the ones that come in little balls
Olives (I use a variety of green stuffed olives & black)
1 jar of roasted red peppers....you'll need to cut these in bite size(I use scissors)
1 jar fried red/green peppers with onions--in their "juice"
1 jar marinated artichoke hearts--cut in bite size pieces/drained
Large chunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 small loaves of Italian bread--thinly sliced on diagonal

Serve at room temperature.


As for my most recent Kindness Taste Test....
This is a tough one. Not because it's tough to be nice. But, it's tough to figure out if it's something I would have done anyway or if it's a new thing that I did because I have tried to be more aware of treating others with random acts of kindness. Anyway....as some of you know, our dear blogger friend Jody is going through a very difficult time following the untimely and tragic death of a family friend. Although this type of situation is heartbreaking and sad in itself, it can become magnified by the fact that it's the Christmas season. In as much as I can support her through encouraging and comforting words, I can't be there in a physical sense for her. But, I can draw from her words to do something comforting and thoughtful right where I am planted--dedicating it to her example of care and friendship. In reading her most recent blog posting about not knowing what pain and loss people carry with them when they are standing right in front of you, I couldn't help but wonder how many times in any given day I pass judgment on the way someone behaves or treats me without knowing what secret heartaches they carry with them. You know--the guy who cuts me off in traffic, the woman who jumps in front of me in a long line, the person who doesn't smile or acknowledge me in the hallway, the individual on the phone who complains without cause and the grumpy old man who makes a snide comment about my park job. I have no idea if the guy in traffic is racing to the side of a dying friend or if the woman in line just lost her job or if the individual on the phone is *this* close to losing her home or if the unfriendly person is living in a loveless marriage or if the old man just buried his beloved wife of 60 years. So, armed with that thinking....I bought a big bag of candy canes and some lottery tickets to randomly pass out. Not to friends or family or to anyone I know. They are just for people I see....

Monday, December 15, 2008

The spirit that resides in all of us......

is for real.....I heard it in a song....


"O Come O Come Emmanuel".....that was the song. A Christmas carol. I have no idea what the words are. But, my Uncle Patsy does.




So, as I was saying...
I've been in this grand funk the past few weeks. Believe me, if I knew why, I'd tell you. One minute I think I know. The next minute I don't. Then, the next minute, it's something else. Then, the next it's not. Well...you get the picture...my grand funk seems to be fickle. Add this fickle grand funk to everything else that's going on in my world and then top it off with the holiday stuff and what you've got is a teary, anxiety-ridden, moody Judi. A Judi who can't sleep, can't concentrate and can't remember if she put gas in her car. I find myself *this* close to crying every hour and I'm having waves of panic grip me. It's not a good feeling. At all. So, I've been thinking--I either need chill pills, a month at a spa, one of those personal assistants the stars all have or a good night's sleep followed by a problem-free, unchaotic, noise-free day. What I didn't need was a day like yesterday. But, that's just what I got.

And, that leads me back to the song.....

So, without going into details as to how it all happened...I'll just say this---I had charge of my dear Uncle Patsy yesterday. Now, I think I've told you about him. He's my dad's younger brother (he's 86). He lived a colorful and madcap playboy life on the trendy side of town. A life filled with the kind of girls you don't marry, politician friends, glitzy parties, fancy cars, dapper clothes and good Irish whiskey. He had the smooth good looks of a movie star and the debonair personality of a count. His life was so full that he never had any children---just my 2 sisters and I--his 3 nieces--who he dotted on when he wasn't whisking away to some exotic place or partying too hard. And, we adored that man like crazy. He was a walking party in our sedate little suburban life. About 8 years ago, he married a wonderful woman. About 5 years ago, he slowly began to fall into the grips of dementia. His blue eyes still sparkle. He greets people with the same polished manner he did for years..."Top of the Morning to Ya..."--and his conversation is peppered with charming one-liners, appreciative thank yous and sweet compliments. He treats everyone as a friend and is an impeccable gentleman. Yet, the only person on this planet who he knows is my father--his brother Frankie. He has no idea what day it is, where he lives, how he got to where he is and what's going on at any given moment.

Okay...okay....I'm getting to the part about the song. I just had to set it up...

I'm not crazy about going to Sunday night Mass. I prefer Saturday night or early Sunday morning. But, with a slew of parties on Saturday and the fact that my father just can't seem to get himself out the door earlier than 1 pm, we went to 7:30 Mass last night. Since I had charge of my uncle--he was coming with us. Even though he had been to Mass earlier in the day with his wife. But, he didn't remember so it was no big deal. I just hope there's no Catholic law that would forbid someone from having Communion twice in one day. Maybe if you don't remember the first time, it doesn't count. Vatican III might address that...

Anyway, as I was saying....I'm in this grand funk. Add that to not wanting to go to Sunday night mass and having to deal with my uncle on a day when I had a list as long as my arm to get done and well....I was not very pleased. I had this woe is me attitude all day and I was feeling mighty miserable. Not at all in the Christmas spirit.

I'm getting to the part about the song....

As I was waiting for Mass to begin (another pet peeve of mine...my dad insists on getting there extremely early so he can say the rosary)...the choir was practicing. They were singing carols. I sat and listened--hoping to ward off my grand funk and my relentless anxiety. As I lost myself in my thoughts...I heard it. The strong, velvety and melodic voice of my uncle. Singing. Clear and precise. Filled with emotion and beauty. I checked to see if he was singing from the book. No. He was singing the words on his own. Singing those words not from memory but from somewhere else. From his spirit....the spirit that remains. The spirit that resides in each of us....
I heard it last night in his song....

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Lesson learned........

The hardest part of performing random acts of kindness is stopping long enough to take a breath....


It's been a weekend of holiday happenings here in Judiland. Amid the parties and the shopping and the getting ready, life must go on. And, it does. My family gets hungry, my aunt needs help with my uncle, my husband wants to do major financial planning, my father wants a meal at an unscheduled time and I get tired. So tired that I can't see straight or think about anything else but what lies ahead undone. Trust me, if I did any random act of kindness--I couldn't even tell you about it. Because it happened without me knowing it. So, today...I'm just going to say that I didn't do anything unkind. If anyone has any reason to thank me for anything....it might because I did things for them that I enjoyed or was necessary. When I put together a gourmet goodie basket for a friend's party, it was because I take great joy in that and I dearly love my friend. If I fetched a Wendy's chicken sandwich and a yogurt parfait for my dad and my uncle instead of what they really wanted (hamburgers and fries), it's because I want them to live longer by eating healthier....even if it gets them an extra hour in this lifetime. If I did the dishes or the laundry or cleaned out my son's bedroom, it's because that's what needed to happen. If I lugged all of my daughter's gently used but no-longer-fit or no-longer-loved clothes, boots, coats and shoes to the Goodwill--it's because she has too much and we have run out of room to store things we no longer use. If the bonus outcome of that is that some young girl who has less finds those items under the Christmas tree--it's a result of my own child's good fortune. You see...sometimes we just do what we do because we do it. There's no grand plan or magic or great intent. It's just who we are and how we live our life and how we hold our lives and our world together. Sometimes the living wears us out and we can't do anything extra. On days like these past few--we have to hope that it's enough. It shouldn't be this hard but sometimes it just is. There's always tomorrow....

On a brighter note--I went to a party and saw people I haven't seen in a very long time. You know....I have to confess... I'll never grow tired of hearing the words..."OH MY GOD, YOU'VE LOST SO MUCH WEIGHT!" I was not too tired to revel in the beauty of it all. I'm human, what can I say?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

I can smell Christmas......


If you are a Pittsburgher...this is what you do the week before a holiday.
You go to The Strip.

The Strip is a foodie's paradise. The sights, the smells, the people...they are all there.

Friday, December 12, 2008

I'm Dreaming Of.........



Yes, I'm delirious. 'Tis the season....


As for my Kindness Taste Test yesterday......
It was simple and fun! A young father and his little boy were walking past my house as I was getting into my car. I figured the man was taking the little boy to school since he had a backpack. Plus, they were heading in that direction. (call me Sherlock!) It had just started raining and sleeting. I was in a hurry and was not going in their direction. So, at first, I didn't think to ask if they wanted a ride. Then, I remembered MY pledge to do one random act of kindness each day. So....I asked if they wanted a ride. They both happily accepted my offer. It was a nice way to meet my new neighbors that I didn't even know I had! They moved into a home at the bottom of our street in late October. And, once we dropped the little boy off, I drove the father home. We had such a nice chat. Even though he called me 'Mam!
Yes, I was late! But, my new neighbors were dry!



Happy Friday! It's a weekend of holiday hoopla here in Judiland.....!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

$how me the money........

Do you hear the CA-SHINGing bells of Christmas?



Yes, money makes the world go around. Even when it comes to weight loss. Have you heard....you'll lose more weight faster if you're offered money as an incentive?(click there to read more!) My Lapanded friends and I could have saved them the trouble of doing that study! We could have easily proved that point very quickly. We were always looking for motivation and inspiration and will power. Money would have worked just fine. It doesn't take a team of academics and researchers to figure out that if you offer people money as an incentive, they will be more productive. It's the American way for heaven's sake!!! But, here's the glitch....will these people keep the weight off? I guess as long as they are being paid. Or, perhaps as long as they are being paid more. They will need a raise. Motivation does have it's limits and sometimes those limits are a dollar sign....

On Good Morning America this week, they did a promo that they would be talking about Oprah's weight loss battles. Unfortunately, I had to leave for work before the segment aired. But, it occurred to me--why doesn't Oprah just get a Lapband? I mean, I'm pretty sure this would solve her problems. And, let's face it--she probably would not have to jump through half the hoops the rest of us Lapbanders had to jump through. After all, she is Oprah. So, I wonder. Why hasn't she even considered any type of weight loss surgery? Is there something wrong with losing weight that way? I mean, as far as I am concerned, Oprah is a perfect candidate for it. Hey...if she did get a Lapband...I'll bet it would end up on her "Favorite Things" list next year. I think she should do it. And, I think I'm just the girl to help her along...
So, here's what I would say...
Honestly, Op, I feel your pain. I don't have your money or your celebrity status. But, I know what you are going through. And, I really feel for you, girl. Having to lose and gain your weight in front of the whole world! That can't be fun. I mean, I only had to do it in front of 100 or so folks....one of them being my father...oh geez! That was painful enough. You definitely have it much worse! Listen, if you're embarrassed that you would be taking the easy way out--let me assure you honey--you would not! And, hey...if you decide to get this Lapband....no one would even have to know. We could keep it between you and me. I got your back, girl. We chronic dieters gotta stick together. But, if for some reason you're not totally okay with doing the Lapband, I'm cool with that. Maybe you'd consider money as a motivation? I hear that works....


Money might make Oprah's world go around but a Lapband would rock it.
It did mine.




So...what was my Kindess Taste Test yesterday?
I dropped off a stash of Christmas decorations that I was not using at a stranger's home. They are strangers because I actually do not know this family. However, a friend of mine told me about their plight when she realized they lived very close to my house. Ever since I heard their story, I would say a little prayer for them when I drove by their home. Then, the other day I noticed the little boy sitting on the steps looking very forlorn watching the neighbors across the street putting up their Christmas lights. Each day afterwards, I looked to see if there were decorations at his own home. But, there wasn't. Of course--I have no idea if the boy was looking the way he did because of the Christmas decorations or not. And, although I'm pretty sure they do celebrate Christmas, I have no idea if they would even want to decorate their home considering their situation. But I wanted them to have the choice. Plus, I had this entire melodramatic made-for-TV movie about their life conjured up in my head. As far as I was concerned, this little boy wanted his house decorated and they had no decorations. And, let's face it--I'm all about bling-bling. Honestly---I have more than my share of it! And, as much as I hate to admit it, the sight of an unadorned home at Christmas feels sad to me. So, when I thought about what act of kindness I could do, I just knew in my heart that I wanted to do this. So, I put together a little note, pulled together the decorations, tied it up with ribbons and secretly placed it on their porch late last night. As I slipped away in the darkness, I found myself holding back tears. Silly me.....I can get so emotional about a wreath with a big red bow, a few strands of working lights, some greenery and a wooden gingerbread man....

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Taste testing....





..kindness.....

Yesterday, we took care of our buffet tables. Today, lets take care of our world. Yes, I know, it's a big jump...from buffet tables to the big big world. But, you know...someone has to do it. Might as well be us!

Kathy wrote a wonderful message on her blog about chasing away the blues by doing simple acts of kindness for the people around us. Her post was the salve on my big bad blue heart. I'm not sure why I didn't think of shaking my funk by reaching out to others. Perhaps I was just too immersed in the stress and chaos that goes along with the holidays. Or, maybe I was feeling completely overwhelmed to the point that I couldn't think much beyond my own little space. Or, it could be all the news reports and media hysteria over the economy and the job market. Or, maybe I'm taking stock of my own life just a little too much--being this close to 50 and all. Well....I am not going to do a dime store analysis here. Because I think it's all of that and maybe a wee bit more. And, even if I do know what's gnawing at me--what's the use of going over it all right here right now. I've got a much better idea.....

It's time to taste test! And, I need your help....

A KINDNESS TASTE TEST.....
It's time to put on our Santa hats or our angel wings or our elf shoes and go out and spread some kindness. Anonymusly. For the next 15 days--until Santa himself arrives--I am asking you to join me in doing one random act of kindness each day....for anyone. A friend. A stranger. A coworker. An enemy. A neighbor. It can be as simple as leaving a note of cheer on the chair you were sitting in or as extravagant as paying for a stranger's venti fat freechai latte with an energy shot at Starbuck's. It's all about making someone else's day! If for no other reason than....because you can! Yep, within each one of us, we have the power to slip a smile into someone's life. For no reason at all. Just because. Just imagine how you can delight another person and how you can improve their mood. YOU could possibly be the one thing standing between this person's next action and what happens next in the whole world, in their world or in someone else's world. YOU can make all the difference....
And....as you're out there spreading good cheer and kindness, take note of it! Because, even though your act will be anonymus out in the big, big world...it won't be anonymus here. We will need you to report your Kindess Taste Test! Each day, as I end my post, I'll let you know what my Kindness Taste Test was. And, you can do the same....just put it in the comment section. Once we start sharing our little tastings...we'll start giving each other all kinds of ideas! Before you know it....you and I will have touched the lives and hearts of thousands of people across the world....just by doing the Kindess Taste Test!!!
A calorie free goodie smack in the middle of the holiday season!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Tastey Tuesday Recipe Exchange--Week 2!!

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Here we are at Week 2....time for another round of appetizer recipes. So, come on, dig into those recipe boxes! Or, maybe you don't even have to do that! If you're like me, it seems like I make the same appetizers so many times that I don't even need a recipe...I can shop for the ingredients and make it completely from memory. So, feel free to share a recipe that you have stored in your mental recipe box. It doesn't need to be complex or chalk full of impressive techniques. If you've made it a million times....it's gotta be scrumptious.
That's what this recipe is....something I've made a million times. It's easy enough for anyone to throw together yet sophisticated enough to serve to cousin Buffy and her sugar daddy Harry....

Goat Cheese, Walnut, Honey & Rosemary Toasts

1 French-bread baguette (8 oz)
8 ounces soft fresh goat cheese
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts
1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

Preheat oven to 350°F. Cut 1/4-inch diagonal slices from baguette (approx 18). Spread goat cheese on each slice. Arrange in single layer on rimmed baking sheet. Bake until edges are slightly golden and cheese softens, about 10 minutes. Set aside on sheet. Heat honey in small saucepan over medium heat until warm, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle toasts with walnuts, then rosemary. Drizzle with honey and serve.


Just imagine...one of these little bites, a lovely glass of lush Chardonnay, Bing Crosby singing White Christmas and you in your amazing black velvet bustier and red stihlettos...
Oh how merry. Oh how tastey.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The weekend that was.......



I'm pretty sure I've asked this before....but, I need someone to remind me.....
how is it that by the time the weekend is over, I still have more weekend left to do?


Do you think weekends are just too damn short? Or, is it that weeks are just too damn long? Or....could it be something else altogether?


Not that I want to go all political here...but, I'm thinking....if Hilary would have won the election....I'll bet she would have instituted 3 day weekends. She's a working woman. She knows what it's like. I mean, even if she couldn't have made every weekend 3 days, I'll bet she would have lobbied for at least 3 day weekends in December. Well...there's always 2012. Right? I'm going to have to send her a nice long letter suggesting she use that as her platform next time around. I'm pretty sure that would guarantee a win....

Sunday, December 7, 2008

You better watch out......


Lesson learned....when your life revolves around a big man and his toys and his elves and lots of hot cocoa, you have to do something to keep the romance alive. As my dear Uncle Patsy would say---whatever it takes.

It's all about Christmas trees, mistletoe and tangled lights in Judiland.......

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Sliegh riding.....


Yep, we're heading to the Pennsylvania snow belt! On Dasher, on Dancer, on Prancer and Vixen, on Carmen and Toni and Judi. We're dashing away, dashing away all!

Sure, there's stockings to be hung by the chimney and Christmas garland to be strung across the mantel and trees to be decked. And, there's gifts to be bought and cookies to be baked and menus to be planned. But, there's a little change in plans here in Judiland today. Yep, we're living serendipitiously and on the edge. We're giving the Christmas prep the heav-ho and taking off our Santa hats for the day. It's time to take a college road trip again.......just for another look-see. Oh Little Town of Indiana.....we're heading your way!


Do you think the elves will stop by and deck my halls? If so...they better do it in proper Judistyle. Or I'll just have to kick their little elfin' asses.

Friday, December 5, 2008

One Year Ago Today.....

I was a scale whore....
These days I'm faithful to just one.....

Yes, a year ago today, I declared it as the day that I officially lost 50 pounds. That was one year ago?
I don't know if I should give myself a round of applause or throw tomatoes at myself. If I am doing the math right--it took me a little less than 4 months (August 10-December 5) to lose 50 pounds last year BUT it took me a year to lose 34 since. Alright, alright. Spare me the explanations and support and rationale. I get it. I'm just saying....

Here's the thing...you would think that as time went on, I'd just get better and better at this lapbanded life thing and this losing weight thing. Which would translate into more weight loss. Yes, I suppose it did. At least I feel that way---on most days except today! I mean--34 pounds is nothing to sneeze at. But, it's not 50. And, I guess if I look at the bright side--I could have just stopped at 50 and still be at 50. Or, if I really wanted to look at it differently--I could say that if I didn't make the decision to get my lapband....I could be 84 pounds heavier (which is entirely possible). I mean--no matter what--it's all good. Right? So, why is it that I'm not feeling the love today?


Chalk it all up to this funk that I am in. Because seriously folks...I am in a funk. I've been in funks before and all it took was a little time to wiggle my way out of it. So, I'm banking on that happening this funk-go-around. Hey....look at Britney (Spears, that is). One year ago, that girl was in a major funk....for all the world to see. And now she's got the whole world celebrating her birthday with her and she's got killer abs and her hair grew back to boot! Not only that--she's got moms like me rushing to get pricey tickets for her world tour. Despite the fact that she did all those things while she was in her grand funk. The world is supporting her, applauding her and giving her millions of dollars to help the cause. Yet....no one is doing the same for poor Amy Winehouse. I mean that girl never even shaved her head....although maybe she should have! I guess life is better for blondes....



Oh well...enough for the woe is me.
It's Friday. I am going to decorate for Christmas, do a little shopping, drink some wine....
Yep, that's what this -84 pound girl is going to do

Thursday, December 4, 2008

I need a little Christmas....right this very minute!




I don't know. I'm just not feeling the spirit. And, I don't know why. And, I'm getting a wee bit angry about it.

Do you think it has anything at all to do with the Victoria Secret Fashion Show? I mean....do bodies like that really exist? How can anyone stay that thin without a Lapband? I wonder.
or
Do you think it's a mid-life crisis? Hell...if this is my mid-life....I better get myself back in the spirit because I have a lot more living to do....if I'm going to be living to 100 and all.
or
Maybe it's just a case of the pre-holiday blues. If that's the case....I declare it totally unacceptable. Pre-holiday blues (or any kind of blues!) are just not a Judi thing. Anyway....I am against blue for Christmas. I mean...if someone wants to decorate with blue--that's their business. But, really....Christmas is all about red.
or
Maybe I'm just tired and stressed and over extended. You know what I mean. The shit work stuff that goes on day in and day out. Then there's Toni...who has been on the couch for a few days suffering with a lousy cold while I put up with the shit work stuff. So, I can't be there to play nurse mom and make her well. And, she's stressed over college decisions---she's been accepted to her top choice schools but can't decide! So, I guess we're going to schedule a few more trips back to those schools in the next few weeks. When? I have no clue. And, then there's Carmen....who is working non-stop on a highly stressful project that's zapping all of his time, energy, patience and goodwill. Then, of course--there's Vince who is smack dab in the middle of his first PhDland finals and papers and projects and presentations. And, who do you think he's sharing his frustrations and angst with? You guessed it...yours truly. And, I won't even mention the fact that I have lists and lists of tasks that need to get done (plus having to deal with Carmen and the kids). Add that all to the shopping and the decorating and the who knows what else. As if that weren't enough-- I have some mighty low-levels of motivation right now. Yes, I'm teetering on the edge here in Judiland.

Who knows what it is. I mean, it could be all of that or none of that. It could just be some mystery bug that infiltrated my system determined to make me unmerry. Whatever it is....I don't like it. Not at all.
HEY.....
Maybe I just need a night out on the town to fix me up. Some drinks, some girlfriends, a little laughter, some gossip, a pair of jeans, some high heels, lots of eye liner, some red lipstick, a whole lot of naughtiness....
or
Maybe I just need a long winter's nap to rejuvinate. You know...put on my favorite jammies, snuggle up with heaps of pillows, close my eyes real tight and let the sugar plum fairies put visions into my head.
or
Maybe I need to live in complete denial until after January 1. You know--slap a smile on my face, a pair of outrageously expensive shoes on my feet and strut my stuff...oblivious to the pesky emotions that are infiltrating my being.
or
Maybe I need to count all of my blessings, count how many pounds I lost and get on with things.
or
Maybe I should just give in to my current malaise, accept it for what it is, try not to determine what or why and live in my moment of misery. You know....cry it out. Even if I'm not sure what the hell I'm crying about.
or
Maybe I just need to watch White Christmas (yes,the one with Bing). That and a steaming mug of chai latte with a martini chaser might just fix me up real fast.

So many choices.....so little Christmas...!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Ignorance is bliss.......





...now, all I need is ignorance.....

The calendar is taunting me. It's pestering me and calling out orders and making big demands. It's whispering in my ear as I try to drift off to sleep. It's barking at me as I drive my car. It's mocking me as I sit down to read the paper. It's jabbing me in my stomach as I watch TV. It's wrecking the peacefullness of my chai latte moments. It's singing off-key Christmas carols and keeps spouting off how-many-shopping-days-left warnings. It's being loud and annoying and oh so merciless. How is it that after all these months of quietly hanging on my fridge, it somehow decides that now would be a good time to start all this misbehavior? Gee, I can't wait until it's worn out it's welcome so I can toss it in the trash...where it belongs. But, then....what will I have? It's replacement. January 2009. The month. The year. That I will be 50.
So, I might as well enjoy the shenanigans and unheaval of December. Because once it's over.....
Alright....we won't go there....
Yes.....give me ignorance.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Introducing........Tastey Tuesday Recipe Exchange!

Okay foodie friends and entertaining enthusiasts...

This year, my sisters and I are planning a full-scale appetizer buffet instead of our usual big sit-down Christmas day. So, what this means is that we're throwing the traditional pasta and ham out the window in favor of lots of grazing foods that we can munch on throughout the day while we chat, sip holiday drinks, open presents, laugh and make merry.

So....true to my foodie self--I've spent a good portion of the past few weeks pouring through recipes and entertaining ideas looking for some new appetizer-type delacasies to add to my holiday arsenal. Now, as we inch closer to Christmas and all the parties and eating events that go along with it, it's becoming more and more apparent to me that I don't have the time or the inclination to experiment with anything new for our big time appetizerama. After all, who wants to waste calories on experimenting? Not me. Do you? No. I didn't think so. What we are looking for and what we need are tried and true appetizer recipe ideas that have been tasted and tested and that are guaranteed to command standing ovations! Without all the pre-party taste testing. And, even if it weren't for the calories...I only have so much room in this lapbanded stomach of mine. So, believe me....if I am going to eat something, I need to love it! Let's face it....if I'm only going to have a little bite--it has to pack a powerful punch! Plus, I need to show up my sisters. What's a holiday without a little sibling rivalry....?


So, here's the thing....even though I'm a Lapbanded girl, my holiday food wishes are probably the same as everyone else's. I want something to dazzle and sparkle the taste buds yet not eat away at what little time I have to devote to all the extra cooking that needs to be done. Plus, I don't want to go hunting down exotic ingredients or spend lots of extra holiday cash to entertain in tasteful style while filling up my hungry merry makers. What I want is simple really--yummy, show-stopper, easy-to-make food that will not break the bank or my patience. Foods that are sure to wow! And, just one more thing--I don't want to serve my usual appetizer fare. It has to be special....

What's a girl to do?

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Now that I'm done with the screaming.....


Let me formally introduce to you.....
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Here's how it goes....
Every Tuesday until Christmas, I'll share a tried and true appetizer recipe....right here on my blog....
And, you'll do the same! Post your razzle-dazzle-concoctions in the comment section.....


Then, by Christmas day...every one of us will have a bountiful and beautiful selection of appetizers! You can put them out for family and friends who drop by to make merry or you can bring them over to Aunt Edna's and show off your culinary skills to your cousins Gerty and Birtha. Or..you can leave them by the fireside for Santa to munch on when he slides down your chimney with all those gifts! No matter what you do....you can be assured that you'll have the best tasting food this side of the North Pole. And, I'll be feeling lots of comfort and joy knowing that I am serving up a tastey, award-worthy Stories From The Road Buffet....!

Winter Bruchetta
(so pretty with all the colors of Christmas)
1 (32-ounce) can whole Marzano (or other good quality) tomatoes, DRAINED WELL!!
1 cup fresh basil leaves, washed and spun dry
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 cloves garlic, peeled
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large baquettes, sliced 1-inch thick (about 36 slices)
1 1/2 pounds fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced 1/4-inch thick
In the bowl of a food processor, add drained tomatoes, 1 cup basil leaves, olive oil and 2 cloves garlic. Pulse until smooth, but somewhat chunky. Season with salt and pepper.

On a baking sheet, line up baguette slices. Toast in oven for about 3 minutes or until light golden brown (375 degree oven....watch them closely!) Working quickly, rub the remaining garlic on the toasted side of each slice and then lay a piece of mozzarella cheese on top. Place bread back in oven and melt cheese slightly, about 45 seconds. Remove from oven and spread one tablespoon of the tomato mixture on each piece.

Place bruschetta on decorative platter and garnish with basil leaves.
Soooo good!!!




So, please....be a good elf and dig out those party food recipes for Tastey Tuesday Recipe Exchange! Only 3 more Tastey Tuesday left!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Bring It ON........

Enough with the turkey and stuffing talk. It's time to get down to the business of December.








The shopping. The merrymaking. The cooking. The parties. The wrapping. The over-the-river-and-through-the-woodsing. The misteltoing. The decorating. The caroling. The naughty or nicing.
And, let's not forget all those special holiday treats along the way.
So, let's ring in the last month of the year with a healthy drink that also puts a little jingle in your bells.....

POMEGRANTE MARTINI


1 1/2 cups of pomegranate juice
2 oz. absolute citron vodka OR white tequila
1 oz. cointreau liquor
cup of ice
Shake. Shake. Shake.

Hand me my martini glass. I'm ready.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Did I REALLY eat all that Turkey?

No, I did not. And, I didn't eat all that stuffing. And, I didn't eat all that pumpkin pie. In fact, I didn't eat all that much.

You know what...despite the fact that my Lapband did not allow me to eat large quantities of Thanksgiving fare, I actually had a wonderful holiday. Or, should I say....a very wonderful holiday weekend. It was all very exhausting (aren't they all?) but good nonetheless. We ushered the festivities out last night with another rollicking food fest. Yum. Yum. Hopefully, I'll recover soon. But, I don't see that happening today! Today is about trying to restore some order to the house, getting Vince packed up and out the door and then probably feeling a little blue as he pulls out the of the driveway. After I watch his car make the bend, I'm not sure if much else will get done besides feeling blue. But, just in case I need something to get my mind off of Vince's long drive through the mountains and the fact that I will be missing him so, there's still piles of dirty dishes and wine goblets in the sink and soiled linens piled high on the table. And, there's tons of leftovers in the fridge to be dealt with. I could definitely keep myself very busy for many hours....
As evidenced by the fact that I am blogging and not attacking those tasks....it's not exactly how I wish to spend my time right now.

At the moment, I just want to take this quiet time to reflect on the weekend that was. The kids are both tucked in their warm beds and Carmen headed out to work a little bit ago. So, for now---it's just me, my tea and my thoughts. Well...and those pesky dishes in the sink....

So, here's what I am thinking....
As much as Thanksgiving is about the food, Thanksgiving is not about the food. Well, it is about the food. But, it's about cooking the food from old family recipes written in pencil on tattered scraps of paper and doing the dishes while chatting away and making big kitchen messes that last longer than the leftovers. And, it's about creating memories and traditions and drinking wine and playing games and telling stories and giving thanks together--around the dinner table. It's about sitting next to your children year after year and then suddenly realizing that you are now sitting next to young adults---not children at all.

And here I always thought Thanksgiving was just about the food. After all these years, I'm finally catching on. And, all it took was a little extra tweak of my Lapband. How was I to know that a Lapband would open my eyes to a whole new meaning to Thanksgiving? I mean...let's face, I was just looking for a way to solve my obesity problem.... I guess I got more than I bargained for....

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Turkey time.....again....

.Yes, it's a turkey marathon here in my little suburban hamlet. I mean....do we really love turkey THAT much?


Today it's fried cajun turkey and roasted turkey breasts......

My thankfulness continues....!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Unleash your inner shopping vixen.....


...it's Black Friday......the official start to the holiday shopping season....BE SEXY....


Prove you are not just another sexy shopper!
Don't let the sales and deals of the day consume you!
When you're standing in those LONG LINES waiting to buy those must-haves...recite one or two of these Black Friday trivia nuggets.....

Did you know? The earliest known reference to "Black Friday" is November 29,1975. The term was mentioned in two separate articles, both with Philadelphia timelines. Therefore, the term Black Friday is believed to have originated in Philadelphia.

Did you know? "Black Friday" was originally named with deference to other stressful and chaotic days such as Black Tuesday (the day of the 1929 stock market crash).


Did you know? The generally accepted meaning of "Black Friday" changed November 26, 1982. On that day, ABC News reported that Black Friday is the day that retailers' ledgers go from red ink to black ink, signaling profit.

Did you know? Black Friday is not the busiest shopping day of the year. #1 is usually the Saturday prior to Christmas.

Happy Shopping to you....you sexy thing!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

It's THAT Thursday in November........


May your stuffing be tasty
May your turkey plump,
May your potatoes and gravy
Have nary a lump.
May your yams be delicious
And your pies take the prize,
And may your Thanksgiving dinner
Stay off your thighs!



May your day be filled with love, friendship and yes.....food.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Let's take a little break.......


...no, no, not a break from all the cooking and primping....but from the things that wear on you in your daily life.....

I'm blogging for me today....in hopes that I'll hear myself and listen to what I am saying. Because, damn....I need to be reminded...right here, right now!

Sometimes life feels so overwhelming. Like it does right now. With all the cooking and shopping and cleaning and merrymaking on the heels of more cooking and shopping and cleaning and merrymaking. Add that all to days that already feel too full and not exactly stress-free and what you've got is life on a rollercoaster-merrygoround. Dizzying. Tizzying. Nauseating. And altogether unnerving. Days that call for chunks of nut-filled chocolates,delectable king-sized icing-laden cookies, heaping bowls of full-fat vanilla bean ice cream smothered in hot hot carmel and vats of cheesey spicey nacho dip. With a box of wine on the side.

But not today.

No, no, not today. Did you hear me? Not today.

You see, that's what got me into this mess to begin with. The stress. The never ending rushing. The lengthy to-do lists. The world that we all live in--overscheduled, overmanaged and overpriced. What it got me was--OVERWEIGHT! Well...more like OBESE. But, that's old news.....

I have to learn from my mistakes. It's not easy but I'm trying. With my band restriction--all those goodies (except for the box of wine) are off limits. And, honestly, even if they weren't....I don't want to grow out of a pair of jeans I haven't even bought yet. As for the box of wine.....I plan to ignore it as it calls my name from the fridge. Instead, I'm going to chop. Then, I'm going to shop. After that, I'm going to cook. Then, maybe chop some more. Then, I'm going to shop some more. Then cook some more.

But, that's not all....

I am going to live in the moment....of chopping. There's something that's so relaxing about the simple act of chopping a huge bunch of celery and a few onions. I will wipe all other thoughts out of my mind. As I chop.

I am going to live in the moment....of shopping. I'll concentrate on every enjoyable pleasure at Sam's Club and Giant Eagle. I'll stop to appreciate the displays and the smells and the sounds. I'll push my cart and smile. I'll leisurely stroll up and down the aisles. As if I have no where else to go.

I am going to live in the moment....of cooking. I will laugh at the messes I make. I will listen to music as I stir and melt and pat and saute. I'll take joy in the aromas and the sights and the sounds of cooking. And, I'll take pleasure in thinking of serving my culinary delights.

And when I'm done with all of that.....

I am going to live in the moment of every single detail of what's left of my day. My mind will not wander and I will not allow the future or the past to interrupt my chopping, shopping or cooking.
And finally, I'm going to live in the hope that if I say it....I will do it.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?

...Judi....in jeans....

I'm wearing jeans this Thanksgiving. Sassy jeans. No elastic waist anything. No flowy skirt. No one-size bigger pair of black stretch pants. No sweats. And no half-zipped jeans either. Believe me friends when I tell you....this is historic. Momumental. One for the books. So, when you hear those church bells on Thursday morning--you'll know why. They toll for me. When you see the parade on your TV screens--you'll know it's in celebration of this momentous occasion. They march for me. When everyone in the stands does the wave at those football games....you guessed it...they are standing up and sitting down in honor of me. And should you hear fireworks as you sit down to dinner....yep....you can thank me for that little display. And, if you snag a great bargain on Friday at one of those predawn sales....yep, once again....ME. As I've told you before....it's all about the jeans. Oh, and the shoes. Yes, and the turkey. And, of course, the stuffing. And, the pumpkin pie. And the pilgrims. But....mostly....it's about giving thanks. And me wearing jeans....on Thanksgiving.

Yes, I am thankful. For more things than I can list here. That's for sure. But sometimes I just need to pause and take in the little things. As much as I joke about the jeans thing--it really is big. Not so much that I can wear the jeans (even though that's great!!). But, the bigger piece of it is the fact that I am even considering wearing them on a national holiday devoted to overeating. So, as much as I am truly thankful that I'm physically able to wear the jeans--I am enormusly thankful for the change that happened in my brain that allows me to do so. The idea that I am no longer trying to figure out how to dress-to-eat is a completely different mindset than the Judi of the Thanksgiving of yesteryears. And, it happened without spending hours and dollars being deprogrammed at some new age brainwashing clinic. It slowly happened over these past 470 days. As the pounds came off, my thinking started to change. And...wa-la....all of a sudden, my fat- girl thinking gave way to normal-weight-girl thinking. My brain said--you can wear jeans on Thanksgiving. And, there was no inner voice stopping me from giving life to that thought.

At the moment, my band is still being a little bit pesky. It's still not into accepting much more than thin mush. But, I'm doing what the doc told me to do and not pushing the issue. Will I be able to eat turkey and stuffing on Thanksgiving? I don't know. No matter what---my band will not stop me from enjoying the day, being thankful for the ability to enjoy the day and it will definitely not stop me from being ever so grateful to have my children and my loved ones beside me. Even though my dinner mates will come to the table because of the food....the food will have absolutely nothing at all to do with the gratitude I will feel at having them surrounding me. Am I a little worried about not being able to eat on Thanksgiving? To be honest--no. I'm more worried that others will be concerned. Because--for me--I figure I've had many Thanksgiving meals over these almost-50 years and I expect to have many more in the years to come. There will always be turkey and stuffing and pumpkin pie. But, there won't always be that moment.....I can't let worry or a feeling of being deprived rob me of it. The only other sort-of-worry I have is to make sure I don't get too tipsy drinking the luscious Beaujolais Nouveau I selected for dinner (especially if I can't eat!). My band will have no problem with that.....

As for the jeans I'll be wearing.....
Have no fear, friends....they will not be the jeans from this picture. I heard everyone loud and clear....they are not the jeans for me. No, I have my eye on a sassy pair at Coldwater Creek. I have 2 gift cards I'll use to splurge on them. And, a coupon.

Talk about a dream.....try to make it real...........
great words from a great philosopher named Bruce....a guy who knows a thing or two about jeans.....and dreams