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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Pittsburgh vs. Phoenix.......


It's more than just football....isn't it?




Which City:
...has sunnier days?
PHOENIX

No surprise here. Phoenix averages a high temperature above 80 degrees for 7 months each year (the average is more than 100 for three months)

. ...has cleaner air?
PHOENIX

The Steel City's catching up, though: A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine indicates that efforts to clean up Pittsburgh air have helped citizens increase their life expectancy by 3.5 years since 1980

.. ...has better sex?
PHOENIX

To be fair, it's too cold to take your clothes off in Pittsburgh from December through March.


. ...has fatter paychecks?
PHOENIX

According to data from 2008, the average Phoenician home grosses $59,809. Pittsburgh homes average just shy of $43,000

. ...is a debt trap?
PHOENIX

Phoenix ranked 78th worst out of the top 100 cities in foreclosures, despite spending less per person on housing

. ...won't throw away your resume?
PITTSBURGH
The unemployment rate in Pittsburgh is 5.4 percent, which is below the national average. And the number actually fell in the fourth quarter of 2008, when the financial crisis struck hardest

. ...is smarter?
PITTSBURGH
It's home to one of the world's top notch universities where there's lots of smart people.....!

. ...should call a cab more often?
PITTSBURGH
Less people drive drunk in Pittsburgh (the city ranked 32nd in DUI arrests; Phoenix ranked 70th), but more die in crashes related to alcohol.

...has worse traffic?
PHOENIX
Pittsburghers drive less miles per year than any city but Miami. Which figures: Cardinals fans have to go all the way to Glendale to catch a game

. ...will place more prop bets on Sunday?
PITTSBURGH
Pennsylvania added casino gambling in the same zip code as Heinz Field.

...is fitter?
PHOENIX
Pittsburgh ranked 99th out of 100 cities

....has the best abs?
PITTSBURGH
Pittsburgh ranked 22nd in the nation in ab-ulousness.

....has the best football team?
PITTSBURGH!!!!!!!


Friday, January 30, 2009

It's gettin' hot......

no, no, it's not a hot flash!
Stop blaming my hormones for everything or I'll kick your ass with my pointy toed shoes!


It's Steelermania!
It's heating up our tundra of a city. Every Harry and Jane walking down the street is wearing black & gold. It's a sea of Terrible Towels from Fifth to Forbes and up and down the Parkways. The airwaves are shouting out Steeler songs and every man, woman and child you meet belts out 3 words--"HERE WE GO!". There's cow bells and kazoos and painted faces and blinking light hats all over the town. It's all Steelers, all the time...in every snowy nook and every fridgid cranny and every busy office and every noisy kindergarten and every packed grocery store and every place in between. It's a city on fire in a bleak, cold and snowy January. The sun is shining down on the bridges, the breezes are blowing on the shores of the rivers, theres cold brews on ice and the grills are getting ready to fire up. Yes, we're all in a place called Pittsburgh.....


So, what's on the menu for a true Pittsburgh Steeler weekend?
Well, to be quite honest, there's nothing low fat, low cal or band friendly about some of the stuff.....
Here, take a look.....

IRON CITY BEER MARINATED GRILLED STEAK
Ingredients:
12 oz. IRON CITY beer
1/2 C soy sauce
1/4 C HEINZ CIDER VINEGAR
1/4 C HEINZ KETCHUP
2 T HEINZ SPICY BROWN MUSTARD
2 T minced garlic
1 T HEINZ WORCESTERSHIRE SAUCE
1 T red hot sauce
1/4 C extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 - 2 1/2 lb. boneless New York strip, rib-eye or sirloin steak (1 1/2 inches thick)
Directions:
Place steak in a large resealable plastic bag. In a small bowl, stir together all marinade ingredients; pour over steak. Seal bag. Refrigerate overnight, turning bag occasionally.

Preheat grill to medium high heat. Remove steak from marinade and discard marinade. Place steak on grill and grill for about ten (10) minutes for medium rare or until desired doneness, turning once.

PITTSBURGH SANQWICH (makes 1)

* 2 thick slices of Mancini Italian bread
* 1 piece cooked Kolbassi Sausage
* Provolone Cheese
* Kennywood French Fries -deep fried (buy them at Giant Eagle)
* Sweet & Sour Slaw (recipe below)
* Fresh Tomato thinly sliced

Put kolbassi in a frying pan to get it hot. After flipping, cover with a thick slice of provolone and continue cooking until the cheese melts. Place a large spoonful of coleslaw on the bottom layer of bread and put the meat and cheese on top of that. Layer a few thin slices of tomato on the cheese then top with French fries and the last piece of bread.

Sweet & Sour Coleslaw

* 1 Med head Cabbage - shredded
* 1 Med Onion - finely chopped
* 1 Cup Sugar + 1 teaspoon
* 1 Cup Vinegar
* 1 Teaspoon Salt
* 1 Teaspoon Celery Seed
* 1 Teaspoon Dijon Mustard
* 3/4 Cup Vegetable Oil

Toss together cabbage, onion, and 1 cup sugar. In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, salt, celery seed, 1 teaspoon white sugar, mustard and oil. Bring to a boil, and cook for 3 minutes. Cool completely, then pour over cabbage mixture, and toss to coat. Refrigerate overnight for best flavor.

BUT....just in case you want to stay true to your New Year's Resolutions......

TOUCHDOWN TURKEY WRAPS
For one wrap....

2 tablespoons cream cheese, low-fat whipped
2 teaspoons chopped sun-dried tomatoes or 1 1/2 sundried tomatoes, rehydrated and chopped
3 basil leaves, chopped
1 large whole wheat flour tortilla
3 ounces sliced smoked turkey breast
1 lettuce leaf, green leaf, bibb or romaine, shredded


In a small mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese, sundried tomatoes and basil.
Lay the tortilla out and spread 1 tablespoon of the cream cheese mixture in the center. Place the turkey on the tortilla and spread the remaining cream cheese mixture on top of the turkey. Sprinkle the shredded lettuce on the tortilla and tightly roll each tortilla into a cylinder, ending with the seam side down.
(The wrap can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.)
Cut the wrap in half on the diagonal and serve.

END ZONE DIP
1 can Chicken (5 oz) (or pre-cooked skinless chicken, chopped )
4 oz. Fat Free cream cheese
8 oz. Low fat cream cheese
1/2 cup Wishbone Just2Good Blue Cheese Dressing or Ranch Dressing
1/2 cup Low Fat Cheddar - shredded
4 oz. Franks RedHot (original pepper sauce *NOT* the Buffalo Wing sauce)

Directions
Heat oven to 350°F.
Mix together Cream cheeses. Stir in salad dressing, Franks RedHot Sauce and shredded cheese until well mixed. Stir in chicken.
Bake 20 minutes or until mixture is heated through. (I like to skim off any grease that has come to the top of the dish before stirring and serving.)
Serve with dry toasted pita or bagel chips, low fat crackers or vegetables.
This can also be prepared as above and microwaved 5-10 minutes instead of baking, if desired ... but I really like it baked.

But, if none of those Super Bowl foods appeal to you.....there's always.....

a Steelertini!
Sugar, dyed yellow or gold with food coloring
3 ounces of white cranberry juice, dyed with yellow food coloring
1 ounce of Blavod Black Vodka
1 black and 1 yellow licorice stick
Rim martini glass with gold/yellow sugar
Pour the yellow-colored white cranberry juice into the martini glass.
Pour the vodka into martini glass (over inverted spoon).
Cut approximately 4 inches off licorice sticks and place them into the martini glass.

HAPPY SUPER BOWL PARTY PLANNING!
GO STEELERS!
GO BRUCE!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

It just keeps getting better and better......



does anyone have another joint?.....

Yes, I know, I'm just being a little ornery here. And, for that I apologize. Honestly, I don't really want to smoke a joint. Some gin might be nice though. Remember....I'm 50.

Here's the deal--the weather has been nasty, the traffic has been shitty and my once wonderful days at the office are not as wonderful. My days are long, my nights are short, I have a pain in my back and I have eaten more chocolate in the past 24 hours than I've eaten in the past year (when I was 49). Plus, I had a pretty wild hot flash yesterday. Immediately afterwards, I remembered---I'm 50. After that...more chocolate.

Of course, there is some good news. Vince is driving home tonight to spend Super Bowl weekend in Pittsburgh. Which means that his room needs cleaned out within the next 10 hours...even though I have to go to work in a few hours and probably not return until God knows what time. (Yes, I've been storing some Christmas decor in his room....sorry...it just never made it to the Christmas storage room) And, of course, there's the whole "he's driving over the mountains in January" stress that I'll have to deal with later today. Not just my own stress--Carmen's too. He'll drive me insane with his pacing and anxiety and fidgiting. And, let's not forget the three square meals a day I'll be making each day in addition to the Super Bowl extravanga buffet itself. And, surely, there will be extra messes that will come with all that cooking and eating. And, here I am....I'm 50.

Not that I won't be thrilled to see my magic eyed boy again. Because I will. I haven't seen him since I was 49. Yet, amid all that happiness I'll be feeling, there will be picking his socks up off the floor, refereeing the ongoing inane battle between him and his sister and figuring out the schedules and agendas that go along with the weekends of my regular life. Nope, it's not easy having it all....especially when you're trying to fit in being 50 too.

And, oh yeah...there's that little game on Sunday! God forbid I forget that! As if my life could get any more complicated in the next 72 hours. All I gotta say is this--those Steelers better win because I'm telling you--I am not going to put up with miserable people. In fact, I demand that they win. For me.
Because I'm 50.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Getting the hang of it.....

...this 50 thing....

just like riding a bike....

But, the truth of the matter is....you have to be wearing the right shoes. You can't ride a bike in stihlettos! Well, I guess you could. But, I wouldn't suggest it...

Just like most things in life, you really do have to be prepared. Shoes are only part of the equasion.

Being prepared is what I think got me this far....all the way to my 5th day of being 50. You see, I don't think I could have done it 90 pounds ago. When I decided to have Lapband surgery--I really wasn't thinking about today. Honestly. Trust me, I am not that planful of a person. I did not get my Lapband so that I could turn 50 being 90 pounds lighter. I did it for many reasons....but today wasn't one of them. It just worked out that way. Being 50 and well under 200 pounds is definitely a gift....an unexpected, wonderful one at that.

My sister Denise found it pretty funny when I told her what I really wanted to do for my birthday, the plans I had. But, I think my list sums me up just perfectly. Or, to be more exact--it sums the real ME up perfectly. The ME I dare to be.
Here they are.....
*get my teeth whitened
*smoke a joint
*go to a bread baking class at Enrico Biscotti
I did one of them and the other two are in the works.
What would I have wanted 90 pounds ago? I'm pretty sure I know....
*smoke a joint
*lose 100 pounds
I would have never thought about my teeth and I would have never even considered a bread baking class---too many calories and too many people who would look at me thinking "that fat girl doesn't need to learn how to bake bread". But, I'll be honest, I always wanted to smoke a joint....on my 50th birthday.

I keep trying to think what this time in my life would have been like if I didn't get my Lapband and lose this weight. It's not a pretty picture I'm conjuring up in my head. Oh, I'm sure I would have embarked on a diet sometime before I turned 50. But, just like most of the diets I put myself on for so many years--I would have spent a lot of cash and maybe lost a few pounds. And, I probably would have put myself on an exercise regimen. But, just like the rest of my good exercise intentions--I would have ended up with some really cute 3X work out wear and an expensive gym membership.

Yes, arriving at 50 as unhappy as I was about my weight would not have been a good thing. Not at all. Would I ever have got the hang of 50....90 pounds ago?
It would have been like riding a bike in stihlettos. With teeth that needed whitening and a craving for bread and the munchies....

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

It's Tuesday and I'm still 50.......


They've been coming in the mail for about a week now. Those 50th birthday cards. I think they may have stopped. When I opened the first one--from my dear, dear Aunt Tee--I was a bit confused. There was a big 50 on the front. What the hell? By the time I got to the one from Angela that played music and contained a hastily wrapped joint, I was getting used to them. And, by the time I opened the one that said "You're Like a Bottle of Fine Wine", I finally figured out those cards with the 50 on them were for me. That number takes a bit of getting used to. There's no sugar coating it. It's a big number. Hell, when I lost 50 pounds...I danced right here on my blog. I knew it was big. I knew 50 meant something.

50. Fifty. 50? Is that 18 with 32 years experience? Or...is it halfway to a century? Or...maybe its 5 perfect 10's? Whatever it is....I've got it. It's not like a rash or a flu--it won't go away no matter how much lotion I rub on it or how many pills I pop or tonics I drink. I'm 4 days into it and it's working out just fine. It's time to get on with it.

You're probably thinking I said this all yesterday. I said I was going to embrace my new age and savor this moment in time. Why am I repeating myself today? Because I'm 50. That's why. I may be saying it a bit differently...with new words and all. But, you know me....I've got a lot of words in me. And, if you really want to get picky--yesterday I just said I was going to try being 50. In fact, if you want to get more exact--I said that I was going to spend yesterday getting used to being 50 and I was going to work hard at being a good 50. I Scarlette-O'Hara-ed myself and put the big stuff on today's agenda. And, I did an okay job of it...being 50 yesterday. I didn't jump off my roof when the toilet overflowed all over the bathroom floor and then had the audacity to leak down into the dining room and puddle into the kitchen.....on the same day as the cleaning crew did their fine work on all of my hardwood floors, my bathrooms and my kitchen. And, I did not suck down a bottle of wine over the fact that Carmen is still struggling and moaning and coughing and wheezing with the same damn sickness he came down with on January 2. And, I didn't bomb the township over the fact that our road seems to be the only one in a 10 mile radius that is snow covered, icey and slick. And, I did not set my hair on fire when I figured out that a shit load of data that I needed for a report had been lost...FOREVER...in the chaos of one software vendor putting another one out of business. So, yeah....I did okay. For my first Monday of 50.

But, now it's Tuesday. And, I'm still 50. And, that's a good thing. For a Tuesday.

Monday, January 26, 2009

It's Monday and I'm 50.......

and I promise I'm going to do it better.....
I'll act my age and buy my shoe size.....or something like that...


...but...I refuse....I repeat....I refuse to wear a red hat. Red shoes--yes. That red hat--ain't gonna happen.

The party is over but the celebration is just beginning. That is how I hope to wake up each morning---with the belief that it will be a day worth celebrating. Not in some goofy corny way. In a grateful and graceful way. With eyeliner and lipstick and energy and heart. It's time that my wisdom kicks in and my silliness becomes a permanent fixture. It's time that I see my laugh lines for what they really are--the scars of a happy life, good friends and crazy moments. And, it's time that I stop trying to figure out what I want to do and who I want to be and accept the fact that I have no idea and I never will. It' time for me to embrace my ficklehood and my complexity and my bunion. It's time to be much more patient, try to be on time more often and to make every effort to greet every man, woman and child with a smile no matter how pissed off, disgusted and miserable I may be. And, it's time that I try not to get pissed off, try not to be disgusted and work really hard on not being miserable. It's the things to do when your days are numbered....at 50.

And, there's so much more. For instance--when I have choices, I want to make the right ones. But, if I don't, I want to have chances to choose again. And, I really want to say the right things. The smart things. The perfect things. I don't want to just make noise. I want what I say to matter--to someone. To everyone. I think it would all be so nice...for a girl of 50.

And...while I'm at it, I might as well go all the way. Here goes. I want to keep my bedroom cleaner. And, my bathroom. And, my kitchen. And, my basement. And, the rest of my house. I want to do laundry more. And I'd like to like it. I want to learn how to iron and sew. And, I want to bake bread. Like other grown up girls of 50.

But, for today....I just want to be a good 50. The kind of 50 that will make 50 proud. Tomorrow, I will work on all that other stuff. For today...I'm working on 50. Oh, and losing 5 pounds. It's Monday...what the hell?
But, I am not wearing that red hat.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Here's how I got over the age thing....

I realized this:
A thinner 50 is a hell of a lot better than a fatter 40something....

All of sudden it hit me--I would not trade away the years for the pounds. Give me 50, take the weight. I don't know if it was the gin, the contraband, the black skirt, my spirited girlfriends, my new lip stick, liner and gloss, dancing at some trendy downtown bar (with my purse on my arm no less), my disregard for the old friend who wasn't too nice to me when I ran into her at our neighborhood bar or when I somehow fell off my bar stool--but, it came to me--this being 50 ain't so bad. Through the mental haze and brain fog, there was a bright light, a swirl of stars and a rocking beat--as if I was sitting in the first row of an Elton John concert--I am 50...girl, you are 50..

This all occurred to me yesterday morning after I picked up my phone at Tom's Diner--where my fun friends and I ate breakfast till 4 am, watched a fight, met two sleazy lawyers and God knows what else. After rescuing it from behind the counter, I was going through the activity and came upon a mystery text message. Who text messaged me at 1:29 am Saturday morning ("Drunk enough yet?...")? Who called me at 1:43 am? Who was this man who left me a cryptic voicemail at 2:02? What did I really do last night? Instead of that horrible feeling of "OH NO!"....I smiled and realized it was okay. It was a new attitude. 24 hours after turning 50, I had become 50. Was this the feeling of freedom my older friend Debbie told me about? Or, is it because I'm thinner? Do I realize that no matter what I did--I did it thinner? I wasn't some crazy drunk fat lady being desperate. I was a mature, confident woman letting off some steam and having fun with her girlfriends. Yes, that was why I could laugh instead of cry...

My Lapband...it may cause me to vomit every once in awhile (but I'm even getting better at that!) and it may have robbed me of Diet coke and pasta. But, I wouldn't trade any of it....it's all a part of me. Just like 50....

Oh by the way....I don't want to leave you hanging...the text messenger and the phone caller was our cab driver--a guy who just happened to graduate high school with my sister(yes, I'm finally convinced I always know someone...)

The celebration continues....

Saturday, January 24, 2009

There's got to be a morning after.......



Thank God for girlfriends, gin, lip gloss and joints.
My 50th birthday wish come true.
Oh what a day, oh what a night.....
The celebration continues.....after I get a chai latte with a double energy shot, a few Advil and pick up my cell phone at Tom's diner....!

50 ain't so bad afterall....except for the headache, the bum knee and did I mention....the headache?

Friday, January 23, 2009

TGI50.......

Let the rest of my life begin.....


My dearest readers.....
Today, I shall tell no stories. It is my day to go out and make them. I'll need something to tell you tomorrow.....

Love,
Judi....who is 50 today

Thursday, January 22, 2009

If you have productive sex in April......

be prepared to deal with January....



My parents got married "late in life"--at least for the times. My mom was 38, my father was 37.

My father had been married once before--to his high school sweetheart, Margaret. He married her after coming home from the war. She died on their first anniversary soon after an inmate at the mental hospital where she worked as a nurse attacked her. She died in his brother's (Uncle Patsy's) arms while waiting for my father to get there. According to my uncle--Margaret never liked him. She thought he was a little too wild and a bad influence on his much more sedate and responsible brother. Which, I'm sure she was right--at least for the times. My uncle always found it quite prolific that he was the man who held her as she took her last breath. Funny how the years can turn such a sad story into one that, much later, gave my uncle and my father a bit of a chuckle. Not that they laughed. In their own way, knowing all of the history between them all, they probably found it ironic that it happened the way it did.

My mother was never married. She had a "career"--packing coffee at a local plant. "She made good money," is what they said. She lived the life of a single girl for her times--going to Atlantic City with her girlfriends, enjoying the night life and living with her old fashioned Italian parents and her deaf mute sister in the Italian section of the Hill District of Pittsburgh. She spent her time doting on her beloved nieces and nephews and buying the fancy clothes and jewelry that her family of 11 could never afford growing up. She never figured on meeting the right guy and she never saw herself as ever being a mother. She was content with her life, happy with dating the good Italian guys her brothers brought home every once in awhile, being an aunt to an ever-growing brood of kids and being a bridesmaid to every sister and friend.

My parents found their way to each other through a mutual friend--an Italian guy who owned a fruit warehouse across the street from my father's paper business in the Strip District of Pittsburgh. The story goes that everyone in the Strip District had a bit of a soft spot for Frank--my father--the young, handsome widower with the merry blue eyes and the cherubic face of a leprecahn. Everyone had the perfect girl for Frank. Frank wasn't so sure. Until he was invited to join a Knights of Columbus bowling league by another guy named Frank--the owner of the fruit business. Frank, the fruit guy, had an ulterior motive--he wanted to introduce Frank--the paper guy-- to Din (my mom's nick name)--the unmarried Italian girl he knew since childhood who bowled in their league. Frank was smitten. My mom--not so much. After all, he was an Irish guy. And, you know what they say about those Irish men.

It didn't take long for Din to change her mind. And, that's where their story begins. They dated---he getting used to her old country parents who spoke broken English, her rascally brothers, her lively sisters and her crew of adoring nieces and nephews. She--learning to love his outspoken, pipe-smoking mother with her cockney lilt, his quiet card-playing father and his charming, albeit a little misbehaved, playboy brother (and his steady stream of women).

They planned to get married in the summer of 1957. But, my mother--a dieter from way back--embarked on a new diet plan which combined pills and a strict low calorie food plan. If she couldn't be a young bride--she figured she could certainly be a svelte one--in her lovely ballerina length frothy dress. That didn't go too well. She ended up in bed--too weak to plan a proper wedding let alone get married. But, she recovered fine and they married on a very cold day in January, 1958, settling into a little one bedroom apartment on Broadway Avenue in Dormont. That's where my story begins....

God knows why my mother's most fertile moment was a day in April or why my dad's sperm just happened to do it's work at the same time. But, that's what happened. To be quite honest--who wants to think of their parents even doing the deed? So, I won't. Let's just say that after a few months of praying to St. Jude, Patron Saint of the Hopeless, my mother found herself pregnant. Having conceived in April meant that the woman teetering on 40 and the guy who rescued her from a life of old maidhood were set to be parents in January of 1959. She quit her job--as was the rule in those days and set about being a homemaker--as the times demanded. My father became the breadwinner. He was the man who went to work---as the times also demanded. To them, it was an absolute miracle that they were going to have a child. After all, they were "older".

January 22, 1959 brought with it a morning snow storm and afternoon labor pains. Frank was at work--having taken a trolley to get there. That's when Din commandered a neighbor of her sister's--Charlotte, one of the only women drivers in the area--to get her to the hospital. After a treacherous 3 mile trip, they arrived at St. Clair Hospital with the notion that things would not take too long. So, they urged Frank to try to get out of work early and get to the hospital as quickly as possible. Several hours later, after braving the snowy roads on the rickety trolley, he arrived---only to find himself sitting in the father's waiting area for hours--watching doctors and expectant and new fathers come and go. Finally, Dr. Weber emerged--wearing his colorful tartan plaid jacket--with news. "Go home, Frank. Go to work tomorrow and come back after that. She's not having that baby until then." By that point, the snow had accumulated significantly, the trolleys had quit running and he didn't have his car. So, he decided to make do in the waiting room until morning.

On January 23, in the very early morning hours, Frank left for work on a trolley, in the same clothes he wore the day before. There was no calling off just because your wife was having a baby...in those days. And, the snow continued to fall. By the time he arrived to work, a phone call had already come in to the switchboard for him with this message--his wife was going to have a cesearan birth, could he get back to the hospital? Do it quick. So, there was Frank--no car, the snow was piling up and he was all the way across the city. Right about then is when he saw the pretzel truck driver--he was there to pick up his supply of boxes and napkins for his deliveries. He was covered in snow and complaining about the terrible conditions of the roads--saying that he had put chains on his tires with his bare hands just so he could get to the other side of town---to make a delivery to--St. Clair Hospital. Frank had a delivery there too. That's when he knew all that praying to St. Jude worked out.

I'm sure you figured out the rest--the pretzel truck made it through the snow, Frank got to the hospital, Din had the baby, Yes, I was born. And what did the man who braved the snow, slept in the waiting room and road to the hospital in a pretzel truck say when he saw his newborn daughter? "Doctor, what the hell is wrong with her? She looks like a mongoloid!" Chalk it up to his ordeal. The snow has always had a way of making January 23 a very unnerving day. Just ask anyone who has celebrated that day with me. Tell 'em Debbie and Angela and Denise and Kate and Cathy and Alexa and Toni and the anonymus person from my past who left the message yesterday on my blog (and don't forget to reveal who you are!)

Yes, snow is always part of the celebration.....we can't stop now.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A lost story.....

one I'll never forget...


We tend to forget that our parents, our aunts and uncles and our grandparents and even our ancestors once felt the very same things we have felt. That stir of excitement over a new idea. That brightness of hope. That tingle of a first kiss. That feeling of love. Of lust. That joy of friendship. That surge of pride and emotion at the sight of something spectacular.
As we bumble through our days, we lose sight of the fact that our father's heart was once young and his hopes were once high. That our mother had other loves, had her share of broken hearts and broken dreams and didn't always do the right thing. That they, as 2 people, shared more than raising children and having dinner at the end of the day. They led lives that were filled with things that had nothing to do with family or jobs or children or obligations. And, we often don't stop to think that they have many more stories to their lives than the ones they've shared a million times over. There's always a new one to remind us that yes, they were once like me.
The other night, my father and I were figuring out the coverage time for all of the inaugural events so that he would be able to watch all of it. He thought we might have to set up to tape some of it. But, I was adamant--he needed to watch it live. To soften my stern directive, I explained how important it was that all of us watch this historic event--him, Vince, Toni, me--everyone. I went into my little speech about watching history and how important this particular inaugural day was. "I've watched history," he told me with a laugh. "Yes, I know, but this something very different," I pointed out. "I've seen presidents before. I've seen inaugurations before. Don't forget, I guarded Roosevelt. I shook his hand." he went on...telling me a piece of information I've heard a thousand times over the years. "Yes, I know. But this is the first black president and it's happening in your time.He is your president!" I told him...trying to impress upon him that he could skip The Young and The Restless just this one time. "Well, I have nowhere else to go! If I have to watch it and since I can't go there, I guess I'll watch it all day on TV," he relented. "You would not want to go there! That's for sure! It's cold and there's so many people!" I told him. As if there was any remote chance he would have ever given thought to going.... "I would have went for Kennedy," he said wistfully. "But, it was snowing something fierce. Uncle Pat and Sarah went. Not me. I had you girls and my job and your mom wouldn't hear of it," he told me. I had never heard this before.
At that time, my uncle (my dad's brother) and his then girlfriend--Sarah Kirk--were major Democratic politicos in Pittsburgh. They ran with all the local politicians--calling them all by their first names and living in the world of old-world-politics. They talked politics--Democratic politics--morning, noon and night. When they came over, when they called, when you ran into them, at Thanksgiving, at Christmas, at Easter--it was all Democrat, all the time. Even as a little girl, I would hear the grand stories of their days with Davey Lawrence and Joe Barr. They took me to visit Davey's burial place at Calvary. They would say things like "you know, when we were at the Hilton bar with Davey...", "Hey, I'll give Judge Alpern a call about that," and "Pete and Eugene had a fight the other day and I told them to cool it. So, we went for a drink..." That's the way it would go. And, they were staunch Irish Catholics. They never missed mass on Sunday morning no matter how many whiskies they had with the Priest or the Bishop the night before. So, it was no wonder that Uncle Pat and Sarah would go to see Kennedy inaugurated. I'm sure they considered him one of their own. And, I am positive they felt they had a hand in getting him elected. He was their boy. They had portraits of him in their Shadyside apartment on Walnut Street. And, they affectionately called him Jack.
But, my father--that wasn't his world. He was not a man to go to inaugurations and talk politics. He was the man who went to work at his administrative job for 40+ years and drowned himself in booze after losing his wife of only 15 years and being left with three little girls to raise. He was not a jet setter. He was not like his brother. He would no sooner go to Washington PA let alone Washington DC. So, this idea that he even would have given even a remote thought to going to see Kennedy inaugurated was almost too much to believe.
"They made it through the snow. It took them 12 hours to get there," he told me. "They couldn't get close to anything because they got there so late. They were promised good seats too," he went on to tell the story. "So, they sat in a bar and watched it on TV. Your mom said they saw the same thing as her. But I didn't see it. I was at work," he continued. "You couldn't tape it back then and they didn't replay it over and over again. So I didn't see it all. Just some pictures and some films." he explained. As he was telling me, I was imagining my uncle and Sarah in the bar--smoking their cigarettes, drinking their whiskey and telling everyone about their connections back in Pittsburgh and about their good seats that they could have had. "Did they ever get to any of the parties?" I asked my father. "I don't know. They probably got too drunk to leave the bar," he half-laughed. "It's too bad you couldn't go," I sympathized. "I wouldn't have had the money to sit in that bar all day," he told me. "And, they had to stay for a few days because of the weather and they were too drunk to drive I guess. I couldn't have afforded that. I had a family." he said matter-of-factly. "I never heard this story..." I told him. "Well, we can't ask Patsy to tell us now, " he said with a bit of sadness...referring to his brother's dementia without saying it. "Yeah, and if he drank that much, he wouldn't have remembered it anyway," I said, trying to lighten it up a bit since my father has a very hard time dealing with his brother's disease. "The story is lost, I guess, " my father shrugged. "But I would have liked to see Kennedy. He was the good one." he quietly told me. "And I almost did. I could have seen Kennedy."

Yes, he saw Obama.

Tune in tomorrow when I tell you the story of my father, the snow storm and the pretzel truck....it's a 50 year old story. It's not lost.


Yes, it's all part of the celebration.....

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I am a blank canvass......








I am a gardener....











I am not a nearly 50 year old woman who is facing the reality that her youngest child is going off to college and who has no idea what to do with the rest of her life......





















That's what Professor H told me in between slurps of matzahball soup and bites of latkes....
She's right...that smart Professor H. That's why she is Professor H.
So, hand me my brushes and my seeds. It's time to paint and plant. Metaphorically speaking, that is....

The celebration continues.....
Today it's all about a hand on a bible, a promise spoken into the cold January air, first dances and pretty ball gowns. And, having lunch with two creative, smart and oh so wonderful colleagues from yesteryear.
Can you say AM-ER-I-CAN? I CAN!

Monday, January 19, 2009

The party begins...........

NOW.........

Yes, I know, it's a tad bit early to start shaking martinis. And, it's a wee bit too cold to take to dancing in the streets. But, trust me, as soon as the sun peeks out from behind the snow covered hills, there will be no stopping the storm. The party storm that is. A red, white and blue, black and gold with a few gray hairs thrown in type of party. It all started yesterday when my buddy Bruce opened the festivities with "The Rising". Then, the party came to Pittsburgh in the early evening hours with Troy running real fast--bringing millions of Pittsburgh loyalists out of their seats, off of their couches, up from their bar stools and springing from their recliners. And, it continues today....as millions of Americans take the day off to commemorate a fallen leader's vision. As for me....I'll be making appointments to rid the years from my hair, my hands, my feet and my teeth and then lunching with Professor H.
Like I said....the party begins NOW.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

History in the making......or....is it making history?

whatever it is....it's a week for the history books....

For Barack....

For Ben....

For me....


One will take on a nation, the other will take on Baltimore and the other will take on 50....



And, we're doing it together....Barack, Ben and me......

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Good-bye Yellow Brick Road......



I'm heading towards 50. Let's hope when I click my heels, those red shoes will take me to a place where 50 really is the new 40. Shoes...they have never let me down before.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Is it REALLY just a number?


....but you could pay me to be 40.....if I can know what I know now, weigh what I did then, live where I live now, have my kids the same as they are now, have the job I had then....

In other words....if I could pick and choose things from then and now....




Thursday, January 15, 2009

Gimme a blanket........

.....make it black and gold.....

It's time to cook up a big plate of gooey nachos, mix up a batch of icey cold margaritas and cuddle up for some serious football watching.....

January in Pittsburgh.

That means 2 things--it's horribly cold and the Steelers are driving for the Super Bowl. (oh...and it also means I'll be turning another year older...). When the Steelers are not in the race for the Super Bowl in January---it feels a hell of a lot colder. Given today's temperatures---that's pretty hard to imagine.
But, Pittsburgh is one of those places that love their sports teams.

The city is on fire with Steeler Fever....right in the middle of a deep freeze. Come Sunday, if the Steelers pull out a win--there's no telling what the next 2 weeks will feel like. It will be black and gold 24/7,fire breathing fans will set the city ablaze with pigskin passion and you won't be able to find a single black & gold item within 50 miles of the city. I'll be perfectly honest--much to my football fan friends shock--I kinda like it. It's fun, it's festive, my husband and my son are both in good moods and there's yet another reason for a party. It's an extra holiday....when we need it most! And, the best thing about it--it doesn't involve any shopping or wrapping or decorating! It's adds pizzaz and warmth to a month that feels so cold and pizzazzless.

But, before you start planning that under-the-blanket football-a-thon.....let me ask you a question--Have you thought about your New Year health and diet resolutions?
You know the ones. The ones you made just a little over 2 weeks ago.
I'll bet you're sitting there saying "oh yeah, there she goes, Ms. Lapband! Way to wreck a party!".
Okay, okay....before you go postal on me, give me a second to redeem myself....
Here's a few tips to keep your healthy resolutions on track without sacrificing the fun food of FOOTBALL.....
The Best and Worst Beers in America
The 125 Healthiest Supermarket Foods in America
Eat This, Not That Super Bowl Foods


No matter who wins the game, you'll thank me in the morning...YOU will be a winner!

Go Steelers!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Dear Cousin Tony,

....I'm on a roll with my blog letters....aren't I?

Your wife called me the other night. She told me you're getting a wee bit anxious about getting your Lapband. Yeah, I know you know all about our conversation. And, I know you and I talked all nice-nice when she put you on the phone. But, now that your wife ain't around...let me give it to you in straight locker room talk--you gotta stop this shit,buster.

Let me talk to you in your language, coach. Your team needs you. Yeah, they might be putting points on the board but they're missing field goals. And, you want to know why they are not racking up those extra points? Because they can't do it alone. And, to be quite honest--they don't want to do it alone. They see you struggle with things so they hold back. They would prefer to be with you than punt without you. Oh, shit, I don't know if that makes any sense, coach. I don't know much about football. (Except, of course, the Steelers are one game away from the Super Bowl.) What I am trying to say is this--you have a wife that loves and adores you and wants to experience a long and active rest-of-your-life with you. She wants to walk and talk and dance and laugh--with you. You have the most amazing kids who count on you to be their leader and their guide. They can't imagine a world without you in it. And, you have those gorgeous grandkids who want to have tea parties with their grandpap and catch ball with him and talk sports with him. And, you've got that little girl of yours who you need to walk down the aisle and dance with. In a tux. Don't miss the field goals, coach.

Here's the thing, kiddo--it's time. So, stop all this worry and fret and get on with it. You've come this far...just lay down on the table to do it. You've got a cheering squad that spans Route 22--over mountains and freeways and parkways and cobblestone streets. And, that cheering squad is led by none other than your #1 cheerleader from way back--my cousin--your wife. She loves you with a fever that keeps on burning. She doesn't care if you weigh 500 pounds or 200 pounds. She has enough Tony-love to love it all....from your titanium knees to your cherub sweet Italian face. Throw the ball, coach.

I have no clue if you read my blog. But, I know there's someone out there on your cheering squad who does. She'll rally the troops. I've got no doubt about it. She's got DiPippa blood running through her veins. And, there is no stopping a DiPippa. So, pack your bags, sweet Tony--jump in that car, whip a smile on your face and put that can-do football coach attitude in gear....because you are taking off those gutchies and doing it! Sure it's going to hurt. Sure it's not going to be a walk in the park. Hell yes, you will be a miserable sonofabitch for a few days. But, let's face it--you beat cancer, you got new knees, you lived through chemo and you made it through your almost-Lapband moment last summer. You're not going to pussy out now, are you?

Oh, you're thinking I'm getting a little rough on you, do you? You think I'm getting a little too sassy, huh? Well...guess what....this ain't nothing. If you don't do this one thing for yourself then sweetheart--consider this fair warning. You know that wedding you've been saving up for? Yeah....well...I'd think twice before you invite any DiPippa's. Cause we'll stomp all over your tuxedoed ass. Your tuxedoed big ass. Then, we'll drink all the wine and tell you what we think...

Oh come on, stop shaking, boy. If you want to watch that Super Bowl filled with hope.....let Dr. McCloskey take her scalple to you. I promise you, from the bottom of my much smaller belly that you will be happier and healthier and more hopeful than you have ever been! You're gonna win the game.
Just make the damn touchdown.....

love,
Judi

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Dear AARP......


Go pick on someone your own age.....

Listen, I'm really not into you. To put it more bluntly--I want absolutely nothing at all to do with you. So, please stop trying to woo me with your cards and letters and offers. I don't care if I can get car insurance at a better rate and I really don't give a flying fuck if I've earned the priveldege of being a card-carrying member of your group. Keep your discounts, your trips, your parties, your meetings and all your literature. Stop wasting so much paper (you're killing trees damn it!) and money (don't you know we are in a recession?) on courting me. Your behavior is getting on my nerves. Stuffing my mailbox everyday with claims that you can save me money, make my life better and get me connected to better things is really pissing me off. Lose my address. Forget my name. Just get out of my life.

You have been warned....

love, Judi

Monday, January 12, 2009

We interupt my regularly scheduled blogging to bring you this......

...Journey In Time.....

December 1974.....Dwight Avenue.....Dormont Divas....
Celebrating Christmas loot....
Can you tell I just got my braces off?
Doesn't Debbie look cool in those glasses?


January 2009......Country Club Road......Dormont Divas
Celebrating Debbie's grandmotherhood....
It's time for more dental work....I need those teeth whitened!
Doesn't Debbie look cool in those glasses?


Where did the time go?

Here we go again....

...hip-hip hooray.....

Yeah, that was just me trying to get myself psyched up for Monday. Another week. Another who knows what. To be honest....that little hip-hip-hooray just didn't do it for me. I think I need another....

Alright, I'm not in the mood.

Let's just forget it's Monday morning and talk about something else....

Did I mention that I went to an amazing party where I met up with a few blog readers? Oh yes, and we talked blog. It was oh so fun. I had quite a bit of wine. But, trust me, I needed it. Thankfully, my sister (who confessed that she is afraid to comment on my blog...afraid of moi?) drove home. My oldest friend (a blog reader!) in the world (well, she's not the oldest....but, um, she is older than me) gave this huge, wonderful party for her lovely, sweet and darling daughter (a blog reader!) and her new husband to celebrate the upcoming birth of their first baby. It was super swanky and very social register quality. Honestly, I have to give a shout out to her for how impeccable her taste is and how clean her entire house is. I really have no idea how she manages to keep it so sparkling. (I mean...what the fuck Deb? You just got back from a week in Vegas and your house is that perfect less than 24 hours later? What the hell am I doing wrong?) I'm pretty sure her bedroom was messier than mine when we were kids. And now she has hard wood floors you can eat off of! And, listen to this--she had a shitload of people in her house and there wasn't a thing out of place in her kitchen. I guess I can learn a thing or two from my older friends. Hey Moriah's Grandma (one of my blog readers)....thanks for outting yourself!

Oh, and for those of you who were following the drama of Vince returning to PhDland this past weekend--you can breath easier now--he got there. But, not before busting a window pane in our front door as he was crabbily carrying a bunch of stuff to his car. Not a good moment. Thank God for duct tape....

And, last but not least...I am no longer the soup dope of the South Hills. Yes, I redeemed myself by cooking up a delicious batch of potato soup. After all the drama of Vince leaving and the busted glass and the big mess created by it all, I figured we could all use a nice dose of comfort food. And, given that knot in my throat and those tears brimming in my eyes--I needed a pick-me-up. And, what better way to make me feel all better than to reclaim my rightful title of queen of the kitchen?

Alright...there's no denying it...Monday is here.

Happy Monday (I guess).....

Sunday, January 11, 2009

I need a joint.....




Yesterday I needed a drink...today I need something illegal.

So....the weather was such that Vince never got out the door. Thanks to me. I was not sending my only son out into winter's fury. Carmen said I over reacted. Vince said I over reacted. I say I reacted as any mother would. After hours and hours of weather chasing, I declared it a State Of Emergency. As far as I was concerned...an education was not worth my nerves.

So...it comes down to today.


Yes, there will be tears. And, they will be mine. And they will probably last longer than I would like. But, there comes a time when we have to send them out the door....regardless of the weather. And, today is that time.

Gimme a toke....

Saturday, January 10, 2009

I need a drink.....

...and chai latte won't do....



The plan is that Vince is heading back to PhDland today. We are anxiously watching the weather to figure out if that makes sense....since he is driving into the mountains and the Pennsylvania snowbelt. Well...he is not watching the weather. He's still in bed. Carmen and I are. We have been for an hour now. We're pacing back and forth...looking out the window every 30 seconds...as if something might change. Yes, it's still snowing. We keep switching TV channels...on different TVs...to check if we hear anything different. Yes, there's still a winter weather warning--up to 8 inches of snow and ice expected. Can he wait another day? Yes, I need a drink.

Maybe I'll call the Dean and ask him if it's okay Vince stays home until it stops snowing. "Hello Dean...this is Vince's mom, Judi. I sure hope I didn't get you out of bed. How are you doing? Did you have a nice Christmas? Let me tell you why I'm calling you at this hour...my Vince a PhD student there and his first class of the new semester begins on Monday. But, he can't come. It's been snowing and I won't let him drive. Can you ask his teacher to send his work home to Pittsburgh until the Spring thaw?" Oh yes, I need a drink....

Vince would beat me silly if he knew I even mentioned his name on my blog. And, if he knew that I was talking about him--he'd ream me out like only my son can! He's funny like that. But, I'm the mother so if I want to talk about my son on my blog then I will! Plus, I need to pay homage to a day that I've secretly been dreading for a week now. I know he's been dreading it as well...for different reasons than mine, of course. So, for the past week, knowing how he has been feeling, I've donned my sweater and pom-poms and went into my cheerleader mode instead of telling him that I'm *this* close to tears and that I'd love to always have him around, I can't believe our much anticipated month together is over and gee--can we just turn back the clock...to maybe 1999? Hell yes, I need a drink....

Trust me, I want Vince to go back to his regular life. He needs to return to reality just like the rest of us. As someone who has been in academia all of my life, I know the life of a PhD student can be challenging, frustrating and sometimes very lonely. But, on the other hand, I also know that the rewards of pursuing dreams can make it all worth while. It's just that when you are in throes of it all--as Vince is right now--it doesn't quite feel that way. Like we all know--growing up is hard to do. But, it's even harder on mothers. But, our kids don't know that.

Shit, yes, that calls for another drink.....

Friday, January 9, 2009

A soup opera.........


....and they say soup is the eternal comfort food....


I don't think I fully appreciated what a good soup can bring to your life until I entered Lapbandland. Oh, sure, as the daughter of a great Italian cook, I was raised on my mom's wedding soup. Plus, I can whip up a killer version of that myself. However, for many years--that soup and the traditional homemade chicken noodle were all I knew. And, I was fine with that. My repretoire got a bump up in my 20's when I discovered French onion soup. But, I think it was the bread and cheese that sold me on it. And, somewhere along the line, I learned to like New England Clam chowder. Which led me to be a little more adventuresome...ending up with falling madly in love with Charley's chowder--a seafood soup-stew they serve at The Grand Concourse and the Gandy Dancer Saloon. A soup I still love. Although we don't go there that often these days (I'll have to remedy that soon...). But, for the most part--soup was the last thing I ever thought about for many years. I made soup every once in awhile--to appease my soup-loving husband. I didn't order it in restaurants--I preferred to start my meals off with gin then go on to the bread, the salad, the wine, the main course, the dessert and the after dinner drink.
Enter my Lapband....
Suddenly things changed. Soup became a staple of my liquid diet phase, my mushy food phase, my post-fill phase and my-band-is-pretty-tight phase. And what happened? I fell in love with soup. I became a soup conesseur. A soup know-it-all. Ask me where they serve the best crab bisque and I can tell you. Ask me where they serve the most luscious lobster chowder and I know. You want baked potatoe soup?...I'll tell you exactly where to find it. Go ahead...try me. I can recommend the best canned soups and frozen soups and I can tell you which days to find certain soups at restaurants and stores.
So, it was no wonder that when it came to planning my holiday menus--soup was on them. I decided on a crab bisque to accompany my Christmas Day salad and appetizer buffet and I selected a potatoe soup to start off my traditional New Year's Day sit-down. With those plans in place, I set out to perfect my recipes by copycatting my favorite ones---Crab Bisque from Amel's and Baked Potatoe Soup from Houllihan's.
Let me tell you...copy catting is not easy. It takes more than culinary skills to pull it off. Take for example my ferocious quest to figure out what exactly was in Amel's crab bisque that made it so yummy and so different from all the rest. I began with making a trip to Amel's...taking Vince along to help with my caper. After all, he is a smart, food-loving PhD student--his pallette might be a bit more advanced, I figured. We ordered the bisque...taking our time to savour each mouthful...hoping to figure out the secret ingredients. We discussed it and discussed it, made a few guesses and wrote down a few thoughts. It was very scientific. Thinking we could confirm our guesses with the waiter--we asked him a few questions about the bisque. He claimed not to know anything at all about the ingredients. He said I would have to speak to the chef--who, at the time, was very busy. I pretended not to care--I didn't want him thinking I was trying to steal his recipe. "oh, I was just curious," I told him with a little laugh. So, the next day, I called Amel's with a cover story--could I order their crab bisque for a large group of people? I was hoping they would say that yes, I could. Then, I would tell them that some of the people who would be eating it have severe allergies. So,I would need to know all of the ingredients. My plan fell apart almost immediately---they did not sell it in large quantities, the woman told me on the phone. "Even if I bring you a pot?" I asked in a panic. "Hold on," she said, telling me she was going to talk to the chef. "OOOOOh......" I tried to stop her--thinking this is my chance to say that I wanted to talk to the chef. But, she was too fast. When she came back to the phone, she asked "when do you need this soup? And, how many people do you want to serve?" Could my caper get any more involved? I thought to myself. "Well, before I tell you that, it would depend on the ingredients, " I stammered. "I have people with severe allergies that would be eating it," I tried to put my original plan into action. "You will have to talk to the chef," she told me "and he is busy right now". "Okay, when can I talk to him?" I asked. "Call after 3 tomorrow," she informed me. Well...after 3 more phone calls...I never did get to talk to the chef. He was always busy. So, I made one more pilgrimage to Amel's...a few Friday's before Christmas. I called Carmen--who was on the road--and told him to meet me there for dinner. As luck would have it--when I arrived, it was very busy. There was not a table to be had. So, I sat myself at the bar, ordered a gin martini and waited patiently for Carmen to arrive. After martini #2 and no Carmen in sight, I decided not to waste any more time--it was time to talk to the bartender about the soup. Now I know 2 things about the bartender----#1--his martinis are wonderful and #2--he is allergic to crab. By the time Carmen arrived--I definitely needed to eat. I ordered my favorite crab bisque. I'm not sure if it was the gin or the fact that I was so desperate to come up with the secret ingredient...however...I walked out of there convinced the chef used nutmeg in his recipe. To this day--I cannot explain my reasoning.

It wasn't nutmeg. How do I know? I made the crab bisque on Christmas Day. It was okay. It was not great. It was not the show stopper I imagined it to be. My poor brother-in-law who loves soup and was so looking forward to it probably didn't have the heart to tell me that it was just okay. My father who also loves soup told me it was good. My uncle with dementia ate it up and asked me for another bowl. But, I knew--this was not the soup of my dreams. I did not get it right....

Fast forward to my New Year's Day potatoe soup---
With the sting of the Christmas crab bisque episode so fresh in my mind, I decided that I had to do a practice run with the next soup. So, a few days beforehand, I made a small batch of potatoe soup--from a recipe I found online that had excellent reviews. Toni, Carmen and I tested it and agreed that it was wonderful. On New Year's Day, I awoke confident that I could reclaim my cooking diva crown with my potatoe soup. I dug out my big pot--the really big pot--and started the process of making the potatoe soup.
Well....somewhere in between my shower and setting the table....my soup died. It burned on the bottom, sending an awful taste throughout the velvety smooth soup and filling the house with a stench that could not even be squelched with twenty candles. Not even the salt of my tears could save my soup.....

I need comforting.....

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Guilty, low-cost, low-stress, low-calorie, good-for-you pleasures to get us through January.....

Do they exist?





The other night as I laid on the couch under a big furry blanket, sipping Yogi tea, watching "You've Got Mail"....I realized how sublime I felt. Yes, the dinner dishes were still sitting on the counter and I still had lots of de-Christmasing to get done and I had made poor Vince watch the hockey game on the smaller HDTV in our little office. And, I had just ignored a call from my father. Plus, we were running out of clean towels. Yet, there I was....with all that work to do and I was treating my family a bit shabbily...under a blanket, sipping tea, watching a movie I had seen 100 times before. And, it felt good. Very good. In fact...what was that word I used?.....sublime. It felt sublime.
Others may call it selfish behavior or poor time management. But,not me....I call it sublime.

January can be lousy. We have just spent a month or so consuming tons of extra calories. And, we spent scads of money on gifts and parties and celebrations. Not to mention the fact that we spent ourselves on getting everything done. We're a little fatter, a little broker and a whole lot tireder. It's not the time to self-heal with food, shopping or partying. Which makes it even lousier. But, we do need something.....don't we? Hell yes.

So, I got to thinking about my night of self-centered-tea-drinking-movie-watching-reclining. I was not devouring calories. I was not spending money. I was not running around like a crazy woman. Yes, it's true--I was not doing anything very productive and yes, I was not doing the selfless mom or good daughter thing. But, it felt good. Sublime...remember? It's exactly what we all need in January. Call them guilty little pleasures if you will. I'll plead guilty! In fact--I need more of them! And, I'll bet you do too. I bet if we put our heads together, we can come up with a shitload of them to get us all the way through January and beyond.

Here's just a few more things that feel so sublime even though I'm just fantasizing about them! (can't wait to do them live and in person!)
*hanging out at Barnes & Noble or Borders with a latte of choice, reading through books and magazines (I want to try out that new book "Eat This, Not That"!)
*watching "The Godfather" (all 3 of them!)
*"American Idol"......need I say more?
*gathering your family together for a game of "Seen It", ask them to pop popcorn!
*GO FOR A WALK with a friend in the middle of the day! Stop for a chai latte....
*Surprise a beloved family member who you haven't seen in a very long time (I already did this....it felt so wonderful!). Spend a few hours just chatting and laughing and catching up.
*Commit to watching an entire series (cable ON DEMAND or renting)....whether you've seen them all, never saw them before or maybe only caught a few of them! My choices (if they all exist)--"Sex In the City", "The Soprano's", "Dallas", "West Wing", "Weeds", "Veronica's Closet".....to name a few
*A bubble bath! The grown up version--candles, wine, Vanity Fair magazine. Door locked.



Tell me....what are your guilty little pleasures that fit the requirements (low- calorie, low-cost, low-stress and good-for-you)?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Yes, it is a journey.....

It's the first time in my Lapbanded life that I deliberately canceled a Lapband follow up appointment. The reason was two fold--a mandatory office luncheon was scheduled during the same time that I had my appointment and #2--I really don't think I need a band fill. I hated like hell to cancel that appointment. I don't want to get into that habit. It's so very important to keep these appointments whether I need to have a fill or not. But, honestly, with the way things are in my office--it would not be the time to cause any scuttlebutt about not going to the luncheon. And, being that I'm still struggling with eating things at certain times, I just figured I'd cancel it this time. Just this one time.....

But, just because I don't need a tweak to my band--that doesn't mean that I don't need a tweak to my brain.

You see, just like everyone else--I've been living in Holidayland for awhile now.
In Holidayland, it's really okay and even encouraged to eat cookies and chocolate instead of yogurt and high protein almonds. And, there's lots of support for wine and martinis and chunks of full-fat cheese instead of protein shakes,water and string cheese . Plus, it's considered an insult to go to someone's home and not accept whatever special foods they offer you. In Holidayland, the world revolves around eating what you want when you want, partying until you drop and not worrying about calories or fats or portions. Meal schedules and making good food choices are all part of the culture there. There's a huge disdain for exercise and healthy activities. In fact, Holidayland is so active and busy that there's no time for anything other than eating, drinking, making merry and a little bit of sleeping. There's little tolerance for headaches or cotton mouth of feeling grungy. The rules are simple--be merry all the time and do whatever it takes not to ruin Holidayland. Everyone in Holidayland wears a smile--no matter how exhausted or stressed they are. They donn festive clothes with lots of sparkle and shine and wear fancy shoes that look pretty tough to walk in. They greet you with heartfelt greetings, a tray of appetizers, a glass of wine and a kiss. It's such a wonderful place to visit. But, definitely not a place to live fulltime forever.



The only problem is that the road that leads out of Holidayland is riddled with mine fields disguised as leftover cakes, cookies, candy and pies.
There's no armor strong enough to keep you 100% steady. And, even when you manage to find the armor--you still need a little deprogramming, a bit of re-education and a pile of commitment to safely navigate the terrain. Because once you do manage to safely get to the border--there's this huge fence that can be almost impossible to scale.
And, even if you do manage to get over that fence--there's a big mountain that must be climbed.
Trust me, even my mighty Lap band can't fight the forces that lie between Holidayland and Judiland. It needs the full cooperation of my brain, my heart and my soul.

The fact that I bust out of Holidayland before as well as escaped from Obesityville does help. But, let's face it--I can't count on my past successes to keep me on the right path. Sure, they help considerably. Just like anything else in life--it's what I do NOW and everyday after that counts. So, here's the thing---I have to really get it in my head that the peanut brittle in the office is not a preferred source of protein. And, I need to keep telling myself that mashed potatoes may go down fine and may be a quick dinner but they are not the optimal choice for a healthy and nutrition packed meal. No, not even sprinkled with Romano cheese. And, I have to ignore all of the things that tempt my time so that I can get back to planning meals and snacks. And, lastly, I can't forget that I am going to be 50 in 16 days. As if I ever could....

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Post Holiday Blues......

Last night, I must have read a dozen blog postings from the various bloggers I frequent---almost every one of them mentioned the post holiday let down. Do you think it's contagious? I'm beginning to think so....
A few of the writers were trying to overcome their feelings with self-talk, reflection and prayer. A few others decided to give in to the feelings and heal them with the passing of time. And, there were a few strong-willed folks who opted to clean it out of them--as in tackling big home cleaning projects or exercise it out of them at the gym. One dear, very tired soul went as far as to declare her state as one that required a "mental health week" of staying in bed and watching soap operas. While I admit that each of these antidotes are not without their merits....for me--none of them are quick enough.

To be honest--as much as I believe in doing whatever it is that you need to do to get over whatever it is that you need to get over--I am too impatient to put up with more than a day or two of feeling funky. And, I am way too impatient to try a few different plans to see which one might work. Call it what you will. But, I just can't do it. Sure, I can go for days feeling lousy and cranky and whiney. But, even in those states of mind, I need to find some fun and brightness. Let's face it--I have to have a reason to put on my make up and my shoes and my Size 12 clothes. Yes, I'm just that vain! Maybe if I stopped long enough to come up with a way to self-heal, I'd come up with one that I like. But, in my world--I have to move on. Go forward. Get moving. Be done with it. And, for heaven's sake--I can't let it stop me from caring about the things I need to care about. Like putting on my favorite lipstick or showing off my new red leather cowboy boots with black leather tooling. Sometimes I just have to rely on those material things to coax me out of whatever state I am in to bring me back to the land of the smiling....



Get the blues.....at the after-Christmas sales.....






Sometimes all it takes is a new spin on things.....

So...now when you think "post holiday blues".....think of all the cute and sassy blue things you can get....ON SALE!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Onward........

We've officially broke free from the grips of the holidays. Well, not completely. It just feels that way...sort of. Today--it's back to the routines we left behind a little over 2 weeks ago. Vince is the only person in the house who still has time left to his holiday break. So, he'll be sleeping in, hanging out, doing what he does. For the rest of us--it's back at it. Part of me feels very sad. Another part of me feels relieved. But, no matter what I feel--I know that it's time.

The cookies and candies are all piled in the trash and the mountains of leftovers have found their way to the same place. In 2009--I just have to cut back on the food! Remind me, please. And, the gifts have all been put into their proper places and the wrappings and ribbons have been recycled. Funny thing is--I can't even remember what gifts were wrapped in those pretty papers. In 2009--I have to take the time to savor each gift as they are being unwrapped. Remind me, please. Oh...note to self--I don't need any wrapping or bows or cards or tags or tissue paper. Remind me about that too...in case I forget. After all...I'll be nearing 51 at that point.

Okay...I have to confess--the Christmas tree is still standing in all of it's splendor. And, the stockings are still hung by the chimney with care. And, baubles are still decking the halls and the mirrors and the tables and the sinks and the doors. The evergreens with white twinkling lights are still framing the door and my big Santa is still standing on the porch. But....they've all somehow lost their sparkle. How is it that less than 2 weeks ago--they were all so beautiful and special and festive and heartwarming? And, why is it that today--those same things induce stress, have worn out their welcome and feel overly cluttery? Well...the good news is that when I finally do get them all put away in my Christmas storage room--they will magically regain their glory over the next 11 months. So, by the time I dig them out in November or December...they will be heavenly and welcomed with open arms and happy faces.

Yes...we had a very nice holiday season. From what my weary mind can recall. But, now it's time to get beyond the making merry and get on with January. I'm thinking I might try to adopt a new mind set about the cold and dreary days that lie ahead. Instead of dreading them....I'll try to roll with the snow and the ice and the cold. I'll take the time to enjoy the warmth of cuddling up in a blanket on the couch with a cup of tea. And, I'll work really hard at not planning every second of every weekend so that I can take pleasure in nesting and cocooning and maybe organizing some closet and drawers. And, rather than fighting winter's fury, I am going to relish it. I'll watch the howling winds whip through the trees, the snow pummel the roads and the ice form on the windshields. Yes, I'm going to embrace the coming winter months with gusto and purpose. Or not.

Onward. It's the only choice.


Oh...I just remembered...our favorite shoe store has their gigantic sidewalk sale in January. Now, that's something to relish, embrace and enjoy. Forget all that other stuff I said....

Sunday, January 4, 2009

So....what's next?

I suppose it's a good thing that there's always something on the horizon. We may complain and fret. But, when it comes down to it, if we were always looking towards a future that was not there, it would not be so great. So, I'm going to give thanks for the fact that there's lots to do and lots more to come--in this life of mine. And, I'm trying to think of the good things that lie ahead instead of dwelling on what doesn't feel so good. And, I'm working hard at convincing myself that the not so good things really aren't that bad at all. With that in mind--I'm going to start by putting the kettle on for tea and share with you something that lies ahead for us here in Judiland....


Yes, a decision has been made. After all those college road trips to lovely little towns and pretty foliage filled campuses--Toni's heart was captured by just one. The forms have been filled out and the deposit check has been signed, sealed and delivered. It's a bittersweet feeling really. This time next year, not only will I be bidding farewell to the holidays but I'll also be packing up and saying good-bye to both of my children--Vince to PhDland and Toni to BAland--as they head back to their campuses for their Spring semesters. But, for now--it's time to think about college dorm room decorating.....


And, here's a special Happy Birthday shout-out to my lovely, smart and gorgeous niece Alexa. Alexa...I'm putting my sweet Toni in your hands next year!!!

So, what's next for you, my dear blog friends?

Saturday, January 3, 2009

You can learn alot about life from a refrigerator.....


...another lesson from the kitchen...

As all the holiday delectables moved into the fridge, the everyday foods got shoved to the back. My almonds went missing. As did my string cheese and protein bars. Each and every one of them were muscled out by fatty, gooey, calorie-laden, not-so-healthy-but-oh-so-good food. As I crammed in yet another dish---maybe it was the left over hot sausage or perhaps the burn almond torte--the yogurt must have fallen off the shelf down into the back cavern of the refrigerator....never to be seen again. Until now.

The holidays are over. It's time to clean out the fridge. No more leftovers. Time for a clean slate. No more mystery containers. Time to take an inventory. Time to check expiration dates. Time to pitch and purge and plan.
And, not just in my fridge....

Friday, January 2, 2009

What day is it?

Has my dementia set in already? I'm not even 50.....yet.


So, do you think this becoming 50 thing is bothering me? I mean, I keep saying that I'm not that kind of girl. Yet, I find the topic creeping into my thoughts more often than I care to admit. I keep bringing it up at an embarrassingly astonishing rate. It doesn't seem to matter to anyone else. Well, except my father. On New Year's Eve, as we were driving to mass, he said "I can't believe you are going to be 50." "Don't remind me", I bristled. To that, he responded--"how do you think I feel? I'm your father! And, remember--your mother and I had you late in life!" I guess he has a point there. Complaining to my 88 year old father that I'm getting old...not a very nice thing to do....especially on the way to mass.

As a favor to myself and my blogger friends, I'm going to take the day off from whining about this age thing. I've got lots of other things to do! For instance, I have stacks of china, wine glasses,gold flatware and pots and pans that need washed by hand waiting for me in my kitchen. There's a pile of dirty linens on the dining room table. And, the fridge is stuffed with foil covered leftovers and half-filled bottles of wine. The remnants of yet another holiday dinner. Oh, how these holidays do me in....! As much as I love to see them come, I'm happy to see them go. By the time I serve my last meal event of the season--New Year's Day--I think I've managed to prepare every type of meat, vegetable and starch known to mankind, I've washed every food vessel in my home at least a dozen times and I've swept up enough crumbs to feed the population of Rhode Island. Perhaps I'm not bothered by this age thing at all. Maybe I'm just exhausted....

Whatever it is that's got me being unJudilike this morning and caused me to be queen bitch last night (after my guests left, of course), I need a sure fire anecdote. I need a shift in my thinking and a little brightness in my outlook. Because this woe is me stuff and crankiness just won't do. It's messing with my attitude and probably contributing to more fine lines and wrinkles. So, as I wash those dishes and scrub those pots and rub those spots off the flatware--I'm going to ponder my options on how to turn things around. I have a new year to deal with and I have my next act to get ready for. I need to get it right.....

Thursday, January 1, 2009

2009...........

Every new beginning comes from some other beginnings end.
Semi Sonic- Closing Time



Farewell to 2008....it's been swell.
Hello to 2009....I'm on my way.
Farewell to my crazy youth....it's been fun.
Hello to my next act... I'm scared.
So, please, blog friends.....don't go anywhere....