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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Taking a PARTY ISLAND break.......

After all the hoopla of the summer and the hard work of another Collegeland move plus the need to ease back into empty nesting while getting ready for another busy academic year in my work's the only logical thing to do.
I'm kicking off the high heels, putting on my party shoes and heading back to that place where life is just a party.

I'll be back soon.
I can't party forever.

P.S. Here's a look back at our trip last year.....we're staying at the same places, taking in the same activities and perhaps even adding a few new ones......
Carmen tells me he has a few surprises in store......hmmmmm....

Sunday, August 28, 2011

College is a lot of work......

especially for moms and dads.....

Not only do we have to work and save to pay for them to be there, we have to make sure they live in the style they are accustomed to once they get there. In my case...the style my daughter is accustomed to translates into a Pink Penthouse.
Don't bother to tell me....I know.....I created this child. But, seriously.....she decided that an ugly, dreary, dusty, hot attic could become a place worthy of the princess that she is?
Of course....she knows her mother would never leave her in a place that looked like that!
Never in a million years could her mother sleep if she knew that her daughter was waking up each morning to walls that were not adorned, a floor that was splattered with gawdknowswhat and windows that haven't been cleaned since Reagan left office.
She knew it was a job her mother would take on.....
But, honestly friends, as much as I would have loved to and wanted to---I could not have done this 115 pounds ago.
As I made my 10th trip up to the attic (carrying yet another big pink bin!) in the house Toni will be living in with her sorority sisters, I decided right then and there---this was the reason why I got my Lapband. Forget all the other stuff I said for the past 4 years. That was the moment...the real moment.....when I realized just what this weight loss has done for me.

Let me share with you what I am talking about.....

I wish I would have taken some before pictures of what this place looked was a drab, dust-filled, schorchingly hot, downright yucky attic. I guess we were just so anxious to get started that I didn't bother to pull out the camera until we at least got some paint on the walls and an air conditioner in the window.
So, here's a look at it as things were taking shape....
Here's a shot of Carmen working on putting together the portable closet we had to purchase when we realized the room did not have anywhere to put Toni's clothes! My daughter....Miss Fashionista...without a closet? A true college crisis....
Even though it was a closet....Toni was not at all happy with how boring and beige it was. Thankfully, I found some inspiration and a glue gun and managed to make it a little more Toni worthy....
Here's a shot of the entry way...aka the top of the steep steps.... to what was finally starting to become "Toni's Pink Penthouse".....

After many hours, lots of sweat, a few tears and some major back-breaking's how things turned out....

We came a long way, baby!!!

Keep your fingers crossed that this will be her final college home. I gave a very stern warning as I dragged myself out of that place late Friday night......"I will be 53 next year!! Don't you dare move again!"

Yes, College Year 3 is here.
But, my nest wasn't completely empty.
Vince made a quick trip home from was Fantasy Football Draft weekend. So, he and Carmen studied most of the day yesterday in preparation for the event. Then, they headed out to the very important draft....toting a few pounds of pasta that I made for them to share with their fantasy football buddies as they toiled into the night....
I spent the evening doing a little shopping for our little empty nester getaway to Party Island this week, getting my new iPhone updated, checking on a few friends who were in the path of Hurricane Irene and then meeeting my sister for a margarita and quesadilla before heading home and getting ready for our surf and turf grill today before Vince heads back to his post at PhDland.
Today, I'm struggling with a few aches and pains from our move-back-to-college extravaganza.
But the day awaits me. There's no time for pity parties.
There's shrimp to peel, corn to husk, steaks to prepare and a son to spend time with.
Tomorrow is when the real Empty Nester Life Year 3 begins......

Sending out my prayers and best wishes to everyone dealing with Irene....please stay safe.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Last call......

for special dinners.....

With Toni's departure date looming, it's time to get in some special meals that I've been promising all summer.
This past weekend, our mega-fancy market had a huge seafood sale so I dragged myself out of bed at some ungodly hour to stock up.
Now, I am able to make good on a few meals that I've put off due to the cost of the main ingredients.
Since I'm in full favorite seafood recipe mode....I figured I'd share them with you.
Next time you find a good price on these treats from the sure to try these out.
They are all truly scrumptious and effortlessly elegant.....

Lobster and Herb Mashed Potatoes
(do not use imitation Lobster meat!)

  • 4 medium to large potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
    2 bay leaves
    1 pound lobster meat
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1 tablespoon unsalted butter (to saute lobster) plus 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), for the potatoes
    Salt and freshly ground white pepper
    3 ounces soft herbed cheese (Philadelphia Cream Cheese makes a good one)
    1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
    Boil the potatoes with the bay leaves until the potatoes are tender. While the potatoes are cooking, saute lobster meat in oil and butter until it is no longer translucent, and set aside. Drain the potatoes well and discard the bay leaves, then mash the potatoes. Using a beater, add in 1 stick of butter and salt and white pepper. Fold the lobster meat into the potatoes and set aside in a warm place.

  • Serve with a grilled steak. A very special meal!
Scallops with Boursin Cream Sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. good quality olive oil
  • 1 lb. sea scallops
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 oz. Boursin cheese, any flavor

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season scallops with salt and pepper as desired and sear them in hot skillet for 3 minutes per side. Transfer scallops to plate and keep warm. Return skillet to stove top and add cream and cheese; bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 3-4 minutes until slightly thickened. Return scallops to skillet and cook until heated through and flesh of scallops is opaque and firm. Serve hot.

You can serve this over pasta or rice. We like it served in a ramiken with a side of asparagus.

Classic Shrimp Scampi
  • 2 pounds shrimp in the shell (I use jumbo shrimp for this)
  • 3 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons dry white wine
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 teaspoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
  • 1/4 cup minced shallots
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 extra-large egg yolk
  • 2/3 cup panko (Japanese dried bread flakes)
  • Lemon wedges, for serving

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Peel, devein, and butterfly the shrimp, leaving the tails on. Place the shrimp in a mixing bowl and toss gently with the olive oil, wine, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Allow to sit at room temperature while you make the butter and garlic mixture.

In a small bowl, mash the softened butter with the garlic, shallots, parsley, rosemary, red pepper flakes, lemon zest, lemon juice, egg yolk, panko, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper until combined.

Starting from the outer edge of a 14-inch oval gratin dish, arrange the shrimp in a single layer cut side down with the tails curling up and towards the center of the dish. Pour the remaining marinade over the shrimp. Spread the butter mixture evenly over the shrimp. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until hot and bubbly. If you like the top browned, place under a broiler for 1 minute. Serve with lemon wedges.

Perfect served with a Ceasar Salad!

Grilled Marinated Swordfish

  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 swordfish steaks
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley (optional)
  • 4 slices lemon, for garnish (optional)
In a glass baking dish, combine the garlic, white wine, lemon juice, soy sauce, olive oil, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper. Mix just to blend. Place swordfish steaks into the marinade, and refrigerate for 1 hour, turning frequently. Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat, and lightly oil the grate. Grill swordfish steaks for 5 to 6 minutes on each side. Garnish with parsley and lemon wedges.
I typically cut the steaks up and serve them kabob style with some grilled veggies. Sometimes I buy a good quality pesto sauce (jarred, at room temp) and serve it on the side as a dipping sauce. Yummmmmy!

Ahoy Mates!!!!

Happy Cooking!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Up to my knee caps......

in going-back-to-college stuff YEAR 3......
This year it's all about pink and green.
She's moving into a new place.
Not only have we had to collect scads of new bed clothes and rugs and even a dresser and cupboard, we've also had to get paint and all the paint supplies and curtains and rods and storage pieces and even an air conditioner.
Trust me, it's been no easy fete to get that all done in between everything else.
Thankfully, Walmart is open 24-7.

Yes, as I've been telling you...when I do have the time and energy to blog....I've had quite a bit of activity these past few weeks here in Judiland.
But, I'm here to report that after many tears, little-to-no sleep, a bit of crankiness and quite a bit of angst, I've decided to admit to myself that I really can't do it all.
Earthshattering, I know.
I have almost got myself to the point where I am okay with that little self admission.
Almost being the operative word here.
For me, accepting the fact that I am not superwoman is very difficult.
Almost impossible.
So, I find myself feeling guilty about everything.
Not. a. good. thing.
The funny thing is that when my world overwhelms me, I know that I am not doing anything particularly well. I'm letting things slide. No one has to tell me. I'm fully aware of it. But, being the optimist that I am, I am positive that things will turn around momentarily. And, when they don't turn around momentarily, I convince myself that it will happen shortly. And, when it doesn't happen shortly, I lead myself to believe that it won't take long.
It's only when I start to feel like I have a noose around my neck, my head is in a vice grip and I'm living on caffeine and the thrill of new lip gloss, I realize that something has gotta give. As things start eeking out of control and the clock is ticking away, my guilt rolls in and I want to run and hide. Pull the covers over my head and just stay there until everything and everyone stops wanting a piece of me....
Always sounds like a perfect plan.
Until something like the toilet decides to over flow.....all over the bathroom.
And, I lose it. Crying like a little baby. Right there in the newly scrubbed with a plunger in one hand and throwing towels all over the floor with the other hand while my cute little red shoes are sopping wet. My mascara is running down my face, my hair is plastered to my head with sweat and did I mention my cute little red shoes are sopping wet?
Yeah, well, that ain't no way to live....

Yes, it's been a maddening few weeks.
A maddening, running on empty, merry-go-round, race-to-the finish few weeks.
All of it has resulted in some unusual happenings......
*I left my credit card at a restaurant.
*I paid the water bill late. Completely forgot about it.
*I broke one of my favorite serving bowls.
*I broke three perfectly lovely wine glasses.
*I lost my best kitchen knife.
*I lost my cell phone....also left at a restaurant.
*I misplaced an entire bag of groceries....I think I left it in the cart in the parking lot.
*I killed a few pots of flowers. I forgot to water them. name a few.

What I'm pretty sure about is that all of that happened because my mind was spinning....I was never in the moment.

Then, the toilet overflowed.
That's what brought me to my final act of madness.
I decided the laundry would have to wait, the kitchen floor would have to stay dirty, the living room didn't need to be cleaned, the garbage could stay in the pail a little longer, the tupperware shelf didn't need organized and I was not going to scrub that damn bathroom right then.....I decided it was time to go downstairs and finally complete Toni's lamp re-do project that's been sitting on my table for two solid weeks.
I knew I needed to accomplish something....anything.
So, I chose the lamp.
My girl is leaving for college in a few short days.
She needed her Judi-blinged-out lamp.....

It went from this.......

To this....

Amazing how a bunch of ribbon,a pile of pom poms and a hot glue gun can help a girl feel so much better!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Call off the AMBER ALERT......

I'm alive and kicking (and sometimes even screaming) here in Judiland.

My early morning blogging time has been hijacked by something
Yes, my sacred early morning hour spent on Stories from the Road has been thrown off course by trying to keep up with all the things I can't get to during the day because of that little thing that keeps me in shoes and my children in college---my job.
So, what that means is that I'm answering emails, taking care of business and fixing what needs fixed from 4:30 am to 5:30 am instead of doing what I prefer to do at that hour.....talking to you.
You see, no sooner did I come off of my 10 day dad duty so that my sisters could go on vacation, I found myself smack in the middle of doing vacation coverage duty at the office....which means covering 2 busting-at-the-seams email accounts in addition to my own overflowing email account. addition to all the regular stuff like presentations, appointments, meetings, phone calls, projects, presentations, appointments, meetings, phone calls and projects.
Then, it's home to tackle my regular responsibilities like family duty, dad duty, dinner duty, laundry duty, shave my legs duty.
Trust me, I know I'm not the only one.
Life is busy everywhere.
Thankfully, in between all of my busy-ness....I have managed to have some fun.
So, please don't ruin your mascara by crying for me.
We snuck in a little BBQ with friends and family when my son came home for a few days, we had a few nice dinners out and we managed to shop a bit too.
And, of course, I went crazy over menus and recipes and I cooked up a storm.
I haven't completely got the house back to together since then but I'm working on it....
So, yep, my days and nights have been fuller than full.
Which I am thankful for.
Because in a few short days.....I'll be once again packing up my college co-ed little girl and making the journey to her lovely move her into yet another place.
I'm sure you know what that means.....I've got a boatload of getting ready to do from this moment forward.
Just add it all to my list......
Thank God for my Lapband.
I could have never, ever done this all 115 pounds ago.
Please don't go anywhere....I promise I'll be back to my regular blogging schedule soon.
I have to.
It's as much a part of what makes me happy as my Lapband is.
Until then......xoxoxox

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Just between you and me......

I'm planning a very quiet, low key Fourth Bandiversary celebration.
I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings so I'd prefer you not blab all over creation about this little celebration.
I wouldn't want anyone to know they aren't invited.
And, I definitely don't want the place crawling with papparazzi.
You probably find it rather odd that I'm not having my usual explosion of a party in Judiland.
But, I gotta be honest here---it's been an exhausting, overwhelming, completely draining and did-I-say-exhausting? few weeks here in my corner of the world.
I'd tell you all about it but I'm just way too tuckered out to even form a rational sentence let alone entertain you or inspire you.
What I will tell you is this.....
Four years ago, at this very moment, I changed my life in more ways that I could have ever imagined. (click there to go back in time....)
It not only changed my pants size and the number on the scale but it totally transformed how I feel about myself, how I interact with others and how I live my daily life.
It's given me control over something that I never had control over--my weight.
It gave me the power to overpower what overpowered me--food.
To some people, their weight may not matter as much and they may be perfectly happy with living full filling, purposeful lives regardless of a few pounds here and a few pounds there.
That's not me.
But, I could not do it.
Throw tomatoes at me if you wish.
Call me vain or self centered or just plain crazy.
I can take it.
I completely own my vanity and my self centeredness and my craziness.
Sure, it was also somewhat about my health and living longer.
But it was also about enjoying life so I could enjoy being healthy and wanting to live longer.
And, I do that much better in a size 8 or 10 than a size 18 or 22.
That is who I am.
That is what makes me happy.
My Lapband helped make me happier.
Which, in turn, has helped me make the world a happier place.
Being happy is good.
That's reason for a celebration....even if it's a quiet one.

Welcome to my happier place.
Here's a few happy shots from the past month...


Thank you for helping me get here and for staying with me through it all.
Please don't go make it an even happier place to be!

Monday, August 8, 2011


I'll be back to blogging soon......just in time for my 4th Bandiversary!
Until then....I'm PIGGING a good banded girl!!