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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Martini I come!

Some weeks should have 2 martini nights.  
Especially when it's the last week of January!  
But, we have to take what we can get.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

2 days and counting until.......

The goal of the Pantry Challenge is to spend the month of February (since it's the shortest month!) fashioning meals from what you already have in your pantry, your fridge and your freezer. This means that you will have to do an inventory of what you have now and  come up with creative meal ideas throughout the month based on what you have stockpiled.  It's super important to know what you have so you can think about recipes and menus!   The only items you should shop for in February are fresh fruits and veggies and dairy products that have a short shelf life such as milk and eggs.
For me, I decided on this challenge after clearing out my pantry, fridge and freezer after the holidays and realizing how terribly disrespectful I am with resources---I threw away enough food to feed an entire family of 8 for a week or more!   Even if both of my children were home full time, I would never have needed 10 cans of tuna, a dozen jars of pickles and the mountains of other food I had on hand.  That clean-out was eye opening for me!  

In addition to learning exactly what our consumption is and more than likely saving a few bucks along the way, I am looking forward to challenging myself to find new and interesting recipes using what I have on hand.  The idea of the pantry challenge is not to starve but to thrive on what have!

Although I sit here on January 30 feeling  excited to partake in this challenge, I am not sure how I will feel around February 15.  Hopefully, I will be able to build healthy meals, have some fun doing it and learn a few things along the way.  And, possibly spend my extra food money on some fun Spring fashions.... 

If you plan on participating.....WELCOME TO THE PANTRY CHALLENGE.
If you can't justify doing it now, I sure hope you come along for the ride to see how things are going.
I promise I won't talk about it everyday.
Each Friday,  I will give an overview of my week doing it and will share any recipes or tips I gathered along the way.   I invite everyone who is participating to do the same in the comments section of the Friday blog post.....
I'm not sure if this will be fun or not but I'm ready to give it a whirl.

Here's a sneak peak at a conversation I had with Carmen last night....
ME:  So, we are doing that Pantry Challenge in February so I have to go and stock up at the grocery  store.
CARMEN:  I thought the idea behind the Pantry Challenge was to use what you have.....

Clearly, I have a long way to go..... 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Are you having the January doldrums?

I'm not sure if I am or not. 
But, last night, after having a lovely long and chatty phone conversation with a dear friend while mindlessly eating chocolate covered macaroons, I think I might be catching a case of them......
Ah...the power of food!  

Typically, I try to stay clear of all the drama of being down and out of sorts just because it's a certain month or a certain date or a certain time of the year or certain event get the picture. 
I work pretty hard at finding the silver lining or at the very least suppressing whatever feelings I am feeling that I don't especially like feeling.  
But, sometimes it just happens.
Enter those amazing chocolate covered macaroons that I put in my basement out-of-sight-out-of-mind freezer after Christmas to keep them out of my grubby little chocolate covered macaroon loving hands.  Add that to a weekend of  an over abundance of  empty nest cooking to comfort me and Houston, we've got a problem. 
You see, this past weekend, I cooked enough different recipes and food to open a bustling little bistro for a week.  I do this type of thing when the empty nesting blues start to hit me.  Being that my sorority girl returned to college this past Friday, I was in a very high state of empty nesting blues.  
For the many of my blog readers's not only empty nesting blues that send me into the's anytime I need comfort. 
 My upstairs freezer was filled to the max with all of my regular everyday excess so I had to resort to that basement freezer to stow away my concoctions.  That freezer was already loaded with my last foray into comfort cooking along with a hefty supply of mussels, shrimp, scallops and salmon as well as 2 hams, 1 small turkey breast, two packages of steaks, 3 pounds of hot Italian sausage, a few containers of different sauces, 2 containers of potato soup, I vat of French onion soup and last but not least--three trays of those chocolate covered macaroons.  Something had to come out so I could jam  the new inventory from my most recent day of comfort cooking into the freezer.  
The least problematic thing to take out seemed to be the chocolate covered I am sure you would agree.
Then came the phone call.....
So, I made myself a nice mug of hot tea and curled up on the couch and settled in for a long winter's chat session.
Every so often, I'd make my way into the kitchen to heat up my tea.  And grab a chocolate covered macaroon. 
No, not once.  Not twice.  Not even three times.   I think it was something like.....8 times. 
If I recall correctly, during one of  those trips, I might have grabbed more than one of those macaroons! was a three hour phone call....
A dozen chocolate covered macaroons later......we bid each other good-bye, blowing kisses across the miles.  As I hung up, I smiled at my blessing of having such a wonderful friend who I have not talked to in months or seen in years but yet we can pick up right where we left off.
I was happy.  Content.  I think I might have been feeling JOY.  
And, then, I spied the empty tray of chocolate covered macaroons.   
Soon, I felt them careening through my body.
It was all downhill from there.

This morning, after a fitful night sleep--most likely due to that dozen of chocolate covered macaroons, I woke up with a headache, a stomach ache and a feeling of misery and a strong distaste for the cold, the snow and all that goes along with it.  I pulled the covers over my head and heaved deeply at the thought of having to deal with any more winter, any more snow, any more ice, any more white-knuckled driving and any more days that end in exhaustion.   Not even the thought of wearing a great outfit or a favorite lip color could cheer me up.  It was winter, it was cold, I had ate an entire dozen of chocolate covered macaroons and I felt absolutely lousy.
Now, I am left to wonder----was it the chocolate covered macaroons with all their sugar and fat that is giving me these January doldrums or am I just really frightened by the fact that I might just be falling into a trap of over eating without even knowing it?   
Or, have I discovered a new strain of the flu......the CCM flu? 
(get it?...CCM=Chocolate Covered Macaroon) 

Okay to find the silver lining.  
I don't look pretty when I have the doldrums.  



Sunday, January 27, 2013

Not counting the years......making the years count!

Birthdays are reminders of many things.  We get cards in the mail, email greetings, FB comments, special phone calls, kisses and gifts and all those things that let us know we are loved and lucky.   We go out for drinks with friends, we sit around a blazing birthday cake and listen to familiar voices raised in song, we go out to dinner and order our favorite foods and maybe even dessert.  
Amid all the hoopla and celebrating and counting our blessings, there's that one moment when we realize that we are now associated with a brand new number......yes, we are one year older.  But, hey, we are celebrating and making we don't dwell on what that might really mean.  We wait until a few days later to process the fact that the years are marching on and along with that, we are getting older. 
Typically, I don't really give in to all the negativity of aging or the concerns over fine lines and wrinkles.   I am more of a let's cover it all up kinda girl.   I'll happily forget my age, I'll get a new bra and some sassy panties,  I'll visit the make up counter, I'll get a new moisturizer (YES AMAZING!), I'll spend the day at the spa, I'll  get a facial and a collagen treatment and a hot stone massage and a few other diva treatments, I'll do a blog posting, I'll drink a martini, I'll fall in love with a new wine, I'll find a brand new outfit, I'll spend time with my favorite, ultra fun and sweetly young shopping partner,  I'll buy new shoes, I'll spend some time in the kitchen.  I'll make the best of it all and try to have a little fun along the way.   That's how I roll.  I don't really deal with the deep stuff.  In fact, I pretend I don't have any deep stuff.
But, just when we think we have mastered the art of living that lie, something reminds us that we are just as human and deep as the next guy.
For me, wake up calls usually come in the form of quiet inspirations that I don't exactly expect.  They aren't huge, sweeping moments that boink me on my head and tell me to wake up and smell the roses.  They don't come over me after a few glasses of wine and a martini chaser. They don't come in the form of tragedies or striking revelations or amazing moments of clarity.  They aren't thunderous.  They just happen. 
A few days ago I happened upon a of which I don't remember the words exactly.  I didn't even spend much time with it.  I don't even remember where I read it.  Maybe it was on Facebook, maybe it was on someone's blog, maybe it was on a bumper sticker...I don't really remember.   Essentially, it said that FUN does not equal JOY.    At the moment I read it, I appreciated it and moved on.    Then, a few days later, while doing something else, it came back to me. 
Have I been too busy looking for FUN...thus never really knowing if I found JOY?
Do I even know what JOY feels like?
Haunted by those questions, I spent the next few hours thinking yet never finding the answers.  
Then, it occurred to me.....I've been looking for a word or a phrase to embrace in the New Year.  
Here it is----  
JOY...getting to know it.  
Pretty deep, don't you think?

In the meantime, I thought I'd share some pictures from my FUN birthday adventures.....where these moments JOY moments or just FUN?   
Calorie-free food for thought......
Girls night out with my spirited gal pals....Angela and Kate!

Carmen and I kicking off my birthday getaway weekend at one my favorite places...

Heading to the spa on my birthday for a day of spa-ing! 

A fun visit at my son's, meeting our new grand dog and enjoying being all together! 

Waiting for the wine tour bus on our getaway weekend......

Off to find some the form of making wedding soup.  

Here's to a joyous SUNDAY! 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Just call me the BIRTHDAY GIRL!

...because, yeah, it's my BIRTHDAY.....
Here's how I looked when I was 53 years, 11 months and 28 days old...getting ready to go quaint- little-store-shopping after a morning wine tour on my birthday getaway weekend.    

Today I am 54 and I am not afraid to admit to it.
 Thank YOU Lapband!  

Just in case I need a little help with the aging process, I am heading to the Spa for a full day of pampering and age-defying fun with my favorite shopping and spa-ing partner... 

Friday, January 18, 2013

On the road again......

Looking forward to a lovely time with the ones I love, doing the things that we love doing.....

Looking forward to returning refreshed and ready to take on everything I have to take on.....

I'll be back next week...... 


Monday, January 14, 2013

Ghirardelli Chocolate Sea Salt Escape: I think I love you.....

 No, no, no.  I hate you.....

Just when I finally made it through William Sonoma Peppermint Bark withdraw, a lovely friend decides to think of me by giving me my very own personal supply of Ghirardelli Milk Chocolate Sea Salt Escape squares.....
Let me describe for you what it is--it's milk chocolate with sea salt and roasted almonds.
Are you dying from desire yet?   
I'm not sure what kind of friend gives another friend a bag of these things on the 13th day of a brand new year but I was not sure if I should punch her or hug her....
FYI----I did neither.  I disappeared into my car and promptly began eating them.....
Which should explain where I was this morning.
Yeah, I was not feeling very well at all.
A chocolate sea salt escape hangover.....

Did I ever tell you that I was never a sweet eater or gave hoot about chocolate before my Lapband? 
No, I was too busy eating every thing else on the planet to care much about those things.
Sure, I indulged in licorice and gummy bears but give me a big bowl of pasta, some meatballs and the promise of nachos and candy was the very last thing on my mind. 
Fast forward to today and there's just something about chocolate with crunchy things in it that just makes me swoon.
Yes, swoon.  
And,  munch.

I wonder if there's any science behind any of this.
So, my question is: 
Is there a correlation between weight loss surgery and a heightened interest in chocolate (with crunchy things in it....)? 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

I HAVE A BLOG???????!!!!!????

Life is plodding along here in Judiland.
As it always does.
It's Saturday morning and the day ahead of me looks harrowing.
I won't go into the particulars since I don't want to be reminded of what this day looks like....I'd rather just sit here and drink my tea and do a blog post about who knows what and imagine that I  have a full day of  wine drinking and shoe shopping ahead of me.
I've had a few wrestling matches with Blogger the past few days.
In the old days of my blogging, I would have oodles amount of patience with Blogger and  would have fought through the issues with the fierce determination of a woman on a major mission.
These days, when Blogger gets finicky, I don't even bother to put up a fight.
I just take my cup of tea and walk away.......
Being that I blog very early in the morning, I will use that as my excuse. 
And, I call myself a morning person. 
But, I've gotta tell you, yesterday when Blogger decided to get hiccups and I got frustrated to the point of giving up,  there was this little ache inside of me.
No, I don't think it was indigestion.  
I realized that I was not giving my blog....and you for that matter.....the attention it deserved.  
That made me sad. 
I don't like being sad. 
So, I figured that to unsad myself, I had to jump start things a little and dig deep down for my blog mojo......
Gotta start somewhere.
So, I'm staring here....
Here's what's going on.....
*My Lapband has been a little fickle the past week or so.  I have found myself having some major band in once while talking on the phone with my sister, I had to excuse myself....telling her "I gotta go throw up...".   Of course, she assumed I had a stomach virus or a hangover.    I also had a very close call while eating some fish at a restaurant.....when I jumped up and ran to the restroom.....Carmen and Toni didn't even look alarmed--they just kept on eating.  Then, there was that moment in my office while eating soup (of all things!) while working through lunch at my computer.....yeah that wasn't too fun either.  
*I haven't had a fill in over a year.  So, my recent band moments drive home the belief that our bands react to what's going on with our bodies because of what's going on in our lives. Get that?.  Right now,  I am pretty sure it's stress that's messing with mine.  In addition to having a boatload of things on my mind at the office (prepping for too many events in February.....) and not enough time to do what I need to do each day (I am always playing catch-up...damn email and phones and voicemail and texting...), I am also trying desperately to get the house back to some order after the holidays to get ready for some house guests at the end of the month.  And, of course, I have the regular everyday things that cause me pause for worry--like keeping up with things I need to keep up with and this toothache that I think is not just a toothache  but I don't have the time or the energy for whatever it is.  Plus my sorority girl is still home on her semester break---in addition to dealing with her activities and her sorority-girl-on-holiday hours, I am also trying to spend time with her...mostly because I just love spending time with her.  And, as always, I have my wife-of-an executive duties that find their way to my calendar each week....not as glamorous as  is sounds....believe me....think 3 solid hours of engineer talk while I am dying to have a second martini and a cigarette.   Anyway....add that all to my dad duties and various other things that just pop up as well as being the sounding board for friends in distress and adult children who need adult children mothering......well, I get stressed.   Thus, the band moments.
*And, another thing---I don't feel as thin as I used to.  I've been finding myself wanting to go on a diet and lose like 10 pounds.  It's a thought I haven't had in a very long time.  I don't like that thinking.   Maybe I am just getting used to the skin I am living in.  Because, really...there has not been any major change on the scale.  Sure, it's jumped around 3-5 pounds over the holidays but nothing too alarming.   Did I tell you that I  developed this middle-age lump around my mid section?  Yeah, where in the hell  did that come from? 
*It's not all crazy-making shit and toiling away in Judiland.  I would be bat-crazy-wearing-moo-moos if it was!   We're taking our annual long weekend road trip for my birthday next weekend.  This year, Toni will be joining us since she will still be home for break.  We will meet up with our son the doctor so it will be a family affair.  I hope to get some time this weekend to figure out the exact agenda.....I know it will include a few wineries, some favorite shopping haunts and one or two restaurants that I heard about.   No sooner we get home from that, it will be time to pack Toni up to go back for her last semester of college.  Thankfully, right after I plop her down at school, I have a  girls-night-out planned with my spirited gal pals to help me get back into my empty nesting mode.  Then, come the end of the month, we will have a visit from some very fun friends....
*And, last but not's my birthday month.  I will be 54...yes....FIVE 11 days.   It's not that I feel old.....even though there are days when I wonder where my energy went...but, I feel like I look old.  Well, not old-old.  But, older.  Maybe because I am?  I look at pictures of myself and say....where did that line on my face come from? 
Maybe I should quit putting pictures of myself on Facebook and my Blog.....

Okay, then.
Blog mojo on. 

Time to get my Saturday on.  

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Take me away Mustard Marscapone Marsala.......

Yes, I'm thinking about food and recipes again......forgive me friends for I can't stop....

There's a certain comfort to filling the house with the smell of a wonderful meal cooking.
There's a certain comfort that comes with the anticipation of that great meal.  
Over the holidays, my house was filled with all those smells that go with the season and the wonderful comfort of anticipating a great meal with family and friends.
But, now that we are temporarily in a house-guest-lull and the frenzy of holiday comings and goings is behind us, I think this is when we might need comfort most of all.....
This past Sunday, after a hallaballoo day of trying to reignite my engines and get some semblance of order, I found myself craving some de-stressing time in the kitchen, a comforting, lingering-at-the-table-type meal and a feel-good  a glass of this amazing Barolo wine  from a West Coast friend that I am slowly and deeply becoming addicted to...
First, let's talk about the feel-good movie I chose......Hope Springs.   
If you took a moment to click the'll get the gist of the movie.
All I can say God for the amazing Barolo.  
I am not saying it was a bad movie...not at all.
What I am saying is that it's probably not the best movie to watch when you're at place in your life when you're married 30+ years, your husband is uber devoted to his work, his career is demanding, he is not home all that much, he is chained to his phone and his computer when he is home,  you have a very small amount of together time,  your life is busy with many things that are not in the least bit related to your relationship, you don't want  to complain because you are lucky enough to have a full life (plus you manage to make it all look good),  you are blessed with more than a girl could ever want and you just came off a holiday season that was filled with many, many good things and good times.....BUT....still......
So, you get what I am's all the unsaid things in your own life that are said in this movie that kind of nudges at you.....ya know?
I suppose a movie that sticks with you the way this one has.....3 days later....could be considered a good movie.....
Clearly, I don't want to get too personal here on my blog about any of what really goes on in my real life and in my head.   However, what I thought would be a feel-good movie for me ended up being one me to thinking about things that I prefer not to think about because they mess with my happy disposition and my mascara.
So, I cook.
I think that's called suppressing your feelings....
Thankfully, earlier in the day, I came across this highly-rated Giada DeLaurentis recipe on Food Network --Chicken with Mustard Marscapone Marsala Sauce.
Considering that I had every one of those darn ingredients, I just knew that was the comfort, linger-at-the-table recipe I was looking for.
Damn, it didn't disappoint.
You can always count on a great recipe to help get you over whatever you need to get over.   
The chopping of the onions and the garlic and the mushrooms were exactly what I needed.
Following a recipe that I never made before was exactly what I needed.
That Barolo......oh, I could go on and on about it....was exactly what I needed.
The sauce for this recipe   I mean....TO.DIE.FOR.
I used very meaty baby bella  and cremini mushrooms that I sliced a bit thicker to give them some weight in the sauce.   Excellent choice!  
And, since I have a bit of a problem eating pasta, I used a very thin angel hair instead of the fettucine.  But, in all honesty, a thicker pasta would have probably been better.....but, it was still super yummy.  It's really the sauce that makes this's a plate-licker sauce! 
Did I mention that the sauce is amazing?
The only thing I might do differently next time is either use thin sliced boneless breasts or pound the boneless breasts thinner.   Especially since I'm a Lapbander....
Since the chicken was not thin enough to be comfortable to eat for me, I only had a very, very small piece of it....which was delish.
It's the sauce that makes this dish.
Oh....did I say that already?
Anyway,  I highly recommend this recipe....the sauce especially.  I've fantasized about all of the things I could do with it.....I can just imagine it smothered on polenta....I'm getting sweat beads on the back of my neck just thinking about it....
And, I recommend the Barolo.
As for the movie.....let me know what you think.



Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Delayed kick off to my PERSONAL 2013......

Sometimes it just takes a week to get my footing......maybe longer.....

Yes, it's true, I am not into RESOLUTIONS. 
But, I have been considering choosing a WORD to act as my guiding light for 2013.
I'm still thinking about what that one WORD should be....

So many little time! 

 Just like everything in my life.....from shoe shopping to what to pull out of my freezer for dinner....there's so much to pick from and I want it all.....

Any suggestions? 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Switching it up......

just because it's a NEW YEAR.....

For the past few months, Saturday nights have been martinis and marabou or white wine and sparkly fashions at festive parties or fun pubs and favorite restaurants with scads of people
Last night, it was just me in my new Victoria Secret Fireside Long Janes  and  an amazing 2009 Malbec  hanging out amid a mountain of pillows in my bed.   
Ahhhhh.......I liked it.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

How could I be thinking about FOOD?

Yes, it's 5 days into the New Year and I've spent the greater part of the past 8 weeks gathering recipes, planning menus, cooking lots of food and feeding lots of people.   I've roasted, grilled, fried, sauteed, braised, broasted, boiled, broiled and blanched every meat, grain, veggie and starch on the planet.   And, right here on this blog, I've declared myself a total food waster after clearing the fridge and the freezer and the pantry.  Plus, let's not forget that I am holiday weary and have made no bones about the fact that I am in a cranky phase.  And, I *think* I might have said I'm sick to death of food.....if I didn't say it....I certainly thought it. 
So, what's the deal?
Why in the hell am I researching recipes and planning menus?
Have I completely lost my mind? 

Here's what happened.......
Sometime around the middle of the summer, my friend the caterer told me that she was thinking of doing some standard menu packages in the new year instead of just having her clients pick and choose from her long list of food offerings.  She wanted to simplify things a little bit plus she was having some inventory issues with spices and staples and serving pieces.  And, she wanted to create a brand or an image for herself to set her apart from the other caterers in the area. She wanted to pare down her selections and have only a few signature dishes and menus.   I thought it was a great idea and told her that I would love to help her come up with  the menus and decide what to keep and what not to keep.
Yeah, I said I would love to help her come up with the menus.
Ah-ha, yep, I said that.....
Now, first I must tell you that although I think she is an amazing caterer and even a more amazing friend, I have never used her catering services.  In fact, I think I may have cooked more food for her than she has ever cooked for me.  Silly, I know.  But, we sort of came to that agreement several years ago when she started her business.  Since it's been booming ever since day one, I have never felt the need to give her more business.  A fact I am sure she appreciates.    On occasion---when she has been in  a bind--I have helped her with an event either in the kitchen or serving.  It's back-breaking, exhaustive work.....I am not sure how she even does it.
I am telling you all of that as a way of explaining why I had no idea just how many foods she had on her list of offerings.    Can you say 65 different salads, 118 appetizers, 81 main dishes, 92 side dishes and a whopping 142 desserts? 
Yeah, I know.
No wonder she wanted to simplify!
Anyway, the time has come that I have to make good on my offer to help her come up with menus.
That's why I am thinking about food......once again.

Friday, January 4, 2013


some of my favorite moments of the holidays in Judiland......
It's the least I can do to get me through FRIDAY!

Kicking off the holidays at a super fun girls party--Michelle, Cathy, Terri, Patty and I.  Yes, they are all as fun as they look!  Put us all together and we write the book on F*U*N!

Hanging out with my wild and wonderful friend Patty in front of one of her many many trees. 
 She's the Hostess With The Mostess....caterer to the stars (of Pittsburgh!)!  .

Christmas Eve afternoon martinis...made by Carmen.   It's my favorite drink of the year!  It's the only time during the entire year when Carmen has the opportunity to make our drinks and leisurely sit with me and enjoy the pleasure of just being home and together--with no phone calls, no beepers, no schedule.  I'm  not sure if he is just the best martini maker in the world or if  it's just the aura of it all but it's magical.   I wait for it all year. 

Toni's First Christmas Eve martini! Daddy made it just for his little girl and  she liked it! 

Our Christmas Eve table.  I set it the night before.  What fun I had putting this together!
 I was so proud of how it turned out!

My Christmas Eve dinner place setting....just waiting for me!  You can't see it here but I had alternating red and green plate chargers and alternating red and green goblets and alternating white and green napkins. 
Yes, I drove myself a wee bit crazy with it.......

Loving our gift from cousin Sal....his home made wine!  Yes, it was HEAVY!  Yes, it tasted like home made wine...the perfect pairing for shards of Pecorino Romano cheese (and not much else...if you know what I mean.....haha!).   

Santa Carmen arrives at my sister's on Christmas Day!  He surprised everyone with fun gifts...I got silver plated personal salt and pepper shakers (for the girl who has everything, I guess!)

Getting some special  love from Santa Carmen!  He makes a good Santa...doesn't he?

My sisters and I hang out with our beloved father after an amazing dinner on Christmas Day...sporting our fancy crowns (an Irish Christmas dinner tradition)! I assure you that even though he doesn't look like he's happy....he was! 

Martini time on Carmen's birthday...shaken by me!   Not as good as the one Carmen makes on Christmas Eve but it did the trick....I was birthday-celebration ready!

Toni and I toasting Carmen on his birthday.....she's developed a liking for martini's rather quickly!  Perhaps it is true...the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree!!!

A fun day celebrating everything with my spirited girlfriends....Kate and Angela.  I just love these two!

Pre-dinner martinis at Franco's on Carmen's birthday.....they were yummy!

An  impromptu New Year's Eve Happy Hour....while we waited for the salt trucks and plows to come and take care of our roads.  It  had started snowing around 4 pm on NYE...making the roads rather nasty.  So, no one could go anywhere until it was safe for the car services and cabs to come and  pick everyone up to go to their respective places!  The snow was a blessing in disguise--- it turned out to be the only  relaxing time we were able to spend with our New Year's Eve-New Year's Day house guests. 
  I have many more holiday memories I have close to my heart that were not captured in pictures......I hope you enjoyed the ones I could share with you!   

Although the past few weeks have either been no-work-weeks or short-work-weeks and I only have 2 work days this week.....I am so ready for FRIDAY.   And, I am so so ready for a regular weekend....void of all the trappings of holiday bruhaha on top of all the normal weekend obligations and commitments. 
I'm also ready to get back to more consistent meal times and regular exercise.  The scale is not showing any major gain and my back-to-work clothes and  my jeans are just fine and I don't think I stuffed myself silly (unless you count the episodes with the peppermint bark....thank goodness that's all gone...) and I am sure all the work I did over the holidays could be considered exercise!   But, I think the irregular eating and all the out-of-ordinary foods that I consumed and the odd sleep schedule and everything else just has me feeling very icky.  
But, seeing those pictures and recalling those moments helped with the icky-ness. 

Happy Friday! 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Digging out from 2012 and a CHALLENGE!

getting ready for 2013!
Visiting the Gingerbread House display during the holidays.....

Today, while most people were returning to their regular workday schedules, I barricaded myself in my house and began the process of de-holidaying.  Now, even though I began this work in the very early morning hours, I have not completed it.  Given the looks of things, it may be mid-January or perhaps even late January until everything is complete. 

We had a very lovely yet super busy 6 weeks---lots of cooking, lots of entertaining, lots of cleaning up, lots of comings and goings and partying and restauranting and falalaing.  Although we had a few very, very last minute changes in after-Christmas and New Years Eve and Day travel plans--due to weather and unexpected house guests that stayed longer than anticipated---it was nice to be surrounded by friends and family and enjoy the festive atmosphere in our home along with them. 

As I think I've shared many times---I am a big lover of the holiday season and all that goes with it.  I  willingly and happily tire myself into oblivion with all the cooking and decorating and shopping and partying and everything else.   But, come January 2, I am just one big heep of  crankiness.  I look around at all the aftermath and the work that has to be done to undo all the work that I did for 6 solid weeks and I am ready to crumble to the floor in tears and misery. 
Not a pretty messes with my looks.... 

This year,  I hit the ground running on November 1, 2012 and literally hit the ground January 1, 2013 after dinner. Up until that moment in time, I was jolly and full of energy and merriment.  Then, my holiday switch went off!   I didn't even have the energy to clean up after our New Year's Day dinner.   So, as soon as our unexpected New Year's Eve and  New Year's Day house guests walked out the door, I perched myself on the couch and starred at the TV----I didn't have the energy to change the channel.  Because of my inability to switch the channel,  I am now completely caught up with the happenings of Dance Moms (a show about a Pittsburgh area dance school that sometimes makes me embarrassed to once have been a Dance Mom in Pittsburgh!)since there was a Dance Moms marathon on!   Now I'm  informed and interested enough to tune in for their new season to see just what is going to happen with Kelly and her girls......   

One of my projects today was to clear the fridge of all the holiday foods that have been lingering in there for far too long.   As with most projects I do, it grew many arms. Soon, I found myself forging through the freezer and the pantry as well---growling as I went.   When I was finished, I had loaded up 3 garbage bags, 2  empty wine boxes and 1 empty beer case with food to be trashed.  As I sat on the floor of my kitchen looking at everything that I would be clandestinely toting out to the trash in the darkness of night, I couldn't help but think how absolutely wasteful I am.  I didn't even have the stomach to think about the money that was being trashed or about those people who go without while I stuff my home with enough food to feed a small community.   As I went about the business of laundering the holiday linens, putting away all the holiday china and crystal and banishing the holiday platters and tureens and bowls to their non-holiday homes, I was tortured by the question of what possess me to have so much food in the house!   I fully admit that when I need comfort or when I am stressed, I always find myself in the kitchen cooking up more food than my little family could ever eat.  And, I definitely love visiting grocery stores and finding new ingredients and traveling far and wide to visit culinary treasures.  Plus, I am pretty sure that I equate food with love.  Perhaps it's the Italian in me.    Yet, no matter, it just nagged away at me......pushing me further into my after-the-holidays misery.......WHY DO I HAVE SO MUCH FOOD IN THIS HOUSE? 
THEN....I remembered something that my son the doctor told me about......
When I was helping him move into his new home, I took on the job of stocking his pantry, his fridge and his freezer.  Of course.   I did an amazing job if I could say so myself!    It allowed me to leave him in his new home knowing he will never starve....

Upon seeing his overflowing pantry, fridge and freezer, he reminded me that he was a single man who will probably only eat one meal a day in his home on weekdays and maybe 2 meals a day in his home on weekends.  And, although he loves to cook, he couldn't imagine needing every spice on the planet.  Plus, did I forget that he makes it a rule to eat healthy?   Then, he laughed a bit and acknowledged that he should have known what to expect when he allowed his mother to take on the job of stocking his pantry, fridge and freezer.  
 A few days later, he told me that he was considering doing a PANTRY CHALLENGE in order to be a better steward of resources (and to use up all the stuff I stocked his home with!).   The challenge would be to live for one month using everything in his pantry, his fridge and his freezer while only shopping for fruits, veggies and dairy.  He explained that in addition to being more respectful of resources,  the challenge would also force him to be more experimental with his cooking--something he thought he would enjoy.  At the time, with his new job and work travel commitments, he knew that he would not be able to do it until early in the new year.  But, he was sure he would still have enough stockpiled to take on the challenge at that time.  
My wheels starting turning.  
I SHOULD DO A PANTRY CHALLENGE.  Judi-style, of course!  
A Pantry Challenge might be just what I need to help me understand our food consumption better and to force me to be more mindful of what I am buying and cooking. 
Plus, I might find some new recipes along the way.......
Since I can't do the challenge in January.....due to the fact that my daughter will still be home and we will be hosting some house guests throughout the month as well as doing some entertaining (YES again!)......I have decided that I will be doing my Pantry Challenge beginning February 1. 

 WHO wants to join me????