Follow me.......

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter.......

Step away from the jelly beans!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Friday is always GOOD......

May you be filled with peace and blessings on this GOOD FRIDAY......

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Fessing up: I've been lied to and I am suffering......

The way I've been feeling everyday!!!! 

Last week when the calendar told me it was supposed to be Spring, I believed it.
I'm a fool.  I'm trusting like that.   

The snow and the cold weather just kept on coming.
No matter what the calendar said.
Sure, I managed to deal with it for a few days. 
I figured if I hung on to the hope that it all soon be over, I could make it through.  
But, now, I feel completely betrayed.
I am out of sorts and just downright sick and tired of waking up every single day to snow and cold weather.......
My blog is now suffering from my state of mind.
Yes, I've been in complete hibernation.  I've pulled the covers over my head in the morning and just vegged-out on the couch each night.   I've been hosting massive having pity parties for myself. 
To make matters worse--I feel guilty for my behavior.   
It's so not me!

I'm not promising my hibernating and pity partying is over quite yet but at least I found the drive to sit down at my computer this morning to share my angst and misery and to tell you that I am sorry for being gone from Stories from the Road.....
I know I should just feel lucky to alive and in good health but for some reason, that's just not cutting it right now.  Typically, I am optimistic and work very hard to pay no mind to the things that are out of my control so that I can keep my sunny, bright disposition going no matter what. 
But, this is just too much. 
I don't want to clean my car off again.
I don't want to shovel snow.
I don't want to wear my boots and my winter coat.
I don't want to worry about road conditions and my hair getting wet.
Honestly, I just want was promised me......a little sunshine and non-freezing temps.
That's not too much for a girl to ask for, is it?

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Here, there and everywhere.......

That's where I've been.  

My sorority girl has been home for Spring Break and we've been breakin' in Spring. 
Unfortunately, it's been anything but Spring around these parts.
Cold? Yep.
Windy? Yep.
Snow? Yep.
Ice? Yep.
Freezing rain? Yep.
Despite the less-than-Spring-like weather and in between doctor visits and dental procedures, we've managed to sneak in quite a robust  and busy week-about-town.  
We laughed.
We talked.
We shopped.
We lunched.
We dinnered.
We happy houred.
We cooked.
We baked.
We cocktailed.
We wined.
We shopped some more.
We talked some more.
We laughed some more.
And, yes, we even cried.  

Although it hasn't been fun-n-games 24/7,  I think we did pretty good despite that fact.  
I'm pretty proud of us for making the best of it.  
It definitely helps that I absolutely refuse to let anything not-so-fun-and-not-so-nice to get in the way of enjoying the precious time I have with my children and I will go to the ends of the earth to put a smile on their lives.
So, we have to deal with a little lousy weather, some heartaches, some pain and a tad bit of misery?
Bring it on.  
I mean....whatta ya gonna do?
You might as well put on your Happy Pants and go here, there and everywhere.....
And, that's just what we are going to do again today.  
No. Matter. What. 


Sunday, March 17, 2013

My wish for you this blessed St. Patrick's Day morn..... 

May your neighbors respect you,
Trouble neglect you,
The angels protect you,
And heaven accept you. 

God Bless you today and everyday!  

Saturday, March 16, 2013


If it's St. Pat's Parade know where to find me.....

Look for the girl wearing GREEN.....

Friday, March 15, 2013

Getting my GREEN on......

but.....before I do that, I have to make a little road trip......

Yes, it's Spring Break in Collegeland.....the last Spring Break for my sorority girl.  
So, I'm hopping in the car to go and snatch her from the grips of her sorority sisters and I'm bringing her home to celebrate  ST. PATRICK'S DAY WEEK with her mother......
Oh, we have so much planned.....
They will finally let her in the bars.  I won't have to leave her out on the street anymore to watch the parade go by.  Did I really do that?  I will never tell. 

More wearing of the GREEN and celebrating with family.  No green beer or corned beef and cabbage in our house!!!  
Although, this recipe  from one of my favorite foodie bloggers might be worth trying.....if anyone in my house would eat it!!!  

Yes, even St. Patrick can't save my little girl from two solid days in the grips of her Italian dentist.

MOM AND DAUGHTER DAY OUT......Spa, Lunch, Shopping!
A sweet reward for my sorority girl for making it through a week where she would rather be on a beach.  And, a super duper sweet reward for me.....for so many reasons.   

Happy Friday.......

Thursday, March 14, 2013

When life gives you LEMONS......

Squeeze them, put them over ice and add vodka.....

Carry on.......

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Getting my money's worth.....

I won't lie, I always believed that when you are spending money on have to get your money's worth.  Or more. 
Most people probably agree with me....
Hey we work hard for our money.....
As I told you--this past weekend, my gal pals and I went to The Grand Concourse for their Sunday brunch.  It's definitely not the place to go if you are watching your wallet or looking to limit your intake of food.  Although I never have a problem with paying  for good, quality food, top notch service and perfect drinks,  this place can be considered  pretty pricey for a brunch.  Plus, they charge close to $15 for my beloved Hendrick martini. Just sayin'
Now, even though the brunch is a bit pricey, I have to admit that the selection of food and the amount of food is way over the top.  Way way over the top.  Since the brunch is your only choice for Sunday afternoon dining (you cannot order off the menu), you have no choice but to partake in this foodie spectacular. 
The place is always jammed with out-of-town visitors and people celebrating momentous occasions.  Even with reservations, you can expect a hefty wait.  For us, the wait was no problem.....we were happy to linger at the adjoining bar...the Gandy Dancer ( I talked about that on Monday).....
Food stations overflowing with huge quantities of food everywhere you look!
Sunday Brunch at the Grand Concourse is probably not the best place for a Lapbanded girl.  But, if you are okay with just having the experience of being in such a gorgeous place--rich with Pittsburgh history, oozing with atmosphere and brimming with grandeur and you don't care much about making sure you get your money's worth and your main reason to be there is to enjoy the company of someone(s) special, then all is right with the world.   A martini or two doesn't hurt either. 
Since I wasn't spending my time in search of food or trolling the food stations, I had the luxury of just observing the other diners when  my friends would scamper off in search of their latest foodie conquest.  And, just for the fun of it, a few times I did stroll around to soak up the ambiance and watch the look of thrill on people's faces when they spied something they loved.    The donut machine was one of  the more popular places---as was the bananas foster bar.   The lines at those stations never seemed to go down.   Every donut and bananas foster lover in the tri-state area had to be there....

How can people eat so much?   I asked myself as I watched people pass by my table with plates piled high with everything you could imagine.   Oh yeah, they don't have Lap bands. 
And, they want to get their money's worth.....

Of course, being a girl who does enjoy good food, I  did eat.  I'm not that crazy.  But, knowing that I wanted to enjoy the experience (as in--I didn't want to have a Lap band moment right there at the table), I took a little of this and a little of that and ate very slowly...making sure not to use that time to test my Lapband.   I chose foods that I enjoy and experimented with some things I never had at the restaurant.   Their version of Salmon Rockefeller was scrumptious  and I just loved their renditions of mussels pommes frites and battered calamari.   Even though I do love those foods, I would not have ordered them from the menu since I have other favorites that I would prefer to order if I was eating from the menu.  But, since they were on the buffet offerings, I got to enjoy them.  And, it was especially wonderful that I could enjoy them in a smaller quantity than a full portion size.  So, I didn't feel like I wasted my money just because I didn't get to gorge on everything in sight.  In fact,  I considered it money well spent---simply because I got to enjoy a few yummy  things in moderation.  
The only bad thing about going to a pricey brunch and eating a small amount of food is that you do get hungry by dinner time.   Just as my girlfriends were saying "OH MY GOD, I AM STILL SO STUFFED" for the 52nd time, I was thinking about dinner.  "Who's ready for dinner?" is definitely not the question I thought I should  be asking as we sat at a clubby little bar drinking frothy alcohol-laced latte concoctions.
Lucky for me, Carmen was picking me up around 7:30 pm and I knew he would be starving by that point.  I figured he would be ready to eat--especially after he heard about all the decadence of the brunch buffet.     After I told him about the copious amounts of food that I spent the day surrounded by and how much I spent on my  food,  the poor guy was shocked when I announced that I was hungry and NO, I would not be cooking....hey I had 2 martinis, a  pretty cosmo and a hot chocolate spiked with Grand Marnier (oh yum!). I was a dinner-date-in-the-making. 
As Carmen and I  sat in one of our favorite little neighborhood establishments--where we often go when we just want to relax with a good meal---with him enjoying his favorite Reuben sandwich and me savouring my appetizer portion of mussels-a-la-marinara, he asked me if the brunch was worth the money--especially for me.  He pointed out that it seemed like there was a lot of food for the money but not a good place for me to go to get my money's worth.    
 "After all, I had to take you to dinner...." he pointed out.
"And, that, my dear is why it's been a perfectly wonderful day,"  I told him.  "You always get your money's worth when you spend time with the people you love....."

He then accused me of being  a little tipsy.
I was just trying to tell him that we both got our money's worth....

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Can you say LBD?


ATTENTION: You can't really click to buy from this pic but the link for more info is below. .

Have I got a treat for you today!
First of all, we all know that every woman needs to have a little black dress. 
It's one of the golden rules of being a woman.
But, let's face it.....if you are like me and have battled with weight for most of your adult life, that little black dress was never THAT LITTLE.  
Who ever heard of a BIG BLACK DRESS?  Who wants to buy a BIG BLACK DRESS?  Only if your Aunt Birtha dies....
Well, if you're anything like me, once you got some weight off, black was NOT the color you were going to buy.
Hell, us fat girls have closets full of BLACK.
 I was never at a loss as to what to wear to a funeral. Black. Black. Black. 
 I spent more money on black pants in my lifetime than I spent on cars.....
Losing weight meant breaking out of the world of black fashions.
Bring on the color, kids.
I am gonna strut my stuff in RED and YELLOW and......well, you get the picture.
However, once all the thrill of color clothes shopping wears off, there comes a time when you just have to get yourself that little black dress.  
 If, for no other reason than you have to own a little black dress. 
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
But, I wanna save my money for other things like colored skinny jeans, some sassy sandals I've been salivating over and everything in the Chico's summer catalog. 
Enter one of my favorite fashion blogs.......Penny Pincher Fashion and my life was saved.
It turns out I can have my LBD and everything else I so desire (shhh, don't tell my husband that).
The LBD she is wearing in that you know where it's from?
Trust me, if I would have known where it was from before I clicked on the link, I may not have clicked on the link.   Call me a bit of a snob but I have never put the words LBD and Walmart together.   Turns out, this LBD is $20.....yes 20 buckeroos.  Can you say cheap LBD?
Now before you go all postal on me here, I have to tell you.....I trust this blogger.
No, I don't know her.  No, I never met her.  She might be catfishing me and all of her followers for all I know.....but.....hear me out.  I took the bait.   Yeah, I'm easy like that.   I bought not only the classic fit but also the curvy fit (and if the one with the pockets wasn't sold out, I would have bought that one too!).   $40.  And, because the dresses were a steal and the shipping was so cheap, I chose to have them shipped quickly.....I just had to see for myself if nice  $20 LBDs  really existed.....(and I'm impatient like that)
Guess what?
They do!  

Btw.....they are not carried in the have to buy them online.    
They fit true-to-size for me!  
Double woo-hoo! 

Monday, March 11, 2013

MOTHERS: Never let your daughters be without girlfriends......

Rene, Katie and I--St. Pat's Parade Day 2012.  Yesterday, we got together to kick off St. Pat's Parade Day week!

Yesterday, before going to a fancy brunch at the Grand Concourse, two of my favorite  college friends and I met for a few cocktails at one of our favorite hang outs of yesteryears.....The Gandy Dancer Saloon ( this also one of my all time favorite places where Carmen and I just love to go when we get a chance).  It's a place where we spent many, many happy hours when the 3 of  us  were single and just beginning our careers.  Those 3 young women of the late 70's and early 80's were quite different than the 3 women who sat at the bar yesterday not chatting about careers and boyfriends. Yes, we toasted those old boyfriends with roaring laughter and we toasted our winding-down careers with great relief but we had better things to chat about than things that don't really matter all that much to us anymore.  Katie brought a big basket of her home made scones and talked about her new love of baking and shared her wedding pictures from her fun summer wedding. And, Rene showed off pictures of her newly renovated mini-mansion and educated us on materials and lighting and decorating challenges.  And, I, of course,  just talked and talked and talked until I practically lost my voice.
 Although we are many years older and the bartender no longer knows our names and we are drinking higher shelf booze, somehow it all felt the same. The three of us sitting at the beautiful bar, surrounded by dark wood, beautiful windows and lots of memories.  It's one of those places that hasn't changed in years--everything looks and smells and feels the same.  But, then again, its so iconic that it never needs to change.   It was the place where the 3 of us celebrated milestones--big and small--with the same exuberance and joy as we celebrated a week coming to an end.  .  Yes, those were the days of hope and wonder.   It was a good place---easy for a meet up,close to public transportation and filled with like folks---young professionals looking for a more grown-up way to relive their college life.  It was the perfect place for 3 girls like us who loved to dress up, have a few drinks, meet new people,  laugh a lot and share our life's adventures. 
And, life sure gave us adventures along the way......
Although we each followed separate paths, we always managed to find at least one day a year (St. Pat's Parade Day) to get together and share a drink or two and a few laughs and sometimes even a dance.  Even when we didn't see each other except for Parade Day....we kept in touch......even if it was just to share some news or to find comfort in the sound of a comforting voice.   From the last time we left that bar together until yesterday when we reconvened at that same bar........our lives have marched on.....
All 3 of us married within weeks of each other and had our first children within a few months of each other.  I'm still with the same two friends found better husbands than their first ones.  Those first children we  all had in 1985 are all grown now---all of them doing interesting things---my one friend's son has just found himself on a network TV show and my other friend's son is embarking on a whole new career--leaving his  rock and roll guitar playing dreams behind for a job that actually plays the bills and, of course, my son is doing whatever Phd Computer Scientists do....
We had so much to talk about and laugh about that we never wanted to the day to end.
We promised we would go back again soon.

Oh, and by the way--- my Hendrick's martini was amazing.
My second one was perfect too.

Yes, I've  come a long every way.   
I'm glad my girlfriends came that long way with me.

Sunday, March 10, 2013


Sound the horns!  Ring the bells!  Bang the pots!  Whistle Dixey!  Dance the jig! Ding the cash registers!  Throw me a bag of pistachios! 

Although I have ventured into grocery stores to pick up perishable items during my self imposed grocery shopping hiatus to take on my Pantry Challenge, I don't really call that grocery shopping. 
 In my world, grocery shopping is an experience.  Picking up perishable items while trying to avoid roaming up and down all of the aisles and not perusing shelves and not making a few impulse purchases here and there is NOT GROCERY SHOPPING.  It just isn't.  Period. That's it.  
You can imagine my total delight when a dear friend called late yesterday morning to tell me that she and her husband had popped into town for a business function and by some complete fluke, they got the date wrong and found themselves 2 hours from home, in a not-so-great hotel with nothing at all to do last night.  Oh poor them.  Oh lucky  me!  I just hated to benefit from their blunder but I saw it as a perfect excuse to throw together a little dinner party....just for them!  So, I rounded up two fun couples who I knew would love to see them and I set my mind to dinner party planning mode.  And, you know me....I just love to make myself  a whole lotta crazy just a wee bit crazy with the details.....
Since I didn't have a "theme" in mind, I dug through my very impressive supply of cocktail napkins in the hopes of getting some inspiration.   Once I had an idea in place, I consulted my entertaining log to check on a few things that I had done in the past that might fit the bill.  Then,I visited some of my favorite go-to recipe and party sites for a little more inspiration.
After several zany, downright maniacle hours  Before I knew it, I had a plan in place
Retro dinner party here we come.....
Oh dear, I'd have to go grocery shopping....

Yes, friends, it was luxurious.  
In a span of just two hours, I had fed my need to GROCERY SHOP at 3 of my favorite local places......
Trader Joes
Uncommon Market
Williams Sonoma


After a delightful happy hour of martinis and manhattans and this great Baked Brie recipe (I used apricot preserves)......we sat down and chatted and laughed and yummed and yummed and smacked our lips  through this amazing recipe....

Recipe: Pistachio Lime Baked Salmon {}

Summary: Easy entertaining recipe. Adapted from Taste of Home 5 Ingredient Recipes.


  • 6 salmon fillets (6 ounces each)
  • 1 cup pistachios, chopped
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 3 T. lime juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dill weed
  • 1 1/2 tsp. pepper


  1. Place the salmon in a 9×13 sprayed baking dish. (Usually I rinse the fillets first.)
  2. Pat salmon fillets with paper towel to remove any excess water.
  3. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a small bowl. Spoon over the salmon.
  4. Bake at 425 for 12-15 minutes or until the fish is done.
  5. Don’t overcook the salmon. Use the back of a spatula to press down on the salmon to feel if it’s cooked. If the spongy feeling is gone, and the salmon is firm, then it is cooked!
  6. Remove from the oven immediately and serve.
Preparation time: 10 minute(s)
Cooking time: 15 minute(s)

Ahhhhh......everything is so right with the world. 
Today, I am meeting two fab friends for a ladies-do-lunch-and-shop day.
Maybe I will stop at The Market District on my way to meet them......
DOUBLE Ahhhhhhhhh!!!!!  

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Friday, March 8, 2013

Meet Mazzamurru.......

For my final installation of  my weekly Pantry Challenge Reviews.......I thought I'd rock your socks off with a dish that I had never, ever, ever heard of.....I mean never, ever. 
Could there be an amazing Italian dish that I never knew existed?  That I never tasted?  That I never cooked?
Clearly, my Italian relatives and my Italian in-laws have been keeping this from me.
Although, I sort of suspect that I don't know about mazzamurru because it hails from the Isle of Sicily. 
Sicily is a place the up-standing Italians don't speak of.....
Well, I don't give a hoot-a if this recipe comes from the Mafia-infested streets of Sicily or if this recipe is made in the kitchens of known criminals.....I do not discriminate when it comes to good food.....especially if there's cheese.....
Plus, this recipe was made for a PANTRY CHALLENGE from its inception! By making it, I felt like I was saluting a time-honored Italian tradition.  It is a recipe that was developed during a desolate and poor time thus it was specifically created with the goal to use everything edible you had in your house.  It was borne out of necessity but beloved due to the joy it brought to the table.....
As an aside note.....although I never heard of this recipe in mazzamurru was never a word I ever I was putting it together, I was transported back to my mother's little kitchen on Dwight Avenue where she would make her Sunday sauce each week while my father took us to Mass.  Sometimes, when we would come back from Mass and she didn't have the time or inclination to make a big bacon and eggs breakfast...she would treat us to big chunks of Italian bread smothered in sauce and dusted with freshly grated parmesean or romano cheese.   For me, it was a delicious tease of what was to come......a Sunday at the table with a big bowl of my mother's pasta....

I love you Mazzamurru for bringing me back to that little kitchen of my childhood where my mother in her apron would cook with love..... 
And, I love you because you taste so good!
My friends.....let me introduce you to the one and only......Mazzamurru.... 
This is so yummy......
 Note:  You can use your own sauce recipe or your favorite jarred sauce if you would like....
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to trickle
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
 I large can of  plum tomatoes
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 
Pinch of sugar 
1 loaf of slightly stale Italian or other crusty bread
1/2 log of Fresh Mozarella---cut into cubes
Freshly grated parmesan or romano cheese (or, a combination)
Heat the oil in a large frying pan, add the onion and sweat gently for 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a couple of minutes more.
Crush the tomatoes and tip into the pan. Season, and add a pinch of sugar. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Don't cook it any more because you want the sauce to stay quite wet and juicy. Taste and add more salt, pepper or sugar as needed to produce a nice, savory sauce.
Meanwhile, cut the bread into 1-1.5cm thick slices. Tip a little less than half the tomato sauce --into a lasagna dish or deep pie dish. Arrange half the bread pieces over the tomato, tearing them to fit into a roughly even layer and pressing them down lightly into the sauce. Trickle with a little olive oil and scatter with salt and pepper.  Arrange half the mozzarella over the bread, then top with a good grating of cheese. Spread the remaining sauce over the bread and top with the remaining bread pieces, pushing them down a little. Trickle with more oil, scatter over the remaining mozzarella and finish with a grating of cheese. Bake for about 25 minutes on 400 degrees, until golden and bubbling. Leave to settle for 10 minutes or so, and serve.   Then, sit back and wait for the compliments!
But, not the end of my PANTRY.......

Thursday, March 7, 2013

JUDI FACTOID: Well behaved women are sick!

 Thank Goodness I've been misbehaving! 
Was I sleeping on the martini drinking job?

At the moment,I think my misbehavin' ways have protected me from the evils of the cold  and flu season! 

For the past week, I've been *this close* to a cold.  Sniffles. Sneezing. Wheezing.  Sore throat.  Head ache.  Random body aches.  Cold.  Hot.  Not feeling that good.  Not feeling that bad.
While the rest of the world around me has been taken down by one dastardly illness or another---my sister,my nephew, my father, coworkers, the woman in front of me at CVS are all suffering---I have been spared a full-blown illness that would keep me down or allow me to curl up on the couch and watch movies or languish in my bed for hours on end, ringing my bell, calling for my tea.....
So,I just walk around whining a little here, moaning a little there, sniffling a bit, coughing a bit and popping cold meds when I get the inkling to do so.
Don't I deserve to get sick enough to be waited on and felt sorry for?
When I was younger, my mother used to say that my Aunt Sarah was too pickled and misbehaved to be sick. 
My mother was referring to my dear Aunt Sarah's penchant for younger men and whiskey.
Even though my mother baked cakes and cooked up a storm a few times in anticipation of Aunt Sarah's imminent death, Aunt Sarah actually outlived my mother by more than 2 decades.
Although younger men hold no fascination for me and I am not a whiskey drinker, I often think that perhaps a little misbehavin' and picklin' is not such a bad idea. 

By the way, did I mention that I've been gargling with Vodka?
Please don't tell Carmen I've been nipping at his bottle of  Goose. I can't waste my gin.
Why am I gargling with Carmen's mid-grade Vodka?
Well..... I had a back tooth break off and then it started throbbing and swelling. 
So, I took matters into my own hands.
Although I heard I should gargle with warm salt water, I didn't want to risk infection.  
Hello Grey Goose.  So long Morton's!  

Tonight,I shall drink to my health!

Tomorrow, I shall gargle to my health!   


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Mr. Winter: YOU are SO excused!

We live and breathe by this logo!

Come March, we are supposed to be easing out of winter and gently gliding into Spring.
As a lifelong Pittsburgher, I have no  clue why I still think that to be true.  
I am an optimist,I suppose.  
Or,maybe I just don't learn from experience.....
(most likely it's a combination of the two) 
Case in point..... 
One of the largest snow storms of my lifetime occurred on St. Patrick's Parade Day, 1993.  
20 years ago and it's still be talked about........
Fast forward to parade day 2012.......and we had record breaking 80 degree temps.
You just never know what March in Pittsburgh will be like.  
I know that.
You know I know that.
Ah, the fickleness of March!   

At the moment, as the snow flurries fly and I prepare to make my way through whatever Mother Nature has in store for me this morning, I just want winter to go away..... 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Honesty is the best policy.....

...especially when it comes to being honest with yourself! 

I am not as innocent as I look......

The other night, as I found myself rustling through our hidden pile of snacks and evil foods, I had this moment of thrill---no one was there to see me.....I could eat whatever I wanted!  
Chocolate candy?  No problem.....even though I said I would not eat it during Lent....
Ranch potato chips?  Even though they weren't my favorite......
Girl Scout Cookies?  Yes, I was saving them for my children.....
Cheez-Its?   As stale as they were....

Fast forward to the following morning when I was wrestling with a pair of beloved pants, it hit me.....the only person I was fooling was myself.  And, the only person paying the price was.....ME.
As I looked in the mirror at my reflection, I tried to recall the times when those pants went on without effort.   It all seemed so easy back then....
 I didn't want to work myself into a complete frenzy or throw myself on the bed in despair as I had always done during my fat girl days.  I wanted to analyze the situation, figure out a way to work on it and formulate a plan.   I desperately wanted to not be impulsive or as unreasonable as I was during my fat girl days. 
So, I started with a basic question-- What had changed?  
Well, for one thing....the size of my belly had changed.   That was a no-brainer. UGH!
The scale had was 10 pounds over what it was a few months ago.  Yes, it's true. 
And, I was pretty sure something in my head had changed.  
The head thing was the hardest thing to figure out.  As it always is.  
I stood there telling myself that I swore off dieting when I got my Lap band.
I promised myself that I would no longer go in search of a  magic pill to keep me away from the snacks and the evil foods or from overeating.
I had made a commitment to not spend another dime or another resource on shedding pounds. 
I declared a STOP to work out programs that I could not maintain as a way of life! 
But, it was ONLY 10 pounds.  Surely, I could get those off using some magic method like pills or joining a diet program or getting shots or buying the latest diet book or doing some kick-ass work out for a week or so.....
Or, maybe I could just do it all together---pills, program, work out.....YES! 
No one would have to know....I wouldn't tell anyone what I was doing. 
I'd do it all in secret.  

Why was I thinking like that? 
Haven't I learned a damn thing? 

Monday, March 4, 2013


Just when I think my band has gone and forgotten about me, it sends me a great big reminder that it's still there.....
I'm not sure why it chooses the most inconvenient time to decide to speak to me but good God, it walloped it to me good this time.....
Although I guess I should know better than to schedule a  family dinner with all of my sorority girl's favorite foods right before we have to get on the road  for a long  car trip back to collegeland and back home again....
Clearly, that wasn't wise thinking.  
Three bites into that chicken parmesean and I was seeing stars.....whoa wasn't pretty.
No, it wasn't pretty at all.  
How could something so beautiful be so mean to me? 
Did I mention that I made a rockin' wine and appetizer buffet for everyone as I put together dinner?
Well, I did.
Although I only had one glass of wine.....because I had to make that long drive.....I definitely indulged in the superb Asiago cheese that we had saved in the freezer from the holidays and I enjoyed a few squares of sauteed polenta with one of my pantry staples-----Trader Joe's roasted red pepper and eggplant spread.   
So, maybe those pre dinner treats caused just a wee bit of a problem when dinner time came around. 
Or perhaps it was the few bites of Caesar Salad that I snuck in before dinner....

Or, maybe it was just my Lapband telling me that I am not paying enough attention.
If that's the case......
Dear Lapband,
I heard you loud and clear.  I need to get back to the basics of Lapband living......eating small quantities, chewing very well, not drinking while eating.....
I got it. 
If there was ever a night when I was more miserable, I can't remember it.  I am still trembling from it all. 
Why did you have to pick a time when I was going to be driving on dark and windy roads during a pretty nasty snow fall to remind me that I you are alive and well and doing your job?     
Although I know you probably thought you were doing it for my own good, I am still a little too pissed off at you right now to say a proper THANK YOU.  
Maybe tomorrow.....

Love, Judi 

P.S. Yes, it's true....I refuse to take responsibility for this situation.   I can be very unreasonable when I am exhausted and it's MONDAY......

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Blessed be thy Sunday.....

Easy like Sunday Morning.....

These are the moments that are easy to love. 

The smell of Carmen's coffee brewing.
The whistling of my tea pot. 
A fire in the fireplace.
The Sunday paper on the sidewalk.
There's music.
Always music.  

Carmen always decides what type of music we will listen to.....since he's usually up and working at his desk at some ungodly hour.    His choice of Sunday morning music is always different from the type of music we  choose to listen to in real life.  
In real life, we love Rock n Roll. All. The. Time. 
On Sunday mornings---we shuffle around in our slippers and robes, I make my pot of tea and Carmen works on whatever he is working on--to jazz or soft rock or classical.
Today it's smooth jazz.    
Perhaps on Sunday mornings, we feel middle-aged more  grown up......with the coffee brewing and the  quiet comfort of knowing that the Sunday paper has arrived.
Although we always need Rock and Roll in our life.....smooth jazz is good too.  

On this Sunday, I feel especially blessed.
Our beloved sorority girl came home for a quick visit and is sleeping under her pink ruffled canopy at the top of the stairs...... 

Back to jazz and tea and my Sunday paper....

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Do the words FREE FOOD get your attention?

Me?  I feel kinda funny about FREE FOOD.
I'm not sure if it's my upbringing or something much deeper but I just don't like the whole dash to the free food line.
Sure, I am good with trying samples at restaurants or food stores.
But, free lunches or knowing that someone else is buying my food or  buying food for my family is not my thing.  
It  just makes me feel uncomfortable. 
And, the people who just run to the free food  just because it's FREE make me uncomfortable too. 
Let's be honest....there really is nothing wrong with any of it.  
It's me.....not them. 

Most likely, part of why I don't like the whole free food thing is that I am not one of  those people who feel entitled to anything.
Truth-- I am not too smitten with people who do feel entitled to anything.   
When it comes to free food---perhaps the other part of my FREE FOOD AVERSION has to do with my many years of being so damn weight conscious. You know....I was always so worried that someone would ridicule me or make me feel ashamed.....

Now, I know I might have been right.....
A few weeks ago, one of my spirited friends invited a few of us to a corporate event that her company was having to launch a pretty big product that she had been working onIt was held at a swanky place in town.  She promised that the booze would be flowing, the food would be non stop and the entertainment would be incredible.  EVERYTHING FREE.  And, she wasn't kidding.  The liquor and the wine was top shelf and the food displays were beyond spectacular and the entertainment was amazing--strolling musicians, jugglers, artists and magicians .    My friends and I decided to meet up at the establishment's bar to have a before-party drink.  We all admitted to feeling a little bit funny about participating in such an elaborate event that we had absolutely nothing at all to do with nor would we ever have anything to do with.  It just didn't feel right.  So, we hung around the bar and chatted for a bit.  After awhile, our friend whose company was hosting the party came to find us.  She was concerned that we hadn't come into the party.  When we told her how we felt, she laughed out loud---"you wouldn't be the only people who would have had nothing to do with any of this or would have no future intention of having anything to do with it".    She went on to tell us that they actually have many, many people who just come for the FREE FOOD AND BOOZE---"they make a pig of themselves.  They would never eat or drink as much if they had to pay....come on in and I will point them out to you!  It's like a show in itself!"  she offered.  Although it sounded like a creepy way to have a good time, we all went into the party and stood by as she pointed to particular people and asked us to watch their behavior. 
It was pretty incredible.  
"Here comes a waiter with a new tray of appetizers.....just watch what happens," she instructed.
Sure enough, the waiter was mobbed with people.
"Not one of those people have anything to do with our product.....not even the fat woman who loaded her dish with almost the entire tray!"   she told us with a hint of disgust.
"OOOOH......look over there....they just put the chocolate fountain out!"  she said pointing across the room to a table mobbed with people.
I noticed the fat woman heading in that direction, trying to balance her dish while popping appetizers in her mouth.  I was embarrassed for her and ashamed of us for watching her.
"Yep, there she goes!"  my friend howled, slapping her leg and pointing at the fat woman. 
Just then, a colleague of my friend's came over to join our group.
"The fat freeloaders are out in full force tonight!"  he said, rolling his eyes.
I didn't know what to make of it all.  These fat freeloaders didn't seem like they were homeless....they were all dressed in business attire.  They didn't seem like they couldn't afford to eat.
Trying to defend these fat freeloaders, I piped up"but they were invited for the FREE FOOD AND DRINKS...Right?
My friend's colleague rolled his eyes and gave a knowing look to my friend. 
"Do you go to every FREE FOOD event that you get an email about?"  my friend asked me.
"No, I can't be bothered.  But, still, they were invited for FREE FOOD AND DRINKS...."  I asserted.
"Right.  They were.  We sent out an email blast to over 2000 people.   Over 75% of them are people who just get their names on FREE FOOD lists!"  my friend's colleague pointed out.
"We see the same people doing the same thing at all of the vendor events that we go to.  These are the people who RUN FOR FREE FOOD! Do they really have to make a pig of themselves just because it's FREE....I guess so!!!"  my friend shook her head in mock disgust.
"THE SAME PEOPLE!"  she repeated for effect.
"Well, that is just wrong,"  another friend chirped.
Still, I couldn't fault the fat freeloaders.   "Then, why does your company and all those vendors do these types of things when surely none of you will ever make a profit from them?  It seems like a big waste of money!"
My friend and her colleague shrugged their shoulders and gave a little laugh.
"It's business!  And, it gives us something to laugh about while we are here because we would prefer not to be here!  Like I said---the fat freeloaders are our entertainment!"  my friend said.
"Plus, it's great water cooler talk!"  her colleague chimed in.

There's nothing FREE about FREE FOOD.......

Friday, March 1, 2013

Pantry Challenge.......Week 4 Review

Weren't we just talking about Christmas?

Finally, finally, finally,  this week, I reached into my pantry and started pulling out things to use to whip up recipes I never made before! 
There were a few challenging moments.....but, oooh,  it felt  so good.....
I thought I would share with you a few of the winners.....

For some insane reason, I found myself with 6 jars of Classico Alfredo Sauce.  All of them with a 2014 expiration date.  Perhaps I had a sudden Alfredo sauce craving  or I was just going through an Alfredo sauce phase.  Who knows.   But, there they were---right behind my institutional size jar of  marinated artichoke hearts.   Knowing that I didn't want to  make just everyday pasta with Alfredo sauce, I decided to rummage through my freezer to see what else I had that might go well with Alfredo sauce.   My choices were vast---chicken, veal, shrimp, tilapia, orange roughy, flounder, salmon, tuna, swordfish, mussels, cod, ground meat, steak, roast.....
I already told you I could feed a small community with everything I have!
So, I bee-bopped around the internet looking for recipes that might be appealing and hit on one that I thought might work out well.....Garlic Alfredo Tilapia.   We liked the addition of the creole seasoning and I loved the fact that it was easy, easy, easy....great for a work night. The only tweak I made was to add some fresh lemon zest to the fish itself.  Other than that, I followed this recipe exactly.   This recipe is definitely a keeper.  Now, I just have to figure out what to do with those other 5 jars of Alfredo Sauce....

Another product that seems to multiply in my pantry is Trader Joe's Organic  Polenta.   Probably because I am obsessed with polenta and I find Trader Joe's the best store bought polenta on the market!  I can't seem to pass by it without picking up a few rolls.  Most likely, I shared several of my polenta-using recipes with you already but I am sure I never shared this one......because I never made it before!   As part of the Pantry Challenge, I purposely forced myself to explore the world of polenta-using recipes while also using other things that I had on hand.  Here's what I came up with and let me tell you......this is yummily excellent....
-TJ's organic polenta, cut into thick slices, sauteed in fry pan with a little olive oil, set aside
-In the same pan---saute quartered marinated artichoke hearts, add about 1/2 cup of white wine, one small can of chicken broth and some sliced roasted red peppers (from a jar).   Let it cook until rather thickened. 
-Return polenta slices to the pan to heat through.  
-Sprinkle with a good Italian cheese (I used Romano) and enjoy.....

I am going to keep plugging away at this challenge for another week.
After that, I really do need to feed my need to grocery shop.....

 Happy Friday!