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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Going out like a chicken......

You know that saying.....March comes in like a lion, goes out like a lamb.  Or, is it visa versa?
Well, whatever.
I'm taking out March with a chicken.....
As in--that's what is on the menu here in Judiland on this last Sunday of March.
And, this chicken recipe is so lovely that I just knew I had to tell you about it.
It's been taste tested many times--by friends and family alike.  And, its always met with wild applause and smacking lips.  Like I's lovely.  
My original plan was to cook this recipe as the sun was streaming through the windows as I watched soft breezes ripple through the trees in my yard.  
When I was putting today's dinner together in my head, I saw it as a  Celebrate Spring meal.
As the plan was coming together and I was envisioning a beautiful Spring Sunday with my pretty Spring table cloth a top the table with vases of tulips as the centerpieces, it was so easy to decide on that chicken recipe.  It's just such a  Spring Chicken.  As the scene progressed in my mind, I decided that the chicken's fresh and lively flavors demanded accompaniments that were just as Spring inspired.   
With that thought in mind, I took to my menu diary and came up with the perfect plan---I'd make a salad with a wonderful vinaigrette that I've made many times,   an absolutely delish Spring Peas with Dates and Walnuts recipe and this Goat Cheese risotto that I find absolutely heavenly.   To end the meal on a sweet Spring note, I decided on picking up some pistachio gelato.  With a bottle of one of my favorite white wines---a fresh and frisky Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc--I just knew this was going to be the perfect Spring meal.  
So, imagine my surprise when I was awaken this morning by a blustery burst of wind and snow pouncing on my window pane.  As I fumbled and bumbled out into the hallway, I was stricken by this cruel twist of fate.  This was no way to venture out on what I had imagined as a Spring trip to the market--wearing my cropped boy friend jeans, a quarter-length sleeved tee with a light knit poncho, a sweet straw fedora and a pair of jaunty Bernie Mev's with no socks.  How could I buy tulips on a day that was so winter-like?
As I sipped my new favorite morning tea, I gazed out into the cold, dark, windy, snowy landscape and  found comfort in the fact that I bought Toni a fun, girly ice scraper yesterday for the new car she just got this weekend.  I smiled at the memory of me slipping it into the trunk as a joke....with a little note telling her that it would come in handy next winter.
As I pulled out the Spring dishes I had planned on using, I was woeful---wondering if I should just wait until another Sunday to do the Spring dinner thing.  For a fleeting moment, I thought to myself--maybe I should just make chili or something very winter-like. 
No. Judi. 
No. No. No.
It's a Spring Sunday.
And, I'm making chicken. 

But I'm putting on boots and my winter coat. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Rule #4........

At the moment, I can't remember what Rules 1-3 or 5-10 are but Rule #4 is alive and well and living in my brain...........

#4. Stop putting your own needs on the back burner. 
The most painful thing is losing yourself in the process of loving someone too much, and forgetting that you are special too.  Yes, help others; but help yourself too.  If there was ever a moment to follow your passion and do something that matters to you, that moment is now.

Perhaps now is a good time NOT to be a rule breaker....

Friday, March 28, 2014

"You must be confusing me with your other wife.....

your job....."

Did you ever get the feeling that the person who should know you the best doesn't know you at all?
If too.
If no......move along.  

As we head into the month that we will be celebrating our 32nd wedding anniversary (OMG!! 32???),  you would have thought we would have this marriage thing down pat and we could give a course on marriage.  Or,we could do the 100 question thing and get them all right. 
Um.  No.
You see, in my marriage....even though it's 32 years old....I can pretty much guarantee you that in real time, we have only spent 15 years of time together.
Yes, I've done the math.
Our life is just like that.....
So, I'm not sure why I expect my husband of 32 years of have me all figured out.
Because really....the man missed about 17 years of me turning into Judi 2014.
Yet, I know him like I know the back of my hand...because I'm smart like that....
Let's be fair---the 17 years of time that he missed were my transformative years.
You know...the years when I transformed.
He didn't transform.  He was always the guy he is today.....albeit a few grey hairs.
He seemed to have it all figured out a long time ago.  Perhaps engineering geniuses are like that.
Me? Ha!  I'm always bumbling on to the next thing, finding my way and stopping for some inspiration and influence along the way.
Perhaps that's just the way women are.  Or, maybe that's just the way Aquarians are.
Who knows.
But, it's okay. 
The other night, some dear girlfriends and I finally got together for dinner at a wonderful little place in between our homes.  We put it on the calendar in January just to guarantee we would do it.  That was a smart move....
We all happen to be celebrating a 30+ wedding anniversaries in the coming months.  And, they are all married to a pretty intense guys whose work schedules are only rivaled by my workaholic engineer husband.
Most of their husbands work schedules average 100 hour weeks.  My husband averages 105 (and that doesn't account for his travel schedule away from the house...these are just work hours).
No lie.  
We did the math.  
As always--our girl talk found it's way to marriages and kids and jobs and everything that goes with it.
We shared some stories, had a few laughs and came up with some sure fire strategies for world peace.
And, we drank a few lovely bottles of  2010 Spy Valley Savignon Blanc
And, in the comfort of this lovely little bistro, with our wine-infused thoughts, we toasted our long time spouses for leaving us to our own devices so much so that we had to find other kindred spirits to fill our time and our lives. 
Now that our children are grown and we don't care much about having dinner on the table or being applauded for perfect housekeeping and we are not worrying over flowing laundry baskets (truth--I never worried about them!), we are truly, truly thankful for each other--for very different reasons than we were thankful for each other in years past.
If it wasn't for the fact that we were career-climbing mothers with children around the same ages who were doing the mom thing on our own because our husbands were never available...would we have had the need or found the time to connect and become friends?  
I'm not so sure.
We had a need for help (car pooling, play dates, birthday party help etc), for companionship and for adult time and we found it in each other.  And, along the way, we found friendship.   We shared more than car pooling duties and dance recitals and cheerleading practice and football and little league and soccer games.  We shared a bond.  We shared a life together.  
We turned to each other in times of need, in times of celebration, in times of sadness and when we just needed to hear a friendly voice.  We somehow knew that in each other we would not find judgement or hear a reprimand when we were stuck at our offices and the nurse just called with a sick child or when one of us just needed a moment away from the mayhem for a glass of wine..... 
We knew each others' hurdles and challenges. 
We knew it all.  And, then some.....
So, when one turned to all of us and asked......
"Do our husbands know how much we love this place?" (referring to the restaurant)
There was not one hesitation.....
"No..." we all  answered in bewildered unison.
"Mine doesn't either..." she answered, seemingly in deep reflection.
"You would think they would..."  another quietly said.
"Perhaps," I said, shrugging my shoulders with a quiet acceptance.
Then, finding the silver lining, I mused.... "let's just keep it our little secret....
"We have a lot of our own little secrets, " one girlfriend giggled.
"WE are a secret to our husbands!"  another laughed.
"If you mean they don't know who we are, you are 100% right!"  another responded with amusement.
"And that's a very good thing...."  I dead panned.

With that, we once again toasted our husbands....this time because they just don't know what they are missing.  
And, we are okay with that. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

A funny happened on the way to the forum....

You just never know what will happen along the way.......
Yesterday's blog entry stayed with me all day.  
Yes, the blog entry that I wrote.  
Which....I a good thing.  
In fact, it's still humming in my brain this morning.  
Even though when I sat down to peck out that posting, it felt inconsequential and selfish, it has somehow fueled my thinking and made me ponder where I am and what I want going forward. 
Yet, most importantly,  it  reminded  me how important our words are not only to ourselves but to others.....
It was one particular reader's comments that are beating in my heart this morning.
 She said:

Judi, I have followed your blog since being banded in 2009, you were & still are a huge inspiration to me. You didn't stop living to diet, you taught me how to incorporate real life & making smart choices. Before you, I thought to lose weight I had to give up much of the good things in life. 
Your living proof that's not required.

Powerful, huh?

So, if I do nothing else this week or this month, I feel triumphant and pleased with myself.....thanks to a lovely woman hundreds of miles away who I never met, whose blog I never read, whose life I knew nothing about until now and who took the time to respond to my inconsequential and selfish plea for validation.  
And, just as importantly, I feel renewed in my motivation to always find a way to land here on Stories from the matter how many dishes I have to leave unwashed.
Her comment gave me a feeling of renewal and energy.  
And, a desire to stay on this journey and share it as I go.....

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Busting at the seams......

No. Not my pants.
My life.  

 So, yes, that's my lame but very true excuse for being absent from 
Stories from the Road for 9 solid days. 
The funny thing is that not being here has caused quite a conundrum for me.  My blog is my connection to keeping me connected to my never-ending journey to maintain a healthy weight and a healthy life.
 I need to be here. 
Yep.  I know it. 
Even though many of my blog entries don't even mention anything even related to my Lap band or my weight, it's still a reminder that I am on a journey.  And, for me to stay on this journey, I need to come here and share whatever is happening in my life or at the very least--to provide for myself a committed forum to just share whatever it is that I want to share. 
Even if I am just sharing it with my keyboard and my screen.  
It's the connection that  I cannot abandon because this blog is part of my journey. 
It started out that way and I am finding that it will always remain that way.  
Silly as it sounds---now that all the hallaballoo about Judi losing weight and how different I look and how wonderful I've done and how great it is that I lost this weight is over and done with--I need some way to connect myself to others who are on this journey and if not with others--at least with myself. 
Did you follow that?
If not, don't worry.  I am trying to make sense of it too. 
All I know is that  even after almost 7 years of living with my Lap band and even after 5 years of living in a body that reaped the benefits of my weight loss surgery, I still need to find a place to land where I am accountable. 
Accountable to who? You ask. 
To my blog.  
Yep.  I know it.
But, there's this little piece of me that can and will go rogue if I don't have someplace to check in to say "this is my journey....".  
So, here I am.  
If I ever disappear, please come and find me!!! 

The only way I can figure NOT to bust out of the seams of my pants is to make time for Stories from the Road and spend a few extra moments bouncing around reading blogs about others who are also on their very own journeys of health and happiness through weight loss and/or weight maintenance.  
So, even if my life feels so overwhelming that some days I'm not sure if I will find the time to take the dishes out of the dishwasher, I have to eek out a moment to come here and journey continues.....and we are all in this together.   
It makes a whole lot of sense to me. 
Even if it makes no sense to anyone else. 
Even if there's no one even reading this.  
And, even if those damn dishes stay in the dishwasher forever. 
Just know that I am here. 
And, if I am NOT here and YOU ARE HERE......I command you to call out to me and tell me that I can't leave. 
Yes, I know, I am bossy. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

It's a great day to be IRISH......

Enjoying St. Patrick's Day festivities with my Italian guy....who happily indulges me and let's me dress him up Irish!

Everyone has a little spec of Irish in them on St. Patrick's Day.
Even if it's just that green shirt you are wearing or that green shamrock in your hair or that little bit of Irish attitude you have.  Or, maybe it's the Guinness or the Jamison's....
If you want just a little more might want to try this Irish-inspired recipe that a lovely Irish friend shared with me.
Even though I sport 50% Irish blood...I never made Sheperd's Pie before.  That's what happens when you were raised by a good Italian mother and wonderful Italian aunts.....
As a matter of fact, I never even considered making Shepard's Pie.  That's what happens when you were raised by a good Italian mother and wonderful Italian aunts..... 
But, when I saw this recipe had red wine and parmesean cheese, I knew it would be okay.  That's what happens when you were raised by a good Italian mother and wonderful Italian aunts.

Thankfully, that 100% Italian mother of mine made sure we knew we were Irish.  She decked us out in green from head to toe and dutifully took us to the St. Patrick's Day parade to witness our father and uncle march with the AOH and the Knights of Equity.   Then, she let my father and uncle squire us around to be adored by their tipsy Irish friends at all the pubs. And, she clapped along as we danced to Irish tunes and sang those Irish songs our grandmother would teach us.   And, even though we cried each St. Patrick's Day when she made corned beef and cabbage for my dad and my uncle, she made it.  
Because she loved an Irishman.....

Shepherd’s Pie

This recipe got rave reviews when I served it yesterday....

serves 8, prep 20 min, cook 40 min
  • 2 tbsp oil, divided
  • 12 oz white mushrooms, sliced thinly
  • 8 oz red wine, divided
  • 1/2 cup carrots, julienned
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb ground lamb or beef
  • 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme, minced
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 2 tbsp butter, divided
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup chicken or beef stock
  • 2 medium zucchini, julienned
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 6 cups mashed potatoes (6 medium yellow potatoes, 4 tbsp butter, 1/2 cup cream)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated
  1. If you happen to have left-over mashed potatoes skip to step 2.  Boil diced potatoes in salted water until soft, about 30 minutes.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 400F. Butter a large casserole dish.
  3. Meanwhile in a large skillet, heat 1 tbsp oil over medium-high heat.  Add sliced mushrooms.  Saute mushrooms until soft and brown.  Add 2 oz red wine to the hot pan, stirring and scraping the pan.  Remove mushrooms to a plate.
  4. Wipe out the pan and add the remaining 1 tbsp of oil, heat to medium.
  5. Saute carrots until beginning to soften, then add onion and garlic.
  6. When onions are soft add ground meat and brown, breaking meat into large chunks.
  7. When meat is browned, season with salt, pepper and thyme.  Add mushrooms, peas and 1 tbsp butter.
  8. Sprinkle mixture with flour and stir.  Then add tomato paste, Worcestershire, and remaining 6 oz wine.
  9. Cook and stir mixture for several minutes.  Add stock and simmer until sauce is thick and somewhat reduced.
  10. Remove from heat and stir in zucchini.  Season to taste.
  11. Pour meat mixture into the prepared casserole.
  12. Drain and mash potatoes with butter and cream as needed.
  13. Spoon mashed potatoes over meat and spread and smooth the top.
  14. Brush potatoes with a beaten egg and sprinkle with Parmesan.
  15. Bake casserole 20-30 minutes or until hot and bubbling and potatoes are browned. 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Good Morning Parade Day!

It's time to kick off THAT SATURDAY in March once more......
Judiland is all decked out in Green.....
An Irish welcome.....

A little St. Patrick hanging out on the dining room buffet.....

A wee touch of green in the kitchen area......

A nod to my Irish roots in the entry way.....

Our family shalalee from Ireland and Carmen's new cap....

Won't you join me for breakfast?

Nothing like a little Irish coffee station to warm the cockles of our Irish hearts....

A little Irish toast.......

 Now it's time to deck out Judi in GREEN.....
Let the PARTY BEGIN......

Thursday, March 13, 2014

A new trick......

Balloon swallowing.....
.......while making 20 pounds disappear! 

 Look at me, look at me....I swallowed a balloon and I lost 20 pounds!
By now, I am sure most of you have heard about the newest "diet pill" called Obalon that promises weight loss.....
You know the swallow a balloon and aren't hungry at all!  
Me?  I'm a weight loss junkie.   Like I've told you a million times before, I get pretty damn excited when I hear about a new weight loss promise.   It's just my nature.   I can't help myself.  I go hog wild researching them and reading about them and fantasizing about them.....
I'm silly like that.
At the moment, Obalon is not available in the United States.  But, a quick trip to Mexico or Italy or Spain will get you into the balloon swallowing magic school.
Now, I have to be honest might sound like I am poo-pooing this idea.  I am not.  I have to be honest....I'm intrigued and have more hope for it's effectiveness than I have had in other things that might not sound as crazy as balloon swallowing.  
Like the article says--the premise is pretty simple---make less room in the stomach for food and you will eat less.
Isn't that what I did by getting a Lap Band?
In fact, I sort of have an inflated balloon (more like an intertube) in my which I had to go through surgery to have done.   Let's face it....the idea of the Lap band probably sounded kind of crazy when it was first out there.....right?
So, not all ideas are crazy.  In fact, thank God for ideas.   Weight loss challenged people need more and more smart people coming up with good ideas to help them! 
Sometimes we can all get a little cynical about the big business of weight loss and we can find ourselves suspicious of the motives of  the diet industry.   I get it.  
But, when I think of all of the people who are suffering from the atrocities of being overweight or obese and then I look at the millions of people who were helped....and even weight loss surgery or some type of medical intervention......I realize that we have to put aside our biases towards it all and step up and take control of the information for ourselves.
In the end, we are responsible for our journeys.
But, it's always nice when we get a little help.
Swallowing a balloon might sound crazy.
Some of the best things started out as crazy.  
Think about it. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

I never want to forget.......

This girl..... the beach....the week before my Lap Band surgery.....

Confession:  I've been slipping into some bad eating habits.  And, the hardest part of it all is that I know exactly what I am doing. 
And, it's stupid.
And, I'm not a stupid girl.
But, I'm acting like one.
It's just so so stupid.
Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.
Stupid is not a good look for me....
250 Pounds is not a good look for me either.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Love what you do and do what you love......

and don't forget to eat your Spinach!  

Did I ever mention that I am a Career Counselor?
Well, if I did....let's forget all about that.
Because that's not what I do these days.
I burned out about 15 years ago.
Yeah, I dabble in it when I have to.
And, in my heart of hearts, I really do care about it all.
But, let's be honest,.,.,,,the career that I picked when I was in my 20's is not exactly what I love to do today. My aging  ENFP is showing.
And, because I am who I am, I truly believe in loving what we do. And,doing what we love...
Yet, I realize that reality can sometimes intervene.
 Just so know.... I subcribe to this theory.....
It makes me feel oh so smart when there's a theory for my thinking..,,,especially when I'm 55 and I am oh so worried about either succumbing to dimentia or bad fashion or both.....

Oh well....

 And, what about that Spinach?
Here's a recipe for Creamed Spinach that I just had to share with you ASAP.
And, I mean....ASAP!
This recipe will definitely make you eat your spinach!!
I am a perfect testament to that.  I have never, ever had creamed spinach. 
No, I never did.  I am now in love....
 I was hosting a dinner party this past Saturday night and I needed something to go with my surf and turf menu (fillet mignon, shrimp scampi and baked potato).   After a little research on what good steakhouses serve with their surf and turf dinners, I came up with serving the fillet on a bed of creamed spinach.   But, since I had never made creamed spinach before, I had no idea what recipe was the best.   So, I set out to find a rendition that sounded perfect! So, I crossed my fingers and said a few novenas that it would all work out. was just perfect.  Everyone raved and I felt like the Supreme Empress of Creamed Spinach.....
(The only difference in my version is that I added a dollop of creamed cheese to the mixture just to give it more cheese, to tighten it up a bit and to make it my own.....)
Don't you think a nice big bowl of GREEN creamed spinach would make a perfect St. Patrick's Day treat?
It is GREEN you know....
Yes, the count down to St.Patrick's Day begins.....

Friday, March 7, 2014


We are officially one week into March and my madness continues.......

One of the many thoughts occupying my mad, mad world! 


Thursday, March 6, 2014

The evil power of food.......

This is what started it all......a lunch consisting of Onion my desk!!! 

What we put into our bodies affects not just our hips or our bellies or our affects every crevice or our beings......
I know this.
You know this.
We all know this.
Maybe we just need a little reminder every once in awhile.
Well, I got my little reminder.....
Yes, I have been suffering from some major feelings of every kind of misery (bodily, psychologically and emotionally!) ever since I spent a full 24 hours indulging (convincing myself that it was FAT TUESDAY.... I told myself I should do this) in a day-long meal that consisted of:
-Onion Rings
-A frozen yogurt sundae smothered in rich chocolate sauce, doused with crumpled peanut butter cups and topped with real whipped cream
-A pile of taco meat on a bed of tortilla chips covered in full fat sour cream, shredded sharp cheddar cheese and hot sauce
-A Klondike
-A full sleeve of Girl Scout Do-si-does to round out the day at midnight.

Did I have a grand old time doing any of that?
And NO.
The onion rings are my traditional Fat Tuesday lunch indulgence.  I truly enjoy them.
It's a once-a-year kind of thing that I really do look forward to.
(well, sometimes I get them at other times but not on purpose...)
I should have stopped right there.
But, there's something about kicking off the day with one fatty fried thing that just leads you on this path of craving more and more shit....hence the trip to visit my friends at the frozen yogurt place where they were so happy to see me that they decided to make my sundae super duper special.
As for the make-shift nachos?   Yeah, well, that just happened.
And, the Klondike?  That just happened too.
As for the full sleeve of Do-si-Do's.....I have no clue what happened there.  One minute they were in the freezer, the next minute.....they were in my stomach.

By the time I realized what I had done....I was already sicker than sick.
The discomfort in my stomach was something that I had felt before.....that awful, heavy, bloated, mystomachhasleadinit feeling that I hated way back when.....and I hated once again.
I could not sleep.
I tossed and turned all night.
The taste in my mouth was horrible.  
I woke up feeling awful.
My mind was foggy.
Everything ached.
My crankiness was cranked up several notches.
I couldn't shake the feeling of hopelessness.
My overall deameanor was as bleak as the winter sky.
Life seemed hard.  
I searched inside myself for the answer as to why I had let this happen .  I didn't like the answers I was finding tucked deep in the boughs of my heart.  I wasn't too proud of myself that I let the awfulness of this horrible winter take it's toll on me.  I didn't want to face the fact that I can lose myself in food like an alcoholic or drug user can lose themselves in their drug of choice or their bottle of whiskey.  I didn't want to accept that I have to work really hard to not fall into the trap of soothing myself with food.   I didn't want to know that even with close to seven years of Lap banding to my credit, I am not free of the power that food has over me during moments of weakness, hurt, loneliness or despair.   I didn't want to believe that I shall always have to do the hard work of staying on course and listening to what my body needs....not what my mind thinks it needs.  I was saddened that the little voice that I was able to silence so many times before could not be silenced this time.   I didn't want to....for even one minute.....imagine that I could possibly be 250 pounds again or that I could easily head in that direction.   And, I absolutely hated the fact that I was thinking all of these things.  
That is what food did to me.  

Food + Winter + The Blues = Not a good combo in Judiland

Tomorrow is another day.
And, it's Friday. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Keep calm and FAT TUESDAY on......

Did someone say FAT?????
How  can I stay calm?
It's Fat Tuesday....
And, you know (if you've been reading my blog for any length of time), I do not like the word FAT.
It just makes me so.....well.....uncalm. 
There's just something so hideously awful about that word.
It must makes me quiver.  And shiver.  And stomp my feet.  And pound my fists.  And sometimes scream!


I am sure there is some deep rooted emotionally charged reason why I hate the word FAT.  
But, I am not dolling out any more money for psycho therapy just so I can figure it out.
Plus, I am pretty sure I have it figured out anyhow....I am quite excellent at self analysis you know...
In any case....there are only a few things like the word FAT that I hate and all  of them are so inconsequential to everyday life that they may only interfere with my world a few times a year.
By the way....two other inconsequential things that I hate are--The Wizard of Oz and any type of animation.  (yes, I hate the Wizard of Oz even though I love red sparkly shoes....)
Although I will admit that the word FAT usually has me seething...the other two things just have me running for the hills. 
Be that as it may....I find that I am not good at all with any type of discomfort.
And, the word FAT (and The Wizard of Oz and animation) gives me great discomfort.
It's just one of those things I thought I would share with you on this day dedicated to the word

And, here's another thing I thought I would share with you......a little something I had this past weekend.....oh it's so pretty and so yum.......a good way to take the discomfort off of this FAT TUESDAY.....

Purple Basil Gimlet
Two ounces Hendrick's Gin
Half ounce fresh lime juice
Half ounce simple syrup
Four to six leaves purple basil

Step One: Press purple basil leaves with simple syrup and fresh lime juice in a cocktail mixer.
Step Two: Add Hendrick's Gin and shake well.
Step Three: Strain up into a stemmed glass, garnish with a sprig of purple basil.