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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Lapbanded Life......Seven Years and Half Years Later......

What's it like?

Well, let me tell you what it's like on the OUTSIDE...... 
It's  like this......
February 2015....out to dinner in the neighborhood...with my cutie husband and my pretty Goddaughter Ashley....

And, NOT like this......
Day of surgery.....August 10, 2007....don't ask what I was doing....
This is what Lapbanded life is like Seven and Half Years Later on the inside.....

In the early days of Lapbanding, it was all about getting used to a new way of eating.
Yes, there was quite a bit of work involved in it all.
I had angst and frustration and even misery.
But, I always had hope.
THIS was going to be my last attempt at getting the life that I deserved.
Failure was not going to be an option. NOT. AN.OPTION.   
Hope  is what helped me through the angst and the frustration and even the misery.
Although there were always new obstacles to tackle, I was pushed to make it work by holding on to hope and determinedly staying the course. 
I was not the perfect Lapbander.
But, I told myself that I wasn't on this journey to reach perfection.  Just smaller pants. 
There were pounds gained and moments when I ate nachos and ice cream.
But, I adopted a new way of thinking--I wasn't going to let those times stop me from where I was headed.  I was going to pick myself up, wipe myself off and remind myself that it was a new day and a new chance to get it right.  That new way of thinking was harder than I ever thought possible.  Old habits are hard to break....
There were times when I felt tired and overwhelmed by needing to lose 100 pounds. 
I would be knocked down and unmotivated and would feel tremendously sorry for myself. 
Those were the times when the only thing that helped me was to connect with other Lapbanders or write a blog post.  I needed tangible, living, breathing reminders of that I was not alone on my journey. 
That is what I needed and who I was.  I wasn't following a script. 
There was no magic formula.  There was no right way to do it. 
There was just hard work....+ hope+determination.
I'm NOT saying there weren't rewards and payoffs along the way because there were!  Lots of them.  
I was so right to have HOPE!
And that same HOPE will sustain me.  
Because I still need it. 
Because..this journey has NO DESTINATION, IT DOES NOT END.
Even though I thought I got my Lapband to help me get the weight off , what I really need it is to keep the weight off.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

50 Shades of Grey?

No, I'm not going to talk about that movie. 
You know how I feel about, let's move on.
Or, should I give up and dye?

 This past weekend, I got snowed in at the mall.
That's more of a fun fantasy that any novel or movie about 50 Shades of....oh you know what I mean. 
Ah, I digress.
So, how did I get snowed in at the mall and what does that have to do with grey anything? goes like this.....being the anxious parent that I am, I did not want my darling daughter to venture out into Saturday's snowstorm to go to work.  She had to get to work by 9 am.  It was 7 am and it was  the height of the storm and the news was blaring about road conditions and all of the storm that was still due to hit in the next few hours.   And, all reports pointed towards staying off the roads!!!  The salt trucks and plows had not had a chance to make the roads between the mall and our home safe to drive.
So, as any good mother---I told her she was not allowed to drive.  But, I didn't want to drive either.  So, as any good wife would do.... I riled my husband out of his peaceful slumber and ordered him to dig our 4-wheel drive vehicle out of the driveway and demanded that he chauffeur our daughter to work.  And, I promised to ride along.....
What does this have to do with grey anything....?
Stay with me will all make perfect sense soon enough.... 
Anyway....the trip to the mall:  blinded by the blizzard, barreling through slick side streets and coasting down a narrow, car lined, snow covered main road, then through the tunnel, over the icey river, on to the snow covered parkway, over another icey river and down a  hilly, windy, slippy road--- was not fun at all.  But, we got there after our harrowing and very messy drive and delivered our precious cargo to her door....just as the storm was bearing down even heavier.
Instead of turning around to go home, we decided to head into the mall to get our Starbucks fix and maybe walk around until the snow plows had a chance to clean up the main roads--with the hopes that  during that time, the snow would slow down enough to make visibility a little easier.
Needless to say, the mall was a complete ghost town.  Even as the stores slowly opened their gates, it was eerily quiet and unusually peaceful....for a mall.  
About an hour into our mall meandering, our daughter texted us that she would probably be leaving a little after noon due to the slow business.  So, we decided that we might as well stick around the mall instead of drive home and then drive back to pick her up.
Carmen decided he was going to get a massage so I opted to walk around and see what I could see.
That's when I ran into a storefront called "StyleOut" was a hair and make up bar for "quick makeovers and glamourizing".....
It was exactly what the doctor had ordered.  I was in between haircuts, I was feeling particularly unattractive and old, my grey roots had sprouted and were very visible and I was certain that a new hairstyle would fix me right up.
The blow-out expert was thrilled to see me enter the door and eager to have business and someone to talk to.  She had a great style about her, she wasn't some 20 year old with tatooes all over her arms and piercings on very surface of her face and I liked her hairstyle!  She could be trusted. 
 So, I told her my sad tale of woe---I had never had anyone other than my sister-the-hairdresser cut and color my hair, I was tired of my hair style, I was sick of dealing with grey roots and I desperately wanted to look like Lisa Rinna. (minus the lips).   Could she help me?
She sat me in her chair and examined my head and my hair carefully.
"Do you know that you are completely grey?"  she asked me.
How would I know....I'm addicted to the bottle!!!  
The fact that I was completely grey was not what I wanted to hear.
When I grimaced, she laughed--"the good news is that it's a beautiful grey!"  
I smiled a bit.
"And, you have wonderful hair!  It has such great potential!'  she told me.
Potential?  It has potential???? I am walking around with unused potential?
"I am going to suggest you consider letting your hair go completely grey!"  she said with great enthusiasm.  "It would go great with your coloring, your hair would be more healthy and I know you would love it.   I can tell from your style that you would be the perfect candidate for it!  You could carry it off!"  
I had to think about it.
In the meantime, she went about styling my hair......
And, I have to say--when I left, I felt fabulous.
A 20 minute blow out and a little pouf here and a little wisp there....was all it took.  
No, I didn't look like Lisa Rinna.  But, I could feel my mood lifted.
Always a good thing.

A little while later, I met up with Carmen and even though he thought I didn't look much different, I corrected him---yes, I looked much better.   Men!!
I told him about my blow-out experience and admitted that the idea of going grey was starting to appeal to me.
"Really???"  he asked in great shock.  "No!  I don't think so...."  was his reaction.
No man was going to tell me NO! I don't think so.  It was my hair.  I would decide. 
He is not Christian Grey.....

So, what do you think????
Should I go grey?
(well, I guess I am really grey.....) 
So, the real question is...should I stop hitting the bottle?  

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Dear Winter,

You have my permission to go now.   You are making me very cranky.  At least I hope it's YOU that's making me so cranky and not the gazillion other things that could possibly be making me a cranky girl.  
Because lately, I am becoming a girl I don't even know....
Yes, it's another cold day in the hell that is winter!

One of the many upsides of doing a blog for a long as I have is that I have a diary of what I was  thinking, what I was feeling, what I was doing and even how I looked day-by-day, week-by-week, month-by-month and year-by-year. 
Every so often, I take myself back to check on my past.  Sometimes it helps me to see that I really have come a long way and other times, it reminds me of past situations that may help me deal with something in the moment or something in the future.  Then, there's other times that I realize that as much as I think I've overcome something--it's still with me....reminding me that I just need to fight my way towards finally overcoming it or telling myself that it's okay that I haven't been able to do it!
Last night, as I was pondering my blog post for today, I was consumed by a feeling of dejavu.
I wanted to yell and scream at winter and kick my feet and pound my fists and share my weariness and  felt very familiar to me.  Like I had said it all before. 
Why was it so familiar?  Do I do that often?  Aren't I just a sunny, optimistic, happy person?
That's what brought me to check on my past blog posts.
I started with all the Februarys over the years.
Evidently, I bitch and moan my way through February all of the time.
Oh, my poor blog readers....having to put up with me!
Funny thing was that I didn't even recognize ME.
Although I am very sure that I wrote all of those bitching and moaning posts, I was shocked that I felt that way so often in almost. every. damn. day.   
Who would want to hang out with me?  
Who would find any kind of enjoyment from reading my blog?
Tinged with sadness but hoping it was just a February-thing with me, I decided to check on a few other random months in the past to see if my bitching and moaning was much less.
Although I am happy to report that on a bitching and moaning scale, February did seem to take the honors.  Shockingly, however....there are other months that aren't too far behind.
Every month seemed to fall victim to at least one, two or maybe ten bitching and moaning posts. 
Give me a holiday or a season or an issue or just a damn day and I bitch and moan.
It just goes to show you, it's always something...if it ain't one thing, it's another.... (I say in my best Roseanne Roseannadanna voice).
Perhaps bitching and moaning women are more funny than ones who gush about the beauty and wonderfulness that is their lives....??
If that's so, I'll bet my dear blog readers just howled laughing their way through all those Februarys.....
Should I apologize that I want/need to bitch and moan today and go into a blog rant about winter and how exhausted I am and how overwhelmed I am and how I hate my hair?
Or, should I just end it right here and thank you for your time?
You pick.....I'm too cranky to think right now........


Sunday, February 22, 2015

They like me! THEY REALLY LIKE ME!

Getting my OSCAR on! 

Happy Academy Awards Sunday!
Are you planning to join in the fun and fanfare of the Academy Awards?
Do you have a favorite movie that you are rooting for this year?
Are you rooting for a certain actress or actor? 
Or....are you like me and just tune in for the fashion and to have a little Sunday-night-dinner-on-the-couch party? 

Tonight, we are forgoing the fancy attire and the over-the-top menu.  
Not that we really ever did that.
But, we have went to a Red Carpet viewing party a few times and on occasion, we have had people in for a more elaborate spread and Oscar-related activities.  
But, this year,  it's just my fashionista daughter and I in our favorite jammies with some wonderful candles burning, a fire in the fireplace and a bottle of one of our favorite wines.....  
I'm going into menu planning mode now, then I'm going grocery shopping then I'm meeting up with  two of my favorite college friends for a winey, catch-up lunch.....
As I said last evening:
"Not every meal has to be AN EVENT....let the TV take the center stage, not the food!"
(the word according to Judi, February 21, 2015)



Friday, February 20, 2015


And, I am FRIED!  
Simple weather forecast......


Thursday, February 19, 2015


Why am I the only woman who refused to read Fifty Shades of Grey and will DEFINITELY NOT to seeing the movie????

There is not a prude bone in my body. 
Not a one.
Go ahead.....give it a whirl....test me will see....this girl never was nor will I ever be a prude.   FUCK NO!
I am all for the women exploring their sexuality through consent....regardless of the sanctity of the relationship.  And, I am about as ga-ga as the next girl when it comes to racey, sexy-hot  stuff.  Show me a naked,  fabulous looking man and I'm gonna peek....and maybe even stare.  Hot and steamy stuff give me quite the blush.  And, let's not get me started on steamy sex scenes....
Okay, okay....I better stop here before I have a hot flash....
Yes, I know....that might be too much information for you but I just figured I'd get the record straight just in case you think that I am repulsed by the story that's been taking the world by storm because I am a prudish naive, straight-laced, super conservative,  chastity-belt wearing 56 year old woman.
Because you know I am not.  Anyway, a chastity- belt would make me look fat....
Those who swoon over the very mention of Christian Grey and the movie itself consider my views on the topic as idiotic.  Or, as one my wonderful, smart, beloved friends said...."Judi, it's just a fun, fantasy  movie..plain and simple...."


This is NOT my FANTASY!  This is NOT my kind of FUN!

Why is it that my own daughter and my own sister and many of my own friends (like the one I mentioned above) can't wait to see the movie?  Why do they consider it a Romance Movie?
And why do I decide to choose this moment and this movie to dig my heels into the sand and say NO, NO, NO.  I mean after all, I really am not a radical person when it comes to most causes.  Sure, there are a few.  Well, maybe a few more.  But, I don't get all postal about them.  But, this one?  Well, this one just makes me a little crazy.  Yes, I admit that part of the problem is that I don't like to be the one in a million person who feels this way!  It's not fun being alone on a topic that is setting the female population all a flutter. I like to be aligned with other women and their feelings and beliefs.  I want to support other women and what they love and care about!!!  I really, really do....
 And....OMG....I really can't understand the acceptance that my own loved ones have for this move.  Haven't I taught them well?  Haven't I been a good influence on them?  What are they thinking?  Where have I gone wrong?

Here's the deal--- I do not....nor will I the glamorization and romanticism of emotional and/ or physical abuse.  I will not support the objectification of women or the notion that belittlement and entrapment  are forms of  romance and love.  
And, I will never, ever understand how anyone else can either.

I am not going to see this movie.
It does not deserve my money or my time.  
Sure, I will miss the popcorn.
But, that's okay.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

It's not over.....even when the FAT LADY sings......


About 100 pounds ago, if you would have asked me if I lost 100 pounds if I would finally feel like my weight loss journey was over and if I considered it a success, I would have answered a loud and definite YES.....YES....YES....One trillion times YES......
 Oh how naive I was in my youth.  
What I have come to learn as I lost those 100 or so pounds is that SUCCESS is not a DESTINATION.....IT IS A JOURNEY.   
Just because you arrived at that holy grail of weight loss, that does not mean that your are done.
The mission is not complete.
It is not over.
You have a million miles to go.....if you are lucky.  
Over the past seven years, I have battled that theory.....many times.  I got cocky or confident or maybe just plain tired....or perhaps even a little stupid.   As you are my witness and you can attest to, I have come to this blog on more than a few occasions and I confessed to  you that I gained some weight and I did it by own doing.  The weight didn't just magically or inexplicably land on my stomach or my hips or my thighs or my face....I put it there.  Yes, I convinced myself that I didn't have to worry about eating loaded mashed potatoes followed by a a few Oreos with a chocolate sundae chaser (doused in real whipped cream).  And, I let myself believe that it was A-OK that I didn't follow my walking program for up to 4 weeks while I indulged in the occasional nacho platter washed down by one, maybe two...or three margaritas.  And, I let it be perfectly fine to sooth myself with a dinner comprised of all or most of the above because I was either sad or tired or stressed or really pissed off.   Yes, and I even gave myself the blessing to indulge in just another piece of coconut cream pie because, after all, it was a celebration or a holiday. All of that and so much more....
Interestingly, when I think about it and analyze it to death (as I always do!), I am stunned by the fact that  when you get right down to it, it was never about the food.  It was more about the feelings.  As I am doing it---I think it's about the food.  But, when I reflect upon it, I am enlightened....once emotions made me eat it. 
This is not new news.  You know that.  I know that.  Hell, there are books and PhD thesis written about that very thing.   People have made themselves very rich and famous by telling us just what I have told you in less than a paragraph.   
I am the poster child for not following the old adage---do the same thing and end up with the same results.  Most times, it doesn't really get to me....I am optimistic enough to know that I can turn things around and I have complete faith that everything will be just fine.  But, sometimes.....especially in the bleakness of February....I find myself completely overwhelmed by it all.   I am tired of slaying dragons and turning water into wine and smiling when I really feel like crying.  Thankfully, none of that lasts very long....because I am also the poster child for being impatient with being anything but a glass-is-half-full kind of girl.   Sadness, misery and depression are just not good looks for me.  Plus, I don't like to be that kind of girl....the one who is always whiney and gloomy.   I have a responsibility to Judiland to be encouraging and uplifting and Ms. Fix-It and the life of the party. 
Yes, it can all be rather tiring...especially when you are battling things you don't have the energy or the desire to battle.  And, ironically, making life look breezy and perfect is a monumental.y exhausting, unrewarding job in me on that. 
All of that weakens my ability to say no to the 10 pm chocolate sundae. 
And makes me need new pants.  
It's complex, that's for sure. 
So, as I sit here on the first day of a season where we are asked to prepare for the coming of Easter through prayer, penance, repentance of sins, atonement and self-denial, I am asking myself how I can take those expectations and practice them in my life to help me continue my journey in a way that brings me closer to understanding and learning from my failings.  
That's pretty big stuff.
Just another stop on the journey that never ends......



Tuesday, February 17, 2015

F*A*T Tuesday returns.......

As it always does........
If you've been hanging around Stories from the Road for any length of time, you know that I just hate the word FAT.   It's an ugly word.  I guess there are some good things about the word but for the most part, I try to avoid it completely. 
However, when you write a blog that was conceived due to weight loss surgery and there's a day that's called FAT TUESDAY, you just can't avoid writing about it?
Yes, right.
I guess.  

Considering I have been writing about it for 7 years, perhaps I've done my penance and I can get on with other things...... 

How about a little early morning story????

Some scene-setting.......putting empty bottles to good use!
On Sunday, in a fit of  winter blues and  to try to make the best of a Valentine Weekend that was more about obligations than celebrations, we decided that we would do something totally for a meal that we cook together.    So, we went to our local ginormous market place to gather up a few nice ingredients to cook up a romantic know the kind...with candles and pretty flowers and lovely dishes and loving gazes and whispering sweet nothings.....  
Yes, I know.... borderline insane. 
Grocery shopping and kitchen togetherness are rare activities for is not known to lead to loving gazes and whispering sweet nothings.  Typically, it's anything BUT romantic.  It's more like a bicker-fest than anything else.  But, I figured...maybe we've matured.....
My daughter said it would only last 5 minutes while my nephew gave us more credit and said it would end after 15 minutes.  
You resident engineer--who doesn't cook at all--is also a master of better-ways-to-do-things and he loves to tell me about them!   While I want him to respect my expertise in the kitchen (and to be quiet!), he wants to improve it with his ideas (by lecturing me!).  
Not a good mix....
And, he can be quite impatient with processes.   
While I am all about the process in the kitchen, he is all about the let's-hurry-this-along-so-we-can-eat-then-I-can-relax-and-watch-TV
And...don't even get me started on our grocery shopping style differences!   
When I go to our ginormus market place, I like to linger over things and talk to the butcher and the fish monger and anyone else I happen strike up a conversation with.   
Again, he is much more about get-your-stuff-and-get-the-hell-out.   
Since we really didn't have any special plans--which made me a little sad-- I  suggested to shake things up a a bit with grocery shopping and cooking together.   And, since he didn't have to come up with something to do for Valentine's, he went with it....
I know. I know.  Risky business.  Living on the edge.  
Martinis helped.  Forgive me, but I think this cute apron makes me look F*A*T! 
Just when you think you are going to hear an awful horror are not.
But, I don't want to disappoint you! 
So, I will report on the few minor glitches.....
The first glitch was the predictable "what do you want to make?"  problem of wandering around the store aimlessly hoping something magnificent would just appear in your cart.  
My shopping partner doesn't take too kindly to not having a plan.  
So, he was very impatient.  In fact, he disappeared a few times--leaving me to make decisions that I was sure he was going to nix.  I was a bit annoyed....
Thankfully, I was rescued by my daughter's high school sewing teacher who was standing in line with her friend at the fish counter with a recipe in hand.   She oohed and awed about it and her friend just gushed over it.  Even the fish monger chimed in to sing the praises of the recipe and to give us some insider tips.   A perfect sign that this recipe (they suggest the garlic and herb Boursin cheese so I went with that...) was meant to be.....
So, I immediately got in line behind them and ordered whatever they were ordering....
Shrimp. Crab. Scallops.  
(although the recipe doesn't call for crab...they strongly suggested adding it and since crab is one of my favorite foods, I was onboard.....) 
Although we had a little disagreement over the type of pasta---he prefers DeCecco Spaghetti and I thought we might spring for Fede pasta---we ended up with his choice.....this time. 
Once the main course was chosen, the rest of the shopping went pretty well.  
Everything else fell easily into place.....
Appetizer:  Artichoke Hearts and Proscuitto roll-ups (a good recipe when you are only serving 2-4 people...Carmen especially likes this appetizer so I figured I'd make it!)
Salad:  Spinach Salad with Meyer Lemon Parmesean Dressing (I used my own croutons)
Dessert:  Raspberry-Chocolate Parfaits  (I had already decided on this before we left the house!)

Another issue came up when it came to martini time.  
As a Valentine surprise for Carmen, I ordered him the olive juice that they use at one of our favorite martini bars in the downtown area.
Unfortunately, it did not arrive in time for our day-after-Valentine's-Day-martini-time.  
So, this left me in quite a quandary. 
But, I decided to remedy it by visiting one of our favorite local suburban bartenders and see if she could score me some good olive juice (this stuff is pretty tough to find, trust me!).  Luckily, she was able to share some of her stash and off I went carrying my little to-go cup with a lid filled with this precious olive juice....yes, it looked like a specimen! 
Come martini time, Carmen noted that we did not have his favorite vodka......which was quite unusual.  (he also noted that we had my favorite gin!)
Not having his favorite vodka made him quite unhappy.  
Even when I presented him with my olive juice score, he was still a bit pouty....
For the martini was just perfect.  
He be-damned using the precious olive juice with such a substandard vodka and had quite a little pity party for himself having to endure such a hardship......
Oh, the problems of  seasoned martini drinkers.....

Even with a not-perfect martini, my cooking partner was able to loosen up enough to go with the flow-of-Judi and follow directions without interjecting better ideas......
The cooking part of a success.
The romantic dinner part could have used some help.  
But, I have to admit that I am not really sure how to do this intentional  romantic dinner thing.  It feels way too contrived for me.  And, I giggle....
Which I suppose was another glitch.....

Would this have been more romantic????


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

I.O.U. ......

.........a recipe!

You may recall that in the month of December, I do a series called Tasty Tuesday each Tuesday (imagine that? I do Tasty Tuesdays on a Tuesday...) of the month where I share tried and true recipes that you may want to use for your holidays. 
Well...due to all the hoopla of the holidays in Judiland, I didn't share a recipe on the final Tuesday---December 30, 2014.   Even though I had it all planned out, it just did not happen. Sorry about that!
Hopefully, you ate well despite this little snafu...
SO, I want to make it up to you......  in hearts! 

Now that it's February,I doubt you are planning your 2015 holiday menus (but, if you are....I am very impressed).  But, I was thinking-- you may be planning your Valentine's Day Menu.  After all, this year, it falls on a Saturday.  Which means that you may want to spend the entire day in the kitchen in  your cupid outfit cooking a lovely meal to celebrate this holiday.....or not.  
Well, whatever....
Let's go with some recipes that will keep you in the kitchen long enough to enjoy the experience but not so long enough that you are too exhausted to enjoy the meal....

La Vie En Rouge Cocktail
Lately, when I am entertaining a small-ish crowd, I've  done away with the "full bar" before dinner and have went with one signature-type cocktail to greet everyone and get them relaxed and ready for the evening.  But, you know, sometimes finding just the right cocktail for everyone is a bit of a crap shoot.  Although  our before-dinner drink of choice is always a martini, not everyone has a taste for straight booze.  It's always best to consider that your guests might not be the boozy hounds that you are... 
So, I decided to go to the source for some advice when I was having  2 couples for dinner (who I hardly associates of my husband's and their wives ) right before the holidays.  Yep, I asked one of my favorite bartenders.   He asked me a few important questions about the guests and the menu and he  threw out a few ideas at first and if a light bulb went off in his head....he excitedly decided that the only cocktail that would do was a La Vie En Rouge (translation--"Life in Red").   As intriguing as a classy-named cocktail that includes my favorite color in it's name could be, I wasn't too impressed when he described it to me.  But, since he is the expert, I indulged him and told him to shake it up.  One sip and I was sold.   It was the perfect cocktail for our upcoming evening....
Fast forward to our little dinner party and this cocktail was a major hit.  I think our guests went with 2 each....which, I might add-- made them much more enjoyable to be with! 
Considering its red color and it's winter-like quality, I decided that it would also be the perfect Valentine's Day cocktail.  MAKE IT!

 Ingredients: (makes 1 drink)

  • 1 1/2 oz. Grand Marnier
  • 1 1/2 oz.  cranberry juice
  • 1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. simple syrup
  • Fresh rosemary needles

  1. In a cocktail shaker, muddle 10-12 rosemary needles lightly with simple syrup.
  2. Add remaining ingredients into the cocktail shaker, add ice and shake vigorously.
  3. Pour into martini glass
  4. Garnish with a rosemary sprig.
 Wine Jellies and Sharp Cheese Tray....
 I don't know about you but sometimes my favorite foods are the appetizers.  Not only are they fun to eat and lend themselves to the relaxation of an event....they can also hint as to the formalness or the casualness of the evening.   Because I like to entertain somewhere in the middle of the two--if I am only serving one appetizer (which I often do when we are hosting on a smaller scale and if there's 3-4 course meal to follow), I always strive to find the perfect balance of fancy and not-so-fancy that compliments my overall menu.  Not an easy task.  Yes, I make myself crazy over it.  That's where my menu diary comes in---knowing what worked and what didn't work in the past helps me to focus when I'm feeling all over the place in my planning.  That's what I did when I was coming up with a perfect appetizer when we hosted a before-going-out-to-dinner cocktail hour for a group of out-of-town guests that were visiting during the holidays.  After a bit of page turning, I hit upon some notes that I had written in my menu diary about a wonderful, unexpected and so-easy appetizer that we served on Christmas Day.  My son the doctor and his friend had made some wine jellies as gifts and in an effort to show off his culinary talents, I decided to put them out on a cheese platter along with all of the other appetizers I was serving.  As it turned out--everyone raved over 2 of the jellies--a delightful Chardonnay and an intense Merlot.  Smeared on chunks of a super sharp Irish cheddar (I used this one) --it was both elegant and easy!  And.....ohmygosh delicious!
In fact, as I was reading my notes, I recalled that I was even scarfing down all of the leftovers the next day.....which left me with one huge problem---since I did eat all the leftover jelly--I needed more if I was going to serve it again!  Having never made jelly before in my life, I couldn't imagine embarking on such a challenge especially for such a quick little event.  But, I called my son anyhow to get some info on the jellies and he directed me here....the very same recipe he and his friend used.  He said they used very inexpensive wines.  And, he assured me it was easy.  And, he was right.  Plus, the bonus was that I got to impress our out--of-towners....."you actually make jelly?" one of the men asked as his eyes perused the dining room and all the holiday decorations!  Surely, he thought I was a real Martha Stewart and he considered my husband the luckiest man on the planet.... So, what's my appetizer recipe for your Valentine's Day menu?  Get a pretty platter, put some of that fabulous cheese on it with some cute little ramekins of some wine jelly (which I am sure you could buy at a good grocer) and some darling little spoons and serve it.....

Dinner is served.....

Pear and Endive Salad
What can I say except every time I serve this, it's a huge hit.  So, I don't mess with it. 

Giada's Chicken Piccata
Another recipe that I never mess with.  It's the perfect go-to dish for special times and ordinary days and everything in between.  But, there's nothing ordinary about it.  I always make extra sauce to ladle over plain risotto or pasta.  You must make this.   You really must. 

Store Bought Cannoli
An easy, delicious way to sweeten up the end of this perfect meal. 


Have you ever heard of Tuaca?
I never did either.
But, now that I have my very own bottle, I am a believer. 
Tuaca is the perfect after-dinner drink...slightly chilled, sipped from darling little champagne glasses.
What a perfect way to end a perfect Valentine's Day dinner.....


Saturday, February 7, 2015

Take my mania, please......

Who is this woman?
I am not big on New Year's resolutions.  And, sometimes I think I should probably embrace the idea.  It's always a good thing to have something to work towards.  But, for a life long dieter like me--a girl who did every diet known to mankind and resolved to lose the weight with each one--but still ended up obese, I shy away from resolutions because I worry that I will fail....because, you know, I failed so many times. 
The dieting lifestyle is still deeply imbedded in my being.  As much as I say that I am over it, I realize that I am not.  And, if I was being totally honest--sometimes I miss it.   I miss that feeling of hopefulness embarking on the journey into the promised land of thinness and beauty.  I miss the sisterhood of dieters.  I miss the fantasizing of what life will be like after losing weight.  I miss the day dreaming of things I will do, the person I will become and the many wonderful things that will happen when I lose the weight. 
As I know I've told you before, I still feel my heart skip a beat and my toes curl when I hear about a new diet plan or tool.  And, sometimes I am oh-so-sad that I am no longer on the hunt for the holy grail of diets and weight loss and the glory of entering into the eternal wonderfulness that would surely accompany it. 
Yes, that's all true. 
What I don't miss is being so overweight that my life revolves around what will fit me tomorrow or next week or the next time I am going somewhere special.  I don't miss the embarrassment of being obese. I don't miss the fear that I am an embarrassment to my husband or my children because of my size.   I don't miss the agony of having to think about my size when I get on a  plane or an amusement ride or sit in a booth at a restaurant.  I don't miss the anxiety that accompanies a trip to the doctor when I have to step on the scale and face the number with someone standing right there seeing what I really weigh.  And, I don't miss the constant fear that I will die a 500 pound woman and need to be buried in a double-sized plot. 
I may be a bit crazy but I'm not least not yet.... 
You see that picture of me up there?  
Well, I included it in this blog post for a reason.
Although I adore the jacket I am wearing and the wine I was drinking was exceptional and it  is a picture from a wonderful day, I don't consider it an exceptionally good picture of me.
So, I didn't put it there because I think it's that great.
I put it there because it is a picture I texted to my girlfriend as a way of showing her that we were enjoying a wonderful restaurant that she had recommended.  That explains my "thumbs up"!
I remember so vividly that after I sent it,  I immediately regretted it.  My face looked fat, I looked old, I looked a little pudgy, this jacket is not flattering on me, I shouldn't wear turtlenecks....
A few minutes later, she texted me back....."OMG you look so skinny and elegant"  
I texted back....."Thanks but I think I need to lose a few pounds!"
She responded....."WHY DON'T YOU SEE WHAT I SEE?"
Maybe it was the wine but all of a sudden, her words sent my mind screaming to myself "WHY DON'T YOU SEE WHAT SHE SEES?"  

I'm now working on that.  
I call it my mental diet.  
It feels good to have something to work towards. 
And, it's even better since it has the word diet in it. 


Friday, February 6, 2015

The days are long.....

......but, the years are short.  
This causes me quite a conundrum.

All week, I wished for Friday.
The cold. The snow. The ice build up in the driveway.  My hat hair.  The hunt for rock salt.
Mornings that came too early.  Days that felt too long.
Tired.  Tired. Tired again.  
I couldn't wait until Friday got here.
And, now it's here.
My wish came true.
I will never get back the hours that I wasted wishing the time away.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Yes, I took a long winter's nap.......and all that jazz....

Just when you thought Stories from the Road hit the road.....I'm back.
(and I brought lots of pictures.. ummm...more like evidence .....)
Proof of my official 56th Birthday picture......January 23, 2015
Now, where were we?
Ah, yes, it was Christmas.
I am pretty sure Christmas is what did me in......
And, sadly, I don't really think I'm completely recovered from it all aspects of life.
Even my house is suffering.....
Hard to imagine this corner of the dining room looked this serene and lovely for Christmas Eve dinner!  At the moment, this buffet is piled high with Christmas china and glassware, holiday serving platters and whoknowswhatelse!

Although the holidays were lovely and filled with family and fun, it was also filled with too little sleep, an inconvenient house fire on Christmas day during the evening gift opening session (yes, it's true!).....and a reminder to buy a fire distinguisher!....
Here's the proof....see the fire starting in the background?  We had no idea when we took this picture! I was just taking a picture of my daughter showing off her gift from her cousin (my niece sitting next to her).....

Then, there was lots of cooking, lots of clean up and more cooking and clean up...and then a little bit more...
No sooner did we bid farewell to Christmas weekend, it was all about gearing up for more visitors,  Carmen's birthday, more comings and goings and more cooking and clean up.  And, of course, a little break in there to go to work....
So, considering that we also had lots of Thanksgiving activity and other activity in between Thanksgiving and the holidays, it was non-stop, non-stop for close to 6 solid weeks.  

But, this old girl  held up rather the evidence below proves....
(and, to be totally honest, I thank my Lap Band!   I would have never have had the energy or the desire to keep up with this version of life in Judiland 100+ pounds ago)
Cooking up a feast on Christmas Eve

Celebrating Carmen's birthday with our lovely daughter and her fun beau
Celebrating with my a fun  little place when my niece from Chicago stopped into town

Celebrating New Year's Eve at one of our favorite downtown restaurants before heading to the theatre to usher out 2014 by seeing the musical "Motown"
Bringing in 2015 at midnight at our favorite bar of all time with wonderful friends....

And, then back in the kitchen on New Year's Day to cook up a storm for family and friends
That's where the "holding up pretty well" ended.  
No sooner did I shut the door on the dishwasher for the final load of dishes on New Year's Day did my body decide it was time to crash.   
I turned to Carmen and said "I think I am sick...."
And, I was oh so right!

And, the timing couldn't have been more awful.
You see, we were due to take off  the very next day for a lovely, fun filled Pittsburgh-style weekend at a lovely hotel for a 3-day wedding extravaganza with all the Pittsburgh trimmings for Carmen's cousin's gorgeous daughter.
It was not the time to get sick.....
I decided it was time to ignore my body and just get on with it.
So, I put on my lipstick, dressed myself up and headed into what was to be non-stop fun activity with family and friends from all over the country...and Italy.
I made it through the first day activities with all the energy I could muster and then I made it through the wedding ceremony......
And, what a gorgeous ceremony it was! 

And, then I managed to make it through one martini, part of the fabulous dinner and a few sips of a delicious wine......
The evidence to prove that I did make it through dinner!!!
And, then, I just gave in. 
Unfortunately, even my Lap band couldn't save me.
So, I hobbled up to my wonderful king sized bed in a beautiful room overlooking our beautiful city and I crawled into bed......and I slept...and I coughed....and I slept....and I coughed......
Day 3 came and went.
As everyone else partied it up and enjoyed some of my favorite places in our fabulous city, I watched Food Network, drank Thera-flu concoctions and slept in the comforts of that lovely room....I didn't even have the strength to feel sorry for myself....
No sooner did I recover from that nasty illness, I was off to New York City for several work-related events......
Yes, I hung out on Wall's the New York Stock Exchange....

.......only to return home with another bout of some kind of nasty illness.....
Which brings us to today.....
The remnants of that second nasty illness...or was it really the first nasty illness?....still remain.
And, I still need to chase Christmas away from my house.....
And, there's still gifts to exchange.
And, I want to get back to my running....and many other things.  
But, I made my first stop of getting back to things Stories from The Road. 
I've missed you and I sure hope you missed me.....!

Oh, by the way...the good news?
Yes, there's good news.....
I actually lost 6 pounds since Thanksgiving.

2 martinis + Judiland=PARTY TIME!

 Oh, and did I mention that today is my dear father's 94th Birthday?
My father enjoying his grandchildren on Christmas Day!