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Thursday, December 31, 2009

On this very last day of 2009.......

what are you doing?

It's been quite a year, hasn't it? So much so that I was thinking of doing a Stories from the road year-in-review for today's post. But, when I woke up to a pounding headache from this damn head cold I've been messing with for ions, I decided I might have to tweak my plan. So, I scampered into the bathroom, took my trusty Theraflu, came downstairs to put the kettle on for tea and figured I'd ponder the idea for my year-in-review post. As I flicked on the Christmas tree lights, I caught a glimpse of what was happening outside---a winter wonderland had appeared overnight. Softly fallen snow draped our neighborhood. Untouched. Glistening in the darkness. And, as I gazed out the window, I realized that this was the perfect morning to sit and watch the morning unfold, sipping my tea and silently reflecting on a year that's been....well....quite a year. So, that's just what I did.

May you find a special way to celebrate this last day of 2009......

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Winding down.......

on another year and a historic decade.......

When you really think about's really been something......huh?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tastey Tuesday.....Happy Birthday Carmen Edition!

and, a special plea for some menu/recipe suggestions to ring in the New Year!

Every year, at this point of the season, we have consumed every holiday food imaginable--cooked every which way. Thankfully, Carmen's birthday always comes along and we get the chance to go out and eat something different....something I don't have to cook or clean up after. And, everyone can get exactly what they want. But, before we do that, we're piling in the car for a little family day trip....yes, more family togetherness....ahhhh! Then, after we've sufficiently bonded, we're headed to one of our favorite neighborhood spots....a little place I've told you about many times....where they have the most amazing crab bisque on the planet.
And, their martinis aren't so bad either......

So, I will not be planning a menu or cooking anything for today. Sure, I might be referreeing some spats and coaxing some smiles but I will not be cooking or doing dishes. But, have no and recipes will still be a big part of my day! As we drive and bond and celebrate and sing Happy Birthday, I will be mulling over my New Year's Day menu--when Carmen's whole family comes over to celebrate his birthday and the holiday. It's a tough menu for me to come up with---I labor over it so much so that I think I drive my family completely insane with my angst.

In my mind--the rules are simple for my New Year's Day dinner--I need to serve some kind of pork and not serve anything, I stay clear of ham and sausage. Some years I try to make it somewhat formal, other years I strive for a laid back and casual vibe while other years I go all out and really do it up fancy-schmancy. No matter what, I try to make it special....because, let's face it-- it is special--it's Carmen's birthday dinner and it's the first day of a brand new year.

I need your help.....

To recap--I am looking to have a special dinner menu that is focused on pork but not anything too traditional and it has to appeal to a wide rage of taste buds and it has to meet my standards by being memorable. Oh, and one more thing.....I have promised to make baked potato soup. So, that's definitely on the menu.

Any ideas yet?

The thing about New Year's Day is that everyone has had quite enough of the holidays by that point. They are just a wee bit ragged, a wee bit sick of ham and a wee bit tired of eating and drinking. By the time my guests arrive on my door step--they are holidayed-out. 100% on holiday overload. Which means that my dinner is one. more. thing. they have to do. It's really not the way I aim to entertain! Which I suppose adds to my menu wrestling a bit.

I know, I know....I'm making this into such a big deal.....

But, is a holiday meal and I am having guests in my home. And, in my mind, that makes it important. I'm a firm believer that when you invite guests--they are exactly that--guests. They need to feel special and they need to feel as though everything is effortless--all the result of magic and fairy dust--not a result of hours pouring over menus or slaving in the kitchen or hiding dirty pots and pans in the basement. It's about creating an atmosphere. And, a part of that atmosphere is what is on the menu. In some ways, the food sets the tone for all of it. In my heart and mind, having guests for dinner is not about anything other than making them feel welcomed, entertained, relaxed and appreciated. And, fed with love. It's not about clearing the table or doing the dishes or leaving my kitchen spic and span when they leave. Honestly, honestly--it's not. It's about the experience of sharing a meal together to celebrate that moment in time. It's as simple as that.

It's. as.

Why, yes it is.

Especially if you plan ahead and beg blog readers for help.....

With that in honor of the last Tastey Tuesday of the 2009 Holiday Season as well as Carmen's birthday and my sanity and the fact that I lost over 100 about sharing a few your tried and true recipes that I might be able to use on New Year's Day?????

And, as a thank you to you for your's a recipe I used on New Year's Day 2009......

Guy Fieri's Pork Piccata
  • 3 or 4 pork shoulder blade steaks, cut 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick (3 1/2 to 4 pounds total) (I pounded them to get then thinner)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup peeled garlic cloves, smashed and slightly chopped
  • 5 teaspoons lemon peel, grated
  • 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons bottled capers, drained
  • 5 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons cracked black pepper
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon Italian parsley, chopped


Combine wine, garlic, lemon peel and 3 tablespoons juice, 3 tablespoons capers, mustard, 2 teaspoons cracked pepper and 1 teaspoon salt in small bowl.

Place pork in single layer in 2 1/2 gallon resealable plastic bag or large glass baking dish. Pour wine mixture over pork. If using bag, close bag to seal. Turn bag or pork over in dish to coat with wine marinade. Marinate for 30 minutes at room temperature or in refrigerator for up to 1 hour,

Preheat gas grill to medium-high heat for direct grilling. Remove steaks from marinade, brushing off any large pieces and reserving marinade. Transfer marinade to small sauce pan. Bring to boil; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 1 minute; remove from heat.

Grill steaks, uncovered, for 6 to 10 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 155 degrees F, turning steaks over halfway during grilling and brushing occasionally with reserved marinade. Transfer steaks to carving board. Loosely cover with foil; let rest for 5 minutes.

Remove foil. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Top with remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice, parsley and remaining 1 tablespoon capers. Cut into serving pieces before serving.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Happy Birthday Carmen!
And, thanks to everyone who joined in on this year's Tastey Tuesday Recipe Exchange!
Bon Apetit!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Taking a little break in the holiday action.....

to go to work.........

Whoa. I'm dragging just a little bit and my body feels like it's been used and abused. My entire digestive system is crying out for a bit of normalcy. And, my band is begging for some rest from the constant testing.....yes, that luscious eggnog cheesecake can get through there just fine, thank you.
So, for's goodbye to the wine-infused lunches, the mid-day cookie breaks and the pre-dinner martinis and evening cordials. But, I won't, I repeat--I won't--give up my chai lattes. That's my final answer.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

'Twas 2 days after Christmas.....

and all through the house, everyone is smarter than Judi the louse.....

Yes, friends, I live with
Three Wise Men....
(well, in my case...2 wise men
and 1 wise woman)

Did you know that I am living with three of the smartest people on the planet?
Yes, it's true.... three of the smartest people on this planet live right my house.
Lucky, lucky me.

I don't know about your house, but here in Judiland, everyone has an opinion about everything!
From what I cook to what I say to what I do and everything else in between.
Everything....and I mean up for debate.
And, it's making me crazy.
Very crazy.
It's hard to imagine that I'm actually looking forward to going to work tomorrow.
I'm going to leave Mr. PhD and Miss College Co-ed home to battle out their smarts on their very own.
And the man of the house can go wow the engineering world with his vast knowledge and supreme intelligence on everything from the proper way to load the dishwasher to the best way to use a remote control while sitting in a recliner.
But, for now....I need to caffeinate myself for another day of fighting the forces of blinding brilliance.....

Saturday, December 26, 2009

I've been naughty......

No sooner did Santa's sleigh touch down in the North Pole after his yearly world-wide trip, my naughtiness began. I blame it all on the mini chocolate eclairs. And the wine cheese fondue. And the triple layer almond cream cake. Oh and the smashed new potatoes with roasted garlic smothered in velveteen gravy. It could have been the gooey sweet potato casserole or the hot supressata or the sharp provolone or the heavenly Seyval Blanc that we toted back from a little winery nestled in the mountains near Toni's college or maybe it was the pesto-buttered shrimp or my amazing crab cakes. Who knows. It might have all started with my two martini lunch on Christmas Eve. I'm not so sure.
But, I confess it all---right here, right you, my faithful blog readers. And, I ask for your mercy. And, I beg for you to put in a good word for me with the man in the red suit. I don't want to go on the naughty list so soon...
Today is another day.
And, I promise to do much better today.
Much much better.

Friday, December 25, 2009

A Christmas Greeting......

from my heart to yours.......

May you always find a reason to each and every journey.
Thank you for being a special part of mine.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

My Christmas wish......

are for your prayers for a man I love so Uncle Patsy.
Last night, as we stood by his bedside as he struggled to take each breath, the carolers sang in the hallway. In his gentlemanly way, he tried to sing along. It came from his it always does. Remember this story from last year....?

Please pray that God, in his mercy, gives my dear, sweet Uncle Pat the peace and comfort that he so deserves.
This moment has come too quickly. Too much by surprise.
Funny thing....when the call didn't matter that I hadn't finished shopping or wrapping or cooking.
Nothing mattered. Nothing at all.

My uncle's merry, Irish blue eyes are fading.
His sense of humor--despite his situation--is still in tact.
He still responds in jest...his off-color sayings, his wickedly loving jabs-- despite his illness and his dire circumstances--remain.
Perhaps it's his reward for a life lived in the fast lane but never missing Mass--no matter how many shots of good Irish whiskey he consumed the night before.
I'd like to think God is saying "Patsy, you weren't a bad boy afterall" and my uncle is trying to hold on to his image and prove God wrong.

Over the past 2 years, I've told you so much about's a few reminders....
When Irish Eyes are Smiling
Where the Boys Are

Telling you all about Uncle Patsy was the easy part.
Now, we just have to tell my father.....
I'll be leaving here shortly to take my father to Mass....a place where I know he can hear what I have to say.

I just can't stop thinking about the Christmas Eve when Uncle Patsy drove across town--in a snow storm--with the top of his fancy convertible down--so that my sisters and I could have our new organ to play Christmas carols for him.....
It brings me a smile.

Memories....that's what Christmas is all about.
After you say your prayers for my uncle, please go out and make some memories.
Everything matters. Except for the wrapping and shopping and cooking I didn't get done.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

It's time to......

I'll let you decide how you will get your own merry on......

As for's starts right here, right now! And, that's a promise.
I shall have zero tolerance for any damn thing that gets in my way of getting my merry on.
So, unless you want me to hit you over the head with a yule log, I suggest you put your santa hat on, stick a candy cane in your mouth and sing Jingle Bells.
Oh, and please call me Your Majesty, Queen of Christmas.
No. No.
Call me
Your Majesty, Queen of Christmas, Royal Highness of Size 10 Petite, Duchess of Thinness, High Priestess of Lapbandom and Empress of Judiland.

So merry.....

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Is it Tastey Tuesday....... again?

Don't you think the weeks fly by quicker in December?

We've been nursing some lousy head colds and sore throats and body aches and overall tiredness here in Judiland. Definitely not a good way to usher in the holidays. But, it is what it is. So, in honor of feeling lousy and exhausted and quite unmerry......I decided to start off with a spicey comfort food recipe with a few of my fav ingredients that will chase germs away and bring a little merry back.....

Jalapeno Crab Dip
  • 1 pound lump crabmeat, picked over for shells and cartilage
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 1/2 cup chopped pickled jalapenos
  • 1/4 pound shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce (or more if you are so inclined!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Combine the crabmeat, garlic, jalapenos, Monterey Jack, Worcestershire, hot sauce, salt, and mayonnaise in a medium-size mixing bowl. Toss gently to mix. Spoon the mixture into a medium-size mixing bowl. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese evenly on the top of the crabmeat mixture. Bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit for about 5 minutes before serving with your choice of veggies, crackers or tortilla chips!

And, just for medicinal might want to wash it all down with:

Pomegranate Margarita

  • 1/4 cup pomegranate juice, ( store bought is fine)
  • 1/3 cup Tequila Blanco (about 4 ounces)
  • 1/8 cup Triple Sec (about 1-ounce)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 2 ounces)
  • 12 ounces ice cubes
  • Margarita salt, optional


Combine all ingredients, except salt, in a blender and pulse until frothy and well combined. Rim glasses with lime juice using a lime wedge then dip in margarita salt, pour margarita in your glass and will be cured!!!

Okay, if none of that works......

Try this.....

Cranberry-Apple Dump Cake

  • 1 (16 ounce) can whole berry cranberry sauce
    1 (21 ounce) can apple pie filling
    1 (18 1/4 ounce) box yellow cake mix
    1/2 cup butter
    1/2 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Dump cranberries into an ungreased 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Dump apple pie filling into pan. Spread mixture evenly and spread dry cake mix on top. Cut up butter and dot top of cake. Sprinkle walnuts or pecans over the cake batter. Bake at 325° for 65 to 75 minutes, or until a wooden pick or cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Serve with whipped cream!

And, just in case you need to kick a few extra germs out....follow it up with:

Nuts and berries cocktail

1/2 oz Frangelico hazelnut liqueur
1/2 oz Chambord raspberry liqueur
2 oz cream

Pour ingredients into a stainless steel shaker over ice, and shake until completely cold. Strain into a chilled, stemmed or rocks glass filled with ice.

But, if for some reason you need a little extra comforting.....

May I suggest an old fashioned remedy......
Hot Toddy
1 tbsp honey
3/4 cup of hot tea
2 shots brandy
1 slice lemon
Put on your Christmas jammies.
Brew tea, add to mug. Mix in honey and brandy shots. Add lemon slice. Sip slowly then go to bed and dream of sugar plums.

Perhaps little elves will come and finish up your Christmas list.
Followed by George Clooney crawling in beside you......wearing nothing but his Santa belt.....

Feel the merry return.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Merry Monday........

there's only 4 shopping days left until Christmas......
which means there's only 4 more days until Christmas......
which means that I don't have time for a Monday meltdown or a whining session or to bitch and moan or to shake my fist in the air or stomp my feet or set my hair on fire.
All I have time for right now is to remind everyone that there's only 4 more shopping days left until Christmas....

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Catching up on Christmas......

That is what today is all about.

Yesterday was sinful.....I stayed in my robe and slippers all day long.
I tried...yes, all day, I tried..... nose and my throat and my head and all those body aches just over took me.
And, then there were the movies and the magazines.
Sometimes a girl just has to give in to feeling like shit and being a complete waste.
Yeah, well...that was yesterday.....

TODAY....I'm going to keep the drugs going and the let's-ignore-feeling-like-shit vibes going. And, I'm going to visit Starbucks for my Chai Latte (f*ck, why did they do away with those energy shots?) and do what I need to do.
TODAY is all about baking cookies, wrapping gifts, making f*cking memories and re-making those goddamn lists.....
In between it all, my full nest will want to eat and will make messes that they won't clean up and there's a Steelers game that will require football food and I'll need to visit with my father and attend to his needs and do laundry and shovel snow and figure out menus and shave my legs and my Lapband is tight and I need my eyebrows waxed and I'm pretty sure I forgot some pretty major Christmas gift....
And, to top it off.....tomorrow is Monday!
That's if I make it until tomorrow.....

Yes, I need to take a deep breath.....

Because, yes, this is the most beautiful time of the year.....

Saturday, December 19, 2009


that's one way to cut down my to-do list.....

Snow, a touch of the flu and a full house....perfect reasons to light my smell-like-Christmas candles, make our fav hot chocolate, pull out the board games and piles of magazines, decorate the tree, watch some sappy holiday movies, whip up some comfort food and forget about the mall, the grocery store and all those other places I need to get to
Snow gods, if you can hear me......keep the white stuff coming! block all the roads! close down the town! blanket my world in snow with no chance of escape.....

If only.....

Friday, December 18, 2009

Taking a little blogging break this morning

so I can get ready for my night job......

yes, I am a Rockette......

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Oh what a beautiful morning......!

On this cold and dark December morning, I shuffled across the hall to witness a beautiful site--my little girl slumbering under a pile of pink and ruffles. Her angelic face, silky locks and delicate little hand peeking out from a sea of pastel froth with the smell of her perfume filling the air, mingling with the scents of Christmas candles and pine. Ahhhhh......
Now, I just have to fill the bedroom next to hers and my world will once again feel right.
As I descended the steps and spied the Christmas tree--twinkling in the darkness of the living room--just waiting for my two children to cover it in their special ornaments--all of the stresses that filled my heart and mind these past few weeks suddenly felt lighter.
And, I am once again.....completely and utterly overwhelmed by the joy and peace that mother love can bring.

Thanks to the kindness of my incredibly sweet and extremely adorable niece (who happens to go to graduate school in Collegeland with Toni), my little girl came home two days earlier than expected. What a lovely Christmas surprise. Hard to believe she's finished her first semester as a college girl. Even harder to believe is that her mother made it through.
Now, my holidays can truly begin.....
Oh yes, I am merry.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Got hustle in your bustle?

Got jingle in your jangle?

Got ho in your ho ho?

Got silver in your bells?

Got deck in your halls?

Got nog in your egg?

Got joy in your world?

If not....I suggest you glide on some shiney cherry-hued lip gloss, put on your funky holiday sweater and your red go-go boots and start Christmastizing.
It's the only way to make it through the final stretch.....
Well, I might also suggest a little holiday spirit..........

3/4 oz. dark rum
3/4 oz. dry red wine
3/4 oz. gin
1 oz. orange juice
Lime slice
Mix all ingredients, except lime slice, with cracked ice in a shaker or blender, pour into a chilled Old Fashioned glass, and garnish with lime slice.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

It's Tastey Tuesday again!

.....these weeks sure do go by fast!

Now that we're heading into the final stretch of pre-Christmas parties and whipping up all those scrumptious foods we signed up for as well as putting the finishing touches on our decorating and shopping and wrapping, we're running out of steam and possibly even money!!! 'Tis the season....right?
In honor of this time of the year...when our pocketbooks are getting lighter and we are worried about packing on the pounds and we can't think of one more thing to make.....I wanted to share a recipe that you can use to take to a big pot luck (as I am doing today) or as a nice starter for your holiday meal. And, with the addition of a few extras--it can also be a wonderful meal in itself! It makes a nice presentation, is extremely yummy and can be made less expensively by using store or off-label brands.'s a salad! And, we life-long dieters know---salads are always a welcome addition to any holiday spread. Although, don't let the word "salad" fool' s not exactly diet-conscious. But, it can fool you into thinking that it is.....with all that lettuce!!!
Sometimes it's okay to be fooled....

Judi's Big Holiday Salad
(you can put it in a pretty holiday bowl or one of those big foil roasters)

(I use Aldi's brand or the house brand of the grocery what is least expensive)
(MIX together at least 2 hours ahead to let the flavors mingle...put in fridge)
1/2 bottle of Balsamic Vinegarette Dressing
1/2 bottle of Creamy Ceasar (or Creamy Garlic Ceasar) Dressing
(I go to Aldi's...their prices are the best. But, Sam's & Trader Joe's also has economical prices on these)
2 bags Butter Lettuces
2 bags Spring Mix
Mix Ins
(I use Aldi's brands or house brands or Sam's
or Trader Joe's for these items also)
1 bag dried cranberries
1 container or bag of glazed pecans or walnuts
1 box of boursin cheese---(this is like a cream cheese....
I smash it up with a fork and make it into crumbles....
it mixes with the dressing for a yummy consistency)
1 container crumbled feta cheese
1 bag of shredded Italian cheeses (mixture)
1/2 small container of fried onions
Before ready to serve.....sprinkle lettuce mixture liberally with black pepper
Add all the mix-ins and dressing and fold everything together....toss it very well....coating everything with the dressing and
getting the boursin cheese throughout.
To make it into a main course salad--you can pick up a roaster chicken to shred and add in or cook up a few frozen salmon pieces (seasoned to your liking) to cut up and add in.

Now, come on.....share some of you fav recipes.....
we can all use a little bit of help!!!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Jingle all the way.......

into Monday.....

I'm not sure what possessed me to eat those potato chips yesterday. Maybe it was the pre-lit Christmas tree that is no longer lit. Or, maybe it was the ice storm that delayed my early morning plans to grocery shop. Or, could it have been the fact that it was Sunday and today is Monday? Or, maybe, just maybe it was as simple as--they sounded so awfully good when I spotted them on the shelf of the snack cupboard---gourmet peppercon ranch kettle chips. Perhaps there was nothing complicated about my reasoning for eating those chips. It is just what I did. There doesn't have to be some grand plan or underlying issue that made me eat those chips. As a matter of fact--I' m going to quit trying to analyze it all and focus on Monday. Because getting through Monday takes every ounce of energy and focus that I have.
Here we go.
Jingle, jingle.....

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Hello next-to-the-last Sunday before Christmas.....

so much to do, so little time......

Alright, so, yeah....I did take the day off yesterday and headed to the Christmas tree capital of the world, the birthplace of Jimmy Dean--to hang out with my fav girl. But, it was worth it. We shopped a little, talked a little, had a lovely lunch, went to Starbucks, and just enjoyed the scenery. Sometimes you just need a good dose of forgetting about everything.....
But, now it's time to get back to real life and tangled Christmas lights....

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Over the river and through the woods-ing......

to give a good dose of mother-love and get a good dose of daughter-love.....

You know those packages that parents send their children during finals? They are filled with treats and nourishment to help them get through their tests and projects and papers and late nights. Well, with everything that's been going on in Judiland, I never got around to ordering one for Toni. Although, to be honest, I'm sure she would have called home immediately upon receiving it to reprimand me for sending such unhealthy food. She's very careful like that.

So, yesterday morning, amid all the chaos and craziness, when I found the order form for the "Finals Support Basket" in my purse, I felt just awful. All day long, it bothered me--especially the part of the brochure that said "don't let your child be left out". That just nagged at me all day long. I couldn't shake the visual of every other student on campus receiving their package and my poor daughter standing there dejected and empty handed---feeling unloved and unsupported.
That's when I decided that there is no support basket in the world that could take the place of a mother's love and care.
So, in a few hours, I'm hopping in the car to go to the Christmas tree capital of the world (where she happens to go to school) to wisk my favorite college girl off to lunch at Benjamin's---a lovely little place in her quaint college town that we just love.

The shopping and the decorating can wait.....

Friday, December 11, 2009


that's me!
Call me frigid.....I don't care.
Because underneath it all......I've got the cutest pair of red silk undies on my freezing ass.

It's mighty cold here in my little suburban hamlet. The wind has been whipping and the temps have been falling. They always say the thin girls feel the cold weather more than the fat girls. But, I'll take freezing my red silk clad ass off in place of having a freezing big ass wearing red big girl panties. I'll gladly don a pair of leggings under my size 8 jeans and wrap an extra scarf around my neck (and it looks so stylish!) if that's what I need to do. And, I have no problem wearing a cute furry vest under my jacket and a pair of darling, ruffled red leather gloves. And, if I have to wear that cute little red flannel bucket Toni left's no problem. And, if the day calls for an extra chai latte or even a hot toddie--I'm game. My 115 pound "blanket" might be gone but my mind is still in tact.
Life might not be perfect and I might be shivering and cursing the cold but at least I'm doing it in my size 8 jeans.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

All I want for Christmas is......

it's time to make our lists!

Yes, it's true, blog friends, my blog has a direct link to Santa this year.

No need to email your wishlists to Santa or throw them in the mailbox.

Now that Santa has been Lapbanded (remember this?), he's an avid reader right here on Stories From the Road.

What's on your Christmas list this year?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Am I sure this is FOR REAL?

another question to ponder......along with is there really a Santa Claus?

The other night, as my sister, her friend and I sat a little Mexican cantina sipping some damn good margaritas, the subject of my weight loss surgery came up. Doesn't the topic of weight--in some form or another-- always come up when a few women get together?
Well, at least with the women I know....
In any case, it seems like everyone knows somebody who has had weight loss surgery. And there's always a story to tell. Typically, I'm the one telling the stories. But, on this particular night, I was listening to them. The story (or more accurately...the stories) revolved around women who had weight loss surgery, lost a great deal of weight and then gained it all back....and then some. Sad, sad stories. After story number two--I needed another margarita. Extra calories--yes. But, mostly, I needed # 2 to beat down my fears.
Will I soon be one of those women in the stories that other women casually talk about as they sip margaritas?
I mean, it's not like I've never been down this road before. No, no, not sitting on a bar stool drinking margaritas. I've been the girl who lost a great deal of weight and without even realizing it, put it all back on....and then some. We all know the dieting drill....we lose the weight and gain it back only to lose it again and gain it back again, again and again. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. It's the curse of the lifelong dieting lifestyle. The life sentence that comes with food love and fat genes. The battle of the bulge. The albatross of obesity. The end result of yo-yo dieting, gaining and losing, over eating, restricting food and always seeking that magic bullet to end the sufferage. I am astutely aware that losing weight is the easy part.....keeping it off is the hard part. Which means that I am doing the hard part. Perhaps that's why I needed margarita #3....with extra salt, please.
Just like those onion rings that have been stuck in my brain since Monday--I haven't been able to stop thinking about gaining back the weight. Part of me thinks it's absurd to even worry about it. Yet, another part of me--with all of my collective wisdom--thinks that maybe right now I am living in la-la land where I am wearing a Size 10 petite (sometimes even a size 8) and that soon I'll be crawling back into those Size 12s and calling Jody with a Size 14 emergency soon after that. Only to be followed by returning to the plus size stores I haven't shopped in since way back when....thus once again revitalizing their business!
Does the fear of being fat ever really go away?
Or, is it a real fear that I need to seriously work hard not to realize?
I mean, I can't imagine--with the small amount of food that I can eat that I could somehow gain it all back.....and then some.
But, will that change over time?
Is my weight loss real?
And what about Santa Claus?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

It's Tastey Tuesday!!!

Time to share those recipes!

Yesterday, in order to deal with Monday, I got some onion rings for lunch. Onion rings are one of my favorite foods. But, they are not something that I eat very often--especially for lunch. But, when I walked into the food court in our building and I smelled those onion rings--I just had to have them. Unfortunately, they couldn't just sell me a few onion rings--I had to buy an entire basket. So, I handed over my $2.95 and bought the basket--with the hopes of sharing them with some of my coworkers in the office. As it turned out--even though everyone was lured by the smell and my hallway was a-buzz with onion ring love declarations--I didn't have any takers. That is--until I practically forced one on Rebecca and one on Gerry. Which left me with the rest. Thankfully, my Lapband didn't allow me to eat too many. But, oh, they were so good. Fresh. Crispy. Hot from the fryer. With a side of ketchup. Just the way I like them. Onion ring ectasy. For sure.
I've been thinking about those onion rings ever since. Thank God the food court will be closing down in a few days for the holiday break. Hopefully, I'll forget all about them come January. Because I'm pretty sure I'd be buying onion rings a little too often if I could. If they are out of sight (and smell), they will be out of mind. But, for right now--they are still on my mind. So, to keep me from taking a trip to the onion ring counter today--I figured I'd get my onion fix some other way.
Here's a few onion-ring-inspired recipes you might want to try. I guarantee their yumminess.

Carmelized Onion Soup
  • 3 pounds sweet onions, such as Vidalia, Walla Walla, or Maui(sliced thin)
  • 3 tablespoons butter, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, splash of balsamic vinegar
  • 12 medium shallots, halved (about 12 ounces)
  • 2 cups beef broth and 2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup tablespoons dry white wine
  • Salt and pepper
  • 6 ounces cheese--grated (I use any sharp firm white cheese I have on hand)


In a large skillet, heat butter & oil. Add the onion slices in a single layers. Gradually add the wine. Cook, uncovered, over medium heat until golden brown and carmelized (about 10-15 minutes). Keep an eye on them and turn frequently.

Splash with balsamic vinegar and cook for an additional 5-8 minutes.
Transfer mixture to soup pot, add remaining ingredients (except for cheese)
Cook, uncovered, over medium heat for 40 to 45 minutes--stirring occasionally.

Ladle into bowls, top with cheese (you can put it under the broiler or just stir in to melt)

Makes about 6 main-dish servings

Baked Vidalia Onions


  • 4 large Vidalia onions
  • 1/4 cup cold butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup shredded (fresh) Parmesan cheese


Peel onions, leaving roots intact. Cut each onion into eighths, cutting just to the root, but not through. Place each onion on a lightly greased square of foil. Press butter into onions, then sprinkle with salt, pepper, and cheese. Wrap in the foil then arrange in a 13 x 9-inch baking pan. Bake at 400 for about 1 hour.
Serves 4.

Homemade Onion Dip


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups diced onions
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt


In a saute pan over medium heat add oil, heat and add onions and salt. Cook the onions until they are caramelized, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Mix the rest of the ingredients, and then add the cooled onions. Refrigerate and stir again before serving.

Have an ONION-ly Tastey Tuesday!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Silent night.........?

Everyone must have been very busy yesterday.
Perhaps you were decorating or shopping or baking or doing some holiday thing.
Or, maybe you were having visions of sugar plums.
Or, maybe you were sleeping or getting a pedicure or you were hungover or you might have been stringing popcorn.
Or, who knows.....maybe you thought I was being extra nosey with all my questions.
Well....I forgive you all for not sharing your inner most Christmas secrets.
After's not like I answered my own questions! Right?

Alrighty then, I guess I better set a good example.....

Egg nog or hot chocolate?
Definitely HOT CHOCOLATE! We use Williams Sonoma--I spice it up with a little dash of cinnamon, vanilla and cayenne pepper and top it off with marshmallow creme. Can't wait until the kids get home so I have good excuse to make it!
But, with that being said....I make a mean Egg Nog. I don't like it but Vince loves it....

Favorite Christmas carol?
When I need a little's O Holy mom's fav.
When I just need to think "Christmas"'s White Christmas
When I want to get my feeling good and smiling vibes's Bruce's rendition of Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town. I have so many memories of concerts sitting in E-5.....

Favorite Christmas movie?
Again, I'm a fickle girl....
When I want to feel warm and holidayish....White Christmas
When I want to laugh.....Jingle All the Way
On, geez....I love 'em all....
No matter what....I'm a sucker for holiday movies....!

What's on the top of your Christmas tree?
This is a tough question since I have only managed to put one Christmas tree up so dining room tree. On the top of that tree I have a spiked, sparkled, snow covered thingy with a white and gold chiffon bow attached with a fluffy angel that has a Merry Christmas wire thingy sticking out of it....
Oh yeah...that explains it real well...
And, I'm not sure if what usually tops our big family tree will actually work this year since it was on it's last leg last year. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that my rotating Avon Santa and His Sliegh will continue flying on the top of my tree! I love it!!!
As for all the other trees......I have not put them up yet. Who knows what will top depends on what kind of mood I am in!!!

What's your favorite Christmas tradition?
My Christmas Eve drink with's the one time in his busy world that he actually makes my drink. He makes a perfect martini. I wait all year for it. It's the most relaxed time the two of us share all year long.

What's your favorite Christmas food?
Pasta with aglio olio. I miss pasta so much!!!!

What is your best Christmas memory?
Christmas Eve when I was growing up with my mother and our big Italian family. I only had 14 years of it---but those years have lingered on in my Christmas heart. After my mother died, I dreamed about doing it "when I grew up". Someday, I will recreate that memory and give myself and my children the gift of that very special time. During the holidays, my biggest heartbreak is that I have never been able to fully keep that tradition. But, I dream of the day when I will.

Alright, now that I have bared my Christmas soul perhaps YOU can be brave and do the same!
Yeah, Happy Monday!!!!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Tell me your Christmas Story........

Egg nog or hot chocolate?

Favorite Christmas carol?

Favorite Christmas movie?

What's on the top of your Christmas tree?

What's your favorite Christmas tradition?

What's your favorite Christmas food?

What is your best Christmas memory?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Bring it on BING!

I need ya old pal......
There's nothing like the sound of Bing crooning the Christmas classics to get us all in the mood for decking the halls and shopping the malls.
Ain't that right?
That's what I'm banking on......

It's cold and dark and early here in my little suburban hamlet. I've been starring--bleary-eyed-- at my to-do list since 4:30 am. But, nothing's happening. I'm looking for inspiration and motivation.....but I'll have to settle for caffeine. Starbucks isn't open yet and even if it was-- I'm still in my fuzzy leopard robe, my hair is not very presentable and I'm pretty sure I have remnants of yesterday's make-up under my eyes---not a good look to flirt with my cute barista. So, I'm going to scuffle my way into the kitchen and put on the kettle for tea. Maybe I'll start humming some Christmas carols....

I've got soooooo much to do......

Alright, alright.....I have a wee little confession to's still totally Thanksgiving here in Judiland. Oh sure, the neighborhood is slowly transforming itself into a festive holiday lane....with the lights and the swags of evergreens and the wreaths and the big red bows. Everyday, I spot a new Christmas tree sparkling in a window and a new decoration popping in a front yard. But, in my little red brick cottage....there's pumpkins on the doorstep and garlands of fall leaves with orange twinkle lights framing the doorway. The Christmas transformation has not happened yet. But, it will....I promise. Maybe it's just that whole empty nest thing that I've got going on that's slowing me down---you know I do blame everything on that lately! Or, maybe it's just life in general that's been getting in the way. Or, heaven forbid--maybe I'm not in the Christmas spirit...quite yet. Whatever it is--I must banish it--along with the pumpkins and the orange twinkle lights--from my little world. Because we all know that if Judi doesn't bring Christmas to Judiland, there ain't no one else that will.....
So, Bing baby....can you throw yourself on the turn table and sing a little while for me?
I need carried back to when my mother would pull out her prized White Christmas album, put it on the hi-fi and my dad would tell his infamous story of hearing White Christmas for the very first time (as he was returning from WWII) as his Army ship crossed into American waters a few days before Christmas....making him and all his comrades cry.
Yep, there's nothing like a little Bing, a few memories.....and some good strong tea.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Only 20 shopping days left........

Be your Santas a trip to the mall.....

To all my friends and family:

You have my permission to be naughty....very, very naughty.

Starting right now.

Doesn't that sound much more fun that getting a present?


Thursday, December 3, 2009

So, I'm not perfect.......

and clearly I am not alone!

Ahhhh, it feels good to be among friends.....

Yesterday, after I posted about my eating transgressions, my email overflowed with support and comfort as well as many admissions of recent eating transgressions from so many blog readers!

It's amazing what a little confession will do....

Which brings me to this point that one blog reader (who will remain anonymus) made.....

"We're in a time when everyone is connected to everyone

and we all feel like we have to explain ourselves to each other!

We have all become celebrities!
If we don't admit to our bad behavior by ourselves then someone else will rat us out!."

she then when on to say

"It is my turn to admit that I ate the gooey filling out of an entire pecan pie"

Ms. Anonymus is right. As evidenced by the daily celebrity gossip news and even the so-called serious news headlines---we are all on the world's stage doing what we do--good or bad. Our access to each other has made the world a very small place. Which works well for some of us some of the times and not so well for some of us some of the times. If you know what I mean....

Yet, here in my little blogland....I'm appreciative of the smallness of my world stage. And, I'll offer up my confessions when it works for me....and maybe even when it works for you. Because sometimes it's just nice to know that you're not alone when you're scarfing down mashed potatoes smothered in gravy.......

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Oh shit, I'm not perfect.....

I've been eating little chocolate baubles and left over pumpkin pie with whipped cream and turkey and stuffing and mashed potatoes smothered in gravy......

There, I said it.
Did you hear me?
Do I need to repeat it?
Alright, I'll talk a little louder.....
I've been eating little chocolate baubles and left over pumpkin pie with whipped cream and turkey and stuffing and mashed potatoes smothered in gravy......

Can you hear me now?

I'd love to think that by admitting to this, the calories will somehow evaporate. A-la the confessional diet. But, that particular diet never worked very well for me in my pre-Lapband days. I doubt it's going to work now. The only good thing (if there is a good thing!) is that I can't eat as much of those things as I once did. Well....except for the mashed potatoes--they go down just fine and gravy helps even more. And, I'm doing an amazingly fine job eating those mashed potatoes with gravy. (holiday leftovers....pure evil in a tupperware container)
I gotta get a grip.
The bad thing about the rationale that I can't eat as much as I used to so that makes it okay is that since I am at a much lower weight, it won't take as much to put a few pounds on me. And, regardless of my Lapband....I am still living in Judi's body. It's a body that gains weight at the speed of light. A 48 year study was conducted and the results were indisputable. It was scientifically proven that this body of mine can gain weight in just a few short hours! Give me a holiday season and this body can jump 2 pants sizes. It's all very well documented.
Now, I'm not going to panic over a few pounds. No. No. That's my old life. That's the feast or famine Judi way of life. But, damn, I'm definitely panicking over the fact that I've been eating little chocolate baubles and left over pumpkin pie with whipped cream and turkey and stuffing and mashed potatoes smothered in gravy.....

Yes, I have my moments. My not so perfect moments. And, I'm smack dab in the middle of a stretch of them. Just when you think you can come here to my blog and get inspiration from the perfect Lapbander, you find out--she's eating little chocolate baubles and left over pumpkin pie with whipped cream and turkey and stuffing and mashed potatoes smothered in gravy.....

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Back by popular demand!!!

Drum roll please......

Yes, friends, it's the 2nd Annual Tastey Tuesday Recipe Exchange!

It's where we all help each other out by sharing our most coveted holiday recipes......
For a link to last year's here!

Let's start off with a super easy, quick, not-exactly calorie or fat conscious (but completely Lapband friendly) recipe that's sure to woo your guests and comfort everyone around you. The key here is to keep the ease of this recipe a secret. Don't tell anyone what it really is. Trust me, it's a keeper......
I'm known far and wide for these....

Judi's Famous Mashed Potatoes

3 small bags of instant mashed pototatoes--mix them up!

-Four cheese

-Roasted Garlic

-Butter Flavor

Add 1 package dry Ranch Dressing

Throw in butter, milk and chicken broth and a big dollop of sour cream

Lots of black pepper

Mix it all up!

Throw it in the microwave

(for the amounts and times, check the directions on the bag and go with the consistency, butteriness you prefer)

Now, remember.......shhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!