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Friday, September 30, 2011

A little change in plans.......

Today, I will not be blogging about Lap Band issues.
Nope. I won't be doing that today.
Hopefully I'll do it tomorrow.
But, if I don't do it tomorrow then I'll do it the next day.
If I don't do it that day, I'll do it the day after that.
In other words.....I will definitely do as I promised.
Just not today.

Good bye September.
Happy Friday.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Just say NO!

That's what the Lap Band is all about!

Once again, I'm back with my end-of-September All Lapband Talk....answering all those questions about life (my life, that is) with a Lap Band!
A life that includes NO DIETING!

When I look back at my dieting life, I realize that I spent years and years dedicated to one diet or another......
No carbs.
No fats.
Little pills.
Secret potions.
Group meetings.
Food logs.
Food combining.
Packaged meals.
Diet shakes.
Calorie counting.
Yadda. Yadda. Yadda.
My life became all diet-all the time.
Was it a habit or a hobby?
Your guess is as good as mine.
What was the end result of all that dieting? I was obese.

Reflecting on it all, what I walk away with is this many little time. In life.
I can't get back those years or recapture that effort or that energy or that money.
Perhaps I don't want to or need to. Perhaps I just need to chalk it up to part of the journey that brought me to where I am today......

Now, on to those questions about DIETING.....

*What is different about having a Lap band and going on a diet?

In my dieting life, it was all about deprivation. Sure, the folks who sell those diet programs will tell you that you will never feel deprived. Maybe I never figured out how to not feel deprived. But, no matter what program I was following or what I was doing--there was deprivation in my life. Whether I was deprived of fats or carbs or not having the extra funds to buy shoes because I was dolling it out to some program or doctor or buying some fancy packaged meals or paying for a promising medication or injection--I felt deprived. I am a girl who does not like to be deprived. I enjoy food way too much to give up an entire food group and I'd rather spend time with my family than going to weekly meetings or appointments. And, as you can imagine--I'd rather spend my hard earned money on clothes and shoes and lip gloss than on packaged meals, pills and diet doctors or programs. But, for years and years I did it. Only to find myself obese at the age of 48.
Why is the Lap Band different? Because it is NOT about deprivation. It's about eating and living your life. Now, you are probably scratching your head here because you're thinking about the pasta and the bread that I can't eat these days. I can understand your confusion. What I can tell you is that my Lap Band is a part of my body that helps me to limit my food intake. My body does not want that food. I am not feeling deprived in a physical sense. The emotional side takes a while to catch up--granted. However, it all comes together once you start losing weight and feeling better about yourself and fitting into smaller sizes and hearing compliments and having more energy. And, when you realize that is a life long get it. The light bulb goes off. The diet is not going to be over like every other diet you've been on. All of this makes a huge difference in how you go forward!
I know, I know....I sound like I'm selling Lap Bands. Trust me, I make no profit from anything I say on my blog. In fact, I'm sure the Lap Band manufacturers would not pay me to advertise for them because sometimes I don't follow all the rules. They say no caffeine. I say screw it. I can't live without my chai and my iced tea. They say no alcohol. I say that's not my life--I love my weekly gin martini and sipping my wonderful wines. I'm sure there's other rules I don't follow but damn, I was never a rule girl. I have made the Lap Band work for me and my life and I truly---down to my toes that currently need a pedicure--believe that everyone has the opportunity to make it work for them if they give it a shot.
I'm not dieting. I'm living. That's the bottom line.

*If you are able to lose weight on diets but could not keep it off then what made you believe that you could do it with a Lap Band?

You know, I think by the time I decided on getting weight loss surgery, I had already convinced myself that I was done with dieting. I had given up, I was disgusted and I was feeling like a complete failure.
Before I got the Lap Band, I didn't do any major research. I heard a commercial while I was frantically trying to find something to fit me to wear to a formal Christmas dinner party that was happening in less than an hour. I was within minutes of calling the hostess to tell her that I had some terrible illness. I actually stopped and listened to the commercial--even though I was in a major panic. That commercial gave me some hope that I could finally solve my weight issues and it helped get me out the door. Even though I don't think I made the final-final-final decision at that moment to get the Lap Band--the seed was planted and the rest is history. To be honest--I am not sure if I believed for sure that I could keep it off. I had done everything else so I figured let's get it a shot. Now that I am living the Lap Banded life, I know it was the right choice for me. It is a permanent solution. It is what I needed. My diets were all temporary. I am a believer. My own personal experience is what makes me a believer.

*How does maintenance work with the Lap Band?

Maintenance was the one thing that I was terrified of. Past experience with trying to keep the weight off was not good. Thus, a big part of my terror! As I edged closer and closer to my goal of losing 100 pounds, that fear fell to the wayside and I began to worry about other aspects of maintenance. At that point, I trusted my Lap band and had faith in myself so I wasn't worried about gaining weight! One of the things I was concerned about, however, was getting to the point when I was not being rewarded by weight loss. Never in the my life had I ever tried not to lose weight. I just loved losing the weight--I loved all the excitement of weighing myself and seeing the scale go down, I loved seeing my pants get too big and having to buy a smaller size, I loved people telling me that I was "looking good"! I didn't know how I was going to stay motivated when I wasn't being rewarded by the number on the scale. Although at first, I did struggle with those things, I also found myself so thrilled with my accomplishment that I floated on that bubble for quite some time.
As with anything, if you do it long enough, it becomes a way of life even though sometimes you slack off a bit here and there. That's what happened with my Lap band. My maintenance is not so much about doing some kind of maintenance program--it's more about continuing to live with my Lap Band. It's not burdensome nor does it interfere with my daily living. It's just there. I liken it to the way the never-overweight or never-obese people of the world integrate eating into their lives---it's just what they do!! I don't think there's a magic to maintenance. What I do think is that because my weight loss happened over a two year period, the way of life became my new normal. Somedays I do find that I eat a little bit more of this and a little bit more of that but my Lap Band has been the tool that has helped me keep things in check. I'm pretty sure that's what maintenance is all about.

Sometimes when I end my blog, I am shocked at how much I have to say.
I guess I shouldn't be surprised that I have a lot to say about DIETS.....

I'll be back tomorrow to answer those questions I received about "Lap Band Issues".......
I'll bet you just can't wait!!!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Food! Glorious Food!

I'm back to answer those pesky food questions that a few blogger friends have emailed me the past few weeks.
One email in particular was actually the catalyst for me deciding to answer these questions on my blog. The author commented that she noticed that I "talk a heck of a lot about cooking and food and going out to eat". She is in the throes of the pre Lap Band hoop jumping and trying to figure out life beyond the Lap Band. The poor woman has herself convinced that her food-love days are over and she will be relegated to living a life barren of the major cook-a-thons and holidays and celebrations and nights out that have always been part of her life. Hopefully I'm not too late in letting her know that it's going to be okay. I'm hoping that other seasoned Lap Banders will chime in here and agree with me! The truth of the matter is that YES, things will change. At first, it may feel like you will die if you can't eat another huge hamburger or a pound of pasta or a whole loaf of artisan bread. Harsh reality--HOPEFULLY that is true. If it's not, go back to your surgeon and complain!
Let me assure you---you will be fine. Your Lap band will help you. It will take awhile to get adjusted (in more ways than one) but your Lap Band will help you. It won't do all the work--you do have to rely on knowing the rules Then all of a will realize that food has become an even more important and more enjoyable part of your life. It will become more about the quality and not the quantity of what you are eating. You will demand that you only eat food that tastes amazing!!! Your nights out will become more about the experience, the company and the conversation (and the drinks!). Your cooking will become more about the joy of the entire process--from the recipe hunt to the preparation to the serving. Trust me, you will have some of your best meals after your Lap band. YOU will make sure of it!
Veteran Lap Banders: Am I right or am I wrong?

Now that we have that all cleared up.....

What is your typical daily food intake now that you have lost your weight?

I don't count calories so I could not give you a calorie count (btw, I never counted calories since I got my Lap Band)
A typical Monday-Friday Day looks like this:
Breakfast: Protein drink--8 oz Bolthouse Perfect Protein Soy Vanilla Chai, 4 oz of Tzao Chai Latte Concentrate, lots of ice
Mid-morning: Chunk or slice of a hard, sharp cheese or container of low fat yogurt
Lunch at my desk: Some favorites include: Hummus mixed with feta cheese on pita chips, yogurt and water or low fat soup (from deli or brought from home), crackers and iced tea or a small scoop of tuna or chicken salad with melba toast and yogurt or
Lunch if I am out of office: Soup or small caesar salad or burger pattie with all the trimmings/no bun
Mid-afternoon snack: Almonds and cheese or Yogurt or Starbucks Non fat Chai Latte
Dinner: 3-5 oz of beef, chicken or seafood, roasted veggies or polenta with tomato sauce and cheese or eggplant bake with ricotta or Home made soup with cheese and croutons or pizza made on a whole-wheat tortilla

*What foods do you have to avoid?

I do not do good with bread or pasta or rice. So, I stay clear of those as much as possible. I've had issues with chicken and beef if it's not cooked right. I have to be very careful to take small bites and chew very wel.l

*What foods can you always eat?

The good or the bad??? I'm able to eat a lot of chocolate, mashed potatoes, chips, popcorn, pudding, ice other words...the creamier or the crunchier, the better.
So, I have to stay very clear of them. Sure, I eat them but not in large amounts. The key is to fill myself up on the things that I can eat in moderation. I do very well with crab--which I adore! So, crab based dishes are always good go-tos for me if I really want to treat myself. Most soups I can eat pretty easily too.
Because we do frequently go out to dinner, I am very familiar with several restaurant foods that work very well for me. My husband is a bit of a picky eater,a bit of a restaurant snob and a creature of habit so we tend to go back to a lot of the same restaurants. When we go to familiar restaurants, I don't even have to look at the menu. When I walk into one of our favorite haunts, I'm positive the waitress says "here comes the gin martini and crab with alfredo sauce girl..."!!!

*What do you do about holiday meals?

This is a tough one to give a general answer since most holiday meals tend to have personal emotions and either family, religious or nationality traditions associated with them. For instance, in our family, our Thanksgiving stuffing is always made with meat and cheese. Being Italians, we always have some type of pasta course. And, our Christmas Eves are seafood-based. One thing is certain--we always have lots of good food that we only eat once a year--which is probably true for most people. So, I don't deprive myself. On holidays--I look at things this way--certain foods have a very emotional attachment to them and I have to taste them to get that feeling of the season. So, that's what I do--I have whatever I want--I take a little bit of all of my favorite things that I need to have! I eat what I can....very slowly....and I am happy.

All that talking about food has me STARVING......
Which proves that sometimes it's mind over matter
Because I'm never ready for food at 5 am!!!! (unless, of course, I've been out all night!)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Easing our way out of September......

and into October.
(our beautiful campus at the height of it's color in October..)

Before I jump feet first into the glorious, colorful and eventful month of October, I wanted to spend the rest of the month's blogging opportunities to pause and answer a few basic Lap band/diet/food related/weight loss related questions that have come my way via email over the past few weeks.......
In the interest of time and just in case there are others who may want to know the same things, I decided to do them all in one full swoop and share with everyone!
Let me preface my responses by saying that this is how things are for ME on my own person journey.....your mileage may vary.

Let's start with....
The Basics....some general questions....
*How long did it take to lose 100 pounds?

It took almost 2 years to lose 100 pounds

*How old were you when you got your Lap Band?

I was 48....August 10, 2007

*Where you ever successful on any other diets?

Yes, in 1986, I lost over 80 pounds with Weight Watchers.
Yes, in 1987, I lost over 40 pounds with Weight Watchers.
Yes, in 1989, I lost over 50 pounds with Jenny Craig.
Yes, in 1991, I lost over 60 pounds with Weight Watchers.
Yes, in 1993, I lost over 50 pounds with Jenny Craig.
Yes, in 1994, I lost over 40 pounds with Weight Watchers.
Yes, in 1995, I lost over 60 pounds with Bariatric Weight Loss.
Yes, in 1996, I lost over 30 pounds with Weight Watchers.
Yes, in 1997, I lost over 40 pounds with Bariatric Weight Loss.
Yes, in 1998, I lost over 80 pounds with Bariatric Weight Loss.
Yes, in 2000, I lost over 50 pounds with Bariatric Weight Loss.
Yes, in 2001, I lost over 20 pounds with Jenny Craig....
Yes, you get the picture....

*Did you tell anyone about having Lap Band surgery?

Yes, I told anyone and everyone who would listen.
If I didn't tell them, my father did.

*How hard was the recovery?

It wasn't bad. Sure, the first few days were not fun. After all, it is surgery.
But, within a week, I was out test driving new vehicles, I went to a party and I even went shopping! You can go all the way back in my archives to see what I was saying back then!

*What was the hardest part of getting the Lap Band?

The months leading up to it--I was completely panicked about giving up my beloved Diet Coke and Gin and Tonics (no fizzy stuff) and depressed to the point of shedding lots of tears about never eating pasta or bread again. I was extremely worried about not ever being able to use a straw. I was abnormally transfixed on what I couldn't have and I had myself convinced I would fail because of those things. I wasn't worried about too much else---not even the pain of surgery! I wasn't even concerned about any risks or complications. It was all about the fizzy drinks, the straws, the pasta and the bread.

*Did your insurance cover the cost of the surgery? And, if so, did you have any trouble getting your insurance company to approve it?

My insurance covered all but $900 of the surgery (not sure why!). My insurance company approved it on the first try. In addition to jumping through every hoop that they required prior to getting the surgery, I have to admit that I went over board on giving them more information than probably any Lap Band patient in the world. They probably approved me in self-defense!! I put together a huge binder that cost me over $12 to mail!!! I treated getting approved as if it were a job--I left no stone unturned. I provided extremely detailed documentation about my weight loss history---I itemized costs and efforts and results and exact time frames. I'm not much of a data person but I can proudly say that with the help of technology and some smart friends--I did pie charts and graphs and spreadsheets! I solicited all of my medical records and I had several of my doctors write letters of reference and recommendations. I provided quite a bit of family history ---especially about the weight issues family members have faced and the outcomes of their obesity (illness, death, quality of life). I even told them what every person in my immediate family weighed! I wrote quick stories about how my obesity impacted my life, my marriage, my parenting, etc. I sent them pictures too!!! I even told them about how my own mother succumbed to some crazy diet--getting daily injections of pregnant women's urine and only eating 500 calories a day (a diet that is still out there!)---only to soon be diagnosed with intestinal cancer that took her life in less than 2 months--leaving behind 3 young girls. Yes, I pulled out all the stops.

I am not suggesting anyone go as over board as I did but what I am saying is that you have to put in the time and effort to get the result you want. Some insurance companies may just have policies that won't permit the surgery. Mine permitted it but they also made it clear they would not approve it for everyone! So, I made damn sure they would approve me!

Come back tomorrow and I'll bore you all with my answers to some food-related questions I received.....

Monday, September 26, 2011

Welcome to the 100 Club Kirstie!

Please join me in sending out a big shout out to one of my favorite we-could-be-BFFs-if-we-knew-each- other celebrities.....Kirstie Alley.
She lost 100 Pounds!
Welcome to the club sweetie! I know exactly how you feel! You look amazing!
I'm loving the dress you're wearing in this picture!
And....just between you and me....I'm keeping my fingers crossed that you will get your wish and start getting some sex!
No need to thank me....that's what we-could-be-friends-if-we-knew-each-other are for!

Now that all the high-fiving and finger crossing is over.... I have a little bone to pick with you.
Since we could be bffs and all.....I shall say this with a lot of love....
Listen, bitch, stop with all the bullshit bragging
that you didn't lose the weight with the help of weight loss surgery....
saying it as if there's something wrong with it!!!
That's not a very nice thing to do to your 100 Club team mates.
We all deserve our 100 pounds whether we got some help from a few little slits in our bellies or from a bottle of some newfangled organic formula and lots of dancing.
Don't slap us it?
We all chose our own paths, we all did a lot of work
and we all deserve every damn pound we lost.
If you don't stop talking like that, I'll just have to make you prove that you really wear a Size 6.
(because I think you look more like an 8....just sayin')

Now that that's over's time to tackle Monday.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


as in cook up some comfort food, pack away the summer stuff, get a coppery shade of lip gloss and a new pair of boots....

That's what's happening in Judiland today.

A week or so ago, I took a quick jaunt to Williams Sonoma for a little foodie inspiration, to pick up some of my pantry staples and to check on a wedding registry.
As is so happens, my WS store is smack dab in the middle of a few of my favorite places--Footloose, Chico's and Starbucks.
Which means that I ended up with more than just foodie inspiration.
Considering it was still a bit summery, my mind was not completely wrapped around the idea of Fall fashion or Fall food.
I was still eeking out the final days of summer, thinking about caprese, capris and iced chai.
With the flip of the season, things have now changed.
Fast forward to right now and I'm all about filling the house with the scents of the season, simmering something yummy on the stove, sipping an extra hot chai and scooping up some scrumptious boots and savory lip shades.
But, on that hot summer day just a week or so ago, after picking up my last pair of capris and sandles of the season and fetching my iced chai, I found myself enticed by the aroma wafting out of the WS store.
Since I was on my way there anyhow, I picked up the pace and headed straight to the demonstration area of the store to see what was cookin'....
It was something called Farro.
What the hell is Farro?
As someone who considers herself roughly a B+/A- food student and managed to pack on the pounds making the grade, I could not imagine there was a food that I had never tasted, never cooked or never even heard of it!
But, there is was--right there--Farro (read this....very interesting)
As it turns out--Farro is the food I've been looking for.
It packs the protein my protein obsessed husband demands and I need, it is a complex carbohydrate--which will make my carb-fearing husband content, it is a bit crunchy--which makes it more Lapband friendly and it seems to be extremely versatile.
And, it's Italian.
So, today, as part of my Fallenizing, I'm introducing a new food to Judiland.
Welcome Farro!
I'm going to cook it up like this....

Farro with Sweet Potatoes
  • 2 cups Whole Grain Farro
  • ⅓ cups hearty Red Wine
  • 3 Tablespoons Butter, Divided
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 2 cups Baked, Peeled And Cubed Sweet Potatoes
  • 1 sprig Rosemary (chopped)
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste
  • Rinse farro, place in saucepan and cover with 1.5 inches of water, then add wine and salt. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook farro uncovered until all water has boiled away, about 20-30 minutes.
    While farro boils, heat a skillet over medium heat. Add one tablespoon butter and olive oil. Toss sweet potatoes with salt, pepper and chopped rosemary. Brown potatoes in the skillet, turning once or twice, 10-15 minutes.
    To serve, divide farro and mix in one tablespoon of butter to each portion. Place browned potatoes on top.
Here's what's on the rest of the menu.....
Trader Joe's Pork Roast Florentine (this is the first time we are trying this....fingers crossed. It was the demo at TJ's and was great when I taste tested it at the store)
Arugula Salad with toasted pine nuts, goat cheese, dried cranberries and Ken's Steakhouse Creamy Balsamic dressing
Clinton Kelly's Honey Roasted Figs with Vanilla Ice Cream and Amarettie Cookies (another new-to-me recipe I saw on GMA earlier in the month...lots of finger-crossing today!)
Hermes Nebbiolo (a spicey red wine we picked up on our winery tour earlier in the month)
Followed by after-dinner Steeler Game.

Now, that's what I call full throttle Fallenizing.....

Happy First Sunday of Fall all!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

My diagnosis: BBB.....


I'm seeking help for my affliction.
I hope to be back to my usual early morning blogging lickety-split.
I'm positive that a few new shades of lip gloss, some new leopard boots and a little more sleep might do the trick!
First, however, I'm going to nurse myself with a wine drenched date night with two of our favorite couples at a little neighborhood BYOB bistro where the chef treats you like you are family and the zucchini is to die for.
Tomorrow I'll check out some new shades of lip gloss, those amazing boots and that extra sleep.....

Have a great Saturday night everyone!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Reframing my thinking......

Just when I thought my week was hard, I'm reminded by the suffering and heartbreak of others that *THIS* is not hard.
Sure, I might get tired and my legs might hurt a bit and my feet might ache and my head might feel like it's ready to explode and my kitchen might be trashed because I don't have the time or energy to deal with it and I might be disappointed that the girls weekend in Phoenix I was so looking forward to can't happen and I'm frustrated over not being able to please everyone all the time.....
But, I know that I can sooth it all and make it better by rewarding myself with a special piece of jewelry I've been oogling or getting a pedicure or having a glass of wine or dropping by a favorite place for a martini or scheduling a triple date night with some fun couples....
I can make the hard week melt away.
I can take a break from all the work.
I can run away from the messes.
I can always plan another getaway.
Nothing has ended. Nothing has been taken away. My world is still filled with the people I love and who love me. We are healthy. We are living under the same sky. I can fix what needs fixed. And, what I can't fix, I can live with.
I was given a good dose of perspective today.
Two very wonderful, dear people in my life lost their beloved children---unexpectedly and tragically.
Life is good.
Loss of life is hard.
The picture in my frame is filled with life.
God Bless those whose frames are not.....

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Sometimes life just stops you in your tracks.....

Like today.
When I realized that as of 5:03 PM today, I have spent half my life being a parent.
It's amazing.
Sometimes I feel like I am still trying to get the hang of it.
Thankfully, I've lost the baby weight.
However, I still have the battle scars.
And my C-section scar.
Which explains why I don't wear a bikini.
That and the fact that I'm 52 and I have a son who is 26.

But, for today, we are going with the excuse about my C-section.....

Happy 26th Birthday to my #1 SON!!!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Puttin' on my hard hat and entering THE.....

It's that time of the year again.....that one week in September when my usually staid and safe job warrants safety gear. So, excuse me while I go and find some steel toed shoes.
If I can't find them, I'm sure pointy toed ones will do just fine....

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Taking a little jaunt.........

I'm making a little last minute escape from Judiland.
No, it's not because I'm *this* close to stilettoing a few people.
Although I sure am hoping my little hiatus will keep me from fantasizing about it.

Here's the deal-i-o...
This girl is going to roll down the window and let the wind blow back her hair.
She's going to crank up the tunes and put the pedal to the metal.
She'll be singing and smiling and leaving the world behind.

In other words....
I'm blowing this town to go and spend a little time with my son----doing a little pre-birthday celebrating and basking in the joy of his success.
We're going take in a few sights, share a few meals and hang out just a little.
Then, this very proud mother is going to kiss him goodbye and send him off to the friendly skies.
He's off to make a name for himself.....and to make this mother even prouder than she is today....if that's even possible.

So, excuse me while I pack up some tissues....

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

It's all in a day's work....... least that's what I'm telling myself.

I'll be perfectly honest, I'm thrilled beyond belief that I made it to this point in the week with my hair still in tact, my eyes still in their sockets and there are no claw marks on my face.
Because really.....there were moments in the past 72 hours when I was pretty sure I was going to pull all of my hair out or set it on fire.
There were other moments when I was sure someone was going to claw my eyes out.
And, there were other times when I thought it best I sleep with one eye open for fear someone was going to try to disfigure me during the night.
Such is life in Judiland during September.
I'm always shocked when I make it to October.
Higher Education is not a place for wimps.....

Monday, September 12, 2011

Polenta love.......

.....unexpected and wonderful.......

There's only a few things in life that I will travel miles to enjoy.
One of those things is a visit with my children.
And another is polenta.
(there are probably a few other things but they escape me at the moment)
Imagine my delight when I manage to experience the two of them together.

As the years go by and we find ourselves immersed in the business of life and our children are off
doing what they should be doing, the time we get to spend together dwindles down to a precious few stolen hours.
So, when I have a chance to set aside everything and hop in the car to go and spend some time with one or both of my children--my shoes are on and my key is in the ignition before my lipstick is even dry.
I treasure those moments and will move mountains just to have them.

As for the polenta thing---it's one of those foods in my life that reminds me of my childhood, it stirs up memories of my mother and it tastes just wonderful.
In a very special, magical way--- it makes me happy.
It's a higher level of comfort food for me.
If truth be told--I have to thank my Lapband for helping me to rediscover and reawaken my true love of polenta.
Growing up, polenta and pasta were staples of our dinner menus, my mother's entertaining food line up and several holidays.
When my mother passed away 38 years ago, our polenta days were few and far between.
After that, I became the chief cook for our motherless little family.
I managed to learn the fine art of pasta-making but never quite got around to mastering polenta.
So, our polenta-eating was cut down to the few times an aunt would take pity on us and invite us over for a steamy bowl with sauce and cheese or a fried slice with raisins and pepperoni.
Once I left for college, my polenta days were behind me.
By that time, my father had remarried a German woman who cooked a lot of things---none of them being polenta.
But, I was okay---if I missed polenta, I didn't even know it.
A polenta barren life wasn't the worse tragedy of my late teens and early 20's.

Early in my marriage, I experimented with polenta here and there.
But, it never went very well.
And, since Carmen had never experienced the joys of polenta while growing up, he never pushed me to brush up on my polenta making skills.
Every so often, I'd get the hankering for a slice with raisins and pepperoni so I'd hint to my aunt about my craving and she would use it as an excuse to get our big Italian family together to eat polenta, drink wine and chat.
She was the only polenta maker left in the family by that point, she had a large enough table to fit most of us and her wine cellar was always nicely stocked.
It was lovely while it lasted!
However, as she eloquently approached her mid-eighties, she wasn't up for those polenta fests.
So, if I wanted polenta, I had to make it.
Which I did---every so often.
I'd call her on the phone, she would remind me of the recipe and I'd muster up all my polenta making patience and set on cooking it---hoping it would taste just like my mother's.
I always managed to do okay with it but it never wooed my family much--Carmen wasn't all that into it, the kids didn't even want to try it.
They would all rather have pasta.
Spending hours in the kitchen making something that wasn't perfect and wasn't even wanted didn't seem to make much sense.
So, we ate pasta---and tons of it.
We were happy and full filled.
With pasta. Every shape. Every size. Cooked up every which way.

Fast forward to my Lap band---when I had to give up pasta.
All of sudden, I had to find something to smother with my good Italian sauce and to sprinkle my beautiful romano cheese on.
I was okay with giving up pasta but the sauce and cheese was a completely different thing.
I refused to give up those taste sensations.
It was just too much to ask of me.

Then, I remembered polenta.
Soon, I was scouring Italian cook books, calling cousins and Googling in search of the perfect polenta recipes.
I got a big wooden spoon and a large heavy pot and I stirred and stirred.
I went on hunts for good polenta brands.
I sought out restaurants that served it.
I took on this mission with the gusto and passion of a very hungry woman.
And, that mission continues to this day.
At the moment--I'm still perfecting my own polenta making skills.
But, I've happily found my favorite store-bought roll of polenta--Trader Joe's.
And, I've even managed to win over 3/4 of my family (Carmen,Toni and I) with my own rendition of polenta with raisins and pepperoni.
Plus, I find myself giddy with excitement when I find a polenta dish on a restaurant menu.
I always order it---fingers crossed that I will find the comfort and joy of my mother's polenta.
At the moment--there are two restaurants within a 200 mile radius that have managed to feed my polenta starved soul with the same delight as my mother---Luigi's in Clymer PA and Girasole in Shadyside, PA.
Two very different places. Yet, both of them know how to make my mother's polenta.
Each time I eat the polenta at those restaurants, I almost believe that my mother is in that kitchen stirring that pot. It's a lovely feeling.

Although those are the only two--so far--that have managed to replicate what I remember of my mother's polenta, my quest to find more places has been delightful.
Case in point.....
Yesterday, a few of us college moms took a little road trip to see our girls.
We were going to celebrate Patty's daughter's upcoming 21st Birthday (Meredith--who lives with Toni) and we figured it was also a wonderful way to spend a date in time (September 11) that always weighs heavy in our hearts. We decided that we wanted to make this day about joy and appreciation and warmth to help heal the hurt that has followed all of us for 10 years now. Our girls were so young on that fateful day back in 2001. We thought it might be an appropriate opportunity to talk about the events of that day now that they are young women finding their way in life.
Thrilled with our plan, we took to the winding roads to Collegeland.
It was a perfectly beautiful road trip--a clear blue sky, an open road, good music blaring from the radio and lots of chatter.
The plan was to inspect their newly decorated home, to do a little shopping, to enjoy some girl talk and to chat about things over dinner at a little place near the campus.
Thankfully, that's just what we did!
It was a fun time.....filled with smiles and laughter and news and oohs and ahhs.
The girls picked a little nondescrip albeit pleasant pizza place near campus that didn't have a liquor license.
When I heard that there would be no wine with my dinner, I was *this* close to telling our group we just had to leave the premises.
Then, I spotted the announcement introducing polenta to the menu.
I'm not a girl who backs down from trying out a new polenta.
So, I settled back and decided that the conversation and the company would have to serve as my spirit for the meal and I bravely ordered the polenta.
Although it was not my mother's polenta, it was a yummy, soft polenta smothered in just enough fresh, sauteed mushrooms dusted with a zesty romano cheese to make it captivating and fullfilling.
It was definitely a meal worthy of wine.....if they would have had some!
Even so, I basked in the joy of being with my daughter and drank in the moments we shared and I savoured every morsel of my polenta.
My mother wasn't cooking the polenta in their kitchen nor could I imagine that she was-- but I know she was with us as we shared the special love of mothers and daughters......and of polenta.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Life is funny like that.......

We probably don't remember what we were doing 10 years ago today.
We had no idea that life would change for us in 24 hours.
We just went about our day and did our jobs and took care of our families and planned out our futures.
Because that's what we do.
Like any other day....we had no idea what life had in store for us TOMORROW.
Perhaps it's best we always make TODAY the best day we've ever lived!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Happy Friday!

Sending you BARRELS OF FUN......

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Wine-ing and dining........

As much as I love showing off my pictures and telling you all about my trip and not talk about much more that just that, I've been itching to share a revelation that came to me as I sipped a lovely wine while taking in the sweeping views of rolling hills dotted with vineyards set against a tranquil lake .
So, I figured that I'd pepper my post today with some pictures and a bit of wisdom about Year 4 of my lapbanded life.....

Quarry Hill Winery---sipping wine at this hilltop winery
brings you that much closer to heaven.

Here goes.....

Now that my life is not all about food, it has become all about food.

No, I am not still tipsy from my wine-ing.
It's not the wine speaking.

It's just me in my own sober I reflect on the many wonderful moments spent at some beautiful restaurants and wineries during our lovely trip.

Hermes Vineyards.....a rustic winery that was once a family owned working farm.....
nestled in farmlands on the banks of Sandusky Bay.

I can't seem to find words worth enough to describe to you how my definition of loving food has changed.
It's changed....yes.
Yet it remains the same.....where it my heart, in my soul.I feel the same passion, the same excitement and the very same love.
It runs deep.

Chez Francois--a hidden gem in the darling historic harbor town of Vermillion Ohio.
It's a world famous restaurant and winery that has truly earned it's reputation!

My desire to enjoy the entire process of selecting and eating food has not changed.
I've developed a new relationship with food that's even more fullfilling than it was when I was filling myself with food.

Thanks to my Lapband, I have found a peaceful, loving way to enjoy food.

My delectable lobster bisque dinner. This and a glass or two of Sauvignon Blanc......perfect!
Sharing Creme was a wonderful way to end our meal with a touch of sweetness and dab of romance.

Wine-ing and's just a beautiful thing.

Thank you all for coming along with me as I revisited some of the places and moments on my wonderful escape from Judiland.......

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

As promised.......

Next stop......PARTY ISLAND......

Here's the view from the Jet Express as we approached Put-in-Bay last was very hot but beautifully sunny day. That must explain why we were so thirsty all day....

After we hopped off the boat....we decided we wanted to be like all the other islanders. So, we rented ourselves this little vehicle and off we went.....First stop.....a Tequila Sunrise. It's the Breakfast of Islanders.
When was the last time you had a Tequila Sunrise?
My last one was in college.
When I asked the cute bartender what was a good 3-hours-before -noon drink.....he didn't hesitate.....Tequila Sunrise.
Yes, I have to agree.... it was a lovely way to start my island day.By the time I was done with it, I swore to Carmen that Tequila Sunrises would be my new 9 am beverage of choice.....

After that, it was time for a little a cute little roadside beach hut bar. We found that we could only sit on the swings for a photo op. After drink #2, it's not such a good idea.
So, we moved to a table. The swinging was fun while it lasted....

After that....we zipped around a bit in our fancy little vehicle....visiting a few local attractions..... was time for one of Carmen's all time favorite island lunch spots.....Goat Soup and Whiskey. I had the Perch Taco.....amazing. I washed it down with a yummy margarita.

After lunch.....we once again meandered along the island drinking in the culture....

We stopped at a quaint little rustic winery....

We visited a rollicking bar with some fun entertainment....

Where I met my all time favorite bouncer......she carded me at the door!
Then it was off to take in some a fun little Irish pub. Yes, I'm a girl who can't walk past one without stopping in for a taste....
Then, as the sun was setting on our island adventure....
It was time to enjoy the sights and sounds of the Island at night.....
So, we closed down a little winery......
Then, we headed down the road to top off the night.....
(yes there's always room for jello shots.....)

Then, before we knew was time to head back to the harbor to catch the midnight sailing of the Jet Express....
(Carmen with our new friends......a fun mother and daughter duo from somewhere in Ohio)

Stop back tomorrow....I'll share with you the more sophisticated part of our trip.....

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The party ended......

but the moments of our trip live on!!
(thanks to my cute little red camera)

Come on....let me share just a few with you this morning.
I'll share more tomorrow.....

We started off our escape from real life with a lovely wine drenched lunch just-for- 2 , languishing the time away at a wonderful little Italian bistro tucked away in a pretty little courtyard....
We had a private lunch.....just Carmen and I and the super talented chef!
Yes, we had the entire place all to ourselves.
It was an excellent and much needed gift of peace and pleasure.
Something I needed so much. Thank you Carmen.
The chef put together some of our personal favorite foods as Carmen and I leisurely sipped our soft Italian white table wine and talked about everything and nothing.
Antipasti of imported meats and cheeses and ceasar salad with anchovies for Carmen and eggplant parmesean for me. All of it magnificent!
Yes, it was an absolutely perfect way to spend a late summer afternoon and a truly special way to kick off an amazing little trip....

Here's another day.....another lovely lunch. A picturesque outdoor grill. Great clams, a yummy margarita, a cool breeze and nothing else to do but enjoy it all....After lunch, we decided to do a little sight pretty....But, then, all of a sudden.....I spotted a little Irish pub! And, you know....I'm a sucker for Irish pubs. I can't pass one up! So, we stopped by and had ourselves a little after lunch cocktail. We had seen enough sights for one day anyway....
This little Irish pub had some wonderful scenery itself (so I guess you could say we were sight seeing...).....a cute Irish bartender and some amazing stone shipped right to this little pub from the Mother Land!

The next morning, we left the mainland and set Party Island....

More fun, more sights and lots more to tell.
Stop back tomorrow for more Stories (and pictures) From the Road.....