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Friday, May 31, 2013

"Got any death bed advice for me?"

Asked my lovely spirited friend......

Her question took me quite by surprise.
Sure, we were having our second glass of wine and she has been having a rough go of it lately.
But, death bed advice? 
Who's death bed were we talking about?
I mean.....really.....we are two 50-something gals who are in pretty decent shape and other than the occasion contraband smoke and a little living on the edge, we aren't really that close to our death beds....are we? 
Regardless, the question intrigued me enough and the wine was flowing enough...and we still had half of  the bottle to go.... it only made sense to oblige my spirited friend in that conversation.....
Some of the best conversations happen over a bottle of wine.....
The conversation went something like this:
ME:  What the HELL are you talking about?
HER:  Well, I was just thinking that if you were on your death bed, what advice would you give me?
ME:  Why in the HELL were you thinking about that?
HER:  I figure that might be the only time a person might really give the best advice and the only time that I might listen....
ME:  So, you think my best advice to you will come on my deathbed?  And, you are admitting to the fact that the only time you would heed my advice is when I am on my deathbed?   WTF?
HER:  Well, no not really.  But, you know.  Don't people say pretty powerful things on their deathbed?  And, don't people carry out deathbed-given advice because they would be afraid not to?
ME:  I really don't know.  The only deathbed advice I ever got is from my mother and she told me not to use the deep fryer for hot dogs.
HER:  Well, have you fried any hot dogs in the past 40 years?
ME:  No.
HER:  My point exactly!
ME:  Well, to be honest, I would have preferred more prolific advice from my mother! I mean....really!
HER:  But, still, it was good advice.
ME:  And, I listened.  But, she was my mother.....I had to listen.
HER:  I get it, I get it.  She probably couldn't think of anything else to say. 
ME:  Yeah, it's true.  She was kinda pissed I fried so many hot dogs when she was made the drapes smell.....or so she said. 
HER: It was good advice.  Now, I want you to pay it forward!
ME:  But, I am not on my deathbed.   I guess I could advise you not to fry hot dogs. 
HER:  I won't.  They would go right to my hips.  But, fried hot dogs do sound pretty good right about now.  I haven't eaten anything but lettuce, oranges and tuna for a week straight. 
ME:  What the hell?
HER:  Yeah, I am supposed to lose 7 pounds.  Some kind of diet.....
ME: you really want me to give you some death bed advice?
HER:  It depends. 
ME:  On what?
HER:   If you are going to tell me to stop all these diets, I'm not going to listen!  
ME:  You said you wanted death bed advice!  You said you would listen!
HER:  Not about that.  Nope.  Not about my dieting.  I know I keep losing the same 10 pounds and gaining the same 10 pounds but that's my thing.
ME:  Okay, then what do you want me to advise you on?
HER:  How to lose these damn 10 pounds forever!  
ME:  Will you listen?
HER:  Pour me another glass of wine and I will consider it.......

Girlfriends. Wine. Diet Talk.
They go together like sandals and pedicures.....

Thursday, May 30, 2013



So, let's see......about 6 months back  all the talk was about trying not to gain any weight over the holidays.
Because, you know, the holidays are all about eating and partying and living with reckless abandon.
I mean, it's a known fact and a God given right......eating and holidays go together.  
And, you know----it's cold outside and we are indoors more and we can cover up our bodies with layers of clothes.  And, we watch so much TV.....with those holiday specials and all. 
So, yes, it all makes so much sense.  
"Hell no, I didn't gain weight......I'm wearing a big sweater AND double's cold for chrissake!"

What's our excuse for summer? 

Well, I will tell you what our excuse is.......
*all those invitations for graduation parties and picnics and weddings and showers and barbeques and deck parties and.......well, you get the picture...
*the return of some of our favorites---ice cream and margaritas and butter on fresh corn on the cob and fruit salads with poppy seed dressing and nachos and iced lattes and hot dogs and hamburgers and ribs and summer wines and......yadda, yadda, yadda
*everything tastes so much better sitting outside in the sunshine or under the stars or at waters' edge or with our feet in the sand or.....yeah....ah-ha

I don't know about you but for me.....the calendar hasn't even struck SUMMER and I am getting just a wee bit concerned about all of those aforementioned excuses......

Take last night for was a hot, steamy night, the porch was calling me.....
My new mom neighbor popped over for a break from the new mom stuff.....
Yes, I know, I should have been weeding the yard or trying to get all that pink glitter (that my new college graduate dragged home from her sorority house!) off of my floors and stairs and counter tops  or I could have finished putting away all my winter clothes or packed up my boots for their summer home or  gave myself a facial and deep conditioned my hair.....
NO!  It was a SUMMER night.
And, I remember what it was like to be a new mom who needed a break.
And, the mango salsa and the guacamole were in the fridge and I had all the ingredients for everything else.
It was the perfect time.
It was the perfect place.
I had to take hold of the SUMMER ROAD...... 

So, what else can  we do now?

Yeah, just roll down your window and let the wind blow back your hair!  



Monday, May 27, 2013

Make your day MEMORABLE......

As we don our patriotic fashions, watch the parades go by, fire up our grills, mix up our summery libations and sit back to enjoy this summer kick-off holiday, may we always remember those who have made this day possible---the people who have given their lives or lost their loved ones or who put themselves in harm's way each day or live with the fear that their loved ones may never return to them.  They gave us (and give us) the freedom and the safety to do all the things that we will to do today (and everyday!)! 

 Here's what's on the menu at our house this Memorial Day.
Since we are doing a more "grown-up affair", I thought I'd toss the typical hamburgers, hot dogs and potato salad and upscale our picnic fare!
So, this year I'm stealing recipes and foodie delights from those who make it possible to be brave and feel safe in doing something just a little out of  the ordinary for the ones we love..... 
(btw.....each of these recipes/items have been thoroughly tasted-tested by folks with discriminating palettes....that's how they made it to my menu!!)
Watermelon Mojitos
Spicy Vodka Lemonade (confession: this has not been taste-tested, I just found the recipe this past week and decided that I had to add this to our libation list!)
Angie's Politely Sweet and Spicy Kettle Corn
Orange Pecans
Insalata Della Casa
Grilled Shrimp with Cilantro, Lime and Peanuts

Amazing biscotti and macaroons from THIS place 
Iced Lemoncello for sipping.....
Happy Memorial Day!  

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Bring on the PARTAYS!

That's hip talk for "BRING ON THE PARTIES"........

Q: How does a Lap Banded gal do parties?

Not to brag or anything but I am a party expert.
Yeah, I'm a party girl from way back.
I research parties, I throw parties, I do party assessments, I have notebooks on parties, I take classes on parties, I read about parties, I dream about parties, I talk about parties,  I keep detailed party logs, I shop for parties, I create parties, I have party clothes, I have party dishes, I have party hats, I have party napkins, I have party glasses, I have party silverware, I have party linens, I have a party closet....and yes, I go to parties.
Sometimes I think I am just a party waiting to happen.....for any reason at all.  
Yep,  I even  got myself a wopping PhD in PARTIES! 

Party Hard Diva

I've learned quite a few astounding things on my journey to becoming a PhD.
However, the most intense part of my journey came after 2007.   
After I got my Lap band.  
That's when the real education began.
You see, before that, parties meant over indulgence, decadence and gluttony---elementary indeed.
But, once I became a Lap Banded partier---I had to find a way to go beyond the elementary party behavior and educate myself on the higher academics of partying.  
Sure, I had a few bumps and bruises along the way but in the end, I found that higher education brings  a higher level of wonderfulness to partying. 
What I learned is very simple (although not elementary!):
*Parties aren't about the food or the drinks or the's about the guests
*A good host will make it about the food and the drinks and the decor....because of her guests   
*A good party goer isn't there for the food for the drinks......but will gleefully appreciate it....because of the host 

 Adopt and practice that thinking and you too will find a brand new level of joy to the upcoming Summer Party Season!

BTW......that advice comes to you at no charge....for anyone else, my Dr. Judi charges will be incurred.....
Oh, and speaking of just gotta and I mean gotta try this recipe from one of my favorite foodie bloggers.....The Proud Italian Cook.  Follow her advice to the letter and I guarantee you that you will swoon and squeal and then declare youself  Empress of the Land!    
Midweek I had a few of our new college grad's high school friends (who are also new college grads!) and their moms over for a little Happy Hour and served this with some wonderful summer wines that we toted back from one of our weekend winery visits.    
This recipe +  a few wines from this winery= the oohs and ahhs and the yum yum yums never stopped! (recommend a Seyval Blanc and a Traminette). 
So, if you eat nothing else this this (enjoy it with some wine, of course!)!  


Saturday, May 25, 2013

Me+My Lap Band=NO FEAR!

I'm not sure if I ever told you but sometimes at work we have to do forced fun kinds of things.
We have to do these bizarre bonding activities and unbelievable competitions just because they are supposed to be good for us.   
Because having fun is good.   Or so they say.  

Earlier this week we were thrust into a maniacal Amazing Race-ish scavenger hunt......on a sun-drenched crushing 88 degree day in the middle of the our work clothes.   
Yep, I'm serious.  
(I'm also serious about it being sun-drenched and 88 degrees in Pittsburgh PA in May!)
This particular event brought back memories of another Amazing Race event way back in the Summer of 2007......a ridiculously hot and humid early August day.....with a wonderful but competition-junkie boss...who sent us all over this blessed city.....up and and down hills and into hidden crevices and on top of mountains and on sweaty buses and riding flaming trolley cars......all in the name of bonding and fun......

As we were participating in this week's fun fun event, my lovely coworker (who, by the way, pulled a tendon during this week's  fun fun fun Amazing Race...... when another team tried to block our way....yes, I am serious....) reminded me that the Amazing Race in 2007 was the week BEFORE my Lapband. 
That's when the memories all came flooding back to me......
That's when I remembered the fear that would overtake me when I had to do anything like that.  
Because. Of. My.Weight. 
My fear was was based on me!
Although this past week's event was not exactly how I would have liked to spend my time......I realized that the only things I was was fearful of were  messing up my hair and having to trapse all around in my  brand spanking new metallic strappy wedge sandals.
I didn't think a thing about my weight or my body.
I just didn't want to do it.  PERIOD.
But, I did it.  
And, we didn't win.
My Amazing Race team mate is now using a cane. 
Let's hope her injury has taught them a  lesson and they ban the next Amazing Race. 

Now, if they suggest a bar crawl......that's a whole other story.  
Although.....there may be a few more folks with canes.
After 2 drinks, I might just be deliberately tripping quite a few people.....

Friday, May 24, 2013


So says our new college grad after assessing our pantry, our fridge and our ultra-secret snack closet.  
Funny how quickly the youth take over.....especially the newly educated ones!  

And.....don't touch your Mama's wine! 

Happy Friday and Happy Long Weekend! 

Thursday, May 23, 2013


This past weekend was filled with activity and frivolity in Judiland.
So much so that I had no idea what was going on in the world around me.
I tuned out CNN Breaking News on my phone and my email, I didn't watch the three hours of news that I typically watch each day and I didn't even pick up a newspaper.
I paid no attention to tweets and the only interaction I had with Facebook was to post pictures of our activity and frivolity.  
I didn't even blog.....or check bank balances or do any online chats or Skypes or check my work email......
The only iMessages I sent were to my dearly beloved college friends as I sat at my daughter's graduation---thanking them for the friendship and the memories they have given me and asking for their prayers that my daughter will also find the same  life long joy and comfort from her college friends.....
It was a momentous occasion for our family---a time for celebration and a time to release ourselves from the daily trials and tribulations that can be snatched by burdensome guilt and worry.

Although my unplugging was not intentional, it happened. 
Even my phone attached college grad unattached from her phone for a moment to check out (and approve!) the pictures I took during the ceremony!  

Typically, I am such an information hound that even in my busiest times, I find a way to see what's going on.....
Perhaps when I am smothered with joy and pride, my informational needs go away and I am truly in the moment.   
Being in the moment is something that I strive for.....and, I am proud to say....I accomplished it this past weekend.  

Unplugged......and it felt so good.  

The moment I plugged back in...... being in the moment wasn't even an option. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Let the new journey begin...........

With our new college graduate!!!

Life is filled with journeys.......

It seems like only a short time ago, I came to this blog and shared my concern about empty nesting.  We were sending our sweet little girl off to college, our son was on his Phd adventure and we were trying to figure out what our world would be like beyond having children in the house.  I won't lie.....I was scared beyond  belief.    I had been in full-on-mom mode for so many years.  We had been in full-on- parental mode for so many years.    We weren't quite sure who we were as just the two of us.   And, if truth be told....with Carmen's work and travel schedule.....I wasn't quite who I was when it was just ME.  If I wasn't a busy working mom with at least one child at home then who was I?  What was I supposed to do? 

Well, as it turns out, we found our way.   I found my way.   And, you were right here to witness it.  Thank you very much. 

And, now, as we embark on yet another journey.....I have concerns.....again.  
We now have a college-educated, adult child---who has lived on her own for four years---back in the house.   Her and all of her stuff.   All of her pink stuff to be exact (including lots of pink glitter.....!)
Although the next few weeks will be spent getting her....and all of  her stuff.....moved in and moved around and in it's place.....after that, the plan is not exactly planned out.   
It's the unknown.
Perhaps that frightens all of us most of all. 
But, in the meantime, as we all ponder what the future holds for all of us,  I am left with memories of a beautiful weekend filled with pride and fun and beautiful, special moments......
Getting ready for commencement at the Sorority House.....Toni and her artful cap!  Yes, SHE DID IT!

Carmen and I at the Sorority House before the ceremony!  As you can see, my pants fit fine.  They look a little shiney in this picture!  Honestly, this outfit was TOO HOT!  It was over 80 degrees!  Oh well!

Toni and 2 of her best friends/sorority sisters....toasting her graduation before the ceremony!

Carmen and I toasting our girl...amid all the stuff of all the girls who were moving out that day! 

Carmen and I waiting for the ceremony to begin!

Our beautiful little graduate!
Vince and Toni leaving the Commencement Ceremony!
Toni...the proud owner of a BS in Fashion Merchandising! 

Carmen and I having a before dinner drink at Benjamin's.....the place we brought her for our good-bye dinner when she started college and the place we all went to for our good-bye-to-college dinner......

Our two children taking a stroll on Philly Street in her little college town for the last time!

I hope that you will ride along with me right here on Stories From the I embark on yet another journey......

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Commencement Day........

My College Commencement Day.......1980.....seems like yesterday.  
Today, is my daughter's College Commencement Day.