Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Universe Is Trying To Tell Me Something

Over the past three months, my family has been dealt a series of really bizarre, unexpected, and emotionally draining events.  We have narrowly escaped a major catastrophe on at least five occasions and for this, I am deeply grateful.  However, I am emotionally drained.  I am tired of using the phrase "it could have been so much worse."  Yes, I know that.  I know that all of this could have been worse.  But I am ready to move on.  

I honestly thought 2010 would be a clean slate, leaving all of that funky stuff back in 2009. Not so.  So here I sit, on this very snowy night, trying to figure out what the universe is telling me.  Maybe it is telling me that I should treasure my loved ones.   Or to be grateful for the rather blessed path that I have walked thus far.  Or to NOT treasure material things.  Maybe this is a test.  A test of our endurance.  A test of our faith.  Maybe it is telling me that we should get organized.  Or to know what we have and how to protect it.  Both people and things.  I fear though that this is just the beginning.  Is there more to come? Is the other shoe going to drop? Or is THIS the other shoe that dropped?  If it is, I will gladly accept it.  For as bad at it has been, it could have been so much worse.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Frying Zeppoles

I woke up this morning and realized that it is December 15th! Are you serious?? When the heck did that happen??  Ok, so in the next 9 days, I must finish up Christmas shopping, wrap all gifts, figure out what to serve to 22 guests on Christmas Eve, clean up, then reset for even more guests Christmas Day! Lots to do!

I LOVE to entertain, so I intentionally and purposefully bring a lot of this stress upon myself.  However,  I categorize this as good stress.  Nothing makes me happier than having my family and friends over to hang out, eat, and drink some wine by the fire (even if it means a flurry of cooking & cleaning -- seriously, I'm Italian -- this is what I was born to do.) 

I hosted Christmas Eve two years ago -- it was our first Christmas in the new house and we were honored to have "borrowed" the holiday from my Aunt Maria.  She was nice enough to let us "borrow" it again this year.  (It's really her holiday and in an Italian family you know better than to mess with the hierarchy of who can host what, when and where without asking--lol).

I was so nervous that I was going to run out of food that I think I cooked enough for a small army that year.  I refused to run this risk of having any of my uncles or aunts talk about the "lack of food" at dinner.  So I made the following (and I am not kidding):

1.  A serious assortment of appetizers, (there were so many that I cannot even remember) - however, I can confirm that my cousins Donna and Jenn made stuffed mushrooms and crab cakes, respectively.

2.  Escarole and White Bean Soup (one of my favorite things to make in the winter)
3.  Five (5) Pounds of Fried Calamari (all kidding aside, my Aunt Maria was frying calamari for 3 hours straight....this was even too much food for all of us to handle - this year, we vowed to only buy 2 pounds!)

4.  Zuppa Di Pesce over linguine.  (The Zuppa had clams, muscles, shrimp, and 5 special mini lobster tails-which were a total hit (everyone was fighting to get one - maybe I'll add a few more this year)

5.  Sole with lemon and butter sauce

6.  Ray's Traditional Baked Macaroni and Cheese (a Soares family contribution)

7.  Red Leaf Lettuce Salad with Red Grapes, Pistachios & Gorgonzola Cheese

8.  There may have been some vegetable somewhere on the table, but really, does it matter?.

9.  The only thing I recall about dessert was the sound of dough frying in my kitchen, (i.e. Zeppole)  which were then covered in copious amount of powdered sugar.  It is my version of heaven.  Oh wait ! How could I forget Jenn's perfect little rainbow cookies that send her into a frightful state of panic as she layers red, then yellow, then green marzipan in neat rows? They are worth every ounce of sweat pouring off the girl's forehead. 

After all was said and done, I sent my guests off with simple parting gifts.  I took basic pretzel rods and dipped about 2 inches of each in chocolate -- I then dipped the chocolate covered pretzels into various types of sprinkles, nuts etc. I packaged them in clear cellophane bags which I bought at Rojay's and then tied them with a pretty ribbon for some extra pizazz.  I loved them, and I think my family did too.

We'll see what happens this year.  I think 2007 was overkill, but it was a very memorable event, and in the end, that's what matters most.  Interestingly, I recently read an article that conducted a study on children and what they remember most about the Holidays -- despite what we might think, the children could not remember any specific gift that they had received over the years, rather they recalled the smells coming from the kitchen, the people with whom they spent the Holiday with and silly traditions such as when/where they got their tree, or what their Advent calendar looked like.  They remembered the most important and simple things about Christmas.  It makes me think that all my kids really need is the sound and smell of frying Zeppoles coming from the kitchen.

Monday, December 14, 2009


So much has happened since my last post.

1.  I ran in the 1st annual Turkey Day 5K (created by my hubby) along with my hubby, my father, my sister, 2 cousins, my sister's best friend, my father's running partner and our dog Vegas. 

2.  My baby girl Sofia had back to back ear infections with two rounds of antibiotics.

3.  Aunt Mae's trip and fall and my call to 911.

4.  My sister's visit to the Emergency Room (IN MASSACHUSETTS) and surgery that followed to remove her appendix .

If only one of these things occurred I could have certainly handled it with poise.  I could have regrouped quickly thereafter and pressed on with my daily activities.  However, all of these events combined (#1 excluded) have drained me emotionally and have thrown me completely off my game.  I am glad to report that after a few VERY hectic and draining weeks-I feel like I am BACK.

On a side note, as many of you know, my sister is my other half.  Since the day she was born, I have not made a single decision without her.  From what color to paint the den, to which picture to use for my Christmas card, to picking my daughter's names, my sister is always right by my side helping navigate through life.  Even though she had routine surgery, she was hospitalized for a few more days than I was comfortable with.  Seeing my little sis in a hospital bed, fighting a fever, was an uncomfortable place for me.  I was worried, scared, and helpless.  I really didn't know how to act or what to do, so I sent her the movie "Julie and Julia" to aid in her convalescence.  (It was either that or a tray of baked ziti and meatballs. ) I've learned that you should never take you loved ones for granted.  You can never predict what's going to happen next in life, so enjoy the moment you are in right now.  Stef, I love you more than you will ever understand, and I am so grateful that you are ok.

As you can see, I've been a little busy tending to other matters in my life. In my absence, I realized that writing this blog is extremely fulfilling, therapeutic and cathartic for me. I missed it and I missed you guys.

I'm glad I'm back.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Trader Joe's Employees Must Not Be From NY

Have you ever noticed that all of the Trader Joe's employees have these slightly neutral, cheerful, Southern California-ish accents?  I swear there must be a Trader Joe's school where they teach them to smile, speak in Trader Joe tongue and be overly accommodating.  Everyone there is so darn happy and helpful! The nerve! Don't they know they're in NY? I mean seriously, why must you be so nice? Is it really necessary for you to stand outside in the pouring rain with an umbrella and help me unload all of my grocery bags into my car!?  Must you open a register when the rest are busy and say "Hi Ma'am, I can help you over here!"? Must you make these adorable little "shopper in training" carts so my kids can have fun while grocery shopping??  I mean really - why must you be so nice??  

I love Trader Joe's for a variety of reasons.  The delicious peaches they had over the summer, sweet potato fries, Toasted Oatmeal Flakes Cereal, those mini chocolate chip cookies in a tub, but most of all because the people who work there are seriously some of the most helpful and pleasant people in this area.  Sadly, helpful, competent and pleasant people are hard to come by these days, so when you do run into them, you must take notice and thank them profusely.  My heartfelt thanks to the employees of Trader Joe's for making my shopping experience a pleasant and peaceful one.

Friday, November 13, 2009

"Fave Things Friday"

I've been so out of the loop and so busy that I haven't had a single second to sit down and post anything on my precious blog. I am so sorry to my loyal followers, but I know that you've all been there when life just gets in the way of life. Anyway, so much has happened since the last time I posted and quite honestly, I do not even know where to begin. So instead of freaking out and making it complicated, I'm just going to give you the hit parade of some of my favorite things that I have encountered in the past few weeks! Hopefully this will bring me up to speed! So here it is -- the first, of the weekly post "FAVE THINGS FRIDAY".

1. Mohonk Mountain House: Ray and I went for our anniversary and truly there are no words in the English language that you describe how stunning and gorgeous this place is. Really. It is stunning. And just what we needed to calm our brains and reconnect with one another. Here is a picture of the hotel itself:

This is me getting ready to go on a hike....

Our hike, however, actually morphed into a "rock climb"

And after we climbed up and squeezed through this (a/k/a "The Crevice")

We had a view of this:

It doesn't really get any better for me.  Peace and quiet can do wonders for a busy brain.  We had an amazing 24 hours away - we talked, drank champagne and just enjoyed each other's company.  I know that sounds cheesey, but in the hustle and bustle of daily life, you can forget about all the reasons you married someone...and during this 24 hours, I found out that after 6 years, I love Ray more than I did on our wedding day. 

Which leads me to my most two fave things in the world:  Giuliana and Sofia.  Here they are on Halloween:

2.  Sophie the Giraffe Teether: Most moms probably know about this little giraffe, (I guess I'm the slacker(...but I still had to share.  Sophie is "designed to stimulate the senses (she makes a happy sound when squeezed) and soothe teething gums (safe for babies' mouths).  Isn't she cute?

She's even more chic because she's handmade in the French Alps, using all non-toxic food based paint.  She's pricey (retail:  $22.95-30.00, but I found her on Amazon for $16.95) - but she is well worth the money.  I mean, come on, what's cuter than a Sophie for Sofia??

3.  Sabra Classic Hummus Single Packs:  Ray found these at Costco yesterday and I personally think they are brilliant. 

I love hummus.  Any kind of hummus.  I love it so much that I could sit at my desk and continuously eat and entire container of it.  Which is not good for my waistline.  That is why I love these little single 2oz. packs.  They are super convenient, portion controlled, and really delish when paired with some baby carrots.  It would make a fabulous snack for the kids too, that is, if they like hummus. 

Have a fabulous weekend everyone!!  

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


For several years now, I've been dying to call myself a runner. You've seen them.  They're those fit people, dressed in skinny black spandex pants.  They're those people who wear tight, brightly colored "Under Armor Cold Gear" shirts.  They're those people who wear reflective vests and flashing lights.  They're those  crazy people that run in the rain, on Thanksgiving morning, and even during a snowstorm.  I've always wanted to be one of them. 

As of 8:36 this evening, I have accomplished that goal.  I AM a runner.

While I don't consider myself "fit" (yet), I played the "Runner" part well.  I wore skinny black spandex pants and a reflective vest.  It was raining.  And. I. Ran. 3.32 miles to be exact.  I feel like a fitness ROCKSTAR.  I ran through piles of wet leaves.  I ran through puddles.  I ran as raindrops pounded on my face.  I loved every single minute of it.  I have never felt more powerful.  My head has never been so clear. I feel relaxed and refreshed.  I am addicted.  I cannot wait to run again.

The most frequently asked question I receive is how do I find the time to do it all?  And my answer is, I DON'T.  Not everything can happen in one day -- there just aren't enough hours.  But, I do my best, and that's all I can ask for.  I make to do lists that are a mile long.  I re-organize, re-prioritize and edit as I go.  I pull my hair out.  I get frustrated and annoyed that I can't do it all, but I have to realize that I am human.  So, if I can't make my bed every morning--oh well. If I can't do that certain load of laundry--oh well.  If I need to order take out because my fridge is empty--oh well.  I am human.  BUT wait--today I became a RUNNER! And now for the first time ever - I can cross that off my "to do" list!

(Mommy Note:  I want to say thanks to my cousin Jenn for being my running partner this week.  She's been there with me in the dark and in the rain.  And a BIG thanks to my sister, Stef, for keeping both  Jenn and I motivated and inspired.  We're trying to keep up with you and make you proud.)   

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Back to Basics

The last time I stepped into a library was over 7 years ago. I remember it like it was yesterday.  I was studying for the NYS Bar Exam.  Day in and day out  for three straight months.  It sucked.  I was traumatized.  I vowed  never to walk into a library again. 

Despite the fact that I banished libraries from my life, I knew I couldn't pass this on to my children.  So I decided to take Giuliana to the Huguenot Children's Library in New Rochelle.  I spent about an hour trying to explain to her what a "library" is.
Giuliana:  Mommy, what is a library?
Me:  Gi - it is a big building that has a ton of books, and you can get a library card, and they let you borrow books, you can take them home, keep them for awhile and then you bring them back and you can take out right??
Giuliana:  Wow, really cool. Do we have to pay for them? (I couldn't make this up if I wanted to.)
Me:   No! Can you believe it? You just check them out with your library card and bring them home.
It dawned on me right then and there, that libraries are indeed a phenomenal idea. 

Now listen, don't think I'm this horrible mother who hasn't taken her kid to the library's just that it was my custom and practice to simply buy whatever books Giuliana wanted, in excess amounts.  Today, however, I brought it back to basics.  We went to the library.  I got a library card.  And we took out seven books (there's not even a limit on how many books you can take out!).  Giuliana loved every second of the visit and asked to go back again.  I promised to take her as many times as she wants.

Mommy Note:

The history behind the Huguenot Children's Library is a very interesting one and one worth reading about.  It is beautiful lesson in determination, perseverance and vision.

No matter where you live, find your local library and visit it.  I promise you that the feeling of being surrounded by books and silence is an amazing one.