Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Sorry for the Delay in Posting

I could make up all sorts of reasons, such as:

  1. I have all of these great pictures, but can't find the thingy that connects my camera to my laptop (true - my house is always in some sort of chaotic upheaval)
  2. My trainer beat me up (again true - it sucks being 45 and realizing that sitting on your ass for a year eating and drinking like you're Bacchus actually does widen the load - A LOT)
  3. I've been working my tail off at the stuff that actually brings in a paycheck (also true - I work at Overreactions R US)
  4. The meds hadn't kicked in (true - I'm just now starting to not lie on my back staring at the ceiling for three hours at a stretch)
  5. I'm lazy (most true)

No New Year's resolutions for me - the longest I've ever kept one was 3 1/2 hours. Still, I'm trying to turn over a new leaf. I had my measurements taken at the gym last night and almost cried when I saw how my body had changed.

I signed a letter of commitment with my trainer to do three days of cardio a week (not hard because I meet with her twice a week and I can't leave until I've done the deed), watch what I put in my mouth - and what comes out of my mouth (ok, my kids made me promise to that one).  I will be stopping at Staples on the way home tonight to pick up one of those USB cables.


I also picked up one of the coolest gizmos to support me in becoming the svelte me that I used to be: 

Salton Food Scale


A Salton food scale that tells you the number of calories of each thing you weigh - it also tells you the carbs, fat and protein grams in each portion.  For me, it provides a sobering look at just how many calories are in what I'm preparing.  I've already decided that changing what I eat won't work - I'm a foodie and a wino at heart, but it will help me make some choices to either eat less of it or shift to a healthier way of preparing it.  If it could only scream "NO! DO NOT SNEAK THAT FRENCH FRY" as I raise my hand to my mouth, it would be perfect.


It is definitely an attitude adjustment and not the first time I've had to make this - after my kids were born, I gained a large amount of weight and through Weight Watchers and living at the gym, I lost it and looked great. I kept it off for 10 years, but injuries and one family crisis after another pushed me off track. Now, 10 years later, it's much harder to get back on. I have no illusions of being the workout goddess I used to be (we're talking 20 BMI for god's sake), but I want to be healthy again.  I just want have energy again.


Wish me luck everyone.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Some Days the Lightbulb Just Goes On...

Hilda DS


Took my daughter Rachel to see Juno. Great movie - Juno really reminded me of her - which scared the hell out of me. I just sat quietly at the end of the movie. Rachel, being the perceptive kid that she is, called me on it and said - Mom, the movie won't follow real life. I'm smarter than that. There were a million things that went through my head - then she patted me on top of the head. I melted. I love this kid.

Go see the movie - it's really quite good.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

No Pain No Gain?? Maybe If They Pour Chocolate Over It...

I started working out with a personal trainer today. I need a new kitchen floor, but the width of my hips and behind told me I need to spend a little less time in the kitchen and a little more being active so I shelled out the money. It's not that I hate working out, quite the opposite, but a new job, bursitis in my hip and my mother's illness have kept me out of the gym more often than is good for me. My appetite didn't change, but because I'm on the nether-side of 40 and more sedentary than ever, my body shape certainly did. When you get out of the shower and run out of the bathroom so that you don't catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror, it's time to do something - so I signed up with a training group that also places a huge emphasis on body work and diet/nutrition. Today was the first session. It seems my posture and alignment are so out of whack that the first set of session will be spent just putting my hips even with each other. THEN we can work on strength training. I may not be able to afford to go on vacation, but I'll look good not traveling.

Wish me luck!!!

What I like best about blogs.....

Is information. From professional blogs or online journals, I learn about trends and gain insights into the software industry. With the Agile Journal, , I keep up on what's going on in the world of agile development. The Software Insider offers up insight on what's happening with the vendors themselves. (shameless plugs for friends!!)

Personally, the autism blogs I read, such as The Joy of Autism and 29 Marbles , make me feel a little less alone in parenting an autistic child (even though my son is older than most children in the blogs referenced). Carl's observations of the absurd always make me chuckle - and think. The wonderful women who's blogs first got me interested in sharing my stories - if anyone but me reads them - have provided me with tips on cooking, indulgences and have given me wonderful doses of humor, especially when my day sucks wind - thanks Lisagh, Cindy, Libby, Mel, Cloggsy, Clemsongirl, et. al.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Catching Up Part Three

What do you think of this outfit?? I decided to modernize the template a bit

Catching Up Part Two......Dishing

This was not in the course of a week (I wouldn't be able to walk out of the house!!)- it was a collection of inspired dinners over a few week period.

I'm a fan of the Amateur Gourmet . He captures great, easy recipes and he writes about restaurants near his home in New York - which I can actually get to from time to time. One day, he was writing about Lamb Curry take away - and while he didn't provide a recipe, he mentioned the ingredients and included some pictures. I have been craving Indian for a while, so I decided to make it:

Lamb Curry -

2 lbs cubed lamb
3-4 white waxy potatoes, peeled and cubed (depends on size)
1 cup frozen peas
1 medium white onion diced
1 clove of garlic smashed
Beef broth
1 T Thai red curry paste
1 T Curry powder (try to find the good stuff - McCormick's doesn't cut it)
1/2 tsp cumin - (I always add cumin to taste - I like cumin)
1/2 tsp cayenne(again to taste)
1/3 cup Lite Coconut Milk
1/8 tsp turmeric

*Note* You need to really season with curry to taste - I've done with with just curry paste and I've done it with just ground curry and I've wratcheted it up or down, depending on who was eating it.

Brown the lamb cubes well in olive oil in a cast iron casserole (I use my Le Crueset soup pot) or heavy bottomed pan. Remove with slotted spoon, drain fat - reserve just a T or so, then add onions to hot fat and saute onion until translucent, then add garlic and saute for a just about a minute - don't let it brown. Return lamb and potatoes to pot add cumin, turmeric and cayenne and stir to coat, then add broth to cover. Cover and simmer until the potatoes are soft (but not mushy) and lamb is tender. Add peas and continue to simmer for 10 minutes until peas are just tender. Add Coconut milk, heat through and serve with jasmine rice. I had some left over saffron rice, so I just used that. Chutney is a great accompaniment.

Pork Shoulder with Roasted Harvest Vegetables - great for the slow cooker

3lb Pork Shoulder, tied
*note* I went to Whole Paycheck, ahem, Whole Foods, and bought the roast. I have to say, it was the best pork shoulder I have ever had. Not terribly expensive, but the flavor was fantastic.

1 large onion, halved and sliced
3 good sized parsnips, peeled and sliced 1/4" slices
3 ribs of celery sliced 1/4" slices
3 carrots, peeled and sliced 1/4" slices (I cheated here and used presliced)
1/2 cup apple juice
1/2 cup white wine
1/8 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tsp sugar or Splenda
3 sprigs of fresh thyme

Salt and pepper the roast, brown well in olive oil in a heavy casserole if braising on stove or in oven, or in a good sized frying pan if tossing in the crock pot. When browned, de-glaze with wine and vinegar.

If you're going to cook it in a crock pot (as I did this time), place onions on bottom of crock pot, add meat to the pot and pour deglazing liquid over the roast, then add the other ingredients and cook on low for anywhere from 4 to 6 hours on low (my crock pot cooks "hot" so I'm always on the low side).

If you're going to braise it on the stove - then just add everything back in after deglazing the pan. You may want to add chicken stock or water to provide additional liquid for braising. Braise for about 2 hours until the mean easily separates with a fork - makes for great pulled pork sandwiches.

Lemon-Thyme Lamb Chops (I've been on a lamb kick lately)

Six lamb loin chops (again the Whole Paycheck route - they had a sale)

Juice of two lemons
Lemon zest
3 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
3 springs of thyme - chopped
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Salt and pepper the chops, place in a bowl pour over the lemon juice garlic, thyme and a couple of glugs of olive oil. Mix well and let marinate on the counter for about 30 minutes (you can marinate up to overnight in the fridge). Heat olive oil to a high heat - enough to sear, and add chops. Cook for four minutes, turn, sear briefly on the other side and then pop the whole frying pan into oven to finish. Four minutes will give you medium rare chops. Remove chops to plate and deglaze pan with marinating juices, scraping to remove browned bits. Pour over the chops. I served with roasted cauliflower and peas

Can you see the grocery shopping trend over the last few weeks???

Catching Up....

I opted to work from home today (last night an under 1 hour commute turned into a 3 1/2 hour commute -not going to face that again today), so my lunch hour can happily be spent catching up on blogging. I've been taking pictures of meals and thinking I'll just toss them up on the blog tonight - and never got around to it. My bad...

Anyway - couple of changes around the house. New kitchen curtains - believe me, it's a chore for me to consider window treatments, so it was a red letter day to buy and actually put them up.

My microwave, which was mounted over the stove, gave up the ghost a week before Christmas Eve - I need to have a microwave for my mom, so I ran to Sears and tried to buy another one, but found out that it would take weeks for someone to install it for me. I couldn't wait that long, so I had to get a countertop model. After unpacking it and using it for a bit, I realized how much I preferred the countertop model and never liked having a microwave over the stove. I've always wanted to have a shelf instead to keep things like my salt dishes and pepper grinders. So, voila, after a trip to Ikea and Home Depot I now have my "workspace":



The rest of the kitchen with the new curtains(the old treatments were bamboo blinds....kind of cool in a Pier1 sort of way, but the cats liked to chew on them):

BTW - these are the cats in question - we adopted them last summer. They are six toed cats we found on They've been wonderful and in no time they took over and now rule the house. Introducing Brother and Sister:

Casanova - and he does live up to his name - an incorrigible flirt with incredible personality - we keep making up new names for him and stories about his conquests. Right now, I believe he's Casanova Beauregard Dupre - a talkative ne'er do well jazz trumpeter. He's a shrimp with a meow five times his size:

Ebony - she's the quiet giant with squeeky little meow. Much more skittish, however, she's also much more loyal than her flirtatious brother. She likes to sit and watch the world go by:

Saturday, February 9, 2008

In Vino Veritas

This is the weekend of the Wine & Chocolate Wine Trails tasting festival in NJ:

NJ has the somewhat unfortunate reputation of being known for it's fruit wine - not just the noble grape, but blueberry, raspberry, etc. For a long time, I thought that was all that was produced and made a point of avoiding NJ wine at almost all costs. Recently, I found that this was not always the case. On the whole, Jersey wines are lighter than Washington State and California, however, NJ soil is particularly good for Cab Franc, Chardonnay and Merlot (IMHO). I've been to several of the vineyards on the trail before, however, today I was able to visit a couple of new ones with a wine group that I belong to. We visited Bellview Winery, . Bellview does have the requisite fruit wines, but their chardonnay and their cabernet sauvignon were quite nice. The other vineyard we visited was Amalthea Cellars. I almost don't want to talk about it, it was sooooo good - wines that rivaled some of the wonderful California and Washington vineyards that get written up all the time. We had a cellar and a cask tasting with the owner who was so passionate about his wines, which made the trip for me. Their cabs, both sauvignon and franc, merlot and their blends all far exceeded my expectations (not that Robert Parker has to fear for his job or anything). Even though I'd like to keep it my own little secret:

Friday, February 8, 2008

You may call me ma'am

I know that I've been away - training classes, getting together with friends, the Super Bowl (Yeah Giants!), and...*ahem* I've received a small token of her majesty's appreciation:

My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
Marchioness Margo the Expensive of Nether Wombleshire
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

Somehow LilyBet got my number - I AM too bloody expensive - and for those who are curious, my nether wombleshire is doing just fine.....*small "royal wee" wave*

More later......