19 Things I’m loving

The Super Bowl was already weeks ago (Remember? The Patriots won. Again.) but there’s something I’ve been thinking about ever since the big game…why would celebrities, like really rich and successful public figures, appear in advertisements or commercials about products which they weren’t enthusiastic about truly using? All of those actors and sports figures in the big budget commercials, do you think they need the money? How much money would you want to be paid for promoting and intrinsically endorsing something you genuinely appreciate and use? Would you want more money if it was item or service that you didn’t actually avail yourself of?

if you know me, you know I don’t value money very much. I appreciate it and understand working to have enough,* but I certainly don’t believe the accumulation of it is my life’s work. And, while I’d happily consider accepting money from companies whose products I truly use, I’m just about equally pleased to just share the following list with you of things I’m really loving right now. Here goes…

 

  • New Max Mara framed eyeglasses.
  • My Waterpik, although I wish the cord was retractable.
  • Concert and airplane tickets
  • The Bleecker Salad at Dove and Deer
  • An Unlimited Subscription for Rent the Runway
  • Walks/Runs/Skis with Jeter at Albany Muni
  • My clunkiest Frye’s
  • Aaron’s 11:15 class on Saturdays at the Latham Hot Yoga Spot.
  • Aldi’s for produce and baking supplies.
  • Kat von D’s Studded Lipstick in Double Dare.
  • Van Morrison’s Poetic Champions Compose – I forgot how much I love this record.
  • Hot bubble baths. I can not get enough of my tub these days!
  • Midnight blue velvet skinnies from Gap bought on super sale for $12.
  • The lushness of my plants.
  • Wednesday night date night.
  • CBD roll-on applied to my sore muscles.
  • A true sense of owning my happiness.
  • Spending time with someone who makes me laugh.
  • Feeling comfortable in my skin.

What would be on your list?

*however you define “enough.”

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More carbs, please

I don’t know what it is, but I can’t stop eating. Carbs are my thing and recently I have been going to town cooking, and eating, pasta. It’s a little too soon to be officially “carb loading” for either of the 1/2 marathons for which I’ve already registered, so I have no excuse other than it tastes good. And I like it.

Last week, I made a spicy bolognese sauce that I thought was delicious, albeit a little meaty. I will definitely riff on that recipe in the future because it was hearty, simple and really easy to put together in a single pan. I love that!

Over the weekend I made a lentil and butternut squash soup that ticked all my current boxes – lentils and orange vegetables. Again, the list of ingredients was reasonable and the prep practically effortless, an ideal combination of circumstances when one is planning lunches for the week. I mean, come on, how great is it to pull out a pint of homemade soup for lunch on a cold day? With a little forethought, you could be living the high lunch life

The more labor intensive culinary project of the weekend turned out to be gnudi. Have you had them before? I think the first ones I ever had were made by Nick Ruscitto and they were delightful. Lighter than gnocchi with a softness that proves the delicacy of their maker’s hands, these ricotta cheese dumplings are pillows of tenderness perfectly finished with the most simple of sauces. I had to make them.

I found a recipe and got busy, draining the ricotta and exploring methods for how to eventually form and cut the gnudi. After chilling the dough, I opted for the long log technique, slicing the log into .75” pieces which I then gently placed in boiling water. Like many Italian recipes I’ve prepared, the challenge is the amount of time required, not necessarily the level of skill of the cook.

I cooked the gnudi in batches, resting uncooked ones on a plastic wrap covered baking sheet and cooling the cooked ones off under in a colander. Eventually I placed all the gnudi into a plastic container and drizzled them with olive oil. I was saving them for Monday’s “meatless” dinner when I planned to sauté them in olive oil and a dollop of bacon fat with mushrooms, onions, garlic and roasted cauliflower.

Mondays can be rough after a busy weekend, but when dinner and multiple lunches are prepared before Sunday officially ends, they’re not so bad at all.

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Randoms – February, 2019

  • I have absolutely zero feelings regarding whether the roll of toilet paper is supposed to be installed over or under.
  • However, double parked vehicles blocking available legal parking will probably be my trigger if I should ever totally lose my sh*t.
  • I’m at a stage in the aging process where I believe liberally applied moisturizer and not wearing my glasses (so I can’t see so well) takes five years off my face.
  • There’s an entrance to the parking lot at the nearby shopping plaza that is one way, but which way is undecided. Traffic uses it both to enter and exit the lot. A street sign was once placed indicating the correct direction. It was lying on the ground within days of installation and was gone in less than a week.
  • I’m obsessed with lentils at the moment. This is the latest recipe I prepared.
  • Made gnudi for the first time this weekend. Like most Italian food I’ve ever prepared, it’s labor intensive, but not particularly difficult to make.
  • We’re expecting some weather this week. If you happen to have a corner lot, please consider the difficulty of those in wheelchairs, or less physically mobile, and shovel a path that includes access to the street.
  • Every single time I’m reminded that I’m going to Greece this year, I can’t help but smile. So excited!
  • If anyone has a suggestion for a company that does basement work, please pass it my way. I’d like that project taken care of this spring.
  • I am dangerously close to renewing my Rent the Runway subscription. I’m just so enjoying it!

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Fierce and 14

Last night, I woke up to the sound of the wind howling. It was fierce and powerful reminding me of where I had been exactly 14 years previously – in labor, climbing the stairs at St. Peter’s Hospital. My progress that night was slow, despite it being my third time at that particular rodeo, and I walked up and down those stairs countless times in an attempt to cajole my third baby boy to come out and join the family.

The stubbornness he demonstrated during (his time in utero and) delivery was a precursor of the level of stubbornness he has exhibited ever since. Q was characterized by his grandmother, who sadly died shortly before his third birthday, as “formidable.” She knew of what she spoke, having raised 5 sons of her own, and I so wish she had lived longer to provide further observations and maybe even advice. This kid is a force.

I’ve often described Q as relentless. He just digs his heels in and refuses to yield and it never fails to exhaust me. In the midst of a disagreement, negotiating isn’t an option with this one. I’m learning to quietly tell him the conversation is closed for now, with the promise of revisiting it at a designated later time. It’s the only way out. But, speaking about the way out, this is the same kid who never hangs up or allows us to part without a kiss and an “I love you.” He’s wonderfully demonstrative and affectionate, sometimes to a fault when it comes to his girlfriend.

We learn so much about ourselves as parents from our children. This one has taught me to pick my battles thoughtfully, to be willing to table disagreements and to do your best to always let loved ones know that you care. Happy 14, QP.

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23 and me – yes, me!

As a Christmas gift to myself, I bought a 23 and Me kit. I grew up not knowing any biological family members and I was curious to see how much of the limited family lore might be confirmed – or disproven. For years I had considered my heritage to be pretty cut and dry (50% German, 50% Irish), but I had come to learn that DNA is not really that clean and simple. Yes, both of my parents had been born in the counties from which I associated them, however, that didn’t necessarily mean there hadn’t been other ethnicities mixed in with their German and Irish blood. It was time to learn for real where my people had originated.

Within days my kit, which I had ordered on Cyber Monday, arrived in the mail. I registered it online and started trying to produce enough saliva to fill the test tube to the marked line. Not an easy task for a person whose salivary glands have been damaged by radioactive iodine, folks. Approximately 40 minutes later I had what I thought was an acceptable ratio of spit to foam and capped the tube, placed it in the box and dropped it in the mail.

I received an email when the specimen was received and a couple of weeks after that, I received my results and…

Drumroll…

Apparently I’m of 100% European descent. Shocking, right?

Here’s my makeup:

  • British & Irish – 65.3%
    (Ireland, United Kingdom)
  • French & German – 20.4%
    (Germany, Switzerland)
  • Spanish & Portuguese – 0.5%
  • Broadly Northwestern European – 11.6%
  • Broadly Southern European – 1.3%
  • Broadly European – 0.9%

Despite a friend’s long held assertion that I must be Jewish, that does not seem to be the case. My love for matzoh ball soup, bagels and pickled herring remains undiminished, I assure you.

In terms of genetic makeup, there may not have been much revealed, but there were a couple of things that prompted unexpected emotions. The first was the almost immediate contact made with a woman who shares the surname of my father, the parent I never met. It’s an unusual name, outside of the county where my father was born and raised, and seeing that name, and the scientific evidence that linked she and I together, was so powerful that I couldn’t immediately even process it. Days later, I was brought to tears by this connection with someone I will likely just like my father, never know. The map that accompanied my results also confirmed my sense of community, my feeling of belonging to a family, with its concentration of relatives in Donegal, the county from which I know my father and his family originated.

I know there are controversies about services like this and about having one’s genetic information available for public consumption, but, you know me and my ridiculous drive to be transparent. I’m not all that concerned about that really. Finding out at 52 that the person you had hoped was your parent more than likely was, made 23 and me add up perfectly for this a bit long in the tooth colleen.

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It’a all Greek to me

I’ve been planning vacations for long time. Usually it’s pretty simple – pick a destination, figure out which airport/airline makes the most sense and then find a place to stay. Easy. Last year I upped the ante by putting a trip involving 4 cities in 3 countries together, but that seems effortless now when compared to this year’s challenge…

I’m struggling a bit with this year’s Fabulous Lilly Boy Annual Trip. It’s feeling complicated and a little overwhelming, and so I’m coming here to ask for some help, friends.

Tell me about Greece.

Middle son and I plan to spend 10-12 days there in early summer and I tense up each time I think about the number of details involved in independently booking a trip to multiple islands. With acceptable and reliable transportation between islands, of course.

Friends have mentioned their favorite spots and some recommendations, and I appreciated that very much. What I’m hoping for now is a bit more specific. Can anyone share a suggested itinerary of islands (ideally 2, in addition to a night in Athens on either end of the trip) which includes islands which have beautiful beaches, chill atmosphere, trails to hike or run, and good food? I’m totally open to doing day trips to smaller islands, but want to minimize the amount of time I’ll need to be on a boat. I am not a good sailor.

So? What do you have? Please – be specific and share suggestions and experience. I’d appreciate it!

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(The) freedom of obligation

Wow, January! You were really something. During your calendar page time, I made my way home from California, spent an evening with friends in New Paltz and had a quick getaway to Miami Beach. There were numerous runs, some yoga, lots of golf course walks with Jeter and the first ski of the season. It was a month full of living life and spending time with people whose company I enjoy. 2019, I think you’re going to be a good one…

As I spent a little time reflecting on the past month, I couldn’t help but recognize that it didn’t matter where I physically was,  wherever I was I felt happy. I guess this internal happiness I’ve been working to cultivate travels well. It really is true, you know, wherever you go, that’s where you are.

It didn’t matter if I was traveling alone or with someone else, if the sun was shining or the wind blowing, or where I physically was – my general state of emotional being was positive. I felt lucky to be wherever I happened to be, even when it wasn’t a place with a scenic view or the warmth of sun on my face. I’m alive. I have family and friends and people with whom I enjoy sharing my time. I have a home and a job. My health is good and my body (mostly) does what I ask it to do. And, there isn’t a single day that I don’t appreciate every single one of those things.

One of the best gifts about growing older is learning new lessons about life and oneself, and how those two things relate. I think the happiness I’m currently experiencing comes in part to my recent realization that beyond my children, the only one I’m obligated to is myself. I’ve known for a long time that I alone am responsible for my own happiness and security, but I’m starting to have a different understanding about what that means. To me, at least.

The commitment I have to being happy, to living my best life, comes with an emotional independence that I hadn’t previously considered. While I most certainly owe honesty to any romantic partner I am with, I’m not obligated to sacrifice my needs to a relationship which may not fill my soul in the manner in which I desire. This is, to me, a rather radical understanding of myself and the state of being linked emotionally with another. I don’t have to stifle my feelings or longings because my ultimate commitment is to me. I only get to do this life thing once and I’m unwilling to experience it as an observer. I want to live it. All of it.

How is the new year treating you? What are you doing to make your life one that is well lived? Are you living your best life?

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