Category Archives: holidays

Seventeen things I learned in 2017

  • Never regret money spent traveling.
  • I’m not a good boss and have no interest in ever owning a business again.
  • That being said, I did learn how to do payroll and use Quickbooks.
  • The Hudson Valley has no shortage of adorable and fun places for quick getaways.
  • For every $1000 spent on a cosmetic household improvement there will be $3000 spent on necessary home repairs.
  • Running a half marathon in single digit temperatures is possible and even a little fun.
  • Solo travel is indulgent – and exhilarating.
  • U2 live still delivers.
  • Although I love being home, spending time outdoors makes me happy in an entirely different way.
  • Donald Trump is an even worse President than I had ever imagined.
  • Jeter loves a vacation just as much as any of us and the ‘new” house we rented last summer in Wellfleet was ideal for the whole family.
  • Making granola is super easy and it tastes far better than store bought.
  • There’s a lot of good television these days – think Stranger Things, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and This is Us. The jury is still out on Black Mirror.
  • Cookie swaps are best enjoyed retrospectively. Having 8 or 9 dozen cookies is great, but the stress of baking 9 dozen cookies and packaging them beautifully robs the joy from holiday baking.
  • An afternoon ski on New Year’s Eve with your Lunar bitches, your dog and an airplane sized bottle of limencello is a perfect way to spend the year’s last daylight hours.
  • Giving up the scale and eating another cookie might be my best new holiday tradition. I plan to repeat it next year for a full 12 Days of Christmas.
  • Bourbon sours with her favorite fella on December 31st can make a girl forget about Times Square, fireworks and the ball dropping.
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Filed under aging, Cape Cod, Christmas, concerts, DelSo, Eating, Events, family, friends, Germany, holidays, house, love, musings, Observations, Random, relationships, running, travel, x-country skiing

What are you doing New Year’s Eve?

(Before you read this I suggest queuing up Ella Fitzgerald’s version of the title song. It’s one of the finest vocals ever.)

New Year’s Eve is kind of a weird holiday to me. Long after the childthood challenge of staying up until the ball dropped lost its novelty, it remains a night of varying significance in my history. Part of the ambivalence I feel probably comes from the fact that I’ve probably worked 80% of the NYEs in my adult life. It’s just an occasion to make money at the expense of folks who feel the desire to celebrate the year’s end publicly, honestly.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not critical of revelers, it’s just that I’m not personally interested in dropping a wad of cash on dinner out and the thought of crowding into Times Square, or some other hyper crowded space, is less appealing to me than a polar plunge on New Year’s Day. I’d much rather start the new year with money in my pocket and a clear head. Crazy, right?

On this sunny and frigid day, I’ll make sure the laundry is done and the sheets are fresh. The bathroom will be scrubbed in anticipation of an afternoon pre-shift bath and the floors will be vacuumed. Jeter will get bundled up in his smart red coat and we’ll meet friends at Muni for a festive year end ski. There will be just enough time post-ski to warm up with a big bowl of lentil soup before I head to work for what will easily be my 25th year of New Year’s Eve service.

How about you? What do you have planned?

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Filed under drinking, Eating, Events, holidays, Lark Street

Ode to panettone

I don’t remember what made me buy the first one. Despite my mother’s German origins, it wasn’t as if fruit cake was part of my holiday traditions. As a matter of fact, I had distinct and negative memories of an episode involving fruitcakes baked in November, and left to soak in rum until Christmas, and a curious and subsequently drunk puppy that had left my mother pretty damn pissed. Nope, fruitcake didn’t make me feel warm and fuzzy. At all.

But, somehow I found myself leaving Rocco’s with a hefty 2lb loaf of something called panettone that seemed to be the perfect addition to my mornings during the holiday season. I happily carried my panettone to Albany. The next morning when I released the bread from its airtight wrapping I was provided with an intense aromatic assault – citrus, anise, unimagined spices…heaven. Since that first time, Christmas feels incomplete without this baked treat and I make it a point to get to the city in December to score one, or four as the case may be.

I’ve learned that there are two traditional varieties – Milanese and Genovese. The first is a taller version, more like a crown, light and studded with dried fruit. The Genovese is lower, wider and has the addition of anise and pignoli making for a more earthy, denser taste. I like them equally, toasted and slathered with unsalted butter.

My Rome connection (grazie, Alex!) has gifted me with an imported loaf for the last two years. I haven’t yet opened this year’s special panettone, but I’m eager to see how it compares to my beloved Rocco’s version. I noted that by appearance, it looks to be a Milanese version which should be the perfect way to come full circle in my panettone season. Six pounds of panettone later, that is.

Have you had panettone? This article in the NYT gives some excellent information about this special bread, yet doesn’t provide a recipe for baking your own. It seems to be quite complicated, by I’m putting panettone baking on my bucket list. Until I have time to devote to learning how to make it myself, I’m content to travel to NYC for a fix because at this point, Christmas wouldn’t be complete without it. How about you? What baked goods define this season for you?

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Filed under baking, breakfast, Christmas, Eating, favorites, Food, holidays, NYC, Recommendations

Christmas gift to myself (Aside from the gifts I’ve already given myself)

I’ve decided to abstain from weighing myself from the remainder of the month. That’s right, I’m going to deny myself the chance to feel badly beginning first thing in the morning when I step on the scale. Because that’s what inevitably happens if the number reads higher than I had hoped.

Not checking in daily on my weight makes me uncomfortable. I guess I can be a bit of a control freak and the daily weight check helps me to determine what level of indulgence I “deserve.” I suspect that it will eventually prompt me to eat less, instead of more, since I’m already concerned about what I’ll see when I finally revert to my daily weigh in on January 1st.

On any given day I could probably list every single item I consumed. Confession – sometimes I fall asleep at night counting calories instead of sheep. I try to be a conscious consumer and don’t eat mindlessly. Respecting the connection between what one eats and how much exercise will be needed to balance one’s consumption, requires attention and I try to stay tuned in. I truly consider every day how I’m doing in terms of fruits, vegetables, carbs and protein striving to achieve a reasonable representation from all food groups.

Are you exhausted yet? Or, maybe you approach food in a similarly controlled fashion?

At the holidays when my kitchen is filled with delicious baked goods, I find myself challenged. “Life is short, Silvia, eat the damn cookies,” I say to myself. But, the calories, the sugar, the butter…but the panettone! The chocolates! The linzer cookies! What’s a girl with a tight leash on her appetite to do?

My solution for the rest of 2017 is to put the digital scale on vacation and resort to a more intuitive way of eating. I suspect it will involve lots of baked goods offset by fruits and vegetables in copious amounts, along with as many miles as I can muster. Wish me luck – or better yet, help me eat some cookies.

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Filed under baking, Eating, Exercise, Food, holidays

The art of being fit in Albany

Saturday was a great day to be an active Albanian. The day began with yoga and while the evening’s activity was a no-brainer, the choice of which class to take was a real dilemma. For the sake of trying something new, I went with the pop up yoga class being offered at the art museum at the University at Albany.

I had originally heard about this free class (donations welcome) last month when it was first offered. I couldn’t make that class, but getting to this one at noon was easy enough despite my lack of familiarity with where to park on campus. We set up our mats on the second floor and were led through a 75 minute all levels practice. Modifications were offered and our instructor, Carrie, was proactive about moving around the room to offer assistance and suggestions. There was a really nice spiritual element and we were invited to consider the art on display as we imagined the colors prompted by our positions. It was the perfect way to loosen up my muscles and joints for my next activity – Albany’s Last Run

This race is my absolute favorite 5k of the year. There’s just something about running with your favorite running friends through the garish light display in Washington Park that screams Christmas to me. Factor in our first snowfall of the season and you’ve got the perfect event to herald the holidays. It was a blast!

0D927683-551A-4A3B-A8CC-903D38CA6CE9Since parking can be challenging, I find the best way to reach the starting line is to run from my house to Center Square. This year I was particularly glad that I did that since my warm up run gave me an opportunity to experience how truly treacherous the conditions were from the still falling snow. It was crazy slippery! After meeting up with the Lunar b*tches, we made our way to the Capitol and cheered as the fireworks display lit up the snowy sky. Despite the fireworks going a bit long (it felt a bit self-indulgent as I began to get chilled) it was pretty damn festive. When the horn sounded for us to begin, I happily started up Washington Avenue.

7439658B-00D8-4E97-826E-CC5A2AC20E86The conditions were definitely intense – lots of people, slick streets and some spots that were not particularly well-lit. You know what? None of it mattered. It was a beautiful night for a run through Washington Park and Albany was shining like a diamond. As the race drew to a close, I managed to resist the urge to sprint down State Street for a big finish, which was a good show of restraint considering the number of people who went down as they crossed the finish line. I really wouldn’t have wanted to fall, or to have missed a second of that run. It was a great day and night to be an Albanian.

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Filed under Albany, beauty, Christmas, Exercise, favorites, friends, holidays, Lark Street, Local, running, snow, Uncategorized, yoga

Thankful for…

  • My children – even on the days when I can’t understand their actions or attitudes.
  • A brother whom I never doubt, even when he just makes stuff up.
  • Friends whom I’ve known for so long that I don’t have to explain to them where I come from because they were there.
  • More recently made friends with whom I share interests like running, attending fun events and learning new things.
  • Health and the ability to get up in the morning and run a 5k without batting an eye.
  • The belief that each day comes with an opportunity for positive change.
  • A profession that gives me a chance to work with interesting kids and adults and have summers off.
  • An ability and means to express myself creatively.
  • The opportunities I have to travel and see new places.
  • A former husband with whom I can coparent without drama or conflict.
  • My home, in a neighborhood of good people, complete with creature comforts, a well stocked kitchen and a dog who brings me joy.
  • The knowledge that my life is full of blessings and that every single new day is a reason to feel appreciative.

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Filed under holidays, musings, Random

Easter – a new covenant

IMG_1312When I was a child, Easter meant a new dress and shoes, chocolate for breakfast and ham for dinner and maybe an egg hunt. Those were good days, but there was never a better Easter than the one I had this year.

The day started with mass in the magnificent cathedral in Neustadt. This was the second time I’ve been fortunate enough to attend services in the Munster which dominates the skyline of this town of 10,000. Now that I think about it, the last time I went to church may have been here on Easter Sunday, 2013.

I’m not really all that religious, but I do love a good ceremony and that’s exactly what I got yesterday. From the rich tones of the ringing bells calling all to worship, to the full choir and orchestra, it was a service that fed my soul. I think I was even more taken by the familiar rituals because they reflected tradition while incorporating contemporary aesthetic – there were more girls than boys serving mass, including one with hair in a vivid shade of blue, and the priest sported an earring. There was a pragmatism present that somehow in no way diminished the miracle being celebrated and I walked out feeling as if I had just attended an opera. Wonderful.

IMG_1319I’ve been known to claim that I practice religion when I’m outdoors and I followed my organized religious observance with a run that took me on grass covered trails and paths in a mist that made me appreciate that I had subbed contact lenses in for my usual glasses. I reached the highest part of town where a tall metal crucifix honors those lost in WWI and couldn’t resist pausing to take photos and catch my breath. The run down felt like flying and had we not had dinner plans, I could have happily gone farther, maybe even to TitiseeIMG_1438Dinner was an amazing treat – better than any amount of jellybeans ever. My family took over 4 tables in a local Italian place and it was simply the best time. Quinn and I bounced from table to table catching up, sharing history and just laughing with the simple joy of being together. We had three generations – 2 sisters and 3 brothers, 6 cousins and 5 second cousins, all together on the evening of a holiday that signifies rebirth. Spirit refreshed, body exercised and heart filled beats a bunny in a basket anytime.

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Filed under aging, Europe, Events, family, favorites, Germany, holidays, musings, Observations, relationships, running, Spring, travel, vacation