I am a Stoner…

This definition might actually lead you to believe that I partake of cannabis.   I do not.  I am a unique type of stoner.  As you may well know I am a preparer of foods.  I LOVE to cook!  I could put a cot in this beloved kitchen of mine and just live here.  Obsessive?  You betcha.  What else am I totally infatuated with?  Pizza.  Any kind of pizza.  Thick, thin, Chicago style, New York style, hot, cold, etc.!  So, imagine my happy surprise when I received a pizza stone as a gift!  Yes!  I had heard about the benefits of baking up a pizza on this rock, but to actually have one added to my kitchen arsenal was a dream come true!  So, MY definition of a stoner is:  “a recipient and user of a pizza stone.”  Let me tell you about my profligate life using this wonderful wheel of fortune.

I cannot begin to tell you when my pizza obsession began, but I can recall being 8 years old and my mother presenting us with homemade pizza.  I loved the pizza sauce and the gooey mozzarella cheese.  Sometimes one bite would make the mozzarella slip off the beloved sauce and stick onto my lips causing many yelps of displeasure until I could remove it.  Still, each bite was like a fantasy.  Saturdays became a day of excited nervousness:  would it be tasty pizza for dinner or stinky cabbage soup.  As you can imagine the smell emanating from the kitchen was definitely different for each.  The smell of pizza is the best aroma in the world!

For bread lovers out there, I join you in adoring bread.  And really what is pizza but bread with happy food surprises on top!  Who would not or could not fall madly in love with pizza?  (Ok, there are some of you out there, but I still believe you are missing out on actually being able to “taste” joy.  Oh yes, I feel THAT strongly about it).

After Wiseguy and I moved in together I learned how to “order pizza”.  Yes, I could call the pizza place and tell them…nay…order them to make me my preferred pizza pie.  Sidebar:  I really disliked this job.  I disliked having to repeat myself.  Although I have a voice that could wake the dead, for some reason my on-phone ordering skills seemed to change the decibel level of my voice to a pitch only a dog could hear.  All in the line of duty if I wanted to have my pizza AND eat it too.

I first started experimenting and making my own pizzas when the kids were craving pizza and our wallet was craving obscurity.  Instead of ordering 4 or 5 pizzas of differing toppings, all I had to do was make two large rectangular ones (using cookie sheets).  I would account for several slices per person.  I would top with requested meats and/or veggies for personalized slices.  No fighting or whining about the pizza AND it saved us lots of dough.  (Ha!  Ha!  dough…as in slang for money, but dough as in pizza dough as well! I’m ingenious!)

All of a sudden, a pizza revolution occurred!  Forget about the franchise pizza places.  Suddenly there were restaurants opening with unique crunchy, bubbled pizza crusts and exotic toppings.  Some places even made their own mozzarella!  What sort of craziness was this?  Ah-ha!   Imported wood pizza ovens from Italy.  Mama mia!  I had to try one of these super glamorous dough-based spheres.  It appeared that at this time there weren’t many in my part of the globe and worse still, not even in my neighbourhood.  I had heard rumours of one place that had opened in the newly renovated area of our city:  The Bread Bar.  It was local.  It was a 15-minute drive from our place.  We arrived.  It was crowded.  We went in.  We ordered.  20 minutes later and 26.00 dollars lighter we hustled out with our hot little masterpiece.  Mmmmmmm.  More Mmmmmm.  Still more Mmmmm.  The crust, slightly charred with big air pockets.  Nice crunch.  Sauce was stupendous.  We had ordered a basic meat/cheese pizza.  I loved it!  I wasn’t too keen on the price though.  It was after this revelation that I decided it was time for me to start creating my own masterpieces.  How?

Plan A:  convince Wiseguy that we needed to import a wood burning stove from Italy.  (Yes, he still gets tears in his eyes from laughing so hard.)  Plan B:  procure a pizza stone.  As mentioned earlier…I got one!  To add to my new pizza-making pleasure I found a neat setting on my Sub-zero Wolf stove dial.  Check it out!

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The incredible stone setting! It allows me to preheat my oven to 550 degrees!

Other items for fantastic homemade pizza:

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Pizza Paddle:  to slide pizza onto pizza stone

 

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The PIZZA STONE:  Used bi-weekly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The final result:

 

Ok, besides my creepy, half-drooling voice…is it not fantastic!

I believe Dean Martin said it best:  When the moon hits your eye / like a big pizza pie / That’s amore!  TRANSLATION:  Seeing a pizza the size of the moon means you love pizza.

P.S.  Feel free to become a Stoner like me and join me in a different kind of high!

 

Food Fight!

You are probably thinking that I am going to regale you with the many high school adventures I had with food fights.  Firstly you would be incorrect as we never had food fights in my high school cafeteria.  Secondly, I can’t throw straight!  (You can confirm that with my dart-playing partner.)  So, what food fight am I referring to?  Let me gently guide you back to your childhood for this one.  If that part of your life has bad memories then you can easily relate while watching (your) children.  Here we go.

Close your eyes and think back to a time when you were playing with your brother or sister or cousin or neighbourhood kid.  Now, recall when a bag of chips came out.  The bag was cautiously opened by an adult to ensure minimum spillage.  The glorious contents of the bag were then deployed into an awaiting cavernous bowl.  YES!  Junk food!  Chips!  Woo hoo!  You would think this would be an amazing event and all would be happy.  NOT! Why?  Well, if there was a younger (spoiled) sibling it got ruined.  Who got the biggest chip?  Who got the chip with the most flavour toppings on it?  Once you got down to the end of the bowl, how could it be divided evenly?  Does this sound like your family?  Chips were a special food group in our humble abode.  Now, let’s ramp up the crazy and discuss the genius solution that my brother and I came up with in order to ensure equality.

Me:  There aren’t too many chips in this bag.

Bro:  I know.

Me:  Our two cousins are here so we need to make sure we share or we’ll get in trouble.

Bro:  I know!  Let’s crush the chips so there’s more of ’em!

Me:  Great idea!

Well, truth be told, we actually had our cousins help us crunch up the chips into bitty pieces so that there would be more pieces for everyone to share. Genius right?  Perhaps, but eating chip crumbs wasn’t that great.

Now, let’s discuss family meal time.  How about that can of pork and beans!  I loved this canned delight!  Honestly, when I saw that on the dinner table I was mega-excited!  As a child I loved the thickness of the sauce and how tasty it was.  However, there was a glitch…pork.  The can stated there was “pork” and beans in its innards.  How true!  Imagine a family of six.  Two adults and four children.  There was a “pork” inside.  One “pork” in the pork and beans.  Who would be lucky to get the “pork”.  If you have never had the honour of digesting the contents of a can of pork ‘n’ beans, you cannot really understand the need to be the “Chosen One” to get that insignificant little fatty piece of bacon.  You want Food Fight!  Bring it on!  This was where the debate began of who was worthy.  To this day, I view this canned good as a vessel of divisive evil.

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Moving right along we come to the eternal evil: CEREAL!  I do believe that serial killer was hatched from the word CEREAL!  From childhood to grandparenthood I do not find that cereal has good qualities.  I shall explain.

Cereal commercials show the benefits of these boxed glorified sugar bandits.  They contain fibre, vitamins, iron, petroleum, fairy dust and other things we know nothing about.  For some reason, as children, the FUN cereals were the ones that led to the most trouble.  Do you recall “Count Chocula”?  Healthy breakfast?  Heck no!  We wanted it because it would make chocolate milk.  When my mother actually bought a box we children stood there in awe trying to figure out the type of hostage situation we would have to deal with.   There it was.  The box of our imagination.  It was in front of eyes.  Not only did we get our dream cereal but there was a prize inside!  Oops.  There was the catch.  Since we were only permitted about a 1/4 cup of that prized cereal to mix with our Rice Krispies and Honey Comb cereal we had no idea who would be the lucky one to get the prize.  Dissension occurred.  What if Mom picked the youngest child out of pity?  What it the child with the best grades got the prize?  What if it meant being nicest to mom?  What were the rules to getting the prize?  You want insane behaviour?  Find a child surrounded by other children competing for the two-cent prize in a cereal box.  The rules changed.  You were never ready.

The same deal for the Cracker Jack box.  Lovely box with caramel popcorn.  There was a prize inside.  Gadzooks!  If one child got the prize there was always a fight.  Honestly, the prizes were crap, but it was always about who got something more than the other kid.  You solo kids…you missed out on all the drama in life.

 

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The same holds true for marshmallows in hot chocolate.  You had better ensure that each child gets the same amount of marshmallows in that brown frothy goodness.  That is a misstep that parents make and it leads to traumatic psychiatric treatments.

Popsicles?  Same drama.  For some reason that mixed box of popsicles should only contain purple and red.  Why is there an orange flavour for children?  In the olden days only red and purple were of any use.  They were like the gold bullion of frozen sugar water. Orange?  Bleh.

SUMMARY:  Food fights.  Jealous food fisticuffs are all about who got what and why or who was deemed more deserving.  Perhaps the world is better off with real food fights.  Although I have never partaken in such a vigorous display of displeasure, I have seen reels of The Three Stooges throwing cream pies at many an adversary.  What did I learn?  It appears that the evil ones were stymied.  The good, although creamed, being recipients of said sugary confections, appeared to be satisfactory with the results of their actions.  In plain English:  FOOD FIGHT!!!!!   Whip it!  Whip it Good!   (Let’s “LOL” you children of the ’80s)

 

Yolks on you…

I am a lover of eggs.  Eating eggs, that is.  I appreciate the variety of meals that can be made with eggs.  Restaurants caught onto this and started putting eggs on hamburgers.  Oh yes, the value of that golden, runny yolk is something to behold.  You would think that with all my culinary experiences in making appetizers and main meals that I would have a stellar advantage when making myself eggs for breakfast.  Sadly, the truth remains that the simple egg always seems to find a way to make me fowl up (haha, get it?) my breakfast plan.

My initial favourite type of egg for breakfast was the over easy egg.  As a child, my mother would make this ideal breakfast for me.  Mom’s recipe:

  1. Put a gallon of oil in the pan
  2. Crack egg shell with side of fork and drop egg into swimming pool of oil
  3. Use a spatula to splash boiling hot oil over the egg yolk
  4. Remove egg once there is a white film on yolks and yolks are still runny

What would happen if a yolk broke?  Well, that was the end of my day.  (I still believe this to be true.)  I used to gently nudge my fork tines against that whitened outer yolk and watch as the liquid began cascading around the rest of the fried egg white.  Every part of that egg needed to have yolk on it.  Of course, there were many other ways that she prepared this delicacy.

Sometimes a soft boiled egg.  What if she over-cooked it and the yolk slightly hardened?  Doomsday.  Hard boiled eggs...yummy!  Devilled eggs were the bonus to the hardboiled egg.  Eggs and mayonnaise!   My heart is screaming listening to its arteries harden.  Scrambled.  I didn’t like scrambled eggs at first.  They always seemed rubbery and had no flavour.  That was until Breakfast Man came into my life.  My beloved Wiseguy is Breakfast Man!  He can make any kind of egg I desire and it’s PERFECTLY PERFECT every time!  (Maybe fate brought us together for just for this reason.)  What kind of breakfast can Breakfast Man make?

Scrambled eggs.  My goodness they are fluffy and creamy and buttery and…are you salivating yet?  Yes, they are that good.  Eggs over easy?  You can shake the plate and watch those yolks jiggle with delight.  Omelette.   When Breakfast Man makes a cheese omelette you never know what kind of surprise you will find inside.  Spinach?  Mushrooms? Peppers? Chunks of leftover barbecued chicken?  Genius!  The fridge is Wiseguy’s muse; waiting for him to pluck something from obscurity and lead it into Breakfast Nirvana.  I know, I know, I sound like I have never eaten eggs before, but when you have had eggs prepared by Breakfast Man, you would drool as well.  Now, I told you these wonderfully, appetizing tales to share with you what happened yesterday when my breakfast desire was to make a nice soft boiled egg.

I put the egg in the pot of boiling water.  The egg cracked!  Darn it!  I pulled out a second egg, lost my grip and it fell on the counter.  Slight crack.  AAAARRRRGHHHHH!  Well, I turned off the pot of water and decided to make sunny side up eggs.  So, I took out a THIRD egg to add to my hairline fractured egg in hopes that one of them would turn out with a nice, runny yolk.  I added butter to my pan and the two eggs.  They fried for a bit and put the lid on the pan to steam them.   I put a nice thick slice of bread into the toaster.  I made myself a tea.  I LOST TRACK OF TIME AND OVERCOOKED THE EGGS!  The whites were rubbery.  The yolks were hard.  Prediction:  crappy day.  I was irked by my failure to procure the perfect yolk.  I severed one of the eggs and put into a container hoping I’d MacGyver it tomorrow morning via breakfast sandwich.  I decided to add the boiled egg to that mess.  I started to peel off the shell and discovered that the yolk was soft.  Perfectly cooked.  How did I miss that?

I am sure you have had days like that.  You might be a horoscope reader so you peruse your prediction for the day.  It says you will have challenges.  What happens?  You fulfill that destiny.  You have a crappy day because your horoscope said so.  My awful eggs?  I was predicting that I would screw them up and so I thought I had.  In my despair I had actually overlooked the good that had happened by focusing on all the bad that I had endured.

I think life is like my egg cooking journey.  (It’s a stretch but follow along.)  There are so many things we want perfect in our lives.  Perfection means we have control and can make sure everything is in its place.  We wake up wanting to be happy, but more often than not, we focus on all the things that are wrong and that need to be fixed in order to make our lives better.  If we actually stopped and focused on all the marvellous things in our lives, we would find the gold nugget (or egg yolk).  That little thing that would put a smile on our faces and make the things that aren’t perfect seem less awful.  Nugget by little nugget, we would find our lives becoming happier and our imperfect nuggets would not be as devastating.  There may be hard cooked times you are going through, but there is also a soft centre that will make you happy and comfortable and appreciative.  (Ok, ok enough with the eggsplanations.  haha!)

“May your life always be sunny side up!”  I think that’s what my egg was trying to tell me.  Then again, it might have been laughing hysterically and thinking:  “Yolks on you!”  Either way, it got me smiling.

 

 

 

 

Chef…a culinary experiment

I love to cook.  I love to buy colourful foods (vegetables and fruits) and figure out what to make with them.  I love to research (basically “Google” recipes) and try out new things.  I have now expanded my culinary skills to actually NOT following a recipe.  Does that mean I’m a chef?  Well, that is a definition I actually looked up.  Chef means that you cook meals for people.  Yes I do that!  It mentions something about restaurants too…ok, I don’t have a restaurant, but anyone eating at my home and people I work with think I should open one. Very complimentary, but I don’t think I’m quite at that level.  Anyway, in my mind “chef” has a different meaning.  CHEF – Can Have Experimental Food!  Yes, anyone eating my food is my chosen guinea pig to test new things.  Welcome to my thoughts and dissertations on food.

Food.  I could say it’s a love/hate relationship but I would be lying.  I LOVE FOOD!  I love experimenting with new recipes.  I love prepping it.  I love cooking it.  I love eating it.  Notice…there is a lot of love here.  The hate part is…I LOVE FOOD!  Let me explain my absolute food weaknesses…McDonald’s french fries.  I swear those are like crack-cocaine to me.  I don’t do drugs, but these hot little sticklettes make me weak in the knees.  After that or almost neck and neck is pizza.  What kind of pizza?   Hmmmm…thin crust, thick crust, tomato sauce style, white garlic/oil style.  Mozzarella or goat cheese.  Pepperoni or roasted eggplant and zucchini with balsamic drizzle.  To add to my super cholesterol heart-stopping food fest…CHICKEN WINGS!!!!  I am a Wing-nut!!  (In many ways…)  Those are my favourite, unhealthy indulgences.  Do I have an unhealthy relationship with food?  Perhaps…but what relationship is perfect?   Am I right?

History lesson:  when cooking as a child with my mother I got to lick the spinny-things from the hand mixer.  I got to mix the tomato sauce for pasta.  I got to eat pizza dough (oops…that was never supposed to be revealed).  My cooking lessons were as follows:

Mama:  NE TAKO!  (translation:  NOT LIKE THAT!)

Mama:  Sporije!  (translation:  slower!)

Mama:  Ovako.. (translation:  like this…)

Mama:  NE TAKO!  (translation:  NOT LIKE THAT!)

Mama:  Ovako mjesaj  (translation:  Mix like this)

Mama:  NE TAKO! (translation:  NOT LIKE THAT!)

So…there you have my basic cooking lessons.

Oh wait!  There are two more phrases my mother always used:

Mama:  Na umjerenoj vatri (translation:  bake at 350…she actually had to explain what middle heat meant and then I finally realized it was always 350 degrees)

And last but not least:

Mama:  Otprilike (about or approximately).  Yes most recipes had that included.  Any seasonings you were to use like salt or pepper, you were basically guessing how much was needed.  For a newbie learning how to cook that never helped.

So, when I started sharing my knowledge with others I improved the lessons I had received.  I liked to train by smell.  I also did not use measurements (bad teacher), but I would have the meat in a bowl, and then I would cover the tops of the meat with salt or pepper or paprika.  We would mix the meat and then I would ask my “student” to smell.  Yes…you can actually smell salt and pepper and paprika and you could know if there was too much.  Seriously!  Again, for beginners we would start with a few shakes because you can always start with less and add more but you can’t take away if you have added too much.  There.  That is my greatest cooking advice.

Am I a chef?  Yes, in my mind I totally am.  I cook food for people.  I love cooking!  I am practising baking (not quite perfect yet, but it’s all in the learning).  I have the best kitchen with my Wolf Subzero Stove.   I think that people who have tasted my creations can vouch for me.

To summarize…I LOVE COOKING!  I love filling my house with family (approx 20+ people) and cooking and enjoying their reactions to my recipes.  Nervous?  Absolutely!  I want everyone to love it!  Yes…there goes that “love” word again.  Why?   I truly believe that feeding people with food is nourishing, but I also believe that the love that I put into making my food transmits into internal happiness for those who consume it.  Food isn’t just about livelihood, it’s about sharing and caring.

My newest adventure is with old fashioned European foods (lately Italian), and putting my own educated spin on it.  Check out this lovely plain recipe full of flavoured layers and many “oh my this is good” in between bites!  My latest heartfelt and enjoyable culinary experiment.

RECIPE:

1 half baguette

1 large garlic clove

4 tbsp buratta (I think…approximately)

4 tbsp balsamic drizzle (basically balsamic vinegar and honey boiled down for 30 minutes until thickened…”google” for an actual recipe…otherwise…meh…approximately what you think will work)

THERE!  Authentic European recipe.  MANGIA!  (That’s amore…I mean Italian!)

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Toasted french stick bread, rubbed with fresh garlic. Buratta spread on top and drizzled with homemade balsamic drizzle

 

Bacon…and other hazards

It’s a rainy Saturday morning.  Good news is that I’m alive and I’m breathing!  Best of all…there is bacon frying in the pan.  I love the smell of bacon!  (Hence the extreme importance of having inhaling capabilities.)  I love the way it transforms from soggy white and pink strips to brown, crunchy, salty yumminess!  (I was going to say “goodness” but I’m sure my pulmonary valve would slap me).  As I move in closer to the stove top to flip the strips…ATTACK!  The bacon fat pops out of the pan and onto my arm.  Ouch!  It burns!  And yet, I stay there to complete the task.  That got my mind racing and thinking about other kitchen hazards.

Over the many years of frying bacon I have built up a super-power immunity.  My fingertips have also learned how to pick up hot cooked items and transfer them to other vessels.  Again, it’s a built up resistance.  Some days I feel like Wonder Woman …then again, I don’t think she could handle bacon grease, but I digress.  Below are what I believe to be substantial culinary threats.

COOKING HAZARDS:

  1.  FRYING
    • Whenever you have hot oil in a pan or pot you are challenging the kitchen gods.  You believe you will not be besieged by fiery oil droplets and yet they are laughing at you saying “Oh yeah?  Bring it on!”  Frying bacon (yes, I keep coming back to this deadly onslaught) can lead to either arm burns or grease on your clothes that for some reason will NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER wash out.  Frying potatoes…a.k.a. french fries.  If the taters aren’t dry you are looking at water going into boiling oil and this ultimately leads to the oil boiling over onto your stove.  BEWARE!
  2. SLICING
    • Welcome to knife-dom!  I used to think that dull knives would be better to ensure I wouldn’t get cut.  Those darn machetes always found a way to make me wish I had shares in “Band-aid”.  I learned to sharpen my knives (and my skills).  Using a dull knife on a tomato is what led me to the divine art of honing my knives.  It also guided me to new lessons in advanced first aid.  I could cut myself, yelp in pain, get an adhesive bandage unwrapped, apply first aid cream to it and hog-tie it to my finger in 45 seconds.  Boo-yah!).   Knives actually slid off the super thin tomato skin and would ultimately impale me.  After years of thinking I knew how to use a knife I saw a preview for a movie called Julie and Julia and decided to actually find the first cookbook from Julia Child.  In this book Julia showed me how to hold a knife and how to cut and slice things.  Beginner stuff.  I am very grateful to this wonderful woman for saving my appendages.  For you new chefs out there, here is a good link on how to proceed with onion cutting.
  3. BOILING
    • I always believed that boiling was safe.  Yes I did understand that hot water could burn you, but unless it was poured on your skin directly it was safe right?  Yeah-NO!  I recall the day I decided to make home cooked macaroni and tomato sauce.   The pasta was on sale and the sauce was Ragu sauce.  This was definitely within my newfound culinary skills.  I put water in a pot.  I added salt.  I felt like a true wife/mother/chef!  I put the lid on the pot and waited for the water to boil.  It took longer than it should have because I kept lifting the lid to see if the water was boiling.  Hence the phrase “a watched pot never boils.”  Although an idiom about patience, I followed the true meaning…that darn water won’t boil while I’m watching.  Whilst playing with the kids I heard the pot lid clanging.  The water was boiling!  Yay!  I lifted the lid and promptly burned my wrist. Yes…steam is lethal.  You thought bacon fat was bad?  Steam burns last several days.
  4. BAKING SHEETS
    • I decided to branch off and learn to bake.  Cooking is more fun because there is room for error.  Lots of room for trial and error.  Baking?  Heck no!  There is a reason everything is measured to the minutest ounce / milligram.  My old oven had this wonderful ejection mode when pulling out the baking rack which catapulted super hot cookie sheets onto my awaiting bare arms.  To date only one major burn; an inch long and half inch in diameter.  THAT is my real life cooking tattoo.  Also a daily reminder of being careful when playing with fire.

I am sure there are many other hazards I could reveal to you, but then you would surely want to eat out daily or hire a chef to make your meals.  I have lived, breathed, survived many culinary challenges and I LOVE cooking!  I love hearing the click, click, whoosh of my gas stove firing up.  I know there are new adventures in foodie-dom for me.  One thing I learned from dear Julia Child was:

“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”

Worst case scenario, I can always hook up with my granddaughter Kennie and we can make food into art.  XOXO

macaroni art

 

Us

Us seems to be a very short title, but I believe that sometimes less words are more integral in describing a thought than a run on sentence  full of adjectives, adverbs, nouns, verbs…and nothingness. This two letter word is so full of meaning and definition. It is a concept and way of life that I am finally beginning to fully understand.

We begin our lives as wonderful, dependent, little bundles of cuteness. Some babies are born into loving families. Others are born into dysfunctional families. In the end, there is a beginning. We emerge and grow and learn. Some lessons are taught to us and others we discover on our own. Life lessons. The world is our educator. In most cases we are taught to find our perfect soul mate so that we can live happily ever after.

Poor girls, we try so hard to find Prince Charming everywhere we look.  We can overlook the flaws in order to have someone to hold us and take care of us. Right? Heck no. Nowadays we want the handsome Prince, but he had better know how to wash dishes and do laundry and make  dinner. We are very busy women folk. Not to mention adding child  bearing and raising that child. Who’s going to do all that?

Fast forward in life…career woman,  make dinner, make lunches, attend meetings, get stuck in traffic, driving children to and from school and after school?  Dance or karate or baseball or soccer.  Grocery shopping, clothes shopping.  Hang out with significant other. Who? Oh yeah,  I remember you.

I remember when we used to jump into the two door sedan and just go driving. (Can’t do that now because gas prices are so crazy and we  have a mini van not a cool sporty vehicle). Remember when we would go out for dinner and just talk about nothing. (Dinner out now means going out when we get a coupon in the mail and then talking about bill payments or house renovations). Remember when it was just the two of us? Us.

I remember the early dating days. Money? We were lucky if we had 40.00 between the two of us. We would talk for hours. We would write little notes and letters to each other. There was no texting or e-mails.  It was pen to paper and it was beautiful and thoughtful.  Little things were monumental. A cup of coffee, ready-made, and nice and hot when I woke up. Sitting around on the balcony of our rented apartment and just enjoying the view.  Beautiful.  Calm. Quiet. Some music playing softly in the background.  Bliss.  Us.

Us then became extended us. Children and elder family. Family obligations. Us went from having no furniture to an apartment overflowing with stuff. Suddenly Us took a back seat. Everyone and everything else was more important. Keeping children happy was number one. There were bills to pay and items to purchase. There were future houses and mortgages. New / used cars to be purchased as old ones fell apart.  Schooling and weddings and grandchildren. Work became the most  important thing because money is needed to pay for everything. We were ships in the night….literally…since we ended up working different times of the day. What happened to Us? We talked about date night and once a year, for our anniversary, we could count on that, but otherwise, Us became a non-existent thing…until tonight.

Tonight was special. Tonight you created magic. You decided to cook up a beautiful meal. I came home and did not have to prep anything.  We sat around and talked. Not about bills. Not about renovations.  Not about anything that adults would deem important. We talked about the sky and the perfect weather. We talked about your shopping spree at the grocery store and how meticulous you were in picking what you thought I would enjoy most for dinner. I was your primary concern and nothing else mattered. I want you to know how much I appreciated that and love you for it. My meal was excellent. The flavours were invigorating and the company was my favourite part. We sat outside. Just Us. The two of Us.  I realized more than ever tonight that in the end, we are in the “Us” part of our lives. The children are grown and living their own lives.  Taking care of elders is no longer part of our responsibility. All we are left with is Us.  You and me, as was before, but newly modified.  Husband and wife, grandparents, friends and lovers.  Another new exciting stage of our lives.

I love you, my other half of “Us”. Thank you for making tonight a special time and a special memory for me. I enjoy being able to date you again. The serenity and peacefulness. The non-drudgery of everyday life.  The laughter (including piggy snorts…my specialty).  You refocused my perspective and helped me don my rose-coloured glasses that I had misplaced.  Living in the pink is a pretty nice place to be.

I am flabulous!

Yes, I am flabulous!  I don’t know why or how it happens, but it seems that my lack of will, when it comes to munchies, really does a doozy on the old love handles.

Love handles…really…I have heard many phrases regarding body weight.  You now, thin may be in but fat is where it’s at.  Or Diet is Die with a T (thank you Garfield the lasagna eating cartoon cat).  How about being described as elegantly filled out.  Yes…so many nice terms.  I recall even reading about good ol’ England in the 1800s.  The larger the better.  If you were thin and tiny of build then it meant you couldn’t afford a good meal.

I myself am working on getting rid of about 30 lbs.  Yes, according to my BMI (body mass index) and according to ANY and EVERY website I have visited, my ideal weight, for someone 5 foot 5 inches and over 40 years of age should be about 140 lbs.  So, I have begun my journey to thinless…yet again.

I started rethinking my approach.  In the past, every time I started losing weight I would get all excited.  I would lower the amount of food intake.  I would eat more fruits and veggies.  I would buy “healthy” snacks…you know, those dry, dry, dry…I mean really dry….ack ack…crackers.  Last time I even kept a food journal on Fitness Pal.  Amazing to see how many calories are in the foods we eat.  Then it happens.  The weight starts coming off.  I start “cheating” on myself.  I would sneak in a bag of chips or some cookies because I was doing so well with my new eating plan (right…it’s not a diet because that word just leads to failure).  Then it would suddenly become a binge weekend with pizza and wings and nachos…oh my!  That leads to a pound or two coming back.  NO big deal right?  Then I start back to my old eating habits because I love the taste of food!  I love all the ooey gooey cheeses.  I love burgers and I love french fries and I love my pizza and my wings.  And there I go…off the rails…yet again.

Well, this time, I am trying out something new.  I am NOT giving up my favourite foods at all.  I am eating less of everything but I have added this new thing…it’s called exorcising…ahem…exercising.  (I prefer exorcising…I’m trying to purge the evil fat right?).  So, I have started using my 5 lb dummies (I mean dumb bells).  I walk the dogs an hour a day.  Very soon my Xbox shall have Jillian whats-her-name from “Biggest Loser” yelling at me.  I will learn to like sweat.

Yes, that is my newfound plan for body modification.  I believe I can do this.  I actually have dreams about my new slender, self going to the beach and looking downright goddesslike.  (Really, these happy thoughts are what are keeping me going as I look at the squishy, cuddly version of me in the mirror). 

The one thing that I have learned over the years is that no matter how thin or how “full-bodied” I get, it’s the inside that matters the most.  Sure I  love it when I lose weight, but I also don’t mind being heavier.  As long as I am happy on the inside and my family is happy, then the outside doesn’t matter as much.  I have learned that that opinions of others don’t matter as much as loving myself. 

Losing weight right now is more for health reasons…I plan to be around and playing with Little Kennie for a long time and no health problems will get in the way of that.

My journey to the Land of Sweat (and tears) will be interesting but for now, as I start my new life goal, I will remember to look in the mirror every day and say, “You look Flabulous!”