We Give Thanks For Many Different Things

Cake made of chocolate mousse.

Cake made of chocolate mousse. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am the meanest person on earth, or at least the most honest and outspoken but I give thanks that Thanksgiving is over. Yep, I said it. You can judge me all you want but holidays can be stressful. Family dynamics,  emotional baggage, demons from the past, they all get rattled and those emotions escape. They slip from your unconscious like slithering snakes darting out without your permission. Filters don’t work, the id, ego and superego are all in repair.

Families members regress, the dysfunctional aspects of relationships become unglued, it seems like anything negative that you can rein in for most of the year just gets ignited during holiday celebrations. Forgive me, don’t judge me. I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling this way.

I used to be the person who loved holidays the most, it WAS my favorite time of year. I sang along with every song on the radio, happily. I loved to shop for hours getting just the perfect present for each member of my extended family. Now, I beg my kids to tell me what they want, preferably with a link online. I don’t feel like celebrating, when did I become Scrooge?

I’d rather appreciate my family as I do, every minute of every day instead of on one particular day.  All the work you have done to prep and prepare and cook and bake is finally here; by the time you sit down to eat, you are exhausted and then the meal is over in literally five minutes. Tops.

You take a breather and move to a different room, everyone moaning about how full their tummies are and the tension moves with you like invisible cloaks. The young “adult” children text, the older generation talks about  people who have died or are very sick  and all I want to do is change into my soft flannel polka dot pajama pants and tee-shirt and climb under my blankets and go to sleep.

However, the chocolate cake with the layers of lighter chocolate mousse winks at me and soon we go back to eat dessert. A lot of dessert. That incredibly delicious chocolate cake with edible sugar ornaments, my vegetarian daughter grins as she eats a sugar “turkey.” There is also apple cake, strawberry-rhubarb pie, chocolate rugelach, banana bread, apple pie and assorted cookies. I’m ashamed to say that the fabulous chocolate cake, with an ice-cold glass of milk cheers me up. I can see the women of Weight Watchers “past” shaking their heads at me, tsk- tsking all the way to the scales. Sorry leaders, I haven’t gained any weight, in fact I lost more weight.

My daughter drives her grandmother home, with a care package that will last her at least a week to finish, complete with forbidden dessert since she is a not-so-so-strict-diabetic, it’s a treat for her, one bite or two at a time. The fact that my sister and her family aren’t here was felt by all, it just seemed empty without them. I missed my sister and the “cousins” being together. My husband’s parents are coming tomorrow, does that make any sense to you? Fill me in if you can figure it out, I can’t.

I see myself going away for a few days this year or next. This time I will go someplace different to be alone, to have some space, to smile at the sun and do some thinking.  It’s my turn now. I’m tired,  physically and emotionally. I need to get a good night’s rest and maybe when I wake up tomorrow morning I will feel just more hopeful. I give thanks for my family, my friends, for the food on the table. I give thanks that the holiday is over and for my pretty polka dotted pajamas. I am grateful for the sleep that is sure to come quickly. Good night.

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Napoleon Dynamite And Me

Film poster for Napoleon Dynamite - Copyright ...

Film poster for Napoleon Dynamite – Copyright 2004, Fox Searchlight Pictures (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My stomach is full, round, bloated, I’m about to burst and I haven’t even eaten anything today. It’s the day BEFORE Thanksgiving and I’m getting worried about my eating capacity. I haven’t even eaten yet because I feel so full. I look five, fine, six months pregnant and statistically I can guarantee you that is just not possible. No way, no how. I’m sure being concerned about my beached whale body isn’t helping either.

I’m lying on my stomach on my bed and I feel the tension and the huge, inflated balloon, that flabby orb that once was my flat stomach three days ago. I only ate one slice of pizza for dinner last night. ( I have to admit it was really, really good.) So, I had a little extra tomato sauce, maybe a bite or two of a meatball, that should not have made me gain two pounds this morning.

The scale is my enemy and for all the naysayers who say ” don’t weigh yourself every day” sorry, no can do. Sure, I realize that there are variations but if I don’t go on the scale one day, all hell could break loose. I should know, it’s happened before more than a few times.

It’s the day before Thanksgiving, my thoughts are just imagining the smells of  tomorrow. First, the turkey and stuffing in the oven. The sweet potato and apple casserole (with marshmallows) this year, the freshness and nobility of the salad to undo the damage of the mashed potatoes laden with butter, the rolls, warm, straight from the oven. My husband’s famous stuffing, the best I’ve ever had, and look forward to every single year: Hint: add sliced water chestnuts, chopped apples, raisins.One batch is soft, moist with gravy, the other is drier, great for a sandwich. Not to mention, cranberry sauce 3 ways, apple sauce, green bean vinaigrette.

I have dreamed my way to my favorite part, dessert:  chocolate on chocolate frosted cake, the strawberry-rhubarb pie, the apple pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream  or “à la mo-day” as we have said ever since we saw the classic cult movie “Napoleon Dynamite.” I have seen the move about ten times.

Later, leftover turkey sandwiches with mayo, yes, Hellman’s only. I’m fine about tomorrow, the problem is tonight. I’m starving, my husband is on call for the Volunteer Ambulance until seven pm, I’ve already had some fresh vegetables.  It is six pm, we are getting hungry, one more hour to go. Time passes so slowly when you want it to go quickly. I’m ordering now. We order too much.

The only thing deemed delicious by the family is take out Asian fusion food from the local store a few blocks away. Yes, I know that there’s fat and sodium and grease. But, it is the best way for us to stretch our stomach even more for tomorrow. Can’t wait.

Eating Key Lime Pie At Midnight With My Hands

Key lime pie

Key lime pie (Photo credit: nebulux76)

Not having utensils does not stop a sugar obsessed person from eating her leftover key lime pie for dessert. Why should it? My daughter had leftovers from her chocolate cake too. “We have no utensils” my daughter mentioned politely. That, as a problem, had never crossed my mind. My mind was on the authentic, Florida, key lime pie, the half sour, half sweet piece of juicy pie waiting for me to take a large bite. The utensil issue was really just a technicality. I grinned at my daughter and said “So? we use are hands!”

It was our first vacation alone together and we were having fun. Seeing me grab my key lime pie, take a big bite out of it and looking quite pleased with myself, grinning widely, she was happy to put her chocolate cake in her hand and take a bite. Isn’t that what vacations are for? To be able to do things like this and not be judged?     (We weren’t in the restaurant, We were alone in our room.)  It was definitely one of the high points of the trip for me. So, I’m a little addicted to dessert, there are certainly worse things, I don’t smoke, I don’t drink (much to the disgust of my two teenagers) and I’m not addicted to crack cocaine. An oatmeal raisin cookie occasionally or a piece of marzipan ( I’m drooling) after a well-balanced meal just makes me happy.

I would gladly give up all potatoes and pasta in the world, ( Sorry Nona) if I could have dessert and generally that’s what I do. I pass on the carbohydrates there, which pretty much don’t interest me, and save it up for what  I really care about, dessert. The only thing I have a tough time with is if there is really good ( son-approved warm) bread on the table, then I’m down and out. Or, if I’m lucky, there will be nothing on the dessert menu that I want to order, that’s a win-win situation. I want dessert but if there is nothing on the menu I want, I don’t order it anyway. I do have my standards. I save those calories and carbs for the next time I really want something and I know, that will be very, very soon.

I  love food way too much to give some things up entirely, so eating smaller portions is key and yes, I am finally forcing myself to drink more water. I really don’t like it any more than I did but I got so sick of every doctor telling me to do it, I just gave in. Is it my drink of choice? No, but it is certainly healthier than any chemical diet soda which I now limit. Lately, if I want something to drink that tastes good I get a mixture of cranberry and pineapple juice. There’s sugar, sure, but at least there is nothing artificial.

It’s Sunday, we all need to love our dinner, it’s a tradition in our house actually it’s been a tradition since I was six years old. It’s been decided, tonight is pizza and salad (maybe some bread too) and that’s okay because there is no cake or pie lurking in the refrigerator. There’s only ice cream which for me is just a source of calcium, so it doesn’t count at all.

Hope everyone enjoys their dinner tonight.

Carrot Cake Was NOT Just An 80’s Thing, Was It?

Carrot Cake

Image by Pen Waggener via Flickr

Hubby and I went out to dinner last week and as we looked over the dessert menu (after all, isn’t that the reason I go out to dinner?) I realized that certain important items were missing from the menu. There was no carrot cake, cheesecake. vanilla cake. Or any cake except a dense, all dark-chocolate cake. No pies. Just passion fruit crème brûlée,  a brownie with vanilla ice cream, a root beer float (really? that is a beverage to me) and fresh fruit in season, (LOL) and Nutella in pastry shells. I have a big jar of Nutella at home in the closet and with a teaspoon (or 5 teaspoons) to eat right out of the jar it costs a lot less than the eight dollars THEY were charging. I had just baked brownies for my kids and husband so that was out of the question, vanilla ice cream was safely nestled in the freezer. I had been dreaming of carrot cake, cheese cake, vanilla layer cake, coconut cake but there was nothing.

Carrot cake, to me, is perfection. It is a blend of sweet, salty, crunch and creamy. I’m not a huge fan of cream cheese frosting but hey, its frosting and it is vanilla-ish so that works for me. My husband in his loud, convincing voice said: “carrot cake was just an 80’s s thing.”  Excuse me? I don’t think so but he kept telling me that we don’t see it on dessert menus very often and I just assume that we’ve been going to the wrong restaurants.

Was carrot cake a cult thing? Like a flash in the (cake) pan? Do I need to find my leg warmers and leotards and watch “Flashdance” on the, (gulp) oldies station? Look at denim, that’s been around a long time and I doubt that’s going anywhere. I don’t want to think that carrot cake is not available anymore and please don’t suggest I make it because I don’t have the patience or the talent for all the chopping, mixing and whatever 52 steps it takes to create it.  Also, it’s no use saying “don’t order dessert” because that is totally irrational.

If I can’t find it in a restaurant I really don’t want to buy a whole cake. I don’t want a whole cake of any flavor in my house, from a bakery or Costco or the frozen section of my local supermarket. If there is (non-chocolate) cake, I will eat it.   Please, don’t let me buy an entire carrot cake or cheesecake because I am the only one in the family that will eat it and I have given up on portion control or rather portion control has given up on me.  I will have to scour every bakery and grocery store to find a place that serves these delicacies by the slice. I’m just not sure if I can be trusted to only buying one.

The Incredible Shrinking Sensa Lady

Cover to The Giving Tree, depicting the tree g...

Image via Wikipedia

Every time I see the commercial for the  incredible shrinking “Sensa” lady on my computer I get agitated. I am like a 5-year-old child that wants to growl. I am Max of Where The Wild Things Are. I am a roaring lioness protecting her young. This stupid Sensa lady appears every day, first she is full-size (and there is nothing wrong with that) and then she diminishes on my computer to become a very skinny (too skinny) cartoon shadow of herself. The commercial comes on practically every time I turn on my computer and I want her to go away. Or gain weight. Or, most importantly, be happy with who she is without shrinking to a skeleton. I want to see her eating chocolate truffles, and fettuccine alfredo with garlic bread dripping with mozzarella cheese. I want to see her with a date, a lover, a friend, a husband, anyone. It’s time for “Single Shrinking Sensa Lady” to hit the road.

I googled “Sensa” and all I could find out is that it is something you sprinkle on food and, allegedly, you feel full faster, but don’t quote me. If it works for you, that’s fine. I am not judging the product because I don’t know it. (maybe I’m judging just a teeny tiny bit?) I’m sure you would get the same results without using the sprinkles and just using a smaller plate!   Brand recognition? Sensa, you win!  I recognize the product each and every time, but it doesn’t in any way make me want to buy the product, it just makes me groan out loud and roll my eyes. Wouldn’t that be negative brand recognition?

As one gets older your body changes naturally. There is not much you can do about it and really, why stress about it so  much. Try to be healthy but don’t hit yourself over the head if you have a slice of warm apple pie.  Life is short, enjoy it. As that great movie with America Ferrara says”Real Women Have Curves.” I’m happy with myself, you can be too. Feel beautiful for who you are not what you weigh. Weight gain, weight loss, isn’t it time we get over it already? Be comfortable in your own skin, be healthy, eat whatever you want in moderation and take a walk; maybe even try to walk a little more every day. Do what you can.

I am no Jillian Michaels (and  heaven forbid, I don’t want to be.) I don’t think people need abs like cement bricks nor do I think they have to be tortured if they don’t lose enough weight in a week (I know it’s a television show called The Biggest Loser, but still……)  Jillian, please stop screaming so much. People are trying as hard as they can; if I was at “The Ranch” your screaming would make me gain weight for the emotional stress you were putting me through. How about a nicer, softer Jillian..oh wait, his name is Bob. Tone it down a little, no tone it down a lot (and I don’t mean in a weight loss way).  Yell at me, bitch, just try. I am comfortable with my body and myself. I am not skinny, I’m closer to chubby, ok, full disclosure; I AM chubby and I am fine with it. Enjoy life, think things through, have dessert, have a big heart and give back to others. Read and reread The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. Success is not always measured in pounds, it’s also measured in pride.

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The Chocolate Covered Cherry Diet

I’ve discovered a secret to losing weight AND having whatever sweet treat you like most. Notice I said like, not love. There’s an important distinction. For me it’s called the “Chocolate Covered Cherry” diet and I have perfected it. My husband once bought me an entire box of  chocolate covered cherries, which to me, is my kind of sweet heaven. Instead of putting them high up  in the pantry closet or having my husband hide them from me, I discovered  another option, a better option. It’s full disclosure.

I put the entire box of chocolate covered cherries (I’m drooling) in our bedroom on my dresser. Right, smack, in the middle. I opened the box and ate one and told myself I could eat one, just one, every night if I wanted to. Part of me, knowing they were so easily accessible didn’t even want to have one every night. But, when I wanted one I had permission to eat it and found, except for one time when I ate two, I did stop at one.  They are SO sweet that you don’t want to eat more than one.

There are limits to this dieting technique. You can’t do it with something known to be your weakness or downfall. For me, I could not have a dozen jelly doughnuts on my dresser because they are my ultimate weakness.  I wouldn’t stand a chance of having one bite every night or even one doughnut every night. You need to know which food will help satisfy your sweet craving and which food item will start you bingeing .

Choose wisely. Very wisely.

Try it and see how it works for you. Remember the secret is not to set yourself up to fail. DON’T buy anything you feel is absolutely irresistable to you. Purchase something that you really like and whose flavor is so sweet, so intense that having another would be really too much.  For me, the chocolate cherries work. However, don’t  substitute them for anything with marzipan, jelly or vanilla. There are just some things, I can’t resist. Unfortunately, I know that from experience.

Off I go to the drugstore now, to buy my chocolate covered cherries that I need, for my diet.