Friday, December 31, 2010

Looking Forward to 2011!

2010 was a year of highs and lows - a bit of a roller coaster. On January 8, I posted my New Year's resolutions online. The first (to make all of Katie's swim meets) was derailed on January 24 when I slipped on black ice and broke my back. Between a month in the hospital, and several months in a brace and hospital bed at home, I not only missed all of swim season, but most of Jenny's softball season as well. (Down)

The bright side of the injury was that I had 16 hours a day to devote to building up my portfolio as a Vertical Manager at Mahalo, generating over $10,000 a month in earnings. (Up) Unfortunately, as soon as I hit that level, the Vertical Manager program was eliminated. (Down) However, the experience gave me the confidence to start my own business with Colette Larson, a good friend I met at Mahalo in 2007. Our company now has two sites (Pharmacy Drug Guide) and (Best Free Stuff Guide) and is turning a profit. We couldn't have done it with our initial core of writers- who, although they are now being paid, took a risk and wrote for us on trust when we started. (Up)

That's just a sample of my 2010 - some really bad - some really good. I am determined to view the year as ending on a hopeful note, however, and am looking forward to the dawn of the new decade with faith and believe that good things lie ahead for me and those I love.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Celebrate National Lasagna Day on July 29

Lasagna has always been closely tied to Christmas for me. Growing up in an Italian family with five children who were not enamored of fish, it became our family's traditional Christmas Eve dinner. I was surprised to learn that National Lasagna Day was celebrated at the end of July- on my English-German mother-in-law's birthday, no less.

While making lasagna would be a great way to celebrate, it's a bit too hot for turning on the oven these days. Luckily, there are several restaurants that are offering half price lasagna to celebrate. Buca di Beppo is even serving up free lasagna.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Simple Italian Menu for the Grill

It's a hot, lazy summer day here in New England. What better time to use the grill instead of the stove? I'm looking forward to preparing a spicy meal of devil's chicken, grilled broccoli rabe (yes, you can grill broccoli rabe-- it takes about 3 minutes), and bruschetta with tomato salad.

This menu can also be done in the broiler, if the weather isn't conducive to grilling where you are. Here's a simple method to broil broccoli rabe.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

How to Make Chocolate Lava Cakes

Molten Chocolate Lava Cakes used to be a gourmet treat at fancy restaurants. Now that Domino's Pizza has put them on the menu they've become a more accessible indulgence. This recipe from Chef Dave Martin from Bravo's ''Top Chef'' shows how simple it is to make lava cakes at home. Do you have chocolate, eggs, flour, sugar, and butter in your kitchen right now? If so, you're less than 30 minutes away from chocolate heaven.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

How to Make Pesto

One of my favorite restaurants, Not Your Average Joe's has shared their recipe for pistachio pesto just in time for the summer herb harvest. I've tried it at the restaurant and it's great! This recipe combines basil and mint, but you can use all basil if you like. Pesto freezes well, and makes a great topping for grilled meats and vegetables.

1/2 cup roasted shelled pistachios
1 1/2 oz basil leaves
1/2 cup mint
2 Tablespoon
3/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup romano grated
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper ground

Place all of the ingredients in a blender and blend smooth. Place in an airtight container and hold for up to a week. For a nice touch, sprinkle pistachios over the finished dish.

If you prefer a classic pesto, Chef Paolo Laboa explains how to make a traditional Pesto Genovese in this video. He explains how subtle differences in basil, pine nuts, and olive oil affect the taste of the pesto.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Last Three Weeks

Three weeks ago today I had one of those moments when your life changes in an instant. I'd driven my son to school (actually he'd driven me as we are living through that parental nightmare called "permit time"), stopped the car at the mailbox and grabbed the mail that I hadn't collected since Saturday, opened the car door with hands full, and stepped out.

The next second, I was on the ground, having slipped on black ice, in too much pain to move. To make it worse, it was raining. I shouted-- nobody heard. I set off the car alarm-- nobody came. After about 35 minutes I was able to slide my arm over to reach my cell phone which miraculously hadn't been broken in the fall. I called my husband, who'd been sitting warm, dry, and oblivious inside while I was on the ground. He came out, called the EMTs....and I've been in the hospital/rehab ever since.

Rumor is I'm getting sprung on Wednesday-- home with hospital bed and a whole cadre of support professionals to help organize my life-- visiting nurses, occupational therapists, home health aides, and physical therapists.....this is a whole universe I knew nothing about.

I have learned a lot these past three weeks.

#1. I am incredibly lucky. Yes, I burst my L1 vertebrae and have become best friends with drugs I'd never heard of...but a little bit either way and I wouldn't be complaining about how much it hurts to walk or sit...I wouldn't be doing either. Everything works-albeit a bit slower.

#2. I have friends. The cards, visits, and flowers have been almost non stop. Accupressure and ginger tea to help with nausea from all the drugs, silly magazines and life savers...all the little things that met needs I didn't know I had. I will have a full time job writing thank you notes.

#3.Healthcare workers are overworked-- and still manage to put others' needs above their own. I am almost always greeted by smiling motivating people-- who seem to have nothing in the world to do except meet my needs. I do not see their personal struggles reflected in their attitudes, even though I know they all have the same challenges we all face. Somehow these angels manage to leave all that at the door.

#4. I am blessed to have a job that I can do anywhere there is wi-fi-- and to have landed in a hospital/rehab facility that have reliable wi-fi.

#5. Creative problem solving and teamwork can solve any problem. I am going home because of a team that included me, my PT, my OT, and my Othotics guy, which resulted in customizing my brace in a way none have them had ever seen before to allow me to manage it independently.

#6.I have family who cares and sees to the little things...from my husband who shows up early and wakes me up with good coffee and fresh bagels, to a teenage son who washed my clothes and brought them to me in the hospital, to sisters and daughters who have been an unending source of support.

Life can change in an instant. And I believe I have finally, truly, learned the meaning of "don't sweat the small stuff". It's all small stuff- except the people you love, and those who love you.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Whopper Bar

Do you want a beer with your Whopper? Burger King will start selling beer in Miami in February. Burger King launched their Whopper bar concept last March, with "Whopper bar Girls", "barristas", and a contemporary stainless steel and black and white interior design. The first Whopper bar, at Universal Studios, only featured soft drinks, but the international locations that followed served brewskis alongside the burgers. The South Beach Whopper Bar opening next month is the first in the U.S. to offer beer.

Friday, January 8, 2010

My New Year's Resolutions

My friend Holly Kuovo, president of Fitting Fitness In was discussing goals the other day. Holly said that if you don't set a goal and write it down, you'll never achieve it. While I'm not sure I agree with that 100% (certainly some people must achieve goals without writing them down) it seemed like sensible advice. So, I'm not only going to write my goals down, I'm going to do it here, in public!

So, in no particular order of priority, here are my goals for 2010:

1. Make it to each any every one of Katie's remaining swim meets. (She's done for good after NEWMACs this year.)
2.Read a book a week.
3.Unload some of the "stuff" I've accumulated over the years, which has been greatly augmented by the "stuff" I inherited from my mother and grandmother. It's time to streamline, and let go.

Those may sound pretty simple- and not major life altering resolutions at all...Life altering may come later-- but for now, I think small and achievable is the way to go.