More Stuffed Than The Thanksgiving Turkey

Ahh the holidays. I love them for so many reasons but especially for the food. I love to eat, and holiday food is the best. Turkey and dressing, mac and cheese, desserts, and breakfasts with bacon and eggs.

Me looking at the scale after Christmas.

Me looking at the scale after Christmas.

From this past Thanksgiving through Christmas I ate like I was on death row and every meal was going to be my last.

Which is also why my pants began cutting off my circulation and my Spanx went on strike by the time New Year’s Day rolled around.

I had taken a hiatus from my dread mill, partly because of surgery to my leg last March but mostly because I was just about as productive as a slug.

So right after Christmas, when I put on a pair of jeans from my closet only to realize they were my husbands jeans – AND THEY FIT – did I decide I’d better actually honor my New Years resolution and start working out again as well as eating healthier.

Low-fat, low-carb…I cut down on bacon and other fatty foods. I’ve started eating so many nuts for snacks that I will probably grow a tail and climb a tree soon.

My new friends K and L talked me into going to the gym to do a “step” class. I don’t know if you have ever done a step class before, but it’s where an instructor has you stepping on and off a 6″ high platform while blaring music is pumped out of the speakers overhead and girls with stick-figure bodies in tight little workout clothes surround you.

I had taken step before a few years ago but I was not prepared for this one. Maybe I’m just getting old, but the moves were so fast that I’m pretty sure that I looked like I was doing “the Elaine” dance from Seinfeld while K and L were gracefully going through the movements with ease.

Me at step class

Me at step class

While they were going left I was going right. When they were going up I was going down. I was the complete opposite of what they did.

And with each break, I’d guzzle some water. Half-way through the class I thought my bladder was going to burst. I felt like a puppy near some new carpet.

After class, we decided to continue the workout with crunches. K showed me how to do sit-ups on a machine, and even though I had been doing crunches at home, it was clear that the ones I had been doing at home were the same intensity that a preschooler could handle.

The next morning, I had to literally roll out of bed because my muscles felt like I had been punched in the stomach. But, I went back two days later and my legs didn’t feel like they were full of lead anymore. And I actually enjoyed the class.

And I’m determined to honor my New Year’s resolution until I can no longer wear the same size jeans as my husband, and am back in my old clothes. And if that’s not enough incentive, then I don’t know what is.

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My Mother And the Middle Finger Salute

My mother, who we call Ninny, is one of the funniest people I’ve ever known. And the funny part about that is that most of the time she doesn’t mean to be funny. It’s completely unintentional – it just happens.

Some people are just funny because of things they do or the timing of when they say things. Ninny is a master of both of those things.

A perfect example of this would be what I call the “Glasses Adjustment” story.

And it goes like this:

My sister Cathy and her husband, Jonathan were at my parent’s house for a cookout, along with me and my husband. Jonathan and Dale have always had great son-in-law/mother-in-law connections with Ninny. They love to mess with her and she is just as quick to dish it back to them.

Jonathan was in the middle of telling us his favorite story about Ninny. She was staying at their house watching the kids while Cathy and Jonathan were out of the country for their anniversary. She was running late to pick the kids up from school but couldn’t find the car keys. She finally found them, jumped in the car, hit the garage door opener, and backed their brand new Mercedes into the garage door.

You see, in her haste she neglected to see that the garage door was already open and when she hit the button, the door closed, resulting in a dented car, damaged garage door, and a deflated Ninny. 2653_57801271098_5312612_n

Jonathan laughed as he told about Ninny having to call them in Italy to tell them about the accident.
We looked across the dining room table at Ninny, who was looking straight at Jonathan. She was giggling but he noticed that she was also adjusting her glasses…with her middle finger.

Jonathan said “GOOD GRIEF, I think that Ninny just shot me the bird!”

More giggling from Ninny.

My husband choked on his sweet tea, while my sister sat there with her mouth open. Jonathan started laughing.

I stared at my mother.

Our Ninny? Sweet Ninny? Did she understand what she was doing? Shooting someone the bird? The middle finger wave? The one finger salute?

And doing it so discretely that no one even noticed?

Not even her???

Until now.

The conversation moved on and we continued eating. Every once in a while someone would giggle.

“Does anyone want dessert?” Ninny asked.

“No, I’m good,” I said. “I’m trying not to eat so many sweets.”

Papa looked over at me. “You’re too thin. You don’t need to watch what you eat. You’re not fat like Ninny………..(enter LONG PAUSE HERE)……….and me.”

Dale ducked under the table in fear of flying dishes.

Cathy again sat there with her mouth hanging open.

Jonathan clapped his hands and laughed a huge belly laugh.

I looked over at my mother.

Who was looking at Papa.

And she was adjusting her glasses.

To Eat or Not To Eat

For years I was not a good cook. Not because I didn’t know HOW to cook, but it was hard because cooking for only two people wasn’t always easy. (I’m REALLY not good at math so dividing recipes was a nightmare. Sorry, Mrs. Wylie, but that math tutoring on fractions you helped me with in high school DID NOT stick with me).

My son, Matthew, was always pretty easy to cook for because all I needed to do for him was boil water for his beloved Ramen noodles. Water is boiling? Dinner’s ready!

My friends from my previous employer all knew of my poor cooking skills. (I have been rumored to burn water and I MAY or MAY NOT have made a grilled cheese once, forgetting to add the cheese). On one company trip, the Vice President came to our condo stating that she had been told I was cooking…with vodka…and she was a little nervous. No need to worry, I told her. Turns out, I was a pro at making jello shots!

When I got remarried I was sort of forced to fine-tune my cooking skills. Now, not only was I going to be cooking for five people, but there were now food allergies being thrown into the mix. My step-son, Austin, has Celiac disease, so he can’t eat anything with gluten. My step-daughter, Bailey, has a nut allergy and also eats only gluten free food, and my husband can’t have MSG.

Oh, the joy of cooking…yeah, right. Not ONE of my new family members can eat Ramen noodles…it’s chock full of gluten and MSG.

Making two to three different meals for one dinner time isn’t easy, so I began to get creative with recipes so that I could make variations of the same meal.

Yummy AND Gluten Free!

Yummy AND Gluten Free!

I realized that most ingredients can be easily substituted with gluten free products. This past week I made shrimp scampi – one with regular breadcrumbs, and one with gluten free breadcrumbs. It was a hit. Austin gave it two thumbs up and actually asked for me to cook it again sometime. That was a shock because he is extremely picky…I never know what he is going to like or not like.

Bailey’s favorite meal is my homemade fettuccine Alfredo. The Alfredo sauce is naturally gluten free, but I use GF pasta for her and regular pasta for us. She asks for it every time she is over at our house and it makes me smile because it’s something special that I can make for her.

Cooking gluten free can be a bit frustrating for someone whose favorite foods always start with “enriched flour” in the ingredient list, but I’m learning. And there are still days when I throw a piece of fish in the oven because the kids don’t want to eat what we are eating, even if it can be made GF.

I recently got a nice compliment from the kids. Bailey asked her mother if she could make some of the recipes that I make for her when she is at our house because she loves my cooking.

SCORE!

I found that cooking can be very rewarding when people actually like what you’re spending the time to cook, so taking the time to find out what they love is worth its weight in homemade gluten free pumpkin pie.