Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Paresseuse -- Lazy in Paris!

Moi, je suis PARESSEUSE...that means "I'm lazy" in French. Isn't that a fantastic word? Well, you caught me just having a very UN-lazy moment because I used to speak French fluently and I was beating myself up for having forgotten this most exquisite could a Lazy Woman let that one morsel of her very limited French vocabulary fall like a most delicious crumb of a perfect croissant!

I'm leaving for Paris in two days. Why is it that there is always such an extraordinary amount of crap and non-crap to do before departing. Well, in my case, a lot of it is prep for the housesitters who are coming to stay with Lucy and Tallulah while I go off galavanting. 12 days was just too darned long for the furry little ones to sleep alone at night, so I'm cleaning, scrubbing, neatening and trying to think of every little quirk about my house that needs an explanation. I know that sounds frighteningly UN-lazy but in fact if I feel like I've left as much as I can in the best shape possible for the housesitters, then when I get on the airplane and breathe that sigh of relief, it'll be a real sigh of relief, not the kind that catches at the very end and gets stuck in an anxiety snag.

I am committed to working like a dog, thinking of everything I can, packing as thoughtfully as possible, and then getting on the airplane and truly beginning the adventure of a lifetime with grace and ease. This will be my first time in Paris with my love, Aaron.... what a lovely thing.

And, for three days I get to go off to Morocco to visit my fairygoddaughters who are the most magical delectable creatures on the planet. My time with them will be love-filled, heart-warming and soul-nurturing, and then off to the City of Love and Lights.

Just writing about the relaxation, the adventure and thinking of all the joy is taking the stress out of my shoulders. Isn't it amazing how our thoughts directly result in a stress or release reaction. That's my clue to getting through these last two days before take-off: remember the love, remember the goal....and stay in the moment right now having fun getting things done in honor of the love and fun!

Happy Holidays to Everyone! Joyeux Noel to all!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Trader Joe's Tuesday - Christmas Surprises

Trader Joe's just improves every year on the Christmas front. They have so many super cool baskets, potted and cut flowers, cookies and cakes. You can give the Master Trader just 5 quick minutes on your way to a party or to visit a friend and he will absolutely provide you a perfect hostess gift.

In these hard times, a lot of us have people in our lives who are out of work, or whose funds have at least been decreased, so a Trader Joe's gift card can be very appreciated. You can make it a yummy gift by tying it onto a box of cookies or a cake, or a cute stack of chocolates or a festive box of hot chocolate mix. So, not only do they have an immediate mood enhancer to imbibe, they have your gift to warm their hearts and pocketbooks! (oh my god that word is so old fashioned!!! the pocketbook is in the slacks hanging on the ice box!)

I have a cold right now as do a lot of people in my life, and TJ's has a lot of great things for a little "Get Well at Christmas Time" basket... Ricola Cough Drops, Emergen-C, Zinc, Airborne, Anti-Bacterial gel, Hot Tea, Juice (I would give cider for them to warm up for a nice hot nurturing drink), Flowers and of course, CHOCOLATE heals all colds, right?.... I think people feel even worse about being sick during the holidays because as annoying as all the social requirements can be, people really do usually want some human contact during the holidays! So leaving a little "Sorry your sick during the holidays basket" with maybe a little Poinsettia thrown in for cheer, could make someone's season.

And, here's to everyone's good health and frolicking during this season!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Lazy Skin Care

I was walking down the skin care aisle of Target with Aaron the other day, helping him look for his favorite Neutrogena lotion when I happened to see this at eye level right in front of me:

Neutrogena Healthy Skin Rejuvenator, The Anti Aging Power Treatment

I remembered it was something that Oprah had mentioned as one of her favorite things a couple years ago. It was on sale and I thought "oooh that sounds like it would feel goooooooood...." So I bought it and as soon as I could grab some time to indulge I did.

It really is unbelievable, and definitely one of my new favorite things. It promises to do a bunch of lovely stuff, but let me just tell you that having your face scrubbed and massaged with the click of a button is a wonderful thing during the stressful holiday season and EVERY DAY! It's relaxing, and the result is that your skin will be deliciously smooth and soft.

I have some sun damage on my face -- particularly on one side, from driving I suppose. I'll let you know how the miracle scrubbie works on the spots over time. But, no matter what the end result, each time I've used it -- I've used it three times now -- I feel like I've gone to a spa for a little while.

Yummy Lazy Life....

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Trader Joe's Tuesday -- Replacement Addictions

A person-who-shall-remain-nameless (i.e., a friend who I don't think ever really was a friend because of what said ex-friend did...and frankly, I think you'll agree...just listen to this horrible tale of drug pushing) introduced me to a very, very bad addiction, which I cannot imagine is too far from a crack addiction. What is the addiction and what the heck does it have to do with Trader Joe's?

The addiction is what I call Spicy Hot Cheetos. Technically they are called "Crunchy Flamin' Hot Cheetos" and they are profoundly delicious and equally deeply addictive. I hear that they really are "laced" with something that makes them more addictive. Just thinking about them makes my mouth water. And, the very sad thing is that it's a really embarassing addiction -- especially for a vegetarian who puts such a high premium on healthy eating. It's just not hip. And, worst of all, everyone knows when you've had them because they stain your fingertips bright neon flamin' hot RED!

A few weeks ago I made a promise to not eat these blessed spicy morsels for the rest of the year. Yet again Trader Joe's saves the day, though! In the snack/chip section you will find "Baked Cheese Crunchies" -- such a cute, harmless name, eh? And, they are pretty low-cal and low-fat. And, there is a Jalapeno version too, though it's not quite as satisfying to me as my crack cheetos in the level of spiciness. But, the regular Baked Cheese Crunchies are quite crunchy, delicious and not laced with anything. So when you're finished, you don't desperately crave another bag and you aren't left with a half-crazed-full-moon-wolf smile on your face or stained fingertips!

And, may I tell you that if you are looking for a very cool crunchy cheesy addition to a salad to add some interesting texture, crumble several of these on top of your salad!

Trader Joe's has a knack for creating healthy alternatives to many of our favorite addictions! Yet another reason to be thankful this holiday season.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Lazy Christmas Tree?

As much as I was enamored with the glistening full white oh-so-shimmery-yet-not-too-plasticky-looking artificial (duh!) Christmas tree I couldn't do it. I couldn't go fake Christmas tree yet. Aaron did. And, frankly, it's quite lovely and I don't think anyone would even guess it was fake from more than 6 inches distance from it.

But, I am still enamored with the white tree. I feel like I did when I tried on my very first pair of black patent leather shoes when I was a toddler. Only this time I didn't leave the store with them.

I know it's better for the environment to do artificial, so I am slightly ashamed. And, I was completely blown away by Judie (co-author of "The Lazy Woman's Guide") telling me that her huuuuuuuge Christmas tree which I ALWAYS thought was real -- not to mention looked new and different every year -- has been the same fake one for several years. I had literally NO idea, and I had been sitting at its feet many times.

We put up my real tree yesterday and it was a hilariously huge hassle. Aaron acccidentally stepped on a string of lights, obliterating one big bulb. We cleaned it up and then Aaron went to pick up the string and proceeded to ELECTROCUTE I'm not kidding. He's an actor and I thought he was ACTING and then he showed me the palm of his hand which had a smokey burn on it the size of a quarter. Scary! So, the moral of the story is real trees are dangerous....and messy, of course...pine needles all over.

Fake trees are stringing tangled lights. And they don't shed. So maybe I'll get over myself next year, and Aaron can have a healthful holiday season in 2010!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Trader Joe's Tuesday - More Thanksgiving

Do you have the regular guys and gals you are friendly with at Trader Joe's. I do, and I get attached to them, so when I've moved in the past I've been sad to lose them for their cheery faces, their recommendations and their familiar nods and hello's.

I sad down to write about working with turkey leftovers but I can't get my "Trader Joe's Husband," (I, of course, am his Lazy Wife) 21 year old Brian, out of my mind. I haven't seen him in quite a while. He had been set to ship out to the Navy in early October, but when I went in and saw him mid-October I was shocked to find out the reason. His mom who had just been married at my exact age only weeks prior was on her honeymoon when her most beloved new husband was killed. Brian had delayed his entry into the Navy so that he could support her in her very obvious time of need.

I just got back from getting a Christmas tree with Aaron, feeling so lucky that for the first time in several years I had a guy to help me bring the tree in. I always do it alone, plopping it in my convertible (some years to my body's utter horror because it was so darned cold) and schlepping it out, knocking down anything in its wake. I am just so grateful right now because Aaron loved Christmas as much as I do and this is the beginning of a lovely season. It was in the happiest times like these that Brian's mom lost her new love. Anything can happen. Any moment.

So, I'm going to rush back to my love but first a few tips for what to do with leftover turkey:

  1. Scrumptious Turkey Cranberry Salad -- Lettuce of your choice, turkey chopped up in even sized bits, dried cranberries, grated parmesan cheese (the bag in the refrigerator section), lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Turkey Pasta Alfredo -- Check out the frozen pasta section at TJ's....several would do but there is a great Mushroom Alfredo which is PERFECT for adding turkey. Cook it a little more than halfway and then add in the turkey so it's all evenly warmed.
  3. Turkey Spinach Sandwich -- Trader Joe's has fantastically delicious breads... perfect little panini, mini-baguettes, etc. Instead of mayonaise, grab the Spinach Dip in the refrigerator section and slather it on the bread. Slice a tomato layer that on. If you like capers, throw a few in (yes TJ's has capers over near the mustard and olives) by dotting the spinach dip with them. If you NEED cheese throw on a slice or two, but with the richness of the dip, I don't think you'll need it.

In gratitude,


Monday, November 30, 2009

Post Thanksgiving Lazy Report

My mother is an undiagnosed paranoid schizophrenic -- undiagnosed because she thinks nothing is wrong with thinking that three different people, including the government, are tapping her phone. Therefore, a normal relationship is tough. For a while I thought the best way, the healthiest for her and me, to have a relationship was to severely limit contact. I declared to friends and family, most of whom fully supported my decision, "I am not Mother Theresa....if I was I'd be a better daughter to her and be able to handle the crazy talk..."

But, I reviewed the Landmark Forum a few weeks ago -- six years after I took it the first time -- and I got the major lesson again that I got the first time -- that I want to seek opportunities to give love, rather than shy away from them. So, the first big deal post-Forum was Aaron, my boyfriend, got to meet her for the very first time. He had been begging to meet her for months. He was thrilled, she was thrilled, and all-in-all it went off in a rather carefree, lovely way. So much so in fact that we invited her to Thanksgiving.

What? With Aaron's 16 and 20 year old? I wanted to protect them from the oddness, wanted to really protect myself from embarassment, and crawl under a rock. But, instead we ALL rose to the occasion. His kids were lovely and so mature. He was his consummate generous, easy self. And, I was really better than I've ever been with her either. I will say I had moments of internal freak outs when I found her carrying on quiet full conversations with the little voice or voices in her head while she dried the dishes, but I let them go fairly quickly because my god there really was so much to be thankful all its shapes and sizes, love, love, and more love.

We have a section in our book on Gratitude and boy oh boy when you focus on it, it really makes like so much Lazier.

Happy Thanks-Giving-Every-Day to All!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Trader Joe's Turkey Tuesday

It's Trader Joe's Tuesday just two days before Thanksgiving and the ultimate Trader of all things nut and cheese is out of pecans! What? How? Where? Is everyone in the Pasadena area making pecan pie? I'm sure I'll find some tomorrow but I just thought it was slightly hilarious as several of us stood before the wall of nuts cocking our heads from side to side, like puppies looking in a mirror.

I am doing a very bizarre and slightly un-lazy thing this year because we have a bunch of people coming to join us for dessert. There coiuld be up to an extra 12 people coming just for the dessert course so I am making not one, not two, not three, not four but FIVE desserts. But, the reason why this is LAZY for me is that I loooooove making desserts, love having a big spread to have everyone feast over, and oh my god I found some cool recipes: Bourbon & Orange Pecan Pie, Pumpkin Pie, Squash Cheesecake, Apple Blackberry Pie, and Aaron found a recipe for something he had to have: Turtle Pumpkin Pie so we're making that too!

On holidays you end up making compromises, so you gotta also do things that feed your soul...if you end up feeding the crowd as a by-product, all the Lazier for you!

Monday, November 23, 2009

More Lazy Thanksgiving -- Thank you God for FLOWERS!

I don't care how delicious or horrible your Thanksgiving feast turns out -- you can burn the turkey to a charred lump o' flesh -- but if your table is beautiful people will still remember your meal as being lovely!

So, here are some easy tips for making your table beautiful:

  1. Bring the Fall in! -- Gather fall leaves from the yard, wash them off and lay them down the middle of the table (or in the center if a round table) like a runner. Place baby pumpkins and squashes and other veggies like artichokes and fruits on top of the leaves. Put one vase in the center -- and if you fill the vase with little veggies or fruits -- grapes look fantastic -- it will look even more plentiful and gorgeous!
  2. Pumpkin Vase -- Hollow out a pumpkin, just like you would for a jack-o-lantern. Put a jar or glass inside it and put your holiday bouquet in the glass, so it looks like the "vase" is the pumpkin!
  3. Placecard Holders -- Make placecard holders out of pumpkins, apples or oranges. You can make a tiny slit with a knife in the skin of whatever you are using (or in the stem of the pumpkin) and put the placecard in the slit.
  4. Burgeoning Vases -- No earlier than the night before Thanksgiving (so you have clear water) fill a big (tall or wide) clear vase with baby veggies or fruits. Some of my favorites are baby apples, baby artichokes, or grapes. Put your bouquet of flowers in the water, using the fruits/veggies as oasis, i..e, to stabilize the flower placement. The flowers don't even have to be fantastic at all because the burgeoning vase contents will be the hightlight.
  5. Pumpkin Candleholders -- Dig a little hole in center of some baby pumpkins and place candles in holes.
  6. Individual Flower Arrangements -- Thanksgiving is a holiday of sharing and the table is always overflowing with food, so one way to add decorations to the table without forfeiting the center, and blocking anyone's view, is to make tiny individual flower arrangements. You can get creative with the vessels you use...just the fact that each person is getting their own little arrangement above their plate will make them feel special and "decorated"!

I always decorate the table the day before so I can really have fun creating the personal touches. You don't want to leave it to Thanksgiving Day because -- as we all know -- there are foods and people flying in every direction on the holiday, so you want to be able to enjoy it all, instead of stressing about the details.

So, remember this Lazy Motto: If it didn't get done, it's not important!! It really isn't. The holidays are about sharing food, stories, once everyone arrives, just LET ALL THE EXPECTATIONS GO and HAVE FUN!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Lazy Thanksgiving: Prep or Procrastination

Most people I meet who hear the title of the book we wrote boast proudly about how they procrastinate. We have a whole section in our book about procrastination, and the bottom line is this: it's LAZY if it doesn't stress you out. So, if procrastination causes worry, tension or general dis-ease, then we are NOT for it. But, once in a while procrastination, i.e, moving something down in your list of priorities, is a good idea. The question you need to ask yourself is "Will putting this off relieve stress or add stress?" Obviously that implies looking at short and long term effects. So you just need to stop, take a breath, ask the question and then make a powerful choice one way or the other, and then LET IT GO!

For me, with Thanksgiving I choose PREP over PROCRASTINATION because I really love Thanksgiving. I love cooking, decorating and having fun with friends. So, I do a little bit every day leading up to Thanksgiving. I get my shopping done as soon as I can, and have TO DO lists for Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday so that Thursday is truly enjoyable to me.

One thing I particularly love doing is setting the Thanksgiving table so I actually start on Tuesday night. I set the table as completely as I can because I always get last minute inspirations for additions to the decor. I even set out the flower vases, etc. and just add fresh flowers on Wednesday night.

When you do things over the course of days, it's very stress-free, and really does allow for more improvisation, such as running out to collect freshly fallen leaves, cleaning them and adding them to the table!

FLOWER ARRANGEMENT LAZY TIP -- Fill the vase with baby veggies, like baby artichokes, baby apples, baby clementines, etc. It makes for a very "plentiful" Thanksgiving look!

Lazy Thanksgiving Prep to All!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


I find my soul kicking and screaming right now. I just had my first full-blown perimenopausal symptom this weekend. It's undeniable. I got into action right away. Luckily I was on a mini vacation and one of my lovely friends I was away with is a medical doctor. I told her the symptom, a second period in a month, and told her how I've always been meticulously regular with my periods. She immediately laughed, and explained that it was more odd that I had never had any aberrations in my periods, and then basically told me not to worry about it.

The symptoms progressed after I left our little vacation and I started feeling weak and profoundly tired. When I told my boyfriend about the symptoms and started crying and feeling sorry for myself that I was moving toward menopause, he also laughed!!!! He said "Well it makes sense where would be some changes as I aged..."

No sympathy from either of them! LOL! Poor me! It was pretty hilarious and such a great lesson: don't take perimenopause, menopause or ME too seriously!

It really is just a change. It's life, like death. Change, death, life.

So, the bottom line is that surrounding yourself with LAZY people -- lazy doctors, lazy boyfriends, lazy friends -- who don't let you take yourself too seriously -- just makes being lazy that much easier.

Here's to my new adventure: lazyopause!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

More Lazy Transformation

The very cool thing about transformation is that when you start transforming really cool things happen around you. I took my boyfriend to the last night of my Landmark Forum and I got to tell about 250 people that I am in the relationship of my dreams, and that he is the best boyfriend on the planet. I really believe he is.

I had been working on "creating" him for several years, so I was very excited to finally find him. My only regret was not finding him over 20 years ago when we were both actively crossing paths when we both lived in NYC. But, as he says we found each other when we were ready to find each other. So true.

We just had our six month anniversary, and I've never swayed from feeling just profoundly lucky -- even during little growth spurts we've had, dealing with issues that have come up.
He is my most exquisite match, and as I heard a lovely British gentleman say about his girlfriend and himself: "We are exceptional together."

Being exceptional is better than even being great, isn't it. I strive to be a great girlfriend every day, and I know that he draws the best out of me. He is a stand for my greatness.

This morning, the day after he visited the world of the Landmark Forum and signed up to do it himself, he woke up and one of the first things he said was "I want to be the best boyfriend ever." I told him he already was. I don't think he really believes that yet, but I am committed to him getting that it's the truth!

The Forum is definitely a Lazy Woman tool, I'll tell you that much! In just three days the barriers to love start falling down, and the love comes pouring in. It's lovely.

The anniversary of the Berlin Wall coming down was this weekend too. Love-ly coincidence.

Lazily, lovingly yours,

Monday, November 09, 2009

Lazy Transformation

I had the distinct pleasure -- truly distinct, truly pleasurable -- experience of reviewing the Landmark Forum this weekend. I did it six years ago and it transformed my life then. Since I'm now in the relationship of my dreams, and have hit a lot of the personal goals I set for myself in the last couple of years, and as I begin this new chapter of my life -- the chapter where my dad isn't physically present in my life -- I thought it was the perfect time to review it.

I thank god for my aging memory because I forgot almost 100% of it over these six years, so I had the experience of taking it for the first time. Even though the distinctions have been working in my life all these years, and I live by many of them on a daily basis.

OK, blogerruption!!!

You are not going to believe this!!! As I was typing that last paragraph I was really stuck on the sentence from the previous paragraph: "even though my dad isn't physically present in my life..." I was feeling a bit sad as I typed and then I started hearing a beep. It sounded like my french press 4 minute timer, so I ran to the kitchen. Indeed it was right near the timer, but in fact it was my dad's watch. I just received it in today's mail from the rest home where he died. I had worn it most of the day but took it off to when I was in the kitchen. So, I guess he is still physically with me in his own little way.

The best part of the Landmark Forum is that after I take it I just don't want to avoid any opportunities for love. It's because of the Landmark Forum that my dad died without anything being left unsaid on my part. He knew I profoundly loved him and adored him, and I knew he profoundly loved and adored me. And, we both knew that nothing, nothing, nothing else mattered.

If you have an area of your life where you aren't fulfilled or getting the results you want, or you just want to kick your life up a notch, I absolutely believe the Landmark Forum is the LAZY answer to your prayers.

Here's to the Landmark Forum allowing me to truly express my love for my dad the last six years of his life.

Good night Dad.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Lazy Death: This Too Shall Pass

My dad died on October 10th, synchronistically the same date that my boyfriend's father died. I thought it might be a sweet little nod from my dad from beyond. My boyfriend, and other friends who have lost their dads are reliving their dad's deaths to one degree or another. But even friends who haven't lost a parent understand my pain. This is one of those life experiences that you really don't have to live through to understand and fully empathize with. I know every time a friend's dad has died -- my entire life -- I have felt their pain on some level because even imagining the world without my dad was so painful.

It's been painful, even though I knew it was coming. As I've said to many friends in the past, "No matter how great your life is going, there is never a good time to lose a parent. You are never really ready for it." I thought I was. About 8 years ago my dad was diagnosed with a fatal lung disease, pulmonary fibrosis. He was given 5 years to live. Four years ago he was diagnosed with lung cancer. He also had emphysema. My dad was such a fighter he lived far beyond what his doctors expected.

I have felt a little like I was cut off at the knees. I've felt wobbly kneed several times since he died, and I've never felt these sensations before. I've never felt so shaken by anything in my life. And, as we say in our book, the phrase I keep repeating, that everyone knows and can recite in times like these: This too shall pass.

I know it will get better. I know I'll have a little more finesse with hearing my dad in my heart. I know I'll adjust to not being able to pick up the phone and call him.

It's not passing's right here in every cell, but it will transform into something different. I hope it transforms into a little glowing, peaceful ball of light inside me that I just get to tap into for joy instead of sadness. That I could look forward to passing into.

We'll see. All I know is it's true: This too shall pass.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Lazy Aging

I'm dealing with my dad being in the final stage of his life, so aging is on my brain. I take pretty good care of myself but I just had a moment in the mirror tonight waging a brief battle with my aging. A few months ago a dermatologist gave me a cream he wanted me to use to bleach a brown sun spot above my eyebrow. I don't usually go for fancy creams but the doctor said "It's a miracle -- takes away brown spots, wrinkles, everything!" That was a few months ago, and tonight I felt compelled to finally take it out and apply it to that nasty sun spot, and maybe make a little effort to fight the evidence of my aging.

I keep my skin in great shape with my grandma's skin secret (which I wrote about a few months back) but when I looked in the mirror recently I realized the sun damage is aging me. Sometimes the Lazy thing for me to do is acknowledge that something is bugging me, and has possibly been bugging me for some time, and to just bust a move -- or bust open the sun-spot-eliminator-miracle-cream.

The "Lazy Way" is less effort, less stress, and more joy. Sometimes just a little effort makes a difference. Sometimes a little effort = a little more joy.

My dad didn't take good care of himself on a lot of levels. Few of us take care of ourselves perfectly. We slip and slide around. We pay perfect attention and then don't pay any attention. We eat the wrong things, don't drink enough of the right things. We drive with the top down without sun block.

Well I'll be having a little Lazy Fun with my sun spots starting today. I'll apply a little cream each day and see how it goes. And, I have a renewed commitment to sunblock, and have it placed in the car doors for easy access. Little efforts = little bits of joy in my new relationship with aging.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Lazy Birthday for the Lazy Man Boyfriend

I had to do an interview yesterday with Gregg Smith who is a famous restaurateur here in Pasadena, because I'm doing an article about him for Pasadena Magazine. I told him I was doing a dinner birthday party for my boyfriend last night for 13 people, and he was pretty surprised by how relaxed I was. I told him the title of our book and he understood!

So, how does a Lazy Woman create a fancy dinner party for 13 with less stress? Here's what I did to create the following menu:

Chicken with Lemon Caper Wine Sauce
Mashed Potatoes
Spinach with Olive Oil and Lemon
Orzo with Peas and Fresh Herbs
Salad with Parmesan and Pine Nuts
Hot Buttery Bread
Two Birthday Desserts

Wednesday Night -- 4 hours work

  • Shopping for all Ingredients (frankly if I wasn't so cheap this could have been done in much shorter order, but I'm cheap!)
  • Prepare the Mashed Potatoes and put in casserole
  • Prepare Orzo with Peas and Fresh Herbs
  • Prepare one birthday dessert
  • Prepare flower arrangements and votive candles for tables

Thursday Morning - 1 hour work

  • Prepare second birthday dessert
  • Pound the chicken breasts and marinate in olive oil and white wine

Thurday Evening -- 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. (party started at 7)

  • Set tables
  • Dress bouffet table and place all the serving dishes that will eventually be filled.
  • Par-grill the chicken
  • Prep the salad (without dressing)
  • Put the fresh spinach in the pot with lemon and olive oil and put on low heat to just get it steamy, then turn off so it's not completely cooked, but cooked down a bit -- again, not done, just partly cooked so it can be reheated and finished in a couple minutes
  • Put the caper, wine, lemon sauce together in a big sautee pan, so it's ready to throw the par-cooked breasts into for final minute of cooking
  • Decorate the birthday desserts
  • Put the mashed potatoes in the oven at about 350 for final hour leading up to dinner.
  • Chop chives for mashed potatoes.

Thursday Evening -- 7:45 (at the end of cocktails) to about 8:05 when dinner is served.

  • Put buttered and sliced baguettes or pane rustica in oven for final 15 minutes in with the mashed potatoes.
  • Dress salad with lemon, olive oil, salt pepper.
  • Sautee the breasts in the lemon wine caper sauce for just a minute or so and plate with all the sauce flowing over all the pieces and put on table
  • Take mashed potatoes out of oven, mix a little and throw in some fresh chives. Put on table.
  • Warm up the spinach for a couple minutes to finish their cooking -- being careful to keep tossing in the pot so you don't overcook any leaves....and put in bowl on the table!
  • Take bread out of the oven...and put it on the table!

I've posted a couple of the recipes that I used that I loved. The mashed potatoes are my own variation of the Silver Palate Cookbook "Thanksgiving Potatoes" recipe which has butter, sour cream and cream cheese...this is why you can reheat them the next day and they are actually fluffier and better when you do!

Buon BIRTHDAY Appetito!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Trader Joe's Tuesday -- Barbecuing is ALWAYS Lazy!

What could be lazier than grilling? No heating up the kitchen, no pre-heating ovens, no messing up a bunch o' pans! And, phooey on "grilling weather!" Even if you have to put on a jacket to go throw the food on the grill and put the jacket back on to go flip it, etc. it's not that big a deal. I know some of you live in bitter cold, so I don't expect you to grill then, but even when the stores stop setting up their BBQ fixins' in aisle end displays, you can remember this easy solution for great taste. (By the way for those of you who really don't WANT to grill outdoors due to weather constraints, I HIGHLY recommend the George Foreman grills...they come in many sizes and they are cheap...and worth their weight in gold because you need no butter or oil...they are stick-free and really stuff tastes BBQ'd when you grill it on there!)

Traders Joe's is BBQ heaven. They have tons of marinades (and even dressings that aren't touted as marinades) in their salad dressing section, as well as littering the displays above the frozen meats and fishes. Just look at the ingredients and see if it strikes your fancy, and marinate your meat either an hour or two -- or overnight, if you are thinking ahead. Fish doesn't need to marinate as long. An hour will do it for fish. And, watch for citrus ingredients which will actually cook the fish, so those you don't need to marinate in anything citrus-y, just brush on prior to cooking.

Now, as a more-than-half-my-life fishetarian (eat fish sometimes, but mostly a veggie) I still LOVE grilling real honest to god red meat for my friends. There is literally nothing better than that smell. I love marinating tri-tip and I can often find pre-marinated tri-tip at my TJs. I love grilling chicken too for my friends.

My boyfriend is a genius barbecuer, so he grills and I do the sauces. This weekend, we made Grilled Chicken with Lemon Caper Butter.

Ingredients for the Lemon Caper Butter sauce for about 6 people -- spooned onto the grilled boneless chicken (pounded thin if you can -- it's fun to get your aggressions out, eh?) are all found in the TJ aisles:

1/2 cup butter (I use salted because I like my salt)
3 to 5 tablespoons of capers (to your taste)
juice of one large lemon
A couple splashes of white wine (any white wine)
A couple pinches of salt

It's delicious! I promise!

But for those of you who are veggies like me, check out the Tofurkey Italian Sausage and the new Gourmet White Hot Dog Buns. Who knew there were great hot dog buns? I always use pane rustica cut up into the right size for my buns, or unique sourdough rolls, etc. because I think most buns are tasteless and/or never fresh enough. But the Trader Joe's Gourmet White Hot Dog Buns are fabulous.

And, unequivocally, their Tofurkey Italian Sausages are the best most satisfying deliciousest veggie dogs in the world! I split them down the middle and throw them on the grill face down and then flip just a couple/few minutes later. I thought they must have turkey in them because the taste is so robust, and checked the label three or four times. They are completely veggie. I think it must be the sun dried tomatoes (which I usually don't like) and basil that make the difference. If you have a veggie in your family, throw these on the grill for him/her, and they'll probably ask for the package label too!

Buon Barbecuing Appetito!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Lazy Cake -- Just FIVE Minutes to Chocolate Cake!!!!

Hear Ye, Hear Ye! Lazy Women of the World Hear Ye This! You can make a delicious chocolate cake for two in FIVE MINUTES!

Late last night I got an email with this recipe in it. I exclaimed how cool it looked so Aaron said "Let's do it!" Of course, by "let's" he meant for me to do it because he thinks he can't bake. Well, this is for even those with a faint heart of any kind with respect to baking. It's NOT baking -- it's mixing stuff in a cup and throwing it in the microwave!

You mix the ingredients in a COFFEE MUG, put it in the microwave for THREE MINUTES and you have a warm chocolate cake!! It really was good! And, it was plenty for TWO PEOPLE to share.

Here's the recipe that came in the email...except it said the chocolate chips were optional and I say you need them.

4 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons chocolate chips
A small splash of vanilla extract
1 large coffee mug (MicroSafe)

Add dry ingredients to mug, and mix well. Add the egg and mix thoroughly.
Pour in the milk and oil and mix well. Add the chocolate chips (if using) and vanilla extract, and mix again. Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes at 1000 watts.
The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don't be alarmed!
Allow to cool a little, and tip out onto a plate if desired.
EAT ! (this can serve 2 if you want to feel slightly more virtuous).
And why is this the most dangerous cake recipe in the world? Because now we are all only 5 minutes away from chocolate cake at any time of the day or night!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

It's Trader Joe's Tuesday -- Green Tea Madness

We just had dinner at an amazing restaurant tonight -- Equator in Old Town Pasadena. I have to say every bit of the meal was an inspired and delicious Asian Fusion delight... I could write about every divine flavor we experienced but I want to focus on the green tea and what it has to do with Trader Joe's.

They made a green tea cheesecake and it was resting in a little green sea of green tea yogurt and strawberry slices. It reminded me of my addiction a couple years ago to the green tea yogurt at Trader Joe's so I will now be reassuming that culinary habit and I will be slicing strawberries into it because it's so fricking beautiful and tasty!

And, the next thing I'll be trying is Green Tea Mochi in a strawberry puree. These days you can make a strawberry puree so easily because you just throw the berries in a blender and barely have to add any sugar -- if any -- to make a nice puree. Can you imagine how lovely that would look with the one whole strawberry atop the mochi ball?

I'm telling you I didn't know until today that green tea was meant to be wed to strawberries. I am happy to hear about their lovely romance...and that Trader Joe's can support this culinary bliss in many ways.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Trader Joe's Tuesday -- Birthday Cakes

I am trying to figure out something slightly more culinarily tragic than finding a Trader Joe's item that is actually equally as good as an item that takes me hours to make from scratch. The only reason why I love making the cake from scratch is that it is so profoundly delicious that it's better than anything I've ordered in a restaurant --- and leagues beyond anything bought in a store.

But, I have to admit that the Chocolate Ganache Cake at Trader Joe's is super-scrumptious. You can taste the butter -- in the good way, not the bad way -- in both the cake and the frosting. And, it is so moist.

So, if you just found out it's someone's birthday and you want to deliver a wonderful little cake, pick one up.

Little Secret: I took it out of its box, put it on a beautiful plate, put strawberries all around it, a few on top, with a couple sprigs of lavender from the garden and EVERYONE thought it WAS homemade! That took less than three minutes, as opposed to a couple of hours!

Now, that's Lazy! We love our Trader Joe's, eh?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Trader Joe's Tuesday Goes Tomato Crazy on Friday!

I have been craving something every day since Monday when we made the most amazing dinner, which Aaron, the beau, says is one of his favorite pasta dishes ever!

It's a variation on Checca Sauce, the famous Italian tomato based sauce that has tomato, basil, garlic, olive oil and mozzarella cheese. It's a much simpler version that truly celebrates that tomatoes that are either in your garden or at Trader Joe's!

Trader Joe's has wonderful boxes of heirloom tomatoes right now. They are not only stunning to the palate, they are just gorgeous to use in this recipe because they are every shade of red, from deep purple to yellow-green-red.

Here are the ingredients:

Pasta (I used the Lemon Pepper Pappardelle but plain egg noodles would be possibly even more fabulous)
Fresh Basil
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper (I used course salt and roughly grated pepper)
Optional: Just a little....if you do add it...grated Reggiano Parmigiano and/or a few roasted pine nuts.

The bottom line is that this dish is a celebration of tomatoes. The pasta is just there to hold the tomatoes, the Basil is just there to powerfully accent it, the olive oil cloaks it in loveliness, and the salt and pepper just give it the little kick in the pants the tomatoes love to reach their full glory.

  1. Boil a package of pasta while you...
  2. Chop several tomatoes up in small bite-sized chunks.
  3. Chop the basil coursely.
  4. When the pasta is done, toss it with the tomatoes, basil, a few long drizzles of olive oil, salt and pepper (and just a tiny bit of grated parmesan and/or pine nuts if you really need to do it!)....and you are done.

Seriously, for summer tomatoes, I think this is the ultimate celebration -- even more so than gazpacho or caprese salad because peppers and cheese pull your attention from the true glory of the tomatoes. Honestly, I say don't add the options of parmesan or pine nuts if you really want to taste all the nuances in the tomatoes, but you aren't a heretic if you do add them. Just try a few bites at least without the additions -- just get a noodle, some tomato and a little basil on a fork and roll it around in your mouth and really let the tomato flavor explode...

Buon appetito!!!!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What Happened to Trader Joe's Tuesday?!

I was on the road last week so blogging came to a screeching halt, and last night I was all wonky because I was dealing with my dad again. He's had a series of strokes over the last few months. He had to go to the hospital yet again last night because he very likely had another small stroke yesterday.

My dad lives in Alaska so it's just all that much more stressful dealing with things. For instance, last night I had to get on the phone with him and convince him that he needed to go to the hospital, that my uncle (who is committed to being there as his primary caretaker until he dies), and the two lovely gentlemen -- aka medics -- who were there helping him were correct when they suggested he needed to get to the hospital. My dad listened to my pleas patiently, and I could feel the three sets of eyes staring at the phone while he listened, as they hoped my words would calm him and allow them to transport him. After I plead, my dad said "Well, I'll take it under advisement" in his inimitable way, with a little twist of wit.

The good news is it worked. The bad news is that this last several months has been a series of incidents and conversations like this, and I have to say in large part I haven't been profoundly lazy about this process. The death process isn't only a death process for the person dying, of course, and I'm not pulling my weight here. I get way too stressed when I see my uncle's number or my dad's home line calling my phone. It's affecting many levels of my life as all big life challenges do.

My only secret weapon is my boyfriend, who consistently offers three major Lazy Man ingredients to my life: 1) he listens and offers comforting, grounding advice, 2) he makes me laugh and see the humor in the situation (and always points out that my dad's spirit and humor) and 3) he distracts me when there is nothing more to be done, said or considered.

The luckiest of Lazy Women I'm realizing are the ones who have a good Lazy Man behind them. I never had one until now, but I was lucky enough to have always been surrounded by a huge lot of lovely Lazy Women who took up the slack and supported me exquisitely. I am just particularly grateful to have a good Lazy Man in my life right now during this difficult time.

Trader Joe's Tuesday will return next Tuesday! Wooo hooo!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Julie & Julia Inspire the Lazy Woman!

What a delicious movie! Even if you only go to see Meryl Streep execute the most charming portrayal of Julia Child, you will be seriously pleased you did.

My only recommendation is that you stock your refrigerator before you leave for the movie. My boyfriend and I were starving when we left the theatre and had planned to go out to eat afterwards, but we just had to cook something! So, we stopped at the market. At home we knew we had the most beautiful tiny purple artichokes and some beautiful multi-colored pasta. So we stocked up on all the fixins' to create a colorful feast.

Here's what we did....

Baby Purple Artichokes -- cut them in half, add olive oil, a splash of red wine vinegar, a splash of balsamic, and some garlic salt. We marinated them for just about 1/2 hour and then threw them on the grill til they looked almost burned. Then we threw them in a 400 degree oven for about 1/2 to get them nice and soft. NOTE: the way you eat these is you just eat pull the meat off with your teeth, just like if you were just eating the "meat" off of one leaf of an artichoke.

Tri-Colori Pasta with Puttanesca Sauce -- Sautee four or five cloves of chopped garlic in olive oil until they are starting to brown. Add a few anchovies for a couple minutes to further flavor the oil. Then add a large can of chopped tomatoes, a couple tablespoons of capers, a couple pinches of red pepper flakes. Sautee while you get the pasta cooked up.

Yellow & Red Beet and Fennel Salad -- Boil up the beets (some yellow and some red) until they are tender when pierced by a fork. Once cooked, put them in a colander and run cold water over them. After a couple of minutes they'll be cool enough to work with. The skin will come off very easily. Then slice them up. Slice up the fennel bulb (you don't use the green fern-like leaves for this) in thin little strips. Toss it all up in your favorite vinaigrette recipe. We made a quick mustard vinaigrette. Throw on some toasted pine nuts.

It was the most delicious array of flavors, but the colors...reds, yellows, purples, greens...were slightly inebriating. First the movie, then the frolicking shopping coming up with a menu, then the colors in front of me...but it was the finale to a yummy day!

"Bon Appetit" as Julia always said!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Lazy Stars

Are the stars being Lazy these days? Or perhaps there is a glitch in the Southern California water filtration system, because I now have THREE -- not one, not two, but THREE couples that are starting on the road to divorce. In all three cases one party is simply "done" with the relationship, and I'm looking back at each of my failed relationships and in every single case, one of us just simply got to a place of "done" where there was no chance of being un-done. It just takes the one person in the relationship, and usually one is pretty crystal clear about how finished they think the relationship is.

The trick, of course, is not getting to the "done" place. But as I sit perched so perkily atop my brand new relationship blossom that's so fresh and shiny, I am terrified that I won't see the signs of decay. I'd like to think I would, that I'm pretty aware, but in all of these cases, one or both of the people in these relationships were either what I would consider more aware than I am, or just about at my level!

Every single day I make sure to tell him something I love about him, and regularly tell him how lucky I feel to have found him --- albeit so late in life!!! Actually, it's thank god so late in life because we probably would have been doomed had we met earlier. We've both been working on ourselves over these last several years in particular, and had we met when we both lived in NYC in our 20's (we lived two doors away from each other on 69th Street -- not the same years, but still our paths were consistently crossing) we probably wouldn't have given each other a second look.

But, what happens on the days where I don't feel as lucky or happy? I think the answer is somewhere between 1) letting go, letting go, and more letting go and 2) "generating" lucky and happy from the place deep inside where it a little Energizer bunny beating the love drum and putting on the cool glasses and the happy smile ... no matter what the circumstances.

That last suggestion of being an Energizer Love Bunny may not sound Lazy but LOVE is always the Lazy alternative -- anger, resentment, frustration all take so much more energy, they suck you dry. Love makes everyone feel better. It's a Lazy Fact.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Trader Joe's Tuesday -- Laguna Inspired Chopped Salad

We went to Laguna last weekend and had the most amazing salad which inspired this:

Laguna Chopped Salad

Veggie/Fruit Section
Cooked Beets
American Salad Mix

Cheese Section
Gorgonzola Crumbled Cheese

Dried Fruit/Nuts Section
Dried Cranberries
Toasted Pine Nuts

The secret is in the chopping. Having just been to Alaska, I got a new Ulu knife, which is such a fabulous kitchen tool, but any good chopping knife will do. Chop up the salad into tiny bite-sized pieces. Chop up the beets into tiny bite-sized pieces. Then chop up the cranberries and pine nuts together (it actually is easier to chop them together, believe it or not). And, yes, they are small already, but you want to chop them down even smaller. Toss all the chopped things together with the already crumbled cheese and dressing. Add salt & pepper to taste, and you are done with another fresh, beach-inspired salad!

I dress with lemon & olive oil, but you can do your favorite vinaigrette, or just a drizzle of balsamic and olive oil....your choice.

Buon appetito!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Trader Joe's Tuesdays - Romantic Summer Fresh Dessert

Hey All,

I am stretching the Trader Joe's theme today because I just made the most fabulous Tiramisu in the history of mankind...yes, folks, the HISTORY OF MANKIND, and MOST of the ingredients can be found at Trader Joe's.

I only doubled the recipe and it was actually enough for about 6 hefty servings, instead of 4. If you follow the link above you can actually click on a CALCULATE button to change the number of servings you want to prepare. The recipe is for 2 but it's unbelievably easy to double and triple.

All of the ingredients can be found at Trader Joe's EXCEPT the Lady Fingers. In doubling the recipe, I used one package of Lady Fingers. Also, as a true Lazy Woman, I stopped at Starbucks and got 4 shots of espresso instead of making my own, when I was out for coffee in the morning. I stuck the cup in the fridge to get it cold by the time I cooked in the afternoon.

But, "cooking" is really a big exaggeration for this recipe. This is soooooo easy to make and it's super delicious and refreshing. I'll tell you I used less sugar for all parts of the recipe just because I don't like super-sweet tiramisu.

And, for the vessel to put it in? I used a very low round vase, which was the absolutely perfect size for the doubled recipe.

I don't think I'll ever make regular ol' Tiramisu again. And, apparently "Tiramisu" is Italian for "pick me up" and I can tell you it picked up me, my boyfriend, our guests, and all who tasted the leftovers! In the summer months, we need to take advantage of the juicy delicious strawberries, and the fact that you serve this on a puree of strawberries just adds to its divinity!

Ciao and Buon Appetito in all your Al Fresco dining this Summer!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Trader Joe's Tuesdays Delicious Dessert

It's hot in LA today, so all things frozen and icy are popping into my head. I love all the Trader Joe's popsicles. They have little sugar and lots of fruity goodness. Frankly, I'm a sucker for anything resembling ice cream in any shape or form.

But, one of the desserts that is particularly delicious in the Trader Joe's frozen section that is quick to thaw and pretty darned unique and elegant is the frozen profiteroles. When I first got out of college I partnered with Beth Setrakian who would soon become a world famous baker with her famous cookies, Beth's Babies. I will never forget the night that I helped her with a big baking job she had: profiteroles for 400! It was a wedding and the wedding "cake" was to be Croque-en-Bouche, which translates to "Crackles in the Mouth." The profiteroles are put into a big upside down cone shape and then drizzled with sugar syrup that hardened. The French tradition is that the bride takes a bat and breaks "the balls," i.e., breaks up the cone, balls/profiteroles go flying, and everyone partakes in the profiteroles as wedding "cake."

We were baking for a wedding the following day, and by around 4 a.m. we were almost done poking the profiteroles with a pastry bag tip and filling the 400 balls with the creme patissiere. At one point, Beth picked up one of the trays that I had just completed to move it...I sensed that something very, very bad was about to come out of her mouth, and indeed I was correct: she pointed out, sadly, that because I was so tired I had accidentally only been half filling the last couple of trays worth of profiteroles. Tragically, I had to go back and re-do my work, of course. Profiteroles really aren't a lot of work unless you make silly mistakes like this. But, it's really a wonderful treat that Trader Joe's has frozen ones!

They come with a chocolate sauce, which is just dandy. I usually make my own homemade sauce, but in the heat of summer, do the lazy thing and use theirs. You can throw some fresh raspberries onto the plate to add a little zestiness. Just place about 5 profiteroles on a plate, drizzle with chocolate and throw on a handful of berries and voila, you are having a Parisian Summer!

Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Trader Joe's Tuesday -- Light & Lemony Shrimp, Oh My!

I just made this and it was deeeeeeeeelicious! This seriously takes about 10 minutes.

Trader Joe's Shopping List

Veggie Section
Sliced White Mushrooms
Fresh Chives

Dry Goods Section
Artichoke Antipasto
Artichoke Hearts (packed in water, not oil)
Garlic Salt
Lemony Pepper Pappardella Pasta

Frozen Food Section
Frozen Pre-Cooked Shrimp


Boil salted water for the pasta while you prep the sauce.

Throw the whole backed of sliced mushrooms in a pan with olive oil. Throw in a bunch of garlic salt. Drain the artichoke hearts and squish in your hand to break them up into the pan. Add about 2/3 of the jar of Artichoke Antipasto. Add zest AND juice of one lemon. Sautee.

When water boiling, add pasta. When it's almost done, add the shrimp to the sauce and sautee. Chop about 1/2 the package of fresh chives.

Toss it all together and you have a refreshing light summer pasta ready to go for at least four hungry people.

I made a quick salad of arugula, toasted almonds, grated fresh parmesan, lemon and olive oil on the side, which went really well with the pasta... fresh, fresh, fresh, and I made it while the water boiled as well.

Buon appetito!

Monday, July 06, 2009

Confessions of a Lazy Jet Setter & Some Lazy Ass Travel Tips for All

This Lazy Woman was so lazy on the airplane coming back from New York yesterday that she refused to pull down her carry on luggage (yes, even for 9 days, Lazy Women ONLY take carry-ons!) to get the "No Jet Lag" pills out of the bag.

Sometimes laziness has consequences and today I suffer the consequences. I also didn't drink enough water on the plane. I usually drink a minimum of 1.5 liters on cross-country trips, three liters when going across the pond. I swear it helps my energy level, my digestion, and my skin when I drink more water than one could imagine would be comfortable....which is why I always have an aisle seat.

So, I amassed a few travel trips (a couple are re-hashes worth mentioning) this trip:

  1. Water Logging -- ALWAYS drink a minimum of 1.5 liters of water for every 5 hours of flight time. Drink a minimum of 1 liter on flights over two. Airplanes dry you out -- inside and out -- so you have to give your body what it needs.
  2. Water Preservation -- Avoid alcohol and coffee, of course, because they leach the body of water as well.
  3. No Jet Lag -- Take "NO JET LAG" a homeopathic remedy you can get at health food stores. This is my first trip in a long time that I was too lazy to get it out, and I promise you I regret my lazy ass right now.
  4. Broadway Shows -- We missed one half of the Tony Award winning "God of Carnage" (which also does not sport an intermission) because TUESDAYS -- yes, just about every Broadway theatre on Tuesdays -- the curtain goes up at SEVEN -- yes seven, as in ONE HOUR EARLIER THAN NORMAL. For the love of God. Third row center seats...I weep a little as I type. All of my NY friends had no idea. We all realized we had. clearly, never gone to theatre on a Tuesday. So, I hope this blog saves ONE PERSON from disappointment.
  5. Carry On -- Even my boyfriend regrets checking his bag as he clocked each time we had to wait for his bag, and saw that I didn't even wear every item in my carry-on over the course of our nine days away. The trick is rolling your clothes very tightly (with paper if avoiding wrinkles, i.e., linen) and packing all one color with a couple of accent pieces and accent jewelry. Off the top of my head, this is what I had in my bag: 3 pairs of shoes, 1 fancy dress, 3 casual dresses, 1 skirt, 3 linen pants, 4 other pants, one fancy sweater, two nice shirts, several (probably 8) nice light t-shirts, pajamas, two sweaters, two pairs of running shorts, a few running shirts, tons of underwear/bras, big belt, phone chargers, toiletries....and I'm sure there was more, that's just off the top of my head. Lazy = Less Stress, More Joy. Not having to worry about checked bags = Lazy.

Happy Lazy Trails to All!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Lazy Death

It's been a while since my last post...June has been a month of travel and dealing with my dad starting his travel to his next "post." He had a few little strokes this month, and the last one a few days ago -- just a day after my departure from a little visit with him in Alaska -- is now affecting his cognitive reasoning. Today when the nurses asked him where he was he said England or Alaska, one of the two. Yesterday he was in Redding! In fact he is where he's been living since I was a mere 12 or 13 years old: Anchorage, Alaska.

He's sleeping a lot and in my experience with people who are in the death process, sleep tends to be a good deal of what is on their "to do" list. In fact, at the bedside of a few of my dying friends and relatives I've had the distinct impression that even though they were physically in the bed, they were travelling to the other side, dipping into their next stop of life/death.

When I talked to my dad this morning I said "Hey dad, it's your one and only daughter calling from Los Angeles." Thank God he recognized me. Thank God I'm an only child, so he didn't have to sift through a lot of offspring memories to find me. We actually had a nice little chat. These are the chats I will miss, the ones where I can tell he is on the other end of the phone all lit up just upon hearing my voice. No one will ever light up like my dad does at the sound of my voice.

I take solace in the words of my friends when they tell me they still talk to their parents who have gone and still hear their voices, as if they were hear. And, in the meantime, my Lazy Lesson for the Day, Week and Month is to stay in the moment. In this moment, he's alive. As he slips away from the dad he used to be it's like I'm mourning the little pieces of him. But, in this moment, he is alive, and this moment truly is all that matters.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Trader Joe's Tuesday -- 30 Second GUACAMOLE!

I love avocados in every form. My favorite thing is sliced avocado with a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of course salt. Deliciosa!

I also loooooooooooove guacamole, of course! Here is a super duper simple recipe for guacamole that takes 30 seconds to make:

Trader Joe's Shopping List

Veggie Section

Refrigerator Section
Salsa of your choice -- I use "Especial" -- but they have so many great salsas and literally any one will do because the salsa has all the tomatoes, onions and spices you need!

Instructions for making enough for two people to share with some chips and a couple of cold beers:
  1. Mash up two avocados.
  2. Squeeze juice of one lemon.
  3. Add a couple to a few tablespoons of salsa.
  4. Sprinkle a little course salt, or regular salt, to taste.

And, you are done! Go outside with a bowl of chips, crack a couple of beers and happy Nueve de Junio (as opposed to Cinco de Mayo)!

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

It's Trader Joe's Tuesday on Wednesday!!! Wooo Hooo!

This salad is in our book, and my friend, Kath, always refers to it at "The Bridget Salad" because I got her addicted to it many years ago in response to the challenge she uttered "I hate eating anything green!"

It's now a very hip salad that you find in most restaurants, but back in the day it wasn't everywhere, and generally it's a salad for which they use a vinaigrette dressing of some sort. I use lemon and olive oil only, and usually I get the question (uttered on bite #1 or #2): "What kind of dressing is this?!!!!"

Lemon and olive oil is one of the healthiest dressings you can make as both ingredients are good for you. Also, you tend to not overdress using these two items which is a good thing because used in moderation both ingredients enhance the flavors, particularly of the lettuce.

So, here are a few variations on the salad, which is just a few ingredients long, full of protein and unbelievably fast to make. The bottom line is it's 1) lettuce, 2) cheese, 3) roasted nuts, and 4) lemon/olive oil dressing.

Bridget Salad #1
Very American Salad Mix
Sharp Cheddar
Unsalted Dry Toasted Sliced Almonds

Bridget Salad #2
Organic Romaine Salad
Parmigiano Reggiano
Toasted Pine Nuts

Bridget Salad #3
Baby Lettuce Salad
Crumbled Gorgonzola
Toasted Pecan Pieces

YOUR Salad #4
Lettuce of your choice
Cheese of your choice
Toasted Nut of your choice

Dressing for all three variations: fresh lemon juice (1/2 to whole lemon, depending on size of salad) and a drizzle of olive oil, and some nice course salt to taste.

And, of course, you can add other things like tomatoes, cucumbers, sliced olives, avocado, etc. But, at least once, give the simple trio combo a chance with the lemon and olive oil. I think you will delight in the flavors like never before!

Buon Appetito!!!!

Monday, June 01, 2009

Learning to Love - The Lazy Way

I had the most delightful day today. I wrote an article for Pasadena Magazine about Jacob Maarse and his wife Clara. Jacob and Clara started one of the most successful florists in Southern California in the early 70's in Pasadena, Jacob Maarse Florists. Jacob hailed from the tulip capitol of the world, Alsmeer, Holland, and Clara from Iran. And, they have been in love since they met over 50 years ago.

I met them at their house this morning for the photo shoot for the article, which is essentially a tale of their long and lovely union as well as their mutual passion for roses. They have 3500 rose plants on their property. It's pretty stunning to behold.

But, more stunning is their love which seems as fresh and new as a young couple's. They were so adorable during the photo shoot, making each other giggle. The photographer said "I just have to fix the shadow on Mrs. Maarse's face" and Jacob turned to Clara and said "Your face is just as lovely as it always is..."

That kind of love is what I have been searching for all my 47 years, and the love that I have finally found. I really hope that after many years together, we can find each other as wondrous as we do now, and are as delighted by each other as the Maarses are.

Yesterday I was having a long chat with an old high school friend, Stephen, about my new love. Stephen had only weeks before I met my love told me "Don't worry, he's coming. He's just around the corner." So, I give huge credit to Stephen for opening my heart up a little more to the possibility, and for leading me by a cosmic rope out of the dark cave I was in where it seemed impossible to find my love. He said "You are reminding me of a quote I just came upon and wrote in my journal just two weeks ago .... 'The greatest thing you will ever learn is to love, and to be loved in return.'"

I had never contemplated the concept of learning to love. My learning is centered largely in the arena of trust and surrender. These are two things that haven't come easily for me. But, I am delighting in surrendering anew and flexing my trust muscles. Sometimes it's scary, but I'm learning. I'm learning and I'm loving the learning.

Boy am I one blessed Lazy Woman.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Lazily in your Skin

I had the great honor, pleasure, delight to live in Paris my junior year of college. It was fairly spectacular on many levels. I always say I learned to love my own company in Paris. This is not to say that at 21 I was totally together by any means. Nor does it mean that I was comfortable in my own skin. The phrase in French is "Bien Dans Sa Peau" which just sounds like something you want to aspire to, doesn't it? Getting there took me another 15 to 20, I'd say. But, before my boyfriend at the time moved to Paris from Florence (where he was studying) I spent a lot of days wandering Paris, and learning the city, by myself.

I had tons of really dear friends studying in Paris at the same time. But, I was the only one that lived in the Marais. More than that, though, somehow we were all just instantly busy with our studies and setting up our lives. We all lived in apartments spread all over the city. I remember feeling lonely for the very first time in my life one of my first days in Paris. I was thinking "What is this feeling? I've never felt this before...." I was very lonely, the pain of which was accentuated by dearly missing my boyfriend. There were no cellphones then, of course, just painfully short international calls made at the local post office in cramped smokey booths.

One of my first days there I got home after a long day, and realized that I had spent my entire adventure alone, and hadn't spoken to one friend. I was shocked by how much I had enjoyed myself. Thus began my year of learning to love my own company. Even when Tom, said Italian-studying boyfriend, arrived in Paris to live with me half-way through the year, I still had many a long day alone, and I really learned to love these times. I learned to be more "bien dans ma peau" than ever before.

The other thing I learned about in Paris, of course, was fashion. How can you not when in Paris, right? And, while I have never been, nor will I ever be, a fashionista, I really was blown away by the exquisite style of women of every age, and wanted to imbibe it, make it my own.

I found my soul's store: Agnes B. which is particularly lovely when uttered in French. It's AHN-YES-BAY. Lovely, elegant, just to say the name. I look at photos of myself upon my arrival in Paris and then toward the end of my year, and I see that my sense of style truly did evolve, and that I have kept some of what I learned. I need a refresher course, though, that's for sure.

I was reminded of this today when I visited a blog my friend Salle Redfield recommended a while back. Today's entry sent me right back to the streets of Paris. You simply must check out the link I posted if you have any fascination with the simple elegance of women's fashion in Paris.

As I read the blog I remembered that my Parisian women friends really were pretty Lazy about their fashion. They did the minimum, and they didn't, in general, fret about it at all. They simply did the minimum with a Lazy touch of genius. The blog has some great Lazy Parisian Woman tips.

Bonne Chance Mes Amies!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Trader Joe's Tuesday - Summerlicious Salad!

Summertime and the livin' is laaaaaaazy....or at least it should be in the kitchen. This is a delicious little ditty I made up last night:

A + B = C (
Avocado + Beets = Culinarilicious) Salad

Trader Joe's has two fairly amazing products on their shelves that can go overlooked. One is the pre-cooked whole beets that you find in the veggie section in a little green cardboard wrapping (which nearly obscures the fact that it holds beets).

The other amazing find is the Aioli Garlic Mustard Sauce (which, by the way, is fantastic when lightly spread on a sliced baguette with thin slices of Gruyere cheese on top!). This sauce makes a delicious vinaigrette with a special little kick.

The two TJ finds combine to make the A+B = C Salad, which is colorful, delicious and refreshing!

TJ's Shopping List

Veggie Section
Fresh Chives

Cheese Section
Parmigiano Reggiano (or your alternate favorite cheese)

Canned Foods Section
Aoili Garlice Mustard Sauce
Red Wine Vinegar (or Balsamic, if you prefer)
Olive Oil (if you don't have)
Course Salt if you don't have)

What to do:

  1. As always, walk into your kitchen!
  2. Get out two (2) avocados and the package of beets and slice it all up in even slices.
  3. Arrange avocado and beets on a plate.
  4. Mix about 1/2 teaspoon of the mustard sauce with vinegar and oil to taste. Mix well and drizzle over salad.
  5. Chop up the chives and sprinkle over the salad.
  6. Grate a wee bit o' parmigiano over the salad.
  7. Sprinkle with course salt.
  8. ENJOY!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

When it's Right it's Right

A few months ago when I was complaining about yet another hideous online date to my friend, Melissa, who has been exquisitely happily married for many years now, she told me that she and her husband had just recently been talking about how crazy their past relationships were, and her husband wisely said "Yeah, they were ALL crazy...until YOU."

There really was something slightly off about every single relationship I have been in up to now, and it was slightly off from the very beginning. The energy flow between us wasn't equal, one of us was always pursuing the other, and somehow feeling a loss of power in the pursuit.

I confess that I had a very un-Lazy attitude toward relationships. I thought "If I just work hard enough, I can make this all OK." I can't believe I let myself get away with that unbecoming for a Lazy Woman!

When I had my Angel Store in Old Town Pasadena, a few times people came in and with a little hostility in their voices would say "I don't believe in angels!" I think they thought it would upset me. I always said "I get it! Why should you? Until you have an experience yourself, it's all a bunch of hooey, conjecture, pictures in your head!"

I think it's kind of like that for me with love. I don't think I really believed it could be easy, that it wasn't always going to be a struggle of sorts. Part of me thought I was just a difficult person to match. A few times I thought "This is probably as good as it gets." Other times I was alone thinking "Maybe I'm just not the marrying kind."

The bottom line is I couldn't really have believed this could happen for me until it happened. It was comforting hearing from all my friends that it had happened to them and they were certain it would happen for me, but keeping the faith even amidst the reinforcement was sometimes difficult.

Life really does not have to be hard. There is a way to handle EVERYTHING with less stress and more joy. And, sometimes finding the Lazy Solution is in the waiting, pausing, sitting on hold for a little while ....hopefully with an open heart.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Trader Joe's Tuesday on Monday

I know I'm supposed to wait until tomorrow but I can't cause I just made the best incredibly fast impromptu al fresco dinner. Yummy.

My new love can't eat garlic. So, I made a tasty alternative to a tomato sauce without garlic, and a simple salad to precede it!

Summery Al Fresco Salad & Pasta -- Perfect for a Warm Evening
(Enough for Two with a little leftover Pasta for the next day)

Trader Joe's Shopping List

Veggie Section
Tomatoes - I use the ones still on the vine
Fresh Chives

Cheese Section
Reggiano Parmigiano (or the parmesan of your choice...)

Canned Goods Section
Artichoke Hearts (not marinated)
Chopped Olives
Pappardella/Egg Noodle Pasta
Olive Oil (if you don't have)

  1. Walk in the Kitchen!
  2. Start boiling water - salted and a dash of olive oil.
  3. Slice avocado and tomato and arrange on salad plates. (I use one small avocado and two tomatoes for each person)
  4. Drizzle with lemon and course salt. Set aside the salad plates while you...
  5. Sautee olive oil, chopped tomatoes, the can of artichoke hearts and can of olives.
  6. Add salt, pepper, etc. to taste.
  7. When water boiling, add entire package of Pappardelle/Egg Noodles.
  8. Chop chives
  9. Pasta should be done now! So drain it, for the love of God!
  10. Toss everything together!
  11. Serve the avocado & tomato salad first.
  12. Then serve the pasta! It's OK that it cools to room temperature while you eat the salad.
  13. Grate a little parmesan over the pasta just before serving.
  14. [and if appropriate, kiss the love for whom you made the meal!]

Buon Appetito!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Lazy Love v. Unlazy Fear

I'm trying to figure out how I can turn talking about the new love in my life into a Lazy Woman tip. Hmmmmmmm..... I know. It's a tip I learned from him. So, it's a Lazy Man Tip on the Lazy Woman blog for something new and different.

He pointed out this little tendency I have -- that I know I have and that my friends know I have -- to expect negative things to happen. When I start falling in love I am always waiting for the proverbial other love shoe to drop, looking for trouble. He just keeps patiently pointing out that it's just my FEAR running the show in those moments.

I have been contemplating how darned un-lazy fear is. It takes up time and energy, makes you feel like crap, and worst of all it leaks. It leaks into conversations, rooms, events, and it tends to spread like wild fire. Luckily I have a little fire tender who is following me around with a bucket of water, dousing the sparks before they ignite into anything bigger.

When we were having a very simple, quiet moment he said "Remember this..." I, of course, assumed he was breaking up with me right then and there! LOL! "Remember this...when you are afraid." He's right. And, that is a tool I can actually use when I dip into fear.

Years ago when I was going through a tough time -- a breakup, of course (due to fear most likely!) -- I had someone tell me to imagine a STOP sign every time I wanted to go into those dark, yearning thoughts. That too was helpful. This one, though, is much more fun, to think of a loving moment.

The bottom line is that fear is never real. It's never the present. It's never the truth. It's just thoughts, made up to appeal to the insecure mind and heart. He's right: I need to focus on what is real, and what I know is the truth.

So, the tip for myself today and for you, should you choose to accept it, is that the lazy way to deal with fear is to 1) snap out of the un-reality and 2) focus on what we know, the truth, the present.

Yippee! I got to talk about my love and give a Lazy Man/Woman tip too!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Lazy Health Scare Cured by Acupuncture

It's all good now but I had the most bizarre health scare this week. I had a cold, which brought a bunch of head congestion. Nothing too annoying, no sinus pain even, no ear pain, just a bad cold. Then on Tuesday when I was writing all of a sudden I felt dizzy, just sitting in bed typing. The room started spinning for no gosh darn good reason.

So, I did the stupidest thing I could do: I stood up. What's that instinct about? I think I must have felt like the bed was causing the problem and my instinct was to get out of it! Hilarious and stupid, because of course immediately I started falling. I grabbed the phone and started to call 911 and just then I caught myself and the symptoms started subsiding. I hung up and called my dad instead. He had had a stroke a couple years ago and had described the start of the stroke exactly as what I had just experienced. He told me to take an aspirin and talked me down from the fear. Later I was diagnosed with "benign positional vertigo" which was all due to my silly cold.

I was told to take some things, but after a couple of days it wasn't getting better. So, I was delighted that my first appointment with my new acupuncturist was synchronistically scheduled for Day 3 of my vertigo. I've been to many acupuncturists since I was a kid, but Marsha Connor was the most amazing I've ever experienced. She has this air about her that is the perfect combination of sweet, gentle mother earth and scientist. And, she's hilariously funny. I'll admit, I started it, but she was right there with me the whole way, culminating in the moment she came back in the room to take the needles out: "Are you still here?" The laughter gave the needles one final jiggle and voila I was done.

I had two very bad episodes within two hours of the treatment (which is actually typical in my experience with acupuncture) and was gone. Completely and utterly gone. Now, come on, that is one Lazy Cure!

Years ago I had the pleasure of falling off a horse in the middle of a friend's 10,000 acre ranch. I dislocated my elbow about six inches out of its socket. It took over 10 hours to get to a hospital that could set it straight again. When they brought me to and told me it was done, the circle of awestruck doctors around my bed (it was one of the worst dislocations they had seen) said that my arm would never be the same again. I'd never have full use of the arm, and I might need surgery.

I flew back to LA and checked in right away with the orthopedic surgeon per the hospital's instructions. He concurred with the hospital doctors' dim outlook. From there I went straight to the acupuncturist who within weeks had my arm as good as new. I went back just to show it off to the surgeon and he was blown away, and slightly hostile to boot! La di da, la di da!

I'll never get used to or bored with acupuncture miracles. Acupuncture was clearly invented by one very Lazy Woman or Man...thank God!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Trader Joe's Tuesday: Quickie Lemony Dinner

I have been obsessed with lemons since reading about food combining in the early 80's. We were told then that the best way to start your day is hot water with lemon. Also, we learned that vinegar isn't the best thing for our bodies for a variety of reasons. So, I changed my regular salad dressing from balsamic vinegar and olive oil to lemon and olive oil. I became immediately addicted because I found that it did a far better job highlighting the flavors of the greens, let alone the reds and yellows!

So, coming up with menus that are based on lemons is easy, and one of my favorite things to do. You can imagine my excitement when Trader Joe's started carrying Lemon Pepper pasta. This is one of the most flavorful pastas I've ever tasted. Literally, eating it with just olive oil or butter is very satisfying, but my favorite way to serve this pasta is how I prepared it for a recent five course Lazy Lemony Dinner Party. I'll share the full dinner party menu later, but for now wanted to give you a good Springy (or Summery) dinner recipe:

Shopping List (Enough for 2)

Dry Goods Aisle
Lemon Pepper Pappardelle Pasta
Olive Oil (if you don't already have)

Veggie Section
Bag o' lemons
Two (2) bags o' sliced mushrooms
Fresh Chives
Bag o' your favorite lettuce

Cheese Section
Parmigiano Reggiano

Variations -- I like it plain and simple because I think the flavor of the pasta is best accented by the simplest of additions, so I suggest only one or two additions, but feel free to be creative according to your own tastes:
  • Grate Parmigiano Reggiano (from the CHEESE SECTION) -- on top when complete.
  • Add precooked sliced chicken (from REFRIGERATOR/PREPARED FOODS Section) -- throw into the sautee for the final couple of minutes to warm.
  • Add fresh or frozen shrimp (from the FROZEN FOOD SECTION) -- add frozen to sautee at the beginning, fresh after a minute or two.
  • Add asparagus, sliced zucchini or anything you love in the VEGGIE SECTION
  • Add artichoke hearts (from the CANNED FOOD SECTION)
What to do -- In about 10 minutes and you'll have a lovely light springy meal! You might think it's way too simple to be delicious. You will be amazed how the simplest combination of fresh ingredients can excite your taste buds the most!
  1. Walk in the kitchen!
  2. Get a pot of water boiling.
  3. Add salt and a dash of olive oil to the water.
  4. While it comes to a boil...Get out a sautee pan and turn on the heat.
  5. Add olive oil.
  6. When oil is warm, add mushrooms and sautee.
  7. Add juice from 1/2 lemon and salt to taste.
  8. When the water is boiling, add pasta. (NOTE:The package says it takes 8 to 10 minutes, but if the water is at a rolling boil I find it only takes 5 minutes.)
  9. Chop the chives.
  10. Put the lettuce in a bowl, put some large gratings of Parmigiano Reggiano - even thin slices are good. You just want to give it some texture.
  11. Squeeze 1/2 lemon, drizzle some olive oil on the salad. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  12. Drain pasta. Toss in a bowl with the mushrooms and fresh chives. Add some grated Parmigiano Reggiano on top, if you wish.
Have a Lazy Lemony Yum-fest!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Lazy Belly Dancing

For a while I was addicted to working out to Beyonce's latest album, and I particularly liked doing crunches to the song "All the Single Ladies." I now know the lyrics she accidentally dropped off of the chorus to this song:

All the single ladies, all the single ladies
All the single ladies, all the single ladies
All the single ladies, all the single ladies
All the single ladies,
Don't you belly dance!
Oh my god, it is hard to be single and belly dancing. It's very sensual, it turns out, even when you suck at it. Tonight, we were finally doing something where I didn't suck as profoundly as normal and it was quite erotic in feel. Must o' opened up some o' dem chakras tonight!
There are so many things I like about belly dancing, which is utterly surprising to me, because actually I don't like to watch belly dancing. It's embarassing somehow. But, I do a lot of male type working out and was looking for something to make me feel more feminine. Belly dancing is definitely opening up the feminine side of me.
As a beginning belly dancer, you are completely focused on getting it right. You don't have time to look at the people around you, so you feel absolutely no sense of competition in the room. Luckily, the advanced class comes in after us, and like our beginner class, the class is full of all different shapes and size, and we get to watch them really go for it. The most heart-warming thing about belly dancing is that it is absolutely a fact that the skinniest women -- no matter how good they are -- simply don't look as good doing it as the heavier women. And, the heaviest women are just so elegant and lovely, and look to be absolutely "in their skin" and loving their bodies when they are belly dancing. It's womankind at her very best. I'm glad I tried belly dancing even if only for this lovely glimpse at my sisters at a moment of truly loving their bodies, their curves, and the way they just get to move as only women can.
I'm off to go practice my tap now. As much joy as that brings to my heart and body, it somehow does not prove to be a turn on! Phew! Later I shall pray that the man I'm going to be going on a date with this weekend turns out to be the one, so I can continue belly dancing. But, for now the lyrics are:
All the single ladies, all the single ladies
All the single ladies, all the single ladies
All the single ladies, all the single ladies
All the single ladies,
Get your taps on!