Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Lazy = Making Choices that Work for YOU!

Often when I tell people I co-wrote "The Lazy Woman's Guide..." they say "you are NOT lazy you DO so much!" In our book we address this - LAZY is not about being a sloth and stopping life, it's about making priorities that create less stress and more joy. So, what does that mean at the holidays? It depends...

For me what that meant at Thanksgiving was to first give up expectations of what it should look like. When the Haiti disaster occurred I decided I wanted to do relief work the week of Thanksgiving. But a few months ago it became clear that might not be good timing. So then I signed up to go back to New Orleans and work with Habitat for Humanity. They still need so much help and have been all but forgotten. But because of Thanksgiving I found out their holiday schedule only had people working two days that week, so I realized fairly late that I should stay home and create a wonderful Thanksgiving for friends and family. Once that was decided I got very excited about doing the best Thanksgiving ever!

So, we got our guest list together and worried about people getting along. I decided to drop every expectation about how people would behave, react, interract. And, I kept dropping the expectations -- it doesn't happen just once, it's an active exercise. And I have to say it was one of my favorite Thanksgivings ever because the "chemistry" was perfect. It was joyful and stress-free.

How else was I lazy this season? I decided I felt like cooking for days! Seriously I was in the mood to cook and I wanted to make it the most amazing meal, decorate the most amazing table, and just cook up a storm. So, here's how it all got done -- the LAZY way ... step by step, a little bit each day so each day was relaxing and fun:

Saturday before ThanksgivingDesign the menu...

Cocktail Hour
· Pomegranate Champagne Punch
· Blue Cheese & Fig Crostini
· Pesto & Radish Crostini
· Artichoke & Olive Crostini
· Pomegranate Turkey (this was Aaron's Baby)
· Sourdough Wild Mushroom Sage Stuffing
· Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Fried Sage
· Apricot Pecan Sweet Potatoes
· Green Beans with Lemon, Butter & Herbs
· Lemon Smashed Potatoes
· Cranberry Sauce (this was my Mom's Baby)

· Pumpkin Cheesecake
· Pumpkin Pie (this was my Mom's Baby)
· Chocolate Apricot Tart
· Pumpkin Ice Cream (this ended up being the HIT of the dessert menu and it was easy!)

Sunday before Thanksgiving· Design the table and buffet table (you can see on photo above that I put post-its on the serving dishes to make sure everything is covered)
· Print out all the recipes
· Make shopping list for every single item on the menu - broken down into sections of the store -- Fruits/Veggies, Dairy, Dry Goods, etc.

Monday before Thanksgiving· Buy flowers
· Start setting the table (so that if what is in your mind's eye doesn't work in reality it can be tweaked)
· Buy new tablecloth (Because I was collaborating with Aaron, this meant adjusting the design in my head to accommodate his wishes, i.e., for a white tablecloth)

Tuesday before Thanksgiving
· All Grocery Shopping
· Buy flowers, candles and any other decorative items needed
· Make Pumpkin Cheesecake and ice cream custard
· Finish setting table to see if anything missing
· Prep sourdough bread for stuffing
· Prep bread for Crostini
· Tape recipes to kitchen cabinets -- as recipes are completed they get thrown away but a great way to keep them in eye’s view and not get them messed up with food drippings!

Wednesday before Thanksgiving
· Make Chocolate Apricot Tart
· Final step of ice cream – put custard in ice cream maker so it can set overnight
· Make Mushroom/Herb sautee for Stuffing
· Clean potatoes and sweet potatoes
· Take brussel sprouts off stalk and clean
· Make pesto for crostini hors d’oeuvres
Thanksgiving Day
· Final prep on all the food – but with so much having been done over last few days it’s pretty stress-free in the kitchen. And, there’s even plenty of time for me to go to the gym and pre-work it all off!
· Make gravy impromptu with drippings right before serving – add stock mixed with cornstarch to thicken
It looked good. It tasted good. But, most important -- it was FUN to do and LAZY!!!! But it was LAZY for me because this was my CHOICE this year -- to cook up a storm and entertain. You need to make choices that fill your heart and soul. Some years that might mean make it a potluck, another year it might mean go to a restaurant, or yet another might mean go out of town....it's your CHOICE. Once you make the choice that gives you the most JOY make sure you do it so you have the least amount of stress by taking care of yourself and everyone around you....planning is my de-stressor and doing a little bit every day. Do what is LAZY for you!
Happy Lazy Holidays to YOU!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Lazy Thanksgiving

For most people, the holidays are stressful for a myriad of reasons most of which have at least something to do with our expectations of what the holidays SHOULD look like. For Thanksgiving there is the Norman Rockwell, Martha Stewart, Gourmet Magazine (let's just pretend it's still around because I still can't quite admit it's gone), Food Network, HGTV glossy happy picture of the perfect holiday that begs to be mimicked.

There are lots of things you can do to relieve the stress: potluck, order certain parts of the meal, give assignments to family members, etc. But, the biggest stress reliever you can give yourself is literally letting go of the pictures in your mind of what it SHOULD be.

If you really have trouble letting go of the pictures, sit down with a stack of magazines and make a collage of what you think the perfect Thanksgiving should look. Don't take a long time with this -- just rip the pictures out and shove them onto a piece of paper or cardboard, glue them on sloppily...it's not about creating art it's about taking the picture out of your head and putting it into a 3 dimensional reality. You may get emotional, you may not. You may see very quickly the ridiculousness of it all. You may want to let it sink in for a few days.

When you are ready to let it go, and you have a safe place to do this -- maybe the backyard barbecue, you can burn it. Or bury it, or rip it up.

The point is that acknowledging that which you EXPECT is the first step to letting it go. The best way to go through the holidays is without expectations, letting it be what it is, and focusing on the love. What brings people together on the holidays -- even if you think it buried and dusty and unrecognizable -- is love. Drop the expectations and let the love carry you through because the pictures you create out of love are your very own. No one else on the planet has your exact pictures. They are real and rich. They aren't airbrushed and there aren't teams of people to support them: they just are what they are.

So, let the expectations go. Expect nothing -- even the negative stuff (overindulging, bickering, etc.) -- and you might have the biggest holiday surprise of your life and some very cool pictures.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Lazy Shoes

I waited a couple months to report on these...I wanted to put a lot o' miles on them before I gave you my Lazy Woman opinion. Here it is KIGO shoes ROCK!

My pilates teacher who is a runner turned me on to these shoes. They are barefoot running shoes - inspired by the theory discussed in the book "Born to Run" which extols the virtues of running without running shoes, without arch support, etc.

Well I chose to stop running a couple years ago but I do work out -- elliptical or stairmaster -- every day. I also walk my dogs for a half hour every day. And, even more gratifying, I travel a lot and my greatest pleasure when I travel is walking...and walking...and walking and walking, exploring cities and countryside on foot.

Well these shoes are utterly spectacular for all of it! And the best news is that at the end of the day when my body is exhausted from climbing, running around, walking endlessly, etc. my feet are delightfully happy!

When I was in Paris last month, I had a very long day. I was booked back to back and running or walking quickly was actually the most expedient way to get between appointments. I was walking mostly in neighborhoods with cobblestone streets. My day ended climbing the endless stairs in Montmartre...up and down and up and down. I was literally walking for hours this day. And, at the end of the day my feet were buzzing with life but not in any shape or form even slightly aching as they normally would be with any other shoe -- even the most expensive running shoe, which is also far less attractive than these Mary Jane styled "running" shoes.

And they only weigh about 5 ounces which makes them the absolutely perfect travel companion. I rarely check bags and the most annoying thing to pack for me has always been my workout shoes...until now!

They are unbelievably reasonably priced. The last pair ofworkout shoes I bought were $120. These are just a little more than 1/2 of that -- with shipping. And, they got to me very quickly too.

My pilates teacher also reminded me recently that you can usually find coupons for these shoes if you google "kigo coupon." I forgot about her suggestion but they were still incredibly reasonably priced.

I can't say enough good things about these shoes but the last two things I'll say -- they dry very quickly and are actually comfortable even when it's pouring rain and they are totally wet. Never a single blister either. And I haven't had to wash them yet but you just wipe them down or wash in plain water. Easy. Lazy. Shoes.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Lazy Denver Tip - Altitude Schmaltitude

The only other times I've been in Denver were only at the airport changing planes. It's a LOVELY city! But it is a mile high. One time I had to run through the Denver airport -- from literally one end to the other -- which is a very long way. I was sprinting to make a connecting flight and I was running out of breath. Once I arrived at the gate where I watched the plane pull away from the terminal, it took me about 20 minutes to get my breath back. I was wondering what the hell was going on. I called my dad and was telling him about it and he said "it's the altitude!" ...I had forgotten the whole mile high thing!

So I prepared myself by googling the altitude dealie and found a recommendation that you drink tons of water. In the elevator tonight I heard two other hotel guests talking about the same thing! And complaining, as I am, that you spend half your day with your local toilet. Well, I actually think it really is helping. I worked out at full throttle -- actually harder than I sometimes do because I kicked it up a notch tonight -- two notches actually on the elliptical) -- and literally felt fantastic afterward. I went out into the crisp very cold night and walked for a while after my workout. I was feeling great. Then I decided to take the stairs to my room since it's only on the second floor! And, wouldn't you know that I got winded.

But, I still feel fantastic...water, water, water, pee, pee, pee.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Trader Joe's Tuesday -- Lower Your Cholesterol with Joey!

Aaron's doctor recently prescribed cholesterol medicine for him. His cholesterol is only 245 -- not low, but as a doctor friend said, not worthy of cholesterol meds, particularly given his good cholesterol and other numbers. But it made me go back and look at my cholesterol numbers over the last several years and they've been steadily creeping up.

So, I am joining Aaron is his cholesterol lowering efforts. We're definitely eating less cheese. I'm realizing that just a little cheese goes a long way -- like my new favorite thing is a crunchy baked potato with NO BUTTER but one tablespoon of the soft goat cheese from Trader Joe's -- it's less calories than I eat when I add more than a tablespoon of butter, less cholesterol, and a lot more flavor. I just discovered this last night and oh my god can't wait to have another Goatato! LOL!

But, the reason I particularly love Trader Joe's today is they have so many oatmeal options. My favorites are the quick cooking old fashioned oats AND the quick cooking steel cut oats. I don't like instant. I like the ritual of cooking it in a little tiny pot every morning. And now that we are moving into cool weather it is particularly deliciosa. Today I had the steel cut and there is nothing to beat that crunch.

Recently, my friend's uncle gave me a little bottle of his homemade grape jelly gone wrong -- it was the one jar that had not quite "jelled" so it was more like syrup. One morning I thought I'd put a teaspoon of it in my oatmeal and oh was that wonderful. His "syrup/jam" is on the tart side which is what I prefer. But, I thought I'd bring up this inspiration just in case you aren't into the usual suspects for adding into your oatmeal -- like brown sugar, maple syrup, raisins, etc. You can try a fruity syrup to entice yourself to eat it. I often add toasted almonds too for a little added texture.

In London there's a place that serves "porridge" to go that I always use for my business breakfasts on the go. They put a little handful of granola on top of it.

So, if you have high cholesterol and oatmeal has left a bad taste in your mouth in the past, just try adding a few of your "favorite things..."

Yummy Healthy to you!

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Stop the Madness!

My father passed away over a year ago...and I told myself that once I hit the one year mark I'd stop the madness. What madness? The "it's ok Bridget, you've experienced a great loss so you can essentially eat anything you feel like eating!" madness. So, I've been counting calories and making sure my input is less than my input.

I work out every day so exercise isn't an issue but I also realized a couple weeks ago that I am just never sore anymore, so I kicked it up a notch at the gym, with the specific goal that I be sore after every work out! That means it's working. Muscles are tearing and repairing. And, I'm adding more weight lifting because I've slacked a little on that, and it's good for the ol' lady bones too!

But, back to the madness. I was out running a bijillion errands this evening and I really really wanted something sweet. I had to stop at McDonalds to get a bunch of gift certificates for someone who looooooooooooves McDonalds. It's hard to walk into McDonalds when you have a sweet tooth. But, I remembered hearing that their ice cream cones are low in calories. Well, I confirmed post-indulging that the very excellent news is that it is, indeed, only 150 calories! I know it's not the healthiest thing I could eat, but you know there are worse things and I have to say it is supremely satisfying -- very good vanilla flavor, not sickly sweet, and the cone is super crunchy yummy.

And, then to make it a little more shameful, it only costs about 1/2 a penny for each calorie because this yummy little treat only puts you out 76 cents (69 cents + tax). You can't even park for 75 cents any more!

So, today I enjoyed stopping the madness. Good times, good times.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Five & Dime Fridays -- Mushrooms

The other day I was in the mood for mushrooms, and I had this idea while i was driving that I'd like to have that grilled flavor in my pasta...specifically grilled portobello mushrooms. There's something about the flavor of grilled -- slightly burned -- portobello mushrooms. So I ran to the store and got these yummies.
  1. Package of two large Portobello Mushrooms
  2. Package of Sliced Mushrooms
  3. Package of Pasta (I used spaghetti because it's my new obsession but whatever floats your boat)
  4. Garlic
  5. Lemon

So if you're gonna make this happen in 10 minutes, it'll only work if you have a gas grill or George Foreman grill....and follow this sequence:

  1. Put a pot of salted water on to boil.
  2. Turn on the grill and close the cover to get the heat going.
  3. Brush the portobello mushrooms lightly with olive oil and throw them on the heated grill.
  4. Chop garlic and throw in a pan with a little olive oil, and sautee til lightly browned.
  5. Hopefully the water is boiling --- and you can add the pasta!
  6. Add sliced mushrooms to the garlic.
  7. Run out to the grill and flip the portobellos if they are ready. I atually get them a little charred to add that meaty flavor.
  8. Check on your stove top items -- pasta and sauteed mushrooms.
  9. When portobellos are done, slice them up nicely and throw in with mushrooms in the pan.
  10. When pasta is done, drain and add zest of a lemon, juice of a lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper.
  11. Optional Added Yummies: Chopped Flat Parsley and/or Grated Parmesan

Buon Appetito!