Thursday, September 26, 2013

Why I Love the Fall....

The colors are amazing....




I adore fall jackets and shoes....

Oscar de la Renta


Halloween is alot of fun...

History of the Jack-O-Lantern

Fall movies.....




 Fall books....





And you thought it was  because the children go back to school....



Well maybe a little....






Elise

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Book Review: Women in Bed by Jessica Keener

Listing in Goodreads

Women in Bed is an elegantly written, thought provoking book by author Jessica Keener. It is an anthology of nine short stories that follows the emotional twists and turns that women face. From having to deal with  lost loves, family pain, suicides and even child abuse we see how women come to terms with life and its vagaries. Ultimately it is the understanding that despite the hurt, heartache and a disconcerted existence, what human beings seek is actual connections to one another. It is simple and unadorned. The author invokes the reality that what people need are answers to the question of their humanity as they continually strive for that ethereal concept of happiness.

I highly recommend this book, especially if you are in a book club. This is not a group of tales you want to read alone. It is something to be shared, discussed and mulled over continually. It is a mirror to our world, as we women think beyond ourselves, trying to bring meaning, especially the part that causes pain,  to the world in which we live.



Elise


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Not Stuffing Your Face Full of Crap Does Lead to Weight Loss

Over the last few years I have put on weight. And no I have no idea how much. There is no way you are getting me on a scale. Over the last years I told myself all kinds of tales of woe that I was entitled to that cookie or that piece of chocolate. I brought into the house all manner of garbage to eat. Chips, cakes, cookies, white bread, fatty meats. If it clogged your arteries we were eating it. We were all too heavy and it showed up in our bloodwork as well.

Then one day I realized it was time to do something about it. Not sure when that happened. I think I just decided it was time to stop blaming events all around me and retake charge of my life. I knew the boys needed to lose weight. Hubby certainly did. I couldn't stand looking at myself in the mirror.

So I found a nutritionist I liked, and went about fixing everyone's diet. Organic became a very important word in our house. Trying to dilute the number of preservatives and pesticides in our diet has helped dramatically. And yes, I try to by organic meats, fish and chicken as much as possible. But remember, organic does not mean low in fact. it  merely means free of chemicals and antibiotics. Also something that is low in fat is full of sugar. So be careful. Low-fat doesn't necessarily mean healthier or less calories either. Try eating the real thing just a small portion. What I call "European" as opposed to "American" portions.

I have noticed a difference in how I feel and even the effect it has on the boys. I think everyone is better off. I know studies show that there is no quantifiable difference in health for people that eat organic verses those that eat typical foods, but its simply my opinion that the less chemicals you put into your body the better off you happen to be.

Meanwhile here is the things we tend to eat in the house (honestly the past few weeks we have been off our lifestyle/diet because of the Jewish holidays. But we are now springing back into action):


Women's Diet Network


We eat fish several times a week.
We eat chicken several times a week.
Red meat is eaten sparingly.
There is no carbohydrate at dinner. Dinner is protein and a vegetable.
Carbs are eaten earlier in the day. Yes there is the sandwich or even that small bowl of pasta (for the boys).
There is always fresh cut-up salad to eat if they get hungry in between meals.
Breakfast is egg whites or egg beaters. Fresh vegetables on the side and maybe some lowfat cheese.
There is alot of fruit in the house for in between meals.
Snacks are also weightwatchers or lean cuisine for the boys. (They afterall do need more calories than I do and at 300 calories a pop for  a weightwatchers its not bad for them.)
Chips are only baked.
We keep humus in the house too. Its a little high in calories but filled with alot of protein.
Fats are held to a minimum. A little olive oil when I cook and some butter. Nutritionists will tell you that margarine is one of the worst foods in the world. Either each butter sparingly or use no fat at all. (Good fats: olive oil, almonds, avocado)

Drinks are kept to water, one glass a day of chocolate milk (for the collegeman) and some Sodastream soda, but only one a day of that too. And yes, there is the glass of wine, maybe two for hubby and myself. (OK yes with the occasional margarita.)

Also don't forget to get your butt moving. We bought a really good cardio machine and we all use it every day. I also work with free weights. I have tapes that I follow and use the core exercises from my physical therapy. The boys go to a trainer. They need that rigidity and oversight.

******

Well now that its been about 6 months that we have been on the new diet I finally worked up my courage to try on my old jeans. I have not worn them for years. They have been sitting in my closet waiting for the day that I would fit my tuchas into them again. I thought it might work as I had just bought a new bra and even though it was the chest size from when I got heavier (when you put on weight you put it on everywhere and no its not always such a great thing for your boobs to grow) instead of it being tight I closed it on the middle back rung and the cups covered the entire breast (nothing sticking out or bunchy). It's not unusual for an older bra to be lose and comfy, its the new bra that lets you know if you have lost weight and are on diet track.

OK here I was, holding my breath. Praying that the jeans would fit or at least I could pull them up over my hips. First I put on my smaller panties that had been quite uncomfortable just a few months ago. They fit nicely and felt lovely (YEAH). Then I pulled up the jeans. They went right over my hips and they even closed (BIG YEAH). The legs are loose, and the hip feels just a little snug. I could pull them up higher over the hip, but still got that little poochy menopausal tummy of mine in the way. I even got bold enough to try on the corduroys that had been hiding in the closet too. They fit over the legs and I could button them up. But again its that tummy of mine. What is nice about the cords is that they are European and everyone knows that Europeans cut everything smaller...so another BIG YEAH.....

Now to the next level. So some more cardio, more situps and core work, heavier free weight (just went from a 3 pound to a 5 pound weight) cutting back on the carbs a little more and even bypassing that glass of wine several days a week.




I figure another ten pounds and these jeans are going to be loose and comfy like jeans are supposed to be. Hopefully those pounds will come off from the middle, where it is most needed. But I tell you I am very very very excited. Maybe then I can fit into my really good clothes that I haven't been able to wear for a decade....wouldn't that be nice too.


P.S. How bad was my weight?....Before I had accepted how bad my weight had actually gotten I couldn't fit into size 16 Gap jeans....my jeans and cords at home are size 12. SO YEAH.

*****

Funny I really thought that this was going to be hard. But it wasn't once I set my mind to it. The entire family joined in. The boys and hubby have lost weight too. We are working hard  at establishing a better lifestyle for everyone.

YEAH.

Elise


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

All Your Life You are Busy with Your Teeth




Nothing is more annoying or can be more painful than a tooth ache. It not only affects your mouth, but your ears, throat and head. Whenever anything goes just a little wrong with any tooth your entire world is turned upside down. It's not even the forced diet that is the issue, which in truth most of us of course are grateful for, until you get that hunger headache and your tummy starts to growl at least. The problem is that dull throbbing pain that drives you up a wall.

I can't even decide which bothers me more, my backpain or a tooth ache. Well OK, the backpain is rather debilitating at times, but so is any amount of a pain in the mouth. And at least with backpain if I move slowly, working the kinks out of the system, I can do what needs to be done. No, I can't run a marathon or breakdance anymore (honestly not sure why we thought breakdancing was cool in the first place, but we were young and kids are dumb), but I can exercise, clean the house (oh goody) and sit upright for an extended period of time.

Now with tooth pain that is something else entirely. My latest journey began last week when a crown fell out of my mouth. I was chewing a calcium gummy and I thought it had a rock in it. Rather annoyed when I took it out of my mouth. I had actually thought about sending the company one of those scathing letters...how dare you sell an inferior product yadayadayada....figured I would get a case of the calcium chews for free or something. No I didn't keep it, I simply threw the darn thing in the garbage and took another gummy. And yes I cut it up to make sure there was nothing amiss before popping it in my mouth.

As of this time, my mouth had not started to bother me, and I had not noticed that what I threw out was actually the crown from my back molar. Within a few hours however, I began to notice a rather odd sensation in my mouth and kinda put a finger in the back to check it out. Yep I realized at that time I had lost the crown. But it still didn't bother me. I merely ate on the other side of my mouth and called the dentist.

I figured this was an old crown from twenty years ago. It turned out, after my afternoon visit, that it was actually a year old crown from a root canal. The dentist insisted that the reason the crown fell out was because there was not enough tooth  left after the root canal for the crown to adhere to and offered to cut away some of the gum in order to help the crown stay in place. Can you imagine? That was a resounding NO FUCKING WAY. No, not in so many words, a little more gentile but not by much.

He then said we could try again and if it fell out, we would simply remove the tooth. Well I don't know what the future will hold for that (not particularly predisposed to removing my teeth) but at this moment I have a temporary crown on that molar. Day One.

Guess what, now we get another story entirely. It starts out that the temporary was not fit well. It fell out when I tried to dislodge some food that was caught underneath the ridge. So back to the dentist I went. Day Two.

Then after I had that replaced, it had not been polished properly and ended up cutting the cheek and the tongue.  (He completely forgot to do this step. Don't know why. He's been my dentist for twenty years and this never happened before. And no he is not going senile.) I went back the next day where the dentist smoothed it down and polished the ridges so it didn't cut into my mouth anymore, but it still doesn't fit right. While the tongue has healed, it still keeps catching the inside of my cheek. I also have a strain on my side of the throat and my ear is bothering me. No I am not getting and ear infection. Just had that in the opposite ear and just finished some kickass antibiotics. Day Three.

So here I go again back to the dentist to play with the temporary since its over two weeks before I get the permanent crown for the tooth. I am not going to be annoyed by this temporary. It was so bad hubby actually bought me anbesol so I could eat. (Love a good man.) You can bet I am going to make sure that this crown is fit properly and that it doesn't hurt nor bother my mouth any when its finalized. Day Four.

My grandmother used to say that your entire life you are busy with your teeth....from babyhood, through adolescence and then throughout adulthood, the teeth are a constant source of adgidah...but then again without them we would live on blender frapped food and how much fun is a Filet Mignon sucked through a straw? No comments on the merits of veganism...I am and will always be a carnivore.



Elise



Thursday, September 12, 2013

Moroccan Chicken Stew (My take)

Tunisian handpainted tangine from Williams-Sonoma


I have been experimenting with my slow-cooker and put a  little spin of my own on a recipe for Moroccan chicken stew. Normally of course, if you were going to be making this dish in a rather authentic manner, you would have to buy a tangine and place it buried in coals for the day to cook. Luckily the slow-cooker works just as well.









What you need for the recipe:

6 boneless and skinless chicken breasts (you can use bone in if you want)
oil (olive or canola)
1 cup apricots
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup pinenuts
1 large sweet onion (Vidalia)
1 cup carrots
cumin
salt
pepper
1 cup fresh garlic cloves
1 cup chicken stock (or water)


1. Put the slow cooker on brown, add oil.
2. Place chicken breasts in slow cooker to brown. Season with cumin, salt, pepper. Sear the sides of the chicken breast.
3. Add cut up onion, carrots, garlic, apricots, raisins and pinenuts.
4. Add about one cup of chicken stock (or water).

Put slow-cooker on low for 6 hours. The original recipe I had said to cook the chicken for 8-10 hours. So I cooked it for 8 hours and the chicken was a little dry. I recommend only 6 hours if your chicken breasts are fairly thin and without bone. Unfortunately this is going to be experimental on your part. It may also simply depend on your slow-cooker. Much like an oven you need to get used to your appliance.

Also the amount of fruit is directly dependent upon your level of sweetness. I started with a cup of each. You can add and subtract as you like. Remember though, carrots do add sweetness as well as does a sweet onion.

As far as the sauce is concerned, the liquid will accumulate over the hours. By the time the stew is done there is a pool of lovely broth at the bottom. It makes for a tasty garnish. You can add butter and flour to the drained off liquid if you are looking to make a thicker gravy.

Also spicing is up to you. I enjoy cumin and find it very authentic when cooking Middle Eastern dishes. Moroccan food is also characterized by Cinnamon, allspice, turmeric and saffron. None of these spices my family likes, so I tend to avoid them even if they are part of a recipe.

Now, much of Moroccan food is also known for its use of lemons. You can add some lemon juice to the stew at the beginning or use a sliced up lemon. However,  if you want to be truly authentic and you can find them, preserved lemons add a rather interesting and tangy taste to the stew. I chose to do without either form of lemon, again, because of my family's taste.

I hope you enjoy this take on an old favorite.


Elise


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Ralph Lauren's Soft Ricky and Clothes that Harken Back to Mother Russia

Truthfully, I am not a big fan of Ralph Lauren clothes.....in all honesty its because my tuchas is way too big to fit into any clothes he designs not because his designs aren't gorgeous. In keeping with that tradition, this Fall's collection of Russian inspired clothing is absolutely wonderful. You can watch videos of the runway show HERE and get inspired by the style guide HERE

Needlesstosay, as a handbag obsessed creature, I do love the Ricky Bag. In fact the newest incarnation, a soft coated leather with fly gussets, reminds me of the iconic Hermes Birkin.


Hermes Birkin the handbag of the "ladies who lunch"


Happily (for some at least) the soft Ricky doesn't cost anywhere near the Birkin's $10,000, but at $2500 its not exactly chump change either.

Blue seems to be one of the "colors" of the season.

The soft Ricky comes in over 15  colors, but my favorite is the purple...



This breathtaking purple does go well with Lauren's rich tapestry of old-world Russia inspired fall clothes. Actually, so does the deep-red version of the Ricky Bag. And yes, I really like that one too.


Ah, choices, choices, choices.....in my dreams at least.



Elise

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Shana Tova - Happy Jewish New Year 5774

Tonight begins the holiday of Rosh Hashana. It is the beginning of the ten day period called the Days of Awe, which culminates next week with the Yom Kippur fast.




May all innocents be inscribed in the Book of Life for a good year.

Shana Tova Umetuka....


Elise

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The #1 Song the Day I was Born, Happily It Wasn't "Rapey"

Yesterday on FaceBook I received an interesting poke. A friend had  accessed a fun app and wanted to know what was the #1 song on the day I was born. I didn't use the app, but I Googled the answer. Came up with Twist Again by Chubby Checker.





No, they don't write songs like that anymore. The recent Robin Thicke- Miley Cyrus porn fest proves that. Too bad. While there is fun, descent and happy music being produced in today's world, there is no reason for Thicke's blatant  "rapey" music.  (Here, Here, Here) Sadly that song is #1. Wonder what the children born on these days will think of our society when they Google (or what will be the future version of Google in twenty years) the top of the charts on the day they were born.

After all these decades of feminism and the women's rights movement, I have no idea why young women go along with this misogyny. It seems we forgot to teach our daughters self-empowerment as we pushed college, graduate school and Title IX. (Slut-feminism does not count as self-actualization. Being a whore is not about self-respect.) We forget to teach them that you do not have to put up with women-hatred in order to get a man. We have allowed an anything goes sense of culture where there should be rights, wrong, dignity and honor. Unfortunately, as we lurch forward in science and technology, our sense of morality continues to decline.



Elise