My family versus the volcano


The headache starts first, followed immediately by an overwhelming urge to snap at anyone who talks to me. I feel irritable and annoyed without knowing why. I am put out if I have to answer even the most simple, basic question. It is all I can do to not throw a giant tantrum at the horror and injustice of having to speak. Then, if enough time passes, I start to actually feel hungry.

I don't know what it is, but I feel the irritation first and the hunger second. Am I alone in that?

My kids have learned to recognize it and McKay will often say, "Mom, do you need to eat something?"

The Husband will warn everyone that, "Mom is hangry. Better watch out."

Usually the word "hangry" prompts them all to either clear out and head for high ground or offer the beast some food.

It's like I'm an insatiable volcano - and they fear for their village if they don't offer some sort of sacrifice. Pretty much anything will work. As long as it's food. Or diet coke. Or both.

The Hangry? It feels sort of like the uncontrollable pregnancy hormones (though, um, no. Not what's causing it. I am not now, nor will I ever be again, thankyouverymuch). But it's like the Hangry is raging a war, and I am the vessel with which it attacks. I can no sooner control it than I can part the Red Sea.

Seriously, girlfriend has tried. (Tried controlling it. Not parting the Red Sea. Though it would be awesome if I could, right?)

Best thing to do is just not be hungry. Snack, drink lots of water, and stay on top of the beast.

Anyone else get the Hangry? Please say I am not alone in this?


Eating our way through Beantown

Our trip to Boston was a return to what had once been our home. It was the place our family went from four to five. It was where we bought our first home, and lovingly furnished each tiny room with care. We have many cherished memories, each tucked away in the file cabinets of our hearts.

Eh, who are we kidding?

It was the place where I discovered this store:


Which sells the likes of these:


That alone is reason enough to visit.

I literally ate my way through Boston on this trip (and have the pounds on the scale to prove it). All the places I wanted to be sure and hit were restaurants and/or bakeries. Any historical landmarks or cultural exhibits were merely a secondary consideration.

We were there to eat, baby.

While walking through the North End with a box (and a belly) full of cannolis from the famous Mike's Pastry Shop, the heat became a little too much for Miss Hannah. We had been walking the Freedom Trail for what seemed like an eternity, and she had reached her breaking point.

When Josh spied a pedicab on the street, he wisely put his two girls in it - opting to walk back to the hotel with the boys, who immediately began complaining vigorously at the injustice of it all.

Eyeballing the rather slender form of our pedicab driver, the following conversation took place:

Me: Are you sure I'm not too heavy for this thing?

Him: Nah. Are you underestimating these thighs?

Me: No. I think you are underestimating these thighs.

Him: Yeah, that box of cannolis can really weigh you down.

Me: You have no idea.

But he huffed and he puffed, and got us back to our hotel without collapsing or needing to call an ambulance.

Though I am pretty sure that any more days there and I would have needed one myself.

Food heaven, food coma, food baby.


I am three days sober. Pass me a celebratory donut, will you?

Hi. My name is Christie, and I am a food-a-holic.

Hi, Christie.

(That was your line, by the way)

I have spent the better part of the last six months indulging my inner she-devil. You know the one. The one that convinces you it will be okay to make just one more batch of cookies. Or brownies. Or an 8,000-calorie coconut cake, for that matter.

I have also given her full reign over the restaurant menus and ordered things that were decidedly not green. Things that were chock-full of delicious carbs and fat. Things that were served with a side order of french fries. Buried under a mound of cheese. Topped with a half-gallon of sauce. Smothered in sugar and ice cream. Deep fried and wrapped in a chocolate burrito.

You get the point.

She has been my long-time companion, sitting idly on my shoulder, shouting out her temptations. And, true to form, that devilish fiend was nowhere to be found one morning when I questioned her judgement after not being able to button up my favorite jeans. She's such a fair weather companion, that one. Always ready to help me pile on the pounds; not around to take any of the blame.

So, I boldly stared at my chubby face in the mirror, and said ENOUGH.

And that was three days ago.

With three days under my belt, I can now remember that it feels good to eat well. I find myself much more able to crawl out of bed in the morning to face life (and the scale) when I'm eating healthy. I have more energy. I feel prettier. And let's face it: I'm a nicer wife and mom.

I know that I am a food addict. I crave the bad food. I dream about it. I experience a rush of pleasure every time I indulge myself in it. And, sadly, when the rush ends and all that remains is a belly ache, I feel the guilt. I feel sick. I hate myself. I have battled this demon most of my life and know how the cycle plays itself out. And still, knowing that never seems to make it any easier. It's just hard.

When your penchant runs to food, you can't eliminate the addiction from your life. You have to manage it, reason with it, and keep it in bounds. It's hard to abstain when you have to eat a little of your drug of choice every day to survive. When you have to prepare it for others.

So I'm taking it one day at a time (and sometimes, one hour at a time). I'm determined to do this. I'm going to get this beast back in her cage before the real demon rears its ugly head: HALLOWEEN CANDY BARS.

Lord give me strength.

"Ugh, I think I can actually hear you getting fatter"

[Anyone know the classic movie where that line comes from? I do. And every time I watch it, it makes me laugh so hard a little pee comes out.]

To say the scale has not been my friend the last few days would be a bit of an understatement.

That damn thing hasn't been my friend for a good two weeks.

It really isn't shocking or unexpected. There have been more than a few rounds of cookie dough. There have been cakes and pans of brownies. There have been endless bowls of my fabulous homemade guacamole (a recipe which I really ought to share with you one of these days). And I'm not sure, but I think I may or may not have eaten 1,873 pounds of M&Ms.

I am feeling it and I am not happy with that feeling. To make matters worse, we leave in three days for a little vacay in Hawaii wherein I was planning on looking seductive and trampy on the beach. Not lumpy and fat on the beach.

But, I've not lost heart. I am going to give the next three days my best effort and see if I can drop a pound or two.

Failing that, I'll just drown my sorrows in a super-sized tub of cookie dough, buy a muu-muu, and tell my trainer it wasn't my fault when I get back.

Sound good?

Shut up.

God bless the Italian people

If you are ever fortunate enough to visit Boston, be sure and stop in at Mike's Pastry on Hanover Street in the North End. On a Friday or Saturday night, the small pastry shop will be wall-to-wall people. There is no line to stand in, as the clerks there will attest.

Unfortunately, most of the people who go there don't know that. You must boldly push your way through the crowd, shout out your order to a sales clerk behind the counter, and happily ignore the dirty looks when you walk out with your white box tied up in blue string.

All the hassle will be worth it, of this you must trust me. For nowhere else will you find a better cannoli than at Mike's.

Now imagine my delight, when my favorite UPS man (I know, I really must stop referencing that awful story) rang my bell for a package delivery today, and I spied THIS on the outside of the box:

Only good things can come from that box. VERY good things.

And imagine my further delight when I opened up that box to find this:

And this:
The card inside was unsigned, but I suspect the giver of such a fine gift was none other than Christina. Am I right? Was it you?

Christina, who was my best friend growing up, moved to Boston several years ago. It was unfortunate that we had lost touch over the years because we were both living there at the same time and didn't know it. How I would have loved to share one of these with her in person, right there on the street.

Because who can wait until they get to the car to eat something from Mike's?

But today, I will proudly eat one here in my kitchen, raise my cannoli high, and toast to good friends like her.

Oh, and when the Husband comes home tonight, sees the empty box with the Mike's logo on the outside, I'll be sure and tell him it was a recycled box that somebody used to send us, um...well...oatmeal. Yeah, that's it. Oatmeal. Someone sent us oatmeal in a Mike's box. Wasn't that nice?

Definitely not cannolis. And definitely not cannolis that were all eaten by me, right?

Thanks, friend. Love you forever!

Food, glorious, food

Last night, the Husband's company had a little dinner party at the Kitchen Conservatory. We've done this with his firm before, and it was really a lot of fun.

The concept is this: You show up as a group, and with the guidance of two executive chefs from local restaurants, learn to cook your own gourmet meal. Then, once your gourmet meal is complete, you sit down together and eat the delicious food prepared by your own hands.

As I have demonstrated in the past, I lack somewhat in the cooking area. Not the baking area. I rock the baking area like nobody's business. But the cooking area? Not so much.

So, I made it my mission last night to extract every ounce of cooking knowledge I could from our chef. I followed him around like a puppy, observing everything he did. To his credit, he was very patient with my seemingly endless list of questions, and I learned a great deal. Like, did you know that you can make your own ravioli from scratch?

I know. I always thought it just came in a frozen package from the store.

Last night, as I was devouring our butternut squash/mushroom/duck ravioli, I saw the call for greater things from my kitchen.

And, as I am always so kind and thoughtful, I thought I'd teach you some of the basics I learned last night. Because if one has to start somewhere, it should always be at the beginning.

Like, for example, this is not food:
And this IS food:
Once again, not food:

I know, right?

This one may offend several mothers out there, but this is definitely NOT food:

And this scary looking creature IS food:And finally, not a family meal:

['What?' says my inner Stie, her voice incredulous. I know, I know. But it's true. I think there is actually very little food in anything on that menu.]

Instead, I want to opt for one like this, prepared lovingly by hand from fresh ingredients, topped off with a prayer of thanks for the bounty before me:
If only.

Oh, yeah, and one thing I forgot. My chef did admit that everything in a restaurant tastes so good because it is really chock full of this:

Any questions?