Archives for posts with tag: holidays

Tonight I could be found on my living room floor, hair slicked back to my head in dye (from a box, I’m not proud), rummaging wildly though the cutesy storage boxes I’ve had for years but never bother to go through.

I was on a savage hunt. For a recipe. Not just any recipe, mind you, but THE recipe. My cousin Marco’s meatball recipe.

It might seem strange that a vegetarian would be wildly scouring her apartment for a meatball recipe. It IS strange, but this holiday season has been different. I’m usually more of a “meh, humbug” kind of gal when it comes to Christmas, but this year I let myself get swept up by the season. It’s been pretty fun. The boyfriend and I put up a tree. We hung stockings. We chased each other around with various annoying Christmas melodies (his weapon of choice was Aaron Neville; I preferred “Dominic the Donkey”).

One of the by-products of “Christmas cheer” for me has been Christmas nostalgia. Not melancholy, really, just thinking back to the times and people that made holidays in the past memorable. Mostly the people.

Aforementioned cousin Marco loved the holidays. Easter was his favorite, but in the weeks leading up to Christmas, he’d embark upon a baking and cooking frenzy. Every recipe had a story, and I spent countless hours with him in the kitchen – his “helper” (I use the term loosely as my cooking skills were still in their nascency). Basically, I’d pour the wine, measure out spices, try not to break the eggs, and made sure his Whitney Houston remixes kept going. And of course, listen to the stories.

So this Christmas, as I wrapped gifts and hung ornaments and tried to decide which cookies to make, my thoughts turned to Marco. He crossed over to the Big Disco in the Sky several years ago. I imagine him debating recipes with Julia Child (and cursing her in Italian when they disagree), and sliding, always so gracefully, across a flashing dance floor with Cher thumping through the heavenly speakers.

I digress.

While rummaging through my old files and boxes for THE recipe, I stumbled upon an assortment of artifacts from my own life. Forgotten maps, old love letters, things I had picked up in my various travels and on long-ago adventures. Cards from my parents. Maps of Iceland. An empty tin of Italian cigarettes. The photos of William S. Burroughs and Tom Waits I had hanging in my college dorm room. And the journals. Every trip I’ve ever taken has been carefully documented. Napkins and train ticket stubs are taped to pages filled with the stories of my life.

I didn’t find the damn recipe.

I did find myself overcome with gratitude. It’s easy to get caught up in the daily ebbs and flows of life and forget the bigger picture. The people, and places, and experiences that have shaped us into who we are. The people…

I like to think that celestial Marco led me on this little goose chase for the meatballs. He led an interesting, robust life. Telling me those stories in his kitchen in Manhattan made me realize I wanted fascinating stories to tell, one day. And now I do.

Happy holidays, everyone! Don’t forget to tell the people you love that you love them. Don’t forget to appreciate all the stillness, or the wildness, that has shaped you. Don’t forget to remember your own story. I bet it’s a good one.



The past week has been so crazy with holiday stuff and work travel, all of my smug wellness efforts have fallen to the wayside. Green smoothies? Haha! Kale salads? Nope! Raw until dinner? Not unless French fries are now considered a raw food! 

I have really been trying to stay as healthy as I can, but demands on my times have forced me to pare back to the ultimate bare minimum.  In the absence of time and access to groceries/kitchen, here’s what I’ve been doing to cling to some semblance of sanity:

Water! Drinking plenty of water is pretty easy, and honestly, sometimes it is the only healthy thing I can do in a day. It’s what holds me back from a complete slide into “I’m officially Jabba the Hut” self-loathing.

Yoga! Even if it’s just a couple of sun salutations, I try to squeeze in even the tiniest bit of yoga each day.  Lately, I’ve been teaching Restorative Yoga, and let me tell you: That sh!t is NO JOKE! Legs-up-the-wall pose! Have you tried that? Do it! Do it right now! Find a wall, face it, and sit like 6 – 10 inches away from it.  Gently lay yourself back and straighten your legs, sending your feet up the wall. That’s it. Stay there for three to five minutes. Get up. Dance away like Bob damn Fosse because you feel SO REFRESHED! 

Breathing! Yes, I realize this is involuntary but doing full yogic breathing isn’t.  At least for me, it’s not yet.  Periodically during the day, though, I try to check in with myself: Am I doing wimpy little chest breathing? (Yes, usually the answer is yes here.) If I am, I forced myself to take some full, deep breaths.  Sometimes I even go back to pranayama 101 and put a hand on my abdomen to make sure. No cheating!!

So that’s my little arsenal of tricks! I’m thrilled to report that, so far, I have been arrested zero times in spite of the sometimes homicidal rage that the “not enough sleep + crappy food + unrelenting stress” cocktail induces.

Happy friggin’ holidays! 

With the holidays fast approaching, I’m doing what I can to eat as “clean” as humanly possible.  See, I realize the caloric onslaught will be unavoidable (technically, I could avoid it, but that’s not any fun), so I’m doing what I can to minimize the damage.  One of my stop-gap measures has been having a green smoothie for breakfast.  It’s cheap, it’s pretty quick, and by God it feels healthy going down.

I normally prepare my smoothie shortly before I leave for work, after my boyfriend has already left.  Last week though, I had to be in early so I was in the kitchen blending away when my boyfriend was leaving.  He peered at the blender, a look of unmasked disgust across his face.  I was happily shoving another handful of spinach into the frothy green concoction.

“You know,” he remarked, “this process usually takes place inside the body.  It’s called mastication and digestion.”

“You know,” I calmly replied, “this process (gesturing to my blender) usually takes place when you’re already at work, so I don’t have to hear commentary from the peanut gallery.”

Zing! Hee-hee!

There are a million different green smoothie recipes out there. Mine is the down and dirty, cheap as sh!t version.  I can’t always afford to buy organic produce, so I’ve pared this down to ingredients I can reliably find for a reasonable price.

Handful or two of spinach

If you have it, maybe a little kale although romaine is a little more palatable

Two apples, cored and chopped.

One banana, cut into pieces.

Extras: juice of half a lemon, a stalk of celery, a pear if I feel fancy.

I chuck these into my blender a bit at a time with a good amount of water, and blend the crap out of them until it’s like a green milkshake.

Then I drink it.  Allllll of it.  It tastes pretty good, in spite of my boyfriend’s snarky comments (he won’t even try it, so what does he know!). The trick is to really blend it well.  If you have a Vitamixer: USE IT, fancy-pants!

Let’s raise a glass of green goodness to our health, happiness, and ability to zip our jeansgreen without pliers and prayer come January!