Another New Year…Another Chance at Full Catastrophe Living!

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year


With the advent of a new year comes a new chance to do some of the stuff that I did not get to do last year. 

As a wife, mother, grandmother and blogger, my plate is mostly full. I love it that way.

It seems that as exhausting as my days are, when all is said and done, I enjoy them. This is especially evident when I fall into my bed at night and am asleep almost before my head hits the pillow.

We are lucky to have a full house, which includes myself, my husband and three dogs. With our daughter and granddaughter living nearby, unexpected visits make my day.

I like to think, I live what Zorba the Greek referred to as a “full catastrophe life”!

“Catastrophe here does not mean disaster. Rather it means the poignant enormity of our life experience. It includes crises and disaster but also all the little things that go wrong and that add up. The phrase reminds us that life is always in flux, that everything we think is permanent is actually only temporary and constantly changing. This includes our ideas, our opinions, our relationships, our jobs, our possessions, our creations, our bodies, everything.”

via Spirituality & Practice: Book Excerpt: Full Catastrophe Living, by Jon Kabat-Zinn.


To me, life is full of great happinesses alongside its trials and sadnesses, the yin and yang of what makes up all our lives. I am grateful that my days are not permanent or frozen in time.

Although there are definitely wonderful moments I would seriously like to last longer than they do, I know they will not. Another shoe will eventually drop. Always knowing that all moments are fleeting, my camera is never too far from me so I can capture and freeze frame a scene from my personal movie.


Simply said, I love that every day is new and brings with it the expected and the unexpected. I love that each day has its own uniqueness. It makes me happy to know that when I go to sleep at night, the morning will dawn with a new sunrise and another opportunity to make a difference in the lives of those I love and those I come in contact with that day. My troubles of the past are one day farther away from me each and every morning. A wonderful thing!

Last week, over the New Year, I spent some time in my happy place, which is in Rhode Island. The spectacular views of the sunrises never cease to amaze me and make me smile. The ebb and flow of the tide makes me calm as does watching the ducks on their endless search for fish, along with the seagulls perched on the dock just waiting for a quick snack.


The holidays are over and life is fast returning to the routine.

I look forward to setting my sails and living the full catastrophe life of the New Year 2015…what about you?


Holidays and Indulgent Grandparents…

Grandparents and Gifts


The holidays are almost here and gifts will be pouring in from relatives to your children especially well meaning grandparents. It can quickly get overwhelming for you as parents and your kids. This is not a good feeling.

What if anything do you do to control the amount and type of gifts your kids receive at Christmas and Hanukah?

Let’s assume that most grandparents are well meaning even though you may think that sometimes they have lost their minds when it comes to gift giving.


If it is not too late, try to have a conversation with them about what your children would like for gifts and what actually might be some really great gifts. This is not always a comfortable conversation to have but if you sandwich your points between two positive comments, it can soften the discussion. You might begin a conversation by telling them how helpful they have been recently, being specific and then swing into the gift topic.

Always end discussions like this with another positive thought as it leaves the conversation with an upbeat feeling instead of a decree about how you are raising your children and what grandparents can and cannot give them as gifts. To me, it is a blessing to have a grandchild.

My motto here, is to be kind as you never know what kind of day your family members are dealing with…we all have our difficulties to negotiate each day.


Halloween Haul…What To Do With It?




The Switch Witch- what to do with Halloween candy

This is a post from my archives.

I wish the “Switch Witch” had been around when my kids were little.

Posted on October 29, 2011
As Halloween approaches there is always the dilemma of what to do with all the candy. Well, here is what I am going to do this year with my granddaughter’s haul complete with a “fairy witch’s tale”.

The Switch Witch is a nice way to “get rid” of the Halloween Haul.

  • Your child can eat some of his candy on Halloween night
  • Then lays out the rest for the Switch Witch before he/she goes to bed.
  • The Switch Witch makes rounds and takes the candy
    and leaves a new toy!

switch witch

What a great way to deal with the Halloween dilemma!

Any suggestions as to what the “Switch Witch” should do with the candy? I would love to read your comments?

How To Prepare Passover Seder Plate

Passover Seder Plate

Passover Seder Plate

This week marks the celebration of Passover. I learned about the celebration of Pesach in my Catholic school religion class many years ago when we were discussing the Last Supper during Holy Week.

Both celebrations were Seders.

What I never learned about was the significance of the Seder plate.

So when a friend of mine brought me a Seder plate from her trip to Israel, I decided to learn how to prepare a Seder plate:

  • Shankbone or neck of poultry, is a reminder of the “mighty arm of G-d” as the Bible describes it. It is also symbolic of the Paschal lamb offered as the Passover sacrifice in Temple days
  • Haroseth  a mixture of apples, nuts, wine and spices, is symbolic of the mortar the Jewish slaves made in their building for the Egyptians
  • Parsley a vegetable (parsley or potato is generally used), is dipped in salt water to represent tears.
  • Horseradish is a bitter vegetable (celery or lettuce can be used). Those who do not put chazeret on their Seder Plate sometimes put a dish of salt water in its place
  • Hard-boiled egg, interpreted this as a symbol of mourning for the loss of the two Temples (the first was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 B.C.E., the second by the Romans in 70 C.E.). The egg symbolized this loss and traditionally became the food of mourners.
  • Bitter herbs  represents the bitter life of the Israelites during the time of their enslavement in Egypt.

I find joy in the celebration of both holidays which are full of joy, hope and rebirth.

Happy Passover and Happy Easter to all who celebrate!

How To Prepare a Seder Plate – 

Chicago Holidays…Lincoln Park Zoo

Chicago is a world class city.

Being a native of New York, I really thought that I would never get used to living away from it.

But Chicago is where I have been at home for many years and where my children have grown up. Now, as a grandparent, it is my turn to enjoy Chicago and all it has to offer.

Chicago Holidays...zoo lightsLast night was unusually warm for December, so we took advantage of the balmy weather and made a spur of the moment plan to have dinner downtown and try to take in the Zoo Lights at Lincoln Park.

First, we stopped at Viaggio on Fullerton and had an excellent meal with our granddaughter.

Chicago- Viaggio on Fullerton

To our surprise, it was child friendly and they were very accommodating with our late arrival due to horrendous traffic.

Viaggio came recommended to us just that afternoon so it was a new find and a wonderful one. We met the owner, Dave and his daughter.

I think we will find our way back there soon maybe without our granddaughter so our meal can be more leisurely.

Chicago Holidays-Christmas at Lincoln Park Zoo 2013

Unfortunately, our attempt to visit the Zoo Lights was limited to driving along Stockton with the rest of mankind, looking for parking. It seems that everyone was taking advantage of the unseasonable weather.

Chicago Zoo Lights-Lincoln Park

The light show was fantastic even from a distance and Lakeshore Drive lived up to my expectations on a clear night.

The lights along “The Drive” make me so happy to live near Chicago, such a gorgeous city.

Chicago-The Drake

My granddaughter thought all the lights were pretty fantastic and exciting… her enthusiasm was contagious!

PostPartum Depression- You Do Not Have to Suffer.

postpartum depressionPostpartum depression …you do not need to suffer through it!

The holidays can seriously effect our mood. After having a baby around the holidays, a bout of postpartum depression can hit hard and come right out of nowhere during a time when a mom feels that she should be rejoicing over the birth of her baby.

If a new mom has recently suffered a loss in her life, the holidays can add another burden of trying to “carry on” when she just doesn’t feel up to it.

Grief combined with the emotions and adjustment of having a newborn certainly can predispose a new mom to postpartum depression because she may already be somewhat depressed.

The following is a post I wrote a year ago.

If you or anyone you know is at risk for PPD this may be a helpful read.

If you are depressed please seek help…in an emergency go to your nearest emergency room.

If you want to find a therapist call your Ob-Gyne doctor for a referral…do not suffer on your own…you do not have to be in mental and physical pain…there is help available.

January 30, 2012 by lorettelavine


Postpartum depression is a serious problem that can occur after having a baby…it can occur up to one year after delivery. Sometimes the signs and symptoms can just be an overall sense of anxiety and an inability to enjoy your baby.  As a new mom, if you just don’t feel happy you can attribute it to many things especially lack of sleep and the many changes occurring over such a short period of time but you could be suffering from postpartum depression (PPD).

Personally, I did not experience PPD but there were days when I did not feel in control of all the responsibilities of motherhood. It was positively overwhelming. Back in the day…postpartum depression was somewhat overlooked and under treated.  A new mom was made to feel like she  ”just had to suck it up” and get it together. Fortunately, since them that attitude has changed and most obstetricians screen for PPD at the time of the postpartum check-up.

I thought that I would post a list of symptoms of postpartum depression.  If you have more than one or two of these symptoms or are feeling generally depressed for more than two weeks you should check in with your doctor.

The symptoms of postpartum depression are the same as the symptoms of depression that occurs at other times in life. Along with a sad or depressed mood, you may have some of the following symptoms:

  • Agitation or irritability
  • Changes in appetite
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Feeling withdrawn or unconnected
  • Lack of pleasure or interest in most or all activities
  • Loss of concentration
  • Loss of energy
  • Problems doing tasks at home or work
  • Negative feelings toward the baby
  • Significant anxiety
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Trouble sleeping

A mother with postpartum depression may also:

  • Be unable to care for herself or her baby
  • Be afraid to be alone with her baby
  • Have negative feelings toward the baby or even think about harming the baby Although these feelings are scary, they are almost never acted on. Still you should tell your doctor about them right away.
  • Worry intensely about the baby, or have little interest in the baby

via Postpartum depression – PubMed Health.

Christmas Spirit … Forever Young

I love this commercial from Kohl’s

which just speaks to me about Christmas Spirit.

I am all about Christmas right now…

my feelings go from utter frustration

to smiling, with thoughts of how a perfect Christmas would look at my house

if I had my wish!

My perfect Christmas would be to walk to midnight Mass where there would be seats together…

Christmas music would be sung by the choir reminiscent of the one I sang

with years ago in Riverdale, New York…

It would end with the Hallelujah Chorus sung with the help of a few professional  New York Metropolitan Opera singers.

Following Mass…a small snack of cookies and egg nog…

then playing Santa…gathering the presents under the tree…

Christmas Eve

then off to bed in order to capture

the early rising of our 5 year old granddaughter!

Christmas morning around the tree with fresh brewed coffee and camera in hand

enjoying the squeals of delight…and the smells of breakfast strata baking in the oven

A quiet early supper of beef tenderloin and roasted potatoes…with nostalgic holiday music

and conversation.

and that would be a wrap!

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

 Christmas after glow!


Breakfast Strata Recipe from Yummy Mummy Club


Christmas Reflections and Traditions

Christmas at Our House

As Christmas approaches, I become more and more reflective.

My thoughts return to Christmas Past,

then move on to Christmas Present

and finally,

I try to glimpse at what might be Christmas Future.

  • Christmas Past:


As a grandparent, the past is chock full of memories of my own holidays as a little girl in NYC…Fifth Avenue magic, Rockefeller Center skating and THE TREE! My mother, brother and I shared our home with my grandmother. While my mom worked Nana, took hold of the home front, and created Christmas memories as only a grandmother can. She was a wonderful cook and loved the Christmas season. She brought with her a strong faith so the  story of Christmas in our house always included the Christ Child along with a visit from Santa Claus.

As years went on, Christmas memories were made in my own home and with my own family. I tried to create the same feeling of Christmas the same way my grandmother had so many years before. My mother and uncle usually celebrated with us…they would come from Florida and enjoy brunch at the Ritz in Chicago, since we had all migrated from New York by then. Cookies were baked, the tree was decorated and stockings were hung. We were very fortunate to all be together. Many Christmas Eves, we attended midnight Mass in bitter cold but with warm hearts.

  • Christmas Present:



My husband and I are now the “older” generation and we happily celebrate Christmas with our family which includes, a grandchild. It is again been joyful as we are making new memories built on the old ones which included great-grandparents our granddaughter will never know. Our tree is in the same place it has been for the past 20+ years…it is decorated with ornaments that each tell a story of where our family has lived and traveled  since 1977…New York, Florida, Chicago. It has 3000 lights, so in some ways it is my Rockefeller Center right here at home!

  • Christmas Future:



As an old year is coming to an end, I am looking at the future with of course some trepidations which come with age but they are soothed by the loving hugs of my granddaughter and the wonder and amazement that she brings to this house that has seen  the footsteps of those who came before her.

The Christ Child is still here and Santa will soon ring his bells over our house. There is even a blanket of snow on the ground.

The presents still wait to be wrapped…and the best is yet to come!




Christmas Wishes to Jennie

Homemade with Love by Jennifer Perillo

Merry Christmas Jennie!

And so, my gift to you is a super easy, really one bowl recipe for gingerbread—or should it be called  gingerbread cake? Perhaps I should eat one more slice to try and decide.

via gingerbread cake {a one bowl recipe} – In Jennie’s Kitchen.

If you are at all like me, I am always looking for a gift that is very special at Christmas time when it comes to my family and friends.

Since I love food and trust me most people do…I look for unique cookbooks by unique cooks.

Homemade with Love

is one of those cookbooks.

Jennie Perillo is one of those cooks.

As the year 2013 comes to an end, I am looking back at some of the wonderful people, I have met this year.

Jennie is one of them.

Last spring, I was introduced to Jennie through a group of Instagram bloggers from NYC.

She was launching her first cookbook, Homemade with Love. At first, I was drawn to her by her story.

Jennie had lost her husband suddenly. She and her two daughters were left without their anchor. Jennie found solace in her love of cooking.

As she grieved for her husband, she began to create Homemade with Love.

During her publicity tour, Jennie stopped in Chicago where I live. She did a book signing at a small bookstore.

As luck would have it…I read about the book signing after the fact.

I was so disappointed…

Well, I took to Twitter and sent Jennie a message asking if she was doing any other signings.


But I was welcome to stop by her hotel and she would sign my copy.

I was more than thrilled.

Not only did Jennie sign my copy of Homemade with Love but she invited me to a media luncheon which she had prepared in her hotel kitchen. I was actually tasting some of her recipes and they were easy enough to make in this tiny kitchen.

Homemade with Love

I had fallen in LOVE.

I knew when I read about Jennie and read Homemade with Love…I was being reintroduced to my love of cooking again.

You see, I had been an empty nester after taking care of my own family and my mother and now I was helping to parent my granddaughter…I needed to cook again for a family.

Jennie came into my life and resurrected my love of cooking at a moment when I needed a new inspiration to cook again for a family.

Jennie, I wish you a very Merry Christmas and New Year full of new horizons.

Thank you.

Jennifer Perillo