Friday, May 31, 2013

Clam Chowder

To be fair, when I chose this recipe it was during a chilly Memorial Day weekend. Now your knees are sweating and your hair looks ridiculous. I know. BUT this soup IS Summer! Summer near the ocean where the nights turn chilly! Or during the perfect Cape Day when you have shorts and a sweatshirt on.
I don't have a recipe for my favorite chowder from Land Ho- but I started my family on this chowder and a child ate it. Sold. Now this one is for reals. You are starting with a shell, not a can. Can it work with a can of clams? Of course. But buy 5 cups worth of clam broth/juice and reserve the calm juice from cans.

Clam Chowdahhhhhhh
  • pounds medium-size hard-shell clams, such as littleneck, topneck, or small cherrystone, washed and scrubbed clean. 
  • slices thick-cut bacon (about 4 ounces), cut into 1/4-inch pieces (mmmmm. Bacon)
  • large Spanish onion (sweet onion, if you will), diced medium (about 2 cups)
  • tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
  • medium boiling potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), scrubbed and diced medium
  • large bay leaf
  • teaspoon fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • cup heavy cream (lap lap lap)
  • tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
  • Salt and ground black pepper, or white pepper

  1. 1. Bring clams and 3 cups water to boil in large, covered soup pot. Steam until clams just open, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer clams to large bowl and save the water; cool slightly. Remove clams from shells by opening clams with a paring knife while holding over a bowl to catch juices. Next, sever the muscle from under the clam and remove it from the shell. Reserve meat in bowl and discarding shells. Mince clams; set aside. Pour clam broth from bowl and cooking water into 2-quart Pyrex measuring cup, holding back last few tablespoons broth in case of sediment; set clam broth aside. (Should have about 5 cups.) Rinse and dry pot; return to burner.
  2. 2. Fry bacon in pot over medium-low heat until fat renders and bacon crisps, 5 to 7 minutes. Add onion to bacon; sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add flour; stir until lightly colored, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in reserved clam juice. Add potatoes, bay leaf, and thyme; simmer until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Add clams, cream, parsley, and salt (if necessary) and ground pepper to taste; bring to simmer. Remove from heat and serve.

    Where the heck is my crunchy warmy baguette?!?!?!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Life Is (NOT) Like A Bowl of Cherries…..

What happens when life is not like a bowl of cherries?  What about when things do not go so well and life is not so carefree?

In personal observations, there seems to be groups of people that have perhaps “good luck” and these people live carefree lives with very little worry.  Many of these people have never really struggled to live on their last $10 for the week, or dodge several bill collecting phone calls all whilst scrambling for spare change to pay their child’s field trip monies.  Clumping the same “good luck” population into one general bucket, many of these folks have healthy and loving parents, who have given them a lifetime of love, supported them emotionally, mentally, and financially.  The Good-Luckers’  “bad” day is getting a flat tire or having Dunkin Donuts provide you with the wrong coffee.

What about that other group of people, the ones with the so-called “bad luck”?  Last week, I heard of two people hanging themselves.  My heart breaks as I do not understand just how bad life has to be to take one’s life.  I can only think of the impact of suicide on their remaining loved ones.  How about the countless stories in the daily news:  the tornado in Moore, Oklahoma; the Boston Marathon bombings survivors?  What about the groups of people who suffer from negative events repeatedly: from losing their jobs, losing their homes, losing a loved one early, and more?

Life is like a bowl of cherries, if one can keep that perspective within reach.  How do I know?  I have been THERE, multiple times over (and if you are a regular follower of Confessions of A Curvy Girl, you know this already): 
  • I lost the majority of my hearing at age four.  However, I can STILL hear and what I do miss is often fodder for humorous dialect or dumb duck jokes.
  • I was beaten as a child, by my mother.  However, my injuries have long since healed and my resolve to be a better parent is as hard as the wooden dowels that came crashing down on me.
  • I lost some of my teenage years caring for my nephews who had to move in with us due to a drug-addicted sibling of mine, their mother.  However, they are now functioning adults and I trust they took something positive from the time spent under my care.
  • I had parents who were downright exhausting and needed much more than I could ever give, while I tried to maintain my own family, parallel to them under one roof.
  • I had breast cancer, while pregnant.
  • I had to drastically modify my lifestyle to accommodate the residual after effects of breast cancer, the financial turmoil and downward spiral, including down-sizing my home and promises of payment arrangements to everyone.
Yet, for all the “bad luck” I have personally experienced, I have climbed out of my challenges with even more cherries toppling over my giant bowl.  Instead of wondering how awful I must have been in a former life (i.e. seriously, did I do something to the Pope?), I simply justify to myself that all of these “bad luck” experiences in my life have offered me some valuable life lessons.  I would not have sought out these times of adversity for the education they proffered; however, I embrace these notches in my character-belt with grace.  I dust myself off from my climb up from the bottom and start over again.

My perspective re-alignment has come (and come, and come again) in so many ways over the past five years.  Upon inward reflection, I realize as a young twenty-something, I believed that I had “bad luck” when my coffee was wrong or when a co-worker treated me poorly.  I was one who became incredibly distraught in a traffic jam and would let a late arrival at work set the tone for the remainder of my day.  Indeed, my apple cart was a bit easy to tip over ten-plus years ago.

Now, I stop and ponder – perhaps the young woman who made my coffee incorrectly is worried about a sick child at home and distracted.  Maybe, just maybe, she is actually worried about a lump in her breast and a stressing over a pending medical appointment to determine the source of her lump.  What if her minimum wage income is not enough to support her household?

Despite the failed marriages around me, the accidental deaths, the suicides, the cancer in young and old alike, the unpaid bills, the lack of a spouse or family support; or alternatively, the cushioned lifestyles with financial safety nets and reliable vehicles, a full fridge with organic veggies, days filled with cleaning time and reading time, coupled with the local carpool to lacrosse – life is chock full.  We know we will have the highs and lows of what our life experiences will afford.  We know that the bottom dwelling lows allow us to further appreciate the sky-highs feelings of life.  The verdict is our days all end up in how we perceive the happenings to be.  

Life IS and CAN be a bowl full of cherries.  Sure, good stuff and bad stuff happens, it always has and it always will - to both those well-off and to those less fortunate.  The power of perception is truly deeply within you and you have the ability to choose how you react to your situations.

Maybe later today, you can experiment a little and when you start to feel frustrated - you take the moment to remember the power within you.

(Now please excuse me as I put my rose-colored glasses back on my face and as I exit down from my little pedestal.)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


As I strolled through the shops of Chatham, MA last weekend, my husband and kids in tow (and glowing with a little bit of something I can't name, since this is where hubs and I honeymooned 13.5 long years ago and here we were with our OFFSPRING!), this book caught my eye and I knew I had to have it.

But why? It's not a children's book, but not a juicy piece of fiction either (those are my two preferred pieces of literature). It was $16 and I am thrifty (to a fault). But as I picked it up and started reading, every single page spoke to me more urgently than the last.

Mermaids, it explained, are the symbol of transition. My tail slapped against the painted pine floorboard. Mermaids can make a barnacle blush. My hair fell out of its ponytail. Mermaids must never lose sight of the sea. My linen scarf became a strand of pearls.

I myself am feeling a bit pulled by the tides of transition -- professionally, personally, as a mother and a friend -- I am having one of those periods of rebirth and reclaiming of myself. Who am I? (I'm a walrus, said with ballpoint pens attached to my lip) and with whom do I want to spend my precious time? And doing exactly what? The answers to these questions are changing, and I am simultaneously excited and terrified at the possibilities.

I also have a tendency to feel (YES! THAT'S THE WORD!) landlocked. As a solid water sign who has always answered the call of the water -- from my own birth, when I was placed into a warm bath of water directly from the safety of my mother's womb, to my young life living on the ocean, to the waterbirths of my own 3 children -- I am currently in a sorry state of being landlocked.

And this book confirmed what I already knew in many ways -- the only way to combat that feeling is to spend time with your mermaid friends:

"If there is one thing mermaids know, it's that they have more fun together. Mermaids never betray each other. They know it's a sisterhood, not a competition. Mermaids encourage and compliment each other, swooning over their achievements and beauty. They give each other gifts that glorify their kindred spirits. The more mermaids, the merrier."
~Margot Datz

I will be back, occasionally, to offer you more mermaid wisdom, because I think it's so important to remember that it's natural for a mermaid to feel landlocked, and the only antidote is to jumps into the arms of a fisherman...or reach out for a little mer-therapy.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Girls Night Out – RTB Style

It all began a few months ago, in the cold of winter, when my name was dropped into a discussion about participating in a relay race with a team of women.

“Hell, NO!”  I screamed, as I tried to virtually run the opposite way in cyber space, while my name was tagged and tossed around as a potential racer on Facebook.

However, my deepest inner athlete, if you will, stopped and pondered, “What if?”  That is how, with some persuasive words from our valiant team captain (I swear she winked her eyelashes at me, she had to have); I was suddenly on a twelve member team that would conquer a 200 mile race within a 24 hour period.  Yes, I was officially committed to the MA Reach the Beach Relay, where we crazy nutcases would race by foot from Mount Wachusett in Princeton, Massachusetts to Horseneck Beach in Westport, Massachusetts.

Oh, I had grand plans of losing thirty pounds in these few months of anticipation, as well as getting my mileage up and decreasing my minute per mile time.  I was now in uncharted territory and my teammates all look like models from the Athleta catalog.  Before I knew it though, May 16th was upon me and I was packing my bags for my girls’ night out adventure with four women I do know and seven women I did not.

I seriously packed enough for nearly a week, let alone 24 hours.  The list that was given to us at a prep meeting was longer than the list of items I pack for my entire family to go to the Cape each year (minus the booze, of course).  three sets of running clothes (yes, I was running three separate times in this 24 hour period), four sets of shoes, clothes for in-between runs, clothes for after runs, a towel, toiletries, food, a first aid kit, all kinds of blinking lights and reflector items including a sexxxy headlamp, and yes, more clothes in case it was cold, a sleeping bag, a pillow (when there’s no place to sleep in a van), and lots of Gatorade.

I arrived at the mountain at 8:30 am on Friday, May 17th with massive butterflies in my tummy.  These women, the ones that I knew at least, were fast……like, REALLY fast runners.  I did not know any of the women in my van but had prowled their FB pages or tried to absorb their personalities at our aforementioned prep meetings.  I started to panic:  What was I in for?  Who was I kidding?  I do not know half of my team – who are these women?  Really?  Do they understand just how slow I really am?  Almost 16 miles in 24 hours when my longest training run was 10k distance? 

Before I knew it, I was embracing my silly side to offset my nerves and to have the unknown women warm up to me.  How can anyone not like a grown woman wearing knee-high Wonder Woman socks with capes?  We were instantly bonded simply by virtue of our choice of apparel!

The race began and hour after hour, stories were shared and the insanity of what we were doing slowly linked us to one another.  Missing items were quickly replaced by an offering from a teammate.  Food was shared.  Words of support were delivered with sincerity as the baton was passed 36 times.  Twelve women coming together for the first time and yet, the experience operated like a well-oiled friendship machine.

Fears of running in the dark were detailed, including a fear of being approached by a bear or being sprayed by a skunk.  Farts were released with ensuing laughter and quick escapes (not in MY van, thank you very much).  Underwear went missing and bras were swapped out en route, whilst BodyGlide was reapplied on upper thighs.  Sleep was alluded, despite cuddly attempts to try.  Body rollers were passed from one to another, as were race belts and headlamps.

Some 34 hours later, we were exhausted and spent.  We were sweaty.  From 28 years of age to 55 years of age, we had all accomplished what we set out to do – we reached the beach and were headed home again.  Our blisters were taped; our muscles were drained, and around our necks hung the finisher’s medals.  Amongst the piles of worn clothes, tossed pillows and empty water bottles, our vans were full and our hearts continued to swell with pride.  Not only had we gained an enormous sense of accomplishment, we had made new friendships along the way.

Our weekend may not have been your typical girls’ night out, much like the one Kate wrote about earlier this week:  In The Company of Friends, but I came home feeling empowered, renewed, and happy to have spent these hours with women who share some of the insanity that I am well-known for.   

Runners are a special breed.  The cliché says you are only as good as those you surround yourself with.  I am honestly looking forward to my next girls’ night out, Team Wonder Women, Reach The Beach-style.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


Okay, friends. This one is long. It's long, and it's amazing, and it's going to change the way you go about your day.

If you don't have 22 minutes to spare, then let me give you a couple pearls of wisdom, compliments of Zach Sobiech, who passed away only two days ago. Today is my oldest daughter's 12 birthday, so for me it's especially poignant and a reminder to live every moment to its fullest.

"Life is really just beautiful moments, one right after the other."  ~Z.S.

"It's really simple. Just try to make people happy."   ~Z.S.

Rest in peace, Zach.