All I want for Christmas is…

Tradition, as defined in my iPhone dictionary app, is a specific practice of long-standing and/or an inherited pattern of thought or action.  Basically traditions are those rituals we perform over and over, through the years and pass down to our kids.  We may tweak what our parents did or start new ones.  Traditions are like mac and cheese, comfort food for our souls.  They make us feel safe and secure.  We know what will happen next. The traditions with which I was raised and even those I started fresh with my family make me feel like I am wrapped in a Boston Red Sox Snuggie while lying on the couch watching Jaws for the umpteenth time.

I asked various friends and family to share their favorite traditions with me.

Gigi from Atlanta, GA emailed and said,” What comes to mind for me is that my mom passed on her recipes to me and now I make and share them with my kids.  Holidays were very special at my house and now my kids love the same foods and traditions. In so many ways I feel like my parents are with us celebrating.”

 Natalie from Wakefield, MA responded to my Facebook request, “Here’s something I remember well…..my sister never helped clear the table on any holiday….NEVER
.”  (If you haven’t guessed, Nat is my sister.)

Camille from Peabody, MA, also via FB, tells us about her father’s nuts, “My favorite tradition is my father roasting his nuts every Thanksgiving.  We get the biggest laugh when we have to call him to check his nuts. By the way, he’s 95
.”

Christine from Santa Fe, TN writes in on FB about her Italian Christmas Eve: “One of my favorite memories involved our traditional Italian Christmas Eve dinner, known as The Feast of Seven Fishes. We always had family and friends around to share the food, love, and joy of being together. A family friend we called Uncle Walter, always told the same stories every year. We humored him every year as if it were the first time we had heard each one. One year, my brother Ross and I were standing at the kitchen sink clearing things for the next course while Uncle Walter started one of his repeats. We both, simultaneously were able to mouth the exact words he was saying. We could not stop laughing at the fact that we had both managed to memorize his story. For the rest of the evening, it became a private joke between the two of us, and we still laugh about it to this day.”

I also compiled a video of some of my traditions as well as my Atlanta friends.  I hope you enjoy it.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  Make 2013 a year of self fulfillment.  More on that in the early part of the year.

Tell me what’s going on in your life. I want to hear from you!

Wishing you love, balance and peace.

Amore & Baci,

Just Steph

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The Eyes Have It

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I love the eye lock.  You can almost guess what the other person is feeling in the eye lock.  Take for instance an infant in her mother’s arms.  When I held my babies, I looked deep into their eyes loving them to their core.  They would stare back knowing they were safe and loved.  Back in early 2010, my father was dying.  I looked into his eyes and they were empty.  He was already gone.  I have come across many people who suffered with depression or other mental illnesses.  I could see that they were so far away.

The eyes tell a story.  They can be shifty, avoiding, devilish, loving, dreamy.  The eyes are a mirror to the soul.  They show the pain one has endured for a lifetime or the joy of a loving heart.  I could never take it when I spoke to someone and they didn’t look me in the eyes.  My mother always said: “LOOK AT ME WHEN I TALK TO YOU!!!”  I do the same to my children.  This shows the other person they are important enough to be heard.

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During conversations of the heart, the eyes show hurt, pain, anger, compassion, love and shed tears.  I see this with my best girlfriends.  Those long heart to hearts are deepened over coffee or a cocktail because I can see their true essence.  This is something that is lacking with modern technology.  There will come a day when one will not be capable of reading the signs the eyes project due to lack of interpersonal contact.

You all know how much I love to meet new people.  I look into their eyes to gauge whether they are trustworthy or not.  I rely on the eyes to determine whether a new friendship has a chance of developing.  The eye lock is the deal maker or breaker. Take time to look in the other person’s eyes, enjoy who they are and get to know them on a deeper level. You will be surprised!

Tell me what’s going on in your life. I want to hear from you.

Wishing you love, balance and peace.

Amore & Baci (love & kisses),

Just Steph

 

 

 

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What Happened to Vinny?

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Planning my trip to the desert strip was interesting this time around.  We try to get to a few shows, including big headliners like Rod Stewart and Ray Romano.  This time of year, many of the usual big names are taking a hiatus.  So it was easy to convince my husband to see Donny & Marie, which he loved.  I have been wanting to see Boston’s Vinny Favorito.  Vinny is a stand up comedian whose show changes nightly because he picks on the audience for the entertainment.

Wanting to support my bean town boy as well as enjoy the banter, which I love, I purchased VIP seats for last night.  I knew I was putting myself directly in the line of Vinny’s fire, but I was ready to give it right back.  Yesterday morning, during my boxing training, I received a voicemail.  Vinny was canceling Thursday and Friday shows.  We have plans for Saturday, so we took the refund.  I was so disappointed.  What would we do?

One of our vendor friends invited us to a long drawn out three-hour dinner.  We politely (f*#k no) declined.  This is Vegas!  You sit for three hours eating like a famine is en route then everyone starts yawning at nine o’clock like they are one hundred years old.  Not this bitch!  I am ready to go out and have fun. I want to meet people, talk and dance.  Eating little nibbles and tapas with cocktails is enough to fuel this engine.

Instead of the fat farm, we chose STK Las Vegas right here in The Cosmopolitan.  The ambience is hot. Music is awesome and the small plates are to die for.  As soon as I walked up to the bar, I met Val from Newport Beach, California.  We hit it off immediately.  I loved her.  The conversation was fabulous.  Jennifer soon joined us, another beauty.  Not sure where she was from, the vodkas were taking effect.  The three of us danced, talked and laughed while our husbands chatted at the baaah.

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Val and I floated around making friends.  We met a great group from Canada.  When we sat down, they thought they hit the lottery.  Sorry boys, it’s just conversation and drinks.  They were funny.  One of the guys bought my book as did the baahtendaah.

When it was time to end such a great night, I signed books for Val and Jennifer and exchanged contact information.  Val texted me this morning saying she read my book and loved it.  Says she’s planning to read it again and again.  Really, friends, this is what makes it all worth it.  Bringing light and love into people’s lives is such a blessing to me.

Val and I are planning to meet up tonight to cut the rug at some Vegas hot spot.  I cannot wait to hear her comments about my book and what truly impacted her.  I missed out on Vinny Favorito, but I gained a new friend.  I would happily give up any show for the pleasure of new life experiences.  I’ll catch you next time, Vinny.

Tell me what’s going on in your life.  I want to hear from you.

Wishing you love, balance and peace.

Amore & Baci (love & kisses),

Just Steph

 

 

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Pass the Bucatini!

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They say a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.  Not convinced of that totally, but there’s nothing better than a man who loves to eat.  Having a male dominated family, I am privileged to enjoy the satisfaction of providing highly caloric Italian dishes to fill their perpetually hungry bellies.

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This past Sunday was no different.  Sundays are meant for family, food and good wine, not the baseball field.  This is how  I was raised.  I spent most of Friday making homemade Bucatini and all of Sunday making gravy (sauce for the Americans), meatballs, braciola and Caesar’s salad.  My mother, who lives with us, made stuffed peppers and artichokes.  Lucky for me she also played the role of sous chef for me. Even my nine-year old got in the action by rolling out the meatballs before I fried them.  Yes, I fried them! Get ovaah it!

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With friends and family gathered around the table, we enjoyed course after course, Santa Margarita Chianti and great conversation.  For dessert, my mom made homemade biscotti which we dunked in Vin Santo wine.  This Tuscan post din din treat is called cantucci vin santo., cookies in holy wine.  I love to serve dishes originating from various areas of Italy, not just from my Sicilian roots.

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For  Italian women, pleasing their men one way or another is compensation enough for the work it takes.  Just don’t piss us off by saying you are not hungry!

I am heading to Vegas tomorrow.  Look for blogs and updates on Just Steph’s travels.

Tell me what’s going on in your life.  I want to hear from you.

Wishing you love, balance and peace.

Amore & Baci (love & kisses),

Just Steph

 

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