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It’s Thursday, this must be FLORIDA!

This is our first full day here, and Jim has been on the phone since early this morning to see what park we’re going to and what we’re doing.  I’m up early, because that’s just how my internal clock works, but the kids are tired and sleeping.  That’s a good thing. 

I heard from Brett this morning, and the girls will be delighted to know that they are going to get to spend some part of their weekend with Uncle Brett!  He is one of their favorite people, and he is Granuaile’s Godfather, so they can’t wait to spend some time with him.  The plan is up in the air a bit, but we’ll be in touch over the weekend to decide where we’re going and what we’re doing.

Uncle Brett
Uncle Brett

I was able to log on this morning and answer some questions for the Disney Moms Panel www.disneyworldmoms.com .  I love this job, and worried that I may not get my 15 questions in this week.  Thank goodness for the late sleeping children!

Russell is taking me to the airport today to pick up a rental car so I can get around this place!  I’m not sure what to expect when I get to the airport – but I’m pleasantly surprised with a comfortable and roomy Hyundai Santa Fe – and it has satellite radio!  Gotta love that!

On the way back to the house, I stop to get my Starbucks fix for the day.   And no, this isn’t a Poinciana Starbucks cup – this one is file footage from my friend Sandi at my Cherry Hill Starbucks.

The rest of the day is spent really just relaxing, and it’s so nice!  It’s warm and wonderful here, and I am wearing shorts – YAY!  The kids are enjoying the time with Grandmom and Pop-Pop, and it’s so good for them to have this opportunity!  Living so far away, they don’t get to spend too much time together.

Grandmom and Pop-Pop Andersen
Grandmom and Pop-Pop Andersen

Night comes fairly quickly, and everyone gets showered and sent to bed early.  The plan for tomorrow is to be up and out and at Disney’s Hollywood Studios first thing!

All Ears Meet and Greet – a Good Reason to Use that Annual Pass One Last Time!

So the Facebook invitation came in from Deb Wills, the genius behind www.allears.net , for a Meet and Greet at Animal Kingdom.  The Meet – on March 15th – happens to be the day before my oldest daughter arrives at Disney World for her senior trip; the week that my brother-in-law, just back from Iraq, is also in Florida; and two weeks before my annual passes expire.  Can you feel the alignment of the stars here?  But wait, there’s more!  If I can talk my husband into springing for this trip, there’s a chance I’ll get to catch up with a couple of the other Moms from the Walt Disney World Moms Panel – three of whom will be in the vicinity around the same time I will be there!  This, ladies and gentlemen, is what they call kismet!

The decision is made that Granuaile and I will head down to Florida, stay with Jim’s parents, rent a car, and enjoy a few days in the theme parks, maybe take a trip down to South Florida, and attend the Meet and Greet.  I start to feel really and truly guilty about leaving Eilis at home, even though I know she shouldn’t miss school.  But with Brighid heading down on her class trip, and Granuaile and I now going down there, I can’t help but feel terrible. 

The night before we are supposed to leave, Jim logs on to US Airways and finds that the cost of airfare is the same as it was for Granuaile and I if he adds a ticket for Eilis.  So guess what? 

  She’s going with me!!  This is her replicating the excited face she had when she learned she was going 🙂

The flight down was uneventful, but it took forever to get started!  The plane sat on the runway for about an hour before we took off, because apparently, our flight crew was coming from a flight that had come in late.  I’m feeling really badly now, because my in-laws have offered to pick me up so I don’t have to deal with the kids and the luggage by myself, and now our flight is getting in much later than expected, which means instead of being home to their house around 9, it’s going to be closer to 11 or later. 

We finally get there, and the kids pretty much go right to bed.  They are excited about seeing Grandmom and Pop-Pop, but sleepy too.  The plan for tomorrow – sleep in!

Restaurant Review – Sapori Trattoria Italiana Collingswood, New Jersey

Sapori Trattoria Italiana

601 Haddon Avenue

Collingswood, NJ

856-858-2288 (reservations recommended)

A few weeks ago, I was talking restaurants with my boss, Roseann, and both she and Carmella began raving about Sapori Trattoria in Collingswood.  Jim and I go through Collingswood often, and on Haddon Avenue, we’ve eaten at quite a few places – including PJ Whelihan’s, the Pop Shop, and Casona.  In all of our trips through town, I don’t think either of us had ever noticed Sapori, which was a terrible shame!  We’ve been missing out on some of the best Italian food in the over populated with Italian restaurants South Jersey.

The first thing you notice about Sapori is the heavy, castle-like front door.  You almost wonder if you have to have a secret code to gain admittance, but once you open the door and step inside, it’s so warm and intimate, with beautiful walls and floors, and such soothing, calming colors.  You want to stay here, in this cozy place, and laugh and enjoy your dining companions!

We were greeted by Nick, our waiter.  He seated us, and before the cheeks could hit the seat, someone was there with bread and two flavors of dipping sauce.  I was afraid to eat too much bread, but Jim broke off a small piece with a bit of the beet sauce on it, and it was really tasty.  The other sauce had eggplant in it, and I took a little taste of that on my finger – also very good!

The menu is overwhelming – if you can’t find something to eat from what they have on the lengthy two page menu, you’re not hungry.  But if that wasn’t enough, Nick came over to the table and rattled off a list of specials that was longer than the complete menu in some retaurants we’ve tried.  I don’t know how he remembered it all – because to be honest, we barely remembered it all as he was reciting the list!  And if your brain feels fried after browsing the considerable number of selections, turn to the back of the menu.  There is a list of FAQs so entertaining, you would think I wrote them 😉

We started with two appetizers from the evening’s specials, and within just a few minutes, we were presented with a beautiful plate of grilled sardines, on top of a bed of frisee lettuce, fresh plum tomatoes, and a delicious dressing.  I have never had sardines before, except out of a tin, and I have to tell you, when they are not smothered in some oily, slimey, nasty ass sauce, they are out of this world delicious!  I could have eaten two orders of these and called it a night.

The second appetzier was the sauteed cuttlefish.  As with many dishes featuring this type of seafood (calamari or octopus), it was a little bit on the chewy side, but the flavors were so delicious, that I opted to eat a few pieces anyway.   This dish had fresh tomatoes, capers, and the cuttlefish, and was absolutely bursting with flavor. 

We decided to pass on a pasta course, although they will serve their pasta dishes here as an appetizer sized portion, and that almost convinced me to try one.  There are so many options on the menu, you will surely find something you can’t pass up.  But we moved on to the entrees.  We selected one from the specials menu – a braised pork shank – based on Nick’s recommendation.  The other was veal scaloppine – sauteed filet of veal with mushrooms, figs, and shallots.  The veal was served with roasted potatoes and roasted beets; and the pork was served with greens and beets – although we requested beets on the veal dish because Jim loves them.

The veal was tender, with dices of fig and slices of mushroom.  The gravy was all comfort food – smooth, flavorful, delicious.  The braised pork was fall off the bone delectable.  My mouth is watering just typing about it!  It was tender, it was moist, it was seasoned perfectly, and it very nearly made me forget the to die for Cuban pork I miss from South Florida. 

We were both stuffed so full, we could barely move, and had leftovers to take home.  But when Nick came out with a list of desserts – even though I can’t technically have dessert – I wanted to just try something.  We selected a sheep’s milk cannoli, and it arrived accompanied by two shots of Limoncello, fresh whipped cream, a strawberry, and candied orange peel.  It was, of course, delicious.  And the cup of tea I ordered was a big, steaming hot cup that just hit the spot. 

I cannot believe we have wasted so much time going to Italian-American restaurants when there was a REAL Italian restaurant so close.  Don’t go hoping to find lasagna, stuffed shells, and chicken parm.  You’ll be disappointed to find out that if your grandmother was really from Sicily, she would never make those kinds of foods.  What you will find is fresh, flavorful, authentic Italian food – the kind you would hope to find in a real Italian home, where the produce in season is what’s on your plate, and seafood so fresh, you know it came right from the boat to the kitchen. 

Sapori is our new favorite Italian restaurant.  I just have to keep coming up with excuses to go back again and again.

Jon Plus 8 Minus Kate?

I am going to start by telling you up front – I am not a fan of the Gosselin family variety show, also known as Jon & Kate Plus 8.  If you are even less of a fan than I am, this TLC television reality show follows the life of Jon and Kate Gosselin and their brood of eight children – including a set of twins and a gaggle of sextuplets. 

Now you know, if I am anything, it is a fan of the reality TV shows.  I watch the Little People, the Big Losers, the Surviving People, the Amazing Racing people, the wannabe Idols, the wannabe chefs, the wannabe designers, the wannabe sobers.  There are very few (Gene Simmons’ Family Jewels and Rock of Love) that I can’t sit through.  If the name Bobby Trendy ever comes up on a Trivial Pursuits question, you will want to be on my team!

But when it comes to the Gosselin family, well, it’s like watching The Taming of The Shrew, only the Bizarro World version, where the Shrew can’t be tamed and she comes seeking vengeance against those that tried to shut her the hell up.

There is a scene in the movie Arthur – one of my favorite movies of all time – where Dudley Moore comes late at night looking for the apartment of his girlfriend Linda.  He goes to the wrong apartment, where he encounters Perry and Perry’s wife.  Perry’s wife is a screaming bitch of a woman, and poor Perry just stands there, helpless. 

Jon Gosselin is Perry, and Kate, Perry’s wife.  “Don’t you hate Perry’s wife?”

In the few episodes I have seen of Jon and Kate, Kate is belittling Jon; reprimanding him for inappropriate to her standards behavior; criticizing him for something he’s done; and handing him his testicles on a plate.  So the tabloid rumors that Jon is out boozing and carousing with other women, avoiding going home in favor of crashing at his mom’s home three hours away – it’s not surprising.  If anyone deserves to be drunk and canoodling, it’s the poor, under appreciated Jon. 

It’s one thing to be a total control freak – and I admit, with eight children, you’d have to pretty much be a control freak to avoid complete chaos in your home – but it’s something else entirely to be one on national television, and doing it in a way that makes your husband look like the hapless victim of a steamroller.

I’m sure there’s a perfectly good reason for the rumor mill to be churning out these rumors.  Maybe ratings are down, and they need to stir things up a little.  Will you tune in to see if Jon shows up at home one night with lipstick on his collar?  I probably won’t.  But I will be cheering him on the day he gets those testicles back for good!

Dr. Nestor Veitia

I know, you’ve been waiting with bated breath to hear how my doctor’s appointment went on Monday, January 26th!  It turned out to be a pretty great day overall!

First, my friend Kathy, who used to live in the Chadds Ford area, offered to meet me for lunch.  I was so nervous, as you know, that I thought meeting Kathy would be a great way to ease myself into the appointment.  We had such a nice lunch!  She brought all kinds of wonderful gifts with her – adorable knit hats for the girls and lovely Connemara marble rosaries for me!!!  I so completely enjoyed the lunch and spending time with Kathy, that it came as a shock that my appointment was only 20 minutes away by the time we finished eating and talking!

The ride from the restaurant to the doctor’s office was literally only about 3 minutes.  As soon as I pulled into the parking lot, I got nervous again.  The girl at the front desk was friendly enough, and I was the only one in the waiting area.  The doctor was in with a patient when I arrived, but as soon as he finished, he came out and introduced himself, and gave me the paper work to fill out.  I have never been to an office – or worked in one – where the doctor was so hands on. 

After the paper work was completed, I went back into the office to talk to the doctor.  He is warm and friendly, and any nerves quickly disappeared.  It was a nice conversation, and I feel like I learned quite a bit about the things I was interested in.  My main areas of concern are the boobs and the belly – both things that have gone quite south as a result of my age, my weight loss, and my children.  Dr. Veitia went over some of the things that could be done to fix them, and then I was reminded that I still needed to go into the other office, strip nekkid, and be poked and prodded to see what I really could have done.

It turns out, I am not in as bad a shape as I think I am in.  And the things that are wrong with me are fixable.  Dr. Veitia is as nice and considerate as he could possibly be, and we go over what he can and will do, and what he doesn’t want to touch because I don’t need it.  He’s going to submit bills to my insurance company to see what we can get covered, and then we’ll take it from there.

Keep your fingers crossed – I’m anxious to hear back from the insurance carrier.  I’d like to get the stuff done and it doesn’t sound like it will be as bad as I thought.

Review of Starbucks Maple Sausage Scone

You may or may not know that Starbucks for me is like a religious experience.  I get up every morning, make breakfast, pack lunches, drop at least one kid off at school, then go to worship at the local Starbucks, where my personal savior is a Venti seven pump skinny vanilla latte.  And I don’t even have to raise my voice to order – I pull up to the drive through, and the baristas just tell me to pull around.  It’s a beautiful thing.

So today, we go to a Starbucks that is out of the way for us.  We were out buying the essentials to make emergency French toast (isn’t that what you do in the face of a pending blizzard?  You go out, buy milk, bread, and eggs – what can you do with that, except make French toast?), and we stopped at a Starbucks we don’t usually go to.  We hadn’t stopped to grab breakfast at home, and when we inquired as to what types of scones they had, they highly recommended the maple sausage scone.

I should have known when they compared it to a “McGriddle” that the scone was not a good idea.  And the mere fact that Starbucks wants to compare itself to McDonald’s in any way is a sad shame, frankly.  But let’s not go there.

The scone is handed to us in one of the heavier bags, as opposed to the plain brown bag that the good scones come in.  Oh, I’m sorry, did I just say that?  I gave away the whole review!  But when they handed us the bag, it’s light and flat, almost like there isn’t anything in it.  Well, there isn’t anything good in it, so it’s probably best that the thing is so small!

As a gastric bypass patient, I shouldn’t be eating these things anyway.  But once it’s in your mouth, you know you have to do the obligatory chew it until it dissolves thing so it doesn’t get stuck and cause you tremendous discomfort.  So I’m chewing and chewing and chewing, and I realize it’s not dissolving like food does, it’s turning into a paste the consistency of the stuff they use to spackle drywall.  It’s gummy and pasty and gluey, and I don’t know if I should just swallow it and be done with it, or if I should spit it out and try to forget the awful feeling that I am sure will linger.  I swallow.  Ewwww.

There is definitely a taste and a smell of maple syrup in these things.  And I will say that I am not a huge maple syrup fan, so I’m not the best person on the planet to be reviewing these things.  But even getting past the maple syrup factor, there is some chewy bits of meat in these things that is meant to be sausage.  And I do like sausage, but in a less rubbery form.

Pouch worthy?  Not for me.  I’d much rather risk dumping a cinnamon chip scone than fight the consistency issues I have with these things.  The texture is bizarre, the flavors don’t come together like sausage and maple syrup should, and there are much tastier things on the Starbucks menu to dump on.