New Years

Here we go again.

This is where Magical Thinking meets Enlightened Acceptance.

Here are some examples of Magical Thinking:

fruits_vegetables.jpg1.)   I’m going to lose 15 lbs. this year.

2.)  I’m going to eat right this year (less sweets and fat).

3.)  I’m going to walk the dogs more often.

4.)  I’m going to read more rather than play Jewel Quest on the computer.

5.)  I’m going to re-do the garage/kid’s room/my office, without spending any money.

6.)  I’m finally going to read that material about learning to do books on tape for extra money.

7.)   I’m going to plan meals more so that everyone in the house isn’t grazing the whole day, including me.

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honolulu-hawaii.jpgNew Year's eve has got to be the most over-rated holiday of the year. I'm all about celebrating any holiday, even the ones I have never heard of but I always dread New Year's eve. Something about being forced to stay up late, wearing a sparkly, tacky hat and tooting a horn, trying to be cheerful and chatty when I am actually dog tired from the Christmas holidays. Otherwise the option is to stay home and feel depressed that everyone else is out having a good time except for me.

I discovered several years ago that the answer to all of my New Year's eve trauma was to go to work. Since I work for a major airline and the 'Senior Mamas" (our semi-affectionate term for the stews who have been flying for 35+ years) don't want to work on any holiday, I can pretty much pick up any trip I want. I debated on a 5 day trip to Prague or Stockholm but decided it was too cold. I looked at long layovers in Rio de Janeiro, Santiago, Chile, and Buenos Aires but decided I wasn't in the mood to always be looking over my shoulder. Bingo, 50 hours in Honolulu popped up on my computer and I took it immediately.

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chinese-dragon.jpgChinese New Year or the spring festival celebration lasts for 15 days starting with a parade headed by a large size red dragon dancing its way through the streets and businesses of Chinatown. In Boston, the New Year started with a bang! Firecrackers were exploding loudly echoing on the narrow street, lettuce leaves and orange peels were littering the pavement in the wake of the dragon,tossed to symbolize prosperity and good fortune.

The date for the new year changes every year. It is based on a combination of the Chinese lunar/solar calendar. Chinese New Year is always celebrated on the second moon after the winter solstice. That is why the date is never the same. Chinatown is decorated with red lanterns (red for good luck). Bright red packets with gold writing hang from all the trees outside and plants in restaurants symbolizing lucky money and everyone has been sweeping and cleaning their houses, sweeping out any bad luck from the past year.

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potato crispyny2011 2New Years Eve is upon us. Before kids, the hubs and I would pick a great restaurant, go out with friends, drink too much, and spend way too much money. After several years of that, we switched to cooking an amazing meal at home, made great cocktails, invited friends, and played board games until dawn.

Then we started a family. When Eli was young, we grabbed my parents and made 6p.m. reservations at The Palm. Came home, put on our sweats, and played games. We now bring in the New Year with friends, great food, cocktails, and lots of board games. The kids like to stay up until 12 (I rarely make it) and the evening usually ends with someone else’s kid sleeping here, and one of ours sleeping elsewhere.

This year we are having cocktails with friends. A light snack of cripsy potato skins and a simple “French Blonde Cocktail” to start off the evening. After that, a huge Tripoli match is on tap along with chocolate lava cakes. Let’s just hope I make it until 9p.m. That way I can at least bring in the New Year, east coast time!

Happy New Year everyone. Thanks for filling my year with blessings and gratitude.

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partytipsHoliday time and the sipping is easy. As for the food—I have four words to help you take your New Year's Eve bash over the top: fire up the grill. Yeah, it's cold out there—especially if you live up north, but live fire and wood smoke add high drama and depth of flavor you just can't achieve on the stove or in the oven.

So what makes a great holiday hors d'oeuvre spread? Three words: snap, crackle, and salt. Appetizers should be small enough to snap up with your fingers and salty enough to drive you to drink. The appetizers offer a contrast of textures, the most important texture being crunch. (I'm thinking crisp bacon exterior with gooey cheese center.) The short list of world-class starters includes poppers and chicken wings, dips and chips, mini sandwiches and sates.

Here are 7 indispensible tips to help you take your New Year's Eve cocktail party over the top.

1. Variety matters and so does abundance: If hors d'oeuvres are the only food served at your party, figure on 6 to 8 pieces per person. Serve at least 3 to 5 different items—the more the better. Your reputation as a savvy host and accomplished grill master is directly proportional to the elaborateness of your menu.

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