Giada - The Reason for Freezin

One of the myriad reasons I was THRILLED to return home was my annual freeze-out at the 24-Hour Boston Science Fiction Film Marathon. Had my ticket purchased and everything. The marathon is on President's weekend and goes from noon Sunday to noon Monday. We wait in line for hours before we are allowed to enter, all in the vain hopes of getting a perfect location (i.e. one where we have floor space for sleeping bags, coolers, etc..). It is the greatest gathering of fellow sci-fi nerds and I was breathless with anticipation to rejoin my brethren! Then a recruiter had the nerve to call me back after I sent my resume for a perfect job. I desperately tried to get the interview scheduled for Tuesday by repeating, "How about Tuesday?" He asked, "Well how about Monday?" Horrors!! "Isn't Monday a holiday?" "Well we don't get President's Day off here." Of course you don't! So (cue the world's smallest violin playing Cry Me a River) I had to bail on my brethren for a job interview.... which through no fault of my own didn't pan out. So I missed my opportunity to sit outside in the freezing cold for hours - or so I thought!

I made the trip to RI minus my friend. Her husband is one our nation's finest. There was an emergency with a helicopter and he couldn't say to his superior officer, "Sorry I can't make it. My wife has to wait in the freezing cold for hours to have her cookbook signed by Giada de Laurentiis." Can you imagine? Saddened though I was, I was undeterred. The original plan was for Ben to be home by eleven to watch our precocious little cherub. There was a moment when he thought he actually might not be able to leave work, but he made it happen! I'm so lucky... ANYWAY.. When all was definite I decided to call the venue just to be sure it was okay to show up early and loiter for hours. The pleasant (translation: brusque and snarky) person who answered the phone informed me of what I already knew - the signing was from 4-6 and what I didn't know: there were 1,000 books. And they were expecting a huge crowd. "I'm just checking to make arriving early is okay?" "Yeah. Good luck." She didn't really mean that.

AHHHHHHHHH!!!! Calm, cool and collected is only a image I project - inside is actually a frenzied, chaotic mess. I glanced at the clock. 8:30. Okay. Time to become Pooh.

Think, think, think..

First I called Ben and told him, "I'm going to meet you at work and drop Shiloh with you at the time you were planning on leaving." "Okay." Then while speed-showering I realized that only gives me an extra half hour!! Plan revision. I have a SUPER friend (time to bestow another cape...)
who lives a quarter-mile away and said to let her know ANY time if I needed her to watch Shiloh. Ring-ring. "Can you watch Shiloh?" "Of COURSE I'll watch her." WHEW! I finished putting on my mask (make-up) and costume (clothes), then threw some clothes and diapers in a bag, ACTUALLY remember my gloves, snagged the first The King of Thrones book Ben is in the middle of, iPhone, Pats water bottle, purse and we're off! (cue The Wizard of Oz wicked witch on her bike music Nuh-na-nuh-na-na-nuh...)

I leave the droopy-diapered, runny-nosed, sniveling version of Shiloh with SuperFriend, hop in my Jeep and make like the wind! I blew down to RI going 70-80. Panic bubbled within as I envisioned lines of cars miles long and a parking lot jammed, with not a single spot free. I pulled up to the plaza; all was serene. Panic fled. I followed the signs for Giada Book Signing Parking, snagged one of hundreds of available spaces, hoisted my obnoxiously large purse which actually came in handy as a lap warmer, and meandered on over to Dave's Marketplace. About ten or so round tables, occupied by roughly twenty people lined the wall. I scampered inside for personal reasons, grabbed a salad on the way out and approached the first table. There was an empty chair and was told I could sit. That was the beginning of what I hope are beautiful friendships!

Cheryl and Tara
Vanessa and Kim

Tara and Dyan (Tara doesn't believe in
people being alone in photos!)

Tara's a pro at book signings. She's been to Bobby Flay's, Emeril's, and Mario Batali's. (There are others but they escape me at the moment.) Some of the staff knew her by name; and if you check out the Dave's Marketplace FB page, there's a pic of all of us with this caption: "Early birds! Tara was first again!" She arrived at 8:00 and she was the one who said I could sit there.

Cheryl and Tara were sitting next to each other so I thought they came together; but they didn't - just two Giada fans there at the same time. Being a Chatty Cathy, I pulled my string and start gabbing. Tara's mother had vacated my seat and was due back in a few hours. Tara's friend Dyan arrived a couple hours after me, but before Tara's mom. She had some folding chairs in her car and brought them to the table.

Vanessa and Kim were there with their mother... didn't get a pic of that lovely lady. We all clustered together around that table, in various stages of shivering. How the time flew! I didn't even pull The King of Thrones from my purse. With the forty-five degree temps and strong wind, I almost broke my arm patting myself on the back for remembering my gloves. (Normally I forget things like that.)

This is the local publishing rep. Can't remember her
name, but she said she was a great Vanna!

A sign of rules for the signing was brought out and the wind kept blowing it over. Then the lady on the left came out and manned it. We all marveled at how her legs weren't cold. She said they never get cold but her hands were. Dyan to the rescue! She whipped out a pair of gloves from the pockets of her white vest. They were light, stretchy gloves. She informed me that she keeps gloves in all her coat pockets for just such emergencies.

We were also fed while we froze. Tasty morsels from Giada's cookbook were prepared and served to us while we waited. I partook of three salmon cakes (yum!) one butternut squash ravioli (a bit too sweet for me) and a cheese ravioli with a butter-peppercorn sauce (mmmmmm).

They let us in at 2:00 - sufficient enough amount of time to thaw out and not be a stuttering, shivering fool in front of the elegant woman that is my culinary hero. We bought our books and were herded like cattle through the marked off areas. The isle in which we ended was lined with chips on one side and Raid on the other. I chose to pose in front of the chips.
Almost time!

While we occupied the isles some patrons tossed befuddled and irritated glances our way. I was of the opinion that since Giada's glorious visage was plastered everywhere they should have know better and shopped at another time. As the moment of her arrival inched nearer we were nudged closer to the desk set for her. Hanging on the wall above and behind her chair was a local artist's rendition of her cookbook cover. Lovely. Of course yours truly didn't think to whip out her iPhone and snap a photo.

So in position, assistants walked down the line with stickies on which they wrote the names we wanted to have Giada inscribe on our books. Then we had to hold the book open to the page Giada was to sign so we could just hand it off. No pics were allowed while we were waiting in line, and obviously no pics could be taken with her. We could snap all the photos we wanted after we were out of line. 

Those of us at the front of the line knew she'd arrived when those further behind us started clapping and cheering. Giada in all her charming, petite glory was here! She smiled her endearing smile and waved as she walked to her chair. She hung her coat on the back, was introduced to the cute artist, marveled at his rendition and sat. Tara was first with her four books (another thing that never occurred to me was people being able to acquire more than one book - four per person was the limit) Next was Dyan, then Cheryl then me! While waiting Cheryl lamented on what she would say. I don't recall what she told me she said. Then I approached with my one book and the sticky that read Meghan and Isaac. An assistant slid it across the desk and she said, "Meghan and Isaac? Thank you for coming." I said... wait for it......"Thank you for making everyone I know think I am a fabulous cook." Brilliant! (mmm hmmm) She replied, "You are a fabulous cook." Charming to the last...(which movie is that from??)

The reason for freezin'! Thank you Cheryl for this pic!

After our books were signed, Cheryl and I scoped out a spot so she could get a picture of Giada. The spot with the best angle also happened to have the artist in the crowd. Since I'm not one to pass up an opportunity to dish out a compliment (and to a young, cute artist nonetheless!) I told him he was very talented. He smiled and replied, "Thank you." Didn't get a pic of him either. Jeez!

So that wraps up my brush with fame! Leaving the plaza was the exact scene I envisioned as I drove down that morning. HA-HA! So long suckers!

Cheryl and I friended on FB completed a contact info swap. I have Tara's e-mail and we are FB friends as well. I sent my number to her and said to pass it to Dyan. Hopefully I'll see them again.

When I got home it was time to take a few more pics.....
Silly me!

Too precious - couldn't resist!

Then I CRASHED! Holy cow.....


Tonight's dinner stunned Ben with its deliciousness. It is Turkey (or chicken) and Leek Shepherd's Pie. This may anger or horrify my fellow Irishmen but I DETEST boiled dinner. I'm pretty sure. I haven't had it in years, but it looks absolutely awful and I really didn't feel like cooking it for St. Patrick's Day. I know I LOVE Shepherd's Pie and I wanted a healthier version. My healthy recipe online bible, had tonight's offering. It was scrumptious and packed with flavor. I used roasted chicken breast since I didn't have any turkey. I can't wait to make it again - before next St. Patrick's Day for sure. And just because everyone loves dessert and I made them this afternoon, I've included White Chip Lemon Streusel Bars. I made these during my Christmas Cookie bonanza last year. They are in the little Hershey's Holiday Cookie booklet I procured from the supermarket checkout years ago. I made them for the first time this past holiday season. Because it's slowly dawning on me that even though something has a specific label, that doesn't mean it can't be used outside its designation. Besides, I had lemons shriveling in on themselves that needed to be used pronto and the white chips are a weakness of mine!


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