Tales From A Hungry Life

October 7, 2015

My Halloween Kryptonite

by Maria Schulz

This morning, I ate a healthy breakfast (egg whites and spinach on an English muffin) and packed some snacks for later (bananas, apples, Greek yogurt). I even packed a big bottle of water that I could refill throughout the day, because I dehydrate easily.

I hit all my exercise goals yesterday and got a big jump on them this morning. I was feeling pretty good about myself as I strolled into work.

And then…I encountered my Halloween nightmare. No, it wasn’t Freddie Krueger, Sister Felicity, or Donald Trump. It was someone even scarier.

It was Smiling Jack…a.k.a. the office candy basket.

Come to me...

Come to me…

To put this in superhero terms, if I was Superman, Smiling Jack would be my Lex Luther….and the chocolate inside of him would be my kryptonite.

I met Smiling Jack for the first time last year. He sat outside my cubicle door, with his big, gap-toothed grin, radiating his pumpkin-vibed siren song. COME TO ME, he sang, sounding remarkably like France Joli in her 1970s hit.

This jaunty decoration/pumpkin tease made an early appearance last week, but no one felt like filling him with candy. Oh, thank you sweet Lord. Not because I dislike chocolate. I do! I really do! If chocolate was Sally Field, she could definitely say that I like her, I really like her.

I really do like her

I really do like her

I breathed a sigh of relief. It’s only the first week in October. Nobody would bring in chocolate this early! Or maybe I’d get lucky, and they’d bring in lollipops, sweet tarts, and candy corn. I hate candy corn!

But everything changed today when one of my co-workers bought a super deluxe, big-enough-to-hide-a-couple-of-giants-in bag o’sweet chocolate goodness for everyone. But mostly, I think, for me.

When you feel like a nut.

When you feel like a nut.

I didn’t expect to face this kind of temptation so soon. If I had to pick a character from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to perfectly represent my feelings when in the presence of candy, I’d have to go with Augustus Gloop.

augustus gloop

Almond Joy! Kit Kats! Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups! Nestle Crunch! Was Smiling Jack laughing at me? I’m not sure, but I guess I could’ve asked him. We saw each other approximately 300 times today.

Why is it that bananas, apples, and Greek Yogurt don’t have the same siren song as Smiling Jack? Is it because there’s not some big Greek yogurt basket filled with healthy goodies sitting outside my office door? What would a Greek yogurt basket even look like? Would John Stamos hold it? Would he sing a siren song to me? If he did, would it be “Lady Marmalade” by Patti LaBelle?

Gitchy gitchy ya ya ya ya

Gitchy gitchy ya ya ya ya

Let me think about that while I munch on my 47th Kit Kat.

Fortunately, all of my coworkers also seem to have the bionic hearing necessary to tune in to Smiling Jack’s siren song. Within minutes of his arrival, they all showed up like locusts in a Bible story. Soon there was nothing left but empty candy wrappers, broken promises, and a trail of tears.

I must admit, I was the one crying once the candy was gone. But then my co-worker said, “Don’t worry! I have about 30 pounds more in my desk!”

“Great!” I said, when what I should have said was, “Please move that f!#4Ing basket away from my desk before I launch myself into a diabetic coma!”

I need to figure out a way to avoid the candy tomorrow. So, here are my:

I'll give you twelve good reasons...

I’ll give you twelve good reasons…

12 Ways To Talk Yourself Out of A Candy-Bar-Induced Haze

  1. Suggest candy corn refills for Smiling Jack. Pronto!
  2. Walk away. Or in my case, turn away.
  3. Move that orange bas!2rd across the floor
  4. Remember: you never liked that song by France Joli
  5. When in doubt, eat Greek yogurt
  6. Imagine how good you’ll feel when you’re not 300 pounds
  7. Ask yourself: are you really hungry?
  8. Stop telling yourself to shut up because you are really hungry. No you’re not!
  9. Two words: candy zits
  10. All the calories you ate in chocolate – all the calories you burned this week = 2 extra pounds
  11. Make believe you’re 10 and you gave up chocolate for Lent
  12. Ask yourself: WWJSD? (What Would John Stamos Do?)


Healthy Halloween Treats

Treat yourself to pumpkin pudding, chocolate dipped clementines, 5-Ingredient Dark Chocolate bark, and more.


So, Hungry Lifers: what’s your favorite Halloween treat (good, bad, or really scary?) Leave a comment and let us all know. Thanks!

February 14, 2015

Valentine’s Day Wisdom

by Maria Schulz



There are all sorts of news stories on about Valentine’s Day. These included a young, college-aged couple who got engaged LIVE…some sexy desserts to make for your sweetheart (the anchorman was instructed on how to fold whipped cream into chocolate pudding…not exactly rocket science), and 3 movie critics’ all-time favorite romantic movies (Annie Hall, The Way We Were, and When Harry Met Sally).

But my favorite story of all was a report about a special dinner for couples who have been married for DECADES. Not just 2 or 3 decades either…I’m talking 5, 6, and 7 decades. SEVEN DECADES!!!

Decades ago Decades ago

The reporter asked the couple who had been married 73 years (the longest-married couple there) how he proposed.

“Did you do anything special? Did you write her a poem?”

“I said I love you.”

I don’t know about you, but I was very impressed. I admire people who don’t feel the need to create a 3-ring circus.

Next, the reporter asked another couple (married 67 years) what the secret to their success was. They looked at each other, laughed, and the wife said:

“Keep smiling, and keep your big mouth shut.”


So romantic. And so true!

I’ve been inspired by these words of wisdom from the people who have been through the wars (literally) and somehow, managed to keep their sense of humor and get through the hard parts of marriage. Those vows say, “for better or worse,” not “for better or better.” If you don’t think love requires sacrifice and tough times, you have probably never been in love…or watched Henry Fonda explain love in Yours, Mine, and Ours, to his teenage stepdaughter:

This family makes mine seem small This family makes mine seem small

“Life isn’t a love in, it’s the dishes and the orthodontist and the shoe repairman and…ground round instead of roast beef. And I’ll tell you something else: it isn’t going to a bed with a man that proves you’re in love with him; it’s getting up in the morning and facing the drab, miserable, wonderful everyday world with him that counts.”

Unfortunately, love confuses some people. Not everyone is blessed with the good sense of Henry Fonda or even the words of wisdom of our long married seniors (especially the ones who said “keep smiling and shut up.”) This is especially true on Valentine’s Day. So, as a public service to others, I’m going to offer this list.

14 Things You Shouldn’t Tell Your Sweetheart on Valentine’s Day

  1. Happy Valentine’s Day, [insert name of old girlfriend/boyfriend here]!
  1. How old is that dress, anyway?
  1. I didn’t make a reservation because I know you love to cook for me.
  1. My old girlfriend/boyfriend never cared about Valentine’s Day!
  1. I don’t care if that outfit makes you look fat. More for me to love!
  1. I got you this dustbuster!
  1. Why do I have to buy you something? You’re a guy!
  1. Here’s $20. Go buy yourself something special.
  1. I thought you liked pots and pans!
  1. How was I supposed to know that an earring box looks the same as an engagement box?
  1. I am so head over heels in like with you.
  1. Instead of going to a fancy restaurant, I bought you a Fat Blaster Boot Camp class. It starts in ½ hour, so if you run, you can start blasting that fat right now!
  1. In this light, you look just like your mother/father.
  1. I didn’t get you a card or gift because I know how much you hate these made up holidays.

Now that I’ve shared some helpful conversational tips with you regarding love and minefields, here are some romantic movies that I’d like to suggest (great viewing anytime):

Shakespeare In Love:

Joseph Fiennes (young Will S.) is inspired to write Romeo and Juliet, the story of two star-crossed-lovers thanks to his romance with Lady Viola (Gwyneth Paltrow, before she was annoying, and dressed up as a man so she can act in Will’s play). Whether or not Shakespeare in Love deserved that Best Picture Oscar over Spielberg’s WWII epic, it’s definitely a better choice on Valentine’s Day.

A la familia! A la familia!


Loretta (Cher) is ready to marry a man she doesn’t love because she thinks if she does everything by the book this time, marriage will work out for her (her first husband was hit by a bus). But then, she meets her future brother-in-law…and sparks fly. I have seen this movie approximately 147 times, and I laugh and enjoy it Every. Single. Time.


Mystic Pizza

Sisters Kat and Daisy and their best friend, Jo-Jo, work together in their local pizza shop in Mystic, Connecticut. Kat, who is off to Yale in a few months, has a crush on her boss at her babysitting job; Daisy has fallen for a rich boy from the other side of town; and Jo-Jo has left her beloved boyfriend at the altar because she’s terrified of growing up. This is a sweet coming of age story that is perfect for binge watching on Valentine’s weekend when it’s snowing outside…again!

Dirty_DancingDirty Dancing

Great music! Patrick Swayze dances! Jennifer Gray falls in love with him! “Nobody puts baby in the corner!” Need I say more? Get the popcorn and a box of your Valentine’s chocolates. This one’s a keeper.


Murphy’s Romance

Emma (Sally Field) and Murphy (James Garner) become friends with the hope of something more…until Emma’s ex husband shows up. Here’s a charming, funny movie that shows you’re never too old to fall in love…or too young to finally recognize it.


Knocked Up

Okay, so I still have a hard time believing that Katherine Hegl would go for Seth Rogan…but I will suspend my disbelief. As this unlikely couple gets to know each other, and their baby is on the way, they learn a lot about what they both really want out of life. It’s funny, endearing, and definitely a fun movie to watch with your sweetheart.

The Way Way Back

The Way, Way Back

Awkward teenager Duncan is stuck going with his mom, her annoying boyfriend, and the boyfriend’s obnoxious daughter to the boyfriend’s beach house. Duncan is miserable until he ends up finding a job at a local water park, befriending the cool owner, and meeting the proverbial girl-next-door, who just might like him too. This isn’t really a “date night” movie, but it does say a lot about love and commitment, and you can watch it with family (older teens) and everyone will enjoy it.


You’ve Got Mail

An anonymous online flirtation develops even as this pair—who knows and hates each other—considers themselves enemies. His giant book store is about to annihilate her tiny, beloved neighborhood book store. Will they ever learn they’re meant for each other? Could they be soul mates? It’s fun watching Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan realize that they don’t actually hate each other, and yes, they are meant for each other.


25 Valentine’s Day Chocolate Desserts


Why just have pudding with whipped cream folded in when you can have one of these decadent chocolate desserts? From a Towering Flourless Chocolate cake and Chocolate Covered Strawberries to Chocolate Stout Affogato Egg Cream and Chocolate Truffles, there are so many ways to delight your Valentine—any day of the year.

Cheers! Cheers!

So, Hungry Lifers: what’s the best advice you have for others this Valentine’s Day? Do you have a favorite romantic movie? Want to share a decadent dessert? Please leave a comment and let us all know. Happy Valentine’s Day




December 31, 2011

2011 in the Rearview Mirror

by Maria Lagalante Schulz

Last year at this time, I tried to think about what I wanted to accomplish in 2011. I make resolutions every year, and I usually break them by the second week of January. To avoid this, I set up a list of resolutions that I was pretty sure even I would be able to keep. Let’s see how I did.

1) I will not lose weight.

The good news is I did lose a couple of pounds. The better news is I didn’t gain any. Win/Win. I’ve been eating more fruits and vegetables, when all I really want is a Snickers bar. I’d say that’s progress.

2) I will not climb Mount Everest. I did keep this one. I don’t like heights or the cold. I tried climbing the stairs at work a few times, but that got old fast. The best was when I had to climb those 5 flights in the pitch-black darkness following Hurricane Irene. I realized that deadly conditions and heights were not a good combination for me.

3) I will not buy the world a Coke and keep it company. Yes, I was able to give up Coke for a few months. Then I went back to it. I’ve cut way back on my Coca-Cola habit, but as far as addictions go, this one is hard for me. I’m drinking a lot more water and iced tea these days, but it’s just not the same.

4) I will find a fitness program that I like and stick with it. I rode my bike, swam all summer, walked farther and faster with my dog, and did kettle bells and exercise videos. I even joined a bowling league. There is nothing quite like bowling against senior citizens to make you feel young and healthy. Now if only I could bowl better than them.


5) I will read more books and watch less TV. Since there is never anything on television, this wasn’t too hard. My last blog post was about my favorite books from the year, and I mentioned that I joined a book club. That keeps me honest and makes me read something I wouldn’t necessarily choose myself.

6) I will write every day, or maybe every three days.  Although I feel like I never write enough, I did write more posts this year than last year. Plus, I actually made a lot of progress on my book. I wanted to get it published by the end of the year, but it didn’t happen. But to quote Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind, “as God is my witness, I will never go hungry again…or unpublished.” Okay, so I made that last part up, but you get the idea. Look for my book in the Spring of 2012.

7) I will not start smoking. This one was easy. I am blessed (or cursed, depends on how you look at it) with a borderline bionic sense of smell. Cigarettes are one of those things that make me gag. I’m like Tony Randall (Felix Unger in The Odd Couple) in that way.

8) I will take a class and learn something new. This was the year I tried a lot of new things. I took my soup class and blogged about it in “Soup’s On.” I also took an introductory Spanish class. The teacher liked me at first because I have a fantastic accent (my Mom and Grandmother would be proud). Unfortunately, it became apparent pretty quickly that an accent was all that I had. I liked going to the class every week but it wasn’t the same as when I was in high school. It’s just not as much fun without my mother around to do all of my homework.

9) I will enjoy more time with friends.  Being an adult and having to take care of my family, house and work really puts a crimp on my ability to see friends all the time. This was the year that my old friend Lisa and I made time to see one another. We saw Billy Elliot on Broadway, and then had dinner at Carmine’s. It was wonderful! I also got to see more movies with my husband this year, including True Grit and My Week with Marilyn. Good times!

10) I will write more blog posts about my sister-in-law, Kathie. I promised to write about my sister-in-law, Kathie, but I never devoted an entire blog post to her. However, she did make it into the book, so at least I know one person will be buying it.

11) I will not bring a chimpanzee into my home as my surrogate son/pet.

While I would certainly love a son, I always figured he would be human. Besides, it has taken me five years to figure out how to get my dog off the couch. She’s a happy go lucky lab, and even she grumbles a little. I hear a chimpanzee can get crazy and rip your face off when provoked, especially when he’s been trolling on the Internet all day and drinking red wine. So this one was easy to keep!

This is why you should not get a pet with opposable thumbs

12) I will eat more chocolate. I have found many new ways to work chocolate into my day. One piece of dark chocolate goes a long way, and I hear it’s good for me. Plus chocolate milk in the morning and hot chocolate at night makes any day better!

I’ve heard a lot of people say that 2011 was not a very good year. I don’t agree; it wasn’t the greatest year of my life, but it was still happy. My family and friends are well and life is good.

I spent most of today whistling “That Old Black Magic” because New Year’s Eve was the time that my mother and father would throw a big party and then get up and sing that song together. All of my relatives were around us: my brothers, grandmother, uncles, aunts, cousins and friends. Everybody was there and they were all laughing.

Tonight, while my little family and I celebrate a low-key New Year’s Eve, I will think of my mother and father…and I’ll be smiling.

Mom and Dad performing That Old Black Magic

Happy New Year! See you all next year.


Make any day better with this Hot Chocolate to recipe:


So, how did your New Year’s resolutions go this year? Do you have a funny story to share about resolutions gone wrong? Share your thoughts and let us all in on the fun.