why did i think this was a good idea again??

sitting in my tiny, spartan hotel room in arizona before the sun comes up, about to embark on some self improvement at a retreat, if i am to be truly honest (and when in my blog have i not been truly honest??), i'm wondering what part of me thought this was a good idea three months ago when i booked my ticket? five days of intensive searching and learning will begin in about 90 minutes with a bunch of complete strangers and i am anxious, fearful and frankly, down right pissed. why did i leave the comforts of cozy hohokus with everything and everyone that i know and love for a shithole room at the best western with nary a loved one in sight? if i was one of my kids, i would want my lovey right about now, but i'm not, so i guess i am on my own for the next few days. 

as i boarded the plane yesterday, my extremely accommodating and understanding husband (he's on morning (noon  & night) duty the next five days when he's supposed to be at his desk at 6:30am which makes that a little tricky) gave me a hug and a kiss and ensured me i was going to crush it. my kids squeezed the life out of me with their hugs, the younger two shooting mournful puppy dog eyes while asking why i couldn't "learn to be a better, calmer person"  at home rather than leave them for five days. and could they climb into my suitcase and come? it was all i could do not to let my own fears combine with theirs and send me to tears. but i held it together, found myself a bag of pretzels & a diet coke, the new kelly corrigan book to read on the plane and headed to my gate. truth be told: i wanted to cry. i wanted to stay. i wanted to smuggle them into my suitcase so i wouldn't have to be alone. so i wouldn't have to be quiet with my thoughts. so i could have something to busy myself with. but down to the gate i trudged, sad, scared, excited, hopeful all mixing in to create a emotion-filled madwoman looking for answers.

my new year's resolution was to slow down. to be more present. to quiet the noise and find more peace with myself and for my family. a tricky proposition given i have four kids, a husband and a cafe & catering business that sometimes makes finding quiet a near impossibility. but i don't believe that's an excuse. i want to learn what is enough. i am searching to unlock the question i have been striving to answer for 44 years: why do i need to do, to be? and i plan to find some of those answers this week for myself. i will benefit from it. my kids will benefit from it. and i gotta think my husband will enjoy a less wired, more serene partner around the house not barking orders like he's my sous chef. so here goes nothing. hold down the fort back in chilly nj for me while i am listening to therapists and meditation experts and doing downward dog more than i probably care to. my fabulous crew has you covered with tasty hot dinners and fresh food pumping out all week. next time you see me i'll be all pema chodron on ya.

girllllll.

girlllllll.

if i could give you visual right now, i'd be snapping my fingers and all fulla attitude. christmas is four days away and i have got. my. shit. TOGETHER. 

presents? check. house decorated? check. food shopping done? check. 36 parties between now and christmas day at catchy.? AW YEAH BABY!! CHECK.

needed to holla at you all, with just 10 days until the end of this year, to thank you for being the wonderful customers and friends you are and have become this year. you remind me why i do what i do. 

standing in my shop today, an older woman about my mom's age asked if i was the owner after picking up her lunch. i said yes and she began telling me how much she liked the feeling she got when she walked into my shop each week. i hear ya, me too. we launched into a rambling 20 minute conversation about working hard, finding your happy place, raising kids & instilling values (ya know, just your usual surface conversation). she left after introducing herself and my knowing she will return (i hope so jodi:)) and reminded once more why i do what i do. 

my customers make me happy. you walk in looking for a break, looking to connect, looking to share and we are here and love to meet you just where you are. connection is one of three things i value most in life (courage & compassion are the other two but that's a story for another time). meeting people where they are whether that be in need of a laugh, a break from life and a healthy salad, or a hug because they have just received the shittiest of shitty news and need to have someone take care of cooking for their family for a while, we are here for you. what goes around, comes around and we hope you keep coming around.

have a wonderful holiday season. 

i hope all your wishes come true. 

 

lordy lordy lordy.

lordy lordy lordy.

it's only december 3rd and in the span of 36 hours i went from bright and cheery as i helped pack up 16,000 rice dinners with my girls & a troop of daisies at the rise against hunger event, happy as a clam (prob because i didn't have to wear that ridiculous hair net they had on) to overwrought, argumentative (with my husband who probably deserves an apology i'm not ready to give him) and deadtired. we need to adjust the expectations people. december ought to be festive and i'm proving to be a giant freakin' bah humbug.

this weekend marked the third straight in record breaking levels of sales. both at the cafe, as well as of holiday catering we just pumped out the good stuff all week long. can i get an AMEN SISTA!! yes!! 

we marked the two year anniversary of catchy.'s doors being open and serving up some of the tastiest, freshest food in bergen county. and we catered over a dozen events with upwards of 2 dozen staff out on  them making sure our customers didn't lift a finger at their special events. tiring? hell yes. but pretty darn satisfying too. nothing better than watching people dancing up a storm in their kitchens with friends while calvin harris jams out his "feels" and remembering why it was i got into this business seventeen years ago. heating up bbq chicken & waffles and pumping out greek salad cups with my oldest two kids next to me clearing trays and picking up napkins, i realize this is why i do this: teamwork, fun, joy. it doesn't take much to remind me that being tired is fleeting, but making memories for my customers, my staff as well as myself is pretty grand. stop and smell the posies folks, they are pretty damn sweet. 

so i'm off to bed and i have no f&*$ing clue what we are serving at the cafe this week. i'm prettyyyy sure the dinners below ring a bell, but maybe that's just the after effects of serving 140 people meatball parm spring rolls last night. you're going to have to cut me a break this morning. 

happy new year.

i woke today around 4am when my husband's alarm went off with a full moon out my window, sunken very low in the sky. a huge, glowing ball that lit up the sky. it was incredible, it was actually almost light out. and while i was grateful not to have his job and to have to rise at that hour, a part of me still lamented that the new year was upon us, that the kids would start back to school today and life would churn on, albeit, with a lot less sugar and technology in my house (my family's two new years propositions). 

i was talking to my friend yesterday about how the new year depresses me. she was shocked. for a very glass-half-full kind of gal, she couldn't believe i didn't see this day as a new beginning. i don't. i see it as a, "shit, we have to start all over again," without any of the positive carry over from the previous 365 days. it always struck me as sort of like the beginning of a new lacrosse season (i played all through my years at school). you don't get to carry your previous season's accomplishments with you into that first freezing cold day on the turf in february. no, everything starts from here. you have to rebuild everything from day 1. or do you?? huh. she got me thinking.

what if, rather than insist we always be doing things better, faster, more perfectly, how about we just focus on progress. progress (as i listened to in a podcast yesterday on the treadmill), is the development toward a more complete condition. i love that. a more complete condition. that was not my definition of success growing up. my definition of success included a learning curve with a slope of at least 45 degrees or greater. as in, you're going out for a run? did you run it faster? did you run longer than yesterday? did you do more? and did you do that more, better? i'm tired of that model. i used to see that model as my super power. that model separated me from the pack and helped me stand out, shine, it got me attention. but it doesn't work for me anymore. today, i choose happiness. i choose peace. and i can't choose those things by grinding myself to a nub every single day, in and out for 44 years. it just doesn't work (trust me, i've tried). 

so while i used to see the new year as a negative, as a sort of internal challenge of "what are you going to do more of or better this year Erin?" today i am going to try and look at it through the lens of my friend Mel, who sees the day as a new beginning, a reset button. Through the lens of my kids, who got up every day of vacation and chose Barbie Dream House or Lego Police Station, who chose Fruit Loops or a piece of toast without judging themselves for it and every other decision they make every day. 

today, on this the second day of the new year, i choose to be a little more gentle on myself. sure i'm going to try and pare back my technology use so i can be more present for myself, my husband and my kids. i'm going to try and take sugar and processed crap out of my diet for the foreseeable future in an attempt to feel better, sleep better and think more clearly. but for today when i slip at those attempts, when i stumble and fall short of perfection, i am going to remember that all we need to strive for is progress. for development towards a more complete model, but certainly not the complete model. because perfection is boring. and it's the path, the journey, that i want to focus on with the people who are most important to me. and if i'm trying to get it right all the time and be perfect, it's a pretty sure bet that i am expecting that of them too and i'm gonna say that's not a lot of fun to live with.

so here's to progress is 2018. here's to getting a little better. a little stronger. a little more patient and a lot more understanding and gentle with ourselves and those around us. 

thanksgiving is over. can i get a dilly dilly?

thanksgiving is over. can i get a dilly dilly? 

it's my favorite holiday of the year with all that stuffing, gravy and pumpkin breads by the dozen. but man, thanksgiving is a crapload of work for a 15 minute meal, don't you think? i don't know about you folks but after a long week of work, kids off on vacation starting wednesday at 12:45pm, and the holidays glaring at me like a a hungry dog that hasn't been fed, getting a meal together for 23 people in my house felt like i was preparing to run the NYC marathon, but hadn't really put the appropriate amount of effort into my training. 

thankfully i am the youngest of five and had myself some kick*ss reinforcements on my team. mom popped out to my house on monday night to set my tables (she's the martha stewart in this crew). i had sister-in-laws and brothers bringing extra turkeys and pots of mashed potatoes, appetizers and of course more beer, wine & huckleberry vodka (my contribution) to inebriate a small army (which, on thanksgiving day, we in fact are). and for all the stress of strain of trying to keep this pot of gravy warm, these sweet potatoes from setting off the alarm because the marshmallows kept burning and those damn kids from polishing off the loaves of pumpkin bread that i felt like i kept slicing and replenishing only to turn around and see it had vanished again, it's the most wonderful holiday of the year for me. there is no anxiety of: is she going to like my gift? did i get my goddaughter the right size? does my tree look lopsided. thanksgiving is all about food & family. 

no one really cares if the turkey is dry (it was, my thermometer read 220 degrees at one point...and yes, i did go to cooking school). drown it in gravy. no one cares if they are stuck next to boring aunt rita, top off your champagne flute and she will seem far more interesting. the focus is gratitude and i for one, after a year of harvey weinsteins & roy moores, of mass shootings at concerts and churches, need nothing more than to look around my farmhouse table over a decadent plate of food to see the people i love all in one place, laughing loving and together for one fleeing moment to know how lucky i am.

remember that folks as we head into the next 28 days. there may be people who you think: i can't spend a holiday with so & so, they are too bossy/nosy/nasty/depressing. try. acceptance. they won't be around forever. one day you will look back and wish you had just found a way to accept their insecurities and flaws because they will be gone and you can't bring them back. there is good in everyone, well, maybe not harvey, but you know what i mean. i for one am grateful i am to have what i have. can i get another dilly dilly? happy monday and order yourself something nice today

why am i blogging' at you twice in one week?

why am i bloggin' at you twice in one week? well, because it's just a food kinda week and you need to know about these piping hot dinners that we are cooking up alongside that cheesy chili skillet mac so we can make your week just that much easier.

so we shouted at you that we made 15 trays of cheesy chili skillet mac for halloween and you responded with orders for 11 of them. BAM! i'd say that means you are looking for a night off from the stove tomorrow when all your princesses, zombies & football players head out the door to forage for candy. we still have a few available so email me NOW if you want some tasty treats for a few neighbors to pop over after your trick or treating has come to an end because they won't last past today. $39.95/tray for that cheesy, bubbly, delicious pile of saucy, meaty goodness in the picture above. feeds 8, not a bad deal.

but aside from that tray of decadence what else are we cooking up for you this week? um, how's about a little chicken pot pie with our famous homemade crust and the savoriest of savory beef stroganoff over buttery egg noodles? stop the madness. just STOP. IT. we will not. we can not. it's ready to be delivered to your doorstep like tonight at 5pm. can i get a WHOO!!! 

you guys managed to buy MORE food from catchy. last monday than have you since the FIRST DAY we opened!!! we sat and watched the register tally up 17 hot dinners, 25 orders of chicken fingers 56 salads (holy cripes!), a dozen and a half sandwiches and 28 quarts of soup (28!!)! it was madness! we literally did not close the register before it was ringing open one more time. so let's do it again people!! you have candy to buy, costumes to slap together and houses to clean so your neighbors can pop over for a post-candy glass of wine celebration for making it through the first of three holidays over the next 62 days. we are here for you with fresh, delicious food that will warm your insides. 

 

you know those days when you just think you can't do anymore? well read on, and think again. you can do anything.

you know those days when you just think you can't do anymore? well read on, and think again. you can do anything.

i ran the spartan race at citizens field in philly on saturday. 4 miles and 10+ obstacles. my husband, my two youngest and about 125 other friends and soon-to-be-friends raced up and down the stadium steps, climbed 25' ropes, carried 40# jugs of water and in general pushed our bodies to limits a mid-forties crew just shouldn't be doing on a regular basis. team papa "D" covered the stadium in royal blue and between the bad *ss spartan head bands and our matching shirts, i haven't felt that cool since i hung up my lacrosse cleats senior year at princeton.

we ran for and with our friend dan morris (that's him below) who was diagnosed with early onset parkinsons. rather than to submit to the sh*tty hand he was dealt, he has brought people together to fundraise, hell raise and generally raise our voices to find a cure. he and his wife julie are the kind of people i like to surround myself with: those who say bring it on rather than I've had enough. it was such a special moment to be a part of and i know my kids left that field thinking it's pretty fantastic that we can "do" something sometimes even when everything and everyone around may be telling you that you can't. the pictures don't hold a candle to what a cool experience it was to join together with neighbors and try and make a difference.

so, severely sidelined today because of my petulant need to try and win things and the pain that often brings, i had plenty of time to write my blog, lie on the sofa, eat loaves of pumpkin bread, and lie on the sofa some more. a part of me didn't want to crack my computer but the business lady in me needed to shout out the menu to you all. after three, count them THREE, sell-out weeks, i couldn't leave you guys in the lurch without knowing what's on the menu. you have cleaned out our takeaway case day in and day out. you have ordered more quarts of soup than you did in all three summer months combined (that's an insane amount of soup in three weeks) and you've never ordered more online from our website (www.thecatchycaterer.com - get after it people!) than this week. BOOM. check the menu and let's do it again people. 

i thought it was fall. wtf is going on here global warming??

i thought it was fall, wtf is going on here global warming? 

it was like africa hot this weekend. holy cripes, don't the weather gods know some of us 40-somethings don't do well with 90+ degree weather in late september? shazam i am ready for fall. i was just at my good friend kristen dahl's 2 year anniversary party on thursday night purchasing some of her ridiculously cute fall fashions and when you drop $$$ of fabulous pieces you want to show them off. like ASAP. i'm over these simmering heaters, i really am. 

so i have decided to just act as if. i am donning my cozy sweaters, blank jeans and booties and stocking the cafe with my new favorite cookie baker: mimi's cookies insanely cute cookies designs. we are selling bags of mini acorns, apples & sunflowers but take a freakin' look at what else this woman is capable of?!? it's insane. we will be offering her incredible cookie platters for holidays, birthday parties and anything in between. call 201.445.6400 for more information on those.

in the meantime we are back at it. after a fabulous jewish holiday which we happily took advantage of, though our heritage screams irish italian LOUD, we are relaxed and all filled up with great new ideas. me and my girls hit the city with abandon, walking the west side, soho, tribeca and more. we dropped into the san gennaro festival, the taiyaki ice cream shop with their bangin' fish shaped waffles &  every playground and walking path in between. i came home from my nyc food trek, once again, with loads of new ideas for fun twists on appetizers and dinner menus for the upcoming holiday. i would advise calling ASAP about your holiday party as we just booked our fifth christmas event on saturday morning and we only have so many staff to go around for your fine events.  

so get on the stick people! we want to cater as many of our fine patrons as possible. if we know we need to contract more staff for your events, we will. but it takes time to find good people so give us leeway by booking now. if you wait until the last minute, you will be stuck with your head in the oven during your christmas soiree rather than strutting around the room in your kickass velvety off the shoulder number. deep in the oven? or knocking back a cranberry mojito with your neighbors? i say no question. BOOK IT NOW.