Teresa Giudice sends first post-prison message to fans (VIDEO)

Real Housewives of New Jersey star Giudice released a video thanking fans for their support and showing great optimism for the new year, despite the fact that husband Joe’s turn in prison is coming up in the next few months.

More: Joe Giudice accused of cheating on Teresa just days before her prison release

Teresa Giudice video

 

Teresa Giudice video

More: Teresa Giudice’s prison homecoming wasn’t nearly as private as you think it was

“Hi everyone, I’m back! I just want to wish everyone a Happy New Year,” Teresa said in the exclusive video message to Bravo’s The Daily Dish. “It’s gonna be a great 2016. Love, love, love you all.”

Just because Teresa is out of prison doesn’t mean she is free to come and go as she pleases. She is currently under house arrest and must get approval from her parole officer before going anywhere.

More: RHONJ‘s Jim Marchese furious over Bravo’s decision about Teresa Giudice

“She asks permission to go places,” a source told People magazine. “The probation officer then gives her the parameters of that. He will ask her which stores she is going to and then says, ‘You can go from this time to this time.’ She can go to work, go to the doctor or go see her lawyer – all with the officer’s permission.”

She is also allowed to go to certain social events with her probation officer’s permission, like her sister-in-law Melissa Gorga’s Christmas Eve party.

Teresa is under house arrest until Feb. 5. Joe is due to begin his 41-month prison sentence in March.

More: Joe Giudice reveals what will happen to the family if he is deported

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My C-section was the best thing I could have done for my baby

And that was my plan.

But two weeks before my first baby was born, my OB/GYN told me that there was a very high chance I would need a C-section due to scar tissue formed from a pre-cancerous cryo procedure I had done in my early twenties.

It was time for a new plan.

More: The truth about the dolphin-assisted birth that made waves around the world

That was okay, I didn’t mind. A C-section it would be.

But that plan didn’t sit well with many of my friends. Many moms who had birthed vaginally said things to me like, “Oh they don’t know the techniques that midwives know” or “They’re only doing that to bill insurance for more money.”

I tried not to let their opinions influence me, but that’s impossible when you are already terrified about birthing and becoming a mother. You look to more experienced mothers for advice. You instantly trust that they know more than you do.

So I questioned my OB/GYN. I told her that I didn’t want a C-section, that I wanted to try a vaginal birth. She was extremely hesitant, explaining the dangers and asking me questions. But I kept at it.

I kept hearing the voices of all the mothers who told me what I should do. And the doubt in my ability to know what was right for me grew and grew.

But when I went into labor, they were wrong. So wrong, that not only could my child have died, but me as well.

After 12 hours of laboring every two to five minutes, seven of those hours without an epidural because I wasn’t dilated enough, my doctor finally walked in the door, a look on her face I had never seen before.

“You aren’t dilating past three centimeters,” she said. “Your baby’s heart rate is dropping, as well as yours. If we don’t get this baby out, you both are in serious danger.”

More: Couple sets a new bar for viral pregnancy announcements (PHOTO)

She didn’t have to say more. I knew what happened if a person’s heart rate dropped. I knew the brain damage, the lack of oxygen, all the consequences that could happen. I knew because she told them to me in her office two weeks before. I just believed others over her. Over myself.

I nodded and told her I was ready for the C-section.

It wasn’t about anyone else in that moment. What mothers would say about why or what judgments I would receive. It was about saving my child and my own life. That choice was the easiest one I had ever made.

Thirty minutes later, I held my daughter in my arms. My tired, exhausted, drained arms. And I realized something.

As a parent I would be pushed and pulled by all kinds of people. And it was up to me, in all my confusion and uncertainty, to do what I felt was right. To believe in my ability to make a decision, even if it wasn’t the right one for someone I cared about and valued.

More: My sexy OB-GYN was a total distraction during my pregnancy

When it came time to birth my second child, there was no question. I walked into the hospital, ready and sure of what was waiting for me (though I still hoped someone would give me a shot of gin). I didn’t ask anyone what I should do, didn’t poll other mothers about VBACs and natural birthing. I signed the papers for my C-section and soon after held my son.

I held him knowing that I had made the right choice for me.

Cheesy pasta-sausage bake: The dish you want before making any resolutions

Fusilli Bake
Image: Katerina Petrovska/SheKnows

While feeling like our home will never be uncluttered or clean again, because kids, and spending approximately 48 minutes trying to clean up all the Christmas glitter, because kids (two girls), I headed to the kitchen to do what I actually know how to do: Bake pasta with sausage.

Fusilli Bake
Image: Katerina Petrovska/SheKnows

This is the ideal meal if you’re short on time but need something that looks totally fancy and is completely filling. It’s so delicious because the filling is mixed with a bit of veggies as well as cheese and tomato sauce, really allowing the sausage to shine through. It’s then covered with more sauce and more cheese, and then it’s finally ready for domination.

Fusilli Bake
Image: Katerina Petrovska/SheKnows

Fusilli pasta bake with ground turkey sausage recipe

Serves 4

Prep time: 10 minutes | Bake time: 15 minutes | Inactive time: 10 minutes | Total time: 35 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 (500-gram) box fusilli pasta
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 pound ground turkey sausage
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1 small zucchini, sliced into thin rounds
  • 1 small yellow squash, sliced into thin rounds (you can also use any other vegetables you have on hand — sliced bell peppers, broccoli florets, cauliflower florets, etc.)
  • 1 (24-ounce) jar tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided

Directions:

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta, and cook according to the directions on the package.
  2. Heat your oven to 400 degrees F.
  3. Lightly grease a baking dish with cooking spray, and set it aside.
  4. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil.
  5. Break up the turkey sausage meat, and add it to the skillet. Season the meat with salt and pepper, and continue to cook until browned on all sides.
  6. Drain, and transfer the cooked sausage to a bowl.
  7. To the same skillet, add the rest of the olive oil, and cook over medium heat.
  8. Add the onions, garlic and rosemary, and cook for 1 minute.
  9. Add the sliced zucchini and yellow squash. Continue to cook for 4 – 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender, stirring frequently.
  10. Stir in the cooked sausage and the jar of tomato sauce. Continue to cook for 3 minutes.
  11. In the meantime, drain the pasta, and add it to the skillet. Stir in 1/2 of the grated Parmesan cheese, and remove the skillet from the heat.
  12. Transfer the pasta mixture to the previously prepared baking dish.
  13. Smooth the top, and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
  14. Bake for 15 minutes.
  15. Remove the dish from oven, and let it stand for 5 – 10 minutes.

More comfort food recipes

Slow cooker meatball soup — your favorite pasta dish, reimagined

 

Creamy vegan mac and no cheese will fool even the biggest dairy lovers

 

Company-worthy comfort food: Creamy butternut-pancetta pappardelle

 

How to pick a champagne you won’t regret come Jan 1

First, let’s establish what real champagne is. Real champagne only comes out of Champagne, France. Anything else is technically not champagne. There are some good American sparkling wines that are delightful and use the same process as real champagne, though they are still technically called sparkling wine.

You can learn the detailed process for creating authentic champagne, but really all you need to know is that sparkling wines made in this method are much better and are much less likely to give you a hangover. This is because sparkling wines not made in the true champagne method are injected with carbon dioxide rather than allowed to ferment and produce bubbles naturally in the bottle. Granted, the amount you drink, no matter good or bad, is always a factor in the hangover process too.

Prosecco is a less expensive option that is somewhere in between the champagne method and the injecting of carbon dioxide. Prosecco is an Italian sparkling wine made somewhat in the champagne way, but instead of allowing the yeast and sugar to produce carbon dioxide in individual bottles, the entire batch of sparkling wine is made in large covered barrels. They tend to be sweeter than true champagnes but are a much better option than the injected cheap stuff you buy for $4 at the grocery store.

 

Image: Kaleigh McMordie/SheKnows

 

 

Speaking of price, you don’t have to spend hundreds on your NYE bubbly, but price is often an indicator of quality. Since true champagne must be aged for years and imported from France, it is no doubt more expensive. You’ll typically pay upwards of $40 per bottle. Sparkling wines made in the champagne method will run you anywhere from $20 to over $100, depending on the rarity of the bottle and the quality. Prosecco is a bargain at around $10 to $20. Anything less than $10 is likely to be of poorer quality and may give you a pretty bad headache come Jan. 1.

Another quick method to determine quality of your sparkling wine is bubble size. The rule of thumb is the smaller the bubbles, the better. So, you want something with almost imperceptible bubbles. Giant bubbles are likely to be hangover-inducing.

 

Image: Kaleigh McMordie/SheKnows

 

I hope I’ve given you at least a little guidance on choosing the right bubbly to ring in the New Year. If you need more assistance, I’m sure a wine expert at stores like Total Wine would be more than happy to help you choose the right bottle! You can also find my top picks in each of the categories I’ve discussed on my blog, Lively Table. Cheers to 2016 from me to you!

Bristol Palin’s baby pic sparks intense debate about who the father is (PHOTO)

More: Bristol Palin got an amazing early Christmas present (PHOTO)

Who’s the father of her new baby, Sailor?

Palin, who gave birth to the baby girl on Dec. 23 and announced Sailor’s arrival on Christmas Eve, shared a sweet snap of her new bundle of joy on Instagram Wednesday, showing the newborn swaddled in a warm blanket. “So in love,” she captioned the pic, along with a heart emoji.

Bristol Palin baby pic

 

Bristol Palin baby pic

While many of the comments on the photo were about how cute little Sailor is, many of them asked the question a lot of us have wondered since Palin announced her pregnancy.

More: Bristol Palin’s latest baby bump pic attacked by haters (PHOTO)

“Well when do we find out who the father is?” one commenter wrote. Another added, “My problem is if you support marriage between a man and a woman, if you support the nuclear family, if you respect your beautiful baby has a father who had to contribute to this miracle… why would you not say who else’s beautiful baby this is. I am certain he loves this baby very much also. Is he supposed to just stay out of the picture? Doesn’t sound like everything the Palins stand for.” Another wrote, “I’m just saying it’s sad to see no mention of the father whatsoever. It’s sad. I don’t care what the media says at all. I am going off of her posts on Instagram.”

Palin announced her pregnancy about a month after calling off her engagement to Marine and Medal of Honor recipient Dakota Meyer, raising questions about whether Meyer or someone else was the father of the baby. When Sailor was born, Meyer shared photos of her on his Twitter, calling the new baby a “blessing” and seemingly providing a clue that the baby is his.

Bristol Palin’s ex fiance shares photo of her new baby

 

Bristol Palin’s ex fiance shares photo of her new baby

More: We may finally know who is the father of Bristol Palin’s baby (PHOTO)

Do you think Dakota Meyer is the father of Bristol Palin’s baby? Sound off down in the comments.

How to avoid getting stuck with a massive Uber bill on NYE

Michelle Matton remembers ordering an Uber on New Year’s Eve at around 2 a.m. to take her three friends from her Ottawa home in Centretown to the Elmvale area, near South Ottawa. Matton told the Ottawa Citizen the trip generally cost about $20, but was shocked to get a whopping bill for $184.43.

“I feel taken advantage of,” said Matton. “A 900 per cent price increase is unacceptable. I could have rented a private driver for the night at that price.”

Xavier Van Chau, a spokesperson for Uber, explained to the Ottawa Citizen that Matton’s trip was a result of “dynamic pricing.” He said she would have been notified about the surge pricing on her wireless device, but given that there was a lot going on when she ordered the Uber (it was NYE after all), Matton said she didn’t notice a warning.

More: Jennifer Lawrence reveals why she hates New Year’s Eve

Surge pricing explained

Don’t fall into the same trap this NYE as Matton. You can expect “surge pricing” during times like NYE when demand outstrips the available drivers. “During times of peak demand, or when there are not enough drivers on the system, fares increase,” Van Chau told Global News last year. “As you see hot spots emerge in a city where demand is quickly outpacing supply, that’s when the dynamic pricing model kicks in.”

While it’s tough to pin down exact numbers on what surge pricing will be in any given Canadian city, Canadians shouldn’t be surprised to see fares knocked up by sevenfold or even more during high traffic hours.

More: 8 Ways to make New Year’s Eve with kids rock

How to avoid ridiculously high Uber fares

Uber recently published a New Year’s Eve Guide, to help you know what to expect when you’re out partying. Follow these tips to avoid a nasty surprise that’ll deplete your checking account at the end of the night:

  • Don’t order an Uber before checking the fare estimate: “Surge pricing shouldn’t be a surprise,” writes Uber. “Let’s toast to you running a Fare Estimate in the app before you ride.”
  • Plan your night strategically: “To avoid the highest fares, head to the festivities early or catch a ride right after midnight,” writes Uber.
  • Don’t get stuck picking up the tab: “Use fare split if you’re rolling with the whole party or take uberPOOL if it’s just you and one friend and it’s available in your city,” the company suggests.

And if worse comes to worse, you can always take a cab or roll with a DD. Because you deserve to save your money for more fun things, like that extra nice bottle of bubbly.

More: 10 Inspirational quotes to ring in the new year right

Why I’ve vowed to make myself a priority in my own life

I was increasingly concerned about developing diabetes due to my dysfunctional relationship with sugar and my waistline being well into the danger zone. I did not look or feel good, and had crossed the line of justifying it with “everyone gains a little weight in their 40s” — because it was more than a little. At night, I’d vow to do better the next day.

The next day, the cycle repeated.

I had been laid off in 2014 and was worried about job security, though I’d been rehired as a contractor. I put not only my job requirements, but also others’ needs before my own. For the first time ever my three kids were in three different schools. Since one of the kids needed a ride every day, I lost two-plus hours daily driving him to and from school and extracurricular activities.

Midyear, during a short grown-ups-only vacation to Aruba — from which I have no pictures of myself because I was hiding from the camera — I met a serene woman who ran a smoothie shack on the beach. For four blissful days (sadly, I couldn’t find the time to take a whole week off at once), my husband and I drank a smoothie a day, stared at the ocean and walked up and down the beach. Having removed myself from the chaos of my everyday life, I felt like I could breathe again. I realized that I couldn’t keep taking my health for granted or I would indeed end up with diabetes, high blood pressure or needing a knee replacement — or maybe all of the above.

When we returned home, I traded my coffee pot for a blender and began making my own smoothies. I eliminated caffeine and sugar. I also made some other dietary changes such as consuming more plant-based foods and far fewer animal products and processed foods.

I carved out time to exercise, primarily walking or hiking with one or more of our dogs. I usurped my Fitbit from one of the kids — who wasn’t really using it anyway — and recommitted to my 10,000-steps-a-day goal. This has become increasingly difficult with the shorter days, but that often means I am walking laps around the hockey rink during practice or warm-ups.

Here are the top five things I learned:

1 .It’s OK to put my own convenience first sometimes

My oldest now rides a bus to school in the morning. Even though I have to pay for it, my time is worth it. “How long is he on the bus?” one of my friends asked when I told her we had to be at the bus stop (15 minutes away from our house) at 6:45 a.m. “I don’t know, and it’s not my problem,” I replied.

2. Not everything about my job is an emergency

It’s OK to reschedule a meeting to accommodate an exercise class. I work at home and one of the benefits of doing that is supposed to be flexibility.

3. People might not like it when you change

When I posted pictures of smoothies on my social media networks, several of my friends made negative comments about how unappetizing they looked. One of my kids told me, “No offense mom, but I’m unfollowing you.”

“That’s fine, hon. Maybe we can think of a family hashtag in case you ever want to see any of my other posts.”

4. My husband lamented I was no longer sharing meals with him

I had a long heart-to-heart (actually, it was more like a “hear-me-out tirade,” where I sputtered nonstop for at least 10 minutes) about how important my new regimen was to me, my health and our future together.

5. Caffeine and sugar are poisonous to me

I have to put a stake in the ground, claim the time and make self-care a priority.

I lost 30 pounds and reduced my waist by 6 inches in the first three months of my new regimen. I haven’t found the need to weigh or measure in a while — I am also not postponing my enjoyment of life until I hit a magic number on the scale.