Daily Affirmations: A Test

So, there are days when I’m not Sally Sunshine.  There are days when I just don’t want to be bothered by any of this.  We all experience that right?

I am always amazed at how Ryan, my wonderful husband, never lets the small stuff faze him.  I get really frazzled sometimes when I feel like I haven’t accomplished enough in a day and the kids happen to be super needy.  That results in my being overly tired and CRANKY the next day.  I don’t being like that and after hearing a piece on CBS Sunday Morning, I thought I would give the advice of one of the guests (Dr. Wayne W. Dyer) gave about creating a positive space for yourself

His basic message is: “Think good thoughts, and good things will surely follow”

“Take the last five minutes of your day,” he said, “and put your attention on everything that you would like to attract into your life: ‘I am well. I am healed. I am in perfect health. I am abundant. I am happy.’ Say those things to yourself. Then you’ll marinate for eight hours, and you’ll awaken and you’ll begin to attract the things that are in your subconscious mind.”

Now, I have never delved into the self help arena.  I still giggle when I see now Senator Al Franken because he will

Stuart Smalley: My first experience with the self help genre.

Stuart Smalley: My first experience with the self help genre.

always be Stuart Smalley to me.  But, you know what?  I tried Dr. Dyer’s advice the other night.  I’m amazed that I was not a pissed off ball of negativity after the night I had too.  Andrew decided to wake up at 3:30 a.m. and never went back to sleep.  Finally at 5 am I put him back in his crib and went back to bed.  When I have a night like that, I am usually exhausted beyond words, a bit of a B#%$H and completely worthless.

I woke up at 7am to find that Ryan woke up at 5:15 am and heard Andrew in his room saying: “I pooped.”  Yikes!

As I was getting dressed, taking my pill (god forbid I bring another maniac into the world) and making the bed, I said to myself: “I’m going to be ok today, even though last night was rough.”  Huh?  Who said that?

While I was in Andrew’s room trying to lull him back to sleep, Chase had gotten up and started playing with his LEGOS and wanted to open his Advent Calendar. Double Yikes.  It didn’t faze Ryan though.  And funny enough, I felt really good, all day!  I didn’t have the foggy curtain of anger that I usually get when I don’t get enough sleep.

From now on, I am going to do this for myself and make the conscious effort to start the day with a positive outlook.  Next task: Meditation.



Meatless Monday: Sweet Potato, Apple and Quinoa Salad

Want to stay on track during the holiday season?  Me too.  Now that I have sweated out all of the gravy I ate during and after Thanksgiving, I feel a lot better about myself.  It is not without some effort.  Smoothies are my friend right now.  Plus, salads like the one below.  It is from Food and Wine

Photo by Christina Homes

Photo by Christina Homes

, which is my go-to for most recipes.

Sweet Potato, Apple and Quinoa Salad


1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups quinoa
1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch dice
Freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 large Granny Smith apples, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
8 packed cups baby greens, such as arugula or kale (about 6 ounces)


1. Preheat the oven to 400°. In a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the quinoa and toast over moderate heat, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add 3 cups of water, season with salt and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer the quinoa for 16 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand for 10 minutes. Fluff the quinoa, spread it out on a baking sheet and refrigerate until it is chilled, about 20 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, on a baking sheet, toss the sweet potatoes with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for about 25 minutes, stirring once, until golden and softened. Let cool.

3. In a large bowl, whisk the remaining 6 tablespoons of olive oil with the vinegar; season with salt and pepper. Add the quinoa, sweet potatoes, apples, parsley, onion and greens and toss well. Serve right away.


Meatless Monday: Roasted Butternut Squash and Parsnips

I know it says butternut squash, but you could definitely make this with pumpkin too.  This recipe is ridiculously good.  It is simple.  And, believe it or not,

Photo by Romulo Yanes on Epicurious.com

Photo by Romulo Yanes on Epicurious.com

kid friendly.  My MIL is here for the next week and so I started off her stay with a good vegan meal.  I don’t know if Chase was trying to impress her but he ate the majority of it AND, I don’t mean to brag, but he ate two helpings of Andrea Bemis’ Roasted Beet and Fennel Wheat Berry Salad.  Note: If you don’t like or don’t have wheat berries, I used wild rice this time because I made this recipe a couple of weeks ago and didn’t have any wheat berries on hand.  I will admit though that Ryan was the genius who told Chase that he would have red poop if he ate beets.  That may have been his motivation to eat it.  I don’t care though, he ATE TWO HELPINGS!  Try it out on your kids and let me know how it works!

Roasted Butternut Squash and Parsnips


1 1/4 pound parsnips (4 medium), peeled
1 1/4 pounds butternut squash, peeled, halved lengthwise, and seeded
Rounded 1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3-4 garlic cloves, halved
12 Kalamata olives, pitted and cut lengthwise into slivers
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


1. Put oven rack in upper third of oven and preheat oven to 475°F.

2. Cut parsnips lengthwise into quarters, then cut out and discard any tough core. Cut parsnips diagonally into 2-inch pieces. Cut squash crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices, then cut slices into wedges. Toss vegetables with salt, pepper, and 1 1/2 tablespoons oil, then spread in 1 layer in a large shallow baking pan. Roast, turning occasionally, until vegetables are tender and browned, 20 to 25 minutes.

3. While vegetables are roasting, heat remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons oil with garlic in a 1-quart saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally, until garlic just begins to sizzle. Remove from heat.

4. When vegetables are done roasting, remove garlic from oil (discard garlic) and toss vegetables with garlic oil, olives, and parsley.


Will My Sons Be Statistics?

We all worry.  We all want our kids to be healthy and happy.  We want to give our kids everything they need (and want).  We want to be good parents.

Photo from Esquire.com from the article: "The Drugging of the American Boy."

Photo from Esquire.com from the article: “The Drugging of the American Boy.”

I read an article in Esquire a couple of months ago and it has been on my mind ever since.  The title of the article is: The Drugging of the American Boy.  The following line terrified me:

If you have a son, you have a one-in-seven chance that he has been diagnosed with ADHD

The article has weighed heavily on my mind because I have two boys.  I feel like I am hyper-aware of signs of autism, ADHD, and neurological and psychological anomalies that can occur.  The fact that Dr. Howard Glasser is right here in Tuson, AZ makes me feel so much better for some reason.  I guess if signs start appearing that either Chase or Andrew need some tools to use to navigate through their day, Dr. Glasser is right here.  However, the Nurtured Heart Approach can be learned and used from wherever you are.  There are many licensed therapists and social workers across the country who use this approach.

As a kid, I remember a family at church who had a daughter (11) and a boy (8).  The boy was wheelchair-bound, could not speak or see.  I remember thinking how hard it would be to take care of the boy.  I also felt sorry for the big sister.  So much of the family life was focused on the needs of the boy.  I wonder how she felt.  Did she get time with her parents?  Was she resentful of all of the attention placed on her brother?  I don’t know what happened to that family but I think about how difficult it must be to have a child with special needs.

How do we navigate the world when our kids are in serious need of help?  What do you do when your child’s sickness or condition is disruptive to the rest of the family?  How do you balance it?  How do you attend to your spouse and the needs of your other child or children?  It is hard enough to balance everything when there aren’t major problems.  What do you do when you face difficult challenges?


Thanksgiving 2014

There are so many things for which I am thankful.  I am thankful for my family, my health, my life.  I am fortunate enough to have the ability to spout off about the mundane and the interesting.  I try to remind myself on a regular basis how lucky I am.  I try not to sit and lament any negatives in my life because really, how bad is my life?  It isn’t.  In fact, it’s pretty darn good.

I LOVE the foods of Thanksgiving.  Though I love some of the traditional foods of the holiday, I also love to explore the traditional ingredients in new ways.  This year is no exception.  Below is a my 2014 Thanksgiving plan.  It may or may not work out the way I imagine it, but nonetheless, here is a great menu:

Salad: Escarole and Brussels Sprout Salad (Food and Wine)

Bread: Parker House Rolls (Food and Wine)


Stuffing: Smoky Chorizo Stuffing (Food and Wine)

Ripping’ Good Potatoes


Simple Cranberry Relish


1 bag fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked over

1 naval orange, quartered

1/4 – 1 cup cane sugar (I like it tart, so I use as little sugar as possible)


1. Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender.  Pulse until you reach the consistency you desire.


I plan on following a traditional recipe and using les herbs de Provence, EVOO and garlic.

Though there will only be 5 of us this year, we bought a 15lb bird.  I’ll be posting a post that will include recipes for left over turkey.  I have found a couple that look promising.

Gravy (Food and Wine)


Pecan Pie Bars (Food and Wine)


Red Wine: La Crema, Sonoma, Pinot Noir

White Wine: Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc (I’ll be the lone white wine drinker)

Meatless Monday: Gluten-Free Pumpkin Ginger Cupcakes

Pumpkin-Ginger Cupcakes with Mascarpone with Salty Caramel A130730 Food & Wine + Alternative Baking + Sang Yoon's Thanksgiving Cons NOV 2013

Photo from Food and Wine.com

I have been experimenting with lots of Gluten-Free recipes.  Some are spectacular.  Some are not so spectacular.  With all of the gluten that we are going to be eating on Thanksgiving Day, I thought I might as well look at some gluten-free options for desserts.  I’m also working on a gluten free post so stay tuned for that!  What do you know, Food and Wine.com send an email with several yummy looking gluten free Thanksgiving dessert ideas.  I decided to try these out and they are quite good.  I’ll be sending these with Ryan to work but I don’t think they’ll mind.

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Ginger Cupcakes



6 ounces mascarpone, at room temperature
6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
3 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup white rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups pure pumpkin puree
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
1/4 cup chopped or sliced crystallized ginger, for garnish (optional)


1. MAKE THE FROSTING In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the mascarpone and cream cheese until smooth. Add the confectioners’ sugar and beat until incorporated. Beat in the vanilla. Cover and refrigerate the frosting until it is firm enough to spread, about 1 hour.
2. MEANWHILE, MAKE THE CUPCAKES Preheat the oven to 350°. Line 16 muffin cups with paper liners. In a large bowl, whisk the rice flour with the tapioca flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg. In a medium bowl, whisk the brown sugar with the granulated sugar, vegetable oil and eggs. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk until smooth; whisk in the pumpkin puree.
Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups. Bake for about 25 minutes, until the cupcakes spring back when gently pressed. Transfer the cupcakes to a rack and let cool completely.
3. MAKE THE CARAMEL In a medium saucepan, spread the sugar evenly and cook over moderately low heat, shaking the pan to keep the sugar in an even layer. Cook, swirling the saucepan occasionally, until the sugar is melted and a deep-amber caramel forms. Slowly add the cream (be careful, the caramel will boil vigorously) and cook, whisking, until smooth. Transfer the caramel to a heatproof bowl and stir in the salt. Let cool to room temperature.
Frost the cupcakes and drizzle with the caramel sauce. Garnish with the crystallized ginger and serve.

NOTE: MAKE AHEAD The unfrosted cupcakes can be stored overnight in an airtight container at room temperature. The caramel can be refrigerated for up to 1 week; rewarm before using.


The World is Made for Families of Four

DISCLAIMER: I feel everyone should have the number of kids they feel they can handle and afford.

With that said, I don’t want anymore kids and I wish people would stop looking at my two boys and asking: “Don’t you want to try for a girl?”


Children aren’t boats, or shoes, or paintings.  They take care, maintenance, money, time, and emotional support.  I can barely handle the two that I have.  Why on earth would I want to add to that?  Why would I want to start over…AGAIN?

“Oh, once you get past two, its not that big of a deal.”  This is a human being we’re talking about right?  So, if I were to add to the mayhem, I would be again telling Chase that we can’t go to place A because “the baby” has to take a nap at 9 am.  And I would have to tell Andrew that he needs to be quiet because “the baby” is napping.

Besides, the world is made for families of four.  My brother wisely said that when I was pregnant with Chase.  He’s right.  If we had another one, here’s the list of things we’d have to add to our lives:

Larger house, with another bedroom

I'm not sure what Andrew is trying to do here.

I’m not sure what Andrew is trying to do here.

Larger car, with room for another child

Another carseat

Another college fund

The list goes on and on.

The fifth wheel would be left out on:

roller coasters

doubles tennis

high speed quad chair lifts

readily available 4 top tables at restaurants

The fifth wheel would have to sleep on a roll-away if there were no other rooms available at hotel.  That’s no life!

I also feel like we’ve been so lucky so far with healthy happy kiddos that I wouldn’t want to take a chance with something going wrong.  My advanced maternal age puts me into the high risk category.  I think our family is doing fine.  I’m ready to move out of the baby stages and ride roller coasters, take surfing lessons, go to movies at the theatre and not worry so much about schedules, nap times and diapers.

I come from a large blended family.  I love the chaos and mayhem that ensue when we all get together.  But, I also love our little family unit.  I like the fact that Ryan and I can each take a child and divide and conquer to get things done.  I have thoroughly enjoyed each stage so far and I look forward to seeing how these lads develop.


Meatless Monday: Vegan Pumpkin Pie


2013 – Chase is quite excited about dessert at Thanksgivakuh.

Pumpkin pie is a staple starting in October. I could eat it every day. One Thanksgiving we hosted and some of our guests were vegan. I wasn’t sure how I would handle turkey Fest that year but it turned out to be quite simple to convert all but two recipes to vegan friendly recipes: turkey and gravy. I was most daunted by the pumpkin pie. Amazingly, I found a recipe and I’ll let you in on a little secret, it’s better than traditional pumpkin pie. I’ve been making it every year, ever since!

There are several options on the crust: traditional, ginger snap (use 10-15 ginger snaps crushed and mixed with 2-3 Tbsp coconut oil then press into pie dishing bake for 10-15 minutes at 400), pumpkin roll out cookie dough. I’ve used the first two and this year I’m going to try the pumpkin roll out cookie dough from a previous post.  As you can see from the picture of Chase, I did mini pumpkin pies in a muffin tin.  In addition to the pumpkin pies, I made a pecan pie and my MIL made her delicious cranberry pie, which is quite tasty with bleu cheese sprinkled on top.

Vegan Pumpkin Pie

2 3/4 cups pumpkin purée
2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup vegan cream cheese
1 1/4 cup raw cashews, soaked

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine vegan cream cheese, cashews, cinnamon, 1tsp salt, and maple syrup. Purée until smooth. Reserve 1/2 cup and set aside. Leave the remaining mixture in the food processor.
2. Add pumpkin, vanilla, remaining spices, remaining salt and sugar. Purée until creamy.
3. Fill prepared pie dish with filling and smooth with a spoon. Swirl reserved cashew/cream cheese mixture into pie dish.
4. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes and the lower the temperature to 350 degrees and bake additional 20-30 minutes. Bake longer to achieve a more cheese cake-like consistency and less for a more custard-like consistency. Chill in the refrigerator after cooling completely. Enjoy!


My House Smells Like Morning Breath

We all have colds.  We have had colds for the last month.  I wake up in the morning with a head full of phlegm.  I wake up because I

Chase has always been a mouth breather.  We think it is because he was born in PA.

Chase has always been a mouth breather. We think it is because he was born in PA.

can hear my mouth breathing 4 year old down the hallway.  I go through the motions of waking up, taking my pill, pouring my coffee and turning on Morning Joe before making breakfast and lunches for Chase, every day and Andrew on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.  When I get back from dropping them off at school, I walk in the door to get a few things done before my Barre 3 class and the smell hits me: morning breath.  As a person affected greatly by smells, the stench almost knocks me over.  How could it be?

My house is relatively clean. I vacuum every other day.  I dust when I see it, sometimes.  The kitchen is always getting a wipe down and the bathrooms get cleaned once a week.  I quickly open both the front and back doors and get a crosswind going.  Now that it has finally cooled down in Tucson, it is quite pleasant.  I change the sheets on the beds and and mop so that any remaining morning breath particles are eliminated.
The truth is, we are all mouth breathing snot boxes with colds. After 8 hours of open mouth respiration and recirculated air, we’re living in a house that almost smells worse than the bathroom in an airport.

My question is, why did the smell last so long?


Meatless Monday: Mark Bittman’s Autumn Millet Bake

The Finished Product

The Finished Product

For one reason or another, this didn’t post on Monday.  My apologies.  Enjoy!

Had enough candy?  I’ll say yes for the moment.  My in-laws were in town and we had a very successful Halloween party.  They took Chase trick or treating while I waited and waited for the trick or treaters who never made it to my house.  I had a cauldron full of candy. A cauldron!  I also had a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc so the night wasn’t a total loss.

We also went out to dinner at Kingfisher and Fleming’s on Saturday and Sunday nights respectively.  So, needless to say, I am ready for a vegan feast.  And a vegan feast I shall have tonight.  I’ve made this recipe and it is cooking as I type.  I’ll pair it with steamed broccolini and salad.


Mark Bittman’s Autumn MIllet Bake

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus oil for the dish
3/4 cup millet
1 medium butternut or other winter squash or 1 small pumpkin, peeled seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup fresh cranberries
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon minced sage leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
1 cup vegetable stock or water, warmed*
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds or coarsely chopped hazelnuts
Preheat the oven to 375F and grease a 2-quart casserole, a large gratin dish, or a 9×13-inch baking dish with olive oil.

Put 2 tablespoons of the oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the millet and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant and golden, about 3 minutes (hs note: don’t overdo it). Spread in the bottom of the prepared baking dish.

Scatter the squash or pumpkin cubes and the cranberries on top of the millet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and the sage and drizzle with syrup. Carefully pour the warmed stock over all (hs note: I did about 1/2 cup stock & 1/2 cup cream based on one of his variations). Cover tightly with foil and bake without disturbing, for 1 hour.

Carefully uncover and turn the oven to 400F. As discreetly as possible, sneak a taste and adjust the seasoning. If it looks too dry, add a spoonful or two of water or stock. (hs note: This is key! The millet should be close to being cooked through at this point, if not you need to add liquid and keep it moist and cooking – I used another 1/4 cup+ of stock here). Sprinkle the pumpkin seeds on top, and return the dish to the oven. Bake until the mixture bubbles and the top is browned (hs note: and the millet is cooked through), another 10 minutes or so. Serve piping hot or at room temperature (hs note: drizzled with the remaining olive oil if you like).

Serves 4 to 6.


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