Winter Favorites

Hard to believe it's already the close of 2017.  This holiday season flew by, and a new year is just around the corner!  Any big plans for New Year's Eve?  I personally am a big fan of NOT doing anything on this holiday, just because everywhere is busy, crowded, and overrun with people.  We're likely playing this new game with my sister, brother-in-law, and my parents after the kids go to bed.  While we're anticipating 2018, here are some things I've been loving lately...Happy New Year!

+ just started The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon Prime and loving it so far

+ saw Lady Bird in the theatre last weekend, it's fantastic, and packed with lots of great early 2000's throwback music, fashion, and the like

+ made these slow cooker chicken mole tacos the other night, pretty tasty

+ powered through The Crown season 2, I think it was even better than the first!

+ this book is amazing!!! Highly recommend!

+ soaking up all the wisdom from Brene Brown via audiobook

+ been playing this sleuthing fox game with my daughter 


Last Great Book I Read

This!  Easily my top pick for 2017 undoubtedly one of top 5 favorite books ever, a title I don't give lightly.  Celeste Ng is a masterful storyteller.  This is a story of three families dwelling in the idyllic suburb of Cleveland, Shaker Heights.  The town is beloved for its preplanned nature; carefully mapped neighborhoods, orchestrated to be functional while aesthetically pleasing, even down to the paint color.  Hand in hand with its predictability is the perfect parks, friendly businesses, and foundational schools, which aim to produce a consistent output of successful future residents.

Embodying this spirit more than anyone is Elena Richardson, mother of four children, whose virtue is playing by the rules, her family a postcard of Leave it to Beaver perfection. Enter Mia and Pearl Warren, new tenants of the Richardsons whose single-mother status alone flags the antithesis of Shaker Heights convention.  Mia is a gifted artist with a mysterious past and Pearl, her kind, intelligent teenage daughter is drawn to the perfection that the Richardsons exude, having never lived a life as stable as they.  Then there's the McCulloughs, dear friends of the Richardsons who endeavor to adopt a Chinese-American baby, when a custody battle ensues, pitting Mia and Elena against on opposite sides. It's hard to elaborate much more without giving away significant plot lines, so I'll leave it at that...

However, may I say,  Celeste Ng is a truly gifted writer.  Her characters are cultivated with such depth and intimacy, their stories woven together into an immense, intricate, complicated fabric... I was so sad for this book to end.  One of those books you want to reread and wish it anew, just to experience the story again for the first time. 

I'll leave you with this quote, which resonated with me so soundly, I found myself rereading it over and over again, wondering how she was able to capture such a feeling in words.

“To a parent, your child wasn’t just a person: your child was a place, a kind of Narnia, a vast eternal place where the present you were living and the past you remembered and the future you longed for all existed at once.  You could see it every time you looked at her: layered in her face was the baby she’d been and the child she’d become and the adult she would grow up to be, and you saw them all simultaneously like a 3-D image.  It made your head spin.  It was a place you could take refuge, if you knew how to get in.  And each time you left it, each time your child passed out of your sight, you feared you might never be able to return to that place again."
p. 122


Quote of the Week

“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.”

Henry David Thoreau


Quote of the Week

"Life is now. There was never a time when your life was not now, nor will there ever be."

― Eckhart Tolle

Friday Fun

Hello out there.  Anyone still here?  In this space?  Some days I wonder.  Long gone are the days of 2008 and 2009 when a post would garner 5-10 comments. I'm guilty of it too.  I used to comment on all my blog friends posts, but then...what, laziness?  That's the only excuse I can muster.  Playing the tired mama card?  While tried and true, it feels a bit depressing.  I wish we'd get back to the days of commenting and connecting in the blog world, it was such fun at its peak.

+ time magazine's "person of the year" is a group of women known as the silence breakers, voices of the women who stood together against harvey weinstein and others

+ are we living in a world making kids too safe to succeed?

+ did you hear?  Patagonia is suing Donald Trump after his Dec. 4 announcement to shrink two Utah national monuments

+ the wholehearted parenting manifesto, because brene brown, enough said

+ if I could do a second honeymoon, I might follow her itinerary, africa on anyone else's bucket list these days?

+ kind of obsessed with this bag, what is it about charging for guacamole these days?

+ this post has me wanting to visit boston at Christmas time

+ if you're in for pie crust inspiration - these are works of art!

+ wouldn't mind sipping on this naughty + nice cinnamon hot toddy

What are you up to this weekend?

Dinner Last Night: Slow Cooker Butternut-Apple Soup with Crispy Leeks

Continuing on my dairy-free, and mostly gluten-free journey, I've been seeking out good soup alternatives as the weather gets chilly.  Historically I'd be all about a great cream-based or baked potato soup (yummm!), but, for the time being, I'm shelving those cravings and looking forward to healthier alternatives.  This Butternut-Apple Soup with Crispy Leeks is from the Skinnytaste: Fast and Slow cookbook (which I highly recommend).  It's sooo crazy simple!  You can dress it up or down, I've made it with frozen butternut squash, and apple with skin on it, and a yellow onion - although leeks does elevate it a touch.  All you need is an immersion blender or food processor to blend the final product, and voila!

  • 2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
  • 1 leek (white parts only), rinsed well and roughly chopped
  • 1 medium Granny Smith apple, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, roughly chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth*
  • 1/2 cup canned coconut milk
  • For garnish:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3/4 cup thinly sliced leeks (white parts only), rinsed well
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Coconut milk, for drizzling (optional)
  • *Read the label to be sure this product is gluten-free.

  • Cooking Directions
  • For the soup:
    Place the squash, leek, apple, carrot, and broth in a slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8 hours, until the squash is soft and cooked through.
    Stir the coconut milk into the soup mixture. Puree the soup in the cooker with an immersion blender until smooth (or in a stand blender, in batches).
    For the garnish:
    Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Add the oil and leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and crisp, about 10 minutes. Season with the salt.
    To serve, pour the soup into 6 serving bowls and garnish with the crispy leeks. If desired, drizzle with a little coconut milk.
  • image/abcnews
  • The Big Sick

    Have you seen The Big Sick?  While I'm not well versed in the movies trending in 2017, if there was ever a movie to watch, this is it (bonus, it's currently free with Amazon Prime).

    Based on the true story of Kumail Nanjiani (you might recognize from HBO's Silicon Valley) and his now wife Emily, Pakistan-born comedian Kumail and grad student Emily Gardner fall into love when neither are looking for it.  Kumail is close with his family but does not believe in many of the facets of his Muslim upbringing, namely praying and arranged marriage.  His parents are skeptical of his career choice as a comedian, and continue to invite a revolving door of suitable Pakistani women to dinner in the hopes of enticing him into arranged marriage.  

    As Emily and Kumail's relationship begins to falter as a result of their cultures clashing, Emily contracts a mysterious illness, ending up in a medically induced coma.  Kumail finds himself face to face with her feisty parents (who he's never met prior), his family's expectations, and his true feelings for Emily.

    This movie was so poignant, honest, and real.  You see the characters imperfections and vulnerability which I think makes them all the more appealing and relatable. Ray Romano and Holly Hunter shine as Emily's parents, who are vary wary of Kumail, though find connection as Emily's hospital stay ensues.  

    I really cannot say enough good things, I loved it.  You might too.

    Fall Favorites

    I keep meaning for this to be a monthly post, but the month-to-month format has me constantly feeling behind, hence, switching the titles of these posts to seasonal or just for fun recent favorites.

    + this awesome hair styling cream for all the days you don't blow dry your hair (read: everyday)

    + I've adopted the first two steps of Clare Lyons' beauty uniform and my skin feels amazing and noticeably more smooth amazing!

    + Stranger Things 2 on Netflix.  Have you seen it?? Soooo good, and I don't usually like sci-fi, science fiction, monster-type shows.

    + And while we're watching Netflix, if you need a political drama, have you watched Madam Secretary?  I love Tea Leoni and Tim Daly's chemistry (did you know they're together in real life?).

    + this gluten-free pumpkin pancake mix at Trader Joe's...the best!

    + these vegan/paleo coconut butter cups (I'm partial to mint cream)

    What are your favorite things this fall?

    Podcast Love: The Rewatchables

    Something you may not know about me, I take my podcasts very seriously.  Since I have discovered this amazing medium, I have devoured hours upon hours of content.  My current playlist hosts a plethora of topics; politics, happiness, parenting, movies, love stories, and more.  Hence, I consider myself a podcast connoisseur - if you will...  Thus, here commences a new series, affectionately and perhaps tentatively entitled, "podcast love."

    Something else you may not know about me, I love rewatching old movies.  If I like a movie, I'll likely watch it again.  Whether it's the good old days of rewatching on TNT or AMC, or the current times we live in via Amazon Prime or Netflix, I do enjoy watching familiar favorites from the comfort of my cozy couch.
    Which is why the concept of The Rewatchables intrigued me, a multi-hosted debriefing of some of my favorite movies?  Yes, please!  

    Each episode is about 45 minutes long, and hosted by 2-3 people (hosts change depending on movie type).  There is a familiar format that I appreciate; debriefing other actors and actresses that were up for the part, favorite scenes, notable lines, what parts of the movie have aged the best/worst since it's inception, what would be different if they made this movie today, etc. etc.  

    So far, I've listened to the episodes for You've Got Mail, Clueless, The Departed, and Jerry Maguire.  If you consider yourself a rewatcher - I highly recommend you check out their list and check it out!

    Nicholos Cleves

    This article. Man, does it deserve a read.  In the wake of all this senseless gun violence in the United States this fall, it's hard not to feel helpless, overwhelmed, anxious, deeply afraid, and devastated.

    One thing that always comes to my mind is how quickly the news cycle moves on, jerking the spotlight away from those who were directly impacted.  The dead.  The wounded.  Why don't we ever hear about the wounded?  They may not have died in the tragedy, but their lives were forever changed.

    For all of the nameless, faceless people that our world quantifies in numbered headlines, "26 dead," "9 dead," etc...these individuals who may not have been important people in your life, but are important people to somebody, this article sheds remembers the gift and circumstance of one man among many, someone who died too young, and is remembered by his heartbroken friends.

    Weekend Baking: Birthday Cake (Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

    Was channeling my inner domestic goddess this weekend as I made two birthday cakes from scratch for my son's birthday party.  For the majority of our gluten and dairy eating guests - my son included, I made this delicious chocolate cake which is my go-to for birthdays, topped with this peanut butter frosting.

    Since my best friend was in town (who's been GF/DF for years) and not wanting to miss out on the cake festivities myself, I made this gluten and dairy free chocolate cake with coconut cream frosting (note: recipe reads as vegan, but I subbed 4 flax eggs with 4 eggs).  Not trying to toot my own horn, but the cake was pretty delicious!  Highly recommend for anyone with dietary restrictions that just wants a real honest to goodness moist and flavorful chocolate cake that tastes like chocolate cake!

    Friday Fun

    It's the weekend!!  What a gorgeous week it's been in the Seattle area, crisp blue, cloudless skies, and the vibrant fall colors bursting on the trees, just beginning to carpet the ground.  My favorite time of year!  This weekend we're hosting friends for a little birthday party and friend gathering to celebrate our little guy's 2nd birthday, and other than that, planning to get outside to enjoy a lovely fall weekend!

    + Did you know Bill Gates and Steve Jobs raised their kids tech-free?

    + the aftermath of a canceled wedding

    + For Washingtonians, many recyclables are ending up in landfills - here's why

    + more than 800 people have been shot to death since the Las Vegas massacre...

    + if you've had a rough day, or read too many articles like the one above and just need a little laugh, watch this lip sync battle (if you don't have time for the whole clip, start at the 4:00 mark, Paul Rudd is hilarious!)

    + the return of Stranger Things! anyone else watching this weekend?


    September Favorites

    + nutpods dairy/gluten-free, whole 30 approved coffee creamer

    + these handy dandy name labels for my kids clothing and supplies

    + la la land and hidden figures (both now on HB0 streaming)

    + speaking of movies, have you seen captain fantastic, so, so good! (streaming on amazon prime)

    + reading a bunch of chic lit "beach reads" by this author, so far my favorites are the perfect match, waiting on you, and anything for you

    + this "pizza" spaghetti casserole (paleo, gluten/dairy free)

    + this Ed Sheeran song...swoon

    Weeknight Baking: Chocolate Zucchini Bread (Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Vegan)

    While our summer garden is fading fast, we recently picked the few remaining zucchini off the vine, and with no other plans for the produce, we opted to make zucchini bread!  My daughter made chocolate zucchini bread at a cooking camp this summer, and has been eager to replicate the recipe in our own kitchen ever since. Thus, my little sous chef and I decided to make this delicious chocolate zucchini bread together.  While it wasn't quite her recipe, she did enjoy grating the zucchini, sifting the cocoa powder, and stirring the various ingredients into the batter.

    The recipe listed is vegan, but I substituted 3 eggs for the flax eggs listed, and it turned out just fine; moist, flavorful, and oh-so-chocolatey.  You really can't tell there's any zucchini in this bread, and it was sure was delicious!


    Frustrated, saddened, devastated, angered.  Again.  This keeps happening.  As if Sandy Hook wasn't enough.  No one needs to own an automatic assault rifle.  Look where it has gotten the United States.  We can change this, we need to change this now. Look at Australia who took strides in changing their gun laws.  If you feel helpless, confused, and want to do something, I encourage you to become a member of Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action and contribute your support to this fight. And read this.

    Feeling all the emotions today.  My heart and thoughts are with the victims and their families.


    I've found that a key marker of a good book is one where eager anticipation of what is to come supersedes schedules, priorities, and healthy sleep habits.  This may also the marker of a good TV show.  One where you are itching to find out what happens next, wide awake despite the late hour, and feel paralyzed when the screen casually rolls into the next episode and you agreeably, willingly follow along.

    This is Atypical.  While I was sad that it was only 8 episodes, this show is well rounded, and on the whole, an insightful and heartwarming comedy about one individual's life in high school with autism. Meet Sam Gardner, a quirky, Antarctic obsessed high school senior with high functioning autism.  The show invites us into Sam's little world, giving the viewer insight into how he thinks, what he feels, and how certain situations downright frustrate him and why. In addition to navigating the daily challenges of high school life, Sam triumphantly decides that he is ready to start dating and acquire a girlfriend.  However, this turns out more challenging than his research suggests, and Sam finds himself completely unequipped and perplexed on how to date.

    The cast is excellent, Bridgette Lundy-Paine shines as Sam's blunt, often abrasive younger sister Casey, who is equally annoyed and protective of her older brother.  Sam's dad, Doug, is earnest, frank, and likable.  As the show develops, we learn how he's struggled to connect meaningfully with his son, having attempted many times, only to be rebuffed as his efforts - while genuine - did not resonate with Sam. As the show unfolds, they soon turn a corner as Sam begins to see his dad as the most suitable candidate to dole out advice on how to get a girlfriend.  With this shift of parental involvement and trust, Sam's mom, Elsa, (played by Jennifer Jason Leigh, my least favorite character in the series) finds herself in the throws of a mid-life crisis as she struggles to understand her identity apart from being Sam's advocate and mom.  The cast is well rounded with strong supporting characters such as Sam's friend Zahid, his friend and co-worker at the electronics store is ever present with string of cheesy one-liners and sage advice to pick up girls.  Also likable is Casey's persistent friend turned love interest, Evan, who wears her down with his affable, stoner charm.

    While I recognize that this show doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of what it is like to live with autism, I think it's a good place to begin a dialogue about autism and educate oneself.  Having worked in the public school system as a paraeducator and teacher for many years, I myself have taught many students on the autism spectrum,  and while it is important to note that while no two students with autism are the same, I recognize attributes, language, and mannerisms of former students in Sam.  I was pleasantly surprised at how heartwarming the story is, while being sensitive to the challenges that may come with parenting, and being a friend, and sibling to a child with atypical needs.  

    If you haven't yet, go check out Atypical.  It's worth a watch!

    This post is part of my partnership with Netflix where I share what my family and I are watching each month on our favorite streaming platform. All thoughts and opinions are my own.  #StreamTeam


    Lovely Little Reads: Rosie Revere, Engineer

    What can I say, I love Andrea Beaty's rhythmic rhyming text! I genuinely enjoy reading Rosie Revere, Engineer aloud on repeat at bedtime (much more than some of my daughter's other favorites like the cloying Pinkalicious, do not get me started!). Beaty's text makes the reader's voice rise and fall with such vivacious intonation and momentum, it is truly a joyful read aloud experience. 

    Not to mention the message! Failure is okay? Normal? You mean, everyone makes mistakes? Everyone?! And then gets up and keeps going? Amen! 

    I can only hope that Andrea Beaty will go on to create books for all of the colorful characters in Miss Lila Greer's class (as she has done with Iggy Peck, Architect and Ada Twist, Scientist) and deliver to us more whimsical, upbeat stories about the kid superpowers of curiosity, creativity, and discovery. 

    P.S. Go check out my other recommendations on my instagram page!


    School Lunches Around the World

    Ever wondered what school lunches look around the world?  Here's a glimpse....most look pretty delicious, and you may notice that one of these things is not like the other.  Can you guess what country that might be?  Sigh...

    Where would you most like to eat lunch?  My vote is Greece!


    Weeknight Baking: Pumpkin Bread (Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

    One of my biggest cravings this time of year is pumpkin bread.  I love it, I love it!  Pumpkiny goodness wrapped up in a delicious bread?  Sign me up.  Now, with some dietary changes, it was necessary to find a suitable gluten and dairy free alternative.  

    This recipe is also written as vegan, but I have no problem eating eggs, so I substituted 3 eggs for the flax eggs listed.  It was delicious, moist, and flavorful, we gobbled it all up within one and a half days. Will definitely be making this again very soon!

    Workouts for the Tired Mama

    Hello out there!  What's new with you?  We had a lovely weekend, went apple picking, that was a first!  My kids love it, though truth be told, my son was probably more excited about climbing bales of hay than the actual picking of apples, but hey, what can you do?  We gathered a heaping bushel of apples, and have applesauce brewing in the crockpot this morning.

    In other news, I've begun exercising again!  Woohoo!  It only took me, well...a really long time! Granted, this is not the first time I've resumed working out after the birth of my second child, but my exercise regiment has definitely been slightly intermittent and erratic (to say the least).

    Part of this renewed excitement is thanks to some Wireless On-Ear Headphones my dad gave me for Christmas which somehow make running that much more enjoyable, and partly due to my new fitness program and motivator, Aaptiv.  Have you heard of it?  First off, it's like no other fitness program I've encountered, starting with the initial fact that it's an app.  Yes, this app is your ticket to a variety of workouts for all sorts of interests; traditional indoor training, outdoor activities like biking, running, strength training, even cardio and yoga.  They even have maternity workouts, ideal for the mom adjusting to her pre and post natal body.

    As a mom of two young kiddos, I love the convenience of this format, because I never quite know when I'll be able to squeeze a workout in.  The app is ideal for the on-the-go individual, so I can literally grab my phone and go.  And of course, since I'm often wearing workout clothes anyway, the flexibility and independence of this app really makes it a win-win.  No syncing up to a streaming workout on your TV (which in my case is usually delayed due to to spotty internet), and definitely no driving to the gym, only to arrive and realize you are too exhausted to workout.  Because yes, that has happened before...

    My personal favorite Aaptiv channel has been the running workouts, which offers interval training, from steady jogs following the beat to miles of mashups, synced to energetic playlists to get your steps in stride.  This has been ideal for the mom in me, trying to get back to my peak running shape with the support of audio motivation guidance from virtual trainers.

    Need to try it for yourself, I don't blame you.  Download the Aaptiv app and start exploring these workouts today with a free 30-day trial.  Enter the code BURPEES for a free 30-day trial!


    Quote of the Week

    "Autumn seemed to arrive suddenly that year.  The morning of the first September was crisp and golden as an apple."

    ~ J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows


    Dinner Last Night: Collard Wrap Spring Rolls with "Peanut" Sauce (Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

    I've been gluten and dairy free for a little shy of three weeks now, and feeling pretty good.  So good in fact, that I've decided to up my recipe game on the blog, are clearly label "gluten free" and "dairy free" recipes to make these more accessible in my archives (should anyone be looking).

    This recipe for collard wrap spring rolls with "peanut" sauce was a huge hit and I'm here to announce that collard greens are excellent for edible wrapping.  Who would've thought? I typically do recipes in butter lettuce, but after blanching the collard greens (sans step) they were just a tad softer, malleable, and foldable.  These spring roll style wraps folded up nicely, had a pleasant crunch, and flavor.  I actually ended up forgetting to include the avocado and cucumber by accident, and they still turned out delicious.  Note: you can also "cheat" like I did and just cook your chicken breast in a can of coconut milk in the crockpot instead of taking the extra step to poach.

    Dinner Last Night: Harvest Roast Chicken with Grapes, Olives, and Rosemary (Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

    After about a month of unexplained stomach pain, I've been gluten and dairy free for two plus weeks now, and am feeling pretty good about it!  Sure, it was hard to cut the cream in my coffee and bread, oh, how I do love bread...but so far, I'm feeling excited and invigorated by the abundance of grain and dairy free recipes available out there, especially with the recent popularity of Whole30.

    Dinner last night was Smitten Kitchen's harvest roast chicken with olives, grapes, and rosemary.  For all you skeptics, the grapes and olives pair amazingly well together.  Salty + sweet at its best.  Served with some grilled zucchini from our garden seasoned with lemon juice and table salt.  Delicious!


    August Favorites (late as per usual...)

    Man, I'm having a hard time keeping up with my monthly favorites.  It's now over a week into September, and here comes the August favorites rolling in, fashionably--er, maybe just plain ol' late!

    Oh, well...

    + enjoying egg roll in a bowl for dinner

    + currently reading Rich People Problems (the third book in the Crazy Rich Asians series, so far the first was by far the best)

    + watching Atypical on Netflix - especially for all m">y teacher friends out there, I highly recommend, I REALLY enjoyed this show (follow up post to follow)

    + listening to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban on audiobook (Jim Dale the narrator is amazing at doing all the voices)

    + this month also watched streaming movies Burnt and Moonlight

    What have you been enjoying this month?


    Friday Fun

    Hello, hello.  Happy Friday!  It's been quite a week here.  First, we celebrated my daughter's birthday, and since then we've kind of been hunkered down inside due to the thick smoke and falling ash from the local wildfires.  The sun is this fuzzy orange ball, visible through the veils of haze, making the sky a strange off-white grey.  Didn't think I'd say this, but we are ready for rain! We're continuing to pray for those families affected and hoping the fires subside very soon.

    Also, praying those also affected by Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma.  We donated to the Texas Diaper Bank to support families with young kids in Houston displaced by flooding (did you know that diapers are not included in disaster relief supplies?).  Other great organizations which could always use support include the American Red Cross, Houston Humane Society, and AABB, a task force to manage blood collection efforts.

    + the perfect bathtub caddy (with a place to balance a book and glass of wine!)

    + have you heard of this app, it freezes a kid's phone util they reply to a text!  (created by a parent, of course!)

    + true or false? amazon prime members will get discounts at whole foods?  please?  pretty please?

    + looking to try these kid-friendly moo shu chicken wraps next week

    + this kyoto travel guide has me missing Japan

    + do you use face oils?  I have in the past but thinking of giving it another go


    Cookbook Crush: Turkish Fire

    I recently listened to the audiobook for At Home in the World, a memoir by simplicity guru Tsh Oxenreider about spending one year traveling the world with her husband and three kids.  This book is lovely in every sense of the word; eye opening, inspiring, and brutally honest, recounting the good the bad, and the hard of globetrotting together as a family of five.  

    Listening to this book, as Tsh recounts how she and her husband met - volunteering in a remote village in war torn Kosovo - you can see how their love of travel began.  As they move east to west, beginning in Beijing, China and ending in London, England, with several continents in between, Tsh takes you along for a front row seat on their global adventure.   One poignant stop of their itinerary is the city of Izmir, Turkey, where Tsh and her husband lived for three years with their young children. Previously, I had never considered Turkey as a destination worth visiting, however, this chapter definitely put Turkey, and all things Turkish, on my radar.

    She explains the tea culture that is almost a religion in itself, the freshness of the milk, the eggs yolks as orange as sunsets, and produce so fresh it must be consumed within a day of purchase, or else succumb to rotting in the hot coastal heat.  Her recounting of perusing their familiar bazaar, and enjoying succulent roasted meats family style meal is enough to make anyone's stomach growl - and I wouldn't even consider myself a meat person.

    Inspired by her detailed snapshot of Turkish food, I looked up "Turkish cookbooks" on my local library's web page and came across, Turkish Fire: Street Food and Barbecue from the Wild Heart of Turkey which narrates and explains the Turkish street food scene in lovely narrative detail.  While I have yet to purchase the book or make any of the recipes, it's on my bookmark list for a (hopefully near) return visit.


    Quote of the Week

    "The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts."
    ~ C.S. Lewis


    What Are You Reading?

    What are you reading these days?  Recently I've found myself falling into a rabbit hole of parenting books, and reading them consecutively one after another is exhausting...I'm ready for a good old fashion novel.  Better yet, a beach read!  Any suggestions out there?

    I've also recently been "rereading" Harry Potter via audiobook when driving, which has been a nice change of pace.  I recently downloaded another one, Blood, Bones, and Butter, which I've already listened to by audiobook years ago (read about that here), but it was just that good a memoir, so I decided it was worth another go.

    So please, tell me!  What are you reading?  I need some recs ASAP!  Thanks in advance :) 

    Documentary Pick: Find Me

    I find myself watching a lot of documentaries these days, a genre I never had much interest in before becoming a parent.  Perhaps it's just that now movies garnering less press or fanfare are simply more accessible with streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu, among others.

    I recently read about the documentary, Find Me on another blog, and my husband and I watched it last night.  It's a film about the varying aspects of Chinese adoption, including three families who have adopted children from China, as well as the foster families who cared for the children, after they were found and placed in orphanages.

    One of the concepts focused on in the film is a child's "finding place."  Literally, the location or address where they were surrendered and "found," before being placed in an orphanage.  As I learned, a finding place can have tremendous significance for the family adopting, to actually touch the ground where their now child was surrendered, some commonly abandoned for medical or health related reasons, for example the family being unable to provide adequate care or fund necessary treatments.  

    Another aspect of the film focused on the "find me," aspect, how social media is helping many children find families who would otherwise be at risk of aging out of the Chinese orphanage system.  

    Ultimately, this film resonated with me in many ways.  One of my close high school friends was adopted from Korea, and I grew up with several friends with younger siblings that were adopted internationally.  I feel humbled and ignorant now, recognizing how little I knew about that experience and what an emotional, transformative journey it likely was for their families.  

    On a personal level, while not an adoption persay, my grandfather was an orphan, left on the steps of the New York Foundling Hospital when he was just days old.  He and his younger sister (who were identified as related by handwritten note left upon surrender) bounced through twelve foster homes by the time my grandfather was nine.  Inevitably, they did not find a forever family, and he ran away at sixteen, though he likely would have aged out of the system. 

    This film is about the human experience, and it's heartbreaking and both heartwarming in many ways.  Regardless of your position on the subject, I'd recommend this film.  Find Me was a glimpse at a whole world I was not aware of, and has given me with a lot to think about.  

    Here is a link to a trailer for the film, as well as another film testimonial by blogger, Shay Shull, who adopted from the same Xi'an, China orphanage in the film. 

    This post is part of my partnership with Netflix where I share what my family and I are watching each month on our favorite streaming platform. All thoughts and opinions are my own.  #StreamTeam

    July Favorites (a few days late)

    Phew...we have definitely been enjoying our summer days, but I feel like in a blink, it's August already!  For my teacher friends and I, the dawn of August has always been synonymous with one long Sunday night.  Kind of an Eeyore sentiment, I realize, but even so, the association runs deep. August marks the end of this fleeting, lovely summer season, and the brink of school lies just ahead on the horizon.  Thus, now we're full speed ahead to relish what's left of summer!

    + sipping a lot of lacroix sparkling water in coconut and canteloupe-grapefruit, yum!

    + also, trader joe's wine, in particular - vintjs pinot noir rose

    + retiring with this amazing contoured sleep mask

     has inspired me to imagine a family trip around the world (I recommend the audiobook)

    + enjoying this camera + editing tutorial (I learned a thing or two!)

    + playing with my son's beloved souvenir from Disneyland

    + noshing on ridiculously good (and easy) summer salad

    + loving This Is How We Do It: One Day in the Lives of Seven Kids from around the World, a peek into daily life for seven families from Iran to Russia and beyond (speaking of books, do you follow my kids book instagram account yet?)

    what are you digging these days?

    Quote of the Week

    "Do not educate your children to be rich. Educate to be happy so when they grow up, they will know the value of things, not the price." 
    ~ Victor Hugo



     Have you ever been to Cornwall, England?  This is a region of England I wasn't too familiar with, and truth be told, was never much on my travel radar until this article in Bon Appetit magazine.  And now, after reading this article, in addition to rereading Joanna Goddard's nostalgic posts about vacationing on the Cornwall coast, I've definitely added it to my "must see" list.  The blustery bluffs, rocky beaches and salty sea, the abundance of fish and chips and English accents, just to name a few of my favorite things!

    Ever been?  Doesn't it sound quaint and lovely?

    What's a destination that you'd like to visit that was an unexpected addition to your list or somewhere that surprised you?


    Salad Savvy: Pea Prosciutto Salad

    I saw this in Bon Appetit a few months ago and bookmarked it for a later date.  Last week, I finally had the privilege and guys... So. Damn. Good.  I rarely crave a green salad unless it has a ton of stuff in it (nuts, seeds, fruit, cheese, crunchies...the works!).  As a result, I find that unusual salads really appeal to me, perhaps for creative mix of flavors, textures, and ingredients.  This pea, snap pea, prosciutto, and arugula salad was in a word - delightful!  Salty prosciutto, sweet peas and snap peas, bitter arugula, tangy mustard, and sour lemon juice, it may seem like a strange blend of ingredients, but it just works!


    Today Was A Good Day

    Today was a good day.

    Today there was sunshine.  Endless blue skies, not a raindrop in sight.  Pure, unadulterated spring sunshine.  “Cumulus clouds!” my daughter chirped excitedly.  “No stratus clouds today!”  I smile as I hear her recall snippets of my former first-grade-teacher-self.

    “Let’s walk to the library!” I announced triumphantly. Roughly a mile there and back, sky free of stratus clouds, why not?  I was feeling adventurous.  Eager break our afternoon rut and imprint a fond memory onto their tiny brains in lieu of yet another day playing Calico Critters dollhouse or watching a repeat letter of the day announcement on Sesame Street.  

    Just past the school we encountered the hill.  My out of shape mommy brain overcompensated the terrain of our expedition, it’s just a little hill I chided myself.  After all, this is a hill that rises and falls effortlessly when traversed by car, I barely register the extra horsepower in my Subaru.  Turns out, not the case by stroller-- correction, double stroller.  Two kids weighing 30 and 35 pounds respectively.  That and the five pounds of granola bars I packed in case of emergency suddenly felt like anchors as we began our ascent.  

    “Why are we going so slow?!” she whined.
    “Sweetie, this is a big hill,” I breathed, feeling my body comically move to a 90 degree angle against the handlebars in order to push us forward.  
    I imagined what passersby vehicles must be thinking.  Oh...come on! Is the stroller really that heavy?  I found myself silently wishing for a honk of encouragement, complimentary or otherwise.
    “Keep going Mommy, we’ve got a long way, this hill is still going!”
    “Uh huh,” I agreed, gulping in breaths, pushing us steadily upward as we summited our hill.
    My son gleefully kicked his dangling feet in the front seat, unperturbed by Mommy’s slow pace.  

    Once the hill plateaued, sweat perspiring on my forehead, I felt a surge of energy.  A renewed spirit and lightness of foot, despite my aching legs.  We came upon swarms of fat yellow dandelions sprouting up out of the pavement.  I could’ve kept moving, I could’ve rolled right by, but I felt the urge to stop and savor this moment.  Kicking on the stroller break, I knelt beside them, their eyes wide with curiosity as I gently picked a fluffy stalk for each.  Exhaling a full breath, I showed them how to blow the seeds into the wind and make a wish.  I smiled through staccato bursts of warm breath on my face, their seeds spiralling into the wind and each other's hair while making sweet silent toddler wishes.

    We made it to the library, swapped out our books and headed home, traversing the same path downhill and to our little local park.  I resisted the urge to pull out my phone and document,  shelving my desire to snap a photo or capture a brief video clip for my 1 Second Everyday montage.  

    Be present.  Be in this moment I reminded myself.  This is the real memory; not the one you captured in a screen. Memorize this, remember this.  The warmth of the sun in the late afternoon stratus-cloud-free sky. The overstuffed bottom compartment of our stroller, bursting with library books selected by sticky, chubby fingers.  The excited purse of little lips and focused faces blowing fuzzy dandelion seeds into the wind.  The delighted giggles as they slid down the slide together, side by side for the first time.

    Today was a good day.