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.