Holiday rehab

We are six days post-Christmas and I have been comforting myself with yoga and chocolate. It's not that I am saddened by the passing of Christmas. I am quite relieved that it is over. Not surprisingly, I dived into the decorating, the cooking and the handmade gifts with too much fervor and now I need to rest...on a beach, somewhere tropical. Since that is not happening, I am substituting a continuous rotation of yoga and chocolate like you might do with heat and ice on an injury. I figure one of them is healthy, so I can't be doing too much damage.
Pictured above is a closer look at the advent calendar which I posted about here.  And below are some of the other decorations that I made, copying ideas I found on Pinterest.

What does your holiday rehab look like?


Morning list of grievances and appreciations

Morning list of grievances:
  1. Please don't throw random broken plastic boxes in the recycling. They are not recyclable.
  2. The dog is practically a skeleton--112 in people years. Please don't leave him outside in the cold at 6:30 am
  3. When I call to quickly ask you something please don't question me about my irrational comments as my three year old is screaming at me and the baby is demanding food, and I still havent even had tea or coffee.
  4. Please don't hide small morning essential items like the teapot strainer in the bottom of the dish drying rack below ten pounds of loud pots and pans. This makes it even harder for me to get my first cup of tea.
Morning list of appreciations:
Thank you...
  1. For staying up extra late to do the last of the dishes so I could wake up to a clean kitchen. 
  2. For feeding the dog and letting out the chickens so I didn't have to walk out there in the cold.
  3. For setting up curb-side trash pick-up so the garage is no longer monopolized by a mountain of recycling.
  4. For being available to answer my call about the trash schedule and texting me with the answer (so I could take care of the screaming 3 year old).
  5. For loving my ancient dog as if he'd been with you for 16 years (and cleaning up his poo in the middle of the night without too much complaining).
  6. For loving me even when I'm at my worst.
FYI: not recyclable.


Bodhi turns one! (and the holiday preparations...)

 Bodhi had his first birthday this week and we threw a small get together to celebrate. Of course, Jasona and I worked so hard all day that by the time the party came neither of us took photos! I blame him (of course) because he is, in fact, a photographer by trade.... but I should know better, because he never takes photos in this type of situation. Which I guess means that I need to do it and stop expecting him to do it. Oh, expectations. You get me every time.

The cake looks horrible against our rental's horrendous faux painted walls (are you getting a sense of my mood this evening?)...but it was delicious. And gluten free! This Vanilla Bean cake is literally made with white beans (and a dozen eggs)! I highly recommend it.  I doubled the recipe here, and made a layer cake. The frosting is buttercream: butter, sugar, and cream. I used this recipe--not overly sweet.

Finn has been waiting for this moment all night.
 You can see our advent calendar in the background-- Idea from Desi. She sent me the animal images. I used iron on transfers on muslin bags from this tutorial. That was my first iron on transfer experience and damn, there is a learning curve! I nearly quit after 3 shoddy numbers and multiple trouble-shooting google searches, but picked it up the next day and figured it out. Persistence has always been my strength. (I have many weaknesses, which I've been examining all day today-- more on that later).

And our tree... I love it. Chopped down by Jason, it is perfect. Finn and I made the little owls and Jason and I wrapped stars in yarn. It took me 3 weeks to get the lights right because I had 2 faulty sets. (What a mind-snapper* that is. It's cheaper to buy a new strand then to actually fix them.)

Snowflakes are hanging from above. Do you love making them? If not, look at this explanation on how to fold the paper. Why didn't I learn this in school? When I teach school again I will be certain to teach how to cut snowflakes--even if it's college. After learning how to make the proper folds I was a snowflake making maniac! I literally went to sleep visualizing patterns of how to cut complex flakes. (I am a little insane, and a nerd if you haven't noticed.)

Alas, there are two more days until Christmas and I have yet to manufacture (craft, if you will) about 10 gifts. The two small boys who call me 'mama' are no help in this department. I will not stress about it. This is fun, right? Right.

Yes. There will be gluten free cinnamon buns on Christmas morning along with baked eggs and pumpkin lattes. My mom always served us cinnamon buns as we sleepily emptied our stockings. This is a tradition I want to carry on.
I miss you mama.

But enough about me...what about you?

*my dad's term.  I miss him too. But he's just across the country, and fairly active in cyberspace so I'll see him soon.


Mystical Encounters Part 1: La Virgen de Guadalupe spoke to me in Mexico and I almost forgot.

My mac has been on the fritz with a psychotic track pad. I nearly threw the machine across the room the other day so there was no way I could possibly do my posts this week. I started  3 times only to have the curser randomly select text, click on links, close windows, etc. It's still not fixed *sigh*; I'm not sure what to do.

But enough about my techno troubles. Let's talk about the Virgin Mary.

December 12th was my mom's birthday (she would have been 65) and also El Dia de la Virgen de Guadalupe, a huge celebration in Mexico and Latin America honoring the 'goddess' of the americas.  I love the story of the native Mexican, Juan Diego, who--in 1531--encountered the Virgin Mary on a hilltop. I won't go into the details, which you can read here, because I really want to tell you about the two encounters I had in Mexico with women who happened to be channels for the Virgin Mary.

Yes, that's right. I said "channels for the Virgin Mary".

At this point (if you don't know me well) you may be wondering if I'm some sort of devout Catholic or new age junky. Not at all. I just happen to attract psychics. I grew up Roman Catholic in a parish with a liberal priest and a family that didn't force me to go to church or  to believe in religious doctrines. I don't have the normal hang-ups of a "recovering Catholic", but I also don't practice the religion anymore (or any religion for that matter).

More pertinent background: 
Since I was a young child I've been inclined to have 'mystical experiences'--times when I felt an extreme sense of merging with something beyond my 'self', or to use a more common term-- 'out of body experiences'. (More about these so called mystical encounters  in future posts).

Here is the story of how I got an audience with the Virgin Mary:
Eleven years ago, a friend of mine offered me a space in her house in Mexico to live for a year. I was writing my graduate thesis and going through a difficult break up, so  I jumped at the chance (even though I didn't speak a word of Spanish at the time). Odin (my dog) and I packed up the truck and my brother flew out to California to drive with me to my new home in Mexico. I found a job teaching at a bilingual school soon after I arrived.
packed and ready to go.

It was a lonely, difficult time (albeit exciting and adventurous). My heart ached and I felt unsure of where my life was headed--a typical twenty-something dilemma for a woman of my generation. Diana, my Mexican host and friend, invited me to go to a fringe Catholic prayer group. She wasn't religious at all, but a friend of hers was.  I couldn't understand much of anything they were praying about (except that they often said prayers that were familiar to me--'Our Father', Hail Mary' and the like). They would pray and pray out loud in a group and even begin speaking in tongues. Because I didn't understand the language it was like meditation for me. The clearing of my mind, the focus, the energy of the other people-- was transportive.

I was at one of the prayer groups at someone's house when a woman (known to be a channel for the Virgin Mary) started to speak to me as Mary. There were perhaps 30 people there, so I don't know why she chose me (unless it was because I was the only gringa in the room). I still didn't know much Spanish and she spoke quickly and with emotion, so I didn't catch much. But there was a man with a recording device getting every word. A couple of weeks later he gave me a typed out transcript of what she said. It was personal, with some details of my childhood which seemed odd for a stranger to know.

I was skeptical; I joked about it (and still do), because it sounds insane and illogical,  but I also know there's more to existence than sanity and logic.

Odin at the hilltop shrine
Sometime around  December 12th of the same year I encountered another woman known to be vehicle for Mary. We were at one of those Mexican hilltop shrines drinking chapurrado and eating tamales (yum). It was dark and the fire was crackling and creating the kind of ethereal light that tends to make people look magical. She didn't speak any English but she began to throw in English words here and there--telling me that I needed to 'help the children'. Her face seemed to change completely in quality as she spoke--becoming placid and quite beautiful. 

I didn't stay with the fringe Catholic prayer group, but I was grateful for the spiritual energy they shared with me. They had their own path, and I clearly didn't share their beliefs. I don't know what the channeling is all about. I guess I'd call myself agnostic when it comes to this sort of experience. 

I do know that it opened me up to acknowledge the mysticism and spirituality present within me. I was finished with the adolescent and young adult view that I had things figured out and I was ready to embrace the idea that I know relatively nothing. I needed to let my'self' fall apart in order to experience peace.

It was a beautiful feeling and for that, I am grateful to "Our Lady of Guadalupe".

I need to cultivate my spiritual practice again-- give it more time and love. I feel like it's been stored away in the closet collecting dust. I'm ready to be good to myself again and open it up.
How about you? 

I can't believe he's almost 16 now. So sweet.


I'll miss you Candy Cane Joe-Joe's.

I thought living a one hour drive from the nearest Trader Joe's might save me this holiday season, but after a long day in the car* with two boys that wouldn't sleep, I broke down. They were stacked in a monumental display at the end of an aisle, their pink & red striped boxes flirting with me. I was weak; my stomach was empty. I tossed a box into the cart, Jason needs these, right? I don't know if we'll be back here before the holidays --they might run out. I tossed another box into the cart and contemplated a thrid. I won't eat too many. I'm supposed to be on a gluten free, sugar free, candida diet. I can't eat them.  

Well, maybe just a few.

Jason stops after two. "Any more than two makes me sick." So he says. I wish I had that reaction. For me, it's a minimum of four. I don't know what it is, but I find them extremely addictive. I could try claiming that it's because I've been on such a restricted diet, but it happens every year. 

oh, joe joe's.
And sure enough, I had a full blown allergy attack last night--I haven't had one that intense in months. I'm blaming the Joe's. It's not the Joe's fault, of course. They are fabulous and you should, by all means, have a few. It's just that I can't tolerate wheat or sugar at the moment. I still have more healing to do. But one day I will. I am determined.

*On Sunday, we drove to Tahoe and back--7 hours round trip in one day to look for tele ski boots, with a 3 year old and an 11 month old baby in the car. I'm not sure what we were thinking, but it worked out. Poor kids.


A foraged holiday wreath

After posting daily for the month of November I needed a few days off. I guess that's how I found the time to make this wreath last week. What else did I do with all of my extra time??? Not sure.

I've been inspired by images on Pinterest to make all kinds of holiday decorations with natural items that I can find in my backyard or close by. I've never been much of a "crafter" (as I mentioned in this post), but I've always wanted to be. I find it to be relaxing and creative--kind of like cooking.

Here are links with tutorials for variations of the twig wreath: 1 & 2.

Next time I would wrap the cardboard with some natural twine. I didn't realize that it would show as much as it did.

How about you? Do you decorate your living quarters for the holidays? Are you cooking up anything delicious? I'm always looking for more ideas...

Happy December!



Nineteen days away from his first birthday and the boy is cruising! He's been walking for almost three weeks and crawling for almost six months. He climbs up onto everything--top steps of stools, the couch, the kids' table.
He screams. Loud. He giggles. Adorably. He nurses. Incessantly.
He sticks any and all cords or electrical devices in his mouth. He cleans up the floor and yard with his teeth like a little goat. He shovels handfuls of dogfood into his cheeks when you're not looking and then screams with clenched fists when you try to take it. His colic has subsided (I think) and turned into a habit of waking up throughout the night.
Bodhi (or Bo-da as Finn likes to call him), is on his way to toddler-land. I regret that I was half asleep for the first year. I wish I enjoyed it more, but I was so damn sleep deprived and had trouble enjoying anything. I'm trying not to beat myself up about it (can you tell?). It was what it was.
He is cruising. And I can't get enough of those old-soul eyes and rosy cheeks.


Three minutes to energy, creativity and prosperity!

I was struggling for something to write about on this 29th day of National Blog Posting Month. Jason and I finally attempted to come up with a budget today--but I didn't want to post about money worries or scarcity, so I googled prosperity to see if there was any wisdom out there in cyberspace from the new age gurus. I found some fairly cheesy stuff (picture 5 minute You tube slideshows with words in Papyrus font and bad music); but there was nothing worth posting.

Then I remembered a Kundalini yoga kriya (a set of postures and breath) that is supposed to create energy, creativity and prosperity.

Have you ever done any Kundalini yoga? It is seriously crazy stuff. You can change your entire attitude and being in just a few minutes. So I broke out my book: Kundalini Yoga by Shakta Kaur Khalsa and thought I'd share it with you. I completed a yoga training with the author of the book and highly recommend it.

I also managed to convince Jasona to pose for the photos. (Not sure how I pulled that one off).

Damn. The copyright statement on the bottom of the webpage just scared me away from posting it here. Maybe I'm too irreverent, but I don't really understand the 'why' of it.  However, I do know that I don't want to piss off a yoga guru who could possibly invoke their yogic siddhis on me.

Instead--please do check out the instructions for this quick and easy 3 minute sequence for energy creativity and prosperity. There are 3 postures. You can do each for 3 minutes or just choose one. This can also be found on pgs. 130-131 of Shakta's book.

Here are the photos of Jason bringing it in:


Prosperity: "Excel, excel, fearless."


Yoga for Cancer

It was a rainy day in San Francisco--perfect weather for being inside a spacious yoga studio with a wall of windows. I was surrounded by a group of teachers dedicated to helping themselves and others heal. Some of them were cancer survivors in remission. Others were in the thick of treatments. And yet others (like me) either work with those affected by cancer or were somehow inspired to do so.

As people began introducing themselves around the semi-circle, I could feel their words like music that speaks directly to your heart--the kind of music that takes you out of your head and delivers you to life. I knew that I'd probably cry when I did my introduction. (I've always excelled at crying in front of others. My emotions diffuse through my skin, and I'm so sensitive to people's energy, which makes it hard to keep from crying. I was always embarrassed of this as a kid, but I've learned to run with it and embrace it as a strength.) I could  feel my mom in the yoga studio with me and the stories of those around me were so moving. There was some serious strength present and I felt honored to be be a part of it. This manifested as tears.

Tari Prinster, a yogi and a cancer survivor, shared with us some of her wisdom. I learned the science of why certain postures strengthen the immune system and why some should be avoided. She addressed the emotional, mental and physical needs of someone with cancer and how to work with these needs. I started going back through my notes tonight and wish I had done this a day after the workshop, rather than a week. I can barely read my own writing! Tari was wonderful and I hope that I can do a future training with her. Normally her teacher trainings are 45 hours. This was just a 2 day workshop (and I could only attend one day).

I look forward to sharing what I learned with others. I'm going to start with my husband's aunt who is interested in incorporating yoga into her treatment. From there I hope to offer a class to other people in the community.

Here is a quote from BKS Iyengar that Tari shared with us. I think of it as remembering to keep a 'beginner's mind' or the curiosity of a child when teaching or with everything, really....

To stay awake means,  “To not imagine that you already understand and impose your imperfect understanding on those who come to you for help.”

Or in the words of the Zen teacher, Suzuki: 
In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, in the expert's mind there are few.


Sick of turkey yet? (recipe for turkey chowder with criminis, wild rice & pancetta)

Our spatchcocked turkey was delicious this Thanksgiving. I ate two lunches worth of sandwiches on walnut cranberry bread and two dinners worth of turkey tacos (yes, we squeezed everything from turkey to sage sweet potatoes into delicious sprouted corn tortillas and fried them up in coconut oil---sounds strange, but it was awesome).

Tonight I wanted something different. Enter: turkey 'chowda'.  I come from Rhode Island so any talk of chowder gets me a little bit excited. There's nothing like a warm bowl of clam chowder on a blustery winter day. But I'm also a bit of a chowder snob. Please people, don't just blend up corn and throw in some cream and call it a chowder... please?

This turkey chowder from an old issue of Bon Appetit is perfect for Thanksgiving leftovers. I used up the rest of my turkey, cream, gravy and even the stuffing. Yes, even the stuffing. I managed to make it gluten free by subbing almond flour for regular flour (and my stuffing was already made with almond flour bread).  I didn't have any corn in the freezer so I skipped that--but I would've included it. I also used bacon instead of pancetta, because they don't sell pancetta up here in the hills. Even better would be to use the wild porcinis that we didn't find this week. Next year.

But don't skip the gravy. Definitely not. I made cream gravy this year and I loved it.  Before adding it, the chowder was good, but the gravy put it over the top.

Don't be afraid of the turkey stock part. If you didn't make it this year, you can sub chicken stock. It was so easy to throw the carcass in a pot of water after  Thanksgiving dinner along with some veggies, herbs & garlic. I put a few quarts in the freezer and so had plenty on hand for the chowder.

Turkey Chowder with criminis, wild rice and pancetta- (taken directly from Epicurious)
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 3/4 cup wild rice (about 5 ounces), rinsed, drained
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter/oil
  • 2 3-ounce packages sliced pancetta (Italian bacon), diced (I used bacon)
  • 12 ounces crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, sliced (about 5 1/2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup ( 1/2 stick) butter
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped shallots
  • 1/3 cup  flour (use almond flour for gluten free)
  • 10 cups Turkey Stock
  • 1 teaspoon dried crushed rosemary (or fresh)
  • 2 to 4 cups chopped cooked turkey meat (reserved from carcass)
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream (I used less)
  • leftover stuffing & gravy (optional)
  • Chopped fresh Italian parsley for garnish
Bring 2 1/2 cups water, rice, and 1/4 teaspoon salt to boil in medium saucepan. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until rice is tender but still firm to bite, 45 to 60 minutes (time will vary depending on variety of rice). Drain; set aside.
Heat butter/oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add pancetta and cook until browned, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer pancetta to paper towels to drain. Add mushrooms to pot and cook until beginning to brown, about 8 minutes. Transfer to medium bowl. Add butter to same pot. Add carrots and celery. Cover; cook until vegetables begin to soften, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add shallots; stir until soft, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle flour over and stir 1 minute. Return mushrooms to pot. Mix in Turkey Stock and rosemary; bring to boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover, and simmer 15 minutes.
Add rice, pancetta, turkey meat, corn and leftover stuffing (if using) to soup. Simmer to blend flavors, about 10 minutes. Stir in cream & gravy. Season to taste with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Can be made 3 days ahead. Cool slightly. Chill uncovered until cool. Cover and keep chilled. Rewarm over medium heat before serving.
Divide soup among bowls, sprinkle with parsley, and serve. 



Letting go of expectations.

 Stuffed into borrowed, hand-me-down winter clothes, Finn was uncomfortable--scared and resistant to going out in the snow. Just two days earlier we went to see the Big Trees and he wasn't dressed warmly enough (because the kid flat-out refuses to wear a coat most of the time). He despised walking in the mud and snow. It took every drop of patience I had to help him have fun (picture frequent, loud three-year-old emotional breakdowns). I realized that I would have to force him into warm clothes for the trip up the mountain.

It was a beautiful, blue-bird day--perfect sledding weather. Finn's little friend was all about it. The two of them were like Frog & Toad. Remember them? Toad tends to be a bit reluctant and a pessimist, while Frog is a glass-half-full kind of guy. 

Finn laid himself down on the snow and refused to walk. I tried making deals like I did in the trees a few days ago: "Walk to that tree over there and then I'll carry you to the next sign". Wasn't working. Finally Jason pulled him on the sled. It was more important for him to have a positive experience then to make him walk on his own, but man, was he stubborn.

Of course, eventually I got him sledding. His cute smile truly melts my heart.

He's like this in almost all new situations. Clinging to me or his dad and sucking on his finger while twirling his hair, it's usually time to go home by the time he warms up. Even though we know we shouldn't, Jason & I get frustrated sometimes: Why can't he jump right in and have fun like the other kids? It worries me. I want so much for him to be happy and fun and adventurous--my expectations get in the way. I try not to let them.

I was a sensitive kid and remember being shy. My emotions were (still are) difficult for me and my parents to deal with. I felt like my mom wanted me to be different--as if she didn't really like me. And that was sad. (It still makes me sad just thinking about it.) She did the best she could. We talked about it as adults, which was so healing for me. I don't blame my parents, I just want to learn from my own past and help Finn. My mom would say to me "Don't be such a worry-wart!", but no one ever told me how not to worry.

Finn needs my understanding and acceptance. He needs my help to learn how to deal with his own fears. I want him to know that it's okay, that I love him when he feels reluctant, or scared, or shy. He can take all the time he needs.  

And even though my parents didn't teach me how not to worry (probably because they didn't know how to show me at the time), they taught me how to persist when I felt defeated or unsure, to look for the positive in people and situations and to believe that I can do whatever I set out to do. I hope I can do the same for my boys.

I think I had a breakthrough on the snow. I will let go of all expectations. It's so simple, yet can be so hard to do.


Post turkey day

Thanksgiving was a lovely day. We ran the turkey trot and then went at it in the kitchen.  I'm fairly exhausted and know that I've been slacking on the posts all week (I'm posting daily as part of NaBloPoMo)...but there's only so much I can handle! I will be posting soon to evaluate my Thanksgiving recipe choices, the yoga for cancer workshop , and about our day today in the snow during which Finn severely tested my patience. Wow. But he did go to bed saying how much he loved sledding.

Thanking the Big Trees

Hide and Seek in the Giant Sequoias.
Grandmother trees. soft red bark. light filtered through the canopy. magic.
One 3 year old jumping in snow puddles, the other screaming--a mud aversion.


Spatchcockers Unite!

Tonight I spatchcocked and seasoned my turkey in preparation for tomorrow's feast.  Spatchcock, spatchcock, spatchcock! (I love saying that word) A friend of mine read me the directions on Martha's website while I did the dirty work.  It was a fairly funny scene and not nearly as easy as Martha made it look, so he gave me the idea of posting  a side by side photo comparison of me and Martha (although it's late and I can't get them side by side!). Let's just say my spatchcock job wasn't nearly as sterile or pretty as Martha's.

1. Cutting out the backbone-- maybe it would be as easy as she makes it look if I had those awesome kitchen shears....

2. Breaking the backbone. Martha suggests standing on a stool. This was not easy. Finally I opened it up enough on the bone side and was able to get a good crack.

And in video:

I'll let you know how it turns out! Happy Thanksgiving....

Images: Martha Stewart and Jason B Smith


The places that scare you

"When we try to avoid the discomfort we call fear our world grows smaller and smaller..."
--Cheri Huber, The Fear Book

Remember being scared as a child? I do. Lying in my bed while the shadows of monsters or scary ghosts danced on my walls, I thought that if I could be totally still they might not notice me. When I was 6 or 7, my grandmother and I watched a scary movie with a human sacrifice and devil worshippers and for months afterward I would whisper, "I hate the devil, I hate the devil!" as I ran back to my bed from the bathroom at night (I'm still getting over that one).

Tonight, just a few minutes ago, we were sitting in the living room when I heard a child sobbing (there are four in the house right now). I realized that Finn was crying in his bed (heartbreaking). He never does that. At bedtime, I convinced him to turn off the light that he normally leaves on in his room because we're trying to get the baby to sleep in there with him. The poor guy felt scared and all alone.

Some fears (like being scared of the dark or human sacrifice) are loud and obvious, but it's the other kind of fear...the subtle fears... that masquerade as resistance or anger, that are harder to recognize. I'm interested to look at how fear might be shrinking my world. I'll get back to you after some introspection.

How about you? How does fear manifest in your life?

(The quote above is from a Zen monk who runs a monastery close to where I live.  She writes mindfulness books that are powerful yet easy reading and practical.)


Sweet baby.

Our friends arrived from San Diego today.
Three year old boys running through the house "Poo poo on your head! Poo poo on the floor!"
(laughing hysterically like old friends)
B (11 months) wanted to keep up with the big boys, but was also interested in his future girlfriend. (pictured above. How could he resist?)
Sweet baby girl smiles and bright blue eyes. Soft cheeks.


Thanksgiving plans: Foraging shrooms and gluten free, paleo recipes

I don't have a final count for Thanksgiving quite yet, but I do know that I'll be cooking a 14 pound bird from a local grower. There are so many recipes I want to try that I'm going to have to hold myself back. We could end up with just four adults and we'll have enough food for twenty. Do you want to come over?

We are foraging as well. Jason went out for a porcini reconnaisance this morning and came back with a fine looking specimen. I hope we can find some more because a porcini stuffing sounds deliciously rich and amazing. And guess what? That fig tree is still stacked. I'll be making more fig sesame jam and some spiced grape preserves (we found  an unharvested vineyard) too.
Here's what I'm thinking.....

Fall Harvest Salad with butternut squash, pepitas & pecans
Butterflied Turkey with Cranberry-Molasses glaze or Apple-maple glaze (I think I may choose maple)
Cranberry Apple stuffing--gluten free & grain free (GAPS/paleo friendly)
Roasted brussel sprouts with bacon & apples
Mashed Cauliflower (but I'll be using butter in mine)--This is paleo- and GAPS- diet friendly
Green beans with toasted walnuts and dried-cherry vinaigrette (Finn loves green beans)
Sweet Potato and sage-butter casserole--This one isn't gluten-free-although it could be adapted

Cranberry Chutney with Fennel and golden raisins 

And desserts....

I'll use this gluten/grain free tart recipe for either a pecan or apple filling
and I'd really like to make this: Butternut squash and hazelnut bouchons with toasted nutmeg ice cream (sounds crazy good, doesn't it??)
but that might just be too much....

And drinks???
I'm thinking Jora's pumpkin spice lattes in the morning and  Louise's Rum & cider in the afternoon.

What are your plans?

Saturday in Photos

I went to San Francisco yesterday for a yoga workshop with Tari Prinster on teaching yoga to cancer survivors. It was a long day (3 hour drive) and I didn't make it back in time to post. I have to remember to take more photos next Saturday. I didn't get a single shot of my beautiful cousin! We had a bite to eat and a glass of wine at Chow. It was so cozy sitting at the bar on a cold and rainy night.

Here are some photos along the way-- ending with my car needing a jump in the  San Francisco Trader Joe's parking lot at 10 pm... I'll post more on the yoga workshop later today this week. I hope your Saturday was all that you dreamed of and more....

driving through the Central Valley

old bullring in the valley

Fortunately, I always find the nicest folks when my car breaks down


Buttery Cinnamon-spiced Nuts

The winds picked up today and a deeper chill set in. There is barely any food in the house, but I managed to find a delicious, warming snack for me and Finn. We are gluten free at the moment and crunchy snacks can be challenging to keep on hand (especially since I try to avoid the processed, packaged type).

We had buttery cinnamon-spiced nuts and  Rooibos Chai tea with almond milk and honey (or stevia).

Buttery Cinnamon-spiced Nuts
Butter, ghee or coconut oil
cinnamon, sea salt & turmeric (sometimes I add cumin too)
raw almonds & walnuts (any nuts or seeds work-- ideally, soak your nuts first to make them easier to digest and then dehydrate them in a low oven. more on this in a future post!)

You could make these in the oven, but I always do them on the stove top. I melt the butter, add the nuts with salt. When toasted, I put the nuts in a bowl and add cinnamon and turmeric to taste. They are delicious eaten warm.


What do you want me to do?

What do you want me to do? that was the text from Jason (the man who married me) me this afternoon after he received two desperate texts from me: 1.So tired and no break! I need sleep.  and 2. I'm not joking. I'm going to lose it. 

I'd just been woken up from a 10 minute half-slumber by the baby who also woke me up 4 or 5 times last night (and has been for the past 11 months) nursing and gnawing on me like a little rat, scratching me with his nails as he switches sides. Ouch. I'd just settled the 3 year old down for a nap after 6 hours of strife over everything possible--most importantly, the fact that he does not want the baby touching ANYTHING at all in the house, because Finn has it arranged in a very important manner and it must not be disturbed. Ever. Again.
What happened? Why two days of complete hell? What changed?
As usual (this happens every few weeks) I wonder, maybe I'm really not cut out for this parenting thing. And then I go and read some "mothering" forums about 3 year olds, commiserate and feel better.
The baby refuses to be put down, so I get out the baby carrier and slide him into the backpack. That's when he promptly pees down my back and I send the desperate texts. (note: I didn't even change out of the shirt for another hour or so--that's how bad it was.)

Reading Jasona's text, I realize that I did it to him again. I sent him a 'venting' text. He doesn't even like it when I vent in person or on the phone.  He gets all 'male' on me and thinks, Why are you telling me this? Don't tell me unless there's something I can do to fix it. 
Why do I send him a text like that? What do I want him to do?
1. Stop time and let me sleep for a couple of weeks.
2. Stop time and let me go to a tropical island where I can lie on a hammock at the beach and sleep.
(note: the 'stopping time' element is key here. I fantasize about it all the time. I don't really want to leave my nursing baby without mama for a couple of weeks, I just want to freeze time and let myself escape.)
3. Grant me daily massages and trips to the sauna.
4. Just listen to me.
5. Get home in time for me to take a shower before teaching yoga?

(I only texted #5)

Happy sleeping.

Image source


Easy Paleo dinner: oven 'fried' chicken and salt & vinegar kale chips

Finger-lickin' good!

Today was a serious day. Finn had some extremely loud and physical complaints about Bodhi touching his stuff. I nearly lost my mind with frustration. We made it to the park after Bodhi's first nap, thankfully, because I broke all candida diet regulations and downed the remaining dark chocolate chips that I had squirreled away in the freezer in a desperate attempt to boost my serotonin. The outdoors is a far superior neurotransmitter adjustment for me.

I decided on a simple dinner and it was tasty. I make this a lot. It never fails to please and is gluten and grain free.

Oven "fried" chicken (based on this recipe)
1 package of 6 organic chicken drumsticks (I actually like it better with the 'drummettes')
1/3 cup of almond flour
2 teaspoons paprika
2 1/2 teaspoon celtic sea salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 teaspoon curry powder (I've made it without paprika and only curry too--yum)
2 teaspoons herbs du provence
1/4 cup butter (tallow actually works better here if you can get grass-fed beef tallow--I order it here.)

Preheat oven to 450. Mix up the almond flour and spices in a large zipper bag (think shake & bake).  Line a 9x13 pan with foil or parchment. Put the butter or tallow in the pan, put in oven to melt. Put the drums or drummettes (3 at a time for the big ones) in the bag and shake. Place chicken in pan. Bake for 30 minutes then flip and bake for 15-20 more minutes.

Salt & vinegar kale chips. Based on Elana's recipe --actually it is Elana's recipe except that I decided to bake them at a lower temperature (this time at 275) to get closer to a raw food effect. I'd like to truly dehydrate them next time. Finn LOVES these--and so do the rest of us. Bodhi even ate a couple.

1 head kale, chopped
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon celtic sea salt

  1. Place chopped kale in a large bowl
  2. Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar, then sprinkle with salt
  3. Massage above ingredients into kale with your hands
  4. Spread out kale on 2 parchment lined baking sheets, so that pieces of kale do not touch
  5. Bake at 275°  until dry and crispy (it takes 13 minutes at 375...I'm thinking it took 25 minutes? Sorry! didn't time, just kept checking.
  6. Cool 10 minutes and serve

 (I'm trying beet chips tomorrow!)

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