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!

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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 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!

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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

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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!

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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 my 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?

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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


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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, 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.

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Quote of the Week

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

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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
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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 eye mask

+ reading this book 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 children's book about lives of seven families all around the world (speaking of books, do you follow my kids book instagram account yet?)

what are you digging these days?
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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


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Cornwall

 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?

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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!

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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.  

Quote of the Week

"Some old-fashioned things like fresh air and sunshine are hard to beat."
~ Laura Ingalls Wilder 

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Weekend Baking: Strawberry Peach Galette

Oh how I do love summer fruit, with stone fruit topping the charts as one of my favorite summer indulgences!  After bringing home a bundle of fresh peaches to accompany our Costco strawberry run, I decided to liven up an ordinary Friday with a fetching dessert - a peach strawberry galette.  

I typically keep frozen pie dough on hand, and once defrosted and rolled out, the only thing left to do was toss the fruit with a dash of sugar and vanilla and voila - galette ready to go!  My husband and I devoured it hungrily as we watched House of Cards.  Excited to make another!

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Meal Planning 102

It's been a while since I've posted about meal planning, and wanted to follow up with a few tips and tricks, as these are some of my favorite posts on the blogs I read.

I love having a rotating selection of dinner options, I've never been a "Monday meatloaf, Tuesday tacos" kind of gal.  And while as a family we love variety, we also depend on consistency. I've slowly built up an arsenal of meals that are crowd pleasers for myself, husband, and kids.  However, even then, I do find myself getting bored of our usual go-tos, especially as the seasons change, and shepherd's pie just isn't going to cut it in the heat of summer.  I'm always prowling popular new cookbooks (borrowed from the library), blogs, pinterest, and the like for fresh finds to rotate into the mix. Our criteria for a complete meal usually involves a protein, vegetable or two, and occasionally a bread/starch component.

First tip I have to help keep myself grounded and not too repetitive is to keep a dinner diary.  Bear with me, I realize this sounds ridiculously type-A and difficult, but basically it's a journal where I jot down what we eat for dinner every night.  One sentence.  Quick. Easy. Simple.  It's also helpful to remind myself "ooh, I forgot about that...we should try that again!" Or a reminder, "yuck, that was disgusting and way too much work.  Never again."

I typically meal plan on the weekend, looking ahead to the week, and planning meals based around various evening activities that might through a wrench in the actual making of dinner (e.g. one parent working late, one parent out, dinner at my parents' house, etc).  I write it all out and post on the refrigerator.  In a perfect world there is some recipe overlap (i.e. dill for salmon one night and dill for a salad another) in an effort to maximize ingredient use and simplify our grocery list, however that's definitely not always the case.

A few of our go-to Spring/early summer favorites include
+ Greek sheetpan chicken and spanakopita with Greek salad

+ ground pork bahn mi sandwiches (or lettuce wraps) with tamari roasted broccoli

+ BBQ pineapple hard shell tacos (we use fresh pineapple) with caprese salad

+ roasted Sriracha salmon with coconut rice and crispy kale

+ slow cooker Korean beef tacos and roasted veggies

+ homemade pizza on the grill with fruit salad and grilled corn

+ favorite turkey burgers with corn on the cob and carrot salad

+ slow cooker chicken tikka masala with Indian creamed spinach over coconut rice

+ p.f. changs style chicken lettuce wraps with roasted carrots and broccoli 

What are your go-to weeknight meals?

May and June Favorites

+ these chocolate covered banana snacks (organic, non GMO too)

+ this recipe for BBQ pineapple hard shell chicken tacos (I used fresh pineapple)

+ The Hate U Give and Hillbilly Elegy (one fiction, one memoir, both both equally informative reads for our current times)

+ the entertaining show, Catastrophe on Amazon Prime

+ this $8 set of 5 mini digger trucks that have brought my son immense joy in the past week

+ a new hydrating face mask (also available on amazon)

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Dinner Last Night: Paleo Chinese Orange Chicken

Dinner last night was a hit!  Paleo/Whole 30 compliant Paleo Chinese Orange Chicken!  My friend Marissa made this and forwarded on the recipe stating, "we practically licked the plates clean!"  If that's not a recommendation, I don't know what is!?  I rounded out the meal with our favorite coconut rice and roasted broccoli tossed with tamari and olive oil.  Yum yum!

* Note: in the future, I would omit the step to deglaze the pan with chicken broth, I feel this made the sauce a tad too liquidy.  Without this step, I think the sauce would've reduced faster, making it thicker and provided more overall coating for the chicken.

Friday Fun


+ a thorough roundup of this season's cookbooks



+ in creating a more equitable society, how to raise a feminist son

+ have you heard of minutiae?  the curious app that captures your unfiltered life.  I haven't tried but I'm intrigued.

+ a veggie bridal bouquet - it's quite pretty!

+ intrigued by the idea of pistachio breadcrumbs

+ have you heard of rosato? I'm excited to try it this summer.

have a great one!

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Master of None in Italy

My husband and I just finished binge watching the second season of Aziz Ansari's Master of None.  While I enjoyed the first season for its refreshing candor, this season is by far my favorite.  First the first episode debuts in Modena, Italy, following an ever enthusiastic Dev throughout Italy on his pasta pilgrimage.  While planning imaginary vacations to all corners of the globe that I one day dream to visit, I often forget about the loveliness and warmth of Italy until I see it onscreen.  Now after living vicariously through Dev and Arnold's Italian escapades, I'm itching to get back there.  And rewatching my favorite movies set in Italy in the meantime to get a fix...Under the Tuscan Sun and Only You to name a few.

This season follows Dev on his pasta internship, where we meet the lovely Francesca (Alessandra Mastronardi) who is a delight to watch, magnetic and captivating in her own right. Then of course, fan favorite Arnold joins Dev in Italy where they embark on a series of hilarious adventures, navigating narrow Italian roads in a too-small-for-Arnold car, biking through Tuscan hilltowns, and dining at the famous Osteria Francescana (home to famous chef Mossimo Bottura of Chef's Table Season 1).  

Perhaps my favorite scene of the entire season is a charming scene between Dev and Francesca, features this catchy Italian song, Guarda Come Dondolo (surprisingly not featured on the Season 2 soundtrack).  I've since downloaded the track from iTunes and have spent many replays dancing alongside my kids to it.   Ahh...it's so lively and fun, you just can't help but dance and twist along - I love it so much!
If you want to explore more of Master of None in Italy, follow along with this Master of None guide to Italy.  And if you haven't started Season 2 yet, this is your nudge to partake!


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

Homemade Hummus

I've been trying to make my favorite dips and dressings at home the past few months, and tried my hand at homemade hummus a few weeks ago.  However, in typical recipe making fashion, I neglected to read through the entire recipe, realizing that it would take a good 12+ hours to complete.  Whoops!  
Don't get me wrong, hummus itself is pretty simple, it's the soaking and simmering of chickpeas that is a huge time suck.  However, the fruits of my labor was ultimately worth the reward.  Fresh, homemade hummus stands apart from its counterparts for its freshness, tanginess, and sure packs a punch of tahini-y flavor, something no Sabra or Trader Joe's brand can achieve (sorry guys, I still like you too).  

In case you're interested in trying it out yourself, I used Molly Yeh's recipe from her new book, Molly on the Range (similar recipe here).  {Learn from my error, and keep in mind, you'll need to prepare ingredient a good half day in advance of when you plan to serve.}


Foodie Roundup

Is it just me, or are the summer recipes just bursting through your feed as well?  I've been pinning recipe after recipe, mouth watering in eager anticipation of all these tasty treats we will (hopefully, ideally, perhaps...) make someday soon.

{savory}




{sweet}



Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day!  Wishing love and happiness to all the mamas out there.  My heart is full of gratitude as I celebrate my fourth Mother's Day this year, and was awoken to the sweet scent of pancakes, a card bearing by my children's names in my daughter's penmanship, and a bouquet of  flowers.  I love my children fiercely, and though they sure wear me out by bed time, I couldn't imagine life any other way.  

Also sending a heartfelt prayer to all of those women dreaming and wishing to be mothers, who may not have gotten the opportunity yet for a number of reasons.  Today, I am thinking of you today, and praying for you. 

In the event that you have a little extra time to peruse links on your special day, here's a roundup of a few that intrigued me this week.

+ this episode of Radio Lab (it's old, yes, but very interesting about the challenges some same-sex couples face internationally related to surrogacy)

+ watched The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks on HBO this week. I read the book years ago, but this gave some perspective to the character of Deborah Lacks (Henrietta's youngest daughter).  Oprah is powerful and captivating as Deborah, you truly forget that she's Oprah!

+ this sweet, reaffirming post on aging 

+ salivating over these antipasto skewers, summer picnics are in sight!

+ eager to read this new parenting book

+ loving this post on finding the balance between being motherhood and everything else

+ interesting read, "our mothers as we never saw them"

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Lovely Little Reads: Not Quite Narwhal

Books are my love language.  Have I told you that?  I love a good book; whether that be a high-school-English classic or a children's picture book or a smutty chic-lit read, there is something about engaging and getting sucked into a good book.

I've been a bit behind posting our latest favorites in children's literature to the blog, but I'm quite active over on instagram if you'd like to follow along.

Not Quite Narwhal caught my eye because my kids are obsessed with narwhals.  Fun fact, my husband - the engineer, mind you - wasn't sure narwhals were real things.  He thought they were up there with unicorns and hippogriffs.  Yep, honey.  They're real whales.  

Anyway, Young Kelp was born in the sea, but as a helmet-clad unicorn, grew up believing he was just an unusual narwhal.  He recognized that was he was different growing up; tastes in food, speed of swimming, you know, the basics, but never really understood why.  Until one day, he catches a glimpse of a unicorn's silhouette on the horizon at dusk and is enchanted.  Could it be?  Another creature just like Kelp?  His first experience on land, he must teach himself to walk, and discovers that there is a much bigger world than what he's known in the sea.  A sweet story about finding your footing, learning you you really are and where you want to be.

For more of our favorite reads, follow along on instagram!

Anne of Green Gables

Have you heard?  A remake of Anne of Green Gables will be available this month on Netflix!  I read and loved the first few books as a kid, but wasn't a huge fan of adapted movie or TV mini series.  Hence, I am excited to see if this does the books justice!  Here's a preview, the trailer looks promising and the setting verdant and wild.
What do you think?  Will you 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

Fun Find

I loved flower pressing as a kid.  I'm not even sure why exactly, it's not a very fruitful hobby.  I remember picking blooms off my mom's potted pansies without her approval and then carefully pressing them between two sheets of cardboard.  My press always felt "fancy" to me, as there were several screws you cranked to ensure the press was successful. When I saw these glasses over at Cupcakes and Cashmere and a wave of nostalgia for those lazy summer days, picking and pressing flowers which later ended up glued onto birthday cards for grandparents.  

Anyone else press flowers as a kid?  I think I might buy these glasses solely to indulge in that sweet memory.

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April Favorites (a few days late)

Native deodorant (paraben and aluminum free) - by far the best natural deodorant I've tried, clean, fresh scents, and comes in the traditional stick form

+ the show Life in Pieces on Netflix

+ the Moana soundtrack (of the childrens tunes we own, this album hasn't driven me crazy yet, I attribute to the fun, catchy beats)

+ two young adult novels by Jennifer Niven, All The Bright Places and Holding Up the Universe, both are intense and heart wrenching at times, but I couldn't put them down

+ this delicious recipe for everything Greek pork pitas

+ this post about teaching children consent (especially #2, "don't pout" which I think is something my parents' generation does all the time and until now, I never realized this could be teaching kids to feel guilty in relation to consent)

+ this post makes me want to get back to Croatia

image/pinterest

13 Reasons Why

Have you read 13 Reasons Why?  No?  Okay... Have you seen 13 Reasons Why?  Let me elaborate.

13 Reasons Why is the story of Hannah Baker, a seventeen year old high school junior whose seemingly abrupt suicide sends shockwaves through her small town.  The news of Hannah's suicide is compounded when weeks later, a mysterious unmarked box is dropped on the porch of Clay Jenson, Hannah's former classmate, co-worker, and onetime crush.  Curious, Clay opens it to discover seven cassette tapes, unmarked other than the numbers 1 through 13, painted on in blue nail polish.  After struggling to find a device that can actually play tapes, Clay's blood runs cold as he plays tape #1 only to hear the familiar voice of Hannah Baker, detailing the circumstances that led her to take her own life.  She goes on to explain the chain of events that contributed to her ultimate decision, and if you're hearing these tapes, that you were in fact one of the thirteen reasons why.

This month, 13 Reasons Why the series debuted on Netflix.  Both the book, by Jay Asher, and show are haunting, intense, and thought provoking.  There are distinct plot difference, though the underlying current and tone is the same.  I did appreciate the character development the show portrayed that was not always apparent in the book; the depths of physical anguish and sadness carried by Hannah's grieving parents, the quiet ache felt by those who used to consider Hannah a friend.  The throbbing pain of her absence in everything at school; her abandoned locker, the perpetually empty seat in her classes, the shrine of flowers and pictures in the front hall.

What 13 Reasons Why highlights is that sometimes something that seems so insignificant to one person might consume another. An empty rumor that spiraled out of control, being branded a slut when there's no validity to the claim, the out-of-context photo that went viral, and the vague plea for help that went ignored.  When these incidents are stacked one atop the other, it can feel overwhelming.  Which is why it is imperative to reach out, know the signs, ask and offer help.  Every gesture counts.

My only experience with suicide comes from high school.  My sophomore year, one of my closest friends attempted suicide.  She had a huge fight with her mom before school, and downed a bottle of her brother's heart medication and then came to school as usual.  We had first period together.  We used to share clothes and that morning I was wearing her sweater.  When I motioned to it as I walked past her assigned seat up the aisle to my own, I remember her blank eyes, staring straight ahead.  About five minutes into class, the guidance counselor rushed in, exchanged hushed whispers with the teacher, and ushered my friend out of the room.  I didn't see her the rest of the day. She didn't come back to school that entire week.

This was before everyone had cell phones, so we couldn't call or text from school to check in, and our calls to her home phone went unanswered.  Later, a rumor circulated that an ambulance had been at school that same day.  I never even thought to connect the two occurrences.  I was one of her closest friends, and I had no idea anything was amiss.  In hindsight, I realize that there were red flags, behaviors that could be characterized as a cry for help.  But then, in my high school bubble; to me she was popular.  She was adored.  She was happy.  Until I knew the truth, I had no idea.

So there, these are my reasons why 13 Reasons Why is worth a watch.  The show is visceral.  It is heartbreaking to watch at times.  It is quite difficult to watch at times.  However, I think it also has the potential to open up a dialogue about a challenging subject between parents and their teens.

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

Big Little Lies

Did you watch Big Little Lies on HBO?  If you're looking for a short, intense drama series this one might be worth a watch.  I read the book upon which the series by Liane Moriarty years ago, and while there are similarities between the two, there are also significant plot differences.  

Ultimately I found the series a compelling drama, difficult to watch at times as it features some heavy topics including rape, infidelity, and domestic violence and rape in a marriage.  Having said that, it also employs the typical plot twists that keep you on the hook episode to episode, wanting more.  It debuted in the traditional series format of one episode per week, but now all seven are live so you could opt to binge watch it if so inclined.  Nicole Kidman gives an astonishingly strong but wounded performance, in my humble opinion.

However, one of my favorite parts of this series was its soundtrack!  My personal favorite is the Elvis cover of "Don't" by cast member, Zoe Kravitz.  The soundtrack is packed with catchy R&B songs as well as new riffs on familiar favorites.  Worth a listen!

Have you tuned into Big Little Lies?  What did you think?

image/thespin

Good Friday Fun

Happy Easter!  We'll be participating in a few egg hunts around our neighborhood this weekend, feasting on brunch goodies all day long, and visiting with some out of town family.  Have a good one!

+ how cool are these succulent cupcakes?!  (pictured above) and more succulent sweets here.

+ loving this before/after house tour, I love seeing the potential a home can have (I don't personally have an eye for this but find it fascinating!)

+ this little girls dressed covered with toucans is simply adorable


+ have you ever used google flights? if so, what do you think?  I'm so curious!

+ eyeing this amazing spread

+ loving these simple, easy pretzel m&m bites for kids easter snacks

+ curious to try making detroit style pizza at home.  fun fact: my husband grew up eating buddy's pizza which was the inspiration for this detroit pizza trend (while I'm taking a a moderate vacation from the gluten-bandwagon, my family is still on board).

+ going to take this personality test this weekend!

image/ivenoven