Friday, May 29, 2015

Celiac Disease Awareness Month 2015

I've been a bad gluten-free blogger this month.

That's because May is Celiac Disease Awareness Month (CDAM), and I really haven't talked about it much. If you follow me on social media (links to the right), you've probably seen me repost and share stuff about CDAM from other people this month, but I haven't created any of my own content for it and I'm sorry about that.

So right at the tail end of CDAM, I thought I'd post about the five years my husband and I have been on our gluten-free journey.

My husband didn't start presenting symptoms of Celiac until the summer of 2009 right before our honeymoon. (We had gotten married three months before going on our honeymoon.) He had constant stomach pain and felt like he couldn't breathe at times. We went on our honeymoon but made three trips to three different doctors while on vacation because my husband felt so bad. The first two doctors said it was acid reflux and told my husband to take Zantac. That didn't work. The third doctor sent my husband for an ultrasound because he thought my husband had stomach cancer. (Thank goodness for PPO health insurance letting us go to whatever doctor we wanted wherever we wanted with no referrals!) The ultrasound was negative.

Once back at home, my husband went to a general practitioner who told him it was all in his head. Then someone referred us to a gastroenterologist. This doctor was the first person to suggest the possibility of a Celiac diagnosis to us.

If you don't know, Celiac Disease is a genetic autoimmune disease. (Other autoimmune diseases include Lupus and Crohn's disease.) When a person with Celiac ingests gluten, the body sees gluten as something bad and attacks it. This leads to a host of symptoms such as stomach pain, bloating, joint pain, diarrhea, skin rash, weight loss, constipation, and more. There is no cure for Celiac (and the cause is not really known). The only way to alleviate the symptoms is to go on a gluten-free diet. If left untreated, Celiac Disease can lead to other medial issues such as malnutrition, osteoporosis, infertility, and cancer.

We researched Celiac Disease and gluten-free food. We were so discouraged by the high prices of gluten-free bread! Part of us really wanted the diagnosis to NOT be Celiac Disease because of the financial drain we anticipated experiencing when buying food my husband could eat. (I actually wrote a little about this in 2010 in this blog post, which goes off on a tangent about corn. This was right after I read The Omnivore's Dilemma.)

But the endoscopy showed visual proof of Celiac Disease and the blood test confirmed it. So in 2010, we began to change up the way we ate.

"No Gluten" layout from February 2010
It was certainly a learning process. I mean, I wrote this blog post where I erroneously referred to Celiac as a "food allergy". We have certainly learned a lot in five years! There were two sessions with a nutritionist specializing in Celiac Disease. We made special trips to Whole Foods and Trader Joe's 30 minutes away to stock up on gluten-free pasta and bread. My husband discovered Udi's gluten-free bread (and hasn't looked back!).

And then we started to notice a change. More and more regular grocery stores seemed to be carrying gluten-free food. Walmart. A&P. Stop and Shop. Target. ShopRite. Schnuck's. Dierberg's. We didn't have to make special trips to Whole Foods or Trader Joe's.

More and more restaurants started offering gluten-free menus, and many of those restaurants do take necessary precautions to ensure that cross-contamination doesn't happen in the kitchen.

More and more gluten-free food manufacturers popped up to offer more variety for gluten-free eaters.

More and more regular food companies began labeling which of their products were gluten-free. And some of begun producing gluten-free versions of their food, such as Barilla and Ronzoni with their gluten-free pasta.

The gluten-free food still costs more than the regular food, but it's certainly not what we expected five years ago. I should also mention that the gluten-free food of today tastes good, which wasn't always the case with some of the food we tried five years ago, and it's certainly leaps and bounds different from what was available 10, 15, and 20 years ago.

It's still not easy to have Celiac Disease, but it's easier.

If you want to know more about Celiac, see if you might have Celiac, or help organizations further research this disease, just click on this link for the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Measure In Strength Scrapbook Page

Today's scrapbook layout features Fancy Pants Designs "About a Girl" papers and embellishments and American Crafts Thickers. I really like the "About a Girl" stuff, but I really haven't used it much in my scrapbooking because it's a little too "teen girl". But I found some of the papers in the collection with sentiments that really seemed to fit with this picture.

This is a picture of me taken after a Zumba class last fall. Since July 2014, I've been spending my lunch breaks taking yoga, pilates, and Zumba classes at a fitness studio in New York. I really enjoy the classes, but here's the thing: I haven't lost ANY weight. However, that's okay! Because I definitely feel much stronger (my bum hip doesn't bother me anymore and I recently speed-walked a half marathon) and I've noticed a difference in my migraine frequency (chalking that up to yoga).

Part of the journaling on this layout is a quote from Laurie Halse Anderson: "I am beginning to measure myself in strength, not pounds. Sometimes in smiles."

That could not be more true! I hope you guys are able to find some truth in that statement, as well, and are able to find a really great Zumba or yoga studio near you. Seriously, these classes are so much fun!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Gluten Free Grilled Ham and Cheese Corn Cookies

Yesterday, I wrote a review of the new Milk Bar Life cookbook from Milk Bar owner Christina Tosi. There were so many good recipes in this cookbook, but the one I decided to make first was the recipe for Grilled Ham and Cheese Corn Cookies.

Ham. Melted cheese. Corn bread.

In the words of Chris Rock: "Corn bread. Ain't nothin' wrong with that."

There was only one problem with making this. The cookbook doesn't include the recipe for the corn cookies! Now, you can find the recipe for Momofuku's corn cookies online (thanks, Google!) but you'll need an ingredient called freeze-dried corn powder. It's apparently not something you can buy in a grocery store, so if you want to order it online and wait to receive it before making this recipe, then go for it! You can also order pre-made corn cookies from Milk Bar's online store!

But the pre-made ones are not gluten-free and I didn't feel like ordering freeze-dried corn powder, so if you're in my boat, here's a little cheat: use this recipe for corn cookies, substitute the all-purpose flour with gluten-free all-purpose flour, and don't roll the dough in sugar. (You'll need a few extra hours to let the dough rest in the fridge, so make sure to build that into your prep and cooking time.)

OKAY! With all of that out of the way, you've got your cookies, you've got your deli ham, you've got your cheddar cheese. I veered a little from the original instructions by building these as I would a traditional grilled cheese sandwich, grilling them in a skillet, and eating.

Not all of our sandwiches stayed together, but just grab a fork and knife for eating. The sweetness of the corn cookies with the salty ham and the gooey cheese is really a nice combination. These got a thumbs up from my husband, so we'll definitely make these again.

If you want to find more yummy recipes from the Milk Bar Life cookbook, you can purchase it here.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Milk Bar Life - Cookbook Review

Working in New York, I had sort of heard of Momofuku Milk Bar but had never been there.

So when I got the chance to review a free copy of the Milk Bar Life cookbook by Milk Bar owner Christina Tosi, I thought I should also make the time to visit one of the city's Milk Bar locations.

If you don't know, Milk Bar is all about yummy goodies, such as milkshakes, pies, and cookies. The East Village location even has gluten-free cookies (though they are not made in a dedicated gluten-free facility, so be forewarned).

I had the pretzel milkshake, and oh boy was it a wonderful combination of salty and sweet!

The Milk Bar Life cookbook is more than just desserts. It encompasses recipes that Tosi makes when she's at home, recipes that her family members have passed down to her, and recipes shared with Tosi by her co-workers and fellow chef friends. Some of the recipes that I thought sounded good were Grilled Ham and Cheese Corn Cookies, Kitchen Sink Quiche, and Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Chorizo Burgers. (I tried my hand at one of these recipes, even successfully making it gluten-free, but you'll have to wait until tomorrow for more on that!)

What I like about this cookbook is that the recipes are divided into different chapter categories. So no matter what the event (cookout/bonfire, "weak" nights, craft night/sleepover), you can easily find the recipes you need! There are also cooking tips and advice to make your time in the kitchen easier!

And any cookbook that offers a recipe (and a shout-out to St. Louis) for Gooey Butter Cake with pumpkin flavoring is alright by me!!

Who would this cookbook be perfect for? Fans of Momofuku Milk Bar, obviously, but also foodies and anyone looking for some cool new twists on favorites.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Keep it Real and Grab a Plunger - Book Review

image credit
Whether you're a new parent or you've got tweens and teens, you might sometimes wonder, "Am I doing this right?" or "How can I become a better parent?" Author Julie K. Nelson has been in the trenches where you are now. She's a mother of five, blogs about parenting over at A Spoonful of Parenting, and has written two books on parenting, including the one I got the chance to review: Keep it Real and Grab a Plunger: 25 Tips for Surviving Parenthood.

Over 25 chapters, Nelson takes you through all aspects of parenting and how to more effectively discipline, nurture, and prepare your children for their independent futures. Nelson has a lot of personal stories to share on how she did it right or made a mistake. Many of her stories are humorous. I suppose as a parent, you have to find the funny in order to make it through the day sometimes, especially when you're baby has vomited all over the place and is running around naked in public.

Not every chapter will be relevant to all parents. For instance, if you're not divorced or widowed, the chapters about divorced parents or remarrying will not resonate with you. But I like that Nelson included these chapters because often these are things that parents face, and they can be tough things for parents to figure out how to navigate through while still keeping their kids' trust and respect.

I'm not a parent, so I wasn't able to put any of these tips into practice, but I will definitely keep this book around as a resource in case I do become a parent and need some tips to get me through.

If you want to find out more about this book, check out this book trailer video:

Keep It Real and Grab a Plunger is published by Plain Sight Publishing, an imprint of Cedar Fort. I received a free review copy for my honest review.

Thursday, May 21, 2015


Today's scrapbook layout is a one-pager featuring the last batch of pictures from our Christmas trip to St. Louis. On the last day of our trip, we went out to lunch with my great aunt at The Blue Owl. I titled this layout "Generations" because the picture is of me, my mom, and my mom's aunt. It's almost like having a picture of me, my mom, and my grandma because my great aunt has sort of been like a grandma to me ever since my actual grandmother died when I was a little kid.

Outside of the restaurant there was one of the St. Louis birthday cakes to celebrate the city's 250th birthday. My parents got pictures of almost all of the cakes last year!

I had this very flowery paper kit that I thought would work well for these pictures. I no longer have the name of the paper kit's manufacturer, but it was really nice because it came with stickers, and sticker letters, and other embellishments.

The fabric flowers were not part of the kit. I saw them in my stash and just decided that I liked the way they looked with the rest of this layout. I also whipped out one of my border punches for this layout. I had a really cool flowery paper punch that would have gone so well with this layout, but the punch broke a few months ago, so I had to make do with one of the other two punches I own.

I think a trip to TJ Maxx is in order for more paper punches. They always have good discounts on scrapbooking stuff, did you know that?

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Jeweled Rice and Chicken Sausage

What do you do when you have a spouse who refuses to eat quinoa? (Even though you tricked him into eating quinoa one time and he said it was good and when you told him it was quinoa he said, "Yuck.")

Much like all of gluten-free cooking, you ADAPT.

My husband hates quinoa but he loves rice.

(Not brown rice, mind you. Only white rice. I tried getting him to eat brown rice but he was having none of it.)

So I adapted the recipe for Jeweled Quinoa with Chicken Sausage from the Bob's Red Mill Everyday Gluten-Free Cookbook to make it more palatable, yet still gluten-free, for my picky eater. (It also takes less time to cook my version.)

Jeweled Rice and Chicken Sausage
Ingredients: (makes 2 servings)
1 package of chicken sausage (Johnsonville is gluten-free, but gluten-free Al Fresco has more flavor options)
Minute Rice (white rice)
gluten-free vegetable broth or chicken broth
slivered almonds (make sure the almonds haven't been processed on shared equipment)
dried cherries (or dried cranberries infused with cherry juice; Ocean Spray is gluten-free)
parsley (fresh or dried)

1. Cut up the chicken sausage and cook it according to the package directions.
2. In a small saucepan, bring one cup of broth to a boil. (If you don't have broth, just use water.)
3. Once the broth is boiling, stir in one cup of Minute Rice. Remove the saucepan from heat, toss in a handful of the dried cherries, and cover the saucepan for five minutes.
4. Once the chicken sausage is cooked through and the rice/dried cherries have sat for five minutes, combine both the chicken sausage and the rice/dried cherries in either a separate bowl or the saucepan where you cooked the rice.
5. Stir in a handful of slivered almonds.
6. Serve onto plates or bowls and top with a few sprinkles of parsley.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Home Team

Remember last week when I said I had 75 pictures printed at Walgreens? Here's where most of those pictures came from:

Over the Christmas break, we took a tour of Busch Stadium! I lived in St. Louis for the first 22 years of my life and never took a tour of this place, so it was nice to finally get a chance to see it behind the scenes.

There were so many pictures, and I really just wanted to get them laid out and in the scrapbook so that I could move on and maybe FINALLY finish up my 2014 album. (Technically, it should be called 2014 album part 3.) 

So I kept things really simple and use the large 5x7 picture we purchased while on the tour as the opening page and put all the other 4x6 photos I printed at Walgreens into photo slot pages.

This tour was really cool, by the way. We got to go into the press box, check out some VIP areas, and sit in the dug-out! You couldn't go on the field, though, but that's understandable. It was still pretty neat just being down at field level like that. We also did the Hall of Fame and Museum where we got to hold some of the Cardinals' baseball bats! That was a really well-done museum! If you're going to visit St. Louis (and really, why wouldn't you?), definitely make this one of your tourist stops!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Meal Plan Monday - May 18

Over the weekend, I got to celebrate a cute little girl's 1st birthday! Loving this infographic that was no doubt designed by her very talented graphic designer mother. (You can see more of her work on her etsy page.)

After that, I spent the rest of the crazy rainy evening planning out what we'd be eating for this week. And here is what I came up with:

Sunday: grilled ham and cheese corn cookies

Monday: sloppy joes, fries, and corn on the cob

Tuesday: Mrs. Leeper's pasta fagioli and grilled cheese

Wednesday: hash browns and scrambled eggs

Thursday: pasta

Friday: on our own

Saturday: on our own

Sunday: on our own

Yes, it's sort of a short week for us. What are you guys eating?

Friday, May 15, 2015

National Pizza Party Day

Today is National Pizza Party Day! Yay! This unofficial holiday is always the third Friday in May. And that's today!

Just because you're gluten-free doesn't mean you can't participate in this fun little holiday. There are plenty of gluten-free pizza crusts, mixes, and frozen pizzas from great brands such as Udi's, Against the Grain, Schar, Pillsbury, and Bob's Red Mill. All of these products taste good so you don't have to miss out on pizza!

I have a Pizza Party Pinterest board with a variety of different pizza recipes to try. On this board, you'll find some of our favorite recipes that I've shared here on the blog as well as other cool recipes for pizza, breadsticks, dessert pizzas, and even pizza-themed apparel from other sites. Check out the Pizza Party board here:

Don't forget: you can make all of them gluten-free just by substituting the regular crust for a gluten-free crust. You might have to check to make sure that any toppings you use are gluten-free, but I know that Hormel pepperoni is gluten-free (and says it right on the package) and most shredded cheese is also gluten-free.

What's your favorite pizza?

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Missouri History

So a few weekends ago, I got 75 photos printed at Walgreens. 75!! It was a lot of pictures, and that was AFTER I had whittled the total number down! I couldn't whittle any more, so I decided to take all 75 pictures and just use up some of my photo pocket pages to make easy and quick layouts with all of these pictures. Here's the first one I did.

These are pictures from the Daniel Boone Home in Defiance, Missouri. When we were in St. Louis over Christmas, we got our fill of Missouri history! The tour of this house was good, although a little long-winded. (Please, people, stop asking so many questions on these tours!!)

I had one picture that wasn't vertical, but I didn't mind placing it in this all-vertical page. Just turn your head to look at it!!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Please Stop Asking Women When They're Going to Have a Baby

Last weekend on Facebook, I shared this article written by Anne Lamott on why she hates Mother's Day. Lamott is a great writer, and I was glad that even as a mother, she was able to make this point:
But Mother’s Day celebrates a huge lie about the value of women: that mothers are superior beings, that they have done more with their lives and chosen a more difficult path.
This really goes beyond just Mother's Day, though. I don't understand what society's fascination is with women pro-creating. (And then when we do have kids, we don't receive the support we need, at least in America.) No one bothers men about when they're going to have babies. But that's because of a misguided notion that women's purpose is to have babies. As though we aren't capable of doing anything else with our lives. As though just because we have ovaries, we should all want or be able to have babies. As though we aren't really women unless we become mothers.

I've actually had someone ask me what I scrapbooked about if I didn't have kids. What kind of question is that? I don't sit around on my time off thinking, "Oh, I don't have kids. I can't go do anything." I have a LIFE.

I've also had perfect strangers inquire about the vacancy status of my uterus. I'm sorry, but if I don't know your name, you have no right to ask me personal questions. I also don't need people telling me that I (and my sister-in-law) need to "get on the pregnancy train".

If you don't know someone or their circumstances, then please do not comment. She could be holding off on having kids for financial reasons (as many American women are doing) or she could be infertile, and thanks so much for bringing THAT up.

Also, please don't ever greet a woman with "Are you pregnant yet?" and then proceed to list the number of kids or grandkids you have. This is not a competition.

I know a lot of women in person and through the internet who are child-free either because they don't want kids at all or they want kids but can't afford them right now or they want kids but can't conceive. The decision to have kids is a personal one that a couple makes together. You, as a co-worker, family friend, pastor, or whoever, don't get to have a say in the matter. Get out of people's bedrooms!

Whether or not you're a mom, women are capable of doing amazing things every day. We are business owners, pilots, military personnel, writers, teachers, news reporters, politicians, doctors, nurses, pastors, nuns, social workers, therapists, and on and on. As women, we have a unique ability to love and nurture not just children of our own, but other people's children, our friends, our family members, our employees, our constituents, our world. Sure it's fun to follow along with Princess Kate's latest pregnancy news (and rumors), but all this other stuff should be celebrated, too!

But if you are so concerned about me having a baby, please feel free to donate to the Laurie & Mike Have a Baby Fund. We accept cash and checks.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Easy Throw-Together Gluten-Free Meals

Need some easy gluten-free weeknight meals? How about one (or both!) of these recipes that I literally threw together mostly using stuff we already had on-hand. I might have needed to purchase a few extras at the grocery store the week we made these, but I didn't need much.

Chicken & Rice Fiesta Bowls
For this, I basically took all the toppings from this veggie pizza (avocado, black beans, corn), added some chicken and spices (cumin, chili powder), and threw it all on top of rice. A little cilantro on top was a nice touch. (This also made good lunch leftovers.)

Ham & Egg Hash
I made this after Easter. We got a free ham at ShopRite, so we cooked it and ate it one night, and then saved some of the leftover ham for this. Just scramble up some eggs, dice up your ham, cook some hashbrowns, mix it all together, and throw some chopped green onion on top. Done and done! I love breakfast for dinner, don't you?

Monday, May 11, 2015

Meal Plan Monday - May 11

Hope you guys had a good Mother's Day! This week is a pretty normal one for us, so let's just get right to it:

Sunday: TBD - probably pizza

Monday: chicken, bacon, cheese, and ranch dressing salad

Tuesday: hot dogs, fries, and corn

Wednesday: jeweled chicken sausage with rice

Thursday: tilapia, green beans almondine, and rice

Friday: turkey bacon cheeseburgers, fries, and Reese's Pieces milkshakes

Saturday: All-in-One Breakfast Waffle

Friday, May 8, 2015

Scrapbooking Guest Post - My Mom!

Closing out this week's round of Mother's Day blog posts with a guest scrapbook layout from who else? My mom! She actually made this page to be framed. 

The top picture is of my mom and me at a wedding when I was a kid. My mom was in the wedding party and I was the flower girl. The bottom picture is of my mom and me at MY wedding!

Isn't my mom a talented scrapbooker? She got into scrapbooking because I was so into it, and now she probably has more tools and tries more new techniques than I do!

Because we live in two separate states, we never get to scrapbook together. (Wish we could, though, so we could share our stuff.) Oh well!

Thanks, Mom, for sharing this layout! Happy Mother's Day!!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

This Mother's Day, Let Go of the Mom Guilt and Embrace "Imperfect Parenting"

Today I'm sharing with you a guest post from psychotherapist and Right Life Project founder Jim Hjort. When this email came into my inbox, I read it and thought it might just be the message that so many of my mom friends need to hear. So I'm reprinting it for you here today. Feel free to share with your mom friends or with your own mom - whoever you think needs to read this!



Psychotherapist & Right Life Project Founder Jim Hjort Explains Why Being A "Good Enough" Mom Is Perfectly OK

Mother’s Day is a great time to explore and unwind some of the myths and expectations around motherhood that converge to place moms under a great deal of pressure to perform. Not all of them come from society or finger-waggers on the playground, either; moms are often the victims of self-inflicted friendly fire.

The Perfect Mother Myth, Busted
Part of the problem is the long history in psychological circles of placing the onus of successful childrearing squarely upon the mother. Fathers played very much a secondary role in childhood development among early theorists like Freud, and the belief propagated that one or two missteps on the mother’s part were enough to scar Junior forever.

We know now, though, that a perfect mother isn’t necessary for a child to turn out perfectly well adjusted. There are certain things that a parent should provide for a child to foster their healthy development, like emotional and physical attunement to the child’s expression of needs, and support for their exploration of the world on their own—while also providing a safe home base to which the child can return.

But children aren’t quite as fragile as once thought. A misattunement here or there doesn’t spell disaster. We also know now while the primary caregiver (of either sex) is a most important figure for a child, both parents carry a great deal of influence. So moms, you’re not alone on the hook.

Distorted Reflections
But myths that well-established don’t die easily and, as highly social animals, comparing ourselves to the mythical perfect mother, and to each other, comes very naturally. Whether we like to admit it or not, most of us care how we are seen by others (people who genuinely do not care what any other person thinks of them are in dangerous territory, actually).

As a result, not only do we compare our perception of ourselves to our perception of others, but we also tend to broadcast images of ourselves that are likely to draw favorable reviews, even if it just means wearing clean clothes to your business meeting instead of your tattered sweatpants. There’s a term for this: “impression management.”

These comparing and broadcasting tendencies, however, create a problem. We’re comparing ourselves to a perception of someone else that is at least in part fictional. More likely, it’s highly fictional, and when we don’t measure up to it, we feel inadequate. Even if we project an image of measuring up, it takes effort to display that image if it doesn't match the inside.

As deeply rooted in our social nature as these phenomena are, they aren't easy to change. Sometimes my clients find it helpful just to understand that comparison and impression management are perfectly natural and, thus, they’re not the only ones doing it. But there are certainly ways to feel more comfortable in your “good enough”-ness.

Your Fact-Finding Mission
The one I’ll mention here is pretty simple. Any negative self-assessments you may have probably take the form of thoughts; it would be good for you to make a list of them. Let’s use this one as an example: “I’m always screwing up with my son. I’ll never be a good mother.” Now, what you need to do is separate fact from opinion.

If you recently committed a parenting error—let’s say, forgetting to pick your child up from day care—then that’s a fact. Are you “always screwing up” and will you “never be a good mother?” Well, the first clue that these are opinions is the presence of the words “always” and “never.” People are rarely always or never anything.

But you can cross-examine those statements yourself. Think of (or list) the times when you were a Class A parent, and the times that you did remember to pick your child up, which are probably much more numerous. The human brain has a tendency to emphasize the negative, so you need to make effort to flesh out the full picture.

Once you've done that, restate the original thought with the new perspective and evidence you've gathered. For instance: “I forgot Johnny at daycare today—the second time I've done that. It’s not like me, because the vast majority of the time I’m very much on the ball and a loving and responsible mother. Still, I feel terrible about what happened. So I’m going to make an extra effort to get organized and leave myself reminders, so this never happens again.”

See what we did there? We produced a statement that acknowledges the negative and the positive, using solid evidence on both sides, that expresses the reality of what is going on. It’s not a hollow, feel-good affirmation. Let the opinions go and bank on the objective facts, and you’ll feel much better about yourself.

Intangible Self-Care
Speaking of feeling better, Mother’s Day was conceived as an occasion to honor the important role the mother plays in the world, and it makes for a good excuse to pamper yourself. I encourage you to take the opportunity to have your nails done, or buy yourself some new clothing if you like those things. However, I also encourage you to consider activities that pamper the parts of yourself that you can’t see.

Our social nature means that deeply felt interpersonal connection with others is a crucial ingredient in our ability to thrive—whether we’re an infant or a mother. Therefore, a high-quality conversation with a close friend or family member would be an example of intangible self-care.

Others would include clearing your schedule for a long walk in a pretty place, taking a class in an area of interest, or giving a new hobby a try. You could also take some quiet time to create a personal mission statement for the next year of your life. It doesn't need to be boring, like homework. Just let your mind run free to an ideal vision of your life, and start working backward to identify the things that are really important to you, and how you might get closer to them. It can be an empowering and refreshing exercise.

Above all, be sure to take some time to cultivate some appreciation for yourself, for all of the good work you do as a mom, and all of your good intentions. Let it soak in, and enjoy it. Sure, you could probably use some improvement—who couldn't? And you’re also probably doing pretty great just the way you are. 

- Jim Hjort, founder of the Right Life Project

About Jim Hjort and the Right Life Project
Jim Hjort, LCSW helps us overcome roadblocks to self-actualization as a psychotherapist, Right Life Coach, and mindfulness meditation instructor. He founded the Right Life Project to help you understand how to handle the different dimensions of your life (psychological, social, physical, and vocational) in ways that enable you to be happier and more fulfilled, and to reach your full potential.You can check out his blog and podcast here, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Mother's Day Pinterest Board

I can't share with you what I'm getting my mom and mother-in-law for Mother's Day without ruining the surprise! But I can share with you a Mother's Day Pinterest board I curated with all sorts of gift ideas (some DIY) and Mother's Day brunch recipes. Hope you like what I've pinned for you:

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Books for Bookish Moms

Mother's Day is Sunday, if you didn't know. And if you still haven't gotten your mom anything to thank her for pushing you out of her body and then raising you, well, you might want to get on that.

Does your mom like to read? Maybe one of these books, which are about women and/or written by women, would make a great Mother's Day gift!

(I haven't read any of these books, but they are all on my to-read list. Links take you to each book's GoodReads page.)

Books for Inspiring Mom with Inspirational Women
The Lady and the Peacock: The Life of Aung San Suu Kyi by Peter Popham
Sally Ride: America's First Woman in Space by Lynn Sherr
Infidel by Ayann Hirsi Ali
Sum It Up: 1,098 Victories, a Couple of Irrelevant Losses, and a Life in Perspective by Pat Summitt
Keeping Hope Alive: One Woman, 90,000 Lives Changed by Hawa Abdi
Everybody's Got Something by Robin Roberts
Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board by Bethany Hamilton
The Favored Daughter: One Woman's Fight to Lead Afghanistan Into the Future by Fawzia Koofi
Mighty Be Our Powers: How Sisterhood, Prayer, and Sex Changed a Nation at War by Leymah Gbowee
Adventure Divas: Searching the Globe for Women Who Are Changing the World by Holly Morris

Books for Fashionable Moms
Women from the Ankle Down: The Story of Shoes and How They Define Us by Rachelle Bergstein
The Woman I Wanted to Be by Diane von Furstenberg
Tim Gunn's Fashion Bible: The Fascinating History of Everything in Your Closet by Tim Gunn

Books for Religious/Spiritual Moms
A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans
Women, Food, and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything by Geneen Roth

Books for Moms Who Love to Laugh
Girl Walks into a Bar: Comedy Calamities, Dating Disasters, and a Midlife Miracle by Rachel Dratch
Yes Please by Amy Poehler
We Killed: The Rise of Women in American Comedy by Yael Kohen
If It's Not One Thing, It's Your Mother by Julia Sweeney

Books for Moms Who Like Pop Culture
The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore
Melissa Explains it All: Tales from My Abnormally Normal Life by Melissa Joan Hart
Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon - and the Journey of a Generation by Sheila Weller
I Don't Know What You Know Me From: Confessions of a Co-Star by Judy Greer
Let's Just Say It Wasn't Pretty by Diane Keaton
All That is Bitter and Sweet: A Memoir by Ashley Judd

Books for History-Buff Moms
Night Witches: The Amazing Story of Russia's Women Pilots in WWII by Bruce Myles
The Shriver Report: A Women's Nation Pushes Back from the Brink by Maria Shriver
Wonder Women: Sex, Power, and the Quest for Perfection by Debora L. Spar
Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History by Florence Williams
The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II by Denise Kiernan
You've Come a Long Way, Baby: Women, Politics, and Popular Culture by Lilly J. Goren

Books for Literary Moms
The Mockingbird Next Door: Life with Harper Lee by Marja Mills
It's a Girl: Women Writers on Raising Daughters by Andrea J. Buchanan
Desire: Women Write About Wanting by Lisa Solod Warren

Books for Moms Who Just Can't Be Boxed Into a Category
30 Things Every Woman Should Have and Should Know by the Time She's 30 by Pamela Redmond Satran
...And His Lovely Wife: A Memoir from the Woman Beside the Man by Connie Schultz
The War on Moms: On Life in a Family-Unfriendly Nation by Sharon Lerner
The Secret Lives of Wives: Women Share What It Really Takes to Stay Married by Iris Krasnow
Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg

Monday, May 4, 2015

Meal Plan Monday - May 4

Happy beginning of May! I'm sure you've already seen this one before, but just in case you missed it:

You're welcome!

And here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday: pork and potatoes with minted yogurt (an adaptation from this Better Homes & Gardens recipe)

Monday: waffles and eggs (Happy Star Wars Day!)

Tuesday: crispy southwest chicken wraps (Happy Cinco de Mayo!)

Wednesday: sloppy joe's and fries

Thursday: hot dogs and mac and cheese

Friday: leftovers

Saturday: out (Happy 6th anniversary to us!)

Friday, May 1, 2015

Top 7 Books About Food

I recently read the book Wheat Belly, controversial as it may be within the Celiac community, and I realized something: it echoed a lot of points in other food books I've read. Namely, pushing for a limit on sugar and carbs, which turn into sugar by your body, and eating less processed and more REAL food.

So I compiled a list of these books along with a few other books on the topic of food that I liked. I think these are all important books that will get you thinking about what exactly you're putting into your body and where it comes from.

7. Spent: End Exhaustion and Feel Great Again by Frank Lipman - While I only gave this book three stars due to lack of money and time to implement the routine the book suggests and a lack of updated website, the points in this book have stuck with me. This was the first book I read that suggested eliminating wheat from your diet, not as a way to lose weight but as a way to give your body back energy. According to this book, we're all so tired because we keep consuming wheat and our bodies, not being equipped to properly digest wheat, expend a lot of energy getting the job done.

6. Wheat Belly by William Davis - I in no way endorse a gluten-free diet as a weight loss diet, but I think there is something to be said about some of the points in this book. Everyone is so concerned with high-fructose corn syrup (more about that later) and eating more whole grains, but it could actually be the whole grains (which are not being grown the way our ancestors grew them years and years ago) that are causing rising rates of diabetes and obesity.

5. I Quit Sugar by Sarah Wilson - We know too much sugar is no good, and this book/cookbook chronicles one Australian woman's weight gain and subsequent sugar detox (and weight loss) while providing the reader with recipes to do the same at home.

4. The Daniel Plan by Rick Warren, Daniel G. Amen, and Mark Hyman - For a more faith-based approach to food, this book includes healthier recipes and a detox diet plan where you cut out things like dairy and wheat. I recently made the book's chicken primavera bowls to great success!

3. Sugar Nation by Jeff O'Connell (my review 4 stars) - This was the first book I read that linked carbs to sugar. Did you know that upon consumption your body turns carbs into sugar? So you're eating whatever sugar is already in the food and then getting more of it from carbs. This is how the author, a thin and fit man, was diagnosed with pre-diabetes.

2. Gluten Freedom by Alessio Fasano with Susie Flaherty - The definitive book if you've been diagnosed with Celiac disease or have a family member who's been diagnosed. This book debunks all the myths and looks into the scientific facts behind why people might develop Celiac disease or gluten intolerances.

1. The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan - The definitive book on food! Parts of it are not for the faint of heart, but if you really want to know where your food comes from (and not all of it comes from a natural source), then you'll want to read this book. It also inspired a little rant that I posted in 2010 about corn and high-fructose corn syrup. Seriously, after reading this book, all I wanted to do was talk to people about corn.