My Favorite Mama Christmas Things!

Happy Black Friday! 

I love it.  I love cyber Monday.  I love coffee and shopping everyday.

Getting up before the sun, before my kids, sneaking out, getting a coffee, and then wandering around for the first hours of the day.  Sometimes I buy things, sometimes I don't, but I always people watch.  

I'm not a mow-others-down, have to get to Walmart, kinda girl.  I hate Walmart.  I do love sipping coffee strolling in and out of every store (but Walmart), listening to Christmas songs, enjoying being by myself in the midst of many.

I am trying a new way of shopping for the kids this year... but below... these are the gifts I am hoping are under your tree this year, for YOU!  I hope they help you relax, stay comfortable and warm, and reward you for your all our mommy goodness!  You deserve it :) 

Here are my top 5 favorite mama things THIS year (or more accurately... right now... more to come later!)... 

The Kai Beanie {MaxLove Organic}
The Kai Beanie, made by MaxLove.  Named after the sweetest boy, with the strongest mama, MaxLove created an organic beanie dedicated to Kai.  These will definitely be under the tree this year.

I know, kind of a splurge, but I am a huge iPad fan.  It is my only iAnything - and I love it.  LOVE it.  It's a facebook machine, it's a book, it's a movie screen, it's a boom box, it's a laptop replacement. 

I might be dreaming... but these are the rage in the Northeast... do you have a pair?  Are they all they are cracked up to be?  Do they go with your very best yoga pants?!  I am saving up for a pair... or maybe Santa will deliver me some Uggs

I'm not going into the gory details don't worry - but mamas - do yourselves a favor, your feet are comfy cozy in those Uggs, will you please TRY a cup so you can be comfortable... everywhere?!  PLEASE?  It is going to change your life.  Guaranteed. 


These candles.  Honestly.  Peace, serenity, soy goodness.  I love them!

What's on your Christmas list? Any of the things I hope you'll get? 



1 Ingredient, 1 Step, Caramel

Dazzle your guests with some homemade caramel - with something you probably have in your pantry! 

It's pretty easy people.

Take the label off a can of sweetened condensed milk.
Boil it for 3 hours.
It's caramel.

A soft, gooey, you want to put it on your ice cream, apple pie, and everything else caramel. 



What's Right with Today's Kids

Many times you hear things.

Things about how kids, teens, and young adults are without morals, selfish, thoughtless, rude, and so into their phones that they can't see anything else.

I, however, having chosen to spend most of my time with said kids, and I have to disagree. 

I have to disagree, because it's wrong.  

Are there problems with a generation taught to believe that everybody wins, everybody gets an A, and everybody graduates from college and should get a kick-butt job - SURE - but people... I promise there is SO much right with today's kids.  

Let's focus on that.  I think if we do the rest will fall into place.

Today's kids are:
  1. Accepting.  Today's kids accept everyone.  EVERY.ONE.  This has become the norm, it is non-negotiable.  It is amazing.  This goes for kids who are in their classes who might struggle for whatever reason, kids in the hall who don't look or act the same as "everyone else", kids who have less than they do, kids who have more.  Today's kids are far more accepting of all differences.  Not tolerant.  Accepting.
  2. Generous.  Sometimes to a fault.  I think all kids struggle to know how to best spend their money (hell, so do I!), but the kids I know, today's kids, are happy to share it, and give it away to those who need it more.  Food drive?  They're in.  Philippines relief?  Sign them up.  Today's kids want to help.  They want everyone to have the chances they do.  Today's kids are generous.
  3. Moral. Yup.  They are.  I know, you're all like, WAIT, they are sexting pictures on their phones, and watching terrible movies, and playing terrible video games - but I am here to tell you that LOTS of times,  The small thing.  The kind thing.  They pick up trash on the floor.  They hold the door for the teacher with her hands full.  They answer the phone for you.  They look out for the kid who needs some extra love, even if it is the same kid that is driving them insane.  They seek help for a friend that they themselves can't help.  They show you what is good, what is right, and what is moral. 
  4. Environmental.  Today's kids are far more knowledgeable about all things environmental than ever before.  They are concerned about their impact on their community as well as the world.  Sometimes they choose not to act on this knowledge, but they know more about organic food and renewable energy than I did as a teenager! 
  5. Loving.  Sure, they love each other, their parents, their fave teachers, but kids today LOVE on a big scale.  They are so connected to everything, everywhere.  They see suffering a world away and today's kids FEEL it.  They want to solve it.  They want to help.  Today's kids care about problems I didn't even know existed in high school.  They care, they love, they want to change things.
There's lots wrong in the world, we all know it.  But I for one have lots of hope.  LOTS of it.  Today's kids love larger, dream bigger, and help more.  If anyone can heal our divides, faults, and failures, today's kids can do it.  

Today's kids WILL do it.



Give me some GREEN Squooshi Smoothie

Well.  Back to work has been fab.  I love teaching, I love being in school, I love picking up my happy kids after a day playing with their pals at daycare.

Because I am not home as much as I was last year, however; I haven't been able to keep on top of E's eating habits as much as I would like.

The kid is ALL carbs. 

I mean I would be too, if you know, I wouldn't become a million pounds :) 

To combat his carb obsession, I have gone back to pouches... for "dessert" :) 

D will eat kale and spinach (and any other veggie) in it's natural form.  E not so much.  I continue to offer veggies (whichever ones we are having) at every meal, but I also have been giving them pouches for "dessert."  

They loved this one - and it is PACKED with the good stuff!! 

I don't work for Squooshi, but I love them.  Check them out :) 

Give me some GREEN Squooshi Smoothie
We use organic, fair trade, and or local ingredients
1 cup kale
1 cup spinach
2 sweet potatoes
2 apples (with skin)
1 cup grapes

Steam chopped veggies until fork tender.

 Add about ¼ to ½ cup of the liquid used to steam the veggies (the more water, the thinner, and smoother, the puree).

Blend until smooth.

I use an immersion blender and a tall cup. This allows me to move the blender up and down the cup until the mixture is really smooth (it takes about 5 minutes).


Working Mama's Beef Stew

Before you get all EVERY mom works - I know that silly!  This is for mamas who work at home or out of the home  or both - who just want dinner time to go a bit smoother and faster :) ALL mamas are amazing and they are ALL Mom of the Year to me!!

Working Mama’s Beef Stew
We use organic, fair trade, and or local ingredients
Night Before Ingredients:
2 cups of chopped carrots
1.5 cups chopped onion
1.5 cups chopped celery
2 cups chopped squash
2 cups chopped mushrooms

1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp paprika
1 bay leaf

Salt and Pepper

Morning of Ingredients:
1 cup of beef broth (or water)
1 cup of red wine
1 can of tomato sauce
1 lb chopped stew beef

Chop veggies and put into crockpot.

I like to sauté the mushrooms in butter first (I used shitake and baby Portobello) – but it isn't mandatory.

Put in spices and mix up.

Put into the fridge.

In the morning before work – put in liquid ingredients and beef.

You know your crockpot better than me – I put mine on low for 4 hours (before I am going to get home).

I serve this over rice, quinoa, or noodles. 



A Train Table Alternative

Before becoming a mom to a boy, I didn't know train tables existed. 

If you don't know what they are... they are a short table, made just for trains.  They are ALWAYS in the way, and made for trains only (with sides on the edges which prevent you from using it as a regular table).  That are at a perfect height to give you bruises in your shins when you walk into them in the dark, and they cramp the train building style of D.

If you don't want to take up space, or you want to have a table you can also use for coloring, Toppah crafted this alternative at the request of my creative Aunt L who was building with D and wanted something to get things from the foot locker to the floor, a ramp of some kind.  

Toppah used scrap wood (he is a cabinet maker... so there is plenty around).  He made the "track" for the track just a smidge bigger than the train track.  

That's it.  It is easily stored (under the couch, in a closet standing up, etc) and it is very versatile.  It is also used as a race track for two matchbox cars, it's a bridge, a hill, and a launching ramp, a slide for little people, and a bridge on which to build lego houses.  

It is a huge hit with all the boys - and cleans up in a cinch!!  We extend ours (see below) with some pieces of cardboard :) 



Gluten Free Apple Crisp

I'm sharing Apple Crisp over at Day2DayJoys today!  Did you know I contribute there once a month?  If you love things going on here - check out some of the back posts there - I bet you'll find something you like!! 

Have a great day!


I share my posts here.  It's an awesome list.  Check it out.  Seriously.  It's a great list and if you visit blog parties you are going to want to check them out!  It's up to date, organized by day, and the links all work <3

You Just Wait...

When did we start comparing how terrible our lives and children are?

When, instead of looking forward to how our children grow and change, did we start looking with dread about what terrible milestones we would make it to?

When did we stop celebrating happy things and start focusing on the bad that may or may not happen in the near or distant future?

This starts early.

You've heard it.  Think about all the warnings pregnant moms get about how their world is going to be totally turned upside down by their new baby...

"I feel great even though I am 6 months pregnant"
"You just wait until you have the baby, you'll never sleep again!!"

Then... just when they think they can celebrate... nope... it only gets worse, right?

"My 2 day old snuggled and slept all night!!"
"You just wait until he's home, he'll never sleep."

"My 1 year old is having the worst tantrums!"
"You just wait until she's 3, she will be impossible by then!!"

It continues through the "terrible twos" elementary school, and even through high school and college!

"My 4 year old won't stop asking me questions!"
"You just wait until he's 16, he'll never even look at you, never mind talk to you or ask you questions!!"

"My daughter won't listen to a word I say!"
"You just wait until she's in college, you'll never speak to her anymore!  You'll have to stalk her on instagram just to see where she is!"

Are we all participating in some kind of misery contest... who ever has the worst kid wins?  

Why do we feel compelled to one up each other's suffering OR to crush one another's happiness?  You're happy with your kid?!  Just you WAIT until he's as bad as mine is!

Recently all this misery one upping had me thinking about my education classes, and self-fulfilling prophecies.  Are we doomed to terrible relationships with our kids if we keep this up?   If we think things are going to get worse... will they?  What would happen if we thought things would only get better? 

What if we changed our language and our attitude?

What if instead of telling one another things get worse... we encouraged one another and shared what gets better?

What if we focused on the good in our kids rather than complaining about every single bad thing?

I am guilty on all accounts.

I have done this.

A lot.

It's hard, by nature, we want people to feel what we are feeling... and if we are tired from waking up 15 times at night, it is hard to see the silver lining, I feel it too... but if instead of swearing we have it worse than everyone else, what if we just started focusing on the good and forgetting (at least for a while) the bad?

Will our positive attitude affect our kids? 

I mean it can't get worse right ;) 

I'm trying it out starting today! 

Join me?


I share my posts here.  It's an awesome list.  Check it out.  Seriously.  It's a great list and if you visit blog parties you are going to want to check them out!  It's up to date, organized by day, and the links all work <3

Paleo, Gluten Free, CROCKPOT, Thanksgiving!

Don't get me wrong, I love stuffing as much as the next guy - but this was delicious, easy, and ready when I got home from work!  What's better than one Thanksgiving a year?  

More than one!

One you don't have to prepare for!

One that's ready after a day of work!


Paleo, GF, Crockpot, Thanksgiving!
We use organic, fair trade, and or local ingredients
4 big carrots peeled and cut in big pieces
4 ribs of celery cut in big pieces
1 butternut squash cut into big pieces
2 apples cored and cut
1 bag of cranberries
2 cups of liquid (stock or water)
2 tbs apple cider vinegar

(next time I might add more different kinds of squash – yes there will be a next time before Thanksgiving!)

Your favorite spices!  We used:
Garlic Powder
Onion Powder
Salt and Pepper

1 smallish turkey breast (the smallest one I could find was 5 pounds) – any bigger and fitting it all would have been a challenge.

Cranberry Topping!
1 bag of cranberries
4 apples peeled, cored and cut
2 tbs raw honey
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 cup of water

Put everything in the crock pot but the cranberry topping supplies.


(I always put everything but the meat in the crockpot the night before and pop everything into the crockpot before I leave for work.  This time I had to take everything out of the crockpot to fit the turkey in… it was a messy business).

Like I have said before – how long depends on your crockpot.  Mine is done, no matter what is in it, in less than 4 hours (even on low).  You know your crockpot better than I do.  When you get home, I promise, your house will smell like Thanksgiving!

For topping (none of that canned, artificially dyed crap please!):

Put ingredients in a sauce pan.

Cook on med-low till they’re saucy J (maybe 30 minutes). 


I share my posts here.  It's an awesome list.  Check it out.  Seriously.  It's a great list and if you visit blog parties you are going to want to check them out!  It's up to date, organized by day, and the links all work <3

Toppah's Meatballs

I have been using my dad's recipe for meatballs since I moved out in 2000 and went to college.  I used to make them for my roommates in college, my husband's roommates in college, my friends after college, and now enjoy them with my family, especially when the weather starts to get cold.  They are best served after cooking all day in some homemade sauce.  Something you can find cooking in my kitchen most Sundays during the winter.  Mmmmm.

The only thing I changed from the original recipe is the fact that I sautee the vegetables first.  Since making the switch to grass-fed meat, I have found this to make things taste better and not dry out.  See what you think!!  I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!!

Toppah’s Meatballs
We use organic, fair trade, and or local ingredients
1 lb of meat of your choice (a mix of beef, pork, and veal is good, turkey is fine, just plain beef is fine too!)  for this I used 1 lb of grass-fed, local beef – yum!

Olive oil
Half of an onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, minced

3/4 cup of breadcrumbs*
1/4 cup of pecorino-Romano (or parmesan) cheese
1/2 cup whole milk

1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp basil

Salt and Pepper

*I use gluten free bread crumbs in mine – I make them using the heels of gluten free bread, dried in the oven (with just the light on for 24 hours), put them in a zip lock bag, crush them up.  They work beautifully, and don’t look like that weird rice powder that the store is trying to pass off as breadcrumbs.  We use Udi’s bread which responded to me quickly when I asked that they were in the process of going GMO free.

Sautee chopped onion and garlic in olive oil.  I have found that this step counteracts the natural dryness that less fatty meat has.  When you use turkey or grass-fed meat – you might find it to taste differently or be less fatty.  When you sautee the veg going into the meat (as in the case with chicken burgers) it keeps everything moist.

In another bowl put the rest of the ingredients. When the onions are translucent, put them into the bowl with the rest. 

Mix everything gently, the less you have to mix the better.  When the ingredients are equally distributed you’re finished.

Roll the mixture into whatever size meatball you prefer.  We like smaller ones.

Put them on a lined broiler pan that has been drizzled with olive oil.  Broil meatballs until they are brown on top, then turn them over, and brown them on that side. 

Remove them from the oven and put them in sauce to complete the cooking process!



I share my posts here.  It's an awesome list.  Check it out.  Seriously.  It's a great list and if you visit blog parties you are going to want to check them out!  It's up to date, organized by day, and the links all work <3
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