Small Bites


Small bites.  Little sips.  Tiny tastes.  It’s so important to remember that we can take a smaller portion of lots of things.  Life doesn’t just have to be all or nothing.  We can just step back and take a pocket-sized piece.

Sometimes the “big picture” is just too much to look at.  Sometimes if we try to take on too much, it feels overwhelming and then we may decide not to do it at all.  It’s like if we carried all our emotions around with us in a backpack, and then tried to unload all of them at once.  We’d NEVER look at them because it would be just too much!  But, if we were to take a look at one thing, it just might feel more manageable.  And then the next thing wouldn’t seem so daunting.  And so on…

I am smack dab in the middle of the “sandwich generation”.  I’m still busy raising my kids and helping them to fly, while helping my aging parents with their ever changing needs.  Taking little sips is how I am making it through.  If I were to look at everything on my plate right now, I might not think I could manage.

We’re getting ready to help our daughter, our youngest, launch into adulthood.  She has just a few more months here under our roof and then off she will go.  What a wonderful roller coaster it has been!  Years filled with excitement, sadness, triumphs, and failures.  I was just thinking if when she was born I was shown a movie as to what would happen the next 18 years, how terrifying that film would be.  Not because anything horrible happened, but just the amount of energy expended raising children.  I think back 18 years ago and I was exhausted!  We had 3 kids under the age of 5.  I remember one morning making pancakes for the boys while nursing my daughter.  You just do what you have to do.

I can’t look at the big picture right now.  It’s too much.  I’m so excited for my daughter!  Her life’s adventure is just beginning.  On the flip side, we will have 3 empty bedrooms upstairs.  It’s too much.  My parent’s life adventures are winding down.  I’m continuing to help them stay as active and connected as they can.  It’s just too much.  Too much.  So, I take things a day or a week at a time for now.  Little sips of life.

Little food is so fun!  Often my husband and I will go to dinner and just share a couple of appetizers.  I love the appetizer menu!  The recipes I’m going to share have a few components, but nothing complicated.  The first is Tomato Soup with grilled cheese and basil sandwich cubes.  The second is a cucumber round with microgreens, avocado and fried goat cheese. The third is baked sweet potato rounds with guacamole and bacon bits.

So when you feel overwhelmed, start by taking small bites, little sips, or tiny tastes of life.  We’re all just walking each other home…one step at a time.



Am I a Hippie?


My daughter started calling me a hippie last summer…really?  I asked her why and she said, “you know, you’re a yoga teacher, you buy organic stuff, you use reusable bags at the grocery store, you make everything from scratch”.  OK, I guess I am by that definition.  Happy to be a hippie!

When I was young back in the 70’s, to me a hippie wore patchwork pants, drove a VW bus, made daisy chains and wore them in her hair.  Dang…now I really want to be a hippie!  I was born just a little too late to really be involved in the hippie movement in the 70’s.  In fact, it was kind of a “bad word” in our house in suburbia.  So, I guess I have to experience it now…even if it is a little vicariously.

My oldest son recently went on an adventure…in a van.  It’s a van we have come to love, but if I were to get into that kind of a van when I was a teenager, my Dad would have a search party out looking for me!  He and his sweetie bought it for $500 and fixed it up.  It was pretty rough when they brought it home, but they went to work on it and soon it was lookin mighty fine!  They built a platform for their bed and lots of storage space underneath, insulated the whole interior, paint, paneling, Christmas lights and Spam.  Lots of Spam.  Off they went!  They traveled to Banff, Smith Rock, Cannon Beach, down the coast to California, and all the way back.  A couple of hiccups along the way, but they made it in one piece!  More importantly, they set out to see some beautiful places, met some amazing people and found a way to make it work!  Yes, living vicariously through my kiddo.  I wish I would have done something like that when I was in my 20’s.  Maybe now?


The reason I like to make lots of things from scratch is because I like to know what is in the food I feed my family.  The other reason, of course, is because I just love to cook.  I started making granola this year.  It’s just such a yummy crunchy way to start the day.  The recipe I am sharing with you is Chocolate Granola.  It can be dessert too…or bed time snack…or afternoon snack…just sayin.  I’m also including my very simple Almond Milk recipe.  If you’ve only had Almond Milk in the carton from the store, try to make your own.  It tastes so much better!

So, embrace your inner hippie!  Make a daisy chain to put in your hair!  Flash a peace sign! Buy a van and go on an adventure!  Make some Chocolate Granola and Almond Milk!

Peace out!




You are NOT what you eat!


I’m back!  It’s been a couple of months since we last spoke.  I’ve been reframing my food tastes and learning how to cook a bit differently.  My husband and I decided to follow the Whole30 plan which basically is only whole foods for 30 days.  Lots of fruit and vegetables and protein.  That meant deleting a whole bunch of things from our diet…all processed foods and refined sugars were out.  I used to think we ate healthfully, but NOPE.  We weren’t.

Once the detox was complete, we were quite aware of how much junk we were consuming.  What we first learned is that sugar is in EVERYTHING!  If it is packaged, it probably has sugar.  So, taking sugar out of our daily meals was much more challenging than I thought.  The Whole30 recipes that I was following, used dates for sweetness in sauces.  We started eating sweet potatoes (and not the ones you may be used to at Thanksgiving with the mini marshmallows), drinking almond milk and use ghee for sautéing.

The one thing I still crave is Diet Coke.  I didn’t even drink that much before all this, maybe a couple a week.  Chemicals in food also gets their hooks in us.  I started buying organic when I could.  I shopped in the bulk bins.  The guys in the produce department are my new best friends!  I’ve been practicing “conscious eating” which is carefully considering what we put in our bodies.  It’s interesting how we reach for things that are so unhealthy and avoid foods with all sorts of goodness.  The challenge is to make good whole foods taste delicious.

I have been contemplating this part for a couple of months now.  I wasn’t sure if I could share this one.  If you’re like me, you have a hairdresser that you adore and tell everything to.  About a month ago I shared this story with my hairdresser along with my reservations.  She told me to be honest and brave…so here it goes…

Like many people, I have a complicated relationship with food.  I love to cook and feed my family and friends.  I love the smell and definitely the taste!  The conundrum is that I have struggled on and off with an eating disorder for more than 35 years.  I had anorexia as a teenager.  Since then, I seem to be always dieting.  I have even said “I’m a professional dieter”.  Yikes!  Every time I get close to what I think is my “ideal weight” I panic a bit.  I don’t ever want to let myself go back, but the temptation is still there.  Just 5 more pounds…then things start to spiral out of control.

Control.  That’s a funny word.  One of the important things that was behind my thought process is the feeling that I can’t control the world around me.  The truth is, no one can.  The one thing I could control is what I ate (or more precisely, DIDN’T eat).  This is something I continue to work on always.  Years ago, I was on a weeklong yoga training and during that week we were to journal about something that caused us pain or suffering.  I started out so sure that my pain was caused by my lack of patience.  Ha!  As I started journaling and then rereading my thoughts, I laughed when I realized I had “control issues”!  But if course I do!  Many of us do!

So, this time was different.  I didn’t set foot on my scale for the entire 30 days.  My intention was healthful eating and not the number on the scale.  We’ve been continuing on a modified basis, but mostly sticking to the plan.  We have the occasional glass of wine or beer and we don’t worry too much about it.  We’ve even had a dessert or two!  The difference is my tastes have changed.  I no longer crave sugar.  I still enjoy it, but the need to consume it isn’t there anymore.

The recipe I’m including is a Pork tenderloin and cauliflower “rice” bowl.  I am in love with the cauliflower rice!!!  There are a few components to this recipe, so be prepared to spend some time prepping vegetables.

It’s a very interesting exercise in awareness…aware that you’re not what you eat!  You are so much more than that!

Looking up to you


We store pictures these days so differently than our parents did.  The digital age has its perks for sure.  My parents moved into assisted living about a year ago, so they have limited storage space. Storing photos from my childhood takes up a whole closet at my house!    I’ve been going through pictures and the amount of “doubles” and random shots of waterfalls and food are insane.  And then there are the gems…

My cousin and I were more like sisters as we were growing up.  She is 7 years older than me, so she has always been the perfect older sister.  We went to her surprise birthday party a couple weeks ago.  I gave her this picture, and, in the card, I wrote “I’ve been looking up to you my whole life…”.   She has always been a touchstone for me.  When I was little I loved to play with my Barbies.  She and her friends would always play with me without complaint (to my knowledge)

When she had her first daughter, I was 16.  She asked me to be her Godmother.  I was so excited! Then when I had my daughter, I asked my Goddaughter to be my daughter’s Godmother.  And so it goes.  My daughter is now old enough to babysit for her Godmother’s boys.  We are a family that continues to stay close.  There are births and deaths and we hold each other up.

There aren’t a lot of recipes from the 70’s that I still make.  TV dinners on TV trays were a pretty big hit when I was young.  The Salisbury steak, mashed potatoes, corn kernels and apple pie was my favorite.  You might remember how you had to fold the foil back over the apple pie so the crust would brown.  Those were the days… I bet my parents have a picture of that TV dinner meal somewhere in the thousands of pictures in my hall closet.

Pot Roast is one meal that comes to mind from my childhood that I still love.  It’s another slow cook meal that can be made in a Dutch oven or slow cooker.  I made this recipe a couple months ago and it sure brought back memories.

So…go digging through some old photos!  You never know what gems you’ll find!


Don’t rush a hike!


I bought a new pressure cooker a few months ago and so far, I’m not a fan.  I struggle with the concept.  I get it, people are busy, and we want things quicker and faster with no waiting.  But what I love about my Dutch oven and slow cooker is the flavors that develop over a long slow cook.  I also love the aroma when I come in the door and dinner has been cooking all day.  Patience is something I work on daily.

Many years ago, our oldest wanted to go on a hike for his 8th birthday.  So, we took seven 8-year-olds and one 5-year old (our middle son) on a short hike to a beautiful lake.  I gotta admit, it was a little crazy!  Reminiscent of Lord of the Flies as they chased the chipmunks down the trail with sticks.  The older boys led the way with my husband and another dad. My 5-year-old and I were bringing up the rear.  They were getting further and further ahead of us when finally, I said “come on buddy!  Move it along!”  He stopped in his tracks, turned and said to me “Mom, you can’t rush a hike”

Wait…what?   This kid is really on his own path…we’re all on our own path.  Trying to rush things doesn’t mean it’s better.  What is the rush?  What’s the “end game”?  What happens when we take our time?

Our kids have taught us many lessons over the years.  I have always said that our oldest is the “practice child”.  We don’t really know what we’re doing with this one!  Thank goodness he has his own compass and a great sense of humor.  Thinking that we’ve learned all sorts of things from our oldest, the 2nd born should be a breeze, right?  Totally different kid in many ways.  They are similar, and they love hanging out together, but through my lens, they are very unique.  And then came our daughter.  Piece of cake!!!  Except, we know how manage boys…  She is driven, competitive, and sweet.  Being the youngest of 3, she’s learned to be tough…and how to “work” the system.  Relationships are complicated.  Like everything they are always evolving.  And so, we keep going…making mistakes, and hopefully learning from them, and moving along.  Enjoying the journey, without rushing.

Many recipes in my repertoire my kids refer to as “Mamas…”.  So, here is my meat sauce recipe.  I have done it in the slow cooker and the Dutch oven.  Both work great!  It’s a very versatile sauce.  I’ve made lasagna and baked spaghetti with this sauce, or you can use it on the top of your favorite pasta!



Hard Work…Pays Off!


If you have the January blues like I do, let’s have some fun!  This time of year just feels blah to me.  It’s raining…all the time.  The holidays are over.  Spring seems too far away.  AND…I have the flu.  Let’s see what we can come up with!

All 3 of our kids rowed on a crew team in high school and the boys rowed in college as well.  These athletes work so hard and we were always looking for good nutritious food for them to eat race day.  But, they also need treats!

These kids practice 5-6 days a week for 3 hours a day.  I rowed myself for a couple years recently.  It is so much harder than it looks!!  I had just a little taste of what these kids go through.  Sometimes it’s cold…REALLY cold.  Sometimes it wet…REALLY wet.  It’s always exhausting!  Team sports teach more than just the sport.  It teaches us to work together.  It teaches us that “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”.  It teaches us we must rely on others.  It teaches us that hard work, pays off!

I’m always looking for something fun and playful to make.  Occasionally I would take some treats up to the boathouse for the kids.  Just a little something to tide them over before they get home for some real grub!

The chocolate mice I made for Valentine’s Day a few years ago.  They are so cute and delicious too!  Cheesecake stuffed strawberries are another boathouse favorite, but my favorite are the cupcake hamburgers!

Have some fun!  Play with your food!!



Life is a process



I started baking bread years ago when my kids were little.  It felt very therapeutic to knead and bake homemade bread.  The smell, well I probably don’t need to go on about the smell of fresh bread baking…let’s just say it’s pretty close to heaven.  Raising small children can be all consuming.  Multitasking was just something you do ALL. THE. TIME.  Baking bread was a way for me to focus on one thing.  The actual “hands on” time is fairly small, and then waiting.   Always teaching me to cultivate patience.

Years ago, I was given a bread machine.  You know the kind, it even came with a package of all the dry ingredients and all I had to do is add water and turn it on.  It still smelled delicious and even tasted OK, but it felt a little like cheating.  To me, baking bread is a process.  Sometimes a lengthy process.  If you skip a step or try to rush, you might have to start over, or the finished product might not be very good.  Same things happen in life…

Moving through life’s hiccups can be a tedious yet necessary progression.  If you try to take a shortcut, you might lose the path and must begin to find your way again.  When I was teaching yoga, I would start the year off with a guided meditation for my students.  It went something like this:

Take a moment to look at your life.  Start with your first memory and begin to make your way through your life.  Travel trough your teenage years, your 20’s, 30’s etc.  Try to avoid making judgements or wishing things were different.  We can’t go back.  Consider the choices you made along the way.  Visualize your life as a river.  Did you ride with the current, or did you paddle upstream?  Did you stay in the big wide river or did you venture off into a tributary?  Now bring yourself to the present moment.  Look downstream.  Where is your river going this year?

Try baking some bread, and stay in the moment.  Feel the dough as you knead it.  Smell the delicious aroma as its baking.  Taste the sweetness of your efforts.  Contemplate where your river may take you.

Now for the recipes.  French toast is a hit at our house, so I have been playing with different breads toppings and methods.  The first is Chopped Apple Bread French Toast topped with whipped cream. The second is Blueberry Bread French Toast with blueberry cream cheese topping. The third is regular French toast for the freezer.  Happy baking!



**Photo cred to Caeley Murray

Breakfast EVERYONE!

ERA picnic table

Mornings are magical.  I know some of you might think I’m crazy for saying that, but I love that quiet time when the house is still and the sun is just starting to peek up over the horizon.  The start of a new day often brings with it clarity and perspective.

When kids become teenagers and up, problems aren’t always solved with a hug and a bandage.  Hopefully we let our kids “practice” problem solving on the little stuff so when something big comes along they will have a frame of reference as to how to proceed.  But until they get their wings, a call home can give them the confidence they need to make an informed decision.  A hug and a bandage can’t fix everything…but after a night sleep often clarity and perspective awaits…and breakfast!!!

I like to have a simple breakfast…granola and yogurt or an egg, but my kids love the BIG breakfast!  Pancakes, French toast, crepes…you name it!  But the favorite at my house is Pasta Papa ala Mama.  This meal was made for us by some friends years ago.  We had plans for a long lazy day floating the river, so this meal was hearty enough to keep us full ALL…DAY…LONG.  We’ve made this meal for 5 and for 100, so it’s easy to augment.  The kids love it, young and old.


Farewell 2017


Capture a moment in time.  A photograph can do that, but the memory associated with it lives in our hearts.  With the passing of my mother-in-law, I’m finding myself cherishing each moment a little more thoughtfully.  Even simple tasks take on new meaning as memories pop up of past experiences. Last weekend I was gazing out the window at the snow remembering past winters and holidays spent at our cabin.  Some with friends and some with family, but mostly cherished by all.

I tend to compartmentalize moments in my life I guess to preserve the joyful times and to soften the difficult ones.  Our cabin was built in the 1920’s.  The walls here have seen their share of all that families have to offer.  The family that lived here before we moved in raised Arabian horses.  Before that, the residents owned and operated the hardware store in town.  Our barn is still filled with lots of hardware.  Little baby food jars with nails and bolts sorted just right.  Sometimes when we need to repair something, I’ll head out to the barn and say, “Mr. Baker…do you have what we need?”  9 times out of 10 it’ll be there in one the old baby food jars.  And so, they remain…

I have a few “go to” meals at the cabin.  While we’re all still in the holiday spirit, I’m gonna throw a pumpkin cranberry scone recipe your way.  I like to make these and freeze them, so they are ready whenever I need to put a delicious pastry on the table. Take them out of the freezer while the oven is preheating, and they will thaw enough for them to bake through.

While we make our way through the last few days of 2017, take some time to savor the special moments.  Take some time to let go of mistakes.  Take some time to honor those we lost this year and hug the ones we love.



Heartbreak in the midst of joy


Celebrations this time of year pile up on the calendar.  Every weekend is booked with an event.  Buying and wrapping presents take center stage along with holiday cards and decorating.  Sadly, this year in the midst of all of this, our family was hit with heartbreak.  My husband’s mother passed away on Sunday.  You can never prepare yourself for the 4:30 am phone call.  Time stands still…

My mother-in-law was an amazing woman.  She sang with the Sweet Adaline’s in her youth.  She traveled to Cuba in her 20’s.  She moved to San Francisco from Chicago where she met her husband.  On her 80th birthday she floated the Icicle River with a bunch of us in an inflatable canoe…she loved an adventure and had lots of stories to tell.  She had a very kind heart and strong determination. Last summer the whole family was able to be together to celebrate her last birthday.  It was quite a blessing.

I was welcomed into this Irish/Scottish Catholic family nearly 30 years ago.  The extended family stretching across the country to Washington DC, to Chicago, to San Francisco, to Santa Barbara, to Cannon Beach to Seattle and many other places has always been as solid as they come.  We will see many of them as we celebrate her life in the coming weeks.

My favorite Christmas cookie recipes come from my mother-in-law.  She shared them with me wholeheartedly years ago.  In fact, I’m making my 5th batch of Pecan Tarts today as they seem to keep disappearing!  I even freeze them, so we won’t eat them but amazingly enough they are delicious frozen too!  The second batch of Hello Dolly’s was baked yesterday with my daughter.  Traditions and family recipes are meant to be shared and handed down to the next generation.  That’s how our loved ones continue to live through us forever…