Plugging Back In: Expectations Versus Reality

Hi friends.

I’m slowly but surely coming back from under my rock that kept me safe from Facebook, Twitter, and Internet overload. Don’t get me wrong, I obviously strongly believe in the connecting power behind the Internet and social media, but when you’re thinking about it every waking minute, it’s time for a reset.

As you know, I took last week off to unplug and get my physical space back in order.

Hmmm. I wish I had the report I had pictured in my mind for you. Clean, organized closets. Sippy cups stacked and orderly. Toys neatly binned and cleaned. Kids clothes stacked by season and size.

I bought a shoe organizer??

Sweet smiling and organized Megan from Best Nest even came over and gave me direction on what to do with the hot mess. And still, the mess lives on. (I will gladly share some of her tips with you this week. I DO plan to use them…BEFORE 2013, promises – promises.)

And my friends at Prime Car Wash…they keep saying – COME! Come get that swaggerwagon cleaned – we don’t judge how old that grime from an applesauce bag gone wrong on the side door is.  And…oops, just haven’t made it over yet. TOMORROW. I am going tomorrow. *There’s always tomorrow*

So, I am faced with self judgement or acceptance of failing my beautiful plan.

Then I think about the bigger picture. We went to a wedding this weekend that took me back to five years ago this very week. The planning, the prep, the Magoo (our dog) puking all over the floor the day before all the wedding guests were coming in. The really bad manicure. The way Scott “forgot to not come home” the night before our wedding because he wasn’t supposed to SEE ME. The mess I’m sure that lived in our house and cars because all we cared about was that day. The day we walked down the aisle with 99.9% of everyone that ever mattered to us right there in the same room – as we were totally unaware they were there, but full of their warm, glowing presence.

Our wedding day. October 6, 2007.

The day we blindly vowed to the years to come. This week I celebrate the reality of our vows. The truth about the house we have made a home. And the story that we have made so messy that it is beautifully hot.

Hot Mess.

That’s what we are five years later…a picture I could have never pictured.

I’m pretty sure I didn’t picture still being in the same house…THREE kids later. I certainly didn’t picture those three kids coming to our family in one pop (and it was a POP). Nor did I know I would go through three jobs and be at home with our kids. Or that our mortgage would sound so big and scary with one less income, minus group health insurance, three kids later and a realtor hubby on the battlefield cleaning up after the economic dump (with a smile on his face). Probably didn’t picture all the colds our family unit has had these first few parenting years. I didn’t know how hard it would be to keep five people fed and clean and not whining (including me). For sure thought I would always feel sexy for hubby by attending the gym, with energy and clean hair, 5 days a week. Was convinced date nights would never end up in drooling on the couch at 8:30 pm over take out, a glass of wine you are too tired to drink and a movie on demand you will never see the end of. Probably didn’t see that dryer breaking with 9 loads of clothes and towels piling up either (Happy Anniversary to me)….

Maybe I haven’t failed? Maybe it’s just a reality that I couldn’t dream BIG enough for (or know that I could survive). Possibly I don’t have to choose between self judgement or acceptance? Maybe I just have to live and love the birth of our own, unplanned reality and breathe in every moment – even the hard, I’m sweaty and I may flip out and scream profanities in the grocery store moments.

For all that I didn’t see coming, I thank God for every imperfect, perfect piece of the picture – the better and the worse and the sickness and the health. All of it.

This week is dedicated to the original crew of a family – the husband and the wife. And the reality that is always better than the expectations…if we just let them be.

 

Guest Post – Your Best Nest Indy: Getting Your Home Organized

As mentioned, my house feels like a hot mess.

Thanks goodness there are people like Megan Morton that operate on a high level of organization and motivation. I am inspired. Inspired enough to take a whole week and devote myself to the art of getting my life back in order (somewhat).

Meet Megan and enjoy her story, tips and great ideas below. If you live in Indianapolis or surrounding area, you should check out her services. Her company, Your Best Nest, specializes in home styling and baby planning services in Indianapolis. Her services can fit any budget and any timeline. She will work with you to create a beautiful and organized home, and help you enjoy a peaceful and healthy pregnancy. It is possible! (Um, hello, wish I would have known about this during my eight week bed rest stay??!!) AND, she is offering 20% off any service through October 31 for JustBreatheMama followers!  Contact Megan by visiting her website, liking her on Facebook, or email her at megan@yourbestnestindy.com

As a young girl, I always loved my Grandfather’s stories about growing up on an Indiana farm.  I even loved to hear about how the chickens would run around with their heads cut off after a swing of the axe.  As I grew older, this image terrified me.  It became clear that the chicken image haunted me because that is what I would see when I looked in the mirror.  Too often, we Moms find ourselves running around our coops like the proverbial chicken with its head cut off.  “Where are my keys?  Where is my list for the store?  Did I eat breakfast?  Have I shaved this week?  This month? Where is my baby?   If only we could have a minute to catch our breath…

or·gan·ized Adjective. Having one’s affairs in order so as to deal with them efficiently.

Oh.  That sounds easy enough.  Organization is a work in progress, and the ultimate goal should only be that you have eliminated stress and have simplified your life.  Not that your house looks like a page from the Container Store catalog!  My journey to making organization a priority started long ago.  When I was 8 years old I would make a detailed schedule of events in my Trapper Keeper for road trips to Florida.  It has just been since becoming a mom that living an organized life has become a priority and often, a necessity.

I consider myself the Julia Child of organizing (minus the funny voice, I think). I have passion and some experience, but I am FAR from perfect.  There are definitely some drawers in my kitchen that would make a set designer from the Container Score cringe.  Ahhh, the kitchen. The bustling center of every happy home.  Not so much!?  I remember back in B.C. (Before Children) when my husband and I spent a lot of time in our family room, on the couch.  After my first was born, I was suddenly thrust into my kitchen every waking moment, or so it seemed.  I vaguely remember un-loading my dishwasher once while using a manual breast pump.  After months of chaos and a maternity leave that flew by, I was back to work and super-stressed!  Oh, and my second baby was on the way! I was freaking out!  How was I going to handle two babies when I could barely handle one?!  I found myself almost weeping one day at my sink while watching Julia Child reruns on PBS.  She was expertly preparing Chicken Provencal when a poof of flour exploded in her face.  She started laughing and so did I.  Then the laughing turned to tears, and the hormones kicked in and I went crazy.  Good crazy.  I purged every drawer in my kitchen.  I emptied out half-used boxes of food from the pantry.  I dumped out containers of mysterious papers.  I was going to take control of my kitchen and my life!  I worked hard to create balance and efficiency in my kitchen and found that I suddenly had more free time.  I left in the morning without the feeling that I was forgetting something.  I even sat down and read magazines.

The most important thing to understand about organization is that it is different for every person.  Everyone thinks “being organized” means you have a bunch of cute containers in a row.  Well, your pantry can look fabulous, but if it is not put together in a way that is efficient for your individual needs, it is just another pretty face.  Taking the first step toward simplifying your life is to figure out what exactly is causing you stress!  I can’t find anything in my cabinets!  Whenever I need to clean something I can’t find my products so I give up!  I don’t have time to think about making dinner, I haven’t even gone through coupons yet!  Figure out what is making you stressed, and tackle it!  Simple as that!

Here are some easy steps to take toward kitchen bliss…

1.  Buy Storage Containers

Hint: For storage that will be visible, buy containers of one color.  Then if they are a hodge-podge of different styles, the look will have a basic color scheme and won’t look mix-matched.

2.  Purge

Donate, recycle, or just throw it out.  Take the item you no longer need, open a trash bin, place said item in the trash.  You can do it, I promise.

3.  Group by Similar Items

4.  Arrange

5.  Maintain

The practice of organization will not succeed without regular maintenance.  Choose a day of the week or a time each day to “tidy up”.

All you need is the motivation to make a positive change!  You don’t have to organize your whole kitchen, just start with one cabinet or just one drawer and before you know it, you will be an addict!  It is also a great excuse to go shopping, because you obviously have to buy some new items to get you started.  These products are organization All-Stars…

Copco Turntable (BedBathandBeyond) and Container Store Shelf

Create space with these items, and maybe even use all those sippy-cups…

Tip: Keep labels and a Sharpie near your to-go containers and you won’t have to waste time looking for them.  A blank calendar + multi-colored pen = You, recording daily milestones and funny comments from your hilarious children 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crate and Barrel Cutting Boards

These cutting boards are flexible, dishwasher safe, and BPA free.  I store them in a drawer where they work perfectly to cover the cooking utensils I would like to remain hidden from my toddlers!

Tip:An empty wine rack works great for sorting miscellaneous papers.  Why is that wine rack empty anyway?

Container Store “Crunch Can”

My all-time favorite invention!  Durable, easy to clean, collapsible, reasonably priced, and large enough to hold a full-size toddler!

Container Store Magazine Rack

Add a couple of Command hangers and you just cleared off your counter!

Organization isn’t only about efficiently arranging your belongings, it is important to organize your daily tasks.  Use the same steps necessary to organize your kitchen to schedule your daily routine.  Eliminate wasteful steps and purge unnecessary clutter, figuratively speaking.  Keep a cute tote near your steps or in your kitchen for items going upstairs.  Empty it upstairs, fill it with laundry, etc. and bring it back downstairs.  Husbands are also great at completing this task!

Today’s modern age boasts a million luxuries to make our lives easier, but often we find our selves completely overwhelmed and longing for simpler times.  Personally I am a complete technology-phobic!  I use an actual calendar and checkbook, and I prefer turning the crisp page of a book and smelling that stinky old library smell!  As moms of the 21st Century, we don’t have to go out back and take the chicken’s head off for dinner, thank goodness!  When you start to feel like that doomed chicken, find a moment to just breathe, and take that stress head on.  Organize yourself, simply your life, and realize that all the perfect kitchen really needs is love.  And if all else fails, throw some flour on your face and laugh at your perfectly imperfect self. Bon Appétit!

Megan

megan@yourbestnestindy.com

 

 

 

 

Hot Mess

Remember the theory “your physical space reflects your mental space”?

If only you could see my current physical space, you would understand my mental space.

Hot mess. 

With that said, I am taking this week to “unplug from the internet” and get all those spaces – physical, mental, emotional, logistical, spiritual back in somewhat working order. Of course, there is no finish line, especially when I have three little people that make it their priority to undo any order, but there is such a thing as changing the oil and letting the engine run a little happier.

In case you have an inquiring mind, here is what I will be up to during my weekly regularly scheduled “childless time” (usually used for writing, social media efforts, and who knows what else??):

1) Organization of the house I haven’t put in order for over two years. I will be getting a little help on this one from an expert: Megan Morton with Your Best Nest Indy. Priority? Toys, toys and more toys. And maybe that junk drawer and the cabinet that vomits sippie cups every time I open it. And the mudroom that isn’t even a room. And, and, and…

2) Stripping and degrousing of my 2nd home, the minivan. Also with a little help from my friends at Prime Carwash in Noblesville. Car detailing + good coffee served + doing whatever I want while I wait (reading a book? staring at my feet in silence?) = good, very good.

3) Breathing and slowing down. I recently saw a sign that said “If things aren’t adding up, start subtracting.”  Instead of rushing around or diving into social media and my blog at every corner, I am going to slow down and think a little bit about where I spend my time, where I want to be spending my time and where I actually do spend my time.

Wish me luck and see you guys next week – maybe you will feel inspired to do a little unplugging as well.

***Come back tomorrow for September’s guest post on organization by Megan Morton of Your Best Nest Indy. It WILL inspire you. ***

(Although I may get some perks from my friends for using and sharing their services, these are my own opinions I simply wanted to share, because they are worth sharing! ) 

Thursday Taste: Ugly Bean Dip – The Perfect Tailgating Dip

The other day I was trying to figure out how to best utilize the tomatoes, corn and peppers my dad sent home with us this week. Then it dawned on me.

Duh. The Ugly.

There is almost an unsaid nod within my group of girlfriends when we get together for tailgating, boating or some other day long noshing celebration: Who is bringing the ugly? The ugly bean dip, that is. There is never a question of whether or not she will be there, as it would be blasphemy to gather and not have her creamy, dotted with black bean and spiked with jalapeno goodness. The Godmother, Sarah, started making her way back when – when we were still wet behind the ears high schoolers, and the tradition has sailed on throughout the years.

The Ugly, as we refer to this smooth and perfect anytime dip, has seen us through long sandbar boating hours on the lake, day long tailgating shenanigans with a capital S, birthday parties, bachelorette parties, wedding showers and now baby showers.  It seems to always work well when eaten early in the day…and then returned to in sloppy fellowship at say, 2 AM. If you take the Ugly somewhere, bring the recipe, you will be asked to hand it over.
So, it is with great pride I share Sarah’s original Ugly Bean Dip recipe with you here. You are about to embark on greatness, don’t take it lightly. Enjoy. Share. And eat often. You will never be the same. Plus, chopping all of the ingredients is a fab way to zone out, take relaxing deep inhales and exhales and think about nothing but chopping.
Be nourished and for today, be ugly.
Ingredients:
2 Big Juicy Tomatoes, chopped (still amazing local grown tomatoes out there!)
1/2 – whole green pepper, chopped
1/4 – 1/2 red onion, chopped
Can of sweet corn (or 1-2 ears fresh corn off the cob)
1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
1/4-1/2 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (I like LOTS when I make but you can put as little or as a much as you like)
1/2 cup ranch (Sarah says to always use Hidden Valley Ranch, so I do – remember, Godmother)
1/2 cup Italian dressing
Seasonings: 1 tsp. chile powder, 1 tsp garlic powder and 1 tsp pepper and 1/2 tsp cumin
3-4 drops tabasco
Directions:
Chop, chop and chop the tomatoes, green pepper, onion, cilantro and jalapeno. Tip: Use a serrated knife and avoid the frustration of cutting through the tough tomato & pepper skin.
Always drain and rinse the black beans to remove the added sodium. Dump all the ingredients into a big glass bowl. Add the dressings and seasonings and feel good about the ugly mess you are making. Mix the ingredients and store overnight for best results.
 Savor every bite, preferably with good company.
*** Thanks to Britely  for nominating last week’s kale chips  as a winning “Brite of the Week”. If you get a second, I would be so grateful if you could click on the Brite slideshow link below and do one or all of the following:
View, Like or Comment!
 Thanks a million! PS, Britely is an awesome site for any fun slideshow need!! ***

Tuesday Nourishment – Pinterest Guilt

I’m wondering, was there a spike in mother guilt, say …oh, about this time last year? When Pinterest started to blow up and we all began creating false hopes about what we can do with our own reality? We scan over rooms, recipes, party planning, DIY projects and quotable quotes creating a false reality through our own ability to think, “Hey, I can do that.”

We create a file called “organized/cute playroom” and suddenly I have a dolled up space in my mind replete with a homemade handprint wall border and books stacked neatly in ten cent racks from the hardware store that now “look so cute!” My children sit in up-cycled vibrant mini bamboo seats and are quiet and in full on development mode as they match shapes and sizes and sift through this killer homemade texture box I whipped up last night.

What is a texture box anyway?

Upstairs the oversized family canvas pictures hang, crafted by me, of course, in my free time and in that fully loaded, spacious craft room I have for just doodling around. In the kitchen, the crock pot boils with something so crazy good no one has even heard of it. But it’s the.best.meal.your.family.will.ever.have. Layered homemade, from scratch oatmeal cream pie replicas sit waiting in a glass dome cake dish I made with an old antique farm piece and the freshly churned homemade ice cream waits in the freezer that I made by freezing old coke bottles and spinning with wire.

I meander to the “oasis/spa/bedroom retreat”, as my handy file refers to my bedroom on my Pinterest account. The walls are three accent shades of a study proven relaxing blue/green – but more green than blue, because blue was so 2011. You can barely tell it’s three shades, because the way my homemade head board casts off the light on the third wall, they seem to blend like an infinity pool slipping into the ocean. I casually stroll into my perfectly organized closet, thanks to all the re-purposed shoe boxes, that now look to be Kate Spade chic, storing my purses and scarves. There is no clutter on the floor thanks to the file simply marked “our closet”, so I lay down and take a breather. The kids are still entertained and happy with those texture things.

You start to do that AMAZING 90 second ab workout, because you know, it’s 20% what you eat and 80% what you do to move that body. (Shoot – or is it 80% food and 20% exercise?)

After the BEST.DINNER.EVER. we all go out and take a family picture where one kid holds a chalkboard saying what they will be when they grow up, the other lays below that kid so together they look like a flower blooming and then the third kid stands between us parents wearing the date of this day in a non-descript way. It’s a framer, really. A rotating, lighted DIY canvas, in fact.

And then I wake up.  Wow, the reality is I’ve made ONE recipe from Pinterest. Seriously, that is all I have done. And I even freaking love Pinterest. (Don’t worry it’s on my to do list to “do more Pinterest” – I’m not giving up entirely).

But that’s the way it rolls. You can create a lot of “to-do” files in life, but don’t forget to sift through the ones that you’ve already completed. They are beautiful and offer way less guilt. And really, they are projects…it just that nobody wants to pin the everyday, normal things that count.

The messy playroom with blocks that chubby hands stack. The half homemade meal with frozen meatballs from the store and spaghetti the kids love. The bedroom that is your oasis, not because it’s the perfect blu-een, but because you are so tired that anything quiet and soft at the end of the day feels like a spa. Those family pictures…the 68 snapshots of a 4 month old foot in a perfect pink mouth as they look up at you with big, giggling eyes – those are the good ones. And your kids.

They don’t even know what Pinterest is. And what they don’t know won’t hurt them.

Love them, let them love you, create a messy home together and proceed with Pinterest caution…

What Mattered Photo Dump

This saying is completely over said within the cliche walls of parenting circles, but come on – when you start to measure time by how quicky Sunday nights sneak up on you – it’s true:

The days are loooooong and the weeks (months,years) are short. 

The novelty of packing cute fun-sized backpacks have worn off like the newness of purchasing an adorable, minature pony – it’s really sweet and endearing to watch your kids the first couple times, but now it feels like you’re just shoveling poop. The annoyance of packing three snacks, three lunches, labeling three CLEAN water cups follows up nicely to our last week’s stellar combo of two surefire ways to throw the family dynamic off; colds and out of town travel.

So it’s 8 PM and the dishwasher is running it’s embarrassing water sucking cycle as it washes a mere 12 sippy cups.  The washer is in the next room whirling its same anti-efficiency efforts, as it washes tiny stained shirts, pants and mis-matched socks. A few unpacked weekend bags haunt the kitchen floor and a couple weak cries have hollered in the monitor from the lingering chesty coughs.

And another week down. Another lesson in what mattered most. It appears we all have lessons from the week we weed-wack through day after day. Thank you, all, for your beautiful words and tid bits of what mattered most in your home and hearts in last week’s comments. Cheers to another week … may you open your heart and mind for the days ahead and what will matter most.

A little slice of what mattered around here:

 

 

Thursday Taste: Sea Salt Crunchy Kale Chips

My kids walk around for a good percentage of the day with fingers pointing, desperate eyes and the hoarse voice of starvation as they beg and plead for just one more “snaaaaa” from the pantry (toddler translation = snack). I can’t blame them – sometimes I feel like walking around crying and petitioning for a snack that isn’t goldfish or cheese sticks or apple slices.

I picked up a bunch of kale at the farmer’s market last week and as fate would have it, I craved salt this week. You know that time, must have salt now. If you are in the market for a quick, easy, crunchy and salty snack to add to your mundane day, I have the snack bowl for you.

Kale is EASY to find at Farmer’s markets and even in most grocery stores. It’s right next to the safe tomatoes and apples you always buy at the market or let sit in your produce delivery. Flat leaf kale is better when baking chips, but the curly works just as well.

A couple of things when getting to know kale: Always de-stem the leaves (the stem is tough and bitter), wash and dry VERY WELL so the leaves aren’t heavy when baked (I use our salad spinner and then blot dry with a towel) and don’t be afraid – chances are you will like it.

The recipe below will take around 20 minutes from start to end. Time Saver Tip: At beginning of week, de-stem, wash and dry whole batch of kale and store in air tight container. When ready for a salty treat, grab a couple cup-fuls of kale and try your hand at the easy recipe below!

Try it this weekend and let me know what you think! Do you have a favorite snack that makes you smile?

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Breath Prayer – Tuesday Nourishment

Before I start, WOW – thank you for your week in review in yesterday’s comments. Sharing your voice is powerful and important, thank you for opening up and sharing yours with us here.

We don’t mean to avoid church, but we often do.

A few days, we pushed past the urge to stay in pj’s and make waffles at home. We got the whole family up, dressed and out the door with smiles on our faces. (Well, sort of. I was smiling because no one pooped after we were already fed, brushed and dressed.)

Hint: If you aren’t a church person, don’t stop reading – you are smart enough to figure out how this works in your life.

The topic yesterday was on parenting. The pastor stood before a service of hundreds of people and started his message with this,

“Folks, parenting is hard.”

I wish someone would tell that tired mom, “live it up and wait until they are 21 months…”

Plain and simple, no scripture, no bells and whistles. He stood before us, a gathered group of families, friends and strangers and confirmed what we mull over everyday in our ordinary and chaotic lives, that YES!, it is hard.

And when someone with a direct line into Jesus tells you this, you think AMEN, yes-um and uh-huh. Thank you very much. It is grueling and I appreciate you confirming my suspicions.

He then continued to tell story after story about how, when and why it is hard. They were lovely, but you don’t need to hear those stories – you have your own. You know it’s hard. You don’t need sold on that part.

I have found that most sermons go like this: pose a problem or need, share examples of how and why this is a problem or need in our present day lives and then share advice and scripture as a form of resolve. To be honest, I often get lost during the resolve part. We often like the warm and fuzzy of someone telling us relatable, “you aren’t alone” stories – but when it comes to learning and applying action to our own lives, it is not always that easy or interesting – because that takes doing instead of listening.

As he neared the end of his sermon, he stood before us and decided to take the simple and straightforward approach, yet again. Almost like he knew he was talking to a bunch of monkey brained, over stimulated and under served parent types.

He said,

“You need more prayer.”

And went on to say,

“And I know you think you don’t have time for it.” (Is he finally giving me permission to think about when I can fit my next yoga class or pedicure in when I go to bed, instead of prayer & petition?)

And then, he introduced something he called a “Breath Prayer.” A prayer that needs no time or scheduled meeting. It follows you around all day, as simple as the breath you take.

For those of you that feel awkward about praying or are uncertain about “who you are praying to” and therefore you just don’t pray…good news. You can still do this.

Call it a prayer, mantra, self-talk or sanity savers…whatever you like.

Here’s how I found my breath prayer last night.

I started to scribble in my journal and jot down all the things that keep me unsettled, scared or in a place of fear (undesirable places…often related to parenting). Then I narrowed it down to a top three list.

Here are the big ones that made the cut:

1) Fear of the future 2) Anxiety something bad will happen to my loved ones or myself 3) Beating myself up for an un-clear purpose/path

So, I found a verse that addressed all of these and started saying the verse during one inhale and one exhale. The prayer/verse/mantra tied to breath is like a calm, cool drink of water after a hot run. It works.

Here is my breath prayer:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart. And lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

In one breath, I have covered trust, banished my tragic and dramatized views of the future and gained confidence in my future/path/purpose.

Ah, I can breathe. Truly, by shifting my mental focus, my stomach feels lighter and my heart goes slower. It’s noon, I bet I have said this fifty times today.

It doesn’t have to be a verse. It could be as simple as “Just breathe” or “I am free of comparison” or “My mind is calm and my body is healthy.”

I encourage you to get an old fashioned pen and paper tonight before you go to bed. Get comfy and then jot down all of the junk that steals from your joy. Now, find a short poem, make up your own mantra or maybe even visit scripture and gift yourself a breath prayer. One that addresses your issues. Make a resolve for yourself. Even if your head doesn’t believe it, your body won’t know the difference.

As one of my fertility doctors always used to tell us, “Can’t hurt…might help.”

What is your mantra?


 

A Mother’s Week at a Glance

It’s that day again.

Sunday.

The week happened like a blur – and last Tuesday now feels like a distant memory. (Can you even name what you wore on Tuesday?) And the weekend you lived for is just another 48 hours of time that came and went. Now we look forward like a captain on a ship, peering into the next week – hoping for calm waters and days that comply to our perfectly scheduled calendar.

Remember when we talked about “what matters most?”

People really liked that one. YOU seemed to really like that one. I thought I was just dumping all of my garbage into the mystical blog-o-sphere, but really, all of you really seemed to need a reminder to check yourself before you wreck yourself, as you start a new week.

So, this week, I thought I would be short and sweet and turn the writing over to YOU.

As we depart the lessons of last week’s surprises, boredom, joys and trials – what did you learn about entering a new week? We always learn from our own history …

What did last week teach you about what matters most … as you enter this new week?

It’s easy, painless and rewarding to comment. If you never have, consider doing so now. You never know who may need to hear your lesson from last week – to prepare for something this week.

Please. Thank You. And Bless You.

 

How to Use Late Summer Produce – Part 2: Tomatoes

 

TOMATOES!

“Go Local” Week continues – have you enjoyed anything out of the ordinary and local this week?

If not, go find a local tomato. The season is nearing its end (tears.) Hurry.

We all know the best ways to eat a summer tomato – thinly sliced with sea salt and drizzled with olive oil or in a bed of bacon and lettuce, nestled warmly between crisp green lettuce and the velvet of the mayo on the crisp brown toast. Drool.

Or, just eat like an apple – like my kids. Why not?

Here a few more ideas to add to your end of summer tomato lovin’.

 

 

 

Layered, open face tomato and ham sandwich

 

Ingredients:

Tomatoes

English Muffin

Cream Cheese

Cucumbers or Peppers

Cheese, shredded or sliced

Canadian Bacon, Ham or Turkey Bacon (omit meat for vegetarian version and add hot, broiled peppers with a slice of avocado)

1) Spread cream cheese on both sides of an english muffin (I prefer an english muffin since it is thicker and gets less soggy vrs regular bread when heating the tomatoes)

2) Layer thinly sliced cucumbers and tomatoes, followed by meat.*

3) I let the kids help by sprinkling cheese on top of the meat. You could use a slice of cheese or add other layers such as hummus or pepper slices. This is a “PG version” for the kids, but hot peppers add a nice spice nestled under all the goo.

4) Now, throw under the broiler until hot and bubbly – about 3-4 minutes.

And there you have it – a quick & easy hot meal.

*Tip: A lot of stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s have nitrate free versions of bacon and ham – just look for the label to say “nitrate free”. Also, turkey bacon is a healthy and equally salty alternative for this sandwich.

Mac Daddy Tomato Dinner Salad 

Easy peasy take on the classic Caprese (which would be one of the 900 items at my last meal).

Ingredients: Tomatoes, Avocado, Red Onion, Fresh Mozzarella Ball, Portabella Mushrooms, Basil, Sea Salt, Freshly Cracked Black Pepper, Cold pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Balsamic Vinegar. Optional: A Creamy Herb Salad Dressing.

1) Chop tomatoes, avocado, red onion and fresh mozzarella. (Try to find locally made mozzarella -to die for)

2) Saute Portabella, or any variety, mushrooms in a Tb of olive oil until tender – about 5-8 minutes. I like to add sea salt, freshly cracked black pepper and a swirl of balsamic vinegar in the last few minutes of cooking. Let the mushroom mixture set until cool so the flavors soak together.

3) Roll a handful of washed and fresh basil leaves together (long ways, like a cigar). Now, thinly slice the basil so you have thin strings.

4) Start to layer the tomatoes, avocado, onion, mozzarella and basil. Sprinkle with sea salt and drizzle with teaspoon of olive oil and a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar. (Don’t be afraid to try flavored oil or vinegar! )

5) Drizzle with a light, creamy dressing. Trader Joe’s has a creamy cilantro I really like, but you could totally skip this step and just bulk up the oil & vinegar and call it a night!

6) Place mushrooms next to the tomato mixture. Let sit and marinate while you finish up the rest of dinner. Eat and take delight in the masterpiece.

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What is your favorite way to enjoy a tomato?
Be nourished!

 

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