Toasty soup for a toasty day

It’s not exactly sweater weather this weekend. It’s been warm and sunny and beautiful in PA. But way back on Tuesday – when it was chilly, I bought some butternut squash in hopes of making a soup. I googled a couple of recipes for a chilled soup but decided to do my usual. It’s so easy and so good.

Start by roasting the squash with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes. Maybe 15 minutes considering I scorched mine.

Once the butternut squash is done sauté a small onion until translucent and add some ginger if you have it. I’ve now reverted to buying chopped garlic and ginger. I know fresh is better. I don’t care. I blame 2020.

Once the onions are done, add the squash.

You can snack on the bits that burnt to the pan and act like you meant to do that.

Add 2 cups of vegetable stock and bring to a boil.

Once it comes to a boil, reduce heat to low and blend.

Add a little heat (you know I can’t help myself)

Now add a little honey for sweetness. Look at my cute little honey jar. My husband’s beloved aunt made them. She’s so stinking talented. Every time we go to visit her I wander in her studio and somehow beg my way to several pieces. I’m shameless. One day everyone will be able to order from Kathy Gray Clay (if I can help it).

Ok back to the recipe… add about a 1/3 cup of heavy cream. I bought light by mistake but it’s fine. Either one works. I bet even coconut cream would work.

And viola! Serve in your beautiful Kathy Gray Clay bowls and you’re ready for a rocking Sunday night.

Civil unrest? I’ve got a mask for that…

I’m not trying to make light of things. I know next week is the election. I know people are on edge and this is no joking matter. I’m with you. I get it.

I don’t know if next week will be a big nothing burger and I should make my doctor’s appointment or wait to see if riots break out. Strange times. That’s why today I’ll give you a historic lesson on voting in America…not! The only voting I can fully explain is how an American Idol is picked.

Here’s what I can do. I can make you think about frivolity for just 5 minutes. Join me in a little distraction why don’t you. A little respite from reality. Not at a Kardashian level (that was crazy, did you see it? Private island! Holograms of dead dads! Nuts).

If you are like me, you’ve done a lot of online shopping during the past few months. I’ve done more than usual. And I buy all kinds of crap. In the documentary, The Social Dilemma (did you see this? Even scarier than the Kardashians fiddling away while Rome burns). Anyway one of the creators of Instagram says that social media is now just a mall. She’s so right. It’s just so easy. And there’s been nothing to do, and nowhere to go.

One of my best qualities is that I don’t discriminate where I buy clothes from. Did you know Costco sells dresses? I do. I’ve worn one to a big meeting at work. I’ve worn Walmart pjs as a dress too (no one knew). I have no shame. Online is no different. I’ll buy from Bergdorf’s, QVC, China – I don’t care. I’ll buy it all. It’s the same with beauty products. I’ll buy almost anything from almost anywhere.

So here’s what I’ve gotten recently and my two cents on it:

I’ll start with my favorite. My son Jack gave this to me as a birthday present back in May and I used it up in just a few weeks. I’m on bottle number 3 now. It’s so so good – exfoliates, makes your skin brighter, tingles a bit and smells like pumpkin! Very on brand for this time of year. Get yourself some asap. Worth all $60.

This stuff is AMAZING. Quai pronounced KAY? QWAY? QWO? I dunno. But it’s so good. Rose hair and body oil that I also use on my face. I’m like an oil slick at night. It’s attractive. This was like $16 – and a little goes a long way. It smells lightly of rose and sinks right into your skin and hair. Heaven. If heaven was a rose oil.

This next purchase happened because I follow Goop on Instagram. The first 1,000 times they advertised it I looked away. Then I gave in and got it. It’s $55 for a big fat tub. The ads had these really crunchy women in short shorts lathering on huge amounts. They seemed really moisturized. I am still using it, but it’s just meh. Just ok. I wouldn’t spend the money. My search for a good all body moisturizer continues. I’ll keep you posted.

This. THIS. Have you used it? Do you hate it? This came from my daughter’s stash. She tried it once and had to remove it immediately. It burned too much. If you know me, you know this was music to my ears. Burned you say? Like a layer of skin off? Sign me up! And she’s right. It’s highly uncomfortable. I love it. Reviews all agree with Kera. No one likes it. I’ll definitely be buying it again. $15. Go get it. I dare you.

We were late to this game. I know many of you already knew about this but I’d never heard of Dr. Bronner’s! Holy moly it’s good. Is it scary that I can use it as a body soap and then use it to remove soap scum in the shower? Why yes it is! But as stated above, if it’s tingly…it’s for me. Buy the bottle for your reading pleasure alone. A giant bottle is $10. I’ve been using this one since May. No joke

Last but not least. These cooling water eye patches are the best. And I’ve tried many. These are the best. They cool. They calm. I love them so much I put them on to write this blog.

Happy weekend everyone. Deep breaths. xoxo

Behind the Scenes: Lessons Learned from Neha

Guest Post! This is from Sarah. Let me tell you all something about Sarah. She could run a small country if she wanted to, that’s how smart she is. I’m not sure what serendipity led her to the same company as me, but I am forever grateful. During my first few weeks at this job, I felt like an alien. I was “one of these things does not belong with the other” material. Then I found Sarah. And Jeanette (another lucky strike). I don’t know why I trusted them both immediately – but I did. And it made everything ok. These are the people I hope will start their own blogs, because people need to have them in their lives, like I’ve been lucky to have them in mine.

Guest blogger here – I’m Neha’s friend, Sarah. She assigned me to write a blog post “by Friday. Not draft. Final copy.” I asked her for a topic or a word count and she said “no rules.” So I decided that to share the lessons I have learned from her over the past 5+ years with you, dear readers.


“No Rules” I brought my two and a half year old to her house with one request — please tell him that to hang at your house that you have to use the potty. We arrived, I tried to start the show with her about the potty… and she blatantly ignored me. “Um, there are no rules at my house” and then proceeded to feed my son chocolate, French fries, cake, flavored seltzer, and any TV show he asked for in a reoccurring loop. I secretly hoped he would pee his pants on her couch while he was under her spell. Another time she whipped out a big toy truck on a random Saturday to buy his affection. It worked. Lesson learned, visits to her house may only be about indulgence.

Earlier this week, I asked my little guy what is his favorite thing. He answered “Tia Neha” and then “cocktails.” 🤦🏻‍♀️ He is two and a half.

Friendship with Neha means telling her everything big and small In jlooking at the history of our texts, it’s everything from “please help me, I’m in a bind” to “Is this crazy or normal?” to “are you aware of how many orange cars there are in PA?” I feel like I must tell her all of my big and small thoughts. After her blog post last week about the Revlon hair dryer, I had to confess and apologize to her that I’ve had that for two years and never told her about it. Then to atone for my sin of omission, I sent her approximately 17 texts, including links, of my most important hair products, tools, and why. Yesterday I texted her a play by play about how I got and now have pink eye.

Don’t Only Drop the Ball, Through It Out the WindowAnd Neha has become the place I bring my confessions and guilt… and most of the time, she tells me that I am too uptight and let it (whatever “it” is) go. After hearing this for five years, during which time I became a parent, I have fully embraced not only dropping the ball, but throwing it out the window.
A few months ago, my husband asked me if we have a nice Easter outfit for our son the day before. Nope! Can you try and get one today? Probably not because it’s second on my list after my top priority of taking a nap. Little guy wore his “fanciest” sweatshirt. While playing in his sandbox today, our little guy decided to take off his shorts and underwear. Sure dude, now we have a “nudie beach.” Sand got in every possible crevice. I sprayed him down with the hose afterward like a dog.
Let’s forgot the “should haves” or niceties. Friendship with Neha is getting permission to tell someone who is being crazy that they are crazy, or declining an invitation no reason given.
So I leave you with that — don’t just drop the ball, throw it out the window. It feels great. And if you need permission…email Neha, send her your confession, and she will tell you to stop being so uptight.

What’s wrong?

I met my husband when I was 19. I’m not 19 anymore. Which means I’ve been with him for a very very very long time. We’ve grown-up together. Built a life together. He likes to say that he knows me better than anyone (mostly true except when it comes to my coffee order, food order,  etc). In all seriousness he does know me well. He knows I don’t like restaurants with too many TVs, it gives me heart palpitations. He knows I prefer to end all good times by midnight or earlier. He knows I don’t like to PET animals. I like animals. I wish them well in the world. But I don’t like to touch them. He loves a good dog/cat rub. He’s saved me from appearing cold and heartless many times by blocking an oncoming pet. He loves me like that.

I think I know him really well too. For instance, I know that potholes bother him like inequality bothered Martin Luther King. I know that sounds like a massive exaggeration, but really it’s mostly true. Actually I’m not sure anything in the world bothers him like bad infrastructure. He’s fallen in love with dumpy towns simply based on clean, well-paved roads. The other love of his life – besides his wife, kids and good roads – is grass. No. Not weed. Actual grass. He loves a good bed of grass. Or yard of grass. Or whatever it’s called. Nothing makes him happier than new grass sprouts. He’s like a proud father.

But for all our mind-reading of each other’s habits, wants, like/dislikes, etc, he still insists on asking what I consider the worst question known to man-kind, “What’s Wrong?”.  I know that sounds like an exaggeration too. But it drives me bananas. I can count on one hand how many times I’ve asked that question to him….our entire marriage. I don’t have to ask. I know. I know because I listen. I see. I remember. That’s how I know.  I don’t know with everyone. I have to ask friends. I sometimes have to ask my kids. I also ask my co-workers. “What’s wrong?”. Fill me in. What have you been up to? What’s keeping you up at night? But usually, like 99.999% of the time, I know what’s wrong with my husband. It’s a work thing. Or a health thing. Or a schedule thing. I ask questions like, “does your knee still hurt?” or “What happened today with that _____?” filling in the blank of whatever work issue he’s told me about. You get it. And some of the time… wait for it….I don’t even ask! That’s right. You wanna know how to have a long marriage? If you sense your spouse is upset in any way, ignore it. Let him/her talk about it or let it blow over. I know this goes against most marriage advice you get from say…experts…but letting it blow over is a very powerful marriage tool, in my opinion.  Not good for all occasions, but it comes in handy sometimes. Your mate seems frustrated, irritated or moody? Go for a walk without them. Leave them alone for a bit. Works like a charm. Except when it doesn’t. In which case I go back to my earlier point, I’m no expert. You’re on your own.

If there is something wrong with me, there are only a handful of reasons for my salty mood. 1) Him. 2) Work. 3) He ordered my Chinese food incorrectly.  That’s about it folks. It really doesn’t get more interesting than that. Why doesn’t he know that? Him asking a broad, open-ended question like, “what’s wrong?” just makes me angrier, and I probably wasn’t even angry in the first place, just distracted or annoyed. Maybe I watched a commercial and now I’m sad thinking about how I never packed my kids a healthy bento box lunch. Maybe I heard the news and realized it was the end of the world. Or maybe I just ate tomato sauce too late in the day and now I’m paying for it. There’s too many ways to answer that question!  If he just narrowed it down a bit, it would be better. Or, even better, let it go. Let it blow over. The old blow-over technique that I’ve been trying to teach him for two decades. You see what I’m saying here?

What am I saying here? I don’t even know.  I think I’m just complaining. Or whining. See how easy it is to get me to open up? You didn’t even ask me anything.

 

 

 

 

PSA

I love this bag. I think you would love this bag too. This bag has been in our lives for a long time. It’s come to the beach. It’s moved homes. It’s taken dirty clothes to the laundromat and donated clothes to the shelter (this is a double edged sword. I feel good about donating clothes, then I feel bad for asking for my bag back. Oh well).

This bag cost 40 cents when I first started using it, then 99 cents. Then they reinvented it and asked $5.99 for it (they added a zipper). Then there was a revolt and the 99 cent version came back. All was well in the world.

In my opinion..this bag is as useful as my iPhone. Yes. Yes it is. Stop shaking you head. And it’s healthier for me too. I don’t stare at it for hours a day. It may even be better than Instagram…maybe that’s going to far.

This bag has gone camping, been muddy, been wet. This bag has hauled blankets and pillows and towels. There’s almost nothing it can’t do.

And the handles. The handles! Two to choose from. One short. One long enough to put over your shoulder.

IKEA has given us lots of wonderful things. Beds for $20, shelves in 1,000 pieces, meatballs definitely not made of horse meat. But this bag takes the cake. The Swedish cake.

0.0

A few months ago I got a Fit Bit. I was so excited! And then I wasn’t. It’s been collecting dust in a drawer ever since. Well not no more!
After a fun summer of eating, drinking, beaching and overall gluttony – I’m done. For the love of God and my zippers, I’m done.
I’m putting it out there so I can’t back out. From now on, my Fit Bit and I are attached to the hip. Or the wrist. She goes where I go! I’ve assigned her a gender and have already started talking to her. That’s what you do right?
So here I am at the beginning.
0 steps.
0 calories burned.
0 everything.
I’ve got nowhere to go but up. I mean down.
Wish me luck.

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Juiced

I didn’t post this weekend because I was super busy. Super busy juicing! Stop rolling your eyes.

I’ve been dying to find out what all the fuss is about. Lots of my blogging buddies juice all the time. One of them recommended a documentary called, “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead”. So on a rockin’ Friday night – I watched it. It was incredibly inspiring.

Does this mean I’m on a juice fast for 60 days? Ha! You crack me up.

Does this mean I’m on a juice fast for 10 days? No way Jose.

Does this mean I’m on a juice fast for 3 days? Nah.

I like chewing. And I love food. I’d be a sad, miserable person without it. Nobody wants that.

This just means I understand the redeeming qualities of fresh juice and want to incorporate it into our family’s life. You should watch the documentary. It outlines all the benefits of juicing which I won’t go into here.   It also makes me want to travel to Australia, but that’s another story.

If my mother knew I had a blog and could get over the personal stuff I share on this blog and was reading my blog today, she’d nod knowingly at this post. My parents have been juicing for years. And for years they’ve been trying to talk us into juicing. Her juices are 80% fruit 20% vegetable – which is the opposite ratio that’s recommended by most doctors, but I’m not telling them that.

So, first step to juicing? Buy a juicer. Here’s the one I got. Notice the placement of the juicer next to the cookie jar. Perfect.

I went with the Breville Juice Fountain Plus – it had the best reviews online and it also happened to be the one they used in the movie. Sorry these pictures are all a bit overexposed or something. I think it’s my inner glow from juicing that caused this. Really.

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I did some juice recipe research and spent the weekend buying veggies and fruits. I was telling the kids not to eat the fruit because it was for juicing until I realized how bananas I sounded. I let them eat whatever they wanted. On that note – you cannot juice bananas. Fyi.

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I was off and running. I juiced it all! Kale. Spinach. Carrots. Celery. Swiss Chard.

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I snuck in some beets too. Don’t tell my husband, he thinks he doesn’t like beets.

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Here’s the results…please ignore the Stoudt’s brewery tasting glass…slim pickin around here for drinking glasses. This is the tomato, carrot, beet concoction. Delicious.

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This is the spinach, cucumber, ginger and apple combo. Equally good. I strained this juice to get all the little bits out. Then I panicked and thought that maybe I strained all the goodness out so I dumped it all back in.

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Tomorrow I’ll be making a watermelon, papaya and mint combo. Exciting times.

 

 

Rainy days and Mondays

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It’s almost the end of July. Eastern Pennsylvania has once again turned into the tropics.

I know today isn’t Monday. I was going to post this yesterday but then I got roped into watching American Ninja Warrior.

Have you seen that show?

I like to have a bowl of ice cream while I watch. Which is also how I watch The Biggest Loser. I’m a rebel like that.

Have a good week everyone!

(my hydrangea plants didn’t die in the heat!)

Planking?

Looks like someone’s been taking (blurry) pictures with my camera.

This is called planking I think. 20/20 did a report on how it’s all the rage. Do you still watch 20/20? I do, even though I don’t think it’s called that anymore. Apparently you are supposed to snap shots of yourself planking in all kinds of different places.

It looks like excercise to me.

Here’s what my two lunatics were up to – not sure where my husband and I were, but I’m sure we weren’t planking, ahem.

Please note – there are photos below with my kid’s faces on a stove top. No children were harmed in this silliness. Please don’t call anybody.

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UPDATE:  my son told me this morning, after I’d written the post, that planking is OVER. This was last year and they do not do it anymore. Just so ya know.

Locks of Semi-Love

All through high school my hair was long. Really long. Down to my butt long. It was wavy and thick and beautiful. The week before I graduated I got it all cut off – thanks to Tasha Fogelman and her continuous peer pressure.

That’s when it all went down hill. My long waves became short frizz.

In college it didn’t matter. No one cared. It was cool to not care.

Then I got my first real city jobs working with city girls. Everyone had straight, sleek hair. I discovered this magical thing called a blow-out. It was so…civilized.

Since then I’ve dedicated a good deal of my life to straightening my hair. Flat square brushes, big round brushes, anti-frizz serum. Those are my friends.

I cried when I used my first hair iron.

But lately I’ve been going au natural. Embracing my waves. Forgiving my frizz.

I’ve got a ‘fro and I like it. I’m not sure how long I’ll keep it like this or if the warmer weather will force me to submit. But I’m gonna give it a shot.

Thought you should know.

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