Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween, also known as...

It's that time of the year again. The time of year when spirits and the dead cross over into the world of the living: it's Halloween! It is also that magical time that ladies like to call "Judgement-Free Dress-up-Like-a-S*ut Day!" (I'm trying to keep this blog as Rated G as possible!)

Listen up, ladies!  I do not know where the Halloween trend of dressing up in a trashy way came from but here's a little secret: it is not judgement-free day. You need to put that costume that leaves nothing to the imagination away and get yourself a personality!

I am sure many of you enjoy the free show and some of you may get offended by what I am saying (and if you are offended, you probably need to rank the "naughty level" of your Halloween costume). Honestly, can't we have a little more poise and imagination? You may think I am old-fashioned and you may see me as a prude but, you know what? I am not the only one. I aim to be classy, not trashy.


Ultimately, you do what you want and you wear what you want. However, that tiny piece of cloth that you are trying to pass as a costume will come and haunt you one day.

Happy Halloween to some of you and Happy Wear-Your-Lingerie-in-Public Day to the rest of you!
 (you know who you are)

Let's all celebrate Halloween the way it was meant to be celebrated: with a sugar high! Here's a delicious recipe that fits in well with the pumpkin season. (I lied. There is no sugar high with this recipe. No sugar! Just honey!)

Pumpkin Spice Latte Ice Cream


- 2 egg yolks
- 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- 1 can (13.5 ounces) full fat coconut milk
- 1/3 cup raw honey
- 1 1/2 tablespoons instant coffee
- 1/2 cup pumpkin purée


Whisk together egg yolks and pumpkin pie spice in a large bowl, set aside. Heat coconut milk, honey, and coffee over medium heat until mixture starts to steam, stirring occasionally. Slowly stream milk mixture into yolks while whisking. Add pumpkin puree and stir to combined. Pour into sealed container and refrigerate for 3 hours.
Pour mixture into ice cream maker and churn for 15-20 minutes, until it resembles soft serve ice cream. Serve immediately or freeze for 3 hours for hard ice cream. Makes 1 1/2 quarts.

                                                                                        photo and recipe retrieved from

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Ready or Not. Not!

I had one of those strange mornings and I am not quite sure how I made it to work. I woke up wishing I were still asleep. Although I'm a morning person, I don't like to be forced to wake up so most of my days start with me wanting to stay in bed. However, this morning was different. I felt like I was in a strange dream. I felt like a zombie (they seem to be in style now). I bet zombies are in style because we have all become zombies in some way (not in the scary, brain-eating way though). Think about it. Most of us spend our days and nights in front of screens: computer screens, TV screens, phone screens, iPad screens. We concentrate so much on what is going on in these screens and become disconnected from what is really going on. We are so active in the virtual world and are zombie-like in the real world.


Anyway, enough about zombies. With my eyes still almost completely closed, I got out of bed and put on my slippers. "Oh... they are on the wrong foot." No tiny amount of care or energy was available to put them on correctly. I dragged myself left and right to get ready and took a look outside. "Oh, how not-so-wonderful." The frost that had taken over my windows and car made me want to stay in bed even more. Nonetheless, I had to start my day so continued to get ready. Note that Mr. A was sleeping and I had to get ready in the dark. I get dressed and realize I wore my sweater inside out. I couldn't ignore this like I did with the slippers. So I am finally wearing everything the way I should be, I put on my (winter) jacket and am ready to tackle the day! Just as I was stepping out, I decided to get a fruit from the fridge to take to work with me. Instead of going to the fridge, for some reason I walked past the kitchen and ended up in the bathroom and started thinking "what am I doing here?"

Not quite as ready as I thought to tackle the day. An extra coffee for me today!

Next time you want coffee, here's a little chart that might come in handy.

Monday, October 28, 2013

I Bump You!

I did the unthinkable this weekend. Something I rarely do on weekends and do not intend to redo anytime soon (unless it is absolutely necessary). I went to my local Middle Eastern supermarket in the middle of the day! Some of you may be wondering why that is such a big deal. Well on weekends (unless you go early in the morning), that place seems to morph into something like a fashion show in the middle of traffic. Women walk in dressed to kill while the men smell like they took a bath in a bottle of cologne. Hundreds of people walk around quickly, pushing each other and filling their carts as if the market will run out of food and there is always that one person at the deli or spice stand who thinks his or her time is much more valuable than everyone else's and just approaches the counter without taking a number and recites his/her order.


Somehow, my slightly shy and introverted (and almost makeup-free) self does not fit in there very well. As I get pushed around and the right of "cart way" gets taken from me time and time again, I start thinking "I'm in a Middle Eastern market. (I'm Armenian- parents are from Lebanon). This is MY territory! You bump me with your cart? No, no, no! I BUMP YOU!"

Watch this video for the inspiration for my "I bump you" thoughts. Don't get offended, don't take it personally or think this is racist. Just have a sense of humor and laugh!

As I engage in a marvelous game of bumper carts and swiftly manoeuvre my way to the cash, I face a little problem. No tabloids to read at this store! The only thing to read there are nutritional information charts off candy bars... sometimes ignorance truly is bliss.

The reason I had to go to the market was to get ingredients for a seafood paella. Here is my somewhat tweaked version of the recipe.

Seafood Paella
yield: 4-6 servings


- 1/2 pound medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
- 1 pound firm white fish (such as monkfish), cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 pound squid, cleaned, cut into 1/2-inch rings, tentacles halved
- Coarse salt
- 5 cups fish stock
- 1 8oz bottle of clam juice
- 1/4 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 green bell peppers, seeded and finely chopped
- 10 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 3 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
- 3 cups short-grain rice
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cup frozen organic peas
- 16 mussels, cleaned
- Garlic aioli (recipe follows)


1. Place the shrimp, fish and squid in a colander, sprinkle with coarse salt and let sit while preparing the remaining ingredients.
2. Combine the stock, saffron, and wine in a saucepan, and bring to a boil while cooking fish.
3. Heat the olive oil in a wide paella pan set over two burners. Add the shrimp, fish, and squid, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove the shrimp and fish, leaving the squid in the pan. Add the peppers to the pan, and sauté 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté another minute to release the aromas. Stir in the paprika and tomatoes, and sauté 1 minute to release the aromas. Add the rice, toss to coat it with the tomato mixture, and stir in the parsley and bay leaves.
4. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F.
5. Add the hot broth to the pan, along with the peas. Boil for 5 to 10 minutes, or until some of the liquid reduces. (Paella should have just enough liquid to cook rice, but not be soupy). Adjust seasonings. Stir in the reserved shrimp and fish, and arrange the mussels over the paella with the edges that will open facing up.
6. Transfer paella pan to the oven and cook, uncovered, for 10 to 12 minutes, or until rice is almost cooked and most of the liquid is absorbed.
7. Remove paella from oven, cover loosely, and let sit for 10 minutes before serving. Serve with the Garlic Aioli.
Garlic Aioli
yield: 1 1/2 cups
- 8 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 cup olive oil


1. Mash the garlic with the salt, and combine with the egg yolks, vinegar, and lemon juice in a bowl. Blend with a whisk.

2. Gradually add oil, a drop at a time, whisking constantly. As mixture begins to thicken and look like mayonnaise, add oil more generously. Adjust seasonings and store in refrigerator until ready to use.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Child Baker

I remember my very first baking experience. I must have been 10 or 11 years old and was completely clueless in the kitchen. I had this sudden urge to bake (or perhaps eat baked goods.. sometimes it's like the Chicken or the Egg situation. Which came first? Wanting to bake or wanting to eat baked goods?). At that age, I did not know of all the recipes and treasures that could be found online. To me, the Internet was for homework or chatting on mIRC or ICQ (remember those days?)

So, craving something sweet, I opened the cupboard and there it was sitting. In all its glory, a jar of peanut butter with a recipe printed on the side! That was it!

I frantically ran around the kitchen to gather all the ingredients and trying to decode what was baking soda and baking powder, what a "big enough mixing bowl" looked like and how and with what exactly was I suppose to "beat" the butter, peanut butter and sugar (I did not speak "kitchen language" back then). I wanted these cookies to be a surprise so I refused to ask for help and I forbid everyone to come into the kitchen. I was on a mission to make the best peanut butter cookies ever!

I stood in front of all my ingredients and was excited to get started! I slowly got the answers to all my questions I had asked myself earlier (for example, my initial bowl was in fact NOT big enough). I followed the recipe step by step: measuring, sifting, mixing, beating and sneaking a few pieces of cookie dough along the way.

I did my best and was very pleased with the cookie dough result. All I had to do was put the baking sheet (with the perfectly aligned cookies that were perhaps exactly 2 inches apart like the recipe said) in the oven and my first baking experience would soon be a great success!

Suddenly, I faced another obstacle. Which knobs do I turn on the oven and what buttons do I push? Of course, figuring out how to set the temperature to 350F was easy but what was that extra knob for? Do I turn it to the right or to the left? Again, determined and a little stubborn, I did not ask for help. I went with my gut and turn the knob to the right. I waited for the little light on the oven to tell me that it was preheated and popped the baking sheet in.

Minutes away from delicious peanut butter cookies. This was when I made the official announcement to my family: we would be having freshly baked cookies soon! (and they no longer had to keep out of the kitchen).

Impatiently waiting for my "masterpiece" to be ready, I started smelling a peculiar smell. Where is it coming from? I followed my nose and it took me straight to the now-smoky oven. I quickly opened the door and found my once-beautiful cookies had turned into a charcoal-like mess! My gut feeling of turning the oven knob to the right was wrong!! I later understood that I had put the oven on "broil" instead of "bake".

Since then, it is safe to say that I have learned my lesson and have never tried to bake cookies on broil again. I have also found better peanut butter cookie recipes. Here is one recipe that I've made time and time again and is always a success: bite size, peanut butter cookie balls.

Peanut Butter Cookie Balls


- 3/4 cup room temperature butter
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 3/4 cup peanut butter
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- dash of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 3/4-2 cups flour
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar


1. Beat together butter and brown sugar. Add the egg, peanut butter, chocolate chips, salt and mix.

2. Sift in baking soda and flour and mix until well combined.

3. Refrigerate mixture for approximately 30 minutes.

4. Preheat oven to 375F.

5. Roll cookie dough in little balls (a little bit smaller than a ping pong ball).

6. A few at a time, toss the cookie dough balls in the granulated sugar.

7. Place cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

8. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

9. Let cookies cool slightly on the baking sheet for at least 5 minutes before moving them.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Under the Bed

Ever since I was a little girl, I have always wanted to be married. I never had that crazy bride gene.  I did not have a Wedding Binder with glitter and ribbons (I have one now though... minus the glitter and ribbons. The one I have is just white), I did not picture my wedding dress train being held by birds or my cake being 5 feet tall. Like I said, as a hopeless romantic, I just wanted to be married and spend my life with someone.

For a while, I pictured myself being married to Nick Carter from the Backstreet Boys. I was 9 years old and in love! I had posters of him all over my bedroom walls and the moment my parents told me we were going to a Backstreet Boys concert, my heart skipped a beat. The day of the concert, I wore my best burgundy, corduroy overalls (that really is what I was wearing! I remember that day so vividly) and thought that Nick Carter would see me in the crowd, our eyes would cross, suddenly the world would stop for us and we would be in love! Of course, that did not happen. My taste has since changed drastically improved.

Burgandy Corduroy Overalls

Because I wanted to BE married, when I was about 16 or 17 years old, I had started to buy things that I liked that I had no use for then. I thought I could use everything when I were to have my own house with my husband (even though there were still no signs of a potential hubby-to-be). I would buy things like candle holders, drinking glasses, bed throws and kitchen utensils and store them all under my bed. My family would often joke that I would need to buy another bed or elevate the one I had so I would have more "under the bed" space to store my things.
Sure enough, by the time Mr. A and I purchased our home, my "under the bed" (just one; no extra bed was required) had reached its maximum capacity. Everything was strategically placed and looked like a perfectly filled wall of Tetris blocks.
If everything I just said did not make me sound crazy enough, here's something else. I even had two "Sophie la Girafe" baby chew toys under my bed! For the record though (and to make myself look less crazy), I purchased the chew toys when Mr. A and I were already engaged (hence, knew we wanted kids) and they were at a clearance price! Tania, The Prep Mom!
Sophie la Girafe

Because Sophie la Girafe is for children, I thought I would share with you all an adult twist of a childhood favorite recipe: Mac & Cheese! This recipe is my version of the one served at the restaurant "Les Enfants Terribles."


Grown up Mac & Cheese
yield: 4-6 servings

- 2 cups elbow macaroni
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 cups milk (preferably 2%)
- 2 cups (1/2 pound) semi-hard shredded cheeses such as Emmental, aged Gouda and aged Cheddar. The choice of cheeses really depends on your taste.
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1. Preheat the broiler.
2. In a medium saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the macaroni until al dente; drain well.

3. Meanwhile, in another medium saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Whisk in the flour until a paste forms (a roux). Gradually whisk in the milk until smooth. Bring the sauce to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking constantly until thickened.
4. Remove from heat, stir in the mixed shredded cheeses until melted. Season with salt and pepper.

5. Add the macaroni to the hot cheese sauce and stir to coat.
6. Transfer to a ceramic, glass or cast iron dish (or individual mini dishes)and sprinkle on the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Broil 4 inches from the heat for 4 minutes, until richly browned. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Note: If you want to be extra indulgent, fry some bacon (cut into thin strips) and add to the cheese sauce-macaroni mixture before baking.

Make ahead: The cheese sauce can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. Reheat thoroughly before adding the macaroni.
                                                                                        photo by Macheesmo

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

What Really Matters

Let's do a little activity. Don't be scared. I promise it will only take a few minutes.

I challenge you to take a moment now (yes, right now!) and reflect. For a brief moment, mentally let go of everything you have that can be replaced. Forget about your car, forget about your expensive clothes and purses. Forget about your jewellery, your watch, and your fancy china. Forget about your state of the art television and sound system, your computer, your video games, your iPhone, iPod, iPad. You don't need them. Mentally empty all the contents of your house. Say goodbye to anything that money can buy.

All that is left is the roof above your head. You're in an empty room. Now bring in the people who are most dear to you. People you love and who love you back. People who make you smile. Your spouse, your children, your parents, your siblings, your grandparents, your friends, etc. You may want to bring one person, five people, ten, twenty... Are they all there in the imaginary empty room with you? Great. You now have everything.

As a society, we have become too impersonal, too impatient, too stressed, too busy, too materialistic, too cynical, too fake and too judgemental. Without realizing it, we overthink and overstress on small things that do not really matter. Impatient when there is a traffic jam during your drive? Anxious because your bus is late? Angry because you spilled your drink on your new tablecloth? Did the store run out of that shirt you wanted? SO WHAT?!

"Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing." - Oscar Wilde

Life works in very strange and unexpected ways sometimes. Situations occur that make you ponder life more deeply. It is a shame that most of us only realize what is really important when it's too late. Suddenly, whether you are prepared or not, everything falls apart before it falls back into place and into new perspective. Ultimately, you learn that the only things that really matter are health and to be with the people you cherish.
Be kind, be honest, be courteous, be patient, be selfless and be happy. Remember that happiness is sometimes a positive side effect of the actions you take. So do something nice and make someone smile. The smallest gesture can have the greatest effect and bring the biggest joy.

Surround yourself with people who love you and who bring out the best in you. Don't take anything or anyone for granted. We all want to believe that we are untouchable. We're not. 

When life gives you lemons, (before you make lemonade) ask yourself "why is life giving me these lemons?" You may or may not have the answer to that question right away. I strongly believe that everything happens for a reason and that, whether we see it or not, life is full of lessons. There are some lessons that are easier to learn than others.
We are still asking ourselves why and still trying to learn this life lesson...

Rest in Peace
Alice Hatzakordzian Beuyukian
June 24, 1945 - October 16, 2012

                                by Michael Josephson

Ready or not, some day it will all come to an end.
There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours or days.
All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten, will pass to someone else.
Your wealth, fame and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance.

It will not matter what you owned or what you were owed.
Your grudges, resentments, frustrations and jealousies will finally disappear.
So too, your hopes, ambitions, plans and to-do lists will expire.
The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away.

It won’t matter where you came from or what side of the tracks you lived on at the end.
It won’t matter whether you were beautiful or brilliant.
Even your gender and skin color will be irrelevant.
So what will matter? How will the value of your days be measured? 

What will matter is not what you bought but what you built,
not what you got but what you gave.
What will matter is not your success but your significance.
What will matter is not what you learned but what you taught.

What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage or sacrifice that enriched,
empowered or encouraged others to emulate your example.
What will matter is not your competence but your character. 

What will matter is not how many people you knew,
but how many will feel a lasting loss when you’re gone.
What will matter is not your memories but the memories of those who loved you.

What will matter is how long you will be remembered, by whom and for what.
Living a life that matters doesn’t happen by accident.
It’s not a matter of circumstance but of choice.
Choose to live a life that matters.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Perseverance & Pumpkins

Goodbye summer, goodbye Indian summer--- Hello beautiful, colorful Fall!  During the last few days, it's possible that my house smelled better than yours! As I sit here and blog, the enchanting smells of cinnamon, cloves and pumpkin are magically taking over all the rooms of my house.

This year, I am just as excited as little kids that it's Halloween season. This year, I have decided to dress up as a... Kidding. I'm putting on my chef's hat and cooking something that takes me straight to my childhood: Pumpkin Preserves.

I went to the farmer's market yesterday and picked up the biggest pumpkin I could find. As I wobbled towards my car hugging that heavy beast and wondering why I had decided to park so far away, I got more and more excited thinking that soon, I would be eating the Pumpkin Preserves I had so often as a child.


These delicious preserves only made an appearance once a year and now I understand why. The process is l.o.n.g. but worth it!

First of all, to make these preserves, I needed to find some lime powder (calcium hydroxide or "kles"). My perseverance and determination to find this lime powder really surprised me. As I dragged my sister from store to store, her patience surprised me even more! Because this pumpkin preserve is a middle eastern treat, I went to every single middle eastern store I could think of. When the clerk would tell me that they did not have what I was looking for, I was asking left and right where I might find this incredibly hard to get lime powder. I was stopping shoppers in the middle of the store to get their opinions. After several hours (yes, hours!) of hunting, mission accomplished! I finally found what I was looking for (and I think my sister was happier than I was).

So, I go home with my powder and giant pumpkin and started my adventures.To make a long story short and so that you can visualize the chaotic state my kitchen was in, I had to wash pots and pans in the bathtub. And because I could not dispose of the calcium hydroxide water by flushing it down the drain, I walked/wobbled with my extremely heavy, GIANT casserole to a nearby construction area at midnight. I quickly dumped the calcium-y water and ran back home flinging the empty casserole behind me. Hello to the neighbours who saw me and probably asked themselves where I was going with such a big casserole in the middle of the night (there were a few).

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” – John F. Kennedy

Pumpkin Preserves
              recipe by Hagop Andonian


- 2.5 kilo pumpkin
- 500 g calcium hydroxide, lime powder (kles)
- 2 kilo sugar
- 5 cups water
- 1 lemon's peel
- Juice of half a lemon
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 8 cloves


1. Put the 500 g of Calcium hydroxide/lime powder in a large container and add 3.5 liters of water. The solution will start to bubble. Within 15 minutes, it will calm down. The lime powder will sink slowly. Let this solution rest for 6 hours.

2. In the meantime, slice and peel the pumpkin. Cut them into uniform pieces (I diced them up with about one inch per side). Store them in the fridge.
3. Back to the lime powder-water solution. By now, the lime powder will have sunk. Using a small bowl or ladle, transfer the water to a big container and discard the lime powder. It is best if you do not discard it down the drain and note that if you spill it, it will leave a white residue.

4. Add the pumpkin pieces to the big container with the water and let it stay for 12 hours.

5. 12 hours later, discard water (again, not in the sink as it can clog your drain), remove the pumpkin pieces and wash them thoroughly with cold water (recipe says to wash them 7 times).

6. In a big casserole, add sugar and water and heat on High heat. Once it starts to bubble, lower heat to Medium, add the peel of one lemon, the cinnamon sticks, cloves and pumpkin pieces.

7. Cook uncovered until the pumpkin pieces start to look a little bit like glass (about 1.5-2 hours).

8. Add the juice of half a  lemon. When the pumpkins have cooled, transfer to jars and add the syrup on top.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

From Politics to Pancakes

I am not shy to admit that I do not follow politics and I rarely follow the news. I know what is going on in the world but I think everything I see or read about is so depressing or so blown out of proportion that I cannot follow a story without getting sad or angry (and nobody wants a sad or angry Prep Wife!)

To be honest, a part of me wishes I were more interested in politics (and I'm sure there are many reasons why I should be); but another part of me just tells me to stay away. With the risk of sounding extremely childish, I will say that I think politics (and some politicians-- not all) are dirty. After politicians try to convince each and every one of us that they care the most about the community, we hear more about their missteps and conspiracies than their desires and success stories in making a real difference. My deep yet naïve thoughts: let's all bake together and get along!

Every time people talk about politics, I take a step back, turn on my radar and scan the faces of the ones who are involved in the conversation with the hopes of finding another clueless and slightly desperate-looking facial expression. I usually find such a person. We're easy to spot. If you're like me and understand my situation, here are my great words of wisdom! When you find yourself physically (not verbally) in the middle of a deep and important discussion that you have no understanding of, just look for the silent one who has a small smile and nods a lot (or the one who finds another clueless face and starts talking about food. That's usually me!) That person is your window out. If you cannot find this person, find a drink and pretend you're interested.


So because I can't (nor do I want to) lecture you about politics, here's the ultimate fluffy pancake recipe!

The Best Pancakes of All Time!


- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 tablespoons sugar (optional)
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1 egg
- 2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil


1. Sift the flour, baking powder and baking soda into a bowl. Add the sugar (optional) and the salt and mix.
2. Make a well in the middle of the bowl and add the milk and the egg and mix until well combined.
3. Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat and add 2-3 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Add the pancake batter 1/4 cup at a time. Brown the pancake on both sides and top with your choice of butter, maple syrup, powdered sugar, jam...

The BEST pancakes of all time!

Good Guilt

Like many, I am on an endless journey to find an exercise regimen I can stick to. As you may have already guessed, I LOVE to eat. 

And because I LOVE to eat, I need to stay active. I'm a pretty active person. Mr. A often points out to me that I cannot sit still and do nothing. Being active is very natural to me; EXERCISING on the other hand is very unnatural. Oh how I wish I were the type of person who has a natural desire to go to the gym. That "natural desire" is a completely foreign notion to me. I don't mind exercising once I am AT the gym, it's the mental fight I have with myself convincing myself to go TO the gym that I mind. For some reason, there is always something that sounds a lot more fun and exciting to do (such as baking cookies or watching reruns of FRIENDS!) I'm not fat (not that there is anything wrong with being fat) but there is always room for improvement and we can all lose those extra 5 pounds.

Lately, my new "Thing" is going to boxing and kick boxing classes. It started out well. I was on a roll and was going a few times a week and then suddenly, there was a kink in the chain (aka beautiful, sunny vacation.) Suddenly, going to a boxing class and being paired up with people who are 20 times better than me simply did not look very appealing. (Can you blame me?) I know that there is a learning curve and that the people around me were not always as good as they are today. I know that I am improving with every class but I am not as good as I want to be. I'm not THERE yet. Here's the truth though: I will never get "there". "There" does not exist. I will always want to improve and surpass myself so "there" will always be pushed further and further away.
Remember when I said last month that this blog is feeling very therapeutic? I'm hoping that by the end of this, I get this aching feeling to go exercise. Truth is, I actually AM getting an aching feeling to go exercise. The aching feeling is guilt (and maybe a bit of shame). It may not sound like positive feelings but guilt and shame can actually BE positive if they get you moving. The trick is to keep the guilt trips short to avoid getting into vicious loops of negativity.
I just want to point out that I absolutely hate how society has tried to brainwash us and convinced us that beauty is synonymous with skinny and that anybody who does not fit in the "skinny" category is lazy, ugly, undetermined and has no self-control. I am NOT pro-Skinny; I am pro-Health and pro-Balance!

I watched an episode of "Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition" a few days ago. A young woman in her twenties weighing over 300 pounds wanted to lose more than half her body weight. I admired the determination and the drive this girl had to reach her goal. And although I (sometimes) find weight loss shows on TV entertaining and inspirational, I also find them extremely upsetting and delusional.
These shows concentrate on a very unhealthy ratio.
Maximum amount of exercise that one can endure without killing themselves + minimum amount of food and calories that one can consume = weight loss.
I would much rather opt for maximum amount of calories that does not trigger weight gain + stable, maintainable and healthy amount of exercise = weight loss.
Granted, you will not lose weight as quickly with the second equation, but you'll surely keep your sanity and prevent gaining that weight back!

A little ironic & somewhat disturbing but still funny enough to share.

To stay in the theme of health and balance, here is a wonderful recipe from one of Julia Child's cookbooks: Salade Niçoise.

Julia Child's Salade Niçoise


- 1 head of Boston Lettuce, large, washed and dried
- 2 to 3 Tbs virgin olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 1/2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed, blanched, refreshed in cold water, and dried
- 2/3 to 1 cup salad dressing, such as the Oil and Lemon Dressing (*recipe below)
- 3 or 4 fine rip red tomatoes, peeled, if you wish, and cored, quartered and seasoned before serving
- 8 to 10 ounces oil-packed tuna, drained and flaked
- 1 quart of French Potato salad (**recipe below)
- 8 hard-boiled eggs, halved lengthwise
- 1 can flat anchovy filets packed in oil, opened and drained just before serving
- 1/2 cup black olives
- 3 or 4 Tbs. capers
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced


1. Shortly before serving, line a handsome, large and wide salad bowl or a roomy platter with lettuce leaves, drizzle a little olive oil on them, and dust with a sprinkling of salt.
2. Toss the beans in a mixing bowl with a little of the dressing, and correct seasoning.
3. Drizzle a spoonful or two of the dressing over the tomatoes.
4. Season the tuna lightly with a spoonful or two of dressing.
5. Place the potatoes in the center of the bowl or platter; mound beans at strategic intervals, interspersing them with tomatoes and mounds of tuna.
6. Ring the salad with the eggs and curl an anchovy filet on top of each.
7. Spoon a little more vinaigrette over all; scatter on olives, capers, and parsley. Serve as soon as possible

*Julia Child`s Oil and Lemon Dressing


- 2 strips of fresh lemon peel, 1 by 2 ½ inches each
- 1/4 tsp. salt, plus more, if needed
- 1/2 Tbs. Dijon-type prepared mustard
- 1 to 2 Tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 cup fine fresh oil
- Freshly ground pepper


Mince the lemon peel very finely with the salt, scrape it into the mortar or bowl, and mash into a fine paste with the pestle or spoon.
Beat in the mustard and 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice; when thoroughly blended start beating in the oil by droplets to make a homogeneous sauce—easier when done with a small electric mixer.
Beat in droplets more lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.
**Julia Child's French Potato Salad


- 1 1/2 pounds "boiling" potatoes, all the same size and shape if possible
- 1 to 1 1/2 tsp per quart of water
- 2 Tbs shallots or scallions, finely minced
- Salt
- White pepper, freshly ground
- 1/4 cup chicken stock
- 1 1/2 Tbs wine vinegar
- 2 to 3 Tbs fresh parsley, chopped
- 2 to 3 Tbs light olive oil, optional


1. Fill a three-quart saucepan half full with cold water.
Wash the potatoes.
2. One at a time peel a potato, and if it's round and fat rather than long and thin, cut it in half lengthwise. Cut the potato into slices 1/4 inch thick, and drop the slices into the pan of water, to prevent discoloration while you prepare the rest.
It is best to cook them within 1/2 hour to prevent the possibility of their turning grey.
3. Drain out the water, then add clean cold water to cover, and the salt. Bring to the simmer, and simmer 2 to 3 minutes, or until the potatoes are just tender -- keep testing by eating a slice to be sure.
Crunchily undercooked potatoes are dreadful, and overcooked potato slices will disintegrate.
4. Drain out the cooking water (you may wish to use it for soup). At once cover the pan and set aside for 3 to 4 minutes (but no longer than 5), to allow the slices to firm up. Then uncover the potatoes and plane to season them while still warm.
5. Turn the warm potatoes into a roomy bowl and toss gently with the shallots or scallions, stock or cooking water, vinegar, and parsley. Let steep 10 minutes or so, tossing gently several times. Then correct seasoning, toss with the optional oil, and the potatoes are ready for serving.
The potatoes will keep a day or two covered and under refrigeration. If they are made with oil, let sit for 1/2 hour at room temperature before serving.
                                                                                                            Picture retrieved from