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Feels Like Home


They say “A kiss is just a kiss”, that is until you almost kiss your new friend, husband’s co-worker, or their spouse right on the mouth.

Every culture has a different way of saying hello and goodbye. Being surrounded by all different cultures here, the learning curve for me on greetings and partings has been high.

Before I moved here I read that as a woman I should never extend my hand for an Arab man to shake. What I didn’t read was that the second time on I would see someone I had met who was European, there would be a kiss on the cheek. Or two. Or even three.

This is where it gets totally confusing for me.

I am used to a hug, or an occasional cheek kiss back home, so when someone naturally goes in for the second cheek-kiss and I have forgotten that it would happen, it makes for this awkward second where I am face to face with someone and they probably think I am going to kiss them on the lips.

Then the next time they see me they decide, “I’ll only give her one kiss, since that’s what Americans do.”

“And I am thinking, “I’m ready! Two kisses. I got it down this time.”

And we are right back to where we are started.

Times like this I wish I could just Houdini into and out of social greetings.

What else has been weird for me is learning a new form of English. People are constantly telling me that I speak “American” English. Not the English the rest of the world speaks. There are days where I don’t feel like I don’t speak English at all.

I crack a joke sometimes, and no one laughs. I am convinced it’s because they don’t understand my “American” English, and not because my humor is not funny.

Aside from these awkward moments, I am having a blast here! There is not really a lot to complain about.

Every evening it seems there is a beautiful clear night sky.

It’s sunny almost every day.

The sunsets here are what I have only seen in pictures. And they happen every day.

The weather here is near perfect right now.

I have met the most wonderful people, who I am so lucky to have as friends.

I’m learning golf. With it, I’m learning patience, but having a blast doing it.

I still get to playing tennis. Outside. In the winter.

I get to paddle board in the ocean whenever I want.

The city is always bustling and ready to provide a good time. If you know me, you know I love a good time.

I’m getting visitors in a few weeks!!!!!!!

I got a care package!!!!! With Triscuits in it!!

Sure is starting to feel like home here.

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FAQ’S and a Sundried Tomato Wrap

I thought when I moved here that I would have all kinds of time to blog. I wouldn’t know a soul, I would be at home a lot. Being sad. Eating my weight in hummus and pita.
I am very pleased to report that it is quite the opposite, (minus the hummus & pita part.) We have met wonderful people and been super busy exploring the area. We are happy. We are settling in nicely. We miss our friends and family like crazy, but instead of wanting to be back home we wish we could bring them all here.
Anyone? Anyone?
With all of that said, I have been my usual self and remained inconsistent with my blogging.
My sincere apologies.

Here we go…

When we were back in Ohio, I would get similar reactions from people when I would share the news that we were moving to Dubai; an immediate look of surprise or confusion. Then one of two things would happen. They would get a look of fear and ask a list of questions OR they would smile and ask a list of questions and tell me about how they knew somebody who had been there or lived there or lived somewhere in the middle east. Or Asia.
I am not dogging on these people. I truly appreciated their interest and willingness to share their knowledge. I really had nothing to share at that point because I hadn’t really been to Dubai aside from a 3-day trip.
Now that I have been here a little bit longer, I am happy to answer some of these questions with the confidence of experience, (six weeks of experience, but experience all the same.)

Q: I had a friend who moved to India too. Are you excited?
I didn’t move to Mumbai. I moved to Dubai. Dubai is located on the Arabian Gulf.

Q: Will you have to wear a burqa?
A: No. A burqa from what I understand is head to toe covering, with a sheer piece over the face. I have seen some women here wearing that. What I have seen more of here in Dubai is an Abaya. This is more of a robe. Their head is also covered, but not their face. The Abaya can have beautiful embelishments on them and even a touch of color. Both symbolize modesty and morality.
I do not have to wear either. I wear shorts around my neighborhood, pants or a skirt out to the mall. Basically, if one dresses respectfully out in public, one will be okay.

Q: Can you eat pork there? I mean, bacon. What will you do without bacon?<br />
A: Yes. However it is not served at most restaurants. Beef bacon is offered. Nope, not the same. AT ALL. But for those who have never had pork, it may be wonderful. If you are in a hotel and eating at a buffet, you may find a little table in the corner with pork bacon. It will always be separated from everything else, like a child being bad.
In some grocery stores you can find pork. It is in a back room.
The first time I discovered the back room I saw the sign that said, “For Non-Muslims Only”. I walked through the door and I felt like I was walking next to Veruca Salt as we entered Willy Wonka’s magic candy room. I could hear the song, “We’ll begin. With a spin. Through the world of your imagination.”
A large beautiful room full of pork products. A butcher with pork roasts, sausages, BACON, & pepperoni. Shelves of pork and beans. And jello. And pop tarts.

Q: Is alcohol allowed in Dubai?
Yes. But not everywhere. And it is very controlled. Alcohol is only served within hotels, which is why hotels here have a number of restaurants inside. In order to purchase alcohol for your home, a person needs to apply for a license. This takes about a month to 6 weeks to process. This meant things were pretty dry here for a while. But no worries, the license came in and we have made up for lost time.
In order for a woman to obtain this license, she needs a letter from their husband saying she is allowed to apply. She needs this to get her drivers license as well.
Thankfully I am good at forging the Great Husband’s signature.
Just kidding. He happily wrote me a glowing letter of non-contention.

(Edit: I would like to add that the non-contention rule is because I am sponsored by my husband on his Visa. He, too, needed the same letter from his work, who is sponsoring him.)

Q:Isn’t the calendar week different there?
Yes. Weekends are on Friday and Saturday. Yep, hump day is on Tuesday. Garfield would hate Sundays. We would call people Saturday drivers. I’m still adjusting to this. TGIT doesn’t quite roll off the tongue. And I need Rebecca Black to come out with a new version of her song for us to dance to on Thursday mornings.

Sundried Tomato Wrap

Sundried Tomato and Irish Cheddar Wrap
Serves 2

2 Whole Grain Wraps
4 Tb Pureed Sundried Tomatoes
4 Slices of White Irish Cheddar
4 Medium Leaves of Lettuce
2 Tb Mayonnaise
8 Thin Slices Cucumber

On each wrap, 2 Tb spread sundered tomato paste.
Lay 2 slices cheese, 2 lettuce leaves, 1 Tb Mayo and 4 slices cucumber.
Tightly roll up wrap and cut in half.

Featured post

Dubai: Things I’m Getting Used To

I’m learning life here in Dubai is very different, yet very much the same. I really only feel far, far away from Ohio when I miss my family. However, there is a growing list of things I am getting used to here. Things that are REALLY different from home. Big and small, these things are part of the adjustment, the learning, and the growing (and by growing I mean learning not to fall into a puddle on the floor in public crying like a baby every time something is frustrating).

1.This thing.

Bum Gun

I really wasn’t sure what to do with it.

Clean the toilet?

Wash my hands?

Cool off?

Eventually I learned it was for cleaning your privates after you use the facilities. Cleanliness is quite important in Islam so they are next to EVERY toilet.

I tend to shy away from the bum gun, buy my son adores it. If you are ever in public and hear “Mommy spray my bottom!” coming from a stall, that would be him.

Word to the wise, if you are caught in a stall with no toilet paper and use the bum gun because it is the next best thing, make sure you get nice and dry after. Because if you are wearing linen pants and walk out with a huge water stain on your bum it can be guaranteed that everyone walking behind you will know where you just came from. Just sayin’.

2. Driving

The traffic is insane.

The drivers are worse.

Especially the moms at school. This is no lie.

It is all aggression, speed, and getting to the front of any line.

The roads are ALWAYS changing so no GPS can keep up, that is if you are lucky to get a signal.

FOUR LANE TURNABOUTS. I know we don’t have turnabouts at home, so picture Clark Griswold in London in National Lampoons European Vacation. He is stuck in a turnabout for hours saying over and over, “Look, Honey! Big Ben! Parliament!”

These turnabouts make my heart speed up every single time I approach one.

I am really missing the simple left turn.


Dubai is and has been in a constant state of growth. There is construction every where you turn. Literally. Everywhere.

As soon as you say, “I can’t believe Dubai doesn’t have ____,” someone will respond, “Oh, they are building one down the road.”

4.Sand Storms

Just a phenomenon that I am getting used to. They haven’t happened often since I have been here. Just two. But they are really an anomaly to me. It looks like it will rain. It gets dark and windy, but if you step outside you get whipped with sand pellets. They will close the pool due to a sand storm. I’m not sure why, but they do.

The sand leaves a light dusting on everything, so cars get pretty really quickly. No worries though, if you park at the mall someone can wash your car for 18 Dirham ($4.90), while you shop.


The shopping here is INSANE. I have never seen so many different places selling different things. Such a mix of old and new!

My favorite place so far? DAISO

It is like a Japanese dollar store. Everything is bright and cheery and everything is priced at 7 Dirham ($1.91). They have everything from tupperware to wigs. Makeup to Gardening supplies.

I picked up these fabulous face collagen face masks. I don’t have a clue what the package says, but it sure did make my face feel soft!

Japanese Mask

6.The Money

Some people here have seriously ridiculous amounts of money. And they like to show it. You can tell by cars like this:


Yep, that is a car brushed in gold. Not the first one I’ve seen here, and I am sure not the last.

The cars here are ridiculous. I wouldn’t know the difference if my husband hadn’t told me. Every day he points out cars and tells me around how much they are worth…always upwards of $100,00.

7.The Laborers

The gardeners, the construction workers, the maintenance men, the movers, etc. These men leave their families back in their home countries and do backbreaking jobs. In the sweltering heat. For long hours. And many ride their bikes on the highway back to their apartments, that they share with many other men.

I am always taking them food and water, and giving them children’s clothes to send home. Twice I set out shoes the kids have outgrown on top of the trash can. Both time they were literally gone in 2 minutes. I know I can’t do anything to fix their situation, but all I can do is what I think is right.

8.The Food

I am in food heaven. This is one of the easiest things to get used to for sure. So many nationalities, so many options. Although I haven’t gotten any food delivered, and shoot me if I ever do this, one can get fast food delivered. Yep, want some KFC? Call ’em up. Need some Burger King? At your doorstep.

9.The Accents

I very rarely hear an American accent. So when I am surrounded by British, Irish, Pakistani, Indian, UAE, and South African accents, my thoughts start to have an accent.

Yes, I started thinking in different accents. I know. I’m weird.

10.The Light Switches</p>

For some reason the bathroom light switches are located on the OUTSIDE of the bathroom. And the flip it down to turn it on and up to turn it off. It still confuses me weeks later.

Small and big these are just a few of the things I am getting used to.

Believe me when I say that there are many more.

Next post will have a recipe.

I promise.

P.S. I am still getting used to seeing camels on the side of the road. We live a bit away from the city, so there is some desert in between. Twice I have seen camels. The Great Husband told me it was a mirage the first time. The second time there were hundreds, and other people saw them. I’m happy to know that I’m not crazy.

Featured post

It’s Not Goodbye, it’s Dubai

I am sitting on my old couch in my new home. Thousands of miles away from Cincinnati. It is Day 5 here in sweltering Dubai, and we are doing surprisingly okay.

The decision to move here was made quickly, but not without tons and tons of discussion, consideration, tears, list-making of pros and cons, and asking the question, “WHY?”.

Ultimately, we knew the experience would be once we could not possibly pass up. Yes, there were many risks, hopefully none of which will do irreparable harm, but there were also many, many possible rewards.

So we decided to dive head-first and go all in.

Our journey to Dubai started 5 months ago when the Great Husband whisked me out here for a whirlwind trip of a mere 4 days. We had to check out this place before he accepted an offer from his company to relocate.

Our short trip was a total shock to my system. The entire time I felt like there was a heavy weight on my chest. I knew it was the pressure of making the decision that had me feeling that way. The city itself presented beautifully. Tall buildings, fancy cars, huge shopping, and Subway. It felt like a mix between Vegas and NYC. So, through my tears I said I knew we could do this and gave the thumbs up for him to accept the job.

Well, actually I said, “I really want to say ‘no’ because I am scared, but deep down my heart is telling me I’ll regret it if we pass this up.”

For the next 4 months we said goodbye. Every interaction felt important because I wasn’t sure how I was going to live my daily life without the people that were so important to me. The Great Husband left 3 months before us, so that was a difficult goodbye. My family, friends, my Jazzercise students, & my neighbors. Ann, the bagging lady at Kroger, all the servers at Skyline, the childcare staff at the Sports Club. Every time I saw these people over the last few months it reminded me of how grateful I am of them and how lucky I had been to see them almost every day.

Then there were the trips and going away celebrations. All of them special and fun and engrained in my memory for life.

Then there was our last day in Cincinnati.

So many tears.

So many hugs.

SO many feelings bursting at the seams.

A tearful drop-off at the airport…

A phone call to a friend 8 hours later, “Can I come stay at your house tonight? Our flight was delayed. Then delayed again. Then we finally got on and they announced the plane was not working and we would have to get off and switch planes. So we missed our connection. And there is not another available flight to Dubai for two days.”

A phone call to the Great Husband, who started to bawl because he missed us so much and this was just the icing on the cake and he couldn’t hold it together anymore.

Yes, we said our tearful goodbyes and turned around and walked right back in the door. For 2 more days.

48 hours later, we say goodbye again. Less tears this time. We were READY!

We hopped into my dad’s car.

Driving over a bridge Quinn starts to get sick. REALLY sick.

I dump out my purse and throw it to her.

Right in time for her to fill it up with the contents of her stomach.

Minor setback. I use a plastic bag for a purse. Sure wish I had that plastic bag in the car when she was getting sick!

Flight #1 to Atlanta. No delays. Smooth sailing.

Since we had 5 hours in Atlanta I paid our way into the Sky Club. We deserved a little comfort.

After a stern warning that we have to act properly, quietly, and NO RUNNING, Declan goes running to our chairs, trips and falls, and splashes his strawberry smoothie.

All. Over.

On. Carpet.

I really wanted a drink at this point. A stiff one. I refrained. I needed a clear mind to get us through.

After 5 hours, popcorn spilled, 3 epic arguments between bro and sis, games of UNO, tears, I pads, and books, it was time to catch our plane.

We arrived at the gate more ready than ever for our last leg of the trip.


More food, more spills, more tears, more UNO.

Finally on the plane. FINALLY!

Sleep, Movies, Food, UNO, books, coloring, sleep, fighting, tears, potty, tears, UNO, potty, food, fighting, movies, tears, food, potty, DUBAI!

Walking off the plane and seeing the Great Husband at that moment was one of the greatest moments of my life. I gave him the BO-filled hug and a morning breath kiss of his life.

Which brings me back to today.

I am going to try to blog this experience as much as I possibly can. I hope you can join me.

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Roasted Beet and Avocado Salad

My 20 year high school reunion is this year. Facebook has been a buzz with old classmates talking about the upcoming event. I have gone back and forth about attending.
I went to the 10 year reunion. I felt like everyone stuck to the same groups as they did in high school. Everyone and everything felt pretty much the same.
Except we were drinking legally.
I’ve heard from many people who the 20 year is different. People have lived their own lives for long enough to step away from their high school roles…hopefully. People have new things going on. Everyone just shows up to have a good time.
I think the role of Facebook has added a new element to the reunion. I am Facebook friends with a lot of people in high school, so does that mean that person will talk to me like they know that I really enjoy Home Run Inn Pizza and that my daughter sometimes acts like Amelia Bedelia? Even though we have not spoken a word directly to each other in at least 20 years?
Or will they totally ignore me? Because maybe you’ve had that happen.
I know I have.
You know when you see someone from high school who you haven’t seen in ages. And you are Facebook friends. So you know that their grandma just died and the names of their kids, and you are standing right next to each other, but for whatever reason you pretend you don’t know or remember each other.
It happens.
I am trying to break out of that. When I see someone I knew or recognize I truly try to step out of my uncomfortable feeling and go up and talk to them. Sometimes I am so glad I do, and sometimes I catch them totally off guard and it is clear they want to run. Fast.
I digress…
As I sit hear about to start Weight Watchers for the 4th time in 2 months, I wonder if anyone will care about people’s changes. I know I have lots more gray hair, a few more wrinkles, a couple extra pounds, and 20 years of wonderful experiences that I am bringing to the table. But hopefully none of that matters. Because all I am really looking forward to is having some laughs, some drinks, and a weekend away from my kids with some people I knew long ago.

Here is a recipe I received from a new friend.
Thanks for sharing, Tenney!

Roasted Beet Salad

Salad with Roasted Beets and Avocado

serves 6-8

2 medium red beets
2 medium orange beets
1 Tb olive oil
1/3 c canola oil
1/3 c red wine vinegar
2 tsp Dijon
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp lemon juice
2 avocados
1/2 crumbled goat cheese

Preheat oven to 375.
Rub olive oil over beets and wrap them individually in tin foil.
Place in oven and cook for 1 hour.
For the dressing, whisk canola, vinegar, Dijon, garlic, lemon juice, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper until emulsified.
When beets are done, remove from tinfoil and let cool for 10 minutes.
Slide the skin off of the beets, removing it all.
Cut beets into a large dice.
Place and a bowl with 1/4 of the dressing and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
Slice avocados.
Place mixed greens in a large bowl and toss with remaining dressing.
Top with beets, avocado, and goat cheese.
Serve and enjoy immediately.

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Balsamic Brussels Sprouts with Fried Egg

Spring break is just around the corner and we are headed out like trout.  Yep, after what seemed like the longest winter ever, this family is going to hop in the car and trek down south for some fun in the sun.

First step towards a bathing suit body?  Get the stomach bug that is going around these parts.  The sickness was an unexpected gift first given to me while I was on stage teaching my Jazzercise class.  You know that special feeling that comes on strong and suddenly?  That feeling that has you seeing spots and knowing you might spill your stomach right then and there?

That’s what happened to me.  It came on quicker than you can say “I’m not pregnant.”  Times like that I am thankful I teach to a group of nurturing and compassionate women.  The sickness had it in for me.  The timing was awful.  Started on stage, two hours before I was supposed to take my kids to the circus, and one day before I was hosting 5 of my in-laws.

Thank goodness the sickness is short.  For a mere 24 hours I thought I was close to death.  For the next 5 days I felt like I had been run over by car.  Then I finally woke up feeling fine.  That day I even had a margarita.  That was when I knew that the demons had left me and I was finally healed.

Balsamic Brussles

Balsamic Brussels Sprouts with Fried Egg

serves 4

2 Tb olive oil
4 c shredded brussels sprouts
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c balsamic vinegar
2 tsp pepper
1 tsp butter
1/4 c crumbled goat cheese
4 eggs

Heat a large frying pan with olive oil.
Add brussels sprouts and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Let brussels sit for a moment so they can brown, then continue to move them around the pan.
Add balsamic vinegar and cook down until it is less watery.
In a separate frying pan, melt butter over medium heat.
Fry eggs, keeping yolk soft.
Top each serving of brussels with a sprinkle of goat cheese an egg.

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The Most Amazing Ginger Cookies

Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to my guest blogger, The Fabulous Marie!

Patrick and Marie

Marie is a mother of the one and only spunky 3 year old Patrick.  Wife, mother, and Christmas cookie business owner.  And in her spare time she works a more-than-full-time job as a Director of Services and Supports for a county board of developmental disabilities.  Yep.  She does it all.
Today, we have to gift to hear a tad about her life.  She has also been gracious enough to share her most amazing (seriously, most amazing) ginger cookie recipe.

I’m away for work a lot, so when I’m home one of my favorite ways to spend time with my son is to have him help me in the kitchen.  He just turned three, and it’s amazing how much fun we can have just making dinner together.  For anyone thinking it’s deranged to encourage a toddler to cook, let me spin this another way.  When Patrick is helping me make pancakes for breakfast, I feel confident that I have at least a 20 minute window where he isn’t doing this:

Patrick cereal

 or this-:mariephoto

or whatever happened here:


Here is our favorite cookie recipe:

Ginger Cookie

The Most Amazing Giant Ginger Cookies

Yield: 20 big cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Line baking sheets with parchment paper

2 ¼ c all purpose flour

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon baking soda

¾ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon salt

¾ cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1 egg1 tablespoon water

¼ cup molasses

2 tablespoons sugar

Combine the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, ground cloves, and salt in a large bowl.  Make sure to let your little one help measure and dump ingredients.  Three-year-olds are great at dumping things into bowls!

In a separate bowl, cream the softened butter and sugar with an electric mixer until well combined.  Little hands definitely need a bit of hand-over-hand assistance for this part, but mixers are considered lots of fun.

Add the egg, water and molasses to your butter and sugar; mix well.  Patrick is an expert bowl-scraper during this step.

At wet ingredients to dry, and mix until all ingredients look evenly incorporated.  Use a large melon baller to scoop cookie dough into balls.  Roll each ball in sugar.  This is a perfect job for a kiddo!  Put our sugar-dipped dough onto the baking sheets, and give each cookie lots of room to expand.  I usually only put four cookies on a tray because they spread so much.

Bake 15 minutes.  Conduct a “quality assurance review” as soon as your cookies have cooled a little.  This, of course, is the ultimate pay-off.  There’s nothing like sharing a cookie with your favorite little cookie monster.

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Beef Tenderloin with Horseradish

Beef TenderloinMy friend Erin and I bought a cow last fall.
Well, we bought half a cow.
Since its only half, it only says “Mo” instead of “Moo”
Just kidding.
We just bought the beef from half a cow.
A beautiful, happily and humanely-raised, grass-fed cow.
I love knowing the farmers that raised this cow.
I love preparing, eating and serving this cow.
I thank you, Cow. My family thanks you too.

Beef Tenderloin with Horseradish Sauce and Sweet Potato
serves 6

3 Sweet Potatoes, scrubbed and cleaned
1 2-lb Beef Tenderloin
3 Tb Montreal Steak Seasoning
2 Tb Butter
2 Tb Olive Oil
1/4 c Sour Cream
1/4 c Mayonnaise
3 Tb Horseradish (If you like it spicy, add more)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 425F

With a fork, poke holes all over the sweet potatoes.
Place sweet potatoes in the oven for one hour.
Heat a Cast Iron Skillet for 30 mins over high heat. (YES! 30 minutes.)
Trim any heavy fat or silver skin off tenderloin.
Evenly rub the steak seasoning on all sides of the beef.
After skillet is heated, add oil and butter.
Place tenderloin in skillet and let brown on all sides. About 2 minutes per side.
Place beef on a cookie sheet and in oven with the potatoes for the remaining 40 minutes.
In a bowl, mix sour cream, mayo, horseradish, salt and pepper until smooth. Set aside.
Check meat temperature with 5 minutes remaining. As soon as beef hits 145F, remove it from oven.
Cover with foil and let sit for 15 minutes.
Remove potatoes from oven.
Cut each potato in half and scoop out pulp on to plate.
Slice tenderloin and place on top of potatoes.
Drizzle with horseradish sauce.

Featured post

Scallop with Bacon and Sriracha Aioli

Scallop with BaconSometimes its good to get away with my girlfriends.
I am lucky enough to have the opportunity to do that a few times a year.
Yes, a few times a year may seem like a lot to you. It certainly does to my husband.
It’s a need though. Getting away with my girlfriends gives me so much.
Here are my top 10 reasons why getting away with them are so very important.

10. It’s time away from my job as a stay at home mom.
9. When I am away, I don’t have to talk about home or family issues if I don’t want to.
8. If I DO want to talk about said issues, I have unbiased ears listening and supporting. (Okay, maybe not totally unbiased. my girlfriends are almost always on my side.)
7. I get to sleep in. I usually can’t, but the opportunity is there.
6. Every meal I eat I is hot. I don’t have to get up and get anyone milk, or a new fork, or a napkin, or anything else.
5. If we go out, I don’t have to take anyone to the bathroom. (And since my kids ALWAYS have to poop at a restaurant, I don’t have to sit there and wait for anyone either!)
4. I can cuss up a storm and no one will judge me. Yep, sometimes I do.
3. I can laugh, cry, dance, eat, swim, and play just like I did back in college…just more responsibly. (I promise, Honey.)
2. Each time I leave I end up missing my family so much it hurts. So then I am READY to come home.
1. I come home more refreshed, more revived, loving my family and my life even more than I did while I left.

So, my advice to you is to take that girls trip one of your friends might have mentioned. If your significant other doesn’t want you to go, tell them those reasons why it is a win-win. It may be a hard sell, but it is totally worth it.

It’s best to have the conversation about going over a good meal like this one:

Scallop with Bacon and Sriracha Aioli
serves 2

4 Tb real mayonnaise
1 Tb Sriracha
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp garlic paste
4 slices bacon
4 large scallops
1 tsp salt
1 tsp butter

Cook bacon in a frying pan until very crispy.
While bacon is cooking, mix mayo, paprika, sriracha, and garlic paste in a small bowl. Add a small pinch of salt. Set aside.
Dry scallops with paper towel, then season with salt on both sides.
When bacon is finished cooking, remove from pan and set on paper towel.
Drain most of the grease, keeping about 1 Tb in the pan.
Heat the pan again until very hot, add butter and melt.
Add scallops.
Cook about 1 minute on each side.
Baste with butter then remove them from the pan.
Plate them on a spread of aioli and a sprinkle of bacon.

Featured post

Roasted Chicken Breast and Vegetables

roasted chicken breast When I was younger, I was a thumb sucker.  Short of cutting off my hands my parents tried everything to get me to quit.  Medicine on the thumb, punishment, incentives; nothing worked.  I sucked my thumb for a long, long time.  Seriously.  A long time.

Thank goodness neither of my kids sucked their thumbs, but both of my kids loved their pacifiers.

I loved them too.  It provided them so much comfort.

And gave some moments of silence.

I have found that everyone has a different name their kids called their pacifiers.

Binkey, Dee, Nana, Fire.  This list goes on and on.

In my home we called them Blues.

My kids loved their Blue so much that we always had a stockpile of them on hand.

One in every room.  At least five in their bed.  Four more in the car.

I knew that the Blues weren’t great for their teeth, or great for developing speech.  I’m sure you can think of a myriad of reasons why they are not great.  But they made my kids happy.

And I didn’t want to take it away until they could remotely understand that they wouldn’t be seeing it again.  And there was no going back.  That they were quitting cold turkey.

Approaching age three The Great Husband and I would start the conversation.

It would go a little something like this:

“Did you know that there are kids in the world that can’t afford Blues?
Did you know that there is beautiful fairy that gives them a Blue?
The fairy comes to the home of kids who have blues but are too old to use them anymore and takes them in the middle of the night. Then she delivers them to the kids who are too poor to buy them.
I saw the fairy flying around our house the other night, which means its time to leave your Blues out so she can take them. Think about how happy you are going to make those kids she gives them to.”

Then that night we all would set the blues out on the the back porch.

The next morning they would be gone. (A la in the garbage.)

A note is left in their place.

“Thank you so much for giving me these blues.  You will be a hero to a baby.”

I swear to you that this worked without a hitch with both of my kids.

They literally never asked about them again.

Until a random one showed up under the couch.


Then they never asked about them again.

Want to celebrate breaking the pacifier habit?

Make this chicken recipe.  You’ll be happy  you did.

Roasted Chicken and Vegetables

This recipe was inspired by a meal my cousin Becky brought me right after I had my son.
Thanks Beck!

4 bone-in chicken breast with skin

3 Tb Olive oil

1 Tsp Salt

1 Tsp Pepper

1 cup baby carrots

1 Medium red onion, sliced

1 large potato, cubed

1/2 lemon, sliced

1 Tb chopped thyme

1 sprig rosemary, cut into 3 parts

Preheat oven to 450F

Heat 2 Tb olive oil in a large oven-safe skillet on the stove, until almost smoking.

Add chicken and let sit without moving for 2 minutes over medium-high heat.

Flip chicken and let sit an additional 2 minutes.

When both sides are nicely browned, remove chicken and set aside.

Add remaining Tb of olive oil to pan.

Add onion, carrots, lemon, and potatoes.

Season with salt and pepper.

Let cook until slightly carmelized.

Add thyme and rosemary sprigs.

Nestle chicken within the vegetables and put pan into oven.

Cook for 30-35 minutes until internal temperature reaches 165F.

Featured post

Sweet Potato and Carrot Soup

Sweet Potato and Carrot Soup


I started this blog 7 years ago when I had my daughter.

We were living downtown Chicago.  My husband worked a lot.  I had no friends with kids who lived in the city too.

I was lonely.  I was a little depressed.  I was a little lost.

Having left culinary school to stay home and raise this little baby had left me with my head spinning.

I decided to channel it all by writing and cooking.

If you look back at some my earliest posts, they so often talk about my daughter Quinn.

I can look back to stories and musings of her early childhood.

Then I got lazy and spotty with my blogging.  First I took off a few weeks.

Then a few months.

Then a few years.

During that time I had a son who has grown to be quite a kid.


Declan is three now and I realized I barely ever talk about the kid when blogging.

Declan who was the sweetest most cuddly baby boy.

Declan who grew into a boy who has a hilarious sense of humor.

Declan who LOVES baseball, basketball, soccer, and hockey.  And High School Musical; One and Two.

Declan who cries until he shakes when he knows he has done something really wrong.

Declan who is not afraid to say, “I’m sowry, Mommy.”

Declan who loves to go work out with his dad.

Declan who still has chubby toes and thighs which I love to pinch.

Declan who has a best friend who is a girl and does whatever she tells him to.

This boy has added so much more joy to our home, just when we didn’t think we needed any more.

This family of mine makes me feel so lucky to be on this earth.

Yes, life is far from perfect in this home of ours, but it is our lack of perfection is what keeps us laughing, crying, growing, learning, and what keeps our love strong.

I am feeling a full heart this morning and needed to put that all in writing.  I hope you don’t mind.

With that, I have no segue into my recipe.

Sweet Potato and Carrot Soup

Serves 2

1 Tb butter

1 small sweet onion, finely chopped

1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed

3 carrots, peeled and chopped

2 1/2 cups vegetable broth (chicken broth can also be used)

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp ginger

1 tsp cumin

In a medium pot, melt butter and add onion.

Cook onion until translucent

Add sweet potato, carrot, salt, cumin and ginger.  Stir until spices are evenly distributed.

Add broth.

Bring to a boil then simmer until potatoes and carrots are tender.  About 15 minutes.

Using and immersion blender or regular blender, blend mixture until smooth.

Serve hot with dollop of plain yogurt on top.


Featured post

Slow Cooker Vegetable Curry


People ask me if my kids eat gourmet food on a regular basis.

I wish I could respond with a strong, “Yes! They have amazing and refined palates.”

The truth is, they love just a few things;

Chicken Nuggets
Baby Carrots
Kraft Mac and Cheese

That about sums up what they truly enjoy.

  I know, I know, I have control over what they eat. They only love these things because I exposed them to it.

It is a beast I am trying to tame.

I am getting better about just putting food that I made in front

of them and saying, “Here is your dinner. Enjoy.”

This has resulted in some gagging.  Also some tears.  Maybe some throwing.

But we are working on it. We are always working on it.

If you can understand where I am coming from, you know that it

takes energy. Lots and lots of energy to break the bad habits.

Here is a recipe that is healthy, delicious and easy, so you can

save your energy for these battles.

Slow Cooker Vegetable Curry

2 cans coconut milk

3 Tbl Red Curry Paste

1 Tb Thai Fish Sauce

1 tsp salt

1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed

1 red pepper, sliced thin

1 medium red onion, sliced thin

2 cups broccoli florets

    In a medium bowl, mix coconut milk, fish sauce, salt and curry paste until curry is evenly distributed.
Place vegetables in slow cooker.
Pour curry and coconut milk over vegetables.
Cook 3 hours on high until sweet potatoes are very tender.
Serve over cooked rice.

Featured post

Green Smoothie


Green Smoothie

I know it’s time to start controlling my weight again when I see that look.

That look from someone who’s eyes go straight to my belly.  Then what that person is thinking is written all over their face, “I wonder if she is pregnant.”

This may have happened to some of you.  It may have even been said aloud to you.  It was once for me.

I was in line for the bathroom wearing what I thought was an adorable baby doll dress.  The line was long.  The girl at the front of the line looked back at me and said, “Let’s let this this gal go.  She clearly needs to use the bathroom more than us.” Then she winked.

It took me a second to realize what was happening.  See, we were at a restaurant.  After the Kentucky Derby.

And I was a little drunk.

And not pregnant.

Not. At. All.

I looked down at my billowing baby doll dress.

I put my arms around my beer belly and smiled.  I winked at the woman and went into the stall.

Yes, I was mortified.  But I got to go cut in front of 4 people who thought they were doing a good deed.  It was kind of a win-win.

First step in my weight control is to add more vegetables to my every day eating.

First stop: Breakfast.

Don’t be alarmed at the color of this smoothie.  It is super delicious and a wonderfully easy way to get your first servings of veggies for the day.  You will taste the flavors peanut butter and banana.  Something even kids can get on board with!

Green Smoothie

1 1/2 c loosely packed baby spinach

1 frozen banana

4-5 cubes frozen mango  (Just a warning, if you replace this fruit with any type of dark berry your smoothie will be a funky brown, purplish color.)

1 scoop Green Superfood  (You can leave this out, but I like it because it is packed with whole food antioxidants. I bought mine on Amazon.com)

1/2 avacado

1 Tb PB2  (This is a fantastic natural powdered peanut butter.  A lower fat version of creamy peanut butter.)

1/2 c apple juice

Place all of these things in the blender and blend until very smooth.  Your smoothie will be frothy and wonderful.

You can buy the Superfood and PB2 directly from amazon by clicking the pictures below:

All thoughts and opinions expressed are completely my own.

Featured post

5 Soup Recipes to Warm Your Bones for Winter

It is getting c-c-c-cold in these parts.

The kind of cold that can chill you to the bone.

The kind of cold that only a hot tub, and hot cup of hot chocolate with a shot of Bailey’s will take away the chill.

Or maybe a cup of soup.

Warm, comforting, delicious soup.

Yes, my friends.  It is soup season once again.

As they say so often in Game of Thrones, “Winter is coming.”

I am going to give you a round-up of my soup recipes from over the years.  I hope it inspires you to take out the chill.

Or if you are super nice, you can make it for someone you love.

Only if you are super nice, though.

Slow Cooker Italian Sausage and Vegetable Soup

Warm broth, meaty, and super easy because it’s made in your crock pot.

Slow cooker soup

Creamy Mushroom Soup

Earthy and wild.  Full of flavor.  If you are a mushroom fan, this soup is right up your alley.

Creamy Mushroom Soup

Root Vegetable Soup

Naturally creamy.  Served up with some crusty bread, it’s perfect for a wintry Meatless Monday. 

Root Vegetable Soup

French Onion Soup

Cheesy, oohy, gooey, goodness. Comfort food at it’s best.

french onion soup

Fresh Pumpkin Soup

You can do it.  You can use a whole pumpkin.  Don’t be scared.  It’s so worth it.

(You can always use canned pumpkin though.)

Pumpkin Soup

There you have it, friends!  Go warm up your bones.  Soup’s on!!

Let’s cook!

Featured post

Top 10 Kitchen Gadgets for Cooking on Thanksgiving

Choosing from all the holidays of the winter season, I would have to say Thanksgiving is one my absolute favorites.

There is no stress of gifts or decoration. Only great food, family, laughter, libations, games, and a little gobble, gobble…whatever that means.

When we celebrate Thanksgiving with my mother-in-law, she lets me cook the entire meal, from planning to carving.  This may sound horrible to some of you, but I find it to be such a gift.  It is a joy for me to be creative, busy, and see the result on people s faces as they take their first bites of the meal.

I compiled my top 10 kitchen essentials that I can’t live without when cooking up a storm for Thanksgiving.  They are help me in creating a successful and delicious holiday meal.  To find out more details about these items, feel free to click on the picture.


Potato Ricer

I spent years without one of these.  I don’t know why, I just did.  Now, I have the smoothest, most fluffy mashed potatoes.


Classic Roasting Pan

A roasting pan is great to hold a turkey and it’s juices.  The handles make it super easy to transfer in and out of the oven…because I am pretty sure the 5- second rule doesn’t work on Thanksgiving.  Just sayin’.


Digital Meat Thermometer

Ya know, because you want to cook your turkey all the way through.  You don’t want to send your guests home giving thanks for Tums and toilet paper.


Cast Iron Apple Peeler

This gadget has changed my life.  When I attempt to make an apple pie, I can get through the apple peeling and slicing part in a few short minutes.  It is so amazing that I call the family in when I use it and we all take turns.  Seriously.  Another bonus is that it can also peel a smaller or halved potato.  If you hate peeling like me, this may just close the deal for you.


Gravy Fat Separator

I remember watching my mom try to take the fat out of her turkey drippings by using a spoon.  She would tip the pan and take tiny spoonfuls of fat and dump them.  It was a long and tedious process.  With this little ditty you just pour all the drippings over the top.  It filters all the random pieces of debris, then lets the good clear juices settle to the bottom so they easily pour out of the spout.  Genius!


Diamond Hone Knife Sharpener

Sometimes when I go to the homes of friends, I’ll randomly sharpen their knives, because I know they probably aren’t.  People, if there is one lesson you take away from this post, let it be this: KEEP YOUR KNIVES SHARPENED!  It truly can change the way you cook.   This sharpener is the best $13 I have ever spent.  Short of taking my knives to get professionally sharpened, this gadget has done me good! (Just make sure you read the directions!)  You won’t even need that scary electric sharpener for carving your turkey.  You chef’s knife will just glide through the goodness.


Butchers Twine

To tie up your turkey legs.  Let’s face it, there are some of you in the crowd that have tried to use dental floss, then realized after taking your first bite that you accidentally grabbed the mint flavored kind.  My friends, that’s why they make butcher’s twine.  Wrap it around those turkey legs like you just lassoed your first steer.  And it won’t leave any residual flavor.


Pastry Scraper

I used my first scraper in culinary school. I couldn’t get over how cool it was! I still use this thing when I attempt to bake anything that needs to be rolled or kneaded. It is amazing at scraping up every last piece of dough from the countertop. I even use it to lift pie crusts and bread dough so they don’t stick.


This one if for my mom. She swears by the ergonomics of the swiss peeler, (meaning the blade is on the top, not the side.)  She gushes about how it doesn’t make her hand cramp up after peeling 5 lbs of potatoes. So, if you are going to do your peeling by hand, the swiss peeler has Mom’s stamp of approval all over.

And Finally…

Because things can get a little “saucy” at the holidays.  And everyone knows a pumpkin pie hat will match your clothing better than a lampshade.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!  Happy Cooking!

This post contains affiliate links.  All opinions are totally and completely my own.

Featured post

Roasted Parmesan Cauliflower

Roasted Parmesan Cauliflower

Roasted Parmesan Cauliflower

Have you ever gone to a nail salon and looked at the bottom of those luscious colored nail polish bottles?  Most likely you saw something that surprised you.  An absolute crazy name for a color.  Two major nail companies do a really good job of giving original names for the plethora of colors they offer.

Who’s job is it to name those colors?  I think it might be the most awesome job ever.  Really.  Ever.

I recently was driving around a van full of my female in-laws. (This may sound horrible and scary to most of you, but this was a group of amazing and hilarious women. )  Together we came up with some new names for nail colors that we feel could be best sellers:

Walk of Shame-peeling blue

Baby Tears-clear

Infant Spit-Up-textured white

Sorry,  I have a Headache.  Again.-red

Broken Dreams-cracked gold

Miles High Piles of Laundry-rainbow

Hot Dogs in Your Mac and Cheese-yellow with brown sparkles

Overserved-an empty bottle

Don’t Make Me Come Back There-black

MommyJuice-cabernet red

If you worked for the big polish companies, what would you name your colors?

Think about it while you make some of this delicious Roasted Parmesan Cauliflower.

Let’s cook!

Roasted Parmesan Cauliflower

serves 2

1 Large Head Cauliflower

1 Tbl Olive Oil

1/4 c Grated Parmesan Cheese

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 400F.

Cut florets off of cauliflower.

In a large bowl, toss all ingredients until everything is evenly distributed.

Spread evenly on a cookie sheet.

Cook for 25-30 mins until nicely browned.

Serve hot.


Featured post

Horseradish Egg Salad

Horseradish Egg Salad

You know what stinks?  When The Great Husband is traveling for work and I go downstairs to get in the car with the kids and discover that one of the little rascals have played with the overhead car lights again.  

And the car is dead.

The car being a massive mini-van.

And and that said massive mini-van is parked on diagonal in a small 1960’s garage.  Just because it seemed like a good idea at the time.  Don’t ask me why.

And because I am parked on a diagonal there is no way another car can get next to it.

Not even a Smart Car.

So I call a friend over to help me push the car into a good place to jump the battery.  My tiny friend  and I need to get the massive mini-van into vertical position because my garage is at the bottom of a steep hill.

There was no way in hell we can push up this hill.

So using the 3-point turn system, (or 20-point in our case,) we push the van.

And we push it.

And pushed it. (My friend is tiny, but she is strong.)






And we positioned it right smack dab in the middle of the garage.

Then the shift locks up in the park position.  So it is impossible for us to push anymore.

And as we are standing there panting, my tiny, yet strong friend says,

“Hey!  I have AAA.  Why don’t we call them?”

Then my tiny friend becomes my smartest and most beloved friend at that very moment.

Minor disasters seem to happen mostly when the Great Husband is away.

Twice there has been a snowstorm.  The only snowstorms of the winter.

This left me to shovel the driveway .

By myself.

Up hill.

Both ways.

Once we had a mouse.

I HATE MICE.  With a passion.

I considered camping out on the kitchen island with my kids until The Great Husband got home.

Both kids had a puke-fest.

All night long.

And into the day.

I praise all single parents.  All military parents. All parents doing it on their own.  You play the role of two parents every day.  That deserves more credit than I can give you.  You are strong.  You are amazing.  And someday if and when your children become parents, they will thank you.  They will respect you more.

And will probably come crying to you for help like I still do to my mom.

My mom loves egg salad.  And so do I.

Here is my flavor-punched egg salad recipe.

Let’s Cook!

Horseradish Egg Salad

6 Hard Boiled Eggs

2 Tb Dijon Mustard

2 Tb Mayonnaise

1 Tb Prepared Horseradish

1/4 tsp salt

In a medium bowl, mash up eggs into small pieces.  (I sometimes remove a couple of yolks before this to save on cholesterol.)

Add remaining ingredients to bowl.

Stir until all ingredients are evenly distributed.

Serve on toasted bread or a rice cake.

Featured post

Grilled Romaine Salad

Grilled Romaine Salad
It is October already! Summer is gone and Fall is in full swing.
I am not ready to say goodbye quite yet.
One last-ditch summer meal to say, “It’s been fun.” 
or “Thanks for the 10 lbs.”
or “I am sporting those extra sun spots like a rock star.”
“Goodbye, my friend.  It’s been real.”
If you haven’t tried a grilled salad, it is time.  Smokey, sweet, and utterly delicious. Plus it is beautiful, which will impress those you cook for.
Let’s cook!
Grilled Romaine Salad
  • 2 Heads Romaine Lettuce, sliced length-wise
  • 1/2 c Cherry Tomatoes
  • 1/4 Crumbled Blue Cheese
  • 5 Green Onions, Chopped
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 2 Tb Olive Oil

  • Preheat Grill or Grill Pan.
  • Spray Romaine heads with cooking spray on both sides or brush with olive oil.
  • When Grill is nice and hot, place lettuce on grates, flat side down.
  • Grill for about 3 minutes, then flip and grill for an extra 2 minutes.
  • Remove from grill and top with remaining ingredients.
  • Squeeze on lemon juice and drizzle with Olive Oil.

Featured post

Grilled Fennel

I used to be deathly afraid of the grill.
When I was home one summer in college, I saw someone start my mom’s grill with the lid closed.
A fireball blew the lid open.
Years ago I tried to help The Great Husband by pouring an oily marinade directly on a cooking piece of meat.
A fire came up like it was straight from hell and burned off all the hair from my hands and singed my eyebrows.
Pre-Grilling                            Post-Grilling

Eventually I bucked up and took on the grill.

It was my challenge, and I was going to overcome my fears.
These days, I rule the grill.  It no longer rules me.
So I raise (whats left of) my eyebrows and look those of you who fear the grill.
Can you do it?
I think you can.  I KNOW you can.
Take over the grill.
Arm yourself with a large spatula and set of tongs.
And whatever you do, don’t pour oil directly on the fire.
Let’s Cook!
Grilled Fennel
Serves 4

Grilled Fennell

  • 2 Large Fennel Bulbs
  • 1 Tb Olive Oil
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher Salt

What you Do

  • Preheat grill for 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, cut stalks off of fennel and discard.
  • Rinse and pat dry.
  • With a peeler, peel off any brown spots.
  • Slice bottom core off of fennel to create a flat surface.
  • Now make slices of fennel, cutting from top to bottom, making 1/2″ slices.
  • Place slices in a bowl and toss with Olive Oil and Kosher Salt.
  • When grill is nice and hot, clean grates with a grill brush.
  • Turn down heat to medium.
  • Place fennel slices on grill over direct medium heat and close lid.
  • Let them sit for 5-7 minutes, to get nice grill marks.
  • Flip slices over. Cook an additional 5 minutes.
  • Serve it up.