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Archives for June 2010

“Diet” is a four letter word

photo courtesy of Weight Watchers

Over the last few months I have been making “healthy choices” choosing to eat just about everything but in moderation. Obviously not chowing down on chips and cookies but rather eating those things that we ate at the beginning of time to “sustain life.” You know fruits, veggies, and grains, and leaving out processed foods.

I have stopped many times to think about the several hundred times that I went on a “diet.” And pondered as to why they never worked… Why did I never “keep” it “up” so to speak? The answer is simple because I never “learned” to eat properly!

Let’s see if there has been a diet I have been on it… I have:

• Counted points
• Drank only liquid shakes for 3 months now that was real healthy! NOT!
• Ate prepacked foods… which I don’t care what anyone celebrity or not says is “awful” food period!
• Did the “big gulp” diet coke diet-that’s where all you drink is diet coke all day and eat a salad for dinner (how stupid is that?)
• Ate high protein and used lots of cream in my coffee-can you say “cholesterol?”
• Drank the popular store bought shake diet, which should be dubbed the migraine and diarrhea diet…
• And went back to the counting points people a few more times… where they actually teach you that “hunger” is a bad thing!

I never realized how important it was to respect your bodies craving for food and understood the meaning behind being “hungry.” It wasn’t until Rebecca came into my life in March and she kept trying to drill the “Are you hungry?” into my head…

How many of you actually eat when you are hungry? And not with the clock, because it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner time but when you are hungry. This really is hard. I know I have been trying to track it. But I have found those days after I have a tough Zumba class or extra hard work out, I feel a bit of “hunger” in the day. It’s like an “ah ha” moment. And now I really respect those times. First I jump for joy and then I go and eat a snack something with protein and carbs usually an apple and almond butter, or cottage cheese and fruit, even jelly.

I have spent the last few months trying to really do things for myself and trying to “unload” excess baggage so to speak so that I can concentrate on keeping myself well which was always a small problem of mine; I’ve said it before, I’m an emotional eater. So I have been trying to distress other ways then through my mouth… The stress in my life has not gone away, I will always be a special needs mom and with that comes A LOT of stress and worrying. But I have learned to take the “eating” out of worrying, the chips, or whatever is not going to change my daughters’ disability it will only keep me unhealthy and possibly shorten my life, so no more to that!

I know how easy it is to get “sucked” into the billion dollar diet industry! Trust me I have been there so many times over the last 20+ years I shudder to think about how much money I have wasted. But it is a very hard concept to learn “hunger.” Especially if you have “done” all of the diets that I have. But this is my small plea for all of you out there, Stop! Stop looking for the “easy fix” because it isn’t an easy fix it is just temporary. Believe me this I am pretty sure I can say I’m an “expert” on because of my history. It is very rare to meet someone who has done one of these “diets” and kept their weight at a healthy weight without changing their eating habits.

Who is with me? How many “diets” have you been on?

Dove, Real Women Real Beauty

photo credit: Dove

Most of my readers know I’m not a big PR blogger, I don’t have anything against it, and as a matter of fact I enjoy reading other people’s reviews and take part in a giveaway from time to time. But my site is about my journey as a special needs mom on a wellness makeover. Therefore I only review a product if I feel it is relevant to my site and what my site is about so if I do a review it is with full honesty and integrity about the product.

As I stated above I have been on a “wellness makeover” since March and with that exercise has come to play an important part in my life. I train 2 days a week and go to Zumba class two or possibly if I can squeeze it in three times a week. Naturally when I come home I am stinky and sweaty and am usually running to the shower just to “relax” and take a “moment!” I’m sure you all have “moments” that you need to “get away.” I don’t know if any of you are old enough to remember the old “Calgon take me away” commercials of a mom just wanting to run to her tub! But that is what my shower time is like… So I was happy to try out Dove’s newest body wash with NutriumMoisture. As many times as I hop in the shower I was a bit concerned about soap and drying out my skin, god knows I don’t need it to be stressed and make me look older. LOL Dove’s body wash smells great and goes on smooth and evenly and washes off well and leaves my skin feeling great!

I also like supporting companies that truly put their money where their mouth is and give back to the community! I love what Dove has done for women and promoting “Real Beauty.” I believe beauty comes in all shapes and sizes and is not a size zero or an over done face. Real beauty comes from within and shines through. Audrey Hepburn had a wonderful quote which I just love:

“I believe in pink. I believe laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing; kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day, and I believe in miracles.”

Dove has spent millions of dollars on PSA’s about real women and girls and beauty. My favorite is titled “Evolution.” I think it’s a wonderful tool to share with your friends and daughters.

I welcome you to try out Dove’s NutriumMoisture not only for your skin but also to support a company who believes in “your” true beauty!

*Dove’s representatives did send me a free sample bottle of the NutriumMoisture Body Wash to facilitate my review.

Have kids? You MUST know about cybersafety!

Teen angel panel

On May 27 Sarah and I attended the Wired Kids Summit in Washington DC. This was not the first meeting on Cybersafety that I attended, and with Sarah’s “run-in” with cyber bullying I knew she too would want to see what this was all about. The meeting was primarily a summit of Parry Aftab’s Teen angels to gather and talk to cyber companies and share their experiences i.e. facebook, Google, MySpace, Xbox, MTV, Disney, Nickelodeon etc.

Teen angels are a group of thirteen to eighteen year old volunteers that have been specially trained in all aspects of online safety, privacy and security. After completion of the required training, the Teen angels run unique programs in schools to spread the word about responsible and safe surfing to other teens and younger kids, parents, and teachers.

Parry and Teen Angel demonstrating the “Stop, Block and Tell”

Teen angels was founded in 1999 by leading cyberlawyer Parry Aftab, Executive Director of – the world’s largest online safety and help organization and 501(c)(3) corporation. Parry personally trains most of the Teen angels!

Parry Aftab is an Internet privacy and security lawyer. She also writes books and articles and was one of the first experts to focus on Internet safety and kids online. The Teen angels were born as a result of a TV special Parry did in April 1999with ABC News, in New Jersey. The special was about teen girl safety and Parry was asked to be the Internet safety guru for the special. Part of the special involved Parry speaking to teenage girls at a school in New Jersey. When the computer connection predictably broke down, the girls just lined up at microphones and fired off questions and that was the birth of wiredsafety.*

At the summit there were several panel discussions with the teens, the companies, and with the audience. I had invited several mom bloggers to attend and other moms who are active in their schools so that they could learn from this and hopefully take back some ideas for starting a curriculum on the importance of internet safety and cyberbullying.

Parry and Cyber Company Panel

At my last meeting I was blown away by the corporations that were showing support for this important venue. Two companies stood out big time to me and they were Build a Bear which is a store for younger children and teens who has devoted an entire section of their website to cybersafety and MTV who began a thin line campaign aimed at stopping the spread of abuse in the form of sexting, cyberbullying and digital dating abuse.

psa courtesy of “A Thin Line”

I’m still not sure what facebook is doing to promote internet safety as well as gaming companies such as XBox. Facebook does have a place to report bullying but after my daughters experience I’m still a bit skeptical. A friend of mine who has 3 boys who came with me raised the question as to why should there be “chat” buttons on games such as scrabble where total strangers can hop on and start chatting with your child or you. She told me she finds this entirely too creepy and I have to agree.

But the bottom line is parents need to be aware of what your kids are doing, which in this day and age where 50% of the population is of divorced families and have two working parents is very hard to enforce. We really need to get back to basics of really speaking to our kids and keeping the lines of communications open so that “if” they encounter any type of “bullying” or “weirdness” on the computer they can follow along what they Teen/Twee angels preach which is “stop, block, and tell a parent.”

Keeping our kids safe has gone from our backyards into cyberspace and we really need to be wise.

Some tips from Parry*:
Keeping your kids safe on social media
Protect your privacy on facebook
What you need to know about youtube

*Information of teen angels and Perry Aftab from website and

Southern barbecue for a Northern gal


shelley and the foodSarah thought it be fitting to have a “southern style” barbecue for her graduation party since she graduated from the University of Alabama (roll tide!). She specifically said “mom, no healthy food here!” Ha, what do you mean, you’d think I was killing my family with my “wellness makeover” and having them eat fruits and veggies all day long, but I know what she was saying, there will be butter, and yes the f-word… “Fat” in the food. And come on that’s life, learning to eat and balance all of your meals… So as I usually do I made a list and she made a list of her favorites and this is how the menu went:

Spinach dip
Hot and Spicy Nuts

Main Course:
Barbecue chicken “Nelly style”/Hot dogs/Mini Hamburgers and Turkey Burgers
Sweet and Spicy Slaw
Old fashion Potato Salad
Five Bean Salad
Fried Green Tomatoes with Basil Mayonnaise
Molasses-Baked Beans
Caribbean Cornbread
Green Salad with Gorgonzola and Green Apples
Tomato, Basil, Mozzarella

2 flavored cupcakes
Fresh Fruit salad
Chocolate Chip Cookies
White Chocolate Chip and Cranberry Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

photo credit: Pottery Barn

Peach Sangria
Raspberry ice tea
*plus the usual beer and sodas lol

And I will tell you I made ALL of the above from scratch! I know I’m a little bit like “Martha” when it comes to events! I go all out and nuts. My husband stays as far away from me in the kitchen as possible.

Yup, I made enough food to feed an army, but I had NO idea how many people were actually coming because it seems that no one rsvp’s to events anymore which I find a bit annoying, so just remember that the next time you are invited to a party, rsvp so the host having the party doesn’t have to “quess-timate” on how much food to prepare. (Ok, I’m hoping off of my soapbox lol). But I’m happy to report we only had enough leftovers for the next 2 meals… You know the thanksgiving feeling of, uhhh do I have to eat this again… But a great time was had by all and everyone loved the food!

Everyone knows I’m a “food network” kind of gal, I love the variety… Just wished they’d come knocking on my door already! LOL

I thought the Peach Sangria would make a good recipe to share with “ya’ll” today, it was so refreshing and everyone loved it! So make lots. I made 5 times the amount and put it in a huge glass canister, which got a little clogged with the fruit; I’ll have to think of another way to serve it next time or maybe take out some of the fruit and put it on the side…

Fresh Peach Sangria via Down Home with the Neelys

2 bottle of Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc chilled
½ c Brandy
1c pineapple juice
½ c sugar
4 peaches pitted and sliced
2 red plums, pitted and sliced
2 c of green grapes, halved
1 lemon sliced into rounds.

Combine the wine, brandy, pineapple juice, sugar, peaches, plums, grapes, and lemon in a large pitcher and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add ice cubes to fill and serve immediately or refrigerate up to 1 day in advance and add ice cubes before serving. Delicious!

What are your favorite barbecue recipes? Happy summer grilling!

A Sardine I am not!

Eww Eww Eww, what an awful morning I had on my Metro ride into DC today! I was so pleased with myself that I got out of the house by 7:45am and off to the Metro, dancing in my car to my morning tunes, got a great parking spot, put in my Metro ticket and got down to the very full platform and knew from that moment on the ride in was going to be an “experience.”

The Metro was stopped for half an hour because there was an ill patron on a train a few stops down, so ill that they had to evacuate the train and wait for medical attention. When the person was finally moved to a better location for them the Metro began to move again, slowly and mind you by this time there must have been over 1000 people waiting on the incoming trains.

As the first trained pulled into the station, it was packed! And it amazed me that people just tried to cram themselves into the already overstuffed cars. I guess the trains stopped to see if people were getting off rather than let new passengers on but nope not the way it went.

I finally got on the second fully packed train and was surrounded by people of all shapes, sizes, ethnicities, ages, it was unbelievable and everyone just wanted the same thing; to get to work!

Young couples held onto each other for dear life, I was actually happy I didn’t see any older folks because they would have been s-o-l with the pushing and shoving that was going on.

I noticed that a lot of young ladies were sporting the “little black dress” today and most men didn’t seem to care too much about how their clothes matched or rather don’t.

I was a bit upset with myself that I was wearing my open sandals because I think my feet got stepped on at least 50 times! Uhh And being the 5’4” that I am I couldn’t hold onto the upper hand rails so I reached for the upright bars and prayed no one would break my arm at the angle I was able to grasp onto. There was a point where I thought if my feet weren’t on the ground I would just be suspended by the crowd around me. And then there was the point that my face was smack in between 2 men’s arm pits, not very pleasant. Actually rather smelly!

the metro platform filled way beyond what would be classified as “safe”

And then the train broke down… The doors wouldn’t close… So we all had to exit the train… with the hundreds of people who were already waiting on the platform to get on the train… You can imagine how “happy” I was at this point. Not! And I had to wait for 2 trains to pass before I got my chance to hop back on or rather get pushed back on…

And then it happened… I felt it… Someone put their hand on my butt, I couldn’t believe it I just wanted to scream and get off.

Three stops later I was out. Freedom, air, space… and then my morning began…

Baked Penne with four cheeses


4 cheese pastaWho doesn’t love comfort food sometimes? I have yearned and missed homemade macaroni and cheese, which I will attempt to “lighten” up soon but in the mean time we loved Ellie’s four-cheese baked penne.

1 1/2 cup small curd low-fat cottage cheese
1 cup spark-skim ricotta cheese
1 1/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
3 T chopped fresh parsley
1 pound whole-wheat penne
2 tsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 15 ounce can no salt added tomato sauce
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 c shredded parmesan cheese


Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Combine the cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, 1/2 c of the mozzarella, and parsley and stir.

Cook the pasta in a large post of boiling water until it is tender and drain.

Heat the oil in the same pot over medium heat.

Add the onions and cook, for about 5 minutes.

Add the garlic and stir,

Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, oregano, rosemary, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, about 10 minutes.

Add the past to the pot and turn off the heat.

Stir in the cheese mixture.

Spray a 9 x 13″ glass baking dish with cooking spray

Transfer the pasta mixture to the dish and spread out.

Add the remaining 3/4 mozarella and parmesan to the top.

Bake until heated all of the way through and the cheese is melted about 45 minutes.

*Notes from my kitchen

I used to be a “Prego” fiend, i couldn’t have pasta without my sweet Prego, but move over Prego this recipe is so fresh and delicious and it can be made larger for for a crowd.

Does your family love Italiano? Give it a try and let me know how they love it!

Blueberry Brunch


blueberry almond bread puddingOur Anniversary was this past week and I though I would make a little something special for breakfast this weekend so I gathered up an idea from my friend Ellie and made a blueberry-almond french toast bread pudding.

OK, so maybe it isn’t quite as decadent as other bread pudding I have made in the past but it has a wonderful flavor to it and the top is crispy and crunchy! Another wonderfully flavorful recipe and everyone will wake up and run to the kitchen when they get a whiff!

1 whole-wheat baguette (about 18″ long, 8 ounces in weight) cut into 1-inch cubes
2 cups low fat milk
8 large eggs
8 large egg whites
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cups fresh blueberries
1/3 cup sliced almonds
2 T dark brown sugar

Spray a 9 x 13″ baking pan with cooking spray

Arrange the bread in a single layer

In a bowl, whisk together, milk, eggs, egg whites, maple syrup, vanilla and cinnamon.

Pour the egg mixture over the bread in the pan, make sure it is spread evenly and the bread is moist all over.

Toss the blueberries evenly on top.

Sprinkle with almonds and brown sugar.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Uncover and bake for 60 minutes, serve hot.

Notes from my kitchen:

My kids love fresh homemade whip cream so to make it a little more decadent and special whip up a batch and put a dollop on top of each piece!

Now tell me that your kids won’t gobble this up! It’s Divine! 5 stars!!