Why You Need a Vacation and How to get the Most from it! Part 2

In the last post, I covered two common reasons why people often don’t take vacations. Now, I’m going to cover what you can do to make the most of your Vacation once you’ve decided to take it. I’m going to use my trip to Australia that I took in December as an example, but I’ve also found an IMMENSE amount of rest in Provincetown which is a two hour drive from where I live, so just because you’re on vacation, doesn’t mean you need to go to the other side of the world to do it. As my therapist has said when I returned from Australia, “Australia experienced you….You didn’t experience Australia”. What that means, is that the happiness, healing and rest came from somewhere within myself, so the location doesn’t really matter much if you have the correct mindset.

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Why You NEED a Vacation and How to get the Most from it! Part 1

School is out for summer!!!! Or at least it’s about to be as summer vacation is on our doorstep here in Massachusetts. That means a lot of kids, and usually, a lot of upturned schedules and vacations abound!

I don’t have kids (yet), but I was raised in a home where my mother cared for everyone (including my father who didn’t really feel the need to support his family, when he had a wife who was so much better at it anyway). The truth is, my mother had to work two jobs at times to keep our home. She homeschooled me until my high school years, she cooked (I rarely remember going out to eat), and cleaned, and shopped for groceries. She was a powerhouse. Truth is, she really really needed a vacation. She was very selfless, and gave so much, but didn’t really have anyone giving back to her. My sisters and I where young and unfortunately kids don’t have the situational awareness that we have as adults. If I knew then what I know now I’d be begging her to take some time off.

That time has passed however, so I’m writing this article for the parents who are giving all they have. You know who you are. You’re running on all cylinders, the last weekend you had to yourself was somewhere before you had kids, and YOU…ARE…EXHAUSTED…and yet, I have noticed you are the last people to go on a vacation! This article is for you guys. You unsung heroes of life. You need time for yourself and I want to if not give you the excuses, then at least the dreams on how you may take a vacation and how to really take it in once you get out there.

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Are Marimo’s the Next Big Thing?

Growing up, I spent $30 of my Christmas money, on a Bonsai. I loved it. It was so cute and it gave my “Asian Themed” bedroom (because I was really into martial arts at the time) the perfect touch. However, in Florida, we have these horrible little creatures called sugar ants that seem to find their way into homes every summer to escape the heat. They don’t sting like fire ants, but they are really annoying and seem to get into everything…which is exactly what they did to my poor Bonsai. Overnight it became infested with these little ants. I was young and didn’t know how else to handle an infestation of this manner except to spray my Bonsai quite heavily with an ant killer and it worked! er…kind of. While the ants did die, my Bonsai died too and that was my first introduction to having an indoor house plant.

Social media (like my Instagram) usually shows beautifully styled homes with lush green houseplants everywhere, but more often than not, I hear people complaining about them online. They die, they turn weird colors, remembering to water them seems to be a constant ongoing war and I’m left with the impression that perhaps a houseplant is something you give to someone like a frenemy. The idea seems nice at first, “Oh look at this cute little plant I got you!” but then GAWD FORBID they kill it, and then they’re “the ones who killed the pretty plant you gave them” and even if you don’t say anything, that plant will be hanging like an albatross from around their neck. Trust me, if I give you a houseplant, chances are I’m openly telling you that I don’t like you and I want to give you a really inconvenient gift that now you are responsible for keeping alive.

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The Most Compelling Women’s Empowerment Book I’ve Ever Read

With Mother’s Day being a focus I decided to add one more post about a book I just finished that has really spoken to my soul as a woman.

I wasn’t taught how to embrace being a woman. I was raised to be quiet. I was raised to care for everyone else but me. I was raised that when people treated me badly, I should “just ignore it”, “get over it” and just accept it. I was taught that having any emotion other than happy and obedient was wrong, and I wanted to be a good girl…so I took that hook line and sinker.

Now at the age of 34, I realized that part of me really wanted to embrace being a woman, but not in the way that I was taught. I didn’t really know what that looked liked or where to even start remaking myself not just as a woman, but as a strong woman. I can’t tell you how frustrating it was to go on Google and not really find much on how to go about finding what it means to be a woman. It was like women knew something I didn’t and it was that “something” I wanted to learn about…but that something turned out to be that I hadn’t been programmed to embrace myself, and it was going to take a lot more than self-love and self-care bubble baths to do that!

While browsing the bookstore before a session with my therapist, I was drawn to this book called “Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D.” (which you can buy with a click on the affiliate link below). Not to sound dramatic, but it was a bit like pulling a sword from a certain enchanted stone. I knew in my heart that I had to get this and read it, and so I did and I was surprised at the deep levels this book spoke to me.

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Persian Love Cake with a Video!

For Amin’s 30th birthday, I wanted to do something really special. Amin is half Iranian and over there they love the flavors of lamb, rose water, cardamom, pistachios, and saffron. So I made him an amazing rack of lamb (which I hope to write about in the future), and then I came across this recipe from Kokocooks. The first time I made this I went all out and even candied rose petals which you can do, but it takes six hours and it’s really just a garnish so I omitted it.

I chose it not just for my husband’s heritage but also because of the story behind it. As I looked at different recipes I found a website that said the origin came from a story of a woman who fell in love with a handsome prince, and she made this cake in order to win his heart hence why it’s a love cake. I told my husband the story when I gave this to him as well and it definitely won his heart over.

You have the rosewater and saffron frosting which is amazing balanced by the cardamom cake. The only word of warning I give here is please be careful with the rosewater…even if you think it smells good, only add the recommended amount because it can not only overwhelm the other flavors, but it can become the only thing you smell and taste for a while. This is where I would like to say that if you watch any food competition on TV if rosewater is involved it usually means someone is getting voted off for using too much. Okay. I’m done with that rant now for the recipe!

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What to do on a Motherless Mother’s Day

I remember when it happened. It was my first year up here in Massachusetts and I was walking through the Macy’s at Burlington Mall when this very sweet middle age lady in the perfume section asked me if I had remembered to get something nice for my mother for Mother’s Day.

It wasn’t her fault. She couldn’t have known that just a year and a handful of months ago I had been at my mother’s funeral.

I smiled though and told her that I already got my mother something really nice and thanked her. I lied….because I didn’t know what else to say…this was mother’s day, without my mother.

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Seven Layer Dip in Cups for Cinco De Mayo!!!

Cinco De Mayo is just around the corner!!!! I grew up in Tampa Florida which has a really strong Latino demographic. I had fantastic Cuban neighbors who taught me how to salsa dance, and would roast an actual pig on a spit! The longer the night went and the more drunk people got they’d dress up the head which they kept on a pike. My parents begrudgingly stayed since they weren’t really the partying types, but I LOVED IT! I was able to step into a world where the family ties were strong, and people knew how to really have a lot of fun. I still listen to Reggaeton Music when I’m feeling nostalgic. So while I don’t have any Latino heritage, I like to remember the role that those people played in some of the best memories of my childhood!

So for me, I like to celebrate Cinco De Mayo as a way to have fun like I did at that party.

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Ham and Split Pea Slow Cooker Soup Recipe

Growing up I LOVED Easter! It was so much fun! I remember all the cool candy I’d get in my Easter basket, but one thing I absolutely adored was the food. My mother would make egg sandwiches with the hardboiled eggs my sisters and I dyed and we would have an Easter ham. Now personally, I’m not a fan of having the same protein every day for a week, I remembered discovering how much I didn’t really like Turkey past Thanksgiving (and even then I was never really into poultry). My mother was a leftover mastermind though. She was one of those people who could pull random things out of the fridge and somehow reinvent it and it would 9 out of 10 be amazing. One thing I looked forward to was her split pea soup! Unfortunately, I don’t have the recipe for what she made, BUT I found this recipe which tastes exactly the same AND it’s a crock pot recipes which means you can set it and forget it while you go about your day!

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My Top 5 Favorite Motivational YouTube Videos

Blogging can be tough. I’ll admit, when I started this, I was hyped up on all six seasons of Sex in the City and the movie Julie and Julia. I had these cute little images in my mind of sitting down at my computer and writing about whatever popped into my head over a coffee, or a glass of wine, and that I’d magically have people reading my blog, sending me stuff, and then before I knew it, I’d have a book deal and a movie out on how I made it all happen!…. I had no idea, how much effort it takes to actually do a blog well or exactly how many hats I’d be wearing.

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How to Make Ukrainian Easter Eggs

One of my favorite childhood memories was coloring Easter eggs with my sister in the backyard under our maple tree which was much smaller back then. I remember my mother setting up little-colored plastic cups, and filling them with water and vinegar and then we’d watch as the little fizzy color tabs would dye the water. I’d scribble flowers, hearts, and lines on my little egg and then pop it into one of the six colors. Eventually, though, all the eggs seemed to end up the same kind of greenish khaki color from being dipped in too many additional colors. We would then put stickers on them of bunnies, chicks, and flowers and present them proudly to our mother who would say how pretty they are. She would politely ignore multicolor dyed hands of her children in favor of our smiles, and she would dutifully clean up the mess of spilled dye and leftover sticker remnants on the little table outside. As an adult, the smell of vinegar still reminds me of those days.

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