orange background

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

My secret love of school supplies

July is a favorite shopping time for me. I stock up on all my kids art supplies, and many of their gifts for the year. There are great deals out there right now, without too much work.

My kids have been looking forward to this sale too. We ran out of crayons a while ago, but I couldn't bring myself to buy any at full price since I knew they would be on sale soon! What the kids don't know is that I have a thing for school supplies. Something about blank notebooks, sharp new crayons, packs of pens... I get excited just thinking about them! In my house I have a "secret stash" (that technically isn't a secret since everyone knows about it) where I have stacks of office and art supplies, and I love it when the stash is full and ready for any writing or drawing emergency I may have.

Right now Walmart has Crayola crayons for 40 cents a pack. For that same price, you can also buy Elmers School Glue or a 2 pack of glue sticks. They have off-brand crayons for even less, but after once drying one of those in the dryer and ruining a bunch of clothes, I'm sticking to Crayola, because there are ways to get those stains out! For 20 cents, you can get a 70-sheet-of-paper notebook.

Staples has penny and quarter deals this week- erasers, pencils, packs of pens, pencil boxes. The only catch is that to get the penny deals, you need to spend $5. This is easy to do if you buy a pack of paper for $5.99- $5.75 of that will come back to you in a rebate with a few clicks online.

Another great sale in July is the Target toy sale. I LOVE this one! Target marks its toys down, as much as 75% off. I usually get at least half of my Christmas shopping done there, and also buy birthday gifts for the kids to take to birthday parties throughout the year.

Happy shopping!!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Artichoke Salami Paninis

This recipe comes from Emeril Lagasse of Food Network fame. I make my own focaccia  bread, with half wheat/ half white flour. It has a great flavor that comes from the combination of all the ingredients, but what really brings it all together is the vinaigrette. Search for nitrate-free salami. If you can't find that, pastrami or even pepperoni also work in this recipe.

I serve this with whatever vegetable I have on hand. In this picture are zucchinis from our garden, sliced, breaded and baked. 


  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 12 slices focaccia bread, sliced
  • 6 ounces thinly sliced provolone
  • 1 (6-ounce) jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and sliced
  • 2 ounces thinly sliced genoa salami


Whisk the olive oil, vinegar, oregano, garlic, and salt in a small bowl. Arrange the slices of bread on a flat work surface and, using a brush, divide the vinaigrette equally among 1 side of each slice. Divide the provolone equally among the bread slices. Top 6 of the slices of bread equally with the sliced artichoke hearts and sliced genoa salami and then place the remaining 6 slices on top. Brush the outsides of each sandwich with olive oil if desired.

Cook at medium heat (on a skillet or frying pan) until the bread is golden brown and the cheese is melted, pressing occasionally to compact with a large spatula, about 4 to 5 minutes per side.

This post is part of Real Food Wednesdays.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Classic Fettucine Alfredo

This recipe is a classic, and one everyone should have in their recipe collection.  It's simple, rich and delicious. It's fancy enough to serve with company, but also good for a weeknight dinner because it's kid-friendly and comes together quickly.

Don't be afraid of the fat, or the carbs, or the calories. As long as you leave out this toxic ingredient, you'll be fine!

Fettucine Alfredo
from Joy of Cooking

1 lb. fettucine noodles

8 Tbsp. butter
1 cup cream
1 cup parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a large skillet over low heat. Add cooked pasta and remaining ingredients. Toss the pasta until well coated. This is best served hot. If there are leftovers, heat on the stovetop rather than the microwave, because the sauce and noodles will separate, and heating over low will let the sauce absorb into the noodles.

I served this with fresh green beans. To cook, wash and break off any tough ends or stems. In a large skillet, melt about a Tablespoon of butter over medium low heat. Add green beans, and cook, stirring occasionally, until green beans are slightly browned and crisp-tender, about 15 minutes. Add a generous sprinkle of salt and serve.

This post is part of Real Food Wednesdays.

Monday, July 4, 2011


I've been RRARFing for the last couple of weeks. Don't be scared by the way it sounds-- RRARF is an acronym for Rehabilitative Rest and Agressive Re-Feeding. It's Matt Stone's creation, and you can get his free e-book to read all the details, but I'll outline the basics here.

RRARF is a program to heal and speed up the metabolism. Matt defines metabolism as "the ability to produce cellular energy at a high rate." When your metabolism is high, it keeps you healthy, resistant to disease, and hopefully keeps you lean.

However, the point of RRARF is not to lose weight. It's to get your metabolism revved up to where it's supposed to be. Matt says, and I think he's on to something here, that when we reduce our calories to lose weight, we are setting ourselves up for failure. The way to lose weight and keep it off is to have the body lower its setpoint, and the weight will slowly drop on its own.

This is so different from what we hear all the time that it's hard to believe. We are constantly bombarded with the mantra to "eat less, move more." But what if our bodies are smarter than we give them credit for? What if our bodies send signals to eat exactly what they need, and when we don't provide that nourishment (by dieting, for example), the body responds by slowing down the metabolism?

The idea behind RRARF is that for about a month, you overfeed the body. You can eat almost anything except sugar and polyunsaturated fats. That leaves you with all-you-can-eat of real, healthy foods. You can measure your progress by taking your temperature each morning. You also get a lot of rest. RRARF is really about learning and listening to your body cues.

Sad to say, before I started, my temperatures were in the mid 95s! That indicates that my metabolism was very slow. My cellular energy was quite low, and I could feel that-- I had less energy than I have ever had.  After RRARFing, my temperatures are in the mid 97s, and I can feel a big difference energy-wise. (note: armpit temperatures are generally up to one degree lower than oral temperatures.)

What I have loved about RRARF:

1. It's really helped me understand my hunger cues. I don't think I'm much of an emotional eater. But I did find that there are times when I'm hungry, but I don't feel that it's "okay" for me to eat (it's not a meal time, or we're about to have dinner or something), and those are the times when I'll reach for chocolate chips or something to tide me over. By taking sugar out of the picture, and being encouraged to eat whenever I was hungry, I understood what my real hunger signals feel like, and learned that I just need to eat when my body is telling me to!

2. Understanding body cues means listening to more than just hunger signals. The body knows when it needs to rest, when it needs to move, etc. The body knows what it needs and I need to listen!

3. Measurable results. We want to measure results in inches and pounds, but RRARF helps you measure another aspect of your health. Seeing my body temperature rise so much in such a short time shows me that I am really doing something good for my body. I also feel that I am setting myself up for future weight loss.

Friday, July 1, 2011

My biggest trial: 30 pounds

Here's the thing about me. I don't really like to be vulnerable. It scares me a little to write about something that I'm currently struggling with, but here goes: I don't much like my body these days.

With each pregnancy, and each birth of a child, I was able to let it go. I knew that my body had just done something amazing. I brought a child into the world. And if I had to gain 40ish pounds each time to do that, then okay. And I was fortunate to be able to lose that weight each time in about 9 months to a year.

Fast Forward to Baby #4. Emergency C-section, terrible and slow recovery. My body did NOT bounce back, but I was slowly making strides in the right direction. I lost all the weight but about 15 pounds in about a year. Then, I got an IUD put in. I noticed that my clothes were fitting tighter, but it wasn't until 4 months later that I actually got on a scale and realized I had put on almost 20 pounds in that short amount of time! I hadn't changed my eating or my exercise habits, except maybe to add in a little more exercise! I found a site online where women have had similar results. So frustrating! As soon as I realized what the problem was, you can be sure I got that thing removed!!

But, I still have to live with the aftermath. I am trying really hard to be patient. The hard thing is, I was already working really hard to be patient BEFORE I had this added obstacle. Now, with 30 pounds to lose, the struggle is as much mental as it is physical. I have lost this much weight before, right? It's just like having a baby all over again (without the middle of the night feedings). Only it doesn't feel the same at all. Instead of feeling amazed at what my body was able to accomplish, I am mad that my body betrayed me by gaining all this weight in the first place.

Sigh. That is beside the point, I guess. Like I tell my yoga students, be in the present moment. Don't let your thoughts focus too much on the past or on the future. Experience the now.

And the choice is this: I can enjoy my now and work really hard to not let it bother me too much, or I can let thoughts about my body consume me. I can take steps now to change what my body looks like in the future, or I can give up and throw in the towel.