More

I will never forget a particular conversation I had many years ago at a party.  I was living in South Carolina, and the party was on Sullivan’s Island, in a house right on the beach.  I remember thinking how amazing it was to be at a party in such a beautiful beach house, and how I would love to live in a place like it some day.  At the time, I was in my young 20’s, had an entry level job in accounting, and rented a townhouse with my boyfriend.  We had a great life for being so young, but I felt that the guy who owned this beach house had really made it in life.

At some point in the evening, I had a conversation with the owner of the house.  We talked about blah, blah, blah, and then he made a comment I would never forget.  He pointed to another beach house that we could see from his porch, and said THAT was the house he really wanted.  He said when he would get together with his neighbors, they would all talk about that house and how amazing it was.  From my outside point of view, the other house didn’t look any more amazing than his home.

I must have been pretty shocked at that moment by what he said to still remember it.  And this is why: if you already have a house on the beach, can’t you just be happy with that house?  Why would you covet a different beach house?

We are always looking to get more out of life.  But, when do we get to the point where we are content with what we have?

Right now, I live in a great house, but my husband and I talk about living in a house on a lake, or living in Spain, or how it would be nice to live in California.  We have nice cars, but my husband talks about driving something more sporty.  And wouldn’t it be nice if we had a boat?

I think in some ways, having more does make us happy.  It makes me feel good that I live in a nice neighborhood, and that I have more room in my van than I did in my car.  I’m sure if I lived in a house on the beach, I would be pretty ecstatic that I could walk out my door and go swimming in the ocean.  But, when I think about my general level of happiness, I think it has remained pretty much the same throughout my life.  I don’t remember being unhappy when I lived in an apartment, or when I drove my VW Jetta that had rust on it.  When you reach a certain level of stability with your finances so that you can have baseline comfort, I think the general happiness you feel remains pretty much the same.

What I learned from that conversation many years ago, is that no matter how much you have, you always want something more, or something different.  The grass is always greener.  It made me realize that when I start wanting more, I should look around at what I already have, and live in the present instead of thinking my life will be better if it were different.  I struggle with comparing what I have to others, but if I just ask myself if I really want or need what someone else has, I almost always realize I don’t.   There is always going to be someone with a bigger house, fancier car, or better luxury items.  I want to walk that perfect line of daydreaming about what I could have, but also being perfectly content with what I do have.

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Peanut Butter

Today I’m writing about the most amazing peanut butter available, Smucker’s Organic Natural Peanut Butter.  I’ve been buying this brand for years now, and compared to the traditional brands, it is devastatingly delicious.

I am a huge fan of peanut butter, and I eat (at least) a little bit every day.  My son eats massive quantities of peanut butter, so it’s important that I buy him a good quality product.

The ingredients: peanuts and salt.  The peanut butter you buy really shouldn’t have sugar, palm oil, or other ingredients you can’t pronounce in it.

I don’t always buy the organic product.  If Marc’s (our discount grocery store) has organic, I will buy it, but if they don’t, I get the regular version.  A lot of peanuts are pesticide contaminated, so organic is a good choice, but it is also very expensive.  The non-organic version is about $3, and the organic about $4.29 at Marc’s.  But I have seen the organic version for around $6 at other grocery stores.  In either case, it’s better to buy a peanut butter without all the other unnecessary ingredients, whether you can afford organic or not.

What is that stuff at the top?  It’s oil from the peanuts.  Yes, you have to stir it.  And yes, it’s kind of a pain in the ass.  But, it’s so worth it.  It’s so tasty!

Smucker's Organic Peanut Butter.  Pure Delish.

Smucker’s Organic Peanut Butter. Pure Delish.

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Not Everyone Likes You

Actually, not everyone likes ME.  Maybe you are a really awesome person and everyone does like you.  If so, good for you!

(Before you read the rest of this post, I just want to make it clear that this is not a cry for help or attention, and I’m not depressed or sad.  I have many dear friends and family members who I love very much.)

This isn’t a revelation.  I am aware that there have always been people who don’t like me.  But it was easier to ignore and/or deny before social media.  I was prompted to write this because of a recent ‘unfriending’ on Facebook.  I realized I had not seen any posts from this person recently and when I searched by name, the person was nowhere to be found.  I am surprisingly not feeling hurt or angry about it.  I am at a level of acceptance where I realize it’s OK that not everyone likes me.  But, I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel a little sting from it, and I have been thinking about it on and off today.  I mean, what did I do or say that would make someone want to delete me from their online life?  (Let me just mention that this is a person I know & see in real life.)

The effect it had was to lead me to think about personal relationships on a deeper level.  As we grow up and become more self conscious about everyone and everything going on around us, it’s natural to want to be liked.  The more friends we have, the better we feel, and the more accepted and normal we think we are.  Most of us join a clique to feel included as part of a like minded group.  When we meet new people, we look for similarities that will bring us closer together.  We put our best foot forward, so that people will like us.

Within my group of friends, I act like ‘me’.  But sometimes, when I’m around other people, specifically people I have just met, I often find myself acting like someone else.  I am a little shy and I don’t open up easily at first.  I try to make a snap judgement as to what kind of person they are, and adjust my personality to be what they might expect me to be.  I suppose we all do this at times, and it just depends on the situation.  I have noticed that the older I get, the less I am doing this, which is a great relief.  I am more confident with who I am and try to be ‘me’ in any situation.  It’s not right to pretend you’re someone you aren’t so that another person will like you.  I mean, do you think my drunk neighbor who plays her music too loud while she sits in her hot tub on Tuesday nights cares what other people think of her?  I doubt it.  I want to be more like her.  I bet she’s having an awesome time.  She is unapologetically her.  I want to be unapologetically me.

So, back to being unfriended on Facebook.  It’s happened before and it will happen again.  I can sit around wondering why this person isn’t interested in me, or I can just move on and realize that we weren’t meant to be friends in the first place.  Maybe they don’t like my political positions.  Maybe they don’t like pictures of my kids.  Or my kids stories.  Maybe they are jealous that I look like a glamorous supermodel.  Who knows?

Before Facebook, it was easy to pretend that everyone liked me.  No one was denying my friend requests or unfriending me.  I didn’t know that I was excluded from a party or event because I didn’t see a photo of it in my news feed the next day.  These things can be very hurtful, but it also makes life more transparent, and I believe that is a good thing.  It helps me examine the person that I am and reconfirms or changes my beliefs.  I am trying to be my authentic self and if others don’t like that, then it is OK for them to not like me.  I don’t want to have to put myself through a filter or worry about what others think of me.

And now, I would like to end with an inspirational quote:                                                           It is better to be hated for what you are, than to be loved for what you are not.                         -Some dude on the internet

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Coconut Bacon

Mmmmmm, bacon.

There is a new product out by Phoney Baloney, and it is delicious.  Coconut Bacon is everything you love about those crispy little parts of bacon that are greasy & salty.  I have eaten them in a few different ways:

1. Straight from the bag.  When I feel like a salty snack, I sit down to a few handfuls.  They are SUPER salty, so you really can’t eat a lot.

2. On pasta with olive oil and/or Earth Balance Buttery Spread.  This reminds me of a pasta dish I had in Rome many years ago called Spaghetti alla Carbonara.  I continuted to eat this dish every day until I ran out of cooked pasta.  Very Dangerous.

3. On top of my salad, like bacon bits, but much tastier.

The back of the bag suggests to use it in sandwiches such as a BLT or an Elvis (which is peanut butter, bananas, and bacon).  The pieces are kind of small to do this and I think they would fall out all over the place, but I may give it a try in the future.

Coconut Bacon is Vegan and Gluten Free.  It only hints at tasting like coconut, so unless you really hate or are sensitive to coconut, you aren’t going to be able to taste it.  It does contain soy, and half of your day’s serving of saturated fat and sodium.  But coconut is a good fat, right?  And there’s no cholesterol.  Plus, you don’t even have to kill Babe to eat this deliciousness.

I don’t really miss bacon, but I think I’ll keep this stuff around to dump on my food when it needs a little something extra.  And especially to make that Spaghetti alla Carbonara!

Purchased online at Spencer’s Market.

Coconut Bacon by Phoney Baloney

Coconut Bacon by Phoney Baloney

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Choosing Organized Activities For My Kids

My son is about to turn three years old, and I have recently become aware of all the activities he could possibly become involved in.  He is too young to tell me what he would like to do, so how do I decide?  In addition to preschool, all his extra curricular activities are completely up to my husband and I.  On the surface, it doesn’t seem like a big deal, but I have been over-thinking it, and I want to do my best to make the right decisions for him.  I’m not stressed out or worried about it, but at the same time, I think that our decisions for him do matter.

My first thought was to put him into one of those gymnastics classes for little kids.  He likes to jump around and has a lot of energy to burn, so it seems like a good match.  Those classes only meet once a week for less than an hour, so it’s not a huge time commitment.  But, it is one more day out of the week that I have to leave the house with two kids, and if you have two kids, you know that isn’t always the easiest thing to do.

Then, I went skiing this past weekend and saw all the adorable little kids on skis.  I learned to ski when I was three years old, and it is something that I still enjoy today.  Plus, the fact that we live only about ten minutes from a ski resort is really something that we should take advantage of.  Some people have to drive hours to go skiing, and Boston Mills is basically in our back yard.  He could take lessons while I sit in the lodge with Mallory and sip hot chocolate.  There is also the added benefit that when the kids get older, we will all be able to go on ski vacations.

Of course, there is soccer, which is so popular, we just assume he will play on a team.  I’m pretty sure they start at three years old in our city, and with the season beginning in just a few months, I’m wondering if I’ve already missed the registration for it. I really need a Hudson parent with older kids to explain all this to me.

In addition to other sports, art classes, and music classes, I’m sure there are a bunch of opportunities I don’t even know exist.

What do most parents do?  I would assume that they sign their kid up for either what they used to be involved in as children, or what their friends are signing their kids up for.  Maybe some parents sign their kids up for what they want them to be good at.  I’m sure in many cases, the child has shown a strong interest in the activity and the parent wants to reinforce it.

When I was growing up, I played just about every sport offered.  I really loved sports and I’m not sure that my parents ever questioned my interests.  Having said that, I didn’t start playing sports at three years old.  I think I was closer to seven or eight, (but I could be wrong).  Now, it seems like if you don’t get your kid into a sport at a young age, they will be left behind.  If Logan doesn’t start playing soccer until he is eight, he’s going to be five years behind everyone else.  I’m sure it’s harder to break into a sport later when all the parents and coaches already know each other and have formed somewhat of a clique.  Starting at a young age also gives you the advantage that if you have the potential to be really good, you are able to practice and perfect it over a long period of time.  People that are really good at piano or tennis, for example, have typically started very young with lessons.  (Although I just read that Roger Federer started playing tennis when he was eight, which was older than I would have guessed).

I suppose the best thing to do is put him in any activity that we think he will like and be good at, even though I don’t think there’s a sport for throwing trains.  I also suppose that he will show a strong like or dislike early on, so I will know whether we should continue with an activity or not.  I’m sure in the end, my kids will fall into activities that they are happy with.  I believe that as a parent, I  have a responsibility to expose my children to all kinds of possibilities, not just those I am familiar with, or that I want my kids to like.  I think that introducing them to their passion(s) early on is one of the most important things I can do for them.

As a parent, how have you decided what activities to put your kids into?

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Teeccino

My son is two, and he likes coffee, but I never have.  I have always liked the smell, but no matter how much sugar or ‘cream’ I would add, it always tasted bad to me.  A few years ago, when we were in Costa Rica, I found a really delicious chocolate coffee.  I bought a couple bags and started drinking it every day.  Like so many others, I finally had my coffee habit, and it was quite comforting to sip a warm drink throughout the morning.

The only problem is that I am extremely sensitive to caffeine, possibly intolerant or allergic to it.  It makes me extremely paranoid and fearful, I can’t sleep well, and triggers panic attacks.  While I loved my chocolate coffee, and I love hot and iced tea, I had to stop drinking it.

Then I discovered Teeccino.  It’s a caffeine free ‘coffee’ that is non-acidic and made from chicory root.  They offer several different flavors.  It can be brewed like regular coffee or you can buy unique single serving tea (coffee) bags.  This is really convenient if you want to travel with them or if you just want to heat up water instead of turning on the coffee maker.

If you go to their facebook page, you will see an offer for a sampler of 10 different flavors for $10.99 including shipping.  This is what I purchased to find my favorite.  Their website also has a lot of good information on caffeine and how it affects your body.  Especially for pregnant or nursing moms, it’s important to limit the amount of caffeine you are taking in, if you are drinking any at all.  Even if caffeine doesn’t have a noticeable affect on you (like it does for me), it does affect your body in other ways that you should be aware of.  The website will also tell you where you can find a store near you to purchase Teeccino or you can buy it online.

It is so nice to have a warm, comforting drink on these cold, winter days.  I add a little sugar and some soy creamer and drink it throughout the day.  I’ve also poured it over ice to make a cold drink which is nice when the sun is out and the weather is a little warmer.  I’m really glad I found this!

Teeccino Hazelnut

Teeccino Hazelnut

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Hail Merry Choco Macaroons

This is a treat that is truly meant to be savored.  I eat just one of these a day, because I am still trying to lose weight, and if I don’t have a limit I could easily eat the whole bag.  These macaroons melt in your mouth with just the right amount of chocolate & coconut.  They are vegan, gluten-free, non-gmo, made with raw oils and no refined sugar, and they are dehydrated at a low temperature to protect the benefits of the healthy extra virgin coconut oil.  This company makes a lot of other products, and I’m looking forward to finding out if they are all this good.

You can find out more about Hail Merry and where to buy them here.

At 55 calories each they are a small, but very satisfying pick-me-up when you need it.  Think of it as a healthy pleasure!

hail merry macaroon

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Amazing Meal

I have always wanted to be that person that wakes up in the morning, grabs a bunch of healthy fruits and vegetables from the fridge, and then makes a delicious green smoothie.  The reality is that I am not this person.  I’m too lazy and unprepared.  There have been days scattered here and there where I will make a smoothie, but most of the time, I am missing an essential ingredient, or I’m not sure which recipe I want to make, or I’m just too busy getting the kids fed to make anything for myself.  I have also made some pretty terrible smoothies in the past, which puts me off from making more for weeks.

Instead, I was eating peanut butter toast every day, sometimes three or four pieces of it, and then I would feel bad that I ate so much for breakfast.  Logan always has pb toast for breakfast, so it was hard to resist, and the worst part was that I was eating his leftovers, too.  After having a baby, it made me feel even worse, because I needed to lose weight, and here I was at the beginning of the day, stuffing my face with all this fatty deliciousness.

Then I tried a sample of Amazing Meal Pomegranate Mango Infusion.  I was not expecting much.  A lot of these meal replacement drinks are sweetened with stevia, which I don’t like.  It’s made by a company called Amazing Grass, which again made me think it was not going to taste great.  But the package made a lot of lovely claims, so I decided to give it a try.

It turns out I loved it.

The container says you can mix it with your favorite milk or water.  I have found that it’s also pretty good mixed with fruit juices.  I typically mix it with Rice Dream, since that’s my favorite milk.  There are sometimes clumps left in the drink after I mix it, but this doesn’t bother me.  If you want it to be really finely mixed, I think you would have to use a blender or a magic bullet.  It doesn’t have stevia or any other artificial sweeteners, it is sweetened by organic cane juice and some questionable ‘natural flavors’.  I’m going to let that go for now.

I have found that it’s a great way to start my day.  I feel more energetic and not weighed down by a heavy breakfast.  It is loaded with protein, veggies, fruits, greens, fiber, and other ‘super’ foods.  I don’t crave bread in the morning anymore which is a big plus for how I feel and for my weight loss.

Amazing Meal is organic, raw, soy free, dairy free, vegan, gluten free, & kosher.  It comes in Chocolate, Vanilla, and Original flavors.  I haven’t tried any of the other flavors yet because I really like the Pomegranate Mango.  I order it through amazon, using subscribe and save, so I get a new thirty day supply every month.

What is the first thing you eat/drink in the morning?

amazing meal

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Logan’s First Day of Preschool

I am writing this while Logan is, presumably, enjoying his first day of preschool.  I have been taking him to preschool since he was 18 months old, but I was always there with him. Toward the end of last year, I could tell that he was ready to be at school by himself.  Luckily, I was able to enroll him in a preschool in the middle of the year, in a two and a half year old class in which he did not have to be potty trained.  He’s going to be attending twice a week for three hours each day.

I have been telling him since his tour of the preschool (where he got to play the whole time) that he was going to go to school on Friday, but he doesn’t really have any reaction to it.  He just smiles as he usually does.  He is really social, so I know he’ll do well and jump right in with the rest of the class.

The car drop off line was a little awkward, and I ran over the curb.  Most parents have their child’s car seat on the passenger’s side, which makes sense in a a drop off line, but Logan was on the driver’s side.  So, awkward again, but no big deal.  The lady taking the kids inside was nice and she picked him up and carried him into the school.  I wanted to take a picture or video, but there were people behind me and it all happened so fast.  I think I’ll park when it’s time to pick him up instead of doing the car line, just to make sure everything went well today.

Even though this is what I want for him, it is a little sad.  This is the start of him going to school…. forever.   Well, forever being as long as he’s living with us.  Here are some photos I did take of my handsome boy, before we left.

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I packed his Spiderman lunchbox with a chocolate chip Zbar, goldfish, cheerios, and a cut up apple.  I was thinking of putting some carrots in there to pretend like he eats vegetables, but decided against it.  Last time he took a bite of carrot he made a terrible face and spit it out.  I also thought of packing his favorite food, peanut butter and butter bread, but that’s a little messy.  Plus, he had four pieces for breakfast.

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I bought him an Angry Birds backpack, because he loves the game and has the red bird.  He refused to wear the backpack, acting like it was making him fall over backward.  Whatever.

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And here we are in the car drop off line, waiting.  He has his kiki with him, but no, he didn’t take it into the school.

So, here I am, in my quiet house.  Mallory is sleeping and I am going to go be productive for about 15 minutes until she wakes up!

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Annie’s Goddess Dressing

I have been discovering a lot of amazing products lately, so I’ve decided to share them with all of you, and I hope that you will share your favorite products with me.

This first one is a dressing.  I bought it to satisfy a recipe I was going to make, and also as motivation to eat more salad.  Well, it never made it into whatever recipe I was going to make with it, because I DUMPED it all over my veggies & salads, day after day, until it was all gone.  If you like hummus, you will probably like this dressing.  It has tahini, lemon juice, oil, and garlic as common ingredients.  I do notice the vinegar taste, so if you are not a fan, you may not enjoy it, but my husband doesn’t like vinegar, and he thought it was pretty great, too.

Plus, the goddess on the bottle and I have almost the same hair!

It’s vegan, organic, and has no artificial colors or preservatives.  It does contain soy and wheat & has a fair amount of fat.

What are your favorite salad dressings?

*Even if you aren’t vegan, many products can be ‘veganized’, so please share!

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