I’m decidedly not a fan of peppers, yet roasted red peppers pop up here and there in particular foods and they seem like something I can work on enjoying. So, I experimented with a beloved Barefoot Contessa recipe to make it work with my tastebuds and, after a few attempts, settled upon this combination which delivers a savory, roasted sweetness, tangy punch delicious with pita chips, fresh veggies, over crackers or flatbread.

1 medium eggplant, peeled & diced
2 red peppers, seeds removed & diced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 head garlic*
1 tablespoon tomato paste or roasted tomatoes

Prep and dice eggplant and peppers. Mix in a bowl with olive oil and salt. Spread on baking sheet.

Chop the top of the garlic head off, wrap in foil, and drizzle with a touch of olive oil. Place garlic on baking sheet next to veggies.

Bake in 400 degree oven for 45 minutes or until lightly roasted and not too brown, stirring eggplant and peppers once. Garlic should give when squeezed gently.

Cool slightly then place eggplant and peppers in a blender or food processor. Gripping the foil-wrapped garlic bulb, squeeze the roasted garlic into the mixture. Add tomato paste and pulse 3-4 times until you reach a consistency you would like.

Refrigerate and let the flavors mingle or just enjoy right away!

*roasted garlic thrills me with its tender, earthy sweetness but if you are an onion lover, you can also roasted a small diced onion with the eggplant and pepper and reduce the garlic to just two cloves. Also, feel free add black pepper to taste…everyone knows that would ruin it for me. :)

body & mind

December 8, 2014

Your body knows before your mind does. Oh, that fantastic Danielle LaPorte knows how to sum up such gems of wisdom so concisely!!

In a weekend that felt tumultuous and off and crackling with energy of all sorts, my mind is still swirling with indecision and confusion but my body knows.  It comes down to procrastination, lack of honesty with myself, hidden stories, unconscious food, and, above all, lack of healing sleep.  My body is pinched in some spots, gnawing in others, weary in all, and the mind is still off on its own whirring away.

Tonight, tomorrow, day after day, will be about the breath, the mind-body connection, and awareness.  And with that, my body tells me it is time for sleep.

To all, a good night…

comfort and shadow

December 5, 2014

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
-Psalm 23

An interesting psalm to settle on tonight but as I ruminate on it, I think of these things:

What really truly moves me most about my beloved Harry Potter stories – that no matter what, he is never alone. He faces death, loss, treachery, judgment, and fear and manages to conquer it all through love and the presence of those who have passed on yet are always there…I fear no evil; for thou art with me.

Pippin’s beautiful voice calling out “through shadow to the edge of night” amidst the bloodshed on the fields of Gondor. I know salvation is coming, but he is fearful with a glint of child-like hope.

Fear not. Fear not. Fear not. There will be darkness. There will be light. Be comforted. You are not alone.

Maria the flibbertigibbet

Maria the flibbertigibbet

A priest once said: “If you don’t want to burn out, stop living like you’re on fire.”  While those closest to me may think I seem pretty to close to the flame as I barrel through a mile-long list of things I say yes to with gusto, I don’t actually feel frantic.  I feel unsettled, rudderless, anxious, and a bit fidgety in my soul, or as my alter ego, Anne Shirley would say, “I am well in body although considerably rumpled up in spirit.”

Just today, I had a quiet moment – never mind the rain, the new puppy’s muddy pawprints, the disarray of furniture and cabinets, the Christmas tree with just the occasional patch of working lights – and I noted that I had been yearning for some time to breathe and think and do and yet I could not decide what or where to begin.  I was, in essence, in full flibbertigibbet mode.  The lovely song the nuns sing about Maria in the Sound of Music rings a bit too true at times.  What I really wanted was not time to get things done even if that is a necessity, I wanted time to do nothing.  Nothing might mean unabashed reading, a cozy Masterpiece Mystery, a nap, oh the deliciousness of a nap.

I got thinking about a bit written by Brené Brown about burnout and recharging.  I loved this and how it spoke to me and how I often feel when I absorb someone else’s energy like a sponge and that fidgety feeling within gets going: “Once you’re operating at that frenetic pace, it starts to become how you define yourself and your worth.  You might think, If I’m not busy, it must mean I’m not productive or relevant.”  Yes, yes, yes!  I want some days to not even say I am busy, just have permission to say, “no, thank you, I need some down time to myself.”  How would that go over?  Or, rather, I need to give myself permission to not worry about the judgment of others…

Here, for me, is the key that I want to shout from the rooftops and remind others of every day:  “We must accept that what we produce and contribute is not our value–and get clear on what is.  The people who matter most to me don’t love me for what I do or for what I’m doing for them; they love me for who I am.”  Drink that in.

As a certified Mama Bliss Coach through the one and only Kathy Stowell, my toolbox has been filled with amazing ways to establish self-care, find bliss every day, and over all just rock peaceful, engaged life of a contented mama.  Yet, I always seem to keep that toolbox shut tight, thinking I can only open it when I have time to polish those tools, perfect everything.   No more.  Just writing here I am fighting perfectionism because the format is distracting, my blog design does feel quite right, and I am not exactly at home with writing directly on a keyboard.  Paper and ink are still my style.

So, adding to my toolbox, I share Brené’s dares to recharge:

1. Dare to be honest about what burnout looks like for you – I start to notice that I want to avoid any action, need to shut down and not talk or engage with the outside world.  I feel overwhelmed by clutter and stuff and want to purge.  I also feel just plain anxious.

2.  Dare to set boundaries – THIS is not my forté.  I love what Brené says: “just because I can do something does not mean I should.”  Work in progress.  I will try my darnedest to remember: “The next time someone asks you to do something, consider whether you’re doing it out of obligation or to prove your worth.”

3.  Dare to create a clearing for yourself – This is where writing comes in.  I can release these swirling thoughts and insights that clutter my mind and share what I am compelled to share.

These dares help with the flibbertigibbet syndrome, yet really I am learning to just be who I am as I can.  After all, how do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?



I am an enthusiastic helper by nature, often breaching boundaries in an effort to free others of their burdens and struggles. This G. K. Chesterton quote shook me up a bit, in that positive cobweb-clearing way, reminding me to not free others from themselves or what makes them beautiful in their differences and challenging bits.

I got two more reminders of this via email today –

One from the ridiculously spot-on enneagram thought of the day which gently prodded me to “Remember it’s not helping others that produces change but self-knowledge and awareness. Don’t try to change your reactions today. It’s enough to see them more clearly.” Well, yes. I will try and get out of my own and others’ way to just see them for what they are.

The other from the delightful Danielle LaPorte who simply said “There’s nothing wrong with you.” That’s comforting and surely forces me to stop that naughty inner dialogue that has been questioning my every move when under duress of any kind. I wouldn’t say that there is NOTHING wrong with me, but I am learning self-acceptance and on that journey, learning to accept others without striving to help them right out of their own identities.

Time to let camels be camels and live more by one of my guideposts: Be still and know that I AM. He’s got it covered and knows what He is doing, humps and all.

p.s.  Listening to the soundtrack to Angels In America by the incomparable Thomas Newman is a cathartic, amazing thing.  His music shoots directly to my soul and inspires me to leap literally and figuratively.  Take a moment to just check out “Mauve Antarctica.”  Give it some time to settle in and let me know if it speaks to you.  I will never, never forget the first time I heard his music in “How To Make An American Quilt.”  Tears fell from the first few notes and didn’t stop for the remainder of the movie.  Story in part, but for me, the music makes it.  He’s the main reason I can’t watch “Finding Nemo” without crying.  Just imagine it without his heart-rending score.  Sigh.

i am a writer

October 3, 2014

Today I heard someone say boldly and clearly, “I am a writer. That’s what I am.” It was powerful in its confidence and simplicity. Something inside of me lit up, as I recognized, so am I. It’s not about what kind of writer I might be, the entirely subjective quality of my writing, or even what I say; rather, it defines a part of me that is undeniable.

I often avoid writing here because I feel uncomfortable “competing” with blogs that seem to capture that rustic ranch-meets-PEI-meets-brimming country house filled with cherubic children, gobs of animals, views that stretch on forever, cookbook-writing-homeschoolin’ mamas, and lists of books that I should have and haven’t read yet. Then I find myself grumpy because I am stuck in the comparison game yet again and recognize that sometimes I am just a little uncomfortable in my own skin. My house is “not quite decorated.” I don’t have chickens or a goat. I don’t have a porch that looks out over my dream combination of farmland, mountains, a forest, an ocean, and a lighthouse complete with windsong, birdsong, blustery storms, vibrant seasons (with the perfect hot and dry California weather every other week), peace and quiet, yet still only a stone’s throw away from a darling community, a farmers’ market, and plenty of other conveniences. Sounds reasonable.

There are days when my discomfort taints my sense of taste, every book I pick up makes me itch and I stumble around half-completing tasks with very little pizazz. Today is one of those days. And yet…I am a writer.

This act is art, therapy, release, purging, connection. Time to just write. No over-thinking, no worries, no fretting about style or structure. Just write. I might as well say, just be. I will breathe through the words, discomfort the discomfort but calling it out, dance on the page.


“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”
― Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

In this Tuesday’s Kitchen, I share a salad with many possibilities. You can mix up the greens, use your favorite dressing/vinaigrette, or add your favorite nuts. I first enjoyed this at a dear friend’s baby shower and the darling hostess graciously offered her ingredient list and gave me free reign. Enjoy the tang of arugula, the nutty crunch of the brussel sprouts, and the way these flavors mingle together in this light treat of a meal!

Fun facts that you can share at dinner parties or just feel smarter by knowing –
-Brussel sprouts are members of the cabbage family, come from Belgium, and contain potent anti-cancer chemicals, sulforaphane and propertiesindole-3-carbinol, which boost DNA repair in cells and help block growth in cancer cells.
-Quinoa is a species of “goosefoot”, a cousin to beetroots, spinach and tumbleweeds, and a superfood high in dietary fiber, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, and calcium, perfect for vegans and those who are gluten-free!

Shaved Brussel Sprout, Arugula, & Quinoa Salad
1 pound fresh brussel sprouts
1 cup fresh baby arugula (also known as rocket which is just fun to say)
1/2 cup almonds or pine nuts (yummy when toasted)
1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes
1 cup cooked quinoa
1 bunch fresh asparagus
2 ounces feta or pecorino romano cheese (optional & delicious)

Holding brussel sprouts by stem end, slice very thinly with a sharp knife or shave with a mandolin or in a food processor. Toss in a bowl to separate the layers. Add arugula, nuts, tomatoes, quinoa, sliced asparagus and mix together. Add cheese if desired.

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup champagne vinegar
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
*also delicious with lemon juice & olive oil or Girard’s Champagne Dressing


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