Good Boy

Although my title for this post is tongue in cheek, and I like humorous and food porn blogs above all others, this post is, alas, a serious one. I’m troubled by the hate rhetoric towards the fairer sex that I’ve seen in spades lately, and I gotta write about it. But I’m not going to rant. I’m going to share my plan for attempting to change things, one boy at a time. That one boy happens to be the one I call son.

As an aside, I want to note that it’s possible what’s gnawing at me may have been compounded recently by an evening gleefully spent binge watching Mad Men after the kids were in bed. I can’t say for sure. Whatever the prompt, the societal hate vibe I’m feeling addressed toward my gender is making me wonder: How I can teach my son to respect women? A lot. Sincerely. The way he does or will respect most men implicitly, by virtue of their gender.

I don’t mean the kind of respect that entails holding doors open and saying pretty things. Those are surface gestures with a complicated past, present, and future. I’m talking about deep-seated, honest-to-goodness, unbiased respect.

My son is bright, and sweet, and thoughtful, and  I’m extremely proud of the young man he is becoming. That said, I’m nervous about the implicit bias, to borrow a word, he absorbs from the world around him. Even from inside our home. I am the primary caregiver, the homemaker, the part-time worker, and the one who does most of the compromising in our house. What messages do I unknowingly send him?

It’s a role I’ve taken on gladly because I love my children. I love them the way you love something so perfect and succinct you didn’t know it was possible the day before it arrived, neatly like a package on your doorstep. Only it was a baby, not a package, that came with a lot of effort, mottled pink skin, a cone head, and tear-stained sticky cheeks.

But now that my son, this person who is part of me but clearly not me, is growing up, I recognize how important my role is in helping him become a feeling, caring, thoughtful, empathetic man who treats women as equals. So, how do I help him to see me and all other women on a level playing ground? Talk about it. If we don’t talk about it, nothing will change.

  1. Talk about it. Instead of sweeping it under the carpet, I am resolved to talk to my son about sexism. I don’t think I have to share all the gory details of the unfortunate things I have witnessed and experienced in my lifetime (there are many). If you’re a woman, you know what I’m talking about. We’ve all been there. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, read this. A great starting place is to discuss exactly what it means to respect women. Followed by a big dose of empathy building. I heard this on NPR one morning, and I love the message. In short, bullies can have manners when they want to and still lack a fundamental understanding of empathy.
  2. Talk about it.  After we have a good understanding of what it means to respect women (actually ALL people), then we can discuss how to resist peer pressure because it is real, fo sho. I realize my son is young, and this might be wishful thinking, but it’s worked with some other peer pressure issues we’ve faced. And I’m hopeful.
  3. Talk about it. If and when things feel out of control, or we’ve gone off the mark slightly, bringing in a little professional guidance can’t hurt. Kids sometimes (read: almost always) listen to other adults (teachers, school psychologist, coaches, etc.) more readily than their parents. And I’m okay with that.

At the end of the day, we’re all human, all imperfect, and all striving for something. Let’s listen to what this crazy time in history (or so it seems) is telling us. What I hear is this: We need to work on empathy big time. And it can start with something as simple as a short conversation on the ride home from school.



Just a Few Resources for Teaching Empathy:
Harvard University Make Caring Common Project
Edutopia’s 5-Minute Film Festival: Videos on Kindness, Empathy, and Connection
UC Berkley’s Greater Good Science Center



Raise ‘Em Up

I’ve been noticing stories about women lately knocking other women down in overt and covert ways. And I can’t help wondering, WTF. Isn’t it hard enough being a woman without getting clobbered by the sisters who should be lifting you up? Ladies, don’t we have enough on our plates already?

The stories have always been there; I know that. But they seem louder lately: a cacophony buzzing relentlessly in the background like audio feedback. Or, worse, like the theme song to a horror film turned down low enough that you can just hear it and feel the anxiety it’s supposed to produce.

The buzz I’m hearing is nothing like the warm, nurturing song of the cicadas I grew up with in the South; their songs rise and fall predictably, lull you into a happy state of nature-filled nostalgia. There is nothing happy or soothing about the buzz I’ve been noticing lately and it’s impossible to ignore.

Around the neighborhood, I hear stories. At work, I hear stories. I read stories in the news. I see it on social media. I see it at the f’ing grocery store. What it comes down to is this–we judge each other. We critique and criticize, sometimes out loud and sometimes only in our heads. But we all do it. I’m guilty of it in ways I’m sure I don’t even see.

Last year, when my youngest started school full time, I decided to rediscover my passions, find a part-time job, in a nutshell, put myself out there. And I’ve learned something that is so important I gotta share it. I have learned to have more empathy for women. Yes, even the twenty-three-year-old who interviewed me and asked if I was comfortable working with twenty-year-olds, cause, ya know, I’m so old.

Let’s face it, being a woman is hard. Beautiful, but hard.

So, you might catch me gossiping from time to time (working on that one). But I can’t say it enough. Let’s support the mamas (read: all women). Yep, all of them, in whatever endeavors they choose, wherever they are in life. All of them. Every day. Raise ’em up. Think about it. Just sayin’.

these made me think of a grove of women, supporting each other, hanging out, having fun

Maple Bourbon Grilled Peaches

I picked up a basket of Colorado peaches at the store this week and thought of this crazy yummy recipe I shared last August. It’s been a year, and I can still remember the taste. My kids do too.; they’ve been asking me to make it. So, I guess this is what’s for dessert tonight. Might have to pour a small glass of bourbon for the grownups as I’m mixing the glaze. Hmmm. Food for thought.

Plain Spoken Mama

Living in Colorado, it’s hard not to look forward to late summer when peaches arrive fromthe western slope. Even though I know they’re coming, and they come every year, I am always a little surprised. It’s similar to the geese who find my yard each spring, stop for a layover, and fly on to their summer homes. I find myself wondering where the time has gone. How can it be that the peaches are here again?

In the Colorado towns west of the Rocky Mountains, the cool nights and warm days are ideal for growing peaches, apples, pears, apricots, and grapes (for some surprisingly good wine). To those of us who live near Denver, the fuzzy, golden-orange, drool-inducing globes are, truly, something to celebrate. In a place where water, and, therefore, produce, is a precious commodity, the bounty of our western slope orchards appears each year like a…

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A Plea for No More Supersized Birthday Parties

The money. The drama. The time spent planning. But so-and-so had his party at DartWarz. Why can’t I? Because it costs $600 and that’s crazy for a kid’s party. The oh-crap-I-forgot-someone guilt that wakes you up in the middle of the night.

The chaos. The anxiety. Please, God, don’t let anyone clip into the rope swing harness wrong. Does Junglequest have enough liability insurance and would our umbrella policy cover us if anything happened?

The sugar hangover that makes your kids alternatively giddy, mean, and weepy, accusing you of being the worst parent ever between fits of laughing so hard they snort and crying so hard they can’t breathe. The massive pile of plastic stuff that you have to figure out how to transport home and then make room for it in your already-too-full-of-plastic-stuff home.

The clean up. The lack of gratitude from your child that makes you cringe as you hear yourself saying things your parents said to you like, “You have no idea how lucky you are!”

The thank you cards that take you two months to get out and make you feel guilty and slightly hostile every time you run into the mom who gets her cards out the very next day.

Remember when a kids’ birthday party was just an ugly cake your mom made, your family, one or two kids from the cul-de-sac, and dollar store party hats? Let’s go back in time. Please.

Three More Reasons Not to Supersize:

  1. We’re creating expectations that are unrealistic, and our children are going to be disappointed when they realize that they are not the center of the world and their friends, boss, spouse, pretty much any adult, isn’t going to spend weeks and hundreds of dollars planning a party for them. Do your future daughter or son-in-law a favor and don’t supersize your kids’ birthday parties.
  2.  Think of all the kiddos whose hurt feelings you will save. I will never forget the tears streaming down my son’s blotchy, tender cheeks one day when I picked him up from school. One of his friends was having a birthday party and had invited all the boys in his class except him. The part that sucks is that we’ve been on the other side of that fence. We have had parties that did not include every child in the class.
  3. At the end of the day, your child doesn’t really care if the birthday party is big or small. Children want to feel loved and cared for, and as long as you do something special for them on their birthday, they will know you love them.


my fourth birthday party-note the ugly cake and cheap party hats




A Leg Up for Monarchs

It’s no secret that monarchs are struggling to survive in our rapidly changing world. We’ve seen numbers drop more than seventy-five percent in the past twenty 20 years. Although we saw a small uptick this year in monarchs that winter in Mexico, they are not out of the woods yet, not by a long stretch.

Monarchs are one of the great iconic, stately, wonders of nature (not talking about William and Kate here, folks, although I’m sure they’re lovely too). Preventing extinction of this miraculous pollinator is paramount; more than stunning, they contribute to the health of our planet.

The plight that these extraordinary animals face, whether they are east or west of the Rockies, is monumental, and can be a valuable teaching tool for children. The epic migration they undertake, one of the wonders of our world, is perilous and becoming more so as their food sources en route disappear.

Involve your kids in saving the monarchs and you’ll teach them a variety of valuable skills in the process. empathy, persistence, teamwork, problem solving are but a few.


a monarch caterpillar my kids named fatty


What can we do to help?

Fortunately, there is a lot that we can do to give monarchs a leg up. If you undertake even one of these suggestions with your kids, your kids will no doubt carry the torch for future generations (and learn a ton to boot).

  1. Plant milkweed in your yard, school garden, anywhere you can. Monarch caterpillars ONLY eat milkweed and milkweed plants are rapidly disappearing in North America. You can get free seed packets from the Save Our Monarchs Foundation. Keep in mind that milkweed is poisonous to humans so read up on the plant and take any necessary precautions. Different varieties thrive in different regions, so make sure you’re planting the best variety for your region.
  2. Plant a butterfly garden. Butterflies feed on nectar from various plants. Take a trip to your local nursery and ask them what native species you can plant to attract monarch butterflies to your yard and give them sustenance for the long journey.
  3. Make or buy a butterfly feederA quick Google or Pinterest search turns up a ton of options here, some as simple as a plate of rotting fruit set outside. Another option is to wet brightly colored sponge squares with a sugar water mixture (1:4 sugar/water ratio) that has been boiled and cooled.

We’re all short on time, and we’re bombarded daily with opportunities to do something to help or improve the world around us. Some days it overwhelms me–pretty sure I’m not alone in that. So if planting a garden is too ambitious, make it simple. The next time you’re about to toss out the too-mushy-to-eat watermelon from last weekend’s cookout put it on a plate and set it outside instead. You might make a monarch’s day.


monarch crossing Lake Michigan




Root Vegetable Hash Recipe

As I’ve grown older, I’ve given up more and more of my treasured food friends. Bread, my first love, was the first thing to go. I worked in a gourmet store my junior year in college and gained 10 pounds eating fresh baguettes and brie. I eventually lost the weight, but I refused to believe that it had anything to do with bread. Bread and I continued to be fast friends for twenty more years.

I finally bid bread a teary farewell two years ago in my early forties. I comforted myself and staved off cravings by thinking instead about cheese, my other love–mild, stinky, aged, raw, cheese glorious cheese.

Then, to my horror, I became lactose intolerant. So, shortly after bread and I parted ways, I found myself breaking up with cheese. I had lost some of my best food friends in a matter of months. It was traumatic and I lost interest in food. Who cared about lunch when it was just a plain old salad? Not me.

After a while, I began to taste vegetables in a new light. Carrots tasted sweeter. Beets were earthier. Different greens had really distinct flavor profiles. When I combined them in unexpected ways, creating and eating vegetable dishes became fun. I stopped obsessing about the foods I couldn’t eat anymore and discovered a treasure trove of amazing (and healthy) recipes. This one came from the 21 Day Sugar Detox. I modified it a bit, and it’s a staple in my house on lazy weekend mornings.


root veggies grated with box grater



  • 1 small parsnip or 1/2 large one
  • 1 small sweet potato
  • 3 carrots (I use rainbow carrots for the color)
  •  4 slices of bacon
  • 2 tsp. salt (I use sea salt with iodine)


If you cook too long, the vegetables start to lose their color.



  1. Using a box grater, grate all of the root vegetables in a large bowl.
  2. Cut bacon into small pieces.
  3. Using a large skillet, cook bacon pieces.
  4. Add grated root veggies.
  5. Sprinkle with salt.
  6. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about eight minutes.
  7. Serve with a poached egg on top.


My family loves poached eggs, but a fried egg works too.


Bourbon Balls

As a native of Louisville, Kentucky, I like to get my Derby on every year on the first Saturday of May. This year was no different than others. My husband and I crowded as many of our friends as we could rally into our garage and sipped mint juleps while watching the race. Roughly one hundred folks clad in hats and bow ties showed up despite the fact that a tornado watch and hail don’t recommend attending a back-yard party.

Although it’s not like being in Kentucky (mainly because the party isn’t two weeks long) it’s a close second. It’s heartwarming for a Kentucky girl to find out that even in Colorado, folks appreciate a good Kentucky Derby shindig.

Every year, I bake Derby Pies and make bourbon balls. This year, my nine-year-old said to me, “Mom! I want an I heart bourbon balls t-shirt.” After sucking down three bourbon balls, he went on to exclaim, in an animated clearly-I’m-high-on-sugar-way, that he was the only kid he knew who was allowed to have alcohol. I smiled and let him have his illusion (only 3 TBSP of bourbon in this ginormous batch). That’s what Derby is, in large part, all about.


I would wear an I heart bourbon balls t-shirt



  • 2 sticks of softened unsalted butter  plus 1 TBSP (go organic if you can)
  •  1 1/2 lbs. confectioner’s sugar sifted (I use Wholesome Sweeteners organic)
  • 3 TBSP good Kentucky bourbon (it’s important to use the good stuff here)
  • 1 cup of chopped pecans
  • 1 bag of whole pecans
  • 16 ounces of dark chocolate chips
  • toothpicks
  • parchment paper


  1. Cream the 2 sticks of butter and confectioner’s sugar in a large bowl.
  2. Add the bourbon (you can use more than 3 TBSP if you want a stronger bourbon flavor) and mix until well-blended.
  3. Add the pecans and mix until well-blended.
  4. Refrigerate the filling mixture for 30 minutes (more if needed). The filling has to be cold to roll it.
  5. Five minutes before you get the filling out of the refrigerator, start melting the chocolate and 1 TBSP butter in a double boiler (or place a glass bowl on top of a pan of water).
  6. While the chocolate is melting, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  7. Roll the filling into 1-inch balls.
  8. Stick a toothpick into one side, and dredge the ball through the chocolate, making sure to let as much excess as possible drip off.
  9. Place the chocolate covered ball onto the parchment paper, toothpick-side-up, and remove the toothpick.
  10. Place a whole pecan over the hole from the toothpick.
  11. Repeat until you have made as many as you want or you are out of filling or chocolate.
  12. Place the cookie sheet in the refrigerator and let the chocolate harden.
  13. Serve at room temperature.

What’s Dragging Us Down?

Something has been needling my conscious for the past few weeks. I can’t pinpoint what, exactly, brought it to the surface, but I ‘m glad it came to light, and I need to get it off my chest.

I try hard to support other women. I go to female doctors. I support companies run by women. When a female friend or acquaintance starts a new venture, I go out of my way to support her, because life can be hard and women are, let’s face it, the underappreciated sex.

That brings me to what’s eating me up. When my kids were babies and toddlers, I struggled to keep the daily routine together, forget about finding the time and energy to make friends. Despite my sweatpant-clad, hair-in-a messy-ponytail facade, another mama at pre-school felt compassion and reached out to me; I grabbed on.

She was my lifeline so many times during those crazy, sleepless, joyful, exhausting years. When my son’s preschool teacher told me that he was not like other kids, and that, in her words, he’s, well, so smart, and, you know, gifted kids sometimes have other challenges, my preschool-mama friend was the first person I called. My husband couldn’t understand the anguish those words made me feel. But my preschool-mama friend did.

Over the past few years, I’ve lost touch with her, and I miss her friendship–a lot. I have other mom-friends now, and we get together, drink wine, alternately complain and brag about our kids, and I treasure each of them. But they weren’t in the trenches with me like she was.

Reflecting on why we’re not friends anymore made me realize that I’m not as supportive of the women in my life as I think I am. I judge, even when I try not to, I gossip when I shouldn’t, and I suck at reaching out to other women, letting them know how amazing they are.

If I’m honest with myself, I can see that she was a better friend to me than I was to her. That’s not an easy thing to think. However, I’m convinced it will help me work on being more supportive.

I’m not going to beat myself up–what good does that do? Instead, I’m going to learn something and try to walk the talk when it comes to supporting other mamas.

As I dig deeper, determining which direction to go, one thing really bugs me. I wonder what exactly it means to support other women? Why isn’t it innate for me (and a lot of other women)? Why do we tear each other down? Why aren’t we building the scaffolding to raise each other up, singing each other’s praise as we work?


weathervane in Quebec City



I Heard The News, Oh Man

Where were you when you heard the news? In woeful moments, I can’t help thinking that Prince’s death deserves that question as much as Neil Armstrong’s infamous moonwalk and JFK’s shocking assassination (sorry Dad!). Perhaps even more so for the kids who grew up in the US during the eighties.

I had just boarded a plane headed for Nashville. I settled into my coveted aisle seat, tucked my coat over me to fight the arctic blast spewing from the tiny air vent overhead. I was taking in the newness of the plane and I was thinking that United must be upping the ante. In addition to the perfunctory barf bag and self-promoting magazine, this newer plane had tv screens in the back of the seats. I had brought a book but the prospect of vegging out for a couple hours and watching the Food Network made me smile.

I glanced up at the tv screen. The news. Nope. Not today. Headed out of town without the kids. This trip was about getting away. And I was about to change the channel when I saw the headline. “Singer Prince Dead at 57.” I didn’t believe it. So, I logged onto Facebook (where else?)and searched Prince. It was true. My heart slumped. I felt wobbly, like a Salvador Dali painting, a being without bones. I was cold and numb at the same time. Prince’s songs made up the bulk of the soundtrack to my youth. I could feel my younger self, floating away, and I couldn’t stop her. I felt old.

Like so many other children of the eighties, Prince’s music accompanied my mundane and life-changing moments. I learned so much because of Prince, and I could wax poetic for a long time, but since I’ve probably already lost most of you, I’m going to cut to the chase and share just two of the countless things I learned because of Prince.


Little Red Corvette taught me that even dorky girls with glasses are desirable.

It was 1983, and Prince’s album 1999 had been out for a few months. I was at my first boy/girl party and I wore a brand new drop-waist mini dress that made me feel cool, in spite of my thick glasses and a bad haircut. The parents actually left the house and all twenty ten-year-olds were alone and allowed to whoop it up  as we saw fit (parenting circa the eighties).

After some awkward dancing, we ended up in the basement playing 30 Seconds in Heaven and listening to Prince. If you don’t know the game, it’s spin the bottle on steroids. Someone spins the bottle two times and a boy and girl go into a closet to do ANYTHING while the entire group counts outside. It’s really romantic.

Despite all the fluttery nerves and anxiety a game like that produces in a dorky girl, I learned something important. I learned that boys REALLY like girls, even girls they would push to the curb in front of other kids. It’s something I still believe, and I’m forty-four, and guys ain’t that horny anymore at my age so it’s something other than hormones.

I know you’re dying to know what happened, so here’s a short recap. We were down to the last couple seconds. The pressure was on. Eyes were shut. I could hear Little Red Corvette playing outside the closet. “Baby you’re much too fast…” I was beginning to think it wouldn’t happen. Then, it did. There was a peck on the lips–the kind my nine-year-old son gives me now–and flushed cheeks. The door flew open, it was on to the next couple, and we were forgotten. But I never forgot that moment or the song.

Let’s Go Crazy taught me that planning and practice lead to success.

Flash forward a few years from that fateful first boy/girl party, and I’m finally old enough to go to my first teen dance (yes, I realize how small town that makes me sound). I was sick-to-my-stomach nervous.  I had been waiting for this moment for years. I’d watched my older siblings, confident with their feathered hair and tight jeans, saunter into the dance while my friends and I had to wait outside and peek in windows.

The week before the dance, my best friend and I played Prince, mostly Let’s Go Crazy, and practiced our dance moves. We perfected a move that solidified our status as born-without-funk. It was somewhere between a Russian Copack Dance and a sidekick from high-impact aerobics. We thought it was just right for Let’s Go Crazy, and when the song came on at the dance, I was prepared. Whatever the move was, it was just strange enough that a boy came up to me and said, “Rad.” All my hard work paid off.


I know there are so many other children of the eighties out there with countless Prince stories to share. My husband listens to country, always did, and has been rolling his eyes at me. But I know I’m not alone. RIP Prince.


Lamb: Ewe Should Try It

Americans are funny when it comes to lamb. We consume around 61 pounds of beef and 26 chickens per person per year, but less than one measly pound of lamb. Perhaps it has something to do with comedian Shari Lewis’s Lamb Chop, the personification of a lamb sock puppet that took America by storm in the 60’s. Lamb Chop was, basically, a precocious, vulnerable six-year-old girl. It’s probably harder to eat something when you hear it talking to you in the voice of a child.

I’ve also read that we can blame it on World War II and the soldiers who came back from Europe sick and tired of years on the frontline eating mutton dressed as lamb. When at last they came home, lamb got the boot. 

Whatever the reason, it’s a shame more folks don’t give lamb a try. My family was a bit of an anomaly, I guess. Lamb was a holiday staple. My Mom served it with mint jelly, something that still makes me cringe and my sister gag. I’ve updated my Mom’s lamb recipe (no mint jelly!), and it’s become a holiday staple in my house.

Despite claims of a gamey taste, lamb has a mild flavor. I live in Colorado, so I buy Colorado lamb, which is coveted and can be hard to find, but New Zealand and Australian lamb are readily available at pretty much any large grocery. Ewe should try it!


  • one bone-in leg of lamb (aitchbone removed)
  • 1 cup parsley
  • 1/2 cup rosemary (stems removed)
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (more if you need it)
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • zest of one lemon
  • juice of one lemon
  • one TBSP salt
  • one tsp pepper


  1. Combine all of the ingredients except the lamb in a food processor. Process approximately one minute or until you have a nice paste.
  2.  Rub the paste on the leg of lamb and let it sit at room temperature for about thirty minutes.
  3. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Place lamb on a roasting rack inside a large roasting pan.
  5. Cook at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.
  6. Drop the oven temperature to 350 degrees and cook for about two more hours or until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat reads 135 degrees Fahrenheit.
  7. Remove lamb from oven, tent with aluminum foil, and let it rest for fifteen minutes.
  8. Carve and serve with au jus using the juice and drippings from the bottom of the pan.

Tip: Use a digital thermometer that you can leave in the meat, set it to 135 degrees Fahrenheit and don’t open the oven door to peek.


leg of lamb before it goes into the oven