Why I Deleted My Facebook App

It was a Monday and I had been contemplating it for months. I told myself that moving my Facebook app to the back of my phone in a file labeled "Media isn't Social" would keep me from opening it so much. And it did...sort of. But the amount of self control it took sometimes wasn't even worth it. So I held down the icon, waited for it bounce, and I hit the "X." My heart rate immediately rose. 

The thing is, Facebook can be so much fun. And informational. And enlightening, even, at times. But it can also be a grim filter through which to see the world. And depressing. And argumentative. Despite the fact that I had been limiting my use of Facebook, something was really beginning to nag at me. Well, several things actually. A mounting list of things I was doing (and that you probably do too) weren't sitting well with me. 

The first thing was something most people complain about: it's an increasingly negative experience. Everyone has an opinion, and I get that because I can be amongst the strongest when it comes to "taking a stand." It's great that we have a platform to get our causes out there, and to share ideas and exchange information. It's also kind of exhausting because you begin to see the same sets of opinions from the same 25 people.  

Think about it...when you post a political status (or any status), you probably know exactly who is going to like it, who will love it, who will hate it and tell you so, and who will argue with that person over the merits of the status. And how many minutes add up to hours spent on a virtual platform arguing over a political ideal that no one is really going to meet in the middle on? For me, the answer to this was "too many." Here's why: I value debate. There are some friends of mine that I can count on for robust disagreement without all the dramatics, and that's great. I prefer my debate in person where no one can catch a case of "keyboard courage" and go ape shit on me. 

Mostly though, at this point in adulthood, I have no interest in arguing points with acquaintances, "that guy" from high school, (god forbid) a coworker that I don't know super well, or my best friend's mom (I love you Jan!) It never goes well, and minds aren't being changed, but sometimes real feelings get hurt. 

A second issue for me is that I have noticed when we get on platforms and throw out political stances, we are tricked into the notion that we are "doing something," when in reality, we aren't. Donating money, calling your congressman or woman, writing a letter, attending a meeting or joining a committee, VOTING IN AN ELECTION--those are things you can DO. And there is a big difference. If something is truly important to me, I want to be moved enough to actually do something. Saying something about it simply isn't enough for me anymore. 

And all these things, they would probably be reason enough to log off altogether, but they really weren't. The kicker for me was a realization that boils down to much more than petty annoyance (because keeping your mouth shut is always an option, amiright?) The real issue for me is this: I am a complex, wonderful human being, and I don't deserve to be whittled down a single Facebook status. I don't want to be viewed in pieces and through filters, and neither should you. 

When we put these snippets out there on the Internet, we are doing each other a disservice. There are people I love in my life and the experience of them in real life is amazing. But if you only looked at them through something like Facebook, you might not want to even start a conversation. It's dividing us before we even enter the world, and I don't like that. Someone may not like my stance on a particular issue, but they might really like ME. These things can coexist. I'll bet you have friends that you absolutely love and you probably disagree on a few things, maybe even strongly, and I would be willing to bet that you would worry about it way less if you just got off of Facebook a little more. 

When I step outside my door, the world is a humbling and beautiful place. THAT is the experience I want to begin having more and more. It's not that I'll never go on Facebook. There are aspects that I love about it...like Messenger and posting my blogs! But if it's your way of "keeping up" with people, maybe it's time you started shutting down the app, and picking up the phone and give your friends a call instead. 

It's been a couple of weeks since I deleted the app, and I have to say, I don't know as much about what my friends did today, or what the political pulse is. I have only seen the pictures posted to Instagram (which I love), and I get my news by either going to a website, or watching TV. I haven't seen any cute kitten videos lately. But I sure have been reading more, and connecting with the people I love. My daughter hasn't asked me to put down my phone as much, and I've been looking up more recipes than statuses. My time isn't wasted nearly as much as it was before when I was using Facebook as entertainment. 

I feel like more of a spiritual being and less of a virtual one. And for now, that's really working for me. So what are you waiting for? Delete your Facebook app, and see what happens! 

Parenting With Spirit

No matter what kind of child you have, parenting can be really tough at times. It's exhausting, begs of your best self, and challenges you at each pass. Once you get used to a stage, it changes. Not to mention dealing with the social stratum that is preschool/daycare and eventually the public school system. It's a wild, rewarding ride.

For me and my husband, though, parenting seemed to be encompassing a bit more than the above-mentioned, run-of-the-mill parenting trials. It started fairly early on when, as an infant, I noticed that could never put my daughter down. She always needed to be touching me to sleep, and her separation anxiety took on a life of its own. Later, as I looked to some of my more seasoned friends and family for parenting advice, I noticed that despite taking their advice, the techniques just didn't work.

Coming into last summer, I felt that I was doing something wrong. The people around me would tell me that I was a good parent, and I knew that I was truly striving to be one, but inside I didn't feel like a good parent. I felt I had fleeting successes, and a lot of frustration. Why, I would ask myself, is everyone else's kid doing what they ask and mine seems incapable? What am I doing wrong? 

A series of events over the fall found me looking a little bit deeper. Behaviors that people said my daughter would "outgrow" simply weren't going away. I Googled...furiously. I was going to find an answer if it was the last thing I did and that was where I found two words that changed my life: Spirited Child. Faster than you could click a mouse, I ordered up "Raising Your Spirited Child" by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, Ed.D., and thanks to my Amazon Prime membership, it was here in two days.

It arrived on a Saturday. By Monday, I felt a seismic shift in my parenting, and in my confidence as not only a parent, but a person. Finally, everything I had experienced up to that point: my parenting failures, my inability to integrate parenting advice from friends successfully, and the how's and why's of my daughter's behavior, all made so much sense. I am not exaggerating when I say that the contents of this book changed my relationship to my child, and my enjoyment level as a parent has gone up exponentially.

The book espouses gentle parenting, which is something I am innately drawn to. But in order to put something into practice, you have to have clear techniques and phraseology. This book lays it all out with clear techniques for your child's individual personality traits. For example, my child is a "spirited introvert." For my child, socializing can be quite exhausting, and she needs time to recharge. Changes in routine can be perplexing and disruptive, and so she needs to know when things change, and how it will be different.

The book also explains what makes a spirited child different from other children in terms of them just being "more." They are more sensitive, more persistent, more EVERYTHING, and as a parent to a spirited child, I am therefore required to give MORE. (If you are parenting a spirited young one, no, it's not your imagination, you are, in fact, working very hard.)

Spirit is why you can't let your child "cry it out" during a tantrum (it would never. ever. ever. end). It's why the ingrained style of discipline we parents have may not work (these kids respond to very specific techniques). It's why it's extra hard to leave them with anyone--grandmas, schools, babysitters. It's why your child is acting like a complete maniac in the crowd at an outdoor festival, despite her own excitement. It's why they don't sleep like other kids. It's also why your kid loves play doh, the water, and other sensory experiences. Or why they don't. It's why they can lock into something for hours. It's why they are hilarious, and creative. It's a part of who they are.

Now I am more familiar with terms like "slow to adapt," and I can anticipate hard moments and try my best to head them off at the pass. I am familiar with WHY I was failing before, and I'm experiencing a lot more success. I am also aware of how much calm it's going to take on my part, and that is a new kind of exhausting. I am parenting harder than ever before, and I have to be really on top of my game. But on the flip side of that, my family is having some of the best times we've had together. We are communicating, disciplining, and loving better.

In my mind, I had this vision of being a parent. I want my child to know me for who I am, and I want to bring that truest vision of myself to my child. Before I knew she was spirited (and an introvert), I was spinning my wheels, and I felt bad about my parenting because it was going against who I wanted to be...now, I find that I am being pushed to be a more thoughtful parent, and bring more of who I am at the deepest level to my parenting. It feels really good.

Parenting a child with spirit in these early years is a challenge. But I know that I have been given this challenge because I can not only handle it, but I can succeed at it. Spirited children are said to make wonderful teenagers because the qualities that make them a challenge to parent in early life are the same qualities that make the impervious to peer pressure, boast leadership, and create good problem solvers. So that is a major silver lining.

If you are parenting a child with spirit, then you've probably been suspecting that something was up. I cannot recommend this book enough. It is life-altering for parents and children alike. This book really validated some of the things I knew in my heart, but couldn't really wrap my head around, like why my daughter doesn't want to kiss or hug people hello. Now, I don't feel bad for a single second telling people (kindly) to give her a little space. I don't feel like I need to keep comparing why my parenting isn't getting me anywhere because now I have techniques that really ARE working for me. They don't look like what my friends do, but for the most part, they get us at the same place.

Are you parenting a spirited child? Feel free to discuss in the comment section below!!

My First Elderberry Syrup

I have been on a healing health kick this New Year. It's not really a resolution, as I have been pretty homeopathic over the years. I love to make a yearly batch of fire cider (CLICK HERE for recipe), and I have been drinking kombucha for a few months now to heal my gut. With the flu season in full freaking swing, I figured it was time for me to finally take the leap into making elderberry syrup. 

Now, you can buy remade syrup in the store, and I'm sure it's great, but it's expensive. And I'm on a tight budget. So for us, it made more sense to purchase the dried berries on Amazon, and make it myself. I got a whole pound of European elderberries (which are black elderberries), for about $26. You also need a cup of honey for the recipe, so that gets a little pricey because you want to use a high quality, raw honey. But still, it's worth it for the amount you get. 

I used the Wellness Mama recipe, which is pretty popular, and SUPER simple. Basically, you add the elderberries to water with some spices, and simmer it until it reduces. Then you strain it, let it cool a little, add your honey and VIOLA! Elderberry syrup. I used ginger, cinnamon, and whole cloves to flavor mine, and I really liked what the spices added to the final result. 

What I did not expect when I started this little syrup project, was the SMELL. I read up a lot before I made it, and no one warned me about the smell. Let me just be honest when I say, that the boiling berries smelled so gross, that my three year old was literally gagging and asked to leave the kitchen! I was so turned off by the smell I really thought there was going to be no way for me to actually take the syrup once it was made. 

BUT LET ME ASSURE YOU, once you add the honey, and it cools, it's actually pleasant and quite sweet. I am even able to sneak it into my daughter's orange juice and she hasn't complained at all (which is really saying something!) I have been giving her a half teaspoon per day, and I have been taking a full teaspoon. This is basically a preventative dose, and if you come down with a cold, you can take a larger dose a few times a day to help stem the tide of the symptoms. I was pleasantly surprised that the batch was also big enough to share. My mom wanted some for immunity and my mother-in-law is trying some as well because I read it can be good for nerve health. 

These powerful little berries really pack a good punch, and so far, I am really enjoying having the syrup on hand. If you are thinking of making your own, this is the type of homeopathic remedy that seems to have more benefits than drawbacks, and is safe for the whole family. Of course, this blog is not medical advice, and you should always consult a doctor if you have medical questions/conditions. And be sure to do your research--some elderberry varieties are not safe for consumption. 

Italian Wedding Soup {Updated}

I think I am going to have to change my name to "Soup Lady." Recently, a few of the people around me have been in need of care, so I have been breaking out my soup kettle, and doling it out. I never knew how many soups I made, but you know, when you are in need some comfort, nothing gives you nutrients and ease of travel quite like a soup does. Plus, you know, it's winter. And winter and soup are just great pals.

The other day I was in the mood for soup (yet again.) So I busted out this recipe. It's a real people pleaser. It's got little meatballs, and spinach and chicken broth and teeny tiny pasta. What more could you want in life? Worth the mention here: this sucker is dairy free AND Italian-American. For me, that means I am firing on ALL cylinders. This soup checks all the boxes.

Updated: I was making this soup again, and this time I decided that even though salad is a great pair, I wasn't in the mood for another salad this week. So, I decided to pair it with homemade crescent rolls. CLICK HERE for the recipe. Even better? I stuffed a third of them with pesto sauce, and a third of them with pepperoni. Heaven, I tell you, heaven! Of course, you don't have to make them from scratch to enjoy this recipe. You can certainly doctor up some store bought dough! *No shame in that game!*

Italian Wedding Soup 
Time: 30-40 minutes | Serves 6 | Difficulty: Easy 

You Will Need:

1 pound ground meat (I use venison)
1 egg
1/4 cup bread crumbs
6 cloves garlic, minced (2 for the meatballs and 4 for the soup pot)
Dash of onion powder
Pinch of salt
1 onion, diced
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 stalks of celery, sliced
1 package of frozen spinach
1 cup pearled couscous
1 glug of olive oil
2 heaping tablespoons of Better than Bullion chicken base
8 cups water


Preheat oven to LO BROIL.

In a bowl place 2 garlic cloves, breadcrumbs, 1 pound ground meat, 1 egg, onion power, and pinch of salt. Get in there good and mix it up with your hands until fully combined. Roll the meat into small meatballs (about the size of a ping pong ball.) You should get 20-30meatballs depending on how you roll. If you do them super small, you can get 40. I'm not here to tell you how big to make your balls.

Place the meatballs on a greased cookie sheet. Place in the oven for 15-18 minutes or until the meatballs are brown on top. Set aside.

In a big old soup pot, heat your glug of oil. Add your onion, carrots, celery, and garlic. Mix and cook over medium high heat until onions are translucent, about 5-7 minutes.

Next, add your frozen spinach, bullion/base, and water to the pot. Bring it to a boil and then lower heat, covering, and let it simmer about 20 minutes. Add your meatballs into the pot and continue to simmer (covered) until ready to serve. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

When you're nearly ready to serve, prepare your couscous (according to manufacturers directions). In general, pearl couscous ratio is 1 1/4 cups water boiled, which you add 1 cup of couscous to. Allow that to boil for 8-10 minutes.

To serve: put your pearled couscous into the bowl and pour soup over. Top with parmesan cheese and enjoy in good company! <3 Serve with crescent rolls, if desired.

Vegetable Soup with Curry Spices {Recipe}

Well hey, hi, and hello to you all out there in cyber space! I hope you are having a SOUPER New Year. Hehe. I know we sure are. Like, literally. I have eaten so much soup since the start of the New Year, that I actually *almost* got sick of soup. It's one of my favorite foods, and so I tend to make a lot of it.

We had a HUGE snowstorm here in the beginning of January, and everything basically shut down for about six days. In those six days, we ate soup for five meals. From pork belly ramen to chili to ham soup, we covered a lot of bases. But I don't only tend toward meat soups...sometimes I like to take it to the vegan realm. And that's what I did with this soup.

Us in the snow storm! 
When I'm feeling like I need something soothing for my digestion (which, for me, is more often than I would like), a pot of vegan soup can really do the trick. It's got some curry-ish flavors in it, but it's not over the top, just a little something to be different enough from your traditional veggie soup. By now, you all know my propensity for eat-downs by now, right? It's something we do virtually every time we shop in order to save money. So we can go up to 20 days without going back to the grocery store.

The good news about this soup is that it's something you can make with whatever veggies you have on hand, and good staples from your spice rack and pantry. AND, my mother-in-law told me this is ZERO Weight Watcher points, so you can eat it up until you can't eat no more! Also, I didn't add any noodles to this soup, but if you want, throw in some pasta, which would taste great. Okay, here we go!

Vegetable Soup with Curry Spices
Time: 30 ish minutes, more to simmer | Serves: 4-6 | Difficulty: Easy-peasy  

You Will Need:

2 carrots, peeled & chopped
4 celery stalks, chopped
1 medium onion, diced 
4 garlic cloves, sliced or minced (your choice) 
1 large potato, diced
Small knob of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced thinly 
Spinach (whatever you have, I used fresh) 
Cabbage (about a cup, shredded) 
Frozen corn and/or frozen peas, a good handful of each 
1 large can of crushed tomatoes 
5 cups vegetable broth 
1 teaspoon turmeric 
1/4 teaspoon coriander 
two good dashes cardamom 
1/2 teaspoon cumin 
1/2 teaspoon paprika 
1/2 teaspoon salt
fresh ground pepper to taste
Olive oil  


In a soup pot over medium high heat, add your oil. Once the pan is heated, add your carrot, celery, onion, garlic, potato, and ginger. Sauté for about 5-7 minutes or until the onions are becoming translucent. 

Add the rest of your ingredients to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cover, simmering for about 30 minutes to an hour (however long you have). If desired, add some fun, shaped pasta during the last 12 minutes of cooking, but do bear in mind that the pasta may absorb the broth so you may want to add more veggie broth accordingly. 

Serve with buttered crusty bread! 

** Keep in mind that the vegetables I added are mostly what I had on hand. You can add whatever you like to this soup, or omit anything you don't like. Zucchini, squash, green beans, okra, garbanzo beans, or kidney beans would also be delicious in this soup!! 

Have a Bossy Italian Christmas {Fig Cookie Recipe!}

Hey everyone, and a MERRY CHRISTMAS to you all. Can you tell how much my daughter LOVES Santa Claus? It may not seem like it, but this is a MAJOR improvement over last year.

It's been a little while, and I wanted to give you all a little update, along with a killer cookie recipe! We are all doing well in my home, and have been taking things a bit slower this school year. The focus has been on self and family, and I guess you could say we've been hunkering down.

You know what I noticed? I was so busy last year. Too busy. In fact, I was using busy to run from the hush that happens when you slow down and feel your emotions. A lot of us do that dull out the pain, but you know what also happens (besides it doesn't freaking work?) You dull out the joy too. And if it's one thing I LOVE it's JOY!

I have been taking my time to experience some real moments of inner quiet and joy, and it's got me back to the simple things in life that I relish. LIKE COOKING! I know...I haven't posted a recipe in a hot minute. But that doesn't mean I haven't been in my kitchen. I have! In fact, for Christmas Eve, my mom and I made ravioli together, 210 of those hand filled and rolled little suckers!

I am already drooling thinking about eating them...and if you're interested, you can find my posted ravioli recipes HERE and HERE. This time around, we filled our ravioli with meat and mushrooms. I always think of grandma when I make them because it was the last meal I ever made her, and a sweet shared memory for my mom and me.

I have also been baking a gosh-darn storm of cookies! Since sharing is caring, I wanted to share with you all a recipe for my family's fig cookies, called Cucidatis. My Uncle David is the cookie master in our family, but I am also becoming a good baker. I took the base of his recipe and tweaked it for my own purposes. I hope you enjoy it!

Fig Cookies "Cucidati" 

You will need:

1 cup shortening 
1 1/2 cups sugar 
3 eggs 
Dash of salt
4 cups all purpose flour 
3.5 teaspoons baking powder 
1 tablespoon vanilla 
1/2 cup milk (or almond milk) 

9 oz (or a "heavy" cup) of fig spread or preserves 
3/4 cup raisins 
1/2 cup whole almonds
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 
3 teaspoons sugar 
water for blending 

Icing (optional) 
2 cups powdered sugar
two teaspoons of milk or water (until you reach desired consistency) 


In a mixer, cream sugar and shortening together. Add eggs, vanilla, and salt. Add the baking powder and then half the flour, slowly, so you don't throw flour around your entire living space. Mix in the remaining flour by hand. Add the milk in and continue to mix by hand. If you find the dough unworkable, or too dry, add splashes of milk until it gets there. Place your prepared dough in the refrigerator to chill at least a couple of hours, but up to overnight. 

For filling: Using a food processor, add all of your filling ingredients (except water). Blend. Add water as needed to reach a nice consistency that is somewhat like jam. 

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. 

**I would like to note that there are any number of ways to fill your cookies. My mom remembers them as triangles, but frankly, our triangle ones came out looking loopy. I like them to look more like filled pockets. If you can't make sense of my directions for filling, just wing it!**

Prepare your cookies by dividing up your dough into four equal portions. Starting with the first portion, you are going to want to roll out the dough into a basic rectangle, making the dough thin. Place a line of fig filling in the center and then for over the dough to cover the filling. To cut the cookies, measure them one inch and then cut and place them on an uncreased cookie sheet. I think a pizza cutter or a dough scraper work perfectly for this! (Repeat with the remaining dough.) 

Bake in your preheated oven for about 15 minutes and then remove to a cooling rack. 

Once cooled, you can ice them, if desired, and top with sprinkles. Also notable, these cookies freeze really well!!! 

A Little Bit Raped

I was on a walk with a friend a few years ago and we were talking about our respective experiences with sexual assault. This is not an uncommon thing for women to do, I have learned, as we grow and try to process the way we feel about men, ourselves, sexuality, and raising children. The topic turned to recovery from sexual assault, and we began joking a bit to lighten the mood....

"I mean, you can't live in a wounded place," she said. 
"Yes." I agreed...we would all be so depressed all the time. 
I shrugged and said, "Besides, who hasn't been a little bit raped?" 

As crass as it may seem, the current "ME TOO" movement on social media clearly demonstrates that, in fact, most women have been "a little bit raped" and then some. After seeing everyone posting on Facebook, I was reluctant to post it because shame dies hard. I thought about all the people who might be surprised, or who might judge me. What if someone looks at me differently? 

But over the weekend, I attended Margaret Cho's "Fresh off the Bloat" tour, where she has a few jokes about rape and sexual assault. She kind of stops within the show and says that people say you can't joke about rape, but she disagrees. Because if it helps someone else who is out there, who maybe hasn't come to the place where they can tell anyone what has happened to them, then it's worth it to make that joke. I agree with her, and so I posted my "me too." 

Afterward, I cried a little. Because even after all the years that have passed and the healing I have done, admitting that even a strong, mostly self assured person like me has been the victim of sexual assault is hard. And I've had A LOT of therapy. But the stronger voice in me rang out because the bottom line is IT'S NOT MY FAULT. 

There is also something I wanted to say in the context of motherhood and childbirth that I wish that ANYONE would have told me before I had a child. If you've been the victim of any sort of sexual abuse, rape, or assault, then your likelihood of being re-traumatized by the birth experience is higher than other women. Women who suffer birth trauma (or feel traumatized by the experience of birth from this perspective) have higher instances of postpartum depression and anxiety. I wish very much that this was more talked about within the birth community because clearly, the statistics warrant the discussions. 

If you fall into this category, please seriously consider having a discussion with your doctor/midwife/ hospital/support staff so that they can give you the care, respect, and the communication that you need while you are giving birth. I didn't know that I needed to do that and I feel that as a result, I ended up with a wicked case of postpartum anxiety that I couldn't understand. And this is the bit where I think society misses the boat...

When something happens to a woman and her body without her consent, it doesn't just happen that one time. It creates a situation where she is more likely to be abused again, re-traumatized through circumstances, and her psychological health may suffer throughout her lifetime. I know that there are many women out there who haven't reported what happened to them, who haven't talked about it, and who function in a scared place. I want you to know it's okay to come out, and to come to a place where you realize that whatever has happened to you was NOT your fault.