The Skype Baby Shower

I didn't want to participate when my mother suggested a Skype baby shower for my brother and his fiancee. I thought it was stupid, hands down. I figured that since they were living so far away and we couldn't swing the shower, we would just send gifts... which is a polite way to say that I thought I was off the hook for the shower thing.

The thing about showers is that they are, well, by nature, a little hard for me to get through. It's not that I'm not happy about the expecting mother's bundle of joy--I am. It's just that showers, as a concept, are difficult if they aren't done right. There are good ones and bad ones and a Skype shower sounds like the dregs of forced interactions.

So I didn't RSVP. I told my brother's fiancee that I wasn't coming months in advance when first the idea came about. But when my mother pleaded with me to go, I just couldn't say no--especially since both my mother in law and sister in law were going. It would really make me look like a bad family member. I resigned myself to going and signed up to make the blue donuts for the party favors.

Blue donuts in hand, I arrived early, put together the party favors, and helped my mom set out everything. The bloody mary didn't hurt, either. And then my brother's fiancee's family arrived. I don't know what I was expecting; maybe I thought just her dad and brother would be coming. But it was the whole lot of them-- her grandmother, her aunts and uncles, her brother, her dad, and her dad's girlfriend.

They brought deviled eggs, and amish breads, and sodas. They brought tiny tarts and lunch meats and cheese and rolls. They brought a lot of love with them right through the door, and then it hit me that these people were becoming my family as soon as that baby was born. And with that thought lingering in the air, we all sat down in front of my mother's television, which she had fitted to Skype.

When they came up on the screen, there was barely a dry eye in the room. My brother's fiancee had a big belly and the two of them looked so happy when they saw the big lot of their families smiling back at them. My mom made a video of them as children and we all watched it together. Since we had all sent our gifts down ahead of time, we watched as they opened each one, and my brother kept a list for thank you notes. Then they gave us a Skype tour of their home. Then we each got a moment to talk with them via Skype. It was the first time I had seen--actually seen--my brother in over a year. Even I was surprised at how much emotion I felt at seeing them and being a part of their baby shower.

It was an amazing baby shower, and a truly innovative idea. There we all were--my family and my soon to be sister in law's family--united under one roof, celebrating like they were there because they practically were. We got to be a part of it. I had thought it so silly, but I realized that it was really special that we had the ability to have a shower with them. It made them feel so not alone all far away.

It's entirely astounding what the computer can do. Technology has a propensity to divide people and make us tune out behind screens, but this day, it brought two families together to become one and share in the joy of a new baby boy. If you live far away from a loved one who is having a baby, this is the perfect way to use Skype to be a part of their special occasion, and I highly recommend it. It's just another way, with the help of technology, that big old world can become a little smaller. 

Bossy Italian Book Review: Game of Thrones

Now a popular HBO Series, I decided to go old school on it and read the book instead... after the Hunger Games Series, I was looking for something to sink my teeth into. Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin fit the bill. Allow me to set the stage...

It's a time that could either be in times past or times forward--a timeless time--where the Seven Kingdoms were won over and Robert sits on the throne. It begins with the House of Stark. The master of the house, Lord Eddnard Stark [Ned Stark] receives word the king, his friend Robert, is coming to visit Winterfell, one of the northern-most territories of the Seven Kingdoms and it all unfolds from there.

Gritty, at times shocking, and lusty, the book doesn't roll along in chapters, but instead, perspectives. I loved this point. There are more than enough characters to go around... Ned's children make for an interesting set, along with his wife. Then there are the Lannisters, whose family married into power--the king's wife Cersei is a great character you love to hate, right off the bat.

This book has it ALL. Blood, war, feasting, sex--oh the sex! It's as salacious as it is just downright wrong at times....but I ate up every sexy word. And I downloaded the second book just as fast as my little fingers would click the buttons! I also loved the different imagery that each household evoked--they have their own animals that fly on their banners... and of course, I loved the Stark's the best: The Direwolf. The direwolf represented to me all of the wild and wonderful things the Stark family stands for, and you can find out why when you read!

I could see how this book would easily translate to the screen; the writing is so descriptive and because it's not narrated by a single character, there isn't a lot that can be left to the wayside for that reason. I have heard that some take issue with the portrayal of women in the book; some people felt that it was womanizing, and I can hear that, but c'mon people, it's a story and there is a certain tone and effect that the author is going for. I would consider myself a feminist, but I didn't feel offended by any of the portrayals of the women in the book, and I rather liked most of the women in the book for that matter.

This book requires an imagination and a hunger for entertainment. It's not for the faint of heart, let's put it that way... there are some chapters that get pretty graphic. If you like that sort of thing, though, you'll love this first book in the series. It's nice and long so that makes for great entertainment, and you can pick it up cheap for your Kindle--always a great selling point for me, personally. 

Quick Fix: Tomato Paste Trick

Today instead of a recipe, I wanted to help you fix something. This post will change your life, of that I am sure. Because what is more annoying than tomato paste? It's an essential ingredient for the Italian home chef. It is also the cause of a lot frustration... you know what I am talking about, right? You take the lid off that tiny can and you scrape. And scrape. And scrape....

And yet, that tomato paste just refuses to come out in sum total, making you wonder if it's all a scam to get you to buy more tomato paste than you really need... then you reach for the water to swish in the can to get the remaining paste out. But it's just so darn thick! Inevitably, there is paste left in the can.

No more. That's right, say it with me: NO MORE!

Never again will you suffer this tomato paste fate because my grandmother has given me the solution... the holy grail of getting ALL the paste out of the can. For this, I am eternally in her debt. Best of all? This is simple--amazingly so! Ready?

Take your can of paste. Remove the top, as you normally would.... and then: 


Look how it all came out! 

Are you as impressed as I am?! It's awesome. So simple--so easy! 

It's my ah-ha moment!!! 

BIW Versus Big Girl Panties

I have often heard it said... heck, maybe it was me who said it... that you have to "put on your big girl panties and [insert whatever you want here]." The other day, though, I was watching television when I heard this saying, and I found myself wondering, what exactly are big girl panties?

Are they thongs? Like, when I was teenager, I remember saving up money to buy thongs because those seemed to me like big girl panties. Being a big girl meant being sexy, cool, and woman enough to put a piece of cloth between my butt cheeks. Sure, it was uncomfortable at first, but once you got used to it, you barely noticed anymore.... right?

Now that I am nearly 10 years into my supposed adulthood, I was left wondering if perhaps the thongs weren't the big girl panties... maybe those grannie panties--you know, the ones with the comfortable backs that go waaaay beyond the cheeks--might be the actual big girl panties. Maybe you aren't a big girl at all until you've gone past the thong into the g-string and well beyond into grannie pantie territory.

Perhaps as a true "big girl" you become so secure in your womanhood that you don't even need thongs--you skip straight from grannie pantie to nakedness and your authority is implied. But then my husband offered another scenario I had not even considered: what if the big girl pantie isn't a pantie at all? What if it is beyond pantie into the land of Depends?!

That's right, I said it. What if you truly aren't a big girl until you've been through all the stages of pantie and moved beyond the cloth to the land of unabashed self deification...and it's fancy. Because now they make Depends so fancy no one can even tell you've leaked on yourself. You can do it under your Red Carpet dress. Is that not a real "big girl" pantie if ever their was one?

I am not sure. I have put on thongs. I have been a wearer of the g-string. I have grannie panties, but on the subject of Depends, I cannot speak. I recalled momentarily the astronaut woman who stalked her lover halfway across the country and sought to kill his lover... she put on her proverbial "big girl" panties for the occasion--astronaut diapers--so she could drive all night without having to stop to use the bathroom. Is that the meaning of big girl panties?

Have I put on my big girl panties? Not in the sense of the aforementioned scorned lover.... But, I guess I will have to wait that one out to see if another situation will call for bigger panties. Until then, I will continue to don my Betsy Johnson fancy panties, and I will tuck away the thoughts of big girl panties until later time when perhaps, I will feel the need to put them on. I only hope that when that time arrives, I will know which pair to reach for exactly. 

The Engagement Ultimatum

Love should be fun!
Photo by Andrew Einhorn 

I write a lot about marriage, and relationships for that matter. I have railed about the difference between a marriage and a wedding, and I have talked about what makes a good spouse. But before you can really get to any of that, there is another issue that we ladies struggle with: the engagement ultimatum. It’s sort of the dirty little secret of women, if you will. Many of us want to throw down the ultimatum, but we don’t want to talk about it because, frankly, it’s embarrassing.

Let’s paint the picture, shall we? You’ve been with a guy for, say, about four years. You’ve lived together just as long. You have basically joined your lives together--maybe you even share a bank account--and yet, no ring. You have tried to ask him about it, he’s stonewalled you. You have gotten drunk and cried to him about it, and he carries you to bed, tucks you in and offers no explanation.

The picture I have painted? My own! I was with my husband for five years before he proposed to me, and I was desperate to get married to him. I knew that I wanted to be with him forever...and I was perplexed by the fact that he didn’t want to put a ring on my finger and make our love official for everyone to see. When I had nearly reached the height of my frustration on the issue, several people asked me, “Will you leave him if he doesn't marry you?”

That was my wake up call.

There are many women who throw down the marriage ultimatum of “if you don’t propose to me, I’m going to leave you.” But when the question was posed to me, as eager as I might have been for a marital commitment, the LAST thing I wanted was to be without the man I loved. When I began to look at the relationship with him in that context, I began to see that what I was looking for was permanence...but marriage, I realized, is no guarantee of that!  Marriages dissolve all the time. What I wanted was love, deep and real love, and after all those years, isn’t that what I already had?

So off I went to the one place experience had taught me could help me: therapy. No shame in my game. I knew I had a choice: either get over the marriage question and be happy with what I had, or ruin my relationship trying to wrap my head around why I wasn’t married. Instead of focusing on the lack of “engagement” in my life, I started to see that what I had with my then-boyfriend was perhaps a little unconventional, but nonetheless awesome.

If you are lucky enough to be in love, then you are lucky enough. Once I let go of the expectation of marriage, only then did our relationship really skyrocket--it became a different kind of love between us, and a new kind of happiness--one without the pressure of marriage looming over our heads. And that was when it happened--he proposed to me. Five years, three dogs, and two cats later, he proposed.

The best part of being engaged, for me, was knowing that it wasn’t coerced; I didn’t force him into something he wasn’t ready to do. I knew that he asked me to marry him because he wanted to and it came straight from the heart. Everyone gets to the places in their hearts at different times....

Some people are ready for big steps before others. In my case, I knew I was ready for marriage before he did, and that was okay, but I needed to give him space to make his own decision. A marriage is a partnership between two loving, consenting adults. Giving an ultimatum for marriage immediately takes away the joy of having your partner get down on one knee and ask for your hand. It diminishes the magic of the moment.

Life shouldn’t be a series of decisions based on a series of ultimatums. If you are thinking of taking of hike on your man if he doesn’t propose, then you should probably should pack your stuff and go; if you don’t love them enough to wait, then you certainly don’t love them enough to fill a lifetime. As for the unlucky partner who gets the ultimatum laid down on them? There is nothing cool about another person bullying you into something you aren’t ready for... plain and simple.

Mini Cherry Cheesecakes

Everything is better in miniature, right? Everyone gets their own serving and then you don't have to share. I like that. You know what's even better than not sharing your dessert? Not feeling guilty about it because the filling is fat free Jell-o!

I'm not always a purist when it comes to "make it yourself." Heck, sometimes you just have to go with easy and FUN! That's what this dessert is--it's easy, it's fun and guilt free with a side of YUM! I hope you will enjoy making it as well as eating it because I know I sure did!

This is also one that you can make ahead, so if you have a dinner party (or dessert party!) you can make them ahead of time, pop them in the fridge and call it a day. Also easily transportable. Are you sold yet? Yea, I thought I had you at miniature, but I wanted to seal the deal!

Oh and did I mention, it's only four ingredients? Four. Ingredients. There is a god. 

Let's talk about Jiffy crust. It's my favorite. Inexpensive and easy to make is just my style so Jiffy it is. I use it for all sorts of pot pies, regular pies, and quiches. 

Just follow the directions on the package and roll it out on some all purpose flour! If Jiffy crust isn't quite your style, just purchase some pre made crust... no one will know the difference. 

I used a mini pie crust cutter to cut these out, but you could use a glass or just free hand it if you're feeling bold! 

Six mini crusts. A note here: you'll notice that I did not use those cupcake foils. I wish I had. If you do, this will be easier. If you don't, it's not impossible, so fear not. 

Pop these in the oven and let em get all pie like. 

In the meantime, we're going to mix it up... the Jell-o that is. Every time I make Jell-o I think of Bill Cosby--"You know, pudding!" 

Let it sit for 5 minutes to thicken and get all magical 

When your pie shells are done let them cool a little while in the muffin pan and then invert them on a rack to let them cool completely (which takes about 5 more minutes). Two words: cupcake foils. With cupcake foils you could skip this inversion nonsense. Just sayin', 

Anyway, once your shells have cooled their heels and your pudding has gotten all thick and wonderfully magical, you are ready to fill those shells!! Be generous. You want them to overflow into the mouth of your lucky recipient. 

Add your cherry pie on top.... 

And marvel at your ability to make dessert! 

You are the master of the tiny cheesecake universe. With cherries on top. 

Mini Cherry Cheesecakes 

Time: 30 minutes | Serves 6 | Difficulty: Easy [as pie] 
You Will Need:

1 package of Jiffy Crust + all purpose flour for sprinkling
1 package of Jell-o pudding, cheesecake flavored (I went fat free)
Cherry Pie filling (a small can will do)
1 3/4 cups milk


Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Prepare the Jiffy crust according to manufacturer's directions. Roll out the crust and cut 6 circle shapes to fit into muffin pan. Line muffin pan with cupcake foils (optional).

Place the crust into the muffin pan and place the mini crusts into the oven for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix the Jell-o and milk in a medium mixing bowl and using a small wire whisk, whip 2 minutes or until it begins to thicken. Set aside and let it rest for 5 minutes.

When your shells are done in the oven, let them sit for 5 minutes to cool in the pan. After the five minutes remove them from the muffin pan and let them cool completely. If you didn't use the cupcake foils, gently invert them on a wire rack.

Fill with pudding and top with cherry pie filling and place in the fridge until you are ready to serve them!

Yay! That was easy, right?! 

The Lower Libido Wins

Longterm relationships, what a journey, right? It’s crazy how things seems to ebb and flow. It was a phenomenon my mother always warned me about... and how true it becomes in the face of years!

There is an especially funny one that happens in my house in the ebb and flow department and it’s the argument of daily sex. Of course, it’s always the best ever ever thing when both the hubby and I line up on the issue, and more often than not, we seem to. But then again, there are times when don’t.

Our marital sexual philosophy is to strive to have daily sex. To some of you this may seem crazy. If your goal isn’t quite as ambitious as ours, don’t worry, everyone’s libido is different... and like I said we “strive” for this. At times we knock it out of the park, sometimes we get pretty close, other times, we miss the mark completely.

When we miss the mark, it’s likely one or the other of us makes grievance with the other. I was talking with a girlfriend and we were laughing, as women tend to do ,when making light of sex. We were joking about how we should just be sex machines all the time and then she says suddenly, “Well you know, the person with the lower libido always wins!”

Oh. My. God. Lightbulb moment! For how true it is that the person in the relationship with the lower libido always DOES win--even if it’s only by default. Because in a loving relationship you aren’t going force the other to bend to your sexual desires, and so they win... ugh! They win!!!

At times I am the culprit--the one winning by default in the frequency department--other times it’s my husband. The question is, how does the one who is feeling the grips of lowered libido pull themselves back up to a sexual homeostasis that both partners enjoy?

First off, you have to know your goal. Obviously you already know mine, but you need to set your own with your partner. That’s number one. Naming a sex goal for yourself and your partner also opens communication about sex, which for me, is the key. You have to have open lines of communication when it comes to sex because both verbal and nonverbal communication are what will ultimately lead to the most pleasure.

Secondly, when you are feeling a little low energy, which can lead to a lower frequency of sex, it’s always best to get back in touch with your sexual energy and what really turns you on. That’s when I suggest a foreplay only session to get you back in the mood. Give yourself (and/or your partner) something to linger over; something to get you back into that sexual feeling.

Then strive to reach your goal! When you feel like it’d be easier to tune out on the television instead of sliding between the sheets, push yourself to say yes instead and then don’t just go through the motions--really get yourself into it. There is a great book about the subject, too, called Just Do It. I really enjoyed the book and I highly recommend it for any couple!

Because winning by default... well, what’s the fun in that?

Bossy Italian Book Review: Garlic And Sapphires

Ruth Reichl's books never disappoint, but this one was my favorite so far. Her tenacity is ever-present, but in new and exciting ways as she takes on the biggest job of her life: Restaurant Critic for the New York Times. When the book starts, she doesn't want the job and so she goes haughtily through the interview as if to flub the thing... she's amazing and so she gets the job anyway, and off her family goes to the big Apple--her hometown!

It was clear she had big shoes to fill, but she was determined to get to work and bring herself to the table. What is funny, then, is that in the process she decides to take on a number of other personalities, quite literally. As the Times critic, she quickly became the most recognizable face in the restaurant world, and so she devised a plan to disguise herself as different people.

This is perhaps what makes the book so interesting... the disguises are diverse, interesting, and VERY entertaining. But Ruth is ever-present in the book, even through the disguises she dons, and it isn't long before she realizes what had kept her heart from wanting the job in the first place: she didn't want to become that person. The one she fears the most--the critic that no one wants to be around--the tool of the industry.

It's funny, though, how when you are seeking to become your version of a dream, you can sometimes turn into the exact opposite, and her honesty in this regard is refreshing and reassuring. Her voice remains true, and her mission steadfast.

One criticism, though, the formatting for Kindle on this book was Awful (with a capitol A). There were misspellings. There were paragraphs that became confusing. Sometimes I thought a chapter ended and yet, no, it was not even close to over. There were quotation marks missing everywhere! Luckily these points didn't ruin the book for me because I was determined not to let it. And by the time you get to the third book, you're likely hooked anyway.

All in all, this was a great book. I loved watching the progression over the three books and I am still hooked enough to read the fourth book. Ruth Reichl's language is delicious and her stories are filled with colorful characters who enchant you along the way! And, of course, you must read to see what she decides....will she stay at the Times? Will she leave? I'll never tell! 

Quick Fix: Panna Cotta

It's Friday once again and you know what that means: it's time for another great quick fix! This one happens to be extra special. Some of you might not be familiar with panna cotta, or you might think, as I did, that it sounds all fancy and therefore incredibly hard. Fear not, simple ingredients make for a decadent Italian dessert!

Panna cotta is a custard-like dessert with a cream base. It basically means sweet cream. Up until Valentine's Day, I had been intimidated to make panna cotta because I thought it sounded hard. Then I read a recipe that said if you spend more than five minutes making panna cotta, well, then you've spent too long! Now that I could do! I have yet to meet a person who doesn't like panna cotta, making this a great one to make for dinner parties--and might I add you can make it well ahead of time as well.

I have been working on my recipe a while, and now I am going to share it with you! And don't worry because we'll also be building on this one in the future with a little white chocolate later on! But for now, impress the heck out of your friends and family with this week's quick fix!

I was making a double batch this day and, as you will see, this recipe doubles very nicely for larger dinner parties!

I like to use an assortment of fancy glasses. I got these at the thrift store for a grand total of $3. Pretty awesome! You can also use little mason jars, which give a nice rustic feel. 

You have probably often passed unflavored gelatine in your grocery, but have you ever used it? Well now is your chance! Put it in a big measuring cup. I use a measuring cup because then when you pour it in your dessert cups, it's all easy and stuff. 

Add 2 tablespoons cold tap water to your gelatine, and mix it a bit. Set aside. 

Put your sugar in a saucepan.... 

Add heavy cream and heat it until the sugar dissolves. The trick is not to let the cream boil. So you want to heat it on a low heat. My first time I made panna  cotta, I did on low just to be sure the cream didn't heat too much or too fast. Now I can roll on medium low. 

Add your warm cream to your gelatine, throw in a little vanilla extract and mix until the gelatine dissolves. 

Pour into your dessert cups and refrigerate for about 3 hours or until the mixture has set. You can also refrigerate them overnight if you want to make them ahead. I think they stay good about 3 or so days in the fridge. 

Top with your choice of berries and serve! SO EASY! 

Panna Cotta 

Time: 10 minutes + time to chill in the fridge | Serves 4 | Difficulty: EASY! 

You Will Need: 

2 cups heavy whipping cream
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
1 packet gelatine 
2 tablespoons water 

Berries for garnishing, your choice 


Place your packet of gelatine in a bowl or measuring cup and sprinkle with the water, combining a bit with a spoon. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and cream. Place over medium low heat. You can also go lower on the heat if it's your first time to be on the safe side, it will just take a tad longer. You want to warm the cream and dissolve the sugar but do not allow the cream to boil. This should take about 5 minutes, longer on lower heat.

Once the cream is warm and the sugar dissolved, pour the mixture over the gelatine. Add your vanilla extract and stir the mixture until the gelatine has dissolved, pushing it against the sides of the measuring cup to combine, if necessary.

Pour your cream mixture into the serving cups and place in the refrigerator for 3 hours, or overnight.

Garnish with berries and serve chilled! YUM! 

Stuff I Use: Webber Poultry Roaster

I have roasted many a chicken many a way. Of course, I started out roasting the traditional way, with a roasting pan and placing the chicken on a rack in the pan. It works well enough.... then there's the Julia Child way, again on the roasting pan and paying meticulous attention to the bird, flipping it to and fro until it's reached golden perfection. It's exhausting, I assure you, but also worth if you are in the mood to impress.

Then I switched gears and began cooking my birds in a cast iron skillet with no rack on the bottom as outlined by Buddy Valastro. This was much easier, and allows you to roast your bird on a higher temperature for a shorter amount of time. It works quite well and I was pretty impressed with the method, overall.

Shortly after I had begin this type of roasting, I was introduced to yet another method of roasting. For Christmas, a friend of mine gifted us a Webber Poultry Roaster, presumably to go with the Webber grill he gifted us for our wedding (which, by the way, is an excellent grill!) The roaster also translates to the oven, and I couldn't wait to give it a whirl. At first, I was a little puzzled by the contraption... mostly because the bird sits on it, quite literally, making it look like eerily humanoid.

Here is the basic set up of the roaster, minus the pronged thingy that holds the bird (which goes on top of that cup part). The cup part can be filled with marinade... and the contraption comes with a recipe booklet too! I did a white wine rosemary marinade. The outer pan catches those goooood drippin' juices! 

See what I mean about the bird sitting up? It got me a little weirded out. Like, it's sitting there and it actually looks like it has arms..... 

But it came out looking golden as ever, and the effort exerted in the process? Well, not much! I was really impressed because the skin was crispy, the meat was juicy and the marinade was PERFECT! 

The Webber Poultry Roaster is definitely one product I recommend. It gives your bird that golden skin and cooks it on all sides because of it's freaking sitting thing it does. I can't wait to use it on my grill this summer, but I LOVE that it also is oven friendly because if you are into roasting, well, this is the bee's knees! 

BIW Versus The Body Ideal

There are some things I want you, dear reader, to know.  I go back and fourth between a size 6 and size 8. I believe I weigh somewhere between 128-133 pounds. I stopped weighing myself last year because I got sick of looking at the scale. I am 4' 11" tall when I wake up and I am probably shorter than that when I go to bed. I LOVE MY BODY. I think I look good.

I eat what I like and I enjoy every, single bite of food. I exercise, not to stay in shape, but because it makes me feel good and I am crazy about Zumba. Sometimes I skip exercising so that I can lay in bed and read while sipping coffee with lots of creamer in it. My husband thinks I am beautiful, but I know he wouldn't think I look as good as I do if I didn't feel that way myself first.

Another confession: I feel upset a lot about the way that women participate in the perpetuation of shaming other women for their looks. It bothers me. Sure, I could sit here and argue about how the media is victimizing us--and it is (and you can read Ashley Judd's take on that here.) But that is not really where I want to shift my focus because I am not under the impression that I am really going to make a dent in the mass media's portrayal of perfect. Not today, anyway.

What I want to talk about is your participation in it. Yes, you, whoever you are, reading this blog post somewhere in the blogosphere. I want to ask you when the last time you participated in it was. When was the last time you looked at someone on television, on the street, or anywhere at all and thought that she looked fat or ugly? I'll go first:

Hillary Duff. I saw a picture of her in US Weekly and I thought she looked bigger than she normally does. Then I remembered she just had a baby, and I thought she looked good for just having a baby. Then my thoughts wandered to why in the hell a women who just had a baby 10 days prior was out shopping and getting her hair did. Then I felt bad for her having to be photographed as she did all these things post-baby. I hope that somewhere today she is sitting at home and saying, "I love my body. I think I look good."

Now you. Confess to yourself [secretly] the last time you did this.  Keep in mind, lots of women are participating in it even at this very second. Hell, you could be looking to the right at my picture and thinking that I could do with eating a little less risotto for all I know. The point is that this behavior has become so ingrained than we all do it without even thinking about it, and that has got to stop. We should feel badly about it, yet because we use it as a social mechanism, we don't. How sick is that?

People are much more than our physical appearances--good or bad--would give us credit for, but  no matter what you look like, isn't that beautiful? Who's to say it isn't, really? The only way for us to slay the proverbial dragon is to stop allowing these thoughts to pervade us. We've got to reject what society tells us and just be ourselves. Stop crash dieting. Stop engaging in that conversation your friend is trying to drag you into about how so-and-so looks bad. Take risks. Take fashion risks. And most of all, when people say to you that you aren't good enough, don't listen to them. They suck.

I want all women to feel about their bodies the way I feel about my body. I want to participate in perpetuating women to feel empowered about their bodies so that their minds can follow. Some of you may know that this is always been a part of my mission as a writer and a human being. We should all be able to see the beauty in ourselves as well as in others. Our ideas of what beauty is should be much more vast than they currently are, as a whole.

I know that my opinion on this is shared by many women who are sick of being shamed by the media, by society, and by the ridiculous standards that hardly any of us are able to reach. I don't ask a lot from my readers, but today I am asking you to participate in this discussion with me. Repost this blog, use the comments section below to speak about your experiences on the subject (for better or worse), and let's get talking about this important issue. Celebrate yourself, your body, and your out of the box features because our uniqueness is truly what makes us beautiful.


Chicken Corn Chowder Recipe

I am a soup fan. Soup warms my soul and makes me happy from the inside out. Springtime can be a fickle time weather wise, and therefore a great time to warm yourself with a nice cup of soup. Chicken corn chowder is one I have been making a lot lately because my husband also loves it. (He's a corn fan.)

This makes a great lunch soup, or pairs well for dinner with a nice salad or hot rolls. You can also make this soup a day or two ahead and let it sit to bring out even more flavor--isn't make ahead stuff great??

This recipe is a great way to use up leftover chicken, too, which is what also makes it rather easy to execute, in my opinion. So saddle up for a great chowder that will please your whole family and make you look like a chowder rock star!

Here. We. Go! 

A nice mix of ingredients, but not too many so you won't feel overwhelmed

Some diced onion.... 

And potatoes. I like to cut my small but also uniformly and about the same size as the onions. They will all cook evenly if they are sized the same and that is important. 

Put the onions and potatoes into a pot.... 
What do you think I used to cook the potatoes and onions? If you guessed bacon fat you were right! Of course, you can substitute butter or olive oil, depending on your preference. 

You are going to cook these about 5-7 minutes to soften 'em up a bit. 

Secret weapon? Old Bay and a heaping teaspoon of it will give this soup a kick in the pants!  

Also in the arsenal? A new friend, Sazon seasoning. My Uncle David introduced me, and I like it quite a lot. One packet, sprinkled in with your Old Bay right over those taters. 

After adding a little thyme and pepper, she'll be looking mighty nice! 

Of course, it's a chowder (pronounced chow-da!) so you want to add the flour to thicken the broth. 2 tablespoons of all purpose will do the trick. Make sure to stir it well. 

Then it's time for the broth. Sometimes I make my own, but this day I didn't. 

You'll want to bring it all to a boil at this point. 

Then you add your chicken and corn. You can use fresh corn or frozen corn--makes no difference. Likewise you can use leftover chicken or you can make your chicken fresh. I've done it both ways, and the taste is about the same if you ask me! 

Lastly, you reduce the heat to a simmer and add your cream. 

Cover the soup, and allow it to cook an hour or until you are ready to serve it.  

Don't forget to always taste and adjust seasonings before you serve... a pinch of pepper here, a dash of salt there, and you're on your way! 


Chicken Corn Chowder 

Time: 40 min. + 1 hour cook time | Serves: 4 | Difficulty: Medium 

You Will Need

1 cup heavy whipping cream 
1 heaping tablespoon bacon fat (or butter) 
1 medium onion, diced 
4 small red potatoes, diced 
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning 
1 packet of Sazon seasoning 
2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only 
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups cooked chicken, diced 
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn 


Measure out your whipping cream and set aside. 

In a large soup pot, melt bacon fat (or butter) over medium high heat. When melted, add the diced onion and the potato. 

Cook the onion and potato for 5-7 minutes, stirring often to avoid sticking and/or burning. 

Add the Old Bay, Sazon packet, thyme, and several dashes of pepper to the onions and potato. Stir to combine. 

Add the flour and stir again. 

Pour the chicken broth into the pot, stir to combine and bring to a boil. 

Add the corn and chicken. Reduce heat to simmer. 

Add the cream and stir. 

Cover and allow to cook for at least 1 hour, or until ready to serve. You can also let it cook an hour and then remove from the stove to cool. Once the soup has come to room temperature, refrigerate it. Tastes great the next day!!! 


No Sex, Just Pleasure

Go back to a time in your imagination, if you will. A time before you had sex. I know, maybe it’s been a while, but try. Remember having your first serious boyfriend or girlfriend... in the time where hand jobs and oral sex ruled the day because there was no intercourse on the menu.

Sure, inevitably, when you had sex, you couldn’t believe you had been missing out on the pleasure of it all that time--well, that is how I felt, anyway. But a time before I had sex was also a sweet time, filled with intimacy and longing.... it was a sexy time. It’s a time I like to revisit every now and again as a married woman.

Well, not really the no sex part, don’t get me wrong. I love my sex. It’s just that so often, as adults, we have a tendency in longterm relationships to rush through the foreplay and get to the main course: the intercourse. Life gets busy. We have so many other commitments and everyone does, in fact, seem to be a big rush all the time. And that is fine; but, there are times when a couple needs to forget about the sex and just go for the pleasure.

Think about it: when is the last time you and your partner both reached orgasm WITHOUT sex? There are lots and lots of ways to pleasure your partner, after all. For some couples this might be a challenge, but keep in mind, it’s also the fun type of challenge that can build intimacy between two partners. The task of foreplay implores you to really get in touch with what your partner likes and doesn’t like. And let’s face it, those likes and dislikes can change over time... when was the last time you checked in?

Foreplay only sessions require you to tap into your real desires of touch and communication... and it makes you more aware--acutely so--of the things you might have been missing in the foreplay department. There are likely whole areas of your partner’s body you might have been ignoring... or a whole section of foreplay you might be rediscovering. For instance, back rubs.

I am freaking over the moon about back rubs. I love them. It is the sure-fire way to get me in the mood at a moment’s notice. I can be tired, run down, and totally not in the mood, but one back rub from my honey and life is sexy again. And everyone has their thing: maybe yours is a hot bath or that special place behind your neck. Whatever floats your boat. Lots of guys like blow jobs.... that’s cool.

The point is, getting back to basics, if you will, leads to greater intimacy between you and yours as well as allowing you to concentrate on the other person in a new way. And let’s face it, in a longterm relationship, there is always room for a little shake up.

So the next time you find yourself with a free afternoon, evening or morning, why not take some time to get between the sheets and experience one another through foreplay only?

Bossy Italian Book Review: Mockingjay

Totally. Obsessed. These are the only words I can seem to find after finishing the Hunger Games series. I read this final book in the series in less than 24 hours. I am surprised I found time to eat, sleep, or do anything other than read in those short hours because I just couldn't put the book down. The author, Suzanne Collins, in my estimation, is a genius.

The final book once again draws on the brilliant writing, intricately woven over three fabulous books.The final battle for the Capitol begins and it's all more confusing than ever. Peeta has been captured by President Snow and Katniss is fighting with the rebels.... there was no telling who anyone could trust in the third and final book. Sweet reunions revert to bitter gaul and there are surprises right up until the very end of the book.

Poor Katniss. Poor Peeta. Poor Gale. There is enough angst to go around for every character in the book, really. There are so many shockers in this book, which after as far as we have come in the series, is slightly hard to believe. That is the brilliance of it all. Right at the end, even, as you think it's all come to a head--you haven't any idea!

Katniss is still the reluctant leader that she has always been and it only gets worse for her as the book comes to a close; in the end, is there peace? Well, that is a relative term in the face of revolution, isn't it? Only the reader can decide if the ending is satisfactory. For me, it was closure that was realistic and somehow comforting... though it was also disturbing when all the facts come to light. Is this really the nature of human beings? Not just some fantastical view of the world through literary eyes, but could this be the nature of things? I am, unfortunately, inclined to say that the series smacks of more reality than fable in this regard. But the glimmer of hope is that we all have a choice; we can be mockingjays or we can be like those in Capitol who obey out of fear.

I am left wondering at the end of it all, will Suzanne Collins revisit the world of Panem.... because I don't want to let it go. I haven't encountered a series like this probably ever in my life. It was so awesome. Everyone should read it. Don't think... just buy it and read it and then pass it on to anyone you know because they would be hard pressed not to enjoy this series!

Quick Fix: Italian Lunchmeat Melt

It's Friday--the 13th. And I know that you are busy avoiding ladders and black cats. That is why I wanted to bring you a quick fix for lunch that is fool-proof. On a day such as this, there is enough superstition to go around, but I want to help make life a little easier.

Worry not! Lunch is covered! It's a sandwich, and a hot one at that! Who could possibly resist this Italian hybrid??? Not me, that's for sure! Did I also mention, this is a great alternative to frying your sandwich?

Do you own one of these brushes? Well you should! They are incredibly useful (and it's cute, too). Today, you will use it to brush a bit of olive oil on your pieces of bread. 

Place your oiled bread on a sheet pan. Then top one side with salami and cheddar, and the other with pepperoni and jarlsberg. 

Let's be clear that these cheeses are completely negotiable. You can use whatever you want. The meats? Well, you can change those out, but this is a winning combination, if you ask me. 

Toast this lovely combo in the oven on a LO Broil for 5-7 minutes until it looks like the above picture. 

Something I love: that the bread stays all warm and under-toasted. If you prefer your bread toasted, that is a simple fix: just go ahead and toast it on a rack instead of a pan. I like soft, warm bread. 

Put the two halves together. 

Put it on a plate with a pickle.... 

Slice and enjoy! 
(slicing is optional, especially if you are avoiding knives because it's Friday the 13th) 

Time: 10 minutes | Serves 1 | Difficulty: Easy! 
You will need:

4 slices of pepperoni
4 slices of salami
2 slices of bread (any kind will do!)
2 slices of cheddar
grated jarlsberg to cover meat
a bit of olive oil


Brush slices of bread with olive oil and place them olive oil side down a sheet pan.

On one piece of bread place your salami and cheddar cheese. On the other, the pepperoni and jarlsberg.

Place the sheet pan in the oven on a LO Broil for 5-7 minutes or until cheese is melty (I also like mine a little crispy, but, hey, it's your sandwich!)

Take it out and put the pieces of bread together. Place on a plate and then slice.

Serve with a pickle!!!! Enjoy!