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Monday, December 1, 2014

Hello December

This is what this tumble of gratitude into December feels like to me. Pure stunning magic. I almost forget how big it feels but then I see my kids light up at the unveiling of each decoration, no matter how small. It is all magic to them in this sweet spot we are in, where the belief is so strong that it trumps every doubt. This is my favorite. Please let me not get so caught up in the wildness of it all that I lose sight of how beautiful it all just is. 

Photo: This is what this tumble of gratitude into December feels like to me. Pure stunning magic. I almost forget how big it feels but then I see my kids light up at the unveiling of each decoration, no matter how small. It is all magic to them in this sweet spot we are in, where the belief is so strong that it trumps every doubt. This is my favorite. Please let me not get so caught up in the wildness of it all that I lose sight of how beautiful it all just is. #sweetdecember

Friday, November 21, 2014

Happy Friendsgiving (Overnight) Turkey Recipe

Oh snap... Thanksgiving is next week kids. 

My favorite part of this holiday are the gratitude (of course), wine (obviously) and the side dishes (mmmmmmashed potatoes). My husband's favorite though is the turkey. So much that we even host a Friendsgiving on the first football Sunday of the year, when we Redskins fans are so full of hope once more that we invite friends over to toast the potential together. So just because I don't eat it (I'm a vegetarian though I don't want you to judge me; I love meat eaters, I just don't love meat) doesn't mean I won't make it. It is an act of true love (take that Anna and Elsa).  And I feel that if you are going to do it, you might as well do it right. And if you are doing it right, you might as well do it simply and let the oven do all most of the work. Brace yourself, because this bird cooks all night baby. You just pour yourself a glass of bubbly and soak in the compliments- a win for team simplify! 

Friendsgiving Overnight Turkey (yes you read that right)

The Players

2 Tbsp. fresh sage
2 Tbsp. fresh rosemary
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (plus more for drizzling)
Kosher salt (between 1/4 and 1/2 cup; depending on the size of your bird)
16-24 lb. Turkey (fresh or thoroughly thawed; don't forget to take out the giblets; it's always awkward when you, okay, I forget)
2 sticks of softened butter (it's Thanksgiving loves, we have to live a little)
2 onions, quartered
1/2 lemon
1 cup of baby carrots or sliced whole carrots
4 garlic cloves
Greek or poultry seasoning
Quart of vegetable or chicken broth

I apologize in advance because there is a little math involved in this recipe. But the kids watching you do this will be thoroughly impressed to see you use math in a real life critical situation. Please read the recipe in it's entirety so you can do all of your calculations before you begin, you math wizard you. These are the quick highlights of your math: 24 hours to dry brine (in fridge), 24 hours to be uncovered (also in fridge), 30 minutes to rest, 30 minutes at 475 degrees and an hour per pound to cook at 185 degrees and a brief resting period before carving. This is where a 24-lb. turkey proves to be the best choice because of the math factor- just over 24 hours of cooking time and pouf! You've got yourself a perfect bird. So calculate the time that you want to serve dinner and just work backwards. So with that size bird (24 lbs.), if I want us to eat at 2 p.m. the following day, I'm going to pull the brined turkey out of the refrigerator at 1 p.m. so it can rest for 30 minutes while the oven preheats and the slow cooking can begin. It's also a very forgiving recipe; it is okay if your math is off (mine always is); up the temp in the morning if you need it done faster and lower it if you need to slow it down. Don't give up on it before you begin- it is the best ever and you don't have to constantly baste the beast either so you can focus on the happy of the holiday...

The Game

So we need to start the seasoning of this bad boy 48 hours in advance (I know... but it's worth it). We are going to dry brine it which is fancy chef talk for seasoning it for a good long ass time. Mix the herbs and oil in a small bowl. Loosen the skin around the shoulders of the bird and around the cavity. Slide your hands underneath the skin to loosen it from the breast, thighs and drumsticks. Rub the herb mixture on the meat, under the skin. Don't be shy. Get in there like the future of Thanksgiving itself depends on this rubdown. Pat the skin back into place. Oh yeah baby.

Rub the salt inside the cavity and on the skin. Put the turkey in a large food-safe plastic bag (like one of those lovely turkey size roasting bags) and tie. Put the bag inside a second bag and tie. Because this is really not the time that you want leakage (not there is really ever a time that you want that). Place it breast side down and refrigerate it for 24 hours (you can even do it longer if you're a fancy one). After 24 hours, flip it to breast side up, remove the bags and uncover it for 24 hours; this allows for the skin to dry and I am told it will also result in pure deliciousness.

When it is go time (i.e. the day or night before the big feast) pull out that beautiful bird and let it rest for 30 minutes at room temperature. Patience and wine drinking greatly aid this recipe. Pat the turkey down with dry paper towels inside of the cavity. 

You do not want to stuff this bird with stuffing- it just won't be good (or healthy really) so instead put 4 onion quarters, 1/2 cup of carrots, garlic cloves and lemon inside the cavity. Put the remainder of the carrots and onions at the bottom of the roasting pan with 1 cup of water and put the rack on top. Place the turkey on the rack. Slather 1 stick of butter all over the skin (you are in it to win it). Season with greek (or poultry) seasoning to taste and drizzle with olive oil. Roast the turkey at 475 degrees for 30 minutes, breast side up.

Flip the bird (hee hee) so it is breast side down. There isn't a real lady like way to do this so you just have to get in there like the kick ass cook you are. I know they sell all kinds of turkey gadgets but I prefer to just put plastic grocery bags over my hands and grab that beast and put those breasts where the juices are (hee hee). Pour a quart of vegetable or chicken broth (or even apple cider; whatever you have on hand) over the bottom side that's now facing you. Season this side with greek (or poultry) seasoning and give it a drizzle of olive oil.

Now this is where you really have to use the math. Reduce the oven temperature to 185°F and roast your turkey for at least 1 hour per pound. The 1-hour-per-pound guideline is to ensure that the entire bird gets heated through, but roasting longer will not be a problem. On the morning of the feast, flip the bird back so it is breast side up and once more slather one stick of softened butter on top (your guests will love you) and put back in the oven for the remainder of your cooking calculation until the internal temperature of the bird is, at a minimum, 165 degrees. 

Let the turkey rest for 20-30 minutes (enough time for photo opportunities with the beautiful bird) while you pour yourself more wine. Carve and get ready to enjoy a deliciously satisfying meal with people that you love. 


And to follow it, sorry pumpkin but you'll have to share the stage. This is one of the best desserts ever:

Real Simple Flourless Chocolate Cake (gluten free peeps unite!)
Have your pumpkin but your chocolate too. 

Cheers to you and all that you have to be grateful for...

xoxo
Katie


Forgive me for not actually taking pictures of the Friendsgiving bird. 
But here is my current mantle which puts me in the simplified gratitude spirit.
 xoxo





Thursday, November 13, 2014

Praise for the Child that Doesn't Get Straight A's

Yesterday was report card day for us. Lucy looks forward to this day like most kids look forward to Christmas. The countdown (two more weeks- eek!), the anticipation (I couldn't eat lunch today, I was just too excited to get my report card) and the victory (YES- I got straight A's- Principal's Honor Roll!!!). This was the first year that Niko got letter grades and he is definitely one that thrives more when he knows he's getting graded on something and he, too, got straight A's. This is the first year that the twins have been in school, let alone the first report card, no perfect marks or even close to it,  but they did excel in the attendance department.

I am ridiculously proud of all of them.

When Lucy was a baby, I wasted far too much time comparing her to other babies. When will she sleep through the night? When will she start rolling? Why isn't she rolling? Why isn't she crawling/walking/talking yet when the other babes at Gymboree class are? I wished her older far too quickly instead of just soaking in each place in life that she gloriously was. She was healthy and happy so why was I even wishing for more than that? I was stealing joy from both of us to be caught up in someone else's timeline. And it continues as they get older: the comparison. When are kids are great at school, we want them to be better at sports. Natural athlete at sports, so we want them to get better grades. When they are great at musical instruments, we wish them to better at helping around the house. Amazing artists, let's work harder at math. More activities, more lessons, more tutoring, more foreign languages, more sports, more camps, more training, more scouts, more dance... more, more, more to exceed unrealistic expectations that we put on them.

Enough. The quest for perfection in our children so that we feel better about ourselves is exhausting. We miss the opportunity to embrace the imperfection in us all and the beautiful gifts that we all bring to the table. I'm not saying that children shouldn't be pushed to work harder and practice and read and study and be reminded to make their beds every single day; they absolutely should. That is why we are parents and the big challenging responsibility is to make our children the most wonderful human beings possible. But that means that they don't need to do it all perfectly. It means showing up and to have the courage to do it all over again every single day.

My mother-in-law gave me some of the best parenting advice that I've ever heard:
Everyone brings their own recipe to the world.

Take a moment to think of your own recipe that you bring to the world. Now think of your child's. It doesn't have to be in the form of a textbook or the number of soccer goals scored. Or something that we can even put on a college application or a resume.

Lucy's is reading. And loving school.
Niko's is building and creating and imagining.
Micah can figure out how so many things work. He has an engineer's mind that boggles mine.
And Sophia. Sophia can make a friend wherever she goes.
She tells me "My heart is as big as my whole body."

Yes it is. And kindness, the unconditional eye opening kind, is a recipe that will serve her endlessly in this life. She might not ever get straight A's and that is completely okay.
She shows up and she makes the world bright. I will take it.

Not all things in life should be measured in the form of report cards.

Shine on warriors...
xoxo





My new book is available on Amazon now. A happy gift for all the warriors in your life. 







Friday, November 7, 2014

Dear Momma Expecting Twins

I see you. I see you there with your "My Pod has Two Peas" shirt stretched to its capacity, gracefully unaware that there is a crescent moon of skin peering out from between where the shirt band and maternity pants band are supposed to meet. The look in your eyes is one of fear, joy and a touch of exhaustion, which my dear friend, is the perfect combination of twin preparation.

Five years ago I was where you are, wishing I had larger maternity shirts. I was terrified and excited and overwhelmed by it all. I don't know that any words can prepare you for the journey that you have a one way ticket on, but here are some things that I wish that I knew.

1. It is hard. So fucking hard. From the moment of conception my twins felt more challenging than my two other single children (or singletons but I've also thought that word was weird; more like a sitcom than a child description). I am not trying to scare you, I just want you to now that you are not alone when you feel like you can't quite get your head above water.

2. It will get easier. Keep on treading sister. There will come a day when you will know each baby's cry, which baby swing they each will prefer, make it through a day without tears (yours) and theirs (one day) and you will sleep for over 45 minutes at a time. It doesn't (typically) happen overnight but one day, I promise, it will.

3. Fake it until you own it. This will help you get to the easier point. Shower. Wear pants that have a zipper. Put on lip gloss. Shave something. Or go and have something waxed or painted without any children in tow. It will change your life. Take care of yourself even when it is the last thing you feel like doing. Especially when it is the last thing you feel like doing. Connecting to the pre-twin you will help connect you to the joy of the post-twin you.

4. Marriage becomes more challenging. Nothing tells someone that they are your soulmate when you punch them at 2 a.m. because you've been up all night with the babies on a continuous clock of teething torture. Stick it out loves and refer to #2. It will get easier. Help each other. Talk to each other. Appreciate each other. And keep showing up. Gifts help. Flowers are good but pizza and wine are fucking money.

5. Twins are double the joy and a gazillion times more mischief. Childproof. Now. The moment you see two heartbeats on the sonogram. Do it. But don't be surprised when they defy all these methods and still attempt to stick a screwdriver in an electrical outlet. By 15 months my twins were jumping out of cribs, breaking down pack and plays, raiding syrup from refrigerators, popping locks, starting heavy machinery and needed to have their diapers duct taped because, well, twins. And all of these things happened while I was 2 feet away. It is like living with a messy wild fugitive tiny monkey meets MacGyver. Times two. Wine helps. But keep the bottle on a ridiculously high shelf. Trust me.

6. Take pictures. Evidence helps backing up the things that happen in #5. One day, one far day from now, you will laugh. And toast yourself for surviving it.

7. What you really need to register for: girlfriends, babysitters and wine. These are the lifesavers and the unsung heroes that will help you get through it all. Line them up and never feel guilty for anything that helps you feel alive and happy and present. And if you have all three at the same time, embrace it and absorb it. Tell them thank you. But not in a note. Ain't nobody got time for that. Let go of the guilt of the thank you note. Just hug them and tell them and keep going forward love.

8. You are a warrior. Really you are. It is going to drive you insane that people are going to constantly come up to tell you how lucky you are (or the more insulting: how did you get so lucky) and you are going to be so tired that you can barely give them a half smile let alone grab them by the collar and scream "What the hell are you talking about??" You are just so damn tired and waiting, yearning for the easier point. The fun point. The point where you can acknowledge the being lucky. But the truth is you are. It is okay not to see or feel it all the time. It is okay to cry because you know that you are and you feel guilty for not being completely in love with it all. You are not alone. You have two human beings that are completely relying on you for their very survival and tears are more prevalent that laughter and you are leaking from every orifice in your body and you miss your pre-maternity jeans and you weren't built with an extra arm and you want a better under eye concealer and a maid and no thank yous are spoken and no sleep is had and it is not a journey for the weak.

But you have been chosen, super woman. You were blessed in this life to bring two warriors into this world. It won't be easy but that doesn't mean that it won't be the most rewarding adventure that was entrusted to you. You are in charge of your greatness and theirs. There will be a moment that you could spill open with radiance because your life is so whole and you wouldn't want to change it for anything. Acknowledge the joy and hope of it all as each joyous and hopeful inch comes your way. And know that you are a rockstar. You've got this. Own that cape baby.

Wishing you cheers, naps and all things hopeful...

xoxo
Katie







If you like this, please feel free to share it far and wide. 
My new book You are a Warrior is out on Amazon.
It is a book about kindness. For kids. And grown-ups. 
And anyone who has been bullied. 
Or is a warrior. Or wants to be one. Or wants to make this world better. 
Or likes fun childlike art made by kids. Or loves a good female hero. 
And thinks that is about time that there should be a good female hero. 
So yes, if you are into that then please check this out. 
Let's start a kindness tribe.


 You are a warrior.


Thursday, October 30, 2014

You are a warrior.


Here is the thing. Here is the inspiration. Niko brought this letter home last year at 6 years old and I thought it was one of the best things that I've ever read. This is why I wanted to write a children's book that is not so much anti-bullying as it is pro-kindness. I'm in love with the concept of taking the power away. And what if instead of being afraid that we have to do these huge giant enormous heroic acts that seem on the intimidating side of life to make a difference, what if we show our children (and ourselves) that it really can be done as just one (seemingly small but actually amazing) kind act at a time. What if it is just showing up and being kind? Everyday.

Be kind and you will be a warrior.

You will make a difference.

Also, I really wanted to write a children's book that had a female hero. It is beyond time for that.

The art is a mixed media collage featuring the illustrations of my four favorite artists, my children. Whimsy, love, hope, light and a side of warrior strength is what we were going for. If you like it please be gems and review it.

Coming your way on the 1st of November... and it is out on Kindle right now at this moment...

Wishing light and all great things to you warriors-
Katie

#onekindact





(if I got all the links to work right)...





Friday, October 24, 2014

Marriage. Is. Hard.

Can I just tell you something on the real and raw side? Marriage is hard. Insanely hard. There have been more moments in the last 11 years that have left me fragile and weak and broken that I would ever want to expose out loud. And you might not have ever experienced a moment in your "till death do us part" adventure that comes close to that. To which I would say to you friend "That is amazing. I hope you never do." But here is a truth in marriage (and definitely in parenting) you might not have reached your hard yet. You might not ever. But you may. And you're not alone. I think that is always okay to let one another know that we are not alone. Because that alone feeling can lead to many shades of darkness. And the thoughts that come under darkness are beyond frightening. So lets find the light. Together.

The reality is that marriage, to me, is like the ocean. Sometimes we just need to ride the waves. Sometimes we are up so high that we forget what it feels like to be down. And just as fast as that high came on, it all can come crashing down before you had a chance to brace yourself for it. And then there is the ripple effect that always follows when you are nose down in the sand. You yell. You take it out on the kids. Or the dog. Or your cell phone provider. And that's when the septic system breaks and there's a car accident and someone gets sick and we are late to practice. And Christmas is just staring at you in the face alongside the Halloween decorations. And it all looks so horrendous together that you want to scream but remember that you have dignity so you open your bag of Reese's peanut butter pumpkins and you eat them with vengeance to show that you are on Team Halloween. Ha ha ha (insert evil Halloween laugh)...TAKE THAT TARGET!

That my friends is marriage. And life. 

It rains sometimes. It is dark sometimes. And then it is light and beautiful and so full of future that you could just burst open. And it has the power to make you melt and crack then feel whole again once more. 

And sometimes all it takes is breathing in that other person. And listening to them. And turning off muting the football game in the background. And getting out of the way of your own hurt so that you can listen to them. And to not instantly pounce on judgement or defense but to just listen wide open. To own your imperfection, not to just point out theirs. 

Wine usually helps these conversations.

And you have two choices here: to harden or to soften. What outcome do you want? To build a wall or to break one down. It is as simple and as complicated as that. The softening isn't admitting defeat. It is saying: I choose you. I choose us. This day and maybe just maybe everyday, just one day at once, I am going to pick you on this path. Our path. The softening just may be the key to the lasting.

Yesterday was my husband's 35th birthday. We met when we were 20 years old so we haven't yet grown old together but more trying to survive growing up to adulthood together. I usually try to write something (irritatingly) gushy and romantic for his birthday. But this day, nothing feels more romantic than to be real. And open. And to soften.

And to say:
I am ridiculously imperfect. And I'm sorry that I enjoy shopping so much. I'm sorry that I despise laundry. And I'm not so great at cleaning but amazing at procrastinating. And googling (it is an art, thank you). But I love to cook and laugh and sing loud when I don't know the words and I love to dance like the world depends on it and in my eyes that is not such a bad combination. And I choose you. Everyday. At the end of the day there is no one else that I want to dance with. Or laugh with. Or love out loud.

So let's keep riding the waves. And to pull each other out of the sand. Movies can keep the romance. I'd rather have the love.

Here's to all of us. Cheers.

xoxo






Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Stand for Kindness

I was scrolling through my Facebook news feed this morning and I was overcome by all the sadness and loss and negativity and bullying and judgment. It was mind blowing and numbing all at the same time. One story in particular really struck me. My father-in-law mentioned it to me and then I saw it on the very lovely site "A Mighty Girl".

It is the story of Jetta, a beautiful 10-year old who donated her hair to a charity for kids and is now enduring bullying from classmates. The school had a disappointing, less than weak response to it. Heartbreaking right? So her mom created a "Stand with Jetta" Facebook page to show support for her and I liked it instantaneously when I saw the bold think positive cover photo. I scrolled down to learn more about the story, more about the inspiring Jetta and her devoted family. I couldn't believe that here in this community of hope, optimism and anti-bullying that her mother had to remind people that this a place of encouragement; she had no choice but to post this:

I am starting to see a few negative posts and messages come through... I know that not everyone agrees with our decision to use social media, approves of Jetta's name, etc... There is no need for personal attacks... This page was set up to offer support and encourage kindness! Thank you to all of you who have been so positive and so kind!


That seems especially heartbreaking to me. Sometimes can we all just keep our negative opinions to ourselves? And it is not just on this site... it is everywhere. Adults, role models, grown ups attacking one another; people that children look up to. 

We are all human beings. So let's start acting like better ones.




Thank you Jetta.

xoxo