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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

10 Thoughts that I Had During my First Bikram Yoga Class

I may be a yoga instructor but Bikram still intimidates me. I have avoided it for far too long because something about that 104 degree room and the idea of the same 26 poses just didn't strike my zen fancy.  But then a Groupon came my way and I figured it was time to give heat a chance. When I walked into that stifling room for the first time I was intrigued, excited and scared shitless.

Here are ten thoughts that crossed and lingered too long on my mind during my first Bikram class:

1. Is it too late to run out of this room? Did I just walk into a sauna? Surely they just keep it this hot to welcome us. I've broken a sweat just in unrolling my mat. I'll just be sure to be in the back row in case I decide to go for a Starbucks run instead. Oh no. The instructor closed the door. Arrivederci Caramel Macchiato. It is okay. I've got this.

2. Am I doing this right? I don't got this. Excuse me... what is this breathwork and why are we standing? I'm not following. I guess I'll just pretend that this is all normal and we all look completely normal. Note to self: do not try this breath in public. Ever.

3. Sweet fancy Moses, her body is ridiculous. Dear front and center girl, I see your better than Channing Tatum abs and your barely covering your cheeks spandex shorts. WE ALL SEE YOU. You are front and center posing like a gazelle in front of a wall full of mirrors. Bitch. I mean I know yoga isn't a competition but I can not bring myself to stop staring at her. Wait is that J. Lo? I'm pretty sure it is. Or her more built body double. I'm going to need to watch Monster-in-Law later to confirm.

4. I'm sweating more than anyone else in the history of ever. ARE WE ON THE SUN RIGHT NOW? Is anyone else finding it damn near impossible to breathe? Has anyone else's mat turned into a slip n' slide? I'm so overdressed and I'm only wearing a tank top.

5. Correction: the guy next to me is sweating more than anyone else in the history of ever. I'm not trying to judge you yet I can not look away. If I'm attempting to balance on a slip n' slide than that guy is doing tree pose on top of Niagra Falls. Could we get Mr. Itty Bitty Spandex an extra towel? Or all of the towels? Maybe a mop? Rain barrel? If he's coming here to get laid than I am so sorry friend but it's not going to happen. Maybe you'll have better luck at Zumba.

6. I should have done some training for this. My body has never before been so pissed off at me. It's like deciding while eating a banana split to drop it to go complete a triathlon. Stupid fucking Groupon.

7. I want to get a tattoo. I am channeling all of my energies into fantasizing about being one of the almost-naked-I-have-Chinese-food-in-my-fridge-older-than-them-built-like-gladiators girls in the front row. They are barely even sweating. J.Lo and I shall become besties and drink wheatgrass after front and center Bikram together. And we will travel to Thailand and get small om tattoos somewhere on our ab area so the wannabes in the back row will have to squint to read them. This class is the best thing ever.

8. Is this class ever going to actually end? Did I misread the description and sign up for a 900 minute class instead of a 90 minute one? Now all of my fantasies are about snow and Antartica. Fuck Thailand. I'm sorry Thailand, nothing against you it's just I need to be among Eskimos right now. At least we've made our way on to the floor which is good because I'm not sure that I'll ever be able to stand again. I could have gone to Starbucks AND watched Monster-in-Law AND drank a margarita in this amount of time. I. AM. SO. THIRSTY.

9. Thank you Mother of all things holy, the instructor dimmed the lights. The end is near! The end is near! I've never been more excited for darkness. Savasana you are the greatest thing that has ever happened to me.

10. I survived. I actually made it. Exhausted like how you would feel if you had your intestines ripped out of you, to be cleaned, ironed, neatly folded and then put back in again while using no drugs, of course. And wow. I actually feel like a bad ass warrior. Sweaty, spent and glorious. That Savasana put it all into delicious perspective for me. God bless laying down. This. This is the feeling I guess we all strive for- overcoming our minds so that our bodies will thank us. This is detox at its natural crazy best. A celebration of what the body can do and a release of the things that need to be let go of. Bikram you have sold me though I may need to work on the abs a wee bit more before heading back.

I can't wait to shower (maybe one where I'm sitting down; I suppose that's called a bath but I don't want to swim in my current sweat situation). A sit shower it will be. And I'm actually even looking forward to the next class. Groupon's got me for 14 more.

Cheers to you warriors...
May your hot yoga experience be paved with extra towels.

Love & namaste,

Doing snow angels naked in this is what Bikram fantasies are made of.

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

Friday, January 9, 2015

Best Hot Chocolate Ever. (Bonus: Dairy Free Too)

It is about 3 degrees here and I found a can of Trader Joe's Coconut Cream in the pantry. BOOM. Winter joy just got real.

I wanted to create something free of dairy (it unfortunately doesn't agree with my stomach though I have fought for years to try to convince it otherwise) but if you don't have or want to use a milk substitute by all means go for the real deal, just please don't rub it in you lucky one. And dare I say I wanted to create something grown up... why should the kids get all the fun? The kids can keep their Swiss Miss; Momma's going to take a time out with this happy blend. It isn't all that sweet but you can of course add more sugar or your favorite sweetener if you fancy. 
I love the richness of it. And the fact that it also pairs perfectly with espresso. Or my personal favorite, whipped cream vodka. 

Hope you enjoy and here's to a delicious winter...

The Players

1 can of coconut cream (I believe it's 15 or 16 oz. Sorry my can is in recycling heaven; I got mine at Trader Joe's)
2 1/2 cups of almond milk
2 Tbsp. sugar (increase if you prefer a sweeter cocoa)
2 Heaping Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

The Game

  1. Pour coconut cream, almond milk, vanilla extract, cocoa powder and sugar in a medium sized pot over medium-low heat.
  2. Mix well to incorporate.
  3. Once the mixture is hot pour in the chocolate and mix until fully melted and combined.
  4. Keep on medium low and stir often until it begins to simmer.
  5. Once simmering turn heat down because you don't want you chocolate scorching.

Keep an eye on it and serve once it is thoroughly mixed. Feel free to add marshmallows, espresso or whipped cream vodka. Or all of the above. 
Mondays are for moderation, not Fridays. Or snow days. 
Enjoy loves.

Oh winter you and I can get along after all.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Keep on Treading Tribe

I used to see the piles of clothes strewn in every corner of every room and feel helpless. Tears welled. My shaken voice would raise. Those clothes were an exact representation of the failure that I felt as a mother. Growing mountains of messy, all consuming guilt. Wash, dry, fold, put away, get muddy, outgrow, buy more, pass on, change seasons, repeat. Never ending piles. Never put away. Never ahead of anything at all. The treading everyday life of parenthood. Each day repeating itself. Never getting any closer to shore. Just (barely) keeping my head above water. Maybe one minute gaining inches forward only to have the flu or teething or a tantrum in aisle two to push me back farther back than I felt I even began.

I have a dear friend who is pregnant with twins. She texted me a picture of her bare beautiful belly. Her skin glowed with the badges of motherhood; the marks of growth that feels too big to contain. Her belly button protruding just enough as if to say two stunning lives are growing here and we just need to make more room for them; they need every centimeter of valuable real estate possible. I used to have that same belly button; those same badges of a mother's work and honor. You get amnesia of all the "wise" words strangers say to you in public when you are pregnant but one comment I will never forget is a five year old whispering to her sibling, "I can see the baby's nose." Some of my most favorite words ever.

Now that all four of my babes are in school I have that glorious pleasure of going to the grocery store alone. Some may view these trips as a chore but I find them to be a blissful vacation- all that gorgeous food, oh so many options! How lucky are we to live in this land of being able to create any recipe you dream and to do it within driving distance? LOVE. And to go to this place without having to strap anyone in and no constant request for snacks and more snacks and high fructose corn syrup and to be alone with my own thoughts and time and recipes is borderline orgasmic for me. Which is why on a recent Trader Joe's solo trip, I couldn't help but to be surprised when I stopped and stared at a mother in the trenches. She had a baby in a bjorn that had just traded in its newborn wails to succumb to sleep on her chest. A two year old hung off the cart in cowboy boots opening another mozzarella stick while a four year old in an Elsa gown followed behind driving an overflowing little red cart recklessly colliding with the sample station. That momma was forgetting what it feels like to breathe. I showed her that her haven was near; there is a free coffee sample station as well. She smiled, poured a cup and breathed it in like it was a cappuccino poured on an Italian countryside.

I am you I thought. No that's not true. I was you. But I am still part of your tribe. The surviving motherhood tribe. The tribe that in the thick of it all is barely treading to stay afloat and never goes to the bathroom alone and too often forgets how to breathe. The this-is-so-insanely-hard-why-don't-people-talk-about-how-insanely-hard-it-is place in life.

And in a blink it evolves. It is still insanely hard but at least you can shower alone. And sometimes you have a moment to think and eat warm food and breathe. And you remember in awe what it felt like to have life flutter inside of you. And to have  a newborn fall asleep on you. And to have cowboys and princesses accompany you to the store. And that is why strangers give you that sympathetic "I've been there" stare and the "please please enjoy it" hand gestures. It is not out of jealousy or meaning to be rude or longing to restart that journey. Oh hell no. It is because we are all part of that same tribe and sweet love it will get easier. You will wear your badges with pride. And you will realize, perhaps not in the moment that you most need to, but in a moment of being alone in a store looking at a mirror of the past and see, truly see, that motherhood is consuming and exhausting and just may be the most important work of your life.

The pure irony of it all is that there are endless days that you are going to want to fast forward only to look back and wished that you had hit the pause button.

So now I'm hitting pause and looking at the piles upon piles of clothes drying by the basement fire and thinking how lucky am I? We were blessed to have a two hour delay this morning and there was nowhere we had to be like all of the other mornings and so my kids went out in the snow. They are grown enough to zip up their own coats and young enough to feel like they are flying when they sled down our hill. Bliss.

If you are treading, please keep on keeping on. And please remember that there are lifeboats in the form of girlfriends and wine and babysitters and even the woman (creepily) staring at you at the store. Ask for help if you need it. There is no shame in it. You are not alone. This tribe is for life.

Love, health and caffeine to you...

Monday, January 5, 2015

Top Ten Dreams for 2015

When I stand before God at the end of my life,
I would hope that I would not have a 
single bit of talent left,
and could say...

"I used everything you gave me."

-Erma Bombeck

This is the year of talent, light and becoming unstuck. No more excuses or alibis. It is time for what and who is important and release the rest. A new start to living out loud. A year of saying no to the things that drain our energies and yes to those that ignite our strengths. It begins now. 

Here are my top 10 for 2015 resolutions. Dreams really... let's just call them dreams. Ones that I believe I can make happen. The laundry and Pinterest are going to wait each day until I check off at least one (or several) of these babies. To me they are scary enough to push me into the wide awake life I yearn for yet attainable enough to reap the rewards. Please comment below with yours. I would absolutely LOVE to hear them. 

10. I will be present. My phone will no longer be an appendage.
9. I will let go. And slow down. And embrace. And write.
8. I will read more real actual books. And care less about not-so-real reality stars.
7. I will laugh. Until I snort.
6. I will show gratitude and grace and kindness. And own not just the type of mother I long to be but accept the one that I am.
5. I will love my home more than Target. And Anthropologie. Okay. Almost as much as I love Anthropologie.
4. I will listen and be more patient with my kids. Even when they're doing a 10 minute soliloquy about lunch boxes.
3. I will finish what I start. I will control time and will no longer give it permission to run over me with the force of a tractor trailer. 
2. I will spend less time online and more time between the sheets.
1. I will take care of me. 

Love, hope and strength to you...
happy new year-

xo Katie

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...


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.

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...

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