Quick Kitchen Tip

While preparing some food for a potluck, my mom called to ask if she could borrow my reamer.

Me: “I’m using mine, but, ya know, you can simply cut the lemon in half and stick a fork in it, twist and squeeze.”

Mom: “That’s great honey, thanks.”

He-he. I just told my mom to stick a fork in it.

Exercise: The Most Obtainable Remedy

Each day this week I woke up so sore that getting out of bed was a comedy of sorts. Back, arms, joints, ankle – what did I do to myself? Besides a little swimming with the kids, I really have no idea what brought on this pain. And each day I just hobbled around and took it easy.

Taking it too easy soon turned into a general funk (day 2) from which it was hard to emerge. I told myself that I simply get blue sometimes for no apparent reason. Or then (day 3) I listed all the many reasons I imagined that could make me depressed. The list became endless (day 4) as I got more and more imaginative with each item that I dredged up. Before too long, I was caught in a fantasy of misery.

This morning I was saved by the bell, or, in this case, my little one who woke up early with a nightmare. With a few kisses and snuggles, he quickly returned to sleep. Me? Oh, my back, my hip, my arm… I couldn’t rest as my mind was too focused on all my little gripes. Finally, in defeat (or triumph), I got up, threw on my shoes, and went for a walk.

Ah, to see the sun rise on Lake Michigan is such a privilege. The aches and pains that have been plaguing me all week soon eased, and by the time I got back home, I felt that blue shroud dissipate as my energy returned.

It is too easy for me to forget how to cure myself. The exercise that seems so impossible to attempt when I’m feeling achy and blue, is exactly the right remedy. Truth.

It’s a Wrap – BlogHer 13

Always grateful to drop the swag bags.

I didn’t think I wanted to go to BlogHer this year, because, you know, I haven’t really been blogging much.  Writing dropped from my list of priorities, along with eating well and exercising.  Budgeting (to save my house), homeschooling (had to drop the expensive tutors), housework (letting the maid go), cooking (mostly dropped the takeout), driving, driving, and more driving, and endless piles of laundry, stress, anxiety and the occasional blues somehow trumped writing, exercising and anything else that I probably need to do for myself.  How to fit it all in?  So easy to let a few things go.  I may have let too much of myself go, perhaps. The conference, however, was just across the river from me, which made it impossible to turn down.  I’m glad I didn’t.


Impromptu tour of the neighborhood.

What I found at BlogHer13: bloggersSo many beautiful women who openly bare their souls to help us all become better people, make better parents, be better siblings, neighbors, lovers, partners, workers, friends and citizens.  Folks sharing their time and talents to be better photographers, videographers, programmers, writers, networkers, consumers, advocates, etc.  This list goes on and on and on.  It was a vibrant community of mostly women and a few good men all intent on sharing support for one another.  I felt like I arrived empty handed, and left so full.

bedThank you, BlogHer, for some much needed time for myself.dog tiredI am still so dog tired.  (wah, wah, wah…)

Oncoming Storm

stormI’m too young for my bones to be predicting an oncoming storm; unfortunately, age has nothing to do with it.  This morning, my teen and I both woke up feeling like zombies.  I had a terrible sleep.  My hips, elbows, wrists and fingers ached.  Finally at 3am I took an Advil PM.  Stupid, because then I could barely get up.  Zombie.  My daughter, she felt it, too.  Her wrists and knuckles felt terrible.  Both of us were foggy headed and crabby.

In spite of all that, I managed to drag myself and the kids out to do some errands.  Just as we finished grocery shopping, a storm broke out.  It was one of those Chicago specials – not for the faint of heart.  The sky was indeed falling.  After loading the groceries, we jumped in the car.  Flexing our hands, rubbing our knuckles, we looked at each other and laughed.  Storm – yup, we should’ve known.

Chicago, Stop this Killing

Non-Violence, sculpture by Carl Fredrik Reuterswald, image by freshwater2006

Non-Violence, sculpture by Carl Fredrik Reuterswald, image by freshwater2006

As the gun control debate rages on in Washington, people are getting shot and killed daily in Chicago.  Just this last week, a friend posted this news blurb about two kids that got shot.  The young girl, 15yo, someone she knew, died.  Horrifying. I cried for this girl I never knew.  For that moment, what has become a numbing statistic for Chicagoans, jumped to real life just knowing someone who knew her.

I don’t know if folks in my neighborhood of Chicago are thinking that much of the daily shooting statistics.  It would be cruel for me to suggest that they aren’t as horrified as I am.  Yet, I’m not terrified of letting my daughter walk to the grocery store.  I’m not paranoid to leave my house after dark.  I’m going to take a gamble that most of my neighbors don’t live with the same fear, because these shootings don’t happen in my neighborhood.

Just as horrifying was the first comment on the page written by some yahoo, “we need a national guard sweeping of these ghettos.”

I cried again for the attitude held by so many people that this isn’t our problem because it doesn’t happen in the “nice” neighborhoods.  I’ve walked down the streets where this young girl was killed.  My daughter (along with the President Obama’s daughter) danced on stage at the high school that was only a couple blocks away.  I only name drop because I want you all to envision that even the president of our country values this community.  I remember driving through the area dumbstruck at the beauty of the architecture.  There are tidy lawns and beautiful, mature trees.  I saw parents enjoying their Sunday afternoons with their neighbors and kids.  While I don’t know the area enough to say all is wine and roses along leafy avenues, there are beautiful people living there.  Those good folks, their parents, their children, their friends all have as much right to live free from violence as the rest of us.  There is no us and them.  For every victim that falls, that life of possibility, hope and strength can no longer contribute to our shared community.

Frankly, violence spreads.  Just today, a woman was found shot to death on Lakeshore Drive, not terribly far from my home.  None of us are immune.

Ignorance, fear and hate will continue to prevent any possible, positive change to happen.  For every individual that feels they need a gun to protect themselves out of fear, strengthens the machine that makes guns so readily available to those who use them for intentional harm.  I’ve heard people say that gun control laws just keep guns out of the hands of the lawfully abiding citizens and keeps them readily available to the criminals.  I don’t believe it.  In Chicago where it was illegal to posses a firearm, one can drive ten minutes into Indiana, go to a gun show, and come out fully loaded without very little (none?) background checks.

I know there is so much more to this violence than gun control.  Poverty.  Drugs.  Mental illness.  I know.  But please, Chicago, stop killing each other.

Something’s gotta be done.

Raspberry Smoothie

My daughter was in the middle of her Japanese lesson on Skype as I was rummaging through the fridge for breakfast. For someone who has never used Skype, I love it for all the resourceful connections my kid has found. I was hesitant to interrupt her lesson with the noise of my Vitamix.

I did it anyways. 30 seconds of noise pollution for a delicious breakfast to stave off that mid-morning blood sugar crash, which inevitably leads to binging, is so worth it. And my girl liked it, too. (I didn’t tell her about the avocado and chia seeds.)

1/4 pineapple
1/2 pint raspberries
2 cups grapefruit juice
1/2 avocado
1/4 cup chia seeds

Blend. Share. Love.

Pomegranate Green Smoothie

Incredible how these smoothie images tend to look the same after awhile. Well, maybe not that incredible, but what is impressive is how something that looks so identical, day after day, can taste so remarkably different.

Today, I let too much time pass before eating breakfast. Now it’s well after lunchtime, and after snapping at my kids a few times too many, I realize that I’m really hungry.

Time for a smoothie.

Smoothies are the lazy vegan’s fast food. I crave something more complex than an apple, but I need to prepare it in five minutes or less. So into the blender go a few select items, and whirl. This one turned out a bit sweet, so I added an avocado to mellow it a little. Perfect.

1 pomegranate
1/4 pineapple
2 cups grapefruit juice
1/2 avocado
1 cup packed spinach

Blend and drink. Store the leftovers for those snack attack moments.

Citrus Sanity


The smoke detectors began chirping at 4am, demanding battery replacement. After meeting that chore, sleep escaped, leaving me with an entire Saturday to parent through a foggy veil. Hopefully, this citrus charged smoothie will provide a little sanity to my day.

This delicious concoction was the result of cleaning my counter of citrus fruits that threatened to mold and a little Saturday refrigerator cleanup.

1/2 cup grapefruit juice
1/2 cup orange juice
6 clementines, peeled
1/2 avocado
6 kale leaves, stems removed

Blend. Drink. Embrace the power.

Mango Spinach Smoothie

I’m standing inside my warm home watching some determined kids across the park try to sled down a barely dusted hill. That was my boy last year. So what if Chicago didn’t grace us with snow, by god, we’re gonna put that sled to use!

Four o’clock. This is the time of day that I’m ready to eat straight from the cupboards for no reason whatsoever. I’m so glad I have this smoothie leftover from breakfast. So satisfying.

Satisfying a craving doesn’t always stop a binge. So it’s good to ask myself a few questions. Any 12 step junkies familiar with HALT? Am I hungry? A little bit. Am I angry? Not today. Lonely? Hmmm, not really. Tired? Yes! And for overeaters, am I dehydrated? Yes, most likely.

That water thing, unless I’m coming from a workout, it just never occurs to me to drink it. Yet, for some crazy, wonky reason, being thirsty often translates as I need to eat a box of Oreo cookies, along with some peanut butter smothered graham crackers with chips and whatever else I’ve got going on. Crazy, I know. It’s been awhile since I’ve done that, but not so long that I couldn’t imagine it.

Instead, my beautiful mango smoothie.

2 mangos
1 banana
1/2 cup cranberries
1 cup spinach
1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice

Blend. Drink. Love.

Road Rants – Letting Out or Letting Go?

I’m afraid to even mention this on the Internet for fear that word will catch on and destroy the secret to my morning commute, but considering I have about 6 readers, perhaps it won’t be such a moment – Lower Wacker Drive is open.  That lovely, subterranean tunnel that snakes around downtown Chicago, has been reopened after a lengthy reconstruction.  Lovely and harrowing all the same.  It is not a route for the faint of heart.  Entrances appear without warning.  Exits disappear into sketchy alleys or dead ends.  Proper signage is almost extinct.  I have seen men fully exposed as they relieve themselves against its walls (ew).  Hustlers appear from nowhere just when a light turns red and if you pause at the wrong moment, a cacophony of car horns will convince you otherwise.

Entering the Underworld

Entering the Underworld

No, Lower Wacker Drive is not for the faint of heart.  Yet it is my favorite, speedy, underground passage.  I think I’m clever that I know it’s secrets.  The bat caves of Chicago.

It is also the place that I curse the most.  Because I have taken great care to learn and navigate it’s passageways, I expect others to do the same.  It’s an auto response that I do not take pride in.  It’s harmless, right?  The kids aren’t in the car, I get to let it all out, no one can hear me.  But when I finally got around that car that paused at every hole in the wall, I realized that I must have cursed more in the last five minutes than I had all weekend.


Cursing causes no relief.  I think it just makes me a surly, erratic, explosive person.  Just another wretched urbanite, hostile at the interloper.  Tourists!  (I actually love tourists – weird, I know.)

Expressing rage by letting it out only makes it easier to do the next time, like when the kids are in the car (oops – don’t say that at school, sweetie).  Not so cute when the 4yo says the s, d and occasional f word.  Yikes.  It’s like practicing a habit, only not such a great habit.  Each time a fierce word is said in frustration and anger, it is reinforced for that next moment.  Holding it in, well, maybe that’s not so great either.

I’m thinking that trying to empathize with that driver who is lost, confused, baffled by the enclosed tunnels would be an exercise of letting go, instead of letting it out.  It feels awful to have expressed a verbal assault on someone, then drive by and realize the driver is about 80, barely peering over the dashboard.  Haven’t we all been that slow, uncertain driver at one point?  In a strange place?  What can be stranger than Lower Wacker?

Better to slow down, get around, in through the nose, out through the mouth.  Sigh.  Get home safely.

And now, for something completely silly…

photoTurtle sightings in the Chicago Underworld.