Monday, September 21, 2020

happy food: Trader Joe's Rustic Apple Tarte

All summer long I am a coconut gurl. Coconut flavored creamer in my coffee, dried unsweetened coconut flakes as a snack,  coconut cream pie. . . Then literally September first arrives and I become an apple girl. Spiced cider, cold crisp apples to bite into, warm apple crumb pie, apple bread pudding and French toast with warm apple butter. Especially this fall, all I want to do is get cozy with the scents of apple and pumpkin wafting through our home. 

As I was stocking up at Trader Joe's this week, I picked up a package of their Rustic Apple Tarte, a fall staple at Trader Joe's for at least the last five years. I baked it last night  while we enjoyed Cacio E Pepe for dinner and even out three year-old asked "What IS that cooking?" If you want your home to smell like a cozy home in Vermont, pick up this tart which is a heavenly meld of apples, cinnamon, cream cheese, almonds and sugar baked into a flaky, buttery crust. 

This seasonal $4.99 tart is found in the frozen section and is a no-effort dessert (350 oven for 20 minutes). Serving size: 1/4 pie at 370 calories/slice.

Monday, August 31, 2020

how we are teaching our toddler to be an ally

There are some events in life that you know change how you move forward in the world. George Floyd's unimaginable death was one of those events  During the days following his death, I laid awake at night thinking of George's family and of all of the other acts of violence and racism that led up to this moment. I closely followed the social media accounts of those I trusted and started following new accounts like @theconsciouskidlib and @rachelcargle. I was mad. I needed to channel my feelings into something positive. I needed guidance. I needed to know what to tell our toddler so that in her lifetime, there would be too many people on the side of good for this to happen again.  I needed to be an ally and I wanted to gather all the tools my husband and I needed to help our daughter use her voice and become an ally too.

Since the day Waverly was born, we have told her that she is loved beyond measure, that she is kind and loving, brave, tolerant and resilient.  Recently, though, I've come to believe that this isn't enough. It's too vague.  It isn't enough to be tolerant of others. Tolerance = quiet and complicit. To be a good citizen of this world, means being an active participant in the support of others. It's about being an anti-racist and an ally when you see injustice.

As I researched how to best educate Waverly (3 years-old), I realized that I needed to educate myself too. I started gathering lists of recommended books on racism for adults and for kids and I found two great bookstores, Ashay by the Bay and Mahogany Books (both Black-owned bookstores). I spoke with brilliant women who helped guide me in my choice of books, best appropriate to Waverly and I. They were back-ordered for awhile but they started arriving in a flutter over the last several weeks.

While Waverly naps, I read my books (I started with "So You Want to Talk About Race?") and then Waverly and I curl up in the sun together reading her books. We talk the beauty of Black hair and the multitudes of colors of skin and how we stand up for someone. We takes about countries and lovely melodious names. We talk about what it means to be an ally. The children's books are teaching me just as much as they are teaching her. 

Even though she is three years-old, I've loosely told her about George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor.  I don't think it's ever too early to help shape her future and how she treats others and stands up for her beliefs. 

At night before we go to sleep, we pray. Waverly has said their names, George, Ahmaud and Breonna as she prays to God. After our prayers and our songs, I tuck her into bed. Along with a stuffed dog that looks like our dog in heaven and a Virgin Mary soft doll, she holds tight to one of her dollies, including Gabrielle, a Black baby doll. I watch her as she closes her eyes and nestles into her baby and I know that Bob Marley was right. With love, every little thing's gonna be all right.

Our List of Books


Friday, May 22, 2020

how to get over embarrassment, a personal story

I have a bad habit of replaying an embarrassing situation that I have been in, over and over in my mind. The scene plays out on repeat in my head. This week, I did something that made me feel stupid.  I laid awake at night ruminating over my mistake and wondering what other people must think of me. It's something I have done my entire life. I just don''t give myself a break. After staraing at the clock most often night, I decided that I needed to stop the cycle. By thinking about it, I was just cementing the situation on my mind. Then I came across an article about exactly this thing.

In the article, the author suggested the reader think of the last embarrassing thing they remember a friend doing. Think about it now. You probably can't think of something, right? I couldn't. She reasoned that most people couldn't recall an embarrassing situation about someone else close to them. You are (more than likely) the only person who remembers.

This made me feel better. We have such a tendency to be cruel to ourselves and yet when a friend needs encouragement, we unconditionally provide love and support. We say "It doesn't matter. It's done. No one will remember this."

As I look back on my life, there were times when I did things that were humiliating at the time but now I can laugh at my naiveté or my clumsiness (I have no coordination. At all.) So, if you need to feel better about something you've done that makes you shake your head and think "Why did I do that?" this should make you feel better.


Several years ago, I decided I needed a new hobby so after watching "East Pray Love" I registered for Italian for Beginners at a local  college. One the first day, our very chic Professoressa (from Sardinia) asked us to write out a place card with our name that we would place in front of us on our desks. She said, "And include your title!"

I don't know what came over me but instead of Signora, Signorina or Signore, my mind went to titles as in Contessa, Principessa, Marchesa and Baronessa. I thought "Sure, OK! Let's have fun with this!" so I wrote my title and name down and placed the card on my desk.

It was then that I noticed that my classmates had written their equivalent Italian title + their name i.e. Signore Paolo, Signorina Caterina. Then there was me. My place card read Principessa Taylor. It was too late to change my card. I watched as Professoressa scanned each person along with their card and addressed them by their title and name.  Then she got to me and she started to laugh. I was wildly embarrassed by my  faux pas but Professoressa chuckled as she said "OK, Principessa Taylor. Buongiono!" And that is what she addressed me as for the entire semester - Principessa. After several weeks it just seemed as normal as being called Signora but at the time I felt ridiculous for making such an idiotic mistake on my first day. 

Other than this mistake and the inability to not speak Italian without using my hands, the semester was so fantastico that I went on to take Italian II and this Principessa was very sad to say ciao to one very understanding Professoressa

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

One of the best things I bought in quarantine

Me every morning: "I have no idea what day it is."

Since we started the quarantine at the beginning of March, the days and now even months have bled into each other. Most days of the week, I have no idea what day it is.  There are no classes, appointments and few meetings that divide the day or make it notable.  Is it Tuesday? Saturday? April? May? It doesn't really matter.

I joked to L that I needed something that would just tell me what day it was, just for my own sanity. At the same time, we have been having a challenge with Waverly (2 1/2) when we ask her to stop a fun activity to do something else. It often results in a frustrating battle of wits.

A few weeks ago,  I was browsing "day of the week clock" and I found this digital clock by Robin. While it's marketed as a tool for seniors with memory issues, it's turned out to be exactly what we need. Here are highlights:
 The 8-inch high clean design clock features the time with morning/night, day of the week and date. 
Press a button and it will announce this information as well as birthdays, holidays, anniversaries and any other dates you program as highlights. This is the first thing Waverly does when we come downstairs in the morning. She runs to her desk and hits the button to hear the day's information. 

There are custom alarms which have turned out to be HIGHLY useful. I began by setting the alarms to 8:30, 12:30 and 5:30 (with the same alarm tone), We've taught Waverly that the tone (we chose a chicken crowing) means that it is meal time. Before, she would sometimes throw a tantrum if we had to stop an activity she was enjoying.  Now, instead of trying to pry her away from her activities, when she hears the chicken, she excitedly announces "Heihei says it's time to eat!" and she runs to put the placemats on the table. It's so awesome. 
(*Heihei is the chicken from "Moana," Waverly's favorite Disney film.)

I also set alarms for myself throughout the day. I give myself a block of time to work and I set Waverly at her desk (next to mine) with Magna Tiles or books. We both know that we have a certain amount of time to work on a project. Waverly is very schedule-driven and I have seen a big change in her, since she knows that there is a beginning and an end to a project.

This clock has been invaluable to both of us as we stay hunkered down. While we could just use my phone or the wall clock in the kitchen, I find that she and I both look at this clock often throughout the day and it's become a big part of our quarantine kit. 

The Robin 2020 version clock is available on Amazon for $59.95 and is available in white or black.
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