I’m pretty sure that Lauren is going to be a teacher one day. Or a school principal. Or as my sister has always predicted, a passport inspector at the border, potentially FBI, best case scenario Navy Seal.

She has an unmatched eye for detail and is a stickler for the rules.

Her first few words were “fuff” and “fedde”, fluff and feather.  She’d spot these with accuracy from her perch on the couch, tiny pieces of lint on the floor, or miniscule little feathers that had drifted down from our sofa’s down cushions.  She would pick them up gently, hold them up to the light, and investigate them like a detective.  It wasn’t long before she’d earned the nickname CSI.

Her rule abiding is even more impressive for a girl of her age. Even as a five-year old, she’s easily exasperated by bad behavior.

She recently found an old copy of US Weekly magazine, walked into the living room and pronounced “Ugh. This is unacceptable. This man is swimming in his underpants!”

Bathroom humor does not fly with her, period.  The other day Sam came running over to us and said “Mommy, wanna hear something funny? The chef cooks the poop!”  (Mom turned her head and snickered). 

Lauren: “Sam, that is NOT a funny joke at all.” 

Even her parents are targets.

After dropping her off at skating camp this summer, I urged her to go with her instructors.

“They’re not instructors mom.”

“OK, go with your teachers.”

“They’re not teachers either.”


“No, (eyes rolling), they’re Staffs.”

“OK, well I’m just going to wait for you in the changing room.”

“It’s not the changing room Mom.”

(Exasperated) “What is it Lauren?”

“It’s the club lounge.”

“Excuse me, but your club lounge has exposed cinderblocks and rivets in the wall.  I’ll wait for you in the changing room.”

But I love her with my whole being.  I still don’t understand how I’m related by flesh and blood to this little creature.  Me, the one who blurts out to strangers that I’m weaning myself off sleep meds, or has a little too much to drink at the office party.

How on Earth did I give birth to a rule-maker.  A rule-enforcer. 

But she’s a part of me, no doubt.  She loves me, and blows me kisses when I drop her off at her activities.  She makes my heart beat out of my chest.

We went apple picking the other day, and she was so happy to pick the crisp apples off the trees. 


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Salted butter pecan granola_FeedMeDearlyGranola gets a bad rap.

It’s so often associated with Vegetarian or Vegan food lovers, Birkenstocks, waist-length hair, and questionable hygiene practices.

Let’s put those old school views – of Vegetarianism, Veganism, and of course granola, into a time capsule and send it back to the 1960s and 70s where they belong.

Because these stereotypes don’t exist anymore. I wrote a love note recently to my clean eating friends because I find the textures, colors and flavors of plant-based food to be so vivid and inspiring. People aren’t solely eating consciously because they should for health or socioeconomic reasons. People are getting hooked because healthy foods really do taste as good as their less nutritional counterparts.

Although I’m usually a sausage and eggs for breakfast kind of girl on the weekends, I’ve been on a granola kick recently.  It just feels like a healthier way to start my day. And it’s downright heavenly, the perfect canvas for so many different flavor combinations. Granola can be earthy, with plenty of seeds and grains, or decadent, studded with chocolate chunks and cherries.  It can be All-American with almonds and coconut, or exotic with spices like ginger or cardamom.

I was in an ice cream state of mind this week when I found myself wanting to bake a batch of granola. And if it’s ice cream for me, it means butter pecan. I love the salty, sweet combo, the crunchiness of the nuts. I’m old school like that. I like simple flavors – I’m not the kind of person who goes for a Ben & Jerry’s fully loaded cookie dough brownie batter toffee bit spectacular. Too much going on. Not to mention my gag reflex when I come into contact with raw cookie dough.

So what better concept than a salted butter pecan granola, packed with the same flavors as my favorite ice cream, minus the guilt. And by guilt, I mean relative guilt. because this (nor any of my food) even comes close to being fat free. But reassure yourself that although this granola calls for a stick of butter (we are talking salted butter pecan after all), it will take you many bowls of this stuff before you exhaust your supply.

The best part of this recipe is that it only has 6 key ingredients, making it a snap to prepare: Oats, coconut, pecans, brown sugar, maple syrup, melted butter.

Just mix the wet and dry ingredients separately, combine, bake, and you’re done.

Now you have the basis for creating the perfect breakfast treat. Like this bowl of heaven with maple syrup and figs:

Granola with figs_FeedMeDearly

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cookiesI rarely do baking posts.  I’ve done one in fact: a chocolate chip birthday cake.  And it was good.  The cake, and I guess the post because it’s the most read posts on my blog.

Because I’m not really much of a baker. 

For obvious reasons, I don’t want to yell out, “hey, look at me, I’m so similar to Rachael Ray!” I don’t run a multi-million dollar media empire, I don’t know anything about the Adirondacks, and I hate terms like spoonula.  But we do share one thing in common: we don’t bake.  Let me modify: I rarely bake, although for specific occasions, like birthdays and the holidays, I’ve been known to break out a bundt pan.

While I love the smells and imperfect nature of cooking, it’s for those very two reasons that I don’t care for baking.  I hate the precise measurements.  It bothers me that I can’t taste the final product until it comes out of the oven.  And most of all, the smell makes me nauseous.  Call me crazy.  It’s not too bad when it’s in the oven.  But it’s that scent of raw flour/eggs/sugar that puts me off. That ice cream craze with all kinds of raw mix-ins like cookie dough and brownie batter?  If I see someone eating that stuff it will trigger my gag reflex. I sometimes lie about things on my blog.  I’m not lying.  I will literally start gagging.

Even more shocking are the people who admit that they’ll eat through an entire log of cookie dough in one sitting.  I would rather eat uni. Or eel. Or the two other foods that I can’t stand and I conveniently can’t name. Old age does that to you.

So I don’t like to bake too much.

Lauren is getting into baking.  She likes to help, she likes to stir.  Thank God for her raw egg allergy because she’s 100% not allowed to eat the batter.  Not that she’d want to – she thinks it’s nauseating too.  A girl after my own heart.

Lauren loves baking so much that one of her favorite iPad apps is Cookie Doodle. She has so much fun mixing the ingredients, rolling the dough, cutting out the shapes, decorating the cookies with sprinkles and heart-shaped candies.

“What are you up to?” I said the other day when I saw her shaking the iPad up and down (while supposedly reading ABC Mouse).  I had clearly busted her in the throws of an unsanctioned Cookie Doodle mission. And I knew that move well – you have to shake the pinch of salt into the bowl.

She admitted that she’d gone into Cookie Doodle, but was so proud of the cookies she’d just made.   “Mom, can I show you?” she looked up at me beaming.

I looked down and saw this:


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I’ve been a member of various BabyCenter birth boards since March of 2007, when I found out I was pregnant for the first time.  It’s always been my go-to site for tips on how to introduce solids, or how get my wailing baby to sleep through the night.  And perhaps most important – how to throw an over-the-top 1st birthday party.

Unbeknownst to me, all babies expect lavish 1st birthday parties complete with themes, printed invitations, goody bags, and of course, the centerpiece – a beautifully decorated cake with its own side kick – the smash cake.  The latter being the cake that baby gets to smash with her clenched little fists and then smear all over her face like someone who just played a mean joke on herself.

Let’s just say I wasn’t that organized that first year.  Not even close.  Not that I aspire to be the kind of mom who throws lavish parties every year for my children, but even having my across-the-hall neighbor swing by for leftovers would have been a nice compromise.


Feeling a wee bit guilty, the plan to bake a cake for Lauren’s 1st birthday happened on the day of her birthday…at 5PM when I got home from work.  And this wouldn’t be any old birthday cake.  It was going to be a butterscotch layer cake, towering and impressive for my audience of 1.  Those smash cake moms had clearly camped out on my eardrum and were gently bouncing up and down, telling me to do something historic or nothing at all.

As you can imagine, by 7:30PM, I was covered in flour and caramel, racing to get my layers iced.  Lauren was perched on the counter in her bouncy chair, staring daggers at me because it was past her bedtime and she wasn’t pleased with this last-ditch effort to bake her a cake that she didn’t even want. 

But at long last, the cake was done.  Rodney and I stuck a candle in it, turned the lights down, sang happy birthday in a sing-songy whisper, and presented her with her beautiful cake.

She took a bite and gummed it around for a minute, frowning.  And then vomited.  On-the-cake. This apparently happens in real life, not just in bad sitcoms.  Like watching a fake wipeout on TV, viewers would be shaking their fists at me, yelling “I hate this show.  That would NEVER happen!”


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