the place we stayed – The Ojai Rancho Inn
the best pizza I’ve ever eaten – Papa Lennon’s
fabulous place for dinner – Azu
dark hip bar known as a celebrity haunt – The Deer Lodge
fab resort, spa and great breakfast eatery – Ojai Resort & Spa
Let me know if you have any questions! And sorry for all the photos
I’ve noticed quite a few posts on social media these past few weeks inquiring about persimmons. While persimmon season is definitely upon us, it turns out that some of you don’t really know what to do with them. I don’t blame you, they are a bit of an obscure fruit that still very much remains restricted to the seasons. While apples and oranges seem to have taken on a seasonless personality, easily available any time of the year, fall still remains the only time you’ll see the funny looking orange fruit in stores, and most likely for that reason alone, they haven’t become a household name.these persimmon cookies. But this year I’m getting a little more adventurous wtih them, and eating them raw, either sprinkled with lime juice, sea salt and cayenne pepper (very Mexican street vendor style), and now in a salad, thanks in large part to my friend Rachel. She brought me dinner the other night and made a similar salad, and the same dressing. I added a few ingredients to her version, to make it a little heartier, and was quite pleased with the results. This salad is great as a main dish for lunch, and easily serves 2, or more if serving as a side salad. So now you hopefully have a couple of ideas of what to do with the fruit the next time you come across them.
For the salad:
2 cups of shaved brussel sprouts, often found bagged in the produce section.
1 romaine lettuce heart
1-2 persimmons (they may not feel ripe and are actually quite hard, but if they have just the slightest give, they are usually perfect)
1 cup of sliced mushrooms
2 strips of cooked bacon diced
Shaved Parmesan cheese, however much you like or love
For the dressing:
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic dressing
Juice of 1 lime squeezed
Salt and pepper to taste
Toss all ingredients together in a bowl and shave the Parmesan cheese on top. Whisk the dressing ingredients together, and toss in the salad. Enjoy!
Blogging allows you to meet, both virtually and in real life, some really talented people. Some have a gift for writing, some for crafts, some for art, and some for all of the above. Brenda is one such talented blogger who I now call a friend and have had the pleasure of getting to know. Remember when she taught the last Craft Cabinet and even I was able to get my watercolor on? So when Brenda asked if I would mind reviewing her book on the blog, without hesitation I said “Mind? Of coursssseee not, I would love to!”
The book, titled Secret Agent Josephine in Paris is about a mom and her daughter, who set out on an adventure to obtain craft supplies and catch an art thief. If you’re craft and/or a craft blogger, you will love this book because of all the cute crafty references. If you’re a girl, you’ll love this book. Turns out, even if you’re a boy, you will love this book.
There’s a new super spy in town! Secret Agent Josephine may not look like a super mom, but when she goes to work, bad guys better watch out for her crafty tricks. In this Secret Agent Josephine adventure, our heroine travels to Paris to scope out some new craft supplies and stop an infamous art thief. Donning disguises and stocking up on the tools of her trade, Secret Agent Josephine tracks the thief through the streets of Paris. But when she’s spotted, will her crafting skills be able to get her out of a jam?
So back to the book. The kids Looooove it, both of them, and have read it a few times in fact. The illustrations were all done by Brenda and are so unique and colorful and fun. The story line is fun and Taylor and Syd both love how some pages have notes and writing here and there. They like to make sure they get it all covered. My favorite part is where SAJ knits an escape scarf with her high heeled boots. I also love that since I know Brenda in real life, I can see so much of her personality jump through the pages. But even if you don’t know Brenda IRL, you can still get a sense of who she is and what she loves; her daughter, adventure, crafting and macaroons.
The book is out today and is available in hardcover and as an ebook, wherever books are sold, and at Amazon & Barnes & Noble. Grab a copy, a cup of French Roast and enjoy! And a little proof of their nightly spy missions; these are just 2 of their many spy notebooks they have squirreled away in their rooms. Needless to say, since finding this out, Art and I have been very careful with our conversations post bedtime.
I love Zara’s design aesthetic, their prices and the fact that there’s an actual store just 20 minutes down the road. Tonight I wanted to do a little online browsing, so I hopped on over to Zara to see what’s new. I couldn’t help but be brought to giggles when I saw the looks on the faces of the models in this season’s latest lookbook spread. Between consistent looks of extreme sadness, contempt and disgust, it makes you wonder if it was some inside joke in the Zara ad department to shoot the campaign this way. These girls just look freaking miserable, even their undeniable beauty can’t mask the torment. Have a look for yourself.
This girl is the real gem of the campaign. Those eyes, oh those haunting eyes! She is known for her sideways glance with the chilling blue eyes, and appears to be saying, “what the eff are you looking at?” Not to mention her attire reminds me of something straight out of Fargo or The Shining.
There’s that sideways glance again. “Bitch.”
All images via Zara, where you can go get more of the same if you visit their site. I promise you there’s not a happy girl in the bunch.
Syd continues to heal and I continue to sit on the couch with him and watch hours upon hours of Scooby Doo and Clone Wars. He’s had some strength, but not much, to get through his homework packets, but other than that he’s pretty much out of commission. Hoping for a better day tomorrow, as many people say you turn a corner after day 6. Fingers crossed. Happy Halloween and bring on Thanksgiving!
When we initially found out that Syd would have the procedure done, I talked to his speech therapist about it and she reacted positively, saying it could very well help out with some of his speech issues. Often times when tonsils are swollen and enlarged, it can cause a whole host of speech problems including breathy or weak speech and trouble with articulation. Long story short, I ended up on the phone with the surgeon on Halloween night, while we were out trick or treating. She wanted to ask me about his speech issues and was trying to decide if adenoid removal could help. By the end of the conversation, she determined that having a look at his vocal chords during the surgery couldn’t hurt either, so she added that to the procedure list.
While at the hospital, it was no surprise that Syd asked Art to walk him into the surgery room and stay with him while they put him under anesthesia. It was also no surprise that he asked for him when he was out of surgery. It’s hard and strange for me to admit that Syd and Art have a closer relationship than I have with him, but it just is what it is. For a long time their closeness really bothered me, especially when, at times, Syd and I felt so separated. Your child is your child no matter what, but it’s hard to deny when an intense connection isn’t always there. The best sense I can make out of it is that God put us together as partners to parent these kids, because we each have different personalities and strengths to complement and mold each child the best way possible. Art’s strengths just seem to be better suited for dealing with Syd’s personality than mine.
With all that said, I do not envy Art having to be there to hold Syd’s hand as he was crying and scared in the operating room, or to pin him down when they had to reinsert the IV after it came out in the recovery room. While the nature of the surgery was pretty basic and not life-threatening, surgery, especially on your young child, is always scary and it was enough to make my strong husband cry.
In the recovery room, the surgeon finally came in and one of the first things she asked was if Syd had been a colicky baby. We looked at each other and sort of chuckled, replying with an emphatic “Yes!”, and asked why. During the surgery she did in fact look at his vocal chords with a scope and found that he had intense damage and irritation due to acid reflux, a condition that seemed to be ongoing. We had treated Syd for acid reflux when he was an infant, but took him off meds when he turned a year, figuring he had outgrown it, as most babies do.
The poor guy was in fact still suffering, and by the looks of it, pretty badly too. Our hearts sank and tears of guilt came to my eyes at the news. This new diagnosis could explain so much of the persistent ailments Syd claimed to have; from moodiness and irritability that often came and went very suddenly, to his complaints of just not feeling good, to perhaps even his extreme finickiness, often complaining after eating, that certain foods made him feel sick. His complaints and moodiness became such a constant that we eventually brushed them off as Syd just being difficult Syd. The complaints came and went and seemed so nondescript, with him never being able to accurately pinpoint how exactly he was feeling or what precisely was bothering him, we figured he was, quite honestly, faking it. Come to find out, this is quite common with reflux at this age. They don’t really understand why or how they feel crummy, they just feel crummy.
I feel like shit guys. I know I need to get over it and move forward, but this may be one of the biggest oversights I could have made. And for so long, (years!), I have let his moodiness define our relationship as mother and son.
I’m just so grateful I heard the doctor’s call when we were out trick or treating and our conversation led to this diagnosis. For once, having me phone on me at all times led to some good. God works in very cool and strong ways. When he fully recovers from his tonsillectomy we are going to start him on Prevacid and see if he gets some relief, and will go from there. I have faith that this will solve some issues for Syd.
Of course Syd’s strong and stubborn personality is just that, his personality. I’m not expecting Prevacid to suddenly make him an easy going, bendable reed, nor do I want that. But I do want, and hope that this helps him just feel better overall, and enjoy a better quality of life.
The recovery process from the tonsillectomy has been much harder than any of us expected and we’ve had some rough days and even rougher nights. While Syd still prefers Art when he’s around, I have been happily subbing in for him when he’s at work, and have enjoyed plenty of couch time with my little guy. He’s been sleeping with me too, which has been nice. His breathing at night is a bit labored and very throaty, so it’s given us both peace of mind to know one of us is with him. Today he felt really good when he woke up and was even able to give us a smile. Perhaps we’re on the home stretch. Thank you for all your thoughts and prayers. Next up, a research mission to figure out foods that will not exacerbate reflux. Good thing I’ve been pretty food obsessed lately.
And on the subject of recovery, I had such success with the colloidal silver treating my strep last week, I have also given a couple of doses to Syd. You can read here, about 8 Natural Remedies Readers Swear By on Babble.
After talking to my dad some about the diagnosis, it was clear he has a lot to learn about how nutrition works and how it can effect your health, and I’m clearly not the one to teach him. We ended up getting in a screaming match on Monday about meat and farming and such, and we obviously do not see eye to eye on most matters when it comes to food.
Participating in this series has been interesting. I’ve learned that I’m terrible at consistency, and I also learned that the pressure of feeling like I have to write everyday makes me want to write even less. I don’t know if I’ll be back for the series next year. On top of the pressure of having to write everyday, writing about health food, while simultaneously writing about the same topic on Babble, has left me feeling grumpy. I’m a bit dismayed that people can have such polar opposing views on eating, health, nutrition, the labeling of our food and what the heck we even call our food. This place is a nice refuge for me, but seeing many of the comments I get over at Babble and Yahoo, I just sort of want to throw my hands up and say (excuse my French), “fuck it.” I’m not trying to tell people what to eat, but use some common sense for goodness sake. I continue to be baffled when people wonder why they should worry about what they eat when many people still can’t put food on the table, and my second favorite comeback – how do my food choices effect you? It can all get me so riled up. Blarg.
Quite simply, what I have gained and learned from this “clean eating” journey these past few months is this:
Eat less foods that require labels
Foods that require labels, read them and try to avoid ingredients that leave you going, “what is that?”
My kids will not die, and will actually function just fine without gummy fruit snacks, Cheez-Its, chicken fingers and chicken nuggets, Nutella and other crap.
Just because I call that stuff crap, I am not judging you for giving it to your kids. But let’s be real, most of it is crap.
I still let my kids have crap too, but on a much smaller scale.
Cooking as much from scratch, no matter what it is, is always better than pre-made. Just look at the nutritional difference between homemade pizza and delivery.
Small changes can make a big difference.
I feel like I could have done so much more with this series, and I didn’t really take it as far as I wanted to go. But alas, I can only do what I can do. Please let me know if you have any other questions that you were hoping to get answered, that I may be able to help with. In the mean time, I’m signing out on this series, and saying “cheers” and “thank you” to allowing me to write about food, on a style blog, for the last 30 days. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to dig back into outfits and DIY’s. Happy Halloween, and if you’re looking for something yummy to make tonight, try this easy and no-fail recipe for Apple Cider Margaritas. I made them last weekend for some girlfriends, and they were a huge hit.
The other day I posted on Instagram, my use of colloidal silver to help ward off another stinking round of strep throat, and last night I wrote the details of encapsulating my placenta, and how it greatly helped me get through postpartum depression. I would love if you went over and read it, especially if you have ever struggled with PPD and are thinking of having more babies.
And obviously I’ve been a lot more open to switching out our food supply this last year. I have slowly become one of those people I used to roll my eyes at, and I’m slowly becoming okay with that. Just a few months ago I thought there would be no way we could give up Coffeemate, frozen Eggos (remember my first attempt at making GF waffles, ha!?!), and Nutella (here’s my original post on why I wanted to ditch these foods especially). But here we are, Nutella, Cofeemate, Eggo free, and we haven’t succumbed to heartbreak! Here’s the low down on what we have switched out, to help take the place of the food-ish items we used to hold so dear to our hearts. And please note, I make no claims whatsoever that we are 100% all natural, junk food free. Just yesterday I brought home a packet of those Joe’s O’s, Halloween edition, and let the kids snack on 5 of those when they got home from school. We are not saints, but the big switches we made leave me feeling completely okay with junk food indulgences every now and then.
Coffee-Mate creamer – we have substituted French Vanilla Coffee-Mate for a big splash of organic half and half (I always make sure it’s not ultra pasteurized!), and 1 tsp of pure maple syrup. It’s delicious!
Eggos – our kids love, love, love waffles, so we make big batches about twice a week and freeze leftovers. They reheat perfectly in the toaster, and even get crispy in the process. Read this great post comparing store bought frozen waffles to homemade.
Nutella – well, I still haven’t found an alternative I feel good about for Nutella, but I’m okay with that. Really, my kids get fed enough sweets that they don’t need to down chocolate spread too, and downing it they were. The funny thing is, since literally throwing our jars in the garbage, Syd, my Nutella loving freak, hasn’t even asked about it. It is sort of like out of site, out of mind. We now just buy natural organic peanut butter for breakfast toast and lunch sandwiches, with only one single ingredient: peanuts (and sometimes salt).
Granulated Sugar – I have mostly ditched the use of granulated sugar, easily replacing it with options like raw honey, maple syrup and Zylitol. You can make an excellent simple syrup out of raw honey and warm water by mixing 3 cups of warm water with 3/4 cup raw honey. It keeps in your fridge for a month or even two, and while it’s still a sweetener, it offers more nutritional benefits than simple syrup made with granulated sugar. When I want the texture of sugar though, I have switched to Zylitol, but use it sparingly because again, it is still a sweetener. There is some debate as to how healthy this type of “naturally derived” sweetener really is, but for the research that exists, it is safe and its low glycemic index makes it a great option for diabetics.
Cheez-Its, graham crackers and other snacks – we all love to snack, not just kids, and so we do keep a few boxes of things in the cupboard, to munch on at night, after school, and to pack in the kids lunches. I’ve found some brands that the kids love, and I feel good about giving to them. Erewhon is a yummy brand of graham crackers I find at Lazy Acres, and the kids love. Pure Bar makes fruit sandwich bars, much like the fruit strips, and are made of 100% natural ingredients, free of dyes and additives. Angie’s makes great popcorn in a few different flavors and even lunch size bags, and can be found at Costco. And Funley’s makes a great line of snack size crackers and little fruit and grain bites. The kids, especially Hayden, love them.
These have been some of the biggest swaps we’ve made, in addition to the meat and fish thing which I’ve already written about. There are other decisions I make every single day, where I choose one food over another, but I try not to get fanatical about my decisions and do the best I can. There’s only so much time and energy you can devote to this stuff before you start feeling like you might be taking it just a little too far. This is why I’m a little gun shy about the Food Babe craze. While I appreciate and respect her research into the scary stuff that goes into our food, at some point it starts to feel like overkill. Just read the labels, but also try to avoid endless amounts of foods that require a label in the first place.
We are on our last 2 days of this series, and while I haven’t done as bang up of a job as I wanted to do, I hope you’ve gotten some good points out of it!
Syd goes in for his tonsillectomy and adenoid removal on Friday, and on top of that we have his pre-op appointment and Halloween on Thursday, so I am anticipating a busy and harried week. I don’t want to cook anything complicated or too foreign to me, so I’m keeping it simple. I’m limiting this meal plan to dinners only, because doing the whole breakfast, lunch and dinner thing, like I did last week, makes it seem like I’m handing out dieting/eating advice for some reason, or is that just me?
Sunday – Butternut Squash Raviolis & Plain Cheese Raviolis served with a browned butter sauce, and a green salad. Cheese raviolis especially for Syd by the way; aren’t I nice?
Monday – Fish Sticks, Frozen Peas and Rice. Monday’s are always our busiest day between me working a full day, dance class and baseball practice, I try to keep it simple. Using Gwynnie’s recipe, but with regular bread crumbs and not gluten free ones (blech!)
Tuesday – Eggplant Parmigiana with Spaghetti & Salad. Not sure how the tiny people are gonna like this; I think they may just eat spaghetti :-/
Wednesday – Salmon & Brussel Sprouts & Wild Rice. I’ll just grill the salmon in a pan with some olive oil, and then sautee the brussel sprouts. Kids hate brussel sprouts so I’ll feed them some leftover peas or something.
Thursday – Halloween party at our friend’s house!
Friday – Slow Cooker Minestrone and boxed cornbread, or if a nice family member offers to pick up food, I’ll save this for Saturday night’s dinner. Every recipe I’ve looked up for minestrone calls for cooked beans, and so I’m going to cook my own beans, for the first time ever, using a slow cooker today. I’ll probably freeze them since I won’t be using them till later in the week. I’ll also be using all 6 cups of the veggie stock I made and froze a couple of weeks ago. I love saving money this way!
Saturday – clean out the fridge leftovers.
Both of our kids have been through minor outpatient surgeries before, both when they were less than a year old. I’m really nervous about this one though since Syd is so much older and is totally aware of what’s going on. Please send prayers or good thoughts as we get through the week and the surgery on Friday. Please pray for a smooth procedure and quick healing for my boy. Thank you all so much.