Doors are intriguing and mysterious. Doors lead to curiosity… What’s behind that beautiful door? Is the house or building as amazing as the door itself? Are the people who live here as wonderful as the door? Doors are like book covers. You can’t judge a book by its cover. And you can’t judge a building by its doors.
On a recent trip to India, I was amazed at all the doors I saw. They ranged from very ornate to very simple. The first door featured below is from a courtyard at the Amber Palace in Jaipur. The color and intricate design makes this my favorite door.
Here are some of the other fantastic doors:
While I was marveling at the art and craftsmanship of all the doors we saw…my kids’ favorite door was the one to the Dessert Refrigerator!
Back in the day, my family used to watch TV shows together. Especially the prime time shows…Three’s Company, Wonder Woman, The Jeffersons, Love Boat, Seinfeld, Friends. All five of us, parents and three girls would gather around the sofa and laugh and laugh. Even my super serious and super cranky Dad! Saturday mornings were sacred for us kids. We watched shows like the Justice League, Buck Rogers, Scooby Doo…on Saturday mornings eating our Cocoa Puffs.
Nowadays, my kids watch YouTube, DVR TV shows and binge watch Netflix. It is such a different world. They are in constant virtual contact with their friends via group texts, FaceTime and social media. Everything they watch is ready and available and they don’t need to wait. I used to program our VCR for my favorite shows and MTV video premieres. I get it. But there are so many shows out there, that it is impossible to keep up with all of them. Some of my friends are addicted to Bravo, some to HBO and others to Netflix.
Luckily for us, my kids both recently discovered Stranger Things and The Office. So now, all four of us have a show that we can watch together (we fast forward the inappropriate teenager parts for my 10 yr old with Stranger Things). There is common ground and content that can work for the whole family. It takes a little bit of research and a lot of patience.
My thirteen year old son and my ten year old daughter get along well. They have different likes and interests and don’t fight a lot. Their biggest squabbles are what movies to watch on family movie nights and who ate the last ice cream bar. While I think this is great, I can’t help but think of my own childhood that was sort of like “Hunger Games” in comparison.
Looking back at my childhood, I have many fond memories. Having two younger sisters was a lot of fun. If I got into a fight with one sister, there was another one to take her place. As the oldest sibling, I ruled the roost and made the laws. I am two years senior to my middle sister P and almost 6 years older than J, the youngest. For years, I was physically larger and taller than both of them. Growing up with two younger sisters and two crazy parents can really sharpen a girl’s sense of humor and survival skills. We fought about all kinds of things…not just movies or ice cream. I don’t know when we started to joke about each other mercilessly or play pranks on each other…but it hasn’t stopped.
As a teenager, my room was covered with 80’s celebrities…JFK Jr., Duran Duran, the Soloflex guy. I subscribed to Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine and watched Elsa Klench on Style. I was just sooo cool. One day I came to my room to find that there were mustaches on several of my posters. That was call for extreme action. I marched to J’s room and beat up Mingy, her favorite pillow.
For some strange reason, we were obsessed with lip balm in the 80’s. Blistex in those round canisters was all the rage. Keeping interlopers from my Blistex was practically a full time job. I used my Blistex in a uniform and clockwise fashion, it was always clean and of course perfect. My sister J’s Blistex had an upside cone design. My sister P’s container always had fuzz, random bits of mystery flakes and looked like it was stabbed with a toothpick. If I didn’t hide my Blistex, I would find that one of them had dug a nail into the middle of the canister!
Secret video taping was also a constant danger in my house. My sister J would place a cam corder on top of the fridge just to tape us with morning face and bed heads. And forget about sleeping happily on tour buses while on vacation. She made sure to take multiple shots of me dozing with my mouth open and my head in an angle that gave me two chins.
My sisters also had a collection of fake bugs. I remember pulling back my comforter and finding a line of fake ants on my pillow. I also let out a blood curdling scream when I found a large plastic spider in my dresser drawer.
Before you feel too sorry for me, I was not so innocent growing up. I loved imitating my sisters, making up terrible nicknames and shaming them just for fun. Luckily, as adults, the pranks have died down. However, my sister J sent me a picture that my son had texted her. It was a picture of me asleep on the sofa with mouth wide open and my head at an angle that allowed my chin to double!
My kids told me the that their Dad makes better grilled cheese and better chocolate milk than I do. How can that be possible? Well, he adds extra cheese and butter on the sandwich and extra chocolate in the milk of course! As a family, our diet is mostly healthy and we eat out only once or twice a week. However, I often find Oreos, Doritos, premixed chocolate milk, yogurt with candy pieces and ice cream of all varieties when my husband B. goes shopping. I can’t even go on about the secret weekend donut/dessert runs. These take place early in the morning on weekends when I am still asleep or out for a run.
I have told B. that taste is acquired for healthy foods such as vegetables and fruits. While sugar is readily accepted by kids. Kids have more taste buds and their taste buds are more sensitive. Taste involves not just physical signals but sensory ones too. (Accounting for Taste) We find food to be tastier if it is plated nicely on pretty dish or a fancy spoon. Food appears attractive when it it is presented with garnishes. We are already bombarded with images of unhealthy foods that are loaded in fat, calories and sugar. And those images are not of fresh, whole foods that are unprocessed fruits, vegetables or grains.
With each meal, I try to include a fresh fruit or vegetable. I would like my kids to be exposed to these tastes everyday. Taste can be changed. For example, people with health issues that are forced to cut back or sugar or salt, find the foods they used to eat previously taste too salty or too sugary after a few months. The more we eat certain foods, the more we get used to the taste.
While I can’t stop B. from buying junk food, I do have solace in the fact that taste changes with age. (Taste changes with age) As we get older, the number of taste buds adults have decreases. Adults have around 10,000 taste buds and kids have 30,000. And, we are more inclined as adults to try new foods and new tastes. Grown ups look at food not only from a taste perspective, but a health perspective also. I am confident that my kids will eat better as they get older. Both of them now eat tomatoes, lettuce, onions, olives, broccoli and green beans which was unheard of just a few years ago.
I can assure you that I am not the food police in our house. With a Dietetics and Nutrition background and I know how to counter the unhealthy food. I let them eat the unhealthy food, but in limited quantities. Big desserts in our house are for the weekends only. I adopted this rule from one of my daughter’s classmates who was lamenting how horrible her life was without weekday desserts. Before you think I am a mean and awful Mom…during the weekdays, my kids drink chocolate milk for breakfast and lunch. I pack a little something sweet in their lunch like a small cookie or chocolate. And they eat a PB&J for lunch everyday at school (their favorite). I know they will remember the “dessert on weekends only” with great fondness…hardship makes us stronger…right?!
The following recipe is a vegan Hot Artichoke Dip that even my kids love. It is low in calories and big on taste. I hope you like it.
Hot Vegan Artichoke Dip
2 cans of quartered Artichoke Hearts (14 oz cans)
2 T Vegan Mayonnaise (I use “Follow Your Heart” Veganaise)
2 T Nutritional Yeast
1 t Garlic Powder
1 t Salt
Drain the artichokes and add them to a food processor. Add the Veganaise, nutritional yeast, garlic powder and salt and blend until smooth. If your dip is too thick, try adding a tablespoon of water or several as needed. Empty into a serving bowl and microwave for one minute or empty into a pan and heat until hot. I like to eat mine with veggies, toasted baguette slices or toasted pita/chapati/naan.
I am not sure when it happened to me or when it happens to others. As I mark another birthday and shake my head at yet another mole or spot on my face, I realize that I am now mellow. Mellow can mean: aged, cured, developed, rounded, seasoned, cultured or smooth. To me, it means that I am much more easy going than I was in my younger days.
As a kid, there is so much pressure on perfection and learning things properly. Aaah, the exuberance of youth! I see my kids always wanting things to be perfect or to be the best at something. My 12 yr old son has to have all his electronics devices in a certain way. My 9 yr old daughter has to have her stuffed animals in a particular order when she goes to sleep. And both of them love organizing their backpacks in their own way. Heaven forbid, mom puts a water bottle in the wrong place. Their motivation makes me smile.
As teenagers, we still have all that energy, only we pretend we are too cool to care. My room was my sanctuary during my teens. My two younger sisters and parents were not allowed to loiter. All my favorite bands and actors were on my wall in the coolest arrangement of course. A mean comment from one of my friends would send me into a sad brooding spiral. “How could she?!!”
In my twenties, it was all about eloping (that’s another post), career paths, promotions and graduate degrees. No pressure or need for perfection there…right? What I remember about my twenties is that B and I worked really hard and played hard too. Everything just mattered so much more.
My kids came along in my thirties. I had to make the agonizing decision to quit working and be a stay at home mom. Being first time parents is really hard. I remember torturing my family when they came to see the kids as babies.
“Did you wash your hands?”
“Is this one of the sterilized bottles?”
“That is a choking hazard…!”
I went from that to “You can still eat that…we have acids in our tummies that kill germs.”
In my forties, I really just don’t care about all the things I used to obsess about. I tell my kids that they need to relax, that other people have it much harder and to stop complaining. By now, all my family members know each other really well. We used to push each others buttons in our younger days. Nowadays, we still push buttons but less frequently and then say something nice afterwards…
And my friends, many of them are still neurotic about things. They stress about aging, botox, kids and keeping up with the neighbors. But many of them have also mellowed just like me. It’s funny that words of wisdom from the past can help us throughout life. My karate teacher told me “stand tall and be proud”. One of my uncles told me “health is wealth”. And a teacher once told me “be thankful for what you have.” And I tell my kids “do your best, if it doesn’t work out, try again, if it still doesn’t work out, move on to something else .”
Bourbon Hot Chocolate
3 T Cadbury’s Drinking Chocolate or any sweetened chocolate
6 oz Water
1 oz Bourbon
Heat water in a pan until boiling or microwave in a mug for two minutes. Add chocolate and make sure it dissolves completely. Add Bourbon. Viola!
Rum & Coconut Cooler
1 C Orgain High Protein Almond Milk or nut milk of your choice.
1 T Coconut Sugar
1 t Coconut Flakes Unsweetened
1 oz Rum
This is a cold drink. Combine all of the ingredients together, paper umbrella optional.
Cooking and creating new recipes is one of my passions. Although the experts say that eating less highly processed foods and more whole foods is healthier, its not always that easy. Even with my nutrition and dietetics management background, it can be challenging. Hectic schedules don’t always allow for “made from scratch” cooking. And weekend bulk prep doesn’t always work for all recipes. I try to buy organic milk, meat and eggs whenever I can, but of course that rule is broken with fast food joints that my husband takes the kids to. I try to stick with organic fruits and vegetables, but that’s not always possible. Sometimes, the non-organic items may be fresher than the organic ones or not be available at the time.
I have managed to find a “middle of the road plan” for my family. In our house, I make plant based food for myself, kid friendly meals for my 12 and 9 yr old and meals for my husband. That may sound daunting, but our Venn diagrams do overlap with some foods! And, my husband does enjoy a lot of my vegan dishes.
My kids have become interested in making their own food these days. Cooking on the weekends has become a favorite activity with my 9 yr old who always bugs her older brother to help. She always cajoles him into joining in. Whether its Trader Joe scones or grilled cheese, they want to do it themselves. They are allowed to make things like waffles, toast, PBJ’s and eggs with minimal supervision. They have also acquired some knife handling skills with supervision of course. They are not allowed to turn on any appliance unless an adult is present. Both kids have been super picky eaters in the past, but they have opened up to salads, tomatoes and nuts from helping me cook. I am not sure how long they will be interested in cooking. But, here’s hoping they learn a few skills and acquire new tastes that will take them through life!
I have gotten many recipe requests from friends. Therefore, I am working on a recipe gallery. Most of them are plant based, easy and take about 30 minutes. I hope you will find some of these dishes helpful and delicious as I do!