Making 2020 Your Year

For years I’ve been just like everyone else- making New Years resolutions only to get lazy and slack off 2 weeks later or forget what I even promised in the first place. Eat healthier, stop cursing so much, do more exercise….blah blah blah. I can bet a million dollars you’re guilty of making these empty resolutions too.

This year, however, I’m determined to do things differently. How? I’m simply not making resolutions.

IF ONLY IT WERE THAT EASY!!!

Instead, I’ve been thinking about my life goals & decisions. The key word being -decision-. Instead of a resolution, promise, or any other adjective you’d like to insert in there, I’ve been trying to look at it all from a different perspective.

While reflecting one day….aka while drinking wine in the shower as my kids yelled from the other side of the locked door….I began to think, what do I really want out of life? What will make me happy in this new decade? What do I want to accomplish that will make me proud in the subsequent decade? Sure I’d love a boatload of money and to eat pizza every day while wearing Louboutins and galavanting the world……but once the buzz from my wine wore off and I actually got to thinking seriously about what I wanted, the ideas came flooding in. “How am I going to keep track of everything?” I thought to myself. My first instinct was to look at Pinterest. Let’s just say I was inundated with inspirational quotes and articles about how to integrate celery juice into your everyday life. No thanks. After a bit of searching, I stumbled upon what appeared to be another mundane article about vision boards. Something in me made me click the article and as I began to read, I could feel my perspective shifting. This particular author talked about how a vision board is simply a place to physically put your ideas. But it’s up to you to manifest them. Sounds easy, right? Cut out a bunch of cool looking pictures, paste them to a poster board, write “Vision Board” with your tween’s glitter gel pens, then voila!! Nope. Nope. Nope….

I once read a quote that said a dream is just a dream until you write it down, then it becomes a goal. But that goal doesn’t become anything more until you put forth actions. That’s when it becomes real. (or something along those lines). My point being, it became clear to me that I could still utilize the ever popular Vision Board, as long as I mapped out a way for me to manifest these goals into reality.

My particular board is still a work in progress….but don’t worry I promise to share it soon….

In the meantime, I’d love to hear feedback from readers. Do you have a vision board or something similar? Does it help you to accomplish your goals?

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Here are some steps that I’ve found truly helped me thus far:

  1. Ask Yourself What You Really Want

It’s that simple. If you don’t know where to start, try grabbing a blank piece of paper and jotting down everything that comes to mind when you envision your ideal life. Nothing is off limits here (except maybe a rainbow unicorn lol).

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2. Compartmentalize your Ideas

Placing your ideas into categories (ie: friends, family, personal development, health, money, travel) will help you map out the areas upon which you should focus on. After all, the law of attraction can’t work if you don’t know what you’re asking for.

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3. Create Action Steps

Similar to a wealth management advisor mapping out a financial plan, you can do the same with you life. Start small and think about how each day (or month, or year) you are going to attain that. I know in my goals, a big one was travel, so I started with one long weekend trip, then one extended family trip, working my way up to an international trip that involves intense planning & saving.

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Some Important Things to Remember:

  1. NO ONE IS JUDGING YOU.  I know it’s hard to believe because in today’s society there are no secrets and there is no discretion. People can be down right crude to one another. But guess what? This vision board & these goals- they’re YOURS. No one is going to see them unless you share them, and even if you do decide to share and the particular person(s) don’t agree….well fuck them…seriously. No one on this earth can tell you that what you want out of YOUR life is wrong. Always remember that.

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2. IT’S A WORK IN PROGRESS. Your visions & goals do not have to be static. Just as you grow and change, so will they. Don’t feel pressured to have to complete something the original way you wrote it down or envisioned it just because. Trust in yourself and your journey this life has given you. It’s ok to always be a work in progress. I feel like I am. b2cf4e799298e54e6dae4a22f8d7fd56

3. BE AUTHENTIC. This personal road map, or vision board, or mission, or goals, whatever you prefer to call it, is for only YOU. Try to let go of society’s norms and be authentic to what you want and what your heart tells you. Sounds a bit corny, but it’s true. As mentioned earlier, the Law of Attraction can only work if you put something out into the universe- so put out what YOU WANT….not what society tells you that you should want.

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At this point I believe I’ve covered how you and I can both work together to make 2020 OUR YEAR. Even if the only thing we do is create a vision board. 

 

xoxo Robin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rabbit Rabbit

Note: I originally wrote this post ON FEB 2nd….but figured it was still worth it to post since there’s 2 weeks left in February to work on my goals. There were consistencies including snow days and children being sick too….sigh…

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Have you ever heard someone ring in the new month by saying, “Rabbit Rabbit” ? If not, it’s an old English tradition said to bring  luck throughout that month. For myself, I say, “sayonara January” and, “Helloooo February!”. The last few weeks were filled with snow days (both at school & work), doctor visits, illnesses for the kids, and some minor financial hiccups. Between the Polar Vortex stopping and Punxsutawney Phil NOT seeing his shadow…..bring on Spring! Or at least, bring on a month that gets us closer to Spring.

With that said, with each month I try to focus on a few small goals which over the course of 12 months should add up to larger ones.

My goals for February are as follows:

  1. Financial: This is an ongoing struggle as a working mom. Make money: check….make enough to justify daycare: FAIL. Regardless, my goal for this month is to save a little money from each paycheck, even if it ends up only being $5 a week. Something is better  than nothing, right?
  2. Self Care: Another ongoing theme in the balance of life. This is an important one though. My goal this month is to take baby steps and try something new in terms of self care- such as the recently opened salt cave nearby or finally signing up for that spin class I’ve been talking about for 6 months.
  3. Relationships: I’ve been noticing lately a bit of disconnect with my close family. It is sometimes hard to comprehend how you can live with 4 other people and feel disconnected, yet we are always on the go and rarely relaxing and spending genuine time together. Electronics have a lot to do with that as well. My goal for February is to take time out to unplug and have a sit down family meal or do something we love as a family, such as our hikes or Hudson Valley excursions. Maybe we’ll get crazy and even through a family game night in the mix  😉
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What are your goals? This is about the time where people give up on their New Years Resolutions too, so don’t beat yourself up if you’ve stopped going to the gym every day or said a couple f-bombs. Remember, each day is a NEW DAY, and a NEW CHANCE.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend,

 

XO Robin

Oatmeal Schmotmeal

I’m the only one in my house who will even look at oatmeal. The other 4 members of my family are either disgusted by it’s texture or just not big into carbs for breakfast. I, However, was sick of my usual smoothies or granola bar on the run, so I made a recipe not even my egg-eaters could resist. It’s a perfect make-ahead dish for a busy morning as well.

Raspberry, Coconut, Almond Oatmeal Bake

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cup steel cut oats (I always use Bob’s Red Mills)
  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 2 bananas, peeled and sliced
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted & cooled
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • Pinch of nutmeg

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Also, make sure that your top rack is about 6″ from the broiler
  2. In a medium bowl combine almond milk, water, 1/4 cup brown sugar, egg, melted butter, and salt. Whisk until smooth.
  3. In a greased 5″ x 8″ baking dish, begin by layering raspberries, followed by oats, shredded coconut, and almonds. Next, pour above mixture over the layers, being careful to evenly distribute everything.
  4. Place the baking dish in the oven and cook for 20 minutes, or until bubbling around the edges.
  5. While oatmeal is cooking, combine cinnamon, nutmeg, and 2 tablespoons of brown sugar in a small bowl. Make sure the banana is sliced as well.
  6. Remove the bake from the oven and heat the broiler onto high. Arrange the banana slices on top of the oatmeal and then sprinkle evenly with the sugar-spice mixture. Put the dish back in the oven and broil until lightly brown and bubbling. Once cooking is complete, let it cool for about 15 minutes before serving.

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*Note:  If you’re going to eat it the next morning, simply cook as instructed and let the bake fully cool before covering tightly and refrigerating until the next day. You can reheat it in either the oven or microwave (just watch for burning the sugar if heating in the oven.) Another option is to use a 1/2 cup less water and let the bake sit overnight. The next morning, simply uncover, bring to room temperature, and cook as directed.

**Another Note: You [obviously] don’t have to use the fruits within this recipe, you can use whatever you prefer. I sometimes like to make a blueberry version with walnuts. You can omit the egg if you are dairy-free too.

 

xo Robin

Snow Day Soup

Anyone else been stuck inside with their kid(s) all week? I have and to be honest, it’s driving me a little crazy. We have done everything from arts & crafts and  baking to sleigh riding and  playing LOL Surprise Dolls (which BTW- I loathe whoever created these tiny toys). So, today I decided to make soup. I didn’t have much on hand since the snow halted my usual Tuesday shopping trip, so I made my favorite tried and true, Greek Lemon Chicken Soup. Below is the recipe. It was the perfect comfort food, pairing nicely with a piece of bread & a glass of crisp white wine (go for my favs: an Australian Sauvignon Blanc or a nice Italian Pinot Grigio).

Greek Lemon Chicken Soup

Ingredients:

  • 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 8 cups low sodium, organic chicken broth
  • Zest and juice from 3 organic lemons
  • 1 1/2 cups orzo pasta (uncooked)
  • 3 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 5 oz raw spinach (aka: one store bought container)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Place the chicken breasts in a medium saucepan and cover with a couple inches of cold water. Bring the water to a boil and let the chicken simmer for 20 minutes, periodically skimming the fat from the top of the bubbling pot as needed. When cooked through, drain water, place chicken on a cutting board, & once cooled, shred and set aside.
  2. Next, pour the 8 cups of chicken broth into a large pot. Cover and heat on high until boiling.
  3. Pour in the orzo and let cook, stirring regularly for 5-6 minutes.
  4. Then, while stirring with a wooden spoon, slowly pour in the beaten eggs. Continue to stir until eggs are fully incorporated and you see them cooked & formed into white “threads”.
  5. Remove pot from heat, add in shredded chicken, spinach, lemon juice & zest, and some salt and pepper to your liking.
  6. Put pot back on the burner and heat until boiling. Then remove and serve with a bit of feta cheese on top and a piece of garlic bread on the side. Enjoy!!

*Note: the lemony taste is strong in this soup, but one which pairs so nicely with the chicken & spinach. You can even add a little fresh oregano to make it a bit more “Mediterranean”.  

 

XO Robin

 

Beautifully Broken

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Photo by Pixabay

Aren’t we all a bit beautifully broken? Don’t we all need time for reflection? During our lives we are shaped by so many experiences- some of them good, some of them bad. Regardless, they help us to create the whole package we become. For me, I have had so many wonderful experiences: having children, getting married, falling in love, seeing beautiful places. And yet there have been times of hardship, where I’ve experienced grief, physical pain, mental unrest, and felt like “where do I go from here?”. But that’s the beauty in what God has given us: each day is another chance to start fresh. Literally every time we wake, remind yourself that YOU are in charge of your actions and responses to what happens around you. If you tell yourself today will be a bad day over and over, then guess what? It probably will be. The same goes for good days. Positive affirmations and reading daily devotionals can truly help us to create positive reinforcement in our lives.

With that, there’s a few books & journals I’ve read lately which I’d like to recommend. Even if you feel like you’re on top of your game, these are still good reads:

Girl Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis .

  Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are so You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be by [Hollis, Rachel]

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*CK: A Counter intuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by [Manson, Mark]

The Universe Has Your Back: Transform Your Fear to Faith by Gabrielle Bernstein

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Let that Sh*t Go by Monica Sweeney

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Good Days Start with Gratitude: A 52 Week Guide To Cultivate and Attitude of Gratitude  by Pretty Simple Books

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AND FINALLY, one of my favorite books for anyone looking to de-stress their life, de-clutter their mind, find clarity, or simply relax, I highly recommend The Living Clearly Method by Hilaria Baldwin. This book and it’s yoga poses literally changed my daily life.

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Happy Reading & Journaling-

xoxo Robin 

Family is Everything

I’m a strong believer in the phrase “Family is everything”. They will always love you, encourage you, and will be there for you when no one else is. I also vehemently believe that the term “family” does not have to mean blood relation. Some of the closest people to me are dear friends who I love even more than those who share my DNA.

I’m bringing this up is because my daughter recently did a Girl Scout project about her ancestry. While working on it with her, it got me thinking about my own ancestry and the true meaning of family.

For those who know me, you know that growing up I was extremely close to all four of my grandparents. My maternal grandparents were the quiet ones who showed love through cooking a hearty Sunday meal, or taking us out in the backyard to look at my papa’s vegetable garden. My paternal grandparents, however, were loving individuals who opened my eyes to the beauty of culture, travel, and simple pleasures such as that of a Beatles record or a game of cribbage. I vividly remember days spent with all four of these beautiful people who had such a large impact on the person I am today.

With that said, I’m very sad to report that none of my grandparents are on this earth today. Luckily, my three children got to meet most of them, and their stories live on throughout pictures, recipes, and verbal anecdotes. Therefore, I’m happy to share with you below some recent photos and a recipe I discovered & shared with my daughter for her project.

 

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My mother’s father in WW II with his picture of my grandmother always close by

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My paternal grandfather in the 1940’s. He had a wonderful smile 🙂

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My paternal grandmother as a teenager:  such a beauty

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My Nana in her younger years. She was so beautiful.

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My great-great grandfather who was born in southern England and immigrated to Canada in the mid-1800’s. Anyone who has ever seen my father will know that the resemblance between him and his great-grandfather is uncanny.

Irish Soda Bread

This recipe is from my maternal grandmother, Nora . She was born in America but her heritage was 100% Irish. Her family originated in the cities of Cork & Killarney in Southern Ireland.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • ½ cup raisins
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp caraway seeds
  • ½ cup butter

Directions:

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt. Gently add remaining ingredients and once dough is formed, turn out onto a floured surface. Carefully knead dough and shape into a round loaf. Bake in 350 degree pre-heated oven (on a parchment lined baking sheet) for 45-50 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.

**Note: be sure to place an “x” on the dough with a very sharp knife before baking. This represents the cross, and the purpose is to protect your household. Although my family is traditionally Roman Catholic, it’s a nice way to honor the tradition even if you do not share the exact beliefs**

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In the future I can only hope and pray that my children (& grandchildren) will think of me as fondly as I remember my grandparents.

xoxo Robin 

 

A Fancy Make Ahead Dish

Sometimes when we think of “make ahead” dishes, we automatically think of rubbery day old chicken or perhaps a simple baked ziti that can be popped in the oven. There’s nothing wrong with making casseroles ahead of time….trust me I do it on the regular…..but what I want to show you is that sometimes we can make “fancy” or “out of the box” dishes ahead of time with minimal prep too.

This week was a particularly tough one for me, as two of my three children were sick with completely different ailments (strep and a stomach bug) while the littlest one was fine- still running 1000 mph as I dashed from one room to the next. Laundry took up a lot of my time too lol. Regardless, us adults needed to eat. Although I had been living on rice cakes and tuna packets earlier in the day, I decided to make a savory galette. I began during the afternoon while (miraculously) the children were all asleep (for about 30 min lol). I took this time to make the dough (recipe below…..but SPOILER ALERT: it’s made completely in the food processor!!!). Once I had that done and it was chilling in the fridge, I prepped the base sauce ( EASY again with only THREE ingredients). Covered the sauce with plastic wrap and popped that in the fridge too. Next was the caramelized onions. This part obviously took the longest, but was still faster than expected (thank you strong stove top & my god given talent of holding toddlers in one arm while stirring food with the other). Finally, I knew I wanted to add a meat, as my hubby usually requires this in order to consider food a meal lol. Upon opening my fridge I came across some hickory smoked bacon, and quickly threw it on a sheet pan and popped it in the oven for about 12-15 minutes. At this point all the kids were awake, and my prep time was done.

About 4 hours later, I simply pre-heated the oven to 400 degrees, pulled out the dough and let it sit on the counter until pliable, piled on the toppings, folded, & cooked. Seriously so easy, and although I was apprehensive about exclusively using the food processor to make the dough, it came out extremely soft and flaky aka PERFECTION. Here’s the recipe I used:

Caramelized Onion & Bacon Galette with Savory Parmesan Cream

For the Dough: Combine 2 cups all-purpose flower, 2 tablespoons sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt (use fine sea salt if possible) in a food processor, simply pulsing a few times until combined.  Next, chop up one full stick of cold unsalted butter (aka 8 tablespoons) into tiny cubes. Add them into the mixture, then pulse until combined and you see pea sized crumbs formed.  Continuing to pulse, slowly add 1/4 cup of ice-cold water until the dough is just coming together. (you’ll know it’s ready when you can pinch together pieces and they stay together. If you need more water, be sure to add very slowly, with longer pulses and scraping down the sides of the food processor if necessary.) Once the dough is complete, turn it out onto a large piece of parchment paper, knead together until a ball is formed, then flatten into a small disk. Place another piece of parchment paper on top, and roll out until you have approx a 12 inch circle. (Don’t worry if the circle isn’t perfect, mine always ends up lop-sided lol). Take the dough and still using the two pieces of parchment paper, place on a large cookie sheet & refrigerate at least 2 hours or until ready to use. * Note: if you are going to use the dough another day, make sure you cover it tightly. This dough can also be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months *

For the Parmesan Cream: In a small bowl combine 1 cup mascarpone cheese and 3 tablespoons milk (if possible don’t use a milk alternative like coconut or almond milk, because it may negatively affect the taste of the sauce. You can use water, but go slowly and add one tablespoon at a time). Mix with a small flexible spatula or spoon until milk is fully incorporated. Next, add 1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese and 1 tablespoon finely minced fresh basil (or thyme or parsley whichever herb is your favorite) and stir well. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Caramelized Onions: Using a very sharp knife, carefully cut 4 small-medium sized white onions as thin as you can. Then, using a pan or dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons butter until foamy. Once foaming subsides, add the onions and cook until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes. Stir to avoid burning, add 3 minced garlic cloves, and continue cooking for about 30 seconds. Next, add 2 tablespoons sugar, and 1/2 tablespoon of all-purpose flour. Continue to cook the onions on low heat for about 30 minutes, stirring regularly, until dark brown in color. Be patient, sometimes the process may take more like 45 minutes, depending on your onions & stove. The point is to get them a deep brown, very soft in texture, and stir consistently as to avoid burning. Once they are ready, set aside and let cook in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

How to cook the Bacon: Take 1/2 lb bacon of your choosing and bake on a foil lined sheet pan for 12-16 minutes at 375 degrees. When fully cooked, drain on paper towel lined plate. Let cool, chop, and then refrigerate until using.

Assembling & Cooking the Galette: Take out all the components and allow them to come to room temperature. It’s important that the dough be pliable or else it will crack. Once ready, begin by spreading a layer of the cheese “sauce” in the center of the dough. Create about a 10 inch circle, leaving room around the edges. Next,  place the caramelized onions over the sauce. Finally, add the bacon pieces in an even layer. Finish assembly by taking each side and folding it in- don’t worry about this being fancy- the whole point is to make a “rustic” tart. (Mine looked like a deformed diamond, but sometimes taste is more important than presentation lol) Lastly, bake the tart at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes, or until dough is cooked through.

Hope you enjoyed this recipe. Sorry I didn’t have a full picture of the final product- my husband tore into it before I could snap one. But the bottom right hand photo is of two pieces that were left for me to eat lol. They were delish if I do say so myself 😉

Remember though, that this recipe just a guide. You can make a galette sweet, savory, or tailor it to any specific dietary needs. Here’s a couple of other unique options I like:

  • nectarine, smoked mozzarella, arugula, & balsamic
  • salted caramel & apple
  • asparagus & goat cheese
  • hot Italian sausage, zucchini, & ricotta
  • butternut squash, purple onion, sage, & brown butter
  • mixed berry with lemon glaze
  • THE POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS 🙂

 

Let me close out this post by saying that although the infamous French cook Julia Child stated, “Cooking Well Doesn’t Mean Cooking Fancy” ; I think sometimes it does! And in my mind, fancy doesn’t have to equal difficult. So go out there and make something easy & beautiful!

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XOXO Robin