Life + Style

Happy birthday my dearest! I am not able to put into words how much I love you. You’ve had my whole heart from the moment I laid my eyes on you. You are the face that launched a thousand sleepless nights. You are a thinker, posing intricate questions, and remembering small details. I am so grateful and honored to be your mom. I think you are the most incredible seven-year-old I have ever met.

Today You Are Seven

Today You Are Seven

You make me laugh with your wittiness, and you make me feel like I’m talking to a friend whenever we just start talking about random stuff. You’re very independent, and you have a very generous nature.  I live for you kind heart, gentle soul and for you always choosing you even when it’s not easy.

Today You Are 7

I hope that this birthday is seven times more exciting and seven times more unforgettable. Don’t be afraid to dream bigger and to make that dream come true. Take more chances and get ready to be rewarded richly! Your future is bright and beautiful, my sweet doll.

I love you so much! Happy 7th birthday!

Life + Style

Happy Thanksgiving week!

As an expat, I have embraced Thanksgiving as one of my favorite American holidays! The focus is on gratitude, great food and wine, not to mention it is socially acceptable to go for seconds, and thirds and leftovers are all the reason for overcooking! To be honest, I still don’t get the marshmallow and sweet potato thing, but… Everyone seems to be in a good mood and it feels like the official kick off to the Holiday season.

My fairy godmother S and I are hosting what started off as a smallish Thanksgiving dinner, has now turned into 15+ of our dearest and closest family and friends and I am loving every bit of it…we’re calling all the shots on the menu and wines…like I said, my idea of heaven! I guess you can say, I am finally an adult. The day you host your first Thanksgiving is the official crossover to adulthood!

We are doing a fairly traditional Thanksgiving dinner of roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cauliflower cheese gratin, cranberry sauce, gravy, lima beans, apple pie and never-ending list of appetizers. As you might expect, wine will be flowing, but we asked each guest to bring their favorite bottle of wine. Perhaps I am more excited about the wines than the dessert.

Needless to say, I will not be getting up for any Black Friday shopping but I will indulge in the leftovers, probably my favorite thing about Thanksgiving. Here are a few of the recipes that I would love to try…

Turkey-Bacon-Avocado Grilled Cheese

Thanksgiving Leftovers Breakfast “Burritos”

Next-Day Thanksgiving Pastries [probably my favorite]

Three cheese turkey cranberry and sage quesadilla

Leftover Chicken or Turkey Pasta Skillet

 Leftover Stuffin’ Muffins

 

Life + Style

October is perfect in every way, but I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with it. I love that it starts to get colder outside and humid mornings become a thing of a past. What I don’t like is the holiday that everyone seems to love so much: Halloween. Go ahead, gasp in disbelief. I’m so used to that reaction.

halloween

From the overwhelming task of picking a clever costume to pumpkin spice flavored everything, Halloween is not all it’s cracked up to be.  There’s so much pressure to have a good time. Picking a costume is stressful. Couples costumes are the worst. Guessing what someone’s costume is can be awkward (yup it happened to me today for the office Halloween dress up). Candy corn starts taking over shelves and somehow I still have the candy from last year sitting around. Previews for pointless horror movies increase tenfold. Pumpkin Spice everything is overwhelming. And pumpkin carving is a lot harder than it looks.

I have softened up a bit and became more accepting of Halloween since Kiki has been around: how can you resist the miniature monsters, ghosts, superheroes, witches and princesses? I’m still not dreaming of a Halloween filled with Reese’s peanut butter cups, mini Snickers and king-size Hershey’s bars, but as a “reward for Halloweening around” I’ve been dreaming of perfect wine pairings with all of my favorite candy!

halloweencandy

I am a firm believer that parents should get “paid” for Haloweening around in candy currency…choose your favorite and enjoy the double treat! Now this is a Halloween I can get behind…  what’s better than my favorite wines paired with my favorite candy… #heaven! Let the party begin!

candyandwinepairing

Life + Style

Last three weeks have been pure magic. I am running on adrenaline, sugar highs, copious amounts of coffee and rosé. Both Kiki and I celebrated our birthdays and Mother’s Day over and over, and if it was up to us, we would both continue with celebrations. I guess an apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

One of my biggest fears when I became a single mom is how does one celebrate occasions like Mother’s Day without feelings of loss, emptiness, awkwardness, sadness, and anger… I was worried not so much for me, but for Kiki and how she would feel with a surmounting pressure to do something special for her mom without anyone’s help. There is this expectation and facade that somehow every mother should be waited on hand and foot and taken to an amazing brunch, gifted lavish gifts and flower arrangements. Mother’s Day has a way of making single moms feel quite alone, kind of like Valentine’s Day can remind single people how single they are.

Happy Mother's Day

No one teaches you how to be a single mom and how to celebrate these holidays, but somehow I was given a set of fairy godmothers and a thoughtful ex who made sure I felt loved, cherished and celebrated. I am thankful that my daughter is growing up surrounded by positive role models of strong, fearless, kind, thoughtful, loving women and a father, who shows respect and thoughtfulness to her mom despite our divorce.

Single Mom Mother's Day

This Mother’s Day, Kiki and I were in NYC [Kiki’s only birthday wish] with two of my best friends whom I call my fairy godmothers and on Sunday morning I woke up to my favorite Starbucks breakfast in bed with a pink flower and a card.  All the while there was a beautifully decorated Mother’s Day cake waiting for me at home. Kiki’s dad arranged for Kiki to decorate a cake at school along with multitude of cards with  scribbles “I love you mama! You’re the best mama ever!”  The thoughtfulness of these gifts – the planning and the effort and the surprise – moved me to tears and somehow made for a difficult day to be truly a day of love and cherishment. The best part – how excited Kiki was to do all these things for me with a little help of her fairy godmothers! The glimmer of happiness in her eyes was the best gift a mother could receive on Mother’s Day!Mother's Day in Bed

 When they say “it takes a village”…it truly does, because I don’t know how I would navigate this crazy life of single motherhood without my village.

To all the single parents out there, know that you are always loved and cherished by the little people that made us parents and my only hope for each and everyone one of you is to have your village!

Life + Style

It’s been a hot minute since I’ve done a Friday links post and there’s lots of inspiration whirling around in my brain, so I figured it was a good time to share a few that caught my eye this week. After a flurry of the week and life’s events, I am happy to have a carefree weekend with Kiki and do our thing…movies, Disney on Ice, our weekend walks/runs, trying out a new coffee shop (to us), library and soaking in some vitamin C.

Friday Chat

A few interesting + noteworthy things for you to peruse this weekend:

The immaculate style of Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, what an icon…

8 simple ways to reduce your daily stress. I’ve been working hard on these.

5 questions to ask when you’re buying wine (and know nothing about wine).

More wine topics…and we’re being told we’ve been drinking champagne all wrong.

Did someone say wine movies….

I love my foam roller  – it has been my daily practice and my back is very grateful – the best spent $11. Here’s one more reason to use it… it can actually make you leaner!

How to go to bed earlier. #4 is my favorite – bed curfew truly works!

Train yourself to be less busy. I actually need and want this!

~What are your weekend plans? I’d love to hear what you are up to!~

Life + Style

I’ve discovered a secret to a stress free week…Meatless Mondays and Meal Planning! With that, meatless Mondays are here to stay! Choosing meat-free meals on Monday is a great way to look and feel better, it kind of goes along with that new week, new beginning theory.

Flexitarian Kid

I am definitely not a vegetarian (after all, I haven’t met lamb chops I didn’t devour), but certainly a flexetarian…yup, technically, a faux vegetarian. In the faux foodie home, we eat significantly more whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, chocolate and occasionally meat. Meat is usually our side dish! If it was up to Kiki, chocolate/Nutella would be our main dish, but who can blame her!!

Roasted cauliflower, chickpeas and quinoa with mustard dressing

The main gist of the fauxfoodie flexitarian diet is exactly what it sounds like: It’s flexible. And in keeping with the flexible theme, there are various approaches: beginner, advanced, and expert. We are definitely the beginner flexitarians…about two vegetarian meals (dinners)  a week. Since Kiki is still in development stage, I am very conscious of what I feed her, focusing on eating “calorie-poor but nutrient-rich”, meaning bulking up our meals with fiber-rich veggies and plenty of other protein sources like quinoa, white beans, lentils, and chickpeas. It’s definitely not an all-or-nothing approach.  Instead, like many things in life, moderation is key. A little bit of veggies, a little bit of meat, a little bit of sweets!Kiki and Trader Joe's Pembroke Pines

This week’s dinner plan is here and it’s a good one! It’s filled with hearty, delicious, flavorful, vegetarian dinners, and great for meal prepping on Sunday (and having lunches for the next few days!) And if you decide not to spend meal prepping on Sundays, these recipes are fast enough to get on the table nightly and they are not salads!

weekly menu

Sunday: Stir fried veggie rice

Monday: Gwyneth Paltrow’s Roasted cauliflower, chickpeas, quinoa with mustard dressing

Tuesday: Dinner with Mr. S

Wednesday: Peanut noodles with orange and red peppers

Thursday: Black bean burgers with tomato, corn and avocado salsa

Friday: Mr. S’s bday celebration starts

Saturday: Mr. S’s bday celebration continues…

Here are ten easy and quick ways to go enjoy flexitarian diet without feeling restricted and if you want to learn more about flexing your diet, I would highly recommend reading this book…it was truly an eye opener how easy it is to switch meat to a side dish and veggies to a main course!

  1. Grill a veggie burger and enjoy it with all the classic toppings such as ketchup, mustard and pickles.
  2. Enjoy hummus as a dip for veggies or as a sandwich spread in place of mayonnaise to add flavor with fewer calories and less fat.
  3. Toss canned white beans (rinsed and drained) into your favorite pasta dishes for extra protein and fiber.
  4. Make a fast and flavorful burrito with canned low-fat refried beans, lettuce, tomato and guacamole.
  5. Top a whole grain pizza crust with pine nuts and veggies such as spinach and onions instead of heavy cheese and meat toppings.
  6. Heat canned vegetarian chili and pour on a baked potato for a healthy meal in a hurry.
  7. Make a speedy stir-fry by adding frozen veggies, frozen pre-cooked brown rice, frozen edemame or tofu and teriyaki sauce to a hot wok or pan.
  8. For a quick brown bag lunch, mix Italian salad dressing with canned lentils (rinsed and drained), shredded carrots, chopped cucumber, sliced red bell pepper and stuff into a whole grain pita.
  9. Stash an emergency snack in your purse or desk drawer for times when hunger hits.
  10. Mix together canned black beans with jarred salsa for a satisfying tortilla chip dip.

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:7]

 As always, if you have meal plan feedback, please send me an email at fauxfoodiegirl@gmail.com! I’d absolutely love to hear from you! Wishing you a great week!

Life + Style

This was such a lovely weekend. I’ve been craving a slow, lazy, relaxing weekend, and I finally had one. Sure, a getaway somewhere would have been great, but it’s amazing how much better I felt after just two days  of unplugging and resting at home!

Five Minute Journal

I intentionally planned a weekend with lots of quality sleep, mini naps, good food, catching up on reading, very few errands, a kid birthday party, checking out a new restaurant in Brickell (Or new to me…have you been to Tacology?) and lots and lots of playing in the house. Kiki might have not been the fan of spending so much time at home, but with bad winds and somewhat rainy weather, I had no desire to go anywhere, so we created entertainment at home.

Avocado Egg Sandwich

It gave Kiki a chance to play with toys that have been collecting dust in the corners of her room and most of all to expand her creativity…and when I say expand her creativity, in Kiki’s fashion, she took it to another level! She took the iPad and created toy videos and asked me to create her own YouTube Kids channel where she could demonstrate the functionality of her toys. So what does a proud mama do, create a YouTube Kids channel “Kiki and Company“, now I just need to upload all the videos 🙂  I promise, I will work on editing the quality of the videos, but I am beyond impressed at the concept and execution by my five year old! Need I remind you she’s five!!! I’ve created a digital media mini monster! So please subscribe to her YouTube Kids Channel and follow her toy adventures! I know it would mean a world to her.

Painting with a Twist

 This weekend was also a first in our mother-daughter relationship…I left Kiki alone at the birthday party for three hours! Until this Saturday, I would happily take Kiki to birthday parties (dare I say my child has a busier social life than I do?!!) stay there for a few hours, talking to other parents and eating pizza, candy and cake, riding the sugar highs! This time, the party invitation came with detailed instructions that the party will be at the painting studio for 10 girls and the host mom offered for all the parents to drop off their daughters, and leave them in a supervised painting class (the host mom was also staying and took everyone’s numbers, texting every hour to let parents know how the girls were doing). I must say I was a bit skeptical at first since I didn’t know the host mom, but at the encouragement of my trusted parental adviser L, I followed the party instructions, gave Kiki a big hug, and she was off.  She turned around once and grinned at me with her big toothless smile, which was more of her saying “Mom, don’t worry, I will be fine” and she was off into her big independent world!

I must admit, it was a great feeling to see her confidently walk away, and have an amazing time without me hovering over (I promise I am not a helicopter mom…OK, maybe just a little bit). For some, five might be too early to teach independence, but I firmly believe there is no right or wrong way to tackle and move through stages of our child’s development. Every child requires different parenting as every parent will do their best based on knowledge, experiences, and available parenting tools.  Even the smallest steps are monumental in guiding our children to take another step toward becoming a free-standing human beings. My trusted parental adviser L always says “Good parents give their children roots and wings—roots to know where home is and wings to fly off and practice what has been taught them.”

The three hours of my independence, I spent getting the whole house cleaned and even managed to plan our weekly menu. Once we were home, I was thrilled to be able to just sit on the couch and enjoying the rest of the Saturday watching Moana. And I am sure now you are wondering what we are eating this week…

weekly menu

SUNDAY: Chicken Fajita Pasta Casserole

MONDAY: Vegetarian Peanut Noodles #meatlessmondays

TUESDAY: Dinner with Mr. S

WEDNESDAY: Dinner in NYC

THURSDAY: Turkey Burgers and Tatertots (with my supermom cape on, I am back in 36 hours)

FRIDAY: Homemade pizza (our Fridays tradition)

SATURDAY:….we have no plans, so I will leave it at that!

What are you meal plans for this week? I promise you both of the recipes that we are making this week can be prepared on Sundays, and the noodles can be eaten both warm or cold, meatless or not, and all the recipes are 30 minute recipes!!!

Hope your week is just as amazing as you are!!!

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:6]

Life + Style

Well, hello March! February definitely flew right by, without so much as a whisper! So cheers to sending February off and welcoming March with lots of motivation and sunshine. I also wanted to say hello before my blog grows cobwebs. I have so many blog topics running through my head, albeit time, priorities… but I miss writing. I miss seeing words float on the screen and pressing PUBLISH. Writing helps me reflect, and when I reflect, I learn.

The lesson I have learned this week… there is very little that escapes the little eyes aka Kiki’s eyes. People have told me she’s a mini me, but until I woke up this Sunday morning and saw her writing out her version of the weekly meal plan, I never took it seriously.

meal plan

On Sunday mornings, I usually I drink my coffee, peruse cookbooks and recipes and based on the schedule, I pick out a few meals and share them with Kiki to get her approval. Kiki approved dinners are always a guaranteed success on school nights, and like her mamma, she feasts with her eyes first. We really do teach by example – modeling affects behavior far more than telling our children what to do. This lesson wasn’t just about imitating the meal planning but rather imitating life the way I lead it. I know that I have to do my best to be the kind of person that I want my child to be, we all do; because our children are watching. We are the teachers of the next generation and they are learning from our beliefs and behaviors.

If it was up to Kiki, our weekly meal plan would look like this:

weekly menu plan

But lucky for us, our meal plan this week looked like this:

weekly menu

Sunday: Pasta with goat cheese, chicken, asparagus and broccoli

Monday: Work dinner

Tuesday: Roasted brussels sprouts salad

Wednesday: Toasted tuscan rustic bread with avocado and

Thursday: Slow Cooker Cashew Chicken

Friday: Kiki’s home made pizza

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:5]

What did you make this week? I’d love to hear what you’re cooking up these days…please share your recipes, I am always looking for ideas.

Life + Style

Hello February
I hope this week is finding you happy, healthy, nourished and caffeinated.

Me? A little over caffeinated but feeling pretty good about the week I’ve had and I attribute it to last weekend full of relaxation, good sleep, yummy foods, and an extraordinary Sunday prep. I promise, a blog post of Sunday prep is coming…it’s truly crucial in every aspect of my week [read: LIFE]. I took some time last Saturday to sit in my back yard, reading, napping and daydreaming. There’s something rejuvenating about the wind against my face and rays of sunshine warming my skin. And besides all the other to-dos of the weekend which is filled with kid birthday parties, visits with friends, and never ending errands, I am hoping to find five minutes to sit in the back yard and read. I am happy to report, I am onto the third book of the year….falling back into reading has been amazing. It fuels my creativity and brings me much needed relaxation.

Books
Somehow we have found ourselves in February, and the theme for this month is love. Cupid has me feeling a bit mushy, so this month is devoted to everything love. Love can be a slippery slope for some of us and can create powerful and confusing feelings. Love comes in so many forms: love of our family, our partner, our pets, our friends, food, books, music, art, travel and so many more wonderful ways. I couldn’t resist and not to share this cute image of expressions of love…

Food_Valentines

Love is all around us…

Whatcha making for Game Day? How about these nachos?

What Super Bowl is about… Kudos, Budweiser.

I am sleeping so much better!

I can’t wait to see this movie. Girl power.

Food is rich in history and these 10 stories about women and food prove it.

I like my pizza cold, but this is the best trick in my book.

For all my fellow travel junkies…which airline has the healthiest food?

Thanks for hanging out with me…wishing you an amazing weekend, just as you are!

Life + Style

Someone once told me “say yes to opportunities and adventures!” so I said YES to a weekend away. Kiki’s one Christmas wish was her very own suitcase and she’s being “dying to go on a trip” so on Friday night when I told her to pack up her suitcase, her first question was “where are we flying to”…which led me to explaining to her that travel doesn’t always include an airplane and that concept was not quite clear to her until we got in the car and drove for 4 hours to Key West. let’s just say she prefers flying 🙂

We went to the Keys to support my friend J run her “Nth” marathon…this woman is a super human and a wonderful example to both me and Kiki. Her determination, strong will and hard work are absolutely superb and it was such an honor to be there at the finish line to cheer her on! Makes me want to get back to running races again and it was a great lesson for Kiki of determination and how important it is to finish whatever you start. I am not sure that Kiki got all of that, but she was quite interested in the medal and that left quite an impression on her that she wants to run one day to get the medal.

The weekend was everything I asked for and more; we enjoyed an abundance of food, laid-back charm, and beautiful scenery.  The four hour car ride with Kiki was quite smooth…we talked, we sang and decided that both of our favorite color is now ocean turquoise blue!

Key West with Kids 5

Key West with Kids 7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The views on our way down were quite spectacular! I have to admit I was nervous how she will take the ride, and packed a lot of car appropriate entertainment [coloring book, her writing agenda where she practices her sight words, iPad, small toys and snacks], but she barely needed any of them. Once we got to the island we did tons of walking [close to 20 miles], ate delicious foods, indulged in ice cream, sunsets and sunrises!

Key West with Kids 4

Key West Sunset

The island is absolute magic of pastel-hued, conch-style homes, a complete feast to the eyes. It’s an easily walkable quaint city, not really kids friendly [read: open containers, bars galore and bustling night life] but it’s easy to get around it all, and still enjoy it with a kid. And to be honest, I am not the one to shield her from life, and she is still oblivious to so much of it and I kind of just went with the flow. We did all the touristy stuff…the Duval Street, The Hemingway House, the Southernmost point buoy, Mallory Square, KW Lighthouse and Cemetery, and my favorite; endless walks on side streets, chasing roosters, and playing treasure maps with Kiki. Walking the island was somewhat challenging to Kiki…she whined a lot, and when I say a lot, I really mean A LOT…so to get her mind off of walking, J got her a map of the island and she pretended to be our tour guide!  Needless to say on our way back, Kiki slept most of the ride and I took in all the breathtaking views of the sunset and reflected on loss and love.  We are both missing our sous-chef. We talk about Brinkley all the time, and it’s so hard not having her with us. So much emptiness…

Key West with Kids

Though it was a quick weekend gateway, we returned home refreshed and eager to lace up our sneakers and get running! The first run was a hard one, but to get my mind off of the actual running, I started planning our weekly menu and until I figured out each day, I wasn’t going to stop. Somehow I finished with 3 miles under my belt…[we shall not mention the time it took me to finish those 3 miles, but I finished it]. There is absolutely no theme to this weeks menu, but rather just trying to eat the foods we already have in the fridge and the pantry since I have not made it to the grocery store….Usually my best menus are created on my runs or in a shower…

weekly menu

Monday: Chicken soup for the soul

Tuesday: Mama’s night out

Wednesday: One Pan Healthy Chicken and Veggies

 Thursday: Sausage, Shaved Brussel Sprouts and Parmesan Pasta

Friday: Turkey Sloppy Joe Nachos

Saturday: Homemade pizza party

Hope your weekend was a glorious one too and you enjoyed the extra day off…what will you be eating this week? Please share with me, I need some ideas….

@lifewithflavors

LET'S BE INSTA-FRIENDS