Original White Lasagna 

Original White Lasagna

I created many original recipes when my kids were young. My younger daughter disliked tomato sauce, so I made this gorgeous baked pasta dish with fresh whipping cream. Below is my recipe. 

White Lasagna

Ingredients:

1 package dried no boil Lasagna 

15 oz.  whole milk ricotta cheese 

2 cage free eggs

1 pint organic heavy whipping cream

8 oz. mozzarella balls

1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest

Fresh basil leaves

Fresh grated Parmesan 

Salt and pepper 

Steps:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Whip eggs with ricotta by hand or with mixer.
  • Layer ingredients starting with cream on the bottom and ending with layer of cheese on top.
  • Cook until brown on top.
  • Allow to cool before cutting.
  • Sprinkle with Parmigiana cheese.

Sydney’s White Lasagna

Love and blessings to all.

Chicken Soup

Quick Chicken Noodle Soup

Because of the healing properties in chicken soup, I always make a version of one of many recipes when someone is ill.

I even made it for my dog Polly. She cut her paw open on a piece of glass walking through the creek with the kids when she was a puppy, and it refused to heal and became infected. She then had an adverse reaction to the anitibotics, so taking matters into my own hands, I fed her homemade chicken and brown rice soup and vanilla Greek yogurt.

Sometimes, I make my own noodles and you can do this with a simple pasta recipe, a rolling pin and a knife. This was fun for the kids when they were small, as making and handling dough is always high entertainment for children. Then, you simply cook the fresh pasta in the broth and vegetables. Or, I use orzo, or any kind of rice.

For myself, I like rice, tarragon, and lemon when I’m feeling under the weather. If I’m just hungry, I like to add bourbon and cream (see my recipe for Chicken, Whiskey and Wild Rice Soup here). 

My daughter wanted egg noodles and just carrots, so that’s what I made. I usually make my own broth, and this is obviously better, but time was limited, so I used this quick recipe instead.

It’s no secret that you can now buy excellent organic broth and pre-roasted organic chicken in most grocery stores, and although not made with fresh herbs from my own garden, they are not as bad as they once were.

Quick Chicken Noodle Soup

Ingredients:

2 cups shredded cooked organic chicken from Whole Foods

32 oz. organic chicken broth

1 cup diced carrots

1 package egg noodles

Sprig of thyme

1 teaspoon lemon zest

Salt and white pepper to taste

Steps:

  • Add diced carrots and broth and bring to a rolling boil to cook carrots.
  • Reduce heat, add noodles, and cook per package directions.
  • Remove from heat, add thyme, lemon zest and season to taste.

Love and blessings to all.

Gift of Time


There is something to be said for down time. It’s not often a person is handed the gift of time. I stayed up until 1:30 in the morning eating ice cream, red vines, and peanut butter cups while watching Pirates of the Caribbean with my daughter.

I’m typically productivity minded. The only time I relax is with friends at dinner, or at the Yacht Club, or on boats. It’s difficult to multitask on a boat. When I’m home, I time phone calls with chores. I have a set schedule. I feel I have no time to waste. Somewhere along the way, I learned not to relax. 

These last days, while caring for my daughter, I’ve trimmed my roses, weeded my flower beds, cleaned out cabinets, finished my taxes, and reorganized my coffee cups, and cooked and cooked. 

But for hours and hours, I’ve spent time with my daughter. I’ve also spent a good deal of time with Jeff, Dan and Chris, my neighbors and late husband’s golf foursome, who have been a constant in our lives. 

Last night, Jeff brought us dinner, and Chris stopped by, earlier Dan was here with donuts, and his daughter. 

I love my neighborhood, and the kind and supportive people who live around us. Guardian angels all. 

Love and blessings. 

Love & Relationships

As I take care of my daughter after knee surgery, I remember an incident when a close family member of mine came to my home after I had surgery.

I have a rare lung disease, and am now in remission, but for a time I was not. And this family member stole all of the pain medication I needed to help me recover from having my neck cut open and parts of my lungs removed.

On my second day in recovery, my close relative left me with one pill out of thirty.

When I called her, and asked if she had taken my drugs after visiting, she insisted it was my 17 year old babysitter, who had taken them, and not her.

No one can ever say that I’ve not been forgiving. I trusted and believed my close relative and distanced myself from my beloved babysitter.

Later, I saw the truth, but I still forgave and allowed this harmful person in my life.

“Family is not necessarily your blood. We are raised to think that but sometimes our family lets us down and we end up creating a new family for ourselves. Family is the people you can rely on, people who won’t judge you, people who have your back, people you can trust, people who are loyal.’

– Madonna

Love and blessings to all.

Be Like Water

“The river will take whatever goes with it.”

I thought to myself this morning, after a nightmare, and before my daughter’s knee surgery to repair her miniscus and ACL injuries from a recent soccer collision.  

“Be determined,” I tell myself in light of this. 

Then, “be still, let God, be strong, wise, and calm.”

As a last resort, “be like water that doesn’t resist, but accepts what comes and continues on.”  

Predictably, this does the trick. 

I keep thinking at some point all of this will get easier. It does not.

The night before, I read everything there was to read on knee surgery. My sailing friend warned me of the pain she felt when she had a similar surgery done, but it wasn’t mentioned in my pre-op interviews. It was glossed over to say the very least. I’m sure she’s not surprised. How to warn a person of this?

The fires turned our beautiful Moraga neighborhood a dreary grey. Walnut Creek, looked much the same. The surgery proved more complicated than at first appeared, both her interior and exterior miniscus was severely damaged, putting the hope of the simultaneous ACL surgery, and recovery, out of the question. 

As usual we had much support, our neighbor, Dan, was with us for the entire day. Other friends arrived after, at the hospital, and then more at home. Siena’s sweet, and sunny nature attracts so many people, love and support. 

I’m not going to lie, it was pure hell to see her in pain and crying. They had to give her three additional doses of morphine, and a second nerve block, before the pain was under control, and she stopped crying. 

Of course, I was crying too. She couldn’t see me because I was cradling her head in the hospital bed as she screamed. I kept thinking it felt similar to having a baby; the pain, but also the relief that it was over, and she was going to be alright. 

Later, she watched movies with a group of friends in her room. Our home is full of flowers, candy, balloons, and cards. My lovely daughter is asleep now.

The smoke from the Napa fire has mostly cleared, and all is well. I’m sitting peacefully with my dog, as everyone sleeps. 

Grateful.

Love and blessings to all. 

Whittier College 

Sydney & Paris, Whittier College

I am blessed to have my best friend in Newport Beach, so I was able to drop my daughter at college and then come back the next day when it was not so hot. 

We made friends over the summer with another student, Mckenna and her mother Debra, so we met for lunch and walked the beautiful campus together on Monday.

I peered into the bookstore, so many interesting books to read, topics like: social justice, politics, biology and philosophy. Many of them I’ve read, but I can see my daughter perched somewhere on this beautiful tranquil campus obsorbing the knowledge of the ages. 

Whittier is one of those rare places, where the architecture of the future has been perfectly melded with the past. Every nook and cranny is beautiful with graceful arches, red tile roofs, winding paths with white flowers along the logical shaded walkways. The trees are the work of a century of talented arborists, and the new buildings are deeply embedded in the landscape as if they were always planned to be built there, made of flat sandstone and thick green glass. Stunning. 

My daughter, calm and lovely, wearing a pink linen top, with her hair pulled back in a simple knot like a ballerina, sits on a park bench beside me, as if she were always meant to be there as well. 

I know there will come a moment when I have to say goodbye to her, and I’m not sure how I will feel. 

In the end, I hug her and tell her how much I love her, and then I drive away. 

After the year she’s had, there is no way that this is not a happy occasion. I think of all the ways this story could be different. I don’t know if I could lose my father, and be sitting where she is, only a year later. 

She told me she looked forward to the calm of college, and meeting new people, and having time to read. Few people go to college to be calm, but if that’s what she is looking for, then I think she’s found it.

Love and blessings. 

Performing Arts Center
Dorms for upperclassmen
Student lounges and cafeterias
Faculty housing
New Friends

College Dropoff & The New Normal 

Of course it took eleven hours to get there. The temperature was rising as we sat still on the scorching freeway, the car thermostat reading 116 degrees. 

Cars were scattered along the road. Break downs and accidents both. We stopped for dinner. My daughter was eerily agreeable to everything as she has been now for weeks. Every time she put her arms around me and thanked me for anything, I would think, this is going to be really hard. Very hard. 

After months of gathering items for her dorm room, we left arguably the most important things; her sheets, pillows and down comforter behind. My dear friend, Sandy drove them down to us the next day. Thank goodness for friends. 

By 11 p.m. we were passing hills that were burning. It was surprising that we could just drive by while they blazed. I thought, well, this is fitting.

We spent the weekend in Newport Beach with friends. We had done this so many times before it didn’t feel unusual. We made breakfast, walked the island, had friends for lunch, and went to the beach. Fun. 

On Sunday we moved her in.  It was 110 degrees outside and 120 inside.  

After, I headed back to Newport for a birthday party. Normal. The new normal. 

Winding Down

The days are winding down until my daughter leaves for college. I know she’s ready, so I don’t have the normal anxiety of letting go, because I know she will be fine. Still, there is this shadow around her leaving. 

Its difficult to not think of this as an ending to the journey we have been on together. I think about the day she came into the world, and now in a few days, I will be walking away from her, leaving her behind. This seems like an impossibility no matter how much I have prepared for it. 

There have been too many endings this summer, and I see this as true because my sixteen year old has been very close these last days. She is on my heels as I walk around the house, she peers into the rooms I am sitting in as I work. I ask her what she needs, and she tells me nothing, and walks away.

We’ve always thought of our beautiful two story traditional home as our fifth family member.  We are each attached to it and it’s light filled rooms, and the many memories we’ve shared together here.  Soon, it will be just two of us, but I am hoping that the space that is left behind will be filled with something new.

The possibilities are endless of course: a foreign exchange student, a foster child, or maybe more friends and visitors. My life during this past chapter has been lived beyond this house; I’ve spent my time out in the world, or on boats, or in Tahoe. 

I’m now looking forward to being home again, and my life opening up once more, and seeing simply what life will bring to me without my having to look for it. 

Love and blessings to all. 

Healthy Roasted Vegetable Enchiladas for Teen Athletes

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Roasted Vegetable Enchiladas

Most teen athletes make the mistake of focusing on calories when it is nutrient dense foods that should be the focus.  Foods packed with vitamins and minerals are needed for a body that is growing and competing simultaneously.

My older daughter doesn’t look that easy to kill, in fact a boy she goes to school with said she looks exactly how he imagines Joan of Arc to have looked.  She is tall and powerfully built and possesses a warrior mentality.   But like most kids she is actually very fragile.  Last year she was playing club volleyball and swimming, so she was clocking 2 plus hours of intense physical activity per day, and an extra 4-5 hours on the week-ends as an outside hitter for Absolute in Marin County.

In February, I noticed that she was looking a little green.  Because I am her mother, I knew there was something not quite right with how she looked, so I took her to the doctor.   Naturally, as mother always knows best, she was diagnosed with severe anemia.   The doctor started her on medication and she left the next day for Colorado Cross Roads, which in the volleyball world is a pretty big deal and a place where I spend more time with my closest friends from California than I do in California.

All was well, until one of the players became ill with the Noro virus and the team slowly dropped like dominos.  My daughter – a hold out was able to get home and miss the cocophay of vomiting in the bathrooms on the Southwest Airlines flight from Denver to Oakland, but then succumbed to the illness and spent nine, yes “9” days in bed.

Because her immune system was compromised by the anemia her recovery was very slow.  Her pediatrician had to prescribe drugs for cancer patients to stop the vomiting.  So, needless to say, I watch this girl closely now.   I can tell if she is dehydrated or even if she has a head ache.  So, keeping my little warrior well fed is a number one priority.  And since she just wants to eat burgers and french fries it can be a challenge to get her to eat her vegetables, so I created this recipe for her.  Needless to say, she ate the entire pan and I couldn’t have cared less.

Roasted Vegetable Enchiladas for the Teen Athlete

Ingredients

1 red pepper, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 medium zucchini cut into rounds
2 cups sliced mushrooms
2 Tbsp. olive oil
salt and black pepper
1 package corn tortillas
1 1/2 cups red enchilada sauce (I bought a jar made by a local company and it was excellent)
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups Mexican shredded cheese
Garnishes:  fresh cilantro, chopped avocado, pico de gallo, sour cream

Preparation:

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2.  Brush a baking sheet with olive oil and place sliced vegetables in a single layer and roast for 30 minutes or until they look lightly toasted.

Roasted Vegetables

3. Reduce heat to 350 degrees.

4.  Allow vegetables to cool so you can work with them.  Then heat your sauce in a shallow pan until warm.

5.  Add a small amount of sauce to the bottom of a large baking dish.

6. Place corn tortilla in the warm sauce and saturate both sides.  Remove and fill with vegetables, black beans and cheese.  Roll and place in pan.  Repeat.

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7. Once all of the tortillas are rolled, add the remaining sauce from the pan, sprinkle cheese and cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove foil and bake for another 10 minutes or until sauce is bubbling and cheese is melted.

8.  Garnish as desired.

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On Motherhood

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I have been reading an interesting book by Dr. Shefanli Tsabary called The Conscious Parent. I’m only half way through, but it has made quite an impression on me so far. I think in many ways I intuitively knew many of the things that Dr. Tsabary writes about, but to see them in print has given me more confidence to follow my instincts.

To start, I am absolutely in many ways a Tiger Mom and if you haven’t read Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, I highly recommend it. It’s worth the read for no other reason than to have the insight to say to your children, “At least I didn’t light your stuffed animals on fire if you got a “B” in grade school!” But for all of the acidity author Amy Chua still makes the very valid point that parents are responsible for the future of their children. Both my children attended the Talented and Gifted program at UC Berkeley. I think it provided an amazing academic foundation for them, and if the child is willing to do it, and enjoys it, then it can be a positive experience. Not that all children need to spend their summers turning a classroom into the bottom of the ocean floor at five or dissecting a lamb heart at ten.

The tricky part comes now as my older daughter finishes her Freshman year of High School. She has just earned an 89.59% on her final biology exam. Amy Chua writes that a “B” is not a good grade and like her there is a part of me that is livid, but the other part shrugs my shoulders. If she wants to be a student athlete and have a 3.5 GPA who am I to tell her that’s just not good enough?

I believe we are responsible for ensuring our children are reasonably equipped to encounter an increasingly complex world, but I want to adopt more of Dr. Tsabary’s methods. In the ground breaking parenting classic from 1994, Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls, Mary Pipher writes that we let go too soon of our teenage daughters. And the number one fault of parents is not protecting our daughters from societal pressures. We are caught in the constant ebb and flow of holding on, but not too tightly and letting go, but not too much.

In her award winning book Dr. Tsabary encourages us to sit with our children and connect with their souls. She writes that there is a sacred bond between mother and child. She asks that we awaken and accept our children for who they truly are. Easier said than done. On one hand, I am passionate about raising a happy child, but then on the other, I want all doors flung wide open for my children and in our society that means attaining academic excellence for college applications.

One of the things that Dr. Tsabary writes about is accepting the child you have and not projecting onto them the attributes that you desire, but love and honor the person they innately are. The last thing we want is a child who has relinquished the person they truly are for some parent inspired fantasy of the perfect son or daughter. Our children aren’t our grand experiment. They are people. I remember holding my baby in my arms thinking with amazement, “this is really a person.” “They aren’t dolls” I tell my husband all the time of our children. They have feelings and interests and plans all their own.

The Conscious Parent also asks that we connect with our own souls. The author advises that we accept ourselves and sit with our own emotions. As my daughter approaches me I allow myself to sit in silence and let the door in my heart open. I trust she will make the right decisions for her own future. And I know that no matter what I do she will be some version of fine. As she gets into the car I stop myself from asking her questions about exams, extra credit, final grades. At the beginning of the school year I realized I could learn more listening to the lyrics of the songs she plays over and over in my car than anything she would say. As the sun slants through the car, she plays a song by Two Door Cinema Club, the lyrics go something like this:

You gotta step up your game to make it to the top

So go

Gotta little competition now

Your gonna find it hard to cope living on your own

Oh oh, oh oh

Let’s make this happen, girl

You gotta show the world that something good can work

And it can work for you

And you know that it will

On this sunny day driving away from the high school I glance over at my daughter and sit quietly with her soul. And I realize that she is going places that I don’t even know exist. All I have to do now is allow her to be the person she wants to be and keep her safe. I have a front row seat watching the girl fall away and the woman emerge. Luckily, I still have her little sister.