Hello and Goodbye

heart in handsMy heart is broken. It’s broken for my sister. It’s broken for my brother in law. It’s broken for my family. It’s broken for me.The loss of a child is something I had never given much in-depth thought to. It was ugly. It was yuck. It was something I found terribly uncomfortable to imagine because I immediately would put myself into those shoes. How would I feel if my child died? And then I would stop. Don’t go there. Unimaginable. Even having been so terribly close to losing our son and having experienced early term miscarriages after years of fertility treatments to try to conceive, I put those near misses in a box and reveled in the joy and feelings of good fortune being a mother brought me.

Despite this, I feel I’ve lived very close to that world through my sister’s career over the last 14 or so years. She is a nurse and has dedicated her career thus far to caring for premature babies, initially in the NICU and then as part of the Flight For Life pediatric team. I still remember the first time one of her patients passed. She was a new nurse and she was devastated. It was morning, I was driving, the sun was shining and my little sister croaked down the phone “I lost one”. I remember the feeling of pain in my heart.  I felt pain for the family who had just lost their baby and I felt tremendous pain and compassion for my sister.

It didn’t get any easier for her when it happened over the ensuing years, but she learned to protect her heart and continue making the tremendous difference in so many lives.When she and her husband were married last year, it was clear to see how much joy they brought each other. She rocked his world and he, hers. He “got” her. He did the same job for the adult team, he truly understood how challenging her work was. And she, him. That reason, along with many others made theirs a perfect partnership. When they became pregnant, we all joked that their life was never going to be the same. That this baby was going to ruin their DINK lifestyle. And they agreed. And they looked forward to it. They were ready.

My sister had found it particularly hard to let her guard down about her pregnancy. At 37, she was considered “Advanced Maternal Age”, which we found kind of entertaining because many of our friends were having babies around this age, it seemed the new normal. Never the less, because she knew so much and she had cared for and saved so many premature babies – and lost some too, she felt a level of anxiety about her own pregnancy. I remember her somewhat clinical discussions of the potential outcomes of the genetic testing and I could tell she was protecting herself, emotionally, should they receive results that meant bad news.

As morning sickness beat her up (as it had with both our mother and me), as they heard the heartbeat and tests came back with positive results, I could feel her relaxing. Letting herself get a little bit excited. When 20 weeks passed she was starting to talk more about the future. When my son named the baby “Nutso Clementine” because my sister was always telling us how much the baby moved, I smiled and enjoyed the pleasure I could hear in her voice. She deserved this feeling. She deserved to enjoy the promise of good things to come.

Tuesday morning brought the shittiest, rainiest, cold and gloomy weather. I was irritated we had had to move from our lovely warm beach in Southern California to crap ass Maryland. I was shaking my head at myself that I had worn a pair of flats on my bare feet instead of socks and rain boots. I enjoyed talking with my sister on my drive, it was a good chat. We hung up and I went about doing my errands, wet feet and all. When I got back in my car about an hour or so later, she called almost immediately. I answered the call about to tell her about my frozen feet and she said ” I have bad news”. The scenarios that went through my head in the agonizingly slow minute that followed while she was crying were vast. I was trying to think of any possible terrible but somewhat “positive” outcome in comparison to what I was dreading in my heart. Lost her job? House burned down? Cat died? Dog died? I was desperately hoping her house had burned down. Anything. ANYTHING other than what I was dreading. Those four fucking words. And then I heard them “I lost my baby”. There was no heartbeat. And my own heart shattered.

You know, it’s interesting, when you say those words in “normal” life, people assume you had a miscarriage. They assume it was fairly early on, first trimester kind of stuff. They are sorry, for sure, but the dialogue is something along the lines of “oh man, that sucks, that happened to me, I understand, I’m so sorry, etc”. I’ve had miscarriages. They suck. This was not a miscarriage. This was an almost full term baby. This was a child that, had she actually been born alive, even at the 29 weeks she was, could possibly have made it. Someone with my sisters training, her years of experience, her knowledge, maybe could have kept this tiny baby alive. Oh. The. Fucking. Irony.

I booked a flight to Denver and time promptly stood still. Stationary. I feel like my first exhale was when I walked into their hospital room, passing the little “sympathy” label on the door. Here I was, in the middle of the Labor and Delivery floor, surrounded by happiness and joy and the sound of crying newborns and fetal heartbeat monitors and proud Daddy’s shaking hands and handing out cigars. Here I was, to support my little sister and my darling brother in law while they delivered their first child. Who we already knew hadn’t made it.

The level of sorrow is indescribable. I’m a fixer, a doer, a leader, I’m strong, I’m smart, I’m feisty, I’m scrappy. And I couldn’t do a goddamned thing to change any of this other than hold them and cry with them. These two people I love so very much had just received the worst news of their lives and now had to deliver a baby that wasn’t ready through a body that wasn’t ready into a world that just wasn’t ready. I feel I have witnessed two people actually in hell. I kept reminding myself that as bad as I felt, as much as my heart ached, it was absolutely nothing in comparison to what they were feeling. I would gladly have volunteered to carry their excruciating pain for the rest of my life if they could have their baby alive and healthy.

At 4:41pm on Wednesday, December 17th, Ida Clementine Hillig blessed us with her arrival. She was perfect. She looked just like her mummy and had her daddy’s mouth and chin. She had long hands and feet, she had a head of thick, dark, curly hair. She looked like she was sleeping. Her hands were tucked together under her chin, just like her mama sleeps. Her parents bathed her, they dressed her and her family held her. We talked to her, we sang to her, we prayed for her and she was baptized. She spent the whole night in the arms of her parents and she brought us so much joy, even though it felt like deep sorrow because she was already in heaven.

It’s important to me that our friends and family know that despite the dire and grim circumstances, despite the horrific reality we were in, it wasn’t chaotic and gruesome. It wasn’t an experience filled with blood curdling screams and panic. My sister and her hubs were heartbroken, without a doubt, we all were. They were terrified and their lives had changed forever. But they were peaceful. They were graceful. They were awake and aware and they were present. This is the image I want to make sure is in everyone’s mind when they think of what just happened.This is the poem my sister’s Flight Team Chaplain read at Ida’s christening that night. Just like Ida, it was perfect.

One Mother’s A Lament for Her Baby, Author Unknown

I never got to hear you laugh,
You never saw me cry.
Didn’t get a chance to say “Hello”;
You never said goodbye.
I never thought I could feel
This sad, lost, forlorn.
I dared not think that you might die
Before you were even born.
Your life was short yet special;
I shared it all exclusively.
I felt you move, I felt you kick;
You were alive inside of me.
Although we are not together,
We’re not really apart
For you’ll always occupy a space
Deep within my heart.
Time may begin to ease my pain;
For now I can only cry
When I wish I could have said “Hello”
And heard you say “Goodbye”.

My darling sister and her husband have had to do what no parent should ever have to do. And they have leaned in, they have stared hell right in the face and they will continue to do that in many different ways for the rest of their lives. They experienced their daughter with open and broken hearts and soaked up every last drop of her while they could still physically touch and hold her. They said hello and then said goodbye in the same breath.

Ida closeup

I Found Me.

barbelleI wrote this little blurb on Facebook a month or so ago and I loved it so much I wanted to share it with everyone….

Let me share with you what weight lifting has done for me in the last 6 weeks of my life.

I have struggled with body image and accepting and loving myself and my body for about 37yrs. Two years ago we moved to Southern California and I was lucky enough to be able to go to hot power vinyasa flow yoga 3x a week. That changed my life because I was able to improve, grow stronger and challenge myself every practice. Still, my body stayed pretty much the same. But I felt stronger, …felt confident in being me, practiced being still, pausing, accepting. I also learned to do impressive arm balances, got cardio fit beyond my wildest dreams and felt a wonderful sense of exhaustion and calm. As part of my journey I met the wonderful Tricia Ashley, Michelly Casavechia Young who are cool ladies fostering and promoting the power of women and yoga among many other things….and my yoga bitches (you know who you are).

When we had to leave our beloved SoCal for farmland Maryland, I couldn’t find a yoga studio that could compare with what I had at Solfire. Nothing came even close. And I felt pretty bummed. Among all the other bummed-ness there was the lack of physical exercise.

Then I met Emily Sherwood Altshuler and Leah Spencer…my East Coast bitches (sorry girls, I know you’re not really used to me yet….) and they have not only introduced me to the world of lifting like a girl, but to being confident in the weight room, being focused and driven but they’ve introduced me to my new body. In 6 weeks, I’ve lost a pant size plus. I’ve grown strong enough to lift my 4yo up the stairs by his feet when he’s screaming with laughter with no issue. I’ve become…..me in my skin. All without losing a single pound. And I don’t give a fuck. Fuck the scale, you no longer own me. I own me. In six weeks I have these four things that tell me my life is changed. (And prior to to I had never lifted a weight in my entire life). Dead lift 100lbs, bench 80lbs, squat 80lbs, overhead press, 60lbs. And increasing presently at 5lbs a week. I can row a 9minute 2k. I can do 100 sit-ups. I can air squat like a motherfucker and I’m happy with me. Despite my deep, deep sorrow at leaving my beloved Southern California. I’m finally. FINALLY. Truly happy with my me. ‪#‎liftlikeagirl‬ ‪#‎barbelle‬ ‪#‎iloveme‬ ‪#‎happyinmyskin‬ ‪#‎nomachines‬ ‪#‎freeweights

Note as of this posting: Today I just did my first 100lb bench press. I didn’t make my whole work set so I will be back at the bench next Monday trying again. And that is perfectly fine with me.

Today’s weights: Deadlift 125lbs, Bench 95lbs, Squat 100lbs, Overhead Press 70lbs. I’m competing against myself and I’m the only one who can beat me.

This is my message to you (if you feel it applies). I hope YOU get to experience this feeling and instead of focusing on the scale, the perceived “imperfections” and listening to the self-hate talk, learn to let it go. Love yourself for the wonderful, strong, person you are.  Be proud of growing children, be proud of your battle scars, be confident in the knowledge that it doesn’t matter one tiny bit what anyone else thinks of you. It only matters what you think of you. xxme

The Monkey

imageOK, sorry. I’ve been a tad quiet for the last few months. Life has been tough. It’s been good. It’s been fine. But it’s been tough.

I’ve been struggling. Teetering on depressed, I guess. And when I get like that, I tend to zero in. I focus on the now, I focus on the day. I focus on the hour and when that gets too much, I focus on the minutes and my breath. I’ve been focusing on my breathing a lot lately. You see, my kids have been assholes. And it’s my fault. Well it’s our fault, Dub and me.

We shouldn’t be surprised, really. We uprooted them and plonked them down in a new state, town, house, school. They had to make new friends, learn new routines, get used to new weather and geography and all of this while behaving too??


I found myself lost, grappling for normal and being the cheery cruise ship director for a 4 and 6 year old. We found a few parks, geocaching, the library and the gym but days were largely filled with….well having to entertain ourselves. And at 6 and 4, when you’ve left all of your friends and your beach behind and Daddy is at work, you have each other and Mummy…..and TV.

We’ve always kept a pretty tight rein on the amount of screen time the Dublets get, keeping it to the pre-recorded shows we’ve selected and movies. But I’ve always known that TV is an excellent babysitter. I can completely understand why some parents have it on all the time. It’s not the right strategy for us, but I get it. The kids love it! They are entertained and quiet and I don’t have to get the beads out or the scissors or the glue or the glitter or clean up any of it. I don’t have to answer the endless questions and referee the fights. I get time to myself. I get peace.

So one 30 minute show in the morning at our house went to two shows in the morning and then #1 learned how to work the remote and…..they we’re quiet for a long time. So maybe it went to three shows (…….). Afternoon, rinse and repeat. And then there were the weekend mornings (oy vey!) And that was all fine and dandy…until I noticed what happened when I removed TV from the activity lineup. Arma-fucking-geddon. These kids were physically jonesing for TV shows. And the tantrums that ensued when they couldn’t get their fix were awful.

It had become worse when #1 started school and #2 was at home with me in the morning. One day I had let him play a game on my iPad while I took a quick shower after the gym. It was an educational sight words game and he sat happily on our bed playing. The next morning he wanted more and he asked if I could “dumpload” a game. And before long he was playing Strawberry shortcake nail painting games and the sight words were forgotten. He’d even ask me if I wanted to take a shower each afternoon, too. Then one morning I didn’t let him play……ho-ly-shit.  And so began the currency of media. My kids had the monkey on their backs.

A few nights ago, I realized that something had changed in our family for the worse. Something was affecting our happiness as a unit. We were in rough shape and it bothered me greatly.  I was grumpy, Dub was grumpy, I was sad, kids were sad, everyone was yelling at some point during the day and a lot in the evening. So Dub and I decide it was time we made a change. This wasn’t us. We don’t do this. Time to stop this shit and regain control of the empire. But what?

Then it occurred to me. The only thing that had changed in our family dynamic (other than all the physical location stuff) is the amount of screen time these maniacs were getting. We unanimously and immediately agreed. Media. We had facilitated our kids addiction to digital media.

So the TV shows were cut back to 1 a morning and one in the evening. One hour of television a day. The iPad was removed from the lineup all together, and the behavior train got back on track. After detox. Some pretty wicked detox.

Every family is different and every kid is different but I know this, Media IS a great babysitter, but it comes with strings attached. Yes, it will keep your kids entertained and quiet and happy. They’ll even learn a lot if they’re watching the right stuff (PBS has awesome shows and I can see they are absolutely learning things they’d never learn in school), but it sneaks it’s fingers around their brains and before you know it, they are hooked….and you are too. That peace I get is just as addictive as the shows they’re watching. And was just as hard to be deprived from. But they deserve more and so do I.

So now the empire has been righted. Chores are to be done and they are to be ready for school in every way before any TV can be watched. Fortunately for me, my kids a) take forever to get anything done and b) take forever to eat so the actual amount of time they get is now about 15 minutes. After school homework is done first and then outside play (trampoline, bikes etc.) , then dinner and only then can they watch a show. It has actually turned out to be a great motivator (ironically).

Now before anyone gets all excited and judgey about our screen restrictions, I do think kids should learn how to interact with different types of media. I do think they should be competent and fluent in the technology, I even truly believe they can learn great things from some of the shows AND that it’s ok to sometimes watch TV just for the sake of watching TV…(even if it’s junk TV). I just know that there are too many things to be addicted to and they’ll be exposed to a lot of them as they grow up. I know that they become better at interacting and socializing when they play together or with other kids. I know they have to use all of their brain when they are engaging in ANY other type of entertainment. I know they become better problem solvers when they play “the old fashioned way” with their toys in their rooms. Their creative and imaginative side is exercised when they have to think up and act out the game. And they do. They do all of this……but they wouldn’t if they had free rein on the remote. That’s for damned sure.



cali mdWell. Here we are. The last few months have been a whirlwind of living without Dub, wrangling Dublets and preparing to move our household across the country. Yep, we’ve gone left to right. West to East. As of last Saturday, we now live in Maryland. It’s been 6 days.

I haven’t written for a while and I thought it was because I haven’t had time. And that’s true, I haven’t really had time to write. But I feel like the spark went out when I found out we were moving from Dana Point. I’ve never been so happy in a place and it pained me greatly to leave. I didn’t want to write about how sad I felt. I didn’t want to be “Debbie Downer” who was wallowing. The truth is, I don’t know how to do this.

I’m sorry I haven’t had a smile on my face this past week. I know it’s annoying to hear someone be down about something. It’s human nature to do the old “buck up camper” to someone who is “sulking”. Yep. I know. Who wants to be around someone with their bottom lip out? Come on! Life could be worse! Cheer up! Be thankful! Stop wallowing! Yep. I know. It’s hard to explain, this kind of sorrow. I find the people who are saying “get over it” or “adapt” annoying too.

I know I’ll adapt. I know I’ll get over it and I’ll be happy again. I know. I think I’m allowed to feel sad to have left a place where people go to have their vacations. I laugh when I hear other’s perception of California being expensive and terrible traffic and fake people and movie stars. My life didn’t involve any of that. I lived in a climate that was largely sunny and about 70o every day. I lived two minutes from the Pacific Ocean, where we could build sand castles and swim and surf and paddle board and find starfish any time we wanted to. I made wonderful friends, who were smart, kind, funny and real. I made friends who care about being healthy and fit and growing good children. I made friends who loved yoga and beaches, humor and wine. I made friends who cared deeply about others, who embraced me and made me feel welcome from the minute I landed. I think I’m allowed to miss that. I’m allowed to mourn.

Now in Maryland, I know there are great things ahead, some of these same things I will find. There are positives already. I know. I’m delighted to live near friends we lived across the street from in Denver who we knew we really liked but we were all so busy having kids we didn’t really have time to enjoy. I am really happy to have a lovely house to make our home. I’m looking forward to my kids getting a great education and catching the bus to school. I’m glad they are learning how to be flexible and make friends wherever they go. I’m intrigued that we now drive past cows to get to our house. I think that’s kind of cool for a kid to experience. I’m happy there is a farmer’s market on the road to our neighborhood. I’m happy our sales tax just dropped 2 points. I’m thankful Trader Joe’s is here on the East Coast. I’m happy a number of my clients have asked me to continue working with them long distance. I’m glad we are about an 8hr drive from my parents and about 10 from Dub’s family. I’m looking forward to exploring Washington D.C. and experience all of the museums, memorials and history that surrounds it. See? I’m not sitting in a dark room, sulking. I know there are many great things to experience here in Maryland.

It’s just all a bit….raw….right now. I haven’t even met a neighbor yet. The only reason I can find my way to the supermarket is because there is only one road to the highway from my house and the supermarket is on it. I’m missing my friends and my beach and that is OK. It’s still OK to be sad and I don’t need cheering up. In fact, I’m pretty sure if you try to talk about positives I’ll get annoyed. Nope. I’m certain.

Here’s to change…….and that wasn’t a thumb.

P.S. there is a California, MD. Who knew?


In Plain Sight – Originally Posted July 8, 2013


swimIt’s taken me a few days to write this. Mainly, because I’m utterly horrified at myself and I’m struggling with the “what if’s” and also the “don’t make a big deal about nothing” monkey chatter in my mind. Well, guess what? I DO WANT TO MAKE A BIG DEAL ABOUT IT. I WANT TO SHOUT IT FROM THE FUCKING ROOFTOPS if it will stop it happening to someone else’s kid.

During our fun Independence Day BBQ/Pool Party, our beautiful son, my darling, precious, sweet baby boy almost drowned.

THANK GOD my sister just happened to look up and notice he was underwater. My beautiful, wonderful, amazing sister jumped into the pool and dragged him out. She saved our son’s life.

He. Almost. Drowned.

His eyes, panicked and open wide, the only thing above water. Arms and legs working frantically, spinning around in circles but unable to get his nose above the water line.

I had taken off his floaties to change his swim diaper and while he was sitting in the lounger, warming up, Dublet #1 had asked me to get her a hotdog. Instead of specifically telling Dub or my sister or any-fucking-one that I wasn’t watching him, I went inside to get her food. I ALWAYS hand him off. I ALWAYS watch them like a hawk in the pool. But I went to get a hotdog.

I looked out the kitchen window when I heard the commotion, to see my sister, soaking wet with a coughing, spluttering little lad in her arms. It took a second for me to realize what had happened.

He was and is absolutely fine. But to this very minute, I know how fucking quickly he could have died. I can feel it to my core. We could have lost him and it would have been solely our fault. All because of a bad hand-off between Dub and me. Bad, bad, bad parenting.

The most frightening thing is that he didn’t make a sound. Silent. No splash, no gasping, no nothing. Silent. And without anyone noticing, and we had about 10 adults and about as many kids right by him in or near the pool, he had gotten up from the chaise and walked to the side of the pool where he had stepped onto the first step. Second step. Thir- he couldn’t reach the third step and had sunk, silently right off the edge. The pool is not even deep, but it was deeper than his height. Not. A. Sound.

This is where the imagination is a powerful teaching tool. I don’t need to explain any further to any parent, or in fact any person. I know you get it. My son could have died. Because of his stupid mother not sticking to protocol. I will never forgive myself and I’m eternally thankful to my sister and God.

Keke. You are amazing. I can never repay you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

P.S. My kids start their survival swimming lessons in August.  We have been planning on it for the last few months and it somehow kept on getting pushed to the back burner. Idiots.

P.P.S. Here is an interesting article on Water Safety and tips on how to keep your kids safe near the water. Also here is the CDC link about unintended drowning deaths. Please be careful with your little one’s around the water and remember that drowning is silent and the water can be as shallow as the bath tub, a paddling pool or a bucket. Don’t let it happen to you.

Testing…testing – Originally posted September 18, 2012

Before we moved to California, our dear friends gave Dublet #1 a pink….princess….amp and microphone (Dub and I nervously glanced at each other, wondering how this was going to pan out.) She was DELIGHTED and rightfully so! Who wouldn’t want to have their tiny 4yr old voice amplified to perfection on the pink plastic wonder? In the days following, we learned a LOT about the capacity of a tiny mind and the inventive ways you can get true bang for your buck out of this kind of toy. Thanks Pat & Andy!

Continue reading

Channel Your “Dinner Zen”.

inner zenWow. It seems my dinner ideas are being pretty well received! Great news! I’ve heard from women all over the country, in fact, the world telling me how much this has changed their lives. So exciting.

Here are a few more….and first for my staple. Rob Vech’s Red Sauce, or fondly called “Missa Wob Sorse” in our house.


1 large can of tomato sauce. (Ha. That’s not all.) 1 large can of water.1 small can of tomato paste, 4 cloves of garlic, 1T Italian Seasoning, 1/2 small onion – chopped, 1 pack of fresh basil – chopped, Salt and pepper.

Dump all ingredients into slow cooker. Set on low for 6-8hrs.

Do you have one of these?



If not, you should consider buying one. They are amazing AND you can pick your color. I have a canary yellow one. My Dad gave it to me. Actually, come to think of it, my dad gave me my rice cooker too…..and my electric corkscrew….he’s a good man.

Anyway, whiz everything up with your immersion blender while it’s still in the slow cooker. If you don’t have one, you can do it all (minus water) in the blender and then dump it all in to the crock pot and add the water. End result, no lumps.

Note: Rob would shake his head and chastise me for not sautéing the onion and garlic in olive oil for a bit first. You can do that. Sometimes I do if I’m dying for extra cooking. Otherwise, proceed as instructed above. He’d really shake his head if he knew that sometimes we are out of onions so I don’t use one…..and sometimes we don’t have basil on hand, so I use some old (moldy) pesto I found in the fridge…I scraped most of the mold off….

Cook for 6-8hrs on low and stir occasionally.

Buy a bag of Foster Farms Homestyle turkey meatballs at Costco. Cook in sauce, make spaghetti…..voila!

OK, now for the rest of the meals….This time, let’s leave the chicken whole. Stand back, I’m gonna break some rules here……

Thaw the whole bag of frozen chicken. 6-10lbs, adjust number of dishes you make accordingly. I don’t know what kind of chicken, Tyson uses but I swear to God they are the size of cats. Kind of grosses me out. Use whatever chicken you want.

Get a gallon zip lock bag, insert one chicken breast push the air out and seal the bag. Beat the SHIT out of it with your meat mallet or rolling pin. OK, I know you’re angry, but not until it is paper thin and disintegrated, but until it is about 1/4″-1/2″ thick. Remove from bag and put on a plate in a pile and continue until all chicken is flat. Make sure any fat is trimmed from the meat. Cut the large, flat chicken into normal sized pieces. This may mean cutting each breast in half or quarters. You choose.

Whip up the two eggs in a bowl. Pour the breadcrumbs into another, separate bowl.  Dip each piece of chicken into the egg and then into the breadcrumbs.

Spray a cookie sheet with Pam and lay each piece of breadcrumbed chicken on it. Bake in oven for about 30 mins at 400F. Turn over at about 15mins. (You can pan fry it if you want, it’s just more labor intensive, which is why I bake it all at once.)

Take out of oven and cool. Then store in gallon bags with paper towels or wax paper/parchment paper between. Lay flat in freezer. Yep. I just re-froze thawed chicken. (Note: make sure you do cook the chicken to 160F before you eat it).

So that is your base for dinners. You can make this one below on the fly, any night from the freezer.


Thaw the amount of chicken you want to cook for about 1hr before (or zap it for 1 minute in the microwave. Check and then 1 more minute. Only until it’s not rock hard. DO NOT cook it at all in the microwave. Microwaved meat is disgusting. (Unless it’s bacon. Then it’s wonderful.)

Heat some olive oil in a large frying pan. Not too much, just enough to make it sizzle a bit when you cook. Cook chicken, turning regularly, until golden brown. Lay it on paper towels when you take it out of the pan. Serve with salad. Yum.

You can make the following from the pile of cooked, breaded chicken you just made. The reason I bread and cook it first is to avoid it being wet and losing all the juices into the meals you’re making.


The amount you want of your cooked breaded chicken breasts, 1 large jar of pasta sauce (or you can make your own like I do, which is super easy and delish) 1C shredded mozzarella or fresh mozzarella (from Costco 2 for $7).

Use a Pyrex large enough to fit the chicken so it’s touching if necessary but not layered. Spray dish with Pam or a little olive oil, spoon tomato sauce on top of each piece of chicken, sprinkle cheese on top (or layer it on top if using fresh). If you’re making tonight’s dinner, bake another 20-30 mins at 375F until cheese is bubbly and the chicken is cooked and warmed through (to 160F). If not, cover in Press n’ Seal and freeze. You can even make this from the frozen chicken you made, just add it to the dish, add the sauce and cheese and freeze or bake.


The amount you want of your cooked breaded chicken breasts, 1T taco seasoning, I jar of chunky salsa, 1C shredded Mexican cheese blend, 2 chopped tomatoes, 1 chopped green pepper, 1 diced fresh jalapeno if you want, finely chopped green onions and sour cream.

Use a Pyrex large enough to fit the chicken so it’s touching if necessary but not layered. Spray dish with Pam or a little olive oil and lay chicken in. Mix taco seasoning with salsa and spoon on top of chicken. Top with cheese and if you’re making tonight’s dinner bake 20-30 mins at 375F or until cheese is bubbly and chicken is cooked and  warmed through (160F). If not, cover in Press n’ Seal and freeze. You can make this from the frozen chicken you made, too, just add it to the dish, add the sauce and cheese and freeze. Save the fresh tomatoes, onions, peppers and sour cream until you are making it to eat that night and toss ‘em on top of the finished product with some sour cream.

So, there you have a few more meals to add to your arsenal! Enjoy!




What’s For Dinner Part Deux.

devil says she's upOk, so let’s storm this shit. Here’s some more. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, see “What’s For Dinner”. http://thankgodforwine.com/whats-for-dinner/ We’re not going to half ass this. Stop your excuses, get your apron on and fill that freezer like a BOSS. No more sniveling, cranking open cans of Chef Boyardee. You DOMINATE at this whole “feeding people” shit. Get to it, Mama’s (and Dads if there is one who does this bullshit). Continue reading

Down Time

relax by poolIt’s been a while since I took some time for myself. Oh, I’ve had my 98 minutes each morning between the time I drop Dublet #2 off and pick #1 up, during which I clean the house, run errands at break neck speed in a desperate attempt to get these tasks done sans kids, but this is different. Continue reading

How to Raise a Kid Who Isn’t Whiny and Annoying” by Lyz Lenz – Huff Post Parents

whinyI detest whiny and annoying kids and I am doing everything within my power to make sure mine aren’t either of those things. They have their moments. I really enjoy reading posts by “like minded mothers” and this one, “How to Raise a Kid Who Isn’t Whiny and Annoying” by Lyz Lenz, posted on Huff Post Parents, is great.


Enjoy and stay strong. You’re the boss.


PS. If I don’t hear “YOU’RE A MEAN MUMMY” or “YOU’RE THE MEANEST MUM IN THE WHOLE WORLD” at least once a day, then I consider myself to be “underperforming” that day.




Pavlova Magic

pav 2It’s a rite of passage, really. Learning how to make your first Pavlova. All Kiwi’s know what I’m talking about and there are some that never, ever get it. My Mum is one of them. She decided early on that making a Pavlova wasn’t her gift, so she transformed it into Pavlovette (I’ll include recipe in the future) and it’s my husbands absolute favorite. She makes him one whole Pavlovette. You read right, one whole one for himself. Everyone else has to share the other one between us all. He sits there eating it with his eyes closed and a goofy grin on his face. It’s somewhere between cute and creepy.

I, on the other hand, somehow managed to learn the magic of making Pavlova and turn out these amazing pillows of air. It’s a sight to behold, the silky, soft peaks. The whirring of the Kitchenaid, the whisper of the sugar mixing into the egg whites and the delicate art of forming it on the baking sheet. So I thought I’d share so others can begin enjoying the magic.

Step one. Get a Kitchenaid mixer. If you don’t have a Kitchenaid, skip all future steps and make Pavlovette.

Step two. Here’s the recipe. Every step is critical, don’t try and make adjustments or you will learn as I did over Thanksgiving that even the most gifted Pavlova wizard can turn out a pile of shit.


6 Egg whites

6T cold water

1/2t salt

2C white granulated sugar

2T cornstarch

2t white vinegar

2t vanilla essence

Heat oven to 350F.

6 egg whites. I use either room temperature or straight from the fridge, I haven’t noticed a difference but there can be absolutely NO yolk in them or it won’t work. None.

Beat the whites until stiff peaks form. This is where most people fail right off the bat. I beat them for about 10 minutes on high speed. You can’t time this, the are done when you lift the beater out of the bowl and the egg whites form stiff peaks from where the beater came out.

Add 6 Tablespoons of cold water. Mix for a few minutes.

Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Mix for a few minutes.

Add 2 Cups of white granulated sugar THIS IS IMPORTANT, one tablespoon at a time with a mixing interval between each addition. Keep the mixer running on high speed the whole way through the process. This step can take as much as 20 minutes or so.

Turn mixer speed to slow and add 2 Tablespoons of cornstarch, 2 teaspoons of white vinegar and 2 teaspoons of vanilla essence. Blend until mixed in. Turn off and scrape around the edges to get any unmixed cornstarch. Blend again on low for another minute.

Spray a round cookie sheet with cooking spray. Turn mixture out onto the middle of the tray and form into a circle, about 3″ high and about 8″ diameter. It should look like a shape of a cake.

Place in 350F oven for 15 mins with door shut.

Turn oven temperature to 300F for 45 mins with door shut.

Turn oven off and open door. Leave to sit until oven is cool.

It should look now a little bit spread out with crispy meringue on top. When it’s totally cool, transfer very carefully to your serving platter (use a large pancake spatula and you might need another pair of hands). Store in cool, dry place (not in fridge) for one day maximum. When you are ready to serve, whip a small or medium carton of fresh cream (can be done in advance) and cover Pavlova. Don’t add anything to the cream, no sugar, nothing. Add diced kiwi fruit, strawberries, raspberries (any, all or none) on top. You can store in fridge, but it will begin to lose a sticky clear sugary fluid if in there for too long.


Things that will make your pavlova fail: Opening and closing the door (think soufflé). Including any egg yolk in the mix. Not whipping egg whites for long enough. Not mixing for long enough to dissolve sugar. Oven too hot or letting the raw mixture sit for too long before baking. Also, no using Cool Whip or Ready Whip. Nope.

Tip: measure all ingredients over another bowl or the sink, not over the mixing bowl, so you don’t inadvertently add too much.



Brown Paper Packages…..

OK. Here it is for the people who would like a list……………..that they can send. In no particular order. (and there will be more….) You can find the links on my TGFW FB page…

GIANT one bottle wine glass…

giant wine glass

Gap socks. Yep.









White fudge covered Oreos. Hmm-hmm.

white fudge oreo












Sunset Magazine

sunset mag










Bon Apetite Magazine.bonapetit











Henry Bendel Fig Candle.


Michael Kors “Jet Set” tote.



Fossil  “Riley” Multifunction White Resin Watch.


Fossil “Explorer” Crossbody



SPF Moisture Chapstick










Lululemon Wunder Under Crops.



Lululemon Power Y Tank.


Vans Leopard Print