So it’s officially summer though, to be honest, I wouldn’t know it. I’m knee-deep in teaching summer school health. It’s actually not as bad as it sounds. While I’d REALLY LOVE some time off, I rarely get to be in the classroom teaching students subject matter that I’m so passionate about. I mean, what’s not to love about spending 2 hours a day, 5 days a week talking to high schoolers about topics such as consent education, mood disorders, and sex education!? Fun, right!?

In the midst of all of this, my husband has been out-of-town for a week and a half (half a week to go!) and while I’m really loving having all this time with our girls, mama is in need for a little ‘me’ time. As it is, I’ve been getting up at around 5am just so I can enjoy a hot cup of coffee and a fresh episode of The Great British Baking Show before the girls get up and it’s ‘go’ time. I don’t know about you, but as a parent, I struggled with anxiety when it came to the weeks leading up to being alone with the kids for an extended amount of time. When Eden was just 4 weeks old, husband had to go to Miami for a few days in order to complete some research for his PhD and if anyone is a proponent of exposure therapy for anxiety, it is me as that time alone with an infant and a 3 year-old truly taught me that I can do it. Now that the girls are older and Eden is at one nap a day, I’m able to actually enjoy my alone time with the girls. We can get out, explore this great city with my little buddies and, dare I say it, have fun. Our absolute favorite activity is to head to the beach with sand toys and picnic in hand. I’ve been trying to up our picnic game as lately it’s been day-after-day of pb & j sandwiches and cucumbers. Therefore, I put a call out to some food blogging buddies and the result is the recipe round-up below, which is chock full of vegetarian and vegan options for your summer picnics! I hope you enjoy and don’t forget your sunscreen!

 

Kosher ‘Krab’ Cakes with Zoodles and Avocado Crema from Jewhungry

 

Broccoli Salad with Lemon Poppy Seed Dressing from The Roasted Root

Kalyn’s Tabbouleh with Almonds from Kalyn’s Kitchen

Arabic Potato Salad from Persnickety Plates

Chipotle Hummus-Stuffed Potato Bites from The Lemon Bowl

Moroccan Sweet Potato Salad from Food Faith Fitness

Mediterranean Deviled Egg Recipe with Roasted Red Pepper and Hummus from Two Healthy Kitchens

Lentil Quinoa Salad with Golden Raisins and Lemon Dressing from Noshtastic

California Cowboy Caviar from Fork and Beans

Lentil Hand Pies with Walnut Pesto from Delish Knowledge

Israeli Couscous Recipe with Chopped Veggies, Chickpeas, and Artichoke from The Mediterranean Dish

All-Natural Carrot Dogs from Healthy Slow Cooking

Falafel Feta Salad from Jewhungry 

You ever wonder how it is you got somewhere? Not like, “I’m at home and now I’m at Target. How did that happen?” Because, really, we all know how that happens. The more appropriate question for Target is, “I went in for toilet paper. How did I end up walking out with $150 worth of goods?” Damn you, Target!!!

But no, that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about looking back at your life and wondering how it ‘landed’ you where you are today. Case in point: This passed week I found myself how it was that I was managing a camping trip of roughly 110 9th graders and, like, I was in charge (of that camp — thank Gd, not of the whole trip). I was, however, put in charge of all medical issues—assessing, treating (with what little equipment I had), making calls on who needs off the island NOW and who can wait. I think back to who I was a decade ago or even 20 years ago as a fresh graduate of high school and I think, “There’s no way in hell I saw myself doing what I’m doing now”. Of course I had always wanted to be rock star—singing is the ONE thing I can confidentally say that I do well. I charted my course for that as well. I took lessons forever. I immersed myself in musical theater. I even went to college of a theater scholarship. But alas, I took a different direction when I was 19. When I was 19 I spent the summer working for a rehabilitation camp for Kosovo refugee children and that was it. I went to college the next year, changed my major from theater to political science (which is just theater for unattractive people) and starting working on my career as an advocate. I didn’t know that that’s what it was I wanted to be at that time but, in looking back at what I wanted, that was definitely ‘it’.

I guess you could say my dreams of becoming an advocate have come true. I advocate for my students CONSTANTLY and sometimes? Sometimes people actually listen . . . but not as much as I’d like. That said, I think I might possibly be living my dream. It’s not the dream of accepting a TONY award (I’ve had that speech prepared since I was 12) or of running a nationally recognized nonprofit (I love my family too much to give my whole life to running a nonprofit. Also? I don’t know how to run a nonprofit. Details.). But it is the dream of advocacy. Albeit, a different kind but I love it all the same.

So what does this have to do with fruit bowls and mermaids? Well, the other thing I NEVER thought I’d be doing is running the little food blog. Or any food blog, for that matter. Heck, even cooking! My first roommate and I used to add frozen vegetables to pots of Rice a-Roni and call it gourmet. I did not know how to cook for a very long time. That said, I still loved entertaining and would go out of my way to make sure the table setting looked great . . . most likely because I knew the food was going to be terrible but hey! At least it looked pretty. This post is an extension of that old Whitney. It doesn’t take a lot of culinary ‘know-how’ and it really doesn’t take a lot of talent. It does, however, take a few coconuts, some fruit and tiny little cookie cutters. Tiny cookie cutters came into my life last year when I was reading a Pinterest post on fun kid lunch ideas for school. Someone showed tiny cheese sandwiches in the shapes of various animals and I was like, “Can adults also eat that cause that’s the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. Show me the Amazon link IMMEDIATELY”. A batch of animals, hearts, stars and Mickey Mouse ears later and I’m cutting everything I see into fun, tiny shapes. So if you’ve got friends and family coming over for a Shavuot or Memorial Day meal and you need a fun dessert recipe, STAT or you just really enjoy cutting foods into tiny shapes, this is the recipe for you. I hope you enjoy! Chag Sameach!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mermaid Dessert Bowls

Ingredients:

1 whole coconut, cut in half
1/2 mango, sliced long and thick
1 pint strawberries
1 pint blueberries
1  package pineapple, sliced long and thick
1 pint ice cream

Directions:

First, drain the coconut. Seeing as that I am not, in fact a mermaid and that we definitely didn’t have coconuts falling from the trees where I grew up in Marietta, GA, my husband and I totally searched “WikiHow” to figure out the best way to cut a coconut in half as precisely as possible. We found that #3 works best from the site: 3 Ways to Open a Coconut.

Once you drained and rinsed out your coconut, set it aside. Next, using your favorite tiny cookie cutters, cut out as many tiny figures as possible. I used a tiny heart, dolphin and star cookie cutter to create a more ‘under the sea’ vibe.

Next, scoop out as much ice cream as you want and top with fruit. No one’s pretending this is a difficult ‘recipe’, but it is a fun one at that. Enjoy after Instagramming so that all your friends know you’re having a deliciously fun mermaid time!

P.S. Use all the leftover fruit scraps to make one delicious fruit smoothie! Waste not; want not!

 

How do you know when you’re done? Not done with eating, mind you, but done having kids? I thought I knew. I participated in a week-long Positive Psychology workshop last summer and spent the majority of my time digging deep and reflecting on the fact that I thought I was done. Gd had blessed me with two incredible children and that’s it. Leave the party while it’s not only good but great. I spent the many months since that workshop giving away all of our baby gear to various friends and colleagues who were not done and needed the support. “Put it to good use”, I thought, “cause I don’t need it anymore”. But then something happened (as it always does). My father-in-law died and I turned 37. Suddenly I found myself wrestling with my own mortality and with that, the questioning of whether or not I was really ready to close this chapter in my life.

My arguments for not having a third have always been the same: With the life we lead (the expenses of daycare costs, being a working-parent household, wanting to live an observant/kosher Jewish life), we can give two kids a great life but three kids? Three kids would be tough. Plus, I don’t know what you do for a living but I spend a lot of my day talking with adolescents with mental and developmental health struggles so that coupled with the statistics of giving birth after 35 (i.e. the rise of potential of certain developmental delays), I’m frikkin’ freaked. Again, Gd has blessed us with two healthy, developmentally-abled children. LEAVE THE PARTY WHILE IT’S GREAT. But what if it could be greater?

I still have no answer. We are in conversations, clearly. With baby one and two, we were closed up about our family planning but with the potential of baby three I’ve basically been polling everyone I know (and don’t know) on what their thoughts are on how many kids I should have. Yes, that means I sometimes accost strangers in the grocery store with awkward, inappropriate questions like, “Excuse me, hi, you don’t know me but, you have lots of kids. How’s that working out?”

That’s totally normal . . . right? HELP!

 

So since motherhoood and parenting has been constantly on my mind, I made y’all a Mother’s Day breakfast/brunch/lunch/dinner recipe using some of my favorite ingredients. If you don’t know what malawach is you can read about it and get the recipe for this quick yet super fancy meal over at Interfaithfamily.com. Happy Mother’s Day!

 

 

 

Would not be able to parent without my besties!

 

Supporting our friends, Bear and Bud Bookclub, at the Babyccino event in LA last weekend.

 

 

 

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