Do I feel like a mom.

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When someone asks “Do you feel like a mom?” I usually respond with deer-in-the-headlights look and say “Do I feel like a mom.”  Answering this question takes a lot of thought and reflection…a lot of things I don’t have time for.  So it’s easier to repeat the question in the form of a statement.

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Even though my day starts at 5: 50, the morning is ALWAYS a rush.  I recall a few instances such as taking the babies to the park.  If you’re not a mom, I must explain that leaving the house takes an unhealthy volume of pre-planning for something trivial like a walk.  You must coordinate milk feedings, solid food feedings, diaper changes, temperaments and moods, including your own, all for the opportunity to introduce yourself to the Earth’s troposphere on occasion.  Prepare your waterbottle, throw on sneakers and grab whatever decade of workout attire is in arm’s reach.  Even though you were already breaking a sweat an hour ago, there’s a lot of lifting ahead in this routine, especially with the infant car seats.  Insert baby into car seat, insert car seat into base, insert blankie, pacifier, sippy cup or whatever can make the whining go away.  Then lather, rinse, repeat with baby 2.  Then you arrive at the park.  More lifting.  Transfer car seat and baby into stroller.  Repeat.  Set up your ipod loud enough to drown out any potential crying.  Now move.  Oh yeah…lock the car.  You don’t want anyone stealing car seat bases and 101 Toddler Favorites CDs from your soccer mom vehicle.  Keep moving.  Pretend you are glad you left the house.  Push.  Uphill.  Push some more.  Start wondering why you didn’t get a push present.  Do I feel like a mom.  Do I feel like a donkey?

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Parenting requires a LOT of patience.  Not just with the babies…sometimes with your spouse.  If you’ve ever seen my husband administer Children’s Tylenol via syringe to a baby, you will learn the threshold of my patience.  With his suicide-inducing playlist running on a 2-hour loop, not only does he move at a gingerly pace, but his technique is an absolute horror.  And then he walks away, as if the task was successfully mastered until I alert him. “Look at her.  LOOK at her.  It looks like she drank blood from a sacrificial goat in Zimbabwe.”  On the other hand, I’m no princess either.  I can’t identify a specific scenario, but there are times he looks at me, with bursts of steam releasing from both nostrils like the pit bull from an episode of Tom & Jerry, and I know he’s thinking, “I want to kill you, but I can’t because then I would have to eat Taco Bell for the remainder of my life.”

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I spend most of my day picking up scattered Cheerios and smooshed grapes.  They are now at the age where they are intentionally dropping food but pretending they’re “just a baby”.  My two little Galileos are governed by their creative compass to re-test theories on acceleration and I can’t get mad because they just look at me with their jet-puffed marshmallow cheeks.  I pick up itty bitty everything off of the carpet because anything so much as a speck of glitter (yeah, we’re fancy here) is fair game.  I’m picking up toys and wiping up saliva and spit up and throw up.  And snot.  My god, the SNOT.  Extracting mucus out of a baby is not only challenges your gag reflex but it is a useless skill that you must develop on command.  You start to suction out the snot but now you’re stuck.  Where is the other end of this booger???  You just keep pulling and extracting and pulling and you think “this reminds me of something…something, but what?”.  And then finally, you remember.  Cheese pizza.  Babies Ruin Cheese Pizza.

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I dress them in real clothes now.  {insert applause} There are gladiator-grade obstacles in the course of dressing a baby. Have you ever gotten dressed while lying in bed?  (trying to zip up your pre-pregnancy skinny jeans doesn’t count)  It’s easier to just stand up and get dressed, right?  Well, you can’t make a baby stand up.  You can’t make a cooked noodle stand straight.  And these noodles are way past al dente.  Babies do everything lying down.  They take a dump lying down.  While, changing a diaper is a learned art, especially since my kids play in a dirty diaper like it’s a Slip n Slide, dressing them in real clothes requires advanced certifications.  Have you ever opened a brand new roll of gift wrapping paper?  You tear off the shrink wrap and toss it.  Now what if I told you, go back and put the shrink wrap back on the wrapping paper?  Yeah.  That is what it’s like to dress an infant.  Except an infant has branches too.  I would pay money just for someone to thread the noodle arms into those teeny pantyhose sleeves.  And might I add, the fashion rules are TOTALLY lenient for babies?  If I wore a bumblebee tutu with integrated leggings, I would get my ass kicked.

Do I feel like a mom.  Do I feel like a glass of wine?  Parenting is hard.  I don’t need to state the obvious details about what exactly is hard.  But there are other roles that go alongside with it, that don’t go away either.  Wife-ing, Sistering, Daughtering, Employee-ing, Chef-ing, Chauffeuring, etc etc.  It just piles and piles and if you don’t keep up, it becomes a fridge full of old nasty food that you don’t want to deal with.  I respond to every 6th text and every 48th email on a good day.  I pretend I heard what they said when people talk to me, even though I hope they don’t ask me to repeat it.  I discover a new joint that aches and find one more flaw on my face that I care less about.  I am working my butt off from the moment I wake up to the moment I get into bed.  We finally wind down occasionally by treating ourselves to an hour of drowsy Netflix engagement. And then I look at my husband and we both say with a yawn or a sigh, “I love our babies”  ”I miss our babies.” or “Can’t wait to see our babies in the morning.”  And then, tomorrow, lather, rinse, repeat.  That’s what they are: they are our solar soul illuminators, igniting us through the day with giggles and babbles, polishing away our dullness with cuteness and tinyness, and buffing off our lethargy with sweetness and squishiness and all of the other wonderfuls that dilute the exhaustion of duty, until finally by the end of the day, our energy lowers to the weakest tealight flicker, and we do it all over again tomorrow.

Happy First Birthday, on July 3rd, to my Soular Illuminators, Aasha & Aakash.


Downloads of the Week:

Sunshine – Matisyahu

American Baby – Dave Matthews Band


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Rainbow Roasted Vegetable Gemelli Pasta

Gemelli means “Twins” in Italian.  I make this very simple pasta year round using what’s in season.  In the fall, I make this with roasted root vegetables, such as beets, fennel, sweet potatoes, etc.  In the summer, I use a colorful variety of vegetables, making a rainbow, for all of the color they bring into my life.  We like it best served at room temperature drizzled with really good quality olive oil and topped with LOTS of parmeggiano-reggiano.


1 cup chopped red bell pepper (1-inch dice)

1 cup chopped orange bell pepper (1-inch dice)

1 red onion, 1-inch dice

4 cups of diced summer squash (I used 1 zucchini and 1 yellow squash, which yielded a total of 4 cups 1-inch diced squash)

4 cups diced eggplant (I buy the regular big ‘fat’ eggplant, and only need half of it for this recipe)

2 heads of garlic

3-1/2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (in portions: 1 teaspoon + 2 teaspoons + 2-1/2 Tablespoons)

2 cups gemelli pasta

1/2 cup grated parmeggiano-reggiano (which is different than Parmesan!)

Fresh Basil leaves for garnish

dried crushed red pepper for taste



1.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2.  Combine the peppers and onions in a bowl.  Combine the summer squashes and eggplant in another bowl.  Trim off 1/4 inch off of the top of each garlic head.

3.  Drizzle the exposed cloves of garlic with 1/2 teaspoon olive oil per head.  Drizzle 2 teaspoons olive oil over the onions and peppers.  Mix well until all the vegetables are coated.  Drizzle 2-1/2 Tablespoons olive oil over the eggplant and squashes (combine quickly so that the eggplant doesn’t absorb all of the oil).

4.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and arrange the peppers and onions in a single layer.  Season lightly with salt and pepper.  Bake for 25 minutes on the middle rack.

5.  Meanwhile bring 6 quarts of water to a boil.  Add 1/2 Tablespoon salt to the water (to flavor the pasta).  Cook the gemelli  for the duration recommended on the package (usually about 9-10 mins).  Drain the pasta and quickly add the pasta back into the pot.  (Don’t let the pasta “sit” in the colander.)  Cool for about 5-10 minutes, until it stops releasing steam.  Mix the pasta again with a large spoon and then add the grated parmeggiano-reggiano.

6.  Once the onions and peppers are roasted and browned on the edges, remove them into a bowl and arrange the eggplant, squashes, and heads of garlic on a new piece of parchment paper.  Season lightly with salt and pepper.  Bake for 30-40 minutes, until edges are browned/charred.  Remove the garlic cloves from their skins.

7.  Toss together in a large serving bowl, the pasta, vegetables, and garlic cloves.  Drizzle generously with more extra virgin olive oil.  Season with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper.  Finally, serve at room temperature with basil and parmeggiano-reggiano.


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Is Butter a Carb?


With swim season here, today I’m going to tell you how to shed some pounds, because I am the ultimate authority on how to do that.  No seriously, my neon flashing Disclaimer displays:  I’m not a nutritionist…like, at all.  I’m not a fitness expert.  I’m not a swimsuit model (shocking).  I’m not a doctor.  (“Ha!”, says the capital ‘C’ I got in 9th grade Biology.)  But, I cook a lot, I wear a size 4 to 6 jeans and have managed to kind of stay there, and there have been a few “Amee” sightings at the local 24 hour fitness, so extend a little olive branch for my whisper of credibility here.  Here are some rules to follow:

1.  Go easy on the Carbs, girl/dude!  Just cuz you aren’t eating meat, doesn’t give you the liberty to dive into a giant bag of pretzel chips for lunch.  The absence of meat should be replaced with protein rich foods and/or plant proteins.  Eat a vegetable.  Sounds ridiculous to say that to a vegetarian, but you’d be surprised.  Also, stop following “Low Fat” signage…that usually means “Tons of Sugar”  Remember, soda is “Fat Free” too.

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2.  Stop with your stupid Soda addiction.  Just stop.  Diet, Schmiet.  It’s the sister of cigarettes.  Drink some water.  Proper hydration helps you process all of those good nutrients you’re trying to eat.

3.  Plan.  If you want a snack, you’ll reach for something convenient, like pretzel chips?  you’ll reach for anything in a noisy tear apart package…which is PROCESSED and probably violating rule #1.  Instead, plan ahead and prep some veggies and fruit for the week.  Believe it or not, you DO actually like fruits and veggies when they are cut up for you.  Apples and peanut butter or Cucumbers and Hummus or celery and ranch maybe? (storebought hummus does not have Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  Just make a big batch at home.  It will taste WAY better too)

4.  Start lunch and dinner with a salad.  This usually helps with a) getting the nutrients you NEED before eating the food you Looooove (i.e. CARBS) and b) You will fill up faster if Salad gets a head start, BUT beware of the dressing.  Homemade is best and you shouldn’t be afraid of “Good Fats”.  You can use ingredients like Extra virgin Olive Oil, Avocado, and/or Greek Yogurt.  As far as eating out, just assume that every dressing you are getting is crap…especially that “Fat Free Vinaigrette”   Good, quality ingredients are expensive, and restaurants aren’t going to serve those.  They just aren’t.  Click here for my favorite summer salad.

5.  Pass on food that you don’t even want/like: Look at that tray full of cookies at your lunch meeting.  Remind yourself that those are gross cookies.  They really are.  You were just eating them because they are THERE.  What a waste of calories.  Opt for the 5:30 cocktail, if you’re going to cheat.  At least you’ll enjoy it.

6.  You gotta work.  You want to shed pounds, but you don’t want to exercise?  I get it.  Who wants to…MOVE?  You’re pretty sedentary.  I understand that the working life isn’t conducive to any rotating of joints or lifting beyond a coffee mug.  Well, you need to exercise.  There’s no way around that.  Exercise isn’t just about losing weight; it’s also necessary to keep your heart healthy.  Another place you REALLY need to put effort forward is preparing good, nutritious food.  This is why healthy food is expensive, and unhealthy food is cheap.  It takes WORK.  You can’t do one and not the other, otherwise you are flushing your workout down a nasty gas-station toilet.

7. Eat delicious food with REAL natural ingredients.  We eat a week of these meals and notice a visible improvement (and the button on our jeans aren’t holding on for dear life).  Try it out and let me know how you feel!  (Click on the image for the recipe)


1.  Bun Chay (Vietnamese Noodle Salad Bar)

Bun Chay

2.  Slow Cooker Lentil Vegetable Stew

Lentil Stew

3. Rose Elliot’s Tofu & Broccoli Satay

Tofu Satay

4.   Chhole (Indian Spiced Chickpeas) with Rice and Yogurt

Spiced Chickpeas

5.  Mediterranean Tapas Night

Any combination of olives, seasoned  nuts, grapes, roasted vegetables, and artisan cheeses will work.  For something more filling, add my Spanakopita or Quinoa Tabbouleh


Quinoa Tabbouleh

6.  Minestrone Tuscan Bean Soup


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Patio Brunch VI: Greek Brunch Menu

Are you a foodie

I am finally sharing pictures from our last Patio Brunch, and as usual, it’s my favorite day of the year…maybe? Almost?  Um, of COURSE!  I know it’s hot as Magma out there now, so there’s no Backyard Brunching going on for a while here in Texas.   But you can still do this in the fall and spring next year.  But, all of you north of  the Mason Dixon line can still host one this summer.

A shout out to Roshni Merchant, my official Patio Brunch photographer.  She hasn’t missed one yet.  And she’s known me since I was 8, so she will tell me how it is.  ”Amee, we will make it work.”  ”Amee, No.”  ”Amee, your coffee.”  :-D

This year, I had a LOT of help to make this event come together without disaster.  I am super grateful that all of them wanted to help.

This time I had a sous chef, Riddhi, working with me until midnight the night before, I had Roshni and others at the house early in the morning, and I also got a great deal renting some patio furniture and linens from a moderately shady ad on Craigslist.  I was just HOPING he would show up that morning with the furniture as discussed.  And the most help was having my in laws watch the kids overnight so we could work all morning!


Patio Brunch

Greek Menu

(Menu Inspiration and Recipe Links are at the end of this post)

Greek Yogurt Bar

Yiourti Me Meli (Greek Yogurt Bar: Yogurt served with chopped Dates, Pistachios, Local Honey, and Cinnamon)


Greek Village Salad

Eggplant Dip
Melitzanosalata Crostini
(Eggplant dip toasts)
Boureki Style Skillet2
Santorini Sunrise Cocktail (alcoholic)
 Rosemary Lemon Spritzer (non alcoholic)  -  Top with ouzo if desired
The Best Homemade Baklava  (Courtesy of my MIL!)  - missing a photo of this unfortunately!  :(
Mini activities for the kids and toddlers

Mini activities for the kids and toddlers  - (psst*  michael’s dollar bins and target dollar bins)


Setup was entirely executed by my crew. All credit to them!



We just used the spritzer bottles for table settings. And the flowers were on clearance at Kroger. Yesssss…!



Yiourti Me Meli (Greek Yogurt Bar: Yogurt served with chopped Dates, Pistachios, Local Honey, and Cinnamon)

Horiatiki (Greek Village Salad)

(Eggplant dip toasts)

Greek 7 Layer Dip

(i made it with hummus, tzaziki, …and then at 11pm the night before I was like “uhhhh what are my other 5 layers?”  I just used 3 bell peppers and lots of herbs and scallions! Done!  Plus, who’s REALLY counting, right?

Spanakopita (costco frozen section!)

Santorini Sunrise Cocktail (alcoholic)

Rosemary Lemon Spritzer (with Ouzo if desired)

Coffee (also a big hit – Starbucks French Roast from Costco)

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