Mama on Fire: Why every human should attend Burning Man

Burning Man.

Those two words put together bring up a lot of comments from those who have never been.

“Oh yeah, that’s where everyone goes to have sex with each other.”

“Burning Man is just a bunch of people doing massive amounts of drugs.”

“Those people are hippies who can’t handle life.”

“I knew someone who had a friend who knew someone who suffered psychological issues from Burning Man.”

The truth is, the rumors don’t start out of thin air. In a land where 80,000 people go for 7-9 days there will always be people who can confirm all the hear-say.

But then again I guess you could make those same claims about New York City, remote islands in the Atlantic, Los Angeles, and any given Saturday night, wherever you live, USA. And I mean, aren’t all Southerners stupid? And all Muslims are terrorists? Oh and isn’t everyone in Utah a polygamist? Right, I thought so.

The truth is, the people who have never been to Burning Man have no idea what it is. Not only can they not have a clue without actually going, but trying to explain Burning Man to someone is like trying to explain the color purple to a blind person. It’s impossible. I’ve even stopped trying. When people used to ask, “but what do you do all day? Don’t you get bored?” I would say, well no, because there are literally thousands of things to do. One day we went to a Disney sing-a-long, punched some heavy bags at a gym, played a piano, crafted a leather pouch necklace, ate pizza someone gave us, had a lavender head massage, jumped on a trampoline, and did some serious bike riding (to name a few things). One night we went to the Thunderdome and watched a man a woman beat each other with foam bats Mad Max style (it’s pretty crazy).

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But all those things don’t describe Burning Man because they don’t describe the unguarded connections you make out there in a vast desert with no street lights, stores, commerce, or judgement. Outside of Black Rock City (the temporary city built by us, that hosts the Man and all 80,000 of us), if you were to just walk up to someone, give them a hug and then ask them how life was going I’m pretty sure they would not respond with, “amazing! Actually, I have some pickles would you like one?” But that’s pretty much the response at Burning Man. Most everyone is genuinely happy to be there and happy that you’re there with them.

Oh wait, but aren’t they just being nice to you because they want to get in your pants? I suppose you could come to that conclusion if you’re never been, because that is what we’ve come to expect, unfortunately (you ladies know EXACTLY what I mean). But I’m quite proud to say that I have less (if even any) sexual advances while wearing my sequined bikini at Burning Man and giving free hugs than I do in the grocery store produce aisle wearing a t-shirt and shorts, with my child, offering zero free hugs or any invitations to converse. I think it’s because at Burning Man, everyone is so free to be who they are, that if someone is out to find sex or anything along those lines, they know exactly where and who to go to that wants that same thing. There’s no reason to assume that my, or anyone else’s, friendly and warm welcome means anything than just that. Because no one is hiding anything. Isn’t that great? Feel free to be your nice, sweet, happy-to-be-alive self at Burning Man, folks!

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Burning man is full of mathematicians, computer scientists, entrepreneurs, yogis, wanderers, survivalists, party people, introverts, extroverts, Mamas and Daddies, kids and friends. People usually go because they are curious and then come out with an entirely different perspective on life, their path, their friends, their relationships, and the universe. Burning Man experiences are particularly cathartic in which you are able to clearly see which aspects of your life need some help.

Aside from all the dancing and art and sing-a-longs, ultimately, Burning Man is about survival and how you respond. In order to survive at burning man – literally endure life and not die or suffer trauma from heat stroke, exhaustion, undernourishment or getting plain run over in a dust storm, you have to constantly be prepared for anything. Even if you think you’re going down the block to get you’re your bike fixed (by the super amazing bike repair camp) you need to bring enough supplies to last 2 days in the desert.

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To prepare for the entire week, you must bring enough water with you (2 gallons per person per day) and consume that water in a manner that will keep you hydrated but also not overly hydrated, which IS a thing. If you don’t bring proper shade, you’ll literally fry. If you do not bring warm clothes, you’ll freeze at night (except for this year – damn, it was hot!). You must bring proper attire for your feet so you don’t get playa foot, which is basically your feet looking like they’ve started to decay. If you can’t go several days without food, you better bring it. Although loads of camps hand out free food, you never know when you’re going to come across those camps so it’s best not to be starving in the hot playa heat.

There are no, “oops, I forgot batteries for my lights gotta run to light store” moments at Burning Man. What you came with is what you have. Don’t get me wrong, there are always people willing to give you what you don’t have. But in general, if you don’t bring sufficient lights for night time, you may literally get run over (this happened last year). So, before you go have all that crazy sex and take illicit drugs and don’t deal with life and be bored (all said in a completely sarcastic tone), you better make sure you have the tools to survive.

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At Burning Man / Black Rock City there are no garbage cans to throw trash. You may not throw it on the ground. If you have trash, you must keep it until you leave the playa. So you would think, with 80,000 people, there would be a ton of trash throwers, right? Throw it while no one is looking? Nope. Even the most reckless of the crowed respects the playa and knows not to destroy it. The motto of Burning Man is “leave no trace” which means, when all is over, the art is gone, the people have left, and the city is no more, there is no trace we were ever there. It’s a motto that almost every person adheres to out there. The few that try to break that rule quickly learn that misbehavior will not be tolerated by the rest of us.

Being stripped away from all the comforts of our lives, no matter how frugal you might live, can bring out insecurities, fears, and desires you never knew you had. Even though burning man has loads of stimuli and art to focus on, you are forced to face yourself and be with yourself whether you like yourself or not. If you don’t, you are forced to figure out why. People come back from burning man and quit their job and hike big mountains. Some people come back with very clear pictures of who the most important people in their lives are and who most definitely aren’t. Most everyone comes back with a greater understanding of who they are. They keep going back to get further to the truth.

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Don’t get me wrong. It’s not all meditation and loving hugs and being one with the dust. We also party. We party a lot. There are some mornings when we have champagne with breakfast. Some nights we never go to sleep in anticipation of a beautiful sunrise, accompanied by amazing music (at Bubbles & Bass camp, what’s up!). Our happy hours make you forget everything you thought you knew. We are all amazing dancers out there.

Then other days we find an orchestra or a choir and cry as we listen (true story! Burning Man 2011 I unexpectedly balled my eyes out while attending playa church). We attend our friends’ wedding on the playa which is more real than the ones in the default world. We practice yoga and get healed by a shaman. We make leather crafts and swing on monkey bars. We go to sleep at 9pm. We watch the little kids on the playa make dust bunnies and stare in disbelief at the huge Burning Man.

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I have attended Burning Man 4 times and every experience was drastically different. I’ve had burns where I drank all the champagne and stayed up all night. I’ve had burns where I made truly deep connections with almost everyone I met. I’ve had burns where I’ve been frustrated at the heat, at myself, and at life. You just never know what will happen. This recent burn I wanted to see the sunrise and do some yoga and meditation camps. I did none of that. I barely drank any alcohol, I relaxed a lot, and I danced my butt off. I went to bed early most nights. I missed my baby and at the same time I found myself dreaming about taking her with me (she would love all the dance parties, the art, the monkey bars, the pancakes).

The first time you attend Burning Man you will be shocked at the amount of people who hug you with genuine compassion. We are all just so happy to see you and that you decided to come be a part of this craziness with us. My husband, the naysayer of this event, came out of the first day with a true appreciation for the genuine nature of everyone with whom he came into contact. You’ll be pleasantly surprised when someone offers you a top notch Bloody Mary or a fresh homemade pizza slice and expects nothing in return. You’ll find yourself standing around wondering which direction you should go, when out of nowhere an art car that looks like a sheep pulls up and asks if you want a ride. You’ll love it so much that you’ll think to yourself, what can I give people to make their experience as amazing as they’ve made mine? And next year you’ll make grilled cheese and hand it out to people expecting nothing in return.

This year was the hottest I’ve ever experienced. My husband had to go to the medic tent because he overheated (a truly humbling experience for him. He learned his lesson about not drinking enough water!). I ran out of water one day, very far away from home, and a woman who I had just met took me over to her tent, completely filled up my camelbak with her water, and sent me on my way with a hug. The bike repair camp fixed our broken bikes. The camp across from us gave us iced coffee. We loaded people up with pickles, cookies, grown folks lemonade and hip hop happy hours.

There is no bartering. There is no currency. There is no, “I’ll give this to you if you have something I want.” There is no judgement on what you are wearing or not wearing. There are no social hierarchies or exclusive camps or VIP tickets. Those who are trying to profit off Burning Man by trying to inject VIP events and exclusivity are slowly being weeded out and ostracized. Because we will not have you destroy the ethos of our Burning Man. Even Sean “Puffy” Combs himself was in a camp this year that was open to all who entered.

Don’t get me wrong, I am still a logical person when it comes to all of this. I do not think every day in the real world should be Burning Man. I don’t come back and start handing out pickles to people on the street or go and ask my neighbors if they have any iced coffee they can give me or if they would like some grown folks lemonade and a hug. I’ve lived enough to know that Burning Man isn’t realistic for the whole world. However, if one week out of the year can positively affect the other 51 weeks of most of the 80,000 people, who go back  into society, isn’t that good for everyone? I believe so and I’ll do my part to protect it.

I’ve been all over the earth and there is no other place or experience like this one. Yes, you can trade in your expensive burning man ticket and all that’s involved and go to Paris and see the Louvre, or you can go to one of the smaller burns, or you can save your money and time and keep working the grind and let all the weeks blend in to one another. There are a million reasons not to attend Burning Man. There are only a handful of powerful reasons you should go. But you can’t replace the experience with anything else so don’t even try.

I created a FAQ section below which are questions I’ve been asked over the years about this event. Maybe it will encourage someone else to take the leap next year:

Where do you use the bathroom? Super important question. There are about 20 or so port-a-potties every 2 blocks or so. They are cleaned by the port-a-potty company twice a day. They are the cleanest port-a-potties I’ve ever seen. And no, you are not allowed to ‘go’ on the Playa. Big no no.

Isn’t this bartering? Aren’t you just exchanging things? Even though I already answered this question above, I’ve found that there are tons of people who simply cannot understand that Burning Man is not a community of bartering. People give you stuff. You take it and say thank you. The end.

Is everyone doing drugs? A lot of people do. A lot of people don’t. Drugs are illegal, even in Black Rock City, and there are undercover cops everywhere. If you’re trying to go out there to sell drugs or stay in a 24/7 drug induced state, you’re a) going to get arrested for selling drugs and/or b) going to die or come close to it because you won’t be taking proper care of yourself.

Is this considered a music festival? Are there bands and concerts? Not really. There is music, there are bands…. But that’s not the focus. There is music played by tons of different camps, 24/7, of all types. You can find almost any type of music you want. Diplo and a slew of other DJs do sets here and there. People come and dance if they want to. But there are usually a few hundred people at those sets. The other 79,000 people are doing something else.

Isn’t this just for young people? Like college kids? Not at all. In fact, the majority of the people there seem to be in their late 20’s, 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. If I had to guess, I would say the most prominent ages are people in their 40’s. My first year, our neighbor was in his 90’s. Our other neighbors were dentists from Canada who looked like they were in their 60’s.

Do people worship the Man? I’ve never met anyone who says they worship the Man… that’s not saying there isn’t someone out there that does. However, most people use the Man as a symbol for things they want to get rid of in their life or as a symbol to a new beginning. When the Man burns on Saturday night, a lot of people feel like they are letting go of things that have caused stress in their life and that they can start fresh. It’s like New Year’s resolutions in a way. I, personally, don’t feel any of this, because the whole experience is cathartic for me.

I don’t drink at all. I’m also vegan. Would I have fun here? Yes! There are TONS of people who don’t drink or party or eat cheese. Unlike when you go to a bar and are surrounded by people drinking and actin’ a fool, this is a place where drinking or partying doesn’t have to be the focal point for you. I feel like there is less temptation here than there is in life outside of Burning Man.

 

A Brand New 36 year old’s Reflection: 30’s vs. 20’s

I remember my mom, as well as several other women older than I, saying that they still felt like they were 25 but just in an older body. It true! Well, sort of.

Let’s compare 25 year old me to the just turned 36 year old me (yes, 36. Old AF. JK JK)

25 year old me:

  • Did not care about skin care creams or their ability to fight aging
  • Was fresh out of a bad relationship and living in NYC
  • Also fresh off going to Italy by myself, propelled to do so because of said breakup. At least, that was my excuse. I really just wanted to go back to Italy if I’m being totally honest.
  • Was mainly motivated to meet new friends, have wild nights and crazy experiences, and just soak up everything Manhattan. Marquee. Hamptons share house. Zipcars. The late mid-late 2000’s in NYC  were quite fun! P.S. All of those things sound like lots of missed sleep and hangovers to me now.
  • Did NOT want a boyfriend, husband, kid, boss (except I had to have a boss, because I had to pay my bills, yo!)
  • Spent way too much time worrying what other people were thinking about me
  • Was a runner (no more than 2-3 miles), picked up boxing at Gleasons in Brooklyn, tried yoga for the first time, drank a lot of iced coffee (even in winter), ate a lot of meat
  • 20-something year old me has a birthday: Invite everyone I know to some loud bar/club and dance all night. Brunch the next day. Amazing!!! (Thank goodness social media hadn’t really taken off!)
  • Had late nights that probably included tequila shots and met up with friends for brunch the next day to discuss previous night’s events. Probably go out that night too. Probably go for a run first and get an iced coffee.
  • Biggest concern: Will I miss out on something really fun if I stay home?

This would be some time in….2007 I think?? One pic is in the Hamptons, the other was at Pink Elephant. We decided we had jobs and could get our own damn table and bottle service, thank you! #goals

36 year old me

  • Have taken an interest in the benefits of botox, face creams, and general jeti mind tricks of trying to wish away wrinkles
  • Have come to terms with the fact that traveling is a medicine I need in order to keep myself sane and have decided that it must be a life priority
  • Mainly motivated to be the best mother, wife and person I can be, and to find the next show I can binge watch while my toddler naps
  • I have a husband, baby girl, distinguished dog, and I am my own #girlboss
  • Care very little about what anyone thinks of me unless they are my kid. Or my dog. Or my husband, sometimes.
  • Still a runner (3-4 miles at a time mainly, unless it’s not 97 degrees in which case I may go further), half marathon completer, boot camp lover, meditator, and extremely part time yoga enthusiast. Eat very little meat, lots of cauliflower, still drink lots of iced coffee.
  • 36 year old me has a birthday: go to dinner at 5:30pm with my husband followed by a movie with very buttery popcorn and in bed by 10pm. Heaven!
  • Has more than 3 drinks and feels like complete garbage for the next 2 days, and swears to never. drink. again. Oh, and also gain 10lbs from those 3+ drinks. No clue how that happens.
  • Biggest concern: How can I make sure my child doesn’t grow up to be an a-hole or sell street drugs? Also, wrinkles.

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That would be circa now, the picture fit for a baby mag.

The part of me that still feels 25 is the part of me that still seeks adventure, friendship, and happy times. The part of me that is different wants to live my life for me and no one else, learn all I can and focus on living life in a happy vibration. I also watch way more tv shows than I ever have in my entire life now. I’m not exactly trying to proudly wave that flag, but I just tend to prefer that or a book and go to bed early rather than have some booze fueled house party til 2am. Clearly, there is no in between.

In the last year I’ve become extremely aware of my mortality and all the potential problems that could arise to take me away from my sweet baby or make me less able to do all the things I want to do! I see food as the fuel I need to generate the most Kung Fu cells in my body that can fight off any rogue cells that try to make their way into my organs and wreak havoc. I see my mind as a tool that can control my life and my happiness, so I spend a lot of time trying to get my mind on a high vibration (hello, meditation, mindfulness, and getting rid of negative thoughts!) I no longer think that everything is circumstantial. If I’m in a bad place in life it’s my own damn fault.

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This is actually from Burning Man just last year. I may be mid-thirties, but I still love doing crazy ish!

Health is extremely important to me. Now when I see someone drinking a Coke or a Pepsi I want to run up to them and say something like, “You are poisoning yourself! How can you treat yourself so poorly?!” But I don’t because that would be super un cool and probably get me punched in the face. But between me and you, I don’t understand why people complain about health problems while simultaneously poisoning their bodies.

I’m quite sure I’m not the only woman who got into their mid-thirties and started re-thinking life. I’m pretty sure I won’t be the last. 25 year old me would think 36 year old me was a wack job and made no sense. I may even make fun of me a little. 25 year old me also thought Lean Cuisines were healthy and meditation was the “devil’s work” and children were annoying.

25 year old me loved being friends with all types of people with all types of interests – even if it were interests I shouldn’t be around – because it kept things exciting. 36 year old me only wants to spend my precious time and life around people who live a positive life and influence me to keep living one as well. Negative types, pity party-ers, and users need not apply.

25 year old me thought I was pretty ok and did not do any self improvement what-so-ever, except for restrict my calories when I thought I had gained weight. 36 year old me realizes that I am far from perfect, will constantly keep evolving, and there are so many things that I don’t know. There are so many things that I don’t know that I don’t know! (Sacred Geometry?! Black holes?! Why Sex and the City had to end?!)

In the end, I wish I could go tell my 20-something self to stop partying so much, watch what I’m putting in my body, and follow my dreams without being worried about what others would think or waiting for the “right” time. I eventually did many of these things, it just took a long time for me to get there.

I can’t wait (wait yes I can) til I’m 46 and I look back and think what a clueless person I was when I was 36. It will be interesting to look back at this and probably roll my eyes…at myself…. while I drink coke and eat cheetos (actually that’s probably the least likely scenario but wouldn’t that be ironic).

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My husband and I in his village in Fiji 2 years ago. Traveling is my HEART!

 

1 Puff Sleeve Blouse, 3 Looks!

I was unsure if I would like this top – I have wide shoulders and usually things that accentuate my arms or shoulders make me look like a football player. Not a cute look. But I think since this top is so lightweight that I actually ended up really liking it!

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I immediately felt like this needed to be paired with a skinny bottom, like skinny jeans, but I wanted to try it with a few not-so-obvious combinations first. Which is why I freaking love fashion; there are no rules! OK well maybe there are some but I choose to ignore almost all of them 😉  I decided it would be fun to put this top with some trouser pants that had a print. I like this look, although I think if my pants fit a bit more snug it would look better.

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Then I decided to try it with a skirt – my faux leather skirt by Gentle Fawn is always my go-to skirt because it lets me pair an easy, no-tuck-in top and feel all comfy while looking like I spent some time on my outfit 🙂 I ended up liking this more than I thought I would! I also think it would be fun to pair this with a fitted printed skirt but I don’t have one that I think would work right now.

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Last, this is my favorite look of the 3! I don’t know why I always love skinny denim and heels – especially my sparkly Jimmy Choos (did I mention these were my “push” present from my husband? Worth having that baby without any drugs!) 🙂 I like this look the best and will definitely be rocking it many many times this year. Luckily, in northern Florida it will be easy to wear this look almost year round!

I didn’t try this out yet, but I plan on putting this top with my faux suede leggings and over the knee boots this winter. It *might* look a little like I’m about to ride a horse or be knighted in to King Richard’s army…but if it doesn’t resemble any of those scenarios I think it will ROCK!

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And look, you can even deal with your toddler who will not stop putting rocks in her mouth in this blouse! My top is from Walter Green Boutique.

1 Skirt, 3 Looks

This skirt is really great for 2 reasons: 1) it is a classy, to-the-knee length which I think is a nice change from maxi and mini and 2) it has these 2 high splits in the front! So you show a little leg when you walk. I really would have liked to pair a red top with this skirt, but I didn’t have one that was the right color red for me. So I decided to play around with tops I already own.

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I feel like this white off shoulder top from Walter Green Boutique literally goes with everything. I’ve also worn it with another floral skirt and I loved hat look too:

But I guess white goes with everything, right? I think it makes this outfit seem more romantic and date night worthy.

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This time I put the skirt with my faithful blue silk tank from Yumi Kim which I’ve had for 500 years. I don’t think I’ll ever get rid of this Top! The blue doesn’t exactly “match” any colors in the skirt but I think it gives a whole different look with this skirt.

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Here I paired the skirt with a faux leather charcoal tank. I feel like this tons down the look a bit and could even be a fall transition outfit. I can see some tights and over the knee boots here…

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Last, I put the actual matching top with the skirt. I like this (this was my husband’s favorite) but I think it can be a bit overwhelming. I also think the other looks could be worn Day or night whereas this one is probably only wear it to dinner or maybe a party!

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And here’s one that didn’t make the cut 🙂

1 Dress 3 Looks

I bought this dress from Revolve.com on a whim because I really liked the sleeves. This color is not a color I would normally choose but it had me at the sleeves. Once I put it on, the color was actually pretty cute! It fit well – it is fitted, has a little stretch, but not so bodycon that I would feel self conscious. I started to hold up different necklaces that I could wear with it and realized that it’s a pretty versatile dress!

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Here is the dress with a long edgy-ish necklace that I bought when I lived in NYC so at this point it’s about 8 years old! I thought it gave the dress a look that could be worn somewhere like a party with a DJ or somewhere wanted to stand out but  not necessarily be “fancy”.

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Then I tried adding pearls and, what the heck, my Jimmy Choo sparkly pumps! This upped the fancy level to make it something I’d wear to a cocktail party or any place I needed to be fancy and it was still appropriate to wear such a short dress 🙂

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By the way, if you’re even wondering if I have ever actually worn these ostentatious Jimmy Choo shoes, the answer is YES! I’ve actually found that they go with SO much – I’ve worn them with dresses as well as jeans.

Last, even though I have several more necklaces that would have looked great, I paired it with some blue ball (I couldn’t figure out any other way to describe them sorry) earrings for a color blocking effect. I feel like this is more of a casual look. I could easily put on some wedges and go to brunch.  My earrings are from Walter Green Boutique and are $10.

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I also think this dress would like fun with a big huge statement necklace like this one.

4 Amazingly Tasty, super easy, kid friendly (and vegan!) Cauliflower Recipes

I am not sure why, but I love cooking with cauliflower! Not plain jane, nothing but salt and pepper cauliflower, but all the delicious recipes that can be created with it. I’m mostly vegan and sugar free (I still have my vices…. hello coffee!) but these recipes are vegan. Even if you DON’T like cauliflower, I dare you to try these recipes and not change your mind…

P.S. Cauliflower is anti-inflamitory , cancer fighting, detoxing (unless you dump a bunch of cheese on it), and has tons of healthy vitamins and minerals! Plus it has basically no calories (if you’re worried about that) 🙂

Buddha Bowl with Cauliflower and Chick Peas

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THIS receipe… if you try just one, try this one. Even must husband, the ultimate no-veggie-eating carnivore who once told me when I said I was making cauliflower…again… said that “cauliflower just pisses me off.” I mean, he hates it. But, he LOVES this recipe! Not only that, but my 19 month old little girl LOVES it as well! WIN!

You’ll need:

  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 1 head of broccoli
  • 1 can of cooked chick peas or 1.5 cups, drained and rinse
  • 1 batch of quinoa (cooked)
  • salt n’ pepa
  • olive oil

For the Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup cashews, soaked
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice (I use the pre-squeezed because who has the time!)
  • 1 tbsp of tahini (it’s ground up sesame seeds…most stores have this)
  • 1 large garlic clove (or, like me, buy the already cushed garlic in olive oil)
  • 1/4 tsp fine grain sea salt
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 6 tbsp water or more to thin out as much as you want
  1. Soak the cashews in water for at least 2 hours. I put them in water in the morning and when I get home to cook them they are perfect. In a pinch, you can also boil them for 10 minutes and they should be good to go.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
  3. Put the chickpeas in a pan and sprinkle some olive oil on them and stir.
  4. Put the cauliflower and broccoli in another dish and sprinkle with olive oil.
  5. Put both of these dishes in the oven for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes stir the chickpeas and cook both dishes another 10-15 minutes until they are done. (aside: when I just don’t have the time for this, I steam the broccoli and cauliflower for 7 minutes and then roast for about 10 and back the chickpeas the same time (about 17 minutes).
  6. Meanwhile, mix all the dressing ingredients in a blender (I use my nutribullet)  and blend on high speed until smooth. Sometimes I’ll make this early and store in the fridge to save me time when my toddler is desperately wanting my attention.
  7. After the veggies are done, mix them all together. You can either mix all the dressing with it,  or let each person spoon out however much you want.
  8. Put the veggie mix over your grains (the quinoa), mix with the dressing, and enjoy!

Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpeas with Mustard and Parsley

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This one is from Gweneth Paltrow’s recipe book, It’s All Good. I’m sure there are several other recipes in there that are great (I think I remember a sweet potato one being pretty tasty….) but this is the one that stuck with me. I was cooking it twice a week sometimes! My husband and child aren’t super crazy about this one, but I LOVE it! But I also love mustard and that bitter taste. My friends who I have shared this with also love it!

Ingredients:

  • a 14-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained and dried in a kitchen towel
  • 1 head of cauliflower,  cut into bite-sized florets
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Coarse sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon seeded mustard
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped Italian Parsley

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F
  2. Toss the chickpeas and cauliflower together in a large roasting pan with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and a big pinch of salt. Roast, stirring now and then, until everything is dark and the cauliflower is quite soft, about 45 minutes. Again, if I don’t have the time to sit around and wait 45 minutes for this to cook, I steam it for a few minutes, roast for about, oh, whatever I have time for, and it’s good to go!
  3. Meanwhile, whisk together the mustards, vinegar, and 1/4 cup of olive oil with a big pinch of salt and a few healthy grinds of black pepper.
  4. While the chickpeas and cauliflower are still warm, toss them with the mustard dressing and the parsley.
  5. Serve warm or at room temperature. It’s so freaking good!!!

 

Creamy Vegan Lemon-Pepper Pasta

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This is another dish my child LOVES! Little does she know she’s eating a whole bunch of cauliflower and healthy nuts. I make this at the beginning of the week and give it to her for lunch for the next few days.

This is another recipe which you’ll need to soak your cashews for a few hours (again, just put them in water in the morning and by cooking time they are soft and ready to go!)

Ingredients

Pasta

  • 12 ounces gluten-free linguine or rigatoni* 

Garlicky Lemon-Pepper Sauce

  • 2 1/2 cups small (1-inch) cauliflower florets (fresh, not frozen) (I just get a big head of cauliflower and call it a day)
  • 1 cup unsweetened plain plant-based milk (I use coconut milk), plus more if needed to thin
  • 1/4 cup raw cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours or in a pinch, boil for 10 minutes.
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste if desired
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes, plus more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 3/4 to 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced (more or less, to taste) 

For the Pasta

  1. Cook your pasta according to package directions. I like to salt my water and put a little coconut oil in it which I feel like helps the pasta not to be so sticky.

    For the Garlicky Lemon-Pepper Sauce

    1. Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add the cauliflower florets to the pot and boil for 7 minutes or until very fork-tender. Strain off the water.
    2. Add the boiled cauliflower florets, almond milk, cashews, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, sea salt, and black pepper to a high-speed blender (do not use a food processor. I use my nutribullet.)

    3. Blend on high for 2 minutes or until completely smooth and creamy. Set within reach of the stove.
    4. Heat the olive oil and garlic in a large sauté pan over low heat. Cook for 2 minutes, or until soft and fragrant.
    5. Stir in the cauliflower sauce, increase heat to medium, and simmer for 3 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.
    6. Turn off the heat, add the pasta to the pan, and toss to coat. If a slightly thinner sauce is desired, add more plant-based milk, one small splash at a time, to thin. (Note: If you add more milk, you’ll need to increase the seasoning to accommodate.)

    7. Taste and generously season with more sea salt and black pepper to taste.

    8. Serve immediately.

    Recipe Notes

    *For a rich and super creamy pasta use 12 ounces of pasta. For a slightly less saucy pasta, use up to 16 ounces (1 pound).

     

    Roasted Panko-Parmesean Cauliflower

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If you like things on the spicy side, this is for you. I can’t do spicy so I tone this recipe down a bunch and it is delicious! The first time I made it, it was VERY spicy and my husband was all about it. Sometimes my child likes this recipe, sometimes she doesn’t. The other 3 are way more kid friendly.

INGREDIENTS
  • 2 lb cauliflower florets [around 6-8 cups] Again, I just use a head of cauliflower.
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes – for less spicy, do 1/2 tsp
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika –
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper – for less spicy, do 1/4 tsp
  • ½ tsp oregano or dry Italian seasoning [optional]
  • ⅓ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Spritz a large baking sheet liberally with cooking spray then set aside.
  2. Place the cauliflower florets into a large mixing bowl. Drizzle with the olive oil and stir until coated. Add the remaining ingredients. Toss until evenly distributed.
  3. Arrange on the baking sheet in a single layer. Drizzle lightly with additional olive oil.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring once midway through cooking.
  5. After 30 minutes, increase the oven temperature to 500°F and continue to cook for 3-4 minutes until golden.
  6. Serve with thinly sliced green onions, if desired. If you’re not going vegan, try sprinkling some parmesean.

3 Days in Sardinia & Milan

I feel like my life after having a baby consists of a lot of running. I want to get everything done before I pick up Mila from daycare because I want to be with her without thinking of anything I forgot to do or need to do or should be doing.  I do not even know what it means to be bored anymore! That being said, I absolutely love being a Mom and everything I do now has an added purpose of wanting to create the best life I can for my little girl. Never mind that she’s just so darn cute! However, it doesn’t change the fact that I have virtually no free time or time for myself anymore. I never in my wildest dreams thought I’d be doing a 5:30am workout class just so I could fit in a workout twice a week. So when one of my best friends asked if I wanted to come over to Sardinia, Italy for his 36th Birthday for FREE for 3 days, I said, ‘heck yeah!’

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Adam and I have been friends for 16+ years. I knew him before he was ‘out’ and he knew me before I wore makeup and still put Sun-in in just my……bangs (oy). Adam is the poster child for studying hard in school to give yourself loads of opportunities. He completely put himself through college and later through business school, all the while working as a fancy schmancy consultant which requires him to travel a LOT…which is why he has so many frequent flier miles and hotel points, thus being able to use some of them to fly me over to Italy!

IMG_3315Although the trip was only 3 days, it takes an entire day to get to a small island in Italy from the panhandle of Florida. I was very grateful to my husband for agreeing to take care of our little one for 5 days while I went off on a quick vacation! I actually enjoyed the 7 hour flight to Europe because I got to mindlessly watch movies and read my book…which was amazing!

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As soon as I arrived, Adam and I went to Hotel Cervo which was a super luxurious resort on the coast of Sardinia. It was amazing. If we had to actually pay for our rooms I may have been a tad more “am-I-getting-my-money’s-worth” but seeing as tho we didn’t…it was absolutely perfect! The incredibly sweet staff left a bottle of bubbly in our room, probably assuming we were on some romantic vacation instead of a married woman and her bff enjoying the fruits of his labor. We immediately put on our bathing suits and asked the resort to take us by boat to their private beach. We were quite enthralled with the large yachts that surrounded us. If someone were to tell me Jay-Z and Bey were on one of those yachts I would not have been surprised. (Although the crime-drama-watching part of me thought it was drug lords with their mistresses behaving badly).

 

Adam and I noticed that we were the only Americans at the resort. At least, from what we saw. We also noticed that, in true American fashion, we were a few decibels above everyone else, we talked and joked with the staff, and generally made the most out of our short stay.

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So later, we decided to check out this beach bar/club called Phi Beach. Ah-Maz-Ing! I absolutely loved this place. Completely outdoors with awesome, chill music, and the crowd was just families and groups just having a good time i.e. no sketchy 20-something males standing in the corner oggling all the girls, no weird old guys with model ‘girlfriends’, and generally no one looking for anything but a good time with the people they were with. There were even some children there! Sounds weird, but oddly appropriate in Sardinia. Adam and I hung out there for a while until it was time for our dinner reservation. If I lived in Sardinia, that would be my SPOT!

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Dinner was perfect. We ate at La Rocca. Perfect weather, perfect ambiance, perfect food. Unfortunately, we were way too busy enjoying an amazing Italian meal in a beautiful restaurant to think to take pics, but it was amazing!

We did a lot of exploring on our trip and did some walking which made me feel like I at least got some exercise. The island was absolutely gorgeous and photos just do not do it justice.

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For Adam’s Birthday celebration, we went to a restaurant / club called “Billionaire”. There were some extremely attractive men and women there! However, I’m pretty sure the girls at the table next to us were doing drugs in the bathroom. In any case, we had an amazing dinner and then headed downstairs to the club. I haven’t been to club like this since my NYC days. Adam and I danced around for a while but eventually hopped in a cab back to our hotel. It’s too bad I didn’t think to take a picture of us when we  weren’t  in a dark night club – we looked really cute!

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The next morning we planned to take a quick flight to Milan and spend the day there, so that my trip back to the US wouldn’t be quite so long. I had not been to Milan since I was 25, broke up with my boyfriend in Boston, and took a solo trip to Italy to “regroup” before I moved myself to NYC. Best credit card debt I ever racked!

We had a leisure breakfast, took in a few sights, then headed to the airport. We had NO idea we’d be met with an enormous line! There was no way we were making our flight. Adam, being the scrappy, MBA holding world traveler, asked a desk clerk if he could pay to skip all that nonsense (doesn’t hurt to ask, I guess!) Well, for 10 euro we were able to jump in front of the check in line, skip the long security line, and get to our gate in time for me to do some souvenir shopping! Thanks, Adam!

We got to Milan with almost the whole day ahead of us. We were exhausted from the night before (30-something clubbing is way different than 20-something clubbing!) but we did manage to go to a cute farm-to-table restaurant called Un Posto a Milano in the middle of the city, walk around the Duomo and grab some gelato before we just had to nap it.

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I couldn’t nap for too long but Adam seemed pretty beat so I headed up to the hotel roof for a beautiful view and  a glass of vino.

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For dinner we went to a cute little (well, it was kind of big and crowded) area called Navigli along some bridges and had some really good pizza and great conversation about life. Afterwards I went back to our hotel and crashed, while Adam went and checked out the pool and of course met some boys who wanted to take him to a Milan nightclub… oh the life.

My 3 days were just what I needed for a quick break from “running”… ! However, I was super excited to get back to my little munchkin. One day I’ll tell her about my trip and then bring her on some adventures with me.

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OK last but not least…. is this man carrying a purse?! He was walking with a woman, who was carrying a small bag….is this an Italian thing? Well anyway, to each his own….purse, I guess!

In the end, I had an amaaaazing time…. but always super excited to get back to my sweet baby!

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