2016 is for Courage


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When I look back on 2015, I find myself overwhelmed. I set an intention at the start of the year that it would be for loving. That indeed it was. However, the lessons surrounding the word loving were quite different than I imagined this time a year ago.

What I learned through this intention of loving is that it has a way of breaking your heart wide open, often into a thousand little pieces that need to be picked up and placed back together in an entirely new way. My heart and soul, seemed on a humpty-dumpty mission in 2015. 

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The fragility of letting my heart lead meant today, while I am a bit patchworked together, I feel incredibly humbled by all of what happened and who I am now as a result. Community, near and far, became a critical part of sewing me back to together and I now find myself a layer deeper. Almost as if the past year’s experience exfoliated my soul a bit.

In addition, the innocence of the moment, those sweet in-betweens, brought me closer to mending my heart than any grandiose attempts on my part. The silence was critical and while I often fight the quiet moments, I find myself craving a bit more peace in 2016.

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In the new year I want to be something a bit stronger than I was this past year. I also suspect that the foreshadowing events coming my way are not necessarily a peaceful river– even if I crave some reprieve. What I need this year is heart and strength to get me through any big rapids so that I can gently float into the waves that will allow me to still see the goodness. The love.

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As Brene Brown states: “Courage is a heart word. The root of the word courage is cor – the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.” Over time, this definition has changed, and today, we typically associate courage with heroic and brave deeds. But in my opinion, this definition fails to recognize the inner strength and level of commitment required for us to actually speak honestly and openly about who we are and about our experiences — good and bad. Speaking from our hearts is what I think of as “ordinary courage.”

28-Brene-Brown

When I look to 2016, I feel courage will be my guiding force.

Can I be honest, though? I am a bit freaked out about this new intention I am setting.

After ‘loving’ left me often more vulnerable and fragile, a strong word such as courage sounds as if it will not disappoint on this crazy adventure we call life. Letting the world know I am ready to show up, be seen and let my heart lead me into frontiers yet unknown doesn’t exactly feel like cozying up to a warm cup of goodness. But, then having the courage to sit still and be present can also be an act of defiance. At least for me and my busy way of distracting myself with thoughts that keep me small, unassuming and in the backseat of life, when I know there is something brighter, better that I am capable of sharing.Screen Shot 2015-12-29 at 9.14.20 PM

I am ready to take up a bit more space and shout out a bit louder about the truths that I know. While I’d like to think I have the entire year to expose my heart, I want to start by saying I feel more strongly that love does really conquer all. (What a smashingly gorgeous cliche!?) And that your perspective matters. Rose-colored glasses may feel naive, but a loving outlook will answer the question deeper and more profoundly than allowing ourselves to only see the world at face value through our own distorted lens.

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As I embrace ‘courage’, the first required step indeed feels like a public announcement. So here I am! May I have the strength to share more etchings of my heart with you this year.

And now you. Dear friend…
What intention or word have you set for 2016? What color of glasses do you plan to wear this year? Let me know how I can support your journey through 2016.

In order to be brave this year, I am pretty sure I will need you nearby. Let’s love 2016 together.

Happy New Year sweet one! With love + courage,

Lilly

Food Gifts from Your Own Hands

granoladropsGet your apron on! These recipes from Lilly’s Table are a unique way to gift the loved ones in your life a treat straight from your heart, made with your hands. Some of them are sweet, some are savory, but none of them require refined sugar, processed foods or crazy unnecessary additives. Give the gift of a treat made sincerely with love and pure, real, wholesome goodness. They all pack up and ship well, too for your buddies who need holiday care packages.

Recently, I been making these Cacao Almond Balls with a base of dates, almonds and occasionally a heavy handed dash of my favorite liquors, which means I have to rename them “Boozy Balls” (mostly so I don’t accidentally use them as a post-workout snack 8-). This also reminds me of Schweddy Balls, because ’tis the season!) This recipe requires a food processor, but beyond that you don’t even need an oven and they are pretty simple to roll together into little balls of charming goodness.cocoaalmondballs

Maybe you would prefer your chocolate smooth + spreadable? This Homemade “Nutella” is blended from scratch with hazelnuts, cocoa, and a drizzle of sweetness making it a spread worth giving to anyone with a sweet tooth who might be trying to eat less sugar. This is even a lovely topping for cookies, crackers and even cupcakes.

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Apple Pecan Granola is this excellent, not-to-sweet base recipe for a simple granola. It is easy to add your own flavors, spices, nuts, seeds + dried fruits to really make this your own. Do it up and add your own personal pizzaz!

Coconut Granola brings together as many layers of coconut as I could muster into one recipe. The white flecks are a perfect snowy reminder of the brisk holiday season we are in.coconutgranola

Either of these granolas could be taken to the next level with these Granola Drops. You can even start this recipe with your favorite store-bought granola if you have a favorite.

Coco-Nutty low-resThe Coco-Nutty Granola is especially perfect for the grain-free, gluten-free, oat-free, I am mostly eating nuts + coconut crowd. This is probably my favorite granola because it is so high in protein it sustains me hours into my busy mornings.

blackpepperparmesangranolaBlack-Pepper + Parmesan Granola. Okay- I admit this one is totally unconventional, but I LOVE savory so I had to share it. It is beautiful sprinkled on salads or sizzling fried up eggs in the morning.
fennelcrackers
Jams from your summer harvest are always a good gift to share. Make that simple jar of goodness a bit more spectacular as a  hostess gift with homemade crackers and your favorite cheese. These whole-grain Fennel Crackers can be rolled out and cut into shapes. Meanwhile, these gluten-free Pecan Crackers are hearty and perfect for the holiday season.

These naturally sweetened Coconut Lime Date Bars, find the recipe here: http://www.simpleacresblog.com/health–food/coconut-lime-date-bars are just as lovely throughout the year as they are wrapped up as a gift for the holidays. A shiny label or a favorite washi tape wrapped around these bars make them extra special this time of year. Mix in a bit of dried cranberry towards the end of mixing for a delightful Christmas feel.

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What treats are you planning to make this Holiday Season!?
Don’t forget! Gift your favorite bunch of ladies with Lilly’s Table seasonal meal planning service, too. Pay for four gift certificates, but receive five. Or buy eight gift certificates and receive three gift certificates for free! This deal is special for the holidays, so take advantage of it today!  

Cook seasonally. Eat consciously. Live well,

Chef Lilly

Gifts for a bunch of your Lovely Ladies

 

uwladiesGirlfriends.

Whether they are your sister, co-worker, besties from childhood, college or maybe the mommies of your kid’s friends, there just doesn’t seem to be enough time, texts, chit-chats or coffee to share with them. For me, I am blessed with ladies nearby and across the country who have shared important moments in my life, have supported me, laughed, cried and just been their precious selves for me.

More recently, I have had the honor of getting to know a group of gals who are building businesses at all different stages and it has been a blessing to get to know them better. Especially as we all hone in on ways to balance our business life with mamahood as well as our own personal joy.

Slowly, I am coming to understand we are all struggling, while doing our best. We are all facing our own dramas, triumphs, challenges, and successes. Sharing our stories over hot drinks, long walks, good food or pedicures makes all of it that much easier to face or celebrate.

The truth is, try as I might, there are so many lovely ladies in my life that I want to connect to, share and celebrate with. When it comes to the holiday season, there are all sorts of reasons to give each of them something extra special, but I always stress about trying to find them something useful, sweet, or just pretty- even if I know it will be discarded eventually. What I really want to bestow on each of them is a bit more time to relax, a bit less drama to endure, something delicious to savor or simply something beautiful to learn.IMG_8295

When it comes to Lilly’s Table, I like to think it is the perfect gift for the Mama who is ready to embrace the goodness each season has to offer with simple recipes, weekly meal plans and easy to create shopping lists that bring a nourishing beautiful meal to their family. It is the gift that goes beyond the holiday season to serve all of us ladies as we try to juggle and balance it all.

Buying one gift certificate for one friend is always a possibility. But, for a limited time during this holiday season, buy in bulk and save some money!

Buy four gift certificates and receive the fifth gift certificate for FREE!
(you can even use that fifth one for yourself– I won’t tell!) 

Or go even further, buy eight certificates and receive three gift certificates for FREE!

This offer is only valid during the holiday season though, so snatch it up quick! Start buying those gift certificates, then contact me at lilly@lillystable.com and I will hook you up with all of the bonus gift certificates. (If you are buying a ton, let me know as I will sweeten the deal further!) 

Whether you buy your dear friends a gift certificate to Lilly’s Table, a pretty trinket, cup of coffee on your next cafe date, pole dancing lessons, flowers or something as unique as they are to you, I wish each of you a bright + heartfelt holiday season with lots of deliciousness and love flowing your way!
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Cook seasonally. Eat consciously. Live well,

Chef Lilly

Thanksgiving for Strangers

photo (16)One of the two strangers invited to our tiny Thanksgiving over 11 years ago, was a student at the yoga studio where my sister taught and I took classes almost daily. My sister overheard he was having surgery the day prior and she asked if he had Thursday plans.

Honestly, I was a touch annoyed that my sister so boldly invited him to our no-responsibilities, no-expectations Thanksgiving. Although, I didn’t turn the idea down either– I mean he was cute and I was single, so what was my issue, right!? But, it did put a little fruit fly in my excitement as I now had to carefully consider my attire on top of the recipes I was crafting and preparing.

The stranger could barely walk post-surgery, so my sister escorted him into the kitchen and propped him on a stool. We chatted casually. In my nervousness of having this handsome guy watch me cook, I kept cracking awkward jokes until he begged me to stop as laughing made him cringe in pain from the surgery. We talked about the ‘horror’ of food packaging waste on veggies, the fact that he was much, much older than me (in fact, he is only two and half years ahead) and his own interest in cooking. Apparently, he had been a chef, including starting a restaurant, before going back to school to get his doctorate in Physics.

I was intimidated, but admittedly more + more smitten.

The dinner was great, despite my apprehensions. We talked about what we were grateful for. I remember being thankful my Personal Chef business was finally happening after years of dreaming + scheming and that there were clients eating my food that very evening. But, I will never forget when he stood to get seconds, hobbling his way to the buffet determined to do it himself, chattering on about how it was one of the best Thanksgiving’s he had ever had.

He was smitten… at the very least by my food.

The next time I saw him, a week or so later, I was in a full tutu with a crown wrapped around a bun on my head as I lead my ballet students in a mini performance of the Nutcracker. Somehow that didn’t deter him. Our story has continued including many adventures, several change of addresses, countless more scrumptious shared meals, and now a couple of cute children we are figuring out how to raise.

Ever since that fateful day, we have an unspoken tradition of inviting someone we barely know, who is not in our immediate circle, for our Thanksgiving. I like to think it is in honor of that day when I first cooked for my sweet husband Xerxes, and that other stranger, Fig.

We don’t always have a guest that fits the ‘stranger’ requirement and on occasion my husband and I have been the strangers at someone else’s Thanksgiving. But, what that beautiful day years ago reminds me of is to not resist the life changing possibilities of opening your doors to someone or something new. That day, I was annoyed with my sister’s willingness to reach out to strangers with ease + grace, but I took away more than a future husband as I know now that outstretched arms can change any story.

We live in a world of uncertainty. Sigh. Lately, that statement seems to be understatement. Recently, Xerxes and I have shared sadness over our own family challenges as well as genuine heartache about events on the world stage that have left people without loved ones, without a home, without a country.

Too often… we feel helpless.

We are all striving, trying and forging our own journey. How can we honor our fellow humankind, even when we are thousands of miles away and seemingly useless? How, beyond dollars sent, can we be of service to our fellow humans who are suffering, displaced and challenged in ways we hope to never experience? How can we also honor our smaller more personal conflicts beyond wiping our own tears and attempting to learn from the lessons?

I wonder what would happen if all of us, me, you and everyone in between, reached out to more strangers? Would our worst fears come true? Or… would opening ourselves up to others actually lead to blessings… new paths, new stories?

The tragedy in Paris led to the twitter hashtag #porteouverte. This open door call came on a night when being afraid and closed off would be more than justified. That brave act of love, that was reposted over and over, hit me deeper than any other story from that evening as love was clearly winning. The new possibilities can only start with each of us courageously reaching out. When we are the ones who open our doors or if we are brave enough to be the ones who accept an invitation to be helped, we will inevitably receive a flood of love.

I know you have a story to share below when you connected with a stranger and goodness came forth. Maybe it was that homeless guy who you gave a couple of bucks in loose change and his giant smile filled your heart with blessings. Maybe it was the frazzled mom who you gave an understanding smile as she rushed her kids into school late with a baby screaming on her hip. And maybe now, you two go for a walk around the lake on a weekly basis as you talk about the craziness and bliss of raising children.

Our stories unite us and as we practice this muscle of giving a little love to a stranger, I believe we can change our world. The simplest days will be brighter, but also days such as Thanksgiving will turn into more than a holiday or an excuse to eat too much as we toast new people who come into our lives bearing the blessings of their own heart.

Join me. Let’s be grateful for the stranger everyday, but especially this Thanksgiving.

With love + gratitude,

Lilly

PS- This cherished photo above was taken the day our story began Thanksgiving in 2004. Xerxes and I are the ones looking towards the camera… and maybe into the window of our coming future yet unknown to those two innocent faces.

Harvest Lentil Salad

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Recently, I was invited to do a cooking demo and cook for a local Food Bank to celebrate the harvest + World Food Day. It brought back so many memories of when I was the coordinator of Tucson Food Day just a few short years ago.

This event was a beautiful celebration! First, I cooked all day with lovely friends and volunteers, my children were nearby most of the day content + happy (yes, I was stunned, too), and then I did a cooking demo that was light-hearted + well received. But, my favorite part happened a few weeks earlier when I walked into the Food Bank and they showed me all of the foods available to their clients that they were eager for me to cook with and share.

Barely wilting cabbage, banged up winter squash, onions and carrots– the recipe ideas were pouring out of me onto my handy clipboard. But, then they opened a large bag with teeny-tiny black seeds and asked me “What in the world are these?”

“Beautiful beluga lentils” I seriously had to exclaim!

These lentils are unique and they get their name because they look just like beluga caviar. What a treasure to find in the Food Bank! I took some home to test out a new recipe using the other produce and goods available to the Food Bank clients.

The result was this simple salad. Consider this a base recipe. A recipe that would happily enjoy a bit of sparkling up with bits of dried fruit such as minced apricots or cranberries or even the jewels of pomegranates. The crunch of various nuts or seeds, such as toasted almonds, crumbled pecans or last week’s Candied Chipotle Pepitas would settle in nicely with these lentils. Roasted veggies, roots, or shreds of leaves could be folded in as well. A crumble of feta or shavings of parmesan would also do well in this dish. It calls for water, but cooking the beans in broth adds yet another layer of flavor.

This can be a simple weeknight meal or a side dish to an elaborate holiday dish. Let me know how you glam up these simple belugas.

Harvest Lentil Salad
Beluga Lentils can be found in specialty shops, gourmet groceries, co-ops or health food stores. Another lentil such as French, Green, or Brown lentils can work instead. The only lentil I would avoid are the thinner lentils, such as the red, which are better for soups than salads. 

1 onion, finely chopped
1 cup carrots, sweet potatoes or winter squash, peeled and finely chopped
1 cup beluga lentils, or french or green
3 cups water, or unsalted broth
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 apple, cored and finely chopped
1/4 cup sage, washed and finely chopped, or thyme or parsley

Place the onions, lentils, and chopped carrots (or squash/sweet potatoes) in a pot covered with the water and a lid. Bring up to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for about 40-50 minutes until tender to the bite. Once the lentils are nearly done, add half of the salt. If there is extra water, increase the heat to boil it off quickly or strain off the liquid using a wire mesh strainer.

In a large separate bowl, whisk together the vinegar and honey. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while whisking rapidly. Add the remaining salt. Fold the cooked lentils into the dressing and then add the apples and fresh herbs. Serve warm or cool and serve chilled.

Candied Chipotle Pepitas

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Roasted pumpkin seeds are certainly a tradition in our home and I hope they are in yours as well. We often keep them simple, since just carving the pumpkin seems a bit of an ordeal with a couple of tiny people wanting to get in on the knife action! But you know me, after that first plain batch, my creativity gets a bit antsy and those innocent little seeds take on some new pizzaz.

Really any spice will do… Pumpkin Pie Spice? Mole? Curry? And I recently saw this variation that uses black tea— yum!

But, this version adds a bit of sweet with smoky spice and it is oh so nice.

Chipotle has become very popular in the last 10+ years or so and it is an easy go to for spicy heat. Although, if you are serving some non-spicy eaters (ahem- looking at my own tiny cutie-pies!) then substitute Smoked Paprika for the chipotle.

There are a couple of ways I use chipotle, the first is to buy a can of peppers as they marinate in their own adobe spices. Pull them out, blend them up and you have this easy sauce to boost any old dish. The other way is to use a simple powder of chipotle.

Honestly, that choice is more of a matter or convenience or availability. Other than blending the chipotles into a sauce, they are equal in their ease of preparation when it comes to glamming up these seeds.

Another thing, you can start with the raw pepita pumpkin seeds which are shelled, usually a bit green and easier to chew. More likely, since it ’tis Halloween week, you are in the process of removing the seeds from the pumpkins and the shells are wrapped all sung in a shell. Smaller pumpkins will deliver fairly tender, chewable shells that you do not need to worry about ‘shelling’. But, the larger pumpkin’s seeds shells might be a bit chewier than you desire. Plan to chew on these after removing the seeds from the shells, similar to cracking salty sunflower seeds.

How do you love up your pumpkin seeds this time of year? Spicy? Sweet? Both? If you are a member of Lilly’s Table, grab the recipe here!

roastedpumpkinseedsCandied Chipotle Pumpkin Seeds

1 cup pumpkin seeds
1 teaspoon chipotle pepper, powder or paste
2 tablespoons melted coconut oil, or melted butter, ghee or olive oil
3 tablespoons sugar, more or less as desired
1 teaspoon salt, more or less to taste

Preheat the oven to 400.

If using chipotle paste blend it with the oil. If using the powder, add it with the sugar and salt.

Toss the oil onto the seeds until they are evenly coated. Sprinkle on the sugar, chipotle powder and salt. Taste. Add more spice, sugar or salt as desired. Although, know that the flavors will develop as they cook and you can always adjust the seasonings after they have cooked for a few minutes.

Spread on a baking sheet and toast for 8-12 minutes until you hear popping sounds. This means the seeds are toasty and ready for flipping. Toss the seeds, shake the pan to make sure they are not overlapping and return to the oven if needed to toast up a bit more. This is also a great moment to taste and adjust any of the seasonings as desired. They are done when there are more gold seeds than white and the sugar has caramelized on the seeds.

Happy Halloween!!!

Cook seasonally. Eat consciously. Live well,

Chef Lilly

Cheddar Squash Bake

squashcheddarbakeYou have cut them in half, chunked them into pieces and roasted winter squash before, but…
Have you tried shredding it?

Now is the time!

Out of all the squash possibilities, butternut is a great place to start shredding as the skin peels easily with a veggie peeler, the seeds scrap out without issue and then a big hunk can be shredded on a box grater.

However, if you are lazy like me, big peeled chunks can be placed in a food processor with the grater attachment and in a few minutes you will have a mass of bright orange shreds and… as a bonus you are less likely to scrape up your fingers as I manage to do on box graters!

Once you have these shreds, you can fold them with leftover quinoa and a few otherbutternutquinoapatties ingredients to make these beautiful Butternut Quinoa Patties as are featured in this week’s meal plan.

But, even easier is to toss the mass with olive oil, salt and bake it in the oven until it starts melting into itself. While the heat takes care of it, shred up a bunch of sharp cheddar.

Toss and press it together. More oven time.

Then dip into this gooey side dish which can become the main dish alongside your favorite fall salad.

Did I mention there are only FOUR ingredients… one of which is just salt! Roll up those sleeves and grab a grater!

Cheddar Squash Bake

One pound of squash with about two ounces of cheddar makes a decent serving, so adjust the recipe according to the number of people and squash you have available. Also, Lilly’s Table offers a handy-dandy way to adjust servings in this recipe as well. Give yourself about an hour to let the squash properly melt with the cheese in the oven. 

3 pounds butternut squash
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
6 ounces cheddar

Preheat the oven to 400.

Cut the squash into four chunks: first through the middle just above the round, seed-filled part. Next, cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and discard. Peel the skin away with a vegetable peeler or paring knife. Shred the chunks with a box grater or cut smaller and shred in a food processor.

Toss the shreds with the olive oil and salt. Pile high in a baking dish. As the squash bakes it shrinks down significantly so a smaller dish works best. A larger dish will give you a very thin finished product. If you are concerned it will overflow in the oven, place a baking sheet underneath. Bake for about 20 minutes. Toss and bake for another 15 minutes until the squash is starting to fall apart.

Meanwhile, shred the cheddar. Toss half of the shredded cheddar with the squash as soon as there is room in the dish. Press down, sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and bake 10-20 more minutes until the top is golden and the center is tender when you spoon into it.

Back-to-School, Back-to-Love

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Morning routine drawn, happy pictures taken and my bright, beautiful 5-year old headed off for her first day of Kindergarten. As my husband said on repeat as we drove him to work immediately following “That was big. Whatever just happened was really big”. And he is right in bigger ways than either of us could have expressed on that short drive.

You have a baby and in those moments when you are at a loss, when they are inconsolable and you are beyond sleep deprived in some other orbit from the rest of the world, you find yourself longing for the first day of school when someone, anyone other than you, will be in their attendance for 8 hours at a time.

In many ways, I knew she wouldn’t cry or fuss on the first day. She was too darn excited. Four days earlier she actually had a meltdown because school had not started yet. Other than a ‘shy moment’ when we introduced ourselves to the school principal, she slid onto that blue kindergarten carpet without issue. Just a few feet away I was using all my effort to hold back the water in my eyes and kept wishing to drop my sunglasses on my face so as to not distract her with my own flooding emotions.

A lot has happened since she graduated from preschool a few months ago and the result has left her relatively unaware while I am still in recovery. It started when she had a seizure in May that lead to an ER visit. “Febrile seizures” they said, followed by: “Chances are she may never have another. Just make sure to reduce her fever when she is sick.”

We went home and life continued almost entirely unaltered other than a story to tell about the horror of watching your child go from simply sick to seizing followed by a hysterical ambulance ride and how touched we were by the supportive community that rose up to help us. We told the story from a place of relief– chances are she may never have one again. That phrase helped me sleep at night with her blissfully in the other room.

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But, that phrase was not for our family. Within a few weeks, she had another seizure. This time it was without a fever although that arrived a few hours later. Basically, instead of a fever indicating she may get a seizure, the seizure was the warning of a nasty bug that lasted over a week. Then she had another seizure in the middle of the night a few hours after we returned from the ER. That was how our summer began.

I was undone. Suddenly, my semi-lax parenting style that I felt allowed her plenty of space to grow and my lack of concern when she got sick hey- it helps build her immune system, right!? were tossed out the window. I felt hyper-aware of everything, completely on top of her and uncomfortable with myself much less our relationship.

The following weeks of summer followed suit as I spent more time with my children, yet in a state of anxiety and fear. Attempting to do whatever next thing I could think of to keep her from another seizure or to distract myself from the awful feeling inside. While she didn’t have another one during the summer, it was hardly because of my worry and stress.

Then we went on a trip. A big one for us. Two and a half weeks that involved flying across the country to drive up and down the East Coast. In the first eight days, we drove for six. Typically about 2-3 hours per day that we attempted to overlap with our toddler’s nap, but we started learning the hard lesson that small children aren’t nearly as motivated to sit blissfully looking out at scenery listening to self-help books on tape as we were. Our love of road-tripping that shaped our 20’s and early 30’s was vanishing fast.

Did I mention, throughout it I was an emotional mess? Everything felt big and wrong and icky. Tantrums from either child felt larger than I could bear. And every transition from car to house to car to hotel was more dramatic than it needed to be. I attempted to relax on the days that were ‘relaxing’ but threats to my children seemed all around. Watching my daughter in the pool, with her new love of putting her head underwater had me sitting on standby with eyes locked on her every twitch, ready to rescue her. I had never felt this way and suddenly my empathy for the helicopter parenting style soared. I was torturing myself.

At the end of our time in the Poconos, we planned one more trip around the lake on Great Grandpop’s Golf Cart that my children were obsessed with. My daughter ran into the cabin where I had been packing and said “Mama- we want YOU to drive the Golf Cart”. Half teasing, I said “Oh, I have never driven a Golf Cart before. Should I be nervous?”

Her wide eyes looked up at me and with a slight giggle she said:

“Mama, YOU can feel anyway you want.”

photo 2 (1)At that moment, I was no longer looking at my child, but rather an angel with a specific message. YOU CAN FEEL ANYWAY YOU WANT. I knew I wasn’t nervous about driving a Golf Cart, I was nervous something would happen to this sweet girl in front of me who was walking around with a piece of my heart inside of hers. Her words shot through my entire being and I suddenly felt willing to heal from our summer. Willing to feel something other than fear. I craved feeling the joy she clearly held and I finally let her love infect me.

That was the first step, opening up to feeling differently, feeling better. Then a couple of days later my husband and I had one of those ‘serious’ should we invest a chunk of change in my business or not conversations and somewhere in there it came out that I was blaming myself for our daughter’s seizures. That I couldn’t control them. That I failed to keep her safe.

As the words poured out, I didn’t realize the truth they had held deep within me. My husband grabbed me and said “It was not your fault.” over and over until I was a puddled of tears letting all the self-blame come spilling over.

The logical side of me knew that I didn’t cause her to be sick, much less cause her to seize. In the moment of each seizure I had risen to the occasion in the best way I could, pulled together and present for her shaking yet stiff body as I frantically whispered to her I am with you and please come back to me. Eventually, her body would crumble into my arms both of us defeated. Meanwhile, that ego-based creature deep within gnawing at my soul that wants to control everything, told me something false: I had failed my child. With my husband’s words, I felt the next step. I was starting to let go. It was not my fault. 

playing + building sandcastles

Playing + building sandcastles

Soon after our ‘big trip’ finally became a vacation as we found ourselves with toes deep in the sand, the sun drenching us as we played in the ocean or pool together. We experienced a place we never knew existed with inviting warm water, blindingly white beaches and the perfect balance of breeze. The rawness was slowly washing away and I found myself a layer deeper, somehow exfoliated by emotions that had spent the summer overwhelming me.

Returning home to the back-to-school countdown, I finally felt refreshed and ready to deal with whatever the new year has in store.

Will my daughter have a seizure again? Maybe. Maybe not.

Will she be in a school that will take care of her and will do their best for her if she has a seizure? Yes.

Will she get sick? Probably.

Will I blame myself? I hope not, because that will mean I once again am trying to control the uncontrollable.

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Letting the sun warm my sweet toddler and I as we sailed around.

Dropping my daughter at school that first day was very different than I anticipated just a few months ago. Our summer brought lessons of letting go, releasing self-blame and allowing love to win. I hope to remember these lessons throughout the next 13 years of her education, because as my sweet angel told me I can feel anyway I want.    

With Love,

Lilly

Summer Foods that Hydrate

summer hydration fruit and vegetables cherries
Please welcome guest blogger Stefanie Davis for another post on healthy summer eating! 

Summer is here with lots of fun in the sun to be had! Drinking plenty of water is essential to maintain health in this hot season. Water is essential as our primary source of hydration, but food can also be an enjoyable and delicious way to staying cool!  Fresh seasonal fruits and vegetable are available in abundance just waiting to be enjoyed and savored! (The health benefits of eating seasonally can be reviewed here.  Increasing your produce intake improves your body’s hydration and offers natural sugars and electrolytes that replenish your body with what it needs during times of heat and perspiration.

Here are 10 of some of the best foods to help beat the heat of Summer!
(Follow the link for RECIPES)
1. Cucumbers
2. Celery
3. Tomatoes
4. Cauliflower
5. Watermelon
6. Spinach
7. Strawberries
8. Carrots
9. Cherries
10. Radishes

Now go have more Summer fun with yummy hydrating recipes in tow! XO

SAsignature

stef

Hi there, I’m Stefanie from Simple Acres blog. I am a wife to a hard workin’ man, mommy to 3 “littles”, 10 year Registered Dietitian, writer, artist and hopeful inspirer! My passion is to bring the journey of simplicity to others through focusing on the things that really matter….the ones you love, the dreams you BELIEVE, and living in the moment with true JOY! As a RD I believe in  body love and acceptance, intuitive eating and savoring and nourishing the body with wholesome foods! I’m excited to be able to grace the pages of Lilly’s Table and look forward to joining you more as your new personal Dietitian! Please come visit me at Simple Acres and come to know me more personally on my facebook fan page, instagram and twitter! Dovidenia. XO

Declare Your Food Independence

foodwillwinthewar

Are you a patriot of the food revolution or a
loyalist to the Standard American Diet? 

Food Loyalist [food loiuh-list]
noun
1. a person who is loyala supporter of the sovereign or of the existing food system especially during this time of revolt.

Food Patriot [food pey-tree-uh t] 
noun
1.  a person who loves, supports, and defends his or her local food system and its delicious, sustainable interests with devotion.

As a nation, we have passively given our own diet to a very large system that no longer has our land, our families, our ideology, or even our health at heart.

Our craving to eat ‘right’ is often cleverly disguised by marketing that flashes claims of heart-healthy, fat-free, free-range, sugar-free, gluten-free or natural with very little nourishment or sustenance. This Standard American Diet (SAD) has been on the menu for decades and WE the people are the ones suffering with the growing list of diet related diseases, syndromes and deaths.

For years, I have felt the paradox of a holiday that celebrates our collective ability to stand up for what we believe in, meanwhile the ‘American’ food that shapes nearly every backyard party is some of the most suppressive, industrially processed food that we could possibly consume.

Hot dogs. Burgers. Buns. Sugar-laden ketchup. Trans-fat mayonnaise. And plastic tasting vegetables dipped in white mystery sauces.

Why do we celebrate our freedom with this type of ‘cuisine’? 

We are not to a point where the Standard American Diet is comprised of real food that nourishes us, that offers fair work to those who produce it, and that is grown within our own local economies. The SAD is not a sustainable food system that will protect us and our children into the future.

Passively consuming the SAD lifestyle should no longer feel like an option for you. It is time to rise up and be a Food Patriot, not a Loyalist. Vote with your food dollars. For every quarter you spend on local + real food, instead of corporate food products, you are sending a clear message that you are ready to embrace your own food freedom.

warusa025

I invite you to rebel against the S.A.D. I invite you to
celebrate food with truth! 

As we prepare to watch fireworks and celebrate the bravery of the Declaration of Independence, why not take a break from corporate food for one holiday?

Why not take a courageous stance against a food system that could care less if you lived, died or suffered from what you consume?

Take the 4th of July and claim your right to food that is made on our own land, more precisely on the land as close to you as possible.

Here are my four favorite dishes that are a perfect way to revolt against the food status quo

Grilled Sweet Potato Fries + Yogurt Ranch Dip
Grilled Potato Salad
Watermelon Salad
Pulled Pork Sliders

war-gardens-for-victory

In addition, here are FOUR ways to celebrate the 4th without the S.A.D. weighing you down: 

  • Shop at a Farmers Market this week! Gather whatever veggie goodness is available and toss it into a beautiful salad, skewer it on to kebabs or grill them whole to stack on to buns.
  • Want meat? Find a local butcher or rancher and see if they sell hot dogs, sausages, burgers or even big slabs of pork (perfect for the Pork Sliders mentioned above!)
  • Find a local bakery! Yes, the bill will most likely cost more than the $2 or less bags than the addictive white flour buns, but I have a feeling you will be in for a treat, especially if you find a new bakery to love in the future.
  • Dessert can be as simple as these Red, White + Blue Berry Necklaces (see photo below) or popsicles made from a puree of whatever local fruit you can find and pour it into the molds.
photo 2

Needle + thread bring together strawberries, cherries, blueberries + blackberries for a playful 4th of July dessert!

 

Simplify and defy the food of the 4th of July!

What is on your menu that will blow up the typical ‘American’ party food?

Cook seasonally. Eat consciously. Celebrate food,

Chef Lilly