L’Shana Tova!

Happy Rosh Hashanah/Jewish New Year!

family

Yesterday evening was the beginning of Rosh Hashanah and today we celebrated with a big fancy pants lunch with friends and family. We have one friend of the family who keeps everyone in line when it comes to Jewish holidays. He organizes the dinners, serves the most beautiful meals, invites everyone and says at least one prayer in Hebrew. I may not be Jewish, but I do love holidays and learning about all religions so I make sure Husband and I never miss a party.

table

Luna is part Jewish so I think it’s important she learnt about her heritage and Jewish ancestors. I try to learn a bit more about the religion and the celebrations every year not only for my interest, but for her benefit. I guess I should start searching for some Rosh Hashanah children’s books.

momdaughter

Today’s New Year celebration started with wine, cheese, smoked salmon and pate. Everyone caught up with one another and took turns complaining about long services at the synagogue. Lunch was pretty traditional…apples, honey, challah, matzo ball soup, potatoes, brisket and lots of sweets. This year, I am not pregnant and therefore able to drink the wine (yay!), or so I thought. I may not be pregnant, but turns out that taking care of an 8 month old also keeps you from enjoying a glass of wine. I was able to enjoy my dessert with coffee though, and they may have been even better.

eyes

This whole week has been one weird week of birthday celebrations, fancy dinners, surgery, Jewish New Year and other random occasions. It feels a little like Christmas break, which is nice, but I’ll be ready to get back to routine next week. I’d love to share some funny anecdotes from today or reflect on the past year, but Luna is sleeping soundly, Husband is snoring next to me, Belle is snuggled in between the two of us and the cat is curled up into a sleepy fur ball. It’s time for me to join them, which sounds a lot like the end of last year’s post.

Luna's dress is from the Etsy shop, Aylinka. I'll be writing a review for you soon!
Luna’s dress is from the Etsy shop, Aylinka. I’ll be writing a review for you soon!

Cheers and L’Shana tova!

Nashville’s Very Own Food and Wine Festival

The past weeks has been a rough “Mom” week, not rough in the sense that anyone was sick or hurt in anyways, more like rough in the sense that I haven’t slept more than 3 straight hours, washed my hair in 4 days, ate a decent meal, my phone broke and so on… (More on the desperate need for a breather later) Today (Today = Sunday…I’ve tried writing this review for 3 days now and have fallen asleep at the keyboard every time), I got to drink alcohol, and it was the first time I’ve gotten to drink in a very VERY long time. Allow me to introduce you to the Music City Food and Wine Festival.

oodandwine

During a 6-mile walk with Luna and my good friend, Bella, today (i.e. Sunday) I got notified of an invite to review the 2nd day of the 2nd annual wine and food festival. My first thought was “Hell yeah! Mommy needs a glass of wine!”, but we were in the middle of a walking trail and currently lost, so fast forward a couple of hours, an outfit change and a baby feeding lady, and Husband and I are running through downtown with a stroller and getting “hangrier” by the second. At the box office, we were told “You know you have to be 21 and up to get in right?” To this, I literally shouted “Yes!” as I fist pumped toward the sky. Literally. It’s been a long time since I’ve been ID’d. The young woman then looked at Luna and explained that EVERYONE has to be 21 and up.

Woops.

We very quickly decided to take turns watching Luna and enjoying the festival. I took the first drinking/eating shift and let him sit with the sleeping baby. It worked out fine, but rushing from booth to booth, scarfing bites and downing booze while worrying if Luna was freaking out (did I mention she broke my phone?) wasn’t exactly the relaxing evening of wine tasting that I envisioned. Eh, c’est la vie.

grand taste

 

hot chicken

The actual festival was pretty cool. It is a festival full of demo’s and panels from many famous chefs (Hello, Michael Symon and Trisha Yearwood). Then there’s food from over 25 of Nashville’s top restaurants and drinks from over 40 wine, beer and spirits exhibitors. I’d love to tell you I tried it all, loved it and partied the evening away, but that would be a big fat lie. I tried the veggies/fish stuff (which was REALLY delicious) and 5 drinks. I’m pretty certain I was drunk after the first. It’s been so long since I’ve been able to drink. Husband tried literally everything. He was a lot fuller and uhhh…sillier, than I was. We both agree that it was a cool experience, but would have been much cooler together.

michael food

 

My favorite bites of the day were the roasted beet tartare with pickled apples, french toast with pears and crab mac and cheese. The number one drink was the definitely the pineapple moonshine with cayenne pepper and some other stuff that I can no longer remember. The festival was a beautiful combination of southern food and fancy flair. There was braised pork, pickled onion and hot sauce, cornbread with pickled cherries and Hungarian honey and sunburst trout with orange fennel. It was Memphis meets Manhattan, and Jack Daniels meets Pinot Noir. It was lovely.

beets braised pork mac and cheese trout

There were lots of cool reasons to go to this festival. Lots of delicious and unique food, dozens of alcoholic beverages, various famous chefs and lessons on how to cook, prepare and serve these amazing dishes. You could spend all day eating, drinking, and hanging out in the park while simultaneously hobnobbing with Tennessee’s top culinary talent. Oh and Uber offered free rides to anyone who needed a safe and sober ride home, very cool.

ice coffee

Yes, it was pretty cool, BUT not exactly worth the $15o/day tickets. Even Husband, who ate and drank everything, doesn’t think he digested $150 worth. If you LOVE food, wine tasting, and the art of cooking, like really LOVE these things and spend ALL day soaking in the festival than you will get your money’s worth. If it’s not your dream day than you make walk away feeling cheated. Either way, you’ll walk away tipsy.

plate

Cheers!

Fat Free

As a teenager and young adult I was pretty typical in the sense that I thought I was fat and tried a million different unhealthy strategies to stay skinny. I exercised non-stop, tried a million yo-yo diets, stopped eating altogether at one point and of course, survived on a myriad of “fat-free”, “low-fat” and “sugar-free” products. From what I remember, many teens at that time dieted on these supposedly healthy options. If we only knew what we know now we could have saved ourselves a lot of health problems, money and wasted time.

sugar

In high school, I remember my physics teacher getting really upset about someone eating a fat-free yogurt. She said something to the extent of “None of you should be eating these fat-free foods! They’re terrible for you!” I remember thinking she must be concerned with eating disorders or something. I don’t know why she didn’t take the time to explain herself. In college, I became more and more involved with my health and began actually researching ways to remain thin and healthy. I was shocked when I discovered that things like fake-sugar can not only cause terrible diseases like cancer, but that they have proven to have no effect on weight loss!

I was shocked and appalled that all these food companies had been lying to me for so many years. This just inspired me to dig deeper and learn a lot more about what I’m putting into my body. Thanks to the Internet and the ability to gather and share critical information so easily, I have learned much more about the various disgusting things that most of us eat: fake sugar, fake food colors, preservatives and a ridiculous amount of chemicals. These chemicals are wreaking havoc to our bodies, but it’s so hard, like really hard, to cut them out.

aspartame

I’m a mostly healthy eater, but even I have to admit that I love some pretty crappy foods… hot fries, reese’s cups, taco bell, fast food fries and sour gummy worms are all some of my favorite treats. Over the last year, especially since having Luna, I have put in an extra effort to cut out processed fake foods, but damn, it’s hard! Honestly, cutting out fake sugar has been mostly easy. I’d much rather a real sugar product over a fake sugar, or diet, one. The only problem is, fake sugar sneaks into so much stuff.

shit

I learned the hard way that basically anything that claims to be “sugar-free”, “lite”, “diet”, “fat-free”, “low-fat”, “less sugar” or “zero calories” actually means “full of fake sugar and chemicals to make the product taste better”. I hate that I have to read virtually every food label now, but it’s often the only way to be sure that I’m eating real food and not a bunch of chemically engineered crap. What’s worse is that many food companies do not even have to put all of their ingredients on their labels. They are actually allowed to sneak that shit into their products and not tell us.vodka

Anyways, I’ll step off my soap box for a minute to get to my point. As of lately, I am eating way less processed and frozen foods. I haven’t managed to cut them completely out because come on? Who seriously has the time and money to always eat fresh food? Not me. Since eating more fresh, real, organic food and drinking tons more water I am feeling unbelievably better! I look better, my skin is clearer, my hair is healthier and I am rarely bloated.

marketing

I don’t deprive myself of stuff I crave either. Instead, if cutting carbs, snacks and desserts out of my diet completely, I just find healthier versions. I still eat carbs and chocolate and other things I crave (moderately, of course) and I am not gaining weight….at all. However, weight is not a priority anymore either. I want to be fit and healthy and I want to create healthy habits for my daughter. I think I’m on the right track and I hope to stay on this path for the rest of my very long life!

Cheers!

Strawberry Pickin’

strawberry

Every once in a while I complain about my decision to move from the city to the county (giant bugs, no food deliveries, no Central Park or shopping on 5th), but the truth is, there’s a lot more I love about living in Tennessee than not. We are always finding something new and adventurous to do in the most beautiful places. Recently, we went strawberry picking with some friends and family. It wasn’t exactly adventurous, but it was fun and delicious.

field parker

 

The farmer told us to eat as many as we wanted while we picked. They apparently have so many strawberries that many go to waste. We ate and ate and ate and ate and ate and ate…and picked a little too. At one point, our small friend Parker was telling us how fun it was to pick berries. When we asked how many were in his bucket, he looked down with his berry stained-face and proudly said, “one”.

picking blue eyes

We picked enough strawberries for everyone to take home tons. We froze a bunch, ate a bunch and then I used the rest to make homemade strawberry jam. That’s right, you read that sentence correctly. I, the person who only cooked frozen pizzas a year ago made my very own homemade jam, and it is possibly the most delicious thing ever. I will most likely make myself sick on it before the week is up.

me berries

Wonder what will do next?

Cheers!

Be Our Guest

I’ve been a little behind on the blogging this weekend and am likely to fall behind this week…We have guests, guests and more guests. Big surprise, right? We have more people stay with us than anyone I know. I’m pretty sure my neighbors think we are running a brothel. It’s also been suggested to us that we open a hostel. Not a bad idea, actually. We also had friends staying with us all of last weekend. It’s just been so busy, that I haven’t had more time to blog about it.

My friend Sara came into town. She’s been mentioned on the blog a number of times. We met her while working in Albania, she came to stay with us in NYC and has now been to Nashville a handful of times (although her boyfriend may have a lot to do with that). We love our Sara and could not wait for her to meet Luna.

meeting tia

Our weekend was a little less adventurous than it normally is when Sara comes to town, but we had a really nice time going on walks in this finally beautiful spring weather.

saraandsteve shrooms

look at those adorable baby feet!
look at those adorable baby feet!
big tree
woah, big tree

bridge blossom

We ate tons of great food, bought lemonade from the cutest little lemonade stand ever (buy 4 get one free!), got ice cream from Jeni’s (heck yeah!) and some more walking through parks. lemonade jeni's dandelion yellowleaves

 

We love having our friends come to stay. Good thing too because we will have people with us until next week. Hope we get to catch up soon…I’ve got more reviews, giveaways, anxiety attacks and adventures coming your way!

meandluna

 

Cheers!

Hoppy Easter!

happy easter

We celebrated Easter today by having some family and friends over for brunch. My friends Sara is in town from Nebraska, staying with us and helped me cook and get everything ready for our guests. It was a potluck brunch with a crepe bar, a crazy amount of toppings, salmon, monkey bread, fruit salad, bagels, cookies, coffee and mimosas. It was sooooooo good, like so good I don’t even regret the extra 8,000 calories I consumed.

probably should have uncovered the foil-covered crepes for the photo...
probably should have uncovered the foil-covered crepes for the photo…

guests

 
image

I really enjoy having people over and hosting parties. It’s the same feeling I got when planning a new theme  in my classroom. I get to plan out the menu, decorate, coordinate everything, send out invites and basically have everything under my control. (mwahahaha)

table

this idea from Pinterest was so easy and cute
this idea from Pinterest was so easy and cute

After the brunch half of us drove to one of the local parks for a 3 mile walk. Our weather has been unbelievable this weekend! It finally feels like spring and I am loving it! It was so sunny we actually had to use sunscreen. Okay, I didn’t actually use sunscreen, but other people did… same thing.

granny white dandelions

this dog LOVES chasing sticks...all sizes
this dog LOVES chasing sticks…all sizes

Then, because we are badasses we all worked out together. Of course, we mostly did this because our friend Bella is a machine, workouts more than anyone I know and looks like a superhero, so when she asks us to workout with her we always say yes. You don’t tell superhero’s no.

workout

Easter day ended with another phenomenal home cooked meal by Sara, a Disney movie, some hair-chalking (more on that soon!) and tummy time with my favorite girl!

So strong! I cannot get enough time with this precious baby.
So strong! I cannot get enough time with this precious baby.

Such a good day.

Cheers!

 

 

On the Boardwalk

kemah

While in Texas we decided to hit up Kemah and enjoy lunch on the Boardwalk. Kemah is a small town on Galveston Bay and is just a little south of Houston. There are lots of small towns in Texas, but they don’t all have the party on the water atmosphere Kemah has. The most exciting part of Kemah is definitely the Boardwalk. The Boardwalk has many popular restaurants, theme park style rides, food and drink carts, games, water activities and lots of little shops.

carasoul

We ate seafood from the Flying Dutchmen with a nice view of the bay.

Aren't they cute?
Aren’t they cute?

Afterwards we (well me mostly) had to have some Starbucks.

Luna and PawPaw enjoying some bonding time over coffee.
Luna and PawPaw enjoying some bonding time over coffee.

It was sunny and 80 degrees in Kemah that day so we spent the afternoon walking up and down the boardwalk, feeding fish, watching birds, window shopping and enjoying the warm weather that I miss soooo much. It was actually sunny enough that my shoulders got red…can’t even remember the last time I felt weather like this.

catfish boardwalk bird

It was a nice relaxing day with just the family. We don’t get many days like this, which just makes these moments even more special. I just can’t wait until Luna is old enough to get on the roller coasters with me. Scratch that…I can wait. She’s already growing way too fast!

looks like trouble...
looks like trouble…
the family
the family

Cheers!