Thursday, January 22!


The biggest food Sunday of the year in the US is coming up in about 10 days, and though I’m not usually a proponent of eating this way, it’s fun every now and then to just eat crunchy chips oozing with cheese. So this week’s Tasty Thursday is NACHOS!!!

The thing is, this food thing for me is a lifestyle. It’s not a diet, filled with “ooh don’t eat that” or “eat every bite of kale in the world every day.” It’s not a limited-time engagement, where I deprive myself of favorite foods for a while then go gorge on them. It’s a way of LIVING, and for me, sometimes, that living includes this kind of “indulgence.”

Will I eat the whole pan? No. Will I enjoy every bite? Yes.

Here’s the other thing – I know what’s in my nachos. I make them with plain tortilla chips (no Doritos, thanks) and Vermont cheddar cheese (no CheezWhiz “processed cheese food”) and other toppings that I make.

And my family loves them. And they’re easy. And delicious.

Go football team. Whichever one you’re rooting for.


  • Chips
  • Cheese (I do a combination of cheddar and Monterey jack)
  • Other toppings as you want/see fit/have on hand (taco meat, olives, beans, refried beans)
  • Sour cream and salsa and jalapenos


  • In a large baking pan, spread out the tortilla chips. Sprinkle with grated cheese. Top with other toppings but NOT the sour cream, salsa, or peppers!
  • Bake at 350 for 15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and beginning to brown.
  • Remove from oven and dot sour cream, salsa, and any peppers on top. Serve with napkins and extra salsa!
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New York, New York

January 22

IMG_9143 (George Washington Bridge)

New York is full of big things, of course. From bridges to buildings to traffic to people and everything in between. But memories from this weekend were filled with small bits too. The subway stop a block away. The fact that there are 3 grocery store/deli spots within that block. The marvel of high skyscrapers against a blue sky. IMG_9205The people who were so kind, offering to help when we were confused about where to go in a subway station. The dogs being walked, mostly clad in sweaters or rain jackets against the weather. (I even saw my first diapered dog.) The public transportation.

We spent the weekend in New York City, living it up in an apartment that belongs to friends of my parents. The apartment, really 2 units together, is larger than our house in every respect. From the ceiling heights to the room sizes. The 6 bathrooms (!!!). The closets and general storage scattered throughout the home. Needless to say, it was pretty luxurious. Getting a parking spot on the street right in front of the door was a huge bonus – that the car did not have to be moved until Thursday (Monday was a holiday) was kind of the icing on the cake.

The point of the weekend was to go see Honeymoon in Vegas, a new Broadway show that had its official opening this week. My brother’s friend, David Josefsberg, has the leading “supporting” role, if that makes any sense, and we wanted to go cheer him on – we’ve been entertained by him for years in Vermont. IMG_9217So the show was the focus, but we turned it into a full-on weekend extravaganza.

What a weekend.

My mother-in-law flew up from Texas. My parents drove down from Vermont. My brother and his family drove out (or trained out, depending) from Connecticut.

And we just played. Dinner out on Friday night. Bagels on Saturday. IMG_9161Left the apartment at 9:30 on Saturday morning for a full day of walking, subway-ing. We saw Grand Central and the Empire State building playing peek-a-boo between buildings. We watched skaters in Rockefeller Plaza. We wandered Times Square in the daylight.

And we saw the show.

The show was unbelievable. Run and see it. The sets. The music. The script. The actors. Absolutely incredible. So good we all talked about waiting in line at TKTS in Times Square to see if we could score seats for the Sunday show . . .

IMG_9175And after the show, our day was not over. We got to go backstage, standing on the stage with David as he signed our playbills. We all walked en masse to a local bar where we talked some more before David had to head back to prep for the 8 pm show. Then dinner. Then more walking in Times Square, this time with lights blazing so hard it took a few minutes before we realized it was nighttime.

Sunday rained. And rained and rained and rained. So we did what any respectable visitor would do – we grabbed umbrellas and went for a walk in Central Park. IMG_9261And took a subway down for burgers at a bar. And went to the Guggenheim museum. And ordered an orgy of delivery (none of us can get food delivered where we live) for dinner, then watched football and Downton Abbey and crashed hard.

Sun woke us on Monday morning along with the realization that this was the last day. Last few hours, really. Subway hop to the World Trade Center site, where the 911 Memorial stunned us all with its simplicity and beauty, framed in the background by the Freedom Tower. We ate hotdogs and pretzels on the street, and ducked in for a slice of pizza. And then it was time to go home.

I wouldn’t want to live in New York – the bustle would wear on me. But oh is it ever fun to visit!IMG_9281

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Personal Development

January 16, 2015. (posting on January 20)

Day 16 of the Chalene Johnson 30 day Challenge program. So far this year I’ve thought about different areas of my life, set goals for each, and decided on a Push goal. I’m learning about CRMs and autoresponders, creating mobile responsive newsletters and landing pages. The learning curve is steep steep steep, but there was a deep satisfaction when I typed in a web address and up popped a landing page. Thank goodness my husband is a computer genius!

What is this program anyway? Part of the world of Beachbody is the understanding, if not requirement, that you spend part of your day working on bettering yourself. It’s called personal development, and when I first heard about it I thought it was the dumbest thing ever. Isn’t that the tucked-in-the-back-of-the-bookstore, asked for in furtive quiet voice – the self-help section. Isn’t personal development for losers? For people who are grasping for straws?

I no longer think this. I’m a proud junkie of this kind of book. Program. Audio course or podcast. What better way to spend my reading (or driving – yay podcasts!) time than in learning about ways to be more effective? I’ve read books about how to be a better salesperson, about being positive. Brene Brown and her work on vulnerability, Simon SInek and his work on the power of WHY. I read books on organization, willpower, leadership, focus. I listen to people speak about reaching others, sharing your message. Getting things done. Along the way I am repeatedly bathed in positivity, making it easier for me to be a positive force for myself and others. If this addiction makes me a loser, then so be it.

Chalene Johnson, perhaps more commonly known for her fitness programs, is one of my favorites. She has a podcast that comes out on her own schedule, many many online academies, a NYT bestselling book PUSH, and a 30 day free online course that’s based on the book. It’s this one that I’m just over halfway on.

Her program is designed to teach goal setting and organization. She’s got tips and tricks in there about setting priorities, to do lists, delegating work, and many many more. Each day a new video comes to your inbox, a 5-10 minute clip with the day’s assignment and an invitation to type in your responses below. I’ve gone through the full 30 days at least once before, maybe 2 years ago, and have started and stopped a couple of other times.

This year I’m on fire. The work I’ve been doing for the past year getting my brain into good shape to believe in the goals I’ve set, plus this free program to keep me organized, plus a fabulous accountability partner and a life coach? Boom. Jump on for the ride, my friends. This year is going to be fabulous!

Some of my favorite personal development authors:
Brene Brown Simon Sinek John Maxwell Darren Hardy Chalene Johnson
Brian Tracy Brendan Burchard Jon Acuff Dave Ramsay Diana Nyad Jeff Olson

Want more positivity in your life? I’d love to connect with you. Leave me a message here, find me on Facebook, follow me on YouTube. The two of us together will make a powerful team.

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The magic ingredient

IMG_9046 (kitchen art, of the hanging kind.)

IMG_9045_2(counter at work)  IMG_8603 (not the counter. But the kitchen.)IMG_0830(counter in action)

January 15

My brain is scattering this morning, mostly because I want to write myself into a space where the combination of these topics make sense. These blogs are off-the-cuff, not painstakingly crafted, almost my version of a written message like might happen in a Quaker meeting. Let’s see how this works out.

This morning’s Tasty Thursday is about chicken stock. Homemade chicken stock is pure liquid gold, in my opinion, adding a level of MMMM to anything it goes into. Soups and stews, beans, gravies. It’s pretty easy to pull together and most of the work is done quietly on the stove as it simmers down to the basics of deliciousness. There’s no precision in timing, or in ingredients for that matter. That the whole house smells warm and blanket-wrappingly cozy is an extra bonus. I’ll put the ingredients and technique at the bottom of this blog.

The thing with stock is that it’s there. It’s not the star of the show, and if you just cracked open a can you might not really know something is missing. It’s easy enough to forget about. But when you remember? Ooh.

Like many of my recipes, it starts with chopping up an onion.

I chop on a maple butcher block counter top that is the workhorse of the kitchen. My grandfather had a table made of butcher block, scarred and bleached from years of use. I saw him grab knives and cut right on there. He’d knead bread dough and roll pasta too. About the only time he’d use a separate cutting board was for meat, but I can’t remember a time when that table was not in use as a work space. Work space that doubled as a place to sit and eat – space that served both utilitarian and pleasure. Plus I thought it looked amazing, this large expanse of wood that he oiled regularly, highlighting the cuts and scars created when he cooked. Kitchen art in the best sense of the word, like a battered copper pot or a gorgeous wooden salad bowl.

When we put this counter, people asked me if I was going to varnish the wood. “Because then it will look glorious,” they said to me. countertop

What could possibly be more glorious than an expanse of wood that invites companionship and sharing? That allows me to say to friends, “Sure, help me. Grab a knife and pick a spot. “

I oiled the counter on Tuesday, squeezing dollops of “wood moisturizing crème” on the surface and massaging it in with my hands. Extra goop went to the corner where I do most of the prep work. Normally when I oil, I wipe the excess off immediately. This time, though, I decided to let it soak in overnight and remove any extra in the morning. There was a little hassle of getting out a board to chop the broccoli that was the mainstay of the dinner, but it wasn’t such a big deal that I resented it.

The wood today feels silky and smooth. It glistens in spots, showing the grain and the stray cuts. It’s almost happy, rested, the way I feel after a particularly solid night’s sleep.

Sure, I could have done the normal thing, oiling and wiping. I could have forgotten to oil completely. The counter would have been there, doing its thing. I would not have known any different.

Homemade stock in a soup. A moisturized countertop in the kitchen. Background ingredients that, mostly, take some time to pull together.

Time is pretty much the magic ingredient.

Happy Thursday!

Want to reclaim time for you, to make stock or oil your counter? Contact me by leaving a message on this blog, or find me on Facebook or YouTube. Let’s make some magic.

Homemade chicken stock


  • couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion
  • 3 lbs chicken parts (backs, wings, legs chopped up, necks.)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • bay leaf
  • water


  1. Chop onion, skins and all, into rough pieces
  2. In a large soup pot, heat 1 tbs of oil, then sauté the onion pieces until brown. Remove to a medium/large bowl (you’ll be adding some chicken pieces to the same bowl, hence the size)
  3. Add a little more oil to the pot, then brown half of the chicken pieces. Remove those chicken pieces and repeat with more oil (if you need it) and the rest of the chicken.
  4. Remove the second batch of chicken.
  5. Pour in 2 quarts of water, stirring to scrape up the brown bits at the bottom of the pot. Then dump the chicken pieces and onions, plus any accumulated juice, to the pot. Add a bay leaf, salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Bring to a low boil then turn the heat down and simmer, uncovered, for 2-3 hours (if you go longer no worries – there will be less stock but it will be more concentrated.
  7. Strain out the stock, then cool. Remove any congealed fat from the top and store the stock in containers (I do 2 cup portions.)
  8. ENJOY!
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January 14

It’s 4 pm on a no-snow snow day. I was not expecting any snow at all (part of my new less-Facebook-time mission means that I am losing out on a large part of my regular news, though I personally think the balance of getting more work done makes up for it) and was surprised enough by the 5:30 am phone call that I just let the computer finish its work and went back to bed.

Present has 2 meanings, right? There is present as in “GIFT”. As in jump around, package under the tree, box wrapped in cool-paper-that-gets-ripped-to-shreds. The kind of present that you shake a little, maybe, where the anticipation is more than half the fun.

And there is present as in NOW. HERE. Point to the ground you are standing on grounding.

Which was today?

I’m of 2 minds about it. I mean, who doesn’t like an unexpected day off? (I still had to work, mind you, but since my kids are old enough to stay home and fend for themselves, that stress was gone.) And scheduled exams didn’t happen, obviously, giving more time (theoretically anyway) for studying.

The thing is, though, that those exams got moved to Friday or next Tuesday. Friday we will be out of town, headed to our belated Christmas gift of a weekend in New York City. And Tuesday was supposed to be a day off from school. All in all, since there was merely a dusting of snow? I think all of us would have preferred to get the day done.

Still the sleeping in, for all of us, felt like a present. The breathing room around schedule, even though it pushed a different schedule tighter, felt good today.

In a way, though there was no anticipation, today was almost about both kinds of present. That’s a pretty good deal for a random snow day, don’t you think?

Want more inspiration on how to be present and give yourself and your loved ones that ultimate gift? Contact me by leaving a message here, find me on Facebook, or seek out my YouTube channel. Together we can make every day into a present.

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SLEEP! (the 2015 version, anyway.)

IMG_0267 (everyone sleeps)

January 13

Sleep. 9 hours. 8 hours. 7. 6543. It’s so easy to get caught in the “ooh I never sleep” trap, and somehow it has become a badge of honor in this nutty American culture of ours to brag about not needing much sleep.

BS.IMG_0318 (everyone sleeps)

Excuse my language, but we need sleep. Our bodies use sleep to recharge. To process. To rejuvenate and rest and just chill out. To push those benefits to the side just to be able to brag about how productive you are? Not so beneficial.

There are a zillion resources out there on this. Mythbusters did a show that showed that driving tired is as bad as driving drunk. Forbes magazine (that bastion of hippy frou frou) has published a piece or two on the importance of sleep. The Huffington Post runs a regular column (and other pieces as well), and Fox (and maybe others) routinely has a sleep expert on their news.

IMG_4766(everyone sleeps!)

Why am I posting this today?

This morning, my alarm went off at 4:55 as per usual. Only this morning, I got up and changed it to 5:45. Yes, I still have a workout to do (and I totally do a better job if I get it in first thing), but last night I did not get into bed until after 10. It was 10:30 before I turned out the light. And that’s just plain not enough sleep for me.

2015 goal – in bed by 9 pm, with lights out no later than 10. If I don’t get that done, then I can’t get up at 5 to get all sweaty.

Besides. If I do an Insanity Max:30 workout later in the day, I can be as loud and as poundy as I want – there’s nobody else’s sleep pattern to disrupt.

I’d love to help you learn to prioritize your sleep. Email me, leave a comment, find me on Facebook or on YouTube. No more tired driving!

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Sunday Monday. Or Sunday Funday. Or Sunday putter day. You decide!

January 12

The weekend was a plug and chug one. I had a blast on Saturday, starting with a gathering of local Beachbody coaches at a quarterly event where we share stories, learn about new offerings from the company and hear training, and get inspired about this amazing company we are a part of. Gives me chills to know that the work we do truly changes lives.IMG_7788 (pic from Super Saturday last October.)

This uplifting morning continued into the afternoon, when I had the privilege of participating in a health and wellness fair at our local Whole Foods. This store in Charlottesville is an absolutely amazing community member, not that I think corporations are people in any way shape or form. But Whole Foods here works to support the community. I know when I went in asking if I could film for Tasty Thursday, thinking the answer would be ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I was very pleasantly surprised by “yes.” (after they checked out the channel to see if I was legit. Fair enough.) They routinely offer fundraising for local non-profits, and they are extremely generous when approached by said non-profits about donations. On Saturday this weekend, they had a “fair” with local providers of health and wellness offerings scattered throughout the store. IMG_9097 (my display)

There were representatives from local gyms. People who have started healthy food offerings (superfood smoothies, anyone?) in their homes. A cooking demonstration of gluten-free, vegan Indian cooking with fresh-ground spices that smelled so good I had a hard time concentrating on my display. People stopped and talked to me and a couple even tried a few workout moves.

IMG_9099 (me and my display. I was right up front!)

What a fun way to spend a Saturday!

And then on Sunday it was fill in the blanks. Do laundry. Tidy all the “stuff” that migrates around the house. Think about what needs to happen all week. Write thank you notes, and condolence notes.

IMG_9105 (some of the cards I keep on hand)

Package items to be mailed out. Make bread and change the sheets and just DO.

It’s amazing how having that day to just putter makes my whole week more centered. Do you have a day (or an hour) like that?

I want to help you find the small things you can do to center yourself. Contact me by leaving me a message here, connect with me on Facebook, or find my YouTube channel. Together we can start every week RIGHT!

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Friday Fight

January 9


The workout this morning was called Friday Fight (round 1), and in the preamble Shaun T talks about the fight between your body and your mind. Basic point? Your body will want to give out but your mind thinks you can keep going, or the other way around – and the challenge is to get the 2 working in sync.

The structure of this particular workout is slightly different than the rest of them so far. Instead of 20 or 30 seconds of work and then either a “rest” or a switch to a different exercise, this is one solid minute of the same exercise, then immediately switching to the next one. You do get water breaks, but only 2 of them in this workout (as opposed to one every 5 minutes).

A minute is a really long time. Just in case you were wondering.

I can’t say that I did a fabulous job with my fighting. I was looking at the clock and deciding how long I was going to go before I got there (although my first decision said “8 minutes!” and I made it to 11:26) as opposed to going all out until I basically collapsed, which is the general idea. I caught myself twice, once during the tricep dips and once during the plank punches, and made myself go 2 or 3 reps longer than I initially wanted to.

But it made me think. So much of life is like this – a struggle between our minds and something else. I know I felt victorious when I did ONE MORE REP after thinking I needed to stop – my body beat out my brain, and my brain will know next time.

Isn’t that what we need to do to succeed and to grow? To try things we initially think we cannot do, make them work, and then have a new baseline? We are so good at doing that work when we’re kids – think about learning to walk, for instance, or learning to ride a bike. Somehow, somewhere along the line, we lose it. That sense of daring-which-isn’t-daring-except-to-outsiders.

Maybe it’s because kids never think they can’t do something. The world is POSSIBLE to them.

It’s possible to us too. We just need to push beyond what we think we can do, prove we can do the next level up, and keep reaching.

Happy Friday!

I want to help you with your fight. Contact me by leaving me a message here, connect with me on Facebook, or find my YouTube channel. Together we can reach the stars!

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Caramelized onions and mindfulness

January 8

Today’s Tasty Thursday is all about caramelized onions (and I’ll write the description at the end of this blog), but as I wrote the title for this I realized that there are similarities in the slow cooking of onions to transform them into something completely different and the act of slowing down enough to understand what you need.

This morning, my alarm went off at 4:55 am as usual. I turned it off and thought for a moment, realizing I needed more sleep than I needed to get up to jump around with Shaun T. So I did.

And when I got up for real at 5:45, I realized my body was not ready then either. My schedule is a little flexible today, which means I CAN get in my workout later on (not always the case) So I posted in my group that I had a “need a different morning” morning, took my shower, and bustled about the day.

It felt great. Great to acknowledge my mental state. Great to be aware of the “want” and choose that over the “should” – a word that is fast approaching “stupid” as one of my least favorite words ever.

Both caramelized onions and being mindful take some time. They take patience, and an appreciation for what might come. In the case of this morning, for me, it was understanding why I am feeling this way (too little sleep, too cold out, among other factors). In the case of onions, it’s just that it takes time to break down those crunchy layers and reveal the dense sweetness inside.

Go for it. You might be surprised at the transformation. And yes, I’m talking about both. J


  • Slice 2-3-5 yellow or red onions VERY thinly.
  • In a sauté pan, heat up 1 TBS olive oil and 1 TBS butter (or 2 TBS olive oil, or coconut oil, or . . .) over medium high heat.
  • Add in onions with ½ tsp salt, and stir. Then leave them alone for a little bit, so they start to release juice. Stir again, then turn the heat down and cook for 25-45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions have melted down and are gooey and soft and silky and MMMMMM.


  • Remove onions from the pan. DO NOT CLEAN THE PAN!
  • Add in a little more oil, then toss in a pound or so of sliced mushrooms. Splash a little wine, or balsamic vinegar, or water or stock, then stir all the delicious goodness up from the bottom of the pan.
  • Cook the mushrooms, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms are starting to brown.
  • Stir in 1-2 cloves of minced/pressed garlic and cook, stirring, until the garlic starts to smell unbelievable. Remove the mushrooms from the pan.
  • THEN deglaze (which is a fancy way of saying splash liquid of your choice into the pan and stir until the browned bits are picked up) the pan for a quick pan sauce which you can use on WHATEVER. Mmm. Onions. Mushrooms. Sauce. Yes. Just YES!

I’d love to help you find the time to listen to yourself. Email me, leave a comment, find me on Facebook (Badass Chronicles). This transformation stuff is pretty powerful!

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January 7

Sometimes it’s a good thing to go with the flow. When a family member needs attention, for example, that trumps the “planned the night before” schedule.

And that I was asked for attention makes me happy. Happy is badass.

IMG_7488(this has nothing to do with my post. I just like the picture.)

Happy Wednesday!!!

I’d love to help you with your flexibility, both the physical and emotional kind. Email me, leave a comment, find me on Facebook. Together we can make everyday a day to let out your inner badass.

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