Do’s and Don’ts When Preparing for a Holiday Feast

It’s almost T-Day, y’all!


I know it’s not Monday, but I still thought this was good.

This year I’m flying solo like a festively roasted bird. And honestly, I have procrastinated in making any plans for the big day! I may crash a friendsgiving, or I may go on a long and crave-worthy hike (weather/smoke permitting!) and catch up on “The Christmas Prince” with some Indian take-out. Then my folks are coming down over Black Friday so we can hang out and prep for Buttercup’s fourth (Fourth!!) birthday party. How did you get so big? Stop getting so big.

But I know not everyone can be so lucky  as to enjoy take-out and watch cheesy Netflix rom-coms on Thursday. So if you’re stuck with a big houseful of people and have some apprehension for the ritual of sitting with others to stuff your face, never fear! I’ve put together a little “do’s and don’ts” list for your gratitude feast.

DO: Make time for a little movement before the party

If you’re feeling stressed about the day (especially if you’re the host that’s cooking the thing! I’ve been there, and I feel ya), almost literally all the research shows* that 30 minutes of movement can improve your mood and energy. So before you roll up your sleeves and shove your arm up that bird carcass, put on your shoes and go for a walk around the block, fire up a quick Aaptiv class (<– affiliate link!), or have a pillow fight with your kids. Exercises gives you endorphins, and endorphins make you happy. And you know what they say about happy people.


DON’T: Exercises to try to “Earn It” or “Pre-Burn” the calories

I know, I said that you should move around before the party starts, and I’m not trying to be confusing. There’s a difference between exercising because it makes you feel good and keeps you healthy, and exercising to punish yourself or to be deserving of indulging in food later. Now, I totally used to be one of those people who would go for a run the morning of Thanksgiving to give myself some caloric wiggle room for the day. And my whole evening the mental chatter would include, “Did I run long enough to eat this? Or this? Oh shoot, I forgot to include the calories in the wine!” Instead of relaxing and enjoying the experience of enjoying a good meal in good company, I was mentally calculating and planning a gym visit in the moring to cover for all the extra indulging I did. Total holiday spirit, amirite? So give yourself a pass and some grace this time around.

DO: Enjoy any and all dishes and “worth it” treats that make you feel festive and happy

Unless you have an allergy or aversion to something that’s really going to mess with you, it’s perfectly okay to unabashedly enjoy whatever you want during a celebration. All the stuffing? You do you. Both pumpkin AND apple pie? It’s like we’re meant to be. Starting with a salad and saving the indulgences for after you get in your veggies? A brilliant and strategically sound move. Allow yourself to relax and enjoy what you want, be that the marshmallows off the sweet potato casserole or the roasted brussel sprouts. You do not need to apologize or feel bad about yourself for making choices that feel right for you and doing what you love!


DON’T: Feel pressured to eat something you don’t really want

One year, after dinner I was feeling quite satisfied and decided to forego dessert. I received some mild pressure and questioning from my family about not having a slice of pie in front of me. “No, thank you” I responded to the offer, sipping my coffee and enjoying the cozy post-dinner downtime. Folks, we are all adults here and are perfectly capable of making our own choices. If you know the stuffing is going to mess you up, you’ve never been a fan of mashed potatoes, or you don’t want to be uncomfortably full but they’re passing pie around, you can say no. It’s totally up to you.

DO: Take time to participate in or start a holiday tradition that’s not about the food

Yes, we are free to eat, drink and be merry. But let’s be honest, there can be a lot of time where we sit around and stare at each other, mindlessly muching. So after the meal, plan an activity to get everyone away from the table and spending some non-food time together. In my family, we are huge cribbage and jigsaw puzzle players. Or go for a neighborhood walk, play charades, or break out some crafty goodness projects. The best memories are the ones created from shared experiences.

DON’T: Comment on people’s diets, what’s on their plate, or what they’ve eaten/didn’t eat

Otherwise known as the “keep your eyes on your own plate” rule. This should be more general knowledge, but we work with what we have in this life. No one likes to sit down to a meal only to be told what we’re eating is wrong or unhealthy. We’ve all had that one family member (or maybe BEEN that one family member #guilty) that wants to dispense all the diet opinions over dinner, and comment on the food choices of others, whether it’s by choice or doctor’s orders. Just this one time, let’s just not. As much as you like and appreciate the freedom and autonomy to make your own decisions about what you do with your health and body, allow others the same dignity to live their own lives as well.

The Nutshell


See what I did there? Holidays are a time to hit the pause button on all of the Life Stuff and enjoy some of the simple pleasures of life. As long as you make choices that feel good to you and keep you moving to the next chapter, you are rocking your own road.

Go make it a great holiday!

Happy 4th Birthday, Squish!

My little man is now 4 years old! We had a big birthday bash at our home with lots of out-of-town family and friends to celebrate.

As usual, I wasn’t able to take too many good pictures since I was running around setting out napkins and such. But there were gifts, and there was cake. A very specific Thomas cake. It was a thing.



Squish also shares his birthday with his grandpa, and since everyone lives in the Bay Area now it was an extra-special celebration!

I continue to be amazed at how awesome and special Squish is. I’m sure every parent is just a little bit biased, but Jared has such a sweet and joyful energy about him, and he gets along so well with everyone and everything. Going into his fourth year, his favorites include the color red, playing with his trains and cars, running around the house with Olive, making his little sister laugh, and hamburgers with french fries (as we say around here, “burger on top with fries” where I think “on top” means including a bun).

Happiest of birthdays to my Squish-Monster! I have a feeling that four will be a fantastic year for you.

2015 08 16 Jared Cheers

Happy Birthday, Buttercup!

It was Buttercup’s first birthday this weekend! We had a Hello Kitty themed party for family and friends to commemorate the occasion. And it true “bad blogger” form, I was too preoccupied getting everything set up to take pictures, so if you have some good ones from the day, please feel free to send them to me!


She grew up way too stinking fast. And since this is the last first birthday party I’ll ever have to throw, I wanted to do a REAL party. With, like, decorations and planning and stuff.

Prepping the night before:  
Hello Kitty totally threw up all over our living room.



Even Olive got all festive.

I still can’t figure out how to take a good picture of a black dog. She’s all shadow.


Anyway, the kids put on their party hats and were ready for a good time!  
Squish was ALL ABOUT the hats. Buttercup, not so much. But how cute is this “Birthday Hat” my sister crochet for her?!?


She clearly did not appreciate it as much as we did.

But she did appreciate the cake. She started with dainty little finger-dips in the frosting before digging in with both hands.

It was a great party!

Happy birthday to our little miss Princess Strawberry Mochi Cream Puff Buttercup! 

Can’t Sleep, Too Excited: Holiday Edition!

Yesterday’s post was a bit on the downer side. Let’s perk things up, shall we?

I know I should “respect the bird” and hold off until at least November 27th for this, but …. I am so excited for the holidays this year. Freakishly excited for Christmas to be specific. Like, I can’t sleep I’m so excited, which means 42 days of excitement-induced sleep deprivation until my sugarplum dreams are realized. But who’s counting?


It’s our first season in the new house, and I can’t wait to rope the kids in with all the festivities that will become our family traditions – decorations, wrapping gifts, cocoa by the fireplace, baking cookies (or non-sweet treats depending on how “Paleo” I’m feeling), and getting the tallest, most massive tree our vaulted ceiling can take. Hulk has already enforced a strict “lighting budget” on me after I detailed out my plans on how I want to decorate the front yard in Christmas lights. It’s fine if planes flying overhead mistake our house for a landing strip, right?


Plus, if I start all the decorating and planning now, that’s less on my mind when it comes time to actually celebrating. I really want to just sit back and enjoy the holidays. Last year Buttercup was super teeny tiny, so I kept things really simple.

2014 12 31 Mercedes NYE Outfit 1
Simple, yet so squishy!

So simple in fact, I just checked and I have no pictures from Christmas last year. That one was New Year’s Eve. But you get the idea.

Anyway, Before that, we were in our downtown SF apartment and there just wasn’t the space to really go all out.

2013 12 24 Tim and Jared Merry Christmas Snapchat
Snapchat was our decor.

So I’m pretty pumped to see what I can do this year. And it’s Olive’s first Christmas, so we must make sure to establish firm canine traditions so she knows what to expect from now on.

We do this because we love you.

Now it’s time to inventory the tree ornaments to see what didn’t survive the move.

Go make it a great day!

Another One In the Books

This weekend, like most of America, we celebrated Halloween over here.


Gramma made the kids’ costumes, as she is a professional costume designer and has all the sweet hookups to obtain authentic gear. Squish LOVED his “real” fireman uniform complete with boots and a tool belt. Buttercup was less enthused about having to put on her Dalmatian puppy suit, but once she was in it she was pretty snuggly. And it had a super long tail, all the better for chewing/drooling on.


Squish came down with a touch of the flu on Thursday, so we had to skip out on a birthday party Friday night, and I wasn’t sure if trick-or-treating was on the agenda until Sunday afternoon when I was sure his mild fever wouldn’t be making a reappearance. He was a little slow, but still had a blast trick-or-treating with a pack of new neighborhood kids.


Or Auntie ‘Manda as a “Lazy Wizard”.

Sunday was my real birthday, but Squish’s flu had caught up to everyone else so it was a chill day. We went to brunch, then Amanda and I went out for some sister gossip and mani-pedis. Then while everyone was napping I went on a six mile hike out around Lake Chabot. It did not suck.

IMG_9346 IMG_9348 IMG_9350 IMG_9349

It’s been a while since I hiked that much, I think since our Alaska trip (which I’m still procrastinating on finishing the recap on. Only been two months, so whatever). Given that we are so close to some great day hike trails, I really need to take advantage of the great outdoors more often.

I’m pretty pumped about turning 33 this year. Normally I’m pretty “meh” about birthdays, but this year feels different. I’m pretty confident this is going to be a great year for me. Mostly because last week I decided that I was done with therapy. Yahoo! I’ve talked about it here and there, and I’ll probably put together an “ask-me-anything” type post on it one of these days, but I’ve been going to therapy for my postpartum depression since March. Lately I’ve felt that I have turned a corner, and decided to take the proverbial training wheels off and ride my own cognitive bike. While I may go back to therapy in the future if I need it, it feels pretty good to feel like I’ve made progress, and have the time and headspace to start working on other stuff now. Like blogging! And maybe exercise. Or I could do the laundry. The possibilities are endless!

That’s it for now. Go make it a great day!

Birthday Bash

Last weekend we had a birthday party … For me!


My birthday is the day after Halloween, so it made sense to have it a bit early, because who wants to party the day after Halloween?

That might have been a silly question when I think about who my friends are.

I can’t remember the last time I had an actual birthday party with, like, people and stuff. I think I was 12? 

Anyway, we all donned our party dresses and enjoyed a fun evening with friends. Buttercup won the “Can’t Even Cuteness” award.

And now that I’m done with my 33rd spin around the sun, it’s time to start planning Buttercup’s first! Stop growing. Just stop.

33 is going to be a great year.

Happy Birthday, Squish!

My little man turned three years old last weekend.


We had a bunch of family in town for the holidays, and Squish shares a birthday with his grandpa. So we had a joint birthday family party with the usual accouterments.




It’s hard to believe my baby boy is already a “big kid.” At least, compared to his sister.


(Word to the wise: don’t pass out at our place. We practice baby-shaming, and you will wake up with an infant in your arms.)

Happiest of birthdays to my main Squishy-man!

What I Wish I Was Eating–Independence Day Version

Ahh! It’s a holiday! I *may* have prepped this post on the plane last night so I could sleep in today. Wait, no I didn’t. That would be planning ahead and stuff, and since I was on a plane until 1:00 am this morning, well, things just didn’t happen. So I slept in. That’s what holidays are for, right? Well, except for Christmas. You have to wake up early to greet the Santa presents for Christmas. But all other holidays, snooze away.

Anyway, I’m still not sure what our plans for the day’s festivities are. At least, I don’t know, but Hulk does. He is our social engagement coordinator, after all. So at some point I’m sure we shall be whisked off to a barbecue or backyard party or maybe a boat ride or something. In the meantime, Pinterest shall help me dream of what we’ll eat today! That sounds like fun, too!

Here’s all the food porn I’ve pinned for the day’s dietary dreaming:

Starting with some fine, tasty beverages,


Can’t go wrong with bubbles. And the little star toppers are a festive touch.


Not quite 4th of July, but still looks refreshing for a summer picnic.


There we go! I’m loving the “layered” look.

Then we move on to the pre-meal time snackies. Because you need to eat something first to make you more hungry to eat more.


A festive fruit plate. Even I think I could do this one and not screw it up!


Fruit kebabs! Argh, too much cute!

And then, let the grilling begin. I love me a good barbecue!


Ribs! Oh, yes. That has to happen.


We used to grill shrimp all the time in a brandy-sugar marinade. Maybe we need to bring this tradition back this year?


And the classics. Bacon-wrapped hot dogs. Can’t go wrong with that.

And don’t forget the sides!


Citrus-fennel cole slaw! I love slaw, especially with fun, new ingredients.


Grilled avocado! Um, yes, please!


And of course grilled corn on the cob. It just wouldn’t be summer without it.

Still have room left? No? Ah, well, jump up and down a few times, because here comes dessert:


Are these the cutest or what? I think they’re either tarts or cheesecake. Either way, I love the layers and the blueberry garnish.


Some decorated rice krispie treats on a stick, for the kiddos (and when I say kiddos, I mean me).

Finally, what is an American holiday without some American pie?


Even better when they’re hand pies! Perfect, saves on cutting, and I don’t have to share!

Enjoy your day, I hope it’s not too foggy to see fireworks where you’re at, and if you’re not celebrating the 4th, have a most wonderful Friday and enjoy your weekend!


Even More Catching Up

Hey, kids! What’s happening? I suppose it’s time for my monthly check-in, don’t you think?

First, a piece of random coolness. Apple’s developer conference (WWDC) is going on this week across the street, and they always have really cool entertainment that we can see from our living room. Last night, Bastille was playing! I didn’t realize it was them until they started playing “Pompeii”, and I about had a stroke. I grabbed the binoculars and jumped around like an idiot. OMG, I love this city.



I know it’s kind of a crummy picture. I have a lousy camera and dirty windows. But that big bright spot in the park is THEM!

Anyway, Squish and I just got back from a deliciously long weekend up at Lake Tahoe. My folks decided to host a family reunion of sorts up in the mountains for the whole family. View from our back porch:


It was horrible, I tell you. We did lots of beach bumming, hiking, and a little stand up paddle boarding, my new favorite. Finally, a board sport I don’t feel entirely incompetent at!

The cool part was Squish and I took the train from SF to Tahoe. Amtrak has a stop in Truckee, about a half hour from where we were staying. Squish was going nuts about riding a train “just like Thomas [the Train cartoon]!”


I tell you, if I could always take the train when traveling with small children, I would. It is so much more freeing than riding in a plane or a car. Squish and I could wander the train cars as much as we pleased so we weren’t forced to sit in our seats the whole time, which is key when you have a very busy toddler. There was a lounge car with huge windows and chairs to view the beautiful scenery as we rolled along. And hot dogs.


And as we traveled up the mountains they would announce historic facts and point out significant geographical features of interest. I got my nerd on, too!


Apparently when Squish was playing with my phone he changed the filter on my camera. I didn’t notice for most of the train ride, I just thought the train made all my pictures turn out yellow. I am not a photographer.

And now it’s back to real life. I have some work travel coming up, we have some guests visiting, and baby #2 is cruising along and doing its thing. I have my 20 week ultrasound in a few weeks where we find out the sex. Hulk’s still hoping for a girl, and I don’t really care either way. I’ve finally stopped the daily puking and feeling like I’ve been hit by a fatigue truck all the time, so I’ve been able to resume some of my normal activities, like cooking and being around other people. I might even meal prep this weekend! Great heavens! Someday I might go back to the gym. Someday. Hopefully sooner rather than later, because after trying to hike around the mountains last weekend I found I am woefully out of shape and it’s going to be a major battle getting back to where I want to be. But the beauty is I have all the time in the world to get that done, if and when I choose to.

Okay, that’s it for now. Make it a great day, a great weekend, and I hope to check in next week!