Super yummy, gluten-free, low-carb chocolate chip cookies recipe

December 23rd, 2011 by admin 1 comment »

Jeff has been the parent baking with Carter lately. He discovered this gluten-free, low-carb, higher-protein recipe for chocolate chip cookies from Healthy Fellow. I’ve happily (and quickly) consumed the results. Last night, Jeff and I baked the cookies together. By this afternoon, they were all gone—not even one left for a photo.

A vanilla note: The original recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of vanilla, to mask the almond taste and increase the antioxidants. With this batch I used 2 teaspoons—I like the almond taste—so if you’re running short on vanilla, rest assured, it’s a forgiving recipe.

A sweet note: It’s likely that you don’t have the natural sweeteners erythritol and stevia in your pantry. If your grocery store doesn’t carry them, try a health food store. It’s worthwhile to seek them out and experiment with them as a sugar substitute in other contexts; for example, Jeff replaced sugar with stevia for his coffee quite a while ago.

Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies

3 cups almond flour, sifted

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

¾ cup butter, preferably grass-fed, melted

½ cup erythritol

1 teaspoon powdered stevia

2 eggs, preferably organic omega-3 room temperature (place in bowl of warm water to bring to room temperature more quickly)

2 tablespoons vanilla extract

½ cup dark-chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper (or silicone baking liners). In a mixing bowl, whisk together the almond flour, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the butter, erthritaol, and stevia; add the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla. Add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until combined (do not overmix). Fold in the chocolate chips evenly. Drop 12­–14 rounded tablespoons of dough (I love my cookie scoop) on each prepared baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes or until the edges begin to brown. Remove from the oven and cool on the sheet for 10–15 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Adapted from Healthy Fellow

A+ easy gift ideas for teachers, daycare, other moms, etc.

December 21st, 2011 by admin No comments »

xmas giftTaking the stress, obligation, and anxiety out of teacher gifts. That’s the topic The Happiest Mom*, Meagan Francis, tackled today. As I was commenting, I figured why not weigh in on my own (albeit much-neglected) blog.

At our school, the head classroom parents take up a collection (give what you want) for the teacher and aide’s gifts. This works for me, but I’m not off the hook because Carter goes to two different after-school daycares. On-campus Kids’ Club (Monday through Thursday) has a staff of four. On Friday, Carter goes back to Lucy’s house, the home daycare where he’s gone since he was 20 weeks old, so I needed gifts for Lucy and for his Russian teacher (why Russian is a story for another blog).

I firmly believe you don’t need to spend a lot of money to show appreciation. My goal: something practical (nothing to dust) with a personal but easy-to-do presentation. For example, last year, I wrapped up a jar of deli mustard with a fresh store-bought baguette in bright tissue paper, which I tied closed with colorful ribbon. But quizzing the mustard buyer at Draegers’ at the very last minute caused much anxiety and didn’t leave time for Carter to take part.

xmas detailThis year, I bought handmade, but inexpensive felt appliquéd cup cozies (eco cardboard sleeve substitutes) at a fair in October. I paired each with a Starbucks gift card in a large square blank holiday card, inside which Carter drew pictures. He also addressed and decorated the envelopes. A gold star for one job well done. Now if I could just check something else off my list…

I edited Meagan’s book with Parenting magazine: The Happiest Mom—makes a great gift, too!* Half off until the end of the year or from Amazon

Why do “multicultural” crayons include white and black? How about skin tones?

November 6th, 2011 by admin No comments »

While I applaud the PC nature of Crayola’s “multicultural” crayon set, next time, I suggest the product-development folks think about flesh colors—picture actual skin tones. Really, a white crayon and a black crayon? For the record, in the limited crayon palette at school, Carter reaches for the orange crayon when he draws himself.

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must-visit gift and paper store in Reno carries “my book” for moms-to-be

May 29th, 2011 by admin 2 comments »

Thanks to Ali Z at Designalicious I discovered the Reno, Nevada, city guide at Design Sponge. Thanks to the Design Sponge guide I discovered The Paper Moon, a well-curated paper and gift store with lots of fun girly stuff—all with a distinct design point of view that I loved.

Thanks to the the Paper Moon Facebook page, I got 25 percent off my whole purchase—tie-dyed scarf, patchwork headband, letterpress thank-you notes, glass rings, sticky notes with illustrated stilettos, etc. If you’re in Reno, go visit The Paper Moon. The store is in the shopping center at 550 West Plumb Lane, not far from downtown.

Lesson learned: From now on when I travel, I will check to see if Design Sponge has a city guide for my destination.

A huge thrill for me was seeing that Paper Moon carries my book Parenting magazine’s Pregnancy Planner: Essential Advice for Moms-to-Be, a journal-format book I spent two years editing. (Sorry, the photo I took was too blurry to post.)

Whenever I say a book is “my book,” the inevitable next question, which the lovely store clerk asked: “Did you write it?” The answer is, I’m not the author, but…With the beautifully illustrated books I work on, it’s hard to explain how much creativity and hard work the editorial, design, and production teams invest in a book, how much we collaborate, and how proud we are of the final product. It’s ours. Buy a Pregnancy Planner for an expecting mom, and you’ll see what I mean. And if you’re Reno, you where to find it.

Spot goes to school in PJs—why it’s good I don’t dress my son

May 18th, 2011 by admin 2 comments »
Pupp Spot (aka Carter) and Mommy on Halloween 2010

Puppy Spot (aka Carter) and Mommy on Halloween 2010

Carter is perfectly capable of getting himself dressed in the mornings. Yesterday, he put on the Dalmatian-print flannel pants from his Halloween costume, usually reserved for PJs. Some parents might disagree with his choice, but I didn’t care. I’m not a morning person, so I’ve been overly sympathetic to Carter when he’s a sad sleepyhead, like Mommy. Even though I know that I shouldn’t, I’ve even dressed him on particularly late, weepy mornings. But this week, I’ve been managing, though not happily, to get myself up and out of his way. I forced myself to practice what I preach in parenting books: Step back, stop nagging, and tell Carter that I trusted him to get himself ready.

And he did. Good puppy!

Why every parent should read the book Why Gender Matters

May 15th, 2011 by admin 2 comments »

Often to the chagrin of my husband, I’ve been reading (and quoting from) a lot of parenting books lately. One that should be required reading for all parents and teachers: Why Gender Matters: What Parents and Teachers Need to Know about the Emerging Science of Sex Differences by Leonard Sax, MD, PhD. If a teacher tells you your child has ADD, do not pass go, do not fill a prescription, read this book immediately.

Why Gender Matters describes the physiological difference between boys and girls, and how those differences affect children, particularly in how they learn. According to Sax, age and gender are the “two great organizing principles in child development.” For example, boys and girls develop different parts of their brains at different times. “Trying to understand a child without the role of gender in child development is like trying to understand a child’s behavior without knowing the child’s age,” Sax writes.

Boys and girls play, fight, see, hear, speak, think, and learn differently, but that doesn’t mean that nature trumps nurture. Sax helps you understand gender differences and then gives you practical advice about how you can best help your son or daughter learn. Here are a few issues he addresses:

• In school, overly academic kindergartens can set boys up for failure from the get-go, while girls more likely will feel the negatives of “gender-blind” education in middle school and high school.

• If you have a son who’s a daredevil, saying “don’t do that” isn’t going to cut it, so find a safe outlet for that energy. On the other hand, there are ways to encourage your daughter to take more risks.

• A boy, whether 6 or 17 years old (and I’m guessing up to at least 46), may really not know how he feels, much less be able to talk about it, whereas your daughter more likely has the awareness of her emotions and the vocabulary to describe them in detail.

Most important, boys and girls are different—neither are better. As parents, it’s our job to understand that, let go of the illusion of gender neutrality, and embrace the differences.

My friend Robert, who went back and earned his teaching credentials through Stanford University, recommended that I read Why Gender Matters. I’m glad I did. Do yourself a favor and read it. Then do a friend a favor and pass it along.

Why do I care so much about the book The Happiest Mom?

May 8th, 2011 by admin No comments »

Happy Mothers’ Day! Except for asking (aka pestering, nagging, begging) everyone I know to buy the book The Happiest Mom (Parenting Magazine): 10 Secrets to Enjoying Motherhood ($8.22, 45 percent off at Amazon today). I’ve been mostly off the grid the past several months. Tweeting @bakingwithc, but not blogging (a story for another day). So why do I care so much about this book? I’ve edited dozens and dozens of books, but this one is different. The Happiest Mom published with Parenting magazine (the book includes a one-year subscription) struck a personal nerve with me. I’m going to cheat and share an answer I gave when Freelance Success, through which I met the author, Meagan Francis recently interviewed me for its newsletter.

Q: What makes this project so special for you—you say you really put your heart into it?

A: Heart and soul. I know from personal experience how powerful the support from other moms can be, especially when you have young kids (my son is 6). This book gave me the opportunity to counter some of the recent less-than-enthusiastic press motherhood has gotten and offer practical and emotional support to moms everywhere.

Meagan’s pitch was perfectly timed. I had just read I Was a Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids for book club. The book’s message is: motherhood is miserable, but we can get through it together. Worse, there was a growing trend of blogs and books with a similar message—and this was all before Tiger Mom!

Well, we book club moms disagreed. We like being moms. I felt the world needed a different message: being a mom is wonderful, but challenging. By sharing the good times and supporting each other in the not-so-good times, we moms can enjoy motherhood together.

Meagan’s message that you can say “happy” and “mom” in the same sentence resonated strongly with me, and I knew it would with a lot of other moms. The Happiest Mom offers realistic advice that can have an immediate impact on your happiness. This book also gave me a chance to inject some personal advice—how to say “no,” (politely) brush off busybodies, and make a don’t-do list. You know, all those things that nag at you because you “should” do them? Put some on a “never do” list and others on a “don’t do now, but might do later” list. You’ll feel instant relief. Also, look for the “two-minute” rule inspired by Dave Allen’s Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. It will change your life.

online window shopping detrimental to sleep—and happiness?

January 7th, 2011 by admin 4 comments »

This month’s resolution—go to bed at night—seemed straightforward enough. And until last night, lights were out before midnight. Except for the night I fell asleep in Carter’s bed at 7:30 pm (and he moved to the couch because “Mommy was snoring!”), making it to bed by 11 pm has proved elusive.

Too often, I find myself trolling for deals online. And it is about the hunt for the best deal. The adrenaline. The dopamine. I love finding the obscure coupon code that I can combine with free shipping and get something that’s on sale—today only. The problem is I lose track of time. The other problem is, of course, actually spending money on more stuff.

In “But Will It Make You Happy?”—one of those “most-emailed” New York Times articles that I usually read on the train instead of the more important news stories—Stephanie Rosenbloom wrote: Research finds “spending money for an experience — concert tickets, French lessons, sushi-rolling classes, a hotel room in Monaco — produces longer-lasting satisfaction than spending money on plain old stuff.” But I still like stuff. But I love traveling with the boys, too.

So I’m trying a new strategy (which I’m hoping will take faster than my resolution to go to bed at a decent hour): If I really, really want to buy something, like the Mend Cinch Bag on sale in Target’s Red Hot Shop (thanks, Daily Candy for the tip!) and I talk myself out of it, then I transfer that money into our “travel” savings account. So far this week I’ve resisted the bag and a necklace. Woo hoo.

But, again, last night, I found myself with clearance items sitting in my Canvas shopping cart with the “free shipping” code already entered.

Then I noticed it was half past midnight. I closed my laptop and went to bed.

first New Year’s resolution: go to bed

January 2nd, 2011 by admin 1 comment »

A year ago, I resolved to “show up more” (incidentally, one of my favorite blogs). In 2009,, my mantra was, “I’m doing the best I can.” I thought about making this year’s resolution, “Just show up and do the best I can.” Which would work.

Last year was not a great year, so it shouldn’t be hard to improve upon it. However, the last thing I want to do is set myself up for failure by committing to lose weight, do more yoga, eat better, bake more, cook more, play with Carter more, spend more time with Jeff when we’re not planning Carter’s next move, watch less TV, read more books, knit, etc. I already know I should and want do all these things. I just don’t. (“Cognitive dissonance” is a topic for another day.)

Instead of taking it to either extreme—a day at time or a year at a time—I’m going draw my line at a month at a time. It supposedly takes 21 days to make something a habit, so I’m going to commit to one thing each month that’s doable and good for me, and see where it takes me. Probably not to a new me, but maybe I’ll be a little happier, a little healthier, a little more pleasant to be around.

First up: sleep. My January resolution: Go to bed. At night. Not in the early morning hours.

No more late-night blogging, online shopping, housework, paperwork, busywork. Considering how little sleep I usually get (1 am is not an unusual shut-eye time), I’m going to aim for lights out at 11 pm. I’ll report back on how it goes. Please let me know how your 2011 goals go, too.

Sweet dreams, and to all many good nights. Happy New Year.