Whatever you say,

does it really matter?

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Apricot Lamb Tagine with Herbed Couscous

I made this dish awhile ago and it’s too amazing not to share! If you love Moroccan flavors, then this dish is for you.  You  seriously can’t go wrong when using turmeric and cumin.  The combination of savory, spicy and sweet dances in your mouth.  The slow braised lamb is fall apart tender! Then you add raisins and apricots towards the end which gives it a hint of sweetness and awesome texture.   It was hard not to go back for seconds.  I served this dish with a side of Israeli couscous.   I prefer the texture of Israeli couscous versus the small grain couscous. I kept the couscous simple using the same herbs in the tagine and added toasted pine nuts.  I wanted the lamb to be the star and  it most definitely was.  If you’re not a couscous fan,  you can always serve it with quinoa or brown rice.   Topping the lamb with  pistachios provided a nice contrast in textures to the tender lamb.

Side note: I couldn’t find harissa in ony regular grocery store.  I ended up finding it in a specialty Middle Eastern market. photo 1


2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 pinch saffron
1 teaspoon lemon (zest)
1 tablespoon oil
1 pound lamb (cut into bite sized pieces)
1 tablespoon oil
1 onion (chopped)
1 tablespoon garlic (grated)
1 tablespoon ginger (grated)
2 tablespoons tomato paste (I used chopped sun dried tomatoes)
1-2 cups beef stock
3/4 cup dried apricots
1/2 cup raisins
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons harissa
1/4 cup pistachios (chopped, optional)
1/4 cup cilantro (chopped, optional)
1/4 cup parsley (chopped, optional)
1 cup Greek style yogurt (optional)


1. Mix the paprika, turmeric, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cardamom, salt, cayenne pepper, saffron, lemon zest and oil in a zip-lock bag along with the lamb, mix well and marinate the fridge for a few hours to overnight.

2. Heat the oil in a large pan or dutch oven over medium-high heat, add the lamb, brown well on all sides and set aside.

3. Add the onion and saute until tender, about 5 minutes.

4. Add the garlic and ginger and saute for about a minute.

5. Add the lamb and tomato paste and beef stock, bring to a boil, reduce the meat and simmer covered until the lamb is fall apart tender, about 2.5 hours.

6. Add the apricots, raisins and more beef stock to cover.

7. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.

8. Add the honey and harissa.

9. Serve on couscous and garnished with pistachios, cilantro, parsley and Greek yogurt.

I cannot wait to make this dish again.  It is very satisfying and it doesn’t disappoint.  Happy cooking!


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Creamy Gnocchi, Sweet Potato and Spinach

all things katie marie: Fall Home Decor

Fall is right around the corner.  Yup, that’s right.  Fall.  Did I just type that?  Sure did!!  I felt like I  just started eating  peaches and berries.  Where has the time gone?  Say goodbye to the sunshine, beach day trips, baseball and  BBQ’s.  It’ will soon be time for pumpkins, football, apple cider and thanks.  It’s a time of fresh starts, new beginnings.  It means roasts, potatoes and carrots.   It means hearty, warm, comfort food.

What better way to introduce Fall into your household than with this recipe taken and adapted from Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice.

photo (1)

I was really craving this for dinner and used whatever I had in the pantry and refrigerator.  So I made minor substitutions that didn’t compromise the flavor at all.  I used a sweet potato instead of butternut squash and unflavored almond milk for half and half with two tablespoons of low-fat cream cheese.  It truly was creamy, delicious, filling and not as heavy as I thought it would be.  It’s a definite keeper.


Here’s to Fall cooking!



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A Change Not Involving Weight Loss


Because we hard on ourselves to be an “ideal weight.”
Because the media shows a thin model as ideal.
Because the media tells you you’re overweight or obese.
Because the BMI scale is ridiculous.
Because Photoshop exists.
Because you have low self-esteem.
Because peer pressure is inevitable.
Because people judge.

I have never considered myself “fat,” “overweight,” “chunky,” “plump,” “large,” “chubby,” or whatever word you choose to describe your weight.  I always fluctuate 10 lbs up or down and I am fine with that.  One day, I went to the doctor, was weighed and inserted on the lovely BMI scale.  Guess what?  I was one…ONE…pound away from being overweight. I got the stern warning I “need to watch it” or “lose some weight.” That dang BMI scale is ridiculous.  Here how ridiculous it is:

I can weigh 132 lbs at my top weight (133 lbs makes me overweight)
I can weigh 98 lbs at my low weight (97 lbs makes me under weight).

Do those numbers look right to you?  Ninety eight pounds!!!  This is what 98 lbs looks like!


Oh let me count my ribs and other bones I can see.  This is more like an eating disorder than a healthy, ideal weight the media keeps pushing on us.  Ideal according to who?  Who are these people?  Who is making us so crazy with being overweight?  I even have a scale at home that tells me I am overweight every time I weigh myself!  Damn thing doesn’t work properly.  No, seriously!  It doesn’t.  No matter how much I lose, I am always the same percentage of body fat.  But when I gain weight, it goes up.  It’s ridiculous just like the BMI scale.  Built in BMI scales at home are even worse.  So do me a favor, ignore the overweight part of the BMI scale.  See for yourself  here.  Play with weight to see how low you can go before hitting 18.9 and how high to reach 25.  It’s a very large range.  Side note:   Obesity is a serious concern which has many negative effects on your health.  I am discussing being “overweight” not obese.

Yes, I am on a wellness journey. Yes, it happens to include weight loss.  But my reasons for weight loss is not because I am “almost” overweight (thank you BMI scale).  Not for any reasons drilled in our heads throughout the day, everyday.  My reasons are simple: for my future husband and children.  What better reason than that?  I can’t think of one.  It’s simple and white picket fence ideal: I want to be a mother!  I want to run, play and most importantly be alive and present with my husband and children.

You see, I was blessed with large breasts, as well as ALL THE WOMEN in my family.  In addition to large breasts, I suffer from horrible back pain (upper but especially lower) from a previous work injury and surgery.  When I went to the doctor to complain, he and two specialists responded…drum roll please…”Lose weight.”    Yes, you read that right.  Lose weight was the end all cure for my back pain.  I AM NOT OVERWEIGHT!  I JUST HAVE LARGE BREASTS is what I wanted to scream.  With a  little motivation and inspiration from Jared, I aim to: budge the weight in my breasts to alleviate back pain and strengthen my lower back and abs in order to carry my children in-utero and always.  I am sure many of you are sitting there screaming at your screen saying, “Get a breast reduction.”   I will if my weight loss doesn’t alleviate my back pain AFTER I have children NOT before.

Instead of focusing on less of something, let’s add more.  More of anything that makes you feel good, whole, relaxed, and not guilty.   For one moment in time, let’s step away from being so hard on ourselves, from the scales, media and from the pressure.  There are so many things we can change about ourselves that don’t involve weight loss and MindBodyGreen couldn’t have said it better.

Continuing the journey…

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It’s A Lifestyle Not A Diet

HappyWomanSunriseEnlightened-850x400On a journey…a journey to wellness if you will. I actually started a few months ago and just now getting around to writing a blog about it.  It’s been a long time coming.  It has had its setbacks over time but I am on the road…the right road and all I can say is this:  It feels damn good!

This journey involves a huge transformation, an overhaul of my life and lifestyle, a preparation for livelihood, for my future children, for my future husband and family and for all that is to come.

The journey involves addressing several areas/things in my life.  We all love lists, don’t we?  Ta-dah! Here is a list of the things of my GOALS (thinking, feeling and writing in the positive):

-Decrease stress levels and how to it handle it
-More nights with 6+ hours of sleep
-Weight loss (25 lbs)- down 113#
-Eliminate chronic back pain
√-Healthy eating
√-Decrease alcohol intake
√-Be more active

Simple, right?  Not so much.  I am successful most days than others. I have my ups and downs.   I may be great for a couple of weeks and then not for a few.  What’s the saying?  It takes three weeks to form a habit or something like that.  I always seem to fail right around that time period.  But I don’t kick myself in the rear for daily failures.  I don’t let it stop me. I accept them and start over the next day and try to do better.  I remind myself this is a process and it WILL take time to get where I want and NEED to be.  It helps to have the support of a person (or a few) you can make yourself accountable to.  I know.  I know.  Please don’t get upset me.  I know you should make yourself accountable to no one but yourself.  Meh.  Doesn’t work so well with me.  It may work when I get to my “maintain” state, where I am doing things like it’s a reflex, like it’s natural, like duh.  So don’t mind me if in the meantime, I lean on my “coach” who provides just the right amount of support, encouragement to keep me motivated on this journey to wellness.  What better way than to have a holistic health coach at your side.  Seriously, if you need a boost, you need to contact him here.   He is one amazing, knowledgeable coach and I don’t know what I would do without him.  He is always there when I have a question or need to get back on track with my journey.  Side note:   I am not getting paid for any of this.

So join me on my journey to wellness.  To keep me accountable, I’m going to start blogging about how it’s going, new healthy recipes, and to keep it real, my struggles and successes. Here’s to wellness!

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It’s Never #Quiet


It’s Never Quiet

I live in San Francisco.  
I live in a house near a busy street, where buses and cars travel all day and night.
I live near two schools and a probation center. 
I live in a house where the TV is always on.
I live in an old house that settles all the time.
I work in a busy office building on the fifth floor.
I work in a cubicle where people don’t know what it means to be quiet.
I wear headphones and listen to music Monday through Friday 8-4 to drown out the background noise.  Ironic, I know.
I drive a car through traffic.
Cars.  Motorcycles.  Very loud ones. 
Muni. Underground trains. 
Garbage trucks.  Street sweepers.  Lawn mowers.  Leaf blowers.
Homeless people.
People.  Lots of them. 
Talking.  Screaming. Laughing.
Birds chirping. 
Dogs barking.
Cats meowing.  Cats in heat.
Wind and rain. 
Dishwasher. Wash machine.  Dryer.  Vacuum. 
Alarm clock.
Coffee maker. 
Ringing phones. 
Heart beating.
It’s never quiet.
How do you find quiet in all the #noise?  

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What Your Relationship Needs from You

All relationships require work.  They don’t just materialize and maintain themselves, and they aren’t built on a foundation of convenience either.  They take time and patience and two people who are willing to put in the effort.

Here’s how to do your part – nine things your relationships need from you:

1.  Attention

Neglect based on lack of attention damages relationships far more often than malicious abuse.  There’s nothing more vital to the bond you share with others than simply being there for them.

When we pay attention to each other we breathe new life into each other.  With frequent attention and affection our relationships flourish, and we as individuals grow stronger.  This is the side effect of a good relationship – we help heal each other’s wounds and support each other’s strengths.

Bottom line:  Stay in close touch with those who matter to you – communicate openly on a regular basis.  Not because it’s convenient, but because these people are worth the extra effort.

2.  Trust

The entire fabric of our society – people working, living and breathing together – relies on the positive beliefs we have about each other – a subtle, inherent trust.  This trust is the glue that holds every peaceful civilization together.  Which is why trust is the greatest compliment you can give a person, even greater than love.

The only way to build this trust, or find out if someone is trustworthy, is to trust them.  When you do, without a doubt, you’ll automatically get one of two results:  A friend for life or a lesson for life.  Either way the outcome is positive – you determine which relationships are worth your long-term attention. 

3.  Honesty

When your intentions are good and your cause is just, honesty will always help you.  When your heart is open to love and truth, your lips will not utter lies that haunt you.  When people are honest with each other up front, the truth may hurt sooner, but the suffering always dies faster, and out of this suffering comes growth.

Be honest about what’s right, as well as what needs to be changed.  Be honest about what you want a relationship and how you want to be treated.  Be honest with every aspect of your relationships, always.

The bottom line is that relationships don’t hurt.  Lying, cheating and twisting reality until it screws with someone’s emotions is what hurts.  Never mess with someone’s feelings just because you’re unsure of your own.  If you are unsure in any way, be sure to say so.  Always be open and honest.

4.  Loyalty

Stand by those you care about in their darkest moments, not because you want to stand in the dark, but because you don’t want them to either.  Brave the shadows alongside them until they’re able to find the light.  On the flipside, stand by these same people on their sunniest days, not because you want to scorch your skin, but because you’re not afraid to let them shine bright.

In other words, be loyal.  You can’t promise to be there for someone for the rest of their life, but you can sincerely be there for them for the rest of yours.  When it comes to relationships, remaining faithful is never an option, but a priority.  Loyalty means the world.

5.  Teamwork

The most important trip you will ever take in life is meeting others half way.  You will achieve far more by working with people, rather than working alone or against them.

That’s what healthy relationships are all about – teamwork.  The strength of every relationship depends on the strength of its members, and the strength of each member depends on the quality of their relationships.

Anyone who helps you to make your half-hearted attempts more whole-hearted through passion, love and teamwork, is a precious friend and teacher.  They are part of your dream team.  These people are out there.  Connect with them and conquer the world together. 

6.  Acceptance

There’s no such thing as a perfect relationship.  Even if it seems perfect now, it won’t always be.  Imperfection, however, is real and beautiful.  It’s how two people accept and deal with the imperfections of a relationship that make it ideal.

The quality of the happiness between two people grows in direct proportion to their acceptance, and in inverse proportion to their intolerance and expectations.  They must appreciate their similarities and respect their differences.

7.  Forgiveness

Forgiveness is one of the greatest virtues to which you should always seek.  Imagine if everyone you knew was willing both to apologize and to accept an apology.  Is there any problem that you all would not be able to solve?

The willingness to admit that we are all human, and to forgive sincerely, is a sign of your emotional strength and maturity.  Ultimately, this forgiveness is for you.  It sets you free from the shackles of the past so you can take the future in stride, regardless of whether you choose to bring certain people along for the ride.

Forgiveness is not saying, “What you did is OK.”  It is saying, “I’m not going to let what you did ruin my happiness forever.”

Forgiveness is YOUR remedy.

8.  Empathy

Sometimes we feel as though the world is crashing down around us, as if the pain we are experiencing is unique only to us in this moment.  This, of course, is far from the truth.  In fact, the very demons that torment each of us torment others all over the world.  It is our challenges and pain that connect us at the deepest level.  We are all in this together and we should treat each other as such.

If you think about the people who have had the greatest positive effect on your life – the ones who truly made a difference – you will likely realize that they aren’t the ones that tried to give you all the answers or solve all your problems.  They’re the ones who sat silently with you when you needed a moment to think, who lent you a shoulder when you needed to cry, and who tolerated not having all the answers, but stood beside you anyway.  Be this person for the people you care about.

9.  Self Love

Relationships don’t create joy, they reflect it.  Joy comes from within.  Relationships are simply mirrors of the combined joy that two people have as individuals.  What you see in the mirror is what you see in your relationships.  Your disappointment in others perfectly reflects your disappointment in yourself.  Your acceptance of others perfectly reflects your acceptance of yourself.  Thus, the first step to having healthy relationship with anyone else is to have a healthy relationship with yourself.

You are powerful and beautiful when you love yourself.  So get up, look in the mirror and say, “I love you, and I mean it!”

Also, respect yourself enough to never feel guilty about removing toxic people from your life.  It doesn’t matter whether these people are relatives, romantic interests, coworkers, old friends, or new acquaintances – you don’t have to make room in your life for people who make you feel like you’re less than you are.

From: Marc And Angel

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Single Woman’s Bucket List…Update!

lens1960483_1313388179bucket_listBack in November 2011, I wrote a “Single Woman’s Bucket List, based on an article in Glamour and when I was single.  I am no longer single.  However, I thought it was a good time to review this list, make some changes (indicated in bold) and give some updates (indicated  in italics).  Here it goes….

To Build Your Confidence…

1. Go to a movie alone.

2. Work out regularly.  It doesn’t have to be the gym but do something active DAILY.  

3. Try surfing, water-skiing, or some activity you don’t already know how to do. Could be riding a bicycle.  I think I should tackle this little problem I have of open waters.  

4. Take out the trash, set a mousetrap, do your taxes, build a bookcase.

5. Live alone.

6. Train for (and finish) a huge physical test like a half-marathon.

7. Go to a scary doctor’s appointment by yourself.

8. Quit your job. It feels so good to take a job and shove it (and not be affecting anyone else’s livelihood).

9. Fly to a foreign country by yourself.  I have flown to Mexico several times alone.  I know it’s not so foreign but it counts, right?

10. Learn to stand up for yourself.

To Be Able to Look Back and Say “I Had Fun”…

11. Witness something once-in-a-lifetime, like Jokulsarlon, a lake next to a melting glacier in Iceland.

12. Do something daring, like sky diving or bungee jumping.  I bought a living social deal to sky dive so I am committed to doing it now.  Yikes! 

13. Get drunk during the day, just because you can.

14. Go on a date with someone who actually makes you nervous. This happened on March 16, 2013.  I thought I was going to throw up for the first hour of the date.  

15. Go out with an older man who takes you somewhere nice and makes you feel like a million bucks.

16. Go out with a guy who makes you laugh ‘til it hurts. This too happened on my date mentioned in #14 and has happened every day since.

To Get Perspective…

17.  Be a good wingwoman. It’s not always about you.

18. Go a day or a week without using the Internet or social media.  

19. Volunteer.

To Make You Appreciate the Next Guy…

20. Do at least one Valentine’s Day alone.  I had a “Single Awareness
Party on Valentine’s Day.  Everyone who was single had to bring someone else to the party that was single of the opposite sex.  Good times! 

21. Attend a wedding (or 15) alone.

22. Date the creeps. You’ll really value the nice guys afterward. I am officially done dating the creeps.  Never again! I can say I have found quit the gentleman.  See #14 and #16 above.   Hmmm, maybe I should write a blog about this magical March 14th date and how it all began.  It’s quite a story.   

To Make You Feel Sexy and Attractive…

23. Buy yourself some flowersIt’s part of my weekly shopping at Trader Joe’s.  I even decided to pick some flowers from my backyard, which smell heavenly and which I didn’t realize existed since I NEVER go into my backyard.  I know.  That’s weird, right?  Oh well.   

24. Invest in a LBD (little black dress) and some sexy stilettos. I have several little black dresses and seriously need to stop shopping online. 

25. Sit at a bar by yourself and drink a martini. Cool. I’d like to cross this one off as completed because I have done this several times while my friends go outside to smoke and left me there for a LOOOONG time.  I don’t care what you say, it counts! 😀 

26. Buy something frivolous and expensive that you LOVE wearing.

To Make the Most of Your Free Time…

27. Finish all your schooling if you can. Not that it was ever my goal to go to grad school, but I did.  But I will never stop learning and considering going back again and getting another Master’s degree.  I am such an over achiever.  😀 

28. Throw yourself into something time-consuming, like learning a foreign language. You may not have time to do this again until you retire and the kids are off to college.  I registered online at Duolingo to learn Spanish.  It’s free! 

To Make Yourself a Better Partner in the Future…

29. Make a list of all your faults.  I haven’t made a list but we sure have talked about it.  Maybe I will start a list just to make sure I am not forgetting anything.  

30. Learn to cook well. Spaghetti and Meatballs anyone?  

31. Get some hobbies. Something’s gotta keep you occupied—plus it’ll make you seem interesting. Blogging and scrap booking are it! 

32. Let your married friends edit your online dating profile.  Even though I do not have an online dating profile, I decided to leave this one for those of you who do.  It sounds interesting and honest!

33. Get your finances in order.   I am officially out of debt and it feels  AH-MAZING.  I will no longer buy anything I cannot pay cash for.  No cash.  No buying.  No exceptions! It’s the rule! 

To Appreciate Being Single…

34. Babysit someone’s baby for an hour.

35. Help a friend through her divorce or a bad break-up.  I was there for her and she was there for me.  

36. Host a girls-only night. I think some coupled-up women forget how much we need each other.

I don’t think I did so bad.  There are still things on the list I will knock out!

Next: Pre-Baby Bucket List! Ideas?