Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Delicious Mixed Berry and Sour Cream Scones


I've been experimenting with scones lately, so much so that I ran out of flour in record time. That almost never happens to me. I've been baking so much that I'm sort of teaching myself some expertise in certain areas. By no mean am I a classically trained pastry chef but I can whip up a mean batch of banana bread or berry scones from scratch! I recently did a baking demo in Boston and wanted to share the recipe that was an incredible success by all the taste testers! It was my first time using a glaze as well so I was over the mood excited with the positive reinforcement of my baked goodness!



2 cups of all purpose flour (and a little extra for surfaces)
2 tsp of baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp sugar
1/3 cup cold butter
1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup of mixed berries, can be fresh or frozen



Directions, super easy: 
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • Combine all dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar). 
  • Cut butter into small pieces then "cut" into flour mixture with forks or pastry cutter. Tip: Use a cheese grater and very cold/frozen butter to "cut" butter in.
  • Mix berries into the flour mixture. 
  • In a separate bowl, combine milk and sour cream. 
  • Pour the wet combo into dry and blend until a sticky mixture forms. Tip: Use your floured hands if necessary. 
  • Put on floured surface and roll out. *I simply pat with my hands and kept workin' the dough.
  • You can use a round cutter or make triangles before moving to the lined baking sheet. *I used a cookie cutter 
  • Optional: Brush butter on top to add a crisp golden crust when baking
  • Bake at 425 for about 15 minutes.


Some would say that scones are only worth of breakfast but I beg to differ. I could eat these delicious scones pretty much any time of the day. These are best served hot out of the oven but if you want to save them, wait until they are cool and store them, room temp and covered (like in tupperware). These don't last long in our house but would keep for a few days, remaining just as tasty!

Have you ever tried your hand at scones?


Friday, June 24, 2016

Jacq's Organics


I met Barbara of Jacq's Organics at last year's W.E.L.L. Summit. Not only did she bring samples of her unavoidably awesome green smoothie face masque and scrub but she was an absolute delight to chat with in person. My only regret is that I didn't get the chance to chat with her more, to connect and get to know her and more about her brand. Perhaps this year's summit? We shall see.

Barbara was kind enough to share a few of her products with me so that I could share with you, my delightful readers, my thoughts on what she's doing down there in Florida.

Green Smoothie Masque and Scrub: This is my favorite to use when I'm feeling blotchy or ready to break out. The masque is perfect to make my skin feel soft and tight plus I don't have to worry about harmful ingredients. Barbara and team use essential oils, almond meal, ginger rosemary, peppermint and more recognizable ingredients to provide a safe, effective and nutrient rich option for face mask Sunday (or whatever weekly self care holiday you celebrate). You can never have too many face masks that you love!

Rosemary and Lime Face Cleanser: Face cleanser, you obvi need one. I've tried many different kinds some of which, though natural, have still caused irritation to dry patches of my sensitive skin. Finding a good balance between clean and moisturizing and gentle is sometimes not as easy as you'd think. With the Jacq's Rosemary and Lime cleaner, I found that it did the trick without leaving my skin feeling dry and irritated. Made with a combination of oils (Japanese Camellia, rosemary, eucalyptus) and organic coconut and calendula, I would trust this even to use on kids.

Balancing Carrot Con Leche Face Toner: Do you tone after cleansing? You probably should. I never used to but am a recent convert. The blend from Jacq's Organics works to restore your face's pH balance while removing excess dirt/oils left after cleansing... yes, after cleansing. The scent isn't overpowering and my skin loves to tingly and refreshed after use. I recommend using after washing and before you serum or face oil.

I can't wait to see what Barbara and her team have in store for the brand and their product lines. I love seeing a line with heart and great products getting a little extra love so please check out the Jacq's Organics site and see for yourself!

Find Jacq's Organics online, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!


Monday, June 20, 2016

If you think our nation has a mental health crisis....

Ten percent of US homicides, he estimates based on an analysis of the relevant studies, are committed by the untreated severely mentally ill—like my schizophrenic cousin. And, he says: "I'm thinking that's a conservative estimate." Schizophrenic. Killer. My Cousin. via Mother Jones

If you talk to mental health professionals, you'll hear almost the same thing every time. Resources are scarce and support is lacking in this country. Not nearly every person who has a form of mental illness will kill but there are some questions of whether the Orlando shooter, as well as previous massacres, had mental illness attributed to the actions of that particular person. It's not uncommon for those will mental illness to exhibit violent behaviors but their violence is more likely to be directed at themselves, more so than others.  Either way you slice it, there should be help out there for those seeking treatment for a myriad of mental health issues.

The harsh reality is that this is a pretty large and expansive problem. From our nation's homeless (often untreated with no place to go) and veteran populations (PTSD) to the suicide rates of teens battling depression, there are various angles that you can look at the effects of  poor mental health and treatment. A statistic that stuck out to me as the real sign of the problem: Suicide claims the lives of 38,000 Americans per year. Of these 38,000, 90% are related to mental illness. This is more deaths than caused by homicide, prostate cancer and car accidents. Wowzers.

"We have replaced the hospital bed with the jail cell, the homeless shelter and the coffin," says Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa., a child psychologist leading an effort to remodel the mental health system. "How is that compassionate?" Cost of Not Caring: Nowhere to Go

So those people that need help, where do they go? Our nation's mental health system is in serious neglect. Since the recession, massive cuts to hospital beds due to budgets and insurance requirements have left many seeking help no place to go. Of all the articles that I read on the issue, one of the things that kept coming up over and over again was that families that wanted to help their loved ones, with no place to take them, were left resorting to calling the police or taking them to the emergency room. "Mental health bed shortages are a national, man-made disaster that people rarely notice until it affects them. We've got patients living in our emergency departments" - Dr. Ray Keller


I urge you to read The Cost of Not Caring: Nowhere to Go. This is a very detailed article on the problems that the country faces in regard to mental illness. It's really a problem that we cannot ignore any longer. It's a health crisis if ever there was one. So I know I talk about action and well, this one is a tough one to act on... but here's a step for you to personally take. Remove the stigma from mental illness. Whether severe, like Schizophrenia or Bi-polar disorder, or more commonplace in your everyday, depression and anxiety.  The fact of the matter is that about 1 in 5 adults over the age of 18 suffers from a diagnosable mental disorder in any given year. That means, that it's very likely that you know someone suffering from some form of mental illness. Hell, I'll put it out there, I've had issues with anxiety and panic attacks. Am I ashamed of it? Nah, because I have been fortunate enough to have support of family and friends to get me through and have health professionals in my life who were able to help me address problems. Unfortunately, not everyone has this support system in place.

So remove the stigma from your mindset and explain it to those around you. Find out what your state's representatives stand on mental health reform. Some states offer ways that you can show your support. Senator Chris Murphy of CT has an issues page, show your support of those initiatives. Do your research on your reps stances and shoot them an email or call their office. It's of the utmost importance that our lawmakers undo the devolution of the mental health system in our country. This isn't about preventing mass shootings, though you never know, this is about helping real people with real problems, some of which are totally able to be solved.

Other articles you might be interested in:

19 Statistics That Prove Mental Illness is More Prominent Than You Think
Nearly 1 in Five Americans Suffer Mental Illness Each Year
Solutions to Mental Illness in America

Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Friday, June 17, 2016

If You Think Toxic Masculinity is a Problem...

So this is an interesting thing to talk about and then take action on. I mean, it's one of those things that some admit is a real problem while others will nonchalantly say "boys will be boys." Sure, I have a toddler boy and there are some things that he does where I'm like, what a total boy. Those things are like wanting to jump off the deck with no fear of hurting himself or maybe trying to pick up a worm in the dirt and then eat it. These things are little boy behaviors that I believe are ingrained in their crazy little minds perhaps because I ate soft cheese while I was pregnant; we'll never know. But the things that are taught and learned from a very young age are the things that make that boy a man, and what kind of man they become, emotionally and in how they act.

When you look at the Orlando shooter under a microscope,  you'll see that it's not just about being a radical terrorist, actually there are far more signs of toxic masculinity than there are any ties to ISIS or Islamic terrorism. From a very early age, the Orlando gunman's violent behavior was manifesting itself already. He was disruptive in class, hit other students and defied authority. He had issues with English and though his teachers thought he was intelligent, they were having difficulty helping to control his behavior. Talking to a friend, her first thought was, that someone was failing him at home. I tend to agree. Was Omar Mateen able to express his feelings or was he told that men don't cry, men don't show their emotions? We'll never know but the way that a boy is raised, it's an important thing to make note of.

"So, to be excruciatingly clear, toxic masculinity is a specific model of manhood, geared towards dominance and control. It’s a manhood that views women and LGBT people as inferior, sees sex as an act not of affection but domination, and which valorizes violence as the way to prove one’s self to the world.
Toxic masculinity aspires to toughness but is, in fact, an ideology of living in fear: The fear of ever seeming soft, tender, weak, or somehow less than manly. This insecurity is perhaps the most stalwart defining feature of toxic masculinity. " - via SALON

So here's the thing, toxic masculinity isn't just "there" when a kid is born. There are reasons that, over time, a young boy grows into a man that can exhibit varying degrees of toxic masculinity. There are societal cues that they see through male role models or on television/in movies. There are things that are said to you boys "Act like a man!", "Boys don't cry" etc, can build this idea that to be tender and show your emotions is to be viewed as weak and feminine, when in actuality, to love, be tender and express yourself is an act of being human. Imagine suppressing all your feelings until they erupt into some sort of violent display? I mean, I guess that's what we're saying here right? Omar Mateen spent years building on violent, abusive behavior, showing that he was quick to anger, abused his wife and was enraged by seeing two men kiss. This didn't happen overnight. This sh!t had been boiling up for some time and was ready to blow in a big time way. Add a dash of self loathing (because it appears as though he may have actually been a closeted homosexual who had no way of being comfortable with himself), easy access to guns and a hatred of gays and you have a real recipe for disaster.


"The emotionally damaging “masculinization” of boys starts even before boyhood, in infancy. Psychologist Terry Real, in his 1998 book I Don’t Want to Talk About It: Overcoming the Secret Legacy of Male Depression, highlights numerous studies which find that parents often unconsciously begin projecting a kind of innate “manliness”—and thus, a diminished need for comfort, protection and affection—onto baby boys as young as newborns." - via SALON

So if we're talking about toxic masculinity, we might as well talk about rape culture as well. Right before the Orlando shooting, there was a widely publicized rape case involving Brock Turner, a white, privileged athlete. He got away VERY easily with the rape of an unconscious woman. Why did he rape an unconscious woman? Why does any man feel that they have the right to "take" what isn't theirs? How often do we see women being sexually assaulted, being dominated? TOO FUCKING OFTEN. In the world we live in today, a collegiate athlete is slapped on the hand after taking away a woman's dignity; her innocence. It's no wonder that boys/men are consistently fed the message that it's OK to do what you want... there's no fucking consequence to it! What the Stanford rape victim did with her statement was to bring to light the effects of what was taken from her. A boy, whom everyone called "upstanding" was still able to destroy a woman's life with little to no change to his, that is, until the internet made sure that EVERYONE had seen his face and knew his name. It's not justice, but it's something.

So here I am, like what am I supposed to do about "toxic masculinity"? Well, for one thing, I will continue to have the conversation/s with those around me. Get people talking about the dangers of the information that our society "feeds" itself.... and feed better information into the ecosystem. And for another thing, I've got a small, mold-able boy at home. Guess what? That little guy is going to know what it is to respect EVERY person in his life. He will know about consent, he will know that he can always talk to me about how he's feeling. I will tell him it's OK to cry because we are human and have feelings. I will give him love and affection and let him know that he needs to give love and affection in return. That's how you raise a man who you can be proud of.  Do you have someone impressionable that you can make an impression on? I urge you to do it. Change starts small but can have lasting effects.


Other articles you may be interested in:
The Stanford Rapist and the Orlando Shooter, two sides of the same bent coin
Many shootings are not called what they are- domestic violence.
Why are most rampage shooters men?
Toxic Masculinity is killing our men: The roots of male trauma

Thursday, June 16, 2016

If you think we have a long way to go with acceptance of diversity...

If you are an ally, you must be an active ally and truly combat homophobia and transphobia when you see it.
-from an Open Letter to Straight People on the Pulse Massacre 

This one was a tough one for me to form words about. It's not something I have personal experience with. I am a straight, white woman. While being a woman is not always a cinch, in no way, shape or form have I experienced the struggle that comes with being a real minority in this country, mainly a member of the LGBTQ community. Because I don't know the struggle, I had to reach out to those in my life who have known the struggle, who still do know the struggle. For them, the shooting in Orlando was more than just another mass shooting, this was an attack on their community as a whole, one that no doubt shook them to their core. To seek out people, with the intent to kill them, because of who they choose to love, well, that's a mother f&*%ing hate crime, people, no matter who is pulling the trigger. So if we are still in a society that harbors hatred for specific groups of people, you know we still have got some major problems with acceptance of diversity, no matter what shape, size color or sexual orientation that diversity comes in. I asked some friends of mine who I will label as lesbians just to get that out there... but they are more than just members of the LGBTQ community, they are parents, runners, teachers, travelers, designers, music lovers and the list goes on. There are so many things that can define people that I hate to name just one thing but for the purpose of this piece, I asked them what they would like to see change whether it be in regard to acceptance or legislation or just stuff in their every day lives... and I'm going to straight up quote them here. You want action items? It's all in the way that you act, teach your children to act and call out those who are acting unfairly. Here you go:

On raising a family as a lesbian couple:

"I would love to walk down the street with our two babies in tow and hold my wife's hand without fear or thinking that someone is judging us or our family. I worry about our kids and any bullying they may face because their family is 'different.'"  

"I'm tired of people judging me and my family. I'm confused by their train of thought. They say I'm damaging my children and theirs by subjecting them to this lifestyle. How does their hatred and violence make this world a better place? I'm angry because my children have to see this hate. I'm angry because it's not getting better. One day when my kids are no longer my innocent babies I'll have to explain these people to them. I'll have to remind them that we are part of the good in this world and love is far more powerful than hate."

I live in a state where this is more "accepted/embraced" but this is not how it is in the vast majority of our country. That's a problem.

And on not raising a family as a lesbian couple:

"But you're two women, one of you must want to have kids." Some people, straight or gay do not want to have kids. We should all stop judging that one.

Things you shouldn't say:

"I would like people (that I do not know on a friend level) to stop asking, "Who the mother is?!" We both are, asshole! Also, the questions about how I got pregnant and did we use a turkey baster and did we know the donor... Seriously?!" 

 "Any question regarding how I have sex." If you wouldn't ask a straight person, why would you ask a member of the LGBTQ community; out of curiosity? Yeah, no. And if you would ask a straight person, you're a perv.

"When did you know you were gay?" This is a deeply personal question and I've been asked this by people who literally just met me 5 minutes ago.  Just don't say it, people. Common sense.

Sexism exists toward the LGBTQ community:

From less offensive-->  "You're so lucky to be a lesbian! With two women it must be like communication heaven! No nagging wife/forgetful husband dynamics. Plus you can watch chick-flicks ALL THE TIME!"

To pretty offensive--> "I would love if I never again in my life have to hear a man say "Oh you're gay.  That's cool, I have no problem with that.  I mean, actually, I love lesbians," while a gross sly smile crosses his face.  Because my sexuality is not for male consumption."

The assumptions on being gay and the understanding of a person's background:

"Then there are the people who say I chose to be gay. Yes, obviously I was looking for attention so I thought being gay would be great for me. Clearly, hiding who I was for years really drew a lot of that attention I was seeking." 

"I want people to recognize that no two members of the LGBT+ community have the same back story, pains, wants, and dreams in life.  Yes, we are all one community, but no one person speaks for us all.  If a member of the community in your life expresses a view to you, accept it as theirs, but don't assume it is therefore the viewpoint of us all.  I think the one and only thing that all LGBT+ people have in common is the desire to be loved and accepted."

Our vote matters on this issue as well:

"I want to see an end to the passing of laws in our states that still allow discrimination against us.  I want people to be paying attention to the introduction of these bills, and if they don't align with their beliefs, to use their vote to remove these hateful people from our government."

"People assuming we "won" after DOMA was repealed last year. In reality, our country is just a patchwork of varying legislation on issues such as: adoption, transgender healthcare, employment, housing, public accommodations, school non-discrimination, anti-bullying, etc. In more than half of our states, LGBTQ people are not protected in regards to any of these items."  

Continue to talk about these issues, equal rights and tell your state representatives about it, too. When you see injustice, you say something. Just be like "the Boss" when he canceled his concert in NC due to the Transgender Bathroom Bill. Take a stand.

On religion:

"I wish people would stop hand-waving away their casual homophobia/prejudice in the name of their religion.  I want the concept of "Hate the sin, love the sinner" to be launched into the sun, to be perfectly honest.  I'm not personally religious, but I 100% believe in people believing in whatever faith they want, and being as open about that as they want, but not when it comes with a nice side of prejudice.  I think it is more important than ever now for people to stand up and say "This is NOT how I want my faith practiced, this is NOT what I want my religion to stand for."  Because for me, if a person says they are a supporter of the LGBT+ community, or that they love a member of that community, but they sit silently while the pastor/priest/clergy delivers a sermon on the evils of gayness, and they stay silent while members of the government spew hateful rhetoric and introduce hateful bills in the name of their religion, well, they really aren't much of a supporter.  I want people of faith who believe in inclusivity to let their voices be heard, to stop letting the voices of hate talk over them."

Here's where I take this very well thought out point and add that I am a believer in God but what I do not support is the use of God and God's "word" to attack entire groups of people. My God allowed love to exist in all it's forms. Why would he allow such love but also condemn it? It doesn't seem logical to me. So while I know this is a problem, it's up to those that do have faith to let our friends in the LGBTQ community know that they are loved and not everyone has hate in their heart. We don't just "tolerate", we LOVE and ACCEPT who they are with no stipulations on that love and acceptance.

I will end this with another quote from a friend because she was all too eloquent when stating her opinions on the subject. I want to continue this conversation because the tragic events in Orlando weren't about just one thing, but many. The Latino and LGBTQ community need our love, support, and "fight" right now. If you feel strongly, like with anything else, take some action:

"I want people to know their silence is deafening. But also, and this part is tricky, while I want allies to speak up, be heard in their support, I don't want it to be at the expense of our own voices.  And what I mean by that is, yes, please please please speak up, but please don't hush the LGBT+ community in order to do it.  I believe that regarding all minorities.  Own voices are always most needed, and the best thing an ally can do is highlight those voices.

Keep doing what you're doing, keep speaking up for all the issues and injustices that are important to you, because it means something to a lot of people.  Whether it's us, or a fellow parent afraid of sending their child to school because of gun violence, or the parents of little boys who don't want their sons growing up in a world clouded by toxic masculinity, or daughters having to deal with rape culture and misogyny.  Whatever it is, keep doing it.  Voices matter.  Your voice matters."