Archive for October, 2013

photo (5)Dear Friends on Facebook,

Hi there. We don’t get to actually talk face to face much but I have a few things that I wanted to tell you.

First of all, to those of you that seem to be doing so great in your professional life- congratulations. I have very much enjoyed watching you over the past 4 years-or-so really come into your own. You are on a great path and you clearly worked very hard to get there. Good for you. I hope all of your blessings continue and that you always remember to be grateful for what you have. Have a glass of champagne- on me.

Now for the moms, you’re doing a great job! You guys make me laugh all the time, you make me feel normal, and you give me great ideas of things I can do with my own clan. I know it probably seems like I am really caught up with my own kids, but let me tell you- your kid(s) is/are super cute! I mean that. Just remember, even though you don’t always feel like it, you’re a good mom. Have a glass of wine- on me.

To the dads that are there doing their thing- you rock. I wish everyone had a chance to have an amazing dad in their lives. I know moms out there get a lot of attention, but dads are important too. You are appreciated and you’re doing a good job. You are just as capable as we are and we ladies love you for it. And, let’s face it, there is nothing in the world cuter than a man holding a baby. Have a beer- on me.

To the dog owners, your dog is so cute too! I just want to squeeze him (all dogs are boys…). In a lot of ways I am jealous. Dogs are much more loyal, they are always happy to see you, they can be left for a few hours at a time, you can go to target without them, and they can keep up on a run. You’re a good dog mom/dad. Same goes for cats, birds, flying squirrels, etc. Have a milk bone- on me.

To those of you who are pregnant, you look beautiful! Wow, you are exactly the right size. Look at you, creating life like it’s no big deal. You are amazing. And, to you that just had a baby, you look beautiful! Wow, you are exactly the right size. Look at you, delivering babies and caring for them night and day like it’s no big deal. You are amazing. Have a nap and a Cinnabon- on me (and then tell me about it….slowly).

To those of you still trying to figure your shit out, it’s cool. I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. As long as you’re kind and hard working, it will come together. The people who are closest to you know how great you are and they will always believe in you even if you forget to yourself. Have a PBR- on me.

To those of you I don’t keep in touch with, I miss you. It might not always seem like it, but I do. I have no excuses necessarily because I know that doesn’t help anybody, but I wish I got to see you more. Remember that one time….? That was the best. I am at least grateful that I get glimpses at your life on the computer from time to time. Have one of those things we used to drink together- on me. (likely an O-bomb or busch lite)

To those of you that I may not have been kind to in the past, I am sorry. I talk about kindness on a lot and I worry that I may not have always behaved the best when I was younger. Please know, that if I hurt you in anyway, I am sorry. It was not personal. I was young and stupid. If I dated your boyfriend after you, it’s not because I was out to hurt you. It’s because 16-21 year old girls REALLY like 16-21 year old boys. If I ignored you in the hallway, it was likely unintentional and I’m sorry. If I was too caught up in my own non-sense to notice your non-sense, I’m sorry. 16 year olds are selfish. And, for those of you that were mean to me, it is all forgiven. There were more than a few nights someone’s insensitive comment had me in tears, but I like to believe that if you could do it over again you would. If it makes you feel any better, I’ll do my best to make sure my kids are kind and that we talk about the importance of putting others first. Have some humble pie- on me.

To the peeps that I pretty much only know because of facebook, I’m so glad we had a chance to meet. In any other time we would have continued to go our separate ways and now I have developed this interesting little relationship with you. I ‘like’ your comments, you ‘like’ my comments, you make me laugh, I worry about whether or not I am making you laugh. You shared that funny political thing that one time and I shared it because it was too good not to. You remember… Glad we’re friends now. Have a, uh, I have no idea what you like actually.

To those people who have had to go through some tough stuff lately, you have my heart. I cry with you, I laugh with you, I worry with you, and I remember with you even from a distance. You are not alone even though it might feel like it sometimes. Have a hug- on me.

To the idiots that disagree with me politically, don’t worry, I know you call me an idiot too. Isn’t that wonderful?! We can have healthy debates about the election one day (I’m moving to Canada!) and then be back to normal life the next day (I love pumpkin spice lattes!). Cheers to short term memories and knowing what really matters!

That’s what is great about this time we live in. We can look at the conveniences of this world and either scoff at the sometimes ridiculousness that it is, or we can marvel at it’s triumph. We can be grateful that we have this opportunity to stay in touch with, share our stories/work/art/lives with, and get support from hundreds of people on a daily basis. I am very grateful for that. I am very grateful to those of you who support me. I am very grateful that I had this opportunity to share these thoughts with all of you. Thank you for sharing your time/family/stories/ideas/life with me. 🙂

(If you feel this way too, share this with your friends as well. In other words, share the love.)

photo (4)The government is shut down, we are in total debt crisis mode, no one likes congress, Cruz and Palin are the epitome of crazy-pants, and Obama apparently needs to put down the Quran. What a mess.

Since you asked…. what is my solution?

1. Term limits for Senate/House. Why? Because there is like a 9% approval rating and 90% re-election. This happens because districts/states have pretty consistent voters. For example, where I live: Illinois is almost always going to vote democrat. Lake County Illinois is almost always going to vote republican. It is very hard for an incumbent to lose an election when the person running against him/her is the opposite of what the state/district wants. Limit them to 2-3 terms! That way, they won’t be so motivated about getting re-elected or what their ‘party’ thinks. They may just vote for what is ‘right’. And, worse case scenario- they are gone in a couple years.

2. Set amounts for campaigns. I think the single best way to keep money corruption out of politics is to allow everyone the same amount of money for their campaigns. They still have to raise the money themselves, but this way it doesn’t just allow the richest candidate to win (or the candidate with the richest supporters). Not sure what the number should be, maybe $1 million for congress, and $4 million for president. I know this sounds crazy, but we need way less money in politics. This day and age, 90% of publicity is free! News, Internet, Social Media, etc. is cheap. We have a ridiculous deficit, people starving in our streets, and yet we are spending billions on campaigns. No more I say! Oh, and, you can’t keep the left over money from your campaign. That’s just crazy.

3. Three month election season. That’s right, no more 18 month political nightmares. You get three months. If you can’t get your message across in 3 months, you don’t deserve to be in office. Like I said above, with the speed of news, internet, twitter, etc. you don’t need time or money. You need a good message. 3 months, 3 debates (where you actually have to answer the questions), and done.

4. Once you lose, you have to play nice. The people voted for what they wanted. If you lose, you don’t get to pout in the corner until you get your way. It is your responsibility, your duty, to cooperate for the betterment of the country you vowed to serve. Admitting that you are going to stand in the way of progress should be considered treason! It is one thing to debate and negotiate, but if all we do is fight, only our most susceptible citizens suffer.

5. No more using ‘God’ as your reason for anything. You love Jesus? Great! I’m very happy for you. But, we have separation of church and state. You don’t get to use Christianity as your reason for political decisions. Morals, yes. Jesus, no. And, for the love of God (see what I did there), no saying that our founding fathers established this a christian nation. That is the opposite of true. Lastly, you can’t talk about your love for Jesus while condemning our poor, hating our gays, and killing human beings in war. WWJD?

6. No passing laws that don’t apply to the politicians that passed the law. For example, you want to drug test your welfare recipients, you need to pass one too. You suspend worker’s pay in a government shut down, your’s gets suspended too. You want to hold teachers accountable for their work, you need to be accountable for yours.

7. Being a congressmen should not make you rich. You should not vote to give yourself a raise. You should not get a life time of pay. You should not benefit from relationships with lobbyists and get a cush job for the rest of your life bringing in 6 figures for no work. That happens by the way… The more we keep money out of politics, the more we can ensure the politicians are in the job for the right reason. People don’t get into teaching because they want to get rich; they do it because they are passionate about the work and the money comes second. It should be the same for our politicians.

8. Non-medically trained, male politicians don’t get to talk about my lady parts. While I’m at, no non-medically trained female politicians either. This one should be so obvious that I shouldn’t need to say it, but alas, here I go. I can’t ‘shut this whole thing down’! Rape is not ‘a method of conception’. Vaccines don’t cause retardation. And, don’t you dare talk about what god wants for my vagina. I thought we already settled all of this?!

There, did I just solve all of our problems?

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Dear Dad at the grocery store,

Happy Columbus day! I am going to make a lot of assumptions in this letter because I don’t know your story, but I picked up a lot from eavesdropping on you and your…uh… energetic boys today at Jewel. I must say, I LOVE seeing men out with their children at the grocery store. You are all obviously capable, but this job is still done overwhelmingly by moms. The reason I love it is because I know that after you do it, you must appreciate your wife even more than you normally do. It is a thankless job for most mothers: managing the budget of how much you can spend, buying ‘healthy’ food that people are going to complain about, having to say ‘no’ over and over and over again down each aisle, getting stares from people that apparently have never been around children in their life and are probably wondering why they are always so damn loud….

Overall, though, I think you did a great job. Here were some of my favorite parts.


Dad: dang it guys, we just have to get through this and then I don’t care what you do for the rest of the day!


Boy 1: Dad, can we get this?! (holding up a box of some ridiculous cereal probably called ‘diabete-Os’)

Dad: No! Mom said we can’t get ANYTHING that is not on this list.


Boy 2: Hey, he hit me!

Dad: I couldn’t care less.


(out in the parking lost)

Dad: Stop being maniacs! I swear if you get hit by a car I’m going to keep walking.

End Scene

I guess I just wanted you to know that although the trip was rough on you, you made mine that much better. I also enjoyed seeing your appearance. You were not unlike a lot of moms I see at Target with their kids: messy hair, sweat pants, wild eyes, desperation seeping from your pores. Don’t worry, I am assuming it is back to work tomorrow for you and school for the boys. Your grocery shopping days are likely few and far between. Just remember that when your wife comes home from work- give her a big kiss and offer to rub her feet.



Well, we have all heard the evils of beef and the praises of turkey over the years. I don’t necessarily believe that beef is bad, but I know I shouldn’t eat too much of it. Not to mention, the ‘good’ beef (aka pasture raised) is more expensive. I would rather eat a little bit less of it and get the better quality… Anyway, back to turkey. How many of you have gone to a restaurant and ordered a ‘turkey burger’? Oh, just you? You’re weird! We all know that turkey burgers are bland and dry and not even in the same ball park as beef. But, what if I told you I have a trick that makes turkey burgers not only tasty but healthier? What!? (oh, and please forgive the crappy pictures taken from my phone in horrible lighting!)

Step 1. Turkey is very lean and needs to be cooked to 165 degrees and therefore usually turns out dry. But, if you add some thing to the ground meet when you are making the patties, the meat doesn’t dry out. My secret ingredient? Apples! That’s right finely diced granny smith apples! It keeps the meat moist (that’s right– MOIST—I know some of you hate that word) and you can NOT taste the apples at all. Just peel the apple, finely dice it (or use a food processor if you have one) and mix it in with the meet. I use 1 apple for every pound of turkey. Then just make the patties like normal.

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Step 2. Turkey burgers are hard to do on the grill. By the time they are cooked thru in the middle they are usually charred on the outside and DRY. We’ve all been to the picnic where you want to dunk your burger in your beer because it is so over cooked. To avoid this I make my turkey burger inside. I start in a super hot skillet. Sear the meat on each side (approx. 2 mins.) and then finish on a baking sheet in the oven (350 for 5-10 min. depending on how thick you made your patties). The oven will make sure they cook in the middle and makes it easy to add cheese the last 3 mins.

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Step 3. Toppings! A good quality beef burger might be great on the plain side because the natural flavors are so good. Turkey needs a little more help. Prepare good toppings. Avocado, carmelized onions, tomato, bacon (!), good cheese (if you put American processed cheese on a delicious turkey burger I might find you and punch you, there are so many options- brie goes great with the apple, gouda regular or smoked, etc.), garlic aioli, and so on. I like avocado, onions, tomato, and mayo on mine but I mix it up. By the way, this is delicious with or without a bun. In the picture I had mine on a brioche bun- obviously a cheat day! So worth it!

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Well, there you have it. Cheers to never making a sucky turkey burger ever again!

***this is the 2nd post in my how-to series. Click here to see the first one. Stay tuned for more over the next week.**** And, LIKE candysbrainblog on facebook to see more regular posts, tips, and non-sense. 🙂

food pyramidAs anyone who reads this blog probably knows, I am border-line Paleo/gluten-free. This is not a diet to lose weight (although I have lost a good amount of weight), it is a way of eating that makes me feel better. I have more energy, I have control over my cravings (for maybe the first time in my adult life), and I am never hungry. I say border-line because I still cheat, I still allow some dairy, and I’ll never give up pizza and beer. But, 90% of the time, I am pretty good.

Even though I believe this way of eating works for me, there is a TON of controversy about this ‘diet’. Do a little research and people will tell you a million reasons why it’s bad. You’ll see comments like ‘too hard to maintain’; ‘too much cholesterol’; ‘everything is fine in moderation’. This post is here to answer some of that criticism, as well as explain why, for some of us, this is a great option, and tell you how to fail at paleo.

First, How to fail….

1. Replacing ‘bad’ foods with ‘gluten-free’ foods. This is probably the #1 problem with this way of eating. People give up wheat bread and replace it with gluten-free bread. Give up regular cereal for rice cereal. Give up regular cookies for the wheat-free varities. Not only will you not lose weight this way, you will not get healthier! Not even a little. Sure, these are great options for people with wheat allergies or celiac disease, but for the average joe or joanne, this is a bad option. If you want to do well on this diet for weight loss and health, skip the breads, cereals, and cookies all together. How do you know what to avoid? Anything that comes in a package or has a commercial should be skipped.

2. Thinking that you can’t have toast so you just eat cheese and bacon. Remember the Atkins diet? That is why there was so much criticism about Atkins: people took out bread but continued to eat horribly unhealthy foods. They still lost weight, but their cholesterol shot thru the roof and they probably never pooped. Just because it doesn’t have wheat or carbs, doesn’t mean you can or should eat it. Potato chips, burgers, bacon, cheese, diet pop, etc. are all things that should be eaten in moderation or, in the case of pop, avoided all together regardless of what diet you are on.

3. Getting caught up with ‘Paleo’ desserts/pancakes/cookies…Just look at pinterest for the perfect examples. Did you know you can make Paleo chocolate cake in a cup? Did you know you can make Paleo pancakes, cupcakes, brownies, muffins, etc? Again, just because it is Paleo, doesn’t give you a pass. These are great options for the occasional celebration if wheat products upset your stomach, but not good for daily eating.

The idea of Paleo eating is eating with common sense. Is it a fruit or vegetable? Good. Is it a healthy form of animal protein? Good. Was it created in a lab? Bad. Was it processed, packaged, marketed? Bad. Does it last for more than a week on a shelf? Bad. I think you get the point.

Now to address some of the criticisms.

1. Too hard to follow: Sure you are giving up a lot of foods that you formerly loved (bread/pasta/treats), but after that part is accepted, there isn’t an easier diet on the planet. I have never counted a calorie, worried about my portions, or felt deprived since eating this way. If you follow the basic rules, it is simple to follow. I don’t worry about how much fat is in an avocado, because it is good fat. I don’t worry about the size of my dinner, because it is more than half vegetables. I don’t worry about counting carbs, because my carbs are fruits and veggies.

2. Too much fat and cholesterol: If you actually do the research on this way of eating, you’ll know that this is not a big deal at all. 1. Majority of the fat is healthy fat. 2. Your body begins to get its energy from fat instead of carbs and therefore you can have more. 3. Fat is filling and you end up eating less food as a result. 4. Like I mentioned before, it is not a free pass to eat bacon all day every day (although, many paleo-peeps don’t worry about the saturated fat at all). 5. Many people actually see a decrease in weight, blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol on this diet because they have cut out all the other CRAP (not to mention improved digestion). With that said though, you have to eat the right way- veggies first!

3. Everything is fine in moderation: I agree. Totally. The problem is, I don’t eat bread in moderation. If you gave me a loaf of french bread and a stick of butter, I could finish it with no problem. To you that might sound crazy. To me it is crazy that someone could finish a pint of ice cream in one sitting- yuck! But, I bet for some of you that would be a metaphorical piece of cake. We all have our issues. Just like you can’t tell an alcoholic that alcohol is fine in moderation, you can’t expect me to hold back with bread. It’s so good when it hits your lips….

Since eating this way, my husband and I have both lost weight, and my blood work is perfect. My children are eating tomatoes and kale and onions and almonds and fish. They are learning to like and appreciate ‘real’ foods. Sure they would still prefer lucky charms to eggs, but they are kids. It is my job as a parent to make sure they getting the foods they need to help them learn and grow and become healthy adults.

***stay tuned for more how-to blogs over the next week***