life lesson #634: in life you get what you tolerate

This morning I thought back to some of the moments in my life when I was too afraid to stand up for myself, too afraid to hurt someone's feelings, too timid to say "This is unacceptable. Your behavior is hurting me" so I let it go and I let it stew. I carried this anger and this sense of hurt in my heart and thought about it over and over. I always ended up thinking of things I should have said but didn't. I was afraid that I wouldn't be liked if I asked for more, if I asked to be treated properly.

Maybe it's growing older but I realize now that it's OK to ask for more. It can be something as simple as not getting what you ordered but eating it because you didn't want to make a scene. Or maybe something more. Maybe a friend is perpetually late or always on their phone when you're together. Maybe you've always hated a derogatory nickname that you're family has always called you. (I know someone whose family calls her LFG pronounced ell-eff-gee as in one word. It stands for Little Fat Girl. She was a big baby. She's never told her family how much she cringes inside and how it hurts her because she doesn't want to hurt their feelings.)

Maybe at work you take on all the jobs people dump on you because you feel like if you say something that your colleagues or your boss will be angry with you or won't like you if you don't take on all the things that they don't want to do. Its easier to just do it and be pissed off inside. That way you don't seem pushy or bitchy.

Here's the thing: they dump on you, they call you nicknames you hate, they ignore you to see what's happening on their phone because you let them. You tolerate their ugly behavior and there is no incentive for them to stop.

It's OK to ask for the entree you actually ordered. It's OK to say "When you're with me, I need you to be present and not checking your phone all the time. It makes me feel like I'm not good enough." It's OK to say "You know, I am slammed with work too. I'm sorry I can't take that on today." It's OK to say "I know you say it with love, but please don't call me that nickname. It makes me feel embarrassed."

I believe people mean well. They don't intentionally want to hurt you. They just can't read your mind. They don't know that what they are doing hurts you. Fill them in. Do it with grace, with the expectation that this behavior will change. If it doesn't? Keep reinforcing it. Again and again. If their behavior still hurts you, then change your reaction. If your friend is perpetually late and it bothers you, don't make any more dates until she gets the point. If your family or friends still call you a nickname you hate or constantly bring up one of your faults or your Achilles heel, don't respond to them. They will learn that if you are going to be in their lives, then they need to up their game and treat you with the level of respect that you have asked for.

In turn, remember, you have to do the same. Is there a behavior that you are doing that hurts someone else? Do you laugh it off because it seems silly? It may seem silly to you but to the person you are hurting, it's everything.

happy summer food: creamsicle cap'n crunch bar recipe

When I was in grammar school, summers were idyllic. I would wake up, throw on my little red swimsuit, a pair of shorts, a t-shirt, my Keds, grab some cereal and head outside on my bike with a dollar in my pocket.  We didn't have cel phones to reach out to each other but there must have been something in the air in that little town in Massachusetts. A pack of little girls all suddenly appeared outside on our bikes. After a morning of riding, hitting the children's library and exploring, we'd stop by the ravine and pick and eat blueberries until our lips were purple. Inevitably we would end up at someone's house just in time for lunch and an afternoon of swimming.

A few of my friends had pools and their moms were home. (My mom was a nurse who worked twelve hour shifts. I think now that it must have been such a relief to my mom that I was spending my days outside and supervised by a mom who would sit by the pool with us drinking Tab and reading a romance novel.) My friend's mom would make the pack of us Fluffernutters (it's a Massachusetts thing) or bologna or PB&J's with Rice Crispie or Cap'n Crunch Bars for dessert.

Sitting with my friends in the summer sun with our legs dangling in the pool as we ate homemade marshmallowy cereal bars is one of my all time favorite summer memories. Just the smell of chlorine or Cap'n Crunch makes me remember. So, when I was in the market last week and discovered limited edition Cap'n Crunch Orange Cream Pop, I knew exactly what I would make.

Orange Creamsicle is my favorite flavor of all time (our wedding cake was Creamsicle flavored!) and I thought this flavor would elevate this classic cereal/marshmallow dessert.

After making a batch and impatiently waiting for it to set and cool, I sat outside in the sun and I savored this orange vanilla treat. I closed my eyes and I was back there, with the sun on my shoulders, giggling with my girls and licking marshmallow off my fingers before diving in for an afternoon of Marco Polo.

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Happy Summer Food: Creamsicle Cap'n Crunch Bars
The classic treat with an orange vanilla flavor
  • 1 box Cap'n Crunch Orange Cream Pop Cereal
  • 1 16-ounce bag marshmallows
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange extract
  • optional: 1 bag white chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons optional: orange sugar crystals
Line a 13 x 9 casserole with parchment paper. (You can also grease the pan instead. However, using parchment paper, makes it easier to remove the bars as a whole and slice them on a cutting board.) Set aside. Add cereal to a large bowl and set aside.In a large non-stick pot, add marshmallows and butter, cooking on medium, stirring frequently. Once the marshmallows and butter have cooked down to a smooth consistency, add vanilla and orange extracts. Pour the marshmallow mixture over the cereal and mix. This is VERY sticky so coat a large spoon with non-stick spray or use your hands to mix, taking care not to crush the cereal.Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Wet your hands and pat the cereal mixture down until it is packed firmly and evenly. Optional: melt white chocolate chips in double boiler and spoon over cereal bars followed by a sprinkling of orange sugar crystals. Cool in fridge for at least 2 hours. Remove from fridge, slice and enjoy on a sunny day. If this limited edition flavor is off the shelves when you want to make these, use regular Cap'n Crunch but increase vanilla to 1 tablespoon and orange extract to 1 teaspoon.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 16 bars

happy video: tonight you belong to me

The first time I watched this video of a father and his daughter singing. I smiled through the whole thing. It's an innocent, sweet snapshot into a moment which I imagine was taken just before bedtime.

Whenever I need to to get out of a bad or sad mood, this is one of the videos I turn to. It's impossible to be sad when you see the connection between these two.

May your Monday be an easy one.

happy food: baked french toast

Last week, some good friends from Massachusetts came to visit us in Seattle.  It was an unusually perfectly sunny week of exploring in Washington with two of my favorite people but some of my best memories of the week were when we were home, just drinking cocktails on the deck or laughing and talking in the kitchen cooking and enjoying meals together.

On one early, beautiful morning, just as the sun was coming up, it was just the dog and I in the kitchen. It was that quiet time before everyone padded downstairs for coffee and breakfast. I was trying to decide what to make for breakfast. Recently, I had spent an afternoon dog-earring recipes to try in Chrissy Teigen's book "Cravings," including her French Toast Casserole with Salted Frosted Flakes. I didn't have all of the ingredients in the pantry but I used this recipe as a springboard. It's an easy recipe that works when you have a crowd of people to feed and you don't want to be standing over a stove. As we talked and drank coffee, I prepared the breakfast. Soon, the house was filled with the cozy scent of baking french toast. It was the start of another perfect day together.

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Baked French Toast
A french toast casserole that's easily adaptable (inspired by Chrissy Teigen's French Toast Casserole)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 large Challah or French bread cut in 2 inch cubes
  • 8 eggs
  • 3 cups half and half
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • optional: 2 cups fruit (i.e. sliced peaches, cheery pie filling)
  • optional:1/4 cup toasted coconut bits
Preheat oven to 350.Butter a 9 by 13 baking dish and arrange the cubed bread in the dish. It's OK to fit the cubes in tightly. In a bowl, whisk eggs, half and half, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and salt. Pour wet ingredients over the cubed bread, being sure to soak all of the bread. Using your hands or the back of a spatula, press the bread down to ensure the liquid is being absorbed into the bread. Place in refrigerator until oven is ready. Before placing casserole in oven, add fruit to the top of the french toast. You can use sliced, peeled peaches, blackberries, blueberries or no fruit at all. I used Trader Joe's Cherry Pie Filling, dolloping several tablespoons at a time over the entire casserole. I also added toasted coconut bits for crunch.Place dish in oven uncovered and bake for 1 hour. The casserole will puff up and become golden.Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes. Serve immediately. If you have leftovers, lucky you. This casserole is just as delicious the next day (or at 2am when a snack attack happens).
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 8 servings