cookbooks food health Product Reviews vegan

Vegan for Life: A Beginner’s Guide to the Best Whole Food, Plant-Based Cookbooks

Were I to recommend just one book to a friend who was considering going vegan, The Vegan Way: 21 Days to a Happier, Healthier Plant-Based Lifestyle That Will Transform Your Home, Your Diet, and You by Jackie Day would most certainly be it.  Day’s lovely blog, My Vegan Journal, never fails to inspire me as my family and I continue on our vegetarian/vegan journey.  Her book has been endorsed by Moby (“When you feel like you’re hitting a bump in the road to vegan, there’s always a dash of comfort and inspiration here to keep you moving along”), Pamela Anderson (“The Vegan Way is like having a friendly, nonjudgemental vegan friend by your side”), and Dr. Neal Barnard (“Jackie Day’s book provides a perfect starting point [to a plant-based diet], with recipes, research, inspirational quotes, and daily goals as resources”).

Let me first say how absolutely beautiful the book is, from the watercolor illustrations peppered throughout to the photographs of decadent food and natural products.  Providing a 21 Days-to-a-Vegan Road Map, Day encourages us to set a date and then find our muse.  Some of us may seek inspiration in our children or mindful time with animals.  Others may look to their annual physical results or love of the environment.  Day will join you in your pantry, refrigerator, closet, make-up drawer, as well as on vacation, at holiday parties, and out to dinner.

crafts holiday/feast natural open ended Product Reviews

Hippity-hoppity: Eggnots for Easter

Hippity-hoppity, hippity-hoppity, Easter’s on its way!

Paging through my most recent issue of VegNews magazine recently, I happened upon an advertisement for Eggnots, a dyeable, ceramic egg that looks just like the real thing. It was the answer to a question I had posed only days before to my husband:  how can we give our children the traditional experience of dying Easter eggs without betraying our philosophy of doing as little harm as possible to non-human animals?  

books picture books Product Reviews

Creating a Haven of Peace: Joanne Fairchild Miller’s Growing Sanctuary Movement

“What is sanctuary?”

“A place of asylum and immunity.”

“A place of peace and unconditional love.”

“A place to escape from the everyday stressors of life.”

“An attainable retreat accomplished through intentional living.”

~Joanne Miller 

books picture books

An Invitation to the Sweetest Club in Town: Bunny’s Book Club by Annie Silvestro


Setting:  River Road Books, Fair Haven, NJ

Date:  February 12, 2017

Event:  Bunny’s Book Club Launch Party

books Inspiration play

Multicultural Parenting Perspectives – The Danish Way of Parenting: What the Happiest People in the World Know About Raising Confident, Capable Kids


I need to be honest.  When I first heard about the new book The Danish Way of Parenting by Jessica Joelle Alexander and Iben Dissing Sandahl, my back went up.  Did I need to read yet another lecture about how a different culture parents better than mine does?  From The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom to Bringing up Bébé, it seems that every year someone exposes the plethora of mistakes American moms and dads make daily and espouses a parenting philosophy from another country where parents are calmer and kinder and children are more obedient and creative, far smarter and practically picture perfect.  While both of the aforementioned books gave me much food for thought, I felt frustrated by their underlying critical tone.  As a professor of Romance Languages and Literatures, I deeply value learning about and from other cultures and people, but the mother in me who is doing her very best to bring up three children in an increasingly complicated world felt chastised.


Lottie Dolls: Cheers for the Anti-Barbie or Bratz Doll

Even as a budding feminist in my college days, I swore I would never let my future children play with Barbie dolls. Graduate school only cemented my belief that Barbie perpetuated a stereotype of “ideal” beauty that was unattainable and promoted a hyper-sexualized look completely out of line with her audience of young girls. I scoffed at Mattel’s attempts to get parents to “buy in” to Barbie by marketing her as an astronaut, surgeon and POTUS, all the while maintaining her unrealistic body standard (if she were alive, she’d be 5’9?, 110 pounds and desperately trying to stand up straight on those tiny, permanently arched feet – because Barbie always wears heels). This post doesn’t aim to crucify Barbie. You can find data on the Barbie Effect easily enough.

What this post IS about, and what I’m so very excited to share, is the ANTIDOTE to that very effect: The Lottie Doll!

Product Reviews

Why Everyone Needs a PlanetBox

Three PlanetBox OptionsI have been waiting for weeks to write this review and am eager to share it. Before I did so, I wanted to use my PlanetBox Launch repeatedly to see how it held up to daily use and washing. And today, I can say that I am a PlanetBox convert. This is the real thing. I have tried many “green” lunchbox products now – canvas bags with Velcro closures, various manifestations of the classic bento box, bamboo sandwich wraps – and I’ve always been left wanting. Since my son started school four years ago, I have been searching for one product that could replace all of them. I’ve found it in PlanetBox.


New Beginnings and Letting Go

books-in-the-grassEach year as school begins, a flood of emotions assails me. Melancholy brews, like a low-grade fever, for weeks before September is upon us, matched by elation over the new chapters upon which my children are embarking.

Why the melancholy? Parenting, I’ve learned, is a series of “letting goes,” each of which tortures me in small and big ways. When your children are babies, no one mentions that each milestone is, in essence, an end as well as a beginning. As your one-year old toddles toward you, arms outstretched, and collapses into the security of your embrace, you simply don’t project your mind forward to the moment when he will be walking away from you, looking for a measure of independence so crucial to his growth.


The Perfect School



As we head into another school year, I’ll be sharing some thoughts on what an ideal school should and could be according to educators and experts of early childhood. First up, the great Bev Bos and the ever inspirational Sir Ken Robinson

“Children were not born to walk. They were born to run– barefoot, over rocks, through the water, through the mud. We need to give greater recognition to the energy and joy of children.” — Bev Bos

And speaking of schools, what does Sir Ken Robinson think an ideal school would look like?


Happy Saint Nicholas Day

December 6th is celebrated by many around the world as St. Nicholas Day.  While Thanksgiving here in the United States marks the official start of the holiday season, in Italy the Feast of San Nicola holds that honor, and the holiday season continues for one month until January 6th (the Epiphany and the arrival of La Befana).