I love having curried spiced nuts on a buffet table around the holidays. They are so yumma-licious and blend in beautifully with a fall table-scape. They are so easy to make and your guests will do a face-plant into the bowl once they start eating them.

6 oz. raw cashews

6 oz. raw almonds

6 oz. raw pecan halves

3 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted

4 tsp curry powder

2 tsp honey

½ tsp garlic powder

½ tsp kosher salt

¼ tsp cayenne


Combine all ingredients in 6-quart slow cooker and stir to combine.  Cover and cook on high, stirring occasionally, until golden and crisp, 1 ½ to 2 hours. Transfer to parchment-lined baking sheet and spread in even layer to cool and dry. Transfer to airtight container.


Prep time: 5 minutes

Total time: 1 hour 35 minutes




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I don’t know about you, but when I come home from my job, I have a tendency to be wound for sound. My head keeps going and going and going. Sometimes it feels like an intense game of racquetball going on in my head. OY. So, I thought it would be a good idea to come up with some easily accessible and doable ways to unwind.  I’ve been applying them for the past week or so and I have to say, that they really do WORK!

Look at the sky (or ceiling) and count backward from 60 to 0. Did you know that gazing upward stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which thereby lowers blood pressure and slows the pace of the breath? I just learned this fact and looooove it!  By the way, it really works!

Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, 5 seconds in and 5 seconds out. Do this 10 times. Deep breathing slows the heart rate and calms the body. Focusing on your stomach rising and falling, and your breath flowing in and out, will help you concentrate on your body, instead of outside distractions. I do this not only after work, but any time I feel stressy (especially before speeches and/or workshops!).

Hand Massage: Whenever my mind is going in circles, there’s nothing like a hand massage to instantly relax me (because hands in general can carry a lot of tension). They are especially helpful after I’ve been sitting at my desk all day typing. There is also something extra nice about the rhythmic nature of a rub-rub.

Do Some Yoga: Put your feet up against a wall. This is called a Vipariti Kirani yoga pose. I do this a lot and always find that it is not only a good stretch, but it really helps me relax and sends me to my happy, dreamy place.

Aromatherapy: I’m a big fan of aromatherapy. My favorite is lavender. I put it into the palm of my hand and inhale. It works by stimulating smell receptors in the nose that connect to the part of the brain that regulates emotions.

What works for you?  Would love to hear!


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My friend’s daughter (5 years old) has a nightly ritual: every evening after dinner, she grabs a book and goes into the bathroom to do her business. I can’t begin to tell you how jealous I am of her power bowels (thanks again for nothing, constipating-producing hot-flash medication).

This is how she rolls a good six out of seven nights – lucky little girl. She usually reads out loud, sings, and grunts (noisily).  Always productive.  Literally.

So, last week, when I was a guest for dinner, I noticed she grabbed her book and headed toward Pottyville. I asked what book she was taking. She casually said, “The book about Cancer Cells” (as if it were People Magazine).

The real name of the book is “When Someone You Love Has Cancer” by Alaric Lewis.

It may be purchased at your local bookstore or

This book happens to be one of my very favorite books that I used professionally (and now personally) to talk with children about cancer.

Why?  Well, let me count some of the ways:

  1. It explains what cancer is.
  2. It advocates for children to ask questions.
  3. It promotes the expression of ALL feelings.
  4. It encourages conversation.
  5. It tells children that the illness is not their fault (sooooooooo important!)
  6. It identifies that even though physical changes happen to people, they are still the same on the inside.
  7. It even goes so far as to introduce the concept of death.  Yes, the “D” word.  And totally right on because children WILL think about it.

I truly can’t say enough good things about this book.  My friend’s daughter has read this book so many times (in AND out of the bathroom).  We talk about it frequently and I see the positive effect that this book has made in her experience with her mother’s breast cancer.

Alaric Lewis, the author, sadly experienced the death of his mother when he was a child.  He writes, “many caring adults wanted to ‘spare’ me from the grim realities of her illness, feeling that I was too young to understand.  Yet, the questions I had about the events that swirled around in my world were very real.  Given the lack of real answers, I frequently resorted to my own misinformed hypotheses.  Children are never too young to understand some sort of explanation, and adults need to remember that talking with the child is vital for his or her understanding, self-awareness, and eventual ability to cope.”

I wholeheartedly applaud him for his ability to “break the cycle” of excluding children from being a part of the cancer experience.  I also thank him for this incredible SM (Shining Moment) gift that he has given to children, families, schools and other support teams coping with cancer in their lives.

My friend’s daughter’s comfortable, matter-of-fact attitude about Mommy’s Breast Cancer combined with her ability to ask questions and choose Bathroom reading material about cancer (over princesses and Fancy Nancy) demonstrates that candor, honesty, and healthy communication diffuses fear, anxiety and isolation when dealing with breast cancer.

So, wishing you happy reading, in and out of the Bathroom.


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Dinner parties have a tendency to give me the heebie-jeebies, no matter how few people I have or how many. Now the Shining Moment of this angst is that this is definitely a first world problem.  I mean, really.  Sometimes when I get myself all worked up, I tell myself to look in the mirror and remind myself that I’m not bald from chemo. This always gives me a great deal of perspective.

Every year I spend Thanksgiving with 3 to 10 people (sometimes more).  I love nothing more than spending quality time with people and Thanksgiving happens to be one of my absolute favorite holidays. I have a tendency to be more relaxed around Thanksgiving; however, I do have a few nerve bugs that rear their head if I’m cooking a few dishes.  Recently, I found Shauna Niequist’s blog and the absolute perfect post about hosting Thanksgiving.

Hope you enjoy Shauna’s tips as much as I am!  I happen to think that most of her tips (below) apply to a dinner party in general.

Ten Thoughts for Hosting Thanksgiving

  1. Remember: it’s about the gathering, not about the food.This is the most important thing to keep in mind. I know Thanksgiving might be the most food-driven of all holidays, but the people are always more important than the food. The gathering is what’s significant…that’s what you remind yourself when the turkey’s taking forever or the stuffing’s dry. And it’s TRUE.
  2. Stay classic.This is not the holiday to flout tradition. People become quite cranky if you don’t have, say, cranberry sauce or French fried onions on top of the green bean casserole. This is not the time to surprise people with a wild South-of-the-Border feast, or a beautiful spread of sushi. I have made this mistake, and people were not happy.
  3. Ask for help.No one, and I repeat, no one, should cook a Thanksgiving meal alone. Ask each guest to bring something, and invite a few people over to help set the table, prep veggies, etc. It’s always more fun together, and people like to be included in the process. Feel free to be specific about what to bring, and give people clear tasks when they ask how they can help.
  4. Invite people into meaningful conversation.If you’re not intentional, a whole day with family and friends can go by without a focused moment or conversation. It’s especially easy to let it pass because you’re stressed about all the food prep. Plan ahead–a question on the back of every place-card, or conversation cards scattered on the table. If you’re hosting, take the opportunity to invite deeper connection around your table. Feel free to be quite directive about it–it feels awkward in the moment, sometimes, but I find that people are always thankful afterward. People want to connect deeply, but it often takes one person to create an environment that allows it.
  5. Simple table idea:cover table with butcher paper or kraft paper, and then decorate it with words and pictures–and if kids can do this, all the better. Set jars filled with colored pencils all over the table, so that people can doodle and add to the decorations. Sometimes people get really stressed out at big holidays, feeling like they have to have some spectacular tablescape–cornucopias! Gourds! A woodland village! If that’s your jam, go for it, definitely. But if that makes you feel tremendously overwhelmed, don’t worry about it. Butcher paper, pencils–voila! Simple and fun, and a great way to get kids involved.
  6. No scented candles.This is an all-the-time hosting thing. Candles are lovely–the more, the better…but no scented candles to get all mixed up with the great food smells. There is nothing worse than candy-cane candle smell times stuffing smell.
  7. Don’t go overboard on hors d’oeuvres.People are serious about Thanksgiving food, and most of them are practicing some sort of complex strategy for how to consume a staggering amount of both turkey and pie. You can’t win with lots of appetizers–if you have tons, and people eat them all, then they’ll be angry with you for filling up their stomachs, stealing their pie space. But if they don’t touch them, practicing their strategy, then you’ll feel bad about all the time you spent wrapping pigs in their yummy little blankets.
  8. Spatchcock your turkey.I know. I know. It sounds illegal. Basically, you’re cutting through the backbone so that the turkey can lay flat, allowing it to cook quickly and evenly. Jackpot! I know this doesn’t allow for the beautiful presentation of the whole bird, but I think it’s worth it, for the crispy skin and the even cooking. And all the extremely obvious jokes.
  9. Double the mashed potatoes.Trust me.
  10. Supply leftover containers.This is a serious sacrifice, I know, and there is a tendency to want to hoard all the delicious leftovers, but really: you can’t eat as many as you think, and it is such a lovely touch to have to-go containers at the ready, so that everyone can pack up the perfect leftover meal.

After finding Shauna, I am ordering her book, Bread and Wine: A love letter to life around the table with recipes. Bread & Wine is a collection of essays about family relationships, friendships, and the meals that bring us together. It is a celebration of food shared, reminding readers of the joy found in a life around the table. Sounds pretty fab to me!

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Halloween Etiquette


HAPPY HALLOWEEN!  Oh my gosh, what a FUN holiday this is, full of ghoulish frolicking.  I love, love, love Halloween.  Though I’m not a dresser-upper in the evening, I relish being an observer.

As many of my long-time readers will attest, I’m a bit of a — ummm —-stickler for manners. Granted, Halloween provides an opportunity to be silly and morph into an alter-ego (last year at school I am dressed up as Super Teacher!) however, there are certain basic etiquette norms that sure are important when taking the wee-ones (or the big ones!) out for Trick-or-Treating.

I was absolutely delighted to see Taryn Cox’s Trick or Treating Tips. She offers practical, relatable and SPOT ON suggestions for this annual evening of great fun and lots of Shining Moments!


Before Leaving Home:

  1. Make your child eats dinner before setting out.
  2. Make sure children use the bathroom before leaving home.
  3. Plan your route ahead of time.

Flash Lights:

  1. Make sure your child carries a flashlight or has reflective tape on their costume to make them more visible to cars.
  2. Carry a flashlight to illuminate sidewalks, steps and paths. Check or replace batteries before you leave the house.
  3. Glow Sticks can be used in the dark along with flashlights.


  1. Try on costumes before Halloween to allow time for altering.
  2. Make sure your costumes are hemmed so they don’t drag on the ground.
  3. Wear comfortable walking shoes that fit properly. Make sure shoe laces are tied tight.
  4. Make-up should be hypoallergenic and non-toxic.

Safety Rules:

  1. Try to go trick or treating during daylight hours
  2. Always walk, do not run.
  3. Stay on the Sidewalks. If there is no sidewalks, then walk on the left side of the road, single file, facing traffic.
  4. Obey all local traffic signals. Cross only at corners holding hands.
  5. Instruct your child to never go into the home of a stranger or get into a stranger’s car.
  6. Report any suspicious or criminal activity to an adult or the police.


  1. Visit houses that have lights on, especially houses with Halloween decorations.
  2. Don’t trample through grass, flower beds and gardens.
  3. Respect other people and their property.


  1. Instruct your children not to eat any treats until they bring them home to be examined by you.
  2. Throw away candy that has loose wrappings, is unwrapped, has puncture holes, or is homemade.
  3. Small children should not be allowed hard candy they may choke on.
  4. Always carry a spare Halloween bag just in case yours breaks.


  1. Always be polite. And don’t forget to say “Thank You”.

Parents with Older Kids:

  1. Make sure that your child is old enough and responsible enough to go out by themselves.
  2. Plan a safe route so parents know where their older kids will be at all times and Set a time for their return home.
  3. If your children go on their own, be sure they wear a watch, preferably one that can be read in the dark and/or bring their cell phone.
  4. Let them know that they should stay together as a group if going out to Trick or Treat without an adult.
  5. Let your children know not to cut through back alleys and fields. Make sure they know to stay in populated places and don’t go off the beaten track. Stay in well lighted areas
  6. They should only stop at familiar houses in your own neighborhood

Home Owners:

  1. Make sure your yard is clear of such things as ladders, hoses, dog leashes and flower pots that can trip the young ones.
  2. Pets get frightened on Halloween. Lock them up to protect them from cars or inadvertently biting a trick-or-treater.
  3. Battery powered Jack- O-Lantern candles are preferable to a real flame.
  4. If you do use candles, place the pumpkin well away from where trick-or-treaters will be walking or standing.
  5. Make sure paper or cloth yard decorations won’t be blown into a flaming candle.
  6. Healthy food alternatives for trick-or-treaters include packages of low-fat crackers with cheese or peanut butter filling, single-serve boxes of cereal, packaged fruit rolls, mini boxes of raisins and single-serve packets of low-fat popcorn that can be microwaved later. ( Make sure all treats handed out are sealed shut by a plastic wrapping)

Wishing you a wonderful Halloween!


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Soft Kiss



Wanna go on a guilt-free shopping spree for Breast Cancer Awareness Month? Accessorize your vanity with this pretty gold fretwork case, and fall in love with the sheer yet vivid pink lipstick that’s inside.  Twenty percent of proceeds will benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF). You can purchase this Tory Burch Lip Color in Ramble on Rose for only $32 at

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In the world of f-bomb cancer and other illnesses, a “Caregiver” is someone who is responsible for attending to the physical, emotional, or financial needs of another person.

There are formal and informal caregivers. Formal caregivers are trained professionals paid for their services. Hiring professional caregivers is expensive. Really expensive as a matter of fact. Unfortunately hiring formal, professional caregivers is often cost prohibitive for the people who need it most. This often leaves family and/or friends to become “informal” caregivers who provide care without pay.

Caregivers are all around us. In fact, one in three households in America report that at least one person has served as an unpaid caregiver. That equates to nearly 65 million people in the U.S. who are caregivers for an ill, aged or disabled family member or friend during a given year. Isn’t that a staggering number?

As a care-giver for both parents, I can say with 150% confidence that being a Caregiver is some of the hardest work in the world. It is painstakingly difficult, physically, emotionally, socially, psychologically and, it must be said, financially. I can’t overstate how difficult being a caregiver is.

Most caregivers are compassionate, generous people who are eager to take care of everyone else (especially someone they love), but it comes at the expense of their own needs:

  • Eating? Not often or healthily.
  • Sleeping? Barely a wink.
  • Bathing? Infrequently.
  • Time away from the bedside? Rarely.

Acknowledging the caregiver is paramount as they too “need care.” Indeed, each caregiver is ultimately responsible for his or her own well-being; however, there are some simple (yet valuable) points to consider when it comes to caring for a caregiver (or that of a loved one):

  • Please and thank you go a long way because the job of a caregiver (paid or unpaid) is often taken for granted.
  • Remember to ask the caregiver about his or her personal life. With the focus on the patient, it’s easy to forget that the caregiver’s life matters too.
  • Talk about things other than the patient’s condition. Everyone will benefit when the conversation is not always about the patient.
  • Give the caregiver adequate breaks or time away from their care-taking duties. This is HUGE! When a neighbor visited my father, I would frequently walk around the block or even go out for dinner.
  • Encourage the caretaker to interact with others outside of caring for the patient. Communication with the outside world avoids isolation.
  • Also encourage activities totally different from the caretaker’s responsibilities such as going for a walk, watching a movie, etc.
  • Keep humor alive and well. In serious situations, laughter eases tension.

Here are some additional resources to learn more about how to care for a caregiver:

I really can’t overstate how difficult it is to be a caregiver. Caring for a caregiver will go a long way in his or her ability to care for a loved one who is ill, which is a real Shining Moment.



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Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. ~ Randi Rentz

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Sweet Tooth



Have you decorated your Halloween pumpkin yet? Check out this scary guy that I call, ‘Sweet Tooth’. For this Day of the Dead Skeleton, carve two ovals for eyes and an upside-down heart for a nose in a hollowed-out white pumpkin.

Decorate it by hot-gluing candy corn, jelly beans, licorice laces and square gum (Shining Moment). Paint one tooth gold for that special ghoulish touch!

I’d love to see pictures of your pumpkin. Email me or post them on social media.

Have a wonderful spooky weekend!

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As you may recall, since the time of my diagnosis, I have talked openly with many adults and children about my breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. While the personal nature of this circumstance made the conversations emotionally challenging, my professional experience as an adult and a special educator for children have given me both the tools and confidence to ensure that I inform people of all ages, especially children with the developmentally appropriate answers.

When I was home and recovering, I often revisited a lot of the original questions as well as some new ones. For example, my friend’s daughter asked, “Do you think that your cancer will come back?”  GULP.

So, I thought I’d take this opportunity to share with you her questions and my answers. These questions tend to be typical of most children affected by a cancer diagnosis.

·         What is cancer?

·         The body is made up of cells. Cells make our bodies work. They are so tiny that you need a microscope to see them.

·         Cancer cells don’t look or act like normal cells. They don’t allow our normal, healthy cells to work properly. They can grow very fast and spread. Cancer cells may group together to form a tumor.

·         There are many different types of cancer. Cancer can grow anywhere in the body.

·         My friend’s daughter wanted to know if a person could get cancer in their eyes, on their skin and in their legs.

·         There is an iPad application called  3D4medical that has an image of a breast cancer cell. It is an ominous looking beast of a cell. This was really helpful for children to envision what was in my body and to then understand the sense of urgency (& drastic measures!) to get it out.

·         Is cancer contagious?

·         Cancer is not something that you can catch from someone else like you can a cold or the flu.

·         You can be close to the person who has cancer and not worry about catching it.

·         Did I cause cancer?

·         No. Nothing that anyone does, says or thinks can cause cancer in someone else. Ever.

·         Though they will rarely ask the question out loud, YES, children wonder whether they caused cancer. It’s sad, but true. If this question isn’t addressed, children can carry this fear (that they had some hand in causing cancer) with them into adulthood.

·         Why do people get cancer?

·         Most of the time, no one knows why someone gets cancer. It’s hard to not have all of the answers, but the truth is we don’t.

·         What causes cancer?

·         There is still a lot we don’t know about how cancer begins and what causes it.

·         Sometimes cancer can be caused by some chemicals, air pollution (smoke), certain viruses and other things inside and outside the body.

·         Do children get cancer?

·         Yes, unfortunately children do get cancer. It is rare for children to get cancer. More adults get cancer than children.

·         How is cancer treated?

·         Different people have different treatments for cancer.

·         Sometimes people have an operation to take the cancer out of the body.

·         Sometimes people take medicine called chemotherapy.  It uses special kinds of chemicals to destroy cancer cells.  It is usually given through a needle inserted into a vein.

·         Sometimes people have radiation therapy to help get rid of cancer cells. It is done with a special machine that is made just for cancer treatment.  The radiation is given only to the area of the body where the cancer is.

·         I happened to need all three of these treatments.

·         What are “side effects”?

·         Side effects of cancer treatment happen because the chemotherapy damages healthy cells as well as killing the cancer cells.

·         You will be able to see some of the side effects such as: my hair falling out, scars from my surgery, mouth sores and weight loss.

·         Other side effects can’t be seen such as: feeling tired, feeling sick to my stomach, wanting to rest more, not being able to play.

·         After I’m done with all of my treatments, these things will go away.

·         Are you going to die?

·         We are all going to die sometime. I am working very hard with my doctors to make sure that I don’t die from breast cancer.

·         Children’s questions and concerns about dying may come up any time after they hear the news about their parent’s cancer diagnosis.

·         All children, except very young ones, wonder if cancer means you are going to die, even if they don’t ask the question out loud. They may be afraid to ask you about death and dying if you haven’t been able to talk about it.

·         If adults change the subject, or answer them with silence, they will sense that it is not acceptable to talk with you about death and therefore internalize the issue and come up with inaccurate answers on their own.  Remember: a child’s imagination about cancer (& its treatment) is worse than the reality.

·         When will you feel better?

·         Feeling better will take a long time because I have been very sick.  I’ll still be tired, but little by little I’ll be able to do more and more. In fact, every day I feel a little better, which is a Shining Moment. I will feel back to my old self in a few months.

·         Will the breast cancer come back?

·         I hope that it won’t.  I am working very hard with my doctors to make sure that the cancer does not come back.

I feel compelled to reiterate how important it is to be honest with children. Having difficult discussions with them builds a sense of trust and inclusion that children so desperately need when someone in the family is diagnosed with and treated for cancer.

By the way, children are likely to find out anyway because they often hear adults talking about subjects not meant for them even when the child is busy and doesn’t seem to be listening. When children overhear these conversations, it confirms that adults are keeping things from them. This can fuel the potential for thinking that they’ve done or not done something to cause the cancer.

Another reason to process information about cancer with parents is that children learn about cancer from other sources, e.g., school, television, the Internet, their classmates, and listening to other people talk. Some of this information is correct but a lot of it is not. Not knowing what is really going on or how to cope with information about cancer can be terrifying to a child.

So, doesn’t it just make more sense to hear the information at home?

Talking about cancer does not have to be traumatic. If anything, NOT talking about it is ultimately more traumatic. In the past, misplaced embarrassment about cancer has allowed misunderstandings and fears about the illness to grow. Remember:  there are always professionals who are willing and able to help when parents feel overwhelmed by talking with children (Shining Moment).  Engaging professional help when coping with breast cancer or any kind of cancer for that matter is a sign of strength and resourcefulness.



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