Lox and Cream Cheese Brunch Platter

I don’t know why they love it so much, but for some reason both of my daughters will eat lox - plain. No bagel, no cream cheese, no buffer of any kind, just lox. I’m tempted to put it in their lunch boxes during the week but I’m worried that the day I pack it will be the day they stop liking it, and I’ll just be the mom who packs her kids smelly fish. But for now they love it, and they also like things like smoked salmon, eggplant, and tahina. My parents and extended family are all Israeli, so I guess I shouldn’t be that shocked.

For this platter, I really intended for family/guests to enjoy what I was preparing for the blog today, but that’s not really what happened. There was a birthday party this weekend at my place, and I didn’t time things so well with my photo-shoot. As everyone was eating cake, I realized no one was going to eat olives and smoked fished when there was chocolate frosting around. So instead, a few of us picked at the platter here and there, and then we packed up the lox and smoked fish to be eaten by my little daughters, of course, for dinner.

Here’s everything that was on the brunch board:

Feta cheese
Cream cheese
Smoked white fish
Pickled peppers
Raspberry jam


Check out this post for another party platter idea and these would actually work pretty well for fun party snacks

I Was Her and She Was Me: Breaking Barriers in Prenatal and Postpartum Anxiety and Depression

This is a slightly edited version of what I wrote for FYI Magazine in NY about Prenatal/Postpartum Anxiety and Depression

I’m standing at the bottom of the three flights of stairs that lead up to my apartment gazing hesitantly upward. Every day it’s the same trip, but every day I hover over the first step a little longer. I grab a handful of grocery bags in my left hand, a slightly heavier handful in my right, and begin my slow, treacherous hike to the summit.

Nope. Not going to happen. I have to take a break on the first landing step. I text my husband to just, you know, let him know what I’m going through. I breathe in... Okay. Here we go.

I make it to the last step but I can’t get to the door. I collapse on the top landing and close my eyes for a minute. Maybe I can just order Chinese and eat it here.

Clutching the railing for balance, I stand myself up to unlock the apartment and a sense of accomplishment courses through me. I let the groceries crash onto the floor and collapse onto the couch. No one told me I'd feel like a mountain climber at eight months pregnant.   

The treacherous stairs, though, were the least of my problems. I had this paralyzing, yet jittery sensation in my chest that would sometimes flare up so unforgivingly I wouldn’t be able to get up from my chair. My mind was occupied with a million fears. Thoughts like, I’m going to disappoint everyone by wanting space and privacy after the baby; I should be glowing and excited, but instead I’m miserable to be around; If I can’t handle pregnancy, I have no chance at motherhood. When I didn’t know what do anymore, I registered for a prenatal yoga class as an attempt to decompress. There was something about being in a room full of other women who could barely touch their knees that comforted me. For the last ten minutes of every session, we would have a guided meditation and I would just lay there, very still, with my eyes fixed on the ceiling and tears rolling down my face.

The anxiety was like a demon inside of me. It wasn’t me, yet it was in me and taking over, and I was deeply ashamed that I wasn’t strong enough to control or stop it.

I became religious in college and believed that my anxiety in pregnancy stemmed from my spiritual shortcomings. If only I could learn to achieve more peace of mind, pray with more intention, plan a more productive day, I could overcome this burden. I would think about my holy great grandmothers and how they must have had more important things to deal with than to waste time on “anxiety”.  I would think about all the mothers I knew in my community who seemed to effortlessly manage a kindergarten’s worth of children, frequent guests and happy homes. It was only my first pregnancy and I could barely manage to make kosher ramen noodles for dinner.

It took me a while to realize that I was far from alone. After my own first experience, I began hearing from both non-religious and religious friends and acquaintances about their struggles with anxiety and depression – both prenatal and postpartum. I was always shocked. Everyone else looked so perfectly blissful to me. It turns out that no matter who you are or what you’ve accomplished, life can feel like it’s falling apart during this vulnerable time. You may have to quit your job because the anxiety has stolen your ability to concentrate. You may develop insomnia from racing thoughts at night or feel unable to care for your home during the day. Anxiety and depression can impact your marriage, as you and your spouse experience tension from the growing responsibilities, high expectations and unexpressed resentments. It can become a sort of paralysis, rendering you unable to leave the house or enjoy friends. As one mother shared with me, “I absolutely felt alone. Everyone expects you to be happy… I literally couldn’t keep it together. I couldn’t read, listen to music, had no interest in spending time with people, no love towards my toddler”.

Before I understood how many of us struggle, I thought I was the only one who felt high-maintenance and selfish during postpartum. Everyone wants to see the baby, and as mothers we often feel an obligation to allow everyone to visit, even when we desperately need time alone to recover from emotional and physical pain. I have talked to women of all different backgrounds who have had panic attacks while people sing to the baby in another room, who have cried uncontrollably while a phone rings in their hands nonstop, who have left a room in tears while guests whisper, “Do you think she’s depressed?”. It’s happened millions of times. Mothers sitting on their beds, in their nursing chairs, locked in their bathrooms, crying and panicking alone while the living room fills up with people who have come to play with the beautiful baby. As one young mother confessed, “When the guests left, I sat down on my parents' basement steps and started crying so hard I could barely breathe. My poor husband was like, ‘Huh? What’s wrong? You were fine one second ago’ and I couldn't even answer. I felt like speaking one more word would be too much effort for me.”  

We live in a society where perfectionism and independence in motherhood is celebrated. The United States is the only industrialized country where working mothers and fathers have no guarantee of paid leave after the birth of a baby. Mothers are often left home alone to care for their newborn and any other children, to make multiple trips to medical appointments, and to return to work and normal life as soon as possible. On top of that, there is constant pressure to do everything right - to have the right birth plan, to be overjoyed the moment the baby is born, to invite family as soon as possible afterwards, and to commit to full-time breastfeeding even if it brings tremendous anxiety and pain.  Ruchi Kuval, the inspiring writer behind the blog, Out of The Ortho Box, put it best when she said to me, “Everyone giving free advice postpartum was very upsetting to me. It made me feel dis-empowered as a woman. I would have liked someone to tell me, ‘Inside of every woman is a wise, intuitive person who has a lot of the answers. Most of this is just what feels right to you… Listen to your gut.’” It’s very hard to stay attentive to ourselves and our needs when everyone expects something else from us. One mother wrote to me about falling apart from all of the advice and expectations:

Right before I was having my in-laws sleep over for [that weekend], I had an appointment with a lactation consultant. She told me I had to nurse, feed pumped milk, feed formula, and pump at every feeding! It was not at all ­­sustainable… That night, with everyone in my apartment, I broke down. My baby was being held by someone else and I went to the armchair in her room and just cried. The tears flowed down my cheeks. All my anxiety and worry came to the forefront, and I just couldn’t stop crying. I was still physically recovering, nursing, there were way too many people in my apartment... I just couldn’t cope. There's a certain sense in society that everyone has babies and is immediately smitten. That was not the case with me. I think I was too overwhelmed and exhausted to feel love.

The pressure we feel to sacrifice ourselves often takes precedence over any instinct to rest, say “no”, or ask for space (or for company). When a mother of two told me that her and her husband worked together after their second baby to keep guests at bay and put away her cellphone for two weeks, only checking for urgent messages, I was blown away. Seldom do we hear about these kinds of boundaries. Instead we assume that the strongest women among us have no need to relax, ask for help, request privacy, or take a break from the constant caring of others. We think that some women have such a pure ability to give that they simply have no room for anger or sadness or anxiety.

But I wonder… Are we missing something? Are we simply imposing on these “perfect” women our own desire for perfection and imperviousness ? I asked my good friend Dr. Danielle Dragon, a therapist in Chicago, for her thoughts on this idea of simplifying the experiences and lives of other women to the detriment of our own well-being. She explained to me:

As a society we frequently think in a polarized view of ourselves and the world. Meaning, we believe our ancestors must have been complete martyrs; our neighbor who's expecting has it totally together. During times of stress, and certainly within an experience of postpartum anxiety and depression, this polarized view of life intensifies. We use language like, "How is it my friend can have a perfectly prepared meal and look immaculate, and I behave like a total mess?" It only increases our feelings of inadequacy and difference from our peers, mentors and foremothers. It only serves to expand an irrational system of isolating and shame-based beliefs that can deepen an experience of postpartum anxiety and depression. Additionally, for many women, therapy and/or medication may be necessary to navigate this scary and confusing journey. And that's okay too.

After my second daughter was born, I desperately struggled to manage life as a mother of two. I worked up the courage to talk to a very strong, well-respected woman in my community about the helplessness I had felt in both pregnancy and in motherhood, even though I knew she wouldn’t be able to relate. But instead of just nodding politely, she told me how much she had experienced those same feelings while raising her babies. She told me how much help she regularly needed from others, even though it made her feel guilty. She offered stories of when she felt­ angry or alone, or when everything felt like it was falling apart. I was her and she was me. We were both young mothers in that conversation, talking about our experiences that fell short of an unrealistic fantasy of motherhood. 

We have to redefine courage. It's not self-destruction and infinite sacrifice. It's seeking help when you need it. It's sharing your story with others when they need it. We can strive to become who we want to be while encouraging one another to be okay with where we are. But ignoring our pain is a recipe for isolation. We all have a role in creating a more compassionate society. We’re in this together.

Lipstick & Brisket Explains it All: Things We Did and Bought in Middle School that We're Still Regretting Now

You can still purchase these chokers on amazon here. Title of this post inspired by Clarissa

You can still purchase these chokers on amazon here. Title of this post inspired by Clarissa

Wow, I had a lot of fun working on this post! I was kind of concerned that my "research" would be slightly trauma-inducing, because middle school is not exactly my fav time of life to recall (what an understatement). I did, however, thoroughly enjoy hearing what you guys had to say about it. Thank you all for sifting through your very fascinating memories about what you wore, bought, and did in middle school. As for me, if I had to do it all over again I would not have worn my older brothers' polo shirts thinking they were legitimate outfit choices. Enjoy the rest of the list and thank you so much for your contributions! 

  • Thick elastic headbands and a massive digital watch
  • Half-up pigtails so I could look like baby spice
  • Round Harry Potter glasses. Terrible life choice. 
  • Lacoste polos were SO in and I spent a ridiculous amount of money on those silly polos for that small gator logo in the corner. Also juicy zip ups.
  • Wearing men's XL rugby shirts
  • I thought "fangs" (2 wispy bits of hair instead of bangs, a la Dawson's Creek) were the coolest look ever. Wore them way too pronounced, looked like a greasy vampire.
  • I bought this horrible/amazing red plaid button down shirt with Hawaiian  flowers down the front from the guys section at a sports store. I wore that thing so often and still have it. Can't bear to throw it away.
  • Bangs with very curly hair, resulting in 4 distinct curls hanging down my forehead. Also, saying awkward things to boys... yikes
  • Definitely agree with a lot of the ladies who already posted! I had: bangs with curly hair -- why?! A PERM - again, why?! For sure had those butterfly clips. Also -- GLITTER HAIR GEL that I used to attempt to *slick back* my curly hair. Shout-out to my tear-off pants that my friends and I wore every Thursday in 5th grade. A CRIMPER. A belly shirt that said "Whatever". Wow I forgot about that till now, I swear you cannot make this up. 
  • Perm. Why did my mom let me?!
  • Permed my hair and wore a skinny leather royal blue tie with my uniform!
  • Hot pink lip gloss and braces. Worst combination ever. Oh, and the obligatory 7th grade perm. 
  • Bart Simpson t-shirt and umbro shorts to the 6th grade dance. Ugh.
  • I thought it would be a good idea to tan for my graduation. So I went on my roof, lined my towel with aluminum foil, greased myself with crisco oil, and baked for hours. (I'm super white and have never had a tan in my life). I ended up with 2nd degree burns and blisters and was beyond beet red. Not attractive.)
  • Jean jacket with suede fringes
  • Dressing alike with my twin sister until 10th grade!
  • Saying the word "like" as a space filler 😑 still have a habit of doing it today. It's like so unprofessional
  • Limited too. All day erryday. Also chokers, puka shells, platform shoes, demanded my own phone line which no one would call me on anyway.
  • I saved up ALL my babysitting money and spent $110 on a pair of Reebok Pumps tennis shoes. Worst idea ever. 

Please do add to this list! The things we remember doing to our hair are endless...

P.S. Click here if you want to read about how women are making up for old lifestyle choices with more sophisticated and evolved beauty routines today... 

A Few Great Snacks for Unwinding

I'm not trying to be an advocate here for emotional eating, but at the end of an overwhelmingly long day, when I desperately need some time to unwind and clear my mind, I like to wander around my apartment in search of a good.... snack. Now, if you can get yourself to eat something healthy, that's amazing. But if you're looking for something a bit more indulgent, I have a few ideas for you. These snacks also go very well with friends, spouses who share well, humorous family members, and of course, very cute pets. May I also suggest blankets, a good movie or a magazine, or depending on the day (or the movie you're watching) - maybe even a little box of tissues. Here are four fun snacks to to relax with: 

1. Classic combo - strawberries and chocolate (chips) 

2. Cinnamon animal crackers dipped in caramel sauce - trust me. 


3. Microwave kettle corn with cheese. 
   Pop the bag, then top with shredded cheese in a microwavable bowl and melt for 20-30  seconds.      Be wary of cheesy kernels that get stuck together (this snack is better for adult consumption)

4. Mint chocolate chip ice cream with dry red wine. Perfect for an at-home date night

What do you snack on after a long day? Any interesting combinations we should try? 

... and here's another time I remember snacking 

Subscribe to the New Newsletter!

I'm excited to let you guys know that we have a new weekly newsletter! Below is very close to what it will look. It's an easy way to have the inside scoop on the blog and to get a couple other interesting tidbits of information and fun links. If you're interested in signing up, all you have to do is enter your e-mail into the Subscribe box at the bottom of this post. The newsletter is sent out once a week on Thursdays. If you have any feedback or ideas for what you'd like included please let me know! I want it to be as useful and enjoyable for you as possible. Looking forward to sending this one out with a couple more things in it later today! 

Good morning! How are you?

It’s cold in Chicago…. I’m drinking plenty of coffee to stay warm and awake
(hello, toddler in my room at 3:00 AM)
here’s what’s been going on the last two weeks as well as a couple other fun things... keep reading below and feel free to click on the pictures! 


“And for coffee, just drink it. All of it. Any of it. And keep drinking throughout the day. At 5 PM, switch to wine.” From Fawn in the post, Ten Women’s Tips for Pretending to Be More Awake

What anxiety feels like and how women cope in six words or less
Asking for help. Intense workouts. Medication. Sun. Me time. Cut tasks from to-do list. Massage. Hugs. Babysitting. Good cry. Family. Boundaries. Delegate. Regular sleep. Prayer. Talking out where it’s coming from. Meditation. Good therapy. Refuse to avoid anxiety – jump in. Supportive people. Bowl of ice cream. Breathing. Yoga. Whole foods. Adding meaning to my life. Shower. Cleaning help. Saying no. Nap time.

Let the kids do have the work for you for lunch today A Recipe for Half Eaten PB & J

Have you seen this movie Denial? I read the book the movie is based on, and I finally just rented and started watching the movie. It's incredible. Here's the trailer. Click on the picture to rent!

Have you had a gomacro bar? I was just introduced to them but haven't tasted it yet...  it's supposed to have only five ingredients (!?!?!?!) 


and lastly.... comic relief for anxiety from artist Beth Evans. So good!

Hope you have a great weekend!


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Let's Talk about Anxiety...

Let’s talk a little bit about anxiety today… The tricky part about a post like this is that it can be in some ways, ummm, anxiety-inducing… But at the same time, not talking about anxiety is even more anxiety-inducing. Does that make any sense? It’s also important to cover this topic, because so many people deal with it. I wrote about my experience with anxiety during pregnancy in the article I wrote for FYI Magazine, which I’ll be posting here on the blog soon. But for now, I wanted to hear from other women what anxiety feels like for them. For today’s post, I compiled the words women wrote me to describe their anxiety in 'six words or less'. Then, there’s a paragraph with the words they used to describe what helps them (even if it’s just a little bit) when grappling with anxiety. I didn’t repeat things that were said, but many women wrote me using the same words.

Anxiety in six words or less:
Can’t breathe. Sucks. Panic. Too tense to think. Heart racing. Body out of control. Hell. Attacked from all sides relentlessly. Always feeling judged. Crying. Guts shaking. Just leave me alone. Body out of control. Must get out of here now. Nobody understands how I feel. Never good enough. Chest explosion. Loss of control.
Deep dark well with slippery walls. Groping for security. Darkness. I must be crazy. Paranoid. Emotional mess. Sad. Want to jump out of my skin. Stomach in knots. Drowning. Unable to think. Can’t speak. Can't function. Too much to handle. What's wrong with me. 

What helps with anxiety in six words or less:
Asking for help. Intense workouts. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Deep breaths. Medication. Exercise. Bath. Running. Sun. Me time. Cut tasks from to-do list. Massage. Healthy relationships. Chocolate. Hugs. Babysitting. Good cry. Take a drive, blast music, sing. Family. Nature walks. Creating things. Healthy relationships. Boundaries. Delegate. Regular sleep. Prayer. This too shall pass. Talking out where it’s coming from. Meditation. Good therapy. Refuse to avoid anxiety – jump in. Swimming. Bowl of ice cream. Breathing. Supportive people. Yoga. Manicure. Whole foods. Alone time. Adding meaning to my life. Slow breathing. Shower. Talking. Cleaning help. Walking. Schedule. Saying no. Nap time.  

I would love to hear from you. How do you describe anxiety? And, what helps? What would you add to the lists?

And lastly... I'll be talking more about anxiety, depression, and motherhood soon in the upcoming full-length version of this post