Reason # Billion and One Why My Mom is the Best on the Planet

url.jpgAs moms across the world get ready to celebrate Mother’s Day, I have to say that as a daughter, I am truly lucky. You see, I’ve been blessed to have the most supportive mom one could ever have in her life. My mom, Lenore Stoller, has been my biggest cheerleader throughout my life. She’s the one whose shoulder I lean on when I am stressed out beyond belief and the first person I call when I receive good news. Even when she’s away half the year in Florida, I never feel like my mom is that far away because all it takes is a phone call or skype chat to catch up, crack jokes and lament about the latest problem we’ve each been encountering in our lives.
Over the past year, my mom has endured a great deal of stress and yet, she powered through with that same positive energy and spirit that everyone around her knows best (including me). Sadly, my aunt passed away this fall and then shortly after, my 47 year old brother suffered a heart attack. Thank goodness, he survived and is on the road to recovery. While I’m positive she spent many sleepless nights worrying about my brother and me, whenever I speak with her, I always get her unwavering support no matter what I do. In fact, the other day, after I complained that I had so much work on my plate and didn’t know what to do, Mom encouraged me it would all get better soon. A few days later, she sent me this note via email:
I just happened to be looking thru the newspaper and found a message that was just perfect for you…
It said: Don’t sweat the small stuff- Relax and things will come together nicely! This little
message was your horoscope– Sorry I sent it so late but I was caught up doing some silly stuff in the house.
Love Mom
Right after I read that note, I instantly smiled and remembered how my mom used to write notes to me every day at school. She’d address them to her “favorite daughter” (I was her only daughter) and every day without fail, I’d open my lunch bag to find an encouraging note from my mom. Back then, I was struggling socially since I was a bit overweight and became the butt of a lot of kids jokes. But my mom and my dad were always there to support me. In fact, growing up, we did everything together.
We joined Weight Watchers together when I was 12 and together lost about 80 pounds as a family.
We traveled to Israel, Italy, Greece, London, the Caribbean and California and loved every minute of it.
We shopped and shopped and shopped.
We reminisced about my grandmother after she lost her battle to Alzheimer’s
When I walked down the aisle on my wedding day, I will never forget my mom saying “I love you” right before she handed me off to my husband to be
She walked and walked and walked after I was in labor for three days
She and my dad were instantly at my house the day I told them I thought our son was on the way
We celebrated, danced and smiled at my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah
We cook together — mom does most of it and we have memories of our biggest food disasters. One year, she set fire to her famous marshmallow and yam when she accidentally turned on the broiler.
She reads and reads and reads and even has a notebook where she records every single book she’s read over the past few years (over 120).
We laugh, we cry and we hug. A lot.
My mom has been there for me for everything. Graduations, marriage, children, job changes, family issues and more. I honestly don’t think I would have become the person I am today without her love, her support and her guidance.
So as Mother’s Day approaches Mom, I just want to say, I love you with all my heart and I always will. You truly are everything a daughter could ask for and so much more.

Role Mommy Fave Five “Dumb Ways to Die” Videos

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I don’t know about you, but from time to time, my kids show me a video that just cracks me up. The first time I saw “Dumb Ways to Die,” I couldn’t stop laughing and since then, I’ve seen so many parodies that I had to share my top 5 favorites with all of you. Trust me, once you hear the song, you will not be able to get it out of your head either.
5. Dumb Ways to Die – The Family Version

4. Dumb Ways to Die – The Minecraft Edition

3. Teens React to Dumb Ways to Die

2. Dumb Movie Ways to Die

1. Dumb Ways to Die — The Original with over 79 Million Views!!!

Incidentally, while the video might have a catchy tune and seem pretty silly, it actually has a pretty serious message. The cartoon is a public service announcement for the Metro Line in London. In fact, my friend Alicia, who works for a major ad agency in New York City, told me they created the ad. In a word…BRILLIANT!

Do You Suffer From LOCKED CLOSET SYNDROME?

Urban Oasis.jpg I am definitely guilty of this, are you? A new survey of women who want to lose weight finds that, on average, women have 14 items of clothing in their closets that don’t fit. The reason? Sixty-eight percent of women said they keep ill-fitting clothes with the hope they will fit one day. The survey was conducted by Wakefield Research for Slimfast®,the weight-loss brand that has helped millions get what they really want for more than three decades.
“Many women can relate to the feeling of having a closet full of clothes, yet nothing to wear,” said Jenn Falik, style expert. “The Slimfast survey shows it’s in large part due to the prevalence of ‘Locked Closet Syndrome,’ the practice of ‘locking away’ clothes that once fit, are in ‘goal sizes,’ or you just don’t feel confident wearing.”
Other highlights from the Slimfast “Unlock Your Closet” survey include the following:
· 93 percent of women have multiple sizes of clothing in their closet – 3 sizes, on average
· Women keep ill-fitting items for an average of 14 months; with 15 percent saying they have kept pieces that don’t fit for more than two years
· 79 percent of women frequently dread getting dressed because of ill-fitting clothes in their closet
· 68 percent of women who want to lose weight characterized their wardrobe as “sensible” versus “sassy” (11 percent) or “smokin” (5 percent)
· If it meant they were able to fit into everything in their closet, 57 percent said they’d be willing to wash all the dishes by hand for a month and more than 1 in 10 say they’d take a pay cut
· 83 percent of women admitted to lying about their pants size more often than their age
Now you can take the Pledge to Unlock Your Closet with the Slimfast 14 Days to Slim Program
With 14 days to go until Memorial Day weekend, it is time for women to take control of their closet and get their minds (and bodies) ready for summer fashion season.
Women nationwide are invited to take the Pledge to Unlock Your Closet at Facebook.com/Slimfast and be entered to win $5,000 for a summer wardrobe. The sweepstakes is open from this Monday, May 12 through May 27, 2014. Women are invited to take on the Slimfast 14 Days to Slim program, a convenient and delicious way to lose up to lose 6 pounds in the first 2 weeks.
· Swap two meals daily with a Slimfast Protein shake or meal bar.
· Your third meal must be 500 calories.
· Enjoy three 100-calorie snacks or pieces of fruit per day.
· Don’t exceed 1200 calories per day.
· Do 30 minutes of light to medium exercise daily and drink plenty of water.
*If you live in the tri-state area, you can take advantage of an amazing free event this Monday, May 12th!!
SAY ‘SO LONG, WINTER’ AND STRUT INTO SUMMER
AT THE SLIMFAST POP-UP “URBAN OASIS” IN THE HEART OF MANHATTAN
MONDAY, MAY 12TH

WHO: With the start of the summer season just 2 weeks away, Slimfast and style and beauty expert Jenn Falik invite New Yorkers to get summer-ready and take the Pledge to Unlock Your Closet -just in time for the season’s crop tops and fringe swimsuits! New Yorkers will be surprised and delighted via an “urban oasis” pop-up near Union Square where they can relax in chaise lounge chairs, feel pampered and get ready for summer. Falik will be on hand for media interviews to discuss the season’s hottest fashion trends, as well as the results of a new survey that reveals the most daunting articles of summer clothing, plus the prevalence of ‘Locked Closet Syndrome,’ the practice of ‘locking away’ clothes that once fit, are in ‘goal sizes,’ or that you just can’t wear confidently.
WHAT: A pop-up summer oasis on the street featuring eye-catching cabana boys serving up the first taste of the indulgent Slimfast Limited Edition Piña Colada Protein Meal Shake to the public.
· Enjoy an on-site complimentary express manicure service while getting your summer groove on.
· Additionally, New Yorkers will also have the opportunity to Take the Slimfast 14-day Pledge to Unlock Your Closet” to enter for a chance to win $5,000 for a smokin’ new summer wardrobe, and bid farewell to their wardrobe hang-ups.
WHERE: South Side of 14th Street between 5th Avenue and University Place
WHEN: Monday, May 12 from 11am-2pm

jenn falik.jpg Falik – who has been on the Today Show and The View – will be on hand to discuss summer fashion, the results of a recent closet survey Slimfast conducted or common wardrobe hang-ups – like the “Locked Closet Syndrome”… saving clothes until incremental weight loss “unlocks” them and you can wear said clothes again.

“FED UP” Opens My Eyes to What’s Been Sabotaging My Diet & and My Health

Over the past year, I’ve put on a few extra pounds and have been a bit depressed. After trying every diet on the planet — from Jenny Craig, to Weight Watchers, to a juice cleanse, I really never understood why I couldn’t just exercise and eat sensible meals and stay at a weight where I feel comfortable about my arms, my legs and everything in between. But alas, no matter what I do, I typically lose weight, keep it off for a few months and then I return right back where I started from with a few extra pounds added to my 5 foot 1 frame.
After my latest diet and exercise debacle, I watched the documentary “FED UP.” The film, by Stephanie Soechtig, is narrated by television news and talk veteran Katie Couric who serves as one of the executive producers. Opening nationwide May 9, “FED UP” shares the stories of several children and their families who are grossly overweight. The reason? They’ve been eating processed foods at home gorging on calorie laden meals at school and snacking on items that are just plain bad for them. “FED UP” also shares how the low-fat craze that started in the early 1980’s has pretty much sabotaged our eating habits. Personally, I have fallen victim to low-fat eating, purchasing low fat or no fat items for more than three decades and it has not helped in my quest to remain at a normal weight. In fact, after a certain point, I’ve struggled to lose weight because I had been clogging up my system with foods that are just not real. When you are young, you don’t think these foods will do anything to you, but lately, I’m concerned. I’ve been having lots of leg and knee issues and even see a build up of fluid in my calves. I’m seeking medical attention to make sure it’s nothing serious, but for now, I’ve decided to take my life back by finally eating right.
In “FED UP,” you will learn a great deal about what foods are doing us in and the #1 culprit is sugar. Something I never realized is that as a woman, I’m only supposed to have 4 teaspoons of sugar per day. There are 4 grams of sugar in 1 teaspoon — which means that if you have low fat salad dressing or coffee with sugar, you can easily hit your allotment of sugar instantly. And if you start your morning cereal – like Honey Nut Cheerios, you will instantly sabotage your sugar goal for the day. If you decide to throw in a sweetener, well, that’s not good for you either. That will only make you want to crave sweets even more.
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While attending a press session and for the film, I listened in as Katie Couric shared her personal experience with the food industry and admitted that she too fell for the low fat craze and remembers being excited that she could finally eat Snack Wells since they promised to be lower in fat. Unfortunately, it was high in sugar. Today, Katie says she still has trouble ditching her sweetener for good but she has switched to Shredded Wheat (which has no sugar) and tries to eat all natural foods but still uses sweetener from time to time.
Laurie David, who is also an executive producer of the film also shared her family’s transition to natural foods and cooking and said she wishes she could take back every chicken nugget and french fry she fed her kids as they were growing up. She also talked about how the subjects in the film have found it so hard to lose weight because they live in a “Fast Food Desert,” the food in their homes is processed and the food in their school cafeteria is high in calories and doesn’t offer nutritious alternatives.
“Fed Up” recently opened in theaters and I highly recommend you go see it with your family. Meanwhile check out my “Fed Up” confession below…

Make sure you follow @FedUpMovie on Twitter and to find a theater near you playing the film, visit their official website.

Make Mother’s Day Meaningful with Mother’s Day Movement

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This Sunday is Mother’s Day and if you are a mom, hopefully you will be getting pampered. I personally love having my breakfast in bed, homemade cards from my kids and maybe even a little gift. A staggering $18 billion is spent annually in the United States on Mother’s Day celebrations. Given the number of women and children suffering globally, and here at home, a group of moms felt it was time to rethink Mother’s Day giving priorities.
Mothers’ Day Movement was founded in 2010 by four mothers living in Connecticut. Each year they partner with a worthy charity committed to improving the lives of mother’s in some of the developing world’s neediest communities. This year Mothers’ Day Movement is helping ClearWater Initiative.
Mothers and children in Uganda spend hours every day carrying 40lb containers long distances over rough terrain to get water for drinking, cooking, and bathing. Often children have to miss school to help get water. The leading cause of death for children under age 5 is diarrhea, which is directly linked to access to clean water and basic sanitation. Diarrhea kills one child every 21 seconds, more than measles, malaria, and AIDS combined.
Together we can provide sustainable clean drinking water, sanitation, and education programs to keep mothers and children healthy and strong.
ClearWater Initiative is working in more than 40 communities and bringing clean water and education programs to over 1,500 families. So let’s take a moment to help moms around the world. Click here to donate now.

Take Back the Kitchen: Alma’s Tater Tot Egg Strata

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In a previous recipe post I wrote about homemade tater tots. I made so many that I had a need for the leftover ones! I added them to a kale inspired egg strata and the results were great. Feel free to use store bought tater tots or none at all. Enjoy!
Kale and Tater Tot Egg Strata

9 eggs
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1 cup chopped kale
3 oz. crumbled goat cheese
15 baked frozen tater tots (or cooked, homemade from previous Take Back the Kitchen recipe)
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
Steps:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
1) In a big bowl, whisk together the eggs and heavy cream.
2) Add in 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper and whisk. Set aside
3) In a small saucepan heat up the olive oil and saute the chopped kale over a low flame for a few minutes until wilted.
4) Stir cheese and sauteed kale into the egg mixture, and pour the mixture into a 9″ X 13″ casserole dish.
5) Drop in the tater tots and bake uncovered for 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees until a knife comes out clean in the center.
*If the top is browning but the middle is still raw, cover with aluminum foil and bake a few more minutes until cooked through.
For more great recipes, visit Take Back the Kitchen, LLC