Food Thoughts: Pork Lo Mein


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I love taking some of our favorite dishes and cooking them in a lighter and healthier version. I am the owner of many cookbooks, but I recently purchased Jennifer Iserloh’s Secret of a Skinny Chef and I’m LOVING it!  The Pork Lo Mein is about the fourth dish I’ve cooked from it and she hasn’t failed me yet….


1/2 cup of orange juice (or the juice from 1 orange)

1/2 cup reduced sodium, fat-free chicken broth

2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons peanut butter

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon red chili flakes or hot chili sauce

1 tablespoon sesame oil

2 center cut pork chops (about 1/2lb), fat trimmed, thinly sliced

1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced

2 cups shiitake mushrooms (about 4 oz), sliced

1 lb collard greens, thinly sliced

1 8 oz package soba noodles, cooked according to the package instructions and drained

1 8-oz can sliced water chestnuts, drained

4 scallions chopped


In a small bowl, whisk the orange juice, broth, soy sauce, peanut butter, garlic and red chili flakes or chili sauce until smooth. Set aside. Heat the sesame oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the pork, bell pepper, shiitakes and collard greens. Cook 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables start to soften.

Add the noodles to the skillet with the vegetables.  Add the orange juice mixture, water chestnuts and scallions. Toss well to coat. Cook 1 or 2 additional minutes, until the sauce reduces slightly and the noodles are hot. Serve immediately.

A parent’s unfair deal!


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Ever since having my third child this past summer, I have been a bit baffled and outraged by America’s lax views on paid maternity leave.  In order to have a measly 6 weeks at home with my daughter, I had to exhaust my entire annual and sick leave plus take leave without pay through my first year of employment.  So from this point forward if I get sick or need to take time off, then I must do it unpaid.  I also decided to start a flex schedule so I would at least have a day off every two weeks for doctor’s appointments for myself or the kids.  It really saddens me that women are stressed about how much time they can comfortably spend with their babies because of financial constraints. 

I changed jobs in the middle of my pregnancy, I was working for a European organization for which I would have received four months of partially paid maternity leave, plus I would have used my annual leave to give me a total of five months off (trust me this was a hard benefit to walk away from).  After accepting my new position with the feds I was told that the federal government does not offer maternity leave.  That never occurred to me!  How can one of the world’s largest employers not offer maternity leave?  Now that’s crazy! You mean to tell me that I’m not valued enough as an employee for you to offer me 75% of my pay while I’m home caring for my child.  You mean you don’t value your organization enough to realize that if a woman is at work worried about her baby, then she’s definitely not going to be giving you her all! 

Currently the United States offers 12 weeks of unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act.  Companies with fewer than 50 employees are actually exempted from this.  We need to do better.

Here is what I propose: offer 12 weeks partially paid leave (75%) for the mother and the father.  When I was away from my job, we didn’t bring in any temps or pay someone extra to cover my projects.  My colleague simply picked up the work load.  So what is it really costing my organization to cover my maternity leave?  Now I know that this is not the case for all organizations and businesses. I recognize that some small businesses could take a hit for offering maternity leave.   As with a lot of social issues, I don’t think that there will ever be a perfect solution, but we must start somewhere!   I know I’ve been told that the United States doesn’t compete well when paired with other countries, so I did some research and found a visual of just how badly we do:

Some of the conversations I’ve had helped me realize why this country is dragging its feet.  I’ve hear from men and women alike say things such as, “isn’t that what sick leave is for?”  “Why should a pregnant woman be allowed to save her annual/sick leave and only use maternity leave?”  “Companies should not be forced to pay a woman to have a baby, it’s a personal choice.”   Are you kidding me?!  Having a baby is a personal choice, but what in the hell are we going to do?  Stop populating the earth because America refuses to progress!!  Ugh!

What are your thoughts on this?  What are your company’s policies on maternity leave?  Do you think America needs to do better? Will there ever be a fair way to do it or is it just one of those things that need the band aid ripped off?

Aspiring Mondays: The year of the girl!

One of my main goals of this blog is to inspire, motivate and encourage girls and women.  I think we are the backbones of our community so I don’t know if anyone else has noticed, but 2012 has been an interesting year for girls and women!  It’s the year of the girl!

Bear with me  as I highlight a few things that have happened thus far.  This list is not by any means exhaustive or in any particular order, just my own observations, so here goes.

  • Someone actually started a petition against Basketball Wives…it’s about time someone said enough is enough!
  • We are at the crossroads of a critical election for women. If you don’t understand what this election could mean for women, then I encourage you to study up on your candidates views and issues. Also, think about the fact that whoever becomes president has somewhat of a upperahnd in the supreme court.  
  • We had our first International Day of the Girl on last Tuesday, which is a resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly to recognize the empowerment and investment in girls.
  • Amanda De Cadenet started a great show on Lifetime called The Conversation where she has intimate and real conversations with female celebrities (this show doesn’t get nearly as much publicity as it should). 
  • Oprah Winfrey’s Academy has its first graduating class! YAY!
  • Gabbie Douglas took home the GOLD and carried herself very well against ridiculous comments about her hair!
  • Women have figured out ways to hold down home and make an income, which is nothing new, but this time we are doing it from the comfort of our homes. I mean can we give a nod to the inventions of blogs!  I have never heard so many women say that they are the sole breadwinners or that their husbands actually work for…ahemwith them!

All of the aforementioned have always mattered to me, but they matter even more now that I have a daughter.  I have never felt so compelled and moved to make a difference and live out my passions than I was last February after finding out that I was carrying a girl.  Having Olivia has upped the ante for me. I have wanted a daughter since I even knew what it meant to have a family, but I don’t think that I would have been more prepared than right now in my life.  There are so many opportunities out here for us, but we must be active in taking them whether that is by voting, entrepreneurship, maintaining good health, staring important conversations…..whatever.

I basically want to say that this is our time as women. We have so many incredible things going on as always. Let’s keep this momentum going.  I encourage you to get involved with what I’m going to call the “Girls movement”.  What do you think about all of the opportunities and challenges that women and girls are facing?  Do you think 2012 has been an interesting year for us?

Chic Wednesdays: Leather neva cracks baby!


I don’t know if anyone has noticed, but leather has stuck around for the last few years and it seems to be in vogue this year as well.  Long gone are the days where leather is risque or gives off an “I got lost in the ’80s vibe.”  Though if you want to go for that, then be my guest! Fashion has gone to new heights and boundaries so a lot of things work!   Leather can be worn to the office, out on the town or for simply running Saturday errands.  I mean if you are one of those people who need to get dolled up to run errands!   What I want to do today is give you some tips for rocking leather skirt and pants:

  • A pleated leather skirt can be prim and proper with a nice feminine shirt. A long sleeve sheer shirt with ruffles is what I’m envisioning here. A nice cream with a black pleated skirt is puuurrrfect! Grab yourself a pair of peep toe heels and you’re good!
  • You don’t have to stick with black when wearing leather, especially skirts.  There are some nice warm tones available like cream, wine, red (bold) and mustard yellow to name a few I’ve seen
  • Leather pants don’t always have to be done up.  Throw on your favorite white tee or a simple tank with a cardigan. My all time favorite suggestion was to rock them with a varsity jacket.  It takes away the edge and goes for a nice chill fall look.  Don’t have that varsity jacket on hand anymore?  Hit up a thrift store!
  • Though summer is over, lace is another great way to tone down the edginess of leather.  Lace and leather go great together and balance each other out.
  • Leather pants can also be worn with a nice pair of stilettos for a cocktail party OR ankle boots and sneakers for a casual afternoon.
  • Last but not least the care of leather.  Leather is inevitably going to start slouching after so many wears and there really isn’t anything you can do about that. So I would suggest buying them a size smaller. Before the first wear spray a light layer of leather protectant over the exterior. Dry. Repeat. Dry again and you’re ready to wear.  If you stain them, take a cloth wet with warm water and mildly wipe off makeup, food, deodorant, etc. Last, but not least, note a dry cleaning service that specializes in cleaning leather.

There you have it!  Start shopping and start dressing!

P.S.: As I say with all fashion, please be sure to find pieces that suit your body and makes YOU feel comfortable. 

Stay Chic!

Aspiring Mondays: Easing the weekend load!


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Happy Monday everyone!  I hope everyone is taking advantage of the long weekend, I have had an absolute blast this past weekend. I’ve enjoyed the company of one of my best friends and we really got it in this weekend! Presidential debate party, girl’s day, the farm… this nice crisp Columbus Day is looking like a day of rest!

So I want to inspire everyone to make the most of their weeknights so that you can enjoy more of your weekend.  I hope this is helpful!

So as a working mother, I hate getting to the weekend and having a thousand and one things to do that don’t involve fun, quality time with the hubby and kids!  Also, soccer season has started up again at our house….soooo our Saturdays are spent running from one game to another and maybe having a little lunch in between.  Here are some solutions that help me make the most of my week and ease my domestic workload on the weekend.

  1. Do a load of laundry per weeknight.  You’d be surprised at how little time it takes to wash, dry and fold while watching the tele
  2. Washing dishes as you cook.  You’re on your feet any way and usually there is something baking, sautéing or frying use the intervals between tending to your food to get some dishes done.
  3. Clean the bathroom. Most bathrooms aren’t but so big.  Choose your most lackluster TV night and forego 30 minutes of TV for the sake of having  a clean bathroom for the weekend
  4. Take 20 minutes to organize that junk drawer that you roll your eyes at every time you have to go into it for something.
  5. Create 3 week meal plans.  I say three weeks because most grocery stores rotate on 3 week sales schedules and you are usually in the mood for one of your favorite dishes again after a few weeks. If you create meal plans in advance, then it saves you money and time.
  6. In addition to the above, keep a running list of things that you run out of on the refrigerator. As soon as you run out of something, write it on the list, especially easily forgotten items like spices, butter, condiments, etc.
  7. Take the time to set up an online account for all of your bills.  Maybe I’m the only one guilty of this, but I was spending way too much time at the post office (yes money orders are my friend) and making automated phone calls.  Now I do 95% of my banking online and I pay most of our bills online. The only one that I haven’t turned over is the rent….which I could simplify this payment by setting up a monthly transfer.

Voila!  I hope this information was helpful.  I know the great feeling of getting to the weekend and not feeling overwhelmed by a long chore list. Are weekend chores taking over your life?  Do you have any helpful hints to easing the load?  What works for your family?

Chic Wednesdays: Cobalt Blue


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Ladies I am on a mission to find a dress!  Not just any dress, but a blue dress.  Cobalt blue that is.  As with so many styles, it is sticking around this season after debuting in the spring.   I first laid eyes on it when Beyoncé was wearing a Stella Cartney design to an Obama fundraising event (look Bey inspires me so you’ll be hearing a lot about her…only when its relevant though, I promise).

The cobalt blue dress has become the new LBD. You can pair it with a cute blazer or a leopard print shoe or a heel or a flat…I mean the list goes on and on and on.  THe cobalt blue dress works for the office, a dinner date or a formal event.  I just love it. The color is rich and electric at the same time. I also love it because it’s one of those colors that can be done up or played down.  I’m excited….I’ll let you know what I find!

Aspiring Mondays: D.C. Mornings


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In case I haven’t informed you, I LOVE D.C.!  I’ve dreamt of living here since the fourth grade and even though I live outside the city, I work and play IN the city!  However one of the things that I take for granted is the location of my office. I work downtown right near the White House. It’s so pretty and the buildings have so much character. So I thought I’d share my morning coffee walk with you……..there’s more to come in the future;}

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Chic Wednesdays: Let’s not skirt around the matter


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Ladies,  skinny jeans and stuffy pants are on hold and skirts are here to stay this fall season!  We can now feel feminine, stylish and fierce whether we are in the office or hanging out with the girls! So I’m going to give you a quick rundown on what’s in and how to wear them!

  1. Pleated skirt…yes you read right and these are not your grandmother’s pleats!  I’m talking fun, free moving and nice bold printed skirts that can be rocked with a bootie or a heel. As for covering the top, a blazer or classic knit will go well with these. While the days are still pleasant, I say leave the stockings at home, but as it gets colder, then tights will go well.
  2. Full skirts. These can be rocked with a flat or even a riding boot and they are veerrrry forgiving on troublesome spots such as the midsection.
  3. The pencil skirt has swung back around and they can be worn on most body types.  Just as in the past, a nice button down will work well.  I say always go with a fierce heel with the pencil skirt.
  4. The maxi skirt is perfect for an evening event paired with a glamorous blouse. However I have been noticing a lot of women wearing very casual versions of the maxi skirt with a casual knit or paired with a tank and blazer.
  5. And last, but not least…the infamous mini!  Now I’ve heard stylists and other women alike say that the mini should not be worn after 30, buuuuutttt in my best Beyoncé voice: “If you goooot it flaaaauuunt it!” Also, the great thing about the mini is that with a nice pair of boots it can swing you right into winter. Oh one more thing…..never do minis at the office….whew…..that was a close one!

In the meantime….stay chic!

Food Thoughts: Creamy Spinach Penne with Marinara


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1/2 pound Trader Joes whole wheat penne

2 T sea salt, divided

1 T Olive oil

3 eggs

1 1/2 cups Whole Foods 365 whole milk Ricotta Cheese

1 cup Parmesan Reggiano

2 cloves garlic, minced

16 oz Whole Food 365 frozen spinach

1 cup Trader Joe’s Tomato Basil marinara, heated

Trader Joe’s Black Peppercorns with grinder

1 T Garlic powder

1 T Onion powder

1. Boil 2 quarts water (add salt and olive oil, if desired)

2. Mix eggs, garlic  ricotta, parmesan cheese, 1T salt and  pepper in large bowl and  set  aside

3. Boil whole wheat pasta for 10 minutes

4. Cook spinach according to package directions. Drain.

5. Season spinach with remaining salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder.

6. Drain Pasta. Add pasta and spinach to cream mixture in bowl, mix well.

7. Distrubute marinara over four bowls. Top with Pasta. Add grated parmesan

Serve Immediately.


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