Terra Stella's Lakshmi's Milk Tea is an exotic blend of Indian Black Teas, Coconut and Non-dairy Creamer. When I drink this, I feel as if I'm on vacation. 

I originally created this tea last October in honor of Lakshmi who is celebrated during Deepavali, the Hindu festival of lights. During this time she is invited into homes in the hopes that she will share good fortune with those who live there.

Her story tells us that she was born fully grown on a lotus flower and rose up from a milky sea. Milk is often used as an offering to her. The reason for the addition of the creamer to the tea. It creates a milky goodness as it steeps.

On our label I depicted Lakshmi as offering a cup of tea and she wears jewels that correspond to the 7 chakras. She is of course seated on her lotus flower. The koi fish swimming beneath the lotus flower symbolize perseverance in adversity and strength of purpose.

Think of prosperity, good fortune and abundance when you drink this. Who couldn't use a little more of that in life?
Several weeks ago we made the decision to eliminate flour from our diets. After reading one too many studies on the effects of flour, particularly on the arteries, we could no longer live in denial.

Although it's been challenging, it's also been fun. Well, for me.  Probably more fun for me because I was not a huge bread eater in the first place. Our children give us the proverbial "eye roll" and figure they'll wait us out, surely we'll give in eventually. The older kids can go out and buy and eat what they want so they don't care. The youngest are unaware of the changes but our middle children are panicked. 

I do think, however, if we are able to find some great substitutes, everyone will be happy. For me, it's gotta be pizza crust. I love pizza. I don't want to give up pizza.

I tried a flourless pizza dough mix last week. It wasn't bad. Not fabulous, but not bad. It has given me hope!

So what's the fun part in this? I am truly excited to try all the other grains available. There is an entire world of food out there...I watch Andrew Zimmer, I've seen some of it! And although I doubt I will eat some of the bizarre foods he does, I am willing to try a lot of things.

The first time I made something without flour I realized it's going to take some getting used to. I'm an intuitive cook, even when it comes to baking. I can tell by the feel, look, taste and smell of something if it needs more or less of this or that... Not so now. Using other grains, starches or nut flours gives it an entirely different look and feel and way of handling. It's all brand new again and for me, that's fun!

I'll be sure to share some good recipes on our recipe page as I come across them. I hope that others will share too, here and on our facebook page. 

Getting healthy and making life changes can be difficult but it also opens up new worlds and new ways of thinking. Things that are as good for your heart as giving up flour. Bon Appetit! 

Pi Day


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This year was our youngest daughter's first Pi Day. That magical day in March when we come together as a family to celebrate the mathematical constant Pi. Often we make pie foods to eat that day like quiche for breakfast, pot pies for lunch, etc. But the thing that we all look forward to the most is our annual pie eating contest, with the prize being quirky and random things usually found at the local dollar store.

Our children range in age from 22 years old down to 12 months old, so depending on work schedules and social lives sometimes not everyone can make it.  This year all seven were here.

As we are a blended family, I love being able to create some traditions that are uniquely ours. Like our Oscar night contest.  The pressure that can surround traditional holidays do not exist. The memories are shared by all and they are generally associated with the wackiness and tackiness that, as a family, we seem to embody.

Our 12 month old daughter looked at her siblings with a mixture of curiosity and disgust as they planted their faces directly into their pudding pies. Ever dainty, she tried to pick at hers with her fingers and kept her face fairly neat. I think she will take after her big brother who had the amazing capacity to eat his pie without getting any on his face.  His shell was licked so clean, I thought maybe I had found an extra pie crust that hadn't been used. 

Just like in life, our children all have their unique strategies. And just like life, it can be messy but delicious. Everyone approaches it in their own way. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose and often the prize is tacky. And that's pretty much a mathematical constant.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place rack in middle.
One 9-inch chocolate crust (Oreo is best)
½ cup white sugar
8 oz softened cream cheese
1/3 cup regular mayo
2 eggs
1 cup white chocolate chips (Ghiradelli is best)
½ tsp vanilla
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Use electric mixer and beat sugar with cream cheese until thoroughly mixed.
Add mayo and eggs and beat well.
Melt white chips in double boiler until you can stir them smoothly. Set them on counter to cool. Mix them into batter gradually. Add vanilla and mix.
Remove bowl from mixer and stir in the semi sweet chips.
Spoon batter into the crust and smooth the top.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.
Cool on a rack, then refrigerate.
Serve with whipped cream on top.
NOTE: This is so rich you may need to serve it with coffee! (or tea!!!) And a big thank you to my Aunt who sent me this amazing recipe.

I was recently flipping through the pages of a great design magazine when I came across the photo of an amazing kitchen. I immediately had two thoughts. The first was "these people don't actually cook". The second was "They don't have children". 

The open concept cabinets with all the spot free (and matching) glassware along with the photos on shelves and on the wall above the stove were my first clue. 

Perhaps it's just that at our house we're potentially over zealous cooks, but my experience has taught me that the steam from boiling water and splatter from hot oil can disperse across a broad area of the kitchen. Those fancy glasses and beautiful photos would be ruined after one evening of my husband and I in that kitchen. Dinner, however, would be amazing!

The next thing I noticed was the furry fabric covering the bar stools.  Once again, experience has taught me that the steam from boiling water and the splatter from hot oil can disperse across a broad area of the kitchen! But the main thing that came to mind were my kids. White fur covered bar stools? Who sits on those? Who would dare? I see ketchup and kool-aid all over that.  

I admit I would love to walk on plush carpeting and sit on luxuriously fluffy and high end upholstered furniture. But every day I am reminded of the logic of slipcovers and wood floors. And I am thankful for the modern invention of the washing machine.

I believe good design is not only aesthetically pleasing but functional. I love our cast iron pans. We hang them on our wall, not only because they cover a large area of a wall that quite frankly needs a little help. But they are within easy reach, we use them all the time and they look good, they add interest.  

Ease of use and accessibility are key in a kitchen. I love the idea of open cabinets. But I love the reality of doors. With 7 children in the kitchen, at all hours of the day and night, I'm just thankful if they put things away. How they put it away and where, is a whole other issue; which is why I love doors. I would hesitate to have anyone open one of our closet doors in this house. They are closed for a reason.

Utensils, oven mitts, cutting boards and knives are helpful when in close proximity to the work area. Sometimes they can be displayed in pretty containers. With the exception of knives for me.  There's something about bad feng shui when it comes to knives being out in the open. I also think it has something to do with the younger ones in the household. But we keep them in their own drawer below the shelf that holds the cutting boards.

Spices are trickier. It's best if they are not out exposed to light, heat and moisture. All of the things that happen when you cook. But it's nice to have them nearby. I go ahead and put some out in pretty jars on a shelf, then there are those in the cabinet (with a door) nearby. We use a lot of them. We go through them quickly. I tend not to worry about them being exposed to much of anything, because they're not here long enough for it to be a concern. 

As for the barstools? Save the fur for a beautiful coat or perhaps a throw pillow in the bedroom.

Ah, the bedroom...that's a whole other blog....