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Four ways to say “thank you” and express your genuine gratitude

November 26th, 2013 No Comments

Mary Rambin and her mom

Around the holidays I feel especially blessed when I hear people complaining about spending time with their family.  At that point I say, “they’re your family, make the best of it,” or just keep my mouth shut.  I feel sorry for those who can’t find love and support in their family.   I treasure treasure every single person in my family.  The idea of family is so satisfying for me, I give the same badge of honor and unconditional love to longtime friends.

This year, I had two friends I considered family let me down BIG TIME.  Oh my goodness, they broke my heart.  But life goes on I suppose.

For that reason, I think it’s important that each person in my life who I consider family or friend hear not just “I love you” but more importantly “thank you” for being in my life. 

Now, since we say “thank you” all the time, the gesture has a tendency to go in one ear and out the other.

So here are four ways I say “thank you”

so my loved ones hear me clearly and feel my gratitude.


People don’t turn away when you’re giving them praise.  They pay closer attention.  So when I say thank you, I follow it with specific instances in which that person made me feel safe, supported, and special.


At the end of the dinner or party, when you pull someone in for a hug, hold them there and say your thanks.  There is so much strength and meaning in a great hug, they’ll know you really appreciate them.


Now this is a signature Mary move.  I’ll take a normal posed picture and then insist on a “kissey picture” in which I kiss my friend (or above my mom) on the cheek.  Then I’ll email it with a specific note of thanks and love.  Sometimes I go a little farther to print it, frame it, and send it with a card that goes into how thankful I am to have them in my life.  The unusual picture is unforgettable and so is the sentiment.  My hope is that every time they see it, they will smile knowing they are adored.


This goes back to being specific.  In this scenario, you tell a story about your loved one to a group at your feast.  Your big ending is hopefully a laugh from the group followed by an ode of gratitude.  When the group sees your loved one, they’ll share your story.  The recipient will feel satisfied that he/she has affected your life in such a positive way.

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Get rid of the guilt before you chow down

November 25th, 2013 1 Comment

Mary Rambin tummy

Thinking about Thanksgiving, we all get concerned with the consequences of the feast.  Where will those extra calories will end up? As much as I wish my backside received the benefit of the extra inches, alas it’s my midsection, pictured above as I type this post.

However, I have a safety net for such occasions.  Since I exercise often, my metabolism can handle a big cheat day like Thanksgiving.  (These days, I’ve put it to the test on more than one occasion for Sunday brunch at Gjelina.)

Is your body prepared and trained for the big day, or should I say, the holiday season?

Exercise revs up your metabolism for 24 hours. So before your body is charged with dealing with turkey, gravy, stuffing, pies, and whatever else is part of your tradition, shift it into overdrive.

Some of you have the luxury of your gym, SoulCycle, or your favorite studio near by.  Others of you don’t.

If you’re in a major city, click here and find a group fitness class near you.

If you’re in the boonies while visiting family, click here and get a workout you can do anywhere.

Start ASAP and then eat to your tummy’s content!

Since you’ve started exercising, you might as well keep it up through the holiday season. Right?! :)

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6 ways to lighten your load for Thanksgiving

November 14th, 2013 No Comments

For those of you who host family and friends at your house, you must be getting stressed already.  So much to do!  As much as I’m sure you love it (I would), it doesn’t hurt to be efficient and take some of the angst out of the event.

Here are 5 suggestions to hopefully help lift some of the weight off your shoulders:


People are always asking what they can make or bring.  This year take them up on their offer.  Make a list so everyone brings one dish.  Be prepared to offer a recipe so they don’t feel intimidated by having to hunt for a credible one online.

Here is a list of links to healthy basic recipes I think you’ll love.  Also consider this Whole Wheat Dressing.  Click here to get my recipe for pumpkin pie from scratch.


Substitue the calorie-killing baked dishes with salads or grilled veg.  People might actually find the greens refreshing combined with the heavier dishes.

Try these hearty salads you can make ahead of time.


Even though I’m totally against bringing purchased food to holiday parties, I make an exception for Goode Company Pecan Pies.  Admittedly, they are better than mine.  One bite into it and people’s jaws will be dropping begging for the link to order for Christmas.  Order them NOW so you save on shipping.


People are notorious for just grabbing plates and glasses like they’re disposable.  Inform guests there is one plate and glass per person, and they’re welcome to fill it up as many times as they’d like.  Stick to it!  For dessert, maybe you use nice paper plates.

Also, before the feast begins, make sure the dishwasher is completely empty so you can load it to the brim as people finish eating.


If you’re starving yourself to “save room” for the feast, let me fill you in on why that’s a bad idea.  First of all, if you don’t eat breakfast, your metabolism won’t be raring to go when it’s time to dig in.  If you’re hungry, you’ll snack while you wait or double down when you fill your plate. Finally, without a meal, your blood sugar will be low which means you’ll be cranky and irritable.  Thanksgiving is stressful enough without your body working against you.


When you buy fresh flowers, they need a couple days to open.  If you do them a couple days before the feast, you’ll get the task checked off your list and the arrangements will have time to come to life.

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Quick addition for your Thanksgiving spread

November 20th, 2012 1 Comment

Just posted this on BLAST900’s blog from their resident healthy chef, Lesley Palmer.  Looks amazing!

Whole – Wheat Dressing with Wild Rice


  • 1/3 cup wild rice
  • 2 TBS Olive Oil
  • 1 Yellow Onion, finely chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, thinly sliced diagonally
  • 1 cup shredded carrot
  • 1 TBS chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • ½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 12oz whole-wheat bread, cut or torn into ¾-inch pieces (about 12 cups) NOTE: Opt for bread that has a thicker, crunchier crust as opposed to softer one
  • 1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • Olive Oil Cooking Spray


1.     In a medium saucepan on high, bring 4 cups water to a boil. Add rice, reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until very tender, about 50 minutes.

2.     Meanwhile, in a large skillet on medium, heat oil. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally for 4 minutes. Add carrot and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are very tender, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and add thyme and pepper. Stir in bread, then broth and gently stir to evenly moisten. Remove about 1/3 of the bread mixture and transfer to a medium bowl. Set both bowls aside.

3.     Mist a 2 – 2 ½ qt casserole dish with cooking spray and set aside. Drain rice. Stir rice into larger bowl of bread mixture, then transfer to the prepared baking dish, spread evenly. Top with reserved 1/3 cup bread mixture, spreading evenly.

4.     Preheat Oven to 400 degrees F. Cover with foil and bake until heated through, 20 to 30 minutes. Uncover and bake until browned on top, 20 to 30 minutes.

Serves – 10 

Serving  1 cup – Calories – 193, Fat – 6g, Carbs – 27g, Protein 6g

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REAL pumpkin pie for your holiday celebrations

November 1st, 2012 No Comments

By now you probably know I don’t like to eat or use canned/processed foods (and that my food photography sucks).  This has always been what’s held me back from making pumpkin pie.  That, and Aunt Judy makes her “famous” one at Thanksgiving.  But I never asked for her recipe because she uses canned pumpkin puree.

This year, with a request to make the classic, I decided to do it right, from real pumpkin to pie, from flour to crust, from cream to whipped creme.

Pumpkin Pie with Brown Sugar-Walnut Topping

Bon Appetit November 2009 via Epicurious

Servings:  I made one small pie and 4 ramekins.  It’s supposed to be one deep dish pie, but I like to spread the sweets amongst friends :)


Walnut Topping

  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces
  • 1/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of fine sea salt

Pumpkin Pie Filling

  • 1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar (many reviewers said to use 1/2 cup, I used 3/4 cup to make up for lack of sweetness in fresh pumpkin)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup canned pure pumpkin OR fresh roasted pumpkin (you need about 4 small ones)
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream (I used 1/2 creme, 1/2 2% milk)
Martha Stewart’s Crust
  • 1 1/2 cups of flour (I use stone ground wheat) spooned and leveled
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter cut into small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons ice water
My Whipped Creme
  • heavy whipping creme
  • agave syrup
  • vanilla


For crust
In a food processor, pulse flour, sugar, and salt.  Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles course meal.  Add water and pulse until dough is crumbly but holds together when squeezed.  If needed you can add up to 2 more tablespoons of water, but no more than that.  On a work surface, knead dough and until it comes together.  Flatten dough into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for at least one hour.  (MR NOTE: I divide dough into two discs and leave one in the freezer to use at a later date.  OR I freeze one and then just use the rest to press directly into the pie pan, without freezing.)
Position oven rack in bottom third of oven; preheat to 350°F.  To prebake the crust, place it on a piece of wax/parchment paper and expand it with your knuckles.  Martha then suggests to lift the paper to wrap the dough around a rolling pin to flatten.  I take pieces and press it into the pan with my fingers.  Mostly because I don’t have a rolling pin.  It actually works and creates a crumbly crust.

Line pan with crust and then line with  nonstick foil and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake until crust is set, about 20 minutes. Gently remove foil and beans.  Cool crust completely on a rack. Maintain oven temperature.

For filling

Preheat oven to 450.

Cut open four small pumpkins, remove seeds, roast cut side down at 450 until the flesh is soft.  About an hour and a half.  Let pumpkin cool and then scoop out flesh from skin.  Put into a food processor, turn on high, and then add water or milk slowly.  I added a teaspoon of butter as well.

Whisk brown sugar, eggs, sea salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves in medium bowl. Add pumpkin and cream and whisk until well blended and smooth.

Pour filling into crust. Bake pie until filling is firm, covering crust with foil collar if browning too quickly, about 30 minutes.

Sprinkle topping evenly over top of pie. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F; continue to bake pie until filling is set and slightly puffed in center, about 15 minutes longer. Transfer pie to rack and cool completely.

DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Tent with foil and chill. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.

For walnut topping

Combine all ingredients. Using on/ off turns, blend to fine crumbs.

DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Store in airtight container at room temperature.

For whipped creme:

Put beaters and glass or metal bowl in freezer for 20 minutes.
Pour at least 1 cup heavy whipping creme into the chilled bowl.  Beat electric mixer on high until creme starts to stiffen.  Add about a teaspoon of agave and blend.  Add about 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla and blend.  Taste and add agave or vanilla if needed.  Blend until creme peaks but is not stiff.  DO NOT OVER-BEAT.
Lasts only 2 days.
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November 21st, 2011 No Comments


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6 things you’ll need to pack for your Thanksgiving travels

November 18th, 2011 No Comments

I’m not sure if I’m the only one who still goes to my grandparent’s house for Thanksgiving, but most people seem to go somewhere.  Here are are some of the things I absolutely do not forget when I make the trek 3 hours south to Small Town, Texas that you might not consider taking with you.

  1. Shampoo and Conditioner: Most people stock their guest bathrooms so we don’t pack these two cleansers.  I say take them because you never know what will be in there. Check out 3Floz.com for your brand in a small
  2. Wireless Hotspot: Wifi is either really good or really bad in most people’s houses.  At my grandparents’ house in Woodsboro, they don’t have it at all.  I like the Verizon 4G LTE MiFi as an option if it doesn’t come on your phone.
  3. Nighttime tank and wrap:  around this time people still have trouble finding the right indoor temperature.  Be prepared for both.
  4. A bottle of wine:  Again, you never know what will be on tap, and if the family gets rowdy, you’ll need something to help you unwind.  (Hmm…maybe you should take bourbon instead….)
  5. Justin’s almond butter in chocolate or maple:  Get one plate of dessert and be  done with it.  Instead of hitting round 2 later that evening, bust open of these to satisfy lingering cravings for more pecan pie.  Plus, they’re filling!
  6. Running shoes:  Access to a gym could be limited and I know you don’t want to let yourself go completely. Enjoy a nice jog around the neighborhood.  Maybe you’ll throw in some push ups and crunches :)


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Wine with your turkey?

November 24th, 2010

The secret to choosing a wine for your Thanksgiving feast is to pair it with your stuffing, according to Snooth.

If you’re still shopping for the right grape, click through to this article for guidance.

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