Almond milk

I made some beautiful home-made almond milk this week. It was so easy, and tasted so amazing that I don’t think I’ll ever buy the boxed stuff again!

1 cup raw almonds (organic if you can).
2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional).

Take the almonds and soak them in a bowl of water overnight.

In the morning, drain the water and rinse the almonds.

Then put the almonds and 2 cups of fresh water in the blender and turn it on high. (Add the vanilla if you want it in there.)

Take a mesh sieve and line it with some cheese cloth, then set it over a deep bowl. Pour the almond milk through that, allowing the solids collect in the cloth, and the milk to pool in the bowl.

I like to squeeze the last bits of goodness out of the cloth before I’m done.

I save the nut meat in a container and add it to pancakes and stuff, but feel free to toss it if you don’t think you’ll use it.

Then transfer the milk to a glass pitcher (like this awesome one I have from The Container Store) or a glass mason jar and refrigerate.

It will elevate your morning coffee, or afternoon latte, like nothing you’ve experienced before!

It’s kind of a big deal…!


Truffles. Truffles? Truffles!

I think this might be one of the most amazing things ever.

Two weeks ago I was back home in TX for a short weekend trip.

My sister’s best friend and I eat similarly, and we were exchanging recipes and trolling through Pintrest to find new ideas as we sat in a car for hours.

We realized we both pinned these really yummy Paleo “rolos” so we decided to stop at Whole Foods that night and pick up the stuff to give it a try.

Honestly they were way too sweet for me.

So I modified the recipe and here’s my version:

6 dates (pits removed)
1 – 2 cups of almond meal (depending on the moisture content of the dates)
Dark unsweetened organic chocolate
Coconut oil
Unsweetened coconut flakes
Coarse sea salt
Chi seeds

In a food processor, combine the dates and enough almond flour so that the mixture will hold together – but not so much that it falls apart. The only way to really test it is to take about a tablespoon out and see if you can form it into a ball and have it hold it’s shape.

Then roll the entire mixture into balls and freeze them for about 10 minutes.

While they’re chillin’, melt 1/4 of the bar of chocolate with 1 tablespoon of coconut oil.

Get another plate ready and put a little coconut oil on it to prevent sticking.

When the balls come out of the freezer, dip them in the chocolate mixture and then either roll them in the chia seed or the coconut. Either way, give a generous sprinkle of coarse sea salt to finish it off.

Put them back in the freezer for another 10 minutes and viola! A little bite of heaven!

And BTW, my son who hates dark chocolate in general, LOVES the ones rolled in coconut – even though it’s still covered in dark chocolate.

Try them.

I can’t guarantee you won’t eat them all yourself though!

(that’s why I only have one little picture of these guys…)


Paleo brunch


I love brunch!

And I love having people over on Sunday morning for a lazy breakfast that slowly bleeds into lunch.

It’s one of my favorite play-dates actually, having friends with kids over at about 9 am. We’re all up early anyway. And the kids play and us adults can talk and really catch up!

But brunch is a bit more challenging for me when I’m not eating any dairy, grains or sugar. I mean there’s really nothing better than a beautiful slice of crusty bread slathered with fresh butter and homemade jam! But alas…I would be in a sleep coma a few hours later.

So I abstain.

But my new favorite weekend breakfast is something inspired by an amazing Girls Weekend at the Four Seasons in Vegas earlier this year. What a fun trip that was!

It’s all kinds of yummie veggies either roasted in the oven or cooked stove-top in a cast iron skillet. Then you add poached eggs to the top and some beautifully roasted tomatoes.

Here’s how I did it – but feel free to use any combo of veggies you like!

serves 6:
(1-2 eggs per person)

1 red or yellow onion
2 zucchini
1 yellow pepper
1 bunch of asparagus
8 mushrooms
6 kale leaves (curly or Dino)
5 Roma tomatoes
olive oil
S and P
10 eggs
1 Tbs white vinegar for the poaching liquid
2 diced red Potatoes
Corn cut from one cob

Preheat your oven to 420.

Also heat a pot of water and add your vinegar to it. This will be for poaching the eggs, and the vinegar will help them stay together.

Cut the Roma tomatoes in half and rub them all with olive oil, sprinkle with s and p and place cut side up on a baking sheet.

Stick them in the oven for about 20 min.

Then chop all the veggies (except the tomatoes) into about 1/2 pieces.

Heat your large (16in cast iron skillet on med heat.

Sauté the first 5 veggies with olive oil and s and p. make sure to give them a little time in one place before you stir it up so it gets a roasted feel. When they’re about done, add the kale. This is so it stays fresh and green.

While those are cooking away, and when your water starts to boil, get started poaching the eggs 2 or 3 at a time. (Tip for egg poaching, crack them into a small bowl first, then dip that bowl into the water and use it to gently lay the egg in the water.) The eggs only need about 3 minutes each so keep an eye on them. when they’re done, remove them with a slotted spoon onto a paper towel.

After the tomatoes have roasted, add them into your skillet and then lay the poached eggs on top.

I’m telling you, UH-mazing!

Tip: If you need to keep it warm you can put the whole thing in the oven for a few minutes but those poached eggs will be come “over hard” if you don’t watch it.

Also, when I have hard-woking men-folk over I’ll add the corn and potatoes to the veggie mix. Just be sure to start with the potatoes (and some onions and garlic) for a few minutes before you add the rest of the veggies, because they take longer to cook.

Serve it all in the cast iron skillet, with a side of uncured, nitrate-free, pepper bacon and loaf of fresh crusty bread for your non-Paleo guests.


And let me know what you think of it. I’d love to hear your feed-back!



Mommy snacks

I’m kind of a creature of habit. And the hardest habit to break is the one where I sit down after I get the kids in bed and enjoy a little snack. When I was breastfeeding that snack could easily be coconut ice cream or rice chips or some other “junk food”. But now that I’m not burning all those extra calories I have to choose my snacks more judiciously.

So my latest Paleo-friendly, low-cal snack is this:
Turned into this:

I take a beautiful, crisp fuji apple and slice it really thinly then squeeze 1/2 a lemon all over it. Then I liberally sprinkle cinnamon on the top and add a dash of coarse sea salt.

Try it! It’s addicting….

Birthday pool party

This past weekend we celebrated my son’s 8th birthday. We had a small pool party, but I added a few touches here and there to make it seem more festive than our normal weekend bashes.
It started with beach balls hung over the gate and a super cool “8” I made out of stryafoam wreaths and paper drink umbrellas. 20130810-002005.jpg
I created a beach/summer themed table-scape complete with nutter-butter flip-flops and snacks in a sand pail.20130810-002249.jpg
I also put lots of fresh Sumer fruit in waffle cones to make them more appealing to the kids, especially the younger siblings that came along.
I took the label off of some light blue colored Gatorade and printed new labels for the refreshing “pool water”.
But the kids’ favorite snack on the table was absolutely the “sun bathing bears”. 20130811-185421.jpg
It’s was simply blue jello that I mixed in a large pitcher and then carefully poured into clear plastic cups, filling them about 1/3 of the way up. Then I put them all on a cookie sheet that I lined with a dish towel so they didn’t slide, and put them in the fridge for a few hours. Right before I was ready to serve them I finished it all up with a layer of thick whipped cream (Or you can use cool whip. I’m not a fan of all those chemicals, but it will hold up a little better.) I topped the cream with a fine crumble of graham crackers and laid out a “towel” of fruit strip (or you can cut a fruit roll-up into a strip). I laid a teddy graham bear on the towel and gave him a drink umbrella for some shade and a gummy life saver to play with. They’re adorable!
Instead of birthday cake my little guy wanted his signature doughnut cake. He loves doughnuts but his birthday is just about the only day of the year he gets them. So he really gets them!20130818-204553.jpg
The kids had a great time swimming and playing on the waterslide. And later on we had my son’s favorite real food. Organic bean burritos from Sharkeys!

I had a great time creating all the fun decorations and the kids ha a great time eating them. That makes it a success in my book!20130818-205047.jpg20130818-215500.jpgc

Confession #102

I’ve undertaken a very scientific experiment over the last 2 weeks. Very technical. Very detailed.

It’s a clinical trial and the subject matter is food.

Since I though it would be fun, I was the “patient”.

Normally I only eat organic and non-GMO foods, but also no dairy, no grains, and no refined sugars.

That means when we go out I generally abstain from eating a lot of the foods that are available to me. Of course I’ll eat non-organic foods when I’m out – I’m not that much of a douche bag.  But I do stay away from grains, dairy and refined sugar.

I certainly don’t make it the host’s problem and I never say, “oh, no – I don’t eat that.” I hate it when people tell me that at my parties!

But it does mean that at a typical kids birthday party I indulge in a bottle of water and maybe some fruit  or veggies if they’re available.

Recently I decided to fore-go my typical style of eating and eat all food offered to me at parties and social gatherings and such. Kind of letting loose because it summer and all.

Why deprive myself of such wonderful things as pizza, cake and ice-cream?! It can’t be that bad. I used to eat this stuff all the time. I bet I won’t even notice a difference.

OMG, I feel like crap.

I need a nap every day.

I’ve gained 6 lbs.

This experiment is OVER!




Worst flight ever!

If you’re not in my intimate circle, it’s probable you’ve never heard this story. It’s about the worst fight I’ve ever taken – at least to date

And as I’m sitting here on a plane with my two kids right now, flying to Texas to see family, yet peacefully blogging away undisturbed, I’m reminded of that fateful trip a few years ago.

My kids were about 13 months and 5 yrs old. We were flying to Texas to see the grandparents for Easter weekend. I choose to fly Southwest since you get to choose your own seats. I figured if there were ANY other seats available on the flight, no one would choose to sit next to a lady and two small kids. (my 13 mo old daughter was a lap-child at the time.)

Of note, I love Southwest Airlines. They’re always so friendly and make it really fun for the kids to fly. They’re also super relaxed and that makes the flight fun for us as parents.

But on this particular flight. It was bad. Real bad.

It started off with being delayed at the gate for over two hours. And I had the flight timed perfectly so that the kids would knock out about 30 minutes into the air!

Oh well.

So now we board the plane and it’s way past bed-time and they are over-tired and super cranky. But I’m a mom. I deal with this all the time. No big deal.

We get to a nice empty section in the back and take a whole row, somewhat close to the bathrooms. As we’re settling in, the flight attendant comes on to inform us that due to the delays, we will be having a full flight and almost every seat will be taken. ALMOST every seat – whew! Close one.

But it turned out my relief was too soon. Because right before the cabin door closed a nice young man ran onto the plane looking for the last seat. Which was in our row….

He was super nice and very friendly. We learned that we had mutual friends in our industry and I learned he didn’t have any kids. Or nieces or nephews. Or friends with kids. This is key as you will soon see.

About an hour into the flight my kids are still wide awake and getting even more cranky. The baby is all over the place and doesn’t want to sit on my lap. The 5 yr old is complaining that the baby keeps touching him and and messing with the movie so he can’t watch it. You know the drill.

So I give in and let the baby play on the dirty, disgusting floor by my feet. And the guy keeps talking to me.

He keeps talking….!

I’m trying to get the kids to chill out and sleep. But the sweet young man continues to talk. I even tell him at one point, ” I think we should stop talking so I can get these guys to sleep.”


Silence from our Aisle Partner lasts a full 7 minutes.

And since they’re not asleep yet it obviously warrant a comment of,
“Looks like they’re not tired. Can I share my M and M’s with them.”

Uh, no you can’t!

But before I can even respond, he reaches over me, his hand full of the colorful delights and displays them right in front of their eager little faces.

Are you kidding me?!?!

I can’t stop them before they’ve been snatched up and are in their greedy little mouths.

But this guy thinks he’s helping so I can’t in good faith have a “come to Jesus meeting” right now about that.
So I suggest that we probably shouldn’t have any more of that and let then try to fall asleep.


Oh an did I mention that while my son LOVES chocolate, it gives him an upset stomach.

It’s okay. It’s only a flight. They can’t stay awake the ENTIRE time….can they?

So of course a few minutes later my son complains of a tummy ache. He might just need a trip to the restroom but the fasten seatbelt sign is still on and he says he can wait. He just wants to relax.

Now realize my 13 mo old was teething, as babies are known to do, and that made her even more fussy so she was chewing on her finger to help relieve the pain.

The nice man next to me felt compelled to mention that the floor was probably dirty and she shouldn’t put her finger in her mouth.

Dude, seriously….

After being an M and M’s dispensary you want to give parenting advice?!

I politely agree that it probably is pretty dirty, but it’s a better solution than continually trying to stop her from doing it. Besides, it will probably boost her immune system.

Well while I’m saying this, my daughter sticks her finger so far back that she gags. But she’s standing right in front of my tired 5 yr old son, who already has an upset stomach, who sees this and immediately yells “she’s gonna throw up!”

And yes, she does!

My son jumps up just in time to miss it. But it’s only a little bit, a tablespoon or so. More like spit-up really, so we’re fine. We clean it up off the seat with a wet wipe and go on about the flight much in the same fashion as before: child #1 tired and whining, child #2 tired and teething and fussy, man next to me chatting incessantly.

Oh and did I mention the “fasten seat belt” sign was still on? we’re over an hour into the flight and there’s no sign of turbulence.

But now my son really has an upset stomach and has to use the bathroom.

So he stands up on the chair, grabs his parts and lets me know what’s up and where he’s headed.

Except this guy is on the aisle and he “doesn’t feel comfortable letting a child get up while the seatbelt sign is on.”

Oh sir, would you feel more comfortable covered in urine.

He obviously has no real life experience with the bathroom reaction time of a 5 yr old boy. By the time they originate they have to use it, they need it NOW. So I convince him to let my son out into the asile.

While he’s gone I start to nurse the baby to try to get her to sleep since we have a few minutes of peace (and a full seat separating us.)

That’s when I get the “oh you’re still doing that” comment.


And of course she comes off the boob because someone started talking again and she’s so tired that everything is distracting her. I swear my kids seem to run on pure adrenaline when they are overtired.

I try to get her back on, but she’s full, and not having any more of it. So I put the goods away and calmly explain the health benefits of breastfeeding to our row partner.

Then my son comes back and I shuffle to get them both back in a happy spot. Me at the window, her standing on the floor playing with my lap and my son in the middle seat.

All is good.

Man is quiet, son is getting drowsy, baby is playing happily.

Then it happens.

She finally sticks her finger a bit too far back in her mouth and gags. For real. And then again. And then again.

And the milk comes up.

All over my lap.

And on my jeans and my seat.

Then it immediately starts running over to my sons seat.

That’s when he notices it and starts gagging.

One is full on vomiting on me and the other is dry heaving – about to go.

So I ask the guy on the end to please stand up so my son can run to the bathroom.

“But he just went.”


Me – “He needs to go again, now.”
Him – “I’m just really not comfortable with all movement when the seat belt sign is still on.”

O. M. G.

My son ignores him and climbs right over him and races to the bathroom.

Good for you, Little Buddy.

And as that’s happening I grab the baby and blanket and start mopping up enough of the mess so that I too can go to the restroom.

And she does it again….!

Only this time it’s in my hair and right on my chest and it’s A LOT and it immediately runs right down the inside of my shirt, into my bra and down my stomach onto my jeans from the top now and all over the seat on the other side of me.

What do I do?!!!

I look right into the baby’s eyes. The smell is immediate and intense. I’m shocked. I actually have a moment where I’m paralyzed by indecision, because I’m not sure she’s all done yet.

And she looks right at me and starts laughing.


It’s infectious. So I start laughing, and crying at the same time. She and I are covered, and I mean covered, in throw up, in a crowded airplane, with the fasten seat belt sign on, in glee.

I furtively look around and thankfully the noise from the jets has effectively hidden the precedings of my predicament from the other passengers.

Interestingly, Sir Talks-a-Lot was NOW consumed by the Sky Mall Magazine.

So I gather her bag with the change of clothes and realize the fact that I choose this as the first flight ever NOT to bring anything extra for myself in the carry on.

I’m mortified.

I’ve wiped up/covered up the throw-up on our seats with a baby blanket (thank goodness I brought plenty of those) hoping no one would notice the drama that had just unfolded at row 31 and I put the baby on my chest with a long thin blanket covering both us so no one can tell what’s really going on.

And I head to the bathroom.

I meet my son coming out as I’m going in.

“Don’t go back to our seats just yet, Honey. Wait for me. Maybe you can ask the flight attendants for some water.”

Seriously. Don’t go there yet. It’s gross and discussing and I know you well enough to know that if this blanket came down and you saw me or the baby or our seats right now I’d be cleaning up even more throw-up.

Thank God he got the water.

So here I am now in a teensy, tiny bathroom, barely big enough for one person with two super dirty people.

“Handle the problems you have a solution for first, and the rest will work out!”



Change the baby into clean clothes and wipe all traces of vomit off with wet wipes.


Dirty clothes put in plastic bag – smell is contained.


Now for me. I take my shirt and bra off and rinse the chunks off in the sink. And I keep scrubbing until most of the smell is gone. All the while entertaining the baby sitting on the fold down changing table, keeping one hand on her at all times.

Next I tackle my hair, wondering if it wouldn’t just be better to cut it all off at this point. But since I have water and soap, but no scissors, I opt for cleaning.

Now for my jeans.


This is not going to be easy.

I start by trying to take them off and wash them in the sink the same way I did my shirt and bra.

Man this bathroom is small and my jeans are awfully tight, made worse by the fact that they’re now wet.

Seriously how do people manage to join the mile high club?!

This is not working….and even if I manage to get them off, I’ll have to get them back on!!!!

So I decide to keep them on and to just sit in the sink as best I can and splash water on the largest areas to relieve some of the smell.

It’s incredibly awkward. I see myself in the mirror, maneuvering into weird positions, perched precariously on the edge of the sink trying desperately to get this smell off of me and again I’m laughing and crying at the ridiculousness of the situation.

I do the best I can but it’s a sad effort.

After that I use every baby wipe I can scrounge up. Pretty much took a French Bath with baby wipes.



Even though my shirt and bra have been rinsed thoroughly they still smell a lot. And I can’t handle putting on a soaking wet shirt that smells.

Well I have my Splendid open face sweater that didn’t get a drop of anything on it.

But it’s not made to close on the front and it doesn’t have any buttons or clasps of any kind.

So I channel my inner white-trash-teenager. That’s a style I still harbor fond memories of; cut offs with bathing suit tops, mid drifts showing and short shirts tied up in the front…

But I’ve had two kids! And while I’m rocking’ my size 27 Seven For All Mankind jeans on the bottom, no one, NO ONE needs to see that loaf of bread baking up over the top of my jeans.

Desperate times, desperate measures.

I wrap that thing around me and tie it wherever I can and tuck it into whatever’s available.

It’s tight.

I’m bra-less and 15lbs overweight.

There’s some skin.

But it could be a lot worse.

Actually, as I check all the different angles, it’s not bad. I should seriously consider this look when I’m 15 lbs lighter, if I’m ever at Coachella.

Now me and the babe are all put together and we head back to our seats to assess the damage. Surprisingly, the bathroom trip only took about 10 minutes.

I get a bunch of towels and a plastic bag and some alcohol wipes from the flight attendant and have it cleaned up in no time.

Aisle guy is engrossed in his magazine. Either too polite to comment or too rude to offer assistance. I actually don’t care either way because by this point, I’m exhausted.

All is cleaned. The kids are back in their seats and the flight attendants have been notified that they’ll need to have a “special” cleaning crew at the gate for these seats.

I have to commend the flight attendants, they were very sweet, understanding and made sure I had anything else that I needed on the rest of the flight.

Now my kids are calmed down, I settle in to nurse the baby, and the 5 yr. old is leaning on me. Only 30min until landing at this point. They both get drowsy and start to nod off.

Aisle guy leans over and loudly says, “it’s so much quieter when they’re sleeping.”

At which point they both startle and start to stir.


I shoot him a death glare and quiet the kids back down.

About 10 min before landing they’re both fast asleep. And it’s very peaceful.

All I can think is, OMG I have to turn around and do this all over again in two days, just to get home!

But I realize it will probably never again be as bad as this flight, so it’s actually all uphill from here.

Worst Flight Ever!

What’s your worst flight story, and what’s your trick for getting through it?

Can good hair be as effective as Prozac?

It kind of amazing how much my hair affects my mood. I mean, really.

If I’m having a good hair-day I feel pretty. Even with no makeup and sweatpants. I feel like people can see the potential behind the sweats if the hair is good.

If I look pretty, I feel pretty.
And if I feel pretty, I’m nicer!
It’s true, ask my kids….

But if I wake up and have to run out the door with bad hair – it’s all over. I mean there’s no amount of make-up applied in the car that can correct bad hair.

And now that I have short hair I can’t just pull it up into a pony tail and feel cute. I actually have to “do” it to make it look good.

Which has forced me to come up with a few solutions that only take 15 min – As opposed to the hour it previously took.

I have a lot of hair, and it’s thick. I know, shut up, stop bragging. But it’s not like that. It’s kind of a pain in the ass on a daily basis because it takes so long to blow dry.

And that’s why I stopped doing it so often.

That’s right, I only wash my hair about once a week now!

Don’t get me wrong, if it gets funky or I’ve used a lot of product, or my face starts to look “pre-breakout-ish” then I wash it right away. But for the most part I can get away with it for about 5 days.

That’s a huge savings on time!

I also have a shampoo that I LOVE. It’s by Ojon and it their Full Detox shampoo. I follow it with Aussie 3 Minute Miracle conditioner.

Expensive shampoo, inexpensive conditioner, but hey – I’m into what works!

There’s another hair product I’m in love with and it’s made by Bumble and Bumble. It’s called Styling Lotion, but it comes in a spray bottle, which makes it really easy to get a light amount evenly distributed.

My newest hair look is loose sexy waves that tend to fall throughout the day. I like that they look good but not “done”.

I do it with a curling iron and honestly I only curl the top few layers of my hair. I have so much it would take forever to do it all!

And it would look like I had an appointment to meet the girls for lunch, at the Junior League – in 1987!

Take a pice of hair with the curling iron and start curling from about an inch or two away from the bottom of your hair. Keep it in a spiral motion and curl AWAY from your face all the way up to the root. Hold for 3-5 sec and move on to the next piece.

This will give you an idea of how it looks.

Happy hair days!




Confession #101

Sometimes…instead of a beadtime story, I’ll read my daughter the new Bloomingdales or Neimans catalogue that came in that day. But it always starts with, “Once upon a time, there was a very beautiful, and very thin, and VERY rich woman…”


Who knew parenthood would involve so much cleaning?! I mean, I don’t think anyone ever truly understands how much work is involved in having children. Especially if you have any desire to “do it right”. But what does that even mean?

I think it means different things to different people and I don’t think there’s any one right way to raise your kids. Spoil them with love and attention, make sure they get an education and learn to read and write, have them be amazing athletes and end up on a sports scholarship. Well maybe not the last one.

As a parent, you’re in a position the create an awesome impact on someone else’s life. You have an opportunity every day to let someone a little smaller, a little less able, perhaps a little less confident than those around them know how much they’re loved. How important they are. How smart they are. How exceptional they really are.

There’s always something to do when you’re a parent. You never quite grasp how time consuming this amazing job will be until you try it yourself. It’s not a transient thing that may or may not be something you do next year. It’s all the time. And it’s amazing! – and exhausting….It sneaks up on you and one day you realize, I’m in a whole other demographic now.

Ten random ways to identify if you’ve crossed the bridge to Parenthood:

10. After leaving a party you realize you didn’t finish a single sentence when talking with anyone, or learn what any of your friends are up to currently.

9. The grocery store has become a dreaded weekly chore that involves taking choice things out of the cart as fast as the munchkins put them in, while still planning meals, looking at package ingredients, and procuring the week’s needed items. And at least once in your life, leaving the store with a cart 1/2 full left behind in an aisle because of an “incident”.

8. Play date is a word you’ve become very familiar with. It means either A) an excuse for you to see another adult and atempt to have an uninterrupted conversation or B) another kid coming to your house in an effort to entertain your own child so you can get something done.

7. Having a great babysitter is like being in an unhealthy relationship; you’re jealous of others who talk to them as ask for their number and you’ll call and text until they respond.

6. At least once, you’ve finally discovered “what the smell is coming from that room.” And most likely it was a rotting piece of half eaten fruit.

5. Pee, poop, vomit, dirty socks, old food in lunch boxes. These are all things belonging to others that you deal with on a regular basis, and you don’t even have a gag reflex… most of time.

4. Your car can’t stay clean for a solid week, no matter how short that ride is.

3. Sleep is that elusive thing you knew way back when, but you’ve had a nasty break-up and don’t think it will ever be the same again.

2. You constantly hear the word “mom” or “dad” and are expected to become a referee choosing in favor of the one who called you.

1. You clean constantly! You clean messes you didn’t make, you clean the kitchen at least 2x a day, you clean rooms and 10 minutes later they’re dirty. You have become the maid who is allowed to share the family meals.