My pilgrimage to say goodbye to David Letterman

Another of my favorite pop culture icons is about to walk off into the sunset.

I’ve been watching David Letterman for as long as I can remember. My mother always loved him, and I remember wanting to stay up late with her watching Stupid Human Tricks or the Top Ten list while she painted her nails in front of the TV.

Letterman show logo

Then I went to college and stayed up late watching Dave on many nights I should have been studying, or at least drinking beer. He was always there, that awkward, gap-toothed, smart aleck When he moved to CBS and a better time slot I was psyched that I could watch him more, until career and babies got in the way.

I’ll admit in recent years I haven’t watched Dave much. But I’d often check who he had on and sometimes record it for later. Unlike Leno, he was a terrific interviewer who asked great questions and actually listened to the answers. A rare bird in TV talk shows, he seemed quite happy to go off script and take the lead of his guests down a path of uncertainty that almost always ended up in some funny place.

When I heard the news that Dave was retiring I wanted to see him live one last time. (I went once in the 90’s when the guest was Rosie Perez and we sat right up front and laughed all night.) I turned to my own personal TicketMaster, Wilson’s brother, Jon. As it turned out, Jon had not given me a birthday gift yet so he was happy to make a few phone calls and get me tickets to see Dave.

letterman ticket

A parade of celebs have visited the Dave set in the last few weeks, saying goodbye to the legend. Howard Stern tried to make out with a disgusted Dave who ran away, Julia Roberts giggled and kissed him one last time, Tom Hanks told funny stories, and Tina Fey made quite an exit by whipping off her dress to reveal just a leotard-spanxy thing that said “Bye Dave” on the front and #LastDressEver on the back.

One of my favorite last guests was Ray Romano, who choked up several times while recalling how doing standup on Letterman 20 years earlier led directly to the creation — by Worldwide Pants, Letterman’s production company — of Everybody Loves Raymond, which made him a star and very, very rich.

There were amazing musical guests who paid homage with performances on Dave’s show this month, and credited him with launching their success, including Dave Matthews, Hootie and the Blowfish, and Eddie Vedder.

In the present all-Jimmy landscape it’s easy to forget that Dave was a powerhouse with an eye for talent.

With all that star power I was hoping for a good guest on the evening we went to see the show. On the Late Show website it looked like Bruce Willis, but when I got there, it was Jack Hanna, the director of the Columbus Zoo. Waaah, waaaah.

"Late Show with David Letterman"/CBS

“Late Show with David Letterman”/CBS

But you know what? Hanna was great. He brought a ton of exotic animals and reminisced with Dave about all their goofy segments over the years. Hanna has appeared on Letterman 104 times! (The only two people who appeared more were Marv Albert and Regis.) Hanna got weepy and hugged Dave a lot and when the segment was over, he went around and shook hands with every single member of the crew, which was really sweet.

It was fun to see Paul and the CBS Orchestra, and I had forgotten all about Biff and Rupert. John Popper of Blues Traveler played all his hits with Paul and the band, which was cool. The other musical guest– John Fogerty– played a medley of old songs and proved an old guy can still rock.

The CBS pages were very clear that no photography/cell phones were allowed inside the Ed Sullivan Theater, which was a huge bummer. As you know, I like to document such things. But I’m also a wimpy rule follower and getting kicked out of the show would be mortifying, and might hurt Jon, who got the tickets from CBS.

letterman stage

So this was the best I could do… at the end of the show… from my cell phone camera… from inside my purse. You can kinda make out the stage below, right?


Dave seemed relaxed and at ease, if not a little nostalgic and embarrassed at all the fuss. It was good to see him, like putting on an old sweater you love but haven’t worn in a long time.

brooke at late show NYC on

In 2013, Dave surpassed Johnny Carson as the longest running late-night talk show host in TV history. Jimmy Fallon had a really nice bit on his show Monday night about what Dave has meant to him… and out of deference for the last show, Jimmy Kimmel will air a rerun Wednesday night.

Chances are, you watched a lot of Letterman over the last 33 years. So even if you haven’t been able to stay up late enough to watch Dave recently, you’ll be happy you were there when he says goodbye Wednesday night. I hope he gets huge ratings for his farewell.

Thanks Dave, for taking risks, and showing us you can be silly and smart at the same time. Late night won’t be the same without you.



Listen to Your Mother 2015 Love Fest

Rehearsal for Listen to Your Mother 2015 on

I’m still coming down off a contact high after watching 13 ladies bear their truths before a live audience Saturday in the second annual Listen to Your Mother North Jersey show.

Listen to Your Mother is a staged reading event where people share experiences about motherhood in all its forms. It started out as the brainchild of blogger Ann Imig with one show in Madison, Wisconsin and has now become a national movement– performed in 39 cities across the U.S. this year.

I was honored to be chosen to read in the first North Jersey show last year, and it was an exhilarating experience.

Rehearsal for Listen to Your Mother 2015 on

I wanted to stay involved, so was thrilled when last year’s co-director/producers Deborah Goldstein and Sandy Rustin asked me to help direct and produce the 2015 show.

As a former TV news producer, flexing those muscles again was extremely satisfying. Working with Deborah and Sandy was one of the most joyful professional experiences of my life. They’re both uber talented and lovely human beings. Those gifted gals taught me so much, while always making me feel an equal part of the team, despite my rookie status.

The audition process was fascinating and humbling. We had almost 70 people read their stories and had the daunting task of choosing just 13 for the show.

Rehearsal for Listen to Your Mother 2015 on

The audition room

Aligning with the LTYM edict, we tried to find pieces with a unique voice, but a universal message about motherhood. If you’ve seen the show, you know it’s an emotional journey, so it was also important we have balance, with thought-provoking stories that would make an audience laugh and cry.

13 women earned the coveted spots with their original, beautiful words. While several are career writers and/or bloggers, some have only dabbled in writing while keeping day jobs, or just had an important story to tell.

The age range ran from 30’s to 50’s, with topics ranging from foster care, parenting special needs children, divorce, racism, and gender stereotypes to cooking in the kitchen with mom and sending kids to summer camp. Each story had relatable elements, even if the experience described was completely new.

Auditions for Listen to Your Mother 2015 on

We used very sophisticated methods to make the show order

After a successful 2014 show, tickets went quickly for the scheduled 5pm show. When the show sold out, we got ballsy and added a second show at 2pm. Although we didn’t sell out the second show, we had a terrific audience and the cast got to read twice. I remember last year being so sad when it was over, I wished I could start all over again and this year’s cast got that chance.

Rehearsal for Listen to Your Mother 2015 on

The first read-throughs were raw and emotional

We only rehearsed twice before show day but these ladies were ready. There were a few butterflies but those tough broads laughed in the face of stage fright.

Rehearsal for Listen to Your Mother 2015 on

Technical rehearsal on show day

The audience seemed to enthusiastically enjoy the show, and it’s been 24 hours of love online and in person from those who saw it. A few people told me the show was now officially part of their annual Mother’s Day weekend routine.

Taking a bow at Listen to Your Mother 2015 on

Taking a bow after the first show. Proud and relieved!

There were many hugs and promises to see each other soon as we all parted to celebrate with family and friends after the second show. An email chain with all cast and producers continued throughout the day with Mother’s Day wishes and an outpouring of love and respect. I ran into one cast mate in town tonight and we ran into each other’s arms like old Army buddies separated by years, when really it had only been a day.

We are bonded forever by this meaningful experience.

I remain in awe of people willing to make themselves vulnerable by sharing deeply personal stories and exploring their feelings on a stage in front of 450 people. It takes a certain kind of courage and trust, and we producers were so grateful to each reader for their bravery and willingness to open their hearts.

North Jersey cast of Listen to Your Mother 2015 on

Love these ladies!

As Sandy told the cast in the few exciting moments before they took the stage Saturday, you never know who in the audience needs to hear your story, needs to laugh or cry. Words are powerful, especially when expressed with authenticity. That’s what makes LTYM work.

Maybe you have a story to tell about having a mother or being one. Write it down!  LTYM NJ 2016 is not that far away…..

You can read more amazing stories in the new anthology: Listen to Your Mother: What She Said Then, What We’re Saying Now..


In “The Book of Joan” Melissa Rivers is no longer the straight (wo)man

This week I reviewed Melissa Rivers’ new book about her mother– the late great comedian Joan Rivers– called The Book of Joan. It’s a sweet tribute, filled with jokes (“My mother never cooked. Her signature dish was takeout, ) advice, and personal anecdotes that will make you laugh.

I was a huge Joan fan, practically growing up at her knee as she made fun of herself — from her boobs to her love life– as a standup, talk show host, and red carpet critic.

I was surprised at how sad I was when she died suddenly last September after losing oxygen during a surgical procedure on her vocal chords at a Manhattan clinic. It was the end of an era. She was one of those famous people who was always there– at the awards shows, on the late night talk circuit, writing books–  and I figured she’d always be there. I guess I took her for granted.

I didn’t know much about Melissa before this book, other than being Joan’s sidekick. But she wasn’t just the daughter of a famous person, she’s a Penn grad who rose through the ranks to executive producer of several shows at E and is a single working mom.

Joan And Melissa Joan Knows Best as on

(We TV)

I was impressed with her storytelling and humor in The Book of Joan. It’s a great retelling of Joan’s life in small snippets and stories, from Melissa’s perspective. Melissa had an extraordinary childhood, often on the road with Joan, meeting comedians, singers, and actors, and traveling the world. The book has great Hollywood folklore and behind-the-scenes gossip from the red carpet.

One of the best parts of the book is the personal documents Melissa shares that reveal parts of Joan’s character. There are several hilarious grade school report cards showing Joan Molinsky (her real name) was talkative, attention-seeking, and used bribery to win friends… and an early resume filled with lies about work experience.

But the most touching is a note Joan wrote to a teenaged rebellious Melissa about making mistakes. It was so spot-on I may copy it for future parenting use. Who knew that acerbic, bitchy diva could be such a loving, dedicated and strict mother?

The Book of Joan cover on

(Crown Publishing)

Here’s an excerpt from my review:

The beginning pieces have the same rhythm and campy style of Joan’s books and some of the jokes sound comfortably familiar. But in later chapters, when talking about their life together ruling the red carpet and on several TV shows, Melissa’s own modern, edgy voice emerges.

The book touches on familiar aspects of Joan’s life — her exhaustive work ethic (working six days a week on several shows, books, a jewelry line and her standup act) … her indulgence in expensive things (designer handbags and shoes, first-class travel, a personal driver) … and her preoccupation with looks that led to countless cosmetic procedures (“she changed noses the way Taylor Swift changes boyfriends”).

But new details may enlighten fans. She was a stickler for manners, loved watching crime shows and reading about serial killers, hid cash all over her apartment for spending sprees and stitched needlepoint pillows to relax.

The most touching stories show Joan as a fiercely dedicated and loving mother, and grandmother to Melissa’s only child, Cooper, whom she enjoyed spoiling. Despite an intense work schedule, Joan always made Melissa a priority, bringing her on the road when she traveled, emphasizing the value of education and supporting her extracurricular activities. A note in the book from Joan to teenage Melissa infers her parenting skills. “Sometimes it’s very hard to grow up, to learn to be independent, to become totally your own self …” she wrote. “I love and adore you. P.S. You’re still grounded!”

Melissa describes Joan as a bawdy, fearless comic, but an old-fashioned, strict parent, scrutinizing every outfit Melissa wore and every man she dated. But the funny lady who picked on everyone in public was kind and generous in person, especially to her fans.

If you want to read more click here.

If you were ever a fan of Joan and/or love pop culture and old Hollywood, I highly recommend The Book of Joan. It’s a great Mother’s Day gift.

Need a Joan fix? Watch the amazing documentary, A Piece of Work, which followed her for a year when she was 75, working her ass off and living well. (Available on Amazon Prime and maybe Netflix?) It’s a fascinating look at celebrity, the mind of a comic genius, and the life of a lonely woman who sorely needed to be relevant and loved. Don’t we all?

Staycation 2015: the week in photos

My kids were on spring break last week and we stayed home because Jacob had 5 baseball games. Was I bitter? Maybe a little. But it was actually nice to be home with few plans and time for the kids to relax.

My boys overindulged on-screen time for sure, but I planned at least one outing a day to make sure they got some stimulation that didn’t include a remote or joystick (I know, no one calls them joytsicks anymore but ‘Xbox controller’ is so undescriptive.)

We’re so lucky to have New York City in our back yard, and I took them in a few times to get a change of scenery and sneak in some culture without the boys realizing it.

Here are the highlights of the week in photos…..

Walking the High Line NYC on

I met two gal pals at Penn Station Friday night. We were having dinner with our husbands in Chelsea at 7pm so we bought ourselves chilled mini wine bottles (at the little store by the stairs to the Garden) which we dumped in paper cups. Then we picked up the High Line at 31st St. and 11th Avenue to walk to the restaurant.

There’s nothing like an outdoor cocktail hour, walking above Manhattan, and people watching on the High Line on a lovely spring evening!

Home/Dreamworks movie poster on


On Monday I took Eli to see the animated movie Home. We both liked it a lot– it’s a very sweet and engaging story, with characters voiced by Rihanna, Jim Parsons, JLo, and Steve Martin. I also like any excuse to eat movie popcorn.

Batting cages at Frozen Ropes on

Tuesday I took Aden and Eli to the batting cages at Frozen Ropes to hit balls off a pitching machine.

Batting cages at Frozen Ropes on

It aint cheap: $30 for 30 minutes, and the time went quickly, but it was a productive, fun activity.

We took the train into the city Wednesday and the kids picked Shake Shack for lunch. The line wasn’t too long….

Shake Shack NYC on

and we chowed on our burgers and fries.

Shake Shack NYC on

Then we walked a few blocks to see Matilda on Broadway. Eli and I read the Roald Dahl book and we had been listening to the music in the car and explaining the plot to Aden.

Matilda on Broadway NYC on

I was worried because Aden wasn’t so psyched when I told him I bought the tickets. But we all loved it! Amazing performances, inventive staging and dancing, and terrific music that we are still humming days later. I highly recommend!

My boys had never been to Dylan’s Candy Bar so after the show we headed east and wandered the sugar sanctuary for almost 45 minutes.

Dylan's Candy Bar NYC on

Giant gummy bear and candy necklace!

I gave them each a $15 limit but still managed to spend an obscene amount of money I can’t think about ever again. Oh well. You only live once right?

Dylan's Candy Bar NYC on

Like mice in a cheese factory….

Two friends and I took our boys to the city Thursday to walk around Chinatown. We had never been to Chinatown in NY and I thought we’d walk the streets, taking in the new culture, marveling at the colorful fruit and vegetable stands, and wandering into little shops.

Chinatown NYC on

But I forgot I was with 7 boys whose only interest was consuming as much sesame chicken as their bellies could hold. The authentic eats at 456 Shanghai Cuisine didn’t disappoint. As you can see here, we tried a little bit of everything. The pork dumplings– both standard and soup– were gobbled up instantly, and the moo shu pork, shrimp and vegetables, chicken lo mien, and sautéed green beans were delicious. Nothing was greasy and no one felt sick 30 minutes after consuming an impressive amount of food. And the price is nice too. The lunch specials were just $5.75 each and came with soup and rice.

Chinatown Ice Cream Factory on

Although I couldn’t eat anymore, the children managed to cram in shakes and cones from the famous Chinatown Ice Cream Factory down the street. In addition to the standards, they have some very inventive flavors, including Black Sesame, Ginger, and Lychee. Thumbs up from the fellas.

NYC criminal court tour on

Chinatown is very close to the Criminal Court building, where our friend Chris works, so the boys got a bonus tour of a courtroom and a holding cell.

NYC criminal court tour on

We also stopped at the mecca of sneakers, a place called Flight Club, near Union Square. Literally hundreds of technicolored sneakers line the walls of this store and I couldn’t find a pair for less than $150.

Flight Club NYC shopping on

Much like me at Bergdorf Goodman, the boys browsed the shelves, knowing they could never afford the laces of most of their coveted shoes.

Flight Club NYC shopping on

A boy can dream…..

I must admit I enjoyed Flight Club from an anthropological perspective. It’s a whole culture of people who purchase, trade, and collect high-end sneakers and seeing so many creative designs made it feel like an exhibit in a modern art museum.

Flight Club NYC shopping on

Check out the price tags on these babies! This is what thousand-dollar shoes look like

The prices of some of the shoes were as expensive as art– going up to the eye-popping $7,000 to 11,000 range! Who knew?

On Friday it was back to work for me so the boys had a free day to play with friends.

I asked them tonight what the highlights were of their break. Jacob groaned, which he does at any question I ask him of late.

Aden said “Everything!” I’ll take it!

Eli? After a detailed recap of all our adventures, he chose the playdate with his friend Kieran yesterday.

Can’t win ’em all.





Carpool Candy Mother’s Day gift guide

Mother’s Day is May 10th people. Have you bought your mom, wife, sister, aunt, grandma a gift yet?

I thought I’d republish some of my favorites from the holiday gift guide, with a couple spring additions. Click on the name of the gift for website links to buy or get more info. All different price points included. (And please note that I get nada from any of these vendors.)

Happy shopping!

High Camp Supply gardenias on

Last week, my friend Julie sent me the most amazing surprise for my birthday. She knows I love flowers, but instead of a classic arrangement, she sent a box of vine gardenias. They smelled divine and felt extremely decadent to a flower buff like me. They remind me of my mother’s perfume or walking through a botanical garden. Elegant, luxurious, nostalgic. A perfect gift! Like anything special worth having, gardenias are extremely fragile so they’re expensive to grow and ship. But if you care to indulge, check out the gift boxes from High Camp Supply.

kller-collection-brass-quill-earrings abc carpet on carpoolcandy.comEarrings — Delicate yet sleek, these earrings are handmade from a mold cast from real quills found in nature, but they’re set in brass so the price is nice. ($110)

Moleskin passion journals on

Specialty journals-– If the kitchen is her domain, she’ll love organizing her recipes and cooking secrets, while checking measurements, conversions and food facts in this cooking journal. If she’s more of a style maven, she can keep track of outfits, convert international sizes, and collect style sheets for wish lists. There are also journals for wedding planning, gardening, music, and even chocolate. ($20)

markandgraham initial soaps on

Initial soaps— Sometimes the perfect gift is something luxurious that you wouldn’t buy for yourself. These soaps fancy up a guest bathroom and smell great. ($29 for 3)

Pyrrha lion necklace on

Charm necklace— On a recent trip to LA, I discovered Canadian jewelry company Pyhhra, which creates original designs I haven’t seen coming and going. I bought a Talisman necklace, handcrafted to exactly replicate an 19th century wax seal of a lion. They have scores of designs and each has a different inspirational meaning. The lion I chose represents wisdom and courage. In reclaimed silver, gold, and bronze. ($140+)

Claire V clutch bag on

Clutch bag— Can a lady ever have too many bags? Most certainly not! This fold-over leather clutch from designer Clare V. comes in scores of colors and textures. Great shape, great quality and will never go out of style. Click around the website and you’ll find several different sizes, including iPad cases and makeup bags. ($220)

danas bakery macarons on

Macaron of the month (or just one variety box!):
For the woman who has everything, including a sweet tooth. Who wouldn’t love a new box of delectable cookies arriving every month? True bakery connoisseurs will appreciate classic French macarons in flavors like pecan pie, berry cobbler, cookie dough, and peanut butter and jelly. If monthly sweets are too pricey for you, a box of assorted is equally yummy. ($90 for three months, $30 for variety box)

Malamine trays on

Decorative trays — These colorful malamine trays are great for entertaining or to house jewelry or candles on a bedroom dresser. ($34-44)

Stylish Bookends from Etsy on

Bookends— If she still likes the feel of a book in her hand, splurge on a few hardcovers from Amazon (I highly recommend All the Light We Cannot See, which just won the Pulitzer, or Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? )….and complete the thought with these simple wood bookends from Etsy. ($39)

tervis tumbler purple on

Personalized tumbler— We should all be drinking more water. These insulated travel cups can hold 16-24 oz of hot or cold drinks, with a variety of sizes and tops, and you can personalize them with initials in fun colors. How about an M for mom? (I’m partial to purple sequins!) ($11)

Henri Bendel ponytail holder on

Hair accessories-– If she likes a pony-tail, she’ll love a little tinsel on her tresses. These fancy hair ties are a decadent indulgence that will always fit. Try one in gold ($28) or tortoiseshell. ($16)

personalized etched wine bottles on

Personalized wine bottles-– Bring these unique wine bottles to holiday parties, give them as hostess gifts, or buy one for your favorite wino. You can etch initials, a full personal message, or choose from holiday and occasion designs. After the spirits are gone, the bottle is a keepsake. ($70) If etching is too pricey, try these personalized stickers. ($1-2 each)

henri bendel cosmetic bag on carpoolcandy.comCosmetic bag–Ladies always welcome a new cosmetic bag and this classic from Henri Bendel is cleanable and wears well. ($48)

are we there yet luggage tag on carpoolcandy.comAre We There Yet luggage tag-– What says ” I’m a MOM” more than this whimsical suitcase tag from Jonathan Adler. ($38)

tennis raquet holder on

Tennis raquet holder-– If you’re buying for a Sporty Spice, how about this monogrammed racquet bag to impress the gals at the club? ($89)

neat closet

Closet organizing– Time for spring cleaning!  Treat the mom in your life to two hours with a closet organizer. She gets an orderly closet and a new wardrobe without spending a dime! In NJ, Betsy Ames of Mindful Style will come to your house and go through every article in your closet to determine what stays and what goes. Then she’ll help you recycle your out pile, put together outfits with keepers, and suggest classic pieces to supplement. For those outside the tri-state, Google “closet organizers” for a closet fairy near you. ($150 for 2 hours)

Hope you found something for the special moms in your life. If all else fails, you can never go wrong with homemade cards and chocolate!

I survived a 7-day cleanse- part 2 (the results)

Wow! Huge response to cleanse post part one! Many of you are fascinated by the idea and/or have your own experiences to share.

Now for the results….(drumroll please)……

Did I enjoy it?   I would say I appreciated the experience. It gave me the kickstart I needed to eat and feel better, and it reeducated me on healthy food and portion control.

Would I do it again?  As I said, the chocolate-flavored shakes smelled like baby formula and tasted like cement, no matter how many different ingredients I tried in them. BUT, I know my blender was not up to the task, and I tackled the cleanse with my friend Hope and she loved the shakes, and several of you commented saying you enjoyed the shakes too so it’s really personal preference. But no, I would not do this cleanse again, and probably wouldn’t do a liquid based cleanse for 7 days again. I missed solid food! But I might try a 3-day cleanse at some point, if I needed a restart. Or I would definitely do a no sugar/dairy/gluten/alcohol/caffeine cleanse that was food based.

Can you exercise while cleansing?   My nutrition and health coach friend, Pam, advised me not to do my regular exercise routines– especially cardio–which was horrifying news for a committed yogi like me who also runs and does other activities. But your body is exerting so much energy cleansing, and you don’t have enough food to give you the necessary energy to exercise at your regular intensity, so it’s best not to overdo it. By day 3, I was getting a dull headache and a bit nauseous if I overexerted myself, so I took a break until the cleanse ended.

Clean cleanse box on

Did I lose weight?   I lost four pounds during that week. BUT I WASN’T EATING! So although I continued to eat a gluten, sugar, dairy, alcohol and caffeine free diet for the next two weeks, I was eating more and gained back two pounds right away. BUT, I was able to lose some more weight once I started exercising again and continued eating cleanly. I’d say I kept off about 5 pounds. Then I went on vacation and had some wine and indulged in sweets and all bets were off. But I know if I went back to clean eating and was conscientious about it, I could lose extra pounds. It’s all about choices.

How much does it cost?   The CLEAN cleanse cost about $195. Starving yourself aint cheap! But what I learned and the recipes in the materials they give you, plus Pam’s great advice made it worth the price for me. There was also extra money I spent on food that week. Hope and I went to Whole Foods and loaded up on vegetables, nuts, various non-dairy milk products, almond butter, and other healthy snack food, so that was probably another $150. I looked at it as an investment in healthy eating and weeks later I still have a lot of the stuff.

What were the other challenges?   For one thing, I was a total beotch to my family for the last 5 days of the cleanse (they would say I should NEVER do it again!) I didn’t feel great on days 3-5: physically weak, tired, and very cranky, but also mentally resentful of everyone who was freely eating food around me. I took it as a personal affront when my sons scarfed down a bagel for breakfast and tried to suppress evil thoughts while making them pasta for dinner.

cleanse cartoonI would also say the time it takes to plan and prepare for every meal took a toll. I had to get up earlier in the morning to make the shake, and shop for the food I needed for lunch to bring to work or wherever I was going. I had to have the right, clean ingredients for meals and be prepared to make substitutions. I know– cleanse or not– that I should be thinking about what I’ll eat at the beginning of every week and each day, but I found it mentally exhausting and a time suck. But when I don’t plan ahead, I can make poor decisions.  

At meals, I rarely felt deprived and was actually happy with my clean choices. Clean eating can be delicious. I discovered chia and flax seed, ezekiel bread, and coconut milk. I rediscovered spinach salad, hard-boiled eggs, rice cakes, nuts, and brown rice pasta. Salmon has become a once-a week meal for us., with just olive oil and dill.

Shopping at Whole Foods for a 7-day cleanse  on

Hope shopping for veggies at Whole Foods.

–What did I learn?   I’m not always hungry when I think I am and drinking a glass of water can satiate me during the day when I’m antsy and/or bored. It’s hard to drink 64 ounces a day, but I find ice and a straw helps a lot, and pouring the 64 ounces into a pitcher that sits on your desk or counter all day is motivating.

I like an iced coffee now and then but it’s a treat I don’t need and I barely missed it. I missed caffeine as a pick-me-up in my tea at work, but I survived. No alcohol during the week was easy, and while it was a sacrifice on the weekends, it’s doable for a few weeks at a time. I started drinking more vodka and tequila, which have less sugar and carbs than wine. I’ve found some great substitutes for carbs like pasta, bread and bagels and I feel better when I avoid them. And they taste amazing when I indulge.

The most difficult for me to give up was dairy and sugar. I eat non-fat organic yogurt a few times a week with fresh fruit or in a smoothie. I love eggs and often eat them as a source of protein. I love cheese, but I’ve basically given it up for several months now and lived to tell the tale.

Shopping at Whole Foods for a 7-day cleanse  on

–The exceptions/Food I won’t give up  Pizza! But I don’t have 2-3 slices, I try to have one and a salad now. Cookies! I’ll give up bread and pasta, but don’t take away my cookies. Chocolate! Need I explain?

Life is too short to give up eating my favorite things. It’s all in moderation, so better that I enjoy eating what I love, than feeling completely deprived and binge down the road.

I actually liked reading the cleanse pamphlet about the efficiency of clean food in our digestive system, instead of all the crap I put in there. The process forced me to examine my intake and I realized I was eating way too many carbs. I thought I was being a conscientious eater by only consuming whole wheat bread, bagels, and crackers. But I was eating too much.

I needed to look at the whole day of eating and make choices by day– not by meal — to promote better digestion. I started making substitutions for traditional carbs.. I’m not going to say it tastes the same, but I found combinations that I can live with, like sun butter on a brown rice cake and turkey meat sauce on brown rice pasta.

And I didn’t feel like I had rocks in my belly after meals. I felt lighter. While I wanted to lose wight, my goal was really to make better choices to feel better. The cleanse definitely helped me do that.

I also was reminded that although I think I’m craving food, I often need something else. It’s usually sleep, but sometimes can be something to drink or a walk around the block to get the brain juices flowing. My go-to was always to have a snack , but now I’m trying to pay attention to why I’m reaching for that cracker. Mindful eating is key.

If you’re interested in trying a cleanse, I highly recommend you work with Pam from Wholefully Aware. Not only is she knowledgable and supportive, but during the cleanse, she was practically on-call 24-7 for questions about how I was feeling, what food choices to make, and what my personal blocks were in the process.

Would you do a cleanse? Tell me why or why not in the comments.

I survived a 7-day cleanse (but I didn’t enjoy it)

I recently accepted the challenge to go for 7 days without any gluten, sugar, dairy, caffeine, or alcohol. That’s right, no fun stuff.

What’s left, you say?

Actually quite a lot. The best part of the experience was a re-education on clean food and how our bodies digest it. I’ve read myriad articles on healthy eating and I know the basics, but somehow the knowledge wasn’t translating to what I put in my mouth.

That was my main motivation for this brave stunt. I was feeling gross all the time. I’d say I was going to “be good” and I would eat two relatively healthy meals every day, but somewhere around 4pm, I’d start to slip. I made bad snack choices, ate pretzels while preparing dinner,  and then treated myself to 2 or 3 cookies or pieces of chocolate after dinner, usually as a reward for the thankless job of cleaning the kitchen and tackling bedtime.

I knew I was carrying extra pounds. I could feel it when I ran and when I put on jeans. The jiggle was starting to make me feel uncomfortable, and causing critical whispers in my head.

I tried several times to say I would watch my eating for a few weeks– leading up to an event or trip– but I had a tough time sticking to portion control and healthy snacking.

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My friend and wellness expert, Pam, suggested I try a cleanse several months ago but I wasn’t ready. One day I decided it was time.

There are dozens of cleanses, but Pam advised me on one called the “7-day Refresh” from a company called Clean. (By the way, I have no connection or allegiance to this company or product, I’m just sharing so you can benefit from my experience.)

I received a box with 14 packets of chocolate powder for shakes, 7 small bottles of a pomegranate-flavored “Boost” drink, and 14 packets of supplement pills. There was a helpful guide with directions, explanations, and recipes that made it look so doable. Looking through the box got me excited, like buying new school supplies in August. I was eager to try something new and feel better.

I was supposed to have a shake for breakfast, healthy food for lunch, and a shake for dinner. I figured I could do anything for 7 days.

I could, but it wasn’t easy.

The first day I made the shake with coconut milk, almond butter, frozen strawberries and a banana. It was ok. A little thick because I put too much stuff in and my blender is not fancy, but I was able to finish most of it. I swallowed the 4 horse pill supplements and instantly wondered why I so willingly popped random pills I knew nothing about. As I tried to suppress my gag reflex while gulping the pills, I reassured myself. Pam wouldn’t encourage a cleanse that would poison me, right?

Clean cleanse box on

My lunch the first day was green, leafy spinach with chopped up veggies and a hard-boiled egg for protein (eggs were the only exception to the dairy restrictions.) I learned how to make quinoa, which I substituted for the whole wheat crackers I usually have with my salad. I used balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and sea salt as dressing.

Guess what? It was delicious.

I didn’t feel deprived or hungry. In fact, I felt victorious. It all tasted great and I didn’t overeat.

But then came dinner. I planned ahead and got prepared chicken for my kids and gave them the leftover quinoa from lunch, and some veggies. (Only Jacob ate the quinoa, the other two acted like it was curdled milk.) But I didn’t like watching them eat while I drank my meal. Plus, the shake was not tasting good.

The next morning, I made my shake with different ingredients and convinced myself that it tasted ok, but I could barely finish it. Lunch was salmon, seasoned with olive oil, lemon, and dill, some greens and brown rice. Another tasty meal.

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Grilled salmon and vegetables. Healthy food can be delicious!

By dinner, I noticed that the shake powder smelled like baby formula and seemed to be getting thicker in the glass each time I made it. Ick.

In addition to the shakes, I filled a pitcher with 64-oz of water every morning and defied myself to finish it. I drank more water that week than I probably did in the previous month, because it felt like a contest I could win.

If I was starving and needed a snack, I could have a half cup of raw almonds, which was more satisfying than it sounds. I find eating things one at a time soothing, especially when trying to limit my intake.

I’m not gonna lie, by Day 3, I officially hated the taste and smell of the shake powder and was forcing myself to drink it. I was also feeling cranky. I was feeling deprived of solid food and bitter that I still had to feed my kids. But there was no way I was giving up.

Although I dreaded drinking the shakes, I looked forward to the challenge of creating a healthy meal that met all the criteria. Those cleanse people are no dummies. Of course if you’re drinking most of your nutrients, the solid food you’re eating is going to taste amazing. So you’re manipulated into discovering that many healthy foods are delicious, and you begin to crave clean foods, free of any additives and preservatives.  Sneaky!

But those damn shakes starting feeling like a punishment. I completely acknowledge that I think my blender was not up to the task and if I had a better one, the shakes would have been thinner and more palatable. But honestly I tried every combination of almond butter, coconut milk, almond milk, fruit, and vegetables with that chocolate powder and as the week dragged on, it tasted worse.

I also admit that I didn’t keep up with the pills or liquid pomegranate boost drinks I was supposed to be using every day. It was hard enough making the time to plan all my meals and my family’s meals.

I managed to make it to the 7-day mark without fainting or hurling once.

Curious about the results? Did I lose weight? Did I get an energy boost and feel less tired? What was my mood like? What nutritional lessons did I learn? What did I learn about myself?

This post is already too long so stay tuned for the next one I survived a 7-day cleanse– THE RESULTS– later this week!