Tuesday, December 3, 2013


I do have some German heritage, but since the last German female ancestor (my 3 times great grandmother, Christiana Fox) died in 1865, I had no one to teach me how to make spaetzel, so these may not be "authentic."  They taste great, though, and are the perfect accompaniment to sauerbraten, pot roast, or anything used usually serve with noodles.

For fried spaetzel, add some breadcrumbs to the
butter and saute until browned and crispy


1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter

  1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, pepper, and nutmeg
  2. In a  mixing bowl, whisk the eggs and milk together. 
  3. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the egg-milk mixture.
  4. Using a rubber spatula, gradually draw in the flour from the sides and combine well; the dough should be smooth and thick. 
  5. Let the dough rest for 10 to 15 minutes in the refrigerator.
  6. Bring 3 quarts of salted water to a boil in a large pot.
  7.  To form the spaetzle, place a perforated pizza pan over the pot.  Place the dough on the pan, and force through the holes by moving a rubber spatula back and forth.
  8. Remove the pizza pan, and stir the spaetzle.
  9. Boil for another minute or so until they are floating on top of the water.
  10. Dump the spaetzel into a colander and give it a quick rinse with cool water. (If you're not eating right away, spread the spaetzel on a tray in a single layer and refrigerate (covered) until ready to use them.
  11. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat and add the spaetzle; tossing to coat. Cook the spaetzle for 1 to 2 minutes to give the noodles some color, and  season with salt and pepper before serving.
Recipe adapted from http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/spaetzle-recipe/index.html

Friday, February 15, 2013

About copycat recipes...

I run a copycat recipe site: CopyCat Recipe Guide.  There are lots of websites, as well as offline resources, that say they have copycat recipes.  I am very proud of the product the CopyCat Recipe Guide writers produce - even more so after I compared one of our recipes to one produced by a prominent copycat recipe developer.

Todd Wilbur, the author of  "Top Secret Restaurant Recipes" was featured on Good Morning America where he explained his clone of Olive Garden's breadstick recipe.  You can read the article and watch the episode here.  While these may be very good breadsticks, they are not the same those served at Olive Garden. 

Here's the nutrition information from Olive Garden.
As you can see, each breadstick is 140 calories, with no saturated fat, 26 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, and 5 grams of protein.

This tells us right away that Wilbur's recipe can't be a clone- because he uses butter, which would add saturated fat.  I input his recipe into a nutrition calculator, and got the following results:

His recipe is higher in calories, fat, saturated fat, carbohydrates, and sodium; and lower in fiber and protein.  Since restaurant food is already fairly high in fat, sugar, and salt, why should the "at-home" version be even higher?  That doesn't make sense.

Compare this to our recipe for copycat Olive Garden breadsticks at CopyCat Recipe Guide:

It's much closer to what Olive Garden reports for their breadsticks!

Our writers check their results against published nutrition information and ingredient lists wherever possible, as part of the process we use to get as close as possible to the actual dish.  We know our readers are trying to duplicate the restaurant version at home - not just to make something similar.  Sometimes, as with this recipe, it may take some creativity.  Olive Garden probably uses a specific blend of flour that is not available to home cooks to get a higher protein and fiber content than you'd expect with regular bread flour.  Adjusting all purpose flour with bran and vital wheat gluten produces the same results, with ingredients available in most supermarkets.

If there are recipes you'd like us to duplicate for you, please leave us a note on our Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/CopyCatRecipeGuide

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Scalloped Potatoes with Ham

This recipe tastes deceptively rich, despite containing no cheese, and being made with skim milk. The ham can be omitted if serving as a side dish.

Lori L. Stalteri via Flickr

  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced onions
  • 4 1/2 cups thinly sliced potatoes
  • 2 cups ham, diced (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons butter, plus additional for greasing baking dish
  • 7 teaspoons of flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika, plus additional for sprinkling on top if desired
  • 1 3/4 cups skim milk

#Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
#Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in a saucepan large enough to hold the potatoes and onions.
#Grease a 9x13 baking dish with butter.
#Add the parsley, onions, potatoes, and 2 teaspoons of salt to the boil water. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes.
#Drain and set aside
#Melt the butter in a 4 cup glass measuring cup in the microwave.
#Whisk in the salt, pepper, paprika, and flour until smooth.  Add the milk, and whisk until dissolved.
#Microwave the sauce on high power for 2 minutes, then whisk.  Repeat once or twice more until white sauce has thickened.
#Place half of the potatoes and onions in the baking dish. Add the ham, and top with the remaining potatoes and onions. 
#Pour the sauce over the top, stirring if needed to make sure it surrounds the potato-onion-ham mixture.  Sprinkle more paprika on top if desired.
#Bake uncovered for 35 minutes until potatoes are tender and top is browned.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

My Usual Pie Crust

Ingredients: 2 1/2 cups of flour, 2/3 cup of butter, water

  1. Mix flour and butter with a pastry blender until mixture looks like coarse crumbs.  If you don't have a pastry blender, you can use two sharp knives in a scissor motion.
  2. Add cold water while mixing with a fork until the mixture starts to form a ball. (This usually takes 1/2-3/4 cup, depending on the weather).  
  3. Divide the dough in half. 
  4. For each half: With your hands, pat the mixture gently into a ball, then flatten into a disk.  Coat your counter with flour.  Place the disk on the counter, then flip it over so both sides are coated.  Roll out with a floured rolling pin.  
  5. Place the first half in a your pie plate and refrigerate while rolling out the top.
This recipe was requested for use with Chicken Pot Pie, but it works just as well with fruit pies.  When making a savory pie, I sometimes add 1/2 teaspoon of thyme to the crust; when making fruit pies, I will sometimes add a pinch of cinnamon.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Macaroni and Cheese with Winter Squash

  • 1 butternut squash
  • 1 pound large or medium shells
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 teaspoon ground thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 8 ounces sharp Cheddar
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Romano cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg


    1. Slice the squash in half.  Scoop out and discard the seeds.  Place the squash in a baking pan and roast at 375 degrees for 45 minutes, or until tender. Set aside to cool.
    2. Start the water for the pasta; when it reaches a boil, add the shells and cook according to package directions.  Drain and set aside until the sauce is ready.
    3. While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter and olive oil in a large skillet.
    4. Grate the onion in a food processor, and add the grated onion and thyme to the melted butter,
    5. Saute for 2 minutes, then add the flour and sauté for another 2 minutes
    6. Add the broth to the skillet, and bring to a boil, stirring until smooth.  Turn heat down to low.
    7. Scoop the squash out of the skin and puree in the food processor until smooth.
    8. Add 1 cup of skim milk to the squash puree and process until blended.
    9. Add the squash/milk mixture to the thickened stock and stir until thoroughly blended.
    10. Add the cheese to the sauce and stir until dissolved.
    11. Season with nutmeg, and add additional pepper if needed.
    12. Keep the sauce warm on low until the pasta is cooked.
    13. Combine the sauce and shells, and serve.

    I top each serving with a hearty portion of greens, such as swiss chard, sautéed in garlic and olive oil.

    Tuesday, December 11, 2012

    Did Splenda Tests Kill Beagles?

    A friend posted today that she had read that the toxicity tests on Splenda involved locking 42 beagles in metal cages, feeding the Splenda, then slitting their throats.  I did a fair amount of research last week on Sucralose for a page I did on its side effects and I did not encounter any mention of this study...just LOTS of rat tests...so I decided to go back and hunt for the source.    I found lots of blog posts repeating the story as truth, but couldn't find any authoritative source.
    The author of the article that the blog posts all seem to generate from mentions a study in ''Food and Chemical Toxicology'' which said this had happened to 42 beagles in New Jersey.   I searched through the archives of  ''Food and Chemical Toxicology'' and I couldn't find that article. The only one I did find had some of the same words ( locked in "metal cages") but used 4 (not 42) beagles, in the UK- not New Jersey.   Blood samples were taken from a vein in dogs' necks - but no beagles had their throats slashed. Here's the original article: http://www.shac.net/HLS/research_papers/Paper%201%20-%20HLS%20Sucralose%20dog.pdf  
    So, while you may not agree with animal testing, it doesn't appear that dogs were killed to test the safety of sucralose. I would suspect that all artificial sweeteners- indeed any food additives- go through similar tests before being certified as safe for human consumption.

    Saturday, December 8, 2012

    Baked Chard Stalks

    Credit: Stacy Spensley

    This recipe is very flexible-adjust the quantities as you see fit.  I prefer to use Silver Chard for this recipe, because I find the light green color the most visually appealing, but it works just as well with red or Bright Lights chard.

     Ingredients Needed:

    2 bunches (about 2- 2 1/2 pounds) Swiss Chard
    2 tablespoons butter, softened, plus an additional 2 tablespoons, diced
    2/3 cup Parmesan Reggiano cheese, grated
    Salt, to taste

    1. Trim the leaves from the stalks and set aside for another use.
    2. Cut the stalks into  2 inch long pieces.
    3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and add the stalks.  Boil about 30 minutes, until the stalks are tender.  Drain.
    4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
    5. Use the softened butter to coat a baking dish.  Use a dish that will hold the chard in 2 layers.
    6. Add half the chard to the dish in a dingle layer, and top with half the cheese.  Add the remaining chard, press down, and top with the rest of the cheese.
    7. Top with the diced butter, and bake for 15 minutes until the top layer is just beginning to brown.

    Sunday, January 22, 2012

    Cranberry Pork Roast (Crock Pot Recipe)

    Credit: Andrew Morrell Photography
    This one is for Jenny's crock pot recipe library. Although it has a number of ingredients, it's pretty simple to prepare. You can vary the seasonings as desired - it can even be made with just the pork and cranberry sauce, if you don't have any of the other ingredients available. Serve with mashed potatoes and a strongly flavored green vegetable, like kale or spinach.

    1 (2-3 lb) boneless pork roast
    2 cups whole berry cranberry sauce
    1 teaspoon ground ginger
    1 tablespoon prepared spicy brown or whole grain mustard
    1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
    1 clove garlic, pressed
    1/3 cup pomegranate juice
    Juice from 1/2 lemon

    1. Trim any excess fat from the pork. A little is fine, but if it has a thick layer of fat on top, you'll want to remove it.
    2. Place the pork in the crock pot and turn it to low.
    3. Combine the remaining ingredients in a bowl, blending well.
    4. Pour the sauce over the pork.
    5. Cover the crock pot, and cook for 8-10 hours.

    Tuesday, November 8, 2011

    Turnip and Butternut Squash Puree

    Turnips (more accurately rutabagas) are an important feature of Thanksgiving in my family of origin. They were actually always there - but no one ate them- until one year my mother decided to skip them. Suddenly 5 teenagers and young adults who had never much cared about the turnips were outraged...as having them was a TRADITION. So, back on the menu they went, and there they've stayed. Not everyone cares for their slightly bitter flavor, however.

    I recently found myself with a very large basket of butternut squash from Tom's garden, and a single turnip (rutabaga) from Katie's crop share. Together, they created something beautiful - the sweetness of the squash blends nicely with the flavor of the turnip, eliminating all traces of bitterness.

    To serve 4, generously:

    • 1 medium butternut squash (about 1.5 pounds), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
    • 1 small yellow turnip (about 1 pound), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
    • 1/2 cup chicken stock
    • 2 tablespoons butter
    • Nutmeg, salt, and pepper to taste

    1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
    2. Place squash in roasting pan in a single layer.
    3. Pour broth over squash.
    4. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes, until tender.
    5. While the squash is cooking, place the turnips in a medium saucepan. Cover with water, bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until tender, about 40 minutes.
    6. Drain the vegetables, and place them in a food processor with the butter.
    7. Puree until smooth.
    8. Add nutmeg, salt, and pepper to taste.
    We served this with Bulgur stuffed peppers last night, but it just as easily pair with a Thanksgiving turkey, or a Christmas prime rib.

    Wednesday, September 21, 2011

    Bulgur Stuffed Red Peppers

    If you've been overdoing it on the heavy fare served by chain restaurants such as Olive Garden or Outback, the vegetarian entree I prepared tonight might help get your diet back on track. These stuffed peppers are low-fat, under 200 calories a serving, and filled with vitamins and fiber.


    *2 red bell peppers
    *1/3 cup chicken broth
    *1/3 cup bulgur wheat
    *1 tablespoon olive oil
    *1 small onion, finely chopped
    *1 clove garlic, minced
    *1 large carrot, finely chopped
    *1/2 cup parsley, minced
    *1 egg, beaten
    *1/4 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
    *Non-stick cooking spray
    *8 tablespoons tomato sauce
    *4 tablespoons shredded Parmesan


    *Preheat oven to 375°F. C
    *Cut red peppers in half through stem end. Remove seeds and cut out ribs.
    *Bring chicken broth to boil in medium saucepan; add bulgur. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand until bulgur is tender, about 5 minutes.
    *Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.
    *Add chopped onion, garlic, carrot, and parsley; sauté until tender, about 15 minutes.
    *Spray skin side of pepper halves with non-stick spray and place skin side down in baking dish.
    *Combine vegetables, bulgur, egg, and pepper.
    *Divide bulgur mixture among pepper halves.
    *Cover pan with foil and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
    Remove foil and top each half with 2 tablespoons of tomato sauce.
    *Sprinkle with cheese.
    *Broil for 5 minutes until cheese is melted.

    Preheat oven to 425°F. Bake stuffed peppers until heated through, about 25 minutes (or 30 minutes if chilled); serve.

    Sunday, September 18, 2011

    Heathcare Inequities

    Let's start by acknowledging that I'm a conservative Republican. I did not vote for Barack Obama, but I'm also not a fan of extremists like Rick Perry and Michelle Bachman. I generally favor fiscal restraint and limited government.

    That said, I do support the healthcare for all initiative we have in Massachusetts. It just seems right to me to provide a means for all citizens to afford healthcare, to require large corporations to participate in the effort, and to ask citizens who choose to opt out to pay a small portion of the costs the state incurs in providing free care to those who choose to forgo insurance.

    Recently, Applebees sold 66 stores in New England to Apple American Group LLC. Apple American has over 16,000 employees and operates 270 stores. As part of the sale, all employees in the affected stores were terminated by Applebees, and rehired by Apple American. Waitstaff in Massachusetts were offered health insurance, as required by law.

    Yesterday, I was dining at an Applebees restaurant in Maine that was affected by the sale. My dining companion was a Massachusetts Applebees waitress, and she struck up a conversation with our server about the coming changes. She asked the server what she thought of the new uniform requirements. The server replied that the uniform change didn't bother her - what bothered her was LOSING HER HEALTH INSURANCE. That's right, as part of the sale, her new employer is not offering insurance. She was told about her rights to COBRA, which more than tripled her monthly cost. This woman is not young, but she is still several years away from being eligible for Medicare. She is an older employee in a tough job market. She can't afford the COBRA payments, so she is choosing to go without insurance. She said that she just hopes she won't get sick or need expensive prescription drugs.

    Massachusetts waitstaff are protected by law; Maine waitstaff are not. That is not right.

    Friday, December 31, 2010

    Looking Forward to 2011!

    2010 was a year of highs and lows - a bit of a roller coaster. On January 8, I posted my New Year's resolutions online. The first (to make all of Katie's swim meets) was derailed on January 24 when I slipped on black ice and broke my back. Between a month in the hospital, and several months in a brace and hospital bed at home, I not only missed all of swim season, but most of Jenny's softball season as well. (Down)

    The bright side of the injury was that I had 16 hours a day to devote to building up my portfolio as a Vertical Manager at Mahalo, generating over $10,000 a month in earnings. (Up) Unfortunately, as soon as I hit that level, the Vertical Manager program was eliminated. (Down) However, the experience gave me the confidence to start my own business with Colette Larson, a good friend I met at Mahalo in 2007. Our company now has two sites (Pharmacy Drug Guide) and (Best Free Stuff Guide) and is turning a profit. We couldn't have done it with our initial core of writers- who, although they are now being paid, took a risk and wrote for us on trust when we started. (Up)

    That's just a sample of my 2010 - some really bad - some really good. I am determined to view the year as ending on a hopeful note, however, and am looking forward to the dawn of the new decade with faith and believe that good things lie ahead for me and those I love.

    Wednesday, July 28, 2010

    Celebrate National Lasagna Day on July 29

    Lasagna has always been closely tied to Christmas for me. Growing up in an Italian family with five children who were not enamored of fish, it became our family's traditional Christmas Eve dinner. I was surprised to learn that National Lasagna Day was celebrated at the end of July- on my English-German mother-in-law's birthday, no less.

    While making lasagna would be a great way to celebrate, it's a bit too hot for turning on the oven these days. Luckily, there are several restaurants that are offering half price lasagna to celebrate. Buca di Beppo is even serving up free lasagna.

    Sunday, July 25, 2010

    Simple Italian Menu for the Grill

    It's a hot, lazy summer day here in New England. What better time to use the grill instead of the stove? I'm looking forward to preparing a spicy meal of devil's chicken, grilled broccoli rabe (yes, you can grill broccoli rabe-- it takes about 3 minutes), and bruschetta with tomato salad.

    This menu can also be done in the broiler, if the weather isn't conducive to grilling where you are. Here's a simple method to broil broccoli rabe.

    Sunday, July 11, 2010

    How to Make Chocolate Lava Cakes

    Molten Chocolate Lava Cakes used to be a gourmet treat at fancy restaurants. Now that Domino's Pizza has put them on the menu they've become a more accessible indulgence. This recipe from Chef Dave Martin from Bravo's ''Top Chef'' shows how simple it is to make lava cakes at home. Do you have chocolate, eggs, flour, sugar, and butter in your kitchen right now? If so, you're less than 30 minutes away from chocolate heaven.

    Saturday, July 3, 2010

    How to Make Pesto

    One of my favorite restaurants, Not Your Average Joe's has shared their recipe for pistachio pesto just in time for the summer herb harvest. I've tried it at the restaurant and it's great! This recipe combines basil and mint, but you can use all basil if you like. Pesto freezes well, and makes a great topping for grilled meats and vegetables.

    1/2 cup roasted shelled pistachios
    1 1/2 oz basil leaves
    1/2 cup mint
    2 Tablespoon
    3/4 cup olive oil
    1/2 cup romano grated
    1/4 tsp salt
    1/4 tsp black pepper ground

    Place all of the ingredients in a blender and blend smooth. Place in an airtight container and hold for up to a week. For a nice touch, sprinkle pistachios over the finished dish.

    If you prefer a classic pesto, Chef Paolo Laboa explains how to make a traditional Pesto Genovese in this video. He explains how subtle differences in basil, pine nuts, and olive oil affect the taste of the pesto.

    Monday, February 15, 2010

    The Last Three Weeks

    Three weeks ago today I had one of those moments when your life changes in an instant. I'd driven my son to school (actually he'd driven me as we are living through that parental nightmare called "permit time"), stopped the car at the mailbox and grabbed the mail that I hadn't collected since Saturday, opened the car door with hands full, and stepped out.

    The next second, I was on the ground, having slipped on black ice, in too much pain to move. To make it worse, it was raining. I shouted-- nobody heard. I set off the car alarm-- nobody came. After about 35 minutes I was able to slide my arm over to reach my cell phone which miraculously hadn't been broken in the fall. I called my husband, who'd been sitting warm, dry, and oblivious inside while I was on the ground. He came out, called the EMTs....and I've been in the hospital/rehab ever since.

    Rumor is I'm getting sprung on Wednesday-- home with hospital bed and a whole cadre of support professionals to help organize my life-- visiting nurses, occupational therapists, home health aides, and physical therapists.....this is a whole universe I knew nothing about.

    I have learned a lot these past three weeks.

    #1. I am incredibly lucky. Yes, I burst my L1 vertebrae and have become best friends with drugs I'd never heard of...but a little bit either way and I wouldn't be complaining about how much it hurts to walk or sit...I wouldn't be doing either. Everything works-albeit a bit slower.

    #2. I have friends. The cards, visits, and flowers have been almost non stop. Accupressure and ginger tea to help with nausea from all the drugs, silly magazines and life savers...all the little things that met needs I didn't know I had. I will have a full time job writing thank you notes.

    #3.Healthcare workers are overworked-- and still manage to put others' needs above their own. I am almost always greeted by smiling motivating people-- who seem to have nothing in the world to do except meet my needs. I do not see their personal struggles reflected in their attitudes, even though I know they all have the same challenges we all face. Somehow these angels manage to leave all that at the door.

    #4. I am blessed to have a job that I can do anywhere there is wi-fi-- and to have landed in a hospital/rehab facility that have reliable wi-fi.

    #5. Creative problem solving and teamwork can solve any problem. I am going home because of a team that included me, my PT, my OT, and my Othotics guy, which resulted in customizing my brace in a way none have them had ever seen before to allow me to manage it independently.

    #6.I have family who cares and sees to the little things...from my husband who shows up early and wakes me up with good coffee and fresh bagels, to a teenage son who washed my clothes and brought them to me in the hospital, to sisters and daughters who have been an unending source of support.

    Life can change in an instant. And I believe I have finally, truly, learned the meaning of "don't sweat the small stuff". It's all small stuff- except the people you love, and those who love you.

    Friday, January 22, 2010

    Whopper Bar

    Do you want a beer with your Whopper? Burger King will start selling beer in Miami in February. Burger King launched their Whopper bar concept last March, with "Whopper bar Girls", "barristas", and a contemporary stainless steel and black and white interior design. The first Whopper bar, at Universal Studios, only featured soft drinks, but the international locations that followed served brewskis alongside the burgers. The South Beach Whopper Bar opening next month is the first in the U.S. to offer beer.

    Friday, January 8, 2010

    My New Year's Resolutions

    My friend Holly Kuovo, president of Fitting Fitness In was discussing goals the other day. Holly said that if you don't set a goal and write it down, you'll never achieve it. While I'm not sure I agree with that 100% (certainly some people must achieve goals without writing them down) it seemed like sensible advice. So, I'm not only going to write my goals down, I'm going to do it here, in public!

    So, in no particular order of priority, here are my goals for 2010:

    1. Make it to each any every one of Katie's remaining swim meets. (She's done for good after NEWMACs this year.)
    2.Read a book a week.
    3.Unload some of the "stuff" I've accumulated over the years, which has been greatly augmented by the "stuff" I inherited from my mother and grandmother. It's time to streamline, and let go.

    Those may sound pretty simple- and not major life altering resolutions at all...Life altering may come later-- but for now, I think small and achievable is the way to go.

    Sunday, September 20, 2009

    The Last Day of Summer

    Today was an absolutely perfect day. I'd say it was Indian summer, but we haven't had a frost yet, so technically it was just an average fall day...but technically it's not fall yet, either. I've probably experienced many days just like this in my life, but haven't stopped to appreciate them. This summer was so cold and wet, however, that I was really ready to appreciate the sun on my shoulders, the bright flowers in the garden, watching Riley lay in a pool of sunlight on the lawn, and all the little things that maybe I hadn't noticed before. I'd say that's true of life in general - you need to pass through a dark period to realize how special the ordinary things are.

    Although the calendar begins in January, fall has always felt like the time of fresh starts for me. As the world slows down, and mother nature prepares to hibernate, I feel invigorated. So today was a perfect day to bid goodbye to summer, and bid hello to whatever the next few months have in store for me and those I love.