Nick and a pregnant Julie Anne Rhodes

I complained of feeling uninspired on facebook this past weekend, and as usual, I was greeted with the love and support of many, and messages like this:

Cynthia Zeman Godwin

So sorry to hear 🙁 You’re going through such a challenging recovery, you must have really down days. Hopefully soon to be offset by some of the best days! I just read your birthday tribute to Tatjana…I got really weepy! I hope I can be even half as wonderful a mother! Your writing is beautiful.


Cynthia is due to have her first baby immanently, and she sparked one of my funniest memories of being pregnant. This one is for you Cynthia…

In 1985 Nancy Huang, Nile Rodgers girlfriend back in the day, invited me to a wedding shower she threw for Madonna just before she married Sean Penn. Although we’d never met before, I was touched when I received a handwritten note from Madonna thanking me for the sterling picture frame a month later. We did have a lot of fun the night of her bridal shower… ending up with dancing at Palladium.
Sean Penn & Madonna
A year passed, newlyweds Madonna and Sean were in London making a film, and I was heavily pregnant with Tatjana. Nick took me to my favorite restaurant in Blakes Hotel desperately trying to keep his hormonal wife happy. It was as if someone suddenly turned on a faucet… there I sat sobbing for no real reason as the rest of the restaurant looked on at Nick in disgust wondering what he’d said to make the poor pregnant woman cry? Quite rightly mortified… Nick started saying silly things-whatever he could to make me laugh, but to no avail. Then he said “don’t look now, but I think Madonna is on her way over to say hello.”

Julie Anne Rhodes: pregnant in Yoshi
“Yeah right…” I shot right back.

“Hello Julie Anne and Nick” came the unmistakeable voice from behind. There I sat… a beached whale in my Yoshi Yamamoto for men (my idea of pregnancy clothes) with mascara streaming down my beet red face looking up at an exquisite Chanel clad, impeccably made-up Madonna asking me “what’s it like to be pregnant, Julie Anne?”

‘Ooooooooh g g g gre aaat” came my Lucille Ballesqe reply through continued sobs. Not exactly my most convincing performance.

Tatjana and Julie Anne Rhodes
Thank you Cynthia for reminding me that pregnancy was a bumpy ride too, and I did make it through. I may not have liked being pregnant, but the day Tatjana was born is without doubt the most joyous day of my life. This recovery is just another bump in the road before the good times to follow. Congratulations again on the baby! We all worry about being a good mom… especially with the first, but it all comes naturally if you let it.

None of this really relates to food… just a story on the side. I haven’t shared a side recipe for a while, so here is one of my favorite sides I serve with my award-winning Jewels Turkey-Jasmine Burgers.

Five Spice Sweet Potato Oven Fries

Servings: 4

  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 1 teaspoon five spice (cinnamon, cloves, fennel seed, star anise, and Szechuan peppercorns)
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt, or more to taste
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce


1). preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

2). In a large bowl, toss the sweet potato fries, five spice, and oil. Spread evenly over a sheet pan, and sprinkle with salt. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until browned and crispy.

3). Mix Ketchup and hoisin for dipping in hoisin ketchup.

Serving Suggestions:I serve these with myaward-winning Jewels Turkey-Jasmine Burgers, but they are great with any Asian inspired fusion dish.
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  • March 2, 2010
    11:45 pm

    i just love your blog and your stories. i have followed you/nick for years. glad you are recovering and in better spirits ♥Kim Cass

  • March 2, 2010
    11:46 pm

    Great story!! xoxoAllison Coia

  • March 2, 2010
    11:48 pm

    I enjoy all of your stories. I also serve sweet potato fries with your Jasmine Turkey Burgers. It just seems like the natural thing to do. Please keep sharing your recovery with us. We all love you.Melinda McCoy LaBarge

  • March 3, 2010
    12:07 am

    I love your stories. The birth of my daughter gave me PTSD as we BOTH nearly died from the last 5 minutes of delivery. — That said, I would do it again in a heartbeat to have her in my life.Eventhough we don't know each other, if you ever need to vent, or weep, please feel free to contact me. I have big shoulders.

  • March 3, 2010
    12:23 am

    Hi Julie Anne,As usual I love reading your stories. I look forward to switching on my computer and getting into your blog as it cheers me up, takes me away to places I could never imagine in a million years and also at times, make me shed a tear or two….ok, who am I kidding SEVERAL.However, that is the excitement and buzz I get and I absolutely love it. Thank you for that.We all have our bad days and good days, it is normal. We are all different, yet all the same.I'm sure no one would mind you writing something that does not relate to food. Sometimes we need a change.Take Care on your road to recovery. Aussie Mum

  • March 4, 2010
    3:17 am

    I look forward to hearing from all of you too! Thank you so much for all of the encouragement and support. Hugs to each of you. Jewels xo

  • March 4, 2010
    3:17 am

    Hormonal …ahh yes .. I remember that well …Mikki Pallas

  • March 4, 2010
    3:20 am

    That is my smart a** honorary sistah, who caught the brunt of those hormonal days. But ya love me in spite of myself don't you Mik???

  • March 4, 2010
    6:16 am

    cute story… (:Averil Martin Gleason

  • March 4, 2010
    7:22 am

    Always! Mxxxxxxx

  • March 4, 2010
    7:28 am

    I could use one of those right now, I am 21 weeks pregnant with my 3rd daughter. :)Lisa Van Ore Thompson

  • March 4, 2010
    7:29 am

    how utterly cute. love these pics. i was fat and hormonal to. it comes with the territory. a right of passage.Kim Cass

  • March 4, 2010
    7:30 am

    You read stories about women saying how sexy and beautiful they feel when their pregnant. Ha! It's fun in a completely "space alien invading your body" kind of way, but sexy – Ummmm, not so much. Luckily it's over fairy quickly and having kids is the best. :)Kim Phillips Cuccia

  • March 4, 2010
    7:31 am

    You guys are sooooo cool. I thought I would get slammed for admitting that I didn't like being pregnant. I agree Kim.. felt much more like having a parasite than a baby on board, but ooooooooohhhh was it worth it! CONGRATS Lisa!

  • March 4, 2010
    7:32 am

    Julie Anne, you made my day! Thank you! I dragged home from a brutal day at work, snowflakes stuck in my hair, feeling utterly miserable, and then I saw your blog…you wouldn't believe the smile it brought to my face! Comfort as well. I was feeling rather alone with not liking pregnancy. I don't feel beautiful, I feel fat. I need a good manshirt. And no one warned me that your GI tract mounts a full-scale rebellion in this "natural state"!I laughed so hard at your story of Nick trying to cheer you up. My own (stoic and English) husband has unsuccessfully attempted this while looking utterly befuddled. I've almost felt sorry for him. Almost. Men like to fix things. There's simply no logical solution to a woman bawling over a Pampers advert! You looked as beautiful as ever even pregnant, and even in the face of adversity, have never lost your Mojo! I hope you're feeling a little better each day. You certainly brightened mine. Can't wait to make the sweet potato fries! And Lisa, huge congrats to you!Cynthia Zeman Godwin

  • March 4, 2010
    5:16 pm

    "good story. must be funny to look back on now. going through all the pain and horrendous stuff that pregnancy brings on seems so worth it, especially after those beautiful little gifts arrive and then they grow up into amazing people! count yourself lucky to have a wonderful daughter! hope you are feeling on the up and up!"Nina Fleischer Gass

  • March 4, 2010
    5:23 pm

    Cynthia… ROTFLMAO! At least you understand why they try to fix it… I was too young and ignorant, but I did blaze a trail to the loo… no sooner would I lay down to sleep, and Tatjana would start pounding on my bladder again, and I'd have to heave my huge self out of bed to make another loo run.So right Nina… all sooooooooo worth it!

  • March 4, 2010
    5:25 pm

    Loved reading that story JulieAnne…I can remeber sobbing on my way to the hospital with my 2nd not wanting to leave the older one behind! Joys of motherhood!! I have one home sick today…Josie Elder- Chow

  • March 5, 2010
    2:29 am

    I still say Taj has a bit of Scarlett Johansson about her..Julia Negron

  • March 5, 2010
    2:30 am

    I was forever stealing my husbands shirts when I was pregnant..maternity clothes were not for me! I remember when I was in labor (early) with my first that I just had to get to the grocery store! I made my husband walk every aisle with me makeing sure we had a well stocked pantry before we left for the hospital!Kathy Caslin Mullen

  • May 3, 2010
    7:57 am

    I found your site almost a year ago, when I was looking for a recipe from the food network. I’ve been enjoying your stories ever since. I don’t normally comment on blogs, this is my first. I have to say first off, I’ve never been married or pregnant so this blog is an odd one for me to comment on. I’m the youngest of four siblings. There is a 10 year gap between me and the youngest of the three. While growing up I watched my sisters have lots and lots of kids. I was there many times while shopping while they either broke down in tears about being a beached whale (their words, not mine) or rip the shop sales man a new bottom because their normal shoe size wasn’t normal anymore (swollen feet). I was unfortunately, also there while they had their strange cravings for; well let’s face it, really strange food combos. Personally, I never got use to being feed pizza with everything including grape or strawberry jelly. Come to think of it, I guess that is why I don’t really like pizza. I occasionally remind them of their odd food choices while pregnant. Lol, what are little sisters for? After being around my siblings while they were pregnant, I never really wanted children. Of course, there is a long scary story in my life that I consider my personal twight light zone episode regarding an 11 pound baby and a crushed hand with that one. Ohhh and when I was young I some how got the turkey temperature popup gauge confused with pregnancy. I always thought that when the belly button popped out that the baby was done cooking and ready to be delivered. I remember always checking their belly buttons to make sure it wasn’t time yet. =)I hope you get better soon and please keep up the wonderful stories. I just love them. Nique

  • May 3, 2010
    2:29 pm

    I too remember the day Tatjana was born. Duran were at Air studios in London and us fans congratulated Nick. When I saw your blog and the photos of Tatjana, I felt OLD!I have two children of my own now and I loved being pregnant.