Just Dance it Out

Everyone has those moments in a work day where they hit a wall.
Either they are so over a project–or bored, or dreading something–could be a myriad of things really.

Happened to me a lot last week.

So I watched this…and it made me smile, and want to dance.
I dare you to try not to smile or dance along.


Posted in Happy Fun Times | Leave a comment

Pinterest Project: The Green Monstah.

I’ve started a project to find out if some recipes posted to Pinterest really are that great-or are merely really nice looking photos.  

In the last post I took the softball approach. I knew when I looked at the recipe of Cream Cheese Cookies (which includes butter, sugar, and cream cheese) that they would-without a doubt, be amazing.  After that I decided to take on something I was unsure about.  I’ve dubbed it “The Green Monstah”  (Yes in honor of Fenway because I big read puffy hearts love the Red Sox. Plus, looking at the smoothing-it can be a little intimidating).

I’m a fan of smoothies. They’re an easy grab & go breakfast for me. Despite the fact that I love cooking I rarely make breakfast-my mind is spinning too much on the day ahead, making lists and thinking of what I have to get accomplished. Smoothies are faster.

The Green Monstah-takes the healthy up a notch.

I use Spinach, a banana, frozen fruit and Greek yogurt.


I don’t use ice often because I like it a little thinner, but feel free to add!  I also use Greek yogurt. It’s thicker, less sweet/more tangy. Plus it contains much more protein and sometimes less sugar than traditional yogurt.

Feel free to use whatever fruits you want. The batch I often use is a strawberry/mango/pineapple blend.


I use a small handful of fresh fruit (maybe 3/4 of a cup?) and a giant handful of spinach or

Spinach-I usually don't measure though.

two regular sized ones.

Put all ingredients in the blender–and let it go to work! Ok-I’ll admit, sometimes I run into trouble here.  It could be a number of things..the way I stacked ingredients, cheap blender, who knows…but I sometimes have to take a spoon and mash things closer to the blade. (Clearly when the blender is off!) \

Then pour and enjoy.  It’s as simple as that.  I will say I have read about another green smoothie on Pinterest that includes Kale-I haven’t tried it (the grocery store was out.)  I’ve also read “you’ll lose weight!” or “Burn fat!” I kinda doubt that. What I will say is this: It’s yummy. You don’t taste the spinach-it’s just Bright Green.  And it is very filling.

I’m now hooked on them.  Especially because I feel like it helps get even more nutrients into my day.  Consider this a success.


Posted in Cooking, food, Pinterest, recipe | 3 Comments

Pinterest Project: Cream Cheese Cookies

Last week I decided I’d take on Pinterest. I wanted to find out whether the recipes on the site were actually any good, or if they were simply pretty photos.

I’ll be honest, to start the series I’ve got an easy one. Just looking at the ingredients you KNOW these things will be good (and oh heavens are they! Cream Cheese, Butter Sugar-you can’t really go wrong.)  Plus I happened to have all items in the fridge (another advantage of these cookies, almost everything is a staple).

Cream Cheese Cookie 

The 'Pin'-spiration

Two things to note: (1) A Big reason I chose these is so that I could use my new Kitchen-Aid mixer, and (2) photos were an afterthought–some had the flash others didn’t. I’ll be better next time!  


  • 1 Stick of Butter  (Unsalted / Room temperature)
  • 3 oz Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • Vanilla or Almond Extract (optional)Instructions
  •  Pre-heat oven to 350
  • Combine butter, sugar, and cream cheese (You’ll need to scrape down the bowl)
  • Once combined, add salt, extract (optional) and slowly add in flour While mixing the dough.
  • Mix just until combined
  • Cooling on the Rack

    The dough IS a bit tough to put in well-rounded circles on the sheets.  Of course, I’ve never been gifted with cookies so many people may have no troubles whatsoever.

    The batter is delicious (and no raw eggs!)

    This mix makes only two dozen or so–but it can easily be doubled.

    Bake the cookies for about 15 minutes, turn halfway through.
    Let them rest on the sheet for a few minutes, then cool on the rack.

    Finally, my favorite step, share with others and enjoy!

    It's blue-ish. But they're ACTUALLY a golden color.

Posted in baking, cookies, Cooking, dessert, Pinterest | 1 Comment

Putting Pinterest to the Test

I am, like millions of others, completely hooked on Pinterest.  What seemed to be a hip/new/gotta be in the know site in late spring-early summer has transformed into a social juggernaut. I have overheard ‘Oh I saw this on Pinterest’ at airports, restaurants, and the workplace.

(Don’t worry, I’m not going to be all Hipster and say I’m over it. I Adore the site. I even accept it’s fairly regular site /mobile app errors–THAT is real love 😉    )

For some people the site helps spur creativity, or helps plan huge events like parties and weddings.  For others, it’s just fun to look at pretty things.  To each their own.I have a number of boards: Places to visit, Clothes I adore, Random things I find simply hilarious, and of course one for food.  While going through the board one day searching for menu items I found myself wondering “It Looks great, but (A) is it as easy to recreate, and (B) Do these things even taste good–or are they just really pretty pictures of food?!?

So I decided, I’d find out.  I’m going to start a (very haphazard) series here in which I try a recipe, blog about the recreation of, and how it tastes.

Looking good is one thing, but there’s gotta be something to back it up! (True in life too-not just food)

Feel free to make suggestions!
Happy Pinning!

(By the way my friend Audreya has a great tutorial on the site if you are new/want to learn more!)

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

One More Ticket.

It’s New Year’s Eve. Most people are either filled with nostalgic feelings of times gone by, or jubilation at a new beginning. A year ago I said I wanted the upcoming trip around the sun to be one in which my life was fuller. Oh boy did 2011 bring it.

The year was a turbulent one. I had rocketing highs, and aching lows. In fact, here’s a brief summary: (in a mish-mash list)

  • Continued a lengthy job search that challenged my skill set and self-worth. It also brought along the discovery of my first dream job (which I didn’t get. I am not Mario Batali’s media supervisor, though I did apply!)
  • Helped one of my best friends realize what they wanted was right in front of them. And convinced them to not trade long-term bigger ideas for immediate ones–and reminded myself of the lesson often
  • Spoke publicly about my experience of my mom’s cancer and death
  • Said GoodBye to dear friends who moved (which is never easy) and welcomed in new ones who I cannot imagine my life without
  • Celebrated love. My brother proposed to his girlfriend, and they bought a house. I adore both of them.
  • Landed a job. One that provided a number of new opportunities. It also brought along a more balanced life (read: more sleep/less stress)
  • Lost my MeMe. She was more than my only grandparent. She was a force. She shaped my life and character in more ways than I’ll ever realize.

The last year has brought more challenges and changes than any other, except 2004.
Overall, I’m happy to have gone through it. It pushed me in ways I haven’t, and forced me to take a closer look at who I am and what I want. It had ups, and downs–but most of all it was Full.

Tonight I won’t wonder what happened this year. Instead I’ll be thinking ‘Some of it’s magic; Some of it’s tragic-but I had a good life all the way.’

It was a roller-coaster, and I’d like another ticket for 2012.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sooo….this happened (I was on TV)

Most people would describe themselves firmly as Either an Extrovert, OR an Introvert.
I believe I fall squarely between the two. I am uncomfortable in new situations–it takes me time to open up and get used to things. The men in my family are far more social (in fact I’m not sure if my brother has ever met a stranger). On the other hand, once I am settled, I quickly assume a role that’s commanding and confidant.

Not long ago I was asked/pushed to do an on-air cooking segment. I was beyond petrified. I didn’t know how on Earth I would fill the time (the segment would be on slow cooking, how much is there to discuss?!?) I worried my lack of true training would come across, and scrutinized over what to say.

My friends were great about it. Some encouraged, others said I still had time to back out, a few said “Act if you’re talking to me–without the profanity” and one convinced me not to drop out less than 18 hours from show time. And they all dealt with me and my nerves without threatening to harm or drug me.

I haven’t watched–and frankly don’t plan on doing so, but I was encouraged to post.
Here it is, the segment on Drip Beef Sandwiches 


Posted in Beef, food, friends, slow cooker | 2 Comments

Adjustments Needed.

It’s stunning how one decision starts a cascade of changes in life, like dominoes…propelling forward revealing new things, but once that domino falls, it takes some work to get things set back right.  That’s where I find myself these days.  Struggling to keep up with changes that happen one after another–simultaneously enjoying what’s happening yet also fighing for things to steady and return to a more regimented pace.

About six weeks ago I accepted a new job.  It had been a long time coming. I was good at my old job…seasoned and confident.  I greatly miss certain aspects of it, but I couldn’t do it anymore.  I didn’t like the person I was becoming because of it.  It was time to go.

The new role has brought with it a myriad of changes, both on the professional and personal spectrum.  Often, in the true yin and yang that is life; one good change brings with it things that should be altered.

For example: I’m working normal hours. For the first time EVER.  Sleeping when a person is supposed to,  being able to grab lunch with friends, not feeling alienated from the real world…it’s fantastic.  BUT, I have yet to figure out a steady routine.  Food/Cooking sheds light on the biggest problem. It’s gone to the way-side.  That means I’ve picked up to-go order FAR too often (Or eaten utter crap) and this is bad for my body and my wallet. Plus I Miss cooking.  (The only reason this isn’t a bigger issue is the things keeping me from cooking are social, and as cathartic as cooking for me.)  My DVR is filling quickly.  I like feeling too busy, yet being a List person?  The ‘Browse Recordings’ menu feels like a to-do que.  Then to compensate when I find free time I turn into a lazy slug, ignoring all work around the house that needs done.

I know I will find my routine.  I know a big reason for the chaos is that not only is it new, right now is the most stressful time for the new role. In another six weeks things will be calmer.

But…..until that happens I’ll feel rushed.  Don’t get me wrong I’m happy. My life feels full and I’m more at peace and pleased with what is IN it— I just need to rework the line-up.


Posted in learning, life | Leave a comment

Two Ingredients and a Big Step

A simple recipe, one with only two ingredients, served a dual purpose for me last night.
It was my menu, and my own personal challenge.

Yesterday marked 7 years since my mom passed.  I felt it, I do every year.  Mostly it was in the sense of feeling a bit anxious or frazzled–no outbursts of emotion.  What was different though, what stayed with me–is that it is the first anniversary that my MeMe hasn’t been here. In years past I would typically call her or drive to see her, knowing her laugh, her stories, and her food would envelop me in a warm sense of comfort that could melt stress as if it were butter in a hot pan.

But what would I do this year? IF there were a storm of emotion, where would I find shelter?  What, or who would be my refuge?  I had no idea if I would be upset–but I wanted to be prepared.

I made an unorthodox decision.  I decided on that day–I would make Chicken Noodles. The recipe tied all three (my MeMe, my momma and I) together.  MeMe taught me how to make it.  My mom and I believe(d) it’s the most comforting food in the world. The caveat? I hadn’t made it since MeMe died.  While I’ve made it dozens of times, I was afraid of the emotional rush that could hit me, and I was afraid a food I cherished, would be tarnished.  Why would I do this?  Granted on one hand it was potentially setting myself up emotionally to wreck myself–but I also knew that once it was done….it would be done.  As bad as the day COULD be, the next–it would be past me.  Once I got the idea in my mind, the decision was made.

While this was something I knew I Had to do, I also knew being alone wouldn’t be wise. Plus cooking for others, rather than just cooking for the act would aid in the cathartic process.  It would provide focus once all dishes were in the sink.

Luckily I have a group of people who I know don’t mind if I strip away any show, sass or flair, and all that’s left is a raw/real place.  They accept, and love.  They let me take over their kitchen.  They let me prattle on for hours about menial things, or sit in silence and sense how I feel.  On days like Monday, or any other for that matter.

I once received this StoryPeople card.  I love it, and it fits this scenario beautifully.

There are things you do because they feel right & they may make no sense & they may make no money & it may be the real reason we are here: to love each other & to eat each other’s cooking & say it was good.

Posted in Comfort, Cooking, family, food, friends, life, MeMe, Mom, Noodles | 2 Comments

From the View of a Child

I should start by saying this post is far overdue.  Months actually.
Last year I was contacted by members of the National Cancer Society in my home state.  A woman had worked with my mother, remembered me, and asked if I would be a part of an event–if I would share my story.  I talked with family, “extended” family (meaning those who aren’t blood, but still know your secrets) friends, and I prayed.  But after all that…. nothing happened.

Well not for quite a while.  In the spring I was approached again, given a date of an event, and asked if I would share my story.  When I got off the phone I was overcome with emotion.  After over six months of nothing, I’d thought they’d found someone more desireable….of greater impact.  But still…they sought me.  I teared up when I called my dad and brother.

I had a mix of emotions that day.  I was honored, scared, and most of all overwhelmed.  Where would I start? I knew I couldn’t possibly discuss everything of over 14 years…but even if I spoke for hours (and clearly I wasn’t planning to do so) would it be enough?  Plus, there was the fact that I was a child.  My perspective would be completely different.  Was that even what these folks were after (it was exactly why I was chosen apparently.)

Once again….after much thought…prayer…consulting with others, I decided I would do it. I have written about  my mom before, but this was different. If my mother’s story (or consequently my own) could help another, I would do it.  Afterall, I didn’t have a childhood in which my life revolved around a cancer patient. I had a full, blessed life with a fantastic mother.

Without further ado, here is the speeech I delivered:

I read once:

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” 

I think everyone here feels a connection with that statement.  For me, when I read it I immediately thought of my mother.

I was eight years old when my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, from the day of diagnosis she was in an aggressive, full on battle with the disease, until August of 2004 when it took her life. 

She was sick for what equals now half of my life, the majority of my brother’s.  I struggle to remember a time before her diagnosis.   What’s even more difficult is to reflect, now that I’m an adult, on what pain, what sickness, what stress and anxiety she and my dad must have felt that I didn’t see.  Realizing the magnitude of the situations I lived through as a child has been some of the toughest parts. 

It wasn’t that my parents kept the diagnosis or prognosis from us.  It’s that we were children.  When you’re trying to wrap your brain around multiplication tables, how in the world do you begin to understand a disease such as cancer?  How can a parent explain?

 Mine chose a seemingly unorthodox way of doing so.  They let my brother and I pick the route that was best for us.  They didn’t want to use a “One size fits all” type of method for a message so large, so they sat us down, and explained the basics.  From there, it was up to us.  They would answer any question we had, (separately of course, so the other wasn’t subject to information they weren’t ready for)  they told us “Tell us when your brain is full” and as they’d predicted, we were opposite, my brother wanted everything spread on the table right then, whereas I preferred small bits and pieces of information over time.  Their method worked.  It removed the fear of the unknown, yet gave us a wall should we want to hide.  We weren’t forced into anything. 

On the day of diagnosis my parents decided that my brother and I would have the most normal childhoods we could possibly have.  That’s why it’s difficult for me to answer the question “What was it like living with a mother who had cancer?”  I lived with my Mom.  She was a wife, a sister, a mother, a friend,  a school board president, a medical technologist , a Sunday school teacher,   an avid reader, a traveler….she was all these things, and so much more wrapped into one tiny barely over five foot tall package…who just happened to have cancer.

To our family, Cancer made us different, but it never defined us.  Why would it?  Why would we let an ugly, depressing word be our legacy?  Cancer was a fact of life, no more no less. 

The disease and treatment quickly became part of our lives.  Maybe it was easy to adjust the schedules of my brother and I because we were so young, without social lives or an onslaught of activities; maybe it wasn’t…But I don’t remember a large transitional phase.  Treatments were almost like a job.  Some days are long and tedious; some days take a whole lot out of you.  It was the same with my mom. 

I don’t know how much of a struggle it was to ensure that we had a normal childhood, but I can tell you my parents nailed it.  I took dance and piano lessons; my brother was active in sports. Despite what was going on in our lives we had dinner together as a family almost every night.  We were in church every Sunday. 

We celebrated life.  When I reflect on that time, it’s the good memories that stand out.  When my mom had her bone marrow transplant, my brother and I stayed with our aunt for a while.  We thought this was So cool, because she was in charge of summer camps in the area, and since she didn’t have kids, we got a lot more candy and toys than we would at home.  During that time each of us had a giant box, which was filled with all sorts of small items, candies, toys, stickers, and each one had a number.  Every day our mom was in the hospital we drew an item out; we were counting down the days until she returned home.  But rather than longing or waiting, there was a good spin. 

In the fall of 1991, I distinctively remember balloons and a banner draped across our front door that read ‘No Mo Chemo!’  There are plenty of photographs with my mom without her wig on during Christmas morning celebrations.  That was normal to us. Besides who looks picture perfect in their PJ’s on Christmas Morning anyway?

Things weren’t always easy or upbeat.  I still don’t have any recollection of the moment we were told she would die.  My memory blocked it out.  Towards the end of her life I would get angry she was so weak.  Of course I was never angry at Her. I was scared, and so angry at the unfairness of the situation.  Why her? When there was so much evil and wrong in the world…why my mother?  
She never scolded us for moments like that.  She recognized where the emotions stemmed from, and with a combination of wisdom and unconditional love, she let them be.  She let us be angry or upset.  Because we were right, it wasn’t fair. 

But life isn’t fair, is it? You’re dealt a certain set of cards and it’s up to you to play the very best you can. 

In this world time isn’t guaranteed to anyone.  My parents begrudgingly stared that cold hard fact of life down, and decided that while they couldn’t make or extend time, they could fill it.  They lived full, and loved hard in the time that they had.  Cancer wasn’t going to be a restriction. 

My parents traveled to Germany, Italy, France, England, and Hawaii…all trips were made after a liver oblation in the late 90s.

As a family we traveled together, we watched plays and went to museums.

My parents made sure my brother and I knew important life lessons.  We were instructed on how to dine at fancy restaurants, social graces like writing thank-you notes, and the importance of giving back to charity.  
Maybe my parents tried to pack our young lives as rich and filled as it possibly could be, because the future was undetermined.  If that’s the case I didn’t notice, I just knew my life was full.  
And when you live in a home where (even unbeknownst to you) minutes, and days count…there was never a single second my brother and I didn’t feel loved or supported. 

I am so flattered, and honored to be here today, but truth be told I wish I were sitting in another seat. 
I wish I were among the audience, and that my mother were here, to share her own story of survival…to personally relay her message of strength, and courage, and embracing life.

I know in my case….being a survivor means I have had to learn to live without my mother. 

There have been times where words cannot even begin to describe the pain and difficulty, but we move forward.

And instead of survive, I choose the word Flourish. 

My family and I…haven’t just gotten by.  We have grown, we have embraced life, and rejoiced in the world we knew…and that is all thanks to the example we saw first hand.

Cancer is a rotten, terrible, scary disease.  It can dictate how much time is spent in the hospital, or away from one’s family, it can make a person feel horrible, it can even claim a person’s life. I know this firsthand.

But I also know….how limited it is.  Cancer cannot keep you from laughing.  Cancer cannot dictate how to raise your children, or block love, it cannot destroy friendships, it cannot steal your joy. 

No matter what cancer does to you – you can flourish.

Posted in Comfort, family, friends, life, Mom | 1 Comment

What Exactly Is Going On Here?!?

Most of my life I’ve longed to be a crafy person.  I’m just not.  I can follow instructions just fine, but left to my own devices….my mind is blank and cavernous.

I wish I could troll through stores like Hobby Lobby and Michael’s and have my mind filled with ideas and projects.  Instead when I enter those stores, I am a woman on a mission.  I learned long ago (in my college sorority days) if I start wandering I often pick up a few things with the best of intentions, that end up being abandoned, spark cursing fits, or tossed in the trash bin.

Not my photo (source) but makes me laugh Every time

I think my misadventures can be visually described by the Cookie Monster cupcake photo you see here (found on Pinterest, love that site)

Often I have all the needed items, paired with the best of intentions, and things just go awry.  Plus, crafters lie (ok not all, but too often I’ve read ‘This can be a little tricky’ and learned that the statement should be read ‘It’s as tough as herding cats, which you’ll have figured out after cussing or crying and wanting to hurl this project into a wall.)

So can someone tell me WHY I’ve been crafting lately?!?

I believe Pinterest may be to blame. There are so many adorable photos on there.  Cutesy photos (with great lighting) are like little siren images teasing and tempting me to find supplies and clear an afternoon.

The finished product!

Not too long ago I succumbed to the desire, and tried to make a festive summer wreath, made of those drink umbrellas.  And–It turned out well!

Read my best friend’s take on the undertaking here (she Is a crafty person, and eloquently explains how crafting is her world, cooking is mine–and we aren’t exactly comfortable in the other’s.)

While it’s good that I’ve completed a project to my liking, that also has a downside.

I could make this...Right?

I now want to try new things, knowing the summer wreath could be a fluke.  I search for things I could try to recreate, that hopefully wouldn’t break the bank in the process.

I know “Crafter” is a title I’ll never have, but being able to make things brings a unique feeling of satisfaction.

And if I fail?  I still have the kitchen.

Posted in Comfort, friends, learning, Uncategorized | 1 Comment