Looking for Peace (And Pastries)

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Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.” — Alan Alda

I read.  I sleep.  I dream.  I live in a land where I used to be somebody else, but no more.

An old friend reaches out to tell me that’s OK; we’re always evolving.  Trying to stuff so much of my old baggage into the new suitcase is time consuming and “futile.”

Maybe she’s right.

Who am I now?  I do not know.  I suppose this is OK.  Your true self shows up when it is ready.  Perhaps mine is not ready.  Not yet.

A lot of us have trauma; too many.  Things that we’ve seen or experienced personally; dreams that attack us when we are awake, nightmares that try to crunch through our ear canals while we sleep.  If we let them, they can take away a lot.  Like our authenticity.  Our love of life.  Our humor.  If we let them.

My blood sugars remain high, though I am working with my endocrinologist on it, but still my head is fuzzy and when I’m asked to do something at work I pray that it’s something easy.  I know that I can’t handle much else, or at least without being made to feel like a fool (I’ve been here 6 years, some things by now should just come easily).

I’m careful when I drive.  I’m careful when I walk down the stairs.  The diabetes has once again thrown me off the edge of this cliff; the one where I stand with my toes curled underneath me, feeling the sand and the brush and the rough rocks just waiting for me below.

I try again and again to get out of here– to get some reprieve from work and the doctor’s appointments.  From the needle pricks and the blood and keeping count of pills (yesterday was 17) and numbers.  I do small things for myself here and there that are supposed to add to self-care like massages and lunch with friends.  I get enough sleep.  I snuggle with my kitties.  I went for a walk for the first time the other day in I don’t know how long.

It doesn’t work.  Not really. The writing and the sharing keeps me from becoming totally isolated, but life is boring.  Non-adventurous.  Just waiting for something to happen.  Something good.  I soaked myself in a meditation last night that reminded me that my beliefs navigate my world, not the way other way around.

Maybe I need to find the adventure, instead of waiting for it to find me.

I long to jump off of this medical merry-go-round that I seem to be stuck on.  It’s making me nauseous.

I have long, deep dreams about traveling.  Shaking off my day-to-day life responsibilities and going to the beach.  Don’t care if I need a sweatshirt.  Don’t really care where it is.  Just some sand, water, a blanket, and a book.

I long to put on my headphones and faze out the rest of the world.  I would jump on a plane and maybe go see the red rocks of Sedona.  Maybe squeeze myself into a crevice somewhere in a national park and watch the sun set without being afraid of seeing the dark.

Meditation reigns me in; it’s one of the few things these days that makes me feel still, like I’m not sliding right off the map.  But still, I search for far-away places:

Seattle and Vancouver could be lovely.  I could stay out with my friends who have neighborhood block parties and go sailing and we could get some good grub and pretend that none of this other stuff is happening, has happened.

I could go to Austin and swim in the rooftop pool at the South Congress hotel and finally drink a cocktail and find a good food truck covered with lights.  I could play w/ A’s kids in the driveway with chalk and soccer goals and forget about where I’m from, in that moment.

I could go down to Miami and help my friend M forget about the hurricane, the cleanup and the disaster that her city now is.  Instead we could go to the beach and rent bikes and eat Argentinian pastries on the boardwalk as the sun wakes up.  We could make green juices and go for walks.

I could go all over– to Europe to eat pastries and wander museums, to have afternoon tea with the Queen, to shop on the Champs Elyse, stopping at the Musee De l’Orangerie for my fix of Monet water lilies.  I could eat the best gelato in Florence and go visit my high school teacher in Arezzo.  I could go to Fiji and sit on my own private veranda and jump into that crystal clear water whenever I want to.  I could have somebody bring me drinks and pretend like I don’t have cancer.  Or stomach issues.  Or glaucoma.  Or diabetes.  Or massive fatigue.  Or overwhelming depression.

I want to dip my toes in 7 mile beach; my favorite, the Cayman Islands.  I want to float in that water forever, until the sun sets and you can’t see the little fishes swimming so carefully underneath you.

(So to recap:  Pastries and the beach are calling).

I want to feel carefree. I want to believe that it is possible to feel carefree again.

I want to chuck it all– just bring SHL and a backpack and pretend, just for a while, that I’m just a normal girl, living an adventurous life, one without regret, and one with much peace.

 

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The Days Long Before Cancer

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I’m so antsy, only this time (thank g-d) it’s not restless leg syndrome.  It’s the “I’ve got to get out of the house and try new things” kind of syndrome.

The last two weekends we have finally gotten a change of scenery from just sitting at home and staring at each other (not that I don’t love SHL’s face).  We went to the Cape one weekend and sat out on the deck having breakfast overlooking the ocean, sat outside reading, went out to a  movie and to eat, and had friends enjoy the beach with us.  This past weekend we went to a BBQ and beer fest (I was more into the BBQ and SHL was more into the beer) and then the Red Sox/Yankees game (we love Fenway!).

So it’s been more exciting than the past 3 months, that’s for sure, but at the same time, I feel like crawling out of my skin.  Perhaps it’s the work week that gets in the way of my mojo (can you relate?) as just as I feel like I’m relaxed, it’s time to go back to work.  Perhaps it’s just three months’ worth of bottled up angst at wanting to get out and do things, and now it seems like I just can’t get enough of fun and I wish good food (battling constant stomach aches and nausea). I long for adventure, and interestingly enough, I just wrote an article for our work blog where I quote an author who talks about getting out of a mental rut.  He was tired, overworked and overstressed, and people kept telling him to just rest and “take a break.”  But that didn’t feel institutively right to him, so you know what he did instead?  Stand-up comedy!  He said that breaking out of his comfort zone in the end really helped him mentally.

I can see that.  When A and I went to Mexico in February to celebrate my 40th birthday we went swimming in a cave and though it seems easy/peasy, crawling down that ladder while scared of heights was definitely out of my comfort zone.  Not only that, but swimming in a cave in a wet suit with bats flying all around and feeling somewhat claustrophobic and stalactites jutting around each corner felt adventurous!  I definitely felt more alive afterwards and remember celebrating with tacos and beer by the side of a dusty Mexican road.  Ahhh, adventure!

Any suggestions?  Should I have a spontaneous backyard party with a slip-n-slide, s’mores over a fire pit (that I yet to own) and a game of capture the flag?  Should I jump on a plane and go visit a friend?  Should I try a new food, go zip lining (so scared of that)… Should I get in the car and just drive somewhere?  I’m longing for the water, fresh air, sea salt and good, fresh, homemade ice cream.  I’m longing for overnight camp where we’d go to the general store and spend $2 on junk food that we’d eat late at night on each other’s beds.  I’m longing for carefree fun.

I’m longing to feel young and healthy and free again.  And in the end, what I’m really longing for are the days long before cancer, when I could believe that I was invincible.

 

Sheep and Shamrocks

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I can’t believe how quickly time is flying by now that the air has warmed and the sky is blue again. After what seemed like months of rain and cold and little spring, I’m not going to complain about 85 degree and sunny days here in Boston!  It’s such a beautiful time of year!

It’s amazing to me how slowly winter seemed to creep on… and on. Looking back on it I realize now that I didn’t feel well for 6 months; when you figure that’s half of a year it seems really startling.  I’m so grateful that feeling better though is correlating with the nicer weather.  There’s nothing that I’d love to do more than just play hooky all summer long and go to the beach and have FUN!

Alas, I did just return from a week of fun; an annual mother/daughter trip to Ireland. My Mom and I have been traveling together since I graduated from high school in 1995 and she took me to NYC for a weekend of theater and shopping.  Ever since then we’ve tried to do trips and though we’ve had to miss some years, this vacation we think was our 17th together!  We’ve done local things like the Berkshires and Maine, as well as Charleston, San Francisco, and Arizona.  We’ve also done some international things too like the Caribbean, Costa Rica, Belize, Peru and Iceland.  Since we hadn’t traveled for an entire week together in over 5 years (since before I got married) and with the winter being as difficult as it was on all of us with my health, we decided to go abroad again and hit up Ireland.

I had heard nice things about the country but didn’t know much about it except for sheep and shamrocks. Now that we’ve returned I can confidently say that it is a lovely country and I would nudge anybody with wanderlust to go explore there.  We stayed at an old schoolhouse converted into a small hotel, and we spent about a day and a half in Dublin—a perfect amount of time—(it’s not the prettiest city but they do have wonderful museums, pubs, and woolen shops).  We spent one whole day sightseeing; the Guinness Factory with drinks at the Gravity Bar with 360 degree views of the city; the Chester Beaty Library where we saw a Torah and other religious artifacts; the Writers Museum (cool for my Mom and I love who love literature); the General Post Office which had a beautiful exhibit (and a film almost as boring as Antietam) about the 1916 uprising, a huge part of Irish history; the Hugh Lane Gallery (too modern and sparse for my taste, but did enjoy seeing a reconstructed Francis Bacon studio and film/interview regarding the artist); and eating burgers in a pub with a beer garden called Murphy’s.

Driving out towards the countryside was beautiful, and we drove through Galway to a town called Cong where we stayed at a well-known castle called Ashford. Immaculate grounds, beautiful views of a lake, lunch outside, an early morning horseback ride (English saddle!  And my horse Willow was a “muncher” so I spent much of my time trying to get him to stay on the trail but he was a total sweetie pie) and petting the “dogs of the castle” which were Irish wolfhounds and loved to have their bellies rubbed—was spectacular.

We soon stopped at a little café on the side of the road expecting cuteness as you can only seem to do in Europe. Owned by a mother and daughter (how very appropriate for us!) we sampled a cheese board of local cheeses that melted in our mouths and fresh salad and tried elderflower for the first time.  We drove on to the Cliffs of Moher (the Cliffs of Insanity backdrop used for one of my very favorite movies, The Princess Bride) and took a boat ride underneath the cliffs to get the full scope of just how tall they really are!  705 feet at the highest point!  Lots of birds live underneath the cliffs because they have no predators down there so we got to see things like Puffins.  Afterwards we continued driving on until we got to out next stop, a hotel next to a national park that would be our “home base” for the next couple of days.  From there we did the Ring of Kerry and the Dingle Peninsula, oohed and ahhhed over Inch Beach with the cars being able to drive right up seemingly to the ocean and the sound of sheep baaing up on a hill.  We went to a farm and fed baby sheep and held a baby goat.  On our hotel property were lots of sheep, cattle (black Kerry cows, adorable) and deer.  We fell asleep to the lull of baaing sheep at night.

And my Mom and I?  Well, we travel so well together.  No stress!  We want to do the same things, we’re always on time, we’re flexible and can go with the flow, and we both like a combination of sightseeing and some R&R.  We laughed and talked and ate and drank and then laughed some more.  (We also inevitably end up giggling whenever we take selfies). I am the luckiest woman alive to feel that my Mom and I are the best of friends.  Somehow, my Mom has managed to be a mother and a friend all rolled into one since the day I was born, and I love and respect her for it immensely.  Along with my hubby, I could never live with cancer if it wasn’t for her taking such good care of me in so many different ways.

Oh, on to food and shopping, too important to miss if you’re traveling with us girls.

Murphy’s (different Murphy’s) ice cream only found in Ireland should really come to the States. No artificial flavors and the cookies and butterscotch flavors just melt in your mouth (they’re also known for their sea salt ice cream which we didn’t love, but what an interesting concept!).  Great sweaters and the Jameson Distillery was a fun way of trying out different whiskeys.  I ended up with a cocktail of whiskey and ginger-ale and fresh lime.  Between a Guinness and a Whiskey though I would go for the beer.

The people—the NICEST that I have ever encountered. In all of my travels I have had some great experiences with locals, but the Irish really take it to a whole other level.  We never heard a car honk the whole week (unless it was our driver or a taxi beeping at somebody else to say hi, sticking their hands out the window and grinning widely shouting to each other in cute Irish accents).  On those long, narrow and windy roads very often only one car could fit at a time and it was never an issue who would back up and let the other go (whereas in the States I can only imagine how many middle fingers would be given in a situation like that).   Oh, and last but way way not least, the chocolate over there is SO MUCH BETTER than anything that we have here!

Now that we have been home for about 5 days, it’s on to planning our next adventure.  SHL and I need some time away, just the two of us, to regroup and recharge.  It’s been a long winter, and cancer among other things have depleted me.  Thankfully, travel is a possibility in my world, and it feeds my soul.

 

 

Final Tally for Team Lozier Mini Golf Fundraiser of 2016

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I just wanted to let you all the final number of just how much we raised during our Second Annual Team Lozier Mini Golf Fundraiser!  Between the pay-to-play rate the day of, the opportunity drawing and the “Help Me” Package, the amazingly generous online donations and my parent’s matching us dollar for dollar, the total is…

Drum-roll please…

$13,732.00!!!!

We did it!  We raised more than last year and so within the last two years of this fundraiser we have contributed about $25,000 to the Melanoma Center at Dana-Farber!  My heart is bursting with love and pride at how amazingly special my family and friends are that they would make this happen.

Thank you just doesn’t seem like enough!

With hope, love, gratitude and mulligans for those tricky mini-golf holes,

Sam xoxo

Three Glorious Words + My New Favorite Gadget

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I have three words for you:  Almond.Butter.Fudge.  Oh, did I mention that they’re three glorious words?  When you try to eat healthy, you often times feel like you need to completely give up your sweet tooth.  But I am here to tell you that it’s just not true. Don’t believe it!  But instead of diving into that cookie dough batter with tons of flour, sugar, and butter, try these instead.  Just four (yes, four!) ingredients.  So easy to make (and if you don’t have cocao powder on hand, I highly recommend the trip to Whole Foods to get some. It gives you that chocolate pop of flavor without the sugar).

I have been following Deliciously Ella since she was mentioned in Self Magazine maybe a year ago?  Since then she has sprung up everywhere:  The cover of magazines, Instgram, Facebook, and now she has her very own cookbook!  I don’t remember how I found this recipe, but actually it’s Oprah recommended (i.e. once Oprah touches it, you are turned to gold).  And this is gold.  It’s “Gold Jerry, Gold!”

http://www.oprah.com/food/Almond-Butter-Fudge-Recipe.

Can I tell you all a secret, though?  I know that I’m supposed to be totally on the almond butter bandwagon, and I am, to a certain extent.  I love it in smoothies and sweet desserts and the like.  But my real love affair is with peanut butter.  So when the recipe called for 1/4 cup of almond butter + two tablespoons, the first time I made it I tried the batter and decided that it was almost too almondy-buttery for me, so I added in a little peanut butter.  Now if you could smell my kitchen right now, you’d know that I’m making another batch to freeze, only this time, I added 1/4 cup of almond butter and simply added the two tablespoons of peanut butter instead!

It really has the consistency of fudge, but without all of that extra nonsense.  Now this is still a dessert, so I wouldn’t recommend eating the whole batch at once (oops), but freeze it and cut it into bars and viola, a perfect sweet treat when you need one!

Now, on to the Fitbit info that I promised you. (http://www.fitbit.com/). You may be drooling over the Apple Watch (though I don’t quite get it: $500?!), but I had wanted a Fitbit for quite some time, so my birthday seemed like the perfect time to hint. Unfortunately it was on back order for weeks (other than the black color, which seemed a bit too masculine for me).  Fortunately it arrived in the plum color, fit well, and I love it!  I got the HR Charge (https://www.fitbit.com/charge) because I thought that making sure that my heart rate is OK while resting and exercising was important. So far, I love it.  It’s totally comfortable on my wrist (I wear it on my dominant hand) and I can sleep with it and not even remember that I’m wearing it.  It tracks my steps (making 10,000 steps a day is harder than it seems; so far the most that I’ve gotten is almost 8,000, and that even includes a day that I worked out!), calories burned, heart rate, how many flights of stairs I’ve climbed, etc.  It even vibrates a little bit if a call is coming into my cell phone!  So if I don’t have my phone on hand I can just look at the FitBit and the number of whoever is calling me will appear across my screen.

It also syncs to my iPhone so in the morning I can look up and see how I slept that night; how many hours, when I fell asleep, how many times a night I was awake or restless.  I haven’t been sleeping well lately so it’s been interesting to see how often I’m restless and at what times.  I think that for people with real sleep difficulties it could prove quite useful and give you more information to go on if you need to see your doctor before a sleep study.  What I like the most is that I’m more conscious of how many steps I take now, so if I see an opportunity to climb the stairs instead of take an elevator, I may be more inclined to do that instead (and you can sync up with friends to motivate each other!).

So there you have it kids:  Almond butter fudge and a Fit Bit.  Delicious indeed.  xo.

How a Feather Found Me

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“It is commonly thought in most cultures that feathers are symbols of higher thought, spiritual progression.  The line of thought here is that birds were considered divine creatures in primitive/ancient cultures because they are creatures of the sky (heaven) and therefore closer to G-d…Dreaming of feathers in our midst is typically symbolic of wanting to achieve a higher goal, or overcome a challenge.  It is also a reminder from our psyche that we are always connected to our higher source, and that our own divinity is undeniable.” — Symbolic Meanings by Avia.

Lots of my family and friends out there have been asking me lately what’s with the feathers.  I’ll get to that.  But many of you also ask where I find my health, wellness, and spiritual inspiration from.  A lot of it of course comes from you, our relationships, my own personal thoughts and beliefs on health and wellness, music, love (romantic, familial, friendships), as well as places that I adore and go to in my mind when I need an escape like the beach or the exquisite landscapes in Europe.

Some of it comes from books.  I had a gift certificate to B&N recently and was excited to do one of my favorite things; I went to the store with nothing else pressing to do and just browsed. I came upon a great book on juicing from Pressed Juicery (out in California, but they do sell their juices and products online as well: http://www.pressedjuicery.com/), which then led me to The Chalkboard Mag which the founders of Pressed Juicery started, and  I am now totally addicted to this website! (www.thechalkboardmag.com). There are tons of interesting articles on juicing, exercising, nutrition, holistic healing, style, the mind/body connection… you get the idea!

I’m also in love with beauty and comfort, always have been, but I think now even more so.  I’m not talking about the outside beauty of a person, but the inside beauty of those around me.  And I am always striving to make my environment more serene and calm; you know that I love soft clothes, bright jewelry, and unique home item stores that make you want to wrap yourself up in one of their pretty blankets, grab a meditation pillow, and just live there.  Recently while in NYC we went to ABC Carpet and Home (http://www.abchome.com) which is the epitome of beauty and comfort; it was truly fabulous. Kind of like Anthropologie (which used to be my favorite store until now) on steroids!

ABC Carpet and HomeBooksLook at what was at ABC Carpet and Home the day after my Mom and I attended the Crazy, Sexy, Miracle Event!

We ate at ABC Kitchen first (http://www.abchome.com/eat/abc-kitchen) and can I just say that if I lived in New York it would be dangerous?  For you foodies out there, this is a Jean-Georges restaurant and you ooh and ahh over everything from the food to the drinks to the chandeliers to the tableware.  I tried my first ever beet juice (which did take some getting used to), but the pizza with dates and formaggio and the veggie burger with a yogurt mint dressing was just out of this world!  Afterwards we spent hours perusing the store, and I got a lot of inspiration for the meditation nook that I want to create in my sun room at home, plus a beautiful gold feather necklace.

Why a feather, you may be wondering?  Well, I’m excited to share this story with you.

As I’ve been reading Gabby Bernstein’s book “May Cause Miracles,” I’ve also been listening to some of her podcasts and watching some of her videos online. One podcast in particular resonated with me:  She told a story about looking for a home to purchase in the city (NYC) with her husband.  They looked all over Manhattan and Brooklyn for months; everything either wasn’t quite right, or was too expensive, or would get swooped up quickly, before they could even put an offer in.  It started to affect her mood.  She became frustrated, and instead of feeling joyful and excited at the prospect of buying a new home with her hubby, she came to dread these real-estate outings.

One day, as she was meditating and asking for guidance, a thought came to her; to open herself up to think more creatively about this situation.  Though the pair had always wanted to buy a house outside of the city in a quiet landscape, they had planned on doing that “someday,” and not spending the bulk of their money on that kind of thing at this point in their lives, but on a more permanent home in the city.  She mentioned her intuition to her husband who said for fun that perhaps they should just look online at the kind of house that they had really planned on buying in the future.  Immediately they found something of interest, called their real estate agent, and went out to look at it.   Right beforehand  she called her friend and told her about the mountain house that they had found online, and how her intuition had guided her towards perhaps choosing something different than she and her husband had previously envisioned (I love the thought of meditating and getting quiet enough to hear creative solutions).  They talked about feeling guided by the universe when grappling with a tough decision and they talked about signs (stay with me here). Her friend mentioned that her own sign was the dragonfly, and she looked for it when she felt that she needed confirmation that her intuition was leading her down a positive path.

So Gabby and her husband went to see this beautiful mountain home and immediately when she walked in, she saw a dragonfly on the cover of a CD case.  But it wasn’t her own sign, which she had manifested or “co-created” with the universe into an owl.  Still, the home felt right.  While she was scared of making the “wrong” decision, they each felt so at home in this beautiful house.  She stepped outside still feeling a little bit unsure, but no sooner had she walked out that she saw a car drive by with a bumper sticker of an owl on it.

I didn’t know it at the time, but that story would stay with me. Though I didn’t intend to necessarily find my own sign, a few days later I was meditating.  While I was not thinking of this story or signs, all of a sudden a feather came to me in my thoughts.  In my mind the feather drifted down from an unforeseen place and stayed with me. It was beautiful and felt peaceful. “Huh,” I thought.  “I wonder what that’s all about.”  I was in the middle of a meditation and honestly didn’t give it too much thought.

Very soon after that when my Mom and I were at ABC Carpet waiting for my cousins to arrive so that we could begin our girl’s weekend together, we had leisurely walked throughout the store admiring their gems before eating brunch there.  Afterwards we went back to the store and just as my Mom was paying for a pair of earrings and we were on our way out, I turned around to face a cabinet that I had already walked by.  Only this time, a beautiful gold feather necklace sitting there gracefully in the cabinet caught my eye.  I gasped, without even quite knowing why, at first.  And then I remembered:  The feather in my thoughts.

I got a tingle and told my Mom and my cousins the story, and my Mom bought the feather necklace for me.  Later that night, while at dinner, my Mom who was sitting right beside me looked over at me and said quietly, “You have a feather sitting on your shoulder.”  Sure enough, there was a beautiful little gray and white feather perched on my sweater.

Now I know what a lot of you are saying, because if I had heard this story a year or two ago I would have said the exact same thing:  A sign?  Isn’t that just a way of you trying to talk yourself into something?  Or releasing any responsibility for listening to your own gut/intuition and making decisions?  And what if you don’t see a “sign?”  Does that mean that something is “wrong?”

I don’t think that Gabby would necessarily say that we’re crazy for questioning how this works.  She may say that if you ask for or look for a sign and don’t see it, that just means that you’re being guided in a different direction.  I think that those of us that look for spiritual guidance find comfort in knowing that the universe is listening, in some shape or form.  Now that I am on a more spiritual path I can’t say that I leave everything up to signs when I make my decisions, but I do find comfort in knowing that there are possibilities in the world outside of what I can even imagine.  That’s all that I really know now, but it’s enough.

I’m not going to pretend like I have it all figured out, because I’m still trying to wrap my head around it as well, but when I read the above quote about feathers and spiritual progression and overcoming challenges, I literally got goosebumps.  I’m not going to say that sure as anything I believe that if Gabby hadn’t seen that owl bumper sticker, that house wouldn’t have been the one for her and her husband.  But for the first time in my life I’m trying to get clear with G-d and the universe about what I want, and anything that brings peace and comfort is surely something to hold on to.

Sweet potato… Brownies?

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Dear Diary,
Still day 3. Nachos for dinner? Really? Are you sure that I’m not cheating? But nope, it was on the menu. The trick is that I used multigrain chips with flax seeds, and bulked it up with refried pinto beans. However, it calls for just 1/4 cup of cheese. Have you ever tried to use just a 1/4 of cheese, on anything? It’s like a little sprinkle of deliciousness, leaving you wanting more. But all in all, a pretty great dinner, especially with some Amy’s pineapple salsa… Now let’s just hope that I’m not hungry in 20 minutes. Maybe I could get used to this no meat thing, if it meant that I could eat nachos… But next time, I would add some veggies to it for sure.

I found a cool website last night mentioned in Self magazine called Deliciously Ella. I say “cool” because the owner of the website (and the app, and the cookbook) seems “chic” and trendy and takes beautiful photographs of what looks like amazingly delicious (and healthy) food. It’s basically all plant-based and was founded after she re-worked her whole diet when she got an illness, and now says that she feels so much better. She even sounds cool in her videos, because she’s got that great English accent (oh, and she looks like a model. Is it easier to get your own beautiful website, app and cookbook when you look like Gisele? That’s a question for another time). Check it out here: http://deliciouslyella.com/

However, what I’d really love to know, diary, is how can brownies really taste so good that you’d want to lick the bowl (as she says), when they are made with sweet potatoes? And dates? And buckwheat? (And there’s only 4 other ingredients in the whole thing– maple syrup or agave, cacao powder, ground almonds, and salt). I can just hear my chocolate-loving cousin gagging right now. Is it really just as creamy and delicious as real chocolate brownies? Or is she the kind of gal that finds immense joy in the sweetness of fruits and certain veggies? ‘Cause I’m not really that kind of person. I think that my next experiment may be to make these brownies, just to report back to you all and expose the fact that they were in fact gross, and should not be called brownies. Stay tuned.

Sincerely,
Your plant-based dessert private investigator

Stuck at the zoo (I mean the airport!)

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Happy New Year Readers! SHL and I just returned from a great 3 day trip to Florida. It was quick, but you can’t underestimate a change of scenery, especially when your landscape lately has regularly included icy cold temperatures and piles of snow! We got out just in the nick of time before this last storm, and stayed with Marla and her boyfriend Adrian for a few days of much-needed R&R down in Miami.

Unfortunately because of the storm, we got delayed coming home on Saturday night. I have to say, being stuck in an airport for 6 hours is a true test of patience, and I’m afraid that while I didn’t fail miserably, I didn’t succeed in curbing my crabiness as much as I would have liked either. As I looked around at what used to be the Fort Lauderdale airport, but what had clearly become a zoo with wild animals, it struck me just how self-centered people are, and it kind of sucked the energy out of me. What I wish is that when stressful events occur, people could rally together and be kind and patient with one another (myself included!), but it seems that very often that is not human nature (don’t get me wrong, I know that there are plenty of good deeds and kind people out there, but an airport full of stuck people after a huge storm is not typically where you see it). When SHL and I left Marla and Adrian’s our online flight status said that we would only be 20 minutes delayed, but by the time we got to the airport, we were delayed about 2.5 hours. We got in line to drop off our bag and figured we would at the very least have a leisurely dinner, but the line was barely moving, my back started to ache, and I witnessed people blatantly cutting each other in line, which is one thing that really ramps me up– injustice! One woman came into the airport with her family (Sean and I had already been standing in line for probably 30 + minutes at this point), and we watched as she took her kid’s hand, marched right up to the counter in front of people already waiting, and proceeded to somehow walk away minutes later with a boarding pass in her hand. Unbelievable! (We later saw her in line for food, so knew that her flight wasn’t leaving before anybody else’s. When the woman behind the counter went to take our order I muttered under my breath, “Oh, I’m sure this woman would love to order in front of us!”) Another woman who had been standing behind us chatting us up about hoping to get back to New York that evening somehow one minute was fine, and the next minute was sitting in a wheelchair in the front of the line ahead of everybody! I tried to conjure up Deepak Chopra in my mind, tried to chant a few “Om’s” and remember that I was with SHL, we would eventually get home, and all would be OK, but there was something about people behaving this way that really made my blood boil. I have been trying so hard to keep my stress levels down and to re-frame negative thoughts, and I found myself being incredibly challenged to do these things in this kind of a situation. It’s one thing to have your flight delayed for hours and hours and have to wait in line for an hour + just to check a bag, but it’s quite another to witness human beings act this way; it can be disheartening, and it takes a lot to remember that this was just a select few people who were probably panicked about being stuck in Florida for days, and their best just wasn’t coming out. I found that my best side wasn’t coming out either, especially when a new line formed to the right of us with people who were being served quicker than us, but waiting a shorter amount of time, and of course there weren’t enough Jet Blue agents to keep people in check or organize things properly. Fast forward another 2 hours and we were waiting for our crew to get in from another city and our estimated delay was now going to be about 5 hours, and my phone was dying. I looked everywhere for an open charging station, only to come to the realization that people were hoarding the chargers. Even if their phones or ipads or games were fully charged, they were sitting there all night plugged in, instead of letting somebody else charge their battery. Another X for humanity! I finally went to the closed-down food court and plugged in, only to be told that they were closed and I couldn’t even sit there and use their outlet. I hit rock bottom and went to the ladies room to charge and they were all being used! It was then that I had to let go that I would be able to use my phone, and instead I bought a fun magazine and tried to relish in not being able to connect to text or Words with Friends, but instead read about work/life balance and the best face creams. When we did finally land at 3:30am (4.5 hours from when we were originally supposed to get in), our bags didn’t come out for another 45 minutes, and I have to admit in my mind, I was already drafting an angry letter to Jet Blue with the words “what nerve” in mind! We finally dragged our tired butts into our house at 5am Sunday morning, and poor SHL had to go to work just a few hours later.

It’s difficult when you end your vacation on a note like that, after being so relaxed, but our trip was rejuvenating and most importantly just about having fun, if only for 3 days. We played tennis, sat by the pool, and soaked in the hot-tub. I started a new book. Adrian took SHL out on his boat, Marla and I got massages, and the 4 of us had an amazingly decadent dinner out on South Beach, kept toasty warm outside on the patio with heaters and encompassed by beautiful lush green trees, complete with creative presentations of food entitled “The Boarnie Madoff Bucket of Bones” (a bucket of succulent meat with dipping sauces with a side of a pig in a jail!) The Bernie Madoff and for dessert the Carnival Fun Cakes Carnival Fun Cakes So yummy and fun indeed!

So what I take from our time at the airport is that I guess even when you have cancer, you still sweat "the small stuff" sometimes. My patience was tested. My energy was sucked. It felt hard to let things roll off of my shoulders, like people cutting in line or having to wait for our bag after being delayed 5 hours. But more than ever I am aware of just how much I can really only control myself, and not others, and how important it is to try (even if you have a right to be frustrated) to re-frame negative thoughts and look for the gratitude (I was so happy that our flight wasn't cancelled!). But the truth? Since my blog insinuates that we can all handle it? Nobody likes being stuck at the airport. Period!

Cool, sweet, summer

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As the calendar date of summer approaches and our weather already feels like it is summer, I become more and more enthralled with all things cool, sweet, gooey, and refreshing.  I’ve become obsessed with googling water parks, frozen yogurt recipes, and cool straw hats to keep out the sand and sun that I dream I will need some shade from while on Cape Cod (I just have to get there).  I love this time of year, which comes as no surprise since most do.

Here are a few of the summer treats that I’m looking forward to.  Let me know what yours are and where I can get/find/eat/drink/see them!

So, living in the city and being surrounded by concrete and heat, all I can think about is the water.  I’m seriously considering playing hooky from work one day and finding a nearby water park (again, may need to borrow somebody’s kid to pull this off!).  Every summer at overnight camp we would take a field trip to Canobie Lake Park in N.H., and I’m seriously considering their log flume as a great distraction from the heat… www.canobielakepark.com

Ice cream.  Those two words should say it all, but here’s two more for you:  Max Brenner’s.  Finally they have opened in Boston!  So as tempting as those S’Mores and tutti frutti waffles are, this time I may have to opt for their “Eskimo” — a selection of 2 scoops of ice cream (dark, milk chocolate, dulce de leche or vanilla) in a “crispy sugared waffle cone served with warm chocolate sauce crunchy wafer balls and candied hazelnut crunchy bits.”  Uh, yeah!  www.maxbrenner.com

I used to love popsicles when I was a little kid, but somehow that passion for things on a stick disappeared right around the time I realized I was too old to run through the sprinklers.  Well I’m resurrecting my childhood this summer starting with the popsicle!  Have you heard of the Zoku Quick Pop?  It looks really cool (excuse the pun) and quick (and super yummy)… However, it’s $49.95!  To make pospicles!  Instead I’m opting for a grown-up version of the popsicle, courtesy of Emerile Lagasse and called the Margarita Popsicle. The price?  Whatever ingredients like tequila, fresh lemon juice, sugar, and dixie cups cost.  The taste?  Probably amazing!  I’ll post a pic when I make them and let you know.  Or if you make it first, let us know.  www.foodtv.com

When I think of summer, I think of mini-golf.  It’s something that SHL and I have always loved to do together, and one of our favorite places (and one that we’ll drive to just for the day) is Pirate’s Cove on Cape Cod.  It has your usual cascading waterfalls and pirate ships and is pretty awesome.  Check it out here: www.piratescove.net

And that hat I was talking about?  Don’t think I can pull of the “frayed Panama” but perhaps JCrew’s summer sun hat (for $45.00) will be just the thing… www.jcrew.com

You know you want to update your ipod with all of the walking along the beach you’ll be doing this summer, right?  My new favs are Adele and Mumford & Sons.  www.itunes.com

My new favorite place for manis and pedis is definitely MiniLuxe.  Sure, it’s a little bit more of a splurge than the average nail place that seems to crop up on every single street corner in the city, but it’s worth it.  The last time I went to one of those “average on every street corner places” for a manicure it bubbled and peeled in 2 days.  At MiniLuxe I feel like I’m at a spa; it’s roomy, bright looking, and the highlight– It’s clean.  Plus guys are more than welcome to get their KleanSpa Pedicure on with a whipped scrub and hydrating lotion  (and let’s face it, most guys could use that and more!).  I’m personally opting for the new Essie color Braziliant, a really fun and bright orange that will look great with a tan, once I actually get one! www.miniluxe.com

Speaking of feeling good, I love beauty minis from Sephora!  And as I head off to Cali this summer for a girl’s trip, I’m pretty sure I’m going to need to stock up on some travel-sized goodies.  The Ms. & Mrs. Miniemergency kit may be just what the TSA ordered; small enough to fit into the palm of your hand, this gold (or silver or purple) pouch is filled with things like tiny packets of Advil, band aids, Blistex lip ointment, dental floss, clear nail polish, breath fresheners, and hair elastics. Sign me up!  www.sephora.com

And last but not least, summer begs for time to be spent with family and friends.  During the winter I just want to hibernate and become one with my couch, so I find that I don’t see people as much as I would like.  But now that the sun is out and the sweaters are off, everybody seems to be much more in the mood for get-togethers. Summer has a certain charm about it.  The city comes alive, the flowers are in bloom, people dine outside and laugh a lot more than they do in wintertime!  (At least here in Boston). Whether it’s family bbqs or rooftop deck reunions with friends, it’s time to rejuvenate.  Things slow down in the summer for most of us, and we can more easily take long weekends than we can the rest of the year.  I know for me I can’t wait to visit my bestie down in Austin and spend some time with her two little ones at the pool, play at the beach with old camp friends on Cape Cod, relax at a spa with my Mom, and just generally enjoy getting some qt with those that I love.  Priceless.

Summer To-Do

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I recently came across another blog on the front page of wordpress (how do you get to be on the front page, anyway?) and was enamored by posts about pregnancy, friendships, DIY projects and summer to-do lists.  It got me thinking that my blog doesn’t always have to be so serious.  So far I’ve tackled moving anxiety, cancer, and envy, so now I think it’s time to talk about something a bit more lighthearted:  Summer!

Ahhh, summer.  How long you have evaded us, my friend.  And now that you have finally shown your face (albeit you showed up a little early this year!) and I am done licking my wounds for not completing bucket list # 48 go see a taping of Oprah,  I for one am going to set some goals for my last (possible) summer in the city.

Drumroll please…

Samantha’s Summer Bucket List:

1) I can’t wait for Summer in the City by the Boston Harbor!  Every year I say I’m going to take advantage of the outdoor movies and live music that is set on a floating stage anchored behind the hotel at the Rowes Wharf and I never do.  Well this year count me in Field of Dreams and The James Montgomery Band (even if I don’t know who you are!).

2) Boston Wine Festival.  ‘Nuff said.

3)  Picnic at Walden Pond.  Now I know that this isn’t exactly in the heart of the city (for you out-of-state peeps it’s about 20 miles away), but it’s still something that I’ve always wanted to do and would be a perfect outing with SHL or with friends (or both!).

4) Thought fish bowls were a thing of the past?  How I miss those days at Brother Jimmy’s in NYC!  Well now I can sip al fresco at The Landing at Long Wharf; a perfect summer evening for sure.

5) Finally make that home-made ice cream.  SHL and I got an awesome ice cream/frozen yogurt/sorbet maker for our wedding, but then winter clobbered us and I was perpetually too cold to eat ice cream.  Now that it’s blazing hot out, though, I can certainly easily conjure up images of mint-chocolate chip ice cream…

6) Run through the sprinklers.  Yes, you read that right.  It was one of my most favorite things to do as a kid, and now that I’m past the age of 30 (OK, past the age of 8) it’s kind of frowned upon, isn’t it?  So maybe one of you will let me borrow your kid(s) for a day?

7) Channel my inner secret-agent and play a virtual reality game powered by Urban Interactive’s city adventures.  This is kind of like a scavenger hunt meets an online video game.  Doesn’t that just remind you of some terrible hazing activity you had to do in college while running around the city in 108 degree heat?  Yeah, me too.  I can’t wait.

8) How did I not know about this before?  Now that I do I’m eager to check out the Farmer’s Market, crafts tables, and food trucks at the SoWa Open Market in the South End.

9) Attend a BBQ Beach Party hosted by the Phantom Gourmet!

10) Go to a Sox game.  Yes, I have done this many, many times before.  But it never, ever gets old.

What’s on your summer ’11 bucket list?