New Year, New Me!?

Wow! It has been a while. I have been busy with so much. So much. New doctors, new career goals, new energy, new meds, new strength and direction! It has taken a remarkable amount of time( I really had no clue) to feel better, really feel better! I am still dealing with my cancer but I am feeling better all the time. I was in remission for a little while. And wouldn’t you know it, when I really started to feel good my tumor markers started to go up. I don’t know if tumor markers are all they are cracked up to be but the doctors monitored them closely. I am grateful for all that. I found a new facility that offers a more wholistic approach and the doctors there are wonderful. But the best thing is… I only have to go once a month! You wouldn’t believe what a difference that has made for me. I drive 6 hours, all my tests and treatments are done in one place so after a day or two there I drive back home and basically don’t think about cancer, or disease, or doctors, or tests, for another month! It is very liberating! I get to be a normal person for a little while! While I am there I see a nutritionist, a naturopath, a mind body counselor, a chiropractor, as well as my oncologist and, the best part is,  they all work together! And on my behalf! I feel confident in the things they are doing for me so that frees me up to think about other things, most importantly, my life!

That’s me in the black!

I am living my life and following my passions. I was hired to cook and be a chef liaison for four days at New Years, working for a celebrity and all that that entails. I was able to push my fatigue aside and get it done and I had a great time! Thats not to say I wasn’t tired and sore for a few days following. But I was still happy to be able to do it at all! I am learning to trust my body again, its not quiet what it used to be, but its getting there!

I have started my riding school back up and I am teaching children how to ride and take care of horses. I have two new ponies in the barn, thanks to some wonderful friends. The barn work keeps me pretty busy but I love it. I have started riding my mountain bike again, not very far, but still! I am starting to feel like me again! Doing all these things gives me purpose and my confidence is coming back. I may have cancer, but I am not cancer!

Star Seed Salad

Dream On!

Finally the weather is beautiful! The air is crisp and clean, fall has finally arrived. It is so rejuvenating! I feel alive! I am so grateful! Breathing in the clean fresh air makes me want to run in a million different directions! I want to do this, I want to do that. I have so much lost time to make up for! There are not nearly enough hours in the day! Sometimes I get so frustrated with my body and feel like I am not making enough progress physically as I would like. I want to keep pushing and get back to normal again. Somedays my body just says NO! Slow down, take it easy. I have to keep reminding myself that last year at this time I was literally dying. I couldn’t even roll over in bed! I have been working out everyday to get back in shape. I have been going 3 times a week to physical therapy for my shoulder. Slowly, very slowly, there is progress. I have to keep reminding myself that these things take time. Next week I am finally getting in to see a neurologist about my thigh, I hope they can do something! The nerve pain in my thigh is annoying and hard to deal with.

Last week we got to enjoy a wonderful Halloween Party. We dressed as Day of the Dead characters. It was so much fun! I did Jerry and Scotts makeup as well as my own. Probably took around three hours to get everyone dressed and ready to go. I also made appetizers, mummy meat loafs and jackolantern bites. I couldn’t have done all this last year! And then actually enjoy the party! Then on Sunday we took my jeep to Jeeptoberfest, a fun jeep event where you get to drive over all these cool obstacles and just jeep out! I haven’t driven my jeep for a year so this was very exciting!

The next chapter. As I was telling you in my last post, I have a new business that I am creating. I am designing a sacred space for people to come to unwind, heal, and relax in the beauty of nature. I am so excited to get this going! This is a healing journey for me as well.

Mothering, Smothering, Idk?

Well here it comes again, mothers day. A wonderful time to really think about and appreciate all the things that mothers do. Sometimes you don’t realize all the ways your mother has influenced your life. Sometimes you wish your mother was here for advice, for comfort, for those little things that mean so much, that only mothers can do. Sometimes your not that close with your mother or don’t even know who she is. I have heard that before we are born we choose our parents. I don’t know if that is true but I was very close with my mother. My mom was larger than life! She was a free spirit and chose to do things her own way. Cooky at times but I loved her! I am certain I got some of my wild craziness from her! My love of animals and nature, my love of cooking and baking, my love of adventure too. I am grateful to my mom for all these things. I do miss her.

Sometimes I wonder if I was a good mom, I tried. Children don’t come with instruction manuals, so we all just do the best we can. Actually that is all we can do. I thought I did a pretty good job. Sometimes, even in the hardest of times, they turn out wonderful and sometimes, despite our best efforts, they travel a rocky road. My daughter is all grown up and following her own path.

I may be outta my mind! But I am going to be a mommy again…a puppy mommy! I can pick her up in two weeks, she is so cute! I am so excited! WAIT! Before you judge me. Let me just say that every pet I have ever had has been a rescue, and I have loved them all. And when I worked at the Bleu Biscuit we worked with the Humane Society and I found forever homes for 100’s of dogs and cats! In fact the dog I have now, McKenzie, was from there and I love her so much I wanted to find one just like her! She happens to be a Wire Haired Pointing Griffon, hard to find. I even looked up rescues and couldn’t find one.  The only breeders I found were way up north like in Idaho or Kansas. So after a year of looking and waiting for a rescue, a breeder from Georgia contacted me with a new litter of pups! So I had to do it, right!? I must be cray cray! I am heading to Georgia in a couple of weeks to bring home my new baby. Wish me luck!

Easter Enjoyment

I am definitely getting better. Some days I feel like I’m back to my old self. Some days, when I do too much, I get all achy and crappy feeling again but generally I am making progress. We had a wonderful Easter. I cooked Friday and Saturday. I made Greek Easter bread and potato salad, and baked beans, and ambrosia, and we had a Honey Baked ham, deviled eggs, green bean casserole, and spiced apples. Not to mention a little spring cleaning and shopping. Too much food for sure. I am grateful to be able to have so much, we will be eating leftovers for days! Every year we say we will cut down on the menu but everyone seems to have their favorites so we can never narrow it down. The guys pitched in to help and I was thoroughly enjoying myself. I couldn’t have done this a few weeks ago! I was on my feet a lot. My thighs still get tingly and burn if I stand up too long and I did. So the next day I knew I would have to take it easy. But thats alright I’m just happy to be able to be cooking again.

Good friends and good conversation. At this time in my life one of the things I find myself enjoying the most is getting together with good friends and sharing a meal. It brings me such joy to be able to connect with others and share a laugh or two. When I was not feeling well I couldn’t participate in the kitchen (or anything else for that matter) as much as I would have liked but Easter (a time of renewal and new beginnings) gave me the opportunity to get back in the kitchen and start kicking butt! Feeding people great food is very rewarding. Eating is such a basic human need. I guess this is why almost every celebration is based around food.

I have really come to realize how important the people in my life are to me. I have so much fun with them. I absolutely love adventurous eaters, nothing crazy but people that are willing to try new things. I have so much fun introducing someone to a new delicious food. It’s crazy to me that some people are so set in their ways, they never want to try anything new, thats no fun! I am learning, more and more, that it really is the people that come into your life that make it interesting. Even if just for a brief encounter you may be enlightened or inspired by new thoughts and perceptions. In this crazy, rushed world we live in take the time, put down your phone and interact with someone. You just might be amazed!  Even just a genuine,” Hello, how are you?” can make all the difference in the world to someone. Thank goodness that through all my chemotherapy and treatments my tastes are still the same, yea! I am ready for new foods, new friends, and new adventures! To be able to actually participate in life again is such a blessing!

Happy Fourth

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I definitely appreciate my independence, Fourth of July celebrations not so much. Don’t get me wrong, the fireworks are beautiful and cookouts are fun. But every year they seem to have to push the fireworks envelope further and further, more, bigger, better!  Are we never happy? What if the fireworks display was just as good as last year? The crowds are crazy and we live in a relatively small town. You have to park a mile away from any venue if you can even find a spot to park. Not to mention, this time of year in Florida is pretty brutal, July in Florida is usually 95 degrees and 100% humidity. If it’s not storming, with nature putting on her own light show then it’s so humid the smoke from the fireworks lays heavy on the ground. Most of the time there are enough people in the neighborhood setting off fireworks that we can sit in our backyard and see plenty. And then there’s the fact that we live on a farm. With animals. And animals, for the most part, HATE fireworks! The horses will be spooked and nervous and my dog MacKenzie will be shaking under my bed all night. Not a whole lot of fun. We will make it through and I’m sure everything will work out fine!

One of my favorite Fourth of July memories was when my daughter was about six years old and we went to a little town not too far from where we live. We went with her best friend Candace and her father. We sat on blankets in the grass and watched fireflies, there were just enough fireworks and lemonade. It all seemed so magical! Oh for simpler times!

I hope you have a wonderful fourth, enjoy doing whatever makes you happy!

Moms Day

I always seem to approach Mothers Day with mixed emotions. It’s hard when your Mom is not with you any longer. But then I remember, my Mom is who influenced me the most and she is the reason I am the person that I am today. Wether you want to admit it or not the person that raised you formed most of your early ideals. My Mom and I were very close, oh yes she was crazy, funny, annoying, all those things a mother can be! Of course we had our ups and downs, we all do. I always thought of myself as an independent soul, setting out on new paths and unchartered territories, I thought I was so different and innovative.  But as I get older I am finding out to my great surprise that I am from a long line of very interesting women, my tribe! Unfortunetly there is no one left on my Moms side of the family. I wish I had understood these things earlier, but I guess everything has its own time to reveal itself.

I have recently found out that my Great Grandma, Viola Sherlock, was an amazing women. This was my Moms fathers mother. Now I knew her, but I was very young and she was very old. She and her three sisters were in show business, they used to dance and perform in The Follies. I have found amazing pictures of them in their costumes and one of the sisters had a beautiful white horse that also performed. I found out one of the sisters was an artist and have some of her amazing sketches. Check out the artwork on the menus. Viola was one of the first women to have played tennis at Wimbledon. They used to talk about this little place they had called The Pepper Pot, in Greenwich Village. Well I have come to find out this was quite the place, Viola and her husband Doc owned and ran it. Apparently it was one of the only places at the time, 1929, that got away, most of the time, with selling alcohol during the prohibition. This was a crazy place, it was a jazz dance hall, a party house. Attracting lots of celebrities and sport stars apparently a place to see and be seen! A true center of the bohemian lifestyle of the village back in the day. I have found numerous articles of them being hauled off to jail! For disturbing the peace and what not! The menu was amazing and pretty pricey for the day.

This all is so amazing to me because I am a bit of all of these things, a chef, an artist, a horse trainer! A free spirit! My tribe, my blood! WOW\MOM

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New!

The beginning of a new year. Here to offer us the opportunity to start over, it offers us the chance to reevaluate our lives, to improve and be better than we were last year. So much work! Eat right, workout everyday, no more sugar, be productive, be kind, finish that project! Seems like a lot of pressure! No wonder we all give up by February! I decided a few years back not to make those New Years resolutions, it just seems to set me up for failure! So what if we just made a little shift, a slight wobble in our lives? Something so little we hardly even notice. How about just being mindful of what we are doing, what we are eating, smiling more? What if we noticed how wonderful we feel when we take a little stroll out in nature? What if we tried, just tried, to appreciate what we already have a little more? The next thing you know you are eating better, moving more, generally happier. I find that when you are happier you treat others better! You see sometimes, well I think most of the time, it is the small things that matter the most. So “CHEERS”to the New Year! And I hope you find all the LITTLE things that warm your soul and make you happy.image

Is it just me or…

Ok I certainly don’t want to rain on anybodies parade and I’m sure this has probably been someone’s best Christmas ever but for me I’m not so sure.

Now mind you my daughter is all grown up, I don’t have any children in my life right now. Christmas with children is always magical. I know Christmas is a wonderful celebration, a special time of year. But for some reason this year seemed flat. I’m not sure why? Maybe it’s the advertising and commercialism of the whole thing that seemed to start way back in October. By the time Christmas finally got here maybe we were sick of it. Maybe I got hit with the grinch stick, I don’t know? I tried to get into it, I tried to look forward to it. I usually enjoy the season, cozying up and drinking hot chocolate, sitting outside on a brisk night by the fire. But this year in Florida it has been 85 degrees, wearing tank tops and flip flops doesn’t put me in the caroling mood.

We did have family and friends come to visit and plenty of delicious lovingly prepared food. But for some reason I couldn’t help feel that it was all a lot of extra work. Maybe my mind was elsewhere, on things I had to put on hold for the holiday. Maybe it was the fact that we tried to not buy into all the hype. We are all grown ups and pretty much get the things we want and need. Every year  we rack our brains and fight the crowds to try to get everyone something thoughtful and unique. We run around spending money we don’t have on things we don’t need! Enough! We wanted to get back to the spirit of the holiday to enjoy each other’s company and share a nice meal.  It was nice not having the extra pressure of the perfect gift, but not everyone was on board. That made for some uncomfortable moments! Not to mention my 88 year old father trying to start up inappropriate conversations, that’s one way to quiet down a room, total silence! Lol But I guess that’s part of the getting together with family thing! As for not spending a bunch of money you don’t have at the holidays, that nice meal along with all the extras of feeding family and friends for days cost at least $500!  Not to mention days of shopping, cleaning, and preparation! I did pare it back as much as I could. Don’t get me wrong I did enjoy the cooking and baking we had a lot of laughs, the time in the kitchen was fun. We made some amazing breakfasts, and shared some delicious new foods with everyone, persimmons grown from my tree, a wonderful new bacon we found, eggs from our free range chickens, and turning people on to a fruitcake they could love! Scott made an entire turkey with all the fixins one day, Jerry and I made sauce and meatballs and lasagna, our traditional Christmas dinner. I also baked my famous fruitcakes and some blondies.

All things considered, I guess it was good. Even though we tried to cut back and make the holiday less stressful there always seems to be that rush, a flurry of craziness at the holidays. Maybe that’s what it’s all about? Maybe I will get it right next year. 🙂

Tie dye

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Celebrations…celebrations are rituals we perform. They are important.  I think holidays are a  way of stopping and marking time, to remember, to reconnect, to reach out. I once worked for someone that didn’t want to observe holidays, it was strange to me. In the United States we are such a melting pot which is great on one hand because you can adopt all kinds of traditions from varying cultures. But on the other hand, our traditions are watered down with so many other influences, it’s hard to remember it’s not just another sales event. I like a reason to stop and do things maybe a little out of the ordinary. Almost all celebrations are centered around food, and one thing is for sure, that gives me reason to go over the top with cooking and baking!

This past weekend was no different. Jerry and Scott are back and so began a wild frenzy of shopping and prepping, cleaning and cooking. After a delicious breakfast of fresh picked blueberries and peaches, blueberry pancakes, eggs and sausages.  We started cooking at 9am we smoked ribs three ways, smoked a pork butt too. We grilled corn and made cole slaw and baked beans and fruit salad and banana cream pie.

It was a crazy strange group of friends and family, with all the regular drama and issues people bring together, I imagine it would look like a tie dyed shirt from afar. Energy and excitement, pain and despair, sickness and health, love and hate, old and new. The human condition, in a microcosm of a group all brought together to hopefully enjoy lovingly prepared food in our humble backyard! A reason to celebrate.

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Just Peachy

New kitchen!

New kitchen!

Right now in Florida it is blueberry and peach season, my favorites! I have some blueberry bushes that are loaded with fruit, they are just taking their sweet time ripening. I also have two peach trees and a nectarine tree that are starting to ripen, they are delicious! I am pretty sure we will eat them all straight off the tree! Luckily we have some “you pick” places right near us. Tomorrow morning I think MacKenzie, my dog, and I will go peach picking. I would love to make some peach and blueberry jam and some cobblers and pies. I love the golden sweet juiceyness of the peaches and the deep blue little berries, they are beautiful together.

Right now the farm is amazing, everything is in bloom or has fruit. It is a bit of work, but it is very rewarding to grow your own food, it just tastes so much better!  Very different from the pale tasteless stuff you buy at the grocery stores. We just did a mini kitchen make over, that is absolutly amazing!  Our kitchen has always been small and never had enough storage or lighting. We all cook, and it was a pain in the neck trying to find stuff. We were actually storing pots and pans in the bathtub and the oven. So when you wanted to cook, to preheat the oven you had to take all the pots out and stack them on the table, then you had no room to prep, ugh! So…We got a large standing cabinet with shelves and doors and we put in a large island with 3 cabinets and drawers underneath. We bought these awesome industrial lights and put two over the island and one over the sink. It feels like a new house!  The kitchen has always been the heart of our house, when people come to visit everyone sits around the kitchen table talking, laughing, cooking, and eating.  Now we have a wonderful, comfortable, and inviting place to play and work in. Right now I have a little time on my hands since Jerry is in California and Scott is in New York, sounds like a good time to organize! Before I leave for LA in a few weeks. Everything is just peachy!!!