Category Archives: Mommy

45 years ago today…

45 years ago today, my mom and dad were married in Long Beach, California. My mom was young, just 17 when they married, and my dad was 34. My dad had an Italian restaurant at the time and this was how my mom learned to be the most amazing cook ever. It would be 5 years before I was born, the first of 4 kids. The life they had, and the family they made, is the epitome of marriage. My mom took care of my dad, and my mom was my dad’s whole world. She took care of him and he never failed to support his wife and children, all while sitting in a wheelchair. They loved each other deeply. It may not have always been easy, and there were certainly struggles along the way, but they stuck together through it all.

They were married 43 years when my dad passed away. They lived a lifetime together in those 43 years – 4 kids, 3 grandchildren, many moves, many businesses, and a whole lot of love. I know that Daddy is celebrating up in heaven today and looking down on my mom. And my mom is thinking very much about Daddy today and all the fun times they had over the years. Thank you Mommy and Daddy, for loving each other and taking care of each other. We have very big shoes to fill…







Sunday in the kitchen ~ Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother’s Day! I hope you are all having a wonderful Sunday. This morning started with a delicious breakfast at Paradise Restaurant in Safety Harbor with hubby and I, my mom, hubby’s mom, my brother, SIL, and niece, and my sister. It was a very nice morning.

My family! My sister, Mommy, me and hubby, niece, sister-in-law, and brother.

Hubby, hubby’s mom, and me!

Me and my most adorable niece.

Yesterday, I submitted a new blog post to The Indie Chicks about my mom, just in time for Mother’s Day. I hope you’ll pop on over and read it. It was very special for me to write and share with everyone. My mom is the strongest woman I know and I look up to her in so many ways.

Today, I’d like to share a recipe I actually made for dinner last night. It is a favorite of mine, super easy to make, and makes great leftovers. You can really add just about anything you want to this dish, there are so many ways to do it. Here is my version:

Brown Rice with Beef and Tomatoes  (makes 2 servings)

  • 1 bag Steamfresh Brown Rice
  • 1/2 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/4 White onion, diced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (garlic and onion)
  • Olive oil
  • Butter

Sautee onions in olive oil and add ground beef, cook till browned and drain. Heat up can of tomatoes while brown rice is cooking in microwave. Put rice in casserole dish and add butter, ground beef and onions, and tomatoes (minus the juice). Stir and serve! This makes 2 servings. Perfect to make when you are short on time.

Enjoy!! If you try this recipe, I’d love to hear what other ingredients you add.

Have a great Sunday!

Sunday Stuff {and an upcoming giveaway!}

The last few weekends, I’ve posted on Sundays about delicious recipes I was trying or that I enjoyed. This Sunday, I am actually not doing any cooking. I still have yet to grocery shop and I’m contemplating not even doing it today. I chose to go for a walk this morning instead, and hubby joined me which rarely happens and is a real treat when it does. Later, we are going out to dinner for my mom’s birthday, so I won’t be cooking dinner. Since I’m not cooking anything today, I decided I would share the recipe for Whoopie Pies that I tried last Sunday.

First things first, here are a few pictures from last night. My mom and I went to The Beach Boys concert at The Straz Center in Tampa. It was a fun concert, great music, and my mom had a great time as part of her birthday weekend.

This morning, we started the day with a walk over the Memorial Causeway to Clearwater Beach. I don’t think I will every tire of the views here in Florida. Between the beautiful sunrises and sunsets, the water, and more, we are so lucky to live here. It’s easy to take it for granted, but how could the scenery for a walk get any better thank this? I even took a panoramic photo with a nifty app on my iPhone.



{upcoming giveaway!}

I am VERY close to hitting 100 followers on Twitter and expect it to happen this week. When it does, I will be hosting a giveaway here for Love Grown Foods Oat Clusters & Love. I’ve had the privelege to try them out thanks to a giveaway I won on a great blog I follow. I was then contacted by Love Grown Foods and they sent me a box of goodies to share. So I now have the chance to have a giveaway of my own and spread the LOVE. Be sure to watch for the upcoming post on that!

And finally, here is the Whoopie Pie recipe, which is taken from the Best Darn Food Ever! WW cookbook. If you happen to have it, it’s on page 221.

Whoopie Pies – 5 Points Plus value – Makes 18*

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1/2 cup low-fat (1%) milk
  • 3/4 cup marshmallow creme

1. Place oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat overn to 425F

2. Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in small bowl

3. With electric mixer on medium speed, beat suagr, butter, oil, and egg white in medium bowl until light and fluffy. Reduce mixer speed to low. Beat in flour mixture just until blended then stir in milk just until blended. Drop batter by spoonfuls onto large ungreased baking sheets, making total of 36 cookies.

4. Bake until tops of cookies spring back when lightly pressed, 5-7 minutes. Let cool completely on baking sheets on wire racks.

5. Spoon 2 teaspoons marshmallow creme on bottoms of 18 cookies. Cover with remaining cookies.

Here’s a reminder of how fabuslous they came out….



Sunday in the kitchen: 04/29/12

The last few Sundays, I have enjoyed trying new recipes. I go grocery shopping early and then I have the day to make whatever delicious looking recipes I’ve saved. Today was no exception. I was in a real fruit and vegetable mood, plus I wanted to make something new and different for dessert. I remembered the recipe I had for Whoopie Pies in the WW recipe book I bought a few months ago. Off to the store I went. I spent alot of time in the produce section, and I bought enough to last the week. I bought asparagus, red cabbage, mushrooms, tomatoes, red pepper, sweet potato, and onion. Good assortment that can be used in so many dishes or salads. I also bought a couple mangos and watermelon. As I always do when I get home from the store, I cut up the fruit. The easier it is for me to pull out of the fridge and eat, the more likely I am to eat it. The watermelon and mango looked soooo good! The mango was really ripe, which is how I like it. It has kind of a meaty texture to it and it was perfect.

Super sweet watermelon - great on a warm day.

Really ripe mango

After preparing the fruit, I decided to try the Whoopie Pie recipe. I just happened to have all the ingredients I needed since they are pretty basic. This recipe can be found in the Best Darn Food Ever recipe book that I purchased at my WW meeting. If you’d like me to email the receipe to you, let me know and I’ll be happy to do so. The batter for the cookie part of it was AMAZING. In my world, you have to eat some of the batter when you’re baking. I don’t care if it’s wrong.  Hubby really liked them, too, which means I will for sure make them again. A couple things about these…. the cookie part of it came out too big. I would have liked for them to be smaller, like the picture in the recipe. Also, I prepared them with the marshmallow fluff and put them in a cake tray with a lid, lined with wax paper, so they are all ready to eat. The marshmallow expanded and they are now a little on the messy side. I told hubby that next time we will add the marshmallow fluff when we are ready to eat them. I will, of course, only show you the amazing pictures of when they were first made. Not bad for my first time, huh? They really taste as yummy as they look and they are super easy to make.  

For dinner, I knew I was going to make something with the colorful veggies I bought today. I decided to make sauteed chicken and vegetables. I cut strips of boneless skinless chicken breast and sauteed it in some olive oil with salt and pepper. When that was done, I set it aside and added a little more olive oil to the pan. I cut up zucchini, mushrooms, white onion, and red pepper. When it was cooked just to the right tenderness, I added a little butter and minced garlic. Okay, ALOT of garlic. I also cooked some red cabbage in olive oil and vinegar for a side. My goodness, it all smelled so good. I made enough to have left-overs for lunch tomorrow. This meal was perfect enough, no other side orders were needed. Is it obvious from the pictures how much I love garlic?  

I find it really amusing that I enjoy cooking and trying new recipes so much. I used to be really afraid of cooking. And seriously, how do I possibly measure up to my mom’s cooking? She is the best cook ever! Maybe a little bit of that rubbed off on me. I am pretty proud of myself. 🙂

Thoughts on Thursday: Cancer

I’ve waited to post about this because I wanted good news to post. It has been a long 5 weeks,  but finally, we have some good news and some closure.

At the end of February, my mom found out she had endometrial cancer. After having a biopsy and waiting 2 long weeks for the results, they told her she had a grade one tumor. There are three grades, grade one being the least bad of all. This was the hope we were hanging on to. One symptom sent her to the doctor for a check-up. Had she ignored that one symptom, she would have never known she had a tumor almost 4 inches in size. A normal annual check-up would not have found this type of cancer. To me, this is TERRIFYING.

A week after her diagnosis, she met with an oncologist who scheduled surgery for her just two weeks later. This was all moving very fast. My Aunt Darlene in California (one of many fabulous relatives!!) offered to come out to be here the week of her surgery and we could not have been more happy for the extra support. Throughout all of this, we had so many people supporting my mom from all over, it was very heart-warming, and if more family had been able to come, we know they would have.

Two weeks ago yesterday, my mom went in for surgery. Her first surgery ever in her 61 years. They were able to do it laparoscopically, with 5 small incisions. The plan was to remove lymph nodes only if they felt it necessary at that time. She did extremely well during the surgery. The surgeon explained that they also removed some lymph nodes to have them tested and it would be two weeks to find out if it had spread or not.

She has spent the last two weeks recovering amazingly well. She did not overdo anything, she napped when she needed to, took her pain pills sparingly and only if absolutely needed, and she endured the once-a-day shots from both my aunt and I in her belly to prevent blood clots.

By the end of the last week, just over a week post-surgery, she was back to walking in the afternoons, 1 to 2 miles. Everyone has been so impressed with how fast she has recovered.

Finally, yesterday was her post-op appointment with the surgeon, to find out if the cancer had spread or not. Of all days to wait for this news, it was also my dad’s birthday. We visited the cemetery at Bay Pines VA in the morning, worked for a few hours, and then finally it was time for her appointment. I, of course, was right by her side because there is no other place in the world I could have been at that moment.

The doctor, a very direct man, walked in the room with a smile on his face and said “I have some good news for you. Your lymph nodes came back clear and you do NOT need any further treatment.”  Both my mom and I breathed a huge sigh of relief. Her cancer was stage 1, with a tumor approximately 4 inches in size. The doctor, like everyone else, was extremely impressed by her recovery. She will go back in 4 weeks for another follow-up.

Cancer affects everyone. My dad had bladder cancer, my grandmother had breast cancer, my aunt had breast cancer, and now my mom has had endometrial cancer. It’s very easy to sit here and tell everyone to be proactive and do not ignore any little symptom that you feel isn’t right. Some cancers are genetic and some are not. Regardless, it can happen to everyone. I spent many months last year with my sister-in-law over the course of her training for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day and I heard first hand stories of how cancer had affected so many lives. None of us are immune to it. We have to be proactive.

I am so relieved and  thankful that my mom is well. After losing my dad 16 months ago, the thought of something happening to my mom was terrifying. I kept strong throughout the last 5 weeks, both for my mom and my family, but I am not afraid to admit now that I was scared. Hearing the good news yesterday was the best thing and it made my day. I now know more than ever that my dad is indeed watching over us and I am positive he had a little something with yesterday’s good news.

I love you, Mommy and I am so glad you did not ignore what you knew was not right, and you did what you had to do to be well. You are stronger than you know and you are cancer-free!!

Happiness Is…

Happiness Is…

  • Finally getting out this morning for a much needed run. My legs felt great and I felt strong throughout.
  • My mom recovering very well from her surgery just a week and a half ago.
  • A weekend to do things around the house, even if it involves yucky stuff like cleaning the bathroom and more.
  • Getting much accomplished this past week after working my butt off. The long days were worth it.
  • Reading a new book that I REALLY enjoy, Starters by Lissa Price.
  • The great weather we’ve been having. I dread the hot days that are quickly approaching, but we’ve had some great days here this past week with a nice breeze in the evenings.
  • The fabulous pedicure I had last Saturday, which still looks great.
  • Knowing there is a $50 gift card for Barnes & Noble headed my way. So many possibilities of what I can buy….
  • Having lab work done and getting the results in AND being happy with all the results. My blood pressure is amazing, my cholesterol and good cholesterol are fabulous, triglycerides and glucose are awesome. Yay!

What makes you happy? Share!

Things I am thankful for today…

  • Modern medicine and technology, and the positive outcome of my mom’s surgery today.
  • My amazing family for being at the hospital waiting for my mom and supporting each other as we all waited for what seemed to be an eternity. My hubby, Nick, Jenna, Jenni, Nile, and Darlene (who flew 3000 miles to be with us during this time). I love you all!
  • The family and friends who messaged, texted, or emailed me today to ask about my mom and to let me know she was in their thoughts and prayers  – thank you!
  • The wonderful personality of the volunteer in the waiting room, whose name I cannot remember. She was a hoot and had us laughing, all while making our “posse”, as she called us, feel at ease during our wait.
  • The care of a great surgeon and his time in calling me to discuss her surgery when he was done.
  • The game Draw Something for providing all of us with laughter and mindless entertainment as we took over the waiting room at the hospital.
  • The wonderful staff at Morton Plant Hospital. Despite our bad memories of the hospital and losing Daddy there, the hospital was then and was again today, wonderful in providing care and doing all they could to keep as informed and at ease while we waited.
  • And most of all, having the best mom in the whole world, who I love very much. I am so thankful for our close relationship. We are here to help you in your recovery over the next few weeks.

Sensory Overload

For the last 15 months, I have avoided the hospital where my dad passed away. I’ve had to drive past it many times, although I would even try to avoid that. One time I intentionally drove through the parking lot because I was compelled to do so. I had hoped that I would not ever have to go back inside anytime soon.

Today was the day. My mom is having surgery next week and had to go in for pre-op. I went with her so she wouldn’t have to go alone. My need for her to not be alone outweighed the trepidation that I felt. In fact, I am writing this as I sit in the waiting room and wait for her.

When you spend 12 hours a day or more over a month’s time in a place, there are things you get used to. You learn your way around, you recognize and get to know people, you get used to the sterile smell of the halls and the rooms, the sounds, seeing patients on gurneys, and more.

Neither one of us wanted to walk in there to begin with, and I wasn’t sure what I dreaded most. We had to enter near the emergency room which we knew all too well. Passing the row of parked ambulances brought back a flood of memories. But it wasn’t until we walked in that I realized what would hit me the most. And it was the smell. That sterile smell that I had become accustomed to, and the smell of the soap in the bathroom. To me, sense of smell is very powerful and can be overwhelming, especially in situations like this. These might seem like trivial thoughts to have but when you relate them to the last time you saw someone, it is HUGE.

The last time we were here, we said goodbye to Daddy – and physically left him here. It is one of many thoughts I had that day. I knew it was just his body in that room when we left, and his spirit and all that we loved about him left with us and still remains with us. But at that moment, it felt like we were leaving him, and I hated that.

So to walk back into the same building today that we last saw him in 15 months ago was hard.

Next week we will ALL, I hope, be here as a family as my mom has surgery. No one is alone in this family despite fear, trepidation, and more. The hospital is a great one and everyone here is very kind and patient-oriented. All of this outweighs the bad parts of the walls, rooms, floors, and more that make up the hospital that holds the many memories of pain, loss, and grief we all felt.

I am glad I came with her today, not only to support her, but to get beyond the apprehension of going. The next time we are here, I can focus more on my mom, her surgery, and her recovery. All will be fine.