Monday, September 4, 2017

The Unknown

It's 10:30 pm on a Labor Day, 2017 and I am getting anxious for tomorrow morning's appointment with the Gynecologic Oncologist. Not something I ever anticipated having to do, but who does right? Life throws all sorts of obstacles in our way just to see how we tackle them. Well this one is still a bit surreal for me.

I have my outfit, I have my list of questions and I have my husband Paulie joining me (unavoidably the appointment fell on his birthday but he's a trooper but I did bake him a red velvet bunt cake today). Friends and family have wished me well, sent healing thoughts and told me that I've got this. Do I?

I asked my OBGYN who took out my offending uterus that turned out to be have cancer in it, what do I call this diagnosis? She reassured me that I am in good hands and that since the organ has already been removed and the pathology results forwarded to the specialist, he would be the best one to tell me the next steps.

Initially I didn't even know how to address the situation, do I have cancer or is it just some cancer cells or did I have cancer. I was confused even by which tense to use when talking about it. So complicated how to accurately convey the news. I was up front with my family and friends, even online community that I have been a part of since the late 1990s have been given the 'news'.

I have always approached life with reverence and a hearty dose of humor and no doubt will tackle this situation in a similar manner but I have to be honest, I don't know what tomorrow will bring and that has me perplexed.

My Facebook feed displayed a reminder that my 30th High School reunion is next month, the day before my 49th birthday, and I don't know if I can or want to go but it put some things into perspective. I don't feel 48 11/12 and somehow the last three decades of travel, laughter, love and life scrolled by without much fanfare.

I wish I had my bestie by my side tomorrow in tandem with hubby. He was always there for me but his sudden exit in 2009 left my heart pot marked where all the fun and goofy antics we had together resided. Now all my reminiscing is one sided like the time we were at a London Youth Hostel and there was a group of seven German teens we renamed the Guntar and the Magnificent Seven. Or the time we spent 15 hours on a bus from Galway Ireland to London including a ferry ride that had him holed up under a table due to his fear of water. When a person leaves this world, they take so much with them, I want just a few more minutes to tell him how much we loved him but alas, it was not to be.

Much of this was brought on by google searches of treatment options so I decided that until I know what I am dealing with there is no sense in scaring the crap out of myself. Life is short and long all at the same time. We don't relish in the time we spend doing the mundane like laundry or grocery shopping but we do hold on to the little nuggets of perfection that arise out of the depth of the minutia that is life. The all nighter with your love just to see the sunrise, the smell of ocean on a foreign land, the perfect morsel of food in a tiny cafe half way around the world. Priceless memories that can make you smile days, months, years and even decades later.

So here I am, hours away from learning another truth that will send me in a different direction. I feel like the last three weeks have been in a strange pause mode. Today is also a month since my hysterectomy but until I typed these words, I had forgotten that I even had surgery. My procedure was done robotically and I was in and out of the hospital in under 10 hours which even according to my doctor who performed the operation is practically unheard of. A part of me must have seen this as a dare, how quickly can you be discharged and I am typically up for a challenge. Maybe I can channel my competitiveness into the next chapter of my life. Time will tell.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Vegan Bean Sprouts & Kimchi Pancakes

I love scallion pancakes from takeout/takeaway but I never know if they add eggs or not so I figured I can reproduce the taste and texture at home. This it my interpretation of crispy edge bean sprout & kimchi pancakes loaded with Korean chives and lots of flavor. Keep in mind, the following recipe is fluid, adjustment to the flour/water ration is needed to account for humidity and elevation to where and when you are cooking.

First make a loose pancake batter - 2 cups flour, 1 cup water, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder. Mix till it's combined but don't overmix (that would produce dense cakes instead of fluffy and crispy). Add 1/4 cup shopped kimchi and 1/4 cup kimchi juice, 1 cup rinsed bean sprouts and 1/4 cup chopped Korean chives (can be substituted with scallions or your onions), salt & black pepper to taste. If you are oil free, scoop 1/4 portions into a heated heavy bottom pan, lower heat and allow to cook through on each side, approximately 3-4 minutes per side depending on desired crispness. I used a coconut oil spray on a non stick pan to cook mine. Reserve done pancakes on a sheet pan and stash away in a low heat oven to keep warm till all are done. This batch makes 3 hearty portions or several appetizers depending on hunger level.

Serve with Ponzu dipping sauce with toasted sesame and chopped scallions, kimchi and pickled Korean rash for a refreshing combination. These are even great as leftovers, warmed up in the oven to crisp and heat up in case they don't disappear in one sitting.

NOT: If you make them thinned, they can be stuffed with sauted veggies and rolled up for a great lunch or dinner option. You can add lots of different veggies in place of what I used so let your imagination be your guide.


Saturday, December 17, 2016

Vegan Kimchi

Kimchi is a Korean staple of fermented and spicy cabbage that is as varied in recipe as potato salad in the US. Regional differences and individual taste preferences from special oyster variety to vegan which doesn't use any animal products. I happen to enjoy the vegan version the most, particularly more fermented kind. With a couple of grocery store versions available but at nearly $6 a 16 oz jar I decided to start making my own. The following recipe is a hybrid of several I've tried in the last year and inspired by Maangchi on YouTube.


  • 4 lb of Napa Cabbage
  • 1/2 cup course sea salt (I used Korean Sea Salt)
  • 2 tablespoons Sweet Rice Flour (can be substituted with AP flour)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup Tamari (vegan soy sauce)
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup onion
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger
  • 1 1/2 cups julienned carrots
  • 1 1/2 cups julienned Korean radish or daikon
  • 1/2 cup garlic chives
  • 1/2 cup scallions

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Vegan Mushroom Stroganoff

First I have to say, this is a Chameleon type of dish in that it can be custom tailored to your particular tastes and dietary requirements. Vegan - check, just follow the recipe below, Vegetarian and eat dairy, swap soy with milk and nutritional yeast with cheese, Carnivore - add beef or chicken. I would recommend making it at least once as instructed and then experiment with swap outs (included in parenthesis below).

Recipe: Mushroom Stroganoff 

1 1/2 cups wide noodle (egg or eggless as your preference)
1 1/2 cups of water
1/2 cup plant milk (I use soy, swap with bovine milk if not vegan)
3 tablespoons Nutritional Yeast (1/4 cup sour cream or plain yogurt)
1 tablespoon mushroom powder
1/2 cup mushrooms (in the photo above I used leftovers of roasted porcini)
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Salt & Black pepper to taste

In a sauce pan combine all ingredients above (reserve a bit of parsley for plating), bring to a boil, lower heat to simmer and stir occasionally for 6-8 minutes. Turn off and let sit for 2-3 minutes to thicken the sauce. This recipe is a no drain easy lunch or side dish for dinner.

Mushroom powder is available online but can be rather costly, I make my own when I either get a good deal on fresh mushrooms and dehydrate them overnight and then process into powder or purchase dry mushrooms and create the powder from them. Ideally, the broken and less attractive mushrooms are perfect for this pantry item. 

I'd love to hear if you make this what you think, tag me on social media so I can see your tasty meal!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Planner Meetup - Western MA

I spent a wonderful afternoon yesterday with new planner friends in Massachusetts where we shared our favorite planners and supplies. I brought along my adorable Supaclip (40, the smaller size) with a sneak peek at the Emoji refills (shown in the image below).

Those little froning faces are perfect to clip together your bills...that is the pile my husband is allergic to so he'll be forewarned not to touch it,

I promised to share links to some of the products we talked about so what you'll find below are direct Amazon PRIME links for Supaclip starter set, Refills, Adjustable Diary Punch and Desktop Pencil Sharpener, for all those Adult Coloring enthusiasts out there.
 Empire Imports A5 Paper Ream

In case you are looking for a 6-hole punch for A5 size planner, I have a video on how to make that work with minimal effort (I did all the math for you, lol).

The following are some snapshots from the Planner Meetup
A very talented lady, @jesseniascreations made that black & white planner band that was in our swag bag, matching my Erin Condren Life Planner perfectly

Planner Pile Up - well represented by assorted companies - Erin Condren, Happy Planner, Webster's Pages, Michael's Planner, Filofax and several others that I can't recall.

The swag bag was brimming with stickers, clips, washi, planner band and even an adorable mini bottle of essential oil in lavender,

I am so happy to have been able to attend the event, meet so many like minded planner enthusiasts and look forward to the next one.

Where to find me online:

Monday, June 6, 2016

Easy Homegrown Sprouts

These lovely, crispy and peppery sprouts are a favorite in this house on sandwiches and in salads. After a quick search they can be made at home in 3-5 days. I purchased all the supplies on Amazon (except Ball Mason jars that I already had on hand) and wanted to share the easy and cool process with you.

Soak overnight in a wide mouth mason jar
Rinse and drain at least twice daily (morning and evening) or three times like I did to expedite the growth process

Love seeing something grow and so quickly. It certainly satisfies the nearly instant gratification.

These are wonderful, so refreshing with a little bite and will last for the week of salads and sandwiches. Make sure to store them after rinsing off the hulls and storing them in a air tight container. To get the most water removed, I used a salad spinner and lined the bottom of the container with paper towel to wick away any excess moisture.