We Take For Granted

After my last post, and after everything I’ve been going through these past 6 weeks, I wanted to share this video with everyone! Just to remind us of the things we take for granted, and to remind us that despite the troubles of our own lives and the sorrow of the media, there is still beauty surrounding us.

Sixteen and a Half Years Later

I remember the Elsmere skating rink. Do you? When I was a kid, that place was hopin’! Every fundraiser in elementary school, every family fun night, every birthday party… it was there! My 6th birthday was there! The big fluffy dino/creature/thing pulls the birthday girl in the middle of the roller rink to have the birthday song play and to lead the hokie pokie dance.

The following weekend from my birthday party, at the skating rink, my dad drove me to Philly to my aunt and uncle’s house. It was there that I meet the most amazing being that had ever blessed my life. My uncle had rescued her from his place of business, where they, unfortunately tested on animals. I remember sitting on the living room floor and my uncle handing me the tiniest 6 week old Beagle. Her ears were too big for head and her body small enough to be cupped in my 6 year old hands.

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WP_001180My dad had this red station wagon and I remember sitting in the back seat, watching this little fur ball try to bite her way out of the dog carrier. I kept freaking out because I thought she was going to hurt herself. I couldn’t stop staring at her the entire 40 minute drive home. As soon as we walked onto the porch, it hit me… not the door, the name. “Beauty.” Beauty. Could it have been any more perfect?

One winter, while she was still teething she chewed the back of my boots that I had just gotten for Christmas. I was so disappointed! But how can you hold a grudge with a face like that? We would take Beauty for walks and people would stop us and tell us how beautiful she was! One halloween, as my mother took me door to door with the pup, a woman offered to buy her from us! Frank reminded me last night about when he had spent the afternoon at the grill, came in the house with what he called “the perfect WP_003995burger.” He placed it on the table, stepped away, and when he came back, the entire thing was gone. Just a paper plate and a full puppy. Haha! What a stinker!

Maybe its just Beauty, but at night, she would fall asleep with her head near mine and when I woke up in the morning, somehow, her back side was always in my face! Haha! Or my favorite, would be when I had to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night and come back to the furriest pillow known to man. And by “fuzziest pillow known to man,” I mean Beauty asleep on my pillow. She really is the BEST cuddle buddy ever!

WP_004447Or how she thought my laundry pile was her new bed! She would pull my clothes, circle and circle on top of them, rake them with her paws and finally settle in. Does your dog snore? The older Beauty gets, the more and louder she snores! But its funny, because, now, I can’t sleep without it. Its like, white noise, but the good kind. Like if I hear it, I know shes okay.

The last few weeks, things have been a little rough around here. The sleepy headed pup has been sleepier, and has not been able to hold anything down. “Beauty with the Booty” has lost a lot of wait, has not barked, and it has not been looking good. Last night, after running an errand with mom, we arrived home to a tired Beauty with some piles of things scattered on the floor. This was it.

?????????Just like the rest of the family, she is a stubborn one. We knew she was trying to hold out, and leave on her own terms. We prayed that she would just fall asleep. It sounds like the most morbid thing to pray for, but I would have rather her just fallen asleep, and go out peacefully. Dad came over to  moms house. For about 2 hours, we laid with Beauty, kissed her, hugged her, cried, and repeatedly told her how much she was loved and how much she meant to us. The last hour was spent with Beauty sleeping on my chest. After I had finally decided on what had to be done, I felt somewhat content.

Why? Why would feel okay about this? About Beauty… not being there… at all.. anymore… Last night, I saw my dad cry for the first time. Even when his mom died, he only teared up in front of me. Have you ever seen your dad cry? Its like watching an earthquake… One of those epic ones from the movies… When the ground splits in two and everything crumbles into the magma abyss.

As we walked into the Veterinary Hospital, I held her in my arms, wrapped in a blanket so she wouldn’t be cold in the 20 degree temperature. The tech greeted me at the door and as I followed, I stopped dead in my tracks and spun 180. “I can’t do it, daddy! I’m not ready!”

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I knew what had to be done. I knew once I saw the reaction of the tech, that this was te right thing to do. “We need to get her back there.” I explained to Beauty that the tech, Dani, was going to take her for a few minutes and that Dani would bring her back to mommy. She came back out with an IV in her paw. The vet explained how everything worked, and I gave her the cue when I was ready. Mom, Dad, and Barry said their goodbyes, gave her hugs and kisses, and then it was up to me.

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My nose was touching hers. I reminded her how she is my best friend, the love of my life, more than I could ever ask for, and how much I love her! I gave her a kiss, as her head laid on my arm. I nodded to the vet and locked eyes with Beauty. I was the last thing she saw. The last thing she heard was, “I love you, baby girl. Always and forever.”

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Her head got heavy. She looked so peaceful. I stayed with her until my parents were able to coax me out of the room.

I’m feeling… I’m not sure…bent over with my head between my knees… angry… devastated… lost… I’m becoming  numb… Mom says I’m like a zombie. I walked in the house, and glanced at Beauty’s corner, like I normally do, only to see she was not there. I took a bite of the pizza crust and then threw it in her bowl, only to remember she would not be there to eat it. This is going to take a lot of getting used to.

Some of my favorite memories of her, like most good memories are with food. I remembered when I was about 10, my mom spilled a box of redhots on the floor, and Beauty vacuumed them up. She then got the nickname “Hoover.” She devoured those Salmon Cakes! Oh and she adored when I would make homemade dog treats! Maybe its because I always used peanut butter in them. Beauty has the same theory of peanut butter as her mommy: anytime, anywhere, on anything! I think its only right that on today, March 1st, National Peanut Butter Lovers Day, that we raise a spoonful of peanut butter to the peanut butter loving pup!

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Merry Christmas, Darlings!

Merry Christmas!! I hope you all had a wonderful day! I am so excited to celebrate our first Christmas together. Yes, this is Barry and my first Christmas together, but I am referring to our first Christmas together… Yes… YOU!

Last night, I attended two celebrations. I really lucked out with not having to work. I first drove to Frank’s nephews house. How cute are the boys?! Cal and Anthony were preparing a four-course meal of The 7 Fishes! Not to mention, Cal baked a bunch of favorites, like her famous Angel Food Cake, pignoli cookies, and cocoa pistachio sables!

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Unfortunately, I was not able to stay and celebrate dinner, as I was expected at my grandmother’s house. I was so so excited to see the family, but pathetically excited to eat some kielbasa! Every year, we had three main dishes in the Higgins house: kielbasa and sauerkraut, roast beef, and meatballs! I’m surprised I didn’t turn into a piece of kielbasa! Haha!

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I had a couple favorite moments from last night. The first was a mommom combo. I first handed grandma a bottle of Spumanti from Barry and me. She loves this stuff! This is the drink she got completely buzzed off of at my graduation party. She was so excited she started kicking her feet, yelling, “My drink! Oh my drink! Oh I love this stuff!” (Keep in mind that this is a 79 year old woman with both knee and hip replacements, kicking her feet in joy… PRICELESS). The second was when grandmom opened an ornament I made for her. She immediately pulled it out of the box and kissed the picture of my grandfather that was in the ornament.

Another, came at my Aunt Linda’s House where cousin Eddie proposed to his girlfriend, Cindy! My Aunt was telling Cindy about Eddie’s First Christmas ornament, and when Eddie went to show her it… He showed her an ornament of a bride and groom on a motorcycle and tied around the couple was a ring. “So what do you say, babe? Will you marry me?” She was speechless. “Uh, I kind of need an answer. so I know what to do here…” We all laughed, she held out her hand and said, “Yes.”

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WP_005128Aunt Linda was really excited about the gift she made me.. In all honesty, I normally would have had some serious anxiety with this gift, but I was so well-thought-out, I couldn’t help but love it! Its the Nurse’s Survival Guide, packed with goodies and a paper included that stated the following:

Nurse’s Survival Kit

Lifesavers– A reminder of the times your are a real lifesaver. Starburst– For that extra burst of energy. Mints– A reminder that your compassion is worth a mint to your patients. Kisses– because you deserve many. Tissues– To dry tears, yours or someone else’s. Bandaids– To help with all the “little stuff.” Gum– To help your through the sticky situations. Paper clip– To help hold things together. Tea bags– Sit back and relax after a hard day at work. Taffys– To help you lick the problems you face. Jolly Ranchers– To remind you to laugh when you feel like crying. Tootsie Rolls– To help complaints “roll” off you back. Rubber Bands– For when you need to stretch beyond you limits. Battery– To keep you going and going and going. Candle– For when you feel completely burned out. Snickers– Because laughter is the best medicine. Button– Because you may need to button your lip. Marbles– To replace the ones you will lose.

Everyone asked about Barry, but he had to work. He came over at 6am Christmas morning and we began the holiday early.

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After opening presents with mom, Frank, Barry and my brothers, I headed over to dads with the pup.WP_005051

WP_005046We had a great morning. Money was a bit tight this year so we decided not the get a tree. Instead, we took a ceramic tree out of storage. My grandmother used to make ceramics and this one is one of my favorites! She even put a circuit in the base for a light bulb! It was a great substitution! Yay, for talented mommoms!

Who needs the avengers when youve got the Bundos??

Who needs the avengers when you’ve got the Bundos??

I thought it was pretty humorous that I got dad and Barry Captain America and Iron Man t-shirts, respectively, and my parents got me a Supergirl shirt!

Following a nice morning of family and gift exchanges, dad and I went to my uncle’s house. Before we headed over a prepared a few desserts. One of my cousins was on a low carb diet, so I made some dessert cups using Quest Bars. I cut a Lemon Creme Pie into 8 pieces, and and Apple Pie bar and a Double Chocolate Chunk bar into 4s.

Quest Cups

  • Quest bar of your liking
  • mini muffin tin
  • filling of choice

Preheat oven to 350 F. Cut the Quest bars into the desired about of pieces. Space on a plate and microwave for about 8 seconds. Using dry hands, roll each piece into a ball. Flip over a mini muffin tin and spray the bottom of the pan with non-stick cooking spray. Flatten each ball into a disk and form over the coated muffin tin. Bake for 5 minutes and remove from oven. Once cooled, fill the Quest cups with whatever filling you desire.

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I filled the Lemon cups with the left over fig and walnut filling from my Sicilian Crescents. I chopped up half a small fuji apple and mixed it with a packet of Splenda and apple pie spice. I, then placed the apple mix in the microwave for 30 seconds and filled the Apple Pie Quest cup. Lastly, I placed the Double Chocolate Chip quarters in the bottom of the mini muffin tin and baked for 5 minutes, as well. Upon removing the bar, I found 4 perfectly round Double Chocolate Chunk cookies, that RJ loved! Dessert would not be dessert with some fat free Cool Whip to top it off!

Aunt Carol and I took over the kitchen, preparing ravioli, Lightened Gnocchi, salad, gravy, sausage, and meatballs.

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Great minds must think alike. Barry and I, both bought each other robes for Christmas. My parents got Barry a pair of slippers, and us matching pj pants. Barry’s parents got me a new pair of slippers, and us matching pj pants!

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Some of my favorite gifts, this year, included the ornaments I made my family, the Cutco knife Frank gave me, Dad’s laptop and Mom’s pendant, the onsies dad got me, my Ninja (thanks Barry), and the collage I made Barry’s sister.

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I hope you all had a wonderful holiday!

Chili(y)

I went to Barry’s after work yesterday morning and immediately crashed! I couldn’t believe how tired I was. I actually slept! For like 5 hours! I woke up and it was 130 in the afternoon! Barry and I headed over to the Newark Co-op so I could pick up a few things. Hes been teaching me how to drive stick shift, so I got to drive. I think each time I drive, I’m getting better! We made it in one piece to the co-op and I found these babies!

If you recall, my first experience with POPCORNERS was addicting. I saw them on the shelves and directly below them, the words “Whole Grain.” Then came the words, “Memphis BBQ.” I thought about resisting and decided against it. Pretty darn hungry, Barry and I got in the car and dug in! Wow! Once again, POPCORNERS has me hooked!

Most of my evening was what I would consider insatiable! Once I got home, I made myself a large steamed vegetable and roast turkey salad. I microwaved bell peppers, onions, artichoke hearts, and turkey, and added them to a bunch of chopped iceberg. I finished it off with diced cucumbers and dill pickles, crushed red pepper flakes, salsa, and SF Balsamic Vinaigrette.

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Despite such a scrumptious salad, I still felt unsatisfied. I found myself nibbling. Ugh! I hate that “N” word! It really gets to me. I just felt insatiable.

Earlier in the day, every time I ate or drank, even water, I would get a sharp pain in my abdomen. Barry thinks because it hurt to eat earlier that maybe I really was hungry. I mean, it makes sense. I eventually steamed a bag of Italian blend vegetables and topped it with Walden Farms Alfredo and some spices. That helped. But my sweet tooth was not silenced!

I kept nibbling on Fiber One 80 Chocolate, celery and salsa… nothing was doing it. It was driving me crazy that I could not be satisfied. Sitting for 12 hours last night didn’t exactly help my calorie paranoia. Ahah! Pumpkin Ice Cream! After a bowl of Edy’s Slow Churned Pumpkin Ice Cream topped with Kashi Nutty Chia Flax cereal was quite satisfying.

My eating renegade ended with more sliced bell pepper and salsa. Whatever satisfies my crunch crave.

I would venture to say that salsa is probably the most used condiment in this house. I’ve actually gotten my dad pretty hooked on the stuff, too.

I spent the evening cuddled up with Beauty on the couch, struggling to stay awake for the season premiere of Glee.

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Isn’t she cute? Rub my belly, Please, please rub my belly?!?!?

I’m so glad I made it to Glee because the entire episode was The Beatles- my favorite band of all time! The music of The Beatles kept me wide awake until the end of the episode!  I crashed as soon as I saw coming attractions for next week.

I planned on accomplishing a few things when I woke up and I managed to do most of them!

Fall has been hitting hard around here, especially early AM and late PM. Before the it gets too cold and I have absolutely NO motivation to go outside, I grabbed a run and found two more great Refrain Running songs to the add to the playlist: See You Go by 3 Oh! 3 and Crazy Bitch by Buckcherry. By the time the Buckcherry song was over, I hadn’t stopped running, I was ampt, singing outloud, and completely out of breath! But I loved it!

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I ran about 2.5 miles and was pretty tired. I haven’t run in a while! When I got home, I got everything ready for my Crock Pot White Turkey Chili. I wanted to wait until October, National Chili Month, to make chili, but with the last bit of the turkey in the fridge, I figured it would be nice way to warm us up!

After the chili got started, I whipped up a shake bowl- a Four Chocolate Shake! So today is National Chocolate Milk Day, so I made a chocolate shake for dad and myself. He took his to work, and I enjoyed mine at home.

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  • 1 scoop chocolate protein
  • 1 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 Tbsp Chocolate PB2
  • 1 Tbsp SF White Chocolate syrup
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • handful of spinach
  • guar gum
  • water
  • ice

It was a weird color that was perfectly thickened. I had a bit of a Gnu Espresso Chip bar left, and I crumbled that on top so I had something to chew, plus it has espresso in it! Wow! I really enjoyed my breakfast.

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Frank was outside working on his car and I asked if I could help. I honestly love to learn! I wish I could have a career as a Professional Student! It doesn’t really matter what it is, but I have a constant thirst for knowledge. I was very excited when Frank said I could help. Today, I got my hands really dirty! He taught me how to rotate the tires and change the brake pads! I loved it and really it tired my arms out.

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I offered Frank some comic relief as I tried to help. At one point, while trying to loosen the caliper, I lost the grip on my socket wrench and went rolling back on my butt and then my back. I looked like a turtle lying on my back! I couldn’t stop laughing. Another time, Frank recommended I stand on the braker bar to help loosen a lug nut, so I did. Guess what? It went nowhere and I stood on the bar elevated above the tire like I was Queen of the Grease Balls! haha Everyone… my neighbor, the mailman, my dad… everyone has deemed my new nickname as “Grease Monkey.”

I wasn’t really hungry until dinner. I called dad and we both agreed we were starving! Dinner did not disappoint! So yummy with a bit of a kick, topped with a little shredded cheddar! It was served with grilled cheeses on the side, each one unique.

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Franks was provolone tomato, and turkey salad, Dad’s was Honey Mustard, a smidge of turkey salad, roasted red peppers, half provolone and half American. Mine was simply horseradish mustard, roasted red peppers, and American. I was shocked by how full we were! I was stuffed and content until close to 930pm.

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After dinner, Dad and I got a Redbox rental of “Stand Up Guys.” It was great! know these actors, their past films, their age, and the story line made it so entertaining!

We returned the movie and I ran into my elderly neighbor. He always asks me to pick out new ice creams for him and he always loves my choices. Tonight, we got Phish Food and Chubby Hubby. Finally! I get to try Chubby Hubby! I made sure that my one bite I allowed myself had the giant chocolate covered pretzel! I’m content with my bite and have no guilt! Plus this Chubby Hubby thing is finally out of my system.

But this did put me in quite the ice cream mood. After a tablespoon of my Edy’s Pumpkin, I decided that I wanted chocolate and a cone and a Lil’ Drum was the winner. I love these things. After a mild bought of nibbling (stupid nibbling), I settled down with some filling romaine and salsa. Nice and satisfied, guilt free, and feeling like I had a good day!

Enjoy your Friday night! I’m spending mine with mom and Beauty…

Dangerous Cream Cheese

I slept. Boy, did I sleep! I fell asleep on the couch, like mid-conversation with my mom. Talk about a food coma.

I never plugged my cell in and it died, and therefore, no alarm for Sammy. I stirred a bit when I heard mom in the living room and asked her what time it was. “Ten of 11,” she said. What? I need to make breakfast! Dad’s coming over! “I called and told him you were sleeping.” Just as I reached for the phone to tell dad to come over, he was calling me! ESP! Yup, I’m up! I making pancakes! Get over here! 

I just have to say it. I was a culinary queen, today!

I prepped part of the pancakes last night before crashing. The pancakes were a hit and no one knew that there was a secret ingredient. This week hosts National Pancake Day, so I’ll share today’s beautiful pancakes with you then! Since today happens to be National White Chocolate Day, I added some white chocolate chips to a little less than half of the pancakes for Frank, my dad, and my little brother, Dom. Everyone enjoyed breakfast, even my picky mother! We all had our own cups of coffee, and since no white chocolate was in my pancakes, I made sure a little SF white chocolate syrup made it into my coffee mug.

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I was inspired, while cooking pancakes, this morning. I kept thinking about that yummy Panera Honey Walnut Cream Cheese! I kept thinking how good it would taste on blueberry pancakes. I had half an 8oz container of fat free cream cheese in the fridge and went from there.

Advisory: This is the most dangerous and ridiculously delicious cream cheese you will ever eat.

Healthy Panera Sweet Walnut Cream Cheese

makes 16 Tablespoons

  • 1 8oz container non fat cream cheese
  • 2 Tbsp sugar free pancake syrup
  • 2 packets Splenda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp diced walnuts

Combine all ingredients together until smooth and enjoy!

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Needless to say, I topped my pancakes with my cream cheese!

I asked my mom to test it, since she loves the original stuff. “If I didn’t know better, I would swear it was directly from Panera.” “That’s damn good,” dad said at the dining room table. “Frank, try this!” Its always a pleasure to here compliments like that!

Following breakfast, my godfather and cousin swung by for a quick visit and then dad and I were off to the park. We decided to take the pup with us for a little fresh air. It was brief but an absolute fun filled morning with my dad, shooting hoops. I love getting Beauty out in the fresh air! She always crashes when we get home, but when shes out, she really enjoys herself. And I got some great pictures of her today! I think dad just liked our trip to the park because he beat me in a game of Horse- only by ONE, though!

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Frank and I ran some errands today, and by the time we got home, we were both chomping on the grapes in the car. Neither of had eaten since brunch, and with the sun dried tomato wraps I just bought, a felt a wrap was the way to go. Frank said he had some chicken breast and then we decided to add some shrimp. Oh man! Frank, mom, Dom, and myself loved these wraps. I through the sliced chicken breast and shrimp, about 4 1/2 oz of each, in to a skillet and then topped it with the following and covered it, only tossing it a few times:

  • WP_0039971 1/2 oz broccoli slaw
  • 3 oz spinach,
  • 1 oz sun dried tomatoes
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • 1/3 cup mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced
  • black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp adobo seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp oregano

After dividing the mixture among 3 wraps, I topped each with a little fat free shredded cheddar, 1 oz a roasted red peppers (each wrap), and a leaf of ice berg lettuce. I served them with sliced cucumbers for a side dish. Frank kept saying how much he enjoyed it, and he could have eaten another.

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WP_004002I must also admit that I created a monster, this morning. I went with an after dinner snack of celery and cucumbers. I always heard how celery and cream cheese went so well together. Well, I have never enjoyed this combo, but having made my Healthy Panera copy-cat, I get the combo another try.

THIS STUFF MUST GO ON EVERYTHING!

Its a winner!

Sweet 16

Today is a most wonderful day for this family! Beauty is 16, today! Can you believe it? My beautiful beagle is sixteen years old!

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When I was turning 6, my uncle worked for a company that tested on animals. He rescued his dog and for my 6th birthday, grabbed me her half sister: The most beautiful pup I’ve ever seen! I got her when she was just 6 weeks old and I feel so blessed to have 16 years with her, now!  It seems surreal! We weren’t sure if she was going to make it to her 16th birthday with the health problems she was having earlier this year, but we were all wrong!

This was a big day in our house and I was prepared to celebrate!

Our day began with… uh, oh… where are the eggs? We opened the fridge and had to run out to the store so we could have our omelets this morning. My girlfriend Maggie was here so I made breakfast for the three of us, plus a sandwich for dad for work.

I browned up some turkey sausage links while I cooked Barry a jalapeno and spicy cheese egg, which I served with the sausage on toast. HE was ballsy enough to try out new ghost pepper hot sauce on the sandwich, too! For Maggie and myself, I used the the liquid egg substitute, salsa, spinach, and chopped turkey sausage with fat free cheese. She enjoyed hers with ketchup, and I with hot sauce. My breakfast was completed with a mug of coffee, while Barry’s ending with a glass of milk to cut some of the fiery hot sauce.

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After assembling a shopping list, and dropping off dad’s breakfast sandwich at his work, we ran our errands and arrived to see the birthday girl! She was sleeping, of course, but her loud mommy woke her with balloons and kisses!

By far, Beauty’s favorite treat is peanut butter! Duh! Isn’t it every ones? Every year, we typically get a coffee cake or sticky bun to celebrate, but this year, I made a peanut butter creme pie, compliments of Hungry Girl. It was delish! We all were in PB heaven.

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While this was firming up in the freezer, the birthday girl got to lick the spoon… and the bowl, while her mommy made dinner.

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Today, also happens to by National Cheese Pizza Day. I had left my scale at Barry’s and made this without weighing a simple thing, only measuring spoons, same with the salads that accompanied dinner and the PB Creme pie. This was a big step for me. So much so that I needed to take a walk while it was baking…

The pizza was one of the best I’ve made yet! The humans loved it and went back for seconds. The canine of the house was treated to a special meal, as well. I found in a health magazine a while back a recipe for heart healthy food patties for dogs. Both meals were cooking.

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WP_003760Salmon Patties for Pups

makes 8 cakes

  • 1 14.75 can salmon
  • 3/4 cup Italian bread crumbs, or panko
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil

Combine the first three ingredients and form 8 patties. In a hot skillet, drizzle with half the olive oil and brown one side. Drizzle the remaining oil and flip patties until the other side is browned and patties are warmed through.

These can be frozen and refrigerated.

She, too, wanted seconds! Its her birthday, so, of course, she got them!

Cheese Pizza

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The Crust:

  • 1 medium to large cauliflower, chopped
  • 1/4 cup liquid egg substitute
  • 3/4 cup shredded fat free mozzarella, further chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley
  • 2 clove garlic, minced (1 tsp minced)
  • 1/2 Tbsp cornmeal

The Topping:

  • 1/4 cup fat free ricotta
  • basil, to taste
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp pizza sauce
  • 1 cup fat free shredded mozzarella
  • granulated garlic, to taste

Steam the cauliflower with 1/3 cup water in a microwave safe bowl covered with plastic wrap. Microwave about 9 minutes. Carefully transfer the steamed cauli into a food processor and blend until the cauliflower is a rice consistency. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of “riced” cauliflower. Mix that with egg, cheese and spices. The mixture will form a dough like consistency. Sprinkle the cornmeal over the hot pizza stone or pizza pan. Spread the dough on a hot pizza stone and bake for about 20 min at 400 F.

Check, using a spatula, that the crust is not sticking to the pan/stone. Allow the crust to slightly cool while you lower the temperature of the over to 350 F. Once slightly cooled, top the crust with an even spread of ricotta, and sprinkle that with basil. Next, spread the pizza sauce, and, finally, the shredded mozzarella. Sprinkle the granulated garlic over the top and bake at 350 F for about 8 minutes.

Slice and serve.

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After our pizza and salads, we digested while Beauty took her full belly to Nap Time Land.

We eventually got the pup up, lit the candles, sang Happy Birthday, and dug in! She was so cute as she kept trying to lick the pan. This picture looks like she is trying to blow out the candles!

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She seriously loved her pie! We could not top watching how much she enjoyed it!

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Happy Birthday, Babygirl!

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Never Too Old for Animal Crackers

After yesterday mornings excitment, I enjoyed sleeping in this morning.

Last night, Barry came over during his lunch break from night shift, around 9pm. I greeted him with a chicken sandwich, from the left over chicken we grilled the other day, a tray of broccoli and cheese, a chocolate chip cookie and a chocolate cheesecake for work, that mom had had picked up from Wholefoods.

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After Barry left, and some studying, I laid in bed for about 2 hours tossing and turning. As tired as I was, I just could not fall asleep. I think that having a disagreement with my mom, yesterday, on top of Beaut getting out, really ampted up my anxiety. I felt similar to when I was really sick… I would lay in bed, up until all hours of the night, planning my meals for the week, stressing about calories… planning my every move for the coming days.

Finally, I fell asleep!

This morning began with a shake for Frank and myself. The tricky thing about cafe latte flavored shake powders is that besides bananas, flavoring syrups are typically used to flavor them. But I like fruit in my shakes, darn it!

I used to work in a nutrition store, and a really popular shake was the Carmel Latte shake. Wanting fruit plus a little pick me up, I experimented with a Caramel Apple Latte shake.

  • half a fuji apple (about 3/4 cup), chopped, preferrably frozen
  • 1 Tbsp sugar free caramel Torani syrup
  • 1 scoop Herbalife Cafe Latte powder
  • (1/4 tsp xanthum, optional)

Not to shabby…

After Beauty’s escapades, yesterday, and some time to kill before work, I ran to the pet store to get a new name and address tag for her. It was a toss up between a pink heart and and Eagles tag. While she went to pull out the pink heart, she found a pink heart with the Eagles logo on it! Score! I think Beauty has learned her lesson, though, at least for now, because she has been a sleepy pup since she came home. While at the pet store, I also snagged her one of her favorite canned foods, as well as a free sample.

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I felt so silly while on my way to work, today. Its 95 degrees outside and I’m in a long sleeve shirt… in a car without AC…

I swung by Dunkin for an iced coffee on my way to help cool me off. (I wear longsleeved shirts to work because its always cold!!!!) It was much needed!

I arrived at work a bit early, which gave me time to cool off and grab my assignment for the night. I was in a 1:1. That shake this morning really filled me up! I didn’t have much of an appetite at all today! I finished up the left over brussel sprouts from the other night (lightly drizzled with yellow and honey mustard), and celery sticks and peanut butter for snacking. Around 6pm, when I took my dinner, I was very hungry! Luckily, I spotted animal crackers! I don’t care how old you are, but you are never too old for animal crackers!

I was surprised by how hungry I was, but I hadn’t been very hungry since my shake, so I guess I shouldn’t be that surprised. The important part, is that I recognized that I was full and I stopped eating before I lost control. Recovering from binge eating, just like anorexia or bulimia, has no boundaries. Eating disorders can strike anytime, anywhere.

Once my shift ended, I came home and snacked on some Fiber One 80 Chocolate cereal, but soon found myself nibbling on many items. I finally tasted that kick from the KIND Dark Chocolate Chili Almond. After realizing that I was beginning to have a mild binge, I quickly jumped to a warm glass of flax milk and began this post.

Lost Dog

This morning did NOT start the way I had intended. I planned on waking up, having an apple and PB, a cup of coffee, maybe a dip in the pool before heading back home from Barry’s house. Instead, I received a phone call from Frank saying that he can’t find Beauty! Barry and I jumped up, got dressed and bolted onto the highway to get to my parents house.

Has your pet ever gotten out?

It is absolutely the worst feeling! Beauty, my baby, who I’ve had since I was 6 and she was just 3 weeks old… My 15 year old baby… out in this 98 degree weather…. Is she okay? She needs water! Its too hot out here for her! Where is she? God, please bring her back to me. Please let her be okay!

Tears and sweat streaming down my face as Barry, dad, Frank, my neighbor, and I scoured the neighborhood….

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she digs her baths

I was beginning to loose hope as my anxiety and fatigue and dehydration worsened. At last, Barry called my phone and I expected to hear that she was no where to be found. “I’ve got her.” Oh, thank, God!! I ran down the road, back to my car and drove to pick her up. A neighbor put her in the house so she could cool off and had called the ASPCA, since my mom had removed Beauty’s collar. I could not thank the man enough for watching out for her.

I picked her up, thanked the man, profusely, and kissed her, repeatedly, as I carried her to the car. I thought it was funny that he compliment how clean she was…  She loves a good bath!

Exhausted, I grabbed everyone tall glasses of cold beverages, and whipped up pancakes to thank the guys for their help. I, on the other hand, found myself, nibbling on random items… a slice of pineapple, some cantaloupe, a few pieces of cereal, a glass of milk…

Once I ate a cookie, I knew I was emotionally eating. I diverted my attention to job search, going into the yard to weed the garden, studying for the boards, blogging, painting my nails… Anything to take my mind off eating and anything to keep me from feeling guilty…

By the way, Beauty is a bit tuckered out and is currently passed out right in front of the air conditioner vent.

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Once my emotions settled down, and I spent about two hours sending out resumes, I still found myself trying to nibble. I drank a glass of water and began to cook dinner. When I was at the farmers market the other day, I picked up two heads of bok choy. I eat the heck out of this stuff at Chinese restaurants and wanted to try my hand at it. I cut to base and gave the stalks a good rinse, and tossed then, along with a cup of quartered mushrooms and 1 1/2 cups of frozen broccoli florets into a skillet. I poured about 1/4 cup of water and 2 Tbsp of left over garlic sauce on top, covered it and let the vegetables steam over medium-low heat. I debated adding shrimp, which would have been spectacular, but kept it veggie style and dug in with my chop sticks! Delicious! I’m so making this again! And it was sooooo simple!

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By the way, bok choy is seen in many Asian dishes and is in the cabbage family. Here is some more info on the crunchy, cancer-fighting, weightloss veggie!

WP_003124Following dinner, I sugar free fruit cup and spoonful of cottage cheese became dessert.

I also owe, you, readers, an apology. Aside from Zumba, I have not been working out much. The heat, here, has been pretty intense, and I’ve been getting lightheaded a lot lately. I know its not a super excuse from drifting away from fitness posts, but I hope you can forgive me and still find the blog enjoyable and helpful.

Strawberries and Mango

I wanted to make today a mildly productive day, and it was. It began with two super yummy shakes!

When I got down to some random frozen fruit, I diced it all up and made one big frozen fruit salad, containing bananas, apples, and assorted berries. This, combined with chocolate protein mix, made and incredibly delicious and creamy shake for Frank. Since I love froyo, oh, so much, and am constantly topping my sugar free strawberry with chunks of mango, I took the cue.

1 scoop vanilla protein powder

1/3 cup halved, frozen strawberriesWP_002900

2/3 cup cubed, frozen mango

1 Tbsp Torani sugar free coconut syrup

Wowzah! That was a tropical dream!

After my shake and a cup of coffee, I grabbed Beauty and pampered her! She got her nails trimmed and a nice bath! It always amazes me how much a dog can shed! Nonetheless, she got a little pep in her step and went to show off how clean and fluffy she was to Bunny.

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I think that little pep tired this old gal out… nap time for Beauty!!!

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Following her bath, I checked on my discounted pears I had picked up. Perfect consistency for my Bakeri-inspired coffee cake! I’ve cooked for Barry, but never baked for him. I made a slight alteration to the recipe. Rather than layering the thinly sliced apple, I finely diced it and incorporated it into the batter. I then layered the pears, since they cook down a lot easier.

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I did have some pears left over, so I did the same and tossed them into the last layer of batter. I feel like the cake was so much moister this time around, since the juices from the apples were evenly distributed.

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Barry stopped by after work and I gave him some. It must have been good because he didn’t have any left by the end of the night and told me it was “delicious” and that I should feel free to make it anytime.

I did not have much an appetite today… but Frank wanted to take me out for dinner… for sushi… Dilemma. I compromised. We ordered a large hot and sour soup (always with added hot sauce) and a large shrimp with steamed vegetables, with garlic sauce. Much healthier and portion controlled than going to a sushi buffet.

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I love this stuff! I could eat it all day! Its just so refreshing, and I’ve really gotten Frank hooked on the stuff, too!

To finish off my night, a little Zumba! I mentioned last week that the instructor invited me to help lead the class. I did it for the first time, today! It was funny, at first, because I had to remember I needed to be the mirror image of what I usually do. It took a few seconds, but it finally got it. Dancing really gets me going and I think the instructor could tell how much fun I was having. Plus, it makes me go harder knowing that people are watching me, and that if I’m having a good time, they will, too!

After showering off my Zumba stank, and folding some laundry, and posting this post, of course, I will spending the rest of the night in bed sending out resumes.

Buonanotte

Yesterday was a really special day for the Bundos!

All start from the beginning..

I headed off to night shift Thursday night. I totally forgot that it was Kristina’s baby shower! By frozen meal went into the freezer and I went to town on the veggie platter! Debs husband also made this salad that I fo to town on! I don’t know the proportins but its imitation crab, purple onions, sliced mushrooms, buyer, old bay, salt and pepper. It sounds so simple for such a yummy dish! I also treated myself to some funfetti cake.

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When I got home from work, I had every intention of doing to mass. I figured this would be a great opportunity to get in a run. As I got two blocks away from home, the rain started. Its funny… Sometimes the rain makes me feel totally unmotivated. But other times, like yesterday it makes running fun! I ran to Church, and waited outside only to find out there was no mass this morning! On my rainy jog home, I stopped by the cemetery. By the time I got home, I was soaked. But I didn’t really care. I crawled into bed and was out till about 3pm.

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Dad came over for dinner, Friday night, and watched this past Thursday’s episode of Glee. It doesn’t typically watch it, but what a great episode!! I started having flashbacks to Degrassi! I occasionally like to have pizza night, and I’ve reply been getting into Amy’s pizzas as well Kashi! Last night, we had Amy’s Spinach Pizza, to which I added onions and red bell pepper! Sprinkled with a bit or granulated garlic and crushed red pepper flakes… Mmmmmm!

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We had an appointment for 630pm but she asked if we could come back later, as she was running behind. To kill some time, dad and I went to a social club we both belong to. I enjoyed a girlie drink of diet sierra must and citron vodka, while dad got his beer and cherry brandy.

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While at the club, I received a phone call from my mom saying Beauty got out and she couldn’t find her! Needless to say, my heart dropped into my stomach! As I pulled into the neighborhood, I found the pup sniffing around some yards. Thank, God I found her so quickly! She got out in the middle of the night once and it took a food 2 hours to find her. With Beauty safe and sound, and my heart rate finally returning back to a normal speed, dad and I headed back out.

At 840, we arrived back at our appointment. We left with these:

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Wonder Twin Powers, Activate!

Music has always been a connection between my dad and I, through good times and bad, and I’m so glad we were able to get these treble clefs on our wrists together! I couldn’t believe he actually did it! I was shocked! I think I still am shocked!

I also left with this on my left ribs:

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Buonanotte means “goodnight” in Italian; but it has many meanings to me. It was my grandmothers maiden name, the first word she ever taught me in Italian, and the words that my dad whispered to her when she passed away in 2008. This tattoo has been years in the making, and I’m honored to wear her name so close to my heart.