My news feed has been filled with things about “Self-Care” lately. Now, admittedly I’m not the most open-minded person I know. But, it just seemed so ridiculous for a new mom to concern herself with any sort of “Self-Care”. “How selfish”, I thought.
We had a rough week last week with the baby being sick. It’s totally thrown his whole sleeping schedule out of whack. He wakes up very early, doesn’t like to nap, and gets bored easily. I have been exhausted to a point that I’ve never felt before. My husband asked me last night if I wanted him to take the baby to daycare in the morning. I hesitated, and then said yes. I immediately felt guilty. I had to work the closing shift today. I went in at 4 and didn’t get home until 2am. I knew I needed sleep but it didn’t matter. Guilt of a parent is palpable at times.
As my husband pulled out of the driveway this morning, our son in the backseat, I almost ran after him. I didn’t want the baby to go to daycare. I missed him the second they were out the door. But he needed to. For all of us.
I had a list a mile long of things that needed to be done today. Clothes put away, closets cleaned out, carpets washed. Yada, yada, yada. I didn’t get the carpets washed. That’s on the docket for tomorrow. Instead I did something I love. Something I’ve been wanting to do but haven’t had the energy or time in several months. I tried a new recipe and made something from scratch.
It came out of the oven looking like absolute perfection. And all was right in the world. It centered me, inspired me, excited me. I guess this whole Self-Care stuff isn’t such bologna after all.
Tomorrow I’m going to buy a book. Maybe a new cookbook. Reading is another thing I love that I haven’t taken the time to do. And if that isn’t the epitome of optimism for a new mom, well then, I don’t know what is.
1 1/2 cups All purpose flour
1/2 tsp Baking powder
1/2 tsp Baking soda
1/2 cup Brown sugar, lightly packed
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 pinch Nutmeg
1/2 tsp Salt
1 cup Milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla extract
1/2 cup Canola oil
1/2 cup Greek yogurt, plain
1 cup Shredded Zucchini
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Butter and flour a 9 x 5 loaf pan and set aside.
In a large bowl mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, oil, both sugars, greek yogurt and vanilla extract until combined.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and fold gently. Do not over mix.
Fold in the zucchini and chocolate chips.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 20 minutes.
Take the loaf out of the pan and allow it to cool completely on a wire rack.
If any of you would like to share how you “Self-Care”, I’d love to read it. Or if you have a good book to recommend, I’m all ears. Well… Eyes.
I have been working on this post for weeks. Today, I decided to start over. My post was long, and unnecessarily so. It didn’t accomplish what I had wanted it to. It’s tone and the overall message was lost with every paragraph. So here we are. At the beginning.
One year ago, my brother was in an accident. It has been a long three hundred and sixty-five days. I don’t want or need to rehash every sad, upsetting detail. But, I do want to share with you all some of the more poignant moments and some observations that have stuck with me over the last year.
I remember when I got the call from JJ’s foreman, Ian. But more so, I remember the phone call I got from dad shortly after. I asked Ian if JJ was alive. When he answered “yes”, there was no denying the uncertainty voice. I knew what he was saying without saying it. I knew what the tone of that “yes” meant. JJ WAS alive when I left him, but I don’t know if he still is. My dad asked me the same question just minutes after. I wanted to be strong and say sternly, confidently “Yes!” but the words had, unintentionally, come out the exact same way Ian had said it. Unconvincingly.
After I arrived at the hospital, I talked with the nurses and then found the ICU waiting room. I opened the door and was immediately taken aback. The people in the room were talking loudly, laughing, eating. All these things, I couldn’t fathom happening in a place like that. This was supposed to be a place of tragedy, a place for reflection, prayer, and quiet whispered voices. I hated the waiting room with every ounce of my being. I couldn’t stay in there. I honestly, truly couldn’t. Luckily, there was a private waiting room we were told we could use. And by god we did. It was supposed to be for doctors to have consultations with the family of patients. I thought about the tough questions asked and some even tougher answers given in that room. I prayed that that wouldn’t be us. We stayed in that room for three days. And just when we had gotten a little less sad, enough to where we could tolerate talking, and smiling we gave up the room to someone who needed it more. It didn’t last long, we were back in there by day 5. The day JJ’s artery gave out.
That first night, we had been told, that it was going to be a long one. The first time we got to talk to a doctor was around 8 or 9 that night. JJ had been in surgery since one o’clock. Dr. Brown told us that he was the orthopedic surgeon that had been working on JJ. He was impressed with the double femur break JJ had suffered. He said that if you had to have a broken femur (or 2) this is the way to do it. It was a clean break. Flat across. He told us that the bones would be able to fuse with little to no problem, he believed. He said that if all this injury was, was a couple of broken femurs, JJ would be out of here in a few days. But that, as we would come to know, wasn’t the case.
A few hour later we got to talk to the second surgeon. He told us what he had seen and maybe more importantly, what he hadn’t. JJ had lost a lot of tissue, muscle, nerves, and lots of blood. He went through 107 units that day. But most distressing were his arteries. They were completely shredded. I asked the doctor if there was anything I could do. If there was anything that he could take from me to give to J. I told him that he could have whatever he wanted. The doctor smirked and shook his head a little. I could tell he had thought of it. I have no doubt. Maybe not my arteries specifically, but someones. His face said it all. That very thought had come to him. I didn’t delve any deeper. But my father and I both let him know in no uncertain terms that whatever JJ needed, we were happy to give.
At 2 am we were told that they were wrapping up the surgery and they’d be bringing JJ up soon. From the room we were in we could see JJ’s. We stood on chairs, we craned our necks. Did whatever we had to do so we could catch a glimpse of him. And at 3:30, they told us we could go in to see him. He didn’t look like himself. He was so swollen. But I have never been so happy to see someone in my entire life. We asked the prognosis. Torn between the desire to know and the dread that may come with the answer. JJ was, without a doubt, still in critical condition. When the doctor talked about the prognosis, he wasn’t referring to if he would lose a leg or both, it was if JJ would survive. I will never forget that moment.
After a few days JJ had started to come to. Never for long, only a few minutes and then he’d be back to sleep. But when he was awake, he wanted to communicate. It was a tall order with the breathing tube in. Someone got him a small dry erase board. He would try and write something, sometimes falling asleep in the middle of writing, and we would be left with the task of deciphering it. We may as well have been decoding ancient hieroglyphics. And when we couldn’t figure it out, we would start guessing like we were playing a game of charades. Is that an I? No? Ok, is it an L? No? Shit, is it a J? Nope. Then after a minute or two, when all of the energy he had, had drained out of him, he would let his hands drop from equal parts exhaustion and frustration and his eyes would fill with tears and he would shake his head as if to say “I give up”. That was, without a doubt, one of the hardest parts for me. There he was helpless, relying on us to help him, and I couldn’t. I was not a good guesser.
One of the first things that we were able to read was the word “boots”. Mom said, “your boots are right here, J. On the shelf”. She showed them to him. The sense of confusion on his face was unmistakable. My mom and I looked at each other. She knew right away why he was confused. Call it mothers intuition. She said “J, your boots are fine. Your feet didn’t go into the chipper.” His eyebrows became unfurrowed, almost like at that very second, everything came back to him. In fact, one night after the boots incident, mom asked him if he remembered the accident. He nodded as best as he could, and then wrote: “They didn’t believe me.” Later he would explain what he had meant. When his co-worker had been on the phone with 911, JJ told him to tell the dispatcher to get life flight started. He knew that they carried blood on the helicopter and that he was going to need it. But what he either didn’t know or didn’t think about at the time, is that patients can’t request life flight, it has to come from the paramedic.
The hardest day was undoubtedly the day JJ’s right leg artery gave out. It was the first Monday after the accident. The nurses would come in every few hours and pull out this black box that had a stethoscope in the shape of a pen connected it to it. They would put it on the top of JJ’s feet, one by one, and move it around until they heard a swishy sound. That sound was his pulse. That day, they had checked it before he went down to surgery. A process we had already come to know well. And when he would come back. One nurse tried, then another. No swishy sound. They called for the doctor. The room was silent.
The doctor confirmed what we all had suspected. At the very beginning, we had been told that the repair to his arteries was a kind of one and done deal. They weren’t sure if the gore-tex that had put in would hold. Each leg had a 50/50 shot they told us. But it didn’t matter. We wanted a second opinion. We asked that his file be sent to mass Gen to see what they said. JJ had woken up, and I think it was dad who explained the situation to him. He took it well. You could tell he understood and agreed.
A couple of hours later a report came back from Boston. There was nothing that could be done. The right leg would have to be amputated. We cried. A lot. I went to the chapel for a while. Eventually, we all reconvened in JJ’s room. J woke up and motioned for his dry erase board. He wrote, what I made out to be “ambulance or helicopter.” He wanted to know how he was getting to Boston. I read it aloud so he could confirm my guess. He did. This was, for me, the hardest moment of JJ’s hospital stay. I looked at him and said “J, you’re not going to Mass Gen. I’m so sorry. They said that there was nothing they could do.” He stared at the ceiling for a minute, cried only a couple of tears, and fell back asleep.
Not long after, the doctor came back in to explain the procedure for the amputation. We were all listening intently when I looked over and noticed JJ had woken up and was listening too. The doctor started over from the beginning to make sure J heard everything he had said. Nurses came in to start the pre-op prep like they had done earlier. They gave J and an extra dose of whatever powerful concoction he was already on. He fell asleep immediately. One of them asked dad to sign a piece of paper allowing them to amputate. And that, I have no doubt, was dad’s toughest moment. He said he didn’t want JJ to hate him for making that decision. For signing that piece of paper. More tears came.
Now, looking back, the days that follow sort of melt together in a way. But certain moments stick out. The bigger ones, certainly more at the beginning and then start to taper. Like when he got his breathing tube out. There was a nurse on duty that J had taken a liking to. He said to her, “Can I ask you a personal question? Why do I get the feeling that you like me?” Listen, I’ve seen my brother interact with women, and I must say, this was, surprisingly, one of his more charismatic moments.
One of the only times I have seen JJ cry was one of his first nights in his regular room. Everyone was concerned about his mental state. Probably because we were all such a mess we assumed he must be too. It was just him and I and I can’t remember the exact wording I used but I asked him what and how he was feeling. He told me that the hardest part was that he would never be a firefighter again. He cried real hard, and so did I. I told him that if there was something he wanted to do, then he would figure out a way to do it. I had. and still have, no doubt of that. I found a video of a firefighter in Ohio who had an amputation almost exactly like JJ’s. He had been outfitted with a special prosthetic that worked perfectly. He wasn’t on light duty, the guy was fighting fires. I watched J watch the video and then we cried some more.
On Sundays, we would have football parties in his room. We’d bring a cooler and whatever JJ wanted to eat. He had lost so much weight. He was already thin and didn’t have much to lose. When he was able to eat, which was about once or twice every other day, he didn’t eat much. He wanted a special soup. We always called it green soup. Our nanny would make it for us. Kruno went and bought every box Hannaford had. That’s what he’s eating is this picture. He was so happy to have that green soup.
Next came his time at Spaulding. They do some truly amazing work there. And JJ was the incredibly lucky to be the recipient of some of that amazing work. He has said several times that he doesn’t believe he’d be this far along if he hadn’t have gone there. It was hard, him being so far away, but it was for the best. We all knew it. I got this photo one day while I was at work.
I was so proud. JJ has made us all very proud throughout this experience. His resolve has been something to be admired. He would be a great role model for someone who’s gone through a similar experience.
He has worked very hard to get to where he is. I got to go with him to a physical therapy appointment a few months ago. To the naked eye, the unknowing person, it may have looked like he wasn’t doing much. Lifting a leg up and down, moving side to side. But to us, to know where he had been such a short time ago. The condition he was in. How hard he worked. It was nothing short of a miracle. We almost lost him…a few times. But here he is.
So many moments and memories stick out. Things that I want to share. But this post has again, turned out to be very long. They will have to be told at a later time. Maybe on his two year anniversary. The weird thing is, and I think I can speak for most of my family. We are now running on a different calendar. To me, and I’d bet to JJ too, tonight at midnight, marks a new year. With I’m sure, more milestones to conquer and mountains to move. He will continue to progress and heal, hopefully sharing his progress along the way. This past year JJ has been the recipient of more prayers and blessings then could ever be counted. And for that, our family is so incredibly grateful.
I remember a few years ago I read an article that talked about an art gallery opening. The layout of the event was set up like a person’s house. With several different rooms, all with different types of artwork in them. One of the spectators arrived via skateboard, and instead of carrying it around with him, left it leaning against one of the hallway walls close to the entrance. Everyone that arrived after him, stopped to photograph his skateboard. They all perceived it as a work of art.
When it comes to art, I am a novice at best. I know nothing about it. But there seems to be a lot of it. And it’s got me thinking… Who has to perceive something as art for it TO BE art? And better yet: Who has to perceive you as something for it to be true and does it matter?
When I first read about the Fearless Girl statue. I was immediately drawn to her. I read every story I could find that mentioned anything about her. I don’t consider myself a feminist necessarily, or an art connoisseur by any means, but everything about this bold, brazen sculpture spoke to me. The artist was able to make this statue convey gumption in the most subtle yet unequivocal way.
There is a lot of controversy surrounding this pony-tailed, little girl. Specifically, how she was placed in relation to the iconic Charging Bull. The male artist who created the seven thousand pound symbol of American power and resilience pitched quite the fit about the girl. Stating that the female artist who made this tiny, in comparison, 250-pound Fearless Girl statue had “altered the perception of the bull” because of where and how she was placed. Facing the bull. He isn’t entirely wrong. The statue had accomplished everything the artist had set out to do. Everything about Fearless Girl was very intentional. The artist said, “I made sure to keep her features soft, she’s not defiant, she’s brave, proud and strong, not belligerent”. And I think the artist was able to perfectly emulate that.
I’ve been thinking about how I’m perceived a lot lately. If people’s perceptions of me and even my own are an actuality. Everyone wants to see themselves in a favorable light, but is that the truth? I haven’t been reaching my potential professionally. And while some of the fault undoubtedly rests on my shoulders, I believe it is also a product of my environment.
I’ve decided it’s time for a career change. I don’t fit in in the wealth management industry. I am not naturally meek or mild, but this position has forced me to be both in some instances. I don’t like it. It makes me uncomfortable. I feel unsure almost every day. In most of the things I do. Except when I’m talking to clients. That’s when I’m at home. I’m confident that whatever they need, I can help them. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll put on my Nancy Drew hat and work tirelessly until I find it and report back. I’ll conquer the unknown happily and fearlessly. Because I know that when I do, the client will be thankful. I will have helped them accomplish something they couldn’t have done on their own. And that is a great feeling.
One of the things I miss the most in my current position is being part of a team. I guess technically, I am. But Just because someone says “you’re apart of the team!” doesn’t make it so. That means they may think of you as that, but if no actions are there to support this thought, then does it matter how they perceive it? Shouldn’t how I feel carry some weight? Whose perception is correct?
Over the last couple months, I’ve had several interviews. And recently, I have had 2 men, in a hiring position, tell me that I “seem like I can be a bitch when necessary”. They aren’t wrong, I guess. I like to get shit done. But, I didn’t love how the word “bitch” hit my ear. One person immediately felt bad and said: “I mean that as a compliment”. And that’s how I had taken it. I think that’s how some people perceive being strong and taking charge. When and how people use that word can and do have different connotations. Whether that’s right or wrong, well, I guess it depends on the perceiver…
I have been offered an amazing position. One that I am so excited about it gives me chills. It’s at a fantastic company run by an incredible group of successful, intelligent women. I didn’t know if I was going to get it honestly. The interview process was intense. And I don’t know if I was necessarily the best candidate on paper. But as it would turn out, after 5 meetings, and hours of some of the most self-reflective questions I have ever been asked, they chose me. And I know that I won’t have to be meek or mild. I won’t have to feel like an outsider. I’m going to be a part of a team. Like, for real this time. I can be confident, tough, determined. All of the things that The Fearless Girl and I were meant to be.
These have to be the easiest and most delicious cookies I have ever made. The most important thing to keep in mind is, to use exactly what the recipe calls for. Now, this isn’t my normal way of cooking. I like to improvise. And I tried to a couple of times with this recipe and was disappointed with the outcome each time. So, with that in mind, are you ready?
2 cups milk chocolate chips
1, 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
1, 14 oz bag of sweetened coconut flakes
2/3 cup of slivered almonds
Preheat oven to 325°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. You HAVE TO use parchment paper. Not wax paper. If you do, they won’t come out right.
Mix all ingredients together well. If you’re like me, and second guess things sometimes. This will be one of those times. I guarantee you’re going to think “this can’t possibly be enough milk. It’s too dry!” I hear ya. But, don’t add any more. They’ll still taste good but will look weird if you do.
Size doesn’t really matter when arranging them on the pan whereas the cookies don’t spread out during baking. You can use either a tablespoon or teaspoon. I like mine to be smaller, so I generally use a teaspoon or a pampered chef cookie dough scoop.
Put in the oven for 12-14 minutes or until the coconut starts to turn a light brown.
And that’s it. Like I said, super easy recipe. I hope you love them! Whats the easiest recipe you know?
When I was wracking my brain trying to come up with blueberry recipes, I remembered making ice cream in a bag back in my 10th grade biology class. Unfotunately, that may have been the only thing that stuck with me from that class. But, I thought that the recipe was would be perfect to share here. Now, the recipe itself is easy, but you may want to skip arm day at the gym before making this. You are about to get one hell of a workout.
2 Cups half and half
4 Tbs sugar
1 Tsp vanilla extract
2 cups of blueberries
You will also need:
1/2 Cup kosher salt
1 Gallon size Ziplock bag
Several plastic shopping bags.
Fill one of the shopping bags about half way with ice. Keep in mind, it’s going to leak so I highly recommend double or triple bagging it. Pour the kosher salt over the ice and let sit while making the ice cream mixture. In a food processor, pour in the half and half, blueberries, sugar and vanilla and mix on high for a few minutes. Pour mixture into ziplock bag and seal tightly. Place the ziplock bag into the shopping bag with ice. Shake for 10 minutes. You’re arms will get tired, and time will go by slow, and you’ll worry that you did something wrong when it doesn’t harden. Keep shaking. I found that tying the shopping bag and rolling it on a table worked well too. Once you feel the consistency get harder, pour mixture in a freezer safe container. And there ya have it. Enjoy!
When we found the blueberry bushes in our yard, my mind immediately started racing. I don’t really care for the texture of most fruits, blueberries included. So I needed to be a little creative in what I made out of them. My first thought was jam. I had already been on a toast and jam kick for a while, so it was perfect.
A few months ago, my grandfather spent some time at our house. In the morning, I would ask him what he’d like for breakfast. It was always the same thing, toast with jam and coffee. Normally, at home, he’d tell me, he would only have one piece. But, since he was at our house, he’d have two pieces of toast. I don’t know what it is about our house. Maybe because it’s a few hours away from his, he felt like he was on vacation? He wanted to let loose a little bit. I know when I’m on vacation I usually eat more than I do normally. Anyways, because of that, a breakfast of two pieces of toast is now known as the Bampie Special at our house.
I have never made jam. Initially, the process seemed daunting. Just the set up alone was intense. I knew there had to be an easier way. I just had to find it. And luckily, I did. It’s called Freezer jam. It’s delicious. And this is how I made it.
2 Cups blueberries
2 cups sugar
Half a lemon
1 package of fruit pectin
1/2 cup water
6, 8oz ball mason jars
In a bowl, combined blueberries, sugar and juice from the halved lemon. Use a potato masher to smush (that’s very technical kitchen lingo) the ingredients together. Once sufficiently smushed, let sit for 15 minutes. While that’s doing it’s thing, pour water and pectin packet in a small sauce pot and heat to boiling while stirring constantly. Boil and stir mixture for 1 minute. Combined the pectin mixture with the blueberries and stir constantly for 3 minutes.
Pour into mason jars and let stand at room temperature for 24 hours or until the mixture has set. Then, put in freezer for up to 6 months.
Also, I bet this mixture would be amazing in a homemade pop-tart. Check out my homemade Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop Tart recipe to get started. Just put this blueberry lemon jam inside instead of the brown sugar cinnamon mixture. And instead of adding cinnamon to the icing, use lemon zest. Man, I’m already super excited to try this out later this week. If anyone makes either of these recipes, I would love to hear how they turned out!
I found some blueberry bushes on our property a few weeks ago. We only have 2 acres. But those two are filled with apple trees, blackberry bushes, a pear tree and several blueberry bushes. Most of which we didn’t know about before we bought the house.
A few weeks ago, when we found the blueberries, we had already missed out on the first round to ripen. Hundreds of blueberries littered the ground. But that didn’t matter much. Our first haul garnered six and a half pounds of some of the biggest blueberries I have ever seen.
I don’t even really like blueberries. I mean, they’re alright. But finding them, picking them and cleaning them has brought something out in me that I didn’t know was there. A foragers instinct that I’ve never explored. Every few days I’ll go and survey the land. I’ll take my colander just in case anything is ready to be picked. I’ll stop by my pear tree, check on the one pear that still hangs. At one time there were 2 pears on it, but something got one of them. After I confirm that the pear, is in fact, still in the tree, I move on to the blueberry bushes. I pick what I can. Trying to contain my excitement at the bounty so as to not pick any before they’re ready.
Next, I move on the apple trees. When we did our home inspection before we bought it last year, our inspector was pretty impressed by how old the trees appeared to be. Upon inspection of the apples, some research, and a professionals opinion we have concluded that these are Baldwin apples. One of the oldest types of apples there is. First introduced to Maine in the late 1700’s. They are great for making pies, apple sauce, and cider. A couple of friends came over for dinner the other night and they tried some of the apples. The smaller one they tried was still tart, but the bigger one was sweet. They should be great for baking.
I told my husband the other day that I wanted to be a farmer. He looked concerned. I assured him that I meant as a hobby, not a profession. We are going to work our way up to getting some chickens next spring, I think. In the meantime, I wanted to make sure I could keep something alive, other than humans and dogs. So I started a herb garden. So far so good. Much better than my succulent garden last year.
As the weather changes and fall creeps in, the thought of all the baking and cooking possibilities with these provisions gets me even more excited for fall than I usually am. I’ve already tried out a few recipes that I’m excited to share here soon. So keep your eyes peeled for: