Dark chocolate zucchini bread.

Okay, let’s be honest. Is zucchini not the worst? It’s weird, man. And there’s only like, two ways to cook it and it all tastes the same and even zucchini lovers don’t really LOVE zucchini. Unless it’s in dark chocolate zucchini bread AMIRITE?! Plus you can lie to yourself and tell yourself that this shit is super healthy for you and you are a glorious mermaid taking wonderful care of yourself and your skin will forever glow and your hair will flow and life will be magical.

That’s how good + healthy + easy this bread is. Let’s get going.

Cast of characters:

  • -1.5 cups of shredded zucchini. Place on a paper towel, and then place paper towels on top. Gently squeeze to get rid of extra moisture from it.
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp  baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 vanilla bean-cut in half, with the insides scraped out
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease a loaf pan. I used coconut oil spray & gave it a healthy coat. In a mixing bowl combine the white sugar, brown sugar, vanilla bean innards, and vegetable oil. Mix well. Add in eggs and zucchini & mix again until well combined. Add your flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Stir it all together, baby. Fold in those chocolate chips & pour the batter into your preheated oven. Bake for 45 minutes. Enjoyyyy!

Truth telling.

Okay, so I just read Glennon Doyle Melton’s book, Love Warrior. Have you guys ordered your copy yet? Do it. Do it now. Pause this nonsense and go order it. In her memoir, she talks about how telling the truth can set you free, and lead you to living a more authentic life. It seems like such a simple concept! So why is it actually so difficult to speak our truths about some things? Do we just not want to seem bitchy? Do we want to keep the peace? Do we just want others to like us? …My concern with that last one is this: how much can someone like-even LOVE-us, if they don’t really know us? Are we just living surface friendships? Enough is enough. I am here to speak some truths, however minor they be.

-I don’t sleep well. At night, even though I am exhausted, I never really sleep through the night. I wander around my house like a ghost. Eating snacks, reading books, watching tv. My thoughts, worries, anxieties seem to take over. I don’t understand how my husband can just fall asleep, and stay asleep. Doesn’t he WORRY? Doesn’t he think about every comment he made that day? I do. What if I hurt someone’s feelings? What if I didn’t say the right thing? What if, what if, what if…Then my brain really goes down the rabbit hole.

Heyyyy, it whispers, like a tiny Voldemort. Heyyyy, remember that really embarrassing thing you did nine yearssss ago? Let’ssss think about that. Heyyyy, please find time RIGHT NOW-this is urgent-to think about the following: Your family. Your friendssss. Your car. Your cat. The laundry. The dishessss. Your health. Your health. Your health.

Then that last one starts blinking at me, and I start panicking, and HOW DO PEOPLE SLEEP?! I don’t understand.

-Being an adult is bullshit. Honestly. How much life can one person handle?! We’re supposed to do ALL THESE THINGS OURSELVES?! Why are we getting hungry every night, and I have to make dinner every night, and we run our of clean clothes, and we have to open mail, and make doctor’s appointments, and THEN TAKE OURSELVES TO THE DOCTOR?! WHAT IS HAPPENING?! Whyyy, universe?! And don’t people feel overwhelmed and exhausted just by having to do these things?? I swear, when I open mail and see that something requires my signature, I act like I’ve received a death threat. Why is singing my name something that gives me anxiety?? No, I think. I can’t sign this. I’M not an adult. Where’s an actual adult to sign this? Where’s my mom-my mom’s signatures always made it possible for me to go on field trips at school, it can probably take care of this issue, too.

-IF ONE MORE PERSON TELLS ME THAT I’M AN INSPIRATION, I WILL BARF. Guys. I’m not. I am just a person who keeps putting one foot in front of the other. What’s my other option? To give up? I promise you, that if you got the health news I did, you wouldn’t give up, either. It’s human nature to fight. So please, please, please. I KNOW you mean well. But stop.

-Sometimes I look at all the people who have kids, but don’t deserve them, and I think: Fuck. You. This is so unfair it makes my bones hurt. You are a terrible parent, and I would be a good mom. I hate you.

-Sometimes when  I am super anxious, my brain goes haywire. I start pacing around the house, wondering who made all this mess. WHO LEFT THIS CUP ON THE COUNTER LIKE A DAMN ANIMAL?! WHO DIDN’T PULL THE SHOWER CURTAIN CLOSED?! DO WE WANT MOLD?! WHY DOESN’T EVERYONE CARE THIS MUCH ABOUT PREVENTING MOLD?!?! Oh. It was me. I did both those things, and more. And then I slam the cup in the dishwasher, and I rip the shower curtain closed, because I am embarrassed and upset with myself.

Okay, loves. Those are some of my truths. Now I want to hear yours. Comment, send me private messages, hell, text me! Just one rule: No Judging. None. I will shut that shit down if you try it. Open your heart, and realize that people aren’t perfect, and life is hard, and we’re all just trying our best. Xo.

A love letter about my husband.

I’ve been wanting to write one for a while. And I keep starting, then deleting. Starting, deleting. Because the truth is, no matter what words I write down, they’ll never be enough to describe my love for Matt. No amount of words will be able for me to express how he’s saved my life, made me a better person, and made my life COMPLETE. But, I’m going to try.

I never expected to find a love like Matt gives me. I definitely grew up jaded and irrational about what it would mean to love someone. I expected strings, and conditions to love. And since I also grew up on romantic movies and books, I also expected fireworks, and picnics, and unrealistic expectations. Clearly, I had everything worked out, and I was out to find my Prince Charming, who would spoil me, but ultimately make me unhappy and leave. When none of my tactics worked (shocking!) I became resentful. Obviously, it was everybody else’s fault, for not living up to all of my expectations.

And then came Matt. Friendly, and kind, and as cautious as I was about love. But our friendship and love just happened easily, and smoothly. He made me laugh, he let me be myself. I didn’t have to shield certain parts of myself away, or pretend like I was somebody I wasn’t. I was free to be my authentic self. Loud, and opinionated, hypersensitive and nerdy, and gremlin-esque when I’m hungry or tired. He provided a place of security. There wasn’t a single doubt in my mind about our future on my wedding day.

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But life happens. Although Matt knew about my (multiple) health issues from day 1, this last year has brought something else. Something big, and scary, and daunting. And to two people early on in their marriage together, I know the statistics. 75% of marriages plagued by a chronic illness end in divorce. And I’m not surprised. Marriage is about teamwork, and holding each other accountable. It’s about having a reliable person in your life. It’s knowing that that person is there to catch you when you fall. So what happens when you’re a team member short? What happens if one person falls, but the other person is already sitting out?

However, even with those statistics, I have never doubted Matt, or his love. He is loyal to the end. He has stood, unwavering. While I have fallen, and been sitting out of the game for some time now, he has taken it upon himself to step up even more. He doesn’t make me feel bad for not doing dishes. He never complains about having to do laundry, because it’s downstairs and stairs might as well be a mountain for me. He doesn’t make fun of me for laying in bed ALL DAY, and then being tired at 8:30. He takes me to my doctors appointments, holds my hand when hearing tough news, and he only laughs a little when I’m all drugged out on sedatives, and can’t put a proper sentence together. He has sat in ER rooms for over 12 hours with me. He has helped hook up heart monitors, and lay out pills. He is doing the job of an entire couple most days. He works hard for this family, and never complains. He does more than any other man I’ve ever met, and all while having a better attitude than they usually do. And while it took me a few months for me to get used to having to rely even more so on him than usual, I simply cannot imagine anyone else in his place. I truly believe that only a few men can deal with what he does, and still have a good attitude. Still make jokes, and laugh, and find the good in situations.

Marrying Matt was hands down, the best thing that has ever happened in my life. He has provided me with a place to call home, and someone to call my best friend. He loves my family, and friends, and they love him. I feel extraordinarily lucky to get to call him my husband.

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We loved with a love that was more than love.

Surviving.

This is a small article I wrote for ACCOIN about what it means to me about being a childhood cancer survivor. ACCOIN is a local group here in the Inland Northwest that helps families who have kids in treatment for cancer. They help provide gas cards, grocery cards, hotel vouchers, and most importantly; support. Everyone who works with the organization is somehow connected to childhood cancer-most of them being a parent of a survivor, or a child who has passed. This group is incredibly close to my heart, because they helped me and my family when I was in treatment.

 

When I was three, I was diagnosed with Embryonal Rhabdomyosarcoma. For those of you not familiar with cancer talk, that means; a tumor in my abdomen. Cause unknown. It grew out of my bladder and wormed its way around my insides. Because that’s what cancer does. It worms. It wiggles. It weasels its way into every aspect of your life-even when you try to not let it. One way or another, “cancer survivor” becomes an identity. And I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. I am immensely proud to be a cancer survivor. But GOOD LORD, sometimes I am tired of it all. I am tired of having been sick. I am tired of still being sick. I am tired of having first hand knowledge of what phrases like “port access”, or “long term side effects” mean. I am tired of people calling me brave, or “inspirational.”

For those of you who may already be tired of ME, and this article, and are thinking, “my goodness, she seems bitter”-the truth is-some days, I am. This is honesty. Some days I hurt before my feet touch the ground in the morning. Some days I am so nauseous that I can’t eat anything. Some days I am reminded that I am unable to have a baby, and all because of the cancer and the treatments used to cure me. Yes, some days seem endless and impossible, and I am angry and devastated that I have to spend another day in this body that doesn’t work quite right. But please don’t think that that doesn’t mean I’m not aware of how unbelievably lucky I am. I am blessed beyond compare. I get to wake up next to my husband that God himself picked for me, because no one else in the entire universe could have made a man better suited for me. He is understanding, and caring, and funny, and picks up slack when I simply can’t do anything. I am lucky enough to have parents who are supportive, and love me, and fought hard my entire treatment. I have two sisters who are my best friends in the entire galaxy, who understand me better than I understand myself, and whom I can turn to for any tiny reason. And I have seen amazing things in this world. I have ziplined through a eucalyptus jungle in Hawaii. I have stood at the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris at midnight, and watched the entire city twinkle below. I have stood with my feet in the sands of the most beautiful beach I’ve ever seen in the Gulf of Mexico. I have found that there is hardly a thing that a hot bath in the dark with only candles lit can’t fix. And I wholeheartedly believe that a good cry will always make your heart feel lighter. I have lived an amazing, difficult, wonderful, awful, confusing, INCREDIBLE life.

And that’s what being a cancer survivor has taught me most. You take the good with the bad. No one is going to get out of life without a few bumps and bruises, whether that be to your body or soul. Some people may suffer a few more bumps and bruises. To those people I will offer the following advice:

Be gentle with yourself. Be kind to yourself. Treat yourself the way you would treat a small child. Tell yourself nice things, and eat good food, and take lots of naps, and watch movies that make you think. And then watch movies that don’t make you think. Talk to yourself the way you would talk to your best friend if they came to you and said they were having a hard time. You wouldn’t chastise them, or criticize them. You wouldn’t tell them to keep pulling themselves up by their boot straps. For Pete’s sake, relax! Calm down, take a breath. Treat yourself with some damn respect.

Cry it out. Cry it out, my friends. Loud and proud. God may have made me with a few extra tear ducts, but honestly, I’m pretty sure crying it out is the fix I usually need. Whether they are sad tears, or tears of frustration, my heart always feels lighter, and my head always feels clearer after a good cry.

Find a doctor you trust. Don’t settle for someone just because you’ve “heard good they’re good.” I’ve heard about restaurants that are good, and you know what? It’s not always the case, is it? Find a doctor willing to listen to you, and a doctor who trusts your gut.

And finally, this. Whether you are a survivor yourself, or a parent, sibling, spouse, aunt, uncle, grandparent, next door neighbor of a survivor: HOWEVER YOU FEEL IS OKAY. Feel your feelings! Don’t shove them down into the depths of your belly. That’s how ulcers are formed. (kidding. maybe.) You were born a complex person who feels a thousand ways about a thousand things, and cancer is a HELL of a thing. So if you’re sad, mourn. If you’re angry-that’s okay, too! Just remember to not take your anger out on another person. That helps nobody. Kick boxes, break dishes, throw stuff around in your garage. Whatever you feel about the situation; it’s normal. You’re human. Forgive yourself, if that makes you feel better, and move on. Because sweetheart, time is a wastin’.

I will always be proud of being a cancer survivor. Along with many other emotions. And I will always be grateful for the community that ACCOIN has developed. I’ve met some incredible people through them, many childhood cancer survivors, like myself. And the bond that we share is unbreakable. So, if you’re looking to be friends with a childhood cancer survivor, who apparently cries multiple times a day, watches a lot of movies, and won’t judge you for your feelings, you know where to find me.

 

 

Information about ACCOIN can be found on their website: http://www.acco.org/inlandnw

Brown Butter Cookies.

It’s been a rough month, guys. Thus the absence of myself from here. I’ve been floating in a world of emotions, and feeling kind of lost. SO. What better way to try and slink out of a slump than baking? I realize my last post was a recipe as well, but c’est la vie. I live on the edge. Here’s my recipe for Brown Butter Cookies, which are so good they make you weep.

Cast of characters:

-14 T of unsalted butter

-1&3/4 C packed brown sugar

-2&1/4 C flour

-1/2 t baking soda

-1/4 t baking powder

-dash of salt

-1 egg plus 1 egg yolk

-2 T vanilla

Directions:

First, you’re going to want to brown your butter. If you have never browned butter, you’re missing out on one of the greatest things in life. Put the butter into a saucepan, and put it on Med heat. Then let it do its magic. Swirl the pan around every so often, for about ten minutes. The butter will become a golden color, and smell so deliciously nutty you’ll want to bathe yourself in it. Set it aside to cool for 15 minutes.

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Preheat your oven to 350.

In a stand mixer, add your brown sugar. Once the butter has cooled for the 15 minutes, add it in. Beat with a paddle attachment until really well combined. Resist the urge to drink the batter already.

Add the egg, and then the egg yolk, one at a time, scraping the sides of the bow in between each. Then pour in that vanilla, y’all.

Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix until just combined.

Scoop out onto baking trays, and bake for 10-14 minutes. In my oven, 12 minutes was the magic number.

Then take them out of the oven, and dust with white sugar.

Eat. Enjoy.

Boozy Banana Bread

Woah! It’s been a while. So I figured I’d welcome us back together with a recipe for Boozy Banana Bread. It’s delicious, and it packs a punch. And it’s easy to not make it boozy if you’d like it that way.

Cast of characters:

-3 bananas that are brown + mashed

-1/2 cup melted butter

-3/4 cup of sugar

-1 egg, whisked

-1 tsp vanilla

-1 tsp baking soda

– pinch of salt

-1 1/2 cups of flour

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a bowl, mix all the ingredients together until well incorporated.

3. Pour into a well greased bread loaf pan.

4. Bake 50 minutes.

5. Cool on a rack.

Characters for the topping:

– a stick of butter

-1 cup of brown sugar

– chopped pecans (however much you’d like.)

– 1/2 cup of dark rum

1. Melt butter in  pan over med low heat.

2. Add brown sugar, and let it bubble together.

3. Add pecans. Let it sit and come together for about five minutes, stirring constantly.

4. TURN OFF THE HEAT. Then add the rum. Stir for 30 seconds.

5. Take a long skewer and poke a bunch of holes in your banana bread. Pour the topping mixture over the bread.

6. Slice. Enjoy!

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The art of keeping your shit together.

Everyone experiences grief. There’s no way of being alive and getting around grieving something or someone. People die, pets die, jobs are lost, precious belongings are misplaced-terrible things happen all the time. I’ve experienced plenty of grief in my life, just like the next person.

But once you’re diagnosed with a chronic illness, grief becomes something different. It becomes almost tangible. A constant, nagging, sinking feeling that always seems to be there. I’ve lost a lot of things this year. My job, my health, my independence, parts of my future.

I’ve learned that the grieving process isn’t as easy as crying and yelling and healing. It’s a cycle. A cycle of sadness, anger, denial, and being okay. You experience them, and the cycle starts over. They come randomly and spaced out and they’re a bitch. One day I’ll cry over EVERYTHING. One commercial with a baby in it will leave me weeping. One day I’ll be angry over EVERYTHING, and everyone. One wrong look from someone in a grocery store parking lot will leave me fuming, and yelling at them for no reason. Some days are easy to be full of denial. And other days, I’ll just feel okay. I’ll feel strong enough to get out of bed and take a shower and visit friends and get something done. And then, unexpectedly, the next day will leave me so full of sadness it seems crushing, and overwhelming and impossible to break out of.

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This grief cycle isn’t easy. I’m still learning how to manage it. I’m also learning-and trying SO hard-to be okay with what people say in response to my feelings and situation. I know that they do their best, and what they say is heartfelt and kind. So-if you ever catch me on a day where I’m bursting with anger or sadness, please understand that I’m having a hard time controlling my feelings or responses right now. Bear with me. I’m trying my best. I am learning how to get my shit together.

Pulmonary Hypertension Awareness Month.

Today is November 1, which marks the first day of PH awareness month. This month is important because so few people are aware, or understand this disease. Even as little as a dozen years ago, if someone recieved PH as a dignosis, you were basically sent home to die. There were no medications or treatments. No home oxygen was given, no space on a transplant list.

Times are changing. Slowly. The only way to make headway with this disease-or all rare diseases-is to inform people about it. Make it known. Make sure that people realize it’s not taboo to talk about diseases that are killing people, every day. I’m part of a PH facebook page, and in the last week, an alarming number of people have died in the group. It’s terrifying to know what your future holds with a disease. But in my opinion; all the more reason to talk about things.

PH has changed my life, in almost every single way. It’s redefined how I live, how I can do things, how I want to continue doing things. And that’s not without me trying to maintain my “before” self. But you can’t help it. A diagnosis like this changes everything. But while things aren’t very easy right now, I am doing my best to wholeheartedly believe that if people speak up, and voice their concerns, and their desire to work towards a cure, it can happen.

So-feel free to ask any questions you may have. I won’t be offended, or not answer a single one of them. I’m also posting pictures in case you’d like to post one on your page of whatever social media you love. Use the #pulmonaryhypertension or #pulmonaryhypertensionawarenessmonth.

💙

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Chicken soup for the soul. Literally.

My sister left to fly back to North Carolina this morning and I’m utterly heartbroken. I feel like my stomach has swallowed my heart and has slowly turned it into a tiny nugget of anxiety and sadness. We always have the best time when she’s here. We eat way too much, drink way too much, stay up way too late, and become WAY too competative about board games.

So what do I do when I’m terribly sad? I cook comfort meals and watch Gilmore Girls. No shame in my game. So I thought I’d share one of my favorite recipes. Chicken and cous cous soup. It’s super easy, hearty + delicious.

Cast of characters:

2 chicken breasts

Olive oil

5 cloves of garlic (5 minced, and the whole one set aside)

Jamacian allspice

cayenne pepper

chipotle powder

1 cup pearled cous cous

2 cans of chicken broth

3 limes

1 avocado

Baguette

Cilantro

Directions:

First, preheat the oven to 375. Put the chicken breasts on a baking tray, and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with chipotle powder. Cook for roughly 20 minutes, until cooked through. Shred + place aside.

Slice your baguette to desired thickness, and put in the oven for about 8-10 minutes. Once it’s out rub the pieces with the whole garlic clove. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, pour the two cans of chicken broth in. Heat until boiling. While this is heating, in a larger pot, pour in about 2 Tablespoons of olive oil. Let that heat on medium for one minute, then toss in your minced garlic. Stir that around for 30 seconds, then add your allspice, cayenne, and chipotle powder. I didn’t add measurements of these, because I think how much spice you use should be up to you. I use a LOT of all but the chipotle, because it can be overwhelming. Stir all the spices into the olive oil, and let their flavors bloom. I’d say about 45 seconds should be good. After those are well combined, add your pearled cous cous. Stir it in with all the spices, and olive oil until it starts getting toasty brown. This takes about 2 minutes. Once it’s looking nice and golden, add your boiling chicken broth. Turn the heat down to a simmer and cover. Let that cook until the cous cous is al dente. Add the shredded chicken, and the juice of two limes. Let this mixture simmer for a few minutes. Dish, and add slices of avocado, a couple good dashes of tobasco, and cilantro, if you like it. Some people say cilantro tastes like soap but I am not one of those people. And there you have it!

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Now if you excuse me, Gilmore Girls and this soup are calling my name.

Meet Oscar.

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This handsome devil is Oscar. He’s a Russian Blue, anxiety ridden, bottomless pit of a cat. He prefers my husband to me, will always drink my water out of my glass if I leave it on the floor, and will immediately slink under the bed at the sight of people walking up the sidewalk. He enjoys waking me up at 4 am to be fed, and will chase a laser pointer for 1.3 minutes before he gets tired. He spends a good portion of the day grooming himself, and therefore has the softest fur of all time. I love him.