Happiness Project#85: Minestrone Soup!


I can’t believe that it’s already 2017. Because of how grueling chemotherapy has been these past 6 months, I honestly never thought I’d make it to the new year. But, thanks be, I did it. I survived 6 months of terrible, horrible, no good, very bad endless days, and endless nights of fear, anxiety and pain. All FINALLY done and over with. Which means no more weekly rounds of chemotherapy drugs, no more pills to help me sleep, or eat, or control the nausea and pain. No more hospital stays. NO MORE CHEMOTHERAPY. Because as of right now, I am CANCER FREE! And though I’ll be starting a drug that blocks all estrogen growth within my body, in the hopes to stop the reemergence of my cancer, I am FINALLY back to being me. Back to being independent. Back to living.

I can honestly say that although I was NOT a very good cancer patient, and struggled desperately with mind numbing depression and anxiety, two things became very clear to me within this past half year.

Firstly, I am nothing without my family. My Mom, my Dad, my Mother & Father-in-law, my sisters, my husband, my daughter. No one else saw or understood the many (horrible) things that I endured. My family, who out of everyone else within my small circle of family & friends, were truly & fully there for me, every step of the way through it. Without them, I doubt I would have made it through.

Secondly, I pray that I will never take for granted any of my own independence, ever again. For 6 months, I wasn’t able to drive, or clean, or cook, or be with my own furry kids (my dog & 3 cats, who remained at my own house while my husband, daughter and I lived with my Mother). In nearly every way possible, I lost all tangible forms of independence. Which was horrible. Truly horrible. Something which I am totally ecstatic to have back. Like you wouldn’t believe.

So to celebrate being back in my own little house this week, surrounded by my 3 furry kids, I was super excited about throwing together this new slow cooker Minestrone Soup recipe! Specifically for my husband, as a small thank you for everything he endured last year. Because what says love more than a lovely bowlful of warm, homemade soup? Not much else.

Here’s how, you too, can give some love back to your own loved ones:

3 to 4 red potatoes, cubed

2 stalks of celery, diced

3 carrots, peeled and sliced

1 large red or white onion, sliced and diced

1 can of diced tomatoes

3 cans of tomato sauce

2 cups vegetable broth

1 can of red kidney beans, drained

1 can of green beans, drained

pinch of salt & pepper

1 box seashell pasta

1 cup shredded parmasean cheese, optional for garnish

Firstly, slice, dice and cube the potatoes, carrots, celery and onion. Cook the cubed potatoes, and the seashell pasta, in separate pots, until just fully cooked through. Drain each pot and set each ingredient aside.

Set your slow cooker to high, for 2 to 3 hours, and add in the can of diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, vegetable broth, kidney beans, green beans, carrots, celery and onion. Stir together until well mixed. Sprinkle in salt and pepper. Now add in the potatoes and seashell pasta. Let all of the ingredients cook together for the full 2 to 3 hours.

Spoon out into desired serving bowls and garnish with a handful of parmesan cheese!

And enjoy! This wonderful vegetable soup may soon become one of your favorite winter soups, too!

Happy 2017, my friends!







Happiness Project #84: Chocolate Peanut Butter Milkshake!



It’s been 3 months since starting chemotherapy, and it’s been, without a doubt, the most difficult experience I’ve ever faced. I’m rarely feeling well enough to make it outside more or less whip up new blog posts. And I miss my life before cancer, in every way imaginable.

However, despite now normal neuropathy of my legs yesterday (where it’s painful to walk or stand), I was determined to share my newest, highly decadent milkshake, made with two of my favorite flavor combinations (a favorite combination to most everyone else, too): peanut butter and chocolate! Because you can’t go wrong with peanut butter and chocolate, right? Especially with a recipe THIS easy!

Here’s all you’ll need:

3 scoops natural chocolate ice cream (whatever your favorite brand)

3/4 cup creamy peanut butter

1-1/2 cups whole milk

*cut up pieces of recesses peanut butter cups for garnish, optional

In a blender, combine all three ingredients and pulse a few minutes until fully combined and smooth. Depending on the size of your serving glasses, you’ll be able to serve 2 to 4 cupfuls.

This is a very thick milkshake so you’ll easily be able to use a spoon while indulging in it.

And can add or stir in cut up pieces of recesses peanut butter cups or mini milk chocolate chocolate chips as an additional garnish, too. Though not necessary. Trust me.


Butterfly Brave: my fight continues…

It’s been a while. Since I’ve talked about this battle I’ve been fighting. Because most of how I feel is dark and sad and very broken. So I don’t talk much about it. This darkness that has overcome me. It’s now been nearly 3 months since my diagnosis, and I’ve undergone 4 chemotherapy sessions, with […]

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Happiness Project#83: The Fruitastic Breakfast Smoothie!

  Let’s talk about smoothies. Or milkshakes. Or maybe both. Since starting chemotherapy 4 weeks ago, my taste buds have gone, well, a wee bit wacky. Many of the things that I used to love to indulge in, I simply don’t love anymore. Like coffee and chocolate. I know. Two things that simply don’t taste […]

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Butterfly Brave! A lesson in eggs!

Beautiful, farm fresh eggs. With lovely speckled shells and thick (perfect) yolks. A dream for hard core bakers and pastry chefs like me. Every (rather infrequent) time I get my hands on fresh organic eggs like these, my heart sings a little (okay, a lot) like it’s Christmas Eve. In July. Since it IS July. […]

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Happiness Project#81: Broccoli Salad with a side of Chemo!

3 weeks ago I went in for my 7th surgery. To remove another tumor. But things didn’t quite go as planned or expected. Instead of leaving the operating room with one less adrenal gland, I ended up leaving without a full kidney as well. Though I wasn’t told WHY I had unexpectedly lost a kidney […]

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Happiness Project: 3 Days

I’m just 3 days shy of going in for my 7th major surgery in 11 years. To remove my 6th tumor. This one being a 7cm tumor engulfing my adrenal gland. And no matter that I’ve undergone so many major surgeries, it never gets easier. I always go through short bouts of nerves and anxiety […]

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Happiness Project#80: Summer Peach Smoothie!

Summer is officially upon us. Can you tell how excited I am? Yeah, not so much. Menopause, my friends. Menopause is just not fun in 90 degree heat. However, you know what I do LOVE about the summer? Playdates for my Daughter. Because not only are other preschool children out of school, but my Daughter’s […]

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Happiness Project#79: Lemon Ice Cream Cake!

Adult friendships are, well, difficult. To put it lightly. I’ve been incredibly lucky to have three very close adult friends in the last 20 years, two of which live out of state from me. And because of my naturally reclusive nature, made even more so since becoming bi-polar, with an anxiety disorder, it’s not easy […]

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Happiness Project#78: Chocolate Chip Monkey Bread!

In light of the recent tragedy at the Cincinnati Zoo last weekend, this chocolate chip monkey bread recipe apparently was calling my name. Or my heart perhaps. And I couldn’t resist it’s pull. The frenzy (& madness) that flooded social media after the tragic killing of the zoo’s incredibly popular silverback gorilla, Harambe, has drawn […]

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