Happiness Project #86: Dragon Flyers Iced Lemonade!

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Mothers Day this year was truly MAGICAL! This was the first Mothers Day where I was healthy enough to go out and celebrate Mothers Day with my little family of 3. Which is a testament to where I’ve been and how very far that I’ve come.

What made it most US though, was how it wasn’t about flowers, or breakfast in bed, or jewelry, like a vast majority of other Mothers seem to want. Nor did I care about having an empty kitchen sink, or the laundry done. To me, those things are well…just things, that don’t really make any day more special than the last. I’m okay with a messy house on Mothers Day. A messy house means I’m doing something far more important (than worrying about cleaning) with my sassy little 4 year old daughter: spending real, uninterrupted time with her. Doing something that she loves. Which in turn, I love.

Which meant spending the day at our favorite local amusement park & zoo! Which was planned for the Friday before Mothers Day Sunday instead, so that we wouldn’t be slammed with massive crowds. Since I’ve become so much of a social introvert when it comes to being out in public places, the smaller, more familiar places, the better. Something that thankfully, my husband understands very well about me.

Anyhow, one of my daughter’s favorite rides at HH, is Dragon Flyers, where an adult passenger, with a child passenger, strap themselves into a dragon shaped flyer, pedaling themselves up & down, while the ride is in motion. Hence something akin to controlled “flying.” To say that this is my daughter’s favorite ride, is a major understatement though. Considering how she would “fly” in this ride ALL day long, if I let her. All. Day. Long. No joke.

Once we had finished “flying” and enjoying the parks other little kiddie rides, my husband and little girl enjoyed a couple of turns on the park’s lovely carousel, while I relaxed on a bench, in the sun, watching them. And while I was sitting on that bench, reviling in the moment, I realized how very blessed I was. Blessed to be healthy enough to be OUT at that favorite park, enjoying the day with my two favorite people.

Back in January, after I had finished chemotherapy, and had started living my life again, my little girl & I had gone to the same amusement park, just the two of us. But because I was so recently out of treatment, and in remission, I was still only functioning around 60%. So it was physically very difficult to run her around in her stroller at that point. Yet on this Mothers Day trip, everything was different. I WAS able to run her around in her stroller, and visit the lower area of the zoo, without exhaustion leaving me completely immobile. Being able to DO all of the “normal” physical things again, was truly exhilarating. And once again, life was reminding me of how very fleeting, and uniquely precious that it is. Something to never be taken for granted.

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To end such a perfect Mothers Day, the three of us, along with our 2 stealthy cats, and easily excitable dog, played hide & go seek until bed time rolled around. A game that is fast becoming one of my daughter’s favorite bedtime activities.

Oh! And just to add a bit of extra sweetness to the day, my little girl & I created this lovely Frozen Lemonade recipe together! A refreshing little indulgence right before bedtime!

May you and yours also celebrate many happy days together, with this yummy citrusy drink!

Juice from 3 lemons

Zest of 1 lemon

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 cup cold water

3 cups ice cubes

Throw all of those ingredients into a blender, and pulse together for a couple of minutes, until your frozen lemonade is nice & slushy. You can add in another tablespoon or two of  granulated sugar to the mix, if you like a sweeter taste.

Serve immediately, or freeze for a more frozen texture.

I hope that all of the Mommies out there also had a wonderful, fulfilling Mothers Day! No matter how difficult life may get, I pray that you are always SEEN for the many, beautiful  little things that you do for those closest to you, and that you are always LOVED for every little part of who you are.

Happiness Project #84: Chocolate Peanut Butter Milkshake!

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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.

 

Happiness Project#83: The Fruitastic Breakfast Smoothie!

 

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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 like coffee, or chocolate anymore. Truly saddening, right? *sigh* I can only hope that next year, one I’ve completed chemotherapy, I’ll finally be able to enjoy both of these Mom “staples” again.

Until then, I’ve developed a list of things that I DO truly still enjoy right now. Mashed Potatoes, White Rice, Buttered Toast, Broccoli, Snap Peas, Peaches, Grapes and best yet, Strawberries! Can I get a hallelujah for strawberries?? Whew. Thanks Be. So to celebrate the list of things that I DO still enjoy indulging in, I’ve been on a smoothie/milkshake making frenzy! Because somehow, this Mama is determined to create the BEST fruity mix!

After a couple of trail & errors, I’m overjoyed to say that I’ve finally got it JUST right! And I truly know so, after my 3-1/2 year old came running up to me in the kitchen, hugging my leg while saying, “You make the best smoothies, Mommy!” Yeah, I nearly crumbled up into a giant puddle of love right then and there. Thanks Be for my greatest fan: my beautiful, sassy, enthusiastic Little Girl. She makes everything better.

Anyhow, back to this smoothie. Or milkshake, since true to any classic milkshake, this does incorporate milk.  You ready for one of the fruitiest breakfast drinks you’ll ever come across? Let’s do this! You’ll need:

2 cups fresh, rinsed and sliced strawberries

1 cup fresh, sliced peaches, either white or yellow, your choice

1/2 cup sliced banana

1-1/2 cup ice cubes

3 scoops vanilla ice cream

1/2 cup whole milk or orange juice

Throw all of those fresh ingredients into a blender, and pulse for 3-5 minutes until each of the ingredients is fully blended.

Spoon out this fruitastic smoothie into 4 of your favorite serving glasses. And serve while it’s cold!

Your tummies, and your mornings will thank you!

Until next time, xoxoxo

Happiness Project#80: Summer Peach Smoothie!

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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 3 loving, amazing cousins are out on summer break too! Which means SO much love! Swimming, splash parks, playgrounds, legos, play-do, games! It’s adventure time!

The hardest part about living where we are, is that my sister, and my 3 nephews, live hours away from our area. Which leaves my Daughter with very few regular playmates. So traveling to hang out with her Auntie Lisa, and her Darren, Jax, and Jarod, is very obviously the best part of the year for her! Something that always brings tears to my eyes. You don’t know love until you see my Baby Girl surrounded by her cousins. It’s truly magical. Without a doubt, my little girl will move mountains with these three boys by her side.

So in anticipation of much cousin adventuring, I wanted to create a smoothie with my family’s favorite summer fruit (well, besides strawberries, that is): peaches! Thanks Be for luscious, juicy summer peaches! Bliss on earth, I say! Here’s to family, and peaches!

2 cups fresh, chopped peaches

3 to 4 scoops of vanilla ice cream

1/2 cup crushed ice

3/4 cup whole milk

pinch of cinnamon

And here’s all you do: throw all of those ingredients into a blender, and blend together for a few minutes until everything is nice & mixed. And serve!

So I’d love to know what your summer plans are? What are you most looking forward to?

Happiness Project#77: Cookie Dough Milkshake!

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It’s time, my friends. Time to take a piece of my heart and run with it. I’m a strong advocate of helping those less fortunate than I. Particularly those who face circumstances that no one should ever have to face. Circumstances that become a battle for ones own life. Neuroblastoma. DIPG. Leukemia. Three pediatric cancers that effect the lives of those most precious, those most fragile: our children. Diseases that force the youngest of souls to loose so much, too much, of their own childhoods.

So in following my heart, and my desire to help where I’m most able, I recently created a community outreach project, Cheer Bear Mail, on Facebook. Where, with the help of my immediate community, I create Cheer Bear Mail packages for these children fighting pediatric cancer. Personalized packages including handwritten cards, books and toys, gathered together in one big bundle, to shower these brave young warriors with love, encouragement and a little bit of cheer. Because these children, who’s lives are riddled with pain, needles and hospital rooms, deserve all of this, and so much more.

If you’d like to join my Cheer Bear Mail project, by helping support children and their families effected by pediatric cancer, please visit my official page on Facebook!

So I guess you’re curious as to why this lovely milkshake has anything to do with Cheer Bear Mail? This yummy cookie dough milkshake was created specifically with a child’s spirit in mind. Because milkshakes remind me of summer. And the summer reminds me of children. Joyfully running though wet blades of grass. Gleefully kicking up sandy footprints. Begging for that one last Popsicle. Or THIS milkshake.

Here’s what you start with:

Chilled roll of chocolate chip cookie dough

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

3 cups of your favorite vanilla ice cream

1 cup of whole milk

Firstly, you’ll need to create the chocolate chip dough bits. Using whatever favorite chocolate chip cookie dough recipe that you prefer, create the cookie dough, and then tightly wrap up that cookie dough, to be placed in the freezer for at least one hour.

Once your cookie dough is very chilled, remove from the fridge, and with a small knife (or your fingers), roll up tiny sections of the dough, into quarter inch balls. Now depending on how many milkshakes you’d like to serve, you’ll only be using around a quarter of the whole cookie dough (to create 18-24 mini milkshake balls). With the remainder of that dough, you can easily rewrap it into a log, and freeze for another day.

Place the quarter inch balls on a cookie sheet, and freeze for at least 20 minutes.

Now to the milkshake.

In a blender, add in the sugar, vanilla ice cream and milk. Blend on low speed until fully mixed, and a bit frothy.

In 2 to 3 chilled glasses, pour in the milkshake. Followed by gently stirring in 3 to 4 of the chilled cookie dough balls. And serve, with spoon or straw. Or freeze for an additional 20 minutes for a thicker texture!

It’s a milkshake, after all. It’s supposed to be thick, creamy and wonderfully decadent!

From my heart to yours, may you, too, relive a piece of your own childhood, with this tasty cookie dough milkshake. That’s the beauty of living, right?

 

Happiness Project#57: Aloha Lemonade!

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One word. Maui. I can’t say enough of how dearly I adore Maui. Thanks to catering a friend’s STUNNING wedding, my Husband, Daughter & I were able to take our very first Family Vacation! And it was beyond just perfect. Starting from the very beginning, due to all of my not-so-lovely menopause symptoms, I truly believed that I was going to be MISERABLE. Because, let’s face it, heat AND humidity?? Save me. However, despite preconceived notions, something happened as soon as I stepped off that plane. Something magical. I fell in love. Within my heart and my soul. Nearly instantaneously. Which is, well, kinda miraculous for me. The me who had been 100% positive that the only place I would ever feel truly comfortable and happy in, was somewhere high up in the mountains, surrounded by the towering trees and looming stars and winter snow. Yet, somehow, against all of the odds, Maui happened. Truth happened. Where amid the sweeping beaches, and endless blue skies and the unfathomable sea, everything clicked. And I knew, without a shadow of doubt, that this island was where my Little Family was meant to be. No more of the rushing and business and bleakness of the Bay Area. No. More. No more for this Family of mine.

7 days later, while driving back to the airport, amid the flashing blues and greens surrounding us, I looked over to my very quiet Husband and saw something that I’ve only seen on 4 other occasions within our nearly 11 years together. Tears. Tears over leaving an island that felt like our true HOME. And since we’ve been back in the Bay Area for nearly a week now, we’ve already decided that we’re ready to move back to this island. To start over. To be where the both of us left a huge chunk of our heart and soul. The plan? 1 year. In 1 year we will leave this horrible place of TOO much of everything and go HOME. To Maui. To TRUTH. To US.

So to celebrate our 1st Family Vacation and destined move, I wanted to try to replicate one of the island’s famous drinks: Maui’s Blackberry Lemonade! Which is beyond DELICIOUS! Truly! Which you MUST try! Because, yes, it is THAT good! You ready for some Island BLISS? Let’s GO! You’ll need…

2 cups fresh blackberries

Simple Syrup (recipe to follow)

2 cups fresh lemon juice

2 cups cold water

Firstly, to create the Simple Syrup, bring 1-1/2 cups of granulated sugar and 1-1/2 cups cold water to a boil, in a large pot. Stir until fully dissolved. Remove and let cool for a few minutes.

With the two cups fresh blackberries, using a small blender, liquify the blackberries until smooth and fully crushed.

In a pitcher or refrigerated container, combine the Simple Syrup and liquified blackberries with two cups fresh lemon juice and 2 cups cold water. Stir the entire blend together for a few minutes before adding in a couple of ice cubes. AND serve!

SO easy! And SO DELICIOUS!

Now you too, can taste a little bit of Aloha!

Thank you, Meghan & Travis for inviting my Little Family to your STUNNING special day! Thanks to you, we have found our home and I can’t express enough of how dearly this means to us! We love you! xoxo

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