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.

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Happiness Project Recipe #59: Strawberry-Lemonade Toddler Ice Pops!

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Oh my sweetness, my friends! Spring is officially upon us! Ehr…those of us in California, that is. Which means warmer weather. For better or for worse, depending on if you actually like warmer weather. And strawberries. Beautiful, lush, ripe strawberries. Ultimate Mommy happiness. And did I forget to mention prime Popsicle-making season? It tis! Especially for Toddlers. Okay, and maybe for those of us adults who are also kids-at-heart, too. I promise I won’t tell any of the “other” adults.

Anyhow, back to this glorious, long anticipated Popsicle-making season. I’ve been wanting to create my own Daughter appeasing fruit popsicles for a few months now. But had to wait for the perfect strawberries. And well, here they are! Strawberry-Lemonade Ice Pops! With the lovely tang of sweet lemonade and juicy bits of chilled strawberries. The best of everything a picky Toddler and busy Mom could ever want.

Point in case? Even though it only took me maybe 45 minutes (from start to finish) for these pops to become the perfect frozen consistency, my Daughter consumed 3 of these in less than 10 minutes. I kid you not. Less than TEN minutes. And then ran back up to the fridge, while enthusiastically hopping up and down, saying, “More!” Yes, I did said, “No.” 3 of these is quite enough for one mere Toddler sitting. I swear I’m not a mean Mom. I swear!

Ready for a taste? Here ya go!

3-4 cups fresh lemonade

1 cup sliced or diced fresh strawberries, washed before hand

12 baking cups with a wax interior molding (the easiest baking cups to unmold once frozen)

12 wooden popsicle sticks

Arrange up to 12 baking cups onto a small baking sheet. In each cup, pour in enough lemonade to fill the cup all the way up to the top edge. Place the lemonade filled cups into the freezer for about 20-25 minutes.

While the lemonade cups are firming up, wash, slice & dice the strawberries until you have 2 to 3 strawberry pieces per lemonade cup.

Before adding in the strawberry pieces, check that the lemonade cups have firmed up enough to be slightly harder than a slushy (consistency). Gently push 2 to 3 strawberry pieces into each cup before placing the pops back into the freezer. Again with the freezer, I know.

Once the pops have been in the freezer for another 10 minutes, remove them from the freezer and push in each popsicle stick, into the direct center of each cup, from top to bottom. Freeze again until fully frozen.

Once you’re ready to serve them up to all of those hungry Toddler tummies, simply peel away each baking cup and hand em over.

So. Ridiculously. Easy.

Just promise me that you’ll save at least 1 for yourself, okay?

Happy Spring, my friends!

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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