Can’t breath (and I mean that in the best way possible)

Stuffed doesn’t begin to sum it up.  If there was a more severe word for being stuffed to the gills with insanely excellent food, I would be that…plus a molten lava cake.

Since my hubby and I were sick for this year’s Valentine’s Day, we were forced to cancel our dinner reservations.  Little did I know, this was a major blessing in disguise because, as a result of not going out to dinner and staying in, Hugo planned a ‘multi-course’ dinner for me tonight.  He continually labors in the kitchen for me on a regular basis and I am beyond appreciative of his attention and care towards my nourishment and health.  But this time was different.  Tonight’s ‘multi-course’, which I will explain in a bit, was a ten hour process, experience and endeavor, filled with hard work and a whole lot of love.

When he wrote his handmade card for me, Hugo asked me to join him for a multi-course meal.  I, of course, smiled and happily agreed (I mean, who wouldn’t?!?) and we joked about what the definition of multi-course actually was.  I poked by replying that five, if not nine, courses could be found under the multi-course umbrella.  Hugo enjoyed my little jokes, later divulging that tonight’s culinary quest would be a total of four courses.  And let me tell you, four was more than enough.

It started with king crab legs with garlic butter.  It could also have stopped there because that kind of course alone makes even a vegetarian happy.  What is it about garlic butter that speaks to the soul?  Oh, that’s right, it’s the garlic butter itself. – purely perfect in both the garlic and the butter.

Next, we moved on to a palate-cleanser of watermelon granita with mascarpone cream.  Never had it but it was pretty amazing.  The cool, refreshing watermelon did just as intended as my tongue was cool and refreshed.  The garlic butter was sadly washed away, but that was the point, right?

Next, mushroom carbonara.  And here, dear reader, is where I yet again realize Hugo is my soulmate.  I know it every day but let’s be honest, anything mushroom related truly has the key t my heart.  Rich, creamy and decadent, it hit all the right spots and satisfied my belly.

Finally, molten lava cake.  From scratch.  And it was perfect.  To think, my husband was nervous that it wouldn’t come out correctly or was even mildly overcooked, which it wasn’t.  When I tell you this cake was perfect, just imagine the ideal dusting of powdered sugar covering a slightly warm, freshly baked, personally-sized bittersweet cake.  Oh, with oozing chocolate ganache on the inside.  It was a great meal but that damn cake, complete with a large cold glass of milk, just made the night.

I have said many times how cooking for someone is truly the ultimate expression of love.  I believe that because of the way I was raised and the man I was raised by, as my father grew his own food and slaved away in the kitchen to feed my mother and I.  I believe it even more when I am greeted after a twelve hour day at work by a beautiful multi-course meal that my husband knows I will enjoy so much.  He knows this because he knows me, he listens to me, and, above all else, he aims to make me happy in life, as I do him.  This man must love me and I certainly love him, probably more than he knows and I deserve.  Happy Valentine’s Day ♥♥♥

PS – Josh Weissman gave Hugo his date night meal cheater for this special occasion.  He subbed king crab legs for steak, and a few other small alterations occurred along the way, but otherwise, bravo Josh and Hugo for a tummy full of goodness and a job well done.

The Costco Effect

Oddly enough, the title of this post was something I have mulled over for awhile and tonight felt like the appropriate time to discuss it.  The reason being – developers are breaking ground on a new, very sizable Costco complex in our city as I type.  My ignorant coworkers are wildly excited for even better access to awful food and useless crap.  I am sickened by the sum of its parts, from the food, to the hoards of dolts the establishment attracts, and let’s not forget the heinous ripple effect of traffic congestion on our surrounding streets.  Finally, I realize more and more how we have completely lost sight of what real, good food is, where it comes from, how it is grown and why the fuck all of the answers to those questions are actually important to our bodies and our world.

I could go on and on about the importance of organic food, sustainable farming, the benefits of primarily eating plant-based, and the need for major changes in our world.  In fact, I think I already have in prior posts.  My heart aches for anything less than success in all of those realms, for all of our animals and all of our people, primarily the little ones that are being born into a world that is slowly killing itself.  Because of all this, the idea of yet another Costco, where the wool is pulled over the mass consumer’s eyes even further, makes me sad and a bit ill.

Despite not trying to be that person at work (you know, the one who has strong opinions and pushes them on others), my coworkers periodically ask me questions.  These questions usually stem from them observing me eating, drinking, or doing something that appears foreign to them.  They normally look and watch, then either ask what it is or make fun of it for what it isn’t.  Either way, I respond with the facts and I always make sure to use that brief moment to teach them a little something about food and its source, without coming off as a cocky, know-it-all bitch!  Sounds easy but you straddle a fine line while doing so.  Sadly, despite the age, formal education or income bracket of the inquiring party, the statistics I have observed are as follows – plain and simple, the vast majority of people are completely clueless about their food.  They couldn’t tell you how it is grown, what chemicals are applied, what the hidden words in their ingredient list mean, and they certainly couldn’t explain the difference between the terms natural and organic.

I don’t write this to mock anyone and I sure hope it doesn’t come across that way.  To be honest, my heart breaks for this lack of knowledge among the masses because those are the consumers that support poor farming practices, by purchasing heavily sprayed veggies, and sickening animal welfare standards, by stocking up on bargain meat from Sam’s Club and the like.  To think, those animals were raised in captivity, provided with pathetic living conditions with the cheapest, nutritionally-absent food, confined to small spaces without bright sunlight or free movement of their bodies, and possibly never knowing what touching grass to their hooves or toes feels like in their lives.  Those are the same cows and pigs you may see piled high in the stainless cargo compartment of the tractor trailers speeding down the freeway past you during your morning commute.  Next time you see them on their first and final trip out into the world, take a moment to think of what their life was like and how it impacts yours.  After those animals have experienced that life (if you can call it that), you purchase their meat on sale by the pound for consumption by your entire family.  Imagine what you are putting into your body and to be honest, it is almost all in vain.  Not only did that poor soul give their life to ‘you’, but you don’t even understand it, you don’t appreciate it, you don’t deserve it and even if you did, it wasn’t good for you.  The whole thing wasn’t good for anyone and that makes me cry.  When I see the tractor trailer on the freeway, I cry for them and I continue to pledge to never support that sickening cycle.

Ok, I ranted.  I promised I wouldn’t rant but I can’t help that I care so deeply about these topics.  As my mom and I always say, if we won the lottery we would buy a huuuuuuuuuuuge piece of land, adopt all of the shelter pets and set them free.  After writing the above paragraph, maybe I would try to educate people just a little bit more.  Rather than allowing people to idly muddle through life, uneducated about the very choices they are making on a bi-weekly basis at Costco, maybe I could offer a little glimpse into a solution.  To me, the solution is a combination of better choices regarding how we farm, better choices with what we regularly eat, and better thinking about this planet we are slowly killing.

Needless to say, Hugo and I won’t be getting a new Costco platinum membership upon our new store’s grand opening.

Oops, I almost forget.  I didn’t totally explain what ‘The Costco Effect’ meant to me.  So not only do my coworkers frequently ask me about my kombucha, spinach-powder colored pasta, or fermented hot sauce, but they also constantly flaunt the outstanding ribs they grilled (Costco brand), chicken they baked (Costco brand), or cake they devoured (Costco brand).  Somehow these people brag about this food as if it was not only delicious (which it isn’t, I have tried it guys), but it was also the best choice solely due to the price tag attached to it.  Somehow people have become so blinded by a price that quality and content have not just fallen at the wayside, they are not even present judgement factors during a purchase for them.  If the chicken is $2/pound, then it must be the best chicken.  That fucking chicken could be soaked in cyanide but if it is $2/pound, it will always beat my $10/pound organic, heirloom chicken any day.  I laugh at it for many reasons, one of which includes my argument that if you are going to ingest such low quality food, whether that is meat or not, you also always have the choice of opting out of eating crap and opting in to eating something else.  In this case, rather than the chicken, you could just eat a veggie salad with tofu or beans (I always choose beans).  That would require breaking this weird addiction many people have to eating meat in almost every meal, as the center of these meals, and that is an entirely different blog post (or book) all together.

I may be preaching to the choir and I may be preaching to no one that cares.  But I don’t care.  I just wanted to write about something I think about every day because my heart is in it.  I also know that I would rather spend $10/pound on anything in life, than compromise my body and the body of the man I love by cooking and eating garbage.  I also sleep soundly knowing I respect the land we all call home, my choices provide for healthy farming practices, and my $10/pound chicken gets to feel the sunshine on her beautiful feathers during her time on earth.

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PS – Thanks for listening because I really enjoyed writing that.  It felt like a therapy session and I could cry today, just as easily as I have many times before, about the poor animals.  Because of this, I included a picture of a truly beautiful little lady in this world, my mom’s mini pony named Brownie.  I took this picture during a trip to visit my parents last year.  She lives on their ten acre, organic farm, with her horse sister (from another mister) Shasta.  The two ladies cruise for fresh alfalfa grass in spring and summer and get doted on by my mom all year long.  Brownie, as all animals do, deserve every minute of it.

What is socially acceptable?

Hugo and I have always found it rather funny how drinking alcohol to excess is completely socially acceptable yet using and abusing other drugs, or other destructive behavior, is absolutely not.  It is laughable and strange yet I believe this phenomenon only exists in this country, and possibly a few others.  In the United States of America, I can buy beer at 6am and start my day.  I can arrive for an outbound flight and enjoy a mimosa or two at the airport bar.  I can giggle about it being ‘happy hour somewhere’, as I pop a bottle of wine mid-afternoon in reference to it not being too early to start drinking if I were in another time zone.  And I can crawl into work or to a kindergarten conference the next morning, chalking up my hangover to a rough office party or night on the town, all while everyone looks on, doesn’t judge and understands because they have most likely been there before themselves.

Now just imagine if all of my above scenarios involved heroin.  If I hit the street at 6am to score a bag of heroin or shot up in the airport lounge before boarding my plane, we might not be giggling about it being ‘happy hour somewhere’.  Or worse, if you dragged your ass into your children’s school, with a hoodie and dark shades on, looking like hell because you used too much heroin last night and your body was struggling to come back to life.  What would the commentary be then?

Well, for starters, I bet those children at that kindergarten conference would be taken away from you.  And your employer for the office party may not be your employer for much longer.  And every relationship would suffer and all respect would be lost as you were now labeled as a heroin addict with a pathetic problem.  A gross person who had slid below the moral and ethical threshold, who lacks common decency and is completely socially unacceptable in the upper middle-class, suburban bubble.

It doesn’t make sense, particularly when you look at how outrageously destructive alcohol is for everyone it touches.  From elevating some imbibers to yelling, fighting, violent individuals, to causing those behind the wheel to take another human being’s life, alcohol is an awful, oddly acceptable drug.  While it is perfectly legal in most areas of the US (I say most because there are still dry counties), it is also responsible for some of the most horrific domestic violence incidents and murders, whether by someone’s hand or a drunk someone’s car.

We have been affected by alcohol in our own family and this is partly why this topic comes to mind for me.  Hugo’s pregnant cousin and unborn child were killed by a drunk driver in Florida – she was just 22 years old with her whole life ahead of her.  Her father, a now-retired air traffic controller and Hugo’s uncle, never recovered from the loss.  Since that tragic night, he has begun and ended every day with a travel mug full of straight vodka.

Both of our families through the years have also been heavy drinkers, with some members of the family drinking more than others.  Hugo’s mom drinks vodka like water after 4pm every day and since she was raised in a drinking environment, she knows nothing different and thinks nothing of it.  My father, right before being diagnosed as a type II diabetic, was overweight, depressed and drinking heavily, at times to the point of passing out in his underwear while sitting on the basement stairs.  Or better yet, passing out while seated at the dinner table, resting his head on his hand, in front of 16 year old me, my mother and maybe a friend I had over for dinner that night.  Thankfully that embarrassing and sickening behavior came to an abrupt end when he became sober a few short years later.

Our close friend Andy has been a struggling alcoholic for almost two decades now.  Just this month (January of 2020) marks his 15th or so round of rehab and yet another shot at reaching and maintaining sobriety.  We hope and pray to our spaghetti god that Andy can make it out of his nightmare alive.  He deserves better than barricading himself in a cheap motel as he downs quarts of cheap clear liquor and nothing else for days on end.

And finally, as I believe I have written on before, Hugo and I were affected by the nasty effects of alcohol.  Luckily and thankfully our experiences were nothing more than arguments over nonsense when we drank.  Arguments that we didn’t want to have but somehow always found ourselves in.  We made the decision to treat one another better and not engage in that lifestyle so I can now proudly say we no longer drink to excess.  The occasional glass or two of wine or beer (and by occasional, I mean once or twice a year) is our new, healthy routine and it works well for us.

I bet if you looked at most American families, their stories would be littered with similar experiences about the devastating effects of alcohol.  Too many relationships have been compromised, too many lives have been lost and too many people have lost themselves to addiction, yet this drug is completely legal, readily available, and actually celebrated in many ways.  And it is all relative and based on geography because heroin, in contrast, is legal in other parts of the world.  I am sure people in those areas have tales of how heroin has affected their family members, but I imagine it isn’t quite as ‘Category 5 hurricane’ as alcohol is here.  While there are always extremes and every drug carries its own set of issues with it, I do believe that particular intoxicants are more devastating to human beings than others.  There is also something to be said about how drugs are craved, abused and respected when and once they are legalized.

 

 

Twenty twenty

Happy New Year (plus three days) to anyone out there in this vast universe that is reading this.  As I always appear to be doing, I continue to marinate on all of the tasks I have left undone, all of the places and opportunities I want to explore, and, most importantly, how I want to devote the remainder of my time here on Earth.  I am about to receive an email from the California Department of Real Estate, that will allow me to schedule my state exam, and I am very excited about that finally happening.  With a new chapter of my life looming in the near future, I am antsy to begin.  Part of me wants to quit my job, jump head first into the real estate ocean, and give it everything I have.  The other practical part, which also has Hugo’s voice of reason anchored at the core, knows I should get licensed and begin working, while maintaining my current career.  Basically, see how it goes before fully committing and risking everything I have worked extremely hard for.  In short, it is tough because I feel this entrepreneurial fire burning in my soul and I am resounding to not grab the proverbial fire extinguisher.

Hugo and I finished out 2019 as strong as ever and that is my most proud accomplishment of the year.  After nearly sixteen years together, we grew even closer this year.  Not an easy feat after so much life together.  He has impressed me since the day I met him but the fact that he continues to age so beautifully, both on the inside and on the surface, is astonishing.  He has a heart of gold and he pours it into everything he does.  He showers me in kindness, care and love in everything he does, from cooking me gourmet vegetarian dishes to listening to me go on and on about my thoughts, fears and goals, on a daily basis.  I am so happy to have met him and even more thankful to call him my husband.

As the year drew to a close, we discussed what our collective relationship resolutions would be for this new decade.  We celebrated how far we have come and expressed the deep love we have for each other.  Love is the most vital aspect of existence and it permeates every culture and all species – we relished in the fact that ours is strong, healthy and meant to be.  He is my soulmate and I am his.  We looked into each other’s eyes and gazed upon the bodies that house the person we love the most.  As we did so, we resounded to continue trying to be better for one another, to communicate more effectively, to finish discussions respectfully rather than destructively engage in arguments, and to always make one another the top priority.  I am so impressed with having a partner who wants to keep growing, both personally and as a couple, with me.  If after 16 years together we have gotten to this place, I am excited to see where we go from here and lucky to be his wife and partner ♥

My hopes for this year, beyond my career and relationship aspirations, include the following items (some of them may appear cliche and to that I say, yeah!…cliche just means that a lot of people strive for similar things and that only makes me feel more united with those around me):  Take better care of myself, physically, mentally and spiritually.  Pursue my dreams of having more animals in our family.  Garden better and more beautifully around our home, for our visual pleasure and for the love of the thriving hummingbirds and others who call our organic acreage their home too.  Explore more of what Los Angeles, the United States of America and our globe has to offer.  Try new activities like falconry (we just discussed our plans for this today).  Visit more museums and read my unfinished books around the house.  And, finally, write more often.  All of my wants are positivity-fueled pursuits that are fun to me.  In fact, over the past couple weeks, I found my brain  dribbling out writing ideas that just kept coming to me – as they did, I jotted down notes on my cell phone, scribbled on scratch paper I have in every room of the house, and typed up email reminders of must-have blog post ideas.  My brain and heart want to speak so this audience better get ready to listen.

I wish the world more of what I am blessed to already have.  Hopefully you can understand who I am well enough by now to know that I do not intend to appear pretentious when I say that.  I only wish love for those without it in their hearts and lives.  Many people are walking alone in this world and they crave friendship and romance.  To them, I wish them a 2020 filled with new beginnings that will lead to love in their lives.  And to those in the world who do not treat others with love, by being unkind, rude, disrespectful, or, even worse, with hate, bias or violence, I wish more love into their hearts as well.  If we could all just learn to lead with love, many of our collective world problems would naturally dissipate into a thing of the past.  Finally, I wish more love onto all corners of our planet because we abuse her with toxic chemicals, deforestation, hurting the animals and ruining our oceans.  As everyone hears every day, we must act now to make significant changes in our world and that begins by loving the place we call home.  Let us all resolve to take better care of one another and our beautiful Earth as we embark on this new decade.

Day 1 – Back in the saddle

I did it! ♥

I didn’t do it perfectly but I did what I set out to do today – eat light, not consume sugar, meat, or heavy carbs, and start my journey out strong.  I am rounding my day out with finishing one of my last real estate courses online, feeding my two favorite Rottie pups a tasty dinner, and mellowing in the fact that I kept my promises to myself today.  I accomplished all this while having a very stressful day at work, filled with clenched fists, a furrowed brow that occupied my forehead for the majority of the day, and a strong desire to quit by way of eating chocolate with my co-workers (it is post-Halloween season in our workplace after all).  But in the end, I didn’t quit on myself and for that I am proud.

I have found that the key is truly taking it one day at a time.  Anyone can do anything for one day of their life so I chose to focus on that.  I vow to do right by my body for just today.  Tomorrow doesn’t exist and I can’t erase the heavy mistakes of my past so I chose not to dwell on them.  I chose not to defeat myself based on prior transgressions.  By focusing on today, and today only, I can simplify my existence and tackle the present.  Whatever you do, focus only on today and by tomorrow, the process will have begun and success will be your new reality.

So for today, I won.  I conquered what I set out to do and tomorrow I will wake up and do it again.  Just for that one day, and that one day after that.  Until what I have vowed to create has taken on a life of its own and I find myself a changed woman, one day at a time.

I have to do this

Not to take away any of the seriousness of my feelings but, and I quote my all-time, favorite movie Dumb & Dumber when I say, “I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.”  No words have rang more true than those do right now.  November 5th, 2019.  Los Angeles, California, United States of America.  I am thirty-five years old and happily married.  I have a solid, stable career that, while it may be frustrating at times (let’s be honest, whose career isn’t?), provides for a wonderful life.  It didn’t come easily and I have earned every moment of it.  Irregardless of that, I am pursuing yet another professional advancement for myself.  Rooted in a genuine interest in real estate, I am mere moments away from finishing my third and final required course in pursuit of my California salesperson license in real estate.

After tackling and completing my Bachelor’s degree this past Spring, I am proud of myself for striving for my real estate license and happy on the inside that this new pursuit is almost complete.  Once my classes are done, I will get fingerprinted (which is then run through the FBI database to ensure I am not a murderous, raping thief), identify if I want to be signed on with a broker from the beginning, and provide the details behind my college-age DUI arrest.  While I regard it as one of the lowest and most shameful moments in my life thus far, it certainly pushed me to learn and make significant behavioral and mental changes.  If not for my DUI, I may not be where I am today and, for that, I am oddly thankful.

Needless to say, I have been busy during the past year.  Just prior to my return to college in the Fall of 2018, I had my fifth knee surgery in July.  And just prior to that surgery, I had gotten into the best shape of my life.  What started out as a weight-loss challenge among co-workers, turned into a breakthrough journey of personal triumph.  For years I had wanted it and last Summer I finally got it;  ‘it’ being a substantial weight loss and, more importantly, the best version of me.  I became disciplined, focused and inspiring to myself.  I forged a path on my own, creating a meal plan, a rhythm, and an entirely new life.  I lost 22 pounds and I gained a renewed vision of happiness, sexiness, and joy in achieving my goals.

And then I threw it all away.  Not right away and not all at once but, maybe even worse, I tossed it out slowly.  I went back to my old ways of doing things, I gave up my focus and all of the positive, self-taught lessons went with it.  I quit on myself, despite telling myself so many times that I wouldn’t, not anymore.  It angers and saddens me because we should be our own biggest supporters in life – after all, we only have one body and one life.  Such an easy principle, yet it is outrageously difficult to abide by.

So here I am, on November 5th, 2019, weighing more than I would like to.  Here I am, putting it all out there – on the scale, on the blog, and off my conscious.  I know that I found my motivation before and I will muster it up again.  I also know that I developed a plan that worked.  If I am able to implement my plan again, I will once again prove that I am strong and capable of anything.  I will also prove that my plan works and if it works for me, it just might work for you.  But before I get ahead of myself, let me officially kick off my journey once more.

I will weigh in tomorrow morning and many mornings after that.  I will follow my diet, track my intake, make wise choices and keep pushing forward.  I will invest in myself and, in turn, I will invest in my relationship, my family, my job, my friends, and my future, because by being the best version of me, I am able to give that best version to all of those that I touch.  By loving me and continuing to improve my existence, I will be better equipped to love those around me (that means you Hugo).

So, I leave you with my excitement and fear, as well as my will to succeed.  I will take it one day at a time and keep you updated along the way.  Trust and believe that I will succeed – we only have one life to live and one body to live it in so why not make ’em the best we can.

P.S.:  Sorry for the long hiatus.  Pray for rain in California, success on my journey, and more frequent posts to boot!

Love & nourishment

I am sure you have gathered that Hugo is nothing short of a fantastic, near -perfect husband by now and you wouldn’t not be wrong in that assessment.  I only say ‘near-perfect’ because we are all human and none of us are perfect; should one come close though, it would be my Hugo.  Throughout the past fifteen years together, he has only grown more loving, thoughtful and caring, about both my wants and needs.  One of my recent ‘wants’ has been an easy transition into vegetarianism and thankfully Hugo has also embraced this lifestyle change with open and willing arms.

Because he loves to cook (and I love to eat), Hugo has been making some delicious, meat-free meals for his love bug (yes, that’s me).  I decided it would be nice to share some of those recipes here, in hopes of bringing a little more vegetarian love into your home this weekend.

A few weeks ago, Hugo made Chef John’s Mushroom Burgers and they were to die for.  Pan fry and pair them with some sliced avocado, sauteed onions, melted cheese and a toasted brioche bun and you have yourself one of the best and healthiest burger options possible.

After basking in mushroom burger-goodness for three solid days, Hugo decided to make Bon Appetit’s version of Ratatouille Pasta.  This perfect blend of late Summer veggies transform into a decadent and satisfying dish, unlike any other veggie pasta meal we have had.

My hope in sharing these recipes is that someone, or a few someones, out there, in the great big world, will find some joy and healthy nourishment out of food that is both good for the body and our struggling planet.  Just this week, one of the largest headlines concerns the fact that the Amazon rain forest is burning down, due to farmers clearing land to raise cattle.  While we all know growing food and raising animals require cleared pastures and fields, it is disturbing and sad to see our of our most bio-diverse areas, that is responsible for producing 20% of the world’s oxygen, disappearing at an alarming rate.

If not for your health, or the animal welfare aspect, of choosing to be vegetarian, maybe, just maybe, do it for our planet.  We are all in this together and if we don’t start making decisions as individuals for the greater good, we are all going to be royally fucked.

 

Pumpkin Ice Cream to die for…and awaiting the results of Cinnamon Sugar Apple Cake

Spending a warm, Saturday afternoon making use of two leftover apples in our fridge.  We are watching Anchorman on TV as the Cinnamon Sugar Apple Cake from Pinch of Yum has twenty-five minutes left on the timer.  It smells amazing so I will advise of the results shortly ♥

Earlier this week, in celebration of my visiting Mom, I made Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream from Chef Nick Holcomb on the Food Network website.  Hugo, Mom and I ate several servings (a day) of this delicious recipe and I am happy to report this just might be the best ice cream I have ever had.  I used Pacific Foods Organic Pumpkin Puree, rather than fresh pumpkin, and it turned out beyond perfect.  Not only did it check the ‘festive’ box, in honor of Halloween this week, but it hit a delicious, perfectly spiced note in our hearts.

Although my Dad doesn’t make too many super sweet desserts anymore, after developing type II diabetes and drastically altering his diet, I carry on his love of cooking, baking and preparing food for the ones you love with your bare hands.  I love the process of baking, love the sweet smells emanating from the kitchen through the entire house and love even more the feeling of making Hugo’s belly full and pleased.  And that is all sure to be accomplished just as soon as this apple cake comes out of the oven.

Glowing skin

One of my favorite daily rituals (that sometimes occurs several times a day) is washing my face and caring for my skin.  My process begins with removing my makeup, if it happens to be the end of a long work day, by way of a cleaning towel or makeup remover.  Then, I scrub my face with whatever cleanser I happen to have in my rotation that month.  I tend to buy different cleaners, from either Origins, Whole Foods or Amazon, but they always fall under the same category of being chemical-free and possessing as many organic ingredients as possible.  I am always sure to thoroughly read the ingredients on every label, as well as the fine print.  This is an important step that I feel a lot of women tend to overlook since they may be more concerned with a desired outcome, such as anti-aging or acne, than what is actually in the product.  My philosophy has always been to value the quality of skin products just as highly as you value the quality of the food going into your mouth.  After all, your skin is your largest organ so it should be treated with love and respect.

After cleaning, I pat my skin dry and sometimes (yes, only sometimes), I use a light toner to remove excess dirt and grimy makeup residue.  Then it’s on to my favorite part – moisturizing!  I can’t tell you how many times, especially in recent years, I have found myself yelling to Hugo in the house about how much I am enjoying applying moisturizer to my face and neck (I will get back to the importance of moisturizing your neck in a minute).  There’s just something so enjoyable about cleansing and properly moisturizing a clean face that brings joy to my heart ♥  It makes me feel refreshed and beautiful – who couldn’t ask for a better way to start or end every day.

Keeping up with my healthy skin regimen really improves my glow and overall complexion.  Over the past month, several women that I work with have told me that my skin is glowing and it looks beautiful.  It feels really nice to be told that and I normally attribute my clear skin to what I am eating (organic, balanced diet) and my skincare regimen.  But tonight it occurred to me, I have been doing one other little thing that I completely forgot about – using argan oil mixed in with my moisturizer.

I bought a little bottle of organic argan oil about six months ago, after hearing about its beneficial applications for skin, hair and nails.  At times I will rub a few drops in my palms and finger-comb it through my hair, rub it over my eyebrows and massage the rest into my hands and fingernail beds.  It feels nice but it makes you look as if you have super oily, un-showered hair.  That’s normally alright though because I will just do it right before bed and then wake up to shower it out.

Since I have had this same bottle of argan oil hanging around on the bathroom counter for months, slowly chipping away at it, I decided to start mixing it with my tried-and-true Alba hawaiian facial moisturizer.  Hugo and I have been using that face cream for years and it is truly fabulous – lightweight, clean and refreshing.  Now, I cranked it up a notch with a few drops of argan oil and the results have been noticeable to those around me.

Final note – always moisturize your neck!  I will never forget reading a short article years ago about the importance for women, and men for that matter, to always give love to their neck skin throughout their lives.  Point being that we tend to give a lot of attention to our face in general, eye area and crows feet, and mouth and smile lines, yet the neck sometimes get forgotten.  Then, in later years, there may be a stark contrast between the face and neck skin.  I am firmly committed to always thoroughly moisturizing my neck and I am sure to remind Hugo that one day in the future, when I am a svelte seventy-five year old vixen, my neck will be flawless to match!

Pound cake for Tootie

I picked up the remains of Kaiser today and brought him home.  His ashes, tucked safely away in a little wooden box, sat quietly on my front seat – one last car ride together as I sobbed uncontrollably.  When Hugo came home from an early morning fishing trip, we hugged and sobbed once more together.  Prior to his arrival, I set the bag from the vet, containing Kaiser and his clay paw print, down on the rug in our living room right where he used to lay.  This spot was loved by Kaiser, where he routinely lied down and flipped over onto his back, by gripping the side of the couch with his strong paw and leveraging his body weight to flop over into his most favorite, comfortable position.  Anyways, call me a little crazy, but it felt right to set him down there for a few minutes.  Nala came over and smelled the bag intently – she knew it was her old pal.  He had come home.

For some reason, I wanted to do a little baking this afternoon, almost as a final gift for Kaiser to celebrate how much we loved him.  I am not sure if that makes sense and quite frankly, I don’t really care.  We had leftover buttermilk that didn’t have a use to us, after Hugo bought it for cast-iron pan cornbread last week (absolutely delicious).  A quick Google search produced this gem of a recipe – Buttermilk Pound Cake.  I sliced some strawberries and dusted our slices with powdered sugar.  Hugo and I ate two fat pieces each and didn’t have one guilty feeling between us.  We cheers’ed with our fork and spoon, as a nod to our beloved Tootie (Kaiser’s silly nickname), and I gave Nala a tiny morsel so she could partake in the happy moment.  We decided that the pound cake satisfied our dinner void and called it a night.