Archive | February, 2013

Why I run

27 Feb

A phone call at 2:00 AM is never good news.  An ambulance ride in a snowstorm rarely leads to a good vacation.  And being delivered to the hematology-oncology department usually means you’re in for a long haul.

Fifteen years ago this week, I embarked on the adventure known as cancer when I was diagnosed with ALL – acute lymphocytic leukemia. It turned out that my limp wasn’t just from a ski injury, those dots on my arms weren’t just a reaction to the winter cold, and my lip didn’t start bleeding just because I smacked it with a sled (though it certainly didn’t help…) – they were all the signs of something much more dangerous.

My diagnosis at CHaD (the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth) kicked off a new normal for me and my family.  We spent weekends – and holidays – in the hospital.  I missed a full quarter of sixth grade.  All my hair fell out, and I spent my week at Girl Scout camp coating my head in sunscreen.  I moved two steps forward – returning to the softball sidelines and helping with costumes in the school play – and two steps back, missing classes for weekly shots and monthly spinal taps.  I made new friends along the way, and had to say goodbye to far too many.

When I got diagnosed, all I could dream of was a day when I would have hair again (and no bangs, thank god).  When it wouldn’t be a challenge to walk across the room or eat the same meal as the rest of my family.  When my skin, and my mouth, and my poor stomach would all belong to me again.  I could barely imagine that some day I would leave home for college, where I would row on the crew team – that I would get to travel to far off lands on my own – that I would move to Boston to have new adventures every day - that I would be able to put this cancer crap behind me.

And the truth is, you can’t.  I’ve been cancer free for more than a decade.  My doctor doesn’t even care that I had it once because it’s medically irrelevant (she literally made me carry my chemo records back home because they just don’t matter anymore!)  But it’s a solid part of who I am, why I strive to appreciate every day in this amazing world, and why I’m training to run my very first half marathon this spring.  Donate now >>

My mom and I are joining the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and training for the Cox Providence half marathon on May 12, 2013.  It’s a challenge unlike anything I’ve ever undertaken, and we’re going to be racing the clock to finish before the course closes.  We’ll be running in honor of that day 15 years ago – and for Brian, for Granddaddy, for Mike and Danae and everyone else along the way.  Running for a better future – and present – for people dealing with blood cancer.

Please – whether you were there or were hearing this story for the first time – make a gift to support a better life for people with blood cancer.

I’m here today and able to run because of the love that surrounded me in my darkest hour, because I had the good fortune to get cancer in 1998 and not 1968, and because of the kind of research that LLS makes possible.  Every dollar will go to support this cause – whatever you can give will make a difference.

Mom and Sal text

 15 years down, 13.1 miles to go!  Add your support now >>

Kitchen Adventures: Peanut butter cookie brownies

26 Feb

What’s better than a chocolate chip cookie, a peanut butter cup, and a brownie?  Being able to eat all three of them at once.

I found this recipe on Pinterest and made it for my office’s Pie Day Friday.  Even though it wasn’t technically pie (ok, not at all), it rocked because:

  • I was able to get all the ingredients at CVS on my way home
  • All the ingredients cost less than $10 and made more than 20 servings
  • I was able to make different portions easily
  • I was able to give the extra peanut butter cups to my gluten-free colleague so he could have somewhat the same thing as the rest of us

These were a huge hit and especially great for when you don’t have time to get to a full-blown grocery store or need something that travels well.

Cookiebrownies

Peanut Butter Cookie Brownies

  • 1 bag of small Reese’s peanut butter cups
  • 1 box of brownie mix and the ingredients to make it (varies by box)
  • 1 roll of refrigerated cookie dough or box of cookie dough mix and the ingredients to make it (varies by box)
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 F.  Grease a muffin or mini-muffin tin
  2. Press cookie dough into the bottom layer of each section.  Add a peanut butter cup. Top with brownie mix, filling to about 2/3 full overall. (The cookies and brownies will both take up a little more space when cooked.)
  3. Bake for 18 minutes, less for mini-muffins.  When testing to make sure your treats are done, don’t let the melted chocolate from the peanut butter cup throw you off.  I overcooked mine a little, but they were still delicious.

Done!  I made 12 large muffins, 12 mini muffins, and 1 mini loaf pan (with the leftovers) with these ingredients.  Serving recommendation: warm these up and top them with ice cream.  You won’t regret it.

Perfect 10

25 Feb

(Out of 24 Oscar categories, but who’s counting?)

Our fourth annual Oscar party was a huge hit.  We had food in honor of every best picture, and then some (thanks Nate, for inspiring the mid-ceremony guacamole), talked over all the misogynistic commentary, cheered for our Boston boy Ben Affleck, and sang along with the musical tributes.  More on all the recipes later – lots of important and delicious stuff is ahead!

Kitchen Adventures: Stuffed artichokes

20 Feb

There is basically never a time when I don’t want a stuffed artichoke since my college roommate first introduced me to this delicacy. (Hi Jill!)  It’s not the fastest thing in the world to make, but it’s completely worth it, especially when you can start eating it before going out with your friends and finish the rest when you come home starving after a night of dancing… if you can stand to not eat it all in one sitting.

IMG_3419_artichokes

Stuffed Artichokes

  • 1 cup Italian bread crumbs (or plain bread crumbs with Italian seasoning added)
  • 2 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped garlic (I use jarred but this is about 1 1/2 cloves)
  • 2 small to medium artichokes
Stuffing in progress

Stuffing in progress

  1. Lightly toast bread crumbs in a frying pan – no oil needed.  Put water on to boil with a steaming basket big enough to hold your artichokes upright.
  2. Cut off the top 1/4 (or so) of the artichoke with a knife, and trim the stem except for the last 1/2 inch or so.  Fan out the remaining segments of the artichokes and cut off the spiky tips with scissors.  You should only need to cut off about the top 1/3 per section but you should make sure you get all the sharp bits even if it means losing a little more of the ‘choke.
  3. Mix everything else together and start stuffing!  Start at the outer pieces and put the bread crumbs as far down in each segment as you can.  If you separate the pieces as you go, you should be able to get a good amount in each section.  When you get near the middle, keep stuffing – that’s the best part!
  4. Stand up the artichokes in your steamer basket over boiling water, cover, and cook for 45-60 minutes depending on the size of your artichokes.  Add more water to the pot as needed.

IMG_3429_artichoke

C’est tout!  Just peel off the segments and eat them from the base, and then attack the middle with the fork once you get past the rougher outer layers.

Did your college roomies ever share tasty treats from home?  What do you put inside your stuffed artichokes?

Video

Inspiration for this “Monday”

19 Feb

As we’re all getting back into the flow of work, I hope you find something you can be excited about – even if it’s only halfway as thrilling as this kiddo thinks this song is. My favorite part: her big sister laughing in the background. Love it.

More later – life has been mega busy but good, now that I’m over my latest cold and dug out of last week’s giant snowstorm!

Music Monday: We are young

4 Feb

Every day, I check the marquee of the Orpheum Theatre on my way to work.  Whose tour bus will be blocking my door this week, I wonder?  But for the last few days, I looked up with an extra smile because I was actually going to see the band whose name was displayed – it was time for me to have some FUN.

fun marquee

It was surreal to actually be inside the theater for the first time – it felt like walking into Mary Poppins’s bag, like “how could this large space possibly fit in the downtown Boston that I know?”  The opener was underwhelming, the beer was $13, but the seats were good and FUN. was amazing.  They rocked the house, even if they did play a little too much new stuff for my fellow fans’ taste – it’s rare to find a band that sounds as solid in person as in the studio.  They also brought the Boston charm for encore #1 (photo courtesy of the lovely Katie Catano).

Photo courtesy of Katie Catano

(c) Katie Catano

My favorite part was just how much they enjoyed playing, and their newfound fame.  When they held their mics to the audience to let us sing “SO WE SET THE WORLD ON FIRE, WE CAN BURN BRIGHTER…” the looks on their faces were of mild disbelief and sheer joy.  This is my absolute favorite part of live music – seeing the face of an artist who clearly is still wondering “What did I do to deserve this, to get all these people to pay ME to sing to them, and to have people who not only like my words and tunes… they love them so much that they know them by heart?”  If that isn’t the point of getting famous in the first place, I don’t know what is.

Here’s their megahit – trust me when I say it’s even better in person.

Kitchen Adventures: Soup fail

3 Feb

I cannot in good conscience tell you how to make this soup, since I did it entirely wrong.  My version involved:

  • the smoke alarm going off while I was in the shower
  • “cooking” the butternut squash in three different ways
  • splattering boiling soup all over my arms and my stovetop

But boy, doesn’t it look pretty?  It was tasty too, once I started breathing again.

IMG_3410

More when I actually get this right…

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