Sunday, February 27, 2011

a drastic change for a great cause

I have always gotten a lot of compliments on my hair. Not trying to brag, but really, perfect strangers have come up to me just to say how much they liked the color, thickness, etc. I know it's pretty hair.

For this reason I have always thought it would be cool to make a donation to locks of love, an organization that makes hair prosthetics for financially disadvantaged children with medical hair loss. The only reason I never did was because I'm impatient and didn't want to have to stick with a certain style for so long. Even if your hair grows quickly you're looking at six months at a minumim of trying to keep your hair strong and healthy while it grows out.

Needless to say, the task seemed really daunting. So much so that I chickened out a couple times.

Then, back in late November/early December I got a call from my best friend. She told me she had throat cancer and had to have surgery to remove malignant cells in her tongue and the lymph nodes in her throat. I've never been more scared in my life and so at a loss of how to both be there for a friend and cope with such big news.

Growing my hair out ended up being a solution to both. My friend would express her fear of losing her hair in treatment and I would joke that I would give her mine. It was something positive to focus on for me instead of the negative. It made me feel like I was doing something tangible, even if it really had no bearing on the situation's outcome.

Now that my friend is cancer free and going through radiation to make sure it doesn't come back, I felt it was time to go ahead and make my donation. I hadn't cut my hair since about September and it was time. I made an appointment and today a little over 10 inches was cut off! Below are pictures of my new 'do which is a stacked bob with some side bangs. I love it! And now I can also check one more item off my 101 in 1001 list.

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Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Hey you!

Yes, you, the "pastor" that yells about eternal damnation outside of the MARTA station. Does telling other people they are going to hell make you feel better about your own sin? Does spreading hateful words about those who don't believe exactly as you do make you feel more secure in your own faith? Last time I checked, Christ said to love your neighbor as yourself. That means showing compassion and understanding to EVERYONE you meet and treating faith as the gift it is, not some "get out of jail free" card. Threatening and scaring people just makes it that much more difficult for them to find their path to God. If you want to be of service to your religion and spread the word of God, try educating yourself about it first and presenting it in a way that doesn't make people automatically write you off as a cruel, closed-minded asshole.

note: This particular post was inspired by a real "pastor" who stands outside the MARTA station near my school and yells at everyone within earshot about how they are all heathens who are going to hell. I've seen this person several times this semester and each time his actions make me more angry. Mostly because he represents an actual church in downtown atlanta and I knwo for a fact eh is not the only person claiming to be a Christian and spreading such a hateful message. This post is simply a vent of that anger and frustration because I knwo I'll never be able to discuss this with him personally.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

small update

I just realized that I never posted an update after my colonoscopy. Maybe most of you are glad for this.... I don't know. I'm sure the wellness of my colon is not exactly a topic everyone is anxious to discuss. However, for those sweet people who have been there for me through all of my issues and would like to know what is going on, this blog entry is for you.

Last friday I went in for my colonoscopy with my new gastroenterologist. This hospital was much nicer than the last one, but the nurses and doctors and other staff were just as friendly. (special note: when I say this hospital was nicer I mean WAY nicer... there was complimentary valet parking and a concierge. Not to mention registration did not take place in a trailer.)

They had the awesome new hospital gowns that completely cover your bum and open with snaps on your shoulders when you go into the OR. They also gave me another pair of super cool hospital socks for my collection. Everythign during prep went swimmingly except for getting the IV in. Colonoscopy prep, for those who don't know, essentially drains you of all fluids. I drank about three times my body weight in water the day before and it still wasn't enough to keep me hydrated. (Not really a suprise when you have to take 32 laxatives in the course of an evening). They ended up putting the IV in my wrist so I looked a bit sketch once I left the hospital later in the day with a bandaged wrist. 

I was put under with IV sedation during the proceedure so I wouldn't feel anything. All I remember was the anesthesiologist putting in the meds and then I was off in zen happy land for a bit.

Steve keeps reminding me that once I was brought back to my room to recover I was acting like some drunk hippy talking about my happy place in the mountains. I liek to remind him that it's not my fault the drugs they gave me worked so well.

The doctor came in once I was coherant again and let us knwo that my colon is really inflamed. There were pictures (which I have decided not to post this time... lucky you) and you could clearly see that the tissue, which should be pink and healthy looking were actually really red and looked incredibly irritated. The doctor said they didn't find polyps or anythign, but the inflamation is something to look into some more. He took some biopsies and I will be going to see him next week to hear the results of those and do my follow up visit.

At this point I have no idea how serious the problem is. I've done some googling about "inflammed colon" but stopped when the information started making me uncomfortable. It seems liek I finally have some answers about what is causing my problems... now I just have to work with my doctor to determine how we fix it.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

tomato basil sauce

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For Christmas this year my family seemed to go with the theme of "Bekkah can eat again" with my gifts. I received some cool kitchen gadgets and a couple cookbooks as well to help me celebrate the fact that after my surgery most of my dietary restrictions were lifted.

One of the cookbooks was a book of sauce recipes from my older brother.  That is where the recipe for this sauce came from and I have to say, I'm very excited to try some more recipes like this. It was a bit time consuming due to the fact that I had to peel and seed 5 pounds of tomatoes (something I had no idea how to do until I read the tutorial in the beginning of the book), but it was also completely worth the effort.

tomato basil sauce
from The Complete Book of Sauces by Sallie Y. Williams

1/4 c. olive oil
3 large onions, sliced (Steve isn't big on onions so I only used one extra large)
4 cloves of garlic, minced
5 pounds ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
3/4 c. chopped fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a heavy sauce pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute until the onion is soft and golden. Stir in the tomatoes and basil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer, uncovered, for about an hour. Season with salt and pepper and serve hot over your favorite pasta.

This recipe makes about 3 cups.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

blackberry brandy cupcakes

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I'll admit, I spent a good amount of time editing this picture so it would look really yummy when I blogged about it. These cupcakes aren't as pretty as others I've made, but they tasted great! Various food blogs I read and love have done boozy cupcakes before and the day before the super bowl I got the idea to try the recipes I saw with brandy instead of whisky/Bailey's/etc.

You see, my grandpa Neff was a big fan of blackberry brandy. Since the summer he passed away my dad and uncle will have a bit of brandy to remember and honor him and all of us in the family associate that particular drink with my grandpa. At my wedding reception my dad actually pulled Steve aside to have some brandy as a sort of "welcome to the family" kind of thing. So you can see that having a dessert that incorporates the brandy seemed like a nice idea.

I ended up using recipes from a couple places to make these cupcakes:

Perfect Yellow Cake - found via google search the day before Christmas after I packed up all my cookbooks and needed a from scratch cake recipe for Christmas day lunch at my in-laws' house. It truly is the best cake recipe I've ever made.

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (do not sift the flour)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups milk
Vegetable oil
1 stick butter (not margarine), softened
1-tablespoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and prep the cupcake pans with paper liners.

In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt, mixing well.
Measure the 1-1/4 cups of milk in a 2 cup measuring cup….then add enough vegetable oil to bring the liquid up to 1-1/3 cups.

Add the milk/vegetable oil mixture, butter and vanilla to the flour mixture and beat with an electric mixer on medium to medium-high speed for 2 minutes, scraping sides of bowl as needed.
Add the eggs and continue beating an additional 2 minutes. Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Allow them to cool on a wire rack.
Simple Syrup - adapted from Annie's Eats 
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 water
2 tbsp brandy
combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stirring occasionally, heat until the mixture is warm and the sugar is completely dissolved. Stir in brandy then brush onto the tops of the cooled cupcakes.
Frosting - Also adapted from Annie's Eats... just a different recipe than the one the syrup came from.
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature

3-4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted (I used about 3)
4-8 tbsp. Brandy (I used about 7)

Put the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes). Gradually add the powdered sugar until it is all incorporated. You'll want to be sure and scrape not only the sides, but the bottom of the bowl as well to get all of the butter/sugar mixture loose prior to adding the brandy. Once everything is incorporated, add the brandy and mix well. Add more brandy as needed until the frosting reaches the desired consistancy and frost as desired.

After making margarita cupcakes and now these, I have to say I am a fan of boozy cupcakes. Next up will possibly be the Irish Car Bomb cupcakes for St. Patrick's day. :)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

date night = awesome

Steve is the kind of guy who likes to be out doing stuff. He likes to have places to go and things to see... to be up on the latest trends. If it is new or exciting, he wants to try it out. This is true mostly for technology, but works for date night as well.

Tonight he found a place called Studio Movie Grill which is essentially a movie theatre where they serve dinner and cocktails.

That's right... booze and a meal during the movie. It's a genius concept.

We went to go see the move The Rite with Sir Anthony Hopkins and really all I can say is GO SEE THIS MOVIE! It is one of the best movies I have seen in a very long time.

Even if the movie had been a dud though, this theatre would have been more than enough to make up for it. The whole building was incredibly clean and well staffed. The food was great and had a suprising variety of food. Everything from gluten free to vegetarian were options on the menu and the portions were huge. Steve and I got two appetizers and an entree and we could not finish the food.

The drinks from the bar were good too, and different than what is typically offered. You could certainly order a classic drink, but the specialties were interesting enough to lure me away from my typical order and I wasn't disappointed.

Overall, we had a great night out and spent less than we would have if we had gone to dinner and a movie seperately. We are looking forward to going back to the Studio Movie Grill almost as much as we are looking forward to The Rite coming out on DVD. :)

**side note: this isn't a sponsored post. All of this is just my opinion based on a great night out with my husband. Studio Movie Grill has not compensated me in any way. I'm just sharing my experiences and satisfaction with a new place in town.