Pomp and Pandemic Circumstances

Welp, I finally did it. I finally had the opportunity to participate in a graduation ceremony. To walk across that stage and receive my diploma. To wear a sweaty cap and gown.

And the graduation was canceled because of COVID-19.

You’ve probably heard a lot about the high school seniors, and participated in some celebration for them. Completing high school and getting to celebrate that milestone deserves celebration. College graduates are considered, but their considered a little less. And graduate school graduates? I haven’t seen much.

My school, The Citadel, held a virtual commencement ceremony in place of the actual ceremony on May 9th. Graduates (cadets, evening undergraduate, and graduate) were asked to submit a photo, a quote or message, and a video. All optional.

Here’s my page.

The quote? Well, I think that’s obvious. I want to see changes in things and the only way I can do that is by actually doing something. I’m a doer. I’ve said this before. It’s why I volunteer for the American Cancer Society, it’s why I coach a wellness group with some good friends of mine, and it’s why I want to become a BCBA.

Of course, my posts can’t be all serious, right? I have to add a little silly. That picture? There’s a story behind it. First of all, I hate it. I received an email from the university shortly after they canceled graduation asking for a photo in professional clothes. I ignored it for about a week, thought about it, ignored it some more. I mean, what was I supposed to do while in self-isolation? Schedule a sitting with a photographer to take a nice picture because I legit have NONE?! I did reach out to a few photographers mentioned on our neighborhood Facebook page as ones who were doing senior photos. Since I’m not one of the “cool kids,” I got no responses (I say this because other people got their pics, but no one replied to me – oh well). So I ignored the email some more (and the subsequent reminder emails). and briefly mentioned to Brad that I might have him take a picture and Photoshop it to look professional.

This brings us to April 23rd, the DAY the picture was due.

I got a little hissy early in the day. All up in my feelings because my graduation was canceled and how dare they ask us for a professional picture during a damn pandemic?! (Seriously though…) So at about 8pm that evening, right after I finished exercising, I whipped out my nice camera and said, “OK, Brad. We gotta do this.” I was sweaty and gross in my workout clothes. I was trying to stick the camera on the tripod and find the perfect space. Then I let my stinky, sweaty hair down and straightened just the front on both sides (the back looked like a bird’s nest, I kid you not). I changed my shirt from my workout shirt to a dressier shirt. I didn’t even put on makeup. I stood in front of my bedroom door and Brad took a few pictures. From the shoulders up, obviously, because workout shorts. So I took the pictures to the computer and had to chuck like half of them because of blurriness and all my chins. I couldn’t do enough Photoshop magic to fix that crap.

So I pulled a Hail Mary. I reached out to a cover designer friend of mine who is an amazing photographer and graphic designer (just not local to me). She made it look like I was standing in front of a white wall, instead of a white-paneled door (sigh). She also fixed my face so it didn’t look like I was glowing (from sweat).

I still hate the picture of me, but I love that (as usual) I have a ridiculous story to go with it. That will help make this achievement in my life more memorable, for sure. A story I can tell my grandchildren some day.

Or maybe not…

Adventures in Container Gardening

I tried this last summer and got fed up and gave up. Something kept eating my strawberries and tomatoes. That something might have been Barkley. Or it might have been a squirrel. Judging by the way he went after the weeds in some of my pots today, I’m thinking Barkley was the most probable culprit.

I downsized this year. I didn’t plant as much as I did last year. I basically went with the plants that grew well last year since I knew (hoped) they’d do well again. I also didn’t do any herbs since I didn’t end up using them last year. Pictured above are green onions, an assortment of sweet and hot peppers, tomatoes, garden beans, and okra. I planted the seeds back in March and they grew so well! We’ve also had some good rain, which is awesome because I only remember to water them maybe once a week. I need to move some of them to new pots to spread them out, so I’ll be doing that over the weekend.

Hopefully I’ll get something out of these this year!

Recipe: Stuffed Portabella Mushroom Caps

There’s something about Pubix Greenwise Italian chicken sausage that makes this meal amazing. Any Italian sausage would do, but I’ve loved it most with that brand. Yet another adaptation, this started out from a Publix recipe that used gorgonzola cheese. I like gorgonzola cheese, but it can be overpowering. Replacing the gorgonzola cheese with the blend of Italian cheeses gave it a whole new life.

This recipe can easily be multiplied. Since the size and depth of the caps often varies, sometimes you end up with some stuffing leftover. I usually just serve it on the side, if it lasts that long…sometimes I eat it while I’m waiting for the oven… << shrugs >>

Anyway, this is pretty straightforward, so there’s not much to add. The sausage is already cooked, so you’re basically just keeping it in the oven long enough for the cheeses to blend together inside the cup. I usually check it every once in a while to make sure the cheese on top is melted and not burnt, and that’s how I determine when to take it out. I can usually get some kitchen clean up done while it’s in the oven.

Enjoy! ❤

Virtual Wine Run 5k

Finding things to do these days is tough. It’s all about being innovative! Our neighborhood has had bear hunts, sidewalk chalkings, and Easter egg hunts. The other day there was even a Jeep and golf cart parade.

It’s been great catching up on some stuff I’ve been neglecting and taking walks and drives around town, but I’m a doer, and I want to do more!!

While scrolling through Facebook the other day, I came across a Virtual Wine Run! I guess it’s traditionally an in-person event, but they’ve made it a virtual thing because of social distancing. You register (and get a t-shirt with your race packet mailed to you), then do your run/walk around your neighborhood or on your treadmill or whatever, then submit your time to the website. You can also share pictures.

It seems like a fun thing to do and a way to feel part of something bigger when you can’t actually be part of something bigger.

From what I understand, after a typical Wine Run, local wineries or vineyards provide wine. I’m not entirely sure if it’s to taste to buy, but you do get a wine glass with your registration packet, so yay!! Maybe I’ll break out some of the strawberry wine I got from Deep Water Vineyards over the summer.

The race benefits the Nikolas Ritschel Foundation. The foundation grants wishes to people 18-24 years old with varying types of cancer. Check out their website, the stories and wishes are heartbreaking. Most of them just want to go on vacation with their family and not have to worry about anything for a week. Surely this is a cause we can all get behind. Kids — young adults — NO ONE — should have to deal with cancer.

If you want to join us, click here.

I’ll post some pictures after we do it. ❤

Recipe: Instant Pot Orange Chicken

Helllllllllo! I’m really excited to share this recipe. I was also so excited to eat it that I didn’t get a great photo. Sorry about that.

I adapted this recipe from one I found in the Instant Pot app. I made it a few times and tweaked it each time until it tasted amazing. Some of the measures in the recipe below are approximates. I use as much chicken as I need to feed whoever is eating, and I also tend to eyeball the liquids at the beginning to an amount that I feel will cover the chicken, which is a variation from the original recipe. I pretty much do this by increasing (or decreasing) the amount of orange juice and barbecue sauce. I keep the rest of the ingredients the same, though and I don’t think it’s affected the outcome. Since we all probably have different favorite barbecue sauces and orange juices, it’s probably going to taste a little different no matter what.

It’s about 3/4 inch deep at the bottom of my 6 quart Instant Pot and that nicely covers two packages of chicken thighs.

This was seriously a great find and I loved experimenting with it to make it mine. I use Smucker’s brand natural orange marmalade and it made such a huge difference from using the regular stuff. I’d recommend that if you do use regular orange marmalade, add in some orange peels or orange slices to get that zesty orange taste.

So yummy! Enjoy!

Breakfast Deconstructed & Root Veggie Scramble

Most mornings, I don’t have time to have a real breakfast. I mix up a superfoods shake and grab a piece of fruit and run out the door. Even when I don’t have to run out the door, laziness prevails and I do the shake and fruit again.

These days, things have significantly slowed down. There have been days when I’ve slept until noon (not gonna lie) and breakfast turned into lunch. There have been days when I’ve done my “usual” shake and fruit. Then there have been days where I’ve been able to have (what I like to call) my weekend breakfasts. Nothing fancy exactly, just more than a shake.

Today’s “weekend breakfast” is a root veggie scramble. It may not sound appealing, but it is loaded with flavor and nutrients and it’s absolutely delicious. There are also variations, so you can use ingredients you enjoy.

I enjoyed mine with some whole grain toast with natural peanut butter and a piece of maple sausage from our local Lowes Foods (they have amazing sausage!!). I also only used one egg to offset the sausage. See recipe below.

So let’s deconstruct breakfast.
The thought process behind my nutrition for breakfast is quite simple, really. My main priority for breakfast is protein and carbs. Our bodies need protein and carbs in the morning to get us going. Food is fuel, so it’s best to give our bodies what they need when they need it. At breakfast, veggies are an awesome addition, and they do help in making me feel more full, but they’re a bonus at breakfast! I generally try to save most of my veggies for later in the day when I reduce my carb intake so I can still feel satiated. So I go with a protein and a carb for breakfast, one serving of each, which is loosely 3/4 cup or 6 oz for protein (ex: 2 eggs) and 1/4 cup or 4 oz for healthy carbs (ex: 1 slice whole grain bread), or 1 cup or 8 oz for fruit (ex: 1/2 banana). My rule of thumb for veggies is a 1 cup or 8 oz serving, but I sort of feel like you can’t go wrong with extra veggies. They’re full of such great nutrients. If you wanted to do this scramble with 1 turnip, 1 carrot, and 1 beet, you are fine. If you count calories, I think you’ll find that adding an extra veggies doesn’t break your calorie bank. I have a small portion of healthy fats each day (about 1/3 cup or 2.5 oz), and today, I happen to be sharing that with between breakfast and dinner (cheese). Hot sauce is a freebie, so as long as I’m not drinking the bottle, I can enjoy a drizzle of hot sauce whenever I feel like adding a snap of flavor to my meal. I was never a huge fan of hot sauce, but a few recipes called for a bit of it, and I got hooked. I’ve found that there are quite a few egg dishes where hot sauce has been a great add on (think egg salad or deviled eggs – yum!).

I hope you try out the root veggie scramble and enjoy!!

Social Distancing: Barkley Style

It feels weird that I posted about the new direction I’m taking BST without a nod to the pandemic affecting nearly everyone in the world. Obviously, the ample time I’ve had on my hands since our area began social distancing is what allowed me the opportunity to even think about the blog.

That being said, I’ve been doing a whole lot of nothing, otherwise known as staying home and staying safe. I’ve watched a lot of Netflix/Hulu/Amazon. I make the occasional trip to the store or we aimlessly drive around town for a change of scenery, but where we’re getting most of our out-of-the-house entertainment from is Barkley.

This is him and his best girl, Chloe. I don’t really know if they’re boyfriend and girlfriend or if they are just the best of friends. Either way, it’s like they were made for each other.

These days, this is what Barkley lives for. Those few minutes when he gets to play with Chloe while his mom and/or dad are being eaten by gnats. Sometimes he gets to see his other dog friends: Geisha, Ellie, or Snoopy.

I can’t wait until I’m able to go out and play with my friends! In the meantime, I’ll continue to live vicariously through Bark.

Welcome to the new BST!

Hello friends and family!

I’ve been struggling with what to do with BST for some time now. I’ve always enjoyed blogging, but I didn’t want to keep blogging about breast cancer when that isn’t the focus of my life anymore. I was torn between starting something new somewhere else, or moving forward here.

I’ve finally decided that I’m going to move forward here. BST is going to focus on Living a Healthy Life after C. It’ll be a lifestyle blog where I’ll continue to share my adventures, this time with an emphasis on healthy living for both mind and body.

I hope to include:
– some of my favorite recipes (and recipe mishaps)
– fur-mom life
– container gardening (insert more mishaps here)
– traveling adventures
– my love of music

I hope you’ll stick around as I continue to find humor in my day-to-day life!

I hope you dance

I’ve been thinking a lot about friendships lately.

I don’t have too many local girlfriends I can call up and say “Hey, let’s go out.” I have family nearby, neighbors, and some friends I’ve made through my current and previous employers. I’m not friend-less, by any means. We just all have lives and responsibilities and schedules, and it isn’t always easy to get together without proper planning.

Yesterday I was thinking about a particular friend and how I might reach out to her and see if she wants to go to dinner or lunch to catch up, then I remembered how the last few times I reached out to her, she left me hanging. I decided that I didn’t really want to do that again. Relationships take work from both people, you know? My time is just as valuable as anyone else’s time. It got me thinking of a few other friends who I’ve had similar experiences with recently.

I can appreciate that people have loaded schedules, lord knows I do most of the time. Juggling patients, graduate school, a thesis, internship, doctors’ appointments, coaching, and writing doesn’t leave much time for personal and family time, let alone a social life and leisure. I do what I can to try not to leave people hanging, but I’m sure I have a time or two.

Isn’t it just weird and a little sad to think about how time passes and people who were once significant parts of your life, in one way or another, sort of fade away?

It’s been almost a year since our fur-baby Daisy passed away. I was in such a dark place after we lost her; so incredibly sad. I felt like an actual piece of my heart was missing, she’d had that significant a role in my life. I was having a bad day about a month after she passed and wrote about it here. I was venting. Sad, upset, and frustrated with life and all the crap Brad and I had been dealt over the years. I wasn’t sharing for sympathy or anything like that. I was just being real and getting it all off my chest. After that post went live, a friend of mine from high school reached out to say she’d seen my post and was sending me a hug. It was such a nice gesture, something that probably took a minute of her time, and something I will probably remember for the rest of my life.

Gestures like that are priceless.

She and I don’t talk often at all and it’s been years since we’ve seen each other, a couple decades probably. But she saw I was sad and she sent me a hug. How cool is that? Isn’t that what we all should do? Not just comment on someone’s public post, but send them a message to let them know we’re really thinking about them? This friend doesn’t just share posts about mental health checks for friends, she actually does it. #friendshipgoals

Some people come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.

Author Unknown.

It’s hard coming to grips with the fact that some of the friendships I had in the past — ones I’ve treasured and are part of so many fond memories — may have reached their expiration dates. Our reason or season has ended, and as much as it may stink, I guess it’s okay. Moving on and growing is part of life, right? Constant motion. I’ll probably still see them on Facebook, but our days of personal check-ins have come and gone. Maybe our paths will cross again in the future — I’d like that — but I think it’s healthy to let go and make space for new friendships.

To all my old friends, I hope you dance.

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger
May you never take one single breath for granted
God forbid love ever leave you empty handed
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance

I hope you dance

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Livin’ might mean takin’ chances, but they’re worth takin’
Lovin’ might be a mistake, but it’s worth makin’
Don’t let some Hellbent heart leave you bitter
When you come close to sellin’ out, reconsider
Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance

I hope you dance

Lee Ann Womack