Sunday, July 8, 2012

Pizza so forgive the idiots around you

For some months or maybe even longer - It has seemed like the right thing for me to do is to write more about food.  I am obviously a huge fan of food, and I think I know a good thing when I taste it.
Therefore, here is my first official post about food I ate in a restaurant.  Prepare to be amazed.

Who:  Il Cane Rosso
What:  pizza
Where:  Dallas, TX
When:  last Thursday night

The Neopolitan Pizza oven - wood fueled and awesome!

We arrived late on a Thursday night - and the place was packed.  The wait was 35 to 40 minutes - but we opted to squeeze in a spot at the bar.  No easy task to battle Dallas folk - but after scoring one lone barstool - a kind busboy wrangled us another stool from the back.  The seats at the end of the bar gave an upfront view of the pizza oven and the pizzas being made!  Each pie was being hand formed and tossed right in front of us.
While I can't lie - the clientele was a bit on the rude and obnoxious side, the waitstaff was fantastic.  Our waitress Rachel gave us great service - something not often found when sitting at the bar.

We ordered up 2 glasses of wine - One Sangiovese and one Barolo.  Also the Salumi Misti as an appetizer


The Salumi Misti was a great starter! Warm fired bread served with marinated olives, pickled vegetables - like a giardinera - but more delicious - gorgeous fresh mozzarella and shavings of parmigiano reggiano - there were also 3 cured meats.
The Luana - almost gone!

For our pizza we chose the Luana - a fresh and fabulous San Marzano tomato sauce with fresh mozzarella, basil, sausage, mushrooms and a spicy soppresata.  I was right back in Italy the instant I bit into it.  If Il Cane Rosso has made it their mission to bring Italian pizza to Dallas - they have succeeded!

For dessert - they really outdid themselves.  The Bella Mela - is the same fabulous crust - but topped first with a vanilla bean mascarpone cheese - they pipe it on....then they add caramelized apples and in it goes to the oven - when it comes out they sprinkle it with sea salt - drizzle caramel and powdered sugar.  SHUT UP!  I know!  It was out of this world.

I left stuffed to the gills - but oh so happy!
I would make a return trip again.
Prices were super reasonable and food was outstanding!
Boni Boni Boni!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

A word about Dad....long overdue

The BBQ chef - This was a Father's Day gift one year - hat and apron.  We called each other 'chef' before it was cool

Check out our outfits.....Travolta clearly took wardrobe clues from Alan!

I still lay like that on the floor - minus the pigtails.  Dad looks like Michael Landon in this photo

Visiting at Nan & Pop's

Dad taught me how to fish.  I could even put worms on!

I feel sorry for my Dad.  He is often the forgotten one in our family.
It was just him in a household of women.  Hormonal, moody, hysterical, picky women.
It is only ok for me to say that about myself, my mom and sister.  
Dad bore the brunt of our pent up emotions. 
One look across the table from my Dad - and ~*boom*~ I would crumple into tears.
The poor guy wore a look close to mystified......WTH just happened?!
As a young girl, Dad was not the first one I ran to.  It was not his fault - it was just the nature of being a girl and wanting Mom.
Even when I left home - It was always Mom that I called wanting to talk to.  Poor Dad, never getting to talk to me, always the last one to know what was going on.  It was as if since the girls discussed it, everyone must know.
Sorry Dad.
I even mistakenly thought I had once upon a time written about my Dad here - but after going back through the archives - I found I was wrong.  Just like me to assume.  Poor Dad.  Not one single post dedicated to him.
I am confident that my Dad knows that I love him.  We all love him.  Giving him a bad time is to be expected.  As my Dad would say,  
"This is what we do in this family" 
and he is right.
As a family, we tease, we mock, we joke, we laugh, we give each other a hard time.  So basically, for the past 40 years, my Dad has come to expect that he is the last to know and the one that his 3 girls will gang up on.

I love my Dad.
He is a great story teller - and I love that mischievous look he gets in his eye seconds before he delivers the punchline.
Dad has a laugh that fills a room and is totally recognizable as his own.  I think my own big mouth, loud laugh comes directly from him.
Dad taught me to love and admire stupid humor.  My Mom and Sister have no love of really bad, stupid movies like me and my Dad.

Even though I may not always have run to Dad first with problems or heartache - he always comes to the rescue.  I am still guaranteed a big bear hug when I need one.  Thank you Dad for always listening and being my biggest supporter.  I know he is proud of me.  And that means the world to me.

Dad has taught me many valuable lessons along the way.
My favorite one is "if it's free take it"
Don't think you can't carry it, or you don't have room for anymore - take it!

And still, no matter how often I say I hate something - I still can hear him saying,
"Hate is a very strong word.  Do you really hate it?"
When you hear your Dad saying this to you in your head when you are gossiping with girlfriends and saying you hate so and so or such and such - it really does make you think.....and yes, you do get the parental guilt trip!

I am calling this one, "Dad yelling at me"  Even though I say "yelling" when I am just being spoken to in a rational manner.

Thank you Dad for teaching me to love my family no matter what, thank you for going to the store early in the morning to get me 'supplies', thank you for morning Starbucks runs, and rides back and forth to the airport.....from the wee small hours of the morning and the night!  Thank you for teaching me to be a foodie before it was cool, thanks for dancing when "Shout" comes on, thanks for teaching me how to fish, and how to ride a bike for 40 miles all at once.  Thanks for still making me feel like you are there to take care of me even though it turns out I have been a grown-up for a long time now.  Thanks for liking me on Facebook and learning how to text.  Thanks for always understanding that we love you even when you think we leave you out.

Love You Dad!  Happy Father's Day!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Hysterectomy......the hype, the hysteria, the aftermath so far

It turns out that turning 40 has been monumental in the life changes my body has physically gone through in the past 5 months.  Anyone that knows me - knows when it comes to medical anything - I tend to freak out first and then read everything online about the problem - convince myself I have the worst case scenario and freak out even more.
When I went looking for information on hysterectomy - my searches came back with many sites - but I didn't find anything with a real life account of what happened and what to expect.  I hope this post can help at least one person feel a bit better about the operation and not be frustrated by the enormous amount of information that is out there along with all of the emotional feedback you find.  I am not trying to make any political statement here.  If you want to read about why doctors do so many hysterectomies and why they don't give women more choices yada yada yada - this is not for you.
The bottom line was, I was sick, I was bleeding enormous amounts of blood, I had tumors and a cyst and early signs of pre-cancerous cells - I wanted it out.  Pretty easy decision.

So, how did I get here?
After battling the back and the back surgery - my long time anemia was discovered.
My hemoglobin was 4.6 - apparently so low that standing would have been impossible.  But I was standing and doing many other things.
My doctor began the search to find the cause of the anemia.
I had blood work, MRI's, abdominal ultrasounds, pelvic ultrasounds - and viola!  Fibroids.  And a very large tumor or cyst on my left ovary.
Blood loss was so substantial that they doubted my body could keep up with blood production even with my iron supplements.

Two minutes into my pelvic exam - the doctor said without doubt the uterus needed to go.  Hysterectomy.
For sure they would remove the uterus and the left ovary.
A few weeks later - it was also determined after an abnormal pap smear - that my cervix would have to go too.

There was also no choice for the type of hysterectomy I would have to have.
Abdominal - with a vertical incision.  The uterus was just too big to come out any other way.

This was probably the hardest thing to hear - the cosmetic was a bigger worry for me than the procedure!  I was surprised at my vanity - I am not a bikini wearing midriff revealing person - but this was hard to swallow.  I also realized this would not be out patient surgery.  I would have to spend a few days in the hospital too.

4 weeks prior to my surgery - I received a shot to stop my bleeding.
The shot didn't hurt at all - they do give it to you near your hip.

My pre-op visit was very easy.  You meet with your doctor.  She explains the check in steps.  Explains the surgery and about how long she thinks it will take and what the following days will look like.
You then go and do blood work, give a history to the nurse and all of your vitals are taken.  This includes weight, temperature and blood pressure - and the famous pee in the cup!

Surgery day you arrive at the hospital, standard rules apply of no food or drink after midnight.  I did shower that morning and dry my hair.  No makeup, lotions or perfumes and no dark nail polish!  Because I have had some problems in the past with the blood oxygen readers - I actually took my nail polish off completely.
When the nurse takes you to the back - you take off everything and get a gorgeous purple paper gown to put on - and comfy socks to keep your tootsies warm.
I did bring a bag with a nightgown, robe, panties, more socks and toiletries.  It was really unnecessary.  I only used my toothbrush, deodorant and hair brush.  Don't stress the night before by packing.  I did and now I know it was wasted time.
The nurse starts your IV and you are visited by your doctor and the anesthesiologist.  They usually give you and antibiotic, anti-nausea medicine and your first hit of happy juice.  You are also fitted with the electrodes that will monitor your heart.
I was given a cap to cover my hair - kissed my loved ones and was wheeled down the the operating room.
This is where I lost track of everything.
Waking up in recovery - I was aware of pain - and remember calling out "ooouuch" a few times.
I was in bed, the head of the bed was raised.  I had multiple blankets on me and my legs were in two sleeves that inflated every few seconds.  The heart monitors were gone - but of course the IV remained in place.  My purple paper gown was replaced with a cloth one.  I also had a catheter placed during the time I was out and in my right hand the wonderful pain pump.
They also placed a folded warm blanket on my abdomen over the incision site.  The heat and pressure were very welcome.
After swallowing a few spoons of ice -  I was wheeled into my room.

The day of surgery - I was in and out of consciousness all day long.  The combination of the wear off of the anesthesia and my pain medicine kept me pretty loopy.
I did experience nausea that was pretty severe.  I was terrified to vomit - and did alert the nurse.  She gave me additional anti-nausea in the IV and it went away fairly quickly.
It was explained to me that I would be kept on clear liquids until I started to pass gas.  (lovely I know)
I was also very aware of my sore throat - the breathing tube they inserted during the surgery caused me discomfort - it lasted for just a bout a day and a half.  But I was so drugged up - I didn't do much talking anyway.  The talking I did do was related to how did the surgery go?  What did the doctor say?  And I gushed love for everyone that was around me.
The surgery did go well - as expected - my giant uterus was cantaloupe sized with tumors - my right ovary looked good and stayed in place to give me the pleasure of future menopause and hormones.
The worst parts of day one:

  • they check your vitals all the time.  sleep is often, but also often interrupted
  • gas pain is terrible
  • you don't want to eat anything - I did keep eating the ice to help the dryness - but the nausea made me afraid to put anything in my stomach
  • seeing your pee emptied is gross and embarrassing with a crowd
  • I was terrified to move my body
  • I itched like crazy from the stuff they swab on your body during surgery
I was given chicken soup later that afternoon.  It actually felt good on my sore throat.
That night - the night nurse told me she would be in at 4am to take out my IV, catheter and get me up and walking.
Luckily, with no sense of time - it turned out to not be a problem.

Day 2
The nurse arrived promptly.  My vitals were checked and she told me to give the pain pump another hit before she took out the catheter.  It didn't hurt - but it did feel very weird.  I was relieved to have it out - no more pee pee emptying in public.  (But the terror of knowing I would have to get up myself!)
I was fitted with a bizarre pair of mesh panties and the longest pad I have ever seen.
She told me to wait about 2 hours before actually trying to get up and go to the bathroom - I was told I would feel like I needed to go - but that was just because of the catheter coming out.

Next, she uncovered me and examined the incision - In all honesty - I could not bring myself to look at it.  But she said it looked really good.  The large outer bandage was removed and she cleaned the wound.  The incision on the exterior is held together with steri-strips.  All stitches are actually below the surface.
Because I had some nausea - she left the IV in my hand - but unhooked my pain drip - I did get to have another pump before she unhooked it - and was given oral pain meds.
She told me the Doctor would be in to take a look and talk to me.

I must have fallen asleep again - but like clockwork - about 2 hours later woke up ready to hit the bathroom.  I buzzed for nurse to help me.
This was terrifying - but she was patient with me and told me what to do.
The most bizarre thing - is that even though 24 hours earlier you are walking into the hospital - when you stand up - your brain doesn't seem to remember how to walk.  I took uneasy shuffle steps with the nurse and made it!  A good tip for anyone - be sure to stand up straight when you do get up the first time - if you stay hunched over - it will make it that much harder to unhunch later.
The hardest part is walking because you forget how - but I think more of the fear came from being afraid to open up the incision.

As hard as getting out of bed is - getting in is no easier.  But I managed.  The doctor arrived - examined me and gave me my marching orders for the day.  Walk around as much as possible.  It would help to get the gas moving.  (which by the way had not moved and was super painful).  She didn't want me on solids until that happened.
The nurse came in and gave me yogurt, a laxative and more gas medicine.  ick

I did spend the day walking the halls, walking around the room, and avoiding bed.  I did get to eat chicken fingers for lunch.

The worst parts of Day 2
  • blisters on the back of my left leg from the vena sleeves.  in my terror to move, the inflation of the sleeves rubbed my leg against the catheter tube and the plastic part of the pillow that had my knees propped up.  
  • Gas pain - it hurts more than the incision
  • I itched like crazy from the stuff they swab on you during surgery.
  • Gas pain - it doesn't go away no matter what you do
  • wanting to go home - but knowing you have another night of interrupted sleep
  • Gas pain - owwww it hurts
Dinner was hard to eat that night - the gas pain is so bad - you don't want anything to do with food.

Day 3
I was restless all night because I was so anxious to get to ok to go home.  I did manage a toot or two - so I was feeling that nothing would keep me there.  I had no fever and no complications.
Sure enough - when the doctor came in the next morning - she told me after breakfast I could go home.
She did examine my incision again.  I was told to not get it soaking wet - and that after one week, I could take the strips off.  For the next 6 weeks - no bending, stretching, lifting etc...

I was given my discharge instructions, a prescription for pain meds and a stool softener.

The nurse gave me great advice for the first 2 weeks - which are very restrictive for what you can do.
She said, "2 hands, too heavy, 2 weeks"
If I had to use two hands to lift it, it was too heavy - I needed to follow that for the next 2 weeks.
No driving until the doctor sees me in 3 weeks.  Normally, I think I would be cleared for driving earlier - but with Memorial Day - the Doctor is out of town - so I have to wait longer for my next all clear.

Coming home was a relief.
You get to take a shower - just be sure to dry the incision well!  (use a hairdryer on low setting held at arm's length away)
You get to sleep in your own bed - restful and uninterrupted
What to expect next:
  • Expect the gas pain to continue - ugh - the sounds your stomach will make are truly otherworldly.
  • The first bowel movement is also not pleasant - but keep on the stool softeners and you will be good to go.
  • Keep moving - walking does get everything moving well!
  • Rest when your body tells you too.  I have been napping when my body tells me to.  And yes, I am still able to sleep at night!
  • Get a body pillow - having the long length is comfortable to sleep with - and the soft pressure on the incision feels good.
  • Use your legs and arms to stand and sit.  Don't use your stomach muscles!
  • Let people help you - it is good to be spoiled post op!
One week post op and so far so good.
Updates to follow!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

C' a pal

I am reaching out to the blogosphere and beyond to request help for a great organization.
I ate chili for them on Sunday.
So this is how you can virtually take part in supporting something I support.
Don't you feel at one with the universe now?

Click HERE....and donate!
Thanks for being a pal and a buddy.

To read more about Best here.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A New Recipe - Cilantro Lime Shrimp Risotto

I tried my own creation tonight -
A Cilantro Lime Shrimp Risotto

I used a basic risotto recipe with a few twists.
It truly had the flavor I was looking for.

1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. olive oil
chopped shallot
1 1/2 cup risotto
4 c. chicken stock
juice of 3 limes
1/2 c. chopped cilantro

instead of wine - i used the lime juice - then began with the ladels of chicken stock.
I finished it with another tbsp of butter, sea salt, black pepper and the cilantro.

i also roasted the shrimp with olive oil, salt and pepper and added it at the end - i wanted the shrimp to have that yummy roasted flavor.

A true dinner success - and a nice Lenten non-meat kick off!

On a side note - I have given up Bravo TV and sweets for Lent.
Oh the humanity.
I am already looking forward to a Marshmallow Peep Binge on Easter Sunday along with some sort of Bravo Marathon!
40 days of no Housewives!!!!!!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Chili Cook Off! Culinary Excellence for the Judging...

I love Top Chef.
Usually each season - I don't feel like committing to a season - but I watch; and after one episode and I am hooked.
I have basically decided that I am a foodie - and that I can judge good food with authority.

After all - I was able to distinguish the distinct flavor of Chinese 5 spice in chocolate pudding.
(and that was after many, many glasses of wine)

So anyway - this past Sunday I attended a chili cook off to benefit Best Buddies. It was my first chili cook off - or as it was really touted as - a "one pot" cook off. The event was held at The Ginger Man pub. It was a fun little event and offered me my first opportunity to pretend I was Padma.

I did enjoy a tasty Hard Cider - Ace Pear. It was really yummy as I am not a beer drinker as a general rule and it gave me an appropriate buzz.

There were 10 pots to taste from - and I wish I had taken note.....but at the end of the day here is what is still sticking with me. The second to last one I tasted was VERY disappointing. Drain the fat off your meat!!!! Ugh...the greasy factor ruined your effort.

My two favorites were not even really chili - there was an Irish Stew and a Middle Eastern harissa thingy that were really yummy. I did get to taste 2 exceptional chilies - the first one was smoky with the perfect amount of heat - and the second one was on the sweeter side with just the right amount of heat. And as we have learned on Top Chef Texas this season - contained NO BEANS! Real Texas chili doesn't have beans!

I have decided that given the opportunity to taste multiple foods at once and stand in judgement is really a fun way to spend a Sunday. Throw in some tasty beverages and some music - what could be more perfect?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Snap out of it!

Ok, enough is enough. I am removing myself from the funk of 2012 that I began. It's time to listen to Cher and snap out of it.

So its been a tough year so far, big deal. Other people have it much worse than me.
But let's sum up the year so far. I like to summarize for the new people that stumble across the blog.

  • Back problems that now require surgery - apparently I am strangling a nerve and may have permanent nerve damage. But really, who needs to feel all parts of their left leg?
  • Low hemoglobin - it is so low, apparently I should be almost dead, unable to speak or stand upright. On the upside, I am clearly a science miracle.
  • I turned 40. Which means I should change the name of this blog now - but I don't know what to change it to. I feel I deserve to look perpetually in my 30's. Feel it - believe it - become it.
  • My beloved grandfather died.
  • I was fired. Technically they say my job was "eliminated" - and they did offer me another job - but that would require me to move - AGAIN - and I am not going to do it. So I am 40 and fired.
  • Ending my marriage. I am choosing not to comment broadly on this - because some things are best kept personal.
Ironically - I think I have ac
hieved most of the life events that qualify as traumatic and life changing in a short amount of time.
As you can see from the below chart - I have had a great deal to work through.

And that is why it is
time to snap out of it and count my blessings.

  • Personally - I am happy and content.
  • I look really good for 40 - those ladies at the Hairport where my Nana gets her hair done thought I was in my 20's - granted, they are not exactly style or beauty editors for Vogue - but a compliment is a compliment.
  • I am not a Philistine
  • I am a medical miracle - who else do you know with 4.6 hemoglobin not permanently hooked up to a blood transfusion?
  • I can sleep almost through the whole night again - if you have chronic pain - you know what a blessing this is.
  • All of my health problems can be fixed. The doctor said so.
  • I am only 10lbs away from my ideal body weight - never in my life have I only needed to lose 10lbs! I am super excited about this.
  • Even though I am losing my great job, working for a company I love and with the best people - the ones that have reached out to me have made me feel better than I ever did before. I know I made an impact on lives. That is pretty cool and profound.
So that is that. I am snapping out of it as we speak.