Friday, March 29, 2013

How Does Your Garden Grow?

     Sometimes I think I'm getting better at gardening, sometimes I think I'm getting worse. Good and bad aside, here's some things I've learned (mostly from my dad who is a badass at gardening) that I thought I'd share now that spring is officially here.
1. Have a plan. I've mostly failed at this, but the ideal situation is to organize your garden so that you replenish plants when necessary. You don't want to have perennials, which have a shorter bloom, loose their luster at the same time your annuals, which die out each year, bite the dust. Also, it's a good idea to separate herbs from flowers.
      -->Good tip "tis' better to succeed just a little than to fail grandly" 

Start small, succeed small, build on that success. 
2. Improve the soil: How? Organic matter. Compost, decayed leaves, grass clippings and organic fertilizer.
3. Prune: remove dead leaves and flowers. Trim or remove stems and branches that are growing wild and crazy to keep the shape pretty.
4. Keep pests out: pick off caterpillars and give them a new home (outside of your garden!). Use an organic spray to keep bugs away (don't be polluting the ocean and waterways now with chemical runoff, ya hear? :). Keep an eye on your plants for noticeable signs of sickness or disease. 
-->tip: I've heard you can place chamomile tea at the base of a seedling once a week to control damping-off fungus. 

5. Give them food and water. I know this is obvious, but this is typically where I struggle. I usually remember to water my plants, except when I don't and their soil turns to some form of concrete. I also forget that, aside from water, plats like to eat, too. Take the information stake that comes with the plants and leave it with that plant (push it down in the dirt behind it so you can't see it and then pull it out for reference when you need to). Then you can remember exactly what you're supposed to do for feeding and watering for each one.  

Got any other tips? I'd love to hear them!

and gardening tips
Some organic products:

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Vegetarian Taco Soup

I originally got this soup recipe from Bridget of Tales of Me and the Husband (one of my favorite blogs for years now), but I had to adapt it to my vegetarian needs. Let me tell you guys, this recipe is a favorite around here. When Scott walks in the door and smells that delicious taco smell of hot peppers, smoked paprika and simmering vegetables he tells me immediately "My day just got better". It makes my day better, too because it is an easy healthy meal I can prepare in around 15 minutes (yep!) and leave in the crock pot to cook while I surf, write, return emails and hop around town wrangling kids. I've included both canned and fresh options for some of the ingredients. The version I make depends on how much time I have.

2 cups diced red onions (or whatever you have)
1 can pinto beans, drained
1 can black beans, drained
1 can corn OR 2 ears "shaved" cooked corn off the cob
1 can Mexican style stewed tomatoes 
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can diced green chilis OR 1/2-2/3 cup of fresh green chilis chopped small
1 can black olives, sliced 
1 package taco seasoning mix (MSG free, low sodium is best)
3 cups of vegetable broth (sometimes I add more if I want it to be more "soupy" than "stewy" )

Add all of the ingredients to a slow cooker and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or simmer over low heat for 1 hour in a pot on the stove.

This recipe is great because you can pretty much eat it year round (at least we do). 
Add toppings such as cilantro, avocados, cheese and sour cream to your liking. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

A Ladybug Went Surfing with Me

a silly little poem for your Monday
One day, 
a lady bug went surfing with me.
The sea was so calm and blue and green, she thought a dip would be the perfect thing.
She decided to dive in,
but her wings were too small and could not help her swim.
I scooped her little body into my hand so she would be safe and
together we rode a wave.
The ride was swift, but not paralyzing.
She was excited to experience my kind of flying.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Thankful Things

This week I'm thankful for...
because they remind me of my Nonny
new opportunities 
(I'm working with Roxy on their new Outdoor Fitness Line, yay!)
food on the road
(romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes, flax seed chips, Parmesan cheese, italian dressing)
the road
food at home
(pasta sauce: sugar plum tomatoes, onions, garlic, carrots, fresh basil, seasonings)
sunset sessions
with Scott
(whose back is much, much better now :)

how about you?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

My Kind of Place

     Daphne's was made for me, I swear. I'm stoked to be sponsored by that restaurant because it suits me so well. I already told you how affordable it is (~$30 for Scott and I to get an appetizer, drinks...with alcohol in them!, and two entrees), they  allow you to make any item vegetarian (and don't side-eye you while you request it), their items include fruits and vegetables and are rich in good-for-you fats that will protect your heart, they use real plates and silverware to help out the earth, they list the calories in each item and I know that makes me seem like some crazed calorie counter (I'm not), but sometimes it's nice to know that the rice, falafel, grilled veggies and pita pocket plate isn't more calories than the salad (ya know?) and they're really friendly. They remember you! They come by and make sure you have everything you need even though it's a pay-at-the-counter kind of place. Sure, they're my sponsor, but I speak the truth. It's a great place to go if you're in the mood for a filling, healthy meal that comes quickly and makes you feel good. 

So now my question is, have you tried Daphne's before? 
What does your kind of restaurant look like?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Lately: Pictures and Thoughts


1. California Poppy
2. finding higher ground
3. Big Sur river
4. sea level 
5. Highway 1
6. tree hugger
7. home away from home
8. bride, groom and a vintage police car
9. on the road again
10. birthday spud

      There were many events that went on over the weekend, not the least of which was the wedding of one of my best friends. Thursday afternoon, Scott and I left San Diego and headed to Big Sur to do a photo shoot for a new project I'm working on for Roxy.

     I love the central coast; beautiful wildflower fields roll all the way down the hills to the water and streams slide through valleys filled with redwood trees. Whenever we go there, I feel this overwhelming sense of calm. You can barely get the internet and it'd be hard for anyone to find you. Camping reminds me of escaping to my secret fort as a child. It's somewhere I can retreat to, to reflect on the things in my life that happen away from that haven and try to gain a new perspective on them. 

     I had two decisions to make by Sunday. I thought about them all week and was constantly in limbo about what I should do since both decisions had good and bad outcomes. But you know what? I knew what I should do from the start and I just wasn't listening to myself because I kept thinking I would come up with this perfect plan. Standing next to the Big Sur river it was suddenly so clear to me that sometimes there just isn't an ideal conclusion. Once I recognized that, I made the decisions and moved on. You have to do what you know is right for you, not what's right for someone else. 

     On Friday, after a bike ride to the beach, we packed up the (excess) baggage we brought and headed to San Jose for the start of Nicole's big moment. The rehearsal dinner was warm and personal. The ceremony was elegant and meaningful. The reception was sentimental and intimate. Nicole looked beautiful and happy. So far I have known her (now) husband Mike to be a quiet and funny guy with good work ethic, a warm smile and eyes only for Nicole. During the wedding, I could see how much he deeply loved his partner, honored her and will stand behind her for life. I felt really at peace knowing he is going to take care of my friend.

     On the way home, we dropped by my sister in law Kristen's birthday bash at a campsite in Malibu. We were exhausted, but Kristen had enough energy for everyone. Her enthusiasm for life was contagious, as always.

     I'm writing this from the passenger seat of the car on Sunday night. I smell like a camp fire. It was a great weekend spent with those we love in places that make us happy, but I'm so glad to almost be home. 

I hope you had a good weekend, too! 

Friday, March 15, 2013

A St. Patrick Surf

I always knew I liked St. Patrick.

Enjoy his day! 
We're off road tripping to a friend's wedding. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

{Another} Flight of a Sea Dream

I know many of you have already seen this most recent film I made and I doubt many of you managed to dodge my mentions of the events surrounding it, but here it is one final time in case, by some miracle, you missed it ;)
I can't thank you all enough for your constant support and encouragement. 
I mean, where would I start?
 I could say: 
This whole experience would have been much harder to swallow without your kindness. 
Your "me too"s and pats on the back helped me feel way less lame. 
Your advice will stay with me.
and that would all be true, but somehow it doesn't feel like enough.
I hope it is for now. I hope you know I really mean it.

p.s. if the contents of this post sound really vague and unfamiliar click here and here

Monday, March 11, 2013

This Weekend I Went to The Film Festival

     This weekend we went to a wedding, a surf contest for the kids I coach and a film festival. The film festival I wanted my movie to be in, to be specific. And you know what? It wasn't all that bad. I mean, I was still sort of feeling sorry for myself in the car as we drove there, sitting silently in the passenger seat playing somber songs like "Stacks" by Bon Iver, but the important thing is, I put on a pink dress and a (half) smile and we went. I just knew I needed to, if only to prove to myself that I could. 

     Truthfully, I kind of wanted it to be over as soon as we arrived and I think it's because I still have some growing to do in this area as a person (not taking things personally, letting stuff go...). It was hard knowing how cool it would have been if my film had been shown too (I mean, check out this venue. A surfboard ceiling? It's just...awesome!). But! I can say it was a good experience. 

     Some of the other films shown will stay with me. There was a really funny one about surfers from New York that gave me a different perspective on surfing and its own subcultures. None of the women in it had blonde hair or wore flip flops or clothing with recognizable surf logos.They had their own surf image that was unique to their city surroundings. One of these ladies even admitted she needed to see a therapist because of surf addiction! I never knew therapists would even know what to say about something like that. 

     A part of me really felt they should have shown my film (hey, you have to root for yourself!) and that was hard to swallow, but I like moments like this that really amplify your feelings, even when they aren't your happiest. Most Saturday nights I'm not attending film festivals that didn't accept my work and doing so brought about feelings I hadn't felt before. If you ask me, any experience that allows you to feel something you haven't felt before is worthwhile. In the least, these moments help you grow as a person and know yourself better. 
How was your weekend?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

My Movie's "Premier" on La Mia Vita

Hey guys. I did a guest post on Nicole's beautiful site La Mia Vita today. The post contains the video I made for the film festival that was "rejected".
Drop by and check it out, if you like. 

p.s. comments are off; leave any notes you like over on La Mia Vita 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Solo Session

     Solo sessions- I don't get enough of them, but when they come, they stay in my mind like a good birthday or a delicious meal. 
     On Friday, I awoke to 78ยบ weather and quickly traded my flannel jammies for my red Roxy bikini and some boardies. I made Scott's lunch (PB&J, a fruit, string cheese, crackers- always.), said goodbye, Facetimed with my family, who all happened to be in New York this weekend (my parents were visiting my East Coast sisters) and gave the stove a cleaning so good I was startled by its appearance when I walked back in to the kitchen a few minutes later (shows you how often it looks that spotless!). I packed a variety of boards into the back of my car with my mind set on spending the day down on the beach testing them out.
     Standing on the bluff above the beach, I could see a pack of guys at my usual spot, South Peak. To the right of them, there were a few four foot waves rolling in without anyone riding them. At the same time, I saw a clean right hander push its way through South Peak. One of the guys, a legendary local who has surfed this spot for over 30 years, caught the wave, drew a high line and crouched right next to the wave's face (I imagined it was so he could hear what it had to say). He cruised past section after section until he was standing on the sand. It was a perfect wave, and he paddled back out right next to another guy who seemed nearly as pumped about the ride as the legend himself. 
     Aside from this flawless wave, I didn't want the same thing for myself. Not today. Today was a day for me and the sea; a time for me to talk to it and listen without interference. 
     I rely on these solo sessions to stay in touch with myself. I like to sit out there and study the blueness of the ocean, trying to see through it to some kind of understanding. I think about the things that are bothering me and let them float off into its darkness and I reflect not only on what I know, but on what I'd like to find out about life. On these days, I leave the ocean feeling like a wind up toy that's been fully wound up again; I'm energized and ready to take on what's ahead.

What do you do to find solitude, re-connect with yourself or make some sense of the world?
p.s. Thank you all so much for your overwhelming support on Friday's post about my cousin's fight with cancer. You guys are unbelievable and I feel so lucky to have you as readers and friends! If you didn't get a chance to check out Michelle's blog, here it is again

Friday, March 1, 2013

Someone I Want to Share with You

Hey everyone,
     I wanted to share something with you today that's a little heavy because I think it is an important topic to discuss and be aware of. It also helps me put things into perspective when I think I'm having a bad day. Perspective is so important. But don't worry, you're more likely to find yourself smiling at the young woman I'm about to introduce you to than shedding any tears. With that being said, here's the wretched truth...
     My cousin Michelle has cancer. She found out over Christmas while on a family vacation. She is 25 years old and has already had a double mastectomy. The past few months have been traumatic. I mean, most 25 year olds people don't have to worry about freezing their future children to keep them from being poisoned by chemotherapy, but somehow Michelle is mostly smiling laughing her way through this ordeal! The girl is tough. When I found out, I had one of those weird moments where you don't know where you are and the whole world around you seems like someone else's life. The only way I know what it felt like for her is because she has been open enough to tell us...all.
     She started a blog shortly after her diagnosis to document her experiences. The blog is called Killer Boobies. The title alone gives you some idea of her wicked sense of humor. Believe me when I say Michelle is a brilliant writer. Her blog is better than the books I'm reading right now. Her attitude belies the seriousness of her situation. Besides humor and honesty, she offers a poignant look at mortality. I wanted to share some of her story here and lead you to her blog, not just because this diagnosis has affected someone I love dearly, but because I think she is an inspiration; the kind of person who offers wisdom and insight you'll think about on your drive to work even though you've never met her. 
     Now I'll let her do the talking herself. The following are excerpts from her blog that give you some idea of the amazing character my cousin, Michelle, has.
As you can see, this koala did a breast exam on me and didn’t find anything. I’m firing him as my doctor.
My name is Michelle.

I’m 25 years old, and I have breast cancer. At first I was in denial. Then I was scared. Then I remembered that I’m only 25, and decided to treat this whole cancer thing with the same humor and youthful irreverence with which I treat everything else in my life.

I think the idea of nipple tattoos is kind of cool, I’ve always kind of wanted to shave my head and I am blessed to have an amazing family, wonderful friends and the world’s greatest boyfriend here to help me through this.

[Here's an excerpt from her post on the diagnosis:]

On December 21, 2012, some lunatics were convinced that, due to some old Mayan calendar charter who ran out of room on a scroll, the world was doomed to end in an earthquake of rage and hellfire. But December 21 came and went, and for most people, not a thing changed.

I wasn’t one of them.

For me, the Mayans were right: December 21 was the end of my world. That day, what I thought was a routine gynecological appointment to drain a lingering breast cyst became something more when I was shuttled into a dark ultrasound room, probed and prodded for over an hour, forced to undergo an immensely painful and invasive biopsy, then confronted by a kind yet frank radiologist who said, “Unfortunately, it does look like a cancerous growth.”

On December 26, 2012, she called to tell me what I already knew: the biopsy results were back, and the lump in my breast was cancerous.

“Breast cancer?” I said incredulously, looking down at my 30As. “Me? But I don’t even have breasts!”

{read the rest of this post here: The Boobpocalypse}

The Diagnosis 

I found the lump myself, a few weeks before my 25th birthday. I went to the gynecologist, who told me it was a cyst and not to worry, but to come back if it didn’t disappear in a few months. Four months on, it was still hanging out. That’s when I got the ultrasound, the biopsy, and the news that changed my life forever.

Here’s what we know so far:

  • Invasive ductal carcinoma with lobular features
  • 1.4cm tumor at 11 o’clock on the left breast
  • ER+/PR+
  • HER2/neu+++
  • Grade 2
  • 0/1 nodes
  • Double mastectomy with immediate reconstruction on 1/11/13
  • BRCA 1 & 2 negative
  • 6 cycles of “TCH” chemotherapy
  • One year of intravenous monoclonal antibody treatment (Herceptin)
  • Five years of hormone therapy (Tamoxifen)
I think all of Michelle's posts are moving and extremely well written, but here are some that cover aspects of a cancer diagnosis that everyone should know: 

1. What’s the scariest part of chemotherapy?

A) Its historical relationship with deadly military gasses
B) Having to wait to find out which side effects you’re going to get
C) Needing to take steroids, and then needing to eat EVERYTHING IN SIGHT (MORE CUPCAKEEESSSSS)
D) All of the above

2. What’s the best part of chemotherapy?

A) Snacks!
B) Law & Order: SVU marathons
C) Not changing out of my jammies all day long
D) All of the above

Hint: The answer is DD, because this blog is about boobies.

The Most Exciting Regular Day Ever (What people fighting cancer and disease really want)

I had an incredibly normal, basic, simple day today, and there’s really no way to convey how excited and happy that makes me.

Here is a list of normal things I did today for the first time since surgery:

1. Put on makeup. I looked in the mirror, which recently has been a little traumatic, and actually spent some time applying mascara, blush and lipstick. It’s amazing how something so simple can really boost your mood and make you feel pretty.

2. Put together an outfit that didn’t look like a cross between something Hugh Hefner would wear on a bad day at the mansion and costume pajamas that would make an awesome and comfy Halloween outfit. No sweats and slippers for me today! I’m wearing leggings with chunky socks and boots, a flannel button-up and a cozy faux shear sweater. I look like a normal 25-year-old instead of someone’s senile grandma robbing a Victoria’s Secret Pink store.

3. Slept in my own bed, on my side. Yes, you guys, I left my dear chaise lounge and went back to my own bedroom last night. I didn’t stay up ’til 2am watching late night talk shows. I didn’t have to sleep on my back and wake up three times in the night to take pain meds and empty my drains. I slept through the night and woke up without a sore back (or, at least, with a less sore back) for the first time in two weeks.

4. Went to lunch!

My beautiful, funny, sweet aunt came up from Laguna Beach to visit today. I was nervous about this because I haven’t had any visitors since my surgery, since I was too busy watching TV, eating chocolates and popping pain pills to talk to anybody – but I’m so glad she did. We went out to lunch at a cute cafe where I was a barista in high school. I felt like I was a super-secret spy because no one suspected I was a direly ill cancer patient, and everyone just served me my BLT wrap and jasmine tea assuming I was a normal, healthy 20-something. I should probably enjoy that, because once I go bald, it’s going to be real obvious that something is wrong with me.

My aunt also brought me an amazing outfit that I can’t wait to wear, now that I’m back to actually dressing myself, as well as some pastries, a fun puzzle and a book of prayer. I truly feel like I’m having Cancer Christmas. New amazing things arrive in the mail each day! In fact, over lunch, we were discussing the variety of reactions that people have had to my news and the different ways they’ve reached out to me, and it forced me to reflect on what truly helps at a time like this. Gifts are sweet and wonderful, but what I love more are the letters that come with them. What really means the most to me is when people I love call, text, email and write to let me know that they love me, too. 
The best thing to hear right now is how much my friends value our friendships. In some ways – and I know this will sound bizarre, since it sounds bizarre even to me – this diagnosis has been a blessing. I’m like Tom Sawyer, getting a chance to listen to my own eulogy – hopefully, like Tom, without actually dying. I know that getting to the other side of this experience will give me a life of purpose and love I never could have imagined without it.

Bills, Bills, Bills, 
When I passed out in the MRI prep room a thousand years ago (read: last month), an ambulance had to come and pick me up to drive me literally across a parking lot to the trauma bay of the main hospital. I just got the bill for that. It was $1,360.
My ambulance ride cost me roughly $700 per minute. Good God, at least they could have taken me in a limo! I should have been poppin’ Cristal in a hot tub in the back of the thing for that price
Alright, you knew it was coming: I have to talk about my hair.

Objectively, the hair thing just seems so…trivial. I mean, if a genie came up to you and said, “[Your name,] I’m going to let you live a long, healthy life – provided that you go six months completely and utterly hairless. If you refuse, there’s a 30% chance you’ll die.” You’d obviously take the half a year of baldness, right? I mean, I totally would. Wouldn’t I?

Also, what kind of jerk genie would ask that?

But subjectively, when B-Day (that’s Baldness Day) starts to sneak up on you, it becomes this big, distracting deal. I was tired of dealing with the stress of that when I really needed to be focusing on the fact that while yes, chemotherapy will make me look temporarily like an alien, it’ll also be saving my life. So I made a decision that I was going to take charge of the hair situation.

The doctor came in while I was in recovery to let me know that they had gotten 15 healthy eggs, which means that even if I wind up totally infertile at the end of this whole ordeal, I can still get all Duggar family up in this biatch (“this biatch” being my womb) if I so choose.

Isn't she amazing? I know I'm biased, but I also know I'm not off base. There are many more excerpts from her story. I encourage you to explore more of her perspective for yourselves on her site (but definitely don't go to by accident like I did because, let me tell you, it's not a blog about an insightful 25 year old winning a battle against cancer!) 

Enjoy your weekend! And don't forget: check yourself! and tell the people you love how much they mean to you!