4 Carat Christmas


Welcome to Flash Fest December!

I have some author friends who have joined me in this challenge, and are contributing to the prize baskets!

This week’s prize basket:

  • $5 Amazon gift card
  • Free ebook for Red Wine & Roses
  • Swagbag
  • ebook of Protected By His Grace

This is how the prize giveaway will work:

Leave a comment throughout the week on any blog post, whether it’s the blog hop, flash, guest spot, or weekend writing warriors. I will select one of the commenters through Randompicker and post it on Monday’s post. That person can contact me on Facebook or email me at: l.e.mcatee@gmail.com.

The challenge is to write a flash piece, 500 to 1000 words based on a Holiday tune as a prompt. The author was given the option to select their own or I would assign one. Trust me,  my list of holiday tunage is anything but traditional!

4 Carat by Kelly Clarkson

 

4 Carat Christmas

by Ellie Mack

Simone added the final ornament to her tree, then stepped back to admire her work.  It was perfect!

Staging houses around the holidays were her favorite. Her business was booming and she had a tidy account as well as investments. She was the most in-demand stager in the entire metropolitan area, and as such, she set her rates.

She moved to the kitchen, adjusting the red and gold blown glass bowl on the counter that she had acquired for super cheap at an estate auction. Auctions and estate sales were a great place to get stuff! She had several high-end collectibles and unique pieces in the old warehouse that she bought.

Walking through the newly remodeled home, no one would ever know what a trash heap it was when Cort bought it.  If it had been her, she would have had it razed.

He was due any minute. She hoped that this was the night he would pop the question.

Cort McClain was the top selling real estate agent in the region.  The Homes Channel was considering him for a series to begin in the spring of the following year. One of the executives discussed the idea that a married man would be considered more trustworthy than a single man. Simone took the opportunity to drop the hint for a 4-carat ring and a promising, financially smart match.

He wasn’t her only client by any means. She had contracts with the top four real estate offices in the area, working with over forty agents. She had dated a few of the men over the past three years of building her business when Cort caught her eye. Simone paid close attention to who were the top agents in any given office and used that information to zero in on the best candidate for her future Mister. She had even considered a couple individual homeowners as candidates, but they didn’t cut the muster.

A movement out of the corner of her eye caught her attention. She turned, seeing Cort’s Mercedes in the drive. Warm fuzzies and a huge smile spread.

Wait! Was that?

She watched out the window as Cort leaned across to the passenger side, locking lips with a buxom brunette. “What the hell?”

“Hey, Simone! The place looks great as usual.”

He gave the area a cursory glance. “That rug looks great!”

“Who’s the brunette?” Simone asked as she pursed lips and folded her arms.

“Is that a Chihuly? Where did you get this one? Man, I would love to have this.”

He seemed anxious to leave and ignored her question. He’d seen the bowl before.

“Who’s the brunette, Cort?” She didn’t budge.

He laid the paperwork out on the counter to sign. “She’s an executive from the Homes Channel. We are negotiating a contract for my show.  Pretty much a done deal! Isn’t that great?” He clicked his pen to sign.

“And sleeping with that whore is part of the contract?” Her jaw was stern.

“No. Her name is Adrian and she’s one of the executives. Not the CEO, but pretty far up there.”

“Huh” Simone glanced out the window at Adrian making a duck face in the mirror admiring her ruby red lipstick. “So, . . I guess this means we’re through?”

“Yeah, sorry. I wanted to break it to you gently. Guess I failed at that.”

Simone wasn’t exactly the romantic type, but she sure as hell deserved better than this.

It took every ounce of self-control not to bash him over the head with the Chihuly bowl. She waited as he signed the forms and her check.

She wished she had never agreed to give him the friends and family discount rate. Which was a Cort only rate because she thought this holiday held a 4-carat promise for her, but she was obviously wrong.

As she held the check in her hand, reading it she saw that it should have another zero behind the three that were there.

“Next week I’ll have that house on Spruce ready to show. Think you can fit me in to stage that one?”

That was it. She couldn’t stand it as he babbled on about his career and Adrian. “You like the Chihuly?”

“Yes. Maybe I’ll buy it from you after the open house.  Or maybe, you can give it to me for a present?”  He tried to make a smolder and it just pissed her off.

“Sure! Merry Fucking Christmas!” She raised the heavy bowl and bashed him in the head with it as she spoke.

He crumpled like a ragdoll onto the floor in front of her and lay motionless. She kicked him a couple times for good measure before bending to feel his pulse.  Yeah, he was still alive. She went through the house trashing everything she could. Flinging the tree in the floor, throwing the towels in the floor,  turning the faucets on, and stripped the bed before dumping the vase of lilies. She overturned the furniture in the living room which surprisingly didn’t seem to take a lot of effort

When she had worked out her frustrations, she checked on him again before taking his pen and adding the zero to her check.

“The 4-carat ring would have been less expensive.” Just for good measure, she emptied the trash bin over him. The liquidy residuals from carry out Chinese splattered on his chest. She walked out to the woman in the car.

“Hi!  Cort is going to be a little longer.  He found some issues that need to be tidied up and a small leak in the bathroom. He said for you to just sit tight, he’d be out in about thirty minutes. Merry Christmas !” She forced a smile. “Oh, and make sure he uses protection. He tested positive last month.”

She sped off flipping them the bird.

Write on my friends, write on! Don’t forget to leave a comment!

 

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Secret Recipes and Family Favorites


This week’s MFRW blog hop post  – week 49 – A Favorite Recipe.

Being a lifelong foodie, my recent dietary changes have eliminated a lot of my favorites. It’s hard to choose just one, so I will give you a few categories.

Sherri’s Secret Salad – a lady at our church  (Sherri) prides herself on this salad. Everyone loves it, including me.  She has sworn the recipe to secrecy so that you will buy the bottled dressing from her. The funny thing is,  I wasn’t aware of that when I first tasted her salad and copied it. I can generally figure out a recipe by taste most of the time. I figured it out pretty closely, but alas it has sugar in the dressing so I have to figure out something else.

Salad base:

  • romaine lettuce, chopped
  • red onion, sliced very thin
  • cherry tomatoes, sliced in halve
  • iceburg lettuce, chopped ( I prefer to use buttercrunch myself)
  • cucumber, peeled, chopped
  • carrot shreds
  • shredded cheddar

The dressing:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3/4 cup Italian dressing bottled
  • 1/4 cup wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 TBSP additional Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Combine dressing ingredients, whisk together and pour over salad. Toss gently and serve. Guess it’s not a secret anymore,  but I can’t guarantee that is exactly the recipe she follows.

Yeast rolls – I make homemade yeast rolls every year for Thanksgiving and Christmas and occasionally other times in the year. I can’t have any,  but I still make them for the family. White bread more than other bread sends my blood sugar soaring, so I have to bypass. There is just something satisfying about kneading bread.  I follow the Betty Crocker recipe in an old tattered book that I received as a wedding present 32 years ago! I’m sure you can find it online, look up dinner rolls.

Rosemary and garlic potatoes – again, one of my favorites but I can’t do potatoes anymore because it affects my blood sugar. (Another thing I can thank cancer for!)

Super simple –

  • red potatoes  – scrub them, cutting out eyes and any bad spots.
  • yellow onion – cut into coarse chunks and separate.
  • rinse in cold water.
  • Put into large bowl and drizzle generously with olive oil.
  • Add 1 tsp salt or sea salt, 1 tsp black pepper, 2 tsp minced garlic
  • one stem of rosemary leaves, rake leaves off of stem from tip to base. Fresh is best,  the dried is like eating twigs.

Roast in oven at 375 for about 40 minutes.

Lasagna – I’ve often had requests for my lasagna. I don’t have some guarded family secret.  I use ingredients from Aldi – the secret is in the seasoning.

Find the Betty Crocker recipe online – when you make your meat sauce, add a little more garlic,  some additional Italian seasoning,  and fresh basil. If there’s any secret,  that is it. Basil is amazing.

Tonight, in fact, I am making lasagna. However, since pasta is on my no-no list, I am making zucchini lasagna. This is tricky to an old-fashioned pasta fiend such as me.

Instead of lasagna noodles, buy 3 to 4 zucchini. You can peel or leave the skin on – your choice.  I peeled mine so it wasn’t such a shock to the family. Cut the stem end and bottom end off. Slice lengthwise into thin strips, so you have long skinny lasagna “noodles”. Have your pan of boiling water at a full boil before dropping them in, and you only want to parboil them, then drain on a paper towel. Otherwise, they end up mushy and the only thing worse than mushy is gooey.

Everything else is the same in the recipe, except I omit the pinch of sugar I normally add to my marinara. Add a little parsley to cut down on indigestion if needed.

I’ve only tried this with the lasagna once before, so let’s hope that it works!

My all-time favorite dessert – brownies, just aren’t’ the same without sugar. I’m still searching for a palatable sugar-free alternative. I’ve tried a dozen or so paleo, sugar-free, carb free, and otherwise craptastic recipes. Most have ended up in the trash.

So, since you, my wonderful readers aren’t restricted to a no sugar diet, I will share the full recipe that I have always used. This recipe has won baking contests!

Best Brownies

(I usually double this)

Ingredients

  •  1/2 cup butter (real butter not margarine)

Frosting:

  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour an 8-inch square pan. In a large saucepan, melt 1/2 cup butter. Remove from heat, and stir in sugar, eggs, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat in 1/3 cup cocoa, 1/2 cup flour, salt, and baking powder. Spread batter into prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Do not overcook.

To Make Frosting: Combine 3 tablespoons softened butter, 3 tablespoons cocoa, honey, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1 cup confectioners’ sugar. Stir until smooth. Frost brownies while they are still warm. 

 

As this is a blog hop, there are many other authors who are participating.  You can check them out HERE: when I scheduled this,  the list wasn’t up yet so hopefully you will be able to go there and get the fresh list.

What’s your favorite recipe?

Remember to leave a comment to be entered into the prize drawing for the week!

 

Write on my friends, write on!

 

 

Flash Fest Begins!


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s been a while since I’ve tried my hand at flash fiction. A few years back I took a challenge on someone else’s blog to try my hand at it. It was fun and challenging and helped me to cut out some of my wordiness.

I failed at NANO this year. *Hangs head*   BUT,   in all honesty, I didn’t expect to win this year given my current schedule. I do have 18K words down,  so that’s something right?  A far cry from my usual but I’ll take it.

So . . . I wanted to do something for my readers. I wanted a way to give prizes without breaking the bank. LIGHTBULB!

Flash fiction – I will have guests on the blog on many days in December who accepted my challenge to try their hands at Flash and share prizes.

What is Flash Fiction? Flash fiction is a short short story. Typically flash is 500 words or less. Super flash is  100 words, I bow to the people who can do that.

Extended flash is 500 to 1000 –  I can do those.  The challenge is to write a 1000 word or less piece with a given prompt.  My theme is holiday tunes.

At the end of each week,  I will use the random picker to select a winner of that week’s prize basket.  Many of the authors are sharing in the prize baskets.

I was going to start things off today,   but that would make this post really long.

Sunday is Weekend Writing Warriors excerpt, Monday is a special guest then we’ll kick off on Tuesday, 5th!!!!

STay tuned, be sure to comment throughout the week in order to win!  Also,  comments on the regular posts (Friday’s MFRW blog hop and Sunday’s WWW) to add more chances to win!

Write on my friends, write on!

 

 

There’s a Hole in My Bucket


This week’s MFRW blog hop post  – week 48 – 5 Things on My Bucket List.

First, I have a couple things to say before we dive in.  I am so grateful to my friend Cathy Brockman, for sharing this blog hop. At a time when I was at my lowest low, thinking I may not survive the breast cancer, this blog hop kept calling to me to get back to writing. Yes, I’m well aware that I can be overly dramatic. My father called me on that one back when I was like six. Anyway, it may sound silly but this blog hop, even though I missed several months for a while, kept calling me back. I have met ( online ) a great group of authors associated with this blog and read their blogs.  I don’t always leave comments, but I read them.

The Bucket List is something that became all too real to me during that time. Focus on what’s important and let the rest go. I had to keep reminding myself of the four agreements, specifically do your best every day.  Some days my best was get to radiation, eat something, and sleep.  That was it.  Cancer treatment is different for each individual and for me,   fatigue was a constant.

It is still a long road to recovery, but I’m getting there!

Now, on to 5 Things On My Bucket List.

  1. Publish 20 of my books. I have a huge file of partially completed and completed stories that I have been clinging to, reluctant to release my babies. Then what did I write them for? Why do I write in the first place?  To entertain others. How is anyone going to enjoy them when they are squirreled away in a locked file?
  2. Decorate my home the way I want!  I spent many years, trying to pease my mother, trying to win the approval of my mother in law.  I spent so long trying to fit in with everyone else,  I didn’t put things on my wall that I like. Currently,  we have very little on the walls. I can’t really use the excuse of we just painted because we painted over 5 years ago. I need to minimize the clutter in my home and organize, and put up minimum decorations in this house, in order to sell.  But when we move, Katy Bar the Door! I’ve got some great ideas saved on Pinterest.
  3. Travel!!! Nova Scotia, Western Caribbean, Hawaii, Scotland, Ireland, Italy, Venice, Rome, Australia – not sure I want to go to the outback and experience the wildlife like black mambas – crikey! There are places in the US that I haven’t been to yet, and I want to go. The Badlands, Grand Canyon, and many others!
  4. Be the Keynote Speaker at an Author Event. Someday. I have done public speaking before,  that’s not the challenge.  The challenge is to do it for other writers. It will be so much more fun than speaking of scientific type stuff.
  5. MY OWN OFFICE!!!!  Let me clarify, my own home office. If you’ve read last week’s post about the office you will understand. And here is where we have the hole in the bucket.

 

There are many more items on my revised bucket list, but I know you have better things to do than stay here reading.  In fact,  why don’t you share something off of your bucket list in the comments.  Come on, do it!  Just one item, you can do that right?

As this is a blog hop, there are many other authors who are participating.  You can check them out HERE: when I scheduled this,  the list wasn’t up yet so hopefully you will be able to go there and get the fresh list.

Write on my friends, write on!

 

 

Meet my Furbaby, Ginger #MFRW


Week 43 – Meet my Pet, MFRW blog Hop.

My furbaby, Ginger is a golden chow. That is a golden retriever mixed with a chow. Her mother was a golden, and the father was a red chow. When she came to us,  she was a fluffy fat bellied fuzzball with a broken tail.

After weeks of deworming, and TLC for her poor little tail, she quickly adapted to being the third puppy in our home. I don’t know what order she was in her own litter,  but for a while, she asserted her dominance over our youngest daughter.  I began watching to see what was going on, and our youngest would lay on the floor and put Ginger on her tummy and pet her. Well, to a dog that is a sign of submission. It didn’t take but a few weeks for both of them  – my daughter and the puppy, to get the order of dominance.

Ginger still pushed it a few times, and Hannah was afraid of her when she would growl, or bark to assert herself.  To Hannah’s defense,  she was just a kid at the time and Ginger seemed like a big dog to her. Now that Hannah towers over me, Ginger only comes to her knees.

She is the most lovable, happy, easy going dog I’ve ever had in my life. That’s saying something because when I was growing up we had a St. Bernard, a gentle giant. He was like an overgrown puppy with a sweet disposition.

Recently, we had to take Ginger to the vet because she was acting disoriented, drunk, was staggering and falling down. Two days of testing and xrays led the vet to determine that she has a brain tumor. Ginger is 13 years old, her muzzle is grey, and has recently dropped weight from her usual 50ish pounds down to barely 40 pounds.

She is a prima donna when it rains,  prancing around with an “I don’t like to get my paws wet” tiptoe around the wet grass.  She loves peanut butter, she loves her mom – me! In the time we have left with her,  we are spoiling her silly with peanut butter and honey sandwiches – by the instruction of the vet because as an old dog, she is showing some signs of low blood sugar at times. Dogs get diabetes too!

Her coat isn’t as full as it once was, but then again my hair has thinned this past year as well.

We will continue to spoil her during the remainder of her time with us. Love my baby!! She helps me with my stress management.

What about you? What kind of pet do you have? You can read what the other authors have to say:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Write on my friends, write on!

First Love #MFRW


Welcome to week 42 of the 52-week MFRW blog hop – My First Love. Wow – do you realize there are only ten -TEN weeks left in the year??? Holy moly where did the time go?

My first love . . . hmmm. Does that mean the first man I fell in love with?  That would be my husband of 32 years, and we dated for 6 years before that.

Does it mean my first love as in God and Jesus? That should be all of our first loves, but I don’t really think that is what it is referring to in this blog hop. Although, if you are writing Christian romance for Steeple Hill, then I guess that would be a suitable topic.

OR does it mean my first love in reading? Sometimes I get confused as to what the intent was for these prompts, like the week about the open door, yeah I totally missed that one!

I need to think over a cup of joe while I sort this out in my head. In the meantime,  you can listen to this:

Alright, coffee consumed and I think I will share about my first love – my hubby. After all, our view about romance and how romance works is filtered through our own perceptions. I will be breaking a rule by sharing this because the hubs doesn’t like for me to talk about him, or us, on the blog.

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I was fifteen years old when I was crushing on this gorgeous hunk. Muscles, oh my! Ripped abs, bulging biceps, but not too bulky. His voice – a deep rich baritone, think Lou Rawls!

His sexy grin sent shivers down my spine before he ever cast a look in my direction. He was the Captain of his football team, I was a band geek. I never thought in a million years he would even look my way and was speechless when he asked me out. Please understand, for me to be speechless is a feat!

He had a full head of thick luscious hair, and back in the 80’s, his hair brushed his shoulders. Our first 3 dates were Friday night – school dance, Saturday night – my school dance, and Sunday – a bowling outing with our youth group from church.

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I was a goner from the first kiss. Man, can he kiss! The kind of toe-curling, knee popping, my insides turn to mush kiss.

This is one of my favorite photos of the hubs, taken long before we were married. He had been working on his car – a 64 Chevy Impala SS, you can see he’s inside the engine compartment and had been laying on the ground beneath the car.  He wasn’t too thrilled with my photography, but I just love this shot!

But, you know . . . true love is more than the physical relationship. We connected. We talked. We shared common interests while maintaining individual interests. He still loves sports, I don’t. I still love the creative crafty stuff, he is meh.

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We’ve had our share of ups and downs, highs and lows. This year has been a lot of lows, but through it all, he’s been my rock. I don’t know that I could have made it through all this cancer stuff if he hadn’t been my biggest supporter, encourager, hand holder, chauffeur, and above all, my best friend.  He was willing to shave his head with me for support!

He puts up with all of my quirks. I’ve put on a lot of weight since we first began dating and he’s rarely complained. If anything, he encourages me to be healthy and regularly tells me I can do it!

True love goes so far beyond the physical attraction, it’s difficult to put into words for the younger crowd. When you find someone who loves you and wants to be with you even though they know your flaws, your hang-ups, and every one of your bad habits. . . . that is true love and worth hanging onto.

This is the kind of love that inspires me to write love stories,  to write romance. This is what inspires me to face the next day when I’m tired of being a pincushion, tired of Dr’s offices, and tired of facing yet another change caused by cancer.

We aren’t wealthy financially by any means, but when I count my blessings,  I feel I am the richest woman alive to have found my Mister Right!

Sure, he has flaws. He’s human after all but they are easily overlooked when looking at the big picture. The big picture for me is a life full of happy memories,  two beautiful children, a loving home, and my best friend to grow old with!

I’m curious to see what the other authors have done with this prompt, so let’s go check them out.

Write on my friends, write on!

 

 

 

 

Chill Out!


This post deals with the third factor that we can have control over to improve our odds of not having cancer or having a recurrence.

There are four areas. They are:

  1. Nutrition
  2. Activity
  3. Stress Management
  4. Toxins

Today my focus is on stress management.

I am all ears.  I seriously need to learn how to handle stress. Many of the times I get sick it was stress induced.  I  tend to stuff it down until things are so volatile I explode emotionally.

 

There are numerous things that you can do to relax and unwind. I’m going to share with you the ones suggested to me, and the ones I have found to help reduce stress.

Yoga, meditation, Tai Chi, and  a daily devotional were at the top of lists of suggestions. My attemps at yoga were not stress reducing.  The instructor was good,  the moves weren’t  beyond a normal person’s range,  but with a back injury, any pressure on the lower spine caused pain and all floor moves were a strain. I am interested in trying Tai Chi. I have asked at our local YMCA if they offer it,  if not I may look it up on Youtube.

I have a daily devotional, and I journal in my bullet journal.  I find that by writing down my thoughts in my bujo,  I tend to write it down, and not vent to others.  This seems to be somewhat calming because as I write it out, I can often think of how to resolve or  see that I need to shake it off.

Exercise in various forms can be a huge stress releiver. The swim classes that I have been taking are relaxing to me. Walking on a treadmill is not relaxing,  but  going for a walk at the park is very relaxing. OK, maybe not while I am huffing up that little hill on the backside,  but when I am finished and have walked the distance,  there is a satisfaction of accomplishment and a soothing effect on the entire body.  When I was exercising regularly a few years ago,  I would use the elliptical and I participated in a kickboxing class. I really enjoyed the kickboxing,  but then they dropped it.  I didn’t feel like the elliptical was helping in stress reduction, although it was helping me to achieve better cardiovascular fitness so in effect it really was helping to reduce my stress!

A healthy nutritious diet can also reduce stress whereas a high junkfood diet can contribute to additional stress in your body.

Adult coloring books. There is something very gratifying about coloring in those little spaces! My husband bought me a couple different types of coloring books, and I recently purchased a coloring book planner.  My attention lately has been fully devoted to the planner.  If I’m not jotting my to do list, and scheduling apointments, I’m coloring in the margins. The only time this isn’t relaxing is when my eyes are strained, and it becomes aggravating and can actually lead to a headache.

A glass of wine. Red wine has  many benefits,  one of which is to relax you. My oncologist stated that a glass of red wine, three times a week would be  beneficial for my health and well being. Three glasses, not three bottles.

Some  people find fishing relaxing and a way to cope with stress. Others  will paint furniture or landscapes. I am going to try my hand at the rock painting and leave them around our area. I’ll take a picture of them once I go find some flat river rocks.

Even with all of these options,   I  have a hard time with stress management. I tend to be one of those people who wears their heart on their sleeve and take things to heart. I get wound up when things don’t go as planned, which is most of the time. I get upset when others don’t do their part. I worry about my kids,  where they are what they are doing, whether they are safe. I worry about the cancer –  what if it comes back, what if it spreads next time,  what if my girls end up with it, what if . . . and then I am so wound up that even the bottle of wine doesn’t help.

My sister’s solution is Xanax.  I don’t have a prescription to Xanax, but I am wondering  how in the world I am going to manage this emotional rollercoaster that I have been on ever since being diagnosed. The medications only contribute more, causing my emotions to be heightened.

While you are reading this, I will be practicing my favorite form of relaxation: toes in the sand.

What do you do to unwind? How do you manage the daily stress? The emotional stress? What form of stress releif do you practice?

I will do everything within my power to never have to go through this again, including changing my lifestyle completely.

Write on my friends, write on.

 

You’ve Got to Move It!


There are four things that you can do to improve your odds of not having cancer or having a recurrence of cancer. They are:

  1. Nutrition
  2. Activity
  3. Stress Management
  4. Toxins

Today my focus is on the second one, activity.

It is recommended that we move 10,000 steps a day and that we are active for at least 30 minutes a day, six days a week. Now, that is the bare minimum.

Coming off the end of radiation treatment,  the fatigue was overwhelming. I had very little energy to do anything more than going to my treatments, walk up and down the hall a few times a day, and slept the bulk of the time.

Now that I am recovering from the fatigue,  it’s still lingering but not nearly as bad.

The first time I went to the park to walk, I had to sit on a park bench after just a few minutes. I ended up doing a half mile but stopping three times because I was so weak. My mind goes instantly to a few years ago when I was diligently doing my cardio, working for an hour at a time on an elliptical, treadmill, or multi-trainer.  But I kept at it.  The next week I was able to do fifteen minutes continuously. The following week I was up to 18 minutes.

I started doing some videos at home with Fitness Marshall. I could barely do one, then rest and do another later. Little by little though I am gaining strength and endurance.

For everyone,  it is recommended that we get 30 minutes of cardio movement daily. For a cancer patient, it is vitally important. Movement increases your blood flow, it strengthens your veins, it strengthens your heart.  You don’t have to run marathons –  thank God or I’d be screwed.

In fact, starting off it is recommended that we engage in a moderate exercise of 30 minutes. Coming off of radiation 30 minutes was overwhelming. Nobody was pressuring me to do more except my own inner drive.  I had to come to terms with the reality of where I was,  what I had been through, and know that if I kept at it,  I would see improvement.

Well, I have. I’m not there yet but I’ve improved.  I can stay on the treadmill for nearly 30 minutes at a time.  I can keep up with the Zumba class for nearly the full 45 minutes. I started an aqua aerobics class today and managed the entire class without having to stop. That may not sound like much to some of you, but considering just a few weeks ago, I had to sit on the park bench after only ten minutes,  it’s progress.

I see many people that set a goal to run a marathon or a 5K. If you like to run go for it. I need to lose a significant amount of weight before I would feel comfortable running.  I think it would be damaging to my knees at my current weight.

I want to be able to walk down the beach to the pier without sucking wind. I want to be able to go  up the stairs without feeling exhausted.  I want to be able to do the things I need to do throughout the day without feeling like I need a nap. Not that there is anything wrong with naps,  but when you feel drained every day after just cleaning the bathroom,  it doesn’t get the house clean.

I know it will be there waiting for me tomorrow,  but when you go in the bathroom and it smells like toilet. . . . .  some things have to be done now.

Speaking of current weight . . . I haven’t been making weekly posts or anything,  but I am down 32 pounds since surgery on May 3rd.

A lot of that was due to not having much appetite with new medications to take, general nausea from chemo medicines, facing side effects of treatments, learning what foods would stay down and be tolerated because I do not like to puke.

The last ten, however, has been hard fought. I have reached a point where nausea has subsided or I’ve just learned which foods to avoid. My appetite on some days makes me feel ravenous. I have to be careful,  a lot of bread type things do not cause nausea and they are easy to grab. Pretzels, toast with peanut butter, crackers,  are all former go to snacks.

I have to limit my carbs. Whether caused by the stress of all of this or just timing with genetics and being overweight,  but I was also diagnosed with diabetes so I have to learn how to eat differently. As I mentioned last week,  the dietician has been one of the best parts of my treatment plan.  When my primary doctor told me to watch my carbs, he said no more than 15 carbs.

I was very careful not to eat more than 15 carbs for the entire day. That isn’t a  lot.  So, I go to the dietician and she says limit each item to 15 grams of carbs,  but I should have 45 grams a day. Well,  That was also why I lost a few of those pounds.

Exercise can help in weight loss. My goal, however, is not to exercise to lose weight. My goal is to exercise, to a minimum of 30 minutes a day in some form or other to improve my quality of life and prevent the recurrence of cancer.

I have been active at least three days a week for the past month. That is a big improvement from the previous three months. This week starts my five days a week plan.  I don’t know how long it will take me to be comfortable at this level, but I’ve always heard that beyond your comfort zone is when you see improvement.

The important thing is to start where you are.  If you walk to the end of your driveway and back and that is all you can do,  then shoot for doing that every day for at least a week before increasing.  Then, do it twice a day for a while until that is comfortable. Then add something else.

You don’t have to join a gym,   you can walk in your neighborhood.  You can exercise with youtube videos.  You can do jumping jacks in your living room – well, maybe you can.  I couldn’t a few weeks ago.  I didn’t have the energy after radiation. Who knows, maybe next week I will.

Most of us need to take better care of ourselves. I certainly do. This is a hard lesson for me,  to make myself a priority and take care of myself.

As I prepare a lesson for tonight and will have to wear one of those paper hospital masks to protect myself from germs because I will be around people,  I am reminded that this is worth it.  I am worth it.

 

I will do everything within my power to never have to go through this again.

Write on my friends, write on.

 

Proper Nutrition for Preventing Cancer Reccurrence


Last week I posted No Cancer formed against me shall prosper,

today I’d like to address the first of four areas that is within our power to control.

Obesity increases your odds for a heart attack and diabetes, the two most medicated conditions in our society.

Obesity increases your odds for cancer. This is something I never heard before the diagnosis of breast cancer. Certain cancers like breast cancer feed off of the hormone estrogen, which is carried in the fat cells, and the more fat cells, the more estrogen, the higher your risk for cancer.

Don’t believe me?  Go here:  American Cancer Society

Sugar feeds cancer as well.

Let me tell you,  there is nothing that will put the fear of dying into you like CANCER.

Much like diabetes, cancer can be self-inflicted.

There are four areas that we can have control of whether or not we get cancer or get a recurrence of cancer.  Once you have been diagnosed with cancer,  there is always a risk of it returning. You’re always looking over your shoulder.  I want to put as much distance between me and cancer as I can.

IF I CAUSED THIS,  THEN I CAN FIX THIS.

I can at least do everything within my power to improve my odds of survival.  The first major area to help prevent or avoid a recurrence is proper nutrition.

A well-balanced diet, consisting mainly of plant-based nutrients with lean proteins as the best dietary plan that I ‘ve seen prescribed by doctors and the American Cancer Society.  I looked at various diet plans: juicing, (not recommended for diabetic patients) vegetarian, (also not recommended for diabetic patients) Mediterranean, South Beach, and the recommended My Plate diet plan.

The dietary plan that works best for me is a modified MyPlate plan that leans towards Mediterranean. This excludes sugar, soda, processed meats, processed foods, chemical laden anything. Which means  no more: soda, (yes I occasionally would enjoy a Coke, or Mountain Dew) bacon (ouch that really hurts but carcinogenic) hot dogs, bologna, processed meats, smoked sausage, processed cereals,  Kraft mac and cheese in a box (no more powdered cheese sauce mix), alcohol (I’m going to miss my wine),anything soy (soy doesn’t play well with breast cancer), and reduced red meats.  No turkey bacon– have you ever read the list of ingredients to make that? Talk about processed!

Think about the sugar alone –  have you ever checked the labels for ingredients to see if it has sugar? How many sugars? There is sugar in things you would never imagine. Crackers, for instance, some of them contain sugar.

I can have red meats once a week. So if I opt for a burger,  that is my red meat for the week.  If I have a slice of ham for breakfast, that counts for the week.

Just about the entire center section of the grocery store I can bypass. The bulk of my diet – no pun intended – is fresh fruits and vegetables. I am limited on the number of carbs I can have because of the diabetic issues, and I am hoping that over time and by following this plan, as my weight drops that I can lose the diabetic medications as well.

Part of the whole cancer treatment plan is seeing a dietician. Best part of the plan for me! It certainly beats the radiation therapy by a mile!

In all honesty, this has been a difficult change to make. A lifetime of bad eating habits have to be changed. So, I’ve been learning to adapt to a new way of eating because quite frankly,  my old habits were killing me – literally. It’s really easy to say no to the foods I shouldn’t eat,  all I have to do is look at my scars.

In order to give myself the best chance of beating cancer, I employ the top 10 list of nutrient dense foods. These are high in phytochemicals, which contain antioxidants, which help fight cancer. I eat  at least one of these a day.

TOP 10 Nutrient Dense Foods:

1. Salmon

Not all fish is created equal. Salmon, and other fatty types of fish, contain the greatest amount of Omega-3s. Omega-3 fatty acids are extremely important for the optimal function of your body. They’re linked to improved wellbeing and a lower risk of many serious diseases .

Although salmon is mainly prized for its beneficial composition of fatty acids, it also packs a massive amount of other nutrients.

A 3.5 ounce piece of wild salmon contains 2.8 grams of Omega-3s, along with lots of high quality animal protein and a ton of vitamins and minerals… including large amounts of Magnesium, Potassium, Selenium and all the B-vitamins .

It is a good idea to eat fatty fish at least once or twice a week, to get all the Omega-3s that your body (and brain) desperately need. Studies show that the people who eat fatty fish regularly have a lower risk of heart disease, dementia, depression and a plethora of common diseases.

Also,  salmon tastes awesome and is fairly simple to prepare. It also tends to make you feel full with relatively few calories.

2. Kale

Of all the super healthy leafy greens, kale is king. It is loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants and various bioactive compounds.

A 2/3 cup portion of kale contains:

  • 200% of the RDA for Vitamin C.
  • 300% of the RDA for Vitamin A (from beta-carotene).
  • 1000% of the RDA for Vitamin K1.
  • Large amounts of Vitamin B6, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Copper and Manganese.

This is coming with 2 grams of fiber, 3 grams of protein and only 50 calories.

Kale may be even healthier than spinach. Both are super nutritious, but kale is lower in oxalates, which are substances that can bind minerals like calcium in the intestine, preventing them from being absorbed.

Kale (and other greens) are also loaded with various bioactive compounds, including Isothiocyanates and Indole-3-Carbinol, which have been shown to fight cancer in test tubes and animal studies.

BOTTOM LINE: Kale is one of the most nutrient dense vegetables you can eat, with large amounts of vitamins, minerals and cancer-fighting compounds.

3. Garlic

Garlic really is an amazing ingredient. Not only can it turn all sorts of bland dishes into delicious treats, it is also incredibly nutritious. It is high in vitamins C, B1 and B6, Calcium, Potassium, Copper, Manganese and Selenium.

But garlic is also loaded with another incredibly important nutrient called Allicin, which is the active ingredient in garlic. There are many studies on the health benefits of allicin and garlic. It has been shown to lower blood pressure and total and LDL cholesterol, while raising HDL… which should lead to a reduced risk of heart disease down the line.

It also has various cancer-fighting properties. Studies show that the people who eat a lot of garlic have a much lower risk of several common cancers, especially cancers of the colon and stomach. Garlic is also very potent at killing pathogens like bacteria and fungi.

BOTTOM LINE:Garlic is both tasty and extremely healthy. It is highly nutritious and the bioactive compounds in it have known disease fighting properties.

4. Shellfish

Out of all the wonderfully nutritious organisms found in the sea, shellfish may be the most nutritious of all. This includes clams, oysters, scallops, and various others.

Clams are among the best sources of vitamin B12 in existence, with a 100 grams of clams supplying over 16 times the RDA! It is also loaded with other nutrients, including Vitamin C, B-Vitamins, Potassium, Selenium and Iron.

Really, shellfish are among the most nutritious foods in existence. Unfortunately, people rarely consume them.

BOTTOM LINE:Shellfish are among the most nutritious organisms found in the sea. They are very high in important nutrients like Vitamin B12 and Zinc. Really,  who needs encouragement to eat more shellfish, right?

5. Blueberries

When it comes to the nutritional value of fruits, blueberries are in a league of their own. Although they’re not as high in vitamins and minerals as vegetables (calorie for calorie), the antioxidant content is where they really shine. They are loaded with powerful antioxidant substances, including anthocyanins and various phytochemicals, some of which can cross the blood-brain barrier and exert protective effects on the brain.

Several studies have examined the health effects of blueberries in humans. One study found that blueberries improved memory in older adults. Another study found that obese men and women with metabolic syndrome had a lowered blood pressure and reduced markers of oxidized LDL cholesterol, when they added blueberries to their diet.

This finding makes sense, given that eating blueberries has been shown to increase the antioxidant value of the blood. Then multiple studies in test tubes and experimental animals suggest that blueberries can help fight cancer.

BOTTOM LINE:Blueberries are very nutritious compared to most fruits and are loaded with powerful antioxidants, some of which can increase the antioxidant value of the blood and have protective effects on the brain.

6. Dark Chocolate (Cocoa)

Dark chocolate with a high cocoa content is one of the most nutritious foods you can eat.

It is loaded with fiber, iron, magnesium, copper and manganese. But the biggest factor is its amazing range of antioxidants. In fact, a study showed that cocoa and dark chocolate scored higher than any other food they tested, which included blueberries and acai berries.

There are multiple studies in humans showing that dark chocolate has powerful health benefits… including improved blood flow, a lower blood pressure, reduced oxidized LDL and improved brain function .

 

Make sure to get dark chocolate with a 70% cocoa content, at least. The best ones contain 85% cocoa or higher. Eating a small square of quality dark chocolate every day may be one of the best ways to “supplement” your diet with additional antioxidants. Permission to eat chocolate!

7. Spinach

Popeye knew what was up: Spinach is one of best sources of potassium and is also rich in vitamin K, vitamin A, manganese, folate, and iron. One cup raw provides over half of your daily recommended value (DV) for vitamin A, which is necessary for healthy vision, immune system, and reproduction. Want even more? Cooked leaves provides over 100 percent! Sauté in a little olive oil and garlic to accompany your dinner or add to a salad.

8. Brussel Sprout:

Brussels sprouts get a bad rap, but their nutrient profile will set the record straight: One cup cooked provides 195 percent daily  of vitamin K—crucial in helping your body absorb calcium—and 125 percent of vitamin C, which plays an important role in the formation of collagen, the main support system of skin, which helps to reduce wrinkles. Plus, they offer more than 10 percent of your vitamin A, vitamin B-6, folate, potassium, and manganese needs for the day. Try roasting brussels sprouts with olive oil and then tossing in balsamic vinegar to enhance their flavor.

9. Almonds:

We might not always think of almonds as produce, but remember they do come from a tree. Almonds are a great source of vitamin E, biotin, manganese, copper, magnesium, phosphorous, fiber, and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. They’re the perfect afternoon snack to rack up nutrients and help hold you over ’til dinner. Just be sure to stick with a one-ounce serving (shot glass size) or you’ll wind up consuming too many calories.

10. Sweet Potatoes:

Sweet potatoes are, of course, best known for being a great source of beta-carotene (hence the deep orange color), which may reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer, decrease heart disease, protect against asthma, and slow down the aging process. But one medium sweet potato also provides over 100 percent of your daily needs for vitamin A, 37 percent for vitamin C, 16 percent for vitamin B6, 15 percent for potassium, and 28 percent for manganese. You’ll also find small amounts of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, vitamin E, thiamin, riboflavin, and folate in the bright veggie.

I have had either spinach or kale nearly every day. Brussel sprouts makes a good side with salmon. Half of a sweet potato with a little salt and pepper is very satisfying. Blueberries are one of my favorites.  I like to have blueberries with cottage cheese, with a little lemon zest.

There are more nutrient dense foods, but these are my fast go to foods to ensure that I get the nutrients I need. I hope this helps some of you,  it’s sort of my go to cheat list when I am pressed for time,  haven’t thought out what to cook for dinner or what sides to have. It’s super simple to throw together a salad that includes either kale or spinach.

Any excuse to add shellfish to my diet is a good one.  Since I have to eliminate red meat from my diet most of the time, shellfish and fish have been staples. Plus, a light meal of crab salad replacing that burger is much more satisfying.

If you find this interesting,  then leave  a message.  I’m considering sharing recipes for this new eating plan.  It may not be a big deal for most of you,  but growing up in middle America, in a large family that celebrated with food, it’s certainly a deal for me.

Let me know what you think.  Would you like to see recipes?

Cancer took a big part of my peace of mind and has left me with a compromised immune system.scars, I am determined to do everything within my power to never have to go through this again.

Write on my friends, write on.