THANKSGIVING: TRADITIONS OLD AND NEW

Happy November!  And happy almost Thanksgiving!  From our very first Thanksgiving together, my husband and I hosted big Thanksgiving feasts for family and friends.  It was pretty amazing, if I do say so myself.  Mike made a lot of the side dishes.  He even has a 'secret' recipe folder.  We also had different ideas about how to cook a turkey.  Mine was traditional, and he always had some new, hip recipe he found to try out on our unsuspecting guests.  That led to two turkeys being cooked and what came to be known as Mike & Julie's Annual Turkey Cook Off.  Everyone participated, in our blind taste test, which each of us tried to blatantly sway in our own favor.  It was always a lot of laughs.  Well, Covid broke Thanksgiving traditions around the country last year, and we all adjusted, shifts were made, and Zoom blew up.  

This year we will not be hosting due to Mike's condition (if you don't know about that, you can read about it here).  Since he still thinks he can do everything, but suffers massive confusion, the kitchen has become a "Danger Will Robinson" zone.  

I posted some of the pictures, below, of past Thanksgiving's last year, for Covid Thanksgiving, and thought I'd share again because there are some good, easy no/low cost tablescape ideas.  

The first picture is of my favorite centerpiece.  My daughter and I forged pine cones, twigs, and berries to make these and the galvanized buckets were from the dollar store.  You don't need to spend money to make a beautiful tablescape.  Picture 2 is one of my charcuterie boards.  I love making these, they become their own table decor because they're so pretty.  Picture 3, what to do with your left over halloween pumpkins, paint them!  Picture 4, a super quick and easy napkin holder idea made with twine and a sprig of rosemary.  Pictures 5 & 6, just for show.  Picture 7, store bought rolls that you score with a knife and stick a pecan on the top and wa-lah you have a tray of edible mini pumpkins.  I found this on Pinterest.  Picture 9, one of our Thanksgiving Al Frescos, the beauty of living in Southern CA, extra special because it was my Moms last Thanksgiving with us.  And 10, my favorite fall wreath on our front door.  

Covid has changed things for so many and my husband being sick has changed so much for us, so it's time to make new holiday traditions.  What those look like, honestly, I have no idea.  But I do know that Thanksgiving will continue to be my favorite holiday.  For the "Thanks"" part I'm thankful for all the memories I have of this holiday. 

And for the "giving" part, I like to give meals.  It's so easy!  Did you know that for the price of your Starbucks you can feed four people on Thanksgiving!?  Just google your local mission and make an on line donation.  It would mean so much to those who need it.

From Our Home To Yours, 

    Happy Thanksgiving!






THE HIGHS AND LOWS OF BLOOD PRESSURE:

When I was growing up, my favorite food was fried shrimp.  Of course I wasn't getting this at home, so whenever we went out to a restaurant I'd ask permission to order fried shrimp.  I asked because it was always the most expensive item on the menu, Jewish guilt starts early.  In my early 20's, I was going to The Fashion Institute of Technology and living in Manhattan, I thought I was very sophisticated and upgraded to fancy, schmancy shrimp cocktails.  

In my 30's, still a shrimp lover, I was at a wedding that had the most gorgeous buffet of fresh, white jumbo shrimp I had ever seen.  I ate my weight in shrimp that night.  The next day I woke up looking like a Blow Fish with lips so big you could have stuck me on the car window.  My shrimp loving days were over, goodbye shrimp, forever!  Stay with me, there's a moral to this story.  When my mother saw me, she said what she always said, "Well, that never happened before." And there it is, my long winded way of telling you that things change.  Forget aging, things change when you're young too!  One day you have great skin, the next day you wake up covered in psoriasis (me at 22).  One day you're not allergic to something, the next day you are.  One day you can hold your liquor, the next day you're a toilet bowl hugger.  Things change.

I have high blood pressure now.  My whole life I had low blood pressure.  If my Mom were alive she'd say, "Well, that never happened before".  I gave blood once and the tech asked me if I was dead.  That's how low my BP was.  Recently, during my annual physical, after taking my blood presure, the Dr. wanted to check me into the hospital, that's how high my BP was!  She asked me if I was under any stress.  Oh no, I'm not under any stress, SAID NO WOMAN EVER!  

Normal BP is 120/80 and everyone should know that.  Also, everyone should have a BP cuff at home because you need to know your BP.  So many women do not know and that's why it's called the silent killer.  High blood pressure can cause a heart attack or stroke. Heart disease is #1 and stroke is #2 as the leading cause of female deaths.

"Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States, killing 301,280 women in 2019—or about 1 in every 5 female deaths."  One in every 5 is 1 too many!

There was no way I was letting the Dr. check me into the hospital that day, that was ridiculous to me.  I told her I could lower it, she gave me 20 minutes and left the room.  I called on my 'Secret Sauce' and went to a place I go often when I meditate.  That did the trick, 20 mins later, although it was not the perfect 120/80, it was no longer dangerously high.  If you don't know how to find you 'Secret Sauce' read this post.  You need to have this as your mental health weapon so you can always calm yourself when you're in the eye of a storm.  This is SO important!

Up until this point in my life I took no medication.  Lots of vitamins and supplements, but no drugs.  She told me I had to take blood presure medication and I told her I didn't want to.  For some reason I associated it with old age, and I know that's not the case, but in that panicked moment that's how I felt.  Then she asked how old I'd feel if I had a stroke and someone had to feed me.  That did it.  Smart Doctor.  

I wasn't happy about it though and I went on a research crusade, (as I do with everything), to find ways to naturally lower it.  And I take my BP with my cuff every day to make sure I'm good.  I have this BP cuff.  I'm not affiliated with them,  just linking to make it easy for you to get one.  

I'm not a medical professional, (obviously), I'm just sharing what works for me.  Today it's some yoga poses.  I'll continue on this subject in future posts because there's a lot you can do to lower your BP.  Lifestyle choices, food, tea, exercise, etc.

Here are 5 simple yoga poses that research has shown to lower blood presure.  Makes perfect sense as these poses are extremely relaxing.  And even if you have never done yoga before, you can do these.  

While in each pose, known as Asanas,  focus on your breathing.  Breath control in yoga is called pranayama.  Ujjayi pranayama is the most common breathing in yoga and is done my inhaling and exhaling through your nose.  You can benefit by spending as little as 3 minutes in each pose.  I like to do 5 minutes. 

               
This is called Easy Pose.  Sukhasana in Sanskrit.  Simply sit with legs crossed.  If this is uncomfortable for you try a yoga block or folded towel under your bottom.  Practice your Ujjayi breathing here.  In through the nose, out through the nose.
                                                             
This is Supported Childs Pose.  I call this the yummy pose because it's so relaxing.  If you don't have a bolster you can use a folded up blanket or a very firm billow.  Child's pose is called Balasana. 
                                      
This is Seated Supported Forward Fold.  And that's exactly what it is, bend forward using the block or a pillow to rest your head.  Forward fold in Sanskrit is called Paschimottanasana, sounded out it's (Pah-shee-moh-tun-ahs-uh-nuh).  I know, it's a mouth full, there will be a quiz, haha. 

Supported Bridge Pose.  Here, place the block or rolled up towel right below your lower back.  Bridge Pose is called Setu Bandah Sarvangasana.
Downward Facing Dog.  Even if you're a stranger to yoga you've probably heard of this pose.  It's one of yoga's most recognized poses.  In Sanskrit it's called Adho Mukha Svanasana.  Take 5 -8 deep breaths here.

Have a great week, get your blood pressure checked, and don't forget to breathe!


                                        


LOVE, GRIEF, AND ACCEPTANCE:

What happens when you can't make lemonade out of lemons? 

I don’t really know, because I’ve always been able to, until now.

I've contemplated posting this for a long time.  It just didn't feel right until now.  There's no rhyme or reason to that btw.  I'm sharing for anyone else that may be going through something life changing, you're not alone, and also because I haven't been able to post about anything else here on the blog. Honestly, everything else seems to pale in comparison. 

My husband is sick.  Not the kind of sick that will get better.  I won’t get into all the medical stuff but he has had several mini strokes, ‘imperceptible’ brain bleeds.  That means unknown to the person having them and unknown to the people around them, namely me.  How’s that for scary?  Bottom line, and lots of complications later, he has early onset Alzheimers Dementia.  He is only 61. 


My husband, Mike, was an attorney by profession, a football referee by vocation, my sometimes producing partner, a published author, and a giant goofball who made me laugh every day till my sides split for the last 17 years.  When we met I was divorced and he was a real (non baggage carrying) bachelor.  A girl from Queens, New York and a boy from Keister, Minnesota, we were an unlikely match that turned into a perfect fit and it has been an incredible ride. I will be forever grateful for every memory and all of our adventures together.


Over the last two years the ride has turned into a speeding train wreck.  It took us by complete surprise.  I guess that's true with all illness or tragedy, no one expects it to happen to them.


I am an extremely positive person, it’s my nature.  I’m a fixer.  I can always flip the script to make it work, always turn those lemons into lemonade.  My daughter says “I shit rainbows.”  So among all the obvious grief and loss, facing the fact that I can’t fix this has been an additional challenge.


Grieving for someone who is still with you is painful, watching a brilliant and creative mind slip away is tragic, and letting go of all the things you planned for is so hard.  And of course losing the person you love is devastating.  And there’s just no way to flip that script. 


But I can tell you, that in the depths of despair, there are always things to be grateful for.  And that’s what is getting me through as we toss around in the eye of this storm.


I have no words of wisdom or advice for anyone who has suddenly become a caregiver to someone they love.  But I will say that self care is critical, you can pull from my list here.  Don’t neglect yourself, don't emotionally eat (hello candy corn), and say yes to help!  That was a hard one for me at first but now I’m letting friends and family help me.  And thank God for my daughter.  In September Mike started attending adult day care during the week which has been an amazing relief for me.  Help and support is critical!


And even though I think I’ve moved into the acceptance phase, there’s still that moment every night, when he's sleeping next to me looking so normal, when I retrace all the steps, and all the tests, and all the signs, and I ask myself that rhetorical question for the thousandth time… Is this really happening?



to be continued.....



MOTHERHOOD, MEMORIES AND STAYCATIONS

Happy Mother's Day!  When I think of Mother's Day I think of many things.  Most of all, I think of this day belonging to all women, whether you are the Mom of a human, a fur baby, plants, the earth, your friends, siblings, or yourself, and we all need to mother ourselves, probably much more than we actually do.  I think about how lucky I am to have a wonderful daughter and to have had a wonderful Mother myself and how broken my heart has been since I lost her in 2019.  This picture was taken in 2015 in Santa Barbara right before she got sick.  Me, my Mom, my daughter and my sister.

Today I also think about those years when I wanted to be a Mom more than anything.  I got pregnant in my mid 20's and had a miscarriage.  It was a devastating experience and one that I thought would only be made palpable by getting pregnant again and having the baby I was meant to have.  Little did I know then that it would take 7 years for that to happen.  That's an eternity when you want desperately to have a baby.  

Many doctors, fertilely drugs, and no diagnosis later, I was the only one that held to the dream that not only would I have a baby, I'd have a girl and I'd name her Dana, after my Grandmother.  Even her father had given up on the idea.  A lot went on over those 7 years including our move from New York to California.  I met a woman at work, she had just had a baby, she said "go to my Dr., he's a miracle worker."  I went, he was.  He wanted to inseminate me with my husbands sperm, (ex husband not current husband), this was to make sure it went directly into my cervex, and of course I had to be ovulating at the time.  I had forgotten to ask for a sterile container at my last appointment so I boiled one of those big old orange tupaware containers (remember those?)  The nurses had a good laugh when they saw it, they said it was the office joke for quite some time.  After the procedure they even asked me if I wanted it back, um no!  I will never forget the feeling when I walked out, I remember it so clearly.  As I exited the building and walked through the door to the parking lot, I said to myself, "wow, I think I just got pregnant."  And I did. 

The second good joke was that baby Daddy didn't even attend the event.  And the third joke was that for a few months after she was born we called her Tuppy.  I haven't told this story in ages and I'm sharing it with you now as a reminder that women's intuition is real.  Honor it, hone it, we know what we know.  Always go with your gut, sometimes there is no rhyme or reason to the timing or the detour and in the moments when there appears to be no hope, hang on tight because those are the times you need to believe the most.  

When you're a Mom, of a full on grown up, (because somehow she keeps getting older and I don't), you realize that there are basically two ways it can go.  Your kid(s) either want to hang out with you or they don't.  I consider myself one of the lucky ones because my daughter and I are besties.  And as besties we make sure we have a lot of girl time together.  I cherish this time because I know that at any given moment life can swoop in and whisk her off to parts unknown, and that's a good thing, but for now, I'll enjoy every minute with a grateful heart.

If you've followed my blog for a while and read my girl trip posts you know that when my daughter was twelve I started taking her on Mother Daughter trips for her birthday, promoting the idea of making memories instead of getting stuff.  That first trip was pretty special because I also took my Mom.  Three generations, off to Hawaii.  I was getting divorced after a 17 year marriage and my Mom was still grieving the passing of my Dad a few years earlier.  And while most of my daughter's friends were excitedly planning elaborate Bat Mitzvahs all my daughter wanted to do for her 13th birthday was swim with dolphins in Hawaii, and so she did. 

That started a pretty solid tradition.  Not all trips were as fancy as Hawaii, but NY, San Fransisco and the ultimate girls trip to Paris, which she surprised me with, have all made for some pretty life enhancing memories. 

Back to present day and the life and times of birthdays in a Covid world.  My daughters birthday is in March so she's officially been three different ages during Covid!   This year it was another staycation but with things opening up in LA we ventured out.  There are so many things to do in Los Angeles from the mountains to the sea I could probably plan a months worth of staycations and never repeat a thing.  

On this particular March day we started out bright and early, 7 AM to be exact, because we had to get to the best bagel place in LA, Pops in Culver City.  Recently, The New York Times ran an article about Pops beating out NY for the best bagels.  This lead every ex New Yorker, including me, right to their front door.  My daughter had been before but this was my first time and I have to say the bagel, (with everything, of course), was amazing, and we had gluten free and still, amazing!  Birthday bagels was a perfect way to start the day.

I suppose I should mention that no matter where we are everything we do usually revolves around food.  When are we eating?  Where are we eating?  What are we eating?  And of course, where are we eating next?  So from Culver City we headed to West Hollywood.  We strolled around the residential streets that we love, and then into the Blue Whale AKA The Pacific Design Center, we call it live Architectural Digest.  My visits to the Blue Whale started years ago with my own Mom when she would come visit me and later when she came to live with us.

My Mom, who started a side hustle before side hustles were a thing, started her own little interior design business when she was in her 50s.  Although she had gone to FIT (me too) and was extremely creative, later in life she ended up working in a school for disabled children and one day she told me that she was mad at herself for not following her dream of being an interior designer.   Of course me being me said - then be one.  Of course her being her said - yeah right.  I knew she was good at it and always did it for her friends homes and ours.  So the next day I got her all the information to attend Parsons School of Design on a part time bases and the rest is design history.  Her little company 'Penny Interiors', (her name was Penny), made her very happy.  Sadly Covid hit the Design Center hard and it wasn't the exciting thriving vibe that I remembered, lots of showrooms had brown paper on the windows and you could hear a pin drop.  But we were able to visit a few kitchen of your dreams show rooms.  And the views are pretty amazing.

My daughter is really funny.  And for some reason parking meters in LA are either too high for the average height woman or too low, I think to support people in wheelchairs.  So for us it's tip toes or crouch.

Then we were off to one of our favorite lunch spots.  For years I worked on the Westside and I have to say, although I don't miss the commute, I miss all my fabulous favorite lunch spots, especially Mauro Cafe at Fred Segals in West Hollywood.  The Fred's pasta is amazing (even the gluten free option!)  With tables properly spaced outside and everyone still masked up, except when eating, the vibe was pure happiness and we reconnected with our favorite hostess and waitress and all talked about how happy we were to be vaccinated.

Sufficiently stuffed, we were back in the car and off to Pasadena.  If you know LA at all you'll know that from the West Valley to Culver City to West Hollywood to Pasadena covers a lot of city!  We didn't include the beach or mountains today because we do that all the time.  Today we were headed to the Huntington Library and Boticnal Gardens.  This was really the vacation portion of the day between the Italian gardens, the Rain Forest and the Desert Southwest, we strolled about 5 miles worth of soul soothing gardens.  The museum is still closed as is the tea garden (poop) but we'll return once they open back up.  My daughter loved it so much she got herself an annual pass!

See that bird on the fountain to the left, kind of bleeding in with the colors.  Well, I stood there talking to it, trying to coax it over to me to get a better picture of it, until my daughter came out of the rest room and pointed out the sign, " STAY AWAY FROM THE BIRDS THEY ARE VICIOUS".  So me.




We hit the road again, stopping for a box of her favorite sushi from Sugar Fish and then a vegan ice cream cup cake party.  And what every grown up girl needs, a goofy picture to remind her that she will always be a silly kid a heart.


Wishing you a very Happy Mother's Day! 💖