Sunday, February 08, 2009

Joy: What Makes Your Heart Happy?

My entry for this weeks photo challenge from the Round Robin Photo Challenge is not a work of art or great beauty. I had to beg a plead with Brian to even get a quick angry looking shot. He is not a vain man, posing for camera's is not his thing. But he is what makes my heart sing.

My life had been a series of disasters and bad choices before Brian. I wasn't open to love, I was angry, resentful, and had been depressed for so long I didn't know there was another way to feel. Finding Brian was truly Grace. Pardon me for saying such an overly used mantra, but he gave me a new leash on life. And that is the truth.

He also took my two boys in, as if they were his own, supporting them in all the ways a father can. He's been there through the years in so many ways, and even as one of them has left home he still reaches out to him to make sure he's doing okay, offering assistance if he's needed.

He opened his own children's lives up to me, and made my little family grow from three of us to seven. I have been filled with experiences I could never have hoped for before I became a part of this family.

Brian has not only loved me, he's supported me. In my sometimes wildly swinging moods, my health issues, my drive to become a photographer or a home schooling mother, or whatever is strong in my heart. It doesn't matter of it is his kind of thing. He supports me because it's important to me, and that is all that matters. He's given me the courage more times than I can count to stick my neck and out risk, to do what I want to do, because I have him there behind me.

Recently he had a heart attack, and we've both been so lucky that he is still here. So I am grateful for every day I get with him. We are planning our wedding for Valentine's Day, and I am the luckiest girl alive.

So, again I apologize for the bad photo, he's really a cheerful and handsome looking guy when you are not pointing a camera at him. This is the photo I was able to get, and it has to be enough, because he is my Joy... I have Brian, and he makes my heart happy :)

Wednesday, February 04, 2009


A friend sent me this message via email, his answers were very cool, and had great depth. He doesn't have a blog, and so this wasn't public he sent it to me, so I don't feel good about sharing his answers. But I thought I'd fill it out, and invite you to do it yourself in your own blog, and leave a link in my comment section so I could visit and see how you filled it out.


1. What person in your family are you most like, and why? I am probably most like my mother. I have my fathers mannerisms, but many of my core values, interests, and habits are most like my mother.
2. How many "really close friends" do you have? Hmm.. if I don't include family and my sweetheart Brian, I'd say about five.
3. Are you happy with the direction that your life is going in? What would you change? I am very happy with my life. In romance, family, friends, and with my work I seem to really be one of the luckiest people I know. What would you change? I think in my photography I need to get more focused, develop a plan and some goals so I am still happy with where I am at in five years :)
4. What have you accomplished, recently? I helped put together and host a huge network party last Friday for the Photography Industry Networking Group, and it was a huge success. :)
5. Did you make a New Years resolution? If so do you think you will stick to it? Yes, and yes. I said I would eat healthier and start exercising some. I think I'll stick to that. I also want to put a business plan in place, and I just need to seek some help for that one.
6. What are you most looking forward to this year? My wedding on Valentine's day! Woot!
7. What are you least looking forward to this year? I can't think of a single thing.
8. What makes you a good friend? I enjoy being there for my friends, I go out of my way to give them support and help when they need it, they always know they are cared about.
9. What's your favorite room in your house, and why? My bedroom. It's a sanctuary, relaxing and comfortable.
10. If you had two weeks to go anywhere in the world, where would you go? What a decision. I'd want to go to Ireland, I have always dreamed of going, but I think I'd have to go back to Italy, because I miss it so very much.
11. If you were given a million dollars, to spend only on someone(s) how would you spend it? I'd have to think about that. I'd like to find a way to help single mom's, but one million doesn't go far, so I'd need a way to make that money keep making money from itself so it'd go further.
12. If you could turn into any animal at will, which animal would that be? A bird, so I could fly where I wanted to go and see the world from up high.
13. Name three things you consider really bad manners. Not offering to help someone in need (like someone with their hands full when a door needs opening). Parking in a handicap zone when you're not handicapped. Going to the 15 items or less isle with 25 or more items. (Arg!)
14. When was the last time you said thank you to someone and really meant it? Friday Night, to my assistants Sabrina and Crystal at the Networking Party.
15. What do you really like about yourself? I am unusual, creative, and authentic :)

Tasty Dieting

A few weeks ago my fiance, who is only 42 years old, had a heart attack. I know, right? He's awfully young to be having a heart attack! Well, we figured it was coming one day, his father had his heart attack at the same age, and three bi-passes. I've been a terrible nag for six years trying to get him into the doctor, but he just won't hear of it. I think Brian just figured maybe he'd see if he'd get lucky.

Well, in a sense, he did, he didn't die of the heart attack.

Now we are on a low fat, low sodium, low cholesterol diet. That with medications and exercise is supposed to keep him from repeating the attack. I say "we" because even though I did not have a heart attack, I feel that not only will the diet be good for me, but it will help me to see what he's going through in a culinary sense and spur me to work harder to cook good foods.

And how.

It has been a terrible struggle. I am a salt addict, and no slouch when it comes to consuming fat-filled yummies. Try making a meatloaf that's low in fat and sodium and tastes good. I tried, it is not easy.

Chicken and fish are easier, but he gets so tired of those things. Never much of a vegetable person he is now exchanging his 80% red meat diet for veggies when I cook them, more whole grains, more white meats. Even the "Healthy Choice" foods are too high in sodium most the time. Pre-made meals and fast food are for the most part a thing of the past.

The other night I made a wonderful soup however, and I thought I'd share it with you. Even my kids, who hate asparagus and broccoli came back for seconds and thirds.

Heart Healthy Creamy Asparagus/ Broccoli Soup (serves approximately 8)

2 cups tender Asparagus
2 cups broccoli (with stems)
1/4 cup white or yellow onion
3 cups sliced mushrooms (any kind, I used baby portobello)
1 sweet potato (baked or microwaved until soft)
1 1/2 cup spinach
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp lemon crystals (available at the grocery in spice section)
2 tbsp virgin olive oil
16 oz low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup yogurt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp flour

Chop fine the asparagus, broccoli and onion, put in a frying pan with the olive oil until bubbling, then simmer until all pieces are tender, add black pepper, thyme, lemon crystals, and 1/2 of the wine. stir 3 minutes and add mushrooms, stir thoroughly and cover. Simmer, stirring occasionally until mushrooms begin to soften.

Scrape insides of sweet potato into a blender or food processor with the spinach, add 1 cup of the chicken broth and blend until smooth. Add vegetable mixture to blender and mix, adding broth when needed to keep it moving, until smooth. Pour into a large soup pot with the remaining broth and simmer on low until hot, add yogurt and stir well.

Add one or two tablespoons of flour to the skim milk (while cold) depending on how thick you'd like your soup. Whisk until there are no lumps, and add slowly to simmering soup, stirring constantly for about two minutes.

Serve immediately. Can be garnished with fresh chopped green onion, a dollop of low fat or fat free sour cream, and a dash of red chili powder if you'd like to add a spicy kick. (These items are not included in the nutritional information.)

Vegetarians can substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth to make it vegetarian.

Hope you like it as much as we did. Feel free to make changes that suit you and your family, let me know what you come up with if you do :)