Hey.

How’s it going? It’s been a minute since I’ve posted. To be honest, did you really want to hear about my trials and tribulations of the pandemic? They probably looked a lot like yours. Toilet paper, quarantine snacks, DoorDash, brain swab, InstaCart, binging Buffy the Vampire Slayer, DoorDash, face masks, Lowes Foods To Go, binging Greek, chocolate, food trucks, stimulus check, DoorDash, more toilet paper…

That’s not entirely true though. I’ve had a fairly busy year! I started off 2020 determined to do things and that got shut down real fast, but stuff still happened. I finally finished college. Finally. I sat for my board exam, passed, and became a BCBA (Board-Certified Behavior Analyst). Barkley graduated from Basic Obedience class, and is currently enrolled in Beyond the Basics. Hopefully he passes his test next week and graduates! Brad and I had COVID, as did my parents. It wasn’t fun but we survived. We lost one of Brad’s beloved uncles to cancer just before Thanksgiving. I’ve watched a LOT of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Gets me through the long days when we can’t do much else. We had a delicious Thanksgiving dinner with my parents. I made sweet potato casserole, broccoli casserole, and a cherry pie from scratch. They turned out amazing, though the broccoli could have used a tad more salt.

And the best news? Brad and I are on our own again. We moved into a condo in September and have had the best fun making it our own. We are looking forward to having a proper housewarming party when COVID settles down.

In the first half of the year, it was easy to focus on all the things I wasn’t able to do. I’ve been trying to do better now with focusing on the things I can do. Like another virtual 5k – this one is whiskey themed! We also plan to do the Festival of Lights, Stingrays hockey games, and anything else we can get our hands on.

It’s been a tough year. Hard to stay positive when there’s so much unknown about the future, ya know? But there has been good, and there still IS good, we just have to find it.

Feel free to share some of the good you’ve experienced this year!

Pomp and Pandemic Circumstances

Welp, I finally did it. I finally had the opportunity to participate in a graduation ceremony. To walk across that stage and receive my diploma. To wear a sweaty cap and gown.

And the graduation was canceled because of COVID-19.

You’ve probably heard a lot about the high school seniors, and participated in some celebration for them. Completing high school and getting to celebrate that milestone deserves celebration. College graduates are considered, but they’re considered a little less. And graduate school graduates? I haven’t seen much.

My school, The Citadel, held a virtual commencement ceremony in place of the actual ceremony on May 9th. Graduates (cadets, evening undergraduate, and graduate) were asked to submit a photo, a quote or message, and a video. All optional.

Here’s my page.

The quote? Well, I think that’s obvious. I want to see changes in things and the only way I can do that is by actually doing something. I’m a doer. I’ve said this before. It’s why I volunteer for the American Cancer Society, it’s why I coach a wellness group with some good friends of mine, and it’s why I want to become a BCBA.

Of course, my posts can’t be all serious, right? I have to add a little silly. That picture? There’s a story behind it. First of all, I hate it. I received an email from the university shortly after they canceled graduation asking for a photo in professional clothes. I ignored it for about a week, thought about it, ignored it some more. I mean, what was I supposed to do while in self-isolation? Schedule a sitting with a photographer to take a nice picture because I legit have NONE?! I did reach out to a few photographers mentioned on our neighborhood Facebook page as ones who were doing senior photos. Since I’m not one of the “cool kids,” I got no responses (I say this because other people got their pics, but no one replied to me – oh well). So I ignored the email some more (and the subsequent reminder emails). and briefly mentioned to Brad that I might have him take a picture and Photoshop it to look professional.

This brings us to April 23rd, the DAY the picture was due.

I got a little hissy early in the day. All up in my feelings because my graduation was canceled and how dare they ask us for a professional picture during a damn pandemic?! (Seriously though…) So at about 8pm that evening, right after I finished exercising, I whipped out my nice camera and said, “OK, Brad. We gotta do this.” I was sweaty and gross in my workout clothes. I was trying to stick the camera on the tripod and find the perfect space. Then I let my stinky, sweaty hair down and straightened just the front on both sides (the back looked like a bird’s nest, I kid you not). I changed my shirt from my workout shirt to a dressier shirt. I didn’t even put on makeup. I stood in front of my bedroom door and Brad took a few pictures. From the shoulders up, obviously, because workout shorts. So I took the pictures to the computer and had to chuck like half of them because of blurriness and all my chins. I couldn’t do enough Photoshop magic to fix that crap.

So I pulled a Hail Mary. I reached out to a cover designer friend of mine who is an amazing photographer and graphic designer (just not local to me). She made it look like I was standing in front of a white wall, instead of a white-paneled door (sigh). She also fixed my face so it didn’t look like I was glowing (from sweat).

I still hate the picture of me, but I love that (as usual) I have a ridiculous story to go with it. That will help make this achievement in my life more memorable, for sure. A story I can tell my grandchildren some day.

Or maybe not…

Adventures in Container Gardening

I tried this last summer and got fed up and gave up. Something kept eating my strawberries and tomatoes. That something might have been Barkley. Or it might have been a squirrel. Judging by the way he went after the weeds in some of my pots today, I’m thinking Barkley was the most probable culprit.

I downsized this year. I didn’t plant as much as I did last year. I basically went with the plants that grew well last year since I knew (hoped) they’d do well again. I also didn’t do any herbs since I didn’t end up using them last year. Pictured above are green onions, an assortment of sweet and hot peppers, tomatoes, garden beans, and okra. I planted the seeds back in March and they grew so well! We’ve also had some good rain, which is awesome because I only remember to water them maybe once a week. I need to move some of them to new pots to spread them out, so I’ll be doing that over the weekend.

Hopefully I’ll get something out of these this year!

Recipe: Stuffed Portabella Mushroom Caps

There’s something about Pubix Greenwise Italian chicken sausage that makes this meal amazing. Any Italian sausage would do, but I’ve loved it most with that brand. Yet another adaptation, this started out from a Publix recipe that used gorgonzola cheese. I like gorgonzola cheese, but it can be overpowering. Replacing the gorgonzola cheese with the blend of Italian cheeses gave it a whole new life.

This recipe can easily be multiplied. Since the size and depth of the caps often varies, sometimes you end up with some stuffing leftover. I usually just serve it on the side, if it lasts that long…sometimes I eat it while I’m waiting for the oven… << shrugs >>

Anyway, this is pretty straightforward, so there’s not much to add. The sausage is already cooked, so you’re basically just keeping it in the oven long enough for the cheeses to blend together inside the cup. I usually check it every once in a while to make sure the cheese on top is melted and not burnt, and that’s how I determine when to take it out. I can usually get some kitchen clean up done while it’s in the oven.

Enjoy! ❤

Virtual Wine Run 5k

Finding things to do these days is tough. It’s all about being innovative! Our neighborhood has had bear hunts, sidewalk chalkings, and Easter egg hunts. The other day there was even a Jeep and golf cart parade.

It’s been great catching up on some stuff I’ve been neglecting and taking walks and drives around town, but I’m a doer, and I want to do more!!

While scrolling through Facebook the other day, I came across a Virtual Wine Run! I guess it’s traditionally an in-person event, but they’ve made it a virtual thing because of social distancing. You register (and get a t-shirt with your race packet mailed to you), then do your run/walk around your neighborhood or on your treadmill or whatever, then submit your time to the website. You can also share pictures.

It seems like a fun thing to do and a way to feel part of something bigger when you can’t actually be part of something bigger.

From what I understand, after a typical Wine Run, local wineries or vineyards provide wine. I’m not entirely sure if it’s to taste to buy, but you do get a wine glass with your registration packet, so yay!! Maybe I’ll break out some of the strawberry wine I got from Deep Water Vineyards over the summer.

The race benefits the Nikolas Ritschel Foundation. The foundation grants wishes to people 18-24 years old with varying types of cancer. Check out their website, the stories and wishes are heartbreaking. Most of them just want to go on vacation with their family and not have to worry about anything for a week. Surely this is a cause we can all get behind. Kids — young adults — NO ONE — should have to deal with cancer.

If you want to join us, click here.

I’ll post some pictures after we do it. ❤

Recipe: Instant Pot Orange Chicken

Helllllllllo! I’m really excited to share this recipe. I was also so excited to eat it that I didn’t get a great photo. Sorry about that.

I adapted this recipe from one I found in the Instant Pot app. I made it a few times and tweaked it each time until it tasted amazing. Some of the measures in the recipe below are approximates. I use as much chicken as I need to feed whoever is eating, and I also tend to eyeball the liquids at the beginning to an amount that I feel will cover the chicken, which is a variation from the original recipe. I pretty much do this by increasing (or decreasing) the amount of orange juice and barbecue sauce. I keep the rest of the ingredients the same, though and I don’t think it’s affected the outcome. Since we all probably have different favorite barbecue sauces and orange juices, it’s probably going to taste a little different no matter what.

It’s about 3/4 inch deep at the bottom of my 6 quart Instant Pot and that nicely covers two packages of chicken thighs.

This was seriously a great find and I loved experimenting with it to make it mine. I use Smucker’s brand natural orange marmalade and it made such a huge difference from using the regular stuff. I’d recommend that if you do use regular orange marmalade, add in some orange peels or orange slices to get that zesty orange taste.

So yummy! Enjoy!

Breakfast Deconstructed & Root Veggie Scramble

Most mornings, I don’t have time to have a real breakfast. I mix up a superfoods shake and grab a piece of fruit and run out the door. Even when I don’t have to run out the door, laziness prevails and I do the shake and fruit again.

These days, things have significantly slowed down. There have been days when I’ve slept until noon (not gonna lie) and breakfast turned into lunch. There have been days when I’ve done my “usual” shake and fruit. Then there have been days where I’ve been able to have (what I like to call) my weekend breakfasts. Nothing fancy exactly, just more than a shake.

Today’s “weekend breakfast” is a root veggie scramble. It may not sound appealing, but it is loaded with flavor and nutrients and it’s absolutely delicious. There are also variations, so you can use ingredients you enjoy.

I enjoyed mine with some whole grain toast with natural peanut butter and a piece of maple sausage from our local Lowes Foods (they have amazing sausage!!). I also only used one egg to offset the sausage. See recipe below.

So let’s deconstruct breakfast.
The thought process behind my nutrition for breakfast is quite simple, really. My main priority for breakfast is protein and carbs. Our bodies need protein and carbs in the morning to get us going. Food is fuel, so it’s best to give our bodies what they need when they need it. At breakfast, veggies are an awesome addition, and they do help in making me feel more full, but they’re a bonus at breakfast! I generally try to save most of my veggies for later in the day when I reduce my carb intake so I can still feel satiated. So I go with a protein and a carb for breakfast, one serving of each, which is loosely 3/4 cup or 6 oz for protein (ex: 2 eggs) and 1/4 cup or 4 oz for healthy carbs (ex: 1 slice whole grain bread), or 1 cup or 8 oz for fruit (ex: 1/2 banana). My rule of thumb for veggies is a 1 cup or 8 oz serving, but I sort of feel like you can’t go wrong with extra veggies. They’re full of such great nutrients. If you wanted to do this scramble with 1 turnip, 1 carrot, and 1 beet, you are fine. If you count calories, I think you’ll find that adding an extra veggies doesn’t break your calorie bank. I have a small portion of healthy fats each day (about 1/3 cup or 2.5 oz), and today, I happen to be sharing that with between breakfast and dinner (cheese). Hot sauce is a freebie, so as long as I’m not drinking the bottle, I can enjoy a drizzle of hot sauce whenever I feel like adding a snap of flavor to my meal. I was never a huge fan of hot sauce, but a few recipes called for a bit of it, and I got hooked. I’ve found that there are quite a few egg dishes where hot sauce has been a great add on (think egg salad or deviled eggs – yum!).

I hope you try out the root veggie scramble and enjoy!!

Social Distancing: Barkley Style

It feels weird that I posted about the new direction I’m taking BST without a nod to the pandemic affecting nearly everyone in the world. Obviously, the ample time I’ve had on my hands since our area began social distancing is what allowed me the opportunity to even think about the blog.

That being said, I’ve been doing a whole lot of nothing, otherwise known as staying home and staying safe. I’ve watched a lot of Netflix/Hulu/Amazon. I make the occasional trip to the store or we aimlessly drive around town for a change of scenery, but where we’re getting most of our out-of-the-house entertainment from is Barkley.

This is him and his best girl, Chloe. I don’t really know if they’re boyfriend and girlfriend or if they are just the best of friends. Either way, it’s like they were made for each other.

These days, this is what Barkley lives for. Those few minutes when he gets to play with Chloe while his mom and/or dad are being eaten by gnats. Sometimes he gets to see his other dog friends: Geisha, Ellie, or Snoopy.

I can’t wait until I’m able to go out and play with my friends! In the meantime, I’ll continue to live vicariously through Bark.

Welcome to the new BST!

Hello friends and family!

I’ve been struggling with what to do with BST for some time now. I’ve always enjoyed blogging, but I didn’t want to keep blogging about breast cancer when that isn’t the focus of my life anymore. I was torn between starting something new somewhere else, or moving forward here.

I’ve finally decided that I’m going to move forward here. BST is going to focus on Living a Healthy Life after C. It’ll be a lifestyle blog where I’ll continue to share my adventures, this time with an emphasis on healthy living for both mind and body.

I hope to include:
– some of my favorite recipes (and recipe mishaps)
– fur-mom life
– container gardening (insert more mishaps here)
– traveling adventures
– my love of music

I hope you’ll stick around as I continue to find humor in my day-to-day life!