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mrsugarbears

Loving life more each day

Thankfulness

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Often over the last 11 months,  I’ve expressed and felt a lot of emotions that I’m not proud of, but they were part of my grieving.  Life throws us all curve balls…I guess I’m learning to be a better catcher.

Last night I met a dear friend for a late dinner after the gym.  She lost her mother a year prior to me losing dad.  She’s still struggling with the raw emotions of loss, as well.   As we talked about how hard it is living without them, I realized that we were missing out on the present moment. We knocked back a few drinks and decided to focus on what was going on in our lives now.

She’s a bi-lateral amputee who used to be a dancer.  She’s practicing now for a local “Dancing with the Stars” to raise money for cancer research now.  Ummmm-wow.  She’s also in up-to-her-ears in pharmaceutical research, raising a daughter and saying yes to every person in need, that comes her way.

Life isn’t easy, but how we choose to live each day is what counts.  Recently I had a health scare with my precious dog, Mr. Sugarbears (he’s fine now) and I’ve cried about the tragedies in Orlando; and I’ve felt helpless.   There’s also a tough presidential race that quite frankly scares me.   I’m a Peace, Love and Wine kind of gal.  I know it is unrealistic to think I could live in a world full of happy people, but I choose to be happy overall.  I choose to smile at strangers.  I choose to heal myself from my grief, pray for others who are downtrodden, and do what I can to make a difference in this world.

Maybe my small attempts will make someone else happy?  Maybe my smile will be the one thing someone needs to make their day better? Maybe I will make a difference?  I’m thankful for the small things-like a sunny morning or a co-worker leaving me a cupcake.  How about you?

I’d Like to Think He is Home Now

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Yesterday marked 8 months since my amazing dad passed away unexpectedly.  I still ache deeply with this loss.  There has been so much to do and mom is still very fragile.  Thank God I have a sister that rocks.  We have made a great team.  We do make a great team.

I have a “sort of” checklist in my head and as one more thing is taken care of, either by myself or my rock star sister, I check it off mentally and I breathe a little more fluidly.  (My accountant sister actually created a spreadsheet a few weeks ago).  That’s how much is going on.

We are all still overwhelmed with emotion and with our seemingly never-ending to-do list.   I still long to run away and hide often, but it would not be fair, so I keep trucking on.  I don’t feel strong, but I do feel loved.

Every Easter weekend of my life, my family has gathered at the family cottage.  As children my cousins and I would search for hidden eggs and consume extraordinary amounts of candy.  We didn’t really think about the true meaning of Easter in those days.  It was all about the candy and the fellowship.

Last weekend was Easter.  It was the first time mom had been since he passed away.  It was the first Easter that I would not hear my dad tell me he loved me.  We opened our minds to new beginnings while we struggled watching the pain on our mom’s face.  Closure can be harder than you imagine.  It seemed to break mom further down, but we had to do it.  If you love someone, you have to honor their wishes and not your wants.   Dad’s wishes were to be there, so we took him.  As the ashes were released,  my heart healed some.  I’d like to think he is home now.

Snug as a Bug

Eeek.  My fat pants are snug.   I admit I was bad.  I was very bad.  If you read my blog, you know I’ve been working through the grief of losing my father so unexpectedly last year.  I’m sure you’re all sick of hearing about it.  Sorry ’bout that.  It’s my journey.  :)

When this journey started, I spent 6 weeks living in my home town in an empty house.  I lived off of Starbucks, Panera’s, Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouse and a good bottle of red nightly.  I was overwhelmed, sad and lonely.  I went through a stage of decadent grief.  By the time Christmas was over, I knew I had to get it together.  I cut out red meat and almost all of my drinking. 27 days later, I felt no changes.  My dang fat pants were tight yesterday.  Dang it!  Immediate results were needed.  I mean come on.  I just needed to see a little bit of weight loss for the great sacrifice I had made this month.  I love my wine and I miss being able to unwind with a glass.  Vices, vices.

So…last night I did it.  After a long day at work just sitting and feeling pretty down on myself, I checked out of work and hired a trainer.  We start tonight.  I’m completely terrified, but also really excited to have pulled the trigger.  I need accountability and my husband is too dang nice to tell me to get it together.  (Love you B)  So here we go.  No more Snug as a bug pants.  I can do this.

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You have to love that I’m standing in my work bathroom taking a selfie with a headband on.  Yay for my “I don’t give a bleep forties”

Tuning Out So You Can Tune In

My year of hope and joy is going strong. This grieving business is tough. After almost half a year of ignoring my nutrition and health, my body has been letting me know (screaming at me) to start taking care of it.
Luckily, I’m blessed to have a sister who is also my best friend. We have both been feeling the need for a “tune out” and we are well versed in the art of a comfortable silence with each other. We were planning to go to the family beach house for a little wellness break, but then remembered we had already winterized the cottage and with snow upon us, it didn’t seem smart to undo that work. Hence reservations at The Umstead ensued.🙂

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Committed to creating memorable experiences for our guests, The Umstead Hotel and Spa enhances your stay with this well-considered array of luxury amenities and services. The Umstead

 

Why yes they are…it’s really so special. We were greeted by our concierge, Larry. He was delightful. He took care of our valet and escorted us to the front desk. Front desk attendants, Sarah and Hannah were able to check us in early to our room.  Yay!  For their “basic room” we were pretty dang happy.  Look at this place.  Larry made sure we were settled into our rooms before leaving.  He is the best!

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We had scheduled spa treatments early on in the day so we’d have time to enjoy the spa amenities.  I’m not new to spa time, but this place really does take it to another level of enjoyment.  I ran around and took a few pictures before more clients arrived.

We started the morning with a long steam followed by showers before our facials.  I’m slightly crushed that I didn’t take a picture of the amazing showers at the spa.  The ceilings are a good 15′ tall and the showers are frosted glass 6′ up and then clear above.  It was snowing while I showered.  Ahhhhhhh.

My facial was their signature Valmont facial.

This skin-firming, 100% collagen mask is like a “biological face-lift.” Through unique and exclusive treatment protocols, the Valmont treatment is easily distinguished from all others notably because of the “Butterfly Movement”. Thanks to its combination of active ingredients, it helps reactivate the skin’s deficient natural functions and from the very first application, the appearance of the upper layers of the skin is visibly and lastingly improved. Skin instantly recovers its natural resilience, suppleness and radiance.
*For 30 years, the Valmont Group has been helping women and men master the visible signs of aging. Heir to traditional Swiss medicine, the company draws inspiration from the unspoiled natural resources of Switzerland and the latest cellular cosmetic research findings to formulate utmost anti-aging skin care products featuring visible and long-lasting efficacy. Patented Triple DNA, Glacial Spring Water and pure plant extracts are the key ingredients used for their unequalled hydration, regeneration and cellular reactivation properties.

Kelly had the Jurlique Brightening Vitamin C Facial.

This relaxing facial addresses uneven skin tone and skin discoloration. The concentrated VitaBrightKX, a superfruit complex featuring Kakadu Plum Extract – the worlds’ richest fruit source of Vitamin C, helps to brighten and even skin tone.

After our facials we relaxed in the downstairs women’s lounge by the gas logs, reading our books.   We had a late brunch in the hotel bar around 1.  I had a decadent smoked bacon casserole with pepper preserves, aged cheddar and Yukon gold potatoes.

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My sister had a healthier brunch.  She had the salmon with capers, red onions and boiled egg.

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After our strenuous morning of facials, steaming and brunching, we headed back to our lounge chairs by the fire with our books.  The staff was able to squeeze me in for an afternoon massage, too.  I was a little bit of a princess.

After my massage, a little guilt set in and we both decided to hit the hotel gym.  I started with a little yoga and ended with 20 minutes on the elliptical machine.  After our workouts, we tried the outside, heated current pool followed by a little time in the sauna.  If you are going to a spa, make sure you have allotted time to use all of the spa amenities that are offered.  It’s part of the experience.

Look at this cutie!

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We dined in the hotel bar for dinner, as well.  Heron’s is closed Sunday afternoon and evening, but the same culinary team takes care of the hotel bar food, as well…so yes it was delicious!

The Umstead is pleased to offer homegrown vegetables and herbs from our nearby dedicated farm. Herons has been recognized by Food & Wine, Condé Nast Traveler, and Southern Living, in addition to receiving numerous accolades and awards including Five Stars from Forbes Travel Guide and Five Diamonds from AAA.

For my dinner, I had oysters on the half shell with a champagne and herb mignonette and pickled vegetables.

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I also couldn’t resist ordering the charred beets with pistachio and horseradish rye crisps.

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And this beautiful cocktail called the Hibiscus.  It consisted of Ciroc, St. Germain, Sparkling wine, lemon and an edible hibiscus.

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After dinner we went back to our beautiful room and opened a great bottle of red and cuddled up in our beds to watch whatever was on TV.  We settled on zoning out to the X-men.  We were both asleep before 8.  It’s tiring to be pampered so much.🙂  We’ve both been working so hard to close dad’s store and make sure that mom has all of her needs taken care of and in that process we both had kind of lost our mojo a little.  After the wonderful attention the Umstead staff provided us, we are both feeling refreshed.  Sometimes tuning everything out for a while allows you to really tune back in to yourself.

Start it with Friends

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Due to the type of work that my husband and I do we are always strapped for time over the holidays.  (and this is not me complaining,  just explaining)  We both worked until after 4pm on New Years Eve and then jumped in our packed car to drive 2 1/2 hours.  We were invited to join some of our friends in the mountains to ring in the New Year.

Most  of you that know me know that I love to entertain and I most definitely love to cook.  I can’t tell you how difficult it was for me to not be a part of the cooking and prepping process for New Year’s eve.  I picked up cupcakes from my favorite local bakery, Main Street Cake Shoppe on Church Street, http://www.mainstreetcakeshoppe.com/  and I had a lot of good wine.

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We arrived at the perfect time.  My brother-in-law was close to finishing an amazing tray of sushi with shrimp, smoked salmon and tuna!  Yummy!  This guy rocks in so many ways!

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It was the perfect “pick-up” spread.  We had two types of caviar and cream cheese options, an antipasti platter, Shrimp with homemade cocktail sauce, figs with cheese and jam and chocolate fondue with pound cake, bananas and strawberries.  It was scrum-dilly-ocious!

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We toasted with Veuve and imbibed upon many bottles of yummy wine.  As the evening progressed we found ourselves on the exterior porch sitting in rocking chairs, playing guitars and having a sing-a-long.  It was my kind of perfect.  We were lucky to have a fireworks show provided by someone else enjoying the holiday evening in the mountains.

When we realized our blankets could no longer keep us warm outside, we all moved back inside to enjoy the warm fire.  We may or may not have had a dance session at this point and we may or may not have been captured via iPhones owned by guests under 15.  I can only imagine the hashtag remarks that may have been made.  #oldpeoplegettingjiggy

Before the party got started, I had a private moment with my women friends.  I had found an amazing article online before the holidays by Brianna Wiest, which gave me the idea to give each family a journal.  This was a great read.  I gave each family a copy of this article with their journal.  It’s worth the read.

http://thoughtcatalog.com/brianna-wiest/2015/12/16-goals-to-set-for-next-year-that-are-more-about-enjoying-what-you-have-than-chasing-what-you-dont/

My sister sent me this picture the other night.  Heart claps.  I purchased the journals from a purveyor of all things locally hand crafted.    Check her out.  Chelsea is the owner and she’s super sweet.

https://www.facebook.com/southernglen/info?tab=overview

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However you began your 2016,  I hope you started it with friends.  Happy New Year!

Joy & Magic

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Happy New Year!  I’m starting this year out with hope and joy.  2015 was the hardest year of my life.  I’m still working on healing, but I’m going to try my best to focus on the joys and blessings in my life.

Many months ago, I told the hubs that I really wanted a Vespa.  He laughed off my request and since then I have brought it up about a million and a half times.  (casually, of course)  :)

We knew, as a family that Christmas was going to be really hard this year.  Daddy was missed.  There really are no words to express the emptiness that we felt without his jovial presence.

We’ve always gone as a family to church Christmas Eve, followed by dinner at my sisters house.  We did the same this year.  My niece and nephew wanted to ride with my husband and I from church and they immediately noticed two presents in the back of the Suburban.  They are young and presents still hold a lot of magic.  Uncle B promised them they could open a present after dinner.  So of course as we were enjoying pre-dinner cocktails, the kiddos had already brought the presents inside and eagerly offered us the opportunity to give them to them early.  I admit we’re suckers and can rarely say no to any of our nieces or nephews.  They wanted to open the big box first and B told them that it was for me.  The confusion was not only on their faces, but my own.

The size of the box was confusing, as was the Bed, Bath and Beyond box.  I wondered why he would have me open up a present in front of everyone.  I felt awkward unwrapping the gift.  Of course B was filming my confusion and then it happened.  I was unwrapping a helmet!  At that moment, I knew that B had purchased my Vespa.  For perhaps the first time in my life, I was speechless.  As I looked up with joyous tears welling in my eyes, he asked me if I wanted to see it.  It was in my sisters garage waiting for me.  It was dark outside and I could not ride it, but it was there for me to appreciate.

I could barely sleep that night.  By 3am I gave up and took a shower and dressed quietly.  I waited for the sun to rise.  B awakened around 5 and we exchanged our Christmas presents and willed for the clock to move faster. 6:45am we were in my sisters driveway.  I was concerned because it had been sprinkling.  I didn’t want my inaugural trip to be in the rain, besides the fact that I had no experience.  As we opened the garage and pulled the scooter out, an incredible rainbow  appeared.  At that moment, I truly believed my dad was there with me.  He was wishing me a Merry Christmas and letting me know he was okay.  It was the first time that I had really felt okay since his passing.  I had the best time riding it home.  My husband knew that I would have never expected him to gift me a Vespa.  So there he was, once again, helping me find joy and magic.

Thanks Bryan.

 

 

 

Don’t Miss the Fireworks

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As Christmas draws closer I’m overwhelmed with so much emotion.  I’ve never been one to shy away from my need to feel, but I’m tired of the tears.  I’m sick of them welling up so often.  I feel weak and somewhat narcissistic.

The holiday season is a constant reminder that I’m not alone with my sadness.  So many struggle for even the most basic of things.  Maybe it’s food and shelter,  health concerns,  loss,  or loneliness that they suffer?  I look strangers in the eye when they hold up their signs for help and I do my best to respond with kindness.  People need help and it does make me feel better when I focus on their needs.

When it comes to talking about how I’m doing;  I shy away from it in public. I’m guarding my heart and to be honest, I’m trying to save the person who asked from hearing the truth.  I can’t control the pain I feel.  I want to be whole again.  The loss of my father created a huge hole in my life.  This frailty isn’t flattering.

The “lasts” are too much sometimes.  I hate that I printed out the last family Christmas picture that my dad was in this week.  I am angry that I will never again celebrate another holiday with him.  I’m crushed to think that I celebrated the last Independence day with him, but I’m so thankful that I held his hand during the fireworks display.  It may have been the last one we would share, but it really was the best.  We celebrated with neighbors and everyone went all out around the river.

What I haven’t been able to write thus far is really how much I’ve learned this year about myself.  I’m not happy with a lot of it.  I wrote in my “about” page when I first started this blog that I was learning to live a life without so many regrets and as I review this last year I won’t say that I regret things, but I could have done a better job.  At the beginning of 2015 I made a list for the year of the things I wanted to accomplish.  I didn’t follow through.

As I continue to be a work in progress, I hope that each of you recognizes your value.  I pray that each of you know that you are loved by someone.  Truly live your life because none of us are promised tomorrow.  Tell your loved ones that you love them.  Hug often. I urge you to be present for your family and friends.  Don’t miss the Fireworks.

(And dang that Stevie Wonder and Andra Day for having such beautiful voices.  Yes, I sure did download their song)  

 

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350 degrees for 25 minutes

Cheesy Mushroom Dip

Mix all ingredients together and bake in a greased casserole dish for 25 minutes until golden and bubbly.

I’ve posted this before. It’s simple and delicious.  The rainy weather triggered this memory.  Looking forward to 5:30 today when I can throw this together with a great glass of wine.  Barbera d’asti sounds like a good choice.  (lively, earthy flavors)

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