Calligraphy for a Cause


A year ago my life changed. What started as a simple pain in my right hand transformed into excruciating surges of pain in both arms day and night. I was working on a complicated case at work and didn’t think much of it. I needed to write and the job needed to be done yesterday. So I put in the hours, ignored the pain and stayed focused on my goal. In the end, what started as carpal tunnel and a repetitive stress injury turn into a nightmare.

I couldn’t type, couldn’t open doors, couldn’t lift anything, couldn’t grasp objects and couldn’t sleep because of the pain. I could talk and walk, but that was it. If I tried to use my hands, they would scream in pain, go ice cold and start changing colors for several hours. If I tried to carry objects in the crook of my arm, then I would have pain in my biceps, shoulders and neck. If I stayed perfectly still, it was better but the pain never went away.

Three months after my injury my workers compensation was approved. I had doctors turn me away because they didn’t want to deal with the paperwork. The doctors that would see me assumed that I was making it up to get paid leave. They would do a partial job and refer me to someone else. It was absolutely horrific. All I could do was sit there watching helplessly as another doctor did nothing. This was only compounded by the constant pressure from my manager to get back to work. I tried to push my hands so I could keep my job, but only made my condition worse. The doctors wouldn’t help me and my manager constantly demanded more. It was like being stuck on a medical merry-go-round with my manager smacking me every time I went around the circle.

I had no choice but to pay out-of-pocket for all the tests that the doctors ordered. Some of it was covered by my insurance, but the co-pays were not small. Every specialist wanted to see you at least two or three times, even if it was just to tell you that the results were not conclusive and they wanted you to see someone else. Do the math. I’ve seen around 10 doctors. I pay $40 for every visit and each doctor wants to see you at least 3 times. That doesn’t include the out-of-pocket expenses for tests. To put it lightly, our finances were strained.

My husband spent at least an hour and a half every day driving me to and from work on top of his hour-long round-trip to his office. He had to drive me to all of my doctors appointments, repeated bloodwork, the two MRIs, CT scan, echocardiogram, ultrasound, EMG and chest x-ray. I couldn’t cook so we ate a lot of pizza and Chinese take-out, which we normally don’t do for health and budget reasons.

It’s been a year since my injury. I’ve gotten used to my new life. I have anywhere from 40-60% of the functioning back in my arms depending on the day. I can drive for short periods of time. I don’t have to use a straw to drink or ask my husband to cut my food for me. I can cook, which I really missed. I’m starting to feel like myself again and not a shell of who I used to be. I’m still not sure if I’ll ever get full functioning back in my arms. I may not be able to do so many things that I love anymore.

I decided the best way to help with the financial burden my injury has caused is to sell my calligraphy pieces. The medical bills are far from over. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to do calligraphy again, especially not to that scale. I want my creative outlets to be more than a reminder of something I used to do. I may be finishing a chapter in my life, but it could be the start of an amazing one. Maybe my limitations could lead to something wonderful. Maybe I can sell a piece of calligraphy, pay a bill and enrich someone else’s home with something I created. Maybe one case and one decision will become something truly positive.

calligraphy 2

Please consider purchasing a calligraphy piece. The proceeds are going to a good cause. I’m happy to answer any questions, but sadly will not be able to do any custom pieces.


Lemon Chicken Linguine


I absolutely adore Pinterest. It doesn’t matter if half of the projects I try don’t work. I made my own modge podge. Just because it turned out to be only slightly sticky goo that was useless is beyond the point. I made something unique. I have two unfinished Pinterest projects sitting around the house. Mostly, because the advertised simplicity has turned into several weekends of sheer dedication. Needless to say, it’ll be a while before I finish. That’s the main reason that I look to Pinterest for inspiration, but don’t alwasy give into the temptation. I never know what I’m getting myself into.

Last night I made an exception. I found a recipe for Lemon Chicken Fettuccine, had all of the ingredients and gave into the drool worthy picture. My main reason for sharing this recipe with you today is simple – it was delicious! My husband wholeheartedly agreed and have already had to discuss who is getting the leftovers. I would make it again in a heartbeat.

For those of you who know me, I like to play with recipes. I’ll make substitutions based on what I have in the fridge and adjust here or there. I made no exception last night. The original recipe calls for chicken, mushrooms and fresh tomatoes. I didn’t have any fresh tomatoes, so I used canned. (The recipe cooks the tomatoes so you don’t notice the difference.) I also had some fresh spinach and artichokes in the fridge that I decided to add. The flavors blended together perfectly. I also substituted lemon pepper for pepper at every opportunity. I wanted the chicken, veggies and the sauce to have a nice balance of lemon. Obviously, if I’m sharing the recipe with you then it turned out just right. My favorite bit of happiness to announce: I wouldn’t make anymore alterations. What was created last night was perfect. Paired with the right white wine it’s heavenly.

Lemon Chicken Linguine

8 oz linguine
1 lb. Chicken, diced
8 oz mushrooms
Handful of fresh spinach
1/4 cup diced tomatoes
4-6 artichoke hearts, diced
Lemon pepper
1 Tablespoon dried parsley
3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 lemon, squeezed
1/8 tsp garlic powder
Parmesan cheese, to garnish

1.) Boil pasta while you make the sauce. Ideally, you want the pasta and the sauce to finish at the same time to avoid overcooking.
2.) In a large saute pan, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and warm to medium heat. Saute the diced chicken seasoned generously with lemon pepper and a dash of salt until brown. Add mushrooms. Cook 3-5 minutes and add diced tomatoes, artichoke hearts and fresh spinach. When spinach has wilted, reduce heat and add 1 tablespoon of parsley, a dash of lemon pepper and a dash of salt.
3.) Create the sauce in a separate bowl or cup. Add two tablespoons olive oil, the juice of 1 lemon, to taste. (Because you are using a lot of lemon pepper, you may not need as much lemon juice. Adjust accordingly.) Add a dash of salt, 1/4 tsp of lemon pepper and the garlic powder. Taste and perfect to your preference.
4.) When the pasta is done, add it to the saute pan of veggies and pour in lemon oil sauce. Toss to combine. Serve with a small sprinkle of parmesan cheese and enjoy!


The Ultimate Bacon Creamy Bowl of Happiness


This is the ultimate creation of creamy, bacon, curry happiness. Unlike the rest of the nation, I haven’t given in to the bacon craze. I enjoy it, but can live without it. However this is one of the recipes that always makes me whistle a different tune. All it took was one taste and I was sold. For those of you who are already bacon fans, be prepared to enter a state of bliss.

My husband introduced me to this recipe when we were dating. I had managed to catch a whopper of a cold and was stuck on the couch feeling miserable. He came over to my apartment with juice, medicine and the ingredients for Bonfire Warmer Soup. I absolutely loved it. Now whenever it’s gloomy outside, one of us gets sick or we can think of any other excuse, we make this recipe. It’s the best comfort food you could ask for. Serve it with a roll of crunchy bread and you’ll be converted as well.

I always double the recipe, but somehow never get a chance to freeze any of the leftovers. The soup disappears from the fridge too quickly. I’ve made it with turkey bacon and haven’t noticed a difference in flavor. It’s still delightfully savory.


Bonfire Warmer Soup

1 carrot, sliced
1 onion, chopped
4 slices bacon, chopped
1 Tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon curry powder
2 Tablespoons plain flour
2 cups minus 2 Tablespoons milk
2/3 cup chicken or vegetable stock

1.) Gently sauté the carrot, onion and bacon in the butter for 10 minutes until softened.
2.) Stir in the curry powder and flour, cook for 2 minutes.
3.) Gradually add the milk and stock stirring continuously until the soup thickens and boils.
4.) Serve with crusty bread.

Happy Birthday to Me!

happy bday

When I was a kid, my birthday was always a big celebration. Our city had its 4th of July fireworks one day early which meant the city gave me the best birthday gift every year. As a family, we’d get together for ice cream pie and celebration beforehand and then walk down to the riverfront for my fireworks. I loved it!

I moved away from my hometown years ago. Now that I’m an adult I think about the bugs, the humidity, the annoying people, the discomfort of sitting on the ground, and the hours of bumper to bumper traffic. I still love fireworks, but I appreciate being able to enjoy them from afar in comfort over getting my old front row seats.

This year, I’m taking a slightly different approach. I wanted to see how many small ways I could celebrate my birthday beyond the fireworks. I started my endeavor when I found out that a lot of the companies I already love have birthday clubs. The companies advertise their great products and give you something for free. You get to feel special and try to forget that you’re really just getting older. I thought it would be fun to spread it out throughout the week so I could enjoy these little surprises.

Now, please keep in mind these are already companies that I buy products from and support. There are a lot of companies out there that offer freebies, but I didn’t sign up because I wasn’t just out to get something for nothing. I wanted to have something I already enjoyed from a company I knew I’d be returning to. Trust me, a lot of companies you know and love offer a lot of discounts and special gifts for your birthday. You just have to be willing to look.


Moe’s Monday – I love Moe’s burritos and salsa verde. I used to work around the corner from Moe’s Southwest Grill and learned the importance of celebrating Moe’s Mondays. A burrito at Moe’s is normally $6.00-7.50. On Moe’s Mondays it’s $5.00 for any burrito, chips and a drink. Yes, I used to go religiously. Now that they’re further away from the office, it’s harder to break away and return in my allotted half an hour break. On the Monday before my birthday, I was already leaving work early so it was easy to squeeze in a burrito full of happiness. When I looked into their birthday club, I found out that you get any entrée for free if you purchase a drink. You have two weeks before the coupon expires which is another win in my book.


Fluffy Tuesday – For those of you who don’t watch a lot of standup comedy, you are missing out. Gabriel Iglesias is my favorite comedian. He is simply hysterical. You can watch his videos for free on Amazon prime or Youtube. The easiest way to find him is to look him up under the nickname Fluffy. Watch and you will understand. For the best birthday treat ever, he did one stand up show two days before my birthday. It was amazing. My husband and I laughed the night away!


To round the evening off, we went to one of my favorite restaurants, Bongos. Bongos is a restaurant in South Florida owned by Gloria Estefan with authentic Cuban food. The atmosphere is great, the food is delicious and the mojitos are even better. It gave us a chance to have a bite to eat and relax before the show.


Cold Stone Wednesday – When I was in college there was only one ice cream shop in town, Cold Stone Creamery. Considering the insane summer heat, this was the most popular place for 5-6 months of the year. The lines were outside the door, but it was always worth the wait. I haven’t been back in ages and always go down memory lane when I drive past. I was delighted to find out that they have a birthday club – buy one get one free. Since my husband has never had Coldstone before, we both went for a special treat. The company has changed a little bit, but it’s still good ice cream. This is another coupon that you have two weeks to use.


Aveda and Firehouse Thursday – I love Aveda. They have salons nationwide and have a high standard for their stylists. Each one goes through intensive training and recertification to make sure their skills are above top notch. Their products are amazing and the service is exceptional. On your birthday, they also give you a free gift of a personalized scent perfume or body care product worth up to $25. I need a haircut and highlights anyways. I decided I might as well spend the day getting pampered.

There is one catch to the Aveda birthday club, you have to sign up at least 30 days before your birthday. They’ll send you a card in the mail that qualifies you for your free product. In the age of electronic everything waiting for a card in the mail is annoying, but what can you do?


Firehouse subs will give you a free regular sub on your birthday with a valid ID. I love this company especially because they support firefighters and other great charities. Their hot subs are really some of my favorites. My husband and I went there for a late lunch.

BBQ Friday – My husband and I love BBQ chicken with homemade Spanish rice. His mother taught us both how to make it and it’s one of the best comfort foods. It’s also incredibly easy to make. It gives us a chance to have a great homemade meal without the hassle. It’ll be the perfect way to round out the week and celebrate the 4th of July. I also decided to make a peach pie. Nothing smells more like summer time than a peach pie cooling on the counter. Add a bit of vanilla ice cream and I’m in heaven.

bare escentuals

The other company whose birthday club I signed up for is Bare Escentuals. I love their makeup. You get a free gift for your birthday which you can pick up later in the month if you prefer. Complete your online profile and earn a shopping day of your choice where your entire order is 15% off. I need to restock on my makeup and will gladly use the discount. The only catch, your 15% off day can’t be your birthday.

jamba juice

Jamba Juice also offers a free smoothie for your birthday. I signed up for their online deals after my birthday, but because it was the same month I still got a free smoothie. Yeah Jamba Juice! Their smoothies are my favorite.


White House Black Market also sent me a coupon $10 off a purchase of $50. I’m already a member of their store so I automatically get 5% off and free shipping on all of my purchases. Add the $10 off and their great sale prices and I’m a happy camper. They update their website all the time so keep an eye on it. The item you wanted may be in stock tomorrow.

I had an amazing birthday. Yes, there were fireworks that I got to watch from the comfort of our home. It was a wonderful week full of little special events and a beautiful surprise bouquet of flowers from my husband. He really is amazing! The week of fun is over and I have been pampered and fed to excess. Now I have to return to my normal life, which has its own set of perks. Now I’m a year older, a little wiser and get to look forward to another year of adventure.

Homemade Bisquick with Butter

Maple Syrup on Pancakes

When I was growing up every Sunday morning my father would either make an omelet or pancakes. My favorite was always the pancakes. He’d use our trusty box of Bisquick, add a few spices, fruit or chocolate to make each round of pancakes unique. As an adult, I carry on the tradition. I use my Bisquick and make pancakes, biscuits and dumplings. It’s never let me down.

As you all know, I enjoy finding ways to make something homemade that’s cheaper and easier than the store bought option. I was thrilled when I found a homemade Bisquick mix. It was so much cheaper than the store bought box I was shocked I’d never made it before. My only problem – every one of these mixes uses shortening. Shortening is a chemically created lard that is one molecule away from plastic. It’s popularly used in baking and icing because it holds its structure in high temperatures. If you still think shortening isn’t a problem, the next time you’re baking cookies put a thin layer of shortening on your pan. When you’re cleaning your pan, you’ll notice that the composition of the shortening never changes. It doesn’t melt. It just stays there and glistens. When you’re trying to keep your cookies fluffy, it makes sense, but I really don’t want something like that in my body. It’s a personal choice at the end of the day.

Any how, for a year I have gone without my beloved Bisquick. I’ve tried butter based pancake recipes and they couldn’t hold a candle to the original. I tried the Heart Healthy Bisquick that doesn’t have any shortening, but the flavor isn’t right. I was about to give up when I found the perfect recipe thanks to Kitchen Simplicity. It’s very similar the to popular shortening based Bisquick mixes, but it’s made with butter. I made some pancakes yesterday and it was delicious! No more guilty feelings and more pancakes in our household. It’s definitely a big win!


Homemade Bisquick:

5 cups flour
1/2 cup baking powder
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup butter

Place all dry ingredients in a food processor. Slice the butter into pieces and add to the mixture. Pulse food processor until butter is pea sized. Do not over process. Store in an airtight container for 6 weeks or keep in the freezer.


2 cups homemade Bisquick
1 cup milk
2 eggs


1 cup homemade Bisquick
1/3 cup milk

Bake at 450 degrees for 10-12 minutes.