Self Care, part four

IMG-0850

Pets provide companionship and entertainment but also unconditional love.  They sense when you need them to be close.

During those first months after losing Spence I chose to be alone while working through my pain. My cats, Tipper and Biscotti (aka “The Biscuit”) were a godsend.  Already the most lovable cats, they snuggled with me for hours every day.  They didn’t expect much beyond food, water and a clean litter box. Caring for them was self care and therapeutic for me; they too had lost Spence. Hospice had set up a bed for him in that last week and Tipper and Biscotti provided him comfort in those final days. Sensing the gravity and sadness, they calmly slept next to him for hours on end and were there when he drew his last breath.

Self care can take many forms; sharing our loss helped me to connect to the nurturing part of myself. It was small but it was a purpose.

Days and weeks went by when one day I caught myself singing and dancing to some song while making a snack. Food, music and dancing in my kitchen had been such a natural thing for me in the past. I don’t recall the song (but I remember the sun was shining brightly that day) and it struck me how long it had been yet how natural it felt. As time moved forward, those moments became more frequent and less noteworthy.  The cats and I still had our snuggle time every day but they also returned to their cat tree, their “Cirque du Soleil” antics and play time.

It does get better….

Self Care, part three

 

IMG-0829

It’s okay to be selfish.

There are multiple definitions of the word selfish and they’re primarily negative but not always:

Selfish: concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself

If there’s ever a time that you deserve to be selfish, it’s when you’re trying to cope with a loss. It’s survival and it’s self care.

In those first months, I sought solitude letting everything wash over me without censorship. Most days thoughts ricocheted wildly inside my head and to articulate them was too painful. It was a moment-to-moment way to get through those days but it was what I needed.

IMG_0920
It takes time to make sense of loss. Grant yourself all the time you need; sometimes selfishness is a good thing.

When dealing with loss your process might differ from mine. Give yourself permission to be selfish in seeking what you need to heal.

 

 

Self Care, part two

IMG_0933

None of us truly knows how we will handle loss. In my case, I was capable of living on my own, handling my finances, getting through the final arrangements and all that follows the loss of a spouse.

I didn’t count on not being able to take a deep breath for what felt like months.

I didn’t expect to completely lose my appetite and my sense of humor.

I didn’t count on the paralyzing loneliness that overwhelmed me.

In the first few months most days I didn’t get dressed or even walk outside to get my mail. Days I spent almost entirely in bed, covers pulled over my head and tried to sleep so I wouldn’t have to think. I took a lot of bubble baths and basically hid out. I desperately missed my husband and our happy life. Every memory, even the good ones, caused me pain.  Not surprisingly, I cried a lot during this time. And though, intellectually I knew I wasn’t the only person in the world dealing with loss and sadness, it felt as though I was.

There is no time-table, no book, no one else’s advice that can tell you how to navigate your new normal. This is where self-care comes into play.  Being retired, I didn’t have to return to work for which I was grateful. Instead, I allowed myself to just….exist. No judgement, no guilt, no pressure to speed the process along.  Losing someone you love is the most intimately personal experience you can have and you’re entitled to feel every emotion that comes at you.

Be as understanding and kind to yourself as you would to others.

It gets better but it takes time. 

IMG-0906
If you need to, make this your mantra.

Self Care – a new series

unnamed-5

If there’s one thing I learned last year, it was the importance of self-care.  My awareness came after losing Spence in March 2017.  For months, I had no appetite nor desire to cook. I had no interest in music and it was hard to focus on a book let alone a movie. I all but gave up blogging. The idea of traveling by myself after having had the most stellar traveling partner for 26 years, seemed too sad.

After months of being a recluse and hiding from my new reality, the fog started to lift – a little. I knew that Spence would expect me to embrace my life and live it. I had a lot to be grateful for even if I couldn’t acknowledge it. With the unwavering love and support from family and friends, even on my darkest days I knew there was no way they’d let me slip through the cracks.

March 4th marked a year since I lost Spence. By doing this series, it’s my hope that what I share may help someone else. Self-care is not for widows only.  It’s about putting yourself first, forgiving yourself, pampering yourself and moving through challenging and stressful times eventually reclaiming your life, your heart and your joy.

Watch for the next installment and in the meantime, stay strong. You are not alone.

21371136_1713682958656513_8230270365777299756_n

Pesto Panko Crusted Rack of Lamb

Mom is joining me for today’s Easter dinner and for the last week I was on the fence about what I’d fix. Mom is easy as she loves everything I cook – and tells me I should be on Chopped (home chef edition), with my inevitable win launching my own Food Network show but I digress.

A few days ago I saw rack of lamb and the decision was made.  Mom and I both love lamb chops and I’ve made those many times. I’ve cooked rack of lamb only once and grilled it. It was delicious though my friend Terry had to start my grill as the one time prior that I’d lit it, I blew the lid back and lost all my arm hair. Spence was always my grill master and though Mom would (and could) light my grill I had decided to go a different way.

After scanning cookbooks and Pinterest for ideas I quickly realized that I hadn’t picked up fresh herbs – never a problem from May-October when my herb garden provides more than I need. What’s a girl to do? It was noon, my homemade croutons were done and cooling, our favorite Rhubarb Custard pie is in its final 20 minutes of cook time, sweet potatoes poked and ready for baking, my dijon vinaigrette prepared.  I’m still in my jammies and not enough time to shower and run out for fresh herbs before mom arrives. Though dried herbs might work, I knew I could do better.

Then it hit me – make a crust using pesto with its lovely green color and fresh herb flavors mixed with Panko breadcrumbs, both of which were in my gourmet pantry! Brilliant kitchen hack if I don’t say so.

Pesto Panko Crusted Rack of Lamb – serves 2-4

  • 1 rack of lamb
  • 1 c Panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 T pesto
  • salt & pepper
  • olive oil

Several hours before dinner mix together the breadcrumbs and pesto. Score the fat side of the rack, salt and pepper to taste.  Wrap the bones in foil to prevent burning. Cover all sides of the rack with the breadcrumb mixture using more on the fat side which will be face up when cooking.  Pat it down to make the crust. Refrigerate for several hours.

IMG-0878

Two hours before you’d like to serve dinner, remove the rack from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature for 45-60 minutes. Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees.  Line a rimmed baking pan with parchment paper and place the rack into the pan.  Drizzle a little olive oil over the rack.

Cook time will depend on how rare you like your chops – check at 15-18 minutes for rare to medium rare (my preference) by inserting a meat thermometer look for the internal temp of 120 degrees. Remove from oven and tent, the temperature will increase to 125-130 degrees; allow it to rest for 10 minutes.

Remove the foil. To preserve the crust for serving and presentation, I cut them 2 bones per chop. I served these with a nice bottle of red wine, spinach salad with homemade croutons and Dijon vinaigrette, the aforementioned baked sweet potatoes with butter and fresh grated nutmeg – and of course the pie.

 

 

 

Another week of delicious meals from HelloFresh…

When I received my box on Tuesday this week I was disappointed to see that the two entrees I received were not the ones I selected. The good news was two-fold 1) the ones they sent were meals that looked delicious and 2) when I called, they immediately applied a credit to my next order. I offered to send photos and it was not necessary. An email arrived within minutes apologizing and documenting their resolution. I couldn’t ask for more.

Especially now that I’ve had both meals – absolutely loved them.

The first one I fixed the day I got the box. Although I’ve enjoyed some pretty spectacular burgers in my lifetime, it would be easy to say this might have been the best one ever.

img_0777.jpg

The Melty Monterey Jack Burger with Red Onion Jam and Breaded Zucchini. Seriously. This burger rocked my world.

Tonight I fixed the Sweet as Honey Chicken with Green Beans and Jasmine Rice. And again, I had a meal that was delicious and flavorful but also it was one of two 540 calorie meals that were offered for this week which was a nice benefit (others being higher in calories but still balanced and healthy). If I’d had this in a restaurant I would have sent my regards to the chef. As it was, I patted myself on the back.

So far, I’m a fan of HelloFresh and with each new box, I feel certain that my positive experiences will continue.

This blog represents my opinions and enthusiasm but no compensation from HelloFresh. From inception I didn’t want to have advertisements on my blog, (no judgements) simply my preference.