Sunday, October 31, 2010

I'm getting Chemo for Christmas (and a hat!)

The cats are going bald to support me - kidding!
I finally got tired of the suspense, with no call regarding last Friday's fun filled MRI, so I called the surgeon's office on Thursday.  She called me back, and while the good news is, I now officially have "the good one" aka my left breast, the bad news is that on the MRI my tumor looks to be more like 3 cm vs. the one cm they previously thought.  Some of which may be due to that huge needle they stuck in it four times.  The bigger isn't better realization is what finally made me cry.  (I half sniffled when I got 'the news', but after getting the automatic tissue, it passed). 

Also good, is that from an MRI perspective, my lymph nodes don't appear to be unhappy.  Which isn't to say, I will getting out of the blue dye test of the sentinel nodes, which I hear is a real blast.  (I am getting ahead of myself, but my oncologist said 'Don't be a hero, take the pain meds they offer", which is no problem now that I realize I will be awake for this half hour or so of fun).

This Cancer Friday was meet the medical oncologist day (there will also be a radiology oncologist in my future).  Unlike the South Beach spa setting of the breast center, the cancer center is dark and depressing, and about as clinically ugly as they can make it.  The visit didn't start out very well because they handed me the same multi-page healthy history questionnaire I filled out not two weeks ago.  But I grudgingly trudged through it again.  (I am starting to wonder if they are checking to see if you change your answers).

I was called back just as I finished listing my supplements under medications (oh yes, that is about to change).  I then had the pleasure of being weighed and having my height checked at the scale conveniently located in front of two reception desks.  Here's a thought:  Isn't it about time to move the scale somewhere a little more private?  If the government can spend boatloads of cash and time coming up with ridiculous privacy rules, how about moving the scale out of party central?

Then I was ushered into a small conference room by a nurse that neither identified herself, nor made eye contact, (her rolling cart had a girl's name in a fancy font, but I figured that was the cart's name) who left the door open while she checked my now rising blood pressure, and rubbed some gadget across my face to take my temp.  Maybe they left the door open so I could watch the next victim get weighed.  When she was done pecking into her laptop, she rolled "Susie" or whatever the cart's name was away and went presumably, to spread her own special brand of bedside cheer to the next victim, er, patient.

Next up, an intern with a medical student sidekick.  I was already aggravated, and I smelled fear, so I punished them accordingly.  If I have to tell you that I have cancer and that's why I'm meeting an oncologist, well, we're off to a bad start, huh?  I'm pretty sure I didn't look like I'd dropped by to sell Girl Scout cookies or preach the good word. 

There was much muttering and mumbling about this is 'how they get to know me'.  Here's a thought:  Read the medical history I filled out two weeks ago, which is on file, before I get there, instead of semi-out loud in front of me.  I had to tell them to go get the MRI results, and they seemed to be missing about half of the relevant paperwork.  I guess they thought they were going to get to tell me I had cancer, but I spoiled that one for them when I told them I already knew. The student smiled nervously and looked deeply into his laptop, probably at Facebook, for most of the duration. The longer they acted like this was their first day with a live patient, the grumpier I became.

Finally, the actual oncologist joined the fun.  The student scurried off, since the room was getting a little crowded. She made the intern give her the Cliffs notes, and she took notes.  I don't think she was in the room 4 minutes before she said "You are so doing chemo.  And you will lose your hair and you won't have it for at least 9 months".   Let's throw that skunk on the table.  Apparently, I will however be allowed to keep the hair on my legs. 

Then we moved to the exam room.  And no, they didn't even buy me a drink before asking to see my breasts. We all poked them, and that's where "the good one" vs. the "the bad one" were identified.  The bruise and the scab from the biopsy were good clues. 

Then back to the conference room, where doctor in training was quizzed again on his findings.  You should have seen the look on his face when I asked him if I was going to live.  He may not be too sure about the rest, but he spit out "YES!" so fast, I cracked up and gave him props. (I was joking, FYI, when I asked).

So it's triple positive, which she says is good, and better than triple negative.  Because of the new, bigger size, not sure it's Stage I or II yet, won't know until the surgery, which is still going to be a lumpectomy.  Less is more is the new mantra of breast cancer treatment, meaning that don't automatically whack 'em off and take lymph nodes like PacMan. But it's also H2 positive, which isn't so good, so they will be throwing in 17 IV doses of Herceptin for good measure.

So I got the wig and hat catalog, Breast Cancer for Dummies, and another big wad of stuff for my now bulging, will soon need it's own set of  wheels, cancer folder.  Including, I am not kidding, another copy of the history q&a I am supposed to fill out and bring to chemo 'school'.  Which I can bring friends to, if you'd really like to get the skinny.

She told me to not read the stuff for a few days.  And I finally did a little today, but reading about nausea, makes me well, nauseous, so I stopped. I still don't feel the need to go on info overload.   I did look at the hat and wig catalog; not thrilled with that whole drill. 

They seemed a little confounded that I have zero family history of cancer.  We're heart attack, stroke and diabetes people.  Someone had to be first, but she said to tell my sister to not forget those mammograms. 

She said that drinking wine during chemo is not contraindicated, which is good, although I have a feeling I am not going to feel like doing that too often.  And the tastebud fatigue, including a metallic taste, caused by chemo is definitely not something I am looking forward to ("You're going to have start following the recipes", she said.  Also said that my toque is going to fit a little differently - which did make me laugh).

I am also about to the enter the 'immune comprised' camp.  She said I needed to a get a thermometer.  I said "Thermometer?", and she said, "Yeah, if you get sick you need to take your temperature".  Duh - when I think thermometer, I think Taylor Commercial Waterproof Digital Thermometer, but she said I couldn't use that one on myself.  Oh, and apparently I need to start carrying sanitizer everywhere. (I'm sure Martha probably has something on her craft page where I can make a sanitizer bracelet).

So if you are hacking and runny nosed, don't show up on my doorstep anytime in the next year.  And don't bring a Bundt cake. (Bundt cake became forbidden when my crazy former neighbor DROVE to my house, about 125', less than 24 hours after my husband died, and when I opened the front door, she thrust the cake at me and said "Bud died 7 years ago, and I just want you to know: It never gets any better. EVER."  Well thanks for that bit of cheer. )

So in between starting this post last night, and coming back today, I have decided to ditch the L.A. finals of the Aetna Healthy Food Fight.  The fact that the marketing company hasn't booked the travel arrangements and forced me to hound them, doesn't bode well, and I really don't need to be on airborne germ capsule right now.  And with my luck, I'd win the $10k in kitchen appliances I don't really want or need, and I'd get to pay taxes on them to boot.

I'd rather just get the surgery bumped up a week and get it over with.  I still have second row tickets for Alton Brown at this year's Fabulous Food show, so I'd rather enjoy myself,  and go have a nice dinner at the chef's table at Crop Bistro before I become a full-time patient and future bald lady.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Welcome to the Jungle (Jim's, that is!)

In Sherwood Forest over the English foods
I don't know how, or why, I haven't made the trek to Jungle Jim's International Market until now.  I don't even know where to start - this place completely gobsmacked me! Seriously, 1 1/2 acres of produce and 50,000 International products.  You should click the link and go gawk at the website, then come back.

The new cooking school director, Leigh Barnhart Ochs, is a fellow personal chef and on-line friend.  Months ago (they really plan ahead on those class brochures), she invited me to come and teach a class.  I thought, hmmm fall - Pork and Apples, and my More than Pork and Apples class was conceived, which included the famous cheese ball.

So here's the best part: I actually got paid to go there.  And if I lived closer, I'd probably be teaching there as often as they'd let me.  My Sous Chef (!) and team (!) of helpers made my job a breeze.

And I got to hang out with Leigh, and fellow personal chef Gayle Payton Walls, of I Dream of Dinners, the following day for breakfast and a little shopping.  I spend a couple of hours in the store, and I feel like I didn't really make a dent.

So until I return for a more in depth analysis, here is my ten cent tour. (Note, the have a no photo/video policy, but I snuck a few.  Oddly, the one spot where photos are encouraged is in front of their award winning bathrooms, see below)

On the 'throne' at Jungle Jims
Those are actually the doors that lead the bathrooms.  Which, I must say, are really nice, and the first place I visited after my long drive.

The beer and wine department is unbelievable.  In a six acre store, every department seems bigger than any normal store, but there is a pretty huge (the largest between here and Chicago, I was told) selection.

It was in this department that I was introduced to the one and only, "Jungle", Jim Bonaminio, who was sampling some wine.  Leigh and I sampled as well - a nice Sauvignon Blanc that he'd gotten a deal on and bought 1,000 cases, so they were selling it for 3 bottles for $10!  And it was no 2 buck chuck.  (I of course, bought a case)

We wandered past the meat cases, and let's just say, it's not like Giant Eagle.  One case features individually packaged parts - pig heads, feet, and everything in between, and another had exotic meats  - alligator, kangaroo (on sale $21.99 a pound), snake, etc.  The frozen head on/tail chickens reminded me of The Christmas Story Duck.

A huge boat housing tanks of live fish is a prominent feature of the seafood department.  There are also huge tanks off of the gourmet galeria department where the fish are stored.  I loved this little touch of humor in that area.




Gourmet Galeria is a cook's candy land!  All-Clad, Wusthof, gadgets, gee-gaws, and stuff you don't need (olive stuffer!), but you know you want.

Here's what I scored:


New gadgets:  I love, love, love the Paella for one pan.  I need to break this one in soon.

The canning lid rack was a first for me  - I hadn't seen one before.  Instead of fishing the lids out of the water with the little magnet wand, this lets you put them in and pull it out by a handle that sticks up out of the water - brilliant!

The microwave corn on the cob steamer is not new to me, I've had one for years and I love it, but my old one was cracked.  You put a bit of water in, put your corn in, cover and viola 4-5 minutes, fresh corn on the cob.

The King Arthur Flour silicone ramekins were cheaper than buying from the catalog.

And look what else:


I got two of these oversize mugs - perfect for soup!

I scored this weird fruit in the international produce section, which is AMAZING, including a big case of durian, and stuff I've never seen in my life.  I am going to confess that I was afraid to actually eat this thing.  I stored at room temperature, as directed, and it quickly softened up, started attracting fruit flies, and smelled a little funky.


I also couldn't resist this Smoked Paprika Salt.


Finally, the new Cooking School cookbook, which features recipes from fifteen years of cooking school classes.  You can order yours and have it shipped.

So probably, all in all, I was slightly in the hole on this adventure.  But it was totally worth it and I can't wait to go back.

Friday, October 22, 2010

What to say (& not) to someone with cancer

Jeffersonville Outlet Mall - hoping to park there soon      
Cancer, week one, is kind of like buying a new car.  Once you've got it, you see it everywhere. 

Yesterday's Today Show featured a woman who decided to host a head shaving party with her friends before she started chemo so she could get it over with.  (I needed a haircut, and had already gotten the 'slighter shorter than Ellen, slighter longer than pre-chemo cut the day before).  Losing my hair is not a deal breaker for me; I totally understand that some women view their hair as part of their identity and beauty.  I'm just not one of them.

Personally, I am more pissed that Pantene decided to discontinue the blue shampoo for silver hair in order to thin their ridiculous amount of offerings.  I need that stuff, no matter how much hair I have left.  (Contact them and complain, maybe they will bring it back)

Telling people I have cancer has also brought an interesting range of responses.  Which in a lot of ways reminds me of the reactions I received when I became, overnight, a 38 year old widow.  I know people panic and blurt things out that they probably regret later.  Or people figure that anything they say is probably going to come out wrong, so they say nothing.  So here is my guide to what to say (and not), and it is pretty much interchangeable for grieving (which we also totally suck at dealing with as a society) or illness:

Not:

1 - I know just how you feel.  One of my personal non-favorites.  Really, do you?  Probably not.  People that really do - don't say that.

2 - It's nothing!/it will be fine!/think positive!.  Unless you are one of my doctors, this probably doesn't help me much, and makes me want you to go away. Now. And take your ! with you.

3 - My mother/sister/co-worker/neighbor/grocery check-out clerk.....  Right now, I am definitely not cheered up by hearing about everyone you ever knew that died from cancer, nor I am ready to meet everyone you know that survived.  (Survivor intro offers are ok, and will be saved for later, - not saying that's a bad thing; I am just not ready to start my own club -  death stories, um, better saved from later, don't you think?) 

I think this is a natural response, and a way that people relate - I heard about every death that ever occurred, including beloved pet hamsters, when I was grieving, but I got tired of consoling the survivors when I was in the worst stage of dealing with my own grief. I am not terminal, so I really don't want to entertain that kind of thinking right now.

4 - Reminding me about all of the not so great things I've done that may have contributed to my diagnosis.  Hey, you think I didn't already run that list in my head? 

Do!

1 - Acknowledge, sympathize, support - It's really as simple as saying "I'm sorry to hear about your diagnosis.  Let me know if I can help".  Hell, you don't even have to offer to help, just keep it simple. (If you do want to help, there are some cat boxes that will need attention the week of Thanksgiving, come on over).  This article, probably better written than I could, also kind of sums it up.

To those that said "I don't know what to say".  That works too.  It's honest without being patronizing, and I appreciated that a lot. 

So with the help of a little Valium, I survived the MRI.  I thought about halfway through when my nose started to itch, the dye turned my left side icy, the metallic tasted filled my mouth and I felt nauseous and ready to scream, that I wasn't going to make it.  The jackhammer noise, while laying on my belly with my face and boobs hanging through holes in table - surreal.  But there was no freaking way I was going to have to start over, so I sucked it up and got through it.

Results next week.  Hopefully no more, than was already revealed in the prior tests.  Then next Friday, meeting the oncologist.  It's turning into Cancer Fridays around here. 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Pumpkin Sloppy Joe Sliders

Pumpkin Sloppy Joe Sliders 
When the guest count climbed past the original estimate for last night's party featuring bite sized comfort foods, I immediately thought of putting a fall twist on one of my favorite comfort foods, the good old sloppy joe.

Pumpkin puree is finally filling store shelves again, and for most things, is simpler to use than roasting, seeding, and cutting up a whole pumpkin.  Since this was an adult party, I thought it would be a good place to use some pumpkin ale for an added layer of flavor.

I made about 10 pounds of ground beef and ended up with 12 quarts for the party, but since I did it in batches, this is the approximate quantities I used for one batch.

Pumpkin Sloppy Joe Sliders 

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
2 1/2 pounds of ground beef
1 large onion, diced
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and diced 
4 -5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 12 oz bottle of pumpkin ale
1 26.5 oz can of Manwich Sloppy Joe Sauce
2 14 oz cans of Rotel Diced Tomatoes with Green Chiles
1 15 ounce can of canned pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
2 - 3 Tablespoons of brown sugar
Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
2 t. McCormick Montreal Steak Seasoning
1 Tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

Heat oil in large dutch oven over medium high heat, then add ground beef, break up with a wooden spoon, and stir occasionally until almost completely browned.  Drain excess fat from the pan.  Add the onion and red bell pepper, and stir until softened, about five minutes.  Add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds.

Add pumpkin ale, and stir to remove any browned bits from the pan. Add pumpkin puree, Manwich, Rotel tomatoes, brown sugar, steak seasoning, pie spice and season with salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 10-15 minutes.

Much better when made ahead so the flavors have a chance to marry and mellow.

Reheat gently, and taste and adjust seasoning.

Serve on regular or slider rolls, or over baked sweet potatoes.

My Sister Went to Italy & All I Got Was This Lousy Breast Cancer

So this post, following the "Feeling Lucky" post, is going to be kind of ironic.  Because I knew at the time I wrote 'Lucky' that there was a distinct possibility that the tide was about to turn.  But I was still driving around in my new car, with the moon roof open, soaking in the sunshine and whistling a happy tune.  Well except for the other morning when one of my bonehead neighbors decided to fire up the leaf blower and 8:00 am, and the ones behind me still had hammering roofers working well past dark.

My sister and I went to the post office about five years ago and got passports.  We talked about going to Italy to break them in.  We signed up for Italian language classes.  I lasted about 3 hours; I couldn't understand the teacher, even in English, and having a class full of people repeating (incorrectly) the word or phrases made me want to leap out the finestra (window).

During most of this fantasy phase, I was on 24 hour call as the sole family member/advocate for my in-laws.  My father in-law went from a grumpy man living alone, to an incoherent, sometimes violent nursing home resident, and my mother-in-law was a sweet, Southern gal, who was perfectly coherent until the moment she was wheeled into a hospital, when she turned into a totally different, hallucinating, crazy woman who sometimes cursed and threw things at me.  (Luckily, she returned to her sweet self when returned to her assisted living facility).

About a year and half ago, my sister got a wild hair, and she decided she was going on a tour with a local group.  I really couldn't wrap my mind around spending the money as I watched my investments evaporate like the Wicked Witch of the West under the bucket of water. 

So after approximately a thousand conversations that had "when I go to Italy" somewhere in them, the time for her to go finally arrived a few weeks ago.

When my 8 year old car went on life support, and I pulled the plug and replaced it a few days before she left, I was thinking, glad I am not spending a boatload of cash going to Italy.  Because I need the car more than memories of truffle hunting. (Lucky!)

I didn't have any clients scheduled that week, so I made a list of all of the things I'd put off during the very busy summer, and started knocking them off.  Handyman scheduled to winterize stuff - check.  Finalize labels and order bags for new product line - check.  Schedule a mammogram and get an allergy shot - check, check.  Get the carpet cleaned, check.

Rather than the usual 'see you in 3 months for our first appointment', the mammogram office got me right in.  Where I once again marveled at the flowery pink wallpaper, and the general over-pinkness of everything there, the numerous signs admonishing the 'opens in the front' gown clad flock to 'NOT tear articles out or/or STEAL the magazines - they'd be happy to photocopy', and the tray of cookies, which are always proffered while waiting to see if the films were deemed acceptable.  (Mine was not, and I was treated to a do-over on one side).

I was a (more than) a little surprised when I got a voicemail to call the main scheduling office a few days later.  When I called, I was told I needed to schedule an ultrasound.  Of course, the operator 'couldn't' tell me why and told me to call my doctor.  Whom I am sure hadn't seen the damn film, so that seemed like an unnecessary route, thanks to government privacy regulations which cause more trouble than they help.

Fast forward, to ultrasound day, where the screen makes a centimeter mass look like the size of your head.  So they helpfully bring a ruler to show you the real size.  Verdict: needs a biopsy to determine.

First, a consultation at the AGMC Breast Center.  Which in contrast to the grandma's parlor look of the mammo centers, is a beautiful, contemporary,  Alice dropped through rabbit hole in the ambulatory care building that looks like a Starbucks/nice living room in a mansion/lobby of a South Beach hotel.  And there were no signs about stealing the magazines. (I brought my own, and didn't steal any, for the record).  And they have, no kidding, spa robes to put on over those gowns.

The biopsy was scheduled, as well as a follow-up appointment for results.  The biopsy wasn't bad. They numbed me up, drilled a big needle in there and took 3 samples, inserted a tiny titanium chip, and gave me a mammogram to check the chip, and I was on my way in about an hour.  The hard part is waiting the 50 or so hours until the results come back and are delivered in person.

No pussy footing around, they deliver the news as quickly and as nicely as possible, automatically hand you the box of tissues, then let you get dressed before moving you to the conference room to start talking details. My "Welcome to Cancer' kit is nicely color coordinated, no?  I think that's a good sign.

So next up is an MRI, which should test my tolerance of confined spaces, but they scheduled it so early in the morning I am hoping to fall back asleep and wake up when it's over.  Then surgery, which I will have after the Aetna Healthy Food Fight finals,  and whatever else, depending on the pathology results after that.

So, I've got cancer, but cancer hasn't got me.  It's more than a little surreal to use "I" and "cancer" in the same sentence, but honestly I am not as freaked out about it as you might think.  If I had gone to Italy, who knows when I would have gotten the mammogram scheduled, so hey, lucky again!

And for the record, my sister did bring me some awesome Italian dried mushrooms, pesto, fig jam, truffles, and this awesome Italian handbag.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Feeling Lucky


I have never felt like a particularly lucky person.  Pragmatic, bordering on pessimistic, is more like it, a trait firmly entrenched and passed down through much of my family tree.

I've had a string of what most people would consider really bad luck.  The kind that tests your resilience, your friendships, and in my case, my life as a corporate citizen.  It took awhile to squeeze lemonade out of that particular batch of lemons, and ultimately what I ended up was a new career that doesn't feel like work, which came with new like minded friends, and the realization that I am pretty tough.  And pretty lucky. 

I've been entering contests and sweepstakes with abandon, and instead of thinking there is no way I'd win,  I've been visualizing actually winning.  It's probably the influence of a few too many Oprah episodes playing in the background while I'm working, but it seems to be working.

After last year's Fabulous Food Show, I entered a contest sponsored by Adams Reserve Cheddar, and won with a Sweet and Spicy Bacon Pecan Cheese Ball.  (The new Adams Reserve recipe booklets are out, and my recipe is in the back, along with a photo of me and Robin Swoboda.  The finals were judged on her show). 

I submitted this tip to Fine Cooking, born of frustration when I made a pot pie last winter.  I was pleasantly surprised to be selected to be published in the April/May 2010 issue, and I won a nice electric knife sharpener.

A while later I won a random blog comment drawing, also courtesy of Fine Cooking, a copy of Pig: King of the Southern Table.  (I really need to bust that out and use it to make something with the quarter of a local pig that's in my freezer).

In August I commented on Gluten Free Girl's Blog for a chance to win a $250 Spa Play Date courtesy of Greek Gods Yogurt (who has a fig flavor that I adore).  I was ecstatic to receive an e-mail from Shauna Ahern that I'd won - perfectly timed as I received after catering the biggest all day event I do all year for one of my clients.  I was seriously in need of a massage after that one.

I used part of it today to get a massage from my favorite therapist, Shelly, from Antoine's le Jour Spa and Salon in Broadview Heights.  And I also got a fresh pedicure with a cute new color from OPI.

Last weekend I was honored to be selected among 48 finalists in the Aetna Healthy Food Fight contest.


My winning recipe for an Asian inspired wrap with quinoa, black beans, yam, ground turkey and Chinese Five spice powder is here.  The Cleveland finals were held at the RIPE Festival held at the beautiful Cleveland Botanical Gardens.

I was excited to participate with my friends Lisa Waldschmidt, of Eat...Think...Blog... Woman, and Mary Beth Brinkerhoff from For Goodness Taste Personal Chef Service in Rochester, NY.   Despite the 2 hour delay in cook off rounds (there were groups of 6, Lisa was scheduled at noon, me at 2:00 and Mary Beth at 4:00), we had a blast cooking our recipes and presenting them to the judges.

The recipes were pre-screened the Culinary Institute of America for nutritional analysis; there were very specific criteria for submissions, including a $12 limit on ingredient cost.  The live judging was scored on presentation and on taste.


I thought we were presenting five individual plates, so I found these awesome Asian inspired napkins, the bambo napkin rings, and I had rounded plates and small angled dishes for the garnish of organic ponzu.  And the lime green chopsticks, of course.  But it turned out we did one presentation platter and the judges were served tasting plates.

Me with Franck, the Chef in Charge 
Despite some less than stellar live band 'entertainment' during my round, I managed to have a good time while making my recipe and chatting with festival attendees and the judges.  (It was kind of funny - some of the attendees thought we were doing live action sample stations.  I've done enough sampling to recognize them coming).

Mary Beth had better entertainment during her session and did a little singing and dancing for the crowd.

Mary Beth Brinkerhoff making her recipe 
Mary Beth's stew with Butternut Squash, Black Beans, and Chipotle with Brown Rice looked pretty stunning in one of my lime green soup bowls.  Franck, the chef in charge, told her she "Really brought it' on the presentation side.

Mary Beth's Stew
Lisa's dish was also visually stunning - a Butternut Squash and Apple Pasta Sauce with Turkey Sausage and Fresh Sage:

Lisa's Dish
Me being me, walked up and talked to every contestant in Lisa's and Mary Beth's rounds to see what they were making.  There were some pretty tasty looking dishes.

There was a second round of 24 contestants on Sunday, and Sunny Anderson from the Food Network, was on hand to judge on Sunday. (The Saturday rounds were judged by Botanical Garden and Aetna employees).  We were told that it might be up to a week before the winner was announced.

I was hard at work cooking for a client the other day and didn't hear my phone ring.  When I checked my messages, I had one from an Aetna representative congratulating me for winning the Cleveland cook-off!!  I called Mary Beth and Lisa to let them know, and I have to honestly say, that I really would be just as excited if either one of them had won.

I was sent an affidavit to complete and have notarized, then we'll talk travel arrangements.  The final cook-off will be held in Los Angeles, and as I understand it, we will be given ingredients to cook a healthy Thanksgiving dinner and it will be judged by Bobby Flay.  The Grand Prize is $10,000 in kitchen appliances courtesy of KitchenAid and Lowes.  So I am already thinking of what I might be cooking.  I've cooked many Thanksgiving dinners, and am looking forward to it.

And my winning streak continues.  I am a fan of the Playhouse Square on Facebook who posted an opportunity to win tickets to Dixie's Tupperware Party this weekend.  You guessed it - I won tickets!  So I had a great night out with my BFF.

At Dixie's Tupperware Party

Yep, I am feeling lucky.  Very lucky indeed.