Hot Toddy



I’ve never had a Hot Toddy, have you? Since the holidays are approaching, I thought it would be fun to try. The one question I have is, if a cocktail has tea in it, is it healthy? I’m just going to say yes. I think an Apple Brandy Hot Toddy is the perfect thing to warm me up AND chill me out.

To Make:

In a measuring cup, steep 1 chai or cinnamon-apple tea bag in ¾ cup boiling water.  Meanwhile, add 1 Tbsp. lemon juice, 1 Tbsp. honey, and 3 Tbsp. apple brandy (like Applejack) to a mug and stir.  When the tea is brewed, remove and discard the tea bag, pour the tea into the mug, and garnish with lemon and a cinnamon stick.

Ahhhh, now I have to go relax somewhere to drink my “tea.”

May your days be boozy and bright!

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Wishing you and yours a joyous Thanksgiving, full of love, laughter and — of course — gratitude.

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Glitter on My Grave, by the guffaw inducing Jill Kargman was my shining moment read of the week! You will truly believe that laughter is the best medicine.

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WOWZA! You have to try this maple pumpkin pie recipe. Although the pictures make it look a bit difficult, it really is easy-peasy to make. All you have to do is shape the letters, bake separately, and arrange on top of cooked pie. Now, that’s not so hard, is it? Here’s the yummy recipe.

1 15 oz. package refrigerated pie dough, divided

1 cup evaporated low-fat milk

¾ cup packed brown sugar

¼ cup maple syrup

1 ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

1/8 teaspoon salt

3 large eggs

1 (15 oz can) plus ½ cup unsweetened pumpkin

1 teaspoon water

1 large egg yolk

2 teaspoons granulated sugar (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 45o degrees.
  2. Roll half of pie dough into a 12-inch circle. Fit into a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate.  Fold edges under; flute.  Line dough with parchment paper, fill with pie weights.  Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes or until golden.  Place on wire rack.
  3. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.
  4. While crust bakes, combine milk and next 9 ingredients (through pumpkin), stirring until well combined. Pour into crust, place in oven, and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until set.  Cool on a wire rack.
  5. While pie bakes, unroll remaining pie dough; roll into a 12-inch circle. Cut dough into 13-inch-thick strips.  Gently shape trips into lettering on a baking sheet lines with parchment paper; keep dough chilled until ready to bake.
  6. Lightly beat together 1 teaspoon water and egg yolk. Lightly brush dough lettering with yolk mixture; sprinkle with granulated sugar, if desired. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack; arrange lettering on top of pie.

Enjoy!! Please let me know how your pie turned out!


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Sometimes the biggest pick-me-ups come in the smallest packages.  Motivational tattoos are temporary faux ink in the shape of bandages featuring encouraging words and phrases-including I CAN and I WILL and STRENGTH – to boost you up when you’re feeling down.  Find your fix at

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Image: 123rf.comexerciseaidscancertreatment

Though I think that common sense probably tells us that exercise aids cancer treatment (heaven knows that I felt better when I did restorative yoga or took walks when I was sick), but when there is science behinds something…well, then it REALLY seems to matter.

Mark W. Dewhirst, the Gustavo S. Montana Professor of Radiation Oncology at Duke University School of Medicine has recently conducted a study involving the effects of aerobic exercise on breast cancer tumors. The study was conducted on mice and resulted in a major Shining Moment! The results showed that aerobic exercise slowed the growth of breast cancer tumors in mice and made the cancer tumors more sensitive to chemotherapy. This tells us that there is a possibility that exercise may change the biology of some malignant tumors by making them potentially easier to treat.

How you ask? Well, scientists have known for quite some time that tumors have the ability to create their own ecosystem within the body. As a tumor grows, it sends out signals that prompt the body to create additional blood vessels to provide the growing tumor with more oxygen and blood flow.

Some tumors, however, begin to proliferate so much that they begin to choke one another, reducing the amount of blood supply and oxygen to the tumor. You would think that this would ultimately kill the tumor (since it is not receiving a good amount of blood flood or oxygen), however, this is not the case. Instead, the tumor becomes hypoxic, which means that it exists in an environment with little oxygen. Hypoxia actually makes tumors relatively resistant to treatment because there is so little blood flow and oxygen going into the tumor.  Since chemotherapy and radiation work much better in conjunction with oxygen, the hypoxic tumors tend to resist treatment.

In this study, scientists divided mice into two groups — one group remained sedentary after surgery and the other ran at will on wheels in their cages. In both groups, the tumors took hold and grew inside their bodies. However, the tumors in the running mice grew significantly slower.  Testing showed that the blood vessels feeding the tumors in the running mice were healthier than in the sedentary mice. As a result of this, the runners’ tumors were less hypoxic.

Using another group of mice, scientists divided them into two groups and tested one group’s response to receiving chemotherapy treatment while remaining sedentary and the other group’s response to receiving chemotherapy treatment and exercising. After 12 days, the results showed that exercise and chemotherapy each had slowed tumor growth. While the mice that exercised did show smaller tumors than did the sedentary mice, the mice who had both the treatment and exercise had the smallest tumors.

This shows that exercise, known for increasing the flow of oxygen-rich blood to tissues made the breast cancer tumors easier to kill by making the tumors less hypoxic and paradoxically… healthier. When the tumors were receiving more oxygen and blood flow, the treatment was able to easily penetrate the tumors and ultimately make them smaller.

Of course this study was only conducted on mice and therefore, there is no scientific evidence showing that the results of this study would be the same if conducted on humans.

When I was going through treatment there were days where I felt like I couldn’t stand and on those days I would advise you to rest. But there will be days where your body can handle movement and on those days I would recommend gathering every bit of mental and physical strength to go for a walk or doing yoga. Getting yourself to move is not only beneficially for your body but also for your mind as well.

As always consult with your doctor about what you are doing and when!  Happy Trails!


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Enduring Love



One of my favorite Shining Moments about writing the blog is having the opportunity to attend events, speak to others, and be introduced to extraordinary people who do remarkable things, especially those who are passionate about helping other people. Although I never met Mary Landberg, she is definitely one of those people I would L.O.V.E. to meet! As a hospice nurse and photographer living in southern Oregon, her mission is to speak to as many people as possible about how to ease the fear of death, help define the purpose of life, inspire to live and love fully, and to encourage conversation about death and dying so that people can best plan for the end of their lives.

Her book, Enduring Love, is a collection of over one hundred portraits of hospice patients with family and friends embracing love and life. Mary Landberg is devoted to helping hospice patients and families live fully until the time of death.  Through photography she has found a way to offer this special population a gesture of love and a lasting memory to carry forward.  The portraits are accompanied with grand love stories, conversations with the dying, their advice for living, and the wisdom their illnesses have gifted them.

This idea stemmed from an interaction that she had with a patient of hers. Mary snapped a photo on her iphone of herself holding hands with a dying patient and texted it to the patient’s grandson. When she received a moving and touching response back, she knew that she had to continue capturing that priceless moment of unwavering love that endures between people living with terminal illness and their families.

One of the biggest Shining Moments about her photography is that it is complimentary. Her no-charge policy is a way for her to give back to the community and encourage other hospice nurses around the country to offer the same service to their patients. It is her hope that her portraits will raise awareness of the value and importance of hospice care AND inspire people to live life fully while they are alive.

Here are a few of her beautiful photos:






You can find more images and inspiration here:

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