Friday, August 22, 2014

Visiting Wild Horses in Maryland

Hi, Mom!

Dear Mom,

Remember when we used to drive to grandma and grandpa's house in Berkeley and would pass all those farms and horses on I-80? I used to dream about jumping out of the car, hopping on a horse, and riding it the rest of the way. Driving was so boring and riding a horse seemed like so much fun. It may or may not have been the first time I prayed (I really wanted to ride a horse along the freeway apparently).

My dream almost came true when Mr. B and I went to Assateague Island in Maryland to see the wild horses. It's amazing how they just walk, run, and eat along the road like they own the place. I could have easily hopped on one and ridden home, but it's against the law and they supposedly bite.

A dream deferred...

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Thank You!

Thank you so much for all of your messages, comments, Tweets, and prayers about my mom. I've received an outpouring of recommendations and phone numbers of doctors and clinics and have sent them all to my her, who is incredibly grateful to you all.

I love my Twitter friends, and many have spread the word about my mom's condition to help her get treatment. In fact, she's been trying to get a consult with MD Anderson in Texas but they haven't called her back. MD Anderson heard about her on Twitter and actually contacted me so they could get in contact with her. Amazing, right?

And who's that in the photo? My mom in 1980 when she was my age. My sister found it while going through her things and said to me, "Whoa, this looks like you." I thought that was the best compliment and so neat that she was 31 at the time, just like I am now.

Thank you again. Your help could have just given her a few more years and I don't know how to thank you more for that.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Update On My Mom

Some lavender I picked while on a walk with my sister and mom.

I spent the last few weeks in California with my family. It was good to be home, but also a bit traumatic. During my stay, my mother told my sister and I the doctors gave her a year- maybe more, but that was their best estimate. She has what's called Uterine Serous Papillary Adenocarcinoma and is looking for any doctors or clinics who specialize in it. It's a very rare and aggressive cancer, so time is critical. What's more, the last time she had chemo, she nearly died so we're crossing our fingers this time around she won't have such a bad reaction. 

Basically, anything can happen so we're preparing for the worse. It's terminal but we're hoping to prolong her life as long as possible. As a daughter with a perfect mother, this is a nightmare. 

While I was at her house, I spent most of the time going through her belongings so she knows what I want and what she can give away. As horrible as that seems, it was a powerful way to connect with her through her belongings and the stories they hold.

So things are shifted in my life, to say the least. I live so far away, I'm trying to figure out ways to be close to her. I've decided to dedicate the blog to her. I started blogging as a way to keep my family up to date with my life, but they never really read it (I'm not sure they do now), but since we don't know how much longer she has, I thought it would be a good way to let her know all my travels, adventures, and daily life. It just feels right. 

So that's an update. If you know any good cancer doctors and are willing to give a recommendation to them, please let me know. We're trying to get as much help as possible and it's not easy finding good medical care.

Love you all and thank you for your help. 

Friday, August 1, 2014

Summer Guilt

Mr. Branflake and I are headed out to Maryland to see the wild horses roam Assateague Island. We almost didn't go because I told him how guilty I felt having so many fun days this Summer and that I should probably stay home and write and be more productive. Silly, I know. Especially considering how much I adore horses and I'm pretty sure they adore me. I'm just having such a wonderful Summer and there's this strange guilt I can't shake.

But we're going early in the morning. Who knows? We might come back with a horse. That would help this guilt a lot.

Have a great weekend, my friends.

*photos by me and my friend, Abbey, after our berry picking adventure.
She was adamant we find a stream to dip our toes in and I just really love her for that.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Picking Berries

I told her to pose. She's such a trooper. PS... she lived in France. Can you tell?

There's a market indoor where you can buy fresh produce.

The other day my friend, Abbey, and I randomly decided to pick berries at a local farm in Virginia. We are not farmers. We are tried and true city girls who happen to love the outdoors, fresh food, and making memories.

As we walked up to the blackberry bushes, Abbey says, "You know. I actually don't like blackberries" and I said, "You know, neither do I." But that's the only fruit they had available to pick, so we just started picking anyway because it looked like fun.

At first, we were obvious rookies and picked berries that were too small, too red, and too tart. By the end, though, we were basically professionals and would only pick the biggest, plumpest berries that would easily come off the vine.

The result?

We love blackberries. In fact, on our way out we snuck a sample and oohed and ahhed over how good they tasted, warmed from the sun, and went straight back to the berry patch for more.

Fruit straight from the vine, ripened from the sun, is simply divine and I don't want to buy them from a grocery store again.

And then I made a cobbler with them and I actually thought the berries tasted better fresh than in the cobbler, if that tells you something about how good they were.

Happy Berry Picking Season!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Paddle Boats in the Potomac and Nutella Calzones in My Belly

That duck was super friendly and I don't think it was just the chips in my bag.

Nutella Calzone at Seventh Hill

After a day of sunflower picking and swimming, we all gathered up our cycling legs and went paddle boarding in the Tidal Basin. It's one of those iconic DC things to do as you get to peddle to the Jefferson Memorial and pass the Washington Monument in the background as you head to the Martin Luther King Memorial. You're supposed to stay fifty feet away from the memorials, but I saw others get pretty darn close.

You paddle for an hour, which doesn't seem like a lot unless you're like us and decided to move the entire hour. Naturally, after all that cardio, we were hungry for pizza at 7th Hill. I have to say, it was some of the best pizza I've had in DC. If you go, you must get the Nutella Calzone for it will change your life in ways that will make you crave it nightly in the most embarrassing ways.

I'm loving DC in the Summer.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Visiting a Sunflower Farm

Happiness in a basket.
Not a cloud in sight, which is why these pictures aren't the best. 

Me, Niki, and Abbey with our glorious bouquets of sunshine.
At home with my beauties. 

The day was perfect: sunny, breezy, very little humidity, and with a bright blue backdrop. We couldn't have asked for better sunflower picking weather. My girlfriends and I went to Burnside Farms where (after a $3 entry) they supplied baskets, shears, and a seemingly endless supply of sunflowers. Each stem was $1.50 and I tried my best to get the biggest, prettiest ones they had. 

If you want to do something fun this Summer, I highly suggest frolicking in a field of sunflowers. In fact, I bought a season pass for just a dollar extra because I realized how wonderful it would be to casually stop by the farm, frolic for a bit, cut a few sunflowers, and brighten my home at any time during the season. There's something very wholesome and satisfying about that. 

The Deets:
$3 entry, or $4 for an entry/season pass
Wear proper shoes if it's been rainy.
They supply baskets, but I suggest you bring some way to give 
them water for the ride home because they wilt fairly quickly.
Cut at an angle and trim the bottom leaves because the leaves shouldn't touch the water they're in.
Don't be alarmed by the bees; they're quite friendly and are only interested in the flowers.