Monday, October 31, 2016

Cancer Should be a 4-Letter Word #breastcancerawarenessmonth

Cancer was a disease that affected other people, other families, not mine…until it struck not once but twice.

My Mother-in-Law, Sheila Rodriguez, was diagnosed with inoperable stage 4 Cervical Cancer in 2007.  For 2 years it was easy for me to believe that she really wasn’t “that sick” and she was going to kick the disease like so many others had. After all, she was the most loving, caring, giving, selfless woman in the world. Everyone who met her loved her. She was a good person and deserved to live. SHE deserved a miracle. As fate would have it, that wasn’t my call to make.

After 2 years of chemotherapy, her health began to decline. She was weak, could barely walk and lost her long, thick, beautiful hair. She lost her appetite, but would request certain foods, almost as if she was preparing to taste them for the last time. Even when she was only able to eat a few tiny bites of food a day, she would ask me to make my Lemon Blueberry Scones. I like to believe that this was the last taste she wanted lingering on her taste buds before she died.

The final days of her life were some of the most heart-wrenching days of my life. She was begging to live and pleading to die at the same time. She was losing pints of blood and even doctors didn’t know how she was still alive. I do...she wanted to hold on for the sake of her family because she was the type of woman who put everyone else first.  

When she passed, I knew I never wanted to watch someone I love die like that again. Again, not my call to make….

 A few months later, my Father in Law, John Rodriguez was diagnosed with Colon Cancer. His decline was unexpectedly quick, which was both a blessing and a curse. He didn’t suffer for a long period of time like my Mother-in-Law, but at the same time we weren’t ready or prepared to say our goodbyes. Almost overnight we watched him emaciate and transform from a robust, vibrant man to a frail shadow of his former self. Like my Mother-in-Law, there was one thing he requested, my “famous” Iced Tea. He wasn’t able to eat because of the pain, but he wanted my Iced Tea. I remember telling myself I would make it for him the following day, but I never got the chance.

Living through the ordeal of terminal cancer and watching my husband cope with the loss of both of his parents in such a short span of time, changed my life. I am no longer “untouched” by this disease. I am participating in Frosting for the Cause in memory of my Mother and Father-in-Law, Sheila and John Rodriguez, two of the most inspirational people in my life who both lost their battle with Cancer. We need to make Cancer a four letter word - cure.

~ Faye Rodriguez

My Mom & Cancer

I LOVE MY MOM.  As any one of my sisters and myself included can tell you, my mom is too talkative, too nosey in our personal lives, too demanding, loves to yell, but in spite of all her faults (as we all have them), she is the most inspirational person in our lives.

 My Mom will be cancer free for 11+ years in 2011.  When I was 15 years old (1983) my Mom went to the doctor’s office to tell him about a lump she had on her breast.  She was 37 years old.  The doctor examined her and told her it was nothing but a fat gland.  My mom was happy, but in the back of her mind she kept worrying.  

Six months later, my Mom returned to the doctor to have him check the lump again.  This time the doctor showed more interest and sent my mom for her first Mammogram.  The Mammogram showed that something wasn’t right.  The next step was the biopsy that confirmed our biggest fear. CANCER.  

I remember being 15 ½ years old, crying and saying this could not be happening to my family.  But my mom, being the strong woman that she is, took the diagnosis with great strength and her belief in God.  The morning she went to the hospital to remove the cancer, she reassured her daughters that everything would be ok. 

When I came home from school (the picture is still clear in my head), my dad was sitting on the couch staring into space and my grandmother was at the sink washing dishes and crying.  I asked what happened. For one second, I thought my mom had died.  But we were reassured that my mom was alive, but that she had her breast removed.  That was my first experience with the word Mastectomy.  

The months that followed were filled with trips to the Doctor, the Chemo Doctor and the Radiologist. Throughout the entire ordeal, I had never seen a stronger woman than my mom.  She never complained. She even cut her beautiful hair really short because she had heard it was all going to fall off but she didn’t lose her hair, none of it.  Personally I believe it was my mom’s strong will and determination that caused it to remain intact.  So life continued, cancer was in our lives but we learned to live with it.  

After 15 years of being cancer free, the unthinkable happened again, my mom felt another lump on her remaining breast.  I told myself this could not be happening!!  The doctor said that if the cancer did not come back after 10 years, you were considered cancer free.  How could this happen to my family again? How could my mom deal with another battle with this horrible disease?  But this time we were prepared.  We went into the doctor’s office and demanded that they do a mammogram immediately then a biopsy.  But as fate would have it, once again, the diagnosis was Cancer.   It was a different form of Cancer than before, a more aggressive and faster growing Cancer.  My mom was hospitalized and received her second Mastectomy.  I remember the doctor telling us in the waiting room that there was good news.  The lymph nodes were swollen but it didn’t appear that the cancer had attacked them yet.

When my mom came home, you could see her anger about what had happened to her, but not once did she cry or blame God for what happened to her.  She tried to remain happy in front of her kids and husband.  She prayed.   So once again we (and I say WE because cancer is a disease that affects the whole family not just the victim) started the Chemo. 

This time my mom was not as lucky as the first time.  She lost all her hair.  We bought her bandanas and cute hats for her hair, to help her feel better.  I took her to the Cancer Society for a free wig.  She had a hard time, but she survived and became stronger than before.  So now here we are 11+ years later and we are still cancer free and counting.

 I am writing this blog post in honor of my mom and to remind me how lucky I am to have a mother with such great inner strength.  We need to find a cure for this terrible disease.

~ Yvonne Curiel

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Easy Back to School Breakfast "Berry Apple Swiss Oatmeal"

As I am writing this post, I am eating a jar of the Back to School Berry Apple Swiss Oatmeal my eighteen year old step daughter made for her dad and I.  She absolutely loves these jars for breakfast, lunch and dinner , LOL!  I thought it would be a good idea for her to do a run through on the recipe to see how it tasted if someone else made it.  Just as delicious. 

If you're not a breakfast person like me, this is a great alternative.  The flavors are crisp and creamy  from the apples and yogurt and with a hearty flavor from the oatmeal and nuts.  It will keep you full til lunch so you're not snacking. If you are always in a rush in the morning (like me)  packing lunches and get myself out the door, this is a great shortcut. I make them on Sunday night and we are ready to go on Monday morning, just grab a jar and a topping bag and I'm out the door.  Trust me when I say, I make this weekly... my family absolutely loves these jars.  I cannot believe I waited so long to start making them.   But here they are now. So I hope you give this recipe a try...

Happy Cooking everyone!

Easy Back to School Breakfast "Berry Apple Swiss Oatmeal"
Makes 8 jars

3 cups Old Fashioned Oats
3 cups Lowfat Vanilla Yogurt (not Greek)
2 cups  Low Fat Milk (or you can use Vanilla Almond Milk)
4 Tablespoon Honey
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
pinch of salt
3 Granny Smith Apples, cored and sliced into cubes
1 cup sliced Strawberries or 1 cup Blueberries
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup of toasted almond slices
3 tablespoons light brown sugar or 2 tablespoons of white sugar

8-16 oz Mason Jars  (Target is a great source for these)
Cooking Spray
Large bowl

1. In a Large bowl add 3 cups of old fashioned oats

2. Add 3 cups vanilla yogurt

3. Add 2 cups of milk, 3 tablespoons of honey and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Mix everything together

4. Core and Cut up three large Granny Smith apples into 1" cubes.

5. Add chopped apples into the large bowls

6. Add a cup of cut strawberries or cup of blueberries and 1/3 cup of dried cranberries in the large bowl

7. Fold in the cut up fruit into the yogurt/oat mixture

8. Add 2-3 1/4 cups measurements of mixture into each of the mason jars. Tighten lids and put in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours.

9. Turn on oven to 350 degrees.   Add 1 cup a sliced almonds to cookie sheet.  Spray with coconut oil or  vegetable oil.  Sprinkle with sugar.  Bake for 5 minutes, till nuts are golden.   Remove from oven and cool.   Put 2-3 tablespoons of nut mixture in 8 plastic snack bags and serve with Berry Apple Swiss Oatmeal.

10. Oats are good in the refrigerator for 3-4 for days for freshness.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Peach Pie Cookies #thecreativecookieexchange

One of the best things about Summer is definitely the fresh fruit, especially peaches! I love, love, love me some peaches. Peach Cobbler is my absolute favorite dessert (although at certain times of the month, it might be a tie with Chocolate Chip Cookies).

The theme for this month's Creative Cookie Exchange is "Celebrating the End of Summer" and while I'm all about doing a happy dance to celebrate the end of hot Summer days, I am always sad to say goodbye to my beloved peach so of course I just had to pay homage to my favorite fruit.

Peach Pie "Cookies" is just my creative way of saying "peach pie that you can shove in your mouth without looking like an insane person" because that is absolutely what you'll want to do when you bite into one of these babies. I literally almost swooned when I took my first bite. I felt my knees start to buckle and everything, and you know when that happens, you're onto something good.

If heaven were a flavor, this would be it. Who's with me?

Peach Pie Cookies
Makes 12 large cookies or 14-15 small muffin size cookies

Note: For this recipe I used my Whoopie Pie pan but standard size muffin/cupcake pans will work also, you'll just get more cookies

1 9" pie crust (use premade or your favorite homemade recipe)
2 large yellow peaches, peeled and diced (approx. 1/4" in size)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons golden or light brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon cornstarch
zest of one small lemon
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Approx 1/4 cup water

Streusel Ingredients:
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1/3 cup old fashioned rolled oats
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed


Spray your whoopie pie pan (or cupcake/muffin pan if using) generously with non-stick cooking spray.

Make the streusel by combining all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl and cutting in the butter with 2 knives or a pastry cutter. Set aside.

Place the diced peaches, granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cornstarch and lemon zest in a small saucepan and toss with a rubber spatula to coat. Add the lemon juice and water and stir. Cook over low heat, stirring often, until the peaches start to become tender (approx. 5 minutes). Note: If the mixture becomes too dry/thickened while you're cooking it, add a little more water.

Remove from heat, place filling in a bowl and allow to cool to room temp.

Cut the pie dough into 12 circles (if using a whoopie pie pan) using a cookie cutter or approx. 14-15 if using standard muffin/cupcake pans. The dough should fit into the bottom of each well without any gaps. Tip: You don't want the pie dough to be too thin because it is the "base" of your cookie. I cheated and used a premade dough and just unrolled it without rolling it out any further. Keep this in mind if using homemade pie dough.

Place the cut circles of dough into the bottom of each greased well. Evenly divide the cooled pie filling into each well and top with the streusel. Then spray the tops with canola oil spray.

Bake at 350 for approx. 20 minutes or until the streusel is set and browned. Tip: You want to make sure the crust is nice and crispy so the cookies are easy to remove and the bottom is a sturdy base for the filling.

Remove from oven and place the pan(s) on a wire cooling rack to cool completely. Gently run a thin/sharp knife around the edges to loosen the pies and remove to a cooling rack.


These cookies are best enjoyed the day they are made.

Summer is almost over, and we have cookies to remember it by! Hint: a lot of these cookies could be made and frozen, to pull out a slice of summer in February! You can also use us as a great resource for cookie recipes. Be sure to check out our Pinterest Board and our monthly posts (you can find all of them here at The Spiced Life). You will be able to find them the first Tuesday after the 15th of each month! Also, if you are looking for inspiration to get in the kitchen and start baking, check out what all of the hosting bloggers have made: