Beyond the Blue Door

Paul and I recently had the good fortune to eat at The French Laundry! For those of you who know me — you know I LOVE to eat. Almost as much as I love to sleep.

Getting the last minute reservation was total dumb luck. I called two days before we were heading to Napa and got the rezzie 30 hours before we showed up to eat. The meal was so many things — intimidating, exhilarating, scrumptious, tiring, spendy, inspiring — in sum, a foodie and chef whore’s wet dream. I was in hog heaven!

Never one to disappoint my readers, I took a million pictures — just like a proper tourist should. I didn’t care that I looked like a fool — this is a meal that should be fawned over.  You should revel in the art that Thomas Keller has created.  Allow me to take you on a photo journey of our evening:

The obligatory bathroom selfie -- what? It's NOT obligatory? Harumpf to you!

The obligatory bathroom selfie — what? It’s NOT obligatory? Harumpf to you!

 

Roped Paul into a selfie. His expression is priceless!

Roped Paul into a selfie. His expression is priceless!

This post is entitled “Beyond the blue door” because the French Laundry’s front door is blue. I’m super clever, right? Little known fact (well, not so little) is that the restaurant used to be an actual french laundry — hence the name.

The blue door

The blue door

In a nod to it’s old laundering days, every napkin has a cute clothespin on it. Yes, we stole ours. Please, do you think we’re rookies at this game?

The clothespin nod

The clothespin nod

There were two tasting menus offered, one veggie, one not.  Normally I don’t eat a ton of meat (read: no rabbit, duck, lamb or red meat) — but I made an exception for this meal. I’ve included pics of both menus for you. Check out the second line from the top — our menus were personalized and said “Andrea kicked cancer’s ass”. I mean, come on. Attention to detail anyone?

Tasting Menu #1

Tasting Menu #1

Tasting menu #2

Tasting menu #2

Don’t worry if you can’t read the menu — I’ll write everything out for you below. Here we go……..

OK, I’ve already lied to you — I don’t quite remember all the details of our amuse bouche. The first was a salmon ice cream come with caviar. The second was some sort of delectable cheese puff. Honestly, the ice cream cone thingie was one of the highlights of the meal for me. AH-maze.

The amuse bouche

The amuse bouche

The second amuse

The second amuse

Oysters and Pearls: “Sabayon” of pearl tapioca with island creek oysters and white sturgeon caviar. Perfect way to begin the meal — this was the perfect balance of rich and light — if that’s even possible!

Oysters and Pearls

Oysters and Pearls

Slow-Roasted Garden Beets: Silverado trail strawberries, celery branch, pearson farms pecans, miner’s lettuce and black winter truffle “coulis”.  Another fan favorite over here. I love me a salad — and that this one was all locally sourced, made my heart sing.

Beet salad

Beet salad

Our waiter told us this next one was chef’s attempt to to take us all back to childhood.

Peas and Carrots: Sauted fillet of pacific yellowtail, english peas, nantes carrots, pea tendrils and sweet carrot emulsion.

Peas and Carrots

Peas and Carrots

Clearly, I hated this one:

hated it :)

hated it 🙂

Herb Roasted Pacific Abalone: Sacramento delta asparagus, arrowleaf spinach “panade,” satsuma mandarins, garden turnips and applewood-smoked bacon. (Neither of us really cared for the abalone — too chewy for me — but everything else was awesome).

Abalone

Abalone

Next up — Thanksgiving on a plate. By far, one of the best dishes I’ve ever consumed in my life.

Four Story Hills Farm Poularde: Black mission fig jam, Garden cauliflower, cipollini onions and sicilian pistachio vinaigrette.

Thanksgiving - and boy did I ever give thanks

Thanksgiving – and boy did I ever give thanks

This next course is where Paul and I diverge. I went with the tasting menu lamb — but Paul upgraded to the Wagyu. I read somewhere that the wagyu served at the french laundry is grown and slaughtered specifically for this restaurant only. Who knows if that’s actually true or not. Paul said it melted like butter. I didn’t love the lamb  — since I don’t really eat lamb. So Paul got a double course on this one!

Elysian Fields Farm Lamb Rib-Eye: Garden broccoli, caramelized green garlic, polenta “croutons” and “creme de morilles”.

Lamb

Lamb

Charcoal-Grilled Japanese Wagyu: Yukon gold potate “rosti,” black trumpet mushrooms, garden radishes, hearts of romaine lettuce, lava bean and “sauce bordelaise”.

Wagyu

Wagyu

“Soumaintrain”: Garden sunchokes, brown butter “beignet,” royal blenheim apricots, sunflower seeds and red russian kale. Yumm-o

Beignet

Beignet

Finally, we’re at course No. 8 — the dessert course (if you include the amuse, it’s really course No. 10). They give up on writing all this stuff out on the menu at this point b/c dessert is about 5 courses in and of itself. Died!

“Assortment of Desserts” Fruit, ice cream, chocolate and candies.

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Oh, I forgot to mention the bread! I didn’t take any pictures of it — but we were given two small plates of fancy butter to go with our bread. One was from Vermont and the other was local (I think). One was saltier than the other — and both were divine.

Alrighty, so 3 hours later, we finished eating.  It was after midnight and we were the last patrons in the restaurant. By now, we’ve befriended our waiter, and we’re having a good ‘ole time.  So I pull yet another touristy/foodie move and ask for a tour of the kitchen.  I read that you can totally do this. Our waiter was happy to oblige. We didn’t get to see any action as service was over and the kitchen was gleaming.  We did see chef (not Thomas Keller though) prepping his team for the next day. They were all gathered round the expediting table (died!).  Also our waiter confirmed that it is indeed true that there is CCTV to Per Se in the kitchen. How F’ing cool is that?

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I asked our waiter if a ton of people try to stage at FL — he said yes, but that they don’t really take anybody — some sort of liability issue.  I was sort of drunk by this point — so I don’t fully recall what he said. But wanted to include the tidbit for the other foodies out there. I tried to ask all the questions we wonder about!

Woosh. I am absolutely beat after writing this post. Hope you enjoyed it and hope each of you get the opportunity to eat at French Laundry once in your life!

xoxo

The Fat Lady Has Sung….

…the cleanse is over!

We cheated in week 5 while we were in Hawaii — we’re only human, people!  Let me tell you, that pizza and those Mai Tai’s & Pina Colada’s tasted good!  It was easy enough to get back on track for the 6th and final week, though.

In the end, I kicked my carb, sugar and alcohol cravings to the curb (for the most part, I mean, I still enjoy life!).

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Got into a good gym routine.

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And lost 10 pounds!

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I feel so much better, have more energy and am just happier after the cleanse. So much so that I’m going to try and keep the basic tenets of the cleanse going — it doesn’t feel like a burden to me at this point. My body is totally adjusted and I’ve found my rhythm preparing 90% of my meals at home.  Only difference going forward, is that I’m not going to be as strict with myself (I can’t be a social hermit forever!) — I’ll have the occasional pizza, grilled cheese, fro yo or glass of red wine if I’m craving it.

Now that the cleanse is over, I guess I’ll have to go back to writing about cancer and fertility! Luck you, dear reader! lol

The Half Way Point

We did it! We survived a weekend away without cheating on our cleanse!

I’m not gonna lie to you — it was REALLY, REALLY weird to be at a concert and not drink.  It was also really difficult to be around great friends in a city that was absolutely bursting at the seams over the Seahawks playoff game — and not drink and eat everything in sight during the game. But we managed to get through it.

Honestly, if Paul wasn’t on the cleanse with me, I would’ve caved for sure. It was really helpful to have him by my side.  Also, didn’t hurt that my friend Megan is a very clean eater already — so all the food she made us was cleanse friendly.

At this point, we’re three weeks into the cleanse and have another three to go.  I feel like it’s sort of a way of life at this point. So many of you have reached out to me privately to let me know that you too have done a similar cleanse as part of an allergy elimination experiment.  What we’re doing is more or less the same thing.  We’ll add back foods slowly and see how we feel.

For me in particular, this cleanse has been great because chemo really does a number on your organs — your liver in particular.  I feel like eating clean is rebooting my insides!

OK — so the here are the deets: I’ve lost about 6.5 pounds so far. I have a lot more energy than I used to.  I’m able to go to the gym everyday (yes, I even went to the gym while we were in Seattle) for about an hour and forty five minutes.  I run errands, go to PT, cook etc. — and then I’m wiped for the rest of the day.  In all, I can eek out about 6, good, productive hours before I crash.  Hoping to see that time lengthen as we continue the back half of the cleanse.

OH! Final report for you — my heart rate, while exercising, has come down a bit in the past week. Yay!  Cardio that used to put me at 170, is now steadily in the mid to high 150’s.

All of this hard work is starting to pay off!

PS – the JT concert was amazing. It was also so wonderful to get to hang with Josh, Megan, Jess and Katie.  I made a mindful choice to be in the moment and experience our trip rather than crazily documenting everything through the camera lens on my iphone. So you won’t see any pictures in this post. Sorry….

Hairy Situation

Last weekend we flew to LA to celebrate the beautiful nuptials of Christine and Sharam. The wedding was incredible, and their love palpable. Mazel to you both!

At the wedding, I ran into some former Fenwick colleagues who I hadn’t seen in years.  It was extremely uncomfortable when they looked at me, looked at me some more, tipped their head to the side, focused their eyes, and said, “oh yeah —- Andrea, I almost didn’t recognize you! You used to have really long hair right? ”

Ugh.

Oh, my other favorite reminder of cancer is in the security line at the airport. The ID checking TSA guy says to me “Girl, you cut your hair off!”

Double ugh.

Obviously this has been happening to me a lot over the past 6 months. But my hair is finally to the point where it actually looks like maybe I meant to have this haircut. So people genuinely think I just cut my hair off.

Initially I struggled with these types of comments and didn’t know how to reply without making the other person feel uncomfortable.

Now, I’m an expert.  I just politely nod, smile and say, “Yes. Yes, that’s right. I used to have long hair.” Then I steal a sideways glance at Paul, or squeeze his hand, or feel his hand on the small of my back supporting me. And we all move on. Just like that. Nothing too painful.

It’s just so surreal and weird to me. I don’t know if what I’m currently doing is the right way to handle the situation. But it feels right to me at the moment. So, I’m going with it.

I will tell you this, though. Every single time I hear “oh, you used to have long hair”, I have a 10 second flash back of the entire last year and all the crapola I went through.

Somebody at work recently said/asked me “I mean, you reach an end point with cancer at some point, right?” (leaving aside how obviously rude and misinformed the question is), the true answer is that, no, you do not ever reach an end point. There are constant reminders — like when you run into old friends or colleagues and they don’t recognize you at first. It’s tough. Really tough.

Well, no time to dwell on any of this. Got to go wrap a million Xmas gifts so we can get them in the mail on Monday.

xoxo,
A

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6 Month Check-Up

I had my 6 month post chemo check up with my oncologist earlier today. While I don’t have my tumor marker number back yet, all of my other blood work looks good!!!

During my physical exam, Garrett could tell that my body has started to tighten up a lot.  Everything on my upper body (and I mean *everything*) has been hurting me lately.  From my forearm muscles, to my shoulder muscles, armpits, chest, implants, ribs, sternum and spine — all of it’s sore and uncomfortable.  In general, my daily existence consists of constant, low grade, nagging pain.

G said I have a decent amount of scar tissue that’s developed and he can tell that my body just isn’t humming at the moment.  I wasn’t all too surprised to hear this — he just confirmed what I’ve been feeling.

Enter the game plan to turn all this pain around. Never in a million years did I think I’d be saying this. So, drum roll please…..

Thanks to Natalie’s (my nutritionist at Garrett’s office) urging, Paul and I have decided to go on a 6 week cleanse after the holidays. The tenets of the cleanse come from Dr. Mark Hyman and his ultrawellness philosophy. Natalie has been trying to get me to do this for 6 months. I was super resistant at first, but now that I’m as fat as I’ve ever been in my life — now that my body aches and I’m sluggish as all giddy up –I’m ready to give myself over to this.  I’m hoping it will change the way Paul and I eat forever, but we’ll see.

In the short-term, this is going to be very challenging for both of us. Announcing it on the blog will hold us accountable! I’ll chronicle our adventures for you once we start!

I’m looking forward to the day that we can look back and proudly proclaim that we pushed our bodies to do this cleanse. It’s really going to be a lot of mind over matter for me.  In a nutshell, here’s what you can’t consume for 6 weeks:

No sugar
No alcohol (gasp!)
No fried foods
No dairy (double gasp!)
No gluten
No caffeine
No peanuts or pistachios
No processed foods

So what CAN you eat? Well, lots of things — all the veggies and greens you can think of, tubers, lean (organic) protein, rice, quinoa, berries and nuts (besides the ones listed above).

We told Garrett that we plan to do the cleanse together in the new year. He was pretty psyched for us (though I think he felt a little sad that Paul has to do it with me in solidarity — at one point Garrett asked if bacon was allowed during the cleanse? lol. NOT HELPFUL FOR MY CAUSE G!).

Anyway — after my physical exam where he could tell I’m wound really tightly again, Garrett said that I really need to get serious about cardio. He encouraged me to start at 20 mins a day during the first 2 weeks on the cleanse, then increase to 30 for the second to weeks and 40 for the last 2 weeks. He’s hoping that I maintain the 40 from there on out.

In an effort to help me stay serious about all of this, he said he’d support me by paying for a weekly massage (through his foundation) with Lisa during the cleanse.  Mind you, this massage won’t be a “treat/special occasion” massage. It’ll be Lisa and I working to open up all my muscles and lymphatic system.

I mean — do I have the best oncologist in the world or what? Thank you Garrett, Natalie, Lisa and Paul. Here’s hoping 2014 will find me healthy, relaxed, pain-free and SKINNY 🙂

Meanwhile, Buffalo, NY look out. Paul and I are headed to you for Xmas and plan to eat the s**t out of you while we’re there. Becuase the cleanse starts after our trip 🙂 Pierogi city here we come! yay!

Dust off the Cobwebs

Hello friends. It’s been a long while since we last visited!  Sorry for the major hiatus.

Returning to work has been good. It’s been a pretty smooth transition, I have to say. I was extremely worried about going back — but am amazed at how respectful everybody has been about my part-time schedule.

I never, in a million years, thought I’d say this — but practicing law again has been, well, downright rewarding and fulfilling.  Utilizing that skill set and pushing myself intellectually – has been great.  It’s so funny how losing a year to cancer can make you re-evaluate everything.  It’s also funny to me how practicing law feels so right at this point in my life. I like the fact that it’s so structured and rule-based.  I take comfort in that — and, it doesn’t hurt that I was on the business side of Stella & Dot pre-cancer, and fundamentally understand how the company works/operates. So applying legal concepts to the business comes naturally to me.

The absolute hardest thing about going back to work has been the fact that I have to remind myself that it’s 2013.  I keep thinking it’s 2012 (from a business perspective as well) — but then need to remind myself that the past year has been a black hole for me — and that the company has grown a ton since I was last there.

Let me qualify that last statement, remembering what year it is, is not the absolute hardest thing about returning to work.  Rather, it’s the physical and mental endurance piece that’s been the hardest.  After three days (Mon-Wed) in the office, I literally need two days (Thur-Fri) to lay in bed and recover.  By Saturday I feel like myself again — but it’s dang rough on me.

This past week was particularly hard b/c we had company for Thanksgiving and we hosted Thanksgiving dinner for 8 (and went to a friends holiday party and my niece’s Nutcracker ballet performance).  When I’m on the go non-stop and don’t have a couple days built in to relax, it all sort of goes to hell in a hand basket.

On Monday I was whining to Paul that I went back to work too early, and that I couldn’t possibly get through the work week.  Well, true to form, Paul was having none of it. He pushed my ass right out of bed and wouldn’t allow me to make excuses. So off to work I went, and it was difficult for me, but I muddled through (and made the wise decision to outsource a few projects to outside counsel).

Sadly, this week was no better for me. I’m coming off of a crazy Thanksgiving weekend, just finished a crazy three-day work week, and am now jumping into more craziness.  We had dinner with friends last night, a holiday party tomorrow night, a wedding in LA on Sunday, the Warner Brothers back lot tour Monday, and then back to work Tues-Thurs. Whoosh, I got tired just typing all of that!

In any event, I know from my WordPress stats, that most of you really enjoy seeing pictures. So let me indulge ya’ll (read the slideshow captions).

xoxo,
A

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One Year Later

I think I’ve finally found my words.

One year after this life changing thing happened to me, I thought I’d re-read my blog from beginning to end in order to fully appreciate and respect the journey that I’ve just completed. But I decided not to do that.  Instead Paul and I went to see Gravity in 3D Imax last night. That’s just how we roll over here!

I have a draft blog post sitting in my account, that I may or may not ever publish for ya’ll. It gets into the nitty-gritty about how I feel from second to second nowadays. But, when I re-read it, I felt it was too negative. Too real. I want to make a conscious decision to be more positive. I can be honest and frank in this blog — for sure. But this weekend is too monumental for me to be negative. So perhaps I’ll post that one some other day. For now — the below is the reality that I want to live:

This morning we went to the Ferry Building farmer’s market and walked around and had a scrumptious breakfast. After that, Paul went to play 18 and left me to rest at home. In his absence I decided it was best to HTB (only my S&D girlz will really get that one!) and watch our wedding video (rehearsal  dinner speeches, Indian wedding and Catholic wedding). As I write this, I’m reminded that our families and our friends love us so much. And support us as a couple through and through.

Watching all of the men in my family carry me down the aisle in the dholi made tears stream down my face. Listening to Paul’s cousins do poignant readings at our catholic ceremony gave me the chills.  It was truly a great reminder of what I still HAVE.

When I watch our faces and hear our voices during that amazing weekend of events, never did we think we’d have had the year we just had. Never. But, we are strong, as individuals, and, as a couple. Sure, we fight (we’re a normal couple) — but we love even more. Our wedding videos are a testament to our love for one another and I couldn’t have chosen a better activity to do to honor my cancerversary. In the three or more hours or so of footage we have — all I see is fierce love. On our part as well as from our family and friends.

I’d rather re-focus on the love and positive things in my life. I’d rather reflect on what I have, as opposed to what I’ve lost. I choose the rose-colored glasses dude. Because this shit is my life. I’m ready to start living it again. Fully. F YOU CANCER.

I’m reclaiming my life. Well, at least the new-normal.

Thank you to every single one of you who supported us during this crazy time. I can’t possibly name all of you — but you know who you are. Please know you made a difference and we appreciate every single small gesture, email, text, meal, phone call, gift, hug, etc. THANK YOU.

Now to the next phase — live life…..

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