Wednesday, November 23, 2011


I have been lucky enough in my life to never have really known anyone who has passed away. My grandma passed away when I was little, but I was too little to really understand or remember it. This past week, someone I know passed away. True, that it wasn't a member of my immediate family but she did function as my second mom for a few years of my life and She was special to me in so many ways.

Elena Madison was a truly remarkable person, and I am grateful that I had a chance to know her. I have never met anyone who had her energy and passion for life. She was constantly planning some event or get together, serving her friends and family and always on the go. She was such a dedicated Mother who loved her kids so much you could see her love and dedication to her family in her every word and action. Her bright, fun personality was always such an uplifting one to be around. I have never known anyone who was so energetic and full of life.

Because of this I can not even picture her being weak or sick. In all the time that I knew her I never once saw her get sick or slow down. It is difficult to imagine such a woman getting sicker and sicker and slowly slipping away. I never saw her in what I sure was a very sick and pain filled state at the end and to think about her like that just breaks my heart. I would imagine that it was very hard for her to not be able to take care of her family like she normally did. She loved that so much.

The last time I saw her was last summer and she had just finished chemo and she gave me on of her big hugs. She was so happy and energetic. I remember thinking "yeah there is no way cancer was ever going to beat this woman." But the cancer came back and much worse than before and I don't know all of the details but I know she fought hard but in the end the cancer had spread too far. It makes me feel like no one is immune to the kind of debilitating diseases that are in our world today. She is the last person I ever thought something like this could happen to.

When I found out a few weeks ago that she had taken a turn for the worse I decided to write her a letter telling her what a wonderful person and example she had been to me and how grateful I was to have had a chance to know her. I planned to write it over thanksgiving break when I knew I would have a little bit of time to do it justice. I guess now I just have to hope that she knew that I loved and appreciated her.

Since I functioned as a member of her family for a few years, I know their family dynamic and how central she was too it. It is hard for me to think about how all of them will get by without her. She loved her kids and family so much, I hope they remember and hold on to that.

For the past few days my threshold for tears has been much lower and every time I think about her and her poor family it breaks my heart. I am trying to transition to just thinking about and remembering her beautiful personality and celebrating the life that she had. I am getting there. I am lucky to have had the chance to know her and share many wonderful memories and experiences with her. It is so helpful to know that she will be with her family again, and be able to love and serve them the way that she lived for while she was here on earth.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Restaurant Week 2011

Aw restaurant week, how I love you. It is one of my favorite times of the entire year when all the local restaurants offer multiple course dinners for 35 dollars a person and all of a sudden I can afford to eat at all these wonderful places. This year we went out....3 times. I know, that is a lot but that is pretty much all that we spend money on so I feel ok about it. Our first stop during restaurant week was at a little Chef Garces Italian restaurant called Mercato. It is right by our house and Nate and I have been wanting to go there for the past two years. Normally, it is out of our price range, but during this special week we can finally afford it. So Nate, Jordan and I made our reservations and spent a wonderful Thursday evening there. We each got a different appetizer, entree and dessert so we got to essentially try nine different things. It was all so wonderful, definitely some of the best food I have ever eaten. I will just comment on my favorites of each course.

My favorite appetizer had to be the grilled octopus salad. Oh my, it was a little bit of heaven. So good.

My favorite of the entrees was the Prosciutto Wrapped Chicken Breast stuffed with mozzarella, sweet Italian sausage and sun dried tomatoes, topped with creamy mozzarella basil polenta. Can you imagine anything more delicious? I think not.

The best dessert has to go to the vanilla bean panna cotta with blueberry compote. So delicious. I wish I had some more right now. Oh and we didn't get pictures of any of the desserts because we were too distracted by how beautiful and delicious they were.

The other restaurants we tried out were also wonderful. We went to a little Greek place called Kanella that is also right by our house. We have been wanting to go there ever since we were here looking for apartments 3 years ago. It did not disappoint. I highly recommend it and can't wait to go back. We got phyllo wrapped feta that was baked and drizzled with lavender honey, grilled lamb with pomegranate salad and greek yogurt on the side and then the best baklava that had candied pistachios in it :). MMMmmmm words really don't do any of it justice.

The last place we went to was a Cuban restaurant called Alma De Cuba. It was very tasty. I got the coolest appetizer that was thinly sliced raw fish that had been soaking in citrus juices and decorated with these jasmine pearls and it was soooo good. The whole meal was fantastic though.

Needless to say, I cannot wait for restaurant week to roll around again.