thank you


And I say "wow" only because, this being a blog and all, I need to type something. The truth is, I've been sitting here staring at this blank, white screen for waaay longer than I'd like to admit. There are simply no words. So I hope you'll bear with me as I try to express a fraction of my gratitude.

If, last August, someone had gazed into a crystal ball and revealed to me what the following year would bring, news of three brain surgeries would have shaken me to the core. But even more shocking, I think, would have been the part about the hundreds - dare I say, thousands? - of people I have never met who would be waiting for me on the other side of it all, sending love and cheering me on. I never would have believed it.

All I can say is thank you. Really, thank you. You all just blow me away.

When I took a deep breath, swallowed hard, and released that last, terrifying post into the world, I thought you might look away. I wouldn't have blamed you. But instead, you stepped closer. You let me hear your sweet voices, some of you for the very first time. You turned on your ovens, and your warm wishes sailed in on banana-scented breezes. My family members were the first to benefit from your generosity. They sat in the waiting room nibbling banana bread, and read your kind notes as they drifted in. Later that evening, Eli pulled up a chair by my bed and read your words aloud. This tiny sliver of virtual space, my little Sweet Amandine, was bursting at the seams. It's a wonder she didn't explode. Throughout the ups and downs of the last few weeks, I have turned to your voices again and again. Every word of every comment lifts me up. You have no idea.

This year, it has been easy to count my lucky stars. You know how it is with stars: The darker the sky, the brighter they shine. I count all of you among them, dear, shimmering readers. The sky above me is aglow with your twinkling.

Hey, I just realized that I've left out something very important, which is that I'm feeling great. It sure is nice having my head back in one piece. Forehead, I missed you. Seriously.

Last Wednesday, August 19th, marked one year since the aneurysm ruptured. My "aneurversary," as I like to call it. (How many people get to have one of those?) I celebrated by going for a short, slow run with Eli. It was more like a shuffle-jog, actually, but no matter. I felt like I was flying. Afterwards, I made the same fruit smoothie that I've slurped every day since returning home from the hospital. It tasted especially good post-"workout." I know that you don't really need a recipe for a thing like this, but I didn't want to show up today empty-handed. After this whole ordeal, you deserve a special treat, one with layers, and loads of frosting, and a cherry on top. Then again, given the heat, something cold, fruity, and sip-able might just hit the spot. (Dictionary.com wonders if I mean "skippable" or "rippable," but I assure you that I do, indeed, mean "sip-able," whether or not it is a real word.)

In any case, here you go.

And now, onward! Let's get Sweet Amandine back to her regularly scheduled programming, shall we? Yes, oh yes, we shall.

[p.s. Before signing off, I want to take a moment to thank Elisa, Jory, and Lisa over at BlogHer for voting me "BlogHer of the Week." I am honored and humbled to be in the company of such talented bloggers. Lisa, I owe you a special thank you for writing so beautifully and sensitively about Sweet Amandine. I was truly moved by your words. And to the reader who nominated Sweet Amandine for this distinct honor - whoever you are - many thanks to you. You are so good to me. All of you.]

Banana-Berry Smoothie

1 medium banana (best if a little overripe)
1 c. frozen wild blueberries
1/2 c. frozen raspberries
1-2 T. ground flaxseeds (optional)
1/2 c. unsweetened almond milk (I like the Pacific Natural Foods brand.)

The short version of this recipe is as follows: Dump all of the ingredients into a blender, and blend until smooth.

But of course, I just have to add my two cents. I find that piling the ingredients banana first (broken into chunks), then berries, then ground flaxseeds, and then pouring the almond milk over top, results in the most efficient and enjoyable blending experience. The bananas around the blade quickly turn to mush, which allows for some much-needed blending action around the hard, frozen berries. After about twenty seconds, if the spinning blade doesn't seem to be making progress, I turn off the machine, remove the pitcher, and give it a shake or two. Then, I blend until smooth.

Yield: 1 tall glass, plus a few extra slurps.


oneordinaryday said...

Yea, you! So happy you're back and feeling strong. Sending blessings your way.

Jennifer said...

My prayers are with you. I am so hapy to hear that you are doing better and feeling good about things. Isn't it wonderful to see all of those that love and support you?

Great smoothie :)

Julie said...

Oh welcome home Jess. So glad you're feeling great, because you make us feel great.

I use sip-able too (and my spell check doesn't like it either).

Smoothies are one of my favourite things too - and great to take to work/school/wherever in an insulated coffee mug. (Mine doesn't ever get used for coffee..!)

Julie said...

AND with flax seeds in it! I thought I was the only one who did that! Flax oil is good too - a great source of omega 3s - brain food!

Char said...

oh, I'm so happy seeing a post from you. though I was late coming to your world, I missed you out of it here. welcome welcome

Ciao Chow Linda said...

So glad you're doing better. There are lots of people rooting for you.

janna said...

Welcome back! I've been watching your tweets and waiting for a post. I'm so glad you're feeling good!

Jennifer said...

Welcome back, my dear. I'm so happy to see your words again. I'm delighted also to read that you went for a shuffle-jog---must have felt amazing. I'm going to make quick work of this recipe as soon as I pick up some almond milk. Cheers!

Jess said...

oneordinaryday - Thank you for the cheers and warm wishes. It's so good to be back.

Jennifer - Thanks, and yes, it is. I am in awe, and so grateful.

Julie - Hello! You are so sweet. It's funny, I've been home for a while now, but writing this post feels like a homecoming all over again. And a very special one at that. Thank you for the welcome.

I've never thought of taking my smoothie to go. I wonder if I could make it last long enough to be worth the transport. (I tend to be a speedy smoothie slurper.)

Char - Our little Sweet Amandine is not even eight months old; I don't think it's possible for you to be "late" this early in the game! We are still very much at the beginning. Welcome to chapter one. I'm so glad you're here.

Ciao Chow Linda - Thank you.

janna - Thanks for keeping me in your thoughts despite the silence around here. Such a warm welcome back means a lot after these weeks away.

And Jen - Hi! Yes, it was amazing. When I say it felt like flying, I'm not kidding.

Andrea [bella eats] said...

Jess - It was so incredibly nice to see your blog pop up in my reader today! I am very pleased to hear that you are feeling well and are moving around the kitchen again.

You have described my every-summer-morning breakfast nearly exactly as I make it! Lately I've been substituting frozen peaches from a local orchard for the berries, but the unsweetened almond milk, flax seeds and banana are exactly like mine. We are definitely on the same wavelength, m'dear!

Keep up your amazing progress. I wish you many more runs and kitchen adventures in the very near future!

eva said...

So happy to read your posting again! All of your readers would surely join me in a (smoothie) toast to your continued recovery. Your Cherry Almond Chocolate Chunkies are fabulous too! Thank you, Jess.

Frenchie said...

I wish I had been keeping better track of my "must reads" this summer so that I could have read about your surgery sooner. I am so glad you are home and ok, I can only imagine how happy you must be. Welcome back and enjoy every moment.

Karinanne said...

Welcome back! It is good hear that you are doing well. I am excited to try the smoothie!

petoskystone said...

welcome back:) i have always loved star-gazing. unlike many, i never feel alone or insignificant. instead, i always feel safe, warm,& joyful.

megan said...

Welcome back! So nice to run into you here! Please teach me the Jog Shuffle when I see you next - I could use some new moves.


bluejeangourmet said...

yay Jess! warms my heart to see you back, blogging (and to hear you are jog-shuffling!) away.

I've been hoaring summer produce as it goes on sale/is cheap at the Farmer's market to sock away in the fridge for later smoothie days. I'm a homemade-yogurt-in-my-smoothie kinda gal, though.

(maybe it's gross or TMI, but regular yogurt is the reason every Indian woman I know has never, ever had a yeast infection).

kinda gross but good to know, right? mostly just good to have you back. xx

jacqui | happyjackeats said...

we've missed you! google readers around the world have been patiently awaiting your return. you're back! and all better! yay!!!

Lindsey said...

I'm so glad to hear that everything went well! We're glad to have you back!

Shannalee said...

So so glad to have you back, jogging and slurping and telling us about the darkness that makes stars shine brighter (I quite agree) - we've missed you, Jess. I love your stories and your depth. Welcome home, again.

Jess said...

Andrea - "...moving around the kitchen again." Well said. That's exactly how it begins for me, before I start actually cooking again. Thank you for the warm welcome back.

Eva - Hi! How fun hearing from you in this space. I'm so glad that you enjoyed the chocolates. Thank you for the smoothie toast. I hope that soon we can raise a glass in person.

Frenchie - Thanks for your note. Not to worry; you didn't miss much. Surgery is boring. It's all of the life that follows that is the fun part!

Karinanne - Thank you. Enjoy the smoothie!

petoskystone - Beautiful. Happy stargazing to you.

megan - Oh, you. Let's talk soon.

bluejeangourmet - Thanks for the welcome back. It's ever so good to be here. After this last year, there is nothing about the body that could possibly gross me out, so no need to worry. I'm a yogurt girl too, but I prefer it on a spoon rather than through a straw.

jacqui, Lindsey, and Shannalee - Thank you, thank you, and thank you. It means so much to me that you're all still here after such a long silence. I've certainly missed you.

The Food Librarian said...

So glad you are back! And, yes, celebrate that aneurversary as I know you'll have many many more to come.

ketchuptochutney said...

So glad to see you back!!

Jennywenny said...

Welcome home, its wonderful to hear such an uplifting story, I hope you continue to improve, I look forward to more lovely writing!

Elishag said...

Yay for regularly scheduled programming. Even though I am lucky enough to see you often I have missed reading Sweet Amandine every week. Love you Jess.

londonfoodieny said...

Welcome back Sweet Amandine. You have been missed dearly but very much thought of! Keep making a speedy recovery- and very happy to have you back! :)

Amanda Mae said...

Cheers to you! Glad you are feeling great. Your posts have made me all teary eyed and happy. Thank you for sharing and being so open.

aedrbf said...

Glad to see you are back in the kitchen!

Linsey said...

You've been on my mind a lot lately - happy to see you posting again. The late summer is better for it.

Linda said...

dear sweet amandine...thank YOU for coming back to us so quickly... your beautiful words mean so much to all of us!
...& it is a comfort to know that you are doing so well...all the best!

Rogue Unicorn said...

welcome back.

RecipeGirl said...

Yay- welcome back to the world of blogging, bloggers, and all of the wonderful people who are behind you and thinking about you and wishing you well. Glad you are feeling good!!

Rosiecat said...

Jess, it's so nice to see you are back! And out RUNNING! Hot damn, lady. That's awesome.

Dean Kraemer said...

Glad you're feeling well. You're a very special person.

Allison Arevalo said...

I have to say, I'm teary-eyed. I've thought about you every day since I read that last post, and am so happy you're feeling well. I cant wait to for future posts, welcome back :)

Shannon said...

So glad you are doing well and back at it! This smoothie should help get with the recovery-- and celebration :)

cha sen said...

Glad you are doing well. Welcome back!

Anonymous said...

Welcome back, Jess! So glad you are back on the road and in the kitchen. Life is good, is it not?

Carolyn's mom

Jess said...

The Food Librarian - So happy to be here. Maybe next year, I'll celebrate with a brain-shaped aneurversary cake, like this guy did.

ketchuptochutney and Jennywenny - Thanks to you both for being here to welcome me.

Elishag - Hello, neighbor. I so appreciate your enthusiastic vote for a return to normalcy around here. Amen. I'm the lucky one to have a friend like you.

londonfoodieny - Thank you for the welcome. I've missed all of you, too!

Amanda Mae - Comments like yours have a similar effect on me! Thank you. It's a pleasure to share with such generous listeners.

aedrbf - Thanks. It's great to be back.

Linsey - Hello there! And thank you. I owe you an e-mail (or three), I know. Forgive me! I can't wait to hear about your Canvolution event.

Linda, Rogue Unicorn, and RecipeGirl - Thank you.

Rosiecat - I'm not sure that my current runs are "hot damn"-worthy, but I sure do appreciate the encouragement. Thank you.

Dean Kraemer - Thank you.

Allison Arevalo - Thanks for your note. And I have to say that I am seriously craving your fig breakfast.

Shannon - You're right: Between this smoothie's antioxidants and its lovely shade of pinkish-blue, it is both healing and festive!

cha sen - Thank you.

Carolyn's mom - Thanks. And yes, it is. Very good.

Kelsey B. said...

Welcome back! Great smoothie recipe and have fun enjoying your time running in this nice cool new england weather.

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear you're feeling great, and looking forward to more amazing recipes (and writing - love to read you) coming up!

Just yesterday I gently reminded my 2.5 year old son, Erik to "remember to keep it in the bowl..." when he was helping me in the kitchen. Love your stories.

-Katrina W.

Katrina W.

Tara said...

I just landed on your blog- your story is so touching. I am glad to hear that you are recovering and feeling so great! How strong you must be after such a challenging time.

ellen said...

I went to Sweet Amandine to reread recipes and stay connected, and a gift greeted me - a new entry, a recipe and enchanting photographs! I wish you continued health, happiness, and meals shared with loved ones...

EEJ said...

Almond milk! Do you believe I had never tried almond milk before tonight when I made this happy little concoction (alas, without blueberries) for dessert? I think I'll be having this every morning for breakfast from now on.

Anonymous said...

jess, i love you and am thinking about you..... -joel

Dolce said...

Glad to know you are safe and sound... and baking :)

Jess said...

Kelsey - Thank you. These cooler temps are indeed just perfect for a morning run. (Or shuffle-jog.)

Katrina - Thanks so much. I love that you used that line! I'll have to tell my mom. Erik is so lucky to be stirring away in the kitchen with you.

Tara - Hello, and welcome. Thank you for your kind words.

Ellen - What a sweet note. Thank you for staying connected. Getting to step out into this white space, write, and connect with all of you feels like a gift to me. It is truly my privilege to be here.

EEJ - It's nice, that almond milk, isn't it? Happy concocting!

Joel - I miss you. So much love. xo.

Dolce - Thank you.

Dawn said...

Thank *you*! You are an inspiration, especially to my good friend Catherine, another food blogger who has gone through a similar ordeal as you: http://madeleine.typepad.com/my_weblog/2009/12/happy-new-year.html