A Beautiful Heart




“You have a beautiful heart” – said the cardiologist at the conclusion of his evaluation.

I wonder what he saw on the echocardiogram that made him produce such “diagnosis” – a bunch of blooming roses??

In his mind though I’m sure a bunch of expletives were running wild in response to my appearance in his office complaining of chest pains that were pretty bad one of the nights. “You have a marvelous theory” said the doctor to my explanations why I didn’t go to ER in the middle of the night (insert his silent comments “WTF Diana!!! You have chest pains – you HAVE to go to the hospital! That’s how it works!” ). I tried to explain to him that sometimes I put my life in the hands of the Higher Power, and if I’m meant to die on a certain day, I will, whether I’m in the hospital or not, and at times I let go of the worry and “responsibility” for my life and have faith that “what’s meant to be, will be” (so insert more of his WTF silent comments here).

Yes, doctor, I know you were worried, I agree that chest pains definitely warrant a trip to the hospital. Yes, I was explained it many times that because one of the chemo components was heart toxic (and just the fact that I had chemo and cancer, period), I’m running a lifetime risk for both heart issues and pulmonary embolism, and have to be checked every single time I present with any symptoms. And I have gone to ER before (many times), and it’s traumatic, to both mind and body, to be whirled around the second you tell them you have chest pains. So sometimes I take my chances, and stay home, and I’ve survived so far – “Just marvelous!” said the doctor.

So if one day I just disappear and become silent, it’s probably because my theory of survival didn’t work. In that case, come and play the ghost game with me: you bring pink roses to my grave, and I’ll entertain you by levitating above the ground and whispering “Boo” in your ear.

“You have a beautiful heart” said the doctor, “Take care of it please”.



What’s Cooking This Week

Much has been said of what actually constitutes a “healthy” food, low fat, low sugar, low carb guidelines have been in the news for decades. I agree with some but oppose other ones. To me, a healthy food is the one that’s the closest to the natural source, un-processed and cooked with other natural ingredients. I don’t subscribe to no fat or sugar suggestions, we need some fat to absorb certain vitamins and nutrients, and I’ll choose natural sugar sources over chemically created ones. And I don’t always believe that a heart healthy diet is the one completely void of red meat. I think the rule was created to simplify it for people who were told to refrain from fat-dripping burgers and bacon. I do believe some amount of red meat is necessary for a healthy living as it provides us with  appropriate amounts of iron and protein, along with leafy greens and other iron-rich foods of course. I think it all comes down to the actual meat source you choose, I typically get very lean grass-fed or organic beef, so to me, it’s natural and low in saturated fat, therefore it’s healthy. You may substitute beef for other meat, like turkey or chicken, if you wish, or make it with Portobello mushrooms instead to provide a vegetarian option. All fall squash provide a good option for vitamins A and C, necessary for a heart healthy diet, I chose acorn squash as it’s easy to stuff. I’m also using buckwheat in this recipe, which is one of the widely known Russian grains (actually buckwheat is not a grain at all but rather a seed, so it’s gluten free). Beef and buckwheat is a traditional pair in Slavic cuisine, but you may use other grains instead, like rice or quinoa (which is not a grain either by the way). Beef and buckwheat make a powerful pairing for extra protein and iron that are necessary to maintain healthy hemoglobin levels and have that “beautiful heart” going.

Beef and Buckwheat Stuffed Acorn Squash


2 acorn squash

1 lb of ground beef

1 cup of buckwheat (undercooked)

1/2 cup of peas

4 slices of cheese (I used cheddar style daiya)

1 tsp each minced onions and dry garlic

1/2 tsp each paprika and oregano

salt, pepper


Cook buckwheat according to the package instruction but make it undercooked. Mix together beef, buckwheat, peas and all the seasonings.

Cut the squash diagonally in half and cut off the ends so they can stand on their own.


Rub salt and pepper inside each squash half and stuff them with beef and buckwheat mixture.


Bake in a pre-heated oven at 375F degrees for about 15-20 minutes or till the tops get brown, then cover with foil and continue baking for another 20 minutes or so. Uncover and top each half with a slice of cheese, let the cheese melt over the tops.

This dish can be served as a main meal or lunch. It’s unpretentious yet looks and tastes great, plus all the added healthy nutrients make it a perfect fall option.



Welcome to My World


As a follow-up to my earlier (Almost) Wordless Wednesday post about mental health field, here is a collection of best moments from “my world”. Even though I do not work in inpatient psychiatry, I often visit the unit to see a particular patient, and I get my own share of these moments working in triage and outpatient setting, plus I worked in inpatient medicine for several years so most of it is very relevant.

*Important Disclaimer: It is in no way my intention to bring offence to anyone with this post. I love my job and even the most difficult patients teach me something new and important. This is just simply a collection of some of those moments unique to work in mental health that I think my fellow comrades in the field can appreciate and relate to. If you are unable to read it with a measure of humor, then this post may not be for you.

#12 – me, every, single, day!  #13 – I don’t get angry anymore, but my BS-radar is always on. And #10 – F*** You is just a hello in my world.


Best Moments of a Mental Heath Worker (from Glitter and Goop blogpost):

1. Reading the report on an admission you are about to get.
2. Trying to explain to other people exactly what it is you do at work.
3. Those days when you are emotionally drained and have nothing much to give…
4…and the feeling you get when you’ve actually successfully helped a patient through a crisis situation.
5. Every time you interact with a severely personality disordered patient.
6. The look on your face when you get to work and discover the most horrible patient has been DISCHARGED!!
7. Coming back to work the day after a double shift.
8. Arriving at work and knowing that no matter what goes down, the shift will rock because you are working with amazing people!
9. When you have a patient who is out of control and the doctor orders a medication that won’t even touch them.
10. When a patient is being verbally abusive and you come back with the perfectly witty yet professional response.
11. Accidentally making eye contact with that ONE patient who is constantly asking for something and won’t leave you alone.
12. Trying to follow a delusional or psychotic patient’s long and incoherent story.
13. The anger you feel when you KNOW a person is malingering!
14. Charting, charting and more charting…
15. Charting when your brain is fried at the end of the shift.
16. When you have literally been so busy that you have held your bladder for hours.
17. ANYTIME you have to deal with a naked patient in mental heath, its gonna be an awkward situation.
18. When you have to start something long and involved right before your shift is about to end.
19. Seeing the next shift’s crew coming through the door!
20. You go through so much weird shit together that you can’t help but form incredibly strange but close bonds with your coworkers. Those bonds are important because they make a strange job even more entertaining.
21. They don’t judge you when you tell them that this is how you spent your time after work:
22. Most importantly, they support you because they know exactly how you feel and those people care in a way that only mental health workers do!

Scatterbrain # 4


I’m in a complete scatterbrain mode yet again – probably because I’m just coming off a crazy week and entering yet another nutty one, just too many things happening at once. I had to deal with a heart issue and spend a couple days in bed (I’m fine, this is something that pops up once in a while in my post-cancer world). The kid is in the middle of SATs, college applications and other high school senior related stuff – and trying to manage a 17 year-old boy to keep him organized and on schedule is like a pushing a pound of cooked spaghetti up the hill, your spaghetti is running all over but none on the hill. I also had to finish the article about aging and relationships for the November issue of Russian Health magazine where I’m a psychology consultant. A dear friend’s birthday coming up this week so of course a birthday cake has to be made (that Red Velvet Cake with Limoncello Buttercream I was talking about in the previous post). And another gathering with my girl pals next week that I have to bake for (I think I’ll make French Apple-Rum Mini Cakes), which usually works like this: I stir the pot and tell everybody we need to get together, and say I’ll bake something, then I create a poll to choose the best day for all, and once the day is chosen, I drop it (bad bad Diana) and let the rest of them figure out the nitty gritty details like which venue and what to do, but then I show up with dessert so everybody forgets I let somebody else do all the dirty work. I now have 11 people to put into a “forgetful” sugar coma next Friday.

Oh yeah, and there was a trip to urgent care with the kid this morning – just because Sunday needs to be more exciting!

Also, somehow, all these managed to appear this weekend too:














And how was your weekend?

Rainy Saturday






What else is there to do at 8 am on a rainy Saturday, after you sent your nervous 17 year old to take his SATs?!

Bake of course. Just like on any other day.

Some people, to combat their own anxiety, read, exercise, go for a walk. Me? I bake. (Yes, I know, I’m weird, we are not disputing it).

I hope the kid does well on the test today, it’s his 2nd round, he got a decent score in the Spring, but there’s always room for improvement. And then there are chemistry and trigonometry subject SATs to take next month too. I mean, I feel for the kid! He’s got a great 3.7 GPA at school, but he HATES all standardized tests, he just doesn’t believe in them (I wonder where he got his “out of the box” thinking…). So to go there and work your ass off on something you don’t believe in… I hear you kid! But this is life! Get used to it!

And hopefully then you get to work on something you DO believe in and passionate about. Just find your path, kid! And stay on it, no matter what! You will be rewarded. With the results you’d be proud of. And life you DO want to lead.



What’s Cooking This Rainy Morning

Baked goods. Always on a menu. Healthier version of course, it always helps to use whole grains and good fats. This is a variation of a bread I bake often as I try not to eat a lot of grains (even gluten free ones) as I’ve noticed I started getting some cross-reaction from rice, corn and oats. So grains are now more of a splurge rather than an everyday occurrence. Yes, I’ve had plenty of shit fits over it (it limits my eating even more so), but what’s the alternative?…


No step by step pictures for the recipe below. Yeah, I forgot. It was 7 am on a Saturday, people! I’m happy I remembered to at least take a couple after I baked them.

Blueberry Yogurt Biscuits


2 cups of flour (I used Cup4Cup gluten free mix)

2 6 oz containers of Greek blueberry yogurt

1/2 cup of milk (I used almond)

1 Tbsp of baking powder

1/4 tsp of salt

2 tsps of sugar

1 tsp of vanilla sugar (or vanilla)

1/2 6 oz container of blueberries

cinnamon sugar to top

This is a simple and quick recipe, you can also skip the berries and use plain yogurt to make regular biscuits. They have a crusty outside and soft inside, perfect to cut and spread jam or butter.

Combine milk and yogurt separately. Mix together all the dry ingredients. Incorporate dry and wet ingredients, dough will be sticky. Quickly knead it a few times on a lightly floured surface, roll it out to about 3/4 inch thick, cut biscuits out of the dough and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Place several blueberries on top of each biscuit and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 425F for about 15-17 minutes or until the tops get slightly brown.

Have breakfast. And wait for the kid to come home and tell you about the test.






I had a small impromptu girls night in gathering this past Sunday. Don’t ask why or how we ended up looking at wedding dresses. Nope, nobody’s getting married, but that didn’t stop us. If I follow the reverse breadcrumbs trail of thoughts, we had some of those “BFFs” pictured above, and there were Sex and the City reruns on TV (pretty much almost any time you turn on  the E channel, you’re bound to catch SATC, which is fine with me), then I mentioned that the Vera Wang two-tone white and blush dress Carrie wore for her wedding photo shoot in the first SATC movie was my absolute favorite, and if I ever get married again, I’d want some similar dress (I better start saving for it now, just in case it does happen, Vera Wang’s dresses are usually in a range of $10-25,000). Then of course we had to find that dress from the movie.




You can’t see it in a sitting position, but it’s actually a mermaid style dress with a gorgeous blush train. Yes, I know, this is a LOT of dress! But I’m tall, I can pull it off! :)

And then we found the Vivienne Westwood dress Carrie did end up wearing for her wedding in the movie.




Beautiful too, but a bit too “cupcake like” for my taste. I’d rather just eat them.

And then we found another 100 dresses that each of us liked…

Why or why are supposed to wear a wedding dress just to your wedding?! Why can’t there be like a grown up wedding dress prom?! Or at least a Halloween party just for beautiful wedding dresses?!

Anyway, that’s what happens when you OD on those “BFFs”…

In a more reality-based news, lots of different foods were produced (and eaten) last weekend.












And this mini cake was not eaten (or even shown to anybody, as it’d have been devoured for sure). It was made for a special birthday celebration this week. I did post this picture on Facebook after that and received a ton of “death threats” of “who the F*** ate it as none of us did?!” – they got over it, eventually. The cake is Paleo red velvet with creamy limoncello buttercream, I only made a tiny portion to assemble this mini 4 inch cake, and I did taste just a morsel as not to disturb the perfection of cake layers, but I think it came out great, you can hardly notice it has no flour whatsoever. Limoncello buttercream was a great companion too, a bit of indulgence on top of a healthy option. I’m planning to make (and fully taste) a regular cake size version of it later in a month for another friend’s birthday. So stay tuned for the recipe.