Rachel Maria's Chicken-boli

Rachel Maria's Recipes
Rachel Maria's Chicken-Boli
Rachel Maria’s Chicken-Boli

**This is very similar to my stromboli…and that is my number one crowd pleaser.  So, this is a healthier dinner-appropriate version…made with chicken in lieu of bread.   Feel free to modify with extra cheese…no cheese…fat free cheese…turkey pepperoni…whatever!


Boneless Chicken Breast pounded thin (1-2 per person)
Pepperoni (2-3 slices per serving)
Cooper Sharp Cheese (2 slices per serving)
3 Tbs. Flour
2 Eggs
1/4 Cup Italian Style Bread Crumbs


* Preheat oven to 350º.   Spray bottom of a baking pan with Pam.
* Prepare 3 bowls with each flour, beaten eggs, and bread crumbs.
* Slice Chicken breast into thin slices and/or pound to 1/4 inch thickness.
* Place pepperoni and cheese on the chicken and roll it up, firmly.
* Dip into flour, followed by the egg and then roll in breadcrumbs.
* Place rolls of battered chicken in pan and cover with foil.
* Bake for 45 minutes.

Serve with Rice!




Foster Care & Family

I’ve been referred to as the smartest airhead ever known. This oxymoronic title comes from the fact that there are some days my brain functions clearly and most effectively, while other days my brain feels half asleep.

Imagine one day being able to write a dissertation on a familiar subject with ease while the next day struggling to pay attention to a mindless conversation over coffee with a friend. This is how my brain works. Some of the time, my mental abilities are effortless…ideas and thoughts come to mind quickly. I can solve problems, communicate a new idea, or develop a business plan in a short amount of time. And yet, there are other times that I feel like a complete ding bat. During these times, if I am asked to make a simple decision regarding which movie I want to see, I feel completely overwhelmed. Words cannot describe the frustration in dealing with this neurological imbalance.

Oh, there’s more…

I have a physical imbalance as well. Imagine one day feeling strong enough to participate in a Freak-of-nature-type of aerobic workout (such as running uphill or sparring with someone twice your size), and the day before (or after) not even having enough energy to get off the sofa. Some days I feel strong. I can clean a house, run several errands, and host an unforgettable party. Other days, I feel as though my body was just ripped out of bed. And, three o’clock in the afternoon feels like three o’clock in the middle of the night.

Or how about this? Suppose one day you’re able to watch the movie Steel Magnolias without requiring tissues followed by the next day in which a few crumbs on your recently swept kitchen floor can bring you to tears. Or, one day you text your husband, “I love you.  I miss you.” And then the next day just upon hearing him tiptoe in the next room causes the hairs on your neck to STAND ON END. “STOP IT!  Aren’t you late for work or something?” Whoa. Talk about starting a potential war. Welcome to the joys of an emotional imbalance.

I’ve struggled with several chronic health issues that cause physical and neurological imbalances, such as extreme fatigue and swelling in my brain, for as long as I can remember. Dealing with the symptoms is beyond-words-difficult, in and of itself. But that’s not even close to where it ends.

There are no words to describe how much damage these imbalances have caused in my personal and professional life. I am partly to blame. After all, I fought against these issues for so long. (Sometimes it’s the fighting against something inevitable that can be detrimental.) Anyway, I pressured myself with the need to fix all the problems these imbalances caused. I pushed myself to catch up after days struggling with physical fatigue or mental brain fog that initially caused me to fall behind. And only God knows how much I grieved after so many attempts in unsuccessfully seeking validation all-the-while struggling with my own ability to understand and communicate what was happening in my body and in my brain.

After a while, you realize that it’s easier to lay low. Not only are you dealing with debilitating symptoms, but the never-ending need to explain, apologize, or justify your behaviors, moods, and mental density is exhausting, overwhelming, embarrassing, and frustrating.  

Here are the symptoms, in order of frequency, that I wrestle with as a result of PMDD, Endometriosis, Hypothyroidism, Chronic Allergies, and Epstein Barr Virus/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome:

  • Fatigue (SEVERE)
  • Chronic Allergies
  • Pelvic Pain (Internal Bleeding)
  • Brain Fog
  • Depression
  • Confusion
  • Loss of Memory
  • Irritability
  • Bladder Infections
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Headache
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia

All of these symptoms are invisible except for my allergies, which are so severe that I have bags under my eyes from the swelling in my sinuses. For the first few hours of the morning, I am sneezing, blowing my nose, and/or running cold water over my eyes.

Somehow I managed a somewhat normal lifestyle until the year 2012. But, in the winter of that year, I was officially diagnosed with Hypothyroidism and PMDD. (Most likely…many years too late.)

What’s the worst health issue I’m dealing with? PMDD. Hands down. PMDD.

For the 3-8% of women who have PMDD, something goes awry in the brain as a result of the standard reproductive cycle. Specifically, the hormonal mechanism during the second half of a woman’s menstrual cycle causes severe swelling in the brain.

The worst thing about PMDD is that most doctors are clueless, and for whatever reason, it was not until last year that PMDD was finally recognized as a legitimate “disorder” in the DSM-5 (May 2013). Maybe that’s why I was undiagnosed for 24 years.

Friends, it will take me a long time before I am able to put into words my experience with PMDD. In a nutshell, women with PMDD are unable to mentally nor emotionally process anything as they would on a normal day. Everything is distorted. You literally believe that there is no light at the end of the tunnel.  You feel hopeless. Worthless. You don’t want to be around people. Everything seems bleak. You’re confused. You can’t make a simple decision or perform a simple task. You can’t choose your words properly. And you lack motivation to do just about anything.

PMDD is such a complex health issue that I don’t want to dedicate too much writing about the illness, itself. (The Internet contains plenty of information.) I can only share what I know, what I experienced, and how I am choosing to live an extraordinary life in spite of having this awful, debilitating, disorder.

Right now, my wellness is my part time job. I spend many hours each week dealing with symptoms, adjusting my routine, keeping up with doctor visits, staying on top of medical/insurance paperwork, trips to the pharmacy, and tracking my symptoms on charts. I am working with specialists who are trying their hardest to understand and control these ongoing symptoms. The best remedy, by far, is modifying my life-style. I don’t push my body to do more than it can do. The good news, is that I can finally reserve the energy for doing things that are essential.

I live a half-healthy life-style, and yet I choose to accept the extra-ordinary.

Everywhere I look I see people pushing beyond their limits…living beyond their means…and desiring more and more while never enjoying the moment. I get it. That was me, once. But, God allowed me to have these health issues, and they certainly got my attention. It took a physical collapse before I finally decided to stop pushing and change my limits…my means…and my expectations.

I have found satisfaction in the simpler things. Today, I am feeling extremely fatigued. Yet, I am sitting here, in my pajamas, in our cozy 1-bedroom condo, sipping chamomile tea, and writing this post…at my own pace…hoping and praying that it will make it into the hands of at least one particular person that needs to feel reminded…validated…encouraged…and inspired that she, too, can choose to live an EXTRAordinary life in spite of limitations, circumstances, or a half-healthy lifestyle!


Living Half Healthy - Intro Post

Fashion & Lifestyle

I’ve added a new section to my blog, today, called Living Half Healthy.  From today forward, I will be posting occasional updates, articles, inspirations, and prayers for those of us who live with health issues.  This has been on my heart to do for a long time, now.

While some of my personal health issues are fairly common, minor, acceptable, and validated.  Others are complex, unknown, invalidated, and cringe-worthy.

After I published the post titled, “From Suffering to Gratitude” in which I mentioned my struggle with Endometriosis and PMDD, I received several private comments from women who had been struggling (with the PMDD, specifically) in silence, as I had, for such a long time.  It helped me realize how important it is for me to share my experiences with others.

And so, in between my posts of recipes, house renovations, and extraordinary life experiences and excursions, I will be sharing about my daily struggle with Endometriosis, PMDD, Hypothyroidism, Chronic Allergies, and Epstein Barr Virus/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

You may be able to relate directly or indirectly to this subject in LE Woman.  But just as a warning, don’t expect to read my story without a dose of encouragement!  Remember, my objective is always to inspire you to live an EXTRAordinary life with me…in spite of our circumstances. Alright then?  OK!

Dear God, Please bless this page on my website.  May it bring readers that are sincerely interested in living an EXTRAordinary Life.  Amen.  




Pocket Door or NO Pocket Door?

The House on High Street

On Wednesday, Scott took me to the house to meet our Electrician, Timmy and review all electrical switches…lights…etc.  Wow, that was more intense than I had thought.  “Do you want 2 switches or 3…on the left side of the door or the right…do you want the fan and the lighting on one switch or separate……is the door swinging this way or that way…”  Every time I think we have it figured out, a whole new set of decisions come up.

At one point, Timmy asked a question about the kitchen doorway to the Great Room.  While Scott & Jeff recently added an opening for french doors to the den, the kitchen entry currently has a “single door” opening that could either stay or go.

I decided to facilitate a discussion with Scott…and Jimmy…and Jeff regarding a potential pocket door.  Obviously, Scott is less than thrilled whenever I ask for something new because as we all know…these things can add up.  But, overall, I’ve been really good sticking to the budget and the plans.  Besides, closing these doors will allow us to warm the Great Room specifically as we will rarely use the other half of the house when it’s just the two of us!  So, it’s a cost saver in the long run! Anyway, I captured the contemplation on video.  I think it’s a hoot.   Both Jeff and Timmy are absolutely adorable…trying to stay “neutral”….while Scott tries to find reasons NOT to invest more time…more work…more money.  Ok, I can’t blame him.   I told you we make a good team!  (And, he does “wear the pants” even though I tease about this.)

Anyway, yesterday, Scott surprised me with this pic.   This shows the opening (on the left) for the french doors going into the Foyer…and the opening (on the right) is for…you guessed it…a pocket door!  Yay!

photo 2-7

Staying on Budget!

The House on High Street

One of the most challenging aspects in our Reno Project is working within a budget.   After all, our objective was to find a home that would be valued much more than our investment. Besides, there are qualities (that money cannot buy) that set a House apart from A Home.  Qualities such as warmth…coziness…home-cooked aromas…friends/family/laugher…comfort…and LOVE. Yet still…when you buy a home that is over 200 years old with more damage than functionality there is only so much you can do without tapping into the financial resources. Early on, Scott and I decided upon a budget that would be reasonable for us to maintain a comfortable lifestyle.   Working with a budget helps us appreciate every project we are doing in the house.  Not to mention, it makes us feel good to know that we put so much time and careful thought in determining the difference between “needs” and “wants” and what deserves priority. You’d be surprised how many conversations, hours spent on-line, phone-calls, negotiating, and revisiting the budget takes place for things even as miniscule as the hinges on a door.  Is it worth it?  Absolutely. We have mutually decided that we want this house to have character…authenticity…warmth…and charm.   It’s more important to us that our guests feel comfortable over impressed with the appearance of our home.  In fact, half-way through our deliberations…we decided to switch from “Elegant Traditional” to a more “Rustic Dutch Colonial”.  It just made sense.  Not only was it more practical (i.e. restoring the old floors just lends itself better to the rustic colonial style)…but it would create all the qualities we hope to instill in our home even more. That being said, here are a few money-saving tips that are working for us. Scott and I decided that the Kitchen and the Master Bath will get the most attention in terms of quality and effort.  And even in these rooms, we are prioritizing.   For example, I plan on beating the heck out of my oven and stove.   (Not all kitchen stoves take such beatings.)  Therefore, there will be no skimping on the stove.  However, as much as I LOVE the appearance of cabinet legs throughout the design…spending $800/per leg is just not as important to me. After meeting with a few professional contractors, we decided to appoint Scott as General Contractor.  He is handy.  And, he has valuable connections with everyone from framers to electricians, etc.  It’s important to share that we would NOT have purchased this house if we did not have enough courage to utilize our own talents. For every person hired and every item purchased…we shop around!  Scott gets at least 2-3 quotes for every project.  Since I am doing the interior design and decorating, I do a LOT of homework on line or in the store before committing to a purchase.  (So far, I’ve been to 5 cabinet places since October and I have STILL not made the final decision.) Whenever there is DIY potential…WE WILL DO IT OURSELVES.  (i.e. making window treatments…refinishing floors….authentic furniture pieces;  Scott is making built-in book shelves…the dining room table…and lot’s of other carpentry projects.) Another thing we have learned to appreciate…NEVER underestimate the potential in the “marked down” section of the better quality furniture store.  Scott and I actually found better deals (on much nicer quality items) at the nicer furniture stores (sometimes in the marked down section) than we do at the less-expensive stores. Last but not least, negotiate.  We NEVER want to look back at a project or a purchase and regret that we did not get the best quality for the price we spent. So, overall, this is a fun, exciting, painstaking, and challenging project!  It is also an extraordinary learning-process.  We are learning about the house.  Learning about ourselves.  Learning new trades and skills.  Learning more about our marriage.  And this…money cannot buy!

1 50 51 52 61