Hundred Thousand Dollar Listing and Guess Who’s (Maybe) Moving To Beverly Hills

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Taylor and John back on TV?                                          Photo: E!Online

By Tara Cushing (@TheBravoBlonde)

Here’s a recipe for you:

Take Ryan Serhant , transgender him, place him in the suburbs and knock down the price of sale to what typically is chump change on Million Dollar Listing New York.

Welcome to my life. For the past year I have dealt with strangers, many inconsiderate, traipsing their dirty shoes through my house at all inconvenient hours only to tear it (and my hope and pride) apart. Until finally somebody saw what I see (at a much reduced price from what I paid) and gave me the opportunity to be an inconsiderate stranger dragging my dirty shoes through somebody else’s price inflated house.

Welcome to the reality of the real estate game. It’s not glamorous. It’s tedious, disheartening, emotional, expensive and very messy. Luckily, I have crossed many hurdles and can see the light (or the wires hanging from the spot where my chandelier once hung that I will have to replace) at the end of the tunnel.

It’s been a long road, but hopefully the bank will see that I am trustworthy, honest, and not laundering drug money (yeah they really suspect everybody of that these days) and soon I will have my upsized new home (and the bills that come with it).

Until that day my life is in chaos, which is why I have not been on my A game with this blog. I am good with optimism, I am good with finding the humor in the darkest of situations, but I SUCK at compartmentalizing my feelings. Like many writers I wear my heart on my sleeve, and the feeling that I have the hardest time suppressing is that of anxiety (my friends over at Skinnygirl cocktails sometimes help me with that one). So, alas, I have found it nearly impossible to focus on ANYTHING  but making this move happen (that and helping my friends over at nikscreations.com with their social media campaign). I do plan on being very inspired once all is said and done, however, as my new abode has the perfect spot just for me to sit and write. Oh think of the interior decorating I will do…and write about!

Speaking of new abodes here’s a little niblet just for you all as I don’t believe ANYBODY else in the loop has heard this one yet. A reliable source has told me that Taylor Armstrong and hubby John Bluher (Couples Therapy-Season 4) are in talks to return to The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills:

“Taylor is living in Scottsdale (AZ) for now but is moving,” our source says. “(She) is going back to RHOBH. No one knows yet. They’re looking for a home in Beverly Hills.”

Where did our source hear this little nugget? Why from Mr. and Mrs. Bluher themselves. So would you like to see Taylor back as a 90210 Housewife? Tell us your thoughts below!

Until then, happy house-hunting Taylor and John. Welcome to my world.

TBB Takes the Lyme Disease Challenge

By Tara Cushing (@TheBravoBlonde)

Lyme Disease, you would think it’s something new, considering all the press it’s recently gotten. Thanks to people like Yolanda Foster (The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills) and Avril Lavigne, and the internet phenomenon known as The Lyme Disease Challenge, Lyme has recently gotten some long awaited attention, extremely long awaited.

Flash back more than 20 years ago, when I was just a teen, and not even a blonde. I was a little bit of an earth child, listening to bands like Steve Miller and the Grateful Dead and shopping for perfectly worn in jeans and flannels at the used clothing store that became very trendy where I lived. When the warmer months came I refused shoes, going barefoot any place that would let me get away with it. I sat under trees reading books by Thomas Harris  and John Grisham, while adults from the camp I attended called my mother saying they were concerned that I often chose to be alone over socializing. I spent a lot of time in the grass bonding with nature and not caring what others thought of it. I also didn’t care when I got warned that there was a new disease being spread by ticks in that very grass.

Teenagers are unaware of their mortality, and it’s that invincible feeling that makes those years so exciting. I laughed off the notion that my penchant for refusing to wear shoes could even make me sick. “The grass between my toes is good for me,” I’d retort. Diseases happened to “other people” who were really old or in After School Specials, they would not happen to me.

When I was about 16 I started to feel different. My knees ached, I was tired, I was moody…and not in the regular hormone infested teenage girl way. I would cry hysterically without reason. You could ask me, “What’s the matter?” and I would answer “I don’t even know!” The pain in my knees started spreading and I would feel it in my elbows, my toes, my wrists, another friend who had it described it as “a mouse running around your body” which is exactly as it felt. It was like the pain was a pinball and it would bounce from joint to joint causing terrible pain.

My pediatrician first diagnosed me with growing pains, but as my fatigue and pain increased he ran out of ideas. He told my mother to take me to a shrink. That these perceived symptoms were all in my head.  My mother knew better than to do that, but we didn’t know where to go. Then one day at a family gathering I made a beeline for a relative’s bedroom and went to sleep. I woke up in a panic, I could not lift my arm, which was throbbing in pain, off of the bed. I begged my mother to help me find the right help, expressing that I feared I would end up wheelchair bound if we didn’t find somebody who could help.

A rheumatologist diagnosed me with Lyme after I showed borderline positive on a blood test (it was so hard to diagnose that even the slightest sign of a positive is taken very seriously). I was treated for 4 weeks with strong antibiotics. The first two weeks I got sicker (called the Herxheimer effect) and then in the final two started to feel better. There was a life back in me that hadn’t been seen in so long. My mother said that the “soot under my eyes” lightened up. I started to feel like the old me again. Then the doctor pulled the meds, saying four weeks were enough. I sunk even lower than before. My short term memory started to fade and the exhaustion was back with a vengeance.

Through a neighbor we found a doctor who was gaining fame for treating Lyme about an hour from our home. He said there was no question that this is what was making me sick. For two and a half years he fought this disease with me with antibiotic cocktails until I was symptom free. He saved my life. To this day he is my hero.

Life after Lyme is never the same. I have early onset arthritis that makes it hard for me to write on some days. When it rains my ankles and wrists swell. I need to make sure I get enough rest or it could knock me out for a few days. But I am happy to say that for the most part Lyme is behind me. What I am unhappy to say, however, is that the disease still exists and more and more people are getting sick, very sick. Lyme Disease is no joke, it’s serious, though often misunderstood. Please view my Lyme Disease Challenge video below and take the challenge yourself. Let’s save some lives one bite at a time!

*For more information about Lyme Disease and The Lyme Disease Challenge please visit lymediseasechallenge.org .

My Week of Clean Eating

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Caprese salad with chickpeas makes an awesome lunch! Recipe below!

By Tara Cushing (@TheBravoBlonde)

Ah the signs of spring…sunlit evenings, chirping birds in the morning, people dieting like crazy for the impending swimsuit season. Add social media to the mix and the diet game has achieved a whole new level. There are now Facebook groups devoted to challenges of all sorts where people can share photos of food, exercises, and bare midriffs to show their progress.

I’ve always been very self motivated when it comes to fitness, I’m also extremely competitive, so when a friend posted about an ab challenge I was all “Sign me up!” One week in and I started seeing a difference, at which point I got invited to do a clean eating challenge. Sure, my abs will really look awesome…”Sign me up!” About an hour later I regretted that choice. The group, lead by my friend and Beachbody Coach, Maria, came with guidelines, rules, and forms to fill out. I hate guidelines, rules, and forms. However Maria convinced me it would be fun, besides, it was only for 5 days. How hard could it be?

Day 1: 

My first obstacle, I realized, would be my morning caffeine ritual. Healthy Tara starts her day with green tea, but on the way to work, unhealthy Tara stops at Dunkin Donuts for a Vanilla Chai. I know it has 330 calories, but I’m a runner, so I ignore that. My Vanilla Chai is my security blanket. I shuffle into work clutching it each morning. It is my lifeline. “Are you aware that it has 45 grams of sugar?” Maria texts me. ‘Killjoy’ I think. “Go ahead and have it,” she tells me “just be aware.” Ha, permission I think…or maybe it was reverse psychology, because by the time I pulled into DD all I could imagine was a syrupy cup of sugar. I reluctantly ordered a small skim unsweetened cappuccino. I saved myself 250 calories and 36 grams of sugar, and I actually enjoyed it. This may actually be an easy challenge. Later that day a colleague offered me a pretzel which I declined (no processed foods on this challenge) she shook her head and as she walked away I heard her  say “Who doesn’t eat pretzels?” Lesson learned day 1, gain healthy habits, become the office weirdo.

Day 2:

Maria (who by the way tells me this is not a diet but my new Vanilla Chai-less lifestyle) convinces me that my daily breakfast of 1/2 a bagel with vegan butter is devoid of protein. I’ve been eating this same exact breakfast every weekday for at least 8 years. I want to tell her that Dr. Oz says that we should eat the same breakfast everyday, but I bite my tongue. Maria suggests I add an egg white. I get up 5 minutes earlier to fry an eggwhite. I then proceed to stress my entire commute that I might have left the burner on and that my beloved dog will perish in a horrible fire. For lunch I’ve made some random chickpea, pasta, basil salad. It’s surprisingly delicious, but I’m also hungry enough to eat my desk. Maria was worried that I wasn’t consuming enough food for my active lifestyle, I’m beginning to realize that Maria knows everything and perhaps I should have her pick my lotto numbers too. I come home to find that my dog and house are safe. At dinner I enjoy some baked french fries without any (sugary) ketchup. I feel like I just did something sacrilegious. I plan tomorrow’s meals wondering if there’s a way to convince Kraft to make egg white singles.

Day 3:

I’m starting to feel the positive effects of this diet, I mean life change, though I honestly thought I was a pretty clean eater before; except for the Vanilla Chais, tortilla chips, pizza, and nightly sinful dessert. While on the topic of dessert, I’m a diehard liberal, but at this point I may sell my vote to the Republicans for a cookie. Maria says I should make healthy cookies, like I have time to make cookies. Overall I’m tired from staying up late watching Tuesday night Bravo, and it’s raining which translates to “I’m the hungriest I’ve been all week.” I succumb to eating part of my lunch at 11am and having some multigrain flaxseed crackers and cheese after work. The crackers are the crunchiest things I’ve eaten all week and it takes all of my strength not to eat the whole package. But the positives, yes those positives, my pants are looser, I have no bloat, and I’m wearing a top that I usually think reveals bumps and lumps in all the wrong places, it only reveals the right ones. Ah, progress. Oh I’ve also learned to check the burner on the stove 6 times before I leave in the morning.

Day 4:

I’m hungry again around 11 am. I decide that the drastic reduction in calories from the way I ingest my caffeine is the reason. However, I’ve grown quite fond of unsweetened nonfat cappuccinos so decide I will from now on eat the fruit portion of my lunch at 11 every morning instead of reverting back to Vanilla Chais. Speaking of fruit it’s been a stressful day and I’m missing the liquid variety, but I’ve sworn off alcohol for this challenge. Tomorrow night can’t come quick enough.

Day 5:

I’ve made it five days without any processed foods, sweetened lattes, decadent desserts, or alcohol. I’ve surprised myself with how many meals I can concoct from a can of chickpeas, a container of grape tomatoes, and a package of basil.I feel less bloated and have more energy, but I ran 7 miles this evening and it’s pizza Friday. I compromise with a salad slice and half a banana for dinner, and I fall asleep before I even have a chance to pour the glass of wine I’d worked so hard for. Tomorrow I have a baby shower to attend. Free from the bonds of clean eating I might just throw myself into the cake. I’ve decided that calories consumed on Saturdays (or any opportunity to eat cake for that matter) just don’t count.

What a difference 5 days of clean eating makes! Bikini season here I come!

What a difference 5 days of clean eating makes! Bikini season here I come!

In Conclusion:

Despite all of my whining, clean eating really wasn’t that hard, or that different from how I normally eat. The changes I’ve made were easy enough that I believe I will continue to eat clean during the work week and indulge just a little bit on weekends. The results I saw in just 5 days are enough to keep me going! Many of you have asked for my meal plan so here is a sample of what I ate in a day along with recipes where necessary:

Breakfast:

*1/2 whole wheat bagel w/ Earth Balance soy free spread, egg white, nonfat/unsweetened small Dunkin Donuts cappuccino

Snack 1:

* 1 mandarin

Lunch:

*caprese/chickpea salad: 1/2 cup chickpeas, 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil, 1/2 cup sliced grape tomatoes, 1/3 cup fresh mozzarella in bite size pieces, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar,  1 tbs olive oil : layer all ingredients in lidded container & shake

Snack 2:

*2 tbs peanut butter w 1/2 a fuji apple

IMG_8207Dinner:

*salmon burger (no bun) spread with goat cheese

*handful Alexia brand yukon gold baked fries (no ketchup)

*broccoli w/ garlic & almonds: package frozen organic broccoli, 1/2 c slivered almonds, 2 diced garlic cloves: in covered pan on low heat, heat all together until broccoli is thawed and warm

Dessert:

* mock caramel apple pie: 1/2 fuji apple, 1 tbsp peanut butter : chop up apple half into teacup, place peanut butter on top, microwave until peanut butter is melted and apples are soft (about 30-45 seconds)

*For more clean eating ideas, recipes, and to find out about Maria’s coaching please follow her @MariaPaulercio on Twitter.