Archive for Eating Posts


Sometimes What Happens in Vegas Need Not Stay in Vegas


MA & Alison caught in rain under palm tree

MA & Alison trying to get out of rain under palm tree, Vegas, Oct 2015

“The emotional bond between Las Vegas and its customers was freedom…to do things, see things, eat things, wear things, feel things. In short, the freedom to be someone we couldn’t be at home. And freedom from whatever we wanted to leave behind in our daily lives.”

– R&R Partners, the ad agency responsible for Las Vegas’s advertising campaign, “What Happens Here, Stays Here”

Okay, I hope I’m not going to get in trouble with my Vegas travel buddy for revealing TMI about our recent trip to Vegas – but we had an awful lot of good clean fun, so I think I’m safe 🙂

Vegas is a funny place: I think you either love it or hate it. Some people visit time and time again, whereas others go once just to see what all the fuss is about and then never return.

My friend, Alison, and I love it – which comes as a bit of a surprise to both of us because it is loud, expensive, over-the-top man-made/synthetic and neither of us gamble or party (well, okay, I do still party on the odd occasion but strangely enough, I never have in Vegas).

But we do both like to shop (Alison far more than I), walk, eat and get all dressed up and go to a show, so that’s exactly what we did (again) on our recent trip.

love sign on Mirage hotel

We stayed at the Mirage Hotel, partly because it was fairly reasonably priced, partly because it’s close to the Fashion Show Mall, partly because it has the theatre where Cirque du Soleil’s Love is staged (so not far to walk in high heels) and partly because…well, I’ll get to the fourth reason in a moment.

MA & Alison outside Love theatre

Alison & MA at Love show

If you haven’t seen the Cirque show, Love, I highly recommend it. It’s set to Beatle’s music and is brilliant. I could watch that damn show five nights in a row and probably not get sick of it.

Shopping-wise, the deal of the trip for me was a pair of uber-cool Steve Madden shoes…for $35! The shopping itself, however, wore me right out.

MA exhausted after shopping in Vegas

By our third night in Vegas, we were both so flippin’ exhausted that we actually stayed the entire evening in our hotel room, chatting, watching TV, drinking wine and scarfing down popcorn and chips for dinner. Since I’m obviously in full-disclosure mode, I may as well confess that it was, in fact, the fish tank channel we were watching.

Yes, that’s right: the fish channel. It’s rather like the log-burning channel (they had that, too) but the fish channel (ONLY at the Mirage) is live video footage (we think) of the fish and coral in the giant tank that’s behind the reception desk. Let’s just say that nothing overly fast or exciting happens on the fish tank channel – but the accompanying classical music is rather soothing.

Then, on our last night, we went for dinner at the Italian restaurant, Rao’s, in Caesar’s Palace. Their mammoth meatballs are an absolute must, as is the Caesar salad and ravioli purses. Add in a basket-full of bread, a couple of salt-rimmed Caesar’s and a slice of cheesecake and after that, we pretty much waddled over to the Bellagio to watch the fountain show.

MA at Bellagio fountains Vegas Oct 2015

Watching the waters dance in front of the Bellagio Hotel is another favourite tradition of ours. We arrived just in time to catch the show set to Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On. But we forgot to do our Ocean’s Eleven thing, so stayed for a second song which was Time to Say Goodbye by Andre Bocelli – after which, Alison and I re-enacted the end of the Ocean’s Eleven movie where she slips off in one direction and I go off in the other. This cracks us up every time.

At any rate, we had a fun few days. My one ear is still plugged and Alison’s leg is still sore (possibly a shopping-related injury but who am I to say) but hey, a trip to Vegas wouldn’t be complete without a few unexplainable ailments.

No, our Vegas experience wasn’t quite the same as The Hangover movie but perhaps that’s a good thing.

Which brings me back to the What Happens Here, Stays Here ad campaign. For there is far more to my love of Vegas than merely what I do there – or who I am there.

In 2003, the Las Vegas Tourism Department and the ad agency, R&R Partners, came up with the idea for their highly successful ad campaign, What Happens Here, Stays Here. Here is a bit of background about the campaign:

“The emotional bond between Las Vegas and its customers was freedom. Freedom on two levels. Freedom to do things, see things, eat things, wear things, feel things. In short, the freedom to be someone we couldn’t be at home. And freedom from whatever we wanted to leave behind in our daily lives. Just thinking about Vegas made the bad stuff go away.

At that point the strategy became clear. Speak to that need. Make an indelible connection between Las Vegas and the freedom we all crave. The result was a decade of ads that create situations around missing information. This allows viewers to fill in the blanks and begin imagining their own Vegas adventures.”

So although what happens in Vegas is supposed to stay in Vegas, since I have already broken this rule with the fish channel confession, I may as well share with you a story from a previous trip to Vegas…and you can take from this what you choose.

Just over fifteen years ago, my husband, John, and I went to check-in at the Mirage Hotel – in front of the huge fish tank – but our credit card got declined because the rental car agency had put a hold on additional funds. A quick call to the credit card company sorted that out and away we went.

And let’s just say we had an awesome time at the old Mirage 🙂

Ten days later, he was gone. If you’ve read my book, A Widow’s Awakening, you may recall the passage where I went to see him at the funeral home.

He was lying on a stainless steel gurney, covered in a white sheet, and at the top of his chest I could see part of the incision from his heart removal surgery. I debated about pulling the sheet down to take one last look at the chest of the man I loved so much.

But then I thought back to our special time in Vegas – for the Mirage would end up being the last place we made love – and decided no. I wanted to remember John’s chest as it was when he was alive and happy…not as the exit point for his beautiful heart.

So for me, I don’t go to Vegas to escape my life. I love my life now – I have no need to escape it. And because of John’s on-duty death, I have the financial freedom to do the work I wish to do and live where I want to live…and for that, I am eternally grateful.

Nor does thinking about Vegas make all the bad stuff go away. In fact, Vegas brings back what were once some pretty painful memories. But perhaps that’s partly why I love to go there so much? Having loved and lost and learned how to be happy again on my own, it has become the perfect place for me to check in with myself on the big question: am I happy?

Funny…as artificial as Vegas is, it has become my reality check.

MA with cool Vegas skyline behind and dark clouds

Perhaps it won’t come as a surprise that Alison, too, is a widow – and she and her husband also had some wonderful times together in Vegas. Her husband passed away six months after John did – and over the years our friendship has grown from sharing our journey through grief to having fun and doing some traveling.

But who’s kidding who? Vegas isn’t called Sin City for no reason. So the next time I’m there, I sure as heck hope I’m snuggled up with a sexy guy watching the old fish channel 🙂

If you are a fan (or foe) of Vegas, I’d love to hear about your experience…I think!

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is the CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and the Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. If you would like to receive Maryanne’s weekly blog, please sign up here.


published in Book Reviews, Eating, Food, Health, Self Esteem, Self Worth by Maryanne | July 31, 2015 | No Comment


Inner Hunger – Getting to the Root of Eating Disorders


Inner Hunger book cover


“Some girls learn that they must sacrifice certain aspects of themselves – their appetites, needs, feelings, and goals – in order to gain support, acceptance, attention, and love. These girls are called “people pleasers”: they try to be everything to everyone. In doing so, they lose who they are to themselves.”

– Marianne Apostolides, Inner Hunger

I recently read the book, Inner Hunger; A Young Woman’s Struggle Through Anorexia and Bulemia, by Marianne Apostolides.

What a story.

The book was published in 1998 – and given to me in 2004 by the author’s aunt (a friend of the family). Then it sat on my bookshelf for more than a decade. I’m not sure why I put off reading it for so long but when I finally got around to reading it a few weeks ago, I could barely put it down.

I honestly had no clue about the horrific inner struggle a person faces when he or she is dealing with an eating disorder. Now I have a better idea. And frankly, it sounds like a terrifying, frustrating and lonely journey – especially for a young woman just starting out on her life path.

As a teen, Apostolides found that the seemingly best way to control her thoughts, feelings and life was to control her intake of food – be that vastly limiting the intake of food (anorexia) or consuming enormous quantities of it (bulimia).

Inner Hunger is an extremely candid account of the author’s personal experience with eating disorders and the hell she went through trying to become healthy again – physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually.

For, as the title suggests, Apostolides wasn’t just dealing with an extremely unhealthy relationship with food, she was unsuccessfully trying to feed an inner hunger with an external substance – food – that could never satisfy what she was so desperately lacking in herself.

However, the book isn’t just the graphic details of her personal journey. Rather, as the back cover explains: “Inner Hunger is more than just a memoir: it is a starting point on the road to recovery. Realizing the importance of therapy and guidance in her own healing process, Apostolides includes invaluable sections giving the causes of eating disorders; different types of treatment; advice to parents, friends and educators; and a list of organizations offering information and support.”

Obviously, Apostilades is not alone in her struggle. According to The Emily Foundation (US), 1 in 5 women struggle with an eating disorder or disordered eating – and 90% of those are between the ages of 12 and 25.

Eating disorders are a significant issue that are not going away any time soon. Although I don’t have any sage advice or personal experience to share on the subject, I know an expert who does: Esther Kane, Registered Clinical Counselor and author of the excellent book, It’s Not About the Food; A Woman’s Guide to Making Peace with Food and Our Bodies.

If you know of someone who might be struggling with an eating disorder, Esther’s article, How to Help Someone with Disordered Eating, is a highly informative and helpful read.

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is the CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and the Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. If you would like to receive Maryanne’s weekly blog, sign up here.

published in Eating, Food, Inspiration, Life Balance, Recipes by Maryanne | September 3, 2014 | 4 Comments

When in Doubt, Bake


Apple Pie

 “To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.”

– Henry David Thoreau

Well, September is certainly upon us. I could practically feel the collective shift in energy yesterday as people left the (hopefully) lazy days of summer and returned back to the structure and (hopefully not) stress of work and/or school.

As such, I shall keep this blog short & sweet…literally 🙂

In honour of my dear friend, Heather, whose birthday it is today, I would like to share with you an apple pie recipe she shared with me years ago.

applescotch pie recipe

As you can see by the butterscotch stains, this is a favourite of mine. In fact, baking (and eating and sometimes even sharing) this pie has become an annual September ritual for me – especially since I now have very happy apple trees in my backyard!

close up of apples

Here’s the recipe for Applescotch Pie (by Kathleen Walsh):

5 cups sliced apples

1 cup brown sugar

¼ cup water

1 tbsp lemon juice

Combine above in big pot and cook until tender (10–20 min)

Then add the following to the pot, to thicken:

¼ cup flour

2 tbsp sugar

Once thickened, then add:

1 tsp vanilla

¾ tsp salt

3 tbsp butter

Pour into pie shell (lattice-top is best) and bake at 425°C for 40-45 minutes. Enjoy!

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening and the upcoming book, Barrier Removed; A Tough Love Guide to Achieving Your Dreams. Maryanne also writes screenplays and play scripts, including the play, Saviour. She is the CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and the Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund.