Tag Archives: Lisa Dahl Restaurants

Recipe for Life (Sedona Part 3 2013) Updated 2014

I wrote this last Christmas. Since I have writers block I decided to post this again tonight.

Subject: Recipe for life from SusanRecipe for Life… Our 2013 Christmas Dinner with Chef Lisa Dahl

After my beloved mother passed away, I found this poem tucked safely away in her drawer:
“A Recipe for Life”
2 heaping cups of patience
1 heart full of love
2 handfuls of generosity
1 headful of understanding
A dash of humor
Sprinkle generously with kindness
and plenty of faith
Mix well
Spread over a period of a life time
Serve to everyone you meet.
Author unknown
“Twas the Night before Christmas”, I passionately wrote about meeting the chef/owner Lisa (earlier than expected) at her at Dahl & Deluca restaurant in Sedona, AZ. I had surprised Darrell for an early Christmas Eve dinner. As planned last week, we were expecting to meet her during our Christmas dinner at her Cucina Rustica restaurant. I learned while making the original reservations that we have the loss of our only children/sons in common, both named Justin. As I mentioned yesterday, I was taken aback when she told me that she was going to open up a 4th restaurant in Sedona called “Mariposa” which means “butterfly” in Spanish. My baby Justin loved the color turquoise and his favorite (and the hardest) stroke in swimming was the butterfly.
As we all know, getting through the holidays was going to be a struggle including, getting past this first “Christmas Day” without Justin; which is why we could not follow our traditional schedule as we once knew it. It would just be too painful without him by our side. So, instead we had to change plans completely, and that meant being away from our family and friends whom we love so dear. I know that our pain is felt outside of our walls and our hearts. We know this ripple stretches across the waterways. It is unimaginable and hits the core of so many of our friends, Justin’s friends and those that he/we have not even met. Thanks go out to those who are walking by our sides.
I started out the morning by doing water aerobics. As I was moving in the water, I felt a bit a calm and peace come over me. Later, we went to get massages at a spa called “Eforea. Unbeknown to me, as we were checking in, I noticed that the spa logo was a turquoise butterfly. This is no joke!! Turquoise balls also graced the walls, and a lone raised embroidered turquoise butterfly decorated the robes and the signage throughout the space. The treatments were heavenly.

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As we were driving back, I received a call from Lisa’s Assistant asking us if we had time, to go visit the resting place of Lisa’s son Justin. They all felt that we would find some peace and serenity there; which we did. The views were breathtaking. We looked out at the vistas which included sky high red-rock Mountains and desert landscape. A handsome picture of Justin graced his tombstone. As I read the inscription about this fine young Good Samaritan, my heart got heavy. We were silent as we honored him.
Later, upon arriving at Cucina Rustica, we were warmly greeted by the Host Ron who donned a festive red jacket. Ron is Lisa’s brother. He handed me a gift and an envelope and said that Lisa would be arriving soon, but he wanted to get us situated at our reserved table. We walked into this beautiful circular room which gave you the instant impression that you were travelling back in time through the old world rustic Italy. You could tell that Ron was visibly emotional as he could barely get the words out of his mouth as he said: “Welcome to our home, you are family; this is our “Justino Room.” You know what I did from there. I could barely breathe as he pulled the seat out for me to sit.
He then hands me an envelope. To our surprise, it was a gift card from our dear friends Merle, Jeff and Taylor. I was lost for words. We also learned later that my brother Greg and sister-in-law Delana send a gift card too. Then, Ron gives me yet another package. I opened it up and it was from our HW Friends Nasreen and Helen. It was a musical Santa that played tunes with an electrical guitar. Shortly after opening the gift, the one- man band sitting adjacent to our table began to play our wedding song “Pachelbel Canon” on the electrical guitar. Oh Lord, you know I tried fighting back the tears. With all of the noise going on around us, I don’t think that Darrell even heard it. But, I sure did. I listened without saying a word.


Then, the Chef of all Chefs’ Lisa Dahl came over to our table to make sure that we were ok. She hands me a copy of her book “ The Elixir of Life Cookbook”.

susanlisa copy

Her dedication page has a bird in flight with the words: “To Justin, until we dance again” The page reminded me of my son Justin’s last masterpiece that he created:” The Last words of the bird and the fish.” You know, my Justin and l also loved dancing in our kitchen, using the refrigerator as our mirror. I can’t wait to dance with my baby again…
In brief, Lisa’s Introduction in her book says: “I believe that all people have a natural ability to create beauty and pleasure, and that if we simply get out of our own way and follow our divine guidance, we will encounter our inner creativity as chefs, artists, musicians, or whatever medium excites us. My beloved son Justin is my inspiration. Justin is no longer living on the physical plane but is alive in another realm. I know this, because when I need him, I feel his all-knowing presence. He was, when he was alive, an earth angel. He loved to dance, like his mother, he adored music. Justin sends me forza (strength in Italian) every day because I need a daily dose. I will be Justin’s mom forever and will try to make him proud until the day we meet again.”
Inside, she wrote the following:
Dear Susan & Darrell,
May this book be a keepsake of our imminent friendship that has connected us beyond… “Our Justin’s” have surely brought us together. No one knows such sorrow as us, but their calling is out of our control. They want us to remain joyful in honor of them.
Merry Christmas 2013 and Blessings from Sedona,
Chef Linda Dahl
For those that know me, you know that my place in the kitchen and the grocery stores has been pretty much at a standstill since Justin left. I was known as Chef Susan or “Sarah Rawls” as some of my friends use to call me, cooking three hearty meals a day for my family was the norm. I also have a collection of about 200 cookbooks that have not been open either nor my oven turned on in 10 months. I guess I needed this inspiration.
Subsequently, we ordered our meal. Darrell had “ Filletto Justino ( Filet Mignon) no doubt. I had the organic roasted turkey and garnet yam soup.. It was delectable. Lisa came back to sit down and she begins to describes her son Justin to me. I grabbed her hand because she was also describing the main character traits of my Justin.
She said: ” Justin was a kind exceptional young being who did not want to cause trouble, who wanted to help others and keep the peace. I also knew from his early years that he had gifts, gave the best hugs, and was considerate, helpful and was not like most kids his age. He stood out. I also believe that he was taken early to set the example for others who still live on. He will continue to touch lives even though his physical presence on this earth as we know is gone. Both of our Justin’s gave their lives for in order to bring out the good in others. They were peacekeepers.” Need I say any more?

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Since I was also curious to learn more about her new restaurant which is under construction called “Mariposa” I asked her more about it. She said that it will be an upscale Argentinian restaurant. Then, I asked her what the planned décor was. She began searching for a picture on her cell phone. She then shows us a photo of a shoe that she took a picture of in Las Vegas. The main colors in the shoe are turquoise, silver with a hint of red” She smiles at me and says. “It will have the same colors as the Peruvian Butterfly, with turquoise being the prominent color!”


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The gift that Lisa gave me tonight during our “Christmas Dinner” was a new “Recipe for Life” that I need to try soon. In honor of my beautiful son Justin, I need to be joyful, creative, skillful, observant, and helpful. He would want me to be. I will sure try. As we got ready to leave, Lisa instructs the musician to play “Tears from Heaven” We held hands and listened, and we did not cry. Instead we had to smile for our Justin’s.

Tears In Heaven

“Tears In Heaven”

Would you know my name
If I saw you in heaven?
Would it be the same
If I saw you in heaven?

I must be strong
And carry on,
‘Cause I know I don’t belong
Here in heaven.

Would you hold my hand
If I saw you in heaven?
Would you help me stand
If I saw you in heaven?

I’ll find my way
Through night and day,
‘Cause I know I just can’t stay
Here in heaven.

Time can bring you down,
Time can bend your knees.
Time can break your heart,
Have you begging please, begging please.

Beyond the door,
There’s peace I’m sure,
And I know there’ll be no more
Tears in heaven.

Would you know my name
If I saw you in heaven?
Would it be the same
If I saw you in heaven?

I must be strong
And carry on,
‘Cause I know I don’t belong
Here in heaven.
Thank you to our secret Santa’s: Merle, Taylor, Jeff, Delana, Greg, Noreen and Thierry. Thank you, Rhonda (our travelling buddy) who also got the opportunity to share some of these incredible events with us.
Justin followed his grandmother’s Recipe for life and he was baked well through perfection.
For the moment I can honestly say that yesterday was a good day.

I can’t make this stuff up….

Love you Justin.



We went back to Eforea, we ate at Cucina Rustica in the Justino Room and we celebrated Justin the best way we could.  Darrell said hey they are playing your song again. As I listened the electric guitar was  playing our wedding song “Pachelbel Canon” on the electrical guitar AGAIN.. The tears flowed down my face.  I told Darrell: Do you remember me wanting to have a baby soon after we got married?  He cried and said yes.. “I said we brought Justin into this world and this is  one of are greatest gifts ever”.  Justin was with us as he will always be..

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I wrote this in December 2013 and wanted to repost for 2014…

‘Twas the night before Christmas, I had to get out of the house
Because for months now not a creature was stirring, and now I’d take even a mouse

I could not hang any stockings up or put up a tree
Because, my baby Justin was not going to be there with me…
We had to go somewhere different to get away from the norm
And try to get through this holiday and just weather the storm
We came to a place that means beauty, strength, bliss and serenity
And I guess what happened tonight … is the only place we were supposed to be.

Earlier today, I could not find any words and was just hoping that the time would just go by quickly. I have had distractions, but my thoughts
and yearning for Justin are not far from my heart. I dread this new life that we have been given, and most days I don’t know what to do. But, I’m also trying to understand the
meaning behind why our angel Justin was selected to transition.
So far, I have somewhat managed to block the holiday spirit out with blinders on and earplugs in to protect my broken heart and feelings. I
still ask why our Justin was afflicted, his life cut short and why are we childless having to cope and carry on without him???
I know we are not alone, and that there as so many people who have suffered a child loss or the loss of a loved one. God Bless you all. Last week I made Christmas
dinner reservations at an Italian restaurant that I was guided to by faith. I found out that the owner Lisa lost her only
son tragically a few years ago. To my surprise, I also found out that her son’s name was Justin, and he was creative
and also a peace maker- just like mine. Unfortunately, he tragically died while helping someone else out. He like Justin
was a Good Samaritan and wanted peace.
Today, I decided to take Darrell out for an early dinner to one of Lisa’s other restaurants. Upon arriving, I asked the waiter was Lisa
coming there tonight, and he was not sure, but told us if she did come in, he would sure introduce us. As we were
leaving, this beautiful lady comes up to us and introduced herself as Lisa the
Owner. She did not know that we were the couple she had heard about last week. When I told her, she just hugged me and cried. She then told a few of the adjacent patrons
to come listen to the story about the phone call I made last week while looking
for a place to eat on Christmas day. I then reiterated the story about her other restaurant’s homepage having
turquoise (my sons favorite color) and silver ornaments, a note about honoring and remembering those who have passed on before us, and for peace on earth. I said that introduction was enough for
me. I told her I was floored when I learned of the unnatural demise of her only son. Furthermore, I was over the
top, trying to find some reasoning out all of all these coincidences.
For a few minutes, we just all hugged, cried and shared a few stories about our beloved young men.
I was holding this beautiful cell phone case that was designed by Michael, my favorite 7th grader who has similar passions of swimming and design like Justin. It depicts a turquoise butterfly with “World Peace for Justin Carr”.


When they noticed my cell phone case. Justin loved turquoise and that his favorite stroke in swimming was the butterfly.


Lisa then
grabs my hand tighter and says “I am building a new restaurant right up the street that will open in a few months; the name is “Mariposa”, which means
Butterfly in Spanish!” I was speechless, and of course I was done for the evening!! She then proceeded to tell me, that after she lost her only son
Justin, in time she was able to move forward and have him live through her. She then shared a poem that she
found that he wrote. One of the lines said “Love is the solution, we reap what we sow.” We embraced and then we had
to leave. It was too much. Our motherly eyes then met again and we agreed that we would catch up much more when we dine
at her main restaurant tomorrow for dinner…
Darrell always said “There is nothing like a picture!” Thank God we have thousands of memories of our precious son. I will dream about my
baby and know that all of the pictures that Darrell took of him will be frozen in time and every picture does tell a story. I love you Justin. I still miss
you more than words can ever say…. I found some words tonight.

‘Twas the night before Christmas I hope to have sweet dreams
about Justin, our butterfly…



Love, Mom

I can’t make this stuff up!!!

Peace be with you,



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Food For Thought (December 2013) Part 1

I wrote this last year  in 2013 and wanted to repost in 2014 because of the magical beauty in Sedona and I can’t make this stuff up…
Food For Thought  the Magic of Sedona
Christmas tradition was heavy on my mind this morning. Justin Carr Wants World Peace loved the holidays especially decorating the house, stringing the lights, wrapping the gifts and strategizing for the infamous “White Elephant Game.” It was well known that the Carr’s usually came home with the best gifts!



Months ago Darrell Carr
& I had already come to the realization that it would be just too painful to do what we usually do during the holidays and that was to celebrate with family and friends. It was always expected that prior to leaving town, we would have already disbursed the gifts to local family and friends; then on Christmas day we would either fly or drive to the North with the car or luggage packed to the hilt with gifts.

Then we were off to uncle Butch’s Burl Toler Jr. and aunt Susan Tamayo-Toler house. All the cousins would be dressed up in festive gear. Justin was so proud to be taller than all of his older cousins.. There would be appetizers, homemade eggnog, gumbo and then a table full of treats. Then, the kids would get their piles of gifts and tear open the wrappings and start to play with their toys. The adults would wake up with their full stomachs from their naps and begin the games. Justin was the director in most cases and would make the announcements for each activities. It was so fun…. And now must go down into the book of memories.


Today, I decided to make reservations for a Christmas dinner at an Italian Restaurant. The hostess on the phone told me to review the menu online. When I went to the website, the image of the ornaments startled me. There was a prominent turquoise/royal blue ball. Then, I began to read the letter to the customers as noted below:

“Dear Friends,
We at Cucina Rustica give thanks to have you here with us for Christmas Eve 2013. We realize that the most important quality of life is love. Every day we are alive is a gift from God to share with our family and friends. Let us all take one moment to be grateful for everything we are so fortunate to have. We acknowledge in silence all of our loved ones, no longer living on earth, but forever in our hearts. Let us all love our neighbors and pray for peace on earth!

Lisa and everyone at Cucina Grazie mille !”



I quickly picked up the phone, called back to the restaurant and cried as I tried to make the reservation for Christmas. The Hostess said, “Are you ok? I proceeded to tell her about our loss of Justin. I said” I guess it was meant to be that we dine at a place that had such a lovely headliner about the holidays to remember the lost loved ones as well as pray for peace on earth!” I then told her that Justin wanted world peace too.

The hostess then tells me the brief story about the owner, Lisa, and her horrific loss. Evidently, Lisa lost her only child; a son name Justin. He died while being a Good Samaritan helping someone else out. I sobbed and told the woman, OMG this is too much. She said “I believe that there is a reason for everything and I believes in spiritual connections.” I told her that Lisa and I were forced to be members of a “child loss” club that we did not want to sign up for…
She told me that she can’t wait to meet us and introduce us to Lisa; she said, “ I know already that you guys will be fast friends.”

I can’t believe that I picked the best place to feed our souls on Christmas. It had the markings of Justin all over it; just a thought.
****Set your clock and listen to this radio show coming up on Sunday, December 22, 2013 where we talk about Justin Carr World-Peace

I guess our angel will continue to watch over us. News Host Tammy Trujillo talked to us on the Angel network. The airdate of the show is Sunday December 22nd at 6 a.m. and 10p.m. The link is AM830KLAA.COM , http://am830klaa.com, or you can go onto anglesradio.com click on Community Cares.

I can’t make this stuff up!! look at the image below from the restaurant. It’s real. There are not enough words to describe how I feel. Just pray for us and we will pray for you and peace on earth as well. Oh Justin… My Angel Baby..

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