Saturday, May 31, 2014

Book Review: Room For You

Room For You

I just finished reading Room For You by Beth Ehemann.  This was the novelist's first book and I enjoyed it.  I will definitely be reading the sequel Room For More.  It was a light, easy read which is exactly what I needed in my life right now.  You knew pretty much what was going to happen and how it was going to end but you enjoyed being caught up in the story anyway.  It was a quaint little love story that made you smile.

The Fault in Our Stars

I am now going to start The Fault in our Stars by John Green, at the recommendation of my friend Amy over at Amy's Cooking Adventures.  I will be back to let you know what I think.  We are opening the pool today so I am hoping for nice sunny weather this week to enable me to lie on my floatie in the water with my book.

What's Going On This Week and the Weekly Menu

Frank went flying this morning to finish up some paperwork needed on the plane.  When he got home we opened up the pool before heading to Mass.  We are invited to the Benda's for dinner this evening.

Tomorrow I hope to get some more yard work done.  My sister has volunteered to come stay with Mom in the evening but we will see how the day progresses.  It might just be a hot dog night.

Monday I need to meet with my Mom's doctor and get some paperwork completed.

Tuesday I go in for my CAT Scan in the morning so I won't be able to help with the backpack program.

Wednesday I will get into the food pantry and get some shopping done to stock the freezer and shelves.

Thursday is Mom's evaluation at the Residential home and then we have our last choir rehearsal of the season.  We break during the summer, returning to choir in September.

Friday I am going to try for the Linguine in Clam Sauce yet again!!

This is my Weekly Menu.  Please stop by each day for photos and recipes and join us at Menu Plan Monday to share your menus and ideas.

Dinner at friend's house

Grilled Hot Dogs/Polish Sausages
Potato Chips

Meatless Monday

Try it Tuesday

Beef Pot Pie

Steamed Rice


Friday, May 30, 2014

I am Freaking Out this Friday

I blinked my eyes and my life changed overnight.  Last week I was going along with everything the same as it has always been and today everything is up in the air and subject to change.

I have gotten to the point in my care giving journey where I need even more respite than I am currently getting.  It is no longer enough for me to have a caregiver for 6 hrs each day and for Mom to be gone a few days each month.  I am tired, impatient and resentful.  Mom no longer recognizes any home as where she lives and goes on for hours each and every day about how she needs to "get home" before "they" worry about her.  She no longer wants to go out anywhere and sleeps more hours each day then she is awake which prevents me from being able to leave the house at all.

Several months ago I started investigating different options that we had available to us.  The first residential home I checked out was called East Harbor and is part of the Presbyterian Villages.  It was a wonderful place....clean, well staffed, the residents all appeared bright and animated, there are resident pets on site, there is an enclosed courtyard where residents are able to go outside should they want, there are activities scheduled throughout the day, the rooms are private and furnished by the residents and their families....pricing starts at $5200 per month.  Needless to say that price tag was a big concern.

Since then I have been to four other facilities in the area, one was nice, one was okay and one was a no go....they range in price from $4500-$3700.  The problem is every time I walk into a facility, I end up comparing it to East Harbor....and there is no comparison.

I have decided to take Mom in for an evaluation to see what level of care would be needed for her and be told what the exact cost would be for Mom to live there.  In the meanwhile we need to contact VA and find what benefits, if any, Mom might be entitled to from Dad's stint in the Army. We also need to look at what she currently has coming in each year and what we have in savings and investments.  I also need to get her most recent medical records and have her doctor complete some paperwork.  After all of this is complete we will be having a family meeting and making a decision.

I am not lying to myself and saying that Mom will be better off but I am being honest with myself and recognizing that I am no longer able to be the care giver that Mom deserves.  I am ready to go back to being her daughter again.

On a different front, I went to the doctor about this swollen lymph node in my neck.  She did a blood draw immediately and let me know that there is no infection....this sounds like good news...but it is not.  That means that there is no easy answer as to why my lymph nodes are enlarged so now I am scheduled for a CAT scan on Tuesday and will have to wait at least 4 days after that for the results.

Stress makes me sleepy and I am sitting here fighting to keep my eyes open so I think I will leave Mom in Frank's care and crawl into bed with my book for awhile.

It's Nothing.....

Five Minute Friday is our place to take 5 minutes and just write about what is on our mind.  Our host, Lisa Jo, gives us a prompt to get us started.  We set a timer for 5 minutes and we just write.

Today's prompt is NOTHING.


It is nothing, these are the words I am hoping to hear today.  Yesterday morning I was brushing my teeth when I noticed that I had a huge lump on the side of my neck.  There was no pain and I had not hurt myself. I called the doc and made an appointment for this morning. Since then I have had lots of different people look at it at tell me it is a lymph node that is swollen.

I would be lying if I said that this is not worrisome to me.  I am anxious to go to the doctor so that she can assure me that it is nothing.  My friend, Lou, who is a nurse and has worked oncology for a great part of her career told me that it is probably because I have just gotten over being sick.  I have never had anything like this before.  I am determined that I am not going to panic though because I am sure the doctor is going to tell me it is nothing....and if it is something there is nothing that worrying will do to help.


Thursday, May 29, 2014

Sheesh it's only Shish Kabob

Today we are having Beef Kabobs for dinner.  I was at the market the other day and they had lovely kabobs in the butcher case but at a not so lovely price.  It was like really?? For a little bit of meat and a few veggies? Come on!!!

But they did look delicious so I put them on the menu for this week but, in the interest of saving money and knowing how my meat was raised, I made my own.

I pulled 2 sirloin steaks from the freezer last and cut them into chunks this morning.

Grabbed stuff from my fridge and pantry to make a marinade.

I put it all into a zip closed bag and put it in the refrigerator to marinate during the day.

When it was time for dinner I skewered the beef along with the vegetables to make the kebobs.

Grill over med high heat for 7-10 minutes on each side until veggies are tender and beef is to your desired temperature.

Beef Kabobs
Sirloin Steak (about 1/4 lb per person), cut into 1 1/2-2" chunks
1/3 c. soy sauce
1/4 cup oil
juice from 1/2 lemon
1/4 c. worcestershire sauce
1 T. sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lg. onion, chunked
lg. pkg whole mushrooms
1 large zucchini, halved and chunked
3 small yellow squash, chunked
salt and pepper to taste

Place steak into a seal-able plastic bag, mix soy sauce, oil, lemon juice, worcestershire sauce, sugar and garlic and pour over steak.  Refrigerate for at least 5 hrs..

Thread marinated steak alternating with vegetables on  a skewer.  Season with salt and pepper.  Grill over medium high heat for 7-10 minutes per side until vegetables are tender and the steak is done to your liking.  Print Recipe

These are much less expensive than store bought Kebabs and I am happy to share them on Thrifty Thursday.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

It is no SMALL thing....

Today is, a wonderful idea developed by my friend, Lisa over at My Sweet Peanut.  You can learn all about it here.

Today's prompt is SMALL.

Being a caregiver is no small thing.  In fact, it is a huge, overwhelming, all encompassing and life draining thing.  And, at least for me, this is not because of any big thing it is the conglomeration of many, many small things.

  • It is answering the same question repeatedly, every few seconds, sometimes before you even get the answer out of your mouth.
  • It is not knowing if you should argue with her and prove her wrong when she is upset and angry that no one ever tells her anything or if you should just apologize and listen quietly as she rants at you for being so uncaring.
  • It is arguing with your siblings about whether it is best for Mom to stay home and be passed around so that I get respite or if she would be better off placed in a facility.
  • It is the constant worry about how we will afford a facility for mom if/when the time comes.
  • It is the lack of privacy and the lack of freedom that comes with the territory. The inability to even have an adult conversation in her presence without her interrupting with questions and then repeating those questions when you try to resume the conversation because she can't remember who you said you were talking about or why you said what you said or even whether you were speaking to her and not to each other.
  • It is the constant anger you feel....
    • at those who you don't believe are pulling their weight
    • at those who don't understand because they haven't lived it
    • at not being able to make any plans until you make sure that there are arrangements made
    • at losing your spontaneity
    • at feeling like a prisoner in your own home
    • at yourself, for feeling angry all the time
    • at the person for whom you are caring
  • It is not being able to have your doors open to let the fresh air in 
  • It is having the tv blaring game shows for hours upon hours each day
  • It is having to leave functions early because she wants to go home
  • It is having to fight with her to get up and get ready because you have an appointment that you need to make.
  • It is feeling that if you express yourself (as I have here) that you are a whiny crybaby who feels sorry for herself when you know that there are so many others who have it sooooo much worse.
So those are some of the small things that add up to this HUGE thing that has become my life.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Chicken Update!!

I figured I should give you an update on these cute little cuddly chicks
 that arrived on  April 22nd and were so adorable.

Only 5 short weeks ago.
Don't you just want to pick them up and hold them close??

Well, feel free to have at it.
But just fair warning, they are stinky and hot!!
When you hold one you feel like you are holding a firebomb.
If you look closely you can see a couple of laying hens mixed in the group.

Their entire existence is just eating and pooping.
I can leave the door open to the yard so they can free range.
But I have to take the food out into the acreage also or they won't leave.
When I take the food out they will leave the yard, waddle over to the food , sit down and eat.
There is no ranging or foraging of food with the meat chickens.
It has been bred out of them through the years.

My laying hens, on the other hand, wait at the gate each morning to be let out.
They go in and out of their yard at will and love to go into the field looking for bugs.
This is Scarlet, enjoying a walk.

And this beauty is Puff.
Puff knows her name and comes when called.
But she has never laid me a single egg and she was one of the originals!!
You would think in the past 8 yrs she would have laid at least one! 

Martha, another one of the originals, is my favorite.
I am her favorite too and she often comes up to me and wants to be held and scratched.

Rachel thought a dust bath sounded good today.

And then there is Stella.
Stella always makes me laugh, she is so silly looking.
The other 2 hens were off exploring in the field.
Sometimes they are camera shy....LOL

I am linking up with Wednesday Whatsits where a group of us share what is going on with our lives currently. Stop by and check it out.

WW Square 250

If I had only known......

I am going to be 56 this year...that means that even if I live to be as old as my parents, my life is more than half over.   This doesn't upset or scare just astounds me.  When I was a kid I thought 30 was old and then when I turned 30, I thought 50 was that I am in my 50's I am thinking that 70 is old and then I remember Pops and Mom in their 70's and the things we would do and the fun we would have.  When Pop's was in his 70's he tore apart and remodeled my kitchen all by himself! Heck, when he was 90 he was busting out cement in his yard with a sledgehammer!!!  My brother, Larry, is in his 70's and still rides his Harley from CA to MI each year!  So, I guess 70's is not really old age.

But 56 is old enough to have learned a few things and I thought I would share those things with you on this List it Tuesday.

I wish I had known:
  • How quickly my kids were going to grow up.  I wish I had spent less time admonishing them and more time cuddling them.  I wish I would have relaxed and enjoyed them more because they grew up despite me.
  • Not to sweat the small stuff and to recognize that most things are the small stuff.  If it is not going to affect your life in the next month, day or year then just breathe through it and know that this too shall pass.
  • Not to worry about "what if's"....Today has enough worry of it's own without borrowing trouble.
  • Not to try that first cigarette....
  • That God puts people into your life to fulfill a need and puts you into other's lives to help them during certain times.  These relationships are very important for the duration of the need but they are not friendships that you need mourn when their usefulness has just keep the memories and allow yourselves to drift apart.
  • That God puts others in your life as permanent fixtures and those are the relationships that you need to nurture and have grow along with you and the changes that occur in everyone's lives.  You know who these people are because you cannot imagine a life without them a part of it.
  • That other's don't have to agree with me or have the same outlook on life.  This is a big world filled with diversity, how can some of that diversity not creep into our most intimate and close relationships.
  • If it is good enough for your family it is good enough......Never worry about inviting someone into your home or to offer them a seat at your supper table.  If your home is clean enough and your meals are good enough for your family they should be good enough for friends and strangers.  If they are not...then start prioritizing because your family's happiness and welfare should be much more important than anyone else's.
  • To begin each morning in praise to God for all the blessings you have.  When you start the day counting your blessings it overflows into the rest of your day and your family's day.
  • To never miss an opportunity to offer a smile or a hug to each person you encounter during the day.  I once was pulling a plastic produce bag off the roll in the grocery store and a woman was standing behind me waiting for her turn.  I turned and handed her the bag and she exclaimed "Oh my gosh, thank you, that is the nicest thing anyone has done for me today!"  That was many, many years ago but it had a profound affect on me....many people do not have friends and family that shower them with kindnesses on a daily basis...a simple smile or thoughtful act on your part may be the nicest thing that happens to them today!!
  • To end each evening thanking God for all the good things that happened to you this day, of course we turn to Him with our needs and petitions but I always try to end my day with gratitude and acknowledgment of the good things I helps me sleep better.
I hope each and everyone of you has a glorious day.  Please drop a note and share what you wish you had only known......

Monday, May 26, 2014

Summertime and the Living is Easy

I love easy, simple recipes that can be made ahead of time and thrown into the refrigerator to be enjoyed later on, especially in the summertime.

In the winter I like simple recipes that can be thrown into the crockpot to be enjoyed later on, unless it is a casserole that was thrown into the refrigerator to be thrown into the oven.

Of course, during the summer you can always just throw something on the grill.  If you feel energetic you can throw together a marinade or a rub.  Then while dinner is waiting to be finished you can go out and throw a ball with the kids or throw some weeds out of your garden or throw a floatie in the pool and chill out.  Just don't throw the baby out with the bath there is a strange phrase for you!!!

Okay, Okay...No more throwing accept to tell you how to throw together this easy peasy macaroni salad to enjoy with whatever you throw on the grill...we threw on Ham Steaks and Pineapple Slices.  You can also make this a main dish salad by throwing in some tuna or shrimp which is how my Mom used to make it.

I'm sorry....sometimes my mind just grabs onto something and get's carried away.  Just thought I would throw that out there....ok, ok....I'm really, truly sorry this time.  I just slapped myself upside the head so hopefully that knocked some sense into me.

This meal was originally scheduled for Wednesday but Frank's cousin, John and his son, Jeff came by to do some target practice so I switched up my Weekly Menu so I would have enough food for everyone.  We will do Meatless Wednesday this week instead of Meatless Monday.

Macaroni Salad

1 lb. macaroni noodles, cooked per package directions
1/2 small onion, finely diced
2 stalks celery, finely diced
8 oz. cheese cut into crumbles or shredded
1 c. miracle whip
2 T. sweet relish
1 t. white vinegar
1 t. yellow mustard
salt and pepper to taste

Place noodles, onion, celery and cheese in a large bowl and toss to combine.  Whisk together the remaining ingredients in a small bowl, pour over macaroni mixture and mix well.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Print Recipe

A Moment of Thanks.

I just wanted to take one moment out of my morning to thank all of our troops in whichever branch they choose to serve, we owe you for our happiness and our freedom.

I also want to take a moment of silence and prayer for all of those that so bravely and gallantly gave their very lives protecting us and this great country in which we live.

I have spoken before about those I love who have served and are serving to keep us safe and free. You can learn who they are here, but I want to take another moment to thank my son, Chuck Moore and Kyle Fuller for their service in the Navy, my brother in law, Dan Klik, for his service in the Air National Guard, my surrogate nephew, Christopher Lents, for his service in the Army and my friend, Joe Tye, for his service in the Air Force.  May God bless and keep you all safe.

Secret Recipe Club-Pasta in Spinach Cream Sauce

I am so excited to tell you all about a new club that I joined.

The Secret Recipe Club

This is a very cool site and a great club that I have been wanting to join ever since I started blogging.  I found it through my friend, Amy at Amy's Cooking Adventures., who was also my main inspiration and help when I decided to start my blog.  One of the requirements is that you have at least one hundred recipes on your blog.  Once you meet that requirement you are able to get on the list to join and, if you are like me, wait impatiently for there to be an opening in the membership.

Each month we are given a member's blog to peruse and find a recipe that you would like to try.  The members do not know who has been assigned to them, hence the secret part.  You have a month to find a recipe and make it.  On an assigned Reveal Date you post about the recipe you made and how it turned out for you.  This is the date that you also find out who got your blog, what they decided to create and how it turned out for them.  How much fun is that!!!  I get giddy over these things!!

For this month's reveal I was assigned to Enriching Your Kid!  This is an interesting blog written by Shirley, a clinical psychologist who decided to stay home when she had children.  This is a decision that I admire.  Not everyone is able to, financially and/or emotionally, stay home to raise their children but I believe that it is a good choice for those who are able.

There is a huge section on baby foods that I am very excited about because we are having a grandchild in September!!!  My babies are all adults now and I am very excited about having a grandbaby.  I can't wait to try some of the healthy and delicious sounding recipes that this site has just for babies!!

The other neat thing about Enriching Your Kid is that Shirley appears to be from India and her recipes seem very exotic to me.  I had so much fun perusing them all trying to choose which recipe I wished to make.

I finally decided on Pasta in Spinach Cream Sauce.  This actually gave me an opportunity to try two of Shirley's recipes because the Enriched Spinach Puree was needed to make the Spinach Cream Sauce.  This is my first blog post for SRC so I am not sure if I am breaking the rules by doing so, but I am including both recipes here today for you to try.

I made the spinach puree first.  It called for a few items that I could not find so I did without some of them and substituted for others.  I could not find dried fenugreek leaves, so I omitted them. I also substituted 1 garlic clove, minced and 1 t. minced ginger for the 2 t. ginger/garlic paste called for in the recipe. The last change I made was to use cream instead of evaporated milk.  I needed cream for the Pasta recipe and saw no reason to open a can of evaporated milk for the small amount needed in the Puree.  This made much more than I needed for the Pasta in Spinach Cream Sauce but I read through Shirley's comments and responses and learned that it can be frozen for future use.  This is good because I will be using it in the future.

Enriched Spinach Puree
adapted from Enriching Your Kids

1 T. olive oil
5 oz. organic baby spinach
1 med. onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 t. ginger paste
1 tomato, chopped
1 T. half and half 
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil over med high heat in large saute pan.  Add onion, garlic and ginger, saute until translucent and fragrant.  Add tomato and continue cooking, scraping up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan.  Add spinach and cook until wilted and tender. Season with salt and pepper.  Place contents of pan into a food processor along with the half and half and puree until smooth.  Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.  

I made the Pasta in Spinach Cream Sauce with some minor changes, adapting the ingredients to make enough to feed five adults.  It is a perfect Meatless Monday meal.  Thanks Shirley!!

We enjoyed this meal very much.
I mentioned that if I made it again I might leave out the tomato sauce to keep that vibrant green color, add a little more garlic and maybe some crushed red pepper to add a little bit of  a kick since I have no little ones that I'm  feeding.
My husband said he thought it was perfect as is and reached for a second helping.

Pasta in Spinach Cream Sauce
adapted from Enriching Your Kids

2 c. pasta (I used a mixture of elbow macaroni and small shells), cooked per package directions
1 T. olive oil1/4 c. half and half
1 small onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c. Enriched Spinach Puree
1/4 c. Tomato Sauce
1 t. dried oregano
1 t. dried basil
salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese to taste

Saute onions and garlic in olive oil over med high heat until translucent and fragrant.  Add the cream, spinach puree, tomato sauce and seasonings cook until slightly thickened.  Add the pasta and toss until coated thin with a little of the pasta cooking water if needed.  Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and enjoy.

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