Saturday, June 30, 2012

Hello Cankles

Cankles: The area in affected female legs where the calf meets the foot in an abrupt, nontapering terminus

This is a hard post for me to do. I'm not a particularly vane person, I rarely wear makeup and I have always dressed more for my own comfort then for what others think. However that still doesn't mean I want to be photographed being so puffy. But this is Diary of a Chronie, and this is what I'm dealing with right now. Maybe someone else out there is going through the same thing, they are out there surfing the web looking for answers that aren't there just like I am.

I want to throw some key words out there. Words that maybe will help people looking for others that are going through the same things they are going through. Words like disseminated histoplasmosis, itraconazole, Crohn's Disease, Budesonide / Entocort, drug reactions, steroid myopathy, and pitting edema.

The last one is the kids favorite. They call me the play doh momma. My example of steroid induced Pitting Edema. One swollen leg.

Apply pressure

Look I'm Play Doh

That's Pitting Edema.

This is me and Mr Man last Halloween. I was Flo from Progressive and Mr Man was Mayhem from Allstate. Yes we did have the best costumes, thank you. At the time I was still recovering from histoplasmosis, but I was not on any Crohn's meds. The histo meds had actually put the Crohn's into remission and I was feeling better then I had in a long time.

And me now, also I picked this one because I looked the least puffy, and the least pissed off. :)

This is after two weeks of reduced steroids, so lots of swelling has already gone down! I stop steroids Monday. Doc said it's going to be 6-8 weeks before I begin to feel any difference or even begin to get my strength back. I have read that it's going to take months to recover.

I read the best thing for me to do is to stay as active as I can, so I don't loose anymore muscle. The more active I stay the better. So I painted this.

Isn't it cute! No I'm not having another baby, it's staged with old props from the studio. I'm hoping to sell it. I got it for Chloe's room and she loved it until I painted this.

Then she begged me to let her keep it and not sell it, and I caved and let her have it, then I got to finish the French dresser however I wanted to, and I wanted it blue, not pink. ;)

So that's what I have been doing since getting out of the hospital. Trying to stay busy and keep using my muscles. I'm tired a lot an don't have a lot left in me to find the energy left for blogging. I take the photos, but it's hard to sit down and write. It makes me sleepy, like now, so I'm off to take my potassium, eat and go to bed in 30 minutes. That's how long  before I can lay down after taking it, because then I'm crashing. :)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

In the Hospital

No cooking for me, and no good food either. I'm laid up in St Mary's Hospital in Rochester. My doctor called yesterday and asked me to come up and see him. He wasn't even taking clinic patients that day but was doing scopes, but asked me to come in at 5pm and see him at the end of the day. Seriously. He's a Mayo clinic Dr. Mayo clinic! And he still always takes that kind of time to see me.

My number one, all time most important piece off advice for anyone dealing with a chronic illness, get a great doctor. If you don't like your doctor, fire them. There is no reason what so ever for you to have to deal with a doctor that you don't like or don't trust. I have fired 4 doctors, but now I have one that calls me in person, and takes me in after hours because he wants to physically lay eyes on me to see how I look and how I am feeling. I like him, and I trust him, and that goes a long way towards going forward with my treatments, I'm not always 2nd guessing and questioning a doctor I don't think has my best interests at heart. So please, please don't be afraid to fire your doctors and find a new one, there a lot of them out there and someone is going to be a good fit for you. Don't be afraid to look for them, and it's OK to let them know up front that they are applying for a position to be your doctor, that just because you are there they don't just get the job. They have to earn it.

So today I am sitting in St Mary's waiting for a catscan of my belly to see why I'm having so much pain. They have done lots of blood tests looking for where the fever is coming from. They are also taking me off all steroids - at once. No weaning down. This scares me a little as I have always heard you can't do that, that you have to wean down gradually. They said beings I am in the hospital where they can monitor me they want to just take me off them. They want to see if I get my muscles back and they don't want to wait two weeks to be sure that I'm going to get my strength back. Also they think the steroids are just causing to many other things wrong with me, like the fact I also can't feel much of anything. Like I can't feel needles, which is good because my veins are turning to crap and they miss more times then they hit them. They can dig around in my arm all day and I can't feel a thing, but I also can't feel how hot water is, or if I have a sun burn so I have had a couple of burns over the last week.

I'm hoping to be out of here by Thursday but I'll keep you updated.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Copper Pennies

We finally made it though the pear salad. It was not our favorite. So the next one on the list was Melon salad. Another that is not our favorite. The watermelon jello jolly rancher taste is even almost to much for Chloe. I mix mine with whip cream and it hides the jolly rancher flavor somewhat.

Melon Salad

2½ cups boiling apple juice
1 package (8 serving size) or 2 packages (4 serving size each) watermelon flavor gelatin
1½ cups cold seltzer or club soda
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 cups cantaloupe and honeydew melon cubes

Stir boiling juice into gelatin in large bowl at least 2 minutes until completely dissolved. Stir in cold seltzer and lemon juice. Refrigerate about 1½ hours until thickened (spoon drawn through leaves definite impression). Stir in melon cubes. Spoon into 6-cup mold.

Refrigerate 4 hours or until firm. Unmold. Garnish as desired.

Notice the heart on the top of the jello this time. That was my other huge garage sale find. Sitting on a lonely shelf were round disks with shapes,  no sane person would know what they were. I knew. I knew they were the top of my jello mold and all I had was the tulip, and now I have the other 3 for .25 cents each. A heart, a Christmas tree, and a star. Who has these things just laying around without the jello mold and why do you keep them? I guess to sell them in garage sales to crazy jello ladies. I feel like I should have blue hair right now. :)

Seriously this is how they were setting on the shelf. What sane person knows what these are.

To just go with the flow of being all blue haired old lady like today I have a new salad recipe for you. Except that it's actually a very old recipe that doesn't get around the way it used to. It apparently used to be big in picnics and pot lucks in the 60's but sort of fizzled out for more modern dishes. We were getting sick of pasta here and I was looking for a change and found this little gem in one of my .25 cent garage sale recipe books. (Yes, I have a cookbook addiction, but I do try not to buy more then one a week)

In the cookbook simply called 'Salads' they call it Heavenly Carrots, but I like the old name better, which is 'Copper Pennies'

Copper Pennies

2 pounds carrots
1 small green bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 can (10½ ounces) tomato soup, undiluted
½ cup vegetable;e oil
1 cup granulated sugar
¾ cup white vinegar
1teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Salt, to taste

Peal carrots; cut into rounds or on the diagonal. Boil carrots in salted water just until tender-crisp. Drain. Toss carrots, green pepper, and onion into a bowl.

In a small mixing bowl, combine tomato soup, oil, sugar, vinegar, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. Mix well. Season to taste with salt. Pour sauce over vegetables. Refrigerate overnight before serving.

NOTE: This salad keeps for three to four days in the refrigerator.

It is surprisingly good. So good that Kurt did not wait for it to set overnight, he actually started in on it last night after I went to bed. Then he took a big helping of it for lunch today, so I think he liked the change up from the pastas, and this is like nothing we have ever had before.

On my health front. When you feel like poo all the time you forget to do things. Like take your temperature when you don't feel good. I didn't even think about it, until last night, and I'm running a constant low fever. That combined with the night sweats scare me, because in my mind night sweats and fevers will always be histoplasmosis. I do know it can be any type of infection that got into the gut, but I'm guessing the Dr runs a histo panel today just to be on the safe side. Then probably more bloods and one of those fun stool checks.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Thrifty Finds

Friday and Saturday are thrifty garage sale days for me. I love garage sales. I loved them when I was a stay home mom and bought most my baby clothes and baby stuff that way. I loved them as a portrait photographer because I love the worn look of aged props. I love old furniture and vintage finds. Old dishes and cookbooks, and most of all I love a good deal.

Today's deals SUCKED! Seriously, I raked in last week. Especially in the kitchen department. Where I got an entire mixing set 3 bowls (including my new fav for mixing jello, one with a handle and spout) measuring cups and spoons for $1 never opened still in the wrapper. A new round cake pan for .50 cents that also still had the paper liner stuck to it. (my round cake pan went missing so I really needed one of these) And yet another new cake pan 10x13 with a lid again just for $1. The bottoms had started to peal on all my cake pans so I had just thrown them all out and had actually bought a new one but I didn't pay very close attention and it didn't have a lid. I just like having ones that have lids to help keep things fresh. A couple of jello molds for .25 cents each, one a true jello ring mold which is exactly what I had been looking for that day - it was even on my "things to watch for at sales list". And my favorite buy last week  "Anne of Green Gables" the complete boxed set that retails for $32 on amazon for $1, Chloe has already started in on book one.

After such amazing finds last week I was all excited to go out today, but everything was baby cloths, toys, and nick nack trash. It was looking like the best deal of the day was one overly wealthy home had bought a ton of sensy oil waxs and then decided not to use them, they were selling them for .25 cents. They are only $2 new but I have 5 dogs, we use these things like water and anything smells better then dog, so I bought all they had and saved about $7 compared to buying them at walmart next time I go. That pretty much looked to be my big deal of the day.

Just about ready to give up for the day I happen to be driving down the road and see a sign for a sale I wasn't going to go to. 1st I wasn't really sure where it was and 2nd the ad didn't list any times for it, or even a day! It just said "sale today" in the paper. So I had not even written it down on my list, but when I saw the sign I stopped. Browsing around it was mostly antique type junk. Old plates, and glassware, nick nacks, stuff I call clutter crap. I'm just leaving when I notice an beat up cardboard box on the ground next to the driveway with old pans, green pans, CLUB Aluminum pans. Have I ever told you I have a thing for CLUB aluminum pans. If they had been blue my heart would have stopped. I have been trying to get someone to buy me blue club aluminum pans off ebay for the last two Christmas's and birthdays but so far it hasn't happened. I digress in my wistfulness...

So there I am gazing at these beautiful green pans laying in a box. Two mint condition sauce pans and a dutch oven all with lids $3.50. Yes you read that right, three dollars and fifty cents for all 6 pieces! Baby I don't care if you are green, momma just got herself a set of club aluminum pans. I think I did a happy dance all the way home. Tomorrow I'm putting my 15 year old nasty pealing Teflon pans into my own garage sale .25 cent box.

I started this post on Friday before I even went out to the sales, now it's Monday. It was a BAD weekend. It's still bad. The low potassium has started to cause muscle cramping and guess where it's favorite place of attack its. The long smooth muscles of the intestines. How's that for a double whammy on a Crohn's girl. So right now I was editing photos and puking into a garbage bucket. Fun. That should keep the potassium up.

I'm actually still waiting to hear back from the Doctor on the potassium levels today, my guess is low the way these cramps are. At least I'm hoping they are potassium cramps and not the Crohn's because that would mean weeks of steroids and getting worse instead of getting better. Steroids and I have done that rout before, I don't respond well to them. Everything else that happens, happens. I get moody, swell up, drop my potassium apparently, get muscle weakness, but sometimes I don't get better and I don't gain weight. The Crohn's get worse so I loose weight. One doctor diagnosed me as "Steroid non responsive" It sure doesn't keep the others from trying it over, and over though. Last time I ended up in the hospital bleeding out. Lets hope it doesn't go that way for with this one.

Going through the images on the camera to get to my pans, I found Saturday dinner. I forgot Kurt had told me to photograph it because it he thought it looked so good. He even went to the basement and got my camera and CF card off the computer. It was just roast chicken and veggies. The chicken was supposed to make leftovers for lunch wraps. Chloe eats a wrap everyday for lunch and I thought it would be nice to have some fresh roasted chicken instead of just deli meat for the week. We had one extra dinner guest and NO leftover chicken. We picked it clean. I guess if I want left overs next time I will have to make two.

Roast Chicken And Veggies

I don't have a recipe, I just throw whatever veggies in the pan. Usually potatoes, carrots and onions and toss with olive oil. I pull the skin away from the bird and butter under it, then place seasoning under there also. Garlic powder, sage, thyme, and poultry seasoning. Then I butter the skin and put more seasoning on top of that. Baked at 425 for an hour and the whole meal is done.

PS: The Doctor just called and the potassium is 4.5!!!! Woohoo!

Calling back tomorrow about the pain, maybe I'll get lucky and it will go away overnight as my body regulates itself.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Just when you think you have it all figured out

You get a curve ball.

It's been a bad Crohn's night. Lots of pain and running to the bathroom. Maybe it was one to many banana bars, or maybe it's the whole PMS thing, that always seems to set it off, but you would think with the massive amount of steroids I am taking it would block the PMS thing. I don't know, I thought it was getting better but maybe the steroids aren't working as well as we thought.

Oh yea, PMS and Roids, that should be a good one. I'm already mega bitch just from the roids, lets add hormones to the mix. My family's in for a fun weekend. Even the dogs are starting to tip toe around the house.

I'm a very happy go lucky person. To make a living as a portrait photographer you have to be. You sell yourself as much as you sell your images. When I used to photograph 120 high school kids in a season all we did was laugh, and people would tell me what a great time they would have here. That lady has gone far, far away into roid vill. Roid vill is a dark scary place where the tiniest thing can set you off the handle.

Yesterday I asked Kurt to bring the spaghetti sauce up from the freezer, and he did. But when I went to cook it he had grabbed the 2 cup bag of sauce set aside for pizzas and such, not the 4 cup bag set aside to actually feed a family a spaghetti meal. I got so angry, I was slamming things around and swearing, and I never swear and here I am dropping the F-bomb like a crazy person. The funny thing is I'm still really week, so when I tried to slam the door to the basement it just went "bump" and that made me more mad so I grabbed it and just started slamming it over and over. Seriously, roid rages, they make you into a crazy person. The nice loud slamming made me feel better though and I got on with dinner. Lucky for Kurt he was still driving home, and I was all calmed down by the time he got here. :)

My other curve ball for the day was this darn lime jello salad. Guess what you can not do. You can not just drop a large block of cream cheese into liquid jello and whisk it smooth. Yea that's not going to happen, you get floating cottage cheese. I googled it and found that I should have mashed the cream cheese then added a little bit of liquid at a time, but to late for that. So I skimmed off what I could, put it into a freezer bag and mashed it all together. It worked but there was some still already in the jello that just wasn't coming out and if you look at the photos you can see how it settled to the top of the jello mold. Except to see that you have to look at the bottom of the jello, because you flip it over when you unmold it. :) So all the cottage cheese looking stuff is at the base even though it technically floated to the top.

Layered Pear Cream Cheese Mold

1 can (16 ounces) pear halves, undrained
1 package (8-serving size) or 2 packages (4-serving size each) Jello lime flavored gelatin
1½ cups cold ginger ale or water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
¼ cup chopped pecans

Drain pears, reserving liquid. Dice pears: set aside. Add water to liquid to make 1½ cups; bring to boil in small saucepan. (I just microwaved it)

Stir boiling liquid into gelatin in a large bowl at least 2 minutes until completely dissolved. Stir in cold ginger ale and lemon juice. Reserve 2½ cups gelatin at room temperature.  Pour remaining gelatin into 5-cup mold. Refrigerate about 30 minutes or until thickened (spoon drawn though leaves definite impression). Arrange about ½ cup of the diced pears in thickened gelatin in mold.

Stir reserved 2½ cups gelatin gradually into cream cheese in a large bowl with wire whisk until smooth. Refrigerate about 30 minutes or until slightly thickened (consistency of egg whites). Stir in remaining diced pears and pecans. Spoon over gelatin layer in mold.

Refrigerate 4 hours until firm. Unmold. Garnish as desired.

Makes 10 servings

The last of my 2:30 am cooking spree was these fantastic banana bars. OMG they are heavenly, but the kids say the frosting is the best thing. I don't agree, the frosting is good but these are so moist and have such great flavor and texture. A really, really good bar recipe. The bar recipe came from AR but the frosting is just your basic cream cheese frosting: cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and powdered sugar. I actually ran out of powdered sugar so it's a little thinner then I would normally make it but the kids could drink it. They are using the extra to dip their fruit in.

Frosted Banana Bars

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup mashed ripe bananas
  • 1 (16 ounce) container cream cheese frosting - *noooooo, make your own, so much better*
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 10x15 inch jellyroll pan.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the sour cream and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; stir into the batter. Finally, mix in the mashed banana. Spread evenly into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow bars to cool completely before frosting with the cream cheese frosting.

Now I read that you can freeze these and I still have 3 bananas that need cooked up so I may make another batch and give freezing a try. I'm a little worried they will be all dry after freezing, but I'll give it a try and let you know how it turns out.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Real Life In Blogland?

I had a crazy whim while I was surfing blog land and decided to put my recipes into some of the linky party's, now I'm having 2nd thoughts. I go to these blogs, some with their fancy homes, some with beautiful painted furniture, others with more recipes and they all have one thing in common. They are happy blogs with barley a care in the world other then what the next blog post might be, or what color to paint the next piece of furniture.

But this isn't really a happy blog, and my next care is wheather or not my heart will stop before the doctor gets this darn potassium problem figured out. Two potassium infusions, two days in a row and I go in today for blood work to see where we are at. Please, please, please just stay up!

That's my blog, not exactly the care free thing  you expect to run into surfing recipes on the net. I don't get comments, do I shock them all away? I don't think I really want comments, I don't want sympathy. I just want people to remember there is so much more to life then whatever little things they are stressing about. Let the little stuff go, it's just not worth it, and be happy for what you do have. If you take anything from here, take that.

I did my usual up at 2am thing, but I went to bed by 9 so I got a good 5 hours in last night. So at 2 am I started cooking. I got the pasta salad done, the jello, and baked banana bars. ( I had some bananas going bad in the counter). The schedule actually worked out well because we are not running the air so it was nice to bake in the cool of the night instead of heating the house up during the day. Then back to bed at 6am and slept until 8, so the sleep thing is a little better today.

I keep hedging something in my posts. About saving money, doing things cheep, like not running the air. Here's the hardest thing about living with a chronic illness. You can't work. You can't make a living like if you were a healthy person. I know, I tired, and it has put me into the hospital more times then I care to count. So no income or a very reduced one, then comes the medical bills. Even with fantastic insurance you are libel for what they don't cover and when you have lots of medical bills it ads up fast.

So we are thrifty, I shop the ads, I only buy the meet and veggies that are on sale and I plan our menus from that. For example last nights crocpot pork chops, which were excellent by the way, were from a cheep grill pack that I got 12 pork chops for $10. They were TINY little chops and the girls both said they wish there had been more meat, but I told them to eat more rice. :) Kurt and I actually cut our meat up, added it with the rice and veggies and pored the sauce over the whole thing. Very Asian flare, and very good. The whole meal cost less the $5! I told you I'm thrifty.

Another reason these salads are so great. Noodles are cheep! I even splurged and bought the wacky mac veggie noodles for this salad and they cost all of $1.29 but look how much that gives you!

I actually think I need to add more veggies, there is a so much pasta it can handle a lot more veggies.

I'm sorry there is not really a true recipe for this one, but I'll tell you what's in it and you just put in as much as you want. :)

Garden Pasta Salad

The best things in it are chopped black olives, feta cheese and Zesty Italian dressing.

Then you add chunky sliced cherry tomatoes, cucumber, and green bell pepper (except I only had red bell pepper)

And the noodles of course.

That's it - salad done!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

No Sleeping on Steroids

I have been up since 2:30 after going to bed around 11pm and it's now almost 4am. I think it's a combination of the steroids and the potassium infusion I had today. I also slept all night the night before, but I was REALLY week from the low potassium. Now I just can't shut my head off. I'm going though my day.

I have to have Joey, one of our EB puppies to the vet in a town to the north of us at 8am, I have to be checked into the hospital infusion center for another 4 hour infusion in the town to the south of me by 10am. Between there I have to take the child that spent the night home, and my own children to my mothers. Maddie has basketball camp and Chloe has voice lessons that my mother will have to take them to. After I get out of the infusion center around 3 I'm going to need to rush up north and grab Joey, then drop him off at home and rush to get the kids for a basket ball game at 5. Now I just realized we may have an evening conflict. Chloe is doing a duet in voice and the teacher wanted to get together in the evening, but Maddie told me they are putting Chloe in the basket ball game so she has to be there to play. Seriously, they have my book baby playing with 8th graders because they are down a person. She has never played basket ball in her life and has only been to 3 training sessions! Nothing like sink or swim.

Beings I can't sleep I planned dinner. I actually need to go through the freezer and do the menu for the week. Today is a crockpot day if there ever was one. I think we are going with these from AR Pork Chops for the Slow Cooker  with rice and broccoli. As long as I cook my broccoli down to mush it doesn't seem to bother me, I just take the family's out and let some cook longer for myself.

This one from Mel's Kitchen Cafe is pretty similar San Francisco Chops {Slow Cooker} but looks like it has more flavor so probably one of these or a mix of the two.

The macaroni salad is about gone and I need to decide what salad is coming next, and I could get out of bed, because that's where I'm typing this from, and go make my jello.

Now that I have a list of things in my head that need to be done the steroids are urging me to go do it.

Go through the freezer and plan meals, make shopping list
Find a Salad
Make Jello
Decide on what to bake because the cookies will be gone today also.

Off to work.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Salads Save the Day

We often have unexpected dinner guests. Usually I have enough food in the house that if we split up the protein everyone still gets enough to eat. Usually. When kids eat here, they really pig out. They tell me their parents don't cook like I do. I really think most of them live on frozen and box meals. It's how I grew up myself, pot pies and hamburger helper. When I was photographing 120 high school kids and Kurt was doing the cooking, it's how we ate. But the Crohn's changed all that. I was starving my body and I craved real food, so I took back the cooking, and now I often have kids showing up at my door at dinner time, crazy beings I live in the middle of no where.

Sometimes it's more then I can feed. Last night's noodle dinner I just happened to have 5 breasts and just went ahead and cooked them all. Would have been fine if it was just Chloe's little friend that showed up. (She called to come over at 6pm, while I was cooking and her mom drove her out in time for dinner) Maddie called about 5 minutes later to tell me that two of her guy friends were coming home from the pool with her. They had been at the pool all day, they are teenagers, and they eat, and eat, and eat....

I have an emergency, feed kids cheep stash.

I grabbed the hot dogs and buns out of the freezer and threw them on the dash of the car - yes I did - it was hot, they thawed fast. :) I stock up on hot dogs and buns when they are under $1 and freeze them. I buy chips in generic or on clearance and keep them in a storage room in the basement. My kids don't eat chips on a daily basis, even if I let them they wouldn't so I don't keep open bags around to go to waist. I always have baked beans, also stocked up when under $1 and Maddie has a special recipe she loves that we throw together that takes less then the time it does to heat them - but we didn't need to make beans yesterday because I had a ginormous tub of macaroni salad. So hot dogs, chips and salad and the teens were fed, they also split Maddie's chicken 3 ways. :)

This doesn't just happen at dinner either. We have a pool, not a big one but good enough for Chloe and her friends, Maddie always goes to the big pool in town. So often in the afternoon there will be a random child dropped at my door. The kids will go for a swim for a while then come in hungry. I can't tell you how nice it has been to have food that I can just pull out and offer them. I don't have to have anything made. There is always fruit, and cheese, and yogurt, now the salads, and jello. They almost always choose the salad and jello. There is also usually something baked around also. Right now it's chocolate chip cookies. Last week it was 'knock you naked brownies' from Pioneer Woman, I had half a basket ball team here that week, they didn't last long.

I do all my 'extra' cooking in the mornings. I don't sleep so I'm up at around 4:30, everyone is out of my way and I have gobs of energy then. By the time dinner is here I'm pretty much dragging to get through it. We gril a lot so Kurt takes over that part. I season, or give him a sauce to baste, but he does the actual cooking. I do what ever sides need to be done. Most week nights that just putting the salad and jello on the table, sometime lettuce and condiments for a lettuce salad, sometimes a cooked vegetable. On Friday and Sundays I make big meals with full on side dishes and sometimes those sides carry over for a day or two.

I guess the long winded point to this post is that it is so little work to cook this way. One big salad can last a week, but you only have to make it once. Think of all the little meals I would have to make with all these children running in and out. How many times would I have to dig chicken nuggets out of the freezer and heat them up because "picky kids are hungry and they don't eat real food" I don't. I just open my refrigerator and the food is already there, it costs me no spoons for my kids to have their friends over and for me to be a good host without resorting to keeping expensive junk food in the house.

Classic Macaroni Salad

"That macaroni salad was the bomb, I'm not lying, and I lie a lot" ~ Colton

4 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
2/3 cup white sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup grated carrot (optional)
2 tablespoons chopped pimento peppers (optional)
  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni, and cook until tender, about 8 minutes. Rinse under cold water and drain.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, mustard, salt and pepper. Stir in the onion, celery, green pepper, carrot, pimentos and macaroni. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving, but preferably overnight.               

Feeling Lopsided

I have a love hate, hate, hate relationship with steroids. When I 1st go on them I don't sleep more then a few hours. I'm antsy and I have to be doing something every minute or I go nuts. The last few weeks I have cleaned my whole house,  put in two new flower beds, and started working on a third.

I get extremely moody and cry at the drop of a hat. This is totally not me. Just crazy steroid stuff. The lack of sleep, the constant need to move and do things. It wears a person down, mentally and physically. I found a way to help power down and get in a few extra hours of sleep.

Fresh air! Fresh air makes me sleepy. I work in the garden, I get sleepy. I try and go to bed and the antsy-ness creeps back in. So I decided, when I get tiered, I'm going to sleep in the fresh air. It worked! I passed out for 45 minutes the 1st day, and almost two hours the 2nd day.

The views are lovely

Although technically while laying down if I bother to open my eyes and look the view looks more like this . :)

But I know what is there. The smells from the garden and the sweet smell of pastured cows, the soft mooing in the distance, the birds singing, even a barn cat or two sometimes laying with me. It lets me relax and get just a little bit more sleep.

As the doctors have been trying to get the Crohn's under control with the steroids we have had an extremely difficult time regulating my potassium levels. They continue to drop most days and I have had to have several infusions. Have any of you had this one? It burns like a **** going in. The low potassium sucks the strength right out of you. Your muscles just won't do what you want them to any more. Yesterday after I sat in my lawn chair to take the photo above, I tried to stand without using my arms to pull myself up and I fell over! My legs were not strong enough to lift me from the chair by themselves. It scared me, even though I knew what it was. I went into the out patient, had my standing order potassium check done, then got a call from the doctor to go in for an infusion this morning.

So last night I was still not very strong. I was feeling way to week to venture the basement stairs caring a jello mold. So we did counter top photos. Not as pretty or as flashy, which was too bad because it was a pretty jello, but you can still see it. I even snapped a few photos of dinner, but I won't leave you the recipe as it wasn't that good. Chloe picked it out of a recipe book, you know one of those .25 cent garage sale buys of mine, what can I say, I have an obsession. It called for Romain noodles, I know right, but the kids love them, so I made this for her. I have had better. :)

I think our jello was called peaches and cream. I forgot to wet the plate down when I popped the jello out of the mold and it stuck sideways and was not going to budge without being ripped to shreds. Had I not done that I may still tried to venture the steps for photos, but feeling like I did with a lopsided jello anyway, it just wasn't happening.

The color is very pretty though, it could have been fun to photograph with some soft pastels around it. I'll probably make this one again though. We really like the whip cream mixed in. It made for a really light and fluffy almost ice cream like desert.

I also love the texture of the peaches and creaminess, that would have photographed so beautifully in the studio, yep, going to have to do a redo on this one later this summer. Had we had any daylight left I still could have had decent photos, but it was way to dark in that part of the house by dinner time.

Peaches and Cream Mold

1½ cups boiling water
1 package (8 serving size) or two packages (4-serving size each) peach or orange flavored gelatin
1½ cups cold water
1 tub (8 ounces) cool whip whipped topping, thawed, divided
1 can (16 ounces) peach slices, drained, diced

Stir boiling water into gelatin in a large bowl at least 2 minutes until completely dissolved. Stir in cold water. Refrigerate about 1¼ hours until slightly thickened (constancy of egg whites).

Stir in 2 cups whipped topping with a wire whisk until smooth. Refrigerate about 15 minutes or until thickened (spoon drawn though leaves a definite impression). Stir in peaches. Pour into a 5-cup mold which has been sprayed with non stick cooking spray.

Refrigerate 4 hours until firm. Unmold. Garnish as desired. Serve with remaining whipped topping.

Makes 10 servings

Taste Like Summer

My new plants from Kurt's grandparents farm.

 We had such a long day. We went to Kurt's grandparents farm, now owned by his aunt Rose. She let me come up and take two peony bushes, three roses, some irises, a huge hosta, some ferns and something that flowers that she didn't know what it was, just that it flowers early so has already bloomed and now it just a green plant, I guess I'll find out next spring. :)

Kurt and Rose dug everything up and got it into planters for me, it was so hot and windy enough to knock you over! Then we all went in and Rose served us cold lemon aid then broke out the brownies and ice cream. It was fun sitting in the old farm house again with that kind of hospitality. Kurt's grandmother Myrtle was that way. You didn't come visiting and sit in that kitchen without her feeding you something while you were there. She was a dear sweet woman and I am so glad to have her plants in my garden. The roses and the peony remind me the most of her. Mums also, she was always out dead heading the mums but there were none of them there anymore. I have my own though that look much like hers did and they always remind me of her.
After we got home I walked around the yard and pointed out where I wanted Kurt to put everything else. It kills me not to get to do this myself. Kurt isn't as careful in his planting as I am, often leaving the roots to high, but I just can't do it now. It's so hard to let someone else do for you, but I'm trying to get better at it.

We were so hot when we were done that dinner hardly sounded worth making. I decided to cut up the last of the chicken and made wraps, we ate up the last of the pea salad, and had the best and simplest jello yet. I don't think it lasted past dinner. We were just so hot and it was just the right thing to have cool us off.

Chloe says that the strawberry banana flavored jello used in this jello is her favorite flavor. She also said this was her favorite jello so far, I think maybe she has said that before though. :) It could have been set just a little more before I added the fruit, as you can see it's mostly on the bottom here. That means it floated on top in the mold.

Strawberry Banana Salad

1½ cups boiling water
1 package ( 8 serving size) or two packages (4-serving size each) jello strawberry banana flavor gelatin
2 cups cold water
1 cup chopped strawberries
1 banana sliced

Stir boiling water into gelatin in a large bowl at least 2 minutes until completely dissolved. Stir in cold water. Refrigerate about 1½ hours or until thickened (spoon drawn through leaves a definite impression).

Stir in strawberries and bananas. Pour into a 5 cup mold that has been sprayed with no stick cooking spray.

Refrigerate 4 hours or until firm, Unmold. Store leftover gelatin mold in refrigerate.

Makes 10 (½ cup) servings

Sunday, June 10, 2012

A year of food photography

I just found this going through some old photos. This 1st photo was taken  Feb 1st 2011, why I was eating pea salad in the middle of winter is beyond me, but that's the photo tag date.

 The 2nd photo was taken yesterday.

I would say my design skills are getting a little better. Even tough it was Chloe who told me to go take a photo of it on the pretty plate. ;)