Sunday, January 31, 2010

Gearing Up!

Tomorrow is the big day - my surgery. Those of you who know me well, realize that I am not a very good sick person. I have a hard enough time when I have strep throat or the flu. It's just hard for me to stay in bed; it's hard for me to rest; it's hard for me to miss out on stuff. My surgery has been on the calendar for over three weeks. I've had all that time to rehearse the what-ifs & the if-onlys. I've had all that time to dread being home recovering. I love to be busy. I love to be out & about. I like being useful. All of that is hard to do from the couch.

Since I am a person of action, I have been making lists & gathering things to keep me busy during this forced down time. I took a little pic & you can see all of my busy work up above. I intend to do some reading, including my Bible, a novel that I'm about half way through, & possibly "The Pickwick Papers" by Dickens. Then I have a huge cross stitch project that I want to complete before next Christmas (which mean I really need to get crackin'!). I also have some material prepared to sew some curtains for our back door. After that I have big basket of recipes, newspaper clippings, etc. that I need to go through. I also have the photo book of our wedding pics that I would like to go through & type out a page by page narration of memories we want to keep fresh. I also have about a years worth of magazines to catch up on. And a stack of crosswords that I pilfered from my boss's USA Todays.

Perhaps that is enough to keep me busy. I also want to try to download a new blog template. Never done it before. Don't know how to do it. Hoping I can figure it out. Kinda tired of being green, if you know what I mean :-)

It's common knowledge that my surgery has me totally freaked out. Mike & I have been praying that the Lord will just give me a calm spirit & a peaceful heart. I know He will do that for me. The other day a good friend reminded me that this was all in God's plan for me. He's not surprised I've been sick. He hasn't been wondering what to do about it. He's known all along what would happen & what the outcome will be. I trust Him.

Church today was such a huge blessing to me. The offertory this morning was "Trusting Jesus" which is one of my all time favorite hymns. The special music was "Day By Day," another favorite. And to top it all off, I had so many lovely folks remind me that they would be praying for me, offers of meals to be delivered to usif needed, assurances that my surgeon was 'the best' & all kinds of love shining down. What a blessing - I don't know when I've felt so loved. Our church family is beyond fantastic. They show us the love of Christ in so many ways.

So I'm going to enjoy the rest of the evening with my honey, hopefully get a good night's rest, & go in for some hole punching in the morning *grin*

If you think of it, pray for me - THANK YOU!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I Found My Tomato

This year for Christmas I asked my parents for a sewing machine. I majored in Home Economics in college; however, I am not a very good seamstress. My husband asked, "Why do you want a sewing machine?" I had no good answer. It just seems like a necessity of the household. I have a pile of mending in the corner of my closet. I was wearing a coat with a huge hole in the right side pocket & three buttons hanging by a thread. I felt like it was time for some sewing to take place. My parents got me the sewing machine. It was time to get down to it!
Last Monday night I started my little projects. First I had to find my crafty storage tub. I have now lived in my house for over a year. Sadly, there are still many storage tubs & boxes stacked up in the basement that I still need to deal with. My excuse - Hello! I got married! I've been totally busy! Yeah, I know it's a feeble excuse but it's all I've got & I'm gonna use it as long as I can!
It actually didn't take long for me to find the crafty tub. I got to digging & found my tomato! It's the pincushion that I used for sewing in college. Mrs. Janke was an excellent teacher. A large part of the reason that I am not a good seamstress is that I tend to be a "Good Enuf'r". As in...

*that plaid doesn't really match up perfectly, but it's Good Enuf
*that zipper still pulls to one side just a bit, but it's Good Enuf
*the waistband doesn't meet up perfectly but I never tuck my shirt in, no one will see it, so it's Good Enuf

You get the idea, I'm sure. My friend Kathleen was in that class, too. She was my polar opposite. She would take a seam out 8 times if the plaid didn't match up. I'm sure Mrs. Janke had moments when she wanted to make us talk each other out of our extremes!
Once I had my tomato & some thread I got busy trying to figure out my new machine. I think it's pretty easy so far. The tension was a little crazy at first but once I got the machine threaded right it seemed to smooth out :-)
A little while later the buttons were nice & secure, the pocket no longer had a hole, & I did some planning for material I found in the tub. I feel inspired to make some curtains & valances for our house, specifically the back door, the bathroom & the bedroom. Hopefully it will be fun! Hopefully I will strive for a little better than "Good Enuf!"

Another Culinary Success!

I'm not sure that this looks like much to you all, but this picture represents about three hours in the kitchen!
My great friend Missy (the one who lives in Vienna) introduced me to Greek food a long time ago. She lived in Greenville, South Carolina at the time & she invited me down for a visit one May. I knew that we would have a great time relaxing & hanging out. I had no idea we were going to go to the Greek Festival. My oh my oh my! During that little trip I discovered that Greek food is the best food on earth.
Since then I have only been able to eat Greek on a very sporadic basis. I haven't been back to Greenville since Missy's wedding (over three years ago!). My sister-in-law lives in Quincy, Illinois & they have a spectacular Greek restaurant called The Olive. Every time we visit we have a meal there. Every time I get the Moussaka. It's. That. Good.
I was flipping through a magazine not too long ago & I found a recipe for Veggie Moussaka. Since the Hubs & I aren't big meat eaters I clipped the recipe & put it in my "to try" basket. There it sat until about a week ago. I called up our Greek Food Loving Friend, Autumn & invited her over for some Veggie Moussaka. She agreed to guinea pig it with us & I set out for the grocery.
I have to admit that I did a bit of research online about eggplant. I have only cooked with it once before & the results were not positive. I was a little afraid that I'd pick an overripe one & not know it. Armed with my new knowledge, I set out. I found that this in not the best recipe to make in the dead of winter. It was difficult to find eggplant, zucchini, & yellow squash that weren't soft & shrivel-y. But I made do!
The reason that this dish takes so long is that you have to do a lot of processing. The eggplant must be sliced, salted on both sides, left to rest for 30 minutes, then washed off & dried. Then it must be roasted in the oven for 30 minutes. While all that is going on, you gotta wash, chop & cook the zucchini, yellow squash, & mushrooms. There was a lot going on, let me tell you!
The part I was most nervous about (aside from my concerns that I was going to inadvertently serve rotten eggplant) was the cheese sauce for the top. It's a rich combination of butter, flour, milk, & Parmesan cheese - the really good grated kind, not the powdery stuff. This combination has to almost boil & then simmer for a while on the stove top. Let's just say I have a well-known reputation for scorching things on the stove top. Autumn kept me focused & I am happy to say that no scorching took place.
After all of this yumminess is assembled it must bake for 60-70 minutes. Autumn & I left Mike in charge of the timer & went mall-walking. I know, mall-walking is totally senior citizen of us but we have a little mall with two flights of stairs that we incorporate into our laps. Besides, I am so way winter-wimpy that you won't catch me outside for a walk unless it is at least 40 degrees.
Anyway, a couple of miles later we headed back home & the Veggie Moussaka was ready. I think we were all a little apprehensive about digging in. I even offered to order pizza if it was gross. At this point we had waited so long to eat I think they were hungry enough to eat just about
anything (part of my strategy - moohahaha!).
Short story long, we all loved it! It is definitely something I will make again - just probably on a Saturday :-)

The G's Influence On My Life

Here's a picture of my G's. This was before our wedding. They were in the foyer, taking a little rest before they got seated. Aren't they cute???

Shortly before Christmas I was at my grandparent's house & I saw a bottle cut open like this on their bathroom counter. My G's are very frugal; you can tell they were kids during the Depression. I wasn't surprised that my G-pa had gotten out his pocket knife so that they could get every last bit of lotion out of the bottle.

Fast forward a couple of weeks & my own lotion bottle was refusing to pump. I knew there was lots left so I turned it upside down & shook the lotion out for a few days. Then I asked my hubby to get a utility knife to cut the bottle in half (just like the G's!). He grudgingly obliged, not liking to get lotion on his knife blade :-)

I can't help but think that my G's have been a great influence on my life. Not just in ways of frugality, but in other bigger ways. They pray; they love each other no matter what; they love me no matter what. I'm so grateful God put me in their family.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Monday Musings...

*Six months ago today I married my best friend. Time surely does go by quickly! It has been FUN & educational so far *grin* Bottom line, we still like each other. I can't wait to get where he is. I still smile when he comes across my phone. It's so good. Therefore, the first six months will be deemed a raving success!

*When you have gall bladder issues & you are waiting to have surgery NEVER EVER eat summer sausage. Just don't do it. Five hours later my stomach & side still feel gross.

*They predicted 1-3 inches of new snow today & it still hasn't happened. Yeehaw!

*This weekend was great - an excellent balance of chores & relaxation. Dinner with Beth & family on Friday night, chores, basketball game for Caleb, cheering for Maddie, & dinner with my parents on Saturday, church & dinner with Mike's parents on Sunday. Busy but relaxing, too. Lots of good sleep & some exercise worked in there, too (even if it is still FREEZING cold outside).

*Reading a book about Abigail Adams life. What a remarkable lady! She was very well educated for her time. She had a true partnership with her husband. She crusaded bravely for freedoms for women (especially for their education) & held firm to the belief that husbands & wives were equal but designed for different functions within marriage. She bravely faced the loss of two children (including a pregnancy that ended with possible toxemia & a stillborn daughter) as well as a small pox epidemic. She was a staunch patriot & her passion for an independent United States of America founded on principles of integrity & personal freedom are a conviction to me. All of this happened before her 40th birthday & she was separated from her husband for years at a time while he worked tirelessly to help establish a new country. I have decided that I am a wimp. I am not much of a patriot. I am also not as outspoken as maybe I should be about things that truly matter. Lots of things to ponder...

*I just finished reading II Chronicles. Wow - the Lord has really opened my eyes to some wonderful lessons out of His word recently. The freshest in my mind at this moment is how just because some of the kings began well - humbled themselves before the Lord, sought His face, obeyed Him - doesn't mean that they would end well. Pride is a terrible thing. Also, just because a father was a godly man does not mean his children will be; conversely, just because the father was an evil man does not mean that his children will be. Not necessarily new lessons, but excellent reminders to me that I need to make those regular heart checks.

How was your weekend & what's on your mind today?

Friday, January 8, 2010

I'm in love!

With my crock pot, that is. *grin*

I'm sure most of you ladies have already discovered this wonderful friend. I've had encounters with her before, but only to make beef stew. Honestly, that's the only recipe I've every used her for.

Until today.

Several weeks ago I bought a pork loin. I wasn't sure what I was going to do with it but it was on sale & my mother-in-law had served pork loin for a Sunday dinner once. Mike & I both really liked it so I bought it, took it home & put it in the freezer.

And it's been waiting there. I asked Vangie all kinds of questions about how she cooked hers. I tried to figure out the time differences to make it for a Friday night dinner versus a Sunday lunch. For whatever reason I find cooking meat a bit daunting. I got my food thermometer out of the drawer & ready to go.

Last night about 10:30 I got the thawed chunk out of the fridge, sprinkled some salt, garlic & olive oil over it, put the lid on & went to bed. Trying not to worry about it being too dry...trying not to think how embarrassing it would be to die in our sleep b/c our crock pot caught the house on fire...

This morning when I woke up the aroma was just starting to get good. Hmmm...this just might work out, I thought with a smile. Vangie had assured me that the meat would make enough of its own juice & I didn't have to worry about it scorching. I just wasn't sure, but I decided to trust her as I headed out to work.

Over the course of the workday my sister & I texted back & forth about out evening/weekend plans. I ended up inviting their family for dinner with the disclaimer that the meal was an experiment & that we had Pizza Hut on speed dial if needed.

Turns out, it wasn't needed! We noshed on scrumptious pork loin with barbecue sauce on fresh whole wheat bakery buns. We enjoyed roasted potatoes, the kind where they are stained a rich color from being too friendly with the meat in the crock pot. With a side of green beans (a family standard) & an ice cream sundae to top it all off, we were content.

What a great night! I love having company in our home. The food was good. The fellowship was refreshing. The games of Uno with the kids were hilarious. Good times warm & cozy in our home. Thank the Lord for cozy homes, sweet family, & the bitter cold winter weather that drives us all inside for a few evenings such as this one.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

I Was Victorious!

Today's winter storm has changed our surroundings into those of a winter wonderland. Too bad it's too late for Christmas. All day I have been trying to be positive about the weather. The cold weather of winter is bad enough; snow & wind & freezing temperatures just add insult to injury. I left for work this morning in my warm green sweater & brown leather boots intending to be ready to tromp through the inches of snow. I got to work just fine but when our customers started adding orders on like crazy I had my first moment of chicken panic. We had two runs that needed to go to customers 60-80 miles north of here. No way was I wanting to go on either one of those deliveries! My boss is a very kind man; my co-workers must be desperate for overtime. Two of them agreed to work a long day & take those deliveries while I made the drops here in town. I can handle town driving in the snow because there are no ditches for me to end up in. So I made my deliveries around town, confessing my sin of fear all along the way.
After work I got my own car all cleaned off (no small feat b/c it had been snowing ALL DAY!). I have learned the value of a windshield scraper with a long handle. Those short handled little guys do no good at getting the snow off the hood of your car. I ended up scraping it off with my arm. COLD STUFF! Thankfully when I finally got in the car I realized that the gas gauge was on empty before I set off for home. I drove right over to the gas station, pulled my hood up over my head & prepared to pump gas in the freezing wind. I pulled the little lever to open the gas door & discovered that I had a problem. The little gas door was frozen shut. *sigh* I was tempted to just climb back in the car, head for home, praying for the best. But my MacGyver spirit rose up within me & I started digging around in the car for something I could pry on the door with. All I could find was my short handled windshield scraper. It disappointed me yet again b/c it's scraper was really too fat to fit in the crack around the little door. Hmmm...I started rummaging again. There was guy gassing up a big box truck on the other side of the pump & I almost asked for his advice. That kind of thing never really works out for me though. Usually the person I ask for advice looks at me like I've got a third arm growing out of my head before muttering an answer that I can't understand let alone use to help me. So no asking the stranger for help. More rummaging. Finally I decided to try using my parent's house key. It's a big, sturdy, long key so I started chiseling away at the ice filled crack around the door. After several freezing minutes of totally scratching my car to bits, I finally got it open! Sweet victory!
So keep blowing, you mad winter wind! All I need is a key & I can tackle anything you send my way!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

It's On The Schedule

Yesterday I had a dreaded doctor's appointment. I never look forward to going to the doctor. I'm sure most people can agree with that sentiment. However, I am grateful that many times they can come up with a solution for whatever it is that is making me feel yucky. I love simple solutions like a shot of antibiotics for strep throat or a prescription of antibiotics for a sinus infection (usually all that takes is a phone call - no office visit! Yay!). But this time when I went in with pressure in my chest, frequent nausea, & tenderness in my right side I knew I wasn't going to get off so easy.
After a short discussion of my symptoms, some poking of my belly & an apologetic smile, my doctor let me know that she thought my gall bladder was causing me problems. I already knew that. I am the only female in my mom's entire family that still has her gall bladder. It would seem that the genes in our family just don't develop healthy gall bladders. I kind of just knew this day would come...
So I went in for an ultrasound. That is a test I don't mind in the least. A nice, quiet, warm, dim room - I almost fell asleep. When the results came back I found out that I did not have any gall stones. That's a good thing, no chance that one will get stuck in a duct & make me super sick (happened to my sister - not good!).
The next test was a HIDA scan. I was a little curious about this test b/c it is a nuclear imaging test so the radioactive drug that I was given was compounded in the pharmacy where I work. I drew up some of the doses for the clinic that was doing my test so I marked the labels with a green highlighter to see if I would get a dose that I drew. It didn't work out that way, but it was fun to try to track the dose :-) This test shows how the gall bladder is functioning. It should be performing at a 35-40% level. My test showed that mine was functioning at 21% so the next appointment was with a surgeon.
I had that appointment yesterday afternoon. The surgeon was very nice but also very thorough. He asked me what my symptoms were, asked if I had any pain during the HIDA scan. During part of that test they give you another medicine that causes the gall bladder to contract. He asked if that had hurt me & I answered that it did not. He was looking for it to hurt b/c that would mean that the degree of the gall bladder disease was worse. At this point I was getting a little bit relieved, thinking that he was going to tell me I could wait for it to get worse. I am NOT enjoying the thought of surgery ONE BIT. He began to say that I could just deal with it for a while & not be in a hurry to have the surgery. *relief* Then he asked if I had any questions. I asked what I could do to feel better, any natural remedies, any suggestions? His only suggestion was a low fat diet. I already do that. Shucks. Next question, does it matter if we plan on trying to have a baby sometime in the next year or so? His expression changed & I knew I was in trouble. His response, "We'll go ahead and get you on the schedule then." Evidently, pregnancy can cause all kinds of gall bladder yuckiness (which I already knew b/c of situations my friends have been in). I just wanted to hear it from a doctor, I guess.
Now I am on the schedule to have my gall bladder removed laparoscopically on Monday, February 1st. Make a note to pray for me, please. I have all kinds of stupid fears. Pray for Mike, too. He is an excellent caregiver when I am sick, but I don't think this will be quite the same as holding my hair for me when I get the pukies. I'm so grateful for him & his help - what a guy!

Anything fun on your winter calendar? My dad was laughing with me last night that we don't have any holidays to look forward to right now but we are going to fill the calendar up with something! :-)