Monday, September 7, 2015

Today's Update - 7 Sep 2015

Ok I can hear you now ... she's said that before.  And it would be the truth but I'm fairly certain that I've got a handle on all of my up and coming so that I can start posting more regularly.  Initially it is going to be once or twice a week and then I'll build from there as I get ahead on the stories.  I'm almost not sure where I left off on posting some of them.

As far as an update goes, well things are getting as back to normal as they are going to be for now.  Mom and Dad have moved back home on their own and are doing fairly well as they too try and get back into their "normal" groove.  My dad has been released by his cardiologist though everyone now agrees that it is simply going to take considerably longer for him to heal than originally anticipated.  His age, concurrent health issues, as well as the unexpected ones that cropped up are inhibiting his normal progress but not halting it.  In fact, recently his glucose numbers have been better than mine.  Which leads me to my own stuff.

The metformin et al is not having quite the impact on my glucose numbers as we'd all hoped.  I've had numerous tests to make sure that something else isn't complicating matters ... thyroid, PCOS, and other blah, blah, blah ... but mostly it appears to be just plain ol' diabetes.  Sigh.  Whether I want to or not I may have to go on insulin.  If so that is going to really require hubby and I to change some of our prepping and future plans.  A couple of days ago I turned 49 and lately my getty up has gone on ahead with out the rest of me.  Could be one of the meds causing it and that's the next round of experimentation that I'm facing.  My glucose still hovers in the 140s/150s despite change of diet and extra exercise though I have been seeing some significant drops off and on including a low of 118 after I took a nap yesterday.  Usually my numbers are higher after inactivity so I wish I knew what had precipitated the drop.  I'd like to repeat it on a regular basis.  On the upside, I haven't seen numbers over 180 in quite some time, not even after a rich meal and dessert.  'Course I don't do that every day ... heck I don't do it every week.  And I only did it the once on the cruise hubby took me on for my birthday.

Carbs ... evil carbs.  Never really thought about how many carbs were hiding in my pantry, lying in wait to get me.  LOL  Boy has it been interesting to change my way of thinking about those oh so convenient preps that I've been counting on.  I'm going to need to can a lot more meat and that is not going to be cheap.  Boy are those sales going to be more and more important.  Price of gas may be coming down but I haven't seen it happening to burger yet.  Pork is taking the place of beef at the grocery store ... ground pork, pork steak, pork loin, pork roast, pork stew chunks, pork cut into stir fry strips.  Need to find good recipes for pork stew and chicken stew and see about converting them for canning.  Raw pack canned chicken is ugly but it is really, really tender so I'll probably doing a lot of that as well.

Not to hold everyone up below are the stories that I plan on updating by tonight and tomorrow.  Some of them may even have more than one chapter.

Updated Stories:

Emi on the Caloosahatchee
Zombies Aren't Real ... Are They?!
A Girl Called Jack
Up on Hartford Ridge
Larkspur In Eden
There is No Such Thing as a Thornless Garden

If I get more stories than this added to then I'll try and give another update. 

Only one vid today and it is on making a cooking pot cozy or for freezer bag cooking.  I've made several over the years and found them very useful for rehydrating meals on the road or on the trail as well as for keeping hot food warm for say lunch when you don't have access to a microwave.

Thanks again for the grace.  I really needed this month off.  Never had a summer like the one that we've just experienced.  Sure, I've faced bad things ... worse things for that matter ... but for some reason this summer was just way over the top.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Today's Update - 3 Aug 2015

Just a little wet around here.  Could you hear the sarcasm dripping off every word?  If you couldn't it sure wasn't for lack of trying on my part.

We've had over twenty days straight of rain and about a week of occasionally heavy rain followed by a long weekend of obnoxiously persistent rain resulting in what all of that rain normally leads to ... flooding.  And we aren't clear yet although we are getting a little mercy for a few days before it is supposed to start up again.  I'll take it though, anything so that we have a chance to dry up a little before starting the cycle all over.

In the arena of good news, my father was released by his wound doctor late last week and I helped them drive back to their home on Saturday.  It took their SUV and my van to transport everything and then the sixteen year old daughter and I carted everything in and helped to at least get the mess generally organized before having to get back on the road and get home in torrential rain.  I miss my mom already.  It was fun having her around all the time to remember stories from my childhood and having her impart some of the wisdom she picked up from her own growing up years.  It was fun having someone to go to the market with and try new things with.  My daughters are great but they are getting to the age where they have their own lives full of things going on.  Wish my parents lived closer but life is what it is and I'm now more determined than ever to take advantage of my time with her when I can get it.  I would have stayed longer but I need to get back.  Sunday morning I was up at 4 AM to get nineteen year old daughter to the airport so she could fly out on a mission trip and she'll be gone a week.

A bit of good news is that twenty-two year old son is now home and in only one week back has helped me tremendously by getting to some of the yard projects that hubby and I simply hadn't had the time to tackle this summer as we had intended.  Son has gone maniac-with-a-machete on the mess around the pond, cleaned out several of my raised beds that I had allowed to go fallow for the season due to nematode infestation, he laid and stapled down the black plastic to cook those nasty little nematodes, cleaned out a horrible mess in a flower bed by the front door so that we can get to the window and replace a rotten sill (waiting on the rain to dry up first), and has gotten some of the worst offending palms trimmed a bit to prevent the fronds from littering the drive and yard.  Tomorrow he'll start working with hubby and hopefully before he has to go away for grad school (next summer) he'll have helped whittle down the long list of special projects hubby has for the business.

Tomorrow a guy that owes us some money will be coming to paint two bedrooms to barter away the debt.  He's a professional painter by trade and we'll provide the supplies and he'll provide the expertise.  Those two rooms (the daughters' bedrooms) haven't been painted in who knows how long because they are like they were when we bought this place five years ago.  They aren't bad, the guy who owned this house was a professional painter himself, but they aren't exactly what you would call restful either.  One is a deep fuschia with some checker board designs on one wall - have no idea how many layers of Kilz that's going to take to keep from bleeding through - and the other is one of those rag-on paint jobs that is white on the base coat and celery-colored on the glaze color.  One of the rooms also has some ceiling discoloration that needs addressing.  I was prepared to paint the rooms myself but boy am I glad I don't have to.  The guy has a paint sprayer that will be neater and use less paint to get better coverage.

As a result of all the coming and going with my parents and then the rain creating extra work I have had to put canning on temporary hold for about a week.  You wouldn't believe what all I've gotten canned recently though.  Take a look ... just don't look too hard or you'll see what a mess my storage area is in right now.  That isn't all of it but is about 60% of what canning I have.  I know it doesn't look like as much as I make it out to be but there's a lot of work represented in those jars.  And I can get about 5 quart jars deep per row.  The quarts are full of green beans, pears, chili, vegetable beef soup, garbanzo bean soup, chicken soup, meatballs, etc etc etc.  Then the pints and half-pints have a multitude of other yummy things from meats (pulled pork, chicken in various forms, meatballs) to veggies (carrots, peas, pickled beets) to fruits (jams, jellies, preserves, pickles, sauces).  And bonus for me being a good girl ... they are all low to no sugar and/or low carb.

I still have my canning mess sitting in the kitchen but that will be taken care of by the end of the week as well as soon as I can get some shelves reorganized in my storage area.

Which leads me to my personal update and a very big thank you.  First thank you for all of the support and suggestions so many of you have chimed in with regard to my recent diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes.  I'm not as angry as I was but I certainly go through the ups and downs the way anyone does facing something so unexpected and permanent life-changing.  I admit I cheated, had to suck up the unpleasant consequences, and while still not completely comfortable in my skin about it all, I've decided that "cheating" on the new diet is going to have to be pushed out there a ways until I can find exactly what spikes the glucose for me.  Ugh.  Some days it seems everything does and some days make me question the manic dedication it all seems to take.  I'm chugging along however because it is the right thing to do for me, my husband, and the rest of my family who count on me.  I can understand however how people develop the I-don't-care attitude in the face of so much self-denial.  Double ugh.  It gets old fast having to remind yourself what you can't have ... at least for a good while and some things maybe never again.

In amongst all of this upheaval I've actually managed to get some writing accomplished.  Not as much as I want but more than I have been able to get to lately.  Some of it I'll post tonight and some will get posted over the next couple of days as I can get it transferred from paper to computer.

Emi on the Caloosahatchee
Zombies Aren't Real ... Are They?!
A Girl Called Jack

I have the section for Hartford Ridge written but not edited for posting.  I'm going to try and finish that tonight or tomorrow.  Depends on what messes I have to clean up.  I also have pieces written for Thornless and Larkspur.  I've also almost finished editing the end of Geek.  In the mood I'm in if I had all day to write I might actually catch up to where I want to be but that's not going to happen any time soon so I'll have to sneak things in as I can.  If I can get Geek and Larkspur out of the way in August I'll feel like I've accomplished something significant and it will make way for me to do a few other things I want to do.

A couple of interesting vids.  The first one is how to make Watermelon Jelly.  It is the season for it and I want to get to this next week.  The one after that is on Watermelon Jam.  The third vid is on making your own chocolate mint extract and then making chocolate mint jelly.  Yum.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Today's Update - 25 Jul 2015

Hello.  My name is Kathy.  And I am a diabetic.

No, this isn't some joke but I admit I really wish it were.  Life throws the worst curveballs exactly when you don't need them.  Last month my husband and I were applying for some additional life insurance and it required a medical exam including an EKG and blood work.  Then came the letter a couple of weeks later.  "I'm sorry but you are uninsurable.  Your diabetes is not under control."  Excuse me?!  I don't have diabetes and I'll prove it ... or at least so I thought.

I immediately scheduled a doctor's appointment and explained that something had to be wonky, someone made a mistake, that I had no symptoms of diabetes, none.  So ok, it appears to run in my family but my dad's was triggered by exposure to Agent Orange, my maternal grandfather's was triggered by being a farmer and eating a diet high in fats and sugars his entire life, my paternal grandfather supposedly developed his as a reaction to some TB complication back in the 1940s and he died in the 1950s so nobody to this day can really confirm for sure that he had diabetes.  And there are definitely no women in my family with diabetes.  Well, they did send me each time I was pregnant for blood but the results always came back negative.  And sure, occasionally my cholesterol registers a little high but ... but ... but ...

The doctor was really kind I suppose, but also matter of fact.  It's genetic.  For some people you can do everything to almost everything right and your number still comes up.  Looks like that's me.  My A1c was 10.2 and my fasting glucose was 288.  Talk about being shocked.  I hadn't had any soda at all for almost two months except for one cheat and on the advice of a dentist I hadn't had any fruit juice for over two weeks either.  I shudder to think what those numbers would have looked like if I had still be doing either one.

I was in denial for a bit.  It took me a week to accept reality without throwing a mental hissy fit.  I'm still very uncomfortable with the diagnosis.  This changes things, it changes things a lot.  In a lot of areas.  And has raised questions that could cause even more things to change ... cost of insurance, life expectancy, complications as I age, burdens on my family, a lot of things.  I'm trying to minimize the accommodations that my family will have to make but my husband says to stop worrying it to death, that we'll deal with it like we've dealt with everything else that has come my way.  That isn't exactly taking away my concerns but at least I know he isn't blaming me or anything like that.  Both of his parents had Type 2 and he always thought it would be him but his numbers are almost perfect. Go figure.

I'm still fighting the idea that food is the enemy; because in reality it isn't food that is the enemy.  In reality there is no "enemy" to fight.  In reality there is nothing I can do to change the fact that I have diabetes.  I can manage it but it isn't something that is simply going to go away.  That is a bitter pill to swallow, especially as I have spent the last year really getting myself in shape and healthier so I could head into my 50s with a clean bill of health.  Yeah right. 

And yes, I'm still a little angry about it.  My ability to be thoughtless and carefree is gone, over with, never coming back.  I have to look at everything differently.  I'm not saying that it sucks to be me, but it is going to be a while before I can just casually shrug my shoulders at things ... especially diet and exercise.

It is how I was eating food that apparently is the problem for me personally.  Not that I was eating poorly; I kept my carbs under 200 grams per day which is what a normal, healthy adult female should be able to consume.  Well not if you are a diabetic.  As a Type 2 diabetic I shouldn't be having any more than 125 grams of carbs at most and that's if my numbers were "under control."  Well they aren't right now though they are better and I have to have as few grams of carbs as possible which is extremely challenging.  No bread, no pasta, no rice, no carrots, no corn, no potatoes, no peas, no winter squash varieties, very limited dried beans, and very limited fruits.  All of which were staples in our menu previously, especially the rice and beans. 

There are things I can have and I'm trying to make the most of it.  I can have hard cheeses in reasonable amounts.  I can eat lean cuts of meat in reasonable amounts.  I can eat greens, I can have minute amounts of dressing to choke all of those greens down with but none of the other stuff that I used to make it palatable ... carrots, croutons, bacon bits, etc.  The only thing I'm drinking is water.  I can't drink any tea (herbal or otherwise) until I can find out if they set me off or react with my meds.  Oh that reminds me, no honey either, at least for now.

As I said, this changes a lot of things in my pantry plans as well as my health plans for possible future scenarios.  The one truly bright spot that I've found is that a brisk thirty to forty minute walk after every meal will drop my blood glucose quite a bit ... but I don't always have the time or ability to walk after every meal and snack.  I walk between 10 and 20 thousand steps a day on a normal day according to my pedometer.  Adding more exercise in is a challenge, but it is one that I am going to have to come to terms with and conquer.

Yes I am now on meds.  I'm not completely comfortable with the new routine and I'm aware that some people don't care for metformin (glucose), lisinpril (kidneys), and the statins (cholesterol).  I'm aware that people have reason to have some concern.  But for me this is what there is for now.  I do not ever want to get to the point that I need to be on insulin so it is either fight now or suffer later.  My goal is to be off medication eventually but that is going to take time.  For now medication is the tool I have so medication is what I'm going to use to start with ... but it isn't the only tool.  Diet and finding more time to exercise is at the top of the "gotta do" list.

So that, in part, in addition to working to meet the needs of my parents, husband, and children is why I have been unable to post more story time.  It is possible that my father will be released to return to their home this upcoming week.  He still has a challenging time ahead of him and my mother right along with him. 

Below is what I have.  I'm sorry that there isn't more but I'm wrapping my head around a lot right now.  Sometimes life changes are challenging even at the best of times and right now isn't the best time to have to deal with something like this.  But it certainly isn't your fault, dear friends, so as always please forgive me.  I will try and have more between now and Monday.

Emi on the Caloosahatchee
Zombies Aren't Real ... Are They?!
A Girl Called Jack

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Today's Update - 7 Jul 2015

I feel like I've fallen down a well and I'm just now climbing close to the top ... or at least close enough that I realize I still have a bit to go yet but at least it is lighter than the inside of a black cat.

For those that don't know my father was hospitalized ... again, though I've lost count which one that was ... for severe chest pains while in the hyperbaric chamber.  Turns out that it was from two things ... dehydration and some type of blood pressure problem that I can't remember the name of where it fluctuates based on whether you are lying down, sitting down, or standing up.  The blood pressure issue will have to wait until he is healed enough to determine whether it is permanent or a temporary aberration due to his heart surgery/valve replacement.  The dehydration means changing his habits ... again.  He is so cranky about constantly being told what to do but he forgets whether he is drinking enough ... he'll say yes I just finished a glass of water only we know he finished the glass of water with his morning pills and it is getting close to lunch.  He feels like he is being treated like a child.  While I sympathize it doesn't change the fact that he still needs help remembering and monitoring so many basic things.  He tries to not be foul all the time but his patience for this whole situation is wearing thin.

But the good news is ... his open wound is now healed enough that he no longer requires the wound vac.  I would show you the before and after pictures but they are fairly disgusting and I'm not sure Dad would be comfortable with it.  Suffice it to say ... ewwwwww.  He still has what is considered an "open" wound but not the kind that goes down to muscle tissue.  Its depth is measured in millimeters now as opposed to inches.  He still goes to the wound center every day and on most of those days I drive though Mom has become much more independent about transporting him places.  Mostly it is just she wants me there for moral support and I suppose she just gets plain lonely.  At this point Dad is more ready to go home than Mom is.  Unless something comes up I figure they will return home no later than the end of July.  Dad keeps saying "one more week" but I'm not sure how realistic that is or whether his wound doctor will have released him in "one more week."  Mom doesn't want to leave until he is released because she worries what that will do to their insurance and their ability to get him additional treatment if/when it is needed.  On that at least I agree with her.

On other fronts I have stayed very busy as well.  My parents in the house has made keeping house a huge challenge.  Mom and Dad both are pack rats and tend to procrastinate about cleaning up their stuff.  I can't live like that; it is the wrong kind of chaos for me.  At the very least a dirty dish/glass needs to make its way to the sink or dishwasher rather than just lying lazily where ever it was last used.  My mother's sewing stuff and other half-finished projects keep migrating all over the house as well.  About the only thing that I now have better control over is my frig and freezer and the canning supplies.  My kitchen counters are still cluttered but at least the produce has been processed and is ready for canning this week.

I'm not going to show what a disgusting mess the rest of my storage area is ... shudder ... but at least I can show that I have been doing some canning.

This isn't even close to all of it.  There are quarts of soup on another shelf, pints of mushrooms, pints of apple bbq sauce, jelly jars of various jams and preserves, etc etc etc.  I was going to do some more canning today but got a call first thing this morning that they had to take my daughter who is away at summer camp to a walk in clinic.  Turns out to be not strep as suspected but a sinus infection that the doctor up there decided didn't warrant sending her home but did warrant a z-pak.  Her brother is flying her home on Friday so at this point all I can do is accept it and try not to be helicopter mom and worry it to death.  It isn't like this same brother - who is working the boys' side of the camp for the summer - wasn't quarantined last week because he caught pink eye from one of the campers in the preceding session.  Seems like it if isn't one thing it is another.  Every year I have to relearn just why I come out of the summer months traumatized ... between the business and the kids it is a wonder hubby and I aren't bald as a cue ball.

My normal stress relievers aren't as available as usual.  The kids have been gone a lot more so my helpers are otherwise occupied.  I haven't had as much time to write as I would like.  I've said it before but it bears repeating.  It isn't because I don't want to write but because when I have the time to my brain won't cooperate.  The stories are like trying to hold onto slippery electric eels.  The tighter you try and grab them and make them do what you want them to, the more they fight and bite to get away.  However, I think I do have enough to post an update so here it is:

Will post late, late tonight or sometime tomorrow.
A Bunch of Wild Thyme
Dark Days
Emi on the Caloosahatchee
Zombies Aren't Real ... Are They?!
A Girl Called Jack

Tonight's vids are examples of the soups that people can.  I am definitely going to give the recipe for French onion soup a try though I'll can it in pints instead of quarts.  I'm also going to can some garbanzo bean soup, my chili mix that had kidney beans and group beef in it, and my grandmother's recipe for vegetable soup that has beef in it.  Finding beef soup bones has been a project in and of itself.  I'm also going to can some chicken soup base and a few other odds and ends but that's for later.  For now, here are the vids.


Making and canning French Onion Soup

Split Pea Soup

Chicken a la King Soup

Monday, June 22, 2015

Today's Update - 22 Jun 2015

Oh my gosh!  My house is a mess!!  And yes the exclamation points are absolutely fitting.  I can't remember my house ever being this big of a mess.  I'm going nuts.  I love my parents.  I love my parents.  I love my parents.  But honestly trying to keep up with the mess they've gotten used to making is making me twitch.

Now some of the mess is ok and to be expected; you can't add two grown people to a household without expecting some extra mess.  But add in that my parents simply aren't able to do for themselves the way they used to plus the fact that they've gotten out of the habit of cleaning up after themselves as they make the mess plus all of the extra produce and canning equipment sitting around on my kitchen counter tops and dining room table and ... it really is an oh my gosh worthy situation.

I'll live of course but I swear having a house this messy is making me itch.  Literally.  And nothing is getting done out in the yard.  Nothing.  The yard is turning into a jungle.  And in Florida that is not the exaggeration that some people think it is.  On the plus size one of my papayas has started to fruit.

I've probably mentioned that I've been canning.  Below are some pictures of just a little bit of what I've been doing.
What isn't showing is the seven quarts of green beans thus far processed.  We have about another ten or eleven to go and Mom wants to get some more beans when Sav-a-lot gets a new batch in.  Sav-a-lot is where I got the pineapples for 99 cents each.  We have about fifteen now to work with.  Tonight I cored two of the ripest.  I love my pineapple corer.  It makes the job sooooo much easier.  Below is what I got off of just two of the pineapples ... and I have two pineapple tops to plant once I get the right growing medium for them.  One gallon of flesh/pulp, skins to go in the compost, and two pineapples top for planting not bad for less than ten minutes of work.  Tomorrow I'll core a couple of more and get at least a few pints canned up using unsweetened pineapple juice.
I was a little give out or I planned on making Dutch Apple Pie Jam and Maple Apple Preserves.  I also need to make some Strawberry Pineapple Conserve but that is going to have to wait until tomorrow as well.  Tonight I have some business filing and data entry to take care of and I also want to try and get some more writing and editing done.  I may be up until something A.M. but I'm having one of those "too much caffeine" kinda days.
Thus far I have the following posted:
Up On Hartford Ridge
A Bunch of Wild Thyme
Dark Days
Emi on the Caloosahatchee
Zombies Aren't Real ... Are They?!
A Girl Called Jack
Tonight's vids continue the theme of preserving food.  I'll be doing that a lot this summer ... or that is the plan.  I really need to get ahead of the game and since I'm rotating out a lot of my pantry I need to rotate back in some good stuff.
I actually prefer my method of canning pineapple.  You can find the method in the latest Ball Blue Book cookbook.  All it contains is fresh pineapple and unsweetened pineapple juice.  You can it in pints.  The other thing I do different is I cut the top off so that I can grow it and then use a pineapple corer that gives me nice neat rings.  You can cut the rings if you want to make chunks or tidbits, that's up to you.  My corer came from wallyworld for less that five bucks.  Easy peezy lemon squeezy.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Today's Update - 19 Jun 2015

The Storms of Life

Me oh my oh.  Feel like I am living in Crazy Town.  My life is normally on the hectic side and I'm used to it and don't fritz out too much over it but gotta say I have made it to a whole 'nother level of crazy chaos these days.

Don't get me wrong, it is worth it.  My father's wound has shrunk so much even the doctors who brag on that hyperbaric oxygen treatment are falling all over themselves to get pictures of it.  In less that two weeks the wound went from a depth of over 5 to a less than 1.  The width went from an 8 to a little less than 2.  The length is still the same but generally speaking the length of the wound is usually the last to start shrinking.  Wounds like my dad has heal from the bottom up, then at the width as the swelling goes down and then lastly at the length.  The staph infection was really bad and in that same roughly two weeks he's gone from a white blood cell count of over 22,000 to a little under 8,000 ... in other words back into normal range.  They took the pic line out yesterday and he is now on oral antibiotics for two weeks.  He still had the wound vac but the wound is getting so shallow that it is mostly providing protection rather than getting much drainage off of the wound.  And yes, I know all of this medical stuff can seem gross but it is quite an education, one that I am finding extremely valuable.

I get told over and over that one of the biggest benefits is that we are managing to keep my dad's diabetes in check.  I give him a yogurt (probiotic) and a good meal for breakfast so that when he goes into the HBOT chamber his sugar is about 190 and when he comes out it is down to about 120 or lower.  His sugar has been averaging about 150 which has been unheard of for dad since he was diagnosed a few years ago.  Controlling his diabetes allows his body to regenerate faster.

All of this has been very hard on him.  He is very tired as his body is being pushed to constantly be at work ... healing, speeding up his metabolism, building new blood flow, rebuilding muscle, returning his coordination and cognition, utilizing the strong antibiotics effectively, etc.  They tell us he won't actually completely be able to regain his full strength for some months to come ... up to a year.  Between the double by-pass, valve replacement, necrotic gallbladder, and subsequent staph infection poor dad is lucky to be alive.  Thank the Good Lord Above for modern medicine.  Makes me more determined than ever to keep up with my own issues and be aware of the medical concerns that I may have inherited. 

One of the things that I've been doing is getting back to canning our own foods.  Thus far I've canned three different no- and low-sugar jams.  Mom and I also canned seven pints of pickled squash (I used yellow crookneck squash and Vidalia onions).  Today I hope to get started on canning my own no-sugar-added pineapple when I got such a good deal on pineapples (99 cents each from Save-a-lot).  Tomorrow or Sunday I want to see if I can find some green beans that I can snap and can.  I'd love to get about a bushel of them done but until I can find the beans I can't say how much I can afford to buy.  I'm going to try and can up some watermelon jam using both yellow and red watermelons.  I need to get some cantaloupe jam done as well.  Then I've got about 8 different juices waiting to be turned into jellies.  That doesn't include all of the convenience foods that I want to can like soups, chili, sloppy joes, spaghetti and pizza sauce, etc.

Believe it or not I've actually managed to get some writing and editing accomplished.  The updated stories are:
Up On Hartford Ridge
A Bunch of Wild Thyme
Dark Days
Emi on the Caloosahatchee
Zombies Aren't Real ... Are They?!
A Girl Called Jack

Thanks to "headlesshorseman" from PAW Fiction for the suggestion about the editing trouble I'm having with "Geek".  There's a hidden macro in there somewhere and the only way for me to find it is to show all of the commands and dig through it.  I found one but there is at least one more causing me grief.  Almost though, and I am ready to put that story to bed.

For today's vids I decided to include some good ones on making low sugar jams (an fruit roll ups) from scratch.  Hope you find them useful.

This one uses Pamona Pectin

Monday, June 15, 2015

Quick Update - `15 Jun 2015

The new addition to Up On Hartford Ridge is now up.  Sorry for the delay but yesterday my dad took a fall and when mom tried to catch him she went down too.  Nothing broken but plenty of bruises and I've spent last night and today dealing with the aftermath.  Thanks for the understanding and again I apologize for the delay.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Today's Update - 14 Jun 2015

Here's a silly little ditty that my father remembers from when he was a kid.  I laugh in all the appropriate places even though I've heard the stories so many times before.  To me this shows his memory is starting to fill the holes back in.

One bright day in the middle of the night,
Two dead boys got up to fight.
Back to back they faced each other,
drew their swords and shot each other.
A deaf policeman heard the noise
and ran to save the two dead boys.
If you don't believe this lie is true,
ask the blind man, he saw it, too.

Not only is the ditty silly but so am I.  So tired I'm silly.  Today is the first day off I'm going to have from transporting Dad and Mom to various doctors for almost two weeks.  It seems no matter how I arrange things I just don't have any time at the end of the day to write like I had planned.  It is driving me a bit crazy.  In fact I'm not getting much of anything done beyond playing taxi cab driver.  On top of it I am barely keeping up with the house and business.  Strike that, I'm not keeping up with either of those things either.  Last night I'd finally had enough of being less than productive and got my daughters to help me do some overdrive work ... kitchen, family room, breakfast area, living room, bathrooms, laundry, etc.  None of it is as clean as I would like it to be but at least it is cleaner than it was.  Amazing how much mess two extra adults can make, especially when they spread their stuff through the house creating little piles of stuff that doesn't belong where it winds up.  Then add in all of the mess my dad's medical supplies make ... even in my frig with his insulin and antibiotics ... and no matter how much I clean and pick up nothing every seems to stay clean for more than an hour or two.  My parents have just gotten used to letting things go and as busy as we are I just can't live like that.  Too much chaos make Mother Hen a cranky ol' bird.

The other thing I did yesterday was two small batches of sugar free (as in no sugar at all) jams using my Ball brand automatic jam maker.  The first batch was strawberry.

I got that batch made and then went on to the next batch which was strawberry-blueberry no-sugar jam.
Took about six pounds of strawberries plus two of blueberries to get both batches made.

Ignore the old and broken spice jars in the background.  Ugh.

I made it using

This was my first run with my jam maker despite having purchased it earlier this year and I realized right off the bat that I need to adjust a few things.  Even though I am supposed to put the pectin evenly on the bottom before the fruit I will probably need to thoroughly mix the pectin in with the puree beforehand.  The first batch I tried the pectin stayed on the bottom and cooked/burnt there.  Ick.  Mixing it in made for a much better product.  I'm not sure if that is true of all pectins or if it is a particular problem with the low-sugar/no-sugar type.

Sorry for taking so long to get any story but I gotta do what I gotta do.  The stories that I've updated include:

Up On Hartford Ridge
Still doing a little clean up on this one but it will be up by the end of the day.
A Bunch of Wild Thyme
Dark Days
Emi on the Caloosahatchee
Zombies Aren't Real ... Are They?!
A Girl Called Jack
Prelude and Chapter 1 is up.  This one is a little "out there" as far as the volcanic disaster genre goes but it was fun to write.  Will probably go up slow as I don't have a lot of time for editing right now and this one really needs it.

Only have one video for you today but hopefully you will find it fun and useful.  It's on how to make a pie crust using a Duncan Hines cake mix.  Now think about that for a second.  How much fun could you have making different flavored pie crusts that way?  Strawberry pie with a chocolate crust?  Key Lime Pie with a pineapple crust?  Squash Pie with a carrot cake crust?  Or even one of those no-bake pies (ice cream or cool whip type things) with a flavored crust?  Lots of possibilities with this one.

Thanks for being understanding.  Enjoy!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Today's Update - 4 Jun 2015

"Like sand through an hourglass, these are the days of our lives ...."

Anyone remember that?  Been feeling like I'm walking through a bit of a soap opera lately.  Nothing I can't handle and mostly from outside influences but still, not what I need right now.  However life does go on and found out that my father has been approved for hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT).  I'm told this is a very, very good thing.  We'll see.  I've been trying to keep my expectations in line with reality.  While Dad is improving in some areas, in others he is barely staying on course.  The antibiotics for the staph are really kicking his tail.  I give it to him three times a day through his pic line.  Matter of fact I do most of the medical stuff except change the wound dressing ... I even change out the cartridge on the wound vac as my mom isn't strong enough to.  I'm hoping this new treatment does what they say it will.  He has to go to the wound center six days out of seven to spend ninety minutes in a hyperbaric chamber on pure oxygen.  They've ordered 40 sessions.  OMG.  I hope my dad's patience doesn't run thin.

But a praise report and something I'm really proud of us for.  My dad's daily morning sugar reading has been staying between 130 and 150.  This was unheard of before when it ranged into the 200s.  My only concern is that the HBOT tends to speed up people's metabolism and this may cause the sugar to drop too low.  We'll have to watch things very carefully.

Trying to tend to my parents, keep my house in order, take care of the family, and help run the business is taking a lot more time than I had budgeted for.  There is very little room for "extras" during the day.  Posting daily may be out until late summer unless I can arrange things better.  That said, just because I don't put an update doesn't mean that I may not update a story between times. 

I did finally manage a thorough re-red of "UOHR" and also got the first addition to it up tonight.

Stories that have been updated:
Up On Hartford Ridge
A Bunch of Wild Thyme
Dark Days
Emi on the Caloosahatchee
Zombies Aren't Real ... Are They?!

I'm sorry that I don't have time to do a vid search but I'll try and include some interesting ones on the next update.

Thanks for your patience.


Monday, June 1, 2015

Today's Update - 1 Jun 2015

Ever had a time in your life where it feels like there has been a full moon for about three years running?  That's where I'm at right now.  On the days I don't personally feel crazy it feels like most of the people affecting my life are.

As I've mentioned we made the decision to move my parents in with us until they could get back on their feet after some pretty serious physical issues my father has had.  Thus far it has been three surgeries in less than two months.  I'm not sure how my mother has been able to do it for so long.  This last surgery was a surprise.  The wound from his second surgery wasn't healing properly, had to be "abraded" which pretty much means they went in and scrubbed out the infection and any associated dead tissue and he subsequently came home from the hospital with a pic line for intravenous antibiotics and a wound pump to drain off fluid build up.  We already arranged for home health care to come in but we will still be handling most of everything.  Where it appears we dodged a bullet is that my father's reaction to the sedation was not as severe this time because we didn't have to deal with the Delaudid/Cipro side effects.  The man has an open wound and is only taking OTC meds for pain.  Told him I would get him a blue spandex unitard and red cape and Mom and I would sew a big red "S" on the chest just for him.  Hmmm ... he was not amused. 

Not fun getting put into the position of the "bad guy" when it comes to snacks and menu planning but it is what it is; he and Mom both need healthier eating habits.  I'd love to say they are old enough that eating what they want won't adversely affect their quality of life but that simply isn't true.  Sugar and carbs are the big baddies in the room right now but there is also sodium and fats.  Plus he needs more protein to rebuild the muscle he has lost from being bed-bound so much.  I'm actually enjoying modifying his favorite recipes and he's being a good sport about eating the resulting experiments.  Although with as hungry as he has been it isn't getting him to eat that is the challenge so much as keeping my mother from giving him (sneaking him) "snacks" to abate his misery. Fun, fun, fun.

I haven't been able to finish the writing projects that have been on my to do list but I hope to achieve some kind of streamlined schedule soon.  At-home intravenous antibiotics three times per day, in home health care two and three times per week, physical therapy starting today so I don't know yet, cooking three meals and two snacks per day, the extra cleaning and precautions for infection control, doctors' appointments, two extra pets in the house, and so much more is taking up a lot of the "free time" I was hoping to have this summer.  That doesn't even include the activities my kids are in and having my adult son gone leaving the things he normally does for us for someone else to pick up ... ugh.  Ugh.  UGH.

I missed adding new trees to my edible landscaping but hopefully I'll be able to get some tropical in this fall.  I have a few sitting in pots from last planting time and made the mistake of thinking I would get to them this time.  Looks like they'll get a re-pot before they'll get a re-plant.

The pond area at the back of our property that backs up to the swamp is getting out of control again.  I may just have to lay weed paper down in the worst of the areas and then mulch it the best I can though a couple of areas are fairly steep.  The real problem is the plants growing in the pond.  Since I'm fond of neither snakes nor gators it may be time to hire a professional to get those pulled out again.

Ew, making myself antsy thinking of all the things there are to do that aren't getting done.  Time to refocus so on to the story updates.  Before the end of the day I will have the following stories added to:
A Bunch of Wild Thyme
Emi on the Caloosahatchee
Zombies Aren't Real ... Are They?!
Dark Days

I'm also hoping to have a new entry for Up on Hartford Ridge but that depends on whether I have any unexpected nails pop up that I need to hammer back down.

Today's vids fall under the key word "safety."  Ever wonder why you aren't supposed to pour water on an oil fire?  The Slo-Mo guys explain it and give good video of the result.

The next video shows that storing fuel in glass containers is akin to a Molotov cocktail.  Hint:  definitely not something to do at home.  Just let crazies like the Slo-Mo guys do the experiment for you.

The following is an oldie but a goodie from 1949 outlining safety in the kitchen.  My mother said she'd even seen this one in one of her home ec classes.  LOL.
One of the funniest safety videos comes to us from Air New Zealand, especially if you enjoy The Lord of the Ring series.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Today's Update - 27 May 2015

Unfortunately my father's health has had another set back and I'm in the midst of helping my parents.  We did get them moved in with us but little else has been accomplished.  Will try and update further in the next day or two.

I have been working on the stories so check the usual suspects.  The links for the stories in motion are on the right hand side of the page:
  • A Bunch of Wild Thyme
  • Emi on the Caloosahatchee
  • Zombies Aren't Real ... Are They?!
  • Dark Days
I'm still doing a reread of Up On Hartford Ridge and hope to get additions to that started soon.  Right now I'm travelling daily to the hospital and don't have much internet access to load stuff up until I get home and by then I'm either exhausted or dealing with other responsibilities.  I will get things going in the right direction but I have to prioritize the needs of my parents right now.

Thanks for everyone's kind wishes and prayers.  They are appreciated and I hold them near to me during these difficult days.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Short Update - 20 May 2015

Had a nice long update but power blipped and I lost it while blogger was trying to save it.  So, just a quick one to let you know that I've been adding bits and pieces to the usual suspects.  I'm still trying to figure out why the last entry for "Geeks" won't post and show up.  May have to completely retype it.  Ugh.

My dad's recovery is going to be very slow.  Doctor's say upwards of a year.  Tentatively they will be staying with us two months, we'll re-evaluate that as that point approaches.  Hubby and I have put our summer vacation on hold but the kids will continue to do their thing.  The sacrifice is worth it if it gets my parents back on their feet physically and financially.

The links for the stories in motion are on the right hand side of the page:
  • A Bunch of Wild Thyme
  • Emi on the Caloosahatchee
  • Zombies Aren't Real ... Are They?!
  • Dark Days
I'm also doing a reread of Up On Hartford Ridge and hope to get additions to that started possibly this weekend.  Depends on the logistics of moving my parents down on Friday.

Thanks for putting up with my crazy schedule! 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Today's Update - 5 May 2015

(That's not the sun, that is the full moon we've been experiencing.
Photo was taken about 8 pm.)
Well it if isn't one thing it is certainly going to be another.  Now on top of all of the other medical issues my father has been facing post-heart surgery he is now going to have to have gallbladder surgery.  My poor mother is at her wits end.  We are trying to get them to come live with us for at least a few weeks, and they want to, but events keep interfering.  Faith tells me to put it in God's hands and trust in His timing.  My humanity tells me to stomp around and have a hissy fit at everything getting in the way of my wants.  If this is a test of some sort I'll admit to struggling. 
Having nothing but good things happen doesn't make for many opportunities to become a stronger person.  Wish that wasn't the way it is but apparently that's the way the human race has turned out to be.  We need adversity and challenges to grow and be the best we can be.  Someone once said that the strongest steel is forged by the hottest fire.  I hope that is true and applicable to humans as well.  If it is then by the time life is finished forging me I should be positively "stainless."

I'm trying to work on writing but I'm running into challenges there as well.  I've got the last bit of "Geek" written and in draft mode but something in the formatting is having a battle with blogger.  I post it and it just isn't showing up.  Something is being read as code and I have to go through each little blurp until I find what is going on.  If I can get it posted tonight I will but I have to be honest, I'm very tired and not finding a lot of patience for something that isn't obvious.  I'll get it up as soon as I can.

Below is what I have added to.  Also, I have decided that in a few days I will start finishing the next one which will be "Hartford."  I'd like to finish that one by the end of June at the latest.  It may very well be sooner but I'm not going to even try and guess because if I have my parents to look after and have to deal with a lot of summer activities for the kids plus the business goes crazy during the summer ... you get the idea.  Let's just leave it at Hartford being the next on the list to finish.

Zombies Aren't Real ... Are They?!
A Bunch of Wild Thyme
Emi on the Caloosahatchee
Today's vids have absolutely no purpose beyond entertainment.  My brain is positively fried which sent me off in a weird direction on the internet.  From one search to another and then another ... I fell into looking at what all could be deep fried.  Trust me, you don't want to know.  There is one channel on youtube where this guy deep fries positively everything.  The ones that I'm posting aren't quite that bad but should give some of you a giggle.
Deep Fried Pickles
Deep Fried Mashed Potatoes
Deep Fried Butter On A Stick
Deep Fried Oreos

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Today's Update - 3 May 2015

(Three of the palms in my front yard.  They are much taller than you can tell from this picture.  In the wind they sway and the sound of the fronds rubbing together is almost hypnotic.)
Yesterday was been what my father would call a long day at black rock.  Add to that a full moon bringing all the crazies out and you can imagine how work came hand over fist.  Day didn't start off too bad but about 1:30 it is like the bottom dropped out of everyone's minds.
Had a softball game at 8 am.  Weather was cool with only a little wind but the ball was wet by the dew on the field.  Didn't seem like the girls could keep a hold of the flaming thing.  Then halfway through they finally came alive and my Sporty Girl hit two doubles and a home run with an RBI of 9 for the game.  Not too shabby.  Not too shabby at all.  And that's with a sore knee where she got capped by a low line drive at Thursday's practice.  Came home and the man was there to fix the sprinklers.  We could have done it but the guy owed us a few bucks on an AC he nicked the copper line on while doing some landscaping.  It was a good barter.
But by 1 pm the day began sliding.  Everyone seemed to want everything three days before they ask for it.  Too many people with excuses why they weren't going to have the rent until the end of the month and didn't want to pay the late payment.  We had one break in to a unit we were getting ready for a new move in and we suspect the former tenant's brother but with no proof there isn't a thing we can do about it but suck it up.  Work day wasn't over with until almost midnight. 
Came home to try and find some good things after a hard day and what do I see when I pull in?  Our magnolia tree starting to rock some blooms.

Then I round the walk and my gardenia bush is just loaded as well.

And then right at the door there is a beautiful hibiscus.

It was a blessing that I needed and refreshed me.  But obviously not enough that I could write last night.  LOL!  Here is what I have been able to update thus far today:

Zombies Aren't Real ... Are They?!
A Bunch of Wild Thyme
Emi on the Caloosahatchee
Geek Inherit the Earth
(I hope to have this up before the end of the day.  Blogger is pitching a fit about some hidden formatting in the file that I need to find.)

Today's videos have to do with the fact that you likely have an edible landscape whether you realize it or not, all you need is a little investigation.  One of these days I hope to find ways to make most of the things in my yard edible or useful in some other way. 

The first vid is on making homemade hibiscus tea.