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.