Me Monday: Holiday Traditions

Ah Christmas, the most “wonderful time of year”.
Are you a “traditional” family? Mom, dad, kids and fur babies?
Or a blended family? Step parent, parent, step siblings?
How about a single parent family?
A huge family with in laws, outlaws, steps this way and that way?
The holidays have sure changed from the time of It’s a Wonderful Life or Miracle on 34th Street. Now we have The Santa Claus and Bad Santa. Cartoons aren’t like the classics; Charlie Brown’s Christmas, Frosty or The Grinch. Now we have The Nightmare Before Christmas, The Polar Express and Prep & Landing. We need to fit in everyone’s holiday schedules. Who works what? When will we have the kids? When do we need to be at the in laws?
Many years ago, it came from a letter from my father: He knew I was growing and now with husband and child, things wouldn’t be the same. He “gave me permission” to have my own family traditions. By giving me permission, it made it easier to not feel guilty about not being somewhere. We scheduled our Christmas’s earlier or many times on New Years Eve, that way we got to have time to be together instead of HI!!! blah blah blah, gobble gobble gobble, open presents, thank you and off to the next stop. As the four of us girls grew up, got married (and divorced) and had kids (and step kids), the holidays became overwhelming again.
We got to the point where we had the kids write down their Christmas wishes and to make sure the wishes weren’t on anyone else’s lists. Then we had to decide which grandparent got what wish. We had family traditions that were over ruled by other’s traditions. Our kids were tired and over stimulated at the end of the day and when they got bigger, they just got bored.
When our kids grew up and out of the house, got jobs, married and had kids, we made some changes. I gave the kids the same “permission” my father had many years ago and we didn’t want to be the cause of crying kids, tired parents or over worked grandparents (B and I). We have our Christmas (usually) the weekend before the actual day. We get to have them relaxed; we get to feed them; we get to see the smiles on the kids faces instead of the tears from being over tired (OK, we sometimes get the tears too). We talk, play games (Nerf guns were the best until we broke out the silly string), we make memories instead of minutes of just saying hi!!
Does it bother me we are unable to celebrate on the actual holiday? Not as much as it bothers me I don’t get to see my kids and grandkids enough throughout the year. I have been able to work in days with my son where all we do is make cookies…That kid can rock out Ting a Lings, Rice Krispie treats and chocolate chip cookies! I have had days were mom and I have take a weekend to bake cookies…way too many cookies! Those are the memories I love.
Making Cake Bite Snowmen
The one tradition I truly miss is with my grandma. When my son was very little she and I would get in the car about 9 am, take off to the mall to shop, eat and then go look at Christmas lights. My kiddo would sleep most of the day; it was like a 10 hour day some times. And my grandma was just 5 ft and 125 lbs…but such a trooper! When she and the kiddo got older, we would tour the neighborhood looking at Christmas lights. I haven’t had a Christmas tree in about three years, but I always always always have Christmas lights.
What are your family traditions? Would you like to share?
Christmas is the spirit of giving without a thought of getting. It is happiness because we see joy in people. It is forgetting self and finding time for others. It is discarding the meaningless and stressing the true values.
Thomas S. Monson

Me Monday: Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays.
I love food. That’s all there is to it. I love the turkey, the stuffing, the green bean casserole, the corn, the mashed potatoes and gravy; maybe not so much the cranberry sauce. The rolls, the pecan pie (NOT the pumpkin pie), the appetizers and yes, I truly pay for it afterwards, just like most people. Oh yeah, can’t forget the sweet potatoes and rolls!
What about family and friends? A day to come together, eat, drink and watch football: or if you are like me, peruse the Black Friday Ads; making a strategic plan of if I have to get out of bed and actually go someplace at 5 am or can I just purchase it online: that’s the way I usually go, online!
So, in order to help you decide your Thanksgiving meal, I have scouted, collected, pinned (click here for my Pinterest Board)  and here I will post; What is on my table every year!
You can never have too many appetizers. Can you? How do you control your hunger?
Deviled eggs (one of my all time favorites)
eggs, mayo, mustard, salt/pepper, paprika and white vinegar.
Cheese ball with crackers
My favorite is a simple Bacon Cheddar Cheese Ball
cream cheese (I would even substitute a block of cream cheese for a block of cream cheese mixed with chives), cheddar cheese, bacon, green onion, Worcestershire sauce. Not a fan of the pecans on the outside, I would cook more bacon and use instead of the pecans.
Veggie Tray
You can include: grape tomatoes, carrots, celery, green, red or/and yellow peppers, olives (both green and black), radishes, broccoli, cauliflower, midget pickles (both dill and sweet), mushrooms, cucumbers and whatever else you want to add to it. Add some home made Ranch Dip and you are good to go!
When I do mine, I use 2 lemons, 2 oranges & 1 white or yellow onion. I stuff the cavity with these after I have cut them into 1/4’s. I baste my bird with butter, onion & garlic powder, poultry seasoning, salt & pepper and a splash of Worcestershire sauce. Love how juicy it is and the hints of the citrus in the meat is YUMMO!
I am no pro at gravy, unless it’s cream gravy. So, I use the jarred gravy (see, I HAVE to make real potatoes as everything else is pretty much canned, frozen, or jarred)
Mashed Potatoes
In my Thanksgiving (rule) book, one should never use instant potatoes for Turkey dinner. I know, I know, they are more convenient and easier, but I saw, if I have to make instant potatoes, I won’t make them at all. Just a personal preference.
salt & pepper, butter and cream, simple and easy. You could add cream cheese, cheddar cheese or even garlic.
While I frown upon instant potatoes, I find I can’t compete with instant stuffing mix. I eat this as dinner on some nights, I love it that much!
**Ever tried Stuffin Muffins? Click here for the recipe
I use frozen corn. I find it has a better flavor than canned and it holds more of the “nutrients” (not sure how much nutrients corn has, but…) All I add is some butter, salt & pepper. I love to mix it up too, some yellow and some white corn!
Note: If I don’t have potatoes and corn, my boys aren’t happy. They will mix them together and they make a HUGE pile of it.
Sweet Potatoes
Here, I use the can version; I know… Sweet potatoes (in sauce from the can), some butter pats on top and then brown sugar and of course Marshmallows. Be careful here…marshmallows are highly flammable and I’m not saying there has ever been a dish of sweet potatoes that have ever caught fire on one or more occasions, I’m just sayin, be careful.
**Note, no firemen were involved in any of the alleged fires
Fried onions, green beans, cream of mushroom soup, (soy sauce ?) milk and pepper
Your preference here. I would rather make them, but who has time anymore? I love the frozen ones more than I like the brown and serve ones. Don’t forget to get extras for the left over turkey sandwiches.
Pecans, eggs, corn syrup, cinnamon, butter and vanilla. Heaven on a plate!
Don’t forget the freshly made whipped cream or maybe even vanilla ice cream!
Pumpkin Pie….from a store (remember, I don’t like it so, I won’t make it… OK, that’s not really true. I will make one, IF I have time)
Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.
William Arthur Ward
***This blog contains links to other’s Pinterest recipes, no infringement meant. If you would not like your link shared here, please message me and I will remove***

Me Monday: Anniversary, Pokemon and the Kiddo

I have to say, this past weekend was one of the best I have had in awhile. See, it was my anniversary; hubby and I have been married for 22 years. Which, when you look back on our years, it’s kind of amazing he has stuck with me. Between the illnesses, the stress of working three jobs and me just being a complete pain, he has truly honored the wedding vows; in sickness and in health, for worse or for better. Don’t get me wrong, he’s been a handful too! He has one of those faces, when he is listening to you, he looks like he’s about to explode: but he is the best father and grandfather and would move mountains for anyone in the family or friends.
My son also came to visit!!! Whooo!!! There is something about a mother’s bond with her son(s), that’s truly amazing. He and I have been through a lot too and I am pleased to say, he turned out awesome! He has a great career (sometimes, I think he takes too much on himself), he is respectful, wears his heart on his sleeve and has really never given me a bad day! (OK, there was that one…two times)
Friday night we all (B, A and I) went out downtown and did some Pokemon Hunting. I know, it’s so last year (at least that’s what my niece tells me), but it gets me out of the house and A is one who will make me get out and walk. We have to battle and take over the gyms. Catch the little fellows and he is trying to teach me what he knows in just three days. I have battled and taken over more gyms this weekend and I know I can battle without him, but it’s the time spent with him that makes my heart full! B and Max went with us Friday night too and poor little Max hasn’t had one of the long walks in quite a few months, so after walking eight blocks he was one pooped pup! I was right there with him. EXhausted!
Saturday, we took A up to the Grand Mesa and out to Lands End. It was a balmy 45° and the wind was blowing around 10-15 mph; so, it was COLD! But the view from Lands End over the Grand Valley was awesome; while most of the Aspens have turned and lost their colors, the Scrub Oaks were beautiful! The lower part of the Mesa was filled with brilliant oranges and reds on both the Aspens and Scrub Oaks which made for a great time! I did see some wildlife this time and I did get a photo of them. Blue Jays and of course there were chipmunks too! A few couples were already up there and feeding them, so they were in hog heaven!
We stopped at a small shop called the AppleShed, in Cedaredge: they produce their own hard ciders and I have been told, the Carmel Apple is fantastic. Must be so, since they no longer had any in stock! So, the boys got to do a tasting and we walked out with some fantastic hard ciders. I don’t drink, but I did get some apple juice and man oh man, that is some smooth apple juice!! YUMMO!
Sunday was a day for just A and I and Pokies! We were out for four hours catching, battling and spinning (if you have no idea what Pokemon Go is, here is the link to check it out). Another two miles walked, out in the sunshine, and just taking in the cool fall air. Lunch was with family at Olive Garden. I love that place, but think their prices are just a smidge high!
And then…Game 5 of the World Series. No, I didn’t watch it. But B, A and Momma did! I listened and I have to say. GO ASTROS!
My perfect weekend is going for a walk with my family in the park. I don’t think there’s anything better.
Anne Wojcicki


Me Monday: My Favorite Pictures

Last year I decided I wanted to start taking pictures: you know, something other than just the phone kind?
Now, not knowing ANYTHING about Digital cameras, I sort of did some research on the different ones and decided I like the Nikon Coolpix l340. I wanted a point and shoot, this would do it. Once I started taking pictures, I wanted to take more of the sky, the moon and the stars, my little camera wouldn’t work for that. For my birthday, my son took me to the store and we “upgraded”, wanting just a bit more, but still within budget, I stayed with the Coolpix and choose the D500, in purple. Now, the kiddo wasn’t happy with the color choice, but I reminded him, it was my camera. So off we went.
Still isn’t exactly what I want; would love to have a DSLR, I really want to take pictures of the stars! For now, I totally love my little purple camera and it suits me just fine. I love it’s so compact, easy to use, not too heavy and takes great pictures.
I have found there are times I want to take pictures and I don’t have my camera with me. What to do, what to do? I use my camera on my phone; takes GREAT pictures (for a phone), always with me and compact.
Here are some of my very favorite pictures.
Moon Shots
 Moon shots are my favorite. It’s a mystery, it’s a force, it stays the same, but is always different.  The moon has been accused of causing craziness on a full moon; but did you also know it’s been blamed to increase ER visits (humans, cats and dogs), sexual activity, auto accidents, murder and suicide. While those may be myth or fact, I love the moon! It’s a calming force within me.

Sunsets and sunrises are the most beautiful time of the day. I see way more sunsets than sunrises, nothing like the sky saying Good Morning or Good Night!

Storm Clouds

These are all taken with my phone camera. The dark black one with the extreme white ones are my most funniest (and probably not such a smart idea). The black is like two seconds before the WHITE of the lightening. I could feel the electricity, see the lightening bolt and where it hit, just across the street to the left of the frame. I jumped and ran back into the house and into my hubby’s arms, where we both just laughed. It was AWESOME!

Flowers and Travel

I love taking photos of flowers, just as much as I do of the moon. This year I didn’t get as many rose photos as I usually do.

“Taking an image, freezing a moment, reveals how rich reality truly is.” …
— Ansel Adams

Me Monday: Snow is Coming

Here in Colorado, October can bring our first snow of the year; and it’s set to hit tonight into tomorrow morning. However, it’s not exactly here, in Grand Junction, where I live, but in my hometown on the “front range” (Denver, Castle Rock, Colorado Springs) are  supposed to get hit with a quick moving storm. They expect 4″- 10″ while we are expecting less than 1″, if any at all. I’m just hoping for rain and for the wind to die down.
What do you do to get prepared for a potential large snow storm? Do you run to the store and grab bread, eggs and milk? B wonders why those three staples, everyone making french toast?
I have to admit, most of the time I just make sure we have at least something to eat for a few days and I generally don’t panic. Last couple of years though, I have made a couple of the last minute dashes to the store (along with 1500 people) to grab more than just staples. I went in, knowing there was a whole lot of people in the store. Got that idea from the long walk from the farthest parking spot in the lot and the lack of shopping carts in the store. While, I was prepared, so many people were complaining (loudly) about the people in the store, the lack of products available (I wasn’t going to make french toast, there was no milk to be had). I kinda thought to myself, self…why are these people complaining, they had the same hints walking into the store, the endless weather updates and warnings for over a week, so….
One of my favorite go to recipes to have when snowed in is Chicken & Dumplings.
chicken and dumplings
Chicken & Dumplings
4 Chicken Breasts or 6 Thighs
2-3 teaspoons of Poultry Seasoning
Salt and Pepper (to taste)
1/2 – 1 Onion Chopped
Olive Oil
1 bag of frozen mixed veggies
Chicken Broth
1 can of Cream of Chicken Soup
1 can of Cream of Onion (Mushroom or Celery can be used too)
1 can of biscuits
In a dutch oven, add a tablespoon of olive oil, chicken and onion.
Cook chicken just to slightly brown, adding salt, pepper and poultry seasoning (to taste).
Add enough Chicken Broth (or Stock) to cover the chicken and the onions.
Add both cans of soup, blend slightly. (You may need to add just a little more liquid).
Simmer chicken in the dutch oven for 45 minutes on low-med heat, stirring occasionally and adding liquid if needed;
Remove chicken and shred, add back to dutch oven also add frozen vegetables and simmer for another 30 minutes.
Cut biscuits into quarters (I usually tear the biscuits), add randomly to the top of the chicken mixture.
Cover with lid
lower heat to low and simmer another 15- 20 minutes; or until biscuits appear dry on top
CAUTION!  They are HOT!
Mashed potatoes are great with these and B adds cheese on top of his.
I hope you love it as much as I do!
The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found?
J. B. Priestley

Me Monday: Crafts & Hobbies

Happy Monday!
Happy Fall!
Happy October!
Today is about me and crafting or rather me and crafting addictions.
I am kind of picky about the crafts I do. But then, you just never know.
I’ve always loved to decorate cakes. I started decorating when my youngest sister graduated high school and I got to make her cake. I had never had any instructions, just picked up the Wilton Yearbook and found what I wanted to do. Back then YouTube wasn’t around and quite frankly, I don’t have patience for YouTube. I would rather do a one on one with someone or a class to learn something new. I can’t ask YouTube questions and they can’t see what I am doing; right or wrong. Cakes were baked, frosting was made and I was going to have to do 50 Royal Icing roses. I had never done roses OR messed with RI. My grandma and I rolled up our sleeves (well, she got up on her stool to watch) and dug in. RI is tricky and if you don’t start out with it correctly made, it won’t work. Except, if you’re me and you just keep trying to fix it. 3/4 can of Royal Icing mix and 250 roses later, my wrist was swollen and in great pain (who knew RI got firmer and firmer with more mix AND more air?). But, I got it done. It wasn’t my best work, but it was my first cake.
One of my last cakes I made after “quitting”
I continued with cake decorating; taking & teaching classes, making them for friends and family and finally running a cakery out of my house. I haven’t done many cakes since I had to quit in 2013 due to my health problems and I had a wedding cake that completely me shook me to my core. I was happy with it, but it wasn’t exactly like the bride wanted so I freaked out. I miss it, but then I look at all the new techniques and get a bit overwhelmed.
Next was ceramics. My mom did that when I was little and also thought it looked fun. I started out with the pieces you paint and not fire and moved onto the unfinished pieces. I really had a great time with those, but after a while, I decided it just wasn’t for me. I have one piece I love and still have.
At 42, I learned to knit (and crochet). It was something I had wanted to learn for some time, so I treated myself to knitting lessons. I now hold the world’s title for most “yarn explosions” and I can complete one kind of blanket and some scarves by knitting and washcloths and towels, with crocheting, that was nice years ago.
I’ve also tried (very unsuccessfully) scrap-booking; I bought lots of fun stuff…with very little results.
Bottle cap jewelry/hair bows/key chains etc. I had a lot of fun with those. They got me through my surgeries. Gave me something to do. I now have about $500 in supplies and $1500 in finished caps!
Coloring; I love to color. It helps reduce my stress and let’s me think without having to pay attention to what I am doing.
Photography; I took this one slower, mainly because I didn’t have the money to purchase the camera I wanted. I received several gift cards for Christmas one year: The camera was on sale, with the GC’s I paid $90 for the camera, case and memory card. This your for my birthday, my son gave me an upgrade on my camera. My dream camera would be one I can take pictures of the moon, the stars and the skies! Mostly, the moon and stars!
And now, painting rocks. I have really kept myself in check cost wise and found, I still have a good time!
The moral of the story, if you don’t find your niche with one craft project or hobby, don’t be afraid to try again. Just don’t go out and blow your whole paycheck each week for supplies!
Go forth and CRAFT!
A young actor once asked me, What do you do between jobs? I said, Hobbies, hobbies, and more hobbies.
Robert Duvall

Me Monday: Gastroparesis

Gastroparesis: A Whole New World
The problem with staying with a doctor for a long time, I have found, is they tend not to tell you everything going on with you. When you HAVE to find a new doctor, I have found they love to tell you what your records say. And with that, I have Gastroparesis. I knew I HAD it, but my old Gastro doc told me not to worry about it, it will go away. It hasn’t.
After a EGD I woke up from my “nap” hearing the nurses say, “she has a hairball.” That is NOT something you want to hear when you are still slightly under medication. I think to myself…self, how did we get a “hairball?” we have enough S*** going on, we don’t need a strange disorder. So one needs to know what one is up against here. So what do you do? I go to WebMD or the Mayo Clinic web page.  I find on Pinterest all the pins I can find on Gastroparesis and low fiber/low residue diets. Then I try to figure out what low reside is…
Vagus Nerve
So, let’s start with what the heck is Gastroparesis?
It occurs when there has been damage done to the vagus nerve; which prevents the muscles in the tummy and small intestine to have a delay effect, which delays the emptying of your stomach contents. It sort of paralyzes it and keeps the food in your tummy for longer than needed. This can result in some pretty yucky outcomes.
~ the food stays in too long and can ferment.
~ the food in the belly can harden into a solid collection, which is also known as a     Beazor. This can clog the tummy and block the small intestines.
So what are the stats on this?
There are less than 200,000 cases in the U.S. per year, which makes it a rare disease
It can start at any age however; 19 – 60 years seemed have it most and effects mostly young to middle age women.
This can be treated, but not cured
It is chronic
Uncontrolled diabetes
Gastric surgery with injury to the vagus nerve
Medications such as narcotics and some antidepressants
Parkinson’s disease
Multiple sclerosis
Rare conditions such as: amyloidosis (deposits of protein fibers in tissues and organs) and scleroderma (a connective tissue disorder that affects the skin, blood vessels, skeletal muscles, and internal organs)
Heartburn or GERD
Vomiting undigested food
Feeling full quickly when eating
Abdominal bloating
Poor appetite and weight loss
Poor blood sugar control
Scopin it!
Let’s see where I fit in. 
I’m a middle aged woman
I’ve been on the medications √√
I have heartburn/GERD
I feel nauseous 95% of the time
Abdominal bloating
To get a diagnosis of this, your doctor must see you. Check your medical conditions and symptoms and give you a physical. You may also have to have one or more, more intensive tests done.
One is called a Barium x-ray. I’ve had this and it sucks! You get to drink some nasty nasty Barium, it will coat your throat or esophagus, small intestine and the stomach.
I’ve also had a Radioisotope gastric-emptying scan. I’ve also had this one. I was treated to an early morning microwaved scrambled egg filled with radioactive goodies and you get to lay down, watch a movie and take about 4 hours of your day where you have someone watching your tummy empty.
Next, I have no idea what it is. Gastric manometry: This one sounds exciting! They send a tube down your throat, into the tummy where they measure electrical and muscle activity. Told you it sounded like fun. 
Then there’s the smart pill: you swallow that, it does it’s job in your stomach and then you get rid of it.
Upper endoscopy: I’ve had this one too. They send a tube down into your stomach where they check out your stomach lining. They can also take a biopsy from there, if needed.
Finally, an Ultrasound.
So, what can we do to lessen the effects, since we know it’s not going away. It’s one of those, if you have it, you have it for life, but you can manage it. So, we can try medications; to fight any infections, nausea and then some that will help your stomach to contract to help process the food.
Diet modification
This is the best (and hardest for me) way to control the symptoms.
Instead of 3 meals a day, try 6 smaller meals.
Low fiber/low residue (still looking to see what it means) and low fat. Which means, a total diet change. It also means, what may be good for you (whole grains, bran, nuts, citrus fruits, fruit yogurt, raw veggies, dry peas or beans, coconut oils or raw fruits) is not good for me.
As we start a new week, a new month soon, so shall we start a new way of eating. As we start: Gastroparesis: Chapter 2
“I fight for my health every day in ways that most people don’t understand. I’m not lazy. I’m a warrior!” – unknown