Saturday, March 30, 2013

Bocce Ball


We went to Vanderbilt Beach in Naples, FL yesterday. It was very, very crowded.

We had to park our chairs and plant our umbrella at the back side of the beach. We were right up against a group of old Italian men playing Bocce Ball.

It was pretty entertaining. We watched a whole game. There were six old men playing the first game, then another old guy showed up. It made for an odd number of old men.

Vito, the leader of the group, looked over at Don and said, "You want to play?" Don said, "No,no" in his best fake Italian accent. I chimed in, "Yes!" Vito said, "Please...we need another guy."

So Don got up out of his comfortable beach chair and joined the seven old guys for a game of Bocce Ball. What a good sport.

Peter, his friend Daniel, Katherine and I sat there trying not to die laughing. It was the funniest scene.

Vito and friends were pretty serious about their game, so Don had to put his game face on too.

If you're wondering which one is Don...he's the only one with his shirt on.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday


I used to think only good people went to heaven. I was glad because I was a good person. At least I thought I was. If I looked at the people around me, I was better than most of them.

Then one day I realized I was not a good person at all. I had broken pretty much all of the Ten Commandments multiple times. Did this mean I was now going to hell?  It would take me ten lifetimes of good deeds to make up for what I had done.

I was relieved to find out that the Ten Commandments were not given by God to judge who would go to heaven and who would not. They were rules for his people to follow, and they were given so that we would see how impossible they were to keep. This was especially true after Jesus gave his Sermon on the Mount and told the people it's not just your outward actions, but your thoughts that count too. If you hate someone, you have just murdered them as far as he was concerned.

So how do you get to heaven if good people don't go?

The answer is in John 3:16 - "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."

When Jesus died on the cross many Good Fridays ago, there were two criminals hanging on either side of him. This was the conversation that took place:

One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: "Aren't you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!" But the other criminal rebuked him. "Don't you fear God," he said, "since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong."

Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."

Jesus answered him, "Truly, I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise."

So who goes to heaven? Bad people?

No.

Only those who are forgiven by believing that Jesus is the Messiah who died for all sin and rose again on the third day.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Grocery IQ

I love this free App for my iPhone. My friend, Becky, told me about it last month.

Being one of those people who frequently makes a grocery list and leaves it sitting on the counter at home, this is ideal.

Now, when I think of something I need to buy at the store, I enter it in Grocery IQ. This App lets me make lists for all the stores where I shop. I have lists for Heinen's, Giant Eagle, Marc's, Target, Costco, etc.

I can type in the name of the item or use the scan feature to scan the barcode of the item at home. This way it will find the exact brand I use.

I can organize items by aisle. As I walk through the store and put items in my cart, I touch the corresponding box next to the item on the list and it is moved to the bottom. When I am ready to checkout, I press a button and save those items to my history so next time I start typing them in, they will pop right up.

If you go to the grocery store with a family member, they can have the same list on their phone. As they pick up items, they also disappear from your list. Shopping can be done in half the time.

You can email and print your lists if you so wish. And coupons are suggested for items you are buying.

Not only is this an App, but it is also available online too.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Need some Zzzz's

It's been a really long time since I've had a good night's sleep. Seven weeks to be exact.

Don was kind enough to inform me that sleep deprivation is a form of torture. This was after I had been crying for weeks on end and couldn't understand why.

I'm experiencing other disturbing symptoms. In the middle of the day, I want nothing more than to lie down and sleep. I can't focus or get anything done. Shopping wears me out. Everyday projects overwhelm me.

Yet I dread night time because I know I won't get the sleep I desperately need. The pain in my shoulder wakes me up. My surgeon said I probably won't sleep normally for three months.

When that day comes, I'm going to sleep for an entire week. Don't wake me up.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Juicy Chicken

I can't remember where I got this recipe. It was a click on Pinterest, then another click and another click, and before I knew it, I was lost in clickiness. But I found a great simple recipe for juicy chicken breasts. I've tried it three times, and it works!

Juicy Chicken Breasts

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts*
1/4 c. flour
1 T. herbs or seasoning
Butter and Olive oil to coat bottom of pan
Salt & Pepper

Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper.
Mix flour and herbs in a plate or shallow bowl.
Coat chicken lightly in flour mixture.
In a skillet over medium high heat, melt butter and olive oil.
Lower heat to medium and add chicken breasts to pan.
Cook on each side 1 minute so the exterior is lightly golden.
Turn heat to low, cover pan with a lid, and cook for 10 minutes. NO PEEKING OR LIFTING LID!
After ten minutes, remove chicken from heat and allow to sit with the lid still on for 10 more minutes.

*If the chicken breasts are kind of fat, place them between two sheets of waxed paper and pound them flatter with a meat mallet.

Eat the chicken as is, or use it in any recipe that calls for cooked chicken. No more rotisserie chickens for me!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Some Stuff I Like

It's time for another episode of Stuff I Like:

I love my Cyro-Cuff. My shoulder surgery recovery would have been so much worse without this machine. The first week, I was attached to it 24 hours a day. Now I use it 3 times a day after I do my physical therapy exercises. I hope you never need one of these, but if you do, here's how it works: You fill the cooler with ice and cold water. Then you put the cuff on your shoulder and strap it on with the velcro attachments. Turn it on, and it pumps continuous ice cold water through the cuff. It's just like having an ice pack on your shoulder, but you don't have to hold it there. If you run it continuously, it needs to be refilled about every four hours. There are also knee, ankle, wrist and foot cuffs too.

This is my favorite facial moisturizer. I only discovered it by using a sample given to me by my dermatologist several years ago. It is non-greasy and lasts all day. The one I've been using has an SPF of 15, but I just saw that they now have one with SPF 50. I'm switching to that.

These are the best binders in the world. They are actually called Staples Better Binders. But they should be called Staples Best Binders. They are kind of rubbery feeling, and they open up just right. You have to see them to really appreciate them. Next time you are in Staples, look them up.

If you have city water, you probably do not need this product. We happen to have a well, and for one reason or another, our water keeps staining our sinks, toilets and tubs. I've had the Culligan man out to check our water softener, and he claims there is no metal in the water. I don't believe him. Anyway, if you have a stained sink, all you have to do is fill it with water above the stain, squirt some of this Whink Rust Stain Remover in, and let it sit for a half hour. The stain magically disappears. Same for the toilet and tub.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Good News, Bad News

I saw my surgeon yesterday. He's a great guy. Don and I both like him a lot. He delivered both good news and bad news.

Good News: I'm healing.
Bad News: I've got a long way to go.

Good News: I am allowed to lift my arm.
Bad News: It won't go higher than waist level.

Good News: I will eventually be able to sleep in bed.
Bad News: It will probably be Mother's Day when I do.

Good News: With strength training exercises, I can stop when it hurts.
Bad News: With stretching exercises, I need to make it hurt.

Good News: My goal for the month is to be able to reach up into the cupboard and pull out a dinner plate.
Bad News: I was hoping I'd be doing push ups.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Poppy Seed Chicken

This is the last recipe I will share from our Meals on Wheels deliveries.

Carolyn came to stay with us for the first couple of nights after my surgery which was a huge help to me and Don. She brought the ingredients for this recipe and made it while she was here.

I was still on high doses of Percocet when I ate it, but I think it was really yummy. Don says it was.



Poppy Seed Chicken

2 cups cooked and diced chicken
1 can cream of chicken soup
8 oz. sour cream
1 T. white wine (optional)
2 T. poppy seeds
1 sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed
3/4 stick melted butter

Combine chicken, soup, sour cream and poppy seeds. Pour into a buttered 9 x 13 casserole dish.

Mix crackers and melted butter in a small bowl. Top casserole with cracker mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly and crackers are golden.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Colorful Angel Hair Pasta

Another one of our favorite dishes came from Connie. She made an angel hair pasta dish that was colorful and magnificent. I didn't get the recipe from her, but I found one that I'm pretty sure is about the same at allrecipes.com:

Angel Hair Pasta with Asparagus and Peppers

10 ounces uncooked angel hair pasta
2 t. olive oil
2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into strips
1 (6 ounce) jar sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and chopped (reserve oil)
1/2 pound asparagus, trimmed
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into strips
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 cup prepared pesto
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
2 t. grated Parmesan cheese

Fill large pot with lightly salted water and bring to boil. Stir in angel hair pasta and return to full boil. Cook the pasta, stirring occasionally, until tender, 4-5 minutes. Drain well.

Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat; cook an stir chicken strips until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.

Pour reserved oil from sun-dried tomatoes into skillet; cook and stir asparagus in the oil until slightly softened, about  2 minutes. Add yellow and red bell pepper strips; cook and stir an additional 2 minutes.

Lightly toss the chopped sun-dried tomatoes and cooked pasta into the skillet with chicken and vegetables; stir in pesto sauce and 1/2 c. Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle with crushed red pepper flakes and 2 teaspoons of Parmesan cheese.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Pecan-Crusted Salmon


Do you like salmon? I do!
Nancy brought this fabulous dish to our house one night. It was mighty tasty. And simple!

Pecan-Crusted Salmon

2 T. butter, melted
2 T. brown sugar
1/2 t. sage
2 t. cinnamon
1/2 c. chopped pecans
Salt
4 salmon fillets

Mix ingredients and spread on top of salmon. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-18 minutes or until fish flakes easily with fork.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Spaghetti Casserole

Don and I were very blessed to receive meals from many friends and family the first four weeks after my surgery. This was a huge blessing. Don is a very talented person, but he does not have any interest in the kitchen.

In the next week or so, I will share some of the recipes for the food we received.

Becky brought us a spaghetti casserole that was very tasty:

Spaghetti Casserole

16 oz. spaghetti
1 lb. ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
26 oz. meatless spaghetti sauce
1/2 t. seasoned salt
2 large eggs
1/3 c. grated Parmesan cheese
5 T. melted butter
24 oz. small curd cottage cheese
4 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese

Cook spaghetti according to package directions. In large skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat; drain. Stir in spaghetti sauce and seasoned salt; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, Parmesan cheese and butter. Drain spaghetti; add to egg mixture and toss to coat.

Place half the spaghetti mixture in a greased 13 x 9 pan. Top with half of the cottage cheese, meat sauce and Mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers.

Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Uncover; bake 25 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.

Serves 8-10.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Southeast Gears & Cheers

Tammy picked me up on Friday afternoon. She wanted me to see the restaurant owned by our friend, Kathy Meyers. The restaurant, which opened in July, 2012, is adjacent to Southeast Harley Davidson, also owned by her family.

Southeast Gears & Cheers was completely designed by Kathy. The restaurant contains lots of Harley Davidson memorabilia, including many motorcycles on display in the rafters.

I never would have found this place on my own. I just don't go that way. But Kathy said business has been booming.

The food was excellent. Check out the menu. I tried the Salmon Burger with Sweet Potato Fries. Tammy had the Pesto Shrimp Pizza. It happened to be International Women's Day, so we also received a rose and a free piece of the best raspberry cake I've ever tasted.

Tammy and Kathy were the design brains behind every book fair for the seven years I worked at VCA. They just appeared on the scene when I was looking for help. It was the beginning of a great friendship. Kathy needed another design outlet after she retired from book fairs, so the restaurant was born.

Highly recommended!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

I Give Up

I've been fighting the recliner for four weeks. I just don't want to sleep there.

But after trying every possible contortion in bed trying to get comfortable enough to sleep, I officially give up.

From this point on, the recliner will be my friend. I will embrace it each night when it is time to go to sleep (like right now..which I am avoiding).

That's me in my recliner. Over there to the left.

Don is so sweet. Every night, he tucks me in. First he makes sure I have fresh ice in the ice machine. Then he pushes me back halfway in the recliner. He tops me with a warm blanket, puts my eye shades on, and shoves the neck pillow under my chin. Then he kisses me good night and heads up to our nice king size bed for a good night's sleep. Bless him. Oh, and he always tells me to wake him up if I need him.

He did sleep on the couch the first two weeks of my recovery, and I insisted he sleep in bed after that, so I'm not complaining at all about the bed. I'm just jealous.

Night night.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Fierce Competitors


Don and Peter have something in common: they love to play games. Don taught him to play chess and cribbage along with a multitude of card games and board games. Whenever Peter was bored, Don would ask him if he wanted to play a game. Peter never said no.

Peter gradually got to the point where he could occasionally beat Don, and that was fine.

Now that Peter is in college, they have graduated to playing iPhone App games like Words With Friends (similar to Scrabble), Hanging with Friends (similar to Hangman), and Scramble with Friends (similar to Boggle).

In Words with Friends and Hanging with Friends, they are pretty even on wins and losses, but in Scramble with Friends, Peter consistently beats Don by a lot. I hear him screaming, "he beat me again!...I don't know how he does it. He must know some trick I don't know." It frustrates Don to no end. I just laugh.

I don't know, it might be that Don is getting old and doesn't have the reflexes of an 18 year old any more. In the game, you only have two minutes to come up with as many words as you can with the 16 letters they give you. To top it off, you have to slide your finger around the little screen to make the words.

I'm glad they enjoy playing. I'm sure it give Peter a much needed break from his studies and a smile on his face when he wins again!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Where is Fiji?

I thought I'd better find out where the Fiji islands are located. Daniel is on his way there right now. Since geography is my worst subject, I looked it up on a map.

It's very, very far away. It's in the South Pacific Ocean between Australia and New Zealand. It's going to take two days to get there because they cross the international date line. I would not want to be on that plane.

Daniel is traveling with 15 students from Miami University during his spring break. He is very involved in CRU (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) on campus, and on this trip, Miami students will help train CRU students at a university in Suva.

Two years ago when a group from Miami went to Fiji, there was a threat of a serious tsunami. I'm praying the weather is calm next week!

Here are some fun facts about Fiji:

It consists of 332 islands, with 112 of them inhabited.

Suva is the capital of Fiji, and that's where Daniel will be staying for most of the trip.

They Make really expensive bottled water.

Cannibalism ended there in 1867.

Most people speak English along with their native language of Fijian.








Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Good Eggs


For years my hard-cooked eggs came out bad. They were either under cooked, over cooked or green. One day I really needed to make some good eggs, so I emailed my sister who always knows the answer to everything, and she told me how to make them.

Her formula works! I wish I could memorize it. Every time I need to make hard-cooked eggs, I have to consult my recipe book where I have stored her response email.

Since Easter is coming soon, and it's always fun to color eggs, this recipe will come in handy.

Two keys to making good eggs: They should be about a week old (from when you buy them) AND Never let them out of your sight (timing is everything).

1. Place as many eggs as you want in a saucepan that is big enough to hold them without letting them touch and tall enough to cover them by two inches of water.

2.  Bring the water to a rolling boil over high heat.

3.  Boil for EXACTLY five minutes (set the timer).

4. Turn off the heat and move the pan to an unused burner.

5.  Cover the  pan with a tight-fitting lid. Set the timer for 15 minutes.

6.  When the timer goes off, immediately drain the eggs and cover them with very COLD water. When the water warms up, drain the pan and transfer the eggs to a cold bowl and cover the eggs with very COLD water again.

7. Drain the water and let eggs cool on a rack for 15 minutes. Peel or refrigerate for later use.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Shoulder Update


It will be one month tomorrow since my shoulder surgery. Progress has been slow, which I knew it would be, but progress is progress.

Week One: Give me my pain pills. I didn't care about anything but Percocet, Vicodin  and ice. I just had to get through it.

Week Two: Physical Therapy Begins. Just when I thought it was safe to stop being a drug addict, they had to go and move my arm. It was so cozy there by my side. It didn't want to move. It screamed: STOP!!

Week Three: More Physical Therapy. Don now has an honorary degree as a physical therapist. He knows just how to torture me. He lifts my arm up, out and sideways three times a day whether I want him to or not. He acts like he has a vested interest in my progress.

Week Four: Even More Physical Therapy. Don continues to torture me two times a day, and I torture myself two times a day with some passive stretches. My real physical therapist, Rose, says I'm making great progress. They can get my arm up to 138 degrees. Only 42 more degrees to go!

I'm coping with the pain that brings progress. I'm coping with not lifting my right arm. I'm coping with being cooped up at home. But I still dread the night time. I can't sleep in any position except sitting straight up. It's been a very long plane ride. Many tears have fallen from these eyes. I will never take the prone position for granted again.

That's where I am at. One more week until I see my surgeon, who will test me to see if I am healed enough to lift my own arm. That will mean more pain, I am sure. It will also mean I can drive!! Look out people.

Can I recommend to you one thing: Take care of your shoulders. Keep them strong and flexible. You do not want to have rotator cuff surgery!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

This is one of the best books I have ever read. I give it five stars. From the first page to the last, I could not stop reading it. Whenever I put it down, I couldn't wait to pick it back up again.

Why did I like it so much? Because the dialogue and emotions of the characters were so real and raw. I felt what they felt. I cried at the end of almost every chapter.

This is a coming of age story of a girl named  Francie who grows up poor in a tenement house in Brooklyn at the turn of the century. Her father, although very loving, is an alcoholic who can't hold a steady job. Her mother takes up the slack by cleaning apartments to pay their rent. Both of her parents were children of immigrants.

At times they have to get by drinking coffee and condensed milk for meals until money comes in. Francie and her brother Neely collect junk on Saturdays to exchange for pennies. When they are old enough, they get jobs to help support the family.

The book was published in 1943 by Betty Smith. It is largely autobiographical. She writes of poverty, love, death, life, hunger, pride, cruelty, and the struggle to survive. I loved this book. It is a must read.