Friday, December 28, 2012

Positivity for the New Year

Dear Readers,

I hope your Christmas was wonderful, despite the inevitable fatigue and aches so many of us deal with.  I am learning to separate the good from the bad:  maybe, it is simply a more philosophical approach to dealing with pain and fatigue.  I know it is going to slow me down and keep me from doing some things, but it doesn't control my life.  However, it does slow me down, and that is not always a bad thing.  

Now that I have to slow down, I don't have to worry about things being perfect, which never worked that well for me anyhow.  My family still knows that I love them and that I do the best I can.  They also are incredibly helpful.  God bless you all, and as the new year approaches may you find ways not only to endure, but to enjoy your life.
Image Courtesy of [Idea go] /

One of the things I want to continue is my mission to declutter my house; because it less stressful to have less stuff.  It seems that for years most people were on a mission to get more things, but I think many people are realizing it is easier to live a simple life.  However, that seems nearly impossible.  We really do live in an information age, and I think that makes life more complicated if we don't control how much comes into our lives.  So I suppose I am talking about control of items or things, as well as control of how much "world noise"  I allow in my life.  I am not talking about hiding or being a hermit, but to be healthier, we need to seek the positive not just look at the negative.  One of the nice things about Christmas is I think the news stations actually look for some positive news.

Many blessings to all you precious people.  God loves you and so do I.  Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Getting Ready for an Week-long Guest & the House Wasn't All Unpacked from Moving

The perfect plan in unpacking and moving means you do it as you move in;  you have gone through everything before you move;  and you are able to unpack a little everyday, while keeping up the settled areas of the house and other necessary daily chores.  However, as hard as I have worked, the reality is I had to push hard to get the guest room company ready.  I have had multiple roadblocks in the last year.  In fact this time last year, I was in the hospital;  because I had just had hip and joint surgery.  

I will take some pictures of some of the work I have done, and please understand -- I do not considered this the finished product.  It is only the beginning the amateur decorator says.    I will have fun  tweaking, fixing, painting, hanging pictures, and getting rid of more clutter through the new year.  I may even begin posting my discards on Facebook.  Maybe , you could join me. 

I got to the point last night and today that some boxes were going to have to go behind a folding screen.  I could not do anymore.  And hubby could not help, because he had a concert and had to pick up his mother.  Right about know, a massage therapist would be the perfect before Christmas present.  I forgot how many places could hurt in my body.  Right now, I think most of them are quite active. Big OUCH!!

I think I have had enough quiet time to go to bed.  My body would appreciate the sleep.  Merry Christmas!  And may you have the energy you need for your activities.  God bless you.

D. Bolton

Friday, December 14, 2012

Decorating, Resting, Weight, and Shopping in One Post

Christmas Tree Decorating in Progress
Learning to Balance Life Changes
How is your energy meter?  I hope it is on, so you are able to enjoy the holidays, get something done, and rest at the same time.  We are not quite done with our tree; but then again, ornaments tend to move around as long as it's up.  There is always another angle or better place for the ornaments, especially when your labrador retriever knocks off an ornament with her tail.  Last year we didn't put up a Christmas tree, because I had surgery;  and I knew I was not going to be able to take it down after the surgery.  Furthermore, my Fibro-brain was not working well enough to think of a way to rearrange the furniture to fit in our tree.  Don't you love it when your brain is working better, so you can do the things you have been wanting to do?

Quite honestly, I am not sure where to go with today's blog post.  I am probably like most of you, trying to keep my head above water, and not get a flare-up.  Speaking of flare-ups, last week I got a cortisone shot in my right knee and it feels so much better, but I am seriously thinking of asking for one in my left knee.  Arthritis in both knees is not fun.  Actually, arthritis anywhere is not good, but such is life;  moreover, I put some serious wear and tear on my knees when I was younger.  I am thankful for the good years they gave me.

Some of you may be wondering how the green coffee extract is working for me.  So far, I do not feel any caffeine effects, which goes along with the research I did on what other people had said about GCE.  I am still keeping my food journal, also I include the time I take medicine and supplements, as well as what they are.  Now, for the good part -- I have lost four pounds!  Woohoo!  That takes me back to where I was before Thanksgiving, and I have been able to go to dinners and parties -- two of them.  However, I know of times this has been my undoing, so I am a happy lady.  By the way, moderate low-carb is keeping my blood sugar at an even keel.  That's a good thing too.

So goes the 2012 Christmas Season for me so far.  Most of the presents are ready to be wrapped, and I plan to start that soon -- one or two a day.  God bless you all at this wonderful time of year.  I pray for you to enjoy the blessings and good memories of past Christmases as well.

Also, check out what I have to say on my right sidebar about one of my favorite online shopping places who I happen to be an affiliate with.  I will give you a hint -- think of strong, tall woman, who is a warrior.  And aren't we warriors too, guys and gals?  We are fighting fibromyalgia and other chronic diseases, as well as finding ways to live our lives happily and more fully.  Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Weekend - Monday Potpourri

So how are things going with you?  Well, I hope.  Are you pacing yourself and resting without guilt?  That is important, because the guilt negates the resting--it leaves the body in a chemically ready to go state, at least that is what I think.  When you rest, you need to turn the mind off from the I need to do this and this needs to happen state.  It's a matter of self-preservation.

I'm in semi-rest mode after a mega weekend.  Our sweet 17 year old kitty died, I sang a solo Sunday morning, made Christmas cookies, worked in the yard, and sang in our Christmas musical all in one weekend.  And we had a fellowship after church Sunday night.  That was absolutely Mega-Weekend for me.  And I am still feeling badly about our cat, but she was sick and it was her time to go.  I am so glad she didn't suffer a long time.  I had almost decided not to put up our big Christmas tree, but in honor of our sweet kitty, who loved to lie under the tree, it is going up tonight.  Last night, my husband and I rearranged the living room, which is not an easy job in our very oddly shaped room.

Please ignore the spastic looking hand.
A model, I am not.
What counts is we were having fun!
The other part of this potpourri of things going on is a revelation I had yesterday afternoon.  So many people tend to save their pretty clothes for "going out", including me.  But yesterday, I wore black leggings, which looked absolutely smashing with a long decorated sweatshirt;  however, I got hot because I was working.  So I put on makeup, pretty ear rings, and a "hot" tunic top.  When my husband got home, I surprised him--he wasn't expecting dressy looking Debby.  Moving furniture was so much fun last night:  I think I ended up more tired, because we were dancing to the Christmas music -- absolutely worth it.

How can I dance with a bum knee?  It is called I got a cortisone shot in my right knee last week and now it feels good.  Oh, why did I wait so long?  Two months of bad pain is over.

Lastly, here is an easy cookie recipe:  Press one 16.5 ounce chocolate chip cookie roll in a greased 9 X 13 pan.  Beat 3 eggs, 1 tsp. vanilla, and 9 oz. cream cheese together.  Pour over cookie dough.  Break another 16.5 oz. roll of cookie dough into small pieces and place on top of cream cheese mixture.  Bake at 350 degree f.  for 30 minutes.  After cooling, store in refrigerator.  Yummy.  And easy.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Losing Weight -- A Gradual Process

Argh!  I weighed more this morning, two pounds more.  I can think of nothing I have done to weigh more, but I know my journal will be my ally in figuring it out.  One thing I can see is I have not been having as many vegetable snacks.  One of my favorite vegetable snacks is baby carrots and celery sticks dipped in hummus.  Also, I have not been eating as much coconut oil.  Coconut oil, unsweetened coconut, cocoa, and splenda made a wonderful substitute for the taste of chocolate with sugar in it.  Also, I didn't have cravings and my appetite went down.  My appetite is still at a good level.  I don't eat all the time, never have;  however, I am definitely sensitive to carbohydrates.  I guess it's time to pull out the journal from August through October, and see what I am doing differently.  

Bring up the subject of weight is a touchy subject for many of us.  I use to be quite slim, but I was rarely satisfied with my slimness.  It seemed to be a constant battle to stay there.   Sometime during my illness, I got tired of fighting the battle.  It seemed like nothing made a difference, but I know I was weary and battle worn.  Trying to lose weight caused too much of an emotional reaction in me:  it was just one more thing to deal with.  The best reason I can think of now to lose weight is to improve my health.  My knees are suffering and I have borderline diabetes, so I have to watch what I eat.  For the last two years, I have made very gradual changes in my diet to the point that I no longer feel deprived.  One of the main things I do is pay attention to my hunger and fullness.  When I am satisfied, I quit eating.  There are many times I have put leftovers from my plate in a container for later.  

However, the thing I do not do anymore is make a list of "Nevers."  These would be the foods that the diet gurus say never to eat.  I did not feel at all deprived during the fall of this year.  I even had the occasional hamburger and french fries.  I only had to make a few changes, because I already eat a healthy diet.  One change was keeping cookies and ice cream out of the house.   I did buy the low carb bars for treats, but they  are not something I always want to have around.  Another thing I did was I took primrose oil in addition to my supplements.  I also found myself giving up "treats" without disappointment, because I had  alternatives or  I didn't want to become addicted to sugar again.  One of the things I really love is that I have actually forgotten there was leftover ice cream in the freezer.  So I am seeing behavior changes, all done gradually.  

That's the other thing:  I have not been very good about taking all my supplements for the last three weeks.  Could it be my body works better when I take the supplements?  Do you ever get tired of loading up the medicine containers and taking the supplements?  I do.  I wish I didn't have to take any, but it is medicine and supplements that helped heal my body to the point I could function again.  So today, I will take the time to line them up and get myself back on the path I need to be on.

One more thing:  I mentioned I had a new secret weapon to add to my weight-loss efforts.  Usually, I avoid anything that promises to help one lose weight, but I saw Dr. Oz's name next to something I have never heard of and I knew to go to his website, because he does not endorse for money or sell supplements.   In fact, he warns against buying something that has his name beside it, because people use his name without his permission.  What I did was check this out and I am not going to explain it all to you, because Dr. Oz's web site does it so much better.  He did an experiment with a carefully selected section of his audience, using placebos and green coffee extract to see if green coffee extract helps people lose weight.  The important thing to note is there were positive results, but it is not recommended as something to take for months on end.  Also, it is important to note that some green coffee extracts have fillers he does not recommend.  I am doing this as an experiment to see if it helps me this month, but I do not endorse or recommend this to anyone else. I just figured that I already drink coffee, so it would not hurt me.  I am merely telling you what I am doing, not suggesting you try it.  I don't even know if it is going to be helpful.  In fact, I took it yesterday and weighed more this morning.  So please take this as my disclaimer:  I am not a medical professional, nor a dietitian.  If you want to lose weight, you should contact your doctor  and always inform him/her of any supplements you are taking.  Some supplements may interact with your medications.  It is good to err on the side of caution.  Lastly, if you are interested in the green coffee bean extract, I suggest you watch all of Dr. Oz's videos on the subject.  Also, read the other information about green coffee extract on his website.  I just went back to read the information today, and I decided to follow the directions I saw there -- not the directions on the container of green coffee extract I bought.  Again, I repeat, this is merely a report, not an endorsement.  You should contact your medical professional before beginning a weight-loss program or taking over the counter supplements.   

One more thing, I promise not to bore you with the details of my progress every blog post.  However, I will let you know how things are going -- negatively or positively;  although, I have to let you know I am aiming for Positive Results.   As far as weight goals go -- I have none.  Most of my life has been filled with unrealistic or realistic weight goals.  I am aiming for healthy lifestyle changes:  as many as I can make in my physical condition.  
To simplify, I will list them and that will conclude this post.

Learning to Balance Life Changes

P.S.  As I was writing out my lifestyle changes, I remembered what I have been doing differently, which could have tipped my carbohydrates over the amount I can have and lose weight.  I have been drinking cherry juice to bring down the inflammation in my knee.  Since I don't count carbs or calories, this may have made me gain a few pounds.  So, I will either have to stop drinking the juice or count the carbs.  I could also look for fresh cherries, but I doubt I will find them this time of year.  I also went about two or three weeks without journaling my food, which I should have mentioned on my list of lifestyle changes.  Writing down what I eat makes a difference for me.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Losing Weight in December

You see the title of my blog post, and you may think, "Has she lost her mind?  Why on earth is she talking about losing weight in December?"  

Here I am wearing one of the pairs of pants
I could not zip.  They are not even tight.
Learning to Balance Life Changes
My mind is all here, all clear -- no brain fog.  Yes, I am trying to lose weight in December.  I have been on a moderate low-carbohydrate eating plan since the middle of last August.  I lost four pounds and kept it off until Thanksgiving, but that did not do too much damage.  I have had my moments of going up, because I ate salty nuts and I did go up a three or four pounds at Thanksgiving;  however, I got it right off.  I think most of that must have been water weight, because I could still wear my clothes that used to be too tight to zip.

I started keeping a food journal months before I committed to the moderate low carb way, and I know that helped me lose 2 to 4 pounds.  I wasn't tracking my weight then, so I'm not sure.  What I can tell you is that I am down a dress size, down a shirt size and I can zip pants that had a two inch gap last spring.  Yipee!

Some of my down falls are Halloween candy -- it calls out to me, even though it's not my favorite, and last August, the doughnut shop near my kids was calling too.  My kids are so nice:  they went out and bought some.  I limited myself to two doughnuts;  but when I got home, I craved more sugar.  

So back to why I would consider losing weight in December -- I have knees that are crying out for less weight on them.  I have beautiful Christmas tops I would like to wear this year.  I think four or five pounds less might get me nearer to my goal of wearing those blouses, might even get me there.  And I do not want to gain weight in December.  I want to keep my ultimate goal in sight, not feel like I'm starting over again in January.

I bought the book How I Gave Up My Low-Fat Diet and Lost 40 Pounds by Dana Carpender, and I take a look at it when I feel the need for a boost.  However, I am not on a particular diet.  I eat when I am hungry and I write it in my journal.  I am not looking for fast weight loss, because it usually doesn't stay off;  moreover, I do not lose weight fast anymore.  If I could exercise more that would help, but I am not doing anything that is going to make my body hurt worse.  I am all for moderate exercise.  And I have a new secret weapon I hope may help me this month.
Tomorrow, I plan to reveal it.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The First Christmas Supper 2012

Happy Birthday, Jesus!
Tonight is the night of the first Christmas Supper of 2012 for me.  I don't go out much anymore, so I look forward to it, but I also feel a bit of anxiety.  When my husband came home for lunch, I asked him teasingly, "Should I go for beautiful or sick tonight."  Those of you who have Fibromyalgia or/and CFIDS probably know what I was feeling when I said that.  I was thinking about those people who know church services I have missed, etc., and when they see me, I don't look sick.  And I have to say that I don't really want to look sick.  I just get frustrated when I know there are people that probably don't believe it.  I admit -- I am still afraid of being judged.  By the way, I still vote for looking the best I can look.

As much as I know about my illness, there are times I get so frustrated with myself -- I still have moments I have to let putting out energy remind me that life in the Chronic Fatigue Immune Defiency Syndrome realm is never going to be normal, unless a miracle occurs.  I wish someone would tell me why I still feel guilty about something I can't help.  I don't carry that guilt around every moment, but it hits sometimes.

There are things I could probably do if I could afford to have people to do some of the things I have to do at home.  However, I have to make a choice;  and the basic things of life need to be done.  My husband is getting older too.  When I can cook supper, wash clothes, or clean the areas in the house that need to be cleaned, I am helping him.  That is the way I can support his ministry in our church, which still makes it our ministry because I am his helpmate.  I want to sing in the choir, go to every service, play piano, sing solos and do all the things I used to do.  Sometimes, I am so sad I cannot do this, but someday I will be praising my God in Heaven with more energy than I ever had.  I will be able to dance on my toes for Him and leap in the air, and sing too.  So I praise God with all my heart that He just put this picture in my mind to share.

For all you out there that have any chronic illness:  Merry Christmas!  We do not need to fear or grieve, but praise God that in the name of Jesus, we will one day be whole.

P.S.  I won't be writing as much during the Christmas Season, but I always try to remember to post it.  I will also check into a place for you to subscribe.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Yummy Easy Coconut Cake & Other Ideas

Wednesday night, I was browsing Pinterest, and I came upon a picture that said, "Eat me!"  OK, so a picture cannot say that.  But have you ever seen a recipe that looked so good and so easy, you knew you had to fix it?  That's what happened to me.  I wanted to put a picture of it on my blog, but I haven't cooked it yet, and I do not have permission to use the picture on my blog.

By now, I suppose you are wondering what this wonderful recipe is, and why I don't fix it and take a picture.  The reason is that it probably has more carbohydrates than I should eat in a week, and I plan to make it for a party.  It is definitely group food, not food for a twosome.  Now, for the name -- it is called 
Bloomin'  Gooey Cheese Bread.  You use a round loaf to get the look, which is reminiscent of Bloomin' Onions -- another decadent treat.  You have to cut into the bread deep enough to let the seasonings get in, using a criss-cross cut.  It has wonderful herbs, butter, spring onion, and mozzarella cheese on it.  And there are variations on the recipe:  they all sound yummy!  Most of the time, I can live without bread, but I think this would be a hit;  moreover, I described it to my husband, and he thinks so too.  

If you use Pinterest, I have some other recipes on my board that sound good for the holidays.  If you look at my Recipe board and my Christmas board, you should see them.  Just click at the top of the blog to go directly to my Pinterest board.  If you are not a member of Pinterest, it will take you to the home page.  

Easy Coconut Cake  (Good make ahead recipe)
Here is an easy cake to make.  It is moist and gooey around the edges, which makes it my favorite Coconut Cake.  
1 Yellow Cake Mix
1 Can of Cream of Coconut (It is in the section of the grocery store that has wine and mixers.  It has a lot of   
                                                sugar in it.)
Frozen Imitation Whipped Cream (defrosted) or Make your own Whipped Cream with real cream
Sweetened Flaked Coconut

Mix yellow cake mix according to directions and pour into a 9 X 13 rectangular pan or glass dish.
Bake according to cake mix instructions.
While warm, poke holes all over baked cake.  Leave it in the dish you cooked it in.
Evenly pour Cream of Coconut over the cake.
Let the cake cool.
Spread whip cream over cake, then sprinkle flaked coconut on top of the cake.
Keep in the refrigerator.  
I like this cake better on the second and third day.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Easy and Make Ahead Recipes

It's time to think about recipes.  I'm going to suggest a few that can be made several days ahead of your get-together.  And if I think of any others in the days ahead, I may add a few more.

The following is easy to make and guests go back for more.  If you have any left over, they are good for a main dish.

Easy Appetizers / Hors d'oeuvres

Easy Slow Cooker Barbecued Meatballs

2 -16 ounce packages of frozen meatballs (about 60)
1  20 ounce can of pineapple chunks undrained
1  regular sized bottle barbecue sauce (1 to 1-1/2 Cups of Sauce) I think I  
                                                         used Bulls-eye BBS) 
1  sliced or diced green bell pepper

Cook for 5 - 8 hours on low.  Slow cookers can vary in temperatures, but it would be very hard to cook these too long.  Also, if you are a creative cook you could spice these up according to your taste.  However, this is one of the easiest appetizers I have ever made.

Layered Mexican Dip

Buy a large bag of Tortilla Chips to serve along side this recipe.
All you have to do is layer the listed ingredients in the order given, then
put it in the refrigerator to heat up later or put it in the oven right away, then serve.  This is a really yummy dip.  I like it much better than the cold bean layered dip.  I put this in a 9 X 13 inch glass baking dish.

1 Can of Refried Beans (Regular Size)
Brown 1 pound Ground Beef with 1/2 Cup Chopped Onion
8 ounces Taco Sauce
1 1/2 or 2 Cups Shredded Cheese
Small Can Chopped Green Chilis (4 oz.)
Small Can Chopped Black Olives
1 Cup Sour Cream (a little tight spreading 1 cup, but can be done)
Optional:  Chopped green onion if desired

Bake at 350 degree f. for 25 minutes.  Serve with Tortilla Chips.


Make Ahead Dinners or Suppers


Ham, Roast, or Poultry  
Ham can be served cold after it is cooked.  
You could buy Whole Cooked Chicken from the Grocery Store Deli.
Or you could cook a Roast, Turkey Breast or Chicken in a Reynold's Oven Bag.  I have never had  dry meat when cooking in one of these bags.
See the directions in bags for oven temperature and cooking times.
Another choice would be cooking the meat in your slow cooker all day, but it
may be falling apart.  Remember, this is supposed to be easy.  Do what is easiest for you.  Oven Bags make clean up easier too.

Suggested seasonings:
Pork:  Garlic, Rosemary, Salt, and Pepper (Can cook this in a cooking bag too)
Chicken in the Bag:  Season inside and out.  Garlic Salt, Celery Salt, Pepper, 
                             Onion Salt, Paprika.  You can substitute Powdered Garlic
                              for Garlic Salt.  Shake seasonings on the whole chicken.
                              Follow directions for Cooking Bag.
Turkey or Turkey Breast:  You could put a cut onion and some cut stalks
                                    of celery in the cavity.  Don't fill it full.  Leave 
                                    room for heat to circulate.  Rub with butter.
                                    Salt and Pepper Turkey.

Bake sweet potatoes in oven with the main meat or poultry dish.  Serve with
butter, salt, and pepper.  Let guests butter, salt and pepper according to taste.

Or you could have Yellow Rice.  Note that most packaged yellow rice contains

Serve with chilled jellied and/or whole Cranberry Sauce.  Open both ends of cans for sauce to slide out in shape of can.

Possible Make Ahead Casserole for This Menu - this recipe tastes better if it sits in the refrigerator for a couple of days.  It is quite rich.

My Version of Spinach Madeleine (this is a tripled version which will fit in a 9 X
13 glass rectangular baking dish or a 3 quart casserole.  Bake without a cover. 

--large version for 15 to 20 people 
4 - 16 ounce bags chopped frozen spinach 
1 1/2 sticks of butter
1/4 Cup of flour plus 2 Tablespoons
1/3 finely chopped onions
1 1/3 Cups of Spinach Liquer (Juice drained from cooked Spinach)
1 - 12 ounce Can Evaporated Milk
1 Teaspoon Garlic Salt or Rounded 1/2 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 Teaspoon Celery Salt
1 Teaspoon Black Pepper
3 Teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce
1 3/4 Monterey Jack Pepper Cheese, cut into small chunks
1 Cup Sharp Grated Cheddar Cheese
Cayenne pepper to taste
Butter, and Breadcrumbs made with whole wheat or white bread, for topping

--regular version for 5 to 6 people fits in a 1 1/2 quart casserole
1 1/4 bag of chopped frozen spinach or 2 - 10 ounce boxes frozen spinach
1/2 stick of butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons finely chopped onions
1/2 cup spinach liquer (juice drained from cooked spinach)
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt or 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
4 ounces monterey jack pepper cheese
1/3 cup sharp grated cheddar cheese
cayenne pepper to taste
Butter and Breadcrumbs, for topping

Cook spinach as directed on package; drain in strainer, reserve spinach liquid.
Melt butter in saucepan over low heat.
Whisk in flour until smooth.
Add onion; cook until soft but not brown.  Stir while cooking.
Slowly add milk and reserved spinach liquid 1/2 to 1 1/2 Cups of liquid 
     depending on how much you are making.  Stir as you add liquids.
     until sauce is smooth and thickened.
Stir in garlic salt, celery salt, pepper, Worcestershire and cheeses;  
      continue stirring until smooth.
Add Drained Spinach to Sauce, or Combine in Large Bowl.
Pour into Casserole Dish.
Make your bread crumbs with bread by tearing into small pieces. 
      Melt some butter in a saute pan and stir your bread crumbs 
      around in butter.
Spread bread crumbs over mixture in casserole dish.

If you are chilling, cool before putting in refrigerator.  Cover and leave in refrigerator one or two days.  This also freezes well.  If you use a glass casserole dish, make sure you let it come close to room temperature before putting in oven, or it might crack.  

Bake at 350 to 375 degrees for 35 minutes to 40 minutes, until bubbly.

If you are cooking in oven right away, use the cooking time below.
Bake at 350 degrees f. until heated through and bubbly, about 15 to 20 minutes.  (This recipe always tastes better after it sits in the refrigerator for one or two days.) 

Salad and Rolls could be served with this meal, but our family did not find rolls necessary.

Light Dessert  such as, Sherbet, Sorbet,  or Key Lime Pie -- delicious versions
can be bought in the grocery store.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Did I Promise a Party?

Extended Family Enjoying One Another
It is a busy time of year, so I am going to make a bare bones blog post for you to read about types of parties.  I have a feeling that I am only skimming the surface, so feel free to comment and suggest ideas.  The first ideas I am choosing for the ease of getting it together.

First things first:  forget about comparing your home to someone else's.  Some of the best parties I have been to were in small, very modestly furnished trailers or apartments.  I have also been to some wonderful parties in beautifully furnished, large homes.  There were three key components that made these parties enjoyable:  fellowship, sharing the work, and creativity.  About creativity:  if you don't feel you are a creative person, borrow ideas from me, from Pinterest, or from magazines.  Above all, keep it simple so you can have enough energy to enjoy yourself.

1.  Impromptu Parties
    . Invite some friends home from church for soup and dessert.
    . Have your neighbors over for coffee and dessert, or wine and cheese.
    . Call a couple of friends and say, "Do you have any plans for tonight or 
      tomorrow?  I'd like you to come over for  ___________."
2.  Cookie Exchange
     This takes a little more preparation, because you will have to have coffee
      or tea, or both.  Also, you could have punch.  Some easy protein such as 
      cheese squares, which you can buy already cut up and a deli-tray with  
      the celery, carrots, dip, etc. might be nice, because it offsets the   
      sweetness of cookies.  Also, it is a nice thing for the carbohydrate 
      sensitive folks you know.   You could even ask someone who has a 
      problem with eating sweets to bring some of these items, instead of 
      cookies.  Ask your guests to make their favorite Christmas cookie, 
      perhaps a couple of dozen if you invite 10 people.  It would be nice
      if everyone made enough cookies to take some home on a paper plate,
      in one of those pretty colored boxes that look like Chinese carryout  
      (can buy these at a craft store, like Michaels), or in a small plastic
      container from the  grocery store.  Ask each person to bring 10 copies
      of their recipe, which is part of the exchange.      
3.  Cold Cut Trays from the Deli, a Variety of Breads, a Variety of Mustards, 
     and Mayonaisse & Beverages. Good for a small crowd or a large crowd.       
4.  Soup, Salad, Bread, and Dessert
     Good for a crowd or a small dinner party.
5.  Finger Food Buffet
     Have your friends bring their favorite party food.  You provide paper 
     plates, plastic forks, napkins, cups, and beverages.  
     If you don't like to use throw aways, be prepared to wash dishes or let 
     some friends help.
6.  Pot Luck
    This is the same idea as Finger Food Buffet.  If you want a little more  
     control, you could ask your friends to bring a vegetable, dessert, 
     beverages, or bread.  You could provide the meat.
7.  In addition to the various kinds of parties you can have, you could also do 
     a white elephant exchange.  Each guest brings a funny, yummy, or unusual 
     gift.  Each person draws a number:  #1 goes first, unwraps his/her gift,
     then the next person #2 goes.  #2 has the option of picking a gift to 
     unwrap or take the gift  from #1.  If  #1 gets his gift taken away, he 
     chooses another gift and unwraps it.  Play the game until everyone has an   
     opportunity to choose a gift.  One of the funniest gifts I remember seemed 
     very uncharacteristic for the person who unwrapped it.  She unwrapped a 
     toilet seat with sixties' type flowers painted on it, then proceeded to set it  
     on the couch and sit on it.  We were all young married couples,  and we
     could hardly stop laughing.  What I remember about that party is the 
     fun and fellowship.  Also, my best Texas friend brought either winter     
     squash or sweet potatoes with apples in it.  That party was over thirty
     years ago, and I still remember. 

I hope this gave you some ideas.  Tomorrow, I will give you some ideas and recipes for a make ahead menu.

By the way, do not forget the power of deli-cheesecake, frozen pies, and cakes from the bakery.  Also, for those who are on a frugal budget: there are some delicious bean and hambone soups that I have never seen anyone turn down.

P.S. Did I remind you?  Let friends and family help.  And it doesn't have to be perfect, whatever that is -- maybe, imperfect Is perfect.

What's Important

Image Courtesy of [dan] /
Before I go any further on the subject of entertaining, I want to talk about our focus.  If our focus is on how beautiful our home is or isn't, than our focus is skewed.  If you are a Christian the focus of the season is the birth of Jesus Christ and how blessed we are that God loves us so much, He sent His Son to save the world.  Many people do not understand, nor care about this.  They just love the festivity of the season, the thoughts of peace and good will.  The thing is that we would not have those without Jesus Christ.  

I know there are religions that celebrate at this darker time of the year to bring light into their lives, but I know of no light that is stronger or more real than the one true God, His Holy Spirit, and His Son.  This is not a politically correct statement, but I told you I would be honest.  There is no way I can leave this out of the equation, because this is why I celebrate year round, not just at Christmas. Jesus was not born in a palace, but a stable:  He comes to each one of us regardless of our station in life:  rich and poor, sick and well, young and old, aristocrat and commoner, CEO of a company and CEO of a home (homemaker), whoever you are -- He came for your salvation.

I would be remiss if I did not tell you, you can be joyful and celebrate the season without decorations and fancy feasts.  You do not have to decorations, even though they are enjoyable.  If all I have is the energy to straighten up my house and do the everyday normal, I am still going to be happy.  Can you do that?  Can you take joy in what you can do, not focus on what you can't do?  What we can do is going to be different for all of us.  For many of us, this differs from year to year.

I want a Christmas tree.  I want decorations.  However, I do not know if I will accomplish this or not.  As it draws closer to Christmas, I can see that just a touch of festive decorations may be all I can manage.  I will be joyful if I have none and joyful if I have some.  I will do what I can do, and I am going to focus on why I do it.  I do it to celebrate the birth of my Savior Jesus Christ.  Now, I will go eat my late breakfast and be glad I got this straight in my own mind and heart.  What's important for you?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Getting Ready for Entertaining

Image Courtesy of [Ventrilock]/
Another suggestion is hanging Christmas Balls
from a Chandelier at different levels or hang them
inside a window or over the headboard of a bed.
So you want to entertain this Christmas season or for New Years?  First, smile, because it is fun to decorate and plan;  moreover, it is nostalgic to sit in a room with just the Christmas lights, candlelight, and music.  If you are dreading entertaining, you need to rethink the whole thing;  because it will stress you and draw the energy right out of you.  Just visit friends and family, or go to a restaurant if the idea of having a party seems crazy at the stage of health you are in.

However, if you are going to have a party or dinner:

1.  Make a checklist of things you need to do and buy.
2.  Plan, Buy, and Cook ahead of time.
3.  Hire a decorator and a caterer.
4.  Barring the ability or desire to do number three, get the parts of your house you are going to decorate ready this week and decorate on the weekend.  Also, I have an anti-FlyLady suggestion.  If you have things sitting around that you do not have time or energy to take care of until after the holidays -- box them up and put them in the garage, attic, closet, or trunk of your car.  If you can afford it, you can always rent a storage pod or shed.  However, the danger is you will leave the things you put in the box and not unpack it.  There is a tendency to ignore stored boxes, whether stored at home or otherwise.  The box idea is a desperate measure.
5.  Make your decorating simple, not elaborate.  Candles and greenery, such as ivy, holly, or cedar looks nice on mantles and the center of tables.    Another simple and cute idea for decorations is wrapping some different sized small boxes and stacking them on dressers in the bedrooms.  This looks very festive.  In fact, you could possibly let some of those boxes contain real gifts for  Christmas Day.    Also, glass Christmas balls in a  bowl or glass containers look beautiful.  
6. Spread decorating your tree over several days if you have many ornaments.  Some day, I want to get a tree that already has the lights on it.  I love real trees, but I have not bought one for about 15 years.  The fake tree is definitely easier and it never turns brown.  Moreover, there is nothing wrong with having a small tree.  It does not make your Christmas Spirit less, because you have a small tree.  Just the fact you want to entertain, shows you have an enormous amount of Christmas spirit.  It is the fellowship that is important.  By the way, have you ever thought of putting small inexpensive Christmas presents in a wicker basket with Christmas bows on it?  That would be very cute.
7.  Your house or apartment does not have to be perfect.  You do not have to clean the oven and mop all the floors.  Your company is going to walk on those floors, and if you have children over, the floors will definitely be dirty when they leave.  I am seriously thinking of buying some antibacterial wipes for quick clean ups.  They are something I don't usually buy, but they would be nice to have for quick cleanups in the bathrooms and in the kitchen.

During the next couple of days, I will write about some easy party and menu ideas.  Also, I will try to come up with some simple last minute ideas for a spontaneous party.  Perhaps, you have some great ideas you would like to share on  my facebook page:  I would love to hear from you.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Grandmother's Adventure

I wanted to come home after three and a half days of being with my daughter, son-in-law, and seven grandchildren and tell you I feel great, that I paced myself so well I got all the rest I needed.  I told my husband that I had always promised to tell you the truth;   and I want to give you a glossy, spiffed up me instead of the truth that I am exhausted.  By the time I got out of the car in our driveway, I could barely walk.    After sitting in the car for two and  one half hours, I could barely move my knees.  It's a good thing I took my cane with me.  I needed it for going up steps and down steps, also for getting out of chairs.

The knee thing is a little more than my regular fibromyalgia.  I sat down in a chair Monday to put on my socks and shoes, and I felt something snap on the outside of my knee.  Of course, because I am favoring my right knee, now my left knee hurts too.  Since I am home now, I can rest and have some quiet, but I still miss the pitter-patter of little feet around me.   So this afternoon, I have watched Christmas movies, tried to write, and also almost fallen asleep several times.  Right now, we are watching The Canadian Tenors on PBS, and I have tears in my eyes.  The emotion that wells up in me as they sing in my super-fatigued state is almost too much, but how can I not listen to the glorious music?

So what can I tell you about balancing your life and pacing yourself?  Do the best you can;  but sometimes, you have to be the yourself and live with the consequences.  When special moments come to spend with children or grandchildren, it is almost impossible to hold back, unless you are already totally exhausted.  I planned as much as I could, giving myself plenty of time to cook my casserole and pies.  I was totally unstressed the day we left.  I do not remember any time in my life I have felt less stressed, than when we left on Wednesday.    However, my body thought differently.
I had decided to work in my art journal, and all of a sudden
I became the center of interest.  It started with our 3 year old
grandson joining me and painting with markers, then switching
to my watercolors.  A couple of the older children wanted a
demonstration of automatic drawing, which was not what I
had planned at all.   You can guess what happened.  Coloring the
automatic drawing became a kind of free for all.  Know what --
it was absolutely wonderful.  We had fun!

Even though my daughter has quiet times for the children everyday and even though I took naps everyday, the seemingly constant motion of family in and out and around tired me out.  I enjoyed all the special times with them.  We read, we walked  outside, we played with the dog, played basketball, and made Christmas decorations. They even helped me paint in my art journal after some of the children did their own pictures.  We did spread these activities out, and my basketball playing was limited to throwing a few baskets.

One thing that made me really happy was I could not have done the things we did a year ago.  That seems to be the nature of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia;  therefore, I plan to pace myself in my daily life and enjoy the special moments.  Right now, I am saying it is worth the way I feel now, if my grandchildren have good memories of our times with them.  Also, they know that I put out extra for them, that I cannot do the things I did several years ago.  When knees and other parts of the body do not work right and one is using a cane, it becomes an obvious picture of ill health.  Love covers many of the downsides of too much activity, and this was one of those times.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Prepare to Entertain

Decorating and entertaining during the Christmas Season can be tiring for even healthy people.  For those of us who have chronic illnesses, it is more of a challenge, but not impossible.  I will be posting ideas to make this easier for you if you are determined to do this during the holidays.  I was especially inspired by a recent comment by a fellow blogger, IlanaNovember 18, 2012 12:19 PM who wrote,
Hi Deborah! Great post, I'm really looking forward to your advice on dealing with the holidays. This is really my first year in my own house celebrating Christmas and Hannukah and I really want to be festive, have parties, and be able to bring treats to all of the gatherings--but the fatigue is a real barrier and I want to be able to enjoy and really contribute! So I do get how you're feeling! 

Since I have been married 41 years and I have had very active Fibromyalgia and other illnesses for about 18 years, I think I can come up with some ideas for you.  

1.  Write down your plans.  After you have set a date or dates for whatever kind of gathering you are going to have in your home, you should begin making a list of your theme, what kind of food you are going have, etc.

2.  Consider what you are going to be invited to:  family, friends, and business functions.  I would plan according to that.  Depending on the extent of your illness, you will probably have to pick and choose what you go to, or even leave early.  Every year since I have been ill, I end up with the January blahs.  The last few years it has taken two or three months to recover.  That is what I want to avoid this coming year, and I hope you can too.  Don't try to be wonder woman or super man.  Realism is an important element to preserving our health.

3.  If you are entertaining, enlist some help in cleaning the house and decorating.  You don't have to do it all.  In fact, the decorating does not have to be elaborate.  If you are in your first home, people are not going to expect you to have a collection of ornaments to put on your tree.  That is something that builds over the years.  And let me tell you, it is tiring to decorate;  so spread it out over two or three days or longer if necessary.  I know it is fun, but it is not worth making yourself sicker.

I can't wait to see my grandson's faces,
 when they see their decorated pictures.
Yesterday, I made them cards on the  computer.
  I am sure that must have been good craft therapy.

I am planning to share some ideas for easy parties and meals.  So check in later.  I am almost ready to go.  All I have to do is pack.  The birthday presents are wrapped -- we have two birthday boys.  The pies were made yesterday and the casserole was made on Monday.  I can hardly believe Thanksgiving is tomorrow.  

I didn't get all my little projects done, and that is OK.  I knew I had to rest and I am glad I stopped.  In the past, I would have pushed myself, even stayed up all night.  So maybe, I have learned a few lessons well.  

Monday, November 19, 2012

Sidetracked or On Track?

All I need is one small thing to sidetrack me.  My mind can really get going on that plant I have been meaning to clip out of the gardens for months or that drawer that needs to be cleaned out.  Does that happen to you? Do you ever walk by something and after 20 to 30 minutes, you realize your body isn't used to what you are doing, but you want to finish the job?  That happened to me, because I told my husband I would take the dog out, because he couldn't come home for lunch.  One thing leads to another.

When I started clipping those weed plants, that you can't pull out, I just kept going.  I am semi-glad I stood up and got sugar water poured on my head and back from the hummingbird feeder.  At least, it slowed me down.  To top it off -- those plants have absolutely nothing to do with getting ready for Thanksgiving.  Urgh!!

Speaking of Thanksgiving for those of you who live in the USA, are you having to prepare food or the house for family and friends to come over?  If you are I hope you have already done your shopping.  It is amazing how certain items seem to disappear from the shelves.  Are you like me?  Have you always known your pie tastes better than store bought, so you would put yourself in extra fatigue and pain to make it?  Is it a matter of pride?  I can only ask these questions, because I have been there so many times.  Next question:  is it worth doing that to yourself at this late date?  Homemade pumpkin pie tastes good at Christmas time too.  And I don't know if you can have pumpkin pie at Hanukkah and some of the other religions.  That just happens to be one of our family traditions.  Have you ever bought a smoked turkey?  Ummmm... Ask other people to help.  Buy rolls that you just stick in the oven, instead of making them.

If you are beginning to feel stressed and overloaded, give yourself a break.  I have learned there are times I can't have my pumpkin pie and eat it too.  I enjoy being with my family more when I have saved some energy for being with them. This year we are going to our daughter's house for Thanksgiving;  and I am taking pie and a casserole, but they can both be prepared a couple of days ahead.  So today, I will cook the casserole.  It tastes better after it sits a couple of days anyway.  However, if I run out of steam, I  will not hesitate to send my husband to the store for pumpkin pie.  Also, as a good friend reminded me today, I don't have to clean my house before I go.  The mess is not going to go anywhere:  it will still be here.  I sure do love my friend.

Incidentally, did you know you do not have to go to the store on Black Friday?  Isn't that awful?  We have a wonderful holiday to thank God for our blessings;  then, the day after is Black -- yuck --why couldn't it be white or green or red or Family Friday?!  Some stores are opening on Thanksgiving.  I feel so sorry for employees that have to work on a family holiday, unless, they are in the travel industry or medicine.  My dad had to work if it was his day to work, so we always timed our family celebrations when he was going to be home.  That was an aside -- back to shopping.  

Since I have been ill, I have been letting my fingers do the walking on the computer more than I ever did before.  I have to admit to having been an fan for several years.  I even get most of my purchases delivered for free.  It is worth a Prime Membership, because it saves on shipping.  My grandkids love getting a box in the mail from Amazon.  They will even put a message in there for you.  We would love to be there for all their birthdays, but sometimes my husband's work schedule doesn't allow or I am too sick.  

Speaking of stores, I hope the ads on my site do not offend you.  I don't work outside the home anymore, so I thought this would be a way I could save money for my next computer.  Unfortunately, computers don't last forever.  I just want you to know that I started my blog to help other people with chronic illnesses, not to make money. Moreover, I love having the ability to post things that have helped me or I think are cool.  I am full of asides today.  I just wanted you to know, the blog is for you.  That is the important thing. It is my heart's desire for you to be blessed.  I am praying for a happy and healthier holiday for you.  God bless!

Gentle hugs, 


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Holiday Color, Speaking of Hair

Last week, I not only felt sick:  I wanted to look good with the least amount of effort.  I was tired of having wet hair hanging on my neck from going into sweats -- not perspiration, ladies and gentlemen -- but out and out sweats that made my hair feel like I had poured water over it.  So with much trepidation, I asked my husband to drive me to the hair salon to perform the dastardly deed. Yes, I let the stylist cut my hair short.  It took me a week to tell anyone I had it done.  I am blessed to have a husband that tells me to keep things simple.  If I was happy with short hair, so was he.

Please don't think I am telling anyone this is the answer to simple.  We all have our own answers to what hairstyles work best for us according to hair type and face shape.  I had just come to that moment I had to have a different hairstyle.  I felt sick, old, and frumpy;  and I know all I had to do was  fix my hair.  However, wet hair on the neck ruins the hairstyle and makes me cold. Plus, i didn't feel like fixing it.  Maybe, it was one of those woman things:  I needed a change.  And hair does grow, so I could let it grow again if I got tired of it.  I also have to admit to having browsed wigs on the internet.  Cutting my hair was an adjustment:  having another option sounded good too.  

My head felt like it had lost 5 pounds.  Woo hoo!  It felt good.  But was I satisfied with that?  Of course not, so yesterday, I bought a highlighter kit.  I was not paying forty dollars to pull a few pieces of hair through a cap, especially if my husband would help me pull strands through the holes.  I knew I would be stressed if I did it by myself.  So you know who helped me.  True love has got to be your husband of 41 years or any amount of years agreeing to help you color your hair.  This was a first for us and it was actually kind of fun.  Did I mention we are on a tight budget?  He was all for saving thirty-five dollars.

Now, for the warning:  read your directions first.  If you haven't colored your hair for a long time and you are having brain fog, let your husband read the directions too.  Or check off each item as you do it in addition to reading the directions first.  Why am I telling you this?  I read the directions through, mixed the Frosting Developer and the Lightening Powder in the little tub.  Then, we put it on my hair and left it.   After the time was up, my husband helped me rinse and shampoo in the kitchen sink.  Then I put the conditioner on and it felt strange.  My brain went into oh-oh mode, I put my glasses on, and I realized i was supposed to mix the "conditioner", which was Protective cream in with the developer and powder.  We both mildly panicked and my DH said nervously, "We better get that stuff out of your hair fast."  So we shampooed again.

The stories we all have about Brain Fog could probably fill volumes.  My hair looks fine  (whew!), I like the highlights, and I feel one step closer to making the holidays easier.  Also, I made it to our Worship Services this morning, without feeling stressed, hurried, and nervous.  An hour ago, I emptied out another moving box:  it felt like early Christmas.  Life is Good, even with brain fog.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Finding a Way to Survive the Holidays

What is special about this tree?  Not the perfect placement
of ornaments or the symmetry of the branches.  The special
thing about this tree is my grandchildren helped Grandpa
put it up and they opened the Christmas boxes and placed
the ornaments on the tree for Grandma.  It was a joy watching
them have such fun, hearing them ooh and ahh over the
ornaments,  and not worrying about whether the tree was
decorated like I would do it.  Sure, I changed a few around
after they left and I added more.  But seeing this picture
reminds me of the joy and love we have for one another.
Is there anybody else out there having a love-hate relationship with the holiday season?    Please understand, when I say hate, it is not the holidays themselves that bring that word into my vocabulary;  because I have always loved everything about them--the true meaning of being thankful to God for blessings great and small, for the fulfillment of prophecy in Jesus being born for the sake of mankind, and celebrating with friends and family.  

I suppose it is the changes in my life that have made each year more of a struggle.  Maybe, it is because I am reminded that I cannot do things the way I used to do them.  Sometimes, I wonder how I ever prepared the great feasts for my family, sang in the choir, volunteered in the community,  baked cookies and pies, wrapped presents, and not only cared for my family--but I played with them too.  Any time I could think of a way to make a special day and meal, so they would feel loved and we would spend time together I found a way.  How often I have thanked God for the creative mind He gave me, because it has been so helpful in my life.

Actually, last night I felt like something was eating at me, but I didn't quite know what.  I tried to write and there was a barrier there;  but now, I know the barrier was my feeling of inadequacy.  And I felt guilty, because I have sat  in my recliner so much the past two weeks.  In fact, after I finished working on the new background and header for this blog, I felt almost like I was waking up from a dream.  I am sure that is from a mixture of the brain going to another place during the creative process;  moreover, my routine has been decimated from being sick.

I would like to have my house at least halfway shipshape before Christmas.  It doesn't have to be perfect, only almost perfect -- just kidding.  However, I can only do what I can do, and I am not going to let myself get in a tizzy over what I cannot control.  I cannot help being fatigued:  that's a major part of the illness of FM and CFIDS.   I have to take care of myself first, or I cannot take care of anyone else.  Is there anybody reading this, who has already had the struggle of which I write?  Are you already wanting to do the fun things like decorating that take so much energy, but you dread being more tired or giving out entirely?  

My advice is to be careful to do only what you can do, because it is the spirit of the season that is important, not making our houses look like a magazine page.  I am hoping to listen to my own advice, as well, because I would love avoiding the January Doldrums, which is what will happen if I overdo.  

Therefore, I have a proposal, which may work for some of us -- I will write a day to day account of how to do some of the enjoyable holiday things without going into meltdown. Today is a new day and I am always ready to find a way to do things better with less energy, or at least save some for later.  So get ready for a new series for those of us that haven't finished all our Christmas cleaning, shopping, baking, wrapping, and decorating.  Intertwined will be honest accounts of how things are really going in my life.  Our bodies often are nervous, panic-ridden, and in pain under pressure;  however, the goal is to enjoy a season filled with peace and joy, regardless of our circumstances.  If you can find the time, perhaps you can go to my Facebook page, Balancing Life Changes / Living Better With Chronic Illness.  I am setting a goal for myself to have one useful idea added to it each day to make our holidays easier to deal with, no matter what your age, your faith, or your circumstances are.