Friday, January 31, 2014

Stop bugging me influenza!

If you wonder where I have been this week, it is in bed or in the recliner.  The flu bug hit me with all of it's nasty exhaustion and upper respiratory symptoms.  My eyes have been a mess.  The skin around them hurts.  The weird thing is I am not as achy as I was last time I had the flu:  that was about 18 years ago.  

I have been taking a writing break;  and, it is probably a good thing since my brain is mush at the moment.  Flu and sinus headaches do something to my creativity.  

I could think up suggestions for jobs around the house;  but since I do them with you, I would feel so fake.  Or maybe, it is because I cannot imagine doing anything right now.  

If you want me to come up with some ideas for next week, let me know.  

Saturday, January 18, 2014

A Time to Write, A Time to Grandmother

Image courtesy of [sattva]/

A precious baby boy

 has made his entrance

into our world, so this Grandma

is a little busy right now.

Don't worry. 

 I will be back in the writing cycle

  and back on Facebook before you know it.

Love from 

a grateful grandma,


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Favorite Easy Winter Recipes

These are the recipes I promised. We liked them.  The Christmas Salad Recipe is good all year 'round, and a good make ahead recipe. You can do the broccoli ahead and warm it up the next day.  It is even better left over.  I love slow cooker recipes.  I don't know why I don't make them more often.  If you get tired from standing,  do what you can from a sitting position. Also, consider using a rolling cart to gather ingredients and other things you need for cooking.  We added one to our kitchen when I was recovering from hip surgery.  It saves on the walking if you have a galley style kitchen like I do.

The first two recipes were part of our Christmas dinner.  They were easy to make;  and, they would be delicious with any type of meat.  The last two were for New Years Day dinner.

Christmas Jello 

That is how I will always think of this jello, because it red, green, and yummy.  I thought it would take me a couple of days to get these recipes out for you, but I have been in slow mode.  Anyway, this jello salad is the sweet and the coolness one needs when eating rich meats and casseroles.  

1 (3 ounce) box cherry Jell-O 
1 (3 ounce) box lime Jell-O gelatin
1 (21 ounce) can cherry pie filling
1 (16 ounce) can crushed pineapple (Do not drain)
1 (8 ounce) container cream cheese 
miniature marshmallow

First Layer
Dissolve the cherry jello in 1 cup of hot water, then stir in cherry pie filling.  Pour into a 9x13 inch glass dish that has been sprayed with Pam or another non-stick spray.  This will help it slip out of the dish easier when you cut into squares.  Chill the jello in the refrigerator until set. I made my first layer the night before I made the second layer.

Second Layer
Dissolve the lime jello in 1 cup of hot water, then add softened cream cheese.  Mix with a mixer, so there are small bits of cream cheese, not totally dissolved cream cheese.  Then, stir in pineapple.  Pour this over your first layer and let set in refrigerator.  (I did have family members that said pecans would have been good in the top layer, but I wanted to keep the dessert refreshing not overly heavy.)

After the second layer has partially set, gently push miniature marshmallows evenly into the top.

Broccoli Casserole (Easy and Delicious)

20 ounces frozen chopped broccoli
1 (10 3/4 ounce) can cream of mushroom soup (today's size works fine -- I think it is a little smaller)
1 cup (4 ounces)  shredded Cheddar Cheese, divided in half (sharp is good)  
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup mayonnaise     
2 eggs, beaten
Dash of red pepper

Cook broccoli according to package directions.  Drain and spoon into a lightly greased 10 x 6 x 2 inch baking dish.  In a bowl combine soup, 1/2 cup cheese, milk, mayonnaise, eggs and red pepper.  Spoon soup mixture evenly over broccoli.  Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese and paprika.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.   [6-8 servings]  This recipe doubles easily and can be put into a large casserole dish or a long glass dish.

Corn Bread  

 Adapted from the Better Homes and Garden New Cookbook published in  1968.  A friend of mine asked for this, and I don't know if the other editions have the same recipe.  Also, I made mine with white cornmeal.  (Actually, last time my DH made it, and he did a wonderful job.  It was perfect.

1 cup sifted unbleached flour 
1/4 cup sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoons sea salt
1 cup yellow or white cornmeal
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/4 cup shortening

 I hardly ever sift anymore, because flour comes sifted;  however, the recipe says to Sift the flour with sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Mix in cornmeal.  Add eggs, milk, and shortening.  Beat with electric beater, until just smooth.  (Do not overbeat.)  Pour into greased square 9x9x2 pan.  Bake at 425 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.  

Black-eyed Peas, Ham, and Sausage Stew  

(Wonderful Slow Cooker meal)

(6 servings)

1/2 pound bulk pork sausage
1 small onion, diced or sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons minced parsley
2  15 ounce cans black-eyed peas, not drained
1/2 pound cooked ham, cubed
1/4 cup dry white wine -- I often use cooking wine 

Lightly brown sausage.  In slow-cooking pot, alternately layer the ingredients.  Hold wine until all ingredients are layered, then pour wine over the layered ingredients.  Cover and cook on low for 5 to 7 hours.  

 This meal is easily doubled.  I doubled it for 4 adults and 3 teenagers, and it was almost eaten up.  This tastes great with a green  salad and cornbread.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Getting Back Into Your Routines

Image Courtesy of [imagerymajestic]

Getting back into our routines is hard after Christmas and New Years.  I wonder if you do what I sometimes do.  Do you start thinking about the things you said you were going to do in the new year, but you haven't finished them or even gotten started?  Do you plan to clean the house, so it doesn't lose the spit and polish it had during the holiday season?  If this happens, don't feel like you are all by yourself;  and, prepare yourself to jump right in where you are.  

Don't worry if you have been feeling off.  You can clean your house, baby step by baby step.  If you feel depressed, it will help your depression every time you accomplish one of those steps -- at least, it seems to do that for most people.  Here is a quote from my April 21, 2013 post, Perfectionism, Procrastination, Or Both?

Image Courtesy of [David Castillo Dominici]/
I know the chronic illness is often the thing that gets in the way.  When we are in pain and unrelenting fatigue assails our bodies, our routines often fly out the window.  We wonder how to get started up again, as we compare what we used to do with what we get done now.  I understand.

The best example I can think of ... comes from my own personal life... I started getting rid of the clutter in my dining room, which is also my  workroom, and the most used entry into our house.  I had a goal, which included having the table and sideboard decorated for Easter.  However, as I worked, I realized I needed to organize my arts and crafts supplies or box everything;  also, I was working on a couple of blog posts... I had other things that had to be done too:  laundry, bathrooms that needed to be cleaned, blogs and Facebook pages to tend to.

 "What's the point?",  you may ask.  The point is not finishing the dining room did not kept me from working on it a little bit at a time.  I have done the necessary everyday things, which I can rarely finish in one day... I jump in where I am.  I try to do a little bit everyday.  On the days I feel better, I may do a little more.

An example would be the bathrooms I cleaned on Saturday.  I cleaned the sinks and counters in both bathrooms, and in one I wiped down the toilet.  I had done the inside and outside of the half bath toilet two nights before, so I concentrated on the things that needed cleaning the most.  I didn't do the shower in the big bathroom, because  it was too big a job for me to tend to that day.  Nor did I do the inside of the toilet bowl in the master bath, because I was plumb out of energy...  

The point is I have not let perfectionism keep me from cleaning my bathrooms.  It is not an all or nothing thing.  My house is cleaner than it was a month ago.  In fact, I was able to rest comfortably when I needed to, because I had cleaned the toilet bowl  less than a week ago.   I feel good about what I'm doing, because I am making progress.  Truthfully, I doubt my house will ever be as clean as I used to keep it when I was healthy.   But, that does not mean I have to give up.  Nor do I have to compare myself with people that are physically able to do more.  I am doing what I can do, baby step by baby step.

Image Courtesy of [Grant Cochrane]/

Are you with me?  Are you ready to work on those bathrooms this week?
If you have enough energy, you can do this in more than one bathroom;  but, I recommend choosing the bathroom that you think needs the most attention.

Tuesday:  Pick up the things that do not belong on the bathroom floor:  dirty towels, discarded clothes, shoes, and toys.  Put those towels in the washing machine if you have a load.  

Wednesday:  Clean off that counter and the back of the toilet.  Put away the things that do not belong there.  Throw away any trash you see in the bathroom.

Thursday:  Assemble your tools for wiping off your bathroom counters and the bathroom sink.  Wipe it down.  Dry it off.  Doesn't it look nice?  Hint:  Keep your cleaning tools in a carrying container like a bucket or under your sink.  If you have small children, be sure to childproof your cabinets.

Image Courtesy of [twobee]/

Friday:  Soak and Scrub the toilet with your toilet brush.  With a rag or paper towel, wipe off the back, the tank, the cover and seat, and underneath the seat.  If you have little boys, you may need to wipe all the way down to the floor, otherwise use your discretion.  I am still looking for a long handled tool to do this, because it is quite painful for me to bend and get in the spaces I use to clean.  Sometimes, I clean the bottom of the toilet with my mop, while doing my mopping. 

Saturday or Monday:  My shower could use a wipe down.  How about yours?

Tuesday:  Are you sick of working on the bathroom?  Here is an optional task:  Mop, depending on how long it has been since you mopped the bathroom floor or whether it needs it. 

Hint: If you take a handi-wipe and wipe off that sink, counter-top, and toilet now and everyday -- your job will be easier every time. 

This is a way of spreading out your work in an area and making it easier.  I like to set a timer for 15 minutes;  however, if I am too fatigued, I set the timer for 5 or 10 minutes.  

We can do this together!



P.S.  One day, I am going to put wiping down the cabinets on that list.  

Monday, January 13, 2014

When Taking a Shower and Getting Dressed Wears You Out

Image Courtesy of winnond

Sunday, on my Facebook page, Chronic Fatigue and Creative Decluttering, I made the statement:  Sometimes, I have to "make" myself do things like getting dressed, when it seems like it should be the simplest thing in the world. It would be dishonest for me to make it sound like everything I do is easy... There were several comments that let me know I am not the only one that feels that way. 

It takes energy to dress, to take a shower, to fix hair, and to put on makeup. It isn't that people with illnesses don't care about how they look.  It is just hard to have enough energy left to do housework or go shopping when we spend much time on how we look.

Image courtesy of  nuchylee/

One of my readers had a great suggestion for starting the day.  Since I love the way she worded her suggestion, I got permission to quote her. Nicole Whittaker says,  Sit in a comfy chair for twenty minutes.  Drink a glass of water.  It gently gets your body energy [flowing].  Use a shower chair, loverly smelling body wash.  Then something simple for breakfast.  Cereal and milk.  (Gently wakes you up, removes stress and gives you something to look forward to instead of dread, because you are taking your time, but doing something.)

If you start out your morning rushed with somewhere to go, Nicole's method is hard to do.  However, if you prepare, it is possible.  One has to prepare to work around one's needs.  If I have someplace I need to go in the morning, I take my shower the night before.  I dry my hair with my styling tools, so all I have to do in the morning is simple touch ups.  Also, I plan what I am going to wear the night before.

Rushing is an energy killer.  When you feel rushed, it's like a vacuum cleaner has sucked out all the energy, and left you feeling stressed and nervous. Therefore, think ahead when you know you have to go somewhere and prepare.

Image courtesy of graur codrin

Some  cleaning gurus are real sticklers about getting dressed, but good looking lounge clothes, yoga pants, as well as comfortable leggings and tunics are comfortable everyday wear.  You can even crawl back into bed if necessary. However, there is something to be said for getting dressed.  It helps you to feel ready for the day.  Also, you are ready to walk out of the house at a moments notice.

However, there is nothing wrong with cleaning in pajamas.  I have done it before, and I will probably do it again.  And it is lovely taking a shower after cleaning, usually sitting on my shower chair, because I am so very, very tired.  You know the feeling--more than fatigued.  Finding language that helps a healthy person understand the bone-deep post exertional malaise is often difficult.  Most of us do not entirely understand, unless we have experienced it.  And once you have experienced what people with CFS/ME or Fibromyalgia have experience, you would not wish it on anyone else.

Monday, January 6, 2014

10 Things To Do When You Are Dragging More Than Usual...

The new year seems like a time to jump in, to fire up the burners, and get going;  but, in reality, dealing with a chronic illness may leave you feeling deflated from all the activity during the Thanksgiving and Christmas season.  Even though you may look back with a grateful heart in remembering that time, it does not change that you probably expended more energy being out of your normal routine.  

Today, I'm not going to take the time to  talk about some of the things that can drain us of energy.  But, I would like to list some things to help us get back on track.  I say "us", because I am writing this to me too.  January and February have been slow months for me for quite a few years.  I have noticed 
a pattern, and I think this may be true for many of us. 

Image Courtesy of [-Marcus]/

When you are dragging more than usual, you can try...

  1. Making a shorter list of things to do.
  2. Listing 3 things to do, instead of 6 or 7.
  3. Breaking big jobs into smaller increments.
  4. Spending no more than 15 minutes on a chore -- rest -- then, finish.
  5. Delegating small jobs to other family members with age appropriate activities, letting them know how much they are contributing to family life. (This is great training for children.)
  6. Celebrating the things you are able to get done.
  7. Getting off your feet, and taking a break.
  8. Speaking to yourself with positive thoughts.  Don't let the negative take over.
  9. Slowing down, doing something you enjoy.
  10. Sitting by the fire.

Image Courtesy of [artur84]/

I hope this helps.



Sunday, January 5, 2014

Early Winter Report, 2014

Dear Readers,


I have been thinking of you off and on today, wondering how you are faring with the cold and dampness that  has invaded so many of our homes this winter.  I know this is common for those of you, who live where it snows;  and, it seems that many of us, wherever we are, north, south, east, or west find ourselves in pain during harsh weather or even mild weather changes.  I myself feel like the cold has gone bone deep.

My body does not seem to realize it is supposed to be warm when I have thick socks on my feet, and I have layers of clothing on my body.


After falling asleep so many times I lost count  yesterday (no pain medication) not  even NSAID's.   Was I catching up?  I actually slept through the night after getting up to use the bathroom;  then,  the dog woke me up with her barking at something outside.  Lucky me!  I have won the prize today;  knees that unbelievably painful today and fingers so affected by buzzy nerves and numbness, I am typing like only a few fingers work today.  It sure doesn't feel like they work, and I make more mistakes.  MAYBE,  tomorrow is the day to make a doctor's appointment.  Internist, orthopedist, or chiropractor?  Which one or the latter two?

Did I mention the Fibromyalgia pain?   That's pretty bad, along with the neck pain.  No fun, at all.

Need I say more?

Well, Yes!  I still have Faith.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Oops! I Forgot I Was Having Friends Over

Image Courtesy of  [stockimages]/
Have you ever forgotten you were going to have out of town visitors, whom you had not seen for years?  Not only had you not seen them for years, they were the kind of friends that were like a sister and a brother.  Moreover, to top the fact you did not remember they were coming -- you had invited them for a meal.  

Yep!  I did forget!  I couldn't believe I did that.

When my friends called on New Years Eve to say they would be here for lunch, there was no way I was going to say, "You can't come over, because  I momentarily forgot you were coming.  So sorry I've been in pain all week and I haven't done much in the house.  Oh!  I've had brain fog too.  Even though I haven't seen you for 13 years,  it just slipped my mind.  Brain fog, post Christmas lag, and mind-numbing pain have been my nemesis the last few days." 

Last year, I would have been full of anxiety and embarrassment over the state of my home.  I would have looked forward to their visit;  yet, I would have dreaded it at the same time.  However, last night, I was excited and I was calm.  The house was clean enough, except for one room:  the dining room, which is also my work room.   By the way, it would have been clean if I had not been tired and in pain before we left to visit our children and their families for Christmas.
Christmas Projects and
Last Minute Wrapping Station

What a relief!  There was only one room that absolutely had to be cleaned:  and, I wasn't feeling guilty over all the things I had not done, because I am learning to be successful at cleaning and getting rid of the clutter in baby steps.  One room was doable!  I would not feel rushed.

If you are wondering why I am telling you about my near mishap, it is because I did not get to this point overnight.  It took me three and a half years to get to the point I am now.  Learning new ways of doing what was easy before you were sick takes time and perseverance.  It also takes time to find out what works for you, not to mention overcoming flares and relapses along the way. 

Teens' Table
Yesterday, there was
wrapping paper
and bows in this area.

Finally, these are 6 things that made my job easier today:

  • I have steadily gotten rid of the clutter in my house for three and a half years.  Last year, I decided to declutter 365 items, one for every day of the year and I kept a journal listing those things.
  • Two major habits of the month have made keeping the clutter out of the rooms in our house simpler, especially in the living room and the area around my recliner:  1)  Never leave a room empty-handed.  2)  Declutter your "hot spots" for 15 minutes every day.  Click on this link for FlyLady's Definition of "Hot Spot."
  • My bathrooms were clean.  I spiffed them up with a quick squirt of toilet cleaner and using the brush in the toilet bowl.  Also, I wiped the sinks, counter tops, and toilet seats with a handy disposable germicidal wipe.  Hint:  Wear a disposable glove to protect your skin from harsh chemicals.  Rubbing alcohol on folded toilet tissue paper also works  in a pinch for a quick swipe in the bathroom.   
  • Make the bed every day with a coverlet or comforter that is easy to pull up to the head of the bed.My DH gets up before I do and pulls his side up, and he puts the pillow with the pillow sham on top of his pillow.  When I get up, I pull my covers up on my side and put the pillows in their proper places.  If I am feeling well extra neat, I go over to my hubby's side and smooth the covers.  
  • Planning ahead for today's menu made my job easier.  I had planned a slow cooker meal, and all I had to do was double it.  (My sweet DH went to the grocery store and bought two more cans of black-eyed peas.)  Maybe, I should start a file of easy recipes and always keep those ingredients on hand.
  • I let my sister-friend help me make the salad and put assorted beverages on the kitchen counter;  moreover, she knew what her family liked.  Their three teenage  children were visiting too.  Plus, we got in a little bonus girl time. 

Hosts' and Parents' Table

We had a wonderful visit, and we had time to sit in the living room after we ate to visit with the entire family in the same room.  Everyone was included in visiting and talking;   moreover, I think our "niece and nephews"  enjoyed our time together too.

P.S.  When you have a guest that is not feeling well, having a clean bedroom for him or her to lie down is a bonus.  Yes, that happened too;  and, he was able to take a nap.  All I had to do was pull the covers back, and our friends' oldest could lie down with no hassle, no clearing the bed.  I could not have done that a year ago on short notice.       

Tomorrow or Friday, I will share some easy recipes with you, including our slow cooker meal for today.  I have promised to share  this recipe with our friends, who visited today.

Any appearances of perfectionism was unintended.  We did not even vacuum the carpet or sweep the porch.  I still had an unpacked suitcase in my bedroom and a clothes basket with clothes in it.  The house was reasonably clean.