Hash Browns and Eggs

I love breakfast, and I love having breakfast for dinner too!

I made this for a late morning breakfast one day that I was off from work.  There isn’t much in the way of a recipe, you just fry these potatoes, make a hole and dump in the eggs. Easy!  And delicious!

I always keep a bag of these hash brown potatoes in the freezer mostly because I just dislike peeling and chopping potatoes BUT I use them in soups, quiches, and as a side dish.

Start by just frying your potatoes, add in chopped onions, salt and pepper to taste but I have to tell ya, I love using seasoned salt for fried potatoes.

I had a jar of roasted red peppers in the fridge so I chopped one up and added it to the potatoes just enough to heat before I added the eggs.

Clear away some potatoes and create a hole for each egg you want to add, turn the heat down low enough that nothing burns but yet enough heat to cook the eggs.

Pour in an egg in each hole you create, salt and pepper the egg and cover the pan.

I checked my eggs every few minutes, while the eggs cooked I made my toast.

Within about 8 minutes my eggs and potatoes were done and I was pretty much inhaling them!

Again, there isn’t much of a recipe to follow. This one is easy to just wing it!

Enjoy!

 

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Growing Butterflies

I have 3 Butterfly Bushes at my house.  I had been so disappointed most of the summer, I had no butterflies!  And then all of a sudden, I did!!!  I loved watching them and trying to snap photo’s.

 

But then, browsing through herbs that were marked down to a $1 at my favorite plant and produce place, I saw what I thought was a garden pest, possibly a large hookworm.  There was a sales person nearby so I left her know.  Before she even came over to look at what I was talking about, she was already telling me it was a caterpillar and would be a Monarch.

She said all I needed to do was to put it in a jar and watch it grow.  The parsley plant was mine!

My girlfriend wanted one too so I gave her the plant with the large caterpillar and the other sales girls found a very small, little black caterpillar.  Lucy and Ethel found new homes.

 

I found out later, after I had posted a picture on Facebook, that we had Black Swallowtails.  So, I researched what we needed to do to grow these little critters.

Since mine was so small, all I needed to do was to keep a few sprigs of parsley in the jar for the caterpillar to feed upon.  I had her in a mason jar, I removed the flat lid and just used a thin piece of paper towel with some very small holes poked through, and then just used the twist part of the lid to secure it.

I kept an eye on her daily, after she ate all the leaves of a sprig I simply removed the stem and added fresh.  They also poop!  So the jar needed a good cleaning every other day.

The growth was fast and furious!  And absolutely amazing!

And the larger she got, she ate more which meant she pooped more (and bigger!!) so I needed to clean the jar daily.

She was beautiful!  I couldn’t believe how quickly she changed.  In just one day she was bigger!

Once she reached a larger size, I put a small stick in the jar.  She didn’t bother with it for a few days, she still had some growing to do, and lots more eating.  I was afraid I would need to go get another parsley plant.  She had almost eaten all of the parsley plant that she was on when I got her.

   

Then one day when I came home from work, she was on the stick.  For a day or so she moved around the stick, I guess looking for a good spot to settle down.

One day she managed to find that comfy spot and she spun a silk button to attach herself to the stick.  I pulled the stick out to look at her closely, carefully placed her back in and then the next day she moved again.  Okay Lucy I won’t move you this time.

  

Then she hooked her head, curled in her legs and by the time I got up the next morning, she was a chrysalis.  This whole process took about 12 days.

I read that it could take 10-14 days for her to emerge.  The chrysalis changed colors, she turned brown and I thought for sure she died.

Ethel, my girlfriends Swallowtail had already morphed into a butterfly, she was gorgeous!  My girlfriend told me that I should be able to see her move as she is getting ready to emerge.

I swear one night I saw one end totally bend!  But after that I saw nothing, for days, I was convinced she died. Every moment that I walked past the jar I was peering in, like a peeping-tom, trying to witness some kind of movement from her.

Then one day, I came home from work, and she was on the paper towel trying to figure out how to get out!!!  Exactly 14 days!

I practically threw my stuff on the floor, grabbed my phone and the jar and went outside to my flowering butterfly bush.

I unscrewed the lid and carefully laid the paper towel over onto a flower.  She quietly sat and spread her wings for about 30 seconds which allowed me to snap a few photo’s.

 

Then she stepped off the towel and onto the flower for a few more seconds, and she took off!!  She circled my yard and was gone.

  

What a beautiful sight it was!  And an amazing thing to watch and experience!

But my story does not end here.  In the midst of Lucy’s transformation, I discovered I also had a Monarch outside.

I had ordered a Butterfly Weed/Milkweed online, early Summer so by the time it arrived and I got it in the ground it was July.  It didn’t grow.  And I was really disappointed.  Then one day it sprouted and grew only about 4 inches so I figured I would not have any luck with it.

I was mistaken!  The last week in August I was planting a Sedum near the Milkweed when I spotted this gorgeous creature!  I was so excited!

 

She was already pretty much full grown so she must have been there for about 2 weeks.  I began to read about what to expect, learned what I could and patiently waited.  Then she was gone.  Darn!  I figured something got her as I expected her to attach to the milkweed once she became a chrysalis.

But then I learned she could have traveled to a nearby plant to attach to.  I figured that would have been my Rose of Sharon since it was the closest.  My son, his girlfriend and I searched one afternoon but we couldn’t find her.

The next plant is one of my Butterfly bushes.  I needed to trim that back so as I did, I kept looking for the chrysalis.  Never found it.  I was convinced she was deep in the middle of the Rose of Sharon or sadly, something ate her.

Silly me. She was there, in the Butterfly Bush, near the bottom, still in caterpillar form.  Hanging upside down.  I wasn’t looking for that!  But I was soooooo happy to have found her.

 

She stayed in the J position what seemed like many days.  I always checked on her in the morning when I would leave my pup out, and I noticed nothing unusal.  Went to work but later that day I need to run home around 1 to have my fridge repaired.  Of course I went out to check on her.  She had begun the process of changing.  I kept an eye on her while I was home but I needed to run back to work for a few more hours.

By the time I had gotten home she was not quite done so I was able to watch her the rest of the evening.  The remaining change happened quickly, by the time it was getting dark she was finished.

 

Another 10-14 days of waiting for nature to do its beautiful thing! By now Lucy had just left me to explore the world in her short life time.

And then it happened!  Last Sunday morning when I left the pup out I meandered over to check on the Monarch, wishing and hoping today was the day so I could watch her while I was home.

I noticed the chrysalis had changed to a deep dark green.  Hmmmm, I didn’t remember reading about this color, only that it would turn to a clear covering so that I could see the black and orange wings inside.  But I kept watching, praying that she didn’t die.

Next thing I knew the chrysalis was black, I knew she was coming out today!

The bad thing for me was that it was so terribly hot.  It would be good for her to dry herself but the heat was killing me.  But I had things to do in the house so I would run inside to do a chore and then sneak back outside.

I could tell by the color change it would be soon but I couldn’t stand the heat so I brought out my rain umbrella to help give me a little shade.

The next thing I knew, she was out!  I missed part of it but not much.  All I could see was the body and lots of legs with curled wings struggling to grasp a good grip on the sack and stretch her body out.

It was hard to get good pictures because of her location on the bush and the morning sun behind her.  But I hunkered down to watch this amazing show.  Slowly her wings unfurled, she moved around a bit, turning and twisting on the sack.

    

Little by little her beautiful wings opened.  I read that she would need to hang upside down for 3-4 hours to dry her wings.  If she didn’t her wings wouldn’t be strong enough for her flight.  So after her wings were open, I left her alone and just occasionally checked on her.  Well, it only took her an hour and she moved up the bush. Opening and closing her wings.  And I could actually see the water dripping off of her!  I snapped a ton of pictures, she was gorgeous.

She seemed to take a test flight once in a while, jumping to a different flower.  Then, she surprised me and moved to the Rose of Sharon.  I stayed back for a while, only watching from the door.  I didn’t want to spook her.  And then I didn’t see her.  I stepped out on the door and took a step, it was just in time to watch her take off!

Monarch’s born at this time live the longest, over the winter to start a new generation in the spring.  She is on her way to Mexico or Southern CA.  How crazy is that?!?!?  This was one of the amazing things to watch.  I would suggest giving it a try if you find a parsley  plant with a caterpillar and invest in a milkweed plant to bring the Monarchs to your yard.  They do get infested with aphids, and being that this was my first attempt, I have not clue how to fight the aphids without harming the Monarch.

Live well friends!

 

Mexican Skillet Dinner

Get out your cast iron skillet!  This creation turned out way better than I had anticipated!  I loved it!  And it’ll be a recipe I use often.

I am trying to incorporate more veggies in my diet.  This dish is definitely the way to do it, I just love the combination of the spices and sauce with the veggies and rice.  And the topping of cheese is just an added benefit.

And its versatile so you can pretty much change the veggies and spices to your liking and serving size.  You can’t really mess this up.  Unless you burn it.  And that would be a tragedy!

This is perfect for those days or nights that you are just too darn tired to cook but you really need something healthy and filling.  It comes together quickly so I would suggest you have everything on the counter and ready to go.

If you do not have a cast iron skillet, you can still make this recipe you but you won’t be able to pop it in the oven for the final step.  Unless you have a skillet that you can wrap the handle so it doesn’t melt.  I have never tried that so I am of no help!

In a cast iron skillet, coat pan with enough olive oil to sauté your veggies.  Dice a half of green bell pepper, half of a yellow bell pepper, and a small onion. Toss into the pan, season with a little salt and pepper, sauté until tender.  Add in either frozen corn or corn freshly cut off the cobb.  Grilled corn is even better.

Here is where the variety comes in, you can use any veggie that you want.  Just make sure you start with the veggies that take longer to cook and end with your softer veggies.  Make sense?

When the veggies are cooked, I added my beans.  I used canned, small white beans. Stir well to heat. Again, you could use whatever bean you prefer.

I then grabbed my jar of sliced banana peppers and chopped a few of them up and tossed them into the pan.  You decide if you want them and how much heat you want.  You can use jalapenos, green chillis, or whatever you want for the heat.

Toss in cooked brown rice and your spices.  I used cumin, paprika, red pepper flakes, chili powder, and fresh thyme from my garden.

Stir until heated through.  Add red enchilada sauce.  Stir gently until heated and the ingredients are blended well.  Turn off the heat and top with your favorite cheese, I use shredded Monterey Jack.  Pepper Jack would be good too.  Or cheddar.  Well, probably most any cheese would work.

Broil in your oven until the cheese is bubbly.

Top with chopped parsley, sour cream, guacamole, more cheese, nacho chips and a good bottle of Shiraz.

Here’s the recipe:

Mexican Skillet Dinner

1/2 each of a green and yellow bell pepper, seeded, and diced

1 small onion, chopped and diced

1 cup corn, can be frozen, or grilled on the cob and cut off

1/2 T finely chopped banana peppers

3/4 to 1 cup cooked white beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup cooked brown rice

1-1/2 cup red enchilada sauce

Sale, pepper, season to taste

1/2 tsp each of cumin, paprika, chili powder, and season to taste

Dash or two of red pepper flakes

a sprig or two of fresh thyme, remove leaves from stems

About 2 cups of shredded cheese, I prefer Monterey Jack

Assorted toppings to serve: salsa, sour cream, guacamole, nachos, etc.

  1. Heat olive oil over a medium heat in a cast iron skillet, use enough oil to coat the skillet you are using..
  2. Saute peppers and onions until tender.  Salt and pepper to taste.  You can also start adding some of your spices,  I prefer to season each layer of food that I add.
  3. Add corn to sauté a little, especially if you’re using frozen.
  4. Add the beans, banana peppers and rice along with the rest of the spices.  Taste and adjust the spices to your taste. Stir until ingredients are heated, just a few minutes.
  5. Reduce heat, stir in enchilada sauce to coat and heat through.  Turn heat off.
  6. Cover top with as much shredded cheese as you like.
  7. Place skillet under the broiler until cheese is bubbly.  Don’t walk away.!
  8. Ladle each serving into a bowl, top with desired toppings.

I hope you love this dish as much as I do!  Live well friends!

 

Roasted Vegetable Pasta Salad

I love pasta, and I am always looking for different ways to prepare it.  So, for these hot summery days I thought pasta salad would be appropriate, but I didn’t want the same boring old recipe.

Typically, I just chop up broccoli florets, cut grape tomatoes in half, cube up cheese and maybe ham.  Toss with some sort of an Italian dressing and Salad Supreme.  That is super easy and delish for sure but I wanted something different.

Enter roasted vegetables!

I chopped a half each of a red and yellow bell pepper, and in a bowl they went.  Added about 1 cup of whole grape tomatoes and about 2 cups of broccoli florets.  I also added a handful of sugar snap peas, but in hind sight I probably won’t do that again.  I coated the veggies with extra virgin olive oil, salt and peppered them well and spread them out on my baking pan.

I use a baking stone (with sides) to roast my veggies and I absolutely love it!  The pan doesn’t look very clean but it is!  Don’t judge!

Popped them in the oven at 350 until they were tender, and roasted well.  Maybe about 30 minutes.

While the veggies roasted, I cooked my pasta, I used about a half of a box of penne.  To the water I added a large sprig of thyme from my garden to flavor the pasta.  It was a lovely hint of flavor and I will definitely be doing this again!!

When the pasta was cooked al dente, I drained it and put in a large bowl.  I removed the skins from the peppers and cut them into smaller pieces and added them to the pasta.  I put all the veggies into the bowl along with the oil from the pan.

To that I also added about ¼ cup of jarred sun-dried tomatoes, chopped, along with about a tablespoon of the oil from that jar.  I love sun dried tomatoes, they give any recipe a little boost of flavor.

I added just a sprinkling of thyme and tore up some basil to top the pasta salad and gave it a good toss.  I also topped the plated salad with some grated parmesan cheese.

This recipe is so versatile, you can use any veggies that you want.  You can mix up your herbs and try different spices too.

I think this would be wonderful with some herb infused olive oil too.

Give it a try, but if you want the recipe for what I did, here it is:

Roasted Vegetable Pasta Salad

½ Red Bell Pepper, seeds removed

½ Yellow Bell Pepper, seeds removed

1 cup Grape tomatoes, whole

2 cups Broccoli Florets

1 cup Sugar Snap Peas

¼ cup Sun Dried Tomatoes, jarred, chopped

Olive oil, salt and pepper

Penne Pasta, half of a box

Large sprig of Thyme to cook the pasta, reserve some thyme flakes to add to the finished dish

About 5 Basil leaves, torn

Grated Parmesan cheese for serving

Toss all the vegetables with olive oil, salt and pepper, season well and use enough oil to be able to coat the pasta salad when combining in the serving bowl.

Cook the pasta, add the thyme to the cooking water.

Remove the skin from the roasted peppers, cut in smaller pieces and add to the cooked and drained pasta.  Pour in the rest of the veggies along with the oil from the pan.

Add the sun-dried tomatoes, thyme and basil.

Toss and top each serving with grated parmesan cheese.

This will last a few days in the fridge and serves 2.

Enjoy!

Fibro Sunday, a little late…

I have been wanting to see a new rheumatologist for the last several months but I continually put it off. I think part of the reason that I didn’t make the appointment was that going to a new doctor can be difficult; and secondly, I have to tell another total stranger about all the pain I have and being told oh it’s just the fibro.

I was wrong! This doctor listened to every word I said, made notes as I answered his hundreds of questions, and took his time with me.

He is thinking I have been misdiagnosed and may not have fibro, sent me for bloodwork to check for Rheumatoid Arthritis. He also had me stop the arthritis meds and put me on steroids.

WOW! He said if by the 5th day I didn’t notice anything different, any improvement, to stop taking it. Well, by the time I went to bed that first night, the blanket did NOT hurt my toes, socks did not hurt my toes. Then next day I woke up and wasn’t quite as tired and stiff as I usually am, the third day I had a little more energy.

I am not pain free, but oh what a difference!

Tomorrow is the 5th day and I am positive I will be continuing the steroid regimen. I am totally amazed.

I have tried to have so many conversations with the doctor I was seeing about RA, because I had the markers show up in a blood test 3 plus years ago but she just continually said “Fibro”.

I don’t know for sure that I actually do have RA, but so far this new doc has me on the right track.

So I guess if I have any words of wisdom tonight, I would say to always follow your gut about your health. Get a second or third opinion if you need to do so. I am not encouraging being a hypochondriac, but if you are sure what you are feeling about your body is not what the doctor is telling you, get a second opinion.

Live well and happy friends!

Fibro Sunday

One of the things that I think is a challenge for those of us that deal with fibro pain, is trying to figure out when that pain is from the fibro, or something a little more serious.

For a year I complained to my Rheumatologist about my right shoulder pain. She kept blowing it off as fibro, even though over the months it was increasingly getting much worse. It took almost a year before she actually believed me and then in a matter of months I had rotator cuff surgery.

Another concern I have had is that I continue to get arthritis in many more places on my body, so I questioned something more severe, perhaps rheumatoid arthritis. And she shrugs it off.

So, sometimes we have to take matters into our own hands because we do know our bodies better than anybody. Rheumatologists are a rarity around my area so I will be driving to a nearby town. He may tell me the same things too but I feel that I need a second opinion.

I strongly encouraged anyone with a health concern that is not completely confident in your current doctor to seek out a second opinion, and a third if need be.

Another thing that makes me seek out a second opinion is that everytime I read an article about a theory on fibro, she “pooh-pooh’s” it, tells me the theory is old or that there is no truth to it.

I have read several articles over the last 6 months about a possible link to a virus. I would love to talk with her about it, but I already know what she will say.

I hope you are all well and enjoying the spring!

Live well!

Fibro Sunday

Yesterday I spent part of the day with one of my dearest and most cherished friends. She is recovering from knee surgery, so we had a lot in common sharing our stories of pain medication, therapy, and overall physical pain.

And it made me realize that to those that do not have daily pain, chronic pain, you cannot understand how our lives have changed because of it. Or what we have to deal with.

For example, shopping. I love shopping! Especially in the spring when I get to plan and shop for my flowers, planters and garden. But it’s exhausting and painful. Getting in and out of the car can be tiresome but it can also hurt. All the walking hurts me, but I push on as much as I can. I usually have to ask for help with large bags of potting soil, fertilizer, etc. There have been days where I had to break the shopping up in two parts, coming home for a break and going back either later in the day or the next day.  Don’t even get me started on shopping for clothes, OMG!  What female doesn’t like shopping for clothes but I tell ya, getting undressed and dressed again can be a little hurtful.

Cleaning can be a challenge as well. When I hear someone say that they can get their house cleaned in a short amount of time, I kinda want to smack them! But I am also envious. I do a little cleaning and then have to sit for a short period of time. Possibly use the heating pad. But I can tell you this, having a spotless house isn’t as important as it used to be!!

Yard work, I always loved being in my yard and gardens but I have to pace myself and be careful how I move and how much work I allow myself to do at one time.  Pain meds are always involved.

Waking to an alarm and going to work, I know we all struggle with that! But seriously, when you hurt as bad as we do, getting up and moving first thing in the morning is not that easy. I have to work to support myself, so I do my best to work through the pain, or the stiffness, or the exhaustion as best I can just so I am out the door in time. And when I sit in my chair at my desk… WOW the pain sets in my back or hips like crazy. And I have to wonder, is it really worth it?

Taking a shower. Yes you read that correctly. Sometimes the water hitting our skin hurts. It can also be exhausting trying to get a shower done in a reasonable amount of time, all that moving. There have been times where I am using a back brush, it is like rubbing nails across my skin. There have been times when just shampooing my hair not only hurt but used all my energy. Most of the time the water cascading over me is very refreshing and comforting but there are times when it is not.

Weather. I know there are a lot of folks that can feel the weather changes coming with their arthritis pain. This is a little bit more! In fact, I can tell you that some days, I have sat at my desk with my head in my hands crying from the pain, willing it away, waiting for the pain med to kick in and just trying to breathe and not stress too much but the crying is a dead giveaway that I AM stressing!! I sometimes calm myself with a cup of chai while the med does its job. 🙂

Exercise. I once went to the gym, and often; at least 3-5 times a week. I am lucky if I can get myself to our fitness center and swim just once a week, I do try, and I do feel good while in the water. But trying to convince myself while I am IN pain, that I should be in the pool, well lets just say the conversation in my head is not pretty!! I try to walk too, but the pain in my feet is terrible, I have orthotics which does help but if you have never had pain in your feet you cannot understand walking like that! I am lucky to get a 30 minute casual walk in, my good walks of doing a hearty fast paced sweaty walk is over! I feel like I am giving myself heart disease by not moving, which is what both my parents passed from. I feel doomed.

Our weight, ugh. Because of everything I just told you, we then put on weight because we can’t move much and it is very depressing. And just makes us feel even more horrible about ourselves.

So when someone says they are hurting but they look fine, believe me, we do hurt and the struggle is real for us. Don’t judge us, just try to understand.

The sun is shining and it is just a tad warmer today so I am going for a walk. Then I need to run an errand and head for food for the week. You all have a great day!