Happy Thanksgiving 2017!

I am not quite sure how it became Thanksgiving week, 2017. It feels as though I just planted all of my spring flowers. But now they are gone and I have pumpkins on my front porch.

By now I am usually swimming in Thanksgiving meal preparations and ideas, but my son and his family bought their first house and they want to have the dinner.

But part of me is still thinking of everything that I usually do this time of the year. I guess old habits do really die hard!  I will miss getting up early on Thanksgiving morning to get my turkey in the oven, going back to bed and then waking up to the house smelling amazing!

I always had the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade on while I cook.  And the kids in me still enjoys Santa at the end!

I am a little late in sharing this but if you are looking for a meal planner, I have a link to my blog post that will definitely help, the link is here Holiday Meal Planner

There are also links to some of my recipes for the holidays in that blog.

If you need a little encouragement on how to survive all the expectations of the upcoming holidays, I have a link to my blog post here Less Stress for the Holiday Season

Hopefully some of my suggestions are helpful.

I have to admit, Thanksgiving is my most favorite holiday.  The only expectation is the fellowship and meal with family and friends.  But for me it is also the kick off to the Christmas holiday.

Remember to enjoy the holidays and your family and friends.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Advertisements

Sausage, Corn and Potato Chowder

I love hot and hearty soup on a chilly day. It hasn’t been too chilly yet but the soup is still a wonderful meal.

This soup is easy to put together, and can be on the table and in your tummy in no time!

I started with a pound of loose sausage, I usually like using a spicy Italian sausage, which would be great for this soup but this time I opted for just a plain sausage. I wanted to use my own spices this time around.

Brown your sausage and a chopped onion, salt and pepper. As it was browning I added paprika and a few dashes of cayenne pepper.

As soon as the sausage is cooked I added 4-5 cups of chicken stock and 2 cups of cooked, diced potatoes, 1-1/2 cups of corn. And I tossed in a rather large sprig of fresh thyme from my garden.

I love using thyme in just about everything. Last year I was lucky, our winter wasn’t too terribly cold and my thyme lasted all winter. I have it in a large pot by my back door. My rosemary survived as well.

Bring the soup to a light simmer, adjust the spices to your preference. After about 15-20 minutes, remove the sprig of thyme, and serve.

Sausage, Corn and Potato Sausage

Serves 4

1 pound loose, ground sausage

1 small onion, chopped and diced

4-5 cups chicken broth or stock

2 cups cubed cooked potatoes

1-1/2 cups corn

1 tsp paprika

few dashes of cayenne pepper

salt and pepper to taste

1 sprig of thyme

Brown sausage and onion in olive oil in a soup stock pot, salt and pepper to taste.  Add the cayenne pepper and paprika.

When the sausage is cooked, add your broth, about 4 cups to start.  Adding more if you prefer.

Add in the corn, and potatoes and bring to a light simmer, add sprig of thyme. Simmer for about 15-20 minutes. Taste and adjust your spices. Remove sprig of thyme before serving.

Enjoy!

 

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!

 

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!

Fibro Sunday

Today was absolutely gorgeous!  So hard to believe that just a little over a week ago we had snow!

But today, the temp reached 72, and I was able to get outside and plant pansies, pull weeds and sweep the walks.  And play endless ball with the pup.

Of course, yard work equals pain, even though I took several breaks.  So by late afternoon I was on the sofa trying to work my way through the pain.

I love being outside doing yard work, I just need to pace myself so that I don’t thoroughly over do it but regardless I will hurt.

I have a lot of flower beds I want to plant this spring, and typically that’s so exciting but now the back end of that excitement is knowing I will also suffer later.

Hope you all have a great weekend!  I will try to get to some new recipes soon!

Fibro Sunday

So, it’s been a rough 2 weeks for me. The weather usually has a hand in my pain so with some of the rain that was been passing through, and now the big winter storm coming our way… I’ve been hurting.

I didn’t even want to go swimming the last 2 weeks! And being in the warm water pool always makes me feel better….

I cannot do anything to change the weather but I can do my best to not let the pain win! I have shed a few tears too.

The struggle is real!

Anyway, my Christmas Cactus is blooming!!! Go figure! It’s gorgeous!!