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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Brain Cells A-Poppin'

I seriously think my mind has been on vacation for the last few weeks.  It didn't inform me of this, just left and has come back with photos and a hangover.  

Finally, Finally! The bronchitis from hell seems to be leaving.  Uggh.  This is why I get sick only once every 2-3 years.  When I do, it takes the stuffing out of me. But--it has left me with a lingering problem, one that I finally figured out last night--lack of bacteria in the old gut.  Yep.  Those antibiotics did a number on the middle section of my body, and every time I eat or drink pretty much anything lately, I've had major issues.  After a lovely dinner with Bud last night, he dropped me off at home.  Thank God!  I just made it.  Blech.  Mind racing, I kept trying to figure out what the heck was wrong.  Am I suddenly lactose intolerant?  Is God trying to get me to lose weight?  What the heck?  

Duh.  Quick input into Google, and there's my answer.  And stupid me, this same thing happened last year when I took antibiotics.  But last year, someone ( I can't remember who) told me to eat lots of yogurt when I was taking those meds.  Somehow I've completely killed that brain cell with the vital info, cause I didn't remember that.  Now I have to get to the grocery store and grab some probiotics and not eat a damn thing before I do.  Quite frankly, I'm afraid to eat.  This fear has not kept my stomach from wanting every damn thing on the planet.  Oh no, bring on the cheese, mochas, and pasta.

So besides that exciting breakthrough from my atrophied brain, things are getting back to normal.  I can finally talk for awhile without coughing, so I can do another Bookalicious Babe podcast very soon!  And I'm getting a lot accomplished at work.  My book reading has slowed down, since I am not lounging around on the couch for days on end.  But I am still reading and have 3 books in the mix right now.  Dare I hope to get to the gym this next week?  Heck yes.  Gotta get a sweat moving through this body.  

Bud and I will be celebrating our 10th anniversary this Thursday.  We cannot believe it has been 10 years of togetherness.  I can only say the time has flown because I'm with such a wonderful man who makes my life shine and keeps me balanced.  Our only plan for Thursday is to have dinner somewhere "nice", per my request.  So what do you get your man for such an occasion? I have no clue.  I will use my newly minted brain to come up with something by Thursday.  Perhaps it will be me making an effort and looking spiffy for dinner out.  What the heck!  I have no clue.  But whatever I do, it will never adequately let him know just how much he means to me and that I can't wait to spend another 10 years with him.  

Have a great week everyone!  

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Getting Back to a Normal--Err--Semi-Normal Life

What the hell, January.  Thanks for starting 2012 off with a load of crap.  The only thing that has saved this tiny little brain is sitting in a corner and reading books, blogs, and twitter.  

I think Bud and I have spent a total of 5 evenings together.  He's sick, I'm sick, I work at night, he's got tons o' work to do at his business.  This equals "Maybe we'll see each other next week."  I miss my sweetie.  Reading Ree Drummond's The Pioneer Woman  didn't help this situation, either.  Geez, that woman has some sparks going on with her man!  The only bonus to this is that it makes me realize I do still love, want, and need my man around.  All the time.  Sparks are still there.  

I am not one to get sick.  When I do, I am not a happy person.  Getting bronchitis came out of nowhere.  No symptom except an annoying little tickle at the bottom of my throat.  Bud telling me to "go to the doctor NOW" had me trotting off, sure I was wasting my money.  Nope.  Surprise!  Didn't feel really all that bad.  But that changed rapidly. A rapid descent into feeling like absolute garbage.  Shocked my body had let me down so quickly and without putting up a good fight.   And then there are the medications I was prescribed.  

I don't take kindly to medication.  Only medicinal stuff I like is a good drink.

My body does not like steroids.  In fact, it has rebelled in awful ways.  Sleep?  What?  Nope.  Tummy probs?  Yep.  Bloating?  Yep.  Tastebuds out of whack?  Hell yes.  I can't even drink coffee, and this is pretty much my morning comfort.  I love hot tea, too. I'd rather be drinking it sitting in the Orangery at Kensington Palace with my pal C-Joy.   But I love coffee more.  I've taken to drinking a lot of tea, looking forlornly at my coffee and wiping a tear from my eye.  Sniff sniff.  

So I've been operating on pretty much very little sleep.  And I am somehow so wide awake, that I am constantly muttering to myself "I can't believe how awake I am!  This is what it's like!"  I don't like this.  I'm used to operating on little sleep and feeling fuzzy around the edges all the time.  

And then there's the cough.  I get it every year; it's annoying.  I can't help it.  But usually it goes away as it gets warmer outside.  But not this time.  Called the doctor to get a cough syrup to help keep me from spontaneously coughing all the time.  Can I just say this cough syrup has warnings on it?  "ONLY TAKE THE RECOMMENDED DOSE"  "MAY CAUSE DROWSINESS"  "SUE, DO NOT DRINK ANY BOOZE WITH THIS, STUPID GIRL"  So I was a good girl, took the prescribed dose, and drank a bunch of water.  Within 30 minutes I felt loopy and had a slight buzz. I actually had to lay down on the couch and close my eyes.  Yep, closed my eyes!!

So between the steroids (which thankfully are all done now) and the cough syrup, my body just does not know what to do.  If I had the energy, I could probably have re-roofed my house, painted all the walls, and organized every cupboard in the place.  I certainly have had enough awake time for all of that.  

Instead, I've read an obscene amount of books, tried not to talk for any length of time, and been told by Bud I need to get rid of my 4 pack a day voice.  He doesn't find it attractive.  Neither do I.  I am impressed at the depth of my voice.  

So today I am prying my ass off the couch and taking some time to "fling" junk out of my house.  Cleaning out the drawers of all the junk I've accumulated here, there, and everywhere.  I did it in my kitchen a few weeks ago, and every time I open those drawers, I am a happy chick.  I am going to get rid of all those old phone books--duh, I didn't realize I could put them in the recycle bin!  And yes, I am venturing into the basement to poke around at boxes, sigh, then come back upstairs.  

And this Pinterest thing.  I am trying to get it, I really am.  I am confused.  It's just gonna make me want stuff that right at this moment I am unaware I will need desperately after looking at it on Pinterest.  Thanks.  

I'm not gonna whine anymore.  Well.  Maybe about the coffee thing.  Just a little. And eat some yogurt.  Jamie Leigh Curtis, I'm listening to you!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

How Reading A Book Inspired This Batch of Goodies

I've had the weekend off, which is great, cause of this stinkin' bronchitis.  Two days of pretty much not doing anything--and feeling guilty about it.  But feeling under the weather, having lousy weather, and hacking up a lung whenever I go outside has kept me on my couch or at the computer.  And reading.  Lots of reading.  Lack of good TV and no boyfriend to watch movies with me (Bud has been a busy man all weekend, and staying away from his sickie girlfriend)  has kept my nose in books.  A good thing, cause I finally finished a wonderful book about the amazing contributions to American cooking by immigrants.  The book is called 97 Orchard:  An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement, by Jane Ziegelman. 

 A book I've had on my bookcase for about a year.  Finally dove in and after a few stops and starts, finished it today.  I have a whole new appreciation for home cooks, and I will never walk through the grocery store again without gazing at all the wonderful foods we have simply because immigrants came to this country with not much but their gifts of food, and a determination to remain true to their homeland traditions through cooking.  

Did you know that at one time, concerned New Yorkers felt that pickles (wildly popular with Jewish immigrants and sold everywhere) were considered addictive to children, much like adults drinking whiskey?  Yep.  People were concerned that the food Jews preferred--highly spiced, garlicky, vinegary goodness was bad for you--instead milk, some simple veggies, and oatmeal were the way to go to keep you healthy.  

How could I live without some fantastic, rustic, earthy bread today?  Well Germans loved it, but "native" Americans had too delicate digestive systems, and preferred what we know as Wonderbread.  The Germans got it right--their bread was hardy, filling, and could stand up to all the great foods they piled on them for open faced sandwiches.  

And who knew Italian food was frowned upon for years and years?  It was seen as peasant food, and not very nutritious.  The Italian immigrants faced the worst of the name calling and descriptions of laziness, often working the worst jobs with not much pay.  What they did eat was low in meat and high in macaroni.  

All this reading made me A) Want to try Matzo balls  B)Eat a corned beef sandwich, and C) Make something in my own kitchen from what I had on hand.  

What was calling to me was something sweet.  With my taste buds on the fritz (how frustrating to just kinda "taste" something!!) I am fruitlessly searching my house for something, anything, that I can wrap my taste buds around and actually taste.  I wanted oatmeal bars.  Not cookies, but bars with fruit in them.  I mentally tallied up some leftover stuff I had in my kitchen:  frozen cranberries, oatmeal, sugar, butter.  I found some chopped pecans in the freezer, and a little bit of blueberries leftover in the fridge.  An orange for zest.  Now to find a recipe. I found this one  on  Simple enough.  Reading through the comments had me messing with the recipe.  I added more cranberries, more sugar, and tossed in my blueberries to make my cranberry filling.  I added more butter to the crust, and tossed in those chopped pecans:

Can I just say the finished product weighed about 5 pounds?  That's 5 pounds of warm, ooey, gooey, tart-yet-sweet-with-a-hint-of-blueberry goodness on a plate? Holy crap!  What I could taste was awesome, and those darn pecans reminded me once again of how much I love nuts, and really should use them more often in my dishes.  I ate this while it was still a little warm, but let me tell you--this would be awesome with a side of vanilla ice cream after about a 10 minute cool down.  

So thank you, immigrants from around the world.  You got this gal to forage in her kitchen, mess with a recipe, and make it my own.  You reminded me to appreciate the bounty we have in this country, and that sometimes making do with bits and pieces we have in our kitchen can turn out wonderful dishes.  I only wish Bud was here to try them!  I fear unless I freeze some bars, there won't be any left.  I will definitely be making these again, with my modifications.  

And if you have the time, and love to read books on food like I do, read this book.  It is just simply fascinating and full of wondrous things :)  I will say, I don't like pickles, but I sure do like whiskey.  

Friday, January 20, 2012

More Snow on the Way and a Being Crabby: Part Deux

Wow!  More snow coming--I've checked the radar, and it's making it's way across Nebraska and into Iowa as I type.  I understand Washington State got hammered and on top of snow got ice, which pretty much shut the whole state down.  That's what I'd like to happen here, but it won't happen unless we get at least a foot and it blows like hell. 

Dang it, the Midwest is prepared for snow.  A gazillion snow plows (although never enough to get the side streets plowed in a reasonable amount of time), brine for the streets, piles of sand, countless lawn care businesses who stay operating this season making money by plowing out businesses and clearing off sidewalks.  

We simply have no excuse to not drive around in this crap!  Which makes it stressful when you must go to work because other people will feel like they must run errands  in the middle of a snow storm.  Let's just all agree when it snows more than 2 inches, we shut down the city, everyone stays home, and we all drink hot chocolate with marshmallows.  Our stress levels would be gone, we'd have family time--or lovely time to ourselves--to nap, watch movies, make a pot of chili, or read a book.   

Yes, I am a touch crabby.  An unexpected bout of bronchitis and the accompanying feeling icky/taking a course of antibiotics and steroids have kept me up for--now counting--2 nights.  I simply cannot sleep, and I want to!  Then trek to work, where I continue to feel crabby since I am tired, coughing, and now sneezing every 20 seconds.  If only I felt better, I could get a lot done instead of lying in bed tossing around my pillows every five minutes.  I'm actually hot, and it's below zero outside!  How is this possible?  And dang it, I'm hungry-but not; can't taste anything, but kinda can around the edges.  Enough to keep me eating but not enjoying a dang thing.  

So I have Friday to get though.  A day at work, where it will probably be busy for awhile, then as the snow increases, trickle down to not much. I'd love to call in sick (which I never do), but circumstances won't let me have this luxury.   I do have the weekend off, and plan on doing nothing.  I am forcing myself to stay home and stay in my owl pajamas most of Saturday, at least.  The kitchen is stockpiled with eggs, milk, coffee, tea, and bread.  A few meals planned for the weekend in case Bud comes over to see his sickie.  Two movies from Netflix coming in the mail, and of course 3-4 books to finish.  If I can concentrate long enough.  I may end up lying on the couch nursing a cup of tea and eating a bag of lozenges.  And applying lotion to my nose.  A podcast to conduct, although I may have to wait until I can talk without the barking seal making an appearance.  

Oh yes--and snow to shovel!  Whoo-hoo!!!  How is your winter coming along?  Are you exercising, waking with a smile on your face, and glowing with good health?  I think that will have to wait for me til March.  

Friday, January 13, 2012

Snow! Finally, Dammit--And Now I'm Done

In all of my 45 years on this planet, it has always snowed at least once during the winter months where I live.  Sometimes we've been blessed (only thinking in terms of being a kid) with blizzards every two weeks or so.  While the very mild temps have made my heating bill smaller, and the ability to drive around very easy--well, no snow was making us all scratch our heads in puzzlement.

How can we be tough people with no snow to crab about?  No snow blowers primed and ready to go?  No cancellations and early outs for the school kiddies? 

Well, we finally got snow.  A mere 8 hours or so after breaking a record for 49 degrees on a January day.  One day after I ran around the park with a short-sleeved running shirt on, actually sweating in the 50+ degree weather.  After discovering I still have a pot of rosemary green and growing on my back patio.

I think the rosemary is dead now, since it's covered in snow and the temps plunged about 25 degrees.  I shoveled yesterday when I got home from work, and it only took about 30 seconds before I started my internal bitch fest.  Remembering that I have not one, but two sidewalks to shovel really set me off on a mental rant.  I remembered that I hated shoveling snow.  Bud always comes over and plows my driveway (and my nosy neighbor watches his every move) which I appreciate to no end.  I am a shovel once kinda gal.  I refuse to spend time on making my driveway, porch, and sidewalks pristine and snow free.  That's called Summer.  I clear them off enough that I don't get in trouble with the city, the mail carrier can get around, and I can get my truck in and out of the driveway.  

So I'm done with the snow.  Once was enough for me.  I'm happy to see the white, but no more, thank you.  We are all cheered at the thought that it's the middle of January, and we only have about two more months of potential winter weather.  Fine with me!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Now I Think The New Year Can Begin-Maybe

I always feel like my new year beings mid-January.  Retail chaos continues until then, so there really is no break.  By now I'm burned out, crabby, and just want to take a few days off, but can't cause there's so much clean up still to do at work!

Cleaning up the store and reading Diane's blog has got that niggling bug started.  I must get rid of the junk in my house.  Feeling cozy and comfy during cold winter nights (although hardly winter here--tomorrow it's going to be in the 50's) means I cannot have a house that looks like Hoarders.  It may not be that bad, but it feels like I have to sleep on a recliner surrounded by old food and dead animals crushed under the weight of newspaper stacks.  

Yes, my imagination is that vivid.  And I don't have a recliner.  

Anywhoo...I do feel like a hoarder in that I do not want to talk, see, or entertain anyone.  I don't want to go anywhere or do anything but stick my nose in a book. This is really not a good attitude to have, so I think tossing stuff into trash bags may be the answer.  Ruthlessly getting rid of junk.  Putting gobs of books on to sell; cleaning out cupboards and organizing my foodstuffs so I know what the heck Bud and I need to eat for the next few months--there is a turkey in the deep freeze that must be eaten sometime...and plastic containers full of green chile sauce and random things.  Probably stuff from two years ago that just needs to go.

So I am aware everyone else started their year on January 1st--working out, cleaning up, eating right.  Yeah.  Good for you.  I didn't.  I'll be kicking my ass into gear sometime soon.  Don't know when.  But sometime.  Really.  

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Cooking Healthy When All You Want Is Bready Stuff!

I think it's in my genetic structure to want to eat anything doughy.  I'm Irish and German, so I think that means I am required to eat some kind of dumpling/potato/bread at least once a day.  They say " (wo)man cannot live on bread alone", but I sure have tried!  And don't even ask about beer.

Bud is always telling me we have to eat less, and eat healthier.  I agree wholeheartedly with this, but we all know getting started and keeping the engine moving along is tough.  Especially living in a place where fresh veggies and  fruit is thin on the ground and expensive during the winter months.  Bud would go out and grill, but I feel mean sending him out on the patio in freezing temps just to grill some chicken.  It feels wrong to spend the day thawing out chicken, just to have my boyfriend turn into a popsicle grilling it.  

In hoping for inspiration, I grabbed a few cooking magazines to look at over supper last night at work.  Big mistake.  I was inspired, heck yes.  Inspired to want to buy many many magazines and then not cook any of the recipes.  I know myself--and I can see all the magazines I've bought before stuffed in my cooking bookcase.  But I did cave and buy the Everyday Food edition for January/February.  It was the avocado section that did it.  I am delirious in my love of avocados, but all last year they were so expensive I had to do without.  Now--hold the phone--they were 8 for $10 at my local grocery store.  They haven't been that cheap for over a year.  They aren't ripe yet, so I can let them sit on the counter and plan how I'm going to use them.  Everyday Food has a recipe for avocado and white bean dip that has my name on it.  Yep.  I can predict I will eat it all in one day.  I'll try not to use bread as a dipping paddle.

But I did find a shrimp recipe that is pretty simple, so that's what Bud and I will have tonight:  shrimp with snow peas and brown rice. No potato around!  And I think that I may have to buy a new crock pot.  The one I have I bought at the age of 18, getting ready for moving into my own apartment.  It is older than many of my nieces and nephews, and only has "low" or "high" controls.  I need one that I can set to turn on at a given time.  Bud will be happy my meat concoctions haven't been cooking for hours and hours, and I will feel like a new woman with a crockpot for the 21st century.

How are you eating healthy?  This questions comes from the woman who just ate three slices of cranberry bread for breakfast.  See, I told you bread is never far away...