Wednesday, November 16, 2011

First Infusion

Today marks my first Remicade infusion. When we first arrived, my blood pressure was through the roof, due to nerves. The flash drive brochure they sent in the mail to prepare me for this day was, not unlike pharmaceutical commercials, chock full of side effect warnings. Pretty scary stuff, indeed. Forewarned is forearmed I suppose. So far, so good. I have run the gamut of emotions: anxiety, depression, full out crying, and of course anger (not directed at anyone, just at the idea of me of all people having Crohn's). The nurses are nice and quite attentive. Charlie is worried. That's his job, the worrier. He is good at it, as my glass is always full and he usually can't find his. We are ever hopeful that the infusions will begin the healing necessary to halt the progression of my Crohn's disease. A day without pain would be joyful! A day without pain killers would be even better! The thing I keep in my heart and mind is that so many people have to endure so many things much worse than I. I put them in my God box.
I included a picture of myself, which I may delete later. My hair is falling out due to 4 bouts of anesthesia and steroids. Vanity will surely play it's part in the deletion. Oh and, the "round face" is a side effect of the steroids (joy)! I am not normally a vain woman, heck, many days I don't wear makeup, but I do love my hair! So, if missing my once luxurious mane is being vain, then I whole heartedly admit it! Maybe I'll cut it off. I've always loved Judy Dench's haircut!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Taco Chili

I've always been one to love a frugal recipe, but I didn't always shop that way. Needless to say, with the advent of my husband taking a substantial pay cut after his company being bought out, my being laid off, then finding a new job at less pay than before, and then falling ill, missing work, and now incurring mounting medical expenses, our finances have taken a huge hit. Now, more than ever, we need to cut our expenses wherever we can. This is one of my favorite, frugal, crock pot recipes. Currently, I am unable to afford organic ingredients, unless I can find them on sale. For this batch, I purchased all my ingredients from Aldi. The recipe serves six. The total cost was less than $5.00. Making it less than $o.84 a serving. We serve it with blue corn chips, shredded cheddar, and a dollop of greek yogurt, all of which we always have on hand, but you get the general idea of a thrifty meal.


Serves 6

1 lb ground beef
1 medium onion, diced
1 15 oz can kidney beans
1 15 oz can whole kernel corn
1 28 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 package taco seasoning

Brown ground beef with diced onion in a skillet on medium high heat. Drain fat. In a 3 1/2 to 4 quart slow cooker, combine browned ground beef and all other ingredients in crock pot. Cover and cook on low for 4 to 6 hours or high for 2 to 3 hours.

This recipe is adapted from the Better Homes and Gardens Biggest Book of Slow Cooker Recipes. I added the onion and saved money by purchasing the 28 oz can of tomatoes instead of 2 15oz cans as their recipe call for. I have used ground turkey instead of ground beef and frozen corn instead of canned. All in all, this recipe is delicious!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Free For the Taking

I enjoy looking on craigslist. Admittedly, I was a voyeur, always looking, never taking part. Sometimes dreaming of partaking, but never doing so. I'm always curious as to what people are giving away for free. Sometimes, to me, it is truly junk, other times, I am amazed at the quality. It brings to mind the old adage: "One man's trash is another man's treasure." Yesterday, I was wondering how I could factor in purchasing bales of straw to winterize the chicken coop and freshen their yard. Money has been extremely unsteady, as I was laid off June 2010, found a part time job, and then once employed full time a year later, have missed significant days from work being hospitalized twice and taking time off for extensive testing. Every penny is counted, weighed and measures, testing our skills to stretch every dollar. I decided to put straw in the for sale search of craigslist, and came up with prices cheaper than our local feed store, but with the drive to the small towns where they were listed, one would have to factor the cost of gas in the overall purchase price. I was saddened, but moved on. Once again, for fun, I decided to look at the free items. The posting at the top of the list was 5 free bales of straw! I called immediately, as the poster did not want to be emailed, and left a message. After nearly an agonizing hour, she called back and they were mine! She had used them as yard decorations for Halloween and wanted them gone. Talk about divine intervention! So, now when I view items on craigslist, I will reserve my judgement on what I think is trash, because like for me, the item maybe a treasure!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Last of The Bounty = Piccalilly!

After much deliberation, this year we planted a small garden. While the small garden was less work, it also would mean less production. Our middle son was married this summer and we held the reception in our yard. It was a beautiful family event! I fell ill shortly afterwards with two hospitalizations, so the small garden turned out to be a blessing. We had enough tomatoes to eat, share, and dehydrate. Plenty of cayenne to keep us in crushed red pepper for the winter, herbs to dry, and the hungarian hot wax yielded a couple of quart jars of hot pepper rings. Plenty to enjoy, but not too much work. Before the freeze last night, the kids picked the last of the bounty from the garden. Much to my surprise, there are enough green tomatoes to make a family favorite! Piccalilly! The perfect relish! This recipe was given to me by my mother who got it from a farmwives journal canning brochure long ago. We have altered it slightly, adding a whole cayenne pepper straight down the middle of the jar before they are sealed. The idea came from a mennonite woman we met at Carston Farm Days a few years back. It adds the perfect amount of kick! Each year, when we make this, the memories of my mother's kitchen comes flooding back with the heady scent of overnight cabbage melding with tomatoes and the wonderful aroma of vinegar and pickling spice when cooking down the next day. So, if you have green tomatoes left, here is the recipe from my family to yours. It is a recipe that was and is to be handed down for generations! Enjoy!


1 quart green tomatoes, chopped
1 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1 cup green bell pepper, chopped
1 1/2 cup onion, chopped
5 cups cabbage, chopped
1/3 cup salt
3 cups vinegar
2 cups brown sugar
2 tbls whole mixed pickling spice
Combine vegetables. Mix with salt. Let stand overnight. Next day, drain and press in colander to remove liquid.
Combine vinegar and sugar. Place spice in cloth and tie. Place in vinegar mixture. Bring to boil. Add vegetables and bring to boil. Simmer 30 minutes to reduce liquid. Remove bag. Pack in clean, hot jars. 1/2 inch to top. adjust lids, Process 5 minutes in water bath. If you want to add a little heat, place 1 cayenne pepper straight down the center of each jar before sealing.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Preserving an Icon

A couple of days ago, I was reading the Omaha World Herald and came across this letter to the editor. It moved me enough to clip it out and carry it around. I even made mention of it to the postal worker when I shipped my latest order for my re-purposed chicken tote. I can't imagine a world without mail carriers. I can't imagine a world without letters, postcards, packages. I can't imagine not viewing the stamps from my birth year at Boystown and realizing that there may not be stamps for my grandchildren's birth years. My grandmother loved to go to the mailbox each day and even though she lived a few blocks from my home, I regularly sent cards to her because it gave her joy. I too, love letters and cards! I love watching for the mailman to come up my walk, anticipating his delivery of a letter, a postcard, a magazine, and to my delight, a package! To my friends from the book industry who are currently out of work, we cannot let what happened to us happen to the postal service. So, write that friend, send that postcard, mail that card that made you laugh out loud in Hallmark. Share this with everyone you know. Save the Postal Service and while we're at it, let's make Ruth Wise's day!