Thursday, May 28, 2015

Frick and Frack

As my mom  used to say.

It's what she called my brother and me when we used to get into mischief.

Well. . . y'all know me. I am a big dog kind of girl.  Dachshunds are the exception, hence Spot the Dot, but my preference is to have big dogs. My favorite breed is the Chesapeake Bay Retriever. And that explains my little pony, Scoobers and his predecessor, my beloved Rudy.

But now? Even Spottie is too much for me.  She weighs about 22 lbs, which is a fine weight for her breed of standard size, but heaven forbid she try to sit in my lap or jump up on my legs for a treat. She has never been a jumper except with me and now I can't change that behavior. She is 11 years old and really it's not a problem, but the constant pain doesn't allow me to enjoy her like I wish.

Don't get me wrong. Spot is my savior on all days and I would NEVER give her up. And if our history of having dachshunds is any indication she will live 5 or 6 more years. Steven is convinced the girl is going to break the record for longest lived Dachshund at 22 years 5 months just to spite him.


But yesterday we were gifted with a new family member.  And to tell you the truth Tadpoles I never thought I would see the day I had a dog smaller than Spottie.  Or that I would agree to rescue yet another animal and in this case, a breed of dog I am not particularly fond of.

Yes gang...our newest family member is a Chihuahua named Bentley.
And he is a kick!  He is one year old and came from a friend of ours whose Grandmother raised him from a puppy.  She recently had a stroke and was moved into different living arrangements where taking care of Bentley would be impossible.

So....being home all day the grandkids decided our family [me!] was a good fit.  They gave us Bentley, his cage, his dishes...basically everything, for free, knowing we would give him a loving home.

He fits in perfectly [well....don't ask the cat] but Spot loves him, as he loves her. He is caged trained and knows his commands. I am truly impressed at how well he is doing after one day, and being only one year old.  So a big bravo to Grandma.

Please understand that no pup or kitty could replace my Spotters in my heart. She comes first above all our pets, but I think she's kind of happy to have a new partner in crime  I hope so at least.

And now? I have a new lap doggie who doesn't weigh too much. Yippy Skippy.

And that is what's happening in the pond Tadpoles. Hope y'all are safe and dry. The weather sure is being it's wicked self this week, isn't it?

Take care and we'll talk soon.  I'm off to find the Snickers, our cat and try and console her. :D

Smile loudly. Life is such a gift.

Oh - and the "Frick and Frack" title? Yeah, that is what I call the two dogs. giggle

Sunday, May 24, 2015

There is Happy in this Post

I should be asleep and drooling in my chair. heehee - But I promise this is all good. Especially the middle few paragraphs.

So that was some mental pic', eh? Sorry about that - it's just that my new meds [again!surprise!] have given me the unavoidable side effect of falling asleep mid sentence, no matter where I am, regardless of who is around or what I am doing.

Yeah, It also means Skippy doesn't drive anymore. Which, some of you know, isn't such a bad thing because I gave Ozcarz to Wallene for her 17th birthday so I really don't have anything to drive anyway. hee.

It's a good thing I suppose.  And it's the Lyrica that is doing it.  You know that nightmare inducing drug?  Well. . .I figured out what the problem was with it and why it was giving me such awful nightmares.  The doctors had prescribed Dilaudid with it. It's a narcotic that I seem to be highly allergic to, in that - I do really strange things when I take it.  One time they mixed it with sleeping pills while I was in the hospital and [my hand to God] I removed my IV and tried to escape from the hospital. I just thought I could go home. I was pretty desperate to get home [you all know how much I hate hospitals]. That is until the big burly security guard, my husband and my two young daughters pried me off the front doors of the hospital and escorted me back to my room where I passed out. I woke up later restrained to the bed.

If nothing else I lead an interesting life. giggle

Okay, where was I? So, I figured this out. Dilaudid = bad, Lyrica on it's own or combined with morphine = good.  The morphine doesn't help with the pain so much [not like the Lyrica does] but it has the added benefit of giving me energy and keeping me awake. But? It's a narcotic and plbhhhht on that. The Lyrica is fine, on it's own, but it's not narcotic. Yippy Skippy!

I did have a lovely talk with a very kind High School friend [Hi JPS!] and when she called one evening she told me all about her nutritionist. I have an appointment at the end of next month.  You all know I watch what I eat due to my heart - and you can learn a lot on the internet about eating and reducing symptoms of pain, swelling, flares etc - but I have so many questions as I am discovering a lot of what I thought was good for me [i.e. low in sodium and healthy for others] may be exacerbating my conditions.  As I told a fellow Tadpole, lottajoy, I would try voodoo at this point if I thought it would help.  No one should have to accept this kind of pain and live like this 24/7.  Still, I am thankful that my friend called, so thankful, because eating well makes so much sense and as much as I have tried, it will be nice to see what else I can do from someone who actually is trained to know.

But I am working it Tadpoles - and working it hard. There is so much I want to do and people I love an want to take care of, so we soldier on ::salute::

Aw hell - just know I am thankful that I am still here. I am a very blessed woman. I know that - you know that and thank you God, He knows it too. ::grin::

I do have a bunch of happy stuff to report.  As I have said before all of this stuff is on Facebook, so it will be repeats for some of you - but it IS too much fun not to repeat twice. ::wink::

  • At the top of the list, bestest thing ever, our Squirrel graduated from James Madison University on May 9th of this year. We were busting with happiness [and pride] for her - and had a nice lunch before her and Wallene left on a trip to a local amusement park to celebrate with friends.  She is packing up her apartment and will be leaving for graduate school next month. Can you believe it?
    Momma [out of her wheelchair momentarily], Squirrel and Wallene
  • Now, Wallene?  She graduates High School next month and will be attending Virginia Commonwealth University's School of the Arts in the fall.  Which, again, makes us very proud, but leaves Steven and me a little sad because it is going to be so quiet around here come September.  I think I am going to end up being one needy froglet then. Anyone have a kid they would care to .....I don't know....drop off for an extended visit in the hills of Virginia? hee
    Yes, This graduates in less than 3 weeks. Where did the time go?
  • Steven and I celebrated out 20th anniversary this month.  I don't know if that makes us crazy, considering what we have been through in 20 years, or crazy in love.  But he is truly my bestest friend and I have never had someone love and care for me so much - even at my darkest.  I love you baby ::waving::  I just betcha' we make it 20 more, don't you?
    Anniversary roses in my favorite color!
Big days ahead.  We still stand to lose the house, but Steven and I are taking it one day at a time. We aren't looking forward to downsizing and all the packing it entails to move to a smaller home, but as with everything we are up against, we will do it. We always do.  We are just waiting and working on getting Wallene to the University before we have to leave this home.  It makes me a wee bit sad, because gosh knows I love this place and our neighbors - but then I say my prayers and realize a cardboard box could be home for us, as long as we are together.  I do laugh to myself when I mention the cardboard box thing because at the bleakest Steven or I will say to the other "I could live in a cardboard box with you."  It's simply a different way to say "I love you" and realize what our priorities actually are.  He has worked so hard his whole life, and has been amply rewarded for it, but being up against all of this now has depleted everything we every thought we would have at this point.  But?  All the kids are safe, healthy and hopefully very happy [they tell me they are!] and Steven and I are here, now and together. Forever.

And that my friends is reason to Skippyhappydance, even if the world is crumbling.

'Cause you know? It could be worse. I never forget that.

Smile loudly - Life is a gift. A big, fat gift with shiny paper and a red bow.  Enjoy your Sunday. I will see you on the flipside Tadpoles as I feel the drool ::giggle:: coming on...gotta' go!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

How Willing Am I?

To save my marriage and my family?

This willing.

What debilitating pain looks like. The warmth of my husband holding me helps.

I know it sounds dramatic - but that's me "Skippy the drama Queen" - tough rocks. I don't care.

I have spoken of pain before. I have talked about the debilitating effects of conditions I didn't even know I had - only to discover the stuff was real and nothing was touching it.


I have a new pain that makes RA seem like birthday cake - with sprinkles and candles, no less - but this HURTS.  It is beyond hurting. This is a slamming door to the point you separate the door frame from the wall, you cry for 20 hours a day and wake up after a four hour nap knowing you cried in your sleep because your face is still wet. The kind of pain where you scream at your husband and your daughter because they are not getting it.

They have that stupid pain scale, right? The one that comes out of the doctor's mouth as "So on a scale of one to ten, where is your pain?" and they show that inane chart with the withering smiley faces?  I have gotten to the point where I look at them and say "Where is the one with tire marks running across it's face and Xs for eyes? THAT IS MY PAIN."  [They usually step away at that point, but I promise I am saying it quietly and without my eyes rolling back in my head.] I told the doctor and my nurses one time that I considered childbirth to be a 4, at the worst - and for me, and four kids? Yep that works. They shook their heads and went to correct me.  I stopped the doctor  from telling me "Oh no, ALL childbirth is at LEAST a 6."  I wanted to scream "Who the fuck are you and when is the last time you pushed a watermelon out of your body? IT IS NOT."  Sorry - but it pisses me off to be corrected when people who don't live in MY body but are book educated try to explain PAIN to me.

YOU, doctor sir, have no idea. No one has any idea and it is simply one more area where I am completely isolated from everyone and everything.

I am fed up with being asked if I am suicidal.  I retort "Why? Why do you ask? Do I look depressed? Act depressed? You bet your fucking socks that I am as depressed as I AM - but NO I AM NOT suicidal.  Had I been I would've shot myself long ago."  Yeesh.  I don't want more meds - I want LESS - I want to know how to FIX THIS.  No human being, living creature - oh hell - nothing should live like this. [As this is a blog I feel the need to point out that I am NOT diminishing other's struggles with mental health and suicidal feelings. They are real and their worlds, and I pray that they get the help they should have been allowed a long time ago -but?  I am not chemically imbalanced.  I am worn down and desperate from fatigue, pain and isolation.]

YET? I do LIVE LIKE THIS.  And you all see me play nicely and happily in the sandbox over on Facebook - but what you don't realize when I am talking about Evie's prom dress? Or Emily's graduation? While typing that, I have tears pouring down my face.  When I speak of our 20th anniversary in less than two weeks? My heart is happy but I am contemplating whether or not I can catch the garbage truck barreling down our street to just step in front of it.  At this point I think the mail truck could do a fair job. Considering.  The weight is going south AGAIN and Steven is starting his whole "I can tell her she is pretty. . . BUT? She looks like hell" marathon.

Put your thumb and forefinger around your wrist.  Make them touch.  Okay?  You shouldn't have a gap between your fingers and your skin on your wrist, or a smallish one if you are small boned.

Me?  I can fit a fucking SNICKERS bar in the gap between my fingers and my wrist.  The only weight I have on me now is due to swelling and water retention.

Oh joy - oh thrill - let's do the happy dance.  ::and the sarcasm drips, drips....and then it pours.::

So what am I willing to do now to alleviate this pain? To get me back to being marginally me?

I am going to take Lyrica again.

Even typing those words scare the living crap out of me.  If any Tadpole remembers the last time I took that drug I had such severe nightmares that Steven had to come home from work to help me.  He could not convince me that the older kids weren't hurt or dead.  I kept dreaming that Dee, Tee, Jr. and Squirrel had been [for lack of a better word] slaughtered.  And I couldn't help them. Save them.  These nightmares left me screaming, unable to wake myself up that my 13 year old daughter had to come into my room and physically shake me as hard as she could,  hurting me, to get me out of the fugue I was experiencing.

Steven and I finally decided that it was time I picked.  Functionality or debilitating pain?  Nightmares or me?

I picked pain free with the added gift of bloody nightmares.  Wish me luck while I figure out how not to sleep until they can reduce this swelling and take the damage away.

I tried to do happy Tadpoles. You simply have no idea right now how I can't. I am so sorry.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

It's My Biannual "I'm Not Dead Yet" Post

::waving furiously::

Just being goofy!

If you are on FB or talk to me via email - most of you know I'm still alive and kicking - but not everyone does that, and I truly understand - but thought I better get something up here and let you all know I am thinking of you. 'Cause I am Tadpoles - I most certainly am.

It has been an exhausting last couple of months.  Steven is at the end of his tether with all of the woes associated with my health and the cost of it all. Meanwhile, I am plain old worn out from being sick.

I am so tired of being sick - and having it define every step I take every moment of every day. I am weary of talking about it. I am nauseous looking at our bills from it and lay awake nights knowing come March 30 our health insurance rates go up, and a new round of deductibles kicks in, so we start over again.

If it wasn't for the generosity of a very loving Tadpole, Bizzy -  we would have had no hope of a Christmas for Evelyn, nor would I have had my most valuable and expensive medication these past few months.  What is so surprising about it all is I have no idea how Bizzy knew we were in such dire straits, but these surprise packages would show up randomly in the mail [snowmen included! :) ] just when I thought all hope was lost.  She is truly an answer to all the prayers I say at night. Thank you Bizzy - I truly have no words for the extension you have given us.

Speaking of special packages in the mail. My sweetheart of a friend and Tadpole, Mare, went on vacation for 3 weeks to Key West Florida. Not only did I receive  daily updates via email of her consumption of Key Lime Pie [all time favorite] but she sent me the coolest care package from FL - including a pamphlet on manatees and a t-shirt that I had to hide from Evelyn. giggle Thank you Mare - truly brightened my dreary days.

So - comes the hard part of this post.   Steven and I have come to a very difficult decision, knowing we have to keep all the insurance we have and be able to afford my medications.

We have to move. Again.  We already left Sterling, VA two years ago because we couldn't afford the cost of living after our landlords needed their house back and we couldn't find another one in the same range.  So we moved 100 miles from Steven's work just to be able to afford a place to live, not realizing 6 months after we moved in our insurance rates would double and then our deductibles for doctors' visits, medications and hospitalizations would go beyond the stratosphere.

We can't afford both this house and my [sketch] health.  Sometimes I look at Steven and say "Sorry I didn't die already. This wouldn't be a problem and you could keep the house."  I cry as I write that because it does sound pathetic, but I understand what I am costing my family. And it crushes me, because I know, I DO KNOW, that they would rather have me here than gone. But what good is being here for them if we can't keep a roof over our heads.

We could handily afford this home when we moved in, otherwise we wouldn't have gotten it. We have 0 - yes ZERO credit card debt. We pay for our home, the utilities [electric, water, house phone and internet] one car payment [Oscar] and car insurance.  We don't go on vacations. We don't buy clothes or presents or go out to eat - ever. This is the first year since I had kids that they didn't [in this case, just Evelyn] get new school clothes for school. I just don't understand why, except that the insurance and pharmaceutical companies are greedy bastards and we are suddenly lower middle class because of it.

Please don't misunderstand - I am, I truly AM grateful for all that I have, but I don't get this. How can my husband have worked so hard for 4 decades, be 4 years from retirement and by the time we get there he won't have anything to retire on?

I have searched high and low for a place to cut our housing expense, but keep Steven close to his work. We can forget the "close to work" part of this equation. It simply can't be done. Nothing within less than a hundred mile radius is cheaper than the home we live in now.  And we have agreed with Emily graduating and Evie going off to college we we would downsize to a 2 bedroom, 1 bath if we could find something that cut our costs and we could get closer to work.

HAHAHAHAHAHA!  I have been looking for over 6 months, and the bottom line is - you are just gong to love this - the closest I can get Steven to work and cut our payments on housing down is to move him and me to Harrisonburg, VA. Why is this so funny to me? It is the town where Emily's college is located.  The town where we have been visiting her for 5 years. Nice town. BUT? We have found a few condos that would suit our needs [of size and cost] but it is 115 miles from my husband's work.

I am sure some of you are questioning why Steven doesn't simply find new employment. First, he has been in this business for almost 40 years. It is a specialized industry and to be able to afford health insurance, he needs to work where the $$ is - meaning where the pools are. There are not a whole lot of expensive, in ground pools in central Virginia.  Second, as I mentioned, he is 59 years old [in July] and in his industry he is quite well known and could find a job BUT it would be in the same geographic location of the one he has now [remember, nice expensive pools that people pay a lot of money to have others play pool cleaner].  We did talk about him branching out and trying to find a job in management in another field, since he has been in the office managing for 30 years, but no one wants to hire a 59 year old man, regardless of his experience especially if he hasn't worked in their industry.

See the problem here?  And if it sounds as though I am whining, so be it - I'm not. It's just the explanation of the reality of our life right now.

I am a fortunate woman in that I have the love and support of my Tadpoles and my family. In addition I have my faith - these things sustain me. More than anyone realizes I think, because somedays I fall asleep, despite the pain and hope that it's the last time I close my eyes.  I know what I have, I do sweet friends - but it's getting so hard to sustain it while we ponder a future we never realized we were going to have.

Thanks for listening - I have lots of new recipes and tidbits to share, but this is foremost in my mind. So this is whatcha' get. ::wink::  I am Skippy - I will always be Skippy - and the 'ol me shall return. Soon. I am sure of it.

Thank you again. We'll see ya' on the flipside froglets and don't forget to smile loudly. Life is truly a gift.

Friday, December 19, 2014

How Do I Say This

I don't blog so much, but I do read and comment on your blogs. At least I try. Mostly I stay on FB, because I find it is less taxing and easier on my hands and my brain fog.

I do keep up. With you all, even if I don't say anything in comments. Some of us have been friends for over a decade. Wow. That's a long time, isn't it?

Yet, be it a year or ten - you, my Tadpoles, are my friends. You have stayed fast and true. You have been supportive and loving, funny and sarcastic. You have made me laugh until it hurt and. . .

Your lives have brought me sadness. Not through any act of your own, or anything you can control, but because I truly love you and love your families.

I have watched your kids grow up, some even getting married, having babies. I have rejoiced in your birthdays and your anniversaries. Graduations, deployments for those in the military. . .the list is endless. But, as you have been there for me, I have done my best to be there for you too. There is nothing better than being able to cheer your happy.

But? Life. . .  and death have an awful way of sneaking up on us. Doesn't it?

My last post I wrote about being so terribly sad over a friend I knew was hurting that I disappeared into the kitchen to bake away the hurt I felt for her and her family.

You see . . .our lovely and dear friend Beth, Bizzy - from My Bizzy Kitchen - has suffered a loss that is completely unimaginable to me.  He husband, known as Tony on her blog, passed away a few short weeks ago.  Through the last weeks of his life Bizzy never faltered in her devotion to her husband [of 14 years] not only working, but travelling great distances to be with him while he was in the hospital.

Bizzy and I talked via FB/private message and email. Tony had two conditions that I also have - Congestive Heart Failure and liver failure - mine being a genetic condition, Tony's LF due to his heart.  A lot of what they were treating Tony for in Illinois, they are working on my sketchy body here in Virginia. I tried the best I could to answer Bizzy's questions, but it wasn't until recently that I realized that Tony was much more sick than I am and more than even the doctors had told her or her husband.

Sigh.  One of the things we discussed were transplants. Since I am waiting on one, Bizzy explained that Tony was waiting on [first] a liver transplant. But then the doctors said he would need a heart transplant. Ooookay. Both? Okay....well it still looked promising, but then?  His kidneys started to fail due to his heart. They mentioned that now it would be three transplants.

He was in the hospital on kidney dialysis, awaiting a transplant when the doctors told Bizzy that Tony's heart just wasn't strong enough for anything more to be done and that she should take him home, to hospice. I can't even write the words "take him home to die" because who can do that? HOW do you do that? [Ugly cry commencing now.]  I don't know that I could if it was Steven, but Bizzy is Bizzy and she's amazing.

It was a Friday when Bizzy told me they had Tony home and comfortable.  I was alone, in my house, waiting for Steven and Evie to come home. Of course I was crying. Crying for the unbearable pain I know Bizzy, Tony and the family were facing, but also because of the unfairness of it all.

Let me stop for a moment and say something. . .I am doing a sucka** job describing any of this, and for that I apologize. It's one of the reasons I didn't do this post sooner. I used to be very good at getting my thoughts down on this dang computer, but it isn't as easy as it used to be. I love Beth and Tony with all my heart and I hope I can relate this in a way that honors their love and life together and what a terribly awful thing I think this is. Perhaps others or even Bizzy sees it in another way, but I just don't know.

All you Tadpoles know I believe in God. You also know I believe in the power of prayer. Bizzy and Tony were prayed for from all corners of the world, including this little 'burg, and I can't say prayer failed, but I have to say I was truly surprised when Bizzy called me to tell me Tony was coming home.

Steven walked in from work and found me sobbing. Although he knew that Tony was doing poorly, he initially thought it was one of our kids. I don't think he wanted to hear what I said.  Nope. Evie pulled him aside and whispered in his ear what was happening and he came over to put his arm around me. And do you know what the only thing I could say, between heaving sobs and the snotfest I had going on? The only thing I could say was. . .

"It is just black words, on a white screen. They are just pictures on a page. These people aren't real."

And I kept repeating it, and do you know why?  I wanted it to be true. If just for that day. To take away all the pain and be able to pretend that the Velantis weren't real and their pain and Tony's death weren't going to happen.

Sounds awful doesn't it?  I know better - God knows I know better - but it was my last defense to take away the pain I knew my friends were feeling. I was scared for them and DAMMIT I am 1,500 miles away, so pretending they weren't real seemed to make sense to me. I felt [still feel] so powerless.

So 48 years old of me, right? I know..."Janine, grow the eff up." Steven gave me a little shake and told me what I was saying was wrong and that trying to discount the realness of Bizzy, Tony or any of you wasn't going to do anyone any good. Everytime I said it, he would respond "No, Janine. You know better."

After cleaning myself up I explained to Steven that since Tony was home, dialysis had been stopped so ....I can't even write it. Sorry. You guys know.

What I can't believe, and what I will be forever grateful for, is that Bizzy took the time to phone me the day her beloved husband died. She told me that she didn't want me to read it online. I actually couldn't believe she had the strength to think of anyone outside of her big, loving and supportive family. [Bizzy's whole family is amazeballs btw - makes sense considering how wonderful she is.] I love her for that and she taught me such a great lesson in love, compassion and friendship.

I truly wanted this post to be a tribute to the love story that is Tony and Bizzy's life together. If you want to read about and see what true love really is - and what a great friend we all have in Mrs. Velanti - you only need to go and visit her at My Bizzy Kitchen . Most of you already know Bizzy, because I honestly believe she is the best cook I have ever met. Not only that - she is one of the most generous and kind people I have ever met.

I am blessed that she shares her life and Tony's life with me and for that I will [also] always be thankful.

Do me a favor, if you have a moment - please go over and share the Tadpole love I know that you all are so beautiful for and do so well.

I'll see you on the flipside. And never forget. . .Life is a gift.
Love and hugs, Janine

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Whatcha' Gonna Do?

When I get sad. . .not depressed, mind you, just heart wrenchingly sad.  You see. . . when something happens that affects someone I love and I am powerless to do anything to help the person [by virtue of distance and health] I get sad.

And I do three things. Always.
-I ugly cry. Because my heart is breaking for a loved one and it makes my heart ache for them. And we all know what an ugly cry is.
-I pray. Recently it feels as tho' my whole days have been taken up in praying. Does it help? Me, I suppose. I have some idea of whether or not God answers my prayers, but it brings me a small amount of peace to hand over the awfulness of something that is troubling me for another.
-And I cook.

I cook a lot. It seems to be the only thing that works because I am alone all day with my thoughts and powerlessness against it all.  The cooking is always from scratch because it takes longer and occupies my hands and my eyes and my mind and no one wants Mom snarfing in dinner, right?

I know most of you know of what am speaking about - that one of our own is suffering and so far away, but it is not my story to tell on her behalf right now. Until it goes up on her blog, I respect her quietness and pray she keeps the strength that all of us have come to admire. Although it is up on Facebook, and she called me yesterday, she has many, so many, blog friends that aren't on Facebook that I don't want to run the risk of telling them anything until she does through her blog.

Make sense? I hope so. I suck at this kind of thing, especially when I am sad, but I am trying.  I just needed to come here and talk, about anything.

Steven came home last night and found me in tears but preparing dinner. At first he thought it was the pain, but then realized this was worse.  He told me to sit down, forget about dinner and we would just eat leftovers.

Nope, I had to get up and do something.  So with Evelyn's assistance in the kitchen I made up a few new recipes.  I was too exhausted to look up recipes, but having never made these dishes before I thought I would just wing it with the knowledge I have on hand. . .my sketch memory and sad skills.

I knew we had about 2.5-3 lbs of dark meat turkey leftover, turkey stock I made Sunday and a few blocks of cheddar cheese.

I don't know why but I thought turkey burgers and macaroni and cheese sounded like a meal. So I used my Ninja [mini food processor] and minced the cooked turkey, celery and onion for the burgers. I followed the same recipe I use for salmon cakes and added 2 eggs, about a cup of Italian bread crumbs and then veered off of that with 2 heaping tablespoons of turkey stock [it had congealed, so it was probably more like a half of a cup,who knows] and a heaping teaspoon of sage.  I mixed it all in my stand mixer and Evelyn made patties.

While she was making the patties I used the base of another recipe I use that is a roux to begin the macaroni and cheese.  I melted 5 tablespoons of butter in a pan, adding a teaspoon of salt and 3/4 teaspoon of pepper [more or less]. I added a heaping quarter cup of flour and mixed that until thickened. To that I poured in milk - I don't know how much, but I would guess 3 or 4 cups? I just poured until I had a nice thick sauce which I added 3/4 lb of ninja'd [I love that thing] sharp cheddar cheese and about a cup of mozzarella. I stirred until it was melted and had the sauce to mix with about 8 oz of cooked elbow macaroni.  Put that in a greased baking dish, sprinkled with paprika, covered and cooked at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. My family doens't like it overly brown, so I didn't remove the lid.

While that baked, I fried the turkey burgers in a scant amount of oil on medium heat.  When they were thoroughly browned on both sides, I drained them on paper towel and let them sit.

When the macaroni and cheese was done, I took it out to rest and popped the burgers in the oven on 250 degrees to keep warm.  The turkey was already cooked from Thanksgiving so no worries with making sure they were cooked all the way through.

I also served the last of the Cracker Barrel style green beans and ham as a side.  I made these for Thanksgiving and that is what Evelyn calls them, Cracker Barrel beans [we haven't eaten there in 5 years, so how she remembers?] To me they taste like my grandma's homemade, and again, it is another recipe I couldn't be bothered to research. I just winged it.  I snapped two lbs of green beans [took me an hour - I don't miss the days of doing bushels of these during canning season for my grandma] rinsed them and put them in the slow cooker with 2 cups of chicken broth and 6 oz of diced cured country ham/fat back/pork hocks - take your pick. I used the cured ham. Set on low and those were some of the best dang green beans I have ever had. And easy. Just cook them until soft. Steven did have to put a cup of water in at two intervals, but our slow cooker is pretty hot.

I served the turkey burgers on hamburger rolls with the sides.  Steven put cranberry sauce on his, while Evelyn ate mayonnaise on hers.  I was too tired to eat, but I would lean towards my homemade cranberry sauce because it is more tart than sweet and tastes really good with turkey.

Sorry to bore you all, but it's honestly? I just didn't know what else to do and it seemed to make sense to come here and write down recipes.

Hugs and love to all of you. I can't begin to tell you how much you mean to me, and if you knew the heartache I have for one of own I am sure you could begin to understand better.

See ya' on the flipside. Janine

Monday, November 24, 2014

Day Full O' Bargains

Something is in the air Tadpoles. I don't know what it is. . .but Sunday was epic!

Two things well known about me are that I don't like any type of shopping except the grocery kind and I LOVE a bargain.

Yesterday was so cool.

We all know Thanksgiving is Thursday. However, we won't be eating the traditional meal on Thursday because the kids can't make it home until Friday. No worries, we're going the Mimosa and Sloppy Joe route that day, while prepping everything for Friday and watching the parade. Works for me.

We did want to make sure we had everything purchase before Thursday tho' and we decided to go shopping at ALDI.  I have an unabashed love for this grocery store. There are so many reasons, but today I am going to focus on one of my favorite things about their store.

Prices. I can literally get three times the food for the same price as I could at Food Lion or heaven forbid Giant Foods.  For example - three weeks ago I went shopping with Steven and we purchased enough food for 3 weeks of breakfasts, lunches and dinners for $160. We ate chicken, pork, ground round, sausage and soups. They only thing we replenished in three weeks was bread, milk and juice.

This makes me happy. So, so happy.

Our Thanksgiving menu consists of the following [keep in mind everything is fresh and homemade. I don't buy boxed or canned goods with the exception of boxed chicken broth because I don't have any homemade made and stocked in the freezer.]

Turkey with gravy
Oyster dressing
Mashed potatoes
Sweet potato casserole
Corn Casserole
Green beans with ham
Yeast rolls
Cranberry sauce
Pumpkin Pie
Apple Pie
Caramel Cake
Crudite plate [don't ask but this is a weird tradition my mom started years ago and the kids insist we have it] It includes black olives, sweet pickles, radishes and stuffed celery [see? told you it was weird - but it works. somehow]

I didn't write that list to bore you or even make you drool - I am doing enough of that for all of us - I write it because I still can't believe how little we paid for all of the ingredients. I could feed 6-8 people with our meal and it only cost:  $48.24. That's $7.10/per person for 6. Not too shabby.

Even better?  We will have leftovers Saturday [Gravy with turkey and mixed veggies over waffles - again, don't ask. It is SO good.] Then I will boil the carcass and make turkey soup, pot pie and Thanksgiving sandwiches with the remaining turkey. So actually my food cost is much lower. YAY!

We have never, ever paid so little for Thanksgiving - and we know, as we make the same exact menu every single year.  Even when I could purchase turkeys for .39 cents a lb [25 years ago] I still spent upwards of $100 for 8.

Even better than that bargain?

Wait - let me back up a moment.  I talked about this on Facebook, but I realize not all of you are there [and if you are, why aren't we friends? :)  ]


This goofball, our very own Evie Lou [Wallene], was accepted into the National Honor Society. We could not be more proud and I have to say, with all the turmoil in her life in the past 4 years [my health, losing our home, moving in her Junior year of HS, etc] we are amazed at the hard work and perseverance she put forth to earn this honor.

Tradition in our home is if you are accepted into NHS Mom gets to pick out and will purchase you a new outfit for the induction ceremony. I know, pushy right? But you can only imagine the fights that would ensue if we let them dress in school clothes for this. It's a big deal.   I have done it before, to the liking of her siblings, but with Evie?  She was having none of it.  And really? It's our last kid and I am worn out by being sick, so I told her to go shopping by herself and Dad and I would pay for whatever she chose. She knew I had to approve, and I gave her parameters. Then I sent her out.

On the way home from the grocery store Steven received this pic' on his phone. I was shocked that she had actually listened and found something appropriate for the ceremony. Look! Her she is in the dressing room:
When I saw the pic' I said to Steven "It's perfect and looks so good on her.  But? This is going to cost us $50, isn't it?"


We arrived home and Evie was already back from Cato [the only women's clothing store in Orange, VA] and she came walking down the hall holding up a blanket. I asked her what the heck she was doing when she suddenly dropped the blanket and was wearing this dress.  I squealed because it looks even better in person [she paired it with the cutest belt] but I was confused.  We hadn't given her more than $5 [to eat lunch while she was out shopping] so I asked her how did she get the dress home. Certainly $5 wasn't going to buy a dress that nice. [Btw, for those who care - it's completely lined. It's a NICE dress.]

She showed me the tag on it.  It was, in fact, originally, $49.99. But had been marked down 3 times. To the low, low price of $4.99!!!!!  She had change in her purse so she was able to purchase it with tax.

HOW AWESOME IS THAT? ::skippyhappydance::

It's the little things Tadpoles. Simply the little things.
Okay, that's all I got for Monday. I hope everyone has a lovely holiday [if I don't make it back here] and we'll see ya' on the flipside.

Smile loudly, LIFE IS A GIFT! Love and hugs, Janine