Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Inspired Cooking

Sometimes I look at the food in my fridge and whine [to myself, like a 4 year old] "But I don't want to make that!"  Meaning the dish I had planned when I bought that meat, cheese or veggie.

Today's quandry?  I have a heckuva' lot of fresh veggies from my beloved FIL's garden.  And? I don't want to make that.  Whatever that may be. heehee

I have zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, snap beans, onions and garlic Very exciting, but sort of overwhelming.

I usually will take the zucchini, squash, 'maters, onions and garlic and saute them in a pan and serve them as a side for dinner.

But today? Nah. . .that isn't working for me.  Knowing how much my family loves my [completely made up recipe] spinach lasagna and yesterday being National Lasagna Day [who votes for this stuff?]  I decided to make the saute and use that in lieu of the spinach and white sauce I use in the spinach one.

In a large skillet I melted a few TB of extra virgin olive oil and 2 TB of unsalted butter.  Into that I tossed the sliced zucchini, squash, diced onion and minced garlic. [I know, I know - I should do the onion and garlic first, but I like to just let this all simmer. It keeps me from hopping up and down to check it. And I'm not just standing there watching a pot boil.]  Let that cook down until the onion is translucent and the zucchini starts to soften.  Throw in a few diced tomatoes [about two cups - no need to peel, but you can deseed if you like] and cook through.  I also used salt, pepper and dried oregano to taste.  Let simmer, covered until everything is soft and the tomatoes are cooked down.

For the lasagna I prefer the regular, cook first noodles, but you can use the no cook ones too.

I mixed about 2 cups of ricotta with one egg and more dried oregano.  I also use 2 - 3 cups shredded mozzarella.  I also prefer to shred my own in my ninja [mini food processor]. So much better than the pre shredded stuff.

In a lasagna pan [that's what I call my deep 9 x 13 inch pan] I ladled 1/2 of the veggie mix on the bottom. Then I layered the cooked noodles.  Next I covered the noodles with the ricotta mix. I am a sucker for all cheese, so I put the ricotta on thick.  I then ladled about a cup of the veggie mix followed by a few handfuls of mozzarella. Repeat until you run out of . . .something.  I usually go about 3 more go rounds. Finish with the mozzarella.  It makes A LOT of lasagna for a family of 3 [2 actually because I probably won't eat this, although I want to], but I will just cut up the leftover, freeze in single serving containers and Steven will have lunch for 5 days.  I don't know how long it will last in the freezer because everytime I make lasagna and store the leftovers they never make it to freezer burn stage because he and Evie eat it so fast.

I will bake this at 375 degrees for approximately 45 minutes covered, taking the cover off for the last few minutes of baking.

Thanks to everyone who voted for Bizzy yesterday. The voting continues for the Extended Stay America Recipe Contest - and you can vote once per day, per email address until August 22.

Happy Day All!  See ya' on the flipside.



Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Awesome Friend, Awesome Cook, Awesome Contest

Our great pal Bizzy, over at  My Bizzy Kitchen, is a finalist in the Extended Stay America Recipe Contest.

For those of you that don't know our beloved Biz, she is quite the cook. She is also a very dear, kind and loving friend who means so much to so many. I can't tell you or begin to explain the support and love she has given to not only me, but so many of the people in her life.

Her husband "Tony" is undergoing tests and treatment at the Mayo Clinic, which is hundreds of miles from their home.  While at Mayo, they are staying at Extended Stay America and Biz is working her magic in the fully stocked kitchen their hotel room/home away from home provides.

I love Biz and Tony like family and would love to see her share the goodness of her cooking with the world by helping her win this contest.  She is absolutely one of the most upbeat people I have ever met and I know it would just be a topper during an otherwise difficult time for her and her family.

So Tadpoles, if you would be so kind, do you think you could click the link and enter your email?  You can vote once a day, from each email account you have.  It is SO easy and they won't contact you with ads or spam or nuthin'.  And you get a really cool recipe out of the deal too!

Could you do this for our buddy Bizzy? Please? This link goes directly to her recipe:

Apple Honey Mustard Sauce and Rosemary New Potatoes

OMGOSH, does that not sound delicious? It's a winner for sure gang! If we all vote it'll be a landslide victory.

Thank you for all you do Tadpoles.  You know how much you all mean to me and my family.

Hugs and love, Janine



Who DOES That?

Well known to most of you is the fact that, oftentimes, I have to use a wheelchair.

Now, I don't like my wheelchair, nor my cane on better days, because . . .well. . .I just want to be me and not some "lady in a chair". I hate being stared at and I hate the pity looks. But?  I don't have to use it all the time, and for that I am very blessed and thankful.

This story involves my chair.  A few weeks ago Steven and I took the girls to Richmond, VA to see our local AAA baseball team, the "Flying Squirrels". Great name, right?  Knowing the car ride was long and there would be a lot of walking involved we took the chair.
At the game. I always "cheat" and pull my mask down a bit for pics' ::wink::

We purchased handicapped accessible seats and took the elevator.  [It was kind of a sketch elevator, I must say, but since no one plunged to their deaths - we're cool. heehee] When we arrived at our seats we discovered they weren't accessible for my chair.  Couldn't exactly figure out what the stadium considered "Handicapped Accessible" but whatev'.

Okay.  No problem.  I can walk, it's painful, but I can and I am glad I can.  So, I did.  I had to leave my wheelchair on the concourse with a promise from the usher that it would be well guarded.

As long as it wasn't stolen I thought "Okay." Said "Thanks." and we went to our seats.

Unfortunately, I no longer have the best balance and this older stadium is quite steep in the stairs and the seating.  We did make it to our seats with me holding onto Steven.  Beautiful night, wonderful view - I love me some baseball Tadpoles.  Heck, the whole family loves baseball.  We tend to get excited when rooting for our team.

Let me rephrase that. Mom tends to get excited, too excited when rooting for our team.

In the second inning I stood up to cheer [bad idea] lost my balance, due to me and the steepness of the rise, and began to take a full header into the second row.  Steven shot his arm out, across my chest and grabbed my left arm to keep me upright. It did, but I hurt myself doing it.  Not bad, but enough to warrant going to the ladies' room to check it out.

Emily agreed to go with me and helped me up the stairs and out to the concourse to find my chair.

We walked out onto the concourse and what should we find?

A man, SITTING IN MY WHEELCHAIR, eating nachos.

Who in the hell does that?

Phyllis the security lady saw me coming with Em and turned to go and bring me my chair.  Imagine her surprise when she turned around and saw him sitting in it.

When she told him to vacate it he had the nerve to ask "Why?"  Um, dude? Asshole It is MY chair and doesn't belong to you.  The security lady just said "Get out. Now."

He stood up, nary an apology upon seeing me and walked off.

Grrrrrrrr.  Are people nuts? Isn't sitting in someone else's wheelchair akin to sitting in, I don't know, their car?

I understand there isn't a lot of seating in the concession area and gee, wouldn't it be nice to enjoy stale chips with day glo cheese in the comfort of a padded seat with wheels?

But the simple fact remains, It.Does.Not.Belong.To.You.

I should've brought my cane too.  I might've been able to smack the stupid out of him.

And with that thought. . .I am off to Confession. Have a great day Tadpoles.

Life is a gift and I am so very lucky to have you guys in it!

See ya' on the flipside. Love, Janine

And Jules?  If you're counting? Yes this is the second time in as many weeks that I have wounded myself at a ballgame.  Steven has decided "No baseball FOR YOU." [me.] heehee





Friday, July 25, 2014

And the Results are IN!

Woohoo!  The judging is over for the Orange County Fair and may I just say we have one happy little girl.


This pic' was drawn with charcoal on newsprint.  It is from a pic' her friend gave her. He wanted her to draw it.  He will receive it after the fair.
This one cracked me up.  It is pastel [again on newsprint] and the photo quality is bad, but?  It is a vivid purple orchid with antlers. Don't ask.  Like I always say "It's Evie."
 My favorite.  Acrylic on canvas. The glare is from plastic sheeting they placed over it due to rain, and the gray, black and white you see on the far right is not part of it.  It is an overlap from another painting.
 Family favorite.  This was also shown in our town art gallery and the owner offered to allow Evie to sell her work there because the owner loved this one so much.  It is Evie's Grandfather's day present. He has had to wait a bit.  It is scratchboard.
 Pencil on paper.  Evie didn't expect this to place and is happy for the ribbon. She told us the 1st place was amazing.  And it was! :)
 Colored pencil on paper.  She named this "Victoria".
The pictures aren't the best - but you get the idea.  Five 1st place and one 2nd for her art.

As for her 9 pictures?  She placed in every single one - YAY! ::skippyhappydance::

First place ribbons were awarded for the following:
The fence with the blue sky [everyone seems to love that pic' :) ]
The black and white of the boy with bowtie and his girl friend
Sun over the lake
The pond in the field
And Momma's favorite - the Ferris wheel

Second place ribbons were awarded for the pics:
Roller Coaster in sunset
And the self portrait of the butterfly and converse

Third place went to:
The two friends on the dock
And surprisingly?  The steps with the flowers.  She very happy with a third, but that is the second pic' everyone seems to love so much. :)

All totalled?  She entered 15 pieces and won 10 1st place, 3 2nd place and 2 3rd place.

I have never heard her happier.  And that? Makes me the happiest Momma in the world.

Thank you SO very much for your support here and on FB. Tadpoles she shower her with so much love and confidence boosting I can't imagine that she wouldn't have grown in her skill and passion without you.

Steven and I thank you.
[Evie too! Big goof smiles so big whenever she reads my pages and your comments. heehe]

Hugs and love, Janine

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Happier Stuffz

It's that time of year Tadpoles.
It's time for the Orange County, VA Fair!

What's great is we finally live in the county. Hee - and since they moved the fairgrounds we are now only 5 minutes away! WOOHOO.

And you know what the fair means, right?  Evelyn is entering her pictures and art again. :)

Thought I would give you a sneak peak of her pictures. She is only entering 9 this year and 5 pieces of art. If they had more categories she could certainly enter more. I swear that's what the child does morning, noon and night - art.

It's a good thing.

Here are the entries for pics - we'll keep the art for later.









I did post these on FB too, so sorry if this seems to be a repeat. :)

Tadpoles you have always been so very supportive of Evie [Wallene] and I truly think that your kudos and love have gone a long way in her following her passion for something that she loves so much, but questioned her talent.

I thank you all, again.

Hugs and love, Skippy

Monday, July 21, 2014

You Want the Truth?

I am going to lose readers over this post. What I am about to write.  I don't really believe any Tadpole is going anywhere, but if you wish, then I will understand.  No harm, no foul and no hard feelings.  I deserve whatever comes from posting this.

I also know I am going to receive some random emails and comments from people that read me often but don't comment [but love to email me, what is up with that? I don't mind, really, but...um, weird?] - this post is going to pull them out the woodwork and I am ready for the attack.

After this week?  I am pretty sure anything y'all sling at me is going to be cupcakes With pretty icing and sprinkles

Have at it.

So?  Here we go.

I won't time line this because that is boring as sh*t - but to do this in a one-two-three [and four! yes there is a four]  fashion...here is what is going on, in succinct fashion.

Well, succinct for me. Get snacks.

Initially we were told I had Lupus, which it turns out I don't have [they THINK]...but I do have a sucky ticker.  Meaning? I was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure. We'll get back to the Lupus misdiagnosis in a few, but bear with me because the CHF happened first.

Let's visit how fun that was/is/always will be, shall we?  It means my heart does not pump to the capacity yours [you healthy bitches you] does - and works extra hard anytime I do ANYTHING.  Stairs, bend over to get a pan out of the cabinet, raise my arms to take a shower, drive my beloved Ozcarz.  Oh hell, I am pretty sure picking flowers would congest my heart at this point. I spend more time spitting ....well never mind that.

They told me 4 years ago that a heart transplant would be a good option because I am so young and the damage had been done to my heart was enough to warrant a transplant.

Anyone want to ask why the damage had been done? No?  That's Okay....let me tell you....

I have had anemia my whole life. And not the run of the mill "Oh I am having my cycle and I have lost that blood"  This is severe anemia - to the point I have had several blood transfusions, including one to save Evie's life while I was a week from giving birth to her [my life too, but let's focus Janine, shall we?]

I was told time, after time and time and again "We simply don't know why you suffer from this and we can't fix it."  Meanwhile...my heart was working overtime to make up for the lack of iron in my blood and dingdingding - BAM - my heart failed.  We just didn't know it. For years.  And you know what? Don't argue with me. . .this is what happened.

Okay, moving on.....two years after THAT skippy little diagnosis, I was told my liver was shutting down. I was hospitalized for 7 days for that fun rodeo while they tried to figure out what the hell happened. Considering I don't have hepatitis, don't abuse drugs or alcohol and gee.....those blood transfusions couldn't be corrupt, COULD THEY?

Nah - turns out it's a whole other thing - but the transplant I am actually waiting on, IS my liver.   Which can be done by live donor.  Which means anyone who has my blood type and wants to go through the pain and bad hospital food can donate to me.

HOWEVER.  And y'all had best listen to me - I never told this story before because I know you Tadpoles. I would have [partial] livers lined up on my doorstep, because you are that way. Heck. I am that way...except I don't think anyone really wants "Larry" [yes, I named my liver. I figure he is giving me such sh*t he deserves a name.  And "Larry the Liver" has such a ring dontcha' think?]

I love you all so much for all that you give me and offer, but this?  Let's just pretend it doesn't exist, okay?

Oh, wait...it gets better [laughing here!] no I don't have Lupus [they think] but all of my tests [blood and x ray] explain the pain I fight everyday as advanced rheumatoid arthritis. Which is JUST the most SPECTACULAR, TICKLEY DISEASE EVER!!!!, I will have you know.

And the sarcasm drips down the screen.

Holy hell.  THIS? On top of the fatigue and the breathing and the whole "Great car Skip but you are too busy barfing into the sink to drive, how's this working out" thing....

RA SUCKS.

I can't even begin to explain how bad this hurts. I read back through this blog and realize how many years things were so bad and I was never diagnosed.

I have been in pain for years.  I am not going to talk about the failure that are the meds they prescribe or won't prescribe to me for this pain.

This is absolutely unimaginable to me.  I wonder everyday what the hell I did so horribly to have to put up with it all.  Is this the price I pay for wonderful kids, a great husband and still being alive?

I am terrified at how bad this going to become in the future. I re read over my posts from the past years and I shake my head, wondering how everyone missed this [doctors] , but Sunday?  Today?

I could not walk down the hall.  To go to the bathroom.  The combination of everything is just too much.

I am sitting in a padded chair, too scared to go to bed because I know how bad it will hurt.  And that sounds simple [simply stupid?] to you Tadpoles, but it isn't to me.  It hurts being alive at this point and all I want to do is sleep, oh. . . .sleep, the idea of it, the beauty. . .. yet - not within my reach.

I honestly pray for death some days.  And there is the truth I don't think you all can handle. I shouldn't be that selfish, when so many have it worse. And what about the kids? Steven?

Sorry if it isn't Skippy enough for you or you see me playing so nice on FB, but if you had the days I have had you might' be  praying for death too.  The only difference is I have been in this pain for years. And lying about it.

I will do my best to post a happier post soon. This isn't the Skippy you like. I know that.

But I warned ya'.  Sorry about it all. [and look at me, apologizing and stuffz.]

See ya' on the flipside.


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Not the Best Feeling In the World

Remember the peach pie I posted about a few day ago?

My favorite pie?  I eat very little Mostly in an effort to not hock up food I love and then not desire it again because anything you throw up after eating really isn't all that attractive the next time around.

The peach pie.

I made it.  Had one small slice and {bravo for me] held it down.

And then it sat in the fridge for a few days during our pseudo vacation.

Tonight Steven decided to reheat it in the oven [no, we do not own a microwave] without benefit of cover [think tinfoil, etc.]  It is almost an entire, homemade pie.  That is going to be ruined by reheating in that fashion.  But I have to keep my mouth shut.

So, there's that.

Would someone like to remind me why I even bother with this sh*t anymore?