Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Advent of the Stockings

Tomorrow starts one of my favorite traditions.  ADVENT STOCKINGS for the kids.

Every year we hang little stockings on their bedroom doorknobs and each night we stick a small present in them [usually $1 or less - socks, panty hose, make up, toy cars, candy, etc.] and mark it with a number. Tomorrow, the 1st of December with be number 24, Friday will be 23 and so on until the the morning of the 24th when it is 1! The kids get a big kick out of what we can find and it excites them to get up each morning.  It isn't the cheapy little presents as much as the surprise of what is in the stocking. :D

ETA:  Tracy asked what about Squirrel, the one at college - We wrapped all her little presents, numbered them and sent them off.  She is on the honor system to open only one a day. :)  She will open 16 at college and the remaining 8 here.

See you on the flipside Tadpoles!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

.37 Cents, Per Person, Per Meal

'Gotta love a cheap turkey! Woot!

We paid $7.12 for our turkey for Thanksgiving.

It was [obviously] the star attraction at dinner on Thursday, plus, with a little roux [flour/water] thrown in the drippings it made about 12 cups of gravy.

After I picked the turkey clean I boiled the bones with celery, onion, carrots and pepper to make buckets of turkey stock. [I did mine on the stove, like a dummy, and had to wait up for it to finish before going to bed. Tracy had the brilliant idea of putting hers in the crockpot. D'oh - why didn't I think of that? So easy and I could've gone to bed hours earlier.

Friday night we had gravy with turkey and mixed veggies over waffles [this is so amazingly good, I swear!] with all the leftover sides from the night before [oyster dressing, mashed potatoes, corn casserole, sweet potato & apple casserole] with more gravy.

Groaning into Saturday night, I opted for something lighter and we had turkey noodle soup with veggies and thin egg noodles.  We also had the leftover yeast rolls from T- Day.  Hit the spot on a chilly evening.

While preparing the soup I reserved 2 cups turkey stock and two cups diced turkey meat.  Along with the leftover mixed vegetables from Friday and a homemade pie crust I will make Wallene's all-time favorite meal - Turkey Pot Pie.  We will have to duke it out over the yeast rolls tho' because there are only 4 remaining.

I also have 3 servings of soup leftover to freeze for Pooldad to take to work and I had Friday's meal for lunch today.

So, that one turkey went into 20 meals total.  Quite a bargain, I say.
Now someone explain this to me - I only made two pies for Thanksgiving dinner - pumpkin & key lime.  They taste really good [by the family's account] and I have to agree, I have had a piece of each [they are my favorites] but, BUT - each pie is 8 servings - and I still have 4 servings left of each kind.  Meaning my family is slacking on their pie consumption.  What gives?  (heehee I am kidding, really.  More pie for ME!)

Hope y'all had a nice, relaxing Thanksgiving.  It was a quiet, thankful time here in the Skippy household - and believe it or not it is only 28 days until Christmas!  I know this because we decorated the whole house yesterday and my "Snowman Countdown To Christmas" chalkboard tells me so. :)

As soon as Squirrel leaves [tomorrow, sniff, sniff] to return to college I think I will crawl into bed and reappear sometime at the end of the week.  I am pooped. :)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

You Would Think It Was Christmas :D In the Best Way!

We received a very early Christmas present on Wednesday.

You are not going to believe it. . .but as of one week from today ::drumroll please::

Our family will have health insurance.


We have so much to be thankful for, but after five years of being without it this is truly the greatest news we have had in a long, long time forever.

I hope everyone that is celebrating this day of thanks has a wonderfully spectacular day, surrounded by loved ones and your turkey tastes as yummy as I know ours will.


Bless you all and THANK YOU!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

My Two Favorite Thanksgiving OOPS!

This will be my 25th year of preparing/orchestrating Thanksgiving at our home.  It is my all time favorite holiday and one that I find very festive, incredibly relaxing and very easy to pull off.  I do not [and never have] stressed this holiday.  What's the point?  It's just food. hee

Most of our early Thanksgivings involved many extended family members.  Although it has tapered off in the past decade as our family has become smaller the first Thanksgiving that always brings me to giggles was our largest.  My [first] husband and I had just moved into our first home.  We invited everyone and they all accepted.  There were 22 coming!  Some old [Moms & Dads, siblings] and some were new [significant others, fiances] so the pressure was on - especially when the old contingent started to brag to the newbies what a great cook I was and  how wonderful my oyster dressing tasted.  I scoffed. No problem.

[To be honest - it is my Grandma's recipe - and for all the people I have ever made it for that have never had it, they refused to go back to any other kind after tasting it.  They have to have mine or make their own facsimile of it. I have spread this recipe far & wide. It is that good.]

The person that was most enthused about trying this dish was my future sister in law Beth.  We talked everyday and she always ended the conversation with "Can't wait to try your world famous dressing."  Knowing her Mom is/was an amazing cook I wanted to make sure that it turned out just right.

Now, remember I mentioned we had just moved into a new home?  Well, this home needed a little updating in order to be ready to receive guests.  It was a 20 year old town home that needed new flooring and paint on  the level where we would be entertaining [kitchen, dining, living and powder room].  No worries.  My young husband and I rolled up our sleeves and got to work a few weeks before Thanksgiving.  With a baby in tow.  We laid flooring, spackled walls, removed wallpaper and painted.  And painted.  And then painted some more.  All the way up until the night before Thanksgiving.  But? We got it finished!  And it looked wonderful.  We fell asleep that night, fully clothed, knowing we had to be up at the crack of dawn to start cooking for 22 people.

After a quick, sleepy shower we were in the kitchen at 6 am. Sr. prepped the turkeys while I prepped the dressing.  The most important trick to making this dish is you have to use your hands to "squish" all the ingredients together well before stuffing the bird.  I happily dug in, mushing together bread, oysters, veggies, eggs, broth and spice. Squish, squish, squish.  Stuffed the birds and popped them in the oven.  I turned to wash all the gunk off my hands when I noticed my arms.  They were flecked all over with white paint.  All over.  I quickly rinsed my hands off only to discover they were free of any traces of the paint. Stripped clean without any scrubbing, just a rinse. I looked at Sr., then at the two turkeys in the oven and then back at Sr. and asked "That wasn't lead based paint, was it?"  He laughed and said no and assured me not to be worried about it.

The day came off without a hitch - I still marvel at how I got that many people in our home - but the best part was at the end when we were wishing all our friends and family good bye and my wonderful [future] sister in law gushed "That was the best dressing I have ever had!  I cannot wait to tell my Mom all about it.  What IS you secret ingredient. It tasted so great!"

Sr. and I just lost it.  We laughed.  Poor Beth didn't know if we were over tired or we were simply the crazy relatives she was marrying into.  It wasn't until her Mom called and requested the recipe that I had to call Beth and 'fess up to my Glidden infused oyster dressing.  We never did tell her Mom - and Beth swears her's tastes almost as good as my "original".

Believe it or not - the second OOPS involves paint too.  This time I had [almost] nothing to do with it tho'.  We get to blame Pooldad and [baby] Wallene for this one.  Oh, and it involves a brand spanking [just built] new home for us too. [Anyone sensing a pattern here?]

Once again a new home and a new[ish] baby and hosting Thanksgiving. YAY!

On the Sunday before Thanksgiving I  finished up painting our guest bathroom a beautiful blue color, but I knew I still needed to run out to pick up a few more accents to finish it.  I took the almost full can of paint [hey, small bathroom] and set it in the kitchen sink with the lid lightly placed on, so as not to have it dry shut.  Looking at it you could tell it wasn't closed completely.

Or so I thought.

Did I mention this brand new home had brand new white carpet throughout?  No? heehee

It did.  Which explains that when I walked in the door from shopping I found Pooldad down on his hands and  knees, vigoriously scrubbing away at the carpet in front of the entry way to the kitchen.  When I walked up the stairs and looked down at what he was scrubbing I just giggled and said "Honey, give it up. It isn't coming out.  Ever."

He sat back on his heels and looked up at me with the word "sorry" written all over his face.  He explained that he had needed to use the sink and thought the can of paint was closed so he had placed it out in the hallway ON THE WHITE CARPET. [Not, say, on my easily cleaned linoleum floor in the kitchen.]  He hadn't noticed that Wallene had toddled up and being the curious little girl she has always been she tipped over the can onto the carpet and then proceeded to walk through it.

Ahhh.  No harm, no foul. Accidents happen.  I actually didn't care because it WAS an accident and if my family was going to fuss about blue paint on the white carpet well. . .I didn't care.

I handed hubby a beer and got busy on the phone, calling carpet stores to see if anyone could come out before Thanksgiving and replace the carpet.  As luck would have it a very nice sales lady told me that our homeowner's insurance would pay for it and that I should call them first.  Bonus!  I called our insurance company and sure enough they were there the next day with a check to replace the carpet in the hallway, dining room, living room and all the stairs.

When Pooldad came home from work we hopped over to Home Depot where the nice lady in the carpet department laughed at me.  She explained that they were booked through Christmas and I was out of luck, but. . . if I would like she did have a number to two of her carpet guys who did sidework to pick up extra money.  Would I like? Heck yeah!  We purchased [funnily enough] BLUE carpet that was even nicer than the white we were replacing and the nice men were coming to install it Wednesday evening.

We spent Wednesday afternoon removing all the old carpet and had the most awesome time with Jorge and Luis, our installers, that night just laughing and drinking beers over the whole fiasco.  It was fun.

The strangest part was my Mom calling and asking what was going on.  When I told her we were having the carpet replaced before the holiday she began yelling at me!  Telling me that was the dumbest thing and I was just making more work for myself and Pooldad.  I still can't understand her reaction to our "problem".  She just had to show up and eat. Why did she care if I was having carpet installed on Thanksgiving eve?  It was weird, but typical of my Mom.

The funniest phone call was one Jorge received on his cell.  It was his wife and while he was chatting with her I think Pooldad, Luis and I were carrying on a wee little bit too loud because poor Jorge - his wife was yelling at him over the phone accusing him and Luis of being at a bar and not actually working.  We teased him when he got off the phone, but he assured us that his pay would go far enough in showing his wife that he was, in fact, at work.

All in all - we made out like bandits on the carpet deal.  We received nicer carpet, in a color we liked even better, while making life long friends of Jorge and Luis.  Plus?  We only spent half of the insurance check by "doing it ourselves".  We used the remaining money to pay for a very nice Christmas. heehee

So, if something happens this Thanksgiving that you think may ruin the holiday?  Take my advice and just smile through it.  It will be fine and just think of all the stories you can tell.

**And for what it is worth - I told Pooldad if we couldn't get the carpet replaced before Thanksgiving Day I wasn't worried.  I would simply throw down a big rock, make a paper boat with little Pilgrim people in it and call it a diorama of Thanksgiving. giggle

Enjoy!  See ya' on the flipside Tadpoles.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Highlights To The Week

Although I am not looking forward to more tests come Monday I did try to have some fun this week.

I think it turned out pretty well considering. :D

I usually ignore commercials on TV because, seriously? How many "Biggest ONE Day Sale" can Macy's, Kohl's and Target actually have in a month? According to the ads I see approximately 30.  I find it stupid advertising, but on Wednesday I fell for it.  And it worked out wonderful!

I was watching TV and I saw a Macy's ad for a sale Junior's Winter Coats.  We been holding out to purchase Wallene a new coat for Christmas because she has lettered in band and lettermen jackets are incredibly expensive. It was to be her "big" present.  Well. . .not only is getting very cold, very early here in Virginia [27 degrees F as I write this] Wallene has a fancy trip this weekend to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which happens to be a few hours north of here and therefore will be even colder.

We couldn't get the letter jacket now, and her old snow coat was in tatters so when the ad came on my ears perked up. Could it be true? 60 % off? Wow.  Skippy was sold.  Pooldad and I trekked out in the pouring rain on Wednesday and guess what? It WAS true.  We found her a gorgeous wool coat that she absolutely loves [phew!] and it was 60% off!  We could not believe it.  And we are so happy she likes it. Score one for Mom & Dad.

Also on the list of things I won't believe until I see it was another commercial - this time for Safeway Grocery Store and their sale on turkeys.  .58 cents a lb!!!  Double wow!  We have been pricing turkeys [for Thanksgiving] for a few weeks and they have been running in the $20 -$25 range for a 12 lb bird.  Ridiculous.  So we stopped at Safeway on our way home from Macy's and sure enough - we bought a 12 lb turkey for $7.12. Score number two!  Food has become so expensive everywhere that it feels good to be able to pay the "old" price for something we "have" to buy for our favorite holiday. YAY! I love a bargain or two.

Speaking of food - it is nice to be back to 1000 mg of sodium a day [oh, c'mon - you knew I was going there, heehee] because Pooldad crockpotted one of my all time favorite meals last night for dinner - Beef Stew. Oh, so good! And he knows how to make it very, very low in sodium. Good man.  I had a sodium free breakfast of fruit and oatmeal, sodium free salad and dressing for lunch and pigged out at dinner [thank goodness it is only sodium I count and not calories]. heehee I think it is the first time I have had seconds of anything in over 2 years.  Guess what I am eating for leftovers tonight? :wink:

The best news all week tho' is the fact that Squirrel will be home in less that 15 hours.  Dad picks her up this afternoon and we all have the week together. YIPPPEEEE!!  I don't know who is more excited - her, us or the pups.

Thanks for all the upbeat comments.  I really appreciate and truly need your smiles right now. I hope you understand.  It helps so much.

I hope you all have a fabulous weekend. I will be around as I suspect with Wallene gone Squirrel plans on catching up on her sleep. So, if you need me - you know where to find me.

See ya' on the flipside Tadpoles. :D

PS - Is it bad that I got hungry while writing this post and ate a salad and an orange at 4:30 am?  I swear I did not eat stew. heehee

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Plus And A Minus Kind of Day

Tuesday was a day of highs and very lows for us here at Chez Skippy.

The plus part of the day?  Wallene walking in the door at 4 pm with her first report, from her first quarter of her first year in High School. It was a definite PLUS kind of moment.  She received 5 As - 2 A pluses and 3 As.  We could not be happier for her and a bit surprised because she has been a busy kid for the past 3 1/2 months with all her activities.  I thought lack of sleep would've done her in eventually, but nope. She really came through. Good kid.

The minus to our day came at my doctor's appointment.  He was a new doctor [to me] and although I honestly didn't have time to explain everything in detail to him he seems to have drawn some conclusions that he wants checked with further tests.  If his suspicions are confirmed, and I suspect they will be considering my life long fight with anemia, I may be sicker than I thought.  And that isn't good.  Not news I need, nor wanted to hear.  I thought I was scared last year when I was in the hospital. Nope. Now I am really freaking out because it means another transfusion [thrill :sarcasm drip:] over the Thanksgiving holiday, plus long term treatment that may or may not prolong my life.

There was one small plus to the whole appointment tho' - I finally received a prescription that eases my congestion and allows me to rest better, plus I can go back to 1,000 mg of sodium.  I comforted myself with toast and a huge glass of water last night.  That was nice.  I also woke up this morning lbs lighter from getting rid of some of the water on my lungs. Bravo!

Once upon a time I would think about what my "Bucket List" used to have on it.  I don't think about "used to" anymore because it comes down to one thing left on my list.  And that one thing is Wallene.  I know it sounds like I am discounting the older kids, but, truly, I am not.   They are all adults and we have done a good job [I think?] of raising them to be productive, successful members of the world - but Wallene is still so young and deserves to have her Momma there for here - at least for the next 5 or 6 more years at least.  Dont'cha think?  I am so afraid to leave her and I cry at the thought of us without each other while she is still growing up.

You all did a lot for me last year when I was ill and I didn't write this post to upset anyone, but simply to ask if you could think a good thought, say a prayer or just give me a hug that I get through this too.

Thank you.  See ya' on the flipside Tadpoles.

Monday, November 14, 2011


Just one of those days where I have a lot on my mind, but nothing of such profound importance to actual throw together a coherent post about it.

Instead - I just thought I'd share the things I have been thinking about since I woke up at 3 pm.

  • Yes, that does say I woke up 3 pm.  I have screwed up my sleep cycle and now my body thinks we are on the night shift.  I fall asleep around 7 am and sleep until 3 pm.  Which, in the scheme of things, is good because I am getting 8 hours [unheard of for me, usually] but I miss out on spending mornings with Wallene and Pooldad.
  • How come, if I am eating so healthy - and I am - my face is still breaking out?  I never had this kind of problem in High School, but bah!  This just sucks.  I have my teenagers giving ME skin tips. It's depressing.  Thank goodness Pooldad loves me. heehee
  • Duke Mom #1 [waving!] wanted to know what I am doing for protein on this [almost] non existent sodium meal plan.  Good question - the fact is I can eat lean pork loin [3 oz serving] and boneless, skinless chicken breast because both are below 50 mg per serving for sodium.  Also - and a HUGE bonus for my tuna loving behind - I found Starkist low sodium canned white albacore tuna.  It is only 35 mg per 1/4 cup serving [about 1/2 a can] which makes me a very happy Skippy.
  • For the last 3 days I have kept my sodium intake below 75 mg per day and so far I have shed 3 lbs of water - but - and it is a big but - I have to now limit my liquid intake.  I only drink two things since I gave up carbonation a month ago, and that is water and mint tea.  Most people need 64 ounces of water a day, but not me.  I will retain it.  So what's a girl to do?  I was told to "be creative" managing my liquid intake.  I got your creative ::sarcasm drip:: I have taken to sucking on hard candy to keep my tongue from sticking to the roof of my mouth.
  • Speaking of sodium [bored yet? yep, me too] I am glad that a lot of you don't salt your food or even own a salt shaker, but after keeping my sodium under 1000 mg a day for over 18 months I have to tell you - please don't think it is making a bit of difference..Unless you were shaking a teaspoon worth on your meal [that is 2,300 mg - and just gross btw], you really don't save yourself much. Sure it sounds good, but it has a nominal effect on your overall, daily sodium intake if you do any of the following:  eat out, drink soda, drink alcohol, eat canned vegetables, eat canned soup, eat frozen dinners, eat processed foods [like rice a roni, Kraft mac & cheese, Cup O' Noodles, ramen] pizza [frozen or delivery] or consume a lot of bread.  They changed the guidelines this past year and a healthy adult's maximum sodium intake per day should not exceed 1,500 mg.  That is ONE meal at any fast food restaurant or sit down restaurant.  Bizzy made a great comment on my last post [waving again!] and said she tracked her sodium intake for one day [and this woman eats HEALTHY and is a GREAT cook, believe me] and she was shocked to see she had consumed 5,500 mg a day.  I am not saying everyone needs to be at 1,500 mg - sodium does have it's benefits - but go online and check your favorite meal at your local chain or pick up a can of vegetables or salad dressing and just see what it is you are consuming.
  • This is the FIRST time since being diagnosed and released from the hospital in May 2010 that I have retained this type of water [in my stomach and now legs].  From what I understand that isn't bad, especially considering I am not taking a single medication for CHF.
  • Okay - I am done chatting about sodium.  You're welcome. heehee
  • Does the following bug anyone else? We all know I am weird, but tell me if this bothers you too.  I gave myself a manicure on Saturday.  I removed all my finger and toe nail polish, trimmed them, filed them and then painted my fingernails.  For two days I walked around without my toenails painted and it was BUGGING the crap out of me [I know. I know. Weird. Told you.] The biggest problem is I have a hard time reaching my toes because of the water retention in my tummy [think pregnant belly - that's me] - plus I fear getting put back in the hospital [big possibility I am trying not to think about] and the nurses talking about how ugly my toes are. [I heard them do this with my Mom when she was sick. It is a real fear of mine.]  I needed to paint my nails.  This afternoon, after I woke up, I managed it and can now breath easy that my toes match my fingers.  And I will be a well groomed patient with teenage acne. giggle
See?  I told you all this stuff was completely random and non coherent, but it's been on my mind so I share with you!  Aren't you lucky?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Think You Could Do This?

Try to keep your sodium to almost zero for a day, two days or even a week.
Now, I have to limit my sodium, that is no big secret - but I have been retaining water like a balloon this past week and so I am trying my darndest to cut it down to zero. I do not want to go back to the hospital.

I am getting really close.  How does 22 mg of sodium sound? And bonus, I haven't been hungry all day, YAY! I am getting plenty of nutrients and vitamins in the process.

This was my menu for today - tell me if you would've been hungry.

Breakfast: Twinings Mint Tea [thanks Josie, it's delicious] glass of water, 1/2 banana [cut up] and a strawberry, peach and banana smoothie.
0 mg of sodium

Snack - orange and grapefruit slices
0 mg of sodium

Lunch:  Two cups of cooked oatmeal with blueberries and an apple.
0 mg of sodium

Snack - fruit popsicle and cup of mint tea
0 mg of sodium

Dinner:  Baked potato with 1 tbsp of sour cream and unsalted butter, fruit salad [cantaloupe, grapes and water melon] tossed salad with balsamic vinegar/olive oil dressing
7 mg of sodium [from the sour cream]

Dessert: 1/4 cup of Raisinettes [with anti oxidents! :)] and air popped popcorn [awesome mixture!]
15 mg of sodium

I know it sounds boring and not all that appetizing, but when you lose your taste for sodium [as I have] fruits and vegetables tastesweeter and spices taste stronger.  The hardest time I am having is avoiding bread, crackers, cereal, tuna fish, peanut butter and cheese.  When I wasn't retaining water I could budget those things into my diet of less than 1,000 mg of sodium a day and be happy - but when one piece of bread is almost 20 % of my daily intake, it is just best to avoid it for now.

The best part is most of the menu is all you can eat because it is sodium free.  So, if I get hungry I can just pop in the fridge for a salad or a piece of fruit. Or a popsicle. :)

As for the Raisinettes?  Y'all know I am not a huge fan of chocolate, but I like a sweet tidbit [bite size Halloween candy anyone?] and those had the lowest level of sodium of any nosh of chocolate I could find. Perfect.

Please know I have no complaints. I am lucky that my biggest problem is counting milligrams of sodium.  I just want to go back to [as] normal [as I can be] before the holidays come and the whirlwind begins.

Hope you all are enjoying your weekend and it is warm and cozy where you are.  See ya' on the flipside!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Truth Is Thursday. . .

Truth is . . . rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated. :wink:

Truth is . . . I had a pretty bad episode three weeks ago and I am still working out recovering.

Truth is . . . this means I spend a good portion of my day, in bed, only getting up to eat.

Truth is . . . heating pads, Tylenol and popsicles are my new best friends. :D

Truth is . . . trying to get through this without the benefit of medical care or health insurance is wearisome, but what are we going to do?  Can't pay with money we don't have.

Truth is . . . I am tired of being chronically ill. I try, I do, to stay positive, but sometimes I wish it was the flu or a cold - where there would be an end to it eventually.

Truth is . . . I am done whining.  And I want to thank you all for the nice emails and cards wondering where the heck I got off to - I figured I better post something before I had a Tadpole posse out hunting for me. heehee

Hope you have a wonderful week and if you don't see me around it is only because it is impossible to type while flat on my back in bed.

Hugs to y'all!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Feel The 2 AM Love. . .

I couldn't sleep last night and as I laid awake in bed I started to think of what I could make for breakfast. I was thinking that cinnamon rolls sounded good, but once I started researching I discovered I didn't have quite all the ingredients.

Instead, I settled on bagels.  I have never made bagels before but I thought "Meh, if I screw them up no one will know because they will still be in bed." Right? heehee

Lo' and behold - They turned out AMAZING. Darn near the best bagel I have ever had.  The recipe is so easy, but takes a while to make with the raising and boiling..

6:00 AM arrived and I had six lovely bagels for the family. [As of now at 5 PM? There is one left.]

Yummy!  Golden brown and crisp on the outside with a chewy inside. So, so good.
They are tasty toasted or untoasted and make a great sandwich.

I can't wait to buy poppy seeds, minced garlic [for everything bagels] and raisins [for cinnamon raisin bagels]. What's your favorite bagel?

Have a great day Tadpoles!  See ya' on the flipside.