Wednesday, June 29, 2016

So Many Friends Suffering So Much

I haven't been posting for a while. My body has gone through the motions of everyday living. I've continued with my charity crafting projects, with my de-cluttering, my crock pot meals for the freezer, kitty care, and so on. But my heart has been troubled because of the burdens faced by many of my friends.

It seems that every week or month, I learn of more and more troubles faced by others. It's not that I'm just beginning to become aware of the troubles of others. This is not new to me. But I suppose as we get older, our friends do, too. This means medical and financial and even emotional issues surface and affect their lives.

One couple is finally getting past a devastating auto accident. It involved physical healing, financial issues, and emotional worries.

Another friend is at the time of the year when she faces a fairly recent memory - the loss of her beloved son one day, and the loss of her beloved mother just two weeks later. It's only been two years, so the memory is still fresh.

Yet another friend, after being 32 years free of cancer, suddenly developed skin cancer and had to have that dealt with - she is having pain from the skin graft they took from her ear to put on her nose. I can't even imagine that.

In one family, one woman who has recently become a friend, has just finished radiation treatments for cancer and was planning a cross country trip as soon as she is strong enough, to see a brother who just had surgery for colon cancer (another friend of mine!) and learned he just passed away this week.

Still another is facing an upcoming regime of treatments, yet to be determined, for breast cancer. She is alone and fears side effects and how they will affect her in her, shall we say, "mature" (I know you are laughing, my friend) years.

I pray, of course, about them all. And I'm in touch with each of them, almost daily.

So many friends; so many problems.

And that doesn't count the others who have ongoing issues.

Lord Jesus, I don't know who to worry about most among my friends. You have lived in one of our bodies here on earth. You had friends who walked the earth with you. You saw them pass on, too. So I understand that you know how we are feeling. Please let your love and healing and strength pour down upon them all, each and every one, in whatever manner and level required. And please, too, heal my own heart which aches for them. We trust in you. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Fire in Our Senior Mobile Home Park Today

We had a fire in one of our mobile homes today. I didn't even notice the smoke until it was almost out. I thought that it was in the mobile home park a block away. When I did realize it was here, I drove over to see where it was.

I couldn't go past it. The utility trucks were still there, cleaning up and making sure it was out. I drove behind that street and saw that the one home is totaled, just a charred shell, and that the shed was also totaled, and that there was some damage to the home next to that lot.

A friend tells me that the people got out but 2 dogs did not.

I know nothing more.

Lord Jesus, please pay special attention to our mobile home community and to those people who are now out of their home. I pray they had insurance. Please protect us in our community and elsewhere as well. In the heat of our desert summer, we are prone to many sources of property (and personal) damage. I worry about my friends and neighbors and I'm turning that worry over to you. I know you will do whatever you can while abiding by the Father's will. Bless us all, please?

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Barbie/Ken Crochet Canoe FINISHED!

Back on March 14, 2016, at this post, I mentioned I was beginning a project for a friend/neighbor. Two of us in our senior mobile home community discovered that our friend had a granddaughter (now 10) who loves Barbies, but family folks who bought them for her wanted her to shelter them as "investments" and keep them as collectibles.

Now, I love this woman and I would never say this was cruel, and it isn't, but the little girl that still lurks inside of me yearns to play with Barbies. They weren't alive when I was growing up. The best I had was a Betsy Wetsy (remember them?).

Anyhow, the two of us decided this little girl needed at least one to play with. My conspirator neighbor gets to many places that have great prices and she picked up both a black Ken and a black Barbie. For some odd reason, we decided on the canoe.

This has been an upward battle. It is not the hardest crochet project I've tackled but it is the hardest one for me to work on - I keep finding ways to stall. A few weeks ago, I finished all the pieces.
Yesterday, I finally sawed a 12" 1/4-inch dowel down to 9" for the oar. Today, I sewed the cover around the oar handle and the paddle cover and loop-handles so she or he could hold the oar. 

The part that frightened me was stuffing the seats and attaching them. I had no fiberfill. I tried 2 large pom-poms in each seat but they were too bulky. This morning, Eureka! I must have 50 skillion old wimpy washcloths in here and I grabbed one and cut it in half and then those pieces in half again, length-wise. I folded 3 times and the pieces fit just right inside the seat covers. Not only that, they are nice and firm. Sewing the seats to the inside of the canoe also frightened me. They had to go onto the 5th row down, and 2 inches apart so two sets of legs could fit in there and go under the seats. But - I did it!

Photos here, of course.

NOW, I will never, NEVER make another one of these. Well, I would have to charge a lot for the emotional wear and tear.

Lessons learned on this pattern: 
- crochet more tightly (this one is a bit floppy) 
- pay very strict attention to gauge (this one is just a tad bigger than expected) 
- that's about it.

With all my stalling, it took me about 3 months. It would be a lot quicker next time. Whoa. I didn't just see me type that, did I? Delete - delete...

I truly hope the little girl loves this.

So, when we present it to my friend, the canoe is on me, the Ken and Barbie is on my friend.

I am thinking of making a ballet tutu, leggings and slippers, too - in purple (her current favorite colors) because a little girl who now has a Barbie to play with also needs something to dress her in. This little girl is currently taking ballet classes.

I'm in trouble - I feel a fashion doll crochet obsession developing...

Thursday, June 16, 2016

EBTKS Soup - Scrumptious

That soup taunted me all night long. This morning, I had to run some errands and I was out for a couple hours between 6:30 and 8:30. I had turned off the crock pot before I left; it was already "finished" and had set itself to "warm" and I wanted it ready to be handled when I got home. I did take out the meaty ham bone before I left and I added some water. It was already thick and rich and smelled so, SO good.

When I got home, I grabbed a bunch of little plastic containers (go-packs, for mini-cookies - I end up with a ton of these and they hold about 1 cup liquid measure). I used a 1/3 cup scoop and divvied it up and I ended up with 11 1-cup containers. Two will stay down for today and tomorrow; the rest go into the freezer tonight after I label them.

I did not even put any of the ham back into the soup. I de-boned it and put the pieces into a container in the fridge to use off and on for a week, in this and that. When I tasted it, the barley had made it all velvety and rich and thick; the yellow zucchini slices, very thin from my mandoline, had more or less disintegrated and the slivers of rind sort of look like pasta strings - the whole thing had texture and flavor and eye-appeal.

Oh, and I've named this after my early-1940s years - the EBTKS soup- that's Everything But The Kitchen Sink soup.

I will be making this off and on from here on in, clearing out veggies, leftovers, etc. but I will always include a meat-piece (chicken quarter or two, meaty ham bone, beef soup bone, or even tiny ground turkey meatballs), 1 can diced tomatoes, and 1 cup barley (or maybe brown rice).

When I looked into that pot this morning, it looked great and I had to take a photo. I don't think the photo does it justice but I gave it a good try.

I am in foodie-heaven and the good part is that it is all pretty healthy and comforting and satisfying.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

My Plans for Today

Let's see. I will be prepping the veggies and defrosting the ham bone (with lots of meat on it) for overnight crock pot cooking - zucchini, lots of other veggies with ham bone and barley soup.

During the day, I will also be pulling out a few things to be picked up by Safe Nest in the morning. They want it outside by 7 a.m. - a former neighbor dropped some of her things off yesterday to add to the pickup. I just need to stuff about two large bags to be ready.

You might remember my talking about that crocheted Barbie/Ken canoe project of mine as a surprised for another neighbor's great granddaughter. Well, believe it or not, I think I have the courage to assemble it today. I need to neatly (the key word is "neatly") attach the two seats inside the canoe, cut the 12" 1/4-inch dowel down to 9", insert that into the oar cover, and attach the oar handle. I really do think it will be finished tonight.
Along the way, I learned that the girl is 10 and loves her ballet lessons and the color purple. I found the cutest little fashion doll ballet outfit - leggings, tutu, and slippers. I'd really be happy if I found the right colors in my crochet thread stash - that part will be fun. The canoe is not (key word is "not") fun but it does look good - so far.

One of my "invisible" charity crafters stopped by yesterday. She and her hubby run into town several times a year from about 70 miles away. They dropped off a ton of wee fresh apricots. I hope to prep 1/3 for the freezer today, 1/3 tomorrow, and keep the others handy for easy grabbing in the fridge.

Stuffing the canoe seats is an issue. I had no fiberfill in the house. I did discover two packs of jumbo white pom poms and found that a pair of them fit inside the seat covers. They might be too fat but I'll see before I sew them in. If they do not look right, maybe I can use some felt, cut and folded to the thickness I need - that might work. I do have a lot of 12" felt squares in here.

Along the way, as I come across things, and I do every day, I put things aside for a drop either this weekend or early next week (before we hit the 1-teens (112 and up), to a family I know - they always have someone among them who can use what I no longer need or want.

So, for now, that is the plan. What about your day??? Any plans?

Breast Cancer Questions

Without disclosing my friend's name, I'd love answers to a few questions about breast cancer treatment in today's world. 
My own cancer (Stage 3 Colon Cancer which had spread to the lymph nodes) was back in '99, and the friends I know who had breast cancer also had it at least a decade ago.

My questions now are about current treatments, side effects, and ability to function if you are a senior at home alone.

We are worried that the treatment might/would debilitate her to the extent she could not get around at home alone. She is, like me, not a spring chicken but she is not an ancient old biddy, either. I don't think she has a pet to worry about during this treatment period.

She doesn't have enough money to bring someone in during that time.

She, like me, doesn't have family who can give her some help.

We are trying not to over-think this too early in the game. Results should come back late this week or next, so we do not even know the extent or type.

I almost hesitate to post this - I don't want to blow her mind with talk of mastectomies and such. So, may I ask you to keep replies as helpful and upbeat as possible?

All that said, and all those questions asked - add this: Please, please keep this dear and generous and loving friend in your prayers while she deals with this matter?

Sweet Lord Jesus, once again, I come to you, asking you to help a friend in need. Nothing is too small for your help (the water into wine) or too large (feeding the thousands with so little), so I know this is something you can handle. Please just take a moment to look in my friend's direction and send her all the love and comfort and wisdom she needs at this time. I trust in you.

Zucchini Question

Ok, my crock pot friends - I want to use up some zucchini and other veggies (fresh from a friend's garden) in a soup but I don't want to puree that zucchini - no problem there, I expect. As for a base, I don't feel like using my chicken pieces and picking chicken off of bones - can I use a ham bone (with lots of meat on it) with the zucchini and veggies? In other words, will the ham blend okay with the zucchini? In my mind, zucchini will happily mix with just about anything, right?

Monday, June 13, 2016

Today's Activities

I didn't really do much today. Finished 2 crocheted baby jackets for our charity crafting team.

But part way through the day, I realized I have come to depend on having some kind of dish with beans in it, in my freezer, and I depend on munching on that at times when I need to feel satisfied and full. I needed to feel satisfied and full today. But I had no beans in the freezer - at least not eat-it-NOW ready.

So I yanked out the crock pot, took some frozen pre-soaked beans from the freezer (half pinto, half navy), a really big can of pinto's from the closet plus a can of black beans. Grabbed a can of diced tomatoes and one of Rotel. Rooted around and found one lonely onion left in the pantry, and a big ol' red bell pepper. Tossed all of this in the pot and let it do its magic. Added a little cumin and a little chopped cilantro. Oh, and I thin-sliced (on the mandoline) a few carrots.

I just finished dishing it into 7 containers which I will leave in the fridge overnight. Tomorrow, I'll label and date them and freeze all but one.

Partly, I had planned to let the freezer get a little low. I want to defrost it this month. The last defrost for this upright was June 15, last year. At that time, I hadn't done it for 3 years. Doing it this month, just a year later, it should be a whole lot easier.

Also, one of our charities crafting team is coming up from their home about 70 miles south of us. They stop by 2 or 3 times a year and bring about 100 hats at a time. I've got two bags of donated yarn all sorted and ready for them to pick up. I'll enjoy seeing them, even though it is rarely more than 20 minutes.

So, basically, all I did was do a crock pot of a 3-bean batch for sides, and do some yarn sorting for pick up tomorrow.

Tomorrow, I must vote early in the morning, drop off a bill payment, and head home for breakfast. 
Later in the day, those folks will be stopping by, and one of my former neighbors might come by. I've got a charity pickup scheduled for Thursday and she's got some things she wants to get rid of, to add to that one. I like to schedule them at least once a month (they come into our senior mobile home community about twice a month) because that forces me into a deadline for some minor de-cluttering. I'll be sorting for that charity pickup and for a friend who has a lot of family who enjoys getting some of the stuff I must get rid of. Hopefully, I can make a drop for that family this coming weekend or early next week.

For a change, I have nothing scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday. Maybe I can get something done in the house. Maybe not...

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Prayer Request for a Friend, Please?

I need prayers, big time, for a friend, please. 

I have no details but have been asked to keep this person in prayer. We all know that there is power when two or three are gathered in His name, and if only one or two of you join me, we've got that covered!

Sweet Lord Jesus, you healed everybody who asked for your help. You even healed when that woman touched only the hem of your garment. I trust you to look lovingly down upon this friend and help her in her hour of need - give her strength, faith and whatever she needs while you work this out for her. And please take a moment to ensure all her medical personnel are on top of this matter, no matter what it may be.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Plans for This Weekend

It will be cooler this weekend than in the past week or so. I've already made a run and mailed an Etsy order for 5 of my pocket crosses (burgundy). I had already packed and taken out the trash.

When I came home, I realized I will not be walking once a month (it's summer and we do not deliver the newsletters in the heat) so I took a short walk in my part of the senior mobile home park and stopped and visited on a neighbor's porch.

When I got going again, I stopped at another neighbor's porch.

Eventually, my belly said to me: COFFEE and OATMEAL. A friend and I made a run to Winco this past week and I stocked up on my bulk walnut pieces and dried cranberries, so I tossed some into my oatmeal with some diced apple, cinnamon and ginger, and a glob of peanut butter - do not cringe. I love it - lots of flavor and lots of nutrition.

I just tossed in a small load of personal clothes and will follow that with a small load of linens (stripped the bed) and towels.

In between, I will check my bank balance and set up the rest of my bills for payment this month.

I will make some sugar-free jello this morning. I usually get 2 different flavors of sugar free, small boxes, and combine. They make enough for me to eat off of it for a week or so. I love it when I just need a dollop of something sweet and wet and safe, but also healthy. I divide it into 2 containers and just grab a tablespoon or two whenever I hit the fridge.

One other project involves at least getting one VCR, one that will record, up and running in the living room where the TV gets the most stations. Attaching a VCR to an old analog TV with built-in VCR (the built in is eating my tapes and no longer viable) while also dealing with an analog-to-digital converter box and an indoor antenna is challenging what I thought of as my reasonably decent intelligence level. I yanked out the manual for the one I was gifted from a friend who never once used his, and I'll be playing with that, I hope, today. Because this one is a 2002 model, it doesn't say a thing about indoor antennas or converter boxes - this should be fun. If you hear crying and whimpering later this morning, you know why.

What I'm doing is making myself feel as though I've had a productive morning so I won't feel guilty when I stop short at 2 p.m. and begin a TV session for real. From 2 to 4, I'll watch the Belmont Stakes, then hit PBS. They're having their pledge drive until mid-week next week and they have tons of specials such as The Carpenters, Rhythm and Blue, Bee Gees, This Land is Your Land, and more.

So there you have it - my intentions are good, as always.  

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Lessons Learned

Folks often tell me not to dwell on past mistakes but I cherish those memories.

They guide me.

They keep me from repeating those mistakes.

They allow me to share with others the lessons I've learned.

I am grateful to be able to recognize them. If I didn't see them or accept responsibility for them, I could never benefit from them.

I admit I do not publicly admit all my mistakes but I do admit them to myself and to Jesus because I know he understands my remorse and my resolve.

It's not that I dwell on those mistakes, but when they enter my mind, I am happy that I was able to change, that I was able to resist repeating that behavior.

Sweet Jesus, thank you for being there for me, for saving me, for understanding. Please continue to strengthen me and help me to always want to be a better person. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Hot Weather Thrills

Tomorrow, it is supposed to be a degree or two cooler. 

Our neighborhood hit 106 today and a few miles away, it was 108. It amazes me that I have adjusted to this weather to the degree that a few degrees difference thrills me. Scary, isn't it?

Still, we have not hit our Vegas stride just yet. We KNOW it's summer when we are hitting 114 and 115 - the good thing is that those days are not many. Out of the whole summer, it's rare for us to hit that for a week or two in a stretch.

Yep, I'm thrilled that tomorrow will be 2 degrees cooler - can't you tell how excited I am?

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Update on Copycat Arby's Jamocha Shake

Back on the 26th, I mentioned I was going to try a copycat version of Arby's delish Jamocha Shake, at this link.
Today, I did it! Okay - here's the deal. I'll give you 2 links, below - one is for the regular version and one is for the lo-fat, lower calorie version.

I made the regular version today. Exactly as they have it, except I used sugar-free chocolate syrup, and I used artificial sweetener. The low calorie version says to use either Splenda or Equal, but I didn't have either one in stock, and used a generic for Sweet and Low, which is a saccharine product.

It was easy to make. The "jamocha" flavor was great - I love it. There is a very slight aftertaste and I think it might have been the Sweet-and-Low, so I'll make another batch next week and use either Equal or Splenda. But it was such a minor issue, and I really, really love this.

Oh, and for me, the sweetness level was a little high. We all know that artificial sweeteners are more intense than real sugar, so next week, I might cut the sweetener by half - after all, the ice cream itself (I'm partial to Breyer's Natural Vanilla) is sweet in itself, as is the sugar-free chocolate syrup.

The recipe makes 32 oz, or 2-16 oz. shakes. In my case, I divided it into 4 8-oz. servings. I've developed a habit over the past year or so of picking up those little $1 mini-cookie snack -packs in the plastic cups with plastic lids. I recycle the cups. I've used them for freezing yogurt (which I transfer from a larger tub) and even some of my freezer crock pot meals. They are perfect for these shakes, for me.

I'm tickled pink with this, and will keep some in the freezer all summer, I'm sure.

Regular Version: 

Lo-Calorie Version: 

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Silent Prayer Requests

Like most of us, I don't always let folks know when I need prayers. I know so many folks who need them daily, and probably will for years to come. In times of stress and distress, we are often overwhelmed by our troubles and do not even think to ask others to pray with us, or for us.

Because I am easily distracted by life's issues, I do depend on saying one prayer before I go to bed each night. In it, I include most of my friends and loved ones in one way or another. 

This is what I pray:
"Father, please bless and protect everyone in my mobile home community, the residents, the staff, and the owners, past and present. And please bless everyone who has ever helped us, tried to help us, or wanted to help us in any way, shape or form."

Now that I look at that, I think I also need to add: " ...and bless those who need your help and have not let us know about it - for those are probably the folks who need your help the most."

Friday, June 3, 2016

This Foodie is in BIG Trouble

Every once in a while, I get cravings for an Arby's Jamocha Shake. I've been able to hold them down to a few times a year, but the last few I had, it seemed to me that the flavor isn't as strong as it used to be. Of course, maybe I'm jaded and crave a bigger dose of the "jamocha."

An online search gave me two recipes for DIY "copycat" Arby's Jamocha Shakes. How great is that?

This weekend, I only need to pick up one or two things - I have everything else here in the house. And I'm gonna whip me up a big, BIG batch. I'll pack it into peanut butter jars and freeze them.
When this Vegas heat has me hot and thirsty and craving a "jamocha shake fix," I can yank one from my freezer, defrost, and indulge.

The great thing is that I know I don't need a lot to satisfy myself these days. Often, a few sips or a few bites of something I'm craving will be enough. This way, I can keep my bad foodie self from going overboard, and from spending when I don't need to be doing that.

I'll let you all know how these turn out. And if you want, I'll post the link(s) to the recipe(s). I think I'll do the lo-cal one first - it uses Splenda and instead of the chocolate syrup they call for, I know Hershey's has a sugar-free version.

I can't wait - I can't wait - I really can't wait...