Thursday, June 28, 2012

Every Now and Then...

...I just like to say it. I'M RIGHT! Ok, there are those who would say that I like to say it a lot. That may very well be true, or at least it may seem that way. Most of the time when I know I'm wrong, I just keep my mouth shut.

People (friends, coworkers, family) have been poo pooing me for weeks ever since I decided to remove processed sugar and processed flour from my diet. "Well that's just crazy!", they say. Well, thanks to a recent study and the New York Times, it turns our I'm not so crazy after all. Something I knew all along.

Check out this article from them regarding how all calories are not created equal. I found it fascinating and pretty much right in line with my way of thinking. I love it when main stream news sources agree with me!

Yep. you read it here!

In a nutshell, for those who don't feel like reading the entire article, they put 3 different groups of people on 3 different diets, yet all the diets consisted of  the same amount of calories consumed. One group was on the strict Atkin's Diet, another on the "Low Fat" diet that has been shoved down our throats for years, and the 3rd group on a low glycemic diet that cut out overly processed foods. The results? The 3rd group burned more of their calories and maintained that burn much more so than either of the other 2 groups. That, my friends, is why I have been able to shed almost 20 pounds in 2 months without doing a lick of exercise. Most importantly, I did it even while I was lying in a hospital bed. It's not hard!

Not trying to be preachy, just saying, "I'm RIGHT!"

Monday, June 25, 2012

Cookography: Pots De Creme

I can't take credit for this recipe, although I did augment it just a touch. I found it on one of my favorite Blogs, The Pioneer Woman Cooks. I made it for my families "Father's Day/Nieces Birthday" dinner this past weekend. As I've mentioned in the past, my family doesn't celebrate any holiday on the day that it falls...Oy!

Anyway, this quick and easy dessert was just what we needed.

Perfection!

You just can't go wrong with chocolate and whipped topping. These little gems took all of 10 minutes to create and all of 2 seconds to eat. You start with eggs, chocolate chips, a dash of salt, and your desired flavoring (I used Amaretto) in a blender.

The Oster of my heart!

You mix this on low until it's well combined. Then you take a cup of strong, very hot coffee and you pour it through the lid while mixing on high. The hot coffee melts the chocolate and tempers the eggs until you have chocolate goodness you just want to pour on someone and lick it off (I digress)! You then pour it into whatever vessels you have handy. I had these little deposable shot glasses just sitting around.

An empty shot glass is no good to anyone!

I also wound up grabbing these small ramekins for the excess.

The rest I drank from the blender.

Then your refrigerate them until they are set and serve them with your favorite whipped topping. I used the Cool Whip seasonal flavor, French Vanilla.

My Mom's Boston Creme Pie in the background. Also Yummy!

These were a total hit with the family. Well, except for the family members who don't ever drink coffee. They found the coffee taste too much. Those who drink coffee didn't notice the coffee flavor at all. They focused on the chocolate...as did I. In the end these are great low sugar desserts that pack a powerful chocolate punch without being overly sweet.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Hotter Than H E Double Hockeysticks!

As some of you might have heard, it's little warm here on the East Coast. As I was driving back from lunch today this is what I saw.

Yeah, almost 12:30pm. I better hurry.

OMG! 100 degrees!!! It's freaking June...we shouldn't have temps like this here until Mid-August! What is up with this weather???

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Down the Primrose Path

I am a huge fan of blooming flowers, I just can't grow them. Thankfully I have The Hubby to grow them for me. These are Evening Blooming Primrose. Around 9pm every evening, you can stand at the plant and watch them bloom.

They smell good too!

It's like watching those time-lapse nature videos...only it's in real time. It's an amazing sight! Here is a video I filmed last evening.

video

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Nirvana

On Saturday Tod and I went here...

Heaven on earth!

We don't have one in the area yet so we had to trek to Chamberburg. But it was well worth the trip. The Hobby Lobby is better than any craft store I have ever been to. Not only do they have the supplies for any craft project you might enjoy, but they also have a huge amount of home decor and accents, as well as, a bunch of furniture.

It's like Michael's and Pier 1 got married and had a beautiful child.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Fishy

It's time to talk about food again. Since I've given up processed sugar and flour, I have been looking for  food items I can enjoy that are quick and easy to prepare. Recently, I ran into these.

Yum!

I'm not a huge fan of fish. I think this is partly due to the number of breaded fish sticks I was force fed as a child. To this day, I can't eat breaded fish! I do enjoy a good fillet from time to time.

These individually packaged Tilapia fillets come packaged in their own little parchment envelope. All you do is place them on s baking sheet and throw them in the oven for 20-25 minutes. They heat and steam in the parchment pack and the sauce permeates the entire filet.

I enjoy them alone as a snack, or pair them with a vegetable to make a meal of them. Tastey, tender, and flaky!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

I'm Seeing Spots

I love Pier 1. I remember when it was a great, cheap place to buy home accessories. Of course, now it isn't cheap anymore...they've gone up-scale. But you can still find some great stuff there. I usually shop the clearance sections. But these were not on clearance and I hope you can see why I had to have them.

I know! Right???

My dear mother made that runner years ago with fabric that I picked out. Now 4 years later, to find this glassware that works so well with it...providence! See why I had to buy them at full price. I just knew they would never make it to the clearance shelf. I think they will also make great tea light candle holders. I am all about things that can have a dual purpose. Sort of makes me feel like I got a 50% off coupon for them.

I know, I know...whatever I have to tell myself. I can rationalize just about anything!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Prison Reform

A few weeks ago, before I was admitted to the hospital, I hosted a retirement party for my buddy Dave. His wife Emily asked me to provide my "space" in order to properly house the larger party. We went with a prison theme, since Dave had been a prison guard. I designed the invitations using a vintage "Get Out of Jail Free" card from my Mom's Monopoly Set.

Then we had to figure out the menu. I wanted it to have hints to the food that is served in prison. Off to Google I went and with Emily's help, I discovered Meal Loaf. It is this horrid concoction that is served to prisoners that have misbehaved. Typically it is vegetarian, but some institutions add ground beef to it. So you take beans, spinach, cut-up bread, potato flakes and few other ingredients and you make them into a loaf. You bake it and serve it up to the miscreants. The challenge for me tho, was to make it appetizing. I basically followed the recipe I had found online, but I used all fresh ingredients and topped it with cheese. I also provided a gravy to dip it in.

Ok, so I really only wound up throwing half of it out.

All in all, it wasn't too bad. I found if you dipped it and slowly chewed it, letting all the flavors come out, it was actually palatable. Some people had a problem with the raisins in it. I assume they are in the recipe to be "dessert".

I also made a big pot of Chili Mac. Apparently, they serve this often in the prison environment. I can see why, it was sooooo easy to make. Couple cans of chili, some pasta and cheese in a crock pot...done!

Simple is as simple does

What is funny is that as I was opening and dumping the cans of chili into the crock pot, I couldn't help but notice how much canned chili looks and smells like canned dog food...even sounds like it plopping out of the can.

Emily made a big ol pot of Franks & Beans, another prison staple due to it's ease. One giant can of baked beans and 2 packs of hotdogs cut up.

Beans, beans, their good for your heart. The more you eat, the more you...

I stayed away from the beans. The last thing I needed was the gas. But I did eat some of the hotdogs. After cooking in the bean juice, they were delicious. Maybe eating in prison isn't so bad as long as you stay way from the Meal Loaf.

Emily also made a cake, building on the "Get Out of Jail Free" theme. She's actually quite a good decorator of cakes. I will need to keep this in mind for future parties.

So cute! What is black icing made of???

She did a great job with the art from the Monopoly card. I am told the cake was great. I didn't try it cause well...SUGAR!

So, if you ever find yourself in prison, now you have a bit of preview of what to expect in the chow line. Oh, and remember...don't drop the soap!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Posies

The Hubby headed off the other day to State College to see his family and to interview for a job up there. Before he left tho, he brought me in some Convalescent Flowers.

He has such a knack for combining colors

It was wonderful while trapped here at my desk with my leg up to be able to look over and see such a pretty arrangement. It's a skill I've never possessed...being able to grow flowers. I can buy them, I can arrange them, I just can't grow them.

So, once he was gone I grabbed the shears and decided to create another couple of presentations. I'm probably going to get in trouble for this, but oh well!

Wine glasses, not just for wine...who knew???

I love displaying just a single bloom, especially when it's lilly of some sort or another. I feel like it really shows off the flower in a way it doesn't when it's paired with other flowers in an arrangement.

It's like it's bathing in purple!

I also enjoy combining a large bloom with an assortment of another smaller bloom in a contrasting color. Not your typical arrangements, but then I've never really been called "typical". Not to mention that these are soooo much easier than putting together a full arrangement. I'll leave that to The Hubby.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Downton, Not Downtown!

I have often been amazed at the quality of television the BBC manages to create...Doctor Who, Absolutely Fabulous, and Merlin just to name a few. Recently, during my convalescence I stumbled upon Downton Abbey which is now in it's second series (what they call a season in the UK).

Never a more stellar cast!
The plot revolves around the servants and family that inhabit the magnificent piece of real estate. I have found it to be a fascinating period piece (which I usually don't enjoy) that not only highlights the aristocracy, but also those who served them. It also delivers intricate plotting that is akin to what we have come to know as a Soap Opera. For some reason tho, being British, it's all seems much more high class and proper.

No cat fights in the mud or Koi Pond to be found here. The cat fights to be found in this drama are all delightfully verbal and fiendishly clever. Maggie Smith, playing the Dowager Countess, rules the screen with more grace and venom than any "Alexis Carrington" I have ever witnessed.

The series is beautifully photographed. It is mostly filmed on location at the amazing estate you see in the photo above. I have also been captivated by it's score. The Hubby often makes fun of me for my ability to listen to the same selection of music over and over again. This score has been playing from my iTunes since I downloaded it 4 days ago. Take a listen and also get a glimpse of the cinematography that has so captivated my attentions


I hope you have a chance to check out this series if you haven't already. I 'm sure it can be found somewhere on BBC America. It's managed to hold my attention much like Game of Thrones, except here the characters bathe on a regular basis.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Food! Glorious Hospital Food?

Ok folks, here it is...the LAST hospital post. You may all breathe a collective sigh of relief.

I can't speak for every hospital everywhere, but the Meritus Medical Center in Hagerstown, MD has absolutely wonderful food. Their cafeteria/food court is one I would visit even if I wasn't staying at the hospital or visiting someone there. I never got the chance, or remembered to ask if they use an outside contractor or run the venue themselves...but it doesn't really matter.

Granted, I guess it depends on what diet you're placed on as a patient. Some sort of mistake was made with my initial check-in from the ER and I was placed on the cardiac diet even tho there was nothing at all wrong with my cardiac system at the time. This meant that my first meal the next morning was less than spectacular. It consisted of oatmeal (which I never eat), skim milk (which I never drink), dry toast (what's the point?) and a tiny bowl of scrambled egg-like product. Heaven help the day I ever have to eat like that! The second my nurse came in I told her we had to get this changed. There was nothing wrong with me that should relegate me to this torture. Not to mention that fact that I had not 2 months ago decided to remove all processed sugar and flour from my diet. It's for sure instant oatmeal and white toast did not fall into that category.

It took all of 10 minutes for the change to be made. Thank you Dr. Palmer! This opened up a world of lavish splendor I never thought possible in a hospital setting. Not even an hour after my diet option had changed than a suited concierge appeared at my door to discuss the menu options for lunch. He explained the hot meal special of the day and if that wasn't what I was in the mood for he had a host of substitutions I could choose from. That day the meal was a French Dip Sandwich with the choice of a salad and dessert options.

Once lunch was served and it was delicious, he then returned mid-afternoon to discuss dinner and breakfast the following morning. I began to feel less like I was staying in a hospital and more like I was at a resort! There was parmesan encrusted chicken breast, omelets with cheese and sausage, meatloaf, delicious juicy cheeseburgers. The options were truly endless. A small part of me wishes I was still there to sample even more menu items. I wish I had taken a picture of each meal as it was revealed to me, but alas, healing was more important. Here is my final meal of the stay.

Not impressive presentation, but D-Lish-Us!
The above is Turkey Slippery Pot-Pie. I was a little wary when the concierge described it, but it was quite yummy and full of flavor.

In addition to the meal service 3 times a day, each evening the nurse would appear at my door with the Late Night menu that I could order a snack from. If you were really hungry, you could order a complete second order of the hot dinner meal for the day. There were also sandwiches, salads, desserts, any kind of chip you could think of, and the hospital's "signature" milkshakes. I wish I would have tried one of the milkshakes, but alas...I really thought I was going to be there one more night and it would be my "going away" indulgence.

They also had a coffee shop in the lobby. The coffee that came with breakfast was your standard drip and that really wasn't up to my liking. On my last day at the hospital there was some confusion regarding my release. First I was leaving then I wasn't then I was again...maybe? So, I had told all my usual "Coffee-Bringing" visitors not to bother coming. About 1pm tho, I was jonesing for my Double Shot Latte so I asked the nurse, "Is it ok if I walk down to the lobby and get a coffee?". I was on "independent mobility" option after all. She stepped into the room and whispered to me, "Well, if you were to disappear from your room momentarily, who am I to say you aren't just walking the hall?...just put on some pants so you're not flashing anyone." Permission Granted! She ended with, "Just don't get caught!"

Yikes, the pressure! How to get all the way down 5 floors without being seen by anyone in a busy hospital? Turns out it was quite easy...just walk like you have a purpose, don't look back, just keep going. I ran into many people on my way downstairs and then again while going back up. Not one questioned me as to why I wasn't on my floor or as to why I was carrying a very large cup of coffee. I was the Ninja with the Open-Backed Gown! (kinda like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo! Ok, maybe not.)

So, if you find yourself having to go to a hospital and you happen to live in the Frederick/Hagerstown area AND it's not a life threatening situation, by all means head to the Meritus Health Center. You won't be sorry you did! When I was at the hospital in Frederick a few weeks ago and asked for some food you'd have thought I was asking them to name a wing after me. Then all I got was a dried out turkey sandwich with no lettuce or condiments. Heck, stop by the Meritus Cafeteria sometime when you're in the area and you will totally see what I mean.

I know a hospital stay isn't all about the food. They are there to save your life and keep you healthy, but while doing so, if you can get some good eats, I say Go For It!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

It Ain't All Bad

Almost done with the hospital posts folks, only one more after this. I wanted to take a moment to reflect on what this experience really meant to me and what I may, or may not have learned from it. Now I'm not going to get all sappy and go with the "Live Every Moment to It's Fullest" crap. We all know that's a load of bull. How totally exhausting would that be? You know me well enough by now to know that I am sooooo not about "exhausting". For me, it's about the small things.

I know, I know...the sky is not a small thing.

On the day I was being released from the hospital, this was the view out a nearby window. A storm had just passed and the skies were clearing. For me personally it felt very much the same. Four days earlier I was laying in an ER bed weathering what was perhaps the worst storm of my life to date. But that had passed and the sun was starting to peek through the clouds.

There will be more storms in the coming weeks, perhaps many. I'm not self-delusional enough to think for a moment that this isn't going to be an uphill battle. I mean, I'm fighting my own blood here...or it's fighting me, I'm not sure which?

But as long as I can keep this image in my mind, I know that at some point the rain, thunder and lighting is going to fade and the sun will once again poke it's head through the clouds.

Optimism? Maybe...call it what you will, but I prefer to think of it as an eventuality.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Never Forget

Some might say that I have a terrible memory...shut up Tod! I'm the first to admit that there are a plethora of details that slip through the stringy confines of my mind on a daily basis. But, ya know...I'd rather ask again then be concerned about remembering a bunch of things.  What I need is one of these! A Memory Board!

Look! I am independent!
This handy dandy little board is in every patient's room (Again, I am assuming, hopefully, that you have never been admitted to a hospital). Now I know, from the hospitals standpoint it makes sure that the rotating staff know what's going on and the patient can't pull a fast one on them (Unless said patient brought a Dry Erase Marker with them). For me it was wonderful! Ask Tod, I can never remember people's names. But now I always knew the names of the people I was interacting with that day. I never forgot my doctor's name. Suddenly my memory wasn't so murky. I was King of the World in an ill-fitting backless hospital gown!

All I have to do now is redevelop this for use at home. I already use a lot of paper lists here at the house, but what if I could combine all of that into a Home Memory Board. There could be To Do Lists, Grocery Lists, The Last 10 Topics Tod & I Discussed Online Lists, The Last 5 People I Spoke To Lists, in fact...the list of lists is endless! What would be even cooler is if it were somehow digital. I could tie it to my computer and just update till the cows come home! (No, I really don't have any lost cows...it's an expression people)

Another benefit is that anyone who sees my Memory Board would instantly have all kinds of topics of conversation they could discuss with me. "Oh, so you and Tod were talking about the house he looked at the other day...how is it?" or "What do you need boiled peanuts for???" or "Who's this Imelio person you were talking to yesterday???". Ok, maybe not that last one, that sounds a little accusatory.

Pick up yours...coming soon to Amazon.com!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

My Two New Friends

You will find these items in practically any patient's room anywhere in the country. They are a patient's best friends.

Mr. Lung Thing & Ms. Bottomless Drink!
If you've never had an overnight stay in a Hospital, and I genuinely hope you haven't, at least one of these items might be unfamiliar to you. Mr. Lung Thing (Sorry, I have no idea what it's actually called) is a tool that helps keep your lungs strong since you typically aren't at your usual level of activity when in a hospital bed. They set a goal using the arrow slider and your job is, while slowly inhaling on the tube, is to get the plunger to that level. Now, I have perfectly healthy lungs, so my goal was set at the highest. Considering the amount I smoke, I was quite pleased that I was able to hit that mark. For people who have compromised lung function, each day or two they move the goal higher in order to slowly rehabilitate the person's lungs.

In the hospital, they are very concerned with how much you pee. I suppose it goes to show good bodily function. In order to achieve this, the cup by your bed is never empty. I drank enough Diet Ginger Ale over the course of 4 days to fill a 5 gallon bucket and peed every single drop of it back out. They gave me a handy little "urinal" to facilitate this. I had to ask for an extra cause I was filling them up so fast.

Aren't you glad I didn't provide a picture of that?

We Interrupt the Hospital Posts...

...for this breaking discovery. Every now and then at 2 o'clock in the morning I find something amazing on the internet that isn't about porn. I jest! (Hey, it's out there...what can I say?)

Last night I was checking in and catching up on the many Blogs I follow and one had a link to this hilarious You Tube video created by a British comedian named Isabel Fay. Yes, she prefers comedian to comedienne. (says so herself on her website)


Well, at this point, I have probably watched the video 20 times and I can't stop laughing. I pick up something new in the lyrics every time. I have to admit I don't know who some of the british celebrities are, although I did recognize Helen Lederer from Absolutely Fabulous.

You can also click over to Isabel's website Clever Pie to see some of her other videos. I got a huge kick out of "Total Paperclips of the Heart" and "Commemorative Commemorabilia".

Just thought I'd share a giggle what with everything else that's been going on lately. Let me know what you think of her in the comments.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Back In Chains

Tired of seeing my IV posts? Well, think about if you had to look at them for 4 days straight! Anyway, once my freedom ended it was time to switch my IV. The one on the back of my left hand was really beginning to get uncomfortable.

On a side note, I thought of something on the first day that I highly recommend to anyone who ever has to be in the hospital should consider. I designated one arm for the Deposit Arm and one arm as the Withdraw Arm, That way, one poor arm wasn't getting all of the hassle. Worked like a charm! Each arm got a little bit of abuse instead of one arm holding a grudge against me afterwards.

Anyway, back to my IV. I decided to move it to my right arm, up until now, the Withdraw Arm. I figured it was time to switch them. I had no idea how much longer I was going to be in the hospital at this point and the way I sleep, it would work better in my right hand.

This time I had the forethought to go into the bathroom and shave all the hair off of my right hand. That stuff hurts getting yanked out! My nurse, Carole said, "Do you want me to do it on the side?" I thought, "Well, Carole...I'm not sure I know you well enough for that!" But what she meant was this!

Gives "On The Side" a whole new meaning!
If you are ever conscious in a situation where you have to get an IV...DO THIS! It's amazing! Totally gets all the tubey stuff out of your way. You don't catch it on things while doing menial tasks. Most importantly you can cover it up with your ID bracelet...well, depending on what hand your ID bracelet is on. Granted, once we made this switch, I never needed another IV.

I did learn something from this other than the obvious. I knew I probably wasn't going to be getting another IV since the Heparin wasn't working. So what I originally asked Carole was if she could just remove the IV all together. Get this! If you remove the IV the insurance companies then consider that you don't need to be in the hospital anymore. Hence why we had to move it to my other hand even tho I wasn't going to be getting anymore IV's. Funky Huh?

So, what'd you learn? Get your IV "On The Side" and if there isn't an IV in your arm, you no longer need to be in the hospital. Class dismissed!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Free To Be...

The third day (sorry these are out of order, I'm writing them as I think of them, not as they happen) I got to be free. The IV tube was removed, all of the electrodes monitoring my heart function were taken off, and the blood oxygen "finger tip" all came off. I was FREE! Free to get clean!

I showered, I shaved, I did a little dance, made a little love, got down...I digress. Anyway, even using the hospitals ultra harsh, but yet "baby" gentle toiletries felt wonderful. After my "spa day", I redressed in my gown lay down on the freshly made bed to enjoy my freedom for a few more minutes.

Look Ma! No tubes or wires! Just the IV "space station"
It was quite liberating after 2 days of constantly having something attached to you that you had to watch out for. I kind of equate it to having small children that never go to sleep!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Tethered

When in the hospital, you are almost always hooked up to something. Here is my constant companion for the past 3 days.

Hello Heparin Drip!
Heparin is supposed to clear up a blood clot and help thin your blood. It did neither for me. Three bags down my "Hatch", so to speak, and my blood was no thinner nor any less clot-ier than it was when I walked in the door on Monday.

Oh well, not all drugs work the same on all people.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Rumors of My Demise...

Have been greatly exaggerated. But I am in the Hosptial, so it could happen any moment now. So PANIC!

Looks like a little space station landed on my hand

Hopefully that can explain the lack of posts lately. But don't worry. I 'm going to be laid up for a while with absolutely nothing to do but post...exciting!

So keep an eye out about everything I have to say about the Hospital system. Don't worry...some of it is really good!

Friday, June 1, 2012

The First Official Mojito of the Season

People like Memorial Day for a lot of reasons. For some, it's about those who gave their lives for this wonderful country we live in. Others consider it the official opening of the pool/beach season. For me, it means that it's Mojito Time! Yeah, lush here...get over it! So, here it is. the first official Mojito of the season.

3 words...Re-Fresh-Ing!
I say it's "Official" because it took place on Memorial Day. I had made 5 others at Ashlun's Housewarming Party on Saturday, but it wasn't Memorial Day yet, so those were unofficial.

In the photo above you can also see the 3 different types of mint I used in it's concoction. The Hubby, bless his heart, has also gotten me 2 other mint varieties to play with, but they aren't ready yet. You can click the link to find my Official Mojito Recipe.

Let me know if you try it in the comments.