Saturday, April 30, 2011

Happy Birthday, Cheryl!

Posted by Picasa


Kathy and Ricardo

It seems that visitors to our house have to have their photo taken with 3D glasses on. I think they look so funny!

Kathy and Ricardo came for fish tacos on Thursday ... the night before Ricardo had to fly back to Costa Rica. Ricardo made a Costa Rican dish for us. I can't remember what it was called but it's their version of french fries but using very green plantains instead of potatoes. The process was so interesting! I wish I'd thought to take some photos but we were all so busy doing kitchen things ... slicing and dicing and making a VAT of guacamole ... that I totally forgot to take pictures. If anyone wants to know what to get Kathy for Christmas, she was quite gaga over my "slap-chop". Mine's not a slap chop, per se. Mine is the one from The Pampered Chef and I love it. I've had it for several years and it's still going strong. Kathy shares my sensitivity to onions for which the slap chop is very handy.

Kathy just completed her Education degree. Another graduate in the family! She's going to spend her summer working on the ship (Royal Carribean - the one that sails out of New Jersey) and see if she can line up a teaching job here or near here for next fall. She'll be a GREAT teacher! Ricardo plans on visiting here again in the fall. I'm looking forward to some time in the kitchen with Ricardo. I would love to learn some more about Costa Rican cooking.
Posted by Picasa


Berry Flax Bran Muffins Recipe

I got a new cookbook a while ago: Quinoa 365: The Everyday Superfood by Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming. And since I'd found quinoa flour at HomeSense I made Berry Flax Bran Muffins from this cookbook.

I'm very happy with them. They're healthy - full of good things - and they're not very sweet, which is my personal preference. It's not that I don't have a sweet tooth but I don't like my sweet things TOO sweet, that's all. These muffins are less like cake and more like something that feels right for breakfast or a healthy snack. They're quite moist after being in an airtight container for most of the day. A bonus was that I was able to use raspberries right from Mom's backyard. Thanks, Mom. I like knowing where my food came from and how it's been treated.

Kevin likes to take a muffin to work every morning. These will be good for him. I'll make these muffins again. And again. With various other fruits.
Raspberry Flax Bran Muffins
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup cooking oil
1/4 cup fancy molasses
2 large eggs, beaten
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup ground flax (I grind my own)
1 and 1/4 cup wheat bran
1/2 cup quinoa flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 and 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup frozen raspberries

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. line a 12 cup muffin pan with paper liners (I had enough dough for a whole tray of mini muffins, too.)
2. Blend sugar and oil in a large bowl until smooth. Add molasses and beaten eggs and mix thoroughly. Stir in buttermilk, then the flax and bran. Set the mixture aside.
3. Combine the flours, baking powder, salt and soda in a medium bowl. Gently toss the berries in the dry mixture.
4. Fold the dry mixture into the wet. Combine but don't overmix.
5. Fill muffin liners about 3/4 full.
7. Bake on the centre rack for 16-20 minutes (mine took exactly 16 minutes) or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
8. Cool for a few minutes before removing from pans and then cool completely on a rack.
These will keep for a week in the fridge or for a month in the freezer. I can assure you that they won't last long in our freezer.

Posted by Picasa


Where Do You Get Your Groceries?

I wanted to do some baking today and needed a few ingredients. We stopped at Sobey's, which is where we usually go. I would like to do most of my shopping at the Co-op but because we're still involved in fundraising for the Scorpion's lacrosse team, we shop at Sobey's to support the team. Not that the Co-op likely has the ingredients I'm often looking for, so I guess that's just a little aside ... an explanation as to why we shop at Sobey's.

So ... we're at Sobey's and I'm a little disappointed (but not surprised) that I can't find some of the ingredients I'd like to try using so I get the usual type baking stuff. Boring.

After Sobey's we went to Petland so Kevin could pick up some aquarium things. And because I don't need to see the inside of yet another aquarium store, I went next door to HomeSense (the home store affiliated with Winners). And just look at the goodies I found THERE! I got two different kind of organic quinoa, dutch pressed dark cocoa, solid dark baking chocolate, extra dark chocolate chips, Himalayan and Atlantic sea salts (I already have French Grey from a previous trip), Organic and gluten-free chocolate cake mix (NO additives), coconut flour (I recently bought organic whole wheat and quinoa flours there, too), and organic brownie and dark chocolate cookie mixes. I usually get my chia seeds at HomeSense, as well as candied ginger, balsamics, vanilla paste, various flavours of oils including coconut oil, hemp seeds, some pastas, seasonings, jams and jellies, marinades and sauces. And more. There's a lot more there ... including coffees and teas ... if you're so inclined.

I know I can get some of the ingredients I want at Dad's on 8th Street, but I'm still pretty impressed with the selection that often can be found at HomeSense and I think they must have just received a new shipment because the shelves seemed especially abundant. I want to make a dark chocolate brownie recipe that includes lime zest and sea salt. 

And then Kevin and I made some very good sandwiches and followed the live stats for Luke's last lacrosse game for the season. It turned out to be another disappointing loss. Luke got a goal, but I think he's eager to put the season behind him and hope for a better season next year. Next week he writes exams, then there's the Kentucky Derby next weekend ... I don't think he plans to attend ... and he flies to Victoria on Monday to try out for a Junior A lacrosse team (The Shamrocks) there. I can't believe he'll be done his third year at Bellarmine! WOW!
Posted by Picasa


Blue Heather

This is what I did Friday night. I had pvr'd the royal wedding. Sylvia came over and she, Kevin, and I hunkered down in the family room and watched. Not all of it ... it's very long, isn't it? I still want to watch the parts I've missed.

I wish I'd had the energy to bother with gloves and a hat or even some tea, at least, but we didn't. I really did enjoy watching it and thought it was all very beautiful and exciting. I hope they really do live happily every after.

What I didn't do Friday night was go to my splurge party. That makes 4 in a row that I've missed. Did I even miss that many during chemo? Probably. Still, it doesn't seem right and it makes me feel quite blue. I had fully expected to be good to go and I was excited about it all month and then thought about it all week. Having had a long weekend and having given myself lots of down time, I thought I was on track. On Tuesday in particular I felt as good as I've felt in a long time. I had really good energy and didn't feel any afternoon sluggishness. It was quite remarkable and I thought it was a good indication that I'd be good to go on Friday night. But then I was feeling so good that I did more Tuesday evening than usual and then felt a little wired so I didn't go to bed as early as I should have. To be fair, I probably wouldn't have slept well if I had gone to bed earlier. My energy went swiftly downhill from there. By Friday at lunch I knew I was hooped. I was so tired Friday night. SO tired. And, in addition, during the day a new pain developed. A sharp and steady pain in a spot just under my left breast and over my ribs. It's not quite as bothersome today but it's still very tender. I don't like that. Not one bit. I'm hoping it will turn out to be just one of those mysterious but fleeting pains I get that seem to come out of nowhere and then, just as mysteriously, disappear. Please disappear pain. I haven't got time or energy for you.

Tonight we were invited out but, again, I didn't feel up to going. Kevin went without me. When I feel so bad at the end of the week, I really need my weekend to get myself feeling good by Monday so that I can get through the work week. Mom and Gary are coming in tomorrow because Mom has an appointment on Monday. I'm not very much fun. I poop out really quick. Of course, I get on a roll every now and then but then I pay for it later.

Other things this week have contributed to my blueness. My home communities of Kyle, White Bear, and Lacadena were hurting this past week and my heart and thoughts have been there, especially on Thursday when the communities gathered to remember a young member of the community gone too soon. Very sad.

And then I was disturbed by Ann's most recent post. Ann is from Sacramento, California and blogs about her breast cancer experience at Breast Cancer? But Doctor ... I Hate Pink!  She has quite the sense of humour even during some very dark times. I think she's going through an especially dark time.

I don't feel blue all the time but I feel that way much more than I ever have. It troubles me a bit. It's not typical. I'm not a "blue" type.  I'm not sure why I feel so bummed sometimes. Is it a bit of a post traumatic syndrome? I understand that PTS is quite common after a cancer experience, though often not acknowledged by the medical community who are pretty much done with you after you finish your treatments. I have lingering aches and pains and while those don't interfere with my daily activities, they are nonetheless there ... in the background ... and are more aggravating when I'm tired. And maybe it's because I'm overtired a lot of the time which results in my giving up a lot of my social life. That's good reason to feel bummed. All work and no play ... Well, I can't say NO play but it's sure less than was my custom and when I do have fun it usually costs me. And then there's the Tamoxifen. Depression is one of the side effects listed for Tamoxifen. I wonder how much of my "blueness" is simply caused by the medication? Maybe I'll know in ... say ... FOUR YEARS FROM NOW when I can stop taking it! Maybe.

But I'm alive. I'm alive and, for the most part, doing well. I feel guilty for wanting more and for still hoping for improvements. And I wish I could better master my fear of a recurrence. Every little ache and pain brings new fears. Before having cancer, I was unaccustomed to having aches and pains so I'm easily thrown off.  The greater distance I can put between me and treatment the better, though. I expect that in the fear department, time will be my friend.  Makes sense.

Next splurge is at the end of May. I'm going to be there. Dammit!!
Posted by Picasa


A New Quilt Project

I have leftover fabric after making Josh and Noelene's quilt, so ...

I've taken out some fabrics and added others to make a new working collection - mostly turquoise with bits of green and pink. You can see the very simple quilt pattern I've chosen in the bottom left corner. Click on the photo to see a larger version.

My dilemma now whether to use the green or pink fabrics in the bottom of the photo between the rectangles in the strips. I thought I'd settled on the green but after looking at the photo ... maybe pink? I can't decide. What I might do if I have enough fabric ... and I think I do ... is make TWO quilts in this same pattern. One with green and one with pink. That solves the problem. I'll probably have to add a few more fabrics to the mix, but I can do that.

I chose a very easy pattern because I need to become better acquainted with my sewing machine. I'm not so sure I can even sew a straight line! It's probably best if I make a quilt where there are not points or corners to be matched. Wish me luck. I'd like to but the fabric tomorrow.
Posted by Picasa


Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter, Vitamin D, and More Wedding Photos

I hope everyone had a super Easter weekend! I stuck very close to home. In fact, I didn't leave the house ... well, except to enjoy some sunshine in the backyard ... until Sunday afternoon when Kevin and I ran out to get a few groceries. I still hadn't unpacked from New York so I got that and many other chores done. Plus I slept. And slept. I needed to do that. We followed Luke's lacrosse game on Saturday. They lost against Denver, a team ranked among the top 5 nationally and the top ranked team in their conference. Luke got a goal. Actually he says he got two but the refs called him "in the crease" for the second one, which Luke disagrees with. Bellarmine has one more game to finish their season and then Luke finishes finals and enjoys some Kentucky Derby fun before he flies to Victoria to try out for a Junior A box lacrosse team in a couple of weeks.

I heard back from my doctor about some test results. He had correctly diagnosed the basal cell carcinoma on my back. But, he assured me, even though it's that awful "C" word, it's not the killing kind. It's gone now and I don't need to worry about it. It's not related to my breast cancer. Good news. All my other test results were normal. Normal is good.

I had my Vitamin D levels tested and I'm at 142 nMol/L and that's with my taking 6,000 international units per day for about a year. I thought it would be higher. The doctor from the Inspire Health Clinic in Vancouver recommended that everyone should aim for a Vitamin D blood level of 125 to 175 nMol/L so I'm going to increase my daily Vitamin D3 intake to 8,000 per day to see if I can raise it a little higher. I want to be at "optimal", not just within the recommended range, which is pretty broad. People metabolize Vitamin D levels at different rates so while someone can test at optimal by taking 2,o00 IU per day, someone else taking much more might have lower levels.

So ... my message to you is "GET YOUR VITAMIN D LEVELS CHECKED"! I'm still not at optimal after taking 6,000 IU per day though I've almost doubled where I was at (72 nMol/L) when I first had my Vitamin D blood levels tested after I finished chemo.

In case you're not aware, there is much recent research into Vitamin D and low levels in people have been linked to various cancers (including breast cancer), multiple sclerosis, autoimmune disorders, and more. It's certainly worth asking your doctor about and asking to have your Vitamin D levels tested.

I have just a few more wedding photos to share.

Here are Kevin and Kevin. Kevin Kaschl was helping John with the DJing for the dance. He and John wear matching splashy shirts when they DJ. They must have done a great DJing job because the dance floor was always busy.

Josh and Noelene had asked Kevin to be their master of ceremonies and he did an awesome job if I do say so myself! He engaged the bride and groom in a fun little game during the dance where he would ask them questions after which they would have to hold up the appropriate shoe to indicate "Josh" or "Noelene" in response. He asked them questions such as "Who is the better pilot?" and "Who was the first to say 'I love you'?". It was very cute.

Speaking of cute, this is a photo of Noelene's sister, Stephanie and her son, Tai-hei (I'm not entirely sure I've spelled it correctly), who live in Japan. I think everyone was completely charmed by Tai-he and he made everyone there want to have a baby! He is SOME CUTE!!

Posted by Picasa


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Back To A Happy Place

Messed up house or wedding photos? Easy choice!

The flowers at Josh and Noelene's wedding were gorgeous and abundant! Each table ... every surface! ... had a beautiful floral arrangement on it.

Noelene's bouqet was so pretty. The flowers were all done by The Nosegay. Thanks, Josh and Noelene for giving Nosegay your business and thanks, Nosegay, for such beautiful work.

In the photo with the purple tulips you can see the edge of a pretty beaded candle holder. These, in various colours, were strewn about the room in abundance ... on tables and on the sills of the tall narrow windows around the room! They were so pretty and effective. They really sparkled and looked very special. Noelene's parents had them sent from South Africa where they're made in what sounds like a woman's co-operative or a social economy enterprise.

I thought the cake was gorgeous, too! I can't remember who did the cake but it was the same people who have a booth at the Farmer's Market. I can picture it but just can't remember the name - a common situation for me. ARGHH!  I should say, too, that the cake was no just pretty, it was DELICIOUS!  Perhaps the best tasting wedding cake I've ever had. In fact, one of the best cakes period! I had a piece of chocolate and a taste of the Saskatoon berry layer. Mmm ... mmm ... mmmmm.  When I learn the name of the cake makers, I'll post it here.

Lynn, the mother of the groom, was looking especially pretty!  Her dress looked great on her. Here's her corsage. She's standing with one of her nieces from Alberta.

And, of course, Noelene was a bright, shiny, pretty bride. Here she is at the end of the evening just before she and Josh left the hall. She has her bouquet in a vase to extend its life. She has a wrap over shoulders, ready to face the cool of the evening. She must have been so tired. She was probably running on adrenaline by then. 


Party's Over. The Dirty Work Begins.

Be prepared to grimace! The next photos are NOT pretty by any stretch. They are downright YUCK!

This is what greeted me a couple of weeks ago on a Saturday morning when I went into our living room to water a plant near our front window. I felt it before I saw it. Not moisture. Oh, no! The surfaces were already dry. What I felt was the rippled hardwood under my feet. I looked down with shock and only as my eyes moved up did I see the brown stain on the wall and the baseboards and then the mess on the windowsill. And then more. EEEEK!! I must have happened shortly after last Saturday when I last went to that part of the house to water that plant.

So, the insurance adjuster and contractors have been by. We have estimates and quotes and right now there is a giant moisture sucking machine running by the wall because of the moisture behind the surface. In all the 22 years we've been here, nothing like this has ever happened before. I've learned a new term: Ice Damming. Something to do with the way the snow melted and froze and melted and froze, lifting the cedar shakes. It's wet inside the wall and the insulation is wet. Ultimately, it looks like that front wall with our beautiful window and window frame will have to come off and be replaced. We've been promised that our window will look just like it does now when all is said and done. We're lucky it was just the one wall and that the problem didn't wrap around to the other walls or effect the ceiling.

The hardwood is pretty rippled in about a five foot square area. We're leaving it to dry for several weeks and see how much it flattens out before deciding how much work it will need. If we're lucky, a light sanding and coating will be enough. If we're unlucky, it means replacing the whole floor. EEEK!!

The outside of the house will have to be painted, too. The brown stain doesn't come off. I tried on parts of the windowsill already.

So, that's my sad story. I was so sure our next big home event would be a new kitchen!  Wahhhhh!!

Posted by Picasa


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Dancin' The Night Away!

Oh yeah! There was LOTS of dancing at Josh and Noelene's wedding!

Posted by Picasa


Monday, April 18, 2011

Finally! A Quilt Show and Tell!

Remember this mix of fabrics I bought with a gift certificate I won? When I chose the various fabrics at the time, I wasn't consciously selecting ones that I thought might look good together but when they arrived and I laid them out, I thought they coordinated quite nicely. And so they became the basis for a wedding quilt for Josh and Noelene. I added a few more fabric selections for filler and some white cotton and ...

... Mom and I made this! I'm SO pleased with how it turned out. We used the Geese in the Park pattern. We made several rectangles of "flying geese" and then instead of placing them in a flying geese pattern, we turned them to make diamonds and zigzags. I like knowing that the pattern is actually a hidden "flying geese" pattern since it's made for a couple of pilots. Click on the photos to see bigger images.

I chose the fabrics and cut them and did the final applique for the finishing touch. Mom did all the precision machine stitching (not my forte ... yet) and provided her technical knowledge. Mom had Tara from Kyle do the long-arm quilting and the binding. She used the trees and leaf pattern from the forest fabric as the basis for the quilting design. I love it and I know Josh and Noelene will, too.

You can't imagine how hard it has been for me to keep it a secret! I've been so excited about actually finishing a quilt and doing it with Mom.  

This is the back. I took this photo before I did the applique so if you're looking for the camouflaged applique, don't strain your eyes.

The appliqued pieces that have since been stitched onto the back of the quilt are meant to give it some special meaning for Josh and Noelene. The problem is that I'm relatively inexperienced with applique. I'm quite confident with straight line applique as I've been doing on Hannah's handkerchief quilt but when there are little curves and indents ... well, I learned that I suck. I did improve as I went, though, so that's promising. I thought it was very clever to camouflage the appliques in the forest fabric on the back of the quilt. Future children might have fun finding the elephant, the bear, the rabbit, and the two airplanes among the trees and owls on the back of the quilt. They're camouflaged so well that my sloppy applique work doesn't show up so much. Bonus. I finished the applique on the Friday morning before the wedding. A close call.

The elephant represents South Africa where Noelene grew up and where her parents live.

The rabbit is for 2011 being the year of the rabbit. Can you see it? It took Kevin a couple of days of looking to be able to identify it. I told him he needs glasses!

There are two airplanes to acknowledge that both Josh and Noelene are pilots. They're both passionate about flying.

The bear represents both Josh's connection to White Bear, Saskatchewan and his and Noelene's love of the great white north and the land and the wildlife there.

For the label, I chose a handkerchief with shamrocks embroidered on it because I know Josh is proud of his Irish heritage.

Mom and I were SO excited to not just start a quilt but to FINISH a quilt! I want to start another one right now and I want to try my hand at machine stitching. SCARY!

It was all the more fun making a quilt knowing it was for Josh and Noelene, who we love so much.
Posted by Picasa