They like rugs!!!!

May 29, 2008

This is repetitive for those of you who know us well, but for those of you who don’t Jim and I bought our first home in October.  It is a four family flat, turned into condos in St. Louis City.  We have one of the lower level condos.  It was rehabbed…hard wood floors, updated kitchen and bath….perfect for us!  We really like the place, but up till now have had no one living above us.  We knew this would not last.  I have to be honest,  I have been really worried about people living above us.  My mind thought the worst…a family of clog dancers, one of the strong man competitors you see lifting cars on ESPN, or maybe a few of the Jesse White tumblers on hiatus in St. Louis.  (Lots of tapping or pounding feet above our heads!)  Well, my worries have been squelched.  We have new neighbors and they are great!  They even like rugs! (Very important with hard wood floors.)  Two women in their 20’s have moved in, and they are so nice.  I could not have asked for a better situation.  We are even having them over for dinner when they are settled in.  I am so thankful that they are nice and that they are not tap dancers!      

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So…it is Friday night and I am where I have been for the greater part of the last four weeks….sitting on the couch.  Tonight is especially hard because my nephew’s band the Fundamental Elements CD release party is happening as I write.  (I am so excited for him and am so sad that I cannot be there to celebrate such a great moment with him.  I know so much time and sacrifice has gone into this album.) Being responsible and taking care of my body is not always the fun thing.

I am not a big fan of people feeling sorry for themselves…and when I fall into that way of thinking I kinda disgust myself.  In turn, I am a little disgusted with myself right now.  I just feel like I have missed so many things because of illness or recovery from surgery.   My health went seriously downhill early on in my marriage (3 months in) and Jim has had to attend so many events by himself.  He has sacrificed so much.  I know that we are on the upswing, I just grieve it a bit.  I wish I could give him the honeymoon stage of marriage over again.  (Instead of the honeymoon phase, he got the caretaker phase. )  I know that this is the vow you take when you get married, but the reality of that vow came to fruition very early for us. 

I feel so hopeful about my health right now, but sometimes the reality of a disease that currently is incurable is hard.  The future looks so much brighter than it did a month ago, but sometimes you still have to feel it to handle the struggle.  I know that this experience has changed Jim and I.  I know that an amazing bond has been created between us that is so much stronger then I could have foreseen on our wedding day.  I know that God has taught us so much through it all. (No one said refinement was easy!)  I just have to remember there is a lot more “good stuff” to come.

I have been abandoned.  I had one ally in my war against scrapbooks, and all things amazingly cute, crafty and homemade….her name was Kelli.  She has gone to the artsy creative side!  She has become a young, trendy,hip, beautiful, Martha Stewart (She also has much better hair and no prison record.)  She makes scrapbooks, and amazing centerpieces for wedding rehearsal, showers, church parties, etc., and she just made homemade fondant  .  She put together the most adorable invitations for Elle’s (her daughter) first and second birthday.  Check them out on her blog.  She is amazing!  She also is making Elle’s birthday cake from scratch.  It really is wonderful!

Now you must understand, I do not dislike crafty things.  I think they are great.  I am just more or less intimidated by them.  If you remember art class in eelementary school when everyone did their projects and they all looked similar…mine never did. All my sister’s art projects were beautiful, mine not so much.  We made paper mache pigs out of milk jugs.  My sister’s is a perfectly painted pink little pig with a pipecleaner tail, and paper mache ears, mine for some reason is white with pink, brown and black polka dots.  The ears are taped on and the tail is missing…so sad! The year we made clay sculptures…I decided to make a tank (don’t ask!)…I actually won honorable mention in the art show with my beautifully sculpted tank… the thing is that I won because the judges thought is was a hobo hat. 

All this said, I fear the future.  Jim and I hope to have a family and our future children are more likely to have Evites versus invitiations, pictures still on the camera (I always forget to download) rather than scrapbooks, and a stack of twinkies with candles on them rather than homemade cake.  I hope this woman can become crafty or can at least hire Kelli to help me!

This product of the week is not for the lactose intolerant.  Today I pay homage to the pure goodness that is cheese.  Being a ridiculously healthy eater most of my life I convinced myself that I did not like cheese.  I was so wrong.  It is delicious! It is high in protein!  It has so much variety: bland, buttery, rich, creamy, pungent, sharp, salty….I would even say musty and rank.  In turn, it is my product of the week. (I am not advocating the rank types…..but I appreciate the diversity.)

History: The making and eating of cheese dates as far back as 6000 BC.  Cheese was made from cow’s and goat’s milk and stored in jars. Egyptian tomb murals from abou 2000 BC show cheese being made, and other murals which show milk being stored in skin bags suspended from poles.  The nomadic tribes of Central Asia found animal skin bags a useful way to carry milk on animal backs when on the move. Fermentation of the milk sugars would cause the milk to curdle. The swaying motion would break up the curd to provide a refreshing whey drink. The curds would then be removed, drained and lightly salted to provide a tasty and nourishing high protein food, i.e. a welcome supplement to meat protein.

Cheesemaking, thus, gradually evolved from two main streams. The first was the liquid fermented milks such as yogurt, koumiss (I have no idea what that is) and kefir. The second through allowing the milk to acidify to form curds and whey. Whey could then be drained either through perforated earthenware bowls or through woven reed baskets or similar material.

 Cheese is Biblical (Who Knew?):  We learn that when David escaped across the River Jordan he was fed with ‘cheese of kine’ (cows) (2 Samuel 17:29), and it is said that he presented ten cheeses to the captain of the army drawn up to do battle with Saul (1 Samuel 17:18). Indeed, records show that there was at one time a location near Jerusalem called ‘The Valley of the Cheesemakers’. Clearly, skills had been developed to preserve milk either as an acid-curd based cheese or as a range of lactic cheeses, and fermented milks such as today’s unsweetened natural yogurt.  (W. Kandisky, 1998…I thought I should site the source)

Interesting: Gorgonzola was created in 879 A.D., Cheddar was first developed in 1500A.D.

Fun Fact:Cheese conosseurs have a definitive glossary of terms to classify cheese.  One of these classifiers is how barnyardya cheese is.  This is a  descriptive term often used to describe a cheese’s aroma and sometimes its taste as well.  (I now do not suggest either the purely rank or barnyardy cheeses.  Have you ever smelled a barnyard? I don’t think I want my cheese to have that aroma or taste.)

Great Cheesy Recipe:

Ultimate Mac and Cheese

1   (7-ounce) box (2 cups) uncooked dried macaroni
1/4   cup Butter
2   tablespoons all-purpose flour
2   cups Milk
1/2   teaspoon salt
  2 Cups Shredded Cheddar, 4 cups of Gruyere Cheese Shredded
2/ cup dried bread crumbs
2   tablespoons Butter melted
1   tablespoon chopped fresh parsley(Optional: A little garlic powder)

Heat oven to 350°F. Cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain.

Meanwhile, melt 1/4 cup butter in 3-quart saucepan until sizzling; stir in flour. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until smooth and bubbly (1 minute). Add milk and salt. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened (3 to 4 minutes).

Stir in cooked macaroni and cheese. Spoon into ungreased 2-quart casserole.

Stir together all remaining ingredients in small bowl; sprinkle over macaroni and cheese. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until heated through and golden brown.

Hope you enjoyed the brief history of cheese!  It truly is tasty.  (Disclaimer: So I already mentioned I do not advocate rank or barnyardy cheese….I also do not advocate goat cheese or fresh mozzarella.  I know people like them, but I think they are…. rank, barnyardy and purely disgusting.  Did I mention that fresh mozzarella is like eating a dirty sponge?)  So enjoy this delicious dairy snack and be thankful to those nomads and their animal sacks!!!

My Beautiful Body

May 14, 2008

Yesterday I watching CNN and for over ten minutes there was a discussion if/if not Mischa Barton has cellulite.  I guess Star magazine ran some very unflattering photos of the 22 year old actress that her reps say are photo shopped.  The worst part of the whole discussion was if these photos real or not would ruin her career.  First and foremost, I did not know that CNN cared if a semi-star has cellulite, but I have come to find out they do.  (They had a panel discussion on the topic.)  Second, what kind of world do we live in that an actress in one article is accused of having an eating disorder and a few months later they are plastering her picture saying that her thighs are a little to dimply and a little to thick.  Wow!  I wonder why women have so many issues with their bodies.

So…you may be asking what is my point.  I have been totally impacted by the media.  I have fallen prey to what the ideal body shape should be, what the popular culture says is “beautiful”, the concept that you can never be too thin.  I have looked at my thighs more times than not with disdain, disgusted by my “cellulite”.  I no longer accept this!  In the last year and a half the concept of beauty has been redefined for me.  The struggle to find beauty when you have a poo bag and a peek-a-boo intestine is very real, but is an amazing process.  I have also realized that I will not let my weight define me.  (Which has been a lifelong battle)  My character was no less at 140 than it is at 110. (I just have a lot less energy.)   Skinny isn’t as beautiful as healthy! 

This last surgery has left me with even more scars on my abdomen.  In turn, I thought I would never wear a two piece swimsuit again.  Well, that is ridiculous!  I am going to wear a two piece with pride.  I am not going to be self-conscious.  They are not something to hide, they are part of my story.  They are a part of my beautiful body!

 

I have  never longed for a good eight hours of sleep, like I am longing now.  Actually four would be amazing!  Every night since my surgery is the same thing…sleep for an hour or so, awake for an hour or so, sleep an hour or so awake an hour or so, it is somewhat miserable.  I want to dream.  Flying monkeys, talking horses, Abraham Lincoln all the characters of the dream world… bring them on! (I have never dreamed of any of those things, but I am totally willing.)  I want that unconscious kind of sleep that leaves you wondering if a full night could have passed.   

The worst part is these hours are not even useable hours.  My mind isn’t clear, and my body is rejecting consciousness.  Spending time with God, reading a book are pretty much impossible. (I love to read so I try, but I end up reading the same sentences over and over.  Oh…and the prayers.  I think God is questioning if He forgot to give me a brain.)  So I am leftwatching infomercials, SportsCenter over and over or reruns of Designing Women or Leave It To Beaver.  (Oh…Designing Women that Delta Burke she is one funny lady!)   

Here is the bottom line…sleep I miss you!!!!!! 

One of my goals is to see all the ballparks in the United States.  This year is the final year for both Yankee Stadium and Shea stadium.  Such a milestone, must be marked with a trip and two ballgames.  I have found really cheap flights, but am struggling to find affordable, decent hotels in New York City in the summer.  This is not surprising, but I know there must be a way to stay in the New York area without breaking the bank.  Any suggestions?  I pride myself in bargain vacationing without the bargain feel, but this one is tough. 

I do not sleep like normal people.  In turn, I end up watching infomercials.  (I don’t want to turn on the light to read because my goal is to go back to sleep.  I believe that Infomercials should be better than a lullaby.)  Well, two nights ago, I saw a modern miracle.  (This may be a slight exaggeration, but maybe not.)  So much better than the The Firm, more amazing then The Magic Bullet, more detoxifying than the Kinoki Detox Foot Pads…wait for it, wait for it……Tater Mitts.  These are magic gloves that actually peel potatoes with your tater gloved hands.  Peel potatoes, carrots, apples in seconds.  Could this be possible?  I am amazed.  I want them, I want them bad! I want to eat more foods with peels just to use them.  I would wear them all the time, but I think that would be dangerous (I would even buy clothes to match).  I am sure there is a disclaimer on the box such as not meant to exfoliate one’s face, not to be used in any form of massage, not to be worn to protect one’s hands in freezing temperatures, but outside of those these things areyou unbelievable.  The ability to peel safely with Tater Mitts.  Whoever invented these things….I think I love you! 

 

My Mom

May 11, 2008

My Mom and My NieceAs it is almost Mother’s Day, I thought it would be a good time to pay homage to my mother.  Due to the fact that I paid homage to toilet paper earlier in the week, I think this especially important.  (Mom: Please do not take it personally that your blog came second.  I love you just as much as Charmin…actually more and that is saying a lot!)

 

My Mom is very special.  She is extremely loving and truly kind.  She is not only my Mom, but my friend.  She has been through a lot in life and she has allowed tough circumstances to shape her not break her. 

 

My Mom has been amazing while I have been sick.  She has taken off work, drove a ton and lost a lot of sleep, taking care of me.  I know that even though I am an adult, I will always be her little girl. Just like when I was little and she would make me my special “feeling icky” meal (soft boiled eggs and toast)…she was still right there.  If I would have asked her for soft boiled eggs and toast she would have found a way to get it to me.  I am very blessed to have her.  (Thanks Mom!)

 

While I am sharing about her I must mention her knack for the ridiculous, which I inherited.  One of my favorite Mom stores is the day that she locked herself to the house.  I know you are thinking she locked herself out of the house, but no not my Mom.  She locked herself to the house.  She was rushing to work and locked the door behind her, catching her skirt in the door.  This would not seem like a big deal, but her keys were already in the car (warming it up).  She pulled and she tugged, but the skirt would not budge.  Her only choice, slip out of the skirt and run around the house and break in the back door.  Not only is she my Mom, she is also the Cedar Hill streaker.

 

 

Happy Mother’s Day Mom!  Skirt or no skirt…  I love you!

Product of the Week

May 8, 2008

I have decided that for right now I will choose a product of the week to pay homage to.  Not only will I share a brief history of the product, I will also share my suggestions for the best product of its kind.  If you don’t read my blog regularly…I am sure you will now.  How can you resist when there is a product of the week!  Let’s get to it!  With so much of my blog being dedicated to my digestive system I decided that I needed to share some facts about a much used, much under appreciated product….toilet paper. 

The first toilet paper was invented in China in 1391, when The Bureau of Imperial Supplies began producing sheets of toilet paper measuring 2 feet by 3 feet, for use by the Emperors.  It is reported they produced about 720,000 sheets of toilet paper a year.

America saw its first commercially-produced toilet paper in 1857 when the New York-based Gavetty Firm began selling “The Therapeutic Paper” in packs of 500 sheets for 50 cents. The sheets were monogrammed with Gravetty’s name.  The rolled and perforated toilet paper that we are familiar with was invented in the late 1870’s. The Albany Perforated Wrapping Paper Company developed a perforated, medicated rolled toilet paper in 1877 that was marketed to the general public. This began the never-ending debate as to whether toilet paper should roll off the top of the roll or the bottom. 

Prior to its common usage, Americans used leaves, torn up newspaper and corncobs – yes corncobs – to take care of business.  Thank goodness for modern toilet tissue! 

Fun facts: One 1935 ad for Northern Tissue boasted that their toilet paper was splinter free; let’s all be grateful for quilted, scented, lotioned toilet paper today.  (Splinter free is just a given!)

Sheryl Crowe has commented multiple times about people limiting themselves to one sheet.  I seriously doubt she uses only one sheet.  Being green can go to far!

Product Suggestion:  My suggestion is (drum roll please) Charmin Ultra Premium Bath Tissue.  I suggest the Ultra Soft versus the Ultra Strong.  It is the only tissue allowed in my house.