Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Being Bradys

A typical nighttime look for a
mother of six, only if she doesn't
work and has a maid.
My little  joke that I keep from my husband is how I can't be Carol Brady and Alice.  You know, if Carol had to clean the house and feed the kids and launder eight of everything everyday, then those scandalous scenes where Mrs. Brady wore her fluffy nightie in the shared marital bed will not be possible.  Her bouffant would never have existed, and her patience with Cindy using the word "stinker" would have been seriously dimished if she was lugging groceries and washing dishes, I am sure.

I just know this woman does NOT
have a problem with the cake I made
for her!
I now realize that I am Mike Brady, as well, because I'm the one out there making a living.  That Hawaiian vacation isn't going to pay for itself!  And, since I don't have three girls and three boys, I have to entertain and supervise my little one a la Marcia and Greg.  So, I guess what I am saying is that I am the entire Brady Bunch, minus the X factor and the young, thin, sexually budding bodies.  My problems don't resolve themselves in 30 minutes, though.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

My Own Wet Burrito

One of the reasons I love New York City is the cheap, delicious, exotic eats.  Almost anything you can imagine, you can get, and as authentic as if you were on a culinary tour of the world.  Everything, it seems, except a specialty of Grand Rapids, Michigan, where I spent my teens and twenties, called a wet burrito.  I make a point of getting one every time I visit, but this year I didn't make it.  So, I prepared some at home.  It takes a bit of work, but you could cut down on the time commitment by buying canned beans, enchilada sauce and taco seasoning.  But, I had as much fun making these as I did eating them.  Here's what I did.
  • Grand Rapids, eat your heart out!
    half a medium onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, pressed
  • ground meat (I used turkey)
  • pink beans (one can or a half a bag dried) 
  • one can tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 cup stock or gravy (I used leftover cooking water from black eyed peas)
  • 5-6 oz shredded cheddar cheese
  • tortillas
  • 2-3 chopped tomatoes
  • a half a head lettuce, shredded
  • sour cream
Start the beans cooking if you're using dried. Cook the onions and garlic in a pan until transluscent.  Open a can of tomato sauce and pour into a pan, add the stock or gravy, cumin and chili powder.  Add half of the onion and garlic mixture and cook down to around half.  When it's cooked down, blend in the blender.

When your beans are cooked, put them into the blender with some cooking water and the remaining onion and garlic mixture and blend to a paste.  You can refry these if you want to be authentic, but I cannot tell the difference.  Add the tomatoes and half the shredded cheese.

In the pan in which you cooked the onions, cook the meat until browned and drain the grease.  Warm up your tortillas, then assemble them with the browned meat, the bean, tomato and cheese mixture, and some shredded lettuce.  Top them with the tomato sauce and the remaining cheese.  Warm to melt the cheese, top with sour cream, and enjoy!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Christmas in July

I completed my Christmas in July swap with Rosa Maria in Spain.  Thank you, Mini Jazzi, for setting this up!  It was my first swap, and I did it like a total beginner.  My first mistake was not taking a picture of the items I sent.  The second mistake was making big things.  I made a pipe cleaner Christmas tree, a Celtic knot rug and a lounge chair from coffee stirrers (picture not available).  So, the items suffered from a lack of a theme.  Everyone else made such delicate little things.  And third, I didn't wrap the items nor put in a card.  Well, now I know how to do this, and next time I will do it more properly.  Sorry, Rosa!

The contents were even more amazing!!!
I receive my items, and honestly, the packaging was so well done that I thought Rosa had made me little Christmas presents to put under the mini tree.  But, when I squeezed the packages, it felt as if there were things inside.  Wow!  Look at the loot!

They were packaged so nicely
I thought the gifts were the

She made me a bulletin board decorated with tiny Christmas cards and holly sprays, the most amazing doily ever, a bead wreath, and my personal favorite, flowers!!  I am in awe.  This was so fun, and now I have a new friend in Spain.  I hope she likes my presents, and she is understanding that she was paired with a total newbie.  Merry Christmas, everyone.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

My Cancer Story

Last school year was the year of cancer.  I had my annual birthday mammo and PAP smear, because what better way to celebrate one more year than getting a flattened boob and the "slight discomfort" in that other female area?  Well, this year, things went a bit different when my gynocologist left a message on my cellphone on the Friday before the three-day weekend of Labor Day.  After a tense weekend, and another tense week where I left many unreturned messages to his office, he explained that I had abnormal cells.  Not to worry, however, because it is so common and he would simply remove the abnormal cells with a LEP procedure.  A LEP, in my layman's terms, is like a melon baller that scoops out the bad cells.  When I went in for my LEP, the doctor didn't do it, saying that it wasn't a candidate for this procedure.  I needed a biopsy.  The abnormal cells were precancerous.  Okay...

I had a biopsy on a Wednesday in mid-October.  I had told my assistant principal that I would be back in on Friday, but something told me that morning to stay home one more day.  And then the doctor called, asking me to come in because he had forgotten some post-operative instructions.  Uh-huh.  I was extremely doubtful of his pretense, and of course, my instincts were right.  I didn't have to suffer the typical hour-long wait; I was seen immediately.  Double uh-oh.  He told me I had cancer.  I remember writing this down on my notepad: "I have cancer", as if I might forget this nugget of information.  He then took out a medical diagram of the cross-section of the female reproductive system.  You think you understand everything down there, but once a doctor says the word "cancer", nothing makes sense anymore.  I couldn't locate the cervix on the drawing, nor remember what the purpose of it was, other than it dilates during birth.  I couldn't understand why the cells that were precancerous after the PAP had suddenly become very-much-so-cancer.  My husband accompanied me the next day to get the important information.  I needed a radical hysterectomy. 

That weekend, I googled cancer and learned about stages, and scary things like survival rates.  It was frightening.  My mother told me that I wanted a laproscopic procedure, because the healing time was reduced.  My onocologist (saying that was new) said I had stage IB cancer.  That was good news.  And I would need a laproscopic radical hysterectomy.  To quote my sister, a hysterectomy was okay because "that thing's been nothing but trouble".  I needed to get a PET scan, to determine if the cancer had reached my nodes.  The PET scan was an absolute delight!  Yes, it involved not eating for a day, and being pricked many times to find my vein, and drinking vile radioactive iodine water, but I was put in a room with a reclining chair, a blanket, and a television, ALONE.  I felt like I was at a spa.  The PET scan came back "pristine", meaning that the tumor they removed during the biopsy probably was all that was necessary to treat the cancer, but the doctors were still concerned that it may be in the nodes microscopically.

So, the hysterectomy was on.  Since I had a stroke four years prior, I needed clearance from my PCP and neurologist.  The neurologist sent me to his Doppler tech, who detected a heart murmer, so I needed to visit a cardiologist.  Finally, it was the day, my mother was here from Michigan, I had taken my meds and prepped my colon, out the door at 4:30 am, and they discovered a UTI.  It was a no-go.  Another round of clearances, and finally, a week before Christmas, my surgery went off without a hitch.  And, on New Year's eve, my onocologist told me that the lab did not find any cancer in the nodes, and I was cancer free.

Lovenox, nurses visits, having to get help to get out of bed; it was just a bit too reminiscent of my last convalesence.  Foley bags were new, though.  But, on the plus side, I did get to drop off and pick up my daughter from school, and in doing so, I met a great many of her classmates's parents.  We even found a Daisy troop!  All in all, if it wasn't for the burden of fearing imminent death, cancer was relatively easy.  I realize this is not the case for everyone, but the recovery, and again I'm speaking for me only, was far easier than for my stroke. 

So now I'd like to formally go on the record that I no longer want to try everything once.  Some things I do not need to experience include:

  • cardiac arrest
  • hostage situation
  • scrapnel wounds
  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • plane crashes
  • flesh eating disease
  • pulverized bones
  • gunshots
  • nail gun through brain
  • whatever is happening in this picture

This list is not comprehensive, of course.  I just needed to put that out there.


My tech skills are rusty.  There is no debating that.  I only just restored my phone from the unneccessary factory reset I did over a month ago.  I  worked out the admin password for my laptop this week in order to load software.  And I brought my scanner back to life.  These processes took half of my summer vacation. 

So, my ancient hardware is puttering along again, so that it all may slowly break down in the course of the school year, so that I can repeat this annually.  After I "recalled" the laptop password (and, "recalled" is in quotes, because I did remember it, but it had been entered with the caps lock on), I installed my photo editor program, and finally cleaned up my website header.  I also had to figure out what was making the image lead with white, requiring me to thread through Style Sheets, which I only understand a fractional speck of a smattering.  So, it wasn't easy.  But, I think it finally looks decent.
pretty bad

an improvement

that took forever!

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