Saturday, October 18, 2014

An End and a Beginning...

My brother did not recover.  His last days were difficult for him and for the family.   He appreciated being in his own home.  Hospice is a valuable service.  Family members were able to surround him as he quietly slipped away.  It was so hard to watch my beautiful little brother but so sweet to hold his hand and feel his love.  He did not speak for a day or two before he passed the veil but he understood and his eyes spoke volumes of love.

Now it is time to move forward, letting grief soften.  Knowing all my brothers, and our parents,  will be waiting to welcome me home to heaven some day is a very sweet hope.

A friend contributed the cherry lumber and several friends and family members made this gorgeous casket for Billy.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Preparing for Death...

This time let us talk about death as it relates to real people, people that you dearly love.

My baby brother turned 55 years old in March.  The next day he was in the emergency room and then the hospital for two weeks where they discovered he was afflicted with a glioblastoma.  Much of it was removed but not all. 

After weeks of radiation and chemotherapy he had another MRI test which the medical personnel compared with the first MRI test.  The tumor had gone from 3 inches across to less than the size of his little fingernail.  He had always been very optimistic during all the hospital days of waiting for surgery and recovering from surgery.  This news was very good.

Fast forward to this week in July.  He had terrible headaches for three days and finally went to the emergency room again.  After two days of testing they discovered the glio cells had moved to his spine.  Medical personnel say he has no chance at all of recovery and that he may have a few weeks or perhaps months but there is no chance.

How do you prepare to say goodbye to one you have loved for 55 years?  How do you support his wife and children?  What can you do at all to help?  Can you keep on doing the regular activities of daily life?  Will trying to be normal help?

I don't know. 

I do know that I shall continue spending time with him.  I will spend time praying.  I will try not to cry.  At least not in his presence.  Probably a vain hope...

I love you little brother.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Food Today: Berry Parfaits

Yesterday was the birthday of Child #5.  Life got in the way and there was no birthday cake. It turns out Child #5 does not likes sweets very much so the missing cake was no problem.  In fact,  Child #5 was missing, too!  Other fish to fry. I made a new thing:  Berry Parfaits.  They look sort of nice, at least they looked nice in the recipe advertising photography.  Mine are significantly less attractive.

This is how you make them:

Soften 8 ounces cream cheese.  Thaw one 8 ounce carton of Cool Whip (though I believe real whipped cream would be better.) 

In a mixer bowl with the whisk attachment on your mixer, thoroughly cream the cream cheese until light.  Gradually add in 1 1/2 cups of cold milk.  When that is smooth, and it will take a LONG time to smoothen out, pour in a 3-4 ounce package of instant vanilla pudding and continue beating until thickened.  Fold in one cup of the thawed Cool Whip.

In the meantime, coarsely chop 24 vanilla wafers, and assemble your favorite berries. I used blueberries and raspberries since it is the season for those delicious summer fruits.  I have seen peaches, nectarines, mangoes, and other sliced fruits.  We just missed strawberry season or I would have used some of them, too.

In nice parfait glasses, layer the fluffy pudding with the cookie crumbs and fruits to make it as pretty as you want.  This is supposed to make 8 parfait glasses.  We do not have parfait glasses so I used our 16-ounce tumblers.  This filled 3 of them.  Way too full.

 I was tempted to use our 8-ounce glasses but did not in the interests of just getting the job done.  Probably that was a bad idea.  I know that I cannot possibly eat that much.  Maybe Dear One will eat my leftovers....

Monday, July 21, 2014

Knitting Today: Three Scarves, Two Done One On The Needles!

When Dear One and I were at Michaels on a day when I was in need of some size 10 1/2 bamboo needles, I came across a sale bin of yarn.  I simply CANNOT resist looking at sale bins of yarn, even though I have no need of even one more centimeter of yarn.  On this day there were three skeins of some odd-looking, but ever so soft pompom sort of yarn.

Since they were on a VERY GOOD sale, I did not resist the urge to purchase them.  Since a little granddaughter is coming to visit I thought these would make a nice scarf for her.  Well, three nice scarves, SO the granddaughter who is coming to visit and her sister who is staying home, and the local granddaughter will receive these soft pouffy-looking scarves soon.  I will have to think of some other scarves to make for the remaining granddaughters, I think!

Here they are:

I hope they appeal to the recipients!

 Two of the balls had plain white bands of paper wrapped around them in the sale bin.  The ball band which actually came with the other skein of yarn was tossed before I thought of writing this post so I do not really know the yarn brand.

UPDATE:  It turns out that the yarn was Red Heart Pomp-a-Doodle but it seems to have been discontinued...which would explain the sale bin yarn!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Gardening Today: Garlic Update!

The garlic we planted back in October is coming along beautifully!  It is so exciting to watch it grow. I am getting edgy to yank it (gently, of course!) out of the ground and give a taste.

Here is a photo from last week:

Notice how the garlic scapes have come up with a lovely hook?  The blossoms still are inside.  At least, in my ignorance, I think there are blossoms in that kind of triangular bump towards the top of the scape.

Now we have a picture of the garlic THIS week!  Notice we are moving ever closer to harvest.  (I understand that when the scapes stand straight up then it is time to harvest, though son 3 mentioned we need to see the bottom five leaves turn brown.  You can see that is beginning to happen....)

It will be wonderful to see blossoms on the tops of those stems.

In other gardening news, the sugar snap peas that survived the woodchuck have about 10 pods coming along.  These are our first ever sugar snap peas.

Our zucchini plant has some itty bitty zukes which I am trying to look at but not touch!  I would love them to get up to 5 or 6 inches before I harvest.

We have a volunteer from last year's garden which I think is cilantro, but am not sure.  Can anyone out there recognize it?  Thanks!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Food Today: Fermented Vegetables/Easy Sauercraut

Recently we were at the temple.  In the middle of the afternoon I had the opportunity to go to the lunchroom to eat my boring lunch.  I was blessed to sit with Sister Miller and others.  The conversation came to fermented vegetables.  Sister Miller told us all how to do it.  I decided I would give it a try so when we got home I purchased a cabbage as we did not have one in the house.

A week and a half ago I went to North Carolina for a week to stay with my sister for a wedding in her family.  I knew it would take about two weeks for the vegetables to ferment so I decided to make some vegetable mixture up quick like a bunny so they would "work" while I was gone...making the waiting easier to handle

So...before I left on the Friday before, I used my Cuisinart food processor and chopped up cabbage (half a cabbage), some carrots and some celery. I mixed it with enough salt to please my tongue and then put it into a 2-quart canning jar.  I had squeezed the vegetables pretty hard with my hands so the juice would begin to extrude, a very important step in the process.  When I had done as much as I could and put the vegetables in the 2-quart canning jar, the juice was more than halfway up the jar.

Fermenting vegetables!  They need the dark and room temperature.

On top of the vegetables I placed two or three of the outer tougher cabbage leaves to be a sort of cover for the vegetables and pushed the leaves down hard to be in contact with the chopped and salted vegetables.  I  then filled the jar to the top with plain water, which covered the outer cabbage leaves.

If I had been home I would have checked every few days to see if I needed to top of the liquid with plain water.  Dear One was not very committed to this project due to his rather mild interest in vegetables so I did not ask him to check while I was away!

 Next I covered the top of the jar with a towel which I secured with a rubber band. I put a dark towel around the bottom of the jar and secured that with another rubber band,  then walked away and let it sit for 14 days on the kitchen counter.

When I got home I saw that the liquid level was down a little bit so I added water and let it continue percolating until it was the full 14 days. I could not wait any longer!

Cabbage leaf cover still in place

Covering cabbage leaves removed

I have just now eaten a whole wheat tortilla with some lettuce from our garden, a little bit of tuna and mayonnaise, some of the percolated vegetables with sliced Vidalia onions on top.  It made a superior sandwich. 

Tortilla sandwich loaded and ready to wrap.  And eat!

First use of fermented vegetables...the eating was ever so delicious1

Now I have put the actual cover on the jar and am storing it in the refrigerator.  I will be able to eat it whenever I want.  It is sort of like a mild sauercraut. I believe I could eat it plain  as a side dish or on top of all kinds of things, like a baked potato, scrambled eggs, a Reuben sandwich, almost any savory thing.

Friday, July 11, 2014

A Death in the House...

When one goes away from home for more than a day or two, things can happen.  In this case, there was a death in the house.

Some years ago I learned that after using green onions I could put the root end into a cup of water.  Within a very little while new shoots would appear.  I love having these fresh greens on my shelf to go in scrambled eggs, salads, sandwich fillings, soups, you name it, I like them. 

On this recent trip away from home I left two cups of scallions growing.  When I arrived home, this is what I found:

Of course, this could have been avoided if I had "filled" the cups with water before leaving....It is no huge loss.  I can handle this kind of death in the house.

New scallions are easy to find, and in the meantime I have some lovely chives growing in the garden, and five more garlic scapes I can use.