Saturday, June 30, 2012

Promoting Understanding of Chronic Illnesses


Source
There are millions of visible and invisible illnesses out there. There are even ones that medical science hasn't even named and which they are totally baffled by. I should know it took years for them to diagnose me. 

My symptoms reared their ugly heads when I was a teen and then went into remission. Periodically they would pop up and then go away. In October of 2006, they came to stay. However, I wasn't until 2012 that I was finally diagnosed with Mixed Connective Tissue Disorder. Mixed Connective Tissue  Disorder has overlapping features of Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Sj√∂gren's, Polymyositis, and/or Scleroderma. 

Over the years, I've been told that I have been faking my disease by some people. I've also been told it is all in my head (yup, that's where Chronic Migraine's resided). I have been told by a dear friend, "I don't think you want to be well". Still others have told me that I don't have enough faith. Still others want to lay hands on me to be "HEALED". And when I wasn't, it was because my faith wasn't strong enough. Doctors have argued in my presence as to which of a variety of diseases I have and then because I was an RN have them say, ""which one of these do you think you it is" I must seriously consider never going to that ER again)? 

Yet at at some point or other for whatever reason, somehow someway the person with disease (me) is found defective, guilty, and/or lacking in some way because the medication/treatment isn't working and according to the assumptions of friends and family members you should be well. These statements, although said with the best of intentions and are made in order to motivate us to health, are hurtful. Until now I hadn't found a good way to explain chronic exhausting long term pain to them.  That was until I came upon a video which explains Lupus and other chronic illnesses through the story of Spoon Theory. I hope it touches your heart and the hearts of your loved ones as it did mine. 




Character picture and video are provided by Christine Miserandino. The video is available in this format on youtube and a slightly differnent format on the website butyoudontlooksick.com


Friday, June 29, 2012

Chronic Migraine Awareness


,




June is Chronic Migraine Awareness month. In case you don't know what a Chronic Migraine (CM) is a CM is defined by the National Institute of Health as: CM as headache on 15 or more days per month for 3 or more months, of which 8 or more days meet criteria for migraine without aura and/or respond to migraine-specific treatment, occurring in a patient with a lifetime history of at least five prior migraine attacks not attributed to another causative disorder and no medication overuse.  


I just found out that a group of bloggers were writing a daily post dealing with migraines every day during the month of June, as June is National Migraine Awareness Month. Each day the bloggers were given a different assignment. Although I obviously can't participate at this late date, I did like the one assignment which suggested you pick a theme song for your migraine or your headache disorder. I picked "Survivor", by Mary Mary.


I enjoy the message of the song. When I listen to it, I think of how I am surviving not only Chronic Migraine but my other illnesses and struggles as well. But the song doesn't leave you in the victim mode.  It proclaims you are a survivor. It uplifts you and renews your faith that even though you may need to fight on you are still a survivor. I hope you enjoy the song as much as I do. 




"Survive"
                                                                                              by Mary Mary

Any day now, it's what I kept telling myself
On the last mile, on the road to somewhere
But along the way I (got stopped by)
All the wind and the rain and
To my surprise
And it shook my heart
Blew my mind
I've had to cry so many nights
I've had to hold on for my life
But all I can say now is that I survived

[Chorus:]
I survived, I survived, I survived
I survived, I survived, I survived
Oh, Lord I had a lot on me 
Truth be told, it almost broke me
But I'm so glad
I survived, I survived, I survived now

Now hurt and pain were sometimes my company
Separated from those, then I suppose 
I didn't have no guarantees
But one thing, I knew for sure was
I've had my share of ups and downs
I made it even though
Oh, it shook my heart
Blew my mind
I've had to cry so many nights
I've had to hold on for my life
But all I can say now is that I survived

[Chorus:]
I survived, I survived, I survived
I survived, I survived, I survived
Oh, Lord I had a lot on me 
Truth be told, it almost broke me
But I'm so glad
I survived, I survived, I survived now

I know you heard this message before
I wanna tell you once more
It's alright
I know the road your on might seem long
But I encourage you to hold on, hold on
You will survive

I do believe you will
But all I can say now is that I survived

[Chorus:]
I survived, I survived, I survived
I survived, I survived, I survived
Oh, Lord I had a lot on me 
Truth be told, it almost broke me
But I'm so glad
I survived, I survived, I survived now

When the weight of the world's
All on your shoulder
Just remember, remember, remember
To keep your head up and survive

Oh, Lord I had a lot on me 
Truth be told, it almost broke me
But I'm so glad
I survived, I survived, I survived now

[Chorus:]
I survived, I survived, I survived
I survived, I survived, I survived
Oh, Lord I had a lot on me 
Truth be told, it almost broke me
But I'm so glad
I survived, I survived, I survived now

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Feeling Broken

I've often felt broken and beyond repair. At those times, I tend to pull into myself and away from people. The sad thing about this response is that this is exactly when I should be seeking out people. The other thing is although I've felt broken and beyond repair that isn't truth. None of us are beyond repair. Although I wear the scars, the scars are signs of healing. I won't be the same as I was before the injury, but there are those who can help me when I'm feeling broken by life and/or illness.


The truth is it isn't just the chronically ill, those that have been sexually abuse, or  those that have been __________ (you fill in the blank). Everyone has felt broken at one time or other. “Broken” comes in all shapes and sizes. When you feel off, no matter how profound or slight, the only thing you can seem to focus on is the flaws.


Heck, the world is broken ...just look at the pollution, global warming... The truth is there is only so much healing this side of heaven. But while we are in living on this broken planet, we have been given helps to mend our brokenness. Sometimes it is medicine, sometimes it is a friend, and sometimes it is the Spirit of God that lets you know in some manner He didn't leave you or forsake you. 


Be gentle with yourself when you are feeling broken. Talk with someone about how you are feeling. If you can speak with them face to face; if not, call or text a friend, family member, or therapist. It is ok to ask for some support when you need it.













Monday, June 25, 2012

Just Hang It Up

PSA photo of WUSA9 billboard

If you thought this post was going to be about texting or cell phone use while driving, let me assure you isn't. Neither of those is the best of ideas, but that isn't the issue. Hanging up the phone and setting appropriate boundaries is the topic.


First off, you have to understand my mother. Well, I don't think anyone can; see that's the first problem... Just joking...Anyway, my parent's divorced when I was  just a kid. That was over 40 years ago. My mom has never gotten over the divorce. My dad left her for "the other woman". She continues to think that as long as you have a husband in your life, your life is prefect and any problem you have can be conquered. 


Sometimes, when I am very upset I've made the mistake of sharing an issue with my mom.
When I do this the following things frequently occur. The first is that somehow, someway the conversation will turn from being about your pressing issue to mom's divorce.The other thing that happens is that she must have the last word on any topic. 



This one time I talked to her about something that happened with my dad (I know, not my most brilliant move). A week later she called and tried to bring the subject up again. I told her that I worked through the issue and I didn't want to hear anything more on the subject. She told me she only wanted to tell me one more thing. I reiterated, "It has taken me all week to get to a good place with this issue. I can't afford to go there again. I'm not going to listen to any more discussion on it". Again I heard the, "But I only want to tell you one more..."I interrupted and said, "No, mother I'm not going to discuss it". The conversation went back and forth and voices got raised; then, finally I hung up. I knew she would call back. Therefore, I turned off the phone and walked outside to sit in my peaceful garden with a glass of non-alcoholic wine in my hand (darn those pesky meds that don't mix with wine). 


Line in the sand
Now I've hung up the phone on rude telephone sales people before so I'm not a complete doormat; but I have never hung up the phone on my mother. In one way, it felt so empowering to take back control of the conversation. She had overstepped my boundaries and I had drawn a line in the sand. On the other hand, I felt like a little kid who deserved to be punished for hanging up the phone. I hadn't wanted to think at all about what my dad had done; now it was in the forefront of my mind.  Now it was all I could think about plus I was now having issues with both parents.  


Later I turned back on my phone and started to get messages off via the speaker phone and then I sat down. After hearing the first few messages, I heard my mom's voice. Mom had tried to get the last word in; this time via a message. She left a message on my phone letting me know I hurt her feelings and she only want to tell me...To this day I have no idea what she wanted to tell me because at the sound of her voice on my messages I walked back to the phone and erased the message. I meant what I said. I didn't want to hear anything more about the issue with my father. 


Shortly after my phone encounter I talked with my best friend. She told me she used to hang up on her mother all the time. Gee, was I the only one not doing this? Had I missed this valuable lesson in school. Is it really ok to do this. What about honoring your mother and your father? This value was drilled into my skull as a child. I was still upset with the issue when I saw my therapist at my regular appointment time. We discussed setting boundaries. Did you know it is really ok to hang up on people? It is ok to tell people "No" and walk away. It is ok to say "No" if you don't want to do something and you don't need to give a reason. "NO", is a complete sentence!


Boundaries are difficult for those who have had their boundaries violated so many times whether by incest, rape, domestic violence, or bullying. It makes setting these boundaries feel wrong and at times we can feel small and helpless like we did when we were young and did have a choice. Then we didn't have the resources we have as an adults to set appropriate boundaries. However, now that we are an adults we can set these boundaries and expect them to be kept. If those boundaries aren't respected, those that violate them can expect things to happen like having phones hung up on them or being shown the door and asked to leave. We can also call the police if needed. Today we have choices. We finally have choices. We need to set appropriate boundaries with ourselves so we can be free to truly live our life, not the life someone has tried to prescribed for us.







Saturday, June 23, 2012

Speak Up, Be Heard

Surprise, politicians do read their mail; and, care what people have to say. I wrote to Senator Mike Brubaker, on the PA budget committee, concerning the upcoming budget proposal. In the proposed budget, monies for the elderly, poor, disabled and mental health/mental retardation (MH/MR) were slated to be cut. 

In my letter to my PA state senator, I let him know how I've seen the proposed types of cuts affect patients I have cared for over the year. I told him of actual cases (w/out names, of course). I let him know how closing the state hospitals had caused ripple effects such as causing homelessness and increased health care costs...I made the connections for him between not being able to afford medications or preventative care can increased medical costs for the tax payer in the end. Then I told him about myself and my experience with medications. I told him that when my my husband was out of work, there were medications I couldn't afford. It was either eat or put up with the pain and hardly be able to walk, or take the medication. I told him that I have seen the issue from the side of a health care provider and that as a recipient. I told him if I had to rely on my social security check alone, it wouldn't even cover my medications and my doctor visits per month. There would be no money for housing or food. I told him that it seemed to me that politicians seem to take money from those that don't have a voice to speak out for themselves. I may not be able to work, but I still have a voice. I stated perhaps cuts should should come from perks like the cars or the limos government employees use, etc... That was about six weeks ago.  

I almost dropped my cell -phone into my ice tea when I was called by the Senator's office, earlier this week. Apparently my letter had been very helpful to the Senator Brubaker. I was told letters that give examples help government officials so much more than just signatures on a page or a form that is filled out. Letters put a face on the problem; it makes making the budget more about people than a numbers crunching game.  

I was given an update on the new proposed budget. Monies for those that can't speak for themselves have been put back into the budget. This new budget has passed the House; now it is up for a vote in the Senate.

Speak Up, Be Heard

*both pictures are in the public domain

Friday, June 22, 2012

Migraines or They Shoot Horses, Don't They?

Public Domain Photo

For my sixteenth birthday, my dad took me to the racetrack. I was shown the horse that he and a friend owned. The race was explained to me. Unfortunately I also learned that when I horse was hurt and was in a great deal of pain, instead of medication or operation and rehabilitation, the horse was shot and killed. The killing was considered a mercy killing. So the answer to the question is, "they shoot horses, don't they?', is yes.


I don't think that there is one person on earth that has endured chronic pain, a chronic debilitating illness, that hasn't wished that someone wouldn't just metaphorically, "take them out and shoot them". 

"The nationwide study of 1,007 migraine sufferers was conducted by The Gallup Organization for Cerenex Pharmaceuticals. It found that the pain of migraine is so excruciating that 35% of sufferers indicate that they have wished they were dead during an attack". 

This contemplation of death is not evidence of a lack of faith, or a lack in willingness to be "healed"; it is the state of the human condition when face with overwhelming pain. It isn't really a death wish. Be it medical or physical pain, we just wanting the pain to stop.


My therapist told my a story about his mother. Both of his parents were missionaries and had to go out on visitation on a day his mom had a migraine. The day was bright, sunny, hot, and the road dusty. As they drove over the rough and dusty road, they past a cemetery. His mother was in a lot of pain and nauseated; she indicated the cemetery and said, "I'd rather be in there". She was implying it would be better that she were dead then go on living.


I'm lucky. I have an excellent therapist. I have been going to him for sometime. He has a good understanding of what chronic illness does to you and how it impacts you life. The follow is a quote from the Facebook page for Chronic Migraine Awareness. Other the part about migraines, the quote could apply to any chronic disease:


along with migraines most of us carry around a great amount of guilt of failure.....we feel it from letting down our families, friends and coworkers......we have lost our jobs and relationships because of pain due to our migraines ....

Severe migraine attacks are classified by the World Health Organisation as among the most disabling illnesses, comparable to dementia, quadriplegia and active psychosis (Shapiro & Goadsby, Cephalalgia, September 2007)...this is not just a headache



To many people think that those with a chronic illness should be able to just suck it up and go on with life as usual.  This is the "invisible illness" trap. If they can't see it, touch it, or measure the direct result of it, many in your life think you are malingering. You need all the help in your corner you can get to face your disease and to try to keep some semblance of a positive attitude. 


If you haven't found someone in your life that understands how your disease impacts your life, I suggest you find a therapist. t is important to find someone in your life that "that really gets it". The are knowledgeable about resources in your area that are available to help you. Mine helped me through the process of applying for Social Security Disability. And he has helped me to accept my diseases. Asking for help isn't a sign of weakness but rather a sign of strength. If you need help, choose to reach out. There is plenty of help out there.








Photo of hands from the Online Homeopathy and Psychological Consultation Center
*http://homeoall.com/individual-personal-psychological-counselling/

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Rainy Days and Mondays & White Chicken Chili



Women on a wet rainy day


 Monday was cold, wet, and rainy for a summer day. It was the type of day the makes you not want to get up and get work done. When it is wet and/or cold and you have chronic pain every thing hurts. I had had a migraine over the weekend in addition to my chronic pain. With the weather change, I've learned the hard way what happens when I push myself. When I try push through, my body pushes back; one way or the other, I land flat on my back. I've learned the hard way to respect my limits.


On my good day, I go into into prep for the bad days. I need to prepare for the future, for survival mode. When I have my good days  it helps me to have meals that are partially or fully cooked in my freezer. Sometimes when I cook, I double the recipe and put 1/2 of what I made in the freezer for a "rainy day". On days when I have more energy than usual, I will pre-cook and dice/shred chicken, pork or beef so it ready for future meals. I will precooked diced vegetables such as onions, celery, peppers and carrots and freeze in 1/2 cup amounts. When making soup or most casseroles, recipes can be adjusted. Recipes for these items can be used more as a guide than an exact science. 


Below is my White Chicken Chili Recipe. You can puree it or leave it chunky, cook it long and slow or make it quickly. Have fun and experiment and maybe your rainy day or Monday won't be so bad after all.


White Chicken Chili

2 chopped diced boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 cans white cannellini beans
1 32 oz chicken stock
3 chipotle chili peppers in adobe sauce
2 baked potatoes chopped (You can quickly do these in the microwave)
1 vidalia onion
1 finely chopped carrot
1 finely chopped celery stalk
1 finely chopped zucchini (make certain to remove the seeds)
1 finely chopped red pepper
4 cloves of garlic finely chopped
3 T olive oil
1/4 t black pepper
1/2 t white pepper
1 t red pepper flakes
1 t oregano
2 t cumin
2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese
1 bag tortilla chips (optional)
1 cup sour cream (optional)

Heat skillet and pour in olive oil. Saute all vegetables but the chipotle chili peppers in skillet until very soft. Remove from heat. Mix together all the ingredients but cheese, chips, and sour cream in a large sauce pan. Use an immersible blender or food processor and blenderize all  ingredients until they are smooth (it can be left chunky if you prefer). Heat soup mixture until thick and bubbly. Place a handful of cheese in the bottom of each soup bowl. Ladle hot soup over cheese. Top soup with dollop of sour cream if desired and serve with chips.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

It is ok to Feel What You Feel


On the Facebook page for Chronic Migraine and they had a post which basically stated that you have permission to feel what you feel. This holds true for migraine or any illness. The writing resonated with me but needed some adjustment. I modified it and have placed it below.



You have permission to feel what you feel.
You do not have to apologize for being sick.
You don't have to say you are sorry for breathing.
Why should you say that; you are sick and you feel ill.
Being ill was not your choice;
but...
You don't want to let down family and friends...
You don't want to miss out on events and activities...
You don't want to put your life on hold...
If only,
the disease which you have was recognized for what it is; 
then you wouldn't have the guilt that accompanies it.
Denying pain or how you feel just adds to misery.
You no longer need to hide what you feel...
It is safe to feel what you feel when you feel it.
It is safe to feel and be who you are, 
all that you are 
right 
Now!



Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Inspiration For When Health Issues Get You Down

Joni's First Kayak Ride

For those who may not remember, Joni Eareckson became a quadriplegic in 1967 from a diving accident. She was a teenager at the time. She spent two years in rehab. During this time she mourned the life as it was and accepted life how it was. She wrote an autobiography which detailed her journey through rehab, her anger at what happened to her, her depression, and her doubts in her faith. Later she learned to paint with her teeth, sold musical albums, and starred in a feature film about her life. She married in 1982 and survived breast cancer. Joni survived what life threw at her. Joni did't let her disability define her. She continues to go for it.

Today, was a difficult day for me. I got my methotrexate shot. I was dizzy and had a headache (not a migraine) after the shot. I managed to get to my next doctor's appointment (thank heaven for a daughter that drives). After the appointment, we stopped at the hospital to see a family friend who has a disabling disease. I tried to smile and nod during the visit. My daughter didn't notice the look that passed between the one we were visiting and me. She understood how bad I was feeling. No words were said but she knew. Later, my daughter saw how close I was to passing out and went home. I spent the afternoon in bed. 

My day wasn't the best, however, I refuse to let disability define me. When I am having a bad day, I think of others like Joni Eareckson Tada and her joy in living. Here is what she had to say about her recent kayaking trip with her husband Ken. 

"Family Retreats are always filled with “firsts” for kids or adults with disabilities, as well as parents. And sometimes even Ken and I experience a wonderful “first.” Yesterday they got me into a two-seater kayak and Ken and I had the BEST time. He paddled me out onto the pristine lake amidst the cool and quiet – all I could hear was the lapping of his oars. We drifted in the middle of the lake, overwhelmed and awestruck at God's generosity… at this sweet gift. We always come to Family Retreat praying we will be able to bless others..."



*Pictures and quotes from
http://www.joniandfriends.org/blog/kayaking-first/

Friday, June 15, 2012

Water Walking: Making Joints Feel Better

Lititz Springs Pool Unknown Swimmer



I'm currently in the midst of the save the knee campaign. I've been the midst of this campaign for years, ever since I was slam dunked by a vicious ocean wave and tumbled upon the shore. CURSE THAT WAVE. Anyway, that was the beginning of the deterioration of my knees. 


Two years ago, I was having difficulty getting off the second floor of our home. A wheelchair was beginning to look like an inevitability due to my knees and some other joint issues. I petitioned my doctor to send me to rehab. The first doctor turned me down. I didn't give up and I found one that not only gave me a referral to rehab but one that made it possible for me to aquatic rehab. Aquatic rehab included a few exercises in the water but mainly consisted of water walking.

Now I continue to do my water walking in the summer's in the local pool. I find this along with some some shots in the knee keep me limber for most of the year. Water walking is pretty much what the name implies. It is basically walking back and forth across the people. 


Water walking is fairly boring; however, it is the people that you meet and the sights that you see that can make it interesting. And speaking of sighs, trust me, some of the sights that I see should never be seen. For example,  the speedo ...  their are few people who can pull this off (Hm, made I should have worded that differently. 


"Men in Speedos (or other brief-style swimsuits) fall under the same general principle as women in belly shirts: most can't wear them without looking laughable. The form-fitting nature of the Speedo suits professional swimmers perfectly, and should be limited to their use. Many men in Speedos seem to think they're God's gift to women. In reality, most women, upon seeing a man in a Speedo (no matter what his body type or size is) can't help acting on their first instinct: to laugh. "


There are also those who have long since past the stage of where a bikini should be worn. Just because they make 10 X bikini's doesn't mean they should be worn. Need I say more.






It was an itsy, bitsy, teenie, weenie, yellow polka-dot bikini
That she wore for the first time today
An itsy, bitsy, teentie, weenie, yellow polka-dot bikini
So in the water she wanted to stay...
by Brian Hyland




Water walking is good for joints,cardiovascular health, and  the funny bone. 


quote is from http://www.elistmania.com/still/10_items_of_clothing_that_no_one_should_wear_in_public/










Thursday, June 14, 2012

Tomatoes Make for a Simple Meal

I love the smell of fresh sun-ripened tomatoes, fresh picked from the vine. For me, it is the smell of summer. Tomatoes  smell are especially good when the warmth of the sun has not yet dissipated. When I'm in a hurry, I make the traditional Tomato Sandwich without additional establishments


Traditional Tomato Sandwiches are simple. They consists of bread, mayo, and tomato. I usually add Swiss cheese; I've also been known to turn mine into a BLT (with the addition of cheese). When I have the time, this is when I make my "Better Then a Tomato Sandwich" Sandwich.
The "Better Then a Tomato Sandwich" Sandwich is a layered sandwich using the freshest of tomatoes and Sourdough bread, if you can get it. If not, substitute a type of bread that you like. This sandwich is cooked under the broiler and is served open faced.


Good meals, like the "Better Then a Tomato Sandwich' Sandwich don't have to be time consuming. Don't get me wrong, I love cook. But there are so many other things to do in the summer than cook, like watching fireflies in the evening. Meals need to be made with the best ingredients possible. Especially in the summer time, it is very easy to fine fresh fruits and vegetables at farmers markers or roadside stands. This makes summer dinning trouble free and relaxing. Then I can seize extra time to sit outside in the moonlight.

"Better Then a Tomato Sandwich" Sandwich        
Ingredients
Your choice of bread, thickly sliced (as many as the sandwiches you are planning)
Olive Oil
Slices of garden fresh tomatoes
Fresh basil leaves
Salt
Fresh Cracked Pepper
Mozzarella (Gouda or Edam cheese) slices
Instructions
  1. Lightly brush the tops of the bread with olive oil to prevent burning the edges of the bread.
  2. Place a layer of the tomatoes on the bread. Salt and pepper as desired.
  3. Place leaves of basil on top of the tomatoes (not to many).
  4. Top the ingredients with cheese
  5. Broil until the cheese is bubbly and starts to become brown.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Worry Steals Joy


(sorry, no lily pictures from my garden this year, only tulips)


Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin  yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you...
(Matthew 6:25-30)


If I got paid for every moment I spent worrying, I would be a trillionaire. The funny thing about worrying about the future, is that it doesn't change anything. Worrying is a way of trying to control that which you have no control over. 


Today, I was called by a doctors office telling me about an abnormal lab value. This specific lab value could mean anything from the fact that I was dehydrated when the test was taken, to pointing to the fact that my kidneys might be failing. In the past, I would frantically trolling the internet trying to glean all the information I could about this lab test. But it will not change the results. I have to wait until next week to be retested. 


I can either be determined to enjoy the next week of my life or I can decide to worry about the results of this test for the week. In the past, I let worry still my life and my joy. This week I will try a better way of coping. I am determine to relax and not focus on what I can not change. Today I choose to seize a new way to cope.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Simple Meal for a Simple Life

I like to live in harmony with the seasons when meal planning. It makes meal planning simple and leaves me unstressed. The fresh produce that I want to use is readily available at grocery stores or better yet, at farmer's markets or fruit stands.  

When I worked it was often easier to go through a drive through than to make something at home. However, it never tasted as good. A year or two ago, the fast food chain, Wendy's, came up with a delicious salad. There salad is a combination of mixed greens, strawberries, blueberries, walnuts, and poppy seed dressing. My salad uses many of the same foods; however, because my ingredients are organic, and some may be fresh picked that day, served on chilled plates, I think mine just taste better. 

Going out to pick up meals from Wendy's may seem like the simple way to serve get a salad for dinner. Yet, for me there is something almost magical about preparing fresh food...smelling the delectable aromas of the fruit and nuts while the meal comes together. Besides, with gas prices soaring I am not using extra gas.

The recipe below is a very loose rendition of the salad that I make, as it varies with the availability of ingredients.  




Strawberry, Blueberry, Walnut Summer Salad

4 cooked chopped chicken breasts (can use rotisserie chicken)
8 cups mixed greens
1 quart strawberries
1 pint blue berries
1/4 c toasted or candied walnuts
1 can Mandarin oranges (drained) optional

Gently toss salad together. 

Poppy Seed Dressing

1/3 c sugar
1/2 c  white balsamic vinegar
1 t salt
1 t dry mustard
1 t grated onion
1 c light olive oil
1 T poppy seeds

Blenderize all ingredients but poppy seeds for 30 seconds. Stir in poppy seeds. Serve with the Strawberry, Blueberry, Walnut Summer Salad. 





Friday, June 8, 2012

Oh, the Simple Pleasures...

Strawberry Shortcake
Past where the old Amish farmhouse use to be to be, at the beginning of the lane, is one of the signs of summer that open sign at the booth where fresh scrumptious field fresh organic strawberries are sold. These strawberries are big and juicy. My home is less than a mile from the booth so several times a week during berry season I'll be picking up the berries to take home.

When I was little my favorite way to eat strawberries was as strawberry shortcake smothered in whipped cream. The old fashion style shortcake recipe was one of the first things that I ever baked. When ever I make my shortcake recipe it helps to bring back some of the memories of running barefoot in the fields, picking berries, and coming back and making that shortcake.


Sometimes it is the simply joys that make me savor my days. Today, it was the joy of having fresh strawberries to eat. Although I didn't take the time to make my shortcake recipe today, I enjoyed the fresh strawberries. What a great way way to indulge on a summer day.


            
 Old Fashioned Strawberry Shortcake    
                                                                      Preheat oven to 425

2 cups flour
1/3 c sugar (for the strawberries)  2 T sugar for the cake
3 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/3 c butter + additional butter to dot the cake with (about 1-2 T)
3/4 c milk
3 cups fresh sliced strawberries that have been dredged in 1/3 c sugar at room temperature (if you need to let the berries stand longer, please refrigerate)

Combine all dry ingredients. Cut in butter until mixture resembles cornmeal. Add milk until it forms a ball. Pat into well greased pan. Dot with addition butter if desired. Bake for 15-20 min and allow to cool.

Seize the Berries!