Monday, December 8, 2014

Neigh Neigh Christmas

I wish I could see this sweet girl as she learns all about Christmas.  She just cracks herself up - and me along with her.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Pandoro unveiled

I think we did pretty well to let this delicacy sit on the table to see every time we passed by - without getting into it.  But we weren't sure how long it would stay fresh, so it got opened tonight.

The pretty gold paper comes off.  Seems a shame to waste it.

 And the smell!  Even through the plastic.  

There is a packet of powdered sugar that you put inside the bag and shake it up.  The cake is so light, that part was easy.

And here it is - all ready to be sliced - or pulled off in chunks.   Either way works.

Soooo  good.

Not knowing for sure if I wanted to decorate the house for Christmas, I've been just getting out a few things a day and seeing if I stay in the mood.  If everyone was coming before Christmas, I would have no problem, but Elise gets here the 25th, Emily and Graysen the 27th, Kathy and Alan the 28th and Stephanie and Gray on Jan 2nd.  At least most of us will overlap, but I'm not sure if I want it all out that long.  I guess it will be more festive to have a tree and good-smelling candles, and Christmas carols playing, and wassail.  

So I put some placemats on the table one day.

Then yesterday I took down the Christmas mugs and some plates.

A friend in Meridian gave me this plate, and you can always find a cat you know in this picture if you look hard enough.

This set of plates was started in 1983 when I was working at the kindergarten for a teacher who became a good friend.  She died a few years ago, but I always think of Joanne when I get these out every year.  She said they reminded her of my children the way they were in 1983.

Through the years, another friend Jimmie has found more plates with different years for me, so I think about her too!  I usually just put them on plate stands and scatter them around on bookcases and tables. 

Mike has chemo tomorrow, so it will be a day away from home for us, the afternoon anyway.  I have my list of errands to run while he's tormenting the nurses.  He gets the Neulasta shot after this treatment and had to start taking Claritin beforehand.  The Neulasta is supposed to help replace some of the white blood cells the chemo destroys, and it puts an overload in the bone marrow, so some people have bone pain.  I don't think he had any last time, maybe because he started on the Claritin a few days before and after the shot, which surprisingly is supposed to help with that.  One nice bonus is that when he started the Claritin, his headaches started to get much better.  Makes us wonder if they're sinus headaches instead of chemo headaches.  Strange.  

Not much crafting going on lately.  I made Graysen a winter shirt and tried a sweatshirt this time.  It's a Rabbit Skin and seems really soft.  I got a 2T and washed it, so maybe it will come close to fitting her.  

I'm enjoying these shirts without applique.  Once you put them in the machine, there's no taking them out and trimming too close or not close enough and putting the hoop back into the machine hoping it will line up the way it should.


More sewing that I need to be doing is dressing this American Girl Bitty Baby that I found on Ebay.  I'm not ready to pay $70 for a doll for a 2-year-old, so I found this one in excellent condition there.  I think I paid $20 or so; I can't remember exactly.  But she came with no clothes.  I found the pink shirt at Target, and it's okay, but that's all I've seen - less than $20 to $30 an outfit!  

The little doll was Elise's, and Graysen will get to have that one too.  I hope she sticks with her love of baybees.  I bought a pattern (underneath the basket) but then tonight while cleaning out a closet, I found this.

A ""vintage" pattern, I guess, with much cuter clothes than the new one.  Bought in 1983 when the girls were 5 and 9 and never got used.  

I got busy and got together the pattern pieces for a gown first and pinned them to some soft blue-dotted flannel.  

When I went to take a picture just now, I found this.  Someone else thinks it's soft too.  I forgot that the ironing board is Murray's at night, and the sewing chair is Stella's.  I need to teach them to become productive.

I'm disappointed when I don't get a video from Snoqualmie every day, but I pulled this snuggly picture from Karen's Facebook page.  She is keeping Graysen for a few days until they get babysitting worked out.  Wish it were me!

I bet they didn't have much company at the park today.

And a couple of snow ones from Emily's page.

Obtaining a tree is an adventure.  Such a beautiful place.  They had snow last year when they found their tree.

She wasn't that happy about the snow last year either.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Sweet surprises

It's the time of year when we're ordering more than usual, it seems, and while it's always nice to get those packages, sometimes there are surprises just for us!

Last week we received this mysterious and nicely wrapped package.

Maple syrup from Maine.  From Sherry and David.

David had been to Maine to visit his sister and brought this back.  I've been begging him to bring me a Maine Coon kitty, but this is the next best thing!  Much easier to take care of  - and take care of it we will!

Another package came today, and it was another sweet treat.  This delicious pandoro (or golden bread - pan d'oro) is from our friends Rosanne and Lou.  They gave us one last year when we were at their house, and we raved about it so much that they sent us another one.

That was our first taste of this Italian cake, and it was just amazing.  The flavor is hard to describe, and it's so beautiful.  We're going to enjoy it awhile in the beautiful packaging, but I'll take a picture when we open it.

The next pictures are surprises that we (or at least Mike) sent to Snoqualmie.  And Maple Valley and Belleview.

Tupelo Honey.  When we went to St. George's, we saw a lot of signs advertising Tupelo Honey.  We went through Wewahitchka but didn't stop and get any, but Mike ordered some when we got home.  This is the Snoqualmie reaction.  Graysen's first taste of honey.

Life will never be the same now.

Do I hear cat sounds in the background.  Must be Griff and Jack play/fighting.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Day 2014

Looks like I'm managing to get here once a month - maybe!  It's daunting to think back over the past month and think of the things I missed.  Oh, well.  There's today.

This week we drove down to Andalusia to get some pecans from Gunter Pecans in Gantt.

We bought five 3-1/2-pound bags for $20.  Last year, you could get 4 pounds for $20.  The reason being that due to the weather there weren't as many available, and those are smaller.  Each 3-1/2 pound bag is about 90% halves, 9% bits, and 1% waste and meal.  Mike has taken a great interest in the acquisition and processing of these pecans, so these are the important facts.  He's going to use the pecan hulls and meal to smoke pork - pecan-flavored pork - yum.

I'm just kind of taking dictation here.  "This information is given because provenance is obviously important." He remembers in the mid-50s his great aunts and great uncle - Minnie, Myrtle, and Bob - saying they preferred the taste of the very small pecans because they believed the flavor intensified after toasting.  I bet Minnie, Myrtle, and Bob could never imagine that their opinions would be expressed on a blog - or even what a blog was.

Mama wanted a bag for herself but finished hers and wanted a second one.  She loves nothing better than "picking out pecans" and watching the Thanksgiving Day parades.  Except this year, she was a little disappointed that the parades weren't like they used to be - "all kinds of dancing and stuff."

These will be wonderful for gifts and for cooking during the year.  Last year's batch is just now running out, so it's time to replenish.  I know some of the bags will go to Snoqualmie.  

So Thanksgiving Dinner almost didn't happen since it was just the 3 of us, Mike has not had an appetite, and Mama doesn't eat much of anything, so I didn't see any reason to cook anything special.  I guess all the talk of food around us made us think of dressing, so I thought I would cook at least that.  

While Mike was having his treatment, I went to do a few errands and ended up at Publix on Senior Day, the first day of the new specials, AND the day before Thanksgiving.  It was crowded, but Publix is invariably a nice place to shop.  People are friendly, and the shoppers for the most part look like they're enjoying buying groceries rather than doing the mad scramble in Wal-Mart (which I am guilty of every time Mama has to go in there.)

I had drawn up my game plan - had my lists, my coupons, my Cartwheel for Target, my Ibotta and Checkout 51 lists - and I took my time and kind of enjoyed it, especially in Target.  It was not very busy during the morning, so I took my time at the $1 section and got Graysen a couple of things for her stocking, looked at the toys leisurely and then zeroed in on the things I needed.  It's nice to just wave your phone at the checkout girl and have her take $5.36 off your total bill.  Same in Publix.  I just type in my phone number, and I usually end up having a little bit subtracted there.  A girl near the deli handed me a circular for $1 each off on cream cheese and chicken broth, both of which I was buying anyway.  

It's taking me longer to type this blog entry than it did to cook a whole Thanksgiving dinner.  So here are the pictures. 

I made the cornbread for the dressing last night and the congealed salad, then got up early and made the mushroom rice and the dressing.  

That was about it except for opening the can of cranberries and putting the turkey slices on a plate.

One of the best recipes of dressing I've ever made.  Emily and I are hit and miss on how it turns out every year.  She used to get mad with me because I couldn't give her an exact recipe, but now she understands.  Mike thought it was a little over-seasoned, but his opinion doesn't count lately because nothing tastes the same to him.

The brown rice is foolproof and always the easiest thing I cook - just dump 4 things in a pan with a little melted butter and bake.  And everyone loves it - although Mama did say it "didn't look good."  She did eat it though and liked it.

My plate - a little bit of everything.  Oh, Mike sauteed some fresh beans.  I'm not sure what's up with the deli turkey.  Looks like it's been cut with pinking shears, and it was nothing like "real" turkey!

We even had an apple pie thanks to a Buy 1 Get 1 free deal on Mrs. Smith's pies. 

Better than and much easier than anything I could have turned out this morning.  

Especially with a dab of ice cream on it while it was hot.

Perfect ending.  Enough clean storage containers for them all to match, and all the food fit neatly into a container for leftovers.

Dishes done and 2 out of 3 of us napping.

I still love the new countertops and sink a LOT.  We have to get busy on that gap between the counter and the backsplash.  We did go to a tile place and find out what we need.

Mike says he can do it now that we know what to buy.  He just didn't feel good enough last week to tackle it.  I need to remind him to do it before he loses the steroid high from yesterday.

I've done very little except to pull out things and try to make decisions on giving away, throwing away, or moving (if we get lucky enough to actually move).  Regardless, I need to get rid of so much clutter.  I went on a small embroidery spree this week and made Graysen some embroidered shirts and a pair of Christmas pjs.

This box has already been received, and I have a thank-your video for the Santa pajamas that I'll try to post.  I didn't make the smocked dress or the corduroy ones under it - just hemmed them.

I love all three of these.

I like to send things that are sort of festive but not so seasonal that they can't be worn all winter. 

This video makes me have a silly grin on my face for some reason.

We Skyped this morning, and it's so sad to see her trying to understand why she can't reach out and touch me.  She blows kisses so sweetly and points out Mimi and Papa, but there is just not a bit of snuggling allowed.  Emily says when she gets into the car, she always mentions me - since once I appeared when they picked me up at the hospital, and another 2 times I've appeared when they've picked me up at the airport - soooo maybe she thinks there's always a chance that I'll hop in the back seat again at any time.  Papa just lived with her for months, and now he's not in his room or opening the door to greet her in the mornings.  Makes me sad!

Speaking of planes, I'll be flying to Lubbock on the 12th to go to Elise's induction ceremony at Texas Tech on Friday morning and graduation that night.  Then a big happy dinner to celebrate all she's accomplished.  I wish Mike could go, but he can't risk getting around people and catching an infection at this point.  He needs to have this last treatment of the cycle next Wednesday and rest a week before starting the last 3, one on Christmas Eve and the last one on New Year's Eve.  We appreciate the nurses who work on the holidays and so grateful the Cancer Center is open, or we'd be spending a LOT of money if it went past January 31st.  We'd have to start over on the out-of-pocket expenses, and chemo treatments are not cheap.  

This has been a nice Thanksgiving, and we do have so much to be thankful for.  This year, for sure, we appreciate the caregivers in Seattle and Montgomery.  Cancer nurses and doctors and techs and volunteers - all of them have a hard job, but everyone we come into contact with has been reassuring, professional, and friendly.  We have friends who check on us with emails and phone calls and other sweet gestures.  A friend from church brought Mike over 2 hats she had knitted to keep his head warm this winter!  With this nice weather, I hope we'll be getting out and walking again before it gets too cold.

I hope I come back tomorrow with more pictures of our trip to St. George's  a week or so ago.  I have so many pictures in my picture file and on my camera.  Let's just see how long it take me to write again.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Top Doc

Skipping from Fox Hollow Farm to a lobectomy....

This is a web page that I found about the doctor who did Mike's surgery last week, Dr Eric Vallieres.  There is also a nice video in which he talks about customizing each patient's treatment to his or her particular situation.  Before I met him, this was just another person and another video, but after getting to know him and watching the video again, it is so true - the explanation, the detail, the caring attitude.  He never came into the room that he didn't had a discussion about the New York Times crossword puzzles with Mike - not that that makes him a better surgeon - but it makes postoperative talk a little more lighthearted!

I can see why he was recognized in Seattle Magazine's survey as a "Top Doctor" for the last 5 years.  We are so thankful we were able to meet and benefit from his skills.

Also on the Seattle Magazine list is Dr. Kaplan, the oncologist.  He and Dr Vallieres worked closely together to formulate a plan for Mike's particular cancer, and he also is a wonderful doctor as far as taking all the time you want to talk, asking questions, finding out our situation and background, playing trivia with Mike, and criticizing Emily's holey blue jeans.

Very lucky that we got connected with these 2 gentlemen.

I downloaded some pictures from my camera that I took during the week - very few - and thought I would post a few here now.

We had a long wait during the surgery, and Emily finally gave up and had a lie-down.

The surgery itself took several hours, and then the time in the recovery room was around 3 hours, so we learned that room and the surrounding hospital area well.  There was a board with Mike's name on it and his status, kind of like an arrivals and departures board at the airport, and it seemed it never changed.  There was also this guy at the information desk who had a creepy voice who would announce when a patient was finished with surgery - very soft and whispery, very eerie - "Would the Windham family please report to the surgical information desk?"  It kind of made you NOT want to report to the desk.

I stayed in another hospital on another hill, Cherry Hill Hospital, where there was a floor of rooms for families.  I took these pictures of a crepe myrtle - which I found unusual up there - maybe not - but I think I wanted to take the picture so I could stop and rest.  The distance there was 0.8 of a mile.  Half of it was downhill and half uphill, so you couldn't enjoy the downhill part for knowing you were going to have a 45-degree slope coming up.

It was beautiful weather there most days, just one cool windy day, and I normally enjoyed walking around - just not straight up and not up parking garage stairs.

Speaking of parking garages, Batman parked next to us one day.

This was the view from Mike's first room on the 10th floor.  The first night we could see Mt. Rainier so clearly, but the other days it was obscured by clouds.  It was still a beautiful view, especially at night.  I loved sitting there looking at all the buildings and lights and the planes that passed overhead one right after the other.  It was like counting sleep to make me fall asleep, although neither one of us slept the first night.

The hospital where we were was called Swedish First Hill, and the other hospital (where my room was) was called Cherry Hill.  You can see it in the middle of the picture above.  It looks like a college building.  In this picture, it looks like more than 0.8 of a mile.  Between the two hospitals is Seattle University, and one night I could see a soccer game pretty clearly - the patch of green in the middle of the picture.

This was the first day - feeling pretty good and not expecting atrial fibrillation to appear and cause problems.

The surgical ICU where he was monitored for the afib, a big serious room - but nice people.  I sat in my corner and stitched a little or went to the family waiting room because he was not feeling like talking.

The GO AWAY look!

I did leave Thursday night and go home with Emily for a welcome break and dinner with this sweet girl.

There were a lot more details about the week, but those were the only pictures I took.  It was a good experience but one I hope we don't have to repeat any time soon - or ever!