March 2020 and a new trip starting hopefully in April

It seems the year is rolling along and time seems to pass quickly. It’s hard to believe it’s the end of March already. I finally wrote two previous stories for my activities of September through February. In addition to going to the gym five days a week, reading LOTS of books, and going to the events I wrote about in the posts prior to this one, I am still cooking, baking, and making almost everything I eat from scratch. I don’t want to eat all of the cookies, bread, and other things I make so I share it with my friends and other people I know through places I go to like the grocery store, mechanics, doctors office, and other similar places.

I am still having some health issues, but I think my body is finally settling in to trying to get back to a somewhat normal rhythm. Starting this past fall my body was doing strange things, even for me. My heart was beating differently like fluttering and beating hard when I was sitting and reading, headaches were severe, severe pain in my lower back pain from my arthritis in my lumbar spine, intense pain in my left hand and arm, and a few other issues. Since my four operations in 2010, I have been having some serious and intense health issues, and pain, which I have written about periodically. I decided to get massages at least once a month, sometimes more often. I am worth spending the money and I think it’s been helping me. A friend of mine is a massage therapist, so she comes over so I don’t have to go to her studio. We get to visit for a while before my massage and I make us something to eat for after and we have a nice time catching up on life and our adventures and activities.

Christmas Eve night I ended up in the emergency for four hours due to extremely high blood pressure and a severe headache which I also had when my blood pressure was normal. I have been to more doctors and different types of doctors in the past three months than in the past two or three years. I even went and had my eyes checked and found out I needed to get new glasses since my vision got worse. By the time the doctor ordered a heart monitor and it was put on me my heart decided to start working okay and nothing showed being wrong with my heart, which is a great thing.

I went to a neurologist and she ordered an MRI of my brain and Pituitary gland to see if we can find why I got such bad headaches. I have to go back to her the end of this week for the results, however, when I went to my primary doctor the other day he said one of the things the MRI showed is that there is a micro adenoma (tumor) in my Pituitary gland. It’s very small thankfully, this could be the cause of some of my health issues and my thyroid levels being elevated. In 1982, I had surgery on my Pituitary gland since there was tumor growing in it and putting pressure on my optic nerve. It took about 18 months of tests and waiting for the tumor to grow to a size that the doctor felt it was time to operate. We are not close to that size, however, I don’t think I will go through that surgery again, it took it’s toll on my body functions and it was a little over a year recouperation time.

I know medicine has changed a lot since then. I am not concerned about this tumor. I am going to think about it like the other tumors and cysts I have now, including the large tumor in my abdomen. I don’t give them permission to be in my body. I think about them as a ball that is there, but, not attached to any organ, nerve, tissue, etc. even though I know they are. I ignore them, except when they cause pain or complications, even then I still do my best to ignore them. I visualize them gone. Something is working, the abdominal tumor has not grown in 22 months, according to the CT scan I had in January.

I am still drinking my glass of celery juice I make almost every morning and it’s helped my back pain be lessened and on many several days gone, thankfully. It’s not fun waking up with pain in several places in my body every day and not wanting to move or get out of bed. But, I make myself do it every day even if I don’t want to. Until 2010, whenever I had operations they were not four in one year, I was younger, and after several months the pain would be gone and my body was normal, whatever that is. Since 2010, that has not been the case. I have been in almost constant pain and have had health issues and complications. I have a new normal, and it changes from time to time for a different new normal. I didn’t write about it for several years, only my close friends knew what I was dealing with and going through.

Then one of my close friends who also has serious health issues told me I should write about it on my website to give hope to others. So, I went back to the beginning of my stories in 2011 and added wording about my health issues and pain. So for the past few years I write about it every now and then like this story to show that no matter what we deal with we can still live life to the fullest that we can.

Perhaps we have to modify our activities, but life still happens and we can have fulfilling experiences. I refuse to be a victim and just sit and feel sorry for myself and let life happen. I choose to be proactive and live life as best I can. Some days it’s more than on other day. But I do push myself and not just sit feeling down or get depressed. It’s been ten years now that I have been going through almost constant pain, some days a lot more intense than other days. Thankfully, it’s now four days that I have not had a headache or back pain after having it for several months. My heart is pumping correctly, my blood pressure is under control. I still have other issues, and now this new tumor but it will all work out the way God has it planned.

My part is to continue to keep a positive attitude, look for all of the things I have to be grateful for… which are so very many. I focus on the positive. There are days that I tell God that I am tired of the pain and limitations I have, but then God puts people in my life that have more serious issues than I do, whether it be physical, monetary, or spiritual. Sometimes it’s so I can share the message of hope and gratitude. It shows me and confirms that I still have a purpose to be alive. It also gives me hope and inspiration.

I did not go on a trip in my camper van last year due to some health issues. I decided it’s time to take another trip this year. I am not going to let my health issues control my life again. As in previous years, I can hurt anywhere. There are three fire chiefs that stay in touch with me and a mechanic friend I made near one of the chiefs. They have been asking me to come visit them again since it’s been several years since I visited them. I think that is a great thing to do this year.

I have started getting ready for this trip. I had mechanical work done on my camper van to get it ready for the trip. I am hoping that there are no issues this year, even minor ones, but I know that if something happens I will be in a place or situation where it can be resolved. It seems every trip I take that something needs attention, my experience is that God has never left me stranded. One year the back step motor went out when the step was down, another was windows leaking water, or the refrigerator or air conditioner stopped working. In 2017, the transmission decided to stop working with no warning, another time it was minor needing to replace the auxiliary batteries. Maybe this year all will be well.

I know that God is in charge and has taken care of me all along the journey. I have driven about 80,000 miles in the camper van in the 15 years that I have owned it. My camper van had 25,000 miles on it when I bought it in 2005, and it was 8 years old. Now she is 22 years old and I am sure she has enjoyed the adventures and experiences we have had together. We have had some amazing and wonderful experiences as we traveled around the United States. Since 2011, I have documented the journey in my camper and my life and it’s nice every now and then to look back and read a story and look at pictures in the albums. There are some things I forgot about, one was holding a baby alligator at the fire station in Georgia. Or I look at pictures and remember the experience and feeling like standing in the snow at Crater Lake, Mount Ranier, Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.

The long trip I took and went away for a few months was the summer of 2018 when I helped a family in north Florida on their farm. That was great and I had a kitchen to use because I also cooked meals and ate with the family and had a washer and dryer to use. Unless I am at a friends house, I wash my clothes and towels in a bucket and hang them on a chair to dry. If there is no shower house where I am camping I wash my hair and me using a hose at a faucet, and use a washcloth to was me. I used to go to a laundromat but found I didn’t like doing that and waiting hours for the clothes to be washed and dried.

So, since I now make all of my food from scratch I was trying to figure out how to do it as I travel in my camper van. I can’t take my Kitchenaid Mixer and attachments or my Vitamix because they are too large, as is my air fryer oven and my 6 quart pressure cooker. So, I bought a small 3 quart instapot pressure cooker and have been using it and it will work in my camper if I have electric, and maybe also operate on my generator, which won’t work for my air fryer oven since it is a more powerful voltage.

I have a Ninja master prep with three different size containers and I have been using it at home to see if it will work for my needs. I used it to make my celery juice, it doesn’t grind it as fine as the Vitamix, but it is okay to drink. I used it to make a cake batter, bread, and several other things I eat and I think by bringing two containers of the Ninja I can make foods almost the same as I do with the Kitchenaid and Vitamix. I will bring my hand crank pasta maker so I can make pasta and crackers. I only have a small toaster oven that will work in the camper with my generator, or electric if I have connections. It’s small and works fine, I have used it to bake desserts and chicken, fish, meat, etc. I would like to take my larger toaster oven, but space is an issue and so is how to run it if I am not plugged into electric.

It’s going to be fine and I am up for the challenge. I will also bring a few canned goods like chicken, soup, beans, pumpkin, etc. Of course I will bring flour, sugar, chocolate chips, and other things to bake with. I am bringing my silicone baking cups that I can use in my toaster oven rather than taking muffin pans that take up more space. I think washing the items may be more of a challenge unless I am at a campground. I have some meat and fruit along with some food I made and froze to put in my tiny freezer to eat while traveling. While visiting the fire chiefs they said I could use their kitchens to make food if I would like to. Also, in Georgia at the fire station, like the last time I was there they let me use the shower and stay in their break room to watch television and cook. When I am at the fire stations, we usually have a cookout which is great fun.

Evidently, Google and/or WordPress made some changes and I can’t figure out what I need to modify, but it seems that I won’t be able to update my travel map buttons to show my route anymore. It was nice being able to see the routes I took for each trip. I still use maps and my GPS as I travel. Every night and morning before I head out to a new destination I look at my maps, Atlas, and campground books to see what route I want to take or maybe where I want to stop for the day.

It seems that this new Virus and all of the panic the media and others are creating because of it is changing life and causing people to panic and alter lives. Based on seeing the food supply and empty shelves in almost every department at stores it seems people think that there is not going to be food to eat or clean water to drink. Paper products and other items like alcohol, disinfectants, aloe gel, hand sanitizer, etc. are almost non existent. There are long lines just to get in to a store. The line at Costco last week to get water or paper products was from the front of the store, around the side of the building to the gas pumps. If people would just get what they need and not panic there would be enough supply for everyone.

I am not panicking or changing much of my life. It’s frustrating and I feel sad for so many businesses and people who are losing their income because stores and businesses are closed for weeks. Even the place I get my eyeglasses have been ordered to close. Government offices are closed to the public, it’s almost impossible to transact business or do normal activities. We should all be conscience all the time. We never know when we pump gas who touched the handle before us. Could have been an exterminator using chemicals and people using the bathroom not washing hands, and many others that keep compounding the germs the same as on door handles, etc. I always have been washing my hands frequently so it’s not much different than now. I use vinyl gloves when pumping gas often and also when I cook.

Yesterday, I spent several hours in the camper to get ready for the trip. I put my clothes in it and went through my cabinets to make sure I am not taking unnecessary items. Usually when I come back from a trip I restock what I used up, like hand sanitizer which I use when I can conserve water to wash hands or clean items. I didn’t replentish in November because I was not sure when I will take another trip. Usually I leave in July for a few months, since I had to have the transmission replaced and the warranty is up the end of June I decided to leave in April for a few months. Now, all of the sanitizer, wipes, etc. are impossible to get I was concerned about having some for my trip. As I was going through the camper, I found two 8 oz. bottles of sanitizer, 16 rolls of toilet paper, two rolls of paper towels, and a package of sanitizer wipes. So, I am good for the trip. I also have a bottle of alcohol which I can use for towels to make my own if needed.

Here are pictures of some of the foods that I have been making, enjoying, and sharing with others. Eating fresh soft pretzels, homemade pizza, and fresh homemade pasta tastes so much better than store bought. It also has no chemicals and less salt. I use herbs and spices rather than salt and pepper. I have been trying recipes and making foods I never made before, many more challenging and time consuming than my regular foods. One of them was Ciabatta bread and another was Kolaches which I love to eat when I am in Texas. Neither was really hard to make, but they took lots of time to make and the taste was well worth the effort.

Lasagna with homemade pasta makes such a difference from using hard store bought pasta and it’s not hard to make. My homemade wheat thin crackers are addictive. I made two pounds at a time and it only lasts about 10 days. I made a corned beef in the pressure cooker the other day and it was great to eat for several days, including making Reuben sandwiches. So, I bought another corned beef and I will cook it before I leave on my trip to eat for a few days while I am driving.

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January and February 2020 stories, Arnold’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, and Keepers Days

In April 2019, my friend Debbie and I went to Arnold’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Okeechobee, Florida. Then in February 2020, I went there for three days by myself with my camper. In previous posts from my visits here, I had a link to their website which was Arnoldswildlife dot org but I found out recently that they only now have a Facebook page. I can’t provide a link since I don’t have a Facebook account.

Here is a link to the pictures I took during these two visits. There were several new animals since my visits in previous years. In February, I saw three otters in the otter exhibit and found out that the third one was the baby that I saw when I was there in January. I love watching the otters swimming and playing in their pool and chasing each other through the water or playing in the water spraying on top of their rock wall. The brown lemur was fun to watch. He would sleep a while, then play with his ball. He would roll it and then hold it using his tail, then play a bit more and then rest again.

Sadly, several animals have passed away due to age or health issues. I still love watching the various types of monkeys. Sometimes when I visit there are baby monkeys, usually ring tail lemurs or marmoset babies, but not this time. Bari who is a friend of Sue Arnold’s bought two donkeys that are a French breed and not very common. They are very large, but also very gentle. One of the donkeys has curly fur and the other has straight fur. The Prevost squirrels which are from Asia are so beautiful and a bit larger than common squirrels. There is a pair of Indonesian Jade Peacocks which are more green which are rare and endangered, so far there have not been any babies from this pair, that I know of. They are beautiful colored peacocks and they look different from the common peacocks which are turquoise.

The two deer in the pictures below are special needs animals. One of the deer has only three legs, it’s missing a back leg. The other deer must have also been hit by a vehicle, it’s back legs and hips are damaged. It seems it can put a little weight on one back leg, but the other just dangles and the whole hip moves together like it drags behind it’s body. It’s so sad to see animals hurt and having physical challenges, but they seem to do okay and get the best care here.

In addition to loving the various types of monkeys, I love the camels. So many of the animals I have come to know from my many visits over the years, like Zeke the Capuchin monkey, and Lucy the mama camel and Annie her baby who is now about three years old. I have been watching her from when she was a few days old. Sue Arnold sent me photos of Annie when she was a few days old, she was so cute. On my website there are pictures in older albums from when Annie was a few months old to now when she is about three. They love drinking water from their water spout which is next to the fence and I get to see them up close, other times they are on the other side of their large enclosure eating their hay and other foods.

I always enjoy my visit there and watching the animals play or interact with each other. Watching the monkeys and raccoons especially eat their food is also very entertaining and also educational. They eat the fruit very carefully to maximize the most they can get without losing the juices in their food. The meat eaters such as the jungle cats, panthers, bobcats, etc. get raw chicken and beef for their meal. Sue Arnold is very caring and makes sure all of the animals eat the healthiest foods and there is a nutritionist that comes frequently to ensure the correct diets are fed to the animals.

In February 2020, the City of Lighthouse Point once again held their annual Keepers Day event. My friend Nona and I always try to go on Saturday and watch the parade where it ends at the park, and then we walk around for a while, eat a hotdog, and enjoy our time together. This year there was no antique car show, we don’t know why. Perhaps there was another event they were at because they are usually here. It’s fun to look at the old cars and see how much they have changed and what autos were back when they first were manufactured and the transition over the years.

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Update as of March 16, 2020, and 2019 events Relay For Life, Balloon Fiesta,Native Rhythms Festival, and Lighthouse A’Glow

It’s been a while since I updated my website with what I have been doing. Part of this is due to health issues, and the other part is due to living life, cooking my food and reading lots of books. Kindle Unlimited had a great special in December so I signed up for it. It was three months of books for 99 cents. So I read as many books as I could during that time, which has now expired. When they have another special, I will sign up again. It seems that many authors let the readers get the first book in their series for free, most of the time. After that, there is a charge to read the rest of the books in the series. Now, once again, I have a list of series to complete next time at Kindle Unlimited has a good special.

Also, I have been having several health issues and have been going to the doctors and having tests done. I am still waiting for test results. Hopefully, nothing too serious will show up. I am feeling better and my body seems to be getting back to my new normal. It’s been a bit frustrating for me. Prior to 2010, whenever I had surgeries it took a few months and I was back to normal after the surgical healing process. Due to four operations within eight months, two within a week, my body has not recovered well and also since the abdominal tumor decided to invade my body in 2012. It’s been ten years of almost constant pain and complications. Some days, for the past few months, the pain has lessened, thankfully. There are getting to be more days that I don’t wake up in severe pain and wish to not be here any longer. God still has a plan for my life and sometimes experiences happen that show me why I am here and why my life matters and why I am needed. It renews my faith and gives me more reason to know why I am still alive, now seven years past when my doctor told me I would be.

Okay now to the fun things… Rather than writing a separate story for each event I went to, I am going to put a few in the same story and add a photo album with photos. I will put a few pictures in my story, however, most photos will be in an album. I am going to put the 2019 events in one story for November through December, and then create a new post for 2020 from January through March. Here is a link to the photos of this event. One of the original organizers of this Relay is my friend Gordon, he, I, and several others were given the honor to carry the survivor banner for the survivor walk, I am wearing my orange RFL hat. My friend Nona and I joined a group doing Yoga on the beach. Someone arrived on a bicycle and the cutest dog was in the basket!!!

This is the second year since 2011 that I did not go to the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. I am hoping to attend and volunteer next year for their 50th anniversary. I did watch it online on their live webcam. It was great watching it and every now and then I saw a pilot or board member that I know and I would take a picture of the screen and text it to them. I took lots of pictures of my tablet screen so I could post them on my website. In some ways I liked being able to watch it on my tablet, I saw photos I would not have seen being there in person. Especially if I was on chase crew. There were also updates and pictures showing the gas balloons, one of which landed in a field somewhere in Canada I think it was. They had to wait until the owner was contacted to let them into the field. Here is a link to the Balloon Fiesta pictures I took on their website.

Next event I went to was the Native Rhythms Festival which I usually attend every year. This wonderful event is Native American Flute music for three days. Many of the vendors and performers are my friends since I have been going for so many years. This year a few of my friends were not there because of family issues, and I missed seeing them. Here is the link to my photos of this event. There were so many exceptional performers, you can read about them on their links on the Native Rhythms Festival website.

Lowery Begay was performing again and he had a booth and displayed some of his original, amazing artwork. If you look carefully, you will see lots of interesting items he inserted and used creating his painting. Cody Boettner was the hoop dancer that performed this year. Cody won first place in the National Championship Hoop Dance competition. He won with a score of over 10 points above the next competitor and he is in his early 20’s. This was the most amazing hoop dancer I have ever seen and I have had the honor of seeing several champions. Here is a link to the story and video of his winning performance.

Shelley Morningsong and Fabian Fontenelle performed again this year. Shelley has one of the most amazing voices I have ever heard and the lyrics touch my heart as does her voice. Her husband Fabian tells stories and has a kind and gentle spirit. They have been married a long time and the love they share can be seen and felt strongly.

My friend Ed Winddancer performed and told stories again this year. He tells stories and makes them entertaining and especially gets the children involved. After one of his performances I went up to him to say hello and I didn’t get the warm greeting and hug like I usually do. I thought that was odd, but maybe he was unwinding from performing. Later on I saw his girlfriend Tammy and while we were talking she told me that Ed had a stroke in May and lost the part of his memory that recognizes people. She said he doesn’t even recognize her and every day is a new day.

I went up to Ed later and introduced myself and  then I got the smile and hug. He said it’s okay to write about this issue he has. I suggested that he say something before he performs to let people know so they can be aware to greet him with their name and to give others hope that if they have a stroke that they can still perform or live the life they had with certain modifications.  I asked Ed if I see him again in 30 minutes if he will remember me, he said no. So every time I went up to him I would say hi Ed it’s Carol. Then I got my smile and hug from him. Tammy has to remind him sometimes as well. Ed told me if he and Tammy go to the store and get separated he can’t recognize her to find her. So, at the beginning Ed gave a brief update telling about his stroke. So he had to modify his performance a bit and let Lowery do some of the stories and introductions, which was really a nice change. Lowery told stories about his childhood and how much his grandfather taught him and he shared childhood memories that mean a lot to him. Click on the two pictures of his artwork so you can see all of the detail in the pictures and some of the items that are used as other ones. For example, the rifle is an umbrella. Wouldn’t it be nice if that were the case in real life?

Over the years, every few years it would rain during the festival, but I would sit under an umbrella and still listen to the music. Many other serious people like me would do the same. This year it rained more and harder than in previous years. The difference this year is thankfully the rain did not occur during the performance time. However, due to having so much rain the ground was over saturated and it was very muddy in places and deep puddles in other places. I am so glad that I brought my rain boots so I did not have to be concerned about the deep water.

As always, the performances and music were magical and I got to hear new stories and listen to new songs, along with some favorites. I didn’t take any classes this year. I have not been playing my Native American flutes, but I should because it is so tranquil and healing. I took my camper once again, and thankfully, the refrigerator worked. Last year the RV repair place turned up the flow of propane when my fridge wasn’t workingf so the fridge would now work, however, it does burn a bit more propane. That’s okay, I rather have the fridge working.

In the beginning of December, the city where I live had their tree and menorah lighting ceremony. It’s always a fun event. There were so many new and different bounce houses or inflatable rides for the children. There was a really high one that had polar bears and penguins on the outside of it. I thought that would be fun to go on and I asked the men running it if I could go on it and they said I could. I took off my shoes and climbed on the tiny bars which are what they call steps, while bending over since I was too tall to stand. This was not an easy task and it took longer to climb up then it did to slide down. It was fun and I would have done it again, except the line was really long with all of the children wanting to have this exciting experience. Now I know why these inflatables always have such a long line. Here is a link to the pictures I took during this event.

One of the ladies I go to the gym with lives with her daughter and her family and they love Disney and decorated their house with lots of Disney characters for the holidays. The lights at night were colored icicle type lights which were beautiful. I thought the lumberjack with his axe and pile of wood was adorable.

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November and December 2019 update

Sorry I have not updated my website as I said I would in the last post. Life is been happening and I’ve been dealing with some health issues and taking it easy and cooking like I have been  for the past year or so, and lots of Life happenings.

I have stories to write  and photographs to post like the Deerfield Relay For Life that was held at the beach this year and was a very nice event and the weather was wonderful.

Also I went to the Native Rhythms Native American Flute Festival in Melbourne, Florida, like I try to go to every year and that was an amazing experience once again and I have lots of pictures and stories to write about that. We had some rain like we’ve had on previous years, thankfully, this year it did not rain during the musical performances except maybe a light drizzle a little bit for one or two of them, unlike other years were it down poured through the event. The ground was very wet and muddy, I’ll try to get some pictures of the event posted soon hopefully.

The Lighthouse Point annual holiday tree lighting and menorah lighting celebration  was in the beginning of December, and as always it’s lots of fun and the weather was perfect. It was a little bit cool which made it very festive. They had a lot of bounce houses including a very tall one with Polar Bears and Penguins and I went down that slide and it was fun it took a lot longer to crawl up it hunched over than it did to slide down.

I know I wrote more then I planned on in my previous post and it seems I’m going to do it again now. I’m still going through some health issues including really, really, bad headaches for extended periods of time. I did talk to my doctor about it today and he’s going to send me to a neurologist. I guess to see if we could figure out what it is that’s causing it. Christmas Eve night, at almost midnight of Christmas Day, unexpectedly I ended up in the emergency room at a local hospital.  I was sitting on the sofa reading and my blood pressure keep going up and up and up and it got up to 210 / 109 which is not great. I didn’t want to have a stroke. So I called the ambulance and they took me to the hospital and I was there for a few hours they got my blood pressure regulated and I went back on my blood pressure medicine. They did a CT scan of my head and a chest x-ray and blood work and everything was good except I was a little low on potassium so we’re going to explore and see if we could figure this out unless it just stops on its own.  When my blood pressure came down due to some medicine they gave me, they let me go home at about 3 in the morning and I got a taxi to take me home. I didn’t want to wake anybody up at that hour to come get me.

So, that’s mostly why I haven’t been working on my website, it’s because my head feels like it’s in a vise a lot of the time so I try not to do more than I need to sometimes. And when I can finally get to sleep I sleep about an hour and a half at a time when I can get to sleep. Naps during the day are good.  And I still make myself go to the gym 5 days a week. I’ve had my eyes checked and they checked the pressure behind my eyes and it’s all okay so that’s not the cause. I just wanted to let you know because I know a lot of my friends read my website so this way you can know what’s going on with me.

The last couple of weekends I baked bread and made a lot of cookies to give away. When I was a kid we used to make spritz cookies in different shapes and colors and I have the cookie press so I decided to make spritz cookies to include with the cookies I give away and they’re so colorful and pretty so when I do update my website I’ll put pictures of the cookies on it. Right now I’m using my phone to and voice-to-text to update this post so that you can see I’m still around. However, it doesn’t give me the opportunity to add pictures. I’ll try to add one or two and see if it works for my phone but I don’t know. If you see a few pictures in this post then you will know it worked.  I just tried to add pictures from my phone camera and it won’t let me do it unless I take a new picture and I don’t have any cookies to do that with since I gave them away so you’ll have to wait till I turn my computer on and upload the pictures from my phone and Camera.

I bought a professional massager for my feet and a handheld one and by using them it’s helped my lower back pain from my degenerative lumbar arthritis not hurt so bad which is a big blessing. And it’s increased my flexibility I could tell when I do my chair yoga at class I can stretch a little further.

But I have to turn my computer on at some point to write all the stories and post all the pictures I want to. I wish everyone a happy and healthy New Year. Thank you for being a part of my life in some way.


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July thru October Happenings

It’s been a few months since I last updated my website and wrote about what I have been doing. When I wrote my last post in June I had good intentions about keeping my website more up-to-date, but as you can tell that did not happen. I did write a quick note when Hurricane Dorian seemed to be approaching south Florida and sadly the Bahamas. Thankfully, we did not get much of an effect from Dorian. If it came a bit further west it would have been an entirely different story. I feel deep sadness for the people in the Bahamas and other areas that were tragically affected by Dorian.

As for me, I am doing fairly well healthwise. I have had some new issues with pain and high blood pressure but I am working with my doctor to try and get something resolved. The doctor I have had for the past few years got married this past March and evidently left the doctor’s office to stay home and be a mom. Nobody told me. I found out in May when I called for my monthly call to refill my prescriptions and was told she left and the doctor who is in charge of the office will now be my doctor and he wants to see me before he will write any new prescriptions for me.

I made an appointment and without going into much detail, we did not get along very well. I do not necessarily care for this doctors curt manner. After discussion and explaining my health condition to him and telling him that I am trying hard to get off my pain medication and that I have working on reducing it he agreed to refill my prescriptions. For two and a half months I seriously worked on reducing my medicines. I am able to pretty much get off some of my meds. Reducing the pills caused my body to react. Some days it worked to be on less medicine, and other days the pain was so bad I didn’t want to move or get out of bed. After much prayer and thinking about my quality of life and not functioning good in pain, I decided to stay on the dose that provides a good quality of life for me.

Several weeks ago I was opening a jar of sauce and felt something in my left hand pull. After a few weeks it still hurt really bad so I decided to go to the doctor. When I got there my blood pressure was 160 over something. I was told that was a bit high and the doctor would take it again when I was in the room with him. I met with the doctor and we still don’t exactly see eye to eye. I don’t like the cold bedside manner. When he took my blood pressure it was 180 over something and he said I need to go on blood pressure medicine because that is in the danger zone for a stroke or heart attack. For the past few years I have intermittently had high blood pressure. I told the doctor that my blood pressure has increased a lot by talking with him. I agreed to take some blood pressure medicine, not the one I tried a few years ago that gave me bad side effects.

After feeling my abdomen he said that it feels like my tumor may be a bit larger and since I have not had a CT scan for almost two years I am going to have to get one soon. Last one also showed that I have degenerative arthritis in my lumbar spine. That may also be getting worse since I have almost constant lower back pain. I didn’t think I would be writing so much about my health condition when I started this post, but when I write I let my story evolve as the thoughts are put into my head. It seems that most of my writing just comes as I start typing. I feel it is from inspiration put into my fingers. I have been writing stories and posting photos since I retired in June 2011, and it’s just evolved naturally. I am amazed when I really sit and start a new post. I pray and ask my Higher Power to let the story and what I write and share be what is supposed to be shared. Then I begin to type and time passes without me being aware of it. Sort of like being in a time warp and hours pass. Sometimes four to six hours and I don’t realize it. Other times like today might be, I write for a few hours, or maybe one hour, due to time or how I am feeling physically. Then a few days later I pick up and finish the story.

So, other than going to the gym five days a week and doing Silver Sneakers cardio and chair yoga classes, I am still cooking and baking and making almost everything from scratch. I give most of it away when I bake and people love getting homemade treats. I also freeze some of the food and especially cookies and cake so I can have snacks easily without baking and making a mess in the kitchen.

I have made lots of delicious and also interesting foods. I’ve also been experimenting with different foods and spices and making up recipes. I was at Aldi grocery store last month and they had their own brand of an electric pressure cooker, so I decided to buy it since I have heard lots of good things about a name brand of this appliance. I made some short ribs, bone broth, stew, beef in barbecue sauce cheesecake and other things in my pressure cooker and everything tastes really good and it’s fast. The short ribs took about 40 minutes rather than hours in the oven. I am still learning how to use it and adjust liquids but it’s been fun and interesting. I have made lots of different types of bread and the English Muffin Bread and Cinnamon Raisin Bread have been big hits. The other day I made carrot cake muffins with pineapple and coconut with cream cheese muffins and I gave some to a few friends and everyone absolutely loved them. In fact one of my friends wanted more and she came over the other day and we made a batch for her. She said she’s not much of a cook or baker and we had fun doing it together and she gave me some to keep for myself even though all of the ingredients were hers that she brought over.

This is the first summer and fall that I didn’t go on a trip since I retired in June 2011. I decided to stay home. It’s been different but I enjoyed it even though I missed being on the road and camping. Every few weeks I take my camper van and drive it for a half hour or so and I stop and run the generator and roof air conditioner to keep it all in good condition. The Native Rhythms Festival which is a Native American flute festival in Melbourne, Florida is the second week in November and I always try to go. I get to listen to excellent music and visit with friends there. Many of the vendors and musicians are people I have known over the many years I have gone to pow wows and flute festivals. I also help them in their booths and give them breaks when they need one, bring them food, and I volunteer at the event wherever I’m needed. The festival is next weekend and unless I know it will be raining the entire time I plan on going again this year. Two years ago it started raining the day after I got there which was not good for the event and vendors sine the crowds were not large. I sat under an umbrella most of the time listening to the music.

I have several pairs of rubber boots that I wear when I’m camping or it’s raining. One pair which comes almost to my knees is solid black, the other shorter pairs that come a little higher than my ankles have a pattern to them. One day I decided to paint a design on the black boots so I went to the craft store and bought paints in several colors. I painted a design of grass an flowers and I thought I would add to it gradually. It rained one day and I wore the boots out in the rain and some of the paint came off. I didn’t put a coating on the paint because it was still a work in progress. So, now, I get to repaint the boots and won’t wear them in the rain until I put a waterproof coating on them.

I was at a local store about six weeks ago and they had a great sale on nail polish. I went overboard and bought so many colors. I think I have enough polish and top and base coats to last for many years. They may outlast me!!! I put them in a shallow plastic container and put a piece of white tape on the top of each bottle and swiped a stripe of each color on the top so that I can see the colors without lifting each bottle.

I didn’t go to the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta this year so I went to their website and watched the live webcam broadcasts and took pictures of my tablet so I can post some pictures here and see the balloons. I miss being there and seeing my friends and volunteering at the event, and crewing on a balloon. When I saw someone I knew being interviewed or a balloon that I knew the pilot and had their contact info I would take a picture of the screen and text it to them. I am always grateful when they write back and thank me and we say hi and it brings back memories for me. Some of them tell me they miss seeing me there.

We have had a lot of rain. It’s strange, the sun will be out and then the sky gets gray and it rains. Sometimes for a short time, sometimes for hours with wind and thunder and lightning. Then the sun might come out and the ground drys and there is no sign of rain. As I am writing this story I saw the clouds get dark and the rain and wind started. This morning was the time change and my body is adjusting because I feel hungry now and it’s a bit early for dinner… except it’s not when I add an hour for the one I lost.

So, now that I realized I am hungry and need to eat I am going to end this story. I don’t know if I will finish it and post my pictures and an album before I leave on my trip to the music festival in a few days. I need to pack and get my camper ready for my trip. I always go to my mechanic and get the fluids and tires checked before a trip, even a short trip. It doesn’t always solve issues such as my transmission going out in Mississippi two years ago. Also, other things have happened every year I travel. Thankfully, it’s always been where I can get it fixed where I am or close by… usually.

I will also write about the music festival like I have in previous years.



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hurricane Dorian and July August and September updates

as you can as you can tell I have not added another story since the last one but right now we’re under a hurricane watch for Dorian which seems to be a pretty strong Cat 5 hurricane. We all need prayers for everyone in the path of Dorian.

Other than cooking some different foods and still going to the gym not much has been happening the last couple of months.

I haven’t made any trips anywhere. I will try sometime soon to add more pictures and write a story, however, we have no knowledge at this time how we’re going to be affected by the hurricane or if we’re going to be out of electricity.

I pray that everyone stay safe.

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May and June 2019 Happenings, and informative and interesting things to know about such as Superstition Mountains Cougar Shadow and harmful chemicals in food

It’s been a while since I wrote a story on my website. Time seems to pass quickly and I guess I procrastinate about doing things. This is something I am currently working on to improve. To work on my procrastination, every day I am doing at least one thing I have been putting off. Some days it’s something simple like dusting the furniture, cooking something to eat, or planting a seed from a food I ate. Other days it’s something more important like updating my website, transferring pictures from my phone and camera to my computer so I can add them to a story on my website. Working on a story on my website is a big thing I need to not procrastinate about. It usually takes me about 6 or more hours to write a story, add pictures, find links of places or products I want to include in my story, and hopefully… make time to reread and correct typos in my story. Since I write and change the post I sometimes do not always catch my spelling and punctuation goofs.

I have been feeling better for the most part and I have been working on weaning off my medicines, with the doctors consent. My body is adjusting and some days I feel out of sync. I guess after years on the medicines for pain my body has to adjust to taking less of them. I am finding that other parts of me now hurt that I didn’t feel before, I’m guessing the medicines maybe helped other parts of me that I wasn’t aware of. So now, I am adjusting and doing my best to keep an attitude of gratitude. I have so much to be grateful for even though my health and body complain a bit. I can walk, talk, see, hear, taste, and often all at the same time. I have a safe place to live, food to eat, creative talents that help me to cook good healthy foods, crochet blankets and hats for the NICU at the hospital, and so much more. I am still going to the gym five days a week to keep my body limber and my muscles flexible.

It’s time to start my story about what I have seen and been doing since my last story which was in April. I really had good intentions to write a story in May while it was happening, but as you can read, I didn’t get around to it.

As part of my attempt to not procrastinate, this post may take a few days to write since there is so much I want to write about.

In March one of my friends told me about a place in Arizona that she and her husband visited called Superstition Mountain and the cougar shadow which appears on the mountain when the conditions are right. This only happens about twice a year during the third week of March and September. You can read more about it here. It was an amazing picture they sent me and I am so happy they got to experience seeing it in person.

It seems every year that I have lived in my apartment that some doves come at least once a year and build a nest and have one or two babies. This year it happened again, only instead of the babies staying in their nest until they were ready to fly, this year the two babies somehow either tried to fly out of the nest or fell out of the nest and I and one of my neighbors got to try to be their protectors until they could fly. Mom and dad dove were around almost all of the time and I think they knew we were trying to help.

The mom sat on a nest for several weeks not leaving the nest at all. One day I saw a half of an egg shell on the catwalk near my door not far from the nest. I didn’t see any sign of baby birds so I thought maybe they didn’t survive. Several weeks later, I think it was about three weeks later,the mama bird moved and I could see one baby, then when the mom left the nest I got to see that there were two baby birds in the nest on the top of the pillar near my front door. Mom and dad dove were not around so I was able to take pictures. The babies were fully feathered so they were a few weeks old I am guessing.

About 2 days after I first saw the babies, one day when I was leaving my apartment I saw the baby birds on the catwalk. They couldn’t fly but they could walk or scurry. One was in the corner near the wall and the other in the middle of the catwalk. It moved and went under the railing and fell down into the flower bed. My neighbor came out and I told her about the babies and we went down and found it and carefully brought it back upstairs near my door. Since we thought this would happen again, I suggested that we block off the corner where the babies were with some cardboard I had, and I built a small next in a box so they would have a safe place to rest. What looks like spots under the chair are really the baby birds.

Over the next few days mom and dad dove would come and go checking on their babies. I could sometimes see them perched on the railing, roof, nearby tree, or close to the babies. Then the babies got more adventurous and flew or sailed under the railing to the grass below. We worried that a dog, cat, crow, or something might hurt the baby but we knew it’s all about Nature taking it’s course. Nikki and I kept tabs on the babies for about two weeks while they were around. It’s now mid-June and I still see some doves, not sure if it’s the same ones but it could be. They perch on the birdbath, or in a nearby tree, or walk in our flowerbeds. Some days I think both parents are watching and teaching their babies. Watching the family of doves interact and grow has been a wonderful experience.

One day the new baby was in the yard, it was only a few weeks old and I saw what I’m guessing is mama bird near it, and it started to rain and they were getting wet and mama bird stayed close to the baby and at one point got next to it. I felt so bad for them being wet and maybe getting cold. I took so many pictures during about a three week period I could probably post an entire album, instead, I will put a few pictures in this story. There is one picture in the second set of bird photos, to the left on one with the baby in a pink washcloth, that looks like a tree trunk and dirt, if you look closely you will see the baby bird when it first fell under the railing into the dirt two stories down.

I am still cooking and baking almost everything I eat. I am also finding new foods and recipes which are almost always good. I am using many of the attachments for my KitchenAid and Vitamix which makes food more interesting and healthy. I ground my meat for meatballs the other day and used a tip I saw on TV recently. After grinding the meat they said to put a piece of bread through to push the remainder of the meat out and to know when there is no more meat when the bread starts coming out.

I went to a green market yesterday and there was a fruit I never saw or heard of called Mamey which is only available for a short time this time of year and only grows in a few places, and takes one to two years to have a fruit that can be eaten. After reading about this fruit and it’s origins I now understand why it was so expensive. It was $10.00 for this one fruit which is supposed to taste similar to a cross between a sweet potato and pumpkin but looks like a papaya, but has a brown skin a bit rougher than a kiwi and is about the size of a coconut but more of a football shape. It won’t be ripe enough to eat for a few more days, but since the green market won’t be back for another month I bought a Mamey to try. I am going to try and grow the pit from the fruit. I looked online and found out how to do it. I wish I had a large yard to plant things in. Right now I use flower pots to grow things. I have several Aloe plants, two little mango trees, and some ginger and tumeric growing in pots on my window sills. I still have some herbs in my flowerbed and I use them to cook or make tea.

I made some potato chips, sweet potato chips, and a root vegetable chip that I can’t remember the name of. I tried beet chips, but they burnt before they were crispy. Using the sheet cutter attachment of my KitchenAid makes it easy to make chips and they taste better than store bought ones and I can control the salt or seasonings and oil. It cuts fruits and vegetables into long strips. I think my potato strips came out about 5 feet long. I also made some almond milk and cashew milk, and Naan bread. The nut milk came out surprisingly good, considering I don’t like milk and will only use it in baking or cooking, and it didn’t have any added sugar or preservatives.

I am still dehydrating fruits and vegetables so I can snack on them when I want and by making sure they are fresh and ripe it makes a nice snack when I eat them because the sugar is natural and not something added at a factory. I can fit a five pound bag of dehydrated potatoes in a sandwich baggie. I have used some of my dried vegetables and potatoes in my crockpot with chicken and they come out just like they were fresh vegetables. I am trying to be creative when I cook and bake and use up ingredients I have on hand. I make cupcakes with a yellow cake and add a spoon of jelly, I make individual cheesecakes in muffin tins using my silicone liners to make it easy to unmold. Then I can freeze them so I don’t have to finish an entire cheesecake in a week. I can take a few out to eat when I want them. I have dried portabella mushrooms, sweet peppers, carrots, celery, garlic, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and many other foods. I love my pumpkin chocolate chip muffins and make them often. The other day I made four loaves of bread and shared them with friends. The little squares are pretzel puffs which are a great snack and heat up nicely in my air fryer.

As I am typing this story and adding pictures of food I have made recently, I am thinking I need to make something now. It’s still raining really hard, and my dehydrator is drying some fresh peaches, and some blueberries I had in the freezer. I have so many packages of blueberries that I needed to dry some to free up freezer space. When I first started drying fruit I thought it was dry enough, but I have since realized maybe it wasn’t. I had several packages of fruit show signs of mold with white fuzzy stuff in the baggie so I threw it out. If I had a large freezer, I would vacuum seal my dried fruit and freeze it, but I have no freezer space now.

One day a couple of weeks ago I was getting in my car at a shopping center and I heard a bird singing. I looked up to see where the bird was to thank it for the lovely song. I saw the bird sitting perched on the top of a palm tree branch that had not opened yet. When it heard a noise it turned it’s head looking for the noise which was a car starting. I just looked at the bird for a while enjoying seeing it happy, singing, and enjoying the breeze.

When I was at a local arts and craft show there was a booth called Haileys Hair Elastics, selling ponytail elastics and they said these will not leave marks in hair nor tear the hair, so I bought a few, and they work really well. I still use my Kudu Klips to keep my hair up, but thesebands are nice if I want a quick ponytail, and they hold my hair firmly, even during my workouts at the gym.

I wanted to color some icing to use some new cake decorating tips I found called Russian Piping Tips which are really unusual and create beautiful designs, mostly different types of flowers. You can search YouTube or the Internet to see the beautiful things these tips and how they are different than regular decorating tips. I didn’t want to use regular food coloring with the harmful dyes, so I did a search and found some that are colored using foods without artificial dyes. Also, during Passover someone sent me this cute cartoon, and while watching a late show one night this young man was a guest and he had blue hair. I see people of all ages almost daily with colored hair. I am not sure I would do that, even though the thought passes my mind every now and then. Some colors are really bright, or unusual. When going through my things a while ago, I realized I have so many stamps. Some are books of Forever stamps I bought years ago, others are stamps when prices were lower, or when the price changed and I needed stamps for the price difference. I sent a friend in Texas some items for a new baby and decided instead of buying postage that I would use stamps I already have, here is a picture of what about $16.00 worth of stamps looks like. I did another package another time for $8.00 and I still have a few books of stamps. Some of the stamps are from the 1990s. I even have stamps from earlier than that from when postage was 6 cents, which was a long time ago.

There is a show I recently found on television channel Quest TV called Factory Made. It’s really interesting and I am learning a lot about how different things are made. I have watched fishing rods, bowling balls, highlighters, campers, off road vehichles, stamps, coins, cookware, sliding windows for fast food restaurants, circuit boards, and so many more things being made. It’s fascinating to see how things are made. Sometimes they show how foods are made from the raw product to the finished product. I also saw a different show on how cigarettes and cigars are made.

If anyone that smokes saw this show they would have second thoughts hopefully about what harmful things they are putting into their bodies. And cigars they said are handled by at least 50 people in the process of making one cigar. These people were not wearing gloves, and it started by picking the leaves in the field, until packaging. Watching the process of how cigarettes are made turned my stomach. They put all kinds of really nasty things in there, including extremely harmful chemicals and additives so that within 15 seconds of a puff the brain feels the effects of these addictive and harmful substances. I bet there is a YouTube video that shows the process. This was a half hour show that I saw and the makers of them admitted during a Congressional hearing they knew it was harmful but hid it for many years. Besides seeing people I love or know die or get cancer, many were smokers, and the fact that I prefer to breathe fresh air not someones smoke, I don’t like to see so many young people smoking or vaping which is just as bad if not worse than smoking. I didn’t mean to be on my soapbox about this, it just came out as I am writing this story.

Back to happier things… There is a wonderful privately owned restaurant nearby that I love eating at on the rare occasions that I eat out. It’s called the Sticky Bun and I have written about it a time or two before. I went there a few times in the past month and I usually get their Cuban sandwich which is my favorite thing to eat there. I took some more pictures the last time I went. They have a new stained glass piece of artwork hanging in the window. Mike one of the owners and the chef told me that a restaurant in the same shopping center was remodeling and didn’t want this stained glass piece and asked if Mike and Pauline would like it for their restaurant. They said they would and didn’t realize at the time that it would fit perfectly in their front window. I could tell it must be really heavy by the way they had to support and hand it, but it is amazing to look at. I tried to get some good pictures of it.

There are lots of hand painted murals and custom designed coconuts all over the restaurant, even the bathrooms are brightly painted and decorated. They now have picnic tables outside that can fit an entire family. Inside there is even a small picnic table with chalk for children. I love looking at the artwork and handmade items decorating the interior. It’s also pet friendly and a fun and cheery place to be, and the food is always fresh and extremely delicious, and the portions are large. I usually can only eat half of my sandwich. The potato salad is even better than mine!!! Chef Mike smokes his own meat, pork, turkey, and bacon. Everything is cooked fresh to order and their breads are delicious. If you are near Deerfield Beach, Florida, stop at the Sticky Bun in the Cove Shopping Center on Hillsboro Blvd, just west of the Intracoastal Waterway. Check their website to see when they are open.

It’s hurricane season again, it’s raining pretty hard today while I am writing this story. We have had quite a bit of rain for the past week or so. I hope we don’t have a bad storm or hurricane this year. Last year there was one but the damage was minimal here and there was only a few days without electric, which happened while I was volunteering at the farm north of Tallahassee. About two weeks after I was home a hurricane hit Tallahassee and Havana areas and they were without power for almost three weeks. I was glad I was back home by then.

I am preparing for hurricane season by buying extra batteries, flashlights, tarps, duct tape, etc. Hopefully, I won’t need these items. The roof on my building is about five years old so if there is a storm I am praying it holds strong and that the windows do too. Since I live on the 2nd floor of a two story building, and in a corner unit, it’s not possible for me to put the shutters on the side windows. The front and back have shutters however, if the roof is damaged things inside will be too. I am hoping this doesn’t happen, but just in case it’s ever needed I took pictures of everything in my apartment and saved the pictures to my computer and two external harddrives which I will keep with me, and maybe give one to a friend to keep for me. I learned that while working at the city. Several of us living in different areas of the county took a backup drive home with us as a precaution.

One of my projects that I completed recently was taking my recipes that were in a wire box and putting them into plastic sleeves and organizing them in a 3 ring binder by category. I finally accomplished that project. I wish I realized to save all of the plastic sleeves my mother had in her apartment when she died two years ago. Maybe she was hoping to get organized, as she often told me. I think perhaps my procrastination is inherited??? Anyway, I had to buy about 250 plastic sleeves and I still have a box of recipes that is in my closet I saved and haven’t used in many years, so I will add it to my list to go through and see if there is anything I want to make. I have learned over the years that watching television is a good time to go through papers, pocketbooks I haven’t used in a while that have things in them, recipes, etc.

Now that I have used up all of the yarn I bought to make baby blankets and hats for the NICU I need to find other projects to do while watching TV or just relaxing. I don’t sit and do nothing comfortably very often, unless I am taking a nap. I don’t know why I feel I always need to be doing something. Sometimes I read, other times I look out the window and enjoy nature and seeing the leaves on the trees blow. I am doing a bit more reading again. It seems that mostly I read a lot while on my trips in the camper because I had a lot of free time and it gave me something to do. In approximately 27 months I crocheted and donated about 450 baby blankets and 150 baby hats to the NICU at a local hospital. I have had to take a few breaks during that time to rest my hands, arms, and shoulders since I have a tendency to overdue projects, I did too much at a time which aggravated my carpel tunnel and tendonitis. So now, I have to be more careful and give my body time to heal again. Crocheting is done for a while. All of my yarn is used up, except for a few skeins I have for a project for myself one day in the distant future.

I have not decided if I am taking trip again this year or staying home, or maybe taking a short trip and not being away for months like I have been for the past eight years. Some years I wait until about two weeks before and decide it’s time for a trip. I have a strange gut feeling that we are going to have a hurricane this year that will impact us, if so, I should be home to handle the preparation. As the crow flies I am about a mile from both the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean and when we have a heavy rain my street and the surrounding streets flood. I would probably stay home unless it’s a Cat 5 hurricane. I lived through one of those when I lived about 8 miles west of where I am now and it was not fun. Lots of damage. Even though the roof on the building I lived in and all of the buildings around me lost their roofs and windows were blown in, my apartment on the first floor was okay. But, I was inside of a cement block structure and there were apartments on both sides of me, and the building is more sturdy than what I live in now. Also, I didn’t have side windows like I do now living in an end apartment. All I can do is pray and hope we all stay safe and that any storms blow out to sea and don’t do any damage to anyone anywhere.

Well, that’s about it for this story. This story only took about four hours which is good. It’s only about 1:30 p.m. on a rainy Sunday afternoon. Time to eat lunch and decide what to make for snacks. About a week and a half ago I made two batches of pretzel puffs and four batches of wheat thins and they are all gone. Need to make something crunchy and/or salty for snacks besides the potato chips.

I don’t promise, but if there is anything to write about in a while I will try not to go so long without adding a post. Just know that I am doing pretty good healthwise, better than I have been  in a few years. FYI… I did not go back and proofread this story after typing it, so forgive any errors, or you can let me know if there is something I need to correct. Have a sensational life…. Always remember there is so much to be grateful for no matter what.

Here are a few poems that I have on my wall that I read often and that always help me be grateful… and change my attitude. You can also do a search on my website for Inspirational poems and stories, or Lois, Dr. Seuss, or the Three Little Pigs to see other things that I enjoy. Some of the poems below I have had for a long time, I am There was given to me in 1988 by Lois who had one of the most positive influences in my life and my spirituality and I know her spirit is still is with me to this day.





Posted in 2019 Trip | 1 Comment

Another wonderful experience at Arnold’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Okeechobee, Florida, KitchenAid Sheet Cutter, Foods I make, and April activities

I am still keeping busy and thankfully still feeling pretty good most days, for which I am extremely grateful. I try every day to remember to be grateful for all of the blessings I have, one of which is that my pain has lessened, and I am still eating the same way and making all of my own food mostly from scratch. I also remember that I can walk, talk, breathe, see, hear, taste, etc. every day. Sometimes I seem to take these for granted, then I remember the times that some of those senses and activities were not easy for me. Such as walking after having an operation or foot surgery, or breathing when I had a cold.

My friend Debbie and I went to Arnold’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Okeechobee, Florida, this past Thursday. I called Sue Arnold about a week before and asked what she needs me to bring. She said she needs whole wheat bread and some vegetables. I bought 35 loaves of wheat bread to bring and I bought sturdy toys for the animals and some other things they can use. I asked our local grocery store produce and bakery managers if they could donate some items they can’t sell and they were very generous with the donations of bread and vegetables that we were able to bring to the wildlife center. Sue was thrilled with everything we brought. As always, I bring food for us to have a picnic lunch.  I didn’t think to take a pictures of how full we packed Debbie’s car with everything we brought. I don’t think anything else would have fit in the car, unless I held it on my lap.

Here is a link to the photos I took on this trip. To see the stories and pictures from the numerous other visits I have made to Arnold’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Center you can do a search in my search box and it will bring up the stories for you to look at. Also, I have directions in a few previous stories. If you use a GPS it will most probably give you a longer way to get there than the directions I give. The first time I went there I used my GPS for guidance and it took 45 minutes longer than the route that Sue Arnold told me about for my future visits. Also, the route I posted from Broward and Palm Beach Counties is scenic and very little traffic once you get off I-95 at Blue Heron Boulevard.

In going to the website for Arnold’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, I noticed that the website address has changed. I haven’t had a chance to go back to old stories to change the link so if you click on a link for them that doesn’t work in the story, do a search for it or use the link above to get you there. It is NOT any longer.

There are several new additions to the wildlife center this visit. It seems every time I go there that there are several new animals to see and of course visiting the nursery and animal hospital is where I often see animals I haven’t seen before or in quite a while. This time in the nursery and hospital were Anhinga and Barred Owls, a baby lamb with a broken leg in a cast, baby rabbits and baby opposum, a baby otter, and several other animals.

The newest exhibit is one with two Prevost squirrels which Sue got this past Sunday. There is also a two week old baby ringtail lemur. You can see it if you look closely in the photos below. As we walked around the wildlife center we saw a rare site. The Indonesian Jade Peacock, which is in an enclosed cage since it is a rare and endangered animal, and one of the resident free regular peacocks seemed to want to show off and try to prove who is dominant. The uncaged peacock was over near the Jade Peacocks cage. Sue pointed out that they were showing off and that it is a rare site. I got several photos of them including one with the wings open which I didn’t realize until I looked at the pictures when I downloaded them to my computer. The albino Wallaby is still there and he loves eating. When we were by the cages to give them banana pieces they came over to get them and then later took their siesta.

There is also a three legged deer in one of the fenced areas. I didn’t take as many pictures on this trip, many of them would be similar to pictures in previous posts and albums. Lulu the camel and her three year old daughter Annie are always fun to watch. After we were there a while we walked around the cages again and went to see the camels and they were laying in the shade under some trees. When we called to them they looked at us but decided to stay where they were. I love watching the animals play with their toys. I watch for safe toys for them when I am at thrift stores, and I always remove the batteries if there are any so the animals are safe. Someone I know had their dog die because somehow it ate a battery, they think it was when they boarded their dog while they were on a trip. If you have animals be careful how you store your batteries. When I see batteries in parking lots or other places I pick them up and put them in garbage cans.

Several animals have passed away, mostly due to age. Sadly, there aren’t any more llamas. There was a llama several years ago named Oreo because he was black and white. A while ago Cricket who was Zeke the Capuchin’s mate passed away as did Foxy Brown the fox squirrel who I have written about before. She was found after starting a 5 acre grass fire by chewing through some power lines. Sue acquires animals in different ways. Foxy Brown came to her when an official searching for the cause of the grass fire saw her on the ground and realized she chewed the wire. They brought her to Sue who was able to save the or a relative of someone who dies or cannot take care of their pet any longer gives Sue the animals. Whenever possible, Sue and her volunteers try to rehabilitate the animals and release them to their natural habitat, but for various reasons it’s not always possible.

If you want a great place to make a donation this is one of them. All the money donated goes to the care and feeding of the animals. By helping to save these animals they will be alive and available for people to see and experience their behaviors. So many animals are becoming rare, endangered, and/or extinct for so many reasons. It’s so sad to see species disappear. There are many rare or endangered animals at Arnold’s Wildlife such as the Indonesian Jade Peacocks and the Asian Fishing Cats. An albino Wallaby is also rare.

It was really hot the day we visited so many of the animals were sleeping either on the floor of their cage, or in their dens where we couldn’t see them. I still love giving fruit to the different types of monkeys and other animals we could feed. Nothing goes to waste. We fed the bananas to the monkeys, squirrels, and raccoons and the peels went to the deer, kangaroos, and a few other animals.

I took a few pictures of the butterfly garden, which in addition to having plants that attract butterflies, the garden is the shape of a butterfly with the center being the body and antennae and the wings off to each side. Sue said that the plants in the butterfly garden were trimmed back the day before we got there so that they can grow and flower again for the butterfly event there in July. There is a really nice vine covered viewing deck that overlooks the butterfly garden.

It was a fun day, and the weather was wonderful, although a bit warm. As we drove and got about halfway there we seemed to experience getting into June bugs which attacked the car windshield and the entire front end of the car. We had to clean the windows before starting our trip home and when we got home we went through the car wash to get all of the bugs off the car. The front bumper looked like we glued lots of bugs onto it.

The City had a concert in the park several weeks ago and the music was a tribute band of Bon Jovi and Journey so I went to listen to the music. There were lots of food trucks too and it was going to be a wonderful evening. There was blue sky and sunshine. However, as the music started we began to see dark clouds in the distance and about an hour into listening to music it started to rain really hard. Lots of people left, however, hoping that the rain would stop soon many of us took shelter under the roof overhang of the recreation building. The band started playing again after their break, even though it was still raining. But after about 20 minutes they stopped and everyone left. Sadly the wonderful event that I know the recreation director worked hard to organize came to an end. As I am posting these photos I can see my shadow in the foreground. It turns out the same band played the music of both groups. For Bon Jovi they wore long wigs and bell bottom pants and more wild outfits. For Journey their hair changed, as did their clothes. They all had great voices and put on an exceptional show.

My flower bed is still thriving, although as the temperatures are getting hotter and sun is shining longer I can see the heat is taking its toll on the plants. Even watering in the morning is not helping much. The garden and flower pots dry out almost instantly. I did cut the lettuce from the garden and I donated it to the wildlife center last week. I am dehydrating most of the herbs so I can use them when I cook, or for some of them to make tea. By drying them I can keep them longer in case the heat gets the best of them.

When I was looking for a dessert recipe I came across a website that had something called Magic Lemon Cake, they also had a Magic Chocolate Cake. So that night I made the Magic Lemon Cake and it came out pretty good, and it was magic. There are different stages to making the batter, and when it baked it separated into three different layers. Last night I decided to make the chocolate one and it tastes pretty good too. For the lemon cake I didn’t have enough lemons for the juice needed so I added some bottled lemon juice and it still tasted good.

I love using my KitchenAid mixers, both the new and old ones. Since they have different capacity bowls, I switch between them depending on what I am making to see which will mix the batter or dough the best. I also bought a smaller bowl to fit the 6 quart mixer to work for smaller batches and it is working out great.

In order to utilize all that these wonderful KitchenAid mixers can do, I have been buying several of the attachments and they are so much fun to use. I love making pasta with the pasta roller and cutters, I have written about this in previous stories. I grind meat and other foods with the grinder attachment. I have not made sausage yet, but it’s on my list of things to make. I do use the shredder and slicer occasionally. KitchenAid came out with a sheet cutter attachment a while ago and after much consideration, and watching a lot of videos on how it works, I decided to buy it. This attachment is so cool. It slices fruits and vegetables into sheets. Depending on the shape and size of the food the sheets can be 2 to 4 or 5 inches across and several feet long.

My friend Debbie came over one day so we could try this attachment. We put apples and potatoes on the sheet cutter. For the first apple we cut we had a strip of apple that was 8 feet long. Yes, 8 feet, we measured it. We held the apple strip out and she stood where it started and I was at the end. After we put the apple down I took the tape measure and measured the distance. Then we did some potatoes and we got a strip about the same as the apple. The second apple was a little larger and I had a strip almost 10 feet long. The potatoes were about 6 to 8 feet long depending on the potato. Smaller potatoes gave us a shorter strip. We were so busy having fun learning to use this attachment that we don’t have any photos of the apple or potato strips.

We cut the strips into squares, and they were approximately 4 or 5 inches depending on the width of the strip. We baked the chips in the oven until crispy. Some of the apples we baked plain and some we sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. Personally, I like the cinnamon sugar ones the best. I can’t eat too many of the apples due to the fiber and my ostomy. The potato chips were great. Some I sprinkled with a little salt, and some I sprinkled with different seasonings like garlic powder, tumeric, herbs de provence, etc. I learned that they have to be watched carefully so they don’t get too dark or burn since they are fairly thin. This sheet cutter attachment has a thin blade, thick blade, and the set I bought has the new noodle cutter blade. This blade cuts the fruit or vegetables into wide noodles instead of sheets, it is so cool. I watched the videos of the noodle cutter but have not tried that one yet.

 Debbie had to go home, but I decided to keep trying this attachment. I took pictures as I did the different steps. Sweet potatoes are one of my favorite foods, so I tried the sheet cutter with sweet potatoes. That worked well also. However, because the sweet potato is a really hard food it was a bit of a challenge to get the remaining core off of the skewer. I had to use a knife and cut it off carefully, then I baked the pieces which were thicker than the chips. There is a part of the food left on the skewer, it’s about an inch. This is okay for fruit like apples because it’s the core. For potatoes and other foods the core is still good to eat so I cut it into pieces or slices depending on what I want to use it for. The key to getting the longest, most uniform sheets is to use foods that are the most evenly shaped. Until the food is even, there are small pieces that are cut. They are still usable, but are not always part of the sheet. As I was posting the sweet potato pictures, I saw that I have one pictures of my potato chips after they were baked. I don’t peel most foods that I cut because most skins or peels can be eaten, I do peel my sweet potatoes, not regular potatoes.

I am still baking and cooking lots of different foods and trying new recipes. I admit that I have too much stuff, but I like to cook and having the proper equipment and gadgets makes it easier and more fun, and frequently saves time. As I am making things I find some items that help make my life easier. For example, a few weeks ago I made one of my favorite desserts… chocolate, chocolate chip cheesecake cupcakes from the Handle the Heat website. I have made this many times and I always make extra which I freeze so I can eat them whenever I want without having to make them. I make them in mini cupcake pans.

A few weeks ago I decided to make some and since I had a lot of chocolate bark left from the holidays I would use that in place of some chocolate chips in the cake batter. All seemed well as I made the batter and filled the cupcake pans which I lightly sprayed with oil. I baked the mini cupcakes and when I went to take them out of the muffin pans I found they didn’t come out as easily as they normally do. I wondered why and realized that most probably it’s because the chocolate bark does not have as much oil or other substance as the chocolate chips do. So I bought some silicone mini cupcake cups to try and I used them when I made banana muffins to take to Sue at the wildlife center since she loves my banana muffins and I thought that the peels could feed some animals.

If you want a great banana bread/muffin recipe search for Tyler Florence Banana Nut Muffins. This recipe is the best one I have found and it always gets great comments when I give it to people. In fact, I had a few in my backpack at an art show I went to this weekend and I gave two people each one to taste and they said it’s the best banana muffin they ever ate. It uses butter, brown sugar and bananas, also flour, and the regular other ingredients. You don’t have to make muffins, it works in any size pan. I don’t add nuts because so many people are allergic to them and when I take them places I never know if someone may be allergic so I leave them out. It seems whenever I want to make banana bread that the bananas at the store are too green or not ripe enough. When I am not making banana bread they seem to be almost perfect for it.

 Recently, for some reason, I see to be watching hacks on You Tube and I have seen many great tips or have gotten lots of great ideas for things. One of the tips I saw was to ripen bananas, so I tried it the other day. It’s easy, put the bananas on a baking sheet, bake at 300 degrees for 15 to 30 minutes until they soften and turn black. They can leak some liquid do you can put parchment paper under them. I had one of eight bananas leak liquid. After about 15 minutes they were half black, I turned them over and put back in the oven. It took 25 minutes until they were ready. I let them cool a few minutes and opened the peels and put them in a bowl. The banana were very mushy and easy to mash and whip. They tasted good but were not as sweet as if they ripened naturally. They worked fine in my recipe and since there was sugar in the recipe it was okay that they weren’t as sweet. They were still partly green when I baked them.

Using the silicone cups worked great, the muffins easily popped out of the cups. So I ordered some more of them in different sizes and shapes. It seems some of the shapes I ordered will fit into the round cups of regular size muffin pans. I like to make baked donuts sometimes and I have metal donut pans, however, I saw these cute different shape silicone donut cups so I bought them. I will post pictures in my next story when I receive and use them. It will give me a reason to make baked donuts again. Also, since all of these silicone cups are separate and not a large pan I can take some on my trip because they won’t take up much space and I can use them in my toaster oven to make different foods, not only baked goods. These silicone molds are easy to get foods out of and clean. Wow!!! New things for me to try. The wood roller in the picture below is to roll out dough. I have rolling pins but sometimes, especially when making pizza crusts, a rolling pin is too large to fit into parts of my pans so this smaller roller will work for that.

After much thought, I decided to order a mandoline. It will help me when I slice foods for my dehydrator or to make chips so slices will be uniform. I don’t see many mandolines at local stores so I looked online and I found one I like that has a variable adjustable slicer. Most mandolines have between one and three thickness blades. This can slice between 1 and 9 mm which is great. I can choose what thickness I want depending on what I am making. In case you are interested, it’s the Mueller Austria V-Pro Blade Mandoline Slicer. I like this one because the julienne blades are part of the slicer and there is a plastic guard covering them so I can’t easily cut myself and there are several cutting blades to make different shapes. I am not getting anything in exchange for this post. I like to share good things I find with my readers.

I love my Curtis Stone durapans and bakeware, nothing sticks so it cleans easily which I really appreciate when I have a sink and counter full of dishes and pans when I cook and bake. Especially on days when I make several things in a day. I should show you a picture on those days. I try to wash dishes and pans as I go so I don’t have a lot at the end. Most of the time that works, but sometimes it’s not possible. Some dishes like the magic cake uses several bowls and measuring cups, I try to use a measuring cup or bowl more than once if possible for a recipe.

Last year I bought the Curtis Stone Trio Pan. It seemed like a good pan for making different things at one time since it has three separate channels for food. The first time I made three different breads at one time, blueberry, banana, and cinnamon. The other day I made potato bread in it which made nice uniform long loaves. Brownies would also be good, there would be lots of crispy edges. This pan has inserts to lift out whatever is cooked. It would be great to make different foods at the same time. Like for meatloaf. My neighbors I cook for like onions and I don’t. Or they can eat foods I can’t like corn, carrots, etc. So, I can use this pan to make different versions of the same thing. Maybe peanut butter in a brownie, and the other two sections can have different additives. It’s hard to do that in a regular open space pan.

I still love to make my wheat thin crackers, and I usually make a triple batch at a time when I do so I have them to snack on for a week or two. I also made some chocolate pistachio biscotti. One of my friends gave me a brick of good quality cocoa powder. She asked if I would like some and I said yes. It’s been in my freezer and I decided to make chocolate biscotti and give her some. So I took the cocoa out of the freezer thinking it needed to defrost. After two days it was still hard. I thought perhaps it’s like a brick of coffee that feels firm and when the package is cut it’s loose. I cut open the package and it was still a hard brick. I realized I had to use a metal grater to grate this chocolate into a powder. It wasn’t easy, but I finally got a cup of it grated and I made a double batch of biscotti. I also make soft baked pretzels, the first time I made them into short rods, now I make them into 1 or 2 inch puffs.

It’s that time of the year again, the mourning doves are back and building their nests, and laying their eggs. There is one that comes every year and builds her next on top of the pillar near my front door. She and her mate came back a few weeks ago and they finally are happy with their nest. They built one and took it down and rebuilt it again. Now she is sitting in the nest and has not moved for about 8 days. I haven’t even seen the male for several days. I put a bowl of water and some bread pieces nearby but I don’t think they have eaten or drank anything. I feel bad that the mother bird is just sitting. I know it’s part of their life. I don’t understand how she can survive without food or water. It’s hard to get a good photo, there is quite a nice nest with lots of twigs. This is while the male and female were on the pillar before the nest was built. The female sits and has her tail usually up along the back wall. She does change position every once in a while.

As usual, this post is longer than I planned. This past weekend I went to a very large arts and crafts show with 600 vendors. One of the booths was a non-profit for fair housing and anti-discrimination. They had some fair housing and other literature and on the table were some pencils, activity books, and crayons. When I looked at the boxes of crayons I noticed they said Multicultural Crayons. I opened the box and saw they are all skin colors. The staff told me they contacted the crayon company and had them create these special boxes for them.

Whenever I go to arts and crafts shows I am always amazed and inspired. There are so many creative and talented people and they come up with things I would never have thought about, or have thought about and needing and now someone created it, or sometimes I ask who would ever buy that? but that’s not often. Someone there designed unique planters that are a pair of children’s jeans with the legs stuffed, wearing footwear, and the jeans could have decorations. The waist area was open and it held a flower pot with plant. If you want to see these creative planters you can go to thedudespantplanters dot com. I have a few orchids and I don’t do well with indoor plants in my apartment or I would have bought one. Also, when I leave on my trip in a few months I would have to give it to someone to watch. I guess instead of a plant, I could use it to hold a bowl of candy. There is nothing saying I have to use it as a planter. This is one of the most unusual and fun things to look at while I walked around the show. I saw a beautiful purple handmade fabric hat I almost bought, but I have several hats and don’t wear them that often so I resisted buying it.

Another great product I saw there is called Traveleyez. Check this out, it’s a set of two pouches connected by zippers that you can put on the strap of a pocketbook, backpack, suitcase, put on the handle of a bicycle or walker, I guess it could even go on a pair of crutches if you have them, and they can lay flat in a suitcase, etc. It can hold a phone in one pouch and eyeglasses in the other so they are both always handy. Or other items you use frequently and want handy can be put in them. No more searching in our pocketbooks, pockets, backpacks, etc. when looking for glasses or our phones. I like the idea of having a bright colored zipper so it’s easy to locate the case, they also come in black or brown leather for those who don’t like color. I love bright colors!!!

When I go shopping, especially to the grocery store I read the food labels and the print is usually too small to read. I don’t always want to open my pocketbook and find my glasses. So, if there is someone nearby I ask them to read an expiration date or something on a label, or I squint to see if I can read the info. I guess sometimes I am lazy by doing that. I find that I am not the only one needing glasses. If I use the Traveleyez cases my glasses would be handy and so would my phone that would be in the other pouch. I can see lots of uses for this product, even putting keys in one side if I go out for a walk and only want to take my phone. When I walk and take my backpack if my phone rings I have to take the backpack off, remember which pocket I put my phone in, and then unzip it and take the phone out. By then I have usually missed the call.

I don’t talk on the phone when I am driving, it’s not safe, so I let the phone ring and check it later. I did buy a phone holder that goes on the dashboard or clips onto the air conditioning vents to talk hands free but I don’t seem to use it. When I am driving I like to concentrate on that. There are too many crazy drivers and I need all of my attention to be focused on the road and other cars. If I am stopped at a red light and my phone rings, if it’s handy and I can get it in time I will answer, quickly say I am driving and will call you back and then I hang up. Or if it’s something important I need to handle at that moment I will say hold on a minute and I will find somewhere to park so I can talk. Texting and driving and talking and driving are not usually safe things to do. I can almost tell by how someone is driving if they are texting or talking while driving. They go slower, change lanes at the last minute, etc. I’m sure you can identify them too, and maybe are one of them. Usually nothing is so important it can’t wait a little while.

When I go walking I tend to not bring any identification with me which is not a good idea. I solved this issue by wearing the ID ON ME identification bracelet which I have written about several times. It comes with insignias for either a medical alert or just and identification. There are different styles so they can be worn on wrists, sneakers, necklaces, keyrings, etc. It’s a great idea for children to wear an identification bracelet with important information too, it’s not just for us adults. We never know when something unexpected will happen and this can save valuable time if help or medical treatment is needed. On my insert I wrote my doctors contact info, who to contact in case of emergency, my medical condition, medicines I take, allergies, my funeral home contact information, and a few other important pieces of information. I know you are probably thinking… funeral information. Hopefully that won’t be needed for a long time, but sadly, we all see the news where people unexpectedly die for various reasons.

In October 2013, I wrote an important story called Really, seriously, you would rather be an Ostrich? It’s about the importance of having your legal documents in order and letting your family and/or friends know you wishes if the unexpected happens. Most people don’t want to talk about this for some reason, but it is really important. One of my close friends husband died unexpectedly in the middle of the night from an asthma attack. They had read my article and discussed their wishes with each other. When he unexpectedly died she knew what he wanted done. I told my wishes to my trustees, a few friends, and the funeral home I chose, and it’s written in my trust and will.

I guess I have written more than enough for this story which when I started it was not going to be this long. Like I have written before in other posts, when I start writing I pray about what to write and ask for the story to be what it’s supposed to be. I have a general idea like for this one I started to write about the wildlife center, and I thought I would add a little about some of the foods I am cooking. Now at the end of this post you can see how it evolved.

If you get a chance check out Superstition Mountains cougar shadow. I wanted to write about it in this story but it’s long enough without it. I will write about it in my next post.

I am still doing pretty well physically, and I am still drinking the glass of celery and water that I mix in my Vitamix every morning, and when I remember and make the effort I put Tumeric, fresh cracked black pepper, and Matcha green tea powder into something I eat or drink. All of these things seem to be working to minimize or eliminate my pain and increase my energy. And I still go to the gym 5 days a week for either chair yoga and/or cardio activities.


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March Happenings, cooking, gardening, and dehydrating foods, and new things I am doing

My newest venture seemed to have just happened automatically and I guess it’s the new direction my life seems to be taking. In my previous story, January and February Happenings, I wrote about making food for my neighbors that don’t cook, and about all the new things I bought to make it more convenient for me to cook my own foods from scratch. Not only does everything I eat taste better, but it’s more natural and I know exactly what is in my food. There are no hidden chemicals or ingredients or ones not necessary, like preservatives so that the shelf life can be months or years.

I was at Aldi in February and they had food dehydrators on sale and I was wanting one for a while. When I am in Texas visiting my friends they have a garden and fruit trees and I prepare their fruit and vegetables and put them in their dehydrator. I decided to buy this small dehydrator, and as always when I do something, I get carried away. I usually don’t do moderation very well. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth overdoing!!! This is not always a good motto. It’s why I have way to many things… such as beads for my jewelry, paints and other craft items, cookware, food items, etc.

I bought lots of different fruits and also some Roma tomatoes and I dried them. It’s been a lot of work, but the rewards are great. I can now eat fruit. Because of my illeostomy I am limited to what I can eat. I can’t eat a lot of fiber. So, if I want to eat fruit I can only have a little, then if I put it in the fridge I sometimes forget about it, or don’t eat it fast enough and it goes bad and I have to throw it away. Now, by drying the fruit I can eat a piece or two or even more of dried fruit. I have to be careful to chew it well and drink lots of water, but it’s still a treat to eat a slice of mango, or a pear, etc.

At the craft show there was a lady across from my booth that was selling jams. She told me that I could sell my dried fruit legally under the Cottage Industry Law which is legal in Florida and other states. I have a lot of different types of fruit already dry that I have done in the past 3 weeks. After looking at the website for Florida Cottage Industry requirements, I asked my friend Deb to help me create labels for my fruit and we did it together yesterday. Deb is so creative and we had fun creating these lovely labels which fit perfectly on the snack size baggies I put my fruit in. It’s amazing how much liquid is in fruit and the amount of weight that is lost by evaporation. The reason I decided to dry my own fruit and some vegetables is when I went to buy some at the stores, the ingredients list the fruit, but also sugar, oil, preservatives, salt, and other things. I just want fruit. My dried fruit is only fruit, nothing else.

So, I decided since I have so much more fruit dried than I can eat, I will sell some if anyone wants to buy it. The flavor of the fruit is so intense because it’s concentrated. My next project will be to try drying vegetables other than tomatoes which I think are considered a fruit. I have dried mushrooms, sweet peppers, and some of my herbs, but I still want to dry other items. Also, as different fruits are in season I will add them to my list of fruits to dry. Right now, other than Roma tomatoes, I have bananas, red pears, mangoes, strawberries, blueberries, oranges, blood oranges, Meyer’s lemons, pineapple, apples, lemons, and I am making some pasta to sell. Fresh pasta, or even my dried pasta tastes so much better than hard store bought pasta.

Sadly, most of the blueberries I dehydrated evidently were not dry enough when I packaged them and they started to smell fermented and got some white mold on them. I dried them for about 4 days and they felt dry to me. I guess there is something different about blueberries than the other fruit I dried. I was sad this happened to the blueberries because they are one of my favorite fruits and one that I use often to bake with. I still have some in the freezer. Also, I spent quite a bit of money on them. I will not throw them away, I will grind them with some water in my Vitamix and use them as compost in my garden like I do with all of the other peels and skins from the fruit.

I try to utilize everything and minimize waste. When I boil potatoes I use the potato water in bread, soups, or stews, etc.  The peels and skins that are flavorable such as pears, apples, mangoes, pineapples, etc. I boil with some sugar and add some fruit slices and cut up whatever fruit I can and boil it again with some lemon juice and more sugar and make a jam. The unusable parts like the skins and seeds I pulverize in my Vitamix and use as compost in the garden. The tops of the pineapples, the mango seeds, and citrus seeds get planted in the garden. So far we have 2 pineapple tops growing and several citrus seeds sprouting. I am working on getting some potatoes, ginger, and more tumeric to sprout so they can be planted. I saw several You Tube videos on growing potatoes and it seems easy enough to grow in small areas which is what I have for a garden. They can also be planted in containers. It will take quite a few months to grow once planted, but I think it will be well worth it. I will write about how it is working in a few months as this experiment progresses.

Since I am cooking more, and freezing portions of food for myself to eat later on, instead of putting the portions of food in freezer bags where it drys out if I don’t eat it quickly, I am using my Food Saver machine to freeze the portions of food. I just stocked up on more Food Saver bags so I don’t run out. It’s nice to take something out of the freezer at the last minute, put it in boiling water, since I don’t have a microwave, and in about 15 or 20 minutes I have hot food that tastes like I just made it. And now I am not throwing away food because it’s freezer burnt. My Food Saver machine is quite a few years old but it still works. I know there are some with newer features but since mine is still working fine I can’t justify purchasing a new one. I would like one that is more compact but for now I am fine with the one I have. For example, last night I didn’t want to cook because I had spent the past few hours baking chocolate chip cookies and chocolate chocolate chip cheesecake cupcakes. So, I went to the freezer and took out a portion of lasagna and put in a pot of boiling water, in about 15 minutes I had a hot dinner that tasted like it was just made and I toasted some of the rye bread I made the other day in my air fryer, and without having to cook, I had a great dinner!!!

Sometimes when I substitute items when baking it comes out okay, and other times… not so much. Yesterday I decided to make one of my favorite treats… chocolate, chocolate chip cheesecake cupcakes. I use the recipe on Handle the Heat website, they also have a recipe using peanut butter but I haven’t tried that one yet. I like to make them in mini muffin pans and freeze them in baggies so I can eat them when my sweet tooth wants chocolate treats. When I make these cupcakes, I fill the cupcake pan about 2/3 or 3/4 full and then spoon a little cheesecake filling in each cup. I don’t fill it half way and top the filling with more batter like the recipe says, and I don’t add more chocolate on top. I put mini chocolate chips in the cheesecake filling and between the chocolate cake and chocolate chips in the filling I don’t need more chocolate or sugar on top.

I have quite a bit of chocolate bark left from another project so I thought instead of using chocolate chips for the chocolate in the cupcake, I would use the chocolate bark. I didn’t give it much thought, I just did it at the spur of the moment. It wasn’t until I went to take the cupcakes out of the mini muffin pan that I realized that I should have either used more nonstick spray in the pans or added a bit of oil to the batter. Usually, my cupcakes come out of the muffin pan easily, this time they didn’t. I started thinking about why they were sticking and I realized that the chocolate chips probably have more oil or something similar than the chocolate bark does because even though the muffins still tasted really good, they were a little bit dryer and more difficult to get out of the pan. I used a plastic knife to go around the inside edge of the muffin cup so that I wouldn’t scratch my muffin pan. If I use chocolate bark again I know to adjust the recipe or grease the pan more.

I have written several times over the past few years about the medical alert bracelet that I wear from a company called ID ON ME. It’s the best medical alert, or ID bracelet or tag, that I have found. It’s not engraved, it has a compartment that holds a piece of strong, non-tear type paper that has room to write lots of information. I put my name, my doctors contact info, my medical condition, medicine, allergies, contact info in case of emergency, my funeral arrangements, etc. on the paper. This way if anything unexpected happens all the important info is handy.

Personal or Medical ID BraceletMedical ID Bracelets

I bought some to give as gifts to friends who have medical conditions and should wear one. In fact, even if I didn’t have a medical condition, I would wear the ID one. I have a habit of walking and not taking any ID with me. Or if I am at the gym or somewhere and something unexpected happened no one would know who I was maybe, or who to contact. This way I have important info on me whenever I am away from home. I am not getting any perks or paid for posting this information, I feel strongly that we need to be prepared for the unexpected. After spending many hours looking for a bracelet that would hold the information I wanted on me, I came upon this site.

For about 10 years I have been wearing these wonderful Kudu Klip hair accessories to keep my hair up and still look beautiful. I saw them at a craft show about 10 years ago and bought two of them. Over the years I have purchased many more and also gifted them to friends who have long hair. The past three years I have been helping Patti in her booth when she is at a nearby craft show. Patti’s husband designed and makes these hair accessories by hand. I absolutely love wearing them and they stay in my hair all day, including through an hour or two of cardio exercise. Another nice thing about Kudu Klips is that a portion of their sales goes to Build On Hope which supports charitable causes such as building and supporting schools and orphanages, anti-poaching, and similar causes in South Africa and other countries. Patti’s husband Tiny is from South Africa. You can read more about Build On here.

Patti was in a neighboring city a few weeks ago and once again I loved helping her in her booth and introducing people to this wonderful hair accessory. It was great to see the smile on a woman’s face when she realized how wonderful this is to wear and how easy it is to use, and it’s also comfortable. We can adjust how tight or loose we want the Kudu Klip to be in our hair. I make it a bit more snug when I am at the gym then when I am at home relaxing or cooking. There are always some new designs, and it seems every year I get a few new ones to add to my collection which is now up to 18 Kudu Klips. I change them to match my clothes, and by not wearing the same one every day they last longer. I also have a nice selection to sell because every now and then someone asks me what is in my hair and how to buy one. It’s nice to have them on hand so that I can help women look nice and keep their hair up in something attractive, rather than a pony tail scrunchie or one of those hard plastic claws.

The Kudu Klip is flush against the back of our head so it’s more comfortable to wear and sit in a chair to watch TV or a movie, or even sitting in the seat in the car. When I am inside my apartment, I don’t realize how many gray hairs I have. However, when I am outside like helping Patti and I look in the mirror to fix my hair, I see how gray my hair is. A few years ago, one of my friends who is a hairdresser told me I should dye my hair. I thanked her and told her that I want it to be natural, no dye, and that I have earned each one of these gray hairs. A week or so ago, I was outside of my apartment and I had just washed my hair and had it down to finish drying. A neighbor saw me and said this is the first time she has seen me with my hair down… and she has lived in the same building as me for a year. I am in four of the photos below, not the ones with red hair. The pictures of the 18 Kudu Klips are the ones I own.

2016-03-21 13.16.17 2016-03-22 09.51.13 kudu klip kudu

Also, any products I mention in this post that I am using, is only my opinion, I did not receive any products from any company, nor was I asked to review anything. I like to cook and those of you reading my posts are mostly my friends and you like to know what I am doing and what I’ve been up to. And you know I would never compromise my integrity and write something that I didn’t fully believe in.

This reminds me that in the past I have written several stories and posts that I have not repeated. One of the important ones is called… Seriously, Really, You would rather be an Ostrich. This is about the importance of having your legal and medical documents finalized so in the event that something unexpected happens your family and/or friends knows your wishes or plans you have made. We never know when something can happen, we hear about it almost daily. After I added the Ostrich post two of my friends told me that they discussed what they and their spouse wanted in the event of something happening. Unfortunately, a couple of years later, for one of them, her spouse died during the night from an asthma attack. Because they had discussed this a while ago she knew his wishes and was able to finalize arrangements like he wanted.

If you read the story you will read about how my mother didn’t want to talk about death or something happening, I guess she thought of it as a jinx. Like when I wrote my will she took it as I am dying, and I said that I want to have my wishes in writing for when the time comes. Anyway, one of her friends died unexpectedly without any plans or funeral arrangements and her family had to scramble in their grief to finalize arrangements and guess what she would have liked. My mother then decided to make arrangements. It came in handy when unexpectedly two years ago after a hospital stay, my mother died and it was easier on my brother, sister, and me that her funeral arrangements were done and we knew what she wanted done as far as other arrangements and a service.

I also posted several stories that you can search for using words like Lois, or Inspirational poems and stories, Dr. Seuss, Foodscapes, The Real Story of The Three Little Pigs. I retired in June 2011 and began my first annual long journey. I got from south Florida to North Washington State. I drove about 12,000 miles on this almost 6 month journey. I had so many amazing experiences and adventures, and I got to explore many National Parks. If you start in June 2011 and then continue to go to the Next Page you can read about this amazing experience. I also have a Travel Map tab for every year showing the primary route I took on the trip for that year. Before Google changed from Picasa to Google Photos I was able to have a link so you could see all of my photo albums which number over 150, however, when they changed to Google Photos, I am no longer able to provide a link to all of my albums, now a link is in each story that has an album. This is not my preference because it’s nice to just look at the albums. I can’t provide a secure link to the albums now due to Google’s change in their album and photo posting.

The Foodscapes website by artist Carl Warner is absolutely amazing!!! I came across it by accident several years ago. Carl Warner the Artist has other pictures on this page. There are several tabs with different uses of his talents. There were, hopefully still are, stories on his website about how they make the foodscapes. They have to be in a very cold room creating these amazing scenes due to the fact that they are working with real food and it needs to be at various temperatures to stay fresh and be usable. When you get a chance, check out this website, you might be amazed like I was. Look closely at the pictures and see which foods and/or body parts you can identify, or what you weren’t able to identify. I don’t know if it’s still on his website, but a few years ago there was a picture and what looked like the sea was really a lot of fish laid side by side and their skin looked like the dark sea, I think it’s the picture below. Some trees were broccoli, potatoes are rocks, and many other foods were used to create these amazing pictures.

For a few years I did a lot of jigsaw puzzles and I posted pictures of most of them. When I looked for the link for the Foodscape story I saw several of the puzzles in that story and until I saw the pictures of the puzzles I forgot how many puzzles I worked on, and some of my friends came over to work on them with me. Healthwise, it was not my best time. I was not doing very well physically and my pain was pretty intense during this time period. I even was in Hospice for a few months. The puzzles gave me something to focus on and to work on when I couldn’t sleep at night, or my pain was intense. Even though 2013 was one of my most challenging years healthwise, it was one that I got closer to God and did many things I would not have done if my health was good. I even had the opportunity to go up in the Goodyear Blimp twice. You can do a search on my website and see the pictures I took from the blimp.

I also met incredible firefighters and was able to donate money to many rural volunteer fire departments around the country, and I even had the wonderful experience to meet several fire chiefs and their firefighters in Georgia and South Carolina. You can search my website for Georgia Fire Fighters and South Carolina to read these stories. I also met so many wonderful people I would not have met otherwise.

In case you are new to my website, here is a brief summary. In 2010 I had four operations between January and August. I have had cancer four times, colon cancer, colon rectal cancer and also skin cancer. After having these what I hope are my last four operations, my body felt the complications of the surgeries and in June 2011 I decided to take early retirement, get in my camper van and travel around the country rather than working for another two years and then hoping I would be able to travel. I am so glad I didn’t wait two years. Physically, it was tough sitting at a desk all day so I decided to retire and enjoy my life and whatever I was physically able to do. A few days after my last day at work in June 2011 I got in my camper and headed north and then west.

I went to AAA and got a map and had a tentative route and places I wanted to go to. I was flexible and didn’t have reservations anywhere so I could let my gypsy spirit wander wherever it wanted to go. If you read my website beginning in June 2011 and advancing forward you can travel with me on this amazing journey. I also have a few stories and albums that were not on this journey since 2011, but previously like Bryce Canyon National Park, Zion National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, and Glacier National Park which I had the opportunity to visit in 2005, 2006, and 2009. I am so glad I went to those when I did because I was in good health then and could hike many of the trails, even the difficult ones. If I had waited until I retired in 2011 I couldn’t have done that. My activities were limited due to my physical condition and the intense pain I was in. Some days I was okay and could drive and do short hikes, other days I stayed where I was and sometimes cried because I hurt so bad.

Today, thanks to changes in my eating habits, exercising, and my attitude which I feel plays an important part, I feel better, my pain is lessened, and even though I am not making long trips like I did in previous years I feel better and can enjoy life. Every day I have so much to be grateful for, even the physically challenging days. I can always find things to be grateful for no matter what is happening or how I am feeling. If you search my website for the word Lois you will read about this remarkable woman who had a positive significant impact on my life in 1988 and 1989 until she died. She always asked me what I am grateful for. She had 1/3 of a lung and had oxygen and was confined to her bed for the last 6 years of her life. If she laid really still she could breathe most days fairly easily. She would tell me to stand up, take two steps, and say Thank You God, I can walk, talk, and breathe at the same time. It’s hard to not be grateful when a woman in bed on oxygen tells me that, when I can walk, talk, and breathe on my own without oxygen and confined to bed.

In some of my posts I wrote about my health issues. I didn’t want to make it the main focus of my website, I wanted the travels and what I did to be the main focus. However, after a couple of years of traveling after retirement, one of my close friends who also has cancer and several major health issues told me that I need to include my health issues and challenges in my posts to let other people know that even thought there are serious health issues, that many of us can still lead productive and active lives. Yes, we may have to modify or curtail our travels and activities sometimes, but we can still be active and accomplish things. So, I went back and added some wording at the beginning of my stories in 2011 about my health issues and I do write about it every now and then.

It looks like I won’t be going to Albuquerque this year, it’s the same situation as last year. The new volunteer coordinator told me the only way I could get RV hookups and electricity is if I spend 6 weeks working in the RV area. I don’t want to do that for several reasons. Besides some personality issues with the RV people, I wouldn’t have the flexibility or freedom to crew on a balloon, volunteer at the Balloon Discovery Tent, or other events or parties. I would mostly be stuck in a booth registering RVers. Or if I go to do the things I like such as crewing and volunteering, I would have to dry camp for about 2 weeks. I have done that my first 3 years volunteering at Balloon Fiesta and I don’t want to do that again. It’s too hard on me physically. I would have to run my generator to keep my batteries charged so I could have lights, or heat or air conditioning. There is much more to it, but it’s not something I want to drive almost 6,000 miles round trip to do. I guess I need to just be grateful that I was able to achieve completing many items on my bucket list in 2011, one of which was going to the Albuquerque International Balloon Festival, and I volunteered there for 6 years. Maybe I will be able to volunteer there again, if not, it’s okay. I also volunteered at a few other balloon events and it was also great fun and wonderful experiences.

So, I am considering going to work at Hurricane Creek Farms in Havana, Florida, about 15 miles north of Tallahassee, like I did last year for two and a half months. Lorri and her parents told me I am always welcome to come back there, and I feel good being there and helping them. I have a few stories I wrote last July through September when I was there at the farm.

As usual, this story is longer than I started it out to be. It seems once I start writing my stories they seem to take on a life of their own, time seems to just happen and I have no concept of how long I am typing. I just looked at the clock and it’s about 4 hours after I started writing this story and adding pictures and finalizing the previous story. I had no idea this post would be this long or include what is written. As I type it seems that stories want to be told and they just get written and I am the instrument that the spirits use for their message to be written. I know that sounds strange. If I hadn’t had so many unexplained situations and God stories happen I would question what I wrote about stories wanting to be told. However, through my experiences I know that unexpectedly things happen, or something that I share is needed to be heard by someone, or something someone shares with me is just what I needed to hear. So, as I wrote this post when the story took a side trip and something wanted to be written about or shared I just went with it and let it have it’s say even though it was not anything I planned to write about.

Well, that being said, I need to go put something up to cook for dinner so I will end this post here. I hope you have a great day and enjoy every moment. I once read… Life each day as if it’s your last, one of these days you are going to be right.  Og Mandino wrote: Here is a test to find out if your mission on Earth is accomplished… If you are still alive it isnt.

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January and February 2019 Happenings

I recently realized I haven’t written anything on my website since November. Other than going to the gym five days a week doing the Silver Sneakers classes for about an hour or so each day, I have been baking and cooking and doing errands. I still have days when my pain is intense and my activities are limited, or I veg out on the sofa. I try not to give in to it very often, but some days I have to. I still have my tumor causing complications.

I am still cooking and baking almost everything I eat, including bread and pasta. Not only does the food taste better than processed food, but, I know what I am eating, the quality of the food, and I can pronounce everything in each item.

It does take a bit longer to prepare meals sometimes, however, it’s well worth the effort. I usually cook enough for several meals and often freeze a lot of it in Food Saver bags so it stays fresh and it’s easy to reheat and it doesn’t get freezer burnt. I was putting food in freezer bags and it wasn’t staying very well. I realized I have an older Food Saver machine and decided to start using it again. Not only does it save space in my freezer and keep my food from getting freezer burnt, but I can put it in either boiling water or my sous vide bath to cook or reheat and it tastes much better.

Two of my neighbors don’t cook much so I make extra and give them meals. They enjoy having a home cooked meal and it gives me something to do. Since I am cooking and baking anyway, I just make larger portions. Instead of making the same things all the time I look for new recipes. It’s a fun challenge to find recipes, there are so many websites to look at and I keep finding ones I haven’t seen or heard of before. Some days my search is to find a recipe to use up some food I have handy. Other times I make up recipes using things I have on hand. I am also learning to save cooking liquids to use later on. For example, if I cook potatoes I save the potato water. It’s great to use in bread dough, soups, stews, etc. I also save the liquid from cooking fruit or canned fruit and use it instead of water in recipes. This makes other dishes I make more flavorful.

My 5 quart KitchenAid bowl lift stand mixer is an old Hobart brand KitchenAid from the early 1980s, so is my food grinder attachment. It still works great. A few weeks ago I bought a chuck roast and ground the meat to make hamburgers. It was great. I knew the ground meat was from one piece of meat and I knew how much fat was in it, not very much, just enough to give flavor and hold patty together.

In November, I saw a really good price on a 6 quart KitchenAid bowl lift stand mixer with a few beaters, so I bought it so I can make more than one batch of food items at a time since it’s a larger and more powerful mixer. I am really enjoying using my new mixer, I still use the older one for smaller batches. I want to grind more foods and chicken, meat, cheeses, etc. I also want to make sausages and I found out the sausage attachments now won’t work on my old grinder attachment. So I bought a new KitchenAid metal food grinder kit with sausage stuffing nozzles. I also bought several other attachments so that I could do much more with the KitchenAid mixers. I bought the sheet cutter attachments so that I could cut sheets of fruits and vegetables, the slicer and shredder attachments, and the 5 piece pasta roller and cutter set.

The first time I used the grinder attachment to grind my meat I used the old Hobart grinder since it was before I bought the new grinder attachment which has sausage maker nozzles. The pusher for the food was not something I had anymore, not sure what happened to it. I gave this attachment to my mom and when she passed away two years ago I took it back and the pusher was missing. Anyway, I thought I would use the back of one of my silicone spoons to push the meat into the grinder and I thought I was not putting it down very far to touch the grinder. I guess I misjudged one time that I was pushing the meat because when I took the spoon out to put in more meat, I noticed the end of the spoon was missing. So I stopped the mixer and took the grinder apart and found a half inch piece of my spoon intact. So I reassembled my grinder and put a piece of blue tape on the handle of my spoon so I would not push it into the grinder any more. Thankfully, no part of the spoon was in the meat and I was able to make a delicious meat loaf. I also made another batch of ground meat a while ago and I used a chuck roast and mixed it with boneless country pork ribs. It gave just enough fat to bind the meat together and the flavor was really delicious. I made nachos with some of the meat, and the rest went into meatballs and a meatloaf. I gave my neighbors some and they loved it. There was almost no fat in the pans after the meat was cooked.


Recently at a thrift store, I saw a hand cranked Marcato Atlas 150 pasta maker set for sale. I went home and did some research on hand cranked pasta machines and found out this one is the number one machine so I went back and bought it. I called the company for an instruction manual since there wasn’t one in the box. After talking with Lisa I learned that this machine was made in 1987 and it has stainless steel rollers. I watched some videos online and read several articles and then made some pasta dough in my Kitchenaid and rolled it out on my Marcato. I felt so proud, it came out looking nice and tasting great. Lasagna was high on my list to make… It was wonderful. A few weeks later they had another Marcato Atlas 150 for sale, made in January 1983 so I bought it as a spare and it came in handy when a friend came over and we made gluten free pasta for her. Lisa at Marcato has been really helpful to me and has given me great tips for maintaining and using the machine, and sending me recipes and a crank handle that was missing for the second one I bought. When I started making crackers and crust for my pot pies I use the pasta maker.

I realized I really like making pasta and crackers and using the pasta maker. It relaxes me and I like the feeling of handling the dough and transforming it into something I can eat that is delicious and nutritious. It’s quiet and tranquil rolling out and cutting the dough. After making a few batches of crackers I found ways to make it easier, I also read helpful tips in online articles. I bought a few types of wheels to help cut the dough so crackers look nice and uniform. My first attempt at crackers had odd shaped crackers, now they come out round or square. My potato cheese pierogies look professional too, and also taste good.

Now that I have made numerous batches of crackers, I have found a way to make them look like real crackers and also a way to make them in less time. It involves using parchment paper, the pasta roller attachment, and a hand cutting device that scores the dough so that after I bake it in long sheets, the crackers break on the scored lines. Crackers can go from not quite baked to the correct color to burnt within a minute, so I have to watch them closely. In the pictures below I’m sure you can see the progression of my cracker baking. I also made some herb flat bread which came out really great on the first try, I made nachos with it using my fresh ground beef and they were the best nachos!!!!

I saw a good sale on the KitchenAid pasta roller and cutter set and after giving it much thought and doing research, I decided to spend the money and purchase the 5 part attachment set of a roller and four cutters to make pasta using the KitchenAid mixer. I still use my Marcato hand crank pasta maker because it works better for some things like cracker or flatbread dough because I can control the dough and stop quickly if I need to. I can also go in reverse, which I cannot do with the automatic KitchenAid roller. I am finding that it works great having the two KitchenAid mixers when I make pasta. I can attach the roller attachment to one machine, and put the cutter for spaghetti or a different shape on the other machine.

I made carrot pasta dough, spinach pasta dough, and egg pasta dough, and I saw on a website how to make striped pasta dough, and also how to roll fresh herbs into the dough by sandwiching it between two layers of dough and rolling it out. So, of course I tried and accomplished both of these tasks and of course the pasta tasted delicious!!! I decided to start selling some of my pasta so that other people can enjoy fresh pasta. It tastes so much better than the store bought pasta and it cooks faster as well.

The KitchenAid pasta attachments work great, it’s not quiet like the manual machine, however, there are some benefits to using it. And it saves some time. I still use my Marcato too. Using the KitchenAid attachment let’s me have two hands to feed and catch the dough since I don’t have to use one hand to crank the machine. Hand cranking does have some benefits because I can control the speed I feed the dough and can back it up if I need to, or I can stop it if I need to adjust dough. The KitchenAid is higher so the dough hangs down and gives me more space to catch the dough. The Marcato is counter height. I love both machines and use them both often. They serve different purposes and for the crackers and several other things I make the hand crank machine works better than the electric roller since I can stop it immediately if needed.

A few months ago I bought a 5.8 quart Kili air fryer and I love using it. This brand has a large basket which allows me to cook a good size portion of food. It’s also very quiet and I don’t hear it running. I use this almost every day to cook or reheat food. I am experimenting and making up new recipes not only for the air fryer but for regular stove and oven cooking and baking. I have some favorite recipes that I make often. And I keep finding new recipes and ways to use the air fryer. Even though I hesitated buying it for quite a long time, I am so glad that I finally bought one. I found a recipe for avocado fries and they are a delicious treat to eat and very easy to make. I found lots of websites for air fryer recipes including one that has 150 recipes, that’s where I found the avocado fry recipe.

I read some tips on how to use the air fryer and found several that have been very helpful and I found a few of my own. Here are some of the ways I found to make using the air fryer easier: Put a piece of parchment or baking paper between the fryer basket and the drawer the basket fits into and also instead of using a non-stick spray in the basket (this will leave a residue) wipe the basket on both sides of the bottom of the basket and also the inside sides with some oil on a paper towel. This way there will be less chance of food sticking, and having the parchment paper in the bottom will catch the drippings, crumbs, etc. and make it easier to clean the tray. After burning my arm a few times trying to get food out of the air fryer basket, I started using long tongs with silicone ends. Lift the food out of the basket, don’t pour it out of the basket. If you pour it out you will also pour out any crumbs or grease that is in the basket. I use my air fryer often, including using it to reheat foods. I sometimes use a small dish in it to hold my food or I will sometimes put my food on a piece of foil, these tips save me sometimes from washing out the basket.

I have made large trays of lasagna several times during the past few months. Using homemade lasagna pasta and fresh ground meat that I grind, makes the lasagna taste so much better than boxed pasta and store bought ground beef. I even started making my own crackers that taste like Wheat Thins and Ritz crackers, they aren’t salty like store bought crackers. Double batches don’t last long. I share my baked goods with other people to share and the feedback they give me is always favorable. I also made cookies that are similar to the store bought Milano cookies, and they came out really good and looked like the store bought ones, and I filled them with chocolate peppermint filling.

I have made so many batches of wheat thin crackers that I have found short cuts and easy ways to make the crackers and they look like store bought ones and taste better, and they are not salty. The surprise ingredients that I didn’t think would go together are what makes the wheat thin crackers taste like the store bought ones. It’s a combination of a small amount of vanilla extract and paprika powder. I also use smoked paprika which is my new favorite spice to use in many dishes I cook. I made one of my favorite desserts… chocolate, chocolate chip, cheesecake cupcakes. I make them in a mini muffin pan and freeze them so I can snack on them for a while. The recipe is on Handle the Heat. The crescent cookies below are almond paste cookies which I dipped in chocolate after they were baked. These are are also very good.  And I love using my Curtis Stone dura bake baking sheets because like all of his other cookware and bakeware, nothing sticks.

I’m really having fun experimenting with new recipes, and just making up recipes using different ingredients. I received permission to plant some herbs and vegetables in the flower bed where I live, so I planted lots of different herbs and some vegetables like lettuce and celery, and tomatoes. I started seeds for spinach, swiss chard, tomatoes, and dill, and I also planted some more tumeric. I planted some tumeric last summer and harvested a batch in January. I bought a tomato plant that had lots of flowers, however, the plant only grew about 6 or 7 tomatoes which are about 2 inches in diameter. I harvested the tomatoes this past week and they tasted really good. This is the herb and vegetable garden when it was first planted. It has really grown since then and I am using the herbs frequently. The seedlings of the zucchini and swiss chard have grown enough that I planted them in the garden and the San Marzano tomato plants are about ready to be planted too.

On You Tube I saw videos on how to grow citrus trees from seed, and also how to grow potatoes in flower pots or containers so these are going to be my new attempts at growing food. When I lived in Texas I had a house and I planted about 40 different herbs in my garden. So, even though this space is smaller, I am utilizing the space as best as I can and I am enjoying going down to get fresh herbs when I cook and now the zucchini plants have flowers and hopefully will produce squash. I told my neighbors they can use the herbs and eat the lettuce. It’s really cool to see the celery grow, I never grew celery before. Every morning I drink a glass of celery juice which I make in my Vitamix and it’s helped me feel better and have energy. So when my celery grows enough to use it I will do that rather than buying it in the grocery store.

Here are pictures of my garden, these are taken about a month or so after it was planted. The plants inside the store circle are tumeric and the plant with the flowers is zucchini. The zucchini, swiss chard, and tomato plants in the photos below are seeds that I grew that show as dirt in the pots in the above pictures. Several of the herbs like the peppermint, oregano, and thyme are now becoming a great ground cover in the flower bed. And when I water the garden it smells so nice. The rosemary, basil, lemon verbena, lemon grass, and lemon balm all have really nice fragrances.

I saw several articles and TV shows where people were talking about the benefit of drinking celery juice first thing in the morning and not having any other food or liquids for at least 15 minutes afterward. I started this on February 1st and within 3 days I realized I have more energy and feel better. I also started adding some smoothies into my routine. I recently bought a new Vitamix and also the AER container, and the dry grain container so I can make my own flour or chop nuts, etc. I make my own nut butters in the Vitamix and it tastes so much better than store bought and I can control the oil in it. The AER container makes frothy drinks and other things. I made strawberry lemonade which came out really delicious with lots of pulp, and it left the rind whole, it only took the pulp of the fruit into the liquid. I also made orange lemonade with fresh oranges and Meyer’s lemons. Lots of pulp in the juice.

I also added fresh or powdered tumeric into my food, and I found out that adding fresh cracked black pepper to the tumeric enhances the benefits of the tumeric about 2000 percent. It has something in it that allows our bodies to absorb the tumeric more fully. And I also started using Matcha green tea powder, including making butter cookies with it. So, after drinking my celery juice, I wait a while and then eat some homemade yogurt with tumeric, black pepper, Matcha powder, and fruit. I am finding that most of the time in addition to more energy, my pain is decreasing most of the time which is a big blessing for me. I am not saying it’s totally gone, but a lot of days it’s lessened. Here is some tumeric I harvested recently from tubers I planted last summer. I have some more growing now that should be ready to harvest in the fall. Tumeric can be grown in flower pots, that’s how I planted my first batch which is what you see here. I am hoping to get another great harvest from the tumeric plants that are in the stone circle in the pictures further up in this post.

Like I wrote above, I am experimenting with different foods and recipes. Last time I made pasta I took some fresh parsley from my flower bed and sandwiched it between two layers of pasta. I also saw on a website about using different flavored and colored pasta dough to make striped pasta. My neighbor Nikki came over and we made pasta and other things together and she took some pictures of me making the pasta. The pictures are higher up in this story.

I now only do one craft show a year, it’s in mid-February. The lady in the next booth did face painting and I had her paint my face both days. I left it up to her what to paint. I think I look terrible in photos, but I am posting these anyway. I have only had my face painted one other time that I remember. It was quite a few years ago at a pow wow and it was a small feather. She is very talented and I loved seeing the faces of the children she painted. These face painting designs are quite different. Also, one of the ladies at the craft show made lamp shades and she gave me permission to post the photos. She gets her ideas online. A man came by the booth and I loved the saying on his shirt and asked if I could take a picture of it. I am still crocheting baby blankets for the NICU at a local hospital, in the past two years I have donated almost 900 blankets. I started to sell them at this craft show asking people if they wanted to buy one to take, or buy one and write a note donating it in honor or memory of someone and several people did that. I use the money to buy more yarn to make more baby blankets to donate.

I am going to leave this part of my post in this story because it sort of relates to the info above, but I am also creating a March post using this part of my story and add more details, and I will add pictures and links to the March post I am going to be writing. So please go to the March Happenings story to see the pictures and updates to the rest of this post.

My newest venture seemed to have just happened automatically and I guess it’s the new direction my life seems to be taking. I wrote above about making food for my neighbors that don’t cook, and about all the new things I bought to make it more convenient for me to cook my own foods from scratch. Not only does everything I eat taste better, but it’s more natural and I know exactly what is in my food. There are no hidden chemicals or ingredients or ones not necessary, like preservatives so that the shelf life can be months or years. I was at Aldi in February and they had food dehydrators on sale and I was wanting one for a while. When I am in Texas at my friends they have a garden and fruit trees and I prepare their fruit and vegetables and put them in their dehydrator. I decided to buy this small dehydrator, and as always when I do something, I get carried away.

I bought lots of different fruits and also some Roma tomatoes and I dried them. It’s been a lot of work, but the rewards are great. I can now eat fruit. Because of my Illeostomy I am limited to what I can eat. I can’t eat a lot of fiber. So, if I want to eat fruit I can only have a little, then if I put it in the fridge I sometimes forget about it, or don’t eat it fast enough and it goes bad and I have to throw it away. Now, by drying the fruit I can eat a piece or two or even more of dried fruit. I have to be careful to chew it well and drink lots of water, but it’s still a treat to eat a slice of mango, or a pear, etc.

At the craft show there was a lady across from my booth that was selling jams. She told me that I could sell my dried fruit legally under the Cottage Industry Law which is legal in Florida and other states. I have a lot of different types of fruit already dry that I have done in the past 3 weeks. After looking at the website for Florida Cottage Industry requirements, I asked my friend Deb to help me create labels for my fruit and we did it together yesterday. Deb is so creative and we had fun creating these lovely labels which fit perfectly on the snack size baggies I put my fruit in. It’s amazing how much liquid is in fruit and the amount of weight that is lost by evaporation. The reason I decided to dry my own fruit and some vegetables is when I went to buy some at the stores, the ingredients list the fruit, but also sugar, oil, preservatives, salt, and other things. I just want fruit. My dried fruit is only fruit, nothing else.

So, I decided since I have so much more fruit dried than I can eat, I will sell some if anyone wants to buy it. The flavor of the fruit is so intense because it’s concentrated. My next project will be to try drying vegetables other than tomatoes which I think are considered a fruit. Also, as different fruits are in season I will add them to my list of fruits to dry. Right now, other than Roma tomatoes, I have bananas, red pears, mangoes, strawberries, blueberries, oranges, blood oranges, Meyer’s lemons, pineapple, apples, lemons, and I may start making some pasta to sell. Fresh pasta, or even my dried pasta tastes so much better than hard store bought pasta.

Since I am cooking more, and freezing portions of food for myself to eat later on, instead of putting the portions of food in freezer bags where it drys out if I don’t eat it quickly, I am using my Food Saver machine to freeze the portions of food. I just stocked up on more Food Saver bags so I don’t run out. It’s nice to take something out of the freezer at the last minute, put it in boiling water, since I don’t have a microwave, and in about 15 or 20 minutes I have hot food that tastes like I just made it. And now I am not throwing away food because it’s freezer burnt.

I have written several times over the past few years about the medical alert bracelet that I wear from a company called ID ON ME. It’s the best medical alert, or ID bracelet or tag, that I have found. It’s not engraved, it has a compartment that holds a piece of strong, non-tear type paper that has room to write lots of information. I bought some to give as gifts to friends who have medical conditions and should wear one. In fact, even if I didn’t have a medical condition, I would wear the ID one. I have a habit of walking and not taking any ID with me. Or if I am at the gym or somewhere and something unexpected happened no one would know who I was maybe, or who to contact. This way I have important info on me whenever I am away from home. I am not getting any perks or paid for posting this information, I feel strongly that we need to be prepared for the unexpected. After spending many hours looking for a bracelet that would hold the information I wanted on me, I came upon this site.

Also, any products I mention above that I am using, is only my opinion, I did not receive any products from any company, nor was I asked to review anything. I like to cook and those of you reading my posts are mostly my friends and you like to know what I am doing and what I’ve been up to.

It looks like I won’t be going to Albuquerque this year, it’s the same situation as last year. The new volunteer coordinator told me the only way I could get RV hookups and electricity is if I spend 6 weeks working in the RV area. I don’t want to do that for several reasons. Besides some personality issues with the RV people, I wouldn’t have the flexibility or freedom to crew on a balloon, volunteer at the Balloon Discovery Tent, or other events or parties. I would mostly be stuck in a booth registering RVers. Or if I go to do the things I like such as crewing and volunteering, I would have to dry camp for about 2 weeks. I have done that my first 3 years volunteering at Balloon Fiesta and I don’t want to do that again. It’s too hard on me physically. I would have to run my generator to keep my batteries charged so I could have lights, or heat or air conditioning. There is much more to it, but it’s not something I want to drive almost 6,000 miles round trip to do. So, I am considering going to work at Hurricane Creek Farms in Havana, Florida, about 15 miles north of Tallahassee, like I did last year for two and a half months. Lorri and her parents told me I am always welcome to come back there, and I feel good being there and helping them. I have a few stories I wrote last July through September when I was there at the farm.

Well, I guess that’s about it for now. My goal for today was to add to this story which I started several weeks ago, and to download the pictures on my phone to my computer so they can be added to this story so you can see some pictures of the food I have been making. I accomplished some of my goal. Photos are on my computer, so they can be deleted off of my phone, thus freeing up some space on my phone’s memory, and I did add a lot, more than I planned to, in my post.

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