snow day

When it’s snowing and Banjo Man has put Texas two-step music in the cd player and your mother is making blueberry pancakes…

YOU DANCE!!!!!

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Oh, the joy of it!  Years ago I arranged two-step and swing lessons for my sons, husband and daughter.  We had a private two-hour lesson up in the city.

Daughter Nancy was a natural.  The only natural.

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it’s a colorful world

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It’s Mystery Quilt time again, thanks to Bonnie Hunter (quilter, teacher, blogger) and her annual quilt-along.


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Lots of pretty blues, both light and dark.

I like the colors.  The quilt will end up being mostly blues and whites/creams, with touches of raspberry and mint green.

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I have no idea if I will finish it in 2020 or not, but I’m optimistic.  I’m also trying to finish up 2017’s Mystery Quilt before leaving for Austin for Christmas.  I will then have three quilt tops to baste and quilt in January.

Raise your hand if you need a quilt!

 

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is something wrong?

I ask this question because I really want to know.  

Because, well, cancer.  I think about less and less these days.  Those months of terror are in the rear view mirror and sunnier skies are ahead.  Whatever the future brings so be it.  Banjo Man and I are going to enjoy ourselves and be grateful we’re still together.

But…several years ago I knew something was wrong with me.  I was so tired.  Unnaturally so.  I began to ration my trips down to the lake and back up the hill.  I worried I was getting too old for the trek up and down.  I fell asleep in the living room chair every chance I got.  I no longer wanted to stroll along the streets of Austin or walk on the treadmill on winter mornings at home.

I was very pale, no matter how much make up I wore.  Summer was my friend, and the “sun glow” that you’re not supposed to subject your skin to was welcome.  But otherwise I was sickly white.

I assumed my CVS cosmetics were to blame.  So I bought blusher from an expensive make up stall at the Baltimore airport.  It immediately evaporated into my ghostly skin.  I complained the next time I was at that airport and the bored salesgirls looked baffled.  I found “cheek stain”, which stayed on but was a bit clownish if I wasn’t careful.

“I’m dying,” I would inwardly declare.  I knew it but I never said it aloud.

I attacked my closets and cleaned out decades of stuff I’d collected.  In 2018 finished seven quilts so that my kids wouldn’t have to deal with my unfinished projects.  I bought labels with my name printed on them so everyone would know I had made them.

And yes, I went to doctors.  I never got dramatic and said, “I’m dying and I don’t know why” to them, but I complained about being tired and pale and worn out.  They all tried to be helpful.  There were blood tests (many) and an EKG and (annual) mammograms and medications and B-12 shots.  I was reminded that I wasn’t getting any younger, that I needed to exercise more, maybe it was my thyroid or my metabolism.  I gave up sugar and carbs and lived on 900 calories a day so I could lose weight and therefore have more energy.

Nothing worked.  I was dying and I knew it.

So I then assumed it was my heart and inside of me was a ticking bomb.  I was going to insist on every cardiac test that existed at my next annual check up.

But that exam never happened, because instead I showed up at the doctor’s office with the–finally–obvious symptom of breast cancer.   And it was a pretty damn big symptom, too.  For weeks the doctors said it was 2 cm. but that was only the tip of the iceberg.  The tumor would end up being 6.5 cm, shocking the medical experts.  All the pathology showed it was a very slow-growing tumor though.  A woman in the exact same situation as me said her doctor told her that hers had most likely been growing for ten years.

The morning after my surgery, Banjo Man arrived in my room and stared.  “Are you wearing make up???”

“No.  For heaven’s sake.”  I’d barely managed to brush my teeth.

“You have color in your face,” he explained.  “Do you think it’s because the cancer is gone?”

We stared at each other.  And then I cried.

The damn evil thing had been sucking the life out of me for God only knows how long.  And nobody could find it.  And because I’d always had yearly mammograms I never dreamed that breast cancer was the issue.

So…this is a long-winded way of saying that if you have that terrible dread in your gut or that little whisper in your head, please see your doctor.   See three doctors.  Or more.  Keep going until someone figures it out and helps you.

Trust your gut, the warning that something is wrong.

Because, despite tests and drugs and vitamin supplements, you need to believe what your body is trying to tell you.

I wish you all a healthy year ahead.

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Having fun with Banjo Man before it all hit the fan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in family, rhode island, the cancer fight | 3 Comments

my life right now

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Seen on Pinterest.

When I am not exercising or going to physical therapy or sewing, I am resting (okay, napping) on the couch.  A lovely mindless Hallmark Christmas movie plays on the tv as I snooze, stretched out on the couch by the fireplace and snuggled in a fleece blanket.

I’ve been told by the experts that this post-radiation exhaustion is normal and could last for months.  So I’ve stopped complaining (for the most part) and have accepted that this is my life for the time being.

I remind myself I’m getting rested up for next summer at the lake.

 

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our tree

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After much deliberation and a little bit of angst, we decided not to put up our Christmas tree this year.  We wouldn’t have had a lot of time to enjoy it because we are heading to Austin to spend Christmas with the Funny Grandson, etc.  And truthfully, we are just too weary to make the effort.

But Banjo Man lit up a tree at the end of one of his stone walls last weekend.  This picture was taken before yesterday’s storm, but it’s pretty shining on the snow, too.

Let the season begin…

 

 

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gasbarro’s wines

Oh, does Banjo Man love to shop here!

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One Saturday afternoon while My French Friend Janou was visiting, we headed up to the city to Federal Hill for an Italian lunch and some Italian shopping and and Italian Wine Tasting.

Gasbarro’s does this almost every Saturday afternoon.

We tried at least seven different wines and enjoyed ourselves thoroughly.

I amused myself by reading the descriptions on the bottles.  Here’s the one that made me laugh out loud.

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Graham crackers???  Spiced cranberry???  Really????

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I didn’t buy a bottle.  But it made me laugh so I probably should have.

 

Posted in family, rhode island, shopping | 2 Comments

the wintry mix

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Yesterday afternoon’s view from the office as the storm began.

Okay, I get it:  it’s winter.

Sigh.

So far we’ve had snow, sleet and rain.  And lots of wind.  The forecast is for a few inches of snow this afternoon and tonight and into tomorrow morning.

Pretty puny storm compared with the western part of the United States.  Here on the coast we get a lot of those “wintry mix” forecasts from the weathermen.

So this is Cyber Monday and I have a gazillion emails in the inbox this morning from companies wanting me to order something–anything–at 20-40% off.  From quilting fabric (which I have too much of) to CBD creams (which I have never ordered online) to Michael’s (a coupon a day until the end of time) to…Kohl’s.

Now Banjo Man is fascinated with Kohl’s.  Early last week I had a “40% off everything” coupon emailed to me, plus I had $30 in Kohl’s Cash that had to be used.  So I asked Banjo Man if he needed anything at Kohl’s before my $30 expired.  His face lit up.

“I could use a couple of turtlenecks,” he crowed.  “I’ll drive you!”

(I love it when he says that.  I can spend my limited energy on driving OR shopping, but doing both is exhausting unless it’s first thing in the morning when I’m exceptionally peppy.)

So as soon as his work day was over, off we went.  First stop was Home Depot to check on something to do with wood (I have no idea what–I zoned out and waited in the car) and then to an Italian grocery store a client had told him about–I zoned out and bought a cookie–and finally to Kohl’s.

We split up, as I was looking for a skinny down vest and doing a little Christmas shopping.  I found my vest right away (on sale of course from $70 to $29.99) and ended up agonizing over buying a robe for my mother.  I texted pictures of the robes to my daughter for her opinion and then I broke into a sweat, because my mother is notorious for not liking anything.  I had already purchased four white turtlenecks for her (she likes those) so I gave up on buying a robe and went to find Banjo Man.

He stood at the end of an aisle, a bunch of clothes in his arms, a sheepish expression on his face.  He loves clothes.

The guy at the register was amazed at my 40% off coupon when I pulled out my phone and showed it to him.  Our haul of a down vest, three sweaters and three turtlenecks ended up costing $53.  As I explained to an incredulous Banjo Man, if you took out my $30 vest, his new clothes cost $23.

So last night on the couch he saw a 20% ad for Kohl’s plus Kohl’s Cash Back ($15 for every $50 spent) and started doing the math.  I added that I had $15 Kohl’s Cash and a $10 coupon, which just about sent him over the edge.  Visions of sweaters and kitchen appliances danced in his head.

“This means if we spent $100 it would only cost us $25.”

I pointed towards the front windows where the sleet was hitting.

“We are not going anywhere tomorrow,” I said.  “Do you hear the wind?  Have you looked outside?  Haven’t you heard about the wintry mix?”

Oh, the disappointment!  He’ll just have to put on a new turtleneck and a new sweater and let the last of the Black Friday sales and Cyber Monday pass him by.

Stay warm, everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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turkey troubles and a lovely day

BEFORE:

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AFTER:

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Thanksgiving 2019.

Yes, we had a happy group around the table!

We’d all had our doubts as to whether this would happen this year, but everyone pitched in and made it work!  I never even had to sit down on the couch and rest.  Can you believe it?  Fabulous!!!!

I was determined to do as much ahead of time as humanly possible.  Banjo Man set up the tables on Sunday.  Nancy and I decorated them on Tuesday.  My French Friend Janou and I had made and frozen the potato and spinach casseroles last month.

Mayme would bring appetizers and a sweet potato casserole.  Wendy was to arrive with my favorite green bean casserole.  Ginny would bring three–three!–desserts.  Oh, the joy!

Which left the turkey, gravy and stuffing.  I combed Pinterest for recipes and advice on making dressing in the crock pot and creating do-ahead gravy.  I bought a 14-pound Butterball turkey and two 8-pound generic turkey breasts.  The whole turkey would be roasted on Wednesday and the drippings from it would make the gravy, which I would make on Wednesday and then reheat in my little crock pot for Thursday’s dinner.  This would eliminate getting up early to put a huge turkey in the oven on Thursday (hurray for sleeping late!) and I wouldn’t be standing at the stove stirring gravy at the last minute.

Oh, it was a good plan.  Until…the turkey had no juice.  Seriously, there was maybe 2/3 cup of drippings and 1/3 cup of fat.  I had basted it with plenty of butter, but where did it go?  That’s a mystery.

This had never happened before.  I cobbled together a gravy with Swanson’s chicken broth and a homemade roux (a Pinterest tip) and it wasn’t all that good.  I cried.

Then I asked Banjo Man to cut up the turkey so we could get rid of the carcass and put the legs, thighs and breasts in a pan to be reheated on Thursday for anyone who wanted dark meat or we ran out of white meat.

When I returned to the kitchen he informed me that the legs and thighs were undercooked. 

This had never happened before either, not in 49 years of turkey-cooking.  What the hell was going on?  I had used a thermometer, I swear.

So now I was looking at a pan of lousy gravy, undercooked and dangerous thighs and legs, plus cooked breasts touching the undercooked food on the platter.

It was 7:00 at night and I was getting delirious.  I cried again.  Banjo Man suggested I go to bed.

I refused to leave the disaster site.

Banjo Man then suggested putting the legs, thighs and wings in a pot and boiling them for a new pot of gravy.  I took it one step further and put them in a crock pot with water and cooked those suckers all night long.  I put the breasts in the freezer to think about another day.  And then I went to bed, doom and gloom and self-loathing following me down the hall.

I am not kidding.

The next morning I had a better attitude.  The two giant turkey breasts went in the oven, cooked nicely for two and a half hours and–surprise!–produced vats of juice.  I made the gravy the way I had always made the gravy and it was delicious.  The addition of the broth from the turkey parts made all the difference, I’m sure.

Thanksgiving was absolutely wonderful.  The foods, friends, family?  I am filled with gratitude.  It was such a special day.

WHAT I LEARNED FOR NEXT YEAR:

I will never cook another whole turkey.  Breasts are the way to go.  I had taken a poll ahead of time and learned that everyone liked white meat the best so doing it this way didn’t disappoint anyone.

I’ll buy turkey legs and/or wings and cook them in the crock pot for juice.  I can do it ahead and freeze the broth because you can never have too much.

I will cook the dressing in the buttered crock pot again.  It was great and freed up a section of the oven.  I used Pepperidge Farm stuffing mix and added chopped and sauteed onions, celery and apples to it, along with chicken broth.

I will no longer try any Pinterest gravy-making techniques and will stick to my old-fashioned method, because I am old and old-fashioned and I clearly am in no position to conquer something new.

I will buy cartons of turkey broth (seen in Aldi’s) as a back up because crying over a turkey is really idiotic.

I served the gravy straight from the small crock pot, set on the island buffet, so it stayed hot.  A big ladle made it easy for everyone to serve themselves without the gravy dripping from pitchers and gravy boats.  I will definitely do that again.

I am going to have my tablecloths pressed at the dry cleaners.  A little luxury, but well worth it.

So this Sunday morning, as the holiday comes to an end, there are still leftovers in the fridge.  I make myself wait until after 11 am to heat them up and relive Thanksgiving dinner all over again.  They are so good

Thanksgiving really is one of the best holidays ever.  We love it a lot.

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The dessert table presided over by my father’s leather turkey decoration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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thanksgiving 2019

We’re ready!  Turkeys are in the oven and the kitchen is clean.  Wine is cooling.  Drippings standing by to be made into gravy.  Tablecloths have been ironed and the pumpkins are looking cheerful, as they always do.

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We wish you all, our family and our friends, a wonderful Thanksgiving Day.  May it be filled with great food, friend, family, laughter, joy and lots of leftovers.

Love,
More Pie and Banjo Man

 

Posted in family, friends, rhode island | 4 Comments

the next dak prescott

I’ve received the Funny Grandson’s Christmas wish list and, as expected, it’s all about Dallas Cowboys football and football jerseys.  He owns a Dak Prescott jersey and would really, really like another team member’s, too.

The kid just finished up his “flag football” season and hopes to play in a winter league.  Apparently he’s a quarterback.

Oh, my goodness.

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