Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Juvenile Diabetes: A followup

Last week I posted a link for recipes for people with Diabetes. I mentioned my niece who has Juvenile Diabetes (Type 1) and many of you emailed me privately, and also left comments asking why my nice doesn't use a pump to manage her diabetes. So, I emailed my sister and asked her to address this question, because while I knew she had a good reason why, I didn't exactly "know it" (my sister and her husband are really on the "cusp" of research, so she wouldn't NOT do the pump without a good reason). She is very knowledgeable about this disease, and has gone to great extent to micro-manage my nieces sugar levels... but many people are not aware of what "good numbers" are -- so here's a brief explanation (my own layman understanding) followed by my sister's answer to the whole pump question.

A blood glucose test measures the amount of glucose in the bloodstream. There are several different types of glucose tests:

  1. The 'fasting blood sugar' test checks glucose levels after an eight-hour fast and is often the first test performed when checking for diabetes. For this test, levels have to fall between 70 and 99 in order to be considered normal.
  2. The 'two-hour postprandial blood sugar' test measures glucose levels two hours after eating a meal. Normal glucose levels for this test fall between 70 and 145.
  3. Random and daily blood sugar testing checks glucose levels randomly throughout the day, regardless of meal times. Blood sugar levels should be between 70 and 125 in order to be considered normal for random testing.
  4. The A1c test is used primarily to monitor the glucose control of diabetics over time. It is NOT a fasting test and can be ordered at any time of the day. The A1c test is frequently ordered on newly diagnosed diabetics to help determine how elevated their uncontrolled blood glucose levels have been, and can the test results can tell how your blood glucose levels have been for the past three months. It may be ordered several times while control is being achieved, and then several times a year to verify that good control is being maintained (you can "fake out" a fasting blood sugar test, or even the random and daily blood sugar tests, but you can't "fake out" this test). The closer a diabetic can keep their A1c to 6%, the better their diabetes is in control.
In my sister's response below, she mentioned that my nieces blood sugar was close to 700 -- this is very bad, very dangerous. In Type 1 diabetes, ketoacidosis can occur whenever insulin delivery becomes interrupted for several hours on a pump, or after a day or so of missed injections. It can also occurs under the duress of an infection, and is also frequently present when a person first comes down with the disease between the time when they stop producing their own insulin and begin to inject insulin from the outside.


So -- now that you have probably more information than you care to digest... (which is helpful for anyone who suspects their child has juvenile diabetes, or for anyone who is just plain curious) here is an explanation from my sister in her own words as to why they do NOT use a pump (she writes very well!):

Adrianna (and many others in personal emails) said...

"Have we considered a pump?"

We have a pump!!!! But Lexi hates it. :( For some odd reason she takes issue to ANYTHING coming near her abdominal area. The infusion for the pump must be connected in this most sensitive (to her anyway) area. She was quite insulted when the nurse educator told her that this area is actually the least sensitive area. For three months we gave this pump a try but the only "rewards" we got was a miserable child who would literally cry for 2-3 hours each time we had to change the infusion. Worse, some mornings she would wake up and the infusion would have some type of "kink" leaving her with elevated blood sugars (happened too often) so we would have to quickly change the site before school (not a pleasant task).

We tried so, so hard to adjust to the pump. We all really wanted it to work! But her blood sugar averages had actually gone UP! Her average A1C (see above for an explanation) is 5.9 - 6.1 and she went up to 6.8 (low for most type 1's but high for her). However the final straw was when she woke up one morning and we found the infusion had at some point during her sleep, come out. Her blood sugar was close to 700 (again, see explanation of the dangers of this above). It took a period of 30 hours and HUGE amounts of insulin to finally bring it back under control. I had visions of DKA (she was close to death) and her diagnosis day (five years ago) floating through my mind..... "No Lord, not again!"

She was, of course, fine, but we thought maybe she/we aren't ready for the pump. So there it sits on the shelf... collecting dust ... the most expensive adornment in our home. How's that for a well spent $8,000. She actually doesn't mind the "pain" of the shots; just that the shots are a "pain in the neck."

We have such wonderful control of her diabetes because we dilute insulin so we can lower her blood sugar by as little as 10 points and she eats, for the most part a relatively low carb, or rather "right" carb, diet. She never eats more than 15 carbs at breakfast, 36 at lunch, and 24 at dinner. Of course, there are snacks and fun days and we find small treats to incorporate DAILY so there's no deprivation.

It's not fun, but it's manageable and y'all are so right when you say that diabetes care is so much better these days. My husband reminds me to be thankful that this is what she has, because it could be so much worse.


In closing, I just want to thank my sister for her response to this question. As an adult, 40 years old... I can personally say that there just isn't enough education on this horrible and currently in-curable disease. It is a life-changing condition that can NOT be ignored, whether it is juvenile diabetes or adult onset diabetes.

I read on a blog somewhere that saying you it's okay if you have just a little bit of diabetes is like saying it's okay if you have just a little bit of cancer. It's that serious, and awareness is the first step in keeping yourself and your children healthy.

As Americans, our diets deem to be so full of hidden sugars, refined sugars, flours, and so forth. We are, for the most part, a nation with un-healthy diets and eating habits. I don't know about you, but when it comes to my own diet, it pretty much sucks... I'm far more lax on what passes through my lips, and I'm quite cognizant of that. But when it comes to my child's diet -- I'm far more obsessed about making sure he eats healthy, because I don't want him to learn my own bad habits.

So, in closing... I want to throw out a few questions for all of you to think about. You can leave a thought or even a discussion with your answer(s) to these questions in my comment section, because honestly, I'd love to hear your thoughts!!

1. How do you feel about our nation's diet as a whole?
2. How do you feel about the nutrition in our schools?
3. What do you do to control your child's diet?
4. Do you find you are more strict on your child's food choices
than on your own?
5. How would you feel if you or your child were diagnosed with diabetes?
6. What types of healthy snacks do you give your family to enjoy?

Please leave a comment!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

WFMW: Links for Low Carb Recipes for Type-1 Diabetes

Works for me Wednesday is hosted by Shannon over at Rocks in my Dryer! Head on over for other valuable tips!

At the bottom of this post are a couple links I would like to share with you ... it is for all the moms, grandmas, sisters, aunts, or friends that have children with Type-1 Diabetes (Juvenile Diabetes) and are suddenly faced with having to change the way they cook. (link at bottom)

But first... It is very difficult to post something about Juvenile Diabetes and NOT make it a long post. There is so much to say on the subject. The most important point I'd like to make is ... be aware of your child and their everyday behaviors. Be aware of this silent but deadly disease. Know the symptoms. Sadly, one misconception is that children outgrow diabetes. They DO NOT. They are dependent on insulin the rest of their lives, and the only way out is by finding a cure! And friends, that totally stinks.

When you have a child in your family that is struck with Juvenile Diabetes (JD), your whole world is suddenly turned upside down, and the way you think about food changes -- immediately. And when you're the MOM (or Dad) of a child with JD, you suddenly become ferociously protective, and want to take harm (carbs) out of your child's life... really, all moms (and dads) feel like that, but when your child can't yet make wise decisions for themselves because of their young age, I think the Mom (or Dad) in you tends to take over more aggressively.

In my case, my sister's second oldest (out of 4) was diagnosed with JD almost 5 years ago. She was only 5 years old. It was a frightening moment. Time stood completely still for my dear sister as she stood beside her daughter battling for her life while she lay in the hospital in a diabetic coma. She was told to prepare for her daughters death. Words NO parent should have to hear coming out of a doctor's mouth.

My nice had Ketoacidosis, a condition directly related to Type-1 Diabetics (they are insulin dependent) who are not getting enough insulin. The Ketones (acids in your blood) build, and in essence, poison your body. This condition can be triggered any time the Ketones in your body are thrown off balance -- with a minor cold, the flu, an infection...

Here is a brief explanation about Type-1 Diabetes in my nieces words:

"When you have diabetes, your immune system attacks the pancreas and you are no longer able to make insulin. Insulin is the hormone that allows your body to convert the food you eat into energy. Without insulin, your blood sugar gets very high. These high blood sugars are what cause damage to your body. My blood sugar was so high that my blood had become so acidic [with Ketones] that it was as a toxin to my body. I was falling into a diabetic coma and the doctor told my parents to prepare for my death."
You can read a letter Lexi wrote about her condition and her personal struggle with Juvenile Diabetes HERE. It is very informative.

In any case, parents who have a child that has JD are more careful about restricting carbs and sugars (face it: a carb is a carb is a carb, whether it is sugar or pasta or rice or bread) in the child's life. In my niece's case, as well as all other children that have it becomes difficult to "fit in normally" because she tests her blood (finger pricks) up to 12 times a day, and takes insulin 10 times a day. Even in the middle of the night.

Life changes dramatically. You are no longer a normal child living a normal life. When the children in a class party are enjoying a cup cake or a monster cookie, you can't. When the kids are sharing a can of sprite, you can't. When the kids are having a pizza party, you can't. Actually, you can, you just have to calculate the amount of insulin you will need before enjoying yourself. The other kids don't. Your child is suddenly thrown into an unfair world of "pick and choose" against their own will -- they literally have to weigh out the consequences of eating everyday foods we take for granted, and calculate insulin levels regularly.

I had to do this for a very brief 5 months while I was pregnant with gestational diabetes, and I can tell you, it was awful. Imagine having to do it day in and day out ... for the rest of your life!

And now that I know it runs in the family (we're not sure which side -- my sister's or her husband's), that's good enough for me to change the way my own son eats -- we're not taking any chances.

Yes, I do feed my child foods made with Splenda, NutraSweet, and other artificial sweeteners. Yes, he is allowed to drink diet drinks. Yes, I try to give my son healthy snacks. Yes, I do substitute Splenda for sugar when baking. No. I don't want to start a debate about how healthy it is or isn't for me to give my son those items with artificial sweeteners. I simply want to cut out carbs that are with in my control, and sugar is one of them.

Here is a website that I found very helpful in finding recipes that are lower in Carbs, if not Carb free. They offer ways to substitute or eliminate carbs from many recipes that we eat regularly, and the end product really does taste good! Also, they have a store that sells substitutes.

If you have a child with JD, or know of a family that is affected by this disease, I hope this link will serve as a good resource for you!

Low Carb Recipes (click on the pictures towards the middle/bottom to take you into a list of recipes)

Low Carb Products (Unusual substitutes you may not find in a regular grocery store can be found here)

The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation offers support and valuable information.

I keep begging my sister to start a blog to help other parents and offer support and tips... but with 4 kids that range from 5 to 11... free time is hard to find! Maybe my niece will start one?!?

Remember: Children do NOT outgrow diabetes.
The only way out is a cure!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Hand Made Things...

Yesterday, I mentioned I had nothing to post about.

Then, I read Barb's post today, and thought... "Yeah! She is so right! I should follow up on this post!!" Actually ... it was posted yesterday, but I read it today.

Barb post is: Apparently, "hand made" is a rare thing these days...

Barb... I TOTALLY agree. Hand made things ARE rare these days. And it is really sad!

This past Saturday, I went to my cousin's bridal shower (she's getting married this coming Saturday). I debated over whether I should go ahead and make something or not... I am, after all, busy. Very. So I compromised. I purchased a few things, and made a few things for her.

It was so easy, and really, just took a couple hours out of my time, but it was received with many oohs and ahhs, and comments like ... "GiBee MADE this!" and "This is HOME MADE!" and "This is in her own handwriting!"

All I made was a wire-wrapped serving spoon with glass beads and crystals to match a bowl I bought her at Target, and I hand-wrote about 10-12 recipes out of my own collection onto index-sized recipe cards, and put them in a 3-ring recipe-keeper notebook I got at Hallmark. So easy and simple, yet you would have thought I went to Mars and back to get it.


Because it was home made. It was full of love, time, and effort. I took the time to make something that reflected my cousin's personality.


A commodity not many people can spare. Yet when you do, it means the world to the recipient.

The other gifts? Almost all the other gifts were gift cards, with the exception of sheets, a few nighties, and a pasta set. While gift cards are nice... in my humble opinion, gift cards (and cash) do have a time and a place (like maybe the wedding gift)... but when a young woman is starting off her life as a new bride, she really looks forward to opening beautiful things that she can use to decorate her new home, to cook for her and her husband, or to entertain friends and family. That's all part of the excitement! And, I really felt like she got cheated. It broke my heart. I was sad FOR her that she didn't get to rip packages open, ooohhh, and aaahhh over pretties, and dream of how she would use them. In fact, there were so few "wrapped packages" that they couldn't make a traditional plate with the ribbons and bows for her to walk down the aisle with at her rehearsal.

Friends, it is SO easy to share something homemade. It doesn't have to be as elaborate or intricate as the serving spoon I gave her -- it can be as simple as the recipe album I gave her with your own special recipes handwritten on the pages inside... those special recipes that everyone loves and begs for. Or in Barb's case, she made some diaper cloths, bibs, and a blanket -- how precious is that??? I promise that homemade gifts will be cherished long after the gift cards are cashed in and spent.

Let's keep the old tradition of making something going!!!

What kinds of things do you think YOU could make for either a bridal shower or a baby shower? Take a few minutes to think about it, and jump in the comment section with some ideas for those who have a tougher time coming up with homemade gift ideas!!

And for those of you at a TOTAL loss for ideas or thing you have no talent... tune back in here on October 27-ish for my annual "Homemade with Love" series where we feature homemade gift ideas for ALL budgets and ALL skill sets.

On the serving spoon, I selected a stone to match the bowl I purchased at Target (to the right) as a focal point, and used colorful beads and crystals to decorate the remainder of the spoon.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Things I Love... Because I Love YOU!

So, basically, I didn't have ANYTHING to blog about, so... I thought I'd share with you some of the things I'm loving this season. Today, I keep NO secrets from you. I will totally reveal all in a scathing hot report.

Actually, the only thing scathing hot right now is the temperature outside ... close to 100, and huuuu-mid. But it will be a good share!

1) Suave Invisible Solid Anti-Perspirant & Deodorant: The first thing I want to share with you is a new deodorant I've fallen in LOVE with. You see, I used to be a TOTAL Secret girl, but I began to notice that it wasn't working as well as it used to. I don't know if they are "under new ownership," or if they changed their "Secret ingredients" -- but now I totally love Suave Invisible Solid Anti-Perspirant in the Tropical Paradise scent. It smells like coconut oil on a hot, sunny day -- without the smell of sweat, that is... and it goes on WITHOUT leaving a white mark, too! The cucumber melon smells great, too. And the price? About $1.50 or $2.00 depending on where you get it.

2. Green Tea Perfume by Elizabeth Arden: Usually, I swear by Clinique Happy... but it is so expensive, and in my effort to stay within a budget, I accidentally stumbled over this oldie, but goodie. I know ... it was first released in 1999 ... I told you it was an oldie, but then again, I've always been upfront about being slow on the uptake... Anyhow, the perfume undernotes are: citrus lemon, rhubarb, peppermint, oakmoss, musk and amber. Oh, my glory -- it smells so good (almost better than Happy!), and I got mine for $11 a bottle... a huge spray bottle... $11!! I'm totally spraying it on all over after my shower, before I leave the house, while I'm getting dressed... I think there's a 10-step program for Green Tea Perfume Addicts.

3. Banana Boat Tear-Free Sunblock Spray: I have a tough time finding this stuff, but it is great, and very easy to use. I hate the other baby sunblocks, because they are not tear free. If your child has ever accidentally rubbed his face after you've applied the sunblock, and screamed for 30 minutes straight because the lotion is stinging his eyes and there is no way to get it out... you'll love this sunblock. It is more expensive than normal sunblocks, but my child's eyes are worth it.

4. Watermelon Nectarine Slushies: Wanna be a total Rock Star Mom??? Serve these to your kids! They don't really require a recipe... All I did was crush ice in my food processor, add watermelon chunks and one bruised nectarine (skin and all) that no one would eat, and a dash of Splenda. Blend until smoth and yummy. Pour into fun cups with a straw, and ... Voila! Instant Rock Star Mom!!! Here's what the kids DON'T need to know, but you'll be happy knowing: Watermelon is JAM PACKED with Vitamin A; if the watermelon is very red, it has a TON of lycopene -- antioxidant. Give it a squeeze of lime for a fresh and bright flavor. Also, if you don't want to "water it down" too much, try freezing your watermelon before hand. Oh, the possibilities...

5. Here is a recipe for a healthy and yummy popsicle that a friend of mine made and gave to my son a couple months ago at a play date (I think she said she got the recipe out of The Sneaky Chef cook book). Hunter (actually all of us) loved this popsicle so much that I asked her to email me the recipe so I could make it for him. It is a creamy popsicle instead of an ice popsicle, and she made them in an ice-cube tray with popsicle sticks she cut in half. Personally, I used popsicle molds, and they came out GREAT! You will need a food processor or a blender to prepare the mixture. Also, if you use sugar-free yogurt, and used Splenda in place of the powdered sugar, it would be a low-carb frozen treat that is great for kids with Juvenile Diabetes. Berries are ridiculously LOW in carbs, and high in antioxidants ... so fill up on them! (see chart below)

2 cups plain lowfat yogurt (sugar-free optional -- I used plain)
2 cups frozen berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, etc.) thawed in the microwave for 1 minute.
1/2 - 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar

Combine the yogurt, fruit and sugar in a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze.

6. Oxo Mini Salad Spinner: I love this product. Not only can you spin lettuce in this bowl, but fruit, too! Grapes, berries, etc. LOVE it. It helps prepare your salads BEFORE your guests arrive ... spin it and set it in the refrigerator. Its a snap!

7. Johnson and Johnson Bedtime Lavender & Chamomile Bath: Wow. This is so refreshing, so mild, so beautiful... it smells so good that I want to take a bath with it... I love using it on Hunter right before he goes to bed... not because it calms him down, because frankly, I haven't found ANYTHING that can calm him down... but because it leaves him soft and he smells so good -- and you can't resist kissing and cuddling a good smelling boy! We squeeze it in his bath for a bubble bath, or on his froggie body scrubber that we found at the grocery store. He loves to wash with it. The bubbles are fun, and they don't irritate the eyes or skin. SCORE!!!

8. Soy Vay Island Teriyaki: This teriyaki sauce is amazing. It is thick and sweet, it has pineapple, ginger, garlic, organic preservative free soy sauce, sesame seeds... you can actually see the chunks of goodness in it! It is AWESOME on chicken! YUM! And fish. You must get yourself a bottle. You'll come back and thank me. I promise. Try marinating Salmon in it and cooking it on the grill! Holy Schmokes!

9. Liplicious in Candy Apple: How can I describe this??? It is a shiny lipgloss with color -- but it isn't too dark. Actually, it is lip color that TASTES great! I got it at Bath & Body Works, and it is great when I have to dress my lips up. Right now, this is Buy 2 Get 1 Free at B&BW.

10. C.O. Bigelow Mentha Lip Shine: Again, by Bath & Body Works... this stuff totally ROCKS! Are your lips dry and chapped??? This is a moisturizing gloss that has peppermint oil... when you put it on your lips, it instantly cools, soothes, and tastes fabulous. It comes in plain clear, or slightly tinted for that sheer every-day look. It leaves your lips shiny, and your breath smelling great! Love it! And right now, this is ALSO Buy 2 Get 1 Free at B&BW!! (I also have the cinnamon one -- I'm wearing it right now -- but it isn't as good.)

11. Chick-fil-A Salads: Words just escape me. WAIT ... no they don't... YUUUUMMMMM!!!! How's that??? Seriously... if you are looking for a wonderful salad for lunch, and you are short on time, head on over to Chick fil A. They have the most beautiful salads. Seriously! They are so fresh, and they are served in such a way that you feel you're eating gourmet food at fast food prices!But don't take it from me... take it from Chick fil A!! Oh, and not only are their salads fabu, darling... but so are their morning chicken biscuits! Glory be! Divine!!! And the lemonade? Freshly squeezed. Diet AND regular! And don't get me started on their brownies. Hey?! Did I mention kids eat free on Tuesdays (in our area, that is)... What are you waiting for?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

WFMW: Fluffier Biscuits & Entertaining Made Easy

Works for me Wednesday is hosted by Shannon over at Rocks in my Dryer! Head on over for other valuable tips! (For some reason, the graphic isn't showing up right -- sorry!)

I have a few tips for you today that I think will make entertaining easier on you, AND give you better biscuits -- because everyone needs better biscuits!

1) When I entertain, I try to prepare everything in advance so that when my guests arrive, I can enjoy time with them. I pre-cut veggies, pre-cook as much as possible, prepare my salad by washing, and then cutting my lettuce and putting it in a colander and pre-cutting the veggies that go in the salad and putting them in a separate bowl and putting both of them in the fridge, I prepare my desert well ahead of time, etc. Then I time all my cooking to be done shortly after they arrive, and keep things warm so I have time to sit down and enjoy an appetizer with my friends. Pre-prepping and pre-cooking things saves a lot of last-minute time and allows you to enjoy your company without rushing around and working up a sweat! That totally works for me!

2) I also try to have an empty dishwasher and NO pots or pans in the sink or strainer. I find it easier to wash as I cook, dry things and put them away immediately. The empty strainer makes it easier for me to wash last-minute cooking utensils and set them aside as I'm cooking so I have less clutter in the kitchen, the empty sink makes it easier for me to set the dirty dishes in the sink and clean up quickly right after dinner, and the empty dishwasher gives me a spot to put all those empty dishes after my guests have left, making cleanup a snap. That totally works for me!

3) Having said that, Saturday evening, I made biscuits for dinner, and one of the things I didn't want to be doing when my guests arrived was rolling out biscuit dough, because that can be such a mess to clean up (imagine flour on counter, on floor, on me). So, I prepared my biscuit dough ahead of time (about 40 minutes before my guests arrived), kneaded it, rolled it out and cut the biscuits out. I placed them on my prepared baking stone, covered them with saran wrap, and set them aside on the counter. To my amazement, they ROSE! Instead of being about 1/2" thick, they rose to about 3/4" thick, and they turned out to be very moist and very fluffy! In fact, some of the best biscuits I've ever made!! So, I think that from now on, I will let my biscuits rise for about 30 minutes before baking. Also, I used the Heart-Smart Bisquick mix, and it is very good! I don't know about you, but big fluffy biscuits and Heart-smart Bisquick TOTALLY work for me!

Head on over to Shannon's for more excellent tips!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A Bit of House Cleaning...

Man, oh, man this post is hard to type... but, I've just had to sit down and do it.

I loved having my list of favorite blogs off in my sidebar for any and all of you to visit... but I have a tender spirit, and if I noticed that the link-love wasn't reciprocated, my feelings would get hurt, and I'd begin to wonder what I did wrong to upset that person enough to take me off their list... or not put me on at all. Especially when I felt like we had really built a good friendship. It left me feeling like the last kid on the playground to get picked to play dodge ball. And I hate that feeling.

So -- in order to avoid that whole ugly, snot-flying-red-faced "cryie" incident, I've decided to remove my list of favorites from the face of my blog. Why? Because I know how much it hurts not to be included, and I don't want anyone else to feel like that each and every time they come to my blog.

As a courtesy to all my friends that I've had listed in my blogroll for close to three years, I've added a "Quick-Click" Link for this post which will serve as my blogroll, and the blogs that were on my blogroll up through today will be included (see list below).

If you don't see your blog listed here, please accept my apologies. It isn't because I don't care, or I don't love you -- I promise!

BIG sigh.


Re-Print of My Favorites (my Blogroll):

It is important to know, that while the blogs on the following blogroll are all simply fantastic, Kisses of Sunshine does not necessarily support or agree with the religious theology of all of the blog authors listed. If you don't see your blog listed here, let me know!

5 Minutes for Mom

A Chelsea Morning

Antique Mommy

Beth Moore's Blog

Big Mama


Bullfrogs & Butterflies

Can You Hear Me Now

Callapidder Days

Daring Young Mom

Diary of A Stay At Home Mom

Days to Come

Don't Try This At Home

Especially Heather

Everyday Mommy

Faithful Mommy

Flip Flops

Good Thoughts

Heather's Funny Thoughts

Holding the Mirror up to My Soul

Holy Mama!

I'm an Organizing Junkie

Journey to the Prize

Just Me And My Guys

Laurel Wreath

Life With Little Women

Life With Two Little Vikings

Lil' Duck Duck

Living For Today!

Living to tell the Story

Molly Coddled

Mommy Brain

My Life in Bits and Pieces

My Quiet Corner

My Tiny Kingdom

One Womans World

Organizing Junkie

Overwhelmed With Joy


Partners in Prayer for our Prodigals

Praying for Parker

Reflecting Him

Reluctant Entertainer

Rocks in my Dryer

Seeds From My Garden

Shalee's Diner

She Lives

Showered With Grace


Susie Pie

The Roller Coaster Ride of My Life

The Tales of Mama D

Wretched Sinner

Without Fear

Canning Giveaway

Well, folks ... she's at it again! Sandy at 4 Reluctant Entertainers is hosting another giveaway in honor of Canning Season! She is giving away a beautiful package filled with goodies to use when canning your favorite fruits and vegetables.

Canning is very simple and it is very satisfying to see your pantry full of wonderful products you've canned! They also make very nice housewarming gifts! My pantry has a ton of fresh jams waiting for us to enjoy all year long, and I'd like to also can some peaches, pears, tomatoes, applesauce, apple butter and maybe even pear butter! My mouth is just watering at all the possibilities.

If you think you might be interested in learning how to make jam (which is so simple, promise!), I posted an Easy Canning Tutorial for Fruit Jams last week with pictures.

So if you're interested in the Canning Giveaway, all you have to do is go to her blog and answer two questions... easy peasy! Pinky Swear!!!

Good luck!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Sparkly Clean and a New Recipe!

This weekend, Hunter demanded that he sleep at Mawmaw's and Pawpaw's house. Friday evening, he brought his blankets down from his room and made a pallet bed on the kitchen floor and said, "I make my bed and sleep at Pawpaws."

Poor boy. We were only going up to Mawmaw's and Pawpaw's Friday night to pick up daddy's boat, but he wanted to sleep there, and when we left, he screamed and threw an all-out temper tantrum because he wanted to stay. So, on the way home, daddy called and asked if Hunter could spend the night Saturday evening. And they agreed. And Hunter was excited from the moment we told him (Saturday afternoon) to the moment they picked him up. Good grief -- he hardly wanted to say goodbye to us! He had a grand time at the park feeding ducks...

In the mean time -- mommy got in a huge CLEANING FRENZY Friday evening. I cleaned for an hour and a half, straightening, dusting, vacuuming, organizing, moving things around, eliminating toys... then Saturday, I ran to the orchard for some fruit, the grocery store, came back for some more cleaning, toilet scrubbing, a NAP (which was highly in order, considering Hunter woke up at SIX in the morning), and some cooking. Unfortunately, I had too much going on in my head, and couldn't fall asleep at all, but I did lay down and rest, which I needed. AND ... my house is all sparkly clean, and I LOVE it. I was a wee bit frustrated, however, because it seemed like whenever I got one room clean, Hunter felt like he had to decorate it for me. With his toys. TONS of toys. So, needless to say -- many toys were thrown out, moved out, or HIDDEN.

Later Saturday evening, we had our Pastorman and his lovely wife over for dinner, which was long overdue... and it was wonderful to have dinner and adult conversation without Hunter. Don't get me wrong... I adore my son, and adore having him around, but every now and then, a break is wonderful, and I am so thankful that my in-laws are willing to take him on!! It is difficult to entertain with an almost-three-year-old that has boundless amounts of energy and DEMANDS constant attention. AND -- he wants to "hep cook" -- and trust me -- while I find this endearing and I try to encourage it, his "hep" really isn't "hepful," but Hunter loves to cook, and I can't possibly squelch that, now can I?

I really wanted to have grilled salmon or chipotle hamburgers, but the heat was unbearable, and my husband refused to grill, so I plaid it safe and had a plain 'ol roast beef... which is a good thing, because I don't think Pastorman's wife likes fish. I did, however, create a wonderful NEW recipe! It was so good, and had such a fresh taste to it. It was a traditional roasted new potatoes and carrots with a twist that totally kicked it up a notch ... I'll share the recipe below ... but you'll have to promise to try it out!

Finally, my cleaning frenzy and my lack of nap resulted in my inability to follow a conversation as the clock drew closer to 10:00 -- it was frustrating! I hate getting old. But seriously -- where does the time go when you have good food, great company and awesome fellowship???

Fresh Roasted New Potatoes & Carrots

What you Need:

  • new red potatoes (pick the smallest ones, and get enough for your family)
  • 3 or 4 carrots
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley, chopped
  • freshly ground salt
  • garlic powder
  • 2-3 teaspoons ground cardamom (that's the secret in this dish)
  • lemon
What you Do:
  1. Scrub and wash all your potatoes. Cut them in half and add them to a pot of salted cold water. Wash and peel the carrots and cut them in 1" chunks. Add them to the water, and turn the water on high, bringing the pot to a boil. Cook potatoes and carrots until they are almost done.
  2. When the potatoes and carrots are almost done, drain them and spread them out in a rectangular baking dish in a single layer. Drizzle the butter on the veggies evenly. Sprinkle with freshly ground salt, garlic powder and cardamom (I just filled my teaspoon with cardamom and tapped the spoon all around the dish). Zest the lemon over the veggies. Toss the veggies to evenly distribute the seasonings.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until potatoes are beginning to brown. Serve immediately.
  4. Enjoy!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep

Today, a friend shared with me a blog that had an amazing link on it, and I'd like each of you to visit it and hear the story. It was a report on the NBC morning show that features a charity called "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep Foundation" (link below) ... they are Infant Bereavement photographers. Please take a moment to view this clip ... and be forewarned that it is a sensitive clip and you will leave with tears in your eyes:


Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep Foundation offers help to families that are grieving from the loss of a child though photography -- they meet families in a painful and uncertain place and provide a service that allows the families to acknowledge that their baby was born, that they existed, and that they left a mark in their hearts and in this world.

Here are some paragraphs from their website that explain their foundation far better than I ever could:
When a baby dies, a world is turned upside down. There is confusion, sadness, fear, and uncertainty that cannot be explained. There is sorrow where there should have been joy. During this time, it might be impossible for families to know what they might need in order to heal in the future.

This is the place where the Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep Foundation gently provides a helping hand and a healing heart. For families overcome by grief and pain, the idea of photographing their baby may not immediately occur to them. Offering gentle and beautiful photography services in a compassionate and sensitive manner is the heart of this organization. The soft, gentle heirloom photographs of these beautiful babies are an important part of the healing process. They allow families to honor and cherish their babies, and share the spirits of their lives.
I know professional pictures are not always affordable, but pictures are important. They capture life, and will last long after we are gone. They are reminders of both good and bad times, and serve to help us celebrate, mourn and heal.

This foundation has photographers all over the country, and if you know of a couple that is in a heartbreaking situation where they are facing the possible death of their child, pass this website on to them. They will appreciate it in the future.

And continue capturing photos of your children... their hands, their feet, their faces, their smiles, their eyes... cherish your children, and cherish the pictures.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Summer is here!

It is so hot, humid and nasty outside. I don't even want Hunter to play outside for fear he'll have heat exhaustion, or worse yet, heat stroke. His poor face gets so red from the heat (not sunburn). He takes after me like that, poor soul. That tells me summer is here.

All kinds of locally grown yummy fruit and veggies are abundantly available in all our grocery stores and corner produce stands. That tells me summer is here.

I spoke to the sweet and precious little lady that is coordinating the jamming section of our state fair yesterday. She has been impossible to contact, and she blamed it on working in her garden or being outside, and that too tells me summer is here.

We picked our first ripe-ish tomato from our garden about two days ago out of necessity for dinner, but really, it needed a couple more days on the vine... but it was still yummy. That tells me summer is here.

The rabbits have eaten any and all of my green beans -- with the exception of two. Not much canning going on in the green bean category. We even have a fency-kind-of-thingie around the green beans! Sigh. That tells me summer is here.

Church attendance is low and spotty -- an indication of summer vacations. That TOTALLY reminds me that summer is here.

Pools are overflowing, sprinklers are splashing, and puddles are being jumped in. Yup -- summer is here.

Beaches are crowded and waves are calling. Faces are burning and popsicles are melting. That tells me summer is here.

Bed time is 9:00, but the sky is light until 9:30, making it difficult to convince a toddler that he MUST go to sleep. That tells me summer is here.

Everyone is in sandals and bare feet. Piggies are filthy by bed time, foreheads and faces are sweaty, hands are grubby, and baths are daily. Yup. That tells me summer is here.

The smell of suntan lotion is in the air, the beach towels are being used frequently, and the bathing suits are constantly drip drying. That tells me summer is here.

But, you know what the more telling sign is to me that summer is here? It's the blogging doldrums. Everyone is in a blogging slump, not many are commenting (including my self) even though they are reading, and posts are further and fewer in between -- there are just too many fun things going on outside to worry about blogging, and too many family events to squeeze in an extra hour for blogging!

Have you experienced any of these things?

What tells YOU that summer is here???

C'mon... comment, why dontcha?

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

WFMW: Easy Canning Tutorial for Fruit Jams

Works for me Wednesday is hosted by Shannon over at Rocks in my Dryer! Head on over for other valuable tips!

Edited with a few extras. You'll see them with-in the text, appearing in bold orange.

This is the first year I have really "canned" anything, and "canned" it properly. I've always been too scared to try, thinking that it was too difficult. Low and behold... it's not. So, here is a tutorial to help anyone else that is anxious about canning jams, but wants to give it a try. Jump off the anxiety fence and dive into jamming fruits with confidence! It really is easy, and having jars of jam made from fresh summer fruits really WORKS FOR ME! (pictures below -- sorry for bad quality -- used camera phone bcs I couldn't find my camera)

Now, before you read this, you must understand that this tutorial is NOT for freezer jam -- but don't worry! Do NOT stop reading. Canning jam is just as easy! The difference is that you will actually be processing your jars of jam in a boiling water bath. And again... these instructions are for the novice canner. I'm certain that experienced canners have more tips and tricks to add, but these are the bare bones I came up with.

What you will need:

  1. half-pint wide-mouthed canning jars (jams are sticky, and it is just easier to get them in the wide-mouth canning jars, but you can use what ever kind of 3-part jar you want)
  2. a wide-mouthed funnel
  3. a heavy bottomed 6-quart pan for cooking the jam (I use the one I make my spaghetti sauce in)
  4. a tall stock pot (8 qt) or preferably, a canning pot
  5. rubber-tipped tongs
  6. large glass bowl
  7. potato masher
  8. large glass measuring cup for crushed fruit
  9. plastic dry-measure cup for sugar
  10. a TON of sugar
  11. fruit
  12. pectin
  13. a good recipe (the boxes of pectin all have good recipes in them)
  14. Instant read thermometer

STEP 1: First, I put the stock pot or canning pot of water (filled up to within 2-3 inches of the top) on the stove to start boiling (it can take a long time). If it comes to a boil before I'm ready, I just let it go, because it takes too long to get it re-started.

STEP 2: Place all the canning jars, lids and rings into the dishwasher and run it on the hottest setting with the heat dry option on to sterilize them. I did use detergent in the cycle.

STEP 3: Begin crushing your fruit in a single layer in a large glass bowl with a potato masher. Pour the mashed fruit into a measuring cup and continue mashing until you reach the required amount. Mashing the fruit releases the fruit's natural sugars and flavors. (or, you can place your fruit a little at a time in a zip loc and squeeze it -- that's what I do, and trust me -- it is more fun that way!)

STEP 4: Measure out your sugar and have it all in one bowl, ready to pour into your hot fruit and pectin. It will make the whole process go smoother.

STEP 5: Have your recipe and ingredients ready. Read through it numerous times so you are familiar with it, because you will be working quickly. The box that the pectin comes in will give you instructions on how much fruit, sugar and pectin to use. It will also tell you to use a "non-reactive utensil" to stir the jam ... in layman's terms... use a wooden spoon when stirring the jam. I used a very long-handled wooden spoon so as not to burn myself with splattering, bubbling jam. I also put my hand in a glove-style pot holder, because I was burned badly with hot, melted sugar (it sticks to your skin and keeps burning) when I was little, so I'm a bit gun shy. And... to add to my gun-shyness, I now use the pot holder when adding or removing jars from the water bath because I got scalded with splashing water a few weeks ago. But -- don't let that scare you. Jamming isn't all that bad -- I'm just a pansy!

Also: Do NOT double jam recipes, because the jam won't "set" properly. Make sure you boil your jam fully in a "rolling boil" fashion ... NOT a simmering boil. Follow the instructions carefully. Each jam has a different boil rate (liquid pectin is less than powdered pectin), but regardless of the time, to have a good firm jam, it MUST boil. Make sure you stir constantly while boiling it, and DON'T multi-task with more than one pot of jam. Trust me. I tried, and it just doesn't work.

STEP 6: Once you've properly boiled your jam (regardless of boil time, it should reach 220 degrees, which can be read with an instant read or candy thermometer), you will want to fill the jars when they are HOT so they don't break. I placed the funnel in the jar, and used a plastic soup ladle (do not use metal) to pour in the jam -- it made the whole process go smoothly and a lot cleaner. I also used the glove-styled pot holder to hold my jars while filling them, because the boiled fruit is very, VERY HOT. After you fill them, make sure your jars are wiped clean of any splashes. Cover them with the lids (I ran my finger along the edge to pre-heat the gummy sealer) and rings, and begin placing them into the boiling water bath.

I processed my first batch of jam in a stock pot that was brought to a rolling boil for 10 minutes. I didn't bother to buy a canning pot until later on, which I love, but you can do it in a stock pot. Just make sure you place something at the bottom so that the jars don't touch the bottom of the pan. Once you carefully add the jars to the stock pot (they should be covered with about 1" of water, so you may need to scoop some water out -- I used my Pyrex glass measuring cup to scoop water out with), bring it BACK to a full hard boil and then begin timing the boil for whatever amount of time the recipe calls for.

STEP 7: When you take out your processed jars of jam, make sure you use tongs that have rubber or silicone tips, otherwise your jars might slip and cause the water to splash out and scald you ... this happened to me the first time. After that, I went out and purchased silicone-tipped tongs and was super careful. I put the wet jars back into the case they came in (with the dividers) and placed them in a single layer on my kitchen table to allow them to cool. You will hear the lids popping and crackling as they settle into their sealed position.

STEP 8: Allow your jars of jam to cool without touching or bumping them in a draft-free place (usually takes overnight). Once the jars are cool, you can check that they are sealed by pushing down on the lid to make sure it has been sucked down -- just press in the center, gently, with your finger. If it it pops up and down, it is not sealed, and must be placed in the refrigerator right away. In all the jam I made, I didn't have one single jar that didn't seal properly.

Once they cool and sit a couple days... you can either open a jar for daily use (I only waited 24 hours because I was so anxious...) or you can store them on a shelf in a climate controlled pantry or basement. Do not store them in the garage where it would be un-heated or un-cooled (those are very technical terms).

I hope these instructions help out any first-time, anxious canners out there, and if you are a seasoned canner, please feel free to add any tips in the comment section!

Now, GO FORTH and pick some yummy fruit and can your own jams!! Then come back and let me know what a rock star you are to your family!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Thank you!




Thank you all for taking a long break with me over the Fourth of July weekend, as it has given me the opportunity to catch up on all your lovely and clever bloggy abilities.

And in the event that you have a need to know... I've decided to steal a new phrase from Susanne at Living to tell the Story -- "Rip Snorting." Yes, ladies and gentleguy -- it is a phrase that will go down in history.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Wow -- who knew a 4 day weekend could be so busy? I've been away from the computer since Wednesday afternoon, with the exception of a small hit here or there, and I feel completely out of touch. I'll be reading all your blogs this afternoon, if I can have a few uninterrupted hours!!!

I'm SOOOO on a roll now with all my canning. I'm inspired by how simple it is! Really, it is!!! I'm going to make MORE Pina Colada Jam, and I am toying with the idea of making some Carrot Cake Jam -- sounds odd, doesn't it? But it looks so good. I'll also be making more raspberry jam, and I have a refrigerator full of berries, but not enough to make one kind of jam, so I'm going to mix them all together and make some mixed berry jam before all the berries go bad. I just can't wait!!!

AND -- I've decided to enter my Pina Colada jam into our state fair, but trust me ... I'm not going into this whole "State Fair entry thing" expecting anything, since I'm a novice canner. But, their comments will help me in years to come. Who knows... one of these days I may even win a ribbon.

Actually, my greater goal with canning (among other things) isn't to win awards, but rather to show my son a simpler way of life, save money, and serve my family good, wholesome food with wholesome ingredients. I really want him to be able to look back into his childhood (although "almost 3" might be too young) and have good memories of his mom making special things for the family. I may never actually "be" a complete Proverbs 31 woman, but there are areas I do excel in, and I'll do my best to set those examples for my son so he knows what to look for in his future wife. Wow. Talk about pressure.

Now, if I can only learn how to sew linen garments and keep my bedroom clean!!!

Friday, July 04, 2008

And so... the story goes...

Saturday was a total BUST for strawberries. The plants were burned and shriveled and ... well ... strawberry-less.

I whined and complained to the girl at the counter about how this time last year we were picking strawberries, and she confirmed that we INDEED were... but the start of summer has been brutally hot and has burned off the plants. They picked their last batch of Ovation Strawberries three weeks earlier this year than last!


So we picked black raspberries instead.

And we got red raspberries, too -- but honestly? I love the taste of the black raspberries far more than red. AND? I can't WAIT until blackberry season. Mid-July.

So far, as of this posting... I have canned Black Raspberry Jam, Red Raspberry Jam, Strawberry Jam (Yeah -- I cheated -- I bought strawberries) and Pina Colada Jam.

Did you catch that??? Pina Colada Jam!

Oh, MY WORD -- it is the Jam of Kings -- Hawaiian Kings, that is. It is so delicious, and the recipe is a State Fair award winner. I may just enter it in our State Fair... if I can work up the nerve.

Final Jamming Tally:

9 half pints of Black Raspberry Jam
1 pint of Black Raspberry Jam
6 and 1/2 half pints of Red Raspberry Jam
1 pint of Red Raspberry Jam
8 half pints of Strawberry Jam
1 pint of Strawberry Jam
9 half pints of Pina Colada Jam
1 pint of Pina Colada Jam

Very patriotic, dontcha think?

One comment: As I'm not a raspberry lover, I must say that I find the seeds in the jam to be bothersome. Annoying, actually. Maybe next year, I'll try a different recipe.

I may not eat toast for a few weeks.

Who am I kidding?

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

WFMW: The Five-Ingredients-Or-Less Edition


This is the special Five-Ingredient-Or-Less Edition of Works for me Wednesday, hosted by Shannon over at Rocks in my Dryer! It was hard to keep the recipes under 5 ingredients, so I didn't count salt and pepper as an "ingredient" -- even though technically, it is. Also, I didn't count the pasta as an "ingredient" either ... just use your imagination. Its a shame it wasn't the 6-ingredient-or-less edition!

Also, make sure you take a few moments to check out all the other 5-ingredients-or-less recipes that are being shared over there!!

As a side note: Can you tell which ingredients I love to use the most??

Easy Creamy Pasta Dish

1) 1 Jar of your favorite Spaghetti Sauce
2) Ground Beef
3) 1/4 onion, chopped
4) 1 clove garlic, crushed
5) Cream Cheese

Cooked Angel Hair Pasta

Season ground beef with salt and pepper and brown with onion and garlic. Strain out fat. Return to pan and add spaghetti sauce. Heat thoroughly. Add cream cheese and stir until smooth and creamy. Serve over cooked pasta (Angel Hair spaghetti cooks up within 4 minutes) and top with Parmesan cheese.

Creamy Primavera ("spring style") Pasta

The following recipe is a great way to use up all your garden vegetables -- any combination will do.

1) 2-3 tablespoons butter with a swirl of olive oil
2) 3 cups of chopped vegetables from your garden -- any combination will do (sweet onion, asparagus, carrots, squash, zucchini, tomatoes)
3) 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
4) 2 cup heavy cream
5) 1 cup grated Romano or Parmesan cheese, additional for topping

Cooked thick spaghetti (tubed pastas don't seem to work as well)

In a large, family-sized pan, heat up the butter and oil. Add the vegetables and cook until almost caramelized (add tender veggies last). Add the cream and simmer until the sauce is just thick enough to lightly coat the back of a spoon. Add cooked pasta and 1 cup of Parmesan cheese, toss to mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Top with additional Parmesan cheese.

Strawberry-Infused Lemonade

The lemonade is a really pretty corally-color, and has a wonderful flavor to it. The recipe is best when made early enough that you can chill it.

1) 2-1/2 cups of water
2) 5 washed and hulled strawberries (I slice them up)
3) 1-1/2 cups sugar (or 1-3/4 cups, depending on how sweet you like your lemonade)
4) Juice of juice 6 lemons (1 cup and a little extra)
5) 3 cups cold water

In a small saucepan, make a syrup by bringing to a boil the water, strawberries, and sugar; soft-boil for 3 minutes.

In the mean time, combine the lemon juice, and 3 additional cups of water. Stir well. Add your strawberry syrup (at this point, you can choose to either leave the strawberries in or remove them).

Taste (remember that it will be hot) to make sure it's sufficiently sweet (if not, add more sugar), or if it's overly sweet (if so, add more water or lemon juice). Cool in refrigerator ... unless you're too anxious to wait, pour over a lot of ice. If you can stand the wait, chill for several hours before serving. It is even better the next day.

I forgot to include this recipe, and when I put my name on the Mister Linky, I typed in 4 recipes, but when I went to get my link, I only saw 3 recipes -- it didn't compute in my poor old brain until AFTER I published my link.

Anyway, while this may sound like an odd concoction, it really works, and tastes fabulous together.

Slow-cooked Roast

1) 1 Beef Round Eye Round Roast
2) 1 envelope dry Good Season's Italian Dressing Mix
3) 1 envelope dry Ranch Dressing Mix
4) 1 envelope dry Mushroom Gravy Mix
5) 1-1/2 cups water

In a medium sized bowl, mix all dry mixes together. Rub all over beef roast. Place roast in crock pot and pour reminder dry ingredients all over roast and around roast.

Pour water around roast, being careful to not let it pour over roast.

Cook for 8 hours, turning roast once.

Thicken juices for gravy (taste first ... may need to be diluted a bit so it doesn't taste too strong).

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Christmas ... in ... JULY???

You will never believe this in a million years. Well -- you will, believe it if you know me intimately, and really, after reading this blog, who DOESN'T know me intimately... BUT ... I started collecting ideas for my next big and wonderful Homemade with Love escapade... in the October/November time frame... months ago (collecting ideas, that is -- what a poorly structured sentence!).

And now, as the dawn of July rolls around, I'm starting to collect my materials and... actually MAKE and PHOTOGRAPH things. For Christmas.


It's a sickness.

But if someone must do it, why not me (since the word GiBee and the word sickness-in-the-head go hand in hand!)?

This year, I have some fun, FUN ideas. Some easy, some cheap, some harder, but still cheap. Can't wait to share them with you. But before I do, I have to learn how to do a few things... joy. Can you really teach a dog new tricks? Hmmmmm... we'll soon find out.

Can you tell, I have NOTHING but time on my hands. My husband will be overjoyed at my ability to manage my plethora of free time.


I'm feeling rather ... "Barbara-ish!"