Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Update from Florida

     Just stopping by with a quick update. My mom has gotten better daily and while she is still very weak, she has made remarkable progress all things considered. It looks as if she will be going to a rehab facility for a week or two to get her strength back. At this point, they have her walking but it isn't something she can do alone and she can't go very far yet. I doubt anyone could who had been flat on their back for a month and had major surgery a week ago. Once she has her strength back she can tackle the other medical issues from home. I'm going to be staying down here for a while. My dad could use the company and it seems to make my mom feel a little better. I think we will get into more of a routine once she is out of the hospital. The rehab center has an internet cafe! If I can just find enough energy to stay awake...I may even get back to blogging. I really miss Blogland and all of you. Thanks again for all of the prayers, good thoughts and messages. It truly has been such a blessing to me.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Strawberries with Vanilla Mascarpone Cream & Balsamic Syrup-Mom Update

     I'm sitting in my mom's hospital room, she is sleeping and I finally felt like posting something that wasn't crisis related. Luckily, I took a few pictures last week and never had a chance to post them. Mom continues to make progress. She still isn't eating much, but we have been bringing in things that sound good to her and she will eat a few bites of fresh fruit, plain bagel etc. I think she will have to go to a rehab location to get her strength back when she leaves the hospital. She's just been flat on her back too long and had such trauma that standing up is truly more than she can do, although it was easier today than yesterday. She has some work ahead of her to build her strength back. Once that happens, she can begin treatment for her other issues. Once again, thank you all so much for the prayers and encouraging messages. It helps more than you can ever know.

     Mascarpone Cheese is considered a "sweet cheese" but it isn't sweet. It really tasted like very thick heavy cream on its own, but was delicious with a couple of simple ingredients added. My husband loved this, even though he wasn't exactly sure he would when he watched me making the ingredients. It is pretty enough for company, and easy enough to make for family. Enjoy!

Sliced strawberries
Container (8 oz) of Mascarpone Cheese
Powdered sugar (about 1/3 cup)
2 tsp. vanilla

1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

In mixing bowl, whisk the cheese with the powdered sugar and vanilla until well blended. Keep in refrigerator until ready to use.

In small saucepan, mix sugar and balsamic vinegar. Bring to a simmering boil, and cook down until it becomes slightly thick. (I did this about 10 min. at a very low simmer). Set aside until cool. It should thicken to the texture of corn syrup as it cools. I have found that if you have a high quality balsamic vinegar, you don't even need to make the can just add a splash of the vinegar on top of the cheese mixture. If you cook the balsamic syrup too turns to almost a sticky, hard candy texture.

In wine glasses, parfait glasses or bowls; put in a serving of sliced berries, top with a dollop of the cheese mixture and drizzle with balsamic syrup.

Friday, March 26, 2010


     I want to thank each and every one of you for all the prayers, messages and kind words the past few days. Words can't express how much I appreciate it and so does my mom. I know I'm missing some wonderful posts and that I'll never catch up. I just wanted to let you know that my mom is doing well, although she would like it all to move a little faster. She wants to go home! She has progressed to sitting in a chair for a couple of hours the past two days and as of lunch today, she can eat whatever she wants. Why is it that they give someone who hasn't eaten in days Swedish Meatballs, noodles, green beans and lemon pie for their first solid food? Needless to say, my dad ate it and we got mom a strawberry smoothie. She will more than likely move from ICU to a regular room tomorrow. She's still pretty swollen and weak, so the main thing now is to get her strong enough to get back to walking so she can go home. They started her doing some exercises today that will help with that.

     My sister and her husband got here on Wednesday and we've been taking turns spending the night at the hospital. Dad has actually been convinced to go home and sleep as long as one of us is sitting with mom. She has difficult days ahead of her, but she is determined. The doctors are simply amazed at what a fighter she is and what she survived. I'm really tired, but that's is worth it. I will be back blogging as soon as I can stay awake or get my brain to work. Thanks for sticking with me until then.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Don't Wait

     There are no words to describe the past few hours of my life. Many of you knew that I was heading south to spend some time with my mother. She suddenly became ill a little over 3 weeks ago and has had one issue after another. She was finally ready for me to come to visit and the plan was that I would arrive yesterday...she would be going home from the hospital and I would be around to help cheer her up, help her get her strength back and just make her feel normal again. There were still tests to do, results to wait for and probably treatment and stressful news ahead, but we were going to try to get back to a regular routine while we waited.

     They did a fairly routine test on her early yesterday afternoon. Her blood pressure dropped during the procedure and they were a bit concerned. They got her awake as soon as possible, her blood pressure started going up and she was talking to my dad. I was still on the road. I was 2 hours away when I got the call that her blood pressure had dropped again. At an hour away, they knew she was bleeding internally from the procedure and they were pumping her full of blood, trying to stop it. My dad told me to hurry. When I arrived at the hospital, she was still in trouble and they had called in a surgeon to consult about going in to stop the bleeding. I got to see her, hold her hand...and even though she couldn't talk because of the tube they had put down her throat, she knew what I was saying. She knew that I was there and my dad wasn't alone.

     Surgery became the only option and it wasn't a good one. Her wonderful surgeon took us aside and told us that he really didn't think she would come out of surgery. She was still awake, we got to talk to her. We prayed, we called others to pray and we waited. The surgeon came in and told us she was back in her ICU room. He stopped the bleeding, he "felt good" about the result. I fell in love with him on the spot. I spent the night curled up on a couch in the waiting room. We got to see her a few times and she knew we were there, she rolled her eyes when I told her she was fine. She hates that tube and we hope they remove it later today.

     Medically, she isn't out of trouble. She does have some serious health problems that she had no idea she had. I don't know how this will all turn out. I do know that after trying to get her to let me come down for 3 weeks, I was able to get here at the most important time of her life, my dad's life and mine. I do know that she shouldn't be able to look into my eyes today, but she did. I know that when almost all hope was lost, I could feel love and prayers all around us. I know that for today, they were answered. I also know that life can turn on a dime. I don't have any unfinished business with my mom. As I waited last night, all I felt was worry for my father, sadness for my sister who wasn't here yet and fear of the loss that I thought was coming. I didn't feel as if there was something I hadn't said, or issues I hadn't fixed. I didn't feel any guilt, just intense sadness. I've always known that life can change quickly. I had never experienced it in such a drastic way before. Within an hour it went from what we would have for dinner when we got her home, to "go in and say what you need to say to your mom". I counted my blessings and could feel the prayers and love through every minute.

     Don't wait. If you have unfinished business with someone and there is any way to fix it now. 

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Thank You-Update

     I want to thank everyone who left me such warm messages and good wishes for my mom. Your prayers and kind words mean more than you will ever know. Isn't it amazing how people who haven't met, really do come to care for each other.

     As I mentioned in my note, my mom is a very private person. It has been quite an adjustment for her to have a daughter who blogs! At first it scared her to death, then she couldn't figure out why I would want "my business out there" for the world to see. She has finally come to terms that this is what I do...and she knows how much I enjoy it.

     My mom and dad have been together since they were 14 and 16. I won't mention their ages...but, you all have a pretty good idea how old I, do the math! My mother has never been the little woman behind the executive. They are a shining example of what a true partnership is. I am thrilled to say that they are both in great mental health, and until mom's recent experience they have been in amazing physical health for their ages. Most people guess them to be 10 years younger than they are. Dad still swims 40 laps a day, they travel, the do Disney and we have a hard time keeping up with them.

     I will be heading down to be with them tomorrow. They don't need help as much as I think my mom is finally ready for some company, some girl talk and to just have a bit of fun. She is on complete bed rest right now so our fun may be a bit different than usual. She is worn out from doing so little, and she is used to being on the go. We can have tea on the patio, do our nails and curl up and read romance novels. We are still waiting to see exactly what we are dealing with here, so I'm not sure how long I'm staying. I think I will have free time to write and hopefully read and stay very active in the Land of Blog. I'm just not sure what I'll write about. I wish I could set my mom's dining room is stunning, and she has some of the best dishes you've ever seen. Somehow, I'm not sure that would be nearly as fun for her right now as it would be for me:)

     Once again, I appreciate all the prayers, personal messages and good thoughts. We still need them. I hope to begin playing "catch up" around here by tomorrow night.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Not Just Another Chicken Casserole-Foodie Friday

     I think we all have those casserole recipes that are our "go to" recipes, when we want comfort food. This chicken casserole is one of mine. I've had this recipe forever, I don't remember the original source.

3 cups cooked chicken (I boiled skinless, boneless chicken tenders-but any cooked chicken would work)
2 cups chopped celery
1 cup cheddar cheese-shredded or crumbles
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup sour cream (reg. or light)
1/2 cup mayonnaise (reg. or light)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained
1 roll Ritz crackers (or any butter type cracker)
2 T. butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix the chicken, celery, cheese, almonds, sour cream, mayonnaise, soup and water chestnuts. Mix well. Put into a greased 9 x 13 casserole dish. Crush the crackers and mix with melted butter, sprinkle on top of chicken mixture. Bake for 45-55 minutes, until bubbly and the crumbs are lightly browned.

Note: I am trying to keep up with all of your wonderful blogs and return your visits. It has been a difficult few weeks at my house and I'm having trouble staying focused on things. My mom, who is never sick, became very ill 3 weeks ago. She is in Florida and I'm in Illinois. She has been in and out of the hospital, is currently back in and they are trying to get some answers to her situation. She is very private, so I haven't shared this here. She and my dad have asked my sister and I not to come yet, as there really isn't anything we can do...and we are trying to respect their wishes, but it isn't easy. I would really appreciate any prayers, good thoughts or positive energy you could send her way. She's the best mom in the world and I hate this. Thank you.

 Please join Michael @ Designs by Gollum for Foodie Friday. Please visit her and take a look at all of the great recipes linked there.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Annalee Easter-Tablescape Thursday

I told you in a past post about my collection of Annalee Dolls. I got my first one from my grandmother when I was a child and for several years they were something I couldn't get enough of. I rarely put them out for holidays anymore. But you know how it is...blogging makes us dig out all of our old treasures. They used to be very hard to find, but now I see them often at TJ Maxx and HomeGoods. Most of my Annalee's are Christmas related, but I have a few Easter ones that I thought I'd share with you today.

I thought carrot plates were well-suited to a table full of rabbits. The placemats and napkins are from Macy's. The flatware is my every day stainless. It is hard to see that there is a vintage crystal salad plate on top of the carrot plate. The carrot plates are the pattern Fresh Vegetables by Tabletops Unlimited. I found them and their siblings (tomato, eggplant and corn) in my in-laws garage on cleaning day. The crystal I've had several years.

Without the salad plate.

There is an Annalee duck all decked out in her Easter bonnet.

We also have the strawberry bunnies.

A little Annalee lamb is hiding under the tulips.

My husbad just happened to bring me carrot colored tulips on Monday.

All Annalee dolls have handpainted faces. This bunny has a slightly evil look!
My candlelight shots just weren't working on this tablescape.

A little boy bunny is wrapped around the stemware.

I am joining Susan @ Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday.
Please go see her and all the wonderful table settings that are linked from her page.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Table Top Tuesday...A St. Pat's Blog Crawl....It is a busy day!

I decided to play along with all the activities in Blogland today. It is my first Table Top Tuesday with Marty @ A Stroll Thru Life and Kathleen @ Cuisine Kathleen is our hostess for a St. Patrick's Day Blog Crawl.  

     I have a round coffee table in front of my sofa. This is the first time I've tried to take photos of what happens to be on it for the season. I've decided that it isn't easy to get a picture without getting the television cabinet, part of the loveseat or the beagle bed in the corner. Oh well, I tried! My sofa is espresso leather, so you will notice that my table is dark with an iron base. It makes a wonderful space to display a few favorite things. My grandsons will tell you it also is the perfect height for a 1 and a 3 to race their cars. I've accepted the dents and scratches with a grandmother's love.

     This cute little guy was purchased at a local craft show several weeks ago. The iron piece is a recent Hobby Lobby find. I love it.

     The vintage postcards and the silver tray were found in my in-laws garage when we helped them clean it last fall. The postcards are dated 1911 and 1912.

     You can see the basket with the eggs that I showed you how to make here, my cloche with the bird nest and a Hobby Lobby bunny that insisted he wanted to live at my house.

I should have moved the coasters, but this is how
it really, you get the real deal!

     I wanted to play along with the Kathleen's Blog Crawl. I really don't have Irish themed items. What I do have, are three beautiful pieces of Belleek China. I love the details in the roses on the vase and the cream and sugar are very small and delicate. These pieces belonged to my husband's aunt. When she died many years ago, everyone got to pick something they wanted to have of hers. My husband and I were the last to be asked to choose of her entire family. We were shown a small box with a few trinkets in it that no one else wanted. My husband couldn't believe how quickly I grabbed these items. No one else realized what they were. They had been passed over by several family members because they were so plain. I think I won the prize. They are sitting on my grandmother's depression glass cake plate.

     Make sure you click the links above and visit our wonderful hostesses.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

It All Starts With a Plastic Egg-Met Monday

Many of you who visit me often know that I don't do a lot of "craft" projects. If it requires paint, paper or glue, I'm just not that good at it. I still make the effort on occasion and sometimes I'm actually happy with the result. I did a quick project last week that was inexpensive, easy and I was pleasantly surprised with the finished product.


Mod Podge Classic (the first I've bought since I was a teenager)
1 dozen plastic eggs (I used white so that no color would show through)
1 standard size sheet of tissue paper in your choice of pattern, torn into pieces
1 sponge paintbrush

I selected a sheet of tissue paper that didn't scream Easter, so I could
leave the eggs out longer. This would also work with any color of tissue.
The above tissue is still folded, you will need most of a full sheet.

Tear the tissue into pieces.

"Paint" the egg with a coating of Mod Podge. Place one piece of tissue on the eggs and smooth it out. Cover the piece that is on the egg with Mod Podge and put another piece of the tissue on the egg, overlapping the first piece. Paint that second piece of tissue with the Mod Podge and apply a third piece and so on, until the entire egg is covered. I didn't worry about lining up the pattern or making the tissue perfectly smooth on the egg. The Mod Podge will hold down any creases or wrinkles. The main thing is to avoid leaving any of the egg exposed. I used a styrofoam egg carton and placed the wet eggs in it on their sides. After one side was dry, I rotated the egg to let the other side dry.

I used an old twig basket, lined it with some moss
and added the eggs and a spring bow for a bit of color.

For this last picture I used the flash and it made the overlapping layers show more than they really do when you are looking at them. It was the only way I could get a picture that was bright enough to show you the details. This entire project took less than an hour and believe me, if I can do it...anyone can.

I am linking this to Metamorphisis Monday. Please join our hostess
Susan @ Between Naps on the Porch to see a variety of wonderful projects.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Crunchy Romaine Salad-Foodie Friday

     I have made this simple salad for many years. It goes well with many things, we had it with our quiche a few days ago. It would also work well as a main dish salad if you added a little cooked chicken.

1 package ramen soup mix (throw away the seasoning packet)
3 T. butter melted (I prefer unsalted)
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup white vinegar (red wine vinegar would also work)
pinch of salt and pepper
1 bunch of fresh broccoli-broken into bite size pieces
1 head romaine lettuce torn into bite size pieces

     Break the noodles into pieces, mix with walnuts and melted butter on a baking sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees until the noodles and nuts start to brown a little. I get lazy, I don't even melt the butter. I toss the walnuts and broken ramen noodles on the cookie sheet, dot with chunks of the butter and stir it all together after the butter melts in the oven. Remove from oven and set aside.

     In a large bowl combine the lettuce and broccoli, toss in the nut/noodle mixture. In a separate small bowl whisk the oil, honey, vinegar, salt and pepper for the dressing and drizzle over the salad (I think it makes too much dressing. I use about half and save the rest to use at another time) Don't put the dressing on the salad until just before serving. Enjoy!

     I'm linking this to Foodie Friday. Please visit Michael at Designs by Gollum to see all the delicious recipes that are being shared this week.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

When The Bunnies Come Out To Play! Tablescape Thursday

     It's Thursday and we all know what that means. It is time to get out our dishes and play along with Susan @ Between Naps on the Porch. Make sure you stop over to see her and check out all the wonderful table settings.

     It felt like spring in the Midwest today, so I decided that even the bunnies would feel like playing among the flowers. I started with an ivory tablecloth I've had for years, lime green placemats take the place of chargers. The dark green dinner plates are from Wal-Mart. I added floral salad plates that I recently found at Kohls. I was walking past the display and I swear I heard them yell that they wanted to go home with me!

Ivory napkins with bunny napkin rings (TJ Maxx), vintage stemware and new bargain flatware (also TJ Maxx) finish the look. Do you think that little Snowbunny is trying to crawl to the rabbit napkin ring?

My grandmother's depression glass cake plate made the perfect playground for these cute little ones.

Snowbunnies don't stop playing after dark!