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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Tina Challenges Us to Fight Alzheimer's Disease

Assorted international currency notes.Image via Wikipedia
I received this email from Angela Geiger at the Alzheimer's Association and wanted to share it with you:



Dear Selena:
It's now or never: With just hours left in 2009, the Alzheimer's Association has one more amazing matching gift opportunity.


Years ago, Tina Weber lost her mother to Alzheimer's. Today, she has come forward to challenge you to double your impact in the fight against Alzheimer's.


Until midnight on December 31, every donation you make in response to this campaign will be matched dollar-for-dollar by the Weber family, up to $10,000.



Tina is a long-time supporter of our mission to end Alzheimer's and provide care and support for all affected. She was so inspired by the generosity of our donors that she decided to offer her own $10,000 matching gift grant.


Hurry! Help Tina and the Alzheimer's Association raise more funds for the fight against this devastating disease. This offer expires in less than 14 hours. Remember - any gift you make before December 31 will double and is still tax-deductible for 2009. Donate now!


I'm making my donation today, on my Dad's birthday, to honor his memory. Won't you join me, if you can?


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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

100 Words: One Definition of An Eternity

Ham with clovesImage via Wikipedia



"Waste not, want not," my Grandma said. So I attempt to use all the Christmas ham.

Before Christmas, I make ham-split pea soup, ham and cheese strata and ham and scalloped potatoes.

I take the ham to Christmas dinner. After sharing and even leaving some behind, I still come home with ham.

Slow Cooker: The Best Cookbook Ever says, "One definition of 'an eternity' is two people and a ham." So true!

Now I'll make White Bean and Rosemary Soup, Brunswick Stew and Ham and Beans.

I cross my fingers and hope after these, there will be no more ham.





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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Help Me Celebrate My Dad's Birthday

Novelty candles may be used.Image via Wikipedia

It is almost New Year's Eve, my Dad's birthday. He used to say he was always guaranteed a party on his birthday. Remembering this just now has brought a smile to my face.

I've been spending time these past few days thinking about him and recovering my memories of him. It has been five years since he died from complications of Alzheimer's disease. During his illness, it was as if I had lost my memory too--my memories of what my Dad was like before he got Alzheimer's. Fortunately for me, as the years pass and the memory of what Alzheimer's did to him fades, I find I can remember my Dad the way he used to be.

I put together this compilation of photographs of my Dad, beginning with his childhood in Illinois and ending with photos taken a few years before his passing. These photographs help me remember who my Dad really was. I just wish I had more photographs of him.







Help me celebrate my Dad's birthday by making a contribution to the Gerald E. Keerbs Memorial Fund benefiting the Alzheimer's Association. So far, my friends donated $130 to my cause. And don't forget that until the end of the year, which is just 3 days away, all donations to the Alzheimer's Association will be doubled by two generous donors who have come forward to provide matching funds. You can read more about this special campaign by clicking here.


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Make a Charitable Donation By December 31

''Fish Karma logoImage via Wikipedia

Want to ensure good karma for the New Year and the new decade? I humbly suggest that you make a donation to your favorite charity by December 31, 2009, if you have not done so already. No favorite charity? Then let me suggest one of mine, the Alzheimer's Association.

Back on Father's Day 2009, I created a tribute to my Dad on their website that I titled The Gerald E. Keerbs Memorial Fund. All donations to the fund benefit the Alzheimer's Association. So far, my friends have donated $130 to my cause.

I wrote back on December 5th that donor Evelyn Nartelski will match ANY donation to the Alzheimer's Association up to $20,000 until the end of 2009. Well guess what? ANOTHER generous donor has stepped forward and offered to match donations made by December 31st up to $10,000. Amazing!

So now a $5 donation becomes $10, a $10 donation becomes $20 and a $20 donation becomes $40.

Please don't underestimate how much $5 can help. I recently saw an interview on my local TV news with actor Dick Van Dyke. A big philanthropist himself, he commented that it is the small donations by everyday people of $5, $10 and $20 that really add up to big bucks for charities.

So if you haven't already, make your donation before the end of the year and help make a big difference in 2010.



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Monday, December 28, 2009

Random Christmas Thoughts

Rear of Electric Blue MINI Cooper SImage by swgn via Flickr




As we were traveling to my in-laws house for Christmas dinner, I saw a bright blue Mini Cooper wagon driving next to us with a bright pink bummer sticker on its back that said, "I Would Rather Be Here Now." It reminded me of my month long Be Here Now experiment during the month of November 2009 and helped me remember to keep my focus on the present moment to increase my enjoyment of the day.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

At one point in our car ride, I asked my husband, "Why does your family celebrate Christmas? No one in your family is Christian."

He first replied, "I don't know."

Then he remarked, " Christmas is more than a religious holiday, it is a cultural one too. Just look at all the business that are closed on Christmas Day."

Just then we drove by an open business and I responded, "Well except for the movie theaters and Chinese restaurants."

"Yes," he said, "Well, now, that is the joke."

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

During a quiet moment in the car, I started pondering the true meaning of Christmas, beyond what I was taught in Catholic school. After a few days of contemplation, I came to the conclusion that the celebration of the birth of Jesus is a really a celebration of his potential and his purpose on Earth. Jesus was born to save mankind from their sins and help us attain Eternal Life. If he had never been born, Jesus could not have achieved his potential and fulfilled his purpose on Good Friday.

Recognizing potential and purpose ... is this the reason we celebrate birthdays?

This got me thinking about my potential and purpose in life and how many times it seems like it has been sidelined and sidetracked by my health problems. It got me wondering if I will live up to my potential and purpose during my lifetime. I want the answer to the question to be YES, so I soldier onward with this goal in mind, despite a life with chronic illness.



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Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Muppet Christmas

John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas TogetherImage by djwudi via Flickr



I admit it, I love the Muppets. After all, I am proudly a member of the first generation of Sesame Street viewers. One of my all time favorite Christmas albums is John Denver and The Muppets: A Christmas Together. I am also a big fan of the holiday specials Muppet Christmas Carol and A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa.

So when I heard that the Muppets were going to be on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, I set my TiVo to record. I just watched the episode today and the Muppets performed their version of the 12 Days of Christmas. Here is the clip:



Merry Christmas to you and your loves ones. Please feel free to return the sentiment by wishing me holiday greetings from whatever holiday you celebrate. No matter what our faiths or creeds, I think we can all agree on wishes for peace on Earth and goodwill to mankind.

P.S. Please bring back The Muppet Show. I would be a loyal viewer if it were on TV once again.

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Comfort Food: I Love Fruitcake!

Old Fashioned Fruit Cake Mints LadyImage by Archie McPhee Seattle via Flickr


It's Christmas Eve and time for some baking. Well, except I live with fibromyalgia, so leaving the baking to Christmas Eve isn't practical. So I got head start earlier in the week and I made one of my all time favorite holiday treats, fruitcake.

I know what you are thinking. "How could she like fruitcake?" I know fruitcake is one of the most maligned holiday foods, but that is probably because you never had a piece of my Grandma Devine's fruitcake. My Grandma's fruitcakes were delicious.

And speaking to her ingenuity, she even figure out how to make her fruitcake with the eggs that our ducks laid. You see, my maternal grandparents gave us two ducklings one Easter as a present. Sammy and Julie were both girls, which we discovered when they both started laying eggs. Duck eggs taste really bad scrambled up like chicken eggs, but they work wonderfully in a fruitcake. They are also bigger than chicken eggs, so you use fewer of them in the recipe.

Now this year I decided to try a new take on fruitcake. I made a gingerbread cake in my crockpot before Thanksgiving, so I decided to Google and find a recipe for crockpot fruitcake. I scored big time with this recipe featured on the Chet Day's Crockpot Recipes blog. Click here to get there: Crockpot Fruitcake.

I made just a few changes to the recipe.

First, I used the Splenda for Baking brown sugar mix to decrease the sugar content. If you make this substitution, be sure the follow the package directions as you use only one half the amount of the Splenda for Baking compared to sugar. I made this mistake and now have the base to either make another fruitcake or maybe some gingerbread cookies.

Second, I used a combination of dried apricots, dried tart cherries and golden raisins. I adjusted the ingredients so that I used one cup each of the dried fruits and one cup of walnuts. I see a lot of room here to add any dried fruit that tickles your fancy.

The verdict: this is one tasty fruitcake! Even my hubby, who doesn't like fruit, really enjoyed eating a slice. I cut the cake in two and froze half for eating in the New Year. The other half will be part of the Christmas dessert spread. I hate to admit this, but this recipe is as good as my Grandma's and will become a new holiday favorite for years to come.

Leave me a comment if you try this recipe to let me know what you think.



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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

We Won 3rd Place in the SunRun Holiday Lights Contest!

R, G, and B LEDs [7].Image via Wikipedia


It seems like we missed a lot of phone calls yesterday. Among them was a call from San Francisco at about 5:00 PM. Robert and I looked at each other, scratching our heads, wondering who would be calling us from San Francisco. Then a light bulb came on and we both rushed to the answering machine.

There we found, among other ordinary and extraordinary messages, a voicemail from SunRun informing us that our solar powered home placed 3rd in the SunRun Holiday Lights Contest. We won a $50 Amazon gift card and LED holiday lights. We were so excited!

Here is the link to the SunRun blog where you can read all about the contest and see the 1st and 2nd place homes as well: click here.

Maybe with the fabulous LED lights we won we can place 1st next year!





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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Best Way to Help

A giant grouper at the Georgia Aquarium, seen ...Image via Wikipedia



Yesterday I talked with a friend of mine about her brother who was recently released from jail and is now living in a halfway house. My friend really wants to help him and feels like other family members are turning their backs on him. My friend thinks that the prison experience changed him and he is now ready to do things differently with his life. My friend wants to be positive and give her brother a second chance.

The question is, what is the best way to help?

Upon reflection after our conversation, I think is this the best advice on the subject:
Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
What exactly does this mean? Here are three interpretations from Wikipedia:
  • Knowledge is the best charity.
  • To learn a lesson is a far better reward than to receive a gift.
  • It is better to know how to help yourself than to beg from others.
I've faced my own issues with wanting to help family members and I know I have gotten it wrong. My first impulse was to give them money or things to meet their needs. What I learned is that my charity prevented them from coming up with their own solutions to their problems. My charity created a dependence on me as the provider of quasi-solutions. What I have realized through these experiences is that the most helpful things I gave were suggestions about information, resources and referrals that helped them learn to help themselves.

I've also learned to divest myself from the outcome. If they chose to follow through on the suggestions and referrals I provide, well great. If they found the information I gave them helpful, that's wonderful. At the same time, I needed to firmly remind myself that they make their own choices in life and I needed to trust that they would find the answers to their questions if they just keep looking.

The truth is that if someone I love really wants to change their life, they will figure out a way to do it. All they really need from me is emotional support. Like a lighthouse in a storm, being a constant in their life while they weather their tempests is the best thing I can "do" for them.

For my friend, I realize that this whole prison episode in her brother's life has placed him in a new and different situation. It is all part of him dealing with the consequences of his actions. Now he has new challenges to face and he hasn't quite figured out how to deal with his new situation. He is asking for handouts now because he hasn't figured out how to meet his needs on his own yet.

I know this because my friend told me a story that shows her brother can tackle challenges. When they met for dinner over the past weekend, he told her how he used to scavenge in fountains for coins when he was homeless. He stated that he could collect $30 to $40 dollars a day doing this. Apparently he learned this skill from the group of homeless people who were his companions.

While not conventional (or legal), it shows that he is capable of being resourceful, learning from others and thinking outside the box. Seems to me if he really wants to change, he will figure out a way to do it. As my friend pointed out, he needed to be resourceful to live on the streets for as long as he did.

I know I wasn't able to convey this message in my conversation with my friend yesterday. I am sorry for this and will have to try again today. I hope I can help her see that all she needs to do is be there for her brother and support him while he learns to master whatever changes he wants to make in his life.

I think there is no better way to help another person than allowing them to figure things out for themselves.

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Monday, December 21, 2009

My Blue Christmas

blue christmasImage by rojam via Flickr


I write this post for those of you experiencing things less than "merry and bright" this holiday season. Several people I know are dealing with the death of or serious medical news about a loved one right now. Which reminds us all that life doesn't stop just because it is the holidays.

I speak from experience on this topic: tomorrow marks the fifth anniversary of the death of my Dad from complications of Alzheimer's disease. The Christmas that followed three days later felt surreal. I didn't feel happy or joyous. In fact, the whole time during Christmas dinner I suppressed the urge to start crying. My mood fit with the dark, cold and rainy days of January better than the upbeat and jolly holiday season.

The next year I felt conflicted during the holidays. As with any anniversary, I remember my Dad's final days as December 22nd approached. Those images sharply contrasted with every upbeat message broadcasted in Christmas carols and TV specials. It made the process of remembering my loss feel quite out of place with everyone else's presumed state of mind. It left me feeling alone and unsupported in my grief.

People just aren't focused on the sad aspects of life during the holidays.

Then I remembered a line from Lucy in the TV special
A Charlie Brown Christmas:

Look, Charlie, let's face it. We all know that Christmas is a big commercial racket. It's run by a big eastern syndicate, you know.

This quote spoke to how I felt: like Santa Claus brainwashed the whole world and now sugarplums, presents and big holiday feast completely and totally took over everyone's minds. Everyone acts like life suddenly stops during the holidays. The world goes into some kind of fantasy mode filled only with good cheer, mistletoe, eggnog and a light sprinkling of snow. Pain and suffering magically disappear with the drop of a few coins into a Salvation Army bucket or the donation of a toy or canned food into a collection bin.

Yes, I learned first hand that it is difficult to deal with the hard things in life during the holidays. The contrast between real life and the fantasy of Happy! Happy! Joy! Joy! is at its greatest now. It definitely makes dealing with pain, loss and grief even more difficult. You may not feel the way everyone else does right now, but that doesn't mean there is something wrong with you. Just know that you are not alone and it's O.K. not to feel happy.

That said, I want to point out that in a myriad of Christmas songs, I found that Elvis quite surprisingly understood how I felt. I rediscovered the song Blue Christmas in 2004 and found it especially comforting when I was dealing with my Dad's death. Perhaps it can help you get through your difficult holiday time too
.






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Friday, December 18, 2009

Merry Hissmas!


I've mentioned a few times here on my blog about my adventures in becoming a wild cat tamer.

It all started back in July or August when I discovered two kittens living in my backyard. One of the kittens looked sickly and then disappeared, which fueled my resolve to try and humanely trap the other one. I named him Sir Hiss because he would meow at me to get me to feed him and then hiss when I got close and placed the food near him. What a silly little kitten!

I already own two cats and wasn't really looking for more, so I was O.K. with the idea of trap-neuter-release. I definitely want to do this with his mother, a black and white short-haired cat who also frequents my backyard. another cat that I think is his father, a short-haired black cat with a small tuft of white fur on his chest, comes to visit our yard too. I do not know if these cats were pets left behind by a human or always feral in our neighborhood, but I do know that I want to stop them from having more kittens.

However since Sir Hiss was a kitten, Robert and I wanted to give the little guy a chance at the indoor life if he wanted it. So in mid-November we finally saved up enough money to purchase a humane trap and within 24 hours we caught our kitten. Before Thanksgiving we took Sir Hiss to the vet to test him for FeLV and FIV: he was negative for both. Last week on Wednesday we took Sir Hiss to Shelter Vet to get neutered on their special spay/neuter discount day.

All along I have been trying to convince this little guy that I am O.K. Once we moved him into the house from the bonus room behind the garage, I took my other male cat, Ra, over to Sir Hiss' crate. I petted and held Ra in front of Sir Hiss and explained to him that if he wanted to live in the house, he would have to let me do he same with him. I spent time with Sir Hiss every evening, cleaning his litter pan, changing his food and water, giving him treats and playing with him using a cat dancer. He would let me "pet" him with the cat dancer, but always shied away from my hand.

Sir Hiss does not like the Elizabethan collar (ecollar) he needs to wear to prevent him from disturbing his stitches from his neuter surgery. He also hasn't figured out how to really eat or drink with the collar on. So I decided to employ a tried and true technique I've used with my other cats when they don't feel well and are not eating--chicken baby food. At first, I had to smear the baby food on his mouth to get him to eat it. In about a day he learned to eat from a spoon. I also started letting my finger touch him on the head when I "petted" him with the cat dancer after his meal.

Then something wonderful happened.

After four days of baby food, Sir Hiss decided he wanted me to pet him. He wanted me to stroke the top of his head. I complied with a brief head rub. In that one day, he requested three brief sessions of hands-on interaction, what my sister Cyndie would call a "lovefest." That also happened to be the day I ran out of baby food and wasn't able to make it to the store to get more. So I decided to offer him some of my leftover Crock Pot Rosemary Garlic Chicken. The chicken didn't lend itself to being spoon fed, so I took a chance and fed it to him by hand.

I sat amazed as this little kitten ate right out of my hand and licked my fingers to be sure to get every morsel.

Over the past three day I have just marveled at this little creature who came into my backyard and my life, demanding to be fed with his persistent meows. His fur is so soft and his purr so loud. It is like he has discovered how great it is to be petted and simply can't get enough of it. Now I can stroke the top of his head, scratch his cheek, rub under his chin and run my hands down his body.

We are both taking a leap of faith and trusting the other to do no harm.

I told him today, "We've come a long way. Did you think you'd be here in my home when you first saw me?"

I can't wait until the day that he crawls purring into my lap and lets me plant a big kiss on his soft furry little head. Until then, I will continue to follow his lead and provide him with a lovefest whenever he requests it. I also will help Robert get in on the love as well. Sir Hiss' trust in me is a wondrous Christmas gift and I know it is going to be a Merry Hissmas.



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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Thank You, H1N1 Swine Flu...

Illustration of antigenic shiftImage via Wikipedia



Thank you, H1N1 swine flu for reminding everyone that when they are sick they need to stay home.

My chronic illnesses currently prevent me from working, so my risk of getting any cold or flu is now reduced. But I cannot tell you how frustrating it was for me while I was working when co-workers came to work sick. Despite all my best efforts, like hand sanitizer, air sanitizer, washing my hands, vitamin C, etc., I inevitably got sick. Each time I got sick, I spent two weeks out of work because my cold or flu resulted in more severe symptoms and turned into sinus and other infections. Needless to say, my employers were not happy, but I learned to come back to work armed with a fistful of doctor's notes and quoting the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA.)

Why do I get so sick from a cold or flu?

I am a leukemia survivor; leukemia is cancer of the white blood cells--you know, the cells in our bodies that fight infection. Sure, my leukemia went into remission 21 years ago, but it left my immune system a bit impaired. On top of that, my type 2 diabetes makes fighting an infection more difficult. I am also a person living with chronic Hepatitis C infection, which doesn't help my overall health situation either.

Here is the thing: I get it that people need to work to earn a living. I also learned from Duncan Cross' blog that not every American is guaranteed paid sick leave, which is just outrageous. I guess I need to thank H1N1 swine flu a second time for bringing this issue back to the forefront via the Healthy Families Act. However, all the jobs I previously held provided workers with paid sick leave or paid time off (PTO) and STILL co-workers insisted on coming in to work sick. (I think the PTO system really encouraged this, by the way, because the less of your PTO you use for sick time, the more vacation you can request.)

I think our society needs a wake up call when it comes to basic health practices that prevent the spread of illnesses. Remember what we learned in hygiene? Wash your hands, use a tissue when you sneeze or blow your nose, cover your cough and stay home when you are sick. Are we so obsessed with our jobs that we can't take a few days to rest and take care of ourselves when we are sick? In my past jobs, my employers didn't require a doctor's note for an illness absence unless you were out of work from more than three days, which is more that enough time for the average healthy person to get on the road to recovery from the common cold or seasonal flu.

So listen up. If you chose to go to work sick, you need to know the consequences. According to the Institute for Women's Policy Research, a person with the flu can pass the virus to others for up to seven days after symptoms appear and are likely to infected 1.8 of every 10 co-workers. Sick food services workers, especially those with the stomach flu, have the potential to cause a viral outbreak that can sicken hundreds. Forty percent of workers cite contact with a sick co-worker as the cause for contracting an communicable illness.

As for employers, I know you need your workers to make your widgets, but your workers are human and they will get sick. In my opinion, it is poor planning on your part if you don't account for that in your business plan. It is also irresponsible on your part to create a situation where sick workers feel compelled to come to work and expose all your other workers to communicable illnesses. I'm no public health expert, but it seems to me that written and unwritten policies like that contribute to the spread of world-wide pandemic illnesses like the H1N1 swine flu.

Seriously, if we all don't recommit ourselves to good hygiene practices and staying home when we are sick, it's not just me that is going to suffer. All it's going to take is one especially virulent pandemic flu and the population of working adults might just get wiped out by their co-workers who come to work sick and their employers who encourage this behavior.

Who knew a virus could have the potential to exploit the weaknesses in our society and bring down human civilization as we know it?

O.K., I've opened Pandora's box with this post, so the least you could do is leave me a comment. Thanks!



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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Comfort Food: Selena's Crock Pot Rosemary Garlic Chicken

FenouilImage via Wikipedia



As a diabetic, it is always a struggle to find recipes that use low starch vegetables. Since I recently got back into the habit of using my crock pot slow cooker, I noticed that the same old potatoes and carrots seems to appear in all my recipes. So I brainstormed other vegetables that I could use and so far have come up with celery, mushrooms, parsnips, turnips, kohlrabi, rutabagas and fennel.

I also decided that, since I cooked a whole turkey in my crock pot for Thanksgiving, it was time to cook a whole chicken. I Google some recipes to get the general gist of how to approach cooking a whole chicken and then improvised using one of my favorite vegetables, fennel root. Unlike the strong licorice taste of raw fennel root, cooked fennel definitely has a milder and sweeter flavor. Cooked at the bottom of the crock in a combination of chicken stock and white wine, it makes a refreshing and tasty departure from the same old carrots and other routine vegetable.

Here is my recipe for crock pot whole chicken. Please try it and let me know what you think.


Selena's Crock Pot Rosemary Garlic Chicken


serves 6

  • 3/4 lbs. fingerling potatoes
  • 2 medium fennel bulbs
  • 1 medium leek
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 whole chicken, giblets removed, washed and patted dry
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 Tbsp crushed garlic
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 10 whole cloves garlic

  1. Coat a 5 to 7 quart oval crock pot with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Rinse potatoes and place in the bottom of the crock.
  3. Rinse fennel bulbs and trim tips to 2 inches in length. Cut bulb in half and each half into quarters. Place with potatoes at the bottom of the crock.
  4. Slice the leek into rounds and include some of the green top. Rinse rounds well to remove sand and dirt. Place rounds on top of potatoes and fennel bulbs.
  5. Pour chicken stock and white wine (I used white Zinfandel) into the crock pot.
  6. Combine olive oil, dried rosemary, salt, pepper and crushed garlic into a bowl. With a basting brush, coat the inside and outside of the chicken with the mixture. Place the basted bird on top of the vegetables, breast side facing up. Place the fresh rosemary sprigs and whole garlic cloves into the body cavity.
  7. Cover and cook on HIGH for 4 to 5 hours, until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast and thigh measures 180 degrees.
  8. Remove the chicken from the crock and transfer to a serving platter. Take care as the chicken meat may fall right off the bone. Discard the rosemary sprigs and allow the chicken to rest for 5 minutes before carving. Transfer the potatoes and fennel to serving bowls and serve hot.

TIP: Make a delicious gravy with drippings remaining in the crock pot by combining 2 Tbsp. of cornstarch with 1 cup of the hot liquid. Stir into the remaining drippings in the crock and cook covered on HIGH for 1 hour. Serve over leftover deboned chicken placed on toast with a side of garlic mashed potatoes (see below.)

TIP: Make garlic mashed potatoes using the cooked potatoes and garlic cloves from inside the chicken. Using a potato ricer, mash both the potatoes and garlic in a large bowl. Stir in enough heavy cream or milk and butter to bring the mixture to a creamy consistency.

TIP: Another use for the cooked garlic cloves is to mash them onto slices of crusty French bread as a spread. Yum!

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

We entered the SunRun Holiday Lights Contest!



Yesterday we entered the Holiday Lights Contest sponsored by our solar lease provider, SunRun. We love that we showcase our clean energy with our visible-from-the-street solar panels on our roof by day and power our holiday light display on the fro
nt lawn with solar energy by night. SunRun makes us very happy solar energy producers and consumers!

Our decision to go solar also fits well with community norms here in Mar Vista.

Wish us luck because we would love to win! Robert mentioned just last night how he would love to buy some LED Christmas lights for our home. Turns out, LED lights are part of all the prize packages:
  • 1st: $100 Amazon gift card and LED holiday lights
  • 2nd: $75 Amazon gift card and LED holiday lights
  • 3rd: $50 Amazon gift card and LED holiday lights
I guess it was a good thing I figured out how to make decorating the outside of the house fibro-friendly with "low altitude" holiday decorations.

You can read more about our solar journey--from signing up for a solar lease, having the solar panels installed on our home, to watching the meter spin backwards--by clicking here, here and here.


To see the photos we submitted to the SunRun website, just click the links below:

http://www.sunrunhome.com/holiday2009/view/3f/4a/a1/125921d18e5

I'm going to try to take pictures at dusk tomorrow so I can get the solar panels in the frame as well for "extra credit"...




P.S. Just remembered that Snoopy enters a holiday lights contest in A Charlie Brown Christmas. Got a chuckle from that! I think it's time to break out the Christmas DVDs and start watching all those holiday favorites with my dogs and cats. (Sorry Woodstock, no birds in the house here.)

ADDENDUM:


Here is a picture that gets the panels in the frame too:


And here is a link to it on the SunRun website: http://www.sunrunhome.com/holiday2009/view/0c/4b/4d/12596159540



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Monday, December 14, 2009

Fibro-Friendly Holidays: 10 More Thoughtful Gifts for Fibromites

Stef's Present with Handmade WrappingImage by ex.libris via Flickr



After I completed my first post about helpful holiday gifts for people living with fibromyalgia, other ideas kept popping into my head. I realized I needed to devote another post to this topic. So here are more thoughtful gifts that any fibromite would appreciate.

Here is a picture carousel of the gift ideas I am going to highlight in this post:





Carex Bed Buddy Wraps

Not your average heating pad, a Carex Bed Buddy wrap can be heated in the microwave or cooled in the freezer for hot or cold relief. Coming in a variety of shapes and sizes, Bed Buddy wraps just work better to combat the aches and pains of fibromyalgia. Look for warming mittens and booties, a mask for headaches and sinus pain and a wrap for the neck and shoulders. These wraps are great pain-relieving presents for your friend with fibro.


Knifty Knitter

This is my favorite fibro-friendly craft. I find using a Knifty Knitting loom to be a hand friendly activity. Knifty Knitting involves wrapping the yarn around pegs and then lifting it up and over with a crochet hook. I used foam tubing to build up the handle of my crochet hook to make it easier to hold. Easy to learn, the Knifty Knitter makes it possible to knit hats, scarves, socks, gloves, mittens and even a dog sweater. Give your favorite fibromite the gift of a fibro-friendly way to knit.

Cool-Jams Sleepwear

Due to fibromyalgia and dysautonomia, I find that my brain has some difficulty regulating my body temperature. This can be problematic, especially at night--one minute I am huddled under the covers freezing and the next minute I am hot and throwing the covers off. Then I discovered moisture-wicking sleepwear like Cool-Jams. A comfortable night's sleep no matter what your body temperature is what you get when you wear Cool-Jams to bed.


Acorn Slippers

When you have diabetes like I do, waking around the house barefoot is a no-no. After trying several different brands of house slippers, I stumbled upon Acorn about a year ago. Not only are these slippers durable, cushioned and comfortable, they are made to last. Put a pair of Acorn slippers under the tree for your loved one and be sure to treat yourself to a pair too.


I Love Lucy or other comedy DVDs

They say laughter is the best medicine, so why not give the gift of laughter to your friend with fibromyalgia? Perfect for those bad days spent in bed, help them get their mind off their pain and put a little smile on their face with the gift of their favorite comedy TV show or movie on DVD. My favorite is I Love Lucy.


Hooded Robe

I recently discovered that using a bathrobe to dry off when I get out of the shower is a huge energy saver. A hooded robe has the benefit of drying off both body and hair. Be sure to get one made of a thick, absorbent terry cloth and put a little note in the box with this fibro-friendly suggestion for its use. Your fibromite will love it!


Decorative Pill Box

Treating fibromyalgia can mean taking a lot of medication. Make it more colorful for your loved one with fibromyalgia with the gift of a decorative pill box.


Casio Baby G Watch

Speaking of medication, sometimes a reminder is key to taking pills on time. Enter the Casio Baby G watch, with models that have up to 5 different daily alarms. Using an alarm watch also helps when trying to pace oneself to conserve energy and allows the wearer to set a countdown timer wherever they happen to be. In so many stylish variations, a Baby G watch is a cute and fun way to manage time.


DayClock

This clock helps those with fibro-fog keep track of both the time and day. This is one present I wish I had and one that your stay-at-home fibromite will definitely appreciate.


Backpack Purse

With neck and shoulder pain, slinging a purse over one shoulder or carrying one in hand can make pain worse. A smart and polished backpack purse distributes the weight over both shoulders and keep hands free, which can help minimize pain flare-ups. That makes this present very fibro-friendly.


Please leave me a comment because I would love to hear what you think about my suggestions for fibro-friendly gifts for fibromites.

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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Fibro-Friendly Holidays: 10 Helpful Presents for Fibromites

The Gift album coverImage via Wikipedia



Trying to figure out what to get that special someone in your life that lives with fibromyalgia? Let me help with some suggestions for gifts that are both considerate and helpful. I know these gifts are winners because I own and use every item that I am recommending every day. The fibromite in your life will be very thankful for such thoughtful presents that help them live a better life despite fibromyalgia.

You can see what each item looks like by viewing them in the Amazon carousel widget at the bottom of this post.


PikStik

This nifty little gadget helps you pick things up from the floor without having to bend and get things down from the top shelf without having to reach above your head. The PikStik makes grabbing things more fibro-friendly. Help a fibromite get it for themselves by giving them the gift of a PikStik.


Book Stand

Holding a book for someone with fibromylagia can be painful. This simple yet practical present makes reading a book a pleasure once again.


Back Rest Pillow

This pillow makes lounging and resting in bed more comfortable. The arms on this pillow support your arms, minimizing pain. This gift is a fibromite favorite.


Comfort U Pillow -For Total Body Support

Developed by a nurse who lives with fibromyalgia, this pillow helps support your body while lying in bed, which makes you more comfortable. Give the gift of a better night's sleep with the Comfort U pillow.


Washable Wool Blanket

Wool breathes, making for a more comfortable night's sleep. Especially good for those experiencing the symptoms of peri-menopause and menopause. Keep your favorite fibromite warm and cozy with a washable wool blanket.


Convertible Gloves

Gloves keep your hands warm, but what if you need to find your keys in your purse or answer your cell phone? Convertible gloves incorporate the best of gloves and mittens, allowing your fingertips to free for a few moments so you can get things done. This clever present keep hands warm and functional.


Folding Cane Seat

Sitting conserves more energy than standing, but when you are out and about there aren't always chairs available. The present of a folding cane seat brings seated relief for those long lines at the bank, post office and grocery store.


Meditation CD

Listening to a meditation CD while resting calms both body and mind. A meditation CD is a caring gift that brings benefits to the listener all year long.


Sound Soother

Sound is a versatile tool. It can be used to help calm and focus the mind during rest breaks. It can also be used to create a barrier to disruptive noises in and outside the home that can interrupt sleep. A sound soother is so integral to my sleep that I have purchased a travel edition for when I am away from home. A sound soother makes a great present.


Dragon Naturally Speaking

Being able to talk and have someone type for me is a godsend, since using my hands too much often leads to a flare-ups of my symptoms. While it does take a while to train this program to work properly, Dragon Naturally Speaking allows me to send emails, write a blog and even attempt to write a novel. Help your fibromite do more on the computer with the gift of Dragon Naturally Speaking.








What are you getting for the fibromite on your list? What do you think of my suggestions? Let me know by leaving a comment.

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