It Doesn't Have To Be Difficult

Have you ever been told to stop making something more difficult than it is? Or how about being told that there is/was an easier way to do what you are doing? Does this sound familiar to you? Do you do something the same way every time, because you always have done it "that way", and there is no point in changing it now?

I recently discovered an easy way to do something; something that in the past was very difficult to do. I went into the task assuming the worst, using my past experience to dictate my approach this time around.

I'm talking about giving our wiry little cat a pill - every day.

In the past, Jason and I have given up on this. We would let the seven pound fur ball get the best of us. Popping a pill in her mouth and coaxing her to swallow was not an option. Hiding it in food or in a special pet "pill pocket": she's too smart for that.  Now, I feel like she really is smarter than me, because giving her a pill is easy.

All I needed to do was crush up the pill with a mortar and pestle, and mix it up with a "treat" food. So easy - every time.

People change. Needs change. Be open.

Lettuce Please

I'm always looking for easy and convenient ways to do things. In particular, how to eat more salad(s). It can be so draining to pull out the head of lettuce, wash the lettuce, dry the lettuce, grate the carrot, slice the get the picture.

Then I discovered how to store clean romaine lettuce in the fridge - for up to one week! MS or not, this is good for everyone (unless you don't like romaine lettuce, I haven't tried it with any other green leaves).

Wash It.

Dry it

Roll It.

Then slide it into a plastic bag (I use a ziploc freezer bag) and seal it up. When I need some lettuce, I just open up the bag and pull out what I want.

Shit - I Really Do Have MS!

My annual "check-in" with my MS neuro was last week. I finally got to meet "the new guy", "the new guy" who is "tracking" my disease.

*okay, maybe I have started this off on the wrong foot...a bit too sarcastic. Let's try this again:

My annual appointment with my MS neuro was last week. I finally got to meet the new doctor who writes me prescriptions for months worth of Rebif at a time (not one month at a time like the last guy). The new doctor doesn't wear a scrub shirt either.

*I couldn't help that one.

Carrying on...

I told the new doctor that I don't believe I have Multiple Sclerosis. He didn't bite...not even a nibble. Not even when I said it a second time. I guess it's a good thing he didn't bite, because he is trying to help me with my fatigue (unlike my GP), my jumpy legs, and my relationship with my Rebif.

And now for the rub - I no longer believe that I don't have MS. Thanks to the MS Hug.

The MS Hug is not how it sounds. Hugs make you feel comforted, loved, safe...the MS Hug makes you feel suffocated, scared. It can be painful, annoying and unwanted.

And I got my first hug, (at least that I noticed) last week. I thought that I was having a heart attack. It started with a crushing pain in my chest, right in between my breasts. The pain traveled to my left shoulder, and then down my left arm, and the chest pain radiated through to my back. It was difficult to breath: I was scared and agitated. In my mind, I was arguing with myself over whether or not I should call 9-1-1. The "event" lasted just under ten minutes.

Over the next few days, the pain returned to my shoulder and arm: it felt like my arm was asleep, but with pain. I have had tightness in my chest, and at times, it's hard to take a deep breath. The tightness in my chest is something that I have had with my MS from almost the beginning. But the pain in my chest, and chest pain that is accompanied by shoulder and arm pain is new.

I had heard of the MS Hug (also known as the Girdle). I thought that maybe the annoying numbness over my right ribs was "The Hug". Now I see that it is more funny (sometimes it tickles) and "The Hug" is not funny. It does not tickle. And without discussing it with my mom, I probably would have continued to think I had a heart attack (I even took an aspirin the second time), and been too embarrassed to call 9-1-1.

*the MS Hug is caused by a lesion on the spinal cord
*tiny muscles in between each rib go into spasm (nerves control muscles)
*feelings can happen anywhere in between the waistline and the chest (rarely up to the neck)
*worse during fatigue or stress
*can last for minutes or weeks

 So - it finally hit me - Shit. I really do have MS.

Failing My Goals

I think that it is normal to set goals (even mini goals) for the day. Well maybe "goal" is too heavy of a word: it's good to intend to accomplish things in a day, and therefore work to accomplish these things. Or is this my own warped thinking: every day must have purpose; we have responsibilities to ourselves, our loved ones, and our community.

I have recently come to the realization that I don't ever set "napping" as a goal. It is never something that I intend to do. It is in fact, something I fight against doing. Napping gets in the way of the other goals I have set, like beading, dead heading flowers, sweeping, or making cookies. Napping takes precious time away from my REAL goals (my average nap is 2 hours long and then I require cobweb shaking after that).

So by not setting out to nap every day (making it a goal), I fail at accomplishing my daily goals.

Can you see how that works?

What I Learned About Garlic

I'm so glad that I watch television. Where else would I learn about how to select garlic at the grocery store? I mean, who just decides to Google garlic (I confess, I just did in preparation for this post).

Have you ever brought a garlic bulb home and had it fall apart? Or gone to chop up a clove, and it was all dry? Let me share some hints with you, so that doesn't happen again...

1. don't buy a bulb that is falling apart or starting to open up - it's old
2. bulbs with pink-purplish bits are fairly fresh (picked recently)
3. toss the bulb in the air - the faster it comes down, the younger it is (older bulbs are lighter and don't fall as fast)

A One Photo Vacation

We (Jason and I) are now entering the second phase of our Summer Vacay 2011. This is the "stay at home and be quiet after surviving 7 days with an 8 year old and a 6 year old" portion. The energy of our nieces is amazing (which makes the energy of my sister even more amazing) and endless.

The energy would have been fun to capture on camera, but it was a Catch 22 for me. Pulling out my camera and clicking away (even mindlessly) would have required energy on my part, and when R & R see a camera, they have to see the photo, plus take a photo themselves, then redo the action that prompted getting out the camera in the first place. Energy.

Realizing this, on the last day away from home, Jason and I snapped this one of us leaving our hotel room.

P.S. Annie (my sister) noticed that I wasn't "doing my MS shots"

A Vacation Within a Vacation

The second annual Winnipeg-Ontario family vacay in Wisconsin starts this week-end. There will be lots of games played, lots of towel drying after swimming, numerous bottles of sunscreen applied, and great food. What there won't be is Rebif - no injections for me.

I have decided to take another Rebif Holiday. These are maybe becoming a little too frequent, but until I see my neuro in October, this is how I plan to handle it. This time, I'm taking a full 2 weeks off, not just the one week that I have taken lately. This means that my sites will have a 3 week break from the drug. My sites are ugly and the pain during injection is scary...okay, the pain isn't scary, my yelling and screaming is scary. My arm sites aren't just ugly, they are sore. If it was just ugliness, I could handle it.

I see no point in tainting this vacation with my troubles. It's a 10 hour for Jason and I and a 10 hour drive for those coming from Kitchener. So there will be no PID sickness and no pausing in the middle of a card game so that I can do my shot. The only pausing will be to refill the drinks and the chip bowl!

I tested out my water hat earlier this summer - it's ready to go! Now, I will pack.

ChocoBanana with PB

um yeah. Just let me finish licking my fingers...

This morning I stumbled across a recipe for a frozen treat (in actuality, it scrolled by on my twitterfeed and I click it). It seemed pretty easy - I had all of the ingredients (minus one because I don't like coconut): peanut butter, chocolate chips and bananas.

I'm not a fan of peanut butter and chocolate together, but I do like chocolate, and I do like peanut butter and banana together. And I had some coloured sprinkles to replace the coconut.

I didn't take any photos as the blog where I found the recipe has enough. But I can give you two suggestions:

1. make sure your banana chunks are large, and the banana is firm. Mine were difficult to maneuver without using my fingers.

2. the warmer the chocolate/peanut butter mix, the neater the coating job

So with no further chatter - here is the link to this delicious treat: (never home)maker

Enjoy...I sure did!

A Good Run and A New Project

What a run!

10 days of feeling good and getting things accomplished. Making small errand trips on my own and not napping in the afternoon...

I even managed to wrap my head around a new sewing project: reusable sandwich bags. I have wanted to sew a prototype for months, but I couldn't "think" about it. I couldn't work through the steps, or how the bag would work.

I also wanted to research the best material for the liner: it needs to be wipe-able and food safe. For me, using the same pattern and materials as other sewers making these bags wasn't good enough: I need to know that I can confidently answer any questions about the bags. Doing the on-line research (and anything else on the computer) drains me, even when I am already drained.

But not this week...I had a great run!


Last week, I was so excited to see rhubarb for sale at the local veggie store. I know, you shouldn't have to BUY rhubarb. But I don't have a rhubarb plant, and I didn't think that I knew anyone who did. So every summer, I WISH that I had rhubarb.

strawberry-rhubarb pie. stewed rhubarb and ice cream. rhubarb muffins. rhubarb sticks with a side of sugar for dipping. all real good childhood memories.

Well I snatched up two huge sticks so fast...and then they sat in the fridge for a few days...until today. First thing this morning (okay, I had breakfast first, and looked up a recipe to see how much rhubarb I would need for muffins) I sliced up those sticks. Then I loaded up the food processor for a finer chop.*

*since I was on a roll with the knife, I also sliced the tomato and onion for dinner

I made a list of the ingredients I would need. The recipe calls for whole wheat flour (which I have in the pantry, and was excited to be able to use it), rolled oats (which I didn't have), brown sugar (which I had in the form of tiny stones and pebbles so fresh was needed), cinnamon, baking soda (I had some, but just in case it was getting old, I bought fresh), one egg, milk, lemon juice and vegetable oil. As far as I'm concerned, anything that has brown sugar and cinnamon as ingredients, must be delicious.

The recipe:
2 cups chopped, fresh or frozen rhubarb
1 egg
1 cup milk
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 1/2 whole wheat flour
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 salt
In a bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, lemon juice and the vegetable oil.
In another, large bowl, with a fork, mix together the whole wheat flour, brown sugar, rolled oats, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.
Make a "well" in the center of the dry ingredients, and pour the egg mixture in, and stir just until combined.
Gently stir in the chopped rhubarb.
Spoon the batter into muffin cups or paper lined muffin cups.
Bake in center of oven at 350° F or about 28 - 32 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool muffins in the pan for about 5 minutes, and then remove to a cooling rack.
Makes about 12 - 15 muffins 

I will say, the muffins taste good, or at least the "bits" that I have had. I didn't grease my silicone pan...I didn't think that I had to (and I'm still not convinced that I do)...and the muffins fell apart when I tried to take them out.

The second batch (I got 17 muffins in total) I cooked in a greased metal pan...they stuck too. I was also short 1/4 cup of whole wheat flour (thank goodness I had white to add) AND I sprayed the stove, wall and surrounding paraphernalia with the wet mixture (I used what I thought was an electric whisk thingy, and I turned it the wrong way).

If you decide to try this recipe yourself, take note where it says to use a large bowl for the dry ingredients - use the LARGEST bowl you have. You have to stir in the wet ingredients (after making a well in the dry) and still add the rhubarb.

Avocado Bits

Here is another little tip that I learned while watching television: how to slice up avocado chunks...the easy way.

Slice the fruit in half the long way, as shown in the photo. I do this by holding the avocado in my hand and circling around (tip to tip) with a knife. You won't (and don't) go all the way through because of the large pit. Once you have a knife path all the way around, gently twist the fruit...voila, you have two nice halves to work with.

Next, run a knife from the outside of the flesh/fruit just to the inside of the skin. Do this all down the length of the fruit, and then repeat this action on the width, creating tiny squares. You can hold the fruit half in your hand for better control, just be careful not to go all the way through the fruit flesh and skin with the knife!

Once you have all of the little squares, turn the half  "inside out" or "invert the skin". The little squares should fall out, of at least come out very easily with a little help from your fingers.

Break Required

Is this what they mean when they say "unable to tolerate":

The above picture was taken exactly 2 weeks following the injection in this arm. Knowing that my arms are the least painful to inject, this wasn't a terrible injection. But the aftermath is shocking! There was no blood spill, not even a trickle. Just a little pea sized did that get there? First time for everything. This bruise in large, and it isn't getting better. I'm now at 3 weeks, and it still looks like this.

Prior to the above injection, I had taken an "injection vacation": one week of giving my skin a break, injection free. Too many red spots, faded purple blotches, and sore areas.

Last night, I checked my right arm in the mirror, looking for a spot to inject, only to discover the entire area was taken up by a red and purple tinge. Outer thighs, same thing. Back hips, same thing. So I'm on another injection vacation.

 A "normal" red mark

So I ask, is this what they mean by not tolerating the medication? Are there long term consequences to these injection reactions? They only seem to be getting worse: I have been on Rebif for 3 years.

How Was That Massage?

The massage was wonderful. What else can I say.

However, it wasn't wonderful in a relaxing way. It was wonderful in that I woke up with LESS of a headache today than I have in months. So much LESS, it was almost like not having a headache. I have already booked my next session.

My massage therapist has created a plan for us...something related to my parasympathetic nervous system (the opposite of fight or flight, or the sympathetic nervous system). Massage and drainage to help with my twitchy legs, teeth clenching, breathing, headaches and migraines, AND working out my injection sites to help prevent any scar tissue. All in a one hour massage, every five-six weeks.

The massage will be wonderful. That's all I have to say.

For now.

A First Step

Tomorrow, I'm going for a massage. It has been about 16 years since my last massage, and at that time, I was looking for relief from migraine and tension headaches. Now, I'm looking for relief from sleep discomfort/problems caused by this (stupid) disease.

I don't think I can go wrong.

The only thing that I'm worried about (other than finding a parking spot) is my injection sites. They are sore, and sensitive to the slightest touch. In particular, my upper-outer thighs cause me grief daily. I took a week off my injections a couple of weeks ago, in order to give all my sites an extra week of recovery. I don't think it helped any...might have to go longer next time.

And maybe - massage is just what these sites need. Boost up the circulation...

What a Nuisance

My internal thermostat* is screwed. I'm sure that I have mentioned this before, but it's really getting out of hand. I'm always HOT. Countless times per day, my cheeks flush. My head and neck perspire. No wait, perspire sounds tame. I need to wipe the beads of sweat away...does perspire cover that? This is for sure, I don't glisten. I could easily fool people in to thinking that I have been exercising.

Now that the hot weather is upon us - it's getting worse.

*the hypothalamus (located just above the brain stem and approximately the size of an almond) controls body temperature along with other things. I have many lesions in this area.

Today, I am more frustrated than ever before. I want to cry. I want to rip off my clothes and shave my head. I'm home by myself, the air conditioning is on, sitting out of the sun, making a pair of earrings...and what happens...sweat starts to roll down my temple. It's so stupid.

Side note: I recently cut my hair to expose the back of my neck because it's too hot in my body

Where Are the Recipes?

I have been lacking in my recipe/cooking posts! I have two to go (in my brain, and on my camera) I just haven't sat down and poured them out here on the blog. One is for Parmesan Crusted Tilapia and the other is for a Chicken Pasta Salad. Jason and I have enjoyed the fish twice, and as non-fish eaters, this is huge!

Also lacking is my energy to cook. I had a good run, and I'm sure that it will come back. I have had a number of other things going on, both physically and mentally, and these things have left me drained.

So never fear - I'll be sharing my cooking experiences again!

It's the Most Expensive Time of the Year...

...and the drug company put up the price!

I know, there is no collusion between the insurance company, the drug company, or the even the pharmacy. But still...the price increase with my Rebif corresponds to the time of year that I have to pay out of pocket for my drugs.

I knew that I would have to pay some money, but the amount I was asked to pay caused me to do a double take at the receipt. The retail price of the Rebif has gone up from $1921.92 to $2025.71 per month - in just one month. I am blessed to have insurance that helps with this amount, and next month I shouldn't have to pay anything - but what about the people who don't have insurance, or who don't live in a Province that covers Rebif?

At the Comedy Club...

Multiple Sclerosis - you're getting on my nerves.

Oh Them Wobbles

"The fires are high". That is the phrase I turn to when I can't figure out why my symptoms (ie. numbness, swallowing, wobbles) return after being dormant, and I officially can't call it a relapse. The phrase came from the first neurologist who treated me, and I refer back to his wise (and helpful) words when I struggle with things MS related...except the other day.

When my wobbles perked up last week, without any provocation from my daily actions, I told myself that "the fires are high". I was okay with that: I would take some pills and stay out of the kitchen. But when they showed up yesterday while playing a board game with Jason (sitting still), suffice it to say that those words gave me little comfort. Had I put a little extra concentration in to the game? It sounds crazy, I know, but getting wobbles from thinking is not new for me, but it is new lately.

I don't enjoy math or science, but I do like to have concrete I ask....WHY?!

Mom Is My Guest Poster!

My mom, known on here as Ladyfingers, has a passionate opinion on all things that involve MS. Ladyfingers doesn't keep her thoughts buried when it comes to CCSVI, so I asked her if she would be interested in writing a "bit" for my blog. And what better time to do so then when Canada is diving into it's fourth federal election in seven years.

The first paragraph is a long-length version of what she writes on the political propaganda that litters our mailboxes. You read that correct, she returns the propaganda with her own desires and questions - ignoring the "cause" the politico has highlighted.

A Federal election. Time for me to hone my speech. Am I campaigning
for a Party? No. I am searching for a Party; a Party, a leader,
someone with authority. I want someone to guarantee for me that they
will "take up the cause" of all Canadians who are suffering from
Multiple Sclerosis. I want more Federal money going to the MS Society
(presently 95% of their contributions are from the public.). I want
CCSVI clinics opened up to investigate & treat MS patients . Certainly
the fact that so many sufferers are going to other Countries at a
great personal expense should make them realize how serious the
disease is. If a person is willing to put his or her life in danger
for this procedure does that not speak volumes? Seventy thousand
people in this country are victims of MS.

I am returning any & all mail I get from any Political Party with this
message hand written & signed by me. I have been returning my MP's
mail for a year. I have voted in every election since 1968. I may have
voted in my last.

People keep saying there are no issues, that this election is a waste
of money. Perhaps these same people need to know about the suffering &
disabiliy experienced by MS patients. Canadians die every day of this
disease. Isn't this worthy of being an issue?

I continually receive mail from the MS Society saying  "we are so
close to a cure". Wouldn't the Gov't. in power be thrilled if it could
claim to have contributed to it?

Kitchen Secret From a Wannabe Cook with MS

On the days that I know I will be tackling a new recipe for dinner, I lay low for the day. There was a time (and sometimes still) in the past five years that spending time in my kitchen was next to impossible for me. Stopping, turning and moving did nothing but bring on wobbles for me, which in turn brought on frustration and tears. Also, reading directions and having confidence in my comprehension of the directions is also a problem.

Laying low, is exactly what it sounds like, except that it involves "prepping" on and off throughout the day. If I find myself in the pantry, searching out a snack, I will remove some of the ingredients for dinner: oil, foil, cans etc. and place them on the counter. I may spend some time mid afternoon chopping and cutting the veggies. If I'm feeling really good, I'll cut up some extras, or grate some extra cheese for meals the next day.

As much as I take one day, one hour at a time, some things still require pre-planning.

In the Kitchen #6

As promised, here is our first Rachel Ray meal WITHOUT pasta!

A one-up on the "twice baked potato"'s the Shepherd's Pie Stuffed Potato. You can find the recipe HERE

What we eliminated:
- mushrooms. I don't eat fungus.
- we used ground beef instead of ground sirloin
- we chose Dijon mustard over spicy brown mustard

What we would do differently next time:
- select larger potatoes so that you can stuff more in to the shell. We had leftover potato (and beef) which wasn't so bad: Jason ate it as leftovers the next day
- have a salad on the side

What is new to us...and what we learned:
If you spoke with me shortly after I made this delicious meal, you would have heard me gushing about mixing equal parts of soy sauce, Dijon mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. I am familiar with these ingredients as stand-alone flavouring (except for maybe combing Dijon and Worcestershire)...we only ever use soy sauce in stir fry.

I also got to try out my recently learned lesson on cutting peppers: note from the picture above there aren't seeds all over the cutting board! Slice off the top and bottom, slice down the pepper to open it up, and then run your knife around the joint between the "guts" and the pepper flesh. So easy!

Our rating:

Up next: FISH

In the Kitchen #5

How about a little Summer Corn tastes like corn chowder! You can grab the recipe HERE

I know, it's not summer. And canned corn isn't the same as local corn, fresh off the cob. However, Jason and I both love corn, and the picture in the Rachael Ray book looked good enough to eat. And, if you haven't noticed, we seem to love any dish that involves pasta.

What we eliminated:
- once again, we substituted veggie broth for chicken broth, because that is what we had access to
- we used can corn instead of corn on the cob (Rachel recommends that when corn is in season, scrape it off the cob and freeze it so that you can enjoy it in the off season. I recommend that if you have corn on the cob - EAT IT!)

What we would do differently next time:
- Jason thought that he made a mistake part way through, when following the instructions...but we can't remember what it was

One of us was the head chef - can you guess by the outfit?

New to us in this recipe:
- using three different fresh herbs: thyme leaves, parsley and basil leaves (instead of tarragon leaves). *
*the version of the recipe that I linked to at the beginning of this post only calls for two fresh herbs, thyme and basil (or tarragon)
- shallots - what is the difference between a shallot and a regular onion?

I found the meal to be sweet - maybe a bit too sweet.  The recipe also yields 4-6 servings - and it sure did!

Our rating:

Next up...something without pasta! Stay tuned!

It's a New Drug!

The clinical trials are over! Following in the path of the FDA and the European Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use, Health Canada has approved Gilenya (also known as Fingolimod) - the first oral treatment (read: disease modifying drug) for Relapsing Remitting MS!

Yup - it's a capsule...taken once a day. Like other DMD's, it will prevent t-cells and b-cells from crossing the blood-brain barrier: it will keep the bad guys away from the central nervous system (keeping them sequestered in the lymph nodes instead).

And like Tysabri (the once-per-month IV infusion), Gilenya will not be a "first" treatment, as the risks are higher* when compared to beta-interferons or glatiramer acetate. High risk, potentially better try the injections first.  Gilenya is approved for people who have tried more than one DMD, and are either unresponsive or intolerant to these treatments.

*during the trials, there were cases of skin cancer and inflammation of the brain

Anything But Lonely

Jason and I have two special kitty cats: a big one and a little one (don't confuse size with age, they are 14 and 12). Like many parents with children (fur babies or other) we love our girls for their unique personalities. The big one is social, independent and non-demanding. The little one is somewhat anti-social with guests, needy, and demanding.

As I approach five years of being a SAHM (stay at home mom), my relationships with my girls has undoubtedly changed from what it was when I worked full-time.

Little cat has not let me out of her sight...for five years. Unlike most cats who sleep 13-16 hours per day, little kitty sleeps an average of 12 - which is the same hours that I sleep (including a 2 hour nap). And when she is awake, I am awake (not always by choice), and we are together.

In five years (as evidenced in these photos taken over the past 2 1/2 months) she has learned the following skills: sewing with a machine, casting shadow puppets, making jewelry with chain, going places she shouldn't go. Obviously, these photos were only taken when I had a camera handy: imagine all of the times when a camera isn't around.

So do I get lonely? Not in the least. I have a constant companion.

Is it pet/animal sense?
Why does the little cat stalk me? A good friend of mine believes that my sweet baby has sensed/senses that I'm not as healthy as I was in the first 7 years of her life and it's her job to watch over me.

Other friends and family believe that my sweet baby simply has an obsession...with me.

In the Kitchen #4

I am not a fan of soup. Number one reason is that it's on my "foods to avoid because of mixed consistency" list given to me by the speech pathologist who helps me with my MS related swallowing challenges. Number two reason is that it warms my insides: my internal thermostat is already screwed up, I don't need help from soup. But when flipping though the Rachel Ray cookbook, Jason and I both agreed that we just had to try this one: Three Bean Pasta e Fagioli.

So here we go! If you would like to try this recipe out, you can find it HERE.

What we eliminated:
- we weren't able to find cannellini beans, so we selected Navy Beans
- we used mini shell pasta because we couldn't find mini penne or ditalini
- we substituted vegetable broth for chicken broth because we were sharing with vegetarians

Things to do better next time:
- we would add the green beans a bit sooner than called for in the recipe

 We all agreed that the citrus flavour (courtesy of the lemon zest and lemon juice) added an unexpected zip to the bean medley. We accompanied the soup with homemade whole wheat bread - YUM!

Our rating:

Brain in Overdrive

My mom says that I am trying to do too many things at once. The reality is that I don't accomplish half of the things that I think about doing. I am never "wanting" in the things to do department: I am never bored. And with never being bored, maybe I am never relaxed.

Every day is a race, against myself, trying to outrun the want-tos and have-tos.

I'm a good opponent - Multiple Sclerosis is not. I continue to learn that sweeping the floor and washing the pots and pans is not a "have-to". Watching television, in particular shows with food and cooking segments*, and renting videos of tv shows that I never watched but wanted to, is good. Reading a book is good.

*okay, cooking shows maybe aren't such a good thing because I want to learn about food and food prep. I don't seem to be able to watch with a large hole filter, rather I watch with a lock and box.

All this being said, I have two recipes that I am waiting to share with you! Stay tuned. As well, I plan on sharing some of recent fictional reads.

In the Kitchen #3

It's another Rachel Ray recipe! Once again, even though we were attracted by the product photo, we were excited to try some new ingredients.

Pancetta, the dry looking meat in the deli case that I usually wrinkle my nose at, is bacon's Italian cousin! How can you NOT like that? And Marsala - it's wine! I'm familiar with Chicken Marsala, Veal Marsala...I thought that it was type of tomato sauce. And with my leftover wine, I've been advised that it marries quite well with dark chocolate.

The last mystery ingredient for Jason and I was a can of San Marzano Tomatoes. I didn't bother to check it on the internet before I went grocery shopping - certain that I would find it in the tomato aisle of the grocery store. NOT. It turns out that San Marzano tomatoes are a variety of plum tomato (fewer seeds and stronger taste than a roma tomato), and are known for making the best sauces. Also, if you are eating (or making) a true Neapolitan Pizza, it must contain San Marzano tomatoes.

If you would like to try out this recipe, you can find it HERE

What we eliminated:
-there is nothing in this recipe that we intentionally eliminated
-we used Italian flavoured diced tomatoes because we couldn't find canned San Marzano tomatoes
-we used boneless, skinless chicken breasts instead of chicken thighs

Things to do better next time:
-have the pancetta sliced in to thicker pieces
-put the bay leaf in at the right time - not too late

I also put in less rosemary than was called for - and I'm glad that I did.

Our rating:

Look What I Made!

Last night, I attended the second monthly gathering of  "Sew Free Winnipeg". I went hoping to pick up a few tips, as sewing is something that I want to learn more about. I figured what better way to grow than joining a gathering of other individuals who own a sewing machine that spends more time in their closet than on the work table!

With sewing machines whirring, and top-stitch guidance, we each created a sweet little zipper pouch! As you can see in the photo, it's a perfect size for reward cards as well as your change.

I plan to make more of these little beauties: it was unbelievably easy, even with a zipper! It feels great to learn something new: now to put my new skill to use before I forget it.

In the Kitchen #2


Who doesn't love a chocolate chip cookie? And who wouldn't love a homemade chocolate chip cookie that covers 3 important chocolate bases: white, milk, and semi-sweet ? Delicious chocolate chips, and a swirl of of melted chocolate!

These cookies are a favourite in my house (along with the Easy Peanut Butter Cookie recipe that can be found on the back of the peanut butter jar!) But this time, with this recipe, I'm trying something different. The instructions said that the dough could be frozen in balls, and when removed from the freezer, cooked from frozen for an additional five minutes.

I formed the balls on a cookie sheet and instead of placing them in the oven, I slid them into the freezer. This would ensure that the balls would not stick together as they froze. The next day I placed the frozen balls into a freezer bag: it's easy to remove however many cookies I want to bake, whenever I need a cookie!

You can find the recipe HERE

The Exit Isn't Far Away

Last week, I survived another brain MRI. I've become an old hat at this! I have now been in 4 of the cities 5 (or 6) public MRI machines - and I've got to say, the machine last week rocked! The image below is of the Siemens 3T new best friend. It is shorter than a "standard" machine (but still longer than a CT machine and a smaller opening) and it has a 27" opening (compared with the typical 24"). This means that only the part of the body being scanned is at the center of the "tube" - and even for my 5'1" frame, half of my body was still on the outside!
It made different sounds than the "old" machine - it wasn't as rhythmic, and therefore not as distracting and entertaining.  I still had to have earplugs, and a head cage, and a cloth over my eyes, and no one talked to me in between scans...but it was a good experience. Maybe in a few years Winnipeg will have a MRI machine like the one below...but I won't need it.

In the Kitchen

Romaine Lettuce? Nope.
Spinach? You don't like spinach. Nope.
It's escarole.

Shortly before Christmas, Jason and I picked up a Rachel Ray recipe book. It was on clearance, but could it be that bad? The pictures look fabulous!

Since we brought home the book, I have been itching to make the Caesar Spaghetti. Without all of the ingredients, but prepared to omit or substitute, Jason and I tackled it!

To try the recipe yourself, here is a quick link for you: Caesar Spaghetti Recipe

What we eliminated:
anchovy fillets
Pecorino romano cheese - we substituted with Parmesan because that is what we had
coarse black pepper - I'm assuming that the pepper we used was not coarse

Things to do better next time:
don't "cook" the escarole for as long
when adjusting the recipe to serve 2 instead of 4, don't forget to cut back on the noodles

What is escarole? This leafy green is a variety of endive - but with broader, paler leaves, and a less bitter flavour. It's high in fiber, folic acid, and vitamins A and K.

Our rating:

It's a New Look

This is my third blog make-over since I began blogging on June 17, 2007. Seeing as I change my hairstyle more often, I think that three times in 3 1/2 years is pretty good (now if only my mom could get my dad to change his socks). You may remember the polka-dots, and then the flowers (I wasn't fond of the polka-dots. Polka dots are for socks).

When I realized that I was about to change the vibe of my blog, a new "look" was a given. A lemonade stand, or photos of lemons seemed too obvious (and tacky...almost sticky sweet). I wanted a fresh look. I wanted a bright look. I needed something catchy. While most people may use this free template for their food blog, I think it makes for a great life blog.

And besides, the lady in the top right corner looks like

Time For a Change

First - I want to apologize for neglecting my blog. I've been busy - and quite frankly, I have increasingly felt that the mandate of my blog is shifting. Up until last night, I wasn't sure where it was going, and if I was ready to take it on - whatever it might be.

While hanging out in an MRI machine last night (trying to calm myself down after convincing myself that I must have metal somewhere on my body), it hit me: I want to blog about how I live, what I do, how I'm going to learn how to cook, crafts and hobbies that interest me, and general life stuff. To sum it up, I plan to share how I learned to make lemonade with the lemons that I was given.

Granted, this blog IS about my life with relapsing-remitting Multiple Sclerosis, and sometimes it might seem a bit sour. But most of the time, it will be cool and refreshing. So check back often, bring an empty glass and I will supply the refreshments (I might even make some cookies, and share the recipe with you).

Little bits about my life with MS

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