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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