In the Kitchen

Today was another day spent mostly in the kitchen. My morning project was making my mom’s famous fruitcake. The only problem was, we couldn’t find the fruit for the fruitcake, which my parents had been saving for my arrival! We looked and looked.

Fortunately, my dad finally found it and we were in business. Making the cake is challenging because there is much more fruit than there is batter, which makes it hard to stir. In fact you really have to use your hands to mix it up.

While the fruitcakes were in the oven, I had to make an emergency run to Walmart to get something I’d forgotten, and while I was there I thought I might as well pick up the ingredients to make peanut butter fudge, which I know my mother loves.

I made the fudge while she was resting and surprised her with it when she woke up. Then I took a few minutes to walk around the neighborhood and get photos of some of the flowers in bloom:

3-16-18 bradford pear blossoms

3-16-18 daff

When I got back to the house, it was time to make chicken enchiladas. Mom wanted a lot to freeze, so I made three pans. My parents enjoyed some for supper, and the rest will go into the freezer. Since I also made a lot of meatloaf and chili, they should have quite a few easy meals to look forward to.

Tomorrow I’ll get to see my aunt before heading back to spend the afternoon with my kids.


It’s the Ides of March–Beware Already!

I have been very busy since the last time I posted. Tuesday was Lucy’s twentieth birthday, so I was up early making her breakfast in bed. This year’s birthday breakfast in bed consists of Sakeji rice cakes, a coddled egg with ham, bacon knots with garlic and parmesan, cottage cheese with fresh strawberries, grape juice, and tea. I had been waiting for a chance to use my egg coddlers!

3-13-18 Lucy's Breakfast in Bed

Later on I took her out for a birthday lunch at a local Indian restaurant that has a lunchtime buffet. They had at least four kinds of curry and they were all delicious. It was a very tasty meal.

Once we got back home, it was time to finish packing for our trip, and get the car loaded up. Lucy and Jasper got their stuff packed and ready too. Minutes before we left, I heated up some extra rice cakes and then wrapped them in foil and insulated them with two huge towels.

Then we drove up to Gilmer, where I heartlessly dropped the kids off in the square. I thought they might enjoy looking in the shops, but apparently they all closed soon after and the temperature dropped.

Meanwhile, I drove less than a block away to the venue where I’d be speaking to a book club of ladies who had read my memoir. I only knew one of them (the one who had invited me) so I enjoyed meeting the rest.

3-13-18 book club

To my delight, the rice cakes had stayed warm, so I was able to offer the ladies a taste of rice cakes and Marmite, which they had read about in the book. They were such delightful hostesses, and had a lot of great questions for me. The time flew by!

We actually went a little late, much to my offspring’s displeasure. They had holed up in a Taco Bell to stay warm. I consoled them with fries and shake from McDonalds, and then we took off for Texarkana. Driving at night isn’t my favorite, but I was eager to knock a couple of hours off the next day’s driving.

We arrived at our hotel at 10:30 p.m. and settled in for the night. This night was a big “test” for my new mouthpiece. Normally the kids HATE sleeping in the same room with me because of my sleep apnea and snoring. But apparently, the mouthpiece is really working! What a relief.

Yesterday morning we got up and had a nice hot breakfast at the hotel before setting off on our trip. I tried to stay caffeine free, but I confess that I failed. Staying alive on the road was more important.

We arrived at Mary and Jordan’s apartment at about 5:30 in the afternoon, and I stayed for a brief visit before heading on to my parents’ place, leaving Lucy and Jasper to stay with their sister. It was a long driving day, but I made it to my parents’ place at about 9:00, I think.

Today has been all about cooking stuff for my mom. I made two batches of meatloaf and a double batch of chili. Tomorrow: more cooking!

First Day of Spring Break

We had a massive storm on Saturday night, with lots of thunder, lightning, and very loud hail. It woke us all up! So when we went to church on Sunday, it was very wet and gloomy and Jasper and I were very sleepy. We might have been better off sleeping in . . .

Speaking of church, we have been going there for two and a half months now. It has become a familiar routine. Don’t know if I am ever going to fit in there, though. Most people dress quite casually, which is fine, but I’ve noticed that the ladies all seem to have killer footwear. If I want to blend in, I would have to step up my shoe game, and I can’t do it. Jasper is really loving it, though.

By Sunday afternoon, the sun was shining, and today was a perfect spring day—sunny, windy, and cool. I took Lucy and Jasper and one of Jasper’s friends to Jefferson just to do something different. We hung out at the park and the kids had a picnic lunch. Then we drove downtown and the boys went one way and Lucy and I did some window shopping and some reading in the sunshine. Later we did pick up a few items to bring home, including some fudge for the kids to eat in the car.

Once we arrived home, I had a speaking engagement to prepare for, not to mention starting to get ready for our trip, which begins tomorrow evening. Tomorrow is going to be a very busy day, but I’m looking forward to it.

Parting Shot:

3-12-18 Jefferson sign

A sign we saw in the General Store today.

Lead On, O King Eternal

Lead On, O King Eternal

Ernest W. Shurtleff

Lead on, O King eternal,
The day of march has come;
Henceforth in fields of conquest
Thy tents shall be our home.
Through days of preparation
Thy grace has made us strong;
And now, O King eternal,
We lift our battle song.

Lead on, O King eternal,
Till sin’s fierce war shall cease,
And holiness shall whisper
The sweet amen of peace.
For not with swords’ loud clashing,
Nor roll of stirring drums;
With deeds of love and mercy
The heavenly kingdom comes.

Lead on, O King eternal,
We follow, not with fears,
For gladness breaks like morning
Where’er Thy face appears.
Thy cross is lifted over us,
We journey in its light;
The crown awaits the conquest;
Lead on, O God of might.


Sunny Spring Saturday

Today has been a quiet day. It was very warm and sunny. Jasper was up early and out the door to work with his three friends on another yard—this time belonging to a dear friend of mine who lives on the other side of town.

I ran some errands in the late morning and then returned home in time to say goodbye to Daniel. He is off to visit his parents in El Paso, and when he returns, he has another place to live.

I painted some rocks this afternoon and made some killer chicken alfredo pizza for the kids’ supper. Lucy and I had planned to watch the next episode of Anne, but we couldn’t find it. This bothers me, because I know we own it!

Time to set my clock ahead and try to get some sleep!

The Internet Drought of March 2018

Didya miss me? I didn’t post yesterday because I couldn’t. We had no internet all day and then Spencer went to a concert in Dallas, so we had no internet in the evening either. I had to change my plans for my class because I couldn’t print anything out with our wireless printer.

This morning it was more of the same. Spencer slept in, and I wrote my grocery list by hand (oh, the horror!) and then went to Aldi to do the grocery shopping.

When Spencer finally got up, he went to work on the internet connection. It took a while, but he finally got it up and running around lunchtime! What a relief!

After lunch I was invited to have tea with my neighbor Kathy. We have been neighbors for a couple of decades now, but for some reason we rarely manage to get together, so it was a real treat to get caught up with her today.

I remember well how Kathy and I first met. Twenty-two years ago, I was in a serious car accident. I broke my arm, hurt my back, and had facial injuries. I also had to have my gums stitched back to the insides of my cheeks, so my mouth was full of stitches. Various friends banded together to bring us meals for the first few days.

At that time Kathy and her husband lived farther down the street, and I had never met them. But one day, she arrived at our door with a hot meal for us. She had made a delicious chicken and broccoli casserole. However, she had heard about the stitches in my mouth and knew it would be difficult for me to do much chewing—so she made a separate little casserole for me, with all the ingredients chopped up so finely that they wouldn’t really need to be chewed. What a thoughtful gesture! I have never forgotten it.

The last two evenings, Lucy and I have been re-watching Anne of Green Gables. It’s like visual comfort food. Anne has been a huge part of my life since I was a schoolgirl, listening to Miss Mary Poole read Anne’s story to me and the other girls in the dorm.

The Shivering Chauffeur

Today was rough. I was more or less non-functional, apart from coaching Jasper through his research paper. It was my first totally caffeine-free day, and even though I had been carefully reducing my caffeine intake for the last week, I still had a severe headache all day.

Even more troublesome than the headache was the cold. I woke up chilled and stayed that way all day. I could not get warm. I wore my sweatpants and a long-sleeved shirt and a sweatshirt, and I was still freezing. My hands and feet were like ice blocks. For much of the day, I wrapped my hand around my little handwarmer whenever I wasn’t typing. When possible, I would go to my room and climb under the covers to warm up while reading.  This is unusual for me—and no, it was not particularly cold outside. It was just me.

Then despite my weakened condition, I had to do a bunch of kid carting. I drove Jasper to youth group, then had a few minutes to warm up at home before driving to pick up Lucy and then take her to rugby practice. Again, a few minutes of huddling under a blanket and trying not to think about how hungry I was, and then it was time to drive back to the church to get Jasper.

We spent the evening finishing up his paper, and then I still had to prepare for tomorrow’s class. It’s going to be another chilly night and I just hope I can stay warm.

A Close Call & A Departure

Last night, after posting my blog entry, I saw that I had a message. The message was from a lady who had asked me to speak to her book club a couple of months ago, and I had said that March was a good month for me. So she told me the date and then I forgot to write it on my calendar. I had a vague idea that it was the third full week in March, after Spring Break, and I definitely thought I had written it down.

Well, guess what? It’s next week, on Lucy’s birthday (Tuesday). I had been planning to drive to Tennessee on Monday. You can imagine how horrified I would have been if I were seven hundred miles away instead of with the book club on Tuesday! I am so glad I received that message when I did!

So, now my Tennessee trip will be half as long as I originally hoped (it was already shortened by other factors beyond my control), but at least I will get to spend some time with my parents and have a brief visit with Mary and Jordan. I still can’t believe I didn’t write that down on my calendar . . .

Meanwhile, today was the day that Walter left for Russia. We drove to Dallas and since I had a gift card, we stopped at a Mexican restaurant for lunch and I had my first meal of the month. I don’t plan to eat another one for quite some time, but I sure did enjoy my fajitas. That is the only thing I can eat at a Mexican restaurant, as long as I have them without tortillas or rice.

Then it was on to the airport. We arrived in plenty of time, but after seeing the length of the security line we agreed that Walter should probably go ahead and get in it. I had to smile as he gathered his things together, and apologized to me about having to wear his hat indoors, since his hands were full with other things. We are very old-fashioned and he has always been very strict about not letting our boys wear hats in the house!

3-6-18 Walter at airport

By the time I was halfway home, his plane should have taken off. He has a layover in Frankfurt for a few hours, during which his niece Annalena is hoping to go visit him and introduce him to his first great-nephew!

By tomorrow afternoon he will be in St. Petersburg with Mercy. I hope he has enough warm clothing. Russia is cold!


Yesterday was a pretty uneventful Sunday. We went to church and then, since it was the first Sunday of the month, we had a video call with Lina.

I made a big ham dinner and then only had four people to serve it to, so there will be leftovers!

My husband had the day off today so that he could pack and prepare for his trip. Jasper and I got school done and I made a run to WalMart for a few groceries, and I received the paints I ordered so maybe I can finish painting the rocks I started on Saturday!

I also had a chat with my daughter Mary, whom I’ll be seeing next week. So yes, there is another road trip coming up . . .

My Diabetes Miracle #11: About Sacrifice

Sacrifice is no one’s favorite subject. We don’t like to contemplate sacrifice, at least not as it applies to us personally. Years ago, a veteran missionary said to me, “In my lifetime, we have gone from believing that no sacrifice is too great for the cause of Christ, to believing that no sacrifice is acceptable.

I think that observation holds true for many other aspects of modern society. We want all the good things without having to sacrifice anything for them—and a lot of the time, we seem to get away with it. Of course, this mindset holds true for food too. Since going “keto” over a year ago, I often find ads in my Facebook feed for various keto food sites. I rarely click on them anymore, because usually they are showcasing “keto” versions of decadent desserts. Keto cheesecake! Keto cinnamon rolls! Keto fudge! You can have it all and still be keto! No sacrifice!

I disagree with this mindset, speaking specifically as a food addict. If I am chowing down on keto versions of all the foods I’m addicted to, what have I gained? How will my taste buds ever adjust to the foods which are actually good for me? How will I learn to focus on the natural, healthy foods my body needs? Not to mention the fact that my body doesn’t handle artificial sweeteners well, and that they raise insulin even if they don’t have calories. So, I don’t save those types of recipes. I sacrificed my love of sugar and flour to my desire to be healthy and I don’t see any value in “cheating.”

Which brings me to the sacrifice I’m currently struggling with. After finding out my cholesterol and triglycerides were high, despite all my heroic efforts, and despite taking all the right supplements, I did a lot of research. There are several possibilities for what is causing this phenomenon in my body right now—but apparently only one solution that is likely to be effective. I do not like this solution. The solution is fasting.

I know what you’re thinking. I already fast a lot of the time, right? My current regimen involves fasting for three days a week, three weeks out of the month. The fourth week I fast for five consecutive days. That practically qualifies me for sainthood, yes? Fourteen days of every month with no food. Yet, it is not enough to deal with my current issues, and I vowed when I started this journey that I would do whatever it takes for as long as it takes.

So I have embarked upon an open-ended fast. There are probably a couple of occasions during the coming days and weeks when I will have a meal, but for most of it I will be fasting. Up until now, I have still allowed myself tea with cream in it while fasting, because cream does not raise blood glucose. However, any food raises insulin levels, and that’s what I’m trying to avoid. So I have spent the first few days of my fast stepping down off caffeine, because I have never been successful at adjusting to plain black tea. In a couple of days I will have switched over completely to herbal “tea” and water. Nothing with calories.

This level of sacrifice is hard for me. Fasting is hard. It’s not like I can retreat to a cabin in the woods and think deep thoughts to distract me from food. I still have to smell food and cook food and watch other people eat food. As I read recently, that’s like making a recovering alcoholic live in a bar! Sometimes I feel ravenously hungry, but most of the time I just really want to eat. Except that I can’t.

I am always so bemused when I hear other people bragging about how wonderful they feel while fasting, how euphoric and full of energy. This has never been true for me. I find fasting very difficult and demoralizing, but up until now I have at least had my three cups of tea per day to look forward to. Now I find I must sacrifice even that, for an indefinite amount of time. I assume it will be at least until the end of the month—maybe longer.

The little kid in me wants to scream, “It’s not fair!” Of course it’s not fair. It’s not fair that some people can eat whatever they want without gaining weight or getting diabetes, whereas I can fast for almost half of every month and still stop losing weight and have high triglycerides. I feel like I’ve already sacrificed so much. How can it not be enough?

This kind of thinking is pointless. Instead of letting my mind run down that path, I am trying to take a higher road, to train my brain to focus on gratitude. I’m so thankful that I’ve come so far, that I’ve been able to do so much for my own health. And I’m thankful that I still have this one last weapon left in my arsenal—sacrificing even more because the payoff will be worth it. And the only reason I’m telling you this is that if you happen to see me in person this month, and I seem a little grumpy, this is why. I’m working on my attitude, but I can’t say I have conquered it yet!