Tuesday, February 19, 2019

The World of Little House

I read this book at the end of January/early February, and will link it to Barbara's wrap-up post at the end of the month for her Laura Ingalls Wilder reading challenge.

This is actually a children's book -  an older child, that is.  But it's also interesting for an adult to read.  It tells many things about the Little Houses that may not be known, and gives interesting additions to the books themselves.  For example, recipes are included for Almanzo's Buckwheat Pancakes (from The Long Winter), and Pulled Molasses Candy (from Farmer Boy).

Some of the entries cause this book to seem like many of the other books about Little House that are out there these days - written to capitalize on the popularity of these classic books.  Even though the recipes given above (and others) were interesting, they fall into that category.  They are no doubt just representative recipes of the foods Laura wrote about in the books.  Some of the crafts in the book (for example, how to make name cards) are the same thing - not really from the book, but just representative of the era.

One thing I really did appreciate about the book was the schematic drawings given for each Little House.  They were really informative and showed clearly how tight the living quarters were.  This is Pa's store building that the Ingalls family lived in during the Long Winter, and the following winters in Little Town on the Prairie.

Of course this book did not contain any of the unvarnished truth about Laura's relationship with Rose, or the other unhappy information that has come to light in recent years.  It is a very happy, simple book written for children, but I did enjoy it because of some of the good information in it.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Dramatic Life Change

My life changed drastically four weeks ago.  Drastically.

In early January, I went to a local urgent care because of bronchitis.  The alert physician on duty, who happens to be a friend from church, did some bloodwork because he noticed on my records something unusual from a pre-op exam 16 months ago - a high blood sugar reading at that time.  Later that morning he called me.  "Your blood sugar is high, and you also have a high A1C.  You are a diabetic.  You need to get to your family doctor ASAP."

Four days later my family doctor confirmed what I already knew.  The nurse confirmed it even before the doctor came in the room.  Type II diabetes. The numbers are such that I had to go on oral medicine right away - no possibility of trying to control it by diet first.  The next morning I started a daily routine of checking my fasting blood sugar before eating anything.

Turns out that diabetes is genetic on Dad's side of the family.  I didn't realize how many family members have/had it until this came to light.

I immediately began eating low-carb.  Fortunately, Mike likes to eat low-carb when he is trying to lose weight, so he is 100% supportive.  My numbers have come down somewhat, but after four weeks they are still not where they should be.  I told him a few days ago that I HATE eating low-carb.  His response?  "Well, do you hate diabetes more?"

One thought that helps is knowing that eating low-carb is not a choice.  It is a choice that has been made for me.  I can't cheat "just this once," which, if done just for dieting, merely delays the diet a little bit.  If I cheat, or don't watch this closely, I can lose my vision.  Or kidney function.  Or a limb.  Or develop heart disease.  I could already have damage, as yet unknown, because apparently this has been going on a long time.  (Why someone didn't say something at that pre-op exam, I do not know.)

I'm exercising more, because apparently that stimulates insulin production.  I have lost almost five pounds in the past four weeks.  That's in addition to the 10 pounds that I apparently lost from the diabetes.  (Unexpected weight loss is an early diabetes symptom.  I do not recommend it as a weight-loss plan.) 

Blueberries cooked with Splenda,
over plain yogurt
I've learned a lot about alternate eating.  I read labels incessantly.  The only bread I eat is one piece of rye toast with butter/olive oil blend (no jam) at breakfast.  No more sweets, baked goods, potatoes, rice, or white bread.  I do have an occasional sweet potato.  We eat a lot of eggs, and a lot of salad.  We have learned to like "baked cheese" and have figured out what works in making it, and what doesn't.  (If you're interested, it only works with Sargento ultra-thin cheddar, baked on parchment paper at 250 degrees for half an hour.)  I eat a lot of raw vegetables and dip.  We eat lower-carb vegetables and grilled meat.  We've gone to riced cauliflower.  (And again - we've learned not to buy Green Giant brand.  Pictsweet with onions and edamame tastes much better and has a better texture.)  Today I tried roasted kale, and made candy cane beets from a farmers' market.  I've even learned to like salmon.  Sort of.   I also tried cooking some blueberries in a little water with a little Splenda, then put that over plain low-fat yogurt.  It wasn't ice cream, but it wasn't bad.

It's not easy, and it's not fun.  But it has to be done.  I feel like God kind of slapped me in the face and said "You've had your fun.  Now get disciplined."

I hope that with weight loss and proper eating, I may be able to control the symptoms and get off medicine.  That's my prayer.  

Friday, January 11, 2019

Friday's Fave Five 1-11-19

 LINK to Friday's Fave Five Host Blog

1. This picture may not seem like much, but it is beautiful to me.  My husband was able to get out today, and cut down the lantana bushes that have been dead since October.  He usually gets that job done sometime in November, but was unable to this fall due to his health situation.  He is doing so much better since getting a diagnosis from a rheumatologist ten days ago, and the fact that he has been able to get out and do yard work today makes it a very important FFF item for which I am thankful.

2. Finished bedroom with lamps.  We liked the lamps when we saw them in a furniture store a couple of weeks ago, and almost bought them that day - until I saw a bird poop stain on one of the shades.  :-)  So the store had to order us new ones.  (Doesn't it always go that way!)  They came in this week and Mike picked them up yesterday.  They match perfectly.

3. I've had a stubborn case of bronchitis, but returned to an urgent care yesterday for a breathing treatment and a steroid shot.  Today is so much better.  Breathing and coughing are not the main things I have to think about today.

4. Supper the other night with dear friends that we do not see very often.  Always nice to be with them.

5. I just bought a FitBit!!  It's time.  It was on sale at Target, I had three gift cards that have been in my pocketbook for too long already, and I had another $60 of gift money in with the gift cards.  So total expense to me was quite low.  Now I've got to learn to use it.  :-)

Friday, January 4, 2019

Friday's Fave Five 1-4-19

LINK to Friday's Fave Five host blog

I am writing this on Thursday night due to being very busy tomorrow with Homecoming activities at my school.  I will set it to post early morning, and hopefully will remember to link it sometime during the day tomorrow.

1. The biggest thing is what happened yesterday.  My husband has had some autoimmune joint issues for about three months now, and they have been steadily getting more serious and incapacitating.  We had had the usual experiences with the medical community - delays in getting tests done due to the holidays, etc.  The worst was having his referral to a specialist lost in a hospital system network, which delayed getting help for him by two weeks.  However, yesterday we had an appointment with a young rheumatologist in a nearby city.  This doctor spent almost an hour with us.  He took a thorough history, did a thorough exam, and drew fluid off his knee.  He gave us a tentative diagnosis, which I read about online later, and this diagnosis fits Mike's symptoms to a T.  We think we are on the way to getting him taken care of, and we are very, very thankful to God for this development.

2. I came down with bronchitis last Saturday.  I went to an urgent care on Monday morning, got on an antibiotic, and am still dealing with the aftereffects.  But it is improving!

3. Daughter got back to her city safely today.  That is always a big relief.

4. Productive day at school today.  My first day back, since I went with Mike to his appointment yesterday, and was sick as well.  I have to have three exams ready for Monday, so have to be on the ball to get everything done.  It's a good feeling to know I'm getting somewhere.

5. Finally - these are repeat pictures from a previous post.  But they are so beautiful that I wanted to put them on FFF.  My niece made the first dish, a kale salad with pomegranates, goat cheese, and nuts, for our Christmas meal.  And my sister is into making macarons, and they look very nice in this dish.  

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Beautiful Christmas Pictures

I meant to put this up with FFF and didn't think about it.  But these pictures from Christmas are too pretty not to share.
My niece made this beautiful Christmas salad.  Kale, pomegranate seeds,
feta cheese, nuts, and a  homemade balsamic vinaigrette.

The ladies of the family

My sister is into making macarons.  They are especially pretty in this dish.

Table setting

Table setting

Friday, December 28, 2018

Friday's Fave Five 12-28-18

LINK to Friday's Fave Five Host Blog

1. On Christmas Eve I finally got to meet this special little boy.  He is the son of my own son's best friend and his wife.  He is precious, very cuddly, and loves attention.  And I loved finally getting to meet him.

2. Several great Christmas celebrations - three were on the 23rd and 24th, and the last one was on the 26th.  (Christmas Day itself was relatively quiet.)  Here is the spread from one of the  celebrations - we have really eaten well this week.

 3. Today I finally got my china cabinet set up again - everything has been in boxes for 20 months due to our long-term home renovation.  I'm so glad to have it all out again, and it was a little like seeing old friends.  :-)

4. Today I put all the Christmas stuff away, including this nativity scene.  It was originally made by my great-uncle for my grandmother, so it is a treasure to have.  

5. And finally - we finally have our new bed set up.  This is its own saga in the middle of the saga of home renovation.  The bed came in two weeks ago - and it was NOT the bed we ordered three months ago.  Turns out the furniture store's website was outdated and the bed we ordered was no longer available - yet the number was assigned to a different bed!  The headboard is the same, so we decided to live with it.  

However, when the foundation and mattress were delivered, they were too tall for the new bed.  So, for ten days I had to use a step stool to get into bed.  And I am tall.  Finally, yesterday, the lower foundation was delivered.  We got a spread yesterday, and maybe we are finally on our way to being done!!  

Oh, that's without including the fact that we started to buy two lamps yesterday that match perfectly.  And right before saying "Yes, we'll take them"--we discovered that one of the shades had a bird poop stain on it.  I am not kidding.  So, if we want them, we'll have to order a new set (can't get the shade alone) and it will take 10-14 days.  That seems to be the story of every step of this renovation.  So I am so glad that it is almost done!!
Our new bed.  First king-size bed we've ever had.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Christmas at Grandma's House

(as posted on our EJK family page)

The last two days were crazy, and tomorrow will be busy also (going to Atlanta for family Christmas), but today has been quiet. And I’ve been fondly remembering Christmas days from the late ‘60s at Grandma K’s house, now the homestead of Perry and Carol Klopfenstein
Our specific family would always leave P-ville fairly early in the morning (having had Christmas the night before with Grandma Hemmer and the aunts) in order to arrive in Gridley in time for church. I remember that all the ladies would sit together, and I remember Aunt Ruth's strong and lovely soprano voice singing in church. Church had an air of excitement about it because of the holiday. 
The whole K family would descend on Grandma’s house afterward, and the pre-meal activities would commence. We five who were about the same age (David, Cathy, Larry, Mark, and I) – maybe Mary and Rhoda also – would play on the stairs while the men sat talking in the living room, and the women chatted and got the meal together. From time to time, Uncle Perry would come out and tell us we were too loud. I'm sure he was right.  
I don’t remember much about the standard meal, but do remember specifically the sponge cake dessert, and the sweets plates – Caramels, chow mein clusters, fudge, chocolate cookies with white icing. There were more, but those are what stand out to me. Oh, those caramels were good!! I’m so glad that several K’s continue the tradition of those. 
The time it took to get the kitchen cleaned up seemed like forever, but no presents could be opened until everything was done. 
People packed into the living room for the gift exchange. Chairs lined the walls, and some of the smaller children sat on the floor. The large tree was loaded with wrapped boxes underneath. It seems like maybe we drew names among the younger generation, but all gave to Grandma, and Grandma gave something to everyone. Her gifts were not large – maybe nice socks or something like that -- but everyone was remembered. 
Some of the younger children passed out all the presents. The gift opening was different from more organized Christmases at other places. Everyone got all their presents at once, and everyone ripped into them all at once. It was glorious Christmas chaos! What a great memory!
Afterward, the unwrapped presents were placed on the dining room table (covered with a lace tablecloth) so that they would not get lost in the shuffle, and so that all could admire what each other received. Then sometimes we would have a “program” in the living room for different ones to perform with piano playing, singing, or saying a piece. Things would wind down a little after that, with people getting leftovers from the kitchen or sneaking just one more caramel or sweet. Children played with new toys, and people talked among themselves.
Our family was always the first to leave, which I always hated. Even though we were going 60 miles to have Christmas with our Uncle Chuck’s family, and it would be fine once we arrived there, I was always saddened to leave the atmosphere of Grandma’s house on Christmas day. We would pile our gifts in the station wagon, back out of the driveway, and head up the highway. I was always in the back end, looking out the windows. (I first saw the belt of Orion in the night sky every year on those trips to Peoria, not knowing what those three stars in a row were, that they are most obvious around Christmas, or that I would teach about Orion in 8th grade science classes for 30+ years—always remembering that yearly drive as I taught those stars.)
We would discuss the wonderful events of the day while riding, and I would silently think about everything as well. I loved the Christmas memories from Grandma’s house.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Friday's Fave Five 11-23-18

LINK to Friday's Fave Five Host Blog

1. Great Thanksgiving day with family on Mike's side.  Our spread was as good as all the others I've seen pictured.

2. Time with some sweet little great-nieces who aren't sure what to think of me, but sure did enjoy the stickers and tablets I brought for them.  Here they are watching their daddy shoot skeet.

3. Anytime we are at my brother-in-law's house for Thanksgiving, shooting skeet is always part of the afternoon activities.  We haven't been there for several years, so we all enjoyed being out on the field either shooting or watching.

4. A two-day work week!!

5. I did NOT get out on Black Friday.  One of the things that I am grateful for, is that I neither need nor want anything that requires getting out in that mess!!

Happy Thanksgiving to all American readers - also the Canadian ones even though their celebration was earlier.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Friday's Fave Five 11-9-18

 LINK to Friday's Fave Five Host Blog

1. Autumn decorations on the mantle!  First year we've had a mantle; therefore, the first year we've had decorations.  

2. I am doing something new this weekend - participating in a craft fair.  Not really me; not really something I have time to pursue, but a church nearby is having one this weekend and I decided to participate.  I've visited it in the past, and it's in a big gym with lots of atmosphere, so it should be something enjoyable and relaxing.  I've enjoyed getting some things ready for it.

3. My parents gave us the shepherd's hook from their back yard, so now I have more feeders than ever outside the kitchen windows.  Makes me happy.  This little shot is of a female purple finch that has been visiting.  We have lots of house finches, but purple finches are much less common.

4. Productive week at school.  Exhausted by the time I get home, but the paper grading has been under control lately.  That's a bigger deal than one may think.

5. This is a funny.  The teacher across the hall took this as proof why 7th graders need us.  :-)

Friday, October 19, 2018

Friday's Fave Five 10-19-18

LINK to Friday's Fave Five Host Blog

 1. The house is coming along!!  We can actually live in it again.  :-)  We still have a lot of pictures to hang, but slowly we are getting it done.  Mike's shoulder and my recent (again) back problems make it difficult to do too much at one time, but progress of any kind makes me happy.

This will be the study/extra room/man cave when it is done.
 2. This is the second week in a row I've had a day of no teaching.  Last week we had a day off due to Hurricane/Tropical Storm Michael that was passing through.  It turned out to be a bust - a delayed opening would have been just as good.  By 10:00 everything had passed through and we had sunny skies!!  Today was a teacher work day, to finish up first nine weeks grades and get anything done that was needed.

3. Very happy students.  (Most of them were here today anyway for an extended day of play practice.)  Our boys won their quarterfinal soccer match yesterday, which ensures that they are going to the state tournament next weekend, for the first time in ten years.  Our girls play their volleyball quarterfinal on Monday (at a school that you, Barbara, are very familiar with.)  :-)  It will be really special if both our boys' soccer and girls' volleyball teams would both get to go to the state tournament at the same time.

4. I've been doing a lot of crochet, in preparation for a craft show next month.  I've never done anything like that but have kind of gotten the bug to try participating in one.  And it is very relaxing to work on small projects in the evenings.  


5. Last week we were contacted by a family member - would we like tickets to the Carolina football game?  With a great parking spot?  Well, I really shouldn't have gone due to lower back issues.  But I did.  And we did have a nice time getting out of town.  The only thing that wasn't great was - the team didn't get a win.  Oh well.  We take what we can get.  :-)  And we are very thankful for our family member's kind gift.