Monday, January 21, 2013

A Journey

It's amazing how life can change in an instant. 

As I look back and read my entry about Rainbow Chicken Soup, I can actually remember chopping those vegetables, planning the day and enjoying the sunshine.

A lot has happened since that morning.

Yes, Grandmother was picked up and brought home from the hospital.  Amazed at how weak she was, the next few days quickly turned into caregiving 24/7...and I was picking up 12 of those hours each day.  We knew we had a giant task ahead, helping her regain her strength and setting up care so she could remain at home. 

After a few days, it was obvious that her health was continuing to decline.  Breathing was difficult and her legs started to swell.

My sister-in-law and I took her back to the hospital where they decided to admit her for a few days.  As the ER nurse discussed bringing her some toast, Grandmother took us to the edge and back.  

She had a stroke.  

The first 24 hours were the worst.  We stayed with her as everything inside her tumbled around and around.  All we could do was hold her hand and let her know we were right there beside her, along for the ride.

A week later, she's still here, confused and exhausted, unable to tell us her needs.  She has highs and lows, times when she remembers who we are and times when she doesn't. 

As we wait until she's more stable and the doctors figure out how to manage her multiple problems, we're still holding her hand...24/7.

Life has settled into a pattern...sleep, hospital, sleep.  

Tonight is the first time I've sat at the computer to "play around" and browse through some of the sites I've bookmarked.  I'm trying to wind down enough to go to bed.  My next "shift" is at 3:00 a.m.

We're not sure what's going to happen and how this story is going to end, we just know it's a journey and someone bought us a ticket.

Thank you for listening.  It helped.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Rainbow Chicken Soup

Yesterday I wrote about some of the things I've recently learned about seniors and nutrition.  The story continues...  : )

I was the one to pick Grandmother up from the hospital so I made some Rainbow Chicken Soup for her first lunch at home.  The rainbow part connects to the current focus on choosing darker colours of vegetables - dark green spinach is more nutrient dense, for example, than iceberg lettuce - and having a variety of vegetable colours.  Choosing a variety of colours is just an easy way of hitting all the different vitamins and minerals we need daily.  

Rainbow Chicken Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
two chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup diced WHITE onion
1 cup peeled and diced WHITE potatoes
1 cup peeled and diced ORANGE carrots
1/2 cup of diced YELLOW pepper
1 cup of diced GREEN vegetables
(spinach, sugar snap peas, celery, broccoli stems)

Heat oil, then saute chicken.
Add vegetables and continue to saute.

1 litre (4 cups) no salt added chicken broth
1 can (540 ml/19 oz.) RED tomatoes 
(I used Alymer's Accents - Cracked Peppercorn 
and Roasted Garlic)

Add tomatoes and chicken broth.
Simmer gently 60 - 90 minutes.

Rainbow Chicken Soup

NOTE:  Now you'll notice there are no seasonings.  The chicken had been marinating in an oil/lemon juice/herb mixture.  I was fine with the flavour and had a big bowl of this soup "as is" but I don't usually add a lot of salt, etc.  (Grandmother did add salt!)  Often I'll add salsa and Lea and Perrins Worcestershire sauce.  I was interested to read that the first ingredient in Lea and Perrins is malt vinegar!!  Interesting because I'd just read this article, What's a Good Way to Add a Salty Taste Without Using Salt.

Some rainbow!  What happened to blue/purple, you ask?

Okay!!  I know!!  But wouldn't a little bowl of blueberries topped with yogurt complete my rainbow lunch?

From the Soup Kitchen,
Maggie  : )

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Nutrition for Seniors

Our family is in a bit of upheaval right now.  Grandmother, who is 88, very independent and stubborn is coming home today after a spell in hospital.  Yes, she's fine, but we are going to have to seriously address the whole support services topic to make sure she can remain healthy and safe in her home.

Did I mention she's extremely stubborn?!?!

Nutrition is a big concern so I've been reading up on this topic...

Senior Nutrition and Diet Tips is one of the best articles I've read so far.  

It discusses physical changes...

...sense of thirst declines.
...metabolism slows. generate less saliva 
...your taste and smell senses don't work as well (you lose salty and bitter tastes first)
...your stomach produces less gastric acid (affecting vitamin absorption)
...your digestive system slows down
...medications and health issues often negatively affect sense of taste and appetite

I thought I knew a lot about good nutrition, but learning more about the specific needs of seniors has opened my eyes wide!

Back to my research!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

An Outbox...I need one!

At Apartment Therapy, they've started the January Cure...daily posts to get people started on cleaning out, freshening up and revamping their homes.  

Anyone around here (besides me!) that needs to do that?

Day 2 is all about the OUTBOX.  Yes, I've read about having your "exit" strategy set up...a handy box for donations, ready to be filled as you declutter and then promptly removed from the house.  

The Outbox is a little different, however.  It's a type of halfway house - you can put anything in, but it has to stay there at least one week.  Then you can decide to give away, throw away, recycle OR KEEP that item! 

Sometimes, when I declutter, things just never make it into the donation box...maybe I can find another use for it, or I'll need it some day...  

Putting things into an Outbox is a different approach.  Separate out these questionable items now.  No stress; no worry.  Feel what it's like to live without that item for a week or two, then make the final decision.

Is this approach for everyone?  Maybe not, but it would probably help a fence sitter like me!  What about you?

Sunday, January 6, 2013

# 86 Two great gadgets from Oxo

Oxo tools make a difference.  It's so frustrating working with a gadget that's uncomfortable or doesn't do the job.
Oxo Good Grips Peeler

My Oxo Good Grips peeler is at least 15 years old.  Still looks like new, works like a charm, fits my hand well and I can peel potatoes until the cows come home!  (No cows involved...just an expression!)

Oxo Small Scoop
My latest gadget is an Oxo cookie scoop. I chose the smallest of three sizes.

It easily handled making Soft Ginger Snaps (sticky, soft dough) and also my Chocolate Chip Shortbread (firm dough).  Uniform shape and size, quick and clean - great tool : )

(This is an unsolicited opinion.)

Saturday, January 5, 2013

# 85 Rogers Porridge Oats...yum!

Just want to share a great "new to me" product we found in the cereal aisle...

Rogers Porridge Oats...

...oat flakes, oat bran, wheat bran, flaxseed...period.

No additives.  

High fibre.

Compared to regular cooked oatmeal, I would use the adjective "rustic" a tasty way.  

Have it as porridge, like we have each morning: 

1/3 cup oats
2/3 cup water

Microwave for 2 - 3 minutes, stirring once.
Add a dollop of yogurt and sliced banana.


You can use it when making my (favourite) oatmeal muffins... the oat and wheat bran and flaxseed = "good stuff"!

Maggie's Oatmeal Muffins

Friday, January 4, 2013

# 84 Chocolate Chip Shortbread

One of my favourite shortbread recipes, today's treat is from Jean Pare's Cookies (1988).  I always make a batch at Christmas but also enjoy them at other times of the year.   

Chocolate Chip Shortbread

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour

Mix by hand or in a sturdy mixer until it forms a ball.

1 cup milk chocolate chips

Mix in chocolate chips.
Roll into one inch balls and arrange on ungreased cookie sheet.
Press balls with fork.
Bake at 325 degrees for 10 - 15 minutes.
Makes 5 dozen.

for this recipe and other yummy treats!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

# 83 Birds and Butts

I don't smoke.

I have never smoked.

I've never had anything positive to say about smoking...

...until today.

The University of Mexico in Mexico City has released a study on birds, nests and cigarette butts.

Apparently, birds that feather their nests with used cigarette butts are able to rid their nests of parasitic mites.  

Note to birds: Unsmoked butts do not work nearly as well. They don't contain (sucked up) nicotine.

There's more!!

Tobacco plants are often grown to protect crops by fending off plant-eating insects.  They are also grown to help control parasites where poultry is housed.


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

# 82 The Coup...a great restaurant, a great cookbook

Get any cookbooks for Christmas?

Here's one my daughter gave's from a great vegetarian restaurant, The Coup, on 17th Avenue in Calgary, Alberta.

She LOVES the restaurant AND the cookbook.

Tucked in with the book was a Coup recipe - Maple Balsamic Dijon dressing - yum!  Simple to make in a food processor, it includes:

2 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
90 ml maple syrup
60 ml olive oil
1/2 cup water

I've already tagged some recipes to try...

...Indian Banana Spice Smoothie

...Cashew Yam Burgers (my daughter's favourite)

...Beatnuts Pate...

Hungry yet?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

# 81 Happy New Year

Do you make resolutions?  Fess up!  
"Top Ten" for 2012 were:
  1. Lose weight.
  2. Get organized.
  3. Spend less. Save more.
  4. Stay fit, healthy.
  5. Learn something exciting.
  6. Quit smoking.
  7. Help others accomplish their dreams.
  8. Fall in love.
  9. Spend more time with family.

If you were one of the 8% who actually kept or accomplished your 2012 resolution... good for you!

If you're like the rest of us, recycling a resolution can be "a good thing".

According to the University of Scranton, people who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don't.

Go ahead... commit!