Friday, February 26, 2010

As It Is In Heaven

I'm not a big fan of the Olympics.  I can watch a little here and a bit there, depending on the sport or event.  So last night, I found I couldn't focus on blogging and ended up on Netflix, streaming a movie to the laptop.  Finding a good "play it now" movie can be hit and miss when you follow their recommendations (just for you!), but it's usually a better risk than just searching for a particular genre. 

I AM a fan of foreign movies.  When the 2004, Swedish film, As It Is In Heaven, showed up on my list of suggestions, I didn't hesitate giving it a try.  I'm glad I did.  The film pulled me in and held me throughout.  It's a story of a man whose start in life is a rough one, but he ends up becoming a famous European conductor--until his health makes it necessary that he live a more quiet life.  The bulk of the movie is about how he returns to the village he lived in as a child and finds a new outlet for his musical talents.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Chili Browns

One summer in the 1990's, while vacationing in Idaho with family, we were on a drive along the Salmon River near Riggins.  Our long family drives usually include a meal in a roadside restaurant.  I don't recall the name of this particular restaurant, but there may have been a steer on the sign. 

Someone in the group spotted an entree that was a bit different than the usual and soon the majority of the adults in the group had decided to order it.  The name of the entree?  Chili Browns.  Ever since that day it's become one of our "go to" recipes when we want comfort food and we want it fast and easy.

You start with hashbrowns on your plate, add a scoop or two of chili, sprinkle with shredded cheese, chopped tomatoes and minced onions.  Some people feel the need to add a dollop of sour cream, but it's not necessary.  There's certainly more than enough fat as is!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Oregon Rain

During the rainy days of winter I don't think too much about the dependable, inevitable rain, other than avoiding puddles and dressing appropriately.  I consider myself a good old easy going Oregonian who realizes we must have precipitation in order to grow our lush vegetation.

Then we have a dry spell--particularly that reliable and lovely week in February. {sigh}

When it's over the first day of rain seems such a nuisance, inconvenience, icky, wet, bleh.  So maybe I've just been tolerating that wet stuff all these years and when there's a gap I have to readjust the attitude all over again?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Shower inspiration

Don't laugh too hard over my pieced together super hero . . . please.  Pretty please?  Oh how I wish I could draw!  I used a super hero outline I found on a "how to draw site", imported it into my graphics program and drew the cape, face, added a few other details and changed the size of the hands.  (They were huge!)  I wanted a bubble fill on the cape, but couldn't find any I liked.
Where am I going with this?  The thought came to me in the shower this morning--that perhaps we could use a super hero to teach school children the importance of washing hands and covering coughs/sneezes.  I went through several ideas for names, but decided on plain old "Hero".  Everyone should be a hero when it comes to preventing the spread of germs, eh?
I began thinking about this again during a trip to the grocery store over the weekend.  N and I watched a young man cough on the merchandise several times as he stocked the shelves.  I probably should've said something to him, but (really) he's an adult, he should know.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Resisting the urge

All I've been wanting to do is write about Fran lately and since she doesn't like me to write about her, resisting the urge has meant not writing at all.  Not purposefully, it's just the way this old brain works. 

It's probably okay for me to say that her recovery from surgery is going well.  Just a week and a half has gone by and she's already made us dinner.  She's made her own midnight snacks several times now.  Time to stop before I can't resist the urge to continue.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Bed Notes

One of the big differences I've noticed between the water bed and our new bed?  I don't have a clue when N is tossing and turning or even getting out of bed.  The first night we had alarm clock issues (my fault for forgetting to set the alarms as well as turn them on) and I woke to N tapping me on the shoulder trying to wake me up.  That NEVER would've happened in the water bed.  I would've known as soon as he rolled out from under the covers.  It's going to be an adjustment, but definitely a positive one.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Hand me another beer, will ya/

How I love getting things done! However, I don't love the anticipation of bustling about the house all weekend--just the results.
The new mattress is now in place on the newly completed platform. Today, we bought a new duvet cover, a matching bedspread, new pillows and a little bedside stand for N's sleep machine. Our mattress protector and sheets arrived via UPS today--California King can be tough to find in local stores.
The bed's starting to look kinda pretty. I've never had a pretty bed before. I'm liking this (possibly) new trend. Over the years I've resigned myself to "just be practical" and not try anything special. Since I'm color challenged, I have to rely on N for every decision. As a result it doesn't feel like I get to be as creative as I'd like.  How pitiful does that sound??
We're not done yet.  There's still a headboard to build. 

Friday, February 12, 2010

Sharing a laugh

Tuna Mac and Cheese Casserole

I made tuna curry the first night (one of those dollar stretching recipes from my childhood that I still find irresistible) after receiving the case of tuna via UPS and then tuna mac and cheese the second night.

Normally I just add a can or two of tuna to my mac and cheese recipe, but tonight I checked online to see if I could find another idea or two.  Probably 75% of the recipes have the word "easy" in the description or title.  Heck, if I wanted "easy" I could just go buy a can of cream of mushroom soup and check out the recipe on the label.  No thanks!

I found the following recipe online here, but tweaked it a bit.  I probably could've tweaked it even more.  I'm open to ideas.  :>)

Tuna  Mac and Cheese Casserole

4 cups of cooked macaroni (2 cups uncooked)
3 Tablespoons of  olive oil
2 Tablespoons of grated onion
3 Tablespoons of flour
1 tsp. dry mustard
3 cups of milk
1/4 tsp of Worcestershire sauce
14 ounces of water packed tuna
1 1/2 cups of grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated Gruyere cheese
1-2 Tablespoons of grated Parmesan Cheese
4 pieces of bacon (cooked and crumbled)
salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

First, in a medium dutch oven on medium low heat, add the olive oil and add the onion. Then whisk in the flour and dry mustard. Stir over heat for 30-60 seconds. Gradually add the milk, whisking. Cook until thick and smooth, occasionally stirring. Then add the Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper.

Now add the macaroni, the cheese, and the tuna fish (broken apart). Stir until just blended. Top the dutch oven with the crumbled bacon, cover loosely with a sheet of foil and put in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees.

Serves 6.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Brian Cox Master Class with Theo

Good advice for all of us

Everyone has some level of anxiety in our lives.  Dwelling on it or letting it take over is not a healthy option.  While reading Carolyn Hax's column today, I realized that she may have been talking to a specfic person with a specific problem, but the advice is good for all of us.
Click here (as often as necessary) to read today's column.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


I don't remember the exact details, but several years ago N and I were staying at my eldest sister's beach house up in Ocean Side, Washington, (just north of Illwaco, known to some as Ill-wacko), when we first discovered "the tuna".
Maybe we're a little odd--getting excited over an excellent can of Oregon tuna.  Probably from some tuna related event in our childhoods.  Perhaps we were . . . tuna deprived?  (In the 60's? Nah!  Not possible!)
At this point I think a disclaimer is necessary:  when it comes to canned tuna our very first choice would be home canned, but since we have to rely on the kindness of friends and family for that version we've worked diligently in finding an excellent substitute.
When it comes to factory canned tuna, frankly there's a lot of crap out there.  We happened across Bornstein's simply because we took a wrong turn looking for lunch while on a drive in Warrenton.  Instead of lunch we found a little joint on the Skipanon Slough to buy gift tuna for the neighbors taking care of Zuzu the cat.  Of course we had to buy a few cans for ourselves.
Once we opened a can, stuck a fork in the tender fillet inside and pulled the entire contents of the can out at once, we were hooked.  We've gifted the tuna to friends and family in the years since.  Either they've become hooked or they call and ask what's the story about the tuna--wondering how a can of fish can be special enough to gift out at Christmas.
If you're a little nutty about tuna and don't home can, they have a special going on right now--coupon code "2009" to get 10% off.  You might want to split a case of 24 with a friend, then you'll qualify for another 10% off.

Monday, February 8, 2010


It's good to be home. Such a nice cozy couch this is!
Waiting in hospitals can't possibly be anyone's favorite activity (of course the situation might have something to do with it).  Emergency rooms are the worst.  You enter those sliding doors, check-in, find a seat to wait your turn and when they're done with you and it's time to leave it feels like you've lost an entire day.  Almost a Twilight Zone experience.  And today I was reminded of the question--why do I bother bringing magazines or books to read?  My reading comprehension is suddenly reduced to zero.  
Thankfully, Salem Hospital's remodel has added some comfort and many helpful volunteers to help out with the wait.  After Fran was out of surgery and we met with the surgeon in one of the rooms off the waiting area, N and I went for an hour walk downtown and back.  Much better than waiting in a chair with soap operas playing on 3 separate televisions!
We all survived our day.  Some better than others.  Fran still doesn't know what the future holds, but right now she's just hoping this bout of surgery related pain runs it's course quickly

Chicken Enchiladas

I don't recall where I found this recipe, but it's been on one of my recipe cards for at least 2 decades.  It's not your standard chicken enchilada recipe.  It's more of a smooth, creamy, subtly flavored dish, seasoned with coriander, salt, green chilis and onion.

Chicken Enchiladas
Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1 16 oz. can tomatoes1 8 oz. cream cheese
1  4 oz. can green chilis1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 tsp. coriander seed3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. salt12 8" tortillas
3-4 cups chopped cooked chicken1 cup shredded cheese

Place undrained tomatoes, green chilis, coriander seed, and 1/2 tsp salt in blender. Mix till smooth. Add sour cream, mix till just combined. Set aside.
Combine chicken, cream cheese, onion and 3/4 tsp. salt.
Spoon meat mixture on shells. Roll up and place seam side down in 12x7x2" baking dish. Pour tomato mixture atop. Cover loosely with foil. Bake 350 degrees 30-40 minutes.
Remove foil, add cheese. Put under broiler to melt cheese. Serve.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Sticking to the plan, Stan

We did it.  We managed to sleep in and still get out of the house in a timely manner.  Not early enough to avoid the Saturday madness at Costco, but early enough to satisfy the recently revealed desire of N to get outside errands done or begun before 2 PM. 

Today I began to wonder what the average blood pressure of the adults at Costco were.  One couple pulled their cart over to the side while the wife confided to the husband how overwhelmed she was feeling.  Warehouse stores are overwhelming all by themselves.  Add people (jockeying for position or not paying attention at all) and the recipe for stress is complete.  The children don't seem to be affected (thank goodness).  I heard one little girl happily making "chugga chugga choo choo" sound effects for her mother's cart and a little boy giving his dad a math quiz, "Dad? What's 2 plus 2 plus 2 plus 2 plus . . . ?"  I never did hear the end of that equation.  Sadly, I don't think dad did either. 

We finally decided it was time to donate Zuzu the cat's food to the Humane Society.  This past year or more, she had a hard time adjusting to the constant changes of her home.  She'd always had a sensitive stomach, so I think this last worming medication is what finally did her in.  (I'm guessing.)  She escaped the house right after I gave her the last dose and never returned.  I didn't realize the Humane Society also takes opened packages of dry food.  Another trip is in our future.

Errands done--that should be the caption of the photo above.  I hope the weather man is right.  I'd like to take Hope and Izzy to the dog park tomorrow.  :>)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

February Science

Since 1994, when I first began to do the science lessons with the short folk, the list of lessons has been tuned and retuned.  Some of the best changes came about when I partnered up with Kim.  We've tweaked and streamlined our line-up--making changes that coordinate with the seasons and the holidays.  Between Groundhog's Day (shadows) and Valentine's Day (our hearts), February science almost plans itself. 

Last week, we showed Reading Rainbow's, Me and My Shadow.  This week, we read the Let's Read and Find Out Science Book, "What Makes a Shadow" and used a flashlight to see if we could change the length and size of a plastic tree's shadow.  What makes the lessons awesome?  When we go outside the same day and the sun happens to peek out from behind the clouds allowing us to laugh and have fun with our shadows.  Priceless!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

My Daily Supplements

I have a fairly long list of supplements I take every day (some twice a day), but I doubt if I'm off the charts as far as an average quantity for a typical American.  I began, like most, with a daily vitamin.  Then as I've aged I continued to add one or two more. 

The supplement I take that raises the most eyebrows in the exam room, came about after reading an article in a (long past) issue of Discover magazine on the research of Bruce Ames of UC Berkeley.  Not that I believe I can stop the aging process, but I figure it can't hurt to try.

Here's my list: 
Acetyl L-Carnitine & Alpha Lipoic Acid 650 MG - 2x a day
Calcium Citrate 630MG - 2x a day
Centrum Silver Multi - 2x a day
B Complex - 1x a day
Ferrous Sulfate 65 MG -1x a day
Magnesium 250 MG - 3x a week
Fish Oil - 2x a day
Flax Seed Oil - 2x a day
Oat Bran tablets 2 - 2x a day