Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Tea Time!

I really love a cup of hot tea with honey and lemon!
This summer I set about making my own tea blend with herbs already growing in my garden.  You can make a tea from almost any herb you can grow, and I think I've found a winning combination.

Lemon balm, bee balm, lemon basil, holy basil, and blue hyssop leaves were dried in the dehydrator.  Then I added dried lemon, orange, and ginger to the mix.

Bagged them up in cotton tea bags, 
and they're all set to enjoy this winter!

That is, if winter ever comes!
Today's heat index in south Texas was 109...
I guess I could always enjoy this tea over ice!
LOTS of ice!

Friday, August 2, 2019

Happy Birthday, Kyle!

Our sweet Kyle turned 22 this past week.  He had spent the day in Houston with friends and came home pretty late.  I had made his favorite peach cobbler for his "birthday cake."  So we waited up for him, sang him Happy Birthday, and before we even finished the first verse, the following series of events happened...

It was a SMASHING good time!

That boy loves peach cobbler so much that he stayed up and made another one.  And you better believe we stayed up until 11:30 to eat it right out of the oven!

Saturday, July 27, 2019

A Garden Experiment

By mid July here in south Texas, the garden tomatoes are spent.  The plants have given up all the fruit they are going to and start to die back.  Usually I just cut them back to about a foot from the ground and they will come back with a (very mediocre) fall harvest.  But this year I think I'll try something different.

On my days off from work, I usually sit in the recliner with a homemade vanilla latte and watch garden vloggers on YouTube.  Yeah, I know I'm a nerd in need of some serious help, but I REALLY look forward to those mornings!  Anyway, one of the home gardeners was saying that he clips off some of the new growth, puts them into water to root, and then plants them once the roots are a couple of inches long. 
So that's going to be my garden experiment for this year, to see if I can get a better fall harvest this way.  I'll keep you updated!
These clones are from my favorite two tomatoes of the season:  Dr.Wyche and Hungarian Heart

And if you're looking for some awesome information about home gardening, check out some of my favorite YouTube gardening channels:

I think that's enough to get you inspired to grow something of your own!  And if you already grow things, it's a wealth of information and a wonderful "community" to become part of!

Tuesday, July 23, 2019


When I had my surgery, my low carb way of eating went out the window.  I ate what I wanted. And because of that, I ended up feeling like crap and gaining weight.  Since returning to work, I finally feel like I want to take control of my life back.  That means drastically cleaning up my diet again.  It's so much more than just cutting carbs and sugar, it's about eating more nutrient dense foods for health.  One of the most nutritious foods you can eat is bone broth.

Here's how I make it.

Place 12-15 organic chicken legs in a crock pot and any combination of onions, peppers, celery, or carrots over them.  Add chopped garlic and seasonings like black pepper, poultry seasoning blend, rosemary, or thyme.  Cover with water and cook on low for 8-12 hours.

Strain the liquid into a large bowl and de-bone the chicken.  Place all the bones, skin, and cartilage back into the crock pot.  Cover bones with water and add 1/4 cup organic apple cider vinegar.  Cook on low 12-24 hours.  The longer you cook, the more the vinegar has time to leach the nutrients from the bones. 

Combine the broth from both batches, salt well with pink or grey salt, and store in quart or gallon sized jars.  This recipe gives us just shy of one gallon of broth. If that's too much for you, the broth can be frozen or used in your favorite recipes. 
 Sip a cup or two daily for a boost of collagen, micro-nutrients, and pure comfort!

Some of the many benefits of bone broth:

Helps to fight inflammation.
Aids the body in wound healing.
Strengthens bones and teeth.
Heals the lining of the gut.
Supports healthy skin, hair, and nails.
It contains over 19 easy to absorb essential amino acids.
It is the BEST source of collagen and benefits every part of your body from your brain to your gut, muscles and ligaments.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

The Lazy Days of Summer...

Color Street nails with my sweet girl.

Grillin' and chillin'

Sunsets on the back porch.

Binge watching Netflix.

And the bounties of the garden!

What are some of the things making you happy this time of year?

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Garden to Kitchen ~ Bread and Butter Pickles

I used to be a pickle snob.  I'd only eat dill pickles...Kosher dill pickles.  Anything else was trash in my opinion.  Until one day when I had some bread and butter pickles on a hamburger and my life was changed! Ever since then, I've made these sweet little gems with my home grown summer cucumbers.

Bread and Butter Pickles

4-5 cups of thinly sliced PICKLING cucumbers
1/2 of a yellow onion thinly sliced
1 cup of white vinegar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup of sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons of mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
1 clove of smashed garlic
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes (optional if you like them spicy)

Add cucumbers and onion to a quart sized canning jar.  In a saucepan over medium heat, add the rest of the ingredients and stir until sugar is dissolved and mixture is almost to a boil.  
Pour mixture over cucumbers, seal, and place in the refrigerator for 24 hours.  You'll want to eat these on everything!

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Garden to Kitchen ~ Marinated Cherry Tomatoes

The garden is in full swing now and daily I'm harvesting a few thousand, er I mean dozens, of beautiful little cherry tomatoes.  And if you have an over abundance like me, here is a quick and easy recipe to use them up.  These are so delicious in salads, tossed with pasta, or as a topping for grilled chicken.

Marinated Cherry Tomatoes

4-5 cups cherry tomatoes, halved 
1/2 cup olive oil 
1/4 cup red or white wine vinegar 
2-3 cloves garlic, minced 
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning 
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley 
Salt and pepper, to taste 

Black Cherry and Reisentraube tomatoes

In a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, garlic, Italian seasoning and parsley. Gently stir in cherry tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer to a covered container and marinate for at least 2 hours. Refrigerate if marinating longer than two hours. Bring to room temperature before serving (as olive oil solidifies when refrigerated).

And when you've eaten your fill of these, share a jar with your neighbors or coworkers, they'll love you for it!

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Artist in Residence

It's no secret in our household that our John Paul is a talented artist, so it's really nice when other folks recognize his talent, too!
This weekend John Paul competed in the El Campo Art Association art show and I'd say he did pretty well!

Second place ~ Best In Show for his watercolor painting, "Corgi."

First place in his division for, "Papillion."

                  Second place in his division for, "Good Boy."

And the award for Most Blessed Parents in the World 
goes to Doug and I!  
Because art is not just a hobby for John's how he lives. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Why Does The Universe Hate Me?

Murphy's Law should be renamed JoAnn's Law because if something can go wrong in my life, it will go wrong.  
Why should my recent surgery be any different?
Since I started walking on my own two months ago, I have been walking on the outside of my foot.  Even with physical therapy, I have great difficulty taking a step with my right foot flat on the ground.  My PT and I just thought it was a matter of re-training my muscles and my brain to walk normally.  

I have recently found out that that is not the case.

A few days ago I went to my surgeon to get clearance to go back to work.  I told him that I just couldn't walk flat footed and that my foot always rolled to the outside.  I walk on the outside of my foot so much that my first two toes don't even touch the ground!  
It was after I got a CT scan that I learned that my surgeon over corrected my arch.

You read that right...he OVER corrected my foot.  

Surgery is the only possible cure.  
And when you have no medical leave left and haven't gotten a pay check in four months, you kinda have to go back to work.

I am sickened and devastated.
I feel like the last four months of pain and suffering 
were a waste of time.
I am in more pain than before my surgery.
And I won't be able to do anything about it until after the new year.

For now my job is letting me be on light duty, but that won't last forever.  I may have to find a new job...a desk job, because walking is more painful to me than eating glass!  
I really am lost, anxious, and scared to death that I will never be able to walk again normally and without pain.  Also that I will not be able to support my family.  I try to put on a happy face and tell everyone that "I'm fine."  It's just easier than explaining this all over and over again.

So if you see out and about, please don't ask how I'm doing.
I'm tired of lying.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Garden to Kitchen

We've had tons of rain here in south Texas and the garden is exploding!  And while we don't have full on harvests yet, we are still able to gather small baskets from the garden on the daily right now.  Always just before the cukes ripen, there is a huge dill harvest.  I dry most of it to use all year long but I really love using fresh dill in recipes and I thought I'd share my favorite dill dip with you.

A basket FULL of dill and cilantro for the dehydrator.  We'll use these herbs all year long!

Fresh Dill Dip

1 Cup of sour cream 
1 Cup of mayonnaise 
1 Teaspoon onion powder 
1 Tablespoon garlic powder 
 4 Tablespoons (or more!)of fresh dill
1 Tablespoon of fresh parsley 
Salt to taste

Just put all the ingredients into a food processor and pulse a few times until combined.  Refrigerate at least one hour before serving.

I also use that fresh dill in a marinated cucumber salad that I eat during this growing season.  Just make your brine once and keep adding garden vegetables all summer long.

Marinated Cucumber Salad

1 Cup of white vinegar
1 Cup of water
1 Tablespoon of minced garlic
2 Tablespoons of sea salt
1 Tablespoons of chopped fresh dill
1 Tablespoon of mustard seed
1 Teaspoon of celery seed
1 Tablespoon fresh dill

This is a basic brine, feel free to adjust to your taste!

Mix brine into a large glass jar and then add whatever you have from the garden.  I love the combination of cucumber (use the pickling kind or otherwise they'll get soggy), bell peppers, and red onion.  When my tomatoes are ripe, sometimes I'll add them (once seeded and extra juices squeezed out), or even thinly sliced zucchini or squash.

This little salad is great on sandwiches, salads, burgers, or eating straight out of the jar...which I may or may not have done!

Monday, May 6, 2019

The Home Stretch - 12 Weeks and Beyond

I made it!
I made it to my 3 month post op visit and got the OK to start walking without any aides as well as being able to drive when I am comfortable.  Even though I was cleared to walk on my own, I'm not there quite yet!  Still using my cane/crutch to get around because my ankle still feels a bit unstable 
and any uneven ground is hard to navigate. 

 But we are working hard on those issues in Physical Therapy.

So I'm starting to sell off all my mobility aides.  
I sold my knee scooter this weekend. 
 I had mixed feelings about that because 
I depended on it for so long.  
But in the end, it was good to let it go.

Let it go and move on, that's my new motto!

My plan is to return to work June 1st, less than a month away!

I'm scared, ya'll!

But I'm in the home stretch.
They say that the home stretch is the toughest part of the race.  
I must finish well for everyone who has shared this journey with me... as well as for myself.

Thank you for your prayers and kind thoughts through this journey.  We're almost there!

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Garden Therapy

To be honest, I had absolutely NO intention of having a summer garden this year.
I thought maybe I'd start some herbs or flowers from seed, but that would be it.  The surgery and subsequent recovery had been tough and I felt that I had to devote all my energies to healing instead of planting.

But then I realized, planting IS healing for me!

So in February I started some seeds.
I wasn't really sure that I could give them the care they needed.
Some died, but most lived
And as they grew, I found myself dreaming about putting them out in the garden...
But I wasn't exactly sure how I was going to do that with mobility issues.
But I shared my vision with my boys and before I knew it, 
I had this beautiful tomato patch with an arched trellis for beans.

My dreams were becoming reality!

And then every morning and evening 
I was hobbling out to the garden in my walker.
Weeding, planting, even just sitting there soaking up 
the glorious sunshine!

It was becoming my therapy.

Something to look forward to every day.  
I truly think I was becoming depressed just sitting in the recliner all day watching TV day after day.
  The garden was making me move, think, and most importantly WALK!

It's still a challenge for me to move about the beds.  
The uneven ground seems to be my biggest enemy with my new bionic foot!  But I've learned to slow down, take my time and enjoy the process which is something I never really did before.

So for a garden that shouldn't have been this season, 
it has turned into my biggest garden to date! 
 I am so thankful for this little piece of earth 
and the healing it has given me!

Friday, April 19, 2019

Weeks 8-10 In My Recovery

I thought that physical healing from my surgery was tough, and it was, but entering into the rehabilitation phase of my recovery has been even tougher.  At 8 weeks post op, I had my Physical Therapy evaluation done.  My ankle could barely move, was crazy swollen, and two of my six incision sites had not yet healed.  
I was so scared of doing ANYTHING with my foot! 
But I was given a set of exercises to do at home and appointments for twice weekly therapy sessions.  If I was going to walk again, I had to suck it up, endure the pain, and follow through.

One of the first goals they set was getting me back into a shoe.
Pretty basic, right?
It actually took three sessions to get the swelling down enough to get my foot into the shoe.  And as you can see by the picture above, I got INTO the shoe but wasn't able to lace it up.  
It was still a HUGE accomplishment for me!  
I hadn't worn a shoe on my right foot since October!

The next goal was to be able to walk with my shoe on (still using my walker).  This was a scary step for me (no pun intended!).  
My boot keeps my foot and ankle stable.  It protects my still fragile suture lines and allows me very good mobility.  Having to give it up is very stressful and somewhat physically painful. This is the focus of my therapy to date, to gain greater strength and flexibility and to learn to walk with a shoe again. 
I am happy to report that as of yesterday, I was able to do these "hurdles" pictured above.  I still had to hold onto the counter to the left for support and use a cane for balance...but I DID IT...TWICE!
Two weeks ago I could barely even move my foot in any direction, and now I can step over obstacles.

It's a BIG DEAL, y'all!

I still have a little over a month in my immediate recovery.  I am hoping and praying that I am able to walk without any assistive devices by the end of May so that I can return to work.
Heck, even if I need a cane I'll still consider it a success!

Thank you, God, for blessing me
much more than I deserve!