Sunday, August 19, 2012

Hospital Stay

We have success!  Kris went into surgery around 7:30 on Friday morning and was under for about 6 long hours.  His surgeon, Dr. Zych, came out when he was finished with his part and the residents were closing up and let us know that everything went as well as he could have expected it to go and that Kris went through it very well.  There are a few screws in his upper-thigh that could not come out as over the years there has been some extra bone growth that they had to chisel away to just to get to the heads of the screws to shear the heads of the screws off, and so they just did that and left the rest of the screws in place.  Dr. Zych thought that there would be too much structural damage to the rest of his femur if they were to chisel and chip away enough bone to get them out completely and they apparently aren't going to bother anything so they're going to be there forever.  But all of the other hardware came out easily enough, and the bone shunt and the plates to hold it in place went in without a hitch.  They had to replace four units of blood but other than that Kris went came through it like a champ.  They let us know when they wheeled him into recovery and we were hoping to see him, and the waiting room desk attendant told us to wait an hour while they got him settled.  So Toodie and I went down to the cafeteria and got something to eat, went back in an hour and checked.  Nope, another hour, they said.  So we waited.  Finally, the reason we couldn't go back was that they had another patient on the recovery ward who was not stable and when that happens, they shut down the ward and no family goes in until everyone's good.  And FINALLY around 6:30 we were allowed to come back and see him.  They'd given him a nerve block for the pain but he'd been awake for awhile and asking for us and doing pretty good, under the circumstances, a little groggy but good.  It had been a long enough day for us and he was tired enough and they were going to keep him sedated for the rest of the night so he could get some sleep so it was a "Hi, I love you, go home, I'll see you tomorrow," order from the patient.  We made our way back home and rescued the poor suffering Chloe who's not really sure what's going on and why her Dad isn't home, but who's getting better each day about it.  Monday she'll be the happiest dog in the world.  

Yesterday morning while we were getting up and moving Kris called us from his room, quite awake, complaining about hospital breakfast food and his morning shift nurse, sounding much better.  We decided real-world food would be a good idea so stopped at the little French bakery behind our place and got him a couple mini chocolate croissants and a sandwich with turkey and bacon and he happily ate the sandwich before they brought him lunch, and he eventually ate that, too.  The nurses finally brought him a pair of crutches so he could get up and move around as he felt like it, getting a bit of hospital bed cabin fever.  We'd brought him his backpack he'd pre-packed with his laptop, the kindle, a book, headphones, charger cord for his cell phone which I'd held onto on Friday.  A couple friends came to visit, Andres, who he works with, brought him cookies, as he'd promised, and an ex-coworker who'd wanted to come on Friday as soon as I'd let him know Kris was in recovery but had to tell him there was no way he was going to see him until yesterday.  But I'm glad they stopped by.  Toodie had found the ward for the church in our area on Thursday and we went and got Kris a blessing and gave them our cards, and so the bishop called me yesterday saying he'd like to stop by and see him today, so we're expecting them to come by around they same time we're there.  We brought him barbecue from Shorty's last night for dinner and he wasn't quite in the mood for food until he smelled it, and then he wolfed down most of the brisket sandwich and fries.  He was hoping for french dip and salad but R&T's, where we get them, I forgot, closes at 3:30 every day, and we missed the mark by a couple hours.  But it worked out.  We ate dinner with him and our lovely, sainted neighbor Yvi kept Kris's keys so she could check Chloe and walk her before she came home, and she's going to check on her throughout the day today once I let her know that we've headed for the hospital so that we don't have to worry about coming home to check on her.  This morning I have a little more time to spend with her as Toodie's attending the 11:00 am church service so by the time we come home this evening she should be a better adjusted doggie for the day.  Zych wants Kris to have a 72-hour antibiotic drip so tomorrow he'll be free to come home, which he's going to be happy to do.  Toodie's been helping us run errands and bought us a better bed with a much better mattress, memory foam cover and mattress pad, so that Kris will have a much more comfortable bed to heal on.  He's supposed to be off work for a good week and then go back, and we stopped by Friday while Kris was in surgery to drop a couple things off for him and his boss told us that if we needed anything at all, he'd be happy to help, and to let him know when Kris was out of surgery and how everything went.  We've got a good support system here, so I think we'll be just fine.  
Off for now...I finally got a good amount of sleep last night and should really get up and eat more than toast for breakfast before we head off for the day.  But we're all, Kris included, are absolutely thrilled that the surgery went so well.  It's a good weekend, hospital stay notwithstanding.  
Happy Health!

Allie H.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Crock Pot Mac & Cheese

Today, I needed to find something to cook in order to use the milk that's about to expire.  We only buy it for cereal and Kraft mac and cheese, as I've sadly decided I'm becoming lactose intolerant so this last half-gallon has not been used as quickly as it normally has.  I checked out my collected recipes and found something perfect!  I got this recipe from and have decided to share, since I'm trying it for the first time today, and I made a few tweaks, doubled the recipe, and as it's cooking away I'll have to let you know but considering everything that's going in it, I'm sure it's going to be amazing!  I also ran across a helpful hint on a different recipe, something to do with chicken and cream-of-whatever soup, etc. The author advised that it would be smart to spray down the insides of the crock pot with Pam before putting everything in, and I imagine that it would help avoid everything that bubbles up and sticks after 6-8 hours of cooking.  Of course, I forgot this time, but I thought I'd share it with all of you!

Super Mac & Cheese
2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
4 tablespoons butter
2 ½ cups grated sharp cheddar cheese (since I double the recipe I used half sharp, half blended cheddar & mozzarella)
1 egg
½ cup sour cream
1 (10 ¾ ounce) can condensed cheddar cheese soup
1 cup 2% milk
½ teaspoon yellow mustard
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 Teaspoon of Onion Powder (I used onion flakes, as that's what we had)
1/2 Teaspoon of Garlic Powder
pinch of nutmeg (I omitted because we don't have any)
pinch of Cayenne
Cook the pasta for 6 minutes, drain and rinse. The recipe says to melt the cheese and butter in a medium saucepan, but I had issues. I was stirring constantly but either I had the heat too high or because I doubled the recipe, I should have used a larger pan, or the microwave to melt it together, because it didn't quite come out the nice cream mixture I imagined. You may want to use whatever cheese-sauce cooking method you prefer. The recipe says to mix everything together in the crock pot and let it go for 2 and ½ hours on low. I simply dumped the macaroni in the pot and poured everything on top, having mixed all the other ingredients in a different bowl (minus the cheese sauce, that I dumped right in and tried to mix in) and mixed away, trying to combine as best as possible before I put on the lid. Stir well every hour and get ready to eat!
Happy Cooking!

Allie H.

Friday, August 10, 2012

There, They're, Their...

A few days ago I found a grammatical error in an online article for a leading women's fashion and beauty magazine.  I emailed them to let them know and they contacted me back this morning, thanking me but saying that I didn't point out what the error was and if I would like to share, they'd take changing it under consideration.  So either they didn't bother to check the article to see what I was talking about, or they did and still did not catch the mistake.  I gave them a very helpful hint and wished them a great day.  We'll see if they get back to me.  But I cannot believe that a magazine with such influence and popularity among their target audience would let any article go to print without at least two pairs of eyes that didn't belong to the original writer taking a fresh look to make sure it at least was free of spelling and grammatical errors, if not checking the tone of the piece.  I won't give the name of the magazine, of course, but I will tell you that it was one of the most common mistakes that are made.  These days, people think that "there, they're, & their" and interchangeable.  I see so many mistakes like these online these days from professional companies that I feel like emailing them all and pointing them out, and then offering to proofread before they print and upload their articles for a tiny fee (of course).  If I can't get a novel done some time soon I might as well still be making money in the writing field, right?  Something to think about.
Happy Pre-Editing!

Allie H.  

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Surgery Updates, Goals and Recipes

I've been sliding on my goals for the year.  Re-settling to a new place may be part of it, but I know I'm not one of those make "a whole list of numerous resolutions" on New Years' Eve and make myself stick to it in it's entirety.  So I think I need to make a short list each month and break it up into writing goals, otherwise creative goals, cooking goals, and a smattering of other areas.  Thanks to Pinterest, of course, I have tons of new recipes I'd like to try and thanks to our acquisition of a crock pot, I can work on that list!  
Today, I made toss-it-all together and simmer spaghetti sauce, like I do often, but I started prepping for a chili recipe that is going to be made in the crock pot.  We bought a 5lb bag each of beans and rice awhile back so we could do a huge batch of Red Beans and Rice and we still had about half the bag of red beans left, so I measured out 1 cup less than the recipe that I'm using calls for (since it didn't call for beef, I'm adding some ground beef to the mix) and they're soaking overnight in the crock pot.  (I'd started them out in a smaller container and checked on the, realizing that about half the water had been already soaked up and the top inch of beans was above the liquid.  So I had to shift them into another container and add more water.  The rest of the recipe is made of up of canned tomatoes, broth, corn, celery, and various spices.  (It does call for cocoa powder to enhance the flavors but as I don't have any at the moment, I'm not doing it.)  So we'll see how that goes.  I can either wake up earlier than usual and it'll be ready by lunch or do something else for lunch and have it ready for dinner and leftovers.  As another one of my goals is getting up earlier and hitting the gym for half an hour on a more regular basis, we'll see how my appreciation of my alarm clock affects the situation.  

Crockpot Chili

Ingredients (6-8 bowls)
About 6 cans of beans, drained OR 6 cups of dried white and black beans, soaked, plus 1 can kidney beans [see note]
2 cans diced tomatoes
3.5 cups broth
1.5 cups frozen corn
6 celery stalks, diced
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tsp Liquid Smoke
1 tsp Worcestershire
1 tsp cumin
2 cloves minced garlic or garlic gold nuggets
1 tsp cocoa powder (optional but increases the depth!)
1 tsp salt (if your broth is relatively low sodium - otherwise to taste)
Soak dried beans overnight, if using. Rinse.  Chop celery.  Add all ingredients to a crockpot and set to low for 6-8 hours.  

As you can see I’m not using a mixture of beans this time but we’ll try for next time.  If I kick it to medium heat I can go 4-5 hours and make waking up not such a chore. I'm also not using frozen corn but canned corn, so no extra time needed there.
I also want to make, by myself, a batch of Kris's recipe for salmon dip.  It's from his family and it's an approximate amount of each ingredient and then adjusted to taste.  Since we did a Costco run to prep for his surgery, we grabbed the Costco-size block of cream cheese, which has more then plenty for a batch.  Anyway, since we bought everything awhile back for the spread with extra cans of salmon, we have all the ingredients we need except for fresh lemon juice, which is easy.
Here's the recipe!

Salmon Spread
1 can salmon, bones removed
I (8 oz) package cream cheese
½-1 TBSP dried onion
4-5 dashes Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp lemon juice
½ tsp liquid smoke
½-1 tsp, to taste of garlic powder
½-1 tsp salt
½-1 tsp pepper

Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor or a regular mixing bowl and using a hand-held blender, mix thoroughly. Use as a spread for bagels, toast or dip for crackers. Enjoy!

My next cooking goal for the month (either this or next) is to tackle and polenta and poached eggs, as I ran across a recipe that included both, and since Kris is such a fan of poached eggs I think it would benefit everyone for me to try.
By the way: Kris's surgery has been moved back to the 17th due to a couple things so we have just another whole week to go before he's in the hospital.  Please pre-cross your fingers that everything goes smoothly!  He quit smoking two weeks ago in prep and he's going strong.  He's quit before (for his two year mission for the church) but this time, his health and his total recovery depend on it wholly, and so I'm proud that he's sticking to it and staying strong.  He was chewing on cinnamon sticks for a few days at the start but now he's getting his head in the game and focusing on the overall goal.  What goals have you been neglecting that you promised to stick to at the beginning of the year?  Share with me!
Happy Cooking, Health, and Goal Setting (and Keeping)!

Allie H.