I Missed “MY” Bro

I LOVE my brother, Danny, but I  haven’t seen my bro, Danny, for six months.  Shame on us… I’ve talked to him on the phone, but because of our conflicting schedules… sadly, we just haven’t been able to hook-up and spend some quality time together… I say sadly…, because I really think we can all find ourselves in this type of situation, where we want to spend time with family, or loved ones, but we think we don’t have the time…

One thing I’ve learned over the years (up close and personal)  is… we will make time for those we really want to spend time with… All we have to do is make it a priority. Yes, a PRIORITY !!! We all lead very busy lives, we all  have a lot of family or friends who we should see more often… but for whatever reason…, “our busy lives” just get in the way… We’ve all been there. Haven’t you ever thought  “I should call so and so, or send so and so a note… or make a lunch date with so and so… but we don’t… WHY? We want too, we just let the time it takes to make the arrangements slip through the cracks of our everyday lives… Can you see yourself in any of this?

Well, to be completely honest… I was a little “put off” that my bro, Danny, who lives in Maricopa, which is about 45 minutes from my house, goes to visit my mother at the Care Center, which is no more than 10 minutes from my house, every week… but he never comes by to see me, or calls me to meet up with him for lunch etc… So again, SHAME on ME for letting it go so long when all it really took for us to get together again was when I called him and said “hey, when you go visit mom this weekend, how about we meet up for lunch afterwards?’ Danny was VERY excited about that and immediately said “YES, he and his wife Bea, would be visiting mom this weekend and would love to meet up with my husband, Bill, and I for lunch… OMG people, lesson learned… don’t stand on formalities…just pick up the phone, and invite the person you miss, out for a lunch date, outing, or whatever quality time you can spend together… Most likely, they are waiting on your invite just as much as you are waiting on theirs.. It’s all good no matter how it happens… 🙂

So, my husband, Bill/aka Frissy’s Bro, met my Bro, Danny, and his wife, Bea, for lunch at Abuelo’s  Mexican Restaurant, in Chandler this weekend… after Danny and Bea visited mom (left click twice on this photo to see larger view).

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We had a  wonderful time. Laughed, talked, laughed some more, and “VOWED” it has been much too long, and we need to make “SURE” we “make this a “PRIORITY” to do this at least once a month. I have that on my to do list…

I left our lunch date with Danny and Bea knowing I will never stand on “principle” again… if I want to spend time with a loved one, be it family, or friend…, I will make the first move to extend the invitation, and not wait for them to ask me… Because, life is much too short to “stand on principle…” And I won’t make that mistake again…!!!

When I got home, and made that vow to myself…, I looked out my front door and saw this… which sealed the deal for me…”life is much too short…” Make it a PRIORITY to spend time with the people you love, and more importantly, with the people who you know love you…”

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Strawberries For Mom

My mother LOVES strawberries. When she still lived at home, as soon as strawberries were in Costco, she would buy them by the full flats and eat them until she finally got hives from eating so many strawberries… But as soon as the hives cleared up, she would go right back to eating strawberries again.

So now, as soon as strawberries come to my local Fry’s store, of course I buy them (in much smaller containers) and take them to my mother when I visit her. I have to be careful though because she will sit and eat strawberries then say she doesn’t want to eat her lunch or dinner…

Today was my day to visit my mother, and Fry’s happened to have two containers of strawberries for $5.00. I bought two containers thinking my mother might share them with her roommate or the nursing staff etc. Yeah right… 🙂

When I arrived at the Care Center, my mother was playing bingo.

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She looked up and saw me and waved for me to come over to her. I went over, hugged her and told her I would sit on the bench by the wall until she finished playing her games. She still hand 20 minutes left to play before lunch. She said OK, then asked what I had in the bag… I told her I brought her some fresh strawberries, and told her I thought she might enjoy them after lunch. I told her to finish her bingo game then I would take her to the dinning room. Well, after she heard I had strawberries for her, she was immediately finished playing bingo, and asked me to take her to her room right then.

When I entered her room, I immediately noticed her room was in even worse shape then it was last week when I was there and asked her if I could clear out some of the “stuff.”

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But just like the last time I asked to help clear out her “stuff” that is piled on top of more “stuff”, my mother absolutely refused.

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She said “if you want to do something nice for my, give me the strawberries you brought me.” I said “why don’t you wait until you eat lunch because if you start eating the strawberries now you will say you don’t want your lunch…” My mother smiled and said “well, I’m 87 yrs old, I guess I know what I want to eat and when…” I agreed and gave her the strawberries..

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OMG, her eyes got almost as big as the strawberries as she reached in and picked the first one out… because of the Parkinson’s, her facial expressions don’t change that much anymore, but this is as happy as I ‘ve seen her in a while.

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After my mother ate her fill of the strawberries, I pushed her to the dinning room for lunch. But, just like I expected, when asked if she wanted pork with mashed potatoes, gravy, and green beans, or a tuna salad plate my mother said “I don’t like pork, and I don’t want tuna.” I said “mom, you always loved pork why don’t you just try some?” She said “well, I don’t like pork now so I don’t want any.” I asked if she would at least eat some mashed potatoes and green beans so she had something hot for lunch. She agreed, but when her plate came, she mostly pushed the food around her plate, taking only tiny bites I’m sure just to keep me from saying anything about her not eating.

After she finished rearranging the food on her plate for a while, she told me she was done and asked me to take her back to her room. I suggested we go out and sit in the garden where we could enjoy the beautiful weather we are having…. She agreed, but said we need to stop by my room first… of course I knew she wanted to go get her strawberries which she did, but we did have a nice visit in the garden so that’s all that mattered… Hey, I’m just looking for PEACE, and like “they” say… all’s well that ends well… Works for me!!! 🙂

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Picture Perfect Day

Yesterday I spent the day with my Frissy aka Robin/Gotham Girl…

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and oh, what fun we had…

My daughter, Shantel, was out of school yesterday for President’s Day, and she asked me if I would take her to her BFF Jaz’s house so the two of them could spend the day together. Jaz just happens to live just down the street from The Farm at South Mountain, which was one of the destinations Frissy and I agreed we wanted to visit during our day together.

The Farm at South Mountain is located between Baseline and Southern off 32nd street in Phoenix. It features farm to table dining and is a combination kitchen, café, restaurant, and wine bar. The farm also has a healing therapy center, antique store, as well as yoga classes, garden growing classes, and even free big band in the grove swing dances are held on the grounds at the farm. And the farm grounds are absolutely beautiful..

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Just look at this beautiful cauliflower..

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The gardens are so well maintained, and I just love the whimsical look featuring real headboard’s at the head of the “vegetable beds.” How cute is that?

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Everywhere you look there is something special to see. 🙂

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If you look on The Farm at South Mountain’s website, it says “Born from an ancient riverbed that blessed the grounds with naturally rich soil, the farm’s vision of sustainability was originally conceived by Dwight Heard (benefactor of the Heard Museum) in the early 1920’s. He acquired a large parcel of land and then subdivided the property into two-acre parcels that he sold for the whopping sum of $1,150 with the distinct purpose of promoting self-sufficiency. Heard offered a cow and fifty chickens with each purchase…” Imagine getting a deal like that today.. 🙂

Both Frissy and I have eaten delicious lunches at the farm several times, but yesterday Frissy had a real hankering for some fish tacos, from Guedo’s Cantina Grille, another favorite lunch spot of ours. So, after we soaked up all the farm fun… Frissy and I headed back to Chandler with the intention of scoring some of Guedo’s fish tacos…both mine and Frissy’s mouths were all poised and set for those special tacos…but it was not meant to be. When we arrived at Guedo’s, they were CLOSED!!! Oh no!!! What to do now??

We decided we would head over to One Wing Boutique, a one of a kind boutique in the heart of Chandler. Both Frissy and I can spend hours looking through this adorable little shop… After we looked, touched, and some purchase’s were made, Frissy and I decided we would walk over the an Irish Pub in the same strip mall for lunch. We ate lunch outside enjoying the beautiful weather we are blessed with here in Arizona.

After lunch, Frissy and I went to our all time favorite place to spend time together… The Merchant Square Antique Market Place in Chandler… OMG, I kid you not, anyone could easily spend the entire day in this place and not see it all… If you love one of a kind, vintage/antique treasures like Frissy and I do…, you will think you are in vintage/antique heaven at this place. 🙂 After a couple of hours there, we headed back to my house for a little happy hour fun.. My husband, Bill, aka Frissy’s Bro, and my daughter, Shantel, arrived home just behind us. We all sat in the kitchen and talked about our day.. and it was the perfect ending to a “picture perfect day..”

Whenever Frissy and I get together it is sheer joy! Thank you Frissy for being who you are, and for being my Frissy forever! For all you do…This one is for you.. I

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Weekend Fun

When my husband, Bill/Bro, has both Saturday and Sunday off from work, we always find some kind of fun activities to do together. It really doesn’t matter to us what we do as long as we get to spend quality time alone together.

Friday afternoon I got my hair cut, so on Saturday morning, Bill/Bro put the hair color on for me. Then he started singing “you are so beautiful to me” every time I passed him in the house as I was waiting for the timer to go off letting me know it was time to wash the color out of my hair… I told him he was a silver tongue devil, and I wasn’t going to believe him anymore when he says I’m beautiful to him…we both laughed and I went on my way to the shower…

After I showered, and did my hair and make-up, Bill once again started singing “you are so beautiful to me…” I just laughed and said “thanks, but now I know you will just say that no matter what I look like… now come on, we need to go to Costco,” and off we went… As we were coming out of Costco, a nice looking young man, in a gray suit and tie, who looked to be in his mid twenties, smiled at me and said “I like your outfit, you look beautiful, have a nice day.” Bill was a short distance behind me and didn’t hear what the young man said to me so he asked me what he said and I told him he said he liked my outfit, I looked beautiful and to have a nice day…” Bill said “I know that your beautiful and I tell you that all the time, but now see, even that stranger said your beautiful.” I said “I know you tell me that all the time, even when I know I don’t look beautiful with hair color on my head…but it is nice that you think I’m beautiful no matter what, and it is very nice to hear it from a stranger…Bill laughed and said “he was probably a salesman…” I said “well, he didn’t try to sell me anything, he just said he liked my outfit and I looked beautiful. When I got home I asked Bill to take my picture so I remember to wear this outfit all the time… hey if I knew it would draw random acts of compliments from perfect strangers, I would have bought one in every color… 🙂

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Today, Sunday, Bill and I went to 7:00 a.m. Mass, came home and made breakfast, then went on a 6 1/2 mile bike ride. Here is Bill/Bro all ready to head out.

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What a perfect morning to get out and enjoy the perfect weather we are having here in beautiful Arizona. Even these two ducks were out for an early morning swim. I bet they are mates, and he probably sings “you are so beautiful to me” to her every morning too. Don’t you think.. 🙂

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We had to make a short pit stop so Bill/Bro could adjust the seat on his bike, then we were off and ridding again. I asked Bill/Bro to take my picture just so anyone reading my blog would know I was really there ridding with Bill/Bro… 🙂

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When we arrived back home, Bill/Bro took the car to be washed while I started in cooking… one of my many favorite weekend things to do. I’m making chicken thighs with tomatoes, olives and capers for dinner tonight,  served with long grain and black rice, steamed broccoli and cauliflower, and crusty bread. I haven’t started that yet, but I did put together two other meals so they are ready to start cooking when I need them… like Red Wine-Braised Beef Shanks with Mushrooms that we will have tomorrow night.

I seasoned four beef shanks on both sides, browned them on both sides, then removed them from the pan.

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Then I added onions, carrots, and mushrooms to the same pan I browned the beef shanks in. Cooked the vegetables until they were soft and beginning to caramelize. I added in half of a small can of tomato paste, diced garlic, fresh thyme and rosemary, 2 cups red wine, 2 cups beef broth, 3 bay leaves, 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes, some dried parsley, crushed red pepper, black pepper, and no-salt seasoning. Simmered all that together to let the flavors blend.

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Then I poured half of the vegetable mixture into a crockpot, put the four beef shanks on top of the vegetables, added the remaining vegetable mixture, making sure to not completely cover the beef shanks with the liquid or they will boil instead of braise…that would not be good…

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Tomorrow I am having a special, fun-filled day with my Frissy. I’m so excited I can’t hardly wait because I haven’t seen her since my NYC/Vermont trip last September… So I don’t want to be bothered with having to worry about what to make for dinner tomorrow. I won’t have to, because I will put this crockpot full of beef shank goodness on early in the morning, on low, and let it work it’s magic while I play the day away with Frissy… What’s not to love about that? Always thinking ahead so I have a plan…that’s me… 🙂

Stay Tuned!

A Sad Sight To See

Yesterday, like many days, I took my daughter, Shantel, to McDonald’s before school so she could get her bacon, egg, cheese biscuit and coffee. As I sat there waiting for Shantel to finish eating, I noticed this man sitting across from us playing a video game.

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Normally I wouldn’t think anything about that except he also had a young child with him that was begging him to take him over to this play area and watch him climb through the tunnels…

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I thought the man looked like he might be the child’s grandfather, however, the child called the man “dad” over and over again as he continued to try to get the man’s attention and get him to go with the child to the play area. Sadly, the man never even looked up from the video game to acknowledge the child so the child finally gave up and went to the play area alone. I don’t even think the man ever noticed the child was gone…

Finally, after awhile, the child came back and sat at the table with the man he called “dad” trying to talk to him but again the man/dad never looked up or responded to the child until the child reached across the table and tried to play the video game with his “dad”. Only then did the man/dad look up, grab the child’s hand, and told him not to touch the video game and to go over to the other table and play there if  he wanted to play a video game.

The child looked over at the other video game, then turned back to his “dad’ and said “let’s just go home now… My heart ached for the child as I thought to myself “what a sad sight to see…”

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I bet that man has no idea how his lack of attention affected that child. I hope he’s not surprised when the day comes that the child stops trying to get his “dad’s” attention and turns his attention elsewhere… hopefully that won’t be in the wrong direction where he might think any attention is better than none, even if it is negative attention…

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This And That Soup

AKA “Must-go’s…”

Every week I go through my refrigerator and freezer to see what needs to be used up. Usually I end up clearing out the refrigerator and make a one dish meal out of what I call the “must-go’s”, but this week I decided to also use up some small amounts of meat and chicken I had in the freezer that really wasn’t enough to make one meal out of unless I put it together… So I came up with what I’m calling “This and That Soup. Now, the good thing about this soup is that it will change every time I make it because I won’t always have the same ingredients that need to be used up. So it will be an interesting surprise. Here is what I did this week…

I had a small amount of homemade chicken soup, minus the noodles, in the freezer. It had some nice chunks of chicken meat in a rich garlic broth. I also had a small bag of beef stew meat.

I floured the beef stew meat and browned it on all sides in a small amount of oil.

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I removed the meat from the pan and deglazed the pan with extra dry Vermouth. You could use white wine if you don’t have Vermouth, but I love the taste the Vermouth gives the soup.

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I add the beef stew meat back into the pan along with the homemade chicken soup. Brought it to a boil then reduced to simmer until the broth started to thicken. I transferred the entire contents of the pan into a crock pot and added in a bag of Sweet Kale salad mix, without the dressing.

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I also had a green bell pepper, a small zucchini, some fresh broccoli and cauliflower that needed to go so I chopped them up and put them in the crock pot as well. Then I added fresh chopped thyme, rosemary and a plethora of spices such as: garlic, onion power, no salt seasoning, Chinese five spice, smoked paprika, ground ginger, red pepper flakes, celery flakes, curry powder, dry mustard, a packet of splenda, rice vinegar, A1 steak sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and some sesame oil… of course I don’t know how much of anything I just put some in, tasted and adjusedt as needed…

I set the crock pot on high and went about my day until around 4:30 when I cooked some Country Pasta wide egg pasta to serve the soup over. Oh, my, my, my… did our house ever smell gooooooooooood!!!

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When it was time to eat I served the soup over the noodles and served some saltine crackers on the side. YUMMMMMMM… The broth in the soup was absolutely delicious if I do say so myself. The meat was so tender, and the kale, and other vegetables were cooked just right. This was a one of a kind comfort food for sure, and it’s healthy!! I had the best time creating it and that’s why I love cooking. I’m already looking forward to next weeks ‘must-go” meal.  Who knows what I will come up with next… 🙂

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Mom’s Valentine

And other good things…

With all the craziness with my schedule over the past month, I had to tell my mother that I would need to change the day of my weekly visits with her. In fact, I had to tell her that I couldn’t commit to a day of the week when I can visit right now so I asked her if we could just leave it open to a surprise visit when I can work it in between appointments… She agreed, although she forgets from day-to-day what she agreed to and will ask her aid to call me to ask when I am coming to see her again…

So, after a very trying week with many, many, appointments… and still more to come…, I was so excited that my husband, Bill/Bro and I were able to grab a date hike on Sunday… I posted that on my Facebook status. It was fun to just get away with my best friend, who just happens to also be my husband… and be out in the great outdoors alone, where we could walk, talk, laugh, and just remember what it was like when we were foot loose and fancy free to do that at will… Not that I would take one minute away from our family life together with our daughter, Shantel, but still, it is sooooo nice when Bill and I can just get back to basics like we did years ago, and what better way than just a simple hike up a mountain, sit on the top of the mountain and enjoy an apple and a small handful of smoked almonds with a bottle of water… nothing fancy, but when you share it with the love of your life, I would take that over a trip around the world anytime…

Now, back to Mon’s Valentine… I drove Shantel to school yesterday morning, went to my weekly adoration chapel visit, then went to see my mother… When I arrived, she was in the dinning room eating lunch. I sat with her and her tablemate while they ate their lunches, then I pushed mom back to her room where I noticed every tabletop in her room is stacked high with “stuff”… Trust me this is just one picture of just one tabletop that has “stuff’ piled on top of “stuff”…

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I asked mom if I could come back next week and go through all this “stuff” and take home what she doesn’t need to keep in her room everyday, like Christmas bags from last Christmas,  and even Easter decorations from who knows when… I also looked in her closet which can’t even be closed anymore because of all the “stuff”… Mom got upset and  said “absolutely not, I need all this and you are not going to change anything.” I said “ok, mom, I was just trying to help.”

After she decided she didn’t need me to help her clean up her room, I decided to change the subject by giving her the Dove’s heart-shaped chocolate, what used to be one of her favorites… I gave it to her early because I won’t be there on Valentine’s Day.

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She did say thank-you, but added that she didn’t need any more chocolate because my brother, Danny, already gave her a HUGE chocolate bar last week, and my late brother, Stephen’s wife, had given her a box of chocolates not long ago…she said how much chocolate do you think I need…??  I said “Ok mom, I’m sorry I didn’t know… I try to keep reminding myself that it is the Parkinson’s talking and she doesn’t understand how some of the things she says comes across to others… Then I said hey, the weather is perfect outside, how about we go out in the garden and sit for a while? She agreed and off we went.”

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As we sat in the garden, mom tried to tell me about my brother, Danny’s visit on Sunday, but she kept getting that story confused with the story she tried to tell me earlier about the care center getting a new computer system. She told me that Danny helped work on the computer system, of course he didn’t, what she was trying to tell me was Danny helped her with her bingo game….

I noticed a large glass jar of water with cups sitting on a table and asked mom if she wanted some water and she said yes. I put some water in a cup only filling it about half full because mom shakes so bad due to her Parkinson’s. I gave her the water, she took one sip then spilled the rest of the water all down the front of her. That upset her and she said she needed to go back to her room now and get changed. I told her it wasn’t that much water and it would dry in the warm afternoon sun, but she insisted she needed to get changed so off we went in search of an aid to assist her with her need to change her outfit…

By the time mom got settled again, it was time for me to leave so I hugged her and said good-bye reminding her I can’t say what day I would be back but just to know I would come back as soon as I could. She agreed and I left.

As I was walking out of the care center I was feeling a little drained and I said a little quick prayer asking God to help me find something to lift my spirits. When I got in my car, I look up and out the window and saw this beautiful tree in full bloom. Funny how I never even noticed it when I pulled into that parking space, but right when I needed it.., I noticed it in all it’s glory. Makes me wonder how many other beautiful things I’ve missed when I was focused on other things…?

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Then, to add to my lifted spirit, when I got home I received a call from Social Security and was told I was approved to begin receiving my benefits in June. I’m taking my Social Security early to help Shantel through Grand Canyon University next year… But the even better news was that now, because Shantel was disabled before the age of 21, Shantel’s Social Security payments will go up because she will draw from my benefits… So we both won on this deal… Then, when my husband, Bill, starts receiving his Social Security, which will be a few years off yet… but when he does, Shantel will get another raise because she will draw off of Bill’s Social Security.

Counting my blessings…

Stay Tuned!

Previous Older Entries

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On the Road Since 2010, Traveling Across USA & Europe With 12 Paws

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In the eyes of the law, we reach adulthood the day we turn 18 years old. God help anyone who actually believes that.

the next few years

family life..with a unique perspective of motherhood

Gotham Girl Chronicles

a mixture of random musings...life in NYC...travel...photography...cycling

Blooming Burgh Boomer

Living An Active Full Life

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