A Treat For Mom

I went to visit my mother today at the Care Center. On the way there, I decided to stop by McDonald’s and get her a Oreo mcflurry. Mom was just coming back from bingo and on her way to the dining room for lunch. I pushed her the rest of the way to the dinning room where other residents were already enjoying their choice of chicken fried steak or a fresh fruit plate.


When mom saw the Oreo mcflurry she got very excited and wanted to start eating it right away. I told her she should hold off so she would be able to eat her lunch. She said “I’m not that hungry, this will be just fine.”


This sounded like a repeat of the last time I took mom a treat, a McDonald’s frappe…. she didn’t want to eat her lunch after she got that either…

I decided it was no use trying to convince her to wait for her lunch, especially since she was already digging in..


I was happy to see my friend, Bradley, in the dinning room. He is the one with the white pillow around his neck. Bradley has not been able to leave his room for a couple of months now because his power wheelchair broke and he can’t sit up right in a regular wheelchair. Bradley amazes me with his patience and cheerfulness. No matter what he is dealing with he always has a joke to share like today as he was talking to the activity assistant, in the red, about her cell phone and what all it could do… When the activity assistant went to leave, Bradley smiled and said “be good, and if you can’t be good, be good at it..” Then, after lunch I met up with Bradley in the hall and he was very excited to share his joke of the day with me. He asked if I knew why a chicken coupe only has two doors? I said no, why? He got the biggest boyish grin on his face and said “well if it had four doors it would be a sedan..” I laughed and told him he is just too much, and he is.. talk about long-suffering with grace and dignity… Bradley, at 58 years old, confined to a wheelchair in a care center for the rest of his life…, has cornered the market on that. The man must be a saint, and  I am proud he calls me his friend!


When mom’s fruit plate arrived of course she pushed the food around her plate and said she really didn’t want to eat it. I was able to get her to eat some watermelon and strawberries and a bite or two of her blueberry muffin.


When mom was finished eating, I pushed her back to her room which I was nicely surprised to see still remains neat and clean from when I last cleaned it for her a few weeks back. Her doll was tucked neatly into the bed.


and her TV stand and night stand remain, for the most part, clutter free… Yeah!


I had another little surprise for mom today but I didn’t want to tell her until I could get some quiet time with her. So, I suggested we go outside and sit in the garden.


When we got to the garden, I told her I wanted to read a letter to her from her grandson, Tom III, my oldest, late brother, Tom Jr’s son. Mom loves to get letters from him, or anyone, so it was a really nice surprise for her.  Anyway, Tom reads my blog, and when I posted the St. Patrick’s Day pictures of mom’s tattoo, Tom said it inspired him to write another letter to his grandma. Thanks Tom, it really made her day extra nice.. Mom sat quietly while I read Tom’s letter, then she asked me to take her back to her room because she wanted me to put it in a special folder she keeps in the bottom drawer of her night stand, along with other “special cards and treasures..”


After mom had her letter from Tom safely tucked away, she said she was tired and would like to take a nap. I pushed the call button for an aid to come and assist her with getting into bed. Mom said she would sit in the doorway and watch me leave as she waited for her aid to help her get in bed for her nap. Sweet dreams mom, sweet dreams…

Stay Tuned!







Chicken Tortilla Soup

Yesterday I found the “pet” setting on my camera and took some cute pictures of my precious cat Carmen. Then I messed around and found a “food” setting and I wanted to practice using the “food” setting, like I used the “pet” setting yesterday. However, I didn’t want to just take a picture of our dinner without at least letting  you know how I made it… So, if you want to try this easy to make, delicious to eat, chicken tortilla soup, here is the recipe… Now, let’s get started!


3 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

6 cups chicken stock

4 cups half-and -half ( I used fat-free)

One 10 oz can cream of chicken soup (I used 98% fat-free)

1 cup prepared salsa, mild or spicy

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked, and cubed

2 15- oz cans black beans, drained and rinsed

One 15 oz can whole kernel corn, drained (I used 1 cup frozen corn)

2 teaspoons ground cumin

One package fajita seasoning

1 small can diced green chili

One bag tortilla strips

Sour cream for garnish (I used fat-free)

Monterey Jack and sharp Cheddar cheese grated for garnish (optional)

Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and the onion and sauté until softened, 5 minutes. Add the flour and stir well, cooking for 1 minute more. Add the broth and half-and-half. Stir in the cream of chicken soup, salsa, cubed chicken, beans, corn, cumin and fajita seasoning. Continue to simmer over low heat until ready to serve.


When serving: Put some tortilla chips into individual bowls and top with some soup. Sprinkle each serving with cheese (if desired, I didn’t use cheese this time) and add a dollop of sour cream.



Side note: Unlike when I used the “pet” setting where I could see a difference in the picture…To be honest, I can’t tell that much of a difference between using the “food” setting on my camera or just using one of the automatic settings…  The food pictures look the same as they always have to me. Except to say that by the time I get the food setting all set, if I wanted to take a picture of the steam coming off the bowl of soup…like you see in the magazines… too bad, the soup would have already cooled down… I guess more practice is needed. 🙂 What do you think?

Stay Tuned!


So my frissy, who is a fabulous photographer, told me I have a good camera and I should learn how to use all the settings on it. She said you don’t have to have a big lens or filters to get great pictures, you just have to understand composition, lighting, etc. I plan to take a class when I get some free time, and I have been looking into where I can learn how to use the camera I have more effectively. I’m really not so much interested in being a photographer, but I am interested in learning how to take sharper pictures for my blog.

I have been reading the owner’s manual that came with my camera and trying to decipher what the heck the instructions are trying to instruct me to do. However, if  you know nothing about photography, like me, this is like trying to read a foreign language you never learned how to even speak… For example : I was trying to read about how to take a close up picture. The instruction manual says “for stationary subjects indoors… sensitivity lowered to avoid interference.. but they don’t say how to lower the sensitivity… Then it goes on to say “maximum level for ISO sensitivity can also be set (then they refer me to P.51). The instructions go on to say “If the maximum level is set to ‘800’ or ‘1250’, this will reduce to ‘640’ when using the flash.” What the h##l does that mean? See what I mean? No, I need someone to show me how to do all this and explain to me what all this means…

I will find a class/teacher, that I can afford, for my Lumix 10x Panasonic DMC-TZ3 camera…hopefully, sooner than later. I did find a one day workshop that I got real excited about until I found out it is held in Rockport, Maine. Not only that but the workshop costs $175.00 tuition, $55.00 non-refundable application fee, $300.00 course deposit, and a $100.00 lodging deposit, not to mention flight cost, lodging cost etc…so needless to say… that’s out!

Determined though I am… so I just started turning knobs and pushing buttons on my little Lumix 10x camera, and lo and behold I found some little picture symbols within some of the settings on my camera. Who knew? Why do they hide them like that? So I saw one that was a picture of a dog… I pushed that and the word “pet” showed up under the picture of the dog… I thought to myself, this must be the setting for taking a picture of  your pet…! Again why do they hide it..? How was I to know? Anyway, I got real excited and went looking for my precious pet, Carmen. And this is what I got when I took her picture using the “pet” setting…


I think that is pretty clear and sharp don’t you?

Well, now I’m thinking I’m on to something so of course I had to keep taking her picture to see if they keep getting better and better. Carmen, however, was not interested in sitting for a photo session for me. No, she wanted to go take another nap… but I was not letting her off that easy. I had my camera set on “pet” setting so I had to take pictures of my pet right? Right, and I did. See, here is another picture taken on the “pet setting… 🙂


and another, you can see she is really losing interest in my excitement… but I don’t care, I need to practice now… sorry Carmen…


Finally, she hit her little paw on the bed as if to say… would you please STOP!!! Touchy little princess isn’t she?


After Carmen got so annoyed with me I gave up and left her alone to take her nap… not that I was going to give up, but because I happened to notice a symbol/picture of a plate of food next to the “pet” symbol/picture… Imagine my surprise when pushed it and the word “food” came up under the symbol/picture… OMG!! A “food” setting!!!

I’m off to the kitchen to take pictures of dinner…! I figure I saved myself $630.00 of what it would have cost me to go to the workshop in Rockport Maine, not counting the travel costs…! All I have to do now is keep practicing, and I know how to do that… 🙂

Stay tuned!

A State Of Mind

I’ve been on a very hectic schedule for months now. Driving my daughter, Shantel, to school everyday which is a 42 mile round trip adventure, taking her to all her weekly appointments, checking in on my mother and taking care of all her needs as well as trying to keep up with the daily routine of taking care of my home and family..

So today, I decided after I got Shantel to school to take her biology practical lab test, I was going to take myself on a little mini vacation custom-made just for me… Just look at this beautiful little beach front vacation spot I took myself to today..


Who wouldn’t be able to relax here?

They have adorable little table huts where people talk nice to you and bring you food and cold drinks


They even know your name. Look, they said I’m Virginia and I’m a 10…


I said “yes, I am.., thank  you for noticing… 🙂

This place is spotless, and full of cheerfulness with all the bright colors I love.


They are known for fresh fish and even have them hanging on the walls to show you how good they are at catching them.. Wow, I probably have to book a deep-sea fishing boat tour to catch one like this.. Too bad I didn’t have time for that today…


Since it is Friday in Lent, I ordered a fresh fish taco… YUMMERS!!!


That fish was soooo good. Crispy on the outside but soft and flaky on the inside. Served with cabbage and a white sauce to die for… They also have a self-serve salsa bar so you can add more deliciousness if you want… .

They offer outdoor seating if you like. Lots of pretty flowers there. Probably due to the nice ocean breeze and humidity.. don’t you think?


Where, you might ask, was this mini vacation escape I found…?


I’d like to say it is in one of my all time favorite vacation spots, San Diego, but the truth is it’s just around the corner from Shantel’s school… Didn’t matter to me because today I pretended I was in San Diego and it worked… you see, sometimes, it really is all just “a state of mind” Ha!!! 🙂

What’s ya think?

Stay Tuned!

Just Between Friends

Like most Monday and Wednesday afternoons, after classes, yesterday our daughter, Shantel, was out with her best friend, Jaz. These two girls have been best friends for the past four years. They go everywhere and do everything together. Jaz also tutor’s Shantel at least twice a week, helping her with all her math and/or science related courses. Jaz and Shantel will stay up half the night on the phone studying for a test, or Jaz will just help Shantel understand course related things that are extremely visual in content. So, needless to say, they have a special bond that is reserved for special friends… And, because they are young… they sometimes have a special language they share just between them…

Yesterday, while Jaz and Shantel were out and about having lunch, going to Sally’s Beauty Supply to get their beauty products, then Wal-Mart for whatever they need to pick up there… Jaz was explaining something to Shantel about items in the store and apparently Shantel kept asking her something over and over pretending she didn’t understand… Finally, Jaz caught on to what Shantel was doing and said in a joking manner ” Oh, go to hell Shantel…” Shantel, being blind, but with a quick wit… said “OK, where is it and how do I get there…?” Well, another customer who was standing nearby spoke up to Jaz and said “that is no way to speak to a person with a disability.” Jaz smiled and said “oh, we’re best friends.” Jaz told Shantel the customer shook her head and said “still, you should be ashamed of yourself for talking to people like them like that..” Then that customer just walked off.

I asked Shantel what she and Jaz thought about the incident. Shantel said they just laughed and said “everyone our age says things like that to each other so why is it different just because I’m disabled, or like the customer put it, I’m one of those “people like that?”

Today when I was taking Shantel to school she told me she was still laughing about what the customer in Wal-Mart said. I’m glad Shantel and Jaz have that special bond of friendship. They are young and they are not hurting anyone…, and to be honest, I love the special bond I have with special friends that allows me to relax, and be myself, even saying little things that only real friends can say to each other… Albeit, I would never say anything intentionally to hurt anyone, ever!!

So what do you think? Were the girls just being young girls, and do you have a special bond, with a special friend, where you can just relax and kind of say little things from time to time knowing they won’t be taken seriously? I mean personally, I would not tell one of my friends to “go to hell.” even as a joke… but I’m a bit older…. However I do have special friends that I have a special bond with and we do sometimes speak a language that is reserved for girlfriends only…

As always, I welcome your thoughts and comments…

Stay Tuned!

Mom Got A Tattoo!

I went to see my mother today. I knew the Care Center where she lives was having a St. Patrick’s Day party on St. Patrick’s Day, and this was the first opportunity for me to visit her and see if she participated in the party, but more importantly, did she have fun!!

I can say for sure she had fun…!! First off she wanted me to see the little leprechaun hat they gave her. She said “it’s too small because it’s for a leprechaun.” I said “of course it’s small because leprechaun’s are tiny little creatures, but, you always told me they are as real as Santa.” She said “that’s right.”


Mom went on to tell me the Care Center had all kinds of Irish food, Irish music, and lots of Irish activities… like getting a tattoo!!! I said “I didn’t know getting a tattoo was an Irish thing..” But, according to my now 86-year-old mother, it seems the Irish do all kinds of things on St. Patrick’s Day that they most likely wouldn’t do on any other day of the year. Coming from my mother…all I could say was “who knew?”

Then she showed me her tattoo. She said ” your father and I always asked all our children, and grandchildren, not to get tattoo’s, but no matter how much we tried to tell them when they get old, and their skin starts to sag… they will regret getting tattoo’s…, most of them still got tattoo’s anyway.” So she said she thought she would get one so she could show them what their tattoo’s are going to look like if they live to be her age… (86)”

This, she said, is what a tattoo will look like for anyone who gets a tattoo at a young age, and lives to be my age (86). OMG!!! How funny!!!


But, she was dead serious about this when I questioned her about it as you can see here…

So I asked her if I could take pictures of her “tattoo”  and post it on my blog (not sure if she understands what a blog is) she said “yes, I want them to see what they are in for when they get my age.”

In my most serious voice I could bring up I said “well, mom, what should I say if anyone asks me why you did this?” She put her hand to her mouth and said “tell them I was just kidding.”


Gotta LOVE that right?

Stay Tuned!

Finding Gold

Well I didn’t find any leprechaun’s, or even the pot at the end of the rainbow…, but I sure enough found a lot of gold, or gold like colors, as I went about my St. Patrick’s Day looking for those darn, elusive, leprechaun’s… And, believe me… I looked everywhere… You must understand, I believe in leprechaun’s because as a small child, my mother, who is full Irish (Sweeny was her maiden name) told me, “leprechaun’s are as real as Santa.” Well everyone knows Santa is real, so of course I believe it…  And yesterday I looked and looked for one…  I looked everywhere… I looked high in the trees.


In every parking lot.


In church before adoration


I just knew I was going to find one in this sweet acacia tree because they smell soooooo good.


I looked at the nearby school just knowing those little leprechaun’s would be playing with small, laughing, children..


I looked in the vines growing along the fence


And what self-respecting leprechaun wouldn’t want to be playing in this lovely field of wild flowers?


Perhaps one is hiding in the leaves of this giant sunflower


or in the spines of these lovely things that look pretty but I don’t know what they are..


I didn’t get too close to this palm tree cause bad things hide in there… like scorpions.. no thanks!!!


No leprechaun’s here either, just more gold…


I sure wasn’t having any “luck of the Irish”, so I had no choice but to give up and go home… Oh well, better luck next year! At least I saw a lot of pretty gold things to brighten my day. 🙂

So, did any of you see any real, live, leprechaun’s? That weren’t a result of too much green beer??? 🙂 🙂 🙂

Stay Tuned!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

And, Top Of The Morning to ya!

I’m all set for St. Patrick’s Day…

I have my shamrock ear rings on. Do you know how hard it is to take a picture of yourself in a mirror? Well, just trust me, it’s not easy. Ha!


I’ve got my green pants on


And a smile on my face…


So now I’m off to spend the day in search of those darn, elusive, leprechaun’s! I thought I saw one this morning but I wasn’t fast enough to get a picture. However, I’m determined, and I’m sure I will capture one with my camera today, don’t you think? When I do, I’ll share it with all of you right here on my blog. 🙂

Stay Tuned!

Oh What A Night

There is nothing I enjoy more than entertaining family/friends with a labor of love home cooked dinner. Last night filled the bill. And “Oh What A Night it was…” My husband Bill and I hosted a dinner party for our dear friends, my frissy, and her husband, Bob.

I set the table with a very colorful table-cloth and my best china.


The kitchen pub table is where we enjoyed an array of appetizers.


which included the crackers and chips above to build your own party in your mouth with a variety of smoked salmon,


and a wonderful smoked salmon dip


We were not short on a plethora of drinks to choose from, such as the variety of beers (take note of the bottle with the pink elephant… Delirium nocturnum…Bill took a particular liking to that…)  🙂


and wine that frissy and Bob brought.. Even our daughter, Shantel, who will be 21 in June, enjoyed a glass of Prosecco. 🙂


For those who enjoy red wine, Bill had a bottle of Earthquake, Petite Sirah, at the ready..


I stayed with my all time favorite, Yellow Tail..


We ate the appetizers as we enjoyed the beers and wines, toasting our friendships as we laughed and talked and waited for the main event dish…

What, you might ask, was the main event dish of the evening? Well, when I asked my frissy what she wanted me to make for her for dinner, she said “that’s a no-brainer, I want jambalaya!!! So jambalaya it was. Made with chicken, kielbasa, ham, shrimp and scallops. The broth is a tomato/chicken stock base seasoned with bell peppers, onion, celery, garlic, black pepper, old bay seafood seasoning, and Cajun seasoning . I always make this up, adding everything but the shrimp and scallops, the day before so all the flavors have time to marry. Then, when I’m ready to serve it, I bring it up to a slow simmer and add in the shrimp and scallops just before dishing it up.


It was served over rice


and of course you must have some good crusty bread to soak up all that broth…


Now, back to the beer bottle with the pink elephant, the Delirium nocturnum.. Keep in mind that Bill doesn’t usually drink all that much, and he rarely drinks wine… but if he does drink wine, he likes Earthquake Petite Sirah. Well, last night, he loved the beers, especially the Delirium nocturnum, AND the wine… He relaxed and laughed harder than I’ve seen him laugh in a long time… By the time the evening was over, and he went to bed, he was feeling no pain… he said it was a perfect night with good friends, good food and good drinks… and he’s right, it was!

This morning, however, he was sporting a different tune… When he finally came out to join me in the family room, he was moving much slower, and when I asked him how he felt, he said “I feel like a truck hit me, a BIG, F#####g truck!!! He’s sticking to just water today.. 🙂


I said but did you have fun? He said I sure did! So, as “they” say… all is well that ends well… and a fun time was had by all…!

For me, the evening was perfect, just perfect!!!

Stay Tuned!

Mother Daughter Time

WOW! Finally, it’s spring break… And after a very busy week running from one end of the valley of the sun to the other taking my daughter, Shantel, to several appointments, and to shop for apartments with the two girls that will hopefully be her roommates… Both Shantel, and I, decided we needed to have some mother/daughter down time to relax and recharge our batteries… Hey, even the energizer bunny runs out of get up and go once in a while. Right? 🙂

So, when Shantel booked her nail appointment this week, I asked her to make an appointment for me to get a much-needed Pedi. I so  just needed to sit on my butt and let someone take care of me for a while, and oh, my, my, my, how good that felt… And look how pretty. Every time I look down at my pretty toes… I have something to smile about as I remember how good it felt to take some down time just for me… 🙂


And, look how pretty Shantel’s nails turned out. The gal that does her nails always paints on some kind of special flower design and this week, even though it is hard to see in this picture, she said she put just a touch of green on the side of the flower for St. Patrick’s Day. Now, if she forgets to wear green on St. Patrick’s day, she won’t get  “pinched.” 🙂


After our “day at the spa” appointments were over, Shantel wanted to run by McDonald’s to get something for lunch… Then, I dropped her off at home and I went to the Care Center to check-in on my mother.


You might remember from a previous post, where I mentioned I cleaned out my mother’s end table but that took so long I told her I needed to come back another day to work on her bathroom and her closet… She agreed, so today was the day I planned to accomplish both the bathroom and the closet before she had time enough to change her mind.

I was happy to see when I walked in my mother’s room today that her end table I cleaned out last week was still neat and clean.


I asked her if everything was working out for her since I cleaned out her drawers and she said “yes, but I do have trouble getting my scarfs in the drawer nicely.” She said she can’t get them folded right. So I said “how about we hang them on the hooks beside your end table? (see picture above). She said “yes, that would be good.” I looked in her drawer and said “do you only have two (meaning two scarfs)? But she looked at me and said “do I want a tattoo?” She was so serious, I just started cracking up! I laughed so hard I started to cry… but my mother was sitting there looking so serious at me, and said what is so funny? When I finally gained control of myself, I repeated my actual question. When she finally understood what I really asked, she said “well I wondered why you would ask you mother if she wanted a tattoo.”

Next I was able to clean out my mother’s bathroom and get everything put back in its place. She had a gallon ziplock bag full of make-up which I know for a fact she has never used in the five plus years she has been at the care center, and I very much doubt she is ever going to use again. However, when I showed her the bag of make-up, and asked her if we could get rid of it, she said “no, I might need it someday.” I didn’t argue with her, perhaps it reminds her of something she needs to cling too…, I just put the bag back in the basket I bought to contain all her bathroom items and went on to take a look at her closet….

I couldn’t wait to get into that closet because she has so much “stuff” in there, no one can even push clothes from side to side to see what she has to wear from day-to-day… she has winter, spring, summer and beyond in this tiny closet.


She also had a lot of stuff on the floor of her closet. I asked her where the hamper was that I bought her but she didn’t know so I didn’t push the issue…


I started going through the clothes, asking her if we could move “this or that” out? But, every time I asked her if we could move this or that out she said “no, I need that or I might need that…” I finally said “well mom, I can’t help you thin out your closet if you’re not going to let me move anything out.” She just looked at me and said ” I’m starting to get upset.” Again, I didn’t argue, I simply closed the tiny closet, and said, ” OK mom, we will just close the closet door and pretend like it doesn’t need to be thinned out.” I said “if we keep the door closed, we don’t have to think about it anymore.” She was happy with that and said “well, look at how pretty my bed looks…”


OMG, that brought a smile to my face as I agreed her bed looked beautiful, and at that, we went on to have a nice visit for the remainder of my time with her…

Stay Tuned!

Previous Older Entries

Wheeling It: Tales From a Nomadic Life

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

The Brantley Blog

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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