Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Rice and Beans

This afternoon I pulled out my never-before-been-used rice cooker, and read the instructions. What? Just rinse rice, add rice, add water and push a button? Why have I not used this wonderful contraption before? It has been sitting neglected under my kitchen island for months and months! (Apparently, though, I can even make sticky rice in a rice cooker --I just checked it, and it is all gooey -- this may take some mastering, but I have heard that rice cookers are wonderful, so I'll keep trying!)

Here is the recipe I came up with. It smells wonderful! It looks like a long list of ingredients, but it is mostly spices, and if you don't have one it is not the end of the world, just leave it out and yours will taste different. Not worse, just different! Except for the beans. You might want to have those in there.

Black Beans and Rice

1 yellow onion, chopped
2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can diced tomatoes
2-3 cloves of garlic, diced
1 Tbsp dried cilantro
1 Tbsp dried basil
1 tsp garlic powder (too much garlic? no such thing!)
1/2 tsp onion powder
1-2 Tbsp chili powder
2 Tbsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tsp white pepper
2 Tbsp dried chopped chives
1 pinch crushed red pepper
2 cubes "Not Chick'n" bouillon
2-3 cups of water

Saute the onion and garlic just until soft, not browned.
Add the beans, tomatoes and spices.
Cook over medium heat until bubbly, then turn heat down and simmer until liquid is thick, about 10-15 minutes.
Add bouillon cubes and water, and simmer until liquid is thickened again, about 30 minutes.
Serve over rice.

Friday, April 24, 2009


It seems like Peter is often the topic of the pastor's sermon on the week after Easter. Poor Peter! He was so enthusiastic about how he would never EVER deny Jesus... as in "I will never do that, Lord, even if all of those other guys do!" And then what does he do? Denies knowing Jesus 3 times, just like Jesus told him he would.

So the topic of the pastor's sermon last weekend was restoration. These are the passages of scripture he used:

John 18:15-27
John 21:1-19
Psalm 51
Psalm 32

His 3 bullet points were:

*Brokenness can be a platform for usefulness.
--God wants restoration after you sin, not retribution -- He takes no delight in sin or the effects of sin. He doesn't want to make our lives miserable, He wants to make our character beautiful. Pastor Mike also pointed out that God doesn't want us to walk in comparison to other people, he wants us to walk focused on Christ.

*Love is the motivation for enduring faithfulness.
--Peter's brothers (the other disciples) were there with him on the boat (they all chose to go fishing with him and not leave him to fight his inner battle by himself). They loved him, and this made it easier for Peter to be faithful to the Lord. Jesus asked Peter "Do you love ME?" Not "Do you love the church?" or "Do you love serving?"... just "Do you love ME?" He then said...well, if you love me, "Feed my lambs...take care of my sheep." Not because of some sense of obligation, but just because he loved Jesus.

*People are our most significant investment.
--We need to "share the love" with other broken people. People can be "broken" for many reasons. Sometimes it is because of their own sin, and sometimes it is because of the effects of this sin-filled world that has affected their life in some way (cancer).

I don't know if any of this made sense to anyone reading it, but I know I was affected by this sermon and wanted to remember it, so I thought I'd type up my notes here so I would have them to look back on later. Read the passages of scripture. That might help! :-)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Going Vegan

What an adventure this cancer journey has been and is continuing to be! I am "reconfiguring" my food philosophy, and deciding what foods are going to be the best for my body during and after the cancer process. I have decided to become vegan. For the most part. I will still eat fish. And if I happen to go out to eat or eat at a friend's house, I will not grill the servers and the hosts about how they cooked the food, what is in every little bite, etc. But for the majority of the time, I will eat a vegan diet.

Angela, whose blog you can find at, and whose dinner blog (which is vegan and sugar free, people, check it out!!) is at, has been petitioning people on my behalf from her blog, and has raised $420 for our family in the form of a gift card from Whole Foods. I think it would be impossible for me to even consider this lifestyle change if not for Whole Foods, and this gift card is such a lifesaver, because the doctor's bills were really eating into our funds!

Many thanks go to Angela, and Bonnie who did Angela's running around for her since she doesn't even live here. (Did I mention that I have not even met Angela? We will meet soon, though, as she has invited Mike and I to stay at their vacation cottage in North Carolina for free for a weekend after my chemo is done! Isn't she wonderful!?) Also, there were several other people who donated to the gift card also, all of whom I haven't met. There are some wonderful people in this crazy world of ours!

Throughout the week, I will be posting some reading material that I have gathered from the book The Complete Idiot's Guide to Vegan Cooking by Beverly Lynn Bennett and Ray Sammartano. I hope this will help to explain vegan nutrition to those of you who may have no clue what I will be eating, and may be worried about my health because of this decision.

I am doing a lot of writing these days in my "Vegan Notebook", because I am writing a research paper to help me better understand my decision. I tend to jump into decisions without thinking them through thoroughly, and if I make the decision to be vegan it will most likely be a lifelong thing, so I can't take it lightly.

Here it is! Your first installment of The Vegan Times.

Definition of a Vegan

"If you're eating vegan, you eat foods that come from plant-based sources like whole grains, beans and legumes, fruits, vegetables, and even the aquatically harvested sea vegetables. You avoid all animal-based foods and their rendered or processed byproducts, like meat, fish, fowl, eggs, all dairy products, and even honey and gelatin." pg. 3 TCIGTVC

I will still be eating fish and honey, and who knows about gelatin. Haven't researched that yet.

That's all for now! This means that I will be posting a lot more often. :-)

Monday, April 06, 2009

Big Boy Sammy!

Sammy is officially potty training!

We ran out of Pull-Ups last night, and I really don't want to spend another $30 for a box that will last us only a couple of weeks. I can buy a lot of little underwear for that price! So I am biting the bullet -- during chemo week, of all times, but I have a feeling that soon I will not have the energy to even think about potty training a stubborn 3-year-old, so may as well get it done now!

Sammy is VERY excited about his new underwear-wearing venture. Today should be interesting, that's for sure!

I am anxiously awaiting a Stampin' Up! order. It is my first supply order as a demonstrator, and there is a (pink, of course!) organizer in there to help me with all of my paperwork. I also ordered the new Occasions Mini Catalog to give to my customers. It has so many cute sets in it! There is even a new train set that is adorable that I think I may just have to order for the boys. :-)

I also ordered some jewelry on Saturday. I spent my birthday money (thank you, Grandma and Mom and Dad!) on a leather bracelet with freshwater pearls and sterling silver, and a ring that says "Be true to your dreams." I love them! They should be here by the end of the week. They are from Silpada, a local direct sales company. My neighbor had a party and invited me. :-)

I go in for blood tests on Tuesday and chemo #2 on Wednesday. They will be starting me on the fourth drug, bleomycin, on Wednesday, and it can have some harsh effects on the lungs, so the first dose will be small to make sure I don't have a really bad reaction to it.

Last night I made this:

It is a notebook to help me keep everything organized. I never realized how much paper would be involved in the cancer process. Bills, surgery instructions, treatment info, prescription info, cards (which overtook our dining room doorway, and I prefer to have them in my hand so that I can take them out and reread them on the tough days), pictures, a schedule of who is coming to help out on what days, and things like that will go in this notebook. It is my little survival mechanism, and it was fun to make! I started with a blank chipboard notebook, covered it with patterned paper, then picked out bright, cheery colors for the dividers and covered each one of those as well.
This notebook will eventually become my cancer scrapbook. I will eventually be able to take out all of the medical mumbo-jumbo and just keep pictures and journaling and cards in it, but until then I am hoping that it will help me out on the days when a doctor or other "informational" person calls -- I actually just got off the phone with someone else wanting to send me information, which is all very helpful, but creates a lot of paper to wade through.
Well, on to another week! Hope it is a good one for you. :-)

Saturday, April 04, 2009


These are just some of the things people have given and sent to us. I am trying to take as many pictures as possible so that I will be able to make a scrapbook of my cancer experience.
Fun stuff for the boys -- thanks, Donna!

Wonderful Meals (Bonnie brought this one, it was super yummy!)

Cute Packages (Angela sent this one)

The inside of Angela's package -- thanks, Angela!!

Just a head of lettuce with spikes?

No, it's actually a fruit basket delivered fresh and cold from Edible Arrangements!
Thanks, Alison, Robert, Aunt Susan, Uncle John and Grandma!

Many thanks to all of the wonderful people who have brought us meals, cleaned our house, folded our laundry, collected money for our family, sent fun gifts to the boys, spent time with me, taken me to doctor's visits, babysat my children, spent time in prayer for us, sent us beautiful cards and handwritten notes of love and encouragement, and coordinated everyone who wants to help. We love you all, and it is a very humbling and yet enriching experience to go through, this cancer is. (I just sounded like Yoda. Hee!)

We have been blessed beyond measure with good friends, some of whom we have never even met, and supportive, there-through-thick-and-thin family members who are weathering this storm with us. I am so thankful for each and every one of you!

I have to say some special words of thanks to my darling husband. He has been my rock, and my strength, and my shoulder to cry on and to lean on during this year. The tubal pregnancy in January was rough, but we got through it. This cancer is going to kick my behind, but I am going to kick it back, and make it through a much stronger person! And my husband is going to be there every step of the way. He has been so busy with work these past few weeks, and yet he is still making time to wash dishes, do load after load of laundry, cook healthy, yummy meals, clean the house, take care of the boys, and sit and talk with me about everything that is going on. I think he deserves some special words of gratitude. I love you so much, Babe!!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Hair Shaving Party

The hair shaving party was a success! My head is now shaved. Well, mostly shaved. I wasn't brave enough to go completely bald, but Caleb talked me into going with the #1 guard on the razor he graciously provided. I am still getting used to having no hair, and my scarves are really coming in handy now, as my head is pretty cold. I giggled when I came out of the shower this morning and didn't have to dry my hair, but I still used the blow-drier just to warm up my head a bit...brrrr!! Now I know why God gave us hair.

I had such a blast last night! It was great to be surrounded by family and friends during what could have been a traumatic experience for me.

Without further ado, here are just some of the 156 pictures Mike took last night. I had a hard time deciding which ones to post, they were all great!

Mom and Mark, my sister Christy's new baby

I'm just getting ready.

Bonnie got to do the fun part, since she had experience doing Caleb's hair.

That first buzz felt strange!!

Reverse Mohawk

Bonnie is hard at work.

Look at the hair fall...

Wonderful friends and family!!

Half done.

I didn't know WHAT I looked like, so I was still smiling.

They told me to do a combover with my half-head of hair.

Then Amber (pink) and Andrea (red) told me I looked like Donald Trump.
So I said, "You're fired!!"
Bonnie looks like she's having WAY too much fun...

But then, so was I!

Half without...

Half with!

Getting closer

Caleb didn't want me to have to be the first baldy at the party,
so he shaved his head prior to coming... isn't that sweet?
Here he is with Diamond... speaking of sweet... isn't she a doll??

Mom and Christy and Mark... can you tell that we are related? :-)

Nicolas is my friend Adrienne's son;
he is one of my sons' favorite people!


Mama G and Papa B looking on,
and "the girls"... left to right is:
Christy's Brianna, Amber's Kylie, and Christy's Kayla

I'm still not sure about all of this, but it is happening!

My first baldy massage from my handsome husband.
Bonnie did a great job, thanks Bon-Bon!

Finishing touches

Kylie and Kayla hit it off.

Kayla wanted to see what she looked like with red hair. hee!

my wig


Crying baldies

All 3 baldies :-)

Too funny!!

Awww... Bonnie and Diamond are precious.

Isn't she just TOO cute!?

Christy's Lydia wanted to feel.

Amber's massage was Soooooo nice...

And it didn't even freak her out!

Girls saying goodbye to each other.

Christy's Miguel... was a sweetie!
And check out my new purse, isn't it sweet?

My Sammy Boy

Adrienne's artwork :-)

She brought markers to sign my head with, what a cool idea!!

Griffin held the door open while people left. He was so tired after no nap!

Sammy told me, "Mommy, you look like a different girl!
You need to put your glasses back on."
He said the same thing when he saw me this morning. He's not used to it yet.

Lydia :-)