Randomness

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Nolan.  Many of you already know who he is, others of you will only recognize this button that has resided on my sidebar for 3 years.

NolanLink

Until today. Today I'm taking the button off my site because....

NOLAN KICKED CANCER IN THE JELLY BEANS!

This video tells the story way better than I could.
[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/63340975 w=403&h=227]

Watching that video just now was not so easy for me.  Those were hard, hard days in the beginning.  Cancer touched us all in a new way. Nolan was still a toddler when he was diagnosed with leukemia 3 years ago.  After 3 grueling years of chemotherapy, steroids, blood tests, house arrest (usually on the holidays), infusions, spinal taps and so, so much more, he is finally done with the chemotherapy treatments! He no longer has leukemia and he is free to go on and live life to the fullest.

I couldn't be more proud of his parents who have weathered this storm with bravery and grace.  And I couldn't be more proud of Nolan.  You are the real super-hero buddy!

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It feels a little strange to be back here, I haven't written a real post in... well, a really long time.  I did not intend to take an extended break from the blog, but then life happened.  A lot of little things all added up to weeks and weeks away from the computer.

But I'm back! Ish.  Here is how it all played out:

First was the infamous knee surgery.  (if you are squeemish, you might want to scroll by this one quickly)

knee surgery II

Back in 2008 my ACL was replaced but my knee never really recovered.  We tried physical therapy, shots, creams, meds; nothings seemed to help.  So my doctor determined that my body was rejecting the metal hardware that was installed to keep the new ACL in place.  Since the bone had grown over the graft, making it secure, the hardware was no longer needed.  While taking out the hardware (pictured above), he would look around and see if he could find any other problems.  It turns out, missing cartilage was the other problem.  I still don't fully understand what he did to fix the cartilage but he did...something painful.

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Logically, I knew it was going to be a tough recovery but for some strange reason I thought I would be up to writing right away.  Not so.  The pain killers left me barely grasping at reality for about  a week and not long after I went back to work.  I feel as though I've been playing catch-up ever since.  The meds also tore up my stomach and left me with no appetite.  That means, no cooking.  No real cooking for over a month.  A whole bunch of pro-biotics later, I'm finally eating real food again.

The good news is that my knee gets a little better every week.  Next week I should be cleared to begin physical therapy, which I'm both excited for and dreading at the same time.

Next came my much anticipated vacation to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  It was my first time in South Carolina and while I didn't find much of interest in Myrtle Beach, the day we spent in Charleston was so much fun.  I loved strolling those historical streets and looking at buildings that were part of the very birth of our nation.2f8421f2972b11e2bf2722000a1fbc66_7

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We also visited the Boone plantation just outside of Charleston.  It was so fascinating and so disturbing all at once.  One of the most eye-opening spots on the plantation is a row of small wooden cabins where the "elite" slaves of the plantation lived.  In each building was a tv monitor that told a different story of slavery: how many slaves lived per building, their religious practices, their work, their eventual emancipation. It's such an ugly part of our history but so important that we do not forget so that we never repeat it.

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When I got back home to Northern California, it was time to celebrate Easter and the resurrection of Christ.  We spent a whole glorious day eating great food, lounging on the porch, spending time together as a family.  It was a beautiful, beautiful day.

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Tonight was my first trek back into the kitchen, mostly prepping some veggies for the next week.  But it's a start.

 

The 1/8th of Irish in me (thanks to Grandpa Patterson!) wishes you a very Happy St. Patrick's Day!

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I am a member at Influence Network, a site dedicated to bringing bloggers, writers and dreamers together under the umbrella of dedicating our lives to making our online lives mean something.  We encourage each other, equip ourselves with articles and classes and share, share, share.

Today the Influence Network is hosting a linkup where we all share a bit about ourselves and get to know each other (and our sites) better.  We each must post 3 things:

1. A photo of yourself that you love. We want to put a face with a name! 

2.  Three get-to-know-me things. Deep, quirky, fun - you pick. 

3. One valuable thing you've gained from the Network. So without further ado, let's get to the questions:

1. A photo of me that I love- no woman over 30 likes to either post pictures of herself or say that she likes a photo of herself,  talk about pushing us out of our comfort zone!  I'm usually the one behind the camera so I don't have a ton of recent pictures of myself but if I had to pick my favorite from the past year it would be this one: colorrun2012

It's kind of cheating because the real reason this is my favorite picture is because it's of my nephew Jake at the Color Run.  But it's a decent photo of me, paint and all.  And it is a great memory.

2.  Three get-to-know-me-things:  OK, where to start....

  • I am a 4th degree black belt (Yon-Dan) in Shotokan Karate-do.  At one time (a very long time ago) I was 3rd in the nation in my weight division in sparring and was invited to compete at the Pan American Games in Peru for the United States Karate Team.  Yup, that's true.

karate

  • The next thing you should know about me is... and most of my readers know this already... I think God put squirrels on this planet just to make me laugh.  Show me a squirrel and I will laugh.

Source: Alexa on Pinterest

  • Lastly, you should know that I love to cook and share a lot of that cookery here on my site.  Every Friday (OK, most Fridays) are dedicated to sharing a recipe, either my own or someone else's.  If you have a recipe to share, I would love to include it on a future Friday Recipe post!

3. One valuable thing I've gained from the Influence Network:   We all have a dream, big or small, and we (members of The Influence Network) are doing our best to frame those dreams within the idea that our online life should glorify the God that created us.  It shouldn't be this way, but it takes a lot of guts to admit that you have a dream, and at The Influence Network we have the space and safety to talk about those dreams and even receive insight from other dreamers. We are trusting God with our dreams and encouraging each other along the way.

So that's my input on this linkup, I can't wait to get to see the other gals and their answers!  If you would like to see the other bloggers in this linkup or learn more about The Influence Network, hop on over to The Influence Blog!

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my acl hardware

It's been a while since we had a heart-to-heart so let's catch up!

Currently I am recovering from my 7th surgery in 9 years.  This last surgery (ohhh, please be THE LAST) was to remove the titanium hardware from my knee that was used to attach my new ACL in surgery #6.  The hardware you see in the above photo is not leftover from an Ikea cabinet, it's what came out of my knee! I am in awe and completely baffled as to how all that fit inside my little knee.

fruyo-vanilla

I have found a new yogurt obsession!  You know how much I love my Fage Plain Greek Style yogurt (with honey), it's by far, in my most humble opinion, the best Greek yogurt on the market.  Well.... now they are selling it in prepared flavors like vanilla, cherry & peach!  Same velvety, thick texture, now with delicious flavorings already mixed in.  They call it "Fruyo" and since it's so new it can be hard.  Try Whole Foods, that's where I found it!

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I just  have to get this off my chest, and don't worry I won't put out any spoilers in case some of you are not completely caught up on the season finale of Downton Abbey but JULIAN FELLOWS SHOULD BE HORSE WHIPPED!  There, I said it.  I feel better now. (Julian Fellows is the writer of the show, and he's not my favorite person right now.)

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And speaking of Dame Maggie Smith (Downton's Dowager Countess Violet Crawley of Grantham) my cousin and I went to see her in the movie "Quartet", directed by Dustin Hoffman and it was truly delightful!  The cast is packed with silver screen and stage veterans (Dame Maggie, Michael Gambon, Billy Connoly)  and the script is funny but will touch your heart at the same time.  I'm excited for it to come to DVD this spring so I can watch it again.

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One of the few perks to lying around waiting for the swelling in your knee to go down is you get a ton of reading done.  I finished off the book Divergent by Veronica Roth and I have to tell you, I kinda liked it.  If you liked the Hunger Games and are looking for something similar, this is a good option.  I can't say I was quite as engrossed as I was in the Hunger Games, but the plot puts forth some good food for thought.  I liked it enough to order the 2nd book in the series.

heirloom tomatoes

The sun has been peeking out here and there and the days are beginning to warm up, finally.  That has me thinking about the vegetable garden.  Tomatoes are definitely going to be on the list.  And of course my annual forest of basil.  I still have a few cups of last summer's homemade pesto in the freezer, that's how much basil I was able to get from my plants last year.

So that's what has been on my mind the past few days, sitting around, waiting for this leg to get better.  What's been on your mind?

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1.  Jake picked out this shirt.  I'm just kidding!  His mommy picked it out.

2.  My sister pinned this brilliant idea.  If you have a toddler who has discovered how to shut themselves in the bathroom, you need to do this!

3.  I have seen these little chalkboard spice jars before, but after looking at the photo, I realized my measuring spoons are on one side of the kitchen and the spice drawer is way on the other side.  It makes more sense to keep them closer together, right?  I'm going to have to fix that....

4.  There are so many great makeup tutorials on the web and all over Pinterest these days but I stumbled on this gal and I can't stop watching her videos!  I even tried the No Makeup-Makeup one this weekend and loved it!

5. Aren't these felt fortune cookies so darling?  And way easier to make than real fortune cookies, trust me!

6.  I waaaaaay prefer pencil highlighters to the traditional pen highlighters.  They are hard to find but this site has lots!

7.  Guess what Carey is buying herself for her birthday?!  Squirrel!

8.  I just booked a trip to Myrtle Beach!  I have no idea what is in Myrtle Beach!  But I know what isn't there.... work!

And don't forget....

Today is Twitter Tuesday, hooray!! I have no idea what we are going to talk about today but I can guarantee it will be wacky!  Follow us on Twitter with hashtag #careyandbree

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Here are the leftovers  from last week:

1.  George Strait is on his final tour and I had the privilege to go this past week.  I have been listening to George Strait practically my whole life and it was a little surreal watching him and realizing that I would never again hear him live.  He sang about 1,000 songs, all chart toppers and it was grand.

2.  I think I must be the last person on the planet to jump on the This American Life Podcast bandwagon but the past few weeks I have really gotten into it.  This last week's podcast on Surrogates was fascinating, especially Act 2 which was about a family who adopted a grown man who had served time in prison for the violent murder of his parents.  How's that for a Monday morning? I know it is terribly morbid and ugly, but the story is told by one of the daughters of that family and is more about their dysfunction than the ex-con.  It's fascinating, oops I said that already. But it is.  Surrogates | This American Life.

3.  I don't know what happened but lately my Pinterest traffic has just about quadrupled and all because of my recipe for my Great Grandmother's Oil Pie Crust.  Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled!  But I didn't realize how popular granny's recipe would be!

4.  Buttermilk Greek Yogurt Herb Dressing.  I like all five of those words.

5.  I have been looking for a quick and easy tutorial on sketching the human form.  I just always seem to get the proportions wrong.  I stumbled on this YouTube tutorial and she does such a great job of putting all into plain English, and concisely. There are 3 parts.

6.  In celebration of the upcoming Valentine's Day, I did my nails like this.  It was so easy, too! I didn't do glitter, just a red heart on a gray base.

7.  One of my hair stylists (yes, I have several.  This mop takes many hands to tame it) told me about this nifty appliance by Fagor that not only is a pressure cooker, but also is a rice cooker AND slow cooker.  I'm so curious.....

And in case you missed it, I shared this recipe last week:

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Also, tomorrow don't forget the Tuesday Twitter Party with #caryeandbree!  She doesn't know it yet, but tomorrow we are going to write a song!

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Here are a few "crumbs" I missed last week:

  • I know, I missed our Friday Recipe, so sorry.  The last few days of the week just got away from me.  But I worked this weekend on a fun recipe from my childhood (above) and I should have it ready for this Friday.  Fingers crossed!
  • On the way to/from work I listen to The Splendid Table Podcast.  This episode on olive oil was so informative on what makes good olive oil good and what makes bad olive oil bad.  And we're in luck, one of the inexpensive-yet-quality olive oils recommended originates right here in California, California Olive Ranch.  And while we're on the subject, my favorite olive oil is also from California but is just an hour or so up the road from me: Lucero.  I buy mine at Whole Foods in the bulk section.
  • Ann Voskamp's 25 Point Manifesto for Sanity.  Thanks,  Anne.  I needed that.  My favorite (I think) is #4: Your work is art, it needs a soundtrack. Find your music. Play your music.  Sing your music.
  • Usually when I get a sore throat I make a mixture of lemon juice, hot water and honey and it usually does the trick. It's both soothing and seems to speed up the healing.  But I saw this recipe for a clove-coconut throat soother and I think I might try it next time the need arises.  Which hopefully won't be for a long, long time.
  • This show is old, I caught up on it on Netflix.  I have to admit, I've watched both seasons twice because it is so darn interesting.  You have to be some kind of crazy to do what these people have done.  Or dead, as sadly is the case at times.  It gives me a whole new perspective on Everest.
  • This "hello" shirt is officially on my wish list.  I have always adored retro football tees, and someday this will be mine.

 

 

And don't forget:

Today is Twitter Tuesday with #careyandbree!  It's the day that we have a little Twitter party with our friends (you!), talking about all sorts of craziness.  We would love to meet you, drop by anytime tomorrow, the party begins at 8am PST and ends when we finally call it a night.  Join us by following hashtag #careyandbree

cornish game hen

Just a few leftovers from my week:

  • I think whole chickens and Cornish game hens are funny food props.  I like to make them sing and dance, even if I'm the only one in the kitchen.  True story.  Last weekend I made a simple dinner of game hen, marble potatoes and carrots, similar to this recipe. I trussed it and everything. 
  • Wonder Twin pinned this idea and I think it's brilliant!  Instead of buying a bed skirt that slides all over and is impossible to put on straight, upholster the box spring with a staple gun!  Now I'm in search of the perfect fabric.
  • My Great-Grandma Pat used to sing a nursery rhyme to me when I was little, but it was in Polish so I never understood a word of it but it had hand motions, similar to "This Little Piggy Went To Market" and I remember it was about birds leaving a nest.  Somehow I stumbled on this explanation of the poem and now I know what she was saying!  I wish I knew someone who could say it still.  Jake would get a kick out of it.
  • Isn't this forest animals print adorable?  I might need it.  And not just because there are dancing squirrels.
  • If you watch Downton Abbey you MUST watch this clip from Jimmy Fallon!
  • Aren't these linen tea towels wonderful?  I am a sucker for a tea towel.

...and don't forget...

Today is Twitter Tuesday with #careyandbree!  It's a Twitter party with myself, Bree and some of our best buddies, where we talk about... whatever crosses our minds!  Recently we decided that Bree's favorite animal is a fox which set off a whole chain of fox-finding-fun.  Who knows what today will bring!  Join us on Twitter by following hashtag #careyandbree!

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The power of suggestion is dangerous.  For example, last week a gal at my office was eating pork rinds (aka : chicharrones).  I have not thought of or eaten pork rinds since... well, I think it was while my Grandpa Dee was still alive and that was over 20 years ago.  He used to buy the big bag of spicy pork rinds and snack on them while watching television.  Or in the car.  Or when he driving tractor.  Or in bed.  He had a snacking problem.  Anyway... he used to share them with me and that salty, crispy, spicy crunch of deep fried pork fat sticks in my memories of him.  So when my office pal was eating them, I immediately started craving them.

It has been a week and I have not yet given in to the chile-flavored-pork-rind-craving, but I don't know how much longer I can withstand.  Hold fast, Carey!!

You can bet I'm going to give in sometime this weekend.

Today's recipe was also brought on by the power of suggestion.  Lately, I have been considering pulling out my mom's recipe for cinnamon rolls and doing a little experimenting.  I've only made them once and that was a very long time ago.  It will be a lot of trial and error to get them just right.  I hate error.

Then one day I was Pinterest-prowling and ran across Ree's recipe for Orange Marmalade Rolls.

It was the "orange" that got me, you know how much I love my citrus.  Plus they are a homemade-knockoff of these:

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Pilsbury Orange Sweet Rolls.  They are so disgustingly sweet, processed, sticky and... yeah, I admit it, I like them with a big cup of coffee.   But homemade would be OK, right?  I can control the sugar and know that no Franken-foods went into the recipe.  So I filed that away in the back of my mind, craving them a little.  But not in a hurry.

Then I ran across this recipe from Saveur:

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Sweet Orange Buns! It was a sign! Right?  Clearly, somebody wants me to eat orange cinnamon buns, it's all part of a Master-Plan.  The Master-Plan that makes me gain 15 pounds and have to wear jeans with an elastic waistband.

The gravitational pull towards these orange buns is going to get the better of me, I can feel it.

Whether you make the Saveur version or Ree's version, I hope you give them a try.  And gain 15 lbs.  That way I won't feel alone in the stretchy-pants-department.