Friday, February 25, 2011

Hugged In Absentia

As most of you probably remember, last week Steve went to a marriage retreat that our church organized; although my camera and I (sadly) did not make the trip due to sickness, someone else passed their shots on to me.

Since this is sort of an unusual destination (only four-wheel drive vehicles are allowed) I thought you might enjoy seeing some of the photos.

In case you’re wondering why a four-wheel drive is necessary? This gives you some idea.


Here is one of the “streets.”


This is actually one of the more organized areas; last year we did a tour and saw some places where dirt and sand roads just jutted out everywhere in a meandering maze of messiness. How in the world does Pizza Hut ever figure out where to deliver pizza?

This picture was taken further north of the house; the fence is the border between North Carolina and Virginia so you can stand on the beach with your feet in two states.


The view of the beach from the 23-bedroom house the gang stayed in.


One of the many rooms inside the house.


Of course, one has to have home theater in one’s house! Maybe our next home improvement project will be to build one of these babies in the Smith Mansion. (ha)


A certain fella (who I’m sorta attached to) is rejoicing that he’s not making the payments on said house.


I especially loved seeing all the huge decks/porches for the purpose of sittin’ and chattin’.


It’s lovely at night, too.


A couple times during the retreat, the speaker asked participants to put an arm around his or her spouse. Here is Steve, pretending I’m sitting there.


And another hugging occasion. Nice to be hugged in absentia when my hubby has to be away.


On the way home, they ran into really bad rush hour traffic. There were three vehicles! Gasp.


I hope you enjoyed the little tour. When you have a spare day or two (or three), you should come to the Outer Banks and do your own four-wheel drive exploring. It’s quite the adventure.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Recipe and Ramblings: Homemade Chunky Applesauce

I promised you a recipe and a recipe you shall have!

This one is embarrassingly easy but wonderfully delicious and goes with just about any main dish you want to serve.

Homemade Chunky Applesauce

8 medium Granny Smith apples (or other tart cooking apples)

Note: I am not real apply savvy and wouldn’t know a tart cooking apple if it bit me on the end of my nose. Therefore, I always just open the fridge and grab whatever apples happen to be currently residing there. (Because I’m an accomplished cook like that.)

2/3 C sugar (You can certainly use less; I usually use white sugar but I imagine brown would work as well.)

3/4 C apple juice (I seem to be out of apple juice whenever I decide to make this recipe so I use orange juice most of the time and it always turns out great.)

2 T margarine or butter, melted

1 t. cinnamon

1. Peel apples.

(There is no real reason I’m using a colander to put my peelings in except for the fact that all my regular big bowls were either in use or dirty.)


Eight peeled apples.


While I’m on the subject of peeling apples, may I just make a small, wee confession to you right now? I’ve been wanting to get this story off my chest for a long time and now seems to be as good a time as any.

My confession is this: The knife in this picture is a (gasp!) stolen knife.


Here’s the confession:

Several years ago, Steve went to a Subway sandwich shop to pick up some subs for our family dinner. When he got home and we unpacked the sandwiches, lo and behold, sitting right there next to the meat and the bread and numerous sandwich-y toppings was yon knife! It had been inadvertently wrapped up and sent home with the sandwich!

(Insert gasp of horror here.)

Well, of course I immediately thought that we should return the knife but the restaurant was a little ways away from our house and I didn’t feel like doing it that night. And I forgot about it the next night. And the next. And the next.

It wasn’t long before we had moved to another town while still harboring the knife--the Stolen, unStolen Knife. And to this very day, we still have that knife. And I still have haunting feelings of overwhelming guilt whenever I use the knife. However, the truth of the matter is that the knife works really well and I’m sort of attached to it.

The way I figure it? Subway probably buys these knives in mass quantities for about a dollar each. And so the next time I go to a Subway, I may just leave a couple dollars in the tip jar and call it even.

Do you think that would be okay? Are any of you planning on calling the Manteo police and having me arrested? Because if so, I would like to know ahead of time so that I could at least put on some lipstick.

Thank you.

Okay. Glad I have finally dealt with that painful subject. Where were we?

2. Cut the peeled apples into eighths with your (hopefully) unstolen knife and put them into the Crockpot. (Or a large pan.)

3. Add sugar . . .


4. And butter . . .


5. And cinnamon.


6. Then rummage around in your messy drawer and try to locate a measuring cup.


7. Put apple or orange juice into cup. You can see I didn’t measure real carefully but--oh well! ("Oh well" is my Official Cooking Slogan.) Add juice to crock pot.


8. Cover crock pot and cook on high heat setting 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until apples begin to break up. (If you’re cooking in a pan on the stove, cover the pan and turn the heat to low.)

Here are the apples at the beginning of the cooking time . . .


and at the end of the cooking time.


9. Stir well to break up larger pieces of apples. I actually use a potato masher because I want to feel like the kind of cook who can use a potato masher with panache and precision. Are you impressed? No? (sigh)


Then do what my mother always taught me which is to rinse your utensils right away so that the food will not dry and stick eternally to said utensils. It will make your life so much happier not to have to deal with eternally stuck food. Trust me on this.


And there you have it!


Now, for a little cooking secret reserved exclusively for my Smithellaneous blog friends:

If you need to serve a bigger crowd (like for Easter dinner) but you don’t feel like peeling 16 apples in order to double the recipe, do what I do. Buy a jar of chunky applesauce at the store, mix it in with the home made applesauce and call it a day. There will be plenty to go around and the home made flavor will shine through and make the whole bowl of apple-y sauce extra delicious.

And now here is the rambling-less recipe:

Homemade Chunky Applesauce

8 medium Granny Smith apples (or other tart cooking apples)

2/3 C sugar (You can use a bit less.)

3/4 C apple or orange juice

2 T margarine or butter, melted

1 t. cinnamon

Mix all ingredients in slow cooker

Cover and cook on high heat setting 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until apples begin to break up. Stir well to break up larger pieces of apples.

Serve warm or chilled. Serves about 6.

The recipe adds: “For a pretty delicate applesauce that is packed with cinnamon flavor, stir in 1/3 cup red cinnamon candies during the last 30 minutes of cooking.”


Sarah had a good day at school yesterday and even went to her girl’s group at church last night. I can tell she’s not up to full strength but she’s definitely made great improvement. Thanks for all your encouraging words to her during her down time.

The Sew Sew Edition

I can’t tell you all how much I have enjoyed reading your sewing skills stories! Some of you are incredibly gifted in this area and some of you are, well, just like me!

It was also interesting to read the range of ages represented and although it does seem to be true that most of the more accomplished sewers are fifty or over, I was encouraged to read of a resurgence of sewing interest among the younger crowd.

It’s just nice to be reminded that I’m in good company, and that I’m not the only one that hyperventilates at the thought of doing anything beyond sewing a simple hem.

Thanks so much, everyone, for chiming in and sharing your stories; I love getting the chance to get to you all and love seeing you all get to know each other!


Jojy wrote: With a caring (though a tad hirsute) nurse that Snowy is, Sarah will be back to herself in NO time! When I get feeling puny sometimes, I wish I had Nurse Snowy nearby!! Get well Sarah!

Jojy, I just have to say that I was thrilled to read a word in your comment that I didn’t know. (I love learning new words!) I immediately looked up hirsute and discovered it meant “furry.”

Thanks for expanding my brain!

Anon asked: How many days until The College Dude (TCD) will be back home?

Nathan (and his girlfriend, Meagan) are due back home next weekend and will stay for almost a week. Hurray!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Sarah and Mrs. Sew Sew.


Sarah made it to school today and since I haven’t gotten any phone calls from the school, it seems like she may actually make it through the day. She still had a tough day yesterday but by bedtime, she had gotten some of her pizzazz back. This morning, she her lips and face were very pale again, but the color came back a little after she’d been up a while. She said she felt strong enough to try and make it through the day so off she went! (Leaving a forlorn Nurse Snowy behind.)

Here she is taking her temp yesterday. (Which is why she is sitting sort of funny, waiting to take the thermometer out from under her am.)

sarah sick food

Thanks for all your kind-n-happy wishes for her in the comments section; we’re blessed that you’re part of our Smithellaneous Family!

Mrs. Sew Sew

Mrs. Sew Sew? Yep, that would be me.

Because the longer I live the more I discover that my sewing skills are rather, um, sew sew.

To illustrate, here is my Facebook post from yesterday:

I just sewed a button on Steve's pajama's and another button on my pants and I am exhausted. Sewing is so not my gig. My limit is two buttons a year so I guess I'm done for 2011! (Just don't tell Steve.)

After I wrote that entry and read some of the responses, I got to thinking about the whole sewing/mending deal and wondering how many people even do that sort of stuff any more.

Would I be correct in thinking that women over fifty are more prone to mend things and even (wonder of wonders) sew stuff from scratch then the under fifty crowd?

And since my brain has been mulling over this for a few hours now, I thought I’d ask you all to jump in with your studied and inimitable opinions.

First of all, rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 concerning your level of sewing skill. A one means that you run screaming the other direction at the very thought of picking up a needle; a ten means that you are capable of sewing and/or mending just about anything.

You can even back up your number with an example or two which would be quite informative and entertaining for the rest of us.

And then (if you don’t mind), let us know what decade you’re in—30’s, 40’s, 50’s, etc. I have a sneaking suspicion that this particular skill may be disappearing a little more with each generation and it’s really sort of sad because mending something is a pretty cool thing to do if you actually know how to do it.

Which I don’t.

I can (sort of) sew on buttons and (sort of) hem a pair of pants. And that’s why I would rate my skills as sorta “sew sew.”

So I’ll go first and say that I’m about a 3 on the Sewing Scale. And I’m in my 40’s.

Your turn!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sick Girl. Worried Mom. Devoted Dog.

When Sarah and I walked into the doctor’s office yesterday, I had the kind of niggling concern in the back of my mind that every cancer mom deals with when her child gets sick.

One of Sarah's main symptoms when she was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma was extreme paleness and, the past few mornings, Sarah’s face and lips have been so white it looked as though she could pass out on the spot. Also, she’d had that strange, out-of-the-blue fever last Thursday night which never came back; in fact, instead of going high again, her temp dropped to 94.6 yesterday. (Another symptom at diagnosis was fevers that would come and go.)

So that worried me, too. However, I wanted to be able to express my cancer mom concerns to the doctor without getting into a big long discussion that might worry Sarah.

After he had finished examining her he said, “The paleness and the odd temperature variations do concern me. Does she have any other medical problems?”

I replied, “Well, she is a cancer survivor.” And then I tried to think of how to express my worry without alerting Sarah. I finally added in a casual tone, “One of her original symptoms at diagnosis was extreme paleness.”

That’s all I said.

But thankfully, this doctor's years of wisdom and experience had given him the gift of a sixth sense for moms trying to keep certain information from younger ears. He caught my eye, nodded, and let me know immediately he understood what I was saying.

Then he stood and said nonchalantly, “Let me just go check on something.”

Two minutes later his nurse appeared in the doorway with her blood drawing equipment. Since a blood draw isn’t usually part of a child’s cold/flu check up, I was reassured that the doctor had read my S.O.S. loud and clear.

A few minutes later, he returned and said the preliminary blood work was back and everything looked good. He said that the white blood count and the neutrophil count wouldn’t be back until the next day and then added, “If the neutrophil count is off, well, then we’ll start looking in a different direction.”

Which was diplomatic doctor-speak for, “At that point, cancer would definitely be on our radar.”

Throughout the entire conversation, Sarah (who is usually very tuned in to doctor-speak) never had a clue as to what we were talking about and so thankfully, her little heart was spared any needless worries.

The doctor said he thought her main issue right now is a Type B flu which is not as severe as Type A but can still produce odd symptoms, like the body being unable to regulate its temperature.

Sarah did a little better throughout the evening but then last night she had a bad reaction to some medication. Her heart was racing, she was anxious and emotional, she hallucinated, she was shaky and her body temp dropped way low again.

I called the doctor as soon as his office opened and the first thing he told me was that the rest of her blood work had come back and everything was perfectly and wonderfully normal. (Big sigh of relief.)

As for the other symptoms (it was a 24-hour medication she reacted to) he said she would just have to wait it out; as long as her heart rate didn’t get over 130 (the highest it went was 120) she wouldn’t need to be brought back in.

And so let me just sum up this whole medical missive by saying that Snowy has had a busy morning nursing his girl . . .


. . . and praying for her, too.


There is no Giver of Comfort any better than our resident canine nurse.


And today he’ll have his work cut out for him.


But he’s good with that.

Monday, February 21, 2011

An Even Dozen

Picture #1

Does this look child look sick to you?


She was actually several shades paler than this when she first got up this morning. (Her temp was 94.6 when she woke up which was pretty strange.) I took this picture after she’d had a few bites of an orange to get her blood sugar up.

She felt a little better after she’d eaten some oatmeal and since she’d been fever-free since Thursday night, she decided to try and go to school It only took about an hour for her to call home and ask to be picked back up. Yesterday morning, she also tried to go to church and only lasted a short while. We’re headed to the doctor in a few minutes to see what he has to say about our ailing Princess Groovy Chick.

Picture #2

A shot that Steve took on his (wife-less) marriage retreat last weekend. IMG_3072

Although I am sad that I missed the retreat itself, I am especially sorry to have missed out on all the photo ops. Steve said that porpoises swam and played just off the shoreline, a full moon rose over the ocean, the setting sun painted some beautiful pictures and several wild mustangs which roam in the area (and are usually a bit hard to spot) came right up to the house, then ran over the dunes and into the ocean.

My little photographer’s heart broke right in two when I heard about all that! (In the next day or two, I’ll post a few other pictures that he and another person took.)

The house our group stayed in was right in the same area where John Travolta and Dave Matthews have houses; also, an episode of Jon and Kate Plus Eight was filmed right there. So that’s pretty cool!

Pictures 3, 4 and 5

Changing gears a little, here are a few pictures that give some hints about a recipe I’ll be posting soon. It involves:

  • apples
  • a messy drawer
  • a stolen knife

    You won’t want to miss it.

_DSC0011 _DSC0019


Picture 6

I did manage to rise from my sick bed on Saturday night long enough to host our marriage retreat speakers for a meal. I just love me some entertaining!


Pictures 7 and 8

The bathroom project continues. We had to get all the junk cleared out of the way so that the guy could get in there today and start ripping out the (old, nasty) linoleum and start laying tile. (We found a Home Depot that was going out of business and were able to get all the tile for a wonderful discount. Hooray!)



Pictures 9, 10, and 11

A few views of what a Carolina blue sky looks like when seen through a basketball hoop . . .



. . . and through some trees.


Picture 12

Sarah, back when she was feeling a lot better than she is now. (Holding a certain Mr.You Know Who.)


And there you have it. An even dozen!