Simple Living

Information, recipes and resources for health and home, body and spirit.


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Spread the Word, Lend a Hand

** Update**  Christion Isaac-Alexander Shaw  6/20/09 – 12/18/14   Please consider helping with this fundraiser to help with the arrangements and passing on this story of Christion and his life.  Thank you – Maggie **

 

Sorry that I haven’t posted in a while.  I have been experiencing many life changes, most positive… a new relationship, new additions to the family with more on the way, a little travelling with a whole lot of visiting, etc.

Today’s post unfortunately is not so upbeat.

Today we’re stepping up to a window into the life of an incredible single mother and her two sons… a one seven-week old named Cameron and the other a five-year old named Christion who has muscular dystrophy.

 

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This is my friend KaShonda and her boys.  Christion is 5 years old and has Nemaline myopathy Muscular Dystrophy.  He’s a great kid.  He laughs and plays and watches TV… loves Handy Manny and was completely enamored with being able to watch PBS Kids on my iPad and snuggling with me while Mom and I got to spend time together.  In many ways Christion is just like any other 5-year-old.

 

 

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Then there’s all the special extras that do not surround a typical 5-year-old… oxygen, suction to clear his lungs, a belt that provides air pressure that simulates pounding on his back to loosen the mucus in his lungs, wheelchairs, monitors, pulse oximeters, etc.

While as a country we’re trying to get kids away from the happy meals, Christion has never had one and probably never will.  Christion doesn’t eat, he has a feeding tube directly into his stomach with nutrition that comes in a pouch.

 

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Christion doesn’t have babysitters or daycare, but has home nurses.  In fact KaShonda even went to nursing school just so she could not only be better prepared to take care of her son but so that she would be able to work at home with him.  It doesn’t get anymore incredible than that, truly a devoted mother.

Sadly just a few short weeks ago, Christion’s health once again took a down turn when he developed pneumonia and wound up in the ICU.  Finally improving enough to be moved out of ICU, you can see that spirits were high.

 

Tickle time!

Tickle time!

 

Later this very same day, November 28th, Christion coded.  Medical personnel worked on him extensively to revive him but he was down for 12-13 minutes.    This is Christion right now…

 

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Heartbreaking is the only word that applies and yet that word doesn’t go deep enough.  He is 5 years old and should be writing letters to Santa, not hooked to monitors unresponsive.  His Mom should be trying to sneak in presents to surprise him with, not crying bedside in a hospital room, praying for her son.

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Then there’s Cameron.  For those who would say that thank God the 7 week-old is “normal”, they are incorrect.  While Cameron is quite healthy he is in no way normal.

Seven week-old babies should be in their mothers arms, not bounced around to relatives so his mom can keep her vigil at Children’s Hospital.  Cameron should have a big brother that can teach him to throw a football, intimidate kids who try to bully him, teach him how to date, how to drive and be his best friend.

UPDATE:   While the CT scan and EEG’s looked promising, an MRI has shown that Christion has suffered massive trauma on his whole brain and the prognosis is not positive and family is preparing for the inevitable.   Prayers are still needed for this family, for strength and courage to help them along their difficult journey.  Any donations would help considerably.  Please consider sharing this post or the fundraiser page to help.

Donations for Christion

Donations for research can be made to:

Muscular Dystrophy Association
National Office
222 S. Riverside Plaza, Suite 1500
Chicago, Illinois 60606
888-HELP-MDA
(888-435-7632)

 

If your children are healthy, give thanks.  Not just once, but every day.  Life is fragile and it can be short.  Please take the time if you can to help a friend or neighbor who may need that extra hand.  Consider donating to research to continue the fight for a cure for this and other diseases and disabilities that hurt children and torment parents.  Even a few dollars a month can do a lot of good.

Have a safe, happy and healthy with your family and please join me in #PrayersforChristion.  Please share this story and allow his story to open hearts and maybe a wallet or two.  We can’t have too many people praying for him or sending positive energy their way.
{{{hugs}}}

Maggie


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Boycott Thanksgiving Greed

Uncle George

 

I have been a member of the workforce since 1982.  I have worked in retail, restaurants, hotels, gas stations and even a recycling plant.  I’ve even a ran small retail business.

I never had a problem working the holidays when I worked in restaurants and hotels.  Not only was I happy to make holiday pay (not that it’s that big of a difference when you’re a restaurant server) but it’s nice to be able to spend the holiday with people who don’t have anyone else to spend the holiday with.

Police, fire & medical personnel all have to work.  They get no holidays.   They and their families make sacrifices only to be rivaled by military and their families.  But retail, that’s another story.  The fact that we can’t have one 24 hour period of thanks before the onslaught of greed and corporate profits is insane in my opinion.  It also looks like I’m not alone in that opinion.

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I understand that “Black Friday” stimulates the economy.  We’re not talking about Friday though, we’re talking about Thursday which is Thanksgiving;  a national holiday of thanks, reflection, (over-eating) and family.   I understand that we’ve all had to tighten our belts, believe me; I’m looking at the most frugal holiday I’ve had in almost 25 years.

There are plenty of online sales if you truly want to shop on Thursday (which will fill the order on Friday) without having to line up with hundreds of other shoppers at retail locations only for them to have 5 items at the advertised price.  In addition, everyone will have their doors open bright and early on Friday.

Not to mention the behavior of shoppers rivaling those of the annual bridal dress sale at  Filene’s Closet.  If you’re unfamiliar, look it up.  Women will work in teams and brawl like hockey players over these dresses!

Now to be fair, my Mom was one of the ones who would pour over the ads, plan her route by what she wanted to buy vs the door gifts for early bird shoppers.  I remember waiting outside of a retail store at 5am with coffee in hand waiting for doors to open.  For the record, the only reason I agreed to go was because at the time I worked third shift and it was still within the scope of my “normal hours”.

I’m not opposed to sales, making a profit or getting a great deal.  I just think that we should observe one 24 hour period of thanks before the onslaught of greed, materialism and consumerism takes place.

If you feel similar, please consider sharing this message.  In addition, someone started a page on Facebook called Keep Black Friday Out of Thanksgiving, please consider visiting their page and showing your support.

Please don’t serve your turkey for breakfast just so you can get in line to support this madness.

{{Hugs}}

Maggie


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The One That Affects Us All

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Today I am immensely saddened by the loss of an amazing man – Robin Williams.  Not only a man of immeasurable talent but immeasurable heart as well.  As a co-founder of Comic Relief, he, Whoopi Goldberg and Billy Crystal brought the topic of homelessness into everyone’s consciousness as well as their living rooms.  He was a donor and spokesman for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and spent countless hours with American troops.

Robin Williams crossed many lines in his comedy and his acting, the biggest one to me was the line making stars untouchable.  Robin was the first celebrity that you could picture being at the parent-teacher conferences, at the grocery store or even in your home.  He was the guy that no matter if you agreed with his politics, you would love the opportunity to sit down and have a beer or a cup of coffee with him and just talk.  He was an anybody and an everybody and everything in between.

He not only appealed to our children but to the children in all of  us, letting us know it was okay to just have fun every once in a while. His movies made me cry like no other… The Fisher King was the first one to really put its hooks into me and not let go.  While I’ve been a fan of his ever since his walk on role on Happy Days and his subsequent spin-off of Mork & Mindy making him a household name, The Fisher King was the one that showed me not only the depth of his acting but forced me to see the depth of my own feelings as well.

I don’t think that there’s a single person who watched Dead Poet’s Society who didn’t wish they’d had a teacher like his Mr. Keating or reminded us of our own Mr. Keating.  More importantly he inspired us to be Mr Keating.  That’s really what it’s about isn’t it.  Touching someone with your passion?  That’s what he did, both as himself and as the many characters he portrayed on-screen.

Unfortunately, depression does not discriminate.  It doesn’t matter race, creed, color, age, size of your bank account or the number of accolades on your shelf.  It leaves you alone and in pain.  For those of us who have wrestled those demons, we know what he was going through.. yet something else that he has managed to share with us as well.  Like I said, he was an anybody and an everybody… and anybody can suffer depression and everyone knows someone who has… whether they realize it or not.

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So please, if you’re struggling with depression.. tell people.  Let them know.  Don’t worry that they’ll judge you, what matters is that they know you deal with this horrible burden and that you might need help.  We all need help in that wrestling match and its okay to seek help.  Remember, if you’ve made it this far you’ve got a 100% success rate in battling depression.

To Robin Williams’ family, I wish to offer you my sincerest condolences.  Your loss and pain is the greatest of all.  Suicide not only leaves a trail of grief, but a trail of guilt in its wake as well.   Please know that there was nothing that you could have done.  This was a battle that only he could fight and unfortunately he lost to a formidable foe.  I hope he has found the peace he was so desperately needing and I hope you find it as well.

{{{hugs}}}
Maggie

 

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills,
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
The arm beneath your head!
It is some dream that on the deck,
You’ve fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;
Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
But I with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.


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BBQ Shrimp and Mango Salad

BBQ Shrimp n Mango salad

This was so simple, it literally took a total of 15 minutes including the prep.  It doesn’t get any easier.  So delicious and you can add or incorporate anything your imagination allows.  You’ll find that I’m a cook that doesn’t follow a lot of recipes, I follow flavors and ideas so even as I write this to share with you, I’m thinking of what I can do next time (add bacon).

 

This was a perfect summer dinner for 2 but is easily multiplied for guests.  It doesn’t heat the house, not heavy but yet very satisfying.

 

Perfect for that night when you really don’t want to cook because it is put together in the same or less time than a frozen pizza or {gasp} hot dogs and a box of mac & cheese and is so much healthier!

 

This would also be a great dinner for company because you’re not spending time in the kitchen while everyone else gets to hang out with a glass of wine.

BBQ Shrimp Salad Ingredients

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp bacon fat or extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 – 12 oz bag of large shrimp, uncooked, with shells and tails off

  • Fresh spinach

  • 1 ripe mango, diced

  • 1 ripe avocado, diced

  • 1/2 red onion, sliced thin

  • 2 oz barbecue sauce, homemade or your favorite bottle**

  • 3-4 oz water, chicken stock or white wine

** This recipe will be gluten free if you need it to be just by watching your BBQ sauce label or making your own.

Shrimp saute

Over medium high heat in a non-stick saute pan, add the bacon fat.  Once it’s hot, add the shrimp.

Toss or stir with a wood spoon to keep from sticking and to cook evenly.

Salad prep

Plate your spinach and as you prep the onion, avocado and mango put them on top of the spinach.

Shrimp add BBQ

Add your BBQ sauce and toss to coat

Shrimp in BBQ

Add your liquid and let it cook for another 2 minutes to cook out any liquor and reduce slightly.  It will be nice and thick.  Divide the shrimp between the two plates, making sure to use a spatula to get every last drop of that sauce out of the pan and drizzle over the shrimp.

Serve and enjoy!  And you thought I was joking when I said this was easy!

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.  Tell me what you think!

Maggie


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Make Ahead French Toast Casserole

 

I absolutely love French toast, but it’s not practical when cooking for one or for a crowd. Here’s the tasty solution you’ve been looking for!

 

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The “technical” term for this dish is a strata, so if you decide to surf for more recipes that’s the term you want to look for.  There are as many variations as your imagination can come up with.

There are a few things I really love about this dish.  One is that it’s easy to put together.  The other is that it can be made ahead.  Perfect for gatherings with sleep over guests or holiday breakfasts because you can make it the day before and stick it in the fridge, then just put it in the oven when you wake up.  

This is also great for “breakfast for dinner” item since you can just make it ahead and pop it in the oven when you get home from work.  By the time you’re settled in and caught up, dinner is ready!

The other bonus is cooking for one.  Remember that you don’t have to live alone to want to cook in single portions.  This makes for a great traveling breakfast to eat at the office, for the kids to fix themselves when you want to sleep in, etc.

For the strata that you’re seeing here, I used:

  • 1 lb breakfast sausage, cooked & crumbled (mild, spicy, maple – your choice)
  • 1 medium apple, diced
  • 1 handful of dried cranberries
  • 6 seedless, crusty rolls, cubed (these were the size of kaiser rolls)
  • 1 dozen eggs
  • 1-1/2 c milk
  • 1-1/2 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c brown sugar
  • 1-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
  • Cinnamon sugar to sprinkle on top

 

 

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What you’re seeing is a one pound roll of breakfast sausage that I cooked up, then tossed in diced apples and craisins.  Blueberries are a wonderful addition as well.  Again, the sky’s the limit!

 

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I got a beautiful bag of crusty rolls that were marked down (frugal!)  French toast is always better with sturdier breads or stale bread. When I made this for Thanksgiving breakfast I found a couple of beautiful sourdough loaves that were just wonderful.  

I love this dish for holidays.  You do so much cooking on the holiday that it’s not a good day to skip breakfast but you don’t want to cook anymore than you have to.  I made this the night before, covered it with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge.  When we got up that morning, I put it in the oven and started my prep.  By the time breakfast was ready, it was time for a break anyway!

 

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If you’ve never had fresh ground nutmeg, you’re truly missing a treat.  What you’re seeing is a whole nutmeg.  They last pretty much forever and only don’t lose potency when they’re kept whole.  What you buy pre-ground at the store, isn’t nearly as flavorful or aromatic as fresh.  If you’re interested in getting one, Amazon has got a great selection to choose from.

 

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After I cubed the bread, I tossed it in with the sausage/fruit mixture.  In the blender I put the eggs, milk and everything else.  You’ll want to have soapy water in the sink to wash your hands when you’re done, truly the best way to mix this is with two hands so you can toss it well without mashing the bread.

You’ll want to mix/toss this a couple of times while letting it rest a few minutes in between so that the egg mixture can be completely absorbed by the bread.

 

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I used a 13×9″ glass baking pan and sprayed it with non-stick cooking spray before putting the mixture into the pan.  Then I gave it a quick spritz over the top and gave it a light sprinkle of cinnamon sugar before baking it at 350°F for an hour.

 

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Once it was completely cooled, I cut it into 12 pieces and put them in the freezer on a cookie sheet so that they weren’t touching.  Once they were firm and I knew they wouldn’t stick together, I put them all in a Ziploc bag and back in the freezer.   When I want a piece for breakfast, I take one out and put it in the microwave for a few minutes.

Everyone’s microwave is different, so play around with the times to see what works best in yours.  When you figure it out, write it on the bag.  If you find you’re getting hard spots when you reheat it, you can prevent that by putting a cup of water in the microwave along with the slice of casserole that you’re reheating.

As I said, your only limit is your imagination.  The only “rule” for a strata is the egg/milk mixture, the bread and how it’s baked.  You can make it sweet or savory.  Consider things like ham, swiss and spinach or bacon, turkey, broccoli and cheddar cheese.

Remember that you can make this as frugal as you want also!  This is a great use for leftover veggies or fruits, leftover meats, etc. along with bread store and mark down rack finds!

And don’t forget, it takes virtually the same time to make two as it does one.  So make two and have one for dinner and portion the other one for easy meals on the go!

I’d love to hear what you think of this recipe when you try it and let me know what variations you come up with so please post a comment!
{{{hugs}}}

Maggie


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Thanks for Reading

Grr Arg

 

I have reached my one year anniversary as a blogger and it’s been a really great year.  I’ve moved out-of-state to my new home at Creekside manner and I’ve loved the friends I’ve made both in person and online.

For those of you who haven’t been following me long, my health issues have been getting worse and so I’m having to pick and choose what and where I spend my energy.  This blog posts to my domain, Tumblr, Google+, Facebook and Twitter and I have additional posts going out through the day on Facebook and Twitter.

While my blog is my voice, it has not turned into a financial resource that I’d hoped it would become.  I will continue to write and post occasionally but I will be cutting my Facebook and Twitter feeds down to new posts only.  It is my hope that I can then work on other projects and to supplement the dwindling income from my “day job” due to my waning health.  I aspire to eventually be able to publish a book, as well as a cookbook, sell a few articles and possibly a few paintings and will chronicle it here as I go along.

I thank you all for your support and staying with me.  I look forward to sharing future posts and reading your comments as time goes on, and as always…

 

{{{hugs}}}

 

Maggie

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