Laughing When We Can

Technology these days is amazing.  Mayo Clinic has an app – so I downloaded it on my phone a few weeks ago.  It has campus maps and stuff like that, but the most amazing thing is that I have access to all of Tony’s medication information basically as soon as it is available.  Lab results, doctors notes – it’s as if I have an electronic file of Tony’s whole medical file since he’s been here.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen or read anything from my medical file!

One of the cardiologists is big and boisterous.   He actually reminds me a lot of my Uncle Dave.   Anyway, Tuesday night he stopped by to introduce himself.  He discussed that the main goal was to get all the fluid off so that we can get his heart biopsy today.  Yesterday I was able to log onto the app and read his notes.  So I am reading the last paragraph out loud to Tony and the doctor ended the notes with “discussed the plan of action with patient and his daughter.”  The doctor thought I was Tony’s daughter, not his wife!  That made us laugh so hard!  (and for the record, I am only 7 1/2 years younger than Tony).

So yesterday morning this doctor came in and took one look at Tony and said “why didn’t you tell me you were a mess?”  Somehow overnight Tony’s blood count dropped substantially – they had to give him an emergency blood transfusion and as of last night, he’s gotten 4 units.  His kidneys also weren’t functioning, so they have to figure out why he’s losing blood and that’s there focus now.  He’s nowhere near getting his heart biopsy done, and my guess is that it won’t be until sometime next week.

Luckily his kidney ultrasound didn’t show any signs of constriction or anything, so they need to concentrate on his blood right now and figure out what’s causing what.  We both were thinking that if we had waited until yesterday to come here, it really night have been too late to save him!

So I confessed on Instagram that I may have had more than one share of cheese spread and crackers the night before last.  I am an emotional eater and I am by myself.  Trouble with a Capital T.  So I decided to bring all my food with me yesterday.  Down the hall from Tony’s room is a family waiting room.  It has a full fridge. microwave, etc.

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They had a package with stickers and a Sharpie, and I labeled my food and dated it.

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On the drive to St. Mary’s I had a piece of my granola and some cheese.  I wasn’t very hungry!

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When Tony got back from his ultrasound, I heated up my leftover chicken stir fry.

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I brought a serving of my Cincinnati Chili for dinner, but wasn’t really feeling it.  Blog reader Joanne (Hi Joanne!) who has been to Mayo and St. Mary’s for medical issues suggested a café that was right across the street from St. Mary’s.  I really needed to get some fresh air, so while Tony waited for his hospital food, I walked across the street.

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While I saw the fried cheese curds on the menu:

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I ordered a pork souvlaki pita with tzatziki sauce on the side and a lime chili cole slaw instead of fries.’

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I liked that the dressing was on the side, but it was chopped up bok choy and cabbage and didn’t have a ton of flavor.  The pita was pretty good though.  And you can’t beat the price of $5.25.

While Tony naps I’ve found myself downloading stupid apps – check this one out – it’s called Face Juggler!  It looks like I am smoking Tony’s cigar!  Hahahaha!

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Thanks again for all your comments to yesterday’s post.  I feel much better today and will pull on my positive pants before leaving the hotel this morning.  Your kind words, emails, etc. are what are keeping me going.  THANK YOU!

Now one more time, don’t forget to vote or my Pan Seared Pork Chop Recipe Contest Dish!  I wish there was a way to see who was in the lead, but I guess we’ll just have to wait.  Thank you for voting!

Off to shower and head to St. Mary’s – hopefully Tony got some sleep last night.  Make it a great day!

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A Room With A View

I got up an hour before Tony yesterday morning.  Posting my blog, finishing packing the car.  By the time I needed to wake Tony up, the only thing I had left to put the car was basically Tony!

But it was with a mixed heart I had to wake him.  Sound sleep eludes him most days.  He cat naps at best.  Most nights he spends flipping the channels with the sound off in our bedroom, hoping that anything will finally lull him to sleep.  He looked so peaceful that I felt bad that I had to wake him up, but we were on a time schedule – we had to meet his cardiologist in between patients at 2:00 p.m.

We got on the road by 8:30.  I ended up bringing one of my Nature Valley granola bars with me.  I ate half around 8:45, then the other half around 10:00.  At 11:30 I saw a rest stop and saw that the next one wasn’t going to be for 57 miles, so I said “I’ll stop if you don’t mind.”  Tony said “why do you have to stop already, we just left the house 3 hours ago?!”  I didn’t argue, just peed really fast and got back to the car.

I made a sandwich for lunch and thought since we were stopped, I would grab that sammie which was in the cooler in the back of the car, and grab my insulin and put it next to me when I needed to eat.  I brought the two separately packed half sandwiches and set them next to me, and Tony looked down and said “you already ate two granola bars, are you going to eat again?!”

I threw the sandwiches to the back of the car and said “I guess not!” and got back on the highway.  He knows I only get mad when my blood sugar is low, but I was mad about the comment.  WTF?!  Are you calling me fat?  He reached back and handed me a sandwich and said to eat it.  It wasn’t until then that I could detect the sense of urgency in his voice that he just wanted to get to the hospital.  I was so close to just go off and yell “do you think these last three weeks have been easy for me?!”  but I slowed my roll, we both apologized for being on edge and we finished the road trip.

I have to be an asshole to think that a stupid off the cuff comment like that set me off – but in all reality – it’s really hard being the strong one.  And since basically 2007 when Tony first got sick, I’ve pretty much had to be the strong one.  While Tony worries, I am the one who tells him that everything is going to be okay.  But that’s easy coming from me – I am not the sick one, and Tony is the one who’s had to go through all these awful health problems. 

But here’s the other part of shit that I just have to realize.  This is our life now.  My vacation days are not being spent being on a lake fishing with Tony, they are being spent in a hospital, and I just have to stop pining over other peoples Facebook vacation pictures:  boat rides, bonfires, family reunions, farmers markets.  And I need to just focus on the positives that Tony is in the right place at the right time.

When we met the cardiologist last week, Tony had just come out of sedation, and would periodically start to fall asleep while the doctor was talking to us.  I actually thought ahead and downloaded an app that was a tape recorder, and recorded the whole conversation.  I told Tony that I had that when we got home if he wanted to listen to it, but he said it was okay.

So fast forward to yesterday – the doctor took one look at Tony, realized he was retaining too much fluid and wanted to admit him in preparation for his heart biopsy on Thursday.  He picked up the phone to call the St. Mary’s admit desk and starts to speak “I have a 53 year old male in severe heart failure. . . “  I could see by the look on Tony’s face that he was shocked by that.  I knew it.  I offered that information to him and he declined.  But I think if nothing else, he knew coming here was the right thing to do.

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I have to say – the process from admitting him all the way through meeting with the heart doctors and starting the IVs was two hours.  TWO HOURS!  That’s amazing.  Joanne (blog reader) you were right that the care here is amazeballs!  And as is the case, I am the sleep whisperer!  And I think his growing in mustache and beard are sexy – salt and pepper hair and all. Open-mouthed smile

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Once his diet was approved that he could eat, he ordered his dinner.  I went down to the hospital cafeteria.  There were quite a few people in there, and I have to say, most of the food looked like ass, so I ended up sticking with something that usually is okay – the salad bar.  This salad cost $3.07.

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Tony?  He ordered a plain hamburger, red Jell-O and iced tea.  That’s all he wanted.

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When we were getting admitted, the person asked if Tony wanted a private room.  She stated that a private room would be an out of pocket expense of $75 a night.  Done.  We have been in shared rooms too many times over the years, from roommates who have their t.v. volume on so high you can’t hear you own t.v., they don’t knew where they are and yell “help!” every few minutes.  Roommates that have coughing fits.  So worth it.  More importantly Tony is worth it!  Just to know that he can be peaceful in a room by himself is all I wanted for him.

And, his room has a gorgeous view!

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I finally left around 8 p.m. to go back to the hotel I reserved.   I had to park about 3 blocks from the hospital and I find it interesting that after regular hours, they have an “honor parking” where you take an envelope and put in what you think you owe and leave it in another bin.  Parking is cheap – $2 for the first hour and $1 for each hour after that – I wrapped my parking ticket with a $5 and put it in the bin.

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I have to admit, it was weird to be here all by myself.   I ended up falling asleep with the t.v. on because Tony does that at home and it was comforting.  I fell asleep before 11:00 p.m. and just woke up at 8 – nice!

I am off to shower, get some breakfast and head back to St. Mary’s.  Not sure what the day will be like, but you all know I love the emails, comments, etc. about Tony – it’s appreciated more than you know!

And one more shout out to Vote for My Recipe.  If you click on this link, it will take you right to the page to vote – thanks for voting!   My Mom made my recipe last night and texted me “best pork dish ever.  Restaurant worthy!”  Thanks Momma – and I know you are saying that not only because it was delicious, but because I am your favorite, right?!

Make it a great day!

Off to Mayo and Don’t Forget to Vote!

Thanks to everyone who voted for my Extended Stay America recipe contest!  You can vote once a day, as many emails as you have until August 22.  THANK YOU!

Click here to enter today.

This post is going to be short and sweet – you know, just like me!  Tony isn’t feeling well, obviously, but worse than last week.  We called the doctor at Mayo and he thought it would be a good idea that we come in tomorrow and access the situation before his heart biopsy on Thursday, and we couldn’t agree more.  It would have sucked if we got up there on Thursday only to find out that he’s retaining to much fluid to do the procedure.

So third trip to Mayo in as many weeks.  We are getting the lay of the land in Rochester – and hopefully by now I won’t whiz by the exits I am supposed to get off of!

I skipping right past breakfast and lunch because it was BORING.  Egg white spinach omelet with cherries for breakfast and Michael Symon’s Cincinnati chili for lunch.

Dinner however, was all Biz.  Tony’s been eating bananas, rice and crackers.  When I found out he only wanted rice for dinner, my mind went right to spicy chicken stir fry.  One of my Instagram friends Larry put up a picture of firecracker chicken and mentioned to me that I would have loved it.  I am all about flavorful spicy!

But when I went to Pinterest and found out that you had to toss the chicken with the sweet and spicy mixture, then bake it for 45 minutes, I quickly went to Plan B.

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That’s enough for 2 servings.  I’ll be taking one serving to Extended Stay with me.  Divide mixture and top each one with 1 tablespoon of the crushed peanuts.

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FYI – that picture was taken with my iPhone 4 – I used VSCOcam app to take the picture, and HDR FX Pro to correct the white balance.  Not too bad if I do say so myself!

So I packed our luggage last night, just have to throw food in a bag for me.  Luckily I made another batch of Nature Valley granola bars so I’ll have one of those with water for breakfast.  I am sure Tony is thrilled that I’ll be driving again too – but hopefully he’ll be able to sleep on the way up.

Thanks again for you continued hugs, prayers, voting (Momma’s gonna have some medical bills!) so I can make it to the final round.  You guys are the best and I feel your hugs every day!

Make it a great day!

Let the Voting Begin!

Today is the first day that you can vote for my Pan Seared Pork Chops with Apple and Spinach, with honey mustard sauce and Rosemary Potatoes!  Whew, that’s a mouthful isn’t it?  But, it’s a recipe that needs so few kitchen items, that it can be cooked at an Extended Stay America hotel, which is where we stay when Tony goes to the Mayo Clinic.  One knife, a cutting board, a skillet, a pot, a strainer and a fork.  That’s it!

Click here to get to the voting page.  (although as of 7 am this morning, I cannot click on the voting gallery – anyone able to actually see the gallery, or is it just me?!)_

The voting runs through August 22.   You can vote once a day per email – if you have different email addresses, you can use as many as you have .  I don’t know about you, but I have five email addresses!  Thanks and wish me luck!  The top two who get the most votes automatically make the trip to New York!

So this weekend was low key.  Tony isn’t feeling that great, and we are just waiting until our next trip to Mayo later this week.  So while he dozed on and off, I finally got around to making breakfast around 10:30.  I kind of like eating later on the weekends, because I almost never am hungry for lunch – so it’s only two meals a day.  I had a taste for a breakfast sandwich, but I didn’t have any English muffins.  But I did have Turano Italian bread!   I am not sure if people outside of Chicagoland can buy this bread, but it’s so good.  One slice is plenty to make a sandwich, just cut in half and you are good to go.

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With a cup of hot coffee on the side, this was a perfect weekend breakfast.   I had my cleaning pants on most of Saturday, and then in the afternoon I had a pedicure!  Since my toe incident, I’ve been afraid to cut my nails so I don’t get another in grown toe nail.  I don’t know why I procrastinated as long as I did – it was a 45 minute pedicure for only $20!   The place was super clean, the woman was nice (we talked about Pinterest!) and I think I’ll go back every month.

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Tony and I watched a bunch of MMA fights Saturday night.  I figure for the amount of food shit he watches with me, it is only fair that I reciprocate.

Yesterday it was all about yard work.  I have to be truthful – I don’t do that much.  I don’t have a green thumb and while I enjoy looking at gorgeous flowers grown by Lori and Louise, typically the only thing I can grow are weeds! We have a flower box per se in the front of our house – it’s old rail road ties that make a box around our two giant pine trees.   These weeds were taller than me!

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It took me 1.5 hours, but I finally cleaned it all out.  I think by our township I saw free mulch, so I am going to check that out – and then I’ll do an “after” photo.   I did see lots of big worms, and then got spooked by this toad – he jumped nearly two inches from my toe, but then hunkered back down in the dirt – can you see him?

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Then there was the giant 40 foot tree in my back yard that we need to contend with.  I don’t know if you’ve ever needed a tree cut down, but it’s expensive!  So I figured I’d tackle the tree a little bit at a time, and then have someone come in and remove the stump and the scraps that I have already cut off.  Here is the top of the tree before.

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And after 30 minutes, it looked like this.  Um, using a saw is hard work people!

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Tony had a great idea – use an old blanket to haul all the scraps into the woods – worked perfectly!

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Then I ran a few errands, did some grocery shopping, finished up the laundry, and decided that this would be my reward. Target sells it for $7.99 a bottle, and while Kim Crawford is my favorite Sauvignon Blanc, at twice the price, that wasn’t in the budget, but if you love grapefruit notes in wine, this one fits the bill.

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So thanks for voting for me if you can – tell your family, friends and neighbors!   Hope you all had a great weekend.  Make it a great day!

Michael Symon’s Cincinnati Chili

Another busy day at work.  I hit the ground running and finally around 9:30 I heated up some breakfast tacos and ate them at my desk.

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I had plans with my Mom and Hannah to meet for lunch.  My Mom got there right on time at noon, and I finished up a couple letters while we waited for Hannah.  A few minutes later I see Hannah is calling me, and I think she’s just calling me to let her in the front door.  Nope.  She just woke up!  Ah, to be 22 again and sleep until noon!  So my Mom and I just went ahead without her.

We chose to go to the Lucky Monk for lunch, since it’s right by my office.   The place was busy, and we had ideas of sitting on their outdoor patio, but it was way too windy.  So we sat, both decided on the mini tacos – mine were braised short ribs with cilantro and pickled radishes.  Mom’s were lightly battered fish tacos with pickled red cabbage and tomato and onion.  LOTS of onion.  Ew.  We were so engrossed in catching up after my Mom’s 3 week of traveling, that I realized it had been a long time since we ordered.  When we finally got our food it was 40 minutes later.  Luckily I worked through lunch the day before, but just talking out loud here – most people just have an hour for lunch.

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These pictures don’t do these tacos justice – super flavorful and my Mom who is an aficionado of fish tacos, declared these some of the best she’s had.  So service aside, I’d go back there just for the food.  Thanks for meeting up with me Momma!

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And later in the afternoon, Hannah and her boyfriend stopped by and brought me a skinny vanilla latte – thanks! Open-mouthed smile

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So our Midwest summer has been crazy cool.  Like low 50s overnight and low 70s during the day.  I absolutely love it, but find myself craving fall comfort foods.  It must have been a rerun, but last week I saw Michael Symon on The Chew make his version of Cincinnati chili.  Well, I’ve made my share of Cincinnati Chili recipes.  Here, here and here.  What intrigued me about the chili was his choice of spices (cinnamon, allspice, cumin, etc.) and using FOUR cups of tomato juice.

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I didn’t have chili mac like I normally do – just added kidney beans, shredded cheese and jalapenos.  I may have dipped a few tortilla chips in the chili for dipping too.

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I loved this chili.  The flavors were so complex.  I normally don’t add allspice to dishes but it totally worked in this with the combination of the cocoa powder and sherry vinegar.  It smacks you with flavor.

And my dear friend Skippy, her daughter is quite the talented artist and photographer and has one several ribbons at their local county fair.  This picture below is one of my favorites (which took a 1st place ribbon) – blue being my favorite color and because of the clouds – it’s now my screen saver at work – thanks Evie!

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Alright, time to get my cleaning pants on.   I haven’t worn them in a while – ha!  Have a great weekend!

Apology Accepted

Remember the pizza that we got when we were at Mayo?  Well Tony decided to send the picture of the pizza to Toppers to let them know that their product was substandard at the very least, never mind how the pizza looked when we opened the box.  The Toppers Owner/Operator immediately responded.   He’s agreed to refund our money and has been more than sincere about how their product was delivered to us.

As has been acknowledged, your pizza was a dreadful example of our product.  The picture you sent was immediately forwarded to my team and will be discussed ad nauseam as an example of how to lose a potential customer.  Life is easier when we just get it right from the beginning, and I sincerely apologize that we didn’t do that for you and your wife.

We’re family owner/operators who really do care about what we do; this business is our livelihood.  And though we’re far from perfect, we fight like crazy to treat people right.  This is especially true when we drop the ball.

Again, I wish we would have gotten it right the first time…but there are no do-overs in the real world. With that being said, please do let me know if there is anything further I can offer in order to compensate for the disappointment we have caused.

Keith Allen

Tony and I have made complaints over the years if food/service wasn’t up to par.  We don’t really expect anything in return, but just an acknowledgment that they do better to the next customer.  Half the time we never get a response.  Tony wrote to Chik-fil-A about how awful their chicken sandwich was.  It was oily, tasted like onion rings.  Their response?  They wanted to give him a coupon for the same exact sandwich!  So we appreciate Keith’s honesty and apology.

Last weekend I was in full food prep mode.  I ended up making 24 breakfast tacos!

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It was so busy at work yesterday right off the bat,  I didn’t even have time to take a picture, so this picture was from my Instagram page – this is basically what I had yesterday – I do add a bit of fresh spinach when I reheat them at work.

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It was so busy I never ended up going to the gym.  I had actually brought clothes to change and walk outside – it was a gorgeous 70 degree day.  I ended up eating at my desk.  I brought chicken noodle soup and made a roast beef and Swiss lorraine panini.  I love having a panini maker at work, although sometimes my co-workers hate it because the delicious smell wafts through the whole office.

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I had “ideas” for what to make for dinner.  Still have chili mac, I had ravioli, Italian sausage, burgers.  Tony decided on Italian sausage, so I ran with that.  I had this bag of ravioli in my freezer and decided to give it a go.

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Having a red sauce with pumpkin pasta sounded like ass to me, so I made a quick alfredo – 1 tablespoon butter, 1 tablespoon flour, 3/4 cup milk – then once that got thick I added 1 tablespoon grated parm, a pinch of nutmeg and added in chopped spinach and sliced the sausage and mixed that in as well.  At the very end I tossed in some chopped diced tomato.

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I loved the sauce and the sausage – but the pumpkin ravioli tasted like ass – SO sweet – almost a mixture of pumpkin and brown sugar?  I tried adding some crushed red pepper flakes to try to balance some of the sweetness, but it didn’t work.  I ended up eating barely 2 ravioli and threw the rest out.   So at 9:30 I was still hungry so I made Tony and I some popcorn.  And I am just about to put out the popcorn we didn’t eat for the chipmunks and squirrels – I haven’t seen Lyle or Kyle for a while!

When I was talking to my daughter on the way home last night, she told me she had today off, so we are meeting for lunch.  Then I talked to my Mom and found out she didn’t have any plans, so she’s meeting us out for lunch too!

We have news about our next trip to Mayo – we leave next Wednesday afternoon and his heart biopsy is scheduled for Thursday.  We won’t know what time until after 7:00 p.m. when we call a central scheduling number to find out exactly what time.  We are actually happy we have a bit of a break before our next visit.  I believe that’s the last test we need before they determine the next course of action.  We sincerely appreciate your prayers, good vibes, etc.!

Happy Friday – make it a great day!

Witches and Onion Sandwiches

We weren’t in a huge hurry to get back on the road yesterday.  We both woke up around 8.  I went down about 8:15 to bring us up some coffee from the grab and go.  Tony watched the news and I did some computer work.  I ended up heating up two portions of the breakfast casserole I made over the weekend.  There really isn’t a tried and true recipe for this casserole.  I basically chop up stale bread (the .70 loaf of Walmart bread I had in the freezer), put that in the bottom of a casserole dish.  I browned up 8 ounces of breakfast sausage.  Once cooled a bit, chopped up and sprinkled that over the bread.  I use 4 cups of “liquid.”  Basically it was 2 cups of liquid egg beaters and two cups of flax milk, because that’s what I had on hand.  Then I add some Italian seasonings, salt and pepper, pour that over the bread, then top with cheese and bake for 45 minutes at 375.  I will admit that it’s best when you make it overnight and let the bread soak up all the goodness. 

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I finally packed us up and we were on the road by 9:45.  I thought we were going to be stuck because our car was parked right in front of two police cars, and ambulance and a fire truck – they ran into the building pretty quickly, but Tony steered me around them.

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Tony was telling me that I should stop at a cheese place before we left Wisconsin.  Around 12:30 we finally stopped for a bathroom break and cheese! 

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I really only wanted one thing – squeaky cheese – aka cheese curds!  As soon as I saw them I grabbed them and went to the register.  Tony was in shock that I didn’t spend 30 minutes tasting all the cheeses, but the prices were a bit steep, and with us traveling back and forth I decided to not tempt myself and get my curds and move on. 

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I ended up getting Arby’s for lunch.  Tony ate some of the fries – I love their curly fries!  With buffalo sauce for dipping – duh.

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It was at the cheese place that Tony had had enough of my driving, so he drove the last two hours home.  So that way I could go on Pinterest and take lots of cloud pictures!

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Love holding his hand!  So he goes this morning to a clinic to see what his blood level numbers are, and that will determine when we go back to Mayo.  Pretty soon we’ll be able to make the trip with our eyes closed, although I did miss a couple exits – oops!  Maybe that’s why he took over driving to ensure we’d actually make it home!

I ended up making a super quick dinner – Greek chicken thighs, zucchini and rosemary new potatoes.  The marinade on the chicken is just 1 teaspoon olive oil, 2 teaspoons chopped rosemary, one chopped garlic clove, 1/2 teaspoon Greek seasoning and salt and pepper.  And I didn’t feel like lighting up the Weber grill, so I did this on our indoor cast iron skillet.

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So over the weekend I was looking for some paperwork and stumbled across my old creative writing journal.  I love that I wrote “I love creative WRITEING!”   Mind you, I was 10 years old and this spiral notebook dates to 1978.  I cannot believe this journal is 36 years old!

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This particular teacher did what she called “jump start” writing.  On one page she would make a drawing or line that we had to then turn into a picture and then turn into a story.   I remember that the start of this picture was the triangle hat.  I am writing this word for word – misspellings and all.

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Witches and Onion Sandwiches

“One day a girl named Kathy was about seven years old and was reading a book.  She was a very smart girl and was taught to read when she was six and has been reading ever since.

The book she was reading was about Whitches and Worlocks.  It said in big bold letters “IF YOU WANT TO BECOME A WHICH OR A WORELOCK JUST FOLLOW THESE SIMPLE DIRECTIONS.”  Eat 1 onion sandwich.

Kathy thought that wasn’t too far fetched so she made 1 onion sandwich.  She was quite hesitant about eating the sandwich but Kathy finally ate it.  Trembling all over she went over to the mirror.

Kathy’s nose was growing out real far and her face was wrinkling up like a prune.  This frieghtend her so she went to the book to see how you could get rid of the horrid face.

The directions said “WHEN DONE WITH FACE JUST SAY “HOCUS POCUS!”  Kathy said “Hocus Pocus” and her face and nose went back to normal.

She never did or read a witch book again.

THE END.

Ha!  I hope you’ve enjoyed this throw back Thursday story. And I got an A on it!  Don’t worry, I have 19 more to share with you in the coming weeks! Open-mouthed smile

I am off to work – make it a great day!