Cupcake Follies

Really, I just wanted to watch my cupcake show.  I’d been talking about it for days and let Tom know I recorded it.  The Cupcake bake-off on the Food Channel.  After 13 rounds of chemo and two to go, this was the big thing I was looking forward to.  I don’t make cupcakes but my daughter had ordered cupcakes for the twins 6th  birthday party and sent me a picture.  I was blown away.  I had never seen more beautiful cupcakes in my life and was sure they couldn’t be that beautiful and also taste good.  She assured me they were delicious.  Somehow this self taught woman was discovered by the Food Channel and asked to compete in one of the Cupcake Bake-off shows.  Her Bakery is called “Baked Blooms.” https://www.bakedblooms.com/

My sister invited us to come up for the weekend so to Seattle we went.  It was a good getaway.  I was up long before everyone else Saturday morning and sat around waiting for anyone to get up.  Tom was sleeping in longer than he ever had before so the sleeping pill my sister Denise gave him the night before must really be working.  She said it was mild and you wouldn’t have a hangover in the morning.  When he finally got up he had a big hangover and was really groggy.

“What the heck was that pill you gave me last night Denise?”  “I just gave you one of my prescription sleeping pills, they’re real mild and you wake up feeling great.  But my pills are the same as Bonita’s, so since mine were in the bedroom, I just gave you one of Bonita’s”  “Why am I so groggy then?”  Tom asked.  Denise went to get the bottle and then started laughing.  “Bonita’s pills are way stronger than mine!”  she said. Bonita happens to be the family dog.  We finally stopped laughing and Tom went to peruse his phone.

I went to my phone and found the cupcakes to show Denise.  I was telling her how beautiful they were and how the bakery’s owner was going to be competing in the Cupcake Bake-off on the Food Channel.  Tom looked up from his phone and said “Oh she won.”  “What did you say” I asked.  “She won.”  he said again.  I couldn’t believe it, did he just ruin my cupcake show?  “I told you I recorded that to watch when we got home” I said, barely containing my fury.  “I thought you’d already watched it” he said.  “Of course I haven’t watched it, I keep talking about watching it,  you’ve heard me talking about watching it, do you not hear anything I say?”  “Sorry, you can watch it when we get home and you won’t have any anxiety about who wins.”  I did not speak to him the rest of the day and was still mad the following day.  I even threatened to tell him who wins every Wisconsin Badger game he records.  The cupcakes had taken on an outsize importance, a metaphor for husbands who don’t listen! I finally watched the show several days later and yes, she won and yes, knowing she won ruined the show for me.  But I’m very happy she won, her cupcakes are something to behold.

Did somebody ruin something for you and you want to tell me about it?

Don’t Read That Book!

The first few chapters of the book put me into a tailspin.  A very kind neighbor bought the book for me after checking to see that I wanted it.  I knew nothing about the author but apparently he has been on all the talk shows touting his “cure” for cancer through diet.  His cancer was diagnosed and the tumor removed.  When his doctor recommended chemotherapy, he went into rebellion mode and decided he could cure himself through his diet.

What set me into the tailspin was my own stage 4 cancer had just been diagnosed and I was on an aggressive chemotherapy program.  The first chapters of the book trashed the medical field for corruption, doctors for scaring us into chemotherapy to make money and  poisoning us for an extra two or three months of life.  Wow!  I had never experienced doctors like this and felt that my doctor actually cared what happened to me.  Was this my outcome?  An extra two or three months of life for total misery?  I put the book aside, upside down in a dark room so I wouldn’t even see it.

Several months later, I am in a much better place and wanted to see what the diet he was talking about actually was.  So I got the book back out of the dark room.  Let’s just say it would be very hard to do.  Raw food, tons of juice.  For instance every day make carrot juice from 5 pounds of organic carrots, gingerroot, beetroot, celery and etc.  You should drink eight, 8oz glasses every hour of the day.  He turned orange, but not to worry, it will go away.  Other things were easier but not in the volumns he suggested.  There were ingredients I have never heard of and I’m a cook.  But, can I have cookies?  I really like cookies.  How about ice cream?  Sadly, no. This diet would consume your life.  It would be really, really hard to do.  You’d spend the entire day in the kitchen trying to make the things he wants you to eat, not to mention trying to find the ingredients required.  I’m sure it’s really good for you, but what about actual life?  Friends, family, movies, dinners out, aren’t these important for your well being?  Especially when you’re going through cancer?

My doctor has given me good news and says I am one of the 20% who is on the path to “cure.”  I really like my doctor, she has a sense of humor and spends as much time with me as I need.  All my doctors do.  I feel really good about where I am.  I’ve decided not to read any more books and to stay off the internet.  It’s not good for you.  Do you agree?  Or are you one of the persons who has to research everything?  I’d love to hear opinions.

Hairtofore

I pledge never to complain about a bad hair day again.  Even a bad hair day is better than a no hair day. Have you ever not had hair?  Not having hair is pretty all consuming, affecting what you do but mostly what you don’t do.  Who knew it would be this hard?  But even a naked head wouldn’t be so bad if those ears weren’t so darn big.  It’s all about the ears and who knew mine were this big?   Where did your hair go you might ask?

Chemotherapy will take it right away.  The nurse was saying at my first infusion  “Maybe you’ll be one of the lucky ones, whose hair doesn’t fall out.  Even so, it won’t come all out until sometime after the second infusion.”  As she was talking, I could feel my hair falling out and before the second infusion, it was all gone.  Being diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time in your life is sobering and this time, it had already spread.  I was in trouble.  I focused on hair.

I got a wig which looked fine in the shop and then when I went to wear it, of course I hated it.  I can’t tie a scarf so went for something I didn’t have to tie.  A hat, a cap,  I hate most all of them too.  I took the wig back and they cut and restyled it and I like it better, but now it’s summer and wigs are hot.

However,  there is good news surrounding no hair.  It takes me so much less time to get ready in the morning, I don’t have to shave those legs, think of the money I’m saving on haircuts, shampoo, conditioner and highlights.  With all those positives, why does it bother me so much?  Much more than it should.  Why can’t I be like most of the other women at the infusion center who don’t seem to be bothered by their hairless heads?  I wear my wig to the infusion center.  I’m hoping people don’t realize I’m sick and want to  present a normal face to the world outside of that room. So who has the problem, me who cares too much or those women that don’t seem to care at all?

Why don’t you try those cold caps you might ask.  I did that the last time and they worked but they were quite the pain. Penguin Cold Caps had to be at a temperature below freezing and a home freezer isn’t cold enough. If your infusion center is not equipped with a cold cap freezer which ours wasn’t, you needed a huge cooler with dry ice which we had to pack each time.  The cooler had to be a certain size to fit 8 caps and we needed 80 pounds of dry ice each time. The caps had to be changed every 20 minutes, so I needed a team.

My husband Tom of course was one of the team and a very good friend, Kinyon, volunteered to be his helper.  Mostly Kinyon was used for comic relief and the nurses at the center hated comic relief.  They were hostile.  My team seemed to be having too much fun and that is apparently not good at the infusion center.  I was having these huge caps, -20 degrees C on my head, changed every 20 minutes to keep them that temperature which was quite the distraction for me.  Four hours at the center, and four more hours at home which meant I went home with a cap on my head.  Then you couldn’t wash your hair for 2 days before the treatment and 2 days after, no standing under the shower, you had to use a cup to pour water over your hair, special shampoo and all in all it was a pain.  So that wasn’t an option this time.

You haven’t lived until your husband shaves your head!

Advice??

My Favorite Memory of Mom

 

At the time, I was mortified, wishing the floor would open up and swallow me.

The occasion was my graduation from United Airlines Stewardess School in Chicago, August, 1972.  My Aunt Dotty, mom’s sister lived in Chicago and mom flew out from Blue Earth, MN for the event.  I was excited to graduate and have mom and Aunt Dotty there.

I was thrilled and so proud that I had made it through our 8 weeks of training and now I was about to graduate and then start my flying career.  I had rented an apartment with 2 other friends and we were beyond excited.  Parents, Aunts, Uncles, boyfriends, girlfriends and grandparents had come to watch our graduation.  My mom was to pin my wings on me.

Our class filed in and took our seats.  I didn’t see mom and Aunt Dotty but I knew they were there.  My name was called to get my wings.  I walked up to the stage, mom got up and came toward the stage.  I thought I would have a heart attack.  She had on a short skirt and white Go Go boots, hair piled high on her head, black horn rimmed glasses and some kind of short jacket.  I was mortified.  How could she? Go Go boots?!  Oh how I wanted the floor to open up and swallow me.

But those Go Go Boots are my favorite memory of mom.  She was from small town Minnesota and she was so proud of me.  She wanted to be hip.  The 70’s were the era of Go Go Boots.  She must have agonized over her outfit.  She thought she looked great. And you know what?  She looked wonderful and in my heart, when I think of her that day, I am overwhelmed with love.

My mother was a terrible cook.  But the one thing she made that we all loved was pork chops.  I have wondered for years how she made them but I have a sneaking suspicion this is how she did it:

Put bone-in, thin cut pork chops in a roasting pan.

Pour two cans of Cream of Mushroom Soup over them

Turn the oven on to 350 degrees and cook for one hour.

After one hour the chops would have been inedible but that Cream of Mushroom soup melted into them and crusted up.

We all thought they were delicious which may give you a clue as to what our everyday fare was like.

This memory and pork chop recipe will go in the family cookbook.  What memory do you have of your mom that brings a smile to your face now?

My Favorite Memory of Dad

I’ve been silent for awhile.  You’ve heard about bumps in the road of life, and I’ve encountered a big one.  However, I have not given up on our family cookbook/memoir.  In fact, I have been quite busy with it.  Have you ever done one?  It’s a project, especially when you are involving several families and lots of stories and pictures.  But the more I do it, the more excited I get about it.  On that note, I am going to ask each person for their favorite memory of their mom and dad.  I can’t wait to read the responses.

Below is my favorite memory of my dad.

 

My dad was a complex person.  Life of the party, jokester, tough guy, disciplinarian, generous and scary.  I didn’t realize until after he died, that he was a big softie, just that he hid it very well.

Letter from dad 

I remember his letters.  Oh how we dreaded those letters.  You knew you were in big trouble if you got one.  I only saved a couple of them and I so wish I had saved them all.  They were a big window into his personality.  If you click on the letter from dad above, you’ll see what I mean.

However, my favorite memory is “America the Beautiful.”  Dad was a patriotic guy.  When Tom and I decided to get married,( much to my dad’s undying gratitude, as I was 27 and he was sure I would be an Old Maid and he’d have to take care of me the rest of his life), his one request was that we play “America the Beautiful” at our wedding.  I was stunned.  I said no.  Who has “America the Beautiful” sung at their wedding? How he pouted.  Finally I couldn’t take it anymore and my mom and I secretly arranged for the soloist to sing it.  A surprise for dad.  The big day came.  I vividly remember dad walking up and down the halls of our home with an oxygen mask on before the service, as he was more nervous about the day than I was.  We were married in the Catholic Church in town and of course my parents had insisted on a High Mass.  That’s the long version of the regular Mass.  It took over two hours.  I can’t imagine that today!  In the middle of the service, the soloist sang “America the Beautiful.”  I stole a glance at dad who was sobbing.  The reception was at my parent’s house where we had a pig roast and at least 200 people, several of whom weren’t invited.  The best man’s brother came down from Minneapolis (he wasn’t invited) with three of his buddies.  The day was the most fun and the happiest day of my life and maybe the happiest of my dad’s life.

I remember dad’s wine roast which he would make often on Sunday’s.  However, it wasn’t my favorite.  He was very proud of it but my favorite was his rotisserie chicken.  That was incredible.  This is how I think he made the wine roast:

Put a beef top round roast in a pan. Poke some holes in it. Pour a bottle of the cheapest red wine you can find over it. Marinate for a few hours while everyone is in church. Cook until well done.

Make your kids eat it.

What would your favorite memory of your dad be?

 

Stiff Peaks

By now you’ve finished all your after Christmas shopping and broken all your New Year’s resolutions.  Now what?  It’s February and there’s not a lot going on.  Except for of course Valentine’s Day.  Remember when Valentine’s Day was a big deal?  What would he get me?  Jewelry, candy, flowers?  It was so exciting.  Me, I’d take candy over jewelry any day.  It was a given you’d go out for a romantic dinner. Since it was on my mind I thought I’d ask Tom if he’d thought about it.

Me ( with hope in my voice)  “What have you thought about doing for Valentine’s Day?”

Tom:  “Oh yeah,   Valentine’s Day.  Why don’t you make those lamb chops we like and for sure the Coeur a la Creme, I love that and you only make it on Valentine’s Day.”   Another hope dashed… However, Tom has made this dessert once before and the instruction to whip that cream to stiff peaks had him very confused.  But not as confused as the time he made another dessert as a surprise for me.  That instruction read:  whip egg whites until stiff but not dry.  He still talks about  “That crazy instruction!  What the heck does not dry mean, do egg whites get dry and what does that look like?”  You get the picture.

There are other things to do in February like get a head start on Spring cleaning; invite those friends of yours who didn’t escape to a sunnier place over for dinner.  I am going to turn on the fireplace and curl up on the couch with the golf balls I got for Christmas and dream of a lower handicap.  Speaking of golf balls, have you seen those new matte colored balls?  They are really cool, so that’s what I asked for.  I had only seen the deep red and orange ones, so didn’t even know there were other colors.  Sure enough, there are.  I got a box of the Volvik pastels.  Do you think I will be noticed on the golf course with these colors?  I think so!

If you are spending Valentine’s Day at home and making your own romantic dinner, here is the Coeur a la Creme recipe which is now a family heirloom and will be making it into that cookbook I hope to finish in the next 5 years.  By the way, what are you doing for Valentine’s Day?