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Blogging Prompt…

Hi All,

How is everyone doing?  We are doing well here.

So one of my assignments here was to create a BlogRoll that lists the blogs that I like to follow – that’s quite a list by the way because there are some great blogs and websites out there.  I will try to do that later today.  This one is more techie, and I seem to be having a blocked moment with techie stuff.  Maybe because it’s just too nice out lately :).

Another assignment was to make a blogging prompt that I had read in someone else’s blog personal.  In other words how reading someone else’s blog post hit me personally.

So I decided to use a post I read the other day on one of my favorite food bloggers – We Are Not Martha.  They are a Web site that I try to check in on at least once a week because they always have great recipes, great drink ideas, :) great craft ideas and a lot of cute stories.  Recently, they did a blog post featuring a recipe from Thomas Keller’s Bouchon cookbook.  The recipe was for Croque Madame and of course it looked delicious (all “WeAreNotMartha” recipes look delicious) but the way that the author talked about this cookbook hit me, and I immediately had to Google it.  I found it on Amazon along with another one of his cookbooks – Bouchon Bakery, and I of course immediately purchased them.

At first I thought I had never heard of this guy before but then when I saw that he was the owner of the French Laundry restaurant, I realized that not only had I heard of him.  I think I already have his French Laundry cookbook…  That’s scary when you can’t recall all of your cookbooks…

I have the same problem with quilting books too by the way :).

Anyways, both of these cookbooks are beautiful!!  Beautifully written and have beautiful pictures.  They look more like coffee table books, and I can’t wait to try some of these recipes.  One of the reviewers for Bouchon Bakery said the cookie on the front cover was the best cookie she’s ever had in her life.  You can’t ignore comments like that – at least I can’t anyways.  He also has a recipe for his version of Ho Ho’s.

Here are some photos of the books and some of the pictures inside.  I apologize for my bad photography.  While the pictures inside his book are beyond beautifully done, my iPhone photos of his photos might be less than perfect.

Bouchon Cookbook

Bouchon Cookbook3

Bouchon Cookbook2

Bouchon Cookbook1

Bakery Cookbook1

Bakery Cookbook4

Bakery Cookbook3

Bakery Cookbook2

Bakery Cookbook5

Bakery Cookbook6

Like I said – really beautiful cookbooks.  I am looking forward to trying a few of his recipes (especially those “Oh Ohs” which are his version of Ho Ho’s), and will let you know how they come out.

Have a great day and Lots of Love!!

Cheryl

Hi All,

My next assignment is to friend a few neighbors here in the Blogsphere, and I am so thankful for this assignment.

As most of you know, I love to cook and bake, and I am addicted to food blogs.  Through this assignment I was able to get connected with a couple of beautiful food blogs.  One blog in particular caught my attention because they featured an Indian chicken recipe that called for harissa paste.  Harissa is an ingredient that I have been researching after seeing it for the first time in a recipe for Harissa and Dijon Mustard Chicken on Superman Cooks.  This food blog is entitled Cupcakes and Curries and their recipe is the Middle Eastern Roast Chicken with Pearl Couscous Salad.

Now I have two harissa recipes to try.  Is your mouth watering yet?  Always looking for new ways to make chicken, and I really love to play with new spices.

Unfortunately, my acid reflux doesn’t like it…  Anyone know how spicy harissa is?

I also visited a few of the new friends that I’ve made over the last couple of weeks, and I have to say the most creative response to this assignment goes to Around Zuzu’s Barn.  Very creative post – loved it!

Lastly, I thought this entry from Katzenworld was very sweet!

There were many other blogs that I am now following, and I am looking forward to catching up on my reading!!

I hope everyone is enjoying the posts.

Lots of Love!!

Cheryl

Hi there, My next assignment is to help with targeting a new audience.  Since I am hoping to speak to quilters out there, I thought I would write about my recent trip to the Vermont Quilt Festival.  Here is my post.  Let me know what you think!

How are things going w/you? Things are going well here. I was on vacation for the last week and a half. First, some friends and I went to the Vermont Quilt Festival in Burlington, VT. As most of you know, this was my first time attending this yearly event,  and I was very excited to check out the 80 or so vendors. Spent way more money than I wanted.  But it was a nice and low key trip – no rushing around… Next year, I might take a class, but I’ve heard rumors that if you want to take a class you need to sign on around midnight the day the class schedule is released or else the classes sell out.

Plus if you’re a quilter and you’re anything like me – taking a class means another UFO** hanging around that will probably NEVER get finished….

**Quilters’ slang for unfinished projects

On our way to the Quilt Festival, we stopped at a place called Simon Pearce.  Simon Pearce is a place that does beautiful glass blowing but is also a great restaurant.  We had a nice meal, observed some glass blowing techniques and perused their beautiful shop.

SP Fire

SP Tools

SP Display

Finally – we made it.

The Vermont Quilt Festival had about 80 or so vendors!  OMG…

VQF Vendors

And I said hello to every single one of them :) !!

They also have the most unbelievable quilt show.  I could have taken photos of every single quilt that was hanging there.  Speaking of hanging, there were quilts even hanging from the ceiling!

Hanging Quilts!!

After visiting with the vendors, we walked around the quilt show.

One spectacular quilt after another.  My photos don’t do them justice.  They were beautiful…

Here are just a few of them.

CS -Quilt CS - Ribbons CS - Credit

COL  COL - Credit

I just love bright jeweled tones on a black background!

Hey, does this quilt look familiar?

Tonga Nature Quilt   Tonga Nature - Credit

How about now?

My Tonga Nature

This quilt was NOT in the VQF, but I just finished it and had it hanging in my Guild’s (Rising Star Quilters) yearly quilt show.  It was nice to see the Paula Higgins’ version at the quilt festival, and I loved her choice of colors -very beautiful!

This is the last quilt I’ll show you, but I think it really represents the creativity within quilters.  I just loved it!!

WW Quilt    WW Credit

I could have posted so many more pictures – they were really quite exquisite but unfortunately I know that my photography wouldn’t do them justice!!

The last thing we did was attend a lecture by Bonnie Hunter.  If you ever have the chance to take one of her classes or see one of her lectures, don’t hesitate.  She was such an energetic, hilarious speaker.  I wish I had an ounce of her energy!  The auditorium was packed to see her!

Bonnie Hunter  Bonnie Hunter Audience

After the Vermont Quilt Festival which was Friday through Sunday, I spent the following week organizing my kitchen and basement. I bought four shelving systems that my Dad installed in the basement.

That last part probably sounded like the worst vacation EVER, huh…

I feel pretty good about it though. When we moved here, Jim’s health was in a bad place, so we literally dropped boxes and unpacked the bare essentials so even after almost three years here, I still had boxes to unpack.  But boy do things accumulate!! I cannot believe all the stuff I have accumulated over the years.

My Dad did an awesome job putting together and leveling the shelving.

Now, everything that was cluttering the kitchen counters and cabinets that I didn’t use on a regular basis was brought downstairs and put on the shelves so now I can see what I have and I know where it is. The kitchen looks beautiful – nothing on the counters and even all the drawers have new utensil holders…

Nice and clean…

We won’t discuss the number of boxes of fabric that I have in the attic though – EEEEEEK!!

That’s my next organization project.

Well, it’s getting late, and I think I’m an assignment behind now because I decided to go to bed early last night.  I’ll leave you with a picture of Kendall.  She always likes to lay down with one arm stretched out so I was trying to make it look like she was taking a selfie…  Like I’ve said before, bad photography…

But she just wouldn’t look at the camera!!

Kendall Selfie

Have a great night!  Lots of Love!!

Cheryl

Small Changes

Hi All,

Since Jim had his heart transplant, I have been thinking about a new direction for the blog.  One idea I had was to devote it to my quilting obsession (I mean hobby) along with posting various recipes that I’ve tried.

Maybe also some gardening posts?  I hear you laughing Mom!!  My Mom has a green thumb.  I do not…

I thought I would give Kendall some more exposure as well.

Quilting, Cooking and Kendall!  Maybe that can be the new name – we’ll see.  Still playing around…

Should be a lot more pleasant than posting about health issues, that’s for sure!! Although I do still plan on giving updates on the healthcare front.  When I first started thinking about blogging it was at first going to be a quilting site but then my husband’s health took a bad turn and I started blogging about the heart failure journey.  We really wanted to connect with others who were having similar health issues. We have met a lot of great people along the way plus it was a great way to keep friends and family updated.

I am looking forward to unveiling the new blog and I hope you enjoy reading it!!

Lots of Love!!

 

A Year in Review

Hi All,

How is everyone doing?

We have been enjoying life without a pacemaker, defibrillator or LVAD.  No more lightheadedness or dizziness and no more passing out on a semi-quasi regular basis.  An eight-year battle is over and hopefully no more battles are in our future for a very long time.  We can only hope…

Jim’s one-year post heart transplant journey has consisted of mostly monthly biopsies — they were more frequent in the first two months post-transplant.  He also has been gearing up back at work.

All his biopsy results have come back as ZERO REJECTION.

Now, no more biopsies unless something happens.

I still can’t believe a year has gone by.  It actually was a great year and went by pretty quickly.

The two years with the LVAD, not so much…

We have so much to be thankful for and still think of the donor family who even in their time of grief were able to be so thoughtful and giving.  They have no idea what a difference they have made in our lives.

We also owe an immense amount of gratitude to family, friends and co-workers.  Without your love and support, neither one of us would have been able to survive this…  I still get overwhelmed when I think about it.

Eight years…

We are now on the other side of the heart transplant and Jim is back to his life’s passion – his business.

Me – I’m actually having a bit of a tough time adjusting to life post-transplant.  I had a “what do I do now” crisis.  It was very strange.  I think I need to find something to be passionate about.  Any suggestions?  Going back to school was one idea…  I’m just not sure for what and wonder out loud if I am too old.

For now I’m enjoying a sense of normal – reading books and finishing some quilting UFOs (or unfinished projects).  I am planning on organizing the house and rethinking the blog’s direction.  The blog was originally supposed to be a quilting blog and the inaugural post was going to be about my trip to the Vermont Quilt Festival.  Instead, decided to cancel last minute because I just felt that Jim was not doing well.  Cancelled on Thursday and his defib hit him Saturday night and he passed out.  Glad I was home otherwise he would have been alone when that happened.  If you’re interested, you can read about that here https://welcometomyworlddotme1.wordpress.com/2012/07/04/happy-4th-of-july/

We have come full circle – I have a hotel reservation for the Vermont Quilt Festival next month…

Any other ideas that could fuel my passion or be a good direction for the blog?

While you’re mulling that over, did I ever tell you how Jim was diagnosed with his heart condition in the first place?  It was because of our cat – Spooky.

Spooky and Jim were buds.  They would greet each other every single morning in the hallway with high fives and a meow and every night he would wait at the front door for Jim to get home from work…  So sweet.

We both love all animals but have a soft spot for black cats.

Two days after Jim’s mother passed, Jim was home complaining of chest pain and “pressure” going down his left arm.  He was very sweaty too.  Classic heart attack symptoms yet he didn’t want to go to the hospital because his PCP said he was just experiencing anxiety from his mother passing and prescribed blood pressure meds.  Spooky apparently didn’t agree with that thinking, and he wouldn’t leave Jim’s side.  He kept circling and pacing around Jim while frantically and loudly meowing.

He knew something was wrong….

He followed Jim into the bathroom – butting the door open with a combination shoulder / head maneuver and when Jim went to lie down for a while, Spooky started his pacing / frantic meowing routine alongside the bed.

I asked Jim if he thought we should call an ambulance, and he indicated he was sure it was just anxiety.  Meanwhile, I am still watching Spooky who continues his pacing / meowing and suggested that we just go to the ER and get his blood pressure checked.  Since, his PCP had just prescribed the blood pressure meds, I said let’s just go see how your blood pressure is doing – it can’t hurt, I said.

I said to the woman at the ER’s Registration that my husband was having chest pains and she took one look at him and said we’ll bring him right in and worry about the paperwork later…  We were there for most of the night.  All the tests came back normal except one…

Idiopathic Dilated Cardiomyopathy

So that’s how we first learned of Jim’s heart failure.

Thank you, Spooky!  When Jim got home, Spooky was his normal self again.

First, you start out on medications and watching your sodium intake.

We would order Italian subs and Jim would just pop an extra diuretic (if it was even needed) and bounce back no problem.

Heart disease is progressive though…  Suddenly, he wasn’t bouncing back.

After a period of time, he started landing in the hospital to have fluid removed because the diuretics would get overwhelmed.

This went on for a few years.  One day while Jim was in the hospital having some fluid removed, he was talking with his Dad on his cellphone when the entire team of the Cardiomyopathy Unit at Tufts Medical Center barged in his room.  He had a vtach storm.

The doctors informed Jim it was time for a defibrillator.  They actually implanted a pacemaker / defib but not without some, oh let’s just say…  Issues..

The “leads” that are inserted into the heart somehow kept coiling up and out of the heart and they would have to do surgery to reinsert them.  The last straw was one day when Jim woke me up around 2:30 a.m. saying “I think we have a problem”.

Picture me trying to focus at 2:30 a.m. after being woken up from a sound sleep with the lights on…

Once I focused, I could see, his pec muscle is pacing like his heart should have been…

We head back at Tufts where Dr. Pham had to go in through his rib cage and basically “sew” the leads to his heart.

Now we are cooking with gas!!

Then the defib started to hit him on a bit more of a regular basis.  The team then informed us that Jim’s heart had approximately 6 months left if he didn’t get the LVAD.

A rather humbling moment.

That surgery went fine but because Jim had gone into the surgery sick, his recovery was rough.  He came out of it with a condition known as post-op delirium.  For me – it was horrible.  Jim doesn’t have too many awful memories from it (quite the contrary if you speak to him about it), but from my perspective it was just very scary to see someone you love in that condition.

So that pretty much wraps up 8 years of heart failure to a heart transplant.  It’s been quite a journey.

An eight-year battle in our ten year marriage.

I’ve been more of a caregiver than a wife…

You want to get married; you better take those vows seriously.

In sickness and in health…

See how fast the tables turned… We got married and had stupid dreams of starting a family.  Hey, I actually wanted four kids…  We were going to have to start fast because I was getting old.  Yet 8 months into the marriage, I had a diagnosis and then about a year later Jim got his diagnosis…

I tried to be a good caregiver.  It wasn’t always pretty.  There were times when I was grumpy.

Many times :)…

You also develop a sort of sixth sense.  I think even before Jim saw them I would know when something wasn’t right.  You go on alert.

Calling 911 was never pretty for me.  Those kids who get called out on the evening news for calmly calling 911– not me…

One of the strangest incidents for me during this entire 8-year ordeal was actually the last time Jim passed out – January 2014.  I did my frantic call to 911 then ran to put some clothes on and then ran to open the front door and put the porch light on then ran upstairs again to tend to Jim who was now regaining consciousness.  I followed the ambulance to Tufts as best I could – they can blow through lights.

So there we are in the ER again.  It’s our second home.  Jim is sleeping on the gurney and I’m sitting next to him watching the hustle bustle of life in the ER and the snow starting to fall faster.  Boston was bracing for a large snowstorm that day.  I was thankful that I had taken that week off from work so didn’t have to worry about that.  I remember watching him sleep and feeling the familiar pain start to creep in to my back.

ER Chair

These chairs are not comfortable.

Anyways, I was watching the snow come down and started to feel anxious because I don’t like driving in snow, let alone on the upper deck of 93North, and I started to really wonder when is this (the transplant) going to happen?  Is it going to ever happen?

Then I hear this little voice way in the back of my head say – “Anniversary”.

Ahhh OK – I go back to being anxious about driving home…

Our anniversary is May 15th.  My parent’s anniversary is May 19th and we celebrated w/them on May 19th.

We got the call on May 22nd.

CRAZY!!??

Thank you to whatever / whoever out there who helped to calm me down – appreciate it.

Now can I have the numbers for the lottery?  Just (slightly) kidding…

Like I said it was a great year (except for the month of February).  I’m glad that we broke records but that was the first time in my entire life I actually thought about leaving New England for a warmer climate.

Here are some photos / highlights:

So this is the front of our house after a day of snow blowing / shoveling.  See the avalanches – those happened after the snow blower broke…  The snow blower actually broke down twice this year.

Front of house

Speaking of breaking…  This was the second shovel to break.  NO EXCUSES!!

Broken Shovel

Here’s the view from the back of the house…

Backyard View

These are the famous ice dams that everyone was talking about…  This was the first year we had this bad a problem.

Ice Dam

Lastly, here’s Kendall having a “Holy MeWow!!” moment looking out the slider off our kitchen.  I had tried to keep the back porch clear but as you can see I gave up…

Kendall MeWow

So that’s pretty much a quick overview of the last year.  Jim is doing extremely well, and I am trying to determine what I want to do the rest of my life.

Travel!!??  Hmmmm….  That’s an idea…

Anyways, look for a new, improved (and possibly newly named) blog coming soon.

Lots of Love!!

Cheryl

Hi All,

Hope everyone is doing well today. Wasn’t today a gorgeous day!!

I just got in a few minutes ago from visiting with Jim.

Don’t mind if I do…

Glass of Winev2

Jim had his first biopsy today to check for rejection in the heart and they said he did really well. We should have the results sometime tomorrow afternoon. They also took some “pressure” readings of the new heart while they were in there… Might as well, they said. Those came back fine.

So they did a CT scan yesterday. I asked what the results were and they indicated that there is a “tiny” pocket of fluid just at the base of his left lung. His left lung is also a bit diminished from the LVAD sitting on it – that’s typical. They decided that this pocket of fluid is so minimal that they are not going to treat it.

Great!!

Then tonight, one of the ID (Infectious Disease) doctors comes in and starts asking questions like is he out of breath at all and proceeds to tell him that she might have him do another chest x-ray because they want to make sure that “tiny” pocket of fluid isn’t the start of pneumonia.  Apparently, all of the immune-suppressing drugs he’s on will completely hide all of the symptoms of pneumonia.  Now I know it’s weighing on Jim’s mind (and mine).  I am looking for that feeling of relief. It’s been a week since transplant, and I haven’t felt that big sigh of relief yet.  Will it ever happen? I’m told it will. Probably when Jim is home and we are used to our new normal.

I met with the Pharmacist today while Jim was having his biopsy.

Holy crap!!

A lot of medications.  Not only a lot of meds, but the same meds with different doses throughout the day and meds at various times throughout the day. A big learning curve but we’ll figure it out.  We always do… She is coming back to sit down with Jim and review them with him and then before we go home she wants to make sure that we can organize a week’s worth of meds in front of her.

Great – a final exam!! I suppose it can’t be any worse than learning how to swap out the LVAD controller!!

Well, that’s it for now.

Thanks again for all the prayers, well-wishes and offers of support. We really appreciate it.

Lots of Love!!

Cheryl

PS:  Again, please excuse any typos – not proofreading…

Transplant Update

Hi All,

They moved Jim into a regular room this morning and the teachings have started. I’m taking tomorrow and Friday off for vacation because they are going to go over the medications and his new diet – a low-bacteria diet.

Ever hear of that one?

I’ve heard of a lot of diets in my time but never a low-bacteria diet.

Anyways, he’s doing very well. Getting visibly stronger every single day. They want him to eat more but he said he’s not hungry. I think he’ll eat better at home…

I’ve been posting as many updates as I can to Facebook to keep everyone in the loop. By the time I get home I would be just wiped and didn’t feel like making phone calls or sending emails.

I like to call Jim’s nurse before I go to bed just to check in on him. One time she was in with him and the receptionist asked if I could call back in two minutes or so. I said sure and then passed out and woke up around 4:00 a.m.

They are actually talking about Jim coming home this weekend – EEEK!! They are still doing a lot of testing though. There are a lot of people checking on him. A kidney doctor came in to see him today. His kidney function was slightly elevated. They did a CT scan on him tonight after I had left because he has a pocket of fluid just over his lung. We’ll get those results tomorrow. Then there is the first biopsy. That’s supposed to happen on Friday.

Ugh – my chest is getting tight again…

He went for his first walk yesterday in ICU and he did another walk today with Occupational Therapy. I told the OT person, once he gets his legs underneath him, you won’t be able to stop him.

When I walked out of his room tonight there was a handsome gentleman standing near the nurses’ station. He saw me come out of Jim’s room and you can tell by all the signage that it’s the room of a transplant patient, and he immediately put his hand out and introduced himself as Steve and informed me that exactly one year ago today he had his transplant. He came in to Tufts for his yearly check-up and biopsy and to say hi to the nurses – they were elated to see him. I thanked him for introducing himself and told him he looked great (the truth) and left the floor with a big smile on my face.

There is a heart transplant recipient in the room next to Jim. Again, you can tell by all the signage. Jim and I belong to a bunch of support groups for LVADs and heart transplant recipients and we learned today that there were five heart transplants in the past seven days – that’s a lot of hearts!! Not sure of all the locations but we know two were at Tufts…

I do have a bunch of pictures that I’m hoping to show you guys (have to ask Jim if he’s OK w/it first) but they are not on this computer anyways. Later…

I think that’s all I have to report for now plus I’m getting tired. Will write more soon.

Lots of Love!!

Cheryl

PS: Please excuse any typos – not proofreading this tonight!

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