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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

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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

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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

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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!!

 

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Hi All,

How are you doing?  We are doing pretty well here.  Apologies for the lack of posting on the blog but really haven’t had much to report to you…

On Mother’s Day we had my Mom and Dad over for a nice lunch.  I had made The Pioneer Woman’s Baked Ziti with a salad, and I “attempted” to make Simply Recipe’s Walnut Mocha Torte.  I thought it looked so delicious in the photo and not too difficult to make.

Ah-hem…

Let’s just say I’m better at cooking than I am at baking…

My last baking “incident” was attempting to make We Are Not Martha’s Blood Orange Tart.

No, I’m not addicted to food blogs…  Why do you ask?

Anyways, the Blood Orange tart looked beautiful on their blog (the pictures were gorgeous!) and didn’t look difficult at all to make…  Sues makes everything look easy…  I even “attempted” to make the crust from scratch…

However, when we sat down to eat the tart, we needed a table saw to cut through it.

My Mom very innocently asked me if I had made the crust myself from scratch, and I said “why yes, I did – thank you for noticing!!” – as we were literally sawing away at the crust with our knives!!  We laughed so hard after that…

The custard part of the tart was very delicious.  However, the color of my tart versus what was pictured on their blog was very very different…  Hers was a gorgeous shade of pink.  Mine was more of a muddy gray color…  Next time I might add some food coloring to jazz it up a bit…

I think I know what went wrong with the crust.  I made it

Just kidding (slightly).

I want to try it again but next time I will take my time working the butter into the flour.  Or is it the flour into the butter?  Does it matter?  Someone help me…

So back to the Walnut Mocha Torte…

I got up early on Mother’s Day, and I completed each step to make this tart as meticulously as I possibly could.

This was for Mom after all!!

I wanted it to be special.  However, the first issue was I realized I had inadvertently added one cup of sugar instead of the specified three-quarter cup because instead of grabbing the quarter-sized measuring cup, I had grabbed the third of a cup sized measuring cup.

Super

OK – so it will be a little bit sweeter.  No problem, I thought.  Moving on…

I finished the batter, filled two cake pans and popped them into the oven.  It said to cook for 20-30 minutes, and typically I will cook for the least amount required because you can always add more time, right?

Right?

Twenty minutes later this sucker was DONE.  When I opened the oven door, I gasped because it had pulled away from the sides of the pans and looked very very dry…  Actually, when I touched one of them, it made a “crunchy sound…”

Eeeek…

Checked the oven temperature and it was the right temperature, but think I will pick up an oven thermometer to make sure the temperature is accurate inside the oven…

At this point, I start thinking that I really should have picked up that back-up dessert from the grocery store…

Moving on again…  I start on the frosting…

Take heavy whipping cream and beat until if you beat anymore it will turn into butter.  ?????

Okey dokey…

I took heavy cream (it didn’t say heavy “whipping” cream – does that make a difference?) and beat it until guess what – it became butter…  I then added the other ingredients which consisted of some sugar, melted chocolate chips and some strong coffee that was prepared in advance and long story short it just literally fell apart in the bowl…  Didn’t thicken at all.  I even tried to add more corn starch but it was a soupy mess.  I had over whipped the cream but seriously how do you know when to stop before it becomes butter??  I will also buy heavy whipping cream next time just to see if there is a difference.

I was so angry and was ready to throw the entire cake and frosting away and run to the grocery store when Jim asked what I was planning on doing with the cake.  I said why don’t we just try it and at least see how it tastes.  If it’s OK, maybe I’ll just pick up some frosting from the grocery store.  He was happy I said that (and surprised because he knew how mad I was) but he cut a sliver from the cake and tried it.  Then he cut a piece exactly opposite from his first cut (basically cutting one layer in half) to let me try it.  Then he pushed the two halves together…

A little frosting and no one will know the difference!!

IT WAS ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS!!

So off I run to the grocery store thinking I would buy one of those new Cool Whip frostings (my Hubby’s idea) that they have been advertising, but unfortunately

(or should I say of course!!)

they weren’t out yet at the time…  I instead found the new Dunkin Hines Frosting Creations where you buy a canister of frosting and an individual flavoring packet.  I was thrilled to find a Mocha flavored one…  PERFECT!

It tasted good (very sweet!) but it worked…

At this point the cakes were out of their pans, on cooling racks

and

had

fallen…

I mean I’ve heard of cakes falling before, but had never seen a cake fall to this extent…  I flipped a cake layer over and placed it on top of the other cake layer thinking it would look better but didn’t make any freaking difference whatsoever!

No exaggeration – the center of the two cakes when it was together was about a half-inch thick.

I wish I had some fruit at the time that I could have mounded in the center of the cake!  I made the best of it.  Frosted it and dubbed it

Crater Cake…

When it was time for dessert, I brought it out to Mom, and we all had a good laugh at the expense of my (lack of) baking skills, but it did really taste delicious.  So delicious that I will try it again.

I now know that too much sugar can cause a cake to fall, and I definitely had added too much sugar and the house may have been too muggy – does that cause a cake to fall?  I’ll have to Google that one…

Jim Update:

Jim and I walked 1.4 miles a few weeks ago.  He did great, and I was really proud that he pushed himself.  We did stop a few times so he could rest and catch his breath so it took approximately an hour.

Now Jim has not been feeling that well over the past couple of weeks, and his weight has increased which is a sign of too much fluid (volume).  Also, when he’s sleeping at night his breathing is very raspy.  You could even tell from how he was talking that he was very short of breath.  For some reason his breathing capacity has diminished in the past few weeks.  That was a change that really disturbed me.

Something is wrong…

He finally felt bad enough to call the clinic a few days ago, and they increased his diuretics but this time it was like the diuretics stopped working.  They added another, more potent diuretic, and asked him to come in this morning for an Echocardiogram (echo), and they were going to adjust his LVAD settings to see if that would improve his symptoms.

I was in the room while they did the echo and “played” with the settings of his LVAD.  There were three doctors, two radiologists plus me and one of the LVAD Clinic Coordinators, Darlene.  Darlene came over to me and said I don’t think there were this many people in the room when they did his surgery.

LOL – she is too funny.

I did want to take a photo for the blog – it was comforting watching all five of them really focusing on Jim…  I chickened out though and didn’t take the picture but vowed next time – I will take one…

I think I said that with the last photo op I chickened out on… 🙂

They increased the RPMs of his LVAD pump and watched the echo to see the affect.  When they were done, they asked Jim to stand up and immediately the LVAD monitor went flat line.  That gives doctors a lot of information…

NOTE:  Not flat line like we see on TV…

When you sit for a period of time and then stand up and sometimes get lightheaded, that’s because for a few seconds, blood levels have dropped.  This is normal and can happen with everyone…

With LVADers, there is a “suction” that happens because not enough blood is being sent to the heart but the pump is still working.  They immediately told Jim to sit back down, and they actually ended up lowering his LVAD pump RPMs to less than what it was when he walked in the place.

They admitted that they had expected to see the right side of his heart not working properly but thankfully it actually showed improvement, and had shrunk from his echo of a year ago.

A good thing…

They were able to rule out anything bad at this point but wanted some blood work done and depending on how the blood work comes out, they are thinking of adding that potent diuretic to his pill regimen on a once-a-week basis to see if that helps.

If he doesn’t improve, they are going to have to “go in” (probably do a cardiac catheterization), and see if they can find out what’s going on.  Ugh!!

I will say that since Jim took that potent diuretic, his breathing last night was much improved – quieter.  But he still gets breathless when having a conversation.  I don’t like that…

This is the life of an LVADer.  Always trying to maintain a very delicate balance and trying to stay on top of any changes that could be signals of something going wrong.

That’s it for now.  What are your plans for the long weekend?  Even though the weather isn’t supposed to cooperate, it can still be FUN :)!!

Take care and LOTS OF LOVE to you guys!!

Cheryl

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LVAD FRIENDS

Hi. Boy you don’t hear from me in weeks and now two posts in one day!! I forgot to mention a great Facebook page.  It’s called LVAD FRIENDS and its a great resource for people with LVADs and their caregivers.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/132128480175232/

Take care!!

Cheryl

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Infection / Fluid Buildup

Hi all, how are you doing. Good here.  Just got in from taking Jim back to Tufts.  Hopefully, this will be a quick visit.  They were watching a pocket of fluid in his abdominal and apparently it got larger.  They want to drain it because they are thinking this might in fact be the source of his infection!!  Let’s do this!  Tap that pool and let’s get rid of this infection!!

Thats it for now. Will write more as soon as I know more.

Lots of love, Cheryl

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