Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

HOW did it get to be February already? I must say, though, I am glad to see the end of January. It started out with us being locked in by snow and ice and just finished up being grey and cold. Yesterday and this morning the ice was back on some of the roads and our high today was about 16°.

I’ll get the unpleasant news out of the way first. Last week my leg started paining me more than usual. In fact, at times it was almost as bad as it ever was to begin with. I told someone you can tell the difference between a “getting better” pain and a “something’s wrong” pain and this was definitely the latter. The wound was leaking through the bandage making it unpleasant and I had to keep sleeping with a towel or a pad on the bed. Because it was wet it started rubbing again on my ankle and the side of my leg making that raw.

When I got to the hospital on Thursday I wasn’t sure what the nurses would say. I had both Janice and Tanya standing there looking at it and frowning so I knew it wasn’t good news. Tanya asked, “What have you been doing?” and I said, “Nothing different, I don’t know why it’s like this.” It seems to have gone a step back in the healing process. I think maybe my body is just tired of fighting and might have decided to take a break. I’m back to a bigger bandage again and with the district nurses coming in to bandage me twice a week rather than once. And Robbie was hoping by now not to have to go to the hospital every week....

I’m claiming two steps forward, though, and also sharing it with you, my friends and family so you can keep me on the “straight and narrow” with encouragement or well-placed kicks on the behind! I know it’s a little late for New Year’s Resolutions but actually, it’s never too late to start a positive habit. Today, being the first day of a new week, of a new month, of a new year was as good a time to start as any. My first habit I want to continue is to write 1000 words a day. This may sound like a lot but according to my Microsoft Word’s count I’ve already written 407 words so I’m almost halfway there for the day! The second is to continue to be more faithful with my daily Bible reading. Ben is my example and my model but I’m afraid I’m not quite as faithful as he has been. I’m also sure that it’s one of the reasons I’ve been so full of despair and unhappiness lately. I’ve definitely felt a disconnect in my spiritual life. It also doesn’t help that I haven’t been able to get out to church for a while either.

This Saturday we hosted the monthly prayer group. We’ve had really good turnouts the last few times and our living room is pretty much full. This week we had 8 people come, which was great. Abigail, who organizes them always tells me it’s not necessary to go to a lot of trouble making things or going to a lot of fuss but I hope by now she has learned that I never listen to her! No, really, I told her last month when we set this one up for the end of January that I feel it’s the only thing I can really do for the church and it’s no trouble it’s a pleasure. I feel I do little enough as it is.

I did hold back a little this time. I wanted things that people didn’t need forks or spoons to eat—finger foods in other words. I wanted to make a cake but then I thought, I’ll make cupcakes because a cake would need to be cut and eaten with forks. I’ve used up all my Duncan Hines cake mixes so I had to make it from scratch. I can get Betty Crocker mixes here but I’ve never liked them. I used a recipe I’ve made before: Williamsburg Orange Cake. Boy, do I miss my Kitchen Aid mixer! I just have a dinky hand mixer that’s not very powerful so the cake wasn’t as fine as I would have liked it. It took forever to beat as it was. I also made an orange frosting and topped them with a mandarin orange slice (since the frosting wasn’t an orange color I wanted people to know what they were, plus the orange slice hid my messy frosting work!).

For these things I like to have a sweet and a savory so I just made sandwiches—ham, some with mustard and some without and cucumber sandwiches (with my secret spread). We also put out the fancy cookies (biscuits) we got for Christmas and a little bowl of chocolates (also from Christmas) hoping to get rid of some of them. It wasn’t all that difficult and it made a good variety along with pots and pots of tea.

The prayer time was really special this time too. We usually spend time hearing about Christians in countries like Somalia, North Korea or Pakistan who have been suffering persecution and spend time praying for them. Sometimes we even hear about specific people who have gone through terrible suffering. One of the men brought a laptop and played about 10 minutes of updates from a website called Open Doors. It can be very sad.

As I said earlier, the district nurses have to come in twice a week now: Sunday and Tuesday, so I wasn’t able to get to church again, unfortunately. Since I had so many cupcakes left over (the recipe made 20—or that’s how many I ended up with) I had Robbie take them to church with him for the tea after service. There was also an afternoon service since it was the last Sunday of the month that is usually attended by the more elderly members and they all like to stay after for tea or coffee so I knew they could use some extra baked goods.

Since I’ve been talking about cooking I have to tell you about this chicken pot pie I made Wednesday for dinner. It was so simple and turned out so good I got raves from the usually taciturn Robbie. He said it could give Gordon Ramsey a run for his money but the man exaggerates so! Ha ha. I’ve never made a chicken pie before and it all came about because I was running out of room in the freezer and had to use up this pie crust I’d bought last month. I’d never tried store-bought frozen pie crust here before and I had gotten it last month to make mince pies but them I got sick so it’s been taking up room in the freezer. I had toyed with the idea of making a pie for the prayer meeting (before I realized I didn’t want to have to have anything that needed a fork) but I wanted to try out this ready made crust before I went to the bother of making my own pie crust (boy do I hate that).

So, the pie crust and some frozen chicken breasts (I’d already used up the weekly hamburger) and a can of mushrooms clinched it. I thought about making it a ham and chicken pie but that would leave Robbie without anything for his sandwiches or use Spam---no...I don’t think so. So here’s what I did:

I poached 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, ½ an onion, chopped, 1 potato cut into large chunks, 1 carrot, halved, salt and pepper and at the last minute I threw in a handful of frozen peas. Gently cook this till the chicken is done and let cool. When it was cooled (and after 2 loads of laundry) I chopped the chicken and vegetables into smaller bite-size pieces. Oops! I had planned this to be just a chicken and mushroom pie and now I’ve got all these other vegetables...oh well, throw in the can of drained mushrooms anyway. Now for a gravy... I thought about the whole roux, flour, chicken stock, gravy, etc. etc. and then had to go out for another load of laundry. By the time I got in I thought, phooey, I don’t feel like bothering so I just mixed the chicken and vegetables all together with a can of undiluted cream of chicken soup. I was afraid it might make it all taste a little too “prepared” but the consistency was perfect because it bound the filling together without being too runny like gravy might have. In the end it tasted great. You couldn’t tell it was canned soup at all. I had to use a cake pan because with all the vegetables and chicken it was too much for the pie pan so it ended up being a deep-dish chicken pie. I like a top and bottom crust to my pot pie so I used both prepared crusts and baked it till the crust was browned. Robbie even made “yummy” noises when he was eating and gave it the thumbs up so I’ll be making that again. Good on a winter’s night.

So, 1564 words so far and that should take care of my quota for today! Plus I even exercised by watching “Chairobics” on TV this afternoon. I’m trying! Hope you are having lots of success with something new today! Lots of Love!