Enjoy – Trillia J. Newbell

Enjoy: Finding the Freedom to Delight Daily in God’s Good Gifts by Trillia J. Newbell

Throughout Enjoy, Newbell incorporated references to Bible verses and also “The Enjoy Project” at the end of chapters – making this read not only perfect for a discussion setting but great for including in personal devotion time. Enjoy can be savored as a light read, but also used as an in-depth tool for spiritual growth. Having those options was one of the best parts of reading this book.

Newbell's novel to encourage and show us that God's creation is a gift to us - not meant to cause us guilt, but to be savored as pointing to our Creator.

Not Only For Women:

Although primarily geared towards women, Enjoy is applicable towards men as well, and can be a useful tool for either sex. As evidenced by the title, Newbell crafted a novel to show us that we can enjoy (no pun intended) God’s creation without feeling guilty. Creation is one of God’s many gifts to us! Without shirking from touchier subjects (like sex), Newbell gently helps us discern whether we are enjoying something, or idolizing it.

Newbell helpfully added some perspective to several verses, including Genesis 1:28 within the pages of Enjoy; on pg. 15 she reminded us that “we must steward his [God’s] world to the best of our ability”. We have dominion over the world, but also a responsibility to it because of the privilege we have been given.

An immensely thought-provoking read, Enjoy helped me to notice aspects of everyday life that I never thought significant before. It also helped me realize where I have some correction to apply in my own life. For instance, on pg 7 Newbell brings our attention to the fact that God knew man would turn from Him even as He created us, and yet He still declared all that He had made, including man, very good! (Genesis 1:31)

Included Recommendations:

Several times while reading Enjoy, I noticed that Newbell included recommendations for works by other authors. It is wonderful to see not only that she supports other writers, but that additional support is given on various topics that aren’t addressed as thoroughly in this novel.

Reading Enjoy inspired me to start a project of my own to savor God’s creation and gifts to us more thoroughly. I recommend this book to any reader who wants to be challenged and grow spiritually.

 

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Buffalo Blue Cheese Stuffed Potatoes

Apparently I’m on a buffalo blue cheese kick at the moment, but boy are the results yummy! These stuffed potatoes are easy to make, and great for a small lunch or even a larger appetizer. These also fall into the “comfort food” category for me, so on these chilly days that are dark and gloomy (and rainy!) it kind of cheers me up. Just be careful not to rely on comfort food very often – it can be a hard habit to kick with detrimental results for your waistline (and self-esteem). It’s okay to enjoy your food, as long as it doesn’t become a coping mechanism. (I.E. be careful, but enjoy.)

Hot and delicious, these stuffed potatoes will fill your belly in a satisfying way.

Ingredients:
  • 2 large potatoes
  • 1- 12.5 oz can chicken breast, drained
  • blue cheese dressing (to taste)
  • *Frank’s Original hot sauce (to taste)
  • 8oz cheddar cheese, grated (divided)
  • crackers (like Ritz or Club), crushed (optional)
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • garlic powder
  • Italian seasoning
  • sour cream (optional)
Potato Cooking Methods:
Option #1 (and alternate suggestions):

The goal here is a baked potato, so you can use any method preferred. The options provided are simply quick, fairly easy methods that produce the desired results. There is a paper bag method that works well, or you can wrap the potatoes in foil and bake them in the oven until soft when pricked with a fork. A lesser known option (the one I used) is to “bake” the potatoes in a cloth potato bag. You scrub the potatoes, wrap them in a damp paper towel (do NOT prick them) and put them inside the bag. Then you microwave them until soft (I did two large potatoes together and it took 12 minutes).

The potato bag I have was a gift, and the person who gave it to me bought it homemade. It has a very pretty sunflower design on the fabric. The point is, there are different styles of bags out there. You can buy them online (example of similar bag to what I used) from web retailers, you can make one, you might even be able to find them at a flea market or from a family friend. No matter how you get your bag, follow the instructions provided. The times I provided are for the bag I used, and may be different with a different bag.

Option #2:

Before I had a cloth potato bag, I put the potatoes (prick them well with a fork) on a large plate with enough water to cover the bottom of the plate (but not make a mess). Then I covered the plate with waxed paper, and put it in the microwave for about 10 min. Then flip the (very hot) potatoes with a fork, and cook them for another 5 min or until soft. Actual cooking times depend on the amount of potatoes being cooked, and the size of said potatoes. This process takes longer and is more involved, but it doesn’t heat up the kitchen and is faster than the oven method.

Making the Filling:

Set oven to 350.

In a medium bowl, break the chicken breast into small pieces. I usually use a spoon and “chop” at it. It helps the flavors blend better, and then you don’t have large chunks of plain chicken. (Feel free to cook chicken breast instead of using canned, I simply used canned because it was faster, easier, and cheaper.) Add desired amount of blue cheese dressing, hot sauce, and about 6 oz of cheddar cheese. Set aside.

When the potatoes are soft, cut them in half lengthwise and carefully scrape out the potato. I left a thin layer intact to support the skin and make a sturdier “bowl”. Add the scraped out potato to the chicken mixture for the stuffed potatoes. Set mixture aside.

Prep the Hollowed Out Potato:

Spray or brush the hollowed out potatoes with olive oil and lightly sprinkle on salt and pepper. Place in oven for about 15 min, or until slightly browned and the skin feels a little crispy.

Fill potatoes with chicken mixture. Sprinkle on leftover cheese and crushed crackers (if using). Bake for about 10 min or until hot and cheese is melted.

Serving Yummy Stuffed Potatoes:

Serve with sour cream (if desired, I preferred sour cream on mine) or additional blue cheese dressing and hot sauce (my husband preferred it this way. I found it to be a little overwhelming to have so much blue cheese spice going on). We also sprinkled Italian seasoning and garlic powder over ours before eating.

Buffalo Blue Cheese Stuffed Potatoes - yum!

Enjoy!

 

*NOTES*

I specifically mentioned Frank’s brand hot sauce because that is my favorite hot sauce to cook with. In my opinion, it has the perfect ratio of spice to flavor to add to dishes without overpowering the other ingredients. I don’t like Frank’s nearly as well to add to dishes for seasoning AFTER they are prepared, unless the hot sauce is already included in the recipe. Frank’s in no way sponsored this post, and did not ask me to write this. This is my personal opinion; using Frank’s brand is a suggestion. Feel free to use any hot sauce you like. 

 

Relieving Stress: 8 Reasons Leftovers Are Wonderful

Day to day life gives more stress than many feel possible to bear. Why do we add even more stress by adhering to some mysterious obligation to cook every night? It is possible to not eat out, and also not cook every night … and that is where leftovers come into play. You still get the delicious healthiness of a homemade meal (because it is homemade!) without the pressure of needing a plan for dinner every night of the week.

There is so much to love about leftovers, and yet many people despise them. Here's 8 reasons they are wonderful!

Two Sides:

When it comes to leftover food from meals, there seems to be two main sides: the lovers, and the …eh hem … people who are most definitely not fond of them. It is always shocking to me when people who hate leftovers and can’t afford to go out to eat often also hate cooking (but are good cooks). If the person who created the meal is a good cook, then why would the leftovers not be enjoyable? There are often times when dishes are good the first night, but even better as leftovers (because the flavors have had more time to meld).

Reasons Leftovers Are Great Options:
  • They provide a homemade meal that takes little effort to reheat (hello, microwave!) – great for busy adults
  • Homemade leftover meals are typically much healthier than fast food or frozen meals (and you can control how healthy/unhealthy they are when the meal is initially prepared)
  • If you loved the meal the first time, you can enjoy the same dish again without having to make it again.
  • Making a big batch of a meal and eating it as leftovers throughout the week is usually cheaper than preparing just enough food for the first meal.
  • When you make big batches, you can easily use up larger quantities of ingredients and not have to worry about how to use them, or about leftover ingredients going bad in the refrigerator.
  • Some leftovers (like soup) can even be frozen and reheated months later when you want it again (a great option if it’s a meal you don’t want often).
  • You can save money on your utility bills by reheating leftovers instead of turning on the oven to cook a fresh meal – using inside ovens heats up your home and makes your air conditioning work harder (raising your electric bill).
  • Preparing food to eat as leftovers throughout the week can help you stick to a diet or healthy eating plan more easily – if you can quickly reheat a healthy meal and assuage your hunger, you are less likely to eat quick (often unhealthy) snacks that happen to be nearby OR get so hungry that you binge eat.

Are you sold yet? I’ll give you some time to think it over …

Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason – Helen Fielding

Strangely enough, this book was not one I picked for myself. A book I ordered online did not come; this book by Fielding came in its place. With a little bit of back and forth with the seller, we were given a refund and told we could decide what happened to this book – no need to ship it back. If we didn’t want the book, it could be donated.

Fielding's book The Edge of Reason definitely got a reaction from me as a reader - and not necessarily a positive one. This book makes an impression.

You know me, I couldn’t resist reading an (unexpected) free book! (Even if it was the second in an unfamiliar series.) The book definitely garnered a reaction from me (oftentimes an angry reaction), so I decided to share my opinions on it.

Entering the World of Bridget Jones:

For the first half of this book I only had complaints – the book reads as thoughts from Bridget’s head, which means unless it is a direct conversation, the “sentences” are almost always incomplete. That drove me absolutely bonkers throughout this novel and I almost stopped reading due to it.

Time is marked by dates, and under each date is a short note from Bridget about her weight and caloric intake along with other information about the day. Although I couldn’t find a mention of Bridget’s actual height, it was distressing to read her constantly fretting about weighing 130 lb (give or take). Seeing as The Edge of Reason reads as if primarily geared towards young adult readers, it seems that it would be detrimental to those same readers to have yet another character thrusting numbers at them about how much is okay to weigh and how many calories are *too* many. Not to mention, Bridget and her friends are heavy drinkers, and at one point experiment with *natural* (still illegal) drugs.

The obsession Bridget, Jude, and Shaz have with dating/self-help genre novels is frankly rather distressing, but I’m happy to report that was one of the things that improved towards the second half of the novel.

(Offensive) Shock Value Techniques:

In the first half, Fielding randomly incorporated a boy with supposed schizophrenia for no visible purpose other than shock value, which I was angry about. The addition of the boy was unnecessary – he only appeared in the story for a short time and quickly disappeared again – and was also very unhelpful for the general fear about mental illnesses. Another anger-inducing slight to people with mental illnesses in their loved ones was found on pg. 152, when a homosexual character claimed he didn’t want to talk (due to sad feelings about an ex-boyfriend) “Because I have lost my former personality and become a manic-depressive.” Fielding does realize that mental illness does not work that way, right?

There were other, slightly less offensive things included for shock value, but the book did get better sometime after the halfway mark. There were a few things funny enough that I laughed out loud, and at the end it seemed that Bridget had grown since the beginning of the novel.

Final Thoughts:

All in all, I would not want to read this book again – or anything else by this author – but I am glad to have stuck with it until the end. The story ends well, but it is still not recommended reading material for those who have less self-confidence or sense of self.

Not Quite Green Bean Casserole

Green bean casserole has never been a favorite of mine. I recently stumbled upon an interesting concept, though – green beans topped with similar ingredients to what you would find in the casserole, instead of being in casserole form. In this format, each person could control how much green beans they got versus how much topping – count me in!

Traditional green bean casserole has everyone eating the same ratios of saucey green beans, but this revamp lets the person decide their own ratios!

The recipe is fairly easy, and yummy as well.

Ingredients:
  • 1 pkg bacon
  • 1 lb green beans
  • 3 tbsp butter, oil, or bacon fat (what I used)
  • 6 stalks green onion, finely chopped
  • 6 mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 tbsp cheap off-dry white wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
  • 1/4 c beef broth
  • 1 c sour cream
  • 1 c parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • parmesan cheese for topping, optional (to taste)
  • french fried onions, optional (to taste)
Green Bean “Casserole” How To:

Cook the bacon until crispy but not burned. Let it cool, and then crumble it up or finely chop it. If you want, you can save the fat for using some of later in the recipe. If you prefer not to cook bacon, you can buy bacon already cooked and crumbed (or leave it out altogether).

Remove both ends from all of the green beans, and without cutting them smaller heat them in a pan of water over med. heat until cooked to your preferred tenderness (I cooked mine roughly 5-10 min. I’m not sure of the exact time because I was prepping other ingredients. They were tender but not at all mushy). If you prefer, steaming would be a great way to cook them.

While the green beans are cooking, heat your cooking fat (butter, oil, or bacon fat) in a medium saucepan until warm enough to saute. Add the green onion. Cook until soft, then add the sliced mushrooms. Stir frequently. When the mushrooms have shrunk, add the garlic and Italian seasoning. Mix well.

There should be a bit of juice in your pan at this point. Add the flour, and stir until there are no flour lumps. Add the wine and stir until thoroughly combined. Add the broth and sour cream. Stir. Once small bubbles start rising in the mixture, add the cheese and stir until cheese is melted. Add bacon and combine.

To Serve:

Plate your desired amount of green beans, and drizzle sauce over them. You can use as much or as little sauce as you want. Top with parmesan cheese and french fried onions. Enjoy!

Not Quite Green Bean Casserole

 

Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey Wall Art

It’s been said before how crafts like this Wibbly Wobbly wall art are good distractions for people with mental illnesses (or other stress). Although this post is a bit late for Christmas (it was originally intended to be a Christmas present, and I didn’t want the recipient to see it early) it can still be a birthday present – or a present to yourself …

This idea was based on a picture I saw online that said, “whatever, I’m late anyways”. The idea was great, and I wanted to do something with it for a present. When my husband and I were discussing presents one day and I showed him the picture, he (jokingly) suggested “wibbly wobbly timey wimey” (from Doctor Who, if you aren’t familiar). Since my sister loves Doctor Who, and both her birthday and Christmas were coming up, it was settled.

Birthdays are always coming up and fans of The Doctor are everywhere! This is a piece of wall art I made for an upcoming family birthday. It was fun and easy to make, so here's how it's done.

Materials:
    • 22 in x 28 in canvas (or larger if you want to do the whole clock) – I got mine at Michael’s. Look for sales, I got mine in a 2 day sale for 70% off.

22"x28" canvas

    • 250 ml tube of paint (choose a lighter color so the letters and numbers stand out) – I used bright aqua green acrylic paint from Michael’s. The size I purchased does not appear to be available online, but it was $11. I recommend looking for a sale.

250 ml bright aqua green acrylic paint

    • 2 – 12 ml tubes of paint (choose a dark color, I used black and violet. You could also just use one color.) I already had mine from other projects. I only added the size to let you know that it doesn’t take much – the size I used was more than enough. It also appears the size I used is only available in sets of several tubes. In-store, Michael’s has a large selection paints similar to the one I linked to for .50 – $1.00.
    • letters and numbers (I used a wooden 250 piece set from Michael’s, which has plenty of letters to spell “wibbly wobbly timey wimey” as well as all of the necessary numbers for the clock). You can also use stickers, or paint yours on.

250 piece wooden number and letter set

    • clock hands (I got mine from Wish – if you go that route be warned that shipping usually takes about a month. They are very cheap, though, and I couldn’t find them anywhere else, so plan ahead. You could also paint these on if you wanted).

3 piece clock hands from Wish

Other Materials (You Probably Already Have):
  • 2 paint brushes (you’ll want one that’s at least an inch wide, and a small one for painting the letters.)
  • paper plate or paint tray
  • protection for whatever surface you’ll be working on (I use a large piece of paper that came as stuffing in a package I got in the mail.)
  • wax paper (optional) – this is good for setting the letters on while they dry. They come off really easily after drying.
  • hot glue gun
  • hot gun glue sticks
How To:

Using the 250 ml paint, coat the entire front and sides of the canvas. After it dries, paint another coat, even if you don’t think it needs it – you’ll be happy about this later when your project looks great! It’s important to wait for the first coat to dry before applying the second coat so you can get proper coverage.

If you bought wooden letters and numbers, or pieces that need to be painted – with the two 12 ml tubes of paint, cover the front and sides of each of your letters and numbers. Do not paint the back – it is unnecessary since the pieces will be glued to a canvas. I used black on the numbers and violet on the letters. Only one coat was necessary. Lay the pieces on wax paper to dry.

Painting the wooden numbers.

Numbers to Paint:
  • (1) – #0
  • (5) – #1
  • (2) – #2
  • (1 EACH) – #’s 3 through 9
Letters to Paint (spells “Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey”):
  • (4) – B
  • (2) – E
  • (3) – I
  • (2) – L
  • (2) – M
  • (1) – O
  • (1) – T
  • (3) – W
  • (4) – Y

Of course, check my figures to make sure you have the correct amount of each letter and number. I’m only human, and do make mistakes. 

Once your canvas and pieces are dry, arrange the pieces on the canvas. Make sure you lay out the clock pieces too, so you can put the numbers the proper distance away. You want to get an idea of the look you are going for before you attach them. I arranged mine like this:

Unfinished canvas

This is the unfinished canvas. After this photo was taken, I decided to put a number 1 on the top left, as if part of the 11 was still in place on the clock. You can arrange yours however you want. If you wanted, you could even do the full clock (you would need a larger canvas) and have various pieces missing from the clock and either falling or lying beneath the clock (as seen on this canvas).

After you find the look you want, it’s time to break out your hot glue gun and hot glue sticks.

Hot Glue Time:

I recommend leaving the pieces in place, and picking them up one at a time to apply the hot glue. After applying the glue, put the piece back in place firmly, and then move on to the next piece. That way, you don’t have to mark the canvas for positions and you can still have a good idea of where the piece goes. It won’t be in exactly the same place as before (unless you have a really good memory and can place a piece precisely on the first try) but it will still look great. It might even look better than how you had it arranged before!

Don’t glue the clock hands yet – work on the numbers before that. It is a good idea to glue certain clock numbers first – for instance, on my clock I glued the numbers 12, 3, and 6 first. These numbers determine the positions of the other numbers. Even in cases where the numbers are falling, it is good to have these base numbers down as a marker. Always keep in mind the length of your clock hands (you can probably trim them if absolutely necessary, but be careful not to leave any sharp edges).

Don’t Glue the Clock Hands Yet:

After you have glued all of your numbers, bend the NOT YET GLUED clock hands (GENTLY!) so that they come out from the canvas. If you have already glued the hands, you can either leave them unbent, or attempt to very carefully bend them. Bending them after they are glued is simply a little more difficult – but bending adds to the unbalanced (wibbly wobbly) look of the clock.

If your clock hands are from Wish, then they will fit together with the hour hand on the bottom, the minute hand in the middle, and the second hand on the top. After placing them together, glue the underside of the hour hand where the all join. The hands from Wish have a small metal piece here, and if you apply plenty of glue it will help hold all three pieces together. You can also glue the places near the metal where the hands overlap. The glue that overflows from that section will be used to fasten the hands to the canvas, so after you glue them together, carefully place them in position on the clock.

Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey – Finished Product:

Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey Wall Art

It took me 3 days to finish this entire piece. Most of that time was waiting for the paint on the various pieces to dry. It’s not hard at all, and was enjoyable to work on.

Have fun!

The Witch Of Lime Street by David Jaher

The Witch of Lime Street: Séance, Seduction, and Houdini in the Spirit World
By: David Jaher

In a captivating narration of a face-off between the accomplished escape-artist Houdini and the charming hostess of 10 Lime Street, Jaher draws us into the unknown. Houdini has stunned audiences everywhere with his daring feats, but he desperately wants to communicate with someone he loved and lost – his mother. With a slow build, Jaher sets the scenario and introduces the cast. In an unfulfilling search to contact his mother, Houdini exposes flimflam artists everywhere – he has a very definite view on what is acceptable or not, and taking advantage of those grieving loved ones falls into the “unacceptable” category. When Houdini befriends a huge proponent of the Spiritualist movement but remains unconvinced of the mediumship displayed being genuine, it isn’t long before a scientific contest to prove authentic mediums exist is established.

In this captivating narration, Jaher brings to life the show down between the witch, Margery, and Houdini - the escape artist.

Not a Typical Historical Read

Despite personal opinions on mediumship and séances, there were events in The Witch of Lime Street that had me as a reader baffled. As Jaher’s novel is depicting actual historical events, it would have been easy for the novel to come across as dry and boring, however that was not the case. Once the stage was set the novel drew me in and I was eager to discover what happened next. Houdini was a very complex, realistic character. Despite his pride and arrogance, he also came across as deeply layered – passionate about his cause and desperately determined to prevent “mediums” with nothing more than street tricks (something Houdini himself was very familiar with) from fooling the bereaved.

The “witch” known as Margery was also a very complex, well-written character. Despite her background, Margery is described by all who meet her as cultured and of a far better stock than a typical run-of-the-mill medium. Despite the rigorous testing Margery is put through (and tolerates with good humor) in order to determine whether or not her mediumship is genuine, Margery offers very little resistance and continues to go above and beyond as an excellent hostess. As Jaher introduces more information about Margery, as a reader you start to realize the difficult position Margery is in. She is a character that induces a sympathetic response the more you understand her.

More Information Would Be Nice

It would have been nice to hear more about involvement from Bess, Houdini’s wife (she is mostly present at the beginning and end of the novel, and not in any major way) however, with the sources Jaher worked with for this novel it is understandable that she may not have been mentioned much (and this story does not revolve around her). I also would have very much liked to have read whether any verdict on the Crandon’s involvement with the “lost boys” was determined – and if not the Crandon’s, where were those children? Jaher briefly introduces the mystery in the chapter entitled “Lost Boys” (pg. 345), but doesn’t tell us of any solution.

Typically, historical novels are not in my zone of interest, but The Witch of Lime Street was a fascinating read and I’m glad to have read it. Jaher primarily came across as pro-Spiritualist, but he still presented the story with countless sources as evidence to back him and without noticeably skewing the facts either way. For those who wish to review Jaher’s sources, he lists them in the back of the novel.

 

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Why I’m Saying “No” to Seeing the Doctor

Before we go too far, let me reassure you – the doctor in this case is a medical doctor, not a psychiatrist. Feeling reassured? Good!

After years of appointments that never find a diagnosis or a solution, I'm done agreeing to be poked and prodded for various tests. I'm saying "no" to seeing the doctor.

Issues That Don’t Leave

For as long as I can remember, I have had a few issues that have never gone away – despite countless doctor visits and more medicine than I care to remember. One of these issues is earaches. My ears hurt almost constantly, and the pain only alternates between ‘ignorable’, ‘tolerable’ and ‘unbearable’. It is worse at night, since I sleep on my side. My pillows are arranged oddly for this purpose – layered with one overlapping the other so there is less pressure on my ear when I sleep. I can’t stand to put things in my ears, but I have over the counter ear drops for pain when it is unbearable.

Migraines are also an issue for me (when I don’t have a migraine I almost always have a headache), and stomach problems (meaning throwing up a lot and not being able to help it). Both of these come and go and sometimes seem to be connected. (If I have a migraine I often start to throw up. Earaches can also make me throw up if the pain is bad enough.) Unfortunately, the throwing up happens much more often than the migraines do. Growing up, getting sick constantly was a problem for several years – and no, I did not have any eating disorder. The older I’ve gotten, the longer the breaks are between ‘episodes’ – I might go months without throwing up, but then throw up almost daily for weeks.

Doctors and Tests

My concerned parents took me to doctor after doctor. These doctors would recommend specialists, who would order all kinds of tests – with no noteworthy result (other than costing lots of money). They had all kinds of ‘answers’ – acid reflux, my stomach empties slowly, blah blah blah – but no answers to the migraines, headaches, or earaches. Well, no answers other than, “these aren’t physical problems” (it’s all in your head).

Even for the intense earaches, I have only been diagnosed with an ear infection once. Two years ago, a doctor looked into my ears (years after the only ear infection diagnosis) and mentioned I had a lot of scarring on my eardrums. Doesn’t that indicate that this IS a physical problem? Isn’t that some kind of proof that this is not all in my head?! This has always been a losing battle, though, and I have given up.

Chronic Illness

I have family (not blood related, marriage related) with chronic illnesses. 90% of the time, anything I hear about them is that they are in the hospital, seeing a doctor, or having some kind of test run. They have an official diagnosis for their problem, (which took years to get) and they still don’t have a solution! (Unless you count enough prescriptions that they could open their own pharmacy). In their case, going to the doctor and receiving treatment is life or death. They still have more problems than they started with, though, due to all of the medications they are on. Obese? Check. Nerve damage? Check. I could go on, but I’ll spare you. My point is, I have a choice.

Not Life or Death

Earaches, migraines, headaches, vomiting – they are miserable – but they are not life or death. I can decide whether or not to be a human guinea pig for a doctor that has no idea why I’m sick (and probably won’t figure it out for a long time, if ever). Doctors had their chance to help me. YEARS of chances. From everything I have seen about chronic problems, though, they do not go away. The reason doctors can’t figure out what is wrong, is because they don’t have a solution. Sure, they can prescribe something for the pain, but I have over the counter pain killers for that. After years of doctors visits and testing, I would rather rely on pain killers that don’t entirely kill the pain than doctors with their bundle of prescriptions and all of the tests they want to run.

With over the counter pain medicine, I don’t need a doctor, or insurance, or to wait in a waiting room for an hour. An appointment isn’t necessary, and I don’t have to keep hearing that since the doctor can’t figure out what is wrong (and doesn’t want to admit it) that it’s all in my head. I don’t have to suffer the side effects from the prescription medicines, and I’m saving a crap ton of money. Yes, the pain is miserable – but so are doctors that don’t know what the problem is.

I HAVE A CHOICE.

My situation is not life or death. I will not be a guinea pig for doctors to poke and prod until they think they know the problem.

Goodbye, doctors.

 

Sincerely,

A Frustrated Ex-Patient

After You – Jojo Moyes

Recently, I picked up ‘Me Before You’ (also by Jojo Moyes – here’s my review) at the recommendation of my sister-in-law. It was extremely sad (I cried afterwards) but a very well written piece of work. After experiencing ‘Me Before You’, I was hesitant to read ‘After You’ (it’s the 2nd book to ‘Me Before You’) – I didn’t want my heart broken by a book again! However, Moyes talent drew me in again, and I read ‘After You’.

In a beautifully written piece of work, Moyes draws us into Lou's world yet again. Although 'After You' is at times heartbreaking, it was definitely worth the read.

‘After You’, a Review:

‘After You’ did not break my heart in the same intense way as ‘Me Before You’. That’s not to say that this was not a sad book in any way – it was sad at times – but the overall tone of the book was not particularly sad.

An extremely unexpected character shows up in Louisa’s (Lou’s) life (with disastrous results) and Lou experiences life in a whole new way. Through plenty of time and the help of friends and family, Lou learns how to move on – and that it’s okay to live life to it’s fullest.

The characters in ‘After You’ are at times raw and painful, but real and relatable as well. Moyes crafts a story where all of the characters come to life. There were times when I was unable to put the book down because I had to know what happened next – there were also times when I was too horrified to continue reading.

‘After You’ didn’t leave me in a puddle of tears like the previous novel did, but the ending was so bittersweet and tender that I promptly described the entire storyline to my husband. It’s the kind of story that leaves you with the barest ache when it’s over, in part wishing it had continued (because it was real, and you were there) – but also in part glad it is over (because the intensity can get to you).

Please read ‘Me Before You’ before delving into ‘After You’, but I think you will thoroughly enjoy them both (and maybe not cry quite as much with the second novel). I will eagerly await any future writings from Jojo Moyes.

 

 

Exercising Memory: Calzones

Calzones aren’t difficult at all – but they do exercise your memory. With these calzones, we will make our own sauce and dough – so you definitely need to remember which step you’re on! It is beneficial to exercise our memories whether we have a mental illness or not, but especially if we do have a mental illness. Oftentimes, people with mental illnesses don’t have the best memories (which drives my husband crazy).

After hearing my sister talking about how she was making pizza for lunch, I started thinking about pizza-ish foods. I didn’t want a pizza, at least, not exactly … so a calzone sounded perfect.

We talk about food frequently – discussing a different recipe, she mentioned making her own pesto. I still had calzones on the brain – calzones with pesto instead of pizza sauce? Yes, please!

Made with homemade, yeast-free pizza dough and homemade pesto, this warm, cheesy calzone is sure to make your mouth water. It's time consuming, but well worth the wait.

**I highly recommend breaking this recipe into at least two days. You can make the dough and pesto the first day, and maybe prep the toppings (slicing bell pepper and mushrooms, grating cheese). The second day, you can put it all together.**

Starting with homemade dough:

If you have a favorite pizza dough recipe, that will work just fine. I used my favorite recipe, but didn’t have any yeast … so I made a few alterations.

This is a bread machine recipe.

  • 1 3/8 c water
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 tsp yogurt (I used vanilla greek yogurt)
  • 4 c flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda

Pour the water into the pan, along with the olive oil and yogurt. There is no need to mix anything. Put the flour on top of the liquid, try to keep it somewhat level. Add the baking soda on top of the flour. Set your machine to it’s dough setting. Mine took about 30 min.

Recipe yields 2lbs.

It did change the dough – the dough didn’t rise. Instead of a typical pizza dough, I ended up with a calzone with a crust similar to pita bread. It was delicious. If you want the usual pizza crust, feel free to stick to your recipe and use yeast.

*Note* If you would rather use yeast, this recipe originally used 2 tsp yeast rather than the baking soda and yogurt. Make a well in the center of the flour, and add your yeast in the well. Do not add any baking soda or yogurt. Set to dough setting.

Meanwhile, making pesto:
  • 2 c spinach (I used frozen but fresh will work better)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, more as necessary
  • 1 tbsp garlic, or to taste
  • Italian seasoning, to taste
  • basil, to taste

Combine all ingredients in Ninja or food processor. Add more olive oil as necessary until pesto is the desired consistency. Feel free to play around with different spices according to your tastes.

Made with homemade, yeast-free pizza dough and homemade pesto, this warm, cheesy calzone is sure to make your mouth water. It's time consuming, but well worth the wait.

Putting it all together:
  • pizza dough (recipe above)
  • pesto (recipe above)
  • desired toppings (I used) :
    • pepperoni
    • mushrooms, sliced
    • bell pepper, sliced
    • mozzarella cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 300.

Roll out pizza dough to about 1/4 – 1/2 an inch thick. You want it thin, but not thin enough to tear. My dough was very elastic, so it was more difficult to roll out.

Spread a large portion of pesto on the dough. It may seem like overkill, but with all of the toppings it isn’t a very strong flavor. Add your toppings to half of the dough, avoiding getting too close to the edges. Make sure to use a lot of toppings, so that you get plenty in each bite. You don’t want to do all of this work and only get crust in your calzone! Fold over the side of the dough with no toppings, and crimp the edges.

Spray or brush with olive oil and season the crust as desired. We sprinkled ours with garlic powder and Italian seasoning.

Bake in preheated oven for 1 hr 30 min. If you made yours small, they won’t take as long. I made ours very large. Check on them after 30 min. I flipped ours over using a metal spatula after 1 hr, then baked them for the last 30 min.

Enjoy!