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Friday, May 29, 2009

19 Weeks

The crutches are gone now. I returned them this week at physio. And it felt great! I am now pretty much doing all normal house-hold activities. My strategically placed chairs (in the bathroom, the kitchen, the shower, etc, placed for kneeling on) are all put back to their normal places. I can now put away laundry all by myself. I can now go get the meat out of the freezer to defrost for dinner. I can now put away the clean dishes at a normal pace, and not get hung up on the cupboard handles with the wheelchair. It feels so good to be independent again.

I am sewing again, and being creative again, and I love it. I didn't realize how much I missed everything, but now I remember why not having a tv has never left me bored. (Maybe you're confused, but we live above a garage, and all my sewing & craft related things are in the garage - so is the freezer!) Everything has been difficult to get to, and I was so sick of getting Adam to do everything for me, so I decided to wait until I could do things myself, ie, being able to carry things and walk downstairs to the garage to do my crafty thingies.

But despite all the goodness, and feelings of normal (I even had a dream this week where I went for a jog!) this week has been the slowest in recovery. I am so sore and achy, and was quite swollen this week. The nerve pain is still there, and hitting me in more random ways, not mainly at night anymore, but throughout the day. I don't think it's getting worse though, but it's definitely not getting better. I didn't go for walks everyday this week either, since I think standing, and doing chores was too much already. I'm finding it hard to just say to myself that I need a break, since it feels so good to be up and about.

I am having a hard time being patient. Being so close to the "finish line", but still being so far off at the same time is incredibly frustrating. I've been feeling a bit scared too, and had a rough day yesterday. I'm scared that this nerve pain will never go away (that can happen), and that I will always feel like I am wearing a ski boot, that I won't be able to go on a hike again, or go for a run on the beach. I'm just a bit scared.

There is still such a distance to go yet. Here is my progress photo. I touched the wall this week at physio, and my goal is to keep this level up for next week. I feel a little less ski-boot-ish, but it still feels as though I am flexing in a way that I shouldn't be allowed to. It's quite painful to push this position.

I cant wait for this to be over. I just want to be normal again.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Cupcakes

Even though I have not been craving them, how could I go a weekend without trying out my new goodies? I got to try a new cake recipe, and perfect the buttercream icing, and try out some new icing tips, food dyes, flavours & decorations.


The cake recipe is from Bakerella, as is the buttercream recipe. I found the cake slightly dry, but if you follow all of her tips, you might be able to make up for it. I thought the cake tasted best a day later, already iced. I suppose some of the moisture of the icing rehydrated the cake overnight. Also, my oven makes me mad and cooks things weirdly, so I am always scared of underbaking. But this was definitly the best white/yellow cake I have ever made from scratch.


Anyhow, I decided to have some fun with everything, and created these monstrosities. I was actually told they look 'poisonous'! But I wanted to test the limits, live on the edge (ha). I was surprised to see that even with that much colour I couldn't taste the dye. And I purposely bought a red dye, since that is usually the one you taste. (But I actually like the taste of red dye...you know, those waxy red roses from the grocery store bakery? And those red mashmallow strawberries from 7-11? Yummm.). I will definitly be buying more from Bake It Pretty.


The flavours were great too! The marshmallow was subtle, but worked so well with the buttercream, just giving it an extra special boost. Coffee was really good too, but now that I think of it, I could have just added some really strong instant coffee. But that depends on how moist you want your icing. The coffee has a brown tint, so if you want a natural coffee / mocha cupcake, don't even colour the icing. Just sprinkle on some cocoa, and put a nice coffee bean ontop, and it would look so elegant. I, of course, was not going for elegant. I was kind of going for gross, keeping the blackish icing for the rouded tip, to emulate...well, you guess. I was told as much too.



I need some more practice with the tips yet - pretty messy and lopsided right now. The icing/cake ratio is pretty awesome though. I did a few mini cupcakes, and they ended up being way too top heavy with icing, and the ratio was even too much for me. Anyhow, I am really happy with my new tips, colours, flavours, sugars and cake recipe!

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Peanut Butter Cookies


One of my childhood favorites. I haven't had them in years until I made them a few weeks ago. I remember Mom's not being so dry, but this recipe was pretty good.

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Meatloaf

Ok, I know no one really wants to see photos of meatloaf, let alone get a recipe for it, but Hubby & I LOVE it. It's the meal he chooses when I offer to make him something special. I'm serious. We've had it for Valentine's Day and Christmas. The in-laws really seem to like this recipe too. Though it's not really much of a recipe, as I kind of make it up as I go. I got the basics from my mom, who's taught me well to not rely on recipes so much as taste, or texture. And I think her memory is much better than mine, thus recipes written on cards are not needed for a few of the favorites from back home.

So, thought I would share one of our favorite, special meals :)


Ingredients:
fresh ground beef
chopped onion(s)
minced garlic
salt
pepper
soggy bread
worsch. sauce
tomato soup, condensed

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 350˚F /180˚C
2. Chop onion(s) and garlic and put in large bowl
3. Get 2-3 (or 4, depending on how large your mixture is) pieces of bread, and moisten until soggy under water. Squeeze out excess, and work in your hands until there are no large lumps. Add to bowl.
4. Add ground beef & sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add 1 tbsp (or 2 or 3...) of Worsch. sauce.
5. Mix up ingredients until combined. I use my hands, so I can make sure there are no bread lumps (I have a fear of soggy things that aren't meant to be soggy), and it's easier to use your hands anyhow...
6. Add some tomato soup until the mixture is smooth (I guess at this too...maybe 1/2 can per 1/2 kg of meat? Who knows).
7. Bake for about 1 to 1.5 hours, possibly more, depending on the size of your recipe. I put the mixture into a Corningware casserole dish, and it's not so much a loaf, as a pile of flavoured meat. Yeah, real appetizing hey?

But with some mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli & fresh corn on the cob...maybe some garlic bread, or fresh buns, and you have a hearty meal!

Tips:
*I learned that onions can make the meat still look pink, long after it's been cooked. Supposedly celery can do this too. So, sometimes the meat can have a pinkish hue, though it's been cooked through.
*You can use ketchup too, instead of soup. I've also used condensed vegetable soup as a substitute, and it was LOVELY! I'd say you could add some grated carrot (or other veggies) to this recipe, and get a few more nutrients into the thing.
*When I make this up for us, I usually have 1/2 a can of left over soup, which I freeze for next time.

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Bake It Pretty

Yippeeeeee! My long awaited package has arrived! I remember finding this gorgeous site while bed-ridden, and finally talking myself into ordering some supplies from it (not that I needed to be talked into it, just that the funds for getting those items into my paws wasn't altogether available). So, the moment I decided these goods were to be mine, I frantically clicked over to the site, going to my number one choice: SOLD OUT. Grrrr. After checking at least 2, 3, maybe 4 times a day, I finally emailed to ask when the items I was after were going to be in stock. She put me on the emailing list, and 2 months later (not a normal wait time) I get the long awaited email, and by then I had memorized each page where items were that I wanted. As timing would have it, it was my sisters birthday, and she LOVES making cakes, I decided to grab her a few goodies too.

Now I wish I had bought more...(but there is always tomorrow). Here are the cute goodies I got for myself, and though I have not been craving cupcakes lately - a change in medicines has made me want to eat like a normal person again, thank goodness! But I now have to try everything out.

My number one choice, 'the best-ever icing cupcake icing kit'! (with a few toppers thrown in)


A few gel dyes, of which I chose a few fun, bright colours, and also black for curiosities sake...and two flavours I thought would be interesting: coffee & marshmallow - yumm!

Some very cute and awesome chocolate molds! I can't wait to use them, they will be so cute as cupcake toppers too...



And last but not least, some beautiful, bright sanding sugars! Love the crunch...

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18 Weeks

So far so good. Physio has really been helping, and I am so happy for it. I originally had to insist to get referred, and I am so glad I did. The ankle bone that my leg bones pivot from has been pushed forwards, and I am having trouble flexing my ankle enough to walk downhill, or downstairs properly. The best I can explain how it feels, would be like wearing a ski boot on one foot. Here is this week's progress. At physio I managed to get about 1" away from the wall, which felt good. I am more stiff today, but I can get there when I push. I tried cutting back my nerve meds, but the pain returned in full force (though I didn't let it get to the unbearable point). So, it seems I will be on meds for a while longer, which is too bad. They make me so sleepy - I hate it....

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Memory Card

I love photography. I haven't been too involved in doing anything since I broke my ankle, but now that I am walking, I hope to get back into it. I was thinking of posting tips and tricks, and other interesting photography tid-bits from now on. Might as well start here: I need a new memory card. But guess how much fun it is to find one that suits your camera? Your camera which is 5 years old. I have a Canon Digital Rebel 300D. I LOVE it. (But I think I am outgrowing it...a post for another day.)

I did photos for a friend's wedding in December, and thought I was very well organized. Brought the lap top along, and had my chargers and battery back-ups, and a CF (memory card) card back up too. Not enough. I took about 800 photos. This included getting ready, decorating, doing the flowers, the wedding, the reception, and their actual wedding photos. It was a TON of work. I was so exhausted, I barely ate at the reception. My problem was finding time to upload the photos to my computer. It took AGES with a full CF card. It was a day of stress and panic for me.

I should have done some CF card research first - I researched everything else! I have the same CF card from when I bought my camera. Lexar 516 Mb. It's served me well, never had a problem. But I love doing rapid fire shots, and also doing "animations" (see the video below). The photos don't load to the card quick enough, and there are always gaps. It seems lately, it's been taking even longer. (FYI - even if you have a point-and-shoot digital, and it takes a 'one-mississippi' before actually taking the shot, get a new memory card)

At the time, I bought the fastest I could afford. 5 years later, I am very outdated. But, after hours of reading online, I found out that my little old camera only has so much potential, so I didn't want to spend $160 on a 8Gb 300x card, which was complete overkill. I bought the best upgrade which suits me, and my camera - a Lexar 2Gb 80x (which is still overkill, but I couldn't find anything less). To find out what your camera can handle, I found two good resources, after dozens of pages of searching:

Here is a database
where you can pick out your camera (only DSLRs, I think) and check the performance of a number of CF cards. This was a great find. The problem was me finding what the maximum write speed was for my camera. At the time of purchase, that wasn't really an issue, but with how quickly technology surpasses, I had a hard time finding anyone who really knew the specs about my 'old' camera, since most who are serious about photography would have upgraded by now. This thread helped a lot too (for those who have a Canon).

My new CF card is in the mail, and I can't wait to try it out. If nothing else, at least I will have more storage, which has always been a problem for me anyhow.

If you're in Australia, I found this site which sells cards for pretty cheap. I've read that you need to be careful where you buy your cards from. There are a lot of counterfeit items out there, especially from China, and other countries from the East. They do nice looking replicas, but they are not quality. I thought it would be wise of me to buy within the country...So, I recommend not buying chips off ebay, unless you know the item is from a legit, western shop. There are plenty of places online in the US and Canada to buy from, just search google or ebay.


video

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

It's not 'goodbye', it's 'see ya later'

17 Weeks:

Ok, back on crutches. Good thing I didn't give them back on Tuesday, like I was planning to. I am very sore today! I had a long walk (took me 20 mins each way) to the hospital yesterday to do physio. Plus a stop at the post office and grocery store. I could barely walk up the stairs when I got home.

Hastily, I decided to become independent again, and drove myself to physio, while Adam slept in silence from an all-nighter to meet a deadline. Driving felt wonderful, since I haven't in 4 months-to the day. I thought my Canadian brain would revert to driving on the right side of the road, but I was fine. But I think I might need a driver next week, if I have to park that far away again.

Physio was so good. I was so impressed. I love physio. There's nothing they can't do. I've spent my fair share in physio in the past. This will be nothing like what I've had to do before, but I will be going once a week, for 6-8 weeks they think, before I will be back to normal. NORMAL. I will be so exstatic if normal happens.

I am having flexibility issues, which is because my ankle bone, which the tib & fib pivot from, has been pushed forwards slightly. It's causing me to not be able to bend properly. Like, if I stand 3-4" from a wall, and try to get my knee to touch the wall, without lifting my heel, I can't. I can't even stand 0" from the wall and get my knee to touch. They did some manipulation, to try and loosen ligaments, and get that bone back to it's proper place.

_________
Good Leg _____________ Bad Leg

They also did some strength and balancing tests. I could easily stand on my good leg, relaxed, and unmoved for a minute. I stood, for 3 seconds, if that, arms flailing wildly, on my bad leg. I can now physically see the difference in flex in my joints with the tests they did. But, considering the injury, they (there were 3 of them) were impressed with my mobility so far.

Besides being quite sore today, I have had noticable improvements daily. I can't wait for next week...

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Goodbye to the wheelchair & crutches!

I am walking! For real now! I did the block with Adam yesterday, and there wasn't a crutch in sight! It was not easy, or quick, but it was by myself, and it feels so good! I never knew how tall I was until now either. Using crutches, you're hunched over a lot, as you're always leaning forwards And then in the house, I was in the wheelchair most of the time. I forgot that I could see into the top cupboards, and see above the fridge, and when I do the dishes, the water doesn't spray in my face anymore! And when I fry bacon, hot oil doesn't splash in my face anymore! And when I pour boiling water, I can now move out of the way when I spil it.

Being in a wheelchair is not safe, not when you have tendency to drop things, including knives. Though I'm not quite ready for the jump-out-of-the-way moves, as I found out this afternoon when someone couldn't seem to wait for me to cross a driveway, and nearly (not kidding) hit me. This is my new biggest fear - getting hit by a car and breaking my other leg. It's entirely possibly, with how the idiots in this neighbourhood drive.

Today I had another round of xrays, and all looks good. It was so great to see that small gap between my tibia, and ankle-bone-thingy staying put all by itself. I saw some more new growth on my splinter, and also the screw holes look to be just starting to fill in as well. Turns out I had dissolvable stitches, even though they told me I didn't, so showering for the past few days in a plastic bag was all pointless, since when I took the bandage off today, it looked like it did before I even had surgery - ALL HEALED OVER. Nice, since showering in a garbage bag is just so fun and convienient. I was glad to see the xray, though, knowing for myself that they actually took the screws out, since there was no tangible evidence left, and everyone kept saying to me that they took ONE screw out, when there were two.

My joint feels good, my leg is still wobbly, and unstable, but so far so good. I am very sore this evening, since I had to walk quite the distance today. It's so nice how hospital parking is like 500m away from the entrance to the Fracture clinic!

Tomorrow I start physio again, and properly begin this road to recovery. Can't wait!

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Double Choc Freckle Cookies


Here's another from my new favorite book. Though, I don't think I should be copying their recipes and publishing them anymore...and as luck with have it, they are on the internet already, so here ya go!
(** edit: I looked into copyright laws about recipes, and it seems that there isn't really one that's all that limiting. Other than copying verbatim the method used. A list of ingredients cannot be copyrighted. Just put the method into your own words.)

Such cute cookies for the kiddies! But I still like the crunch of the sprinkles (otherwise called "hundreds and thousands"), and of course the chocolate :)


I did half with a dark chocolate topping, and half trying to use up the rest of those horrid Nestle Melts in white chocolate.


These are really fun cookies, and so simple to make. I spread the melted chocolate on with the back of a spoon, then dipped them in the pile of sprinkles and let them set.

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Friday, May 8, 2009

Pizza!

Who doesn't love pizza? This is a favorite around here, and just so easy. A little more effort than store bought, but tastes SO MUCH BETTER! (I posted this on my other blog, for those who might think this looks familiar)

Pizza Dough


1 cup warm water
1 package active dry yeast (7-8g ?)
2 1/2 cups to 3 cups all-purpose flour (plain flour)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine water, yeast and 1 1/2 cups of flour in a bowl. Mix well.

Add oil, salt and the rest of the flour (added gradually). Mix until the dough holds its shape.

Add other ingredients as desired i.e grated parmesan cheese, herbs, cracked black pepper, etc.

Place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. If dough becomes sticky, sprinkle a bit more flour over it. (I mix the dough in my Kitchenaid; it's easier and it seems to be a little stickier, but bakes just the same).

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled 2-quart bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or kitchen towel. Let the dough rest until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

When the dough has risen place on a lightly floured surface, divide into two or more parts and roll them into balls if you want two thin crusts, and cover with a towel and let rest 15 minutes. Otherwise, shape into single crust, top, bake, then eat!! (I find I get 3 nice thin crusts from one batch).

I bake for about 20 mins in 180 (350) degree oven.

Here's a tip: If you are using a pizza stone, be sure to shape dough onto a floured surface (I use corn meal, because it works way better) so you can transfer the base onto the hot pizza stone easily. I usually shape the dough onto a wooden cutting board, so it doesn't stick as much, and then slide the base onto the hot pizza stone. I put most the ingredients on the base first, transfer the base to the stone, and then add the cheese once the base is on the stone. Otherwise, in the transferring process, you can end up with a lop sided pizza.

This one is a BBQ meat pizza. A BBQ tomato sauce, onion, red pepper, bacon, pepperoni & ham, with mixed cheese, and my fav, pineapple:



This one I made as an appetizer. Diced green onion, italian herbs, pepper, garlic & a bit of salt (or garlic salt) with mixed cheese:

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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Walking, if you can call it that.

16 Weeks: boring photos, but I might as well document the changes...flexibility improvements since the screws have come out, and a shot of the size difference of my legs, which seems more significant when I am standing...blah blah blah..I'll spare you the close up of the stitches, which get removed next week.



Well, I am now "walking". Some steps without crutches, but when I do my daily walks around the block, I still use crutches. I am still using the wheel chair, in the kitchen, since I can't walk and carry things - I look mental. My walk is more like a weird hop. But I am happy. I see and feel good results every day. It's really amazed me at how much progress I've made. Slowly muscle is returning, and my joint feels strong, which I am very happy about. I can't complain (too much). Though it's still quite a frustrating process. I'm so serious when I recommend that people should try to avoid breaking something.

I even did groceries this week without the wheelchair. I put my crutches in the cart, and held on for dear life, as I dragged my bad leg behind me, and annoyed everyone who was doing their after-work groceries who were trying to pass me. Fun times...For all.

Ok, you should see how messy the floor gets when you rely on a wheelchair. It's horrible! This happens almost every day, and sorry to say, I don't have time to mop every day. It's so gross! I wear shoes in the house, and take them off when I go into our carpeted bedroom, trying to keep the grime on the tiles. I can't wait until things are normal again. It looks like someone rode a bike through the dump and then into my kitchen. (The blob in the lower left is a broken button...huh?)


Yesterday, I finally managed to guilt trip Hubby into coming for a walk with me (he's had crazy deadlines lately). We just get to the bottom of our steps, outside, and it begins to POUR. Now, I am no stranger to rain, and I don't actually mind getting soaked in a random storm. Hubby, on the other hand...so, I give him permission to leave me, and he bolts up the stairs, back to dry land. I figured it would take me long enough to get back upstairs, that I would be soaked anyhow, so I decided to still do the block. But wow, did it rain. We get the same approx annual rainfall here as Vancouver does, but it seems that we get Van's November total in one afternoon here. I think all of November rained on me yesterday. I was so soaked, I was easily able to ring out my hoodie and pants. My clothes, left to drip dry, had a large enough puddle under them, that I didn't believe Adam hadn't planted a cup of spilled water on the floor to trick me. All the rain my face was catching, was dripping down the front and back of my neck, and was soaking me from the inside out.

But the important thing is, I can say I am "walking" now. So happy :)

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Sunday, May 3, 2009

Rollkuchen

Here is another favorite Mennonite recipe of mine (for another, go here). Rollkuchen. It's traditionally eaten in summer with lots of watermelon and Rogers Golden Syrup, but a cloudy, cool & rainy day works for me too. Plus, the watermelon is so good right now here in Aus! I've had two really crisp sweet ones in the last two weeks.

From what I have read, the reason why watermelon is eaten with Roll Kuchen is because the Russian Mennonites used to make syrups, and other things, from watermelons. I suppose they must have eaten Rollkuchen with watermelon syrup way back when, and now we just eat it on the side...?

Here is Aus, there is no such thing as Rogers Golden Syrup, and I will speak from experience, that nothing beats Rogers. The golden syrup here tastes a lot stronger and kind of burnt, and I actually prefer to eat Rollkuchen with icing sugar instead in Australia (which I wouldn't do, if I was back in BC - Roger's is just too good to pass up). I brought Roger's out with me when we moved here, but it has long ago run out.

My photos are never that nice because whenever I bake, it's usually in the evening, and it's dark here by 6 or 7 every day (ie. no nice lighting left for me). But here is how mine turned out. Normally they get nice air bubbles in them...not sure what I did wrong (ideas anyone?)...but they still tasted the same. I used the recipe my mom uses, but here is one from my Aunt, which I would like to try one day too.



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Friday, May 1, 2009

On Two Legs

I am amazed at my recovery rate so far. I am by no means "walking" yet, but so close. Less than a week, I hope. It's amazing how quickly muscle deteriorates though too. My physio told me you lose muscle twice as fast as you gain it, so I understand this is going to be a process. My main problem is having enough flex in the joint to be able to complete a proper step, but my other problem is not having the muscle to even support my body enough to stand for that split second on one leg as you walk.

At first I was unable to equally distribute my weight while just standing still. Now, a week later, that's no problem. Five days ago I began walking around the "block". The first time it took me about 45 minutes, and now tonight I did it, and it took me 12 minutes. I'm excited to be able to feel change every day!

It is a weird feeling, though, knowing you cannot support yourself on one leg. It feels so awkward, and my knee sometimes doesn't stay in place, because I have nothing really supporting any of my joints. But I do little heel lifts under my desk while I work, to the point where my leg is shaking from the strain (ha! Shaking at the weight of only itself!), but it's getting better.

It's amazing how fast your body can recover. Like it remembers what it used to do, and how it liked that way better, so even if I did little to help myself along, it still seems like I would recover whether I wanted to or not.

But, we'll see how far along I make it before I plateau...Hopefully I don't. I've seen my swelling just about disappear, and been feeling the strength return in my ankle joint daily, so I am just glad to be almost walking now.

Oh, also, I took some measurements, and my broken side leg has lost 2" circumference on both my calf and quad. But, I suspect that number is also so large due to some gain on my unbroken side. I've been needing to support myself on one leg, and do a lot of balancing, and I've grown a tree trunk. At my best, I was able to hop short distances with no crutches. I've got real good at a one legged shower too. But I am glad those precarious days are gone (though, my first fall in the shower was after I was allowed to weight bare, and was standing on two legs!).

I think by next weeks update, I will be walking without crutches...I hope. I tried tonight...but not quite there yet.

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