Sunday, February 19, 2012

Made a new soup tonight that I am pretty proud of so I need to write it down and share it. It all started with Burgerville (local fast food chain and the best you'll ever find). Their signs all over town are advertising a "Fire Roasted Tomato Soup". It sounded so good I just had to try it. In my usual fashion, I went straight to the store to buy all of the ingredients that I thought would go in it. At home, I then had to find a recipe that sort of matched what I bought. I came across this recipe but didn't until just now realize it was a recipe for a sauce, not a soup.

Fire Roasted Tomato & Ancho Chile Sauce

(forgive me for not figuring out how to post the page, not the link)

Sounds lovely doesn't it? We are going to go back and revisit this in the summer when tomatoes aren't so bloody expensive.

Anyway, as usual things didn't go as planned so I improvised. The following is what I did and, following that, are notes for changes that I might make for the next time.


about 10 Roma tomatoes
2 fresh pasilla chili peppers
2 fresh jalepeno peppers
2 onions
1 fresh garlic bulb
quart water
1 small can tomato paste
1 16 oz can diced tomatoes
chipotle chili hot sauce (to taste)

Cut tomatoes in half and place meat side down on a foiled baking pan. Set oven to broil and put pan on top rack. Broil until tomato skins are black and tomatoes are juicy (10-15 minutes). When you take them out of oven, lay a towel over then to sweat the skins off.

Do the same with the peppers.

Reset oven to 375*. Cut onions in half and take off outer skins. Place face down on foiled baking pan. Do same with cloves of garlic. Bake 20 mins until tops are black and vegies are softish.

Peel everything and scrape seeds out of peppers. Puree tomatoes in blender and put in soup pot. Add water, tomato sauce and diced tomatoes. Blend 3 halves of the onion and garlic cloves to taste (we used all but the ones Jeanne ate). Do the same with the peppers. Taste frequently as adding jalepenos to control heat.

Dice remaining half of roasted onion and add to soup. (or as much as you have left after snacking on it).

Add sauce, oregano, salt and chipotle hot sauce to taste.

Reduce heat and simmer for a bit to mix flavors.

Serve with crusty or garlic bread. Makes 4-6 servings.

Now for my notes:

use whatever tomatoes are cheapest
I added the canned tomatoes and paste because the soup was too watered down after I adjusted the amount of puree from a sauce to a soup.
Save a few tomatoes to dice instead of pureeing them all.
experiment with using canned chipotle instead of fresh peppers. Will give the heat and smokiness without having to roast the peppers or buy the chipotle sauce. Or try reconsituting dried ancho chilis.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

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Happy Camp
Hi again,

I meant to finish talking about goals last night but I was so tired I couldn’t even lift my arms. I completed a goal yesterday that I set 3 and a half years ago, before things went to crap at work, before I was diagnosed with FMS, before I really starting feeling the symptoms of pain and fatigue. I earned my blackbelt in mixed martial arts! It was one of the hardest things I have done, physically and mentally. I cried when it was done. Today, I am feeling the pain of the scrapes, bruises and a black eye. I have sore muscles in places I wasn’t even sure I had muscles. I earned my blackbelt!

There is a saying that goes, “a black belt is just a white belt that never gave up”. That’s absolutely the truth! The past couple of years have been a real struggle for me physically and mentally. When I started as a white belt, I was playing soccer on 3 indoor teams and one outdoor team. I was playing ice hockey occasionally and I had a very physical job teaching physical education to kids with disabilities at 6 different schools. In just 3 short years I have retired from soccer after 32 years. I haven’t played hockey at all. I am no longer teaching. I rarely go for long walks with friends and I don’t run anymore. The only thing I held onto was the martial arts and that was out of pure stubbornness. My husband and one daughter have already earned blackbelts. My youngest will earn hers this December. Giving up was never an option.
There have been so many days that have taken all I had mentally and physically to get myself to a class and many more when I wasn’t even able to do that. I passed on the blackbelt test last December and missed a belt test this spring because of being sick and not able to train properly. I also missed too many classes to be eligible. Yesterday, I earned my blackbelt! A new goal has been set. I will earn my first degree blackbelt!

I plan on attacking FMS in this same way. I am too stubborn to give in to it. I refuse to give up my life to it. I will fight my way back to a place where I feel healthy, to a place where I decide what my day will look like, not my body. The goal has been set. The specifics of the goal and the checkpoints along the way are yet to be determined. I will let you know when I figure that out.


PS: I don’t get nervous about things like games or physical tests. I retreat into myself before hand and try to think things through, visualize, and calm myself. I played goalkeeper for many years, high school and college. It was something I learned to do before games. I did do some tapping before the physical test yesterday just to remain calm, to go into the process thinking about nothing except the task ahead. There were many points in the test where I wanted to give up. What helped me to stay focused and not think about the physical pain and exhaustion was to repeat the Oneness blessing over and over in my head. It calmed me. It helped me to let go of the heat, sore muscles and fatigue, to not worry about what was next, to share strength with the others in my group. To just be in the moment. And I was grateful for it.

Monday, October 18, 2010

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I think I am generating some sort of negative field all of a sudden. First my cell phone stopped working and now my lap top is being weird.

Tapping is working ok for pain management. Haven’t taken any pain meds in a couple of days. Not been dealing with anything major though it seems like some sort of progress.

I’m trying to de-stress some of my life again. I went a major life simplifying campaign several years ago. Got both girls doing the same sport in the same place and cut out most of my evening activities. Things have slowly sneaking back in as the girls get more involved in their martial arts and school. Perhaps I need to re examine some of those priorities this summer. I decided not to sell t shirts at the girls’ tournament today. It causes me too much stress to watch and coach and try to run a booth all at the same time. It was nice to be able to relax a bit but not making any money doesn’t help in my campaign to go to Italy in September.

Going to try to get some sleep for a big day tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

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Dear Lindsay,

I can be a tad obsessive about things. Everyone who knows me needs to stop laughing NOW! Once I get something in my head, I go 150% until I can follow it through to its end. This often goes on for days, weeks and even years!

I know how you feel about labels, that we tend to view ourselves and our experiences through the lens of that label or diagnosis. I understand that and I agree to a point. I was a special education teacher for a long time and I have a bit of a different point of view. Putting a name on something can help to tie together what would otherwise be a random set of behaviors. It can be comforting to know that what you or your child is experiencing is not craziness but something that others can relate to as well. The label gives a reference point, a place to start, a way to understand why something may be happening. It should never be used as an excuse for a behavior.

I bring this up because I had a psychologist suggest once that I may have Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). I doubt that a formal diagnosis was ever made so I should say that I have behaviors that may be related to ADD. It has never been a problem for me but it does help to understand what has always been a big piece of my personality. I can be a bit obsessive. Just a bit.

Most people think of persons with ADD as not being able to concentrate on one thing for very long but there is another side of it. Once something captures the attention of a person with ADD, it is often difficult to let that thing go. I see this the most in my art but it is present in just about every part of my life . If I dream up a design or have a new idea for something, I feel that I must do immediately it it or I may explode. I can’t stop thinking about it. Often I can’t sleep. It causes actual anxiety until I can finally work through the idea or complete the project. I feel that way about this project right now. I am constantly writing and rewriting these letters in my head until I can’t stand it any more and need to write it out. In the end, it is helping me to put it all down on virtual paper.

Whatever you think about helping with this project it will continue in some form or another until I feel that I have said what I need to say. I dearly hope that, at its conclusion, it will be worthwhile to someone else. Of course, an email or feedback from a certain actress would keep me going in the right direction.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

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Dear Lindsay.

Finally a day where I feel back to normal. Not that my normal is anywhere near where I want to be or where I was before. A normal day now is one where I get what I need done but not much more. Kids to school and dogs to park. To the couch for a couple of hours then pick up kids and take them where they need to go. Maybe a nap. Dinner is often an afterthought. Rarely get upstairs to do any of my art. On days that I care, it can be frustrating and boring. Today is not one of those days.

Exercise last night and a good walk at the dog park this morning has helped me immensely. Not getting weepy when I talk about the weekend. Drove all of those raw feelings out of me I guess. Or maybe I’m just too tired to worry any more. I am very sore today but it’s a better kind of sore. My biggest issue is that I have a huge lumpy bruise on the pinky side of my left hand. Tap. Ow. Tap. Ow. Tap. Ow.


Saturday, September 18, 2010

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A Lesson on Fibromyalgia
By J.D. Hosack MS (almost)

“Fibromyalgia (pronounced fy-bro-my-AL-ja) is a common and complex chronic pain disorder that affects people physically, mentally and socially. Fibromyalgia is a syndrome rather than a disease. Unlike a disease, which is a medical condition with a specific cause or causes and recognizable signs and symptoms, a syndrome is a collection of signs, symptoms, and medical problems that tend to occur together but are not related to a specific, identifiable cause.

Fibromyalgia, which has also been referred to as fibromyalgia syndrome, fibromyositis and fibrositis, is characterized by chronic widespread pain, multiple tender points, abnormal pain processing, sleep disturbances, fatigue and often psychological distress. For those with severe symptoms, fibromyalgia can be extremely debilitating and interfere with basic daily activities.”
National Fibromyalgia Association

Fibromyalgia effects millions of Americans, most often diagnosed in women in their 30’s and 40’s but it can effect men and children as well. There are no tests for FMS (fibromyalgia syndrome). It is often difficult to diagnose as patients report random symptoms and often all of the pieces of the puzzle are not present at any one time. Basically, it is a diagnosis of exclusion. Numerous blood tests are done and all come back normal. Often the patient is healthy but still reports pain, fatigue, depression, insomnia and often trouble concentrating or short term memory problems (commonly referred to as fibro fog). Ultimately, FMS is diagnosed as a last resort. The one and only “test” is to touch certain spots throughout the body referred to as “trigger points”. A person will react to 11 of 18 of these spots if they have fibromyalgia. The reaction is extreme for the amount of pressure applied. The feeling is often described at an electric jolt and a pain that lingers for minutes or more.
Treatment for FMS often includes anti depressants, pain medication, sleep medication, and physical therapy. Fibromyalgia is as debilitating socially as it is physically. People with FMS are often considered lazy, complainers and hypochondriacs. It is difficult to explain exactly what is wrong to someone who does not have FMS causing strain in marriages and friendships as well as at work.

I read a writer’s thoughts on FMS on a blog a while back. I wish I could remember where so I can give credit. It gave a pretty accurate description of what fibromyalgia can feel like.. Although the author nailed it, I am going to embellish a tad because I don’t think her language was quite strong enough.
Imagine you are going to have a party in your home. You invite 100 people. You have 10 friends who promise that they will come over the day of the party and do the cooking, cleaning, decorating, etc. The night before the party, you are so anxious that it takes you hours to get to sleep. Even when you do sleep, you wake every 2 or 3 hours with something that you have forgotten to do. In the morning you wake up stiff and sore. Your body aches. You have no energy. Your head hurts. And now you have a kink in your neck. One by one, your friends call to say they won’t be coming to help you. Your guests will be here in an hour and you have nothing done. Your husband is angry and doesn’t understand that you don’t feel well. All you want to do is crawl into a corner and cry. You are going to repeat this whole thing scenario tomorrow. This could go on for days or weeks. You never know when this day will come again. This is going to be your life from now on.

All of this I know from personal experience. I was diagnosed with FMS 2 ½ years ago. I was lucky. My doctor put the puzzle together relatively quickly. But that, my friend, is a story for another letter.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

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Welcome to Crazy Town USA

Hi Again,

How am I supposed to do this in the middle of all of this chaos. Trying to get Linden ready for school. Got to be early today because I need to open the store. Jeanne comes down. What are you doing here? Ugh. Bob forgot to wake her up. She’s already an hour late. Got to get her there before the bus leaves for the Junior Rose Parade. Don’t have time to drop her and Linden. She’s got 5 minutes. Why is she in the shower? Trying to tap. Can’t concentrate. Both girls want me. Dogs are jumping on me with wet feet. Gotta make lunches. Don’t have time for this. Crap. Now my neck hurts. Why is Jeanne lecturing Linden about where to get off the bus? Doesn’t she know? No time for the park. Cynthia is going to worry. No cell phone to remind them I’m not there on Wednesdays. Got the girls to school. Hope there’s no traffic on 84. Nothing to drink? I know better than that! Anxiety! Need a parking place in the where I won’t hit anybody. Not too late. Got the store open. Neck is killing me. Nothing for pain. Subway gave me diet Coke? Don’t they know I can’t drink that! Finally I can sit and relax. Why does my hand hurt? Great. Cuts in my palm from digging my nails in. It helps in the moment but its got to stop! Where is my miracle cure?

I'm going to do some tapping while the store is empty then watch some me Bionic Woman online. Please don’t bother me unless you’re here to buy cards!


PS I can’t leave you hanging like that. I did do some tapping on the pain this morning. My neck still stiff and sore if I move but the burning pain has gone away. Left a cold feeling in its place. Weird. I feel totally drained, kind of a drugged feeling. Linden has an audition this afternoon but now I feel like I can handle a return trip to Portland. Will try to get some excercise tonight. Tomorrow will be easier.

Linden and I went through some tapping before her audition. She said it helped and she wasn’t shy at all and even little bit silly. She was pretty excited about how it made her feel. I did some training for the run, push ups and sit ups for my blackbelt test before class tonight. It went better than I thought I would after sitting on my butt all weekend. There may be hope for Sunday after all. Feels so good to be physically exhausted instead of emotionally. Feeling really free right now. Yay for endorphins. My body will probably be telling a different story in the morning.

Take care,