Frozen Cranberry Salad

By Stephanie


I am warning you…this stuff is addicting!  I love the sweet and the tartness of it.  And of course super non-low fat.  Just what you need at the holidays.  But hurry and make it so you can eat it before you start your diet Jan. 1st!!  And before the fresh cranberries are no longer available.  I made the mistake a few years ago of trying to find fresh cranberries after New Year’s.  It was a sad, sad day!  I now buy a few extra and stick in the freezer so in March, when I get a craving for this salad, I can still have it!



Frozen Cranberry Salad

serves 6-8

1 package whole fresh cranberries

2 apples (any kind, but I like granny smith)

1 cup sugar

2 cups mini marshmallows

1 cup nuts (I LOVE walnuts, but kido with allergy so usually I use pecans, but use what you’ve got)

1 pint whipping cream

1 tsp vanilla

Quarter and core apples.  Put in food processor with cranberries and sugar.  Pulse until fruit is in 1/2 chunks.   Add in marshmallows and nuts and pulse 2-3 more times.  In separate large bowl whip whipping cream to soft peaks.  Add in vanilla to cream.  Gently fold in apple/cranberry mixture.  Line 9X13 pan with tin foil and then plastic wrap leaving enough hanging over the edges to fold to cover the salad completely.  Pour mixture into lined pan.  Fold plastic wrap and then tin foil over.   Put in the freezer for 1 hour.  Take out and score with knife for serving size pieces (you don’t have to do this, but it makes it MUCH easier to get out once it is completely frozen).  Put back in the freezer for 2 hours or overnight.  TRY not to eat it all in one sitting!!


Avery Update

By Stephanie
We were doing so well……..
Then we went to the church Christmas dinner…
And she ate a cobbler with walnuts……
We knew that Avery had a tree nut allergy.  Mostly walnuts.  It makes her mouth itch.  And pecans, but they aren’t as bad.  The other tree nuts they said to avoid, but they have never bothered her.  So we haven’t been as vigilant at keeping her away from them. 
I saw the cobbler.  It was blackberry with a walnut crumb topping.  I saw the walnuts.  I was excited.  I never get to eat walnuts, because of her allergy.  So I got and ate the cobbler (it was delicious!)
Avery saw the cobbler, but didn’t see the nuts.  She enjoyed the cobbler too.  Then she started to itch… in her mouth.  Then her face started to swell.  In the meantime I had run home (5 minutes away) to grab the Benadryl.  Just a good dose and her symptoms would go away.  We have an epi-pen, but I had never had to use it, nor did I expect to, so I didn’t grab it…hindsight. 
There is a lady at church, Judy, who is allergic to everything.  Okay, not everything, but practically.  I called her over and asked if I should take Avery to the hospital.  My hubby said her face looked like “Mask.”  I think she looked more like the blue people on Avatar, just not blue.  But she was REALLY swollen.  So I took her to the emergency room.  By the time we got there, she was wheezing.  They rushed her right in and gave her one dose of Epinephrine.  Then 20 minutes later another.  Plus a bunch of other stuff including hydrocortisone.  Which she is dependant on and she needs extra in emergency situations…like that one. 
Anyway, they kept her overnight.  Just because she ate so much and they were afraid there might be some sitting in her digestional track they might cause another reaction.  But it never happened. 
And now we know that she needs to avoid ALL tree nuts and have epi-pens with us at ALL times. 
Also she had her follow up MRI on the 7th.  It appeared the tumor pieces were smaller.  That might be because the last one was done right after her surgery and there was swelling.  In any rate, it is at least smaller or the same.  So that is good news.  She has another one in March and she meets with Endocrine in January.  That gives us Feb. off.  So far at least. 


Blogs that I get lost in…

By Stephanie
So I have been stuck in pinterstland and bloglandia….wasting hours of time…..
But I found some new sites.  I have been do a bit of research on milk paint and chalk paint.  I found that Annie Sloans chalk paint is sold somewhat locally.  I am SO buying some next time I take Avery to Seattle!! (that’s in January).  This girl at Miss Mustard Seed, has a great article on both paints and their pros and cons.  I love her pics!!  Check her out…try not to get lost on her site too long….



By Stephanie

      Okay, I accidently made myself a skirt.  I know what you are thinking…how do you “accidently” make something?  Here is how it started.  I was making my girls tiered ruffled dresses (i do NOT recommend this for a beginning sewer).  The pattern I had only went to size 8.  Avery is not a size 8, even in patterns.  So I measured and cut the skirt bigger.  Only I accidently cut it the bigger amount on each side instead of adding 1/2 the amount on each side.  When she tried it on, after I had all FOUR ruffles on it, she was swimming in it.  At that point I knew it would be easier to start over than unpick the entire thing! 

The girls dresses…



      That night when I was laying in bed I thought, “I wonder if the skirt would fit me?”  Sure enough if did.  It was even long enough, barely.  I actually originally turned it into a dress using my early Christmas gift…the dress form seen here.  Only I didn’t try it on myself.  HUGE mistake.  HUGE.  SO….after unpicking all that, I turned it into a skirt.  And paired with these divine ruffled boots my sister’s sent me last year and this ruffled cardigan from Down East Outfitters.  My skirt is more champagne colored and there’s are all light gold. 


PC129011    PC129022

  I got compliments GALORE!  Don’t ask for a tutorial, I couldn’t duplicate it if I tried.  But it you would like to try, I started with Butterick Pattern number 4967#.   You will have to figure it out from there.  But it’s a good start.    

Hot Spiced Punch

By Stephanie

This is a recipe I have had since I was a little girl.  I have adapted it to make it easy and quick.  It’s perfect for a treat after caroling or on a chilly morning.  Or actually any time it is under 50 degrees (which is all the time here!).  I love the spices and citrus.  And you get that boost of vitamin C which if your house is like mine, we can always use this time of year!  If you don’t have whole cinnamon sticks and cloves you can add in 2 tsp. cinnamon and 1 tsp. ground cloves. 




Hot Spiced Punch

Make a lot!!

1 can frozen orange juice concentrate

1 can frozen lemonade concentrate

1 can frozen pineapple juice concentrate

3-4 lemons and oranges

3-4 cinnamon sticks

20-25 whole cloves

In LARGE Crockpot or stock pot add in juice concentrates.  Put cloves into lemons and oranges (pokey side poke into the fruit).  Add one gallon of water, oranges and lemons too pot.  On medium high heat, heat and then turn to simmer.  Simmer at least 30 minutes but up to 3 hours.  Serve warm.



By Stephanie

I LOVE the spices in gingerbread.  It’s not too sweet and has all the taste of the holidays.  And actually I LOVE the smell of molasses too.  My kids don’t, bit it brings back memories and has a taste that can’t be duplicated.  I turned these into some mini muffins, but you can put it in a 8X8 pan and make it into a cake.  Either way…SO good.  I would add in nuts…but kido with allergy. 



Makes 1 cake or 24 mini muffins

1 egg

1/2 cup molasses

1/2 cup sugar

5 Tbsp butter, melted

2/3 cup milk

1 tsp white vinegar

1 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp ginger

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp salt

In large bowl combine egg, molasses, sugar and butter.  Mix together well.  In separate bowl combine flour, soda and spices.  Put vinegar into milk.  Alternately add in milk and flour mixture 1/2 at a time.  Put into greased pan.  For muffins cook at 350 degree for 13-15 minutes.  For cake cook for 30 minutes. 


Sweet Chex Mix

By Stephanie

   This is crazy good.  I had a friend post it on facebook.  She warned me.  She called it crack…I should have listened.  But I thought, she is just tired and needs a snack.  I mean, she does have SEVEN kids.  (I am amazed at anyone who has even a half kid more than me!)  So I made it….and I ate, and ate, and ate. 

   Now if you are diabetic, like Dyney, don’t even try it.  You will end up in a coma for sure.  I on the other hand just have to do triple the cardio for the next two weeks to counter the carbs. 

  Oh, her recipe calls for M&Ms.  I didn’t have any, and it was plenty sweet and addicting without.  But you can add them if you like….



Sweet Chex Mix

makes a lot


· 1 1/2 c butter

· 1 c light karo syrup

· 1 c sugar

· 3 c Rice Chex

· 3 c Corn Chex

· 6 c golden grahams

· 2 c coconut

· slivered almonds or cashews. I prefer cashews.

· Big bag of M&Ms

How to make it:

· In large bowl combine cereals, coconut and nuts

· In saucepan combine butter, sugar and karo syrup (I actually did this in a large microwave proof bowl and once it was melted and combined put it in again for the 2 minutes cooking time)

· Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes

· Pour over cereal mixture

· When the mixture's slightly less warm, toss in the bag of M&M's. 

· Spread on wax paper till slightly dry to touch

Also, here's a cool tip about the karo syrup. If you spray your measuring cup first with Pam cooking spray it will come out without being sticky. Now don't say I didn't warn you. 


Cranberry Apple Walnut Pie

By Stephanie

  This pie tastes to me like Christmas.  Not too sweet, crunchy and spicey too.  I got this recipe in a BH&G Simply Perfect Holiday Baking in 2003. I have never seen a recipe since that compares.  It’s my FAVORITE pie.  It’s the reason I buy extra cranberries and freeze them.  So in Januray, when cranberries are no longer in the store, I can still make this pie.

If you have or your kids has (like mine) nut allergies, I have been substituting pine nuts for the walnuts.  They are VERY expensive, but she isn’t allergic.  I have also used pecans, but in this walnuts are the best!

   The other pie in the pic is a caramel apple pie.  Just use my caramel sauce recipe and layer with apples.  I did a lattice top and drizzled more caramel.  It got crunchy and delic!


Cranberry Apple Pie

Serves 8-10 (This is for a 9” deep dish pie)

Your favorite pie crust recipe

6-8 granny smith apples, quarter and peeled then graded

12 oz cranberries

1 Tbsp orange zest

1/2 cup sugar

3 Tbsp flour

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1/3 cup maple syrup (I have left this out and it’s still great)

1/2 cup walnuts

I use my food processor and grate the apples.  Take out and set aside in a large bowl.  Into food processor put in everything else.  Pulse a few times until cranberries and nuts are in 1/2” peices.  Pour mixture into apples and toss.  Put into unbaked pie crust.  Bake at 425 degrees for 30 minutes.  Then make topping.  In food processor combine 3/4 cup walnuts, 1/4 cup sugar, 3 Tbsp brown sugar, 1/2 cup flour and 1/4 tsp salt.  Pulse two or three times.  Then add in 1/3 cup cold butter cut into small cubes.  Pulse until resembles course crumbs.  Take out pie and spread on top.  Turn down oven to 350 degrees and cook for 50 minutes more or until fruit bubbles up.  Cook at least two hours.  I suggest overnight.  When you cut a hot pie the juices will run into the crust and make it soggy.   


Other Turkey left over idea-Turkey Flauta

By Stephanie

  Yes, there is no pic.  I didn’t think of it until we had eaten it all….SO SORRY!  But easy and yummy.  Take 2 cups chopped left over turkey, 1/2 cup gravy, 1 cup shredded monetary jack cheese, 1 small can chopped green chilies, and 10 flour tortillas.  Put at least 1” of vegetable oil in a large pan and get heating.  You want it about 325-350 degrees.  Then combine everything but the tortillas.  Take about 2 tablespoons filling and put into tortillas.  Wrap up and tuck ends in (burrito style).  Put in hot oil seam side down.  Fry until golden on each side.  Serve with salsa to dip….SO GOOD!! 



By Stephanie

Okay, I have been SUCH a slacker…I am going to TRY to be better.  The book is all done..kind of.  It’s written.  But that is the easy part, as I am now finding out. 
And the holidays are here!!  I LOVE Christmas.  It’s my favorite time of year.  The decorations, the food, the music, the family.  The magic of telling your kids if they don’t stop fighting Santa won’t bring them anything.  The addition of cream cheese and butter into everything…
  But I am in a funk.  First, because we thought we MIGHT be moving…nope.  Second, I think my seasonal depression has started early this year.  So I decided to go to pinterest.  OH MAN….I have been sucked in….for weeks.  I am trying to get back to cooking and blogging…and I will.  Just as soon and I get everything pinned.  JK, that would be too long.  But I DO need to get organized.  I put several things that I just haven’t loved since the last move on craigslist.  Already had a few inquiries.  And I walked through IKEA…if that’s not inspiration to get organized, I don’t know what is.  I would like to move into IKEA…without my kids.  They would just make it too messy.  Or my husband.  He can visit, but I honestly think he is my biggest challenge in this organization thing.  Hum…
Oh and IKAT.  Pronounced ee-cat.  Have you seen Ikat fabric?  Not the western looking ones, but there are some super cook ikat fabrics.  Like these……..
So what inspires you??  Yes, I really want to know!!

Left over Turkey Recipe

By Stephanie

But I made this last year and my 12 year old has been DYING to have it since…so when/if you have leftovers that you just don’t want to use as a sandwich, try this.  I don’t think you will be disappointed!  It’s loosely based off a recipe by Rachel Ray. 


Pasta ala turkey

Serves 6

1 lb mushrooms, sliced

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 bay leaf

1 Tbsp Italian seasonings

1 small onion, diced fine

1 clove garlic, minced

2 Tbsp tomato paste

1 c turkey gravy

1 c water

1 1/2 cups cooked turkey, diced up or shredded

2-3 Tbsp heavy cream (or sour cream also works)

Put olive oil in large sauce pan and heat.  Add mushrooms, bay leaf and seasonings.  stirring often cook till mushrooms are brown (6-8 min).  Take out bay leaf.  Add onions, garlic and tomato paste.  Cook  2-3 minutes.  Add water and gravy.  Stir up bits on the bottom.  Add in turkey.  Cook on low until turkey is heated through and sauce starts to thicken.  Add in cream.  Serve over cooked egg noodles.  



by Stephanie
  I know you keep checking and thinking, when is that girl going to post something.  I know, I apologize.  I have been distracted.  Not by my kid with a brain tumor, not by pinterest, not by preschool (it was my turn to teach this week), not by dinner group, not by holiday shopping.  Although all those things are fun, and have taken some of my time,  it’s my book.  And yes, I know that every bored housewife in America is hoping to hop on the Stephenie Meyer bandwagon.  Even if we share the same first name and she spells it wrong.  I guess I am one of those. 
   I don’t care if I make a million dollars, although that would be nice.  I just want to make enough to build my house.  I have had house plans for two years, just drooling and dreaming over this house.  But alas…no fundage.  So if by chance my work paid off…literally…I would be grateful.  But I know there are hundreds if not thousands of books out there, that never really get anywhere.  So if anyone has experience publishing an e-book, PLEASE leave a comment with your email.  I would LOVE some advise.
   Anyway…. it’s a fiction.  Young Adult fiction to be exact.  It’s kind of like  Goose Girl meets Ranger’s Apprentice.  And it’s almost done.  I have a few more chapters (they are short chapters) to go.  It could be a series, a trilogy really. 
   You may not be a reader.  Or even like this genre.  But here is the first chapter.  I would love to hear your feedback…unless you don’t like it….then keep it to yourself….
The name of the book is “Archer”’
Here is just a taste…….
He looked around.  His heart was beating so fast it felt like it was going to burst right out of his chest.  He was nervous.  But that was expected.  This was his first opportunity to show his skill.  It wasn’t that he untrained, he had been preparing for this day since he was five.  And it wasn’t that he was young, fourteen was still fairly young, but he was mature for his age both in height and in emotion.  It was the weight of the task.   And for someone who was itching to show his skill in real life, it felt good to finally be needed.  But this was immense.  Even for someone as skilled as he.
     The King was on his right. He loved that man like a father.  They has spent countless hours practicing.  It was the king that first noticed his skill.  He being a grand archer himself.  And it was the king that rescued him from what would have been surely a life of squalor and poverty.  The king had not only provided for his physical needs, but he had a good education too.  Rare for his occupation or his background.  He felt blessed every day for what he had provided.  This was the least he could do to serve him in this way. 
    On his left,  his other mentor, the head of the guard.   Although not in the fatherly way like the king.  The head guard was too much the soldier for emotions like pride and encouragement.
    Along with not letting his mentors down  he knew that if he failed it would be dire.  Dire as in death.  Death to at least the princess.  But this could certainly be reason for war.  And the innumerable deaths war brings.  He was only four when the last war broke out.  His father had marched off to war, never to return.  He knew the consequences of failure. 


Avery Update


   We had a few appointments in October with her and I realized, I didn’t do an update…so here it is. 

First, her seizures are under control.  But she is on two meds for that.  The goal is to wean her off the one so that she is only on one.  They took some blood so take measurements of the medication to make sure as they taper down on the one, she doesn’t have any seizures as a result. 

Second, her eyesight.  This is not so cut and dry in the results.  Her field of vision (peripheral vision) is MUCH better than when they did the test before.  I was expecting this, because she could barely see anything at the time.  But her right side still is almost nil with peripheral vision.  They also did a test where they measure the width of the optic nerve.  This was interesting.  They had also done this test before her surgery.  On the left, she had further damage.  Which told us she needed that surgery, otherwise she probably would have been blind in that eye.  She most likely won’t get any more, or much back in that eye.  Nerves usually don’t repair themselves.  This damage they think was due to lack of blood.  On the right, however, there was improvement!  Meaning the damage on that side was probably due to compression from the tumor.  It gives us hope that as her brain heals she could get back more vision in that eye and at least as much field of vision as her left.  It could take from six months to a year to know what’s permanent. 

   Also her MRI is Dec. 7th.  Then we meet with her doctors.  Hopefully the tumors are the same, or there is a possibility that they shrunk!  And we will also get (hopefully) the go ahead for her to go back to some or all regular activities.  She has WAY too much energy.  I know, I know, it is a good problem to have with a kid that had BRAIN surgery a few months ago!!  But still a problem.


Spaghetti with Squash

By Stephanie

If you have never had spaghetti with squash before…you are not alone.  I never had either…until the other day.   I have a few butternut squashes, mostly to make puree to make pumpkin things.  Yes, butternut is mostly what you get in “canned pumpkin”, did you know??  And my friend Kathy is going vegan.  Just for 28 days.  And so I thought I should incorporate one or two at least vegetarian dishes to our diet.  I did end up adding some shrimp (which I cooked separately) and parmesan cheese, but it would have been great without.

  I served this to my friends.  I USUALLY try dishes first, but didn’t.  So I was really hoping it would turn out.  Otherwise we were going to have corndogs with the kidos.   But it turned out great.  My inspiration was a recipe by Giada De Laurentiis.  



Spaghetti with Squash

serves 6-8

1/4 cup oil

1 large shallot, chopped fine

1/2 onion, chopped fine

2 cloves garlic

2 tsp Italian seasonings

salt and pepper

1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1” cubes

1 small delicata squash, also cut into 1” pieces (the original recipe called for eggplant)

2 cups chicken broth

1 1/4 cup white wine (I was out so just used more chicken stock)

17.5 oz spaghetti or linguine

In large non-stick skillet heat oil over medium heat (you need a really big pan for this).  Add shallot, onion and salt and pepper.  Cook for about 5 minutes.  Add in garlic and seasonings, cook about 1 minutes.  Add in squashes and cook 8-10 minutes.  Add in broth and wine turn to low heat and let simmer about 10 minutes until squash is fork tender.  In large pot cook pasta in salted water just until al dente.  When done add pasta to pot with squash.  Toss pasta to coat with sauce.  Turn off heat and put lid on and let pasta finish cooking and absorb sauce.  Serve immediately. 


Pumpkin Bread Pudding

By Stephanie

If you are all tricked out….here is a treat you can make (because you need a sugar rush too…).  Once you have enjoyed the one loaf of pumpkin bread.  So something outrageous, and totally fattening.  Make it into bread pudding….pumpkin bread pudding.  You can add in 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans….I would except for that kids with the darn nut allergy. So I just sprinkle mine on top after.  But go ahead…add it in.. You won’t regret it!  This is not really custardy, so if you prefer you can add another egg and 3/4 cups milk.  But for me this is JUST right.  The bread on top is nice and crunchy and the bottom is sweet and has a caramel like taste…SO YUMMY!!




Cut loaf into 1" cubes.  Put in a 9X13 baking dish and put back into a 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes stirring ever 5 minutes until bread is toasted.  Then in a large mixing bowl mix together 1 c brown sugar, 1 3/4 c milk, 1/4 c butter (melted),  2 eggs and 1/2 tsp. vanilla.  Add bread into bowl and toss till bread is coated with sauce.  Bake at 350 degrees 40-50 minutes until custard is cooked through.  I sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar lightly when it was done.  Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream (my fav).


Pumpkin Bread

By Stephanie

The flavor of the week is……..

P U M P K I N!!!

I went to the pumpkin patch with my youngest kido and her preschool.  I bought my first sweet pumpkin.  I took it home and cut it up (saving the seeds of course, I am not wasting anything!).  Then I pricked each piece and put it into a large bowl with 1 Tbsp of water and covered with clear plastic wrap.  Then microwave on high between 8-12 minutes each pieces.  When done set aside to cool.  The skin will peel right off.  Then blend or process to make puree.  I had a small pumpkin and it made 4-5 cups puree.  Not bad and WAY cheaper than buying it in a can.  And yes, you can use butternut squash instead.  Sugar pumpkin smells and tastes exactly the same!!

Now you have do decide what to make.  Regular pumpkin pie is not my favorite.  I love my pumpkin cookies.  But I wanted to do something different.  You HAVE to try this.  I would have loaded it up with nuts….but kido with nut allergy stopped me.  But you go ahead.  Or craisins would be a nice add.  You can add a handful of chocolate chips, but I am also not a fan of chocolate and pumpkin (I know, I am probably the only one!!)   This makes two loafs.  But only eat one….wait till I show you what you can do with the second loaf….


Pumpkin Bread:

1 C butter, softened

3 c sugar

3 eggs

1 16 oz can pumpkin

3 c flour

1 Tbsp  baking powder

1 1/2 tsp baking soda 

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg (or I used 4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice)

Cream together sugar and butter.  Add eggs one at a time.  Once eggs are in beat on high for 2-3 minutes scraping down the sides of the bowl.  Add pumpkin.  Mix dry ingredients together.  Add in slowly just till combined.  Pour into two regular loaf pans (greased) and bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes.


Chicken Etouffee

By Stephanie

My dear friend has a husband that is going to school for agriculture.  He gets lots of grown stuff that they have left over.  They sent us home with a TON of green peppers, jalapenos, tomatoes and leeks.  I found this recipe on tasty kitchen.  I have NO idea what an Etouffee is, but I was intrigued.  And I was excited to do something new.  It looked yummy but I changed a few things so here is my version.  And it did turn out SUPER yummy!!  It would be great with shrimp instead of chicken, maybe next time….



Chicken Etouffee

1/2 cup butter

1/2 onion

4 cloves garlic

2 green bell peppers, diced

2 stocks celery diced

5 tomatoes diced

1 Tbsp Tomatoes paste

1/2 tsp thyme

1 tsp basil



1/4 tsp cayenne

pinch of cloves, coriander and cumin

1/2 cup flour

4 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless cut into 1” pieces

1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce

3 cups chicken stock

3 cups shredded cheddar cheese

In large stock pot melt butter over medium heat.  Add in peppers, celery, onion and garlic and salt and pepper (I used 1 tsp each).  Let them cook down until veges are soft (about 5-7 minutes).  Add in the rest of spices and cook about 30 seconds.  Add in flour and stir to cook flour.  About another 5 minutes.  Push stuff in pot to outsides and add in chicken.  Stir every few minutes until chicken is starting to cook.  Add in tomatoes and cook another few minutes.  Add in stock and stir.   Add in Worcestershire sauce and turn down to simmer about 20 minutes until chicken is cooked through.  Add in cheese and serve over rice.


Frozen meal group

By Stephanie

If you have never tried being in a group where you “swap” meals, I am hoping to inspire you.  There are hundreds of ways to do this, but I will share the way  that I do like to do the meals. 

Find six friend with similar family size and kidos ages.  I don’t know why but 6 seems to be the magic number. 

Then decide on 20 meals.  We make a list of chicken, beef,  pork and vegetarian so you get a good variety. Otherwise it seems you end up with 18 chicken dishes.  Make sure you are thinking of the season you are going into.  Like if it is spring, think of grilling recipes.  Almost any recipe can be converted into a freezer meal.  The only things we have found that totally don’t work are heavy cream and raw potatoes.  And we try not to have more than two or three of meals that need to go into pans, like enchiladas or lasagna. The rest go in gallon freezer zip top bags.  You put them into your freezer with two paper towels in between laid flat. 

It helps to have software that figures out your grocery list.  Allrecipies has one and the one I use is called advantage cooking.  But I am sure there are others. 

Start thinking about getting a group together. Over the next week I will give you the details of how mine works. 



by Stephanie

Ok.  I have a few obsessions.  Jessica Simpson shoes are one.  And hounds tooth is another one.  Combine them both and what do you get……..


I can’t blow it up or it gets fuzzy…but it you want to buy some click here


Brown Butter Brownies

By Stephanie

These are ridiculous!  Serious.  Don’t even figure out the fat content…just make them and enjoy. 

Brownies for some reason, are something I have always had trouble with.  I can remember as a kid making brownies and the NEVER turned out right.  That is still usually the case.  So I hardly ever make them.  However a friend sent this too me and OH BABY.  They are dense and fudgy and I am totally hooked. 



Brown Butter Brownies

Makes 12

10 TABLESPOONS (yes, I know) butter

pinch salt

1 1/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/3 cup flour

1 tsp vanilla

2 eggs

1 cup chopped nuts (Optional)

1/2 c chocolate chips

In large sauté pan melt butter of medium heat without stirring.  You can occasionally swirl pan but don’t stir.  Continue doing this until butter is brown and smells nutty.  Let cool slightly.  In large mixing bowl add in sugar, cocoa powder, salt and flour.  Add in melted butter and stir just until combine.  Add in eggs one at a time and stir about 20 times.  Add in vanilla, chocolate chips and nuts if using.  Pour into a 8X8 pan.  I put two sheets of tin foil so they make a + in the bottom of the pan with the sides overhanging so that you can pull it out of the pan.  Spray with non-stick spray.  Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes.  Do not overcook.  When done pull brownies out of pan to let cool so they don’t overtake especially in a glass pan.  Cut into 12 squares and TRY not to eat them all!!


Mac and Cheese with Veges

By Stephanie

I combined two recipes I had to make this.  The one is from America’s Test Kitchen…love them!  The second was from my friend D’Neil (shout out to the Hobb’s now in Texas).  You can add in some chicken like I did, or leave it out and make it vegetarian.  Up to you.  And just use what veges you have.  I like broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and zucchini, but lots of other veges will work.


Mac and Cheese with Veges

serves 6-8

1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk

3 3/4 cups water

3 cups elbow macaroni noodles

1 tsp cornstarch

4 cups shredded cheese (I like 2 cups monetary and 2 cups sharp cheddar)

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into 1” pieces

3-4 cups veges chopped into 1” pieces

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

salt and pepper

Into large stock pot put all of evaporated milk, leaving out 1/4 cup, water and about 1 tsp salt.  Bring to a boil over medium heat.  Stirring occasionally.  Add in vegetables and macaroni noodles and cook for 8-10 minutes until al dente.  Do NOT overcook.

In separate medium sauté pan heat pan over medium heat, add 1 tbsp. oil and then add chicken.  Season chicken with 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper.  Cook on each side until golden, but not cooked through.  Add in chicken and juices in pan to noodles.

Take 1/4 cup reserved milk and add in cornstarch to mix.  Add into pan with noodles, veges and chicken.  Cook about 1 minute to thicken.  Take off heat.   Add in nutmeg, cayenne and cheeses.  Stir to combine and melt cheeses.   Put lid on for about 5 minutes and then serve immediately. 


Thyroid meds and eye sight

by Stephanie

Another Avery update.  She is doing great.  We had a few appointments last week in Seattle.  Her Endocynologist put her on a low dose of a thyroid med.  She was borderline low.  WOW!!  What a difference that made!  She was functioning at about 40-50% of her normal energy.  I thought this was all due to the fact they had done BRAIN SURGERY!  But once she was on the thyroid meds for a few days she skyrocketed to 90%.  Seriously!  It was amazing.  She is suppose to take it on an empty stomach with no milk products until it is digested.  So when I get up to take my 12 year old to school,  I wake her up to take it (and then she goes right back to sleep for about an hour).  By the time she gets up for the day, she can eat cereal and not worry. 

One of her doctors, Dr. Manuel Ferreira, Jr. (click for more info on him)  met with us and went over her scans.  He normally works at HarborView (an adult hospital) but he was called in to help with her surgery.  He was one of the two main surgeons.  (He is amazing!!)  He told us that they tumor was the size of a GOLF BALL!  We had heard it was about the size of your thumb.  I don’t know about you, but my thumb is a LOT smaller than a golf ball.  It kind of took my breath away.  Also her optic chiasm, where the two sets of optic nerves cross, is still located behind her right eye, where is was pushed by her tumor.  I asked if this will go back, “maybe” was the answer. 

I also said we thought that her sight had been slowly going and she probably didn’t have peripheral vision for a long time.  “For sure” was Dr. Ferreira’s answer.  He said with the amount of displacement (how far it had moved) the optic nerves would have been very slowly moved there.  Otherwise she would have been completely blind if it had happened any faster.  So YES, I let my 8 year old play softball with NO peripheral vision!  Scary.  But she functions just fine, because this is the amount of sight that she has had for a LONG time.  We still won’t know for another 4 to 5 months how much of this is permanent. 



By Stephanie

So I made the berry crumble that I had posted before.  I used rhubarb and strawberry before.  This time I used blackberries.  Blackberries grow wild up here.  There are kind of a pain to pick..literally.  They have lots of thorns and I also got into some stinging nettle…fun.  But, I ended up with enough for a small batch of jam, two pies, this crisp and enough to make two more pies or crisp in the freezer.  Yay!

Instead of the pepper, I used cardamom and about 1 tsp nutmeg and the full amount of pine nuts.  It was AMAZING.  Even my 12 year old said it was one of my top 5 desserts.  Which is saying something since we have dessert all the time!!



Berry Crumble

Serves 8-12

for crumble

1 1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup pine nuts (I could only afford 1/2 cup so that is what I used)

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup sugar

1 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp cardamom

2/3 cup butter, melted

In large mixing bowl mix everything but butter.  Stir to combine.  Add in butter and mix until all flour is wet and combined.  Press down into bowl and put in freezer while you make the berry part.

4 cups blackberries, washed

1 cup sugar

2 Tbsp flour

Put berries  in greased 9X13 pan.  Combine sugar and flour.  Sprinkle over berry mixture and toss to coat.  Then get crumble mixture out of freezer and drop in clumps onto berries  leaving some clumps big and others little.  Put into 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes until fruit is bubbling and top is golden and crisp. 

Serve warm with a scoop of good vanilla ice cream or sweetened whip cream


Chocolate Mousse

by Stephanie

This is a super easy dessert.  In fact I had Avery make it (she’s 8).  If you are looking for something velvety, chocolate and SUPER easy…this is it.  You can add in a 1/2 tsp of allspice like the restaurant where I got the recipe or 1/2 tsp cardamom like I did, or cinnamon like I am going to next time..or just leave it pure.  Up to you….


Chocolate Mousse

Serves 6

2 cups good chocolate chips

1 pint heavy cream

2 eggs

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp of allspice (optional)

In large microwave proof bowl add in cream and microwave until skin forms on top (for us this was 2 minutes).  In the meantime in food processor or blender add in chocolate chips and pulse a few times.  Add in heavy cream and allspice if using to chocolate and let sit for 30 seconds.  Then mix on high for 30 seconds.  Let sit another 30 seconds and add in eggs.  Pulse again for another 30 seconds.  Pour into six bowls or ramekins.  Let set up in the fridge for at least 2 hours.  You can top with sweetened whipped cream, but it is divine all on it’s own. 


Homemade Ice Cream Base

By Stephanie

So I can’t take credit for this at all!  My niece is a great up and coming chef.  Any recipe I get from her is fabulous.  My sister-in-law told us about it when she came to visit and help with Avery.  This one requires some of your own creativity, or better yet, let your kids decide.  Or not. Whatever you want.  If you don’t have an ice cream maker, get one.  Make sure it is a 2 qt. size.  After attempting to make this I realized mine is caput.  So it’s on the list of things we need to get…at some point.  Make vanilla and top with my easy chocolate sauce, or my salted caramel sauce, toasted nuts or it is great plain.  Use your imagination to make up a new flavor profile.


Homemade Ice Cream Base

2  14 oz. cans of sweetened condensed milk or for a recipe...click here

1 large package of instant vanilla pudding mix

1 pint heavy cream

2 tsp good vanilla, or insides of one vanilla bean

1 quart milk, plus some more if needed

In large bowl (I use my biggest Pyrex glass mixing bowl) it needs to be at least a 2 qt size, add in everything but milk.  And whisk to combine until pudding is dissolved.  Then add in milk.  If adding in other things add this time and pour into ice cream maker.  Add in more milk to 2qt. line.  Process as ice cream maker instructions. 


1 cup crushed strawberries, blueberries or black berries,

2 cups crushed sandwich cookies along with 1/2 tsp peppermint extract,

3/4 liter of root beer or orange soda,

1 cup toasted coconut and assorted nuts like pecans, walnuts and almonds. 

Use your imagination!!


Carrot Cake

by Stephanie

I know carrot cake is usually a spring thing, but my darling (and pregnant) friend made a super yummy one last week.  It was the Paula Deen recipe.  Always a good choice.  When I was telling my kidos about it, they mentioned that they had never had carrot cake.  And since we were having leftovers for dinner, I was a good mom and made them one.  Next time I will wait until we are having someone over for dinner.  I ended up throwing away about a quarter of the cake.  I HATE throwing away good food.  And as you can see I made mine in a 9X13 pan.  But it is prettier if it is in two round pans.  I also chopped the nuts and added when I served it..darn nut allergies (not mine, my daughters).


Carrot Cake

Serves 12-15


2 cups flour

2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp cinnamon

3 eggs

1 cup sugar

1 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup vegetable oil

3/4 cup buttermilk

2 tsp vanilla

2 cups fresh graded carrots

8 oz crushed pineapple

1/3 cup coconut

1 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Combine flour, soda, salt and cinnamon in medium bowl.  In mixer combine eggs, oil, buttermilk and vanilla until smooth.  Add flour mixture and beat at low speed until blended.  Gently fold in carrot, pineapple, coconut and nuts (if adding).  Pour into 9X13 pan (or two 8 or 9 inch round pans) that are sprayed with non-stick spray.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes (it took me 35 minutes, but my oven is low).  Take out and let cool for 5 minutes while you prepare glaze.  Poke cake with knife to make holes for glaze.  Pour glaze over cake and let cool completely.  (if using round pans let cool 15 minutes then flip out onto wire rack to finish cooling).  Then ice with cream cheese frosting and top with chopped pecans.


In medium saucepan combine 1/2 cup sugar, 3/4 tsp baking soda, 1/4 cup buttermilk, 1/4 cup butter, bring to a soft boil.  Let boil for 4 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 tsp vanilla.  Pour over cake. 

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 8 oz package cream cheese

1/2 cup butter softened

3 cups powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla


Sunshine and Miracles

by Stephanie
For those of you who know me, this spring was especially hard.  We moved from Vegas last Sept. to the Northwest coast.  It rained in Vegas, about every 30 days.  And we had cloudy days…occasionally.  Up here in the Northwest, rain and clouds are the constant, or just about.  I had seasonal depression before when we lived in Idaho.  But usually by May it was gone.  Not here.  It was July 26th, my mother-in-law and sister-in-law had come to visit and it was 64 degrees!  I cooked a turkey because I refused to turn on my house heater in JULY!  It just seemed wrong.  So the oven on for four hours was enough to heat up the house.  Depressing just thinking about it!
I had planned on taking the kidos for two weeks to get some sunshine, but then the doctors had found Avery’s tumor the end of June.  But she was perfectly healthy except for the occasional seizure.  I was afraid my vacation couldn’t happen.  But then they said it was a kind of tumor that basically didn’t grow and wouldn’t ever be a problem for her.  Our church had decided to do a special fast for her and our family.  At the time I felt a little silly since it really seemed to be nothing.  And there were other families, like my friend Jami and her son Billy who was born with a heart condition and needed another procedure, that could use the prayers and attention.   Vacation was back on, hurray!!  We went to Idaho, Wyoming and Utah.  I got sunshine.  I remember the second day of being at a pool, I told my bff (Dawn) I finally felt “normal”.  I felt like myself again after literally months of depression.  I didn’t realize how bad it was, but once I was back in sunshine, I felt a huge difference. 
After reflecting on the events of the past few months, I feel that the reason Avery didn’t have any other symptoms of her tumor until August was to give me time to get some sunshine and rejuvenate.   That fast was for me.  That I needed that in order to deal with what was coming.  I can’t imagine dealing with Avery’s surgery and health while seriously depressed.  It would be bad.   So thanks to those to fasted and prayed for my little girl and our family.  It was a miracle that  I needed.  And I am very grateful.


Potato, Bean and Bacon “Soup”

by Stephanie

So fall is upon us.  At least here it is.  And along with that canning and the last of the fresh fruits and veges. 

My darling friend Jami brought her daughter to hang out with Avery for a few hours on Saturday.  And also brought some fresh green beans from the batch she had for canning.  I LOVE fresh green beans!  I love them as a side dish, but this “soup” is amazing too.  Quick, easy and warm on a brisk fall night.  All in one pot so less dishes too.  And it is continuing our "bacon” theme.   And in about 20 minutes too! 


Potato, Bean and Bacon Soup

serves 6

1/2 lb. thick sliced bacon sliced into 1” pieces

2-4 cups water

5-6 medium potatoes diced into 1” pieces

1 lb. fresh green beans sliced into 1” pieces

1/2 tsp Salt and pepper

In large pot put in bacon and start to cook over low heat.  Stirring occasionally until fat is rendered and bacon is starting to crisp.  Add beans, potatoes salt and pepper.  Then add enough water just to cover.  Turn heat to med-high and bring to a boil.  Turn to medium and cook until potatoes are fork tender.  Turn off heat and serve immediately.   I LOVE a pat of butter and more salt and pepper to finish it off.


Endocrinology and shoes

By Stephanie

We are still wondering if Avery’s pituitary gland is working.  Right now she appears fine, but you can’t survive if your pituitary isn’t working without medication.   They will take her off all the meds in2 to 3 months and test her to see.  You can’t really test the pituitary, you have to test the glands it runs.  It’s kind of hard to know for sure.  Some things, like growth, we can’t tell for months or years.  For other things, like blood sugar, you can check right away.  Right now her thyroid is borderline low.  So they are putting her on a low dose of a thyroid med.  And she is cortisone dependant.  It is what the adrenal glands make.  She could die if she doesn’t get enough.  Kind of scary.  They are decreasing her dose to a more maintenance dose rather than the bigger one they had her on right after surgery.  It affects anything that your body reacts to, like stress, illness, injury, her body can’t respond.  So we have to give her a 3X dose of her hydrocortisone if any of those things occur.  It is a lot to remember, but I am getting better.  I can even spell most medical terms almost correct the first time. 



I am OBSESSED with these shoes.  They are a high heel (for anyone who knows me well I prefer at least 3 1/2” heels).  They are a black oxford type shoe with a ribbon tie.  I found a few that totally fit the bill…only they are $200 at Zappos. Not in the budget.  Sears actually had some at the end of their season, but by the time I saw them they only had 5 1/2’s left.  I am NOT a  5 1/2.  So I have been hunting them ever since.  If you see some, under $60, let me know. 


Book Review

by Stephanie
First of all, a reader, Anne has a question about the laundry soap.  I have been TRYING to email you back…no luck.  Old computer.  Very sorry.
Anyway, mine thickened right up.  So I would just review the steps again.  Make sure your bar of Fels-Naptha is melted down completely and the water is hot.   If you did this, I will ask my mom, she has made it more than I have and might have a suggestion.   Put your email address in your comment, and I will get back with you.
I read LOTS while in the hospital with Avery.  One I read that I liked (kind of a fluffy piece) is the The Actor and the Housewife by Shannon Hale.  It is a bit cheesy.   And at one point I wasn’t sure I would like how things end up (I am sucker for a happy ending).  But it all turns out fine.  And it is a fairly quick read too. 


504 Plan

by Stephanie

So we have Avery’s 504 plan ready.  What is a 504 plan you ask?  It is something that the school puts in place in order to assist a child.  Not if they are mentally disabled.  Only for physical needs.   Like if you have a kid that is diabetic and they need their blood checked every 30 minutes, they would assign an aid to be with them to be monitoring that. 

In our case Avery is functioning very well in the classroom.  It is when there are a lot of kids in the hall way that she needs help.  She also isn’t allowed to participate in recess or PE right now.  Just so she doesn’t get hit in the head with a ball or get bumped and fall down.  Her dr. said both feet on the ground at all times.  And she is SUPER competitive.  So just sitting out feels like she is being punished. 

The school is having someone who will walk her to class.  And take her to the counselors office during lunch.  On rainy days the kids are all inside playing games anyway, it’s just on these sunny days she will have to be inside when they are all outside.  Fortunately for her (and unfortunately for me) these sunny days are all but over. 

Oh and bathroom breaks.  She needs an adult there, just in case she falls over.  She still is a bit unstable, especially when she bends down. 

The school has been amazing to work with.  Her principal and counselors know her well from last year and I feel like they are doing the best to make her feel safe and take care of her needs.  And this isn’t forever.  I am hopeful that by Thanksgiving she will be for the most part back to her normal routine. 

We also think that she has had limited site for a LONG time.  That this has been going slowly and she didn’t even notice.  So really she has been functioning with almost no peripheral vision for a while.  So for her, her site is back the way it was before for the most part.  Kids can adapt like that.  Luckily.  But we will have to see over the next six months what she gets back. 

And she slept till 12:45pm on Saturday.  Even with part days at school she was wiped out.  She won’t be going full days for at least another few weeks.


Hot Shots

By Stephanie

FINALLY, another recipe!!  I have been wanting to post this recipe since before our extended stay at the hospital. 

My friend Jami made these for the 4th of July.  And I was craving them.  So I bought all the stuff to make them, and then we ended up in the ER.  My darling friend Jami made them so Friday night when we got home from the hospital, I could have some…yum.  But I didn’t think to take a pic.  So I was craving them again…and this time I did take pics. 

If you are like me and only have a gas grill, this drips LOTS of grease and can start a grease fire.  So either do them in the oven or put something underneath to catch the grease.  My brother-in-law found this out the hard way.  Sorry Ty!  Now we know. 


Hot Shots

makes 24

12 jalapenos

1 package little smokies

3 oz cream cheese, room temperature

12 slices thick cut bacon (or really any kind you have)

Cut jalapenos in half lengthwise.  Take out seeds and ribs.   Put about 1-1 1/2 tsp cream cheese into it and then add a little smokie.  Cut bacon pieces in half and wrap one half piece around jalapeño.  Put onto wire rack on top of sheet cake pan or put on grill.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes until bacon is crisp and pepper is soft.  I actually broiled on low for 5 minutes at the end to crisp up the bacon. 


Beary good

by Stephanie

My darling aunt that lives in Ontario, Canada sent her this HUGE bear.  And look…finally a pic with a smile.  That is nice to see.



Special Request

by Stephanie

If you were thinking of sending Avery something, and just didn’t know what to send her, she really could use one or two of those track suits.  (she is a 10/12 or a 10).  We have lots of appointments we are going to be going back and forth and I think she would feel comfy in a track suit.  Plus those days she needs to just sleep, they feel as good as pjs. 

But REALLY, don’t run out and buy her one if you weren’t already planning on sending something (yes, Kathy Roller, I am talking to you).  But IF you wanting to send something already.  This might be a good idea. 

Or if it is easier and cheaper, send a gift certificate.  We have about everything within 10-15 minutes from our house. 

And thank you to everyone for all the cards, dinners, laundry, house cleaning, snacks, magazines, stuffed animals and prayers.  We are so very blessed!!

Sleep and Meds

by Stephanie

So we made it through our first night home.  She is still having trouble sleeping.  And getting up and down the stairs is very slow and she HAS to have someone with her.  But she had a shower, washed her hair and is doing pretty good.

We still don’t know if her pituitary glad is working.  They have her on a VERY strong steroid that is taking over for it right now.  Over the next 10 days we will wean her off that one and then get her on Hydrocortisone.  Then they can test her adrenals to see if they are working or not.  I am hopeful that they are.   Otherwise she will be on meds for the rest of her life.  Which is fine.  However, I am really hoping that her pituitary is going to come back and be fine.  But in the meantime, if she gets sick, breaks a bone, gets in an accident, or any other high stress situation…she needs extra Cortisone or if she can’t take a pill…a shot.  I had to learn how to give a shot.  Hopefully that NEVER happens.  But now I know how to. 

I also had to order her a medical id bracelet.  I just got the one from Medic-alert.  That way they have a number to call to get additional info on her conditions and meds.  It wasn’t any more than the ones without the phone number.  And once we get it she wants to take the band off it and make a beaded one.  So it looks more like jewelry.  Ok.  You just had brain surgery, so I will accommodate your need for bling. 


Coming Home

By Stephanie

It looks like we are coming home tomorrow. Yay! So tumor board met today, the pathology shows that it is a pilocytic astroctoma. Not as rare as the other, but still rare.
We still don't know if her pituitary gland is working. And she will have lots of follow up appointments here over the next few months. Another MRI in three months. She is also having some small seizures that neurology should be meeting with us about.
Now we just need to get with the school to figure out what she needs there.


Pics of Avery

By Stephanie

Home for the night.

These are from Sunday to today in order





this was earlier today.  She is finally looking like my little girl.  Mouth open sleeping and all…



I love food. That is why I learned to cook. And I do make some yummy things, if I do say so myself. That might be a problem for my kids. Especailly when they are in the hospital and turn their nose up at most of the things they are served. I agree that the freezer burnt chicken nuggets and soggy waffles don't look good to me either. But if I were really hungry, I might eat them. But not Avery. She just scowls and conplains...a lot. I know the steriods make her even more tempermental, but sheesh. Enough alreay. I was able to get her some frozen dinners and soup. That seems to be filling in some of the gap. But they all better learn to cook or marry chefs.
Btw, she had another rough morning. She started off the day throwing up. Yuck! I think she waited too long after her meds to eat. Right after she threw up, she ate. Weird. And of course it was bacon, sausage and toast. (I am seriously considering making using bacon as a bribe at home. It is obviously highly desired.) But then she slept for the rest of the morning. She did get up about 11am and have a SHOWER! She loved it. We were even able to wash her hair as long as we didn't scrub the incision area (it has about 100 stitches...not joking. Really 100 stitches). She was complaining about an area to the back of the top of her head that had some dots of blood. She said it was really sore. I asked one of the dr's and she said it is probably from staples. To ensure the area stays clean and sterile they put a plastic drape over her hair and secure it with staples. Wow, interesting. I would take staples over shaving half her head or all her head any day. They are thinking we MIGHT can come home on Thursday. But it depends on her progress. And even if we do the next month to month and a half will be LOTS of follow up appointments back here. Therapists, Opthomolgists, Oncologists, Endocronologists, Neuro-Surgeons too. (and I probably spelled them all wrong...)


nook and avery

By Stephanie

Avery had a rough morning. She was seeing double...not good. And she had a headache that wouldn't go away. They took her in for a cat scan and it came out fine. Oh she also had a low heart rate and 99 degree fever. She hardly ate any breakfast...no bacon. But for lunch she got pizza, chicken nuggets and fries. She ate it all. She had a good afternoon and Grandpa Dave came and sat with her so i could get out...into the sunshine.
AND I am sending this from my new nook. Thanks to my AMAZING friend Kathy. I don't know how I am so lucky to have such great people in my life!



by Stephanie

The adrenaline of the first few days in a hospital were wearing off.  So I came home with the other kids and my in-laws.  For the first time (ever) I was happy I didn’t wake up to sun.  Because it would have had me up before 7am.  So it allowed me to sleep in.  Yeah!

For those of you who have ever had a baby, you know about that “crash”.  The first day you keep waking up just to see that baby, make sure it wasn’t a dream.  The second day you keep waking up just to make sure it’s still breathing.  The third day (usually when they send you home) you sleep so deeply you don’t hear the baby the first time.  You are SO tired.  That was the point I was out.  So I am really happy to have had eight, blissful, uninterrupted hours of sleep.  And a shower…a full good shower that I was able to scrub the hospital smell off.

As much as everyone wants to see her…she is really out of it.  Plus she is still in ICU.   They discourage visitors.  But you can send an e-greeting.  Click here.   You can also send her stuff from the gift shop, however she had some great drugs right now and she can’t get flowers or balloons in ICU.   Better yet, do something for her brother and sisters.  They are the ones totally aware of what is going on.  And prayers.  They are amazing and do more for us than I can express.  Trust me we have angels both here and on the other side that have been hard at work on our behalf.  We really are so blessed. 

Oh btw, one of her neuro-surgeons said after her MRI yesterday that they got about 60% of the tumor.  But it was the part that was effecting her vision.  The rest might die off (hopefully) with that main part gone, or might begin to grow again.  But it is very slow growing and may not effect her for years if ever.  They will just have to monitor it and see.


Pics of Avery

by Stephanie

I am home for the night, so I thought I would share some pics…they are graphic so if you are prone to queeziness, don’t continue.  And she is VERY irritable.  Probably the steroids.  Luckily her dad can deal with her tonight.  Because I am going to SLEEP!

First day…




enjoying bacon…


poor eye….obviously asleep


Bacon and bacon and bacon

have you every seen the movie "50 First Dates"? I feel like that is what I have been doing for the last 36 hours.
Avery will wake up and start asking questions
Avery: did they drill the hole?
me: yes
Avery: what time is it?
me: I will tell her the time
Avery: Can I have bacon?
me: no not yet
she gets upset
Avery: when can I have bacon?
She also would ask other things about where we are, what day is it, where is Nathan, ect.
I would go over it all. She would get a headache, and push her button for more meds, go to sleep and in a few hours we would do it ALL over again. But she is getting more responsive and her site seems to be getting better. Althought that right eye (her good one) is still swollen shut and will be for a few more days.
The one surgen stopped by. After reviewing her scans they got 60% of the tumor and where it is left are areas they couldn't get to or wheren't critical. They will probably just watch her closely over the next few years and then maybe with an annual MRI to watch for any changes. If there is, probably another operation. They still feel like this can't be treated with radiation or chemo.
Thanks again for everything you all are doing!!


The tumor is gone...mostly

So, Avery had her biopsy yesterday at about 11:30am. Right before they did a short MRI just to make sure they had the placement correct.
They told me her biopsy along with post-op stuff should take about 2 to 2 1/2 hours. So at 2:30pm I was paged back to neuro-surgery. The Dr. (Dr. Ojemann...love him) said "she's ok". That is what I needed to hear. Then came the but...we have to make some other decisions..right now.
It isn't an optic glioma, therefore cannot be treated with chemo or radiation. At that point they really didn't know exactly what it was, just that it wouldn't respond to those treatments. And with the other Dr.'s accessment (from pre-op) her vision was getting worse. So we had two basic options. 1# while she is under, go back in and operate and get as much of it out 2# wait a few days and see if we can get another biopsy. But his schedule was open to do the surgery...right now. AND she might be blind in a few days. So we went with option #1. Right now to a surgeon, means in two hours. They expected the surgery to take 4-6 hours. We would get updates every 2 hours or so. It would do like this..
"Is this Avery's mom?"
"ok this is nurse so and so in the operation room. It is going great. She is doing fine. But it is going to be a while. We will let you know in about another 2 hours"
This happened 4 times. And 9 hours and 30 minutes later (you can do the math, it all adds up to very tired) she was out. They took her ventalater tube out and woke her up. She was obviously very groggy. But she looked better than I expected.
Since then I THINK the name of her tumor is a Gangliositoma??Spelling anyone??
they think they got 80% of it, but need an MRI, which they will do probably monday.
They were right next to and around the pituatary gland. So they are watching her closly. Espeically her urine concentration. She will most likely be here a week most of the time in ICU. But all can be handled with meds if her body doesn't work it out on it's own.
She is very cranky when in pain.
Her right eye...the only one she could see out of is swollen shut and dark purple (I will post pics later)
Dr. Ojermann had been operating since 6am and at 4am (next day) he was still bright and chipper. I wasn't so much.
We are all very tired. But SSSSOOO grateful to all the amazing family and friends who have put her name in the temple, fasted, prayed, sent thoughts and cards.
I know some of you are wanting to help out. You can post a message or call Emily Wall (in my ward at home). She is helping arrange stuff. And my father-in-law (who had a similar tumor in almost the exact same place) and mother-in-law should be here tonight. Bless them too.


Seattle Children’s Update

by Stephanie

So we spent a LOT of time today in Seattle. 

Here is what we know.  They don’t really know what it is.  It appears to be an Optic Glioma.  But it doesn’t fit the bill 100%.  It still could be a Hammertoba (That probably isn’t the correct spelling).  Or something else.  So tomorrow at 9:30am they are going to do a biopsy.  First to figure out what it is because second, they don’t feel like they have the time to wait and try something that doesn’t work.  Her sight has been effected drastically and they don’t want it to be further damaged.  SO, hopefully Monday we will have the results.  With either of the above options radiation or chemotherapy look like the best options. 

With radiation: Her pituitary gland would be destroyed.  So she would be on meds for that the rest of her life.  It would start being effective right away, so more of her site would/could be saved.  It would cause some damage to the rest of her brain, mainly memory and reasoning. 

With Chemo: It takes longer to become effective.  She has to go in once a week for a year for the meds.  They would insert a devise into her chest that allows them to put the drip into rather than doing an IV every week.  The medicine only effects the tumor, nothing else.

To us it comes down to brain vs. sight.  Right now brain wins.  We will see

Either way, she will loose her hair. 

The school is helping us set up a 504 plan for her.  This will help with tutors, and extra aids they might need to help her. 

We will keep you updated as we go……


School's In!

By Amy

Well, I was really proud of myself yesterday. I had gone out of town last-minute with my husband. He was scheduled for a business trip and we were able to score some last minute tickets with frequent flier miles. It was a great few days, but I knew we only had a few days until school started when I got back. So, we returned and I got busy checking clothing status and making sure any missing items were purchased. Making sure lunch stuff was available to take, fees paid, etc.

I had promised my 2 youngest that I would take them swimming on Monday for their last day of freedom. We had missed the school open house last week, so I took them over to the school to make sure we knew who their teacher was and where to go before our swim.

When I pulled up, I saw several kids playing and I wondered if the middle school had started a day early. Then, we went inside the school and wouldn't you know it, my kids were missing their first day! The rest of the school district we live in started school today, the 23rd, but their charter school had decided to start a day early and I had missed that crucial date!

Luckily, I didn't have anyone distraught over it, we had a good laugh and my kids were thrilled to go swimming while their friends were in school.

Where is my mother of the year award?


Avery update

by Stephanie

We had SUNSHINE…two days in a row.  Warm sunshine.  Like 80 degree sunshine.  If you don’t live in Northern WA, you have NO idea how rare that is this year.  Or how good it feels.  It was WONDERFUL!! 

I think I need to clarify a bit about Avery’s sight.  She can see almost 20/20 straight on.  It is her peripheral vision that is affected right now.  If you stand on the left side of her, she can’t see you.  If you stand  basically anywhere but right in front of her…she can’t see you.  Or she might see two of you, even if you are right in front of her.  It’s like looking down a straw all the time.  And the left straw is tiny.  The right is more like McDonald’s size. 

But she is getting around really, really well.  At home she is coloring, getting herself cereal, mopping and fighting with her siblings.  Basically all the normal things.  And she even wrote and gave a talk for Primary (church class for kids) yesterday that she had been assigned before the sight issues began.  She can’t cross a parking lot alone, and she can’t get around in crowds of people by herself.  But other than that, she is working it out really well.  She can’t vacuum, but she can do dishes.  She can’t ride her bike, but she can roller skate.  She is finding the things that she can do.  Even my hubby commented on how she is the one that we could never say “you can’t”  to.  She would find a way.  So she will.  It might take her a bit more time or effort, but I don’t see her sight stopping her if she puts her mind to it. 

Thank goodness the stubbornness is good for something.   


Tumor that wasn’t a tumor is a…tumor

by Stephanie

Okay, so I have spent the last 29 hours in an adrenaline rush only a mother with a seriously ill child knows.  If you know this…I am SO sorry.  But you know, and you never forget.

So Avery woke up Thursday morning and was (I thought) being a typical weird eight year old.  She said she was seeing two of some things and kept crossing her eyes.  Whatever.  But then she kept saying and started walking around the house like she was blind.  Okay, I started to get nervous.  Then I called her Pediatrician, who wasn’t in.  But the nurse suggested going directly to the ER.  Now I was TOTALLY panicked.   I emailed her Neurologist who now lives in Portland, OR.  He IMMEDIATLY sent his phone number.  You know things are scary when they send a phone number for you to call…right now.  I did, he said take her to the Children’s ER in Seattle.  He was going to call in so they knew she was coming.  So at 11:30am I jumped in the car with Avery and made the 90 minute drive.  NOT stopping for food.  NOT taking anything for overnight.  TIP:  If you are headed to a ER, get food on the way and take a change of clothes…just in case.

She was admitted, at 1:30am!  So at 1:40am, I left my darling in the nurses care, drove home, slept till 5am, got clothes, makeup and another book (since I read the one I had the first day in the ER) and headed back to Seattle.  I needed to be there by 7am when the Dr’s had their first rotation.  I made it.  And then had a 30 minute nap. 

She saw Ophthalmology, Neurology, Neuro-Surgery and Neuro Oncology.  Then they all had to get together to decide what do to. 

Currently she has about 5% site in her left eye and about 50% in her right.  They have a Brain Tumor Board that meets on Wednesdays.  She is on the list for this weeks meeting.  Basically it is a bunch of doctors that look at all the information and decide what is the best course of action.  So we have an appointment for Wednesday afternoon.  She most likely will have chemo ad/or radiation.  But we really don’t know yet. 

We will keep you updated.  I am going to sleep for at least 8 hours…


Another Awesome Pasta Salad

by Stephanie

SO…if you are lucky enough you have your kidos already back in school…reward yourself with some carbs…in the form of this pasta salad.

If you are like me….and have almost THREE WEEKS til they go back….console yourself…with this pasta salad.  Either way…carb it up!!

I got this recipe the same day we did that over the top fireworks-yep the 4th of July.  My friend Dawn and I decided instead of dessert we would have more pasta…then they brought out that ridiculous strawberry cake (that I just realized I didn’t post…it’s coming).  So yes, I ate both.  And did more cardio the next day to attempt to burn it off. 



Gorgonzola and Grape Pasta Salad

serves 10-12

One box Penne pasta

1 lb. grapes washed and taken off stems

1 cup pecans-toasted

4 green onions chopped fine

1 cup gorgonzola (I only had feta which worked just fine)

1 cup mayo (Best Foods is my choice)

Cook pasta according to directions.  When done drain but don’t rinse.  While pasta is warm add in pecans,  onions and grapes.  Toss.   Add in mayo and toss to coat.  I add in mayo a 1/4 cup at a time just until dressed (I don’t like too much mayo, but do as you like).  Let cool 10 minutes and add in cheese.  Toss again.  I LOVE this warm, but you can chill first if you like.  Make sure to keep this in the fridge (if you don’t eat the whole bowl the first day).



by Stephanie

So I was out of my tinted moisturizer.  It is the Mary Kay kind.  I liked it.  But honestly, how often to I need spf and extra moisture here….almost never!!  So I decided to try something new.  Kandee Johnson has this tutorial on her site that has totally changed the way I think about my make-up.  Foundation in particular.  She recommended Forever Make-ups High Def foundation.  (You can get it here..or at Sephora).  It was a bit more than I would spend…but really…I LOVE this stuff.  It is AWESOME.  I am shade 120.  Just in case you are wondering.  And yes, I love to put in on with my fingers, right after my shower.  While my skin is warm.  It seems to really spread on more evenly.  And it isn’t too heavy. 

So if you are in the market for some new foundation…I TOTALLY recommend this one.  And Kandee’s tutorial.  


Homemade Laundry Soap

By Stephanie

I am BACK!  I have tan lines and lots of great ideas for you!!

First homemade laundry soap.

Ok,ay, I know, I know.  I was skeptical too.  My mom had made some and was using it.  But my youngest has VERY sensitive skin.  And I have kids.  That stain EVERYTHING.  But then….my mom had a pair of white jeans.  While driving she opened a red bottle of juice.   Apparently it was carbonated.  And sprayed everywhere…on her white jeans.  Then she took them off and forgot about them until the next day.  So not only was it red on white jeans, but it had been 24 hours.  She put this homemade soap on it…AND IT ALL CAME OUT!  Okay.  Now I am impressed.  VERY impressed. 

AND it is easy.  AND it is cheap.  So today I am going to make some. 

You need:

A 5 gallon bucket

1 cup of laundry soap that you already are using (any kind)

1/2 cup Borax (in the isle with the laundry soap)


1 bar Fels Naptha (it’s a bar soap that you can find in the laundry isle of Wal-mart or if you can’t you can find it on line. 

Makes 10 Gallons (Seriously!!)

  1. Fill 5 gallon bucket 1/2 full with hot water.
  2. Grate the bar of Fels-Naptha in large stock pot into 4 cups of water and dissolve over medium-low heat. 
  3. Pour melted soap, borax and 1 cup of soap into bucket with water.
  4. Fill to top with HOT water and stir.  Cover and let sit overnight
  5. Next day, stir again to mix thoroughly.  It will be thick like Jell-O.
  6. Take this soap from 5 gallon bucket and mix 1/2 and 1/2 with water to use.  Mix every time before you use since it will separate.  In high efficiency machines use 1/8-1/4 cup per load.  For stain remover, use right from 5 gallon bucket and let sit for 5-10 minutes. 

Be prepared to be AMAZED!!!


Where are we...

Yes, I know you are all wondering when we will be back to regular postings...soon ladies, soon. In the meantime, don't forget to put sunscreen on the tops of your feet. It had been so long since I had seen that much of the sun...I forgot.
I also feel so ready for some good projects to share with you. Fabric paint, sewing and of course recipes!!
Check back after the 12th (unless Amy and/or Jenny make a post before then. Amy's closet it AMAZING. I can't wait for you to see it!!)


Going for some vitamin D

by Stephanie
So I am going on vacation!  Whoot whoot!  Going to be in 5 states in 5 days.   Hopefully they have record heat once we get to Utah (where we will be the majority of the time). 
So if there are few posts…don’t worry.  I am just collecting more recipes and ideas to post. 
I am working on helping a friend with some window treatments….SO excited to go fabric shopping!! 


Roasted Red Pepper Pasta

by Stephanie

This is an easy, light and refreshing salad for summer.  I got this years ago from my sister-in-law Jessica.  I have taken it to a many pot lucks and it is always a huge hit.  It is more girl food, but that is okay, more for me.  And you CAN buy peppers already roasted, but really it is easy and WAY cheaper to do yourself.


Roasted Red Pepper Pasta Salad

serves 10-12

1 box penne pasta

1 red pepper-roasted and chopped into 1/2” pieces

1/4 cup fresh basil-sliced thin

1/2 cup feta cheese

salt and pepper

2-3 Tbsp olive oil

In large pot put on water to boil for pasta.  Cook according to directions (make sure you add in salt).  While pasta is cooking put red pepper and basil in large bowl.  When pasta is done cooking drain and put directly into bowl with pepper and basil.  Toss.   Drizzle with oil until it is lightly coated.  .  Let cool to room temperature.  Add in cheese and taste for seasoning.   Add salt and pepper as needed. 

It should look like this when you are done.


To roast a  red pepper:

If you are lucky enough to have a gas stove, I turn the burner on medium and sit the pepper on the top of the flame.  Turn when that side is black and charred.  If you don’t have a gas stove (like me) you can put it in your oven with the rack on the broiler setting and turn every two to three minutes when black turn.  Do this two or three times until all sides are charred.  I actually do this in my toaster oven on the toast setting.

Then set aside and let cool.  When cool enough to handle, peel off outside.  Rinse if needed. 


Easy Chocolate Sauce

By Stephanie

This is SO simple.  And it isn’t your typical chocolate sauce.  It is a fudgy sauce, so I would say hot fudge sauce rather than chocolate sauce.  Once it hits the ice cream it gets that great fudge like quality.  Great as a gift too.  Or something your kids can make for you!


Hot Fudge Sauce

Makes about 2 cups

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1 bag chocolate chips (I prefer semi-sweet but really any will work)

3 Tbsp light corn syrup

1 Tbsp butter

Put everything into large microwave proof bowl.  Put in microwave for one minute.  Stir.  Repeat until chocolate chips are melted.  Serve immediately or keep in fridge and reheat for one minute to serve.