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Living the Weekend Dream

Nothing like saying #takethatms by having an awesome weekend! 

Flyfishing. Flowers. Garden. Walk. Cooking in my new kitchen. Yep. Some of my favorite things. 




After fly fishing the LA River and enjoying the farmers market we made fresh clams in a pot of garlic, butter and white wine.  Delicious! 

First went to farmers market love our local agriculture. Here's a just a small sampling of our goods:  



Then perused the garden and reaped the bounty:  

The rain this year has brought beautiful roses.

 
  

Clams:

Butter. Garlic. White wine. Green onions. Steam and serve. Delicious!  Local asparagus doesn't hurt either. 

Then we found this monarch caterpillar on the milkweed.  

 

#takethatMS 


Trick:  save left over asparagus stems/tips in freezer. over course of springtime you will have enough to peel, cook and purreeinto a lovely soup!  

 

And don't forget to juice with will your fresh veggies!  My newest juice recipe: 

Orange
Apple
Cucumber
Greens
Carrot

Delicious and healthy! 

 

Want more inspiration?  Let's chat! 

#takethatms 

How to Sleep with MS

Why can't we sleep?

There is no real reason other than MS as to why I have sleep issues but it's amazing how I can mess myself up!

Here I am in the beautiful Eastern Sierras listening to Bishop Creek as it riffles by below the cabin. My current view:


On vacation but with a few minor projects and tasks to tend. But not enough to keep me awake all morning. The first night I was exhausted and fell asleep at 9pm when my head hit the pillow, awaking at 4am, which did constitute seven hours of sleep. But I didn't want to be awake at 4am.
So last night I aimed to stay up later thinking I could get seven hours and wake at a reasonable time. Now as the day progressed, after some time in the warm Bishop sun, some fly fishing and some creative cooking, I thought to myself, you are at 8,500' altitude, "Go fill up your water glass". Yes, I thought this often, every time I opened another beer.

I even thought of the magnesium supplement, magneleveux, in my bag, as I opened another beer.

Daydreaming, sketching, visualizing, I had a fun night, as I opened another beer.

Exactly what NOT to do with MS!

Sure, I stayed up until midnight, then woke up at 4:38am. Bing! And I'm awake. The need to pee and the incessant leg spasticity kept me squirming all morning long. The 42 degrees winding through the window bringing with it the sound of the creek was my saving grace. Ugh. I know better. I did take 1/2 a klonopin and a melatonin before going to bed. And another half of klonopin in am when couldn't fall back to sleep.

Three glasses of water later, a banana, magnalevure and some Shen Trition, and this Girl with MS is finally feeling a little better.

What I could have done:

  • Enjoyed the great healthy dinner we had (micro greens, salmon, veggies)
  • Dry brushed my legs
  • Took a not to hot bath
  • Read a book
  • Wrote in blog
Etc....

Yes, these are all better choices then the one I made. So, live and learn. Let go and let God as they say.

This all inspired me to do some researching on sleep and MS. Here is some of what I found:

This is a great summary from WebMD of what can cause folks with MS to have restless sleep: Multiple Sclerosis and Sleep

Life aspects that can effect sleep patterns in those with MS:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Eating
  • Drinking
  • Nutritional health
  • Age
  • Physical activity
  • Mental activity
  • Spasticity
  • Depression
So, how do we deal with this sleep issue?

Time to change our habits!

Food suggestions:

Small bananas are good: (they still contain sugar so small is better before sleep)

"Combining the amino acid tryptophane with carbohydrates as well as calcium and magnesium can help your brain relax and your body nod off to sleep."

And the magic of oatmeal can make the difference of a more restful sleep pattern:

"Calcium has been proven to help the brain use and process tryptophan, while magensium, a natural sedative, acts as an "assistant" to calcium helping it to be absorbed into your system."



Check out more Foods to eat before bedtime from The Health Central Network

There are other things too. This is just a start!

There is Proof that sleep patterns affect MS!

If you've been having sleep issues and feeling more fatigued, there is proof that the two go hand in hand.


Check out this study: "Treatment of sleep disorders can improve fatigue and other clinical outcomes in MS."

“@MSBuzzNews: Multiple Sclerosis Research: Treatment of sleep problems reduces fatigue: Epub: Côté et al. Impact of sleep diso... http://t.co/f68LV6M8”

Ok kids. There is more to come on this and would like your thoughts but there's a high Sierra creek calling my name....





Tools for Living Better with MS

I was recently asked about the tools used to help my life with MS.  It made me pause to consider what were the items that truly created a better life for me.  Not just the normal things here and there but the items that really make a difference.  Here are the results:


1.  Reliable, bluetooth earbuds.  For some reason listening to music helps me stay focused and on point. It might be because the there can be quite a bit of useless noise in the house.  Or a wandering mind which can be brought into line with the beat of some good music.  My earbuds of choice are LG bluetooth.  Mine are a bit older but love them.  Used the corded ones for years but went through about a pair a month. The cords frazzled and fried.   As iPhones get larger my desire to carry it with me everywhere is not there and ability to leave it and move around the house with ease and music is a beautiful thing.  Since music comes from my phone it is interrupted when a call arrives, creating an effective work environment.  



2.  Hydroflask.  Keeping cool and hydrated is important for those with MS, especially as summer is soon upon us.  As a person who does not want to fill this world with too much plastic, my use of reusable water bottles has been going on for years.  Of all the water bottles used in the past, the Hydroflask is my favorite.  It keeps drinks cold, cold, and hot, hot.  I love the small size and carry it everywhere.  Wouldn't mind having a larger one but for now this one will do.  It's easy to take the lid on and off and also comes with a sipping lid for hot beverages and a spigot lid for quicker access.   



3.  Safe Walking Shoes.  Asics just happens to be the brand that has fit my feet for years, including my 10K and 1/2 marathon days.  But find the brand that fits you best!  Today I'm lucky to just walk, but a good pair of walking or running shoes that tie safely and have good traction is essential for folks with MS.   Being ambulatory can be challenging and in an effort to be as safe as possible I purchase a fresh pair of walking shoes each year.  



4.  Bandanas:  One of my favorite things ever. Can blow a nose or use as a way to cool the body down.  Get them wet and put one in the freezer.  On hot days, take it out and wrap around neck for a quick cool down.  Stays wet for quite awhile.  In an effort to reduce plastic, I use bandanas to wrap up my lunch and other essentials.  Easily washable and yes, can be dipped in cold water and used for instant cooling down. 


5.  Essential Oils.   Ahhhh.  So many reasons to love oils.  They smell good for one.  And that can put just about anyone into a better mood.   Bath salts before bedtime can help sleep.  Lavender oil on the bed sheets can help induce sleep.  Cedar wood in the diffuser can help one sleep.  A blend by doTerra called "Balance" seems to be custom made my for MS.  A little on the bottom of my feet just gives me the boost of confidence needed to get through the day.  Morning time - tired legs can feel refreshed with peppermint oil and aloe vera gel rubbed gently into the muscles and nerves.  Often it seems that the placebo effect can be quite effective.  Essential oils are difficult to test and substantiate.  But they're beautiful, smell great and make a positive difference in my life.  

6.  "Notes" software.  As an iPhone/Apple user all of my notes post across devices.  This is huge for my MS.  Everything to do is written down from one device or another and there, keeping my lists in line.  With horrible memory at times, lists are necessary and this is a tool used everyday.  Write everything down and it will be in one place.  Sometimes I use journals and other places to write things down but generally, kept in one place they are more effective.  
7. Handwritten notes of gratitude.  As a tool?  You bet.  There is something about the slowing down of handwriting, of the hand-eye coordination and the brain stimulation of penning a note to a friend.  Several times a week I will correspond to a friend or family across the country or down the street. Within each note is a moment of gratitude, a compliment or something positive.  It's easy and common to complain about what doesn't go right.  But what about what does go right?  Do we thank the hotel manager for the wonderful job they did do?  Call out an exceptional staff member by name because we took the time to slow down and pay attention.  Be present.  Be thankful.  Shower the world with love.

Click here for some beautiful designs.  


8.  Healing teas:   Enough with the pharmaceuticals and drugs.  Can we really achieve wellness with natural remedies?  You bet!  First off - do you want a wake-up, refreshening morning tea?  No caffeine but a boost of energy?  maybe peppermint and lemongrass.  Or...if you are feeling nervy and want a soothing tea, go for the chamomile or a soothing/night time tea.  Some special teas might be ayervedic "pitta" tea that reduces heat in the body.  Or a Chinese healing tea full of royal chrysanthemum and dandelion root.



9.  Port a Potty.  My favorite - Travel John.  this has saved me more than once.  Ever had to pee and just knew you would not make it to the restroom?  This little contraption has found it's way into all of my travel bags and large purses.  So easy, so lightweight.  So practical.  Just having one with me seems to give my bladder the confidence it needs to hold strong.  The day I didn't have one was when I peed all over my jeans.  Oops.  #lifewithMS



10.  Research!  Read and learn as much as possible.  We must become our own advocates and knowledge is power.   


Cheese Making Day and MS

Its the first of the new year and I've been busy making and enjoying cheese!   All kinds of cheese from Cashew/Vegan cheese to Queso Blanco, to homemade goat cheese and farmers cheese.   I love cheese and so curious about the process.  It was on my bucket list but is now checked off.  

Also, purchased were supplies to make more cheeses, like cheddar and mozzarella.   The learning curve is fun and fast.  Basically spent the week on Pinterest, at the market and then in front of the stove.   Next time more milk will be used so more cheese can be produced.  Since it was my first time, just a quart of milk was used for each of the three homemade recipes.  Two from cows milk and one from fresh raw Goats milk.  

To get me in the mood, some queso blanco with WSU Cougar Gold was in order.  This cheese was not homemade by me but made by students at Washington State University and is one of my absolute favorite.  So, melted that into my white sauce (made with rich homemade vegetable stock) and added a previously frozen, now roasted, jalapeno pepper.  With a bowl of chips and salsa I sat down to a day of football and pinterest.  


Queso Blanco made with WSU Cougar Gold Cheddar Cheese and Jalapenos



Had some raw cashews so soaked them up over night and processed them the next day with 1) garlic and olive oil and 2) Sriracha spiced.   I used this recipe.  Yum!  





Then came the real fun - the whole fresh milk cheese!  

REAL MILK CHEESE

First two are a farmers cheese made from cow's milk. Click here for recipe. The third one is goat cheese with lemon and thyme.   Delicious and so easy!  

After heating the milk, add the acid and let it curdle away.  Then separate the curdles from the whey, drain, press and voila - CHEESE!


Farmers Cheese (cow) with Blueberry Salt from Iceland

fresh rosemary and garlic
Bundle herbs in muslin, tie with string
use bundles to infuse milk while it's warming up on the stove
Farmers Cheese infused with Garlic and Rosemary
Fresh flowers and herbs sprinkles in muslin before draining.

Next made was a Chevre, or goat cheese.  Same process as above, using a simple acid (lemon juice) to curdle the milk.   I used this recipe but there are a lot out there.  I used fresh thyme and lemon juice at end to make a light, refreshing cheese.   Just this morning it was consumed with sour dough baguette and fresh black/raspberries from our local farmers market.  Delicious!  (consumed before a photo could be taken but darn it was good)






What a way to celebrate the Golden Globes and La La Land, a beautiful and inspirational movie.    Fresh homemade cheese (also had some fresh fig jam).  Feeling quite spoiled, a feeling to treasure on this gloomy, rainy Monday.  

At the end of the day one has lots of Whey left over.  In commercial cheese making this whey is considered toxic and buried in the ground.  But in home cheese making this whey is valuable!   Last night it was used to flavor the water in our version of Uncle Ben's rice.  Dang, it was good!

Next on the agenda is to try some Feta and Mozzarella.  Both of these require rennet, which was purchased on Amazon and ready to use.  (No one around town had it in store or would have purchased it locally).  

So, what does cheese making and MS have to do with each other?  Well, anytime one can check something off their bucket list is a good thing, and since we never know how fast/hard/where the MS will hit next we need to take advantage of our life possibilities as best we can.  

My weekly talks at #TakethatMS online support group are focusing on this very topic, how to take advantage of life's possibilities.  Did you see La La Land?   I know, I know, so Hollywood.  But heck, I'm a born and bred So Cal Hollywood Girl and this movie quite resonated with me.  The line, where she talks about one's potential.  That's it; the key to life.  Maximizing our potential.  

Now, throw in a disability like MS and this potential seems to go out the door.  But wait, let's look at this potential again.  Revise the picture you see of yourself in the coming year, or five years.  How do you want people to remember you by?  to think of you as?  How do YOU want to feel about yourself as life ends?  Every year and each decade my bucket list changes based on MS and my life.  

Sometimes we just need to remove an item from our list, knowing that it most likely will not happen in our lifetime.  Realizing this is painful and sad as it reminds us of the disabling affects of multiple sclerosis, something we did not choose to get.  

But when this happens, when we need to remove something from our life wish list, then immediately replace it with something else.  Something a bit more attainable.  Not able to downhill ski or snowboard anymore?  What about snow shoeing if able to walk?   The point here is to look for options to allow you to enjoy your life more.  Some of my bucket list items are from "when I get really old, I'll play golf".  Well, that golfing option is looking pretty good right now and one that may not be an option for me for long.   

Maybe the new item is smaller, less demanding.  Totally different.  It doesn't matter.  Just find something new that inspires you and go for it.  Today, mine was cheese making.   And now I'm looking forward to learning more about this process and trying to types.  And then getting to eat it all

#takethatMS

Take 5

One of those days?  Remember to take five. It will Recharge your battery.

It's worth it! 



One of my favorite tea blends.  Gentle mint and chrysthanthum flowers.  

#takethatMS

6 Things to Do to Stay Social with MS

First of all - depression is a very serious condition.  If you ever feel where you are losing control or need help please call your local 800 crisis line, a friend or a family member and tell them how you are feeling.  This can not be stressed enough.  Please, be careful with this powerful emotion.  

Many people with MS deal with rocky emotions and depression. This is the fault of MS and nothing else.  We are not crazy (mostly).  We have an illness that can throw us into our own personal tornado.

Matillija Poppy @DescansoGardens

Here is my own experience:

Isolation. That is where I tend to find myself.  Isolated from friends and society.  If left to my tendencies would hole up in a treehouse, write, cook food, garden and stay to myself.  I mean who wants to play with the undependable aspects of someone living with MS?  They bother me so I can imagine what my friends or family might think.

But this is not true.  Isolation is not good. Humans are pack animals and can thrive in a group setting. Social interaction is good to keep the mind straight and intact: to keep it from wandering down unwarranted paths.

Here are 5 suggestions for staying social with MS:

1.  Pick up the phone.  Call a friend.  In this social media world sometimes there is nothing better than hearing someone's true voice.  TIP:  Use ear buds.  Fatigue is already bad enough for those with MS but having to hold a phone to the ear is terrible waste of energy.

2.  Write a letter.  The connection between hand, eye and mind is stimulating for the brain.  A good exercise to keep the synapses working.  Also, it creates a stronger relationship between the writer and receiver.  Handwriting is unique.  Personal. No two are really the same.  No two people are really the same.  Take your time and use it to meditate while you write.  Why are you grateful for this person in your life?  Then share that with them.  As the heart grows fonder, may it help ease the pains of MS.  TIP:  Buy preprinted notecards that have your address on them. Make it easy and fun.  Buy fun stamps to go with them.

3.  Get involved.  Volunteer for a local organization.  It does not even really matter what you do - it may be gardening or helping a student learn to read.  Volunteering is a great way to feel a purpose in life yet often has some flexibility to work around the restrictions that come with MS.

4.  Go for a walk.  Not a power walk  but a nice stroll through your neighborhood.  During this walk bring your awareness to the forefront of your mind.  Don't just look at everything but see everything.  If you were writing about what you were seeing what are some of the words you would use to describe the scene? Bring this beautiful words to mind and consider what you are seeing - open your mind to new sights.

5. Explore.  Is there a bookstore or coffee shop in your town that you've never visited?  A restaurant you've been wanting to try?  It's OK to go out on your own.  Explore and find new things - you never know who you might meet along the way.  Maybe it's a squirrel.  Or a bird that flies by.  But maybe it's a person similar to you who might need a smile and "hello" as much as you need it.

6.  Smile.  One of the best medicines, a good laugh and smile.  In fact they are quite contagious.  See someone without a smile?  Smile at them and see the reflection.  Most often they will smile in return.  Such an easy and infectious way to pass along some happiness.  Smiling is good for the body, mind and soul. It also encourages interaction with other people.  Make eye-contact and smile and you may just have a new friend in life.

Life is hard enough with MS, but these simple tips can help us live a better life.  We ned to take action but the response will come. Take the first step toward social activity.  Keep taking these steps and feel how the interaction is helping you, how it's changing you and keeping you more present.  Be aware of these changes, and be grateful for the steps you have taken to be at this better spot in life.

Celebrating Mother's Day with Mom & Dad

We are our own advocates and our wellness is a full-time job.  Stay strong and stay positive.  And remember, We've Got This!


#takethatMS




Flank Steak, NBA Cookies and Multiple Sclerosis

Those who know me are familiar with my love for local agriculture.  One way I like to support local ag is to sign up for a monthly meat buyers club.  For years we had a chicken farm and raised birds for the some of the best restaurants on the Central Coast.   But since it closed the search for a really well raised bird was on.   Then one day at farmer's market, was a small booth offering locally raised livestock.  Skeptical and spoiled by country-raised foods of Templeton, I bought a chicken.  And never looked back.  Delicious. Beautiful.  Grass-raised outside.  Just like we did.  Just like grandma and great grandma raised.  


 Autonomy Farms located outside of Bakersfield, California.  Since it's about 90 minutes from us they bring their beautifully raised and produced beef, chicken, lamb and pork products to our farmers market in La Canada Flintridge, California.  Each month my box has a variety of cuts of meats and one full chicken.  Here are some of the fun things made this last month with my box.  Please note that many of my recipes are from Ree Drumond, the Pioneer Woman.   I lived and worked on horse/cattle ranches while in university and understand what she makes.  Also, she likes her meat nice and rare, just like my folks, so if I follow her guidelines, the gang usually approves.



Love me a roasted chicken.  I make it very easy and follow this recipe as guidelines:   Basically pat it dry, and generously salt it.  Salt the cavity and fill with lemon/full garlic bulb cut in half and herbs - whatever is growing in the garden.  Sometimes I take butter and herb and smear it between the skin and the breast meat.  What am I saying, I always smear between the meat and skin.   Then drizzle a melted stick of butter all over th chicken.  Not all of it but about half the stick.  Melt it all, drizzle the bird, roast for 20 minutes, baste with butter, roast for another 25, take it's temperature.  Ready to pull out?  then keep it in roaster.  Then simply roast at 425 for 90 minutes or so, about 20 minutes a pound or until done.  When done, take out and let rest.   

This bird made a tasty chicken pot pie.  Delicious.  After it rested remove the meat from the bird and cut up/shred about 4 cups.  (remember to make stock out of the carcass).  I sauted up diced onion, red and green bell pepper,  and carrots.   Then added a couple of tablespoons of  flours and let that cook for a bit while stirring.  Then added homemade veggie stock (because that's what I had, of course chicken stock would work great).  And let it all simmer for awhile.  At some point added frozen corn and peas - cause these just belong in a pot pie.   Simmering away and added back the chicken.  Now everything should be in the pot.  Good.   Then cooled it off and stuck it in fridge because I didn't need to cook it till the next day.  




The dough was flour, butter and eggs.  With fresh thyme leaves added.  Quite buttery and delicious.  Made it using pastry cutters.  Felt good to finish this one.  


 Popped it in the oven and voila!  


APPY-TIZERS 

While setting up for dinner, put together some home made mozzarella cheese marinated in local herbs and olive oil.  And made a salmon spread off some left overs.  Tasty and healthy.   



Here's the whole plate.  Home made chili (from dried beans and locally raised grass fed beef), chicken pot pie, LA Laker/LA Clipper cookies, salad and rose bordeaux style.  



RUMP ROAST - ROAST BEEF 

And as if that wasn't enough next piece of meat in the buyers club was the rump roast.  Mmmmm.  Pot roast.  But wait, let's do something juicy and tasty for everyone (I love pot roast but not everyone's favorite).  What to do with the rump roast?  Make a roast beast (so easy and everyone loved it!).  Tender, Juicy, and rare!   

The morning I was planning on making this beef I realized there was a meeting down at City Hall for a couple of hours.  Hmmm.  Here was a recipe that called for a high heat of 500 for about 14 minutes (7 per pound) then turn off the oven for two hours.  Do not open the oven.  Well, OK, this sounds good.  And BOY was it!   TASTY   and so nice and rare.  Made for great sandwiches during the week.  




Nice and crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside  It was juicier the more we cut into it.  Everyone loved it!   


Inspired by a pioneer woman episode, here is the flank steak salad.  The flank steak was one cut received in my meat buyers club, so here we go!    Oh and did I mention the onion rings?  Dad LOVES onion rings so this should be a big hit.  And I happen to have buttermilk left over from another project.   This tasty marinade was easy:  Olive oil, red wine vinegar, balsamic, ginger, garlic, salt pepper, sriracha, and whatever else got in the way.  






My folks went to farmers market because I was busy.  They picked up some great little onions, perfect for these delicate fries.  Simply soak the onion slices in the buttermilk for an hour or so. Then fry up in the peanut oil.  We were so low in oil but it worked out OK.  Whew!   Always keep your pantry stocked with the essentials.  




And then dish it all up into one big salad.  So tasty!   Added fresh tomatoes, dressing and goat cheese.  Blue cheese would've rocked but we didn't have any.  


NBA BASKETBALL COOKIES 

What young boy/man doesn't like NBA cookies of their favorite teams?   House divided in our family but a good time to share wins and losses.   Sugar cookies with printable sugar labels.  Adorable!



So, this is how I say #takethatMS, finding inspiration in the kitchen.  
We have to take it when we can.  Or give it when we can.  Been a month of inspiration and getting things done.   The feeling of making lots of homemade food and being able to freeze it for later is a good one, it's a one of accomplishment and appreciation.