5 Handy Hints for Living Independently

Part 1: Taking a Shower Without Falling

Do you sometimes need some assistance with everyday activities? Sometimes I need a lot!  If you are living independently, or don’t want to depend on somebody to help you, I have a few ideas that might help. I have used each of these and you can decide which ones might be just the idea you need.


1. If you get unsteady or dizzy in the shower, try to orient yourself before you step in. This is as important at home as it is if you are traveling or visiting. One wall will have the knobs and faucets. If it is an unfamiliar shower, practice turning the water, volume and force until you feel it will be comfortable. If there is a stopper, make sure it is open unless you like wading in a pond with your eyes closed.

2. One wall is often where the soap dish, shampoo and other products are. In a tub, you may be using the ledge.  Make sure you put each item in a place that makes sense to you.  I have washed my hair in body wash and my body in hair conditioner so many times, I even have my favorites. What seems so logical in the light, seems OZical through shampoo eyes.

3. Check out the other walls of the shower stall. You need a good idea how far you would have to reach to feel a wall.  You might have a shower curtain or liner, a bench seat, an actual door that opens out or slides open, a double shower, or a tiny cubical. If you get disoriented or dizzy, touch a wall. Do NOT open the door to get out until you are stable. And I have gotten lost in my own shower more than once!

4. If you have fainting or falling issues, like me, the best shower device I have found is a shower seat. Even if you have a built in shower seat, place an extra towel on it so you don’t have a slippery seat when wet. My moveable shower seat is plastic and steel, and is pretty light weight. It was passed on to me and has many years’ service to go. A squirt down with bleach water, Scrubbing Bubbles, or other cleaner while the seat is in  the shower is all you need, and only as often as you clean your shower. My seat has molded handles on each side. I ordered a bed rail organizer with pockets. It was too short  for my king size bed, but works nicely on my shower seat. It even gives me a non-slippery surface to sit on, and my soap or body wash, shampoo, razor, and other items are handy.

5. If your shower is in a bathtub, several helps and hacks may add another level of security for you.  Use a shower or bath seat, if you can.  You can bathe your whole body  while you are sitting on the seat, and standing up and getting out will be much easier. At the least, put an extra towel over the front ledge to give you a seat for getting in and out, whether you can step into the tub or not.  You can try using safety bars, handles, traction strips, over-the-ledge seats–any other aids that might help. Falling in a tub or shower is painful and maybe humiliating, but getting out by yourself after you have fallen may be next to impossible.

Where do you get all these helping aids? Maybe your insurance covers the cost.  I have only bought one piece of equipment, and that was less than $20. Just ask! So many people get bath seats and such for a temporary disability. Many would love to pass things along for free. If you are on social media, let your needs be known. Stay independent as long as you can!


Stylish Napkin Storage from Trash

Taking a Velveeta lid, toilet paper rolls, and some decorative tape, this becomes a caddy to store paper napkins or other items.

    After seeing hundreds of ideas for using empty toilet paper rolls and other cardboard “trash”, and all kinds of crafts using Washi tape, I got the recycling upcycling bug.

Rotel-Velveeta Cheese Dip with Sausage is a once a year calorie-and-fat-filled treat nowadays. That makes the empty Velveeta boxes rarer but very useful. And with two bathrooms and the new sizes of toilet paper, we generate a lot of empty toilet paper rolls. I couldn’t stand tossing that many possible usable materials. Ready to up-cycle!

I priced Washi decorative tape, and Duck Duct tape, as well as 3M. Not the choice for me. At Walmart and Dollar General I found rolls of tape with the same square yards in cute patterns for $1 a roll, so I bought several. I spotted a package of cheap electrical tape with six different colored rolls for $1. Bingo!

The construction is very simple. I chose one of the wide tapes with a blue and red pattern on white. Although my first thought was to use a jumble of colors and patterns, I realized I preferred something coordinated. So I picked out the red and white electrical tapes, which were just as thin and flexible as the larger tape.

1. Wrap the cheese box and 4-6 toilet paper rolls with the tapes in the pattern of your choice. 

2. Place the tape so it goes a little above the top and bottom of the box and rolls. Then you can fold the tape over the edges for a smoother look. 

3. Arrange the rolls inside the box. If you have rolls that slightly flatten, don’t toss them. Just use them in your arrangement. 

4. Fill the rolls with decorative or useful items. Then  enjoy! Here are a few things I think would work:

assorted paper dinner napkins

storage for tall screwdrivers

a place for foam and bristle paint brushes

artificial flowers and greenery

How will you make something out of trash? I love your comments and questions. 



Crispy Ranch Bran Chicken

Crispy Ranch Bran Chicken

Looking for a delicious entre’ for dinner? This one is almost all meat and can be served with many options.

Crispy Ranch Chicken recipes are all over the Internet.  I looked at several, checked my pantry and came up with my variation.

I started with four huge meaty chicken breast halves.  I always buy boneless, skinless chicken breasts. That way there is no waste. I cut the breasts in about three pieces each. If you spread out the breast, you can see where to cut first: just follow the white line separating the tenderloin (tenders) from the large breast. Then I cut the larger part by slicing through the thickest part to make both slices about the same thickness.  The purpose of the smaller pieces is that they have more surface to hold the delicious coatings.

Two casserole dishes about 10″ X 10″ each looked about right since I had about 12-14 large and small pieces of chicken to cook. I melted half a stick of margarine in each dish.  You could melt the margarine in a bowl, but I already had two other coatings in bowls. I dredged each piece of chicken in the melted margarine, and as the cold chicken sat in the warm margarine, the margarine started congealing, but everything got coated just fine.

The next coating was Italian bread crumbs (about a cup) mixed with one package of ranch dressing dry mix.  I often use ranch dressing from a bottle, but I wanted a drier coating.  One by one I dredged the pieces in this coating, then on to the third: one cup of bran flakes, crushed, and 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese.  Why bran flakes? Because I didn’t have corn flakes, of course.

The chicken pieces baked in the casserole dishes at 362 degrees Far. One recipe I found said to use 375, and another 350, so I split the difference, and set my old oven knob between the two temps. After thirty minutes uncovered, I drizzled the tops with olive oil (don’t do this), covered with aluminum sheets which I buy at Dollar Tree, and baked them for fifteen more minutes. After the beautiful breast pieces came out of the oven, I let them sit a few minutes, then I decided to drain the pieces.  The olive oil was not needed–follow the real recipe! I put the same clean foil sheets on the counter with a cooling rack on top.  Ten minutes later, I had about ten gorgeous pieces of Crispy Ranch Bran Chicken and a few small pieces to serve for Mothers Day.

For 8-12 servings:

4-5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts; I stick of margarine (1/2 cup); 1 package of dry Ranch dressing mix; 1 cup of Italian bread crumbs; 1 cup of bran or corn flakes, crushed; 1/3 cup of grated Parmesan cheese.  Coat, bake, enjoy!

Let me know what you think! Is this recipe one you might try? Do you have a better recipe or process? Do you think I ought to keep my nonexistent day job and let others do the cooking?  I would love to hear from you. My regular email is jwmartin31@yahoo.com





Cow Herders Pie

Baked pie shell with ground beef and two vegetable-beef soups on top.

Because It Sure Isn’t Mutton

   Having one of those “I have to fix dinner, but all I have is ground beef and not much else and I don’t have time to go to the grocery store because everybody is famished and if I went, I would probably      go in the coolers behind the dairy case and take a nap” evenings?

    Me, too, and I don’t even do the cooking.  But hubby is at church working at a WOW Women Of Worship day, and I know he won’t have time to go to the store. (I can’t drive for medical reasons.)

I pushed my wheelbarrow-walker in front of the pantry and fridge and came out with a few things and an idea.  We had the ground beef, of course, but we just had hamburgers, hubby had meat loaf for lunc yesterday, and I eat too much when we have spaghetti.

     A few weeks ago I fixed a ground beef shepherds pie that hubby raved over–a rare occurrence. I got milk, hamburger meat, grated cheddar cheese, margarine, some leftover vegetable-beef soup, and a thawed out pie shell from the fridge.  In the pantry, I found a can of Campbell’s Chunky Beef Tips and Vegetables Soup and a package of Clover Valley Four Cheese Instant Potatoes.  Then I got to work.

     I spread the pie shell over the bottom and up as far as I could in a square casserole dish. I baked the shell ten minutes to give it some extra stability under the other ingredients. I browned the ground beef in a large skillet and added in both soups.  That’s when I remembered to take pictures.  Then I poured the meat and vegetables over the pie crust.  And that’s when I realized I had forgotten to drain the ground beef.  I put some hot dog and hamburger buns which were headed for the bread crumb bag, on top of the meat mixture to absorb  some of the extra grease.  Sure wish I had a big dog to give those meaty buns to.

    I used the same frying pan, poured in two and 1/2 cups of milk and four tablespoons of margarine, and brought it almost to a boil.  I poured in the instant potatoes, turned off the stove, and stirred just a little. As the potatoes thickened, I stirred more and added pepper.  Then I poured the potatoes on top of the meat and vegetables and spread that.  I sprinkled on about half a cup of shredded mild cheddar, put the casserole in the oven at 350* for ten minutes, and took out a delicious meal.


     To be careful with your money, I certainly recommend a meal or two for which you buy nothing else, other than what’s in the house already. Since this is the last day of the month and I have not bought “big groceries” in a month, this is a big affirmation that there is almost always something to fix.



A Nickel’s Worth of DIY on a Bedside Table

My slatted bedside table needed to be cleaned off, straightened up, and maybe redone. I took some very simple steps to make my wood table look better, at least to me, and at least for now.
First, I moved everything off the three shelves and dusted the shelves thoroughly. I didn’t sand. I didn’t prime.
Second, I used some white liquid shoe polish in its applicator. I sponged the polish on a slat or two of the top shelf and on one top rim. I went over this small amount of wood a couple of times. Since the applicator sponge is very old, the polish barely came out, being almost dry, but sometimes the polish came out in big drops. The purpose was to see how this table might looked white washed, not painted. I think I will paint and distress this table at a later time.
Third, I replaced the open-weave plastic placemats I’ve used on top of the table for two years. I have to drink water and citrus juice drinks very often because of a kidney condition, and these placemats take hot, cold, or sweating bottles and containers without leaving puddles or suction. I like the whitewash sample with the royal blue mats. Another vote for painting.
Fourth, I replaced the brass-look lamp base, some magazines, my medicine container, a former coaster holder I use for nighttime necessities, a desktop pen holder I use for other things I might need, and my juice container. I also put a former letter holder near the edge. You’ll see it in a photo with two of my three “devices”. The red cover is my LG tablet. The blue cover is my iPad mini. The third space is for my iPhone, which I was using to take the photo! The little blue clip holds the two charging wires to the device holder.
The last step for today was to put my blood pressure monitor, misc. basket, knee brace, and arm brace on their shelves. I also replaced a folding laptray which I use for coloring sheets, handwritten notes, and small jigsaw puzzles, and for eating soup in bed. A much neater bedside table awaits its turn to be painted, and I am a bunch happier with the results and decisions I made.

Cost: about 5 cents worth of years old shoe polish.

Please like or comment on this post if you will. I’d like to know if anybody gets any ideas or has other comments.  Thank you very much!

Funny Fairy-less Garden

My first fairy garden, with Mickey and Minnie!

image     Everybody creative seems to be making fairy gardens, so I decided to give it a try. You may not believe some of the things I did.

A windy Texas night blew a great empty plastic planter into our yard.  It would have been impossible for me to return it, even if I had an idea from which of twenty lawns on our block it came. (Giant note here–I have mobility issues that keep me tied to a medical alert in case of falls, bad feet, and weak legs. So some things that would be easy for most people are giant challenges for me.) But I really wanted a fairy garden to enjoy with my youngest two grandchildren.

I read on a garden tip to use empty plastic bottle to fill some of the space in a planter.  That would allow for better drainage and require less soil.  On the same day, I read on my news feed that scientists somewhere believe plants can grow with much less soil.  When I stick a potato into half a jar of water, it grows tendrils and leaves all over, doesn’t it?

When I had the planter more than half filled with plastic, I used my walker as a wheelbarrow to move the planter and my other supplies to an old table on the back patio.  Everything has to be waist high so I can reach it. I added about $.50 worth of potting soil.  As I added and smoothed the soil, I removed a total of five pint bottles, leveling the dirt to the normal molded edge.

Planting flower bulbs in March in Texas to grow outside is not a normal practice, but fools rush in . . .  I bought a few caladium bulbs, a few gladioli bulbs, and a bunch of packs of flower seeds. They weren’t my favorite flowers, but they were half price or less! These cost a total of $2.00.  I may as well admit: I have the blackest thumb God ever made. I kill cactus with overwatering and dry up water lilies. I usually apologize to the plants I buy for their inevitable but untimely deaths.  But hope springs eternal.  After the bulbs were tucked in, with minor adjustments to the bottles under the soil, and the seeds were tamped in gently, I added $.50 worth of spagham moss on top.  I like spagham because it is lightweight and finely textured.

Now for the real fun! On my last trip to Family Dollar,  I set my budget at $10.00, no more than a dollar an item, to buy things for the garden.  I looked for fairies, but they were hiding, so I found a little Mickey and Minnie Mouse.  I bought four little plastic succulents, just like the ones I found on Pinterest. A welcome sign, a metal trellis, a stalk of butterfly flowers, all in fairy garden sizes.  My last and favorite purchase was a tiny set of cupcakes, found on the stationery aisle because, of course, they are actually erasers.  On the patio, I found some blue caps from some toy, and some chunks of concrete to add in.

Putting everything together, one handful of soil at a time, took about an hour and a half.  I was exhausted, but I actually can hardly wait for something to germinate. And don’t tell my secret–I just can’t wait until tomorrow to have an M&M tea party in the garden.

Thanks for encouragement and help from Janice Wald of mostlyblogging.com, the ladies at Hometalk.com, Susan and Donna at Susan.ms.com, and hundreds of posters on Pinterest.


How Beautiful . . . Is a Christlike Daughter-in-Law, Or Two!

The Texas Martins
The Texas Martins: Back: Kenny, Kevin, Carrie; Front: Claire, Jewell, Kayla. 

  Note to Start:  I have TWO Christlike daughters-in-law, Tracey Dishroon Martin, and Carrie Samford Martin. In this post, I am only going to focus on Carrie.  Tracey will be featured another day.  They are both such blessings in our family, but sometimes you have to make a choice. 

  Carrie Samford Martin is our second daughter-in-law, married to Kevin Russell Martin, our younger son. She is the mother of our two youngest granddaughters, Claire Estelle Martin and Kayla Marie Martin, now ages 5 and 3, respectively.  

Carrie started out in our family at a disadvantage.  We already had the perfect dil, Tracey, who is married to our older son, Lewis.  Tracey added so much fun, energy, generosity, and love for Christ. How could Carrie measure up? It was just like parents who fear they won’t have enough love to give to a second child, when their whole hearts belong to the firstborn. We feared we could not love Carrie as much, or get as close to her, as we had Tracey.  Then, just like those fearful parents, when the new baby brings forth overwhelming love, as soon as we had spent a few hours with Carrie, we loved her like a daughter.

Another slight concern we had about Carrie was that she had been raised in a Pentecostal church, no Sunday School, and was not a leader yet in her church.  How would she fit in? She fit in like the jewels in a Swiss watch–perfectly. She and Kevin were soon working in several areas of responsibility in our evangelical church. She learned from us, and we learned from her. No, they are not required to worship with us–this is their calling, and we always encourage them to be open if are called somewhere else.

  When should a parent start praying for their children’s future spouses? We did as soon as we knew our babies were sons. We prayed for the boys that they would be good, loving Christian men, and that God would prepare good, kind Christian women for them, and He did.  On the other side, my husband and I have tried to be as good inlaws as we could be.  I stated my blog site would be about family, among other things, and I’m sure I will talk about family many times.  But for me, your family is only going to be as good as you allow it to be. Follow your faith, obey your vows, and love each other as much as possible.  Maybe you will add a Tracey or Carrie to your family tree. 



Me, holding Kayla, and Nano (Mamie), holding Claire.  Now running from age 3-98.
Me, holding Kayla, and Nano (Mamie), holding Claire. Now running from age 3-98.

 We are born, and then we start to die.  Have you ever thought you were dying? Maybe it was on the highest, fastest roller coaster around. Maybe you were having a gall bladder attack. Maybe you were pinned under an automobile, not sure if help would come. Maybe it was when a spider suddenly dropped down on your shoulder.  Whenever it was, one thing is certain. You were wrong, or you wouldn’t be reading this! 

Life is short. Don’t waste it. If you live with chronic pain, whether from an injury, or from some chronic condition, there may be hours or days when you wish you would die. Or at the least, be relieved of your pain. Quite probably, you are also living with depression. Diagnosed or not, the constant pain, fatigue, dark moods, changes in your sleep, feelings of despair, uselessness, unworthiness, and loneliness are all symptoms.  Doctors tell me depression is a chemical imbalance, and I’m all balanced now. But every time I have a negative thought, or a get sad or feel like crying, or the pain is almost more than I can bear, I am afraid the depression is coming back. Sometimes I really think I want to die. It would be so much easier on my family. Then I think about being around my family and friends. I want to live to be ninety-three!

  Like sands through the hourglass. . .  Ah, the days of the soap operas. Although there were many on TV in the late 60s, the only soap I watched was The Days of Our Lives.  When Kenny and I were married, we continued to watch. I found out I was pregnant the same week one of the stars found out she was pregnant.  I knew nothing about pregnancy, so I thought I could learn from TDOL. As my pregnancy, all day sickness and swelling belly progressed, the star was barely showing. Fast forward: my baby was six months old before the star gave birth. Disenchanted, I still stuck with TDOL off and on for a few years. When the TV baby aged from five to thirteen in a single summer break, the romance was over. As I was learning, sometimes the days were long, but the years were short. My own sons grew up much faster than I was expecting. They finished high school, dated, and slowly fell in love with their best friends. They each married, and now I have five grandchildren.  When my health is really bad, I fear I won’t live to see them all grown, married, and perhaps parents. But I have another example.

My blessed mother-in-law, Mamie, is now 98 years old. She is in excellent health, so she may get to have Willard Scott show her picture on a jar of jelly in a couple of years. If the Lord allows, she may live to be 110 or 115, which would make her one of the oldest living people. I hope she stays healthy and lives long. My husband wants to be 105, and my sons are counting on her genes. Our youngest granddaughter at three sashays around the house, loves necklaces, and holds her hand up in a prissy pose, just like her greatgrandmother. That’s watching the sands measure the generations. Life is good.

Den Rescue Needed!

Den Rescue Needed!

My dark den really needs your help. I’ve been looking at it for ten years, and almost nothing has changed.

  We moved into our present home ten years ago. I love it. Our previous house was so small, but this one has room for guests to have their room, for us to have small group meetings for our church, and to have larger gatherings spread out through the den, kitchen, dining room, and living room. The walls are white with a lavender undertone throughout the house. We put wood or tile laminate in the kitchen, den, hallways and bathrooms. The living room, dining room, and the three bedrooms all have light beige carpet.

The den is the usual gathering place for my husband and me, and our nearby family and friends.  We definitely want everything to be comfortable. But we would like it to be more attractive. However, hubby says no new seating, no really fancy pillows because we have two young granddaughters who often have messy hands, and he wants to wait until next May to get nice drapes. I bought a gorgeous peacock pillow from Overstock.com, but it sat one day in the den before he moved it to the living room so it wouldn’t get dirty!

The fireplace is a true architectural feature. It has a nice rounded hearth, a lovely mantle of light colored oak, then runs all the way to the ceiling.  We have a drawing of the scriptures that tell of the crucifiction of Jesus and the words form a picture of Jesus on the cross. This was done by our son Kevin, and it’s not going anywhere.  Right now I have a set of Chinese vases and urns given to me by my sister Sue on the mantel. I will probably have a big ceramic nativity scene there for Christmas.

So my situation is this: I can’t change much in my husband’s favorite room, but I really want something to class up the joint. I hope you laughed, because I did. I promised not to spent more than $40. I really would like your input.  (And I am a novice blogger, and inserting photos still has me flummoxed.) Please feel free to be creative, but be gentle in your criticism.

Silk flowers? Silk ficus trees?  Cat tails or peacock feathers?  More or graphic pillows? A new husband?

Dark blue-gray upholstery; mixed wood stains on floor and furniture; reddish mixed-brick fireplace from hearth to 14' ceiling.
Dark blue-gray upholstery; mixed wood stains on floor and furniture; reddish mixed-brick fireplace from hearth to 14′ ceiling.
We are thrilled with our fireplace, from hearth to ceiling.
We are thrilled with our fireplace, from hearth to ceiling.

Lose Ten Pounds in Three Weeks–That’s What He Said

Veggie soup, no potatoes, avocado scooped from shell, pit removed; Cherub tomatoes and cantaloupe.
Veggie soup, no potatoes, avocado scooped from shell, pit removed; Cherub tomatoes and cantaloupe.

I’m having a Heart Cath in a few weeks. My cardiologist said that losing even ten pounds in the next few weeks can make a difference in any potential blockages. I lost 75 pounds a few years ago, but I have gained thirty of it back due to some of my meds, basic inability to walk except very short distances, and my love of croissants. I’ve been eating healthily most meals, but losing TEN POUNDS in three weeks is a pretty big challenge.  I thought you might like to see a few of my meals.

My restrictions and requirements are simple: 1. Eat all the vegetables I can, but corn and potatoes are not vegetables.  2. Eat all the fresh fruits I can, without whipped topping.  3. Eat mostly chicken, but no more than 4-6 ounces a day, or substitute very lean proteins like eggs or 2 oz. of beef.  4. Eat very little bread, pasta, or other white flour-based carbs. Very little means 1-2 slices of bread OR an ounce of pasta, OR one medium bagel with no spreads, per DAY.  5. Drink lots of water and citrus juices (because of my kidney condition.)

So what have I been eating? Am I starving? Did I deaden my taste buds so I don’t know that I’m eating sawdust and spit? NO! I love vegetables in almost any form. I like color and variety on my plate. As much as I love a great steak and other meats, I have cut down greatly on all meats, including chicken, and any gravy, dressing or stuffing, or potatoes and corn I would usually be eating. I was raised on cornbread and biscuits, if I use these as my bread, I eat the top off of one bisquit, or one small cornbread muffin. My only problem with fresh fruit is keeping it in the house, since my husband does almost all the grocery shopping, and buying bananas is his usually his complete fruit list.

Brunchy Lunch.  One of my favorite meals this week has been what I called a Brunchy Lunch.  I had two sunny-side–up eggs, steamed broccoli, tasty seasoned tiny string beans, rough chopped cantaloupe slice, and a few raspberries.  The broccoli and string beans were leftover from a meal at Red Lobster. I have to limit all green vegetables (kidneys again), and the rest of the leftover greens were in another meal. I put Mrs. Dash Original on the eggs–no salt, and I fried them in a squirt of Pam. I rough chopped the cantaloupe slice because I was angry that I chose not to have meat. Raspberries are a rare treat, because I really prefer blueberries or blackberries, but the raspberries were on a great sale.

Fruity Tuitty Lunch.  I was helping clean out the fridge and fixing my lunch plate at the same time one day, and this is the delightfully delicious lunch that emerged.  I sliced a banana, and cut up a slice of cantaloupe.  Adding a few raspberries set off the color wheel.  The last avocado added green. Avocado is often used as a savory vegetable, but it has a pit and grows on a tree! I had a few Cherub “salad tomatoes”, as they are labelled now, but it’s convenient to be able to call them a fruit when I want to. Two ounces of pecans added crunch. One half of a medium raisin bagel, toasted, added a half serving of bread and a minuscule serving of fruit. I’ll count them where I can find them. I had never mixed tomatoes and avocado with other fruitsbefore, so I was a little leery of how the favors would mix. So I lightly drizzled a half teaspoon of guava light over everything to help blend the tastes. Guava light is a guava syrup that has not been boiled down and concentrated, so it is lower in calories than some sweeteners, but not by much. Fruit plate experiment results: KNOCKOUT GOOD.

Dolly Parton–Mine Are Better than Yours.  My veggies in my diet soup, that is.  I’m old enough to remember the Dolly Parton Diet.  Today, I’ve seen the same recipe called Hollywood Soup.  It contains a ton of cabbage and other good veggies, and fills you up so no other food is wanted for a while, but it causes a lot of, ahem, gas. In the last crockpot full I made just for this time, I didn’t put in cabbage or potatoes.  This batch, actually, has no fresh veggies in it at all.  I pulled out a bunch of cans, added the veggies to the crock pot, added one can of fat-free, salt-free beef broth, and turned the crock pot on.  By supper time, I had aromatic delicious diet soup.  I have a serving almost every day. The veggies used: one can each of crushed tomatoes with garlic and basil; okra and tomatoes; cream corn; sliced yellow squash; green beans; green beans and tomatoes and basil; and all their juices. You could add more or different vegetables, and more broth or water. I filled eight pint jars with soup and put them in the fridge since I know I’ll eat it all before surgery.

Maybe these dishes will inspire you to cook something better, or to lose a little weight, or to go get a tray of croissants and four kinds of cream cheese.  I hope this post gets you to cheer my progress or say a prayer for me.  I look forward to reading your replies.