Day 242-Flash Fiction Friday-Angels of Armada Part 5-Coffee


Amanda returns ten minutes later, excited to leave the cabin with her son for the first time in months. Julian stands up from his place by the fire and asks if she is ready to go. “Yes” Amanda replies and he says, “Follow me.” After checking with his men that the door is open and the coast is clear, they all proceed to his truck, parked on the side of the cabin closest to the window.

Amanda has her list in hand and looks down at Ethan as they walk to the truck. He is staring in amazement at the sparkly snow covering everything as far as he can see. He is excited to be out as well and now asks his mom if they can go to McDonald’s while they are in town getting groceries and other provisions. She looks to Julian who nods in agreement, “Sounds like a plan young man, maybe your mom and I can have that coffee sooner than later.” Amanda smiles and mouths thank you above Ethan’s head.

It takes them an hour just to get there, even though the roads are somewhat plowed, they are still treacherous. Piling out of the truck, wrapped in coats, scarves and sweater hats, the group trudges into McDonald’s for a fast food treat and hot beverages. Ethan gets pancakes and hot chocolate and the adults pick at eggs and bacon while drinking cup after cup of coffee. They have so much to talk about and seem to be totally at ease with each other.

“So you mentioned earlier that you have a daughter” Amanda asks Julian, simultaneously picking at an english muffin. “She’s not really my daughter, I’m her foster Dad,” Julian replied. “Oh, that’s so wonderful Julian. You must have a huge heart to do something like that. How old is she?” Blushing, Julian answered, “She is five, and she has a disability. She came to me after a friend shared the news that her parents were killed in Matamoros, and since I was in the system to be a foster parent, they picked me. I’ve been caring for her ever since. The problem is, Mexico has very limited resources for healthcare of this nature, so when I’m here I work to earn as much as possible, network with other people in the know and take what I’ve earned and learned back to Mexico.”

Amanda has been rapt, listening to his story, food forgotten on the plate as she sips her coffee and stares at this man, trying to understand how hard his life must be. “You are truly an angel sir. I already knew that because of your generosity in dealing with us, but now you tell me this unbelievable story. Your heart is huge indeed! What is her issue, if you don’t mind me asking?” Julian stares back at Amanda and before he replies he gives her a seductive little wink. “I’m no angel ma’am, I have my own story. Like how I was born here but ended up in Mexico, but we can talk about that some other time. No, I don’t mind you asking…She has ASD, autism spectrum disorder-she has trouble with social, emotional and communication skills, sort of like Asperger’s.” All this time, Ethan has been quietly eating and listening to Julian and now he looks up and asks, “Can she play with other kids ok?” Julian winks at him and answers, “Kind of, she has her own special way of playing and needs someone very patient to show her how to be nice and play fair.” Ethan considers his answer, nods his head and goes back to eating his pancakes.

Meanwhile, Amanda has been secretly wishing she could give this man a medal, but settles for a hug and stands up to deliver one. “You are amazing Mr Julian, and I would love to hear more, but we really need to get to the store and get back home so you can get back to your work, or wherever you’re going next.” Julian is surprised by the sudden hug and responds that he isn’t in a big hurry but her request is his command. “And you don’t have to call me Mr., I will call you Amanda if you’ll just call me Julian. Amanda nods in agreement and together they all head back to the truck for the next destination in their journey, some big everything-you-need-in-one-place store.

 

 

Day 241-A Respite and A Recipe Fail!

Sorry folks, I just can’t bring myself to do the ole Throwback Thursday post when I have such a funny story to tell. Well, not funny really unless you like to look at what can go wrong with a recipe. So, I’m taking a respite from the usual and now I present you with how a cupcake can go so horribly wrong.

First thing off the bat, my computer was doing a slow download, so I decided to make some yummy sounding cupcakes for breakfast out of my new Crave recipe book I got for free from Shana Ekedal.  They are called:

Chocolate Vanilla Bean Cupcakes

(And here’s the recipe)

Cupcakes: 1 cup unsweetened almond milk • 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar • 1⁄2 cup maple syrup • 4 tbsp. coconut oil • 2 tsp. vanilla extract • 1 cup almond our • 1/3 cup cacao powder • 3⁄4 tsp. baking soda • 3⁄4 tsp. baking powder • 1⁄4 tsp. salt

Vanilla Frosting: • 3⁄4 cup coconut butter • 2 cups xylitol • 1 tbsp. vanilla bean extract

Directions:: 1. Preheat oven to 350°F 2. Line cupcake tine with cupcake liners. 3. Add almond milk and ACV to a medium size bowl and set aside for 3-4 minutes. 4. In a separate bowl, combined the maple syrup, coconut oil, and vanilla extract; add to the almond milk mixture. 5. Sift together our, cacao, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a medium size bowl. 6. Pour wet ingredients into the our mixture, mix well and pour evenly into liners 7. Bake 18-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. 8. Meanwhile, make frosting by blending xylitol in a blender and turn it into a powder. Pour it into a food processor and add coconut butter and vanilla extract, processing until smooth. 9. Once cupcakes have baked and cooled. Apply icing and enjoy!

Well…I followed the recipe and here are all my ingredients to prove I was ready!

Everything you need for the cupcakes

Only once I pulled mine out of the oven, this is how they looked! 😔

Fallen angels

So…After eating a few of the crispy edges, this is what I did. I had made the “frosting” which turned out super delicious, so I simply put as much of a cooled fallen angel into my bowl as I could and spooned some frosting on it. It was so yummy!!

Not pretty, but delectable just the same!

I wonder if I can save them by melting them down and adding a little coconut flour and rebaking them. Or, if I should start all over and use less maple syrup, although it looked to me like the oil was too much. I’ll tweak it later and let you know how it turned out. 🙂

I’m going to check with her and make sure she doesn’t mind me sharing this with you all, it was free for me though so I don’t see why she would. If you click the link with her name in it, you can get your own copy of the cookbook, it’s free! Then you can make them and show off your results. And then you can tell me where mine went off the rails, lol!

I used quality ingredients, but maybe I measured something wrong or the fact that I didn’t sift the dry ingredients was my mistake. Anyway, I’m no quitter…I’ll be trying these again-if for no other reason than the excuse to eat more frosting on something!! It’s so yummy!

Join me tomorrow for the next installment in the Angels of Arvada series (as yet untitled) (not to mention, unwritten 😉) and until then, I’ll be staying warm and dry on the patio! 

Day 240-Wednesday's Medical Minute-How Stress Affects Us

*This post may contain affiliate links, please check my disclosure.

Source: Pixabay

In light of yesterday’s post about how stress maybe because of my ear issues, I decided to do today is medical minute on stress and how it can affect us.

While I don’t know yet why or how stress can cause my ears to be hypersensitive, stress is a killer and it affects us in many negative ways. My stress is likely due to a number of factors, guilty conscience (because I was allowed to stop working in the 9 to 5 work world) and David bears the brunt of the responsibility, pressure I put on myself to be there for everyone who matters to me, (Just like any mom, wife, daughter or friend),  pressure I put on myself to become a freelance writer and earn a living from it. Some of the risk factors of stress are:

  • Social and financial problems
  • Physical or mental illness
  • Lack of social support networks
  • Family discord or family history of stress

Signs and symptoms of stress are:

  • Anxiousness
  • Nervousness
  • Excessive worry
  • Distraction
  • Internal pressure
  • Changes in sleep patterns

Good lord I have all of this!!

PS: I am talk texting this post to reduce my stress this morning. 🙂

  • These emotional states began to affect a persons outward appearance:
  •  Unusually anxious or nervous
  • Distracted
  • Self absorbed and/or
  • Irritable or angry

(Guilty of all charges 😉 )

*If it increases or lasts over a long period of time, a person may experience more emotional or physical symptoms such as:

  • Excessive fatigue
  • Depression
  • Thoughts of suicide, or harming others
  • Headaches
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Chest pain
  • Racing heart
  • Dizziness
  • Restlessness
  • Hyperventilating
  • Shortness of breath

I will admit to 2-4 of these symptoms myself, but don’t worry-I would never harm myself or others!

What can we do to manage stress ourselves you might ask?

According to my research there are several ways to accomplish this, some I need to implement myself.

  • Set realistic goals and limits for yourself
  • Put things into perspective and try to get upset about insignificant or an important matters
  • Take stress management, Time management, or anger management classes
  • Find activities that you enjoy and set aside time to participate in them on a regular basis
  • Consume a healthy diet
  • Participate in regular physical exercise
  • Avoid or reduce alcohol and caffeine intake
  • Maintain a positive outlook
  • Set goals and break them into easily achievable tasks
  • Reward yourself for the good things that you do each day

*Source-Emedicinehealth

I found a quote by Victor Frank that says, ” When we are no longer able to change a situation we’re challenged to change ourselves.”  I think that’s pretty fitting for me anyway.

For more information on stress visit the American Institute of Stress and also emedicinehealth. 

I realized that one of the things that stressed me out this week was losing my post on SiteGround that I did on my website Products from the Patio. Somehow while trying to insert a picture on that post, that was pin-worthy, I erased the whole post!! Now I have to start all over- or, back up and regroup and relaunch my website later.

Other stressors for me are time limits, which I suppose falls under the category of setting unrealistic goals for myself, since I try to get so much done in one day. Then when I don’t achieve those goals I feel guilty and lose my motivation. Just being honest here, but I can see I have a lot of work to do on myself. Maybe my doctor’s right and part of the problem with my ears is stress related.

What are your stressors? How do you deal with them? Any comments are welcome and or suggestions too.

*Disclosure: Mentions of associated products, services, or businesses within the content of this blog may or may not be noted as an affiliate in every reference. I only choose to promote products, services, or businesses that I have used and or trust.

Day 239-MET-I Got My Ears Checked

Today is the day I finally find out why my ears are so sensitive, why any small noise in the morning feels like an icepick through my eardrum (mainly the left) and why with all that, I find it difficult to hear the tv if there is significant background noise-like my husband washing dishes in the kitchen or just talking to me.

My appointment was at ten this morning, and this is what we found out. First, I had a hearing test. That went well, small amount of hearing loss but nothing major. No surprise, since I listen(ed) to rock music and went to concerts when I was younger. Also, being in the military, I was subjected to lots of loud noises- guns, grenades, trucks and airplanes-I was close to all of that. Plus, I actually sat inside of speakers at a club when I was in Korea. Smart, I know. So that answers why I’m slightly hard of hearing in certain situations.

The next part, I’m a little confused about. While she said it was a real issue that I’m having, she said it will take a long time to fix it, no medicine will, its more of a retraining my ears to not be affected by the noises based on the time of day it occurs and my frame of mind at the time. What?? Not sure I get it, but she sent me home with spreadsheets to record and document this information. She will check my results in a few weeks and come up with a treatment plan based on my answers.

To me, it almost sounds as if she’s saying it’s an emotional problem. She even asked if I’d ever seen a psychiatrist. Evidently, stress is a huge factor in patients who deal with this problem. I told her my stress is usually of my own making but she said it all matters and me getting emotional about not having a better way to deal with it, is normal. I was really hoping for some magic ear drops or something that would make it all stop, that’s just not the case. She said I’m not crazy, she has lots of patients in the same situation as me. Wow. I have to say, I wouldn’t wish this on anyone, its painful, annoying and frustrating, all at the same time.

I will keep you posted on the outcome a few weeks from now, if I can follow through with the proper documentary requirements. It seems silly to me to get out of bed and write down what noises are currently bothering me and how I feel about it while it’s happening, but we will see. The condition is called hyperacusis by the way and some level of tinnitus, even though my ears don’t ring. At least I got some peace of mind finding out that there’s no physical reason for it, like a perforated eardrum, yet now I’m left wondering if I’m not simply losing it. I hope not. 😉

 

 

 

Day 238-Motivational Monday-Why You Should Stick To Your Routine

Good morning everyone! I hope everyone had a safe night and did not wake up to damage caused by last night’s storms.

Do you have and stick to a daily routine? I know that if I veer too far away from my own, I start slacking off, things go undone and in the end, I will not accomplish my goals.

I checked out an article on The Spruce and they did an interview with Dr Heidi Grant Halvorson who is a social psychologist, speaker and author of the book Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals. According to Dr Halvorson;

Q: How specific should people be when establishing goals?

A: Being specific with your routine is important because if your plan is too vague, they tend to never get acted on.

Q: Should you log daily progress?

A: Monitoring your progress is important because you need to have a pretty good idea how well you’re doing with respect to your goals in order to stay motivated, and to know when to try a new approach because the one you are using isn’t working. Using a calendar or journal is a good way to keep track of your goals.

Q: What if your routine includes something you don’t want to do, like jogging?

A: Reframe the activity in terms of the “bigger picture” goal it is serving. So like jogging is being done to help you stay healthy or lose weight. Thinking in those terms why you’re doing something unpleasant can give you a real motivational boost.

Q: How long does it take to establish a new habit?

A: There’s no way to know exactly because it depends on many factors, a person’s distractions, personality, how complicated the new behaviors are etc. Good news is, keep it up and it will eventually become a habit which will absolutely get easier over time.

Q: Do you recommend checklists for routines?

A: Both checklists and if-then plans (if I am in situation x, then I will do action y) make remembering things a lot easier.

My own routine is usually to get up as soon as I wake up, if I allow myself to go back to sleep, there goes time I could have used to get something done. Go make coffee, feed the dogs and get to work in the office. If it’s a work day, I work until time to get ready to go to work. If not, I work a few hours, stop to eat, then get back to it. I do make myself take breaks and/or run errands. This is how it has to be until I reach my goals. I am more efficient and productive in the mornings, in the afternoon, there are too many distractions. That’s not to say I never get work done in the afternoons/evenings, its just more likely earlier in the day.

Knowing yourself and what you want to achieve will keep you motivated to stick to your routine. If I make a new goal, to get more toned for instance, I will set a new routine of exercise to try and reach that goal faster. I could fit in a walk three times a week in the afternoon for example. Even a 30 minute walk is better than nothing and gets me closer to my goal of toning my legs.

I hope I’ve helped you answer the question, if you have more or any suggestions to share, please leave a comment!

Join me tomorrow when I share for MET-My Essay Tuesday and I’ll see you all then, on the patio. 🙂

 

Day 237-Free Days-What Type of Oak and I Have Some Gall

Afternoon everyone and how is your Sunday so far?

Today has been one of research, questions and flower planting, perfect activities for the beautiful weather we are having today. The current temperature is 81 degrees and I just finished up the planting of some marigolds and bedding plants in the planters either side of my mailbox. Last year, they held the begonias the original owners had planted, but I wanted something different this year.

Marigolds to greet the postman.

I had so many marigolds left over, I put some in the pots around my back yard.

Before we went to brunch and shopping however, I had to research what these seed pods I found in my front yard were.

Apple oak gall

Turns out they are a growth on our oak trees called an apple oak gall.  It looks like a seed or a fruit, when actually it is the nursery for a wasp by the same name. What happens is the female oak gall wasp lays her egg inside the central vein of a developing oak leaf. Then, the egg takes over the leaf’s normal development and forms the round “gall” shape. The wasp larvae feeds on the nutrients the leaf provide during the summer until it chews its way out when it reaches adulthood. In the fall you might see dried up gall balls, each with a tiny hole where the wasp has exited.

When I opened the green ball, (which was light as a feather) it looked like a spidery cotton material inside and I thought maybe it was what an acorn started out as. Wrong. Who knew it was the home for a baby insect? They are not harmful to the tree nor are the wasps harmful to us. According to Ask A Naturalist website, if you find one that’s green and has a hole, it’s likely some other insect chewed it’s way in and ate the baby wasp. That’s bummer because some wasps are actually beneficial to the garden, eating aphids, ticks and other nasty bothers.

After the planting was done, I went on another quest to figure out what kind of oaks we have. Earlier when looking at the galls, I saw pictures of several different oaks and became intrigued at which type we had, based on the shape of our leaves.

My guess-pin oak!

David thought it was a live oak, but the leaves don’t match. I googled it and the closest thing I could find was the pin oak, which grows to about 65 ft and has a wonderful canopy (just like ours 🙂 ). So, unless someone has a better guess, I’m calling it a pin oak.

Other than that, it’s been a sort of lazy, do nothing weekend and we are now under a tornado watch. Welcome to spring in Texas!

Stay safe everyone and I will see you tomorrow for Motivational Monday!

 

Day 236-Free Days- Have You Seen a Tulip Tree?

Tulip tree in my neighborhood
A close up view

I was driving home from Stephanie’s house a couple of weeks ago and saw this really neat, totally different looking tree. It had these lilac colored flowers that were so big, I didn’t believe they were real. I just had to stop and take a picture, I had never seen one of these before.

I asked my mother in law what she thought it was, and she told me it was a tulip tree. If you click the picture, you will see that when enlarged, they really do look like tulips! Have you seen one of theses trees? Let me know or take a picture and show it on your blog. Have a great Saturday and I’ll see you tomorrow on the patio

Day 235-Flash Fiction Friday-Angels of Arvada Part 4-Fed

Part 4

Fed

The sounds of scraping can be heard now as the man and a team he has rounded up are attempting to dig through the snow to reach the windows. Amanda runs to Ethan’s side on the window seat and watches as the men get closer to setting them free. Luckily, Her car is in the extra shed, so at least it was protected, even if it can’t be accessed right now. She hugs her son, relishing his warmth and remembers the fire needs to be stoked. Telling Ethan to stay put, she moves to put another log on and stokes the fire back to life.

Back at the window a few minutes later, she and Ethan sip hot chocolate as they wait for rescue. She hears a sound at the front door and goes to see what it is. “Hello?” comes a call through the crack. “Senorita? We will have you out soon. Stay by the window.” Amanda yells back, “Ok, thank you so much, what is your name?” She wants to make sure she gets it so she can thank him later for getting them out of their predicament. “Julian” comes the reply. “Alright senor, er, Julian…We can see you from the window.” She races back to Ethan’s side and watches for the man to show his face. There, she sees him wink from the top of the snow line, which is about halfway down the window now. Goodness, he is quite handsome, she thinks to herself.

Not that she is thinking of romance at the moment. A person can still notice a good looking man in any circumstance though, right? Sure, sure she chides herself. She feels guilty even having the thought, Anthony has been gone less than a year. Maybe it’s the shot of peppermint schnapps she added to her hot chocolate that is making her warm in places she hadn’t thought of in a while. Anyway, goodness! Amanda snaps out of it and looks around, thinking about what she can do right now, while they wait.  She needs to take stock of what they need, so when Julian reaches them, she can ask him to take her to get supplies. She can hear the sounds of snowplows clearing the roads now, along with all the scraping and digging outside the doors and windows. She thinks it’s about time, yet she is aware that avalanches and blizzards cause massive slowdowns, even in the best prepared situations.

By now, Ethan is hungry so she tells him to stay put while she goes to peel him a boiled egg, she at least had plenty of eggs on hand, some fresh and some boiled. She tries to feed Ethan a healthy diet most of the time, but can’t resist making him cookies every once in a while.  When she does, she tries to make them as wholesome as possible, with almond flour and the kind of chocolate chips that use less sugar. She throws in some nut butter too, usually sun butter but other times almond butter. Geez, she is becoming hungry herself, but she is loathe to leave the window for too long, in case they need her to open it from her side. She snags an extra egg for herself and hustles back to the window.

Ethan is excitedly bouncing up and down on the window seat, seeing the men have reached the window sill. Julian taps on the window and asks her if she can open it now. Amanda reaches up and unlocks the latches and tries to budge the window, it takes a few minutes and then like opening a new bottle of pickles, the seal breaks and the window is open, cold air rushing in from the outside. “Good morning eh, what was your name señorita?” “It is señora Amanda sir,” but added as soon as she saw his crestfallen look, “But I’m a widow now. That’s why my boy and I are here alone.” He replied, “Well, it’s very nice to meet you both. My team and I were checking houses along our service route and saw the smoke from your chimney. I was hoping you were alright in here.” “We’ve been better,” Amanda replied,  “it’s so nice of you and your team to dig us out! Let’s get you all in here and warmed up, hot chocolate anyone?”

Julian and his men carefully enter the house through the window and close it back again. In moments, they are gathered around the fire, sipping warm beverages and listening as Amanda tells them of the avalanche and how the last two months have gone. After helping her check the provisions, Julian sends the men to start working on getting the front door open so they can get them to a store for more supplies. “You really are a godsend Julian, thanks again, I don’t know how I’ll ever repay you.” Julian looks at them both and smiles saying “Just keep in touch, maybe we can go have coffee soon, I’d love to tell you about my little one. Ethan, you would love her, she’s almost the same age as you!” Amanda thinks to herself that sounds like a nice plan and excuses herself to go get ready to leave this cabin for the first time in months. Grabbing Ethan’s hand she says to Julian, “Be right back.” Julian smiles and nods, sitting back down by the fire. “I’ll be right here.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 234-Throwback Thursday-Our First Place

IMG_0825
My middle son Josh at about 6 months old

Oh, there are so many fun things to say about this photo! First off, will ya just take a gander at that lovely carpet! How did we live with that day, after day?? Kinda makes ya feel like you’re in a casino or something lol!

Then there’s our little bowling ball, Joshua, from when he was about six months old. Isn’t he the cutest? Can you tell it was Easter?? How about that monster tv in the background? Hahahaha! How did we even see that thing? Oh, I’m cracking up right now. Even broke people have bigger tvs nowadays.

Next up is the fabulous paneling on the wall, followed by the plywood entertainment center the tiny tv is resting on. Hey, we literally barely had a pot to piss in, so we were doing pretty good at this point. I found us this little gem for like $375 a month or something, it still beat apartment living, rats and all. Weird thing is, I can’t even remember if it was a 1/1 or a 2/1 because this is the only room I can really remember. I must have blocked the rest out.

Guess what? I actually believe it was Christmas, even though there are toys out for Halloween and Easter, only because the next picture in my pack shows Josh looking at the tree and presents. Thank goodness we took pictures, even if we forgot to write on the backs of them, or I would have hardly any memories of this hellhole we called home for six months. Maybe it was closer to a year, because when we moved into the Haltom City house, I was just about ready to have Christopher.

You can barely see it, but we had a baby gate up to keep Josh from crawling into the nasty kitchen, we hardly went in there ourselves. It was bad. Rats had set up shop in the stove and we refused to try and clean that out. We just used a microwave and toaster oven, if it couldn’t be cooked in there, we didn’t eat it. We tried to catch the beasts one time, and the damn thing took the trap and ran for greener pastures I guess. Another time, we were innocently watching our tiny tv and a mouse came into the living room like he owned the place! I will say it was probably because of all the open field in the back, which is long gone now. Houses went up all around that area after we moved away.

Even with all that, Dave, Josh and I (along with our chow dog Milo) were very cozy and happy little family in this house for the little time we lived here. That was 30 years ago and it was dilapidated then, would you believe IT STLL STANDS TODAY??? I know, shocker right? I guess some people will live in anything. 😉