Do I Really Have to Give Up My Baby Boy?

IMG_20170624_141942602It’s funny… when you start planning your family you always have different views and plans then when the family is actually here and going full force. We planned on having two…just two. We were going to magically produce a boy and a girl and be all done. Space them out by about 3 or 4 years and continue on with all our perfectly laid out plans. Well… God lets us know that we aren’t in control and He will bless us with what HE’S planned and what we need. So, baby number one came, a monstrous 9lbs 4oz and we couldn’t have been more thrilled. That boy was the center of the universe for 4 yrs! First grandchild on both sides and our first born. Spoiled isn’t even the word!IMG_20160912_125957 (1)

Then we decided to go for that girl. No problem! Remember.. we had our whole life planned! We went for the ultrasound and lo and behold found out we were having…… a BOY!!!! What????? Wait… a boy? How is this possible? That’s not the way it was supposed to go…BOY-GIRL..in that order. Mmmmmmmmmmm.. well… if he’s as amazing as his brother we will be very blessed. And I proceeded to scold myself for my selfishness and lack of gratefulness for even being ABLE to be pregnant and have a healthy baby. Shame on me. Then… we became very excited about our impending “boy world” and started planning.

Here came baby number two…another whopping boy at 9lbs 2oz and he melted our hearts just like his brother…and “girl” never even crossed our minds.

Another four years went by and I started to remind myself of the days I swore I wanted 6 kids. I wanted a big house in a suburban neighborhood and I wanted to be a stay-at-home-Mom. I guess you could call me a habitual planner. I mean.. how can life move on without many well laid plans? 🙂

We then made the decision to add to our family. We made our minds up that if we had more boys, we were more than good with it… the ones we had were the BEST and more of them would be awesome! But, if the girl came along that would be pretty amazing too.

So, as the boys acted like normal siblings and were at each other’s throats most of the time, we became pregnant with baby number three. We were petrified of the impending reality that we would, as parents, soon be outnumbered. IMG_20170630_132511100

Then…whadayaknow??? Ultrasound came back… GIRL!!!! Whoa! I think we were in complete shock for weeks! We had kind of gotten it in our heads that we were going to breed a brood of boys and here came our first little princess.

So, long story short, the little princess ruled the kingdom for 7 years and her brothers learned to accept it….well, maybe. Then, God decided to change our world a little more and bless us with a little SURPRISE! We gave birth to princess number two 8 YEARS.. yes.. 8 YEARS after princess number one. WOW… 2 boys, 2 girls.. perfect. And guess what? We DIDIN’T plan it! 🙂 IMG_20150806_072715228_HDR (1)

Years went by and life went on. We raised our babies the best we could. Far from perfect but our hearts were always in it. Our kids ALWAYS came first. We look back, of course, and wish we would have done some things different…who doesn’t? But, even though we WEREN’T perfect, we have some pretty amazing kids and we are very grateful and thank God everyday.

Our relationships with our kids are pretty stereotypical. We have Mama’s boys and Daddy’s girls. But, we are very tight as a whole and humor is how we roll. Wow…that rhymed!!! 🙂 Anyway, our goofiness is just what we ARE and I treasure it. You should really catch one of our family holidays if you ever have the chance. 🙂 IMG_3407IMG_20151003_195316338 (1)IMG_20151004_133334218 (2)imagejpeg_0_3 (1)

So, as the kids attended college and then started their careers I honestly never thought past the sports, putting them through college and them becoming professionals. We were early on blessed with a beautiful grandson when our oldest son was 20..img_20160619_230114653_hdr another one of God’s plans…see?? HE is in control. We really never thought past anything that wasn’t going on at those moments. Boy…was that a big mistake. I am hoping all you young and aspiring parents out there will take a listen to this old experienced one and maybe consider my advice. Been there…done that… and have the battle wounds to prove it! 🙂

Our youngest son started dating a girl from high school that he was fixed up with at the school where they BOTH worked as teachers. Everyone could see they were perfect for each other and it became very obvious very quickly that they were meant to be. I knew it the very first time I met her. IMG_0206 (1)

As most of you know…my husband became very sick a little over a year ago and almost died and has had a long road back to where he is today. Sooooooo thankful. So, my parenting focus was lacking for a good year and there were many things that didn’t cross my mind as our older and grown children began to evolve into functioning mature adults. I was basically letting things pass me by because my husband needed me and that “Mama way” of planning that I based my whole existence on for so many years began to fail and I would soon feel it’s effects.

You’re buying a ring??? What?? Marriage?? Ahhhhhhhhhh… wait… you are how old??? Ummmmmmmm… don’t we have much more time before that happens?

NOPE.. Mama you don’t. I slowly realized that I wasn’t paying attention or “planning” and now my baby boy was GETTING MARRIED! FOT5CFE (1)

With 3 kid’s college expenses already consuming our finances and my husband’s illness we were not prepared AT ALL to help plan a wedding. In addition we decided to move back home from Tennessee to be closer to our family. To put it mildly, a wedding was nothing we were even remotely prepared for and I am almost embarrassed to say so.

We helped the best we could and thankfully my son and his fiancé and her wonderful parents picked up the rest.

And through all their wonderful help, our son became very close with them. They were there when we couldn’t be, physically and financially and as GRATEFUL as we were and are, we started to struggle with, in our minds, losing our baby boy….to his new bride AND his new parents.

So…we were almost to the big day. The happy couple bought their first house…we were so proud…and we helped in anyway we could. Everyday our son would tell us of all the things his future in laws bought and did and as much as we tried to stand back and be happy…and really just grateful, we continued to feel inferior and hurt that we weren’t able to do more. And really just felt more and more like we were losing him to them a little more each day..walgreenHD1490197556175

It seems almost childish, doesn’t it? And why I didn’t see that sooner I don’t understand. But.. God saw I needed some adjusting as He always does, and I got it the night of the Rehearsal Dinner.IMG_20170623_184415230

As my son stood up at the alter and giggled as he took his fiancés hand while we practiced the ceremony, God spoke to me by showing me at that moment how LUCKY and BLESSED we are. By showing us in seconds how ridiculous all these feelings we were having were and that we were NOT losing our baby boy…we were gaining wonderful, giving, generous people who love our son and would do anything for him. And, we already knew we were gaining another daughter who makes our baby boy happy and sees him as a man, a provider, and the future father of her children. And thank GOD they found our son and were ABLE to make him happy and secure. We realized instantly that these people and our new daughter-in-law were sent to us as a gift and we finally felt the blessing and I thanked God over and over and asked forgiveness for not seeing it all along. And, I also had a new empathy for how MY mother-in-law must have felt when I came in and infringed on her world with her baby boywedding 1984-3.IMG_20170624_150113179IMG_20170624_151523433

You see… you DON”T lose your little boy, or your son, or even the man he has become. You can now stare at the marvel of what you created with all your good parenting, bad parenting, his hard work, God, and the compliment and addition of his new beautiful wife and her wonderful parents. We have only GAINED, and as with all our children are SO proud of what they are and what they will become. And guess what??? WE didn’t plan a bit of it 🙂IMG_20170624_152028934

Created with love by:

Char Head 🙂

Creations_by_CharFB_IMG_1498430306771

 

 

How This Northern Bred Girl Will Forever Have the South in Her Heart

img_20161203_111040I firmly believe, in my opinion, we still live in somewhat of a “state” of civil war in this country. Whether you look at it politically or from a personal point of view it still exists. Thankfully not for the same reasons from history but I can firmly attest to this seeing how I have lived in both places within the last 3 years during the most divided and tumultuous time we’ve seen in recent history.

Everyone who is from the North usually wants to migrate South. They want the sunshine and no more snow. Understandable. We wanted the same thing. We were tired of 6+ months of grueling winter and wanted sun and warmth for the majority of the year. We had family in Tennessee and Kentucky who we would often visit and we always said.. if we had the opportunity to move down there…we were going!!

Well… there came that opportunity. My husband’s company was building a new plant about an hour south of Nashville. Wahooooo!!! Sold!!! We are in!

Long story short, we made it happen. Sold our house, packed it all up and happily migrated South! preview (24)

Our 2 oldest, boys, were grown and on their own, our oldest daughter was in college, and our youngest, 10 at the time was migrating with us. We were worried about her adjusting and leaving all her friends and her siblings but turns out she adjusted better than we’d ever imagined.

After about a year and a half, our daughter was happy as a clam but we started to feel a little isolated. I felt as if we should have had more friends and social activity by this point, but nothing seemed to want to materialize. My husband had his friends at work but on a personal level we really were not connecting with the people in the community. We were considered “Yankees” LOL and didn’t grow up there so we were kind of put in another category. People were kind and friendly, but kept their distance other than that.

Then our life took a swift turn. My husband became very ill and almost died.. twice. Had a pretty lengthy hospital stay and a very long recovery. And, during this tragic time in our lives we made a huge discovery… when southern people show their true colors…it is a sight to see!fb_img_1459092382034

I was enjoying the Christian tone of things down south. Prayer is everywhere. Before and after sporting events, at every meal, and no one cares if it’s politically correct or not. It’s a wonderful feeling…. being a Christian and being able to live it freely without feeling like you are offending someone…. for it to be a collective belief among the whole community and to feel it in the air. When my husband was being life flighted to Nashville the paramedics very sweetly asked me if they could hold my hand and pray over him before the flight. WOW… I was so taken aback by that. It was exactly what I needed and it gave me peace. I had never seen or heard of that happening anywhere up North.

And as our daughter started playing sports you could see it and feel it there as well. At the end of every game both teams form a circle, hold hands and pray. At EVERY sporting event. It is an amazing sight. Up North I had only seen that happen during events at a few Christian private schools. preview (54)

We thought we didn’t have friends…but we were dead WRONG. During my husband’s illness we never felt so cared for and supported. We had no family close by and they all stepped in and took over. We will forever be grateful. I don’t care what you needed they made sure you had it. And all the Mom’s stepped up and were surrogates for me so I could be with my husband. I never worried for a moment, they had it all covered. fb_img_1478543918140

And on a lighter more humorous note, guns and speeding are a must in the South. Speed limit signs are basically a waste of tax payers money and if you don’t have a gun or even numerous guns you are considered some type of alien from Mars. If you aren’t at least going 20 over the speed limit you will be run off the road and pretty much anything can be made better with a good gun story…. or better yet…a good day of huntin’!! 🙂

We just adored the respect among the youth as well. The “yes sir” and “yes ma’am” you always hear about… is completely true. And I loved it! It never made me feel old or offended AT ALL. It was about respect and you felt it. Even grown men addressed all women that way. Sure felt good to be treated like a lady and the men were never afraid of a woman saying “Who you callin Ma’am?????!!!”

And believe it or not, the schools are more strict and you can clearly see the results of it. The dress codes are much more conservative (absolutely no leggings or yoga pants) and they still use corporal punishment. A student there would never even THINK of disrespecting a teacher, verbally or otherwise, or they would instantly be in detention. Our kids need this, especially nowadays. The North could definitely take a page out of this playbook

So, basically, Southern people can be a hard sell at first, but once they let you in it is a privilege to know them, and to experience the wonder and uniqueness of who they are and how they give.

As we started to meld with our new friends and become a more comfortable part of the community we realized that between my husbands job changing (not in a good way) his health being what it was and it becoming more and more difficult to travel back and forth to see our kids and grandson that it was time to look at moving back home.

Of course, we had lived there long enough that now, moving would be hard, especially on our daughter…who had by now really settled in and was very happy. But, when my husband was recruited for a job back home, we couldn’t pass it up. And, again, we sold the house, packed it up, and hauled it back up North… (I mean up yonder 🙂 )IMG_20170126_102729

During our time down South, there were many things we actually did miss from the North. You would be astonished to know that when you have been raised in the North you actually miss the snow and the dreary days. I know.. crazy right? But, there are just times when you long for a dreary day to clean your house or watch Netflix… or a snowstorm to watch out the window and snuggle up to in your warm house. A cold day where you make a huge pot of chili and watch football. It stayed hot in Tennessee until literally Nov/Dec and it never felt like Fall. That always made me sad because that it my favorite time of the year. In the entire time we were there I never pulled out a winter coat, gloves, or boots. It did get cold sometimes but only for a day or two at a time. And, yes, I know you must think I’m crazy for even saying these things but I wouldn’t have believed it either! *** Below is my favorite pumpkin patch in OhioIMG_20161007_123325307_HDR (1) *** So green and beautiful 🙂IS991sw2ymlrnb0000000000 coldbrook 16

We missed how GREEN everything is up North. The grass and the trees…just so vibrant. Not burnt and brown and dry from the heat.

We missed the adult social scene. Couples don’t socialize much down South outside of their kid’s events. There is nothing wrong with that if that’s what you are used to but it took us a while to accept. Towards the end of our time there I was working on some of the ladies and trying to show them how important it is to have friend and lady time without your children once-in-a-while. I had a ladies night and they loved it and realized they needed to do it more. I hope it stuck and that they continue it. 🙂 And btw… they were a lot of fun and a little crazy!!! Who knew?? 😉IMG_20161118_204037352

I also missed the strong history of professional sports (football, baseball, basketball). I could be wrong, but in Tennessee, at least I noticed, that College and High School sports are bigger than pro sports. NASCAR is soooooo big down there too. I am from Cleveland so we have a rich LOYAL history with pro sports that is second to none. It’s like an unspoken bond we all have there. AND OF COURSE when we move away the Indians go to the World Series and the Cavs win their first title! We stood in front of the tv and wept. That’s how deep it goes. So we ended up spending a fortune on MLB TV just to watch all the Indians games. 🙂img_20160619_230114653_hdredited_1476918689620 (1)

So, even with all the differences that divide the North and South, Republican and Democrat, etc etc… If we take the time to EXPERIENCE both sides and see the whole picture we can learn to appreciate each other and our vast differences….we can see that those differences can actually bring us closer if we are just accepting of them. I am a better person because I lived in the South and part of me yearns to return. I think when we come together we compliment each other.. opposites attract.. its pieces to a puzzle. Even though all the pieces are different when they come together, they make a beautiful thing. We all just have to be open to doing it. Thanks for listening and y’all have a nice day! 🙂 🙂 *** Ooooo and let’s not forget the perk of living near Nashville… when you get to meet Luke Bryan at a softball tournament….just because he was THERE!!! OMG! My daughter will never be the same 🙂 😉 🙂FB_IMG_1477862771931

Written with love by:

Creations_by_Char

Char Head 🙂

 

Spreading the Valentine Love…. Throughout the Month of February XOXO

img_20160201_182850-1Those who know me, know I am a “theme” crazy person. Whether it be a holiday, an era, or any subject imaginable, I love a good theme!

Now that we are in February and somewhat moving out of the “Winter” theme, it’s time to mix it with all the love and hearts of Valentine’s Day!!

img_20160202_143810-1***This is my Winter wreath magically turned into my Valentine’s wreath! So easy and what a beautiful way to repurpose!

I am presented with a large challenge this year. We just moved out of state AGAIN and I am up to my ears with boxes and cannot find half of my décor at the moment… but, I want to share with you, all that I did last year to hopefully inspire you to spread the Valentine Love in your home while I can’t.. for now!!

I always like to include the Winter décor theme with all my other themes in Jan, Feb, and part of March. The Winter tree stays with some new embellishments as well as the Winter mantel. Of course, the tablescape changes to the new theme but I like to leave the pine cones around as long as possible. I don’t know why but I love them 🙂

 

img_20160202_120350187_hdr-1****Another little “find” at the Dollar store! And… my favorite Yankee Candle scents for February are Cherries on the Snow, Red Raspberry, Sparkling Cinnamon and Home for the Holidays.

Please remember if you are like me and love to redecorate regularly with different themes, that you DO NOT have to spend a lot. I like to shop those garage sales and Goodwill’s and the ever resourceful Dollar Stores! It’s not what something costs, it’s what it can bring to your theme/décor. I have at times added the BEST part of my tablescape or décor with something I found at the Dollar Store or Goodwill. For example… I will often get inspiration from just looking on the shelves at all the trinkets I find and it tends to lead me to some of my greatest creations. One year I found these adorable heart vases at a Dollar Store and I turned them into flatware holders! Then it seemed the whole tablescape just materialized around them. And… it cost a whole $6!!!! 🙂 img_20160209_181842640-1

And I also love to decorate with candy! All the adorable candy out for Valentines day with all the little sayings on them and all the bows and embellishments! Just look at how beautiful all the boxes of candy are for this holiday… easy and cheap décor.. and you can eat it too!!!!

img_20160212_100935238-1****This is just my normal floral on my buffet that I have embellished for this theme at a whole cost of $1.50! I bought the items after Valentine’s Day at 80% off 🙂

And those of you who follow me know that one of my signatures is to decorate my beverage/wine glasses. And just about anything works!! One of my favorites is Mardi Gras beads…again, cheap and adorable!

Don’t forget the oldie but goodie doilies! Or the many choices of children’s Valentines that are great for many things, including place cards! And take a look at all your Christmas red. For example, I use my red napkins for Christmas AND Valentines Day and my green napkins for Christmas AND St. Patrick’s Day. It always helps when you buy things in solid colors then it makes everything interchangeable.

So c’mon ya’ll! Feel sorry for me and my temporary interruption of themed decorating and have a decorating explosion of Valentines hearts and flowers for ME!! And don’t forget, you can leave up your Valentine’s décor throughout the month of February.img_20160201_182850-1

I would love to see all of your creations of ANY theme so please tag me on Facebook or Instagram or send me your photos.. I may feature them on my blog! 🙂

Happy February.. Happy Valentine’s Day.. and Happy Decorating!!!!! XOXO

Created with love by:

Creations_by_Char

Char Head 🙂

Not Totally Lettin Go of Christmas… Just Movin On to… “Winter”:)

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Here that time comes again, after New Years, that time you look around at all your Christmas décor and just sigh. Not only do you dread taking ALL those decorations down but it’s really kind of sad. At least for people like me it is. 🙂 You put so much work into it and it brings so much joy that you hate to see it go.

One year I looked around and I HATED how my house looked after all the holiday decorations were taken down and put away. It was so bare and empty and actually made me feel depressed. I felt like it lost all the warmth and love we had been enjoying for the last month. So I said…”Mmmmmmmmmmm… I can solve this.” And over the years I came up with a solution for my “Put Away the Christmas” blues.

img_20160122_143258523-1img_20160122_143307502-1** My Winter Mantel

I am one of those strange people who decorate for every holiday there is. In fact it always drove me crazy that I had nothing to decorate for from Christmas to Valentines Day. So, I took control of the calendar and created the “Winter” theme for poor neglected January!

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It turned out to be one of my favorite themes of the year! It consists of pine, wood, bark, greens and browns, birds, snowflakes, snowmen, burlap, angels, cinnamon sticks, raffia and some pops of red. You can still burn all your pine candles! YEAH!! My Christmas tree turns into a “Winter” tree and then moves on to a Valentines tree in February and a St. Patty’s Day tree in March. Then, sadly gets put away for spring and Easter. (That’s another article 🙂 )

So, if you look out the window at all the snow and it just doesn’t feel natural to put away all that Holiday joy, consider “Winter”. The elves, reindeer, candy canes, mistletoe, stockings, and Santa will have to go, but all else can hang around for another month of warmth and happiness!

cropped-img_20160110_215613-1.jpgCreated with love by:

Creations_by_Char

Char Head 🙂

Honey and Pepper Jelly Grilled Pork Chops

img_20161130_183551I love pork chops! I especially love them grilled with a tangy marinade. Sweet or spicy, doesn’t matter. In this recipe I use my sodium free marinade using my FAVORITE pepper jelly! It is also the low sugar version of the jelly so this marinade is good AND healthy!! You can use this marinade on any type of pork, chicken or fish. Good stuff!! 🙂

You will need:

  • 1/2 c  Jennifer’s Kitchen Low Sugar Strawberry Pepper Preserves (available on Amazon) *You will need more for dipping! 🙂
  • 1 tsp. Bragg’s Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 TBS Organic Honey
  • (I prefer Simply Organic herbs and spices in my recipes)
  • 1 tsp Garlic powder
  • 1 tsp Curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp Ginger
  • 1/2 tsp Fresh ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Coriander
  • 2 TBS Olive oil
  • 1 tsp Lemon Juice
  • 4 Thick cut boneless pork chops
  • img_20170105_174018330_hdr

In a medium to large bowl add first ten ingredients and mix well. Add pork chops and coat them well (wash hands thoroughly). Cover with plastic wrap and marinate in refrigerator 30 min up to overnight…whatever fits your schedule. I prefer at least an hour. **give them an extra stir in the bowl after marinating before cooking so they are good and coatedimg_20170105_173341465

There are a many ways you can prepare these. You can broil them, bake them, fry them in a grill pan with a grill press or grill them. My favorite way is the good ol’ grill but not everyone can always grill or weather doesn’t permit it. The last time I made them in the grill pan on medium heat and they turned out perfect! No matter how you choose to prepare them make sure they are cooked to an internal temp of 170 degrees.

When you grill or fry them leave them on the first side until you see white before you turn them. And using a grill pan and a grill press, in my opinion, cooks them more evenly and makes those pretty grill marks! ** Spray your pan and press with a little cooking spray before cooking

Serve with your favorite sides (I prefer rice and vegetables) and give them a drizzle of olive oil and add a dollop of that delicious strawberry pepper jelly on the side for dipping 🙂

** X2 Leftover Meal… Any leftover pork can be sliced and put over any salad you prefer.

** Like I stated this is a sodium free marinade, if you like a saltier taste you may add 2 tsp of soy sauce OR 1/2 tsp salt to the recipe. img_20161130_183551

Created with love by:

Creations_by_Char

Char Head 🙂

Enjoy!!!

 

Chicken Parm Burger

img_20170102_163034This is such a fun, yummy and messy recipe! Who doesn’t love Chicken parm? Well, I created a healthier way to eat it and on a bun!! It is lower in sodium and fits in well with my family’s new healthy way of eating. Ya gotta try it.. but bring the napkins! 🙂

You will need:

  • 1-lb. Perdue ground chicken
  • (I prefer Simply Organic herbs and spices in my recipes)
  • 2 tsp. Onion powder
  • 1 tsp Oregano
  • 1/2 tsp Coriander
  • 1 tsp Italian Seasoning
  • 1 tsp Parsley flakes
  • 2 tsp Garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp Red pepper flakes
  • 1- 1/2 TBS Olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp Fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tsp Basil (Fresh or dried) *you will also need a little more for garnish
  • **************************************************
  • Sliced Mozzarella- 3-4 slices
  • Kraft Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 4-6 oz Spaghetti noodles cooked al dente
  • 100% whole wheat buns

 

You will need for the sauce:

  • 1- 14.5 oz can Hunts no salt added sauce
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp Oregano
  • 1/2 tsp Red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp Fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder

img_20161230_180238398

In a mixing bowl combine chicken and next 10 ingredients. Mix well. Wash hands thoroughly. Begin to cook pasta. Set aside and keep warm when done.

In a small sauce pan or microwave dish put sauce and the other 4 sauce ingredients and mix well. Warm sauce in dish covered in microwave or warm sauce on low heat in sauce pan. img_20161230_175947722

In a grill pan or non stick skillet on medium heat drizzle some olive oil. Form 3-4 patties from chicken mixture, depending on what size you like your burgers. Put them in warmed pan. If you have a grill press spray it with cooking spray and lay on top of burgers. I think they turn out nicer with the press but it is not necessary. When the burgers start to turn white flip them. Cook them to an internal temp of 170 degrees and until they are no longer pink.

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Turn off heat and top each burger with a slice of mozzarella (you may warm, grill, or broil your buns) img_20161230_180957416_hdr

Now…the fun begins! Place a burger on a bun, then top with a small amount of noodles, then a nice dollop of the sauce, then a generous sprinkle of Basil and Parmesan cheese. End with the top of the bun and give it a gentle press! YUM!!! Be prepared to get a little messy! But, it is so worth it! Serves 3-4img_20161230_182011785_hdr

**I have added zero salt to this recipe. If you are not on a sodium restricted diet or like more of a salty taste you may add 1/4-1/2 tsp of salt to the chicken and also to the sauce. Or you may use regular salt added sauce.

**You can also slice burgers in half or quarters and dip them in the extra sauce

**If you want it spicier.. increase red pepper flakes

*TIME SAVER… noodles and sauce can be made the day before and just warmed up to put on the burgers when they are done 🙂 Or.. warm up that leftover spaghetti from yesterdays dinner to top the burgers for a leftover x2 meal!! 🙂 img_20170102_163034

Created with love by:

Creations_by_Char

Char Head 🙂

Enjoy!!

 

Rustic Glazed Carrots

img_20161208_152920I LOVE carrots… any way shape or form. I love them roasted, in soups, and even just fresh. They are the epitome of “earthy”. So I rarely peel them. I buy organic carrots, wash them thoroughly and leave the skin on. I feel it makes them even better. So when we were forced to follow restricted diets in our house, I have had to slowly revamp our favorite holiday dishes… not an easy task. I was pretty happy with the results of changing my glazed carrot recipe and even though they aren’t perfect, they are much improved, and the flavor is still there. This recipe is lower in sugar, sodium, fat and calories than my original. But, don’t despair.. I will be posting my original recipes as well 🙂img_20170102_084043

You will need:

  • 6-8 large organic carrots washed thoroughly, not peeled, cut into large chunks
  • 1/2-1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup Truvia sugar substitute
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 3 TBS unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 2 TBS organic honey

In a medium saucepan put carrots then all other ingredients, except reserve 1/2 c of water to add during cooking. img_20161124_144642916_hdr

Cook covered on low to low/medium heat, stoves vary. You don’t want carrots to boil just simmer. At the 30 min point gently stir the carrots and if it looks like they need more water add some of your reserve. You don’t want them to get dry or they will stick or burn but you also don’t want them swimming lol you want them to get a little syrupy. Cook at same heat another 30 min checking and gently stirring periodically. Add more water when needed. The carrots will take 45-90 min to cook depending on your pan and stoves heat. They are done when you stick a fork in and the carrots are nice and soft. They will stay hot covered in the pan even off the heat while you take time to prepare other dishes for your meal. Stir well before serving and pour entire contents of pan into serving dish. You want all that good syrup in there 🙂img_20151127_095155-1**This is a pic of my original recipe. It’s a lot more syrupy but has more sodium, fat, sugar and calories. I will post my original soon 🙂

Serve with an added drizzle of olive oil and honey. Serves 6-8

**If you like more salt either use salted butter or add 1 tsp of salt to the other ingredients.

Enjoy! 🙂

Created with love by:

Creations_by_Char

Char Head 🙂

17 Days… Chapter 14

fb_img_1461121487737Back to life…back to reality. (This about sums up how we felt about it all 🙂 )

We are now back from vacation and trying to get back to normal…well OUR normal. And, there is a pesky question eating away at us that needs to be addressed.

Before we went on vacation, Hubby was presented with a huge decision to make by his cardiologist… do I get a defibrillator implanted in my chest??? For those of you who are not familiar with what this is, it is literally bionic man type stuff. It is a little unit about the size of a business card with little probes that go to your heart. If needed it can send an electric current to the heart to re-regulate the heart beat. The heart is continuously monitored and if anything goes wrong it notifies the bigger programmed unit (sits next to his bed) and then notifies the company. At anytime they can check all his hearts functions and how it has been beating. See? I told you… bionic man.. so crazy.

At first, Hubby was very against this. When we left for vacation he was pretty convinced it was a no. They told him that out of 10 patients like him only 2 or 3 may ever need the defibrillator to save their life.. but that there is no way of knowing which patient or when. It acts as a sort of insurance policy just-in-case anything ever goes wrong.

I, of course, was totally for it and the doctor said Hubby couldn’t be intimate with his wife or step up his exercise if he didn’t have it done. I’m like… WHAT!!!! Ahhhhhhh.. Hubby! You are gettin this thing!!! And after he thought about it, he came to the same conclusion. And even though he hated the thought of this little machine being in his chest and causing even MORE limitations in his life, he knew it was the best thing to do.

So…we made the appointment and then the doc scheduled the surgery. Yes… SURGERY. Guess how much WE were looking forward to THAT! More lovely hospital, more lovely probing, prodding, and recovery. Remember when we were in the hospital in Florida and I was having that awful feeling of wow, my life is now going to be in and out of hospitals from now on? It was coming back. I am always so ashamed when I say these things. There are so many people so much worse off than we and I need to zip it and stop with the pity party! And thankfully I do. I come back, probably because General Char won’t stand for the whoa is me malarkey, and I suck it up and do what I need to do. It is so easy to forget that you are NEVER alone and God is there. He WILL take care of you. I really believe that God sent me the General to remind me of this and to keep me on the right track. And to give me strength when Everyday Char gets wimpy and loses faith.preview-23

Believe-it-or-not, the surgery was scheduled right on Hubby’s birthday! 😦 We had to have a Friday so Hubby didn’t miss much work and that happened to be the Friday that was open. So… Happy Birthday Dear!! Poor guy. But, he seemed to be okay with it all. He just wanted it to be over with. This is not an easy procedure. You bounce back in about a week or two but it is VERY painful and you have to wear this crazy contraption wrapped around you to hold your arm still while you sleep. You can’t lift or twist your arm for quite a while until the scar tissue builds around the unit. You can’t take the chance of the unit moving or tearing anything or you will be back in surgery. img_20160819_075057430-1

The surgery went well. We stayed in the hospital for a night and 2 days…so in our usual hospital world…not too bad! As expected, Hubby WAS in a lot of pain but Tylenol took the edge off. We had fun every night wrapping him in that crazy mummy wrap thing. We still laugh about it. But, we were very diligent and followed all of doctors orders and he was recovering well. He went back to work early that week and was very careful. We later that week figured out that Hubby could no longer use his cell phone on the side the unit was on, nor wear his Fitbit on that arm. He also had to watch certain electronic waves like his work walkie talkies and if he were to fly he has to carry an ID card so they know he is now bionic and will set off the security alarms!! Like I said…just MORE limitations. But, we got used to the others and we will work to get used to these. 🙂

So as Hubby recovered he got the ok to become more “physically active”… and Everyday Char was having a party!! The General just took a backseat and had a good giggle at my excitement! You just don’t realize how much you miss one another until things settle down. I wrote about this in a previous chapter so you know my struggles with all of this, but it truly is the last thing you think about when you are in survival mode. You just think of having more time and how much you love each other. As Hubby became stronger and stronger, Wifey was sending out the signals…like, ok buddy! It’s time! And…. we will just leave it at that 🙂 419

As time goes on the doctors keep confirming that Hubby has defied all the odds with his recovery. When we left the hospital the first time, as I told you, they didn’t have much positive to say about his prognosis. They would have never dreamed he would be where he is today. When Hubby had his second V02 test the nurses were flipping out over his results!!! They said they had NEVER seen a patient go from the number he had on the first test to the number he scored on the second. It was such a huge jump! This test measures oxygen levels from the heart and lungs when you are pushed to your limit on physical activity. It’s done on a treadmill.

So along with that blessing, he was also recently able to completely go off his insulin shots and just take a pill. They also diagnosed him with type 2 diabetes instead of type one. Hubby is convinced that soon he will be able to go off the insulin pill as well.  And I believe him. He is so strict on his diet and exercise that I truly think he is right.

He works out just as hard as normal non-heart patients and maybe even harder. He still has limitations concerning how much weight he can lift and with running, but he is making it all work and I couldn’t be prouder of him.   img_20150205_114659987

I still see little moments when he silently struggles with his new self and I see a sense of mourning for his old life come thru… but I really think that aside from the limitations he now has, he is really in a sense, better than he was. I like seeing him take pride in himself and his health, and in turn it makes us as a family healthier and happier. He has become more independent and self sufficient and I think has a new appreciation for me. Looks at me in a different way that he really couldn’t until all this happened to him. And, I as well can look at him in a way I never did before.

The funny thing is, if you didn’t know Hubby before you wouldn’t look at him and think he had ever gone thru any of this. He looks like a wonderfully fit 52 yr old. But those of you who knew him when, he looks totally different than his old self.. and when you first see him you almost don’t recognize him.

Our goal now is to continue to improve his heart and his health and to hopefully get off some more medication. No one wants to take all those pills everyday if they don’t have to. IMG_20160324_205924314_HDR

I want to thank ALL of you as I finish this final chapter of our story. I want to sincerely thank you for reading this and taking interest in a time in our lives that changed us all. I felt lead to write this story and to work on recipes and this blog not only by God, but by all of the outpouring of concern and love we received from all of you. I felt I needed to share all of this with you because you deserved to have me take the time to write it for all you did for us. The prayer, love, donations, and concern will NEVER be forgotten and was a big part of why we made it thru. Please know that those things you do, no matter how small, when people are suffering, even if they don’t tell you at first, MATTER…and make the BIGGEST difference. Every word all of you wrote on Facebook or in a card, or words that were spoken, then and now, filled and fills us with joy and hope, and has blessed us beyond words. We appreciate and thank you all from the bottom of our hearts now and always. resized_20161225_140908

And please don’t leave me, lol, Char has much more to say and share and more recipes to create! So stay tuned on creationsbychar for a lot more to come! Especially as we embark on our last and final move… (gosh we are getting too old for this!) to go back home and bring our family back together. Do I smell a reality show? Ya never know.. and man…it sure would be a GOOD one!!! 🙂img_20160121_101050-1ohio-state(We’re comin back baby!!!!)

Until next time.. be a blessing…share a blessing…be blessed.. xoxo

Written by:

Char Head 🙂

Creations_by_Char

 

17 Days… Chapter 13

fullsizerender_3-1“Oh.. we will be fine.” Hubby says with his usual boasting confidence. But, I, the realist, and some would say the pessimist, do not share this “la-la land” opinion.

It is now July and Hubby has been back to work for some time now and we are all adjusting more and more and he is making small but great strides. One challenge with any heart condition is extreme temperatures. And when you live in sunny Tennessee the summers are brutal. The heat and humidity can choke you. Hubby has had to be very careful being exposed to this heat for many reasons. He is still on a fluid restriction so he doesn’t have much hydration to spare and the extreme heat can be very trying on a compromised heart.

So, with all this in mind we began to address our upcoming trip to Florida for our daughter’s national softball tournament. I was beginning to fret more and more about it and of course Hubby had his “head in the sand” (pun intended) and was thinking of beaches and relaxation and softball. A little itty bitty part of me was as well, but most of me WAS NOT. Here’s where MY mind was….

**To Pack: Blood pressure machine, blood sugar meter, meter supplies, needles, insulin (has to be kept refrigerated) all 14 bottles of meds, cotton, alcohol, OJ, appropriate snacks and meals for trip, medical notebook, medical paperwork and all medical phone numbers, insurance info, Ziploc bags, sharpie, organic spices, and special measuring water bottle…and Oh Lord please let that be everything! Hubby’s life depends on it. And, Oh yeah, clothes, toothbrushes and sunscreen!

Starting to see my point????

Luckily, we would be staying in a condo that has a kitchen because we will need to prepare most of our meals… so that means we will have to shop for all our special ingredients when we get there. The 2 biggest challenges I saw coming were the actual softball game schedule and of course the heat. Hubby was on such a regimented schedule that I was worried about how we would handle his blood sugar checks and meals. In addition, I was very concerned about him sitting thru these games in all that heat. Shade doesn’t make that much difference when its 100 degrees and so humid you can’t breathe.

And of course, no matter how much I voiced my concerns Hubby was still vigorously trying to convince me it would all be fine.

Now, I know most women would agree that men tend to have this “It’s no biggie” attitude with just about everything… with the exception of when they are at the top of the blood pressure scale, watching a football game with bated breath because they need just ONE MORE catch from their best receiver to win that week’s fantasy football…. you with me?? It’s only THEN that we actually see the female “worry wart” mentality rear it’s ugly head out of their normally passive suave demeanor. 🙂

So, I believe we got to the point of agreeing to disagree and sucked it up and began to prepare for this trip. There is no doubt General Char will have to make an appearance for a while or we will never leave in an orderly fashion.

With many, many double checks, a van packed with the 6 of us and a trunk bursting at the seams, we were off! General Char for some reason didn’t leave yet, probably because I was so worried about everything that I kept her around as a safety net for my own piece of mind.

The trip wasn’t too bad. About 7 hours. We did pretty good with stops and Hubby’s blood sugar and meals. Got stuck in traffic for an hour when we got there. It was so congested. I guess it was big day for most people to arrive. img_6550-1

The small resort we were staying at was an older place, kinda reminded me of something from Mad Men. It was much more affordable than most places at this beach and our new strained budget was thankful. We were pleasantly surprised at how lovely it was. It was private and had its own beach. All we had to do was walk out our door, walk down the sidewalk, and we were on the beach! If you have ever been to Fort Walton you know just how BEAUTIFUL that beach is. The water is crystal blue and the sand is pure white. I have never been a big beach person but this one won me over..it was Heaven on earth. And, after all we had just been through, it was a welcome blessing. img_20160718_172409130-1

So, we began to get organized and I spent a lot of time setting up our food supply and all our belongings. It felt like home pretty quickly. the condos were not fancy and a lot of them pretty outdated, but they were clean and pretty roomy. I think that’s what gave them a homey feel because they WERE so outdated. Ours had some updates though and newer appliances which was perfect for how much time we would be in that kitchen. They had a gorgeous pool which the kids thoroughly enjoyed and this place was so neat they even hosted weddings. There was a banquet hall on site as well. As you can tell we would highly recommend this resort 🙂 img_20160718_175907335-1

We seemed to be managing ok. Hubby would try to get his walking in early and he stayed in the shade as much as possible. But, it was just so hot ALL the day through. And, we really kind of forgot to take into account how much hydration Hubby would lose in all that extended exposure to that heat and didn’t increase his fluid intake enough to compensate for it. Remember, we were in “keep the swelling away mode” and we were petrified of that coming back, so we thought we were doing everything right. I felt Hubby was exerting himself a little too much on his walks but he claimed he always felt good, but what we learned the hard way is that dehydration doesn’t show any signs until it becomes serious…

All of a sudden, Hubby started telling me his stomach didn’t feel right and he was increasingly having a hard time eating, which is not good for his blood sugar. We both thought it may be from him just doing too much so he stayed back at the condo for the day and rested. But, then out of the blue, he started throwing up… probably every hour and could not keep anything down.

Now this all started to seem just too familiar. Too much like when he first got sick and we thought he had the stomach flu. I kept it to myself but my thoughts were this was heart related and I was getting more than worried. I already told myself and was getting myself prepared for an ER trip. I could feel General Char bubbling up because in my gut I could feel what was coming. The kids were getting worried. I felt so bad for them and for Hubby. I know he was feeling guilty for interrupting the vacation and the kids felt guilty if they did anything fun while Dad was so sick. img_20160722_185113811img_20160722_132341104

So, after a full day of this I made a decision and Hubby didn’t have a say this time. I wasn’t taking any chances. If he was having another episode I wasn’t waiting… even though his blood pressure and blood sugar numbers seemed to be fine at the moment his other symptoms were not good signs so we packed it ALL up and headed to the nearest ER. It was in the evening so I knew we would probably be there all night so I prepared the kids and made sure they had all they needed.

We would have never expected what we walked into.. this ER was somethin! When we first pulled into the parking lot we were relieved because it was a heart center. Ok..that’s good. Looked like a pretty good hospital and thankfully it was the closest. Then we walked in….

WOW… if I hadn’t been so desperate we would have left. I am pretty sure we were in a waiting room with every scary person who had an emergency in town. We tried really hard not to make eye contact and sat in the only corner we could find.

Hubby was holding up pretty good. He stopped throwing up mostly because he had nothing left. I kept making him sip water at least. We got called in to get registered pretty fast because he was high risk and I think they wanted to make sure he wasn’t having a heart attack. They did an EKG and thankfully it was good. That was a huge relief. But, still the mystery of why he’s so sick?

We, unfortunately had to go back to the waiting room… ugh it was terrible. After about an hour or so they called us in. They put Hubby in a bed and we went thru paperwork and a million questions. It had become obvious to them that Hubby was severely dehydrated and they immediately started him on an IV of fluids.

He was so tired so he slept for a while. I had brought a book so I tried to read. It wasn’t easy to do any of it with the sounds happening all around us. The only thing separating us from all these scary moans and screaming, yelling and coughing like I have never heard is a thin curtain hanging around us. We were all crammed in there like sickly sardines and I felt like I needed a mask and lots of hand sanitizer.. and possibly a security guard!

On a side note.. after all was said and done, when it came time to report all this to Hubby’s cardiologist we came to find out his nurse practitioner had her first job at that hospital in Florida and she said it was the WORST place she ever worked and tried everything to get out of there!! We weren’t surprised…

Finally, after I think like 4 hours we finally see a doctor. It was confirmed that Hubby was dehydrated and this doc did not like how low his BP was. We tried to explain that this was normal for him but that wasn’t enough. They wanted him to stay until his BP went up a bit. But after another 4 hours they FINALLY let us go home because he was no longer symptomatic and could see his BP was just going to stay low. I was never so glad to leave somewhere. I think I had about 10 crying episodes during that ER visit. I tried to keep it from Hubby though because he felt bad enough. I just kept feeling this fear creep up on me that our life had now become about THIS. About being in and out of SCARY ER’s and always worrying. But, once we got back to the condo I pulled it together and realized how thankful I was that Hubby was ok and that we dodged another bullet. img_20160718_175925023

We had a couple days left before we had to leave so we made the best of it. We kept Dad as cool and hydrated as possible and he was feeling much better. He was starting to eat better and was getting some energy back. The kids were so relieved and were starting to have fun again. I just sat back and watched them. I don’t care how old they get I never tire of watching them goof off and have fun. I never tire of watching them do anything. We are very fortunate… our kids have such crazy unique relationships and it’s adorable, dysfunctional, and just so entertaining all at the same time. They are special and we are so blessed…we love those goofballs so much 🙂 img_6646-1

We hated to leave that gorgeous beach. Even though we had a crazy couple days we would like to forget, that was one of the best vacations we have ever had. Being on that beach was really good for Hubby’s spirit and all of us being together was wonderful. We were missing our oldest son and his family.. unfortunately they couldn’t get the time off work 😦 Hopefully we can have the ENTIRE gang there next time.

And as for the softball games, it wasn’t a very winning week but not too bad. I have NO idea how those girls played in that heat.. bless their hearts.. they are tough cookies!! img_20160717_164735807_hdr-1

Since this trip we have had no crazy scares and we are ever so THANKFUL. But, with that episode and the advice of Hubby’s doc we are now faced with making a new decision…

Defibrillator or no defibrillator????

Until next time.. be a blessing.. share a blessing.. be blessed… xoxofb_img_1469577080612

 

 

 

 

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Just think of sitting out on your inviting front porch in your perfectly appointed rocking chairs on a warm Tennessee evening, or with hot cocoa on a crisp southern December night filled with endless starry skies. Tennessee is the perfect place for those who want to migrate south away from the harsh winters but still enjoy season changes.

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An all brick home with a fenced in yard and beautiful seasonal views. How would you like to see this gorgeous sight everyday out your kitchen nook window during every Fall on this lovely property?

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A striking contemporary style that sits on this property like a picture postcard.

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And how BEAUTIFUL is a very rare Tennessee snow storm? Doesn’t get prettier than this!

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Beautiful black granite countertops sparkle in this classic, roomy adorable kitchen perfectly designed for cooking and serving.

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Enjoy all the beautiful perennials and rock garden in this spacious yard that is perfect for cookouts and gardening!

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And Holidays are easy to enjoy with the very little effort it takes to make this house festive and inviting 🙂

This home is waiting for the perfect buyer and that could be you!!!! For more info please call Dana @ 931-434-2491 or @ Remax 1st Realty 931-728-5552

 

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img_20161203_111040Created and written by:

Creations_by_Char

Char Head 🙂