Dinah’s Rose Tinted Glasses

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Today is just one of those days.

I am recuperating from my emotional response to opening a letter in the mail from our county’s Developmental Disability (DD) dept yesterday. I actually received the letter last week, but waited to open it in dread of what it may read.  Really, I just wanted to open it with a clear mind. That took a few days.

To my surprise, Dinah was deemed eligible for support services, and placed on a level 1 waiting list.

This is a huge deal because I have fought for the last 4 years to receive disability services for her. My issue with the government concerning support for people with disabilities is a whole other story.

I got up this morning remembering the letter and very excited that we are one step closer to getting her some of the large price tag equipment she needs.

Motorized wheelchair. Enclosed safety bed. Lift. Communication devices. Adaptive play equipment. Safety bath chair. Wheelchair accessible vehicle.

Just to name a few.

Then I mentally and emotionally spiraled into what all of this really means.

I started missing markers. (go to my previous post of what Missing Markers means for clarification).

I started wishing that I was pondering different plans for Dinah’s future.

Like her first dance. Prom. Buying her a starter car for graduation.

I started thinking about the conversations we may never have.

About her best friend at school. Her first crush. Her nervousness over her first spelling bee competition. Her excitement about receiving her first college acceptance letter. Her questions about life.

Yes, yes, yes of course she still may be able to do some of these things.

But, when you have a child with severe disabilities it is wise to plan for the worst while hoping for the best.

Because you absolutely do not want to be caught empty handed if worst shows up.

I am a firm believer in the power of faith. And yes, I believe that miracles happen everyday all across the world.

I believe that the fact that Dinah is even here IS a miracle.  Various things have happened in my life that are a miracle in my eyes.

But….I also have to live in the reality of now.  The reality right now is that Dinah does not walk or talk.  The reality is that I have to plan for the probability that this will never change.

This reality is depressing.

The only comforting part of any of this is that Dinah absolutely loves life.  She is such a happy child. She really only cries when I fix her hair, she is hungry or thirsty, during any type of therapy, or when her little sister snatches a beloved object from her.

It is like she wears rose tinted glasses the vast majority (90%) of the time.  You know, the type we all wore before life smacked them off of our faces.

It is comforting to think about her future and always see those rose tinted glasses nestled on her smiling face.

That I can live with.

That makes me happy.  Because most of the things we do for our kids is geared towards making them happy.  Dinah is happy on her own.

That adds a dimension to my perspective of Dinah’s future. Giving it a very subtle, yet effective, rose tint.

Oh Dinah, if only I could view the world like this all of the time.

You inspire me to challenge myself everyday to do so.

To wear your rose tinted glasses no matter what I am looking at.

-Kelley

© Kelley Daniel, http://www.missingmarkers.com, 2014

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Affirming Courage Quotes 032714

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“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.” -Mary Anne Radmacher

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.” -Ambrose Redmoon

“Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.” C.S. Lewis

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”- Anais Nin

“He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.” -Muhammad Ali

Chicken Milano (Gluten-free Style)

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Pasta + Chicken + Creamy Sauce = Happy Me

Simple equation.

Unfortunately, Happy Me did not know know to make a gluten-free version with a homemade sauce.

Yes, homemade as in no glass jars.

My cooking skills just did not include that.

Until yesterday.

Long story short, I Googled gluten-free pasta dishes, Googled creamy pasta dishes, Googled chicken pasta dishes,  and in the process found several recipes on Chicken Milano.

I ended up merging ingredients that were gluten-free to make the dish.

It seemed simple enough. And really was, once I got over my fear of using heavy cream.

The dish turned out to be ABSOLUTELY AMAZING.

I’m a good cook, but even I was surprised at the results.

Here is the recipe:

Chicken Milano (Gluten-free Style)

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Ingredients:

  • 1 pack of chicken breast (I used Gerber Farm’s Amish chicken breast.  It comes with 3 chicken breasts. You could use more or less chicken, a different meat all together, or go meat-less)
  • 1 cup of heavy cream (I used Organic Valley’s organic heavy whipping cream)
  • 1.5 cups of chicken broth (I used Field Day Organic’s free range organic chicken broth)
  • 1 cup white wine (I used Oak Leaf Vineyard’s pinot grigio)
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced  (I used Christopher Ranch’s organic peeled garlic. I love this garlic because it is peeled and vacuum-sealed for freshness in individual little pouches. I am a garlic lover…you can use less)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3/4 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter (I used Simple Truth Organic unsalted butter)
  • 3/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped (I used Bella Sun Luci’s julienne-cut sun dried tomatoes)
  • 1.5 tbsp dried basil (I used Simple Organic’s basil)
  • 3/4 cup parmesan(I used Organic Valley’s shredded parmesan)
  • 3 bay leaves (I used Simple Organic’s bay leaves…..by the way, bay leaves are my secret ingredient to every pasta sauce I make. They just add such a great flavor! You’re welcome ;-)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder, optional (what?? I told you I love garlic.)
  • honey to taste (I used Don Popp’s Honeyfarm’s raw honey. I used 2-3 tbsp because I feel that garlic and a very slight sweetness go very well together. This is optional.)
  • 2 splashes of vinegar (I used Bragg’s apple cider vinegar. I kept tasting the sauce towards the end and thought that something was just missing. I remembered all of the times I have heard Food Network Chopped judges talk about dishes lacking acidity and I thought VIOLA thats it! And it worked. FYI, splashes are often equivalent to a tablespoon. I would measure the vinegar if you fear pouring too much)
  • 8-1o ounces of gluten-free pasta, dry (I used SamMill’s 100% corn pasta)
  • seasoning for chicken breasts (I used Trader Joe’s garlic-salt and Simple Organic’s paprika)

Directions:

1.) Preheat oven to 450. (I love to oven-roast chicken, so this is how I prepared mine. You could prepare the chicken however you like it.)

2.) Start by seasoning chicken with garlic salt and then pan searing it in a cast iron skillet for about 3 minutes on both sides.  Once you achieve a good sear, sprinkle paprika on each breast and transfer the whole skillet of chicken into the oven. Cook uncovered for 20-30 minutes, or until the chicken is fully cooked with no pink inside. Slice cooked chicken and place to the side. To save time, while chicken is cooking you could start the sauce and then add sliced chicken in at the end.

3.) Heat olive oil over medium heat and add mushrooms. Saute for 5-8 minutes, turning to ensure even browning. Add garlic and cook for about 1 minute, using spatula to stir often and prevent burning. Add tomatoes, olive oil, white wine, basil, bay leaves, and butter. Reduce slightly. Cover, and allow to simmer for about 5 minutes over low heat.

4.) Add chicken, parmesan, and heavy cream while stirring over low heat. Add honey, salt, pepper to taste. Add 2 splashes of apple cider vinegar.  Allow to simmer for about 10 minutes. Add the optional garlic powder, if desired.

5.)  While sauce is simmering, add dry pasta to boiling water.  Cook to al dente. Rinse pasta in cold water (this is a little trick that I learned from my mother to prevent the pasta from getting mushy).

6.) Remove sauce from heat. Discard bay leaves (half of the battle is finding them, lol). Add cooked pasta. Stir, then cover to allow flavors to “mesh” together with pasta.

7.) Sprinkle finished product with pinch of dry basil for dramatic effect ;-) and enjoy!!

 

Additional tips

I am all about tasting and adding spices to achieve my desired taste. The honey and vinegar were added on the fly. Likewise, if you have any special spices that you love….try adding them. You may be pleasantly surprised at what you get.

Also, the sauce was a lot less creamy than I wanted it to be at first so I thought to add cornstarch. Somehow I grabbed baking soda and added 2 tsp of it before I realized the error!! It fizzed for a bit and then settled down. I’m beyond thankful that it did not ruin the dish. Once I added the pasta, the sauce thickened on its own so the cornstarch was not necessary. In hind sight, even if the sauce was a little thinner it would still taste amazing!!

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Fizzy sauce…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enjoy!!

-Kelley

© Kelley Daniel, http://www.missingmarkers.com, 2014

Oh for the Love of Tea!!!

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Gosh, I need these immediately. NEED!

First, happy Monday! I love Mondays. I only work on weekends, so Mondays are like the beginning of a five day weekend for me.

Second, I have been searching online for these tea mugs for several days, and have yet to find the set.  I hate the feeling I get when Google has failed me.  

Every Monday morning it seems that the girls wake up particularly early. Today they woke up at 0700 (their norm is about 0930). After monetarily grieving for that 2.5 hour bracket of sleep that I will never get back, I switched on an attitude of gratitude and got up to start my day.

I oil pulled for the customary 20 minutes (I will write a post on my oil pulling experience in the future).

I performed my newest morning ritual of feeding the children, walking the dog (we adopted him 2 weeks ago), and cleaning the early mornings’ worth of kid-related messes.

Diaper changes x 2. Full dog poop bag x 1. Chance to catch my breath x 0.

And then, finally, I was able to sit down for my morning cup of green tea.  Exhale.

It seems like a hot cup of tea can instantly transport me to a world of peace (no matter how many times mommy is chanted in the background). A world of fluffy clouds and grass that feels like soft carpet.  A world of heart smiles.

Tea is to me what coffee is to most people.  It gives me that morning ZING of energy. But, unlike coffee, tea does not leave me with the high-strung agitated feeling of energy that crashes the very same way in which it peaks.

Tea is very energizing, yet deeply calming for me.

Tea just is.

I used to be partial to the Organic & Pure brand of tea bags.  My favorites are the green tea with lemon, decaf green tea (for those late night cups of green tea, minus the caffeine), and chamomile tea (for those nights where I want tea right before going to bed).

Then, after the nudging of two of my cousins, I tried Nirvana Tea.

I was in love at first sip.

Nirvana Tea has a luxurious collection of natural and organic loose leaf teas.  My favorites are the organic green tea blend and strawberry rose lover.  I actually like to mix those two flavors.

I love loose leaf tea because the flavors are just so much bolder than the flavors from tea bag varieties. This is due to the quality of the leaves and the fact that I have more control of the intensity of flavor (just add more or less of the tea leaves). And, loose leaf tea tastes very fresh and pure.

Loose leaf tea just is. 

Nirvana Tea redefined my obsession with tea (primarily green tea) .

I have always been a lover of green tea because of its bold taste, the way it makes me feel, and the rather common knowledge that it is very healthy.

People see me with my green tea and they usually say “wow, you are so healthy” (translation: ugh, you are annoyingly healthy).

But, what actually makes green tea healthy?

Here are some tidbits of information that I have gathered from various evidence-based studies.

Green tea:

  • is known to have high levels epigallocathechin-3 gallate (EGCG). This substance has been linked to a reduction of cancerous cells in humans (1).
  • is rich in catechin polyphenols and caffeine that have a role in increasing 24 hour energy expenditure and fat oxidation in humans (2), which in layman’s terms means that it aids in increasing energy levels and burning fat.
  • has been connected to lowering cholesterol levels and incidences of cardiovascular and liver diseases in people who consume 5+ servings a day (3).
  • is full of a compound called L-theanine that is known to for its anti-anxiety properties.   L-theanine is one of the few compounds that are able to cross the blood-brain barrier.  It  increases GAGA activity, dopamine activity, and promotes alpha waves in the brain. This explains why it is so effective in promoting relaxation (4).
  • is helpful in improving short term memory and may improve overall brain fuction. Studies show that it may also decrease the risk of Alzheimer and Parkinson diseases (5).
  • has been shown to lower blood sugar levels, improve insulin sensitivity; thereby lowering the risk of developing Diabetes Mellitis Type II (6).

This is not in any way a complete list of the health benefits of green tea. I found an exhausting amount of information on Google scholar (see…Google has a way of redeeming itself) that supports green tea being incredibly helpful in promoting overall health.

Green tea just is.

And I love it!

 

Now raise your hand if saying loose leaf tea instantly brings loose leaf paper to mind. **silently raising hand**

-Kelley

 

P.S.

As a nurse, it is my first instinct to always warn the public that this is my personal experience (you knew this blurb was coming). Green tea, in addition to many other natural herbs, may interact with certain medications.  Always speak with your physician before ingesting any herbs, no matter what form it comes in.

 

 

© Kelley Daniel, http://www.missingmarkers.com, 2014

 

Affirming Tea Quotes 032414

i_love_tea_by_michaella-d5ipix3“Tea – the cups that cheer but not inebriate.” William Cowper

“Remember the tea kettle – it is always up to its neck in hot water, yet it still sings!” -Author Unknown

“Strange how a teapot can represent at the same time the comforts of solitude and the pleasures of company.” – Anonymous

“Better to be deprived of food for three days, than tea for one.” – Chinese Proverb

“Sir, I did not count your glasses of wine, why should you number up my cups of tea?” – Samuel Johnson, The Life of Samuel Johnson, Vol. 2

“Each cup of tea represents an imaginary voyage.” -Catherine Douzel

“There is a great deal of poetry and fine sentiment in a chest of tea.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson, Letters and Social Aims

Affirming Nature Quotes 032114

Tulip-Flowers-Nature-Wallpaper“Adopt the pace of nature:  her secret is patience.”  -Ralph Waldo Emerson

“I like the night, without the dark we’d never see the stars.” -Bella Swan [twilight]

“We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass – grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls. ” -Mother Teresa

“A weed is no more than a flower in disguise.” -James Russell Lowell

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.”- Lao Tzu

Affirming Laughter Quotes 032014

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“A day without laughter is a day wasted.”

–Charlie Chaplin

 

 

 

“Through humor, you can soften some of the worst blows that life delivers. And once you find laughter, no matter how painful your situation might be, you can survive.”

–Bill Cosby

“A laugh is a smile that bursts.”

–Mary H. Waltdrip

“Everybody laughs the same in every language because laughter is a universal connection.”

–Jakob Smirnoff