Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Hot Chocolate 101

My daughter Alicia is going to Guest Blog for me today.

I work at a day program for adults with cognitive and physical disabilities.

Today the lady I was supporting hosted a Valentine Party for a bunch of her friends and wanted to give them Hot Chocolate because chocolate and Valentines go together. She wanted to give them something to drink.  This a drink we had figured out a recipe for around Christmas time. She had wanted to figure out an alternative to coffee for a diabetic friend.  They both said they had not had hot chocolate for many years.

  We put all of our ingredients into a large cooking pot. We used  one and a third cup of instant skim milk powder or enough to make up a liter of milk. We used a third cup of cocoa and half a cup of Splenda.  We stirred up all the dry ingredients, poured in the 5 cups of water, stirred it thoroughly again and put the pot on the stove on low so it could slowly heat up and be ready for when her friends arrived.

People were so excited to have the drink. Her guests and my coworkers told her how much they loved it and commented on how good it smelled in the house! They even asked her for her recipe. We wrote the recipe out for a few of them and titled it Hot Chocolate 101 so that is where the name comes from.

My coworkers had a cup and then wanted seconds. They were used to drinking powdered hot chocolate mix and most had never tried hot chocolate made from scratch before. They commented on how different it tasted. For a lot of the disabled individuals it had been a long time since they had hot chocolate of any kind. This was a really nice recipe because it allows us to control the sodium, sugar and fat content making it accessible for different diets including heart friendly and diabetic diets and so allowed everyone to share in the treat.

Hot Chocolate 101

1  1/3 cup Skim Milk Powder
1/3 cup     Cocoa 
1/2 cup     Splenda 
5 cups      Water.

  1. Place dry ingredients into a large pot.
  2. Mix ingredients with a large spoon
  3. add water and stir again.
  4. put on a low heat on a stovetop and stir occasionally.
  5. Serve using a ladle.
  6. Enjoy!
Serves about 6 

Note  from Linda:
I think I will test this out with a slow cooker next week and then try it out at work. I am always looking for a nice treat that people on special diets can share.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Art - Pour Painting with Girl Guide Friends

My Painting.
My local Area for Girl Guides of Canada  had a "Pour Paint" evening for adult members.

What a fun night! One of our members, Janet, figured it out by watching videos on line and then experimenting and figured it out! She was kind enough to organize this evening and share this skill with us. We had about 21 people get together and we followed directions and it was amazing to see the results. It was more fun to do than I expected, and most certainly more exciting too. I was also surprised how much harder it was to control the color and outcome of the picture but still they all looked amazing. It was also a lot tidier than I expected. The tables and floors were covered with plastic and tarps on the floor, and we were all warned to wear clothes we didn't want paint on. Sure the tables had a lot of drips on them but no major spills and there didn't seem to be any paint on the floor.

I want to try it again, and I will take pictures of the process, but that can wait for better weather when I will try it outside. I was originally hoping this would be something I could do at work or with my Stroke Recovery Art group but I really think I will need to experiment and see what modifications I can make in the procedure to see if this would be a possibility. The cost would be kind of high for a small group too. Janet estimated that the cost was about $10 a person for our bigger group. Maybe it will work with smaller canvasses and fewer colors of paint.

Basically what we did was choose about 6 or more colors of acrylic paint and these were each added to individual cups along with a thin layer of a paint flow liquid.  If needed we added drops of water so it was thin enough to pour in a stream off of the popsicle stick mixing stick. It should not be dipping in globs nor should it be very runny.

Next we put  a bit of one of the paints into a bigger disposable cup and added a couple of drops of silicone type lubricant. Janet recommended little bottles of this stuff called treadmill oil that is usually sold near treadmills.  Just keep layering until the cup is full.

Next we inverted out canvas over the glass of paint and holding on tight flipped them. Full upside down glass on top of the canvas. You slide it around for a second and then lift the cup! TADA. Tilt the canvas around and let the paint roll around to develop the pattern and colors and be sure to get to all sides and let it pour off the edges.

Rest your painting on a paper plate to lift it off of the table and give it at least an hour to set up before you try and move it, but it will probably take over a day to set because the paint is extremely thick.

The acrylic paint dries as a flat color and it really looks best with a clear gloss spray coating or clear paint on sealant.

Below are a couple pictures of other participants work. Aren't they awesome?

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Pool Time for Me

I have to do all I can in the next 4 months to get myself in as good shape as possible before this hip surgery.

I have done so much over the past few years to try and keep moving and I think I did pretty well but the past year has frankly been very painful. It is hard to move and my leg does not physically move properly anymore. I have become less active and less mobile every month.

The hip and knee surgery orientation program I attended and now the surgeon stressed that exercise is essential to get the hip and leg muscles as healthy as possible. There is a list of exercises, a video of exactly what exercises they want you to do daily plus the suggestion that walking in water was very beneficial. There were also suggestions that loosing weight makes a huge difference both now, during the actual surgery and for recovery.

I have been going to a Wednesday water Tai Chi program sessions for the past year and really love it. That is more stretching and balance time and not really a calorie burner. I am now committing to go to the pool at least 3 times a week but trying my best to go 4 times counting the Tai Chi class. I even paid up and got a city pass for 3 months of unlimited access to the city facilities.

I must admit I have not been at all good about the video set of exercises because it hurts a lot and I really don't care for the start stop style of the video. Tomorrow I start!

As far at the weight goes. sighhhh. I was a heavy 10 year old and a very heavy adult. I think I was 11 when I was put on my first diet. I have gained and lost so much weight, tried so many diets and gotten a lot of support but it is still a big issue. I lost a lot of weight, though not enough, when I got sick 9 years ago and thank goodness I have not gained all that weight back but I did gain back way too much.

What I am going to do for the next 4 months is try and keep my calorie count under control and try to have a lower carb diet and increase the protein. I plan to use the SPARK People online app to count calories and for support. They do a detailed report each day of the nutrition and calories you eat that day. I am surprised to see how far off I am with things like magnesium, potassium, iron and calcium.  We do eat pretty high quality nutritious meals but it is obvious that on a low calorie diet you sure have to be very diligent to get the macro and micro nutrients to stay at a healthy level.

Who knows, by the end of the summer I might be in less pain, moving better, thinner and with a new wardrobe! 

Then we will see about my knees.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Monday, January 15, 2018

Arthritis and Me

I have had a sore knee for a long time.

When I was doing rehab after my brain injury they asked me to do exercises such as sit to stands and squats and I had a horrible time because of pain, not just neuro issues. That would be when we finally got an x-ray of my knee and I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis.

I have spent a long time walking with a bad gait and frankly it never did get quite normal. My knees and hip have taken a real beating. I tend to stand with all my weight on my "good right side".  I tend to twist a little on my hip as I walk and I kind of thud down on that right leg because I don't totally trust that my left leg will support me even though there is no good reason to think it won't now. I am a heavy person and have been since I was a child. My father had bad arthritis. The result of all these risk factors is that  I now have arthritis in both knees and my right hip as well as a bit in my lower back.

I have done a lot to keep the arthritis under control over the years but it just keeps getting worse.  I tried using a knee brace about 6 years ago and that was not all that helpful. I found it very uncomfortable and they are harder to fit properly on a heavier leg. I tended to be moving both legs kind of funny when I walked and it just was a bad treatment for me at the time.

I have been going to exercise classes and I find the water programs for people with arthritis to be especially helpful.

I do try and pace myself and sit and rest my leg when I need to be that isn't always easy. One of the issues that the arthritis help sites talk about is severe fatigue. I would say that is one of my issues continuing from the brain injury too. This makes it doubly harder for me to willingly exercise a lot or work on loosing weight - both of which would ultimately help with the same fatigue and the joint issues.

The past year or two my hip pain in particular has gotten really bad. I had a fall at work just over 2 years ago and it was like someone turned on a pain switch. My hip really didn't bother me much until that point.  I suddenly had a lot of inflammation and pulled muscles that eventually settled down with time and physiotherapy but the pain never totally went away. The arthritis in my hip has progressed rapidly over the past year and now the pain is constant and severe.

I have had cortisone injections in my knees and right hip over the past 18 months. The first hip one felt like a miracle but at about 7 months it wore off. The second one only lasted about 4 months and the last time it only took the edge off.

My family doctor, as well as the sports medicine specialist that I have been seeing, told me I needed to get on the waiting list for joint replacements. It is a long wait around here to see an orthopedic surgeon, never mind the long wait for the actual surgery.  I saw the surgeon last week and despite the fact that I am considered a higher surgical risk we are going ahead with the hip surgery.

My plan is to get myself in the best shape I possibly can before this surgery.  I am still focusing on  leading a healthy life.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Enjoying Knut's Day

Our family celebrates Knut's Day. -- because it is fun!

Knut's Day is a holiday celebrated in Sweden, Finland and Norway on the 20th day after Christmas and marks the final day of the Christmas Holiday season. It was more popular in the past but we still love the idea.

Taking down the tree is kind of a sad ending to a happy season. I knew of the tradition of Knut's Day from my Swedish father. I don't think he ever celebrated it himself but he certainly was aware of the holiday. Mainly my Dad was all about the music so I think he learned the traditional song for Knut's Day.

When the kids were little we had a few New Years when we took down the tree and it turned into kind of a sad day for the kids and me too. We talked about waiting to take the tree down on 12th night or Epiphany but we decided to embrace the Swedish Holiday Season of starting with Lucia Day and ending with Knut's Day on January 13th.

Basically this holiday is the day when Christmas is to be removed from the house. In Sweden the tree would have been covered with a bunch of edible decorations and on this day the children get to plunder the tree and eat the goodies and smash the gingerbread houses. They might even visit neighbours looking for treats, kind of like Halloween. The Christmas alcohol was to be consumed and Christmas baking and other Christmas foods were to be eaten in a bit of a party.  The family would sing a traditional song and dance around the tree. In one strange but happy action the tree was carried and thrown out the window!

In a few parts of Sweden the evening came and neighbours carried the old trees to a central area for a community bonfire. Music and fun brings the Christmas Season to an end.

My little version is to take off most of the breakable ornaments from our tree and replace them with some candy and edible ornaments like candy canes and foil covered chocolate ornaments. My Grandkids can go at it! We also enjoy a somewhat Swedish meal--- Thank-you IKEA for your meatballs! lol

The last of the decorations are taken off and the lights are removed and then we do indeed throw the tree out -- but we use our door.  In a couple days we haul it off to a community recycling depot where people can trade their trees for woodchips. The trees are ground up and used for landscaping and making trails in our city's parks.

 Christmas season is over and we are left with many great memories. The last verse of the old traditional song for Knut's Day kind of says it all. The tree and other symbols of Christmas leave our homes but we know that Christmas will come again next year.

Christmas has come to an end,
And the tree must go.
But next year once again
We shall see our dear old friend,
For he has promised us so.

Click here for more of the Swedish and English lyrics

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