Obscure Data and Antiquated Medicare

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Good grief! I’m such a bad blogger. It’s been so long since my last post. I hadn’t realized. If anyone is still out there, hello and thank you for hanging in here with me.

Actually I have a confession to make. I’ve never posted my age before because I’m getting to be an old fart and figured people wouldn’t feel any relationship to anything I have to say given all the cheery, mommy blogs out there. But having turned 65 on May 6, I’ve decided to share my age with you.

The other reason, is to let you know what’s down the road for you which actually brings me to the “why” of my blogging absence. The paperwork. OMG. You would not believe it. It’s ten times what I had before.

First, you’re inundated with junk mail from every health insurance company for three months before your birthday and over a month after that, trying to sell you supplemental insurance. Yep, you don’t get rid of insurance companies when you turn 65. They’re still there with their hand out, reaching for your pocket.

The real pain (well one of them) is that there’s no uniform understanding among the providers of what actually happens when you change over from ordinary insurance to medicare. I can’t tell you the amount of misinformation I’ve been given by every single one of these companies. What’s scary, is…if they don’t know, who does? It’s kind of like a big ole’ crap shoot.

The final icing on the cake is that Medicare does not have anything set up for you to pay online or over the phone! I was stunned. You get a bill for three months and have to pay it via snail mail. Yes, one has to write a paper check, put it in an envelope (not provided), plop a stamp on it and put it in a post box. I don’t know about you, but I pay everything online. Simple and clean, plus I have an email receipt which I store online, not in a file cabinet. Minimal paperwork.

When I asked one of the Medicare customer service people why the antiquated system. Her response was that most people over 65 either don’t have a computer or don’t understand them. I almost fell over! Talk about an outdated stereotype.

Well, I’ll stop for now, since recounting this fiasco is exhausting and I have to go through a whole batch of duplicate though incorrect bills submitted to Blue Cross.

On a totally unrelated note, this has been an odd summer weather-wise for us. It’s been fairly gracious about not hitting the 100’s but what’s strange is the high amount of humidity we’ve had almost every day. Normally it’s extremely dry but we’ve been hitting daily rates averaging 50% and above, which isn’t good. Right now, for example, the temp is 86F and the humidity is 54%. Ick, not nice.

As any of you on the East coast, Midwest or South can attest, humidity makes hot weather feel even hotter. Usually we’re so lucky to have humidity in the single digits. Not this summer. Plus, the National Weather service has been issuing flash flood alerts like crazy this summer. Apparently there’s some system hovering over So Cal that is very unstable. I guess that accounts for the high humidity of late.

At about 6:45 a.m. (EDT) we had our second full moon for the month of July also known as a blue moon. News flash: there won’t be any more blue moons till 2018! How weird is that? Three years! Well, that’s it for today, I’ll leave you with this humorous photo. Enjoy!

 

Sure Fire Way to Troubled Breathing

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Photo Source.

Photo Source.

This is our current wildfire. It’s in Big Bear and is moving East in the San Bernadino National Forest. It’s about 95 miles from LA but the area burning is old forest which hasn’t burned in a while, so lots of tinder. This area hasn’t burned in 104 years, according to records.

As a result the air here is not good. I didn’t really think about this till yesterday evening when I noticed how congested my bronchial area was. Constant throat clearing and hacking even though we’re so far away! Sure enough, just read that an air advisory has been issued for the whole area.

It’s been like that all day today which is getting old. I can’t imagine the poor firefighters up there in the thick of it! I have a friend who lives in Big Bear so I bet she’s glad the fire is moving away from her and the populated area. I’ve lost track of how many days it’s been burning.

Techie and Tasty Tips and Tricks

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I’ve run across a number of fun little things in the last few days while surfing the web. Well, maybe they’re not all so fun but in the this case, if you have a blog you’ll want to know about the first item just in case you missed it.

Google has changed it’s algorithm to take into account mobile searching. Who cares what the algorithm is, what matters is that your site must be mobile friendly. Now, the article I read, said to just check your blog stats. Well, I must be blind or they’re hiding really well, ’cause I couldn’t find that info anywhere for this blog.

Fortunately, the article had a link to Google where you can enter your URL and it will check for you. This blog is mobile-friendly I discovered. To see if your blog is too, just go here. Apparently WordPress themes are mobile-responsive.

On a completely different topic, now that the medical/scientific people have lifted the ban on egg-eating I’ve been enjoying them several times a week. I love eggs in any form, my favorite being sunny side up with bacon. Bacon is still on the “eat-very-little” list so I’ve been consuming hard and soft boiled eggs instead.

Lately I’ve even been enjoying these little nutrition packs as quick, easy and inexpensive dinner alternatives. While doing so, I’ve become fascinated with cooking techniques. I already blogged about boiling eggs here and now I’m looking into poaching which looks like a real challenge. As you’ll see from the series of videos below, it’s not.

So I have a few links to share with you about poaching eggs. First up is a video from thekitchn.com.

It’s nice to see what is meant by boiling vs. “my” version of boiling (as in a rolling boil, not what’s needed)  :)

This next link is from the New York Times. It’s a really short video and has a great tip picked up from Julia Child that really appears to put an end to all the flying white wisps. Note: it’s not the pin in the eggshell which may or may not work per various people. Plus it’s so ridiculously easy!

The following connection is from Jamie Oliver. It’s 3 ways to poach eggs. It’s the last one or #3 that I found the most interesting.

The next article is also from thekitchn.com. Poaching an egg in the microwave. Crazy easy and perfect for when you suddenly feel the need to finish off a dish with a special touch on top. Initially this will take a bit of trial and error due to the assorted voltages that microwaves come in.

Here’s another short video of using the microwave for poaching your breakfast, lunch or dinner egg.

I’ve included the next video because it explains what keeps the egg from exploding in the micro.

And one more:

So now there’s no reason, when the urge strikes, not to top off whatever you make, be it dinner or a salad or you name it, yum! Enjoy :)

Happy Birthday to Me

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Yes, today is my birthday. It’s also Sigmund Freud’s birthday. All day. Nothing special going on. Making Fagioli Neri Italiani for din-din. Yum. Was surprised to open the Google homepage and find a graphic that said “Happy Birthday Christine”. This is the graphic:Google B-day image

Pretty cool heh? My brother sent me a floral bouquet. Purple and green flowers. Mmmm :) Will photograph it tomorrow, it’s super overcast today so not a lot of light to work with. Anyway, Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday to me!

Tomorrow I’ll probably make Curried Cream of Asparagus soup in lieu of a birthday cake. Yum! I ordered asparagus with my groceries yesterday. Also got half and half to try in the soup instead of heavy cream. Can’t wait. And in honor of my B-day, I’m putting no restrictions on how much soup I can consume. :)

 

 

 

 

In a Pinch

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Photo Source.

Photo Source. This link has a load of ideas for storing spices!

Subs. No, not submarines or sandwiches, substitutes. I’ve found a bunch of links for subs in the kitchen when you’re cooking and discover you’re missing an important element in a recipe and don’t have any desire to go out to the store for one more single thing. You know that feeling.

It actually all started when I happened upon a link for an Old Bay seasoning sub. Well, two hours later…whew! I wasn’t actually cooking myself, but was interested because I have a few cans of crab meat calling to me from the pantry and a few crab cake recipes vying for attention. And who doesn’t love crab and crab cakes?

Most recipes call for Old Bay but not being in love with heat and a burning tongue I wanted to see what I could switch to get an OB “taste-kind-of-alike” and lower the heat. Yes, I am a whimp.

Still remember when I was married, going to a trendy restaurant that had just opened in LA, called Orleans. We ordered dinner and even though I selected the item least likely to be spicy, I couldn’t eat it without something to break up the heat. Yes, it was that hot/spicy. So I picked up a roll from the bread basket thinking it would be a perfect break from the burn.

It.Was.Not. OMG. It burned even more. Swear the the mirror on the wall was two-way and the waitstaff was just standing behind it laughing at people fanning their open mouths. Even my ex who could eat fire, encountered more than a few sweat-inducing mouthfuls as he ate. But I digress, so first we have Just a Pinch.com where I found one Old Bay recipe

Photo Source.

Photo Source.

as well as a bunch of other spice mix and rub recipes to substitute in a pinch. If you scroll to the bottom of each the recipe in the link, you’ll find links to other mixes. I also found this version.

So you can see how easy it was to go down the spice “rabbit hole” for two hours. But so worth it. Even found one for Spice Islands Beau Monde which is one ingredient in my sour cream dip. Love this dip, it’s so versatile, but more on that later. Note: This link bills itself as closer to the original Beau Monde, so I’m including it here.

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Photo Source. Aren’t these the cutest jars?

Here are even more substitute links: Taco Mix and more here and here. Then there’s Fajita Mix. Plus here and here and here. There are also meatloaf mixes. Or here. One billed itself as gourmet meatloaf (not impressed) so I offer this which looks much better. The glaze sounds really good.

There’s a recipe for Berbere, an Ethiopian Spice mix which the author acquired from Whole Foods. Here’s another. One that I really needed is Garam Masala, the one in my cabinet (a 12 oz. jar!) has to be ten years old! And I love curry.

Need to sneak a batch in before it heats up for summer. But why settle on just one version when I can also choose from thisThis one has a boat load of ingredients! Here’s one that’s not quite so over the top.

Thinking of curry, I should make Curried Cream of Asparagus soup since asparagus are in season. It’s the perfect recipe for thick stalks since you need to peel them with a veg peeler or the soup is stringy. Oh my, that is such delicious soup, warm, cold or room temperature. I could consume the entire pot! Will include the recipe soon. P.S. Peeling is the secret to delectable white asparagus btw and do not put the peelings down a disposal unless you relish turning a bunch of cash over to a plumber. Asparagus peelings and Insinkerators do not mix.

I know some of you have mentioned harissa in recipes so I found this and this and this for you. Then there’s ras-el-hanout. And that was just from one website! If you want to keep going, check out this link for another ton, okay maybe not a ton but quite a large number.

Well, hope you enjoyed the links, the last one is another rabbit hole btw. I actually had to force myself to close out of it so I could make dinner…lol. Oh and about my sour cream dip. I’ve been making this for years and years and find it goes with veggies, chips, you name just about anything and it’s scrumptious.

You just put equal amounts of the spice mixes listed below in a 16 ounce tub of sour cream. I, myself, like Knudson’s but it’s up to you. Use about 2-3 teaspoons each. Mix and wait. After about two hours in the fridge, stir and taste adjusting up if needed.

Oh dear. Sometimes I’m my own worst enemy. I just looked up the sodium content of the ingredients…something I probably shouldn’t have done. Yikes. Now I just may be finding subs for myself.

Amount of sodium in a quarter teaspoon: Lawry’s lemon pepper = 80 mg/ 1/4 t. (1 g) Spice Islands Beau Monde =150 mg/.25 t. ALT = EQUAL PARTS ONION POWDER AND CELERY SALT McCormick’s Bon Appetit = 200 mg sodium / 1/4 t. (.9 g) and has MSG Still makes a really great and tasty dip.

It’s Really Spring!

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Had a rather rough Easter weekend (more about that later). But over the last week, I got to thinking, I’ve been remiss in not telling you about our weather of late. My sincere apologies if you’re still swamped with snow. But since I complain here, on a regular basis, about the rotten hot weather, I wanted you to know how nice it’s been for a change. It reminds me of why I moved to California from Chicago ages ago.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

For the last three weeks we’ve had absolutely stunningly, beautiful spring weather! It’s been in the 70’s and low 80’s and is such an absolute gift when you’re facing a colossal drought and a potentially hideous seven months of summer to come. Plus it’s actually been cold (like 50 to 55F) (10 to 12.7C) at night which is what makes this weather turn out so lovely.

This morning was so beautiful with a lovely cloudy sky. Supposedly we’re going to get rain tomorrow…hopefully.

Later in the day:  well, it did rain, though very softly, but I’ll take all we can get. Oh, about the weekend. I’d been insanely dizzy for about one and a half weeks but Saturday was just scary. Kept “listing” to the right for some reason. No idea why. Thus I lost my balance at one point in the evening and fell. While trying to get to the bed to haul myself up (remember, no cartilage in my knees so I can’t kneel) I became entangled in the oriental rug. Surprisingly easy to do, oddly enough. The room is also small so there’s only about a foot of space between the bed and the wall to maneuver and my feet were under the bed.

Anyhow, after 45 minutes, I gave up and called the fire department for help getting untangled. Of course by then my blood pressure was through the roof and the dizziness was no better. The paramedics insisted I go to the ER which involved an ambulance ride (goodbye $2000) because they felt I might be having a stroke.

Well, a fortune in tests and twelve hours later, nothing. They didn’t find a thing. :( I mean, I’m glad it wasn’t anything serious but what a waste of money…my health insurance deductible started over on January 1 of this year so the first $11,000 in bills is “on me”. Thus the weekend was not so great.

 

 

Little Legs Under H2O

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Over the weekend, I chanced upon some rather humorous videos of Corgis swimming and thought I’d share them with you. The underwater shots are pretty cute. (Sorry for the ads at the beginning of some of the videos.) First we have “Swimming Corgis”:

Due to their long bodies note how hard they have to work to keep their rears from sinking down as they paddle. Next we have “Swimming in a River”:

I get such a kick out of watching their little legs keep paddling even when they’re lifted out of the water. The next one is so cute because his/her little legs are flapping so hard. It was aptly titled “Good Luck with Short Legs”.

Such a little fluff ball! The following one illustrates why the little low riders need life vests. Note how when the Corgi finally dives in he/she flips over completely.

Then we have the swimming championship…

Note how pooped out the two babies in the pink polka dot life vests are at the end of the contest. Bet they’ll sleep well. Now, lest you think it’s just Corgis who swim when lifted in the air, here’s a compilation of a number of little characters doing the same thing.

And last, on a totally different note, we have “Trying to Take a Nap on Train Tracks”:

Some of the looks and glares the stubborn little Corgi gives the cameraperson when a train runs into him crack me up. I’m surprised the little creature doesn’t just pick one up and give it a good thrashing. Well, I don’t want to Corgify you to death so I’ll stop, but hopefully this added a little smile to your Monday.

 

 

Link Laughter

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Ran across a few sites yesterday that can suck you in sort of like Pinterest and thought I’d share them with you. Why should I be the only one who blew an entire afternoon? :p You’re welcome.

First we have Despair.com. Motivational posters were big when I worked for a large medical device corporation which is why I think I’m drawn to this website. The corporate environment was so negative that it just begged to be lampooned.

These are just a few of the de-motivational posters that can be found there. Quite a few made me laugh out loud. While you’re there, take a look at a section called “illboards” which is also pretty funny.

Next up is Cuteoverload.com.

Photo Source.

Photo Source. This little cutie was thought to be extinct for two decades.

I think you get the idea. Photos and videos of unbearable cuteness.

Last we have Fark.com billed as “Real news. Real Funny”. An example is this young girl who taxidermies road kill. You must go to this link and scroll down till you get to the video with Steve Harvey interviewing the girl. I think the audience reactions are almost as good as the interview, especially when she describes how she loves the “brain-scooper”.

Well, that’s it for today. Hope this brightened your Wednesday! (No affiliation with any link BTW.)

Delivery and More…

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After my stint in the Intensive Care Unit back in September/October for three weeks, I began using Von’s Delivery to get groceries. It’s so easy. It’s $12.95 for a 1 hour delivery window, but if you pick the 4 hour delivery window, it only costs $6.95. If you order $150 worth of groceries (since I order about two to three weeks of food this isn’t a problem), it drops to $3.95. How sweet is that? The guy delivering brings them around the back and puts them on the counters in the kitchen for me. So Win and Win.

It's very easy to maneuver about their site.

It’s very easy to maneuver about their site.

No more dragging bag after bag through the garage, up the cement stairs and into the house and then collapsing in exhaustion! That part was actually harder than shopping when your knees have zero cartilage. Oh, and if you enroll in the Just 4 U thingy, it tracks what you buy and you get some really amazing discounts (like half price on stuff)! The only negative is that you don’t get what’s on sale in the weekly flyer but of late I don’t eat that much meat so it’s not that big of a deal. (No affiliation to Von’s BTW).

As a result, I’ve finally given up my 2+ year long stint of Caesar salads from TJ’s for dinner and am actually planning 2-3 meals (w/ leftovers) per week which is a real accomplishment. I do have to break the steps up and sit between chopping onions and the other ingredients due to my knees, but I’ve enjoyed having hot food. For some reason even though this is a mild winter, I’m colder than normal and that’s with the heat on (gas bill last month was $60, the highest its ever been).

I wrote this less than a month ago. Oh how my circumstances have changed. We’ve had temps in the low to mid 90’s for at least half of the days last week and they continued  over the weekend and today. Ugh. Ugly. Just Ugly.

After finding the pasta salad listed on last Friday’s post, this weekend I decided to start collecting summer salads and cold pasta combos in a bookmark folder entitled “Hot Weather Meals”. I still have a few hot meals to make (like Cheesy Broccoli Soup, Chicken Pot Pie Soup, Morracan Chicken with Olives and Lemon and Chicken Pot Pie) and then it’s back to the land of salads till November. I thought I’d have more time to enjoy hot meals. Sadly it doesn’t look that way. I actually did eat a bowl of cold Caldo Verde last Friday. It was still quite tasty even though I didn’t heat it. It was just too bloody hot.

Watch the video below and tell me this salad doesn’t look scrumptious.

So I spent this afternoon going through Pinterest, other websites and blogs hunting for salads to share with you. Now if you’re still up to your eyeballs in snow, my apologies. But I really need to start preparing to delete the heat in the kitchen before So Cal is behind the royal 8-ball of heat.

P.S. This week I get to enjoy 1.5 quarts of Von’s Select black cherry and vanilla ice cream FREE with my order. Perfect when you’re overly roasty-toasty.

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