Sunday, February 22, 2015

Taking Care of My Mama - The Food Edition

 
 I fell in love with two grocery stores back home in Rockford, IL. Mom would send me out to pick up a few things and she was always very specific what she wanted from where. She definitely knew what she was talking about. The first store is Valli Produce. It is a huge grocery store catering to countries from around the world.
                                      I had no idea what Goya food was and I still don't.
I am so used to seeing a "Deli" sign that I had forgotten what it stands for and it was so cool to me to see it spelled out. The Valli deli was also one of the largest I had ever seen. It had everything.
                                                                   See what I mean!
I thought these pickles were pretty funny.
                    I had also never seen such a large selection of tortillas. This is only one side.

                    I also loved the piƱatas above the frozen foods. It was really festive and colorful.
Then let's move on to a restaurant called Hoffman House. It is the place to go for great food and most importantly to my mom, a great price. I arrived in Rockford the day before her surgery just in time for lunch and they were anxious to get me there. This is their salad bar.
The lunch menu is where it's at. I chose the golden fried shrimp. I noticed as I gazed around the room, everyone seemed to be well into their 70's. That's when you know you are at a restaurant with great food and a great price.
The salad bar was great and their basket of dinner rolls are so good, they melt in your mouth. I was so busy eating, I forgot to take pictures of the rest of my food.
This is a common sight at Hoffman House. My mom told me that many eat the salad bar and take their entrees home. We didn't the first time but our second time (yes, we went after mom's surgery), mom and dad chose the chicken and it came with a lot of pieces so the extra went home. I definitely need Rocketman to go with us next time we visit.
My other favorite grocery store is one I know very well, Gray's IGA Foods. Do you know I don't think it has changed a bit since I lived there in the late seventies. My mom would ask me to pick things up occasionally on my way home from school or work. Back then, you could pull up and someone would load your car. The only thing I hated is when she would send me to redeem soda bottles. Do you remember those days?
My dad had bought me one of these whipped cream filled long john's a few years ago when I was staying with them. I had craved them every since and knew the first errand for my mom would include these for everyone. They prefer the Bavarian filled. When I look at this photo, I just want to drive down to Rockford and get one.
 This is where you will find them. You better get there early because when they are gone, they are gone.
I took a couple of pictures to show you the inside of Gray's. It is the same interior as it was back in the 1970's.
Some might think it looks dumpy but to me it is charming and has lots of character. I hope they never change.












Thursday, February 19, 2015

Taking Care of My Mama - Rockford, IL

A few weeks ago, I drove down to my folk's house to stay a few weeks while my mom recovered from back surgery. I had no firm plans on when I would return except that I needed to be back Valentine's weekend to babysit the grandkids but I could return to Illinois if needed. I arrived a day before surgery and we arrived at to the hospital at 6:00am the following morning.

She had her surgery in the same hospital that Rocketman was born. How cool is that! My mom is 50% Swedish and I'm sure that was one of the reasons she chose Swedish American to have her surgery. Just kidding!
 As we passed by this door, I thought, "I could use one of those in my house!" I was raised in the Salvation Army faith and it was wonderful to have several officers (ministers) arrive to pray with my family and to sit with us as we waited for her surgery to finish.

I received an apology from one of the officers for a wrong that was over 30 years old. It was so unexpected and I was surprised that he hadn't forgotten and that he felt the need to right things. I had not seen him since it had happened. It was a false accusation that had hurt me deeply at the time but I had long since forgotten. But I could tell it was very important to him to apologize and I am truly grateful that he did. 
 My mom came through the surgery with flying colors. The room was so blasted hot that I turned the heat off. But my dad was cold so a nurse covered him in heated blankets. I did turn the heat back on. Heidi and me roasted along with others who came to visit. 
This is my mama the next morning. She originally was told that she would be in the hospital from 5-7 days. When we showed up that morning, she told us that she was going home that day. We couldn't believe it, but it was true. In retrospect, I think it would have been better to stay an extra day. She had an incision about 5" long at the base of her spine and it was tough for her to get along.

My very first job was as a nurse's aide in a nursing home. I recalled many things that helped me with taking care of my mom. First was helping her in and out of bed which was pretty painful for her. The first night home with her, I told my folks that if she needed to get up, wake or yell for me to help. I awoke early the next morning to a huge bang and yelling. My dad had decided to help my mom by himself and tripped over her walker. He did a header into the closet, breaking it off it's track. I jumped out of bed to find my dad sprawled on the floor and my mom trying to get out of bed. I got my dad back on his feet, the only damage being skinned knees and his pride, then got my mom up and off to the bathroom.

I had made and frozen some meals before the trip, so meals were pretty easy. I took care of everything which kept me hopping. I can say I have never watched Fox News, Dance Moms and Jimmy Swaggert just to name a few television shows. I remember my grandmother watching Jimmy Swaggert years ago and I was surprised to see he is still on television. My mom and I both love true life murder mysteries and also watched a lot of ID television. They have satellite television and my dad had even found a Korean television station, Arirang which I watched when my mom was sleeping. I used to watch it a lot when we lived in Korea.
                         While I was there, I tried to declutter one of their closets. I found this.
                                 See when it expired and no, she wouldn't let me throw it away.
                                         But my dad did let me throw this one away:)
One intersection near my folks had this bicycle and I thought someone must have been killed there while biking. But my dad told me that it was a Ghost Bike and they were all over Rockford. They were in memorial to all that have died in biking accidents.

While I was staying at my folks house there was a deadly accident on a two lane road I drove on a lot during my visit and also when I lived there.

The day after my mom came home from the hospital, it snowed close to 12 inches. It was crazy and thankfully my sister's husband, Paul, came over to blow us out. We've had a snow drought in the Twin Cities and I can't say that I miss the big dumps.

My mom ended up kicking me out when I hit just over two weeks. She was doing great, her surgeon's assistant and her doctor were very pleased with her progress and I think she just wanted to get back to normal. She was tired of me saying, "Don't bend over!" Even if it was doctor's orders:) I am doing a separate post on the food. It deserves it's own.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Maedeup Monday!



Hi Everyone! I've been pretty silent the past month because of how busy life became. My mom was in the hospital a few weeks ago for spinal surgery and I went down to Illinois to help her in her recovery and to help around the house. In preparation for this extended stay, I gathered a bunch of craft projects to work on. I had baggies full of maedeup projects that I had never completed and some knitting projects. The photo above is some of the maedeup jewelry I was able to complete while at my folks' house. I will be adding much of it to my Etsy store soon.

My mom was told originally that she would spend 5-7 days in the hospital so I brought lots of things to do while in the hospital with her. We were shocked that the day after her surgery, they sent her home. I'm not sure now looking back that it was a wise decision but we made it through. It was quite an adventure we went through and my next post will be on my stay. But for now, I'm busy catching up on many things. It's amazing what you really get accomplished when you have no internet but I was excited to be back on line.

While at my folk's home, I found and bought these malted milk balls while shopping at their local market to while picking up a few things for my mom. It was a huge mistake!!! All three of us became addicted. We couldn't stop. They were hands down the best malted milk balls we had ever eaten. I'm so glad they are not available near my home. The cravings continue.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

New Hanji Project

I have a lot of hanji forms from Korea and I love to do hanji. But it's all about making time for it. I've already scanned around 1000 of my parent's photos and it's been pretty time consuming but a lot of fun remembering the past. I am also taking an online yearlong painting class with Wyanne Thompson. I have taken a few of her online classes and learned so much about painting. The class is called "You and Me" and you can still sign up at any time. You can find out more details here.

I've decided my next hanji project will be to make some hanji trays. The photo above shows what the trays look like right now. I have pattern pieces which were made by my hanji teacher in Korea. I'm not sure when I will actually start it but it usually comes as a strong desire and then I put everything aside. I always seem to have many, many craft projects going on all at once and this also seems to be a common malady with crafters. I'll keep you posted with my progress.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Tiny Box

A month ago, I was picking up my girlfriend to head out for dinner. I have known Lynn for 15 years or more. We met in the office of the doctor I was seeing at the time. She was our doctor's nurse and would do the vitals and get everything ready for Dr. O. You don't normally know the staff at the doctor's office but Rocketman and I had recently started allergy shots. If you know anything about them, you start with shots (one in each arm for me) every week, then every two weeks and then monthly. You have to wait in the waiting room a half hour to make sure you do not have a reaction and then you have a nurse check each arm before leaving. Through the years we got to know everyone on Dr. O's staff along with the receptionists. Lynn and I got especially close. I have been to her home many times for dinners and celebrations. But this particular time I was thrown for a loop - in a good way.

She was grabbing her purse and coat but stopped and said, "I have something I have to give to you." This tiny box is what she gave me. She said many years ago a former patient had given her the box. He was of Japanese dissent and also a doctor. In his spare time he liked to make handmade boxes. I recognized immediately the Japanese hanji paper. This perfect box was amazing to me. He told her that the box was not for her but for her to hold onto and take special care of it until she felt compelled to give it to someone. He passed away a few years ago well into his 70's.

At that moment in time, she knew she had to give it to me. We both don't know what it means but both feel that it does indeed mean something. Only time will tell. Do you believe in signs? I do strongly and am still trying to figure this one out. But for one thing, it does make a great story.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Babies Are Here!!!

Our dear friend, Hellena, delivered her identical twin girls on the morning of January 25, 2015. She had been in the hospital a week prior due to contractions which they were able to control with medication. The side effects of the medication were horrible for Hellena. Before the delivery, I asked her if she had dilated at all and I was surprised to find out that her doctor had never check her vaginally. She said they do that when you deliver. She also had not seen her doctor for few weeks because he was on vacation and then ill. She saw another doctor and she said he didn't care about her or anything since he wasn't her doctor. What!

Finally, her doctor decided to deliver the babies the morning of the 25th. They were born via C-section and everyone is fine. The babies each weighed around 4 pounds. But when I talked to her  last, she had not eaten for three days, was in tremendous pain and having dizzy spells. She couldn't even get out of bed. She also had not seen the girls since they were born. I found myself trying not to book an immediate flight to Busan, South Korea.

When I asked about each problem, these were the answers she gave. She did not know why they would not give her any food and even her two best friends who are also in Busan did not understand that either. I asked if she had asked for pain killer and she had but they didn't seem to be too concerned with all her pain - same with the dizzy spells. She asked to see the girls and was told that she would then have to keep them in her room for half a day and she is in no condition to do that, especially without food.

Her doctor finally visited her on the third day after birth and asked her why she hadn't seen her babies. She was very upset to say the least. I know from Rocketman's kidney stone emergency in Korea that things are very different over there but some of it just doesn't make sense to me at all. I told her she has to go "ajumma" on them and become loud and demanding to see if that works. She was going to breastfeed too so I don't understand why they are keeping the girls from her especially when they are in good health.

The names they chose for the babies are a little different by Korean standards and least that is what she told me that everyone says when she says their names. They named them "Shin Bi" and "Lo Un" which together in Korean means mysterious. I think this is a trend in Korea when naming multiples thanks to Song Il Kook. He is a famous Korean actor and in 2012 when his wife gave birth to triplet boys, they named them "Dae Han," "Min Guk" and "Man Se" which all together in Korean is the phrase "Republic of Korea, Hooray!"

Then he was chosen to be one of the fathers highlighted in the television show "The Return of Superman" where celebrity dads take care of their kids while their wives are gone for 48 hours. I caught the show during our last visit to Korea and found it hilarious. The children on the show are adorable and seeing how their dads struggle to take care of them is really entertaining. You can find the actual episodes on YouTube.

Here is one of my favorite clips of daddy with the triplets:




Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Busy Girl

 I haven't been crafting this year at all because of this. Rocketman bought me this portable scanner for Christmas. At first, I didn't know what it was but boy, has it been a lifesaver because...
My dad asked me a favor. If I could scan all their photos so he could watch them on the digital photo player we gave him the previous Christmas. We had included a memory card with a few hundred photos but he loved it so much that now he wants everything on it.
 
It really is so much fun looking at old photos but it is definitely tedious, scanning, renaming and placing in the appropriate folder thousands of photos. I'm trying to get it done as soon as possible because I know how much they will enjoy it and I could speed it up by just scanning and not renaming but many of the photos have descriptions and I want to get everything as correct as possible. It is daunting but once it's done, it's done. So that's what I've been up to.
I've never considered myself a good cook maybe because I don't particularly enjoy it and it stresses me out.  It's something to always have to think and plan what's for dinner. But what happened last night makes me never want to cook again. I was making some Chinese food and needed to heat up some oil. I had made this before so I thought I knew what I was doing. I poured the oil in the wok and hit the high button on the stove.

I walked away for a few minutes and I heard a loud cracking noise. I thought the UPS guy had kicked the door. I look towards the front door and saw the wok with flames two to three feet hitting my microwave above the stove. I grabbed the pan and my first thought was to put it into the sink and turn on the water. But quickly I remembered seeing a video showing that when you do that, the oil explodes everywhere. So I ran to the sliding glass door with oil sparking out of the wok and leaving a trail of fire on the floor. I opened the sliding glass door, glanced back seeing the floor all on fire and threw the wok into the snow on the deck.  I was going call 911 and try to find my cat. But as I looked at my kitchen, all the fire was out. But the house had filled with horrible smoke. The smoke alarm was screaming and I couldn't even see the television that was on in the next room.

I was shocked at how fast the house filled with smoke. I was coughing and having trouble breathing so I stepped outside and texted Rocketman to warn him what had happened and that I was okay. I went back into the house to open all the windows and doors to help dissipate the choking smoke. It was horrible and when I became lightheaded, I went outside.
Rocketman got home and after being assured I was okay, we assessed the damage. I couldn't believe the floor was not burned at all. The oil had burned out leaving just oil marks that I was able to wash away.I have no explanation for this except that it was a miracle. I burned one rug (above), one pan and had a small 2nd degree burn on my right hand along with some smoke inhalation. I still am in shock but feeling very blessed and lucky.
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