The holidays are upon us! Are you ready?
Well, neither am I!
Because I like to bake my gifts (no, don’t put the iPad in the oven!) I always leave things for the last minute so everything is as fresh as possible. I realize I’m not alone in my hap-hazard preparations, so I thought I’d share with you some of my go-to goodies for gifting…
This was the beginning of my holiday blog post. I spent the weekend making holiday treats, from jarfuls of hot cocoa and homemade marshmallows to spiced nuts and biscotti, all wrapped neat and tidy for friends and family. I even made pumpkin peanut-butter dog biscuits for all my four-legged buddies.
(Homemade peppermint snowflake marshmallows, and personalized Pumpkin & Peanut Butter dog biscuits)
Monday morning everything was finished, packed in tins and baskets, and mostly photographed. Then, instead of sitting down to write my holly-jolly heart out, I decided to collapse into a pile of shakes and quakes and rush myself to the ER. Well, not decided…
Having grown up with medically competent parents, and being fairly aware of my (usually healthy) body, I’ve always been the type of person who only sets foot in a hospital if I’ve broken a bone. But as stubborn as I am, it only took moments before was willing to forego my high-hope plans for the day and check myself into emergency.
That was Monday afternoon, and much of what I’m writing now is coming from a bed in the hospital, appealing to your sense of pity and hoping you’ll forgive me for dropping off the face of the internet. What was wrong? I couldn’t say. Was it getting better? Who knew. Would I be out for Christmas? I could only hope.
Pitiful enough, yet?
Well, as it happens I am getting better, and five days of IV antibiotics, a spinal tap, surgery, and twenty some blood draws later, I had the wonderful gift of getting to go home for Christmas. Still recovering, but at least in the comfort of my own bed.
Although my appetite hasn’t been much, having had the great pleasure of eating hospital food for the better part of the week has put me in the mood for good, simple, home cooking. To be fair, the meals I was given were better than expected, and even better than some restaurants I’ve seen, but after a few days I was getting pretty tired of the low-fat, low-sodium, over-cooked, instant-oatmeal feel of it all. Knowing the house would be sparse by the time I got home, when I was finally released (freedom!) The Boyfriend and I made a mad dash to the grocery store for something of substance.
First there were basics: fruit and yogurt, beets and salad, the things I knew my stomach could handle. Fortunately, The Boyfriend was thinking a little further in the future and grabbed a few other things, like onions, potatoes, and the like – things for making a meal.
The Boyfriend has a nice and simple way of throwing together a quick sauce, pouring over noodles and veggies and topped with cheese, and then baking it in a casserole – whatever he feels like adding, he adds – and it’s always awesome. Along those lines, he began by making a sauce with sauteed onions and garlic, green and black olives, a can of tomato sauce, and a healthy splash of balsamic vinegar.
(Optionally throwing in some finely chopped ham or bacon can add a nice punch of flavor to the sauce)
To this he also added maybe a quarter cup of cream sherry. I would never have guessed, but this added a depth of flavor so rich and unexpected it made the sauce feel very full and unique. If not cream sherry, red wine would probably come close.
Then, instead of pasta, he served the sauce over brown rice (easy on my stomach) and steamed carrots and potatoes, of course topping the whole thing with some fresh mozzarella cheese. The heat from the sauce made the cheese melty and gooey in no time, and finally it was time to sit down and EAT.
Mmm – warm, cozy, and made with love!
This week has been, to put it lightly, a set-back. However, the snow is falling, the pain is dissipating, and I am finally beginning to look towards the future with a sense of hope and purpose. Soon, things will return to normal.
I can only thank my lucky stars, and my incredible support system, for seeing me through. Especially to The Boyfriend for sticking with me every step of the way – modern medicine and higher-beings aside, he was (and continues to be) my guardian angel.
Next up is to make a big batch of “thank-you-for-the-time-off” cookies for The Boyfriend’s boss!
Thank you, thank you, thank you, all.
Thank you mom, dad, Kennan, Brian, Lee, and thank you to St. Joseph’s Mercy Hospital for the incredible care. Thank you, Mark. You have my endless gratitude.