Sunday, January 31, 2021

Making Marmalade the Victorian Way

 My daughter Alicia and I made Marmalade! Well, maybe mainly Alicia, but I helped. We have talked about making marmalade since the summer. Alicia has never made any, and I have not made any in at least 20 years.

Alicia really enjoys a YouTube Channel called the Victorian Way. It is from a British Heritage site with cooking videos where they present short demonstrations of Victorian cooking by reenacting the preparation of various authentic dishes. It is kind of like Downton Abbey meets Master Chef Challenge. We love the cook, Mrs. Avis Crocombe, who is based on the real cook that worked at the estate in the 1880s. Each of the cooking videos gives information in the text on the videos and in the notes under the video so a modern-day version can be made at home.

Their historical society put out a cookbook based on the authentic recipe collection of Mrs. Crocome, and we bought a copy for Alicia as a Christmas present this year.   

This book brings together Avis’s very own recipes and other Victorian favourites from the time – all specially adapted for modern cooks and modern kitchens.

Along with practical recipes and insights into the culinary world of the Victorians, you’ll find a vivid history of Avis’s life and times, and – for the first time – the full manuscript of Avis’s own handwritten recipe book.

“I hope this recipe book will bring as much joy to those who cook from it as I get from telling Mrs Crocombe’s story.” - Kathy Hipperson, Historical Interpreter

How to Cook: The Victorian Way with Mrs. Crocombe: Gray, Annie, Hann, Andrew: 9781910907429: Books -

One of the book's recipes is for a Marmalade, and Alicia wanted to try it out. It was different than any marmalade I had ever tried to make before. For one thing, you start off by boiling whole oranges for an hour. 

Alicia did most of the work and all the peeling the citrus rinds, but I helped stir and boil down the sugar and fruit and helped with filling the little jars Alicia bought at the dollar store. I also helped with sampling the final product YUM.  I find that I can stand up just fine for short periods of time, but I get very tired and become more accident-prone. It is a good thing that Alicia was so committed to making Marmalade because it easily took an hour and a half. 

Here is a sample of one of their videos. - This one uses marmalade to make Marmalade Water Ice! Maybe we will try that this summer since we now know how to make the marmalade.



Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Trying to Keep Busy

 I have been recovering at home for over a month now with little to do but watch TV and play on the computer. I need to find a way to keep myself distracted and busier. I still have 2 to 3 more months with me out of commission, and it is looming through the whole long winter!.

I was really looking forward to planning and carrying out a variety of programs at work for 2021. I have been looking up new ideas for a long time now and hoping that the isolation protocols would soon be over so we can do group programs once again. I was also preparing ideas that could be done in the residents' individual rooms with very few resources and possibly even done independently.

I was thinking that an excellent basic program idea would be all things lemon. Tea with lemon would be a perfect way to spend time with individuals or groups. I found some colouring sheets, easy baking plans and I even have aan appropriate story. I had lots of other lemony ideas floating around in my head for my seniors. 

I am really lonely and bored and focusing way too much about what I can't do, and --- yes --- I was thinking I really need a recreation therapist just for me!! Too bad with quarantines, I can't even have friends over to distract me! I need to find things I can actually do. I need to stop pouting and start figuring this out. Sometimes, it is more challenging to look at yourself and your abilities objectively than it is to sort out other people's needs.

Bob and our daughters have been pretty supportive of my different hobbies and interests. They have had many years of getting pulled into my adventures. They occasionally join me in the fun and frequently are good "enablers" of my various ideas. Still, I really don't want to tempt them away from the things they are supposed to be doing either. Helping me with daily living issues is a pretty full-time job right now anyway.

The idea of lemon programs is currently stuck in my head. I keep thinking about the saying, "If life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade," and I'm feeling an urge to take that quite literally. I'm feeling like I am dealing with a whole lot of sour lemons right now.

Christmas 2020 had a citrus element at our house. Emily and Alicia dried and strung up citrus slices to be used in our beautiful Christmas tree. Emily and I rolled out cinnamon applesauce dough. We then used cookie cutters to form cinnamon-shaped animals to hang on our tree too. We had a few extra dried orange slices and cinnamon shapes that we put in a bowl with pine cones to act as a tabletop centrepiece. For the centrepiece, we also added some whole oranges that we studded with cloves. It was so fragrant and pretty.

The lemon ideas I planned for work would be good for my seniors living in a Personal Care Home; however, they are not really great distractions for crafty little ol' me stuck at my home with mobility issues. Recreation Therapists make care plans for all of our residents. We look at their interests and likes and at their histories. We assess their abilities and any possible limitations we need to consider. Next, we try to develop plans that are therapeutic, holistic and at the very least will make them feel engaged in what they are doing.

Right now, I have issues with how I am moving, and with my stamina levels. We will need to find supplies already at our home or available to us during the pandemic lockdown. This all impacts what is realistic for me to try doing. I might add that my patience is kind of limited right now, and my frustration level is kind of high, back to why I need to make some changes to my days.

Yesterday I commented on Facebook about my plans to do some citrus-based projects at home and shared that I wondered what I should do. Several friends came up with great ideas that had not occurred to me. Now, for sure, I want to do see how far I can take these ideas. I am indeed going to do lemon and orange things! I can take it as a challenge, like a scavenger hunt, to interpret some of my ideas and my friends' ideas in some sort of doable ways.

 I wasn't originally thinking of this as something to share on this blog, but a few friends really want to see pictures of what I am actually up to! Lol. Look out for future posts about my take on making lemonade when you have way too many lemons.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

I Hurt My Hip Again or The Worst Christmas Ever

 I did it again and I have hurt myself.  My artificial hip dislocated!

 It is hard to keep Leading a Healthy Life when I am always getting in trouble. 

Free google image- not of me!

I do want to share what happened. This is actually hard to write because I am still feeling quite traumatized by this experience but I also know that writing is like therapy for me when I am trying to process events. This is going to be a bit longer and but I feel a real need to record what happened to me. I have not come across a lot of stories about a dislocation like this. It is a 4% risk you are warned about and it usually happens in the first six months after a hip replacement and not two and a half years later!

I wrote a lot of posts in 2018 about my recovery from a hip replacement and about life with Osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a chronic disorder and something I try to just live with and take whatever steps I need to alieve pain and keep functioning.

My left knee has been bad for a long long time and I was finally scheduled for knee replacement next week but it was put on hold due to Covid restrictions in our area. I had let the knee go on so long that I am now having trouble with the left ankle and have some bowing in my left lower leg because of how my knee has collapsed inward. My other knee is not doing that well either. The result is that I bend from the waist a lot instead of trying to squat or "lift with your knees".

After you have a hip replacement you have quite a few restrictions on your movements, especially during the first months, such as not crossing your legs and not doing high-impact movements. I kind of forgot that I should also be careful with bending over. 

On December 22nd, at about 11 pm, I was in a storage area in my basement and I was reaching down at an angle trying to lift a small box off the bottom shelf of a cabinet and I think that as I straightened up I twisted a little. I felt and heard a kind of thunk and felt excruciating pain and realized my right leg was not able to move. I instantly realized that my hip was dislocated. I screamed and screamed with the pain, still standing there on one leg. I was briefly thinking it would clunk back into place any second but that was not a real possibility.  My husband and daughters came running down the stairs. They brought a rolling chair over to me and with a huge amount of pain I wound up sitting on the left check... with a lot more screaming. I was convinced to sit because I was terrified my "good" leg was going to give out because I was shaking violently by this point. I thought how much damage could I do if I hit the floor?

The family called 911 and the emergency response team arrived quickly but there was nothing easy about getting me out of the basement.  They warned me that it was going to be horribly painful but there was no choice, They set up an IV, kept checking my vitals and getting a history then gave me a shot of a pain killer. They got me in a metal transport chair because of the turns at the top of the stairs and with my foot and leg kind of turned out funny and me screaming some more. Going up the stair was something else, then there was a transfer to the stretcher and they gave me another shot of the painkiller and took me out to the ambulance. 

Did I mention there was a blizzard going on? They were concerned about the roads and the best route to the hospital. The ride was not uneventful - there were concerns about me going into shock and my blood pressure becoming unstable and respiration dropping but they got me to the hospital really quick considering the weather.  

At the hospital, it was another agonizing stretcher move and I laid in the hall for what felt like the longest time.  Next was the x-ray. They should have given me another shot of the pain killer because transferring me onto the x-ray table and then putting me into position was so bad I couldn't believe it.

An hour or so later a doctor came into the spot they parked me in Emergency and told me they would be taking me into a procedure room and try to pop get the hip back into position. A doctor came and got more of my history and then after another wait, they took me in a room and gave me a sedative and other medications so that I was not completely knocked out but would not remember anything or move.

I woke up back in the emergency and did not feel good about things and then the doctor came in and told me that they tried 4 or 5 times and were not successful.  He told me my own surgeon, who had done the hip in the first place was the on-call doctor that day and that they were scheduling surgery for me later in the day. It felt long but this time at least I didn't have to move at all and they had a painkiller going in the IV so the pain was a little more manageable.

I had a very long chat with one of the surgeons pre-surgery. I have so many medication intolerances and very complicated history. He explained that they would most likely have to open me up to get the hip back together and that there was a possibility that the whole artificial joint would need to be replaced. He told me that the first thing would be to try under anesthesia and with greater muscle relaxants and monitoring to give one more try and manipulating the joint into place. I was just grateful something was going to happen.

I woke up in the surgical theatre with them telling me that they were able to reduce it and the actual surgery was not necessary.  I was taken to a room in the orthopedic ward and found myself flat on my back and my legs were firmly strapped to either side of a large triangular wedge so that I could not move my leg and hip at all.  The rest of the day and a lot of the next day was a bit of a blur but the drugs kind of kept me asleep or at least out of it. I  had a massive headache and was feeling like vomiting every time I moved or they brought food into the room.

I felt a little less out of it on Christmas Eve and was trying to find a position while flat on my back that didn't hurt my neck and lower back. I had a nice lady sharing the room with me who just had her second hip replacement within the year. It was a relief to have a pleasant person sharing the room with me.

Late afternoon I was visited by a person who fits braces and prosthetics. The nurse called and begged to have someone come out that afternoon. It seems the company closes Christmas Eve and then doesn't open again until January 2nd!  I would have been stuck there flat on my back e all that time if he hadn't come. The man worked on bending pieces, lengthening others and adjusting velcro straps to make it fit me. There is a kind of hinge at the hip that he set to only let my hip flex up to 75 degrees according to the surgeon's prescription. 

I still couldn't move that leg but at least my left leg could shift and I could reposition myself slightly.

Christmas Day was hard physically and emotionally.

The Physiotherapist came to see me and we got me up and walking as far as the bathroom and practiced how the heck to sit down on a toilet or on anything else.  I spent a while sitting in a reclining chair in the late afternoon and I actually managed to eat something for the first time. Christmas Turkey dinner but not like any I had ever experienced before.

 I felt so bad about not being at my work doing all the things I had promised to do but at least I know that the rest of the staff would somehow make things good for the residents that were in my care. I was supposed to help people visit with their families for Christmas using Facetime and Zoom and here I was being the one sick in bed with my family face timing me for short Christmas visits. It kind of broke my heart not being with my family in person.

I asked my roommate if she would like to listen to a Stuart Mclean's Christmas Special. Stuart Mclean was a Canadian radio show host and an icon to many of us until his death a few years ago. He told wonderful, warm humorous stories about a family and their adventure. My roommate said "Yes, that would be nice." so we were distracted for an hour or so by listening to a couple of his stories.

Boxing Day was more physiotherapy in the morning and I almost flunked stairs and was told we would try again the next day but I was so heartbroken the guy said we could try again in the later afternoon. I also got to have a good talk with the occupational therapist. She also had to approve that I was fit to go home but she also answered a few basic questions I had about managing everyday life wearing this brace.  In the afternoon the nurses timed painkillers for when the physiotherapist was coming back and this time I managed the 5 steps using crutches and proved that I could get all the way into my house,

Things moved quickly and I had my discharge papers in my hands, directions about pain killers and when to book a follow-up appointment with my surgeon.

Bob was phoned to come and get me and they wheeled me to the door where Bob had a coat and slippers waiting. Somehow we got me into the car and safely home. 


This post took me a very very long time to write and is probably full of editing errors but I am sure you will forgive me.   I am still pretty shaken up and exhausted from the whole experience, but starting to do better.

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Where has the Time Gone?


I don't really know why I have been away from this blog for so long, but I missed it and all of you very much, so I am back! 

I really enjoy writing and posting here, keeping in touch with friends, and sharing my projects and ideas. I think I just took the most prolonged summer vacation ever. Grin. One issue was my intention to put a lot of my cottage pictures and info onto my lake blog, and then I wound up avoiding social media and was writing very little anywhere. I will probably just post everything to this one blog in the future. 

I want to keep sharing ideas that are useful for recreation professionals, Girl Guides, families, homeschoolers and many kinds of volunteers. I will keep using blog labels to make it easier for people to find topics they are interested in. I only share activities that I personally find interesting, so hopefully, they will be of interest to you, my blog readers, as well.

Covid 19 has affected my attitude and willingness to share some personal opinions here at Leading a Healthy Life. I have a hard time discussing and commenting about Covid 19 and feel like I have to censor my views. Our whole world and our daily lives are affected by this pandemic, yet I have not felt all that free to voice my thoughts. I have many opinions based on my degree and knowledge as a Microbiologist and my previous work as a technician and teaching assistant for Infectious Diseases at the Medical College, but that is not my role anymore.

 I work as a front line health care worker at a personal care home. Recreation therapy is a high-risk job right now, and my various health conditions put me at even greater risk. The tension at work is high, and everyone just wants to do the best we can for our residents, their families and our fellow workers. It isn't easy to be in a position where you have knowledge and expertise but not the authority to act on it. It has taken all my energy to be positive at work, and I have had barely enough energy left over for my family. I have a lot to be grateful for, and I am trying to focus once again on the positive.

Other News

I have had yet another serious health crisis this month, and it seems like I will have a lot of time on my hands to blog or do a few other things. 

I dislocated my artificial hip on December 22nd, and now I am off work and recovering for about three months. I'll save all the details for a whole other blog post this coming week! I might title it The Worst Christmas Ever.

I do want to share my Best Holiday and New Years Wishes with everyone. Here is hope for a year with good health, friends and family and lots of joy and love. 

 Our world still has a long way to go, and there will continue to be changes in how we lead our lives. It is inevitable after the year we have just experienced. 

The Theme of this blog has always been about how to lead the best life possible and how to rise to those physical, social, emotional and economic challenges we face. I hope we can continue to support each other as we try to be Leading a Healthy Life.

See you in a few days!



Tuesday, July 14, 2020

My Herbs of 2020

I keep trying to grow herbs. I have them indoors, outdoors, at the lake, in the city and even at work in the Personal Care Home. I love how beautiful and fragrant they are and, potentially, how useful as an ingredient when cooking.  I believe that many herbs have great healing properties and can be very nutritious and good for you, but that is not something I have ever studied. I do know that the act of growing and nurturing the plants is fun and also good for you.  It gives me joy just to play in the soil, handle the plants, look at the lovely flowers and leaves and smell all the different fragrances!

I really would love to have many kinds of herbs growing in the ground and coming back year after year, but I only have a couple. The light is not great or the area doggie free in most of my spaces, so I like to make good use of container planting. This year I have a couple of pots growing on my patio at home and they are so lovely and fragrant! Two of my coworkers are growing indoor herbs at work as a program with the seniors, so it is one of my big topics of the summer. I have herbs everywhere!

The pot below is my mixed one. It has some sage, sweet marjoram, and new to me,  two kinds of licorice plants.  I have seen and tasted wild licorice a few times but I have never grown any.

The next picture is a pot full of different kinds of basil. I had excellent success with basil two years ago so, this time, I thought I would get creative. This pot has Italian Large Leave Basil shown at the front. That is what I have grown before, and it was easy to grow and yummy. The one with the purple flowers is called Cinnamon Basil, and the one with the white flowers is called Spicy Globe Basil. It was flowering when we got it. It would probably do best if we trimmed off the flowers and encouraged leaf growth, but I am just loving the look of it and haven't talked myself into pruning it yet.

The most successful herb for us has been a mint patch that has been located outside our back door for over a decade. At one point, it got really huge, but with time, it has shrunk down and gotten spindly. Trees have grown much taller around it reducing the light and I am sure the soil got depleted. It has been banged around with its location beside the door and even abused a little by our dog who is very fond of sniffing it. This year we cleaned up that area by that side of the house and added sod but we still left a little square for the mint. We worked in some compost and it seems to have perked up to a reasonable size for our use, and big enough to share slips with a few friends. I warn everyone that it can spread like crazy, and you should put a collar or barrier into the ground around it in order to keep it where you want it and out of the rest of your yard.

We keep trying out different herbs at the cottage and we have real issues with rodents and birds eating them and some that we have put in the ground simple have not overwintered well.  I usually have a pot of parsley inside on the window by the kitchen sink and make good use of it and our little raised bed garden has a big patch of chives growing. I love how gorgeous the chives look with their pretty purple flowers and how they provide us with a great ingredient for cooking and salads all summer long. They also act as a good companion plant by acting as a deterrent and keep away some bugs and critters from the raised beds.

I really like telling jokes so here are a few for you.
 ..Not necessarily hilarious ones, but it is still all part of the fun!

A girl told me that she recognized me from the local vegetarian club, but I’d never met herbivore.
I’ve got a device to fetch futuristic herbs. It’s a thyme machine.

I saw a new book about cooking with herbs. It’s about Thyme.
I was going to send back my fish in a herb sauce at a restaurant the other night, but I wasn’t sure if it was the thyme or the plaice. (Hint: Plaice is a kind of flatfish)
I know someone who was habitually late until his doctor recommended sleeping in a herb garden. Sounds odd, I know, but now he wakes up on Thyme.
I used to work with a very wise herb gardener. He was well known for his sage advice.
Thought I’d purchase a tall herb plant but actually turned out to be tiny. No big dill 

I like to put coriander on my blended tomatoes. It’s "soup herb".

I went to a restaurant the other night and asked for something herby. They gave me an old Volkswagen Beetle with no driver.

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