Thursday, March 30, 2017

How to Keep a Big Bag of Spinach from Going Bad

I bought a bag of spinach at the grocery store when I was doing my weekly shopping.  I wish I could go shopping every two weeks, or even once a month - oh how nice that would be!  But we eat enough food around here that I would need a second refrigerator just for the produce.  And produce doesn't stay lovely and perky for that long, anyway.

I brought home my little bag of spinach and tucked it in my produce drawer - the one on the left side.  The right side produce drawer is my husband's and I keep it stocked with the kinds of things he uses.  The spinach is for my green smoothies.  Later that day, as I was making my usual green smoothie - two carrots, four cups of spinach, a frozen banana or two, an apple or orange, and a handful of whatever fruit I could find in the freezer - David came home from track practice.  He said his track coach wants them to get more vitamins and minerals in their diet.  As we talked, I realized that he could get everything his coach wanted in a daily green smoothie!  Nature for the win!

So my little grocery store bag of spinach is being depleted at an alarming rate.  I gave in and went to Costco for a big bag of spinach.  No, it's not a bag - it's more like a pillow.  A great green pillow o' greens.  Good stuff.  The challenge was to find a place for it in the refrigerator.  We moved leftover pasta and cartons of eggs so we could squish it in next to the stack of tortillas for Sunday tacos. 

I've purchased big spinach pillows before, and I generally use about 3/4 of it before it turns to mush.  There's nothing like reaching into the bag and getting a handful of green slime.  Blech.  So how do you keep from wasting perfectly good spinach?  Here's our family's top five tips:

5) Dry it.  I've noticed that there is a lot of moisture in the bag - to keep it fresh, I suppose.  I lay a towel out on the counter and dump all the spinach on it.  Pat dry, and return to the bag.

4) Shake it.  Every time you use some spinach, give the bag a shake.  This prevents the leaves at the bottom of the bag from getting squashed and keeps everything mixed up well.

3) Freeze it.  You can throw a bag of spinach into the freezer!  The leaves freeze well, almost as if they were individually flash-frozen.  When you are ready for a smoothie, just open the bag and pull out what you want.  Don't try this if you like your spinach in salads - the thawing does not turn out well.

2) Compost it.  Waiting until the spinach is at green-slime stage saves a step for your compost bin.

1) Eat it.  This is our family go-to.  We just eat it before it goes bad.  Works like a charm every time!

Happy smoothies!  And strawberry spinach salad, and spanakopita, and spinach dip, and spinach soup, and spinach quiche... I'd better go back to Costco.  I might have to buy another fridge while I am there.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Women's Conference

We went to General Women's Conference, Angel and I.  We have a church-wide conference twice a year, with a session just for the women a week before.  They used to have a special session just for the girls in the spring, with the rest of the women in the fall, but now they have combined the two.  Women of any age, and girls age 8 and over can attend.  We went to our local church building and watched the conference live.

Angel is always delighted to have "girls time" together, and wanted to bring a notebook just like Mom.  She took notes for the first few minutes, then just wanted to snuggle into my arm.  I'll take that!

My favorite talk was given by Linda Burton, president of the Relief Society.

"The New Testament includes accounts of [certain] women, named and unnamed, who exercised faith in Jesus Christ [and in His Atonement], learned and lived His teachings, and testified of His ministry, miracles, and majesty. These women became exemplary disciples and important witnesses in the work of salvation.
I have read and passed over the seemingly unremarkable expression "certain women" numerous times before, but recently as I pondered more carefully, those words seemed to jump off the page. Consider these synonyms of one meaning of the word certain as connected to faithful, certain women: "convinced," "positive," "confident," "firm," "definite," "assured," and "dependable." 
As I pondered those powerful descriptors, I remembered two of those New Testament certain women who bore positive, confident, firm, assured testimonies of the Savior. Though they, like us, were imperfect women, their witness is inspiring."
The whole meeting was inspiring.  I am glad to be a women, and to remember the strength that I have.  This life can be so happy!

They served ice cream afterwards, so Angel was especially happy she came.  We got to visit with many other wonderful women - we have such good, supportive neighbors!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Dementia Caregivers Conference

This is where I am today - studying crazy.  I know, I know, one cannot go where one already is and all that.  I often feel like I am the one who is losing my marbles, but whatever my personal sanity is, this fact remains: I am a full-time caregiver of a man with dementia.

My sweet dad has Parkinson's Disease.  He also has Lewy Body Dementia.  They are really two sides of the same coin, since when the body runs low on dopamine, the neurotransmitter that helps brain cells relay messages, it will affect both the body's ability to move (Parkinson's Disease), and the brain's ability to function (Lewy Body Dementia).  They don't always go together, but usually.  50 to 80% of Parkinson's patients will eventually get some dementia.  70% of Lewy Body patients develop some movement difficulties.  I learn as much about it all as I can.

Much of the conference was geared specifically towards Alzheimer's Disease, because it accounts for 60 to 80% of dementia.  Lewy Body Dementia is the second leading cause of degenerative dementia, but it's a distant second.  It was nice to hear the caregiver presentations, and to see so many of the people at my table nodding their head in understanding of the difficult parts.  It is wonderfully validating to be around other people who know how difficult it is to be a caregiver.  It's nice to talk with folks who just.. get it.  You can only do so much explaining, or outlining lists of needed tasks, or trying to describe what the burden feels like.  Unless you are in the trenches all day long, you just can't really understand like someone who is.

I loved it.  I liked the camaraderie, the information, the support, the resources, and the fruit buffet.  Yay for fruit!  I wish they had more conferences, and I would go to them all.  Trent is always so supportive and he worked from home, keeping an eye on my dad, so I could go.  I need to process all the information I got, and decipher all my notes, and see what I can start implementing.  There are always ways we can improve.

Now, back to the trenches.

For more information: Lewy Body Dementia Association and National Parkinson's Foundation

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Hashimotos in the Park

Sounds like we're having an Oriental picnic, no?  The kids were begging to play at the park, but the weather, indecisive about whether to be winter or spring, has been leaning towards winter.  Finally, we had a clear day and I figured I could sit as well at the park as at home.  Away we went.

I make this out to seem like a big deal, but it's really not.  The park is nice and safe and just up the street from our house so it's quite easy to get to.  I've just been... so... tired... lately.  Any exertion is a big deal to me.  But what mother won't ever let her kids go to the park?  I'm sure I'm not THAT mom.  Even though I want to be.

So up the street we traipsed.  Twins, girl, cute husband, maybe an older boy or two, balls and plastic bats, sturdy shoes and warm jackets.  And me with a giant quilt coming slowly behind.  I thought I'd spread the blanket out in the grass and sit on it to watch the kids play.  The wind turned out to be windier at the park than at our house, so I sat at a picnic table, wrapped up in the blanket, trying to keep all the body parts tucked in.  I felt like an old lady burrito.

It was nice to watch them play - mostly.  And it was nice to be outside - mostly.  They laughed and played on the swings.  They organized some kind of hot lava monster game on the playground.  They played wiffleball with the fat plastic bat.  Georgie spun and spun in circles until he fell to the ground, laughing and dizzy.  As he waited for the world to stop spinning, he noticed how fast the clouds were racing across the sky.  He wanted me to see, so I lumped over and rolled on the grass beside him.  The clouds really were magnificent.  Big and fluffy, with sparkling light tops and dark bottoms heavy with rain.  The wind blew them into piles and wisps all across the sky.  I was done moving, so I laid there and watched.  

It's not how I had envisioned going to the park.  It's not how I envisioned playing with my kids.  But for right now, while my body deals with this latest Hashimoto's flare, it's just right for me.