Pepperoni-Mushroom Stromboli

March 20, 2014 at 1:27 pm (Recipes)

This is for Katie Gregg – she is married now, but in my mind, she will always be “Katie Gregg.”  :-)

I got a free book for my Kindle through, The Art of Perfect Bread Baking.  I have made a few of the recipes, including the cinnamon rolls — they are fabulous!! Another day… another blog post…

Have I mentioned lately that I love my Kindle??? :-)

Have I mentioned lately that I love my Kindle??? :-)

It has some wonderful recipes in it.  I perfected this recipe, molding it to work with our preferences.  One of the tricks is to not use too much sauce.  Another trick is to never over-work the dough!!  That’s why I like using my Kitchen Aid – it mixes without over-doing it!!

I am going to be very specific in my instructions, partly to help the young ladies who read this and don’t have much cooking experience.  I also bolded the ingredients in the instructions so you can, at a glance, see what order they go.   I promise you, it is easy!!!  I didn’t intend to blog the recipe so I didn’t take any pictures.  My plan is to, when I make it again, take pictures and then edit this blog post to include the pictures.

I used my Kitchen Aid mixer with the dough hook attached for the dough.  It makes quick work of kneading.  If you don’t have a Kitchen Aid, you will need to knead the dough for about 8 minutes before the first rising.

Pepperoni-Mushroom Stromboli


Kitchen Aid mixer with a dough hook

Pizza stone



1 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast

¼ cup lukewarm water

1 ½ tablespoons olive oil

½ cup cold water

1 2/3 cups unbleached or all-purpose flour plus more for kneading (only a teeny bit more if you are using the Kitchen Aid)

¾ teaspoon salt


8 ounces crimini mushrooms (you can use any type you’d like), sliced

1 tablespoon butter or olive oil

Pizza sauce (I like Classico Fire Roasted Pizza Sauce)

15-20 slices of pepperoni

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Oven will be set at 450-475.  Set a pizza stone in the oven while it preheats


About 1 ½ hours before serving…

  • Prepare cold water… add a few ice cubes to ½ cup cold water
  • Hand whisk 1 ½ teaspoons of yeast into ¼ cup lukewarm water.  Let sit for 10 minutes
  • Re-measure ½ cup cold water, eliminating the ice cubes. Hand whisk in olive oil and cold water
  •  Add ½ cup flour and ¾ teaspoon salt.   Hand whisk until smooth
  • Attach dough hook to Kitchen Aid.
  • With mixer going, add remaining flour, ½ cup at a time, 1 2/3 cups total, until the dough comes together in a rough mass.  You will have to scrape down the sides a few times.
  • At this point, scrape the dough hook off.  This will be the “kneading” time.  Knead at Speed “2” for three minutes. (if you do this by hand, turn dough out on to a floured surface and knead for 8 minutes)
  • Hand form the dough, coating it with a bit of olive oil.
  • Place dough in a bowl and cover it.  Set it in a warm spot for 50 minutes


  • Slice 8 oz. crimini mushrooms
  • To a skillet, add 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil and mushrooms.  Cook until they are softened.
Sauteed mushrooms

Sauteed mushrooms

    • Shred the mozzarella cheese if you didn’t buy pre-shredded

    While the dough finishes rising, make a salad to accompany the Stromboli.

    To finish…

  • Place pizza stone in the oven and Preheat oven to 475 degrees
  • Divide dough into three pieces
This picture was taken before I had perfected this... divide into THREE pieces, not two :-)

This picture was taken before I had perfected this… divide into THREE pieces, not two :-)

  • Roll or pat each piece into an 8×8 square
  • Spread 1 tablespoon of pizza sauce on the square, leaving ½ inch or so around the edges
  • On 1/2 of the square, layer
    • 1/3 cup of mozzarella cheese
    • 5-7 pepperoni slices
    • 1/3 of the sautéed mushrooms
    • 1/3 cup mozzarella cheese
  • Fold dough over and seal the edges well with a fork.  Poke a few holes in the top.

Place fully assembled Stromboli on a floured sheet (or you can use a bit of corn meal to keep the Stromboli from sticking to the pan).

When oven is heated, carefully place the Stromboli on the pizza stone.  If you don’t have a stone, you can pre-heat a cookie sheet.  Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Finished stromboli!!

Finished stromboli!!

That’s it!!  I know it sounds complicated, but it really isn’t!!  You can also use a dough mix to eliminate the rising time.  However… this dough is worth the time.  It is the softest dough I have ever worked with!!  You can also make a pizza using the dough recipe.

There you have it, Katie Gregg.  Let me know what you think!!!

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Solumedrol Treatment and MS Awareness Month

March 18, 2014 at 3:06 pm (Multiple Sclerosis)

I used to blog more regularly, but always wondered if people really wanted to hear about all the bad days I was having, so I got out of the habit.  I miss blogging.   When I write, I can really “think through” the issues I am dealing with and sometimes actually come up with solutions.  :-)

My multiple sclerosis has been galloping along at a breakneck speed.  If I think hard, I will recognize why… First, I have had MS for 24 years, and MS is mostly a progressive disease and sometimes it gallops.  The situations with my Mom and Dad were also stressful last year, beginning in May when Daddy dislocated his ankle and broke both bones in his leg.  Then my Momma had her acute issue in October.  Thanksgiving and Christmas came… all through it, I was hanging on for dear life, spinning plates in the air.  It was inevitable that the proverbial spinning would end in catastrophe.  My body fell apart.  My balance was so bad that I needed a rollator for walking (unless I can hang on to a grocery cart).  My eyesight was both blurry and unfocused – two completely different issues, but when they occur at the same time, bad things happen.  Indescribable fatigue was the norm rather than the exception.   Of course, my trigeminal neuralgia continues to be off the charts painful.  I could no longer ignore the signs and symptoms.  I called my neurologist and scheduled a solumedrol treatment (steroids).

The last time I had solumedrol (1998 or 1999), I was hospitalized for seven days, with five days of IV’s.  This time, a visiting nurse came to my house each afternoon and hooked up the medicine and sat with me while the bottle drained.  I am so happy that I could stay home.  That meant I could use my own bathroom, drink my own coffee, sleep in my own bed.  Amanda has the ability to work from home so she drove up on day four (Thursday).  She willingly and happily did all of the chores, cooked all of the meals and kept me company.  Have I mentioned that I love my daughter??

The treatments were uneventful until Thursday afternoon when I noticed that my throat was closing and I had the feeling that someone was sitting on my chest.  I tried not to panic and my nurse, Linette, talked me through it.  She slowed down the drip and I took two Benedryl.  Linette is the Mom of one of my former students and we spent some wonderful hours getting to know each other and solving life’s problems (isn’t that what all women do when they get together???).

On Friday, I had a different nurse, Katie.  She is Brent’s age, an ICU nurse who works as a visiting nurse part-time.  She was so sweet and I felt safe in her hands.  Again, my throat and chest closed.  She found the epi-pen and had it at the ready just in case.  Fortunately I didn’t need it.

After five days of steroids, my face and belly are puffy and I have a metallic taste in my mouth. I pre-treated with protonics, but my stomach ulcers are protesting.   Nothing tastes good, even coffee!!  I had forgotten how hard it was to get this treatment.  My skin feels dry and leathery.  My hair is straw-like.  I am unable to laser focus (something I excel at) but the nurse told me that is a side-effect.  I just have an “unsettled” feeling.   I have “creepy-crawlies” all over my body – think spiders crawling over you… Yikes!!!!  And my face (TN) has no change at all.  It will be a few weeks before I will know if the treatment helped.

March is MS Awareness Month and the “color” that represents MS is orange.  I am not an orangey girl, but I had to make a few pieces of jewelry to commemorate and honor those (including me) who are fighting so hard.  The first two pieces are made from beads I bought at an auction – they were strung together in a necklace.  I would say the necklace dated from the 1950’s early 1960’s.

I love this bracelet -- I used an elastic cord.

I love this bracelet — I used an elastic cord.


The second bracelet is just a simple design and I used random beads from my (very very big) stash!

Butterflies... :-)

Butterflies… :-)


The third set, the necklace and earrings, is a design I came up with during one of my insomnia nights.  I wanted to (of course) use orange but accent with another color.  The green-blue perfectly sets the orange teardrops.  I LOVE this necklace!!

Green-blue for the accent

Green-blue for the accent

Hand-bent clasp

Hand-bent clasp

I have a watercolor ready to go – orange themed – poppies.  I am going to calligraphy “Be Brave” on the piece.  I want to finish it by the end of the month, but my body isn’t cooperating. I will make no promises.  But it’s going to be beautiful.







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Keys to Success

February 3, 2014 at 2:02 pm (Musings...)

I am slowly working through the clutter that is my art studio.  I have some calligraphy supplies coming (yes, Sue, I used my credit card!) and I want to be ready to work on my art.

I gave this away in 2008 but I want to recreate it on a canvas that I can frame... Calligraphy project #1

I gave this away in 2008 but I want to recreate it on a canvas that I can frame… Calligraphy project #1

I found some hidden treasures.  One is a poem I started when my Grandpa Gay died.  I need to finish it.  That experience was like no other.  These two beautiful pictures had fallen behind a cabinet.  They bring back precious memories.

At the hospital, 12-9-85 -- Amanda and Brent

At the hospital, the day after Brent was born — 12-9-85 — Amanda and Brent and Me


My Momma and my Grammy

I also found a list, “Keys To Success.”  I cannot remember where or when I got it.  I do know that I shared it with my daughter, Amanda, all those years ago.  I am not sure she even remembers it.  I tended to be like a dog on a bone when I wanted to get a point across.  I tried to teach Amanda to live her life from a place of great strength and this list was an excellent tool.

Keys To Success

  • Marry the right person.  This one decision will determine 90% of your happiness.
  • Work at something you enjoy and that’s worthy of your time and talent.
  • Give people more than they expect and do it cheerfully.
  • Become the most positive and enthusiastic person you know.
  • Be forgiving of yourself and others.
  • Be generous.
  • Have a grateful heart.
  • Persistence, persistence, persistence.
  • Discipline yourself to save money on even the most modest salary.
  • Treat everyone you meet like you want to be treated.
  • Commit yourself to constant improvement.
  • Commit yourself to quality.
  • Understand that happiness is not based on possessions, power or prestige, but on relationships with people you love and respect.
  • Be loyal.
  • Be honest.
  • Be a self-starter.
  • Be decisive even if it means you’ll sometimes be wrong.
  • Stop blaming others. Take responsibility for every area of your life.
  • Be bold and courageous.  When you look back on your life, you’ll regret the things you didn’t do more than the ones you did.
  • Take good care of those you love.
  • Don’t do anything that wouldn’t make your Mom proud.

Something to think about!!

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Shopping My Closet

January 28, 2014 at 4:14 pm (Jewelry, Musings..., Shoes)

What does one do when one has trigeminal neuralgia and the wind chill temperatures are -10 to -25??  One keeps her tushy parked in her warm home.

Now, I could have done a lot of things today, like, say, cleaned my art room, but I had to wash my hair and I decided to do something fun. I’d “shop” my closet.  I have clothes from size 6 to 10.  Right now I am an 8.  I like to wear black… and more black.  But, I thought I’d look through my closets and put some outfits together.

Since I am being honest… {{big gulp}} this is a “before shot.” In my defense, my face has moisturizer slathered all over it — one of my habits to keep my skin looking young.  You can see the wrinkles and circles under my eyes but I’ve earned all of them in my 54 years of living!!

Yikes!!!  Warts and all :-)

Yikes!!! Warts and all :-)

Thirty minutes later…

It takes a village, people!!!

It takes a village, people!!!

The jeans I am wearing in most of these pictures are Michael Kors black straight jeans that I got at TJ Maxx.  I really love the way they fit.

Outfit #1:  Blouse-Iman (HSN), Jeans-Michael Kors, Pumps-Nine West,  Belt-Amazon. I made the jewelry

Outfit #1

Outfit #1

Outfit #2 — I untucked the blouse and added a Gap jacket (given to me) and my Big Buddha purse I got for $15 at TJ’s. I also added a longer necklace I made.

Outfit #2

Outfit #2

Outfit #3:  Sweater-Denim & Co (QVC), Belt-Amazon, Necklace-vintage

Outfit #3

Outfit #3

Outfit #4  Shawl Sweater-gift from Amanda,  Belt-TJ Maxx. Shoes-Sole Society, Necklace-gift from my sister, Heather, Earrings-made by me :-)

Outfit #4

Outfit #4

Outfit #5:  Blouse-Ann Taylor (Goodwill for $4.99), Shoes-Big Buddha

Outfit #5

Outfit #5

Outfit #6:  Dress-Loft, Shoes-Franco Sarto, Belt-Amazon

I just added my vintage curly mink coat for fun

I just added my vintage curly mink coat for fun

Outfit #6

Outfit #6

 Jacket-made by me, Scarf-Isaac Mizrahi(QVC), Shoes-Jessica Simpson — Outfit #7

Outfit #7

Outfit #7

THIS is how I usually dress — all in black – Danskin tights, Gap jacket (given to me) and a black cami, my UGGs,  with a beanie,  sunglasses and no make-up but lipstick :-D


I LOVE MY BOOTS — UGGs — a gift from my darling DannyO.  He gets an “A.”

Well, the next time I go out, I will have a few outfits already put together.  Not a bad project for a cold Tuesday afternoon!!

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A Snowy Saturday Afternoon Contemplation

January 18, 2014 at 3:06 pm (Multiple Sclerosis, Social Anxiety)

I am sitting on the couch, bundled in a blanket, just reading, studying and contemplating…  I seem to be doing a lot of contemplating.  As my MS and TN progress, I am constantly adjusting to a “new normal.”  What worked a month ago sometimes is completely unfathomable today.

My little snack... an orange and three Hershey's kisses :-)

My little snack… an orange and three Hershey’s kisses :-)

I had a good week.  I exercised three times using my Pilates Power Gym.  That sort of exercise seems to bother my vertigo the least.  I think it is because my head is either completely still or completely supported in 95% of the exercises…

I also went to a concert at the Central Cambria High School, which was a victory for me overcoming my social anxiety issues.  It was held on Thursday.  On Monday I started to plan, what I would wear, what time I would leave, etc.  On Wednesday, I announced that I was “going” on the event’s Facebook page.  I dressed up. I wore my contacts and my new pink bracelet.  I snatched up the last handicapped parking space (there was a person who was going to pull into it right after me… normally I would acquiesce, but I really needed it on Thursday!!)  I walked in, grabbed a program and proceeded to the center section, right side.  I sat in an aisle seat and, as people were filling up the seats around me, promptly started panicking.  I grabbed my purse and coat and went to the far left section, close to the front.  {{Sigh}}  I could feel the stress leave my body!!  I thoroughly enjoyed hearing Mariah, Josh and AJ and Devon sing and play.  I helped these kids along their musical journey when I worked as an accompanist at the high school.  I call them kids, but they are college seniors!!!  They spotted me because I am a very active listener… I can’t sit perfectly still when I listen to music.

My view from the couch...

My view from the couch…

Little victories… they may seem unimportant, but they can add up to real progress!!

Amanda shared a verse with me last night.  I promptly forgot the exact reference (thank you MS and menopause brain fog!) so I emailed her requesting the specific reference.

“(Abraham) grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able to perform.”  Romans 4:20b, 21.  In Matthew 9:8, after Jesus healed a man of his paralysis, this was the crowd’s reaction. “But when the crowds saw this, they were AWESTRUCK, and glorified God.”

His promises to me should overwhelm me, because of his faithfulness to me.  These promises aren’t the “prosperity” claims but promises that the Lord’s Grace and Strength are sufficient for me no matter what I am facing, and His Mercies are new each morning.

A Snowy Saturday Afternoon-5

I had an epiphany this afternoon as I was sitting looking at some painting and sewing books.  I always wait until summertime to sew something summery and paint something summery.  In the same manner, I wait until Fall to sew something for winter or paint something with a Christmas theme. Inevitably, I run out of steam and neglect to finish the project in time for the season. I have decided to turn over a new leaf!!!  I am going to sew two summer garments through February and paint two “summer themed” pictures.  I think I want to do one study with a David Jansen DVD in the Peter Ompir style.  The other piece will probably be a Millie piece. Then, in the summer, I will sew a few winter garments and paint a few Christmas pieces!!  See, this old brain still works sometimes!!

I am enjoying my iPod music as I write this blog.  I have such a variety of music playing.  In the time it has taken me to write this, I’ve heard songs by “Judith Hill,” “Little Big Town,” “Guns ‘N Roses,” “Rachelle Ferrell,” “Earth, Wind and Fire,” “Israel Houghton,” and “Florence and The Machine.”  My Dad would be proud of my song list.  He encouraged us to listen to a variety of music styles (no bad words, though).

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A Blog About Simple Blessings

January 12, 2014 at 4:21 pm (Multiple Sclerosis, Musings..., Trigeminal Neuralgia)

I am sitting here with darling DannyO.  It is 12:48 on a Sunday afternoon. There are two football playoff games on today.  Yesterday I  “undecorated” our Christmas tree.  It took all day – as long as it took to decorate it!!  I knew I would pay for the long day, and I am paying… in spades!!  My trigeminal neuralgia has paid a visit and my back is spasming.  This is not a blog about my aches and pains, but a blog about blessing.

Our tree -- in the day and at night

Our tree — in the day and at night

Our tree... in the day and at night

Our tree… in the day and at night

My "undecorated" living room -- It feels decluttered!!

My “undecorated” living room — It feels decluttered!!

I read some fabulous blogs – their authors seem to have boundless energy and creativity. These women seem to have tapped into a force I am not aware of, because how else could they create such perfection in an imperfect world without magic!!!  My days are mostly filled with figuring out how to make supper, do laundry, sweep the floor without falling flat on my face, either from vertigo or uncooperative legs.  My brain is filled with so many ideas, but my body betrays me.

One way I keep going is by reminding myself of Scripture… I always seem to recall the perfect verse for my situation (thanks to many years of Bible School, SMM, church camp, at which verse memorization was emphasized).  One of my new friends on a Facebook page for fierce women who battle MS, Debbie, wrote this wonderful reminder.

A Blog About Simple Blessings-6

The part of these verses that truly are the reason I get out of bed every day is the part of this Scripture that promises, “They are NEW every morning.” His compassions are new every morning.  HE knows the number of hairs on my head.  He is interested in me.  “Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you.” 1 Peter 5:7.  I memorized it as a child in the King James Version and I like it best this way.

This morning I read a Facebook post from a man who is a missionary to the Central African Republic.  He said, “SAD SAD news…..The Boulata Grace Brethren Church in Bangui is burning as I write this. There are between 1000 and 1500 members in this church. There have been a number of Mosques burned in the past weeks and now there is revenge being applied. Dear God please protect your people, we pray this in Jesus Name.”

I am safe in my house today.  I am blessed.

The bank called at 9:00 a.m., stating that one of our bank accounts had a transaction that they were questioning – giving us the opportunity to double-check it.  We are blessed.

I was able to make a wonderful pot of coffee and ate exactly what I wanted for breakfast.  I am blessed.

Our house is warm thanks to the efforts of my darling DannyO. Wood makes the warmest heat.  We are blessed.

I am able to focus my eyes and move my fingers to write this blog.  I am blessed.

I have a heated rice bag lying on the right side of my face, helping me to fight the TN pain.  I am blessed.

I was able to afford the pain medicine (the big guns as I like to call them) that I need to help fight my TN pain.  I am blessed.

The water in my glass is cold (thanks to electricity) and sweet tasting (thanks to a Brita water filter).  I am blessed.

The man who has loved me for 34 years is sitting beside me.  We have laughed and cried this morning (we watched the movie Marley And Me). I am blessed.

I made the prettiest pink bracelet yesterday — Swarovski crystals and pink and everything!!  I am blessed.

A Blog About Simple Blessings-4

It’s the simple blessings in life that makes life really worth living.

I AM INDEED BLESSED.  How about you???

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Six Realistic Goals for 2014

January 5, 2014 at 3:15 pm (Musings...)

I have already explained in many blog posts that I do not make New Year’s resolutions.  Doing so creates such stress in my crazy brain.  Besides, who really actually completes resolutions??

However, I was (once again) inspired by my young friend, Tab, as she blogged about her goals for 2014.  I decided to make some resolutions goals for 2014.  They are very realistic and, with just a little effort, I will successfully complete these goals.  Here is my list (explanations to follow).

  1.  Incorporate three hours of exercise into each week and continue my nearly vegetarian diet.
  2. Work through The One Year Book of Hope by Nancy Guthrie.
  3. De-clutter our home.
  4. Complete one piece each month… one sewn piece, one jewelry piece and one painting
  5. Continue to work through my social anxiety…
  6. Have coffee with Tab one time in 2014  :-)

The first goal is physical:  Incorporate three hours of exercise into each week and continue my nearly vegetarian diet.  Notice I didn’t say “lose 10-12 pounds!” I used to exercise, lift weights, walk, water aerobics, cross-country ski, yoga, something, anything, at least three times a week.  I had a routine and was in great shape as I continued to battle MS.  But I was derailed when I developed trigeminal neuralgia.  Any type of hard exercise began to trigger TN pain.  Since 2009 it has been nearly impossible to exercise because I know that pain will follow.  I just stopped doing it.  Fast forward to January 2014; I am in the worse shape of my life.  I know how to exercise.  I have an elliptical, a Pilate’s band system, free weights, and yoga DVDs.  What I must do is consistently put one foot in front of the other and just do it, no matter how I feel.  I can work around my physical limitations, but I must power through the pain – the most difficult thing to do!!!  Three hours seems reasonable – it can be 30 minutes 6 times or one hour three times each week… but I must or I will soon lose all of my muscle tone (it’s almost gone right now!!!).

I will also continue to eat nearly a vegetarian diet.  I must admit that through Thanksgiving to Christmas I fell off the wagon and pretty much ate everything in sight – my body responded by gaining five pounds!!  I will also incorporate smoothies with flax seed as one meal for each day.  Again, I know what to do.  It is just a matter of doing it!!

six realistic goals for 2014

The second goal is spiritual:  Work through The One Year Book of Hope by Nancy Guthrie.  I am consistent when it comes to Bible reading and prayer.  I pray constantly through the day (called Practicing the Presence of God) and have devotions most every day of the week.  However, this book was recommended to me and I started it but never finished it.  My spirit needs renewed and since I am still not attending church on a regular basis, I need to have a “series” of sermons.  I will share with you as the Lord speaks to me this year.

One of my favorite pair of shoes :-D

One of my favorite pair of shoes :-D

The third goal is environmental:  De-clutter our home (again). In 2000, when Amanda went to college, I de-cluttered our home.  It took almost six months, mostly because there was 20 years of accumulated “stuff.”  We have never really moved as we lived in a trailer on our property until we built our home… we moved 30 yards!!!  Now, 14 years later, I am starting to feel “brain clutter” because of all the accumulated “stuff.”  I don’t have a plan for this because much depends on how I feel, but I plan to take one room, one closet, one drawer at a time.  I will be brutal until I am surrounded by only things that make me happy… except for my shoes!!!  I can’t get rid of my shoes!!!

A jacket I made several years ago.

A jacket I made several years ago.

The fourth goal is creative:  Complete one piece each month… one sewn piece, one jewelry piece and one painting.  I need to create!! I also need a plan (the OCD in me).  I have lots of fabric, lots of patterns and a wonderful sewing machine and an overlock machine.  I am going to teach myself how to use the overlock machine and sew one article of clothing or accessory each month.

SABIKA Jewelry

SABIKA Jewelry

I have been admiring the jewelry by Sabika.  However, it is cost prohibitive and I know I can make it myself.  Perhaps if I get good at it, I will sell some pieces.

"Bonnie's Necklace"  I created this for a lady, using her grandmother's, mother's and aunt's jewelry.

“Bonnie’s Necklace” I created this for a lady, using her grandmother’s, mother’s and aunt’s jewelry.

I also want to develop “Millie” some more.  I’ve got lots of  ideas!  My daughter gave me a gift subscription to “Cloth-Paper-Scissors” magazine (admittedly I gave her the very strong hint), a mixed media magazine, which has so many cutting edge ideas.

"Psalm 139"

“Psalm 139″

A table I painted several years ago.

A table I painted several years ago.

I also want to paint some traditional pieces – I have some pieces prepped, all ready to go!!

Six realistic goals for 2014-3

The fifth goal is self-care:  Continue to work through my social anxiety.  I won’t go into detail on this one. Suffice it to say, I need to get back to church and I need to be less afraid as I journey to see my children and accomplish the ordinary tasks of each day. The ordinary becomes nearly impossible when I am having a panic attack.

Six realistic goals for 2014-4

The sixth goal is social, even though it is a teeny tiny goal… Have coffee with Tab one time in 2014.  She inspires me with her fearlessness and I just want to sit and laugh with her.

There you have it… six resolutions goals that I have memorialized on my blog.  Yikes!!!  I’d better get moving!!!

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Crawling Back (Editing As I Go)

December 17, 2013 at 12:04 pm (Multiple Sclerosis, Trigeminal Neuralgia)

I have often talked about getting things done with a chronic illiness…  editing is an important vocabulary word.  Nothing can be written in stone — I usually have to adjust my wonderful plan :-)

Today is Tuesday.  I’ve lost three days and am in danger of losing a fourth.  Beginning on Friday night, I noticed that my nose felt like an ice cube (never a good sign).  Then about 2:00 a.m. Saturday morning, I awoke to pain, severe enough to, well, wake me up.  I worked to relax and eventually fell back asleep.  Remember, last week I spent the days opening boxes and wrapping presents.  I didn’t think I had overdone it but I must have.

Saturday morning I woke up in pain, stood to go and get some pain medicine and promptly threw up.  Not good.  My MS has effected my central nerve, which, in turn, causes vertigo.  Throwing up means I cannot keep pain meds down.  I spent Saturday, sitting on the recliner with a heated rice bag wrapped around my face.  If I was very careful, I could avoid throwing up.  It seems I was never careful enough!!

On Sunday, I couldn’t even get out of bed.  I could have called my neurologist, but they would have told me to go to the emergency room.  The ER closest to my house uses a neurologist I reported to the hospital, so that place was out of contention.  Darling DannyO spent the day asking me if I needed anything.  Every six hours I took vertigo AND pain medicine and within ½ hour, threw up.

Moving to Monday…  I had a feeling this would be the last really bad day.  The pain didn’t get any worse (although I’m not sure it could have gotten worse).  I made myself get up and make tea and ate cereal and applesauce.  DannyO had to forage for food.  By 8:00 p.m., the pain was just a whisper.  I did a whole lot of “self-talk.”  “Come on Mel, you can do this!!”

On Monday, I pushed through and made three batches of sweet dough for my nut roll and apricot roll.  I screwed up two of the batches (I blame it on the meds!!).  One batch I added twice the sugar, and another batch I didn’t add sugar… don’t ask!!!  I am converting the dough without sugar into a loaf of bread.  Of course, I love sweets so I decided that the dough with double the sugar couldn’t be all bad.  All I need to do is to make one more batch of sweet dough and I will have enough for 12 rolls!!!  I planned to make the filling Tuesday and bake the rolls on Wednesday.

Today (Tuesday), I woke up and got out of bed… and promptly threw up!!  It seems the vertigo is still with me.  So… editing as I go… I will make the filling Wednesday and bake the rolls on Thursday.  I am not sure when I am going to decorate the tree (which isn’t even up yet)…

Oh well…

Here’s our 2013 Christmas Card.

From Our House to Your House

From Our House to Your House

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It’s A Wrapping Party!! (And music party)

December 13, 2013 at 1:36 pm (Musings..., Time Management, Trigeminal Neuralgia)

I am sitting in my sunny living room, eating a snack (don’t judge… peanut butter-filled pretzels and three Hershey kisses) and enjoying some iPod music, which is set to “shuffle.” Someday, I promise you Amanda, I will write a blog about my variety of music :-)  Right now the song playing is “Be Ye Glad” by Glad.  I had to take pain meds for my TN.  As careful as I am, going out into the extreme cold that is western PA right now often triggers the pesky trigeminal neuralgia.


BEFORE – boxes and boxes piled on and around Amanda’s bed

As I wrote in my Surviving The Holidays post, I gave myself three days this week to wrap presents.  I ordered 95% of the gifts on line so they have been coming in bunches since December 2.  I was unable to work on the project on Tuesday, but I started Wednesday morning at 10:00 a.m. and by 3:00 p.m. all of the boxes were opened, cataloged, and the presents were wrapped. (“My Funny Valentine” by Rachelle Ferrell) :-)


DURING (pay no attention to the unmade bed or the cluttered art room — the art room clutter must wait until after Christmas)

What a Mess I Made!!

What a Mess I Made!! (You can see my unfinished landscape on the easel in the background)

After everything was wrapped, I had to deconstruct the boxes, filler, etc.  (“Another Day(Gotta Get Up)” by Jill Scott)

My very large pile of presents.

My very large pile of presents.

A close-up (without spoiling anyone's surprise)

A close-up (without spoiling anyone’s surprise)

I had 20 boxes to recycle.  And because I have OCD and when I am finished, I want to be completely finished, I took all of the boxes, sans my identifying information, to the recycling bins three miles from my house, wearing my pajamas and forgetting my driver’s license and hoping I wasn’t pulled over or in an accident.  (“Love Is You” by Chrisette Michele)

Now, because I have always been honest with my blog readers, I will tell you that two of the boxes contained presents for me, myself and I.  I have been getting Amanda a Snowbaby for the past few years and, while I won’t spoil the surprise for Amanda, I found this sweet baby angel while I was searching for Amanda’s gift.  (“Sargent Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band” by The Beatles) She is called “Angel of Joy” and I thought she was perfect for… me!!

"Angel of Joy" (really, that's what she is called)

“Angel of Joy” (really, that’s what she is called) all for me.

Of course, I got myself a great pair of shoes because… oh maybe… because it was Tuesday!!  They are a beautiful pair of Jessica Simpson flats, black with a gunmetal-colored bow.

The bow is beautiful!

The bow is beautiful!

I love the toe of this shoe!!

I love the toe of this shoe!!

I am waiting for a few more boxes in the mail and will wrap them as I receive them, but for all intents and purposes, wrapping is complete and the packages I needed to send to England for our nieces, Catie and Nikki are in the mail!!!   (“Wonderful” by India.Arie)

Yay me!!

As I did the final edit of this post, the song playing on my iPod was “Hosanna” by my own darling daughter, Amanda.  Since there isn’t a YouTube version of this song, I am linking you to a video I posted (not great quality) of Amanda singing and my son, Brent, playing the guiter… (“Paris(ooh la la)”)

That’s a wrap!!!







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Social Anxiety and Me

December 10, 2013 at 5:39 pm (Social Anxiety)

I have wanted to write about this for a while but didn’t know how to put it into words.  It’s taken me over a year to even begin to work through it.   

Me and Sue -- about the age when we started singing with our Daddy

Me and Sue — about the age when we started singing with our Daddy


I have spent my life on a stage, in front of people.  I sang with my sister, Sue and my Daddy when I was three years old.  We had a little trio.  I competed vocally and won through the Grace Brethren Church “Nurturing Abilities for Christ” more than once.   

Dad, Sue, Me, Mom and Deb.  We were in 7th and 8th grade

Dad, Sue, Me, Mom and Deb. We were in 7th and 8th grade

I was in two musicals in high school, sang in choirs in college, and played Lucy in “You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown.”

Playing the piano at Central Cambria High School in 1977

Playing the piano at Central Cambria High School in 1977



Me Kathy McCarthy, Mike Yocum and Mike Boze in You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown

Me Kathy McCarthy, Mike Yocum and Mike Boze in You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown

A Mid'Summer's Night's Dream (I played Puck)

A Mid’Summer’s Night’s Dream (I played Puck)

I sang in church, sang with my family, and we sang with big name gospel groups.  I also played the piano.  In 1997, I began to accompany the Central Cambria School District choirs.  We started to attend Emmanuel Baptist Church and I began to use my gift of music there.  It is a huge church and standing in front of the congregation was second nature to me.  

Singing at Youth Conference - 1976

Singing at Youth Conference – 1976

Singing at my niece's wedding

Singing at my niece’s wedding

Teaching yoga to MS Society members

Teaching yoga to MS Society members

I think this began about five years ago, when I developed Blepharospasm, a big word for eye twitches.  They got so bad that I wore sunglasses so people wouldn’t stare.  I continued to minister with the music team at EBC.  I mostly rehearsed the choir and played keyboards.  I noticed that I would feel anxious as I left the house, but I soldiered through and completed my obligations.    I began to see a new neurologist, Dr. Clark (whom I love) and my insurance company approved Botox injections every three months for the blepharospasm.  I wish he’d hit my wrinkles :-) but he gives me five injections around my eyes.  This treatment is effective for me.  I have been receiving this treatment for two years. 

I played the piano for my daughter in her Jazz concert

I played the piano for my daughter in her Jazz concert


I had an MS setback and my TN flared up in April 2012.  May 2012 was the last time I stood on a stage. 

For six months before my last ministry weekend, getting there was another issue.  I developed full-blown panic attacks.  They would begin the day before I knew I had to go to church to rehearse or perform.  I would talk myself through one attack, think it had subsided and then another one would occur.  Another complication was that if I had a TN attack, I couldn’t medicate if I was driving.  Often I’d go to choir in tremendous pain because I was waiting to take my pain meds until I got home.  Because the choir doesn’t sing in the summer, I was able to take the break without really inconveniencing Kristin, the choir director.  My replacement was also named Melody (without the “e”)!! 

Summertime passed.  I went to church if Danny would go but when he was on call or busy and couldn’t go, I’d stay home.  I tried to go, I really did!! I would be fully dressed for Saturday evening service, but I’d have a panic attack.  The last time I attempted to go alone, I turned my vehicle around on 219 (illegally because I used an emergency turn around and you know how I am a rule follower!!).  I haven’t been to church since October 2012. 

Going to Walmart caused me to panic.  I began to go late at night or early in the morning so there wouldn’t be many people.  If I had to go in the middle of the day, I’d take my iPod and listen to music, praying I wouldn’t meet anyone I knew.  If you have seen me in Walmart and feel that I have ignored you, I am sorry.  I probably did ignore you and prayed you wouldn’t see me. 

I began to realize this summer that I really had a problem.  If I could stay at home for seven days in a row, I considered it to be a good week.  I began to research “social anxiety” and “panic attacks.”  There is a lot of information and as I read, I’d find myself nodding in agreement… “this is me.”  “Yeah, this is me too.”  I began to talk to my best friend, Juel, who is a great listener and trained in these areas.  I finally opened up to my family doctor, Dr. Mike.  Because of all of the medicines I am on, I cannot take an anti-depressant.  Quite honestly, in order for me to get a prescription for this, I need to see a psychiatrist.  I don’t want to do that.  I see so many doctors already.  Dr. Mike and I have come up with a plan.  I am going to take one Elavil in the morning and see if that helps.  I am going to begin to see a counselor just to talk about it.

I have been happily married for 33 ½ years to darling DannyO.  He is a very social person.  We have two couples, Dave and Shelly and Mark and Debbie, who we love doing things with.  If Dan gives me enough notice, I can gather myself together and go.  If it is a last-minute plan, I begin to pray in desperation, because I know I NEED to go for Danny AND for me.  Sometimes I will tell Danny that I am not putting any make-up on and will wear my glasses, but I will go.  He doesn’t care.  He loves me!!

I am so blessed that my EBC family hasn’t forsaken me.  My friend Jenn keeps in close touch with me and prays with me and for me on a regular basis.  Debbie, EBC’s visitation coordinator has corresponded with me.  I get regular cards from Melanie and Laurie.  Keith is my FB EBC encourager.  I keep telling them that I will be back.  I will be back.

I am working to “behave” my way through this.  For instance, I knew on Sunday that today, Tuesday would be my errand day.  I began to prepare for it on Sunday.  When I begin to panic, I talk myself through it… “You have a car that goes good in the snow.” “You will be out of the house for three hours, tops.” “You will shower Monday night so you don’t use all your energy before you go.” Showering and washing my hair saps my energy.  “You will wear your black leggings, your Susan Graver sweatshirt tunic, black boots, watch, ‘Joy’ bracelet, and black hat and pink scarf.”  I make a specific list of the order of my day.

  • Recycle plastic and papers
  • Donnie’s
  • Bank
  • Walmart (with another specific list)
  • Check on Mom and Dad
  • Put groceries away

I took a big step towards healing in October.  I hadn’t seen my son, Brent since January and I missed him so much.  I booked a plane ticket to Ft. Lauderdale and actually flew down and had a magnificent time in the sunshine. 

I don’t know if I will ever be able to stand on stage again.  My voice continues to deteriorate because of MS. I don’t even know if I CAN sing well enough for people to hear. I dream of singing.  I don’t know if I could take any criticism, which I would open myself up to if I performed again.  As I work through this complicated issue, I had my piano tuned and pulled out my vocal warm-up CD’s.  I sing in the privacy of my home and know the Lord hears and loves my praise. 

I am now working through another holiday season.  As I shared in my last blog post, this time of year has its own challenges simply because I have MS and TN.  Add social anxiety and the situation can become pretty hopeless.  I am working through it day by day, prayer by prayer, breath by breath.  I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  I am!!  I really am!!

 I am aware that some will consider me weak and silly for having social anxiety.  Some would say, “Just do it, don’t think about it.”  If it were that easy… if it were that easy…

I was feeling brave today so, here it is… 











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