Friday, December 21, 2012

Oh, What A Year Can Teach You

I have been gone for far too long.

But I just couldn't be here for awhile.

2012 has been a tough year.  Not a bad year.  Just a tough year.

I've been struggling with illness for well over a year, really over two years.  My body ached and my spirit was tired.  I had to take a break from so many things.  This blog was one of them.  My physical limitations kept me from exploring the outside world, from creating simple recipes and cooking elaborate desserts, from doing so many things that once fueled this blog.

I opened a store in August, and the majority of my creative ventures and time have gone into the tiny space called Blue Kite.  I've been crafting as a job, and that's been completely wonderful.  But it left no time to craft for the blog.

But as tough as 2012 as been, it's been a year of blessings.

I'm slowly getting healthier and regaining the ability to be more mobile.  I'm not near where I was before, but I have faith that in time I will be.  I just know it.

And Blue Kite has allowed me to start healing physically and emotionally.

2013 will be an even better year.  I know people always hope for the New Year to be better, but I know in my heart of hearts that it will be a great year.  I have so many dreams for the store in the coming year.  And I have dreams of once again discovering the outside world with Colin.  And as a result, the blog should be getting back to normal :).

So please excuse the hiatus I've been on, and get ready for the New Year.  It's gonna be a good one.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Friday, September 28, 2012

Creamy Potato Salad

I love a good potato salad.  And I do mean loooooove.

But I hate a bad potato salad.  Bleh.

To me a really good potato salad is a little creamy, a little chunky, and a bit ranch-y.

There are two potato salads that are over the moon.  One is at Whole Hog Cafe (a bbq restaurant), and the other is red skin potato salad at Walmart (can you believe it?).

Colin and I are trying to cook more and eat really fresh.  We went to the grocery store this week and bought a ton of veggies and fresh meat.  We bought so much that it's forcing us to cook; otherwise we'll have to throw out a lot of food in a week or so, and that's always sad.  So, cook it is!

Last night Colin cooked pork loins and made a salad we tried in California.  The salad was at the LAX airport (their airport food is much different than most airports I've been in!).  It was arugula, blue cheese, balsamic vinegar dressing, and fresh figs.  By the way, fresh figs are amazing!  I just discovered how much I love them when they were all over California!  Maybe when the weather gets a bit cooler, I'll be able to find them in our Arkansas grocery store.  We had to substitute the recipe with dried figs (not the same, but still worked).

Just a quick photo I snapped with my phone before diving in!

So, what was I to make to contribute to the meal?  We had a few bags of different types of potatoes in the pantry.  On more than one occasion I've had to throw soft and moldy potatoes into the compost pile, because I would fix something out of a box before I used the potatoes I had.  And again, that makes me sad.  Potato salad was born!

I'm sorry that the recipe doesn't have exact measurements.  I didn't make it with the blog in mind.  It wasn't until we were sitting down eating that Colin looked at me and said, "You have to put this on your blog!"

I chopped and boiled about 10 small red skin potatoes.  LEAVE THE SKIN ON!  Do you hear me?  Do it.  It adds texture and color, and the skin holds the majority of the nutrition.

Once the potatoes were soft enough to eat but still firm, I put them in a colander and let them sit a minute to cool down.  Don't rinse them.  That will shock them and stop the cooking process, and you want them to be warm to help melt the ingredients together.

Dump the potatoes into a bowl and add your ingredients in this order (stirring after each):
-3 tbsp of butter/margarine
-6-7 ounces of low-fat sour cream
-ranch dressing to taste
-salt and cayenne pepper to taste
-shredded cheddar cheese (I didn't measure...just add to your heart's content)
-fresh chopped green onions/chives
-I didn't have bacon, but I would have added it if I did!

I used a spatula to stir after each ingredient was added.  Don't smoosh the potatoes.  As you stir, they should cream a bit but still leave some chunks.

This will make a lot.  If you're like us and don't have kids, you'll have leftovers for a few days.  I love leftovers!  Potato salad for breakfast it is!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Fall Is Here! (And a Free Download!)

I made a little welcome graphic for Fall.  You can download the full resolutions here.

Here's what they look like:

I hope you enjoy!  All I ask is if you repost this, please link back to here.  Thanks!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Grand Opening Recap

My tiny little corner of the world (Blue Kite Boutique) had its Grand Opening on Saturday.  Here are a few photos from the big day!

It was a fun, busy, fast paced day!  My full-body fluid retention had me taking a seat and elevating my legs any time there was a break, but for the most part, it was easy to forget with everything that was going on!

Thank you to everyone that came made my day!

Thursday, July 26, 2012


I've mentioned for awhile now that I haven't been 100% healthy for a little while now.  I haven't fully disclosed details to much more than a handful of people for a few reasons.

Why I haven't shared:
First-- I'm embarrassed.
I'm embarrassed about how I look.  Honestly.  This isn't for people to console me.  It's just the truth.  My health issues have caused me to retain fluid (not water but fluid that a normal body rids of naturally) from my face all the way down to my toes.  I definitely look plumper than I ever have, and I know what people assume when they see someone gain weight.  They think lazy, eating too much, let herself go.  But they don't ever think it's for medical reasons.  And that's hard to live with.  Whether or not you're a vain person, you don't want to be judged by how you look, especially when it's far from the truth.

Second-- I'm still being diagnosed.
I don't want to talk about every little test or treatment, because it can change quickly until the doctors finally figure it out.  I have a big doctors appointment in a couple weeks that hopefully will find the complete answer.  I'm being treated for some symptoms right now, but we haven't gotten to the bottom of it yet.  I don't want to seem overly dramatic or shifting with the wind on diagnoses.

Third-- I don't want to be a negative person.
When you're dealing with something like this, it really takes an emotional and mental toll of you.  It's tough.  And I don't want people to feel like I'm always complaining or asking for attention.  So I try to keep it all together and do as much as I can to keep up and live normally, even if it's really, really tough.

Why I should share:
First-- You need to know you're not alone.
If you're going through something similar, you know it's easy to feel alone or feel that others don't fully understand.  You're not alone.  Right now I'm being treated for lymphedema symptoms, and if you're having to go through funny looking treatments like me, then it can be embarrassing and hard to share.  So I'm sharing just to show you that I'm going through it too!
I have to wear each of these at home for daily therapy:
These are pumps that stimulate my lymph nodes, and they're cumbersome and silly looking, but they give me relief, so I love them!
I also have to drive 30 minutes twice a week to physical therapy where they do this:
My legs stayed wrapped.  They only time they're not wrapped is when I go to therapy; they unwrap them, do therapy, and rewrap them.  I'll do this for several weeks.  The wraps also work on my lymphatic system.  Try going shopping or out to eat in these things.  Pants don't fit over them, so you can't hide them.  And people like to stare.  People also say really dumb things, so you just have to smile.
So if you're having to go through treatment that's somewhat publicly embarrassing, I'm here to hug you and say, I understand!

Second-- My Lord has blessed me immensely.
Every time I feel like I can't go on, He shows Himself and give me the strength I need.
I can't begin to tell you every detail of how He's blessed me along the way.  I've had great doctors and great therapists.  I've even had receptionists that have comforted me!  The lady that worked for the company that provided the lymphedema pumps has been so sweet.  Health care is expensive, but many of my bills have been heavily discounted or donated.  I've had to shell out some money, but God knew ahead of time in my former job that a health savings account would help me pay for those bills today.

Please, please believe me when I say none of this is for pity.  It's for me to tell you that you're not alone.  And if you're blessed in health right now, it's to tell you that I know you may have other hardships right now.  And you may not have to be wrapped and wear silly garments like me, but I know your pain might be just as hard to bear.  And I pray that you see God's hand in your life and allow Him to strengthen you and use your pain for good.

I'm disabling the comments for this post, but if you want to talk or let me know what you're going through, you can send me an email- marlashep(at)aol(dot)com

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."
2 Corinthians 12:9

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Fresh Guacamole Recipe

It's hot hot hot outside, which means I want something cool and fresh to eat.  I've been making lots of guacamole.  It's perfect for when you're feeding lots of people or for when you want to snack on it a few days (I'll tell you how to keep it good for a couple days!).

Let's get started...

1)Dice half a red onion.
I like red because of the flavor and color.  If you're not crazy about onion, you can use less, but I wouldn't omit it altogether.
2)Squeeze the juice from one lemon over the onions and stir.

3) Put two ripe avocados in with the onions. (My husband likes for me to use four it just depends on how much you want!)

4) Grab a potato masher, and mash the avocado!

5) Add minced garlic (fresh or jarred),

6) Add cumin and cayenne pepper to taste.

7) Dice one tomato.  I've also found that slicing cherry tomatoes work; I almost prefer those, because they stay firm and are easier to slice up.

8) Add the tomatoes to the mixture.

9) Add juice from another lime. (My husband also prefers omitting this last again, it's up to you!)
(Optional: Add cilantro.  I add it if I have some around the house).

10) Take the pits (pits? seeds? What are they called??) from the two avocados, and put them in the mixture.
Leave them in.  They'll help keep it fresh and green!

I keep mine in a tupperware bowl so it will seal up.  It stays good in the fridge for about three days.  The lime juice may need to be stirred as the guacamole sits, but I think the flavor is actually better on the second day when all the flavors are married together.

Ruby sat at the kitchen door while I made this.

She was waiting for a tortilla chip.

How do you like your guacamole?

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