Unite To Fight

Unite to Fight

Unite to Fight

We began our last blog entry with the sentence, “We’ve had quite a year “….Well we HAVE.

We’re two sisters.  We don’t live particularly close to each other.  My mom would call us “G.U.’s.” which means: “geographically undesirable”.  I’m Laura, the oldest, the youngest is Christi.  We are 15 1/2 years apart.

My kids are nearly grown:  High school, college, and a college grad.  Christi’s are still medium to bitty.  When we first started this blog, I kid you not, we checked the stats every 10 minutes.  We called each other jumping up and down like heroes when a new person logged on.  I think we went to lunch when we had a hundred hits. Truly.  Looking back on it now, it’s a little embarrassing.  Now, hundreds of thousands of hits later we go to lunch on a regular basis to “plan” which really means “eat” and sorta-kinda make plans.  But, like I said before, we’ve had quite a year.  Today at our “planning” lunch, Christi mentioned that we’ve slacked off quite a bit and that our blog doesn’t seem personal enough.  It’s true.  Let me tell you why.  Some parts are hard, and some are happy.

Last November I felt some pain under my armpit.  It started to hurt enough to wake me during the night.  I was a breast cancer survivor.  8 years.  My husband made an appointment with a doctor in March.  The doctor didn’t seem worried and said she could feel something, but was pretty sure it was my surgical ridge from the surgery 8 years earlier.  We looked uneasy, and I had pain so we proceeded just to be safe.   A week or so later I had a two-hour mammogram.  Four days after that an ultrasound.  By then I knew the drill.  Lots of clicking around in the same place.  No one said anything to alarm us, but… been there, done that.  I have already had a mastectomy, hysterectomy, reconstruction and two pulmonary embolism that caused me to go “man down” out of the shower and bust my eyebrow open. “This ain’t my first rodeo”.  My sweet sister died of a brain tumor almost 18 years ago.  We understand cancer.  We’ve been the recipients in this family.

Anyway, the next Friday, I had a biopsy that sent me through the ceiling.  I shook all day.  I’d never had such a painful procedure, (and I’ve HAD that very procedure).  The doctor told me not to leave the office without selecting a surgeon, because no matter what was happening, my nerves were involved and I needed surgery.  They weren’t kidding.  They wouldn’t let us leave without a consult appointment.  They handed us a pamphlet with names, faces and bio’s so my appointment could be scheduled that Monday.  Names and faces of people I knew nothing about.  They asked me who I wanted.  I said, ” An Ivy leaguer who didn’t cheat on the tests”.  My husband scanned the pamphlet and knew a surgeon.  He’d grown up on his street as a boy.  Done.  Selection made.

My husband picked me up at work the day of the appointment.  I could tell by the look on his face he had already called for the result.  I asked him if my cancer was back and he said, “Yes”.  Yes. I was numb.  Not again.  The bald head, the sickness and vomiting, pain, the sores in my mouth, feeling sooo tired all the time, trying to act brave so your family isn’t terrified.  We won’t talk about expense, that’s a given.  I’m 8 years older. 8 years whimpier.  I didn’t know if it would be easier because I knew what to expect or more difficult because I did.

How would it turn out this time?  Was I filled with cancer because it had been growing for 8 years?  Was it too much to ask to be spared again?  Was I praying harder when I needed something?  That’s what I was thinking.  What would I tell my kids, my family, my friends?  I was quietly panicking as I thought to myself: “Good job girl, you did it again, you’re officially a professional service project.”

I  had surgery the last day of March.  They removed two tumors.  One the size of a racquetball and the other, half the size of a hotdog bun.   That’s how I can justify my fat arms.  (However, I do have ANOTHER fat arm with no Cancer).  My chemo would start in a week or so.  Six times with two weeks in between.  They had to leave a bit of cancer in my arm so it wouldn’t lose abilities, so there would be 6 weeks of radiation 5 times a week after that.  Okay.  Armor on.

It sucks.  It does.  I’m not brave all the time.  I cry and get grumpy.   I rag to my poor husband who never complains and takes me to every appointment and chemo.  He listens to me bellyache.  The whole family does.  I do my best, but I am tired of it.  I hate the way I look because I’m bald and a bit chubby.  I use false eyelashes so I can slap a hat or wig on and push trough the day without too much pity.

Yet, even with everything I am grateful.  So grateful. I’m grateful because all that cancer stayed in the same place.  It grew for 8 years and didn’t metastasize.  Thank you Heavenly Father.  I’m grateful because I have it in me to fight, to straighten my crown and walk like a boss the heck out of that infusion room.  I’m grateful for family.  I’m grateful for friends who are like family who have helped us in so many ways and means we couldn’t list it and get it right.  We won’t forget though.  Not ever.  These good people have touched us to the depths.  August 16th, 2013 was my last chemo. TADA!  I’m half way through radiation, it’s just now starting to feel pretty miserable.

A week or so after the surgery to remove my cancer, my dad and mom were on a walk together when a neighbor backed out of the driveway, and hit my mother.  She was knocked backwards and received a head wound that took her life.  She was probably killed then instantly.  My dad tried mouth-to-mouth and CPR.  A neighbor called an ambulance and firefighters who all tried tirelessly to revive her.  She was rushed to the hospital with my father following behind them in the car.  He called me and asked me to call all my brothers and sisters and their spouses and told us where we should meet.  We were put in a room together.  She was taken to an emergency brain surgery, but she didn’t survive.  We were, are, and will always be devastated. She is such a part of all we are as a family.  An accomplished artist, with beautiful paintings permanently displayed In Colleges, libraries and homes.  She was a tireless volunteer.  She taught children to read for over twenty years.  She is an incredible person.  She was a giver of all she had, to all she knew, all the time.  She even gave in the end as an organ donor.  Still giving as others live on.

Life isn’t easy. We have and then we don’t.  People, healthy bodies, life, things…  It’s a lot.  Everyone behind every door, is suffering somehow, maybe not out in the open or in ways that are obvious, but they are.  It’s devastating to lose someone you love.  But it does give you a perspective you can’t get any other way.  It can help you grieve for others and empathize in a way you couldn’t before.  It’s a perspective that can help you along in life as you remember the things in life that matter the most.  The little things, that are really the big things.  You know what and who they are. Sickness does the same thing. Perspective.

In your life if you are struggling, if the people around you are too, straighten your crown, walk like a boss, and keep going.  You can do it.  You can.

Before any of the hard stuff happened, and then during it all, these two sisters started working on an App together.  It is called: “Tic Tac You” by lovezilla.net. THAT was fun and happy.  THAT was another reason to go to lunch.  It’s a family friendly App that’s available in iTunes.  Because  we take fighting personally, we will donate 20% of all sales during the month of October to Huntsman Cancer Institute for cancer research.  We would love to make a dent in this world.  We know and love the fighters, we are in their corner.  We will win!

“Tic Tac You” Is Finally Here!

Tic-Tac-You App Icon

After much waiting, Tic Tac You is FINALLY here.

We’ve had quite a year.  Really.  We LOVED starting a blog and creating ideas.  We loved other people’s ideas and meeting together to plan what we’d do next.  We don’t live particularly close to each other.  My mom would call us G.U.’s. which means: “geographically undesirable”.  Who knew when planning what we’d do next, it would include developing an App?!

After many months, blood, sweat and tears, our App is finally available for purchase in the iTunes App store.  We are really proud of the finished product.  It is a completely family friendly game that your kids will LOVE!  Let me tell you a little bit about it:  We put a spin on the classic game Tic Tac Toe.  You play the game with your friends and family featuring pictures instead of the standard X and O’s .  Tic Tac You is a game starring YOU with anyone or anything as your opponent. Tic Tac You is an easy strategy game that can be played by the whole family. This game is so simple and fun, anyone can play! To begin a game, take a snap shot of yourself, others or objects with our in app camera or use existing photo’s from your camera roll. There is a warping feature that can turn it into a hilarious masterpiece.  You can play multiple games at once, or use the “Pass and Play” option. Search for friends via Game Center and let the fun begin.  Click here or on the icon above to be directed to the iTunes Store to buy it…go ahead, we’ll wait…


Making Food Last

You need to check out this incredible list compiled by My Thirty Spot on how to store food.  This goes back to post on How To Make Your Berries Last .  I have also washed my grapes with vinegar and had success.  She also mentions in her comments to “mist bananas lightly with lemon juice. The lemon juice won’t affect the flavor of the banana, but will keep them from developing brown spots so quickly. Store bananas on the counter with the curved side up. This way, air is allowed to flow under and around the bananas or get a banana hammock.”.

How To Store Vegetables

Always remove any tight bands from your vegetables or at least loosen them to allow them to breathe.
Artichokes‐ place in an airtight container sealed, with light moisture.
Asparagus‐ place them loosely in a glass or bowl upright with water at room temperature. (Will keep for a week outside the fridge)
Avocados‐ place in a paper bag at room temp. To speed up their ripening‐ place an apple in the bag with them.
Arugula‐ arugula, like lettuce, should not stay wet! Dunk in cold water and spin or lay flat to dry. Place dry arugula in an open container, wrapped with a dry towel to absorb any extra moisture.
Basil‐ is difficult to store well. Basil does not like the cold, or to be wet for that matter. The best method here is an airtight container/jar loosely packed with a small damp piece of paper inside‐left out on a cool counter.
Beans, shelling‐ open container in the fridge, eat ASAP. Some recommend freezing them if not going to eat right away
Beets‐ cut the tops off to keep beets firm, (be sure to keep the greens!)by leaving any top on root vegetables draws moisture from the root, making them lose flavor and firmness. Beets should be washed and kept in and open container with a wet towel on top.
Beet greens‐ place in an airtight container with a little moisture.
Broccoli‐ place in an open container in the fridge or wrap in a damp towel before placing in the fridge.
Broccoli Rabe‐ left in an open container in the crisper, but best used as soon as possible.
Brussels Sprouts‐ If bought on the stalk leave them on that stalk. Put the stalk in the fridge or leave it on a cold place. If they’re bought loose store them in an open container with a damp towel on top.
Cabbage‐ left out on a cool counter is fine up to a week, in the crisper otherwise. Peel off outer leaves if they start to wilt. Cabbage might begin to lose its moisture after a week , so, best used as soon as possible.
Carrots‐ cut the tops off to keep them fresh longer. Place them in closed container with plenty of moisture, either wrapped in a damp towel or dunk them in cold water every couple of days if they’re stored that long.
Cauliflower‐ will last a while in a closed container in the fridge, but they say cauliflower has the best flavor the day it’s bought.
Celery‐ does best when simply places in a cup or bowl of shallow water on the counter. If you want to keep it in the refrigerator, like I do, wrap it in tin foil. It will stay crisp for weeks.
Celery root- wrap the root in a damp towel and place in the crisper.
Corn‐ leave unhusked in an open container if you must, but corn really is best eaten sooner than later for maximum flavor.
Cucumber‐ wrapped in a moist towel in the fridge. If you’re planning on eating them within a day or two after buying them they should be fine left out in a cool room.
Eggplant‐ does fine left out in a cool room. Don’t wash it, eggplant doesn’t like any extra moisture around its leaves. For longer storage‐ place loose, in the crisper.
Fava beans‐ place in an air tight container.
Fennel‐ if used within a couple of days after it’s bought fennel can be left out on the counter, upright in a cup or bowl of water (like celery). If wanting to keep longer than a few days place in the fridge in a closed container with a little water.
Garlic‐ store in a cool, dark, place.
Green garlic‐an airtight container in the fridge or left out for a day or two is fine, best before dried out.
Greens‐ remove any bands, twist ties, etc. most greens must be kept in an air‐tight container with a damp cloth‐ to keep them from drying out. Kale, collard, and chard even do well in a cup of water on the counter or fridge.
Green beans‐ they like humidity, but not wetness. A damp cloth draped over an open or loosely closed container.
Green Tomatoes‐ store in a cool room away from the sun to keep them green and use quickly or they will begin to color.
Herbs– a closed container in the fridge to kept up to a week. Any longer might encourage mold.
Lettuce‐ keep damp in an airtight container in the fridge.
Leeks‐leave in an open container in the crisper wrapped in a damp cloth or in a shallow cup of water on the counter (just so the very bottom of the stem has water).
Okra‐ doesn’t like humidity. So a dry towel in an airtight container. Doesn’t store that well, best eaten quickly after purchase
Onion‐ store in a cool, dark and dry, place‐ good air circulation is best, so don’t stack them.

Mushrooms – Keep mushrooms in the refrigerator in its original wrapping. If you are using some of the mushrooms, try to open a corner of the plastic wrap and just take what you need. Then cover with a paper towel and cover with more plastic wrap and place back into the refrigerator.
Parsnips‐an open container in the crisper, or, like a carrot, wrapped in a damp cloth in the fridge.
Potatoes‐ (like garlic and onions) store in cool, dark and dry place, such as, a box in a dark corner of the pantry; a paper bag also works well.
Radicchio‐ place in the fridge in an open container with a damp cloth on top.
Radishes‐ remove the greens (store separately) so they don’t draw out excess moisture from the roots and place them in an open container in the fridge with a wet towel placed on top.
Rhubarb‐wrap in a damp towel and place in an open container in the refrigerator.
Rutabagas‐ in an ideal situation a cool, dark, humid root cellar or a closed container in the crisper to keep their moisture in.
Snap peas‐ refrigerate in an open container
Spinach‐ store loose in an open container in the crisper, cool as soon as possible. Spinach loves to stay cold.
Spring onions‐ Remove any band or tie and place in the crisper.
Summer Squash‐ does fine for a few days if left out on a cool counter, even after cut.
Sweet peppers‐ Only wash them right before you plan on eating them as wetness decreases storage time. Store in a cool room to use in a couple a days, place in the crisper if longer storage needed.
Sweet Potatoes‐ Store in a cool, dark, well‐ventilated place. Never refrigerate‐‐sweet potatoes don’t like the cold.
Tomatoes‐ Never refrigerate. Depending on ripeness, tomatoes can stay for up to two weeks on the counter. To hasten ripeness place in a paper bag with an apple.
Turnips‐ remove the greens (store separately) same as radishes and beets, store them in an open container with a moist cloth.
Winter squash‐store in a cool, dark, well ventilated place. Many growers say winter squashes get sweeter if they’re stored for a week or so before eaten.
Zucchini‐ does fine for a few days if left out on a cool counter, even after cut. Wrap in a cloth and refrigerate for longer storage.

How to Store Fruit
Apples‐ store on a cool counter or shelf for up to two weeks. For longer storage in a cardboard box in the fridge.
Citrus‐ store in a cool place, with good airflow, never in an air‐tight container.
Apricots‐ on a cool counter to room temperature or fridge if fully ripe
Cherries‐store in an airtight container. Don’t wash cherries until ready to eat, any added moisture encourages mold.
Berries-Don’t forget, they’re fragile. When storing be careful not to stack too many high, a single layer if possible. A paper bag works well, only wash before you plan on eating them.
Dates‐dryer dates (like Deglet Noor) are fine stored out on the counter in a bowl or the paper bag they were bought in. Moist dates (like Medjool) need a bit of refrigeration if they’re going to be stored over a week, either in cloth or a paper bag‐ as long as it’s porous to keeping the moisture away from the skin of the dates.
Figs‐ Don’t like humidity, so, no closed containers. A paper bag works to absorb excess moisture, but a plate works best in the fridge up to a week un‐stacked.
Grapes– Make sure to select clusters that are free from molds if you plan to keep them in your fridge.  Another mistake people make when storing grapes is washing them before storing. While this may clean them and get rid of dirt on them, the water will have a negative effect on the skins of the grapes; making them mushier and promoting bacterial growth in the process.
Kiwi – Store at room temperature until ripe; then in fridge. Do not refrigerate longer than 1 – 2 weeks.

Mangoes – Store on the counter until ripe or 2 – 5 days, then move to refrigerator, then keep for 5 – 7 days. If you want to freeze wash peel and slice into pieces. Place pieces on a cookie sheet until frozen then you can transfer to plastic bag.
Melons‐ uncut in a cool dry place, out of the sun up to a couple of weeks. Cut melons should be in the fridge, an open container is fine.
Nectarines‐ (similar to apricots) store in the fridge it is okay if it’s ripe, but best taken out a day or two before you plan on eating them so they soften to room temperature.
Peaches(and most stone fruit)‐ refrigerate only when fully ripe. More firm fruit will ripen on the counter.
Pears‐ will keep for a few weeks on a cool counter, but fine in a paper bag. To hasten the ripening put an apple in with them.
Oranges – stay juiciest when kept at room temperature. If possible place in a basket. The baskets are preferable to other containers because they permit the air to circulate freely around each piece of fruit.
Persimmon –Fuyu‐(shorter/pumpkin shaped): store at room temperature.
Hachiya – (longer/pointed end): room temperature until completely mushy. The astringents in them only subsides when they are completely ripe. To hasten the ripening process place in a paper bag with a few apples for a week, check now and then, but don’t stack‐they get very fragile when really ripe.
Pomegranates‐ keep up to a month stored on a cool counter.
Strawberries‐ Don’t like to be wet. Do best in a paper bag in the fridge for up to a week. Check the bag for moisture every other day.