Ch-ch-ch-changes Update

Last year at this time, I started a book called "52 Small Changes" with my friend Lorie.

We were reading and doing the books' weekly health and lifestyle changes together. All was going well. We were supporting each other and doing great.

Then I savaged my knee by ripping the meniscus over the summer and was also diagnosed with a slipped disc in my lower back. I spent a couple of tense months with my leg up on ice whenever possible. Did gigs and faires on crutches or with walking sticks. Sat for most gigs. It was excruitiating to move, climb stairs or do my daily walking. With many, many visits to the Chiropractor (did I say many?) and doing daily exercises, I have been able to repair a lot of the damage I did to my knee. It's still healing. But at least I can walk and do stairs now without pain. The disc still gives me some problems, but I can also sit cross legged again on the floor and I couldn't do that at all for awhile.

My dear friend, Lorie had changes of her own about that time too. She got engaged, bought a house, moved and took a trip to Scotland. Busy, busy, busy!


Well....we fell off our wagon together at about the same time, due to life events.

But some very GOOD things happened too!

Life, for instance. I got myself into a great habit over the past few years of keeping a written record of my daily blood pressure and weight. In looking back to a year ago to today, I see that my blood pressure is still holding at an awesome level:

This morning's read was 92/70
Last years' read was 97/72.
Pretty damn good for NO medication after it being 150/90 before my eye surgery!

My weight is holding at the same damn spot. Set point. Check. Stalmate.
How'ere, under the circumstances, after several months of no activity for me, I feel that this is also pretty damn good!
See, I put on some pounds during my lay up...but they are gone now!
I can't seem to budge my weight much, but, like Popeye....

I yam what I yam.

I have also made the recent decision to go back to eating a vegetarian diet. Vegan sometimes, but mostly vegetarian if I can find dairy and eggs that are humanely raised.

I'm feeling really pretty great for it.
While the scale and measurements aren't making any drastic drops to my notice...

My rings are loose. I can't really wear them much lately.
Also I think I'm feeling firmer. Tightening up. I'm convinced that my "back fat" (ladies, you know the under the bra strap bulgies) is lessening.

Harry says I'm feeling awesome. But then again, he always says that...

All in all, I'm on the right track. Making the small daily changes still, every day.

Like trying to choose vegetarian stuff off restaurant menus, because I like it and I like the challenge.

Harry is also doing this with me! I'm FECKING AMAZED at it, personally.
He is liking it and is also loosing some weight too. Some union brother of his actually asked him if he lost weight the other day.

So it goes.

While it may be the "winter of our discontent"...

It's also that time of year....just about Imbolc.
the roots ARE growing in the ground, about to emerge....
changes are happening inside.

We are purging and detoxing...
out with the negative...
in with the positive.

Bad Chi Out.
Good Chi In.

I may not see or even feel them, but the changes are here.
Taking root.

Hopefully Spring will bring the bounty of beauty and a bloom of love and happiness again...
Sometimes it blooms in the darndest of places.

What good changes are you making in your life these days?

When Mommy Cooks.....

This week marks my daughter, Jesse's 27th birthday on Wednesday. Where did the time go??
Wasn't she just a wee little bairn not too long ago??

What did she want for her birthday?

Her "Mommy's Eggs Benedict"  So I invited her and her boyfriend, Tristan, Jesse's dad Dave and her sister over with me and Harry for Jesse's birthday celebration dinner on Sunday afternoon.
We are quite silly when we get together!

Jesse and Tristan make a cute couple, don't you think?
They are really a perfect match. I really like him a lot and so does Harry.
Tristan is a good kid.
He is responsible, hard working and funny as all get out too.
While I've had Eggs Benedict out and about....I will tell you truly....

I don't think I've ever had a better batch than the ones I made yesterday. 
I defy anyone to make a better batch and I welcome the challenge to a cook off.

When Jesse asked me to make them special, I said "Yes, of course! But honey, I'm not currently buying meat. But bring some ham if you want it on yours and I'll cook it for you."  
(I'm having a rebellion towards the way Agribusiness is treating food animals.)

ANYWAYS....surely I digress.

She brought a goodly sized piece of ham.
Note: Harry has not had meat for 3 weeks. I was not going to stop him if he wanted to eat what was gifted if he decided to imbibe.

So, I made up the Eggs Benedict the regular way, (I will give you my AMAZING recipe below) and I also made a Vegetarian version without the ham. Instead I substituted some sauteed kale as one layer, and a layer of sauteed mushrooms in my veggie version. The eggs came from local small farms. I have no guilt.

Well, Jesse thought that the mushrooms sounded like a great idea and added them to her traditional plate of Eggs, English Muffin, Ham and Sauce. She LOVED it.

Harry, Dave and I had my version. It ROCKED!!

Harry then had a second plate with the Eggs Benedict with Ham. He said it was also very good, but he was surprised that it "wasn't as good as I thought it was going to be." He said, "I thought it would pop into my mouth with this big taste, but it was really very salty and quite diminished."


I think the Veggie Version won. I know it did.

I offer this to you, my foodie dearie darlings!

Merlyn's Eggs Benedict Recipe

"Merlyn's Mocking Hollandaise"

1 large can of Cream of Mushroom Soup
5 egg yolks
Generous splash of lemon juice
Dash of Franks' Red Hot Sauce
1 stick of butter, melted

In a blender, combine soup, egg yolks, lemon juice and hot sauce. Blend till smooth. While blending, SLOWLY drizzle in the melted butter. Let blend for about another minute or 2. Pour sauce into a pan, and heat on low till cooked and bubbly. Don't let it burn. Bubbles will form on side of pan. It will thicken.


In a kettle, tear washed kale leaves into bite sized pieces. Add a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of tamari. (soy sauce). Cook down covered on low until soft. Set aside.

In a sautee pan, cook sliced mushrooms in some olive oil and a drizzle of soy sauce. Cook till browned and soft. Set aside.

Cook eggs sunny side up. Soft yolk. When ready to assemble, the sauce will "cook" the tops of the eggs.

Assembly as follows on plate:

2 Toasted dry English Muffin halves (you don't need to butter it. Good God there's enough butter in the sauce!)
Topped with layer of Kale, layer of Mushrooms, 2 eggs and a ladle of the Mocking Hollandaise.
Sprinkle of parsley or cilantro on top.

I wish I had a picture, but I was busy cooking, chatting, and loving up my family to remember taking one!

OMG. It was TOO delicious to be true.

You are Welcome.

While I cleaned up the dishes, the kids visited with Harry, Dave and I continued to chat while he made a batch of Chocolate Chip cookies in my kitchen. Yes, my ex husband and I are still very good buds.
We are family still and always will be.
Dave and I have a bizzare sense of humor. We stayed together for 17 years married and 23 years as a couple because we make each other laugh. A LOT.

Jesse had NO Choice but to be silly too, with Dave and I as Parents.
She got her bawdy wit and and outrageous silliness from me,  her mother...

And she got her sense of bizarre jokes and potty humor from her dad...
He's a great guy and a fabulous dad for my girls!

 But wait! There's more...

Add in her fun and silly Step Dad, Harry...

Add in some Merry Mischief to her life....

And well....

She's turned out RIGHT NICE.
Smart! Silly & she has grown into an AWESOME fun lady with wit, intellect and a bit of bizarreness that we all need and admire!


We finished our day with a lovely snuggle on the couch, chatted and laughed all afternoon....
added a warm chocolate chip cookie out of the oven with hot coffee...
It was the PERFECT topper to a perfect day.

We didn't need a big birthday cake. Just a little something sweet. Just like Jesse. :)

Jesse dubbed it, "The Best Birthday Dinner EVER."

Happy Early Natal Day to my darling girl Jesse!! She's the best.
And I am VERY Proud of the Lady you have become.

On Becoming a Foodie.....

I have the spark I needed. I am a bit of a foodie of late. It is a pleasure to cook, and eat simply.

To cook again.

So here is my most recent pics for fun!

With the awesome "Juicy Tour" I got in touch with my Quest for good flavors...
Juice, Fresh Fruits and Veggies...
Led me to an analyzing of my current eating habits.

I dropped meat out of my diet for more than 3 weeks now.

Which led to me coming home and cleaning out my cupboards after the trip and honing down my staples into what is good, what is crap and what is essential.

Got rid of stuff that has the EVIL "High Fructose Corn Syrup" in it. (That poison is in EVERYTHING. I mean EVERYTHING. Quick, go check YOUR ketchup.)
While these items may be tasty....
And contains an additive MADE TO MAKE YOU FAT.

Here are a few I won't be buying again anytime soon....


Here is my cleaned out, finished and Awe Inspiring Food Pantry!

It makes me want to COOK!
 I unbagged and jarred all my beans and grains.
 Yummydos....Pickles and Jams...
 Wiped clean and ready to roll....
 Handy at fingertip and eye level
Wanna see my fridge?
It's a thing of yummy beauty right now :)
I thought you might like to know what I'm eating.

Because we all know that if you are a vegetarian, that you are starving to death, right?

I am blessed. I am not starving.
It is said that each one of our body cells has a shelf life of 30 days before it sheds into a new cell. So in actuality we could all be a TOTALLY BRAND NEW PERSON in like 30-60days.


So put in good stuff!!
I bought some ready carrot/orange juice and some Green Goddess Juice until my new appliance comes...

We don't drink milk. The Almond Breeze plain is great for cereal though.

As you can see here....Monty hasn't gone total vegetarian and we don't expect him to. (Yah, the Alpo's not for me :)
Monty's more of an "Omnivore" anyways. Some of his all time favorite things from birth to now are snap peas and asparagus tips and green beans..

He's deprived as you can see from this picture :)

 I can't wait till my new and improved Cuisinart Juicer comes this week!
Until then, mmmmmm.....fresh fruit.

Here is my adaptation for NOT buying mass produced agri-business eggs and milk.
Tofutti Cream Cheese! Really good. + 0 Guilt.
 And here, we went shopping at our local farm store.
Wake Robin Farm started as an CSA of which we were members. Here at Wake Robin, Meg & Bruce keep a small herd of 10 cows for milk production of the sane and humane kind. They sell their yogurt and artisan cheeses. Really delicious!Their dream was to have a running, productive small dairy farm.

This is a pic from their parking lot when we were there today....
The high today was 9 degrees. It's colder now.

Harry and I are lactose intolerant. I was personally raised on goat's milk till I was 3.
We don't drink ANY milk. We can tolerate yogurt and cheese after all these years though.
And we LOVE cheese.
But sometimes....cheese does not love us :)
We believe in supporting the little local guy. The food is delicious and you know it helps you, the family, the community and the animals herded are treated with kindness and good stewardship.

I use the plain yogurt instead of sour cream and with fruit and for dressings...
The vanilla is awesome with granola and fruit.
 All in all a goodly some homemade musli and local honey too...
And eggs from my friend Betsy's personal flock of chickens.
I grew up on fresh eggs. It's nice to have them again.
Aren't they beautiful?
This is not a new obsession for me.
Just a renewed one of old.

Wanna see what I mean?
I've been down this road a lot before. 

Here are my two favorite cookbooks in the world. Can you tell I have loved and lived by them over the last 37 years?
Laurel's Kitchen I lived by when I was Vegetarian before. I love the stories in it as well as the good plain no nonsense organic cooking in it. 
Taped together,...broken spine....still good.
 This Fanny Farmer Cookbook is disintegrating.
My father got if for me as a paperback cookbook, purchased with cigar bands from a club he belonged to.
I was about 12. This book is 40 years old and my good old Pop has been gone for 18 years now.
 Busted in half....
 Taped and limping.
It's still good. :)
It all made me feel like cooking a big batch of Split Pea Soup on this cold and burry day.
 Measuring out the split peas in a coffee cup is what I usually do...and saute the onions, celery and carrots first...
 Add water, herbs.....
 And cook it down. It smells so good in here!
Very warm and cozy on a Cold and Wintry day!
Life is for Savoring.



Less is MORE.

Photoshop + Friends = Magick Moments!!!

As a Theatrical Musician, I get pics taken of me.

Sometimes lots of opportunities are missed because I am generally busy working and performing and not taking pics.

Sometimes there are a lot of really bad shots captured because I am singing at the time and have a "syllable" face on. "E"s and "O"s are good....but others? Well, not so much.


My friend Dre took this awesome shot of me having fun, singing, telling jokes and playing at the Fort Myers Kiwanis Medieval Faire. The table, me and the Knight and behind the knight background are as is from the faire. There is also a photobombed patron in "Mundanes" (i.e. NOT Garb) on the side and an ugly plastic cup in the foreground.

But the pic is awesome in essence, don't you think?

I put it up on FaceBook and asked any of my clever friends out there to have a go at "fixing" it.

Friend writer and ren faire playtron Frank Homer dashed this one off quickly within minutes!
The feeling is of a pasture and yet....there's still that damn cup.
Anachronisms drive me rat shit.
But you have to admit....
it's MUCH better now without that sideline modern stuff impeding the pic!!
Good Quickie Job Frank! Looks likes he lightened it a bit too...

Next up, my dear friend Kathleen from Hair Sticks gave it a go:
She made it more of a Castle and took the time to get rid of the plastic cup AND she replaced it with a Goblet! I'm thinking there is a lovely red wine in it :)
Yummy! Great Job Kathleen!!

Next, my Musician Friend and Fellow Bodhran player Michelle had a go at it!
Really lovely outdoorsy setting in the distance. It reminds me of where I grew up...
she also shortened the table and eliminated the cup altogether.

 In this 2nd one, Michele cropped the pic and gave it more of an outdoorsy feel!
I think she did a fine job!  This second pic feels really "open" and airy, doesn't it?

Next up, my Florida friend, Elaine gave it a shot~
She got rid of the cup and her background is of a lovely strong castle type wall.
I like it a lot! It makes me feel like we are in a pub in the British Isles somewhere!

And last, but not least...
My dear friend Polar gave me a Jouster!
A "Knight in Shining Armor" awaits me! :)
A real wenching in progress!
I can't decide if I want to ride off with him...
or have him get down off his high horse and drink him under the table! :)
Either sounds fun to me!

But Merlyn!

What does all this have to do with the price of Ale?

Well, just to say that:
1) I LOVE my friends! Really creative and kind to me!
2) Photo capture IS Magickal!
3) Anachronisms SUCK
4) Photoshop can be a wondrous thing!

But just because you don't have Photoshop doesn't mean you can't fix a thing.


Here is a fun impromptu pic I took at the faire, of some of our goodly friends thither!
Great pic!
They all have great garb!
But oops!
What do you see in this pic that's amiss?
Aye. A plastic cup, a picnic table, and Privies!
So I snapped another one.
In this pic, I had Robert "Hide his Cup" and I focused in on the pic better once I saw the "privies" in the background. The picnic table is still there, but overall, for a candid shot, the adjusted pic is MUCH improved, don't you think?


Have fun with Photography!
Catch what you can!

And you can always "fix it" later with the help of some clever tricksy friends or composition in the moment!