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Archives for November 2009

So you think you’ve heard enough about turkey?

I’d like to introduce you to my friends “the Neelys.”

I have had a love of food for years. Not sure how it happened whether it is from spending so much time with my grandmother whose whole life revolved around food or not, but I’m sure that has something to do with it. When grandmom would come and visit just as we were putting our coffee to our mouths she’d be asking, “now what should we have for dinner?” and again as we were eating those first few bites of the delicious dinner she created, she’s ask, “now what do you want tomorrow night for dinner?” She would come and visit for a week or two at a time when my kids were little and Rebeka would love to come home and see a kitchen towel on the table filled with cookies, or her famous marshmallow treats and brownies all individually packaged. Gosh, I miss grandmom especially around holidays where I spend so much time in the kitchen preparing.

The Food Network was not around when Grandmom was or I’m sure that she would have commented on how there isn’t a show on “her food.” She would have made one great show!! So many new and interesting people have come into my life via the Food Network, of course everyone knows who Rachel Ray is, and Paula Dean, some know my fav Ina alas The Barefoot Contessa, but recently I have found a love for The Neelys, they are a husband/wife team who owns a few barbecue restaurants in of course “the south.”

Ainsley has gotten to be a big help in the kitchen at home, so much so that we have dubbed her, “the tiny chef.” And she too loves to watch the Food Network at home. Her eyes widen when the Dean brothers come on and cook, and I love when she say’s “ummm” to something that looks very tasty.

I thought it would be fun to take Ainsley to the Metropolitan Food and Entertaining Show. I knew she would love to see all of the vendors and perhaps get a glimpse of the Dean brothers.

Geoffrey just loves Paula Dean; he actually does a fab imitation of her! LOL

When I called about tickets I was happy to get our family tickets to the Neelys show, but when we got to the show we were fortunate enough to get front row seats! I was soooo happy because with Ainsley in her wheelchair it is hard for her to see a lot of times. She was so excited to see the chef’s who are usually little on our TV live and in life, and actually so was I. And boy o boy, they were not only entertaining to watch, but I just loved the recipes!

Gina is a very sassy women and Pat seems to be a wonderful guy. They make a great team! The show did get a little “juicy/racy” for Ainsley but she thought it was funny.

The Neely’s love barbecue and everything around it. I’m going to share their “smoky” barbecue sauce for you all to enjoy.

2 cups ketchup
1 cup water
¼ cup light brown sugar
¼ cup sugar
1 ½ tsp group pepper
1 ½ tsp onion powder
1 ½ dry mustard
2 Tbs lemon juice
2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
½ cup apple cider vinegar
2 Tbs light corn syrup
1 Tbs Neelys barbecue seasoning *

Combined all of the ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. Reduce to the temperature to very low and simmer uncovered for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat, cool, and use as needed. Store in a tightly sealed container. This sauce will keep in the fridge for up to two months.

*Neelys barbecue seasoning
1 ½ c paprika
¾ c sugar
3 ¾ Tbs onion powder.
Recipe courtesy from “Down Home with the Neelys”

I’m making barbecue chicken tonight with this smoky flavored barbecue, yum, everyone can’t wait! Hope you enjoy this and let me know if you find a way to use it for another recipe!

It’s going to be a cherry red merry holiday


Many of you know I have “hopped” on the Etsy bandwagon! I guess being a designer I love to find new and creative things for my home. I also spend lots of time scrapping and crafting and giving away my crafts as gift to friends and family. A few years ago I started making topiaries and my friends and family who I gave them to loved them so much I decided hmmm maybe I should try and “set up shop.” So that is what I have done.

I’m proud to announce the “grand opening” of my etsy shop. I have showcased several topiaries which are examples of some of the type of themes I can create; I can make topiaries for the holidays, trees as well as ornaments, to show school spirit, team spirit, or to go with your home décor. I would be happy to work with you to create your perfect “untraditional topiary.”

In honor of opening my new shop, I’m holding a giveaway of this “Cherry Red Christmas” ornament. I just love this one, so red and cheery!

To enter you must be a follower of this blog and “the untraditional topiary” blog and leave a comment. You must be a follower of the untraditional topiary to enter!
For extra entries:

• Follow the untraditional topiary on twitter
• Tweet about the giveaway up to once a day! http://tinyurl.com/ykxqubk and leave a separate comment with the twitter link.
• Follow me on twitter
• Visit the untraditional topiary and post your favorite item
• Post about this giveaway on your blog
• Add the untraditional topiary’s button to your blog

Contest Rules:
• You must reside in the United States and have a United States address.
• Contest ends Sunday, November 22, 2009 at 11pm Eastern Standard Time.
• Winner MUST either have their e-mail address on their profile, or leave their e- mail address with their comment.
• I will announce the winner of the giveaway on November 23, 2009 on this blog as well as through e-mail to the winner. If I do not receive a response within 48 hours, I will randomly choose a new winner.

My “Giving Tree”

I have always believed that reading to your children is a wonderful way to spend quality time with them. Each night since Rebeka and Ainsley were wee little ones, and most of your might remember they were both preemies and were “wee little ones.” We spent a good 30 minutes before they went to sleep reading to them.

I grew up in a house where reading and going to the library was like going to the mall for others, it was done on a weekly basis and when I tell you that my parents bought books like you have never seen, I kid you not, when they moved they needed an entire moving van just for books, and at one point when they built an addition they had to make sure the floors could hold the weight of all the books! But somehow that did instill my enjoyment of reading.

For each birthday I would buy both Rebeka and Ainsley a few new books to add to their library, many of the classic children’s stories and many more of the new up and coming stories. We now have a wonderful library of children’s books to enjoy. In any event, back to my little story…

Over time each of my girls had their favorites which we had to read every night, one was Disney’s book of manners because Rebeka’s favorite line in there was about how “rude” it was to “pick your nose.” And naturally as a little girl she thought that was funny, but she also loved “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein. Somewhere in-between my cuddling and the squeezing of Geoffrey’s nose or pulling off his glasses because he was exhausted by the time he had a chance to read to her, she “got” the story, and she loved it!

I thought it would be fun to share with you a craft idea we have done over the years which I shared on my second blog. Take a look, and start your own “giving tree.” I only wished we had the idea to write on the leaves years before! But we still do it to this day!

In honor of our day of “thanks” and all I am grateful for. I appreciate all of you my followers and I have loved hearing from you since I began blogging! I am giving away a copy of “The Giving Tree” all wrapped up and ready for the holidays. If you can’t use it, it would make a wonderful gift!

And thank you for “giving” so much to me… You will “all” be on my leaf this year, as I am so thankful for all of you!

How to enter the giveaway:

1 entry- Follow this blog, if you are already a follower leave a message as to what you enjoy about “I’m Still Standing.”
1 entry- Become a follower at Confessions of the Playground Princess
1 entry- Grab I’m still standing button.
1 entry- Grab Confessions of the Playground Princess button
1 entry- Follow me on Twitter (http://twitter.com/shelleyellen) and leave a comment that you are following on twitter.
1 entry- Tweet about this giveaway. Up to once a day! http://tinyurl.com/yfa7elg and leave a separate comment here with the twitter link.
1 entry-Subscribe to my feeds
1 entry- Favor my blog on Technorati
1 entry- Blog about this giveaway and include a link back to this contest
1 entry- Post on Facebook: Wonderful children’s book “the giving tree” giveaway http://tinyurl.com/yfa7elg, leave a separate comment here that you posted this on Facebook

Contest Rules:
• Contest ends Sunday, November 15, 2009 at 11pm Eastern Standard Time.
• Winner MUST either have their e-mail address on their profile, or leave their e-mail address with their comment.
• I will announce the winner of the giveaway on November 16, 2009 on this blog as well as through e-mail to the winner. If I do not receive a response within 48 hours, I will randomly choose a new winner.

One day… all babies will be born healthy

Twenty one years ago, I was a young scared soon to be young mom, who had been lying in the hospital for almost six weeks due to complications from Preeclampsia/Toxemia which was only getting worse. I didn’t understand what this was or why this was happening to me, and no one took the time to explain anything other than the fact that my blood pressure was going up, and I was spilling protein in my urine, (whatever that meant) and just before my water broke I gained 5 pounds overnight of I believe fluid; I wasn’t eating a lot because at the same time I was suffering from major gallbladder attacks so I couldn’t eat anything with fat or I had an attack, so there wasn’t to much I was eating; therefore the 5 pound weight pain was just scary. My hands looked like I was wearing baseball mitts and my legs and feet were so swollen I couldn’t even see my ankles. I knew that this was just wrong and I wanted to know that my baby and I were going to be OK. All I was told was the “cure” of my Toxemia was to deliver the baby.

The evening after the huge overnight weigh gain, my water broke at 34 weeks. I was told that it would be risky for the baby, perhaps his/her lungs would not be developed enough, but there was no way to stop the pregnancy at this point. This was my body’s way of saying “get this baby out of here.”

Twenty five hours and forty minutes later Rebeka was born via an emergency c-section. I don’t remember much of her birth since I was so exhausted from the Pitocin-which was used to speed up my contractions, and Magnesium Sulfate, which was used to “stabilize” my blood pressure which was like a roller coaster, going up and then plummeting to the point where they needed to give me Epinephrine to bring it back up. My body was going through a huge amount of emotional and physical anxiety, but I do remember when they pulled her out, and there was “nothing.” No cry and then panic hit the room. My poor husband didn’t know which way to turn, to me, or to our newborn daughter whose future which looked quite grim. They rapidly laid Rebeka down on a board and used Velcro straps on her arms and legs; that is all I remember before I blacked out.

When I came to I was in the recovery room and Geoffrey was sitting next to me. I remember I couldn’t move, and of course I asked about the baby. Where was she? How was she? How much did she weigh? What did she look like? The next 24 hours Rebeka showed us what a fighter she was, within that time the tiny 4 pound baby that was born not breathing who was resuscitated and ventilated was pulled off the ventilator and breathing on her own.

In the mean time, we were told by all that she would most likely be “blind, deaf, retarded, and probably never be able to live on her own.” We were devastated. How could this beautiful little baby be born and be such a “fighter” to only have these prognosis’s “thrown” on us? Well they couldn’t have been more wrong. Rebeka has grown to be a very intelligent and well versed 21 year old lady.

However now believe that the powers “above” were just “testing the waters.” Three and a half years after Rebeka was born, I went through the same ordeal of a “pregnancy” with the same lousy complications, minus the gallbladder issues because six weeks after my first section, I had my gallbladder removed. (Back to back surgeries not recommended by me!) In any event, the same things started happening but I was much more aware of what was going on and just a little scared about the same thing happening again.

And at 34 weeks after a month long stay in the hospital Ainsley was born. When things went to that “bad place” on the radar we opted it was time to get her out and scheduled a section for the first availability of the Operating Room. The next morning I was wheeled in and prepped for surgery. This time the section went much better and thank god, when they pulled her out, I heard that loud cry! There was no “drama” no board with Velcro, they wrapped her up and carried the little 3 pound munchkin to the NIC unit to eat and get bigger and go home and start her life. Unfortunately when Ainsley was 10 days old she suffered an intraventricular hemorrhage which changed her life and certainly all of ours. And then I remember what “they” had warned us about Rebeka. What was going to become of our little Ainsley? How would we live with a disabled child? What would that mean for her? What would that mean for us?

Our family has come a long way in those 21 years, we have learned to jump thru hoops and we have overcome a lot in coming to terms with having a disabled child. We have even become advocates in the disability community! I share this short snippet of our family’s history with you in honor of March of Dimes Prematurity Awareness Month.

And ask that you take a moment to see how you can get involved. If nothing more become informed about premature birth. Although I could not avoid mine there are things women can do.

The March of Dimes mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality. They carry out this mission through research, community services, education and advocacy to save babies’ lives. March of Dimes researchers, volunteers, educators, outreach workers and advocates work together to give all babies a fighting chance against the threats to their health: prematurity, birth defects, low birth weight.

Please share this info with anyone who you know who is pregnant and make sure that they are getting prenatal care. I am always happy to talk to anyone who might need help, even though I am not a doctor and do not claim to have any medical training, I have “been there and done that,” and I am happy to reach out and share with anyone who might need an ear or a hand to hold, even if it is through the Internet!