Make, contain and freeze meals… our new adventure!

Living On Oxygen for Life

Hello everyone! Breathing easy, I hope! On this blog, I have written so much about so many things that it’s actually hard for me to remember not to repeat myself! I’m assuming you are like me and want to read about new things from your favorite author. Am I right? Did I just call myself your favorite author? Hmm.. do I even qualify as being an “author?” Well, I do write this blog but I’ll let you decide on if I’m your favorite. HAHA!

On Monday, K and I dove into a new adventure. Before I start anything new, I research the heck out of it. Pinterest is one of my favorite places to go for information. Then, I move on to Google search! Though, SIRI (on my phone) could find me the information I need faster, I’m the type to do the work myself. I think I learn more that way.

K and I decided, after months of me suggesting we should try this, to prepare a bunch of meals to throw in the freezers for the days where neither one of us are up to cooking. I do most of the cooking in our house and sometimes.. ok, a lot of times, I just don’t have the energy to make a great meal. Since I switched from using an inhaler to using a nebulizer recently, I’ve rediscovered some lost energy. I’m slowly starting to get more done around the house.

Word of warning: Don’t try this until you have one full day of time to cook and make sure you have everything you need before you start. I made a simple list of the order of cooking I wanted to accomplish and stuck it where it would always be right in front of me (on the face of the microwave!) We started with a half empty freezer out in our garage. Yes, we have a separate upright freezer. K bought me an upright freezer because he knew it would be difficult for me to bend over and search through a horizontal freezer. I also did an inventory of what can goods we had for the recipes that I chose to make to fill the freezer. By doing this, I could make a grocery list to make sure that we had all the food we needed. We only wanted to use fresh ground beef and fresh chicken because you shouldn’t thaw meat to cook and then refreeze it. You only want to freeze it once for quality sake.

I knew I had to save K some running around because he spent the day before at his mom’s house helping her with her yard work and her pond. I ordered all the food through Walmart’s Grocery pickup service. All K had to do was pick it up on Monday morning before we started cooking. I had already ordered and received from Amazon.com the foil pans that come with foiled cardboard lids (5 lb containers) and the Reditainer Extreme Freeze Deli Food Containers (with Lids, 16-Ounce, 36-Pack) to store our prepared food. We were ready to rock!

The beginning of our meal prep adventure!

Once K unloaded the food, he proceeded to tell me that he was going to take a shower, which he did, and then he took a 30 minute nap. I was like, what? Wait a minute! I kinda panicked but he reassured me that when I truly needed help, he’d be there. I knew he was tired. It’s the beginning of the holiday season and he really needed the sleep. So, I got started with cooking the meat. I bought 15 lbs of ground beef and 2 packages of 6 large chicken breasts. I think my brain didn’t register how much ground beef could actually fit in my largest frying pan because I had to cook it in 3 separate batches. I had to cook the chicken in two batches. For the chicken, I just boiled them with 2 chicken bouillon cubes, salt & pepper. I used the broth from the first batch of chicken (added a little more water) to cook the second batch of chicken. I also reserved the broth for use in a few of the recipes we were making. Don’t let it go to waste. We ended up freezing the remaining 2 cups of broth! You could use it in chicken enchiladas!

Cooking the meat!

Half of the cooked beef!

By the time I was done cooking the first wave of chicken and beef, I woke K up from his nap in the family room recliner. He’s my heavy lifter and chopping guru. He use to be a Sous Chef in his former career. So, he’s fast with a knife. Really fast. So fast that I’m kinda jealous. I’m too accident prone with sharp things to even attempt to compete with his skills. He was in charge of chopping the onion and all the chicken. Thankfully, I kept the empty milk jug gallon I just finished and used that to funnel all the ground beef grease into. NEVER pour that stuff down the drain.

Beef grease!

By the time the second batch of ground hamburger was finish, I was started to get tired. Unfortunately, as I dumped the cooked beef in my jumbo mixing bowl, I dumped some of it on the kitchen floor. Guess who got to clean up that mess? Yep, my dog.. Rocco to the rescue. Ugh! It’s ok, I had plenty of beef to share. K decided to make the leftover cooked hamburger (about 2 pounds) into taco meat to freeze into 2 separate quart sized ziplock bags. Once we had all the meat cooked and the onions diced and sautéed in a little of the beef grease (K’s idea!), it was time to start preparing the marinara (in my largest fry pan that I used to cook the beef in) and the chili (in the crockpot). It was 2 hours later when K went to stir and taste test the chili, that he told me what I forgot to add… yep, the chili powder. Oops! Where was my brain at THAT moment? I’m not sure how good the chili will taste but I’m hoping by the time we thaw and eat it, I can tweak it to taste better. haha! I may just stick tater tots & a ton of cheese on the top of it and bake it in the oven on the days we thaw some out. Chili is so versatile, isn’t it? *wink*

Marinara for the Lasagna!

Packaging up the lasagna in 4 foil pans! SIDE NOTE: Yes I crocheted those pot pads!

BONUS NOTE: Make sure you pre-cook enough lasagna noodles for the pans you’re preparing! I cook mine to where they are just pliable because I’m freezing the pans of lasagna. I don’t want the noodles to be mushy when they thaw. I don’t prebake the lasagna before freezing either. I definitely misjudged how many noodles I needed. So, it took two batches. Overall, I think we did pretty good. We worked well as a team without killing each other. K let me be leader in this adventure which was nice. I really wanted this to work. By the time we were done, I was super exhausted. My legs & lower back hurt. We started at 10:30am and finished around 3:30pm. I think I shocked K. I don’t think he thought I would be able to pull this off. I showed him, huh? *wink* And then, I realized I had to get up at 8:30am the next morning for a doctor appointment. UGH! haha!

I was in charge of making space in our freezer. I was able to free up 2 shelves because the freezer was already half empty (or half full!). K was in charge of carrying all the prepared food to the garage and loading the freezer. He only sent me out there because we had to squeeze in one more larger pan of Impossible broccoli pie. I love that stuff. So, I made sure to fit it in the freezer without blocking the vents in the freezer. You have to have enough room the freezer for the cold air to circulate to maintain proper freezer temperature. Overall, we spent $135 on food for this project. We already had about half of the canned goods we needed. The meat alone was about $65. Then the containers cost about $33. The plastic containers are reusuable. Here’s our freezer now:

Lots of meals in our freezer!

The list of meals we made on Monday is as followed:

Impossible Broccoli Pie – 1 big pan made
Broccoli, Chicken & Rice Casseroles – 4 9×5 pans made
Lasagna – 4 9×5 pans made
Taco Soup – saved in 16oz bowls (didn’t count)
Chili – saved in 16oz bowls (didn’t count)
Burrito Pie – 3 9×5 pans
Taco meat – 2 1-quart ziplock bags
The remaining diced cooked chicken breasts in several quart-sized ziplock bags to make chimichangas or chicken quesadillas.

Overall, this adventure was a success and it proved to me that I can do something this major as long as I have some help. Yes I was very drained and I had to sit down a couple of times while I spooning food into containers or writing labels. Would I do this again with help? Yes I think so. I may try a few different recipes though. I don’t think I would try to make so many recipes at once again but K thinks we could do just as much next time. There are somethings I would PRE-MAKE ahead of time the next time we do this. Like, precook and then refrigerate the beef and chicken the day or night before. That would save a lot of time if I could get at least half of the meat cooked ahead of time. I’ll try to get some recipes that I used on my blog later this week.

I hope you enjoyed this episode of This is Christine’s Life! lol! Stay warm everyone. It’s getting cold down here in Texas.

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When I have a surprise burst of energy…

Living On Oxygen for Life

Happy November everyone! I’ve been busy the past week. For the last 3 days I’ve had a burst of energy. I took advantage of it and did some cooking everyday. I started the first day with my trusty crockpot and cooked 2 whole chickens at once! The peeling & chopping of carrots, garlic cloves, & celery took a while but it was the chicken pickin time that took the longest and wore me out. I saved the broth and cut up the rest of my carrots and celery and put those in the fridge for later.

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The next day, I decided to make a Canadian Bacon and Swiss quiche that my older sister had made for us when K had his eye surgery and she came down to help me. She told me she used the Betty Crocker recipe for Quiche Lorraine but used Canadian Bacon instead. I tweaked that recipe by using 5 eggs and only 1 1/2 cups of heavy whipping cream. Plus I used dehydrated onion flakes. My stomach handles the dehydrated onions better than the fresh onions sautéed. Don’t use pre-shredded Swiss cheese. Get an 8 oz block of Swiss and shred nearly half of it. Prepackaged shredded cheese has an additive in it to keep the cheese from sticking together. The quiche was awesome. I believe the secret ingredient is the 1/8 tsp of cayenne pepper.

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The next day I made homemade chicken noodle soup with the chicken stock from my crockpot. I skimmed off the solid fat from the top of the jellied stock and used about 2 T of it to sauté the carrots and celery that I had already chopped up. I then heated back up the stock to a liquid state in the microwave to strain through a fine mesh strainer. I used the stock plus a 32 oz carton of Swanson’s chicken stock and one can of Swanson’s chicken broth. No water added! It really turned out excellent with egg noodles (thrown in during the last 10 minutes of boiling), salt, pepper, cumin, & thyme.

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Today I was hoping to make something easy I have a recipe from a friend that uses a carrot cake mix and one can of pure pumpkin to make muffins. Sounds yummy! But I feel extra tired today. Boo… I’ve been on such a roll!

I’m freezing half the chicken noodle soup in 2 separate serving sized containers and I already froze the crockpot chicken in 2- 10.3 ounce packages for later when I feel the urge to cook.

I’m starting to think of cooking as what can I make for tonight’s dinner that I can make extra to freeze for the days I’m not up to cooking. Meatloaf is handy, chicken enchiladas or just the meat mixture prepared and froze that can be used for tacos or burritos. Beef tips and gravy freezes well too (see below) and K loves it with rice that we make the night we eat it. On the days that I know we have leftovers to eat for dinner, I’ll sometimes prep a meatloaf to freeze before baking and that way it saves me time and energy when I just don’t have a lot of on bad breathing days.

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So, maybe later I’ll get up from my nap and make those muffins which will be baked in my mini muffin pan OR I’ll make Rice Krispie treats. Either way… yum!

Remember… November is PULMONARY HYPERTENSION AWARENESS MONTH. So, Be Aware for those of us who have PH that we are RARE! For more information about Pulmonary Hypertension go to Pulmonary Hypertension Association Organization

When you least expect it…

Living On Oxygen for Life

Sometimes life throws us a curve ball and how we react to that can really show us how much of a team we are. We’re not just married and love each other; we are all-in through thick and thin with all the rollercoasters and good times that make up our life.

Throughout this year, K has been telling me that he really, really needs a vacation on a beach. He’s experienced an emergency visit to an ER clinic for himself at which time I had to bail on him because I developed a MASSIVE migraine while waiting in the patient room with him. Thank goodness his sister came to our rescue so that I could go home leaving him there alone until she got there. (I felt so guilty!) He’s had to deal with working in 100+ degrees heat over the summer. There’s also been my up and down health with the fact that I could no longer do the chores around the house that I used to do, which meant that K had to do them. That’s not all of it but you get the gist, right? So, yeah, he really needed a beach vacation.

I told K that, with the way our budget looked, we were going to have to get creative about being able to afford going on vacation. I knew he really needed it but I was concerned, not only for the financial aspect, but also I wasn’t sure if I could make the 10-hour drive this year. I didn’t want to say no. He works so hard and does so much for me. Thus, came his idea. Out of the blue he said that he wants my help in selling all his McFarlane action figures on eBay and that’s what we did.

We got incredible lucky with a German buyer who bought 5 really large boxes filled with K’s action figures, earning enough money to pay for the hotel in South Padre Island. We actually earned quite a bit of money! So, everything was looking good for our vacation plans. That is until K mentioned a little problem a week and a half before we were to leave.

K had noticed some floaters in his GOOD eye and he knew that he was suppose to call the Optometrist right away. They got him in the next morning. A few hours later, I got a phone call from K while he was in the doctor’s office, asking me if I had already taken my diuretic. *cue the drama music* Luckily, I was still in bed because it was only 10am. (Hey… I sleep in! Don’t hate me because I can! *wink*) He wanted me to get up *UGH*, get dressed and he was on the way home to pick me up because he needed eye surgery within a few hours. *Wait..what????*

I was freaking out. I was worried about K having to go through surgery again, having enough energy to be in the waiting room, having to run all the prescription pickups, taking care of K after surgery and then of course paying the copay bill of the surgery, the doctor and the anesthesiologist. What worried us the most was the amount of time K was going to have to take off work. Sick leave and vacation pay only covered most of it but it’s the few days that was unpaid that worried us.

We are NOT rich but we just sold a huge amount of K’s action figures and we had that money but that means we had to cancel our anniversary/my birthday vacation that I just reserved. That hurt… In fact, I cried.

But looking back at this whole situation, this whole thing felt like everything aligned just for this moment. Somebody up there was looking out for us. We’re not out of the woods yet but this shows us how well and how much of a team we are.

Not only K and I are a team but also K’s sister and my sisters too. My older sister came down and cooked 2 quiches and a huge pan of lasagna so that I didn’t have to cook. My sisters and mother kept texting me encouraging support to me, which helped a lot. I’ll try to blog more often. You can catch me on my Living on O2 for Life Facebook page or ChristineLovesDaisies Instagram if you have those apps.

So, this is why I’ve been mostly quiet. I don’t like posting things that seem negative or stressful but I wanted to let you know that we’re ok and alive. =o) Lots of love to you all! *hugs* FYI: if you start seeing a lot of floaters in your eyes, that could be from tears in or a detached retina. Get it checked out ASAP (within a few days!)

It’s blazin’ hot here…

Living On O2 for Life

For the past two weeks or so it’s in the upper 90s and in a few days the forecast is 105 degrees. What that means for me is: Stay indoors with the a/c cranked. Well, that’s what I would usually do but life has a way of creating drama. You know, the kind of drama like your “Check Engine Soon” light coming on when I least expected it. Then there’s the strawberry plants that stopped producing! What? I know… I was nearly devastated. haha! There’s more drama that happened but I don’t want to bore you. I want to tell you about the fun stuff!

K and I were fortunate enough to be able to visit with one of my cousins and her family while they were here with their church. There was a choir event that we went to and wow were the kid who sang good! We had a great time catching up. I hadn’t seen them in over 18 years.

You know from the last post that I’m slowly increasing my experience in yeast bread. Well… I experimented with making Honey Oatmeal Wheat rolls. Unfortunately, K doesn’t like wheat or oatmeal in his bread. Lesson learned! So, I shared them with his mother. See picture in the right column under Instagram. If you scroll down you’ll see them. It was a lot of fun! We also ate our first two ears of corn that K grew. Our experiment with growing corn has been successful thus far. We have 7 more ears left growing from a separate, later planted seeds. Whew.. they were delicious and I hope we plant more next year. I’m making quite the farmer out of my man. I’m SO proud!

Unfortunately, one of our pond goldfish kicked the bucket. He was floating belly up one day and we still don’t know why or what caused it. Rest in peace little man… But, we still have 7 left… so… HOORAY Goldfish! haha! My newest Need a Hug afghan is coming along nicely. I already have the recipient in mind to ship it to. I’m hoping to get it finished within a month. *fingers crossed*

This past week has been terribly hot and humid. It’s been trying to rain but in our area it’s only coming down in the lightest sprinkle occasionally which is making it HARD for me to breathe and tired a lot. I want to try to get that yummy Cinnamon Swirl Bread made today. K said, “Double to the cinnamon swirl!” So, if I’m not too tired, I’ll make it today and increase the swirl! haha! I’m going to share half of it with K’s mom. She really liked my first loaf. YAY!

Be well and be careful with this heat. *hugs*

My adventure today…

Living On Oxygen for Life

This was my adventure today. I made cinnamon swirl bread because K asked me to try to make it. It came out a little muffin-topped but when it cooled down a bit I cut a slice off and ate it warm with butter. It’s delicious even though I forgot to add salt. Oops! I read that it makes great French toast. Uh, who doesn’t like French toast???

From start to finish, this bread took me 3 hours to make. While I waited for the rise time to finish, I rinsed the dishes I used and ran a load of laundry through the washing machine. I’m still getting use to our new high-efficiency washing machine that looks like it barely uses enough water to dampen the clothes and has no real clothes agitator. Is it just me or do you wonder how or if the clothing even gets clean? It boggles my mind.

It’s definitely quiet time now at 5:30 pm and I’m ready for a power nap. So, I’m going to strap on my bipap machine with my oxygen and lie down to recharge enough to make dinner in about an hour or so. It feels like it’s been a long day.

I hope everyone has had a good day so far!

The Weekend with Company

Living On Oxygen for Life

I had my older sister and her family in town for a visit this last weekend and had a great time. However, I could tell almost right away that my health has drastically changed since the last time they visited. It was a real eye-opener for me and quite discouraging too.

Thankfully, I was already in the habit of preparing in advance a meal or two to be able to pull out of the fridge or freezer and heat up. Mostly, these were for dinner. I have found this to be extremely time and energy efficient for me. Well, really, for everyone. My sister now knows that I can’t help her much in the kitchen and still have energy to talk with her. I get pretty short of breath. So, after dinner, she would have me go sit down and she would take over to clean the whole kitchen.

One thing I’ve learned about both of my sisters is that when they do something at my house for me, it’s because they want to. Mainly because they don’t want me to wear myself out just because they are there to visit and because they actually WANT to do it.

It’s just like my older sister to bring me her special Christmas cookies as part of my Christmas gift from her. Before I was even able to get one, everyone started eating them. I was like… Heeeyyyy… *pout* They are that good. I was willing to share but gee wiz. So, she went to the store to buy all the ingredients that I didn’t already have to make another batch for me. Yay!!! As she’s whipping up another batch of sugar cookie dough, I was amazed at how easy it was for her and she wasn’t even tired! I had to go sit down after a little bit of watching, help with cleaning, and holding the cookie pans so that my niece and sister could place the cookies on each pan. I helped Frost some too but my niece did all of the Sprinkles artwork!

Christmas cookies

After they left for home, I was so tired but I had stuff to do Monday and we ended up having to take Rocco to the vet on Tuesday because he tweaked his back and we wanted to make sure he hadn’t damaged anything. He’s going to be ok. No jumping for a while.

So, today is recovery day. I’m resting all of today. I already told K not to even ask me to do anything or go anywhere because I just needed one whole day of quiet rest. I’m going to post the recipe of one of the dinners I premade for my sister’s visit in case you want to try it. It will be under the In the Kitchen link of my blog’s menu. Beef Tips is what I made and my sister asked for the recipe. I’ll try to get my enchiladas recipe on here too but I’ll do that in a few days. Take care everyone.

The Beast Within… (repost)

Living On Oxygen for Life – a repost from 2016 because this is so important to read if you are dealing with anxiety and control issues.

Over the past 10 years or so, this beast inside me has grown and mirrored the decline of my health. It all started with what I thought was constant worrying. You know… when you have to time how much your oxygen will last? Well, that can make you worry about checking your oxygen tank a LOT when you are out having fun. Then I would worry about how long my energy will last while I was out having fun. Can I walk that far in the mall or in the hospital for doctor appointments? Will K get upset if I need to stop to sit down for a few minutes. I know the last one is kind of an irrational worry. Of course K wouldn’t get upset but he did try to push me to walk a little further before stopping which only made me feel like he wasn’t taking my need to stop seriously. My health wasn’t as progressed as it is now. So, pushing me a little bit further was a good thing that K was doing. It’s just when I was tired and felt like I needed a break, no knows how I felt except me.

I turned all this worrying about so many things in my life into trying to control everything around me. I felt like I needed to manage everything so that I had enough energy for things that I had to do around the house and the things that I wanted to do with K. I wanted to know where we were going when we were out of the house, what route we were going, and even how K drove. I needed advanced warning when K wanted us to go out to have fun so that I can be sure to rest up during the day. But all that wasn’t working. Trying to control everything turned into Anxiety because there is no way that I could control everything, be happy and not irritate those around me.

It’s taking a long time to learn to let go of the control issues. K reminds me by saying that he “Gets it.” and “I will always take care of you. I always have your best interest as my priority.” It has helped me a lot with him saying this to me. I have to remind myself of what he said over and over because my memory doesn’t retain information as well as it use to. So, when I get into my vehicle with K, I will remind myself that he has my six. *wink* Giving up the control and learning to trust is a very hard thing to do for me because I feel as if I’m losing more of my independence. However, as long as we have fun in our lives, all will be ok.