Thursday, August 28, 2008

Make room on the band wagon...

... because more and more companies are climbing on. I found 2 new sodium free marinades on the shelves at Publix this week - Ken's Steakhouse (the folks who make those tasty salad dressings) has come out with a new line of marinades and 2 of them are sodium free! One is lemon pepper and the other is sesame ginger which I tried on shrimp last night and it was extra good. So thank you to Ken's for recognizing the need and putting a little more variety in our menus. They are so new that they're not listed on the company's web site but I intend to send them a thank you note for sure.

I have been disappointed in almost all of the new "Lower sodium" offerings from canned soup to frozen meals and more. Lower sodium doesn't always mean that the sodium content is low enough to be safe for folks like CHF patients. I'm still wary of giving Mama something that has 700+ mgs of sodium per serving and actually I won't usually use anything that has more than 3-400. It's just not that much more trouble to make it from scratch with fresh or frozen ingredients that have little or no sodium. I wonder sometimes what they're trying to hide with all that salt. And it makes me just that more appreciative of the companies who do offer truly low sodium or sodium free alternatives.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Well TS Fay, the tropical trollop, has finally left town although we do still have a bit of rain here and there and the wind kicks up periodically. Feedin' Mama Central was very fortunate especially compared to some folks we know who have been without power for days or have had property damage. And I've located or spoken to most of the older folks from church and everyone is good so that's a relief.

I got some new low-sodium recipes in my inbox and wanted to share them with you. I love pickles. A lot. But they're a no no for Mama so I don't buy them very often. I'm thinking that a trip to the farmer's market is in order so I can test some of these recipes. Thanks to Dick Logue and his Low Sodium Cooking Newsletter! He has even been so kind as to make it available as a Word document here. I think I'll try to make the Bread & Butter Onions first... if you try any let us know how it works at

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Should I stay or should I go?

We here at Feedin' Mama Central are currently in the midst of a long drawn-out encounter with a tropical trollop named Fay. We are in good shape, lots and lots of rain and wind but we still have power and all the trees in the immediate area are still standing. Just got a call from my son Joe to say they have been without power for about 3 hours. That's no fun with a 2-year-old boy and a 3-week-old baby girl. Unfortunately they live on the other side of the St. Johns River from me and the Buckman Bridge at the south end of Jacksonville that runs between their side and mine has been closed by the sheriff's office due to the high winds. We have plenty of food, water, batteries and a plethora of flashlights and other battery-operated lanterns and such so we're fairly well prepared I think.

There are shelters open, especially for special needs folks and that's something to always keep in mind. Shelters for seniors are, in my opinion, a last resort except for those who are oxygen dependent or have other such medical needs. I'm glad they are there and would be grateful for one if I had no other option but I know for sure that Mama would be miserable if we had to do that. I've seen too many news reporters standing in gymnasiums and cafeterias with cots lined up all over the floor and kids running amok and I'm pretty sure that they don't have low sodium options on the menu. There's no possible way Mama could get any sleep in those conditions and when she doesn't sleep she is beyond miserable. So we stay hunkered down unless we were to get an order to evacuate. Even though she's on oxygen at night, we do have an emergency tank for a backup if we did lose power.

Speaking of losing power, we're in another band of squalls and gusts and the lights are flickering so I think I'll post this and come back later as long as I'm able.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Couples and Illness

In my web wanderings I came across a blog post about couples dealing with illness. This part was especially poignant:

They have been each others' salvation for so long that they do not know how to take care of themselves as separate individuals. When the stress of illness is so severe and prolonged, it is critical that each partner put in place a support platform for him or herself. When being together pulls each partner down into a vortex of fear, depression, and uncertainty, each person needs to create a separate safety zone that can provide some nourishment. That zone can include friends, work, activities, therapy, meditation, time in the woods or by a river.

Sometimes, in desperate circumstances, partners have to stand alone in order to hold each other up.

Wow. That is some great insight right there. Follow the link above to read the entire post.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Newspaper Articles

There is an article on the front page of the Florida Time's Union entitled Helping Hands Make It Possible which caught my interest, especially in light of yesterday's post about creative problem solving. It was about two area women who are fighting significant health problems and two things they have in common as they deal with live and illness are their faith in a higher power and in their caregivers. One of the women has a network of caregivers that are managed and scheduled by a friend and her church. The other is being cared for by family members.

The article is the first in a series. Tomorrow's article will be Juggling Caregiving and Work. I look forward to reading it. And I'm very happy that the issue is getting some attention because caregivers need all the help and support they (we) can get.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Get By With a Little Help From My Friends

I said in an earlier post that I would tell you more about the Tool Time Girls. While they are not directly pertinent to this blog, they are an example of finding creative ways to deal with life. And Heaven knows, caregivers have got to be creative in order to handle whatever issue that is presenting itself on any particular day. So here's the story.

One day I was contemplating my situation - a single, female homeowner without a whole lot of DIY-type skills despite an ongoing fascination with HGTV and TLC on television. Also without a lot in the way of financial resources. There was a group of couples at my church who had formed the "Honey-do Club" and they would meet at one of their houses once a month to do home improvement projects. I tried weaseling my way into the club but found it was couples only and you really do have to limit membership or your house might never get any attention. So I rounded up five friends from church, all female homeowners, mostly all with shoestring budgets and proposed that we start our own group and so the Tool Time Girls came to be. And we have done some projects that are hard to believe; we've hung dry-wall on a ceiling, laid flooring, ripped out carpeting, laid new flooring and a sidewalk, installed ceiling fans and plumbing fixtures and painted, painted, painted. In our second year, it became apparent that it wasn't just all about the projects but the fellowship was just as valuable to us. So we decided to take a weekend every August and get away for a retreat and to have some fun. We've been very fortunate to have beach-front condos donated so we just all pitch in with groceries and cooking and go out a time or two if we can afford it. Bringing this group together started with a need I didn't think I could meet but with a little creativity we have found a way to not only accomplish tasks to difficult to do alone but we have also made a unified connection of true friends who work and worship, pray and play together and that, my friends, is priceless. And it came to be because instead of fretting over the obstacles, we were open to a little creative thinking.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Another great link

I just found another site with a lot of excellent and helpful things - Agenet. It covers a pretty comprehensive range of topics. One link in particular is for caregivers and I read an article submitted by a caregiver that was full of good suggestions and ideas. The author summed it up at the end with this list of questions every caregiver should ask him or herself regularly:

  • Am I taking care of myself?
  • Am I assuring there is balance in my life?
  • Am I trying to establish a workable schedule?
  • Am I learning where and how to ask for help?
  • Am I investigating support groups for my family and myself?
  • Am I working on developing patience?
  • Am I learning about the disease and its long-term ramifications?
  • Am I learning from others about how to be a balanced caregiver?
  • Am I able to retain my sense of humor?
  • Am I journaling?
  • Am I aware of my limits?
  • Am I trying to learn how to live elegantly under these trying circumstances?
It's easy to get so caught up in the day to day business of living that we ignore or forget to consider how we are doing and to ensure that we are plugged in to all the resources and support available to us.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Spice of Life

While on the aforementioned 2008 Tool Time Girl Retreat we visited an open air market in the St. Augustine Outdoor Amphitheater last Saturday morning. I stopped at a booth selling spices and discovered a treasure. A Palm Coast based business called Simple Specialties was represented by some very friendly and informative people. I had a great conversation about getting creative with low-sodium cooking and bought a bottle of dried vegetables (made a tasty dip when we got back to the condo) and some dill weed. They have good quality herbs and spices at very reasonable prices. What a find! Their website is nothing fancy and you can't order online just yet but you can download an order form to mail or fax. I'm making a shrimp & pasta salad right now and will use both of my purchases to spice it up and add great flavor. Check them out, they have a great selection so you can get funky (in a creative sort of way) in the kitchen and spice things up!

Friday, August 1, 2008


One of the most important things a caregiver can do is to keep themselves healthy both mentally and physically. And the best advice is to be sure you get time away for yourself on occasion. This is just such an occasion for me as I am headed to St. Augustine Beach for a weekend retreat with my work group, the Tool Time Girls. I'll tell you more about them later, it's a great concept. God bless Sister Mary who is coming up from Gainesville/Trenton to stay with Mama, leaving Bob at home to care for their goats Madam X and Trouble, the dog Buddy and the psycho cat Ashley. Have yourself a great weekend and I'll be back posting on Monday. Maybe with pictures even. Grace and peace to you.