Friday, April 11, 2014

Before Herschel wormed his way into our hearts, there was a Herschel before him. His half brother actually.


Herschel I was born April 11th 2013. Back then he was known as Puppy Green. He was to have come home with us in early June last year. Sadly,  the day he was to come home, he caught Parvo and died. Our Herschel's full name is Herschel Green II in memory of his older brother. 

As Herschel I's litter mates celebrate their first birthdays today, I find myself wondering what our first Herschel would have been like. Would he be huge and goofy like his namesake or perhaps smaller like his sisters and more reserved? What I do know is he will always have a place in my heart along with my other lost furry loves.

Happy Birthday little guy! I bet you would have been a superstar. 



Saturday, February 15, 2014

Valentine's Day this year was a little different. The Boy and I are trying hard to lose weight and regain the svelte bodies we had when we met over 20 yrs ago. This means calorie counting which puts a wrench in our usual Valentine's Day tradition. Renzo wanted to scrap plans entirely but I endeavoured to find a low calorie dinner that held up to our Valentine's Day standards. This also meant that I was the only one cooking this year and we would both be eating the same meal.

After a 2 week search, I finally settled on a meal and dessert that would fit into our daily allowed calorie plans. A bonus was that it only took about 45 mins to prepare the main dish and while we ate dessert baked in the oven. This was good for my autoimmune defeated body. While the Orencia IV has been working, it sadly is no match for the Polar Vortex that has plagued us this winter. So I needed to be careful not to use too much energy or cause myself too much pain by just making dinner. It sounds silly I know but just making dinner one night, and the post dinner clean up etc puts me in bed for at least a day sometimes two if I overdo it. Renzo laughs at how exhausted I am from just making a simple meal but sadly this is my and many Rheumatoid Disease patients' reality.

For our meal I prepared Chipotle Crusted Pork Tenderloin for 206 calories per serving. I halved the recipe. It was very good although next time I will use less chipotle as it was a bit too spicy for my sensitive tummy. I served the pork with Sautéed Green Beans with Tomatoes for 57 calories per 1/2 cup and Mushroom Orzo "Risotto" for 217 calories per serving. I divided the orzo into 6 side dish size servings rather than 4 main course side servings. Total calories for the meal was a mere 480 calories and it was delicious!



For dessert, I originally was going to make 100 calorie Chocolate Cupcakes frosted with 1/2 tbsp of Nutella for 50 calories. However, after chopping veggies and mixing the orzo non stop for 30 mins, my joints were screaming. So I opted for a batch of Betty Crocker Hershey Peanut Butter Brownies for 160 calories frosted with 1 tsp of Nutella for an additional 33 calories. I made the brownies double their serving size of 1/16th of a pan however I did not use the oil  so the calories ended up being the same as if I had made the smaller brownies. These too were yummy. I will freeze the remaining brownies for when we want a little treat in the future. 



Dinner and dessert totalled a mere 673 calories so a success diet wise. Perhaps dinner wasn't as fancy as our usual Valentine fare but it was still a nice evening with my Loverbunny! 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

It has been a long while since I have updated regarding my Rheumatoid Autoimmune Disease. Lots of changes have occurred. I have a voice usually 90% of the time. I still have my bad days of course but it is much improved.

I have ventured into the world of Biologics. For the un Rheum initiated, Biologics are the highest level of meds available for RAD. They are medications, usually administered via injections or IV infusion that are biologically synthesized rather than chemically. They attack specific cells in the body to stop the disease process. I started Remicade in December 2012.  Remicade attacks the TNF-a cells in the body. I managed to completed 6 bimonthly infusions before serious allergic reactions forced me to stop. With Remicade I was able to achieve a glorious 6 weeks of relief. It was heaven! I was quite upset when I was forced to stop and start over with a new medication. I am now on Orencia IV. I just completed my 4th infusion. Orencia is given monthly instead of bimonthly and attacks the body's T cells. It has only just started to work in the last month so I am cautiously optimistic. Unfortunately I showed signs of an allergic reaction during my last infusion so we now proceed with caution. As I am allergic to so many unidentified things, my choices for medication are limited.

With the biologics, I have been able to reduce my need for Tramadol by half. I hope to one day not require it at all but for now I celebrate this small victory. I am still on NSAID's daily, in addition to various supplements and eye drops for my accompaning Sjögrens Syndrome.

The jump to Biologics was a scary one. These medications are very expensive. Each monthly Orencia IV infusion costs just under $5,000. That is the cost of just the medication and not the IV nurse, supplies needed to infuse it etc. If I wasn't lucky to have excellent insurance, I would never be able to afford it. I again applaud Canada's Health Care system for covering all costs of the infusions except for the actual medication. My friend's in the US likely pay more per infusion as they also have to pay for the clinic visit, use of the IV nurse and of course the supplies needed to infuse. Yes we Canadians may have to wait a bit to see some doctors but I will take that any day over having to pay for my health care.

In addition to expense, Biologics have some scary side effects and possibly allergies. Biggest threat is cancer. With Orencia I am at risk for lung cancer and lymphoma, Hepatitis, Tuberculosis amongst other things. To have to weigh the threat of these diseases against the attack of the disease you already have can be demoralizing. I delayed the jump to these medications for 5 yrs partly because of the risks. But you get to a point where you just can't take the daily raging of your body anymore and are willing to do and try anything for relief. I am at that point and am please to say so far, I have been successful.

Thursday, August 15, 2013









Saturday, August 03, 2013

Things have been a bit hectic around here the last couple of months and this little dood is a big reason why.




Introducing Herschel. He is a F1b Goldendoodle full of energy and love. We were told he would weigh between 35-40lbs full grown but he weighs 20lbs at just 3 months old so we suspect he will top out at 50-60lbs.

Herschel and Zoey get along wonderfully which is a relief. It's always scary bringing a new dog into the pack. Thankfully we seem to have completed the transition with ease.







Sunday, March 10, 2013

Valentine's Day came late in the Stitt this year. I was sick for 2 weeks and then the boy wasn't feeling well so our annual feast was delayed by almost a month. We finally celebrated this evening.

This is our 10th year of our tradition so we decided to have a "Best Of" edition where we could choose what we wanted to be served from past menus, still serving different appetizers, main courses and a shared dessert.

I feasted on appetizers of Grilled Flatbread Bruschetta, Fried Goat Cheese and Mixed Green Salad with Balsamic Champagne Mustard Dressing. My main course was Rosemary Goat Cheese Stuffed Organic Chicken with a Wild Mushroom Sauce served with Spinach Pesto Tortellini.








For the boy, I prepared appetizers of Fried Crab Wonton Ravioli served with a Sweet Thai Chilli Sauce and Arugula, Avocado, Smoked Salmon and Toasted Hazelnut Salad with a Balsamic Champagne Mustard Dressing. His main course was Sesame Seared Tuna with Wasabi Ponzu Sauce served with Peas, Shallots and Prosciutto, and Orange Scented Almond Couscous.








Desert for the both of us was Choco-Hoto Pots served with whipped cream and fresh raspberries.




Everything as usual was decadent and delicious. We think next year we will drop the appetizers though and simply have different main courses and a shared dessert. It's simply too much food and we always have leftovers for days. I guess this means we are getting old!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Monday, August 13, 2012

Farfalle
1999-2012

Our little man, our Farfalle passed away this evening. He suddenly developed Diabetes, a condition that for a dog with advancing Cushings disease is a death sentence. 

Only 3 short weeks ago, he was as healthy as a 13yr old dog with Arthritis and Cushings could be. His blood levels were good; he was a happy little guy who was warming up to his new sister. On Friday he stopped eating, seemed to be in pain, was going blind and was lethargic. We watched him over the weekend and when he started vomiting water this morning, we knew it was time to see the vet. Blood work showed he was in severe ketoacidocis (blood sugar was over 40 mmol/L, 720 mg/dl), abdominal ultrasound found gall stones and a problem with his pancreas.  Given the severity of his condition, Dr. McIsaac said it was time to let him go; we would be torturing ourselves and him if we didn't. 

The loss to our household has been devastating. Farfalle has been there for every major moment, good or bad, of our adult lives. We brought him home just 2 days before Renzo and I moved in together. He was our first dog, our first baby. Little Zoey misses her big brother immensely. Just in the last few days of his life, Farfalle had started going up to her, nuzzling her snout, even playing with her in his own unique Farfalle way. We will always have a hole in our hearts, right next to the one left by sweet Bazil; a hole that will never be filled.

Sleep well my Mr. Fella. You were one loved little man who will never be forgotten.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Farfalle turned the big 1-3 today. He's definitely an old man now. He had a mass under his tongue and some moles removed a couple of weeks ago so he looks banged up but he's on the mend and back to almost his same old grumpy self. Everything was benign thankfully.

He celebrated his big day with a dinner of spare ribs and rice, a nice walk around the neighborhood and of course his gorilla. All in all not a bad birthday.

Love you little buddy! xoxo


Sunday, February 19, 2012

The boy and I celebrated our annual Valentine's feast last night. This year was a little different than past years as I had to reveal my menu early so that my love could help me in the preparation. This saddened me as it was one more thing Rheumatoid Autoimmune Disease has taken away from me. I still enjoyed our little tradition with the man I love and that is the most important thing. One day I won't be able to cook at all anymore so I will enjoy every time I am still able to while I can.


Renzo as usual out did himself in making me a meal to remember. At his request, I skipped my Methotrexate and Arava so that I could safely drink alcohol. I am so glad I did. He prepared a delicious Strawberry Maragita to accompany my Southwest themed feast.


My appetizer was a flavourful Tortilla Soup.






My main course was Tequila Lime Chicken served with  Fresh Ranch Salsa and Queso Fresco served with Green Pablano Rice. All of it was delicious!






I, with Renzo's help, prepared him a (sorta) French themed meal. It was accompanied with a crisp Pinot Grigio.


His appetizer was a Blackberry, Arugula and Baby Spinach Salad in a Warm Bacon Red Onion Vinaigrette. The salad was also topped with juicy grape tomatoes, toasted pecans and crumbled goat cheese (I did not add the chicken as it was not a main course).




For his main course, I prepared Grilled Lamb Chops with a Pomegranate Port Reduction served with Roasted Asparagus and Three Cheese Mashed Cauliflower (I used cream cheese, cheddar and parmesan cheese. I also used the immersion blender to give it more of a whipped consistency).






For dessert we both enjoyed Ricotta Marscapone Chocolate Chip Cannoli. I think these were better than the ones we had in New York City made by the Cannoli King of Little Italy




The meal was wonderful! We now can't wait for next year's feast which we have decided will have a "Best Of" theme as it will be the 10th year of our Valentine tradition. 

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