Let’s Catch Up! July 2017

Let’s Catch Up! July 2017

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Hello my friends, let’s catch up!

I feel like I’ve been really distant from the blog this year, and I felt compelled to write a post to catch up with what’s been going on in 2017. I love to cook and share recipes with you all. I appreciate your patience and your readership. It truly means a lot.

They say life is all about balance. I struggle to find balance sometimes and life gets in the way. How is it August already? No matter what I do these days it seems like life is passing by so fast. It’s almost like I’m staggering to stand up straight. Do you ever feel that way too?

I have a lot of fellow blogging friends feeling the same. Some of them haven’t blogged all summer. Managing a blog is not the easiest thing in the world. Sometimes we get blogger burn out (yes it’s a thing). I don’t think anyone can be creative all day, everyday and if they are they have a team of people working together, in a professional environment.

Blogging is not my full-time job. Someday I hope it will be, but for now, David and I get up every weekday morning at 5:00 a.m. (O’ Butt-Crack-O-Dawn) and make an hour-long commute into the city for work. It’s almost a twelve-hour day, with eight hours devoted to two great employers and two hours spent on the road. That’s over 500 miles and over ten hours a week in our little Kia Soul commuter car we call Magoo.

Friends, Let's catch up! I’ve been distant from the blog this year, and I feel compelled to write a post to catch up with what’s been going on in 2017.  | TheMountainKitchen.com

Some of you may recall I was putting together a weekly newsletter called The Mountain Moments. Perhaps you subscribed to it? I had good intentions. I thought it would give my readers more of a summarized version of the posts here on the blog. Sadly, I could not keep up with it and had to let it go. Maybe one day I will try it again.

I also took some time off from blogging earlier in the year and although I’m posting a little more now, my posts are mostly just sharing recipes with very little insight as to what’s been going on in our life here on the mountain. It’s not intentional, it’s all about precious time. Life gets in the way sometimes.

The other night I had two feedback messages waiting for me, when I logged into WordPress. One of the messages was from someone in California, and the other was from someone all the way from France. Each of them had comments about recipes and one even pointed out a typo (insert embarrassed face here). I replied to each and have since heard back from both of them. These two email messages reminded me why I love to blog. I love interacting with people all over the world. I love meeting new people and learning about their walks of life. My blogging spirit has been rejuvenated. I cannot tell you what it means to me to have people take time out from their day to comment on things they find here at TheMountainKitchen.com. It’s pretty humbling.

So, let’s catch up! Grab a cup of coffee or glass of wine, and let me share what’s been going on so far this year:


Cutting Trees

A few years ago, David purchased a nice Stihl chainsaw to cut down trees that were encroaching our view of the mountains and valley beyond. It’s so dangerous and watching David cut the trees made so nervous, but I clenched my teeth and picked up my feet as I watched the trees fall from the deck.

This spring, we decided to take down two more trees that have been irking our nerves, probably since day one. David should have taken them down when he cut the others, but I didn’t really press him to do it since it makes me so nervous for his safety. As you can see from the pictures below, the two trees he took down this year made a huge difference in our view.

We are thrilled with the results!

Friends, Let's catch up! I’ve been distant from the blog this year, and I feel compelled to write a post to catch up with what’s been going on in 2017.  | TheMountainKitchen.com

Check out the video of one of the trees falling. If you look closely you can see David down at the base of the tree wearing a bright orange Stihl helmet.

Hydrangeas and Lilies For the First Time!

It has taken almost 5 years for these poor hydrangea bushes to grow and bloom like this. Between the deer and the frost they don’t stand a chance, but thanks to some old sheets, during the late spring and the deer changing their migration patterns, they are in full bloom!

Friends, Let's catch up! I’ve been distant from the blog this year, and I feel compelled to write a post to catch up with what’s been going on in 2017.  | TheMountainKitchen.com

My mama rooted these two hydrangea bushes from her bush. The same bush I used to pull the leaves off of, cake with mud, just like you would batter and pretend to fry like a fish. I’ve always loved to cook, even when it was only mud and an imagination.

It’s so cool to have bushes in my own yard from that one. Brings back lots of childhood memories and it makes me happy.

Friends, Let's catch up! I’ve been distant from the blog this year, and I feel compelled to write a post to catch up with what’s been going on in 2017.  | TheMountainKitchen.com

I also have lilies in bloom for the first time in five years, since I planted them!


Freshening up the Barn

I really wanted a garage when we were trying to buy a house, but after we found this lot, I realized that I loved it more than a garage. Instead of a garage, we built a 12 x 12 storage shed to match the house, with the same log siding. The keyword being “MATCH”. Long story short, David and I tried to save a few measly dollars and stained our barn with a different stain than was used on the house. We told ourselves it was ok, but it really wasn’t. This spring, our poor little barn was sun-damaged and was started to look weathered. We spent the money on the good stain this time, pressure washed it, re-caulked some places and David added gutter to help with water drainage and mud spatter.

Here’s how it looks now:

Friends, Let's catch up! I’ve been distant from the blog this year, and I feel compelled to write a post to catch up with what’s been going on in 2017.  | TheMountainKitchen.com

A HUGE improvement. We also added the tin “S” at the top. I had that stupid letter lying around for two or three years, not knowing exactly where to put it. I love its new home! What do you think?


Deck Remodel

After lots of thought, David and I have decided to remodel our deck. We are making some huge changes that will allow us to enjoy the outdoors again. You may have even pictures in my Instagram Stories of the progress so far with this hashtag: #SpiveyDeckProject2017

When you are almost 1000 feet closer to the sun, and there is no shade, things tend to get rather hot and more intense. Our poor deck, was also looking weather-beaten and required treatment every year. We used the same product we originally we put on our barn, which is crap or at least it was in the blazing sun on our mountain. During the winter the deck got a black mildew look to it. How does wood grow mildew in direct sunlight? It had to be from the stain we put on it sealing in moisture. I don’t know, but it made our five-year old deck look like shit!

Friends, Let's catch up! I’ve been distant from the blog this year, and I feel compelled to write a post to catch up with what’s been going on in 2017.  | TheMountainKitchen.com

Regardless, of a poor choice in protectant, our deck was really starting to look bad. Our favorite spot outside had become an eyesore. The aesthetics was one reason, but our main reason was the blazing hot sun. We could not enjoy sitting outside, until late in the evenings after the sun went down behind the trees. Since having Melanoma, I try to stay out of the sun whenever possible. The umbrella table helped some, but for three to four hours a day we received angled sunlight that the biggest tilt of the umbrella would never hide and I would still need to slather down in SPF 1000 and avoiding sun is better to me than applying sunscreen which always tends to fail in some way.

The remodeled deck will address these issues and give us more entertainment space. We are very excited about this project. It’s taking a lot longer to get done than we thought, but hopefully things will start rolling now. I will share the finished results with you when it is finished, so stay tuned…


José Jalapeño on Zee Deck

Have no fear, José is alive and well!

I didn’t realize until my cousin asked about José , that I hadn’t given an update on him in over a year. If you aren’t familiar with José , José is my jalapeño plant that somehow I have kept alive for over three years now (is this a record?) He’s planted in a pot, so I can bring him inside and sit him in front of our basement door for sunlight. I try my best not to forget about him and water him two to three times a week. He goes pretty dormant.

This spring I was rather concerned, some type of mite had gotten a hold of him and did some pretty strange things with the leaves. When the weather got warm enough, I took him outside washed him and let him sit outside for a few days. The mites vanished, but José wasn’t looking too good.

Friends, Let's catch up! I’ve been distant from the blog this year, and I feel compelled to write a post to catch up with what’s been going on in 2017.  | TheMountainKitchen.com

I noticed last year that he had begun to outgrow his pot, when i change the potting soil. After the mites were gone, I purchased a larger pot, and some fresh potting soil. I broke José out of his pot, he had definitely outgrown it. The roots were wrapped in circles around and around inside the pot. After a few weeks, in the new soil, I gave him some plant food and away he went! The yellowed leaves were replaced by lush dark green leaves and blooms budded all about.

Once the deck is complete, I will return him to his rightful place “on zee deck”, but for now he gets the morning and mid afternoon sun in the border, beside the house. He’s dangling with small jalapeños at this very moment. I’ve been using the fresh jalapeños quite a bit lately. Jose’s peppers are small, but they are packed with delicious jalapeño spice.

Friends, Let's catch up! I’ve been distant from the blog this year, and I feel compelled to write a post to catch up with what’s been going on in 2017.  | TheMountainKitchen.com
Tip: Buy large dollar store sponges cut them up and put them in the bottom of your potted plants. The sponges help hold water for the plant and create space at the bottom of the pot, so that you don’t have to fill it completely with soil, which makes the pot heavier. I do this with all my potted plants now, it’s great!


Surviving After Melanoma

June brought my three-month skin check and six month check up at the Inova Melanoma and Skin Cancer Center in Fairfax, Virginia. As always, I was nervous about the appointment and my blood pressure reflected that. I’m still working on Overcoming my fear of Melanoma; it hasn’t gotten any easier.

At this skin check, I pointed out a pink spot under my eye that was concerning me. It had come up a few months prior, but remained pink and would peel a little at times. He recommended we freeze it off and hope that would take care of it. Other than that, my dermatologist did not find anything else concerning.

My oncologist felt of my lymph nodes and massaged the scar on my leg where my Melanoma was removed, to check for unusual lumps. He found everything to be ok and wrote up an order for my usual LDH blood test and chest x-ray.

The practitioner came in and froze the spot on my face under my eye and away I went to get my x-rays. I managed to squeeze in before they shut the doors. The radiology department is first come first serve and they were closing for the day. I was glad to get the x-ray over with, so I didn’t have to worry about it anymore.

The next day, I received a call from my dermatologist directly. I was startled when he answered on the other end of the line and my heart immediately jumped into my throat. He was reviewing the notes from my visit the day prior and recommended that I get put on the schedule for an appointment, just in case the place on my face did not go away. The melanoma center books up quickly, so it was a proactive measure just in case the spot was still there after three to four weeks.

Stop right there! Let’s process what just happened: Instead of pushing this off on a practitioner or nurse, he initiated the phone call and scheduled the appointment. No receptionist, no nurse, just a damn good doctor doing his job! AMEN DOC!

I have a lot of issues with the United States health care system, all of which I will keep to myself, but this spoke volumes about his concern for my well-being. I could not ask for better care. For that I am truly thankful and blessed.

I haven’t had my LDH blood test yet. My oncologist was able to review the blood work I had just done a few weeks before with my brand new PCP through the Inova health care system. He was happy with my numbers and said to just wait until I did another blood test to get it checked. I will get it done in the next month or so.

The x-rays checked out and I am happy to show you a before and after shot of the spot under my eye. I know the photo quality isn’t the greatest, but the spot is virtually gone, just a tiny red dot, from what appears to be a blood vessel.


Friends, Let's catch up! I’ve been distant from the blog this year, and I feel compelled to write a post to catch up with what’s been going on in 2017.  | TheMountainKitchen.com

However, I am keeping the appointment that is scheduled for next week, because I have a small pink spot on my arm that appears and acts suspicious. I will have my dermatologist examine it. I am not ignoring anything like that again. I will let you know how that checks out.


His Royal Highness

Despite our best efforts, our poor Atchee Boy is now completely blind. It is sad, but it also amazing just how well he has adjusted, and that makes it a little easier. The poor guy bumps into everything, but he still goes all over the house and even up and down the basement stairs for food, water and litter.

In his 18 years, he has become very schedule oriented. His Royal Highness tries his best to keep David and I on his schedule, letting us know when it’s time for bed at night. He gives us some slack in the morning now though. He knows when it’s time for his medication, which he doesn’t mind taking, especially the tuna flavored compounded blood pressure meds, which he loves thanks to his great vet and WeCare Pharmacy.

Friends, Let's catch up! I’ve been distant from the blog this year, and I feel compelled to write a post to catch up with what’s been going on in 2017.  | TheMountainKitchen.com

The medication regimen takes its toll on David’s and my ability to travel. It’s kind of hard to say to a friend or neighbor, “Hey do you mind going over to my house and sticking you hand down my cat’s throat twice a day?” and I am not sure what it would do to the poor cat if I were to board him somewhere. Without his medications, I fear a spike in his blood pressure, not to mention what not having his thyroid medication would do. So, until I find someone I trust or someone willing to care for him on his turf,  I refuse to leave him for more than 24-hours without his medication. We really love being at home, so not being able to travel like we would like isn’t all that bad.

Oh and by the way, don’t let his “purr-pad” become “unfresh”. He will demand it be changed and did so this morning. I’m not even joking about this spoiled rotten thing!

He makes us laugh daily, even though I spend a lot of time worrying about him. His resilience is something to behold. He’s quite an amazing creature and we are thankful for each day we have with him on this side of the rainbow bridge.


Beni Bunny

Last spring, I wrote about the little bunny refugee we had living under our front porch.  The little thing was so cute! The bunny was scared of us, but never really ran off when we went outside. I fed the poor thing carrots and eventually the rabbit disappeared, or so I thought.

I suppose the little thing never forgot about the sweet carrots I fed it, because for the last few months, he or she has been paying us early morning and evening visits for more carrots. The bunny practically comes up to the steps begging for carrots and just the other night I almost had her eating from my hand.

I wish I could tell whether or not it was a boy or girl, that is why I gave it the name Beni with an “i”. I suppose if we wake up one morning and there are bunnies everywhere, we will know if it’s Benny Bunny or Beni Bunny for sure. Time will tell!

Here’s a video of me feeding Beni Bunny carrots:


After reading all that you are probably passed out from too much wine or caffeined up from too much coffee. I tend to get a little long-winded sometimes. I guess this pretty much sums up what’s been going on with us for now.

So, what have you been up to this summer? Have you been on vacation yet? What have you cooked lately worth mentioning? Comment below or send me an email. I’d love to hear what’s going on with you too!

I have tons of recipes to share with you and a few other posts I’m toying with I’d like to share. Hopefully I will be able to share those soon. Thanks for your patience with me and thanks for reading this blog. You’re so kind!

Love and good eats,

The Mountain Kitchen
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27 thoughts on “Let’s Catch Up! July 2017”

  • Love this post Debbie! I hear ya on blogger fatigue – especially in the summertime, when all I want to do is be outside grilling or gardening. This post also made me want a jalapeno plant and a pet bunny. I’m going to start putting carrots out. 😀

  • Thanks for the catch-up! I’m chuckling here……Did you mean to use protestant instead of protectant???? LOL

  • Having followed your blog for several months, I’ve and decided to see a dermatologist to begin investigating a few spots. I’m sure it is okay but better safe than sorry. Thanks for being so open and honest about melanoma.

    • Hi Sandra! I’m so glad to hear that you are going to get checked. Never brush anything unusual on your skin off. Catching skin cancer early is the key. You can never be too safe. My hope is to save someone else from going through what I did or even worse. Thanks for reading and let me know how things go with your visit! <3

  • A fine post! I enjoy getting a peak into the goings on and daily life there on the mountain. Lots of stories to tell! Yeah, I think sometimes it’s good to take a step back from the blogging thing. Lots of people do that. And then when you start writing again, remember to just write what you’re passionate about. That’s probably the best advice I ever heard about blogging. Make it about a subject you love, because it’s a long road that which demands much patience. So might as well be about stuff you enjoy. I think you’ve been doing that for years now.

    Good to hear Jose is doing fine!! That’s funny.

    And hey to David!

  • I’ve been Melanoma Cancer Free since 2004 but even today it’s very worry some for my yearly exams and ct’s. After having cancer I guess the dread and worry never goes away! Nice catching up on your blog!

  • I’m glad to hear about your check-ups turning out well. It’s scary, but good to take care of things when they are “small”. We enjoy your recipes at our house. I’ve never written to tell you, so am doing it now! The really popular dish is the Cajun sheet pan recipe. It’s always a big hit!
    I’m sorry to hear about your dear kitty. My cairn terrier is also totally blind, and we’ve had to make adjustments for him but he seems to be happy most of the time. Thanks for all the updates!

    • Hi Paula! Thanks for introducing yourself. The Cajun sheet pan recipe is one of our favorites too. Easy and delicious, it’s a win-win! I’m sorry your dog has gone blind. It is hard to watch a pet’s declining health, but at the same time it’s amazing to watch how resilient they can adapt. I’m glad to catch up with you! Thanks for reading. 🙂

  • Good to know there was nothing alarming. I pray it stays that way. I have enjoyed reading your update and seeing the tree fall, the bunny eating…can I borrow it to eat my dandelions? Have a wonderful week and be blessed!

  • Debbie! This was just what I needed. I, too, have been feeling stifled. This post is the perfect reminder of what “it” is all about. Connections!

    Your hydrangeas are making me swoon!!! We have a bush about the same size with purple ones. Just so gorgeous. Your shed looks amazing, and the S is the perfect touch. SO HAPPY JOSE IS ALIVE AND WELL I HAVE BEEN THINKING OF HIM. & I still don’t have my own jalapeno plant dagnabit. So pleased YOU are doing well.

    You’re a star!

  • Welcome back my friend, I’ve missed the mountain and its’ inhabitants. Glad everything is going well. The garage looks better than most peoples homes and I can’t wait to see the deck! I’ve really been taking it easy too. There are a few souls around but nothing like the fall so after fighting a bit of burn out in June I’ve decided I do this because I love it and the people too!

  • Hey Debbie and David and Atchee,
    It sounds like you have some exciting projects lined up. I know you can’t wait. I am so sorry to hear about Atchee. We just found out that our Great Dane has bone cancer and has a huge tumor on his leg. The vet said we may have two more months. He is the sweetest guy, and is still wanting to play and love on us, and he eats everything we give him. He’s 7. I am having a really hard time, watching that tumor grow. Because of his size, it is inoperable. It’s the size of a baseball now. I hope you and David enjoy the rest of your summer! It was good to see this post in my inbox.

    • Hi Sherri!! So good to hear from you too. I’m sorry to hear about your dog. I hope he will not suffer to much. It’s so hard feeling helpless. We will keep you all in our thoughts and prayers. Love you!

  • Well you’ve had a LOT going on! I can’t even comment on everything, but so glad to hear you’re in good medical hands and doing better. I’ve had quite a scare in the past. HRH certainly looks comfy and he does sound very pampered! My Homer has always rejected sleeping pads and beds even when I put them right in the spots she usually sleeps in. But give her a small cardboard box and she’s in heaven!

    And those flowers!! I’ve not been able to grow them at my house – I just can’t figure out why…I think that because one side of my land drops off it creates a wave of cold air; everything grows and blooms later than my neighbors and some plants are already iffy in the Minnesota winters.

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