For Thanksgiving we went to my parents' house for a meal with my parents, my brother and his family, and my uncle Billie and his wife. We enjoyed a nice meal that my mom prepared and spent time visiting with the family. I hadn't been able to visit with my Aunt and Uncle for some time, so it was nice to catch up a little with them. They are also raising grandchildren. They have a daughter that lives with them off and on along with her four children. One of the grandchildren is currently in the hospital with a rare condition. They diagnosed him this week with pheochromocytoma, which is a rare tumor of the adrenal gland that secretes epinephrine. They are currently stabilizing his blood pressure and will eventually be looking at removing the tumor. My Aunt and Uncle live on an extremely limited income and my Aunt and I compared notes a little and discussed various recipes for use on a low income budget. One of the foods that I have noticed we receive consistently when we go to the food pantries is canned spinach. I decided to find some ways to be able to use my canned spinach. Unfortunately, canned spinach is not very appetizing to me, but last week I took a can of spinach, a pound of ground beef and a small container of cottage cheese. I mixed that together and stuffed some large pasta shells with the mixture. I portioned out the shells for meals and froze them. I was able to stuff 39 shells with that amount of mixture, for us that translates into 3 meals. Later in the week, I prepared one of those meals by placing the shells in a baking dish and covering them with a jar of alfredo sauce. I covered with aluminum foil and baked for an hour then added some cheese and baked uncovered for another 30 minutes. I did not cook my shells in advance, because I thought they would be easier to work with when I was stuffing them. By making sure all the shells had sauce on them, and covering them to cook for the first hour, the shells were fully cooked. I am also thinking that I will put some of the spinach into some lasagna. In the meantime, we still have two meals of stuffed shells in the freezer for future meals. I shared this recipe with my Aunt, who had no idea what she was going to do with a can of spinach she had on the shelf.
I was also able to search online and tell my Aunt where the next mobile food pantry was going to be in her area. They recently moved and she didn't know where in that area the mobile food pantry stopped. I was able to locate on food-finders.org the schedule for the mobile food pantry, and there will be one coming to her area this coming Friday. I can see as I go through this journey, how I am able to identify resources that I never even knew existed. I'm hoping that familiarizing myself with the resources, will not only help us to get by until I am able to work again, but that I can develop a list of resources that I might refer others to for help. I have to give a little credit though for the people that have been helping guide me on this journey. We have hooked up with an organization called Community Partners and these people have access to and can identify all the resources available in our area that might be able to assist us as we need help. Without these people, this journey could be rough enough to make someone want to just give up. I am finding that navigating through these resources is not the easiest. Having someone that knows how the systems work to give me the information that is available and to help me know what to expect and when I should be questioning things has been invaluable.
Today I spent some time looking at ideas that I might make gifts or repurpose items for gifts for the kids. I'm planning to use up some of my material stores and make some dress up clothes for Carolena and maybe even Derrick. I saw a few good ideas that would be very simple to make and I'm going to work on some of those this week. I'm going to also put together a basket for the kids that has some of my apple butter, strawberry jelly and some blueberry butter I'm planning to make later this week. Most of the gifts under our tree this year are going to be homemade. It's the only way I will be able to afford Christmas. Tomorrow I'm going to the thrift shop and see if I can find some inexpensive beads and baubles to include with Carolena's dress up clothes for jewels.
I intended to post this yesterday, but we ended up spending our day vegetating in front of the television watching the old Christmas specials. It was a nice relaxing day. Today, I'm preparing a turkey for our family as my mom didn't fix turkey at her dinner. I'm not making it very elaborate, just a turkey, some basic sides and a little time spent with my son and his daughter. The other kids weren't able to come. I also received my text books for the journey I'm beginning, working on my Master's in Nursing. I'm looking forward to opening those and starting my reading. It's been a while since I've been in school, but I can actually say I'm looking forward to it.