Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Love Bubble


September 2014

I've been in a love bubble for a couple of years now.  It's totally awesome and I highly reccommend it to anyone wishing for a beautiful love filled life.  Actually, it might not be for everyone, but it is the perfect place for the two of us.

Our days are not spent looking at each other with dewey eyes and a love struck look on our faces, but at some point during the day our eyes will connect and both of us will get a little catch in our breath.  It's right then that love has just come over us like a tidal wave.  I've never experienced such a thing ever before where two people connected so much.  Every fiber of my being is connected to his and we have our own vibration.  I swear I can feel it even when we are separated.

I've been on the love struck end of the relationship many times, but the love interest wasn't.  Maybe they were initially but it didn't stick.  Steve and I have been bouncing around in our love bubble for a couple of years now.  We think it's wildly beautiful.  Our friends probably roll their eyes at us!

After the New Years Eve Party - Jan 1st, 2014

Last year was the year of the selfie for us.  I decided that we needed to get a photo of two of us for each and every month of the year.  That's only 12 months (January, February... December - yep, 12)  but it seemed like I was always trying to take our picture!  I have never liked getting my picture taken so I have precious few photos of me and my friends.  We somehow managed to take a selfie or had a photo taken of us each month last year.  They hardly look different from one another as we are usually seated at a restaurant and we are sporting a goofy grin, but I love that we did it.  One of the significant photo days was November 15th, 2014.  That was the day we got engaged.  

Engaged!

We'd talked about getting married lots of times and just assumed it would happen some day, but goodness, the actual act of asking. making it official. saying yes.  We hadn't done that until that night.

We went out to dinner and were seated in a small room with a table of 20 celebrating an 80th birthday and three two-top tables.  We sat in the back corner, with a view of the room.  The table was almost too big for me to sit across from Steve and actually hear him, so I pulled my chair around to sit next to him while we had our salad or appetizer or whatever it was we had first.  At some point Steve asked what I saw of our future and I was completely tongue tied.  I spit out something like, "Well, pretty much as we are right now - bouncing around in our love bubble and hopefully one of us getting a paying job!" and poor Steve looked at me with such a pained look --- I didn't get it.

November 15th, 2014

It was then that I saw his nervousness and his tenderness.  He was talking about marriage!  Oh goodness, my heart nearly skipped a beat.  We got real close together and started talking about when and how and where and who.  Your Main Course Has Arrived!  Well, that put a new twist into the cozy talk we were having.  I pulled myself back around to the other side of the table so I could eat and we ooh and ahhhed over each bite.  We shared stories and thoughts and plans and ate every bite.  We ordered dessert and I pulled my chair back to his side.  More talking and dreaming.  At some point we realized that the entire room was empty.  We had hardly noticed, we were so wrapped up in our own bubble.  We kissed a million times that evening, but at some point one of us was going to have to ask the question and one of us that it might be fun to ask each other in unison.  So we did and as we said those magical words we got closer and closer and sealed it with a whispered yes and a kiss.

The waitstaff wasn't oblivious to what was going on and we noticed we had an audience.  They took our picture, brought us out a dessert with Congratulations written on the plate, then presented us with a hard copy photo of the picture they had taken.  Then people kept popping their head in to congratulate us.  By the time we finally left the restaurant everyone was just beaming at us.  Love does that to people.

We were engaged.

to be continued...

Read Part 1

Have a great day!
Kristin



The Gift of Life shirt is one of Steve's newest designs.  Share the Gift of Life with your friends and family and tell them that you want to be an Organ, Tissue and Eye donor.  If you'd like more information please go to www.DonateLife.net and see how you can get on the registry.

Please visit our website KNSgear.com

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Chicken Asopao - aka Sazon Goya


I had never used Sazon Goya spice packages before, so when I was introduced to this recipe I ended up nicknaming it Sazon Goya - Also, I wasn't exactly sure how to say Asopao.  Now that I know there are a dozen different Sazon Goya combinations, I see the error of my ways.  Too late though, this dish is our Sazon Goya.


My Mom and I visited with a cousin one weekend and she made us this delicious meal.  I think everyone in my family likes soup - everyone but me.  I like the occasional creamy soup, but broth soup...ugh.  I'll tolerate it.  So you guessed it, she made us a broth soup.

Oh Goodness!  This stuff was so good!  It was so good that I asked for the recipe.  It was so good that I came home and made it the next day.  It was so good that I now make it at least once a month.  It was that good.  Thank you dear cousin for making this for us.

The first thing you do is get yourself a whole young chicken at the grocery store.  I made the mistake of getting a hen one time - I wasn't paying attention and that was one tough chicken!
Don't make that mistake.


Get out your soup pot, put in the chicken, add water and chicken stock, if you'd like.  Then give the chicken a good boiling.  I usually boil the gizzards and neck along with it, to give it more flavor.  When the chicken is cooked, take it out of the pot to cool and fish out the gizzards.

 I usually let the chicken cool for an hour or so and then I take it all apart, shred the chicken into bite size pieces and add it back to the pot.  Turn the heat back on because you've waited the sufficient amount of time so as not to burn-your-fingers-to-a-crisp pulling apart the chicken.  Add a chopped onion, a jar of sliced green olives and all the liquid, a small can of tomato sauce and Sazon Goya to taste.  Bring the soup to a boil and add in 1 - 1 1/2 cups of rice or quinoa. The soup is done when the rice or quinoa is done, about 30 minutes.


My cousin used rice and I did the first couple of times, too.  The leftovers though became more like casserole than a soup.  The rice had soaked up all of the broth.  So I used quinoa and found that it did not continue soaking up the broth and stayed a lot more soupy.  We now use the quinoa all the time.


The last change that I made was to the Sazon Goya.  I discovered that the regular Sazon Goya has MSG in it.   I sometimes have issues with MSG so we decided to trade it out for another spice mix without MSG.

The original


The trade

If you don't have a problem with MSG, then I'd get one of the Sazon Goya spice mixes just because that's the way this was introduced to me.  The one we used was the Coriander and Annatto.  The Badia, no MSG was their Sazon Tropical.  Both are delicious.



Chicken Asopao


1 young chicken
water and stock to cover chicken
1 small jar of sliced green olives plus the liquid
1 onion chopped
2 cloves of garlic chopped
sm can of tomato sauce
2 pkgs Sazon Goya or 1 - 2 T. Sazon Tropical
1 - 1 1/2 cups rice or quinoa

Boil chicken in a large soup pot.  Cover with water and chicken stock.  When the chicken is cooked, take out, bone and shred.  Put the shredded chicken back in pot.  Add in the green olives and the liquid from the olives, the chopped onion and garlic, a small can of tomato sauce and the Sazon.   Bring the soup up to a boil and add in the rice or quinoa.  The soup is done when the rice/quinoa is fully cooked, about 25-30 minutes.

Serve it up!


Let me know if you try this.  It's great for a crowd and also for leftovers.  We usually freeze about a third of what we make for later in the month.

Have a great day!
Kristin

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Getting it together




To say that I'm in the best mental health of my life is an understatement.  I honestly don't know when my emotional well being has been so peaceful.  I worked a long time on trying to improve myself, I will admit that.  I feel like I was way too emotional and would burst into anger over nothing among other things.  I certainly didn't handle stress very well and I would attach to people in an instant if I thought they might like me for more than 5 minutes.  I was my own roller coaster ride for a couple dozen years, that's for sure.

I really have to credit the entire process of going through a liver transplant with my husband (at the time), Tom.  All the years of self-help books that I read cover to cover, all of the positive affirmations, all of the daily washing of being good to myself, learning how to control most of my emotional outbursts and desperately trying to handle stress so that it didn't build up inside,  all came together when we learned Tom was sick and was needing a transplant.  I didn't realize it at the time, but I was going to need every every word I ever read and every safe place I ever envisioned to get me through it and the years following transplant.  I knew Tom was going to get a new lease on life with the liver transplant, but I didn't know it was going to profoundly change my life as well.

The best combination of things I ever did was get married to Tom, who needed a transplant, who was transplanted at Mayo Clinic Jacksonville and ultimately we decided to move to Jacksonville to be close to Mayo. That combination of events brought me to the happiest place on Earth and it wasn't Disney!  After Tom's transplant I started attending the support group meetings.  I have talked many many times on my blog about how much I love my transplant community here in Jacksonville, Florida.  Sometimes I think the support group I've attended for the last 10 years actually did all of the reshaping of me, but I'm sure I had something to do with it, too.  I was able to use all that I learned in those books and help the patients and the caregivers get through pre/post transplant and in turn, I could see all of that good working on me, too.  One hand washes the other.  I help them, they help me and on it goes.  Despite all of the health problems that so many have, the support group was and is an incredibly positive experience.  It's my favorite day of the week, Support Group day.

Kristin and Steve at lunch with the support group

Even in the midst of being the happiest I'd ever been, I still needed more change.  I had to get out of my marriage.  Tom was the one who got me to where I needed to be, but we weren't going to go further. I spent years doing everything possible to make it work but ultimately it wasn't to be. I talked about that a few years ago, also right here on my blog, so I won't get into all that again, but our marriage had run its course.  Steve and I got together shortly after and I discovered that my puzzle finally had all the pieces!  He was a transplant recipient, he was active in many organ donor awareness projects and and and I could go on for days!!  We had met nine years earlier and were friends in our support group, but this new time in our lives the stars lined up.  We knew right away that together we were something special.

The Love Bubble had formed.

to be continued....


Have a great day!
Kristin


Come visit our website which will get you to our store.  We have transplant and caregiver shirts, mugs and tote bags.  We decided to start our designs with what we know best and that's transplant, but we won't stop there.  Steve and I are having too much fun getting ideas and running with them, so  pop on over and see what we have to offer.  When you do get to Zazzle - always get a coupon code! You'll see it at the top of every page.  They have a sale all the time, so don't ever purchase at full price when you don't need to.

KNS Gear website --- and yes, KNS stands for Kristin and Steve



Thursday, March 26, 2015

Cat's Log: it begins

My dear love lost his little black kitty Kobe, in November 2014.  She sat on Steve's lap as much as possible and when she wasn't on his lap, she was at his feet.  Theirs was a friendship the likes of which I have never seen before, so when Kobe got sick and eventually passed, it was devastating to Steve.  I loved little Kobe, too, but she was everything to Steve.  We decided to take some time before getting another cat or two.  We both knew we couldn't live without a kitty in the house on a permanent basis, but we knew we would need to wait a little while.  

After several months we started looking for kittens, but there just weren't any to be found.  Then we started asking around the local vet offices, as that's where Steve had found Kobe.  Finally we ended up finding Kats 4 Keeps, a local kitty haven for cats.  We browsed through the online photo albums of the kitties they had and went to see them as soon as we could.   I know I fell in love with a couple of real friendly cats, all about 2-5 years old, but the two yellow eyed, black sisters just kept nagging at me.  They had been in the shelter for 2 of their almost 3 years.  They weren't terribly sociable but one of them, Nessa, loved to be petted and would roll on her back and let us rub her belly.  

Steve and I went back home and discussed all the possibilities and decided that we needed to give Lettie and Nessa a home... they weren't kittens and they weren't sociable so they must be exactly what we needed.

Here is the beginning of their story.

  

27 March 2015 -- Well, we won't get them until tomorrow, but these are our new kitties, Nessa and Lettie, (their names at the adoption center, but we'll change them). It feels rather strange getting two more black cats after having Kobe for 13 years, but these two sisters were so sweet, are best friends, and have been waiting two years to be adopted. So I feel like we have rescued them again. We probably could have come home with almost any one of the cats they had up for adoption, but these are now ours. (BTW, while shopping at Petco for supplies, we saw two baby kittens up for adoption. We very nearly ended up with 4 cats.......but then we came to our senses..............)


28 March 2015 -- We brought the girls home and as soon as we opened up the cat carriers, they were gone.  We put them in a small bedroom/office which was supposed to be a nice transition period for them, but it wasn't.  They hid in the furthest depths of the room, in spaces we didn't know even existed.  I couldn't have that so the next day I moved them to my bathroom.

They protested and were quite agitated.

I found these notes as the days went on.



Cats Log: Day 2
...of our forced incarceration with two lunatics. We hid in the smallest space available in the big room most of the day and night. Today we were forcibly removed and placed in a bathroom. We could only find hiding space under the bathmat and an animal bed, which we refused to lay in. Under is the key to effective hiding.


Cats Log: Day 3
Prison, despite the luxuries now offered to us, has failed to trick us into stepping beyond our open door. Now given the opportunity to roam freely about the prison, we choose to remain in our cell, regardless of the cold discomfort of a bathtub. Our only solace is an upside-down cat bed to shield us from the lunatic prison guards…but yet they continue to torment us. Luckily we have discovered a new hiding place in the cabinets under the sink. Surely it will take days for them to find us here.



Cat's Log: Day 4
I believe my cellmate Nessa has begun to conspire against me with the prison guards. She is beginning to show signs of affection towards them. Either she is being brainwashed without my knowledge or this is a highly clever ruse to fool our captors into befriending her so that she might get treats and a clean litterbox. Hmm...whichever the case, I must continue to be cautious. If taken once more from my cell and forced into the prison yard, I shall have no choice but to escape into solitary confinement under the sofa where I can rediscover the peace and quiet of my former self. -Letti



Cats Log: Day 5
One of us managed to stay hidden for over 20 hours without discovery. It was so much fun hearing them call for me and search high and low for me! It was a good time. Kristin finally found me in her bedroom closet. Damn! I thought I could stay undiscovered until they finally went to bed. Harrumph we will do our best to foil our guards again tomorrow.


Cat’s Log: Day 6
The torment continues. While one guard seems to take great pleasure in my agonizing confinement, the other photographs us like we were on some sadistic Guantanamo-style photo shoot. I think they enjoy my pain. Later, back in my cell, the photographer brings us treats, in some sort of good guard, bad guard ploy to gain my trust. Let me assure you, they have failed. -Nessa



Cat's Log: Day 7
The female prison guard took us from our most comfortable bathtub accommodations and tried tossing us under some table. Nessa and I both hightailed it out of that trap and found our own places to spend the day. The prison guard told us it was just a temporary reassignment as she needed to shower - whatever that means! Nessa went back to her spot, in the bathroom sink, but I am staying here, under the desk, until ... well, just until. - Lettie


Cat’s Log: Day 9
It has now been just over a week since our internment. Yesterday, a new form of torture: complete isolation. The guards left us alone in the prison the entire day, cell door unlocked and open……free and yet not quite free…..in just another attempt to confuse us and weaken our minds. They left…simply left. No sound. No movement. No harassment. It was eerily blissful…or maybe blissfully eerie. At night they returned. Retreating to our cell, we feared what torment might next await us, but there was none. What is this mind game they are playing? An hour passed. Nothing. Then suddenly one of the guards comes in to offer me treats and affection. I gobble the treats and feign interest in the affection…the chin rubbing, the back scratching, the belly rubbing. Oh damn, why does it have to feel so good? Soon after the other guard comes in, offering yet even more affection. I fear they are beginning to break us. -Nessa


The saga will continue ... stay tuned.






Monday, March 23, 2015

Wisteria Tree

Spring in Jacksonville!



It's Spring here in Jacksonville, FL.  It's actually been pretty overcast the past couple of weeks, so our spring is surprisingly moving quite slowly.  Last year Spring flew by here in about a week.  We may actually get  2-3 weeks out of this one.

My neighbor has this gorgeous Wisteria Tree in their front yard and I've noticed that it's fading quickly.  I thought I'd better get a photo or two of it before the blooms go away completely.



The petals gathering in the tall grass under the tree was nearly as beautiful as the flowers.


I'm in the midst of making wedding plans and these flowers make me think of bridesmaid dresses. ha ha No bridesmaid of mine will wear anything like this though, I promise.



What a beautiful tree.

Have a great day!
Kristin

Our online store has opened and Steve and I are working together to design and sell a variety of gear online! Visit KNS Gear to see all our stuff. We're starting off with organ donation and transplant tees an d mugs, but there's lots more to come, including fun and funny, spiritual, event and topical products. Stay tuned!

Just want to mention that all these designs are available in both men's and women's shirts, including tees, long-sleeve tees, hoodies, polos, and more on the Zazzle site. They are also available in a variety of colors, depending on the design.





Sunday, March 22, 2015

Barbados Wall Art

Artwork for the kitchen.  That was the next step in our kitchen update.  Since I have still have millions of things packed away and sitting around in the garage and in storage closets, I thought the best place to look for art was right at home.  Not to mention that the whole idea behind the kitchen redo was to update with very little money shelled out.

One day as I was going through my closet tossing out never worn or never-going-to-wear-again clothing I spotted a potentially good art piece.

In 1995 as one of the stops on a cruise ship vacation, my ex-husband and I spent a day in Barbados.  I purchased a hand painted T-shirt from this guy painting and selling his wares on the beach.  I thought the picture was great - a simplified version of a Bajan chattle house, but I knew I would never wear it.  That prediction came to be true and that lovely painted shirt hung in my closet nearly 20 years.



Steve suggested that the colors in that painting would look real good in the kitchen and would go right along with the quirky beach theme we had going on.  So I thought - sure!  I'll get a plain stretched canvas and staple that T-shirt right to it!  I'm not sure why I never thought of that before!

I got a coupon for Michael's and took the shirt with me. I wanted to make sure the design fit.  Not to mention, if  I only took measurements with me, I might still bring home the wrong size frame!

I have two very nice and hardly used staple guns, but who knows what box they are still packed in, so I asked around and found a friend who loaned me hers.  Thanks Patti!



I cut the back off the shirt and lined everything up.  The collar of the shirt was so close to the painting so I had to make sure that was pulled as tight as possible at the top, so it wouldn't show.  That's where I put my first staple.

Then I continued pulling the fabric, trimming, rolling a little edge so the staple would hold onto a couple of layers and not rip.



After just a few staples I realized the design had gotten off course and was no longer centered or straight.  Ah well - it's the islands!  On the islands the standards are relaxed a bit.

Or so I told myself.

The finished product - and it really does look nice in the kitchen.  Steve loves it, too!  I'm honestly just really happy to have it out of the dark closet and able to show it off.

The little utensil cup in the foreground is a 1979 state of Michigan license plate, turned into kitchen container.  I have all of my unusual, oversized and wooden utensils in here.  Just another item I have squeezed into Steve's little kitchen.

We are still thinking about getting window blinds and door hardware for the cabinets, but the kitchen is so much better now, that all the other stuff can wait.

Have a great day!
Kristin

Visit our brand new design store on Zazzle
for organ donation, caregiver and transplant recipient t-shirt designs.
Other designs and topics coming soon
KNSGear


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Mini remodel for the Kitchen


A long long time ago, over a year now, I approached my boyfriend, Steve, with the idea of painting his kitchen countertops.  He agreed with full knowledge that if it turned out horrible, it would probably still be better than what he had!  I blogged about that here.  Thankfully he is a really good sport and he was on board real quick.

Once he got a look at those shiny black countertops I just knew I had him hooked into a full scale redo of his kitchen.  The thing is though, that I am more talk than I am action a lot of the time.


I told him that if we left the wallpaper up when we did the countertop that we wouldn't have to tape anything off, since we'd be removing the wallpaper anyway.  I just never really committed to how long it would be until that dreaded wallpaper would actually come down.


My poor Steve lived with that wallpaper another 10 months, with the black enamel paint swooshed around the edges without a care in the world.  My Mother came to Jacksonville in August of 2014 and I asked her if she would help us with the wallpaper removal.  (My Mom likes to have a project and I like to use that to my advantage when I can)  She chose instead to help me move out of my extremely cluttered and not yet packed rental condo instead.  She was right - I needed every bit of her energy to get me moved out my condo -- so much so that I enlisted six other friends, plus Steve to help! That was indeed a giant job and I'm glad she convinced me that was the more urgent task.

By November I was determined that my slacking days were over and Steve and I deserved to put that gorgeous blue-green on the wall!   It turns out that the wallpaper came off much easier than I would have ever imagined.  We used a steamer and putty knives and for the most part, it peeled right off the mostly bare sheet rock.  We were very fortunate indeed.

  • The wall color is Home Depot Behr interior semi gloss - Tropical Tide #520D-5.


  • It was only a couple of days after the wallpaper all came down that the color portion of our project was finally put on the wall.  We spent two evenings spackling and sanding, getting the walls as smooth as possible before putting on the paint.  I'm sure glad we took so much care because the walls look fabulous!

    Next up -- painting the cabinets.  I painted a sample board with two different colors of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint - Old White and Old Ochre.  The white was just too close to the white of the appliances and the pantry door and trim - it made the color just look dirty rather than complementary.  The Old Ochre on the other hand was dark enough to to compliment all the white and blue-green, but also gave a decidedly beachy look to the whole kitchen.  It just worked!

    I'm not sure if you can see the difference in the photo below, but one side of the interior panel has been sealed with the Annie Sloan Clear Soft Wax and the other side is only the chalk paint.  I could have gone for a polyurethane finish on the cabinet doors, but I love the look and feel of the wax finish, so we went that direction.  To keep the cabinets from looking too fussy or shabby, I used only the clear wax and did not use a darker wax to distress the corners or darken the edges.  That just wasn't the look we were going for.  I do love, however, the way the clear wax darkens the paint color just a bit and highlights the grooves and ridges of the painted wood.   I will have three coats of the wax on the cabinets when the kitchen is totally finished.  The panel below has just one coat of wax.



    In redoing the cabinets, I only needed the tools below.  A little over 1/2 a quart of paint and a chip brush to paint all of the cabinets.  I like the chip brush because it creates more texture on the surface of the door.  That gives me more spaces for the wax to penetrate and more places for the light to give highlights and shadows, which ultimately gives more interest to the door.  I used a small detail brush for small paint touch ups, too.  Clear wax was my next product and  I used a 1" chip brush to get the wax into the corner details on the door and a soft white cloth to distribute the wax on the rest of the door.  I probably only used about 1/2 the can of wax, possibly less.  The cabinets cost us right around $50 to repaint and finish.  Cool, huh?!


    When I went to Michigan last year my niece Zora and I went to a paint your own pottery place.  I made an outlet cover especially for the kitchen and it actually turned out great!  Here it is installed...



    Soooo, when you put all of that together...

    You get a kitchen that is completely transformed from 1980's wallpaper and wood to the 2015 beachy cool using dark colors and light cabinets and appliances.  We think it really works.


    We still need to get cabinet hardware, but since his kitchen never had them, we will need to investigate and find a style that fits the space available.  I think that door pulls or handles will really feel like the jewelry in the space.  We also are thinking about shades for the windows, but haven't been too eager to tackle that yet.  There's a big window on the wall you can't see, on the left, so we need to make sure whatever we choose looks appropriate for both windows.


    In this picture I excluded the fridge, so the kitchen doesn't look so cluttered!  We have a ton of magnets, photos and information on the fridge and I couldn't even think about taking them all down for a picture.  This is the best I could do!

    In my eyes, the kitchen is done, done, done.  I want to show it off and if I have to wait for us to decide on window treatments and door hardware, it could be another year!

    So here it is -- our Before and After




    Steve and I have gotten hundreds of likes on the pictures we've been showing on Facebook the past few days and we really appreciate all of the cheers and nods of approval.  Thank you so much!  I can't begin to tell you how much it means to have that positive vibe coming from the Universe!!

    We love you all and the kitchen!  Thanks for stopping by.

    Hope you have a great day!
    Kristin