Gourmet International Food Review

So, I’ve never reviewed restaurants or food  on any kind of formal basis, but I was asked if I would.  I thought, “Why not?”

I agreed to do it.  A box showed up at my door a short time later with a bunch of interesting things in it!


Luehders  Vegan Bags/ Exotic Fruits, Red Berries and Fruity Flowers.  These were the first things I broke into.  There were three different pouches/flavors.  They were vegan and do not contain gelatin (which is an animal by product by the way).  I am not vegan, although I like vegetables (but not all of them).  I was really surprised  at the taste and texture!  They were soft, but not too soft (I’ve run across some hard  unpleasant gummy bears, etc), and the flavor was DELICIOUS!  Needless to say these disappeared quickly!  I do tend to have a bit of a sweet tooth, so it was not a surprise I liked these.

Lorenz/Sour Cream Pomsticks: These were the next thing opened. They also disappeared quickly!  My husband and I smacked on these over a few days time.  The reminded me of sour cream and onion chips flavor wise and crunchy, but were straws/sticks.  I’m not a big salty snack person, but I liked these and the flavor was just right, not overwhelming.

Jos Poell Tasty Toasts/Tomato and Chili:  These were little bitty toasts, but they were awesome!  They were crunchy like croutons, but better!!  They should come in a huge bag (and I would eat them all!!).  Even though you could call them savory the taste was light and crunchy and delicate.  These were my favorite thing in the box!

Lorenz/Nic Nocs:  These were peanuts coated with a flavoring.  Very savory, maybe a little  chili-like.  Reminded me a little of Barbecue Potato chips…I was not fond of them (or barbecue potato chips) but my husband (who likes this type of thing ) liked them.

Bechtle Garden Herbs Pasta:  This was a pretty big bag of egg noodle type pasta.  It contains durum wheat semolina, eggs, dried herb mixture (basil, wild garlic, nettle, cornflower blossoms, watercress, dandelion, rocket (aka arugula)).  I loved it!  I made it according to the directions and added butter and parmesan cheese.  It would be great with creamy garlic, or cheese sauce or tomato sauce.  You could taste the herbs but it was not overwhelming and I didn’t realize there was wild garlic in it because it did not taste garlicky (although I wouldn’t mind that).

Larsen Pure Fish Filets:  Theses were salmon filets packed in Olive Oil and are Gluten free, Lactose free, no artificial colors or flavors, no flavor enhancers, no nuts.  I am not a fish person, but I try to eat some once in a while.  I liked these.  They reminded me of tuna a bit.  The filets were about right for a serving (about palm of your hand size) and flaky.  These would be great to pack for a camping or hiking trip too if you needed compact protein (and you are avoiding nuts).

If any of these products (they have so much more also) interest you, you can find them at Gourmet International.

Gaslighting, and more to come

Today got away from me while researching some fascinating topics for upcoming blogs.

They are:

Gaslighting and Mirroring.  You find these topics mostly discussed in Psychological forums and there have been a number of books.

In regards to Gaslighting, I found so much material that I was unable to publish today’s blog post on it, because its not finished!  I also find out that I have been a victim of gaslighting in the workplace!  Very interesting indeed!  If you are interested in learning more about the topic before I publish next time, there is a movie made in 1944 called “Gaslight”.  Take a look at it, I’m going to…

Next time…”Gaslighting”

In two weeks…”Mirroring”

My Mother Invented the Side Ponytail

This blog is ideally about my life of adventures, mostly related to Public Safety, but it all started at an early age.  I have to give some background, it’s all relevant.

I was a tomboy, or tomgirl, but mostly my mom called me Tom’s girl (my father’s name is Tom).  I was the oldest, my sister, 3 years younger, was mommy’s girl.  I liked to fix and build and do stuff in the yard. I learned about cars, and tools, and how duct tape can just about fix anything, at least temporarily.  Guy stuff, AND I was a climber.

I climbed out of my crib, up the cupboards, on the fridge, on the garage, over fences and into trees.  This started early.  Mom caught me by one leg one day, as I was exiting my crib head first, before I hit the floor (lucky for me)!  I was never afraid of heights, although I have developed a healthy respect for gravity (it’s the sudden stop at the bottom that’s the problem).  Anyway, back to my Mother of Invention.

My mom could sew. It’s a lost art.  She made many of my clothes, learning to sew from her mother (french seams and all).  I only remember disliking one thing she made me.  A pair of green plaid pants.  I have no doubt that they were made after the many dresses I came home wearing with dirt caked on them, rips in the arms and skirts, as well as the dirt under my fingernails.  She gave up on me being a “proper” girl.

Especially after that day in first grade.  The day I climbed into a pine tree before walking home from the school bus stop.  I loved trees.  I loved the ease of climbing the conveniently placed and spaced branches.  I loved the view, above everything, and the sound of the breezes rustling the leaves.  This particular tree was pretty sappy and I got a wad of pine sap caught in my hair.  Thinking I would again be a non-dainty disappointment to my mom when I got home.  I decided to fix it myself.  I yanked out the whole blob at once, and I was successful!!

OH BOY, a thick hank of hair came with it.  I had successfully given myself a nice round bald spot to the right of my center part. Uh oh, I was still going to be in trouble.  My poor mother had her hands full with me.  I do not remember being in a lot of trouble, but I did really feel badly for putting her through these things.  It was probably pretty embarrassing for her at times.  The next day, I was a little worried about going to school with a big bald spot (about the size of a half-dollar).  My mother ( I must get a little of my macgyvering from her!), surveying the damage gave me a comb-over ponytail, or side ponytail.  I wore my hair every day that way until my hair grew back.  Thank you MOM!!

Here’s the proof (and I was wearing a dress for picture day).

Renee First grade



Big Trouble with Rachael at the Mall

(Meds and behavior) Big Trouble with Rachael at the Mall

Recently Rachael had another medication change.  Her new-ish Neurologist had been prodding me to try a different benzodiazapine medication (there are many different forms of this type of medication) called Onfi instead of clonozepam.  I put the neurologist off for two years (I remember past medication problems!), telling her that she has been absolutely great on the two meds she has been taking.  The /neurologist seemed to think she knew better so I finally said, “Fine, let’s see what happens.” Sometimes they have to learn the hard way, but I hate for Me, Rachael or any innocent bystanders to have to go through this.

So we tried the Onfi.  The Dr. started her on a small dose, increasing it gradually, as she decreased the clonozepam.  No problems at first…until we went to the zoo.  I first thought she was tired or just in a bad mood.  When she started mis-behaving and I corrected her, she started screaming “SHUT-UP!!” at me while we were in the Aquarium (just so you know it echoes in there).  Her big sister, Sarah was meeting us at the Zoo.  When she couldn’t find us, I texted Sarah to listen for Rachael screaming “Shut-Up”.  Sarah texted back, “LOL, UH-OH!” Sarah has grown up with this so we can afford a little humor between us.  Sometimes it’s all we’ve got!

I decided to catch her on video with my phone because we had a follow-up appointment with her Dr.  I was able to calm her down, and the rest of the day went better.  Until a few weeks later, when we took a trip to the mall on a Sunday afternoon.

I thought Rachael might like to go see the new minions movie.  I purchased our tickets and we headed into the theatre.  She had a noisy toy with her so I tried to get it from her before we went in.  She started throwing a fit.  Hmmm, what to do…I removed the batteries from the toy and gave it back to her.  She’s no dummy!  When she realized it wasn’t working she was mad! I realized there would be no movie with her behavior so we got refund and left.  This also made her upset.  I explained to her that in the movie theatre we have to be quiet, no noisy toys.  If she couldn’t be quiet we couldn’t go to the movie.  The combination of no noisy toy and me taking her out of the movie was too much for her.

As we were walking through the food court full of people, she pitched her toy like a professional baseball player!  This is not an exaggeration! We’ve long thought she would have been a great ball player.  I watched, my hand over my mouth, and in shock as it whizzed right by a lady eating lunch, narrowly missing her head (and scaring her) and landing on the floor.  I mouthed “I’m sorry” and hustled through the food court.  A young girl retrieved the toy, handed it to me helpfully and I hid it in my purse.  Rachael started putting her feet down and pushing her wheelchair backwards as I tried to propel her forwards.

I parked us at a table, put the brakes on and ignored her as I waited for her to calm down (sometimes you just have to wait her out until she comes around to your way of thinking).  Well, things didn’t get better.  She started hitting herself in the face! What?! I grabbed her wrist and encircled it with my fingers with just enough pressure to keep her from hurting herself.  She started screaming “OUCH!!” even though I wasn’t hurting her.  Yikes!  The mall was full of busy shoppers so we were the center of attention.  I said to her quietly (trying to be soothing), “Rachael, no hitting.”  When she relaxed I let go of her hand.  She then began hitting herself on the leg, yelling “Naughty!”  I grabbed her hand again, to keep her from hurting herself and again said “Rachael, no hitting!”

Nothing was working.  But like I have said in other posts, MOM MUST ALWAYS WIN.  In our relationship, I am the boss, and I have to be, or she will get hurt.  She has no safety skills whatsoever. I can’t let her run the show because if I do, the next time will be worse.  I sat quietly, keeping her wheelchair stable while she raged.  This was extremely embarrassing and I wanted to cry (but must not show weakness)!  Who could I call to help me?  My husband was working and too far away so that was out.  Sarah and her husband lived nearby, but they had their hands full with a new baby…No that wouldn’t work.

Well I hated to do it (I hate asking for help in the first place) but I had to resort to asking for help from strangers.  A short slight man was cleaning the tables near us while watching us sideways.  He had a radio in his belt.  I motioned for him to come closer. He came over cautiously, keeping a safe distance.  When I realized he didn’t speak very much English, I resorted to pointing at the radio and asking “Security?”  He understood and nodded his head, summoning help.  At that same moment a tall muscular guy wearing an Under Armor baseball cap (this was a good sign) came over and knelt down next to us.  He said “I have a sister (nodding toward Rachael), can I help you?”   “YES PLEASE!  THANK YOU!”  I told him that it looked like it might take more than us, that I needed to get her out of the mall and into my car and that security was coming.  Two security guards from the mall showed up.  They were great!

Picture this…Security Officer in front clearing the way, helpful stranger holding the front of Rachael’s wheelchair off the floor which helped me, holding on to the back of the chair, to keep her feet up off the floor, Rachael screaming her head off, followed by the other Security Officer.  We got to my car, and she was fine.  She got in, no fight at all.  I thanked them all profusely.  Under Armor man told me, “My wife and I were watching you for a bit.  I have a sister.  I know what it’s like.  My wife told me, “YOU BETTER GO HELP HER!””  This made me laugh.  I asked him to thank his wife for me and that I was very grateful.

I am shocked no one took a YouTube video of it (sorry folks, I was busy or I would have).  So, Rachael lost, momma maintained authority with no one getting hurt (barely).  The Zoo video (it was pretty mild compared to the mall thing) was shown to the neurologist, who said, Ahhhh, we need to take her off the ONFI!  For the next 3 months, I did not dare take Rachael to the mall again, or church, or anywhere else until the Onfi was out of her system. I am happy to report that once it was gone, we successfully went places without any harrowing or embarrassing incidents!

Parents in general and parents of special needs or autistic kids have it really tough sometimes.  I have never spoiled my kids,  they didn’t get things by throwing temper tantrums, in fact they learned early not to do that.  I did not reward bad behavior.  You have to treat your special needs kids like your other kids (well mostly, considering their limitations).  There need to be expectations, they have to behave for parents and babysitters.  I have seen parents let their special needs kids get away with a lot, because they feel sorry for them.  They may be “handicapped” but they are not stupid!  If you let them win they will run the show, and that can’t happen, no matter how little (you can pick them up and carry them out!) or how big they get!  Rachael responds to kind quiet words very quickly. Scolding and yelling only escalates her behavior.  She is usually pretty good and only mildly stubborn for very short periods of time.  telling her how it is,and what is expected, along with giving her time to adjust to a change usually works.

But in our experience, some medications cause nasty side-effects like hallucinations (Scopolamine), fatigue, vomiting, seizures, weight loss, extreme hunger, no appetite, depression, anger and more.  Rachael can’t tell me what’s wrong, so as a parent I have to pay attention. Why is this happening?  Is it simply bad behavior? If the unusual (and shocking!) happens, always look for what has changed, what’s different?  It might be a medical problem, or medication change.

It’s a good thing, we as a family have a sense of humor.  Rachael brings us challenges, some pretty good stories, AND MUCH JOY! 




What is International Women’s Day?

Today is international Women’s Day.

There are a lot of interesting events scheduled for today.  Women have long been considered property, or less valuable and there has been an ongoing struggle to be paid the same as men and for women to  allowed to have the same opportunities as men.

UN Secretary-General’s message for 2016

“We have shattered so many glass ceilings we created a carpet of shards. Now we are sweeping away the assumptions and bias of the past so women can advance across new frontiers,” says UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his message for International Women’s Day 2016. –

Find out more at:  International women’s Day

i encourage you to share the link today.



Follow-up to my Biopsy

Sorry it has taken so long to do the follow-up on this.  My life has been busy with a new job (plus two I had already), family, and summer/fall is our busiest time.  Things are quieting down now.

Anyway, my biopsy came back negative!  Hooray!  The procedure was not pleasant at all but does not compare to the things people have to go through when they get a Cancer diagnosis.  I know many who have conquered Cancer and many that are going through the fight now.  My heart goes out to them and their families.

I wish for the death of Cancer, and for everyone fighting it to prevail.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month


It’s a mean, dirty, awful word.  Odds are you know someone, are related to someone, are friends with someone who’s life has been touched by some sort of cancer.  My family is no different.  I’ve lost family members, in-laws, and friends.  I am encouraged that there are many breakthroughs occurring in efforts  for prevention, early detection, and eradication.

The American Cancer Society has a year long calender of events for those of you who want to be more involved in the fight.  Some dates of note include: Healthy weight week (Jan), World Cancer day (Feb), Kick Butts Day (Mar), National Minority Cancer awareness week (Apr), World No Tobacco Day (May), Men’s Health (Jun), National Mammography Day (Oct), just to name a few.  Find the entire calender here.

So back to October…October 22, 2015 is National Mammography day.  I can tell you early detection can be the difference between losing or surviving the fight.  I’ve had my own scares, most recently last year and this year.  Last year was my original check, then a follow up ultrasound.  This revealed that there was nothing to worry about.

This year was different.  I also chose a different test…Tomosynthesis.  It was also the first time I was ever told that I have dense breast tissue.  This can make it difficult to see everything necessary in a mammogram.

A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast…Tomosynthesis is a three-dimensional imaging of the breast.  So I went for my yearly exam, but with Tomosynthesis.  I opted to pay the additional expense of the Tomo due to a family history of cancer.  I got called back for additional imaging, just like last year, but this time they found something.  The interesting thing was they found something…microscopic.  Tiny calcifications in a cluster not visible to the naked eye, in fact the radiologist was shocked they even noticed them on the films.  They did a second check to make sure they really saw what they thought they saw.  It was confirmed.  Now calcifications are not abnormal per se, when equally distributed throughout the tissue.  The red flag was that they were clustered together.  My 2nd appointment turned into a 3rd…for a biopsy…and fear.  Good news?  Early detection, might be nothing.  Bad news, could be something, but if it is, it’s early, really early, and the fix?  Removal and local radiation.  Nothing more.

Still scary.  The biopsy, not pleasant, but not horrible.  Learn more about the process and equipment used here.  The staff at all my appointments?  All women, and very nice, sympathetic, encouraging, empathetic, patient women at that.

My only complaint is the table used for the biopsy.  It requires one to hold still for a long period of time with your head cranked to one side.  You’d think they could take a page from massage therapy equipment and come up with something more comfortable, you know like a hole for your breast and your face, maintaining spinal alignment, giving a spa-like appearance and even better with a TV underneath, or music speakers…something to help distract and make more comfortable!  C’mon Doctor’s and Engineers…get moving on this.  I want one available for next year, just-in-case!!

Well, that’s my suggestion anyway.  I hope someone runs with it.

massage table

So, I had my biopsy today. It’s actually April 2015. I am doing well enough tonight to write about it even though I won’t get my results for 24 hours or so.  When I do find out my results I’ll be adding to this post.

Whatever happens I am hoping I will be more comfortable sharing, whatever the news ends up being, by the time this posts in October for Breast Cancer Awareness month.

For now, its time for another ice pack.  More later.



Happy Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s day everyone.

Everyone has or has had a mother.  Not all have made big contributions to the life of their children, but all have had some sort of impact, good or bad.

I have never been the perfect mother.  I have however tried to do what I thought was right.  My children have objected to things I have expected out of them.  The fact that I let them feel consequences of their behavior when they were young taught them early that there are consequences or rewards to their behavior.  As a child these tend to be minor.  As an adult it all changes.

I also told them that it would be so much easier if they came with directions stamped on their bottom, like a cabbage patch doll.  I had never planned to have children it just happened (I will not have the birds and bees talk here, laugh).

Life happens.  You make good choices and bad.  You learn from them.  You do what you think is right, sometimes because your own mother (and father) taught you what they thought was best.

On Mother’s day, I will be happy to spend time with family.  I will soon be a grandmother (cringe, how did I get old?).  My girls are grown and one is expecting her first child.  I hope I can be as much help to her as my own mother was to me when I called asking how to cook a turkey (make sure you remove the plastic package of giblets from inside before you cook it!).  What temperature, how long?  What to do with a difficult teacher?  A bully?

Motherhood is a continuing, generational cycle, not always biologic in nature.

Happy Mother’s day to all you Mom’s out there.


As the weather fluctuates I have been noticing some things…We in Michigan are so over Winter. Friday we had a beautiful sunny 70 degree day. Everyone was in a great mood.

Today it snowed…people were upset.

Twitter exploded…Minnesota called the weather “bipolar”, Maine declared Spring is here and the snow is almost gone (while weather forecasts are calling for snow)…Emoticons crying and frowning were prevalent also.

It seems we who live in climates with diverse weather and seasons have a love hate relationship with the weather. At Christmas the white stuff is OK…but when we are longing for the passing of slush and piles of snow remnants, with dreams of shorts, t-shirts and trips to the beach, the white stuff causes despair!

But then there are the skiers, snowboarders, lugers, skaters, snowballers…you people are just crazy (no offense ;))