Sunday, November 10, 2019

DIY Postcard Swap

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

DIY Post Card Swap is something I found through Studio iHanna just this year and just a few days ago.  The time to sign up has passed and the postcards should have been mailed out by now, but she has two of these swaps each year, so if you're interested, please get on her email list or follow her blog or Instagram. Those that used the special hashtag when posting #diypostcardswap can be used to see what postcards have been made and sent out. 

Sadly, my postcards did not get mailed out by the deadline, but they will be by Monday.  I hate being late!  I hate it!

I had such a great time creating my cards.  I made just slightly bigger versions of my Index Card A Day project this summer. I was delighted to pull out my ephemera (paper) and collect even more bits and pieces the few days I was creating the cards.  Steve, who usually rolls his eyes at me saving things that should be trash, helped collect a few things.  He does love to see the childlike excitement that comes over me!

Here is one of the first postcards I did for the swap.  My love of security envelopes is well known, but not for those that receive the card!  I created mountains with the envelopes and then used the stickers that I had just recently received from an Etsy shop, Lissovacraft, and the green stripes were from the packaging that she used.  I absolutely love her work and will someday get a handmade poster with her paper plants and flowers, but for now, I have stickers. 

I used a few Jacksonville magazines for this card and a magazine that we received from Amazon for kids toys.  The purple pinata was from that Amazon book.  It was too funny to not use.  There was a special section in the other magazine about doughnuts and cookies, so that worked real well with the pinata.

My birthday was last month and I hated to just bury the card that I received in a pile in my room so I recycled quite a bit of it into this post card.  The Sunset block near the bottom is from a wetnap that was given to someone at a restaurant.  I loved the retro look to it.  This particular one happened to go through the washer - so it's extra distressed. 

I created 10 postcards, so I hope you keep with me to see the remaining 7 in upcoming blog posts.  I promise it will be soon. 

Have a great day!

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

Taco Seasoning - homemade

Would you like a great Taco seasoning mix that's pretty easy to put together and makes ground beef (or turkey or chicken for that matter) taste out of this world?  This homemade taco seasoning mix uses all real ingredients, no fillers, just real 100% spices and herbs.  If you want 100% real ingredients, make sure you read the labels on your spices to make sure. 

Some really great things have come about because of my quest to get artificial chemicals and ingredients out of my life.  Now I rarely if ever used store bought spice packets for my hamburger, so having an envelope of taco mix on hand was foreign to me.  When I made taco meat before this, I'd add in some chili powder and salt and that's about it.  I didn't feel the need to add more to it, but honestly, it was seriously bland.

When I married Steve, he regularly used seasonings to amp up the flavor for his taco meat.  It was only natural for him to want more flavor for his taco meat than just chili powder and salt.  He did occasionally use the taco seasoning envelopes, but was always concerned about the high salt content. We enjoy cooking together so finding something we both liked was important.

It wasn't until visiting my sister in Michigan one year that I saw her recipe for a homemade taco mix, that I realized we could make our own mix.  I took a picture of it and shared it with Steve.  He reminded me that he had a homemade mix, too, but hadn't made it in awhile.  Here I had thought that a homemade mix was an "ah ha" moment!  WOW!  We can do this at home! 

Clearly, at this point I wasn't much of a cook!

As it turned out, we liked Alison's taco mix very much and have been using it ever since.  Definitely a hit!

There are a lot of ingredients, but this mix is so good it's worth it to keep all of these spices in stock.  It's not overwhelmingly salty or sweet or peppery or hot.  For me, it's just right.   I do have to admit though, I do not use the full amount of black pepper as in the recipe, but that's because I am not a pepper person.  But I will give the recipe as written and not my wimpy version.

A few years ago Steve and I created a cookbook for our families and in it we included this taco seasoning recipe.   One version is nearly equivalent to a single package of a store bought taco mix envelope and the other is the recipe x4 (times 4), so that you can have some on hand whenever you wanted it. 

The photos are of the x4. I took these photos in my kitchen just a few days ago.  Who knew it would turn out to be so gorgeous.  I put the chili powder in the dish first, so all that you can see is just the little red top right in the middle. 

Taco Seasoning
(equivalent to one envelope of store bought)

1 T chili powder
¼ t garlic powder
¼ t onion powder
¼ t dried oregano
½ t paprika
1½ t ground cumin
1 t sea salt
1 t black pepper

Taco Seasoning  x4

4 T chili powder
1 t garlic powder
1 t onion powder
1 t dried oregano
2 t paprika
2 T ground cumin
4 t sea salt
4 t black pepper

(2 Tablespoons of homemade taco seasoning = one store bought 1.25oz packet.)

*Most of the spices I use come from Penzey's Spices in Wisconsin.  We had a local brick and mortar store up until recently.  I am seriously bummed they closed but the rent just got too high for them to stay. They have an awesome online website and I can just order from there, or when traveling I look for a store.  I have no affiliation with Penzey's, I've just been buying from them for a few decades and believe they are the best. 

Thanks for stopping by.  Have a great day!

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Thirteen years already - liver transplant

There are times in our lives when we know life is going to change but it isn't until looking back you realize just how much.  13 years ago my life changed and a lot of lives changed.

My husband at the time, Tom, was just given a life saving liver transplant - on this day, Dec 23, 2005. My sister was in Daytona Beach, Florida and my mother was coming into town on Christmas Day to spend the holidays with us.  Tom had a car in our driveway that was supposed to be picked up by a car transport service and dropped off to a guy that bought it from Tom. 

Tom with his favorite Post Transplant Coordinator

Nothing in that crazy Christmas time of 2005 worked out as planned.  My mother and sister stayed in a hotel in Jacksonville instead of at my home in Daytona Beach and Tom's parents flew down the day or two after Christmas, to be with their son after transplant.  

 The guy who paid for the car and didn't receive it when he wanted,  was sure we were Craigslist scammers.  I mean who receives the call for a liver transplant the exact time as he's supposed to be preparing a car to be delivered?? He did finally get the car but it was a few weeks later. 

Oh and did I mention that we closed on a condo in Jacksonville while Tom was in the hospital?  Yep, Dec 28th.  The folks came up to his hospital room and had him sign everything.   

Since we couldn't move into the new place immediately, we had to rent a furnished condo for a month in Jax while Tom recuperated and had appointments at the Mayo Clinic nearly every day. 

At this point in the story we are only to day 5 post transplant.  


Tom really came through transplant and recuperation remarkably well.  He had several complications through the year - an emergency surgery 6 weeks post transplant, unexpected,  debilitating pain about six months later and other assorted things, but now I see it is not out of the ordinary. I said then and say now, that it was the hardest year of my life. I was beat emotionally and physically.   We had it easier than some and harder then others. It's a journey for sure. 
Tom and Stamer at a potluck dinner.

Tom received a life saving transplant and in so many ways, so did I.   We moved to Jacksonville,  purchased some rental properties,  fixed them up, I started going to the Liver, Kidney, Pancreas Support Group and made a lot of friends. I learned so much more about transplant, recovery, patience,  love etc., and found a real calling with those support group folks.  I rented my condos to transplant patients,  got to know most of them very well and went along for several years just being a part of the group. 

A dinner with friends - I'm standing next to Steve, who wasn't yet my husband!  I hadn't even thought of it yet. Tom is in the blue shirt, back row. 

One day (or a month or year) I decided that I had a voice and wanted to change up some things, get more people to move to Jacksonville,  have lunches be an every week activity after group, make potluck once monthly ever month, and more.  I realized this group was 100% where I belonged and damn it felt good!

A typical scene - us sitting chatting and having a meal.

At some point, (not in order) I managed to get several families to move to Jacksonville, became one of the leaders in our group, divorced my husband, moved into one of my rentals, was the caregiver to a friend (Steve) who was in need of a kidney transplant,  traveled all along the East Coast staying with friends and transplant recipients,  blogged for many years and became a pretty decent photographer along the way.  Then I married Steve and the love bubble was formed. 

If Tom hadn't needed a liver transplant and received it at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville I would not have the life I have now.  I am so very grateful to the donor family that said yes to donating their son's organs.  In their grief they saw life in others.  Tom is a pretty healthy, active, man in his post transplant years.  He thinks I am a pretty awesome wife and that Steve is VERY lucky!   I believe I'm the lucky one to have helped two people through transplant as their caregiver and to have found my best life with the transplant family.

Happy Liverversary, Tom

Merry Christmas everyone

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Getting a flu shot

I have never had the flu, or if I have I didn't know it.  I've been told though that I would know if I had had the flu.  I've had colds, bronchitis, allergies, hay fever, you name it, but not influenza.

In the past I've heard that the flu shot only protects from the very specific strain that the vaccine was made for.  The chances of getting that specific flu was rare.  So why in the heck would I going to get a flu shot?  I don't like shots.  I doubt anyone does, but that's my first reaction.

I'm a Type 1 Diabetic.  Do you know what that means?  That means I give myself 5 or more shots a day.  I don't think avoiding shots can be an excuse for me anymore.  Also diabetics, both Type 1 and 2 are naturally more immune deficient.  This means that a cold or flu can more easily take root in our systems because we aren't as able to fight them off as the regular folk.

Did you know that last year (2017) over 80,000 died from the flu?  and that was just in the United States!  That is an outrageous number and if you were to think of that being your community or town, that's everyone you know or have met...

I've done a little research.

Each year the flu vaccine is made to help protect against 3 or 4 different strains.  If you do happen to get the flu, the vaccine, even if it isn't the exact kind that was in your vaccine, it will help you not have the flu as bad and can protect you from a more severe reaction. 

Did you also know that it takes about 2 weeks for your body to develop the antibodies to fight the virus? So get that flu shot before anyone around you gets the flu.  Don't wait.  Flu season is from the end of October through May.

You cannot get the flu from the flu vaccine.  The shot is not a live virus, so all that's doing is getting your antibodies fired up to fight the flu if it happens to come near you.  The vaccine that is a nasal spray is a live virus but it is too weak to actually cause the flu, once again, it's just enough to get those antibodies started. 

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to share diseases.  All that hugging and kissing and sharing the tasting spoon.  Families who haven't seen each other in ages come together under one roof and share their germs.  I know, it sounds awful, but it's true.  Wash your hands a lot when you are with family.  That can really help keep those germs from spreading.

I have been reading more and more about the herd immunization and how important it is for the majority of us in a society to have the immunizations or vaccines to keep the others that can't have those shots from getting sick.  A lot of my friends are immune suppressed because they are transplant recipients or are in need of a transplant.  If they are unable to get a flu shot, for whatever reason, I don't want to be the one to pass it along to them, that's for sure. 

Dr. Alan Taege, an infectious disease specialist at Cleveland Clinic gives a nice succinct reason why those of us who can should get the flu vaccine.
“The more people who get the vaccine, the more chance that we can avoid an epidemic,” Taege said. “It’s called ‘herd immunity’ —- the more vaccinated means less chance for widespread influenza.” 
Flu Shot Facts...source

I was fortunate enough that my medical insurance paid for my flu shot. You know it's kind of strange to go into a Walgreens and be behind a little room divider screen and sit in the chair and have a Pharmacist give me a shot and then walk away past the people picking up their prescriptions.  You know I'm used to those types of things being held in a real doctor's office. But hey it's a lot easier running in there than it is to make an appointment at a doctor's office and wait to get call back and all of that.

Yep, I got my flu shot on Wednesday.  My arm is still a little sore and I got a headache.   That's about it folks.  In this case I'm part of the herd. 


Have a great day!

Friday, November 16, 2018

Christmas at KNS Gear and KNS Transplant Gear

It's always Christmas at KNS Gear and KNS Transplant Gear, because we work on it all year.   I know, I know!  It's not even Thanksgiving yet, but we sell through Zazzle and they are having so many deep discounts that I feel like we need to get the word out that we have Christmas items available.  Today Zazzle had 60% of bunch of categories and if you sign up for Zazzle black you only have to pay shipping once and then get free shipping for the next 365 days.  That's such a great deal. 

SO!  I am excited to present to you a scant few of the awesome products that we have in our KNS Christmas Store

We have a lot of watercolor designs, but this is by far one of my favorites.  The car with the Christmas Tree on top is such a fun design.  It's pretty popular, too.  I get a kick out of this design because the tree already has some decorations on it.  I can imagine it being taken to a friends house or someplace in public to brighten up a dark corner. 

Steve's awesome design of the black kitty with a sour look on his face is just a hoot.  The Santa hat is the kicker.  You know that hat didn't last long on that cat.  We have this mug with a green background, red background and plain white.  You can also choose a mug with an interior color as well.  So many options!

Naughty but Nice is a common phrase, but this graphic has a few iconic elements included.  Christmas lights, Santa hats, mittens and the traditional red and green.  I like the mug with the red interior and handle, too.

We have a lot of Christmas Cards both Christmas Themed and Secular.  They all can be customized to include any sentiment that you'd like and of course your name can be printed on it as well. 

front and inside views

We have printed the inside of many of our cards specifically to make them very different from the usual cards.  Still with lots of room to write or have a custom message printed.  

If you like to add a sticker to the back of your envelope, we have those too.  This specific one has one of my favorite sayings - Snowflakes are unassembled snowmen falling from the sky.  This particular sticker has a watercolor background that sort of looks like Jack Frost has stopped by. 

Shirts, long and short sleeved, hoodies, leggings, hats and about any other kind of apparel is available on Zazzle.  We have a nice selection of Christmas shirts and leggings, but always feel free to see what is also available - there are so many deigns out there! 

Yoga pants, leggings, not pants but comfortable coverings for your legs - whatever you want to call them, these leggings are a lot of fun to design.  We have these with snowflakes, some with clouds and sky and even transplant designs.   Go ahead, take a look!

The very end of Guardians of the Galaxy Peter says something like, what do you want to do next?  A little good, a little bad, a little of both?  That's kind of what this shirt is all about.  A little good, a little bad?  Definitely a little of both! 

Steve had been working on increasing our holiday pillow section.  They are so easy to display, buy, ship, give as a gift and store until next year. Here are a few of our newest designs.  

Feliz Navidad pillow 

This pillow, with Santa holding a sign, can be customized to say anything you'd like!  It can be your name, some sarcastic remark or keep it as is.  It's up to you.  

Santa's sign throw pillow - Reindeer

I haven't purchased these bathtowels yet, so I honestly don't know how they look, feel, dry, etc., but they are adorable!  You also don't have to buy the whole set - you can get just hand towels or wash cloths or bath towels.  I may have to get the hand towels.  

Snowflake bath towel set

I like this set.  I thought the candy stripe was quite festive with the large floral design on the bath towel.  It brings festive into the bathroom without having everything be matchy matchy. 

The Kissing Clauses, my photo of the pair that I found a few years ago.  I love the Santa and Mrs. Clause pair, so much so that we have this photograph on about everything Christmasy that we could think of!  Here they are in a lovely little heart shaped ornament. 

My life revolves around organ donation and transplant, so it only makes sense that I HAD to have one Donate Life reference in this list.  The retro sign design is a Steve original and I couldn't be happier in how wonderful it turned out.  The silver snowflake ornament is one of the most popular sellers.  


Most of the items sold on Zazzle can be customized with your own photo, but here's one we made that has a fun string of lights around the outside.  Find a photo you love and see how it looks!
 Christmas Lights ornament 

A great stocking stuffer would be this magnet with one of my original photos of a vintage Santa Clause.  This Santa is a Christmas Tree Stand - I wish I could have purchased it for my own collection, but all I could do was get a photo of it.  
Finally for today is a doormat.  The iconic car with Christmas Tree - customizable with your name or whatever you wish.   You can even change the color of the text or the font.  So much in Zazzle is customizable and you can make it yours.  

If you would like to see almost all that we have created for Christmas, below are the different collections.  You can click on the link and be taken right there.   We have apparel, cards, mugs and decor.  We also have stuff for transplant recipients, caregivers and those that like to spread the word of organ donation.  (But that will be another post!) 

Festive Mugs
Festive Mugs
by Kristin 'n' Steve

Thank you so much for looking at our stores. 
Have a great day!
Kristin (and Steve, too)

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Roasted Green Beans with Parmesan and Panko

Roasted green beans with Parmesan and Panko bread crumbs was a new recipe to me, but no more.  (I changed the recipe just a little from what I used in the photo.)  The absolute ease in preparing this delicious smelling and tasting side dish was so noticeable.  I had almost zero dishes to wash and I had everything in my fridge already.  The longest it took was to clean the beans, but having had that job since I was a kid, it hardly seems like a chore. Snap, toss in bin, snap, toss in bin, snap, toss...

The cast of characters.  Green beans, panko crumbs and Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, salt and a sheet pan with sides.  I purchased fresh green beans today and the remaining ingredients were already in the house.

I broke off the stem end of the green beans, no sense breaking off the other as it's just fine to eat that little tail.  I washed them thoroughly and laid them out on the sheet pan with a dishtowel over the top and dried them as best as I could.   Drying the green beans makes sure the beans roast and not steam.  It also helps the oil stick to them.

Here's my Parmesan Cheese, I always keep some handy as it's a versatile ingredient and it keeps such a long time in either the fridge or freezer. I have shredded, ground up (like above) and whole wedges.  A shape for any purpose!

 I recently purchased an Oskar chopper.  I used one when I lived with a boyfriend and when we went our separate ways, in 1994, he gave me Oskar.   When I separated from my husband in 2013 he asked for Oskar and I thought, Sure!  It's from an ex-boyfriend, I might as well have the soon-to-be ex-husband take it.  Maybe it will be good mojo to pass it along.

HOWEVER, I really, really missed him!  Oskar, that is.  I was really regretting giving him away.  When I started having to cook more and more at home I was almost in a panic that I didn't have the versatility of Oskar.  Since giving Oskar away I had used several different kinds of small electric choppers and for me, they didn't work like I wanted them to.  When I met Steve he had a Cuisinart Food Processor, the large one, the awesome one and I really enjoyed using it, but I really missed having a smaller version for smaller tasks.

I went on a mission.  I did a little research and you know what?  Those Sunbeam Oskars are very much sought after.  The Oskar hasn't been made in quite awhile probably because these devils don't die!  Seriously, how many appliances have you had for several decades? There's one on eBay that's over $300.  I certainly wasn't going to pay that price.  Searching wasn't too difficult as there were several online for sale, as well as a bunch of parts available to fix old ones.  When it was all said and done I paid about $60 for the whole shebang including shipping.

 All of this talk about Oskar was just to say - the Parmesan that's in the bowl was chopped in the Oskar.  I didn't do anything but chunk it up and put it in and whirl.  Small little pieces of parm, easy to use, store, refrigerate and freeze.

before roasting
after roasting

Back to the roasted green beans.  I roasted them and then  immediately plated them for us.  I wanted them right off the sheet pan.  No waiting.

The Panko was a little salty and crispy because the Parmesan melted right into it.  The green beans were still a bit crunchy and roasting always brings out such a different flavor than just plain boiling.  Roasted, rustic, nutty flavor with some crunch.

You have to try this.

Come back and let me know what you thought of it.

Roasted Green Beans
with Parmesan and Panko

1 lb fresh green beans, stemmed and washed
1 T olive oil
2 T grated  Parmesan Cheese
2 T Panko bread crumbs
½ t salt
½ t garlic powder

Preheat oven to 400° F

Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl; toss to coat. If you need more olive oil, add in just enough.  You don't want the entire dish to be too oily.

Spread green beans on a large baking sheet with sides.

Roast for 15-20 minutes; turn the beans halfway through.

Eat as soon as possible, they cool off quickly but don't worry, they are good cooled off, too.

Have a great day!