Lisa Lately

Random musings about life, family, and crochet

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Name: Lisa
Location: Indiana, United States

I'm a perfectionist. What more do you need to know?

Friday, March 24, 2006

Pardon This Commercial Interruption

I really don't want to sound like a commercial, but I realize that's how this is going to sound. So, yeah, I apologize in advance.

On most days, I fix a big healthy salad (recipe below) for my lunch. I have Hidden Valley Light Ranch dressing with it. I've eaten this light low-fat dressing for several years now. It's good, especially for a light dressing, but not as good as regular full-fat dressing, of course. (And for the record, both the regular and the light versions of Hidden Valley Original Ranch are the best-tasting bottled ranch dressings. I haven't tried the nonfat version, though, so I can't comment on that one.)

So, okay, here's the part that's going to sound like a commercial. Recently I open a new bottle of Hidden Valley Light Ranch dressing and am startled by the delicious — yes, delicious — dressing. Not merely good, but delicious. I look at the label to be sure I hadn't accidentally bought regular ranch dressing. No, the label says "Hidden Valley the Original Ranch Light Dressing." I take another bite of my salad. My tastebuds have a little party. This tastes as great as regular full-fat ranch dressing. I pick up the bottle again. Yes, it says "Light" right there on the label. And on the back label. And on the label wrapped around the neck. Has Hidden Valley reformulated its light dressing? If so, this could revolutionize salads! Imagine, a light ranch dressing that tastes exactly like a regular full-fat ranch dressing! I reread the label. Nowhere does it say "New! Improved!" Hmm, I say to myself, perhaps this bottle was accidentally mislabeled. If that's the case, when I open the next bottle, I'm going to be awfully disappointed and I'm going to have to get used to merely good dressing again instead of great dressing.

And now I'm in a quandary. Do I call Hidden Valley customer service and risk sounding like some cheesy beer commercial: "Um, yeah, my new bottle of light ranch dressing tastes really great. Have you all added extra flavor to your light ranch dressing, or maybe did a batch of regular ranch dressing get the wrong labels?"

I have such a hard life.

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Lisa's Big Healthy Salad

• 2–3 cups of torn romaine lettuce
• freshly ground pepper
• 1 tablespoon of Hidden Valley Original Ranch Light dressing
• 2 thin slices of good-quality deli turkey, cut or torn into bite-size pieces
• ¼ cup of shredded carrots
• ¼ cup of frozen corn or peas
• 2 tablespoons of dried cranberries
• ½ large apple, chopped (save other half for tomorrow, in a zipper bag with a splash of lemon juice)
• ¼ cup toasted pecans (spread on a cookie sheet, bake in preheated 350° oven for 10–15 minutes, until you can smell the toasted nuts; let cool; store in an airtight container in the refrigerator)

Put romaine lettuce into a one-quart bowl, add freshly ground pepper to taste and the dressing. Mix thoroughly so the dressing lightly coats all the lettuce. Mixing this way is the secret to being able to use much less dressing on your salad without sacrificing the flavor of the dressing. Add the remaining ingredients. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Catching Up

I had my modified barium swallow last week, and that went well. It showed that the paralyzed vocal cord is affecting my swallowing, but not terribly. I've been paying closer attention to how I swallow and when it causes me to choke, and I've noticed that it nearly always happens when my head is slightly tilted back — for example, when I drink out of a bottle, or when we eat out at a restaurant that has TVs along the ceiling and I tilt my head back to watch one while swallowing. So long as I take small sips and remember to tuck my chin when swallowing, as directed by the speech therapist in the hospital, I don't have trouble very often.

I now have an appointment for Thursday to actually begin speech therapy. I'm rather excited in an odd way about this. My doctor told me not to expect much voice improvement, but rather we'd probably focus on compensating techniques. He had said previously that vocal cords can sometimes recover spontaneously, but that it's less likely when the vocal cord is actually paralyzed rather than just paresed (weakened). He said today that if the vocal cord paralysis doesn't spontaneously recover within a year or so, we can consider surgical remedies, but that these won't completely restore my voice. So I really do need to accept the strong possibility that my voice will be impaired forever.

I also had some bloodwork done to be sure the remaining half of my thyroid is functioning correctly, and it's doing just fine. Most people can get along easily with half a thyroid, but you need periodic testing to be sure. I won't need a recheck on this until next year now.

I'm about halfway finished with my afghan, and I just love how it's turning out. The colors I selected are perfect. I want to keep this one for myself, but it's a gift, so drat! Here you can see Rika helping me crochet.

Brigid has been accepted into the Center for Talent Development's summer program at Northwestern University. She attended one session last summer, where she took a full year of AP physics in three weeks. She loved it so much that she begged to go to both sessions this summer. She's going to take Latin during the first session and AP calculus during the second session. Again, a full year of study in just three weeks each session.

Brigid has to leave campus for the weekend between sessions, so this means Ron and I will have to make three trips to Chicago this summer. Man, I hate it when that happens! :-) Chicago is just far enough away that we'll have to stay two nights each trip. We'll probably add a few days to one or two of the trips, though. I love Chicago — the shopping, the restaurants, the Art Institute, the Cubs, just walking around!