JEWEL: Journal for Experienced Women Enjoying Life

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Managing an Aging S.O. – Tougher of Women

Over the years I’ve worked with many  couples and families who are struggling to deal with an elder’s incapacity.  The usual suspects of dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, or strokes leave many seniors not only unwilling to care for themselves, but unable to admit it, sometimes violently so.  This is one area of household management where men hold an unfair advantage.  Sheer physical mass and bone structure can allow a concerned husband or boyfriend to take care of a belligerent female partner, guiding her to the doctor’s office, preventing her from driving, or simply defending himself from flying pots and pans.

Unfortunately for women, the flip side is also true.  Women living with an aging partner can find themselves correspondingly less able to manage a boyfriend or husband who is bigger, stronger, and angrier due to the confusion of mental illness.  While the male half of a relationship can sometimes afford to ignore this potential problem, women cannot.  Professional nurses and elder care assistants receive training to deal with chronic or random violence on the parts of their patients, and even so, many are assaulted each year by the very people they are trying to help.  The assaults happen so often that only the most drastic make it to the courtroom, where judges tend to shelter the patient due to his or her condition.  In Gregory v. Cott in late 2014, California’s highest court prevented a caregiver who had been slashed with a knife from recovering damages from the Alzheimer’s patient  responsible for her injury, using the rationalization that the caregiver knew the risk she was getting into. Inside care homes, furniture and appliances may be bolted down, and carving knives unavailable – but if your significant other lost his senses and grew violent, how comfortable would you be with him rummaging through the kitchen?

To protect themselves from a future incapacity, many couples rely on Powers of Attorney,  but most Powers of Attorney can be revoked by a sick person disavowing them.  A confrontational senior with Alzheimer’s can rip up the very Power of Attorney that, in his more clear-headed years, he’d intended for his wife to use to care for him.  When this happens, most couples are forced to turn to the legal system, and request that a judge name a court-appointed guardian who can overrule the sick person – a confrontational , expensive, and quite frequently embarrassing process.  When I have the privilege of meeting with couples who are both still mental sound, I prefer using a Guardian Trust to allow one partner to be the others caregiver without requiring court intervention later on.  Mathematically speaking, men – by virtue of average mass alone – may have the luxury of putting this concern aside for late, but senior ladies rarely do.
Article by Trevor S. Draigeth, Esq.


Super Day Sunday Soup

Super day Sunday is almost here.  If you are like me, I want to invite friends over to help me cheer on my favorite team.  I also want to serve them something fun but filling.  I have used this easy to make soup on many occasions and it is always a winner, especially if you serve it with some cheese quesadillas cut into wedges.

Mom’s Taco Soup (makes 8 servings)bowl of taco soup
1 lb lean ground beef
l large yellow onion minced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 pkg. (4 oz.) dry ranch dressing mix, like Hidden Valley
2 cans (4.5 oz.) chopped green chiles
2 cans (15oz.) ranch-style beans with jalapenos
2 cans (10 oz.) mild diced tomatoes with green chiles, like RoTel
2 cans (29 oz.) Mexican-style hominy, rinsed and drained
Shredded Cheddar cheese and sour cream
In  large saucepan over medium heat, saute ground beef, yellow onions and crushed garlic until beef is browned.  Add dry ranch dressing mix, chopped green chiles, beans with jalapenos and diced tomatoes. Stir in 3 cups water and bring mixture to a boil.  Reduce heat and let summer 45 minutes.  Add rinsed hominy and cook until heated through.  Spoon soup into bowls, add toppings and serve with quesadilla wedges.

Now go ahead and yell for that favorite team.


Holiday Table

white and silver table settingWe have asked Lois Hayden, an Interior designer to tell us how she would design her favorite Christmas Table. We realize this might be a challenge for her as Lois is used to designing entire homes or, at the least, large living spaces.

Dee: Lois, what theme would you pick for your Christmas table?
Lois: I would choose a traditional theme, but it would be a formal southern traditional theme.

Dee: What about the color scheme?
Lois: I just read an article that says the color for this year is alabaster – an off white. I would combine the alabaster with silver and a very slight touch of color.

Dee: Can you start from the table up and give us a mental picture of this perfect Christmas or holiday table?
Lois: I would keep it simple but elegant and as I mentioned the color scheme is alabaster which is the “in” color scheme this year. If I were to choose my all-time favorite table – I would begin with my elegant white linen table cloth laced with a shimmering fine silver thread which I bought years ago and makes a wonderful platform to begin my holiday table. We want to stay consistent with the over- all color scheme of alabaster and silver so I would use silver chargers under plain white china dinner plates. Of course I would use my favorite ornate Gorham sterling silver ware and my finest crystal goblets.

The festive center piece and focal point would be a simple basket I found at Good Will and sprayed silver. It would be filled with flocked white pine cones with touches of glistening silver. I bought the pines cones at my local hobby store and sprayed them myself. Surrounding each side of the basket would be elegant silver candle sticks with white dripless candles creating the right ambience for the festive occasion. I don’t use large candelabras on the dining table because they block the view of guests looking across to other quests. For a small touch of color, I would tie some holly with a small silver and white bow on the handle of the basket. Napkins – I always use white linen napkins and I would tie them with a silver ribbon and place them along side of the plates. I stay away from purchased napkin holders which can become cumbersome and clutter the formal look. For another small touch of color I would use a small sprig of holly with each place card.

To finish the festive look, I would gracefully tie a 2” wide silver/white satin ribbon around the back of each chair with a large bow and a small sprig of holly with red berries in the center of the bow. Also, as a small favor for each guest, I would wrap a Christmas ornament and place it in the center of each plate.
Now stand back, take a look and “wow” over what an elegant festive table we just created.
Article by Lois Hayden, Interior designer and retired member of ASID


Thanksgiving Eve Cheese Board

November signals the beginning of the holiday season– the season of entertaining! My thoughts already drift back to the tall white pines of Northwest Wisconsin, where my husband and I have entertained family and friends for 35 years at our lake home, affectionately dubbed, “Three Bucks Lodge”.

Even though Thanksgiving is about turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes, an autumn-themed cheese board by the fire, accompanied by fine wine, can become your newest Thanksgiving Eve tradition. To me, a cheese platter is essential to any holiday gathering, and can always be a great help when already busy preparing a holiday dinner.

Choose your favorite nostalgic Thanksgiving cheese platter design! Aesthetically pleasing, historically relevant, and impressively opulent as an overflowing cornucopia, your favorite wooden, slate, marble cheeseboard, or favorite Thanksgiving platter can all serve for your special presentation.cheese-board (Medium)

Plan on serving a variety of somewhere between three to five cheeses. The idea is to tempt the taste buds with cheeses of distinctly different styles, tastes, and textures. For a simple, but interesting cheese board, start with these three selections: one soft cheese, one firm cheese and one blue vein cheese. To expand your offerings, add a spreadable cheese like fresh chevre, or a “surprise” cheese flavored with wine, spices or herbs. Fall spices like nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon pair beautifully with cheese.

Include both savory and sweet accompaniments. Fruits and spreads are nice additions. I often include mustards, chutneys, and cranberry compotes as well as cinnamon almonds, spiced pecans, hazelnuts, pistachios, spiced pumpkin seeds and homemade marmalades. To make your cheese board an edible piece of art, garnish it with natural ingredients; figs, grapes, apples, and pears all add beautiful autumn color and flavor. Forget the crackers. Nuts provide that rich, earthy texture, leaving more room to taste the many cheese flavors. For bread lovers, a multi-grain baguette adds flair.

Place approximate quarter-pound servings of each cheese triangle evenly apart on your cheese platter. Scatter nuts between the cheeses and set the preserves in the mix. (Example: serve pomegranate relish with a good Stilton or sharp cheddar). Last but not least, make sure you have a separate cheese knife for each cheese and for your preserves. There’s no need to mix the flavors of Blue cheese with Brie, right?

What about chocolate and cheese? Chocolate is sweet, while cheese is considered savory. Alone, they are often considered our favorite treats. Paired, they transform into something quite special. Serve chocolates that add a contrasting texture to typically soft or crumbly cheeses. Chocolate-covered espresso beans, toffee or caramels give an added “wow” factor, as do holiday-appropriate dark or white chocolate-covered cranberries.

And the wine? I follow three simple rules. In general, pair fresh cheeses with Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Noir, blue cheeses with Sauternes and Port, and aged cheeses with Zinfandel or Burgundy. A sparkling cranberry cocktail or cider drink can provide a refreshing alternative.slippers-fire-280x300

The ultimate kick-off to the Thanksgiving holiday weekend? Kick off your shoes, put on those jeweled slippers, and enjoy Thanksgiving Eve- the family is about to arrive!

Article by Michelle Wiklund


Quick holiday appetizers

The holidays are just around the corner and with that busy time of year comes lots of parties and entertaining. It is the time of year I love to have friends and family over to share in an evening of fun and good food. If you are like me, I am always looking for new recipes. Not only do I like easy ones, but ones that I can make up ahead, freeze, and pull out on the spur of the moment when friends pop by. Here are two of my favorites.

Sausage Dip
1 lb. Jimmy Dean sausage
1 can Rotel chopped tomatoes
1 8 oz. cream cheese      
1/3 cup cheddar cheese

Brown 1 lb. sausage in frying pan over medium heat. Break sausage into small pieces with a spoon while browning. Drain grease. Add 8 oz. of cream cheese and stir until totally blended into sausage. Add 1 can Rotel (drained) and stir until blended well into sausage mixture. Pour mixture into oven proof casserole dish. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Serve hot with chips. My favorite with this dip is Frito scoops

Cheese Wafers
13/4 c. cheddar cheese shredded
½ tsp cayenne pepper
1 stick (8 oz.) butter  
½ tsp seasoned salt
½ tsp dry mustard    
½ cup pecans chopped fine
½ tsp garlic powder

Soften cheese and butter and mix well. Add all other ingredients and blend with hands. Roll into ½ tbsp. size balls. Balls can be put on a cookie sheet at this point and frozen and stored in plastic bags for later use or baked immediately. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes. Serve immediately. If using frozen balls, defrost for approximately 30 minutes before baking. (Balls will flatten while baking.)

Article by Dee Saunders