GARDENING: The Charlie Brown Christmas Cactus


Our Christmas cactus has seen better days. My wife said to do something about it so I'm repotting it. This is how it looked before I started.


First, it's off to the store to get some cactus potting mix.


Next, with some gloves because there is still a few small and sharp needles, I remove it from the hanging basket and knock off all the old mix.


I find an appropriate pot to put it in.


Fill about half way with mix...


...and tamp down.


The plant kind of fell apart when I removed the mix from it so I pick the healthiest looking piece and put it in the pot, fill the rest of the way with mix, and tamp down the mix very firmly with a hammer handle.


Water it in with B1...


...and put it where it will get normal watering.

Let's hope it come back strong.

Darryl Musick
Copyright 2019 - All Rights Reserved


D-DAY - Living with Type 2: 2018 Update, New Meds, New Results


An ongoing look a life as a type II diabetic...

Last year at this time, I was in the 8 range for my A1C readings and pushing 160-190 on my glucose readings. My weight wasn't going anywhere, either, so in June, I sat down with my doctor and discusses my options.



I had been taking a combination of Metformin and pioglitazone to control my glucose, plus supplementing those with broccoli sprout extract. 

I hate the pioglitazone because it doesn't do a lot for my readings...a very temporary drop of 10 points or so...and has the troubling side effect of weight gain. It also increases your risk for bladder cancer.

My personal research showed that SGLT2 Inhibitors also lower your numbers and have a common side effect of weight loss.  This class is where you find the likes of Trulicity, Farxiga, and Jardiance.

The bad side effects of this type of drug, where it triggers your kidneys to flush out excess blood sugar through urination, is dehydration which can lead to a urinary tract infection. 

Still, it sounded like something that would work for me...I'd just have to make sure to stay hydrated.

Before my June appointment, I check with my insurer to see how much these meds...which currently have no generic equivalent...would cost. Jardiance, for example, without insurance would be well above $500 for a 1 month supply. With my insurance, Trulicity would be $100 a month and Jardiance $35.

My doctor preferred the once-a-week injection of Trulicity but I preferred paying the lower amount for the pill form of Jardiance. He said he'd consider it after he reviewed the results of this visit's tests.

Low and behold, the lab got the instructions wrong and didn't do a A1C test...the main test to check on a diabetic's progress. The doctor told me to come back in for another blood test. After being stuck 5 times for the last test, I wasn't thrilled with that prospect. 


Metformin, twice a day, and one Jardiance in the morning

I told him I'd wait until the next 3 month checkup and would appreciate it if he'd make the call to the pharmacy for the Jardiance.  He was agreeable to this so I started the new Jardiance regimen (at 10mg a day, the lowest dose).



I haven't gotten any UTIs yet but I do get very thirsty and dehydrated at times. I now have a liter sized sports bottle that I bought in Calgary last year. This gets filled once in the morning, drank from during the day, then filled again at dinner so I drink two liters of water a day.

As you can imagine, I need to know where the nearest restroom is at all times but, otherwise, it's a small price to pay.

In addition, I had my first hypoglycemic incident when I took my midday metformin at a local diner after ordering. The food didn't come out for 45 minutes and I got real woozy until the manager gave me a glass of orange juice.  I'll never take metformin again with having some food handy.

Fast forward to October, it's time for my next checkup.  A1C has dropped to 7.4. Still too high but headed in the right direction. My weight has finally started to drop again, another 5 pounds came off bringing my total weight loss from diagnosis (three years ago) to 30 pounds. My blood sugar numbers have dropped back to the 120-140 range, with occasional forays down below 100 and up to 180.


For now, it's not a perfect score but it's headed in the right direction. The doctor agrees, too, so we'll keep this regimen in place and keep monitoring every few months. Since this is a progressive disease, there will come a time when we'll need to adjust again but I'll enjoy this level for awhile.

(DISCLAIMER: This series about Type II is not meant to apply to everyone. This is what works for me, you need to consult with your own medical professionals to find out what will work for you.  My goal here is to simply give you hope that once you're diagnosed, life as you know it does not have to end...you can still enjoy life and the treats it offers.)

Darryl Musick
Copyright 2018 - All Rights Reserved

THE LEGACY OF LEFTOVERS: Fried Steak Tacos


Last week, I made some really good Mexican style rib eye steaks on the barbecue. They were delicious but I made more than we can eat. This week, I'm using those leftovers to make a quick dinner here at home instead of going out to spend too much money on fast food.


I have about eight ounces of steak in this container. 


I'll chop it up into thin, small pieces.


That chopped steak will go into a skillet for 3-4 minutes over medium heat. Just to warm it up, not so much to cook it anymore. That will be set aside for a minute when done.

I'll take 8 corn tortillas and warm them up in the microwave on high for 30 seconds. I'll put 1/8 of the steak into a tortilla, sprinkle on some shredded cheddar or jack (or better yet, a blend of the two), some hot salsa, and fold over.

In a 12" skillet, I'm putting in 3 tablespoons of olive oil and bringing up the heat to medium for about 4 minutes of preheating.  Two of the filled tortillas will go in. Hold the tortilla down with a wooden spoon to keep from unfolding for about a minute, until the cheese melts enough to glue it together.


About 2-3 minutes on each side, until slightly browned and crispy. Put on a paper towel on a plate and cover until all the tacos are done.

They're now delicious, crunchy, and ready to eat.

Darryl Musick
Copyright 2018 - All Rights Reserved

DINNER TIME! Mexican Style Rib Eye Steak


Sometimes, we'll go to a restaurant and have a great meal...a great meal that I'd like to replicate at home. This week's recipe is one of those.

Rudy's is a Mexican restaurant near our home in Monrovia, California. On the menu, under "Carne Asada," is this one...what comes out is basically a rib eye steak served with rice and beans.

Here is my version...


INGREDIENTS

4 10- oz choice (or better), 1 inch thick rib eye steaks
1 bunch Mexican green onions (can substitute regular green onions if needed)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons melted butter
1-2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
Kosher salt and pepper to taste


Put the steaks in a plastic bowl, platter, large dish, etc.


Sprinkle Worcestershire sauce on both sides .


Brush melted butter onto both sides.


Sprink Kosher salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper on both sides.


On a hot grill, with burning charcoal on one half only,  place the onions over the hot coals for three minutes on each side. Then, put the onions on the other side of the grill (indirect heat). Put the steak over the coals for three minute per side.

Move steaks to indirect heat side of grill. Place one onion on top of each steak. Cook covered (with lid on) 6-7 minutes per side for medium rare.


Place on platter, cover with foil for a 10 minute rest when done.

We like to serve with rice and beans, plus a grille onion you can slice up and eat with the steak, and a little hot salsa sprinkled over the top.

Darryl Musick
Copyright 2018 - All Rights Reserved

CHEAP EATS: Restaurant Specials to Save You Some Lettuce


We all love a good deal. We love 'em even better when we're on a limited income and have to watch our cash flow like a hawk. One thing we've noticed is the date and time sensitive specials restaurants will run from time-to-time.

Dining out is an expensive proposition, so these deals really come in handy sometimes...here's a few that we've notice.


The 5th Day at Philly's Best. Philly's Best is a local Southern California chain that specialized in cheesesteak sandwiches. Yeah, they're not Geno's or Pat's, but they're still pretty good.

On any date that ends in a "5," you can get any sandwich on their menu for $5.55. That means Tim and I can get their cheesesteak sandwich, which is easily enough for both of us, for almost two dollars off. Other sandwiches that are normally $8.49 (such as the Buffalo chicken sandwich) are also only $5.55.


At Popeye's Louisiana Chicken, you can pick up two pieces of chicken for around two bucks on Tuesddays (two on Tuesday). Delicious, too.


Church's Chicken, not to be outdone, will give you a thigh, two drumsticks, and a biscuit for $2.99 but this is available pretty much all the time.

Carl's Jr. has a sliders happy hour from 2-5pm each day where the little burgers are available for a buck each.


If you're a fan of the drive-in at Sonic, Tuesday nights after 5pm are Family Night with half-price cheeseburgers.

You can also get half-price drinks and slushes plus 99 cent corn dogs every day from 2-4pm during their happy hour.


Of course, there's always the buck fifty hot dog and soda at the Costco food court everyday but, if you're trying to go healthy, their $4.99 acai bowl is hard to beat.

Finally, we need some desert, so show up any 31st day of the month at Baskin Robbins to get their delicious ice cream for only $1.50 a scoop.

Happy (and cheap) eating!

Darryl Musick
Copyright 2018 - All Rights Reserved


DINNER TIME! Baked Pork Chops


This week, I'm pulling out some pork chops from our freezer. Hmm..fry them? Barbecue? I think I'll bake them, sort of like a home made 'shake 'n bake.'

They're frozen and I want to make them for dinner so I have a quick way to prepare them and defrost the the same time. I'm making some brine, which I'll put in the ziploc bag the chops are in to make them tasty, tendy, juicy, and thawed at the same time.


For the brine, I put half a liter of water into a sauce pan. Two heaping tablespoons of Kosher salt, a teaspoon each of marjoram, terragon, and sage go into the water, which I bring to a boil. When it does boil, I stir it vigorously, let boil for another minute and then remove from heat.

Let that sit for 10 minutes before adding into the bag with the chops. Let that marinate for 4-6 hours.


I have some leftover roasted potatoes from last week's chicken dinner. There's also a zucchini in the fridge that I can use for the side.


I coat a baking pan with olive oil.  The chops go into a plastic bowl where I pour some half and half on them. I sprinkle with black pepper and then bread crumbs. Turn them over and do the same thing.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cook for 30 minutes. Then remove from oven.

Remove the pork chops and put the potatoes on the bottom of the pan (if you're using uncooked potatoes, put them in at the beginning - see last week's recipe on how to prepare them). Put the chops back in on top of the potatoes with the cooked side down.


Dice up the zucchini.


Fill in the spaces in between the chops with the zucchini. Sprinkle some Kosher salt on them. 


Drizzle a little quality olive oil on the zucchini.

Put back in the oven for 25 minutes.

At the end of 25 minutes, increase temperature to 475 and cook for 15 more minutes for browning. After this, you're ready to serve.

Darryl Musick
Copyright 2018 - All Rights Reserved

DINNER TIME! Lemon Garlic Chicken and Potatoes


We have a lot of chicken thighs frozen in our freezer. Letty had some leftover lemon garlic marinade. Taylor made for a quick, easy, and delicious dinner.

First, I better give you the marinade. I used leftover but use the juice of a lemon, 6 garlic cloves minced, a tablespoon of olive oil, a sprinkle of Kosher salt and pepper.  Use this as a rub on your chicken and, when you cook it, save the drippings...that's how we ended up with leftover marinade.


Take three thighs, put in a ziploc bag with the marinade (fresh or leftover...only difference is that the leftover also has chicken stock), and let sit in the fridge for 6 hours.


Dice up some yellow potatoes.


Put in a ziploc bag, sprinkle in about a quarter teaspoon of Kosher salt, a few sprinkles of black pepper, and a teaspoon of olive oil. Shake well in sealed bag.


Smear olive oil on a baking pan, put the potatoes in the bottom of the pan.


Put the thighs on top of the potatoes, skin side up. Sprinkle some Parmesan cheese on top. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.


I'm also cooking a little broccoli for the side. Prepare the same way as the potatoes and wrap in foil with a little opening at the top.

Put the baking dish with the potatoes and chicken in the oven. Cook for 30 minutes. Turn chicken, put back in oven for another 30 minutes. Put the broccoli in the oven at this time, also.

At the end of the second 30 minutes, turn the chicken skin side up again. Increase heat to 475 and cook for another 15 minutes to crisp the skin.


It should look like the picture above when done.

Darryl Musick
Copyright 2018 - All Rights Reserved

GARDENING: The Charlie Brown Christmas Cactus

Our Christmas cactus has seen better days. My wife said to do something about it so I'm repotting it. This is how it looked before I ...