Strip Down To Your Skivvies!

Meet my friend, Kate:

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Okay…technically it’s just Kate’s arm. But I could have a friend that’s just an arm! You don’t know my business!

Last time I saw Kate, she was rocking a hella big scar on her arm. I wish she had taken a picture of it because it was pretty cool…all folded over skin and awesomeness. Now it’s a pretty, ladylike scar. But still cool.

Kate had a mole on her arm that had been bothering her for a few months. 4 to be exact. It had started out as 3 moles that she had checked out and biopsied a few years ago. The results came back fine. Then, in Kate’s words “it grew back 2 years later fast and furious as one big mole.”

ONE MOLE TO RULE THEM ALL!

It itched and when she scratched it, it hurt. Then it started hurting all of the time. It was just sore, not painful. Kate says that looking back it was textbook. The size, the shape, the varying colors.

Still…I bet it would have been easy to ignore. Especially since it had already gotten the all clear once before. And there is the myth that ‘cancer doesn’t hurt’. According to Kate’s dermatologist, that’s a big, fat lie.

Except she didn’t ignore it. YAY KATE! Her second biopsy came back as being cancerous and they cut that sucker out.

So a tip of my SPF 50 hat to you, Kate! You took charge and kicked ass!

Did you know that May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month?

Neither did I!! That’s why I am posting this on May 31st. I mean, I’m a procrastinator but I’m not THAT bad.

With all of the crap that clutters up my news feed I can’t believe that there was no mention of it. It’s kind of important. Skin cancer is a pretty sucko cancer to get (not saying there is a ‘good’ cancer). But it’s fast and aggressive.

And we ALL say the same thing. “I really need to go get my moles checked!”

So go get your mol-e-os checked. Yes. You. I went last summer and it had been TEN years since my last check. Now THAT’S procrastination. I was a little nervous. I’m super moley and some of them had changed. What surprised me the most was that none of the moles that concerned me turned out to be anything to worry about. It was a teeny, tiny freckle on my leg that she biopsied. I never would have noticed it and it turned out fine but the point is…I NEVER WOULD HAVE NOTICED IT!

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Girl. Push those cuticles back. Sheesh.

“Buuuut Daaaaanielle,” I can hear you whining…”I don’t have insurance!”

Well lookey here.

http://www.aad.org/spot-skin-cancer/what-we-do/free-skin-cancer-screenings#.Uaj78-tsyHA

Free skin cancer screenings. You are welcome. Just enter your zip code and find one by you. And if they don’t have one in your area, you can sign up to be notified when one is scheduled.

What’s your excuse now? Huh?? I mean you’ll strip down to your underwear and be examined inch by inch under harsh florescent lighting. Without the benefit of wine. Come on! How could that not be fun?

You’ll either get a clean bill of mole health and then you can be all proud of yourself about your use of protective clothing and sun screen OR you’ll have something that needs to be biopsied and you get to pat yourself on the back for being proactive and getting it checked out.

Either way, you get to be justifiably smug. And how often can you do that??

UPDATE: Kate wants to let you know that she is religious about applying and reapplying sunscreen so even if you are a sun care fanatic…you shouldn’t let that lull you into a false sense of security! Now get thee to a skin doc! Posthaste!

How Much Wood Can A Wood Chuck Chuck?

This post might make a wood chuck upchuck.  And maybe you too.  It’s…errr…ummm…introspective?  I hope I used that word in the right context…

First off…let me begin by introducing you to my logs.  (Heh Heh…)

Look at those tree trunks sitting on a log!

Look at those tree trunks sitting on a log!

It all started when I saw a cool table that one of my favorite bloggers over at The Art Of Doing Stuff made out of a tree stump. (If you like cool projects, chickens and funny Canadian chicks then you’ll like her.) I wanted to try the same project minus the legs.  Ummm…the table legs AND Trap’s legs.  Then I saw that ol’ Martha had done a stump table too but she left off the legs and painted the top with a beautiful blue enamel paint. (If you like impossible projects that involve Pantone colored chicken eggs or hand harvested wheat that is only available in 1 square mile of Eastern Maine for 76 hours out of the year…then you’ll like Martha’s blog.)

I haven’t learned how to link yet so here is the table from The Art Of Doing Stuff:  http://www.theartofdoingstuff.com/stumped-how-to-make-a-tree-stump-table/

And here is Martha’s.  (Or Marty as I like to call her when we get together and knock back a few brewskies):  http://www.marthastewart.com/270888/tree-table

“Heeeeey!” I thought.  “I have access to lots of logs!” (Heh heh…)

Sidenote:  To Whom It May Concern.  In my next life, please do not send me back with a 14 year old boy’s sense of humor.  Thank you.

We have family with some land.  And a lot of dead trees from the drought last year.  They have been cutting them down like crazy so I asked them to keep an eye out for any good pieces of wood they might come across.

Of course this caused MUCH rolling of the eyes from my spouse.  He was rolling his eyes so hard that 13 year old girls were coming over to take lessons from him.

So now I HAD to actually do something with these logs.  Doh.

Now I was supposed to let them sit and dry out for a month.  To make the bark easier to peel off.  Ooops.  Instead I just started working on them right way.  With a little help from my friends.

"Okay, you stab yourself in the leg with that screwdriver and I'll tip this log over and crush Mom's ankle.  Aaaand GO."

“Okay, you stab yourself in the leg with that screwdriver and I’ll tip this log over and crush Mom’s ankle. Aaaand GO.”

It took forever.  No joke.  The kids were fascinated the first few days I worked on them.  Sharp tools and the possibility of being maimed…what wasn’t to love?

Until I got out the sander.  They hate the sander.  TOO NOISY!

Sander

In unrelated news....sales of sanders have risen 300% amongst women with small children...

In unrelated news….sales of sanders have risen 300% amongst women with small children…

In the midst of this project I had my first visit with the naturopathic doctor.  Now a naturopathic does a whole body/mind thing.  So for the first 2 hour appointment we just talked.  About…everything.  Stuff.  I cried. A lot.  I’m a crier.  It was VERY therapeutic.  But one thing she asked me that really stuck with me was, “Are you an angry person?  Do you hold anger?”

NO!

That was my immediate, knee jerk reply.  And it’s mostly true.  I don’t like to be angry.  I’m the person you can cut in front of in the grocery store line and I probably won’t say anything because I don’t feel like it’s worth it.  Getting mad never makes me feel better.  And it certainly doesn’t make the person you get mad at feel better.  I’ll make the conscious decision to either say something to the person or just let it go.

Except that I got home from that appointment and started sanding down those logs.  And thinking.  And thinking.  And thinking.  Sanding those things became almost meditative and do you know what I realized?

I was furious.  I was shakingly, ragingly mad.

I had been slowly been getting sick since last summer.  It started with fevers every night for a month.  Anywhere from 99 to 102 degrees.  Horrible night sweats.  Then all of a sudden…a rash.  A different rash than the ones I’ve shown you.  This was on my elbows.  Knees.  Scalp. And so painful on my hands that I couldn’t pick up my kids.

August. Dermatitis Herpetifomis.  Celiac that comes out through your skin.  So I gave up gluten and it took a few months but everything calmed down.

It’s okay it’s okay it’s okay.

September.  The swollen thyroid.  The nodules.  The biopsies.  Everything clear.

It’s okay it’s okay it’s okay.

October.  Every lymph node in my body swells up.  They recommend putting me under to take out and biopsy a whole lymph node from the back of my neck.  It comes back as negative for lymphoma.  They culture it for 2 months to check for bacteria or fungus.  Negative.

It’s okay it’s okay it’s okay.

November.  The hives start.  I’m so over doctors at this point that I decide to keep a food diary and discover that I get the hives when I drink or eat anything with sulfates.  Wine, pickled foods etc.  No problem, I cut them all out.

It’s okay it’s okay it’s okay.

Sometimes I would get random hives and I would think, “Huh…I must have eaten SOMETHING with sulfates and just didn’t realize it.”

End of February.  That’s where you joined me.  That’s when my body exploded.  Remember this?

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It just gets better with age, doesn't it?

It just gets better with age, doesn’t it?

Guess what?  That’s not okay.

That. Is. Not. Okay.

So here is what I’ve discovered while I’ve been sanding down these old pieces of oak.

Being diagnosed with a ‘chronic illness’ sucks.  It’s scary.  You go to bed every night and you don’t know what your body will do while you sleep.  More hives?  More broken blood vessels?  Lumps on my face?  Feet and hands cramping so badly from the steroids that you wake up gasping with pain.

That is justifiably infuriating.

Scarred from the vasculitis.  From the biopsies.  My body now bears marks that are a testament to this journey.

I kept sanding.  Furious.

Then I found the paths the worms had burrowed through those stumps.  And I thought they were beautiful.  It calmed me.

Don't ask me why I found a dental tool in Kyle's garage...it's rather 'Dexter' of him...

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I found scarring where they had gotten too close to the fire and been rescued just in the nick of time.  And I loved the character it gave them.

Tree Nip

And I found a superfluous nipple which I loved because I am truly a juvenile.

This has been such a journey for me.  A scary, confusing journey.  One that has caused me to stop.  And think.  And decide what I am worth.  A journey that has made me stand up and fight for myself.  To cherish and care for myself.  To put myself out there to the world every time I publish a blog post because it is scary.  But worth it if one person is helped.

Look.  At this.  Off of almost all my meds expect for the steroids (down from 60 mg/day to 25 mg/day with an end date of June 21st).  I did this.  I won’t even pretend to not be so proud that I’m giddy.

The picture on the left was taken May 3rd.  The picture on the right was taken today, May 26th.

The picture on the left was taken May 3rd. The picture on the right was taken today, May 26th.

The logs and I…we have a lot in common.  Slowly peeling off the bark.  Revealing the scarring.  And finding a beauty in it.  I’ve gotten really close to the fire.  But I’ve pulled back just in the nick of time.  And you know what?

It’s okay it’s okay it’s okay.

It really is.

Et Tu, ZPak??

WARNING: This post may…probably…OKAY FINE. DOES! contain whining.

Mama done got the plague.

From you. And you.

Trap had it. Over in 36 hours.

What's that virus?  You want a piece of this?  Yeah...I didn't think so.

What’s that, virus? You want a piece of this? Yeah…I didn’t think so.

Purple got it. Not over in 36 hours. Turned into pneumonia with a side of wicked ear infection.

"Thanks for waiting 4 days to take me to the doctor. Chapter 2 of my book, ma.  Chapter 2."

“Thanks for waiting 4 days to take me to the doctor. Chapter 2 of my book, Ma. Chapter 2.”

Of course it should come as no shock that after a solid week and a half of being drooled, crawled and chewed on by small sick creatures…it was my turn. Seriously. It was like living with spider monkeys. Not the cute, eats tiny treats out of your hand kind. The poop flinging, Ebola kind.

Cue the runny nose. The cough. The mucus. THE MUCUS. Oh the humanity! I thought I was detoxing from the juicing. I was not. Or maybe that made everything worse?? Who knows. And at that point, who cares?!

Tuesday morning I made my way to my doctor to check for a sinus infection. It was either a sinus infection or someone had punched me in the face and my teeth were about to fall out. She wrote me a prescription for a ZPak but told me to hold off on it since my immune system was already compromised from the steroids. Which I totally agreed with because I know that sinus infections can heal on their own. I also had my follow up appointment with my naturopathic doctor and she gave me a natural treatment so I started that.

(BTW everything a naturo prescribes is very fun to say as if you are casting a spell…especially if you say it very Monty Python-ish…KALI BICH KALI BICH KALI BICH!)

(I swear in the name of all that is holy I will write about the naturopathic doctor. It’s just hard to get it down properly.)

Remember the days when you could be sick and crawl under a blanket on the couch where you could alternate sleeping and watching bad daytime television? And you would wake up all sweaty and surrounded by gross tissues and NyQuil bottles and boxes of crackers and half empty mugs of soup? And then you would just fall right back to sleep. Remember?? Yeah…me neither. Sounds dreamy though.

If you watch The Walking Dead you know that a gun shot makes all of the zombies stop and head in that direction. The exact same thing happens when a sick mother hits the couch. Small, hungry creatures gravitate towards you.

Ohhh...you give the KIDS the NyQuil...NOW I get it...

Ohhh…you give the KIDS the NyQuil…NOW I get it…

Small, active boys are NOT good nurses. And leaving them to their own devices for days at a time only results in cranky, bored and restless kids.

These were placed beside me when I tried to close my eyes for a few minutes.  A warning?

These were placed beside me when I tried to close my eyes for a few minutes. A warning?

So to keep them busy we tried:

THIS DOESN'T LOOK LIKE REGULAR APPLE JUICE!  AND IT'S TOO NOISY!

Juicing. “THIS DOESN’T LOOK LIKE REGULAR JUICE FROM THE STORE!”

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Making crackers. A sharp blade in a food processor should keep them occupied, right?

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Watching crackers bake. FYI…they are arguing over which cracker is the biggest freakazoid. For real. Freakazoid??

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Yeah…not a good idea.

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2 seconds after this picture was taken they were wrestling in chicken salad.

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Best. Idea. Ever.

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Second best idea ever.

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Rocking Chair Races! Mama can sit!

Oh are you SITTING DOWN, Mom??  Excellent...you have made yourself into an excellent jungle gym...

Oh are you SITTING DOWN, Mom?? Excellent…you have made yourself into an kid approved jungle gym…

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And finally…a trip to the zoo. Where I saw the greatest donor gift ever. When I die, please please adopt a GIGANTIC pig in my name. You can see her up in the upper left…greatness.

Guess what? Despite all of that resting (ha ha) I did not get better. Did you know that a sinus infection can get so bad that the pain can radiate down your jaw and into your shoulder. Causing you to think that you are having a 3am heart attack? Nope. Neither did I. The next morning I had another doctor’s appointment and he suggested that I fill the prescription because he suspected that I had bronchitis as well.

So I gave in and filled it. And guess what?

In my new weird body reality…I am now allergic to ZPaks. Welts. Swollen throat (scary) and worst of all…the vasculitis came back. My doc took me off of the ZPak immediately and prescribed me ammoxicillin. Which I was too chicken to take.

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I’m not going to lie. This whole thing took me down down down down to a yucky place. To have that craptacular vasculitis on its way to being under control and then to see it spiral back again so quickly…blah. It made me feel like maybe I was imagining that my vasculitis had gotten better. Like maybe it was just a fluke and all of the changes and juicing had nothing to do with it.

Of course it did NOT help to have sick kids. And then to be sick. Everything just kind of goes to hell. It’s hard to eat as healthy. You’re all stuck in the house. The disgusting house because let’s be honest…you’re exhausted and your sinus infected face hurts too much to bend over to pick up toys/clothes/sippies/kids. And then the day you suck up being sick and pack everyone up and go to the zoo you get there and realize that the humidity level is 7000% and you spend the next 2 hours with tiny children wilting beside you saying “I’m hooooooooot…it’s hooooooooot…” and all you want to do is yell, “I KNOW!! IT’S DISGUSTING OUT HERE! MOMMY IS HOT TOO!!” and maybe put them both in headlocks in your gross, stinky armpits as you carry them out to the car but you don’t because you know the reward when you get home will be 2 children so whupped that they will not move for the next 3 hours so instead of going home you take them on the ZOO TRAIN which is SO lame that it’s awesome. It’s SO lamely awesome that you could charge $20 a ride and the hipsters would eat it up. The zoo train does not take you past animals. Oh no. The zoo train takes you past…I don’t even know how to describe it…weird faded things cut out of plywood.

My kingdom to whoever (whomever?) can tell me what in the hell that red thing is up at the top right??

My kingdom to whoever (whomever?) can click on this picture and tell me what in the hell that pink thing is up at the top right??

It's a faded frog.  In an old bathtub.  My kids flip for it.  I'm going home and throwing out all of their toys.

It’s a faded frog. In an old bathtub. My kids flip for it. I’m going to go home and throw out all of their toys.

But enough about the best zoo ever. (Seriously…it is. It’s a rescue and rehabilitation zoo.)

Throughout all of this mess, I just kept juicing. And kept juicing. And I keep on juicing. Beets. Kale. Spinach. Carrots. Apples. Pineapples. Grapefruit. Beet greens. Oranges.

And wouldn’t you know it. I’m making that vasculitis my bitch again. That’s right. I said it. That vasculitis can suck it. It’s fading so fast again. I showed my rheum today and told him about the juicing. He said, “Well who knows! Just keep doing it! It certainly can’t hurt!” I have a follow up appointment with him in 2 weeks and I told him to ‘PREPARE TO BE AMAZED!!’ He said he was looking forward to it. Oh no, good doctor…the pleasure will be all mine!!

And when I kill this vasculitis? I’m buying it a donor pig at the zoo.

Take Off Your Pants And Do A Happy Dance!

You should see my kitchen.  It’s kind of awesome.  I’ve got yogurt cooking, kombucha brewing, juice a’juicin’, chicken stock brewing, and a freezer full of whey.

In other words…I’m losing my damn mind.

But.

It’s the one thing I’M able to control right now.  I don’t know what my body will do on any given day.  I can’t make the swelling in my face and stomach go down.  But I can do everything in my power to make sure that everything I’m putting in my body right now is helping me heal.

AND ON THAT NOTE….

LET’S DO THAT MOTHER RUNNING HAPPY DANCE!

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BECAUSE…

Guess whose vasculitis looks AWESOME??

THIS GIRL!

Guess who is down to 40mg of steroids a day?

THIS GIRL!

My vasculitis was SO bad on Thursday night that I was in tears.  I had planned to run up to my doctor on Friday to beg for a steroid shot because I didn’t know what to do.  My upper thighs were blood red and throbbing.  But they weren’t any worse on Friday morning so I decided to hold out.  And started juicing 3x a day.

Guess what I found out?  Dark leafy greens are vital for vascular health.  Guess what I’ve been juicing 3x a day?  Dark leafy greens – mainly kale. (And that one unfortunate cabbage juice experiment…)

Is the juice the reason for the improvement?  I don’t know and I certainly don’t care.  Maybe it will all flare back up again tomorrow.  But then again…maybe it won’t.

It’s just awesome.  And I wanted to share.

xoxo

Say Uncle! Say It!

Oh hello there.  How nice of you to join me this evening.  What’s that?  What’s that in my hand?  IS THAT FOOD??

Yes.  Yes it is.

Today on Facebook I announced that ‘Today would be the first day of my 10 day juice fast!’  By 11:45 I was dipping red peppers in hummus.   Oops.

So what happened?  Well…a friend gently pointed out that with the high doses of meds I’m on, I probably shouldn’t be doing an unsupervised cleanse.

True.  But before she even called me I had decided that I was going to eat along with the juicing.  Why?  Well, a couple of reasons.  First up…I’m weak as a kitten.  I made my first juice at 9ish.  By 9:30 I was clutching my french press and weeping while seriously considering licking the yogurt and honey off of Trapezoid’s face.

Why. Don't. You. Just. Try.

Why. Don’t. You. Just. Try. It.

Quel dramatic, no?

But seriously, I forgot how weirdly hungry the steroids make you.  And also…I may have some food attachment issues.  And alllllso…who cares.  Really.  The foods I’m eating are so great right now, what does it matter if I eat a giant kale salad on top of the juice?  Or a Reese’s Peanut Butter cup?  Uh yeah…that happened today.  I ain’t gonna lie.  That thing was de-freaking-licious.

I don’t want to lose weight.  Well, I’d like to lose the face but that isn’t going to happen until I’m off the ‘roids…June 21st but who’s counting? 😉

Am I embarrassed that I made a big declaration and then didn’t stick to it?  I was.  For about 5 minutes.  But I promised myself when I started this blog that I would be TOTALLY honest about this process.  I’m not going to Instagram it.  So yes, juice cleanse fail.  I got scared and frustrated with the horrific vasculitis and the sore knees and I made a rash decision.  (Get it?  ‘RASH’ decision…oh Danielle…you SLAY me!)  But that’s okay.  I want to succeed at being healthy and I think going a little easier works better for me.

I’m still going to juice 3 times a day.  I actually LIKE the way it tastes and I don’t like juice.  It’s Micronutrientastic!  This morning I did carrots/grapefruit/kale/apple.  Awesome.  Then I was still hungry so I tried beet/carrot/apple/kale.  Really good.

Trap gave it zero thumbs up. “I no like this juice!”

Then for dinner I got schooled by the juicer.  I tried beet/cucumber/carrot/kale…and CABBAGE!  What???  Why??  That was a black belt juicer move that I had no right doing.  The juicer Karate Kidded me.  Flicked me right on the nose.  It was SO gross!!  Thank goodness I threw an apple in there at the last minute.  Kyle bravely downed the whole glass (but took a moment to gasp as he finished the glass “The end is the hardest part!”).  Purple tried it and let me know that it tasted like coffee.  I’m not sure if that’s better or worse than his last ‘green bones’ juice review.  Which BTW would make an excellent name for a juice company. (TRADEMARK TRADEMARK TRADEMARK!)

Girl...I'ma bitch slap your taste buds.

Girl…I’ma bitch slap your taste buds.

Also…beets get messy.  It looked like an episode of Dexter in my kitchen.

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FYI your pee will be the same color. TMI? OMG!

On this note, I wanted to share some great recipes we’ve been trying.

This kale salad.  Did you know if you just massage raw kale it breaks down and makes an amazing salad?  I am loosey goosey with this recipe…I’ve never used squash in it, I just add extra beets and throw on some chia seed, ground flax and avocado.  And what the hell is a satsuma?!  I don’t know.  So I use oranges.  I also double the dressing when I make it since we go through it so fast.

Original recipe here:

http://www.veganricha.com/2013/03/roasted-acorn-beet-satsuma-salad-with.html

I like a nice massage and long walks on the beach.

I like a nice massage and long walks on the beach.

This broccoli salad rocks my world.  The key is using the slicer disk on your food processor!  “But I don’t HAVE a food processor!” you say.  Get one.  Get to the store and get your ass a food processor.

The first time I made it, I almost ate the whole thing in one sitting.  Yes, that’s 2 giant bundles of broccoli.  So the second time I made it I went overboard (gasp! shock! surprise!) and made twice as much (see ridiculously giant bowl of broccoli below).  But I forgot an ingredient in the dressing.  So it was bland and I was stuck eating copious amounts of it for the week.  BUT…if you make it right…swoon!

Original not messed up recipe: http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2009/05/broccoli-slaw/

Mmmm gassy!

Mmmm gassy!

Chicken in the crock pot.  I was traumatized by my horrific, skin crawling experience of pulling all of the skin off of a whole, raw chicken. (Skinless, headless baby.  I swear.)  So now I just throw the whole thing in there, sprinkle with salt and pepper and turn it on high for about 5 hours.  THEN I pull off the skin.  Then I strip the meat, throw the bones back in the crock pot with some carrots, onions, smashed garlic and bay leaves and turn it on low overnight.  I am overrun with chicken stock in my freezer but since we cook all of our rice, lentils, quinoa and beans in stock it’s getting used up.  And hello money saver because store bought stock adds up!

I know...strain it.

I know…strain it.

The chicken we use wherever but my absolute FAVORITE is this knock off recipe for Whole Foods Chicken Sonoma Salad.  You know the one with the grapes and pecans?  I’ve tried subbing greek yogurt for the mayo but sometimes a girl just needs a nice, fatty chicken salad.

Original recipe here:  http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipe/sonoma-chicken-salad

These slow roasted tomatoes.  They will CHANGE YOUR LIFE!  No.  Well they will TASTE REALLY GOOD!  They literally melt in your mouth.  You can blend them up and use them as a sauce or mix them in with your grains or put them on sandwiches or you can catch your husband standing over the dish with a fork and eating all of them and you can stab your husband with the fork and go to jail but you’ll always have the memories of the lovely, rich tomatoes to keep you warm at night.  Well, tomato memories and Fat Marge.  Good luck in the Big House.

'Big deal' you say.  I'll take your apology later.

‘Big deal’ you say. I’ll take your apology later.

Cook’s Illustrated blocks you from seeing the recipe so I’ll just tell you.

Heat that oven up to 325 degrees.  Thinly slice 4-6 cloves of garlic.  Pour a bunch of olive oil in the bottom of a baking dish.  Scatter half of the garlic.  Slice tomatoes about a 1/2 inch thick.  You really want a nice, thick slice.  Romas work great for this but I just use the most affordable organic I can find.  Place them in the pan.  Scatter the other half of the garlic and pour on a bunch more oil.  Sprinkle with salt.  Bake for 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours.  Kick your husband out of the house.  Remove from oven.  Eat them all.  Don’t be afraid to use lots of oil.  I reserve it to cook with or it’s a great bread dip.

Snacks…this coconut oil bark is amaaaazing!  I’ll give you the recipe I start with but I change it up.  I use honey, raw cacao powder, throw in cacao nibs, chia seeds, a ton of toasted almonds and toasted coconut flakes and right before I stick it in the freezer I sprinkle it with sea salt.  Even Kyle likes it.  Which makes me sad because that means he eats it.  (Yes.  I’ve said it already.  Food issues.)

Original recipe here:  http://www.onegoodthingbyjillee.com/2012/03/afternoon-snackchocolate-bark-made-with.html

The secret's in the salt!

The secret’s in the salt!

And stove top popcorn sprinkled with nutritional yeast.  Do you know about nutritional yeast?  Good for you!  And has this great nutty, cheesy flavor. When I make the kids’ pasta I let them sprinkle it on there and they call it cheese noodles.  Works for me.

From WikiWikiWhat!O’Pedia:

On average, 2 tablespoons provides 60 calories with 5 g of carbohydrates (of which 4 g is fiber). A serving also provides 9 g of protein and is a complete protein, providing all nine amino acids the human body cannot produce. It is also a source of selenium and potassium. While fortified and unfortified nutritional yeast both provide iron, the fortified yeast provides 20 percent of the recommended daily value, while unfortified yeast provides only 5 percent. Unfortified nutritional yeast provides from 35 to 100 percent of all of the B vitamins, except for B12. Fortified nutritional yeast adds 150 percent of vitamin B12 and 720 percent of riboflavin.

But mostly we’ve just been eating…better.  Like this was breakfast for dinner.  Normally that would have been bacon and eggs but now we throw greens in with every meal.  And those roasted tomatoes.  And avocado on toast…and man I want to get up and eat right now but it’s 12:46am and I won’t I won’t I won’t.  Maybe.

I literally want to go make this to eat right now.

Lame pic…not a food photog.  Obviously.

And let me leave you with this.  These potatoes were lame-o.  If you have a Pinterest account then you’ve seen these things 100 times.  I finally made them.  Meh.  First off…what a whupping.  Secondly, you have the get in between every slice with the oil.  Thirdly…am I the only person that can’t correctly cook a sweet potato to save her life??  AT LEAST AN HOUR!  Why can’t I remember that??  Maybe you had better luck?  Maybe you used a striped paper straw to drink Tiffany blue lemonade out of a mason jar while you whipped up a Pinterest perfect version of these potatoes?  If so…kudos to you.  Now go untie your kids and let them eat dinner.

Hope you like lots of cutting for lame eats!

Hope you like lots of cutting for lame eats!

I’m forgetting stuff…I made hummus (so good) and crackers…yes…homemade crackers.  That I can’t eat.  I’ve officially lost the plot.  And so much more but I can’t remember.

I hope this post wasn’t too food boring for you.  I tried stuff (juicing), I failed at stuff (exclusively juicing), I ate a Reese’s Peanut Butter cup (that’s fail/win).  I juiced a freaking cabbage.  I think we all know what category that falls under.

So juice.  Or don’t juice.  But whatever you do…just don’t piss off Fat Marge.

Get That Zombie A Martini

Guess what tomorrow is?? My first appointment with my naturopathic doctor!

Guess what tomorrow might NOT be? My first appointment with my naturopathic doctor. Because this is sitting beside me right now:

"Look at me, Ma...I'm lousy with the bubonic plague."

“Look at me, Ma…I’m lousy with the bubonic plague.”

I knew it was bad when I woke up with this beside me:

"For my next trick...I shall remove your left kidney using only my little toenail!"

“For my next trick…I shall remove your left kidney using only my little toenail!”

Mom confession. I actively dislike sleeping with my kids. Before I had children I thought I would love it. And we co-slept for the first 10 months. But then it just all went downhill. Don’t get me wrong…I love those first 30 minutes when they first climb in with us. They are all warm and sleepy and snug and sweet. Then they fall asleep and start doing what I like to call, “The Rotating Starfish”. This move somehow allows them to shove a big toe up each one of your nostrils while simultaneously kicking you in the groin with that phantom sleep foot they grow. It’s an impressive trick but I’m not a fan. So we’re an ‘everyone in your own bed’ kind of family. EXCEPT during times of illness.

Anyway, that is a sad, sick, feverish boy. DOH. Ain’t that just the way. So I called and put a tentative hold on my appointment. Which makes me kind of sad and frustrated. But. It’s all good because…

Last night Bruce Lee told me to ‘be like the water’. What? Bruce Lee doesn’t talk to you in your sleep? Whatever, weirdo.

Well hello there Mr. Lee...hope you like your gals rashy...

How nice of you to join me, Mr. Lee…hope you like your gals rashy…

What actually happened was that I fell asleep on the couch last night.

(Side note: I hate falling asleep on the couch. Subtract couch sleep time from total night sleep time because it doesn’t count. And then by the time I get up and brush my teeth and put on my pjs, I’m wide eyed awake.)

So Kyle was watching…something…I saw the words MMA and immediately fell asleep. But I half woke up to very enthusiastic Bruce Lee talking about water.

“You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash. Become like water my friend.”

That’s a good lesson for me this week. I’ve kind of been in a ‘when’ mindset. An ice cube, if you will. “When I get this autoimmune under control.” And that’s good. That’s better than an ‘if’. But it becomes so easy to focus on the far goal that I forget to embrace everything else that is happening during this process. I kind of think ‘just get HERE and everything will be better’.

Remember when our house burned down? Most of you know that. In 2011 we lost our house in the Texas wildfires. That’s not a boohoo-poor us statement because let’s be honest…we had a year of inconvenience and now we have a brand new house that kind of rocks my world. But the big statement from everyone after it happened was, “NEXT year will be your year. Just get through this and it will be all good.” When. When this is over then you will be somewhere else. But where?

I’m going somewhere with this, I promise.

My knees stopped working this weekend. Damn. Then they started again. YAY! Then they stopped again. Damn Damn! (That’s one for each knee.)

I guess this is why they call it a connective tissue disease…because it affects your connective tissues. Ohhhhhhh…NOW I get it. It’s very frustrating. It doesn’t fit into my ‘when’.

The downside is that when they aren’t working, I look like I fool when I try to get up off of the floor. It’s a very dramatic, embarrassing roll over and grab onto something to pull myself off of the floor.

The upside? Well the upside for YOU is that if you friend me before the zombie apocalypse you are almost 100% guaranteed to outrun me. Thereby leaving me to be consumed by zombies. Not like you would, right? Right?! 😉 Meh…it’s okay. I’d probably ditch you too.

In case you can’t tell, we’ve been watching The Walking Dead. I fought it. I didn’t want to watch it but since we’ve canceled cable Kyle has been watching the first 2 seasons on Netflix. Every. Night. It was inevitable that I would be sucked in. What have I learned? Zombies don’t move especially fast but they can definitely move faster than me right now. Which is good for YOU. You’re welcome. Also…there is ALWAYS someone out there worse off than you. My knees might hurt but at least I’m not being chased by a zombie herd.

And isn’t that the truth.

Because you know what is better then the 2 hours of knee pain I had? The other 46 hours of the weekend.

This:

I don't even have anything funny to say...it just makes me happy.

I don’t even have anything funny to say…it just makes me happy.

I watched this:

Mmmm...chunky guy juice...

Mmmm…chunky guy juice…

…and it was inspiring to watch someone else get off of the steroids. But also humbling to see what a slow, patient process it is too. It’s a great movie though, I recommend it. And I’m down from 60 mg/day to 45 mg/day as of today! Yay!

I conquered my first batch of homemade yogurt. Then I completely 100% ruined my second batch. I mean…I KILLED it. I boiled that milk to the point of oblivion. Apparently putting milk on the stove to boil and then meandering outside to sit and rock for awhile is a ‘bad idea’.

I absolutely stuffed my body with healthy, nourishing food. When I told Kyle that I had made him a delicious dinner last night, he gave me an enthusiastic, “Awesome!”. And when I told him that dinner didn’t involve lentils, he paused and said, “Oh that is SUPER AWESOME!” The point is that 24 hours of the day I’m married to a lovely man who supports me 1000%. Even if he does suck at diaper sizes.

And last but not least I read my medical records that I picked up for my naturopathic doctor. If you want fascinating reading, I suggest picking up your medical rec-zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…

Holy boring. I don’t know what I expected?

“Patient has a sparkling wit and great taste in earrings. I’d prefer if she’d wear underwear to her appointments.”

I'd like to eat your liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti...

This is how I show up in his office every week. Adorable, no?

Or…”Patient appears to be used by her children as a jungle gym…perhaps suggest she uses my beach house for a week of relaxation. After all, she is paying for it.”

"Wheeeeeee...vasculitis slide!"

“Wheeeeeee…vasculitis slide!”

Instead it was mostly stuff like, “Patient has vasculitis.” “Patient still has vasculitis.” “Patient is being a pain in the ass and continues to show up in my office with this vasculitis.”

Like Deepak said during my 43.2 seconds of successful mediation…my health is like a snapshot. It will never be the same from one moment to the next. I just need to embrace the moments of feeling good. And also embrace the moments of feeling crummy but then discard them and move on. At least I think that’s what he said…I had a child sitting inside each of my ears.

So I will TRY to be water. If my knees hurt, that’s the shape I’ll take. If I wake up covered in rashes and vasculitis…then that will be my shape for that moment. But just for that moment. Until I’m ready to pour myself into another vessel.

Just don’t judge me if it’s a martini glass. 😉

She’s Got That Certain ‘Glow’.

Scroll to the bottom for a yogurt maker update.

Am I radioactive now?  I can never remember what the CT scan does…I AM writing this while hanging upside down from the ceiling but that might be the coffee I had at 8pm.  Or I’m still reeling from drinking 3 banana flavored barium drinks.  And I use the term ‘drink’ very, very loosely.  I’ve decided that the taste testing focus group they used to come up with the banana flavor was a bunch WWII vets languishing in a nursing home.

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“I remember having this right before we hit the beaches at Normandy! 23 skidoo!”

So yeah.  CT scan today but nothing to report there.  I’ve had a few of them over the past few years and let me ask you this:  How on earth do I always forget how awful it feels when they inject the iodine??  Not painful bad.  Weird bad.  Have you had one?  They warn you… “You’ll…ummm…feel like you’re peeing your pants.  But you’re not.” It’s strange that I never remember that side effect.  A weird, pants flooded warmth.  Not like a ‘Channing Tatum’ happy warmth in your pants.  More like a ‘Tilda Swinton’ confusing kind of warmth in your pants.  And when you swing your legs off of the table you can’t help yourself.  You are compelled to feel for pee.  So that’s classy.

If you follow me on Facebook you’ll know that I’m trying out my new yogurt maker.  You’ll also know that I’m mathally challenged (I know it’s ‘mathematically’ but I like the way ‘mathally’ sounds better) so like an asshat I started the machine at 7:00pm.  For 7 hours.  That’s right.  I get to set my alarm for 2am to screw the tops onto yogurt jars.  Lame-o.  I’m making Judy get up for that one.

It’s kind of a pain because you have to boil the milk first and then let it cool.  See that thermometer?  It’s the second one I’ve owned.  I bit through the glass tube on the first one.  I thought it was the case and couldn’t get it open so I put it into my mouth and bit down.  On glass. Until it shattered. Duuuuuuuh.

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The milk looks good but that glass tube looks freaking DELICIOUS!

So now we wait.  Will it be worth it?  I dunno.  The reviewers on Amazon say it’s the most amazing yogurt you’ll ever have! You’ll never buy store bought again!  It healed my kitten’s broken leg!  As far as I’m concerned, unless it can take a shop vac and a bottle of Windex to the inside of my car it probably won’t be life changing.  But…I did the math (sketchy at best) and it works out to $1.83 for 42 ounces of organic yogurt.  So that doesn’t suck.

So now we wait.

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7…8…9…10…11…12…1…2…Son of a…

And lastly let me leave you with this.

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Waaaaait Foooor It…

This link popped up in my news feed one day.  So I clicked it.  ‘Cause I just can’t help myself!

http://www.modernparentsmessykids.com/2013/03/start-your-day-saying-hello-happy-drink.html

This freaking delicious coffee.  I had a bit of a half & half and sugar problem when it came to my coffee.  Like coffee soup.  But I stumbled across this recipe and I am hooked!  It’s even satisfies my mocha cravings!  I now substitute the half & half for canned coconut milk (this brand is BPA free so no learning disorders for me!  So no MORE learning disorders for me!)  And let me tell you…I tried the light coconut milk for a while and it was ‘good’ but when I switched over to full fat…dreeeeeamy.  And that is healthy fat!!  The raw cacao powder gives it a dark, rich flavor.  Ignore that the picture has a bag of cocoa NIBS.  They were out of powder the other day so I bought the nibs because I assumed they would melt.  Let me assure you…they do not.  At all.  I’ve been chewing my coffee for 3 days.  I even tried whizzing them up in my coffee bean grinder.  That just means I don’t have to chew as hard.  Take note!  Buy the POWDER!!  Anyhoo… It’s sugar free and chock full of healthy stuff.  Plus some people swear it gives you a ‘zing’ of energy.  A teeny squeeze of honey and you’re drinking something pretty awesome.  If I’m feeling extra super fancy I’ll give it a whizz around in the Magic Bullet to make it all frothy.  Who cares that there is a kid peeing on your foot…you’re drinking creamy, chocolatey coffee in your kitchen!

WINNING…even when you smell like toddler urine.  And that’s saying something 😉

Yogurt Maker Update:  I used to get horrible canker sores when I was a kid.  My grandma would pull that giant container of plain yogurt out of her fridge and stand over me while I gagged down bowlfuls of it.  Remember that almost throw up thing you would do when something was just too gross to comprehend?  But you still had to eat it?  Soggy tuna casserole, anyone?  That’s what this yogurt reminds me of…old school yogurt.  Which I think some people would like.  But I’ve only gotten back into yogurt since they introduced Greek style.  Which this yogurt is NOT.  I think I’ll brew (ferment?  yogment?) the next batch longer to see if it will get thicker.  For right now I’m straining it to thicken it up.  A friend mentioned that they sell an attachment to make Greek yogurt?  I wonder what that would be?  A tiny, hairy man with cheese cloth and a fishing hat?  I’ll look into it.

This yogurt tastes extra cottony!

This yogurt tastes extra cottony!

"Judy lets me eat yogurt on the couch!"

“Judy lets me eat yogurt on the couch!”

For the record…my grandma made probiotics cool way before Erin Andrews did.

Last update.  I swear.  With my fingers crossed.

Straining is the key!  It’s delicious!!!  WOOHOO!!!  I mean, it’s work, that’s for sure.  I’m one step away from milking a cow in my backyard.

Yes.  We all know what the liquid looks like, but we're too mature to say it...NO WE'RE NOT!  PEE!  IT LOOKS LIKE PEE!

Yes. We all know what the liquid looks like, but we’re too mature to say it…NO WE’RE NOT! PEE! IT LOOKS LIKE PEE!

Making Out With Scrooge McDuck Would Probably Be Weird. Maybe.

Money sucks, right?  Not having money sucks because you don’t have any.  (Don’t freak out…I know some people really don’t have ANY money.  I’m talking about the ‘more month than money’ type of broke.)

Having money?  I guess that could suck too because you might just THINK about it all of the time.  Will you always have it?  Is it being mismanaged?  Is someone going to take it from you?

Or maybe you’d just worry about which bathing costume to wear while you swim in your vault of gold coins…

Scrooge McDuck

This is totally what rich people do, right?

Can you tell we’ve been working on our budget?  We’ve talked about it forever.  I had a lot of big ideas involving poster boards and fun markers (Teal! Coral! Heliotrope!).  Every few weeks we’d say, “TONIGHT we’re doing the budget!  Right?  Right!”

Insert dinner/clean up/bath/pjs/teeth/books/bed/more clean up/few loads of laundry.

“Want to watch a Breaking Bad?”

“Okay.  We’ll do the budget TOMORROW.  Right?”

“Right!”

(That’s actually a lie…HE watches Breaking Bad.  I couldn’t make it past the episode with the bathtub scene…shudder…)

But whatever…you see the pattern.  We are an excellent couple but we have the horrible, horrible ability to talk each other out of anything.

However.  The doctors don’t want me working.  I had started waiting tables a few times a week.  It was great.  Out of the house.  Kyle watched the boys so no daycare.  Brought in just enough extra.  I loved where I worked.  And no matter how needy a customer was…I never had to change their diaper.  Except for that one time…(insert 1ooo yard stare).  But that’s on hold for awhile.  And Scrooge McDuck isn’t returning my phone calls. (I had pictured an Indecent Proposal situation but apparently it’s a no go. Maybe he has erectile ducksfunction…heh heh… My apologies. That was awful. Even for me.)

We. Had. To. Budget.

Have you done it?  It’s scary at first.  We accounted for every single dollar we had spent from December until April.  Guess what?  We spent a lot.  On food (oh so much on food).  On ‘entertainment’.  On…stuff.  Oh stuff…you’ll be the end of me.  I hated that first night.  What WAS that $50 at Target??  Shouldn’t I be able to look around and see $50 worth of Target goods?  I just wanted to bury my head under my West Elm Spring Ikat pillow.  But burying my head under that pillow is what got us into this mess.  And also makes me realize that I really need to wash the sheets.

But something else happened too.  Those numbers started to lose their power.  I went from feeling sick to feeling empowered to change things.  It’s not like we spend a ton of money, I was just able to see the areas that we could change.  Small changes.  One tiny baby step at a time.  Because that’s the problem, isn’t it?  You start thinking ‘CHANGES!’ (or at least I do) and then it’s all so big that you just…don’t.

Cut out all processed food.  Make own detergent.  Make all household cleaners .  Hang clothes outside to dry (actually, according to some numbers we crunched if we hung out 7 loads a week it would save $600/year.  But are we really going to do it??).  Make own bread?  Juice! Take dog to doggy dentist.  Wait, take kid to kiddie dentist first.  Meditate.  Meditate without children.  Yoga?  Raise chickens?  Goats?  Sea monkeys?  See naturopathic doctor.  Join slow food movement.  Join slow clothes movement. Shop local.  Vote with my wallet.  Start a garden. More houseplants for better air quality.  Filter on shower head? Make own yogurt?  Get a pen pal.  Write everyday.  Exercise everyday.  Exercise every other day.  Bend over to pick up toys and count that as exercise.  Take an art class.  Take a creative writing class.  Look for freelance writing work.  Spend quality time with girlfriends once a week.  Once every 2 weeks.  Once a month.  Call girlfriends and tell them how much you miss them.

You get my point.

So I started easy.  With my pantry.  Remember?  I cleaned it out.  I cleaned it out real good.  Then I went shopping.  Then I came home and redid the pantry.  I didn’t want to but I DID!  BTW we have a plastic bag ban here now.  Which is awesome.  For people that actually ever remember their reusable bags.  And not awesome for people who don’t.  Guess which camp I fall into??

Our goal is $150/week on groceries.  But I’m thinking $200 will be more realistic.  What do you spend?  This is $152 in groceries.

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I like a bulky grocery shop…get it…lots of bulk items…ahhhh fuhget about it…

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Cooking instructions for my special jackwagon.

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This still needs work…so much work…and yes that is Splenda.  Because I have guests that use Splenda and that’s fine with me.  No need to torture everyone!

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And cold items in the icebox…

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MmmmHmmmm…I like them potatoers…

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You would have been disappointed in me if there hadn’t been a jar of Nutella, right? I did it for you! Yeah, YOU!

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“Hey Ma…I’ma gonna throw all of them potaters on the ground, ‘mkay?” And he did. The End.

It’s been a really great week since the pantry and fridge clean out.  First of all, we’re eating much better. It’s not like we ate Crisco off of a spoon before but we’d just gotten lazy on convenience foods.  I’ll post a blog with different recipes we’ve tried and loved.  Basically we’re just eating clean.  Our sweet neighbors gave us some Swiss chard from their garden…I’ve never had it and I loved it!  I roasted cabbage!  It was great!  The boys are eating almost everything.  Except for tonight…I fed the guys hotdogs after a week of quiona, lentils, greens and veggies.  They were giddy with excitement.  Everything in moderation 😉

But the big change?  We had food left at the end of the week.  I need to go to the store for some staples but I can actually go into the fridge and cabinet and still cook a meal.  The boys are eating more fruits and vegetables…instead of giving them crackers in the afternoon, I’m setting out some veggies.  And if they are really hungry then they’ll eat them.

But let me tell you what.  I am cooking like a pioneer women.

Not shown in photo...children chewing on ankles.

Not shown in photo…children chewing on ankles.

Seriously.  I need to figure out big batch cooking.  This is a family of big eaters so if I don’t double batch cook then there aren’t any leftovers.  And I start over again the next day.  I’m getting better at just boiling eggs or cooking a pot of rice or throwing potatoes in the oven even if I don’t know what I’m going to do with them.  That helps.  But it’s about to be hot, Hot, HOTTER here so I need to figure out a way to not crank my stove during the day and I’ve never had much luck with the crock pot.

So this is my first baby step.  I’m not going to lie…I kind of want to rip into a rib eye.  And I will.  And it will taste extra delicious.  But for right now this feels great.

Also, I get a abdomen CT scan on Thursday.  I feel pretty good about it.  What I don’t feel good about?  Drinking THREE bottles of BANANA FLAVORED BARIUM.  If anyone knows who came up with this flavor I’d like to arrange for a few minutes alone with them.  And a bag of nickels.

And lastly…the newest member of our fish tank family.  The kids call him Froggie.  I call him Creepy Soul Sucker.  I hate this frog.  He just floats there all dead like and I yell, “KYLE!  THE FROG IS DEAD!”  And he yells back, “NO IT ISN’T!!” And then the freaking frog jumps and scares the crap out of me.  Ick.

photo-72

Sweet Dreams…I’m probably going to come out and chew your face off while you’re sleeping but don’t worry about it.