Monthly Archives: June 2011

American Disappointment

This morning, there were throngs of people amassed downtown. Thousands would be a conservative estimate.

As my bus wound its way through a detour, I thought, “What are these people protesting?”

I didn’t know what it was…something to do with immigration rights or the war or maybe even gay stuff. In any case, I found it impressive, and was all “Right on! Power to the people!” regardless of the issue or the side they were on.

Then I realized it was the line for American Idol auditions.

Ice Cream at the End of the Tunnel

This past weekend was grueling.

I put in around 12 hours of studying, and I haven’t even started working on my lab exam on Wednesday.

I am tired, and I don’t even know how much I remember after all of that studying. All shall be revealed tonight, I suppose.

This was the type of weekend that ended with a trip to the grocery store at 8:00 Sunday night. All I wanted to buy was a rotisserie chicken that I could dice up for salads for Monday’s lunch and dinner, as well as Tuesday’s lunch.

In keeping with the theme of the weekend, the grocery store’s hot deli was closed, and no rotisserie chickens were in sight.

At 9:00, I was cooking chicken and swearing up a storm in my head. I did not want to end the weekend with cooking chicken and putting together half-assed meals for the next two days.

At 9:30, I was sitting on the couch knitting, watching an episode of Doc Martin, and eating this:

Best Ice Cream Ever

A weekend without treats while cramming microbiology into my head would be a crime, so I took a break earlier in the day to make chocolate ice cream with agave nectar, recipe courtesy of David Leibovitz. While refined sugar is a no-go, I can handle agave nectar, so this recipe was perfect.

Before yesterday afternoon, I hadn’t enjoyed any chocolate for at least six weeks. I have no shame: I admit I nearly drank all of the ice cream mixture when I took it off the stove. I held back though and made do with several spatulas full of this most divine stuff. All of the chocolate receptors in my brain started firing, which I’m pretty sure short-circuited the neurons filled with the microbiology knowledge. If I make a bad grade, I blame the ice cream, and the ice cream’s punishment will be that I have to eat all of it!

On Saturday, I had another treat break and made these honey chai scones (only I replaced the honey with agave and didn’t use stevia):

Scones!

These were pretty good, and I think the base is suited for making a savory scone. Next time, I’m going to use olive oil, rosemary, and some Parmesan cheese and have the scones with eggs.

Anyway…this week is going to be ridiculous. A big test tonight, PT on Tuesday, Porkchop’s younger brother’s wedding on Wednesday, another test Wednesday night, an important appointment Friday afternoon, and leaving for my parents’ Friday evening.

I’m already exhausted, and it’s only Monday morning. Sigh.

Big Sigh!

Of relief!

My work to-do list is long, and my weekend plans include only studying for two microbiology tests next week, but there is a spring in my step! Because! The GRE is over! I took it last night, and I’m happy with my scores.

Convinced I had completely bombed the quantitative section, I was more-than-words-can-describe surprised to see that my quantitative score was 710. I was a tiny bit disappointed that my verbal was 620, but I am not complaining in the least.

Whew. Now I can use the mental space previously allotted for the GRE for something else.

Chronicles of Chronic Pain

I don’t want my blog to become My Health Saga, but check out my left hip!

You can't see my butt, but it's under there.

I finally went to a physical therapist (yeah, yeah, the irony) for my hip pain, and I’m so happy with what we’re doing. We’re going through years of chronic pain to get to the root of my problems.

And the root is that my hips, particularly my left, are way too mobile. I’m not blaming yoga, but getting super stretchy in my hips and hamstrings did not help me at all. Having super flexible hips is probably fine for people who also have strong hips. But my poor left hip is weak and stretched to all get out. Because that’s what I’ve been doing for the past five or six years…stretching what I thought were tight muscles. Unfortunately, they were weak, strained muscles.

When doing the initial evaluation measurement, my therapist was totally appalled at my amount of hip mobility. At the end of the visit, I showed her a series of stretches that I like to do, asking whether or not I could continue doing them. Appalled again, she exclaimed that I should not have that much flexibility in my hips! In its current state, my left side is a time bomb waiting to go completely out of whack.

Now I’m working on tightening and strengthening those suckers. No more yoga for quite some time, not even child’s pose. No deep squats or lunges. Nothing that brings my knees above my hips (and preferably, I shouldn’t even have them level for now). I’m still learning what I can’t do. For example, I totally blew out my hip this weekend while swimming (frog kick!) and gardening (squating!). So, I’m trying to figure out how to move about without hurting myself.

The tape supports my muscles and allows me to sit without pain, among other things. It’s also a reminder when I’m flexing my hips too much because it gives a little tug on my skin.

I look forward to the day of sitting, sleeping, and moving without pain!

To sit more comfortably at work, I fashioned a chair wedge out of an old exercise mat. Before cutting the mat over the weekend, I was sitting on my GRE math book (which was nearly the perfect size, but tended to cut off butt circulation).

DIY wedge cushion

Other Stuff

Over the weekend, I made one of my favorite things: roasted beets! I know some of you don’t like beets, and I think you’re crazy!

Pretty AND tasty!

Monday morning, we had quite a rude awakening. Some guy fell asleep at the wheel and crashed into our neighbors’ SUVs. Yes, plural.

Monday morning alarm clock

Just by chance, we did not park behind this SUV. Our usual alignment is SUV #1, SUV #2, our car. But someone’s mother was over on Sunday and messed up our usual parking. Thank goodness! Otherwise SUV #2 would have smashed up our car.

Speaking of smashed up, my campus is totally torn up. It is seriously impossible to get anywhere without running into this:

Campus is a-mazing.

It’s really frustrating to walk on campus at this point.

That’s it! Have a good week!

The Last Few Hours

…of summer freedom.

Summer school starts today, and I will be in Microbiology from 5-9:30 on Monday and Wednesday nights. I’m trying to work up enthusiasm for this, but I can’t gather any.

Tuesday of next week, I’m slated to take the GRE. Again, no enthusiasm to be had.

To make up for the buckling down that begins today, I tried to fill the weekend with summer fun. Luckily, the weather was all about cooperating and gave us lovely cool days.

Saturday was the farmers’ market with yoga and good food stuff. I made these rosemary almond crackers and nearly cried when I had them with quark. Finally, grain-free, sugar-free success! And super tasty!

Almonds, rosemary, and olive oil. Pure tastiness.

Tears, I tell you.

Cracker with quark. So good!

Even though strawberry season is over at Eckert’s, I managed to snag a quart of berries at the market. Once I was home, I blended them up with plain yogurt and popped them into popsicle molds that Porkchop picked up for me. Do you know how hard it is to find frozen treats with no sweeteners whatsoever? Sure, you can find sugar-free stuff, but I would rather go without than consume aspartame or sucralose.

Instead, I’ll stick with the homemade stuff.

A frozen bar I can trust.

With Sunday came tennis, lunch at the Mud House, and getting the hail damage on our car estimated and settled.

I’ve also been knitting away on a baby present! It’s going to be pretty darned cute, and I can’t wait to finish and post a photo.

Have a great week!

Sweet Temptations

Two weeks ago, I gave up sugar and caffeine. I’m also putting an abeyance (hello, GRE vocab word!) on grains and starchy foods.

Unfortunately, this comes at a time when Porkchop’s younger brother is the manager at Jilly’s Cupcake Bar.

Seriously? Thanks, Universe.

This box nearly did me in over Memorial Day weekend:

Box full of sugar and pain.

But Porkchop kept me strong, and I didn’t set myself back with cupcakes.

You might think I’m crazy for giving up sugar and other tasty treats, but I was feeling crazy while on the sugar. I mentioned some of this stuff previously while writing about going gluten-free, but I’m not sure if it’s the gluten that was bothering me. When I eat refined grains (gluten-free grains are the worst), anything with refined sugar or other sweeteners in it, dates, potato chips, corn in any form, bananas (which are super sweet), and a host of other things, I have the following problems:

  • cheeks flare up right away and remain hot for some time
  • fatigue and complete exhaustion in extreme cases
  • foggy brain that lasts for a couple of days
  • anxiety and depression
  • indecisiveness (grocery shopping while I feel bad takes forever, and I feel like an incompetent driver)
  • extreme hunger
  • headaches
  • dizziness in extreme cases
  • difficulty sleeping

After consulting with my primary care physician and an endocrinologist, the consensus is that I have reactive hypoglycemia. But this is where I part ways with the endocrinologist.

The endo suggested Celiac’s, which I doubted (and the test came back negative). When I pointed out that I have had my worst episodes after eating gluten-free grains (spelt, I’m looking at you), he declared that I’m depressed. I told him that when I eat the items listed above and start feeling bad, then yes, I often become depressed. However, I am not depressed otherwise. The endo is welcome to his opinion, but if I tell someone that sugar makes me feel bad, I can’t figure out why more credence is given to the theory that I’m depressed, rather than the theory that sugar fucks me up. At least I received a diagnosis of reactive hypoglycemia, so I can now see a nutritionist, which is what I really wanted.

Overall, I’m feeling much better, but I have my bad days, especially when I test the food waters. I had very small servings – less than a 1/4 cup – of brown rice Monday night and Tuesday at lunch, and I became utterly exhausted afterwards. Monday night, I went to bed at 8:30. By the end of Tuesday, I was so tired I was reduced to tears.

So, I’m keeping to a stripped down, low blood sugar food regimen at the moment. Here’s a typical day:

  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of plain yogurt upon waking
  • 2 eggs around 7:45-8:00 am
  • Snack around 9:00-9:15. I often go for celery with peanut butter here.
  • Snack around 10:30. This is usually a 1/2 cup cottage cheese, maybe sweetened with a bit applesauce (unsweetened).
  • Lunch around noon. This is usually a salad of some variety, often with chicken.
  • Snack around 2:00. This might be half an orange with cheese or some almonds with sunflower and pumpkin seeds.
  • Snack around 4:00. This is often an apple with peanut or almond butter.
  • Dinner by 6:30. Usually meat and a vegetable, or salad again.
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of plain yogurt around 10:30-11:00.

I didn’t formulate this plan on my own, I found it in the Low Sugar Handbook. The book is a bit wacky in some ways, but this eating schedule works, as do the food guidelines given in the book.

I’ve also learned that sometimes I need a big injection of sugar quickly. Over the weekend, I went to an intense exercise class early Saturday morning. The rest of the day, I kept throwing food down my throat, but I couldn’t get rid of my feeling of hunger, no matter how much broccoli, peanut butter, and cheese I ate. And this isn’t gurgly-stomach hunger, it’s a full-body, about-t0-be-consumed-by-a-black-hole hunger. It’s hunger triggered entirely by blood chemistry, not the sight or sound of food, and believe me, there is a huge difference. By 4:00, I was shaking and felt like the world was going to end. I actually had to look online to figure out what to do. Two tablespoons of raisins and 15 minutes later, I was feeling better. Now I have a stock of 4 oz apple juice containers that I keep nearby in case of emergencies, and I have a half cup of fruit juice after exercising to prevent the shakes and hunger.

Other Food Stuff

Over the weekend, I made one of those power green vegetable smoothies…and I was so excited about it! Pretty:

Greeneyed monster.

I thought I would love it…but I didn’t. And I really wanted to. But I had to force the last half of it down.

What I do love is quark! No, not the software, this cream-cheesybut-better stuff from Marcoot Jersey Creamery.

Quark. My new favorite thing.

This stuff is amaaaaazing. It is especially good on this quinoa rice bread. I made a loaf of this Sunday afternoon and was enjoying quark on it immensely. But after the recent brown rice debacle, the brown rice flour in the bread is suspect. I will not be eating any more of it, sadly. Instead, I plan to make some rosemary almond meal crackers over the weekend and use the quark on that.

What Else?

The garden is growing, despite the chickens’ best efforts to sabotage it. I am hoping this year will be a bumper year for tomatoes. I’ve yet to have the “OMG I have too many tomatoes!” experience, and I want it desperately.

If you look through all the fencing, netting, and caging, you can see tomato plants. The beds are like maximum security prisons. No one in, no one out.

There's a garden behind all that fencing and netting!

And I have butternut squash in the backyard again! Grow, squash!

Welcome back, butternut!

And welcome to their friends, cucumbers:

First-time cucumber-grower.

Chicken Talk

Agnes is totally blind in one eye, and most likely very low vision in the other, thanks to the other bastard chickens. Seriously, Porkchop and I are considering offing Scout, and maybe Scooter. Scout is the most vicious hen to walk the earth, and Scooter is right there behind her. As they clamber about, they peck Agnes in the eyes.

Is it horrible that we might snuff out Scout and Scooter?

In the meantime, we’ve taken to offering Agnes shelter in the house at night. During the day, she can usually get away from the meanies, but in the coop, she’s a sitting duck (er, chicken). And the other chickens peck-peck-peck away at her head.

This is what things have come to:

Keetah and Agnes: reluctant buddies.

When we put Agnes out in the morning, she stumbles around the yard, bumping into things and walking in circles. It is so sad.

So, Scout and Scooter…who wants dinner?