Saturday, February 28, 2015

Greyhounds: Why You Should Make A Fast Friend

I sat down yesterday and finally finished up my greyhound post!  If you are not interested in dogs or pet adoption, you will probably want to skip today's post.  Otherwise, carry on.

As many of you know, we are childfree but we do own a large, goofy greyhound named Molly.  I've been wanting to write a post about greyhounds for awhile because owning one has changed me in a way that I can't describe.  They are special, incredible dogs that have a zen/spiritual quality about them, and I always get tons of questions from people when I am out walking Molly, so I wanted to do this point not only to answer some of the questions I get, but to encourage more people to consider adopting one of these beautiful dogs.



Why Should I Adopt a Greyhound?

If you're one of those TL;DR kids, here you go.  Greyhounds are sweet, gentle, calm, silly and love people.  They are great with kids and some are great with other small pets you may have in the home.  To the shock of many, they really don't need much exercise and are perfectly happy living in a smaller space like an apartment.  They are usually very quiet unless otherwise prompted.  Due to their short coats they need minimal grooming and rarely need to be bathed.  (I think I've bathed Molly once in two years). They're pretty much the perfect dog in my opinion.

Greyhound History

I just wanted to point out some very cool historical facts about greyhounds that I certainly didn't know before we began our adoption process.  Their place in history makes then even more fascinating, and proves that greyhounds have enchanted people since the beginning of time!
  • The breed dates back at least to 4,000 years ago, and were revered by the kingdoms in Greece, Egypt and Persia.  Mummified greyhounds have been found in Egyptian tombs as companions for the Pharaohs in the afterlife.
  • They are mentioned by name in ancient texts, including the Bible! (KJV, Proverbs 30: 29-31).  If you are a fan of Homer's The Odyssey, the only soul who recognizes Odysseus when he returns is his faithful greyhound Argos, who weakly wags his tail in recognition and then dies.  Shakespeare also mentions greyhounds in several of his works, including Henry V.
  • Greek Gods are often portrayed with greyhounds, including Hecate and Pollux.
  • After a brief period where they lost popularity and almost became extinct, greyhounds became the rage again with royalty around the Middle Ages.  It was against the law for anyone other than royalty to own a greyhound unless given permission, and killing a greyhound was punishable by death.  
  • Greyhound racing began in 1912 with the invention of the mechanical lure by Patrick Smith.  Greyhounds begin training when they are just weeks old, and then are sent off to race by the age of 18 months.  They get 6 chances to place in the top, if they do not then they are retired, given to adoption agencies, sold for medical research or euthanized.  Otherwise, they live in individual cages on the track, and do not leave those cages unless they are exercising or racing.  Yeah, it's pretty depressing.
Questions/Comments I Get The Most

How long did she race?  The average age of retirement for greyhounds is 3-4 years old.  Molly retired at 3 years old.

I bet you have to run her a lot/she must have a ton of energy!  Despite their racing speed, greyhounds are called "45 MPH couch potatoes" for a reason.  They easily sleep 15+ hours a day, and really do not need much exercise beyond a 20 minute walk a day.  If you are looking for a running partner, greyhounds are probably not for you.  (A TV marathon on the couch partner, that's another story!)  As with most sprinters, they have short bursts of energy and then are over it.  I do take Molly on long (for her) walks, and I tried one very fated time to run with her.  Never again!  Anyway if you adopt a greyhound, be prepared to lose your couch and most of your bed!  Molly was on our couch within 3 minutes of first walking into our house and she's barely left it since.  ;)

You must have a nice big yard since they have to run so much!  See above.  Additionally, my diva hound seems to be under the impression she will turn to dust if she spends more than 5 minutes out in our yard.

Are they aggressive?  Not in the least!  Many people have this misconception due to the muzzles greyhounds must wear when racing.  The main reason they wear them is because hounds can get competitive/excited and nip at one another.  They have very thin skin that tears easily, so the muzzles are for their protection.

I would love to adopt a greyhound but I have a cat.  While some greyhounds do have a high prey drive (Molly unfortunately does), many hounds do just fine with cats and other small animals.  It would be something you would need to stress to your adoption coordinator so that you can get a hound who is small animal tolerant.

How long do they live?  Greyhounds live anywhere from 12-15 years old although they are unfortunately prone to a bone cancer called osteosarcoma  (Boxers are #1 to get this, greyhounds are #2).

What Makes Them So Unique

Having a greyhound is not like having a normal dog.  I've owned dogs since I was 5 and consider myself pretty experienced in the dog department, but owning a greyhound has been a whole new world.  This is mostly because their upbringing is not like a normal dog since they live in cages on the tracks and do not see the inside of a home until they retire.  They are property, not pets, and they are treated as such.  Until they retire they are not exposed to everyday things that you and I don't give two thoughts about:  stairs, hardwood floors, sliding glass doors, washers/dryers, and flushing toilets to name a few.  Being off of the track is like being dropped onto an alien planet for them, so depending on your hound and the amount of time they spent in foster, you may have to be very patient and understanding as they adapt to your home and lifestyle.  It would be no different if you were suddenly packed up and dropped into a country you didn't know existed where you don't speak the language.  The change can be very scary for them!

Additional Tidbits

I reached out to my greyhound group on Facebook to ask them what they would say about owning greyhounds and many of them echoed my sentiments.  Here are some of the cute statements I got!
  • Some of the words used to describe their hounds:  calm, friendly, elegant, lazy, grateful, polite
  • One of the members brought up the delicate truth...greyhounds have horrid gas.  As in, you will need the oxygen masks like the ones they have on planes drop from your ceiling to deal with the smell.  You learn to smile and shake your head about it.
  • Greyhounds love "goosing" you and others with their needle nose in the most embarrassing areas at the most embarrassing times.  Molly is all about butts and nuts when meeting new people.
  • This comment, which I loved:  "Greyhounds are so a sweet and funny and lovable. They help shy people make friends! Angry people relax, sad people feel loved; they give us so much more than we give them."
  • They show affection by leaning against you, which is how I got so smitten in the first place so long ago.
  • Adorable quote from my husband, "They just get sweeter the longer you have them.  They really need their humans, and it's nice to be needed."


Greyhounds are elegant...and they are also clowns
  • Greyhounds sleep in crazy positions that would put most humans in traction, and are famous for their ability to "roach", aka sleep in their backs.

"Airing it out", as my grandmother would say
  • Greyhounds often get in playing fits that we hound owners refer to as "zoomies" that include wild spinning, running and stellar quick moves.  This greyhound isn't mine, but it's one of my favorite zoomie videos that I could watch 100 times a day.



 As well as this adorable greyhound in Batman pajamas doing snow zoomies...

  • Greyhounds typically don't bark (which makes them awesome), but they are vocal in other ways.  Molly is famous for her pitiful tea kettle nose whistle when she's being denied something she really wants.  Most greyhounds make a noise called rooing which is a yodel/howl hybrid.  The sounds vary and I've heard some pretty ear splitting roo styles, but these two greys are pretty cute.  I have to admit, I'm pretty glad Molly doesn't roo just for the sake of not having to buy Excedrin by the case.  ;)

The Galgos

There is a little known breed of greyhound from Spain called Galgos that I wanted to mention.  They look very similar to the greyhound as we know it other than some slight facial differences, and are used to hunt in the Spanish countryside.


The life of a racing greyhound isn't great, and for the Galgos it's ten times worse.  They are considered worthless and are often just fed stale bread and water.  When they have been deemed no longer fit for hunting, they are hanged, thrown alive into abandoned wells or burned to death.  Thankfully there has been a growing movement to save and rescue abandoned Galgos, and you can actually adopt these dogs, even if you live in the US (though it's a lengthy process).

How Do I Adopt A Greyhound?

The process for adoption can be a bit intense depending on the agency.  Greyhounds are so unique and have certain needs that need to be met, so as a baseline most agencies will do a home inspection and interview you to make sure that you are a good candidate for adoption.  We had to submit a very detailed application that was seriously more detailed than a dating site's, do a phone interview, have required reading, then a home inspection before we were even shown any dogs.  Our particular agency picked out suitable greyhounds for us based on our lifestyle and application profile.  Molly was the first greyhound of the three chosen for us, and I fell in love with her instantly because when I knelt down to say hi to her, she walked into my arms and licked me in the face.  I mean whose heart wouldn't melt at that?  (This is before I knew she was a hussy and a master manipulator!)

3 minutes after first walking in our house. Really shy right?
If you think a greyhound may be right for you and want to find an adoption agency, these websites provide a pretty comprehensive database of agencies across the US and beyond, just in case you're a reader in another country!

If you're interesting in learning more about Spanish Galgos and potentially adopting one, this is a great site to start with:
Website Credit

Thanks to the following websites for some of the historical factoids I used!  Also a special thanks to my Greyhound group on Facebook.  There are so many badass people on there who are always awesome at offering advice, support and welcome my constant bombardment of Molly pictures.




Friday, February 27, 2015

Spring is Springing

Yesterday went pretty well, it was definitely a busy day though!  I had two separate interviews, but at least they were relatively close to one another, and it was such that I was able to run home between them really quick in order to grab a bite to eat and brush my teeth again.  (Nobody wants to bring the stank).  I think both went fairly well, although it's hard to tell with these things sometimes.  At the very least, I feel very positive and confident that I was able to get interviews, sometimes that's the biggest battle.  If nothing else, each one is a learning experience and helps you build confidence.  I have a tough time with that sometimes because I can be very shy with strangers!  I wish there was a special job search site for introverted people who are smart, hard workers but terrible interviewers due to shyness!  I also tend to get this horrible hive type situation that happens with my skin when I'm nervous, and I turn blood red and blotchy from my chest up to my jaw line.  It's so horrible and I can feel it happening when I'm sitting there talking.  It's like, should I make a joke about not having leprosy, say nothing or what?  I've researched it and there is sadly nothing to be done about it medically, so short of interviewing while sitting in a pool of ice, I guess I'll just have to live with it

One thing that does drive me crazy about Portland sometimes is how casual everyone can be.  And don't get my wrong, my dream daily "uniform" would consist of jeans and a Motley Crue shirt, but you gotta class shiz up when it's an interview situation.  Yesterday I was the only one in a skirt in these interviews, everyone else was wearing jeans and raggedy looking clothes!  There is no excuse for it in my book, I got my very nice, sensible skirt for $16, and the blouses for that or less.  You don't have to break the bank to put together a few nice pieces.  One lady had on sneakers, and another girl had a very thin top with her black bra exposed.  It's like ladies, ladies, we are not trying out as backup dancers for Miley Cyrus, we are interviewing for professional office positions!!  Anyway, maybe it's just me being an old fogey, I dunno.

One part of my interview stuff for the first place was to complete this personality assessment.  Usually I scrunch my face about that stuff and mutter about how stupid it is.  They made us do them at my old job all the time, and I never felt the tests really got me.  But I took the assessment the interviewer sent me today and I have to say, I was pretty shock and impressed at how well it nailed nuanced details of my personality with the very random questions I answered.  There were maybe one of two points where I was like eh, I dunno, but for a free internet test it was pretty dead on.  If you are interested, here is the link.  I put in a fake phone number because no way am I submitting myself to spam texts/calls!

Today the weather was nice again, so I took Miss Molly for a walk.  We only went for a mile and a half because she seemed to be favoring her leg, but it was a nice walk just the same.  All of the trees and flowers here are absolutely exploding and are just gorgeous.



I am so tempted to throw caution to the wind and plant the rest of my flower seeds outside.  I really don't think we'll get a deep freeze before May, and it's so hard to hold back when the sun is shining and it's in the 50's every day!  I am trying to restrain myself because the weather was similar several years ago and I planted a bunch of stuff, then we got snow in March that killed everything!




Wednesday, February 25, 2015

All You Skirts Know What's Up With 213

Last night was really awesome!  It was so great to reconnect with my friend and catch up on what's going on.  We agreed that it's crazy that we don't get together more often, so we're going to try to make a better effort to do outings more often.  It definitely put me in a better place mentally, just getting out and having fun and being social.  I was telling my ladies group that sometimes getting dressed up and putting on some red lipstick when you're feeling blue makes all of the difference in the world.  It occurs to me that not only am I isolated, but I tend to just sit in my pajamas or beat up clothes all the time.  I think once in awhile making the effort to put on makeup, have my hair look decent and dress a little nicer would probably help my mood and self esteem.  I put on a cute dress yesterday, made an effort with my hair and of course put on my red lipstick, and I felt pretty and confident.  Probably should have done that sooner!

I stuck to my plan yesterday of what I wanted to get at dinner, and had enough calories to get an unplanned extra glass of wine!  I also got over 12k steps in and drank my allotted water.  I still feel snacky at times, but I think a lot of that is just more about impulse/habit than hunger and the less I do it, the easier it will be to get 100% back to normal.

Another boost of confidence this week came from getting two interviews, which will be later in the week.  If you've ever been unemployed for awhile, you know the anxiety that job searching brings!  It's ten times worse than dating, because logistically you can live without a partner, but you can't survive without paying bills!  It's tough to send off tons of resumes and not hear anything back so regardless of how these interviews turn out, at least I can feel like me and my experience warrants interest.  Definitely helps my confidence.

This cold and cough crap is still hanging on. though it's definitely turning a corner.  It's mostly at night that it bothers me, I start losing my voice around 7 pm and I still am waking up 1-2 times a night from coughing jags.  The only way to resolve them is to sit up and drink water.  Super annoying to have to wake up for that, but at least I am getting sleep!  Then when I get up in the morning there is a lot of coughing up of stuff, which is always so glamorous and lovely.  I think I am going to try a short run this weekend to see where I am at physically.  I think by then my lungs will be in better shape.

In a very important PSA, did anyone see the mashup on Jimmy Kimmel with Warren G and Kenny G doing "Regulate" together?  It's honestly pretty awesome.  I feel like it's a topsy turvy world this week because not only did I have to admit that I didn't hate Lady Gaga's performance at the Oscars, now I'm about to admit that I was grooving out to Kenny G.  Whether I can recover from the shame is debatable.



In an attempt to recover some of my rock street cred, I wanted to share this article a friend showed me this morning about Trent Reznor.  Apparently he is very passionate about greyhound rescue and also has greyhounds of his own.  I have grown to love and adore the greyhound breed, despite the fact that my own greyhound does things like sneeze in my face when I'm sick and tries to steal food off the counter, even if it's just lettuce.  They are truly special, wonderful dogs and I wish more people would discover them.  They desperately need and deserve loving homes after living a less than ideal life in cages on the race track.  One of these days, if you guys don't mind, I'd like to do a post about greyhounds just to get some more information about them out there.  They make wonderful pets, are very quiet and actually don't need much room or exercise at all!

You guys probably won't hear much from me tomorrow since I have both of my interviews, plus I'm having a coffee date with my aunt.  Look for a new post on Friday!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

These Are The Breaks

Today has been one of those days.  It started by me coming downstairs this morning to make coffee/let the dog out and I stumbled into a wall because I have the balance and coordination of a drunk toddler when I first wake up.  When I hit the wall, (literally) I managed to knock down not one, but two large pictures we have hanging up.  I was able to catch one of them with my hip, but the other one hit the floor.  Ironically the glass didn't break, but the wooden frame splintered into a million bits.  Awesome.

Then later this morning when I was driving myself and Molly to our walking spot, a guy almost rear ended me because he was a Super Important Asshole ™ and needed to be wherever he was going in order to do his Super Important Asshole stuff.  I actually got out earlier than normal this morning and it was prime commute/school bus time, and the guy didn't seem to realize that yes, school buses have to actually stop to pick up children and we all have to stop behind them, and that maybe you shouldn't run up on a line of cars going 60 mph.  He was going so fast he literally had to swerve into the shoulder to keep from hitting me.  I physically turned around in my seat to glare at him, dramatically mouth some curse words and give him angry jazz hands.  I'm sure he's broken up about it.  My windows are so dirty he probably didn't even see me do it.  Then during our walk I pulled my phone out to check the time, and when I went to put it back in my pocket it slipped out of my hands and fell to the sidewalk and shattered in the corner.  It's usable at least, but yeah....

Is it acceptable to drink tequila starting at 10 am?

I am slowly getting back into the swing of things.  Yesterday was difficult because I really wanted to snack all day long.  I didn't for the most part, but caved a little last night with some cheese and crackers.  Luckily we don't have a ton in the house that one could easily snack on.  I did track my food yesterday and have been doing well with it today so far too.

I didn't get a ton of activity in yesterday though I did walk to the dentist instead of driving.  That was about the extent of my "let's get up and move".  I had to go for my follow up appointment for my cleanings, and it actually went really well!  Today was much better since Molly and I got out for our walk.  It was cold, or at least cold for Portland lately at 29 degrees, but it was sunny and beautiful.  We did 3 miles and she probably enjoyed about 0.5 miles of it!  Silly dog.  I was really having to drag her towards the end, and she was giving me her most pitiful looks.



Because you know, taking a long walk on a sunny day is totally abusive, someone should really call the ASPCA. She has been so wild lately that she needed to get tuckered out!  I forgot to mention yesterday that Miss Priss revenge peed on her bed Sunday because she was mad about being shut away from the party.  If there's one thing Molly doesn't like missing out on, it's being around people so that she can be fawned over and beg for food like a starving guttersnipe.  The bed isn't salvageable, she apparently had a lot of anger pee saved up despite the fact I was giving her plenty of potty breaks, so we're going to have to get her a new one.  One of these days I'm going to open the front door and just let her wander away like a hobo.

I decided to reach out to a friend who I haven't gotten together with socially in a very long time, so we're going out for drinks and happy hour tonight.  I am just trying to make the effort to get out of the house and to try to nurture friendships that I've probably neglected.  She is one of those friends where you're both so busy that sometimes it's just hard to get together, but we are able to do this tonight and I'm glad!  She and I always seem to pick up where we left off.  My husband is probably glad to get me out of the house so he can stop hearing me cough!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Oscars

Last night was obviously the Oscars, which is something we look forward to every year.  Eric and I are both really into films and always make our best effort to see everything we can.  Sadly we missed only one best picture nominee, Selma, only because of me getting sick and being unable to leave the house!  Once I got well enough to leave the house, I was terrified I would have a coughing jag in the theater, and I definitely didn't want to be "that guy" that disrupts the movie for everyone by hacking like I have heartworms.  Anyway we saw all of the other best pic nominees so I felt pretty prepared for the awards.

Red Carpet Ready!
For the last few years we've thrown a big party for the Oscars and had a ton of people over.  This year not many people were able to make it, which was kind of a bummer.  Plus with me being sick, I was woefully unprepared and didn't do half of the stuff I normally do, like themed cocktails and themed snacks.  Pretty much it's like, here's some chips/salsa and a cheese tray, enjoy.  Eric was a huge help in helping me clean the house and vacuum/steam clean our living room carpet!  There pretty much wouldn't have been a party without his help.  Yesterday I felt like I relapsed a little bit and felt exhausted and run down to the point where I forced myself to take a nap.  It helped a little but I simply cannot shake this cough.  Anyway, we rallied as always for the party!

Best Couple, clearly!

The awards themselves were fine though I thought they were a little boring at times.  I was very excited about Eddie Redmayne and JK Simmons because both of those films/performances were my 2 favorite films of the season.  I was not excited about Best Picture really because I knew it was going to be between either Boyhood or Birdman, and I really didn't like either one of them.  I was pretty lukewarm about Birdman winning, I honestly just thought it was weird and I could never care about any of the characters enough to feel invested in it.  I didn't understand the big hoopla about it, but you know, good for them I guess.  

On the health front, I did spend the weekend working out all of my emotional stuff via gardening and being outside most of the weekend.  I decided to give myself the weekend to get all of my drinking/eating/having the sads/not tracking my food ya yas out and then start fresh today without guilt or judgement.  That's really all you can do in these times, is to try to pull yourself out of your funk as soon as you can and just move forward.  There are still some personal/non-health related things that are bothering me, but most of them are related to other people and I have to realize I have no control over them.  I just have control of me and how I react, so I've just got to push past it and do what's best for me.

I am a little sad that I lost my tracking streak on MFP, I was at 130 days or something like that.  It stings a little bit to see a "Day 1" up on the top bar, but that's a choice I made and all I can do is work on rebooting the healthy habits that I know work for me.

I decided that I am not going to weigh this week.  I know I've gained a little bit back judging by my jeans, but mentally I just don't need to know the damage right now.  Usually I like to have it in my face as a wake up call of sorts, but I feel like more than anything this week I just need to be gentle to myself and focus on being healthy and getting back into my routine.  Feeling bad about gaining isn't going to help since I already still feel a bit bad about going haywire, and I feel incredibly frustrated that I still don't feel well and can't shake this cough.  I don't know how much activity I can do, but am going to try to stick with walking and maybe doing some Richard videos since they are pretty gentle.  Anyway, if I do what I know works, whatever weight will come off, so that's that pretty much!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Stinging Nettles

We've been so blessed this week when it comes to weather.  On Friday I met Eric for lunch and then drove to this huge garden center we have up here called Al's Garden Center (in my mind it's eternally referred to as "Big Gay Al's" due to my love of South Park).  I walked around for well over an hour just because I could.  Gardening is one of my passions, and walking around in the sunshine and browsing all of the plants and planning out my 2015 garden really did me some good.  I needed something to replace my poor dead lilac tree, and I finally settled on a Texas Scarlett honeysuckle vine.  Of course we're supposed to get freezing temps over the next couple of nights, so hopefully it survives!

Today we went to the Farmer's Market because we thought the kettle corn people would be there, and we needed popcorn for our Oscar party tomorrow.  I totally misunderstood their site, because they happened to not be there.  It was such a gorgeous day that we didn't really mind, especially since it was an opportunity to get some fresh vegetables.

See I'm not lying, beautiful!

We we walked around and chatted until we finally chose a few things for dinner tonight, including grass fed NY strip steaks and locally grown fingerling potatoes.  There has been such an anti-potato sentiment in the media over the last few years, but they really are so good for you.  They have crazy amounts of potassium and vitamin C, and are actually very healthy.  Just don't slather them in butter and sour cream!


The insides of them were beautiful when I was cutting them up.  The red ones had pink flesh, the purple had white and lavender swirled flesh.


And then there was one potato that looked like....well, what do you think it looked like?


We also got a small bunch of stinging nettles, which if you have never had, you really, really should.  They are kind of scary because they will eff you up if you touch them raw.  But once you know how to handle/cook them, nettles are delicious and incredibly nutritious.  If you can find them at a local farmer's market, or if you know where to go pick them in the wild, you really should make the effort.  They are loaded with potassium, protein, vitamin A and fiber, and also have such a delicate flavor.  You do have to handle them with care until you cook them or they will sting the shit out of you, so I had to snip the leaves off using tongs and scissors!


Once I boiled the stingers off I didn't really have enough to do a side of sauteed nettles, so I decided to fold the cooked nettles with some shredded cheese into biscuit dough.


The nettle biscuits were so delicious!  The cooked nettles have such a delicate flavor that it worked well with the biscuits.  Buttered?  Even more glorious.

These are the types of dinners that make me so grateful to live in Oregon, especially since we were able to grill our lovely steaks outside!  I love being able to work with fresh, local ingredients.  I only wish I had been smart enough to get a bigger bag of nettles!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Truthiness

So I always like to be about full disclosure here on the blog, because that's what it's for.  The last two to three weeks have been very difficult for me, mostly emotionally.  It has really affected my health and fitness goals though.  I have continued to write posts because I don't ever want to go radio silence here the way I've tended to in the past.  In all of my jokiness, I'm serious about writing on the blog and have come to appreciate having it and having my readership, and I don't want to take that for granted.  So I'd rather write about off topics than not write at all, but I don't want to write about off topics all the time since the focus is supposed to be health/fitness.

There is nothing seriously wrong, just a low period where my natural inclination has been to shut myself off from everything and everyone.  Lots of job searching/what does the future look like fear, lots of sadness about friends, I thought my life would look different at age 35, that kind of thing.  Once I go into this mode it's very hard to get out of.  Being sick and having to be isolated has not helped, and I honestly still don't feel well which has not helped my activity or energy levels.  As I have gotten older I've become more shy and introverted, so finding people to talk about these things has become difficult.  I know the internet is insanely public, but it's somehow easier because I don't see your faces.  ;)

I have been trying to pull myself up today because I feel like I have a responsibility to myself and others to do so.  My goal is to be healthy and I am not being healthy right now.  I've already lost my 20's and half of my 30's, I don't want the last half of my 30s to be spent losing the same weight and trying to get my shit together.  I want to be healthy so that I can help other people be healthy.  I want to be healthy so that my blog can be something people can depend on and look to as a role model.  I can't really do that if like 5 years from now I'm like "yep I'm still fat, but listen to me because I'm wise and awesome!"  That's not really going to cut it.  So I've been trying to focus on what I have rather than what I don't have right now, just so I can turn my brain and my heart around and to find the will to keep pushing forward.  Here's what I have in my life:

My husband.  What can I say about Eric, other than he's the kindest, most loving and supportive person that you could have as a spouse?  I am thankful that I have someone I can be completely and utterly myself around, and I can say anything to him.  It could be the most dark/wretched/non PC thought in the world, and I can still say it and not be judged.  Not everyone gets a person like that in their lives, especially in a partner, so I know I am incredibly lucky.  Plus he makes me laugh my phantom balls off constantly and has the same dark sense of humor as me.  And he's pretty cute so, I hit the husband Powerball.  :)

My aunt and uncle.  My aunt is basically the sister I never had, and I am so lucky to have family up here!  Her husband is totally awesome and they have both done so much for Eric and I, and we truly are so blessed to have them in our lives.  You will not meet two better people, and they are wonderful friends and companions to us.  Nothing lifts my spirits like a gossipy coffee date like my aunt.

My crazy ass dog.  There are days when the only living thing that I verbally speak to besides my husband is Molly, which is just my reality right now.  Despite her wild ways, she's a fun companion and makes the days less lonely.  If I were alone, I would most definitely not get up off the couch, but she MAKES me get up.  When I'm out walking her I feel good that I'm doing something nice for someone else, and it takes the focus off of "oh I need to walk to be healthy/burn calories."  I take pleasure in her happiness and enthusiasm at the prospect of going on a walk, and probably should be more like her about exercise!

Oregon.  I know it sounds silly, but I am grateful to live in a cool, progressive state where there is so much to do and see.  I am lucky to be surrounded by natural beauty, so much so that you feel guilty when you DON'T go out and enjoy it, and that I live somewhere where being active and eating healthy is the norm.  That would be insanely difficult if I still lived back home!

My ladies accountability group on FB.  I tend to be a lone wolf, so when I join groups it's a big deal for me.  It's an even bigger deal when I join a ladies anything due to trust issues stemming from childhood bullying.  It's just tough for me.  I joined this group back a couple of months ago, and I'm SO glad I did.  There have been days lately where pretty much the only interaction I get is with them.  It's helped me to not feel so isolated, and to know that I can verbalize "I feel shitty today", or whatever the case is and have people to talk it out with.  We talk about all kinds of things, and it's always great when you can find smart, funny, well rounded women to talk to.  I love men, they are awesome and make awesome friends, but having lady friends is different and nice because there are just certain things they "get".  I'm glad I have you ladies, for real.  Thank you for always being so encouraging, cool and available.  :)   Hopefully one day we can meet in person!

Anyway, I do have things to be thankful and happy for, and I'm going to do my absolute best to start pulling out of this.  It would honestly help if I could stop feeling like I'm going to cough myself to death, but I'm going to try anyway.  ;)  Hope you all have a great weekend.


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Hair Raising

I will start with the disclaimer for my Midwest and East Coast people....I am not gloating.  Truly.  But we are having unseasonably warm and dry weather right now, and we can't quite tell if it's one of those Mother Nature teasers or if we're just simply not going to have the typical rainy season we normally do.  I suppose time will tell.  We have really mild, pleasant winters, but springs absolutely suck here normally due to the rain.  It's hands down my least favorite season here.  Usually the rainy season sets in right about now, but instead we've gotten sun and no rain, plus temps in the 50s.  It's totally bizarre.  All the plants and flowers are starting to explode, which is nice in a way but I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop and some crazy freeze to come.

I've neglected the backyard pretty hardcore this winter, usually I try to go out and deadhead stuff, weed, put bone/blood meal in the soil and also plan out what I'm going to do for the year.  I haven't even stepped out there hardly other than to clean up dog poop.  I've been feeling down lately and gardening usually cheers me up, so I decided to step outside yesterday and assess the yard and start dicking around out there at little.  I got some pleasant surprises when I walked out there, and it's the reason that I love plants and gardening so much.  Just when you think something is dead and you'll have to dig it up, you see signs of life.  I walked over to my herb garden and was shocked to see that my chives and parsley, which were totally dead at the end of the season, had new growth on them and were coming back!  Yay for not having to buy new plants!



I did confirm something I've long suspected, that my poor lilac tree has a disease and is dying.  We have crappy clay soil in our yard and I think it was just too much for it ultimately.  I was able to pull limbs out of the ground pretty much, so I'm going to go out today and dig the rest of it up.  I'm still not sure what I'm going to do with that corner and whether I should just leave it bare or plant something new.  I like having the shade/cover plus the birds like having a place to sit (their feeder is close), so I may try to find some kind of hardy flowering bush or vine to put there.  I used to do a lot of involved vegetable gardens but we just don't have the space set up to do what I want to do, plus it's a lot of work.  I planted flowers instead last year and found it a lot more rewarding and low maintenance, especially since we had a pair of adorable hummingbirds out there constantly and it seemed to make the bees happy as well, so I am definitely doing that again this year.  I have a lot of sunflower seeds and other stuff that I'm going to try to get going.

Getting out in the yard was good for me and I think I'm going to do it again today and do a little more involved work.

So this will seem random but I feel it is health related, and possibly even aging related.  I also wanted to see if anyone else has experienced something similar.  So when I was about 10, my previously wavy hair suddenly became full on curly, and it has been curly most of my life.  I used to hate it, but finally got the hang of it and started to appreciate my hair.  I rarely straighten it, that might happen twice a year or something, and when I do it always irritates me when people say "Oh your hair looks so good!"  (As if curly hair doesn't.)  Anyway, all of a sudden at the end of 2013, my hair suddenly became dry and brittle and it stopped curling.  (It stopped doing much of anything other than looking like absolute crap.)  I finally gave up and that's when I cut my hair short in January of 2014, and have had it short ever since.  Once I cut it, my hair became almost stick straight, even when wet or in humidity.


What the...I will run down the line here:  I don't color, highlight, blow dry, flat iron or do anything that would otherwise dry out or damage my hair.  I am a wash, condition, mousse, scrunch and go kind of girl.  I wash my hair about every 3 days, because us curly girls know that you're inviting a disaster to do it every day!  It's a complete mystery as to why this happened.  I can't even begin to speculate why my hair would go from Carrie Bradshaw level curly to straight.  That picture was taken a couple of months ago.  This was without a flat iron and barely any product.  Straight.

So the straight I can deal with as weird as it is, but the texture was starting to bothering me.  My hair felt so unhealthy and almost like horse hair.  Not a good look.  I thought taking a multivitamin would help, but alas it did not, nor did oil treatments, extra water or any of that jazz.  Finally I got so fed up that I headed to Walgreens and got hair/skin/nail vitamins and some shampoo/leave in conditioner made for African American hair.  Oh yes I did, and guess who has two thumbs and doesn't give a damn?  The shampoo is actually excellent and made a difference from the first time I used it.  And it's made with natural stuff/no sulfates and was insanely cheap.  I would spend $20 a bottle on similar shampoo at a health store.  Plus it smells like suntan lotion, which is all kinds of amazing.

So I've been at the hair vitamins and my new shampoo for a little over a month now.  Imagine my surprise last week when I stepped in the shower with straight hair, and then stepped out with curly hair.  I thought it was a fluke, but my hair is suddenly soft and curly again.  Taken yesterday:


I mean what the hell?  I'm not opposed to my hair being curly again, but it's not cut in a way where that looks flattering because I've been getting a cut meant for straight hair.  Anyway is this the most bizarre thing you've ever heard of or what?  My hair has been straight and coarse for over a year, and now it's back to curly.  Is it just getting older?  Is my hair bipolar?  If it's going to be curly and nice again I'd totally grow it out, but I'm worried it will have some weird ass manic state and I'll have to chop it off.  Oh and I didn't put that picture in black and white to be arty, I didn't have on any makeup and looked like dog crap, so I spared you guys by making it B&W.  ;)  Coughing spells have not been a good look for me.

Anyway, if you guys know of any medical/science type reason this could happen, I'm all ears!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

King Cake

Not a ton to report on Cough-pocalypse 2015, I am slowly getting better but am still having life altering coughing jags that require mighty amounts of hot tea in my hand at all times.  The strength of my kidneys has surely been tested the last few days.  Physically I feel better, plus I am getting more sleep than I was though not by much.  Last night was about 6 hours, I am still having issues with coughing while laying down so I don't really get a restful sleep.  But I'll take anything over not sleeping at all.

I did crack up at these step charts on my Up band.  This first chart was on Monday, which was easily my lowest moment of the week.  I had slept 6 hours over 2 days and was having panic attacks because I couldn't breathe.  Also note that my steps start at 12:35 AM because I was a zombie lady that day:


1,987 is insanely low, like even at my laziest my steps aren't usually that low.  1,987 steps translates to me staring sadly into the abyss while sitting on the couch and coughing.

Before I show you my step chart for yesterday, let me set the scene.  I'd had 7 hours of sleep, woke up feeling pretty good, and it was a stunningly beautiful day here yesterday.  Like, Portland broke temperature highs for the day (sorry Midwesterners and East Coasters, I don't say that to rub it in).  I was like a woman freed from death row.


Can you tell that I felt better and that I was slightly climbing up the walls from the need to get outside and move my body?  I took a trip to the store and walked the dog twice I was so excited to be able to leave the house.  I also Lysol'd the shit out of the house AND made a king cake for Mardi Gras.  I got more steps yesterday than the previous 3 days combined, and I'm not even joking.

Last night was so much fun and a nice break from being sad over how crappy I've felt.  We had my aunt and uncle over for dinner and to binge watch the first three episodes of Better Call Saul.  If most of you couldn't tell, I have a total lady boner for all things Breaking Bad, for me it's up there with Twin Peaks and Seinfeld in The Best Shows of All Time category, if not THE best show of all time.  BB ending left a huge hole in our TV shows we really care about lineup.  I don't even want to start a new TV show because I don't feel like anything could even begin to fill BB's shoes!  (yes, I'm aware that's over dramatic and silly) I have been cautiously hopeful about Better Call Saul (BCS), but have not wanted to get my hopes up.  I have to say, while it's too soon to tell if it will be on the level of BB, I've been very pleased with BCS so far.  Bob Odenkirk is great, and seeing familiar characters is pretty awesome.

Yesterday was obviously Mardi Gras, and I wanted to do something to celebrate it.  I made a playlist of some Mardi Gras classics for us all to listen to during dinner, and I also made a king cake for dessert as a surprise!


I was very happy with how it turned out, and thought I got it pretty close to the ones you can get back home.  It's the first successful king cake I've ever made and I'm pretty excited about it since it's something I really miss.

Now I have to admit, I get uppity and frustrated on the subject of king cake and Louisiana cuisine in general.  I love Portland, I truly do, but I get pretty annoyed at some of the attempts to take on what is a very unique culture and cuisine.  One of the things that drives me bonkers (probably unnecessarily so) is that there is a difference between Cajun and Creole, yet people label all Louisiana food as "Cajun".  Really irritates me. Also irritating is trying to educate people that dumping a shitload of pepper into something doesn't make a dish Southern.  One of the dishes I see trying to be most replicated and most butchered by silly Yankees is king cake.  I don't know why it gets butchered so badly because it's not a difficult pastry in theory, but I've never had king cake up here that wasn't screwed up seven ways to Sunday.  And it makes me sad, because I have the feeling that people have the impression that king cake is gross, but it's only because they're having bad impostor king cake.

Here is what king cake IS:  Rich in history and tradition, a texture between cinnamon roll and hallah, moist (I hate that word but the only one that can describe it!), delicately balanced between pastry and filling, and sweet but not overly so.  (Hint, the secret to this is citrus zest). The flavors should be layered and balanced (earthy yeast in the pastry, spicy cinnamon, tangy glaze/cream cheese filling and crunchy sugar topping).  There is also no light, gluten free or vegan shortcut that is going to result in traditional king cake results.  Sorry folks.  That's why this is eaten once a year, it's a big egg/icing/butter/gluten party.  And to the people that I've seen make fun of the colors, um, that's traditional and the  3 colors represent different things.  Educate ya-self.

Here is what king cake is not:  dry, heavy on bread texture, rolled vs being braided, too heavy or too light on icing and sickly sweet.  If you see king cake that looks like this...


as opposed to this...


Just don't bother.  Run away and save your money.  That puffy looking one means that the dough has been rolled, which will mean 2 things.  Not enough filling and it will be dry as hell.  It will be like eating three day old coffee cake with Betty Crocker icing on it.  King cake is traditionally braided, which means a better distribution of pastry and filling, plus it cooks faster and will not be dry.  It also means the glaze and filling can really get into all those lovely braided crevices which will lead to more gooey results.

This is the recipe I used, and it's supposedly based on the Haydel's king cake recipe which is my favorite king cake from back home.  I agree that it is really close.  My aunt and uncle really liked it, so I am going to start making this every year!  The orange/lemon zest is what sets this apart and gives it the traditional taste, and also what keeps the sugar from being overpowering.  The cream cheese filling is to die for, seriously.  The one thing I will caution you on, and the one direction you should NOT follow from this recipe is to bake the plastic baby in the cake.  I don't know what this lady is thinking, but for God's sake don't bake plastic.  The baby (if you're using one) is always stuffed in the cake after it has baked and cooled!!

Anyway that's my little cultural lesson for the day!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Happy Mardi Gras!

Sweet lord.

Sorry for not putting up a post yesterday, I was in dire straits due to this horseshit cold or whatever it is I have going on.  I honestly, truly was concerned over the weekend that I may cough myself into insanity.  Like sobbing, ripping my hair our, thrashing on the ground level insanity.  We've all been there right?

So y'all know I have the crud, and while most of the symptoms have shifted or lessened pretty quickly, I've had coughing jags that are absolute hell on earth.  I slept for about 3 hours Saturday night because every time I laid down, I just cough uncontrollably.  And not like a productive, "at least I'm getting whatever crap is in my chest out" coughing.  It's a dry, nagging, body overtaking cough that does nothing other than make me feel like 1) my skull is going to explode 2) that I will go nuts.  I need to have a scalding hot beverage or a huge glass of water near me at all times when I get in this mode.  If I don't, a coughing jag will grab me and it will go on for easily 5 minutes until I am gasping for breath.  (I guess if nothing else, my liquid consumption has been on point the last few days.)  If I get on a coughing jag the only thing that really stops it is to chug a 16 ounce or larger glass of water without pausing.  I feel like a frat boy at a drinking contest and like I should be crushing an empty beer can on my head afterwards.  I've had a ridiculous "is this even good for my kidneys" amount of water the last few days.

I tried to lay down Sunday afternoon to take a nap and immediately started coughing.  So I did what any normal person would do.  I got up, cried for a little bit and text vented to my aunt, who was so kind and drove out of her way to bring me cough syrup with codeine in it.  I was not able to sleep on Sunday night either due to coughing/breathing issues, so by yesterday I was running on 6 hours of sleep over a period of 2 days.  Not good.  They say that brain function on sleep deprivation is the same as when you are impaired by alcohol and I totally believe it.  I was incapable of normal thought yesterday (another reason for no post), and pretty much everything made me cry.   I finally was able to sleep for about 2.5 hours yesterday afternoon, and slept for about 7 hours last night.  The cough is still hanging on but it's definitely better than it was.

Needless to say I've barely moved in like 3 days, so people are going to have to give me a pass on the probably not meeting my step goals or any other goal for this month.  I weighed in this morning and was at 207, which is only a half pound up from last week.    The only somewhat positive thing is that I have had no appetite to speak of, so there really hasn't been any mindless snacking or craving of sweets.  That's probably about the only thing that has helped me on the weight front.

I'll be able to get back to posting like I normally do, which I'm sure you're all breathing a sigh of relief over.  ;)

And today is officially Mardi Gras!  If you're down South, happy Mardi Gras and don't party too hard.  ;)


Sunday, February 15, 2015

Voodoo Valentine

Not a ton of updates on my health stuff other than to say that I wish I could yank my lungs out and get a brand new pair, and that if I had a dollar for every time I have said "God someone just shoot me" in the last 48 hours....well, I'd have a lot of dollars.

I mainly want to post pictures of our Mardi Gras ball from last night, which I laid in bed all day yesterday to reserve my energy in order to rally last night, and boy rally we did.  The Krewe who puts on this ball is the Mysti Krewe of Nimbus, and while they are Portland based, all of the members are from Louisiana.  The theme for this year's ball was Voodoo Valentine since the ball fell on Valentine's Day this year.  Since Eric and I don't really celebrate Valentine's Day, it seemed completely "us" and appropriate to dress up in ghoulish costumes and go dancing.  ;)

I dressed as a voodoo doll and Eric was a voodoo priest.  I put some effort into actually buying a cheap dress and sewing some random details on it, mainly the heart with voodoo needles sticking out.  I did my own makeup as well as Eric's, and I have to say, everything turned out exactly the way I wanted it to!  We took about a million pictures of our outfits, but here is a small sampling:





And to show you that Portland stands by its motto of "Keep Portland Weird", we walked several blocks in those outfits and barely anyone batted an eye!  The only time we really got a reaction is when we walked past this fancy restaurant and several people did a triple take at Eric.  I told him that he should have leaned into the window and stared menacingly at everyone.  ;)

The ball was absolutely amazing.  Besides a very embarrassing coughing jag (near the food no less), I was able to pull myself together once I funneled a drink and some scalding hot gumbo down my throat.  When we first got there there was a really great brass band playing, so we ate quickly in order to get out on the dance floor!


I love seeing what traditional music from my neck of the woods does to people.  There was so much joy in the room and everyone was having a blast.  A lot of people at the ball were clearly transplants from Louisiana, but many were just regular old Portlanders.  Everyone was out dancing like crazy and grooving to the music, including us!

Then shit got real and they had a Skull and Bones gang do a processional through the ballroom.  I admittedly was not familiar with this tradition since I didn't grow up in New Orleans proper, but it's part of an ancient African/American Indian tradition.  The skull and bone gangs dress in skeleton costumes and go through the streets at dawn on Mardi Gras day, knocking on people's doors and getting everyone up before the first parade.  The procession was totally crazy, and while I did get a lot of pics, most of them are blurry.  I wish I'd taken video, because there is no way to describe it adequately.  It was like Eyes Wide Shut meets The Crow or something, it was wild.  The Skull and Bones gang came through beating drums, dancing, chanting and prompting a lot of call and answer stuff.  They stayed in the crowd a long time, dancing with people and continuing to sing and chant.  They finally all made their way onto the stage and did several songs with the next band.


The guys in all of the skull masks are obviously part of the S&B gang.  The guy with the mop hair was especially awesome.  We danced almost the entire time we were there, and we were so sweaty and hot by the end of the night!  It's probably the most activity I've had all week!  I honestly felt like I was back home, even if it was just for a couple of hours, that type of music just does good things for me.  I was glad that Eric got to have a taste of what real Mardi Gras and its traditions are like, and not the beads and boobs version you see hyped up for tourists.

One thing I did NOT like was that there was a giant, and I really emphasize the giant part in this, voodoo doll mascot that wandered through the crowd all night.  Fun Mary fact, I actually have a mascot phobia and really don't like even being in the same room with mascots at all.  I have been known to use people as a human shield if one gets close to me.  I was seriously paralyzed with fear a couple of times last night because this thing would suddenly be behind me on the dance floor.  But you would be paralyzed too if you turned around and saw this standing behind you:


I mean am I right?  I know that's not a great picture, but this thing was about 7 feet tall and crazier looking than all get out.  *shiver*

All in all we had so much fun that we definitely want to make this a tradition!  

Saturday, February 14, 2015

VD

Today is many things.  It's Valentine's Day, which Eric and I really don't celebrate because we're in the "you should appreciate your partner every day" camp as well as the "we'd rather spend money on more fun things than flowers or chocolate" camp.  It's the day of the Mardi Gras ball that I've looked forward to for 3 months.  It's also a day where I feel like I am going to die.  For realz.

I was so excited because I didn't get deathly sick at my birthday and Christmas in 2014 the way I did the last 2 years prior.  I was all cocky and fist bumping my immune system and saying, "we got this".  Apparently we don't because what started as "hey I'm sneezing a lot and my throat feels funny" has turned into hell on earth.  I'm so mad that this crap couldn't have held off a day and then have unleashed the fury on Sunday, but I guess it is what it is.  My throat hurts so bad that I woke up every time I swallowed in my sleep last night, which was basically every 30 seconds.  I ache all over and my head feels like someone is squeezing it with all their power.  I don't mean to whine, I just hate being sick.

I did get something that was better than 2 dozen roses or the most expensive chocolates in the world...I opened my bedside table drawer and found a package of real Sudafed from the last time I was sick (it's only available up here by prescription, thanks tweakers).  Seriously, I felt like I'd found a million dollars randomly stashed in our bedroom.  I took one and feel a little bit better as far as the congestion and pressure in my head already.  I won't be able to sleep for 3 days and will be terribly dehydrated, but at least I won't be snotting all over the place tonight.  I am going to pretty much stay in bed until I'm forced to get up in order to do Eric's makeup and my makeup.  I will have no trouble looking like a sad, broken down doll, let me tell you.

At least there will be King Cake at the party, because it truly is the little things.

Speaking of little things, it's amazing when you're sick how the littlest thing is the hugest deal.  I dragged myself out yesterday to get pho soup since it was the only thing I could think about that I wanted.  I went to this scary ass plaza by our house that is home to a gun store and tattoo shop, but also has a pho place that is decently reviewed on Yelp.  I called my order in and it was like a comedy sketch because I can barely talk, and the lady who answered couldn't speak English.  Somehow she was able to take my order, and when I got there we pretty much communicated in hand gestures.  And sweet lord, that was the best pho I've ever had in my life.  If you'd offered me a free meal at a 5 star restaurant in Paris, or an extra bowl of that soup, I'd have taken the soup.  I was glad I was alone, because I scarfed that stuff down like a caveman with no manners.  I don't know what it is about pho but that stuff was magical and I literally felt high after I ate it.  15 minutes after I finished it I was euphoric, then completely exhausted and went into a coma for an hour.  I usually don't nap anymore, but I totally crashed after this.  The power of pho baby.

I will post pictures tomorrow of our costumes from the ball tonight.  It's going to be a scene.  Sorry this post wasn't more eloquent but you know, Sudafed.


Friday, February 13, 2015

Time To Make the Doughnuts, Tootie Ma

It's official, I'm sick.  It feels like someone took a piece of sandpaper and started dragging it from my tonsils to my lungs.  I should form a Tom Waits tribute band or something.  Nothing to do about it now except hope it goes away quickly, and I really hope that I am in decent shape by tomorrow.  I am so looking forward to the Mardi Gras ball, so it will make me sad if I feel awful during it..  I was really hoping that I could avoid getting sick this year since the last 3 years I've had borderline SARS, usually around my birthday.

So totally different subject, what the hell is going on with journalists this week?  The Brian Williams lying/suspension thing has been a huge bummer because I truly liked him, then Bob Simon getting killed was a mega bummer, and now David Carr has died.  All in one week?  Sheesh.  I feel like I need to make a prayer circle around Charlie Rose and Scott Pelley, just in case.  I love Scott Pelley (or Pells as he's known in our household) because he constantly has a little twinkle in his eye, and often gets the feels to the point of tearing up if he's covering a very touching story.  He's a great journalist too, I just like that he has a heart.  He did a great piece on CBS This Morning about Bob Simon and you could tell he was struggling to get through it.  I like Charlie Rose because he's not only an amazing journalist, but you can also tell he really doesn't like Gayle King and makes veiled snatchy comments to her AND I've caught him rolling his eyes when she says stupid things, which always makes me do an inner fist pump.  I feel like Charlie and I could get together for martinis in a dark New York bar and talk about how annoying she is.  Anyway.

Now I know some of my lovely people are on a no sugar thing this month.  I am advising you to LOOK AWAY for a couple of paragraphs if you feel like you will be tempted by treat pictures.

I decided to test a recipe this morning as a breakfast surprise for Eric, a batch of baked pumpkin spice doughnuts.  (I had to go to hell and gone to find a doughnut pan, but I finally found one at Joann's craft store.)  The recipe is another one from Andie Mitchell's site, and it's actually quite healthy with the exception of a slight brushing of butter on the outside and a dusting of cinnamon sugar.  When I calculated the recipe up in MFP, the doughnuts came up to 118 calories, 1 gram of fat and 1 gram of fiber per doughnut.  There is no oil in the recipe, just applesauce and canned pumpkin, and the sugar in the batter is fairly minimal, and I would actually cut the amount of sugar in half for next time since the sugar on the outside of the doughnut is all you need.  Anyway, voila:


I have to admit, I don't get why everyone gets their bra straps twisted in excitement about pumpkin spice everything, pumpkin doesn't do a ton for me, so the pumpkin spice thing is not something I personally gravitate towards.  And honestly, I don't get very excited for doughnuts either because they usually give me raging heartburn due to them being fried.  However, these are pretty heavenly.  A couple of years ago Eric and I went back East to visit my in laws during the fall, and we all went to the pumpkin patch/cider mill that Eric remembered fondly as a kid.  In addition to the best apple cider I've ever had, there was a stand with pumpkin doughnuts (fried of course) that were some of the best doughnuts I've ever had.  These are very, very similar but much lighter.  Lighter is a good thing.  There is cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and cloves in the batter, so the smell these emit while baking is otherworldly.  Those same spices give a really lovely warming sensation on the palate, and the pumpkin/apple sauce make the doughnuts plenty tender and spongy without the oil.  Highly, highly recommend them.  And even better, now I have a doughnut pan and can test all kinds of baked doughnuts that won't make me question my life choices!

For some reason Andie's site is down this morning, but I was able to find a cache of the webpage and take a screenshot of the recipe if you're interested:



Well, since my croaky voice made me have Mr. Waits on the brain, I wanted to leave you with the stellar version "Tootie Ma" by the fabulous Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Tom Waits.  We're so close to Mardi Gras!









Thursday, February 12, 2015

Egg Equality

I've had a few of these close calls in the last few months, but I am pretty certain I'm getting sick.  I really hope it passes like it did all the other times I thought I was getting sick, mainly because I will be flaming pissed if I get sick before this Mardi Gras ball that I have anticipated for 3 months.  I mean seriously, I Youtubed how to sew just so I could make a costume for this damn thing, I refuse to get sick!  I was going to do a run today, but I may just walk and then come home and take it easy.  SIGH.

On a nutritional related front, I went shopping yesterday because I was out of a few random staples.  I usually wait until Fred Meyer has a 2 for $5 deal on their organic eggs, but went to our fancy foo foo New Seasons instead since it's close to where I go walk.  I just about fainted at the cost of eggs there, and this was just the normal store brand eggs, not even the fancy "the chickens were fed only with fair trade bugs and grass clipped from the top of the Andes mountains" eggs.  The other thing I noticed?  Brown eggs are $2 more than the white ones.  This is a trend I've noticed lately, and I wondered if there was something to it and brown eggs are indeed more nutritious...right before I got the white eggs since they are $2 cheaper.

I went home and did some seriously scientific research (ie an internet search), and the bottom line is that there is no nutritional difference between brown and white eggs.  You are paying more money just based on the color of the shell, which then gets thrown into the garbage.  Some people swear that the yolks of brown eggs are different, but as a country girl I can attest that the only thing affecting the yolk is the hen's diet.  A diet rich in grass/bugs equals that beautiful orange yolk you see in free range eggs.  A grain diet or a winter diet where the hens have less grass/bugs available equals paler yolks.  To quote my spirit animal Jesse Pinkman, "Yeah bitch, science."  So, buy whatever you like.  I do prefer to get the organic or free range eggs since I like chickens and don't want them to be cramped in sad warehouses.  (side note...I had a typo on warehouses so spell check flagged it and suggested "whorehouses" as a spelling alternative.  I mean....)

This led me to the old brown rice vs white rice debate.  I personally like both, although as far as love and affection go, I do love white rice.  I know some people hate brown rice, which I don't really get unless it's a texture thing.  Much like steel cut oats it's a pain in the butt to cook, which is probably why I tend to make white rice instead.  I posted a chart below, and the bottom line is that brown rice does edge out white from a nutritional standpoint, but honestly not by much.  The places where it trumps white are pretty negligible, and there is only a 20 calorie difference.  Brown even has more sodium and fat, though again, not by much.


The other fun fact is that arsenic naturally occurs in rice and brown rice has 80% more arsenic than white rice.  This may be of interest to those of you with kiddos, because the FDA is recommending that due to arsenic levels in rice that kids shouldn't eat more than one serving of rice based foods per day.  If you're interested in learning more, this Consumer Reports article from November breaks things down pretty well.  Bottom line, brown is a little better, but if you hate it then eating white rice isn't going to hurt you.  And ultimately, don't eat too much rice or you'll be like the Dollanganger kids from VC Andrews' Flowers in The Attic due to the arsenic content.

I thought I'd end with another Mardi Gras song today, another one of my faves by Oliver Morgan.  This whole story is kind of a big casserole of sadness, but the song is about a New Orleans singer (Lawrence "Prince La La" Nelson) who died of a drug overdose under mysterious circumstances, ie "shot" being heroin and not a gunshot.  The man who wrote and sang this had his house destroyed by bitch ass Hurricane Katrina and had to evacuate to Georgia where he later died of a heart attack.  #Depressing.  Anyway I know that I have not set up a big time party atmosphere, but I had to tell the story so y'all weren't  like "what the hell is a lala and who shot him?"  This song is really great and always comes up around Mardi Gras, so go pour one out for Oliver Morgan and the Lala.


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

They All Ask'd For You

So I definitely wanted to cover RMR again today, because a reader pointed out to me that the formula I posted yesterday for Resting Metabolic Rate was not about weight maintenance so much as it was about basic bodily needs, and that eating below that number could be very dangerous.  I wanted to dig into this since I never want to put out information that could be harmful!  So this is the Women's Health blurb in question, just so we're all on the same page:


The wording is a bit vague so there is definitely cause for confusion, but the information also seems to be dead wrong since I looked online at several other sites, and they do indeed say that RMR is your basic bodily caloric needs.  I used a couple of other RMR calculators online and they gave me roughly the same number that this formula did, so I don't think there is another RMR Women's Health was referring to.  So in other words, this little blurb could potentially be pretty dangerous if read with the wrong mentality.  In other words, someone could think "eating below it" means to eat drastically below it, and that is definitely not healthy.

I think you guys know my stance on calories.  I refuse to net at the typical 1,200 a day that seems to be the traditional number we're told to strive for.  1,200 leaves me famished and angry pretty much all of the time, and I think that's the case for most people.  You're pretty much set up for failure and extreme grouchiness at 1,200, but that is my personal opinion.  If you add exercise on top of that, even if you eat back what you burn you're going to be hungry and tired.  Right now I try to net at 1,500 per day, and I am going to test going up to netting 1,800 once my marathon training kicks in since I know I will be very hungry and need more fuel during those months.  I personally feel that you should never feel like you're starving, even and especially if you're in the process of losing weight.

I tweeted Women's Health to ask them to clarify their blurb, especially if it's information that could potentially be harmful.  We'll see if they answer me!   If they do I will post their response.  In the meantime, here are a couple of interesting links that I found on RMR that explain it without the medical jargon:

I hope that clarifies things (it certainly did for me).  Bottom line is, listen to your body, don't starve and don't over restrict calories because it's really shitty for your body.  And we love our bodies so we don't want to be shitty to them!  I personally have had to play around over the years to find a good number for me to lose weight at while still feeling human.  I would recommend starting netting 1,500 to 1,600 a day and go from there.  I know people who are able to net as high as 1,800-2,000 a day and still lose weight, but they are doing much harder workouts than me!

Speaking of not being nice to our bodies, our outing with out ex-coworkers last night at Buffalo Wild Wings was really fun.  There was one guy who I hadn't seen in about 5-6 years, so it was nice to catch up with everyone.  Tons of laughs and tons of "remember this crazy person" stories.  It made me sad and nostalgic for the beginning years at my old job when it was super fun and everyone was very close.  I should have taken a picture of all of us I guess, but boys are never very hot on the selfie thing.  ;)  I had the naked chicken tenders and a side garden salad, plus two beers.  Dinner of champions, clearly.  It was definitely nice to leave BWW and not feel like I'd made poor life decisions, which is usually how I feel 15 minutes after eating their wings.  If I find myself there again I'm definitely just going to stick with the naked tenders and be about my way.

I can't believe Mardi Gras is less than a week away!  We have our Mardi Gras ball this weekend and I'm pretty excited about it, I have to admit that I feel a little homesick during this time of year.  I miss a lot of the traditions, and I really mostly miss the music.  (Okay, and the king cake.  I miss the king cake.)  I thought I'd post some Mardi Gras songs this week, starting with one of my favorites of all time by The Meters.  I defy you to not dance when you hear this.  :)




Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Sodium

Weigh in Tuesday is upon us!  Well it's actually upon me, but you know what I mean.  My week of having the sads caught up to me and I was up by 0.6 pounds, and was really lucky that it wasn't more.  I am definitely troubled by how much my lady hormones affect my mental state, because it gets really bad and it's very tough for me to pull out of it.  But then when things are over I'm able to pull it together and trudge forward, I would rather not lose a week every single month though, and I certainly hate the depression that comes with it.  Not sure what to do about it, it doesn't seem to warrant getting on medication or anything like that.

Today is going to be a bit crazy because we'll be eating out twice!  We rarely eat out during the week, and certainly not for 2 meals in a row, but I am meeting Eric for lunch today, and then a group of us who are all "ex-ers" from my last job are getting together tonight at Buffalo Wild Wings.  I'm planning and logging everything ahead of time in MFP so that I can stay on track and so there are no surprises.  If there is any doubt as to why Americans are overweight, then you need look no further than the Buffalo Wild Wings menu and nutritional information.  Sweet Jesus.  I had already decided to not have wings, because despite the fact that I passionately love wings, the ones from BWW always make me feel sick.  They taste good going down but then an hour later my stomach hurts and they repeat on me, which I'm sure you were dying to know.  But I'm just keeping it real.

Also I'm pretty sure negotiating a mission for Seal Team Six is easier than negotiating a healthy dinner at a place like BWW.  Especially since B-Dubs (cue my cringing at the corporate attempt to be hip) doesn't have their nutritional info on their site, so I'm having to look elsewhere and toggle between the menu and Calorie King/MFP.  I find it incredible that restaurant burgers are so high in calories (almost 1000!) when I can make a pretty nice burger at home for like 480.  And don't get me started on restaurant salads, which tend to be as bad or worse than the other menu items.  Why is there so much freaking sodium in everything at restaurants?  It's madness.  Sodium is the one thing I do try to watch due to my blood pressure issues, and the amount of sodium in restaurants drives me nuts!  The naked chicken tenders (ie plain chicken) that I want to get are actually quite reasonable on the calorie/fat content but have almost my entire daily allotment of sodium.  Completely outrageous.  I was a bit stressed trying to figure out an option, which I hate because it goes against my eating philosophy, but I think I have a meal planned out that I can live with.  Guess I will be drinking extra water for the next couple of days to combat the sodium though!

All of this talk about sodium made my inner geek chime in and say "Hey, remember that silly song about sodium from that one episode of Mystery Science Theater?"


That stupid song makes me so happy.  MST3K makes me so happy.  The fact that my husband looks like Mike Nelson (even though he flatly denies it, but seriously he does) makes me so happy.

Two random things I wanted to mention yesterday, but my post was so long that I decided to hold them until today.  First of all, I am signed up for another race in April called the Double Five Challenge.  The race is called the Double Five because there is a 5k and a 5 miler, so if you run both, you've done a double five.  I opted to only run the 5 mile race because there is a time limit of 2.5 hours if you run both races.  I probably (and I stress probably) could make it under the 2.5 hour limit, but I would rather just have fun and not feel pressure to have a specific time goal.  I am excited about this race because it's at George Rogers Park in Lake Oswego, which is very special to me because it's one of the places I took Eric when he came to visit me the first time, and I was trying to show him all the prettiest spots in my "You need to leave California and move up here" campaign.  We ended up getting engaged at that park just mere months later.  :)  I've also spent many happy hours there during times when I needed to clear my head, and would bring my dogs there to play in the river.  My dog Wicket especially loved going to George Rogers, and would spend hours swimming and fetching sticks.  We took her there a few days before she passed away, and in even in her very frail state she lit up when she saw the river and managed a few swims.  We ended up spreading her ashes there after she passed because I wanted her to be by the river forever since she loved it so.  We don't get there as often now, but when I'm there it's an almost spiritual sensation due to all of the history and different stages the park has played in my life.  I am actually looking very forward to this race!

The second thing is this interesting bit from the latest Women's Health magazine on how to calculate Resting Metabolic Rate (ie the minimum calories you need to maintain your weight).  If you want to lose weight then you would have to eat below that number or burn extra calories.  If you are interested, the RMR formula is 655 + (4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) - (4.7 x age in years).  I did the calculation and it came up with 1,694.8 calories to maintain, and obviously I'd have to eat below that in order to lose weight.  Right now I have MFP set up for 1,500 calories a day, so I guess I'm on target.  I also did the calculation for maintenance at 140 pounds for me, and it looks like my maintenance calories will be about 1,412.  I figured as much, and that also explains why I was dropping weight so quickly a couple months ago when I had my target set to 1400!

Fun fact, that is the most math I've done in 15 years.  ;)