Thursday, 27 December 2012

Sesame Ginger Meatballs

I've been good all day today, so I decided to make me and my boyfriend a (mostly) healthy dinner.

Sesame Ginger Meatballs (or that's at least what I'm calling them), sweet potato, salad, and some fresh brewed Chai for dessert.  My boyfriend's on a low-sodium regimen, so we went with the salad dressing that had the lowest amount of sodium.  The flip side - it has high fructose corn syrup and sugar in it.... why, I do not know. It's raspberry walnut... it should be pretty darn sweet on its own.

So here's the breakdown:

organic spring mix with lots of baby spinach
some cherry tomatoes
1/2 carrot
mozzarella cheese
sesame seeds
Rasberry Walnut dressing

about 1 lb of ground beef
2 spoonfuls of garlic
about 1/4 sweet onion minced
red pepper flakes (...1/4 tsp?)
paprika (not a lot...)
ginger (1/8 tsp?)
sesame seeds (... I covered the meat in the bowl with them, probably about 2 tbsp)
cook in sesame oil - throw in the sweet potato and some more minced onion about half way through cooking.  I didn't put salt in here, but they needed a little bit of salting.

I'm only putting this because it took me and my roommate several tries to get it tasting like the yummy store-bought stuff.  I brewed about two mugs' worth in a pot and then addd about a tablespoon of honey before whipping in the heavy cream (1 cup).  It's not exactly like the store-bought stuff, but it's pretty good!  It's a little watery...

I'm really pleased with the meatballs, especially since the last time (being the first time...) they were really dry.  These really just needed a tiny bit of salt to bring out the spices, and maybe could have used a bit more oil.  I put the oil in the pan when I fried them... maybe I should try mixing it in with the meat?  I have no idea.  Also, the sweet potatoes needed a tiny bit of salt as well, but not a lot.

So yeah, yummy treats.  I'm pleased.  Also, Merry (late) Christmas!

Tuesday, 4 December 2012


Today turned into a cooking day.  Actually, I got myself some rice the other day to hold me over for a while, cause as much as I love eating so many veggies... well, a bag of rice was $3 and it will last me the rest of this week and probably most of next.  So we're trimming the veggies back a bit for now... rice isn't too horrible, mostly just a blank pile of carbs.  It doesn't make me feel yucky after eating like pasta or bread does either, just really full, which is the point!

So coming home today, I had the option of rice or rice with veggies or rice with veggies and some ground beef.  So I made curry.

Sorry, the picture is kinda crappy - I took it with my iPad instead of my phone.  I've made soup curry before, but never plain curry, so I was a bit nervous.... it worked out though!  It was sweeter than I usually like my curry... I used a Granny Smith apple too... maybe more chili powder next time.

Anyway, how to make it -

2-3 tbsp Coconut oil
2 tsp Cumin seed
2 tsp Mustard seed
1 pinch Fennel seed
1/2 spoonful of chopped ginger
1 carrot
1/2 cooking onion
3 cups of water
1 cup of coconut milk
2 tbsp Cumin seed powder
1 tbsp Coriander powder
1 tsp Turmeric powder
1/2 tsp Chili powder
1 dash black pepper
1 tbsp ish sea salt
1/2 Granny Smith apple
1 tsp ish butter
1 spoonful potato starch
a few tablespoons of ponzu (or soy sauce/tamari)
1/2 pound or so of ground beef

Sorry for the spoonful and ish measurements.  They're the spices that I didn't get from somebody else's recipe. 

So, heat the coconut oil on low and put in all the seeds (cumin, mustard, and fennel).  Cut up the carrot and onion and throw them in there with the butter to saute a while.  I totally was having a conversation with my roommate and wasn't paying attention to time, but maybe five minutes or so?  Brown the ground beef in another pan and let it sit till later.

Add in two cups water and a cup of coconut milk and bring it to a boil, then add in all of the powdered spices.  Hold off on the salt.  Peel the apple and cut it into bite-sized pieces.  I only used half of my apple because it was a little big.

Potato starch does the same thing corn starch does, only it's from potatoes, not corn.  As I'm avoiding grains that are known to be unhealthy, I don't use corn starch.  I got my potato starch at a Korean supermarket for making Ichigo Daifuku (full of sugar, but oh so yummy!).  I don't know if it's available at regular grocery stores, but it doesn't hurt to check.  For Ichigo Daifuku (and other Japanese desserts), the powdered white stuff on the outside is actually potato starch, not sugar, so it's quite edible and tasty.  Anyway, you're going to mix the potato starch in this like you would corn starch, a spoonful in about 3/4 cup of cold water, then whisk it in with the boiling mix.

I let everything boil down a bit after this, because you want curry to be a bit thick.  I put my rice on as I started making everything, and it finished about the same time, so I think total it took about forty minutes.  I let it boil for probably ten, stirring it occasionally to make sure nothing caught.  Near the end, you can add the ground beef, salt, and ponzu (or soy sauce/tamari - I can't eat the soy sauce in the fridge because it's so full of corn syrup and gives me a raging headache.  The ponzu I have has corn syrup in it (as well as MSG) but the ratio must be less because it doesn't bug me like the soy sauce does.  Non high fructose corn syrup sauce is on my list for eventually).  All of the veggies and the apple should be nice and soft, and the sauce should have thickened a bit.  If you leave it sit and cool for ten or twenty minutes, it'll thicken even more.  I'm impatient and don't really care, so I just ate it as it was.

For servings, I made one cup of dry rice, and what's in the picture is half of that.  So going by that size, it makes about three servings.  It doesn't completely adhere to Primal/Paleo ingredients, but considering how inexpensive it was and how yummy and filling it turned out, I'm okay with that for now.  Besides, curry is just amazing.

Note on the ground beef - I used what I had.  It's not the best.  Actual cuts of beef or chicken would taste WAY better.  You can also put potatoes in the sauce, but if you put too many veggies in you end up with no sauce.  The apple sweetens it and just adds a nice bit of yum to the flavor.  As it was, like I said before, this wasn't spicy at all.  It was actually pretty sweet.

And to think, a few years ago the best I could do was boil a sleeve with curry already made inside of it to heat it up.  :P I'm pleased with this development!

Thursday, 29 November 2012


I wish.  I know the weather isn't the greatest for it, but they really should have more "holiday" (i.e. between Thanksgiving and Christmas) carnivals.  That would be amazing.  Talk about ways to de-stress... Nothing like throwing darts at targets you'll never hit!

Anyway, the point of this was to share another recipe! It actually turned out, and I'm amazed.  Well, truth be told, the meat was dry... I'm not entirely sure why other than maybe because I had to defrost it a bit in the microwave.  One would think meat would be the easiest part....

Honestly, you could do this without the beef patties.  I've just eaten nothing but fruit and nuts all day, and I feel a bit like a squirrel, so I wanted meat.  Otherwise the squash is entirely vegan.  Unfortunately.... I don't really measure things (I'm pretty sure I mentioned this before), but I paid a bit more attention to what I threw in there today, so here goes:

1 carnival squash
1 peeled Granny Smith apple
1/4 Sweet onion
Coconut oil
a handful of pecans
1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon (stole this from a recipe I got the idea from, so it's the only thing I measured :P)
two small spoons (I used my regular kitchen spoons) full of real maple syrup
a few fennel seeds
a pinch of ground coriander
a pinch of ground cumin
some dried (unsweetened) coconut flakes

Oven on 375F.

And now you know the random things I have in my kitchen when I'm otherwise out of food.... (I still have a random acorn squash and butternut squash sitting on my kitchen table waiting for me to get bored and make them)  If you have the fennel, coriander, and cumin, you're half way to having the spices for soup curry... which is freaking amazing, and one day I will have the ingredients at the same time as I have the wherewithal to make the soup and I'll put up the recipe.  It's delicious.

Anyway, back to the squash.  It's a winter squash, and it's way harder to cut than acorn squash.  Apparently, you don't eat the skin either.  Learn something new every day.  The squash itself was pretty sweet.  Cut it in half - I suppose it doesn't matter either way since you end up having to scoop out the insides with a spoon anyway - and clean out the pulp.  Set the halves on a cookie sheet cut side up and coat the flesh with coconut oil.  I sprinkled a little ground coriander and ground cumin here and put two or three fennel seeds in each.  Stick in oven for 15 minutes.

While I was waiting for this to be done, I peeled and cut up my Granny Smith apple and onion.  I used the sweet onion rather than the cooking one partly because the cooking ones I currently have are really potent right now, and partly because the sweet onions are just yummier.  Anyway, toss those in a small mixing bowl with some chopped up pecans (about enough to fit in your palm whole).  Add the 1/4 tbsp of cinnamin, a spoonful of coconut oil (or two... I might have added another spoonful), and two spoonfuls of maple syrup.  I'm going to cry when I run out of my maple syrup.  It's the stuff my boss bottled.  I'm going to have to drive up to TC again to get more from him next summer... it tastes nothing like the store bought thick icky sweet stuff.  It's sweet, but it's basically a liquid.  If you don't have good maple syrup for this, maybe use a smaller amount of honey and more coconut oil.  For one, it'll be too thick and too sweet, and for two, the Aunt Jemima type stuff you can get is really just full of crap you don't need.  I mean seriously, if you have to make something gluten free that comes off of a tree naturally.... o.O  Really?  Not to mention it's generally got high fructose corn syrup in it.... and it's already a syrup you can boil down to make sugar naturally.... that's just not right.  Don't believe me? Go read the labels.  So seriously, if you don't have good syrup, you could probably skip it altogether and just use more coconut oil to keep the fruit moist.

So anyway, toss all that in a mixing bowl, stir it up, and when the time goes off, scoop it into the open halves.  I had some extra that I stuck in a casserole bowl and baked on a separate rack.  The fruit baked down as it dried out, so when I pulled the halves out I was able to fill it back up with the extra from the casserole dish.  Twenty minutes later, poof, done.

If you're really curious, I mixed the ground beef with some ground coriander, ground cumin, red pepper flakes, a spoonful of minced garlic, and some paprika.  If they hadn't been so dry, the meatballs probably would have been pretty good.  I also used the same mixing bowl, so they probably got a little bit of the coconut oil and maple syrup on them.  But yeah, dry meat was fail.  The squash was delicious though, and really filling.  My roommate ate half (and threw the last meatball away... totally would have eaten that!) and was stuffed.  I'm satisfied, but like I said, I've eaten like a squirrel all day. The only bad thing about the squash was that it's a little hard to dig the flesh out to eat.... especially when the skin is hot and slippery with coconut oil (I didn't cover the skin with it, but somehow it got there...).

So yeah, there's another Primal recipe for you.  I was going to go to the gym tonight.... but the cooking and eating took longer than expected and I want to be in bed by midnight so... tomorrow it is?  If I can swing it.  So much work to do, so little time to get it all done.  Let me know if you make the squash though and what you think.  It took about an hour total, but you don't have to really prepare much before, and the last twenty minutes are really just waiting for it to be done so, yay clean up time.

And now time for me to dive back into translating Heike.  The characters are more amusing as I get them into English (or even modern Japanese), so I'm definitely at a more enjoyable point in this project.  So yeah... back to that.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Personal Primal Challenge - Last Post

Ok, well, I'm not surprised I got distracted for the last few days.  Suffice it to say, eating, I was generally really good.... soda, not so much.  But I'm not letting myself be disappointed with me, cause that would only add to stress, so let's look back at my goals.

My goals for this month: 
- Some activity of some kind for at least an hour every day 
- No more headaches!!! 
- Normalized sleep schedule/pattern (as much as this is possible) 
- No more spinal cracking whenever I shift or take a deep breath 
- No more back pain 
- Stress under control 
- Losing a few more pounds and fitting into more of my clothes would be a nice bonus 
- Also, being able to do 1 or 2 pull-ups would be freaking awesome

Well, activity level was pretty low, but I did get in quite a few good walks.  Going to the gym is, not helpfully, the one thing too many right now, so I'm letting it be until I get a little more together.

My headaches have been cut down SO much.  I isolated the worst of it down to my glasses.  The pair I have that works best are scratched at the top, but it's the bottom I generally look through, and the other pair I was using (because this pair is scratched) are too narrow so I was constantly looking through a blurry black bit of plastic.  Other things that caused headaches (other than stress) were La Choy Soy Sauce (not all soy sauce does this) and bread.  Today my headache is very mild and not too constant.

Normalizing my sleep is taking effort, but I woke up today without an alarm, feeling pretty rested, at about 6:30, which was surprising.  I didn't actually get up.... it was cold and I wanted more sleep (that would have made about 6 hours)... but progress is being made.  Candles are helping.

Back pain has gone down a little - I'm making more of an effort to get up and at least pace a bit when it first starts bugging me, but I'll bet actually exercising and building strength in those muscles would help...  Sleep, at least, isn't as painful.  Spine still cracking now and again though.

My stress is not under control, but it's better than it was (by a lightyear or more) when Soushi was sick... That sucked... I'm still feeling behind in school and stressed about finances, but I had some talks with professors I needed to talk to, have some things arranged for next term, and have an interview at a temp agency on Friday, so all I need to do now is get my work done that's due in the next few days and stop worrying about the future, cause God's got it and I can't do anything about it anyway.  That didn't stop me from spending an hour procrastinating on my paper so I could apply for and contact the temp agency... Sadly, if I really want to sit down and work, the best way to get myself to do it is with a can (or three) of soda... I don't know what it is, but coffee and tea (one cup of each today, and I only got a tiny fraction done of what I could have/wanted to) just don't cut it.

As of yesterday I was 138, which is four pounds down from what I started at.  Woohoo! :) Clothes are about the same, but at least they're not too small on me again.

I.... haven't gotten to try pull-ups that much... goes with the gym thing.  Can't do them at home = not doing them at all.  We'll get there though!

Not a wasted four weeks, at any rate.

Update of another kind, my roommate's 19 year old cat isn't doing too well.  She's pretty upset about it, so please keep her in your thoughts and prayers.  There's nothing specifically wrong with George except she's 19 and just deteriorating.  She fell or something on Friday and broke a blood vessel in her eye, which is kinda what started this.  She was pretty active today though, came up to me and started purring, walked on top of me and tripped over Loki to get to Emily.... Still, it's pretty obvious she's not going to last much longer.... Pets are just supposed to stay healthy and live forever. :(

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Personal Primal Challenge - Days 19-22

Right, I'm supposed to be doing this.  Er... School has taken this opportunity to get crazy, just when I got a lead at a temp agency too.  @__@  I've been mostly good, same old... A few sodas, a small pizza on Monday, a pizza today, other than that...

I'm not very good at regular updates apparently.  I can say I'm learning a ton this week.  I need to get my butt to the gym and move around more though.  I spent six hours in front of my computer yesterday typing out a document I have to translate.  I didn't realize my back hurt until after hour five when I looked up and it was magically 1AM...  I had meant to go to bed at 10.  Oops.  My experiment was going pretty decently until last night.... Restart once I get caught back up on my work?

Good news though - I have an appointment with the coordinator for the Museum Studies certificate on Monday to get more information on the program.  I also have managed to email two of the professors I needed to and start talking with them about things for next semester... cause there are no classes relavant to my research being offered.... I really, really only want to take 4, maybe 5 credits next term anyway though.  Seven is kicking my butt, and I really need to be able to have time to work.  This not having any money thing is getting old.  I love what I'm doing, but already this week I've clocked at least twenty five hours of study/class since Monday.  I'm expecting tonight to be another late night too... which is great in that I'm learning a ton and I'm really excited about what I'm doing, but there's no chance I'm getting up at 6 AM tomorrow to substitute teach until 3 when my class starts at 4 and I'll end up at my desk again probably until after midnight tomorrow.  Ah, grad school... and I expected to be able to work at least three days a week... Ha!

While on the subject of gyms (at least my brain is) I need to find my card.  I'll just have to make time to go tomorrow after class.  My spine is unhappy.  I figured out the headaches a bit though - eyestrain. The glasses I got over the summer that were working so great got scratched right after I moved in August, so I've been wearing my backup pair which I'm either looking around or through the really thick rims.  Put my scratched glasses on, and aside from having an annoying scratch near the top of my vision, headaches WAY down.  Not gone, but at least they're not quite so bad this week.

And break time over.  Back to Heike.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Personal Primal Challenge - Day 18

My room is a plethora of smells (read: yankee candles I borrowed from my mom)!  And my computer screen is orange (sorry Matt!).  Actually, even with this (F.lux), I probably should just give up the computer this late, but I wanted to update and I'm looking for a way to get my articles on my ebook reader because my iPad is just too hard on my eyes with the constant reading. I love the software and being able to annotate directly on the file (and not having to print the file, keep it stored somewhere, lug it around, kill trees, all that), but my eyes are just so tired I'm getting nothing done.  So, experiment!  Which means I need to find the cable for my ebook reader.... err...

Anyway, before I run off to do that, I was really good today!  I maybe at three too many bananas.... but only because two of them had to be eaten today or they would cease to be at that perfectly speckled yellow phase and go bad.  That was breakfast, well, one of the four was, along with some black berries.  Lunch was sautéed broccoli and mini bella mushrooms in sesame sauce with a spoonful of garlic and salt and pepper (and some cheese...).  Two more bananas were had at some point, along with a bunch of pepperonis because I wanted meat and that was what was in the fridge.  Dinner was leftover soup, super yummy sharp cheddar cheese, a few slices of pear, a beer, and another banana.  Actually I had too much cheese because I only ate a few spoonfuls of the soup before I got full.

And that was that.  I really didn't eat much today apparently... Tomorrow will likely be a cooking day though, as well as a, hopefully, more productive school work day.  I did get a lot of stuff done that needed doing, laundry and groceries being among them, and admittedly I did get a chunk of my reading done, but I wanted it all done by today so I could focus on my translations and Classical Japanese tomorrow.

So tonight I am trying to wind down by candle light, and the program I just put on my (read: Matt's) computer, F.lux, is supposed to take away the blue light that screws with circadian rhythms, so here's hoping my little cheating won't mess up my experiment too horribly.  I think my roommate thinks I'm nuts though.  *shrug*  Sleep is one of those necessaries.  I slept horribly last night, too.  I drifted off a bit for maybe two hours before the door opening woke me up, then I just couldn't get back to sleep until probably 1 ish.  I'm hoping for better results tonight.  I may end up making a cup of chamomile tea when I'm closer to being ready for bed.

Random though, I wonder what our electricity bill will be next month. ;P  I'll be amused to see if it goes down at all.  It should.  I think I'm the biggest lights-on offender.

That's all for now.  Off to find that cable and hopefully get my files working on my ebook reader.  Poor thing's been neglected since school started anyway.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Personal Primal Challenge - Day 17

Bacon and veggies for breakfast; a sandwich (minus the bread), salad, and fruit, courtesy of CJS, for lunch; leftovers for dinner.  I cheated with a cookie (2, actually) at lunch.... I don't think I can blame that for my current headache as it started a good hour and a half after I ate the last cookie.

I slept really well last night!  I don't know if it was the candle-lit wind-down, the glass of wine, the book (The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett), or the position (stretched out on my back).  More than likely it was a combination of all of the above.  Half of me would like to skip the hour long wind-down, but I was able to get up at 8 and not be too cranky, despite my loud neighbors being what woke me up... so that's a plus.  No short cuts to being healthy, I guess.  Hopefully I can figure out a routine that makes sleeping easier.  Sleep really shouldn't be so difficult, but it's always been for me.

Anything else I can think of to talk about here today would consist of a rant or a complaint, so I'm just going to give the world the bird and call it a night.  It's a few hours early, but it's Friday... I can't go to the bar with Jen (cause it'd take 14 hours and a few thousand dollars to get there), and I can't think of anything else to do that doesn't involve my eyes.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Personal Primal Challenge - Day 16

Back on track today, at least as far as food goes.  I got about 7 or so hours of sleep, but it was pretty bad sleep... I proceeded to take a nap on the table at the library before class on account of said bad sleep.. it wasn't very comfortable.

Anywho, recap on the day -
"Breakfast" (technically, though it was about 11:30 by the time I sat down to eat it) was stir fry - ground beef, green pepper, onion, carrot, and zucchini in sesame oil with some worcestershire sauce, garlic, sesame seeds, and red pepper flakes.  It was, to my utter surprise, sweet.  It was also surprisingly thick, like gravy textured.

Iced tea and water got me through the day at school, and then I ate a handful of dark chocolate chips before I went about making dinner.

I'm quite pleased with how dinner turned out!

Now, I'm fully aware that Butternut Squash Soup is not supposed to be chunky.  I've never eaten a butternut squash before, and I only briefly skimmed over a few recipes online before I got bored of sitting... so this is my own concoction.

1 butternut squash
1/2 cooking onion
2 carrots
6 strips of bacon
1 spoonful of garlic
1 pinch of fennel seeds
1 pinch of coriander powder
1 pinch of cumin seeds
1 pinch of paprika
1 apple
chicken bullion or chicken broth (I boiled the bullion with the garlic... no I have no clue how much water I used)

So I don't measure things... kinda like I don't read directions... But it was super yummy (albeit a little sweet)!  I cooked the bacon first and pulled it out, cooked the chopped squash in the grease (actually I had to add some more from the cup in the fridge, about two spoonfuls).  If I do it again, I'll remember to mash up the squash and the apple (I used a red delicious since that's what I had) before adding the carrot or the broth (less water next time), and I might skip the fennel seed.  Apparently, although I know it from making soup curry, fennel seed makes things sweeter... This was borderline too sweet for me - I kinda wanted to sprinkle some chili powder in it.

At any rate, food was good today.  I'm full and, headache check - only a light headache right now in my temples, though my back is incredibly unhappy today.

I'm thinking about ways to lower my stress, and I think I need better sleep at a more regular time. No more studying until 2 AM.  I want to get up earlier, like I was over the summer.  So, in Michigan, the sun sets pretty early and the sky isn't always blue.  Winter sucks like that sometimes, but if humans can alter their rhythms to survive nocturnally (been there, done that), then there have to be a few things I can do to extend/increase my "daylight" hours to give me a fuller day while still shutting down for night time at a decent hour.  I'm going to try candles, and getting off my computer (this will be one of the last things I do tonight).

I've also been skimping on the "play time."  Actually I've been skimping on "me time" altogether.  So I need to figure out when/how I can do that every day, or at least every other day.... just for a little bit, so I can turn school off.  It's so different being a worker and being a student.  When you work, sure, you think about your job, your students, what you did, what you can do better on your off hours, but they're still "off hours."  You walk out of the building and that's it.  You're done for the day (generally).  Now, I'm only in class about seven hours a week, I study in the library probably about the same amount, but then I come home and I study at my desk, I read on the couch, I do homework at the kitchen table, it just doesn't end.  And I have no end of homework and studying - which is great, this isn't a complaint - but then come night time when I want to sleep, it just doesn't happen.  I'm tired and stressed so what work I have and can do takes that much longer to finish, which stresses me out more, and it's just not a cycle I want to live in for the next five years (yeah, okay, it'll probably be longer, but I can dream!).

Step 1 - identify the problem - complete!
Step 2 - consider solutions - in progress

And now for something completely different.
Soushi is doing good!  He's running around, being cuddly, eating, drinking, being normal... dare I hope whatever it was has passed?  Do I get to keep my kitty?? :D  Lots of thanking and hoping from this end.

And because it is November 1st, I'm obligated to say.... I will not be doing NaNoWriMo this year.  I considered it... crazy as my life is, I did actually consider it, and then I decided that it just wasn't worth it.  My stories are still very much in my head, but they'll just have to stay there a little longer.  Maybe over Christmas break?

I think I may take myself hiking this weekend.  There are a few state parks not too horribly far.  It'd be nice to get outside and moving around.  I will resist the urge to bring one (or more) of the books off the pile on my desk. -_-

Speaking of books, I have some reading to do for tomorrow before it's computers off time.  That's all for now.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Personal Primal Challenge - Days 13, 14, and 15

Day 13
To be completely honest, I only occasionally let myself be concerned with food beyond "I should probably feed myself" for the last couple of days.    Breakfast on coming home from the vet who said Soushi might never get better was Wendy's, dinner after class was Taco Bell, and there were many cans of soda keeping me awake as I only got a few hours of sleep.  Continuation of raging headache that nothing would touch, couldn't really sleep because my entire body hurt no matter how I was laying/sitting.... apparently I was upset, and I'm sure eating heathy would have been better than not caring at all, but I did not have the mental energy to care.

Day 14
I started out on a bit of a better note yesterday.  I slept like the dead for about six hours and had a salad with chicken breast and iced tea for breakfast.  I was, however, completely unprepared for class, though one of my classmates sent me her notes since she knew about my kitty, and those did help.  It was still stressful though, and I forgot one of my notebooks, and it was just a mess.  Dinner ended up being at the Pizza House with my boyfriend and his friends.  There was nothing remotely healthy about that meal.  My headache slowly eased up by bedtime though, and I slept for about seven or eight hours on and off.

Day 15
I ate leftovers for breakfast... with sugary caffeine.  It was there, but thankfully my headache was mostly gone, just body ache today.  I'm imagining dinner, when I get to it, will be the leftover salad from yesterday.  I'm trying not to stress out today, but my motivation is pretty low, and I have a ton to do....  Mild headache, and my stomach is still unhappy, though not as bad as it was on Sunday.

Good news, Soushi seems to be doing a lot better.  He's moving around on his own, drinking, eating, and even meowed a couple of times!!  I'm praying that whatever it was has passed, and he'll just keep getting back to his normal self from here.  He's still got me a bit worried, but I like the progress I'm seeing!!!

That's all for now.  I'm going to spend the rest of today trying to get my stress levels back down so I can focus on what needs to get done and actually get it done (if I can ignore the sound of the TV... I really hate TVs...).  Back on track tomorrow, if I can find the energy to do it.  It take so much energy to prepare and cook food (I hate cooking about as much as I hate listening to people watch TV) that eating primal, finding foods and especially easy foods that aren't filled with preservatives, grains, or sugars, is just exhausting.  I'm the type of person who would rather just not eat when I'm stressed, and I know I need to eat, but I don't have the energy to put much thought other than "food in face" into the process.  Going to try again tomorrow, and at least then all the bad stuff will be out of the house and I won't have the money to go buy more.  Narrowing the options is one way to keep on track (though I did sit and eat a half a bag of dark chocolate chips yesterday.... so it doesn't always help...).

Diving into the books now.  I've accumulated eight from the library in addition to the two I have for class and the folders of articles on my iPad. @__@  I can do this...

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Personal Primal Challenge - Day 12

I'm only writing this because I said I would do 28 days.  I'm a stressed out mess, and I don't give a damn what I put in my body right now if it would make my headache go away.  Actually, to a small extent I do, but food is just upsetting my already upset stomach, and soda is an easy comfort.  Sadly, it's not helping me focus.  Coffee did not help - I tried...

Soushi is still not really moving that much.  His gums look fine, and I've been kinda force feeding him fluids.  I got him to eat a bit of kibble and some treats too.  I just really need one of the vets to take him in tomorrow morning.  Thank you those of you who donated.  It will help.  Hopefully it will cover it all.  I doubt if there will be any left over, but if there is, it'll go to an animal rescue.

I have to try to get some work done.  I have such a long list of thing that I need to do - work, school work... not to mention house stuff and life chaos.  I've been a mess all day and managed to read one article, but I don't really remember much past the dried fetuses used for staunching blood (history of wound medicine).... oh, and for some reason the Japanese authors were using the word for "cat" to mean "badger," and "tanuki" is being translated as "badger."  I thought they looked more like ugly raccoons personally, but my caring is about nil right now.

I  know the best thing for me would be to just take the rest of the night off, cuddle Soushi, and take care of me.  I just need to convince my brain that it's okay to do that.

I'm doing this because my cat needs it

Soushi is sick.  I thought he was getting better, but then he got bad again.  I got him drinking some tuna juice, and he's perked up a little, but he's still not doing well.  According to the vet I took him to on Friday, that is very, very bad.  The fact that he's not voluntarily drinking is also very, very bad.

This is the bad part about having a pet and then losing your stable source of income.  I can afford the monthly expenses of caring for my animals, but the vet put a $500 estimate in front of me on Friday.  It ended up being $200, which was a relief.  I had $40 that I'd just gotten for some translating, and $50 or so I figured I could trim off my grocery budget for the next bit until I figured out something or managed to find some work.  The rest, well, that was for next month's bills, but at least I had it available.

The long and short is I need to get him back to the vet, and I don't have the money to pay for it.  The only options the vets are presenting me with is a credit card that has a 26% interest rate, they won't let me pay off a bill in installments.  So I'm asking for some help, from anyone who is willing.  Even $5, or $1, can you please help me raise enough to take Soushi to the vet and get him tested so they can find out what's wrong and make him better?

I honestly have no idea how much this will cost, so I'm going to go with the first vet's estimate of $500.  The website I'm using won't let me do an "event" for less than a day, but at least so far every vet I've talked to wants payment up front.... so I guess as soon as possible is my aim.  Honestly, I will pare down everything I can if I have to, if I can't raise anything here, but every little bit helps.

You can use the link above to donate, or if you would prefer you can donate directly through PayPal at the link below.

I'm going to contact the animal rescue centers in the morning to see if they have any discount services or support as well.

I really was hoping he'd be chasing Ophelia up and down the hall today, or at least meowing or purring... T__T

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Personal Primal Challenge - Days 9, 10, and 11

Yeah, that's right, Oxford comma!  More people should use it.

So, I'm not so good at keeping up with this, apparently!  I'm trying, I really am!  I really can't remember all of what I ate the last couple days, or what I did, mostly I've just had a nasty headache that comes and goes...

Day 9
I didn't eat much in the morning, didn't have much of an appetite.  Dinner was stew made from the juices of Wednesday's ribs, more ribs, lots of veggies, and a little bit of potato starch to thicken it.  It was delicious.  I didn't manage exercise outside of walking the dog and walking between my car and campus... and I'm pretty sure I had a Pepsi at some point (it helped the headache at least....).  Most of Thursday entailed me freaking out over Soushi, who was sick, and trying to find a vet I could afford who could see him.  That didn't happen.

Day 10
Continue with me freaking out about Soushi, hauling him to the vet, bawling in the office as they explained their $500 estimate, still crying a little as I left paying $200, though very relieved that Soushi's blood work came out basically perfect.  Ate leftover stew and fruit, and went out and bought a Pepsi Throwback because I'm weak and needed comfort food as I sat with Emily and watched Highlander.  Soushi beat up the dog a little and chased his laser... both good things in light of the fact that he's mostly just been staring into space for the last few days.

Day 11
Soushi seems to be doing a lot better, which means today was not a vet day, thank God.  The vet informed me that if he didn't do better with the shots she gave him something was very seriously wrong.  I can't afford to pay for very seriously wrong, so my cat cannot have something very seriously wrong or my world will turn very seriously sad and angry.  Just saying.  Anyway, banana and some dried fruit that I made yesterday for breakfast.  Lunch at mom's was a bowl of tomatos, cucumber, and mozzarella cheese in balsamic dressing.  I ate some broccoli and mushrooms as a snack, and now I'm thinking I'm not going to leave the last of the stew for my roommate, I'm just going to eat it for dinner. :P  Exercise is not going to happen as I have a migraine today... I managed to resist the call of Pepsi only because mom didn't have any.  I took some migraine meds a bit ago, so hopefully it doesn't get any worse.  I have a ton of work to do tonight, but I may end up in bed early if this doesn't go away.

Also, I painted my nails today, and yes, I took a picture of them.

Two reasons why:
1) I haven't had nails long enough or healthy enough to paint since summer, which was the first time I'd had them pretty much since right after I got back from Japan, and I was working at a park over the summer... not really ideal for girly nail polishing.... and sometimes you just want to be girly! (Yes, that was a run-on sentence, at least I can use the Oxford comma properly!)

2) MY NAILS ARE LONG AND HEALTHY AGAIN!!!  A word here about my nails, they generally grow really fast.  The biggest problem since I've been an adult (and stopped biting them) is that they peel.  The layers literally split and the top peels back.  Even when they're short they tend to do this.  For the most part, they did not do this when I lived in Japan.  They started doing this again a short while after I moved back.  They stopped over the summer while I was eating Primal foods.  They started again last month.  I had talons in Japan, and my friend and I both noticed that our nails were growing like mad but that they didn't do that in North America.  We attributed it to the humidity difference, only Japan isn't all that different from Southeastern Michigan.... and I'm noticing a pattern with my eating habits. (Note: I barely ate wheat products in Japan because they were too expensive.  I ate primarily rice for carbs.)

Honestly, I have no idea what deficiency causes my nails to peel.  As I understand it, nails are calcium, but up until last spring I was taking calcium supplements fairly regularly, at least as regularly as I can manage being as scatterbrained as I am.  (I probably should still be taking them, I just forget to...)  Taking them or not taking them doesn't seem to make a difference in the strength of my nails.  Protein maybe?  But I've always loved meat, and if I don't get meat at least once a day I am a sad, sad person!  Everything related to the Paleo diet/Primal lifestyle remarks on how wheat has phytates that block nutrient absorption.  This forum thread has an interesting discussion on the topic.  It's really just food for thought.  I'm not a scientist, I won't pretend to know, but it is interesting.

Also, and this deserves its own post at some point, but for now I made veggie chips!

The lighting in my kitchen sucks, but I don't feel like getting back up to take a better picture.  They're so good!!  They needed to dry a little longer.  I kinda messed up with the dehydrator last night - I turned the heat down so things wouldn't over-dry while I was sleeping.... not a good idea.  Some of these are very crispy and perfect, other bits are a little soft and mushy.  But they're yummy, either way.

How to make them
I honestly didn't measure everything... but I basically threw a parsnip, carrot, and half a sweet potato in my food processor, added a pepper (see below), some minced garlic, a chunk of sweet onion, chia seeds and sesame seeds (didn't measure, just dumped...), paprika (again, just dumped) and probably about a teaspoon or so of salt.  It needed about two tablespoons of water as I was making the paste, but I think if I'd had a tomato it might not have needed any.

I have no idea what kind of pepper this is... actually I'm not even sure it's the same kind as the one I used, but it was at least similar.  The only difference was the one I used was mostly green with some red spots....  My roommate's parents grew them.  Judging by the smell, I'm going to go with they're pretty darn spicy.

So anyway, made a past out of it and spread it on the fruit roll-up sheet for my dehydrator.  It was in there on 135 F for probably six hours, then 95 for another 8 or so.  Like I said, I probably should have just left it on 135 and set and alarm to check it over night, but live and learn, right?

I also dried a tomato yesterday, basically just put salt and peper on it and put it on the rack.  I had the same problem where some pieces were really crunchy and some were still really moist, but even the apples I did (and I'm getting good at drying apples!) were too moist still.  I haven't tried the sweet potato chips or carrots yet.  I'll let you know how those go some other time.

And yay for migraine meds!  My headache has started to ease up.  It's gone from someone trying to drive a spike above my ear to a dull throb on the top.  Dear body, please stop hating me! I'm trying to be nice to you for a change!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Personal Primal Challenge - Day 8

Day 8 isn't actually over, I still have to dive into some homework, but I figure I'll get this done while my brain is in the 21st century so I don't forget again.

Today was a strange day.  I woke up late, again, and had a really hard time dragging myself out of bed.  Really, having to take Loki outside is about the only reason I get up when I do... which is really sad considering someone in July and August I was waking up at 6AM with the sun and rearing to go.  Not so much anymore.  Of course, I was also sleeping better.  I need more outside time, but I'm really not sure how to get it.  I did apply for a landscaping job though.... That would be nice (and go figure, they pay better than the office assistant jobs and, haha, substitute teaching >_>).

Anyway, breakfast was the last of the bacon and the last clementine.  Ate a handful of dark chocolate as a snack while contemplating more food and ended up with "lunch" being a half a honeydew, the last of the grapes, and a few pieces of cheese.  The food thing just wasn't going well today!  I hate days when I have to think about my food.  I don't want to think about my food!  Rawr.  Anyway, Emily made a delicious dinner, rib meat marinated in worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, tomato paste, maple syrup, chicken broth, and some spices (no clue what) with carrot, potato, and onion.  I topped the meat off with a few more drops of syrup, because that stuff is freaking amazing!  It's the stuff my boss made.  Aunt Jemima just doesn't even come close!

I got a raging headache after dinner though.  I'm not sure why.  It's the same headache I've been getting for the last few days, and I really just am at a loss as to what's causing it now.  If there was anything bad in the food, it was either in the tomato paste, the chicken broth, or the worcestershire sauce, but I haven't any of those (excluding today) for the last few days, so I don't think it's the food.  I just don't know.

Anyway, my headache eased up a bit and I ended up going to the gym for an hour - walked a lot, jogged some, sprinted for a minute, lifted some weights, and tried pull-ups again (assisted).  For about five minutes after I left my spine did not crack!  Anyway, it was fun... not so much the pull-ups, but I really just want to be able to do those, so fun or not I'm tackling them.  Grr.

My stomach is telling me I need to eat something, but I can't see my kitchen counter right now, and there is no fruit left (except for what I was planning on drying tomorrow)....  And we're out of kale or I'd make some kale chips to munch on.  I'll figure something out.  It may or may not involve chocolate... and dried blueberries.... :P

To work!

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Personal Primal Challenge - Days 6 and 7

Holy crap, it's already been a week!  I get so lost in my school work that, really, short of counting days like this, I'm pretty much oblivious to the passage of time.  Which reminds me... it's already the second half of October.  When did that happen???

Anyway, Day 6 (yesterday) I was really good up until the last few hours when I sat down to do my work... then I cracked.  Honestly though, I didn't have much of an appetite.  I made myself eat some bacon and an apple for breakfast so I wouldn't be going ten hours on an empty stomach, then about five hours later my stomach decided it wanted food, so I ate some dried apple and then caved and went to Wendy's for a salad... after which I felt gross and nauseous again.  I was a mix of hungry/would rather puke than eat all during class until I started back toward my car when I got really hungry again.  Thankfully, Emily shared her dinner, veggies cooked with a tiny bit of ground beef in chicken broth.  I made us some sweet potato hashbrowns in bacon grease afterward, and that was when I caved to the cold Pepsi Throwback staring at me from the fridge.  Of course, I got my work done.... three Pepsi's later.... I really should have learned by now that when I'm intending to cheat and sit down with a soda I should not by a 12 pack of cans.

Cheating aside, I walked almost five miles yesterday to and from my car (twice), to and from the post office (twice), and around campus.  Woohoo.  I'm trying to remember how my head felt, and I'm pretty sure it was hurting toward evening, but I can't remember (the whole barely knowing what day it is thing...).

Day 7, my head has been heavy and achy since about 5.  Part of it was stress - only one of my classmates came prepared for class, which I will refrain from complaining about because it's completely pointless.  (If I had a headache yesterday, I'm sure it was related to some of the people in that class as well.... but I was in a surprisingly good mood on my way home... yay for singing bad Jpop and getting caught air drumming at stop lights! :P)  Food-wise, I've been good today.  Left over hashbrowns and some iced tea for breakfast.  Lunch was dried apples and more iced tea (at school), and then for dinner I had the last of the pork and baked veggies.  I've also been snacking on bananas (two of them...) and had a glass of cranberry juice in a rather pointless effort to try and dull my headache.  Why I feel that would help is beyond me.  A wiser woman would just take some pain killers....

At least I can mostly eat today.  My stomach is still unhappy, but it's not threatening revolt anymore.  I wanted to go to the gym today, but not with this headache.  My ears are also ringing incredibly loudly today.  Hopefully tomorrow.

As a good yet sort of surprising development, I'm now down to 137 lbs (from 142 lbs a little over a week ago).  When did this happen?  No clue, but I'm not going to complain.  I'm almost to pre-returning-to-America levels.

Last but not least, some progress and cuteness!

The miracle part - nobody got bopped!  They just laid there.  Ophelia was on the armrest. It was adorable.

And now, I think I shall try to sleep early and hopefully get a good night's rest.  Still not doing so hot on that goal, but maybe tonight!

Monday, 22 October 2012

Personal Primal Challenge - Day 5

Verdict - mostly a failure, but at least I got my work done.

I spent the morning trying to concentrate, managed to eat the pork/veggie leftovers for "lunch" at around 3ish (breakfast was a small glass of cranberry juice because I had zero appetite), and then proceeded to have part two of "Why did I think studying anything related to Japan was a good idea???" breakdown that started on Saturday.  Spent the next few hours giving myself an even worse headache that I probably should have just taken some migrane meds to kill.  As it was, I killed it with a few cans of Pepsi Throwback, which also determined that the funky feeling in my stomach was tummy-upset, not hunger.  Yes, caffeine is sometimes what it takes to kill my headaches, and it's not caffeine withdrawal - I had two glasses of iced tea before with my lunch.  That's why migraine meds are sometimes the only thing that works, even on non-migraines (yay for cheap over-the-counters!), but I really try to avoid taking anything if I can.  And I'd also taken Motrin and magnesium for, er, girl related stuff, so I didn't really want to take anything else.  Also, I was sad, stressed, and needed to focus.  Hence, I cheated very badly.

But I got my homework caught up, ish. I have a manageable amount left for tomorrow and Tuesday, but manageable is the operative word in that sentence, and stress is a big part of what I'm trying to manage this month.  Do the ends justify the means? I'm going to bed significantly less stressed (and by that I mean I'm not at all worried about being prepared for class for the next two days), albeit at close to 2 AM and with way more carbs from refined sugar than I should have in about a week.  At least it was sugar, not high fructose corn syrup.  That stuff makes me feel awful, and then I break out for the next week or so.

Emily made a very yummy stir fry for dinner with very tender (and free!) steak, but sadly, when I thought about ganking a piece of the steak off her plate, I almost puked.  I did manage to eat a small bowl about an hour ago, but brushing my teeth was an exercise in controlling my gag reflex (I know, entirely too much information in this post) and I kinda want to curl up in a ball and just pass out. Actually I want a cup of chamomile tea to help me sleep, but I don't think I could keep it down at this point.  I think it was the meltdown.  I'm not actually sick, I think my stress just got the best of me.

As for activity for today, really it was pacing around the apartment, taking Loki out for a couple short walks (and a sprint across the courtyard, just for kicks), and walking around Meijer (carrying a 12 pack of Pepsi...).  But speaking of Loki, he has a new jacket for winter.

Now I just need to rig it so he can wear it outside.  He's way too big for doggie-smalls, but the mediums are too big on him and the tummy strap is right in the line of pee, so it comes off when we go out... which won't work for winter.  The poor little guy shivers the entire time he's outside, and it was pretty warm out today.

So, things I learned from today:
- Running around like a crazy person with the doggie is a good way to spend a study break.
- Call mom before giving in to meltdowns - there is no time difference anymore!! (one good thing about being in North America)
- Don't force self to eat when stomach is upset... it's just not worth it (habit I got into when my gallbladder wouldn't let me eat anything during high school/early college)

Whether or not indulging in what I know will work in order to focus on what I need to do, and thus finishing what I need to do, is worth the compromise (lowered stress: high dose of sugar) is something the jury is still out on. (Shush, I know the grammar was bad there!)  Personally, I'm just relieved to be mostly done with my homework, so I'm not going to stress out about the carbs/calories I drank.  I certainly went over my target carb count (again), but I also was most likely still way under my target calorie count.

And on that note, I'm off to try and get a decent night's rest (this time, please no dreams of wandering around Kyoto...) so I can start off tomorrow on a better footing.  Lots to do, but I can manage it, and that's a big improvement!

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Personal Primal Challenge - Days 3 and 4

I was really good yesterday.  Actually Thursday I finished off the night with a small glass of wine to help me sleep (tried chamomile tea first and was still practically vibrating), but that's not that bad.  Yesterday I had some fruit for breakfast, lunch was a salad with bacon and chia and sesame seeds.  My new dressing was good! I'm rather pleased with how it turned out! Dinner was really super thin pork chops (at least that's what Emily said they were, and I'll take her word for it because the only part of a pig that I usually eat is bacon) and a baked veggie medley that had acorn squash, carrots, onions, parsnips, and apparently a potato (? I did not see this go in there!) in mustard with salt, pepper, fennel seeds, and lord knows what else coated in coconut oil.  It was delicious!  Emily did most of the cooking while I was studying, hence why I'm not 100% sure what all the spices were.  Other than a bottle of Newcastle in the evening and probably too many bananas, I call yesterday a rather healthy day!

I also worked out at the gym for an hour.  The trainer showed me the machines, but I'm not sure how much I'll use most of them.  They bug my elbows more than the free weights do, and they're really just awkward to use.  But good to know anyway.

Today... well today started off with a banana and iced tea and then quickly devolved into pizza, couch flopping, and The Sword in the Stone.  I woke up super late because I didn't go to bed until sometime around 4AM and even then I just couldn't fall asleep.  Woke up feeling like someone was stabbing just above my left ear and, lo, my lips were white again.... I really try not to sleep on my back, but it's the only comfortable way to sleep sometimes.  I wonder how all of this is related - my total inability to fall asleep, discomfort in my whole body when I lay down, pain in my lower back when I sit, not sleeping well, waking up with a headache and white lips...  That more than the others because that's actually dangerous.

Apparently tonight is party night in my building.  I hate apartments.  I can hear the bass from people two floors above me.  Oh the times I wish I was an intimidating looking, large male instead of a small wimpy looking female.  I could ramble about how I don't understand what's wrong with people (seriously, how do you even tolerate bass that loud in a small room??) but it would be pointless, and I'm already well into procrastinating on my homework.  I wish the library was open this late, I'd just go there and be blissfully away from the noise.  I miss being out in the middle of nowhere.  Ironically, it was quieter in Tokyo at night.  *sigh*

So we'll give this another go tomorrow, and hopefully tomorrow will be a more productive day all around.  I might try to get to the library for a while if only to be in a place where I can focus more.  Though it is nice to have a dog or cat curled up on my lap while I'm studying. ^__^

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Personal Primal Challenge - Day 2  I don't know if it's my allergies (cat dander) or if I'm fighting my annual winter cold. I wouldn't be surprised by either.  I really need a vacuum and to move my bed away from the curtains... which requires rearranging my entire room (which is not happening today).  Good news is I found room darkening/insulating curtains for $20 on clearance.  I need to hem them (by about two feet or so), but I'm not going to argue with the price for those.  Sadly, that won't help with the cat hair.

I got probably seven hours of sleep last night, but none of it was restful.  I missed the lecture I wanted to go to this afternoon, but I managed to study for my exam, which went horribly, by the way.  And that's not the perfectionist in me.  The professor really wasn't joking when she told us last week to memorize the sentences from the book (all of them.... a week before the exam... -_-).  Here's hoping for a curve?  Major headache from taking that test, but at least it's over and I can focus on getting homework done instead of blindly trying to memorize contradicting information from multiple books, notes, and lectures. @__@  Working on stress management, after dinner tonight I played Kingdom Rush for about an hour.  Didn't beat anything - I'm on the last three levels trying to beat challenges - but it was definitely relaxing.  I want to stuff my face with pizza and break into my Guinness, to be completely honest, but I was good today.

Breakfast was veggies thrown in with ground beef again; carrots, kale, onion, green pepper, nappa... probably something else that I can't remember as well.  Then Emily and I sat by the dehydrator and ate the freshly dried pineapple... it was good.... and there is none left.  Honestly, it was better than raw pineapple.

I guess technically I didn't eat lunch because I got up so late... I had a snack of dried apples at school though, then hamburger covered with picante sauce, bacon, fried onions, and a salad with iced tea for dinner.

It was pretty good!  I found cheaper bacon at Trader Joes - uncured and "all natural."  It's not as good as the Applewood smoked stuff that I like, but it's about $3 cheaper so.... I snatched it.  It's still pretty good.  A little thin for my taste, but again, cheaper.  Those are sesame seeds on top of the hamburger, and I put some dried seaweed on the salad for the yum factor.  Also, I ran out of my dressing, so I decided after dinner that today was as good a day as any to make some dressing.  I bought the bottle with my birthday money (it was, I think, about a dollar...) a couple weeks ago and have been meaning to make my own dressing ever since.

It's balsamic vinegar and olive oil with minced garlic, dried onion, pepper, salt, paprika, a squeeze of honey, and two lemons worth of lemon juice.  It's a bit oily for my taste.  I read to use 1/4 cup of vinegar to 3/4 cup of oil... but I think 1/3 to 2/3 would have been better... hence the lemon juice which made it overflow so I have no idea how much of the spices I lost.  I'm not worried though.  If it's totally gross, we have two giant bottles of olive oil and apparently two more bottles of balsamic vinegar floating around our kitchen.  Though maybe next time I'll try making 1/2 cup total instead of a cup.  I'd actually like to get another bottle and try some other dressings too.  I've seen a ton of recipes that look really good, and really I should eat more salad, but I'm usually too lazy to make one.  I don't know why, it's not that hard, but meh.  They're great as long as I have an entree to go with them, otherwise they're just not enough for the effort they take.

I'm not going to the gym today, but I did walk probably just under two miles to and from my car downtown.  Considering my limbs were shaking earlier and I am running a tiny bit of a fever, I'm not pushing anything today.  I do hope I feel better tomorrow though, cause I have an appointment with the personal trainer at 9 AM.  (Then it's a boat load of homework and massive rearranging of the living room as we're apparently getting more furniture in the afternoon...)

I'm proud of myself today though.  Here's to hoping whatever bug I have is short lived.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Personal Primal Challenge Day 1

So, I did really well over the summer, eating healthy, being outside all day every day, staying active, getting enough sleep, mostly controlling my stress... (mostly).  After a month an a half of grad school, none of this is the case anymore.  I'm too exhausted to bother with cooking; when people offer me free food, I'm too broke to say "Oh, no, I'm trying not to eat bread/rice/sugar/whatever,"; I sit basically all day every day, unless I'm pacing, taking the dog out to pee; my sleep schedule is all over the place, and when I do sleep it's not restful and I wake up feeling awful.  And what is this stress control?

It's time for a reboot.

Starting over.

Actually the timing is rather horrible since I have a midterm, uh, tomorrow, but I feel like crap and if I don't start doing something now, I'll just keep feeling like crap, a state of being that I don't particularly enjoy... at all.

My goals for this month:
- Some activity of some kind for at least an hour every day
- No more headaches!!!
- Normalized sleep schedule/pattern (as much as this is possible)
- No more spinal cracking whenever I shift or take a deep breath
- No more back pain
- Stress under control
- Losing a few more pounds and fitting into more of my clothes would be a nice bonus
- Also, being able to do 1 or 2 pull-ups would be freaking awesome

So, along those lines, this blog is going to be mostly devoted to me getting healthy for the next four weeks.  Strict Paleo, and no more cheating with rice cause it's easy.  I have lettus in the fridge that's just as easy to cut into a salad - no more easy cheats.  I made a giant pitcher of iced tea and cut up a ton of fruit that's currently being dehydrated for snacks.  Now I just need to figure out easier ways to do meals during the week.  My roommate and I went to Planet Fitness and got memberships today (and worked out).  It's right down the road, and now when I want to go for a walk at 10PM I don't have the "it's dark out" excuse cause it's a 24 hour gym.  I also signed up for one of the personal training meetings to have someone show me around more, and today the trainer showed me how to use the assisted pull-up machine.  My goal for that is to drop the assist weight every time or so until I can do them on my own.

Today my cheat was a glass of cranberry juice when I woke up (cause I felt like crap and was sulking about having to be conscious).

For breakfast I had ground beef with sautéed carrots and onion and iced tea.  We ran out of ground beef, so it wasn't a big serving.  Lunch was leftovers, ground beef with stir-fried yams, onion, carrots, kale, and mushrooms.  I also snacked on some of the fruit as we were cutting it up, a couple pieces of pineapple and kiwi.  For dinner, Emily made sausage and kale soup with, obviously, sausage and kale, onion, yellow squash, and white potato.  Dessert is a couple pieces of dried apple (we're out until the ones in the dehydrator finish) and pumpkin spice chai (no cream, it doesn't need it.. seriously it's amazing).

All in all, even including the glass of cranberry juice this morning, I didn't do at all bad.  And I got to the gym, finally.  I've been "planning to" for about two weeks now.  Now I can just go.  I've felt groggy and like crap all day though.  My back still hurts, and I'm still a little headachy and sleepy.  I even took a nap this afternoon (and had a really messed up dream with zombies, panthers, and election campaigns...), but I still just want to go to bed.  Can't though, need to study.  Exam that I'm not ready for tomorrow, so I at least need to devote the next few hours to that.  I want to go to bed at a decent hour tonight though (and wake up at a decent hour tomorrow).  Hopefully the idiots upstairs don't wake me up at 4AM again.

On that note, I'd better get to studying.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Quick Primal Meal - Bacon, Fried Veggies, and Cheese

Okay, the cheese is cheating a little bit, but not bad considering I'm lactose tolerant and it's good cheese.

So I was doing what I often do when left to my own devices for food (and my mother will remember this one) which is squatting in front of the fridge with the door wide open and staring at the shelves when I realized I have bacon!! I love bacon.  Funny thing, and I'll get to this in a second, a few months ago this meal would have had me ready to vomit (and yet I still love bacon!).

I've been eating a lot of bacon since I started eating Primal, partly to interrupt the ground beef, partly because it's just yummy, and partly because I can't eat an omelet for breakfast.  When I went to the store the first time on my hunt for bacon, I spent a good fifteen minutes checking ingredients.  Meijer has a lot of bacon.  The one I settled on was Wright Brand, originally I bought the Hickory Smoked, now I'm more a fan of the Applewood, and they have nice thick cuts.  All personal preference, really.  But let's look at what's in it, or rather what's it's cured with because really the only thing in it should be pork.  Water, salt, sugar, sodium phosphate, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite.  All but a couple of other brands that were more expensive had several more chemical ingredientes in the cure that 1) I didn't understand and 2) ironically now I can't find them online to reference them because they "ingredient" in bacon is always, well, bacon.  For the one I bought I wasn't big on the sugar, but then I looked at the nutrition facts.

In two slices there are no sugars, no carbs, 5 grams of protein, and 90 calories.  So I'm wondering how much what it's cured in actually effects the meat content... and I honestly have no idea.  So I looked it up.  Salt has been used to preserve meats for, well, forever basically.  Sugar is apparently added to counter the salt's saltiness, and the other chemicals are found in salt (are we surprised?).  This was an interesting article talking about nitrites, nitrates, and the curing process.  The long and short of it is that the ingredients used to cure bacon are basically safe.  They're in the vegetables we eat, and in moderate amounts they don't do anything harmful.  Here's another article if you have access to JSTOR that has more detail.  Of course, Mark Sisson has also done a post regarding bacon.  Long and short, bacon = good.

So, back to my story.  I wanted bacon, so I took two slices, cut them in half, and stuck them in a fry pan.  As they were frying I had the thought that I should put something green in with it, and lo and behold, my roommate left a half chopped up green pepper and an onion wedge in a baggie, so I cut up a few slices of pepper, sliced the onion wedge up, and threw them in.  I got a plate and pushed the junk off the table so I could eat and saw a bag full of fresh tomatos... so I sliced one up and threw it in too.  By this time the bacon was done.  Of course I had to season the tomato, so enter a little bit of sea salt, paprika, and a few red pepper flakes.  Then I thought of cheese, because I love cheese, and we haven't had it in my apartment for over a week.  While getting the cheese I saw the fresh salad greens and picked out bits of baby spinach and threw them in the fry pan.  By the time I'd cut up the cheese slices, the veggies were done.  Poured a glass of water, and voila, meal done.

I have to say I'm getting pretty good at throwing together random foods that I find on the table or in the fridge.  Emily is better because she knows what spices to use to make them just perfect, but I'm getting there.

Nutrient breakdown:
Two slices of bacon
Calories: 90
Carbs: 0
Protein: 5

Baby spinach (1/2 cup ish?)
Calories: 5
Carbs: less than 1

Onion (small wedge)
Calories: 8
Carbs: 4
Protein: less than 1

Green Pepper (a few small slices)
Calories: 4
Carbs: less than 1

Tomato (a whole one)
Calories: 16
Carbs: 4
Protein: 1

Natural Sharp-Cheddar Cheese
1 inch (ish, actually a little smaller) wedge
Calories: 110
Carbs: 0
Protein: 6

Calories: 233
Carbs: 9
Protein: 13

Not bad in my book, though I could have done better on the protein... by adding another slice of bacon, of course, but the price of a pack of bacon just went from $5 to $7, so I'm being a bit more conservative with it.  Plus, really, I'm not at all hungry.  I'm not stuffed, I don't feel uncomfortable, if I wanted to I could go run around outside and I'd probably feel just fine (this assuming from experience of having run around outside like an idiot after eating a meal quite similar), but I'm not hungry.

What amazes me the most with this meal is that I don't feel nauseous.  Ever since I was in high school my gallbladder has been trying to kill me.  Anything I ate made me feel sick, to the point where I didn't realize my egg allergy was as bad as it was because I could eat a piece of dry toast and want to throw up.  Of course my family has a history of gallbladders going bad (it's that organ that pumps out digestive enzymes after you've eaten, on the right side of your abdomen), so it was pretty easy for the doctor to pinpoint what was wrong.  The tests came out that it was only functioning at (my memory might be off a little with the second number) around 36%, which was what was causing me pain after eating and making me nauseous.  Yeah, that test sucked, and the worst part was the only "fix" available, other than getting it removed, meant eating bland, non-leafy, non-green foods until it decided to settle down. I like spicy stuff!!  And greasy stuff.... and sour stuff, and leafy stuff!  I've spent most of my adult life being nauseous after meals, needless to say.  You get used to it.  This meal wasn't overly spicy, at least to my tastes (I could barely notice the paprika or red pepper, but it wasn't bland, so I imagine someone not used to eating Korean spices and curry might notice it), but it was certainly greasy.  The veggies were fried in the grease from the two slices of bacon, and cheese is just greasy because it's cheese.  Not to mention, I never was able to eat onion or pepper.  I'm eating it all the time now!  If I eat a lot of it, yeah, my gallbladder gets unhappy, but that I can eat it at all, and that I can eat a veggie plate that's basically onion and pepper with a few other veggies thrown in just amazes me.

And hey, headache free today!  I like that best of all (and I even cheated and had a Pepsi Throwback... I know, that was really cheating....). 

I hope that gives some of my readers ideas for easy/lazy meals.  I know how frustrating and, frankly, exhausting it can be to be hungry and staring at a fridge full of food with no idea how to put it all together so it tastes good.  I can only eat so many salads before I get bored, plus, I'm always low on the protein side of things, and by the time you get a salad together with meat, well that's just entirely too involved for me most days.  This probably took all of 5 minutes, definitely no more than 10.

And now it's time for a walk with the pooch before it gets dark.  Until next time. 

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Things you realize...

1) It doesn't matter how many times you move, it's still chaos.

I've lost count of how many times I've moved in my life, but since I was 18 I've moved twelve times.  Twelve in less than a decade.  So let's dismiss those moves that were to and from dorms and just go with the ones where I relocated my life, and you still get nine.  I'm working on not leaving my stuff in boxes and letting myself sprawl a little, but it's slow going.

2) Japanese Studies is a very small field.

Which means I probably should't remark on people wearing period clothing (period as in 19th century Japanese...) to class.... so I will keep my comments on that off the internet....  I was less surprised when it happened while I was studying in Japan, let's just say that.

3) 37% of my income goes to taxes.

This is depressing when you look at actual numbers... also gives me even less incentive to go to a job that I hate and makes me stress till I'm sick for a grand total of $6/hour.  Seriously, 37% and I'm in the lowest income bracket.   I'll save my thoughts on that for a later date.  I'm too annoyed and tired to contemplate economics.  I didn't get the job at Toyota, which is sad but not surprising.  The recruiter apologized for wasting my time since they wanted a full + overtime worker and I made it clear that I can't do overtime while I'm in school.  Back to the hunt then.

4) Sitting is painful.

Over the summer I was outside and on my feet 8-10 hours a day, every day, even on my days off.  Now I'm not.  I'd study outside, but I'm worried about flees.... they're a problem here, because somebody a couple hundred years ago thought it was a brilliant idea to settle in a giant swamp.  Why they decided this area was habitable, when the indigenous people who'd lived in the region for close on a millenium didn't bother with it (unless they were hiding from the stupid people who later decided it was a good place to live), is completely beyond me.  But we're talking the same people who decided it was a good idea to build a city in a valley next to a huge river that moves.  Europe did not send their best and brightest to colonize North America.  But I digress.  The weather is beautiful, and I need to get moving more.

5) I freaking love autumn!

I did say the weather is beautiful, yes?  It's amazing.  Sadly my coats are at my grandparents' house over an hour away, so I'm a little chilled when I go outside in the evenings, but mostly a hoodie has been sufficient to keep me warm.  Loki and I had a great walk today, and tomorrow I plan to find a park or somewhere to talk him and walk some more.  There are three girls who always play in the courtyard of my apartment - I know them because they love Loki and whenever I take him out they tag along until I have to shoo them away so he can poop in peace.  Anyway, they look like they have so much fun playing out there, running around on the grass.  It's a bit sad we don't have more trees on this side of the complex or I'm sure they'd make an awesome leaf pile.  They seem the type.

6) I miss community.

And it's nice to be a small part of one again.  Now to get a decent job so I can be a productive member of my community. :)

Monday, 27 August 2012

Just Keep Swimming

Trying to stay positive.  The apartment is good, it's close to school, close to schools to work at, close to life-things like Meijer and gas stations, a bit close to the ghetto, but my complex has a lot of families and seems decent, amazing even, considering the area.  I'm just not a fan of not landing on my feet.  It's hard to think of myself as a student when I'm turning 27 in under a month, but that's what I am when it comes down to it.  I feel like I'm expected to be better off, and I want to be better off, at least have some breathing room, but only time will tell if the financial situation is going to clear up.  I've got my name in at a few companies, waiting for my substitute teaching company to process my paperwork (again, and they're taking way too long at it), but I've never been good at the waiting game, especially when I know that what I've already laid out just isn't going to be enough, and there's not a damn thing I can do about it at this point.  Not a fan of not being in control.  And one of the part time jobs I was counting on fell through for this semester.  I need to fly to Raleigh to get finger printed (seriously, Michigan uses computers to finger print, just accept the freaking file I paid $90 for last year!) and fill out paperwork and prove I'm me (I understand this better than state institutions obstinately not cooperating with each other), then I have to wait two to three weeks for my prints to process (of course) and the cheapest flight I've found is over $300.... which is how much it will cost me to buy a bed, and I still need new tires for my car... so it's not happening, at least not any time soon.  I'm bummed, because I was really looking forward to the job.  Of course, it means I won't be working 50 hours a week now, but still.  I hate the system in which you have to have money to get a job.  It seems like anything above minimum wage jobs requires some kind of investment, either clothes for an office, money for finger printing, plane tickets for an interview, or some kind of permit.  Just saying, the system is messed up.  But I've already invested in office attire, so hopefully I can get an office job nearby so the $3.95/gallon gas price doesn't take half of my pay like it did last year.

I have all the spices to make curry... I don't have my cooking knife... GRR!! I want something yummy for dinner.  At least the veggies for soup curry are super cheap.  Might be able to clean and use my pocket knife.  Necessity is the mother of invention.  I'm tired of sitting in this library.  Food will be had!

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

24 Days and Counting

I'm a mixture of excited, depressed, stressed, and frustrated.  Fortunately that's not all in even proportions.  Actually it depends on the moment and what's going on.  I'm thrilled Emily found us an apartment.  I'm excited to be going to U-M in September.  I'm sad things aren't working out how I'd hoped.  I'm bummed this summer turned out how it did.  I'll miss the park and Al and John and Christie, cause all three of them are just awesome.  I won't miss the angry visitors or having to pretend I really care what people are saying to me when there are fifty things going on at once.  I'll be hours closer to Matt and close enough to visit my family for special occasions.  The money and logistics are incredibly stressful and frustrating, and coupled with the stress at work and home I've had a nasty tension headache-becoming-a-migraine for the last few days.  I've been tracking my symptoms through the PTSD Coach app, and they've been steadily going down most of the summer... until last week.  They shot back up again, not near where they were in the spring when I was feeling non-existant earthquakes, but none of that helps.  I can't really figure why the rage and the fear are back, unless it's because of the move again.  As long as I don't start getting flashbacks again, I suppose I'm okay, right? Heh.  Minds are complicated.

So, I'm three more books down. 月の影 影の海(上), The Giver, and Fahrenheit 451 putting me at 15/24.   月の影 影の海(上)is only part one of a two-part book, so I'll hold off on reviewing that.  The Giver was good, but one of those I imagine would have had a bigger impact when I was a kid.  It's by Lois Lowry, the same woman who wrote Number the Stars, which I loved as a kid.  It's a children's dystopia story from the point of view of a twelve year old.  It's a lot like 1984 in many ways, and a bit like Brave New World in other ways, and basically a dystopia-lite for children.  It kept me reading though (I finished it in about two hours), and I can see it making children think, which is good.  I didn't really get the ending or what it was supposed to mean, though, not going to lie.  If I think of it as a kids' book, I can accept a childish and happy ending that plays on the "magic" of the Giver /Receiver's abilities... but it seemed a bit of a cop-out.  I can see the ending having annoyed me as a kid.  It certainly got a raised eyebrow from me as an adult.  

Fahrenheit 451 has been on my reading list for years, and I'm glad I finally got to read it.  Ray Bradbury's writing style was a bit confusing sometimes.  The dialogues just skipped around a lot, but I liked the concept.  I still think it's freaky that the 1950s dystopia books were so... not really close in actuality, but spot on in concept.  The ideas like removing words losing their meaning thereby concepts like freedom ceasing to exist, masses of people living and working like drones in a society they don't really bother to understand, following wherever the media and pop-culture guides them... We're certainly far from Equilibrium-style control of the government over daily life and thought, but take the numb funk of complete ambivalence that anti-depressants/anti-anxiety meds cause and then figure in the percentage of Americans on one or the other, then look at the inane media we're constantly bombarded with (commercials, TV shows - is there even anything showing these days that's not pointless?, movies that barely have a plot or are just more remakes of old movies with barely any plot).  Stand in the middle of a busy pedestrian intersection or in a mall and just watch the people, listen to their conversations.  It's not the dull babble that Bradbury foresees, at least not 100% of the time, but if it's not meaningless words forming sentences that don't actually contribute to anything, it's word-for-word from a news program, some celebrity's current crusade, or a current events blog with what feels like no original thought inserted whatsoever.  I wouldn't think we'd ever go so far as to burn all books or raise a regime that controls people through medications and fear.... but we heavily censor books for school children, 10% of Americans are on some kind of antidepressant, 25% are on sleep medications, and while you aren't likely to get physically attacked for having a dissenting opinion, don't you dare oppose gun-control laws in the presence of a Jim Carrey fan or ask a Jezebel reader why we're so worried about who calls birth control whore-pills when the economy is in the tank and we still have American boots on foreign soil and our soldiers are dying.  That's not to say supporters of tighter gun-control or women concerned about their reproductive rights (my stance: my body, don't try to legislate it) don't have valid opinions, but you're unlikely to get an intelligent discussion or debate and you're very likely to lose a friend over it, which is just sad.  Dissension and debate are important.  I wonder if they started to die off in the 1950s and that's why the dystopia books started getting written.  I'm sure there are dissertations written on the subject - I'm just wondering to myself.  Maybe I'll look it up at some point, see what people have to say.

So that's that and this is long.  I'm going to have to decide which book to read next!  I'm loving having the time to read though.  Still need to finish that Lyndon Johnson biography too... If all the world's books burned.... I would go stark raving mad with boredom!  And then I'd just have to write my crappy stories more to amuse myself.

Friday, 27 July 2012

In with the good, out with the bad

I'm focusing on the positive today - I lost eleven pounds!!!  Nineteen more to my goal, and bodies are awesome! Cold or not, I'm totally wearing my mini skirts every chance I get this winter.  I miss them!  And the shorts I bought myself two weeks ago to go to the beach?  Yeah, they don't really fit anymore.  I'm not complaining.

I can't say this month has been anything near easy, but at least food and my weight are two things I haven't had to worry about.  Literally all I'm doing is not eating grains or refined sugar.  I fry half of my meals (in sesame oil or bacon grease) and am hardly ever actually hungry.  I munch on berries or nuts (that I baked in coconut oil, cashew butter, and raw honey) throughout the day, eat a couple of good meals with red meat when I have it, and I'm not exercising a fraction of what I used to.  I'm on my feet at work all day, and honestly that's about it.  Once a week I've been biking a couple miles into town or going to the beach or running laps around the house outside with Loki instead of every two days busting my butt at the gym and with dumbbells on every other day.  (*Note* This is me still being surprised at the flaws of conventional wisdom here.  I'll get over it eventually.)  I got a migraine yesterday, but aside from the times I've cheated on my food and eaten stuff I shouldn't have, it's the first headache I've had since I started this a month ago.  I 100% blame current stress and nasty people at work.  Day two is coming on with tension in my neck... I'll be taking a Magnesium and migraine pill shortly, which will be the first of either I've taken in, oh let's count it, about a month.

Moving on from that (I'm seriously excited to bursting about the scale - first time it's dropped below 145 since last fall!), I've finished two more books which puts me at 12/24.  A Feast for Crows, which may be the last of the Song of Ice and Fire books that I read as it was a complete drag to get through, and The Way of Shadows, book 1 of the Night Angels trilogy.  Yeah, I read that in under two days.  Holy crap was it good.  Assassins and magic and intrigue and everything modern fantasy wants and usually drops the ball on mixing well.  The ending was kinda stupid and cliche, but there are two more books (currently on order at Books-A-Million) so I'll hold off on final judgement.  My coworkers have discovered my love of reading, and now that I'm in the middle of reading 月の影 影の海, which I've had on my re-read list for about three years (didn't understand most of it the first time around) and is two books long, I now also have a copy of The Giver and Fahrenheit 451 that I have to get through in the next month before I move again.  My boss also has a historical fiction about King Harold (last Anglo-Saxon king of England) that he wants to lend me.  I wish I had more time!!

It's good to be reading in Japanese again though.  I've been avoiding it aside from the translating I've been doing here and there.  The good news is, though, I haven't really forgotten much.  Even some of the level 1 kanji that I crammed for the N1 test three years ago and never used since are still in there apparently.  Lots of memories coming back though, which is good but sad.  It makes me miss my friends, but I would do it all over again, even knowing what I do now.  I really should get on studying again though.  I'm not taking remedial Japanese at U-M because I tested poorly.  Not that I'm overly worried.  I'll easily test out of the required courses, but the biggest reason I want to study there is to take their medieval Japanese.  And then there's the part of me that grudgingly knows I should have studied just a little harder for N1 and gotten that .5% better so I would just have that stupid certificate already.  I doubt if it'll happen this year... but we'll see how busy I am with work.  It'll be a good reason to go visit Matt in Chicago anyway... not that I really need one.

Apartment has also been found and applied for.  This is super exciting news, and my tentative move day is around the 25th of August.  I'll be sad to leave my coworkers though, they're freaking awesome people.  Lame sounding as it is, I have to get their addresses before I go so I can mail them Christmas presents if nothing else.  Speaking of presents, I need to make more of my bead guys.  I haven't had the space to do any crafts really this summer.  I'm so excited to have my own apartment again!!

So that's the gist of the good.  I may go make some coffee and try out the coconut milk I bought to help this headache.  And I need to find my migraine medicine.  Then I think I'll go play with Loki outside for a bit before work if it eases up a bit.  It might rain again today, which is good.  I know this area of the country has been really lucky with rain about twice a month.  It's Friday, which means work will be pretty busy this evening even if it does rain... which is good.  It can get boring in the evenings.

I can't believe it's almost August!