Musing Aloud

Pam's thoughts on writing and life

Tor.com Book Club
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musingaloud
Did you know that Tor.com gives away a free ebook each month?  All you need to do is sign up for their newsletter (and they don't send these out but once or twice a month, so it's not annoying!  ;-D).  Then, at the first of each month, they'll send out a newsletter with the link.  The ebook is only available for a week, so you have to act on it pretty quickly.  This month is The Bloodline Feud by Charles Stross.  I think it's really awesome that they do this. You can download the ebook either in .mobi (kindle) format, or as an .epub.  I have a kindle, so it's reallly easy to download the file, then send it on to my kindle. I've picked up a lot of really good books this way.  Now to find the time to read them.  ;-D

Anyway, here's the link, should you wish to take advantage of the offer.

Tor.com
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catfish
musingaloud
Returned 2 days ago from a Disneyland trip with the grandboys.  We had fun!  Weather was pretty cold the first day but got better as the days went on.  Grandboy #2 got to ride Indiana Jones for the 1st time (he's a short guy and there's a height requirement) and he liked it--after almost not going because he was scared.  He also rode the Matterhorn once, but wouldn't go on it again because the Yeti was "too realistic."  ;-D  Matterhoen doesn't have seat sharing anymore, so he sat in front of me and I told him I'd hold onto his shoulders, but once we were seated, he wanted to hold my hands, so I rode with my arms around the shoulder/head bumper bars, and now I have bruises on both forearms.  But it was worth it.

On our last trip to Disneyland in September, I was still not doing well with my illness. I remember getting so tired in the afternoons I was just done.  I also remember getting up in the mornings and hardly able to take a step because my muscles were so sore and tight.  What a difference this trip!  I didn't get more tired than usual, my legs and feet didn't get sore.  I did pretty well finding food to eat, although by the time we left, I was heartily sick of salads.  I took hard boiled eggs and avocados for breakfast and a lot of grass-fed beef sticks and bananas.

All in all a successful trip.  But it's nice to be home.    

Hidden Figures
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musingaloud
You guys.  This movie.  If you haven't seen it yet, go see it right now.  It serves as a reminder of how people can let stupidity overrule their conscience and hearts.  It's a reminder of how far we've come.  It's  reminder that no one should ever be put into a box and forced to settle for the status quo.  Especially if you're a woman under forty, go see this movie and try to understand how women were held down by society.  And then to add the color of their skin as a further strike against them is beyond words.

I'm so proud of those women and how they stood up for themsevles (and some of you may think they didn't stand up quite enough, but you have to understand the mindset from back then and how pigeonholed everything was).  I'm so proud of the book's author for uncovering this story and bringing it to the light. The actors were amazing.

I cried so many times during this movie.  I cried for the injustices and the humiliating experiences.  I cried with joy and pride when they made small in-roads against prejudice.  I cried for the men in power who realized the wrongness and tried as best they could to make amends and break rules.  I cried for their successes and how every little step carried women further along the road to equality.  Yes, there's still a long ways to go, but oh, the strides that have been made!

Best moments -- when the Director (played by Kevin Costner) goes to the segregated women's area and knocks down the "colored women's restroom" sign and then tells his crew that they "all pee the same color."  I wanted to cheer.

Ok, no more spoilers.  GO SEE THIS MOVIE!!!!!  And take your sons and daughters, so they can understand how stupid it is to base an assessment on someone's worth or intelligence by the color of their skin or their sex.  Empower your children and teach them that we must never go that way again.

Today I yoga'ed and felt better!
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Yoga-ing:The mornings have been rough lately.  My weight dropped again and I've been working *really* hard at trying to gain, but it's just not working. Mornings I feel depleted and when I do eat, it's like my body doesn't know what to do with the food.  I end up weepy and depressed.  And this is after yesterday, when I felt strong and like I was getting back on track.  NO FAIR!  Anywho, I ran to Costco this morning for a few things and got home just in time to make it to yoga.  But I also got home really tired like all I wanted to do was go lie doe. I was worried that going to yoga would only deplete me further and end up making me feel worse, plus worried I wouldn't be able to last through the class or make all the poses.  But go I did, and as often happens with yoga, I wa really glad I did once I got there.  Sometimes after the first 20 or 30 minutes of yoga, I'm hating it and watching the clock to see how much longer, but today was fine.  When we got to the more serious harder poses and flows, I was hanging in there.  Turns out it was just what i needed.  You can just never figure!

Journalling: I didn't look at my bullet journal much this last week.  That's how things go for me--I get all enthused and OCD about something and then next thing I know, I'm over it.  Although I'm not over the bullet journal yet--this last week, it was more that I felt like I knew everything I had down to do, so there was no need to actually open the journal to look at it!  Famous last mistake, right?I'm still liking it though, I just need to look at it every morning while I'm planning out my day.

The plan for dinner tonight -- salmon, fresh spinach and something else.  Maybe zucchini, maybe salad.  I broke rank today, too.  I just snuck in the pantry and had a handful of fritos.  I couldn't stand it.  We'll see how the gut reacts.  Steroids are tapering down to 1 per day for the next two weeks and then a week of just 1/2.  Then I'm done.  We'll see what happens after that.

Meatballs!
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musingaloud
Here's an easy meatball recipe.  These are one of my new go-to favorites.  Not only are they easy to make, they taste great and they're perfect for freezing.  I make them up, eat some one night, then throw the rest in a ziploc bag and put in the freezer for quick lunches/snacks.  It only takes a minute on the microwave defrost cycle and then 30 seconds on high to heat them up.

Make Ahead Meatballs (Paleo, Gluten Free, Whole 30)

servings 24 meatballs

Ingredients
2 pounds ground beef
1 pound ground pork
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 egg
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 Tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

Instructions
×          Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with foil, set aside.
×          Combine all ingredients until well mixed.  Shape mixture into equal sized balls, about 2 tablespoons each (I used an ice cream scoop for easy portioning).  When shaping balls, don't pack them too tightly or they may become tough.
×          Arrange on the lined baking sheets, about 12 per sheet.  Bake in oven for about 20 minutes, or until cooked through.
×          Can serve right away or freeze for later. Allow to cool completely before freezing. After cooling, separate into desired portions and seal in freezer bags or food saver bags and freeze.

Note: If you don't care for the taste of oregano, they still taste good without it.  I don't use the red pepper flakes, either.



Recipe courtesy of Fox and Briar

Coconut Cranberry Bites
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musingaloud
I tried the Coconut-Cranberry Bites.  They're pretty good.  I've never been a big fan of coconut, but it's growing on me (at least I don't HATE it like I used to!) ;-D  

Vanilla Cranberry Energy Bites (Gluten Free, Nut Free, AIP)
Makes 12 balls


Ingredients
1 3/4 cups unsweetened shredded coconut2 1/2 teaspoons melted coconut oil
2 1/2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup (Add more   if needed to hold the shape)
2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
4 Tbsp dried cranberries

Directions
1. Place 1 cup of shredded coconut in a food processor along with the coconut oil. Process on high speed, scraping down the sides periodically, until it reaches a paste-like consistency. (It does not have to be completely smooth like butter; some coconut texture is good.)
2. Add the honey, coconut milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and and salt and process until well combined. Add 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of shredded coconut and pulse until just combined. Then add 4 tbsp dried cranberries and pulse until combined.
3. Shape the mixture into 12 (1-inch) balls and coat with the remaining shredded coconut. Refrigerate for at least an hour and up to 5 days. Bring to room temperature before eating.

Note: I didn't add any honey or sugar, because my coconut milk was sweetened.

 Recipe courtesy of Living Naturally Autoimmune

Eye tic!
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musingaloud
Ugh! Woke this morning with a jumping nerve in one eye.  Not as bad as I've had them before as far as frequency of the tic, but stronger in intensity, so that when it does happen, it feels like it's pulling my eye downward at the inner corner and I lose focus out of that eye.  Annoying!  Thank goodness it only happens maybe once a hour or half hour, not constantly shivering and jumping like others I've had.  I wonder what causes these stupid things.  Must be some kind of muscle tension/cramp/strain because if I squint or strain to see something, it can set it off.

Watched "Into the Forest" on dvd last night.  I'd read the book and enjoyed it.  It's a quiet sort of movie, like the book was, so I don't know if someone who hadn't read the book would enjoy the movie as much?  The movie was very close to the book and the acting was really good, so it was nice to see the story brought to visual life.

I'm at a point of really craving carbs and sweets.  In fact, I've cheated yesterday and today by eating 1/3 of a gluten free sconce each day.  I spent an hour or so on Pinterest yesterday afternoon looking at AIP friendly treats and can't wait to try some later on today.  Most are no-bake truffly types of goodies.  The one I want to try first is a coconut cranberry.  Most use coconut oil, milk, coconut and no sugar.  Will post the recipe if it turns out.  

Cast Iron Pans
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musingaloud
I've got a new obsession -- cast iron pans, especially frying pans.  Two reasons --

#1 is the cleanability of cast iron.  So easy!  After frying, put in a little hot water, heat on the burner to loosen any bits, scrape them up, pour them out.  Then dry the pan on the burner.  No soap, no scrubbing.

#2 is for the iron content and the environmental safety.  I tend to run anemic, so getting more iron in my body is a good thing for me. And then there's all the concerns about the leaching of aluminum and teflon in the new cookware.

The problem with using cast iron (or so most people think) is it sticking.  But in my research, I've found the main difference in pans that stick and don't stick is the pan's age.  The really old pans were made with a smooth surface, while the newer pans have a more pebbled thicker surfacer, and these newer ones are the ones that tend to stick, even with proper seasoning and conditioning.  So now I'm on the hunt at flea markets and thrift shops and yard sales for more cast iron.

I found an old pan that I think was my mom's in my cupboard (I'd forgot it was there!)  It had only a bit of rust in it, so was fairly easy to clean and then season in the oven, so I reconditioned it, fried an egg in it, and it did not stick at all!   I've found two really helpful blogs.  The first link has one article and the method of seasoning is a bit different from the other.  I think it might depend on the age of the pan which one you use.  The second link has several different articles on cleaning, re-conditioning and reseasoning.  Both come with handy-dandy pictures to show the process and the finished pans.  I honestly don't think you can go wrong with either method.  I used the hotter oven temp on my old pan and it turned out great.

I Believe I Can Fry

Black Iron Dude
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musingaloud
So far, this week, I have done ALL the things.  Pretty sure.  Prednisone really is a wonder drug. If only it didn't have tons of side effects.  ;-D

Mainly, I've been cooking.  And cooking some more.  That's the hard thing with a Paleo or Whole 30 or AIP plan.  No -- and I do mean NO processed food.  No mixes, no boxes, no fast food, no sandwiches, no cans.  No sweets.  So nothing is easy.  Luckily, I don't work outside the home, so I have the time to do it.  The advice is to batch cook and freeze.  Today I made turkey and pork meatballs, beef bone broth, and cut up a pineapple and a honeydew melon.  And I cooked bacon and eggs this morning and a chicken breast for lunch.

I'll probably start talking more about cooking or recipes, because that's where m life is right now.  I've previously made chicken bone broth on the stovetop, by slow simmering about 8 hours... and boy, did that turn out yummy!  I've tried making chicken broth before, but I guess didn't realize how long it needs to cook to develop that really rich, deep flavor.  Today I made the beef bone broth.  On the stovetop, that's supposed to take at least 24 hours.  Instead, I borrowed an Instant Pot (a programmable pressure cooker)from my friend.  The instructions I've seen said to cook it for 2 hours, and I thought, how can it make a tasty, rich broth in 2 hours when it's supposed to take at least 24?  But b'gosh, it did.  Pretty amazing.  I think my friend isn't happy with it (not really her thing, or too complicated?), so she might sell it to me.  Hopefully cheap.  I think it might be worth it, even though it takes a lot of room.  It's supposed to cook things really quick and yet makes them tender, I think.  Will look into it more.

In the meantime, here's a recipe for a salad that I thought was really tasty.

Kale and Carrot Salad (Paleo, AIP)
Serves: 6

Ingredients
1 head of curly kale, washed and thinly sliced
1 tsp EVOO
1.5 c carrots, julienned
½ avocado, chopped
¼ c red onion, thinly sliced
¼ c pitted Kalamata olives, chopped (optional)
3-5 tbsp. Carrot-Ginger Dressing

Instructions
1.      Wash and dry kale leaves. Roll and thinly slice leaves. Add to bowl and drizzle with EVOO. Massage oil into kale for 3-5 minutes.
2.      Add julienned carrots, diced avocado, and sliced red onion.
3.      Add a few tablespoons of the Carrot-Ginger Dressing. Toss to coat.
4.      Serve salad with extra dressing for drizzling.

Carrot-Ginger Dressing (AIP, Paleo)
Serves: 1 cup
Ingredients
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
¼ c EVOO
2 tbsp. coconut aminos
2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp. filtered water
1 tbsp. toasted sesame oil (omit if following elimination-phase AIP as this is a Stage 1 reintroduction)
1 tbsp. fresh ginger, minced
1 tsp honey
pinch of sea salt

Instructions
Place all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Chill until ready to serve.
Store in the refrigerator in a glass jar for up to a week.

Recipe courtesy of EatHealThrive

AIP (Auto Immune Protocol) Diet
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musingaloud
So. For those following along (and also, not sure how much I've disclosed), I've been battling a nasty case of UC (ulcerative colitis) for the past nine months.  And this follows a previous 3+ year span of battling diverticulitis, for which I had a bowel resection in Fall of 2014.  My gut and I are not friends at this point.  I can't get it under control, can't get a consistent well period.  Most days have some sort of issue.  Most of it isn't debilitating except in the long run.  When you don't feel well every single day, it wears on your psyche. Plus the gut is where a lot of the feel-good serotonin is manufactured, so when the gut isn't doing its job, it affects emotions. I'm on a third round of steroids, and the next step is the Big Boy agents, which I don't want to do because A) side effects, and B) cost.  But at this point, I've got to do something. I keep losing weight and I'm at the point of not having anything more to lose.

I've been following gluten-free diet since I was diagnosed, because I know people that have had great results with their UC by cutting out gluten.  But that hasn't done the trick.  So now I'm at the point of AIP, which is basically a Paleo diet, except even more severe. No grains at all.  Also no eggs, nightshade plants, dairy, gluten, and seeds.  So basically, meat and veggies and a few fruits.  Incorporating a low FODMAP diet with this means cutting out more of the veggies.  I focus on protein and veggies.  I haven't cut out eggs because they've turned into a comfort food for me and I don't think they bother me.  Cutting out my morning oatmeal was hard though.  I did have some rice the night before last and yesterday my stomach was acting up all day, so now I'm wondering if rice is a culprit.  I'll wait a week or so and try some again.  Hard to tell if it was still a reaction to the barium from my CT the other day, too.

Anywho. If you have any kind of autoimmune disorder, it's worth looking into, I think.  I've been pinning a ton of things on Pinterest (search AIP, Paleo, or Whole 30 for recipes and info).  Here's my AIP board.

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