Thursday, September 30, 2010

Doctor Results (the good and bad news)

First, the good news.
Cholesterol, liver, etc. look great.  No problem.

Now the plethora of bad news:
I'm low on Vitamin D (not a big deal)
low on iron from heavy bleeding (not a big deal, take iron supplements)
thyroid on the low side
testoterone too high
polycystic ovaries (not sure what that is just yet)
the worst case of insulin resistance he's seen; numbers off the chart, within 5 years he predicted I'd be diabetic if it weren't found (but it was so everything should be cool)

The good news is that this was caught before I got the diabetes.  He also remarked that he was surprised at how thin I was considering the severity of my insulin resistance.  He attributed it to my exercise habits, though they have been lacking lately.

He said that science says that insulin resistance can be traced to one Viking man who must have had a party and spread his seed all over the place.  (I have Scottish, English and Irish heritage)  He also mentioned that Native Americans have some of these problems.  I have quite a bit of Native American blood.  He also said that I would more than likely have to have my gall bladder removed at a later date.

For now, I am to take 3 over the counter medicines (Vitamin D, Iron, and 2 baby aspirin) and 4 prescriptions:
Yaz for the painful and moody cycles
Synthroid for my thyroid
Cytomel for my thyroid
Metformin for the insulin resistance

The doctor also recommended that I get The Insulin Resistance Diet book (found it at Barnes and Noble), never eat carbs alone (must have a protein with them), and do at least 15 minutes of aerobic activity every single day.  With all of this I should start to lose weight and have more energy and control the insulin problems.

I'm in a little bit of a daze right now trying to absorb everything he said.  He told me the numbers from the glucose test but I honestly can't remember them all right now.  They weren't very good. 

But the good news is that this can be controlled and it was caught before I developed diabetes.  I asked twice and he assured me that I don't have diabetes.  That's good!  No, that's great!!

I will start taking the medicines incrementally over a period of 4 weeks to let my body adjust.  It's a lot to absorb physically and mentally as well.  And I just went to see the doc because I had a growth on my cervix! LOL  I'm very happy that this was diagnosed.  Not happy that I have the issues but happy that they can be helped and that I found out before too late.  Ya know?

Of course there are some side effects. Jeez, really?  Explosive diarrhea and nausea?  Not cool.  I'm sure you'll be hearing about the merry adventures of the Super Insulin Resistant Woman throughout the weeks.  Aren't you lucky? :-)

Now I'm trying to get my head back in the game (did I mention I'm a little dazed by all of this?) and get ready for our trip tomorrow.

Have a wonderful weekend!!  I'm sure I'll have my head screwed back on straight by the time I get back.

Crunchy Baked Cod and Oven Fries

The past couple of days I have felt terrible. Therefore, the lack of post yesterday.  As a matter of fact, I slept in my car while the kids were at their art lesson yesterday.  I'm not sure if I'm dealing with allergies or a cold now.  Every one else in the house seems to be fine. Darn it!  Not that I want anyone else sick; I just want to be well too and enjoy this gorgeous weather we've been having.

Monday night Chuck picked up Pei Wei because I felt pretty bad and didn't feel like cooking.  Last night I had to cook because I had defrosted some cod and there was no way I was letting that go bad.  The grocery store had it on sale (I shop the sale ads and then make my menu for the next week).  I had initially intended to make something fancy but, feeling the way I do,  I changed my mind and prepared something that was fast.

The baked fish only takes 30 minutes to prepare from start to table.  A very quick weeknight dinner.
Fast & Crunchy Baked Cod and Oven Fries
The cod is topped with a mayo, herb, and Dijon mustard mixture.  Then Ritz cracker crumbs are sprinkled on top then baked for 15 minutes.  That's it!  Charlie was not happy about dinner (not fish!) until he tried it then he went back for seconds.  The kid actually cleaned his plate.  Rachel and Chuck liked it too.

The oven fries are not difficult to make but they do take a little babysitting and time.  There was not a single fry that was left though.

Printer ready recipe for Fast and Crunchy Baked Cod here.

Printer ready recipe for Oven Fries here.
Both come from America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook.


This weekend we are going to the in-laws' condo in Tyler.  The kids are really looking forward to it because the place has an indoor water park with big slides and a wave pool, etc.  Saturday night Chuck and I will be cooking dinner. I'm thinking tacos.  But this means I have a lot to get done before tomorrow so I probably won't be dropping in to say "hi" until I get back.

Oh! And I also have a doctor appointment this afternoon to discuss my blood test results.  They wouldn't discuss it over the phone with me.  Not sure what they means.  Perhaps they just want the extra money they get when I come in for an appointment?  Either way, I'll be sure to post the results.

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend.  I certainly plan to.  Chuck and I already have plans to go walking a lot by the lake and getting in some much needed exercise. Allergies be damned. :)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Fat Witch Brownies; Buttermilk Baked Chicken

Let me just start by saying that I am totally loving this fall weather we're getting.  It was actually cool outside!  I had grand plans of taking the whole family for a walk (LOL, sounds like I was going to walk them like dogs) but my allergies kicked in pretty early yesterday.  I was sneezing and hacking.  My eyes were puffy and I was going just a little crazy.  I felt worse and worse as the day progressed but if I took allergy medicine I would slip into a mini-coma.  That's not a bad thing except that I have kids at home and a dinner to cook.

I rallied my strength, used half a bottle of nose spray (ahhhh! it burns!), and whipped up a batch of brownies from my new Fat Witch Brownies cookbook.
Meh.
It may look dense in the picture but these brownies were more cake-like in texture than brownie.  I found reviews online and others had the same trouble.  The recipes are easy to follow and use simple ingredients but the original "Fat Witch Brownie" recipe in the book did not yield the best results.
Printer-ready recipe of Original Fat Witch Brownies here.

I will say that the house smelled wonderful while these guys were baking.  When I took the pan out of the oven the brownies were poofy but they did chillax while cooling and develop some cracks.  Not a big deal.  I even waited semi-patiently for them to cool completely.  They were just ok.  I've had much better.  Good flavor but not a good texture.  Bummer.  I guess it would make a good diet: make crappy food and you won't want to eat it. :)

Allergies still in full swing, I sneezed my way through making dinner: Buttermilk Baked Chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, and salad.  My heart was not into cooking but the family has to eat.
Chuck's Hungry-Man portion.

The chicken was easy to make: make a buttermilk, ranch, sour cream and salt brine. Place skinned chicken meat (I used a couple of breasts and a bunch of chicken legs I got on sale for $2) in brine to soak from 30 minutes to 1 hour.  Make some bread crumbs int he food processor then bake them until golden.  Roll chicken in crumbs then bake.  Very simple.

The chicken was super juicy.  Chuck raved about it and Charlie cleaned his plate.  I had 1 baked breast that must have come from the Dolly Parton of chickens.  The thing covered half my plate!  I ate a few bites and a couple of bites of potatoes and my salad and was done.  The allergies just had me feeling bleck.  But the food was really good. 

Issues:
The chicken was soggy in some places on the bottoms.  The tops were as crunchy as fried chicken.

I forgot to turn the oven down when I moved the chicken to the top rack so the tops got a little too browned in some spots.  It was fine though.

The recipe is really easy and a great week night dinner.  Thanks, Cook's Country magazine!
Printer-ready recipe for Crunchy Baked Buttermilk Chicken here.

The day ended with me taking a couple of pills and passing out.  Stupid allergies.

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Foodie Weekend

This weekend really flew by.  I guess it seemed to go by so quickly because I was busy every single day.  I got to do something called "functional fitness."  Worked in the yard, walked a lot by shopping several stores, moved a lot while cooking, planted some herbs and weeded the landscaping, cleaned the smoker (yuck!!!).  The backs of my legs are actually sore today from the yard work.  That's a good thing, right?

Let's just say I was a busy girl in the kitchen this weekend.  I also got to go shopping at World Market where I got some cool goodies:
The chocolate dipped ones are great!  The ginger ones are kind of hot.

Devil's Backbone is a ridge in Texas.  Beautiful area.  And yummy beer!

This is nasty!  I had to throw it away and then rinse my mouth.  It's hard to throw away chocolate even when it's nasty.

Cook's Illustrated recommended this as their top pick.  It comes in a tube so you can use what you need and refrigerate the rest.

With a name like that I had to get it.
I also got a camera shy 9x9 pan, a microplane zester (love it!) and a silicone basting brush for the grill that was on sale for $.97!

The zester is great for zesting (obviously), grating ginger and chocolate.  Bed, Bath & Beyond has them for around $14 and they're well worth the money.

It was time to make some more cookies for the cookie jar.  This time: peanut butter cookies and chocolate chip peanut butter cookies from America's Test Kitchen. 
Very moist and yum. I just stirred some semi-sweet chocolate chips in half of the dough for a variation.  That seemed to be the favorite in the house.
Printer-ready recipe for Peanut Butter Cookies here.

Saturday night Chuck and I got in the kitchen.  The menu: tacos, tex-mex rice and refried beans.  Sounds simple enough but we were making everything from scratch including the taco shells. 

I have never had a taco so good in my life.  The kids are still talking about how good they were.  You would think that a taco is a taco is a taco.  Not true.  These far exceeded all other tacos.  They can also be made low calorie/fat by using extra-lean ground meat. America's Test Kitchen did it again.  These are awesome.
The best I've ever had.  Do yourself a favor and make these.  You won't be sorry and they are easy.

I also made my own taco shells.  It's a little extra effort but totally worth it.
Crunchy and full of flavor.

Printer-ready recipe for tacos and shells here.

Better than any Mexican Rice I've had at a restaurant.  This would be wicked good in a burrito.

You want this.
Printer-ready recipe for Tex-Mex Rice here.

It's so easy to open a can of refried beans and heat but the very little effort required to make these is worth it.  They are terrific.  It starts with 3 cans of beans so it's not like you have to cook beans all day.  Thanks America's Test Kitchen! Not high in calories or fat.
Printer-ready recipe for Refried Beans here.

And what's a Tex-Mex dinner without margaritas?  Hey, we'd been working hard in the kitchen. We deserved a little treat.  This recipe comes to you courtesy of Cook's Illustrated.  It uses top shelf tequila, triple sec and fresh lime and lemon juices.

Well, bonjour, margarita! Welcome to my home.
These are very similar to ones I used to make.  Mine are much simpler: mix equal parts good tequila, Rose's Lime Juice, and triple sec (or grand marnier) over ice, shake, strain, serve.  Mine taste almost as good and pack the same punch.  Just a word of caution: these sneak up on you.  Very strong.  You've been warned. :)
Printer-ready recipe for Fresh Margaritas here.

Side note: Saturday morning started bright and early with Chuck and I going to a "qualifier" shooting match.  He had to shoot three different test scenarios at the gun range to see what category he would be classified in his IDPA matches (marksman, sharpshooter, expert, master).  He did fantastic.  This was his first time to qualify and he was ranked as an expert. That's just one step below master.  Yes, I'm very proud of my macho gun-carrying man. :)

Sunday we slept in and then started making breakfast.  Rachel made some chocolate chip pancakes because she had a craving for some.

Chuck and I worked on something that we haven't made in over 10 years: armadillo eggs. What?  You didn't know that armadillos lay eggs? Because they don't. :)

I used to make these years ago every week and sell them at the engineering firm where Chuck worked.  I got $.75 each for them and they always sold out.

If an armadillo laid eggs, this is what it would look like.
Pickled jalapeno stuffed with cheese wrapped in hot sausage wrapped in biscuit dough. Super yum.
Printer-ready recipe for Armadillo Eggs here.

Last night I made some grilled chicken breasts stuffed with fontina and prosciutto.  It was just ok so I didn't post a recipe.  Plus I forgot to take a picture.  Oops.

Fall is in the air, people.  Yesterday we actually had a cool breeze and the evening was so perfect that Chuck and I sat outside sipping on adult beverages while the chicken grilled.  There is something very soothing about sitting around a fire and drinking a rita while a cool breeze blows after a hard day's work.  A great way to end the weekend.

It's a Monday which means lots of school work, 15 minutes of cleaning house together, washing clothes, and cooking dinner.  After dinner we're all going for a nice, long walk in the cool evening.  I'm looking forward to it.

Hope your weekend was terrific.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Blueberry Cobbler

I've made a lot of things in my days (mistakes, bad choices, etc) but never a blueberry cobbler.  I don't know.  I get it stuck in my head that the only kind of cobbler is peach or blackberry.  And they always had a cake-like topping that called for 1 whole stick of melted butter.  I rarely made them.  They were sufficient as dessert but nothing worth bragging about.

In case you haven't noticed, I've become a little obsessed with Cook's Illustrated/America's Test Kitchen/Cook's Country recipes.  It is so nice to pick up a recipe and know from the start that it's going to turn out terrific.  I have several cookbooks that have a 70% success ratio.  That's about top of the line.  Some are 50/50 and others are worse.  With most cookbooks you want to try a recipe in advance before cooking it for company.  That's just not the case with CI/ATK/CC.  Some recipes they've made over 100 times until they got it perfect.  I like that kind of guarantee.

My local grocery store had blueberries on sale so it was a perfect time to try out something that used fresh blueberries.  The Holy Grail of Blueberry Cobblers was right there in my favorite cookbook.
Beautiful.  The vibrant colors of the berries did not come through in the photo.
It's so simple.  Your kids could do this.  It's also a wee bit messy.  The blueberries are tossed with some cornstarch, sugar, lemon juice and zest.  They are baked in a pie pan topped with some drop biscuit dough that has been dusted with cinnamon sugar.  The lemon really adds a nice flavor the berries.

Stalactites of blueberry goodness.  This must be baked on a baking sheet.
After it comes out of the oven, let it cool down for a while then serve with Blue Bell Vanilla Bean ice cream.
Chuck's man-sized serving.
A very simple recipe that tastes like something out of a fine restaurant.  Little effort, great results.

Printer ready recipe for Blueberry Cobbler here.

I love reading about the science behind the recipes at America's Test Kitchen.  Experiments, science, trial/error....I love it all.  I want to be a scientist when I grow up. 

Maybe that's why I love screwing around experimenting with my own life. I like to compare calorie burns for various exercises.  See what my body does when I restrict calories or raise them.  What happens when I eat low carb?  Low calorie?  High fiber? etc.

My next self experiment: lose weight while eating killer food.  Can it be done?  Stay tuned for the continuing saga of me verses the swimsuit. :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Happy First Day of Fall!

Happy First Day of Fall to all of my peeps in the Northern Hemisphere!  We could use some cool fall temperatures in southern Texas. 

What better way to celebrate fall than with Beef Goulash?  Yum.
Terrific over buttery egg noodles.

I've made goulash before and was never a big fan. This recipe, however, was quite different.  It comes from the folks at America's Test Kitchen so you know it's good.

It's a simple process of browning the meat and onions, stirring in some broth and seasonings, then cooking in the oven for a couple of hours.  You'll also stir in some bell peppers during the cooking time.  Serve over noodles and you're done.  It can be made up to 3 days in advance then just reheated before you stir in the sour cream in step 5 of the recipe.

Make this.  You won't be sorry.

Printer ready version of recipe here.
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Tuesday I went to the doctor's office bright and early to get some blood work done.  I had to fast.  I almost messed up by eating an Altoid mint on the way.
My doc has a lab in his office because he didn't like the way other labs did their tests. 

Have I told you that I hate needles?  I passed out once and hit my head on a sink after giving a blood sample.  Another time I got so worked up that when the nurse put the needle in the arm I gave her a blood fountain in the face. Yeah.

I sit down at the little desk and watch as the nurse gets out 6 vials for the samples.  I say, "Ha, ha.  Are all of those for me?"  Her answer: "Yes, but not all at once." (Picture a woman with a Jamaican accent saying it.)

She takes my blood (3 vials) and I got to my happy place in my head (swimming in the Frio River in the hill country).  My happy place is interrupted when the nurse says, in her Jamaican accent, "What?  You don't want to give my any more blood?"  Apparently my veins had called in a retreat or something.

Then I'm given a bottle of some sort of nasty fruit punch.  Bleck!  She tells me to drink it within 5 minutes.  I consider it a challenge and get it down within 1 minute. Ha!  She was surprised and I think maybe a little impressed.  Maybe not.  She tells me (again with the accent), "Now, you are going to feel a little sick in the tummy.  If you trow up you have to come back again to do the test later. Test is over now.  So you go sit in the waiting room and I'll come get you in an hour."

She wasn't joking.  After a while I start feeling mighty queasy.  Is it from the fruit punch or the thought of giving 3 more vials of blood. Geez, I'd make a terrible vampire. 

I keep the stuff down and give the blood (happy place, happy place, happy place) and leave.  Now I await the results.

While this is all going on, Charlie is at home sick on the couch.  He has a fever, poor guy.  But Rachel played nurse and took care of him.  The good kind of nurse who doesn't take your blood.  The kind that gives you crushed ice in your water.

Nothing much more going on in the Happy Texan household.  I was busy the entire day yesterday and when I finally went to bed I slipped into a mini-coma. Now, I'm sipping on a Rock Star and getting ready to start another busy day.

Speaking of Rock Star, Kroger had their individual cans on sale for $1 each last week.  That's half off!  I cleared them out.  Bought them all.  Then I went back a couple of days later and cleared off the shelves again.  I've got quite the stockpile in my pantry now. :)

Have a wonderful first day of fall.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Ribs, For Her Pleasure

Weekends have become a time of cooking and great family time together.  Chuck has been my kitchen buddy for the past few weekends and I have really enjoyed it.  This weekend, however, his shoulder was bothering him more than usual so I was by myself in the kitchen.  I sure missed my buddy but it was fun making good victuals (or is it vittles?) for him.

Friday Rachel and I visited a restaurant supply store.  Wow! I've never been to one of these places before and was surprised at the sizes of the equipment for sale.  They had mixers that sat on the floor and were as tall as Charlie.  Everything from cotton candy machines to huge griddles were sold here.  I went specifically looking for a Victorinox 8" chef's knife that was recommended by the folks at America's Test Kitchen.  The supply store had them on sale for $25!  Woohoo! Score!  I was looking for the Fibrox handle but the Microban handles were on sale.  Even better.  I also got a blade guard to keep it safe.
The blade is so sharp.  I can't believe I've waited so long to get a good knife.  It makes all the difference.

With new toy in hand, it was time to crank out some good eatin'.
On the Menu: Memphis-Style Barbecued Spareribs, Barbecued Baked Beans, Creamy Macaroni 'N' Cheese

The ribs: I used St. Louis spareribs which are different than a regular slab of spareribs because they've had the belly, skirt meat and excess cartilage removed.  Get two of those slabs, make a seasoning rub and massage them to get them relaxed for the adventure.
The recipe uses your grill to smoke the ribs.  I have an electric smoker so I used that.  After the ribs have been kissed by the smoke and basted a couple of time with an apple juice/vinegar mix, you transfer them to a 300 degree oven where they continue to cook.  Baste them a couple of more times and they're done.  Super easy.
Let the ribs rest tented under some foil for 15 minutes before cutting.

Cut ribs between the bones and serve.  No barbecue sauce necessary.
Charlie, my 10 year old son, is always the last to finish his dinner.  He talks nonstop.  This night was different.  As soon as I set those ribs down he started munching.  No yapping.  Just silence and eating.  A first in this house.

Nom, Nom, Nom
We have a rating system in our house for dinners, 5 stars being the best.  The ribs were definitely 5 stars.
What the critics are saying:
Charlie: Nom, nom, nom.
Rachel: These are so good.
Chuck: These are seriously the best ribs I've ever eaten. Ever.

We have a winner!  These had a nice bark to them and the spicy rub penetrated all the way into the meat. These really were the best ribs I've ever had.

I think the aftermath proves how much everyone liked them.
Aftermath. There were no survivors.
You can make these on a charcoal or gas grill or an electric smoker.
Print ready recipe here for Memphis-Style Ribs.

While the ribs were on the smoker, it started raining, complete with thunder and winds.  We opened the doors and windows.  The sound of the rain and light thunder, the breeze blowing through the house, the faint smell of smoke from the ribs.....it was pretty much a perfect day.

Side dishes included barbecued baked beans and stovetop mac 'n' cheese.

The beans were easy but time-consuming.  Cook some chopped bacon and onion on the stovetop.  Stir in the rest of the ingredients, bring to a boil and put in oven to finish cooking, stirring every hour.  When the mixture gets syrupy consistency, serve.  That's it.  Delicious.  Charlie hates beans and gave it 4 stars so that's saying a lot.
Barbecued Baked Beans
Print ready recipe here for barbecued baked beans.

The mac 'n' cheese took no more time than making boxed mac 'n' cheese but this was way better. Cook the macaroni noodles, drain, then stir in butter to melt.  Pour in a mixture of evaporated milk, eggs, dry mustard, Tabasco, and cheddar cheese. Cook over low heat, stirring, until incorporated. Add a little more milk and cheddar, stir until cheese is melted, season with salt and pepper, serve.  That's it.  VERY creamy.  I'd probably add more noodles to the recipe next time.
Yummy, creamy mac 'n' cheese in very little time.
Print ready recipe here for Stovetop Macaroni 'N' Cheese.

Great dinner at a fraction of the cost of what it would cost to eat out.  Plus I had enough leftovers to make 2 lunches for Chuck.

I honestly wish you could have been here to enjoy it with me.  It was too good to keep to ourselves.  But somehow we did. :)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Indian Feast: Tikka Masala, Saag Paneer, Naan bread, and Kheer

This past weekend I got to spend some much needed time with the family.  I had my little scare going on which really made me aware of how precious each day is.  Fortunately, it turned out to be nothing but I'm glad that I had the reminder to be thankful for every day.

Part of the weekend included getting in the kitchen with Chuck.  He has discovered the joys of cooking and we have been having a lot of fun in the kitchen.  It's so nice to hear him say (even after a long day at work), "I want to help with dinner tonight."  I love it!

The menu for our Indian dinner was tikka masala over rice pilaf, saag paneer, hot naan bread, and a delicious kheer for dessert.  We basically made our favorite things from our favorite Indian restaurant.

I have a recipe from America's Test Kitchen for Tikka Masala that is listed as one of their "Best-Ever Recipes."  They weren't kidding! Oh, it's so good.  Charlie had two servings!
And the rice pilaf turned out perfect.  So much flavor.
You have got to try this tikka masala.  The print ready version of recipe is here.

The rice pilaf may seem like a lot of work for something you're just going to cover up but it's worth the little extra effort.  And it's not difficult at all.  The print ready version of recipe is here.

Chuck worked on the tikka masala while I worked on the saag paneer which is a spinach dish full of spice and bits of paneer cheese.  The cheese really does not have a suitable substitute.  I called around and found some at a local Whole Foods.  You could probably find a recipe for the paneer online.
It may not look very tasty but trust me, it is. Yum! The saag paneer print ready version recipe is here.

The naan bread was the easiest thing to make: just go to your local grocery store, buy some, heat.  I heated mine over an oven flame on the stove and spread the top with a little melted butter.  We just passed it around and tore off pieces.  I think this was Charlie's favorite.

Now my favorite part: kheer.  I've never had a version that wasn't a little runny so don't be put off by the picture.  It's a refreshing dessert that tastes so good it will curl your toes.

Chuck and I made this the night before so we could save on prep work the night of the dinner. 

The recipe calls for basmati rice.  I usually use Texmati brand but I had read that the very best was an aged basmati from India.  It had longer grains and better flavor.  It wasn't difficult to find the Indian basmati.  They had it at my local HEB grocery store with the other rices.
There really is a big difference. This is my first time to ever buy a bag of rice so large that it required handles.

Another ingredient in the kheer that my favorite Indian restaurant uses is called green cardamom pods. I did not think I would be able to find any but I saw that Whole Foods sold it in bulk so I could buy exactly how much I wanted.  The smell of these little pods is intoxicating.  Hard to describe but it's floral.  You'll just have to smell them.
Inside the pods are little black seeds.  I like to smash the pods with the side of a knife and add them to the kheer.  At the end of cooking I scrape out the seeds into the kheer and remove the green pods.  But do it however you prefer.  Just try it.  I served mine in wine glasses for a little dazzle.
The green is a chopped pistachio and the black is a little cardamom seed.  You get a burst of floral flavor when you bit into one.
Kheer print ready version of recipe is here.

After dinner we sat around grinning like Cheshire cats.  One of the best dinners we've ever made.
-----------------------------

And now that I have had my little scare resolved, life can get back to normal (whatever normal is).

Chuck and I were planning on going for a long walk this evening and I expect we'll go for a few more hikes at a park this weekend.  I'm easing back into running.  I did talk to the doctor about my fingers and hips hurting.  He seemed more concerned about the fingers but we're taking it all one step at a time.  First I have to give a blood sample next week then discuss everything else.

Speaking of walking, I saw this morning that Wynona Judd has lost 60 pounds just by walking.  Her husband was arrested for sexual battery of a child and their marriage dissolved after that.  She was (understandably) upset and went for walks in the woods.  Ha, that's exactly what I like to do when I'm upset!  She must have taken quite a few of those walks because now she has lost a lot of weight.  She said she discovered that she enjoyed walking.  Good for her!  It's always good to see people succeed, especially after something as traumatic as a divorce from a pervert.

I don't have 60 pounds to lose but I sure wouldn't mind dropping about 40 or 50.  And so I'll be walking.  Hopefully I'll be running again soon!  One thing is for sure: I'll be enjoying life and spending time with my sweet hubby in the kitchen.  Wish y'all could join me. :)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Doctor Visit Results

Thank you all for the well wishes and thoughts.  It really does mean a lot to me.

This morning Chuck and I went to the doctor together.  He has learned more than he ever wanted to know about female anatomy and the workings of it during these past few days. :)

I haven't been for a lady checkup in 10 years.  I know!  Way too long to wait.  Dr. Wheeler remembered me.  I love this guy.  He's hilarious.  Very down to earth. Plus we had a baby together: he delivered Charlie.  I had to fill out a form asking all kinds of questions including ethnicity ("Texan" was my answer which he thought was funny) and occupation ("Trophy Wife" of course).

He did an unltrasound on me and the uterus and ovaries look fine.  No growths.  Nothing.  He diagnosed my growth as a nabothian cyst which sounds like an evil character in a Star Wars movie. "Beware of the nabothian cyst, young Skywalker."

I have to go back tomorrow for bloodwork and he wants to discuss my weight.  Oh come on!  I've lost weight!  but I weigh more than when he saw me last. We talked about my headaches, aches and pains, painful cramps, lethargy, etc.  He briefly mentioned insulin resistance (I have not consulted Dr Google about that yet).  So everything looks ok.  Blood pressure was a little high but I was also a nervous wreck. 

Big sigh of relief!  I won't lie to you...my mind immediately went to worst case scenario when I found the growth.  I had a few stressful moments over the weekend.  My mind was not on it when Chuck and I spent time cooking together.  We made a fantastic Indian dinner: tikka masala, saag paneer, naan bread and kheer.  Recipes coming soon.

So back to life and walking/running and being a trophy wife.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Update

Thank you so much for your well wishes.  It really is appreciated to have people to lean on.  I felt very uncomfortable sharing such personal info but this blog is my place to share the good times and the bad.  The things I'd rather hide and the things I want to shout to the world.

Good news: the growth is gone.  Soooo....maybe fibroid?  I don't know.  I'm still going to the doctor on Wednesday but I feel like a great weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I can get back to my normally scheduled life.  Whew!

Talk to y'all next week. :)

Friday, September 10, 2010

My Medical Scare

Yesterday I was reflecting on how precious life is and how I need to focus on my health.  Well, I had yet another reminder last night.

WARNING: I'm gonna talk about female stuff so avert your eyes if you'd rather not read.




Last night I found a grape sized growth on my cervix.  I think it's actually coming out of my uterus.  I'm scared.  There is no pain associated with it but I've had very heavy bleeding during my cycle along with a lot of tissue shed during the process for the past few months.  Headaches and bad cramps come along as well.

I thought it was getting close to that time because the past couple of days I've had a bad headache and been very spaced out.  I've had trouble concentrating and a few cramps and that usually signals my visitor.  But nothing much happened.  And still hasn't.

After a long night of restless sleep, I called the doctor's office as soon as they opened but they can't see me today.  My appointment is Wednesday at 10am.  It is going to be hard to wait that long.

So, I may not be around here much this weekend because I've had another reminder of how precious my life is and I want to spend every minute of it with my family.

Sorry, not trying to scare anyone.  I just needed to get this off my chest.

Some good news: I did my strength training yesterday and I am so sore today!  Today I'm going to go for a nice walk which is part of my weight loss schedule from the running book. 

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Running on Fear

It's hard for me to know where to even start this post.  My mind is "running" in several different directions so please excuse tangents and paragraphs that don't seem to belong. 

This week there have been so many reminders of how important health is. I've read about the death of Garrett, a fellow blogger who died at the way-too-young age of 28.  A tragedy.  Marisa and her daughters witnessed the death of a woman at a restaurant.  A man I know was diagnosed with diabetes.

There are many things that motivate a person to seek a healthy life.  What got me going on this journey was vanity, plain and simple.  I wish I could say it was something as noble as health but I wanted to look good. 

I started to focus on health reasons after my heart started skipping beats.  I know there is a fancy medical name for it but I can't remember what it is but it feels like my heart skips beats.  It usually does it during times of stress.  Don't worry.  I've gone to the ER for it before because I was scared and it had continued for hours.  I was hooked up to all kinds of fun (and expensive) equipment and was told that I should lay off the caffeine and/or I was involved in a stressful situation.  Other than that, I was perfectly fine.  Still, it's not cool to have your heart do funky things.

After losing a few pounds, my vanity got a little high five when I was able to get some smaller clothes and could do the before and after shots and actually see some results.  When I ran/walked/crawled through my first 5K it gave my healthy ambition side a big high five.  Eventually I ran my first mile.  Then my first two miles.

Running brought new challenges. At first I couldn't breathe.  I literally could not breathe.  It was the hardest thing I've ever tried to do.  Every one says, "Keep trying.  You'll do it eventually."  I didn't believe them but I kept trying and I finally did do it.  After conquering the mental and physical challenge of running, I felt like I could do anything.

What never got easier with running is the pain I would suffer afterwards.  Especially after a race.  I use the term "race" loosely because I wasn't really racing anyone.  I was just trying to finish!  Anyway, after running my hips would scream.  I just guessed this was part of running and you had to get used to it or it would eventually go away.  It didn't.  It actually seemed to get worse.

During the summer I quit running because of the hips and the heat.  But then I felt a breeze outside and could feel fall coming.  It got me in the mood to try again.  And I've been easing in to it.  I'm afraid of doing anything that would cause an injury or make my hips hurt again.  I've been re-reading Running for Mortals by John Bingham and using the Weight Loss Phase I program in the back of the book.  It starts out really slow with walking and strength training (today is a strength training day).

Last night my mom calls while I'm making dinner after a long day of being on the road with the kids playing taxi.  I feel bad: I haven't called her in a few days.  We chat for a little then she tells me that she hasn't been well for over a week.  Crap!  How long has it been since I called?! (Bad daughter award, right here)  It seems that she has arthritis in her hips that has been flaring up and she has had trouble walking.  So much trouble that she can barely get to another room.  So bad that my dad actually went out to pick up dinner last night.  My dad (I love him to death) does not do things like that.  He's more of a "bring me my dinner and it better be fixed the way I like it" kind of guy.  This is bad.  My mom can't take pain killers because she's allergic to all (or most) of them.  She almost died on the operating table having my brother because of the anesthesia.  I feel helpless.  And scared.

I feel a little selfish but when she was telling me about her hips I thought about my own hip problems.  It scares the snot out of me.  I've been having some soreness in the joints of my fingers too.  I can't have these problems.  I'm young, damn it!  And if I ignore them they'll go away, right?  Or maybe if I lose more weight I won't get arthritis in my hips?

With the death stories and health scares going on around me this week, it makes me more determined to get my butt in shape.  I'm not sure what is a better motivator now: vanity or health.  This week it's health.  After I lose another size it might be vanity again. Hey, whatever works.

Along with all of the fears I'm also tossing in another variable to play with: eating without counting calories.  I love knowing numbers so this is tough.  But I also know I don't want to have to be number obsessive the rest of my life.  I want to eat without freaking out: "Oh my god!  Was that low fat or fat free cheese because I think there is a 20 calorie difference!!! Ahhhhh!"  No.  I don't want that.  Peace. Balance. Moderation.  That's what I want.  But it's a learning process.

With all of this going on in my noggin, I go forth.  Eating good food without worry.  Trying to learn to run without pain. Finding motivation within myself to do things I may not want to do (walk or run in the heat or cold when I'd rather curl up with a good book).  This isn't easy but it's worth it because I'm worth it.  Life is worth it.
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On a happier and lighter note, I took Rachel to her biology class yesterday so Charlie and I had two hours to kill.  Driving back home is not an option because it takes almost an hour to get back home.  So we went to Borders book store.  I browsed through the books and found several I was sure that I couldn't live without.  I grabbed a few and found a seat.  Charlie found a rubber chicken that, when pressed, begins to lay a squishy egg out of its rear that quickly gets sucked back into the chicken when you release pressure.

I'm happily flipping through my books while Charlie makes the chicken lay its egg several times.  Then the chicken's butt explodes right in his face.  He just stared at me without an expression on his face.  I don't think he knew how to react.  Fake chicken butt juice dripped off his face.  He placed the chicken on the table (who probably preferred death than laying the same egg over and over) and walked calmly to the bathroom to clean up.  Gross!!!  Cleaned kid comes back and we resume life as if nothing happened.

I did find a book I had to have: Restaurant Favorites at Home by the editors of Cook's Illustrated.  It was only $4.99!!  Regular $29.95.  With a buy like that I couldn't just leave it at the store even if funds are running on the leaner side.  But when I went to the cashier and gave him by Borders Reward card the book was on sale even more.  I walked out of there paying only $2.14 for that book!  I am so thrilled to find such a bargain that I'm keeping the receipt in the book as a reminder of just how awesome of a deal I got.  Plus it's the Cook's Illustrated people so I know everything is going to be awesome.  And these aren't the fast-food copy cat restaurant recipes.  These are places without kids' menus!  The places we rarely get to visit. :)  Good day.  Life is good.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Deviled Eggs; The Best Tuna Salad

A few days ago I had a craving for some deviled eggs.  Not sure why because I'm not a big deviled egg fan.  But I found a recipe in my "Cooking Bible" and they were so quick and easy that I made a batch.  They were great!  They also make a great little snack when you're not starving but you need a little something to keep you going.

The method of boiling the eggs will give you perfect eggs every single time. 
Place 7 eggs in a saucepan; cover with water to an inch over the egg.  Bring to a boil over high heat.. Remove pan from the heat, cover, and let sit for 10 minutes.  Fill a bowl with cold water and 14 (1 tray) of ice cubes. Transfer the eggs to the cold water and let sit for 5 minutes.  Peel.

YUM!!
These are great and very easy.
PRINTER READY COPY OF RECIPE HERE.

And just for fun, Rachel decided to dress up her breakfast one morning.  Breakfast: good for us; bad for eggs.

For our camping trip I made a recipe from Cook's Country magazine (by the same people of America's Test Kitchens) for, what they called, The Best Tuna Salad.  Was it?  I thought it was fantastic but Chuck raved and raved about it.  He said it really was the best tuna salad he had ever tasted.  Of course, my kids wouldn't touch the stuff.
And on homemade bread it is pretty hard to beat.  This will definitely be a staple around here.
PRINTER READY COPY OF RECIPE HERE.

You may notice that the recipe calls for onions.  I am not a fan of onions but I went with the recipe this time.  It is great and you never taste the onion and there are no crunchy onion bits in it.
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My Life with the Cat: So the kitten is still here.  I'm entertaining the idea of letting it stay even though we already have a zoo and the idea of one more animal in the house does not thrill me.  But it is cute and the kids are having so much fun with it.  It really is cute.

Exercise: yesterday we had Tropical Storm Hermine visiting.  It brought flood warnings and tornado warnings.  Fun, fun, fun.  I do enjoy a good storm but it made going outside for my exercise time a little difficult.  I thought the worst of it had passed once so I went outside to bring in the trash can (trash days: Tuesday and Friday) and it started pouring on me again.  I've run/walked in the rain before but there was some serious lightning with this storm.  I didn't want to end up an extra-crispy jogger so I stayed in.

Exercise consisted of 40 minutes of dancing to Just Dance.  I love this game.  It gets my heart pumping and a good sweat going but it's so much fun that it doesn't feel like exercise.  It's hard not to be in a good mood while dancing to "Groove is in the Heart."  And you can't help but laugh when busting a move to "You Can't Touch This."

Wednesday I am playing taxi to the kids all day.  Literally all day.  From 11:30am-6:00pm.  Biology labs, art lessons, and everything in between.  They're worth it though. :)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Kitten, The Snake Bite and the Outlaw Dinner

What a weekend!  It's good to be back home but it was difficult to leave camping behind.  We haven't been since early spring.  Waaaayyyy too long between trips.  I forgot how much I love camping with the family.

Thursday Chuck and I went to storage to get the travel trailer.  As soon as I hopped out of the truck I could hear a kitten mewing its heart out.  It was in the mid-90s that day and this storage is in the middle of nowhere.  I located the kitten.  Poor guy was wedged up inside the undercarriage of a van.  I got the little kitten out after a few scratches to the arm.  Poor baby was scared and skinny.

I'm not a cat person.  I'm more of a bird and reptile lady.  But I couldn't just leave it there to die.  So Chuck and I took the calico home with us.  My in-laws graciously agreed to watch it while we were gone on our trip.  I was hoping they would decide to keep it but no such luck.  In the meantime I have kids begging me the whole trip to keep this kitten.  Do you know anyone who wants a sweet, calico kitten?

It really is cute.  I'm worried about it clawing up the furniture.  It already knows how to use the litter box and follows the kids around everywhere. 
Just one more claw mark on my leather sofa and it's outta here.  But for now it has a place to stay.

We were finally on our way to Stephen F. Austin State Park.  Of course, it started to pour rain while we were setting up but you won't see Chuck nor I complaining when it comes to camping. We got everything set up and relaxed inside the trailer as the storm continued outside.  I made hot dogs in a skillet inside and every one was happy.

Every day we hiked between 2 and 2.5 miles.  And almost every day we had a good, strong thunderstorm blow in that kept the temperatures down.  It was a perfect trip.

Our campsite had plenty of shade and several types of birds that visited daily.
The trails were pretty and shaded.

Charlie discovered a cottonmouth along one trail.  Fortunately, these snakes are not very aggressive though they are venomous.
We also discovered a skink that had a tick on it.  Poor guy wasn't feeling well so we caught him and removed his tick.
Deer were everywhere!

                   
On one hike, Rachel and I were ahead and came to a bridge.  I saw a ribbon snake and caught it.  The thing bit me!  I screamed a little and went after it again when I realized that the bite was absolutely painless.  When I caught it it bit me again.  This time its teeth got stuck on my thumb but it never hurt because the teeth are so tiny.  Here's a picture of Charlie holding the subdued serpent.
It was such a relaxing trip.  Even Spike, our bearded dragon, got in on some R&R on the hammock with Rachel.
Friday night Rachel and I were the camp cooks chefs.  I got the grill going without any problem using a chimney charcoal starter.  We made some fantastic Barbecued Dry-Rubbed Chicken and Grilled Corn with Spicy Chili Butter.  I can't wait to make them again.  The recipe for the chicken called for bone-in, skin-on chicken but all I had were boneless skinless and it still turned out terrific. The dry rub turns into a glaze that bastes the chicken. It really is good.
And the grilled corn was so great I could have made a meal just off of it.  This is one of those "must try" recipes.  It's fast and easy too.
Printer ready recipe of Barbecued Dry-Rub Chicken.

Printer ready recipe for Grilled Corn with Spicy Chili Butter.

Saturday night was Chuck's turn to cook.  We noticed when we checked in to the park that there is a burn ban.  We saw a sign that said no hardwood fires. "Great," we thought. "We're going to use charcoal so we won't need a hardwood fire."  The kids were disappointed because we love sitting around the campfire but they soon got over it.

Saturday Chuck had just poured the hot coals into our grill when a park ranger stopped by to tell us to put out our fire because of the burn ban.  Chuck says, "What am I supposed to do?  I have 4 steaks inside that I need to cook."  The guy has the nerve to tell Chuck to go to Wal Mart and buy a propane grill.  Um, no thanks.

It turns out that the judge set the burn ban on Wednesday before they got three days of rain.  The judge was off for the holiday so the decision could not be reversed.  Plus, they only meet once a week to make life or death decisions.

The ranger tells Chuck to put out the fire and leaves.  In the meantime, I rush inside and grab the steaks to throw on the grill.  Chuck and I grill the steaks and the potato packs I had prepared.  Chuck turns the steaks and I keep a watch for the park ranger.  It felt so bad and yet exhilarating to be breaking the law.  A stupid law!  It had just poured on us a couple of hours earlier!

We cooked our Outlaw Dinner giggling and complaining about the injustice done to us ("This is Texas, for crying out loud!  You're going to tell me we can't grill on Labor Day weekend?! Hogwash!").  I don't know if it was the thrill or just a darn good recipe but I can't remember ever having a steak dinner that was as good as that one.  Our nerves were so worked up that I forgot to take a picture but the memory of that dinner lives on.  We have now named our little steak and hobo potato pack dinner the Outlaw Dinner.  I think it will become a staple on our camping menu.


Part of the relaxation of camping is getting to read in a stress free environment.  I started reading John Bingham's Running for Mortals. John Bingham is known as "The Penguin."  He's in no hurry.  Just enjoying the run.  I'm starting out slow again because I'm scared to death of injuring myself.  My hips have been given me all kinds of hell when it comes to running.  I'm going to follow the weight loss schedule phase I in the back of the book.  There's a very good chance I won't be ready in time of the Galveston Seawall Half Marathon but at least I'll be working my way back to running.  It's just not worth it if I'm in pain.

I was able to get a good start on the routine over the weekend while camping.  I walked a lot and enjoyed every bit of it.  Friday my hips were bothering me but I'm not sure if it was because of bike riding, walking or the weather changes.  And today it's raining like crazy here (complete with tornado warnings and flash floods) so I might just bring the exercise indoors.  With the fall weather coming, it won't fee like torture to hit the streets again.
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And last, but not least, Kristen at Kreating Kristen asked me and a few other bloggers some questions.  I'm supposed to answer them then create my own questions to ask a few of you guys.  I love these things.  I can be nosy and get away with it. :)  So here it goes:

1. Health issues aside, what is your biggest motivation to lose weight?
Clothes, my husband, and the desire to do fun things.  I want to wear cute clothes without being self conscious.  I want to live the longest life possible with Chuck.  I also want to live this life to the fullest.  No limitations.  I want to be able to hike long distances, carry heavy backpacks, paddle, etc.  I don't want to have to say, "Gosh, I'd love to hike the Grand Canyon rim to rim but I'm just not in shape enough to do it." I don't want to be dependant on pills as I get older.


2. Does you family/spouse fully support your weight loss efforts or do-es s/he-they unknowingly (or even knowingly) sabotage you?
My family supports everything I do. Chuck hates to see me tired in the evenings so sometimes he suggests going out to eat but it's never an effort to sabotage me.  Besides, no food is off limits to me.  I just try to eat moderately.  Ok, maybe it wouldn't be a good idea for me to belly up to a tub of Crisco but other foods are ok.

3. What is one thing in life (people and things like air, water and food excluded) that you could not live without?
My family.  I really am not sure that I could live without my husband. 
I also need camping trips.  They are my way of escaping from all of the pressures of life.  When I camp, I am totally unplugged from everything and can just relax.  It's wonderful.
Oh, and brownies.  I don't want to live without brownies. :)

4. If you HAD to choose (not could choose- but HAD to) to be someone famous, who would you choose?
Oh gee.  That's a tough one because I do not want to be famous and I like being me.  But if I have to choose I guess I'd say Scarlett Johansson.  I'd have a kick ass body and be rich.  I'd quit working, invest my money, and have fun travelling with my family.

5. What (from the collar bones down) is your favorite part of your current body (wherever you may be in your weight loss journey)? Another tough question.  OK, I guess my legs.  They're not perfect but I like them.  They get me around.

6. What is a dirty little habit/secret that you have? (besides eating...)  How dirty?  My shower really needs to be cleaned.  That's pretty dirty.  I guess that's not what the question is asking.  I also enjoy squirt cheese (you know...the stuff in the can) on a Ritz cracker from time to time. 
Chuck and I take vodka shots in the evening to toast a particularly good weekend or day.

Now I have to make up some questions and get your answers.  I'm so terrible at this but here it goes.

1.  What was the catalyst that made you decide to lose weight/get in shape?

2.  What do you like best about yourself? (could be a physical trait or a character quality)

3.  What is your main goal with weight loss/getting in shape?

4.  What rejuvenates you?  In other words, what do you do to recharge your batteries? Relax?

5.  What has been your greatest accomplishment so far in your life?

6.  For fun, what is your favorite food?

TAG, you're it. :)

1. Shelley at My Journey to Fit
2. Marisa at Loser for Life
3. Darcy at My Road to Weight Loss
4. Anne at Carb Tripper
5.  Biggest Diabetic Loser
6. Amanda at Get to Goal
7. Mae Flowers at A Journey to Thin